Monday, January 30, 2012

New at Live Action - Kansas Judges in Hot Water for Donating to Pro-Life Cause

A bit of a scandal is brewing in Kansas over two sitting judges, Eric Yost and Jeffrey Goering, who have each donated $100 to the Kansans for Life PAC, yet have not recused themselves from abortion-related cases. This is perfectly legal in Kansas, but not everyone is satisfied:
“Judges are held to the highest conduct standards, and they should be,” said Adam Skaggs, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school. “The best practice is going to be to avoid contributing to political organizations because of the inevitable appearance of partiality that those kinds of donations create.”
Kansas Sen. John Vratil, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and an attorney, said he wants to examine the state’s rule for political contributions by judges.
“It can’t be good for the judiciary because it reflects on their impartiality,” Vratil said.
While the Kansas Code of Judicial Ethics broadly prohibits activities that appear to present a conflict of interest, it also specifically allows judges chosen in partisan elections – as Yost and Goering were – to make contributions to political organizations “at any time.”
The federal court system’s Code of Conduct forbids judges from contributing to specific parties and candidates for office, but doesn’t explicitly say they can’t donate to issue-based organizations.
Read the rest at Live Action.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sarah Palin's Credibility Is the Latest Casualty of Gingrich's Campaign

I was so disgusted by Sarah Palin's Facebook note pushing the Big Lie that Newt Gingrich is a conservative outsider persecuted by a malevolent Republican "Establishment" that I've been considering taking the time to write a response. Fortunately, Jonathan Tobin at Commentary saved me the trouble by penning a concise explanation of just how badly Palin mangled the truth:
She claimed former Reagan administration officials who noted this week Gingrich was anything but a loyal soldier of the 40th president were engaged in a “Stalin-esque rewriting of history.” This is not merely nonsensical, it is illustrative of the defects in her own character and intellect that have led many of us who once cheered her rise to conclude that she has no business ever putting herself forward for high office again.

While Gingrich supported Reagan and Mitt Romney did not, those who pointed out the former speaker’s often petulant and negative comments about the leader of his movement were merely illuminating a little-known aspect of the truth, not “re-writing” it. For Palin to use that over-the-top rhetoric — in effect comparing someone like Elliott Abrams to a communist monster — is contemptible. For her to go on in the same piece to say Gingrich’s critics were employing “Alinsky tactics at their worst” shows again she understands little about either Saul Alinsky’s writings or history.

While Palin and Gingrich have little in common, the one characteristic they do share is hypocrisy. In her posting, Palin claims Mitt Romney needs to be “vetted” more thoroughly because Democrats will attack him in the fall. Yet she considers any attempt to give the same attention to Gingrich, a man with a freight train’s worth of damaging personal and political baggage that renders him unlikely to win a general election, to be above such concerns.
Go read the whole thing. If you're still on the fence about Palin, consider three more salient points. First, Palin wasn't troubled by Republicans using left-wing tactics when Gingrich and Rick Perry were leveling their class-warfare smears at Bain Capital: she dismissed those as the routine "rough and tumble" of politics and falsely claimed that Perry was merely questioning Mitt Romney's job-creation claims. Second, David Swindle notes that Gingrich says he'd put Palin in his administration, which just might be relevant to her Newt endorsement-in-everything-but-name. Third, if she's so concerned about Republicans using "Alinsky tactics at their worse," then perhaps she should read Phillip Klein's piece on Gingrich's own cribbing from Saul's playbook.

I've written a lot on Sarah Palin's behalf over the years, most of which I still stand by, since she was the victim of many specific false charges that nobody should be subjected to. But in light of her latest attacks on whoever won't fall in line behind Gingrich, it must be conceded that she is first and foremost a populist opportunist, not a principled leader of true grassroots conservatism. Her actions have confirmed the pattern that she began in endorsing Rand Paul in the 2010 Kentucky primary: making decisions based not an a careful reading of candidates' merits, but on a completely superficial assessment of who insists "I'm an outsider!" the hardest. I can't sum it up better than Tobin:
Palin, who seems far more interested in burnishing her image than actually helping her party, manages to keep her name in the news every now and then with statements such as this one. But her problem is the more she talks, the more she reminds us why she has doomed herself to the margins of political discourse.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New at Live Action - Michelle Obama Fails Women Victimized by Planned Parenthood

At Live Action, I have a new post on how the First Lady is helping pro-aborts pretend they have women's best interests at heart:
Traditionally, the wives of Presidents use their role as First Lady of the United States to champion feel-good, relatively nonpartisan causes. Rosalynn Carter promoted the arts. Laura Bush spoke about reading. Current First Lady Michelle Obama’s cause has been encouraging healthy habits among children. But as Steven Ertelt reports, some of Mrs. Obama’s guests at a recent Women of Courage Award ceremony send a much darker message:

The award recipients were also invited to the White House event that commemorated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and recognizing March as Women’s History Month in the United States. However, the president of the national Planned Parenthood abortion business was there. Cecile Richards sent a message on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that she was “Celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama.”
Read the rest here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rick Santorum, Individual Mandates, and Why Gingrich Apologists Deserve Romney (UPDATED)

Especially since the field narrowed, a big part of Rick Santorum's appeal is that he's the only serious candidate who has never supported an individual mandate to purchase health insurance, and he's darn good at explaining why. Earlier this morning, the Right Scoop posted a story which initially threatened to undermine that by suggesting he had supported one in 1994. Fortunately, the Right Scoop updated the original post with more information revealing that the initial characterization of Santorum's position was incorrect, and then with a 1994 video of Santorum passionately arguing against any such mandate.

Last night, David Freddoso said he "will never understand how Newt became a more acceptable not-Romney than Santorum." That's easily the biggest, most tragic absurdity of this entire primary: People are desperate for a more reliably conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, which is understandable, but instead of the obvious choice right in front of them, so many rally around a candidate that's just as ideologically compromised as Romney, far more personally compromised, and is arguably running on a less conservative platform than Romney. And they're not only rallying around him, but making support for him into an idiotic grassroots-vs.-establishment litmus test. If Romney winds up as the nominee, these shortsighted hypocrites will have nobody to blame but themselves. They certainly won't be able to blame me - I'm voting for the conservative.

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard's Jeffrey Anderson says Santorum has misrepresented Gingrich on healthcare, because the mandate isn't his current position. But I think Santorum's point is that, if Gingrich has repeatedly expressed support for the idea at the federal level and even endorsed RomneyCare in 2006, then you have to wonder just how sincere his current position is. Or are last-minute flip-flops only wrong when Mitt Romney does them?


I Surrender

I gave in. After years of resistance, I finally bit the bullet and started a Twitter account. After about a day of use, I admit there's a certain appeal to quickly and easily firing off bite-size commentary, and I see how it could be useful in spreading ideas, but for me the jury's still out on just how valuable an addition it'll be. In any event, here I am. On Twitter. Yay?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Which a Newt Gingrich Apologist Transcends Self-Parody

Ann Coulter had it exactly right yesterday when she took aim at the way Gingrich's apologists have, almost overnight, emptied the word "Establishment" of nearly all meaning. The most preposterous example to date has to come from noted hack Erick Erickson in this Twitter exchange. In response to someone else's (manifestly false) claim that "all the GOP insider[s] who bash Newt chose Crist over Rubio," Erickson replied, "And supported Harriet Miers."

You can probably see the punchline coming from a mile away. Guess who else supported Harriet Miers?

If your answer was "Newt Gingrich," give yourself a hand.

So we now live in a world where "true conservatives" must circle the wagons around Newt Gingrich to stand up to undefined "elites" who are evil because they do things like agree with Newt Gingrich on Supreme Court nominees.


It's insanity like this that makes me question why I ever bothered to get a degree in Politics.

New at American Thinker - Doubting Daniels

I've got a new post up at American Thinker, which elaborates on my deep skepticism toward Mitchmania. Here's an excerpt:
For starters, I must have been watching a different channel Tuesday night, because I certainly didn't see a rhetorical tour de force. Though well-constructed as prose, the text of Daniels' speech fell short as argument because it was high on generalities and platitudes, but decidedly lacking in clear specifics about either Obama's abysmal presidency or the content of his address. Daniels' assertion that America's challenges "aren't matters of ideology" but "simply mathematical" problems with "purely practical" answers is the polar opposite of reality.

And if the content was lacking, the delivery was worse -- Daniels' dry, monotone presentation came across as a lack of passion that undermined what little force his words held. If someone really believes 2012 is "maybe our last" chance to save the country, you'd expect him to get a little emotional about it. Do these people really not understand that people flocked to Gingrich because he channels not just disagreement, but righteous indignation at what Obama is doing to their country?
Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Return of the Daniels Delusion

So there's a new website collecting signatures to urge Mitch Daniels to throw his hat into the presidential ring.

Er, why?

This is the guy who 1) issued an idiotic call for a delusional, undefined “truce” on social issues; 2) wasn't exactly a fiscal crusader either as Bush's OMB director or as Governor of Indiana; 3) caved on Right to Work in Indiana; 4) pushed an ObamaCare-stylestate health plan of his own; 5) came out against an Arizona-style immigration law, and advocated dropping the “law enforcement provisions that have been the ones that have bothered most people”; and supports 6) a value-added tax, 7) a tax on imported oil, and 8) risky defense cuts. 

So please, explain to me what void in the current field Mitch Daniels fills? What qualities does he bring to the table that make him particularly well-suited to either defeat Barack Obama or be a particularly effective president?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In Defense of National Review Against the Right's Daily Kos

We’re currently witnessing the death throes of Rick Perry’s campaign. He finished fifth in Iowa, sixth in New Hampshire, and is currently polling fifth in South Carolina, where his fans have placed their hope for a turnaround. He’s in sixth in Florida, and fifth place nationally.

In a final, desperate search for something that can turn his fortunes around, Perry has decided to join Newt Gingrich's leftist attack on Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. It backfired. Badly.

Perry and Gingrich’s demagoguery has been fiercely condemned by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Jim DeMint, the American Spectator, National Review, Reason, the Weekly Standard, Human Events, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, Commentary, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Michelle Malkin, Charles Krauthammer, Power Line's John Hindraker, Ace of Spades, American Enterprise Institute, the Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, ex-Perry financial supporter Barry Wynn, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and PJ Media head Roger Simon, who very candidly apologized for having ever backed Perry, calling him “less qualified, it turns out, to be president than my dead grandmother.”

In other words, Rick Perry (and Newt Gingrich) has offended just about every corner of the Right—traditional and libertarian, moderate and hardcore, establishment and grassroots, commentator and activist, blogosphere and radio, Mitt fans, competitors, and haters alike.

Everyone, that is, except for RedState. Erick Erickson first said he didn’t mind the attacks (with Perry’s version “a bit more carefully nuanced” than Newt’s), then revised his argument to, yeah, but why did Romney support TARP? (Maybe for the same reason Perry did too, Erick?), and later wrote a post conceding the attack “has gotten out of hand”—while falsely claiming Bain got government bailouts and lying about what Perry’s critics were saying: “the sudden decision that it is verboten to level any attack at Romney because of Bain […] corporations should not be immune from criticism.”

The other front-pagers have rationalized the attack, mildly criticized it amidst teeth-gnashing about Romney’s general awfulness, and complained that it was distracting us from bashing Romney on healthcare. The strategy is simple: maintain the single-minded focus on taking down Romney at all costs, while discussing Perry as little as possible, refusing to give a moment’s consideration as to how Perry’s own words just might undermine RedState’s increasingly-hysterical insistence of Perry’s unique conservative authenticity. 

The shameless Perry-whoring is pathetic enough, but recently the site jumped the shark past “pathetic” straight to “obscene” with Thomas Crown's attack on National Review. After assuring us what a good friend he is to everyone at NR, he tells the magazine “you have lost your way” for no discernable sin other than preferring Romney to Perry:
You have alienated yourself from your readership and your movement […] You have forgotten that one of the founding creeds of the modern conservative movement is A Choice, Not An Echo […] You are supposed to be a beacon of what is best in us, not a reminder that some days, you just can’t win […] It’s a shame, and we’re all poorer for it. We’ll miss you, and hope you come back to us some day.
Nearly 2,000 words, and yet Crown can’t squeeze in the most important part of any argument: the facts to substantiate his thesis. All he has is a handful of lazy mischaracterizations of both the candidates and NR’sWinnowing the Field” editorial:
Consider that in one fell swoop the publication managed to dismiss the longest-serving governor in the nation, with a record of conservative governance unmatched by any governor current or recent past [if you ignore the liberal parts of his governorship and his flip-flop record…oh, and how many of those Texas jobs went to illegals?], linking him unsubtly to a crank known for conspiracy theories and Ron Paul [nowhere in NR's passage on Perry & Paul do the even remotely link the two, though since Crown raises the subject, Perry has praised Paul more than once]; praise Mitt Romney, who while apparently a model conservative (the sort who helps get abortion funding in state-run mandatory health insurance) [not true]  has failed to seal the deal with conservatives for some unknowable reason; praise Jon Huntsman, whose entire campaign was a John Weaver special from tip to tail (this is not a compliment) [fair enough, but hypocritical: RedState’s had plenty of praise for Huntsman, too]; and praise Rick Santorum, one of the greatest (if dimmest) champions the pro-life movement has had, and who was so conservative he went to war for massive increases in federal spending almost every day, [that’s exaggerating a blemish on an otherwise-excellent conservative record] and whose greatest knock is not his loss to an anodyne nobody by a margin that made even the rest of 2006 look like a joke [also oversimplifying], but rather a lack of executive experience [Fair enough, but still hardly indicative of any problem at NR].
Crown’s fantasy of Perry support being some sort of conservative litmus test doesn’t hold up, and neither does the idea that National Review has sold out to Romney (a smear that RedState has peddled before). In fact, since Erick Erickson and Thomas Crown are so interested in which publications have put personality above principle, let’s do a little comparison:  

At National Review, I can read Ramesh Ponnuru endorse Mitt Romney and Kathryn Lopez vouch for his pro-life sincerity, but I can also read Michael Walsh argue he’s "plainly not" the "candidate the hour calls for" and Katrina Trinko report on jobs lost due to Romneycare. I can read the Editors disqualify Newt Gingrich from consideration, but I can also read Thomas Sowell endorse Gingrich (twice) and Jonah Goldberg credit him as “the only candidate to actually move government rightward." I can read Shannen Coffin criticize Rick Perry's Gardasil mandate, but I can also read Henry Miller and John Graham defend it, as well as Christian Schnieder defend Perry on in-state tuition for illegals. I can read Quin Hillyer defend Rick Santorum’s small-government credentials, but I can also read Michael Tanner and Jonathan Adler blast his “big government conservatism.”     

Can I read substantive defenses of Mitt Romney, or substantive criticisms of Rick Perry, at RedState? Only from the occasional diarist who hasn’t been driven away by the thought police. From Erickson or the team writers? Don’t count on it. As John Scotus documents, Erickson’s been shilling for Perry since Day 1. The RedState narrative is that Perry’s the only candidate who “authentically represents smaller government,” “by far, the greatest alpha male conservative in a generation,” and supporting anyone else would be settling. The dark side of Perry’s record was almost completely ignored. Romney, however, is routinely characterized as the worst thing to happen to the GOP since John Wilkes Booth. Why, nominating him would kill conservatism! Perry critics and Romney sympathizers are routinely harassed. Erickson repeated Perry’s dishonest attacks on Romney over education and imposing Romneycare nationally, and even calls Romney a bad Mormon

National Review has an editorial leaning toward Romney; RedState toward Perry. There’s no shame in either, but while the former publication is a place where dissent thrives and every candidate is given equal fairness and scrutiny, the latter has dedicated itself fully to a biased image of their guy and their designated anti-Perry.

And yet, Thomas Crown has the nerve to lecture National Review about being unfair to candidates? RedState is the only major conservative venue not disgusted with Perry’s “vulture capitalism” smears, and yet National Review is the one somehow out of step with conservatism?

Which publication lost its way again?

We shouldn’t be surprised that the website that smeared Michelle Malkin for criticizing Rick Perry would conduct itself so dishonorably throughout this campaign. Until Eagle Publishing realizes how far one of their publications has fallen and replaces Erickson Erickson with someone committed to cleaning it up, whatever use RedState once was to the conservative movement will continue to be outweighed by the stench Erickson has allowed to permeate it.

In the meantime, I’m sticking with National Review.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rick Santorum for President

In August, I wrote that I considered Rick Santorum the best potential president in the Republican field, but that his campaign just didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I endorsed Michele Bachmann, who was just as conservative, a fighter, and (implausible as it seems now) had real traction. As Bachmann's chronic foot-in-mouth disease proved terminal, I withdrew my support for her, but declined to pick someone else. I flirted with the idea of a conscience vote for Santorum in the Wisconsin primary, but overall had resigned myself to the likelihood that I'd end up voting for Mitt Romney again (who, for the record, I still prefer to Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry).

Well, I've never been happier to be proven wrong. Santorum surpassed expectations in Iowa this week, winning just eight votes fewer than Romney with far less money. And while an Iowa win is hardly determinative of how the rest of the campaign will pan out, and Santorum will certainly face an uphill battle, it was important for two reasons: it proved that his campaign organization is the real deal, and it forced lots of people to really look at Santorum for the first time. And this is what they saw:


An articulate, likeable figure who oozes confidence and conviction, and who displays a deep understanding of the challenges facing America and concrete ideas about how to solve them. A full-spectrum conservative with a record of credibility and leadership on economics, foreign policy, and social issues. A man who has lived his public convictions in his private life. A man of deep faith who isn't afraid to oppose his faith's leaders when they're wrong. And a man whose record of success is better than you may have heard.

A perfect candidate? Not at all. But his mistakes are forgivable, and they pale in comparison to those of his competitors.

Santorum will still face a tough fight for the nomination, but hardly an unwinnable one. His team is efficient and effective. Rasmussen already has him in second place nationally. His newfound attention and momentum could very well translate to the financial boost he needs to compete on a larger scale. He'll have talk radio giants like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck boosting him far earlier than the Right's talkers took sides in the race last time around. Gingrich probably won't be making many new friends. A Perry rebound is possible, but I doubt it. Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman aren't even worth mentioning. I just don't see where else those desperately seeking a more conservative candidate than Romney would logically go.

As for the general election, Santorum actually has arguably the best chance to defeat Barack Obama. His case against the incumbent will be bold and eloquent. The above video demonstrates his ability to naturally connect with working-class voters. No sex or corruption scandals will be dug up. All three legs of the conservative stool will be energized. The Left will deploy grotesque caricatures of Santorum's moral views, but as long as his campaign refutes them promptly, visibly, and succinctly, they won't work - being pro-life is a net political gain, and while things could change, it's not for nothing that Obama still can't bring himself to embrace gay marriage.

Ladies and gentlemen of the conservative movement, it's been a long, frustrating, demoralizing haul, but there's no need for pessimism anymore. We finally have our standard-bearer, and Barack Obama has met his match. Vote Rick Santorum for President.
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