Restoring the Lost Constitution just got much easier.
This is an historic moment on our constitutional history. With the change of Senate rules today by a simple majority to [allow a simple majority to] close debate on judicial nominations, a Rubicon has been crossed. Restoring the Lost Constitution has now been made far more feasible, and will make the 2014 & 2016 of enormous importance to our constitutional future.
I’m always amused by the nuclear option debate because it is without a doubt the most spectacular display of Congressional hypocrisy, which is saying a lot. Because whenever the minority party is arguing, it says that this is a very important, indeed a majestic part of our constitution. And as soon as the minority become the majority, like Harry Reid and the Democrats and Obama, all of a sudden it’s terrible instrument of obstruction.
Look, as a matter of the means in which this was done, it was a rather lowdown way. This is a fundamental change of the structure of the rules of the Senate and done on strict party lines, which it should not be. The same way, incidentally, Obamacare, a major reform, on party lines. That should not be. But on the substance of the change, I think the Democrats have stumbled upon the truth as they do every decade or so. If you are not to know who is in power, I think it’s a better idea for the president to have the ability to nominate his nominees, judicial and executive, without having to get a supermajority.
And the other part of it, as a conservative, I am extremely happy that the Democrats are doing this. The prospects are very strong that the Democrats are going to lose the Senate next year and there is an excellent chance of losing the White House. And the Democrats will absolutely rue the day because they not only are going to allow a Republican majority—which will come one day anyway—to get its nominees through, but Chuck Grassley has said that when Republicans come into you power, they’re going to include Supreme Court nominees, and that will be a devastating blow to the liberals on the Court and to the liberals in the country. So I don’t think Democrats will remember this day with any joy in the near future.
NYC voted to go back to the 1970s, back to grafitti, squeegee men, and muggings. Dan Greenfield has some words of congratulation for NYC voters.
Do you miss the old New York City? Remember when subway trains were covered in graffiti, a news hour began with six shootings and everyone who lived in the city had been mugged at least once?
Remember when Times Square had more strip clubs than theaters and when you could afford an apartment in the village because it was a drug infested mess?
Remember when the city and everyone living in it were on the verge of bankruptcy and the only people who had money lived upstate or in a small cluster of Manhattan?
Remember when everything was grimy and had a layer of filth, when people moved to the city because they wanted to slum, when nothing worked and no one cared and the only difference between New York and Chicago was that it had taller buildings?
If you miss that classic New York, there’s good news because Bill de Blasio is bringing it back.
The muggers are coming back. The squeegee men are coming back. The crazy people randomly stabbing you on the subway, the gangs shooting each other over turf, the race rioters marching through neighborhoods and shouting, “Whose streets, our streets”—they’re all coming back.
Because the polls have spoken. And it’s De Blasio time now.
No more fascist cops hassling “innocent” people. Bill de Blasio won’t put up with any of that. De Blasio will put the cops in their place, inside a Dunkin Donuts and away from people. They’ll still get paid. They’re in a union. They just won’t lift a finger to help you because they’ll have more special monitors and civilian complaint review boards on their necks than they can handle.
And next time one of the innocent victims of Stop and Frisk is pounding your face into the sidewalk with one hand while digging through your pockets with the other, wave to the pair of beat cops sitting in the window of the coffee shop. And they’ll wave back without getting up. Because you voted for this. And you’re getting what you deserve.
“They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Jeanne Safer (Mrs. Richard Brookhiser) discusses her own marriage of political opposites.
This November fifth, like every Election Day for the last three decades, I’ll show up faithfully at my polling place rain or shine, even if there’s another Hurricane Sandy in New York City. Once again, I’ll be pulling the levers for some people I actually agree with, for some I’m not crazy about, and for others I’ve barely heard of. As long as they’re Democrats, they can count on my support.
It’s a matter of moral obligation, not just civic duty: I’ve got to cancel out my husband’s vote.
For thirty-three years I’ve been happily married to a man with whom I violently disagree on every conceivable political issue, including abortion, gun control, and assisted suicide. I thought the recent government shutdown was absurd, infantile, and destructive; he was a fan. And not only is he a conservative Republican, he’s a professional conservative Republican, a Senior Editor of National Review, the leading journal of conservative opinion in the country.
So why don’t we both just agree to stay home on Election Day? Because, even though I trust him with my life, I don’t trust him, and would never ask him, not to vote his conscience. It took our first decade together for me to accept that not even my considerable powers of persuasion as a psychotherapist—not to mention the self-evident correctness of my positions—would never make him change his mind, but, alas, it is so; he never even tried to change mine.
Other than my father, I never even knew any Republicans growing up, and certainly never had one for a boyfriend. But in my late twenties I joined a Renaissance singing group, and there he was—tall, clever, with intense blue eyes and a lyrical baritone. I couldn’t resist. I’d known and been treated abominably by too many men who shared all my opinions to let his convictions get in the way, and I’ve never regretted it. Our wedding was a bipartisan affair. My mentor, one of the early victims of the McCarthyite purges, gave me away, and my husband’s publisher, one of McCarthy’s most avid enforcers, gave a reading. Somehow everyone behaved, setting a trend that we have emulated with only a few brief exceptions ever since.
Tyler Cowan’s evil twin Tyrone thinks that Republicans didn’t do so badly as the popular narrative maintains.
Tyrone: I read what a strategic disaster the fracas has been for the Republican Party and for the Tea Party movement in particular, but I don’t see it. Where I grew up, this counts as a successful stare-down. Most of the time, the pit bull does not in fact lunge for your throat, but it is hardly a mistake for him to snarl, even if that raises his borrowing rates.
Look where we stand. In real terms government spending has been falling. Sequestration appears to be permanent, or it will be negotiated away by Republicans in return for preferred changes in tax and spending policy. Leading Democratic intellectuals are talking about future fiscal bargains with no new taxes. The American public polls as increasingly conservative.
With this sequence of events, combined with 2011, the Republicans convinced some of their opponents that they are crazy and irresponsible, without actually being crazy (though they were irresponsible, but that is the whole point). I peaked once into Tyler’s Twitter feed, and I found several accomplished Democratic economists — yes brilliant economists, as all economists are — suggesting that any day now markets are going to notice the truly crazy character of the Republican House and price that into interest rates and stocks. Oh what a tale! (A more accurate reading of the more radical Republicans would in fact be more cynical and ordinary than most of the pablum served up by their critics.) Imagine that you control only the House and can manage to convince your opponents that you are stronger and more dedicated to your cause than in fact you are. Only the truly strong and dedicated can pull such a caper off!
Someday, if the Democrats wanted to raise the exemption level for the payroll tax, and pull in a lot of new revenue, what kind of opposition could they expect? Probably they will shy away from that battle altogether, for fear of another Ted Cruz filibuster.
Yes, Virginia (literally), protecting the brand does sometimes mean going down with the ship. ...
Even if most Americans do not agree, it is now considered common to believe and to argue publicly that Obamacare represents the end of freedom in our time. If Obamacare turns out to fail in the eyes of the public, that condemnatory view is being held in the back of people’s minds, whether they admit it or not, whether they agree or not. They will start to agree more and more, the less generous their Medicare benefits look as time passes. The future counterrevolution in redistribution is going to have to come from somewhere and it is a major victory to cement the word “Obamacare” as a hypostatized “thingie” in people’s minds, for future reference.
The Republican tactics understand the importance of skewed pay-offs. In an age of political gridlock, the goal is not to maximize the expected value of your image, any more than you would do the same on a date. Rather the goal is to maximize the chances of moving your agenda forward, conditional on the existence of world-states where that might be possible. The harder it is to pull off change, the stupider your strategy will look in most world-states, but hey that is the price of admission to this game. Capital is to be periodically run down, and if in politics, as in management more generally, if you always look good you are doing something badly wrong.
Another fallacy is that no DC crisis would have focused more attention on the failings of the Obamacare exchanges in a useful manner. People, that is small potatoes. No one is going to repeal or even modify ACA because of a few weeks’ bad publicity at the opening. (Recall the Medicare prescription drug bill, which took weeks to get off the ground but now is beloved and is part of the permanent furniture of the universe, like Supersymmetry or quantum gravity.) If Obamacare is really going to do poorly, it is better if we build up high or least modest expectations for it. Imagine the Christmas present of learning you don’t really have insurance coverage after all. Or the New Year’s resolution that after you have been billed three times for the same policy, you vow to pay for only one of them and live with the bad credit rating until it gets straightened out. How about extreme adverse selection into the exchanges, resulting in 50-100% premium hikes in the first year of operations? (The lower premia are now, the better! Bread, peace, land! Ach du grüne Neune!) That’s what will get further traction for the Tea Party on Obamacare, not a bunch of bad reviews on opening day, as if the policy were no more than a mid-tier Jennifer Aniston movie (I can no longer refer to Sandra Bullock in this context), to be swatted down by mild tut-tuts of disapproval and inconvenience.
The very best victories are often described as ignominious retreats.
William Galston, in the Wall Street Journal, sees the recent shutdown struggle as evidence of a crucial internal struggle for the soul of the Republican Party.
More than a decade ago, before the post-9/11 national fervor set in, Walter Russell Mead published an insightful essay on the persistent “Jacksonian tradition” in American society. Jacksonians, he argued, embrace a distinctive code, whose key tenets include self-reliance, individualism, loyalty and courage.
Jacksonians care as passionately about the Second Amendment as Jeffersonians do about the First. They are suspicious of federal power, skeptical about do-gooding at home and abroad; they oppose federal taxes but favor benefits such as Social Security and Medicare that they regard as earned. Jacksonians are anti-elitist; they believe that the political and moral instincts of ordinary people are usually wiser than those of the experts and that, as Mr. Mead wrote, “while problems are complicated, solutions are simple.”
That is why the Jacksonian hero defies the experts and entrenched elites and “dares to say what the people feel” without caring in the least what the liberal media will say about him. (Think Ted Cruz. )
The tea party is Jacksonian America, aroused, angry and above all fearful, in full revolt against a new elite—backed by the new American demography—that threatens its interests and scorns its values. ...
Supporters of the tea party… see President Obama as anti-Christian, and the president’s expansive use of executive authority evokes charges of “tyranny.” Mr. Obama, they believe, is pursuing a conscious strategy of building political support by increasing Americans’ dependence on government. A vast expansion of food stamps and disability programs and the push for immigration reform are key steps down that road.
But ObamaCare is the tipping point, the tea party believes. Unless the law is defunded, the land of limited government, individual liberty and personal responsibility will be gone forever, and the new America, dominated by dependent minorities who assert their “rights” without accepting their responsibilities, will have no place for people like them.
For the tea party, ObamaCare is much more than a policy dispute; it is an existential struggle. ...
Many tea-party supporters are small businessmen who see taxes and regulations as direct threats to their livelihood. Unlike establishment Republicans who see potential gains from government programs such as infrastructure funding, these tea partiers regard most government spending as a deadweight loss. Because many of them run low-wage businesses on narrow margins, they believe that they have no choice but to fight measures, such as ObamaCare, that reduce their flexibility and raise their costs—measures to which large corporations with deeper pockets can adjust.
It’s no coincidence that the strengthening influence of the tea party is driving a wedge between corporate America and the Republican Party. It’s hard to see how the U.S. can govern itself unless corporate America pushes the Republican establishment to fight back against the tea party—or switches sides.
Detail, Horatio Greenough, George Washington Attired in Roman Toga, 1841, National Museum of American History
Stratfor’s George Friedman thinks seriously about what the founders would have thought about the partisan stalemate in Washington.
The founders needed to bridge the gaps between the need to govern, the fear of tyranny and the uncertainty of the future. Their solution was not in law but in personal virtue. The founders were fascinated by Rome and its notion of governance. Their Senate was both a Roman name and venue for the Roman vision of the statesman, particularly Cincinnatus, who left his farm to serve (not rule) and then returned to it when his service was over. The Romans, at least in the eyes of the founders if not always in reality, did not see government as a profession but rather as a burden and obligation. The founders wanted reluctant rulers.
They also wanted virtuous rulers. Specifically they lauded Roman virtue. It is the virtue that most reasonable men would see as praiseworthy: courage, prudence, kindness to the weak, honoring friendship, resolution with enemies. These were not virtues that were greatly respected by intellectuals, since they knew that life was more complicated than this. But the founders knew that the virtues of common sense ought not be analyzed until they lose their vigor and die. They did not want philosopher-kings; they wanted citizens of simple, clear virtues, who served reluctantly and left gladly, pursued their passions but were blocked by the system from imposing their idiosyncratic vision, pursued the ends of the preamble, and were contained in their occasional bitterness by the checks and balances that would frustrate the personal and ideological ambitions of others.
The Founding Father who best reflects these values is, of course, George Washington. Among the founders, it is he whom we should heed as we ponder the paralysis-by-design of the founders’ system and the current conundrum threatening an American debt default. He understood that the public would be reluctant to repay debt and that the federal government would lack the will to tax the public to pay debt on its behalf. He stressed the importance of redeeming and discharging public debt. He discouraged accruing additional debt and warned against overusing debt.
However, Washington understood there would be instances in which debt had to be incurred. He saw public credit as vital and therefore something that ought to be used sparingly—particularly in the event of war—and then aggressively repaid. This is not a technical argument for those who see debt as a way to manage the economy. It is a moral argument built around the virtue of prudence.
After these excellent observations, though, George reaches a dubious conclusion.
I think the founders would have questioned the prudence of our current debt. They would ask if it were necessary to incur, and how and whether it would be paid back. They would also question whether economic growth driven by debt actually strengthens the nation. In any case, I think there is little doubt they would be appalled by our debt levels, not necessarily because of what it might do to the economy, but because of what it does to the national character. However, because they were moderate men they would not demand an immediate solution. Nor would they ask for a solution that undermines national power.
As for federally mandated health care, I think they would be wary of entrusting such an important service to an entity they feared viscerally. But they wouldn’t have been fanatical in their resistance to it. As much as federally mandated health care would frighten them, I believe fanaticism would have frightened them even more.
The question of a default would have been simple. They would have been disgusted by any failure to pay a debt unless it was simply impossible to do so. They would have regarded self-inflicted default—regardless of the imprudence of the debt, or health care reform or any such subject—as something moderate people do not contemplate, let alone do.
So, by this analysis (which I think is drawn unconsciously from the poisoned well of the establishment media), even though Obamacare and an ever-increasing and unsustainable public debt are both classic examples of the kind of fundamentally destructive perils to the Republic which the framers devised the Constitution specifically to avoid, good men must refrain from fully utilizing the House’s power of the purse to restrain the radicals and the corrupt because refusing to write checks to cover the debts they irresponsibly and uncontrollably pile up would mean the good men were being “immoderate.” Uh, huh!
Sorry, but I think it is appropriate to quote Justice Jackson to Mr. Friedman: “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” And a one-sided political philosophy which demands that the forces of conservatism, liberty, and fiscal prudence must be moderate and cannot fight totally ruthless opponents who shrink from nothing with all their means simply guarantees that the democrats are always going to win.
When we have one of these policy confrontations, I would say, “Republicans, what would the democrats do?” The answer is: everything and anything necessary to win. In political wars, it is desirable to maintain a standard of behavior. It is desirable to set an example of moderation. But to set any kind of example, to have any impact on the future, to be remembered by history, you actually do have to win. Nobody, long years afterwards, says, they lost, but they were so well-mannered and restrained in their manner of being defeated that we are building them this monument.
We have, in this country, an ongoing political struggle between two parties. The Republican Party is commonly comprised of well-meaning, civic-minded and moderate men, successful businessmen, Rotarians who went on into public service. The democrat party, on the other hand, is full of machine politicians, of ruthless bastards with limitless ambition, of demagogues and crooks. Republicans would like to do politics in the genteel way you play a game of croquet. Democrats are professional, organized, and utterly and totally determined to win every time at any cost. We are doing politics as an obligation and a duty. They are doing politics to make a living. If a typical Republican leaves office, he is happy to go home. If a typical major democrat pol were to leave politics, he’d be in the gutter or in jail. The Republican Party is going to keep losing until its leaders realize that they are really fighting for the survival of the Republic and that they have to fight these people with no holds barred.
Peter Ferrara, at Forbes, argues that democrats are already failing in their calculated efforts to exacerbate the government shutdown and pin the blame on Republicans. He thinks the Republicans have a pretty simple winning strategy available.
When a reporter asked Harry Reid why the Senate would not pass a bill so children could continue to get their cancer treatments while the House-Senate budget battle dragged on, Reid responded, “Why would we do that?” and questioned the intelligence of the reporter. The obvious human answer was to save the lives of children. But Reid was not thinking about humanity. He was thinking about the political consequences of engineering a shutdown in further manipulation of the public against Republicans he is so certain the public will blame. In that context, his question made sense, including his disparagement of the reporter’s intelligence. Couldn’t she see the political value in denying health care to cancer stricken children, when the Republicans would be so obviously blamed for that?
But those bills were the beginning of the Republicans stumbling upon the right answer to the Democrats’ ploy. House Republicans should go back to regular order and start passing the remaining 11 or 12 appropriations bills to fund the entire government, except for Obamacare. Pass one each day, and hold a press conference to say the Republicans are ready to go to a Conference Committee with the Democrats if they disagree on the appropriations bill just passed. ...
[I]f the Democrats disagree with the provisions of these appropriations bills, they can pass their own appropriations bills with different provisions, and go to a Conference Committee with the House to compromise over final legislation. This is standard procedure for passage of bills. Check your high school civics book. ...
If Senate Democrats never get around to Conference Committee meetings on the appropriations bills, that would only reveal to everyone who is really responsible for the government shutdown after all. That would only mean that 800,000 nonessential federal employees out of 2.9 million would stay on furlough indefinitely. No harm to the public in that, and it would save a lot of money the government doesn’t have besides. Once House Republicans pass their appropriations bills, they can wait for Senate Democrats to show up to do their part as long as it takes.
We’ve just had another mass shooting, this time involving a guy with a record of gun offenses using several firearms which were undoubtedly illegal in the jurisdiction in which the shootings occurred to commit murders (which are against the law everywhere), so naturally the left is once again taking advantage of public outrage at criminal violence to provide the impetus for legislation aimed at curtailing gunownership by law-abiding citizens.
At Ricochet, ExUrban Kevin last night was already expressing annoyance at being blamed and potentially penalized for the actions of some whackjob.
How The NRA Twitter Handles A Mass Shooting: Silence
The model is to go silent for at least a day, depending on the scope of the tragedy.
Why should the NRA respond? Is the Navy Yard shooter an NRA Life Member? Why should the NRA care about such things if he’s not? Funny how I never see the American Automobile Association pestered for immediate commentary when someone decides to commit vehicular manslaughter.
I hate, hate the fact that I have to defend the right to defend my family every time some monster with a screw loose decides to kill others, then himself (next time try that in the other order, bucko).
Former Colorado State Senate President John Morse (D – Colorado Springs)
Colorado democrats took advantage of the emotional atmosphere occurring in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings to ram through a controversial gun bill requiring background checks for any firearm transfer and limiting the capacity of most magazines to 15 rounds.
The response from residents of the outdoor-loving state was furious. 54 out of 64 Colorado county sheriffs even brought suit to overturn the law, contending that its provisions were too vague and that innocent citizens could inadvertently violate the law by owning magazines readily convertible to larger capacities.
Angry sportsmen and gun owners responded by petitioning for recall elections in the cases of several of the most prominent senatorial supporters of the bill.
Yesterday’s election produced the first successful recalls in Colorado’s history of any elected officials. Colorado Senate President John Morse was ousted and along with him Senator Angela Giron who represented Pueblo.
All this proves once again that gun control in regions outside coastal urban enclaves represents a very effective political third rail for progressive democrats.