Obama sells out American values and interests in Russia

I applaud House Speaker John Boehner for his letter to President Barack Obama on Russia. I also applaud him for holding fire on Obama while he was abroad at an important security summit. It much more clearly articulated Obama’s shocking behavior with respect to Russia than any other criticism to date:

The Russian government has not lived up to its obligations to support the world community in reining in the rogue nations of Iran, Syria, and North Korea.  On the contrary, Russia has at times offered support for these dangerous regimes.  And it is increasingly evident that Russia is intent on expanding its boundaries and power through hostile acts – including invading a neighboring American ally.

But there’s a broader point here. When Obama told Medvedev to be patient until after the election, he was abandoning our Ambassador and Obama’s friend, our national security and that of our allies, human rights in Syria, and our respect for democratic values. Indeed, he was abandoning his own dignity and that of our country.

What do I mean?

A month ago, two things happened with respect to Russia that should force us to fundamentally reevaluate our relationship with the country. Just a month ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Russia “despicable” for defending the butcher of civilians in Syria at the UN Security Council. And the state run media compared our ambassador, Obama’s long-time ally, to a pedophile.

This ambassador isn’t just some diplomat. McFaul was an Obama advisor during his campaign and a member of the National Security Council. This was a personal insult to our Ambassador, the President of the United States, and the United States itself. Instead of defending his own friend and Ambassador, Obama goes supine and offers Russia concessions.

In fact Putin’s whole election campaign was a nationalist attack on the United States. The attack on McFaul was part of a strategy. So after months of attacking the United States and our ambassador, to win an election, Obama offers concessions.

These weren’t just any elections. These are to a government whose end is in sight after astounding levels of fraud. In the December elections, Putin’s party, United Russia engaged in “ frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including several serious indications of ballot-box stuffing,” according to the OSCE. Hundreds of thousands of protesters entered the streets to object to the debasement of democracy. About Putin’s own election, the OSCE said, “There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.”

Obama’s offer of “flexibility” was made in spite of personal insults,  insults to our country, and insults to our values. Hopefully Americans will realize the consequences of this foreign policy that takes neither ourselves nor our allies seriously.

Absentee ballots and campaign shakedowns in Miami

So, I confess, I had to look up who Luther Campbell was, aside from a guy who came in fourth in a race for county mayor in Miami-Dade County. He was a somewhat high-profile music promoter, fronting for groups like 2 Live Crew. But it is his electoral experience, as described in his column in the Miami New Times, that draws our attention today. He describes some of the more ugly experiences that someone like him has when trying to put together a campaign in Miami and the strange offers he gets:

The only way to get that many absentee ballots is by hiring brokers who charge candidates thousands of dollars to deliver bundles to the county elections department. The brokers are the ones responsible for dead people voting in the ’80s and ’90s. Now they go around strong-arming the elderly residents at assisted living facilities or fooling them with free breakfast at the local IHOP. The brokers also pay off preachers so they can set up shop inside houses of worship to sign up absentee voters.

I saw it firsthand when I ran in the recent county mayoral race. One guy, who I won’t name, guaranteed he could deliver thousands of absentee ballots in North Miami and North Miami Beach for $3,000. I took a pass. It showed on Election Day. I had more early and Election Day ballots than absentee votes.

Sure would be neat if he said more about this. We know that this problem isn’t necessarily unique to south Florida, as there were a bunch of arrests in more rural north Florida earlier this month. One wonders if these are the sorts of “manufacturing ballots” stories that former Rep. Artur Davis was talking about in neighboring Alabama.

Rhode Island and Voter ID

Today, the New York Times has an editorial attacking so-called voter ID bills. According to Democratic and New York Times (but I repeat myself) mythmaking, voter ID is a racist Republican scheme to stop minorities and Democrats from voting:

Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters.

When I read this piece, I thought I might have missed a discussion of Rhode Island, which might be called an inconvenient truth for the Democratic conspiracy theorists. Let me remind you what happened in Rhode Island. As the Providence Journal noted when the bill passed:

This year, voter-ID legislation was backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including two prominent black lawmakers: House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Sen. Harold M. Metts. Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to a Rhode Island Senate seat and the first Dominican-American elected to a state senate seat in the country, also supported it. Fox, Metts and Pichardo are Providence Democrats.

So the Democrat, African-American Speaker of the Rhode Island House, the leading African-American state Senator, and the first Dominican elected state Senator in the country all supported the bill. They are all Democrats.

I wonder what the New York Times explanation of why these Democrats and minority leaders supported a voter ID bill. And I wonder why the Grey Lady didn’t mention this dreaded provision passing in a deep, deep blue state like Rhode Island… Maybe it is just an inconvenient truth?

A conservative transformation in Canada

On Monday, the Conservative Party of Canada took its first majority in its history. This was a victory on several levels. First, after a disastrous 1993 election in which the Progressive Conservative party was reduced to two seats after its base split off in the west into the Reform Party and rise of the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec. Now a reconstituted Conservative Party (note the absence of the word “progressive”) with a different geographic base and electoral logic is dominant. Second, the regionalism that marked that 1993, has been replaced by what could come to be a two party system. The “natural governing”, center-left Liberal Party has been reduced to little more than 10% of Parliament. The Bloc Quebecois Quebec nationalist party has been reduced to 4 seats, the minimum necessary to be recognized as a party. And now, for the first time in Canadian history, the New Democratic Party, a leftist social democratic party will be the Opposition party.

There are several lessons for American conservatives.

The first is something that I have been banging away at for a while. The left has lost the political debate throughout the industrial world. Austerity has won in Europe. Economic stability has won in Canada. In this election, the NDP called for raising the corporate tax rate to 19% from 15%, while the “centrist” Liberals only wanted to raise it to 18%. (recall that it is 35% in the US) The gains on the left in this election were about consolidating the vote of the left into more radical positions. The gains on the right were about winning an ideological and polarizing argument in the eyes of mainstream voters. Once again, in another industrial country, in a political battle of ideas, the right won decisively.

Second, polarization and ideological clarity can be a good thing, and we should welcome it. As it became clear that the NDP was going to be the Opposition party in Canada, things became simpler for the Conservatives, and their numbers started to grow. Prime Minister Stephen Harper could argue that there was a clear ideological choice. The NDP wanted to raise taxes and increase spending. And the Conservatives wanted smaller government and restraint. The voters of Canada went with smaller government and restraint. People on the right of the Liberal party fled to Conservatives fled to stop the possibility of a left-wing government.

Third, and this will be harder for many American conservatives: immigrants. The conservatives made an unprecedented effort to reach out to “ethnic” voters. Go watch the ads. Each one ends with “finally vote your values.” And they worked. The Conservatives won 60% of the Chinese vote. They won 7 of the 10 targeted “ethnic” ridings. This message of “finally vote your values” was a critical message in getting Indo-Canadian voters, Chinese voters, Italian voters, etc. It was also an important message for driving turnout among more religious voters in places like rural Ontario, where my family is from. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is getting a tremendous amount of credit for this success as a critical component to the overall victory.

At this point, the key question will be how and when the Bloc and the Liberals disappear and how the Conservatives will benefit from that. One of the things that Harper campaigned on was ending public funding for elections. It is likely that both the Liberal Party and the Bloc disappear into bankruptcy: political, ideological, and, indeed, financial. In this election, the Conservatives got approximately 40% of the vote, the NDP got approximately 30%, the Liberals 20%, with minor parties getting the rest. Strategically, Conservatives have four years to turn that 40% to 50% by a variety of mechanisms.

Harper himself is acutely aware of that. Among his election night statements, was one that jumped out at me, “”And we accept that we have a lot more work to do to gain the true confidence of Quebecers. And we’re dedicated to doing that.” This is a plodding but ultimately effective strategy to building a national coalition on ideological terms.

Here, Canadians may be learning a lesson from the United States. On April 18th, the Sun News Network launched. Sun News Network claims to be a populist, small-c conservative media outlet, owned by the Quebec-based media company Quebecor which has a populist separatist/nationalist stance in Quebec. It has been compared to Fox, the New York Post, etc. Sun News can give some cultural coherence to Canadian little-c conservatism, helping to overcome significant regional and ethnic differences. This can help bring Conservatives, so-called Blue Liberals (Liberals on the right end of their party), and Quebec nationalists into a more coherent cultural and narrative alignment. We should never forget that culture, narratives, and ideology are strongly related.

I urge American conservatives to watch Canada over the next four years. Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada have much to teach us about building conservative majorities and consensus in a country that seems and sees itself as much more progressive than it really is.

Find the next Black Panthers video

Big Government and Election Journal have a great new resource for fighting voter fraud: a free iPhone app. From them:

iReportBrought to you by ElectionJournal.org, the website that broke the Black Panther intimidation story in 2008.  iReport is the first iPhone application dedicated to reporting voter fraud, intimidation and other election irregularities.

The app is available for free and allows you to join EJ’s nationwide network of citizens dedicated to raising public awareness of election fraud.  With iReport you can send information, along with photos and video, directly from your polling location with your iPhone.

The best way to stop fraud is expose it.  Download the app and join the team.

Available in the App Store as iReport2010

Democrats argue it is fine to ban book promotion

The “Young Guns” have a book. They also have a promotion tour and a video. Now, the Democrats could engage in a battle of ideas. But that’s not what they do. (are you surprised?)

Instead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee files a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that promoting the book violates election law. Really. By their interpretation, a book publisher cannot promote a book if it is political.

What is the mechanism? The publisher posts a  video by the authors about their book that contains a link to a website that takes political contributions. It is after all, a political manifesto.

Restating, Democrats use the power of the federal government to attempt to prohibit the political speech and promotion of speech by their political enemies. That’s the kind of thing that lead to the American Revolution. Tea Parties make perfect sense in this context.

Media gets Carly Fiorina wrong on national security and the economy

Over the past 72 hours, the online left has collectively ripped into Carly Fiorina  for an ad that shines a spotlight on Barbara Boxer’s assertion that “One of the very important national security issues we face, frankly, is climate change.” Naturally, the media has been carrying Boxer’s water in wildly distorting Fiorina’s point.

Ultimately, this election is going to be fought over questions about who can address the problem faced by our national economy (hint: taxes and debt bad) and who can address the real problems faced by Americans. That’s why it is important to get Fiorina’s point right on both national security and the economy.

Fiorina’s first point is that our country and California face very significant proximate challenges, like the economy, what does Barbara Boxer focus on? Climate change. But she has got nothing to say about the economy, other than more taxes and money for the public sector unions that are bankrupting her state. Right now, California’s unemployment rate stands in excess of 12 percent and has shown no signs of falling.  According to the US Department of Labor, 11 of the 14 metropolitan areas currently suffering from unemployment rates of at least 15% are located in California. 

Fiorina’s second point is that on actual national security issues, she is an embarassment. Her record:

Even if you grant that there are national security implications to climate change, and that’s not a point I really dispute, even Matt Yglesias called climate-change-as-security-threat a form of “threat inflation” that leads to “bad foreign policy decisions.” See above, for examples of “bad foreign policy decisions.”

Boehner and Read the Bill: A sign that Congressional Republicans are starting to get it and the media isn’t

I have argued for a while that Repubicans need to pick up the mantle of transparency. It is useful tactically and strategically. On the tactical level, the guys in leadership always play "hide the ball with what they are doing". This gives Republicans a morally secure high-ground to attack whatever the Democrats do. Strategically, it gives us an issue that can both rally our base and makes good sense to independents and many Democrats.

On Friday, House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement on transparency. The key passage:

It’s just common sense: Americans should be allowed to read the text of major bills before Congress votes on them.  Previous Congresses, including Republican ones, failed to live up to this standard.  But never before has the failure been as blatant as it has been in the past nine months under Speaker Pelosi.   Things have to change.

There are two key parts to this. First, he grabbed the policy issue and framed it in the adult and serious way "Americans" (not "Members of Congress", which seems like only a populist argument, although some in the media have grabbed the straw man to give the Democrats aircover) should know what Congress is doing so that we can hold them accountable.

The second part is, perhaps, more important. John Boehner has now explicitly rejected the way that he ran the House, said "we have learned", and established a new line in the sand. Furthermore, one of the reforms that he advocates, in this case, a waiting period before legislation can be acted on, actually may impact many of the wasteful spending concerns that actually helped drive him out of office. 

What is so fascinating is the rejection by Senate Democrats and the silence of lefty advocacy groups other than the Sunlight Foundation. In an effort to get a public copy of the healthcare bill before a vote, John Kerry said:

"This is fundamentally a delay tactic," the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate said. "I mean, let’s be honest about it. The legislative language, everybody knows, is relatively arcane, legalistic, and most people don’t read the legislative language."

That’s right. But people who are interested do. People who are experts or people being impacted do, or they hire people to.

And this gets to the final point. Where is the press? Huffington Post is being sent around by Demcorats, because they are giving cover to Democrats. But they aren’t really press. But where is the Fourth Estate demanding that they have the information to tell the American people what the debate is about.

Crickets.

You would think that John Boehner repudiating how Republicans ran the House would be worthy of news.

Crickets.

You would think that John Kerry giving cover to the Senate acting without even having legislation (I’m not talking about reading the bill here …) would be newsworthy.

Crickets outside of Fox and the Washington Times.

4.4
Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

Boehner and Read the Bill: A sign that Congressional Republicans are starting to get it and the media isn’t

I have argued for a while that Repubicans need to pick up the mantle of transparency. It is useful tactically and strategically. On the tactical level, the guys in leadership always play "hide the ball with what they are doing". This gives Republicans a morally secure high-ground to attack whatever the Democrats do. Strategically, it gives us an issue that can both rally our base and makes good sense to independents and many Democrats.

On Friday, House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement on transparency. The key passage:

It’s just common sense: Americans should be allowed to read the text of major bills before Congress votes on them.  Previous Congresses, including Republican ones, failed to live up to this standard.  But never before has the failure been as blatant as it has been in the past nine months under Speaker Pelosi.   Things have to change.

There are two key parts to this. First, he grabbed the policy issue and framed it in the adult and serious way "Americans" (not "Members of Congress", which seems like only a populist argument, although some in the media have grabbed the straw man to give the Democrats aircover) should know what Congress is doing so that we can hold them accountable.

The second part is, perhaps, more important. John Boehner has now explicitly rejected the way that he ran the House, said "we have learned", and established a new line in the sand. Furthermore, one of the reforms that he advocates, in this case, a waiting period before legislation can be acted on, actually may impact many of the wasteful spending concerns that actually helped drive him out of office. 

What is so fascinating is the rejection by Senate Democrats and the silence of lefty advocacy groups other than the Sunlight Foundation. In an effort to get a public copy of the healthcare bill before a vote, John Kerry said:

"This is fundamentally a delay tactic," the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate said. "I mean, let’s be honest about it. The legislative language, everybody knows, is relatively arcane, legalistic, and most people don’t read the legislative language."

That’s right. But people who are interested do. People who are experts or people being impacted do, or they hire people to.

And this gets to the final point. Where is the press? Huffington Post is being sent around by Demcorats, because they are giving cover to Democrats. But they aren’t really press. But where is the Fourth Estate demanding that they have the information to tell the American people what the debate is about.

Crickets.

You would think that John Boehner repudiating how Republicans ran the House would be worthy of news.

Crickets.

You would think that John Kerry giving cover to the Senate acting without even having legislation (I’m not talking about reading the bill here …) would be newsworthy.

Crickets outside of Fox and the Washington Times.

4.4
Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

Boehner and Read the Bill: A sign that Congressional Republicans are starting to get it and the media isn’t

I have argued for a while that Repubicans need to pick up the mantle of transparency. It is useful tactically and strategically. On the tactical level, the guys in leadership always play "hide the ball with what they are doing". This gives Republicans a morally secure high-ground to attack whatever the Democrats do. Strategically, it gives us an issue that can both rally our base and makes good sense to independents and many Democrats.

On Friday, House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement on transparency. The key passage:

It’s just common sense: Americans should be allowed to read the text of major bills before Congress votes on them.  Previous Congresses, including Republican ones, failed to live up to this standard.  But never before has the failure been as blatant as it has been in the past nine months under Speaker Pelosi.   Things have to change.

There are two key parts to this. First, he grabbed the policy issue and framed it in the adult and serious way "Americans" (not "Members of Congress", which seems like only a populist argument, although some in the media have grabbed the straw man to give the Democrats aircover) should know what Congress is doing so that we can hold them accountable.

The second part is, perhaps, more important. John Boehner has now explicitly rejected the way that he ran the House, said "we have learned", and established a new line in the sand. Furthermore, one of the reforms that he advocates, in this case, a waiting period before legislation can be acted on, actually may impact many of the wasteful spending concerns that actually helped drive him out of office. 

What is so fascinating is the rejection by Senate Democrats and the silence of lefty advocacy groups other than the Sunlight Foundation. In an effort to get a public copy of the healthcare bill before a vote, John Kerry said:

"This is fundamentally a delay tactic," the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate said. "I mean, let’s be honest about it. The legislative language, everybody knows, is relatively arcane, legalistic, and most people don’t read the legislative language."

That’s right. But people who are interested do. People who are experts or people being impacted do, or they hire people to.

And this gets to the final point. Where is the press? Huffington Post is being sent around by Demcorats, because they are giving cover to Democrats. But they aren’t really press. But where is the Fourth Estate demanding that they have the information to tell the American people what the debate is about.

Crickets.

You would think that John Boehner repudiating how Republicans ran the House would be worthy of news.

Crickets.

You would think that John Kerry giving cover to the Senate acting without even having legislation (I’m not talking about reading the bill here …) would be newsworthy.

Crickets outside of Fox and the Washington Times.

4.4
Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)