Archives for April 2012
Various media outlets are reporting that Rick Santorum, who received a boost late in the presidental race from social conservatives, is suspending his presidential campaign. The announcement comes just days after Santorum met with prominent conservatives about his campaign and his young daughter’s hospital stay.
Santorum’s decision to put his campaign on hold leaves only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as challengers to Mitt Romney, who is, for all intents and purposes, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Last month, the Joint Committee on Taxation released a report showing that the so-called “Buffett Rule,” a new tax supported by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on the wealthiest Americans, will not work as intended as those targeted would likely find a way around it. But despite this, Senate Democrats are expected to bring the tax to floor next week, hoping to use it as a tool to hammer their Republican counterparts:
White House press secretary Jay Carney said a Senate vote next week on the so-called Buffett Rule will not be an empty gesture even if it is defeated in the upper chamber.
Carney insisted the White House goal was to win passage of the measure, but also acknowledged the vote could accomplish the political goal of hurting Republicans, something that could also lead to its eventual passage.
“I would simply note two things,” Carney said at Monday’s daily White House press briefing.
“One, the piece of legislation we’re talking about here on its face has broad support across the country,” he said. “Two, there is an opportunity here, because of the 60-vote threshold, to demonstrate Republicans listen to their constituents.
“That’s what votes do — they put senators on record,” Carney said. “We will certainly see how senators handle that, the opportunity to vote on the so-called Buffett Rule. The goal is the passage of the resolution.”
It’s obvious that Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) has a target on his back from conservatives in the upcoming primary. Grassroots organizations and advocacy groups have made that much clear to this point, choosing his primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, due to his votes for tax hikes, support for wasteful earmarks, and tax hikes.
Lugar’s bid for re-electioned was been bogged down in March, thanks to a ruling that he was ineligble to vote in the state — though that has now been resolved — and having to payback $14,000 to taxpayers for hotel bills. Lugar also received the “kiss of death” from former Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican turned Democrat that voted for the stimulus and ObamaCare.
However, these conservative groups had been relatively quiet on the ad from…that was until yesterday when the Club for Growth and the National Rifle Association dropped a bomb on Lugar a month before the May 8th primary (you can watch the ads below):
The National Rifle Association and the Club for Growth, two heavy-hitting conservative groups, are launching ads that paint Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) as a Washington insider and boost his Tea Party opponent, Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R).
While it’s true that President Barack Obama saw a marginal bump in his approval ratings last month, the issue of gas prices continues to hang over his head. Obama has finally decided to approve part of the Keystone XL pipeline, but outside of that small step his response to rising gas prices has been lip-service and to wage rhetorical warfare on oil companies.
Obama may think that these tactics are going to appease voters, but according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Americans are starting to notice his inaction as gas prices hit their wallets hard:
A third of all Americans say surging gasoline prices have caused serious financial hardship in their households, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with more than six in 10 reporting some pinch.
President Obama continues to be harshly reviewed for his handling of the situation, even as he eludes some of the direct blame.
As you have seen here and in the news, President Barack Obama has started a war against House Republicans over Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, claiming the the spending cuts being proposed to domestic programs is “social darwinism.” Over at Cato @ Liberty, David Boaz takes Obama to task for the level of discourse he’s using to bash Republicans:
[H]eadlines this week report that President Obama accused the Republicans of “social Darwinism,” and I don’t see anyone exercised about that. A New York Times editorial endorses the attack.
Is “social Darwinist” within some bound of propriety that “socialist” violates? I don’t think so. After all, plenty of people call themselves socialists — not President Obama, to be sure, but estimable figures such as Tony Blair and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Members of the British Labour Party have been known to sing the socialist anthem “The Red Flag” on the floor of Parliament.
But no one calls himself a social Darwinist. Not now, not ever. Not Herbert Spencer. The term is always used to label one’s opponents. In that sense it’s clearly a more abusive term than “socialist,” a term that millions of people have proudly claimed.
Late last week on CBS This Morning, John McCain was asked about the eventual GOP Vice Presidential nominee. He said, jokingly, “I think it should be Sarah Palin.”
After that comment he followed up with a line about how we have great talent in the GOP and that he’s sure Romney will make the right decision in the end. In the video of the interview, it’s clear that McCain was joking, but how much of a joke was it?
When McCain selected Palin as his running mate, she was a mostly (nationally) inexperienced politician whose presence on the ticket was to excite the Republican base and to pander to a demographic group (women) that the GOP needed to appease in order to win the election.
After the joke about Palin, McCain was quick to mention Florida Senator Marco Rubio as a qualified candidate who is in the top tier of potential running mates for Mitt Romney, but what kind of a choice would that be? At first glance, it could look pretty good, but compare the similarities between Rubio and Palin.
Rubio would be a nationally inexperienced politician whose presence on the ticket would be to excite the Republican base (Tea Party) and to pander to a demographic group (Hispanic voters) that the GOP needs to appease in order to win the election.
Rubio getting the VP slot on the ballot wouldn’t shock many people, and I’d speculate that it could even be a safe bet. Still, when you consider the reasons for picking Rubio to the reasons for picking Palin in 2008, you can’t help but wonder if the Republican Party has learned anything in the last four years.
As I noted last week, Van Jones recently made some disparaging, ill-formed comments about libertarians, calling us bigots and anti-gay. But in an interview on Friday on The Alyona Show, Jones attempted to clarify his remarks , saying now that the comments were not directed at all libertarians, rather those that associate with the “far-right” (relevant section of the interview is at the 12:50 mark):
Like I said last week, libertarians aren’t racists or bigots. There are certainly libertarians that tend to focus their activism on fiscal issues, which at times puts them close to conservatives. However, the libertarian philosophy also places emphasis on social tolerances, including support for immigration and personal liberty (ie. allowing someone to marry who they want).
The criticism of libertarians in this manner is odd given that it’s coming from someone that once identified himself as a communist, a collectivist political philosophy and economic system that has claimed the lives of millions of innocent people. Should I lump Jones into the same category as Pol Pot and Joseph Stalin? If I were to use his “overly broad generalization” of libertarians in the same manner, maybe I should.
On Friday, the latest jobs numbers were rolled out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As you might have read, the economy created 120,000 jobs in March, well below consensus estimates; though the unemployment rate did fall to 8.2%.
But with the election on the way, we can expect a renewed debate on stimulus spending. And as James Pethokoukis notes, the unemployment rate is far above that the Obama Administration claimed it would be at this point with the 2009 stimulus bill:
Swing and a miss. A big miss. A really big miss. U.S. employers added just 120,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That’s the smallest increase since October. Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm employment to increase by 203,000. And as economist Robert Brusca points out, “The strong amazing run in household jobs came to a crashing halt as employment in that survey fell by 31,000 after rising by 42,000 last month and 847,000 the month before that.”
The Motion Picture industry has been a bastion of collectivist thought for decades. Ayn Rand famously tried to help stem the Red Tide in Hollywood when she wrote her classic Textbook of Americanism. I hope to carry on her crusade but to do so in a different way. Instead of focusing on the negative my goal is to bring to light those films from around the globe that exemplify the struggle between liberty and coercion.
That is why I am doing a new weekly feature, rating movies according to if they are pro-liberty or pro-tyranny. Each movie will be given a rating of zero to five “Beacons of Liberty.” A film receives a rating based on how well it exemplifies the ideas of Individualism or brings to light the terrible evils of collectivism. An example of a movie that gets a rating of five “Beacons of Liberty” is the film 1984. That is the film version of George Orwell’s classic novel which shows what the logical conclusion of collectivist thought leads to, which is the total annihilation of the individual. I like all types of movies and I love Liberty so I thought this would be a great way to combine the two together. I’m also working on a zombie screenplay, so I will be reviewing tons of zombie movies in the future as well.
My first review is Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within. It is a Brazilian film that deals with corrupt police and politicians and their ties with organized crime in Rio de Janeiro. I give it fpur “Beacons of Liberty″ because it shines the light on corrupt politicians who use the power of government to buy votes, enrich themselves and use dirty cops to kill individuals to protect their interests. The main character Lt. Colonel Roberto Nascimento discovers the corruption and is forced to confront the system when his best friend and son are shot.
Wayne Allyn Root, who served as Bob Barr’s running mate on the Libertarian Party’s Presidential ticket in 2008 and now sits as a member of the Libertarian National Committee, raised more than a few eyebrows late last week when he essentially said on Bill Cunningham’s radio show (podcast here) that he’s supporting Mitt Romney for President this year instead of the nominee of the party he purports to represent:
I think the important thing now is to make sure Obama is not elected,and that means in my mind, I would love for a libertarian like Gary Johnson the two term governor of New Mexico would actually get elected President, but I think we all know that’s not going to happen so therefore it’s got to be Romney there is no choice.
Let’s leave aside the merts of Root’s argument for the moment. It is possible that someone who considers themselves a libertarian might decide in November that it is more important to keep Barack Obama from winning re-election by voting for the candidate most likely to beat him, even if that person is far from being a libertarian and isn’t likely to govern in a way very much different from George W. Bush. I happen to disagree with that conclusion, but I can understand why someone might beleive it, and that’s their right.
But Root isn’t just some libertarian off the streets. He ran for the party’s nomination in 2008, ran as Vice-President that year, and has said on more than one occassion that he intends to run for President against in the future, although apparently not in 2008. And he holds office on the party’s National Committee. It’s the equivalent of a member of the RNC saying that Republicans may as well just vote for President Obama in November.