In a rather spectacular display of irony earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden blasted the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which seeks to dramatically reduce federal spending, as a “contrary to the social doctrine” taught by the Catholic Church to which he belongs.That’s a gross oversimplification – you can see Ryan (who is also Catholic) defend his budget’s Catholic principles here, but the short version is that the faith’s call to care for the needy is not a mandate to support any specific government method of delivering aid. True Christian charity is giving your own time and money to a cause, not just casting a vote to have someone else handle it.But the real kicker, as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey notes, is that this lecture on how to be a good Catholic politician is coming from someone who rejects his church’s call to recognize and protect life in the womb – an imperative which is far less ambiguous than Biden’s conception of social justice. Catholicism requires believers to support federal funding for specific government programs, but not legal protection for the most defenseless of God’s children?
We’re currently witnessing the death throes of Rick Perry’s campaign. He finished fifth in Iowa, sixth in New Hampshire, and is currently polling fifth in South Carolina, where his fans have placed their hope for a turnaround. He’s in sixth in Florida, and fifth place nationally.
Perry and Gingrich’s demagoguery has been fiercely condemned by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Jim DeMint, the American Spectator, National Review, Reason, the Weekly Standard, Human Events, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, Commentary, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Michelle Malkin, Charles Krauthammer, Power Line’s John Hindraker, Ace of Spades, American Enterprise Institute, the Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, ex-Perry financial supporter Barry Wynn, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and PJ Media head Roger Simon, who very candidly apologized for having ever backed Perry, calling him “less qualified, it turns out, to be president than my dead grandmother.”
In other words, Rick Perry (and Newt Gingrich) has offended just about every corner of the Right—traditional and libertarian, moderate and hardcore, establishment and grassroots, commentator and activist, blogosphere and radio, Mitt fans, competitors, and haters alike.
Everyone, that is, except for RedState. Erick Erickson first said he didn’t mind the attacks (with Perry’s version “a bit more carefully nuanced” than Newt’s), then revised his argument to, yeah, but why did Romney support TARP? (Maybe for the same reason Perry did too, Erick?), and later wrote a post conceding the attack “has gotten out of hand”—while falsely claiming Bain got government bailouts and lying about what Perry’s critics were saying: “the sudden decision that it is verboten to level any attack at Romney because of Bain […] corporations should not be immune from criticism.”
The other front-pagers have rationalized the attack, mildly criticized it amidst teeth-gnashing about Romney’s general awfulness, and complained that it was distracting us from bashing Romney on healthcare. The strategy is simple: maintain the single-minded focus on taking down Romney at all costs, while discussing Perry as little as possible, refusing to give a moment’s consideration as to how Perry’s own words just might undermine RedState’s increasingly-hysterical insistence of Perry’s unique conservative authenticity.
The shameless Perry-whoring is pathetic enough, but recently the site jumped the shark past “pathetic” straight to “obscene” with Thomas Crown’s attack on National Review. After assuring us what a good friend he is to everyone at NR, he tells the magazine “you have lost your way” for no discernible sin other than preferring Romney to Perry:
You have alienated yourself from your readership and your movement […] You have forgotten that one of the founding creeds of the modern conservative movement is A Choice, Not An Echo […] You are supposed to be a beacon of what is best in us, not a reminder that some days, you just can’t win […] It’s a shame, and we’re all poorer for it. We’ll miss you, and hope you come back to us some day.
Nearly 2,000 words, and yet Crown can’t squeeze in the most important part of any argument: the facts to substantiate his thesis. All he has is a handful of lazy mischaracterizations of both the candidates and NR’s “Winnowing the Field” editorial:
Consider that in one fell swoop the publication managed to dismiss the longest-serving governor in the nation, with a record of conservative governance unmatched by any governor current or recent past [if you ignore the liberal parts of his governorship and his flip-flop record…oh, and how many of those Texas jobs went to illegals?], linking him unsubtly to a crank known for conspiracy theories and Ron Paul [nowhere in NR’s passage on Perry & Paul do the even remotely link the two, though since Crown raises the subject, Perry has praised Paul before]; praise Mitt Romney, who while apparently a model conservative (the sort who helps get abortion funding in state-run mandatory health insurance) [not true] has failed to seal the deal with conservatives for some unknowable reason; praise Jon Huntsman, whose entire campaign was a John Weaver special from tip to tail (this is not a compliment) [fair enough, but hypocritical: RedState’s had plenty of praise for Huntsman, too]; and praise Rick Santorum, one of the greatest (if dimmest) champions the pro-life movement has had, and who was so conservative he went to war for massive increases in federal spending almost every day, [that’s exaggerating a blemish on an otherwise-excellent conservative record] and whose greatest knock is not his loss to an anodyne nobody by a margin that made even the rest of 2006 look like a joke [also oversimplifying], but rather a lack of executive experience [Fair enough, but still hardly indicative of any problem at NR].
Crown’s fantasy of Perry support being some sort of conservative litmus test doesn’t hold up, and neither does the idea that National Review has sold out to Romney (a smear that RedState has peddled before). In fact, since Erick Erickson and Thomas Crown are so interested in which publications have put personality above principle, let’s do a little comparison:
At National Review, I can read Ramesh Ponnuru endorse Mitt Romney and Kathryn Lopez vouch for his pro-life sincerity, but I can also read Michael Walsh argue he’s “plainly not” the “candidate the hour calls for” and Katrina Trinko report on jobs lost due to Romneycare. I can read the Editors disqualify Newt Gingrich from consideration, but I can also read Thomas Sowell endorse Gingrich (twice) and Jonah Goldberg credit him as “the only candidate to actually move government rightward.” I can read Shannen Coffin criticize Rick Perry’s Gardasil mandate, but I can also read Henry Miller and John Graham defend it, as well as Christian Schnieder defend Perry on in-state tuition for illegals. I can read Quin Hillyer defend Rick Santorum’s small-government credentials, but I can also read Michael Tanner and Jonathan Adler blast his “big government conservatism.”
Can I read substantive defenses of Mitt Romney, or substantive criticisms of Rick Perry, at RedState? Only from the occasional diarist who hasn’t been driven away by the thought police. From Erickson or the team writers? Don’t count on it. As John Scotus documents, Erickson’s been shilling for Perry since Day 1. The RedState narrative is that Perry’s the only candidate who “authentically represents smaller government,” “by far, the greatest alpha male conservative in a generation,” and supporting anyone else would be settling. The dark side of Perry’s record was almost completely ignored. Romney, however, is routinely characterized as the worst thing to happen to the GOP since John Wilkes Booth. Why, nominating him would kill conservatism! Perry critics and Romney sympathizers are routinely harassed. Erickson repeated Perry’s dishonest attacks on Romney over education and imposing Romneycare nationally, and even calls Romney a bad Mormon.
National Review has an editorial leaning toward Romney; RedState toward Perry. There’s no shame in either, but while the former publication is a place where dissent thrives and every candidate is given equal fairness and scrutiny, the latter has dedicated itself fully to a biased image of their guy and their designated anti-Perry.
And yet, Thomas Crown has the nerve to lecture National Review about being unfair to candidates? RedState is the only major conservative venue not disgusted with Perry’s “vulture capitalism” smears, and yet National Review is the one somehow out of step with conservatism?
Which publication lost its way again?
We shouldn’t be surprised that the website that smeared Michelle Malkin for criticizing Rick Perry would conduct itself so dishonorably throughout this campaign. Until Eagle Publishing realizes how far one of their publications has fallen and replaces Erickson Erickson with someone committed to cleaning it up, whatever use RedState once was to the conservative movement will continue to be outweighed by the stench Erickson has allowed to permeate it.
In the meantime, I’m sticking with National Review.
My latest RedState post:
As Ann Coulter extensively discussed in her hit books Godless and Guilty, one of liberals’ favorite tricks is to have their lies parroted by spokesmen who their opponents will be too scared to hit back against properly (if at all), for fear of being seen as “mean” toward a victim or national hero. Now, the forces allied against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair efforts in Wisconsin have just such an infallible shill of their own.
Patrick Bahnken is a New York City union leader and one of the firefighters who was in the World Trade Center on September 11, and he’s lending his support to leftist PAC We Are Wisconsin (which actually isn’t Wisconsin, by the way) in rather bombastic fashion:
The folks from Wisconsin, when New York was attacked, came and helped us out. We believe that now that the people of Wisconsin are being attacked, it’s important for us to help them out […] I’m a Republican. But what’s happening here is not a political issue, it’s not a Republican vs. Dem, it’s not a union non-union thing. This is an attack on middle-class families across this country […] People have to pick a side. You’re either going to stand up for working families and middle class families, or you’re going to kneel before the rich.
Wisconsinites have been “attacked” just like the Twin Towers were? It’s “kneeling before the rich” to fix our budget with reforms that still leave government workers with a better benefits deal than the private sector, and that are saving the states’ public schools millions of dollars without layoffs, class size changes, or curriculum cuts? And all this according to an alleged Republican?
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Leftist Rule for Engaging Conservative Ideas #1: conservatives’ motives are never what they claim. It must be rigorously asserted that right-wingers are invariably driven by impulses more sinister than making people better off or trying to find solutions to the problems we face. New Republic senior editor Jonathan Chait knows that lesson by heart—on the Daily Beast, he argues that from the lowliest Tea Partier all the way up to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Right is animated by a view of “the poor as parasites” and “the rich as our rightful rulers,” a dogma we’ve picked up from philosopher Ayn Rand:
Ayn Rand, of course, was a kind of politicized L. Ron Hubbard—a novelist-philosopher who inspired a cult of acolytes who deem her the greatest human being who ever lived. The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.
John Galt, the protagonist of her iconic novel Atlas Shrugged, expressed Rand’s inverted Marxism: “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains.”
In 2009 Rand began popping up all over the Tea Party movement. Sales of her books skyrocketed, and signs quoting her ideas appeared constantly at rallies. Conservatives asserted that the events of the Obama administration eerily paralleled the plot of Atlas Shrugged, in which a liberal government precipitates economic collapse.
To be sure, Rand’s ultra-capitalist works have enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, a predicable response to our leaders overreaching in the opposite direction. But it’s not quite true to suggest Rand is universally embraced on the Right; for instance, consider National Review’s March 2009 symposium on Rand, which on the whole takes a dim view of the author (in fairness, she’s much more popular at Big Hollywood).
I haven’t read her, and have no strong opinions about her philosophy either way, but I can certainly tell when mainstream conservative thought is subjected to class-warfare caricatures:
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Sure, we’re all a little spooked about the huge debt our government is accumulating, but everybody can relax now; our favorite anti-American, far-left propagandist, Michael Moore, has the solution. Admittedly, it’ll take some minor changes in the way we think about wealth, which some of you might like, but you’ll get used to it—after all, you’re not greedy, are you?
Moore recently had this to say about the rich:
“They’re sitting on the money, they’re using it for their own — they’re putting it someplace else with no interest in helping you with your life, with that money. We’ve allowed them to take that. That’s not theirs, that’s a national resource, that’s ours. We all have this — we all benefit from this or we all suffer as a result of not having it,” Michael Moore told Laura Flanders of GRITtv.
“I think we need to go back to taxing these people at the proper rates. They need to — we need to see these jobs as something we some, that we collectively own as Americans and you can’t just steal our jobs and take them someplace else,” Moore concluded.
Much has been made about how Moore himself won’t return his own generous share of this “national resource,” but even if he were more magnanimous, his argument wouldn’t be any less outrageous. For one thing, it ignores the fact that the rich already pay a disproportionately high share of the tax burden individually, and US corporate taxes are among the highest in the world, too. For another, we’ve run this experiment several times in American history, and the verdict is in: if you want to raise government revenue and increase prosperity for all Americans, then the direction you want taxes to go is down, not up. As a businessman, you’d think Moore would understand that when businessmen pursue their own interests, it actually does tend to have the effect of “helping you with your life, with that money,” by creating new jobs for the purpose of creating goods and service that people want.
Give liberals a rich guy or two to hate, and like clockwork they’ll conjure up the most insipid fantasies about how they’re controlling everything. Such has been the pathetic spectacle of Charles and David Koch, businessmen alleged to be the puppet masters behind Scott Walker’s proposed union reforms.
Unfortunately for the Left, there’s no there there. As Matthew Shafer notes, “a would-be exposé from the New York Times couldn’t establish a single financial interest the Koch brothers would have in busting public-sector unions in Wisconsin.” And at Power Line, John Hindraker took a look at the numbers, and found that the truth is pretty underwhelming:
Lipton leaves that claim hanging, and never tells his readers how much the Koch PAC contributed to Walker’s campaign. In fact, the total was $43,000. That was out of more than $11 million that Walker raised, and $37.4 million that was spent, altogether, on the 2010 race for Governor of Wisconsin. Which means that people associated with Koch Industries contributed a whopping one-tenth of one percent of what was spent on last year’s election. So why is the Times running scare headlines about the “Billionaire Brothers’ Money?”
He also found that big corporate moolah isn’t exactly exclusive GOP territory (click to enlarge):
So, is Koch Industries one of the largest sources of political cash, in Wisconsin or elsewhere? Not even close. In fact, nearly all of the top moneybags in politics are on the Democratic side of the aisle […] You have to get down to number 19 before you find a big-time donor that gives significantly more to Republicans than Democrats. And at $2 million an election cycle, the Kochs have a long way to go before they can be considered big-time contributors.
What’s more, of the top 20 donors, 12–more than half–are unions. Isn’t there an untold story here? Aren’t the Koch brothers lonely rebels who are trying to offset the monolithic power and unparalleled financial muscle of the unions, especially the public employee unions? Isn’t that what the Wisconsin story is really about?
Making boogeymen out of donations from businessmen stems from the Progressive practice of labeling any policy goal or interest that doesn’t line up with the Progressive agenda as a “special interest” automatically opposed to the public good. The truth is, all organizations that try to sway policy in either direction on anything – tax cuts, defense spending, health care, Israel, guns, abortion, gay marriage, environmental regulations, education, you name it – have an “interest” of some sort, and can just as easily be defined as a “special interest group.”
Liberals are also alternating between glee and outrage over the audio of a call some foul-mouthed soldier hater named Ian Murphy made to Walker, impersonating David Koch. The talking points on this are that Walker’s a moron for falling for it, and it proves he’s in cahoots with Koch. But as Ann Althouse points out, it reveals nothing of the sort:
You could say that it’s bad that the prankster got through, but that shows that he’s willing to talk to a lot of people and also that David Koch isn’t a frequent caller who gets special treatment and is recognized by his caller ID and his voice and manner of speaking.
Doesn’t this prank call prove that Scott Walker is not close to Koch? He doesn’t recognize his voice! He doesn’t drift into a more personal style of speech. He treats him like a generic political supporter.
Greg Sargent summarizes the “controversial” bits:
Walker doesn’t bat an eye when Koch describes the opposition as “Democrat bastards.”
I wouldn’t bat an eye, either. These are Democrats we’re talking about.
Walker reveals that he and other Republicans are looking at whether they can charge an “ethics code violation if not an outright felony” if unions are paying for food or lodging for any of the Dem state senators.
Sounds to me like that would be worth looking into. I’m not aware that any of that is going on, and accordingly, Walker hasn’t publicly made any such accusation. What’s the problem?
Walker says he’s sending out notices next week to some five or six thousand state workers letting them know that they are “at risk” of layoffs.
“Beautiful, beautiful,” the Koch impersonator replies. “You gotta crush that union.”
Walker’s been saying that in public, too. As for “Koch’s” reaction, I agree with Althouse: “Walker just ignores that stuff and goes on with his standard points, which is probably the standard strategy that most politicians use when people interact with them.”
In a key detail, Walker reveals that he is, in effect, laying a trap for Wisconsin Dems. He says he is mulling inviting the Senate and Assembly Dem and GOP leaders to sit down and talk, but only if all the missing Senate Dems return to work.
Then, tellingly, he reveals that the real game plan here is that if they do return, Republicans might be able to use a procedural move to move forward with their proposal.
“If they’re actually in session for that day and they take a recess, this 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have a quorum because they started out that way,” he says. “If you heard that I was going to talk to them that would be the only reason why.”
Again, what’s the problem? Wisconsin Democrats aren’t acting in good faith. They’re not doing the people’s business. Walker is discussing ways to get them to do their jobs. Democrats opened this can of worms by fleeing the state instead of voting. (Besides, it’s not as if the Dems don’t know the quorum rules themselves.)
Then the fake Koch says this: “Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.”
Walker doesn’t bat an eye, and responds: “I have one in my office, you’d be happy with that. I’ve got a slugger with my name on it.”
Genuine calls to violence are over the line (except when Democrats do it, apparently), but come on. It’s a private conversation. People make jokes like this (“knocking some sense into” political foes) all the time. What, do liberals think these guys were conspiring to beat up Democrats? Or to just intimidate them? (Nope, that can’t be it – liberals don’t have a problem with political intimidation using melee weapons.)
Murphy: “What we were thinking about the crowds was, planting some troublemakers.”
Walker: “[Pause]…we thought about that. My only gut reaction to that would be, right now, the lawmakers I talk to have just completely had it with them. The public is not really fond of this.The teachers union did some polling and focus groups […] My only fear would be if there was a ruckus caused, is that, that would scare the public into thinking, maybe the governor’s gotta settle to avoid all these problems. Whereas I’m saying, hey, y’know, people can can handle this, people can protest, this is Madison, y’know, full of the 60s liberals, let ’em protest. It’s not gonna affect us. And as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of the people tell us we’re doing the right thing, let ’em protest all they want. Um, so that’s my gut reaction is that I think it’s actually good if they’re constant, if they’re noisy, but they’re quiet, nothing happens, because sooner or later the media stops finding them interesting.
This is the only snippet of any real potential significance. And yeah, it sounds bad. If somebody in Walker’s team really suggested that, I’d like a fuller explanation. However, Walker did not act on any such suggestion. Besides, the thuggery of left-wing and union protesters is so well known that it simply isn’t plausible that any reasonably-competent Republican would consider it worthwhile to fake any of it.
And for what it’s worth, two of Althouse’s commenters have more charitable, entirely-plausible explanations. Madawaskan says, “Walker does a big pregnant pause when ‘Koch’ mentions the plants. You can almost tell that Walker is thinking-‘crazy’ to himself.” And liberal Dose of Sanity says, “As far as calling the liberals bastards, 60s liberals, baseball bat, plant protesters, etc etc it seems obvious he’s doing that to appease the ‘Koch’ caller’s request – none of those were brought up unsolicited.” It seems like Walker was being diplomatic with someone he thought was a supporter, and – quite reasonably – didn’t think he needed to waste time with niceties in what he thought was a private conversation.
Walker appears to agree when “Koch” calls David Axelrod a “son of a bitch.” Walker tells an anecdote in which he was having dinner with Jim Sensebrenner, and at a nearby table he saw Mika Brzezinski and Greta VanSusteren having dinner with David Axelrod. Then this exchange occured:
WALKER: I introduced myself.
FAKE KOCH: That son of a bitch.
WALKER: Yeah, no kidding, right?
How dare he? David Axelrod is positively the salt of the earth!
FAKE KOCH: Well, I’ll tell ya what, Scott. Once you crush these bastards, I’ll fly ya out to Cali and really show you a good time.
WALKER: Alright. That would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward.
Good Lord, Scott Walker responded politely to an invitation! Better start the impeachment proceedings right away!
If all of the above hasn’t sated your Koch thirst, Allahpundit’s got his own roundup of Koch coverage, including a response from Koch Foundation execs and a look at some of the foundation’s not-so-conservative political causes. Bottom line: the Koch brothers are a couple of run-of-the-mill right-leaning political donors who leftists have decided to drag out of the mud to tarnish Scott Walker and his efforts without engaging the merits of the issue.