The Budget Deal, or Why Elections Have Consequences

Monday, April 11, AD 2011

Unsurprisingly the last minute budget deal was the talk of much of the blogosphere over the weekend.  Some think it’s a big Republican victory.  Others are less inclined to see this as something to celebrate, to say the least.  Ed Morrissey strikes a more middle-ground approach, but says something that I think we should all keep in mind.

We’ll see who won in September, but Republicans have achieved one major accomplishment.  Not only did they force the first actual reductions in government spending in ages, but they have changed the political paradigm from whether to cut to how much and where to cut.  That’s a pretty impressive victory for a party that only controls one chamber of Congress.

To me we’re in round two of a twelve round heavyweight fight.  The real battles will be over the FY 2012 budget and the 2012 elections.  This was but a skirmish.

As for me, I agree with Gabriel Malor at Ace (linked above) that this is a good first step.  I completely understand the frustration some have expressed, especially over the inability to de-fund Murder Inc, aka Planned Parenthood.  But the fact remains that the Republicans control only one of the three democratic elements of the budget battle.*

* Slight tangential note, but I do think the talking point that Republicans only control one-half of one chamber to be a bit overdone.  First of all it’s more than half, and if we’re going to be consistent then we should say the Republicans have almost half of another chamberthe Senate.  After all, Republicans have a greater share of votes in the House than Democrats do in the Senate.  Moreover, because it lacks a filibuster rule, majority control in the House – even a small majority – is more significant than majority control in the Senate.  The minority is all but powerless in the House, less so in the Senate, especially if it has at least 41 votes.

The Republicans won big in the 2010 elections, but the Democrats won just as big as 2006 and 2008.  Therefore we are at a stalemate.  It was unreasonable to think that with control of just the House that Republicans could have completely reversed the tide of the previous two years.  At best it seemed that the Republicans could at least put a halt to further advances for Obama’s agenda, and so the relatively puny amount of real spending cuts is not an insignificant victory.

The Planned Parenthood de-funding is another matter.  Could Republican leadership have done more than merely secure an up-or-down vote on it?  Perhaps, but I just don’t see it.  It would have satisfied our sense of outrage if they had huffed and puffed and threatened to go the mattresses on it, but they would likely have been as successful in achieving their ultimate aim as we are in blowing hot air on a blog.

And again, elections have consequences.  Rick Santorum was defeated in his re-election bid in 2006, and many pro-lifers seemed to be gleeful at his defeat.  Santorum had the temerity to endorse Arlen Specter in the 2004 Republican primary in Pennsylvania, and so many suggested that one act over-rode anything else he may have done as a Senator.  He was replaced by Bob Casey, Jr., a “pro-life” Democrat who has proven that the apple falls very far from the tree.  While his dad was the defendant in the Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey (my selection for the worst Supreme Court decision of all-time) and was a true defender of the unborn, the son has been a bit of a weasel where life issues are concerned, and has not indicated one way or the other whether he would vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood.  I predict he won’t, and yet the purists who celebrated Santorum’s defeat will bemoan the Republican Party’s unwillingness to do anything with regards to this matter.

We have a very long way to go, and it was unlikely that anything of consequence would be settled in the recent budget battle.  I just can’t wait for September.

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11 Responses to The Budget Deal, or Why Elections Have Consequences

  • Other than thinking that it’s important to emphasize that the Republicans only control one chamber of Congress, and Dems control the other, that’s more because so many people think Republicans control “all of congress.” (it’s been pushed by the folks who don’t want blame for congress’ screw ups)

    It’s sad, but it seems to be very true: pro-life democratic pols don’t exist when the going gets though. Pro-life republicans are a bit more likely, and get more likely the more conservative they are; RINOs aren’t any better than dems, and they weaken the republican side.

    I think that the mourning about not cutting PP is a little early, since the budget hasn’t been submitted yet– we’ll see.

  • As a liberal, I don’t have a big problem with any of the cuts that have been announced so far or in the earlier CRs. I think it shows that savings can be found when both sides get serious.

    Of course, the PP amendment was as phony from day one as it was unconstitutional.

  • Of course, the PP amendment was as phony from day one as it was unconstitutional.

    How on Earth was it unconstitutional?

  • How on Earth was it unconstitutional?

    Once again, the GOP has taken the pro-life rank and file for a ride. Congress can’t ban a particular organization by name from bidding on federal contracts. (Article I, sec. 9).

    The GOP knew this and wrote the amendment to be rhetorical, not legislative. They could have at least tried something that might legally stand up like the proposed Maryland Big Box Retailer Medicaid Recovery bill. — written to apply to Wal-Mart without actually naming it.

    But why take the trouble when you are not serious?

  • Okay, there was a very profound and insightful conservative commentary on the President atfter Paul Zummo’s 11:24 post. I had copied it and sent it to some friends as an example of conservative thought and opinion. Now that the Moderator have deleted it, I need to recall it from my friends and let them know thinking conservatives really don’t share these views.

    This is cutting into my time for setting up the union hall for tonight’s kielbasa and kraut social.

  • Once again, the GOP has taken the pro-life rank and file for a ride. Congress can’t ban a particular organization by name from bidding on federal contracts. (Article I, sec. 9).

    Umm, there is nothing remotely in Article 1, Section 9 that touches upon this issue. Next time you want to blow smoke, try running it by someone else.

  • The bill of attainder argument is total rubbish Kurt. The same worthless argument was raised in the cutting off of funding for Acorn and rejected by the Second Circuit last year.

    http://www.law.com/jsp/law/LawArticleFriendly.jsp?id=1202469732573

    The idea that Congress cannot decide not to fund a particular organization because such a funding decision is a bill of attainder is simply ludicrous.

  • Bill of Attainder? That’s what Kurt was getting at? It’s so ridiculous that it didn’t even occur to me that he was referring to that provision. I know leftists like to stretch the meaning of the Constitution, but man that’s not even in the ballpark.

  • Okay, there was a very profound and insightful conservative commentary on the President atfter Paul Zummo’s 11:24 post. I had copied it and sent it to some friends as an example of conservative thought and opinion. Now that the Moderator have deleted it, I need to recall it from my friends and let them know thinking conservatives really don’t share these views.

    I hesitate to dictate how someone spends their non-kielbasa and kraut time, but one solution would be not to send out “Oh my gosh, would you believe how crazy these guys are?!?!” emails… 😉

  • For those who don’t have one of those cool pocket constitutions. (Mine, sadly, cannot co-exist with a toddler who knows how to climb chairs, and move them.)

    Allow me to agree that removing funding from an organization does not equal either issuing a legal statement that they are wrong without a trial, nor to imprisonment without trial, nor is Planned Parenthood a ship or port or business of a specific state. (Just to cover all grounds.)

    Darwin- my goodness! What kind of crazy suggestion is that? Next thing you know, you’ll suggest that Wikipedia isn’t a better reference than original texts!

  • “Once again, the GOP has taken the pro-life rank and file for a ride. ”

    The old tired lie straight from the devils mouth. Meanwhile his fellow Democraps vote 0-100 against pro-life legislation..

Political Miscellania 6/24/10

Thursday, June 24, AD 2010

A roundup of recent political news.

1.  Nikki Haley, see the above video, crushed her opponent in the runoff 65-35.  She survived bizzare accusations of infidelity, attacks on whether she is a Christian, her parents are Sikh immigrants, and outright racism.  She is only 38 years old, her youth being something she has in common with the new generation of conservatives running and winning this year.  She has a 20 point lead on her opponent in the general election and is the odds on favorite to win in the fall and be the next governor of South Carolina.

2.  Tim Scott handily won his runoff against Paul Thurmond for the Republican nomination for Congress from South Carolina 1.  This is a heavily Republican district, so Mr. Scott, who many consider to be the most conservative member of the South Carolina legislature, will now almost certainly be the first black Republican congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction.

3.  The bad news for the Democrats for November just will not stop.  Gallup released a poll this week which shows a huge enthusiasm gap in favor of the GOP.

The current average is based on four measures of this enthusiasm question since February, including the recent June 11-13 USA Today/Gallup poll. In that poll, 53% of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting and 39% were less enthusiastic, while 35% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting and 56% were less enthusiastic.

Republicans’ net score of +14 more enthusiastic in the latest poll compared with the Democrats’ net score of -21 represents the largest relative party advantage Gallup has measured in a single midterm election-year poll. More generally, Republicans have shown a decided relative advantage in enthusiasm throughout 2010, averaging a net score of +28, compared with Democrats’ net score of 0.

(Gallup instituted a separate enthusiasm question in March on its Daily tracking survey, which asks voters to say how enthusiastic they are about voting this year as opposed to comparing their current enthusiasm to their enthusiasm in prior elections. This new enthusiasm question lacks a historical trend but has also shown a consistent Republican advantage throughout the year.)

The 28 percentage-point party difference in net scores on the “more enthusiastic than usual” question in 2010 is the highest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, with 1994’s 17-point Republican advantage the only other midterm election-year gap coming close. (See the table at the end of the article for full data by party.)

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One Response to Political Miscellania 6/24/10

  • Re: Patty Murray’s challengers… Akers is solid, but he just doesn’t have much of a following among folks here in WA. He’s a businessman from Bellingham, who intends to streamline or LEAN out the bureaucracy.

    Rossi is (in my mind) a Johnny-come-lately to the race, and is the supposed establishment choice. He has name recognition, but he has yet to win a statewide race. In my time here, he’s the guy that lost to Christine Gregoire (governor) twice.

    Clint Didier is the man who has won my support. He’s a former tight end for the Redskins, and even caught a TD pass in the Superbowl. He’s a farmer, and a football coach back in Easter WA. By no means is he a polished politician, he admits quite frankly that he is not a polished politician.

    The Washington State Republican Party recently held their convention. Terra Mork, a local activist and pro-life conservative gives her take on the convention here and here. Additionally, Michelle at “Life of the Party”, another local local activist and pro-life conservative gives her endorsement to Didier as well.

    Anecdotally, the signs you see around town for Senate candidates are primarily for Didier. I have not seen one for Rossi. I’ve only seen one for Akers and one for Murray. WA is typically a blue state, but the enthusiasm seems to be falling mostly behind Didier, as Terra’s report of the straw poll seems to indicate. It should be interesting to see how the top two primary plays out to see who really will be on the ballot in the general.

Looking into the Cloudy Ball

Thursday, April 15, AD 2010

Tax day is a day when all Americans are reminded about the importance of politics and think about the importance of the political future so they can adjust their budgets accordingly. Most of the time in politics we have a reasonably good idea of what’s going on: what the issues are going to be, who the favorites in the next election are, who are the main blocs, etc. Of course, there are always surprises and upsets.

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13 Responses to Looking into the Cloudy Ball

  • I think the GOP can count on solid tea party support in the Fall. In many states the dead line to get on the ballot is approaching or passed, and, in any case, there has been little movement by tea party members to run third party candidates. The big problem for the GOP will be if they win a huge victory in November with crucial tea party assistance, which I expect, and then proceed with business as usual. In that case I do anticipate a tea party third party in 2012.

    The post by Morning’s Minion, which you linked to, thanking God that John McCain is not president was a hoot! A weak defense indeed of the South Side Messiah!

  • Don:

    I hadn’t talked about the Tea Party as a potential third party, but I think you’re right. The Tea Party is largely built on the emotional resistance to Obama and I think the Tea Party will do its best to defeat Obama and Democrats. I would imagine they’ll stick with the GOP until at least Obama’s defeat and then perhaps start a separate party if they’re unsatisfied with the results.

    However, which candidate the Tea party will back in the Presidential primaries is anyone’s guess. Palin? Someone like Scott Brown? Will they go ideology or the best chance at winning?

  • “However, which candidate the Tea party will back in the Presidential primaries is anyone’s guess. Palin? Someone like Scott Brown? Will they go ideology or the best chance at winning?”

    At this point I am beginning to think that Palin is looking at 2016. Brown I think isn’t looking at the Presidency at all, but is completely concentrated on Massachusetts where the political revolution he initiated is gathering momentum. I think that 2012 may well be the year of someone who is little known now, at least by the general public. From the GOP standpoint it is essential that the standard bearer be someone who can cause great enthusiasm among the tea partiers.

  • From the GOP standpoint it is essential that the standard bearer be someone who can cause great enthusiasm among the tea partiers.

    Seems unlikely with Romney and Huckabee as the frontrunners. But a lot can change in two or three years.

  • The articel seems to presume that, absent the ominous “Tea Party threat,” the Republican Party would naturally sweep to victory in November, then immediately set about setting things right. Wrong! If the recent history of the American body politic says anything, it says that the parties are both more intersted in having and expanding power, rather than necessarily using power for good.

    Without the Tea Party threat, the repubs are nothing but a shade or so removed from the Dems on the critical life issues; the country club repubs most definitely want pro-lifers to go away.
    In my adult days, only once has the repub party used a majority to try to limit government expenditures and reduce the interfering influence of government in the daily lives of citizens; and ultimately, they abandoned the effort.
    Neither party can lay claim to a corner on “social justice” issues. At least not if one takes the position that forced taxpayer largesse in the social programs MUST be able to boast of resounding success in return for the now truly collossal expenditure of funds involved.

  • although not a memember of the so called tea party..people are rightly concerned that if the spending contiunes the chances of having a debt that requires a one trillion dollar interest per year will occur. the problem as i view is that we need a congress that will pass a bill demanding a balance budget each year and get rid of those bills that do not create jobs or add to an already explosive deficit and to develop a foreign policy with teeth and not just words and one that quits trying to tell people how to live. we fought one king for that right and it appears we have another trying to tell us the sme thing.

  • Kevin:

    The articel seems to presume that, absent the ominous “Tea Party threat,” the Republican Party would naturally sweep to victory in November, then immediately set about setting things right.

    Wrong on both counts though I don’t think that’s obvious from this post. I think the Republicans did a fine job of messing things up long before “Tea Party” was thought up and so would have complications going into November (i.e. the residual effects of the Bush presidency). Nor do I think the republicans would set things right, though i hope especially on issues of SCOTUS nominations and abortion funding they would be able to provide some corrections.

    My point in discussing the Tea Party was that, especially in considering 2012, they provide a variable. We don’t know what kind of effect they will have and so it is hard to predict how elections will turn out.

    afl:

    develop a foreign policy with teeth and not just words and one that quits trying to tell people how to live.

    Beware that the foreign policies with teeth (such as Bush’s) are often the ones that are based on the premise that the United States has a moral responsibility to spread democracy & its principles i.e. tell people how to live.

  • MD,
    Okay, if you say that was your point, I must believe you. But if the democrats remain in control of the house in December of this year, the political game is up. No amount of right thinking in 2012 will serve any good purpose if the leak in the dike is not stopped now.
    Those of you who think that politics, carried out with the Constitution in the fundamentally fractured state it is in now, can answer the mail are probably fooling yourselves.
    What was it Gandolf said? “The board is set, the pieces are moving, the final battle for Middle Earth has begun.”
    God help us all!

  • I don’t think any of the presumed GOP candidates (Huck, Palin, Romney) will win the nomination. I think it will be someone who catches fire–like a Paul Ryan or a conservative governor.

  • The fact that they’re more educated and wealthier may just be a reflection of the fact that they tend to be white, male, and old.

    The NY Times pool reveals some other interesting facts. Most Tea Partiers favor at least civil unions for gay couples, most favor legal abortions, and most don’t go to church regularly. Most like Palin but don’t think she would make a good president!

    My money was on Romney before this whole Tea Party thing. Huckabee and Romney have fiscally liberal records which voters may not forgive. Palin is talking up Romney though so Tea Partiers may forgive his past. The liberal elite find Romney to be the least objectionable.

    Gingrich’s negatives are too high. He’d be unelectable in the general election.

    Ron Paul is polling well but he can’t win the GOP nomination.

    A lot of excitement around Marco Rubio but he’s not even Senator yet and he’s only 38. Maybe 2016.

  • Romney is a political chameleon and I doubt if he will get the nomination in 2012. Paul is going no place slowly. Gingrich is only formidable as a talk show guest. The Huckster should stick with his show on Fox. I think Palin, as I stated earlier, is waiting for 2016. Rubio is a man to watch closely, but his year is not 2012. The New York Times poll of tea partiers is as worthless as most of what appears in that poor excuse for a fish wrapper.

  • Intrade has Romney in first followed closely by Palin. In third is John Thune. Others fall way behind. Oh how far Jindal has fallen…

    Intrade also gives the Democrats slightly better odds of retaining control of the House.

    Bad news in New York. Neither Guiliani nor Pataki will challenge Gillibrand.

  • As a twenty-something male I find the whole situation depressing. When you have Romney and Palin ahead in the poles for the Republicans and I guess, um…, Obama for the Dems, you really have to fool yourself to see anything bright in the future. The way I look at it we just have to hope that our pilot was the one who was sitting at the bar before departure who only had three whiskeys instead of five. I really am sorry for it but this nation has become the fruit of a more and more Godless society. Even though we have statistics that comfort us in being a Christian nation, the label “Christianity” is about as broad as Conservatism or Liberalism. Fact of the matter is that unless there is some major miraculous turn around in the faith of the people of this nation and their education in that faith, we will be sentenced to suffer the consequences of such a society. However, conversation such as in this com box and in the greater political arena is still necessary. I may not have much faith in the future of this country but I do realize that you have to go down swinging.

Stevens to Retire

Friday, April 9, AD 2010

Get ready for Obama appointment, Round 2.

Supreme Court Justice Stevens announces he will retire in the summer.

Not sure how the timing will work on this, especially as Obama and the Democrats try to avoid being too contentious right before the November elections. That might play in our favor as far as getting a more moderate nominee. It will also be interesting to see if the GOP can or will delay the nominee as they have the 41 votes to filibuster.

The names being thrown around are the same ones being thrown around before; we’ll see where he goes with this pick. Time to start praying again.

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39 Responses to Stevens to Retire

  • Jerry Ford’s gift to liberal Democrats everywhere finally decides to call it quits during a Democrat administation, which shocks me as much the sky being blue and water being wet.

  • I don’t foresee a filibuster. There are only 41 Republicans, and it will just take one R to break a filibuster, and in this case I highly doubt Snowe, or Collins, or even Brown would join in one.

    Anyway thus passes Gerald Ford’s great gift to the country.

  • Heh, Donald beat me to the punch by seconds on the gift remark.

  • Stevens being from Chicago Paul I was in a hurry to give him a proper “the Chicago Way” send-off. 🙂

  • I have to admit, going to 90 to make sure his replacement shares his views is pretty stout.

    I agree that the filibuster seems unlikely, but there is a chance and that might affect the choice of nominee.

  • Pray for what?

    I don’t say that to doubt the efficacy of prayer, or to discourage anyone from praying for the souls of the Supreme Court members. But the way this game is played, 100% of nominees from Democratic presidents are activist pro-choicers, and 50% of Republicans’ nominees are originalist pro-lifers.

    The only way loyal Catholics get someone palatable is if the paperwork gets mixed up in the mail, and Bishop Gomez gets on the Court and some liberal judge takes over the Diocese of LA.

  • Pinky:

    Well, one could always hope the Democrats make their first mistake.

    But if that’s not a hope, then I think we should pray that he picks someone more moderate on the issue rather than the absolute “abortion is a right and ought to be fully funded by the federal government” crowd. There are various shades of being pro-choice, and we can pray that we get a lighter shade than Stevens.

  • I for one am going to start praying that Scalia does not fall over with a Heart attack

  • I for one am going to start praying that Scalia does not fall over with a Heart attack

    Yeah. . . where will we find another judge as dependably pro-torture as he is!

  • Through Obama.

  • “Yeah. . . where will we find another judge as dependably pro-torture as he is!”

    Why the entire liberal wing of the court unless you do not consider partial birth abortion to be torture, in addition to infanticide.

    From the Ginsburg dissent in Carhart, the Supreme Court decision upholding a law against partial birth abortion joined in by Stevens, Souter and Breyer.

    “Today, the Court blurs that line, maintaining that “[t]he Act [legitimately] appl[ies] both previability and postviability because … a fetus is a living organism while within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb.” Ante, at 17. Instead of drawing the line at viability, the Court refers to Congress’ purpose to differentiate “abortion and infanticide” based not on whether a fetus can survive outside the womb, but on where a fetus is anatomically located when a particular medical procedure is performed. See ante, at 28 (quoting Congressional Findings (14)(G), in notes following 18 U. S. C. §1531 (2000 ed., Supp. IV), p. 769).

    One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus from destruction will hold in face of the Court’s “moral concerns.” See supra, at 15; cf. ante, at16 (noting that “[i]n this litigation” the Attorney General “does not dispute that the Act would impose an undue burden if it covered standard D&E”). The Court’s hostility to the right Roe and Casey secured is not concealed. Throughout, the opinion refers to obstetrician-gynecologists and surgeons who perform abortions not by the titles of their medical specialties, but by the pejorative label “abortion doctor.” Ante, at 14, 24, 25, 31, 33. A fetus is described as an “unborn child,” and as a “baby,” ante, at 3, 8; second-trimester, previability abortions are referred to as “late-term,” ante, at 26; and the reasoned medical judgments of highly trained doctors are dismissed as “preferences”motivated by “mere convenience,” ante, at 3, 37. Instead of the heightened scrutiny we have previously applied, the Court determines that a “rational” ground is enough to uphold the Act, ante, at28, 37. And, most troubling, Casey’s principles, confirming the continuing vitality of “the essential holding of Roe,” are merely “assume[d]” for the moment, ante, at15, 31, rather than “retained” or “reaffirmed,” Casey, 505 U. S., at 846”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-380.ZD.html

    Scalia’s dissent in the earlier Carhart decision which overturned a law banning partial birth abortion:

    “I am optimistic enough to believe that, one day, Stenberg v. Carhart will be assigned its rightful place in the history of this Court’s jurisprudence beside Korematsu and Dred Scott. The method of killing a human child–one cannot even accurately say an entirely unborn human child–proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion. And the Court must know (as most state legislatures banning this procedure have concluded) that demanding a “health exception”–which requires the abortionist to assure himself that, in his expert medical judgment, this method is, in the case at hand, marginally safer than others (how can one prove the contrary beyond a reasonable doubt?)–is to give live-birth abortion free rein. The notion that the Constitution of the United States, designed, among other things, “to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” prohibits the States from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd.

    Even so, I had not intended to write separately here until the focus of the other separate writings (including the one I have joined) gave me cause to fear that this case might be taken to stand for an error different from the one that it actually exemplifies. Because of the Court’s practice of publishing dissents in the order of the seniority of their authors, this writing will appear in the reports before those others, but the reader will not comprehend what follows unless he reads them first.

    * * *

    The two lengthy dissents in this case have, appropriately enough, set out to establish that today’s result does not follow from this Court’s most recent pronouncement on the matter of abortion, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). It would be unfortunate, however, if those who disagree with the result were induced to regard it as merely a regrettable misapplication of Casey. It is not that, but is Casey’s logical and entirely predictable consequence. To be sure, the Court’s construction of this statute so as to make it include procedures other than live-birth abortion involves not only a disregard of fair meaning, but an abandonment of the principle that even ambiguous statutes should be interpreted in such fashion as to render them valid rather than void. Casey does not permit that jurisprudential novelty–which must be chalked up to the Court’s inclination to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue. It is of a piece, in other words, with Hill v. Colorado, ante, p. ___, also decided today.

    But the Court gives a second and independent reason for invalidating this humane (not to say anti-barbarian) law: That it fails to allow an exception for the situation in which the abortionist believes that this live-birth method of destroying the child might be safer for the woman. (As pointed out by Justice Thomas, and elaborated upon by Justice Kennedy, there is no good reason to believe this is ever the case, but–who knows?–it sometime might be.)

    I have joined Justice Thomas’s dissent because I agree that today’s decision is an “unprecedented expansio[n]” of our prior cases, post, at 35, “is not mandated” by Casey’s “undue burden” test, post, at 33, and can even be called (though this pushes me to the limit of my belief) “obviously irreconcilable with Casey’s explication of what its undue-burden standard requires,” post, at 4. But I never put much stock in Casey’s explication of the inexplicable. In the last analysis, my judgment that Casey does not support today’s tragic result can be traced to the fact that what I consider to be an “undue burden” is different from what the majority considers to be an “undue burden”–a conclusion that can not be demonstrated true or false by factual inquiry or legal reasoning. It is a value judgment, dependent upon how much one respects (or believes society ought to respect) the life of a partially delivered fetus, and how much one respects (or believes society ought to respect) the freedom of the woman who gave it life to kill it. Evidently, the five Justices in today’s majority value the former less, or the latter more, (or both), than the four of us in dissent. Case closed. There is no cause for anyone who believes in Casey to feel betrayed by this outcome. It has been arrived at by precisely the process Casey promised–a democratic vote by nine lawyers, not on the question whether the text of the Constitution has anything to say about this subject (it obviously does not); nor even on the question (also appropriate for lawyers) whether the legal traditions of the American people would have sustained such a limitation upon abortion (they obviously would); but upon the pure policy question whether this limitation upon abortion is “undue”–i.e., goes too far.

    In my dissent in Casey, I wrote that the “undue burden” test made law by the joint opinion created a standard that was “as doubtful in application as it is unprincipled in origin,” Casey, 505 U.S., at 985; “hopelessly unworkable in practice,” id., at 986; “ultimately standardless,” id., at 987. Today’s decision is the proof. As long as we are debating this issue of necessity for a health-of-the-mother exception on the basis of Casey, it is really quite impossible for us dissenters to contend that the majority is wrong on the law–any more than it could be said that one is wrong in law to support or oppose the death penalty, or to support or oppose mandatory minimum sentences. The most that we can honestly say is that we disagree with the majority on their policy-judgment-couched-as-law. And those who believe that a 5-to-4 vote on a policy matter by unelected lawyers should not overcome the judgment of 30 state legislatures have a problem, not with the application of Casey, but with its existence. Casey must be overruled.

    While I am in an I-told-you-so mood, I must recall my bemusement, in Casey, at the joint opinion’s expressed belief that Roe v. Wade had “call[ed] the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution,” Casey, 505 U.S., at 867, and that the decision in Casey would ratify that happy truce. It seemed to me, quite to the contrary, that “Roe fanned into life an issue that has inflamed our national politics in general, and has obscured with its smoke the selection of Justices to this Court in particular, ever since”; and that, “by keeping us in the abortion-umpiring business, it is the perpetuation of that disruption, rather than of any Pax Roeana, that the Court’s new majority decrees.” Id., at 995—996. Today’s decision, that the Constitution of the United States prevents the prohibition of a horrible mode of abortion, will be greeted by a firestorm of criticism–as well it should. I cannot understand why those who acknowledge that, in the opening words of Justice O’Connor’s concurrence, “[t]he issue of abortion is one of the most contentious and controversial in contemporary American society,” ante, at 1, persist in the belief that this Court, armed with neither constitutional text nor accepted tradition, can resolve that contention and controversy rather than be consumed by it. If only for the sake of its own preservation, the Court should return this matter to the people–where the Constitution, by its silence on the subject, left it–and let them decide, State by State, whether this practice should be allowed. Casey must be overruled.”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-830.ZD1.html

  • Why the entire liberal wing of the court unless you do not consider partial birth abortion to be torture, in addition to infanticide.

    Wel then, I am confused. . . after all, since torture isn’t wrong, then how can partial birth abortion be. . .

    Unless. . .

    Of course! It makes sense now: abortion means no children. No children means no children’s testicles. And if there are no children’s testicles to crush. . . the terrorists win!

    Ex Conservatatione Quod Libet

  • I am sure phosphorious that you will be able to cite a text where Scalia ever indicated that he was in favor of someone’s testicles being crushed. On the other hand I have just provided you with chapter and verse where the liberal wing of the court views as a constitutional right the ability of an abortionist to stick scissors into the base of an unborn infant’s skull. However, I suppose in your view that since it is abortion it cannot be torture. Res Ipsa Loquitur

  • Don,

    phosphorius is right. Obama prefers murder to torture.

  • Bush’s legal advisors has defended Bush’s right (I don’t know if a “lib” president is invested with a similar “right”) to crush a child’s testicles to extract information from his parent. Scalia is known to have defended Bush’s torture policies in toto.

    Bush ordered torture to be performed. Did Obama ever order an abortion to be performed, partial-birth or otherwise? A distinction a “conservative” should take seriously.

  • phosphorius is right. Obama prefers murder to torture.

    Whereas I can’t think of anything that conservatives prefer to torture. they defend it every chance they get.

  • Actually many conservatives oppose torture. Many liberals (such as Pelosi)supported the CIA interrogation techniques (though she lies about it.) Obama, given his penchant for murder would likely not oppose past interrogation techniques if the right situation arose. Did he order any murders? See discussion on assasinations below.

  • Phosphorious raises some very good points, and I would like to follow up with a post of my own. I would just ask phosporious if he could kindly supply some of the links or other supporting literature that shows that Bush’s legal advisors defended his right to crush a child’s testicles, where Bush so ordered such an action to be taken, and the opinions offered by Scalia demonstrating his approval of such. I look forward with great anticipation the roundup of this information.

  • Google “Yoo testicles” and you will see the defense. As for proof that Bush actually ordered the crushing of testicles, child’s or not, I assume that’s a matter of State security that only a traitor would pry too closely in. If the terrorists knew about it, they would train their children to withstand testicle crushing, after all.

    But Bush did order the torture of prisoners. And Scalia supports it. . . citing I believe “24” as proof that law enforcement needs “lattitude” in the fighting of terrorism.

    But gentlemen, we digress. The point is that abortion is the litmus test, and nothing else.

    On that, conservatives can agree, no?

  • “Did Obama ever order an abortion to be performed, partial-birth or otherwise? A distinction a “conservative” should take seriously.”

    Nah, he merely defends it as a constitutional right and raises campaign funds trumpeting his opposition to laws banning partial birth abortion, what the late pro-abort Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan referred to as “barely disguised infanticide”.

    http://www.jillstanek.com/partial-birth-abortion/michelle-obamas.html

  • I assume that this interview on 60 minutes is what elicts phosphorious’ attempts to defend Obama on abortion by attacking Scalia on torture:

    Viewing Leslie Stahl attempting to question Scalia is rather like watching Bill Clinton attempting to teach a course on legal ethics. She didn’t have even the foggiest notion of what he was talking about.

  • “The point is that abortion is the litmus test, and nothing else.”

    The point is phosphorious almost a million dead unborn children a year and your desperate attempts on a Catholic blog to supply political cover to a President who is dedicated to this continuing forever.

  • Stevens’ retirement troubles me because, every time a justice retires many people speak in terms of litmus tests related to societal issues such as abortion and freedom religion. In discussing such tests for prospective nominees most individuals focus solely on the subject of abortion.

    The use of abortion as the sole litmus test that nominees must be subjected to is akin to tunnel vision because, most social conservatives fail to realize that the adoption of such a position is tantamount to heresy in many circles and no politician would risk their careers by taking such a position openly and publicly because, it would alienate an extremely large bloc of voters who see overturning Roe v Wade and it descendants as potentially causing even more harm than good because, attempting in their eyes restoring the status quo as it existed before 1973 could engender the return and resurgence of backroom abortionists who are not medically trained.

    I would advocate the development of additional tests. For example, how would the nominee defend the rights of the disabled, minorities and women?

  • “I would advocate the development of additional tests. For example, how would the nominee defend the rights of the disabled, minorities and women?”

    In other words, shut up about the right to life of the unborn. Additionally, what attempts are there on the scale of abortion in reference to unborn children to deny rights to minorities or women? Unborn disabled children are of course often targeted for abortion because of their disability.

  • I assume that this interview on 60 minutes is what elicts phosphorious’ attempts to defend Obama on abortion by attacking Scalia on torture

    I am attacking the smug, self-righteous Catholics who only object to the sins that political liberals commit.

    Which is every poster here, far as I can tell.

  • In other words, shut up about the right to life of the unborn.

    Because, of course, if abortion is not the only issue, then it is no issue at all.

    Heresy is not necessarily the abandoning of Church doctrine. Focusing on one bit of doctrine to the exclusion of all else will do quite nicely.

  • The point is phosphorious almost a million dead unborn children a year and your desperate attempts on a Catholic blog to supply political cover to a President who is dedicated to this continuing forever.

    Obama has dedicated his life. . . and beyond. . . the making sure that mothers kill their children?

    Wow. . . I had no idea. . .

  • What are the penalties for refusing to abort your child?

  • Phosphorious it would be much more concise if you simply said: “I’m a liberal and I don’t give a damn about abortion. Go Obama!” That is, after all, what your position boils down to.

  • The Cajun is right, how much damage does President Obama want to incur in order to nominate another pro-abortion advocate.

    I think he will, he seems to believe he is invincible and 2012 is far away enough to recuperate lost prestige.

    He apparently doesn’t really care about the Dems this election cycle, so why not write this election off. Besides, what’s the worse that can happen? The Democrats will have a small majority in the House and in the Senate he’ll have veto powers that can’t be overcome.

  • At no time did I argue that anyone needed to be silent about the rights or lack thereof accorded to the unborn. I merely assert that a multitude of sociopolitical issues must be considered in addition to when nominating a successor to Justice Stevens.

    As for my assertions regarding the nature of politicians and their desire to maintain their positions at the expense of their morals, such a school of thought has existed in some form or other since, the foundation of the Roman Empire. Indeed both Machiavelli and Gracian discussed this tendency at length.

  • Mr. McClarey, I know very well how many fetuses are subjected to abortion because of their disabilities. I myself am possessed of cerebral palsy characterized by ataxic presentation.

    I merely sought to point out that in my opinion if an individual chooses to focus on the issue of abortion alone, while failing to review the positions taken by a prospective nominee on other sociopolitical issues is possessed of a focus so narrow that it fails to meet the standard set by Saint Basil Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure, and Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

  • Nathan, I rather think all of the Saints you name would be protesting outside of abortion clinics constantly if they were alive today. Abortion is the human rights issue of our day, and to sit on our hands because of opposition from pro-aborts is not an option.

    I think Cardinal Ratzinger put it well in a letter:

    “2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

    3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/bishops/04-07ratzingerommunion.htm

    Catholics and all who cherish innocent human life must be untiring in their battle against the crime of abortion.

    In regard to your disability, my prayers. One of my sons is autistic. I have no doubt that if there were a test to determine autism in utero, many of his autistic peers would not be alive today, just as has occurred with 90% of Down Syndrome children where such a test does exist. This slaughter of the innocents must stop and I will never cease working against abortion until I take my final breath.

  • Phosphorious it would be much more concise if you simply said: “I’m a liberal and I don’t give a damn about abortion. Go Obama!” That is, after all, what your position boils down to.

    As opposed to saying that the mere mention of torture distracts from abortion, which is the only sin.

  • I agree they would be protesting, and they would be examining the positions held by candidates in regards to other issues as well so that could more fully ascertain the candidates in order to have a fuller understanding of their character, so that they could more effectively battle them.

  • Phosphorious your laborious dragging of red herrings through this thread merely demonstrates that my concise version of your position is totally accurate. Such tactics may work at Vox Nova, they are absolutely of no use on this blog.

  • I merely sought to point out that in my opinion if an individual chooses to focus on the issue of abortion alone, while failing to review the positions taken by a prospective nominee on other sociopolitical issues is possessed of a focus so narrow that it fails to meet the standard set by Saint Basil Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure, and Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

    An aspirant for a seat on an appellate court of last resort who proposes to uphold Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton is in doing so subscribing to a particular conception of judicial review favored by Laurence Tribe. A judge engaging in authentic judicial review declines to apply administrative rules which conflict with statutes and statutes which conflict with constitutions. A judge engaging in Tribean judicial review assumes plenary authority to annul any statute or administrative rule incongruent with the policy preferences of law professors, so long as his shallow and smart-assed clerks can gin up a salable excuse. An adherent to Tribean judicial review is unfit for any office or public trust, period.

    Judge Stevens was one of four members of the federal Supreme Court who contended (in a dissenting opinion issued in 1977) that the federal and state governments were required by constitutional provisions to appropriate public funds to provide abortions on demand. Congress should have stuck a fork in this bastard a long long time ago.

  • In this country, ‘sociopolitical issues’ are the business of legislators, not judges.

  • The reason it appears that Roe v. Wade is all that matters is because, in addition to being about the civil rights issue of our time, it also has become a proxy for two opposing views of constitutional jurisprudence. How a judge is likely to vote on Roe tells me almost all I need to know about that judge.

Generic Congressional Ballot: Nine Point Republican Lead

Thursday, January 7, AD 2010

Scott Rasmussen, the best political pollster in the country in my opinion, had a stunner yesterday in his latest generic Congressional ballot:  the Republicans have a nine point lead, 44% to 35%.

The latest generic ballot numbers highlight a remarkable change in the political environment during 2009. When President Obama was inaugurated, the Democrats enjoyed a seven-point advantage on the Generic Ballot. That means the GOP has made a net gain of 16 percentage points over the course of the year. Support for Democrats has declined eight points since Obama’s inauguration while Republican support is up nine points.

The Republican gains began in February when Republicans in the House unanimously opposed the $787-billion economic stimulus plan proposed by the president and congressional Democrats. At that time, Republican gains came almost entirely from the GOP base. Currently, just 30% of voters believe the stimulus plan helped the economy while 38% believe it hurt.

The two parties were very close on the Generic Ballot throughout the spring, but Republicans pulled ahead for good in late June. Those GOP gains took place after the health care debate began and unaffiliated voters began to shift away from the Democrats. Only 40% of voters currently favor the health care plan, while 55% are opposed.

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19 Responses to Generic Congressional Ballot: Nine Point Republican Lead

  • “A nine point gap, or anything close to nine points, indicates an electoral disaster of truly epic proportions for the Democrats.”

    If it were already September or October I’d say that’s true, but 9 1/2 months out from the general election, I’m not so sure. Was the “gap” as big or bigger than this in early ’94?

  • In March 1994 Elaine the Democrats had a one point lead in the Gallup generic Congressional ballot. The largest lead the Republicans had on the Gallup generic ballot in 1994 was 5 points in mid August in 1994.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/124010/generic-ballot-provides-clues-2010-vote.aspx

  • Here’s another very significant Rasmussen poll result: in Massachusetts the GOP candidate in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat is only 9 points behind the Democrat — very unusual for a state as “blue” as Massachusetts.

    Among poll respondents who say they definitely WILL vote in that election, the GOP candidate is behind by only 2 percentage points! And that election is less than 2 weeks away (Jan. 19).

    If the GOP pulls off this upset — or even if they just make it a close race, say within single digits — then we’ll know something really is brewing.

  • Quite right Elaine. If a Republican takes Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat there will be few Democrats in Congress outside of major urban centers who will not be feeling very nervous. It is an extreme long shot, but the fact that people even think it is possible is an indication of what a different type of political year 2010 may well be.

  • While I’m not excited about Republicans taking power, oh how I love seeing the Dems take it on the chin.

  • Steve, I feel the same way.

    The idea that either one of these parties will ever change society for the better is a joke. I have no faith in the GOP. But I do believe the Dems deserve to lose, and badly.

  • “The idea that either one of these parties will ever change society for the better is a joke. I have no faith in the GOP. But I do believe the Dems deserve to lose, and badly”

    Well I am not so down on the GOP as some folks are. I realize its limitations. I am not sure I want the GOP to change society. Or at least do it by itself. Often political parties are rather bad vehicles to do it. Though in the past at certain times they were in the forefront on important issues.

    Parties are just one of many vehicles to do it but they cannot do it on their own.

    Right now I just want the GOP slow some this down. I think using raw political power the powers that be in the DEM party wanted to change society on many fronts. We are seeing how the public is reacting to that.

  • My party, the Republican party, often fails to live up to my expectations when the GOP is in power. The Democrats on the other hand usually have no difficulty in exceeding my fears when they are in power.

  • Donald I think that is a good point. One of the problems is the GOP is if I might say a tad more diverse than the Democrats. Thus getting this coalition to agree on stuff is a tad harder.

    THe Dems used to be this way when Conservative blue dogs were not on the endangered species list.

  • I am bewildered that any one who knows how to think would expect a political party to change society. The parties are symptoms of the problems, not possible cures.

    The difficulty with democracy is that the representatives are indeed representative of the populace, whether Joe Six Pack or members of Mary Daly’s academentia.

  • “I am bewildered that any one who knows how to think would expect a political party to change society.”

    The Republican Party and its anti-slavery and pro-Union policies changed society radically, as did FDR and his New Deal. Political parties change societies all the time, for good and ill.

  • Don’s right. Political parties are important institutions, and they are quite often change agents, for better or worse.

  • I’m with Steve and Joe,

    I have little or no faith in either party.

    Bring back the WHIG party!

  • Tito,
    The Whig Party had its imperfect platforms and leaders too, and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we should have “faith” in a political party. While Catholic teaching requires that we be socially engaged to appropriate ends, and even favors political engagement, it is not at all necessary for that engagment to involve the support of a political party. But nor does Catholic teaching disfavor political party involvement, even acknowledging the inevitable imperfections of all political parties. It is important that our political parties include serious lay Catholics who work to advance policies informed by Catholic teaching. The temptation in various Catholic quarters to declare some type of moral (and often intellectual) superiority derived from a self-removal from party politics is just smug nonsense. There are many trenches to be worked, and political parties are among them.
    That said, it is true that there is also the temptation for Catholics to allow their Catholicity to be subordinated to party loyalty. There is a place for loyal opposition within political parties, and perhaps Rep Stupak is giving us a lesson in it.

  • Mike P.,

    I agree with you on your points.

    Probably what I am yearning for is more a parliamentary type of governance that the U.K. has. Which would allow for more specialized parties that would cater to Catholic’s interest more effectively.

    Rather than working through the Democratic and Republican Party’s infrastructure which can be daunting at times.

  • Probably what I am yearning for is more a parliamentary type of governance that the U.K. has.

    No thanks. A parliamentary or multi-party system is not something we should ever desire, nor is it the way the country was designed.

  • No thanks. A parliamentary or multi-party system is not something we should ever desire, nor is it the way the country was designed.

    I see both the benefits and drawbacks of this, but with wishy-washy Catholics infecting both parties, ie, Nancy Pelosi and Rudy Guiliani, we get drowned out by these dissidents and end up with tools such as Bob Casey Jr. and Olympia Snowe.

  • A parliamentary or multi-party system is not something we should ever desire, nor is it the way the country was designed.

    A country is not a thing ‘designed’. Separation-of-powers and bicameralism are mere instruments, and disposable at that.

    One trouble we have is a crappy political class. A discussion of some of our predicament is here:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NGM0ZmJlZmU0Yzg2YjM5YmIzM2M1YzEyN2JmNDcwODA=

A Daley Sees Disaster Looming For the Democrats

Thursday, December 24, AD 2009

As an Illinois Republican I have little love for the Daley clan of Chicago.  However, I have always respected their political acumen.  William Daley, Commerce Secretary under Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s campaign chairman in 2000, where he was much too effective for my comfort in what should have been a big Republican year, and brother of Richie the Lesser, current Mayor for Life of the Windy City, has an interesting column today in the Washington Post:

But now they face a grim political fate. On the one hand, centrist Democrats are being vilified by left-wing bloggers, pundits and partisan news outlets for not being sufficiently liberal, “true” Democrats. On the other, Republicans are pounding them for their association with a party that seems to be advancing an agenda far to the left of most voters.

The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.

Witness the losses in New Jersey and Virginia in this year’s off-year elections. In those gubernatorial contests, the margin of victory was provided to Republicans by independents — many of whom had voted for Obama. Just one year later, they had crossed back to the Republicans by 2-to-1 margins.

Witness the drumbeat of ominous poll results. Obama’s approval rating has fallen below 49 percent overall and is even lower — 41 percent — among independents. On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008, according to Ipsos. Gallup’s generic congressional ballot shows Republicans leading Democrats. There is not a hint of silver lining in these numbers. They are the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.

And, of course, witness the loss of Rep. Griffith and his fellow moderate Democrats who will retire. They are perhaps the truest canaries in the coal mine.

Despite this raft of bad news, Democrats are not doomed to return to the wilderness. The question is whether the party is prepared to listen carefully to what the American public is saying. Voters are not re-embracing conservative ideology, nor are they falling back in love with the Republican brand. If anything, the Democrats’ salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center.

All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan. (end of column)

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9 Responses to A Daley Sees Disaster Looming For the Democrats

  • No matter what, I will still always and everywhere and at anytime vote AGAINST the Democrats. Ever since the Democrat Congress cut funding off for the South Vietnamese government, thereby causing us to lose the Vietnam War, they have proven themselves to be the party of treason and death. Now today because of their actions, not only is the Catholic Church persecuted in communist Vietnam, but we have wholesale infanticide of the unborn here in the US.

    The best Democrat is the defeated, muzzled and emasculated Democrat. Period.

  • Paul,
    I raise a toast to you.

  • I raise a toast as well.

    We need to remember the Democratic Party started the War of Northern Aggression, Jim Crow Laws, and actively supported the KKK.

    They are a party of racists and still they have a KKK Grand Dragon as Senator from West Virginia.

    They are aptly called the Party of Death by Archbishop Burke.

  • Let’s not get carried away. A lot of good men and women have been Democrats over the years. I hope for a day when the Democrat party will once again be led by statesmen like Harry Truman, who, while a fierce partisan, was also a patriot first and a Democrat second, and that on abortion the Democrat party will eventually celebrate the memory of Bob Casey, Senior, a liberal who was also an ardent defender of the unborn.

  • Donald,

    Couldn’t help myself. What I wrote is true, but you are correct that there are many, many, good people within the Democratic Party.

    I hope for the same as you do, that they return more to the principles that are more in alignment with God’s plan.

  • Donald,

    Frankly I’ll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, Catholic Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Leahy, Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry, et al., are the ones in charge of the party, not the good ones to whom you refer, and until the Bishops publicly deny them reception of Holy Communion, there is NO hope for the Democrat Party. This in large measure is the fault of the Bishops for getting the public so confused between the false gospel of social justice and peace at any price and the True Gospel of Life.

  • Harry Truman dropped not one, but two atomic bombs on the Japanese people, thus giving these United States the distinction of being the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons against their fellow human beings. Whatever virtuous policies he may have had before and after are rendered fairly irrelevant to my mind thanks to that decision.

    If actions like that make a man a “statesman” worthy of praise and admiration, then I admit to not knowing the definition.

    The GOP may indeed have some sort of comeback in 2010. However, it will be a hollow one that only results in helping Obama secure a second term in 2012 ala Clinton in 1996.

  • Anthony,

    Armchair quarterbacking…

    My grandfather fought in Europe and was bound for the Pacific when the bombs fell. Given the absolute fanatical resistance that the Japanese had already shown, the government’s predictions on the cost of defeating Japan through conventional means seem quite credible.

    My grandmother once remarked that those who chastised America for dropping the bombs fail to understand the dangers of fascism.

    I think that, had my grandfather come home from Korea, he would have agreed and I think you should do some research before you make such a bold statement. It could be that Truman did, as he believed he did, saved millions of military and civilian lives by that decision.

  • Gentlemen, my views on the bombings are that, although the human carnage was horrific, they were justified under the circumstances. However, we are not going to have an a-bomb debate on Christmas eve, and therefore I am closing the comments on this thread.

Daniel Larison, Talking Sense

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

I’ve written about this before, but it’s nice to see Daniel Larison making the point with characteristic clarity in an interview with The Economist:

Iraq was also the policy that turned the public so sharply against President Bush prior to the 2006 mid-term elections, and those elections were and were correctly seen as a rejection of the war and Mr Bush’s handling of it. The war was the main issue of those elections, and the GOP lost control of Congress because it had identified itself completely with the war and its members in Congress continued to be its most vocal defenders. By national-security conservatives, I mean those members of the conservative movement who have a primary and overriding focus on foreign policy and national-security questions, and who typically take extremely hawkish positions. They were the leading advocates and cheerleaders for the invasion. Most movement conservatives supported the policy, but it was the national-security conservatives who drove the party into the ditch while the others went along for the ride.

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14 Responses to Daniel Larison, Talking Sense

  • Well, Larison was certainly wrong about the surge which he vehemently opposed and predicted would fail.

    http://larison.org/2007/01/27/to-oppose-servility/

    The war in Iraq was quite popular until the casualties began to mount and the Bush administration appeared to have no plan to win the conflict. That is death for popular support of a war. After Rumsfeld was finally dumped, Bush listened to Petraeus and carried out a war-winning plan, but by that time it was too late. I do think however that Republican unpopularity in 2006 had more to do with the accurate perception that Republicans had been profligate in spending in Washington. The Iraq War was a major secondary factor in 2006, but I do not think it played much of a role in 2008, an election in which the economic meltdown in September was devastating to Republicans. Then the Democrats took over the White House with broad majorities in Congress and demonstrated to the Republican amateurs how true pros in wasteful and feckless spending went about things.

  • I have a hard time accepting the idea that deficit spending was a significant factor in 2006. For one thing, the deficit spending was basically half of what it was in 2004 when Bush won re-election, and it was trending downwards in 2005, 2006 and 2007. As the deficit picture was improving, Bush’s approval ratings were sliding.

  • The Iraq War was probably the main reason for the GOP losses, but there were so many factors – scandals, deficits (yeah, they were going down, but the Bush-led GOP was seen as no longer living up to conservative principles economically), an unenergetic base (thanks to the previous point), fall-out from Katrina (which ties in with administrative incompetence in Iraq as well), etc.

  • The problem with blaming Republican defeats on excessive spending is that such spending went on for years and no one really cared. It was only when the party was already hurting because of Iraq that it became an issue.

  • The Republican Party never had but quite modest pluralities in both houses of Congress. With few exceptions, it is the norm for the President’s party to lose ground during midterm elections, most particularly during midterm elections held during a second presidential term (for whatever reason). It would have been a historical oddity had the Republicans retained Congress, without regard to the ambient concerns of the electorate.

    The article to which Mr. McClarey links is instructive. Unless I am mistaken, Mr. Larison’s time in the military approximates that of Madonna Ciccone. All of his formal education has been in pre-modern history or in the liberal arts at an institution which (as we speak) offers one (1) course in either military history or national security studies. The guy must be a hell of an autodidact. I see has been adding to his portfolio skills as a diviner of public opinion as well (and the results of his dowsing are that the general public’s irritation is a precise replica of his own – Frank Luntz, your consulting business is in danger).

  • “The problem with blaming Republican defeats on excessive spending is that such spending went on for years and no one really cared. It was only when the party was already hurting because of Iraq that it became an issue.”

    Much of the Republican base has always cared. Ross Perot used that to devastating effect against George Bush in 1992. George Bush with his “compassionate conservative” spending programs exacerbated the problem. Contra Larison the response to 9-11 and the seeming victory in Iraq in 2003 helped mask this problem in the 2002 and 2004 elections. When Iraq went South, disgruntled Republicans over spending saw no reason to turn out in 2006, and there was great dissatisfaction with McCain in 2008 and his support of the Bailout Swindle of 2008. The tea parties are merely an outward manifestation of a growing concern with fiscal folly that has been building for well over a decade. Republicans ran in 1994 as the party to bring fiscal sanity to Washingon, and initially they did to some extent. The years under Bush convinced too many Republicans that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties on the issue of government spending. The Democrats this year have convinced many of those same Republicans that they were wrong.

  • Find me two people who voted Democrat in 2006 because the Republicans were spending too much.

  • Find me two people who voted Democrat in 2006 because the Republicans were spending too much.

    More likely, it would be people who abstained and added to the plurality of the Democrats by default.

  • Again, I don’t know that it was deficits per se, but rather a feeling that the GOP had lost its way generally on economics issues. As Art Deco noted, the primary impact there was influencing core GOP voters to stay home.

  • Well, maybe, but my guess is that it deficits were more of a second order effect. By 2006, Bush’s approval ratings had tanked, primarily because of Iraq (and Katrina). To say that deficits were the real problem or even a major one requies an explanation for

    1) Why Republican voters did turnout in 2004 when deficit spending was much higher, and why reductions in deficit spending between 04-06 convinced those voters to stay home.

    2) Why Republican voters were so different from the rest of the electorate that it wasn’t Iraq, Katrina, etc that depressed turnout when it pretty clearly was what drove most of the rest of the country.

    There’s not any way to prove this one way or the other, of course. But I think the fiscal irresponsibility account is pretty implausible as a primary driver, even if it undeniably is a first order consideration to a vocal but small contingent on the right (like, for instance, Ron Paul supporters). Most people don’t pay attention to politics much, and that’s certainly true of the deficit.

  • I have a feeling it was more of a “Change” election in 2006 than any one factor. It happens. It does nto seem fair but it is what it is.

    We should also recall in 2006 that “Joe” Lieberman” was target number one over the Iraq war and he won.

    What the various branches of the GOP and the conservative movement really hate to admit is that they were too busy fighting each other and calling each other RINOS. They seemed to have forgot there were democrat challengers. This nasty counterproductive scorched earth policy started happening around the Dubai Port controversy and just got worse. Add to that a few unfortunate scandals and the Washington Post making all out war on the VA GOP Senator and it was a bad day.

    Also another point. WE lost a ton of hispanic vote largely because we could not police our own on a highly emotional debate.

    Did the Iraq war play a role in some places. Perhaps but when I look at some blue dog victories that occured in other places the ansewer is no there.

  • Regarding fall out from Katrina. I really wonder how much that was a factor. I think on the whole the public was much more sophisticated about that. In Louisiana the GOP did not suffer for it from what I can tell. It did not show up in the Congressional races in the last two cycles

  • Larison’s argument assumes that the fiscal and defense conservatives are two separate teams.

    “Most movement conservatives supported the policy, but it was the national-security conservatives who drove the party into the ditch while the others went along for the ride.”

    That sounds like scapegoating. If all the hawks jumped off a bridge, the movement conservatives shouldn’t have followed them. In reality, hawks are movement conservatives. There may be some conservatives who promote military strength, fiscal soundness, or traditional social values more, but there’s too much overlap between their policies to identify many of them as single-issue conservatives.

    Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq didn’t harm the Bush Administration. The apparent failure in Iraq, along with the Mark Foley scandal, added to the natural midterm loss for the president’s party.

    The lack of Republican fiscal high ground was a major cause of their losses in 2008. And again, there weren’t economic conservatives who lost their way, or who are trying to spin old military failures to their advantage. The Party lost its way fiscally.

  • Y’all keep referring to Republican voters and who they voted for, I don’t get it. Republican voters always vote for Republicans. Republicans lose because non-Republican voters who tend to vote for Republican candidates may or may not vote for them depending on what they actually do.

    Iraq could have been over in 18 months if we fought it right. The problem was Rumsfeld and the liberal neo-cons that were extending the conflict for nefarious purposes. Compassionate conservatism was code for spending like Democrats to sway the liberal-leaning Hispanics because they are seen as the future of the party, since it is a forgone conclusion in Republican circles that blacks are lost to the murderous Democrats (responsible for the murder of a third of all conceived Negros over the last 40 years!). ANd white voters are being overrun by brown immigrants and lack of reproduction. This is all conventional thinking and it is wrong.

    Republicans only win by default because they are less bad than the Democrats. Of course a charismatic leader, an orchestrated economic crisis and non-conservative Republican stooge makes for a great way to intentionally lose an election and keep the money rolling in to ‘win’ next time. Gimme a break.

    There is hardly a difference between the two parties and most Americans are so ignorant of the purpose and intent of government that they will vote for the jerks that promise the most stuff or the idiots who promise not to let them, but let them anyway.

    This is a dying system, if it isn’t dead yet. How do the Republicans recover?

    Oddly enough it will be the same way the Church will. Ditch the lying, sniveling, liberal relativism and honestly stick to principles of truth and Truth. Do the right (pun intended) thing especially when it is unpopular. And be doers of the conservative principles.

    Republicans have the same choice to make as the two sons from yesterday’s Gospel reading. Are they going to keep saying the are conservative and act like slightly less liberal Democrats, or are they actually going speak moderately and behave in a principled, conservative manner?

    Republicans lose because they lie, Demoncrats win because they will double your freebies if you vote for them within the next 15 minutes. Call now for more free crap.

Predictions

Monday, November 2, AD 2009

fishing for votes

For political junkies like me, tomorrow begins the political season for 2010 with gubernatorial elections in Virginia, New Jersey and the special congressional election in New York 23.    There is also a special congressional election in California 10, but that is in the San Francisco metro area and everyone, except for the Republican running, David Harmer,  believes that is going to be won by the Democrat, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, and I join in that consensus, although I suspect it might be surprisingly close.

In regard to the three competitive races, here are my predictions:

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16 Responses to Predictions

  • I think McDonnell will certainly win in VA, and I’ll bet Hoffman does too, but NJ I am not so sure about. They sure seem to love incompetent state government there. I wouldn’t be shocked if Corzine manages to win by a hair. But even that would be good news for conservatives. NJ is a deep blue state. The very fact that Corzine had to struggle and The One had to go there and campaign for him is a bad omen for the Dems.

  • I’m with Donna V., but probably more confident that Christie will pull it off. Our Dear Leader may have overstated his (manufactured) gravitas and used up whatever charismatic potion he had for a Corzine push.

    As Mister Rogers would say…

    It’s a wonderful in the neighborhood, it’s…

  • I live in New York, work in New Jersey and I sure hope you are on the money.

  • For what it’s worth, Intrade gives Hoffman about a 65% chance of winning, and McDonnell a 98% chance. New Jersey is split roughly 50/50, but with a slight edge to Corzine.

  • McDonnell is a lock, and that 57-43 split sounds about right. I think Hoffman also pulls it out, probably in a bit of a squeaker. I am not sure about NJ, but I have a sinking feeling Corzine pulls it out.

  • Ditto Paul Zummo’s prediction…

  • I’ll join the chorus, pretty solid except for NJ, that one is too close to call as far as I can tell.

  • Concur with the consensus. McDonnell will win easily. Hoffman will win fairly easily. Christie will win on election day, but it will be close enough that the Dem’s will Franken the results. To Franken the results means to keep counting (magically finding Dem votes) until you get the results you want.

  • To Franken the results means to keep counting (magically finding Dem votes) until you get the results you want.

    How does Franken (v.) differ from Gore (v.)?

  • Edward G. Robinson explains Democrat recount strategy!

  • Rich:

    When you Franken the vote, you win. When you Gore the vote, you lose and then spend the rest of your life saying “I wuz robbed!”

  • McDonnell 55%, Deeds 43%

    Corzine 43%, Christie 42%, Daggett 11% (won’t be decided until at least sometime Wednesday)

    Owens 48%, Hoffman 46%, Scozzafava 4% (NY-23 isn’t THAT conservative and I would think voters there would realize that)

    These off-year elections are very tough to predict because turnout is usually low. It’s often less about how well you win over the independents and undecideds than how good a job you do of making sure your base gets to the polls. McDonnell will win VA in a landslide, but the other two are tossups.

  • Owens 48%, Hoffman 46%, Scozzafava 4% (NY-23 isn’t THAT conservative and I would think voters there would realize that)

    ??? I think the voters there know how conservative they are or are not. They haven’t elected a democrat since 1870, it seems the latest poll indicates they aren’t starting this year either.

  • Republicans will win. Not much will change.

  • Apparently they are not that conservative and they have elected a Democrat.

  • Two out of three, not bad Donald =)

Doug Hoffman Takes Lead in Poll

Tuesday, October 27, AD 2009

Take this with more than a grain of salt, since the Club for Growth supports him, but in the latest poll by the Club for Growth Doug Hoffman, the pro-life Conservative Party candidate  in the special election in the New York 23rd Congressional District endorsed by Sarah Palin and other Republican Party luminaries, leads with 31.3% of the vote to 27% for Bill Owens the Democrat and 19.7% for the pro-abort leftist Republican Dede Scozzafava., with 22% undivided.

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10 Responses to Doug Hoffman Takes Lead in Poll

  • If anything Mr. Hoffman’s support has gone up. The question is, is it enough to lead the polls?

    I’ll believe it when I see a more credible poll. Though a 5% margin of error isn’t bad for the Conservative Party candidate.

  • “Maddeningly the Republican National Committee is pumping money into Scozzafava’s campaign and running adds against Hoffman. This is an excellent way to alienate the conservative base of the party. Idiocy, sheer idiocy.”

    THE GOP is doing what it is suppose too. At least some of them. The GOP is a party that has “moderates” too and we shall see what can of worms have been opened up by this.

    The problem is in New York and people would be much better off changing the leadership there in the party. THE prob;lem is not the National GOP.

    I hope I don’t wake up and see Republicans for Free Choice and the Olympia Snowes of the world campaigning for conservative yet pro choice “independents” against GOP pro-lifers we picked in our primary. If they do then a lot of people will not have a moral arguement against it

    I think in the long run this will backfire but again the GOP has no choice here. Unless we are taking a stand that local control of the party should be micromanaged from Washington?

  • My Lord! No other phrase captures what I am thinking other than “Idiocy!” How could the republicans be stupid? This is a telling display of how the republicans are losing voters. Pro life is 98% of the reason I vote at all yet alone republican. I wish they would get that through their heads…

  • It sounds a lot like the kind of craziness the GOP pulled on Congressman Paul in the 14th District of Texas. In ’96 they recruited the DEMOCRAT to switch parties and run as the G.O.P. -backed candidate. Paul was able to survive into the run-off , and then won by simply reminding everyone how liberal his ‘establishment’ opponent really was.

    If the Republicans insist on choosing ‘winners’ over their principles, I hope more and more people defect. They have not learned their lessons after 2006 and 2008.

  • Robert I agree with you in the need to keep the GOP as Pro-life as possible. But the problem here is not the National GOP but the New York GOP. Again do we really want the National GOP to decide what races it will fund and not fund. The local party in New York needs to change

  • jh is right. The national GOP cannot be expected to overrule the state GOP; that is just not realistic. NY conservatives cannot bolt from the GOP in favor of the NY Conservative Party and then feel entitled to get angry when the National GOP supports the GOP candidate over their own party candidate.

  • I’m nervous about the 23% that are undecided. Expect more of Scozzafava’s numbers to migrate to Hoffman and then hold your breath for the next 7-8 days!

  • The Republicans are showing their true colors – this is another momment of decision. Will the Republican party hold to authentic conservative and traditional values or will they be run by liberal, establishment Democrat-lite insiders?

    This is not a political question – it is a question of culture. Are conservatives and traditionalists strong and principled enough to rout the liars or will we be left with the choice of speedy progressives and not-so-fast progressives again?

    Goldwater, Reagan, Paul and Hoffman (and Palin) are examples of the people choosing principles over political-pragmatism. You can either change the Republican party or migrate to another. Perhaps the Conservative Party will grow and the Republican party die, or publically merge with the Democrats, rather than keep up the farce that they are two different parties. In fact, the Republicans and the Democrats are just slightly different factions of the same oligarchy.

  • NY conservatives cannot bolt from the GOP in favor of the NY Conservative Party and then feel entitled to get angry when the National GOP supports the GOP candidate over their own party candidate.

    Once more with feeling. Mr. Hoffmann is an enrolled Republican. Ten county chairmen in the North Country selected Mrs. Scozzafava as a candidate by a weighted vote among themselves per the Election Law of New York. There was no petition process or primary. The North Country is not the east side of Manhattan or Westchester. Common-and-garden Republicans can and do poll well there. The county chairmen have been playing an obscure insider game and expected (as New York pols do) that the electorate would suck it up (as that electorate generally does if you do not poison the water table or forthrightly and transparently raise their property taxes). These ten individuals cannot legitimately complain if their own committeemen flip them the bird, much less if everyone else does.

  • Art, I agree, and admit that you have a far better grasp of the facts than me. My only remaining point would be that it is difficult to expect the national GOP to ignore or overrule the decisions of the local GOP, regardless the mechanisms or machinations behind those local decisions. It would be different if the national GOP were complicit in such insider games, but no one has suggested that, but instead some seem to want to count deference to local decisions as complicity. That just strikes me as unfair and unrealistic.

Let's find the fallacy!

Tuesday, October 13, AD 2009

Yesterday The Nation‘s John Nichols wrote a rather scathing piece about President Obama: the piece is entitled “Whiner-in-Chief” and the first line reads, “The Obama administration really needs to get over itself.”

Of course, I tend to agree with perspectives like that. 🙂  But near the end of the piece Nichols tries to argue that the country isn’t as divided as the White House thinks, and along the way, he makes a heckuva non sequitur:

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4 Responses to Let's find the fallacy!

A Public Option: the Left's Waterloo?

Wednesday, August 19, AD 2009

Blackadder has had a couple very interesting posts lately arguing that a public health insurance program wouldn’t sound the death-knell to private insurance companies (and hence competition for the consumer) which many have been arguing it would.

What I find interesting is the vehemence of the left regarding a public option… consider this quote from a WaPo story today:

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12 Responses to A Public Option: the Left's Waterloo?

  • One wonders how many of the people now loudly insisting that a public option is essential to health care reform had even heard of the idea a year ago.

  • Chris,

    At the same time, we find in the same article indications that the GOP’s strategy is yet again merely to try to take down ObamaCare without proposing a real alternative… Sen. Kyl from Arizona and Rep. Price from Georgia both offer comments critical of the co-op proposal, but offer nothing as an alternative strategy. Perhaps this is just the WaPo reporter leaving them out, but I have my doubts.

    You’re simply repeating the left’s talking point that the Republican’s don’t offer alternative reforms. The Republicans have offered numerous times reforms which have been defeated by Democrats at every turn.

    – tort reform!
    – allowing individuals to deduct their private health care premiums
    – allowing small businesses to pool across state lines to purchase health insurance for their employees

    John McCain’s health care proposal included eliminating the employer deduction in favor of an individual tax credit, this would eliminate the majority of “previous condition” issues because people would not lose their coverage if they lose their job.

    At the current time, due to Democrat majorities in both houses the Republicans can not bring any of these proposals to the floor, and the media is not cooperating in getting them out to the public.

  • Fair enough, Matt. I guess I’d like to see a more coordinated communications strategy on the part of the GOP, then, to get their word out. If the media isn’t cooperating… go around them. It’s not impossible.

  • Chris,

    Fair enough, Matt. I guess I’d like to see a more coordinated communications strategy on the part of the GOP, then, to get their word out. If the media isn’t cooperating… go around them. It’s not impossible.

    I agree, if we don’t figure out how to do this, we will fail, regardless of unfairness.

  • Obama appears to be stuck. He wants to jettison the public option portion of his health care plan out of (legitimate) concern that it could bring down the entire bill. It appears, however, that the more left-wing Democrats won’t vote for a bill without a public option.

    I’m not really in the business of helping Obama out. However, it might be interesting to see what sort of concessions he would be willing to make in order to garner Republican support for a public plan. Suppose, for example, that the health care bill kept a public option but was altered to include some or all of the reform items Matt mentioned above. Wouldn’t such a bill be preferable to the status quo?

  • BA,

    Wouldn’t such a bill be preferable to the status quo?

    I’d still be concerned by a lot of the other interventions in the existing bill. Also, it seems like the trade-off from a “public” option would be a “co-op” option, which is funded by the government and controlled by the government as a sort of trojan horse government option.

  • As a tangent. The “Death Panels” were supposed to be a figment of the right’s imagination. I wonder how that plays given this:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204683204574358590107981718.html

  • It’s certainly interesting to see how firmly the left has latched on to the fairly anemic public option in the current plan.

    I wonder if some of this is that the second half of the 20th century wasn’t exactly kind to collectivist-minded idealogues. The ideas of Smith turned out to be a lot better at creating liveable societies than those of Marx. But health care has, to many, remained the one area in which people can convince themselves “market bad, centralized planning good”. As such, having the government provide health care has an appeal to partisan Democrats out of proportion to the amount of good that a particular program is likely to do.

  • One thing that bothers me is that all the fuss over the public option has allowed the abortion provision in the bill to go unchallenged. As Catholics are we really more concerned about the economic implications of the bill vs its deadly intent to fund infanticide?

  • Fr. Charlie,

    I thunk you’re mistaken, the outrage over the government No private or blocked number calls please takeover is multifaceted and it include opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion, and coercive euthanasia. I don’t think there’s a shortage of vocal opposition to any of these aspects.

    All of these elements are a natural extension of the government takeover. Even if hey weren’t mentioned in the law they would become enshrined in practice. That’s part of the reason Catholics should oppose any government takeover.

  • er.. think.

  • I would like to think you are right Matt, but I don’t know. While the Ins. companies need some serious regulation, I am totally opposed to a govt. run health care system. But at the end of the day, I can live with almost anything except publically-funded abortion and euthanasia. The “death-panel” campaign may have protected us on the latter, but besides the US Bishops Conf, I hear almost nothing in the public debate about abortion. What I am saying is that some of the energy needs to go into exposing what this bill will do to the unborn.

Party of God/Party of Satan?

Monday, June 22, AD 2009

I am not interested in having future fruitless arguments over whether or not the Republican or Democratic Party is pure evil or not. It is like the old canard comparing some contemporary American politician to Adolf Hitler- it is a deal-breaker. I am one who believes that truth in politics is pretty spread out among the various major and minor political parties- there are some huge moral gaps in all, so the choice of party for me is not based on trying to find the perfect Party of God here in America.

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12 Responses to Party of God/Party of Satan?

  • …but I also don’t believe that the mainstream Republican strategy of framing abortion rights as a state’s rights question is a legitimate pro-life solution.

    Hardly a fair assessment of the Republican strategy. The Republican platform calls for a Constitutional amendment to protect the right to life of the unborn from the moment of conception.

    Good luck with your project of bringing the Democrats around on the abortion issue, really.

  • Paul- three quick points- first thanks for the good will to wish me luck- prayers will do even better!

    Second- I am aware of the official platform, but to be honest I don’t think these platforms really drive the operations in the parties- they are nice and symbolic, and if I had seen the kind of energy from the national Republican leaders to push for such an Amendment during the 8 years of the Bush Admin, my heart might have been won over- but alas- it seems that all I hear from the actual candidates and reps during elections is that they have their personal beliefs about abortion being wrong, but really all they intend is to send it back to the states to decide- taking the Scalia/Thomas road to pro-State’s Rights, not natural law/pro-life. So, yes it is a few hairs more than the Democratic sell-out of the unborn, but it doesn’t cut it if we want to make the right to life a universal human right someday. There is sometimes a tyranny in popular opinion- and right now abortion is something that requires national leaders to take up their godly role, not pass the buck. Again, I am convinced that many of my friends who support the State’s rights approach to abortion are genuine in their position- they don’t see a way clear to what I propose without undermining the Rule of Law- I respect their reasoning, but I don’t accept it. What I propose will require a big turnaround inside the Democratic Party, which is why I am focusing my energies there. I will leave the Republican CAtholics to do the heavy lifting inside their chosen party. The big point in this submission is simply to say that there can be no debate or common ground if one is simply to assert that the Democratic or Republican parties are just pure evil and anyone associating or working within one or the other major Parties is in grave sin. That is the only point of no return for me when it comes to having a dialogue. I don’t view the parties as hopeless, just major basket cases- if I decide to break with the Dems it will be to go and try to form a Natural Law/Common Good Party- but right now that seems like a strategy that would give me pleasure, but I’m not convinced it would actually help reform American politics to help on the major issues of my discontent.

  • Great post. I agree with a good bit of it. I am really glad that certain people are not in charge of RCIA programs. One gets a sense that Republicans would have to repent in public of many supposed sins before being allowed to enter 🙂

    I am hoping the Church (in all its facets) does a better job of engaging both major parties

  • …if I had seen the kind of energy from the national Republican leaders to push for such an Amendment during the 8 years of the Bush Admin, my heart might have been won over- but alas- it seems that all I hear from the actual candidates and reps during elections is that they have their personal beliefs about abortion being wrong, but really all they intend is to send it back to the states to decide…

    Here, I wish I could contradict you, but I can’t. I share your frustration, the moreso because I am a Republican. So many missed opportunities.

    The only solution I can see is to find more pro-life candidates at every level of government; which is why I am running for the Illinois legislature.

  • I suspect the GOP would push it if the average pro-lifer in the pews would push it more.

    I mean I rarely hear about it.

  • “Good luck with your project of bringing the Democrats around on the abortion issue, really.”

    That’s precisely the problem. “Good luck with YOUR project.” Why is it only OUR project? Call me an idealist, but I thought we were in this together and I hardly see how we’re going to get that constitutional amendment, overturn Roe v. Wade, or get any federal pro-life legislation without the Democrats who are pro-life. Even with the GOP control of Congress, no pro-life legislation has ever passed without the 40 or so pro-life Democrats who get on board.

    I’m not justifying the actions or cowardliness that many pro-life Democrats have taken. But it seems that hardly any can rise because the funding isn’t there nor is the support.

    If I ran for office right now, health care and environmental lobbies won’t give me funding because I’m pro-life. Pro-life groups won’t give me funding because I’m a Democrat. In a Democratic primary, pro-choice groups and Democratic groups will back my opponent(s) and I would be outspent terribly.

    The problem for pro-life Democrats is not the general election. It seems that to me, a pro-life Democrat more often than not beats a Republican and solidly too. It is not the general that we have to worry about. We have to survive primaries and the party machine is set up in such a way that, that is an enormous, almost insurmountable task. What’s even worse is those who should be our true allies, don’t support us. And I’m not talking pseudo-pro-life Democrats — Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson etc — I’m talking the Robert Caseys who don’t quite get into the game, like Mr. Shipe here.

    I’m not all too sure if there’s ever really a second glance at a Democrats’ pro-life credentials once you see the “(D)” after his or her name. Maybe I’m wrong. I pray I am. But this “buck your party” and “then give us a call” business is beyond unfair.

    For every missed Republican opportunity, for every time the GOP machine has taken advantage of pro-lifers, or has failed on its promises, I would love to see a swarm of angry letters in the mail to Congress or a threat to not vote for them. But, oh….we can’t. If we vote against them, we get the opposition which is rabidly pro-abortion. So we’re locked in the box with no one to vote for except for the GOP…and they’re going to give this strategy up, why? For justice? I think that’s delusional. Sure, there are some sincere pro-life Republicans, but I don’t think the machine is selling the votes anytime soon.

    So if I can ask myself as a pro-life Democrat, why should I vote eagerly for the party establishment if they will not even consider my views? If the Democratic machine knew it could get my vote no matter what positions they took, they would have no reason to change it. In the same way, if the GOP does in fact take advantage of pro-life votes, if it does in fact pay “lip service” to the unborn and do minimal work to end abortion, then in fact, why sell your vote to an establishment that is at best lukewarm? I’m not saying vote for a pro-choice opponent. Vote for a different candidate in the primaries, at least abstain from voting for one (or however many) on the ballot, or at least raise awareness about that candidate. I don’t see the party getting more serious unless something is done.

    I hardly see as much energy spent at developing and maintaining real energy on abortion than I see on other issues and throwing the word “socialism” around. Like Mr. Shipe, had I seen one bill like the Right to Life Act or fetus-personhood bill, even make it off of committee for a vote I’d be in a different party. The Democrats are using the “reconciliation process” so that they ONLY need 50 votes to get a health care bill through the Senate. Why could the Republicans have not done that? I don’t see half the energy in fighting it than I do in talking about it or pointing to the failures of those on the other side. And this is hardly the point of pro-life Republican criticism.

    Again and again, we are told vote for “pro-life candidates.” Why is it then, there seems to be a distinction? It often strikes me as unspoken or perhaps unrealized. “Pro-life candidates” are Republicans. There is a distinction made for “Pro-life Democratic candidates” as if they were a whole and separate category.

    So, the project of voting for pro-life Republicans is an obligation to the unborn (one of which I am not disputing). But the possibility of crossing partylines to help gain a broader pro-life coalition across parties is not an obligation. It is a problem only for pro-life Democrats to worry about. The solidarity seems to break down here.

    How many pro-life Democrats have positions of leadership or head committees? The problem is, as long as they are the “freshman” and can’t form a meaningful coalition, the pro-abortion majority won’t see any reason to take them seriously.

    This isn’t helped by pro-life Democrats without so much as a blink voting for pro-abortion candidates. However, neither are we helped by those from the other side who wouldn’t so much as lift a finger.

    We talk about double standards a lot in politics. Is this not a double standard?

    Forgive me here, but at least I can acknowledge and blatantly point out the obvious failures of pro-life Democrats. We have some serious issues that need to be worked out. However, I sure as hell don’t think we’re the party that is going to end abortion. I don’t think Republicans will end abortion. Pro-life American people will end abortion.

    Pro-choice Americans are marching in lock-step. The pro-life house is divided against itself. Can we not find some consensus on this? Lord, Have Mercy On Us.

  • Just a few points here, Eric…

    That’s precisely the problem. “Good luck with YOUR project.” Why is it only OUR project?

    Because I’m a Republican; I have no capacity to reform the Democratic Party. I’m working on the reform of the GOP. Race you?

    It seems that to me, a pro-life Democrat more often than not beats a Republican and solidly too.

    That’s because so many people assume that the “pro-life” Democrat doesn’t really mean it. Does the name Bob Casey, Jr., ring a bell?

    I’m not all too sure if there’s ever really a second glance at a Democrats’ pro-life credentials once you see the “(D)” after his or her name. Maybe I’m wrong.

    And maybe you’re not. When I see the “D” after a name, I want to know what’s wrong with a person’s pro-life sensibilities that they would be part of the party of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius, and the rest of the crowd who lie about abortion and about pro-lifers in order to keep abortion money coming in. My suspicion is, I think, understandable.

    But, oh….we can’t. If we vote against them, we get the opposition. So we’re locked in the box with no one to vote for except for the GOP…and they’re going to give this strategy up, why?

    And the Democratic Party is going to make a home for these disappointed pro-life voters… when?

    Both parties are becoming increasingly pro-abortion. The GOP can only abandon the pro-life issue because the Democrats did so long ago.

    But the possibility of crossing partylines to help gain a broader pro-life coalition across parties is not an obligation. It is a problem only for pro-life Democrats to worry about. The solidarity seems to break down here.

    In my area, my state rep is a pro-abort Republican. If the Democrats were to put up a pro-life opponent, I would support that candidate. But last year, they ran no one in the primary, and slated a pro-choice accountant for the general, whom the incumbent succeeding in getting removed from the ballot on a technicality.

    But let the Dems offer me a real choice, and I’ll take a good look.

    This year, with no rumors of an opponent in the (Feb. 2010) primary, I have entered the race myself, unprepared and inadequate though I may be.

    We talk about double standards a lot in politics. Is this not a double standard?

    Not that I can see. I want the best pro-life candidate I can find. After that, I want the candidate I think is best on other issues, too. A pro-life Democrat isn’t likely to get my vote over a pro-life Republican.

    I personally have never seen a ballot that had a pro-life Democrat against a pro-choice Republican. I suspect that pro-life Dems run against pro-life Republicans for purely partisan reasons. I rarely see much Democratic opposition to pro-choice Republicans.

  • Paul,

    Together, we uphold the status quo quite nicely.

    I’m a Democrat because I feel profoundly that God wants to me sitting at a table with particular sinners for a particular reason–warring that sin as an “enemy from within.”

    I never imagined it would be easy or simple. I didn’t even think it would come without suspicion from others who disagree with me. I doubt that’s avoidable in this life.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I’m meant to do it. In fact, what convinces me that it is my vocation is that it scares the daylights out of me. The media will love the election of a homosexual Catholic who opposes same-sex marriage, civil unions, domestic partnership, gay adoption, etc etc.

    So, indeed, Paul. Race you.

    I’ll continue to profoundly disagree with you on this, as on other matters (obviously).

    Good luck with your campaign. I’ll pray for you and probably, sooner rather than later, I’ll help fund it.

  • Thanks Eric, I’ll say a Hail Mary for you too.

  • One problem we have Eric is Democrats who run as pro-lifers and who then convert to the pro-abort cause after they get elected. Believe it or not, Dick Durbin, pro-abort Senator from my state, ran as a pro-lifer to win a congressional seat from Paul Findley, a Republican pro-abort. Durbin received a huge amount of support from pro-life Republicans around Illinois, and I have no doubt that Durbin would not have been elected in downstate Springfield without that support.
    http://www.illinoisfamily.org/informed/contentview.asp?c=27439

    Enough Democrats have pulled this trick to give many pro-lifers concern about the bona fides of a Democrat running as a pro-lifer. It is a shame that this impacts truly pro-life Democrats, but that is the situation.

  • If I held every single Republican politician accountable for my suspicion of a pro-life facade that I generally suspected, I wouldn’t vote for any of them and support third party candidates, or write-in candidates.

  • Eric, how many Republicans can you name that were elected as pro-lifers and then became pro-aborts?

You Mean Running Up Trillions in New Debt May Not Be Good Politics?

Tuesday, June 16, AD 2009

Obama Broke

The Washington Post reported Sunday here, hattip to Instapundit, that the White House is getting nervous about the political fallout from the unprecedented spend-and-borrow binge upon which  Obama has placed the country.

“Results from a Gallup survey released last week show that although more than six in 10 Americans approve of Obama’s overall job performance, fewer than half say they approve of how he is handling the deficit and controlling federal spending. The poll also shows a decline from the previous month in the percentage of Americans who approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, although a majority still does.”

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15 Responses to You Mean Running Up Trillions in New Debt May Not Be Good Politics?

  • There you go again. Donald, do you understand the difference between a cyclical and a structural deficit? Are you aware that the vast majority of the increase in the deficit right now is cyclical?

    Let me ask you: how much of the fiscal turnarond since the last surplus is due to Obama’s discretionary spending? I’m talking from 2001 to 2012, so it captures the medium-term fiscal plans of the Obama administration. Well, 37 percent is the business cycle. 33 percent is discretionary policy under Bush – chiefly tax cuts and war spending. 11 percent comes from the continuing cost of Bush era programs that Obama has kept up (there’s your war again). Obama’s stimulus bill accounts for only 7 percent, and his proposed spending health, education, and energy account for a another 3 percent. [http://vox-nova.com/2009/06/10/blame-bush-and-the-recession/]

    As fiscal expert (and hawk) Alan Auerbach notes, the worst charge you can levy against Obama is that he is not making a concerted effort to fix the sustainability problems left by the Bush administration.

    And these numbers may actually over-estimate the impact of Obama on the budget. As TNR’s Jonathan Chait points out, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities crunched the numbers, and found that Obama’s budget would reduce the budget by $900 billion over ten years compared with keeping current policies in place [http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/06/11/the-truth-about-obama-and-the-deficit.aspx]

    But you are right about one thing, Donald– Obama is getting blamed for this because people like you (and I include most political pundits here) simply do not understand the basic fiscal math.

  • Tony, your frantic efforts to provide cover for the completely insane spending policies of the Obama administration indicates to me that the Left in this country will soon be in full melt-down mode by the Fall as the country fully awakens to the disaster of the course on which Obama has embarked the nation. As Robert Samuelson has noted:

    “Let’s see. From 2010 to 2019, Obama projects annual deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that’s atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009. By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70 percent, up from 41 percent in 2008. That would be the highest since 1950 (80 percent). The Congressional Budget Office, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82 percent.

    But wait: Even these totals may be understated. By various estimates, Obama’s health plan might cost $1.2 trillion over a decade; Obama has budgeted only $635 billion. Next, the huge deficits occur despite a pronounced squeeze of defense spending. From 2008 to 2019, total federal spending would rise 75 percent, but defense spending would increase only 17 percent. Unless foreign threats recede, military spending and deficits might both grow.

    Except from crabby Republicans, these astonishing numbers have received little attention — a tribute to Obama’s Zen-like capacity to discourage serious criticism. Everyone’s fixated on the present economic crisis, which explains and justifies big deficits (lost revenue, anti-recession spending) for a few years. Hardly anyone notes that huge deficits continue indefinitely.”

    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/05/barack_obamas_risky_deficit_sp.html

    Contrary to your final statement, people are beginning to understand the basic fiscal math. That is Obama’s problem and yours.

  • the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities crunched the numbers

    That is a small advocacy group which is an auxilliary of the Democratic Congressional Caucus. Their number should not be cited as authoritative.

  • Donald,

    Answer this question: how much of the increase in the deficit over these years is caused by (i) the economy; (ii) the inherited legacy of the Bush years (tax cuts, war, medicare part D); (iii) new policies of the Obama administration? Tell me.

    There’s something else. One reason why the deficit look so high going out is that Obama has gotten rid of all the fiscal gimmicry that made the deficit look artificially low under Bush.

    Here’s Chait: “In recent years, Congress and the president have relied on a series of budget gimmicks to mask the size of the deficit. For instance, they would assume that certain tax breaks would expire starting a year in the future, but routinely extend them a year at a time. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s numbers, Obama’s budget–compared to continuing current policies–would make the deficit $900 billion lower over the next decade.”

    Another issue — you do understand that high deficits does not mean unsustainable deficits, right?

  • Tony, the matterhorn of new debt is all a deliberate policy choice of Obama and all completely unnecessary. He could still attempt to change course. A good start would be to repeal the stimulus package.

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office’s numbers, Obama’s budget–compared to continuing current policies–would make the deficit $900 billion lower over the next decade.”

    So the gimmick-ditching explains $90bn per year. And the rest?

    The stimulus wouldn’t have been remotely as bad had more than 20% of it actually been devoted to infrastructure improvements. Instead, it was an election lottery splurge.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2009/02/01/GR2009020100154.html

  • IT is a scandal. THe real scandal is that both Republicans democrats did not heed Bush’s call to so something about Social Security. I think it is the height of folly not to take care of that first.

    What is driving the future deficts is not really Bush Spending that in many ways were a samll structural deficit. And it is not Medicare D. It is going to to be the other parts of medicare and such.

    Heck balming anyone for that is ort of silly unless we want to blame Johnson.

  • Not to fear, Obama’s soon to be on Rushmore. (Okay, at least near there.) So all is well.

    http://www.blackhillsportal.com/npps/story.cfm?ID=3078

  • Answer this question: how much of the increase in the deficit over these years is caused by (i) the economy; (ii) the inherited legacy of the Bush years (tax cuts, war, medicare part D); (iii) new policies of the Obama administration? Tell me.

    You may be correct on the factual point. The trouble with your discussion is that the numbers your citing are derived from projections for which the methodology employed is very much a black box. Jonathan Chait is an opinion journalist making use of the product of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities appears to have bulked up considerably in the last 25 years (I believe they once employed about 15 people) and unlike other such agencies (e.g. The Century Foundation) does generally employ properly credentialed individuals. Have a look at their site. I think you will look in vain for a refereed academic paper or for a working paper composed in a similar format and idiom. It is a cottage manufactory of press releases and Congressional testimony. Most of their fellows have been recruited from the Democratic legislative staff either of the U.S. Congress or of one or another state legislature. Others were hired off the research staffs of public employee unions. Asking these characters who is responsible for what is very much like asking Democratic members of Congress. That does not mean that they are wrong; however, consulting this source is not an optimal use of your time (or Mr. McClarey’s).

    One problem he only alludes to tangentially and you do not allude to has been the determination of Mr. Geithner (and Mr. Paulson, and various other rogues) to socialize as much as possible the cost of righting the banking system and to effect industrial restructurings so as to serve the interests of Democratic constituency groups. The higher the ratio of public debt to domestic product the more we are in danger of a currency crisis. Given that the propensity to public expenditure tends to explode during banking crises, it is simply awful timing to be attempting to effect what will without a doubt be a notable increase in the baseline of economic activity accounted for by the government’s purchase of goods and services. However, in Washington, in Albany, and in Sacramento, our politicians seem incapable of putting aside for even eighteen months their rancid ambitions and crappy little games to address a national crisis. Joseph Nocera is right, “worst political class, ever”.

  • THe real scandal is that both Republicans democrats did not heed Bush’s call to so something about Social Security.

    Adjusting tax rates, benefit levels, and the retirement age will right Social Security. It is not that difficult; it is that they are too irresponsible and poltroonish to do it.

    More salient, given our current circumstances, is the failure of Congress to heed the recommendations of Gregory Mankiw (the Chairman of Mr. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors) to address the dodgy accounting practices and undercapitalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The individual most responsible for this resistance was Barney Frank.

  • A number of points:

    * There is indeed a long-term fiscal sustainbility problem, but it has nothing to do with social secuity. The beltway talking heads just don’t get this — social security is fine, nearly all of the sustainablity comes from medicare.

    * Medicare is unsustainable because of escalating costs. See Peter Orczag’s editorical in today’s Financial Times. But here’s the rub: medicare costs are out of control because healthcare costs in general are out of control. In fact, medicare does a better than of keeping costs down than its private alternatives, but it’s still not enough. A great fallacy here is that because it’s on the government balance sheet, the sky is falling, but when it’s on the household balance sheet, we don’t have to worry about it. Much of the reason for stagnating median wages is the huge rise in healthcare costs – workers are sacrificing wages for this. So this has nothing to do with Johnson and medicare specifically, it has to do with costs.

    * Yes, the governance problems that led to the undercapitalization of the GSEs was a problem, but it had nothing to do with the financial crisis, which erupted in the private securitization markets. That’s where the vast majority of the credit losses lie, and for a very good reason — subprime loans (those things that triggered the crisis) were nearly all in the private sector.

    * I actually don’t know much about the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but their analysis certainly raises no red flags. And if you don’t believe them, then you are at the baase-case scenario whereby Obama contributyed about 10 percent of the deficit, instead of actually reducing it on net. Jon Chait tried to delve into the differing methodologies – it’s all rather technical– one big issue is whetther the tax credits that get renewed pretty much every year, long before Obama, should get pinned on Obama.

  • Yes, the governance problems that led to the undercapitalization of the GSEs was a problem, but it had nothing to do with the financial crisis, which erupted in the private securitization markets. That’s where the vast majority of the credit losses lie, and for a very good reason — subprime loans (those things that triggered the crisis) were nearly all in the private sector.

    Rubbish. The mortgage portfolios of Fannie and Freddie constituted half of the secondary mortgage market and their bond issues constituted about two-thirds of all securitized receivables. The threat to the solvency of institutions comes not merely from subprime and alt-A loans (16% of the total) but from the prime loans of borrowers under water and out of work. It was not until August of 2008 that the national economy began to contract and a disagreeable condition in credit markets turned into a crisis precisely at the time a conservatorship had to be imposed on Fannie and Freddie. A trillion dollars worth of illiquid Fannie and Freddie issues are on the books of depository institutions in this country, and a trillion dollars worth of Fannie and Freddie issues were sold abroad, much of it ending up in the portfolios of sovereign wealth funds in the Far East. It is Fannie and Freddie issues that will (alas) be added to the national debt. It is Fannie and Freddie’s deficits that are being financed to the tune of tens of billions of dollars every quarter.

    Once more with feeling: it is a suboptimal use of your time to consult the work product of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, whether you believe them or not. There is so much literature out there from more credible venues, though it might not be sufficiently topical for your purposes. I cannot figure how Jonathan Chait is supposed to produce a ‘rather technical’ discussion when his source is not producing much in the way of technical discussions.

  • Much of the reason for stagnating median wages is the huge rise in healthcare costs – workers are sacrificing wages for this. So this has nothing to do with Johnson and medicare specifically, it has to do with costs.

    You mean the escalation of costs has nothing to do with the socialization of costs. Okey doke.

  • Art Deco — I’m sorry, but your analysis of the subprime crisis could not be more off. The GSEs had a major balance sheet expansion in the 1990s, but this had largely stopped during the “subprime years” of 2004-07. If you look at data from the Fed:

    More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.

    Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.

    Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that’s being lambasted by conservative critics.

    (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/53802.html)

    During those years, it was the private investment banks gobbling up securitzied subprime loans, not the GSEs — the GSEs held only a quarter of subprime loans sold on the secondary market.

    Another way to look at it is to see where the bodies are buried – the GSEs account for a tiny proportion (certainly less than 10 percent) of estimated credit losses out there.

    Today, of course, it’s a different story — the private securization market is dead, and the GSEs basically are the market.

  • Subprime loans constituted about 8% of all outstanding mortgage debt as of 2007. It has been a modest part of the overall problem.