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By Steve Kornacki
AP Rand Paul
There wasn’t much suspense, but the reality is no less jarring: Ron Paul’s son, a 47-year-old ophthalmologist with no previous political experience, is the Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky — and he’s in good position to win the seat in the fall.
For months, Paul enjoyed double-digit polling leads over Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s secretary of state and the handpicked choice of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, his dominance impervious to the GOP establishment’s effort to portray him as a risky general election candidate. Paul also withstood a concerted effort by his father’s neoconservative enemies to delegitimize his candidacy; Rudy Giuliani and Dick Cheney were among those who sided with Grayson.
When the results began streaming in shortly after 7 P.M. on the East Coast, it was clear a Paul landslide was in the offing.
Many will credit Paul’s triumph to the Tea Party movement, which he embraced wholeheartedly. There is something to this; after all, many original Tea Party activists are veterans of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. But as it has grown, the Tea Party movement has become virtually indistinguishable from the Republican Party base. This makes Paul’s achievement that much more remarkable: In racking up such an enormous margin, he managed to unite factions of the GOP that don’t frequently see eye-to-eye.
With Paul as the GOP nominee, national Democrats will now talk up the Kentucky race as a chance for a pick-up this fall — especially if the Democratic establishment’s preferred candidate, state Attorney General Jack Conway, wins his primary. (Early returns showed Conway, who had trailed Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo for most of the campaign before pulling into a statistical tie in the final week, leading.) The logic is simple: With his libertarian economic views (and family name), Paul will be easy to caricature as a quirky extremist.
That’s the theory, at least. But Paul may be harder than Democrats believe to knock off. For one thing, he’s a far more charismatic and savvy communicator than his father — not quite as easy to caricature as a quack. Moreover, the political playing field in Kentucky in 2010 isn’t exactly level. The state has conservative leanings to begin with. Add in the fact that midterm elections almost always boost the out-of-power party; the fact that Barack Obama has never really caught on in the state; and the fact that his popularity in Kentucky has been further ravaged by the economy — suddenly, a Paul victory in November hardly seems improbable.
Certainly not as improbable as his victory tonight seemed a year ago.
Hat tip: Cato at Liberty
By David Boaz
The sight of middle-class Americans rallying to protest overtaxing, overspending, Wall Street bailouts, and government-directed health care scares the bejeezus out of a lot of people. The elite media are full of stories declaring the Tea Partiers to be racists, John Birchers, Glenn Beck zombies, and God knows what. So it’s a relief to read a sensible discussion (subscription required) by John Judis, the decidedly leftist but serious journalist-historian at the New Republic. Once the managing editor the journal Socialist Revolution, Judis went on to write a biography of William F. Buckley Jr. and other books, so he knows something about ideological movements in the United States. Judis isn’t happy about the Tea Party movement, but he warns liberals not to dismiss it as fringe, AstroTurf, or a front group for the GOP:
But the Tea Party movement is not inauthentic, and—contrary to the impression its rallies give off—it isn’t a fringe faction either. It is a genuine popular movement, one that has managed to unite a number of ideological strains from U.S. history—some recent, some older. These strains can be described as many things, but they cannot be dismissed as passing phenomena. Much as liberals would like to believe otherwise, there is good reason to think the Tea Party movement could exercise considerable influence over our politics in the coming years.
by sherry mann
“This tea party movement can be a healthy thing if they are making us justify every dollar of taxes we raise and every dollar of money we’ve spent, but when you get mad, sometimes you end up producing the exact opposite result of what you say you are for.”
Bill Clinton on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Can that really be true? Let’s look at a few examples:
War on Drugs
The “War on Drugs” was a term was first used by President Richard Nixon in 1969. Since then, the initiative has had countless laws, initiatives and policies have gone into effect which were supposed to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of everything from pot to heroine. According to Wikipedia:
- In 1970, the Nixon administration implemented the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.
- In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Agency was created to replace the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
- In 1988 Ronald Reagan created the Office of National Drug Control Policy for central coordination of drug-related legislative, security, diplomatic, research and health policy throughout the government. The director of ONDCP is commonly known as the Drug Czar. The position was raised to cabinet-level status by Bill Clinton in 1993.
Obviously, the drug war saves lives by reducing murders.
Okay, maybe that was a bad example.
by Joe Wolverton, II
hat tip: The New American
On a cold night in December 1773, some three years after passage of the Tea Act by the British Parliament, colonists were fed up with the British crown’s haughty disregard of their rights as Englishmen, and they dumped 342 chests of the iconic British beverage into Boston Harbor, becoming icons themselves. The protesters (estimates range from as few as 30 to as many as 130) refused finally to be placated by repeated promises of change and reform and, rather than wait for legislative response, they exercised the Lockean right of “self-defense” and boldly resisted the alienation of their God-given liberty.
Modern Americans know something of that level of frustration. It’s been just over a year since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and the Democratic Party assumed majority control of both houses of Congress. In that short time, there has emerged a vociferous band within the electorate who, like their tea-tossing forebears, feel they have been precluded from participating in the direction the ship of state will sail, and they have decided to protest the insupportable behavior of a government that habitually oversteps its constitutional boundaries. Fed up and fired up, they have chosen to exercise their constitutional prerogative of peaceful assembly, hence the Tea Party Movement.
by Gary North
hat tip: Lew Rockwell
“If you are in the hip pocket of any political party, prepare to be sat on.” ~ Gary North
Political victory in the United States is best defined as follows:
Getting your political agenda enacted into law, enforced by the Executive branch, and upheld by the courts.
A definition of political victory that ignores any of these criteria is part of a shell game: getting people elected for their careers’ sake, not your agenda.
To achieve this three-part victory, you must be part of a voting bloc that has the power to impose sanctions: positive and negative.
Establishment politicians understand this. They respect it. They have learned to exploit it. They tell their constituents: “You can win through me if you supply the votes to enable me to win (positive sanction) at the expense of my opponent (negative sanction).” This is the politics of the shell game, what I call the Punch and Judy show.
The correct definition of the power to impose political sanctions is this:
Sufficient votes to deliberately keep your party’s candidate from winning in November if he waffles, and sufficient votes to elect his replacement two years later.
There is a corollary:
The willingness to run a post-nomination independent candidate against an incumbent member of your party if he has waffled during his most recent term in office.
Any voting bloc that has this ability will not be in any party’s hip pocket.
Conclusion: a fundamental strategy for political success is to get the rival wing of your party into the party’s hip pocket.
In modern American history, we saw this strategy applied by the Eastern Republican Establishment’s refusal to support Goldwater in 1964. They ran Governor Scranton as a last-ditch effort to keep Goldwater from getting the nomination. When that failed, they literally walked out of the convention.
Johnson won in 1964. He did not run in 1968. Nixon defeated Humphrey, and the Republican Establishment took over the White House in 1969. They were willing to go down to defeat in 1964 in order to ruin the Goldwater wing of the party. They were wise to do this.
We can laugh at the desperate people who threaten violence against elected officials. But they are not the fools. We are.
March 31, 2010
by Chris Hedges
Photo Credit: cometstarmoon
hat tip: TruthDig.
The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.
“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”
The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.
by Will Durst
Otto von Bismarck said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” Sausages? We would have loved to have seen some sausages. We would have killed for sausages. As any Wisconsin boy can tell you, sausages cooked indirectly over mesquite coals until crispy blistered, then slathered with Stadium Sauce and nestled in butter- grilled buns under a layer of fried onions can taste pretty darn yummy.
What we got was cut-rate, irate hot dogs. The ugly spectacle of Congressional wieners pummeling each other over health care was as appetizing as mixing snail guts and lizard tripe and cephalopod eyeballs with sour cream and yellow food dye then serving it on a fungus-covered bark chip. And no, I’m not talking about the spinach dip at The Olive Garden.
This isn’t a “pox on both their houses” deal either. Like psychic vultures sensing imminent putrefaction, Republicans amplified their pontificating protestations to a high- pitched squeal; piercing enough to annoy canines all across this great Northern Hemisphere of ours. In the throes of a pseudo-religious ecstasy, one Texas Republican chummed the waters by calling a Michigan Democrat “Baby Killer” on the floor of the House, frenzying his posse of nitwit accomplices into hurling the N-word, the F-word, half a dozen bricks, a handful of death threats, several mouths full of red hot spittle, gum wrappers, a jewel encrusted black ceramic bird (the stuff that dreams are made of, two faxed nooses and possibly a bullet.
The conservative party-line claimed their Neanderthals were simply playing catch-up to the health care proponents’ lead-mitten handling of the issue, and they suggested Democrats kill the bill to quell the rising tempers. That’s right. Fan the flames of stupidity then blame the other side for the scorching climate (different from global warming). If Republican gall were congealable, we could dam the Caribbean.
By Adam de Angeli
Hat tip: Campaign for Liberty
An enormous body of new activists and groups with the moniker “Tea Party” have mobilized since the Obama administration took power. While the “tea party” meme originated from the $6 million money bomb phenomenon of Ron Paul’s grassroots, the “Tea Party movement” is a beast of its own. It was popularized by Fox News coverage, and—surprise!—is now largely infiltrated by GOP-affiliated groups.
If the victories in 2010 are for the GOP alone, the movement will have lost. One need only look to the origin of the problem: big-government Republicans drove the grassroots into apathy. Conservatives couldn’t get excited for the once-pro-choice governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, who signed a state-level version of ObamaCare into law, or the gun-grabbing John McCain. They stayed home. They didn’t vote, they didn’t mobilize, and they handed the election over to Obama and the Democrats.
That would be a tragedy, except the Republicans needed to learn a lesson.
If a GOP sweep in 2010 means a new breed of John McCains, Mitt Romneys, and Lindsey Grahams in office, we will be back where we started. We will be worse off, not better. Congress will still be over-run with statists spending us into oblivion, but, just as in 2005, there will be no serious opposition from the Right. There will be nowhere to go, but to wait for the Democrats to return to power. And the cycle will go on. And on, and on, until there is no money left to spend.
This is why the Tea Party movement cannot, must not, be herded into the “any Republican over any Democrat” mentality.
Hat tip: Liberty Maven
March 4, 2010
The wave of “Tea Party” activism and renewed interest in the Constitution in the wake of the 2008 elections has mostly been fueled by a rightfully-deserved fear of the tyranny and reckless disregard for the rule of law that the current administration has displayed. Attend a local Tea Party event and you’ll likely encounter healthy, much-needed discussions on the 10th Amendment rights of the state, the protection of the inherent rights of the individual via the 1st and 2nd Amendments, the unconstitutionality of wasteful federal programs, and even once-fringe talking points such as repealing the 17th Amendment.
Quite often, however, the Constitution is lost on many when the topic of discussion turns to foreign policy and the so-called “War on Terror.” At a recent GOP primary debate that I attended (sponsored by the local Tea Party), several candidates were asked about national security, the role of America’s foreign policy, and what to do about the rising threat of Iran. Despite drooling over their love of the Constitution for the rest of the evening, the candidates didn’t mention the founding document once in their responses to these issues. One of the candidates, in fact, could be quoted as saying “If Israel bombed Iran, I’d slap them on the back and buy them a drink.” Several other candidates pledged their allegiance to defending Israel at all costs. Another candidate responded that the goal of American foreign policy should be to “help nations” and to “pressure nations that do not comply.” All of these statements drew more cheers than boos from the crowd.
From whence springs this disconnect between so-called “constitutionalists” and their eagerness to abandon all mention of the Constitution as it relates to our world empire? Since the GOP establishment takeover of the national Tea Party – seems funny that the rugged individualism that the Tea Party movement represents would even have a national organization, doesn’t it? – it seems that most of the Tea Parties have devolved into throngs of Republican dissenters who only take issue when “the other guy” is the one shredding the Constitution, while using the Amendments, clauses, and Founders’ quotes that support their agenda.