CPAC thoughts

Not mine, mind you.  I send John Hawkins down to round everything up for me.  If I were to attend in person, the whole mystery persona would be shot!  Look what happens to Ron Paul, for example, when people actually look under that rock.  Yeah, there goes my putsch strategy.  So that’s right out.  But Right Wing News has just released the top 20 quotes from CPAC 2010.  I’m not even saying they’re even all safe for work–they’re not.

That’s the other reason I don’t go to CPAC.  Because I’m the last cultural conservative, remember?

Candy canes, unicorns could not be reached for comment

New York Times:

U.S. Encounters Limits of Iran Engagement Policy

Well, let’s be sure and learn all this stuff from scratch.  Each time.

The wrong message

One of the things I found so frustrating about “hanging out” online with conservatives is that so many of them didn’t realize that whatever it is that’s going to happen next that’s good for conservatives has little or nothing to do with the GOP leadership.  Conservatives and even old and discarded Republicans such as myself have and had every reason in the world to be pretty much disgusted with the political and ethical ineptitude of the party over the last ten years.

Unsurprisingly, given his “Army of Davids” theme, Glenn Reynolds gets this exactly right:

[W]hat the GOP apparat does is less important nowadays than it was. As I noted before, there’s a whole lot of disintermediation going on here — Scott Brown got money and volunteers via the Internet and the Tea Party movement, to a much greater degree than he got them from the RNC. Smart candidates will realize that, too.

As will the entrenched Republican leaders.  They will make every attempt to co-op this energy and this source of hope (not that I don’t remain skeptical about “tea party” meetups per se), and ultimately they will succeed on one level or another.  The question is, will independent, principled conservatives at least extract an appropriate price — not platform planks or sops, but fundamental change in how the party works on an ongoing basis?

It’s hard to be hopeful.  John McCain was so wrong in how he went about trying to unhinge money and politics, but he was so right about the scope and profundity of the problem.  Here Brown won in no small measure because he took everyone, including the GOP leadership, by surprise, and he may have a bit of fun for a while because he owes them very little (did you see the musical “Fiorello”?).

In the long run, history has never shown such a dynamic to be sustainable.  And yet, while we may dispair of completing the work, we are not free to abstain from it, either.  So let’s roll!

There’s no such thing as “underfunded” for our Uncle

Kenneth Anderson asks, are underfunded public pensions underfunded public pensions $2 trillion in “stranded” costs?

One question about these obligations is whether taxpayers will stick around to pay them, or instead will vote with their feet. . . . Many of these pension obligations have been incurred by municipalities and others by states, and in some cases the obligations are intertwined. But what happens if voters-taxpayers move out? The assumption has long been that taxpayers are stuck, on account of jobs and other circumstance. But query whether that is necessarily true as the baby boom generation retires.

That’s why the baby boom generation won’t ask us.  This will be will “resolved” by the stroke of a pen — the same moral hazard pen that bails out everything else; and why should state governments be worse than all the other failed states of corporate America?

Federalization, people.  We can run, but we can’t hide.  (Via Insty.)

Best of 2009: “Was Rosen really right?”

This was posted on July 16, 2009.

Hm. Instapundit cites Randy Barnett, who writes:

When [Jeffrey] Rosen published his critique [of Sonya Sotomayor], I knew very little about Sotomayor. After forcing myself to watch much of the hearings, I wonder if those who criticized him then are having any second thoughts today.

I am having second thoughts about my own measured enthusiasm for Sotomayor, which was based on a selfish interest in a particular area of law plus what I believed was the range of options from this Administration, yes.

But do I have second thoughts about my criticism of Jeffrey Rosen (it’s buried in here; and no, I don’t think Jennifer Rubin meant me when she asked the question)?

No. Rosen’s article seemed rushed, and was based on very few specifics, and a lot of anonymous sources. The specifics were also very pedestrian. She was obviously vulnerable on Ricci v. DeStefano, but, well, “everyone” knew that — I am sure that that includes Randy Barnett. If her opinion in Ricci was that bad (and evidently it was!), why couldn’t Rosen give us six more such-a’s? That was his job as a reporter.

To the contrary, Rosen is to be criticized not only for pulling back from his original view so he wouldn’t lose out on invitations to all the right parties, but for writing such a damned lazy legal journalism article when in fact there may have been not only smoke but some fire to report. There’s a lot of that going around.

I also didn’t, and still don’t, think much of this slam by Jennifer Rubin, also cited by both Glenn and Randy:

The question is not whether Sotomayor will get through, but why the president felt so compelled to select her. If he was desperate to find a Latina, he should have found a wise one.

Talk about “wise.” I know wisdom is not the same as intelligence, but I don’t think Jennifer Rubin has the slightest inclination to make that distinction here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Best of 2009: “The Specter circus”

This was first posted on May 7, 2009.

Oh, man. Okay, let’s say one more blog post on this Arlen Specter for the week. Check this out — a rundown of primo Specter humiliations from the Washington Post:

• Specter pronounced that he would be keeping his seniority when he announced his party switch last week — maintaining that his ability to deliver for the state would not be diminished in any way shape or form by his move across the aisle. Except, that wasn’t exactly right. The Senate’s approval of Specter’s junior status on a series of committees led to a “he said, he said” between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and the newest member of his caucus. Asked about the back and forth by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Reid stood his ground saying simply: “He is a person who’s been in the Senate since 1980. I think he should be able to handle himself.”

Now, that’s a caucus you want to join, eh! “I want to thank you all for your hospitality and for welcoming me to your — hey! Where’s my wallet?!” Next:

• In a sitdown with the New York Times’ Deborah Solomon, Specter said he was hoping that the Minnesota courts would do “justice” and declare former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman the winner in the contested 2008 election. Whoops! Specter tried to walk the comment back [and] told Reid that he briefly “forgot what team I was on.”

Whoops! Come again? Here’s the actual report in the Times:

He voted against the Democrats in his first two big votes since the switch, opposing the Democratic budget and helping defeat a measure to allow bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages for troubled homeowners.

And on Tuesday night, he retracted a statement, made in an interview, in which he said the Minnesota courts should rule in favor of the Republican, Norm Coleman, in the state’s disputed Senate race.

Republican press releases snipe at his every misstep.

And the comment about Minnesota, where Democrats need Al Franken to become their crucial 60th vote in the Senate, prompted the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, to confront Mr. Specter on the Senate floor.

“Arlen,” Mr. Reid said in his trademark low-volume growl, “What’s going on here?”

Mr. Specter replied that he had forgotten “what team” he was on. Later, he told a reporter: “I conclusively misspoke.”

Because it’s the team you’re on that tells you which side of a court case is in the right. Did I ever mention to you he used to be a prosecutor? The last one of the trifecta, from the Post story, is this:

• Specter has done little to back off his initial assertion that his decision to switch parties was based almost entirely on political calculations and had little to do with ideology. While most party switchers are almost certainly guided by personal political concerns (what politician isn’t?), most don’t come right out and say it because it is a turnoff for voters who want to believe that their politicians believe in, well, something.

It’s just that open and obvious.

Has it become pathetic? It has. In so many ways.

And I feel sorry for him, frankly. I guess that’s why I’ll never be reliable politically. I always find it pitiable to watch a man fall from grace, regardless of whether he brought it on himself, as Senator Specter surely did. And no matter what else, and no matter how much he wishes he hadn’t done this — and I bet that now he actually does wish he hadn’t, because a man in the service of his ego alone cannot be enjoying this one bit — it can’t be undone. Quite unlike Arlen Specter himself.

Attorney Ronald D. Coleman