Archives for December 2011

The heat is building on Eric Holder

The heat is certainly on Attorney General Eric Holder over the botched “Fast and Furious” operation, in which the ATF allowed guns to walk across the border into the hands of Mexico’s most fierce drug dealers.

Back in October, 10 Arizona Sheriffs called for Holder to resign over the operation, which was based in their state, arguing that the ATF’s actions have put those they are tasked with protecting at unnecessary risk:

That movement has grown since then. Today, more than 50 members of Congress have called for Holder’s resignation based on inconsistencies in his testimony on the issue. Some members have even floated the possibility of impeachment for officials over the operation, which many believe was hatched to build support for gun control.

Why is the Tea Party backing Gingrich?

The most interesting dynamic in the race for the GOP’s nomination for president is Tea Party-minded voters. They switched around from one candidate to the other just as quick as Mitt Romney changes on positions on issues. Frankly, it’s irritating given that a couple of the candidates they’ve gotten behind have supported big government programs and have intervention in the market.

Polls show that the Tea Party voting bloc is largely getting behind Newt Gingrich, who has emerged as their latest “hero.” My understanding of the Tea Party movement was that we were trying to fight against cronyism, corporatism, and big government; so that begs the question: Why is the Tea Party lining up for someone that epitomizes statism? Conor Friedersdorf explains that Gingrich encouraged Republicans, including George W. Bush, to betray taxpayers:

On December 7, 2003, Newt Gingrich appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” opposite Tim Russert, who asked about the beginnings of conservative discontent over President Bush’s profligate spending impulse:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the domestic front. Here’s the headline of yesterday’s paper: “Conservatives Criticize Bush On Spending.” You ran in 1994 with a Contract with America, pledging a balanced budget. Deficit’s now $500 billion.

MR. GINGRICH: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: You supported the president’s Medicare bill, another $400 billion entitlement. What happened to balanced budgets and Republicans?

Reason TV: Why Obama’s Stimulus Failed

In this new video from Reason, Veronique de Rugy, an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University who has extensively studied the 2009 stimulus, explains why the the deficit spending failed to revive the economy. Reason and De Rugy use the city of Silver Springs, Maryland, who receive subsidies for transportation projects, as a case study, as well as analyzing other aspects of the stimulus spending:

NLRB drops complaint against Boeing

After months of harassment, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has dropped the complaint against Boeing after the aircraft manufacturer reached a deal with the its labor union to raise wages:

The National Labor Relations Board announced on Friday that it was dropping its politically charged case against Boeing, in which it had accused the company of violating federal labor law by opening a new aircraft production plant in South Carolina instead of Washington State.

The labor board’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said he had decided to end the case after the union that represents 31,000 Boeing workers in Washington urged the board to withdraw it. That union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, had originally asked the board to file the case, but changed its mind after striking a deal with Boeing last week to raise wages and expand jet production in Washington.
[…]
After months of sharp rhetoric, Boeing and the machinists announced a surprise agreement on a new contract last week. Last week, Local 751 of the machinists’ union announced that 74 percent of its Boeing workers in Washington State had voted to ratify a four-year contract extension that included substantial raises, unusual job security provisions and Boeing’s commitment to expand aircraft production in the Puget Sound area.

The union then asked the labor board to withdraw the case.

Mr. Solomon said he was delighted that Boeing and the union had settled their dispute. “The case was always about the loss of future jobs in the Seattle area,” he said. “This agreement has resolved that issue. There is job security in the Washington area.”

14 Fixes For Our Messed Up Country

Everyone seems to be proposing fixes for our country lately, whether it’s amendments to repeal the First Amendment or ban gays or whatever. I have a few ideas of my own that I think will go a long ways towards restoring some sanity in government and fixing what’s wrong with our society. Some of these will require constitutional amendments, and I don’t expect the entire list to actually get enacted unless magic somehow returns to the world and we resurrect Barry Goldwater, F.A. Hayek, and George Washington all at once.

I originally drafted a list of some 23 ideas, but I figured that it would be way too long for a blog post, so I shortened it to 14, a baker’s dozen. None of these are simple or light fixes, they are not tweaking around the edges to ensure a marginally better outcome. Judging from the situation our government and economy is in, from the horrific hard place our civil liberties are wedged behind, and the unmanageable mess that is Washington, I don’t think that “moderate” or “conservative” changes will do anything. We cannot pussyfoot around the issue; we need radical alterations to how our government works if we’re going to get us out of this morass. Again, most of these may never pass, but that’s to be expected.

Certainly, if you wish to hear my entire list, let me know and I’ll write it up, but for now, here are my 14 ideas for fixing our country:

1. Establish Approval Voting

I’ve already talked about this idea at length here, so I will not bore you again. In this post, all I will say is that I believe if we are to get anything done—and I do mean anything—we need to systematically reform how people actually get into office. That’s the foundation upon which any democracy stands, and when you’re up to your eyeballs in tar, the only way to get that fixed is to drain the swamp and start at the beginning.

GOP Presidential Power Rankings

There wasn’t a shake up in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for president in the last week. It certainly looks like Newt Gingrich is tightening his grip as the frontrunner and Mitt Romney is becoming desperate to knock him down. Meanwhile, Ron Paul is emerging as a legitimate candidate.

You can see the latest polling out of Iowa here. And in case you missed it, Saturday evening’s debate at Drake University in Des Moines, you can watch it below.

Please note that we’ve removed Herman Cain (suspended campaign) and Gary Johnson (likely running for the Libertarian Party’s nomination) from the power rankings.

The News

Jon Stewart on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

On Wednesday, Jon Stewart covered the Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains language that would allow the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without formal charges or trial.

Listen carefully and call your members of Congress:

Democrats Propose Silencing New York Times

Man, journalists can’t catch a break these days. First there’s the National Defense Authorization Act, which could easily turn into a blanket order to throw them in jail if they alarm the public too much. Then there’s the DOJ’s idea of lying to people in FOIA requests (which are usually made by journalists.) And now, Congressional Democrats, led by Representatives Theodore Deutch (FL-19), Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Alcee Hastings (FL-23), and Jim McDermott (WA-7), are introducing HJR 90. This is a constitutional amendment which would basically ban all newspapers—including the lefty New York Times—and radio and broadcast news from talking about politics. The text reads:

Could Romney be Gingrich’s VP pick?

During a recent sit down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Newt Gingrich, who is leading the polls in the race for the GOP nomination, said that Mitt Romney is on his list of potential running mates (video at the link):

Newt Gingrich has at least one name on his list of potential running mates: GOP rival Mitt Romney. “I think Mitt Romney is a very admirable person, and I’m not going to pick a fight with Mitt Romney,” Gingrich said in an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

When asked if he would ever ask Romney to be his vice presidential nominee, Gingrich didn’t mince words.

“I think the consensus is that he’d certainly be on the list, whether he’d want to or not,” Gingrich said. “He’s a very competent person. This is a very serious man. I would certainly support him if he became the Republican nominee.”

Um, no thanks. Both Gingrich, who is the source of skepticism amongst conservatives, and Romney have supported an individual mandate for health insurances, bailouts, and other big government programs. Gingrich lobbied for GSEs like Freddie Mac, which helped inflate the housing bubble. Romney changes his beliefs almost daily. Neither of them are serious about reducing the size of the federal government.

A Gingrich/Romney ticket would essentially be asking voters to sign off on everything wrong with the GOP. That would be an electoral disaster.

Ron Paul has a good shot to win in Iowa

With his poll numbers in rising, some pundits, observers, and veteran Republicans are noting that Ron Paul may have a real shot of winning in Iowa. The National Review’s Robert Costa explains:

Rep. Ron Paul rarely makes news, and his candidacy is frequently ignored by Beltway reporters. But headlines, his aides say, are overrated. In fact, the Texas Republican’s low-key autumn was strategic. As Paul’s competitors stumbled and sparred, he amassed a small fortune for his campaign and built a strong ground operation. And with January fast approaching, his team is ready to surprise the political world and sweep the Iowa caucuses.

“This was a movement when he first started running in 2008,” says Trygve Olson, a senior Paul adviser. “Now it’s turned into a highly professionalized campaign, but the energy from that last run is still there, and at the heart of what’s keeping up his momentum.”

The latest polls back up that confidence. In the influential Des Moines Register poll published over the weekend, Paul placed second. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, captured 25 percent of likely Iowa GOP voters, but Paul garnered 18 percent, two points ahead of Mitt Romney, who in 2008 placed second in the caucuses.

If Paul wins Iowa, the upset could upend what many politicos say is a two-man race between Gingrich and Romney. According to state GOP insiders, a Paul victory is a real possibility. In background conversations, many say Paul is much stronger than outside observers believe, with deep and wide support among a frustrated electorate. With Herman Cain’s departure from the race, operatives see Paul potentially collecting a quarter of caucus attendees.


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