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It Should Have Been Televised

For opponents, how would you have answered those questions? 

(via: The Daily Dish)


[update: July 10]


Jacob Sullum over at Reason Magazine’s blog has had enough defending “the constitutional principles that social conservatives use to restrict liberty, because they so rarely return the favor by supporting those same principles when the effect is to expand liberty.” Sullum seems a bit late to the party on this, it’s long been obvious to me that more often than not, self-described “strict constructionists,” “federalists,” and even “small government conservatives” are just interested in advancing their right-wing agendas not upholding constitutional or small government principles. The Founding Father idolatry of the Tea Partyers is especially egregious in this respect. 


This is partly the reason I have trouble identifying with political labels, even my preferred “classical liberal.” In my more openly libertarian phase, this was even more so the case. When it comes down to it I don’t want to lock myself into any specific ideological response to every circumstance. I tend to favor more liberty over less and even less government over more; that guides me but ultimately I’m a consequentialist more than anything else. If my underlying principles lead to more suffering, I’ll abandon them for those circumstances – consistency be damned! I hope to expand on this in the future.  Anyway, here’s more Sullum:

Is this a constitutional rationalization for my pre-existing policy preferences? Yes, but I think it’s a pretty good one. I would much prefer that the government get out of the business of certifying marriage altogether. But as long as more than 1,000 provisions of federal law hinge on marital status, the government will have to decide which couples qualify, and basic fairness demands that sexual preference play no role in that determination. What legitimate government interest can possibly justify preventing the longtime spouse of a veteran from being buried alongside him, simply because both of them are men? This sort of thing really is shameful.

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WWJS?

Check out this hilarious new blog that puts the words of Tea Partyers and Christians in the mouth of Jesus. Pretty ingenious. 
At the site you can click on the picture to see the origin of the quotation. 
Categories: Humor, Tea Party

Understanding Cause and Effect

The Tea Party has grown partly in response to ballooning deficits and what they see as irresponsible government spending. Well, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities graphs data from the CBO to illustrate where our massive deficits originate. While partly to settle the “blame game,” this also helps us figure out how best to combat the deficit (if that’s really someone’s concern; looking at you Tea Party). 

Any fair observer can see that the economic recovery measures (lighter blues) are not the cause of out of control long-term deficits. The economic downturn and Bush’s tax cuts are the major issue. My solution: fix the economy (ok, easier said than done) and raise future taxes with a VAT. It should be clear that if solutions to fix the economy involve spending money that should not be a valid concern – a healthier and productive economy will help diminish the deficit more than any spending will contribute to it.

Although I agree to a certain extent that the Obama administration shouldn’t focus on blaming the Bush administration for the deficit, The New Republic points out… they’re not wrong.

Now, I think it’s fine for a story to eschew “balance”when one side is making an unsupportable or hypocritical case. But Obama’s case isn’t wrong — it really is true that the economic and budgetary problems we’re facing were inherited from the previous administration. What’s false is the Republican effort to imply that Obama caused the problems — an argument that collapses upon the slightest empirical pressure. But somehow the standard here is not what’s correct but what’s polite, and it’s impolite for Obama to blame Bush.

Maybe We Do Need to Promote English

Enjoy the photos of “Teabonics”



(via The Daily Dish)

Categories: Andrew Sullivan, Tea Party

Attempting to Mix a Hypocrisy Tonic

My uncle loves to send me right-wing chain emails about the dangers of government, the evilness of Obama, all the crazy things “the liberals” are up to, and sprinkles in some nativist xenophobic blather for good measure. Honestly, he’s a great guy personally, but seriously warped with partisanship, paranoia, and populism like others swept up with Tea Party style politics. His colleagues don’t seem much better. I recently got into an email row with one of them over the Massachusetts RMV offering a spanish language manuel and test (written by volunteers). I pointed out among other things that multiple studies and surveys (here, here, and here) show that 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants and Americans in general overwhelmingly speak English. He responded with “I think you’re wrong” and asked about some anecdotal cases. Failure to deal with actual evidence doesn’t often lead to a fruitful conversation.


Most of the emails I get sent end up being demonstrably false, yet that doesn’t appear to give my uncle any reservations. Bizarrely, these emails often bash big government and advance some pretty narrow (and wrongheaded) views about the constitutional limits placed on our government. I say bizarre because he works for the government. I hope this will be a hypocrisy tonic:

FAA wastes stimulus funds:

  • Lake Cumberland Regional Airport in Kentucky got $3.5 million to build a glass-fronted terminal in 2004 that was largely unused until the first passenger flights began this June. The airport now has six flights a week.
  • Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama got $22 million to build a $35 million terminal with a sloping glass facade and a rotunda topped with a domed ceiling that reflects the historical architecture of the state Capitol.
  • Halliburton Field Airport in Duncan, Okla., got $700,000 for a terminal with a pilot room and a reception room. The airport, open only to private planes, has 24 landings and takeoffs a day, mostly local pilots in piston-engine planes.
We can privatize many of the FAA’s duties for example:

Air Traffic Control. The Federal Aviation Administration has been mismanaged for decades and provides Americans with second-rate air traffic control. The FAA has struggled to expand capacity and modernize its technology. Canada privatized its ATC system in 1996. It set up a private, nonprofit ATC corporation, Nav Canada, which is self-supporting from charges on aviation users. The Canadian system has received high marks for sound finances, solid management, and investment in new technologies.

Delayed? Blame the FAA:


Go to the site to watch the video. 


[update]: He does recognize the irony but it doesn’t seem to affect his politics. I think that might show the mind’s ability to compartmentalize and hold mutually contradictory beliefs. 

The Purge Continues

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Two posts ago I wrote, “I’m not sure what it will take to regain a sane GOP.  More people like David Frum would help.”


Well looks like it is going to get worse before it gets better for the mainstream conservative movement. Frum was pushed out of the American Enterprise Institute:

I have been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute since 2003. At lunch today, AEI President Arthur Brooks and I came to a termination of that relationship.

He’s criticized Rush, Palin, and the current Republican Party in order to improve it – unacceptable, I guess. Bruce Bartlett had a similar experience at the National Center for Policy Analysis. I don’t really understand what is driving the conservative movement to such extremes – anything Obama does is evil to them even if they supported it before he did. Bartlett reveals:

Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI “scholars” on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

The huge losses to the Republican Party that the Bush administration and the recessing economy caused may very well have given the GOP the wrong lesson. Almost all moderate Republicans lost their seats, leaving only the hard right wing in control. Doubling down and listening to Rove doesn’t seem rational. Frum probably had it right that the Republican Party needs to recognize that talk-radio and Fox News don’t have the GOP’s interests at heart – they want ratings. 

Anyone have any theories? My feeling is that a sluggish economy led to a growing populist movement which is fed by ratings hungry right-wing media along with the loss of the liberal and moderate Republicans in the legislature.  The most active potential Republican voters are also the most extreme so any politically minded politician has to crater to those sentiments. But do think-tanks like AEI really need to tailor their messages to this movement? They have no elections or ratings to worry about – aren’t they non-profit? Are their donors that swept up with the rest of the paranoid right? 

Dog Bites Man

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Bruce Bartlett shares results from a survey of Tea Partyers.  

In short, no matter how one slices the data, the Tea Party crowd appears to believe that federal taxes are very considerably higher than they actually are, whether referring to total taxes as a share of GDP or in terms of the taxes paid by a typical family. 

Tea Partyers also seem to have a very distorted view of the direction of federal taxes. They were asked whether they are higher, lower or the same as when Barack Obama was inaugurated last year. More than two-thirds thought that taxes are higher today, and only 4% thought they were lower; the rest said they are the same.

As noted earlier, federal taxes are very considerably lower by every measure since Obama became president.

Surprise! They don’t know much. Facts were never too suited to populism. Full Survey Here

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