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Thursday, May 22, 2008

John McCain Health Records
Posted by: Jon Henke
Media Matters really can be very stupid sometimes. Today, they're complaining that the McCain campaign is suckering the media into not reporting on John McCain's health records. Apparently, they're doing this by releasing his health records within a few days of telling the media other interesting things.

Seriously, Media Matters is complaining that there may not be "obsession on the medical records." And this is supposed to be "manipulating" the media.

According to their complaint, Media Matters prefers there be media "obsession" with McCain's medical records, to the exclusion of any other campaign stories.

Somebody is trying to manipulate the media, with all the subtlety and integrity of a 1990's David Brock book. But it's not the McCain campaign.

Permalink | Comments ( 39 ) | TrackBacks ( 312 ) | Category: Elections

The Next Right Update
Posted by: Jon Henke
This email has just been sent to the people who signed up at The Next Right, the forthcoming project from Soren Dayton, Patrick Ruffini and myself...
We're pleased to announce that The Next Right has a launch date: next Tuesday, May 27th.

Since announcing this project, the response has exceeded our expectations in every way. Some of the savviest analysts we know have already signed on as writers. And over 1,000 of you have signed up to stay informed on latest developments.

If you want The Next Right right now, you don't have to wait. We've already launched an RSS feed with relevant posts from the site's founding editors, and links to the critical stories we'll be covering on the site. This feed will remain the same after launch. /TheNextRight

We've also updated our splash site with more information on how YOU can help support the site, with information on how you can be a Next Right writer, advertiser, or help defray our startup costs with a generous contribution.

See you on Tuesday,

Soren Dayton, Jon Henke, and Patrick Ruffini

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 5 ) | Category: Blogging

Monday, May 19, 2008

Once upon a time at the Washington Post
Posted by: Jon Henke
Some clever agitator at the Washington Post has dug up and published a Washington Post editorial, circa 1978, that is worth reading.
The Federal Trade Commission has now agreed to consider imposing major restrictions on television advertisements aimed at young children. The primary goal of the proposal is to reduce the amount of sugar children eat. Few people, least of all thoughtful parents, will disapprove of that goal. But the means the FTC is considering are something else. It is a preposterous intervention that would turn the agency into a great national nanny.
But what are the children to be protected from? The candy and sugar-coated cereals that lead to tooth decay? Or the inability or refusal of their parents to say no? The food products will still be there, sitting on the shelves of the local supermarkets after all, no matter what happens to the commercials. So the proposal, in reality, is designed to protect children from the weakness of their parents — and the parents from the wailing insistence of their children. That, traditionally, is one of the roles of a governess — if you can afford one. It is not a proper role of government. The government has enough problems with television's emphasis on violence and sex and its shortages of local programming, without getting into this business, too.
But a flat ban on commercials involving, as it would have to, certain judgments a government shouldn't be encouraged to make or enforce, would make parents less responsible, not more.


Permalink | Comments ( 6 ) | TrackBacks ( 5 ) | Category: Government

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Free Speech VS Freedom of the Press
Posted by: Jon Henke
Remember when New York Times reporters and editors went to court, even jail, a few years ago to protect their right to say things politicians thought objectionable? Freedom of the Press is a very important thing, they argued.

You people, however, can get bent, as far as the New York Times is concerned. Writing about 527's, the NYT Editorial Board says....
Since the Federal Election Commission has been rendered defunct by Congress, the hope for something better can be delivered only by the nominees themselves. Surely, a candidate for chief executive of the United States can be expected to show enough executive talent to confront and stifle his or her most out-of-control supporters.
Do you understand what the New York Times just wrote there? They want politicians to be able to "stifle" free speech.

Bear that in mind the next time those pretentious douchebags demand respect for their own freedom of the press. They don't want free speech; they want privileged speech. And they'll use their freedom of the press to regulate and criminalize your own speech.


Let me back up a moment and point out the three possible ways that a Presidential candidate could "stifle" the speech of a 527 group.

  1. They could ask them to stop. (Only a naïve fool would believe this would actually work)

  2. They could pass a law to stop them, or push for such a law. (This is clearly a problem)

  3. They could use the power of their position to, er, persuade the group to back off by threatening political retaliation. (This is just as problematic as approach #2)

The New York Times must have had one of those three approaches in mind. Which is it?

Permalink | Comments ( 17 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Media

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why is Hillary Clinton still running?
Posted by: Jon Henke
Who would have predicted this last year?
While the candidate once campaigned relentlessly with four or five events a day, she now has two or three. The number of press spokesmen with her is down to one from two, and the press corps barely fills one bus when once it filled two.

As she steps from her plane, Clinton smiles and waves but no crowd actually awaits her.
More importantly, why does Hillary Clinton continue running? At this point, I can think of only three reasons, listed in order of increasing plausibility.

  1. She has a deal to pay off her campaign debts if she continues.

  2. She has a bombshell story she can drop on Barack Obama, and she believes it will be enough to swing the superdelegates.

  3. She believes that the competitive organizing efforts of both her campaign and the Obama campaign in additional Primary states will help Democrats win the general election in November.

Are there any other plausible explanations for Hillary Clinton continuing her campaign?

Permalink | Comments ( 26 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Elections

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Democrats for Voter Identification
Posted by: Jon Henke
Funny, the Progressives don't seem so worked up when Barack Obama works his religion on the campaign trail. Race 4 2008 has an interesting Obama pamphlet being used in Kentucky. But what I find most amusing isn't just the blatant religious stuff (NOTE: some enterprising blogger could probably have fun finding Obama-supporting progressives who went nuts over Huckabee's cross or other Republican use of religious iconography).

No, what I find amusing is this...

This, from the Party that opposes voter identification.

Permalink | Comments ( 21 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Miscellaneous

Congressional Questions about Domestic Spying
Posted by: Jon Henke
Congress is looking into domestic spying. Sen. Specter, citing "the public's interests", said that it is "up to Congress to investigate and take corrective action; there might be hearings."

Finally, difficult questions will have to be asked and answered. Congress is taking its oversight responsibility seriously, and asking the important questions about some of the most serious issues facing America.

Permalink | Comments ( 6 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Culture

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Paul Krugman VS Amy Klobuchar
Posted by: Jon Henke
Paul Krugman says it's those darned conservatives pushing the idea that speculation is behind high oil prices...
Traditionally, denunciations of speculators come from the left of the political spectrum. In the case of oil prices, however, the most vociferous proponents of the view that it's all the speculators' fault have been conservatives...
Meanwhile, it's Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar who says speculation is behind high oil prices, and actually introduces legislation to "curb" speculation.
Our next step should be to stop the speculation that is driving up prices in world energy markets. Oil company executives have testified recently that oil should be trading for about $55 per barrel, but that a frenzy of speculative investment has driven up its price artificially. That's one reason why I cosponsored the Consumer-First Energy Act.
This, says Paul Krugman, is the Republicans fault.

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Energy

The 49 State Strategy
Posted by: Jon Henke
The Obama campaign says screw you guys, we're going to Oregon and Kentucky and Puerto Rico and Montana and South Dakota...
At Obama's Chicago headquarters, advisers said there was no reason to worry - West Virginia was demographically suited to Clinton and won't be part of their general election plans.
I guess they're dialing Howard Dean back to a 49 State Strategy. They're going to have much bigger problems, though, if Democrats keep saying things like this (from Oliver Willis)...
Because of proximity here in Maryland we get occasional exposure to Appalachian stuff. I know it's not nice to say but as a black man in the 21st century it isn't exactly a region I think should be having much say about the future of America. And it isn't.

Permalink | Comments ( 28 ) | TrackBacks ( 6 ) | Category: Elections

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Minimum Wage and Moral Hazards
Posted by: Jon Henke
I agree with Megan McArdle's point about the minimum wage; it is bad policy, because it is very inefficient, poorly targeted, and places the burden for social welfare in the labor market on the people most likely to hire low-skill workers. On the other hand, any "unemployment effect [due to] US-sized changes in the minimum wage is too small to be detected amidst statistical noise." [More good points here on the impact of elasticity over the short and long term]

However, I would add a point to this comment...
[T]he suggestion has been made that the minimum wage is really swell because it gets rid of low-productivity jobs that only pay the minimum wage. This sounds lovely—if you are the kind of person who has the skills to get one of the higher productivity jobs. Not so great if you're a high-school dropout with no appreciable credentials. In effect what you're talking about is a massive transfer from the weakest members of society.
There is also a cross-elasticity moral hazard to consider here. If jobs for low- and un-skilled workers suddenly begin paying appreciably more, then low- and un-skilled workers will find those jobs more enticing relative to their alternatives. What is a primary alternative to entry-level jobs for low- and un-skilled workers? Education.

So, a legislated increase in the minimum wage makes low- and un-skilled workers more likely to drop out of school and forgo educational opportunities. More efficient, direct social welfare programs would not necessarily require that kind of an either/or choice.

Permalink | Comments ( 22 ) | TrackBacks ( 4 ) | Category: Economics

Bobby Jindal
Posted by: Jon Henke
Intellectuals and libertarians haven't had a lot of good things to say about many current Republican politicians (for good reasons, I think), so I'm heartened to see that Megan McArdle was impressed by Bobby Jindal...
I saw Bobby Jindal talk last week at the National Press Club. He's being widely touted as McCain's potential running mate, though I agree with Ross that this would be a mistake—for Jindal. No one should run for office this year as a Republican who doesn't have to.

Mostly I was incredibly impressed. He looks like the president of the high school chess club, so it's something of a shock to my elitist coastal ears to hear a rich good-old-boy southern accent issuing from him. But he's a hell of a talker, and most of what he says actually makes sense.
She goes on to point out his very significant accomplishments in Louisiana.

Frankly, we need more of that. The Right has plenty of politicians who can hit the limited government, accountability, reform cliches, but we have a distinct lack of Republican politicians who know how to turn those cliches into actual limited government, accountability and reform.

ADDING: The Right needs more Bill Buckley Republicans and fewer Boss Hogg Republicans. Bobby Jindal is a promising step in the right direction.

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 3 ) | Category: Politics

Monday, May 12, 2008

NYTimes: Government Subsidies for Mortgage Bubble
Posted by: Jon Henke
The New York Times Editorial Board seems to think the way to fight the housing bubble is to...subsidize demand?
Earlier this year, Mr. Bush derided a modest plan to provide $4 billion to states and localities to buy foreclosed properties, saying that buying up empty homes helps only "the lenders or the speculators." Actually, it protects entire neighborhoods and local economies from the effects of foreclosures by preventing a greater buildup of unsold homes and a further drop in prices.
Do we really want US housing policy to emulate US agricultural policy?

Permalink | Comments ( 7 ) | TrackBacks ( 4 ) | Category: Miscellaneous

Friday, May 09, 2008

One of these things is not like the other
Posted by: Jon Henke
Open Left's Chris Bowers, upset over Progressives stereotyping political opponents...
Am I the only progressive bothered by making all the members of an entire group of people speak for the actions of all members of that group? [...] Personally, I tried to take a hard line against such stereotyping on Open Left...
Open Left's Daniel De Groot, stereotyping political opponents....
[Referring to the individuals who create malicious viral emails] This is the right taking advantage of their authoritarian followers.  It's what they do.  We need to respond.


Permalink | Comments ( 13 ) | TrackBacks ( 6 ) | Category: The Left

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Next Right
Posted by: Jon Henke
Patrick Ruffini, Soren Dayton and I are launching a new project, The Next Right.

Soren Dayton
says the "Republican Party is at a transitional point" - that the Right's "interest groups have become profoundly transactional and trivial in scope" and that we are heading for a significant reorientation.

I agree. In many ways, the Right has lost its logic. When tax rates were up to 70%, and the unintended consequences of the New Deal, Great Society programs and other social engineering policies were wreaking havoc across the economy, there was plenty of motivating energy for the Right to create and mobilize a Movement. But when, during a period of full employment and general growth, you're debating, say, whether tax rates should be 39.6% or 35.6%...well, you've got a less compelling raison d'etre for your Movement.

Meanwhile, Republicans have pursued the Iron Law of Oligarchy: it is the tendency of organization to devolve power to smaller groups of people, due to the "technical indispensability of leadership, the tendency of the leaders to organize themselves and to consolidate their interests". It's pretty basic public choice theory. Much of the DC-based infrastructure on the Right - Republican politicians, the advocacy organizations and non-profits, the massive, campaign-oriented fundraising machines that spring up in each cycle - has become the entrenched bureaucracy seeking its own promulgation.

That is not a sustainable state of affairs. The Republican Party isn't serving the Right, and the Right isn't likely to continue serving the Republican Party.

From time to time, when it becomes necessary to throw off such entrenched politicians, we must provide new guards to ensure our future security. What those new guards may be, nobody knows. But I hope The Next Right will be a useful place to discuss what the Right has become, what the Right could still be and how we can get it there.

Announcing the site,
Patrick Ruffini
Put simply, the party, and in many cases, the movement, has lost its moorings. Earmarks exploded ten-fold, and it wasn't under a Democratic Congress. In this winter's primary, we saw the once mighty fiscal-social-national conservative coalition turned in on itself, with economic conservatives pitted against social conservatives. And too many of the "experts" in the Presidential campaigns this cycle failed to modernize the way the party does business, clinging to the old top-down rostrums of direct mail and fundraising-by-cocktail-party in an increasingly networked and crowdsourced world.
We're calling the site The Next Right because much of this story will be written in the future tense. Our analysis will be as much about looking ten and fifteen years down the road as it will be about dissecting the mechanics of the 2008 contest. What are the coalitions, strategies, and tactics the right needs to win again? How does the party need to change to attract a generation of voters who could very well be lost to us if we don't move fast? Where do we find the candidates who will lead a resurgent right in the 2010 and 2012 elections and beyond?
In that spirit, we're opening the doors to anyone who wants to blog on The Next Right. Users will be able to create their own blogs on the site, an ability only a handful of conservative sites offer today. We're also looking for a great stable of front-page writers who can write smart, savvy analysis on a consistent basis - email us if you think you fit the bill. We want to open this up as much as possible.
We don't think this alone will solve the activism gap. ... What we're hoping to do is create momentum and an intellectual framework for action - because action ultimately starts with narratives and ideas. We want grassroots conservatives and libertarians to start believing that they can make a difference again - a sense all too many have lost. ... The Next Right is about creating a vision for a 21st century Republican Party and conservative movement.
Like Soren said, "I think that we have somewhat different views of what exactly this means." That's probably true. My political opinions imply nothing about Soren, Ruffini or anybody else who blogs there. Their opinions don't imply anything about my views. We probably have somewhat different views of the ideal composition of the coalition, and of what policies should, and should not, be pursued.

However, I believe we all have a pretty consistent view of what the Movement needs to do in the short term, particularly online. Where we're being crucified.

Whittaker Chambers once wrote "I am not a conservative ... I am a man of the Right." Likewise, I am neither a Conservative nor a Republican. I am a Man of the Right. Ideologically, I am a libertarian, and I believe I can be most effective on the most pressing issues by working to reorient the Republican Party in a better direction by rebuilding a Movement - The Next Right.

We'll debut the site soon. In the meantime, go there and sign up for updates and an email notification as soon as we go live.

Permalink | Comments ( 21 ) | TrackBacks ( 11 ) | Category: New Media

Respected in the World! [UPDATED]
Posted by: Jon Henke
When the European Union is bashing you for protectionism, you're not really that concerned about being "respected in the world", about honoring international agreements or about reducing poverty...
Peter Mandelson, European trade commissioner, has said the protectionist stances taken by the US presidential candidates risk taking the world trading system back by decades.

In an interview with the BBC's Hardtalk programme to be broadcast on Thursday, Mr Mandelson said: "It is irresponsible to be pretending to people you can erect new protection, new tariff barriers around your economy in this 21st century global age and still succeed in sustaining peoples' living standards and jobs. It is a mirage and they know it."
Mr Mandelson said that even the rhetoric of protectionism was damaging. "It is very irresponsible in my view to pretend to people that we can disengage from international trade, we can create barriers around our economy and then be surprised when people retaliate by doing the same," he said. "It is going to lead us into a vicious spiral of beggar-thy-neighbour policies which will take us decades back in terms of trade growth."

I expect the list of demands Democrats advocated under Bush and quickly abandoned under Democratic control will grow quite long.


Citing Speaker Pelosi's attempts to "[exclude Republicans] from opportunities to participate in the crafting of the war funding bill" and "jam the bill" through, Rep. Randy Kuhl offers another example of the distance between Democratic promises and delivery.
Speaker Pelosi also said in "A New Direction for America:"
  • "Every person in America has a right to have his or her voice heard. No Member of Congress should be silenced on the floor.guaranteeing that the voices of all the people are heard."

  • "Regular meetings between Chairs and Ranking Members of committees and staff should be held.

  • "Members should have at least 24 hours to examine bill and conference report text prior to floor consideration. Rules governing floor debate must be reported before 10 p.m. for a bill to be considered the following day."

Well, the most recent supplemental appropriation bill is proving that these statements are raging falsities. Instead of allowing an open and transparent discussion on funding for our brave men and women serving this country, Speaker Pelosi would rather send a vital funding bill to the President without the opportunity for amendments.
Contrast this with the promises of "Change" that Nancy Pelosi made in 2006...
House Republicans might have their doubts, but Minority Leader Pelosi says a Democratic majority next year would place a heavy emphasis on bipartisanship — and would offer the Republicans minority rights often denied Democrats now.
In perhaps the biggest break from the current practices of GOP leaders, Pelosi said she would be willing to lose votes on the floor.
"Absolutely," she said. "It's not about a defeat, it's about a decision. I certainly would not say that we can't bring things to the floor because we'll lose
... [Republicans] are afraid of ideas. That's why we can't have amendments, substitutes, and all the rest for the most part."
She didn't mean it.

Politicians always promise Change when they're running for office. When they're actually elected to the office, they always hew to the Iron Law of Oligarchy. The problem isn't convincing politicians to say what you want them to say when they need your votes, but convincing them to follow through on it afterwards.

The Left and the Progressive blogosphere has given a great deal of thought to how to get their allies elected, but very little apparent thought to how to prevent them from becoming as bad as the politicians they replaced.

Permalink | Comments ( 8 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Trade

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Now! Hampshire
Posted by: Jon Henke
New Media political consultant Patrick Hynes has just rolled out a new site, Now! Hampshire - essentially, a citizen media project asking "citizen[s] in the Granite State to take up their pens and note pads-along with the video and audio recorders-and start a news beat of their own."

He starts it up with an interview with Sen. Sununu and an interview with Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

It's a very good idea. The democratization of the media is a valuable development and sites like Now! Hampshire have the potential to recreate the way we think about, consume and participate in the news.

Permalink | Comments ( 1 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: New Media

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Legislative Capture of the Limited Government Movement
Posted by: Jon Henke
As Fred Thompson often said, Republicans went to Washington to drain the swamp, and they ended up partnering with the alligators. Robert Novak has the latest sordid details.
Operating outside public view, the House Democratic majority is taking extraordinary steps to maintain spending as usual while awaiting a Democrat as president. Remarkably, the supine House Republican minority hardly resists and even collaborates with its supposed adversaries.

There has been little or no public Republican protest over seizure of the appropriating process by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her clique. [...] All Republican leaders voted against [a bill to expand medicaid spending], but their vaunted whip operation was dormant. With a rare opportunity to go on record against entitlements, House Republicans voted 128 to 62 for spending.
House Republicans had another chance last Thursday to demonstrate interest in restoring anti-waste credentials [by voting for Jeff Flakes proposal to limit direct farm payments]. ... The state of the GOP is indicated by the fact that the 104 to 86 vote by Republicans was seen as progress, while Flake's proposal failed. ... Another motion to lower farm subsidies, by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, was pending Thursday afternoon when the House adjourned for its usual long weekend of fundraising, politicking and recreation. Unchanged in Nancy Pelosi's House is bipartisan devotion to the three-day week.
Congressional Republicans are in the tank for the status quo. All I'm hearing from Congressional Republican is...
  • "Please, sir, can I have another earmark?"

  • "Please, sir, can I have another term?"

Reelecting these guys is like sending Norm Peterson to lead an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. They're whipped by Democrats and by the public choice incentives. There's just no significant ambition to limit government. More importantly, they have no ideas for how to limit the size of government.

To some extent, that's a failure of the existing Republican leadership. But it's more of a failure of the larger Limited Government movement that has been captured by Washington, DC. We've developed an entrenched bureaucracy devoted more to sustaining and propagating itself than to actually limiting government.

Permalink | Comments ( 20 ) | TrackBacks ( 10 ) | Category: Culture

Friday, May 02, 2008

Democrats and the Netroots: a stylistic divide
Posted by: Jon Henke
The Politico picks up on the struggle between the Leftroots and the Democratic Presidential candidates...
The nation's top Democrats are suddenly rushing to appear on the Fox News Channel, which they once had shunned as enemy territory as the nemesis of liberal bloggers. The détente with Fox has provoked a backlash from progressive bloggers, who contend the party's leaders are turning their backs on the base - and lending credibility and legitimacy to the network liberals love to hate - in a quest for a few swing votes.
The Democratic Presidential nominees present a real problem to the Leftroots. The problem is not one of policy, necessarily, but one of style. I described it last month while guest-blogging at The Atlantic...
The problem for the netroots - and Progressives in general - is that, despite both being very satisfactory in important ways, both Clinton and Obama reject the Progressive and netroots movement in some important way.

Fundamentally, what the netroots want is a Fighting Progressive. They want an unabashed liberal who will go toe to toe with the Republicans and punch them in the nose.

But what they have is a choice between a Fighting Pragmatist (Hillary Clinton) and a Kumbaya Progressive (Barack Obama).
No matter who wins, it will represent a rejection of a core interest of the Progressive Netroots.

Permalink | Comments ( 6 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: New Media

Jeremiah Wright: a black or white story?
Posted by: Jon Henke
Leonce Gaiter, Ezra Klein and James Joyner are having an interesting discussion over whether the Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama story would be a big deal had they been white. Klein thinks it would still have been a problem, but for the non-racial issues, "rather than a story of racial strife", but that the "Wright [will likely] be used by racists in the election". Gaiter thinks it's only a story because Wright is black...
If Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his former disciple, Barack Obama were white, this would not be a story. [...] White pastors have been spewing hateful bile and filth for generations. But it's white bile, and that makes all the difference.
For the moment, let's leave aside the fact that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Bob Jones, and many others have been the subject of many media storms and Left-of-Center criticism. Repeatedly. [James Joyner has more on this]

Let's just contemplate the firestorm that would have occurred if a Republican candidate had gone to a church that taught this...

Prayerfully, we have called upon the wisdom of all past generations of suffering [Whites] for guidance in fashioning an instrument of [White] self-determination, the [White] Value System.
These [White] Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever [Whites] are gathered. They consist of the following concepts:
2. Commitment to the [White] Community. The highest level of achievement for any [White] person must be a contribution of strength and continuity of the [White] Community.
3. Commitment to the [White] Family.
4. ... Basic education for all [Whites] should include Mathematics, Science, Logic, General Semantics, Participative Politics, Economics and Finance, and the Care and Nurture of [White] minds.
6. Adherence to the [White] Work Ethic. [....]
7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect. ... Self-discipline, coupled with a respect for self, will enable each of us to be an instrument of [White] Progress and a model for [White] Youth.
9. Pledge to Make the Fruits of All Developing and Acquired Skills Available to the [White] Community.
10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting [White] Institutions.
11. Pledge Allegiance to All [White] Leadership Who Espouse and Embrace the [White] Value System.
12. Personal Commitment to Embracement of the [White] Value System. To measure the worth and validity of all activity in terms of positive contributions to the general welfare of the [White] Community and the Advancement of [White] People towards freedom.
That is the philosophy of Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, with the word "White" substituted for the word "Black". As a general rule of thumb, if an emphasis on white skin color and group identity sounds racist to you, then an equivalent emphasis on black skin color and group identity should also be objectionable to you.

I understand that African-Americans have a unique experience, and that the tragic cultural legacy of codified racism - and the ongoing tragedy of social racism - certainly make group self-segregation and an emphasis on common identity psychologically understandable. But that doesn't make it ultimately healthy, and that doesn't mean people shouldn't be disturbed by the racial line-drawing.

NOTE: I am also not claiming that this TUCC philosophy necessarily reflects Barack Obama's policy views.

Our society has come far enough that we recognize, publicize and stigmatize such behavior from what Gaither calls "White pastors". It's hard to imagine that a "white pastor" equivalent to this kind of rhetoric on race would not be a major, disqualifying story for a white candidate.

Permalink | Comments ( 26 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Race

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Heritage Foundation Praises Paul Krugman
Posted by: Jon Henke
The Heritage Foundation's Foundry blog quotes and praises Paul Krugman on a policy issue. Yes, really.
Visiting Heritage scholar Wendell Cox has a new paper out titled "How Smart Growth Exacerbated the International Financial Crisis" in which he praises New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's prescience on diagnosing the role of land use regulation in driving the housing bubble.
[Insert comment about an alternate blogosphere where Spock has a beard]

Permalink | Comments ( 2 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Josh Marshall calls DNC ad "whining"!
Posted by: Jon Henke
Josh Marshall, on the DNC's new anti-McCain ad...
"Completely ... Whining"
Josh Marshall also claims it shows...
"Completely honest ... Republicans"
The above quotes are every bit as reasonable and accurate as the quotes in the commercial that Josh Marshall cites.

Brendan Nyhan also points out that, during a recent Meet the Press appearance, "DNC chairman Howard Dean was forced to admit what McCain actually said"...but he left that part out of the ad.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey realizes it can be fun to play by the Dowd Rules!

UPDATE II: The paragons of decency at are also getting into the game. Matt Lewis points out that at least McCain has the decency to condemn ads of which he does not approve.

Note that it was Hillary Clinton who distanced herself from Obama, not so much.

Permalink | Comments ( 1 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Elections

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 the DNC is lying, they know it, but they don’t care
Posted by: Jon Henke
After years of progressives, Democrats and particularly the Democratic Party claiming to be outraged by deceptive ads and rhetoric from Republicans, the Democratic Party demonstrates that they are not, and never really were, above that sort of thing. is kind enough not to explicitly call the DNC brazen liars, but that's what it amounts to.
The Democratic National Committee has produced two TV ads against McCain, hoping to soften him up while the party figures out who its own presidential nominee will be.

  • One ad shows selected portions of McCain's comments that a 100-year U.S. presence in Iraq would be "fine with me." The ad uses dramatic images of war and violence, and omits any mention that McCain was speaking of a peaceful presence like that in Japan or Korea.

  • An earlier ad attacks McCain for saying the nation's economy is "prosperous" and "better off overall" than eight years ago. The ad uses a couple of incorrect statistics to argue otherwise. It says the country has lost 1.8 million jobs when, in fact, it has gained nearly 5.4 million, and it says gasoline prices have risen 200 percent, when the actual figure is 139 percent.

Presumably, the people who work at the DNC are feeling pretty embarrassed today about being associated with that kind of dishonest hackery. If they're decent people, they'll probably demand the DNC do the decent thing and stop lying to the American public. I guess we'll find out how that works out.

For Bonus Points: some enterprising blogger might go looking through the 2002-2004-2006 campaign cycles to find Democrats fainting over the use of 9/11 imagery in campaign commercials.

Any Democrats who feigned offense at that imagery before should have their nose held in this ad.

For Super Bonus Points: find either (a) a statement from the Democratic Party specifically denouncing this kind of imagery in a campaign ad, or (b) a quote from Howard Dean, including prior to his tenure with the DNC, responding to these ads.

The embarrassing evidence of opportunism, hypocrisy and credibility-destroying hackery is out there for you to find!

Permalink | Comments ( 34 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Elections

History started in 1998
Posted by: Jon Henke
In his book The Argument, Matt Bai wrote that the "political consciousness of most of the bloggers seemed to begin sometime around impeachment, when they had first tuned in."

Apparently, Open Left's Chris Bowers tuned in after that...

Bob Barr was "one of the House managers during the Clinton impeachment trial." In fairness, of course, there are hundreds of US Congressmen I couldn't name, either.

Via Patrick Ruffini on Twitter.

Permalink | Comments ( 5 ) | TrackBacks ( 0 ) | Category: Miscellaneous

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Value of the Extended Democratic Primary
Posted by: Jon Henke
Congressional Quarterly says some Republicans believe the drawn-out Democratic primary campaign is going to hurt Democrats in the general election...
When the returns from Pennsylvania's Democratic presidential primary rolled in last week, they cast a ray of hope into, of all places, the doleful offices of the people plotting this year's Republican congressional campaign.
Their calculation is that, if the Clinton vs. Obama contest drags on for months more, with each senator working to damage the other in search of an advantage, both will end up bloodied and bruised no matter which one is awarded the nomination.
I think this is a seriously misguided calculation.

While it's certainly possible that the primary season attacks could diminish Democratic turnout in some respects, I'm not sure the media-dominating, soap opera, pop phenomenon nature of the Democratic primary fight is going to ultimately diminish turnout.

But that misses the real value of this drawn-out primary. Every time the Barack Obama VS Hillary Clinton primary campaign drags on to another State, that's one more place that two incredibly effective organizing and mobilization operations get to reach, recruit and organize tens of thousands of new Democratic voters.

Democrats have invested a lot of time, money and resources in new tools, new activists and a renewed prioritization of grassroots organizing and mobilization. Sure, they may be burning some bridges among those who pay attention this early in the campaign cycle, but every contested State in the Democratic primary is a State in which the Democrats have two powerful operations drilling for news voters. That's going to benefit Democrats in November, both in the Presidential race and down-ticket, too.

Permalink | Comments ( 21 ) | TrackBacks ( 5 ) | Category: Elections

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hillary On Freedom
Posted by: Jon Henke
Why hasn't this quote from Hillary Clinton gotten more press...
"We can talk all we want about freedom and opportunity, about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but what does all that mean to a mother or father who can't take a sick child to the doctor?" she asked.
Via David Boaz who says Hillary "dismisses the great promises of the Declaration of Independence, the founding principles of the United States, as rhetorical flourishes, mere garnishes on the real stuff of life."

Permalink | Comments ( 10 ) | TrackBacks ( 5 ) | Category: Freedom and Liberty

Paul Krugman Rationalizes Democratic attacks
Posted by: Jon Henke
Paul Krugman rationalizes...
But how negative has the Clinton campaign been, really? Yes, it ran an ad that included Osama bin Laden in a montage of crisis images that also included the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina. To listen to some pundits, you'd think that ad was practically the same as the famous G.O.P. ad accusing Max Cleland of being weak on national security.
But wait. They were exactly the same. The "famous G.O.P. ad accusing Max Cleland of being weak on national security" was nothing more than an ad "that included Osama bin Laden in a montage of crisis images".

Paul Krugman doesn't even pretend to make a distinction between the two.

Permalink | Comments ( 12 ) | TrackBacks ( 2 ) | Category: Elections

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Accusations of Racism
Posted by: Jon Henke
Mike Turk has a sad story of racism.

On one hand, I think it illustrates how far we've come from the days when racism was far worse, but when society did far less to reject it.

On the other hand, I worry that it also illustrates how far we're going in the wrong direction. While we have generally succeeded in making racism socially unacceptable, the presence of that social stigma has produced a destructive tendency to cheapen the social stigma as many indiscriminately and inappropriately cry 'racism' with little regard for substantive evidence or for the seriousness of the charge. That kind of behavior cheapens the charge, ultimately reducing the power of the social stigma against racism.

And so, instead of spending our social capital fighting real racism, you get stupid situations like the one described by Turk.

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 5 ) | Category: Race

About that Ice Age
Posted by: Jon Henke
(via Glenn Reynolds) Following up on the "Ice Age" story, it's worth reading the other side...
EMILY BOURKE: David Karoly from Melbourne University's School of Earth Sciences is outraged.

DAVID KAROLY: This is misinterpretation or misrepresentation and miscommunication of the factors that influence global temperature. It appears to be an opinion of Phil Chapman and he's welcome to his opinion, but in terms of climate variations and an approaching ice age, he is sadly misinformed.

EMILY BOURKE: He argues the figures have been misinterpreted and he dismisses the theory.

DAVID KAROLY: Yes, the climate system did cool from January 2007 to January 2008 quite dramatically. That cooling was associated with changes in the ocean temperatures in the Pacific, a well known phenomenon, the El Nino to La Nina switch. It isn't unprecedented.

EMILY BOURKE: But you're not attributing that in any way to sunspot activity.

DAVID KAROLY: We know it is not due to sunspot activity. Sunspot variations do not lead to the sorts of temperature variations seen from January 2007 to 2008. They don't lead to those large temperature variations, even on an 11-year sunspot cycle.

And so in terms of increasing greenhouse gases, we can also see that effect because the most recent La Nina, the current La Nina, is warmer than earlier La Nina episodes of the same strength. We're actually seeing a warming even in these cool periods associated with La Nina.
Yes, scientists have considered and accounted for the impact of the sun.

Permalink | Comments ( 0 ) | TrackBacks ( 8 ) | Category: Environment

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clinton Campaign Praises Fox News. Again.
Posted by: Jon Henke
A few weeks back, Pennsylvania Governor (and Clinton campaign surrogate) Ed Rendell said Fox News "has done the fairest job, and remained the most objective of all the cable networks." The Leftroots were not pleased.

Last night, it happened again. Hillary Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe praised Fox News. (video at The Politico)
"You were the first ones to call it for Hillary Clinton," McAuliffe said, "Fair and balanced Fox. You beat them all."

One comment might be enthusiasm. Repetition, however, suggests this is a Clinton campaign talking point...and a rejection of the Leftroots attitude towards Fox News.

Permalink | Comments ( 4 ) | TrackBacks ( 1 ) | Category: Media

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Freedom of Consumer Choice
Posted by: Jon Henke
Don Boudreaux posts a letter he sent to the Washington Post...
Emily DeRocco complains that "The April 9 Business article 'Don't Blame NAFTA for Downturn, Many Economists Say' quoted politicians, economists and labor representatives but not a single manufacturer - those at the heart of this wrenching debate" (Letters, April 12).

She's mistaken. Those at the heart of this debate aren't manufacturers (or politicians, economists, or labor representatives). Those at the heart of this debate are consumers. Or, those at the heart of this debate should be consumers. Unfortunately, consumers are too large in number and too disparate in interests to organize effectively for political purposes.
John McCain ought to respond to the Know-Nothing protectionists he's running against by saying: "My opponents believe that Americans should not be allowed to buy or sell some products from some foreigners. That kind of prejudice against people by nationality is not helpful to American consumers, and I don't believe that is a choice politicians ought to be given. I support the right of Americans to make that decision for themselves."

Permalink | Comments ( 38 ) | TrackBacks ( 7 ) | Category: Freedom and Liberty


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