Conservative Archives

Friday Link Wrap-up (Catch-up Edition)

More links this week since I didn’t get around to it last week.

What’s keeping this recession going for so long?  Ask James Madison.  Yes, that James Madison.

The 6th Circuit judge that upheld the health care reform individual mandate to buy insurance has really redefined terms in order to make his ruling.

With that reasoning, Judge Steeh thoroughly unmoors the commerce clause from its concern with actual economic activity that Congress can regulate to a more amorphous realm of “economic decisions” which apparently include the decision to NOT enter into commerce at all.

A better example of an activist judge you’re not likely to find soon.

Roger Ebert, in reviewing “Waiting for Superman”, acknowledges that the private school highlighted does better than public school, proclaiming “Our schools do not work”.  His solution?  (Wait for it…)  More money for public schools, for the ones that don’t work instead of encouraging what does work and at typically a lower cost per student.  Liberal education policies are now just talking points rather than reasoned arguments.

Remembering a sociopathic mass murderer, who is extolled by liberal students T-shirts everywhere.  (No, not Charles Manson. I’m talking about Che Guevara.)

The Rise of the (Conservative, Christian) Woman in American politics.

Juan Williams responds to the NPR sacking.  Ah, the tolerant Left in action.

And to close it out, two cartoons to make up for missing a week.  I just love Chuck Asay.  (Click for larger versions.)

Is the Tea Party a Christian Movement?

Timothy Dalrymple, in his second article of a series on the Tea party, asks this question.  (His first was; is it a social justice movement?  More are coming.)  He asks this particular question because of a similar question asked by Jim Wallis, he of Sojourners and the Christian Left. 

Dalrymple notes that, for starters, that for a guy who doesn’t like to be caricatured (and who does?), Wallis certainly uses it to make his points.  Some excerpts from Dalrymple:

The first sleight of hand comes in the phase, "Tea Party Libertarianism." Wallis poses the question: "Just how Christian is the Tea Party movement — and the Libertarian political philosophy that lies behind it?" Yet not all Tea Party supporters are Libertarians, and Wallis twists the Libertarian "political philosophy" beyond recognition.


How, then, does Reverend Wallis describe the "political philosophy" of the Tea Party? Wallis likens the Tea Partiers to the murderous Cain, who believed or pretended to believe that he was not his brother’s keeper.


Finally (I will deal with the racism charge in the third part of this series), Wallis condemns the Tea Party’s "preference for the strong over the weak" through its "supreme confidence in the market" — indeed, in a "sinless market" that has no need for oversight or regulation. The values of the Tea Party do not honor "God’s priorities" but "the priorities of the Chamber of Commerce."

These are powerful claims. They are also patently absurd. Only those who are already conditioned to expect the worst of political conservatives can believe that this represents a fair and honest account of the beliefs and values of the Tea Party movement. Would any Tea Partier — any single one, out of the millions across America who support or participate in the movement — actually accept this definition? It is an astonishing distortion of the Tea Party message to reduce it to "just leave me alone and don’t spend my money."

Rather than painting the movement with the brush of Rand Paul, Reverend Wallis might have consulted the polling data that shows what the majority of Tea Party supporters believe. He would have found a reality that defies the caricature.

Dalrymple proceeds to deal with these caricatures one by one, showing that Wallis either has no idea what the Tea Partiers really stand for, or who they really are.  Dalrymple does a good job of being moderate in his pronouncements, noting, in many places, that neither side, Wallis nor the Tea Partiers, inhabit the extreme positions they each are often accused of, and does a great job of explaining what’s really going on in conservatives’ heads.  Example:

What also needs to be refuted is the notion that resistance to higher levels of taxation is necessarily selfish. To resent a tax hike (or the prospect of one) is not to neglect the needy, and to wish to retain control over the funds one has secured in order to care for one’s family is not necessarily selfish. Conservatives generally are more generous with their giving than liberals, yet they resent it when a distant bureaucracy extracts their money in order to distribute public funds to the special interest groups on whose votes and donations they rely. Conservatives would prefer that care for the needy remain as local and personal as possible. Jobless Joe is more accountable to use the money he is given wisely, and to strive to become self-sufficient as swiftly as possible, when he receives that money from the members of the church down the street. This is not to deny that government services are needed, but it is to refute the notion that "taxed enough already" is a slogan of economic narcissism.

So, is this a Christian movement?  Dalrymple’s answer is a solid "yes and no".  I’ll let you read the whole thing to get his complete take on it, but answering this provided another point of moderation between the two sides.

In the New York Times poll, 39% of Tea Party supporters identified themselves as evangelicals or "born again," and 83% identify as Protestant or Catholic. If Wallis were correct in his description of the philosophy that undergirds their movement, then these conservative Christians would be abandoning the essential ethical principles of their faith. Yet this is hardly the case. What separates Jim Wallis from the Tea Partiers is not a difference of moral quality, or the presence and absence of compassion, but a different vision of the society that biblical love and justice require.

This is a much more sober description of the differences that in Wallis’ article.  In it, he labels some of the (supposed, caricatures) values of the Tea Party as "decidedly un-Christian", while at the same time saying he wants to "have the dialog".  In reality, he’s made up his mind already.  Dalrymple, arguing from the Right, gives both sides a benefit of the doubt that Wallis doesn’t seem to be willing to do.

In his (always excellent) column yesterday, James Taranto noted that, earlier this month, President Obama was calling small-government conservatives hypocrites for expecting the government to lead in the Gulf oil spill issue.

In an interview with Politico, the president said: "I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, big-government overregulation and wasteful spending."

The president also implied that anti-big government types such as tea party activists were being hypocritical on the issue.

"Some of the same folks who have been hollering and saying ‘do something’ are the same folks who, just two or three months ago, were suggesting that government needs to stop doing so much," Obama said. "Some of the same people who are saying the president needs to show leadership and solve this problem are some of the same folks who, just a few months ago, were saying this guy is trying to engineer a takeover of our society through the federal government that is going to restrict our freedoms."

Got that? If you didn’t support Obama’s effort to take over the health-care system, you’re a hypocrite if you expect him to lead in a crisis, and the oil spill is the fault of the minority party in Congress for its hypothetical opposition that hypothetically deterred Obama from taking hypothetical preventive measures.

Obama makes it clear that he has no idea at all what the Tea Partiers are all about (or he does, and feigns ignorance to make some political points).  Small government types are actually more correctly labeled "right-sized government" types.  It just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily. 

Our Constitution enumerates the powers of government, and was written with a particular role of government in mind.  Our Founding Fathers, understanding man’s fallen nature as revealed in the Bible and seeking to restrain the inevitable power grab that all governments throughout history had tended towards, tried to restrain the beast while still providing enough power to do the job it was intended to do.

And so the Tea Partiers seek to restore government to that role and restraint.  It so happens that this proper size of government is quite a bit smaller than what we have now, so "smaller government" is a good enough label for now.  And the health care takeover is just the latest and most blatant attempt to "super-size" this beast.

But comparing opposition to the health care bill with criticism of the federal government’s handling of the Gulf oil spill is like comparing apples with prime numbers.  One is not what our Constitution intended (and some are making the case that it doesn’t allow it at all), especially requiring all citizens to purchase something and penalize them if they don’t.  The other is an interstate crisis that the federal government is specifically for. 

In this case, Obama has been dithering while Louisiana tried to get booms or barrier islands to block the oil.  He didn’t use a well-tested and very effective method to clean things up early on.  He turned down offers of help from 17 countries.  He’s used this disaster to push for ethanol subsidies that have been panned by both Republicans and Democrats alike for, among other things, shrinking the food supply in poor countries.

Are those of us "small government" types hypocritical to suggest we get leadership from our President in a time of crisis?  No, we’re not, and either the President knows this but is willing to use this situation to score political points, or he’s hopelessly ignorant about his critics. 

In the meantime, we’re stuck with a community organizer in the Oval Office who won’t or can’t or doesn’t know how to lead.  BP deserves what it gets (and likely more) as the fallout from this spill continues, but President Obama is likely to be protected by his party and what supporters he still has left.  (Hey, when you’ve lost James Carville, you’ve lost a lot of the Left.)  It’s a teachable moment.  Is the President in class?

More Socially Just

Which country’s citizens see it as more socially just; the capitalistic United States, or the bit-more-socialist Germany?

70 % of Germans polled consider their economic system hardly or not at all socially just. "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds that 24% believe American society is generally unfair and discriminatory".

The very of embodiment of capitalism, the U.S., fares better in the category "social justice" than welfare state Germany, based on the subjective judgement of each population?

Makes you wonder whether Germany shouldn’t turn to American style capitalism in order to improve social justice in the country…

Hey, Michael Moore, do you hear me? Michael?

As German blogger David notes, this is a subjective measure, but it’s very interesting to see the huge disparity.  Part of this is likely due to what each country’s people consider "socially just", so that standard may be different.  But I think that’s an important issue.  I find it very likely that Germans, who have come to expect more hand-holding by their government, don’t see what their government does as enough, mostly because government can never do "enough".  At some point the individual has to own their situation, but growing up and living in a culture where this is expected, any time the government falls short (and it will fall short, a lot) is perceived as "unjust", and contributes to an overall disappointment with a government that is quite possibly redistributing much more wealth than the United States.

In the US, the pendulum can swing the other way, too.  In a country built on individualism, it’s possible that most might see the economic system as being just fine, might see those not making it as moochers, and thus consider it more "just".  But as has been noted before, the same folks who defend capitalism the most (i.e. the center-right in this country) also give more in charity personally, in both time and money, and don’t expect the government (i.e. everybody else) to do it for them.  They own their own social justice issue, and thus, I believe, see it as just.  Not perfect, because neither situation is, and people will fall through the cracks under both systems.  But they do own it themselves.

Obama Descending, Tea Party Ascending

Arlen Specter joins 3 other high-profile politicians who, having been campaigned for by President Barack Obama, lost their race.  Erick Erickson has a summary of yesterday’s primary results in which Rand Paul, who associated himself with the Tea Party, handily beat Trey Grayson. 

Jay Cost at RealClearPolitics notes, however, that as much as the current administration would like to classify it as such, this is not as simple as a general anti-incumbent movement.

But how many Republican incumbents are in severe jeopardy of losing their seat in Congress to a Democratic challenger?

I count one: Joseph Cao of New Orleans.

Meanwhile, I count more than 20 Democrats in the House and Senate who are in severe jeopardy. Lower the threshold from "severe" to "serious" jeopardy, and I count maybe four Republicans and more than 50 Democrats.

The White House is absolutely, positively correct that there is a divide between America and Washington – but what they fail to appreciate (or, more likely, they appreciate it but want to fake-out the press) is that Washington, D.C. now belongs to Barack Obama.

Cost is zeroing in on ousting an incumbent from one party with a challenger of the other.  He’s not considering situations like Bob Bennett’s, where he lost his primary bid earlier this month (a distant third) to another Tea Partier.  But even this plays into Cost’s contention.  Bennett wasn’t ousted simply because he was an incumbent.  The Tea Party is an ideological movement, and Republicans in Utah spoke loudly that they want their representatives to demonstrate conservative principles.  Reaching across the aisle, as good as that can be, should not trump principles.  The Republican Party has lost touch with its base, trying to show how much they can be just like Democrats, too.  (See the spending habits of George W. Bush and the Republican Congress for examples.) 

The election of Scott Brown and these primaries were the warm-up acts, I believe, of a rejection of Barack Obama’s policies.  The November elections will be the main event.  It’s still 6 months until then, but it appears that the ideas of the Tea Party are resonating with Americans, and they’re not showing any sign of going away.

"Tea Party Crashers" Fail Miserably

In telegraphing their intentions to infiltrate yesterday’s Tea Party protests, Jason Levin and his comrades gave Tea Party proponents a chance to prepare to disavow, not just folks from "Crash the Tea Party", but even nuts from within their own ranks.  Armed with signs helpfully supplied by Andrew Breibart’s "Big Government" web site, protesters could get in front of the media coverage curve and completely deflate attempts to push the perception of the movement out of the mainstream.

And it seems to have worked.  And some people brought their own signs to out the provocateurs

But given the history of Tea Party coverage on the broadcast news networks, this was required, and I’m guessing these signs will now become a staple at protests.  Well, at least at conservative-leaning protests.  The liberal side of the aisle hasn’t said much about the socialists that find common cause with them, but now that a precedent has been set, it’ll be interesting to see if they follow suit and let us know who does and doesn’t speak for them. 

But a big "thank you" should go out to Jason Levin for alerting the protestors and allowing them to prepare.  One wonders that if Jason really believes the Tea Partier are a bunch of racist, homophobic morons, why would they need any help looking that way?  Perhaps the premise is fatally flawed.  Consider this.

Stupid Religious, Conservative People

That’s the conclusion of a study (if you wish to call it that) highlighted by CNN.

Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

The IQ differences, while statistically significant, are not stunning — on the order of 6 to 11 points — and the data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people, experts say. But they show how certain patterns of identifying with particular ideologies develop, and how some people’s behaviors come to be.

The thing is, here’s how they define their terms.

The study takes the American view of liberal vs. conservative. It defines "liberal" in terms of concern for genetically nonrelated people and support for private resources that help those people. It does not look at other factors that play into American political beliefs, such as abortion, gun control and gay rights.

"Liberals are more likely to be concerned about total strangers; conservatives are likely to be concerned with people they associate with," he said.

But even using their (extremely flawed) definition, conservatives are more likely to give to charity, and do charity themselves, than liberals.  We’ve covered that topic before, a long time ago, in regards to giving for those victims of the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami in 2006; clearly people who are "genetically nonrelated".  And Rev. Don Sensing, for whom the hat tip goes (including the title of this post), makes one (of many) points against this study’s presuppositions and conclusions.

Consider these data from September 2008:

Last Friday, Sen. Joseph Biden, the Democratic candidate for vice president, released his tax returns for the years 1998 to 2007. The returns revealed that in one year, 1999, Biden and his wife Jill gave $120 to charity out of an adjusted gross income of $210,979. In 2005, out of an adjusted gross income of $321,379, the Bidens gave $380. In nine out of the ten years for which tax returns were released, the Bidens gave less than $400 to charity; in the tenth year, 2007, when Biden was running for president, they gave $995 out of an adjusted gross income of $319,853.

That’s liberal Joe Biden, btw. What about conservative (well, comparatively) John McCain?

In 2007, the Arizona senator reported $405,409 in total income and contributed $105,467, or 26 percent of his total income, to charity.
In 2006, Mr. McCain said he had $358,414 in total income and donated $64,695, or 18 percent of his total income, to charity.

You really should read his whole disassembly of this sham.

The Scott Brown Post-Game Analysis

Unless you’ve been living in a closet for 2 week, or are a die-hard Obama supporter trying to avoid the news, Scott Brown, the Republican, won the special election to fill the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy.

Yes, that Ted Kennedy.

Was this simply a local election, judged solely on local issues?  I don’t think so, especially since Brown himself injected national issues into it when he said he would vote against health care "reform".  Yes, local issues played a part, but I think the national ones overshadowed them. 

This is Massachusetts, after all, one of the bluest of blue states, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3.5 to 1, and where they were replacing a Democrat who’d held that seat for a generation. 

Polls a month ago put Coakley ahead by 20 points.  Brown then made it national, and all of a sudden the momentum shifted in a big way.  The payoffs, most notably to Senator Ben Nelson, didn’t help matters.

There are those that say conservatives shouldn’t get credit for Coakley’s defeat, and explain why the loss was mostly, if not wholly, due to disappointment by Democrats in Obama; what he promised vs. what he’s delivered.  The problem with that analysis is that not much on that front has changed in 3-4 weeks, when Coakley’s numbers tanked.  The issues noted in that blog post — military commissions, international surveillance, drug laws, sentencing reform, Gitmo’s closing, the Afghanistan war, anti-terror policies — have not substantially changed one bit since mid-December.  So you can’t really say that those are the issues that moved the voters.  A sea changed occurred, and there’s one thing, one major issue, that did change during that time; the health care "reform" bill. 

According to Rasmussen, 56% of voters thought that this was the most important issue.  Brown brought up the issue of voting against it, and once he did, voters flocked to his side.  Now true, some did so because they don’t like it at all, and some did so because they thought it didn’t go far enough.  Rasmussen notes:

Forty-seven percent (47%) favor the health care legislation before Congress while 51% oppose it. However, the intensity was clearly with those who are opposed. Just 25% of voters in Massachusetts Strongly Favor the plan while 41% Strongly Oppose it.

Fifty percent (50%) say it would be better to pass no health care legislation at all rather than passing the bill before Congress.

But the point here is this is Massachusetts, after all, where Democrats far outnumber Republicans and where Ted Kennedy was in a safe Senate seat for a generation.  And they’ve elected a man who says he’ll vote against the health care "reform" bill.  Conservatives, mostly of the Tea Party variety, have been getting the word out on how awful this bill will be, and while the opinion polls have gone against it, now, more importantly, the voters have as well, pulling off what’s been called an epic upset

Will Democrats in Washington get the message?  We’ll see.

A New Hope (& Change)

(With apologies to George Lucas and Star Wars episode 4.)

The President’s numerous, and recent, trips to Virginia and New Jersey notwithstanding, Republicans were elected governors of those states.  The thrill (up the leg) is gone one year on, and when policies instead of history-making is more of a draw, two conservatives are elected.  (Christie is very pro-life, and is the first Republican governor in 16 years.  McDonnell is the first Republican for Virginia in 8 years.)  While Democrats are saying that the reasons are mostly due to local issues, the fact that they brought in the President so much for these races tends to discount their own analysis.  Bringing in a President that both these states voted for in 2008 was not enough to get the job done. 

Hope and change indeed.  Just not the kind the President represents.

In the small but closely-watched race in New York’s 23rd district, where the Republican dropped out, only to endorse the Democrat, the fact that Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman managed to garner 45% of the vote is astounding.  Coming in only 4.5 points behind Democrat Bill Owens is amazing for a 3rd party candidate.  While it’s likely that some of the absentee ballots cast early, before Dede Scozzafava essentially dropped out, may have gone to Hoffman, it probably wouldn’t have been enough to win it.  The main issue here is that, as Brit Hume on Fox News Channel put it, this is why you have primaries.  Scozzafava was chosen by the party machine.  Clearly, the base, even in New York, is farther to the right than the party realizes.  When you run a good, conservative campaign, you can both energize the base and bring in independents (ask Ronald Reagan … or John McCain).  This is a tough, if small, loss in a district that has been reliably Republican, but the party dropped the ball and misread its constituents.

Still, giving up NY-23 for New Jersey and Virginia is a trade I’d take.

Closer to (my) home, the city of Atlanta is poised to elect it’s first white mayor in 35 years.  Mary Norwood got 46% of the vote last night, which kicks in a runoff in a few weeks with 2nd place challenger Kasim Reed.  For a long time, it has been my opinion that Atlanta needed an African-American mayor to avoid spurious charges of racism.  Freaknik, an annual party generally attended by college students from historically black colleges, was heavily curtailed by 1998 and ultimately relocated to Daytona Beach under Mayor Bill Campbell.  If he had been white, he would have been labeled "racist" and that would have been an unfair distraction from the actual debate.  As it was, he was labeled an "Uncle Tom" for doing so, even though residents of all colors agreed that it was getting out of hand.  He did what had to be done, all for good reasons, but I think the racial overtones would have not allowed a mayor to do the job properly.  That Atlanta seems ready to elect a white mayor is a good sign that the race issue is diminishing, but time will tell if Norwood is elected.

One issue-related referendum I’d like to point out is that in Maine (as liberal as they come in New England) they overturned a law (that had not taken effect  yet) that would legalize same-sex marriage.  By a 53-47 margin, the people rejected what the legislature had passed.  Yes, the people elected those legislators, but apparently the peoples’ representatives stopped representing them at some point.  As I understand it, when it comes to referendums, same-sex marriage is 0 for 31.  I’m detecting a trend.

And finally, in a much smaller race, blogger Scott Ott, evangelical Christian and author of the wonderful, satirical blog ScrappleFace, lost to the incumbent for County Executive of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania by the small margin of 49-51.  The election was decided by 1,000 votes among the 40,000 case.  Scott put up a great campaign, and for a first-time political-office-seeker, this is fantastic, and shows that his conservative principles, especially with regards to fiscal policy, hit a nerve.  I hope this is not the end of Scott’s political aspirations.

Clearly, the White House hasn’t quite figured out the difference between the two.  Now, I will say that some many who complain about liberal bias in the media and quote Keith Olbermann to, in part, prove it also need this bit of education.  (Quoting Keith Olbermann to show he’s an unserious clown is an entirely different matter.)  But the White House ought to certainly understand the difference.

After spending the week declaring that Fox News Channel isn’t a real news organization because it has perspective (while at the same time ignoring perspective of a worse kind from so many other news organizations), Jake Tapper of ABC News got White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to determine what the standard was for “perspective”.

Tapper: “That’s a sweeping declaration that they’re not a news organization. How are they different from say, ABC, MSNBC, Univision?”

Gibbs: “You and I should watch around 9:00 tonight or 5:00 this afternoon.”

Tapper: “I’m not talking about the opinion programs or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying that thousands of individuals who work for a media organization do not work for a news organization. Why is that appropriate for the White House to say?”

Gibbs: “That is our opinion.”

On FNC, the 9:00 hour is Sean Hannity’s show, and Glenn Beck runs at 5:00.  So expressing viewpoints, on shows that are not news shows but are transparently and openly opinionated, by the White House’s lights, disqualifies you from being a news organization.

Well, apparently there’s more to that than just expressing viewpoints.  Else, why would the President himself have had MSNBC’s Olberman and Rachel Maddow as part of an off-the-record briefing?  Apparently it’s not just perspective that’s the problem.  It’s disagreement they’re trying to suppress.

Because you know that other news organizations are watching how this administration is treating FNC.  The message is clear, “If you want access, you will tow the line.”  True, other administrations have had issues with the press, and with specific networks or newspapers, in the past.  But Obama is taking this into uncharted territory.

Ostracizing a news network for it’s opinion shows critical of you is way, way out of line.  While it’s not technically violating the First Amendment, since there are no legal impediments being thrown up to Fox News, the spirit of the amendment is being violated.  This is either thin skin or something worse.  I hope it’s the former, but I’m watching out for the latter.

Update: A commenter on this post (which tries to make an equivalence between Obama’s general dissing of FNC to when Bush would try to get NBC to air unedited quotes of himself) make a great point.

All three networks to opinion after 5, what’s the big deal? I don’t think FOX has tried to hide the fact that Beck, O’Relly, Hannity or Greta are opinion. Hell, it’s not like any of those three were ANCHORING the presidential elections.

A la Olberman.  Ouch.

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