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Natural-Born Citizens

August 28th, 2013 1 comment

Is Ted Cruz, born abroad to an American mother and a non-American father, eligible to be President?

In nontechnical discourse people both now and in 1789 would no doubt divide citizens up into the two categories of natural-born and naturalized— so that natural-born would include anybody who was born a citizen, and if you weren’t naturalized, you must be natural-born.

The word “natural” is needed because to say “born citizen” doesn’t sound right—- it sounds as if it’s in distinction to citizens who came out of test tubes. The word “born” is needed because to say “natural citizen” makes it sound like someone who is just a natural American because he’s loves apple pie and football even though he’s Slovakian, or that I’m alluding to some sort of natural law concept of citizenship.

Categories: Constitution, elections, Uncategorized Tags:

Out of 1,791 IRS lawyers, 38 made big contributions to Democracts and 2 to Republicans—Meaningful?

June 19th, 2013 No comments

What does it tell us if 38 IRS lawyers make big contributions to Democracts and 2 to Republicans, when there are 1,791 IRS lawyers total? The question came up today at Volokh COnspiracy. Isn’t 40 out of 1,791 too small a proportion?

No. Surprisingly, if a sample is chosen randomly, what matters is that the sample be big enough, not how big the population is. Thus, if 40 out of 500 is big enough, so is 40 out of 10,000. That’s why pollsters don’t use samples more than about 1,000— if they’re really random samples, it doesn’t help much go to higher. Read more…

Categories: politics, statistics, taxes Tags:

Huckabee, Romney, Palin, and Obama

January 22nd, 2010 No comments

A poll has Huckabee has the strongest Republican candidate, winning over Obama 45-44. Romney is next, trailing Obama at 42-44. Palin loses 41-49, largely because she turns off some Republicans so much. She is both the most and the least popular of the three with Republicans, polarizing them.

That makes sense. Huckabee is strong because he’s a social conservative and smart. A social conservative with more national experience and more sense about economics would do even better, I think.

Categories: elections, Uncategorized Tags: ,

Brown’s Win in Massachusetts

January 19th, 2010 No comments

(Rasmusen) (Jan. 20–second update). From The Right Coast:

January 20. It seems Brown is Protestant, and Coakley is Catholic. That is not as unusual in Massachusetts history as I thought, though. Edward Brooke, who left office in 1979, was Protestant, as was Leverett Saltonstall, who left in 1967.

(Original post) Maybe I ought to be working or sleeping, but I couldn’t resist trying to analyze the Massachusetts election. Below, from the AP, is a partial list of results by locality. In each case, I show Martha Coakley’s vote count and percentage. Let’s start with the towns I know:

Arlington 13,284 65%
Boston 97,743 69%
Brookline 15,264 74%
Cambridge 1,067 88% (only 1/33 reporting yet, tho)
Lexington 9,375 65%
Newton 23,456 67%
Somerville 16,965 75%
Wellesley 5,934 50%
Worcester 19,861 52%

Massive Democratic victory! But wait… She lost. Her overall state percentage was 47%, they say. What’s going on? It looks like all the places where I know people voted for her (Well, Wellesley was only 50%).

Her problem was all the places professors don’t know about:

Dracut	        3,166 29%	 
Easton	 	3,350 36%
Franklin	 	4,470 33%	 
Hanover 	        1,895 28%
Haverhill	 	7,259 39%
Holden	 	2,864 34%
Leominster	 	4,707 36%	
Marshfield 	        3,895 33%
Methuen	 	4,837 34%
Peabody	  	7,619 40%
Plymouth	  	5,403 37%
Wrentham	 	1,414 27%

The New York Times has a good interactive map.

The Function of the Office of Legal Counsel

April 1st, 2009 No comments

More on the Holder overruling of the OLC. The Washington Post reported

In deciding that the measure is unconstitutional, lawyers in the department’s Office of Legal Counsel matched a conclusion reached by their Bush administration counterparts nearly two years ago, when a lawyer there testified that a similar bill would not withstand legal attack.

Holder rejected the advice and sought the opinion of the solicitor general’s office, where lawyers told him that they could defend the legislation if it were challenged after its enactment….

Through a spokesman, Holder portrayed the basis for his override of the OLC ruling as grounded in law, not politics.

“The attorney general weighed the advice of different people inside the department, as well as the opinions of legal scholars, and made his own determination that the D.C. voting rights bill is constitutional,” Matthew Miller said. “As the leader of the department, it is his responsibility to make his best independent legal judgment, and he believes that although there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue, ultimately the bill would constitutionally grant D.C. residents a right to elect a voting representative in Congress.”

I finally found a leftwing comment on this. Mark Tushnet says that Holder has not taken any formal, legally binding, action, yet and the bill hasn’t passed either, so nothing has happened.

It seems Tushnet is wrong, though. It is true there is not action yet, but that is like saying the “torture memo” was unimportant because when it was issued, no actual interrogation had occurred yet. What Holder has said is that for any DOJ action that depends on the legal question of whether the DC bill is unconstitutional, he is overruling the OLC and the Department is to act as if the bill is constitutional.

A VC comment of mine on AG Holder’s decision to back the DC Representation bill in court:

This is of course a much clearer case than in the Bush Administration of the top political leaders overruling the civil service lawyers on a legal stance. So I hope the people who objected to John Yoo’s stance call for AG Holder’s disbarment even more strongly.

As for myself, though, I find it appalling that anyone thinks the civil service lawyers ought to be making these decisions instead of the elected leaders. The OLC is just a bunch of staffers (mostly civil service staffers– i.e., lawyers who couldn’t get better jobs and who probably have strong ideological preferences). Staffers are supposed to give their best technical expertise to the organization leader, who then makes the actual decision– in this case, What Shall the Executive Branch’s Position be on the DC Bill? I do think the bill is blatantly unconstitutional, but I didn’t get elected President and I’m not on the relevant court. I say: Let Holder and Obama defend the position they want in court. And the opinion of his staffers should not be admissible there.

Think Tank Purposes, Left and Right: "more of an echo chamber of Heritage"

March 11th, 2009 No comments

Jonah Goldberg :

[T]his is what you get when you copy the form of, say, the Heritage Foundation, without actually understanding the function. Places like the Center for American Progress ( allegedly “the liberal Heritage Foundation)” were explicitly created to mimic what self-styled progressives believe to be the vast rightwing conspiracy (It was the same agenda that brought us Air America). In one sense, they were great at mimicking all this stuff, but like the aliens in Galaxy Quest they lacked a certain level of understanding of how this stuff works internally to these organizations. For instance, they don’t seem to understand that the purpose of institutions like the Heritage Foundation is to make the White House and Congress more of an echo chamber of Heritage, not the other way around.

Categories: conservatives, liberals, media, politics Tags:

Informing Menendez about the Cuba Policy

March 10th, 2009 No comments

Not the first example of amazing Obama Administration political stupidity, but a particularly clear one:

Menendez knew that his hard-line approach to Cuba was a minority view within his party, and that it was at odds with Obama’s approach. But he did not expect to discover a significant policy change embedded in the text on an appropriations bill. His policy aides came across the language when the legislation was posted on a congressional Web site.

“The process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that it puts the omnibus appropriations package in jeopardy, in spite of all the other tremendously important funding that this bill would provide,” the enraged son of Cuban immigrants said last week on the Senate floor. Menendez even slapped a hold on a pair of Obama nominees to draw attention to the issue.

It isn’t playing by the rules to try to hide Cuba policy in a money bill from members of your own party, and isn’t smart to do it when you’re sure to be caught. Not only is it rude, but it implies that Obama doesn’t care about his own senators’ careers: he wanted Menendez to vote for the bill and only then find out his political survival was at risk.

What Obama should have done was realize that Menendez would dislike the new policy and tell him in advance that it was coming, and perhaps make a deal with him. The stupidity and rudeness is in not informing him at all.

Categories: obama, politics Tags:

Saturday_Night_Live’s Geithner Video

March 9th, 2009 No comments

The Saturday Night Live Geithner save-the-economy-plan video is very good.

Categories: Economics, humor, politics Tags:

Rush Limbaugh, Disliked Because He Is Not Partisan Enough

March 5th, 2009 No comments

Jay Nordlinger in NR is good on Rush Limbaugh. One reason Limbaugh irritates people, I think, is precisely that he uses remorseless logic to rub it in when liberals go wrong. The other reason is that he uses humor. In both, he doesn’t pull his punches when he decides to go after something, and he has far more substance than more timid pundits. Ann Coulter is much the same in her style, except that she is more pointed and sarcastic. Both are also really unconcerned about winning elections. It is actually the more partisan Republicans who can’t stand them, because the partisans want to sound moderate so as to get swing voters. Also, the partisans think you should never criticize other Republicans.

One thing Rush has always been happy to do is engage with ideas.

Are his critics willing to engage with him? Or just sneer and resent?

Rush has had a considerable influence on people, for the good, I believe. In my time at National Review, I’ve interviewed a lot of young people, for jobs — internships and junior editorships. And I often ask how they became a conservative (presuming they are). And a good many people have said — sometimes sheepishly — “I listened to Rush Limbaugh.” And a good many of those have said, “I listened to Rush behind my parents’ back.”

Are these dumb kids who hate books and long to join up with the Klan? Not on your life — they are among the fanciest: Ivy Leaguers, brainiacs, world-beaters.

Blacks and the Right to Vote

March 2nd, 2009 No comments

Via Prof. Rapaport at Right Coast, I find that Missouri
Senator Henderson said during the 14th Amendment debates:

It is only where political power is in the hands of a favored few that oppression can be practiced. It is only where oppression exists that the agents of a superior power are needed for protection. Give the negro the ballot and he will take care of himself because his interest requires it. Give him a bureau agent and he will sometimes be plundered, because his interest and the interest of the agent may differ.

Categories: civil rights, history, politics, race, voting Tags:

Nonbinding Ballot Propositions

February 27th, 2009 No comments

It would be useful to allow politicians to put nonbinding referenda on election ballots. Something like this: The majority and minority party leader may each put 3 questions of 10 words or less on the ballot for YES/NO vote.

Categories: elections, ideas, politics Tags:

Pace Resolution Wrap-Up

February 18th, 2009 No comments

I should have been prepared to blog on the Pace Resolution, but I wasn’t, and I have to prepare for a presentation practice with my grad students in two hours. So I’ll revise this post later. For now:

The Bloomington Faculty Council passed the Pace resolution criticizing the business school for inviting a general who (a) said homosexuality was immoral, and (b) enforced the military’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy. The vote was 19 to 15, with many present not voting. I heard on the radio that a motion to table was rejected 14 to 21. The minutes of the February 17 meeting, which transcribe all the speeches of that day, are here. I see that 41 members were present, 3 were absent but had alternates present, and 20 were absent. Thus, of 64 members, 19 voted for the resolution, 15 were against, 10 voters present did not vote, and 20 members were absent.

I see this as a good outcome, if not the best. People are on record as being for or against university departments being able to invite speakers with conservative opinions. I was afraid that someone would make a motion to table the resolution, or just ask to withdraw it, and that professors torn between principle, politics, and timidity would welcome the chance to get out of the situation.

The February 4 meeting tentative BFC minutes have some of the arguments made. My November weblog post has lots more, from the first reading in that month. My Feb. 4 post has the first and second drafts of the resolution.

I should add my own letter to the BFC and the Kelley’s school’s letter later today. They talk about the substance of the resolution.

UPDATE My own opinions on the substance of the Pace resolution are in a letter I sent to the BFC on February 4. The Kelley School Academic Council sent a strong letter to the BFC on December 1, 2008

UPDATE: My own opinions on the substance of the Pace resolution are in a letter I sent to the BFC on February 4. The Kelley School Academic Council sent a strong letter to the BFC on December 1, 2008

Sticking in New Laws in Conference Committee

February 16th, 2009 No comments

A great example from the Weekly standard:,good for G406:

One of many highlights of the stimulus bill the Democrats just rammed through Congress is $8 billion for high-speed rail. What makes this appropriation special is that there was no money for high-speed rail in the original House legislation. The Senate bill had $2 billion. The legislation coming out of conference “compromised” on $8 billion.

How did this happen? Well, some of that $8 billion, as the Washington Post reported Friday, seems intended for “a controversial proposal for a magnetic-levitation rail line between Disneyland, in California, and Las Vegas, a project favored by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). The 311-mph train could make the trip from Sin City to Tomorrowland in less than two hours, according to backers.” Reid of course played a major role in putting together the final bill.

Categories: agenda control, g406, politics Tags:

The Secret Stimulus Bill

February 13th, 2009 No comments

Update, 2:45p.m. I finally did successfully download a searchable pdf file of Part A of the bill. It’s from the Appropriations Committee website– the Speaker’s website still doesn’t work. I’ve posted part A on my website, at http://Rasmusen.org/t/2009/Recovery_Bill_Div_A.pdf. It’s surprising how sloppy the Congressional staff is. The file has lots of text inserts and pencilled in corrections, and no overall page numbers. And they had all night to pretty it up. Pelosi’s office staff is not competent, if they’re the ones who handled the drafting.

From Human Events:

“The American people have a right to know what’s in this bill,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind) told HUMAN EVENTS after the press conference. “Every member of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — voted to post this bill on the internet for 48 hours, 48 hours ago. We’ll see if the Democrats keep their word.”

Actually — as of 5:15 pm, the Democrats had broken their word. The stimulus bill — which we still haven’t seen — will be released late tonight and will be brought up on the House floor at 9 am tomorrow.

and

The following statement was released by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at 4:57 p.m.:

“The House is scheduled to meet at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and is expected to proceed directly to consideration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment conference report. The conference report text will be filed this evening, giving members enough time to review the conference report before voting on it tomorrow afternoon.”

The Democrats finally made the bill’s language available around 11 p.m. Thursday, approximately 10 hours before members meet Friday to consider the bill …

and in another article later,

Democratic staffers released the final version of the stimulus bill at about 11 pm last night after delaying the release for hours to put it into a format which people cannot “search” on their home computers.

Instead of publishing the bill as a regular internet document — which people can search by “key words” and otherwise, the Dems took hours to convert the final bill from the regular searchable format into “pdf” files, which can be read but not searched.

Three of the four .pdf files had no text embedded, just images of the text, which did not permit text searches of the bill. That move to conceal the bill’s provisions had not been remedied this morning at the time of publication of this article. (You can find the entire bill on the House Appropriations [http://appropriations.house.gov] website.)

From readthestimulus.org at 1:10 pm on Friday, the Human Events allegation seems to be true. I can’t even download the files myself, either from the Speaker’s office or the Appropriations Committee site.

The final language has been posted; you can find links to the various docs at the Speaker’s website. Update: The speaker’s website is apparently down. Imagine that. Docs are also available here.

The total size of the four major files is over 100MB, and consists of 1419 pages. Three of the four files are huge “scanned” PDFs, meaning they were created by printing the original document and then scanning it in again — and therefore contain no real “text” that can be easily searched. This will make our parsing process difficult and more time consuming, so we most likely won’t have our versions ready until midday tomorrow. But we’ll see…

Categories: democrats, lying, politics, stimulus Tags:

Krugman, Barro, and Crook

February 11th, 2009 1 comment

Clive Crook wrote an FT column
about economists blogging, citing Barro and Krugman as examples of economists who went to extremes. Part was this:

I had thought they would at least agree that raising trade barriers at a time like this must be a bad idea. Then I read Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate, Princeton professor, and New York Times columnist, explain that raising tariffs – though perhaps unwise for other reasons – “can make the world better off”. “There is a short-run case for protectionism,” he went on, “and that case will increase in force if we don’t have an effective economic recovery programme.” What are his readers to make of this? Are all the economists who say otherwise just wrong?

This impression of disarray – that economics has nothing clear to say on these questions – is not the fault of economics as such. It is a mostly false impression created by some of its leading public intellectuals, Mr Krugman among them.

Economics outside the academy has become the continuation of politics by other means. If you wish to know what Mr Krugman thinks on any policy question, do not read his scholarly writings; see which policies are advocated by the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Mr Krugman agrees with liberal Democrats about most things, and for the rest gives as much cover as the discipline of economics can provide – which, given its scientific limitations, is plenty. He does this even on matters where, if his scholarly work is any guide, the economics is firmly against his allies. Liberal Democrats are protectionists. Mr Krugman is not, but politics comes first.

The syndrome affects economists on the right as much as on the left. Just as there is a consensus among economists that protectionism should be opposed, most economists believe that a powerful fiscal stimulus is both possible and desirable in present circumstances, and that the best stimulus would include big increases in public spending. Yet recently, Robert Barro, a scholar with conservative sympathies, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that this view was an appeal to “magic”.

The problem is not that Mr Krugman questions the consensus on trade (if indeed he does), or that Mr Barro questions the consensus on fiscal policy (as he certainly does). It is that both set the consensus aside so carelessly. In doing so, these stars of the profession destroy the credibility of their own discipline. Mr Krugman gives liberals the economics they want. Mr Barro gives conservatives the same service. They narrow or deny the common ground. Why does this matter? Because the views of readers inclined to one side or the other are further polarised; and in the middle, those of no decided allegiance conclude that economics is bunk.

What is interesting is not that article (which is wrong on Barro, I think), but the responses of Professors Krugman and Barro. Mr. Crook displays the correspondence in The Atlantic. Barro and Crook had a polite exchange of emails discussing their disagreements. Krugman said,

Clive used to be a reasonable guy; in his mind he probably still is a reasonable guy. But he has misunderstood what it means to be reasonable. He now apparently believes that it means declaring, in all circumstances, that Democrats and Republicans are equally in the wrong, even if the Democrats are talking Econ 101 and the Republicans are being led by the crazy 36.


And it means hysterical attacks on yours truly for actually taking sides in this debate
, with the ostensible basis for the denunciation being a wonkish blog post — it says so in the title — in which I acknowledge that there is a potential short-run argument for protectionism, while making it clear that I’m not in favor of acting on that argument. He doesn’t actually take on my argument; he just insists that the only reason I might possibly have said anything like this is partisan bias, as opposed to an attempt to be intellectually honest.

That’s interesting in itself. But now let us proceed to Paul Krugman’s argument for protectionism.

Should we be upset about the buy-American provisions in the stimulus bill? Is there an economic case for such provisions? The answer is yes and yes. And I do think it’s important to be honest about the second yes.

So Krugman not only thinks that there is an economic case for buy-American, but that it’s important to stress it. And while we should “be upset” about the buy-American policy, that’s just an emotional response– the “economic case” is in favor of it.

The economic case against protectionism is that it distorts incentives: each country produces goods in which it has a comparative disadvantage, and consumes too little of imported goods. And under normal conditions that’s the end of the story.

But these are not normal conditions. We’re in the midst of a global slump, with governments everywhere having trouble coming up with an effective response.

Okay– so the economic case against protectionism is not determinative here– we are in a special situation.

And one part of the problem facing the world is that there are major policy externalities. My fiscal stimulus helps your economy, by increasing your exports — but you don’t share in my addition to government debt. As I explained a while back, this means that the bang per buck on stimulus for any one country is less than it is for the world as a whole.

And this in turn means that if macro policy isn’t coordinated internationally — and it isn’t — we’ll tend to end up with too little fiscal stimulus, everywhere.

Now ask, how would this change if each country adopted protectionist measures that “contained” the effects of fiscal expansion within its domestic economy? Then everyone would adopt a more expansionary policy — and the world would get closer to full employment than it would have otherwise. Yes, trade would be more distorted, which is a cost; but the distortion caused by a severely underemployed world economy would be reduced. And as the late James Tobin liked to say, it takes a lot of Harberger triangles to fill an Okun gap.

Let’s be clear: this isn’t an argument for beggaring thy neighbor, it’s an argument that protectionism can make the world as a whole better off. It’s a second-best argument — coordinated policy is the first-best answer. But it needs to be taken seriously.

Let me restate his argument. Every country needs fiscal stimulus because of the recession, and that’s the most important thing. But countries won’t enact fiscal stimulus unless they can be protectionist too, because they’re selfish. So, since protectionism isn’t as bad as lack of government spending, it’s worth having trade barriers so as to get the government spending.

This is, actually, saying that beggar-thy-neighbor policies are a good thing. He is saying that if every country tries to beggar every other by buy-domestic policies, they’ll all be better off in the end than if they didn’t. He’d prefer having the same amount of government spending without the buy-domestic policies, but he doesn’t think that’s possible politically.

After a couple more paragraphs saying that we have to consider the political economy, we come to his bottom line:

But there is a short-run case for protectionism — and that case will increase in force if we don’t have an effective economic recovery program.

His argument has three problems (aside from its premise that the stimulus package is a good thing and should pass). First, it’s not plausible that the stimulus package will shrink much if it is less protectionist, and his argument depends on there being enough shrinkage to counteract the bad allocative effect of protectionism. Second, if we’re talking political economy, we should bring in the fact that allowing protectionism into a stimulus bill will result in it being more distorted to serve special interests rather than having the single objective of serving the public interest of Keynesian stimulus. Third, an economist should start by making the economic arguments clear, rather than mingling them with the politicking, compromise, and buying-off-of-interests arguments. Politics requires compromise, but an op-ed piece does not. In fact, even in politics, you start off the bargaining by taking your preferred position– you don’t start by offering your opponent something halfway towards his position. In fact, you might want to start with something more extreme than your preferred position.

In this particular case, of course, the buy-American provisions weren’t in there to garner moderate and conservative support for a bill that wouldn’t pass otherwise– they were an actual hindrance towards compromise. Krugman’s got it exactly backwards– the buy-American was bad economics *and* bad politics.

Note what Greg Mankiw says,

Matthew Yglesias says that my stimulus proposal is “a pretty good idea” but also says “it’s wildly impractical” because it is “so outside the ballpark of what congress is prepared to consider.”

Let me reply by quoting Milton Friedman:

The role of the economist in discussions of public policy seems to me to be to prescribe what should be done in light of what can be done, politics aside, and not to predict what is “politically feasible” and then to recommend it.

Robert Taft: A Yale Man, Not a Common Man

February 11th, 2009 No comments

NewMajority has a great story about Robert Taft:

Bill Buckley liked to tell a story about one of Taft’s reelection campaigns, when the Senator’s wife was asked at a rally whether her husband was a common man. “Oh no,” she retorted, “he is not that at all. He was first in his class at Yale and first in his class at Harvard Law School. I think it would be wrong to present a common man as a representative of the people of Ohio.” The political professionals blanched, but the crowd gave the Tafts a standing ovation.

It’s interesting that Taft *was* a man of his times– or a politician– supporting things such as the minimum wage:

Taft was not the uncompromising scourge of liberalism that many of his followers imagined…. He supported government-funded old age pensions, medical care for the indigent, an income floor for the deserving poor, unemployment insurance, and an increased minimum wage. Because he believed that a home was necessary for a decent family life, and because the free market was not supplying low-cost housing, he advocated urban slum clearance and public housing. Because he believed that all children deserved an equal start in life, he reversed his earlier position and called for federal aid to education.… As his brother Charles recalled in 1966, Taft was “an innovator of the first class in a number of welfare fields, going beyond what the Democrats had the courage to talk about in those days.”

Don’t take that last paragraph as complimentary.

"Moderates" in the Senate

February 11th, 2009 No comments

From Jonah Goldberg at NR:

Led by Republican Arlen Specter, the centrists have boldly cut (perhaps temporarily) $100 billion or so from the stimulus package, in the name of fiscal discipline. But, as liberal critics such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman rightly point out, they’re cutting it to prove their “centrist mojo,” not because they have real concern for public policy. If the bill had started out at $1 trillion, then $900 billion in porcine outlays would be deemed the “responsible” amount to spend.


For certain Beltway centrists, the highest principle is to prove that you are attached to no p
rinciple. Rather, your duty is to split the difference between the “ideologues.” If one side says we need a 1,000-foot bridge to span a canyon, and the other side says we don’t need a bridge at all, the centrists will fight for a bridge that goes 500 feet and no farther, then pat themselves on the back.

Categories: bargaining, politics, stimulus, thinking Tags:

Kennedy Family Scandals

February 6th, 2009 No comments

The Weekly Standard has an article listing many of the Kennedy family crimes and scandals. It’s weak on Teddy, Joe, and John Sr. scandals, though. What a family!

Categories: corruption, crime, Kennedy, politics Tags:

Ron Sims, Another "Obama Nominee"

February 4th, 2009 No comments

Via Instapundit, we have a new tainted Obama appointee: Ron Sims, for no. 2 at HUD. Sims is King County Executive, which is the county Seattle is in in Washington State. That means he has involvement in the 2004 theft of the gubernatorial election. Apparently he also stonewalled freedom-of-info requests for studies of a certain county project and got the county fined over $100,000 because the denial of the documents was so blatantly illegal.

Seattle seems to be quite a corrupt place. It is also where Bush fired a US attorney, John McKay, for refusing to investigate the 2004 election. I looked into that a bit, and it seems that McKay is a liberal Republican who headed the Clinton Legal Services Corporation and whose brother is active in state politics. It also seems that his refusal to look at the 2004 election was political, despite his posture of high-mindedness. For info on McKay and the 2004 election coverup, see here. His Seattle U. School of Law bio (rather a come-down in status, isn’t it?) is here. I also found a lengthy blog entry on John McKay and his brother Michael McKay, who was Bush Senior’s US Attorney in Seattle.

For info on the $124,000 fine, see the Seattle Times. The article doesn’t mention King, even though he apparently was the politician in charge of the decision, but it does say that the trial judge was going to impose a trivial fine, but the State Supreme Court, in an unusual move, overruled him. The Seattle Times doesn’t mention that record-setting fine in its adulatory article on the HUD nomination.

I bet a look at Mr. Sims’s tax returns would be enlightening.

Categories: corruption, elections, obama, vote fraud Tags:

The Daschles as An Example of Legal Corruption

February 4th, 2009 1 comment

Even tho its subject is not so topical now, The Daschles: feeding at the Beltway trough by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com is a good article.

Categories: corruption, lobbying, obama, politics Tags:

Game Theory and Blackmail of Politicians

January 23rd, 2009 No comments

The FBI had highly incriminating tapes of Martin Luther King indulging in adultery, dirty jokes, etc. This was illegal, I think, since it was not taped at his office but at home or sleeping place, so it has been suppressed by court order till 2027.

Why, though, didn’t the FBI leak this information back in 1964? I can think of two reasons:

1. The FBI really wasn’t trying to snoop on King’s personal life. The FBI was just doing its job, checking out his communist connections, and having found that though he did consort with communists, he wasn’t one, they figured their job was done.

2. The FBI (i.e., J. Edgar Hoover) blackmailed King, somehow changing his behavior.

I don’t know why the FBI would like to blackmail King, but if you think J. Edgar Hoover was anti-King, reason 2 is your only explanation. If he was anti-King, why didn’t he leak the adultery info– or somehow set up King to be exposed by a third party?

Reason 2 might be verifiable. After the dates when the FBI adultery tapes were made, did King somehow change his behavior?

The idea of blackmail is important in other contexts too.

1. I had the impression that Dole was going easy on Clinton in the 1996 campaign. Was this because Clinton had info on Dole?

2. Rep. Rangel has gotten away with tax evasion for years, it seems. Did presidents use his vulnerability to prosecution to get him to be cooperative on tax policy?

Categories: corruption, game theory, politics Tags:

Geithner’s Tax Cheating

January 22nd, 2009 No comments

I just retired from the IRS this past summer. I can verily state we would have been fired on the spot if unreported income was discovered on our tax return. It is shocking that Timothy Geithner would head the IRS, the same organization that would have fired me for ANY unreported income. I am sure shock waves are rippling through my former IRS office right now to think that the new head of the IRS failed to pay $30,000 in taxes. (a comment here)

Tim Geithner really is a man in the spirit of Bill and Hillary Clinton: rules are for little people, but they don’t apply to me.

Oh, those hapless Republicans! They don’t realize that what they have here– a knowing (that is, known since before the nomination was made public), deliberate, attempt to put a tax cheat in charge of tax enforcement– is the ticket to victory in 2010.

I know everybody says good things about Geithner, but keep in mind two other things:

1. He was at the New York Fed while it totally botched oversight of the financial system.

2. Cheaters never cheat just once.

Categories: corruption, obama, politics, taxes Tags:

A List of Prominent Democrats in Trouble

January 21st, 2009 No comments
  1. Senator Dodd, Chairman of Senate Finance Committee, (preferential mortgage treatment)
  2. Tom Daschle, nominee for Secy. of HHS, tax evasion.
  3. Rep. Rangel, Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, Taxes.
  4. Blagojevich,Governor of Illinois, selling a Senate seat.
  5. Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, Obama Cabinet pick, grand jury investigation.
  6. Spitzer, Mayor of New York, hiring a prostitute.
  7. Larry Langford, Mayor of Birmingham (2008). Indicted for bribery.
  8. Marion Barry, former Mayor of Washington (2009)(current City Councilor). Failure to file income taxes (his cocaine conviction was a long time ago).
  9. Sam Adams, Mayor of Portland, Oregon (2009). Homosexual relations with a teenager.
  10. Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit Mayor (2008). Charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct stemming from a sex scandal and a whistle-blower lawsuit
  11. Sheila Dixon, Mayor of Baltimore (2009) indicted
    for perjury, theft, misconduct in office
    .

  12. Bernie Madoff (2008).
  13. William Jefferson (D-La). Racketeering, soliciting bribes, money laundering
  14. Attorney-General nominee Eric Holder (2008). (Marc Rich pardon, Puerto Rican terrorist pardon, testimony under oath that he’d not heard of Rich when in fact his office had litigated against a Rich company in 1995, while Rich was on the 10 Most Wanted list)
  15. Treasury nominee: Geithner (2008). Cheating on taxes.

An earlier post said this:

A WSJ op-ed made me realize that the list of post-election scandals has gotten amazingingly long. What good timing luck the Democrats have had!

We might include the Acorn, Minnesota recount, and Ohio plumber-disclosure small-fry Democratss.

Name That Party is a website that looks at new stories about politicians in trouble with attention to whether their party affiliation is mentioned (yes, if Republican) or not (if Democratic).

There are some Reublicans too, but fewer and less prominent (Senator Stevens being the exception):

  1. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) 2008 False statements on Senate disclosure forms
  2. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) 2008 Extortion, wire fraud, money laundering
  3. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) 2007 Bathroom homosexual solicitation
  4. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) 2007. Trading political favors for gifts. Convicted, sentenced to 2.5 years in prison
  5. Don Young (R-Alaska) 2008. “Under investigation”. Four separate federal investigations: a $10 million earmark for a road in Florida, assistance to convicted VECO executive Bill Allen, ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, financial relationship with indicted businessman Dennis Troha.
  6. Vito J. Fossella (R-NY) (2008). Drunk driving, adultery.
  7. Joseph L. Bruno former New York Senate Majority Leader for New York: indicted for mail fraud, January 2009.

Looking at just what has been revealed about Rep. Rangel so far, he seems to have done far worse than Senator Stevens.

Categories: corruption, crime, democrats, law, liberals Tags:

The BFC’s Proposed Resolution Criticizing the Business School’s Invitation of General Pace

January 16th, 2009 No comments

The Bloomington Faculty Council has been having some discussions
of interest to those concerned about homosexuality and free speech.
All boldfacings below are by me.

Here are excerpts from the resolution (
November 18 text
):

WHEREAS in a March 12, 2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune,
Gen.
Pace said, “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are
immoral..
. I do not believe the United States is well served by a
policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way… As an
individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our
policy.”

WHEREAS on March 13, 2007, Pace released a statement reading, “In
expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some
personal opinions about moral conduct. I should have focused more on
my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views.” He
declined to apologize or to retract his statement equating
homosexuality with immorality….

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that although we fully endorse the
concept that speakers representing all viewpoints should be invited to
campus, when speakers representing controversial viewpoints are
invited, effort must be made to facilitate open discussion and the
exchange of ideas. We therefore believe that during General Peter
Pace’s visits to campus this year, the Kelley School should facilitate
opportunities for Gen. Pace to be interviewed by the press and to
appear at forums in which members of the community are welcome and may
ask questions, and to invite a speaker of equivalent stature who holds
contrary views concerning homosexuality. Efforts to date are not
sufficient.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it was inappropriate to award Gen. Pace
a
university honor, the Poling Chair in Business and Government, when
his views on homosexuality are so offensive to university policy and
many members of the university community, without any advance
guarantee that he would participate in an open and meaningful dialogue
about his views.

From
the November 18 Bloomington Faculty Council Minutes:

Brian Horne, Music:

HORNE: Personally I’m bothered by this. I mean there are many details,
you know, with which I sympathize but at the heart of the matter it
seems to me what trying to punish somebody for something they
believe.

To me at the heart of the matter, I understand why people would be
offended, but what we’re saying is ‘you have to believe what we
believe or we’re going to make it hard on you.’ That’s not what we
should be doing, and we certainly shouldn’t be saying ‘we’re a
university, we’re open to all, we’re open to diversity, but if you
don’t believe what we believe we’re going to make it hard on you to
come here or to get an honor from us or to do anything else.’

James Biles, Geography:

BILES: … Yes, you know a diversity of views is appreciated, but
I
think morally and ethically, you know, there’s no requirement to
tolerate intolerance and these views are intolerant.
Personally,
I’d
like to see him dishonorably discharged from his, you know,
appointment, but I guess that’s not going to happen.

Bryan McCormick, HPER:

MCCORMICK: Well, I’m just curious that this strikes me that we’re
making as a campus body a dictate to that unit without inclusion,
discussion, you know. I would be concerned in my school if I learned
from the BFC something that we are being told we had to do without
even knowing it was coming.

Brian Horne, Music, and Alex Tanford, Law:

HORNE: I’m sorry, one other question and I recognize this is
stretching it quite a bit. Certainly in the School of Music we have
people that are just world renowned musicians all the time some of
which are given titles and some of whom just come and give masters
classes, things like that. We don’t know their views on this issue or
any other,
because they were never in such a prominent, you know,
position, but why is it different that it just happens that we know
this issue. This issue is not what drove his appointment or what gave
him this honor. It just happened that his previous appointment called
upon him to answer questions regarding this. If Leonard Slatkin, you
know, the world famous conductor is coming to join our faculty, we
don’t know what he thinks about anything, and we don’t need to know.

TANFORD: I don’t really have a response to your point, but certainly
there are people who are highly distinguished in the music field,
now
many of them very elderly, if they’re still alive at all, who had an
active association at one point with Nazi Germany, where their views
would be clearly known. And I guess we saw this as the equivalent of
giving one of them a distinguished honor
which would be hugely
offensive to the Jewish community or that was the way we saw this.

Lucas Fields, IUSA President, student, and Alex Tanford, Law:

FIELDS: I actually had a chance to speak with the general, and one of
the things I asked him about was his recommendation to authorize force
in Iraq, which he also did as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and I
guess what I’m perhaps concerned about with this body is there a
line
that’s being drawn, that there are certain things that the faculty are
willing to be concerned about but not others? Is his view on that war,
which is controversial in a different light, something that should
also be addressed? And are we singling something out versus a whole
host of things I think could be found to be controversial on this
campus?

TANFORD: We are singling this out. We are the Diversity and
Affirmative Action Committee,
concerned about protecting the
rights of
minorities who are historically and currently, presently discriminated
against and the gay and lesbian community is number one on that list.
And that’s the reason. This is like race a generation ago.

Patrick Harbison, Music, and
Alex Tanford, Law:

HARBISON: Will the School of Music have to stop programming
Wagner?

TANFORD: Only if – no. (laughter)
HARBISON: I mean you see what
I’m
saying!
TANFORD: Are you planning on giving Wagner a distinguished
university honor?
HARBISON: No, but I would say that a performance
at
the MAC is a fairly distinguished honor.
TANFORD: But that’s the
essence of the distinction. A performance at the MAC is an ordinary
participation in the university process. If it is accompanied by Gwyn
Richards coming out and giving the person a distinguished award, then
it moves into a different level of symbolism and it is that second
level that we are concerned about, not the first.

Daniel Sloat, IUSA Vice President, student:

SLOAT: I just wanted to say first as a Kelley student I felt that
the
school did a very good job in distancing themselves. I felt that they
were in no way in the wrong. They made very clear that they did not
support his personal beliefs, and most importantly to keep in mind he
was invited to and subsequently awarded for his leadership experience.
He was not brought as a controversial speaker, not as someone who has
a certain view.
If that had been the case, then it would certainly
be
encouraged and, I think, appropriate to bring someone with an
alternative view. So being someone extensive leadership experience,
I
don’t think it’s fair to put him in the same kind of light that calls
for ‘where’s the other viewpoint?’ because being brought as a person
with leadership experience the other viewpoint would be someone
without leadership experience.

Padraic Kenney, History, and
Alex Tanford, Law:

…KENNEY: …Yeah, I know, but I feel like some of your responses
have
really come down, you know, to his personal views…

TANFORD: No,
no.

KENNEY: … some rest more on professional and maybe clarifying the
difference between the two…

TANFORD: There is no…

KENNEY: …and
taking
a stand based on one or the other.

TANFORD: He was the one who
attempts to characterize these as merely personal views, and that’s
why to try to put in his version of it and put some balance is why
those statements are in there.

KENNEY: Well then let me draw
attention
to the last line in the fourth paragraph on the first page, “General
Pace’s beliefs regarding homosexuality, which are grounded in his
religious faith, reveal an inherent bias against homosexuality.” Why
are we bringing in his religious faith? I’m looking at the quotes that
are above there and while I don’t doubt that elsewhere in that
interview he talks about his religious faith, he doesn’t in what has
been quoted here. And so now we’re saying ‘well, actually this has to
do with religious faith,’ but maybe they’re excusing, that, you know,
you have to understand this is religious faith or it maybe a
complicating or whatever factor, but I’m not quite sure, you know, how
do you put that in there. That’s essentially saying ‘we are interested
in his beliefs.’

TANFORD: I would say the committee was persuaded
by
an argument made by some members of the committee that one could make
a case that holding fairly extreme antihomosexual views based on a
particularly narrow interpretation of religion is itself a minority
viewpoint…

KENNEY: But how is that relevant here?

TANFORD:
…and
therefore needed to be mentioned in terms of the balance since we’re
the Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee and that we are
concerned about religious discrimination as much as we are about
discrimination against homosexuality.

Nick Clark, GPSO – Political Science, graduate student:

CLARK:… it’s a discussion I’ve been a part of in several different
committees on how to best recruit minorities to come here and increase
the diversity of the campus and I have to think that this is relevant
to that, in that if we include minorities that we want to recruit as
gay and lesbian students, the fact that we bestow honors on someone
that makes these statements, whether they’re right, whether they’re
wrong, whether it’s the place of the Faculty Council or the university
to take positions on it, but that we’re bestowing honors on it from a
very pragmatic point of view I would think that that could deter
certain gay and lesbian students from attending this university which
is the exact opposite of what the campus seems to want to do in its
recruiting initiatives.
And I think that’s got to be at least, you
know, minimally relevant to an issue like this.

Herbert Terry, BFC President, Telecommunications:

TERRY: Okay, I wasn’t on the (inaudible) subcommittee, but I hope you
will consult with the faculty governance body of the School of
Business. When we take this up again I would like to know what role
they played in it, if any, and what their recommendations to the Dean
were, what they think of it. The second thing is borrowing from my
own
experience in telecommunications, the Federal Communications
Commission for a long time tried to enforce a kind of a fairness
doctrine requiring that opposing views on controversial issues be
presented by broadcasters. It eventually concluded that that
backfired.

The BFC membership list is
here
in case you’d like to check which professors and students
vote on this.

A footnote:

Americans interviewed in Gallup’s 2008 Values and Beliefs poll are
evenly divided over the morality of homosexual relations, with 48%
considering them morally acceptable and 48% saying they are morally
wrong.

The BFC will not be voting on the resolution on January 20, since the committee is trying to redraft it. Presumably it will come up in the February meeting.

Bush’s Average Approval Ratings Compared to Previous Presidents

January 14th, 2009 No comments

I just discovered something remarkable about George Bush’s approval ratings. The conventional wisdom is that in his second term he has been about the most unpopular president ever (less often mentioned is that in his first term he was about the most popular president ever!). That’s true. The usual implications are that he’s been a failure and would not be re-elected.

Neither implication follows. The key is to realize that approval ratings are based on the opinions of not only the President’s own party, but on the opposition. Thus, a president who gets 51% of the vote could be completely successful in getting all his policies carried out and enjoy high support from his supporters, but end up with a very low approval rating by having extremely low popularity with the 49% who voted against him. In fact, it isn’t even voters– the best informed and smartest citizens– who are polled about presidential approval. Thus, years of disparaging remarks by TV people, who are those 49%, will especially hurt approval ratings.

How does this apply to George Bush? Gallup has the George Bush data in useful form, with comparisons of overall ratings to other presidents. His December 12-14, 2008 approval ratings is 29%, worse even than Truman’s December 1952 32% and much worse than the 51% average for the 31st quarter of two-term president’s since FDR.

But now look at his approval ratings with Republicans and Democrats separately. In December 12-14 2008 Bush had an approval ratings of 67% from his own party, 25% from unaffiliated citizens, and just 7% from the opposition party. Hence the average of 29%. (Numbers are from here.) His lowest ratings from Republicans were in October 3-5 2008, when the ratings were 55-19-5. His lowest ratings from Democrats were in three other polls in September and October 2008, when he fell to amazing 3%.

If we look just at approval from the president’s own party, how does Bush stack up against previous presidents? Jeffrey M. Jones has a good Gallup article on the subject. It turns out that Bush does worse than Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan; about the same as Clinton, George HW Bush, and Ford; and better than Johnson, Carter, and Nixon. Carter did the worst, with only a 34% approval rating from his own party in 1979. Carter, however, did much better among Republicans than Bush does with Democrats.

While discouraging for Bush, his 60% approval rating among his natural political base is similar to the low points for several recent presidents, including Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford. Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy never had very low overall approval ratings, so even their lowest ratings among their own party were still quite high (above 70%). While Ronald Reagan’s job approval rating among all Americans did fall as low as 35% overall, Republicans’ approval of him never fell below 67%.

Carter is the president with the dubious distinction of having the lowest job approval rating from his own party since 1953, when Gallup began to compile presidential approval ratings by party affiliation.[1] Only 34% of Democrats approved of Carter in a pair of 1979 Gallup Polls. Carter’s overall ratings at that time were similar to Bush’s current overall ratings, but his ratings were not nearly as polarized along party lines as Bush’s are: He did much better among Republicans than Bush is doing now among Democrats, while doing slightly better among independents than Bush is currently doing.

Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon also had troubled presidencies and are the only other presidents whose approval among their party’s supporters fell below 50%.

One possible conclusion is that Bush’s overall popularity rating is so low precisely because he has been so effective that he has enraged the opposition more than any president in living memory. Nobody really believes that, though. Rather, he has had moderate success, but his personality and style have generated Bush Hating that has an almost psychotic quality to it, and that hatred’s strength among even the influential opposition leaders have carried their followers along with it.

Categories: Bush, elections, history, polls, presidents Tags:

Criminal Congressmen

January 14th, 2009 No comments
Categories: corruption, crime, politics Tags:

Sodomy Laws and Pro-Israel Sentiment

January 4th, 2009 No comments

There is indeed an issue on which citizens split almost evenly yet the leaders of both parties adopt identical lockstep positions: the legality of homosexual acts. That’s my answer to a question of Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald:

Is there any other significant issue in American political life, besides Israel, where (a) citizens split almost evenly in their views, yet (b) the leaders of both parties adopt identical lockstep positions which leave half of the citizenry with no real voice?

The split in favor of sodomy laws is 40-55 in the latest Gallup poll, as shown in the chart here, down from 49-46 in 2003. Support for sodomy laws has stayed around 40% since 1977. Opposition has bounced around a lot, from 43% in 1977 to 57% in 1986, back to around 42% in 1997, up to 60% in early 2003, down to 46% a few months later, and up to 55% now. But clearly voters are divided. I don’t hear any Democratic or Republican politicians calling for the return of sodomy laws, though (and it isn’t just the Supreme Court’s reversing itself on the issue; plenty of politicians oppose abortion).

Here’s more from Sullivan and Greenwald, for reference:

Andrew Sullivan, quoting Greenwald:

Leave aside the usual huffing and puffing. Can you answer this question for me:

Is there any other significant issue in American political life, besides Israel, where (a) citizens split almost evenly in their views, yet (b) the leaders of both parties adopt identical lockstep positions which leave half of the citizenry with no real voice? More notably still, is there any other position, besides Israel, where (a) a party’s voters overwhelmingly embrace one position (Israel should not have attacked Gaza) but (b) that party’s leadership unanimously embraces the exact opposite position (Israel was absolutely right to attack Gaza and the U.S. must support Israel unequivocally)? Does that happen with any other issue?

From Greenwald:

Not only does Rasmussen find that Americans generally “are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip” (44-41%, with 15% undecided), but Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive — by a 24-point margin (31-55%). By stark constrast, Republicans, as one would expect (in light of their history of supporting virtually any proposed attack on Arabs and Muslims), overwhelmingly support the Israeli bombing campaign (62-27%).

Categories: homosexuality, Israel, politics Tags:

Enjoying Your Tombstone

January 3rd, 2009 No comments

Via Clayton Cramer comes this CNN news story about Mr. Burris’s tomb:

Under the seal of the state of Illinois and the words “Trail Blazer,” Burris, 71, has listed his many firsts in granite, including being the state’s first African-American attorney general and the state’s first African-American comptroller.

The memorial also notes that Burris was the first African-American exchange student to Hamburg University in Germany from Southern Illinois University in 1959.

Categories: Economics, living, politics Tags:

Governor Blagojevich

January 1st, 2009 No comments

Some good articles on Governor Blagojevich are:

Rod Blagojevich, the Stupidest Governor in the Country, Puts Obama in a Bad Light, Dec. 11, Michael Barone.

A Little Blago for Everyone:
A cornucopia of corrupt crapulence,
by Jonah Goldberg at NR.

Rod Gives ‘Em the Shaft; From Vacant Lot to Hot Spot
The governor has wasted no time alienating the very people who helped him get elected.
from the Chicago Reader, Ben Joravsky, May 7, 2004, which is very good on Chicago politics and the Mell family.

Categories: chicago, corruption, politics Tags:

The Scientific Ignorance of Obama, McCain, and Palin

December 27th, 2008 No comments

From the Independent via Drudge:

Mr Obama and John McCain blundered into the MMR vaccine row during their presidential campaigns. “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate,” said President-elect Obama. “Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it,” he said.

His words were echoed by Mr McCain. “It’s indisputable that [autism] is on the rise among children, the question is what’s causing it,” he said. “There’s strong evidence that indicates it’s got to do with a preservative in the vaccines.”

Exhaustive research has failed to substantiate any link to vaccines or any preservatives. The rise in autism is thought to be due to an increased awareness of the condition.

Sarah Palin, Mr McCain’s running mate, waded into the mire with her dismissal of some government research projects. “Sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not,” Ms Palin said.

Categories: elections, obama, palin, science, thinking Tags:

Obama and Illegal Campaign Contributions

December 26th, 2008 No comments

Obama didn’t use federal matching funds. This meant not only that he did not have to limit his spending; he also did not have to be automatically audited. Auditing Obama
Will the FEC examine the president-elect’s campaign finances?

by Hans A. von Spakovsky. It seems likely he received many millions in illegal contributions– probably the greatest amount in American history. I wonder what the remedy should be? We don’t want to overturn the election, since its result would not have changed even with $200 million in illegal contributions.

The public funding program automatically requires an audit of any candidate that receives public funds, so John McCain’s campaign will be audited without question. Since Obama is the first candidate to refuse public funding in the general election since the program started, it would be very odd if Obama avoided an audit because of his ability to raise extraordinary funds from untraceable sources.

The federal campaign finance law requires campaigns to report the name, address, occupation and employer of every contributor who gives more than $200. Yet according to the Washington Post, National Journal and Newsmax, the Obama campaign took (or failed to take) steps to ensure it was not alerted to problem donations.

Some of the acts and omissions are so cavalier, it’s hard to believe they weren’t intentional. For example, the Post reported that the Obama campaign accepted prepaid credit cards that are untraceable, and National Journal reported that the campaign didn’t implement a verification procedure to even match the names of contributors using regular credit cards with the names and addresses of the credit card holders.

When asked about it, the Obama campaign said such matching wasn’t “available in the credit card processing industry.” That is completely untrue–such verification procedures are offered by companies that service credit-card transactions, as well as by banks and telecommunications companies (and was standard procedure for the McCain campaign).

In contrast to the McCain campaign, the Obama campaign also refused to divulge the names of the millions of small-time donors who contributed (many repeatedly) under $200 to the campaign (totaling $218 million), saying it was “too difficult.” However, as Neil Munro of National Journal reported, there are “few technical obstacles to sorting and identifying small-scale donors.”…

…In contrast, the Obama campaign had no controls whatsoever to prevent illegal foreign contributions by noncitizens. An investigation by Newsmax estimated that anywhere from $13 million to $63 million may have been received by the Obama campaign from overseas credit cards or foreign currency purchases (a red flag for possibly illegal contributions). The FEC itself has flagged 16,639 potential foreign donations to Obama’s campaign. When confronted with this, the campaign started collecting passport numbers from foreign donors, a completely useless procedure since no effort was made to verify those numbers with the State Department to see if they were even valid.

Categories: elections, obama Tags:

Rick Warren’s Invocation for the Obama Inauguration

December 22nd, 2008 No comments

Pastor Bayly writes very strongly on Rick Warren and why he should not have agreed to lead the invocation prayer at Obama’s presidential inauguration:

So everyone’s talking about Rick Warren’s payoff. He gets to pray in front of millions during Senator Obama’s inauguration, calling down God’s presence and blessing on a ceremony centered around the national politician most committed to the slaughter of his nation’s children taking God’s Name in vain as he falsely promises to uphold the Constitution of these United States.

Pastor Warren has more famously offended the Left by being against homosexual marriage and abortion. His invitation by Obama is clearly a conciliatory gesture by Obama to conservative Christians. As such, I think it is right for Warren to accept it. Neither Obama nor Warren are saying that they agree with the other’s views, though each does show a certain amount of respect for the other by agreeing to be thus involved. The question is whether Obama’s strong support for abortion– even for infanticide– should disqualify him from association with gentlemen. It seems to me that expressing abhorrent views is different from actually performing evil deeds. Perhaps even evil deeds should not be a disqualifier. Jesus did eat with open sinners. Participating in a government ceremony is much less intimate, and no more public than what Jesus did. Obama has been legitimately elected our President; should we now boycott government?

But that is all about whether Warren– or Bayly, or any minister– should do the invocation or not. Rick Warren does have a problem, though: he panders to The World. I’ll discuss various quotes from this AP story:

The 54-year-old pastor and founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California told the crowd of 500 that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on everything all the time.

“You don’t have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand,” said Warren.

There is a difference between agreeing on 1 out of 100 things and agreeing on 99 out of 100 things. Warren is suggesting that he and Obama are in the second category, agreeing on everything important. It *is* wrong for Warren to walk hand in hand with Obama. That indicates agreement. I could imagine myself working in the Obama Administration as an economist, but I can’t imagine myself saying that I worked hand in hand with him. Some distance should be kept, even if Obama weren’t so wrong on abortion.

Warren said he prays for the same things for Obama that he prays for himself integrity, humility and generosity.

This is an extreme form of a bad habit of preachers: confessing to congregations
that they sin just as badly as their listeners do. Humility is not bad, but that isn’t humility. Instead, it just results in the preacher only talking about publicly acceptable sins such as pride or selfishness. I’ve never heard a preacher preach against child porn or crack cocaine and admitting that he’d just sinned that way himself last Wednesday.

In the present case, the humility is even thinner. Do we really think that Warren would agree with what he’s just implied– that Barack Obama lacks integrity, is proud, and is stingy to the poor? (otherwise, why pray for those things for him?)

Of course, if Pastor Warren really thinks abortion is wrong, then he should pray that God will forgiven Obama and change his mind about it.

… Warren also talked about singer Melissa Ethridge, who performed earlier in the evening. Warren said the two had a “wonderful conversation” and that he is a huge fan who has all her albums.

The openly lesbian gay rights activist even agreed to sign her Christmas album for him, he said.

This amounts to support for homosexuality. Warren can’t help liking her music, if he really does, but he should keep quiet about it. I like Wagner, but imagine this 1880s scene:

Warren also talked about composer Richard Wagner, whose works was performed earlier in the evening. Warren said the two had a “wonderful conversation” and that he is a huge fan who goes to all his operas.

The openly adulterous anti-semite even agreed to sign his program for him, he said.

I think Warren’s problem is that he wants everyone to like him. He wants his evangelical congregation to like him, so he has to oppose abortion. But he wants The World to like him, so he has to pretend it’s not a big deal. That way, too, he might even get feminists to like him because they’ll say, “For a fundamentalist he’s a pretty hip guy. I bet he just pretends to oppose abortion so he can keep his job.” That is the way that mainline church pastors used to be like around 1930, perhaps– officially opposing sin, but unofficially winking at the same time. Perhaps they even did oppose sin– just not enough to take a real stand against it in front of The World.

Warren has won kudos from some liberal quarters by focusing less on traditional conservative issues such as abortion and gay rights, and instead calling on evangelical leaders to devote more attention to eradicating poverty, fighting AIDS in Africa, expanding educational opportunity for the marginalized, and global warming.

The end of the article says:

Although Warren has said that he has nothing personally against gays, he has condemned same-sex marriage.

“I have many gay friends. I’ve eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church,” he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet.

This doesn’t sound bad by itself, but, again, let’s change it a bit:

Although Warren has said that he has nothing personally against drug dealers, he has condemned heroin legalization.

“I have many drug-peddling friends. I’ve eaten dinner in the homes they bought with their drug money. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church,” he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet.

There’s something wrong with this (what exactly? -it’s interesting to consider) and the same thing is wrong with his actual statement. I’d think better of him, actually, if he’d made the statement about drug dealers instead, because socializing with that kind of sinner is not the way to media popularity and he probably *would* be doing it from Christian love.

December 23: The LA Times has an op-ed that says Warren is openly orthodox on many key issues. For example:

…on the signal issues of the religious right he is, as he himself has said, as orthodox as James Dobson.

And as inflammatory. Warren doesn’t just oppose gay marriage, he’s compared it to incest and pedophilia. He doesn’t just want to ban abortion, he’s compared women who terminate pregnancies to Nazis and the pro-choice position to Holocaust denial…

Speaking of Jews, Warren has publicly stated his belief that they will burn in hell, presumably along with everyone else who hasn’t accepted his particular brand of Christianity (i.e., the vast majority of people in the world)…

At his Saddleback Church, wifely submission is official doctrine: The church website tells women to defer to their husband’s “leadership” even when he’s wrong on important issues, such as finances….

On “Hannity & Colmes,” he agreed that the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, should be killed because “the Bible says God puts government on Earth to punish evildoers.”

What are we to make of Pastor Warren? He’s written a best-selling book, so I don’t suppose it’s just that he has trouble expressing himself. Perhaps he just likes to agree with whoever he’s last talked to, and he talks to a great variety of people. Or perhaps he’s as I suggested in the post above, basically sound, but timid.

Yet more on Rick Warren. I looked at the Baylyblog’s 2005 post on Rick Warren. It’s downright embarassing how he boasts and name-drops. Some excerpts:

I read a book a day and I read tons of magazines, tons of articles, and I just devour enormous quantities of material, and thank God for the Internet…..

You know, when you speak to 23,000, 24,000 people every weekend, crowds don’t impress you anymore. … Last night, I was in Miami speaking to this huge international convention of all of the Spanish-language publishers and they gave me the city key to Miami, but really I would have more fun with you here today….

Bono called me the other day and said why don’t you come up to the U2 concert at the Staples Center because we’re both active in AIDS prevention. My wife and I have given millions to the prevention of AIDS….

Ten percent of the churches in America have now done 40 Days of Purpose and that’s just now. We will take another 10 to 15 thousand through it this year, and on and on and on. And there’s a little story of how that got started in churches and then it spread to corporations like Coca-Cola and Ford and Wal-Mart, and they started doing 40 Days of Purpose. And then it spread to all the sports teams. I spoke at the NBA All-Stars this year because all of the teams were doing 40 Days of Purpose. LPGA, NASCAR, most of the baseball teams – when the Red Sox were winning the World Series, they were going through 40 Days of Purpose during the Series. So the story of the 40 Days of Purpose is more than the story of the book. And maybe we can get back to why that touched such a nerve around the world, because The Purpose Driven Life is not just the best-selling book in American history; it’s the best-selling book in about a dozen languages. It’s in about 30 languages right now and that’s why I was at this meeting last night with the Spanish…

The three largest churches in America are Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, outside of Chicago; the Lakewood Church in Houston, which is on television, so you might have seen that one (the pastor is Joel Osteen); and then Saddleback is the largest church in America. We had our 25th anniversary on Easter this year. I did 12 services. We had 45,000 in attendance and I preached 12 services in a row.

…every pastor in America knew who I was because I put all of my sermons on an Internet site and it gets 400,000 hits a day from pastors.

I’ve spent the last 20 years training about 400,000 pastors in 162 countries. …Now, I’ve got three advanced degrees. I’ve had four years in Greek and Hebrew and I’ve got doctorates. …I was teaching this Purpose-Driven church seminar, and we simulcast it to 400 sites across the continent, and I trained in that time just about 90,000 pastors, in that one week. …Last week I spoke to 4,000 pastors at my church who came from over 100 denominations in over 50 countries. …I have an email newsletter called Rick’s Toolbox that goes out every Monday to almost 147,000 pastors. And I write a little note every Monday. I sit in my pajamas, hit the button, it goes to 147,000 pastors….

Last night I signed a book for Viktor Yuschenko, who asked for a copy of The Purpose Driven Life. A few months ago, I signed a Purpose Driven Life for Fidel Castro, who asked for one.

He doesn’t seem to ever think, just talk. That same blog post excerpts a Larry King interview in which King presses Warren on whether God caused Hurricane Katrina and Warren evades the repeated question clumsily, as if he really has no idea how to answer it and never heard of the Question of Evil. And what Warren says about his reception from audiences that should be hostile is revealing:

I’ve had two state dinners in China in Tienanmen Square and People’s Hall with their government, with the bureaucrats there, with the Cabinet members. I’ve actually had them in our home and had them in our church, and they’ve given me pretty much carte blanche in China for some reason.

When I went to Harvard a month ago, I honestly expected a pretty hostile audience – I’m an evangelical pastor and I’m going into Harvard. And I went in and I spoke four times and they gave me a standing ovation…

… when the book hit 15 million, I called up Rupert Murdoch and I said, “What are you going to do to celebrate my book?” And he goes, “Well, what do you want to do?” I go, “I want you to throw a party and I want you to invite all your secular elite friends from Manhattan and let me talk to them.” And he goes, “Okay.” (Chuckles.) So he sends out a list, he invited 350 people, who’s who in Manhattan to the top of the Rainbow Room, and I went up there and you know, I just started talking to them – again, standing ovation.

He just doesn’t realize what he’s saying. Here’s a bit of logic. Major Premise: Audience X is hostile to Christians. Minor Premise: Audience X was not hostile to Rick Warren. Conclusion—you draw it.

I was wondering whether the problem was that Warren had perhaps never gone to seminary and studied the Bible and theology in classes. But the interview quoted above says otherwise. I guess he illustrates that “discernment” really is a spiritual gift. He has a pathological lack of it.

Something else. From a comment on the Baylyblog post cited above:

John Aravosis of Americablog noticed on Friday that Rick Warren’s church website explicitly bans gay people “unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle” from membership at Saddleback. (They are allowed, however, to attend services.)

Now Warren has removed the anti-gay language from the church website.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/23/rick-warren-scrubs-anti-g_n_153068.html

That’s bad. But I found something else that shows that Warren is actually much worse than I’d thought, though– that he knowingly perverts Christianity, and, more shocking to an academic like me even though it shouldn’t be, he intentionally misquotes the Bible. T

The Gospel: A Method or a Message? How the Purpose Driven Life Obscures the Gospel by Bob DeWaay is a very good essay on Warren’s misuse of the Bible and his hazy, bad, theology.

Rick Warren begins the first day of his journey by saying, “It’s not about you” (Warren: 17). Yet the entire book “feels” like it is about you and reads like self-help literature. He dedicates the book to “you” on the first page after the copyright information and uses the pronoun “you” continually throughout the book. Consider the following from day eight:

You were planned for God’s pleasure. The moment you were born into the world God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth. He wanted you alive, and your arrival gave him great pleasure. God did not need to create you, but he chose to create you for his own enjoyment. . . . Bringing enjoyment to God, living for his pleasure, is the first purpose of your life. When you fully understand this truth, you will never again have a problem with feeling insignificant. It proves your worth. If you are that important to God, and he considers you valuable enough to keep with him for eternity, what greater significance could you have? (Warren: 63).

His statement that this is not about “you” is disingenuous (insincere). His style, word usage, Man-centeredness, distorted Bible translations, and many overt statements show that the book is about you!

and

Earlier I mentioned that reading The Purpose Driven Life and checking it out with the Bible is a tedious task. Let me illustrate this using one of Warren’s Bible references. Here is Warren’s quote, “The Bible says, ‘Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self’” (Warren: 19). There is an endnote that takes us to the back of the book. Once there, looking for endnote 3, we have to figure out which of the forty days we are in. So with one finger in the endnote section, we go back to where we started to find out we were in day one. Now we go back to the end note section for day one and find out the reference is to Matthew 16:25 Msg. Assuming that msg is not the food additive, we proceed to the section in the back of the book that tells us the meaning of the abbreviations, and we find out that it is from a Bible called The Message. Now, having determined what passage is under consideration, we get out a real Bible (not a paraphrase) and find out what Matthew 16:25 says. Here it is: “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Now we need to compare Matthew 16:25 with The Message perversion of it. In the context, Jesus was speaking of dying to self by taking up one’s cross (Matthew 16:24). The cross was not a burden to bear, but an executioner’s device. A person seen carrying his cross had literally been sentenced to death and was on the way to the place where he would be executed. So the person who “loses his life” is the one who has died to all hopes and dreams that the “self” ever had in this life. He is willing to suffer the loss of everything, even life itself if need be, for the sake of the gospel. His reward is eternal life. …

Having established the meaning of Matthew 16:25 in context, now we must return to the verse as cited by Warren: “Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.” Matthew 16:25 is not discussing self-help, it is discussing life and death. Matthew 16:25 is not discussing “finding your true self.” The idea of a “true self” is a term of psychology and is not found in the Bible. Matthew 16:25 is not talking about self-sacrifice, it is talking about dying to self…. Warren’s version of the passage suggests that by self-sacrifice we find our “true selves.” All false religions teach self-sacrifice, and finding one’s true self is a New Age lie. The truth of the gospel is that we must die to self through the cross and put all of our hope in Christ by faith in His finished work.

Now, having established that The Message does not even have the same concepts as the Biblical passage it claims to be a paraphrase of, let’s return to Warren’s book and see how Warren uses it. He uses it to show that we need to find out the purposes God created us for. He says, “It is about becoming what God created you to be” (Warren: 19). Now we have been Bereans, searched the Scriptures, and found that Warren is abusing them. He has obscured the clear gospel message in Matthew 16:24, 25 and replaced it with a spiritual journey to find the “true self.” So Warren ostensibly is telling us we do not need self-help and then sends us on a self-sacrificing journey to find our true self (which is self-help). …

The essay ends like this:

In 1982 Robert Schuller announced his plans for a new reformation based on self_esteem.3 His stated purpose was to make theology less God-centered and more man-centered. Now that Rick Warren has sold eleven million copies of the Purpose Driven Life, he too wants a new reformation. He is promoting a PEACE plan to solve the world’s five biggest problems.4 Apparently, the church needs a new reformation every twenty years. What happened to Schuller’s reformation?

Thinking about this and carefully studying Warren’s book, I have come to the conclusion that Rick Warren is completely in step with Schuller’s reformation, and is carrying it forward in a way that is more appealing to evangelicals (whether or not he is consciously following Schuller). Warren’s man-centered theology comes with more evangelical ideas than does Schuller’s. Warren includes many more Biblical truths than Schuller ever did. In my opinion this makes Warren more deceptive than Schuller. Schuller ignored the Bible and depended on psychological concepts. Warren uses perverted Bible translations that change God-centered passages to man-centered passages. By carefully selecting the right mistranslation for each of his teaching points he has made the man-centered theology touted by Schuller seem Biblical.

Now Warren wants to reform the church to focus on social action rather than gospel preaching. Wow! Look how far we have come. One of these times this man-centered reformation will succeed. When it does the modern evangelical church will be the latest incarnation of liberalism.5

Each of us must choose between a man-centered, man-made method loosely derived from parts of the Bible and the clear message of the gospel. Rick Warren promotes the former, a broad path with millions of fellow travelers; John MacArthur promotes the latter, a narrow path that few follow.

The gospel is based on a crucified Jewish Messiah, a concept offensive to all sinners. However, to those who embrace the scandal of the cross and by faith escape the just wrath of God, that gospel is the power of God for salvation. Dear reader, you have a choice between a spiritual journey to discover your purpose and the message of the gospel that declares God’s purposes. The one will make you think you are on the path to heaven when you may not be, the other will put you on the path to heaven by God’s sovereign power. I urge you to embrace the gospel on God’s terms.

Categories: obama, politics, religion Tags:

Blagojevich Bribes the Tribune with State Money

December 9th, 2008 No comments

The charges against Illinois Gov. Blagojevich show why we have to worry about government bailouts resulting in political interference. He conditioned aid to the Chicago Tribune on the support of its editorial page.

…Intercepted calls allegedly show that Blagojevich directed Harris to inform Tribune Owner and an associate, identified as Tribune Financial Advisor, that state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment. In a November 4 phone call, Blagojevich allegedly told Harris that he should say to Tribune Financial Advisor, Cubs Chairman and Tribune Owner, “our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get ‘em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support.”

On November 6, the day of a Tribune editorial critical of Blagojevich , Harris told Blagojevich that he told Tribune Financial Advisor the previous day that things “look like they could move ahead fine but, you know, there is a risk that all of this is going to get derailed by your own editorial page.” Harris also told Blagojevich that he was meeting with Tribune Financial Advisor on November 10.

In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner “got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.” Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be “certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he’s going after that section.” Blagojevich allegedly responded. “Oh. That’s fantastic.” After further discussion, Blagojevich said, “Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You’re the man. Good job, John.”

In a further conversation on November 21, Harris told Blagojevich that he had singled out to Tribune Financial Advisor the Tribune’s deputy editorial page editor, John McCormick, “as somebody who was the most biased and unfair.” After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured Harris that the Tribune would be making changes affecting the editorial board, Blagojevich allegedly had a series of conversations with Chicago Cubs representatives regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field. …

Categories: corruption, government, politics Tags:

Slate’s Exchange between Kmiec and Douhat on Abortion

November 23rd, 2008 1 comment

Slate had an exchange between Douglas Kmiec and Ross Douhat that shows very well the approach of the feminized male to political thinking and discussion, the European social philosophy leftism of even conservative Roman Catholics, the gullible bandwagon-jumping of so many Christians, and, perhaps, the “emergent church” attitude.

To summarize: Professor Kmiec (a devout Catholic and a former high Reagan official, remarkably) argued that anti-abortion people should really vote for Barack Obama, because he would spend more on anti-poverty programs that would reduce abortion, appointing anti-Roe judges reduces the quality of the judiciary, and regulating abortion makes Republicans the party of hate, not love. Mr. Douhat responded by attacking these claims and calling Kmiec a fool and a shill for liberals. Kmiec responded by saying how cruel Douhat was, forgiving him, and offering to pray for him. Carlson responded by saying that Kmiec should act like a man, and Douhat was right anyway.

Here are excerpts. Kmiec II and Carlson are the most fun to read.

Kmiec I:

Republicans have been trying to sell themselves for so long on the basis of judicial appointments and the supposed “fifth vote” to overturn Roe, sometimes you wonder if they realize how selecting judges on that basis disserves the rule of law. …

The Democrats had a brilliant strategy on abortion this year: Don’t play the futile court speculation game. Instead, Obama’s team promoted life in ways that don’t depend upon a Supreme Court vacancy and cooperating nominee. Specifically, Obama had the Dems commit to promote life with enhanced social and economic assistance. This idea had traction—the Catholic vote literally switched from Republican to Democrat, going (in preliminary numbers) 55-45 for Obama nationwide, which is amazing given the amount of outright lies and falsehoods the GOP was purveying about the president-elect on this issue. (Not to mention the co-conspiring clergy the Republicans captured, who were literally preaching that voters would go to hell for voting for Barack.) The Republicans became the party of fear and damnation rather than solution or respect for life. As a consequence, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia are in the Democratic, not the Republican, column.

It’s admittedly hard to untie the abortion knot, but here’s a thought: Republicans could have moved a constitutional amendment that would presume life to begin at conception, while further providing that no government, federal or state, is competent to legislate on the question absent a supermajority. The effect? Taking the Supreme Court’s “activist” thumb off the scale against life while at the same time avoiding the criminalization of a woman’s freedom. This is not the ideal Catholic position, but it’s closer, and the Catholic Church has less standing to complain about a grant of freedom that could then be fairly influenced by the moral instruction associated with a woman’s religious choice….

Finally, beyond these somewhat wonkish ideas for policy innovation, Republicans ought to remember occasionally that they are—or at least were—the party of Lincoln, and ought to promote civil and human rights. That is better than dragging one’s feet on reasonable ways to break up the systematic racism or gender stereotypes that still inhabit much of our culture.

Douhat 1:

The trouble with seeking common ground on abortion is that the legal regime enacted by Roe and reaffirmed in Casey permits only the most minimal regulation of the practice, which means that any plausible “compromise” that leaves Roe in place will offer almost nothing to pro-lifers. Even the modest restrictions that prevail in many European countries (and that, not coincidentally, coincide with lower abortion rates) are out of the question under the current legal dispensation. This, in turn, explains why the national debate inevitably revolves around the composition of the Supreme Court and the either/or question of whether a president will appoint justices likely to chip away the Roe-Casey regime or justices likely to uphold it. …

…to my mind any pro-choice American who sincerely seeks a national consensus on the subject of abortion should support overturning Roe and returning the issue to the democratic process—a position that I would have liked to see the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani experiment with, for instance, in his quest to become the GOP nominee. But I certainly understand why pro-choicers don’t see things quite that way.

What I don’t understand at all is Kmiec’s position, which seems to be that the contemporary Democratic Party, and particularly the candidacy of Barack Obama, offered nearly as much to pro-lifers as the Republican Party does. I am sure that Kmiec is weary of being called a fool by opponents of abortion for his tireless pro-Obama advocacy during this election cycle, but if so, then the thing for him to do is to cease acting like the sort of person for whom the term “useful idiot” was coined, rather than persisting in his folly. …

…what he calls “outright lies and falsehoods” about Obama’s views were, in fact, more or less the truth: The Democratic nominee ran on a record that can only be described as “very, very pro-choice,” and his stated positions on abortion would involve rolling back nearly all the modest—but also modestly effective—restrictions that pro-lifers have placed upon the practice and/or appointing judges who would do the same. There may have been reasons for anti-abortion Americans to vote for Barack Obama in spite of his position that abortion should be essentially unregulated and funded by taxpayer dollars. But Kmiec’s suggestion that Obama took the Democrats in anything like a pro-life direction on the issue doesn’t pass the laugh test. (And nor, I might add, does his bizarre argument that because the goal of placing a fifth anti-Roe justice on the court is somehow unrealistic, the pro-life movement should pursue a far more implausible constitutional amendment instead.)…

I can’t begin to fathom why the GOP should consider taking any advice whatsoever from a “pro-lifer” who has spent the past year serving as an increasingly embarrassing shill for the opposition party’s objectively pro-abortion nominee.

Kmiec 2:

I am stunned by the coarseness of your writing, Ross. While we have not met, so little of what you have written is in any way respectful or acknowledges that you are addressing not some abstraction but a fellow human that I can only pray that if any of your family or closest friends come into contact with this commentary that they reach out to you in the most gentle and understanding way, without precondition, to calm an anger that is harmful to the soul.

Genuine love and affection do not reside on the Internet, so I cannot extend it to you, but in my heart, I forgive your great unkindness. I do hope you can free yourself from its enslavement. Realize that your meaning is bound up in the occasions in your life to be of service. Ross, once you allow yourself to see your dependence upon others, and their need for you, I am certain you will appreciate the cruelty of what you have written…. One could sense that anger in the mobs riled by Mrs. Palin’s tirades about Obama being in a conspiracy of some sort with Bill Ayers. It was frightening to see on tape, and it is even uglier to see it rear its head here.

Ross, you are not ordinary in God’s eyes; nor are the women facing abortion as a tragic answer to a dismal, impoverished, and near-hopeless existence. Ross, you and she are brother and sister made in God’s image and are expected to be of help to one another. That is a lesson for the Republicans.

If it be useful idiocy to save even one child from death by lifting up the economic or social prospects of the mother, I accept the title as an honor among men. It is pro-life. If it is hypocritical not to want to treat as criminal the woman abandoned by the selfishness of an abusive spouse, I embrace the hypocrisy. It, too, is pro-life. …

…in the reminder from Benedict XVI, St. Paul admonished Christians to be reconciled with their brothers before receiving Holy Communion; and Pope Benedict echoes his words: “Each time you come to the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist, may your souls open to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the excuses of those who have hurt you and ready, in your turn, to forgive.”

Carlson (in full):

Hey, Doug. Toughen up. Seriously. I’ve read suicide notes that were less passive-aggressive than this. Let’s review what actually happened: You argued that Obama is not a pro-choice extremist. Ross disagreed. Rather than respond with a counterpoint, you got hysterical, dismissing Ross as a hater, even fretting about the future of his soul.

Come on. Get some perspective. And for God’s sake, stop whining. For a moment there, you reminded me of the McCain campaign, bitching about “sexism” when people started to ask tough questions of Sarah Palin. Republicans didn’t used to talk this way. Let’s stop the trend now, starting with you.

I understand it must have hurt when Ross accused you of shilling for Obama. On the other hand, he’s right. You did shill for Obama. That’s not Ross’ fault. Don’t blame him.

But if you are going to blame him, do it directly, like a man, without all the encounter-group talk and Pope quotes. People often attack the religious right, sometimes with justification. But as you just reminded us, there is nothing in the world more annoying than the religious left.

Douhat II:

Douglas, Tucker, Jim, Kathleen, and Christine,

I don’t want to hijack this entire discussion, so let me just say that I appreciate Douglas Kmiec’s prayers and leave it at that.

I do, however, want to second Tucker’s earlier point about the importance of finding candidates who can actually communicate. Going back to Bush the elder,…

November 24. There’s been speculation as to why Prof. Kmiec would make such a weak case for Obama. Could it be that he’s so serious about ending abortion that he’s hoping Obama will appoint him to the Supreme Court, so he himself can be the “Fifth Vote” and reverse Roe?

Categories: abortion, elections, religion Tags:

Novak Wisdom

November 22nd, 2008 No comments

From an interview with Robert Novak (via Advance Indiana) comes a lot of interesting things. This is important to history.

The most interesting Republicans right now are a few young House members. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the best of them. Also Jeff Flake of Arizona and Jeb Hensarling of Texas. They are known in the House as right-wingers. I would describe them as reformers. They think there’s been too much corruption and waste. They are supply-siders. They are very upset with earmarks and very, very upset with the passive leadership we have today….

Q: You’ve had some unparalleled sources. How does one go about cultivating them?

A: What I’m going to say may come as a shock, because I’m not a terribly likable person, but you gotta get a source to like you. There’s very little that I or any other journalist can really do for a politician. A favorable column is not all that much, so there’s not much payback. It’s gotta be “I want to help Novak because I like him.” That may sound naive, but it’s true.

Senator Pat Moynihan was one of my great sources. I don’t believe he said, “Boy, if Novak writes this column, I’m going to really be in much better shape.” He thought I was an interesting guy and had interesting ideas, and he liked to talk about things with me. …

I was just a Midwestern country boy when I came here. Rowly (Evans) was an elite Philadelphian. I didn’t realize how much a lunch was part of the whole source/reporter equation. Rowly learned that from Joseph and Stewart Alsop. If Rowly didn’t have a meal with a source, it was a bad day. Quite often he would have two sources for the same meal, usually breakfast….

Q: In your memoir, you describe an early meeting in the Oval Office with Reagan in which he quoted a couple of obscure 19th-century British free-trade advocates and some little-known modern Austrian economists. How underrated intellectually do you think Reagan was?

A: He was extremely underrated, particularly by the press. The press was very derisive. They were derisive of Eisenhower, too — they thought he was just another Army officer — but the attacks on Reagan were harsher. He was portrayed as stupid, uneducated, out of his element. I think he was very well educated and understood a lot of things. He was also very flexible in his policies — too flexible for my taste.

Q: How do you feel about Dick Cheney?

A: I think he’s the most forceful, effective vice president in history.

I like some of the things he’s done. I think he was instrumental in getting the tax cuts through, which I approve of. I’m at odds with his aggressive military policy, but he’s put a new dimension on the vice presidency that I don’t think will be continued and maybe shouldn’t be continued. …

I think Dean Rusk, for example, was totally the president’s man. Colin Powell leaned heavily the other way, maybe too much, trying to protect the Foreign Service….

Q: Who do you think were the best legislators?

A: Legislators are funny. One of the best-equipped legislators was Wilbur Mills, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. He really knew trade, taxes — he really knew the field. He was very smart and came across as a shrewd bargainer. But he never got anything done.

A more recent chair of the Ways and Means committee was Bill Thomas, who was considered by his colleagues to be the smartest guy in town. I think Bill considered himself the smartest guy in the world. But he was very meager in terms of accomplishments. It’s hard to get things passed.

If you go by accomplishments, the best was Lyndon Johnson. There’s not even a close second in terms of getting bills passed. The reason: He was a trader, and he never took no for an answer. He could bargain into the night. …

Q: What about Newt Gingrich?

A: I thought he was a failure as speaker and a great success as a political manager in getting a Republican majority in the House….

Q: What’s the most helpful thing someone can say to a person who’s gravely ill?

A: There’s not much you can say. A lot of people say: “You’re a tough guy and a fighter. You’re gonna beat this.” Well, I don’t know if I will beat it. Being tough and a fighter have nothing to do with it. I guess the most helpful thing they can say, if they’re a man or woman of faith, is to tell me they’re praying for me.

Categories: government, history, politics Tags:

The Lesson of the 2008 Election

November 22nd, 2008 No comments

I haven’t seen any pundit talk about the main lesson of the 2008 election: run a candidate that the voters like. A simple lesson, isn’t it? Think about what happened. The Republican favorites were Giuliani, Romney, and McCain. None of them were sound conservatives. Giuliani was an out-and-out liberal, and an adulterer. Romney was an out-and-out liberal who promised that he’d reformed and was really conservative, and he was a Mormon. Being a Mormon is not like being a Moslem or an Orthodox Jew— Mormons have some truly weird beliefs and require rigid obedience to the hierarchy. McCain was an inconsistent conservative, and a repentant adulterer. Worst, though, was that he had never been loyal to the Republican Party, preferring the praise of the media and the support of independents, and he clearly disliked social conservatives. If some real Republican had run, he would have won the nomination, Republicans would have been at least mildly enthusiastic and turned out in November, and he would have won. If even Sarah Palin, unknown governor of Alaska, had done that she would be our President-Elect. Thompson didn’t run, though and Brownback dropped out early. Huckabee, a smart man, did run, and did very well, but it turned out that he was not conservative on economics and perhaps on foreign issues, and he criticized our conservative President too freely. Indeed, Huckabee seems to have been an old 1920s Democrat on everything but race.

How about the Democrats? A similar story, but with a happier ending for them. Hillary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite, and she was trying to be moderate to get ready for the general election. The conventional wisdom was that she’d lose in November anyway. Thus, the Democratic leaders were unhappy. Also, she’s unethical, like her husband, without having his likeability, and reminds people of the embarassing Clinton years. But almost everybody was too chicken to run against her. Barack Obama was not. Being Not-Clinton, he won, strongly helped by being a true leftwinger and being black. With the Party’s left on his side, and the black and other party leaders secretly relieved he was running, he was able to replace Hillary.

Thus, in the general election the Democrats had acquired a candidate they liked and the Republicans had not. Democrats turned out to vote, and Republicans did not. Obama won.

It’s too bad I was at Oxford last year. I could have run for President. If I’d had 2 million dollars I could have gotten the nomination maybe. More seriously, if I’d energetically worked to get some other unknown with brains, good inside connections, and no track record of professorial eccentricity to run, I could have gotten him nominated. David Mackintosh, Joshua Davidson, Mark Baker, David Snyder, David Frum, or Steve Calabresi would have done nicely. It’s interesting that I have a harder time of thinking of anyone I didn’t meet via college.

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Why Did McCain Lose?

November 19th, 2008 No comments

Of course, the obvious reasons McCain lost are that (a) the economy went into recession in the summer, (b) the Credit Crunch occurred, (c) Obama spent about twice as much (the figures are surprisingly hard to find for general election spending), (d) big media favors Obama. But it is still interesting to discuss what else mattered. There have been some people saying that McCain’s problem was that he was too conservative on social issues. Just to state that is to sound ridiculous. McCain famously dislikes religious conservatives and, in fact, the only social issue I can think of on which he is conservative is abortion, which he downplayed during the campaign. He did choose Palin as his VP candidate, as a gesture towards conservatives in the party, but his staff then spent considerable effort undercutting her.

What McCain did was to run as a hawk on foreign policy— not as a conservative, but as hawk, please note– and as I’m not sure what on economic policy. He supported the Bush tax cuts, but Obama also postured as a tax cutter, so the difference between them was not clear to the ordinary voter. McCain emphasized free trade, but he did not run as a free marketeer generally. He criticized speculators and oil companies, and in general sounded more populist than conservative except for a tendency to talk about small businesses instead of workers. And he was very quiet about social issues.

What would have happened if he had resolutely attacked homosexuality? Look at what happened with the state ballot measures. Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage won with 56% of the vote. (McCain won Arizona at just 54%.) Florida’s won with 62%. (McCain got just 49% of the vote there.) California’s won with 52%. (McCain got just 37% of the vote there.) Arkansas’ ban on same-sex adoption won with 57%. (McCain did get 59% there.) If homosexuality had been the focus issue, it seems McCain could have become President– if he was willing to take the conservative position rather than follow the country clubs.

People talk about the need for the Republicans to attract more blacks and hispanics. Exit polls say that in California a massive 70% of blacks voted for the ban on gay marriage. Here’s the obvious issue to steal away Democrat voters. The flat tax just isn’t going to do it.

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Contiguity of Counties

November 15th, 2008 No comments

Professor Bainbridge posts this good map and notes that McCainland is much more continguous than Obamaland.

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Where McCain Did Better than Bush

November 8th, 2008 No comments
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