George W. Bush

Karl Rove has declared war on fiscal conservatives

Karl Rove

That’s right, folks. Karl Rove, a former White House adviser who had a meltdown on Fox News on election night, and American Crossroads are creating a PAC dedicated to helping establishment candidates defeat conservatives in primary races:

The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate.

The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races.

“There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected,” said Steven J. Law, the president of American Crossroads, the “super PAC” creating the new project. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”

Crisis in the Sahara

Over the past few weeks, with the Second Inauguration of Barack Obama as a backdrop, a mostly-ignored crisis has been unfolding in North Africa.  As President Obama declared at his inauguration that “a decade of warfare is ending,” the United States began aiding France with their bombing campaign in Mali, to little fanfare, fulfilling President Obama’s actual foreign policy goal: to maintain an American global presence, with little accountability here or abroad.

Meanwhile, over the inaugural weekend, to the north of Mali in neighboring Algeria, a hostage crisis at a British Petroleum natural gas plant ended violently; at the time of this writing, 37 hostages were killed, 3 of which were American.  Details are still unclear, and the situation is sensitive, but the mind recalls another inaugural hostage crisis 32 years ago with a happier ending.

The events in Algeria and Mali are intrinsically linked, not just by the actors therein, but by the actions which spurred them.  To properly confront the crisis at hand, we must also confront our contributions to the crisis, for as Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

United States is meddling in a Civil War

Before Christmas, amid the drama of the fiscal cliff, and before the horrible shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama announced that our government would recognize the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the country’s people, stating:

“The Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, and is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”

Have conservatives lost their mind on foreign policy?

As a libertarian, it has been puzzling to watch how conservatives have reacted to the foreign policy of Barack Obama.  In almost every tangible way, Obama’s policies have been a continuation of his predecessor’s.  In fact, in some ways he has been even more aggressive - amping up the mission in Afghanistan, involvement in Libya, and increased drone attacks (including against American citizens).  Yet the right continues to pretend that the Obama administration has been “weak” on national defense.

This debate has reached an even greater level of absurdity in recent weeks as Obama has used the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing to tout his foreign policy successes.  Obama has even attempted to argue that Mitt Romney would not have ordered the killing (more than a bit far-fetched in my humble opinion).  Conservatives, on the other hand, have tried to minimize the significance of the event and find any way possible to not give Obama credit for it, when surely they would have praised George W. Bush.

And while military spending has not been cut at all under Obama, conservatives are still arguing that he is somehow short-changing the Pentagon.  Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma went as far as to claim Obama is “gutting” the military in recent comments regarding President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early this week:

“Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” [Inhofe] said. “We’ve seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military.”

Ranking the Presidents from a libertarian perspective

I remember some time ago – maybe as far back as a couple of years ago – I saw a link pointing to a list ranking the presidents on a libertarian scale. I did some digging around tonight, and I believe that this is that list I saw.

Of course, it’s all subjective. There are several lists like this one, and they all vary a little bit depending on the views of the person who wrote the list. I say that to stress that while I’m linking to this list, I didn’t write it, so don’t assume that I endorse everything in it.

His top five U.S. Presidents:

  1. Martin Van Buren
  2. Grover Cleveland
  3. John Tyler
  4. Calvin Coolidge
  5. Zachary Taylor

And, of course, no “best of” list is any good without an accompanying “worst of” list. Here are his list of the worst 5 presidents:

  1. George W. Bush
  2. Abraham Lincoln
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  4. Ronald Reagan
  5. Harry S. Truman

A few of my thoughts on the list:

CBO: Deficit to exceed $1 trillion in 2012

On the campaign trail and during the third presidential debate with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised that Americans would see a “net-spending cut” during his presidency.

The claim was met with a boatload of skepticism given that Obama was proposing massive expansions in healthcare and non-defense discretionary spending; however, we all crossed our fingers that he would follow through, but we didn’t hold our breath.

The skepticism proved to be justified. Just a couple of months after coming into office, President Barack Obama told Americans that under his budget that there would be trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

He wasn’t kidding. The Congressional Budget Office released its budget report for this current fiscal year yesterday, predicting yet another trillion dollar budget deficit and unemployment hovering around 9%:

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday predicted the deficit will rise to $1.08 trillion in 2012.

The office also projected the jobless rate would rise to 8.9 percent by the end of 2012, and to 9.2 percent in 2013.

These are much dimmer forecasts than in CBO’s last report in August, when the office projected a $973 billion deficit. The report reflects weaker corporate tax revenue and the extension for two months of the payroll tax holiday.
[…]
If the CBO estimate is correct, it would mean that the United States recorded a deficit of more than $1 trillion for every year of Obama’s first term.

Massachusetts Governor criticizes Tim Thomas for skipping White House event

Tim Thomas sure stirred up a hornet’s nest, didn’t he?  The Boston Bruin’s goalie made a personal decision to not meet President Obama.  He said his piece on Facebook about why he decided to forego the meeting.  Fair enough. Of course, Governor Deval Patrick seems to feel that Thomas was lacking “courtesy and grace”:

Governor Deval Patrick struck a disappointed tone today as he commented on Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’s decision not to attend a White House event earlier this week honoring the Stanley Cup champions.

“He’s a phenomenal hockey player and he’s entitled to his views, but it just feels to me like we’re losing in this country basic courtesy and grace,” Patrick said.

I didn’t think much of President Bush’s policies – two wars on a credit card, prescription drug benefit that we couldn’t afford, deficit out of control – but I always referred to him as ‘Mr. President.’ I stood when he came in the room,” Patrick said in his monthly appearance on the “Ask the Governor” segment on WTKK-FM.

“There are rules to live by so I don’t want to make more of this than is deserving. I guess I’d prefer to pay more attention and offer more commentary when there are acts of grace as opposed to the reverse,” he said, moving onto the next topic.

Interesting.  Please note the part in bold.  Obviously, Thomas simply must have said something horrible. Luckily, we can go to the tape, so to speak…or at least Thomas’ Facebook page.  There, Thomas says this:

Libertarian Purity and the Presidential Race

In March of last year, I wrote a post on “Libertarian purity”.  It was one of the most read posts of 2011, and probably the most read post I’ve personally ever written.  As we look onto the 2012 primary season and eventual general election, I figured it might be a good time to revisit that post and how it could apply to this election.

First, we have a unique year this year.  An actual libertarian - by most people’s definition anyways - has a legitimate shot and making some headway.  Ron Paul’s slow but steady rise in the polls has been something that fills me with a level of joy that is hard to describe.  “But Tom,” you might say, “didn’t you come out in support of Gary Johnson?”  I would answer yes.  I like Johnson more than Paul, but frankly a President Ron Paul wouldn’t exactly be anything close to bad in my book.

Further, Gary Johnson is challenging for the Libertarian Party nomination, so there’s still a good chance that I’ll get to vote for him in the general election.

It’s entirely possible that we’ll have two libertarians on the ticket, but it’s also possible that we won’t have but one.  So what do we do about that?

In that post from last year, I said that it was vital that we start winning elections, rather than just debating politics from the outside.  So let’s take a look at some of the options and how it relates to that post.

How Speaker Newt Gingrich Betrayed the Republican Revolution

Stephen Slivinski is senior economist at the Goldwater Institute. Previously he was director of budget studies at the Cato Institute, senior economist at the Tax Foundation, and a senior editor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Mr. Slivinski is the author of the book, Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government, published in 2006.

One thing that makes Newt Gingrich an attractive presidential candidate to many conservatives is his term as Speaker of the House and his role as the captain of the Republican Revolution of 1994. But a closer look at the history of the years between 1995 and when he stepped down as speaker in 1998 show that Gingrich was usually at odds with those pushing the Reaganite vision of a truly limited federal government. In fact, when the Republican Revolution succeeded at all it was often in spite of Newt Gingrich, not because of him. Unfortunately, too many conservatives have forgotten this or perhaps may not have known it at all.

Gingrich does indeed come across as an eloquent defender of limited government principles. In 1995, he envisioned the new GOP congressional majority presaging a cultural revolution in Washington, D.C. “The real breaking point is when you find yourself having a whole new debate, with new terms. That’s more important than legislative achievements,” Gingrich told a reporter on the first day of the 104th Congress. “We’ll know in six months whether we have accomplished that.”

Yes, the GOP is still pro-torture and pro-war

I went into Saturday night’s debate on foreign policy fully expecting to be depressed.  Despite the party’s claims that it has learned its lessons from Bush’s mistakes, one area where the GOP is entirely unreformed is in foreign policy.  A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has not deterred the hawks of the party who still see aggressive military action as both viable and even desirable.  And yes, the party still wholeheartedly endorses torture.

The torture support is truly baffling from a party that claims to be about morality and traditional values.  On issues like abortion and gay marriage, we are told that the federal government needs to have an activist role that extends far beyond strict Constitutional mandates because the issues are so important.  On these matters, the moral case is simply so compelling that small-government ideas go out the door.  (As an aside, I am not necessarily against state-level action here, but the federal government has NO role.)

Yet when it comes to fighting terrorists, despite the moral weight clearly being on the side of humane treatment and the rule of law, Republicans line up and endorse treatment of prisoners that justified execution when the Japanese did it during World War II.  The only explanation I can come up with is that the average Republican voter is so terrified of terrorists that they take a pass on the moral dilemma here.  It’s sad to say the least that they have ceded the high ground on this issue, all for the illusion that brutal interrogations make us safer.


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