Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
A wise Italian judge?
A writer on Tapped makes a darned good point about intellectual honesty in the Ricci/Sotomayor debate. The right has been attacking Sotomayor for supposedly threatening to take her ethnic background into account on the bench, even though there's exactly zero evidence that she has ever done so. Meanwhile:

Of course, there is another justice who testified to how his ethnic background affected his jurisprudence, and that was Samuel Alito. Testifying in front of the Senate during his confirmation hearing, Alito said:

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.

Frank Ricci, the plaintiff in that case, is Italian American, just like Samuel Alito. Was Alito thinking about "people in his own family" who "suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background" when he cast his vote in the Ricci case? Was his ruling and concurrent opinion affected by his "taking that into account" as he says he does in such cases?

There's no way to know. But what I find interesting is that no one's even asking the question

Hm. And Scalia is Italian, too. The conclusion is pretty damning:

In our national conversation, bias is something people of color and women have toward white men, not the other way around, history be damned. This isn't a new phenomenon either, based on some sort of (nonexistent) "reversal of fortune" for white men in society--they asked the same questions of Thurgood Marshall that they're now asking of Sotomayor.

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posted by JReid @ 12:54 PM  
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The GOP needs a conservative Hispanic: STAT
He's young, he's handsome, and by God, he's Hispanic! And so, the righties, tired of being branded a bunch of old white guys, have latched on to Marco Rubio, who has officially replaced Jeb Bush's son George P. as The Future of the Republican Party:
Suddenly, to the conservative hardcore, the instant endorsements that Crist received from ranking Senate Republicans after his announcement earlier this month is outrageous not just because it suggests a willingness to bend party orthodoxy but because in doing so, the party kneecaps a young, dashing, eloquent personality with potential to add star power -- a quantity it needs desperately as younger demographics slip from its reach.

In a column in Human Events, a website for the "conservative underground," John Gizzi describes how Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Senatorial Campaign Committee, attended a luncheon last week "in which many national conservatives voiced anger over the NRSC's blessing of moderate Gov. Charlie Crist for the Senate in Florida." Gizzi himself put Cornyn on the defensive: "I asked Cornyn why his committee would make a move like that when Crist had a primary race against conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio."
And the right wing's Rubio embrace has apparently shaken Mr. Cornyn:
One of the most powerful GOP members on Capitol Hill, Cornyn has apparently been so unnerved by the backlash that followed his committee's endorsement of Crist that he has refused to answer more questions about it, especially as bloggers call for his resignation or at least for his withdrawal of that endorsement.
Meanwhile, RedState and other winger groups are raising cash for Rubio.

Double meanwhile, George P. fights back, not content to let Marco take his spot. He's also ripping Miss Charlie and dropping major hints that he wants to be Marco Rubio, too:
I want to obtain success in my own right. I want people to look at a record of accomplishment that I’ve put together in my own right and not based on family name,” Bush said. “I haven’t achieved my personal goals. Definitely down the road I’d love to reassess but as of right now it’s not for me.”
The plot thickens...

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posted by JReid @ 10:30 AM  
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
'Skinny Bitch' Watch: Laura Ingraham fires back (again)
Having played the party of the snarky, asthmatic yearbook editor to Megan McCain's popular cheerleader, Laura Ingraham took her outrage to a new level yesterday, issuing an angry email outburst called "Useful idiot-watch," aimed at all those evil jerks who hated on her skinny bitchery. Hat tip to ThinkProgress:
The left’s indignation in this instance is manufactured and totally phony. If any off-the-cuff remark about a woman’s size was condemnable, then where was the outrage when President Obama made a passing reference to Jessica Simpson’s “weight battle” during his Super Bowl interview with Matt Lauer? And of course they look the other way when obvious personal attacks are levied against conservatives. Remember when Al Franken was the toast of all media for his book “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot”? Last month The View’s Joy Behar called him a “fat guy”; and when I was a guest on The View a few years back she ridiculed Ann Coulter and me as “peroxide” blondes on Fox. I laughed it off. If you can’t stand the heat…get out of the punditry business.
High school translation:

LAURA: (wheeze) "Like ... they called my boyfriend fat, so screw 'em! He's not fat because he eats too much, it's genetic! Miss Stupid Face is fat 'cause she's stupid...! Cheerleaders are stupid...! You're all stupid...!


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posted by JReid @ 10:25 AM  
Monday, March 16, 2009
Laura Ingraham: 'skinny bitch'
Snap poll: who would most winger guys rather date: Boney Laura or curvy Megan?

I'm not a huge fan of the McCain clan (particularly after John McCain's conduct of the 2008 campaign,) but I have to say Megan McCain, for all her Valley girlisms and relationshiop TMI, she comes across as a far more reasonable, thoughtful and likeable Snidely Whiplash radio termagant (and resident "bodysnarker") Laura Ingraham. Advice to Laura (and her fellow winger anorexics): shut up and have a hamburger. Don't hate on Megan because she's cuter than you.

Meanwhile, in other radio news: Don Imus has announced he is battling prostate cancer. Again, not a fan, but godspeed to him.

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posted by JReid @ 4:20 PM  
Sunday, March 08, 2009
The Brooks apostasy: 'time for the GOP to move on from Reagan'
Oh no he didn't! David Brooks speaks the words that no Republican must ever, ever utter...

I hope he has a bodyguard.

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posted by JReid @ 3:59 PM  
Thursday, March 05, 2009
The GOP continues to implode
Conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie spells out the bottom line for the GOP and its many, many problems:
"The 'Rushification' of the GOP is the natural and inevitable result of the fact that those who are supposed to provide leadership -- Republican elected officials and party officers -- are doing little to bring the party back," said Viguerie, Chairman of "Nature abhors a vacuum, and there is no vacuum in nature as empty as the leadership of the Republican Party today."
Ouch. And the air head currently standing at the mouth of the vacuum is none other than our good friend Michael Steele, who is quickly turning out to be almost as golden for Democrats as El Rushbo himself. Steele has quickly gone from the Great Brown Hope of the GOP (oh, sorry, that was Bobby Jindal...) the Great Black Hope of the GOP, to a national punch line (even Morning Joe got at him on Wednesday.) And Politico reports that besides providing endless hilarious sound bites for the ankle biters online, such as myself, and on late night TV, Steele isn't even getting his organization together. So much for the logic in making him RNC chair just because he's not white ...

Meanwhile, the elected leaders of the GOP can't stop themselves from racing to join Steele's genuflection in Rush Limbaugh's general direction (Brer Jindal included), afraid to step away from him but also afraid of the polls showing Obama sky high and El Rushbo rock bottom low, and seemingly oblivious to the trap they've fallen into. And Rush? He thinks the president of the United States has time to call in to his radio show and debate him.

It would be sad if it weren't so funny.

BTW, if you'd like to join Michael Steele and the rest of the GOP in saying sorry to El Rushbo -- and I mean for ANYTHING ... click here for a handy apology generator, courtesy of the DCCC.

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posted by JReid @ 2:50 AM  
Sunday, March 01, 2009
American Conservative: how talk radio wrecks the right
Rush Limbaugh: defender of the wealth

Rush Limbaugh may be the focus of many right wingers' nocturnal fantasies and emissions, but some paleocons are going their own way. GOP whip Eric Cantor took a giant step away from El Rushbo on "This Week" this week (well, maybe not a giant one, and I give him 48 hours tops, before he's on the air with Rush groveling and taking it all back. Actually, make that 24...) Democrats gleefully trumpet Rush as the new leader of the conservative movement (sorry, Newt.) But the American Conservative magazine, for one, is not amused by the "carny barkers" who dominate the medium that Limbaugh built:

With reasons for gratitude duly noted, are there some downsides to conservative talk radio? Taking the conservative project as a whole—limited government, fiscal prudence, equality under law, personal liberty, patriotism, realism abroad—has talk radio helped or hurt? All those good things are plainly off the table for the next four years at least, a prospect that conservatives can only view with anguish. Did the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Savages, and Ingrahams lead us to this sorry state of affairs?

They surely did. At the very least, by yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration, they helped create the great debt bubble that has now burst so spectacularly. The big names, too, were all uncritical of the decade-long (at least) efforts to “build democracy” in no-account nations with politically primitive populations. Sean Hannity called the Iraq War a “massive success,” and in January 2008 deemed the U.S. economy “phenomenal.”

Much as their blind loyalty discredited the Right, perhaps the worst effect of Limbaugh et al. has been their draining away of political energy from what might have been a much more worthwhile project: the fostering of a middlebrow conservatism. There is nothing wrong with lowbrow conservatism. It’s energizing and fun. What’s wrong is the impression fixed in the minds of too many Americans that conservatism is always lowbrow, an impression our enemies gleefully reinforce when the opportunity arises. Thus a liberal like E.J. Dionne can write, “The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. … Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans.” Talk radio has contributed mightily to this development.

It does so by routinely descending into the ad hominem—Feminazis instead of feminism—and catering to reflex rather than thought. Where once conservatism had been about individualism, talk radio now rallies the mob. “Revolt against the masses?” asked Jeffrey Hart. “Limbaugh is the masses.”

And I doubt they'll be taking that back. And John Derbyshire, the Brit conservative who wrote the piece, points out an important fact:

There is a lowbrow liberalism, too, but the Left hasn’t learned how to market it. Consider again the failure of liberals at the talk-radio format, with the bankruptcy of Air America always put forward as an example. Yet in fact liberals are very successful at talk radio. They are just no good at the lowbrow sort. The “Rush Limbaugh Show” may be first in those current Talkers magazine rankings, but second and third are National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” with 13 million weekly listeners each. It is easy to mock the studied gentility, affectless voices, and reflexive liberalism of NPR, but these are very successful radio programs.

Rush has around 14 million listeners. Not a huge difference there. And he leaves off the notably highbrow Thom Hartmann, who made Talkers top ten in their latest power rankings.

Meanwhile, has the GOP become the party of dangerous conspiracy nuts? Signs point to yes.

Related: if you listened to Mike McConnell at all this weekend (and why would you?) you heard his full throated defense of the big banks, and their use of taxpayer dollars. Said McConnell: "I presume that they know more about their business than I do, and that they know how to run their businesses better than the government," so no one should complain when Northern Trust takes TARP money and then throws a party. Huh??? If they know what they're doing, then ... um ... why do they need to be bailed out?

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posted by JReid @ 1:25 PM  
Thursday, February 26, 2009
When your biggest star is Joe the Plumber...
I didn't write much about the CPAC conference today because ... well ... it's so darned irrelevant. What's to say about a hotel ballroom full of right wing zealots, angry white guys, gun nuts, neocon leftovers and ... Joe the Plumber... (Sigh.) Yes, he's still hanging around (and he's still not a plumber) ... not selling many books, though... (Where is Human Events when you need them to buy in bulk??? Oh, right... they're having financial troubles because the evil conspiracy of the Commie Postal Service.) From an email appeal today entitled "We're in Trouble, We Need Your Help":
It pains me terribly to write a letter like this, but a crisis that threatens the very existence of HUMAN EVENTS forces me to ask for your help.

Let me explain...

You may recall that, just over a year ago, the federal government's taxpayer-subsidized mail-delivery monopoly -- aka the United States Postal Service -- hit us with a whopping 20 percent rate increase that drove up our annual delivery costs by more than $120,000. [Emphasis added]

Well, believe it or not, they've just done it again.

That's right: the USPS is hitting us with yet another postal increase that will jack up our annual delivery costs by an additional $51,568.

Together, this one-two punch of rate hikes amounts to more than $170,000 in increased annual delivery costs -- a staggering sum that we simply can't afford.

Now, it's outrageous enough that the USPS can continually jack up our rates without fearing any loss of our business to more cost-efficient competitors -- something it can do ONLY because federal law effectively protects it from private competition.

But what really burns me up is that these increases are part of a new rate system that was designed in part by lobbyists for liberal media giant Time Warner and other large publishers to benefit themselves at the expense of smaller competitors such as HUMAN EVENTS. ...

...Please send as large a gift as you possibly can. Our readers have never let us down in the past. We appreciate all your support over the years -- and thanks in advance for your generous assistance today.


Tom Winter
President and Editor in Chief, HUMAN EVENTS

And of course, Joe was the biggest star at CPAC because the brown guy, since George W. Bush wasn't invited, Sarah Palin couldn't be bothered and Bobby Jindal ... is now persona non grata. Aw, shucks, fellers!

So CPAC was down to jokes about Obama not being a citizen, jokes from The Moustache about blowing up Chicago, and oh, yeah, the increasingly lonely intellectual, Newt Gingrich. Maybe they could get Michael Steele to come down and perform some hip-hop???

UPDATE: Check out this pretty nasty dis of Karl Rove and Dubya during the CPAC conference:

For all the sarcasm and accusations of socialism directed at President Obama, their immediate anger is focused on party purging before rebuilding. “Why is ‘the architect’ [Karl Rove] giving free advice, even as people like us crawl from the rubble of the collapsed structure built from his blueprints?” asks National Review contributing editor Deroy Murdock. “Imagine clicking on the TV and catching a show called Cooking with Typhoid Mary.”


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posted by JReid @ 10:27 PM  
Mining the WaPo: Robin Hood and the budget showdown to come
The House got cold feet on mortgage modifications. The key paragraph in the WaPo story:
Under the provision, a bankruptcy judge would be able to cut the principal on a homeowner's mortgage, lower the interest rate and extend the terms, provisions known as "cramdowns." Judges are already allowed to modify mortgages for vacation or second homes but not for a borrower's primary residence.
In other words, bankruptcy will continue to be rich man's relief, at least for now. This time, Democrats tied to the financial services sector also opposed the change.

Meanwhile, the right is howling about President Obama's budget proposal, which gives real world figures for our debt and deficit for the first time. And yes, it's not looking good. But Republicans will have a hard time running away from the record of the president and Congress who got us here. (Spoiler alert: Both of them are Republican.)

From Dan Froomkin, we get the coming GOP narrative: that Obama is playing Robin Hood:

"You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation," Obama said this morning "Today, we have to focus on foundations."

What he didn't mention was that he was also ripping out some of the foundations that were laid by the previous administration.

Obama's budget would dramatically increase taxes on the wealthy, while cutting payments and subsidies to insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness and defense contractors -- and mandating a system to charge polluters for their carbon emissions.

It would, in short, reverse the redistribution of wealth that took place during the Bush era. This time, the rich will be subsidizing the poor, not the other way around.

The revenue increases -- supplemented by staggering deficit spending -- would pay for tax cuts for non-wealthy Americans and hugely ambitious plans in the areas of energy, health and education that, as Obama insisted on Tuesday night are necessary to assure the country's long-term prosperity.

And the problem with that would be...? I recall that rich people did pretty well under the Clinton tax rates, which is what we're returning to.

Meanwhile, Bill Kristol, trying to reinvent himself at the WaPo, advises Republicans to try and smother the Obama agenda soon:

Obama's aim is not merely to "revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity." Obama outlined much of this new foundation in the most unabashedly liberal and big-government speech a president has delivered to Congress since Lyndon Baines Johnson. Obama intends to use his big three issues -- energy, health care and education -- to transform the role of the federal government as fundamentally as did the New Deal and the Great Society.

Conservatives and Republicans will disapprove of this effort. They will oppose it. Can they do so effectively? Perhaps -- if they can find reasons to obstruct and delay. They should do their best not to permit Obama to rush his agenda through this year. They can't allow Obama to make of 2009 what Franklin Roosevelt made of 1933 or Johnson of 1965. Slow down the policy train. Insist on a real and lengthy debate. Conservatives can't win politically right now. But they can raise doubts, they can point out other issues that we can't ignore (especially in national security and foreign policy), they can pick other fights -- and they can try in any way possible to break Obama's momentum. Only if this happens will conservatives be able to get a hearing for their (compelling, in my view) arguments against big-government, liberal-nanny-state social engineering -- and for their preferred alternatives.

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posted by JReid @ 5:37 PM  
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Bobby Jindal and the perils of excessive folksiness

Jindal's folksy response to Obama, in which he calls himself a "pre-existing condition."

I know everyone wants to talk about President Obama's powerful performance last night in his non-SOTU SOTU address, but sorry, I just can't get Bobby Jindal's response out of my mind. Yes, yes, it was problematic in that it lacked specific remedies to our economic woes that could confer credibility on the party out of power or make America want to give the GOP another chance at leadership, which is the essential critique over at The Moderate Voice. Sure, it's insane and nihilistic, as David Brooks put it, to simply stand there and say "no, no, NO, let the country crash and burn while we pray for better days!" And yep, it "stunk on ice" in terms of delivery, as this booty-obsessed GOPer opined (one Republican strategist said watching Obama then Jindal was "like watching the Rolling Stones open for Air Supply." Ouch!) But WHY did it stink so badly?

In short: it's the GOP's obsession with appearing to be "just folks." They can't get enough of it. The party that since the late 19th century has represented big business, from Standard Oil to Halliburton to Lehman Brothers, has so denuded itself of a middle class message, that it is left to panhandle for lower middle class white voters in Appalachia and the rest of the NASCAR circuit. How to do it? By trying to marry the interests of poor whites to the interests of rich whites. Somewhere along the line, the GOP decided that the way to do that was to feign a king of false populism -- an "us against them" brocade that pits "real Americans" -- hardscrabble, indepedent folks who don't want no darned Social Security (as Joe the Plumber bravely asserted during the campaign) and don't need no government welfare disguised as "stimulus money" ... even though the states they live in are, to a one, net welfare states that take in more federal money than they pay in taxes.

The incredible trick of getting poor people to stand up for the rights of the rich -- sort of like getting the masses to storm the Bastille on behalf of Marie Antoinette -- is a neat one, performed in large part thanks to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which allowed people like Rush Limbaugh to own AM radio, a key transmitter of information to folks who still use rabbit ears on their television sets and prefer huntin' and fishin' to reading a newspaper.

The other way the GOP operates, is to create these characters -- people whose backgrounds suggest wealth, success and sophistication: a self-made governor of Alaska; a Rhodes Scholar, first generation American, 37-year-old governor of Louisiana; even the son of a president -- but whose demeanor suggests "aw, shucks, fellers, ahm just lahk you!" George W. Bush, Yale graduate, male cheerleader and scion of great wealth, purchased a ranch in Crawford just before running for president. Immediately upon leaving office? He and Laura moved into an exclusive, comfortable neighborhood of Dallas that had racial covenants in place just a few years ago. Nobody knows how intelligent Sarah Palin actually is, but during the campaign she came off as a cross between Ellie Mae Clampett and Donna Reed. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor Maryland, and now the Official Black Man of the 99 percent white Republican Party, feels the need to drop the word "baby" at the end of every sentence, and promises to give his party a "hip-hop makeover." And now, there's poor Bobby Jindal, an impressive man, if you read his resume, but whose demeanor and delivery last night were so stilted and ... hell ... just plain wierd ... that he has ensured only one thing: a cameo on South Park. Other than that? 2012 is a wash.

Watch: Bobby Jindal's Country Bear Jamboree:

Democrats have their folksy characters, too. Bill Clinton, who like Jindal was a Rhodes Scholar, is as folksy as they come. And even Barack Obama comes across as a purely suburban Mr. Rogers, which was part of his appeal to white voters. But both of these men were and are unafraid to flaunt their intellectual heft and command of policy. Meanwhile, the so-called "conservatives" of the GOP exhibit a disdain for anyone who sounds too smart or educated (essentially telling their least educated voters, "see, that guy thinks he's better than you...) And it seems, the Grand Old Party has developed a total aversion to actual ideas. Instead, what they're selling is the old salt of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts! ... coupled with this strange, "aw shucks" pandering to a shrinking database of voters in a confined geographic area, and at a long-term demographic disadvantage. (Steele is even hinting that his RNC will sabotage the re-elections of the last remaining northeastern GOP Senators, as if a far right candidate could possibly win in Pennsylvania or Maine today.)

Unfortunately for the GOP, as one of the few authentic folksy guys in the party -- Mike Huckabee, who was rejected by the leaders of the right wing revolution -- might say, "that dog won't hunt." Not when most Americans realize that we desperately need more education, more intellectual curiosity, and less pandering to the lowest common denominator, in order to move the country forward.

Meanwhile: Malkin defends Jindal, her new Sarah Palin.

UPDATE: El Rushbo comes to Bobby's rescue.


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posted by JReid @ 10:01 AM  
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The creeping irrelevancy of the GOP
One of the things I used to hate about the right during the Bush years was their demand that everyone in the country give total fealty and obeisance to the president. Sites like the Free Republic and RedState routinely banned users who did not express complete, utter and rapturous affection for George W. Bush, or who dared to disagree with his policies, particularly when it came to the "war on terror." Democrats would do well to avoid that kind of totalitarian nonsense when it comes to Barack Obama, although the temptation to worship is there, given the historic nature of his candidacy, his command of the media and personal magnetism. That said, Democrats must also avoid trying so hard to appear indpendent that they wind up nit picking every little thing Obama does (as happened with his selection of Rick Warren to give what turned out to be a perfectly nice opening prayer at his inauguration.) [Photo at left: House Minority Leader John Boehner tees off.]

That said, I'm worried about my friends on the right.

It seems that with every passing day, they are fading more and more into irrelevancy. My Friday column in the South Florida Times will address this, but in a nutshell, the problem is this: Republicans haven't figured out how to oppose a popular president, any more than Democrats did during the years when Bush worship was the order of the day (from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina.) And Republicans have invested in what surely is a losing strategy: opposing the very thing Americans want most: an economic recovery package -- a big one.

Worse, Republicans are opposing the Obama plan without offering a credible alternative. All they've got is all they've ever had: an almost manic obsession with tax cuts -- for wealthy individuals and corporations. That's it. That's the entire Republican economic platform -- oh, that and more deregulation. In other words, the Republican Party is demanding that the new president pursue the exact same policies as the old president; you know, the ones that have failed miserably, sunk the U.S. and global economy, and caused the Republican Party to lose the last two national elections.

If that doesn't make sense to you, you must not be a Republican.

The inherent risk in this strategy for the GOP is that it could somehow work -- the Republicans despite their paltry numbers on the Hill could find a way to obstruct or water down the plan. And then what? If the economy continues to sink, as it inevitably would, they would get the blame. On the other hand, if and when the plan passes -- and let's face it, the plan can pass without them -- the GOP has stood so firmly against it, they can't hope to get any credit for any economic improvements that follow. How that strategy makes sense is beyond me. Meanwhile, Republicans look postively foolish, going around demanding more tax cuts, when Americans have long since rejected trickle down economics and all its related calamities. It's like stumping for Herbert Hoover in the age of FDR.

And then there are the chatterers, like Rush Limbaugh, who was dumb enough to admit this week that he really does want Obama to fail -- something we all knew, but which few thought anyone would be bone headed enough to say out loud. Even Glenn Beck, as dim as he is, isn't dumb enough to admit that he hopes for Obama's failure (and by extension, the failure of the U.S. economy.) Beck has resorted to utter foolishness of his own, however, this week moaning about Che Guevara T-shirts and Mao handbags, and something about a "Drunken Negro cookie" in Greenwich Village, New York. How the hell does he even know about that?

I suppose eventually, Republicans will find their way, and strike a balance between obstruction and intelligent opposition (and then, maybe they'll let John McCain in on it.) But for now, the party of Hoover is looking for all the world like irrelevant, sapped Tories, lost in a Laborite America.

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posted by JReid @ 8:40 AM  
Monday, October 27, 2008
Attack of the Palinites

Is the Republican Party destined to become the dunce party? Maybe so... having spurned "big city America", science, and intellectual elitism in favor of small-town, "real America", the Party of Palin is losing the major metropolitan areas that Ronald Reagan once coopted. Worse, by courting anti-intellectualism and pandering to the worst instincts in American life: jingoism, racism, tribalism and regionalism, including questioning the patriotism of whole coasts, how does the party grow, especially since Hispanics (especially non-Catholic Hispanics,) are running away from them in droves, turned off by the race-baiting, "whites in the White House," anti-immigrant rantings of the right; and African-Americans barely give the GOP a second look? I think it's clear which way the tide in this country is turning, and it's not in the direction of the Limbaugh-Buchanan-Hannity party.

More on election demographics here. You don't even have to click on the link to figure out that Palinism, which appears to be the dominant element within the GOP right now, is incredibly destructive to the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, some in the GOP are arguing that maybe conservatives need some time in the wilderness to get themselves together. Feel free, fellers.

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posted by JReid @ 11:06 AM  
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Fatwahed by 'the base'
Do you know what the translation for the term "the base" is in Arabic? It's "al-Qaeda."

And now for the post. Christopher Buckley has resigned from the National Review, and his resignation was accepted in what might be called a "New York minute" (except that the right hates New York, except that they mostly live there ... so, maybe a "Wasila minute???) His crime: he endorsed Barack Obama, and in doing so, enraged the base. ... And so now, the son of NR's founder, the really, very delightful William F. Buckley Jr., is on the outs. He writes at The Daily Beast (Tina Brown's new blog home):

Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails. No one has yet suggested my dear old Mum should have aborted me, but it’s pretty darned angry out there in Right Wing Land. One editor at National Review—a friend of 30 years—emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.” One thoughtful correspondent, who feels that I have “betrayed”—the b-word has been much used in all this—my father and the conservative movement generally, said he plans to devote the rest of his life to getting people to cancel their subscriptions to National Review. But there was one bright spot: To those who wrote me to demand, “Cancel my subscription,” I was able to quote the title of my father’s last book, a delicious compendium of his NR “Notes and Asides”: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.

Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.)

My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

Buckley goes on to say that it's really no biggie, since conservatism doesn't mean much in the wake of eight years of gigantic government, Terri Schiavo intervention and an ill-conceived war in Iraq. Besides, as many conservatives (including George Will, David Brooks, and when he's not being a peevish, duplicitous little prick, even David Frum have admitted, the Republican Party is becoming increasingly a hostile place for intellectuals (except for neocons. They're always welcome.) And so, welcome to the winning team, Chris. We're glad to have you.

Meanwhile, NR's Rich Lowry replies: "Nyeh!"

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posted by JReid @ 12:10 AM  
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Andrew Sullivan says it all
Andrew Sullivan, who is probably the most sober, intelligent conservative left on the national scene (most of the others are hacks, and the other really good ones are unknown to the public...) sums up the McCain campaign's biggest victim: John McCain's honor:

For me, this surreal moment - like the entire surrealism of the past ten days - is not really about Sarah Palin or Barack Obama or pigs or fish or lipstick. It's about John McCain. The one thing I always thought I knew about him is that he is a decent and honest person. When he knows, as every sane person must, that Obama did not in any conceivable sense mean that Sarah Palin is a pig, what did he do? Did he come out and say so and end this charade? Or did he acquiesce in and thereby enable the mindless Rovianism that is now the core feature of his campaign?

So far, he has let us all down. My guess is he will continue to do so. And that decision, for my part, ends whatever respect I once had for him. On core moral issues, where this man knew what the right thing was, and had to pick between good and evil, he chose evil. ...
Read the whole thing. And what's even more bizarre about McCain's desperate decision to seize the presidency by any means necessary, is that he is doing so while proclaiming his ability to reach across the aisle. Mr. McCain, it's usually not a good idea to throw lighter fluid and lit matches into the aisle first.


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posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Five things the left doesn't understand about 'conservatives'
Whether you're talking about "fiscons," who want tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts! ... and the elimination of social spending; "socons," social conservatives who care mostly about abortion, stem cell research (read "abortion,") teaching the Bible's precepts in school instead of wicked "science," and a curious obsession with gays; or "neocons," whose main goal is to go to war with every country whose name starts with a vowel but isn't Israel -- people on the left just don't understand who they're dealing with. Liberals continue to think they can reason with or bring right wingers around, when in fact, they can't. Not ever. There is too stark a difference between the core beliefs of "red state" and "blue state" people, to bridge the divide.

In the end, what liberals, progressives, Democrats, whatever you want to call them, don't understand about the right can be summed up in 5 points:

1) Conservatives don't care about public policy. They care about social policy. The impact of their plans on the economy, working men and women, the middle class, families, whatever, is irrelevant to them. They care about regulating behavior to make it conform to Biblical law (or to prevent outbursts of dissent, too much free speech, etc.) and they care about winning elections and holding onto power. Public policy is for Democrats.

2) Conservatives don't care about governing.
They hate government, except to the extent that it provides people aligned with them with lucrative contracts and/or cushy jobs. Talk to any black Republican for instance, and of the first two reasons they'll give you for why they became Republicans, one will be "contracts." (The other will be either "tax cuts" or "school vouchers." Somewhere down the road, the really creative ones will throw out "Abraham Lincoln." Other than that, all conservatives really care about is winning elections and holding onto power (so that they can get more lucrative contracts and cushy jobs.)

3) Conservatives could care less if what their leaders are saying is true or not. It sounds true enough to them on talk radio and Fox News, so what's it to you? Modern conservatism has a strong authoritarian streak, so whatever the leadership says is gospel, and the followers' only job is to repeat the "truths," ridicule dissenters, and do everything possible to ensure that the leadership wins elections and holds onto power.

4) Conservatives don't give a flying rat's backside about the future. Many of them believe we're in the end-times anyway, so who cares if global warming shrinks the ice caps, or the Supreme Court reinstates the Salem Witch Trials or permits evangelical gun owners to shoot pro-choicers on sight. The world is disposable and meant for mankind to use, enjoy, and profit from. That's why the conservative response to global warming is denial, snidery, and bigger SUVs.

5) Conservatives don't care about substance. In fact, substance, detail and subtlety are seen as "elite" and effeminate. What the right cares about is symbolism, and the power of symbolism, combined with aggressive messaging, sensory bombardment (and when necessary, dirty tricks,) to help them win elections and hold onto power. Symbolism is why some women, including some who supported Hillary feel compelled to support Sarah Palin. Symbolism is the sum and total of the McCain-Palin campaign. It's not about policy, (i.e., what the Moose Mavericks might actually DO.) it's about making their followers feel good, vindicated and exhilarated about helping the powerful interests behind the GOP to ... wait for it ... win elections, and hold onto power. (On the flip side, Barack Obama has chosen not to use the symbolism of his run as the first black man to vie seriously for the presidency, for fear it would alienate white voters. That hasn't stopped some more open bigots on the right from calling him "uppity" for thinking himself above his station, but it tells you something the right may not know about the left: liberals hate symbolism.)

Most of all, conservatives hate everyone who isn't conservative. For all their self-pity over the "angry left's" demonization of all things Bush, the right is driven more by their hatreds than by their ideas (which can pretty much be boiled down to tax elimination (cuts are for bitches,) abolishing public programs that give their "hard earned money" to "lazy," poor, disabled and old people (though many of them are poor, disabled and old,) privatization to produce maximum wealth for corporations (because they do the trickling down,) deregulation of business and guns, extensive regulation of private behavior (including government surveilance and outlawing of abortion,) and frequent war, to replenish the stock value of war-releated manufaturers while keeping the country focused on fear and jingoism, rather than on the flaws of "conservative" leadership. Just listen to right wing vs. left wing talk radio. Notice how angry the right sounds; how hyper. Scroll down to the posts under any story about Barack Obama, and note the venom. This morning on "Imus," the WaPo's religion writer said the most vicious, frightening emails she gets when she dares to critique Sarah Palin are from professed Christians. And yet, the right delights in styling itself as the victim of left-wing "hatred."

But what the right doesn't understand about the left is that liberals don't necessarily hate conservatives. They just think they're narrow minded, selfish and stupid (a point on which much of the world, sadly, agrees,) and that their beliefs subject America to caricature and ridicule.


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posted by JReid @ 1:32 AM  
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Thank you, Justin Schaffer
Justin Schaffer, the 19-year-old son of conservative, "family values" Colorado Republican Bob Schaffer, who's running for the U.S. Senate, is in a world of hurt over his Facebook page. It seems the University of Dayton Class of 2011 student's page got mirrored by a site called, which allowed the world to take a peek into Justin's psyche. Among the items found rattling around in there:
... a plethora ofimages that mock Barack Obama -- painting him as Muslim, elitist, homosexual and a terrorist. One even goes so far as to compare the presumptive Democratic candidate for president to the cereal-box character "Count Chocula."

The page also includes several pro-gun images. One "bumper sticker" shows an image of Jesus holding an M-16 in front of a Confederate flag, with the words "What Would Republican Jesus Do?" Another features a bevy of different kinds of guns with the words, "Celebrate Diversity" underneath.
Oh, and let's not forget the sticker showing an image of Egyptian pyramids with the caption "slavery gets shit done." ...and he's a member of several Facebook groups, including one called "pole dancers for Jesus."

Cue the heartfelt/staff written apology:
"I do not agree with the sentiment or content of the offensive material, especially the 'bumper sticker' that references slave labor. It is clear that my actions were juvenile, disrespectful, and a mistake on my part.

"The offensive materials directly contradict the values that my parents taught me and are forbidden in my parents' home. My Facebook page is solely my responsibility, and I am saddened that my actions have reflected poorly on my sisters and parents."

His father spoke to 9NEWS on the phone after an event in Glenwood Springs Monday evening and said, "My wife and I have initiated a process of firm and severe discipline with our son."

Now, Schaffer faces "a process of firm and severe discipline with our son," which even as we speak is being "initiated" by his parents, which sounds really creepy and kind of explains a lot about Justin...
and he may even be disciplined by his school, where UD officials said :
... the Code of Conduct standard calls for students to respect all members of the community and the community at large.

Sister Annette Schmeling, vice president of student development and dean of students, said she will have an initial conversation with Schaffer about the postings and "explore the ways his Facebook page is not showing respect."

"We are addressing it and we expect to begin the adjudication process before classes start on August 20," Schmeling said in a written statement.
Punishment could include everything from a reprimand to actual expulsion. Harsh.

But here's the thing. I appreciate Justin's honesty, because I believe he represents a very real core of what passes for the conservative movement today. Sure, he seems a bit juvenile in his presentation, but people twice his age are running an entire presidential campaign on tire gauge props, Paris Hilton ads and Internet meme gimmicks designed to lure the ignorant into believing that Barack Obama is a) an undercover Muslim, b) a friend of "extremists" (read terrorists) and c) an "uppity," spruced up, elitist who "thinks he's better than you..." language which should sound familiar to any Black person who worked or lived in a majority white environment before around 1990. If you don't know what I'm talking about, rent the movie "The Great Debaters" and jump to the scene where Forrest Whitaker's professor character accidentally hits a white farmer's hog with his swanky automobile, and the dust-covered, redneck farmer makes him pay about 10 times what the hog is worth, and forces him to lift the carcas into his truck, saying, "these city niggers think they're too good to get their hands dirty..."

Stripped of their high school semantics, Schaffer's "stickers" reveal very real, commonplace beliefs that are held by most Rush, Hannity and Savage listeners, and others on the right:

1. Distaste for affirmative action
2. An extreme love of guns
3. A warped vision of Jesus as a gun-toting right winger
4. Admiration for the Confederate flag (and presumably the Confederacy)
5. A belief that slavery is overplayed (by African-Americans and liberals) as an objective evil, when it was actually a pretty good deal for Africans.
6. A belief that liberals are sissies, and therefore are most likely gay

etc., etc., (throw in a belief that torture is a.o.k. because Jack Bauer does it, and that we had to go to war with Iraq because of 9/11 somehow, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, plus tax cuts for the rich and anything Big Oil wants and you've pretty much summed up modern conservatism.)

Justin just made it plain, so we don't have to speculate.

For that, we shouldn't punish him, we should let him go right on publishing his thoughts, even if he later claims not to believe them.


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posted by JReid @ 4:24 PM  
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Tony Snow dead at 53
The conservative talk radio host, Fox News commentator and White House spokesman (who later worked for CNN,) succumbed to the colon cancer that had spread to his liver. TV Newser has a bunch of statements, including from the White House, his former employers, and even from Keith Olbermann. More on Snow from Politico's Mike Allen. Prayers go out to his family.

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posted by JReid @ 12:52 PM  
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
So much for science class in Kansas...
In science news ...
PODUNKAVILLE, WV. -- Conservative parents across the U.S. began demanding that their schools immediately stop teaching science, after it was revealed that Nobel prize winning scientist, the late Albert Einstein, didn't quite believe in God. A letter revealing Einstein's disdain for the Suprme Being, whom Einstein derisively called "nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses," and for the Bible, which Einstein called "a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish," was published in the Guardian newspaper this week, subjecting the newspaper's publishers to eternal damnation in the fiery pit of Hell. The letter is to be sold at auction in Great Britain on Tuesday. The buyer is widely expected to be struck dead by a bolt of lightning on the spot.

"This confirms that Einstein was a Democrat," said former Congressman Tom Delay, on his way to a court hearing.

"I liked it when he stuck his tongue out," added a heavy-breathing and still not-retired Senator Larry Craig, adding, "even though I'm not gay."

As for Einstein himself, "I'm sure he's enjoying his barbecue ... burnt up special for him by the Devil!" said hard-working, white American parent Wanda Kleghorn, on her way to vote in West Virginia. "That just goes to show why I keep my children away from all that sinful book learnin'. Besides, he ain't even a real American. Look at his fuzzy hair ... and his name sounds like Saddam Hussein." Reminded that the discussion was about Albert Einstein, Mrs. Kleghorn, who volunteered that she usually votes Republican but intended to vote for Hillary Clinton this time, added, "Einstein, Obama, what the hell's the difference. Neither one of 'em wears a flag pin."

Einstein's letter, in which he also denied that Jews are the "chosen people," drew a strong rebuke from Republican-leaning Independent Senator Joe Lieberman.

"I think this shows why John McCain needs to be our next president," Lieberman said. "We have to send a message to whatever country Einstein was a citizen of, that we will bomb them into the stone age if they continue to produce dead scientists who threaten Israel." Informed that Einstein became a U.S. citizen in 1940, that before that, he was a Swiss citizen, and that he was once offered the presidency of Israel and turned it down, Lieberman said he intended to introduce legislation declaring both the U.S. and Switzerland to be state sponsors of terror, and that he would strongly encourage McCain to begin bombing immediately upon taking office. Lieberman added that he hoped his legislation wouldn't jeopardize his seniority in the Senate, which majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada noted would require a literal act of God -- with lightning and everything -- to make Democrats take it away. Reid insisted the party would never stand up to Lieberman, even if he were to host the upcoming Republican convention at his own home.

Added Sen. Reid, "luckily for us, Albert Einstein said there is no God, so there's no danger of that."
Copyright 2008, The Reid Report

Update: Just in case, allow me to point out that the above is satire, and not a real news story. Cheers.

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posted by JReid @ 2:59 PM  
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Newt's handy-dandy disaster management plan
Newt Gingrich, not the most moral guy in the world, but certainly one of the smarter tacticians on the right, issued his weekly "Winning the Future" newsletter to conservatives on Tuesday. What he had to say to his side is instructive for the fall. (Cliffs Notes version: OH GOD, WE'RE GOING DOWN'! MAN THE LIFEBOATS! HEEEEEEELP!!!!)

Ahem. First, on Congressional seats:
The Republican loss in the special election for Louisiana's Sixth Congressional District last Saturday should be a sharp wake up call for Republicans: Either Congressional Republicans are going to chart a bold course of real change or they are going to suffer decisive losses this November.

The facts are clear and compelling.

Saturday's loss was in a district that President Bush carried by 19 percentage points in 2004 and that the Republicans have held since 1975.

This defeat follows on the loss of Speaker Hastert's seat in Illinois. That seat had been held by a Republican for 76 years with the single exception of the 1974 Watergate election when the Democrats held it for one term. That same seat had been carried by President Bush 55-44% in 2004.

These two special elections validate a national polling pattern that is bad news for Republicans. According to a New York Times/CBS Poll, Americans disapprove of the President's job performance by 63 to 28 (and he has been below 40% job approval since December 2006, the longest such period for any president in the history of polling).

A separate New York Times/CBS Poll shows that a full 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is on the wrong track.

The current generic ballot for Congress according to the NY Times/CBS poll is 50 to 32 in favor of the Democrats. That is an 18-point margin, reminiscent of the depths of the Watergate disaster.
Next, on why John McCain's current durability in the polls should be no comfort to Republicans for the fall:
Senator McCain is currently running ahead of the Republican congressional ballot by about 16 percentage points. But there are two reasons that this extraordinary personal achievement should not comfort congressional Republicans.

First, McCain's lead is a sign of the gap between the McCain brand of independence and the GOP brand. No regular Republican would be tying or slightly beating the Democratic candidates in this atmosphere. It is a sign of how much McCain is a non-traditional Republican that he is sustaining his personal popularity despite his party's collapse.

Second, there is a grave danger for the McCain campaign that if the generic ballot stays at only 32 % for the GOP it will ultimately outweigh McCain's personal appeal and drag his candidacy into defeat.
And third, on whether the GOP can win with an all-Wright, all the time strategy in November:
The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins), anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail.

This model has already been tested with disastrous results.

In 2006, there were six incumbent Republican Senators who had plenty of money, the advantage of incumbency, and traditionally successful consultants.

But the voters in all six states had adopted a simple position: "Not you." No matter what the GOP Senators attacked their opponents with, the voters shrugged off the attacks and returned to, "Not you." ...
Gingrich's conclusion:
A February Washington Post poll shows that Republicans have lost the advantage to the Democrats on which party can handle an issue better -- on every single topic.

Americans now believe that Democrats can handle the deficit better (52 to 31), taxes better (48 to 40) and even terrorism better (44 to 37).

This is a catastrophic collapse of trust in Republicans built up over three generations on the deficit, two generations on taxes, and two generations on national security.
Newt wants House Republicans to call an emergency "members-only conference" at which they should propose an immediate schedule of votes on "real change" issues -- sort of a 2008 version of his 1994 "Contract with America." Newt's 9-point plan will sound familiar to McCain watchers. It includes:
  1. A summertime repeal of the federal gas tax, paid for by radical cuts in discretionary (read non-Social Security, non-Medicare) spending. In other words, kill all the local projects that inject cash and jobs into the Districts of these House members, and then ask those same members to go home, sans "the bacon" and ask for votes based on a gas tax cut that nets their constituents $30 bucks for the entire summer ... did I say Newt was one of the smarter ones...?

  2. Putting the oil headed for the Stratetic Petroleum Reserve onto the open market, which Netw claims would lower gas prices 5 to 6 cents a gallon. Unfortuately, it would also deplete America's emergency reserves of ... petroleum ... and did I mention gas has gone up about three times Newt's proposed savings in the last month?

  3. Announcing a one-year moratorium on earmarks (See bacon notes on #1...)

  4. This one is weird, unless you understand "conservatives": Neutering the Census Bureau and turning their function over to "Internet savvy" private companies. So-called conservatives have never believed in demography, because it allows Democrats to figure out who's being discriminated against on the basis of race. The Census also turns up inconvenient numbers, like estimates of the growing number of Hispanics, which could hurt efforts to sell a borderless North American free trade blob to white, rural Americans.

  5. Implement a "space-based, GPS-style air traffic control system." Call it Reagan's Star Wars fantasy meets private enterprise. Here, Newt appears to want to take advantage of the Reagan-era plan to weaponize space by twisting that program to what probably was its ultimate goal anyway: making some big, Republican-leaning corporation even richer than they are today. Meanwhile, the safety of air travel will be subordinated to the profit motive, and oversight? Who needs it!

  6. Declare that English is the "official language of government." Throwing a biscuit to the Lou Dobbs crowd, which has soured on the GOP. Maybe if they do this, they'll forget about that border fence... Meanwhile, the already blanched GOP loses whatever brown voters they might have had out West. So much for putting California in play.

  7. "Protect the workers right to a secret ballot." This one's about pure union-busting, another GOP technique to wrestle away Democratic voters without actually offering attractive policies.

  8. and finally, "remind Americans that judges matter." Sounds vague, but Newt wants the House to begin trying to ram through Bush's right wing judges, and mount a national scare campaign to convince unhappy right wingers that the "activists on the bench" are coming to their trailers to give their daughters abortions and take their guns, which is clearly a much more pressing matter than that job they can't find, those outrageous gas prices or the foreclosure notice in the mailbox.
That's Newt's plan. So now you know what to expect John McCain to be squawking about for the next few weeks, my friends ... and I'm sure he and Lieberman will endorse whatever the House guys come up with.

What's interesting about Newt's prescriptions is how absolutely devoid they are of the Bush formula that worked, if barely, in 2000 (compassionate conservatism, phony appeals to religious voters on gay rights, abortion and the like...) or the 2004 Bush model of scaring the bejeezus out of everyone with constant threats from "terr'rists." Instead, Newt's plan is to push corporate gimmies and the much-belittled gas tax holiday, along with schemes to twist the demographic calculus and gin up fears of "Spanish spoken here" signs popping up at City Hall. It's an interesting strategy. Let's see if the House puppies bite.

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posted by JReid @ 4:14 PM  
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Well that's a relief
Bill O'Reilly doesn't want to lead a "lynching party" against Michelle Obama ... unless...

Meanwhile, the Factor man's producer defends O'Reilly's commentary, and gets a sympathetic hearing from this guy at Conde Nast. Question: if David Shuster had to apologize and take a two-week suspension for using the words "pimped out" to describe a Senator's daughter, why, pray tell, is it a.o.k. for O'Reilly to go up the offensiveness Richter scale about 400 times with this remark about a Senator's wife? And while I was not a member of the "fire Imus" club, the overwrought reaction to his remarks, versus those of a fellow radio / cable TV personality, looks even more absurd now.

I guess the moral of the story is, right wingers can get away with saying just about anything.

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posted by JReid @ 8:04 AM  
Friday, February 08, 2008
Out of the mouth of boobs
Rush Limbaugh has a thought! He'll become a Hillary Pioneer to ensure she's the nominee ... otherwise ... DOOM!!! DOOOM, I saaaaayyyy..... Here 'tis:
After the withdrawal of Mitt Romney from the GOP race, Limbaugh said to his listeners, "might it be required (she's having to loan herself money), do you think I should conduct a fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton? Mitt did his part today. He got out so as not to fracture the party any further and not to harm the effort to win the war in Iraq. Should I do my part, not by joining my liberal friends in the Republican Party, but actually raising money for Mrs. Clinton, and asking you to join me, so that she would have a chance here to once again have a good shot at getting a Democrat nomination so that we win the White House?"

Limbaugh underlines that "the reason for raising money for Hillary is because that apparently my party is relying on fear and loathing of Hillary to get the nomination, to unite Republicans, who are, some of them, off the reservation. The Republicans do not seem to be relying on leadership in their party to unite the party. They seem to be relying on all these external things, nobody is going to vote for Hillary, negative turnout factor. What if she's not the nominee? We've got make sure she's the nominee if the Republican Party is to be unified. What more loyal thing could I do than to run a fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton? You watch, though, you watch how that will be questioned."

On Wednesday, Limbaugh said of Clinton, "she just polarizes people. I think she's going to gin up enough anti-Hillary turnout out there to perhaps be a boon to whoever the Republican nominee is. ...Now, if Obama is the nominee, we are doomed, and you should get ready and prepared for it now."
Meanwhile, over at RedState, one of the grown-ups tries to take the reigns...
When did victim culture become part of the conservative identity? If you disagree with Rush Limbaugh, then you are attacking talk radio? If you don't have a conservative candidate as the nominee, then you are marginalizing conservatives? ...

... If we try hard enough to convince people we're marginalized, then it will be so. The worst is that it is just not true.

Rush and the chorus of conservative voices are far from being marginalized; they are being courted. They are being given platforms, their input is being sought. Rush and Hannity, they have real impact on elections, as do their vast listener base. From Karl Rove talking about them to Brit Hume, to the girls on the View gossiping about them, the conservative media figures are anything but marginalized.

Vilified by the press, sure; But vilified by the Republican party? Absurd.

When Al Gore was not elected President, the wailing masses suggesting their voice didn't matter anymore in America were a spectacle of angst. I mocked them for sore losers and, when given the opportunity, lectured them about democracy. I am wondering who needs a lecture at this moment.

Rush, the people are the party. That we haven't established one of our own in the leadership is our own fault. I suspect we the people have lazily grown accustomed to you speaking for us, and so have failed to speak for ourselves. That is not a betrayal by the party, that is a betrayal of the party.

The Republican Party wouldn't try to marginalize conservatives any more than they would try to marginalize Floridians. The party produces candidates for office from among available candidates, and when the time comes to stop Hillary, they grow up and do so. ...
Uh-oh, I sure hope the wingnuts don't start listening to that guy...

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posted by JReid @ 4:09 PM  
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Ronald Reagan knew me!
Below: Ronald Reagan is pictured with John Mc...

Oh no, wait, that's Reagan with George Romney, Mitt's dad... let's try again here...

Oh God no, that's Reagan with Teddy Kennedy ... how'd that get in there...!?

No... that's Ronald Reagan with Bonzo, the chimp ...! definitely not John McCain ... hm... let's see what I can come up with here...

Oh, lord, that's Reagan making a silly face. Darnit all to hell, I give up! Let's just get to the post...


Poor John McCain...

He finally beats out a clear path to the Republican nomination for president (after that nasty business in 2000 over his "nigger child" ... damn you, George w. B... ahem... I mean God BLESS you George W. "war president" Bush!) and the chattering classes from his own side are shooting at him. Limbaugh hates him. Hannity won't lick his boots (hell, he licks every other Republican's, so what gives ...!) and no wing of the conservative movement will have him (except the neocons ... ooooh ... nice neocons... and that gambling junkie Bill Bennett...) The Washington Post loves him more than the Washington Times does ... his only friends in the Senate are Joe Lieberman and that drama queen, Lindsey Graham, and he had a better chance of being on John Kerry's ticket than getting a warm greeting at CPAC today. And yet, he waded into the jungle anyway.

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House has the speech Baghdad Johnnie should have given ... the crux: "I'm always right you lunatic bastards, now shut up and vote for me!"

Or perhaps he could whisper: "Psst! Wack jobs...! You don't control the Republican Party anymore!"

RealClearPolitics has John McCain's real speech. Not far into it, he launched into his Reagan allegory:
I attended my first CPAC conference as the invited guest of Ronald Reagan, not long after I had returned from overseas, when I heard him deliver his "shining city upon a hill" speech. I was still a naval officer then, but his words inspired and helped form my own political views, just as Ronald Reagan's defense of America's cause in Vietnam and his evident concern for American prisoners of war in that conflict inspired and were a great comfort to those of us who, in my friend Jerry Denton's words, had the honor of serving "our country under difficult circumstances." I am proud, very proud, to have come to public office as a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution. And if a few of my positions have raised your concern that I have forgotten my political heritage, I want to assure you that I have not, and I am as proud of that association today as I was then. My record in public office taken as a whole is the record of a mainstr eam conservative. I believe today, as I believed twenty-five years ago, in small government; fiscal discipline; low taxes; a strong defense, judges who enforce, and not make, our laws; the social values that are the true source of our strength; and, generally, the steadfast defense of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which I have defended my entire career as God-given to the born and unborn.
He then launched into a retrospective on his "core beliefs" that should give pause to any Lieberman Democrat whose thinking that he wouldn't be so bad in the White House:
Those are my beliefs, and you need not examine only my past votes and speeches to assure yourselves that they are my genuine convictions. You can take added confidence from the positions I have defended during this campaign. I campaigned in Iowa in opposition to agriculture subsidies. I campaigned in New Hampshire against big government mandated health care and for a free market solution to the problem of unavailable and unaffordable health care. I campaigned in Michigan for the tax incentives and trade policies that will create new and better jobs in that economically troubled state. I campaigned in Florida against the national catastrophic insurance fund bill that passed the House of Representatives and defended my opposition to the prescription drug benefit bill that saddled Americans with yet another hugely expensive entitlement program. I have argued to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, to reduce the corporate tax rate and abolish the AMT. I have defended my position on protecting our Second Amendment rights, including my votes against waiting periods, bans on the so-called "assault weapons," and illegitimate lawsuits targeting gun manufacturers. I have proudly defended my twenty-four year pro-life record. Throughout this campaign, I have defended the President's brave decision to increase troop levels in Iraq to execute a long overdue counterinsurgency that has spared us the terrible calamity of losing that war. I held these positions because I believed they were in the best interests of my party and country."
And then, of course, he gets to the meat of the matter:
Surely, I have held other positions that have not met with widespread agreement from conservatives. I won't pretend otherwise nor would you permit me to forget it. On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which provoked the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ground aware that my position would imperil my campaign. I respect your opposition for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law. And while I and other Republican supporters of the bill were genuine in our intention to restore control of our borders, we failed, for various and understandable reasons, to convince Americans that we were. I accept that, and have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a wa y that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.
After that, Mac got back to what he knows best (besides war, war, BEAUTIFUL WAR!!!!) ... the broad, indistinct appeal:
All I ask of any American, conservative, moderate, independent, or enlightened Democrat, is to judge my record as a whole, and accept that I am not in the habit of making promises to my country that I do not intend to keep. I hope I have proven that in my life even to my critics. Then vote for or against me based on that record, my qualifications for the office, and the direction where I plainly state I intend to lead our country.
Maybe he should have left that last bit out... the only person whose gonna wet his panties for that is Rudy Giuliani... who, by the way, appears to be stalking Senator McCain...

(Shudder) ... Creepy ...

To the reactions!

Erick from RedState says: half a loaf, but better than no loaf at all...

Maybe he should have a talk with this guy... (or the commenter on the same thread who said "I'd rather lose with Romney than win with McCain" -- sorry, won't happen... you'll just have to lose with McCain.)

The Captain is convinced, me hearties!

Michelle Malkin advises her minions to bump McCain and look down ticket (the better to stave off those swarthy hoardes!!!) Another Malkin note: she liveblogged the CPAC confab and says Dick Armey called Ann Coulter's vow to campaign for Hillary if McCain is the nominee "the dumbest thing I've ever heard." Ouch! Hit the Coulter-man right in his considerable jaw!

Here's Malkin's account of McCain's opening salvo:
3:25pm Eastern. John McCain introduced. 50/50 cheers and boos.

I’s been along while…we should do this more often.

Pardon my absence last year…I was merely preoccupied.

Maybe i should just sit down.

You were addressed by a great governor, governor romney. had a phone conversation, congratulated. we agreed to sit down together and unite the party.

To Romney camp: I congratulate you, you did a fine job, you are welcome to join my campaign.

Then quickly moves to praising Huckabee.


By the by, has anybody talked to Dick Morris lately?

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posted by JReid @ 3:47 PM  
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Is it just me...
Or do so-called "conservatives" of the Rush Limbaugh variety consistently despise people who have served in the military...? Just wondering while reading this WaPo article on Rush Limbaugh and company's jihad against John McCain... perhaps a nice tour of the Lincoln bedroom would soften El Rushbo up...?

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posted by JReid @ 11:03 PM  
Friday, February 01, 2008
Attack of the neocons
The pundits are wrong when they say that John McCain's victory in Florida proves he can win the Republican base, without the help of Independents. They're wrong, because Florida is not a bellweather of the conservative movement -- it's a state full of Republican "pieces" -- Cuban-Americans who are Republican because they believe JFK betrayed them on Castro; "redneck" Republicans who were former Dixiecrats, social conservatives who can't stop themselves from putting up successive gay marriage amendments in a state where gay marriage is already illegal, and cloth coat Republicans who run the state and wield power through corporate tax cuts and privatizations schemes a-la Jeb Bush. [Photo at left from the New Republican Party blog]

McCain won this state by consolidating the Hispanic vote -- and because this is one of the few states where his immigration stand is popular (Cubans don't have an immigration problem, thanks, ironically, to Bill Clinton). The endorsement from his immigration ally Mel Martinez, plus nods from the elected "Cuban mafia" (the Diaz Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) helped him crush Mitt Romney and Rudy in Miami-Dade.

He won by capturing the majority of moderate Republicans, some of whom may have been influenced by our super-moderate governor, Charlie Crist, who at this stage is probably more popular with Democrats than he is with members of his own party.

What McCain did not win, is the vote of a majority of conservatives, particularly social conservatives. Those, he lost to the combination of Mitt Romney (who is becoming surprisingly acceptable to SoCons, though he is a Mormon, whom they don't consider Christian...) and Mike Huckabee. And he lost "very conservative" or "movement" conservative voters, also to Romney.

When McCain is tested on Super Tuesday, it won't be so much about his appeal to conservatives, as it will be a test of whether the GOP will continue its tradition of capitulating to the front runner, as happened when McCain lost South Carolina, and then the entire primary race to George W. Bush.

Is John McCain a conservative? Sort of. He's certainly more conservative than your average Democrat. But look at the company he keeps: people like Rudy and Arnold and even Charlie Crist -- hardly conservative icons. And look at who he rejects: up until last year, he had no use for people like the late Jerry Falwell. If you think of conservatism as the ideological mantra of low taxes, deregulation and crimped spending, McCain fits the bill. But if you judge conservatism by what it has become: an amalgam of religious zealotry, pro-life activism and war fever, with a fascination for torture and a paranoia about Arabs and Mexicans thrown in for good measure, then McCain only fits into the war fever part. In other words, McCain is not a conservative, he's a neoconservative, which I define as a non-ideological political actor who cares nothing about social issues or the economy, and only about war in the Middle East, and who is only a Republican for bookkeeping purposes.

So how did he get to be the Republican front runner at a time when neoconservatism has seemed to fall out of favor with the party of Reagan? Well, what if it hasn't?

McCain made his comeback by making a deal with the Devil -- becoming fellow neocon GWB's BFF for seven years and swallowing his contempt for him, in order to garner the most important support of all: the support of the Republican establishment -- which favors neoconservatism because you make more money with war than you do stopping abortions -- and which Vin Weber helpfully pointed out this week in a great column by E. J. Dionne, is not the same as the conservative movement (last paragraph in the clip below):
If John McCain secures the Republican presidential nomination, his victory would signal a revolution in American politics — a divorce, after a 28-year marriage, between the Republican and conservative establishments.

McCain would be the first Republican nominee since Gerald Ford in 1976 to win despite opposition from organized conservatism, and also the first whose base in Republican primaries rested on the party's center and its dwindling left. McCain is winning despite conservatives, not because of them.

Those who built the American right, from Barry Goldwater in 1964 through the Reagan and Gingrich revolutions, are intensely aware of the dangers a McCain victory portends. Some on the right feel it would be less damaging to their cause to lose the 2008 election with the Republican-conservative alliance intact than to win with John McCain.

For those outside the conservative movement, such anxiety seems strange. McCain's voting record in the House and Senate has typically won high ratings from conservative groups. His positions on key issues (support for the Iraq War, opposition to abortion, his long-standing criticism of government spending) are those of an orthodox, conservative loyalist.

If McCain is the nominee, Democrats will have plenty of ammunition to persuade middle-of-the-road voters that he is not a moderate. And in Wednesday's California debate, McCain repeated his oft-declared claim that he had been a "foot soldier" in Ronald Reagan's army.

But staunch conservatives see things differently. They know that in primary after primary, McCain's base has been formed by moderates, liberals, independents, supporters of abortion rights and critics of President Bush. Conservatives — who mistrust McCain because of his history on taxes, immigration, global warming and campaign finance reform — were not his coalition's driving force. And Republicans who describe themselves as "very conservative" have consistently rejected McCain. In this week's Florida primary, such voters backed Mitt Romney over McCain by more than 2-to-1.

Vin Weber, a former member of Congress, who backed McCain in 2000 but supports Romney this year, said the confusion outside Republican ranks is not surprising. "People usually think that the conservative leadership and the Republican leadership are one and the same, but they're not," Weber said. ...
You hear that sound? It's the sound of the Republican coalition cracking... neocons and their corporate backers no longer need the social conservatives, who many of them see as kooky pain in the necks. They no longer need loudmouth media conservatives like Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, who let's face it, are embarrassing. They are betting on being able to put another war president into the White House with the help of moderate Republicans who are hawks on the GWOT and Iraq, conservative Democrats (read Democrats who have a paranoid fear of Muslims and think water boarding isn't such a bad idea), and hawkish Independents who sill think America likes Joe Lieberman.

The neocons, having wrecked the Republican Party, are forming a new coalition, bankrolled by the defense industry (Eisenhower's "military industrial complex.") Having lost Rudy to the ages, they now see John McCain as the man who can help them hold onto the White House.

The question is, will movement conservatives, who agree with neocons on the war but hate McCain, stop him?

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posted by JReid @ 2:57 PM  
The Coulter-man for Hillary
You've got to get a load of this exchange on Fox Noise between Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and that other guy who sits next to Sean and shines his shoes. Check it out:
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And Senator John McCain is gaining momentum, but not all conservatives are jumping for joy. Senator McCain is a polarizing candidate for many. And critics point to his stance on immigration, his work with Russ Feingold. But with a potential Hillary Clinton candidacy on the Democratic side of the aisle, will true conservatives eventually fall in line and support the Arizona senator?

Joining us now, author of the "New York Times" best seller, "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd be Republicans," our friend Ann Coulter. How are you?


HANNITY: I'm standing on substance here.


HANNITY: It's immigration. It's limits on free speech. It's not supporting tax cuts.

COULTER: It's Anwar. It's torture at Guantanamo.

HANNITY: Class warfare rhetoric. It's interrogations. It's Guantanamo. It's Anwar. These are not small issues to conservatives.

COULTER: No, and if you're looking at substance rather than whether it's an R or D after his name, manifestly, if our's candidate than Hillary's going to be our girl, Sean, because she's more conservative than he is. I think she would be stronger on the war on terrorism. I absolutely believe that.

HANNITY: That's the one area I disagree with you.

COULTER: No, yes, we're going to sign up together. Let me explain that point on terrorism.

HANNITY: You'd vote for Hillary —

COULTER: I will campaign for her if it's McCain.

HANNITY: If Hillary is watching tonight, you just got an endorsement —

COLMES: I just heard the word no.

COULTER: I was touched when she cried. That part isn't true. But the rest of it is true. He has led the fight against — well, as you say, interrogations. I say torture at Guantanamo. She hasn't done that. She hasn't taken a position in front.

HANNITY: Without interrupting you, let me give you one distinction — that's what liberals do to you. Let me give you one distinction, he did support the war —

COULTER: So did Hillary.

HANNITY: But he stayed with it. He supported the surge. I didn't like his criticisms of Rumsfeld, but he was right —

COULTER: OK, let's get to him supporting the surge. He keeps going on and on about how he was the only Republican who supported the surge and other Republicans attacked him. It was so awful how he was attacked. It was worse than being held in a tiger cage.

I looked up the record. Republicans all supported the surge. He's not only not the only one who supported the surge, I promise you no Republican attacked him for this. And you know why he's saying that, Sean, because he keeps saying it at every debate, I'm the only one. I was attacked by Republicans. He's confusing Republicans with his liberal friends. They're the ones who attacked him for it, his real friends.

HANNITY: Hillary Clinton, if she gets her way, will nationalize health care. She's going to pull the troops out of Iraq.

COULTER: I don't think she will.

HANNITY: That's what she's saying she's going to do. She says in a hundred days she's immediately going to begin to pull out.


COULTER: She's running in a Democratic primary. He's running in the Republican primary, and their positions are about that far apart. When George Bush said at the State of the Union Address that the surge is working in Iraq, Obama sat on his hands, Kennedy sat on his hands, Hillary leapt up and applauded that we are winning in the surge and that the surge is working in Iraq.

She gave much better answers in those debates when Democrats like Obama and Biden were saying what do we do? What do we do if three cities are attacked. She said, I will find who did it and I will go after them.

HANNITY: You want to sit back.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Can I just say something — Ann -


COULTER: Hillary is absolutely more conservative.

COLMES: My work is done. My work is done.

COULTER: Moreover, she lies less than John McCain. I'm a Hillary girl now. She lies less than John McCain. She's smarter than John McCain, so that when she's caught shamelessly lying, at least the Clintons know they've been caught lying. McCain is so stupid, he doesn't even know he's been caught.

COLMES: Go. In fact, could you fill in for me next week? Let me get this straight, would you vote for Hillary Clinton?


COLMES: You would actually go in a voting booth —

COULTER: If it's close and the candidate is John McCain, because John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism, which he definitely is. He is bad for —


COLMES: Can I tell you the last thing that Hillary Clinton wants? Ann Coulter's endorsement.

COULTER: Even now he's running as a Republican, he won't give up on amnesty. At that debate the other not —


COULTER: I'm serious. ...
Now I'm not one to listen to Ann Coulter. He is, after all, a very, very bad man. But ... Coulter's sentiment is an indication of something serious going on within what's rather laughably called the conservative movement. "Movement" conservatives are being set aside by moderate Republican voters -- excised, as it were, whether it's the neocons or the social conservatives or the Dittoheads. They are being pushed aside by pragmatic, moderate Republicans who want to win the White House more than they want to overturn Roe v. Wade or torture some "Ay-rabs" for sport.

The pragmatists like John McCain. The wingers absolutely hate him (and his friend Huckabee, too...)

What's a GOPer to do?

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posted by JReid @ 2:45 PM  
Monday, October 01, 2007
Come the backlash
Christian conservatives led by Reagan pal and movement conservative forefather Richard Viguerie may lead a walk-out on the GOP if Rudy is the nominee. Read on.
More than 40 Christian conservatives attended a meeting Saturday in Salt Lake City to discuss the possibility, and planned more gatherings on how they should move forward, according to Richard A. Viguerie, the direct-mail expert and longtime conservative activist.

Other participants in the meeting included James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family evangelical ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo., and, according to Viguerie, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy group in Washington.

However, Dobson spoke out against the idea of a third party even if "both Democratic and Republican nominees are known to be entirely unsupportive of the sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage and other aspects of the pro-moral agenda," according to Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus on the Family Action.

A spokesman for Perkins did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Viguerie would not give specifics of the proposal or reveal additional names of participants, but said President Bush "would not have been elected in '04 without the people in that room."

"There is such a jaundiced feelings about any promises or commitments from any Republican leaders," he said in a phone interview. "You could almost cut the anger and the frustration with a knife in that room it's so strong. Because they don't know what else to do, they're talking third party."
Viguerie was on Ed Schultz's show today exlaining that conservatives, religous and fiscal, are fed up with the broken promises of the GOP that if a candidate like Rudy Giuliani is nominated, it will be "the end of the Republican Party." Viguerie is author of "Conservatives Betrayed," and yknow what? He's not feeling Fred Thompson either, calling him an actor playing the part of a conservative on TV.

More on what was said at that conference:
"Giuliani is beyond the pale, it's just not going to happen," he said.

"There's no way conservative leaders are going to support a pro-abortion candidate."

Mr Viguerie says if the conservative Christians decide to support a third party bid, it will not be a one-off occurrence.

"It will be that we have determined that the Republican Party is beyond salvation, they have lied and betrayed the conservative voters one time too many, and that this will be a major effort that will go far beyond the '08 election," he said.

Tony Perkins is another powerful conservative leader from the Family Research Council. He too was at the weekend meeting and says social conservatism is important for the Republican candidate.

"To the degree that the party moves away from those principal issues, social conservatives, evangelicals will move away from the party," he said.

"These are black and white issues. These are issues that there's just no room for negotiation [on]."

But Mr Giuliani's trump card is that he has the best chance of beating the front-running Democrat.

"Every poll shows that I would be by far the strongest candidate against Hillary Clinton," he said.

Jerry Mayer, a professor of politics at George Mason University in Washington, says the conservative Christians' plan threatens to split the Republican vote.

"You nominate a pro-choice Republican as liberal on gay issues, as liberal on sexuality as Giuliani is, I'm telling you some right-wing Republican maverick, like Alan Keyes or some other minor figure, will run as a third party candidate, will run as a pro-life candidate of the party of God, and that will hurt," he said.

"Indeed, it will make it impossible for the Republicans to win."

The revolt by Christian leaders could be a damaging blow to Mr Giuliani's campaign, because white evangelical Protestants make up a large share of Republican voters.
Your mouths to God's ear.

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posted by JReid @ 9:59 PM  
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Doubts about Mukasey
From George Will and Prince of Darkness Bob Novak...

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posted by JReid @ 9:55 AM  
Friday, June 01, 2007
Peggy Noonan goes AWOL
It appears it's bye-bye, Bushie for Reagan's former speachwriter and biggest fan:
What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker--"At this point the break became final." That's not what's happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the "Too bad" governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.

I suspect the White House and its allies have turned to name calling because they're defensive, and they're defensive because they know they have produced a big and indecipherable mess of a bill--one that is literally bigger than the Bible, though as someone noted last week, at least we actually had a few years to read the Bible. The White House and its supporters seem to be marshalling not facts but only sentiments, and self-aggrandizing ones at that. They make a call to emotions--this is, always and on every issue, the administration's default position--but not, I think, to seriously influence the debate.

They are trying to lay down markers for history. Having lost the support of most of the country, they are looking to another horizon. The story they would like written in the future is this: Faced with the gathering forces of ethnocentric darkness, a hardy and heroic crew stood firm and held high a candle in the wind. It will make a good chapter. Would that it were true!

If they'd really wanted to help, as opposed to braying about their own wonderfulness, they would have created not one big bill but a series of smaller bills, each of which would do one big clear thing, the first being to close the border. Once that was done--actually and believably done--the country could relax in the knowledge that the situation was finally not day by day getting worse. They could feel some confidence. And in that confidence real progress could begin.

The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.
Ouch. Call in the divorce lawyers.

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posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
Sunday, April 01, 2007
A fascinating flashback
Republicans who are down in the dumps about their president, who appears to have drifted as far from what they thought he was (a second Reagan) as he possibly could, should think back to what their kind actually felt about Reagan at about this same point in his presidency. Just stumbled on this fascinating article from TIME Magazine, dateline September 14, 1987 -- just about a year before the 1988 election:

No Right-On for Reagan
Monday, Sep. 14, 1987

If anyone can mollify hard-line conservatives, it should be their idol, Ronald Reagan. That is what Chief of Staff Howard Baker thought when a handful of right-wingers who had been invited to the White House began leveling accusations that the Administration was selling out the contras in Nicaragua. Baker had arranged for the President to drop by and explain in person that his tentative backing for a Central American peace plan implied no lessening of U.S. support for the Nicaraguan rebels. But this time his remarks were greeted only with cold silence; visibly irritated, Reagan shrugged and walked away. Said Burton Pines, vice president of the Heritage Foundation and one of the visitors: "People who have been around the President say that was probably the most chilling reception he had ever had from his supporters."

It was certainly not the first time Reagan had disappointed his bedrock constituency. Throughout his presidency, staunch conservatives have sporadically complained that Reagan in action has never matched the ideological oratory that so thrills them on the stump. But as the silent tableau in the Roosevelt Room indicated, their dissatisfaction is plumbing new depths, which could make trouble not only for Reagan but also for the Republican aspirants to succeed him.

In the past, some of the conservatives' loudest complaints have focused on Reagan's failure to push hard on such social issues as abortion and school prayer. The President's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court has stilled some, but not all, of the gripes about domestic policy; conservatives now grumble that Reagan is abandoning his "economic bill of rights" and promoting a leftish, catastrophic health-insurance scheme. But, says Paul Weyrich, head of the conservative group called the Free Congress Foundation, "the real feelings are on foreign policy issues." [Emphasis added]

To moderates, Reagan's tentative endorsement of the peace plan signed in August by five Central American Presidents may have seemed grudging and tepid. But to the right it sounded like the crack of doom for any effort to save Nicaragua from Communism. Some conservatives are also aghast at what they view as the Administration's headlong rush into a missile treaty with the Soviets, and in particular by its retreat from strict verification demands. Says Patrick Buchanan, once Reagan's communications director: "We are better off with 574 missiles that can land on the Soviet Union than we are with a damn treaty."

The right still cannot bring itself to criticize Reagan directly. Conservatives will not accept the thought that the President, running for his place in the history books, is no longer absolutely wedded to their ideological agenda. Instead, they complain that the Administration more than ever is filled with mushy compromisers who will not let Reagan be Reagan. There is also suspicion about creeping "Nancyism," the First Lady's supposed efforts to have her husband become known as a peacemaker. ...

... The deepest reason for the ultra-conservatives' dismay may be a fear that time is running out. With only 17 months of his term remaining, Reagan in their eyes has yet to effect any permanent change in the nation's direction; Weyrich expresses a worry that "almost everything that President Reagan has accomplished can be swiftly undone by a single session of a heavily Democratic Congress." Even if a Republican successor is elected, the hard right cannot be sure that he will be able, or for that matter want, to carry the so-called Reagan Revolution to fruition. Its hero, Congressman Jack Kemp, ran fourth among Republicans in the latest Yankelovich poll for TIME. The leaders, Vice President George Bush and Senator Robert Dole, have never won the full trust of movement conservatives. ...
Sure explodes the myth of the Reagan of right wing hero worship, including in a much more recent edition of TIME, doesn't it? Reagan actually was a disappointment in many ways to conservatives (he also was a former Democrat... and a Hollywood guy...) so one wonders where all the Reagan nostalgia comes from... So in the recent, "Reagan Wept" edition of TIME, Karen Tumulty writes:

...everything that Reagan said in 1985 about "the other side" could easily apply to the conservatives of 2007. They are handcuffed to a political party that looks unsettlingly like the Democrats did in the 1980s, one that is more a collection of interest groups than ideas, recognizable more by its campaign tactics than its philosophy. The principles that propelled the movement have either run their course, or run aground, or been abandoned by Reagan's legatees. Government is not only bigger and more expensive than it was when George W. Bush took office, but its reach is also longer, thanks to the broad new powers it has claimed as necessary to protect the homeland. It's true that Reagan didn't live up to everything he promised: he campaigned on smaller government, fiscal discipline and religious values, while his presidency brought us a larger government and a soaring deficit. But Bush's apostasies are more extravagant by just about any measure you pick.

Set adrift as it is, the right understandably feels anxious as it contemplates who will carry Reagan's mantle into November 2008. "We're in the political equivalent of a world without the law of gravity," says Republican strategist Ralph Reed. "Nothing we have known in the past seems relevant." At the top of the Republican field in the latest TIME poll is the pro-choice, pro-gay-rights former mayor of liberal New York City. Giuliani's lead is as much as 19 points over onetime front runner McCain. But neither Republican manages better than a statistical tie in a hypothetical matchup against the two leading Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

And meanwhile, the conservative movement has not only lost its moorings in Washington, it appears to be losing the public, too.

What a difference a generation makes.

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posted by JReid @ 12:17 PM  
Saturday, January 13, 2007
The reckoning
Yet another conservative confronts the hard truth about Iraq, about his principles, and about President Bush, courtesy of Glen Greehwald:
Rod Dreher is as conservative as it gets -- a contributor to National Review and the Corner, a current columnist for The Dallas Morning News, a self-described "practicing Christian and political conservative."

Today, Dreher has an extraordinary (oral) essay at NPR in which he recounts how the conduct of President Bush (for whom he voted twice) in the Iraq War (which he supported) is causing him to question, really to abandon, the core political beliefs he has held since childhood. ...
As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.

But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.

In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.

It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.

I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.

I did not expect Vietnam.

As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.

I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?

Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home.
Welcome to the world the neocons have made.

Meanwhile, on 60 Minutes tomorrow, Bush is expected to say that no matter what Congress says or does, no matter how many Americans, including conservatives like Dreher, abandon him, his surge will go forward. Damn the torpedoes, and the loss of life that's to come. Meanwhile, those who will truly pay the price for Mr. Bush's stupidity and obstinance, prepare for Dubya's last stand in Baghdad.

And when it comes to choosing a top general to run his end of the war, Mr. Maliki goes his own way ...

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posted by JReid @ 9:40 PM  
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