The latest from Prager University:
“An exit poll conducted by CNN asked, ‘What is the most important candidate quality to your vote?’ Among the four choices were, ‘Strong Leader,’ ‘Shares Your Values,’ ‘Has A Vision for the Future,’ and ‘Cares about People.’ Romney won the first three by more than 54%. But he lost ‘Cares About People’ by 81-18%. That says it all.”
“Behind the failures of Republican campaigns lies an attitude that is administrative rather than combative. It focuses on policies rather than politics. It is more comfortable with budgets and pie charts than with the flesh and blood victims of their opponents’ policies. When Republicans do mention victims they are frequently small business owners and other ‘job creators’ – people who in the eyes of most Americans are rich.
“To counter the Democrat attacks on them as defenders of the comfortable and afflicters of the weak, Republicans really have only one answer: This is a misunderstanding. Look at the facts. We’re not that bad. On the infrequent occasions when they actually take the battle to their accusers, Republicans will say: That’s divisive. It’s class warfare.
“Even if voters were able to ‘look at the facts,’ these are not exactly inspiring responses. They are defensive, and they are whiny, and also complicated. Of course elections are divisive – that is their nature. One side gets to win and the other side loses. But even more troublesome is the fact that responses like this require additional information and lengthy explanations to make sense. Appeals to reason are buried in the raucous noise that is electoral politics. Sorting out the truth would be a daunting task, even if voters were left alone to make up their minds.”
“The only way to confront the emotional campaign that Democrats wage in every election is through an equally emotional campaign that puts the aggressors on the defensive; that attacks them in the same moral language, identifying them as the bad guys, the oppressors of women, children, minorities and the middle class, that takes away from them the moral high ground which they now occupy. You can’t confront an emotionally based moral argument with an intellectual analysis. Yet this is basically and almost exclusively what Republicans do.”
“Republicans seem to think the way to inspire hope is by offering voters practical solutions, such as Paul Ryan’s plan to balance the budget. Paul Ryan is a smart conservative and the Ryan Plan is probably a good one. But with control only of the House, Republicans had no chance of implementing it when they voted on it. Worse, in the real world of political combat, facing an unscrupulous opposition, a plan offered by a party with no means of implementing it is a self-inflicted wound. You can’t put the plan into effect to show that it works, and no one besides policy wonks is going to even begin to understand it. All the plan does is provide the spinners with multiple targets to shoot at – something they will do by distorting the specifics and ignoring the plan itself. For virtually all voters, the plan will be so complicated and its details so obscure that it will remain invisible. Only those who already trust its designers will be persuaded that this is a reason to vote for them.”
“The way for Republicans to show they care about minorities is to defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, which in every major inner city in America without exception are Democrats. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. It’s time that Republicans started to hold Democrats to account; to put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground, which they now occupy illegitimately. Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive. The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal.”
“The minimum coverage provision is … necessary to achieve Congress’s concededly valid objective of reforming the interstate market in health insurance,” the Justice Department said in its first Supreme Court brief on the merits of the mandate.
The interfering and unneighborly regulations of some States, contrary to the true spirit of the Union, have, in different instances, given just cause of umbrage and complaint to others, and it is to be feared that examples of this nature, if not restrained by a national control, would be multiplied and extended till they became not less serious sources of animosity and discord than injurious impediments to the intcrcourse between the different parts of the Confederacy. “The commerce of the German empire is in continual trammels from the multiplicity of the duties which the several princes and states exact upon the merchandises passing through their territories, by means of which the fine streams and navigable rivers with which Germany is so happily watered are rendered almost useless.” Though the genius of the people of this country might never permit this description to be strictly applicable to us, yet we may reasonably expect, from the gradual conflicts of State regulations, that the citizens of each would at length come to be considered and treated by the others in no better light than that of foreigners and aliens.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Conservatives frequently make unfavorable comparisons between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, but it’s a rarer occurrence to see leftists do the same. So when a lefty zealot like Eric Alterman does precisely that in his latest Daily Beast article, it’s bound to raise eyebrows, though it shouldn’t—where The One reminds right-wingers of Carter through his international and economic ineptness, Alterman sees Obama aping some very different traits from his predecessor:
The gregarious Massachusetts pol, House Speaker Tip O’Neil, could hardly have been more eager to work with a Democratic president after eight years of Nixon and Ford. But when they first met, and O’Neil attempted to advise Carter about which members of Congress might need some special pleading, or even the assorted political favor or two with regard to certain issues, to O’Neil’s open-jawed amazement, Carter replied, “No, I’ll describe the problem in a rational way to the American people. I’m sure they’ll realize I’m right.” The red-nosed Irishman later said he “could have slugged” Carter over this lethal combination of arrogance and naivety, but it would soon become Carter’s calling card.
Alterman doesn’t know just how right he is. The Left can never entertain the possibility that they might be wrong on questions of fundamental principle. Progressive ideology holds itself to be the culmination of man’s intellectual and moral development thus far, enlightenment from which there could be no fundamentally different deviation. John F. Kennedy said the days of “grand warfare of rival ideologies” were behind us, replaced with “more basic discussion” of “technical questions.” If someone rejects the key tenets of the progressive agenda, it must be because he either doesn’t yet understand it properly, or is blinded by his personal biases or interests. Someone simply can’t be enlightened and well-informed, and still reject leftist policies.
You want the booze parallel? It’s that conservatives grasp the difference between having a beer in the backyard and getting face-in-the-toilet drunk. The left’s attitude toward government, by contrast, is that if one vodka-and-tonic is good … hey, can we get this stuff in two-liter bottles? And get that guy in a suit to pay for it?
Gurda does not grasp that conservatives have been saying for years — really loudly these past two — that there is a logical stopping point when shrinking government, and that is the outline put forth in the constitution. This is perhaps because liberals, and Gurda I gather is one, do not admit to any logical stopping point in the other direction. If some government is good, more is better — always. They think the constitution allows so little government, it amounts to “civic suicide,” as Gurda puts it. But what, then, is the upper limit?
Not that we’d reach it. Recall what started all this: Unions weren’t demanding that the governor offer more schooling or parks. To the contrary, Walker said, repeatedly, that he wants to preserve schools, parks, aid for the poor and so on even as the state copes with a $3.5 billion deficit, and the only way to do that in a state that’s already the fourth-hardest taxed in the country is to get the same amount of labor at a more reasonable cost. Walker suggested unions’ absurd benefits take a haircut and the mechanism that permitted the absurdity to begin with, collective bargaining, be reined in.
That’s what this is about. It’s not about nicer education or better services but about unions holding on to their power. Education and services will be much costlier to provide, if they have their way. Which, if you think about it, is the modern approach to prohibition: add taxes to jack up the cost to the point no one can afford much — what? tobacco? gas? booze? You name it, but it’s a lot more subtle than axing rum barrels.
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.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
The United States Constitution is one of the most well thought-out works ever created by mere mortals. As the Federalist Papers make clear, America’s Founding Fathers carefully considered nearly every aspect of human nature, the demands of freedom, and the nature of government when drafting it, and created a system of government designed to effectively carry out its duties without imperiling liberty, and calibrated to properly balance society’s competing commitments to self-rule and objective morality, to liberty and security, and more. Under the Constitution, the United States became the freest, most prosperous, and most consequential nation in history.
But to the Left, this magnificent document is at best a relic of a bygone era which has outlived its usefulness; at worst the product of long-dead, bigoted elites. Philosophically, they have inherited President Woodrow Wilson’s view that the Constitution was based on a theory of government mankind has since evolved past:
The makers of our federal Constitution followed the scheme as they found it expounded in Montesquieu, followed it with genuine scientific enthusiasm. The admirable expositions of the Federalist read like thoughtful applications of Montesquieu to the political needs and circumstances of America. They are full of the theory of checks and balances. The President is balanced off against Congress, Congress against the President, and each against the courts. Our statesmen of the earlier generations quoted in no one so often as Montesquieu, and they quoted him always as a scientific standard in the field of politics. Politics is turned into mechanics under his touch. The theory of gravitation is supreme.
The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick cooperation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day of specialization, but with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without leadership or without the intimate, almost instinctive, coordination of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across its track. Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.
Fortunately, the definitions and prescriptions of our constitutional law, though conceived in the Newtonian spirit and upon the Newtonian principle, are sufficiently broad and elastic to allow for the play of life and circumstance.
Accordingly, the needs of their agenda dictate a variety of approaches to the Constitution, depending on the issue. When America needs to be reminded of its irredeemably-evil history, the Constitution is an abomination. When a certain passage seems useful out of context, it becomes an example of the Founders’ wisdom (and pay no attention to that history book behind the curtain). And when a passage seems to get in the way, it’s time to break out the historical relativism.
No more. This weekend, we’re highlighting ten of the most distorted or ignored passages in the Constitution, listed in the order in which they appear in the text. Let’s get started.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Feminist identity-politics arguments for increasing the number of women in public office usually rest on the premise that females have unique insight or sensitivity regarding issues like abortion, pay inequality, and education, without which disproportionately-male government cannot be trusted make sound, tolerant policy. But at the Daily Beast, Tony Dokoupil floats a new, more pragmatic argument, that according to a new American Journal of Political Science study, women simply get more stuff done:
The research is the first to compare the performance of male and female politicians nationally, and it finds that female members of the House rout their male counterparts in both pulling pork and shaping policy. Between 1984 and 2004, women won their home districts an average of $49 million more per year than their male counterparts (a finding that held regardless of party, geography, committee position, tenure in office, or margin of victory). The spending jump was found within districts, too, when women moved into seats previously occupied by men, and the cash was for projects across the spectrum, not just “women’s issues.”
A similar performance gap showed up in policy: Women sponsored more bills (an average of three more per Congress), co-sponsored more bills (an average of 26 more per Congress), and attracted a greater number of co-sponsors than their colleagues who use the other restroom. These new laws driven by women were not only enacted—they were popular. In a pair of additional working papers, led by Ohio State political scientists Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman, researchers tracked every bill introduced between 1981 and 2009, and found that those sponsored by women survived deeper into the legislative process, garnered more press attention, and were more likely to be deemed “important” overall. All of which leads the authors of the AJPS paper, University of Chicago Public Policy Professor Christopher Berry and his student and Stanford doctoral candidate Sarah Anzia, to conclude that it’s the women themselves—specifically, their skills at “logrolling, agenda-setting, coalition building, and other deal-making activities”— that are responsible for the gender-performance divide.
After a century of American political thought all-but dominated by progressive assumptions about the nature and role of government, this is likely to strike many Americans as intuitively compelling. But conservatives should instantly recognize the problem here: success and effectiveness are measured by sheer number of new laws made and amount of money funneled back home, without regard for the merit or constitutionality of any of it. Dokoupil simply assumes as a given that “more” equals “better.”
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Congressional Democrats are determined to do something with their power while they still have it, and since they’re on the way out anyway, it might as well be something the American people really don’t want, like “comprehensive” immigration reform. This week, Sean Hannity spoke with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) about the latest push for the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act would offer a path to citizenship to illegal immigrants who meet the following criteria:
- Must have entered the United States before the age of 16 (i.e. 15 and younger)
- Must have been present in the United States for at least five (5) consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill
- Must have graduated from a United States high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education (i.e. college/university)
- Must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application
- Must have good moral character
Under the proposal, “good moral character” basically means being a law-abiding citizen, though “we cannot be 100% positive on which crimes would impact one’s application,” since the Act “has not outlined specific guidelines” on the subject. In other words, it’s another bill we have to pass in order to find out what it does. That’s progressive governance for you—let the democratic process decide vague, feel-good goals, but leave the little matter of how laws actually work to the unelected “experts” who’ll be implementing it.
Last week, Jim DeMint fired a shot on behalf of social conservatism, and this week, gay Republican group GOProud is counterattacking with a press release speaking for “a group of Tea Party leaders and activists”who urge “Republicans in Congress to avoid social issues and focus instead on issues of economic freedom and individual liberty”:
On behalf of limited government conservatives everywhere we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the Tea Party movement.
Poll after poll confirms that the Tea Party’s laser focus on issues of economic freedom and limited government resonated with the American people on Election Day. The Tea Party movement galvanized around a desire to return to constitutional government and against excessive spending, taxation and government intrusion into the lives of the American people.
The Tea Party movement is a non-partisan movement, focused on issues of economic freedom and limited government, and a movement that will be as vigilant with a Republican-controlled Congress as we were with a Democratic-controlled Congress.
This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue, nor should it be interpreted as a political blank check.
But as Joe Carter points out, not only does this letter not speak for the majority of the Tea Party, but its signatories are the ones out of step with the movement:
There are more than 2,300 local Tea Party groups across the nation yet leaders from only 12 of them signed the document […] They don’t seem to realize that they are out of touch with their own “movement.” A recent survey has shown that nearly half (47 percent) of Tea Party supporters consider themselves to be part of the conservative Christian movement. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Tea Partiers say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only eighteen percent support same-sex marriage. Most Tea Partiers are part of the one-legged conservative coalition.
GOProud might not like it, but we belong here every bit as much as (actually, even more than) they do. And you can’t really claim to stand for “individual liberty” if you don’t recognize that human rights begin in the womb.
GOProud and (a tiny sliver of) the Tea Party continue:
Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues. We are disappointed but not surprised by this development. We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.
We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.
The Tea Party movement is not going away and we intend to continue to hold Washington accountable.
The rhetoric about “special interest groups” ought to raise major red flags. It’s clearly meant to demean organizations who take seriously the right to life, protecting marriage, and religious liberty, by defining them as somehow beneath economic issue and motivated by something less pure. But first, that distinction is utterly arbitrary. All organizations involved in “influencing politics and policy on the federal level” (to use GOProud’s self-description) on anything – tax cuts, defense spending, health care, Israel, guns, abortion, 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.” Guess what, GOProud? That means you, too.
Second, labeling something a “special interest” is an old insult that dates all the way back to the writings of the early progressives. It’s meant to suggest that a position is motivated not by political principles or by a desire for the good of the country, but by either selfishness or devotion to something other than the country. Obviously, this isn’t true, for reasons I’ve explained before (and linked above). Disagreeing with GOProud on something doesn’t automatically make our motives impure (nor does it mean their motives are automatically on the level).
And just as obviously, it’s not how allies allegedly committed to the same goals treat each other in a healthy coalition. I’ve long been suspicious of GOProud’s true aims and their value to the Right – and this latest arrogant, dishonest attack on those of us who fully and consistently follow the principles of the American Founding only hurts their credibility further.