Category Archives: Out There

Fearing U.N.’s ‘Agenda 21′ down in Charleston

Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland. And also on the coast. I rode on an elevator with Matt Kennell of City Center Partnership this morning, and he was marveling at the credulity of those in Charleston who believe that “smart growth” is some sort of U.N. plot to undermine the American Way.

Here’s what he was referring to:

Where builders and planners see combining high-density housing, retail and offices as the wave of the future, residents from Mount Pleasant to James Island see problems – crowded schools, lack of parking and an end to small-town lifestyles.

Now, they also have complaints that high-density residential developments, bicycle lanes, mass transit and “sustainable” or “smart” growth are part of a 22-year-old United Nations plot to undermine the American way of life.

“It’s all a part of this Agenda 21,” said Mount Pleasant native Cindy Anderson, referring to the Coleman Boulevard Plan. “They will push us all into these urban centers – that’s the plan.”

Bill Eubanks, the creative director of Urban Edge Studio at Seamon, Whiteside & Associates, who authored Mount Pleasant’s Coleman Boulevard master plan, said he’s heard concerns about Agenda 21, a 351-page document outlining ideas to address poverty, housing and environmental problems, including climate change.

“I have looked into the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory claims and not only do I think they are unfounded, I think they are absolutely ludicrous,” he said. “Worse than that, buying into this ridiculous fear-mongering can stand in the way of both sustainability and smart growth – something our communities really need.”…

Apparently, “Agenda 21″ is to development what “Common Core” is to education standards — some sort of dog-whistle thing that only the conspiracy-sensitive can hear.

Those who fear this supposed agenda say it could lead to people getting out of their cars and riding mass transit. Which, of course, sounds awesome. I don’t know whether the U.N. has a plan for that, but I do. Alas, I don’t think any of us will live to see it where we live…

Odd interpretation of a poll result

This release left me scratching my head a bit:

Poll: Parents Say Too Much Focus on Standardized Tests

Opposition to Common Core Most Intense Among Parents

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2014) — Parents of school-age children are unhappy with the amount of time spent on standardized tests and have strong opinions on other controversial education policies, including Common Core and school vouchers, according to a new national poll released today.

The Schooling in America Survey, released annually by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Braun Research, includes a statistically representative sample of school parents. It found 44 percent of those parents said children spend too much time preparing for and taking assessments; 22 percent said too low, 30 percent said the focus is about right, and 5 percent had no opinion.

So… 52 percent say kids spend about the right amount of time on standardized tests, or even not enough time, while 44 percent say they spend too much time on them.

What sort of group would look at those figures and come away with the headline, “Poll: Parents Say Too Much Focus on Standardized Tests,” which is only accurate in the sense that some parents (a minority) say that?

Oh. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. OK. Yeah…

Mind you, I’m not sticking up for standardized tests here. I probably would have been in the 44 percent saying too much time is spent on them, although I’m far from passionate on the subject.

But what a screwy interpretation…

So are you truly, unambiguously going to support this guy?

This is a good day to be Nancy Mace or Det Bowers. Because they are the only two of the crowd of people running against Lindsey Graham in the GOP primary who did not just sign a pledge to support the guy who called the senator “ambiguously gay.”

Here’s the money quote, which caused enough of a splash that Chris Cillizza of The Fix retweeted me when I mentioned it yesterday, leading to 17 other retweets and 8 favorites:

Feliciano said, “It’s about time that South Carolina (says) hey, We’re tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina. We’re ready for a new leader to merge the Republican Party. We’re done with this. This is what it’s about, all of us coming together and saying, one way or the other, one of us is going to be on that ballot in November.”

It was said by the (formerly) most obscure of the candidates, the suddenly-famous Dave Feliciano of Spartanburg, at a presser in which he and three others — Bill Connor, Lee Bright and Richard Cash — signed a pledge promising to support any one of their number who gets into a runoff with Graham.

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

Dave Feliciano, in an image from his campaign website.

Put another way, Bill Connor, Lee Bright and Richard Cash just pledged to support Dave Feliciano over Lindsey Graham.

Just when you thought they couldn’t take ideology far enough…

After the presser, Connor and Cash both denounced Feliciano’s characterization of the senator, but both confirmed they would still stick to the pledge, according to The State. Bright reportedly left the event before Feliciano spoke, which shows he’s not named “Bright” for nothing.

I wrote to Bill Connor via Facebook a few minutes ago to ask him again, “would you really support this Feliciano guy over Sen. Graham?” Because I still find that hard to believe. But then, I find the attitude of the kinds of Republicans who would oppose Graham sort of hard to believe, so this is not surprising.

Nice to see Tom Davis backing away from nullification

I’ve always seen Tom Davis as a (mostly) reasonable man, and have been distressed to see his drift into extremism over the last couple of years.

So I’m pleased to see him take a deliberate step away from the antebellum notion of Nullification:

Davis,TomCOLUMBIA, SC — A Republican lawmaker says he plans to take the “nullification” out of the Obamacare nullification bill before the state Senate….

“The conversation really has gotten off the rails a little bit,” Davis said Wednesday, after holding three public hearings across the state that drew hundreds. “Everybody talks about nullification. This isn’t nullification. We can’t nullify.”…

Amen to that, senator. No, we can’t. That’s been pretty clear ever since 1865, if not sooner.

But it’s a bit disingenuous for Tom to act like other people have somehow gone “off the rails” with all this nullification talk:

  • I remember his presence at this Ron Paul press conference at which nullification was spoken of approvingly.
  • Then there was his speech at a… Nullification Rally… at which he praised John C. Calhoun as “a great man who has been maligned far too long.” And by the way, Tom himself called it a “nullification rally” when he thanked someone for putting up video of his speech.

So… Tom no longer wants to nullify Obamacare. However, he does want to sabotage it, to do all he can to make it fail. Which is not the most positive attitude I’ve ever heard of with regard to respecting laws legitimately passed by the Congress.

But this is progress…

North Korea is so incredibly backward, it issues threats by fax

Now that Kim Jong Un’s uncle has been executed and he no longer has adult supervision, he’s issuing threats. And how is he doing so, on the verge of the year 2014?

By fax:

North Korea on Friday threatened to attack South Korea without any notice via a fax sent to South Korea’s National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence said in Seoul.

The fax made reference to recent demonstrations in which effigies of Kim Jong Un were burnt in Seoul on the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, an issue that often aggravates the North.

South Korea reacted firmly to Pyongyang’s warning that it would “mercilessly” attack “without notice” by sending a fax back that promised “resolute punishment” to any attack initiated by the North….

I like that touch — fighting fax with fax. Like, if you shoot a medieval catapult at us, we’re gonna shoot a medieval catapult back at you.

It’s got to be unsettling in Seoul, being so close to an adversary so deeply irrational that he puts you on notice that he’s going to attack without notice, completely without irony. And does it by fax. And isn’t embarrassed about it…

How delusional can some liberals be? There’s no limit…

Did you shake your head when you read this, which appeared under the Bizarro-World headline, “Clyburn too conservative?

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn is used to political foes calling him liberal. They’ve been doing it for years. Now, though, prominent liberals are coming after him for being too conservative.

The patron saint of delusional Democrats.

The patron saint of delusional Democrats.

Several left-wing groups are criticizing South Carolina’s Clyburn, the No. 3 Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, for his relationship with one of the party’s influential centrist policy organizations.

The founders of that think tank, Third Way, attacked U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., last week for pushing tax hikes for the rich and increases in Social Security benefits, and for taking other stances that they said represented risky fiscal approaches and bad political strategies.

Allies of Warren, a freshman lawmaker who is a rising star in Washington, struck back quickly.

Four liberal groups asked Clyburn of Columbia and 11 other Democratic members of Congress who are “honorary co-chairs” of Third Way to repudiate the condemnation of Warren and sever their ties with the organization…

Do you recall, back during the Democratic Convention last year, when I highly praised a speech by Bill “Third Way” Clinton? Aside from the fact that it may have been, as I said, the most skilled and powerful political speech yet in this century (and as I noted at the time, that was coming from “the editor who presided over an editorial board that was tied as first in the country to call on him to resign after he admitted lying to us”) — certainly the best I ever heard from Clinton — my positive impression of it was heightened by the fact that it followed an atrocious rant from Elizabeth Warren, which I characterized as follows: “She gave one of those speeches full of resentments and blame, the kind that makes me dislike political parties so much.”

Which is, you know, pretty much par for the course for her. These allies of hers, if anything, tend toward even sillier rhetoric:

“We’re calling on James Clyburn to do the right thing and immediately drop his affiliation with the Wall Street-backed Third Way…”

“Wall Street-backed” being a very powerful epithet among these people. Because, apparently, business is evil by its very nature in their belief system.

Embracing the Third Way.

Embracing the Third Way.

It’s interesting to me that, just as John Boehner is finally reining in the loonies in his party — and they’ve been on quite a rampage for several years now — the left wing of the Democratic Party is going on a delusional tear of its own.

The only way this embrace of Sen. Warren as presidential timber for 2016 makes sense for Democrats is that it would provide Hillary Clinton with a way of looking sensible and mainstream by contrast (which she is, by contrast), putting her in a strong position for the general election.

But I don’t think these folks are thinking that way. I think they actually believe Sen. Warren represents a direction in which they can pull the country. Hence my use of the word, “delusional.”

Apparently, there was NOT a mass exodus from SC schools today

Fun fact: If you do a Google Images search on "Sheri Few," this picture that I took during an editorial board meeting years ago is still the second one that comes up.

Fun fact: If you do a Google Images search on “Sheri Few,” this picture that I took during an editorial board meeting years ago is still the second one that comes up.

There was a lot of talk last week — from people who supported the event to those who were horrified at the idea of encouraging kids to skip school — about this thing Sheri Few was putting together:

Hundreds of South Carolina parents are expected to rally and possibly pull their children from schools on Monday to show their opposition to the Common Core State Standards.

The Columbia event is part of National Don’t Send Your Child to School Day, which was organized to raise awareness about Common Core. Those standards are the new requirements for what K-12 students must learn in English language arts and math.

“It is our hope that it sends a loud message to the education establishment and the decision makers in our state that we’re going to protect our children from these flawed standards,” said Sheri Few, president of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, a group that is opposed to the standards…

Well, apparently the message wasn’t all that loud.

Jamie Self of The State Tweeted this morning, “About 50ppl have lined up for march against Common Core at SC Dept of Ed on Senate St.” She posted this picture to go with it. She later reported that about 100 showed, so maybe there were some who were tardy.

Anyway, apparently there was no mass exodus from the schools today.

The threat from North Korea

This morning around 4:30, as I often do at about that time, I woke up. My allergies were bothering me. I took one of those little white, generic antihistamine/decongestant pills I get from Walmart, and went over to push the button on my iPhone so I could note the time.

As the lock screen lit up, I saw this alert from the AP:

March 07, 4:19AM: Ahead of U.N. sanctions vote, North Korea vows pre-emptive nuclear strikes against U.S.

Yeah, right, OK. I went back to bed sort of muttering the way Rob in “High Fidelity” did after, in a fantasy sequence, throwing the insufferable Ian out of his shop: That dumb mother…

Thinking, of course of Kim Jong-un.

I mean, who does that? Who actually threatens a nuclear attack against the United States? Real countries don’t do that. The Soviet Union never did that, in so many words. We knew they had the capability to do so, the real, existential threat was always there. But they were never so uncool, so nekulturny, as to say it.

Only the sort of ridiculous loser who keeps his people literally in the dark, the country is so far behind — who develops nukes instead of anything useful? — blusters like that. (OK, technically his father did that, but I sort of look at them as one administration.)

I went back to sleep, and didn’t think about it again until mid-morning. When I tried to look it up, I found it on my Washington Post app, as the seventh headline on the screen: “N. Korea threatens nuclear strike,” two items below “Obama invites Paul Ryan to lunch.”

Of course, maybe The Washington Post and I are wrong to be dismissive. Maybe it’s the crazy blusterer, rather than a superpower with full MAD capability, that we need to worry about. But it just doesn’t feel like, say, a Cuban Missile Crisis.

Oh, and guess what? The U.N. went ahead with the sanctions. No mushroom clouds yet…

First, key SC lawmakers were dead serious about nullification; now, they’re taking testimony from a secessionist. And yes, it’s 2013

We are really on a roll in South Carolina this week. On a rapid downhill roll, as on the proverbial handcart to hell.

SC Democrats put out this release today:

Well-known Secessionist invited by GOP lawmaker to give testimony in support of Nullification

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Laws held a hearing on H3101, otherwise known as the “Nullification” bill that seeks to nullify the Affordable Care Act, heard testimony from dozens of Tea Party activists on Wednesday. One of the speakers, Dr. Donald Livingston of Georgia, separated himself from the other speakers when he publicly advocated for secession during his testimony.

Dr. Livingston, a retired philosophy professor testifying in support of nullification, was invited to give the lead testimony by the bill’s chief sponsor, Representative Bill Chumley. Dr. Livingston later admitted in his testimony that he had not actually read Rep. Chumley’s bill.

Dr. Donald Livingston is the former director of the League of the South, a neo-confederate group that actively supports southern nationalism as well as secession from the United States. (Source) The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the League of the South as a “racist hate group.” (Source) Dr. Livingston has been dubbed the “Intellectual Godfather of the secession movement” by New York Times journalist Chris Hedges. Dr. Livingston has written extensively in support of secession and southern heritage. (Source)

In 2001, he told the Intelligence Report that “the North created segregation” and that Southerners fought during the Civil War only “because they were invaded.” The next year, he established the Abbeville Institute, based in Atlanta, along the lines of the League of the South. (Source)

At a 2003 “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference he said that “evil is habit-forming” and no habit is as evil as believing that Lincoln acted out of good motives. (Source)

Representative James Smith, a member of the subcommittee, released the following statement in response:

“I was surprised and extremely disappointed Rep. Bill Chumley would invite Dr. Livingston to serve as his chief advocate in front of the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee. His extreme views on secession and his association with a known racist hate group insults the institution we serve and reveals the motives behind many who support this legislation. I fundamentally reject his vision for our country and I call on my colleagues to do the same.”

####

It’s really been weird lately. At home in the evenings, I read Team of Rivals, and just started rewatching Ken Burns’ classic “The Civil War” on Netflix. Reading and watching at night, I think that what I’m doing is studying history.

But then I get up in the morning, and day after day, this insane nonsense turns out to be current events over at our State House.

View of Jim DeMint changed radically after the 2004 campaign

I was rather startled to run across something I’d written about Jim DeMint in 2004.

For so many years now, I’ve seen him as a hyperpartisan ideologue, as responsible as anyone in the country for pulling his party into Tea Party extremism right up until his recent resignation from the Senate, that I’d forgotten I used to see him differently.

Here’s what I wrote right after the 2004 election, when he had defeated Inez Tenenbaum in the contest to replace Fritz Hollings:

While I criticized Rep. DeMint heavily for choosing to run as a hyperpartisan (despite his record as an independent thinker), there’s little doubt that that strategy was his key to victory. The president won South Carolina 58-41, and Mr. DeMint beat Mrs. Tenenbaum 54-44, demonstrating the power of the coattail effect. I congratulate him, and sincerely hope he now returns to being the thoughtful policy wonk he was before he wrapped himself in party garb in recent weeks.

Wow. What a difference a few years make. “Thoughtful policy wonk?” I only vaguely remember that Jim DeMint.

So that’s when it began. Before the 2004 campaign, I saw him as a fairly thoughtful guy. But I guess that campaign showed him what red meat could do for him…

Tom Davis at the ‘nullification rally’

This morning, I saw this on Twitter from Tom Davis:

Thanks, Ed Eichelberger, for this video of my speech at Tuesday’s nullification rally at the S. C. State House. http://fb.me/1eyP5zmGG

“Nullification rally?” Is that what was going on when I passed by on Tuesday.? Wait, let me go check. No, I was right: This is 2013, and not 1832…

I didn’t have time to look at the video until tonight. Before I wrap up for today, I want to take note of it here. We must all remember this when Tom runs against Lindsey Graham next year. If he does. Or when he runs for anything in the future.

I have always liked Tom Davis personally, and I have been very disturbed to see his steady descent into fringe extremism.

In case you don’t have time to watch it all, some lowlights:

  • Lee Bright’s absolutely right.
  • Launching on a history lesson — neoConfederates are big on condescendingly explaining their version of history to the rest of us, and Tom is picking up their habits — he says that George Washington was president in 1800. No, Tom, he wasn’t. Kind of makes you want to double-check all the other stuff he says. In case you didn’t already know to do that.
  • He says, with fierce, defensive passion, that as a South Carolinian he is “proud of John C. Calhoun,” whom he characterizes as “a great man who has been maligned far too long.”
  • “You have the intellectual high ground here.” This to the assembled nullificationists.
  • “I can’t do anything right now up in Congress…” As opposed to later, I guess.
  • “This state has a proud tradition of leaders stepping up and holding aloft the candle of liberty at a time when things were darkest.” Really? I would like to have heard an elaboration on that, with names and dates, so I can understand how Tom is defining “liberty” these days.

Mulvaney among those Republicans flipping off Boehner

As much as all of the Four Tea Party Freshman in the SC congressional delegation (I guess after yesterday, they are technically sophomores) like to dis the GOP leadership in the House, with Joe Wilson tagging along behind them, only one of them refused to vote for John Boehner for another term as speaker.

That was Mick Mulvaney. Why? Well, he’s not talking about it:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney declined Thursday to support giving U.S. Rep. John Boehner a second term as House speaker, joining 11 other Republican lawmakers who protested the Ohioan’s leadership…

398px-Mick_Mulvaney,_Official_Portrait,_112th_CongressNine Republican lawmakers voted for someone other than Boehner, three of them backing his deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Mulvaney, by contrast, declined to vote for anyone despite being present in the House chamber. Raul Labrador of Idaho, like Mulvaney a tea party favorite who first gained election in 2010, chose the same tactic…

Mulvaney, who represents South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, later declined to respond to subsequent requests for comment from reporters.

“Mick won’t be available to speak,” his press secretary, Stephanie Faile, told McClatchy. “He is spending the rest of the day with his family.”…

I wonder whether he sat up the night before this, thinking, What would be even more petulant and pouty than declining to vote for speaker? I know! Declining to vote, then refusing to say why!

I guess it beats pulling Boehner’s pants down and shoving him into the ladies’ room

Surprise! The NRA concedes nothing

Stag2wi_

Earlier in the week, we saw this release from the NRA:

National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters—and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.

… which kind of made it sound like the gun lobby, sensing a change in mood in the country, even among some traditional allies, was willing to concede something, give some ground, agree to something it would never have agreed to before. I mean, that’s what “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions” sounds like to most people.

Fat chance.

Here’s what they came up with today:

WASHINGTON—The nation’s most powerful gun-rights lobby called Friday for armed security guards in schools, saying that children had been left vulnerable in their classrooms.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said that “the monsters and the predators of the world” have exploited the fact that schools are gun-free zones. Other important institutions—from banks to airports to sports stadiums—are protected with armed security, he said, but this country has left students defenseless.

So basically, their response to the nation’s concern over all those guns out there is… more guns. That, and gun-lover buzz phrases: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” It would never occur to the NRA that maybe, just maybe, an even better solution would be to keep the bad guy from getting a gun to begin with. There’s a whole lot less crossfire that way, for one thing.

Mind you, I’m not entirely against the idea of armed officers in schools. Mainly because, as I’ve said before, I think the likelihood of gun control measures that would really, truly keep guns out of the hands of bad guys is next to nil. It’s an economic problem. There are just too many guns out there chasing too many tragedies. Think chaos theory gone mad.

But I also think that’s not going to happen. For every extreme gun nut out there — the kind who sits up late oiling and stroking his weapons and whispering pet names to them, and thinks government exists to threaten his “freedoms” — there’s a corresponding gunophobe who goes weak in the knees at the very sight of anything that looks like a firearm, who gets chills down the spine at the idea of being within range of one, even in the hands of cops. And a lot of those folks in the latter groups have little kids in school, and would have an absolute stroke at the idea of any sort of firearms in the vicinity of their children. (And this week, it’s a little hard to argue with their emotional response.)

Beyond that, though, my real objection is this: The NRA’s utter unwillingness to say, “Here’s something we’re willing to give up.” This was a moment for doing that. Something, anything, however marginal or minimal in impact, that said “fewer guns” rather than “more guns.”

But the folks at the gun lobby seem to be genetically incapable of that. Or something.

These voices of reassurance don’t soothe me

This morning, there was an op-ed piece by Rand Paul (not Paul Ryan; the other one with very similar name and identical ideas) suggesting that we need not necessarily “wring our hands in despair at the possible fiscal cliff.”

Then later today, I get this from Gary Johnson, the guy who ran for president this year as a Libertarian:

Since the election, I’ve been able to spend some time at home in New Mexico, recharge my batteries a bit, and most important, watch what’s going on in Washington, DC – which is really nothing good.

Gary Johnson

The news is filled with stories about the “looming fiscal cliff”.  Of course, in Washington, their definition of a “cliff” is that government spending will be cut next year by slightly more than $100 billion – IF Congress and the President don’t come to an agreement to cut spending by LESS than that. With a $16 trillion debt and trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, only in Washington would cutting $100 billion be viewed as an impending disaster.

The real disaster – the real “fiscal cliff” – is the one we face if spending ISN’T cut by far more than $100 billion…  There are talking heads on TV saying, with a straight face, that cutting spending by a few small percentage points will devastate the economy. Where were those talking heads when the Democrats and Republicans were conspiring to run up an unsustainable $16 TRILLION national debt.  Who is pointing out the obvious:  That ridiculous levels of spending have already devastated the economy – and that the so-called fiscal cliff is a pothole compared to the real cliff that our Thelma and Louise government is driving us over.

And so forth. Somehow, I am not consoled by these assertions. Nor am I pacified when some of our friends on the left (and more libertarian elements of the right) say it’s just fine if military spending is eviscerated.

Call me wacky, but count me among those hoping that the Dems and Repubs will work out a way to avert this booby-trap they set during their last major failure to be reasonable on fiscal matters — you know, the one that let to the downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

The Onion turns to straight reporting

Don’t know if you saw this at The Onion. What grabbed me about it is that it is in no way an exaggeration. There are hundreds of Republicans across the nation who are actually, sincerely torn by the horns of this very “dilemma,” even though they wouldn’t describe it in the same words:

Congressman Torn Between Meaningless Pledge To Anti-Tax Zealot, Well-Being Of Nation

WASHINGTON—Amid ongoing negotiations in Congress over the looming “fiscal cliff,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) told reporters Wednesday he is “completely torn” between his commitment to conservative activist Grover Norquist’s meaningless anti-tax pledge and the general welfare of the entire country. “On the one hand, you have a nonsensical promise to blindly oppose tax increases regardless of circumstances, but on the other, you have the well-being of more than 300 million people and the long-term stability of the entire U.S. economy,” said Reed, adding that he is “really stuck between a rock and a hard place” now that he must decide between his loyalty to a dogmatic political lobbyist and his responsibility to serve the best interests of his constituents. “At the end of the day, it’s a question of whether a nonbinding signature on an outdated and worthless pledge written 26 years ago is more important than preventing the nation from completely going to hell. I just don’t know what to do here.” When reached for comment, Norquist urged the pledge’s signatories in Congress to “remember what’s really important” before sacrificing utterly irrational principles for the sake of the country’s future.

The hole DeMint’s been digging to bury his party in (and how that affects our OTHER senator)

Juan Williams (isn’t he a TV guy?) wrote a piece that appeared in The Wall Street Journal today about what has led to the irrelevance of Republicans in the U.S. Senate. After noting that John McCain and Lindsey Graham can huff and puff all they like, but won’t be able to blow Susan Rice down, Williams says of Senate Republicans in general:

They have only themselves to blame. Six months ago, a GOP takeover of the Senate was plausible. Yet in the Nov. 6 elections, Democrats expanded their hold, to 55-45, from 53-47. (Two independents caucus with the Democrats.) By any pre-election reckoning, Democrats should have lost seats. They had to defend 23 seats while the GOP had to defend only 10.

In the aftermath of the vote, there is no better place than in the U.S. Senate to observe the current war over the future of the Republican Party.

The 2012 vote was the second cycle in a row when the GOP had a clear shot at winning control of the Senate but blew the chance by nominating ideologues. Conservative activists who dominate the GOP primaries selected hard-line, right-wing candidates without any regard for their ability to win the general election and increase the number of Republicans in the Senate…

This, of course, is what Jim DeMint and his ilk have wrought, running about the country pushing extremists.

And as we all know, one of the prime targets of such efforts is our other U.S. senator:

And now conservative and tea party activists look to be doubling down for 2014. They are already talking about primary challenges to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican; to Maine Sen. Susan Collins; and to Mr. Graham in South Carolina…

Mr. McConnell is far from alone in this fight for the future of Senate Republicans. Sen. Graham is known in Washington for his battles with Mr. Obama over everything from budgets to Benghazi. But the head of the conservative group Club for Growth, Chris Chocola, said in September that his group “has a lot of interest” in finding a more conservative candidate to take the Senate seat for South Carolina. “Our first focus is open, safe Republican seats,” Mr. Chocola said. “Our second focus is incumbents behaving badly. Regardless of whether you win or lose, you scare the heck out of the rest of them.”

Scaring incumbent Republicans from the right wing of the political spectrum is proving to be effective at keeping them in line. GOP senators know the danger of moderating their views—there is a political penalty attached to any political compromise with Democrats…

That seems to be a major pastime for extremists on the right — scaring people. Nikki Haley has referred to making mainstream pols afraid as “a beautiful thing.”

The column doesn’t mention Tom Davis. I guess he’s not quite on the national radar yet.

One wonders what they think they are accomplishing. It must be a terrible thing for one’s mind to be in the grip of an ideology. Sort of like the fable about the scorpion and the frog. That’s just what scorpions do, even if it means drowning themselves.

Was Romney better than the GOP deserved?

Just read Kathleen Parker’s column from over the weekend about how the GOP doesn’t need focus groups to figure out why it lost the presidential election; it just needs to look in a mirror.

I liked this part:

Some Republicans stubbornly insist, of course, that the problem was that Romney wasn’t conservative enough. Really? In his heart, this may be true. I never believed Romney was passionate about social issues. He embraced them because he had to, but he had no intention of pursuing a socially conservative agenda.

But the real problem is the Republican Party, which would not be recognizable to its patron saint, Ronald Reagan. The party doesn’t need a poll or a focus group. It needs a mirror.

The truth is, Romney was better than the GOP deserved…

I agree. While Romney wouldn’t have topped my list of candidates (if I were allowed to choose the field, rather than having that crowd of undesirables that actually ran for the GOP nomination this time), he’s a relatively decent sort of guy, and no sort of nut. And the traumatized party that has been spinning off into irrelevance since the rise of the Tea Party did not deserve him.

Of course, I don’t agree with her that it was the gross missteps by a couple of GOP candidates (who were not running for president or vice president) on Culture War issues that best illustrated what was wrong. As she put it, in her most colorful passage:

Party nitwits undermined him, and the self-righteous tried to bring him down. The nitwits are well-enough known at this point — those farthest-right social conservatives who couldn’t find it in their hearts to keep their traps shut. No abortion for rape or incest? Sit down.Legitimate rape? Put on your clown suit and go play in the street.

No, the GOP has long been on the right on social issues — although perhaps not as given to such bizarre ways of expressing itself — and remained a mainstream party, for a long, long time. That’s nothing new. What’s new is the way it’s gone off the deep end on fiscal issues, and other attendant weirdness such as refusal to be reasonable on immigration (which is WAY far away from being the party of Ronald “Amnesty” Reagan) that distinguishes the spin-off into irrelevance in the last handful of years.

The pre-2010 GOP might have deserved Romney. The post-2010 party, not so much…

We knew this was coming, didn’t we?

After the 2008 election, Jim DeMint and others cried that the reason Republicans lost is that they just weren’t right-wing enough, and they should never have nominated an iconoclast like John McCain.

It was patent nonsense, but the GOP listened, and so we got the Tea Party madness, and Nikki Haley, and Sarah Palin as a national celebrity, and a presidential nominating process that a year ago was letting the flake of the week take turns leading the pack.

It was inevitable, of course, that someone would say after Tuesday that despite all that saturation in ideology, Romney’s problem was that he just wasn’t right-wing enough (and remember, four years ago, Romney was the preferred candidate of people like DeMint). And in this release, someone did:

The Real Reason Romney Lost

Now that Mitt Romney lost to one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history, the question many are asking is why?

Political pundits on the Left and Right are claiming that Romney appealed too much to the “extreme Right fringe” and was not “moderate enough.”  The truth is that the exact opposite is true.

It is virtually impossible to win a national presidential election without your base on election day as 1976, 1992, 1996, and 2008 all demonstrated. Unfortunately, the GOP elites thought the pro-family/pro-life Christian base would hold their proverbial noses and vote for their candidate regardless.  They were wrong!

Fast forward to 2012 and many of us warned that if the GOP once again nominated an establishment approved liberal like Romney that it would assure 4 more years of the Obama in the White House since, again, it’s virtually impossible to win without your base on election day.

But once again, the elites who run the GOP (Reince Priebus, Karl Rove, The Bushies, the folks over at Fox News, the Weekly Standard and National Review) rammed yet another establishment liberal RINO down our throats who was, from the very beginning, destined for defeat.

Obama’s base turned out Tuesday night.  Romney’s  didn’t.  And why should they have?  After all, in just the past few months, Romney did virtually everything possible to snub the very same Evangelical conservative GOP “Values Voters” base ( whose support he would need in every one of the key swing states he lost last night) by:

  • Refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony and Personhood U.S.A pro-life pledges.
  • Reaffirming his opposition to bans on homosexual scoutmasters.
  • Opposing 100% pro-life, pro-family, across the board conservative Senatorial candidate, Todd Akin.
  • Running pro-abortion ads in key pro-life swing states.
  • Stating that “abortion legislation” and Chick Fill-A was not “part of his agenda.”

Santorum was right when he said that Romney was the “worst Republican in the country to run against Obama.”

Having lost his own senate re-election bid by 18 points in 2006 by snubbing his own base (by supporting uber-liberal Arlen Specter over conservative primary challenger Pat Toomey), Santorum was all too familiar with what happens when your base stays home on election day.

The GOP elites should have listened to Santorum.

So, how do we stop perpetually repeating this mistake every 4 years you ask?  Simple.

Christian and conservative leaders and grassroots citizens must make it clear that we will, under no circumstances, compromise our core moral and spiritual beliefs.  We will not support godless liberals like Romney for public office no matter how many time the liberal GOP inside-the-beltway elites tell us our 100% pro-life, pro-marriage, pro- rule of law Constitutional conservative Christian candidate isn’t “electable.”

When we set the standard based on God’s authoritative Word and tell those running to represent us that if they don’t meet that standard that they will not get our support, I believe we will get candidates who truly represent us.

There are obviously millions of Christians and conservatives who don’t subscribe to the utilitarian-secular-humanist and anti-Biblical “lesser of two evils” construct and they refused to cast a vote for the most radically pro-abortion, pro-homosexual governor in the history of the Republic regardless of who his opponent was.

If the GOP is serious about reversing course in the next election they may want to run actual candidates whom the base will actually turn out for on election day.

Because, as Romney proved, you don’t win without your base on election day…

That email, by the way, came from one Annie Fischer, who appeared to be writing on behalf of one Gregg Jackson, author of a book entitled We Won’t Get Fooled Again.

But despite that title, there appear to be certain people who will keep getting fooled over and over, continuing to believe unlikely propositions despite evidence to the contrary.

A blast from SC’s past (and present, alas)

There was a meme bouncing around on Twitter this morning having to do with the expression “dog whistle politics.” It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard before, which is easy to understand intuitively, but I was curious about its provenance, so I looked it up. And I found a little gem that, if I had read it before, I had forgotten.

This is from the Wikipedia entry on the term. WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE:

One group of alleged code words in the United States is claimed to appeal to racism of the intended audience. The phrase “states’ rights“, although literally referring to powers of individual state governments in the United States, was described by David Greenberg in Slate as “code words” for institutionalized segregation and racism.[8] In 1981, former Republican Party strategist Lee Atwater when giving an anonymous interview discussing the GOP’s Southern Strategy, said:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968, you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”[9][10]

Assuming that actually was South Carolina’s own Lee Atwater speaking (and it sounds like him), that’s the most direct line I’ve ever seen drawn — by an insider, that is — from the old segregationist politics, through the Southern Strategy and the redefinition of the Solid South, to today’s anti-government, anti-tax ideology.

The implication has been, ever since we entered this phase, that government is all about taking money from people like us and giving it to those people. Which of course is an idiotic understanding of what government is and whom it benefits, but it’s a line of thinking we often hear, with varying degrees of explicitness.

The thing is, most of the anti-government crowd would be furious at being called racist, and would indignantly point to Tim Scott and the sometimes nonwhite Nikki Haley as “proof” that they haven’t a racist bone in their bodies. And indeed, some of them (such as Mark Sanford, and his longtime friend and ally Tom Davis) are just natural-born libertarians. But far, far from all.

The thing about Atwater was that unlike the true believers, he was aware of what he was doing. That’s what made him so good at it.

Of course, as he points out, this is a process of distillation that takes us from the physical-world idea of race and transforms it to a pure abstraction that doesn’t literally bear on skin color. So it actually does become something other than racism, a set of attitudes more intellectualized than merely a visceral response to melanin. So those who become indignant at cries of “racism” do have a leg to stand on, and get angrier and angrier at having such an epithet flung at them. And so the back-and-forth accusations about what such attitudes really imply leads to even greater alienation, and the polarization of our politics gets worse and worse.

But you knew that, right?