Riot Act: the Oscar Grant Riot Pool

Speaking of Oakland, Zombie is predicting major rioting in the wake of the coming Not Guilty verdicts in the Oscar Grant shooting trial. As there has already been major rioting in the wake of the shooting, this is not a Kreskin-like prediction, but if your vacation plans include the Fruitvale area of Oakland, you might want to plan accordingly: Forecast: Category 5 Riot Expected to Hit Oakland Soon

Nearly everyone in the Bay Area agrees that a major Oakland riot is brewing if the verdict in the trial of policeman Johannes Mehserle, accused of murdering BART passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day, 2009, comes back anything other than “GUILTY!” The problem for Oakland’s sense of security is that Mehserle is almost certainly notguilty of murder, and the jury is likely to give him a comparatively light sentence or even let him go completely.

The case has received wall-to-wall coverage in California for the last 18 months, but here’s a quick primer for those of you elsewhere in the country who may be unfamiliar with it:

In the early hours of January 1, 2009, a large group of young men got into a brawl on BART, the Bay Area’s subway system. Police were summoned and stopped the train at Oakland’s Fruitvale station, where a chaotic mass-arrest scene spilled onto the platform. As hundreds of passengers watched — many of whom were filming the proceedings with their cell-phone video cameras — several harassed BART police officers tried to subdue and then arrest dozens of brawlers. In the midst of the melee, one of the cops (Johannes Mehserle) pulled out a pistol and shot one of the men being arrested (Oscar Grant), killing him.

Sounds bad, right? Not so fast. As revealed in some of the videos taken of the incident, Mehserle was absolutely flabbergasted to see a gun when he looked down at his hand, because he had been instead reaching for his taser, which is also gun-shaped and kept in a belt-level holster. As several witnesses, including a weeping Mehserle himself, testified at the trial, the shooting was entirely accidental, and Mehserle was instead trying to tase Grant, whom he felt was out of control and resisting arrest.

This is as much a reason why I am not liberal as anything else. Can we all agree that rioting in the streets over a verdict you don't like is not the way to go? Then there's the inevitable "martyrdom" of Oscar Grant whom, we are told ad nauseum, was "going to college" and "turning his life around"... and was also part of a drunken scene at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year's Eve; the place you go to look for trouble, not avoid it. Also, Grant was clearly resisting arrest, which we should all know by now is not a wise career move.

Mostly, though, we have an anti-government mob whipped into a frenzy by shadowy "organizers" acting out yet another hate-filled racial drama. Hey, sounds like a Tea Party's breaking out!

Look, Mehserle killed a man, probably because he thought his gun was a taser. That would probably get you a few years for negligent homicide. But, murder? Only if you are a liberal.

Mansion On The Hill: Jerry Brown's $2M Home

You have to love this: Jerry Brown - that would be the self-described self-abnegating ascetic who was educated by Jesuits (big deal, so was Bill Clinton) - lives in a $2 million mansion in the Oakland Hills. Brown Says $1.8 Million Home Is Part of His Frugality Message

Jerry Brown defended his ownership of a $1.8 million, five-story home with sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, saying Tuesday it does not undermine his gubernatorial campaign's message of frugality.

Instead, he says the house is consistent with his philosophy.

"Were we getting a no-down payment loan and buying a house that you can't afford, that would be a reflection on how the candidate spends money," he said Tuesday in response to a reporter's question.

"But when a couple buy their dream house with their life savings, I think that's the American dream and I'm very proud that I can do that," Brown said.

Last week, The Associated Press reported the Democratic candidate rarely mentions the home in the Oakland Hills while he is on the campaign trail touting a message of thriftiness.

Now, this may be a little unfair. Meg Whitman probably has fully furnished homes she's never visited that cost more than Brown's manse. But, Brown comes straight out of a political circle that thinks nothing of declaring when it is that a person has made enough money. We don't know what that point is, but I guess now we know you've made enough if you can buy a biggish house in the Oakland Hills. I patiently await the dramatic revelation of the type of car Brown drives.

BTW, kudos to Brown for one thing: there are very few among the state's progressive elite who would actively choose to live in Oakland, even in the relatively glamorous Oakland Hills. Oakland is the most left-wing major city in the state, and is run exactly the way Greens and Progressives demand that government be run everywhere, so credit Brown for putting his money where his mouth is (his property taxes are undoubtedly paying for a lot of "services"). Then again, Brown has to have noticed that Oakland is also the worst run major city in the state, precisely because it is a progressive's paradise. You'd think he's get a clue, but that's the thing about liberals; they are uneducable.

Quick Links

Have to get out the door a little early today, so here are some links to ponder:

Inspired by Gen. Petraeus' fainting spell last week, The Civil War bookshelf looks at the ages of the generals who fought the Civil War versus those fighting the Iraq/Afghan War. All of those guys we think of "old" during The War Between the States were actually much younger than the current crop.

Ann Althouse is live-blogging the Kagen hearings. Last time I checked, the polls showed a plurality of Americans opposed her nomination, although the pollster did not see fit to find out why that might be. The GOP could probably - but won't - make something of this.

Ampontan has a long-ish post about the flailings of the Japanese Left. They finally grasped the reins of power, only to find that there's no money left.

The NY Post has the goods on the Red Beauty who was at the center of the Russian spy ring. Hers was a dangerous embrace.

Dr. Helen chastises a media "feminist" who haughtily claims that it is within feminist dogma to marry a meal ticket. I've found many of Today's Bold New Women to be quite traditional in the sense that they can rationalize anything.

Via Gateway Pundit, Scott Brown is signing on to oppose the financial (non) reform bill, on which he previously voted "Aye." Between this and the loss of Byrd, we may get out of this yet.

And Denninger notes that Russ Feingold has come out against financial (non) reform too. Feingold's a good guy. If there was a burning building filled with liberals and I could only save one, it would definitely be Feingold.

Houston's Clear Thinkers looks at the prospects for a BP bankruptcy. BP is actually still in a strong financial position, given its cash flow and assets. But a BK would streamline the claims process by sending it through a central location - the Bankruptcy Court - rather than proceeding piecemeal through various state courts. Too bad the negative PR would kill BP.

Tom Maguire notes The Times accidentally published a piece from a prominent physicist - and (all hail) a Nobel Prize winner! - who says forget about a top down approach to changing America's energy generating. You should convert as much as you can to natural gas - he suggests cars and electricity generation - and then use incentives to reform industry. Good stuff, but sadly American Greens don't care about making America's energy usage more efficient. They just want a lot less of it.

Verum Serum bought its first gun (or "firearm") the other day. Hey, you've got that right!

And, The Times notes that Robert Byrd's passing has complicated efforts to pass financial (non) reform since he was expected to provide the crucial 60th vote. There's so much wrong going on here it's hard to know where to start. First, the persistence of the "doddering old Senator slowly dying in office" as a stock character in American politics simply has no place in the modern age. It would have been so much easier if Byrd had simply left office - and not run for re-election two (!) years ago - and let someone get in their without disrupting the nation's business. Second, we are facing the prospect of yet another appointed Senator (there are 5 by last count, plus the court appointed Bagevich and Franken) providing the crucial vote on a 2,000 page bill. Representative this ain't.

Have a nice day!

Mother, You Had Me, But I Never Had You: Mothers in Combat

The NY Times is kicking off a year-long series of articles following a battalion from the 10th Mountain Division that will be spending a year in Afghanistan. The first article is about the deployment and the "wrenching" effects it will have on the soldiers' personal lives. Future "wrenching" problems: a hostile welcome from the locals, dealing with troubles at home while you're thousands of miles away, the death of a beloved NCO, etc. Honestly, what do the hermans at the Times expect?

The details of the deployment are suitably melancholy: the young kid packing his gear while listening to Ludacris, the captain savoring a last peaceful cup of coffee, the tearful father holding his 6-month old son. All of the last lingering moments of people caught up in something much bigger than they are (no, I don't mean a front page story in the NY Times). But, there was one thing that set me off: A Year At War

Sgt. Tamara Sullivan pulled out her cellphone charger and braced for a night of tears. She called her children in North Carolina, ages 3 and 1, and told them she would soon be going to work in a place called Afghanistan. For a year. She reminded her husband to send her their artwork. She cried, hung up, called him back and cried some more.

“I asked for him to mail me those pictures, those little sloppy ones,” she said. “I want to see what my children’s hands touched, because I won’t be able to touch them.”

I've actually written on the topic of sending mothers into combat before. It is unspeakably cruel and does absolutely nothing to enhance America's national security. I mean, what is Sgt. Sullivan's husband doing? It had better be lying in a bed with two broken legs because I can't think of anything more emasculating than sending your wife into combat while you stay home like a Mr. Mom.

My recollection is that, when people were arguing in favor of women in the armed forces, Phyllis Schlafley-types made a big stink about the possibility of young mothers being sent into combat. Oh, No! came the response. Women will only be in support units behind the lines and far away from harm. That made sense when you imagine wars as being like the Civil War and WW2, where the support units were often (but not always) far from the front lines. But what about now, when the whole of Afghanistan - and before that, Iraq - is a war zone? (don't forget Lori Piestewa, who was with Jessica Lynch at the battle of Nasiriyah, was killed in action, and left behind a young son).

The fact is that the US military is sending women, including mothers, into combat. At the very least, they are being separated from their children for a year - and often there isn't a Mr. Mom in the picture to take care of the kids. At the worst, these mothers can and do become casualties. And this helps, how? I know what people will say: these women knew what they were getting into when they signed up and, anyway, the PC military doesn't want to be seen as discriminating on gender. Again, this helps, how?

I am agnostic on the issue of "women in the military," especially as (1) it works well in the Israels Defense Force, without compromising Israeli pulchritude and (2) it's too well established. However, I think sending the mothers of young children into combat is too much. I don't know how this works in the IDF, but it seems to me that a woman becoming pregnant while in uniform, or presenting herself to a recruiter with babes in tow, is grounds for a state-side desk job, at the very least. But, sending a young mother into a combat zone strikes me as unspeakably and unnecessarily cruel.

Blows Against Empire: A Sixties Obituary

Here's a reminder that not everybody emerged from the "idealistic" Sixties with his ideals and dignity intact. Dwight Armstrong was a college kid in Wisconsin who bombed a campus building, killed some poor researcher (who was anti-war, naturally), and spent 7 years on the run. Armstrong has now died. Are we having fun, yet? Dwight Armstrong Dies At 58
Dwight Armstrong, one of four young men who in 1970 bombed a building on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, killing one person and injuring several others — a political protest that, gone violently wrong, endures in the national memory as an act of domestic terrorism — died on June 20 in Madison. He was 58.

The cause was lung cancer, said Susan Lampert Smith, a spokeswoman for the University of Wisconsin Hospital, where he died.

The bombing took place on Aug. 24, 1970, during a time of intense agitation against the Vietnam War. At 3:42 a.m., an explosion tore through Sterling Hall, a building that housed both the university physics department and the ArmyMathematics Research Center. The center, which operated under a contract with the United States Army, had been the target of many nonviolent protests since it opened in the 1950s.

Though the bombers said afterward that they had not intended to hurt anyone, the explosion killed Robert Fassnacht, a physics researcher who was working late. Mr. Fassnacht, 33, a father of three, was, his family said afterward, against the war.

On Sept. 2, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began a nationwide hunt for four men charged with the bombing: Dwight Armstrong, who had turned 19 five days after the explosion; his brother, Karleton, 22; David S. Fine, 18; and Leo F. Burt, 22.

Placed on the bureau’s most-wanted list, the four lived separate, fugitive lives, in some cases for years. Of the three who were eventually apprehended, Dwight Armstrong remained underground the longest, for nearly seven years. Mr. Armstrong, who had driven the getaway car after the bombing, was arrested in Toronto in April 1977.

That May, he pleaded no contest to a state charge of second-degree murder and guilty to federal charges including conspiracy. In June, in a plea agreement, he was sentenced to seven years on the state charges and seven on the federal, to be served concurrently. He was paroled in 1980.

Unlike a lot of Sixties left-overs, Armstrong was under no illusions about his misspent youth or the long-term effects it had on the rest of his life:

In 1987, he was arrested in Indiana on charges of helping operate a methamphetamine lab there. Sentenced to 10 years, he was released in 1991. Afterward, he returned to Madison, where he drove a cab and helped take care of his mother.

“My life,” Dwight Armstrong told The Capital Times, a Madison newspaper, in 1992, “has not been something to write home about.”

For every Tom Hayden or Bill Ayers who came out of The Sixties with tenure and backstage passes to the CSN&Y reunion concert, there were dozens of Dwight Armstrongs; people who blew their minds on drugs, bad music, and revolutionary ideology. Armstrong was a troubled soul who probably wouldn't have amounted to much anyway, but the Baby Boomer culture of his day gave him a Cause to fight and kill for. This is the same culture that is endlessly celebrated in PBS documentaries and Woodstock at 40 retrospectives which the rest of us have to suffer through, all so the New Left can tell us why they were right and the rest of us were/are wrong.

The funny thing - and I love little historic ironies like this - is that the New Left was and is a rigidly hierarchical movement despite its noisy professions to be fighting for equal rights. Look at a guy like Bill Ayers, a rich kid who was a movement leader with all of the traditional trappings of power, including sex with all of the hot babes in the room, and the power to tell his followers to start building bombs and blow people up. He was able to emerge legally and physically unscathed while many of his "comrades" were killed or sent to prison. Then look at Armstrong, a foot soldier who did what people like Ayers told him to do - and ruined his life. Somehow, I doubt Armstrong was the sort of guy that all of those hippie girls would have gotten tingly over; but he was goaded to perform acts of violence in order to prove himself worthy of the Cause, whatever that was. A sad story all around, and one that you are not likely to hear.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: The Meaning of Wiegel

I wasn't going to write about the David Weigel kerfuffle as (1) I never read/saw his work and (2) I don't live within the DC media fishbowl. But the Post's ombudsman said something that really set me off: Blogger Loses Job, Post Loses Standing Among Consrvatives
Post blogger Dave Weigel, who wrote about the conservative movement, resigned amid controversy today following disclosure of disparaging e-mails he’d written about some of the very people he was hired to cover.

Weigel bears responsibility for sarcastic and scornful comments he made in e-mails leaked from a supposedly private listserv called “Journolist,” started in 2007 by fellow Post blogger and friend Ezra Klein. Weigel’s e-mails showed strikingly poor judgment and
revealed a bias that only underscored existing complaints from conservatives that he couldn’t impartially cover them. (emph. added-P)
Honestly, I could care less about media "impartiality." We all know that such impartiality does not exist. I would argue that the human psyche is constructed in such a manner as to make impartiality impossible, especially when politics is involved. (sure, you can "impartially" report the score of a ball game, or the final numbers on Wall Street. But start trying to describe how you got there and all impartiality bets are off). Claims to the contrary are simply part of a pose that allows left-liberals in the media to cover the news in a way that never fails to advantage one side (guess which one) over the other. And, spare me the "Post has lost conservatives" line. The Post is a great paper, but it has been a part of the liberal media establishment at least since the days when Ben Bradlee was buddying up to JFK. The Post lost conservatives decades ago.

Rather than impartiality, I would ask that the Post and virtually every other outlet in the MSM grant something to conservatives that has never been tried in the modern era: respect. That doesn't mean conservatives should be treated with kid gloves, or be given the sort of fawning "he's so scary-smart and sophisticated" coverage accorded to the likes of Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards, The One, etc. But it would be nice to see conservatives treated with the same courtesy and respect which media outlets extend to, say, the Prime Minister of Canada. Instead, we have the "impartial" Dave Weigel saying he wants Matt Drudge to "set himself on fire;" calling GOP congressmen "ratf***ers;" making the usual droll jokes about Dick Cheney's health; and joining in a media-message coordination session to figure out how to blunt the impact of Scott Brown's victorious Senate race. That's disrespectful more than anything else*.

Democrats and the MSM hate to admit this, but there are tens of millions of people out there who are - to one degree or another - conservative. We can't all be uneducated Klansmen, but that is the tone of much of the media's coverage of conservative affairs. Rush Limbaugh has an estimated audience of 20 million a day, yet he is dismissed as a blow-hard with an audience full of idiots. Glenn Beck has used his radio program as a sort of Oprah's Book Club for conservative lit, as well as covering Obama Administration figures who were forced to resign in the wake of Beck's interest; yet the media only wants to write about his (cue scary music) "links" to the John Birch Society. What about Barack Obama's links to ACORN? I could go on all day, but you get the idea.

Impartiality is impossible. But, respect should be second nature for anyone wanting to report on the conservative movement - or anything else - in good faith. Typically for our times, we have too much of one and not enough of the other.

*and more than a little prissy. My gay-dar was going crazy while reading Wiegel's vituperations.

The Politician: A Book Review

By Andrew Young

I read The Politician so you don't have to. I hope you appreciate it.

This is the amazing story of the rise and fall of John Edwards from someone who was with him at virtually every step on the way up and then on the way down. You may have heard that Edwards had an affair with a blowzy blond, got her pregnant and then spent the 2008 presidential campaign hiding her from the press (most of which happily looked the other way). That's a big part of this book, but only in the second half. There's also plenty of information about Edwards' meteoric rise to power (his Senate run was his first campaign), his lightning-in-a-bottle 2004 presidential campaign, and subsequent 2004 vice presidential run. There's also plenty of info about the Edwards' genuine family tragedy, the death of one of their kids, which the Edwards never really recovered from, and which inspired his political career.

Of course, the real action starts when Rielle Hunter hits the scene about half way through the book. If Edwards had simply had a one-night stand with her, I'm sure she would remain obscure and Edwards may have become Attorney General. But, Edwards actively pursued the relationship and - at least as it appears through Young's eyes - had a real love affair with Hunter. It wasn't even that big a secret. One of the most amazing moments the book comes when Edwards brings Hunter back to his house (his wife was on a book tour) where she spent the night, hung out with two of Edwards' kids(!), hung out with some of Edwards' friends, and (apparently)had hot sexxx in Edwards' marital bed. There's also a dramatic moment (also early in their relationship) when Rielle and Elizabeth run into each other at a fund raiser. I actually gasped when this happened.

Some might say Edwards was reckless. I say he just didn't give a hoot. His relationship with Hunter began after his wife's cancer diagnosis. While many people might be put off by this, the fact is that there are plenty of middle aged men out there who check out of their marriage vows after their wife receives cancer (or any terminal disease) diagnosis. What Edwards did was unique in the history of recent political sex scandals, but is not unique in the war between the sexes. That's not to excuse his behavior - and getting his girlfriend pregnant was monumentally stupid - only to say that there are a lot of people who have followed this path.

In addition to chronicling the Rielle-Edwards relationship, Young also gives us a glance into high level Democratic politics. This is actually the most interesting part of the book precisely because it is so inadvertent. Young, through Edwards, is able to sit in the room with high rolling Democratic donors (like Hootie and the Blowfish!) whom guys like Edwards tap to fund their careers. The vast wealth Edwards is exposed to should put the lie to the notion that Dems are some sort of Party of the Common Man. In fact, they are the party of what even Edwards calls the "really rich." (before meeting a donor, Edwards would ask "Are they rich like me, or really rich?")

For a political book, there is surprisingly little politics. Oh, there's plenty of talk about strategy and tactics, but there's little about policy. Young, for his part, is politically shallow; he's one of those guys who thinks we need universal health care because his daughter had to wait a couple hours for a procedure. He also whines about George Bush's tax cuts for "millionaires," which "squandered the surplus." Young had obviously been watching too much Crossfire. There's a lot of talk about Edwards' "two Americas" speech, but we never know what he plans to do once in office. He and Young spend a lot of time on the road together, but there is a notable lack of spitballing solutions to the problems that Edwards claims to see in American society.

The most bizarre part of the book is, of course, the months that Young and his family spent on the lam with the pregnant Rielle. They stayed in a revolving series of luxury resorts before landing in Santa Barbara where little Quinn (b/c she's Edwards' fifth child. What, you thought Rielle was stupid?) was born. The trip was bankrolled by Edwards' lawyer buddies who were funneling money from "Bunny" Mellon, a billionaire dowager who gave Edwards six million dollars for his campaign.

As Mellon was 95 years old and much of this money ended up with Rielle, I think you could make a very good case for fraud and elder abuse against Edwards and his cohorts, not to mention campaign finance violations. I mean, how is it OK that someone gives John Edwards six million dollars for his presidential run, which he uses to bankroll his mistress, while Sarah Palin is saving receipts from Neiman Marcus (and still gets accused of "stealing" from the GOP campaign)? Oh, wait, I forgot. Edwards is a Democrat and Palin's a Republican. 'Nuff said.

The portrait of Edwards that emerges is, of course, unflattering. But, the people who should really be embarrassed are all of those left-liberals who bought his act and thought he was some kind of noble progressive. Edwards had four things going for him: he was rich; he was good looking; he had a great (for a liberal) stump speech; and he was from the South. That's it. Before he entered the Senate he had no political career to speak of. Four years later he was on the 2004 presidential ticket. If it seemed too good to be true, it probably was; but everyone wanted to believe that he was the latest good looking liberal politician to come out of nowhere and win the presidency. There is no sign whatsoever in any part of this book as to what kind of president he would have been (besides a philandering one). All of those sophisticated leftists who donated money to Edwards, volunteered for him, - and then convinced themselves that these crazy stories about a pregnant mistress hiding out in Santa Barbara were not true - should be doubly embarrassed, but they were able to drown their sorrows in Barack Obama, so it's all good.

Edwards and his few remaining supporters have declared this book to be trash. It is in that it describes a lot of trashy behavior by everyone in the Edwards camp, including Young and St. Elizabeth. But, it's also a fascinating portrait of how someone can rise in American politics, and how quickly they can fall.

Back on the Block: A News Round-Up

Boy, take a couple days off from blogging and suddenly Special Forces generals, and their staff, are giving expletive-laden interviews to Rolling Stone as if they were Billy Joel's road crew! If you rely solely on Free Will for your news updates, I apologize. Herewith, a quick round-up of the last couple days' worth of blog-worthy material that I couldn't tackle:

1.) might have heard that Afghan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal let some Rolling Stone reporter follow him and his staff around, listening to them curse out their civilian bosses. Gosh, usually in the movies - and during Republican Administrations - that's what the hero does! I guess, McChrystal didn't get the message, tho' you'd think he would. He apparently is a political liberal who voted for Obama and can't even countenance the dread Fox News. If McChrystal really is a liberal, what did he think was going to happen when Obama took office? The Democrat Party's been the anti-war party for decades, and is filled with deep thinkers like Joe Biden who think nothing of dividing countries into three parts and declaring that US war efforts are "lost."

BTW 1: supposedly the dissension between the military and civilians in Afghanistan was an "open secret" in DC. By open secret, we mean: all of the big league DC-based journalists knew all about it, but didn't want to write about it for fear of making The One look bad. (hmmmm....sounds familiar). That Rolling Stone got a scoop of this quality should be a wake-up call for the rest of the MSM.

BTW 2: I don't care either way whether McChrystal should have been fired, but I do know this. We haven't seen Obama looking this serious and engaged in a while. Regardless of what you think of McChrystal's choice of embeds, the views expressed in the article were a sign of an incipient breakdown in military-civilian (at least Democratic civilian...) relations. I hope this snaps Obama out of his Afghan funk.

2.) We're so used to seeing progressive initiatives get approved by the courts, and watching conservative ones declared unconstitutional for failing to comport with the Living Constitution, that it was a pleasant surprise to see a federal judge lift the ban on deepwater oil drilling. People can bitch all they want about the judge being a (hiss!) Reagan appointee who owns (hisssss!) stock in oil companies. That doesn't make the ruling any less correct.

3.) There was a crazy rumor going around that Obama was planning to grant a blanket amnesty to every illegal alien in the US. I'm sure he would do it if he thought he could get away with it, but the backlash would overwhelm him.

4.) Four Christians passing out leaflets outside a fairgrounds in Dearborn, MI were arrested for disturbing the peace...for passing out Bibles to Muslims. No offence, but, if Muslims need a police state so they can feel more righteous about their religion, that doesn't make me think theirs is the One True Faith.

5.) You know what was the last thing Tipper said to Al before they sent out that "We're getting divorced" email? Apres Moi, Le Deluge. How else to explain the sudden interest in a four year old sexual assault complaint from a middle aged (ew!) massage therapist? Apparently, The Oregonian had the story in hand a couple years ago, but nobly stayed their hand. I'll bet Kobe Bryant and the Duke Lacrosse team wish they had received the same courtesy.

6.) SF Mayor Gavin Newsom is getting behind a local initiative that would go a long way towards reducing the Croesus-like pay scale of the City's transit workers. Watch out for Newsom. Everyone thinks he's a standard-issue SF progressive, but he has a real knack for finding liberal Sacred Cows to run against. Sure, he's a liberal goof, but he's liberal goof who isn't quite as doctrinaire as people might like to think.

7.) The gold standard for lousy TV talk shows have long been The Chevy Chase Show and the
The Magic Hour, but CNN may be preparing to broadcast a new king of crap. I give you...The Elliot Spitzer/Kathleen Parker Hour! No, this is not a joke. It's hard to know what's worse: that CNN's journalistic standards now include a blow-hard lefty who abused his prosecutorial discretion as NY AG, was an ineffective governor of NY (and directly precipitating that state's current crisis state), and resigned his office after getting caught with a call girl, complete with the "anguished-wife" press conference...or that Kathleen Parker is considered "conservative." Note to media types - just because someone was born in the south and isn't a liberal does not mean she is a conservative.

8.) And, congratulations to Nikki Haley who looks like she will be the next governor of South Carolina, a state that is in desperate need of a political house cleaning, if not a long hot bath. I think when people like Mitch Daniels and (ahem) me call for a truce in the culture wars on the GOP side, this is what they are talking about.

Haley's clearly not a RINO squish, but the campaign against her was the sort of social conservative button pushing effort that gives uptight Bible thumpers a bad name. It had everything: adultery, racism, plus they questioned her religion. None of it was true, and even if it was, who gives a good goddam? Too many Republicans, especially in the South, have gotten too used to an electoral formula that involved putting on a prissy face, denouncing your opponents as sinners...and then soaking up earmark money and campaign donations from their real supporters. We've had one too many GOP politicos talk a big game about family values and then (heh heh) fall on their sword. I don't literally believe that Haley (or Sarah Palin) can do a better job because they are women, but they certainly can't do any worse than the men who've been in charge for the last 15 years.

Workin' In A Coal Mine

Sorry for the light posting. I am moving into a new office. Regular posting will return Wednesday or Thursday.

Truce or Surrender: The GOP and Social Conservatives

Indiana governor and presidential prospect Mitch Daniels caused a stir - complete with broken crockery and multiple spit takes - when he suggested that the GOP should declare a truce in the culture war until we have resolved the survival issues confronting the US (those being the Little Depression and the War on Terror). The guys at Powerline took a look at the prospects of such a "truce:" Truce or Consequences

PAUL:Daniels is pitching the notion that we may need a truce in divisive culture war controversies in order to deal with "survival issues" such as terrorism and debt. But Michael Gerson argues that Daniels is being naïve here. He asks: "Just how would avoiding fights on unrelated social issues make Democratic legislators more likely to vote for broad budget cuts and drastic entitlement reforms?"

Clearly, avoiding such fights would not produce that result. But it might well enable Republicans to become and remain more popular with moderate voters. And this, in turn, might give Republicans the majorities necessary to implement budget cuts and entitlement reforms.

JOHN: his is an interesting political question, I think. Over the last couple of decades, countless media/political voices have urged Republicans to abandon social conservatism on political grounds, i.e., the need to appeal to upscale suburbanites. This has always struck me as odd, since the social issues have consistently represented a net gain for Republicans--which is why, I assume, liberal commentators are so anxious for Republicans to abandon them. So in the past, my view has always been that Republican and conservative politicians should keep the social issues as one leg of the proverbial three-legged stool.

The present moment, however, represents a departure. It may well be that a consensus exists in favor of reduced federal spending and economic power that dwarfs any plurality on the social issues. So should conservative candidates forget about abortion, gay marriage and so on? The answer depends, obviously, on the particular district in question.

SCOTT: The Republican Party was founded in opposition to "those twin relics of barbarism -- Polygamy, and Slavery." Emmer's response may or may not be good politics, but serious concern with what John refers to as "the social issues" is deeply embedded in the principles and the history of the Republican Party.

I think Scott's last point - that the GOP has always had a strong moral component - is a good one, as John's point that the only people really pushing for a lowered emphasis on social issues are liberals who hate being on the wrong end of cultural questions. And, it's hard to imagine the GOP going into an election without strong support from social conservatives. Would Democrats try to win an election without unions or the urban poor or illegal immigrants? Of course not.

The problem for fiscal conservatives like Daniels is that they are not comfortable discussing social issues. Does anyone really care what Mitch Daniels thinks of gay marriage? I don't. Most people simply don't want to have to worry about that stuff, and would just as soon not have the government involved in social issues at all (or, at least, as little as possible). But, too many prominent social conservatives are too happy to give ready ammunition to those who would say the GOP wants to pass meddling legislation rather than grant them their freedom to live as they choose.

Here's a quick look at a set of the most prominent political social cons from the last 10 years (talk radio guys and cultural conservatives are not really part of this group). Is there a word that comes to mind when you look at these guys?

Dr. James Dobson

Gary Bauer

Randall Terry

Pat Robertson

Ralph Reed

Can I hear a "Yuck!" from the congregation?

Now, this is not a call to denigrate these gentlemen. They've all done good work in support of their various causes. Dobson and Robertson, especially, have real fund-raising clout, have built impressive organizations and are (well, in Robertson's case "were") media-savvy operators. They paid for their microphones and, by gar they've used 'em.

But, you know what? Sometimes these fellows, and some of their cohort, have gone out of their way to court controvery, to point fingers, to declare that this or that group is the laltest cause of the decline and fall of civilization. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, except it can be a real turn off for the millions of people out there who, in addition to not wanting the government in their pocketbooks, would also like the government to stay out of their bedrooms. And, too many political social conservatives have given every indication of being a little too interested in what is going on behind closed doors.

Now, I know what people are going to say. The MSM unfairly portrays social cons as grim visaged Puritains. Yes, that's true and yes that's damn unfair, it a surprise? I hope not. So why play into the worst stereotypes available by cosntatntly pushing forward the same grumpy old men as your spokesmen? Why resort to frankly embarrassing statements such as parsing out which Telle-tubbie is gay?

I also know that the Left's endless reliance upon the courts to put across social change that would never be accepted without a court order is deeply unfair and a betrayal of constitutional government. But, why must we reduce every Supreme Court nomination and GOP presidential campaign to
Roe v Wade? We've had decades of GOP politicians dutifully learning the ins and outs of Roe, Casey, and Cathcart. To what end? Republicans have put so much intellectual and political energy into its social conservatism that everything else has been at least partially crowded out. And many GOP politicos have been needlessly hurt by the strict emphasis on social issues. Did a tortured soul like Larry Craig really have to go on the record with those gay marriage votes, which he had to have known would come back to bite him someday? Did the Northeastern fiscal conservatives who were blown out of office in 2006 really have to take so many hard votes just to satisfy social con voters who denigrated them as RINOs anyway?

Moreover, social conservatives have not exactly acted as helpful members of the GOP coalition. Look at what happened to George W Bush. Social conservatives never had a president who gave them so much of what they demanded. W was a real pro-lifer who always spoke out in favor of pro-life causes. He took the hard road and declined to allow federal funding for new stem cell lines, earning him the unfair sobriquet of being "anti-science." He used his faith-based initiatives to bring religious non-profits into the government grant sphere. There was no stronger friend to Israel. There was no Republican president who appointed better judges and justices to all levels of the federal courts. No one took the role of comforter-in-chief more seriously. No president ever spoke more sincerely about his faith and the continued strength he drew from the Bible. And, I truly believe he was doing God's work when he led the doomed political effort to save Terry Schiaivo from the legal system that abetted her death.

And what happened?

Everyone threw a fit when he nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, something Obama's allies would never do against the mediocre Sotomayor or Kagen. Worse, when W tried to move forward on agenda items important to fiscal conservatives - I'm thinking of FreddieMac/FannieMae reform, Social Security reform, vetoing S-Chip - W took a lot of heat and received absolutely no help from the social conservatives to whom he had offered so much. If you are a Bushie like Daniels, is it any wonder if you look at social conservatives and see an interest group that demands total obeisance without offering support to their allies when their policies are up for a vote?

The Anchoress has often asked her readers "how do you receive a good?" The question is a good one, and more difficult to answer than many would like to think. Bush gave social conservatives a lot, and they repaid him with an increased stridency that - along with the out-of-control spending by many in the GOP caucus - helped end the majorities in the House and Senate. Remember, it was the fiscal conservatives who were hurt most in 2006 and 2008, but it is fiscal conservatism that has brought people out to Tea Parties and reinvigorated the GOP, which was flailing in the early months of Hope&Change.

The GOP is ultimately a party of limited government. That means not just limited in financial scope, but also limited in social scope as well. Too many social conservative leaders have gotten too used to the idea of approaching each election with a to-do list and then bemoaning any failure to check off all of their little boxes. How the hell does it help the party or the country when we are facing, once again, the question of whether or not Mitt Romney's Mormonism will prevent him from getting out of the primaries? Why do we need to know what Mitch Daniels - a guy who has succeeded in governance by doing the exact opposite of what the Democrats have done, maybe there's a lesson there? - thinks of abortion? Why don't we simply commit to reaffirming the Establishment Clause and promise to get government
out of the social issue business? I don't know, seems a lot simpler than what we have now.

Maybe we don't need a truce, but we certainly need a break from Big Social Conservatism as much as we need a break from Big Government.

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