Archive for December, 2011
December 29th, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Can Santorum Continue Into NH and SC?

In one of a spate of stories today about Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa, Byron York notes in print the same potential drawback I’ve been hearing from all across the conservative spectrum:

A number of commentators have observed that even if Santorum flies high in Iowa, he faces trouble ahead.  That is true.  In the RealClearPolitics average of polls in New Hampshire, Santorum is in sixth place, with 3.8 percent of voters.  In the same average of polls in South Carolina, he is in seventh place, with 2.7 percent.  So yes, a Santorum surge could be short-lived.  But his answer would likely be: First things first; do well in Iowa and see what happens then.

The answer to that is that Santorum actually has done a lot of the same, or at least very similar, nuts-and-bolts organizing work in those next two states as he did in Iowa. In South Carolina, for example, where well-liked conservative former U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett is Santorum’s state chair, Santorum has county organizations in 42 of the 46 counties — by far the most of any candidate (according to the Santorum campaign), with Gingrich reportedly in second with 33 counties organized. And in NH, according to the Santorum campaign, the Pennsylvanian has more “endorsements” than any candidate other than Romney.

If this campaign has shown anything thus far, it is that the electorate is very volatile and that support for a single candidate can double, triple, quadruple, even quintuple in the matter of just a few weeks. It happened for Cain, Bachmann, Perry, and Gingrich. Is there any doubt that if Santorum does really well in Iowa, his “flavor of the month” status could quickly boost him elsewhere?

Finally, as I was writing this, Fox News just reported that Rasmussen is out with a new poll that confirms the CNN poll: Santorum in third, with 16 percent….

December 28th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
Is the Colorado Model Coming to Your State?

Ever heard of the Colorado Model?  The brainchild of four rich liberals, it helped turn a reliably Republican state into a lock-down Democratic state in less than a decade.  RedState excerpts the keys to its success:

Eric O’Keefe, chairman of the conservative Sam Adams Alliance in Chicago, says there are seven “capacities” that are required to drive a successful political strategy and keep it on offense: [1] the capacity to generate intellectual ammunition, [2] to pursue investigations, [3] to mobilize for elections, [4] to fight media bias, [5] to pursue strategic litigation, [6] to train new leaders, and [7] to sustain a presence in the new media. Colorado liberals have now created institutions that possess all seven capacities. By working together, they generate political noise and attract press coverage. Explains Caldara, “Build an echo chamber and the media laps it up.”

Throw in some Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing and the wealth of liberal elites, and you’ve got a strategy being exported to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, among others.

The good news is that conservatives and Tea Partiers can use these principles to swing the balance of power the other way.  The time is now.

December 28th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
Romney Win in Iowa Would Be a Surprise Too

At CFIF, we’ve spent some time arguing that Rick Santorum could produce a surprise win in next week’s Iowa caucuses.  Ron Paul continues to top the leader board in the Hawkeye State, rising to a level of support that most consider surprising.  But with news that a Super PAC is switching its support from Michele Bachmann to Mitt Romney, and spending almost $500,000 on an ad-buy for him, it looks increasingly likely that the former Massachusetts governor could be the biggest surprise winner in Iowa.  Why?  Because his campaign took a decidedly hands-off approach to Iowa for much of 2011, preferring to focus its efforts – and locate its headquarters – in New Hampshire.  Now, Romney is peaking at just the right moment.

It’s probably true that there are really three GOP contests in Iowa right now.  Ron Paul’s libertarian caucus, the establishment caucus between Newt Gingrich and Romney, and the conservative caucus between Santorum, Bachmann, and Rick Perry.  Unless Paul wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s likely done after next week’s voting.  (But what if he did win both?)  A Romney win in Iowa probably knocks out Gingrich, with whomever survives to win the conservative caucus having an uphill climb against a strengthened Romney.

Because of his record and light campaigning in the state, Romney wasn’t supposed to win Iowa.  If he does, his march to the nomination may be a short one.

December 28th, 2011 at 12:14 pm
More Good News for Santorum

Rich Lowry has an excellent column today about the real possibility of Santorum finally catching fire. And Lowry picks up on a too-little-noticed thematic element, in which Santorum ties together his social issues with his economic positions:

[H]e’s not a thoughtless culture warrior, in it for the bombast. Santorum links his social conservatism to the struggles of the working class in one of the few thematic departures in a Republican primary that has been more about personalities and past heterodoxies than substantive differences.

And Public Policy Polling finds that while Santorum hasn’t rocketed to the front yet, he is in the best position to catch fire late:

Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum continue to all be clustered right around 10%. Santorum actually has the best favorability numbers of any of the candidates at +27 (56/29). He’s also the most frequent second choice of voters at 14%.  Whether he can translate any of this into a top 3 finish remains to be seen, but he’s someone who would seem to have the potential to grow his support in the final week…. And given all the strange twists and turns to this point don’t be surprised to see yet another surprise in the final week…and based on the innards of this poll the person best positioned to provide that surprise in the closing stretch is Santorum.

These last six days will be most interesting.

December 27th, 2011 at 4:20 pm
Santorum Surge Chic

Now the stories about a potential Santorum Surge in Iowa are coming more and more rapidly, with Stacy McCain at the American Spectator (who has been tracking and praising Santorum for weeks) reporting in today, as does John McCormack at The Weekly Standard. This comes after both Dick Morris and Mike Huckabee (along with Cokie Roberts from the center-left) said that Santorum is the one to watch.

It reminds me of our discussion several weeks ago (meaning me, Ashton, and Troy) in which I said just this sort of thing could happen: “[I]n all his winning races, Santorum closed fast right at the end. He’s trying to do the same thing here, without much campaign cash but with plenty of hard work. It may look like a long shot, but only a fool would completely write off his chances.”

Will his surge be big enough or soon enough? We’ll see a week from now. But he, not Rick Perry, may be the Rick to watch, with a real chance to win, as the nomination fight moves forward after Iowa.

December 27th, 2011 at 11:51 am
The Full Mandate: Gingrich Not Just for a “Bond”

If anybody actually cares about integrity and freedom, this latest news should be big trouble for Newt Gingrich. Somebody (I need to find out who) dug up this old memo from Gingrich praising Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan in fulsome terms, and especially praising its individual mandate to buy health insurance:

The individual mandate requires those who earn enough to afford insurance to purchase coverage, and subsidies will be made available to those individuals who cannot afford insurance on their own. We agree strongly with this principle, but the details are crucial when it comes to the structure of this plan. … In our estimation, Massachusetts residents earning little more than $30,000 a year are in jeopardy of being priced out of the system. In the event that this occurs, Governor Romney will be in grave danger of repeating the mistakes of his predecessor, Mike Dukakis, whose 1988 health plan was hailed as a save-all but eventually collapsed when poorly-devised payment structures created a malaise of unfulfilled promises. We propose that a more realistic approach might be to limit the mandate to those individuals earning upwards of $54,000 per year.

On one hand, this isn’t the most astonishing news: Gingrich has been quoted for 17 years in favor of some sort of individual mandate, and this 2006 citation isn’t even the most recent one. On the other hand, Gingrich has insisted that his proposal was something a little different — some sort of “bond” that rich people would put up — and, also, that he really started moving away from even that “bond” mandate after a while because, really, the reason he was for a mandate was in order to have a conservative alternative to Hillarycare in 1994. At other times he has tried hard to play down or soften the edges of his support for a mandate. But this is unequivocal, and it is within the past six years, and it shows not a single hesitation about undermining individual liberty. Indeed, Gingrich’s only complaint is a class-warfare-inducing lament: Romney stuck the mandate on lower-middle-income earners, whereas Gingrich only would apply it to middle-middle-income earners. Gee, what a relief! (Not!)

Even worse, Gingrich is to the left of Romney on Romney’s own health plan. Romney at worst has only tentatively recommended Romneycare as a whole as a model for the nation; and this year, he has become like a broken record saying he would never impose a mandate via the federal government, and that Romneycare was an example of state-level federalism in action, unique to the circumstances of Massachusetts. Gingrich, on the other hand, wrote this: “The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts. The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system.” Those lines led directly into his discussion of the mandate, which Gingrich described as an example of requiring “personal responsibility.”

All of which leads back to what I said in my May 17 column here on this site, namely that Gingrich and Romney both flunk conservative political philosophy. I repeat now what I wrote then: “[T]he issue here isn’t utility, but liberty. Mussolini ‘made the trains run on time,’ but that should never have justified his authoritarianism. Essential liberty must never be sacrificed on some central planner’s altar of efficiency.”

Or, for that matter, on some former Speaker’s warped notion of what does and doesn’t qualify as “personal responsibility.”

UPDATE: The discoverer of this memo was BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski.

December 26th, 2011 at 8:06 pm
Fascinating Backgrounder on Mitt Romney

Next Tuesday Iowans will begin the process of nominating a Republican challenger to President Barack Obama.  Since just about everyone thinks Mitt Romney will be that man or at least the runner-up, it’s worth reading a revealing New York Times article describing how Romney’s time as a Harvard law and business student made him into a pragmatic problem solver.

If you’re pressed for time (and with the holiday season here, I hope you are), Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin provides a good summary on what the NYT report tells about Romney’s current place in the Republican field:

What his classmates saw at Harvard are the same qualities that both attract and repel voters today. His economic expertise and pragmatism make him the most electable Republican in 2012, while his lack of ideology makes many conservatives long for anyone else to lead their party. Had a more credible conservative appeared to challenge him, Romney wouldn’t have had a chance. But in the absence of such a paragon, Republicans will probably have to make their peace with the man who seems to be very much the same person who excelled at Harvard four decades ago.

December 26th, 2011 at 1:42 pm
Draft Jindal Move May Have Legs

Rich Lowry reports at The Corner a more specific (“prominent officeholder”) bit of news about efforts from big-name conservatives to draft Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal into the presidential race, along the lines of my cryptic blog entry here a couple of weeks ago on the same subject. But there are complications. Lowry gets to the nub of the matter here:

One big problem: Jindal is with Perry–literally. Not only has he endorsed him, he’s been campaigning with him. For a Jindal scenario to work, Perry would have to collapse and Jindal turn around and immediately express interest in rising from his friend’s ashes.

Here, though, is how I would read this: Perry is in trouble. It’s not that Jindal would ever jump in without Perry getting out; it’s that prominent conservative movers and shakers clearly have given up on Perry’s campaign. Think of it this way: If Perry were thought to still be a seriously viable candidate, nobody would be talking about recruiting his most prominent and popular endorser. Perry, therefore, is seen by serious people as failing to be viable, long-term.

(Disclosure:  I have had similar discussions with some of these same conservative leaders, and have said I think Jindal would be a great choice for the circumstances, if no real conservative breaks through in Iowa; i.e., for what it’s worth, I have encouraged them privately just as I have written about the idea publicly. None of which is to be taken by way of an endorsement — which isn’t my job — but it is to acknowledge participation of sorts in some of the same discussions I am now, third-hand, reporting that Lowry is reporting on.)

If this word gets out, Perry votes in Iowa might siphon off to Santorum (or Bachmann), because a weak Perry performance in Iowa would be seen by voters eager for another choice as making it more likely for Perry to withdraw and Jindal to enter the race. For those voters who like Santorum, of course, then if he already is “on the move” in Iowa (a move that began to be noticed weeks ago), then this report would further tend to encourage them that one of the other conservative opponents may be fading.

All sorts of permutations suggest themselves. It’s certainly fascinating to watch.

December 23rd, 2011 at 2:20 pm
The Moral Case Against Obama’s Policies

Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal draws attention to the central  failure of Republicans losing ground against a Barack Obama quietly gaining in popularity:

One mistake the party is making is fighting this race like the 2010 midterms. A certain laziness has settled in, based on the notion that the GOP can make 2012 another referendum on the president’s mismanagement. But while Obama-bashing may again fire up the conservative base, it delivers nothing to those crucial independent and middle-of-the-road voters who are anxious, confused and looking for someone to convince them they have a better plan.

Strassel goes on to explain how focus groups in battleground states are showing a consistent pattern in swing voters.  They want Republicans to make a moral case against the President and his policies.  They assume both parties will overspend.  What they want is a coherent explanation of why Obama’s policies are wrong for the country and wrong for them.  In short, what Americans want are concrete arguments explaining why Obama’s liberalism is so bad for the country, followed by an alternative vision that flows in the mainstream of American political thought and experience.

More Strassel:

Consider that ObamaCare was a concern of the focus group, though it had notably receded. This is in part because, while the GOP often complains about the law and its individual mandate, it has largely stopped explaining to voters what else is in it, or how other upcoming provisions will hurt consumers, or exactly how they grow government.

Presidential aspirants and congressional Republicans, take note: To make a moral argument against the president, you also have to make one for yourselves. To the extent the GOP is lobbing the usual Obama complaints or going to the mat over who cares more about a piddling payroll tax holiday, it is wasting time.

In a nutshell, the GOP’s messaging failure explains Paul Ryan’s success.  Almost alone among major Republican leaders, Ryan is defining the problems we face with confidence-building detail, offering thoughtful, consensus-based solutions, and justifying them in light of our history and tradition.  This is the work of a statesman.  The sooner Republicans take the hint and follow suit, the sooner America will remember the moral case for prosperity.

December 22nd, 2011 at 6:15 pm
Taxpayers Footing the Bill to Create Pakistani Version of “Sesame Street,” Video Game Based on Michelle Obama’s Garden
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You’ve really got to hand it to Senator Tom Coburn. In a job where the only real responsibility is to raise your hand from time to time, the junior senator from Oklahoma has taken it upon himself to use the full powers of his office to fight for a smaller, less wasteful government. One of the mechanisms he employs in waging this battle is his annual “Wastebook Report,” chronicling the most outrageous excesses in federal spending over the past year. The 2011 version is now out and well worth a read (assuming you have blood pressure medication nearby). Here are just a few samples from Coburn’s collection of 100 outrages:

  • $35 million of taxpayer money to pay for both major parties’ political conventions
  • Around $500,000 to purchase equity in a Washington D.C. IHOP
  • $120 million in benefits for federal employees who were ineligible — because they were dead
  • Over $100,000 to preserve vintage video games
  • $18 million in foreign aid … to China, our banker
  • $100,000 for a celebrity chef road show in Indonesia
  • $10 million to help develop a Pakistani version of “Sesame Street”
  • Approximately $1 billion in falsely-claimed tax credits for household energy efficiency
  • Nearly $1 million for an online soap opera about single mothers (starring Billy Dee Williams, no less)
  • Over $175,000 to fund a study on the connection between cocaine use and risky sexual behavior … in quail
  • Half a million dollars for research on the trustworthiness of tweets
  • $4.4 billion in wartime contracting fraud
  • Over $200,000 for an online organic farming video game based on Michelle Obama’s White House vegetable garden.
  • $600,000 for research on why chimps throw their own feces.

With this report, Tom Coburn is earning his taxypayer-funded salary. He may be the only one.

December 22nd, 2011 at 12:32 pm
We Can’t Afford a Payroll Tax Cut Extension

Quin makes some excellent points about the PR disaster that is the payroll tax cut extension debacle.  In addition, the spin on the debate is missing two important angles: (1) the Senate GOP’s apparent backstabbing of House Speaker Boehner, and (2) the fact that a trivial 60 day pay raise (the most any taxpayer will save is $40 per paycheck) won’t make a difference in anybody’s bottom line.  If the payroll tax “holiday” is extended, however, it will take another misguided step toward eliminating the tax permanently.  Recently, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer explained why that’s bad (requires WSJ subscription):

Make no mistake, if the payroll-tax cut is extended, it will become permanent. Social Security will become another welfare program as the tie between what someone pays and what they receive gets broken. To a large degree, the tie has already been broken. Social Security’s trust fund has been raided for years by both parties and Medicare is already significantly financed through general revenues instead of through its dedicated trust fund.

Instead of squabbling over how to extend the payroll tax break, the GOP should concentrate on revising the tax code so it promotes growth and jobs, while reforming our entitlements.

Quin’s right.  Republicans need to use the payroll tax cut debate to educate the American public.  Phony nickel-and-dime policies like a 60 day, $40 tax cut are not solutions to Washington’s deficit addiction.  Neither, frankly, is a year-long tax holiday that moves Social Security from an under-funded to an unfunded mandate.

Since the Senate went home and President Barack Obama is in Hawaii on vacation, it looks like a great opportunity for Boehner to call a primetime press conference to explain why good policy is good politics.

December 21st, 2011 at 6:07 pm
I’m With Boehner

Am I the only one in the non-congressional conservative universe who thinks John Boehner and the House are doing the right thing and should stand firm, with regard to the payroll tax cut holiday? The Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove, and all sorts of other worthies are all saying that Republicans have totally lost the politics on this issue and that they should acquiesce to the Democrats’ two-month extension.

I say their prescriptions are wrong, and that Boehner and company should stick to their guns. First of all, there are times when principle should be more important than politics. In this case, somebody needs to act the role of the adult and insist that doing what is technically a complete recipe for disaster is just a total non-starter. There are ways to turn the politics around. Boehner could call a prime-time press conference and say aloud that he KNOWS everybody says this is a political loser, but that he MUST do what’s right, specifically because of the procedural problems for small businesses in implementing a mere two-month tax cut AND because he, unlike the Dems, thinks that the tax cut should be for a full year. AND, for that matter, that it ought to be fully paid for. Furthermore, he could add, he could pledge right now that if the Democrats — the Dems, the Dems, the Dems, not the Republicans — fail to extend the tax cut, then Republicans pledge to make it up to voters when the Dems finally come to their senses. In other words, he can say that the tax cut, whenever it is finally passed, will be made retroactive to cover any time lost due to the Dems’ rank political gamesmanship. It is far easier for the government to retroactively provide a tax cut of this sort (it has been done a number of times in recent years) than it is for millions upon millions of small businesses to set up a payroll-withholding system for just two months, which is what the Democrats propose.

(As for me, I think this is the stupidest tax cut in my adult lifetime — and I’m a 33-year Reagan-Kemp-Laffer supply-side tax cutter — and I think it would be better to work for permanent tax relief on another front rather than temporary relief that drains Social Security. But if there IS to be this tax cut, which seems politically to be almost mandatory now, then it is absolutely idiotic to do it the way the Democrats have done it. Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP REALLY REALLY screwed up by agreeing to this monstrosity. It is they, not Boehner and company, who screwed up both the policy AND the politics on this.)

The reality is that the Republican position of a year-long tax cut should be a political winner over the Dems’ two-month cut. There are ways to turn around the politics. They are ways that must be attempted, because the two-month cut is flat-out irresponsible. The Wall Street Journal, of all outfits, should understand this and point this out, rather than blasting the House GOP for a political problem definitely not of their own making. Responsible people should applaud rare acts of political courage for the purpose of responsible law-making. Boehner and company deserve praise and support, not sniping.

December 21st, 2011 at 5:50 pm
Michelle Obama’s Food Nannying Leading to Black Markets in Public Schools
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Conservatives (myself included) have had a lot of fun over the past few years taking shots at First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to get Americans — particularly schoolchildren — to eat healthier food. Usually, however, the criticism is at a fairly abstract level, focusing on the administration’s seemingly endless appetite for nanny-state interventions. But as Michelle Malkin notes, the First Lady’s impact goes well beyond giving hectoring speeches … and the results aren’t pretty:

According to a weekend report by the Los Angeles Times, the city’s “trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop.” In response to the public hectoring and financial inducement of Mrs. Obama’s federally subsidized anti-obesity campaign, the district dropped chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and flavored milk from the menu for “beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads.”

Sounds delectable in theory. But in practice, the initiative has been what L.A. Unified’s food-services director Dennis Barrett plainly concludes is a “disaster.” While the Obama administration has showered the nation’s second-largest school district with nutrition awards, thousands of students voted with their upset tummies and abandoned the program. A forbidden-food black market — stoked not just by students, but also by teachers — is now thriving. Moreover, “principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away.”

The story goes on to report that L.A. Unified produces a staggering 21,000 uneaten meals every day, partially because the healthy fare is so unpalatable; this while the woman spearheading this initiative is choking down 1,700 calories a sitting in her down time.

Of course, fairness compels us to admit that the First Lady’s diet habits are none of our business. But we’re not planning on butting out of her life until she returns the favor.

December 21st, 2011 at 5:13 pm
Re Ashton, on Holder…. and the Count is up to 90… er, 91!!

When I wrote my column on Eric Holder this week, I meant to make reference to Ashton’s column and subsequent blog post on the same subject, but went off on a tangent and never did. But I agree entirely with his points, and with those of Troy, who it seems was reacting to Eric Holder playing the race card at almost exactly the same time, and in much the same way, as I was. I particularly appreciate Troy reminding us (I forgot to include it) of the time Holder referred to “my people” (meaning, of course, only black people) when responding to criticism of his handling of the Black Panther case — yet another example of hideously race-centric thinking.

The good news on this front is that the count of congressmen expressing “no confidence” in Holder — in effect, although not explicitly, a demand for his resignation or ouster — is now 91. This is getting close to reaching semi-critical mass.

The question is, where the bleep are the other 15 or so GOP House members? Where are all the GOP senators? For that matter, how about any self-respecting, country-first, moderate or even liberal Democrats who care more about doing the right thing than for playing politics? Where is the courage? When will they get a clue? The lawlessness and incompetence at Justice — especially, but certainly not anywhere entirely, evident in the Fast and Furious scandal — is an utter travesty, and justice and propriety compel Holder’s dismissal and a thorough cleaning of his Augean Stables. This is a subject the public will understand, and one on which they are sure to side against the Holderite contingent of racialist bumblers. Then again, waiting for many GOP senators to get a clue is probably more pointless even than waiting for Godot.

December 21st, 2011 at 9:36 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama Plan
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

December 20th, 2011 at 8:49 pm
Thomas Sowell Endorses Newt Gingrich
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Newt Gingrich has had a rough time of it the past week or so. The press is all over him for his hard-line stance on the federal judiciary (including abolishing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals), his poll numbers are slipping, and some of the brightest lights in the conservative commentariat (including Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, and George Will) have been taking him out to the rhetorical woodshed.

Newt’s due a little holiday cheer then, and it comes in the form of Thomas Sowell’s new column, which essentially provides an endorsement from one of conservatism’s leading intellectuals. Sowell begins with the premise I expressed in an October column. I wrote at the time:

It represents a healthy political idealism for Republicans to search for the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But it’s a bit tiresome when they become inconsolable at his absence. Reagan was of a class alone, not only in his combination of political skills and ideological bearings, but also in the way that his abilities uniquely met his moment in history.  Cursing the whole enterprise just because you can’t find his carbon copy is akin to writing off a Super Bowl win because you didn’t have a perfect season.

Sowell applies this principle to the Gingrich candidacy:

Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.

While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich’s candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years — followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it “the Clinton surplus” but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.

Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.

In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama — and better than Mitt Romney.

Sowell is certainly an outlier amongst the right-leaning intelligentsia. The question now is whether he’ll also be in the minority when it comes time to vote.

December 19th, 2011 at 10:36 pm
Eric Holder Self-Destructs
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Here at CFIF, we’ve spent months chronicling the confluence of incompetence, deceit, and political opportunism that is Eric Holder’s Justice Department, whether it takes the form of the Fast and Furious scandal or the administration’s transparently partisan staffing of the department’s Civil Rights Division. Now, without a coherent counterargument, the Attorney General is essentially pulling the fire alarm. From the Daily Caller:

Attorney General Eric Holder accused his growing chorus of critics of racist motivations in a Sunday interview published in the New York Times. When reached by The Daily Caller Monday morning, the Department of Justice provided no evidence to support the attorney general’s claims.

Holder said some unspecified faction — what he refers to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama due to the color of their skin. Holder did not appear to elaborate on who he considered to make up the “more extreme segment.”

“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

Funny, it seems to me that making the political calculation that Mexican lives are expendable for an ill-defined policy goal is a pretty good working definition of racism. So too is deciding that voter intimidation that would land white belligerents in jail shouldn’t be held against the New Black Panthers. What Dr. Johnson once said of patriotism is now true of allegations of racism — they’re the last refuge of a scoundrel.
December 19th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
AmeriCorps Inspector General: Now Badly Underfunded

It was bad enough when the White House fired Gerald Walpin, the honest and diligent Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service (which oversees AmeriCorps), without cause and without properly notifying Congress, and then lied about what it had done and why.

Now comes word that Congress has underfunded this crucial internal watchdog, leaving the bloated AmeriCorps bureaucracy and liberal-grant-making apparatus without adequate oversight. I’m still trying to get the exact numbers and supporting documentation but I am told by a very reliable source that the IG office’s budget has been slashed by an astonishing 40 percent, from $6.7 million to $4 million.  The overall CNCS budget, though, took a hit of only about 3 percent from its base of $1.076 billion. So the suspect agency gets to keep chugging along at about the same pace, but the watchdog supposed to keep it honest gets gutted. This is nuts. If anything, government as a whole should be seriously downsized, but agency IGs should receive at least as much money as before, because IGs typically bring to light expensive forms of fraud or mismanagement, and thus can actually save taxpayers money in the long run.

December 16th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
Liberals Gone Wild

While responsible politicians like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) are busy proposing a bold reform of Medicare, others in Congress are engaging in less helpful behavior on the public dime.

To wit:

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., embarked on a 24-hour hunger strike in solidarity with four Occupy DC protesters who have gone without food since Dec. 8 to advocate for D.C. voting rights.

Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in the House, met with the hunger strikers Thursday and pledged to read their declaration – which calls for full voting rights for District residents as well as legislative and budget autonomy – on the floor of the House of Representatives to enter it into the congressional record.

Not to be outdone in the brazen department, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) berated former Senate colleague and multi-millionaire Jon Corzine for his MF Global failures.  Apparently, though, there is at least one other reason for Stabenow’s outrage:

The Democratic senator who savaged Jon Corzine at a high-profile Capitol Hill hearing this week had another reason to go hard on her former colleague — she recently pressed him for campaign contributions but didn’t get any.

“She would literally call once every two or three weeks,” one Corzine intimate said of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (DMich.).

“She called all the time.”

But to no avail.

Sources in Corzine’s inner circle said they were “stunned” and “amazed” by Stabenow’s attack.

The two had served together in the Senate, but Corzine hasn’t delivered with contributions in some time.

So far this year, Corzine’s name has not appeared on Stabenow’s campaign finance reports.

Records show he last donated to her in 2006, contributing $2,000. Corzine and his then-wife, Joanne, each gave Stabenow $1,000 in 1999.

Thankfully, both Ellison and Stabenow are up for reelection next year.  Perhaps their antics will inspire some enterprising campaign lawyer to put together the first Super PAC to defeat loudmouth liberals.

How about it, Renee?

December 16th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
Meaningful New Jersey Telecom Reform In Sight, If Legislature Acts Soon
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Earlier this year, state Senator Raymond Lesniak (D) introduced a bill (S-2664) to modernize New Jersey government rules for the telecommunications industry by eliminating unnecessary and costly red tape that hampers investment and growth.  The State Assembly passed the bill with overwhelming bi-partisan support, but the measure has yet to be considered in the State Senate.  With only weeks left in New Jersey’s legislative session, lawmakers must therefore act swiftly to pass these much needed reforms.

The proposed legislation exemplifies smart reform.  It preserves important consumer protections, while modernizing the outdated regulatory structure developed when the primary means of communication was a rotary telephone.  Regulations must reflect the realities of the modern marketplace, but that is unfortunately no longer the case in New Jersey.  Unless changes are made, telecommunications providers will therefore remain unable to expand investment and innovation in the state, and it’s in New Jersey’s own best interest to stay on the cutting edge of telecommunications technologies and the jobs that provides.

So before lawmakers in Trenton call it quits on yet another legislative session, they should enact S-2664.  There is simply no reason to delay the reforms outlined in Senator Lesniak’s legislation, which are exactly what New Jersey needs to ensure a more prosperous future.