Topic: Conservatism

Rick Santorum had a helluva night.

$100 to Santorum

I'm a man of my word.

$100 to Santorum

If this idea (see #HotAirDebate on Twitter) gets the OK from Romney, Gingrich, & Santorum, I'll actually be eager to watch a GOP debate for once. Ed Morrissey from Hot Air would be an excellent moderator.

If crazy ol' Ron Paul shows up too, it'll be must-see TV.

After a candidate piles up enough gaffes, revisions, revised revisions, and re-revised revisions, I begin to doubt that they're a thoughtful & persuasive advocate for conservatism.

Video: Mark Levin at the Reagan Forum

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Listen to this, think about it, reflect, and be of good cheer. If you can't spare the time now, bookmark this link.


Ronald Reagan thumbs up

Is Herman Cain pro-choice? (Updated)

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Logically, there are a limited number of possible positions for a person to hold regarding government policy on abortion. Here's a Venn diagram that lays them all out.

Venn diagram of possible abortion policies


Anyone who's thought about the issue for more than a couple of seconds understands this. So how do we make any sense of Herman Cain's stated position? He's never given any indication that he's in the blue area above, so we can rule that out. But when you watch this interview on CNN, it's impossible to pinpoint where he stands beyond that.


He says "I think it's a sin." That puts him in either the red or purple area. Moments later, he says "I believe life begins at conception, and abortion under no circumstances." That puts him squarely in the red area. But when pressed on making an exception if his daughter or granddaughter were to be raped and become pregnant, he replies:

It's not the government's role, or anybody else's role, to make that decision. ... It ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as President, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn't try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.

...

I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.

That puts him somewhere in the purple area. If we take him at his word, he would be morally opposed to abortion, but would reluctantly allow it on demand. That's squarely a pro-choice stance. When you take that position, you are in favor of a woman's right to abort her unborn child for any reason or no reason. That is not a pro-life stance.

Now listen to his statements in this Fox News interview with John Stossel.

The GOP Establishment hath spoken

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Time to talk back, don't you think?

Echoes, not choices.

Both candidates spoke yesterday at the Values Voter Summit.


After a video of Mitt Romney's speech finds its way online, I'll update this post.

Video: Herman Cain on Red Eye

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Raising taxes will do nothing good

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Scrooge McDuckPeople respond to taxes.

That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but to hear the Left's explanations, the federal government can extract more and more money from their preferred targets without any repercussions. In Progressive Fantasyland, rich fat cat CEOs who run oil companies, banks, and Fox News have a secret stash of unlimited money hidden somewhere in their corporate jets or on the grounds of their posh estates, from which they simply pull more money after Washington takes what it wants. The government spreads the wealth around, the members of the middle class find excellent green jobs with full dental benefits, the poor all move up to the middle class, everyone votes for progressives, conservatives crawl back into the bowels of Hell from whence they came, and unicorns poop skittles to feed the hungry.

In the real world the vast majority of American wealth belongs to the middle class, but facts never get in the way of a juicy class warfare talking point. Here in flyover country where common sense still exists, we know that taxes influence people's behavior. If the government collected no taxes whatsoever, then its revenue would be zero. Likewise, if the government taxed away every last cent people earn, revenue would also drop to zero. Nobody would have any incentive to conduct any economic activity at all, so there would be no wealth to tax. Somewhere in between no taxation and total taxation, there's a point where the government will collect the maximum possible revenue. The conclusion isn't magical, farcical, or deserving of ridicule. It's common sense. It's logical. It reflects reality.

It also means everything to your way of life, so pay attention.

Well-known supply side economist Arthur Laffer sketched out this thought experiment decades ago -- reportedly on a napkin over drinks with conservative political heavy hitters -- and came up with the curve that soon bore his name. Here's a very simplified version of the Laffer Curve:

Laffer Curve

Ed Morrissey serves.

Jazz Shaw returns.

J.E. Dyer smashes.

Jazz Shaw whiffs.

Game, set, and match to the conservatives. Granted, the debate's an easy one to win if you're willing to think, but it's always nice to see a fan of tax hikes get schooled.

This is worth watching.

Mitt Romney, front runner

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Uh, which party is this guy from again?


Thankfully, he has competition.

Commonly-held racial fallacies

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Defusing the race bomb

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Since we all know that the default Democrat tactic in the 2012 presidential race will be to slander all of President Obama's critics as racists, we should be prepared to turn the tables on them. To that end, I hereby release into the public domain the following graphics to anyone and everyone to use, totally free, gratis, no rights reserved, etc.

This one is a PNG file with a transparent background:

RACIST rubber stamp -- transparent background

If you're handy with PhotoShop you can "rubber stamp" it over any image you want, as in this example:

racist puppy

And of course, there's the ever-so-useful Race Card; it's perfect for pre-emptive throwing atop anything you write that dares to criticize The One:

Obama Race Card

So get busy, my fellow conservatives critics individualists racists! Our progressive betters intend to sling plenty of incendiary accusations at us no matter what we do, so we might as well start countering the meme now. Just remember ... there are five R's in RAAAAACISM!

Huckabee?  Hell no!

We can do much better.

--

10:00 PM Update: Not running. Good.


Y'know who this helps?

Sarah Palin's renovated web site

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Here's a screenshot of the brand new SarahPAC site revealed today.

SarahPAC's new look

Does this mean she's getting ready to announce?

Tax Cuts 101

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Would you rather eat a thick slice from a small pie, or a slightly thinner slice from a much larger pie?

Tax Cuts 101

If you can grasp this concept, then you can figure out why tax cuts increase tax revenue. Mark Goldblatt hammers the point home.

If you think jacking up tax rates on individuals and corporations will fix the deficit, you're dreaming. See for yourself by clicking on these two graphics.

individual income tax receipts   corporate income tax receipts


Before you start talking about the richest Americans "not paying their fair share," click below and play around with the interactive graphic.

Who says the rich don't pay their fair share?


But, hey, let's go after those evil rich people!

Irrelevant? Hardly.

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Time to get to work.

Tribble predictions

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How many House seats will the GOP gain today? Here's the running tally of predictions from the Tribbles (listeners of the Hugh Hewitt Show who lurk in the #hhrs hashtag on Twitter):

@Mrs_ESTMR: 100
@akonsen: 80
@MongoTribble: 79
@Soopermexican: 75
@Nikkonito & @dirtseller: 68
@michaelbeck: 67
@hazchic: 63
@dbsnyder: 60
@JGtheSheep: 58
@strongthought: 53


At stake: bragging rights for whoever gets closest without going over, of course! As of 4 PM Eastern, the InTrade odds are hovering between 60 and 65 ... and rising.

You can learn a lot about people's character by how they treat public property. Take a look at what was left behind at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall after Saturday's "One Nation" radical rally for socialists/communists/unions/Democrats (aka Left-a-palooza):


Here's a look at another part of the National Mall after the filthy moonbats left:

Want to make an Obamabot's head explode?

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Play this for 'em.


Start watching the odds.

What would Ronald Reagan think ...

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... of today's Democrats?


scary chart

Had enough yet?

Ronald Reagan, we miss you

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Take your pick.


NJ Governor Chris Christie is right, and the entire Democrat Party is wrong. Everyone's going to feel this. Let's cut back now, impose austerity on our government, take the pain ourselves and spare our grandkids.

Dennis Prager does a wonderful job of distilling the worldviews of Left and Right to their essence.

200 proof clarity.

Ron Paul, summarized

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Over at Hot Air, they made Ron Paul (the Republican Party's version of Dennis Kucinich) the subject of yesterday's Quotes Of The Day thanks to his speech at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.


I'd say this parody comment by MadisonConservative aptly sums up the diminutive dingbat's political outlook:

Obama is pro-business, North Korea and Iran are harmless, and Israel is the new Nazi Empire. Hitler was misunderstood, Truman was a war criminal, and Lincoln is the anti-Christ. Plus, the Joos run everything. You should read this book called The Protocols. Have you ever heard of John Birch?

Leaked video of a night at Dr. Paul's house:

Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann

Video: Allen West in Fort Lauderdale

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Congressional candidate Allen West, speaking at the American Freedom tour in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the Revolution Nightclub:


Allen West for Congress

Ronald Reagan debates Barack Obama

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Palin: Dems have it backassward

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I love blunt conservative honesty, especially from a politician!

Perpetual RINO weasel David Frum drives to the hoop for a dunk on Sarah Palin ... and gets stuffed by Doctor Zero:

David FrumThat isn't a glass of sherry gripped in David Frum's sweaty fist, Palinistas. It's a mug of scalding hot coffee, and it's going right down your throats. Personally, I'm stuck in an alternative reality where a hardcore leftist is running up astronomical deficits and double-digit unemployment, in the service of a liberty-destroying collectivist agenda. I wonder how many hard feelings the voters of 2012 will carry for the woman who gave 110% effort to save us from this little branch in the time line, and has the battle scars to show for it... assuming they can tear themselves away from obsessing over those "statistical studies that show her as the only vice presidential nominee in ticket to have hurt her ticket."

...

Do you suppose that tsunami of frivolous lawsuits from the Democrat slander machine might have had something to do with her "failure to make any serious progress" as governor? It doesn't matter to the dutiful scribes of conventional wisdom. When the Washington Post counts a Republican out, David Frum will always be there with a bottle of chloroform, to make sure they don't get back up. Deviation from the accepted script for Republican political life is dangerous populism.

...

Palin has developed a remarkable knack for saying all the things President Obama should be saying, at any given moment. While Obama was serving as the warm-up act for anti-American and anti-Semitic nutjobs at the United Nations, Palin spoke of her country's proud tradition of liberty and capitalism in Hong Kong. While Obama pondered whether the ruins of the Berlin Wall would make a suitable backdrop for his magnificence, Palin wrote of the twilight struggle between Ronald Reagan's America and the Evil Empire... and wasn't shy about naming both the heroes and villains.

Hey, David ... go sit on the bench and let the pros play. Twerp.

Incidentally, Sarah's back on Twitter.

Sarah Palin on Twitter @SarahPalinUSA

Newt is shocked, shocked

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Newt on Scozzafava:

As other Republicans threw their support behind Hoffman's momentum, Gingrich argued that the party needed to be more inclusive of moderates if it had a hope of retaking the majority.

He told The Associated Press he was disappointed, and "deeply upset" that Scozzafava endorsed Owens.

"How could she have accepted all that support?" he said, adding later: "I'm very, very let down because she told everybody she was a Republican, and she said she was a loyal Republican."

Gingrich now backs Hoffman.

Gimme a break. Newt's a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them.

It's called Going Rogue: An American Life.

Going Rogue

I reserved mine!

Thank you both for lancing the boil that is ACORN.


Courtesy of Kim Nettles:

More at "Patriots on the Prairie".

On rude and inappropriate outbursts

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Sure, Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst against President Obama would once have been thought rude. Thirty years ago, shouting such an accusation at a president addressing a joint session would have been nearly inconceivable ... but this ain't 1979.

Shut up demotivatorAmerican popular culture is much coarser and cruder these days, and our politics mirror our culture. The blame lies almost exclusively at the feet of Americans who occupy the farthest reaches of the statist left wing. They've brought us the Sexual Revolution, rampant drug use, violent and sexually explicit entertainment, abortion on demand, disregard for our Judeo-Christian roots, militant atheism, and moral relativism. The left's utter disregard for anything standing between them and complete political power leads to the rise of political opportunists like our current president. He and his ilk will say and do anything to advance their agenda. Lying is just another tool in the toolbox, to be used whenever it will accomplish the left's goals.

The left bemoans the supposedly inappropriate and rude outburst by Joe Wilson for one reason only: they hope to advance their agenda by doing so. Period. Never mind that they've done far worse. Never mind that moral disapproval is supposedly evidence of the cardinal sin of "intolerance." The left will scream and wail as long as faux victimhood helps them extract money and power from American citizens.

Given that fact, I refuse to join in the Tut-Tut Chorus. We're close to enacting an irreversible government takeover of close to one fifth of the American economy, by people who have more in common with Stalin and Mussolini than with Madison and Jefferson. I'd much rather have inappropriate and rude outbursts in defense of the truth than polite silence in the face of blatant and dangerous lies.

The truth hurts the statist, so shout it if you must.

During tonight's joint session, Barack Obama faced a critic brave enough to call his dishonesty what it is:

For yelling "you lie!", I just sent Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina a $10 campaign contribution. If he hadn't apologized for his supposed rudeness in calling a lie a lie, I'd have sent him $50.

More coverage:
Hot Air
Gateway Pundit
Protein Wisdom
Conservative Culture
Ace of Spades

FreedomWorks knows how to grovel:

Washington, DC -- Today, FreedomWorks released an apology to leftist political organizations, including MoveOn.org, the Democratic National Committee, the AFL-CIO, and ACORN for our apparent ignorance of the fine art of political discourse.

FreedomWorks' August Recess Call to Action encouraged grassroots citizens to attend Congressional town hall meetings and listening sessions. We asked everyone to voice their opinions and communicate their opposition to the President's proposed hostile takeover of the American health care system. Apparently, the very act of showing up and having an opinion is, in effect, to act like a "thug." Opposing President Obama's policy agenda on health care is, in and of itself, unacceptable, and has no place in our democracy. Bottom line: it's "disgusting," according to our friends on the left.

Follow the link to hear the ever-so-cultured voicemail messages left by our betters among the Obamabots.

Reagan on socialized medicine

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Video: Senator Cornyn gets booed

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At the Austin, TX Tea Party on this past July 4th, Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn got a resounding round of boos (except when he talked about our military) for his vote on TARP, the bloated bailout:

Notice how he tried to slam "Washington" as if he isn't part of it. Remember this back in April?

Cornyn should have seen it coming.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

RINO huntersThe Ohio Republican Party appears to be moving full steam ahead toward endorsing John Kasich for Governor. That's funny ... I thought the primary contest was still underway. When last I checked, Kevin Coughlin was still angling for a chance to take on Ted Strickland.

It's not up to the Ohio GOP to pick the party's nominee. It's up to us, the voters, to choose our nominee in the primary election. The state party ought to butt out until then.

After all, Bob Taft, "Uncle Bob" Bennett, Kevin Dewine, Ken Blackwell, Jim Petro and friends haven't exactly covered themselves in glory over the past several election cycles.

We'll pick our guy without your interference, thanks.

The tragedy of the commons

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Do people treat rental cars better than their own cars? Is the office fridge cleaner than your home fridge? Does a public park have less litter than your back yard? Is a government housing project maintained as well as a privately owned apartment building?

The answer in each case is obviously "no", but have you ever wondered why?

If this unethical tactic for pushing an immoral policy doesn't justify a full-throated attack, what does? Via Drudge:

On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care -- a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!

Highlights on the agenda:

ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.

The network plans a primetime special -- 'Prescription for America' -- originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.

Hey, Ohio Republican Party bigwigs! What in the world are you waiting for? Blast this! Get aggressive. This is a no-brainer in at least two ways. 1) Americans don't want socialized medicine. 2) Americans hate biased media outlets that claim to be unbiased.

Couple that with cratering support for Obama's policies and you guys have a perfect opportunity to contrast the statist path of the Democrats with the traditional GOP values of rugged individualism, independence, and capitalism. Yes, Obama's popular. So what? Attack his policies and his plans, not him.

Stop worrying about being treated badly by the media. You lost that war in the 1960s. They'll never like you. Use it to your advantage. Say things that they can't afford to ignore, things that they'll have to cover. Call ABC "a wholly owned subsidiary of ACORN and the Democratic Party." Draw comparisons to Joseph Goebbels' "Big Lie" strategy. Remind people of what Pravda used to publish. The media and the statists on the Left have just exposed their weakest point of vulnerability to you. Hit it with a sledgehemmer!

Learn from Sun Tzu:

You may advance and be absolutely irresistible, if you make for the enemy's weak points; you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy.

...

Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

Get off your asses and attack!

Rush Limbaugh delivered this speech on Saturday, February 28th at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference.

Rush has the transcript. Browse the CPAC web site for more.

--

Update: Of course we want Obama to fail!

Ronald Reagan used a metaphor to describe the coalition that swept him into the Oval Office. To him, the conservative movement of 1980 was a three-legged stool, supported equally by three groups: fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and national defense conservatives. Mitt Romney mentioned this metaphor frequently during the '08 campaign:


Lately we conservatives haven't been represented well by the Republican Party. The Democrat machine thumped the GOP in 2006 and 2008. Republican leaders wonder why they lost, and some have said that the "Era of Reagan" is over.

Chuck Asay sums up this view humorously:

Chuck Asay's 3-legged stool


It's funny in part because it seems plausible. Are the three parts of the coalition completely splintered now, as this Venn diagram illustrates?

Conservative trio (false)

Josh Painter thinks so. Some pro-choice Republicans seem to think that dumping the social conservatives is the ticket to victory.

But could it be that the stool actually rests largely on one big leg, like this?

Conservative trio (true)

Time will tell, but I suspect that it's more the latter than the former.

Joe Carter sees the stool as one-legged. I didn't support his guy (Huckabee), but his general argument accurately reflects what I perceive about conservatives here in NE Ohio. We tend to be socially, fiscally, and militarily conservative all at once. We don't fragment into three warring camps. If the GOP decides to alienate social conservatives, it will lose much more than 1/3 of its support.

Do you see things the same way?

RNC Candidate Forum on YouTube

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The candidates for Chairman of the Republican National Committee have agreed to take questions from the party rank and file, via text or YouTube, through January 19th. The candidates will then respond to at least ten of the top questions using YouTube from January 20th through the start of the RNC Meeting on January 28th.

I've submitted three questions so far. Kindly vote for them at the links below.

Closed primaries:

Will you make it a top priority to ensure that by the 2012 election cycle all statewide Republican primary elections are closed to everyone except registered Republicans?

The Ron Paul problem:

Ron Paul has a very energetic and organized community of fans and followers, as is obvious if you browse the other questions submitted here. Unfortunately, his movement also attracts anti-semites, 9/11 Truthers, isolationists, and Bircherite cranks ... all of whom tarnish the Republican Party by association. Ron Paul holds some mainstream conservative positions, but he's got plenty of bad ideas too. How will you distance the GOP from the nuttier elements of the Ron Paul movement, yet still appeal to the rest of his motivated young followers?

A conservative litmus test:

In order to effectively allocate campaign funds to conservative candidates, would you support a minimal litmus test of acceptable conservatism for would-be GOP candidates? In other words, would you require a "yes" to the following question: "Do you want the state to have less control over people's lives, or more control?"

Well, not yet. But the Paulbots have certainly spammed the heck out of RNCDebate.org lately. Just look at all the lickspittle paeans mixed into the questions submitted by the Ronulans. Geez, these cranks almost make Obama worshipers look rational.

ron-paul-zombies.jpg

Hats off to Sword At-The-Ready for the image.

Alfonzo Rachel reacts to Obama's election

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Amen, brother.

An Obama victory will cause a depression

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An unknown wit once said: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury." When it comes to voting ourselves goodies from the treasury, we Americans stand near the point of no return.

Support Class Envy!I've addressed this lopsided situation before in a post on war funding, but this is a much more general discussion.

The federal government levies taxes on some of us, and it sends handouts to some of us. Some Americans pay more in taxes than they receive in handouts. I'll call them "givers." Others receive more in handouts than they pay in taxes. I'll call them "takers."

The Tax Foundation studied taxes and handouts from 1994-2004 (see the FAQ), and came to some startling conclusions. Below you'll see a diagram of their 2004 breakdown of dollars received in handouts per dollar taken in taxes. Pay special attention to the blue bars (the total handouts per dollar of taxes). Look at the bottom 3/5ths of our population. Those groups get more in handouts than they pay in taxes; they're the takers. The top 2/5ths are paying more in taxes than they get in handouts; they're the givers.

Spending per dollar of taxes

Since the American form of government (thankfully a representative republic, not a democracy) responds fairly quickly to the will of American voters, we have the ability to force our elected representatives to give us tax dollars as handouts. If our representatives refuse our demands for goodies, a majority of us can replace them with more pliable politicians.

So what happens when the takers outnumber the givers at the polls on Election Day? We hit the "tax tipping point." Since everyone gets one vote (unless ACORN is involved) regardless of their tax-to-handout ratio, the takers force the government to soak the givers. Eventually, the givers get tired of being punished for their success. The result is predictable:

Calculating how far society's top earners can be pushed before they stop (or cut back on) producing is difficult. But the incentives are easy to see. Voters who benefit from government programs will push for higher tax rates on higher earners -- at least until those who power the economy and create jobs and wealth stop working, stop investing, or move out of the country.


...

The sequence is always the same. High-tax, big-spending policies force the economy to lose momentum. Then growth in government spending outstrips revenues. Fiscal and trade deficits soar. Public debt, excessive taxation and unemployment follow. The central bank tries to solve the problem by printing money. International competitiveness is lost and the currency depreciates. The system stagnates. And then a frightened electorate returns conservatives to power.

Barack Obama claims he'll give a "tax cut" to 95% of Americans (for the sake of argument, let's ignore the impossibility of doing that while also paying for his massive expansion in government spending). His magic "tax cut" for those who pay no income taxes is really a tax credit. That's a handout to the takers, funded by higher taxes on the givers. The chart above will get more lopsided, with the blue bars on the right shrinking and the blue bars on the left growing.


Redistribute Wealth!America cannot keep confiscating more and more money from the givers and sending it to the takers. There's no such thing as a free lunch. If you're one of the givers creating jobs and capital, you'll only tolerate punishment for so long before you take rational steps to reduce your vulnerability. You'll start shifting your capital away from productive uses and into tax shelters dictated by loopholes in the law. You'll cut costs by hiring fewer employees or getting rid of current employees. You might even decide to escape the punishment of the takers by closing down your business or moving it overseas to a country with friendlier tax policies.

Now multiply this scenario to include all of America's private sector, and you'll start to understand the inevitable result of a tax-and-spend policy like Barack Obama's. He believes he can tax and spend his way to prosperity, but he can't (or won't) see that he'll push our economy over the tax tipping point and into either a severe recession or an actual depression. Our current economic downturn is already worsening as Obama's victory grows more probable, and one hundred top economists recently warned of the impending disaster of Obamanomics.

Barack Obama is more than Jimmy Carter on steroids. He's about to repeat Herbert Hoover's tragically foolish response to an economic downturn. If Obama wins this election, he will drive us into a Second Great Depression.

When is a budget cut not a budget cut?

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A cut is not a cut when you're playing games with the federal budget.

Imagine that the Federal Whatchamacallit Administration (FWA) has a current budget of $100 billion for 2006, and the Bush administration requests $120 billion for 2007.

Now imagine that the happy little piglets on the House Appropriations Committee draft their 2007 budget with another $30 billion in the FWA authorization bill ... the better to fund several Congressmen's pet projects. Pretty straightforward so far, and sadly very predictable:

Baseline budgeting

Now let's say that the full House of Representatives, backed by the Bush Administration, objects to the pork. They change the FWA's 2007 budget back to $120 billion, which looks like this:

Baseline budgeting

Naturally, if you're a tax-and-spend Washington politician and you hate being told "no", you immediately call a press conference to denounce the horrible "cut" in the FWA budget.

But wait! How can it be a "cut" if the budget went up? It's a common scare tactic that comes from a system called "baseline budgeting", and it's a deceptively easy way to scare uninformed voters into supporting the tax-and-spend piglets in expensive suits.

The Congressional Budget Office defines the baseline as a benchmark for measuring the budgetary effects of proposed changes in federal revenue or spending, with the assumption that current budgetary policies or current services are continued without change. The baseline includes automatic adjustments for inflation and anticipated increases in program participation. Baseline, or current services, budgeting, therefore builds automatic, future spending increases into Congress's budgetary forecasts.


Baseline budgeting tilts the budget process in favor of increased spending and taxes. For example, if an agency's budget is projected to grow by $100 million, but only grows by $75 million, according to baseline budgeting, that agency sustained a $25 million cut. That is analogous to a person who expects to gain 100 pounds only gaining 75 pounds, and taking credit for losing 25 pounds. The federal government is the only place this absurd logic is employed.

You can also sometimes see the flip side of this silliness in action when politicians try to paint themselves as budget-cutters, while actually spending more. You've heard of stores that fool consumers by artificially raising prices just before a "deep discount sale", right? Politicians pull the same trick regularly.

So the next time you hear scary stories like "Republicans will cut veterans' benefits", or "McCain will cut Medicare", don't swallow the bait without thinking. First, find out whether those sneaky politicians are playing the baseline budgeting game again.

Tax Cuts 101

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Would you rather eat a thick slice from a small pie, or a slightly thinner slice from a much larger pie?

Tax Cuts 101

If you can grasp this concept, then you can figure out why tax cuts increase tax revenue.

Mark Goldblatt and Gary Wolfram hammer the point home.

Sarah Palin's comments opposing gay "marriage" in a recent interview:

Allah over at Hot Air worries about the federalism implications of a federal marriage amendment:

Normally I'd call this another reason for the base to love her, but the implications for federalism make me wonder how reaction will shake out. Althouse, who's been pretty high on her (but isn't a member of the base, needless to say), finds it "genuinely dismaying." I find it more perplexing than anything else given that she's on record recently as supporting a federalist approach to abortion. I can understand the opposite position, of banning abortion at the federal level via amendment (as Huckabee wants to do) but letting the states handle marriage on grounds that the dire moral imperative in protecting innocent life should trump normal conservative inclinations towards state rights, but what's the argument for Palin's vice versa? Is it simply a question of identifying which issue federal judges are more likely to tinker with at this point and taking that issue out of their hands before they can act? McCain shares that concern -- but thinks that any amendment can and should come after a problematic ruling, not before.

Allah needn't worry. Amending the Constitution is an inherently federalist process (emphasis mine):

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
U.S. Constitution, Article V

Through their legislatures, the states get the last word on any proposed amendment, and the citizens of the states have a helluva lot of influence over state legislators. If a federally-introduced amendment does not have the support of the vast majority of the citizenry, it will not be ratified.

More good stuff from Alfonzo Rachel

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A brief explanation of why he is what he is:

From Alfonzo Rachel's mouth ...

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... to God's ears.

H/T: Neptunus Lex

Update: More from Alfonzo Rachel.

Update 2: And from Barack Obama's mouth ...

Bill Whittle on the GOP

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My all-time favorite online essayist, Bill Whittle, has a knack for conveying my own impressions better than I ever could:

Sarah Palin has done more than unify and electrify the base. She's done something I would not have thought possible, were it not happening in front of my nose: Sarah Palin has stolen Barack Obama's glamour. She's stolen his excitement, robbed his electricity, burgled his charisma, purloined his star power, and taken his Hope and Change mantra, woven it into a cold-weather fashion accessory, and wrapped it around her neck.

A candidate who is young, funny, well-spoken, intelligent, charming, drop-dead gorgeous -- and one of ours? Is this actually happening?

I have personally seen hundreds of crusty, old-school paleocons who despised McCain now saying "He finally listened to us." By picking Palin -- instead of Lieberman, who we all know he wanted -- he has told conservatives that he gets it. They're not holding their noses and voting any more. They want yard signs and bumper stickers -- they can't wait to vote GOP. And the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, folks: they are writing checks.

I've seen post after post on Hillary forums about how much they love Sarah, how they are energized and lifted out of depression by her (and the sight of an actual Roll Call made some of them weep). They gush about how she reminds them of their hero, how tough and savvy and unafraid she is. And I have seen these women, hard-core, feminist Democrats for 30 years and more, sit in slack-jawed amazement at Palin and at how fiercely Republicans -- Republicans! -- are defending her, backing her, and cheering her to the rafters. These Clinton supporters say they don't know what to think any more: The Republicans are behaving like Democrats and the Democrats are behaving like Republicans!

If you think that's an insult, you've got it exactly backwards. That is not only a huge compliment from these abandoned, centrist Democrats who bemoan the loss of their party to the radicals, it is an early rumbling of a tectonic shift in American politics which we are only dimly beginning to grasp. Who are the real feminists? A significant portion of our former hard-core opposition is now rethinking in a fundamental way who it is that actually does what their former allies only talk about.

The Democrat leadership just doesn't get it. When Sarah's sworn in as Vice President, they'll redouble their venomous vein-popping Bush-hating fury and aim it all at her. Sad.

Video: Sarah Palin's speech

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Talk about bringing a tank to a gunfight ...

I really hope your buddy John McCain will straighten up and fly right after reading your upcoming columns, Fred.

How do you solve a problem like McCain?

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Brad Smith at RedState crystallizes the concerns rattling around in my mind over the nomination of John McCain in a clear-eyed and unemotional post. He looks at all the possibilities that worry conservatives and comes to a fairly bleak conclusion.

Atrocious policies? Check. Stubbornness and temperament? Check. The critical importance of winning the war against jihadists? Check. Judicial nominations? Check. The Democrats' likely actions if elected? Check. Division in the Republican Party throughout a McCain administration? Check. Most importantly, McCain's almost certain inability to shift his stance to conservative orthodoxy and have any hope of presiding effectively (assuming he can even win the election)? Oh, yes indeed ... check-o-rama.

Here's Smith's take on the dilemma McCain faces because of his repeated slanders of our motives:

For example, it is not just that Senator McCain opposes opening ANWR for oil drilling, but that he implies that those who support drilling in ANWR (the bulk of his party) would favor drilling in the Grand Canyon, something not remotely comparable and something no conservative wants to do. It is not just that he promoted restrictions on political speech, but he felt it necessary to call fellow Republican senators “corrupt.” It is not only that he was less than enthusiastic about the agenda of many evangelicals, but that he felt it necessary to call them, “agents of intolerance.” It was not enough for him to oppose President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 – he felt the need to denounce them as “tax cuts for the rich” in leftist lingo that left most Democrats in the dust. The list could go on and on.

...

Moreover, if Senator McCain is truly a “straight-talker” who tells people “things they don’t want to hear,” then we must take these types of comments – many of them repeated several times, some of them part of set piece speeches – as his true beliefs. In that case, it appears that Senator McCain really hopes to lead into battle a group of people he considers to be boorish, stupid, yahoos. It is understandable if this doesn't inspire the troops. If he is merely scoring political points, well, the “straight talking” image goes by the boards.

Which is it? Is he the leader of the boorish, stupid yahoos? Or is he not a straight talker after all? Don't expect a clarification anytime soon from candidate McCain.

Speaking personally, I'll hold my nose and vote for John McCain in November if he can do just two things.



  1. Convince me that he clearly understands the nature and aims of our jihadist enemies, and that he has a coherent long-term strategy for crushing them.

  2. Convince me that he will nominate judges like John Roberts and Samuel Alito without insisting on a pro-campaign-finance-reform litmus test ... and push them through a Democrat-controlled Senate.


If he can do that I'll vote for him. Otherwise, he can forget it. Convince me, Senator.

Video: McCain is surprisingly liberal

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A very well-thought-out ad.

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Update: A dossier on McCain (PDF document), courtesy of the same folks who made the ad above:

Executive Summary


For the past year, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, has been vigorously attempting to convince conservative leaders and primary and caucus voters, whose support is critical in the Republican presidential nominating process, that he is the "right" choice.

He indeed boasts an impressive resume. He is a war hero. He is a distinguished United States senator in his fourth term—re-elected in 2004 with 77% of the vote. His media appeal is the envy of politicians on both sides of the aisle.

But throughout his Capitol Hill career, John McCain has loudly and proudly opposed a myriad of bedrock conservative principles. His record is replete with glaring examples of why conservatives should not support his presidential candidacy. On issues like abortion, campaign finance, global warming, gun control, illegal immigration, judicial appointments, same sex marriage, stem cell research, tax relief, and terrorist interrogation methods, McCain has staked out positions that are anathema to conservatism.

Consider campaign finance regulations, which is McCain’s signature issue and thus epitomizes his political worldview. As even the senator himself has conceded, banning political speech in the run-up to an election violates the First Amendment. Yet McCain believes there is a higher good than the Constitution—the purported purity of the political process—to be enforced by that instrument of incorruptibility: government itself. Never mind that McCain has taken millions of dollars from the corrupting "special interests" that he decries. It seems voters are just supposed to trust that John McCain, rather than we the people, knows what’s best.

McCain’s views and votes aren’t his only problems. News reports confirm that he has considered changing his party affiliation, and during the 2000 presidential primary campaign he actually ran against the Christian conservative base. The result speaks for itself: George W. Bush stood strong with conservatives—and won both the Republican nomination and the presidency. Conservatives understand that John McCain is pandering to us, in the hope that we will minimize his past apostasy. But the apostasy isn’t just in the past—it’s in the very fiber of his character. Conservatives deserve a standard-bearer who is completely committed to a conservative agenda, not one who just mouths its slogans. In other words, we want an heir to Ronald Reagan.

John McCain is decidedly not that person.

What will the Republican Party look like after the South Carolina primary on Saturday? Will it split apart to look like this?

Conservative trio (false)

 

Or will it still reflect the Reagan Coalition and look like this?

Conservative trio (true)

I pray it's the latter. But if Mike Huckabee's blatant populism or John McCain's war record carries the day, I suspect the party is headed for the former.

Greg Alterton examines Mike Huckabee's "vote-for-me-because-I'm-a-Christian" strategy at Race42008.com:

Despite what Huckabee has suggested, I don’t think we evangelicals are welcomed in the party as long as we keep our place. I think we’re welcomed in the party as long as we add something of substance to the conservative foundation of the Republican Party, and as long as we approach politics pragmatically, maturely, and are determined to be part of a diverse coalition aimed at winning elections, which is required for political success and the advancement of our principles in the politics and policies of the nation.


...

A number of years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of students from a number of private Christian high schools who had come to Sacramento for a week-long Model Legislature. I was asked to talk about the role of Christians in politics and government. What I told them is that the role of Christians in government is the same as the role of Christians who are lawyers, teachers, doctors, engineers, or greeters at WalMart – to reflect the fruit of the Spirit and the character of Christ; to treat people with respect and deference; to conduct oneself with civility, honesty, and integrity; to approach one’s profession with the spirit and attitude of a servant; to bless one’s enemies and not curse them. If Christians do that, they will have a far greater impact for good in this country, and for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, than they will in pushing any particular political agenda.

My observation is that many of my socially conservative brethren, particularly those who love being pandered to by candidates for the presidency, have lost sight of this.

One reason for my frequent criticism of Huckabee's positions is that I'm a committed evangelical Christian and a serious conservative. If people like me don't criticize Huckabee, his supporters could very easily misinterpret all criticism from non-evangelicals as nothing more than thinly-veiled bias against evangelicals.

Is Mike Huckabee a liberal?

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Joe Carter wants to know. My contributions to the debate:

Joe Carter was the research director for Mike Huckabee's campaign until a few weeks ago. Here's hoping he responds to the charges before South Carolina Republican primary voters run out of time to base their votes on something more than emotional warmth toward a fellow Christian.

On January 2nd, Hugh Hewitt posted a message from Arkansas resident David Thompson, who offers seven detailed arguments against any conservative Christian supporting Mike Huckabee as the Republican nominee for president.

I've reproduced the text in full below, in the hope that my fellow conservative Christians in South Carolina and elsewhere will think twice before voting for Mike Huckabee.

A Plea from Arkansas: Christian Conservatives Need to Take a Closer Look at Mike Huckabee's Record as Governor

by David Thompson

As a conservative, evangelical, politically-active father of four in Arkansas I believe it is imperative for like-minded voters to become more familiar with the Mike Huckabee that just completed 10 years as our governor. I realize it’s sometimes hard to know what to believe during a campaign, so I've tried to include links to published stories, with most coming from years past when the events noted were taking place.

For those who don't know much about me, I attend a very conservative evangelical church in Central Arkansas that includes some other politically active members (past/present elected officials, lobbyists, candidates, etc), and our family currently homeschools our young children. Since 1996, I have been heavily involved in numerous Republican campaigns in Arkansas at all levels (even managing a few). I have also served as vice chairman of the Republican committee in Arkansas' largest county. Yet I don't know of a single person in these circles who is supporting Huckabee for President - although I do know many that are definitely not supporting him. Of course, this is anecdotal evidence, but consider that Huckabee just finished serving 10 years as our governor (and I am sure there are many Republicans in Arkansas who are supporting him - I just don't know them). The truth is, most conservatives in Arkansas had written him off long before his Presidential bid.

That said, here are 7 key reasons I cannot in good conscience support Mike Huckabee as the Republican nominee for President. This is based on his record here and is not a personal attack - I cannot speak for his or anybody's motives. This list is not the result of intense research - it's based on what I know and have experienced first-hand as a politically-active conservative Arkansan. It's a list I could have given you 6 months or even 2 years ago. And I am not attempting to echo or give validity to any criticism he is now receiving nationally (and I don’t think ALL of it is fair). This is the Mike Huckabee we know.

1) Governor Huckabee did lasting damage to the Republican Party and conservative movement in Arkansas.

It's hard to go after Democrats with a conservative message when your Republican Governor is out front releasing violent criminals, providing state benefits to illegals, pushing tax increases, expanding government spending and programs, and constantly walking an ethical tight-rope (more on each of these items to follow). This tied our party's hands - many conservatives got frustrated, apathy set in, and some quit the fight. In addition:

  • Huckabee insisted on having "his people" controlling the Republican Party campaign organizations that are set up in Arkansas each election cycle. He also insisted that his guy remain as state party chairman when party leaders planned to make a change. The mismanagement and ineptness that followed was so great that the Republican Party plunged into debt and the Federal Election Commission levied the the largest fine ever against a state political party following an investigation of the 2000 and 2002 election cycles. Obviously, this set back the Republican Party of Arkansas for years.
  • When Huckabee started his first full term in 1998, Arkansas had just elected a Republican Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senator, and 2 Republican Congressmen. Upon his leaving office in 2007, Republicans now hold no statewide offices, have no Republicans in the U.S.Senate, and only one Republican Congressman remains.
  • It was often said during Huckabee's term that Arkansas had 3 parties: Republican Party, Democrat Party, and the Huckabee Party.

"He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party in shambles." - Phyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum

"His support for taxes split the Republican Party, and damaged our name brand." – Former Arkansas State Representative Randy Minton (R)

"I think if they knew [his record] it would totally de-energize them . . . his policies are just wrong." – Former Arkansas State Senator Jim Holt’s (R) warning for conservatives around the country who think they have found their candidate in Mike Huckabee.


2) Governor Huckabee's non-stop clemencies continually hindered the work of criminal prosecutors and miffed Republicans. The numbers are staggering - over 1,000 clemencies and commutations of criminals as governor. Most people now are familiar with his push to parole convicted rapist Wayne Dumond, who went on to rape and murder a Missouri woman less than a year after his release. But there are many more troubling facts regarding Huckabee’s pattern of releasing violent criminals. While I cannot speak for Huckabee’s motives, it seems clear that he used poor judgment and was reckless with this executive power.

  • Huckabee released more criminals than the combined total of every border state to Arkansas (made up of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana) - even though the combined population of these states is 16 times higher than Arkansas'. He also issued more than double the clemencies of his three predecessors combined.
  • In many cases, Huckabee's actions set loose savage criminals convicted of grisly murders over the passionate objections of prosecutors and victims' families. This American Spectator story details some of these violent cases and explains the resulting difficulties they presented prosecutors working with other victims and their families.
  • Huckabee and his appointees ignored the laws on the books, including the requirement to notify victims' families and explain the reasons for those clemencies. He said to fully explain his reasoning would cost millions of dollars and "take money away from education and Medicaid and other things."
  • A 2004 investigative article by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found that prisoners had a better chance of being granted clemency by Huckabee if they had a mutual acquaintance, labored at the governor's mansion under a prisoner work program, or a minister intervened on their behalf. Prosecutors say Huckabee was more inclined to release or reduce the sentences of prisoners if he had direct contact with them or was lobbied by those close to him.
  • He often refused to learn the facts of the cases (sometimes not even reading the murderer's own confession), made no attempt to get the police/prosecutor's case files, or even get input from the victims' families before making his decision.
  • The clemency granted to one multiple DUI offender was likely tied to large political contributions from the offender's family, including a soft money political organization run by Huckabee's people.
  • Good summary article

"Last January, after Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid, he issued 16 clemencies, and there was a huge outcry. That's how many Huckabee averages per month."Arkansas Leader, (August 11, 2004)

"He seems to believe that granting clemency to murderers, rapists, drunk drivers and other convicted criminals is a part of the everyday affairs of the governor's office rather than something that he should approach cautiously and selectively." – Robert Herzfeld, Saline County Prosecuting Attorney during Huckabee’s tenure

"I know some of the people that Huckabee let loose have reoffended. Some of them we've caught and some of them we haven't caught......I used to be able to tell the families of victims, in all good faith and candor, that it was a rare event when a governor commuted a sentence and let a murderer back out, or a rapist back out or a child molester back out. But I can't do that anymore." - Larry Jegley, longtime Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney

"I felt like Huckabee had more compassion for the murderers than he ever did for the victims." - Elaine Colclasure, co-leader of the Central Arkansas chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.

3) Governor Huckabee's pattern was to ignore immigration laws, often in the name of Christianity.

Huckabee opposed immigration enforcement as governor on a number of fronts. Immigration enforcement groups call Huckabee’s record on immigration "a disaster" and reference him as they guy who "scares the heck" out of them.

  • In 2001, Huckabee’s human services liaison Robert Trevino pushed for legislation to provide driver’s licenses for illegals. It was understood by legislators that he acted with Huckabee's blessing.
  • In 2001, Huckabee opposed a measure to require proof of citizenship to vote.
  • In 2005, Huckabee supported a bill that offered illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates and made them eligible for the same merit-based scholarships to Arkansas state colleges and universities as legal citizens. The bill would have violated federal law and was not enacted by the legislature.
  • In 2005, he opposed a bill that denied some state benefits to illegals and required proof of citizenship to vote (patterned after Arizona’s Prop 200 that has been successful in curtailing illegal immigration in that state). In this story, Huckabee called the measure "un-American….inflammatory….race-baiting and demagoguery." He added that the bill "inflames those who are racist and bigots and makes them think there’s a real problem. But there’s not." He then singled out State Senator Jim Holt, also an openly professing Christian, saying, "I drink a different kind of Jesus juice."
  • In 2005, Huckabee criticized federal agents for a recent crackdown on illegals, saying that it wasn’t fair to the innocent family members of those targeted in the operation. (No word on whether he also opposes raids on other law-breakers who might also have innocent family members affected by the fruits of their illegal activity.)
  • In 2005, Huckabee promoted an "open door" policy on immigration as he addressed the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) national convention in Little Rock. LULAC is a left-leaning group that opposes virtually all measures of immigration enforcement.

"He was an absolute disaster on immigration as governor. Every time there was any enforcement in his state, he took the side of the illegal aliens." - Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that played a major role in rallying the phone calls that helped defeat this year's Senate immigration bill.

"I would hope he could be trusted to secure the borders, but given his track record in Arkansas, I don't see the conservative he has portrayed himself to be in Iowa." - Jake Files, a former Arkansas state representative and current chairman of the Sebastian County Republican Party

4) Governor Huckabee was no friend to fiscal conservatives in Arkansas.

Huckabee’s record on taxes, government spending, and growing government programs was miserable. Basically, when the economy got tough, Huckabee expected families like mine to tighten our budgets in order to help state government meet its spending whims.

  • In 2003, Huckabee called a special session of the legislature to push for a tax increase to make up for spending shortfalls. This led to his signing HB1039, an across the board income tax and tobacco tax increase. Huckabee even refused to consider a Republican proposal to cut spending and use general improvement funds (i.e., legislative pork) to make up for the budget shortfall. Ironically, the same day Huckabee was practically begging the Arkansas legislature to raise taxes (here’s the video), President Bush was also in Little Rock to push for his tax cut plan. (Note: When asked about this video recently, Huckabee gave a misleading response to Fox News, blaming his tax increase plea on a court order. This prompted State Representative Johnny Key, the current Republican Leader in the Arkansas House, to send out a letter correcting the accuracy of Huckabee's statement.)
  • If that weren't enough, Huckabee called a 2nd special legislative session in 2003 to pass a nearly one-cent state sales tax increase. The measure also expanded the sales tax to include previously exempted services (for more information and context, see reason #6 below).
  • During Huckabee’s term, Arkansas showed a net tax increase of $505 million, and the average Arkansan’s tax burden grew from $1,969 to $2,902. Governor Huckabee raised more taxes in 10 years in office than Bill Clinton did in his 12 years.
  • During Huckabee’s 10 years as governor, state spending more than doubled (from $6.6 billion to $16.1 billion), higher education and public schools got big increases, as did social services. Meanwhile, the state added about 8,000 full-time workers to its payroll during that period, a 19% increase (according to the Bureau of Legislative Research).
  • The conservative Cato Institute gave Huckabee an "F" for his final term as governor on its Fiscal Policy Report Card, saying, "Huckabee’s leadership has left taxpayers in Arkansas much worse off." His grade was lower than 15 of the 21 Democrat Governors. His overall grade as governor was a D.

"The main reason for the drop was his insistence on raising taxes at almost every turn throughout his final term." – Cato Institute explaining why Huckabee had dropped from a "D" to an "F" on their Fiscal Policy Report Card.

"[Huckabee] says he’s pro-family. If you’re raising taxes on the families of Arkansas, causing wives to go out and get jobs to make ends meet, that’s not pro-family." - Former Arkansas State Representative Randy Minton (R)

"In the past, he blamed Democrats for raising taxes...We voted for them, but he proposed them." - Arkansas State Senator John Paul Capps, a Democrat

5) Huckabee left a long trail of ethics questions while Governor of Arkansas

This is an area where I think Huckabee does receive some unfair criticism. Some of the ethics charges against him were frivolous and politically motivated. However, it has been concerning for some time just how much the governor accepted in gifts and how he was seemingly always pushing ethical limits.

  • During his tenure, Huckabee accepted 314 gifts valued overall at more than $150,000, according to documents filed with the Arkansas' Secretary of State office.
  • The Huckabees set up wedding registries at local department stores as Mike was leaving office – even though they had been married for 30 years. State ethics laws prohibited Huckabee from receiving gifts of more than $100……but there was an exception for wedding gifts.
  • Judicial Watch, a non-partisan group dedicted to fighting government corruption, listed Huckabee among their Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians of 2007. Huckabee was one of only three Republican politicians to make the list.

6) Huckabee's education record shows him to be an advocate of the "status quo"

The New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association (NEA) has endorsed Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee for the upcoming Primary elections. This is the first time in memory that they have recommended a Republican (in 2004 they endorsed Howard Dean). They likely chose Huckabee because:

  • Huckabee has consistently opposed virtually all proposals for education reform, including school choice vouchers.
  • The former president of Eagle Forum of Arkansas said Huckabee "continued the Hillary Clinton education plan" as our governor.
  • When the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Arkansas’ public school funding was "inequitable," Huckabee took the ruling as a mandate to raise taxes in order to once again increase school funding...which he did. (To his credit, however, he also used the opportunity to consolidate some of the school districts in the state - although rural legislators severely watered down the proposal.)

7) Huckabee has very little support for his Presidential bid here in Arkansas

For the most part those in his party who know him best are not supporting him.

  • In October, a University of Arkansas poll showed that, among all Presidential candidates in both parties, only 8% of Arkansans said they were supporting Mike Huckabee.
  • That same week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that only one-third of Republicans in the Arkansas Legislature said they were supporting their former governor's Presidential bid.
  • After this story, the Huckabee campaign published a list of supporters in his home state. The Arkansas News Bureau then reported that as some of the names on Huckabee's Arkansas endorsement list were used without permission and had to be removed.
  • This is purely anecdotal, but despite my involvement in Republican politics, I am unaware of any of my Republican friends who are supporting Huckabee. I have seen maybe 3 Huckabee for President bumper stickers – and I live in Republican west Little Rock and work 2 miles from the state capitol where Huckabee just completed over 10 years as Governor (my wife says she saw her first sticker today…..guess he's picking up steam here!).

"...if Huckabee didn't have things sewn up with Republicans back home, what kind of message did that send?....The truth is that Huckabee hasn't had that much support from former and current Republican legislators." - David Sanders, conservative columnist for Arkansas News Bureau (November 11, 2007)

Conclusion:

I realize the Republican Presidential field does not leave true conservatives with much to get excited about. However, it is unlikely I will support Huckabee over any of the Republican frontrunners because of his liberal record, his questionable judgment, and his reckless use of power while Governor. Now is not the time for Republicans to compromise on core conservative values. More importantly, we need a leader with a history of using strong judgment as our nation continues to lead the world in the War on Terror.

Two final questions:

1) Given the many vulnerabilities in his record, what is the likelihood that Huckabee would win in a general election? Democrat National Committee officials have already been quoted as saying that they see Huckabee as "easy kill" and refer to him as "the glass jaw -- and they're just waiting to break it." The DNC has issued over 200 attack press releases on Republican candidates - only 4 on Huckabee, the last one coming 10 months ago.

2) Does his record as governor represent someone who should be given greater power and responsibility? Is he Commander and Chief material? Leader of the free world? National Review recently expressed concern, and Huckabee raised eyebrows with recent comments critical of U.S. Foreign policy and our role in the world - he was essentially repeating the Democrat talking points!

Feel free to pass this letter on or contact me if you have any questions about anything stated here. I have tried very carefully to be fair, accurate, and to stick to facts from Huckabee's record. But it's certainly possible I made a mistake somewhere or worded something poorly. I would be more than happy to further dialogue on any of these issues.

Sincerely,

David Thompson

Little Rock, Arkansas

Be careful with your vote, folks.

Fred Thompson's final pitch to Iowa voters

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At just under seventeen minutes, it would cost too much to put this talk on TV as an advertisement, but it's worth careful consideration nonetheless.


I don't know about you, but it's easy for me to picture Fred Thompson delivering speeches like that from behind the desk in the Oval Office. Hopefully if you're in Iowa you'll find yourself persuaded to vote for Fred. He isn't as pretty and pliable as Mitt Romney is, he doesn't cloak his liberalism with his faith like Mike Huckabee does, and he doesn't rely on a decade-long love affair with the mainstream media like John McCain does. Even more importantly he doesn't lust after the power of the presidency with every fiber of his being ... unlike Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama.

Fred08Rather, Fred's a cool-headed and principled man who understands that his skills, experience, and temperament uniquely qualify him to serve as the next President of the United States.

America doesn't need a stereotypically slick politician in the Oval Office. America deserves a president with a spine, who won't tolerate hostility from our enemies, and who will unabashedly support our allies.

We need a president who will care more about blunt honesty than political posturing, and who recognizes that the American people create the nation's wealth and are entitled to keep more of what they earn.

We need a president who will encourage legal immigration, refuse to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, enforce existing immigration laws, and remove the financial incentives that draw illegals to America.

We need a president who recognizes that fundamental individual rights are inalienable, a president who will appoint judges who understand that the U.S. Constitution means what it says, a president who will oppose arrogant federal judges who impose their own social policies because they think they know what's best for the rest of us.

We need a pro-life federalist president who understands the relationship between individual liberty, personal responsibility, a limited federal government and the rule of law.

We need Fred Thompson.

If you want a president who's flashy, loud, pushy, power-hungry, hot-tempered, morally flexible, or with a pretty head of hair, then Fred's not your candidate. But if instead you want a fearless, steady, serious and humble wartime president ... you know who to support.

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11:45 Update: Amen to Miss Beth.

Secular conservatives' circular firing squad

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Dave at NixGuy.com tipped me to a timely post by Erick Erickson at RedState.

The gist of it is a lament over secular conservatives' increasingly harsh criticism of Mike Huckabee apparently for his faith rather than for his muddled thinking on policy matters. Some quotes:

You know the most damnably aggravating thing about this campaign season for me? I continue to feel compelled to defend Mike Huckabee and I'm still convinced he'd hurt the party were he the nominee. And as I continue to defend Huckabee, some have decided I'm an anti-Mormon bigot, some have decided I must be a Huckabee supporter, and some have decided I've just lost my mind.


Here I go again defending the guy who I have no intention of voting for.

...

I tend to think it is this class of people ["Metropolitan Conservatives"] who should let the rest of us go after Huckabee. They should go silent. The more they speak in their condescending manner toward those who are, in reality, the bulk of the GOP base, the more they give away the game that they want us in the party -- they just wish we'd all shut the hell up and take orders instead.

...

The New York-Washington Corridor of Conservative Intelligentsia™ bristles at the idea that a back water social conservative from Arkansas has excited the base in a way the others haven't. We were, after all, suppose to go for Romney or Rudy. They told us so.

I don't want to defend Mike Huckabee. He's not my candidate. I don't yet see any major reasons to trust him on fiscal issues (though he did say he wants to kill the corporate income tax). But it's a sad day in the conservative movement when the conservative intelligentsia has sustained harsher words for a socially conservative Governor than a serial adulterer who has said this year that the government should provide assistance to poor women wanting abortions.

There are attacks to be made on Huckabee. But I think most of those who are making them are only helping Huckabee because the snideness of their tone overshadows the accuracy of their attacks.

Erick's post captures my own misgivings. Since I'm one of those "Jesus freaks from flyover country", I bristle at the condescension from our supposed betters among metropolitan conservatives.

Shooting yourself in the footHuck's not my choice by any stretch, but he's a fellow Christian. In a sense, when the upper-crusters dump on him for his beliefs, they're dumping on me too. Now I expect to catch flak from the secular leftists, but it's harder to take from fellow Republicans.


We socially conservative Christians tend to be fiscally conservative too, and we're foreign policy hawks more often than not. We're not anti-science; we see the universe as an amazing creation that runs under scientific principles put in place by a rational God. We simply refuse to ignore the evidence of God's work out of some misguided and mechanistic worldview that rigs the philosophical debate against the possibility of the supernatural. The secular conservatives disagree, which is fine. I can tolerate that, in the truly classical sense of the term.

But let's be blunt: there are a lot more of us conservative "Jesus freaks" than there are metropolitan secular conservatives. If they persist in flinging poo at their own allies, we'll politely take the hint and leave them to their lonely fits of pique atop their ivory towers. Of course, they'll have no luck with advancing our shared values of smaller government and a strong national defense. Ronald Reagan understood this. Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney seem to get it. But for some reason far too many Rudy McRomney backers have either forgotten that lesson or perhaps never learned it to begin with.

We conservative Christians have much more in common with secular conservatives than we do with any other major group. We don't make a habit of insisting that they become exactly like us, and we've dutifully pulled our share of the load since the 1980s. We can tolerate a lot of quiet disdain and open disagreement, but thumping on a prominent Christian simply because he's a Christian is beyond the pale.

If they've got two brain cells between them, the leaders of secular conservatism ought to re-evaluate who their natural allies are, and refrain from unnecessarily antagonizing them.

Sheesh. And they call us narrow-minded?

I especially like the part where Fred explains the differences between principles and issues.

Mike Huckabee's troubling record

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John Fund paints a familiar picture of a charming governor from Hope, Arkansas who wants to be president:

Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once "his No. 1 fan." She was bitterly disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says. "Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don't be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office."


Mike Huckabee and Bill ClintonPhyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee."

The business community in Arkansas is split. Some praise Mr. Huckabee's efforts to raise taxes to repair roads and work with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. Free-market advocates are skeptical. "He has zero intellectual underpinnings in the conservative movement," says Blant Hurt, a former part owner of, and columnist for, Arkansas Business magazine. "He's hostile to free trade, hiked sales and grocery taxes, backed sales taxes on Internet purchases, and presided over state spending going up more than twice the inflation rate."

...

Many Huckabee supporters have told me their man should be judged by what he's saying on the campaign trail today. Fair enough. Mr. Huckabee was the only GOP candidate to refuse to endorse President Bush's veto of the Democrats' bill to vastly expand the Schip health-care program. Only he and John McCain have endorsed the discredited cap-and-trade system to limit global-warming emissions that has proved a fiasco in Europe.

"It goes to the moral issue," he told an admiring group of environmentalists this month. Alan Greenspan blasts cap-and-trade in his new book as not feasible, noting that "jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained." Mr. Huckabee defends his plan as an "innovative" way to attain complete energy independence from foreign oil by 2013.

During a visit to the Journal last spring, Mr. Huckabee joked that one of his biggest challenges is that "like Bill Clinton I hail from Hope, Arkansas, and not every Republican wants to take a chance like that again." But it's Mr. Huckabee who is creating the doubts. "He's just like Bill Clinton in that he practices management by news cycle," a former top Huckabee aide told me. "As with Clinton there was no long-term planning, just putting out fires on a daily basis. One thing I'll guarantee is that won't lead to competent conservative governance."

If this is accurate, Huckabee doesn't sound like the best guy to face down the islamists, much less rein in Washington's profligate spending. It's not the first doubt I've had about Huckabee.

For an opposing view, read why former Fred Thompson backer Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost now endorses Huckabee.

I'm still a Fred Head.

Fred08

How not to fund a war

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SisyphusMy good friend and co-blogger Too Short and I got into an argument yesterday over whether President George W. Bush's administration will go down as one of the worst in American history. Among other things, Too Short objected strenuously to the income tax cuts that President Bush shoved through Congress a few years back. Evaluating the alternative takes some mental heavy lifting, so get ready to push uphill against the big-government mindset.


To my buddy's way of thinking, income tax cuts for "the rich" are a Bad Thing™ in a time of war, and we Americans should follow our grandparents' example during World War II and "sacrifice for the war effort" ... translated as "pay more taxes." Now I don't recall Too Short advocating a revival of programs like rationing and price controls and the WPA, which all went together with the 1930s-1940s package. Then again I might have just missed it when he said it. He wouldn't be the first to substitute wishful thinking for free market realities.

Squeezing blood from a stoneI argued that income tax cuts in wartime are not inherently a Bad Thing™. When taxes in general are excessively high, economic activity tails off as people lose their incentive to work, save, and invest. Next, government revenues shrink because the total amount of money available for taxation has shriveled. The big government advocate instinctively responds by raising taxes, which deepens the downward spiral (the Laffer Curve illustrates the general concept nicely).


If you're a government official trying to fund a wartime military machine, having no tax revenue is truly a Bad Thing™. A logical government in that situation lowers tax rates to stimulate the economy and raise tax revenues. Now it can buy guns and butter and F-22 Raptors. Pretty straightforward stuff so far, right?

My compadre Too Short retorted that I wasn't figuring in federal payroll taxes, which tend to hammer the poor. It was a point well taken since so far I was only talking about income tax cuts. I couldn't puncture his counterclaim because I didn't have the necessary data at my fingertips, so I asked for a temporary ceasefire.

I went looking for ammunition, and to my surprise I found that I was far more right than I realized.

The Tax Foundation pored over the dry, dusty tax and spending data collected by all levels of American government between 1991-2004, and they found that for every $1.00 of taxes that the poorest Americans forked over, they got $8.21 back.

There's more:

While the U.S. tax system is progressive, the distribution of government spending makes the overall fiscal system more progressive than is apparent from tax distributions alone. Using a microdata model we estimate the distribution of federal, state and local taxes and spending between 1991 and 2004. We find households in the lowest quintile of income received roughly $8.21 in federal, state and local government spending for every dollar of taxes paid in 2004, while households in the middle quintile received $1.30, and households in the top quintile received $0.41. Overall, tax payments exceeded government spending received for the top two quintiles of income, resulting in a net fiscal transfer of between $1.031 trillion and $1.527 trillion between quintiles. Both taxes and spending appear to have large distributional effects on households, and these effects have grown since 1991. The results suggest tax distributions alone are an inadequate measure of progressivity, and policymakers should examine both tax and spending distributions when judging the overall fairness of policy toward income groups.

Did you catch that? Yes, payroll taxes hit poorer people harder than they hit rich people. But when you account for all federal, state and local taxes and government spending on entitlements, my pal Too Short's idea of "increasing our sacrifices" via higher taxes on "the rich" just doesn't cut it. The folks at the lower end of the income scale more than make up for their payroll tax losses, and the folks higher up the line get royally hosed.

Remember that those dastardly "rich people" that our leftist friends love to hate are the very ones who risk their capital to create businesses, conduct research on new technology, and hire the rest of us. Without "the rich" we don't produce the best bullets and boots and cell phones. Without "the rich" our economy loses its advantage over the rest of the world.

Look at how we punish success:

Tax burdens and entitlement windfalls

Let that sink in for a moment. Does that seem like a wise idea in peacetime? How much less so in the middle of fighting a war!

Now look at it another way. Focus on the blue bars below:

Entitlements minus taxes

Don't repeat my initial mistake by looking at tax rates alone. You'll miss the big picture. Always, always, always figure in government spending when you're trying to figure out how to pay for a war. Our steeply progressive tax-and-spend system takes money from America's most productive people and showers it on the least productive. While you can make a good argument for keeping some parts of the social safety net, we're way beyond the point of absurdity now.

Here's a slightly more detailed summary of the report:

While many studies answer the question of who pays taxes in America, the question of who gets the most government spending is often overlooked. Just as some Americans bear a larger portion of the nation's tax burden than others, some Americans also receive a larger share of the nation's government spending.

This report summarizes the key findings of a comprehensive 2007 Tax Foundation study of federal, state and local taxes and government spending. The results show that when we consider the distribution of government spending as well as taxes, it provides a dramatically altered view of how U.S. fiscal policy affects Americans at different income levels than is apparent from the distribution of tax burdens alone.

Overall, we find that America's lowest-earning one-fifth of households received roughly $8.21 in government spending for each dollar of taxes paid in 2004. Households with middle-incomes received $1.30 per tax dollar, and America's highest-earning households received $0.41. Government spending targeted at the lowest-earning 60 percent of U.S. households is larger than what they paid in federal, state and local taxes. In 2004, between $1.03 trillion and $1.53 trillion was redistributed downward from the two highest income quintiles to the three lowest income quintiles through government taxes and spending policy.

These findings suggest tax distributions alone do not tell Americans how much the nation's fiscal system is helping or hurting low-income households. To answer that, we must look beyond tax burdens to government spending as well. Lawmakers who ignore the distribution of government spending risk making policy judgments based on an incorrect set of facts about the United States fiscal system.

In my buddy Too Short's defense, he joined me in criticizing runaway federal spending that makes drunken sailors look frugal. Reasonable folks are tired of creeping socialism, and we expect to see some real spending cuts before 2009's over. And I'm not talking about the Washington version of "cuts."

So what's the bottom line? Income tax cuts are still a good idea, and so are cuts in entitlement spending. If we do both, the economy will surge forward and government revenue will increase along with it. That translates into much more money available for the military. Seventy-year-old notions of "sacrifice" will punish the most productive Americans and further erode our military readiness.

Sorry, old buddy. You lose this round.

More info:
Tax Foundation report and accompanying Frequently Asked Questions

--

Update: TooShort's response

Conservatism in Hollywood

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The View has a new token conservative to keep ratings alive.  Welcome Sherri Shepherd!  I love that a conservative, right-minded woman has a big role in TV but the conservative is always out numbered in situations like this.  At least Law and Order writers have some new fodder.  I'm happy that Sherri is making a large, well deserved paycheck and joins the ranks with Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Ann Coulter even if that comes with a hit sitcom condoning her demise.  She's an outspoken conservative, which means she must be strong enough to take whatever comes her way. 

Just crossed paths with Laura Ingraham

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Laura Ingraham's "Power To The People" book tour pulled into Cleveland today. Here I am at the WHK Meet & Greet over on the East Side.

laura_and_me.jpg

The lady radiates energy. She's on her tenth stop in this book tour, and won't get a break 'til the middle of next month. A three day break. She's gotta be tired but you sure can't tell by looking at her or listening to her. Laura's very friendly, outgoing, and charming ... the kind of person I'd enjoy hanging out with over pizza and beer. I'd love to just sit and hear her talk about the things she's done, the places she's been and the people she's met.

Laura, I hope you get a chance to work out at some point, just to vent some stress from the tour. At least go for a run, girl. You'll go batty by October otherwise. And the next time you roll through town, you and your producers drink on my tab. Never let it be said that this USCGA grad would withhold hospitality from friends of a squid like Joe (tempting though it might be).

Here's more on the author and her work.

 

My favorite talk show host kicks off her latest book tour by sitting down with Michelle Malkin:

I love this lady. Buy her books!

Mike Huckabee, Nanny Statist

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Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee couldn't resist pandering to the crowd at Lance Armstrong's recent "War on Cancer" get-together:

Huckabee committed to sign a nationwide smoking ban in public places, should such a measure win approval in Congress.

...

Huckabee described feelings of horror and helplessness when doctors diagnosed his wife several decades ago. She was diagnosed in 1975 with a spinal tumor doctors said were inoperable. She survived, but Huckabee said the experience left him "scared to death" of cancer.

What scares me to death is the prospect of the federal government becoming even more of a nanny state. I'm perfectly capable of deciding whether to smoke on my own, thankyouverymuch. If I want to fire up a celebratory cigar on the patio at the local watering hole some fine evening, the last thing I need to hear is a huffy "tut-tut" from some mincing bureaucrat in DC, followed by the sensation of my wallet getting lighter. I'm a big boy. Leave me be.

I take back what I said
about possibly supporting Huckabee.

--

Update: Mary Katharine Ham sees things like I do. Sheesh.

Update 2: Oh, for goodness' sake. The event was videotaped, and you can see that Huckabee wore a Livestrong bracelet ... and made a point of flashing it. Sound the Pander Alert.

1/12 Update: Former Huckabee research director Joe Carter asks for evidence that Mike Huckabee is liberal. I offer the information above as fodder for the conversation.

A labor question for Betty Sutton

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I just submitted the following question to my Representative, Betty Sutton (D-OH):

Should unions be allowed to make financial contributions to a politician or organization using funds from a union member's dues if he/she objects? Why or why not? For the purposes of this hypothetical, assume that no court has ruled on the issue.

We'll see how (or if) this labor lawyer responds. I suspect she'll send a canned reply with no specifics.

Happy Tax Day

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Good luck unraveling the U.S. Tax Code.

tax code map

That's The US Tax Code Map, which tries to represent the tangled mess visually as, well, a tangled mess.

Hat tip: JawsBlog

Laura Ingraham interviewed Fred Dalton Thompson this morning (mostly on immigration), and an excerpt of the audio's posted here (also as a downloadable MP3) . The excerpt lasts 4:46, but I don't see it posted anywhere in its entirety. I already pay for Laura's podcast, so I can listen to it but I can't post it myself. Here's the whole interview.

If Fred decides to run, my refrain will be ...

Fred Dalton Thompson

The Draft Fred Thompson site maintains a great collection of background info and news on the former Senator. National Review Online has transcripts and audio of Fred's recent radio commentaries.

Many of you Ohio conservatives are fed up with the Republican Party at every level, and you're prepared to sit out the election or even vote for Democrats. I know you mean well and you're right to be angry. You have reached such heights of frustration that you want to "throw all the bums out" as a way to spank the GOP ... and doing it will sure feel good.

But it's incredibly unwise.

When a football team has problem players who disrupt the team's efforts, only a foolish coach would fire the whole team just before the opening kickoff. The wise coach plays the game as well as he can, and only after the last second ticks down does he start shopping for replacements.

A wise woman sent an e-mail to Tom Blumer, one of my colleagues in the S.O.B. Alliance. She explains why we all need to vote for Republicans again, no matter how galling it might be. Don't leave this page until you've read her message.

If afterward your feelings still compel you to disregard cold reason and you choose to punish all Republicans this Tuesday ... well, there's nothing more I can say that will persuade you.

But rest assured that if the Democrats take over the Congress, when the next massive attack comes I will place the blame loudly and squarely on your shoulders. I expect liberals to be childish and vote with their feelings despite all inconvenient facts.

You, on the other hand, know better.

I'll be attending tonight's town hall meeting featuring Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and Ken Blackwell. If I get a chance to ask a question, what would you folks like me to bring up?

Poor moonbats. My heart bleeds.

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Michelle Malkin pillories the left's overwrought whining about her readers' use of the Digg.com social networking system. Apparently, all that self-righteous talk about diversity and open-mindedness doesn't apply when conservatives set foot in the marketplace of ideas.

Tough noogies, liberals. Get used to being challenged.

Courtesy of Ms Underestimated, here are the four segments that Laura Ingraham hosted on this past Friday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

Talking Points Memo
Unresolved Problem Segment (guests: Frank Gaffney and Gary Berntsen)
Impact Segment (guest: Juan Williams)
Back of the Book Segment (guest: Niles Gardiner)

Well done, Laura! I hope you take John Kasich's place as #1 guest host.

Townhall.com finally has RSS feeds

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Conservative rock songs

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National Review's list of the top 50 conservative rock songs is finally out!

6/8/06 Update: Carson Holloway plays the killjoy.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Zero Based Budgeting

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As long as I'm on a fiscal conservatism kick, I'll invite you to read NixGuy's brief and effective post about a different way of budgeting, this time on the state level. It's called Zero Based Budgeting, and it's fundamentally different from Baseline Budgeting.

When is a budget cut not a cut?

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A cut is not a cut when you're playing games with the federal budget.

Imagine that the Federal Blog Promotion Administration has a current budget of $100 billion for 2006, and the Bush administration requests $120 billion for 2007.

Now imagine that the happy little piglets on the House Appropriations Committee draft their 2007 budget with another $30 billion in the FBPA authorization bill ... the better to fund several Congressmen's pet projects. Pretty straightforward so far, and sadly very predictable:

Baseline budgeting

Now let's say that the full House of Representatives, backed by the Bush Administration, objects to the pork. They change the FBPA's 2007 budget back to $120 billion, which looks like this:

Baseline budgeting

Naturally, if you're a tax-and-spend Washington politician and you hate being told "no", you immediately call a press conference to denounce the horrible "cut" in the FBPA budget.

But wait! How can it be a "cut" if the budget went up? It's called "baseline budgeting", and it's a deceptively easy way to scare uninformed constituents into supporting the tax-and-spend piglets in expensive suits.

The Congressional Budget Office defines the baseline as a benchmark for measuring the budgetary effects of proposed changes in federal revenue or spending, with the assumption that current budgetary policies or current services are continued without change. The baseline includes automatic adjustments for inflation and anticipated increases in program participation. Baseline, or current services, budgeting, therefore builds automatic, future spending increases into Congress's budgetary forecasts.

Baseline budgeting tilts the budget process in favor of increased spending and taxes. For example, if an agency's budget is projected to grow by $100 million, but only grows by $75 million, according to baseline budgeting, that agency sustained a $25 million cut. That is analogous to a person who expects to gain 100 pounds only gaining 75 pounds, and taking credit for losing 25 pounds. The federal government is the only place this absurd logic is employed.

You can also sometimes see the flip side of this silliness in action when politicians try to paint themselves as budget-cutters, while actually spending more. You've heard of stores that fool consumers by artificially raising prices just before a "deep discount sale", right? Politicians pull the same trick regularly.

So the next time you hear scary stories like "cuts in the Veterans' Administration budget", don't swallow the bait without thinking. First, find out whether those sneaky politicians are playing the baseline budgeting game again.

TEL deal? What TEL deal?

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By now we've all heard about the deal between Ken Blackwell and the Republican leaders in the statehouse, in which the proposed TEL amendment is to be replaced by (supposedly) equivalent legislation. But that deal's now in some jeopardy because somebody forgot to scratch the governor's back. Bob Taft won't play ball:

Taft's fellow Republicans in the Legislature agreed earlier in the week to put limits on spending into state law so that GOP governor candidate Kenneth Blackwell can pull his unpopular Tax & Expenditure Limitation Amendment proposal from November's ballot

In exchange, Blackwell pledged to contact Citizens for Tax Reform, the committee that brought the issue, and encourage it to withdraw the proposal.

Taft's office said that's not good enough.

"We are not going to offer our feedback or have further discussions until the governor receives a letter committing to take this off the ballot, signed by every member of the petitioning committee," said Jon Allison, Taft's chief of staff.

The original deal was "legislation first, TEL withdrawal second." Now Bob Tax Taft wants that order reversed. Naturally that leaves Blackwell twisting in the wind, with no choice but to trust in the good faith of the party leaders who've spent years trying to undermine him. Would you trust those land sharks? Yeah, I thought not.

So here's the situation:

I know that many of us on the center right are very unhappy with the Republican Party, both here in Ohio and on the national level. RINO-bashing is easy partly because so many of them surtround us (God knows I enjoy it myself). But let's not get carried away by sitting out the November '06 election in an attempt to "teach the moderates a lesson."

We conservatives can't afford to sit out elections when things don't go our way every time. We have to stay engaged. Our best bet is to neutralize liberals, change moderates into conservatives, and turn conservatives into activists. Our battlegrounds include county party organizations, primary races, and the new media. We won't win every fight, but if we keep pushing and making steady gains every other year we'll reinvigorate the center right in the Republican Party.

I usually think of the typical conservative as someone who stands athwart history yelling "stop" (thank you, Mr. Buckley). But if you think about it, that means that it's not the liberals who are fighting inertia. We are! Government's default behavior is to slide toward statism and socialism. The public has inevitably learned that it can vote itself largesse from the public treasury*, so it falls to conservatives to stop the slide and drag society back toward liberty.

When we disengage as Steven Kelso is tempted to do, we allow the socialist slide to accelerate. That's not the smart way to teach moderates and liberals a lesson. We need to constantly persuade and demonstrate and illustrate so that we can recruit enough conservatives to dig in and reverse the slide. We can't win over the DeWines and the Voinoviches, but we can eventually replace them with folks like Bill Pierce. Jim Geraghty summarizes the strategy nicely here and here and here and here.

I realize that it gets tiring to fight and lose as much as we do, but if we don't fight we'll lose everything. Pause and catch your breath, conservatives, but don't quit.

Cross-posted at the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance

Tax cuts 101

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Would you rather eat a thick slice from a small pie, or a slightly thinner slice from a much larger pie?

Little pieBig pie

If you can grasp this concept, then you can figure out why tax cuts increase tax revenue.

UPDATE: Mark Goldblatt and Gary Wolfram hammer the point home.

Michelle Malkin announces a new conservative Internet broadcast network called Hot Air. Check it out, and sign up for comment-posting privileges while the opportunity lasts.

I'll be reading Hugh Hewitt's newest book today:

So far, so good!

Read this short interview in the Toledo Blade. In it, Ken Blackwell gives straightforward answers that match his stated beliefs (which haven't changed since he declared his candidacy). Want an unabashed conservative in the Governor's mansion? Here's your guy.

Love him or hate him, he's been consistent for years.

Hat tip: NixGuy.com

I've been under the impression that President Bush spends money like a sailor on shore leave. Orrin Judd has me thinking that I might be wrong.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Harriet Miers roundup

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The arguments over Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers show no sign of cooling off. Fortunately for those of us clamoring for more information, some of her writings are now available online thanks to That School Up North (Hat tip: The Volokh Conspiracy). I've not read them yet, but maybe there'll be something there that can reassure me that Miers really is a strong constitutional originalist.

The entire SCOTUS nomination process sure has become a mess, hasn't it? Mark Levin lays a big chunk of the blame for this latest trainwreck at the feet of the Gang of Fourteen, and I have to agree. Paul at Power Line isn't too keen on this bunch either.

While I keep thinking about this, here's a roundup of opinions from conservatives on both sides of the fight:




 
Con
 
Charles Krauthammer: "It will be argued that this criticism is elitist. But this is not about the Ivy League. The issue is not the venue of Miers's constitutional scholarship, experience and engagement. The issue is their nonexistence."
Daniel Henninger:

"Across these many years conservatives have been creating a structured legal edifice to stand against a liberal trend toward aggrandized federal power that began in the 1930s. Chief Justice William Rehnquist's "New Federalism," which devolves many powers back to the states, was one such example. Harriet Miers may share these reformist views, but her contribution to them is zero. Conservatives are upset because they see this choice as frittering away an opportunity of long-term consequence. ... A Miers confirmation validates nothing, gives voice to nothing."



David Limbaugh deflates charges of elitism:

"One wonders whether those crying "elitism" would choose the best available lawyer to represent them if their neck were on the line -- in a criminal or civil matter. If they deserve the best in their individual struggles, don't all Americans in their collective struggle to remain free?

"Picking a justice isn't about rewarding individuals or satisfying gender, race or diversity concerns. It's about protecting our sacred liberties. Since the best way to do that is to find the brightest constitutional scholars with the requisite character and sound judgment, then that is precisely what the president should do. That's not elitism; it's essential constitutional stewardship."



Peggy Noonan, who wraps up with these observations:

"I've noticed that we live in an age in which judges and legal minds seem to hide their own judicial philosophy from themselves. And that might explain why a Harriet Miers has reached the age of 60 and no one seems to know what she thinks. ... Supreme Court justices are more powerful than ever while who and what they are is more mysterious than ever. We have a two part problem. The first is that no one knows what they think until they're there. The other is that they're there forever."



Bill Kristol, who called for Miers to withdraw on this morning's Today Show.


Professor Bainbridge and his baseball analogy


Instapundit isn't impressed:

"Bush raised the bar with Roberts, and then, having set the stage brilliantly for a McConnell, gave us a non-McConnell. Miers might turn out to be a great Justice, of course, but at the moment there's absolutely no reason to expect that. Hope, maybe, but not expect. This isn't the blogosphere's fault, but the Administration's."



Confirm Them, where you shouldn't miss this post, with this key graph:

"All we know is that we must trust the President who tells us that on a checklist of issues, Miers will check the right box. What about the issues that aren�t on the checklist? What about the issues that do not exist now, but will in ten years? By what standard are we now to form an opinion by which we can predicate our current support of her? To which judicial philosphy is Harriet Miers anchored so that she will avoid drifiting like Anthony Kennedy? For now, the President seems to tell us we�ll know it when we see it, but trust him."



Ann Coulter (who even opposed John Roberts' nomination, so this was a guaranteed punching bag for her)

Pro

Beldar: just start at the top and keep scrolling, but don't miss this response to Krauthammer:

"This is not an argument in favor of mediocrity. This is an argument in favor of adding some different kinds of smarts to the Court. Until fairly recently, it was the rule rather than the exception to draw some new Justices from the ranks of practicing lawyers who've been successful and who've demonstrated character, devotion to profession and community, and sound judgment as measured in a wide variety of contexts. I respectfully submit that if you think your menu has only three choices � circuit judges in column A, law professors in column B, and law professors turned circuit judges in column C � then you are indeed being either elitist, unimaginative, or both." (emphasis in original)



Hugh Hewitt, the chief cheerleader for the Miers nomination. Just keep scrolling; he's been prolific this week. I don't buy his worries over an impending electoral implosion for the Republicans if Miers' critics keep complaining:

"There are many persuasive reasons beyond "Party" to support Harriet Miers, but "Party" ought to have at least tempered some of the most strident critics of the nominee. Nothing lasting will be accomplished with SCOTUS unless the GOP remains in power beyond 2008 and 2012. If the current seven veterans linger, and the GOP is crippled because of intra-party quarrels, how will President Hillary's and Vice President Obama's justices rule? There is a great deal to be said for "Party," including the willingness to accept that the good must not be the enemy of the perfect, and that at least 25% of the time you are going to be disappointed with the Party's decision."

...

"The debate ought rather to be an occasion for asking "What does the president know that I do not know?" and even, "Has the president earned my trust in this area?" ... The series of posts she has held -- Texas Bar president, Dallas City Council, and especially managing partner of a large law firm -- all speak to her abilities which disappointment seems to forbid critics from recognizing. There are many hundreds of thousands of GOP faithful who have held similar posts. How wonderful to telegraph to them that their efforts are fine, for a certain class of people."



President Aristotle offers nine reasons to support the nomination.


Marvin Olasky offers a variation of "c'mon, she's an evangelical Christian, she's conservative" ... to which I say "Jimmy Carter's an evangelical Christian."

I'm still willing (barely) to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on this nomination, but my support keeps eroding. After my inital reaction ("Harriet who? What happened to Luttig and McConnell and Alito and ... ?"), I moved toward a position reflected in Fred Barnes' ambivalent column on Monday:

If all goes well, Harriet Miers will turn out to be a less impressive version of John Roberts: that is, a judicial conservative, or constitutionalist, who will cause the ideological balance on the Supreme Court to shift to the right. ... All she needs to do is come off as a credible mainstream conservative, avoid the questions that Democrats will try to trick her on, and persuade senators she's not merely a Bush crony. That accomplished, she should be confirmed.

She'd better be able to do this. If she can't -- if she's not really a conservative -- the political effect will be to shatter President Bush's still-strong relationship with his base. The love affair will be over. The president will have dashed the hopes cherished by conservatives for a conservative Supreme Court. And he will be far weaker as a national political leader as a result.

...

Conservatives shouldn't throw up their hands in despair, at least yet. They should wait until they hear from Miers as a witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's then that we'll begin to find out if Bush was correct in his view that she's the person to fulfill the dreams of so many conservatives and finally shove the Supreme Court to the right.

President Bush had better offer more than "I know her, she's smart, she's conservative ... trust me." And he'd better offer it soon, because movement conservatives like me are getting ready to jump ship over Miers.

I'm still deciding whether to support Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. However, I just spotted a column by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post that aims blistering criticism at the nominee and at the president, and demands a withdrawal of the nomination.

Watch Krauthammer fire both barrels:

For half a century, liberals have corrupted the courts by turning them into an instrument of radical social change on questions -- school prayer, abortion, busing, the death penalty -- that properly belong to the elected branches of government. Conservatives have opposed this arrogation of the legislative role and called for restoration of the purely interpretive role of the court. To nominate someone whose adult life reveals no record of even participation in debates about constitutional interpretation is an insult to the institution and to that vision of the institution.

There are 1,084,504 lawyers in the United States. What distinguishes Harriet Miers from any of them, other than her connection with the president? To have selected her, when conservative jurisprudence has J. Harvie Wilkinson, Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell and at least a dozen others on a bench deeper than that of the New York Yankees, is scandalous.

It will be argued that this criticism is elitist. But this is not about the Ivy League. The issue is not the venue of Miers's constitutional scholarship, experience and engagement. The issue is their nonexistence.

...

But what does she bring to the bench?

This, say her advocates: We are now at war, and therefore the great issue of our time is the powers of the president, under Article II, to wage war. For four years Miers has been immersed in war-and-peace decisions and therefore will have a deep familiarity with the tough constitutional issues regarding detention, prisoner treatment and war powers.

Perhaps. We have no idea what her role in these decisions was. But to the extent that there was any role, it becomes a liability. For years -- crucial years in the war on terrorism -- she will have to recuse herself from judging the constitutionality of these decisions because she will have been a party to having made them in the first place. The Supreme Court will be left with an absent chair on precisely the laws-of-war issues to which she is supposed to bring so much.

By choosing a nominee suggested by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and well known only to himself, the president has ducked a fight on the most important domestic question dividing liberals from conservatives: the principles by which one should read and interpret the Constitution. For a presidency marked by a courageous willingness to think and do big things, this nomination is a sorry retreat into smallness.

Wow. I'll bet that this column makes Laura Ingraham's show today. And Rush's.

Tribes

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I've been meaning to link to Bill Whittle's latest essay (spurred by cries of Hurricane Katrina-related "racism"), so here goes. Read Tribes for a refreshingly blunt look at the divisions among Americans. Here's a taste:

The Pink Tribe is all about feeling good: feeling good about yourself! Sexually, emotionally, artistically � nothing is off limits, nothing is forbidden, convention is fossilized insanity and everybody gets to do their own thing without regard to consequences, reality, or natural law. We all have our own reality � one small personal reality is called �science,� say � and we Make Our Own Luck and we Visualize Good Things and There Are No Coincidences and Everything Happens for a Reason and You Can Be Whatever You Want to Be and we all have Special Psychic Powers and if something Bad should happen it�s because Someone Bad Made It Happen. A Spell, perhaps.

The Pink Tribe motto, in fact, is the ultimate Zen Koan, the sound of one hand clapping: EVERYBODY IS SPECIAL.

Then, in the other corner, there is the Grey Tribe � the grey of reinforced concrete. This is a Tribe where emotion is repressed because Emotion Clouds Judgment. This is the world of Quadratic Equations and Stress Risers and Loads Torsional, Compressive and Tensile, a place where Reality Can Ruin Your Best Day, the place where Murphy mercilessly picks off the Weak and the Incompetent, where the Speed Limit is 186,282.36 miles per second, where every bridge has a Failure Load and levees come in 50 year, 100 year and 1000 Year Flood Flavors.

The Grey Tribe motto is, near as I can tell, THINGS BREAK SOMETIMES AND PLEASE DON�T LET IT BE MY BRIDGE.

Don't miss the old soldier's metaphor of sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs ... and the link to video of New Orleans police officers engaged in looting.

There's hope for leftists

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I'm heartened to see that at least one young reflexive Bush-hater can see his error after speaking to Iraqis. An excerpt:

You may think that you have felt dumb before, but let me tell you something: until you have stood in front of a man who knows real pain and told him that you are against your country's alleviation of his country's state-sponsored murderous suffering, you have not felt truly, deeply, like a total f****** moron.

I still am no Bush fan, and I know that America got lied to. I know we shouldn't have gone, and I think Rove is as evil as they come. But through all this deception and lying, through all this dismemberment and pain, America has wrought a beautiful, fantastic side effect: joy, freedom and a hope for peace. Does it take lies and misdirection to do this?? Is this what the other side of justice is? I feel like such a whiner and I don't know what to think anymore. Ultimately, in total defiance of my mother and grandmother�s teachings, two wrongs have made a right and my moral compass is tired and busted.

I can't tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, and I want a clear cut mandate, some lines to believe along. But there aren't any. There's just right and wrong and following your heart of hearts. And for the first time in my life, I can say that I was wrong to be compulsively critical of the current administration without seeking my own truth.

A neocon in the making, perhaps?

Hat tip: She Who Will Be Obeyed

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UPDATE: SMASH reponds, and gets a response.

Turnabout offends prickly homosexuals

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College Republicans at the University of Central Oklahoma plan on celebrating a Straight Pride Week:

"The general gist is that if you are a straight student on campus be proud, be loud, this is your time to shine," said college Republican Kyle Houts.

The group has posted fliers on campus that read, "we're here, we're conservative, we're out."

Members of the Gay Alliance for Tolerance and Equality say they consider the College Republican's celebration an attack on gay and lesbian students.

"What is there to say about it, 'I'm proud, and I'm straight and I guess white,' I don't know?" said GATE member Jennifer Rodriguez. "I think they definitely are being discriminatory because there's probably a lot of gay Republicans out there."

How very intolerant and non-diverse of you, Ms. Rodriguez.

Hat tip: Backcountry Conservative

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UPDATE: BuckeyePundit mirrors my own sentiments nicely, and The Open End calls for College Republicans at Ohio State to follow the Oklahoma group's example.

A solid, well-written Ohio blog

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If you haven't done so already, drop by the Columbus-based blog The Open End, where you'll find a team of good writers working in undeserved obscurity. They're not in lockstep with each other, so you'll sometimes find a sharp yet courteous debate going on. However, liberal nuttiness gets a cheerful skewering every day, especially if it involves political correctness at The Ohio State University (a little inside Buckeye joke, there).

Pigs take wing

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Michelle Malkin notes a tax revolt in progress ... in Berkeley, California! The columnist writing about the backlash, Louis Freedberg, bends over backward to explain the opposition to confiscatory tax rates while remaining true to his big-government roots:

It would be easy to explain what's happening as a sign that Berkeley, the home of the Free Speech Movement and the the first city to pass a divestment ordinance against apartheid South Africa, is losing its progressive edge.

But that would be a faulty analysis. After all, similar measures went down to defeat in other bastions of progressivism, such as San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Statewide, voters rejected 120 out of 186 tax measures placed on the November ballot by cities and counties.

Wrong, Louis. It means that even liberals get angry when it's their own money being vaccuumed away by overreaching government. Even in San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

As someone who has lived for much of his adult life in Berkeley -- and willingly paid extra property taxes so Berkeley could remain one of the world's most livable and innovative communities -- even I couldn't bring myself to vote for all the latest tax measures this time around.

If you financially bleed a blue-stater long enough his blood will turn red ... even if it's Louis Freedberg.

I was incensed to see President Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger make cutting taxes the centerpiece of their respective campaigns -- and winning. I realized that voters in Berkeley (and San Francisco, and other similar communities who are not against taxes on ideological grounds) have in effect been enabling Bush and Schwarzenegger to continue on their anti-tax crusades. By continually voting to impose higher taxes on ourselves to keep essential services going, we have made it easier for them to carry on as if the taxes they're cutting weren't needed in the first place.

Whatever the causes, the results of the tax cut backlash aren't pretty. Berkeley will have to figure out how to cut $7.5 million from next year's budget. San Francisco and other Bay Area communities are even worse off. Yet our brave tax-cutting leaders in Sacramento and Washington continue give back taxes while they raid local treasuries. Just this year, Bates said, the state appropriated $1.6 million in local property taxes that should have gone to the city. ''It's the big fish eating the little fish,'' he said.

Now the little fish are fighting back.

I feel like Brer Rabbit begging begging Brer Fox not to toss me into the briar patch. Please, Berkeley voters, do whatever you like ... but don't "hurt" us by voting down more tax measures!

The outgoing Republican president of Colorado's Senate digs through the entrails of the Democrat election victory there and identifies some themes that look eerily familiar to Ohio conservatives.

It was motivation, above all, that powered this Democrat victory. Democrats were driven and hungry from decades in the political wilderness. Republicans were complacent and soft from too long in power. Their motive for winning was to get in there and do things. Ours, it often seemed, was merely to stay in there. These attitudes translated into discipline and unity for Democrats, indulgence and disunity for Republicans. GOP factionalism was endemic and fatal.

The message gap was a consequence of this motivation gap. Democrats talked about making Colorado a better state, about not letting Republicans cut cherished programs, and about the GOP's supposed obsession with "gays, guns, and God." Republicans talked about ... what? Other than denying their charges and hurling some back, we pretty much punted. Republican candidates picked their own issues locally. Churchill would have called it a pudding with no theme.

Our campaign had what one analyst termed a sort of Nixon-Ford tiredness and blandness. I had considered, back in 2003, framing a conservative Contract with Colorado to provide a single, statewide framework for all 75 state Senate and House races. But after sizing up the competing intra-party fiefdoms and tensions, I decided not to start that fight. Mea culpa; I should have fought.

"A Nixon-Ford tiredness and blandness" pretty accurately describes our own Governor Bob Taft, scion of a powerful old Ohio family and a politician whose strongest claim to conservatism seems to be the (R) appended to his name. He opposed the recently-enacted concealed carry legislation, opposed the gay marriage ban, and didn't earn himself the nickname "Governor Tax" by accident.

Three Republicans have announced their intent to replace Taft when term limits force him to step down in 2006: State Auditor Betty Montgomery, State Attorney General Jim Petro, and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (toward whom I'm leaning at the moment, since he's been burnishing his conservative credentials).

Ohio Republicans need to find a bona fide fiscal and social conservative to take Bob Taft's place. Once we have that candidate identified, we need to round up support early, before our tired and unimaginative party leaders anoint someone more "safe." Pushing a bland pudding with no theme on Ohio voters isn't going to get Republicans elected to state offices. Just look at what happened in Colorado.

Then we need to identify districts with retiring or vulnerable Representatives and Senators in both parties, and cajole some conservative businessmen, military vets, and civic leaders to step forward and run for office. A truly conservative Legislature will cut our high tax burden and rein in spending, while returning our government to the pro-family and tough-on-crime stance that Ohio voters obviously want.

Party discipline matters, but party survival's more important. The Ohio GOP has gotten fat and lazy. It's time to clear out the deadwood before the Democrats do it for us. My Senator lives two streets away, so I'll start the grilling here. Who's with me?

Welcome to the clash of ideas

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Arthur Chrenkoff compares his own political awakening to that of Iraq The Model and finds surprising similarities. Go read both posts and learn what it's like to step out from behind an iron curtain. It'll warm your heart.

Clarence Thomas, illiterate

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So says Senator Harry Reid, I suppose. The new Minority Leader had some choice words for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on NBC News' Meet The Press this past Sunday:

MR. RUSSERT: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?

SEN. REID: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.

The man who delivers speeches like this and writes opinions like this is "an embarrassment"? Senator Reid doesn't say that about Justice Antonin Scalia, another conservative on the Court whose opinions track closely with those of Justice Thomas. In fact, Reid could see himself supporting Scalia's nomination as Chief Justice if it comes right down to it. What could explain the difference in Senator Reid's attitude?

Justice Thomas
Justice Thomas
Justice Scalia
Justice Scalia

Gimme a minute, I'm sure it'll come to me eventually.

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UPDATE: Told you so.

Fishing for liberals

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In an article just published by The Sentinel (a conservative publication at Ohio State University), conservative student columnist Stephen Dronen relates his encounter with volunteers conducting a Democrat voter registration drive ... and his resulting experiment in liberal-baiting.

I took to the streets to see if my appearance had any bearing on their action. First dressing as I normally do; dressed in a pair of khaki chinos, a light blue Oxford, and a pair of brown Doc Martin�s, I entered the hostile territory. Not to my surprise, I walked right past the activists amidst a haze of "Stop the Bush Imperialists", "No Blood for Oil", and "Not My President"! It was as if they didn�t even see me.

...

The first phase of my testing was complete; they had failed to approach me during three opportunities. Enter phase two: undercover. Garbed in a borrowed Pearl Jam t-shirt, a set of torn jeans, a pair of Birkenstocks, some thick rimmed "emo" glasses, and the quintessential hemp jewelry, I returned to the scene of the crime. It is amazing how different the experience was, as I was double teamed from the second I entered the intersection where two hours earlier the same people failed to realize I was even in their presence.

It's an entertaining read, so help yourself.

Hat tip: The Open End

Buckeye Bloggers

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Buckeye BloggersHey, fellow conservative bloggers from Ohio! How about forming a blog alliance from the state that pushed President Bush across the finish line this year? Heaven knows we can't just sit here and let The Northern Alliance keep hogging all the glory.

We could start by putting together a web site that aggregates our most recent posts, kind of like what RNCBloggers did. These blogs strike me as promising charter members:

Buckeye Bloggers
Brain Shavings
The Open End
The Conservative Revolution
Wizblog
Ohio for Bush

Buckeye Ex-pats
Hugh Hewitt
Belly of the Beast

Whaddaya think?

The Ant and The Grasshopper

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Just got this in the ol' e-mail inbox. It's a well-circulated retelling of an old fable, but it's still funny.

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Classic version:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building His house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Moral: Be responsible for yourself!

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Modern version:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he and other unfortunate grasshoppers are cold and starving. CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN (FOX was noticeable by their absence) show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing a duet version of "It's Not Easy Being Green." Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the above media film the group singing "We shall overcome." Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper's sake.

Senator Tom Daschle and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi exclaim in an interview with ABC's Peter Jennings (a Canadian) that ants have gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and both call for an immediate tax hike on ants to make them pay their "fair share."

Finally, the EEOC drafts the "Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act," which Congress passes with a veto-proof majority and makes it retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Senator Hillary Clinton gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that ex-President Bill Clinton appointed from a list of socialist-leaning, wealth-redistributing attorneys. The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it.

The ant disappears in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug-related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

Moral: Vote Republican

Republican Convention coverage

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Here are the credentialed bloggers covering the convention:

I've also added a new blogroll with these links (look on the right side of the home page).

Tactics for opposing gay "marriage"

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If you're not a Christian, you might find this post mildly interesting, but it probably won't tickle your gray cells much. Most of you Christians out there trying to argue against gay "marriage" need to understand my point and adjust your approach.

Dr. Dobson over at Focus On The Family has posted excerpts from his book "Marriage Under Fire", offering his eleven arguments in opposition to gay "marriage":

  1. The legalization of homosexual marriage will quickly destroy the traditional family.
  2. Children will suffer most.
  3. Public schools in every state will embrace homosexuality.
  4. Adoption laws will be instantly obsolete.
  5. Foster-care programs will be impacted dramatically.
  6. The health care system will stagger and perhaps collapse.
  7. Social Security will be severely stressed.
  8. Religious freedom will almost certainly be jeopardized.
  9. Other nations are watching our march toward homosexual marriage and will follow our lead.
  10. The gospel of Jesus Christ will be severely curtailed.
  11. The culture war will be over, and the world may soon become "as it was in the days of Noah" (Matthew 24:37).

Venn diagramI think Greg Koukl over at Stand To Reason does a much better job of persuading undecided people who don't tackle this issue from an evangelical Christian worldview. In Dobson's defense, his audience is almost exclusively evangelical Christians like me, and his excerpted essay aims to get us off our lazy butts and do something about the problem.

Think of it this way. There are plenty of arguments you could use to oppose gay "marriage", signified by the inside of the light brown circle. Some of them have foundations in a Christian worldview (the darker circle). The wise advocate for traditional marriage will select the right intellectual ammunition for each target. You might be convinced that our Christian arguments give you more than enough to get the job done, but non-Christians respond to that approach like a tank responds to a pistol bullet.

Yes, I know we're right. But tactically speaking, your sincere beliefs don't mean anything to someone who doesn't recognize the authority of the Bible. How receptive are you when you hear a muslim arguing that Islam must be the one true faith, because the miraculous beauty and structure of the Quran shows that it couldn't possibly be otherwise? Their source of authority is illegitimate in your worldview. And just like them, you're trying to knock out a tank with a handgun.

If you don't want to be a gooey blob in somebody's tank treads, pick up an intellectual anti-tank missile. Use arguments that stand some chance of getting past the non-Christian's armor. I've highlighted five of Dobson's eleven points that have some promise. Not all of them are potential winning shots, but at least they can do some good.

Try using what you find here:

Tactics

Arguments

Commentary on news

I'll keep adding bullets as I find more good material.

Michael Moore Hates America

A high schooler with guts

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Bryan Henderson of Princeton High School in Princeton, West Virginia got fed up with leftist teachers browbeating him, so he exercised his freedom of expression. Good thing he's a tough kid, because the leftists were not amused with his politically incorrect views. Hat tip to the ever-clever (and doggone attractive) Whomping Willow on this story.

I wonder if Bryan's inquisitors used the cut-n-paste leftist Screed-O-Matic demonstrated over at Protein Wisdom?

Blah blah right-wing Rumsfeld warmonger chickenhawk evil Bushies Wolfowitz and his neocon cabal for oiloiloiloiloiloil blah blah ignorant stupid bloodthirsty morons, the real axis of evil on a ranch in Crawford and blah blah blah no WMD he lied, Bushitler lied, people died died died tie-dyed peace peace peace down with the Zionists! peace peace Kyoto! they hate us they hate us they hate us and what can we do and root causes and root causes and blowback and Plame and Plame and Chalabi Plame Wilson blah blah blah unilateral multinational Halliburton Enronism crony capitalism and it's all about oiloiloiloil blah blah blah

Hmmm ... looks vaguely familiar ...

Dammit, somebody squealed!

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How am I supposed to explain this to my Zionist masters? Heads will be festooned with panties, I swear it!

Hat tip: Castle Argghhh!

A little rebellion now and then ...

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The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, ... the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.
-- Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's fears have come to pass. The Supreme Court has too much power. I know this isn't news to anybody, but it's a growing problem and we aren't doing enough about it.

I like some Supreme Court rulings. I dislike others. Lately, their generally conservative trend has warmed the cockles of my reptilian Republican heart (wink, wink), but I'm not so shortsighted that I think it'll last forever. I hate Roe v. Wade in large part because it's an overreach of judicial authority, and some of you libs out there hate different cases for similar reasons. There's a bedrock principle involved here that's worth upholding by both the left and the right: citizens ought to have the final say over policy decisions that affect them. But our power over our lives is steadily being eclipsed by our courts.

"Fine," you say, "but what do we do about it?" The solution is simple in concept, but hard to execute: pit Congress and the President against the Supreme Court.

GhidrahThe only things that'll keep the Supremes from running amuck in either direction are the other two branches of the federal government. The Founding Fathers left us a three-headed federal monster that was supposed to be too busy fighting itself to mess with the citizenry much. But although Congress and the President have the authority to act in ways that can restrain the Supreme Court, since the days of the Warren Court they've been derelict in their duties. The three-headed monster is now focused on us. One head makes stuffy legal pronouncements about anything and everything, and the other two heads say "yes, sir" and promptly chew on what remains of our lives, liberties, and property.

Have you ever noticed that Supreme Court rulings are treated with excessive awe and reverence by our society? Even your local U.S. Court of Appeals gets a bucketful of deference (unless you live in the Ninth Circuit, thankfully). Yes, small groups of us complain about this ruling or that, but nobody really challenges the judiciary in a serious way. Judges appropriate greater and greater authority for themselves every year, and the average person on the street assumes that if the Supremes say "such-and-such is constitutional", then that settles the debate. Why? Most Americans went to public schools where the quality of civics education stinks. Joe Citizen is a good guy, but he doesn't have a lot of free time to pay close attention to the courts, and assumes that most judges are impartial interpreters of the law. After all, back in school their government-funded "Social Studies" classes said so!

The typical American accepts without thought the media's reports on Supreme Court rulings as settled law on a par with the Ten Commandments. Congress and the President realize this, and they understand that they can get away with advancing their policies via lawsuits and court orders. That way, the blame for any unpleasant results can shrugged off and dumped onto unelected judges with life tenure. "Don't look at me," says the politician seeking re-election, "I didn't make the decision. The courts did."

Abortion protestPolitical factions aren't stupid; if we're to be ruled by the judiciary, then that's where the attention will be focused every November. That's why the judicial nomination process has gotten so politicized lately, with competing factions vying to nominate ideologically like-minded judges who will hopefully toe the party line on this issue or that. Instead of interpreting the law, our favorite black-robed dipsticks make the law ... from the bench.

But why should it be that way? I don't care whether the judicial power grab comes from the left or the right; it's still a steaming pile of horse crap.

The Congress and the President have an obligation equal to the Supreme Court's to interpret the Constitution in the course of their duties, and it's high time they got serious about it. Until we voters light a fire under their pinstriped butts they will continue to take the path of least resistance. They'll keep neglecting the critical work of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution. Power abhors a vacuum, and the unelected Supreme Court will continue to fill it until the other two branches stop farting around. Do you feel like entrusting social change to nine black-robed Philosopher Monarchs? I sure don't.

It wasn't always this way. Andrew Jackson once defied a Supreme Court ruling declaring his Indian Removal policies unconstitutional, saying "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it." FDR's New Deal gives me hives when I ponder it, but I've got to give the guy his due for the politically brilliant court-packing stunt he used to rein in the Court's opposition to his exercise of Presidential authority. And in the 1869 case Ex Parte McCardle, the Court backed off when Congress flexed its Article III Section 2 muscle to remove the Court's appellate jurisdiction over a certain category of cases.

The political issues motivating these uses of constitutional power varied, and the moral justifications are open to debate, but the underlying political principles were the same. That system's still there, if we can muster the will to use it. The U.S. Supreme Court can be reined in, and it's long past time to start. I'll be thinking about strategies this summer, and hopefully some will be worth blogging about.

My take on voter registration

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I was just sitting here updating my voter registration and vaguely thinking about all the other people who will be doing the same soon. "Everyone ought to do their civic duty and register to vote", I thought.

Then, an epiphany.

Hail, Caesar!

Don't register ... you're harming yourself by diluting my power.

Gay Marriage Ban Passes 1st Step in Mass. (AP)

The Massachusetts Legislature today actually passed an amendment banning gay marriage. I'm pleasantly surprised. Governor Romney's sure to sign it, but his request to the Mass Supreme Court to hold off on its order to allow gay marriage will fall on deaf ears. If those judges aren't afraid of ordering the Legislature around, what do you suppose the odds are that they respect a governor?

Now we'll see if they can repeat their feat next year and make the amendment official.

President Bush called yesterday for "universal, affordable access" to high-speed Internet connections by 2007. When a politician calls for universal anything, you ought to hang onto your wallet.

Let the market figure it out, George. Stick with what works: tax cuts and deregulation.

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