Archives for December 2011
The only certainty in this year’s GOP nomination battle has been uncertainty (that, and “Whoa nelly, has this been a ride or what?”) Republican primary voters have hopped from Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrich and now seem to be settling into a confused Gingrich/Romney/Paul split. Part of this is because the entire race, so far, has been a farce (though Paul’s recent ascendency leaves one to hope it’s not entirely a farce), but I think another part is the increasing heated and intense Republican litmus test being applied by those within the “conservative movement.”
I’ve noted here previously that “We’re All RINOs Now,” citing Dan Drezner and David Frum. As I wrote there, using Drezner’s language, the Republican Party has turned into a “cargo cult,” moving farther to the right on several points, especially on LGBT issues, and I think it’s beginning to place itself outside of the “Overton Window,” the selection of policies considered politically acceptable by the public. Gay bashing, abortion banning, and putting a greater emphasis on religious morals in government may appeal to a segment of the conservative movement, but compared to the general populace, that is gradually disappearing.
This narrative is quite popular among the left, who want to paint the Republican Party as more and more radical and opposed to the general beliefs of the American population, but as I pointed out, a lot of people you would consider conservative feel the same way. One explanation is to place the blame at the feet of talk show pundits like Hannity, Limbaugh, and O’Reilly. I think, however, there is a much better explanation to be had.
Yesterday, Stephen Slivinski wrote a excellent piece on how Newt Gingrich betrayed conservatives in the 90’s on issues ranging to budget battles and intra-caucus politics. The long and the short of it is that the Republican Revolution succeded not because of Gingrich, but in spite of him.
There has been a conservative alternative presented by the current crop of House Republicans. Though it may not be perfect, it represents a clear, distinct alternative to the agenda of President Barack Obama, who is trying to expand entitlements and domestic spending as much as possible.
As you no doubt remember, Gingrich knocked Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan back in May during an appearance on Meet the Press; calling it “right-wing social engineering.” This set off a fire storm against the former Speaker that led many to believe his candidacy was dead in the water.
And during a interview last week with Coffee & Markets, Gingrich may have again stepped in some controversy regarding Ryan and his budget. Here is the relevant part of the interview (emphasis mine):
C&M: You know, in terms of your critique of sort of the dangers of forcing people into this, of making it mandatory, I certainly agree with you. But isn’t the problem with that sort of an approach that you don’t have predictability when it comes to the costs of the program in the future? And if you could explain to us, I’d love to hear it, why you’re confident that a public option versus a private option in Medicare will bring these costs down.
The Independent Political Report is saying that Gary Johnson will announce his decision to jump to the Libertarian Party today, but then backtracks with an update that says no, he didn’t actually say it, he’s just hinting at it. As I’m writing this, it’s flopping around all over Twitter, but I’m not sure it actually means anything as of yet. Obviously, that may change.
I certainly hope that Johnson runs for the Libertarian Party. The RNC and the GOP have done nothing but ignore him and all but spit in his face. For a party that purports to be about cutting back government, they don’t seem to tolerate candidates who, you know, actually cut back government.
If Johnson runs on the Libertarian line, and even gets just, say, 2% of the vote, he’ll give the Libertarian Party badly needed publicity. (Could you imagine all the headlines from the Post and the New York Times? “Libertarian Party Candidate Breaks 1% Mark—OH NOES!”) And, hopefully, he can restore the smudge on their reputation after their last nominee, former Republican congresscritter Bob Barr (who just recently endorsed Newt Gingrich, of all people.)
[UPDATE - 7:23pm] The United States Senate passed the NDAA this evening by a vote of 86 to 13. It will now head to President Obama’s desk for approval.
As noted yesterday, House and Senate conferees were moving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) forward to the final action in both chambers with compromise legislation that kept in controversial language that would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens and legal residents of the United States.
Unfortunately, the House of Representatives passed the NDAA overwhelmingly last night by a vote of 283 to 136. You can see how your representative and the members of your state’s delegation voted here. It now heads to the Senate for final passage.
For those of you that are just now catching up on this, the House basically voted last night to suspend the right to due process, the right to a trial by a jury of an accuser’s peers, and the right to habeas corpus. And now that the so-called “war on terror” has been expanded to include not only al-Qaeda but also the Taliban and other “associated forces.” Given the war on terrorism has become an open-ended war with civil liberties being offered by Congress on the alter of the “national security,” this provision will be no doubt be abused; if not by this administration than the next.
It was also noted that the White House asked for the language, at least according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). So it should come as no surprise that the White House has backed off veto threats of the NDAA:
This evening, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives against Section 1021 — the indefinite detention language — of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed this evening. You can read my comments on this provision below the video:
I rise in opposition to Section 1021 of the underlying Conference Report (H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act).
This section specifically affirms that the President has the authority to deny due process to any American it charges with “substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban or any ‘associated forces’” – whatever that means.
Would “substantial support” of an “associated force,” mean linking a web-site to a web-site that links to a web-site affiliated with al-Qaeda? We don’t know. The question is, “do we really want to find out?”
We’re told not to worry – that the bill explicitly states that nothing in it shall alter existing law.
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending an outright ban on all cell phone usage, except in the case of emergencies, according to an AP story. This recommendations also includes hands-free devices like Bluetooth headsets and speaker phone technology.
This action stems from a Missouri accident caused by a young driver who reportedly sent or recieved 11 in the 11 minutes prior to the accident.
From the AP report:
The accident is a “big red flag for all drivers,” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said at a meeting to determine the cause of the accident and make safety recommendations.
It’s not possible to know from cell phone records if the driver was typing, reaching for the phone or reading a text at the time of the crash, but it’s clear he was manually, cognitively and visually distracted, she said.
“Driving was not his only priority,” Hersman said. “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”
The board is expected to recommend new restrictions on driver use of electronic devices behind the wheel. While the NTSB doesn’t have the power to impose restrictions, it’s recommendations carry significant weight with federal regulators and congressional and state lawmakers.
Missouri had a law banning drivers under 21 years old from texting while driving at the time of the crash, but wasn’t aggressively enforcing the ban, board member Robert Sumwalt said.
“Without the enforcement, the laws don’t mean a whole lot,” he said.
Please note that last sentence.
Donald Trump has backed out of the December 27th debate, hosted by the conservative magazine, Newsmax, after several Republicans candidates turned down invitations to participate. Why? Well, Trump says it’s because he is still considering an independent bid for president:
Donald Trump has backed out of moderating a Republican debate because, he says, he’s still considering running for president as an independent candidate.
In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said that GOP candidates are “very concerned” that he will announce an independent candidacy after “The Apprentice” ends, and that they won’t agree to a debate with him unless he rules that out. Which he won’t do.
“It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate,” Trump said in his statement. “Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”
There’s been several calls to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder over Fast & Furious. Republican congresscritter Jim Sensenbrenner opened up the possibility when he grilled Holder just a few days ago in front of Congress. John Ransom at Townhall.com thinks impeaching Holder would be a great idea:
Can the rest of us get the power to impeach too just like Congress has? Maybe a kind of citizen’s impeachment?
We could really use it right now.
Because impeachment or trial has to happen and it has to be Holder – or as high up as it goes- who walks the plank- at least for Fast and Furious.
Because here’s our thing: Some of us hicks out here in the countryside, in flyover country clinging to our guns and our religion, are starting to get the idea that mistakes aren’t just being made by the administration, but rather that mistakes are being manufactured- and then ignored by Congress.
At MF Golbal, at ATF, at Justice, at the Federal Reserve Bank, at Solyndra, the answer’s always the same: “Oops. We made a mistake.”
And they don’t just make one mistake; they make a series of mistakes… and then it’s time to cue up a two-week Obama vacation.
Going off of what Ransom says—a “citizen’s impeachment”—I have good news for him.
Stumbling around the Internet, as I wont to do, I came across a website called “ImpeachForPeace.org.” Across the top, it reads “Do-It-Yourself Impeachment.” Oh, this has to be good.
The very same week Gallup released a poll showing that fear and distrust of the federal government is at a near record high, the Congress is poised to move forward on the National Defense Authorization Act, which would allow for the indefinite detention of Americans:
Congress is pressing ahead with a massive $662 billion defense bill that requires military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S., with lawmakers hoping their last-minute revisions will mollify President Barack Obama and eliminate a veto threat.
Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced late Monday that they had reached agreement on the policy-setting legislation that had gotten caught up in an escalating fight on whether to treat suspected terrorists as prisoners of war or criminals in the civilian justice system.
Responding to personal appeals from Obama and his national security team, the lawmakers added language on national security waivers and other changes that they hoped would ensure administration support for the overall bill.
“I assured the president that we were working on additional assurances, that the concerns were not accurate,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., who spoke to Obama last week, told reporters at a news conference. “That we’d do everything we could to make sure they were allayed, and met.”
White House officials said Tuesday they were reviewing the bill. It was unclear whether they would hold firm on the veto threat.
Over the last several months, we’ve noted numerous times that Mitt Romney is incredibly inconsistent. He’s been on just about every side of issues that are important to conservatives. And the guy comes across like the typical politician; someone that will say anything to get your vote.
While I’m not fan of Newt Gingrich and believe he is just as inconsistent, Romney’s bomb-throwing on his rival’s record is laughable. I know, it’s a primary and every candidate is going to play the “I’m more conservative” card whenever they have a chance. But with Romney, there is just so much to counter this. And it’s not in the way of support for statist policies, Romney has litterally run away from conservatism.
During his race against Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney played down the Contract with America, which was key to the Republican takeover of Congress, saying that it “is not a good idea to go into a ‘contract’ like what was organized by the Republican Party in Washington”: