Thursday, April 5, 2007

Rudy on Roe

This isn't Rudy's week. Yesterday, he confirmed that he still supports taxpayer-funded abortions. Then, when this week's Weekly Standard hit mailboxes, he found himself backpedaling on a coded promise to appoint anti-Roe jurists to the federal bench:

"[A] strict constructionist judge could come to either conclusion about Roe v. Wade. He could come to the conclusion that it was incorrectly decided, overturn it, or he could decide well, it's been precedent for so long now, it would be too disruptive to overturn it, so we leave it alone. I would leave that up to a judge."

How's that for straddling the fence?

Update (4/7): Phil Klein of the American Spectator (later echoed by Vincent Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News) observes that as damaging as Rudy's response is, his off-the-cuff style reveals deeper problems:

When [CNN] asked him if he had changed his position on publicly funding abortion since 1989 . . . Giuliani just couldn't bring himself to be seen as pandering, so his instinct was to say that his position was the same. But then he tried to qualify his statement, so what he ended up with was a sloppy answer that, in addition to angering conservatives, created the impression that he's simply "winging it."

There is, however, a fine line between pandering and being unprepared. Given that Giuliani's biggest liability going into the Republican primaries is his stance on abortion, it's startling that he would be caught so off guard. By now, he should be ready to answer any permutation of the abortion question, if not to the satisfaction of all social conservatives, at least well enough to convey a command of the subject matter.

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The Daily Dose

Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Edwards and Barack Obama all oppose school choice—except for their own kids. Clint Bolick, president of the Alliance for School Choice, details the hypocrisy. (Possible sound bite: Why is choice good for women but bad for children?)

You've heard of podcasting. You probably even have some favorites. Why not, then, start your own? Michael Quinn Sullivan, founder of the weekly Texas PolicyCast from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, explains the basics.

Is Mike Huckabee a real conservative? Jeremy Lott (my old boss at Cato) goes through the governor's book and finds some interesting evidence to the contrary.

Those who say the GOP would never nominate for president a pro-choicer—or an abortion flip-flopper—forget that both Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush were pro-choice—the latter at least until Reagan chose him as his running mate.

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The Lobbying Catch-22

A year ago, when Google had just opened a Washington office and was engaged in a hiring binge for well-connected lobbyists, Cato’s David Boaz called the company’s DC digs an

entirely understandable, but . . . tragic symbol of the diversion of America’s productive resources into the unproductive world of political predation and the struggle to resist it.

"For most of a decade," Boaz explained, Google

went about its business, developing software, creating a search engine better than any of us could have dreamed, and innocently making money. Then, as its size and wealth drew the attention of competitors, anti-business activists, and politicians, it was forced to start spending some of its money and brainpower fending off political attacks.

Regrettable as they are, such activities constitute “good” lobbying, insofar as they advance laissez-faire. But as Jeffrey Birnbaum, who goes by the e-mail address, has noted, the old days when lobbying was a mostly defensive practice are rapidly coming to a close. Today, lobbying is an offensive art, wherein K Street “treat[s] Washington like a profit center rather than a place to minimize losses.”

To wit, corporations are lining up for both lighter regulations for themselves and heavier regulations for their competitors.

Google, however, has always been and prided itself on being different—its motto is “Don’t Be Evil.” Of course, these sentiments developed in Google’s infancy, when the company cocooned itself in its Googleplex campus on the other side of the country. Now that it’s in the belly of the beast, how long will it be before Potomac fever makes Google go native?

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Enforcing the Law Does Not Necessitate Subsidizing Its Exercise

Earlier today, Rudy Giuliani told CNN that he still supports taxpayer-funded abortions. His reasoning is that of a lawyer's:

Ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore . . . you have to make sure that people are protected.

At first blush, this seems convincing. Love or hate a particular law, it's the law, and laws must be enforced. After all, we are a country governed by the rule of law, not the rule of men.

The famous example is President Eisenhower. Even though he disagreed with Brown v. Board (1954), when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus three years later used his state's National Guard to block the entry of black students to a public high school, Eisenhower federalized the guard and deployed elements of the 101st Airborne Division to ensure Arkansas's compliance.

The problem is that you can protect a right without bankrolling its exercise. The right to abortion doesn't collapse if the federal government stops subsidizing it.

Moreover, just because the federal government protects your right, say, to buy alcohol, doesn't mean you have the right to inebriate yourself on taxpayers' dime.

Hat tip: Matt Lewis.

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Obamamania Is Real


Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he had raised $25 million—$6.9 million of it in Internet donations—emphasizes the point. From the outset, the Obama campaign, with its grass-roots energy, was designed around the Internet, while Hillary Rodham Clinton and others added beefed-up Web programs to largely traditional presidential campaign machines.

Today, Obama reigns among the candidates on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. And his finance staff has launched the first-ever bundling program for Internet donations. According to his campaign, more than 100,000 people donated to his campaign from Jan. 1 to March 31. Clinton, who raised $26 million last quarter, reported donations from half as many.

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Totalitarian Hyperbole

The cover of the current issue of Reason (not yet online) contains the subtitle, "The totalitarian implications of public health." By contrast, the subtitle of last month's cover story used the word "authoritarian," as in "The frightening mind of an authoritarian maverick."

I don't think it's purely semantic to argue that "totalitarian," as used today, is facile and hyperbolic, and, as such, diminishes real totalitarianism—of the Stalin, Hitler, Mao variety.

Say what you will about socialized medicine—or even conscription or the terrorist surveillance program—but do you really think they amount to the idea that you "should be totally subject to an absolute state authority"?

Let's be clear: nothing in America today compares to the systematic murder and enslavement of tens of millions of people, engineered by tyrants unconstrained by checks or balances and utterly dismissive of democracy.

Accordingly, let's reserve "totalitarian"—like references to the Holocaust, Nazis and tsunamis—for the real thing, and instead partake of the richness of the English language with words like "dictatorial," "authoritarian," "tyrannical," "despotic" and "autocratic."

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Earmarks Exposed

A press release (not yet online) from the OMB says the agency just updated its earmark database, which now contains 13,496 earmarks totaling more than $19 billion for FY2005:

When the earmarks database was first launched on March 12, 2007, it provided aggregate data on the number and cost of earmarks for FY2005 appropriations, and was able to show this information by agency, office and account. Today's update includes details on individual earmarks, the ability to view earmarks by state and a downloadable file so that the public can sort information in ways they [sic] find useful. However, the database is not designed, and cannot accurately be used, to identify the individual sponsors of congressional earmarks.[1] Additionally, the recipient of an earmark identified in the database may not in all cases represent the ultimate beneficiary of the earmark.[2]

Check out the database here.

[1] [2] Sounds like a job for bloggers.

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The Daily Dose

Instead of endlessly debating your antagonists, why not share a byline with them once in a while?

Battered by Watergate in 1973, President Nixon was losing his epic power struggle with Henry Kissinger. Then the Middle East exploded. In an excerpt from his new book, using freshly opened archives, historian Robert Dallek describes how the secretary of state took control.

Dr. William Hurwitz prescribed large quantities of OxyContin and other pills while ignoring “red flags” that his patients were misusing and reselling the drugs. D.E.A. administrator Karen Tandy praised his resulting 25-year sentence by calling the doctor "no different from a cocaine or heroin dealer." But since the judge told the jury it didn’t matter if Hurwitz had acted in "good faith," an appeals court ordered a retrial. John Tierney reports, from his TimesSelect blog.

What is the world's largest private company and how did it get that way? The company is Koch Industries, and the strategy is called market-based management.

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How a Capitalist Runs for Office

Even before this year's CPAC began, the NYT (David Kirkpatrick) was reporting that Mitt Romney campaign's was

paying for three vans, scores of registration fees and at least a half-dozen hotel rooms to pack collegiate supporters into the event.

The perks paid off, and Romney won the CPAC straw poll.

Of course, incentivizing collegians is nothing new; presidential hopeful Gary Bauer did the same thing in 2000 by recruiting, from among other places, Liberty University.

But Romney is thinking strategically, and his newest plan—to pay college volunteers who fundraise for him—promises even greater results. As the AP reports:

[P]articipants [in Students for Mitt] are asked to contact members of their academic, social and family circles, and point them to Romney's Web site. The students get 10 percent of all money above $1,000 that is contributed under their ID and source code.

Chapters are being established in Boston, Phoenix, Denver, Provo, Utah, and Rexburg, Idaho, the latter two where Brigham Young University a predominantly Mormon school is based and has a branch campus. . . .

"I spend a lot of hours at the campaign here," said Sarah Isgur, [a] second-year student at Harvard Law School. . . . "Some students are working at a law firm and earning $3,000 per week. My opportunity cost is pretty high some times, and this can take the edge off that."

Before becoming governor of Massachusetts, Romney led an enormously successful career as a venture capitalist. His just-reported fundraising haul of $23 million is "the story of the first quarter," as Chris Cillizza puts it. He may be getting walloped in the polls, but he's a savvy thinker who campaigns with a view not just toward tomorrow but toward the finish line.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Setting the Record Straight on McCain's Party Affiliations

A long article in last week's Hill reignited discussion about what exactly happened six years ago when rumors abounded that John McCain might leave the GOP. According to the Hill (and, BTW, it's good to see that the paper is picking up after the Politico poaching), it was not Democrats who approached McCain, but McCain's chief political strategist, John Weaver, who approached the Democrats, namely, lobbyist and former Congressman Tom Downey (D-NY).

Weaver, who changed his party affiliation to Democrat several years ago, acknowledges that McCain discussed the issue with leading Dems like Daschle, Kennedy and Edwards, but says his boss was much more inclined to becoming an independent than a Democrat.

To compound the confusion, yesterday John Kerry told the liberal blog, MyDD, that in 2003, Weaver approached him.

Townhall's Matt Lewis sorts it all out, with quotes from Weaver and McCain's longtime chief of staff, Mark Salter:

[W]hat Weaver and Salter both describe was instead a desperate attempt by John Kerry to lure John McCain. . . . What is more, the offer did not involve McCain switching parties.

According to Salter, “The idea that McCain approached Kerry is a fantasy.” Out of respect for Senator Kerry (they worked together on the POW MIA issue), McCain allowed Kerry to talk with him on three occasions (sometimes this was on the floor of the Senate and sometimes it was over coffee).

As a blogger worth his keyboard, Lewis then digs up a 2004 Newsweek cover story to confirm his report:

[Kerry] badly wanted Sen. John McCain to be his running mate. As far back as August 2003, Kerry had taken McCain to breakfast to sound him out: would the maverick Republican run on a unity ticket with Kerry?. . . .

McCain batted away the idea as not serious. But Kerry was intent, and after he wrapped up the nomination in March, he went back after McCain a half-dozen more times. "I can't say this is an offer because I've got to be able to deny it," Kerry told his friend. "But you've got to do this." To show just how sincere he was, he made an outlandish offer. If McCain said yes, he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy. . . . McCain exclaimed, "You're out of your mind. I don't even know if it's constitutional, and it certainly wouldn't sell."

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The First Web Site I Check Each Day

If you're familiar with RealClearPolitics, which every morning and afternoon aggregates the political articles you need to know for that night's DC cocktail party, then you know how helpful the site is. You might have also seen RCP's poll coverage, which is as comprehensive as it is indispensable.

What you might not know (as I didn't until recently), is that the site also houses a blog. Similar to the Opinionator by Chris Suellentrop, in that it tends to reprint news rather than analyze it (also, both are now owned by the MSM: the NYT and Time, respectively), the RCP blog is aesthetic, succinct and well-written.

If you haven't RSSed it yet (nifty verb, huh?), then check it out.

Semantic footnote: goes by the title "RealClearPolitics," but is spelled "Real Clear Politics."

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Fred Thompson in 08? Bob Novak Says Yes!

Bob Novak devotes his whole column today to the emerging candidacy of Fred Thompson. Here's what you need to know (my hyperlink):

[Thompson] privately assures friends that this is for real. His performance on Fox News Sunday was no accident; he went on the show for the purpose of unveiling his possible candidacy. . . .

Friends bet that Thompson will run. He clearly wants to try, and his wife, Jeri, is all for it.

Chris Cillizza, in the mark of a true reporter, has made the case for and against Thompson, while John Dickerson has pointed out the hype-killing obvious:

[O]nce Thompson enters the race, he will have to either embrace or distance himself from GOP policies, which will either ruin his chances in the general election or hurt him with his conservative supporters. In short, he'll become just like any other candidate—something he might not like after such a big buildup.

On the other hand, the seductive power of celebrities is awesome. Who would have thought Arnold Schwarzenegger—who had zero political experience—would not only win the governorship of California, but also get re-elected?

Update (4/3): Just as the Politico's Mike Allen has slowly been peeling away the layers behind Obamamania, so Allen's colleague, Kevin Vogel, commences the scrutiny of Fred Thompson that befits a presidential candidate:

Over about two decades of lobbying . . . Thompson . . . represented clients including a British reinsurance company facing billions of dollars in asbestos claims, Canadian-owned cable companies, and deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, according to government documents and media accounts from his first run for the Senate in 1994.

During that [race], Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Thompson's opponent, had blasted him as "a Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special interest lobbyist."

[And even though] Thompson crushed Cooper, 61 to 39 percent[,] [t]hat . . . was in a watershed Republican year, and it was before the Jack Abramoff scandal tarred lobbyists in the public's mind as corrupt, self-dealing influence peddlers.

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Ralph Nader's Sweatshops

"[Ralph Nader] had a simple theory: if you worked your staff all the time, you wouldn't have to pay them anything because they would never have time to spend money anyway."

Ron Brownstein, of the LA Times, on his first job.

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Daily Dose

Are letters to the editor too limiting? Then blog your (2,000 word) response, as does Cato's David Boaz vis-a-vis the NYT book review of Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement.

Matthew Dowd, GWB's chief campaign strategist in 2004, now says "Kerry was right" in calling last year for withdrawal from Iraq.

The Hill reports some new details on McCain's flirtation with leaving the GOP in 2001. The gist: talks were instigated by John Weaver, McCain's chief political strategist, and McCain considered becoming an independent, not a Democrat.

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The Sad Story of Michael Ware

The news of the hour (thanks to an e-mail tip from Pat Hynes) is a reporter's heckling of Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain at a live press conference today in Baghdad. The reporter is Michael Ware, who joined CNN as a correspondent one year ago after five years with Time magazine.

By way of background, I interned in Time's New York bureau in the summer of 2004, shortly before Ware was named its Baghdad bureau chief for his steady stream of incredible exclusives—including some where he cozied up to jihadists. Although I never met Ware, such stories bore out his reputation as "crazy"—although, some might argue, "crazy good" might be apter.

Indeed, whatever his bias, Ware deserves respect for his fearlessness. Wikipedia relates one harrowing incident that illustrates why all reporters—and all soldiers—in Iraq today deserve the benefit of the doubt:

In September of 2004, while investigating reports that Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi's nascent "al-Qaeda in Iraq" group was openly claiming control of the Haifa Street area of Baghdad, Ware was briefly held at gunpoint by insurgents loyal to Zarqawi who had pulled pins from live grenades and forced his car to stop. The men dragged him from the car and stood him beneath one of the banners, intending to film the execution with his own video camera. By threatening them with immediate and violent retaliation, his local guides, including members of the Ba'athist Party, were able to win his release.

I mention all this to make the point that Ware is an exceptional reporter who sometimes goes too far (which, of course, is part of his success). The problem is that in order to be treated seriously, one needs to act seriously. And that's where Michael Ware falls short.

According to the Drudge Report,

An official at the [aforementioned] press conference called Ware’s conduct “outrageous,” saying, “Here you have two United States Senators in Bag[h]dad giving firsthand reports while Ware is laughing and mocking their comments. I’ve never witnessed such disrespect. This guy is an activist[,] not a reporter.”

Drudge continues by citing an interview Ware gave to Bill Maher last year, in which Ware exclaimed,

I've been given a front-row ticket to watch this slow-motion train wreck . . . I try to stay as drunk for as long as possible while I'm here . . . In fact, I'm drinking now.

This is bizarre and disappointing, and it lends ammunition to those who focus on Ware's idiosyncrasies rather than his raw talent.

Pace the good folks at Power Line, I view Ware more in sorrow than in anger. I do not question his on-the-ground, first-hand assessments. He's spent the past four years of his life reporting the hell out of the hole that is Iraq. When people like John McCain assert that "[t]here are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through . . . today," people like Michael Ware put their lives on the line testing the rhetoric against reality.

However—and this is crucial in journalism—dubious professionalism undermines credibility. And, if Drudge's scoop is accurate, then flagrantly insulting two U.S. senators who have made the trip to see Iraq for themselves was particularly stupid from someone who should know better.

Update (7:15 pm): Brian Bennett, a Time correspondent who is now in Baghdad, says that McCain is right: it's safe for a stroll—if you take two bodyguards and wear your running shoes:

I just spoke with XXXXXX, our Iraqi bureau manager, about where in Baghdad I could go for a walk. He said there was one neighborhood (I'm not telling—why make it a target?). He said I could get out of the car with him and a couple of our Iraqi bodyguards and walk for about three blocks—then we'd have to get back in the car before the cell phone calls to kidnappers caught up with us.

Update (9:50 pm): Frank Rich points out that even as McCain made his neighborly-stroll remark,

daily attacks were increasing in the safest of Baghdad neighborhoods, the fortified Green Zone, one of them killing two Americans. No one can safely “walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi, without heavily armed protection,” according to the retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who delivered an Iraq briefing to the White House last week.

Update (4/2): Howard Kurtz, the longtime media reporter for the Washington Post and host of CNN's Reliable Sources, confirms what I indicated but should have emphasized (my hyperlink):

The "purported heckling" is described by one unnamed official quoted by the Drudge Report. That's it. If that person wants to put his name to it, or provide video or other documentation, I'm more than happy to report it. Ware says it's ridiculous and that while he raised his hand he did not get to ask a question at yesterday's news conference.

Last Update (4/3): Let's go the videotape. Thanks to a Michael Ware fan site, we have the actual footage, which, as Reason's David Wiegal points out,

reveals that Ware didn't do anything until the end of the presser, when he raised his hand. . . . It's possible that Ware muttered under his breath and the source took offense, but that ain't "heckling."

Another triumph of Web 2.0. Case closed.

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Should the Bible be taught in public schools?

This is a classic loaded question, but the answer I like best comes from Arthur Goldberg, a Supreme Court Associate Justice (who, incidentally, wrote a concurring opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that overturned a state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives):

“Teaching of religion”: bad.

“Teaching about religion”: good.

Evangelical pundit Chuck Colson puts it similarly:

What you can do is introduce the Bible so that people are aware of its impact on people and in history and then let God speak through it as he will.

In his recent cover story in Time (which contains the above quotes), David Van Biema offers a longer answer:

Simply put, the Bible is the most influential book ever written. Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year. In a 1992 survey of English teachers to determine the top-10 required “book-length works” in high school English classes, plays by Shakespeare occupied three spots and the Bible none. And yet, let’s compare the two: Beauty of language: Shakespeare, by a nose. Depth of subject matter: toss-up. Breadth of subject matter: the Bible. Numbers published, translated etc: Bible. Number of people martyred for: Bible. Number of wars attributed to: Bible. Solace and hope provided to billions: you guessed it. And Shakespeare would almost surely have agreed. According to one estimate, he alludes to Scripture some 1,300 times. As for the rest of literature, when your seventh-grader reads The Old Man and the Sea, a teacher could tick off the references to Christ’s Passion—the bleeding of the old man’s palms, his stumbles while carrying his mast over his shoulder, his hat cutting his head—but wouldn’t the thrill of recognition have been more satisfying on their/own?

If literature doesn’t interest you, you also need the Bible to make sense of the ideas and rhetoric that have helped drive U.S. history. “The shining city on the hill”? That’s Puritan leader John Winthrop quoting Matthew to describe his settlement’s convenantal standing with God. In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln noted sadly that both sides in the Civil War “read the same Bible” to bolster their opposing claims. When Martin Luther King Jr. talked of “Justice rolling down like waters” in his “I Have a Dream” speech, he was consciously enlisting the Old Testament prophet Amos, who first spoke those words. The Bible provided the argot—and theological underpinnings—of women’s suffrage and prison-reform movements.

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Thompson Is Running

Tommy Thompson, that is—the former governor of Wisconsin and health and human services secretary.

Still no definitive word on the other Thompson—Fred, of Law and Order fame.

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The Effrontery of Card Check and the Hypocrisy of Its Congressional Sponsors

My knowledge of unions comes mostly from the baseball-bat tactics of the Sopranos, so when I read Deroy Murdock's latest column about card check, I was surprised but not shocked.

Card check, as embodied in the Employee Free Choice Act, allows worksites to become unionized if union reps collect authorization cards (A cards) from a majority of workers. Sounds harmless, right? The harm is that these cards need not be signed in secret, thus overriding the timeless tradition of secret-ballot elections.

Pat Cleary of the National Association of Manufacturers fills in the blanks:

The process of gathering A cards, as you might imagine, is not entirely free of coercion. The union visits employees face-to-face, often at their homes and—how best to put this?—urges them to sign the cards.

Why spurn the principle of privacy? Give the man credit for honesty: "We can’t win that way anymore," admits Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Hansen's congressional allies are less forthright. As Deroy reports, in a 2001 letter to Mexican officials, 16 House Democrats urged the "use [of] the secret ballot in all union recognition elections." They added, "The secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union that they might not otherwise choose."

Of the letter's 11 signers still in Congress, all voted to deny Americans this "absolutely necessary" prerogative they wanted for Mexicans.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

McCain's Catch-22 with Conservatives

In a recent cover story for National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru concluded that "it would be a remarkably narrow definition of conservatism that excluded [John] McCain." Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard—which supported McCain over Bush in 2000—agrees and explains why "the candidate with the most conservative record of the top contenders is the least liked by conservatives":

[Conservatives are] willing to give Giuliani enormous slack, despite his liberalism on social issues and his disheveled personal life. They excuse Romney's numerous switches from liberal to conservative positions. But conservatives vigorously resist McCain. They make no allowance for his liberal digressions on issues such as campaign finance, gun control, stem cell research, President Bush's tax cuts, or global warming. And they give him little or no credit for favoring the reversal of Roe v. Wade, or for supporting the extension of the Bush tax cuts he had originally voted against, or even for his unblemished record as a hawk on national security. Yes, politics is unfair. . . .

The aversion to McCain is often visceral. James Dobson, the Christian conservative who runs Focus on the Family, says he prayed about the Republican presidential campaign and concluded that he couldn't vote for McCain "under any circumstances." Charles Cunningham, the Washington lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, says he won't even consider supporting McCain. Conservative ex-senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania insists McCain "is not one of us and doesn't want to be". . . .

Santorum . . . doesn't trust McCain. And it's exactly that—a lack of trust—that hampers McCain in appealing to conservatives. McCain votes like a social conservative, "but I believe as soon as he gets in office [as president] he'll jettison any social conservative issues. He follows the New York Times, not conservatives. He takes more pleasure in defeating conservative causes than in joining them. People see that."

Update (4/1): Matthew Continetti, an editor at the Weekly Standard, in a recent op-ed in the NYT, cuts through the hemming and hawing:

While Mr. McCain and the conservative activists who compose the Republican grassroots share many positions—pro-war, pro-life, against waste in government and for low taxes—a significant portion of those grassroots just ... doesn’t ... like him.

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Media Bias in All Its Splendor

On Wednesday night, thanks to my friend Fred Lucas of Cybercast News Service, I attended the Media Research Center's 20th Anniversary Gala. The event is known for its DisHonors awards, presented in absentia to those who've made the most appalling comments on national TV in the past year.

My favorite: an interview of Ted Turner by Wolf Blitzer. Here's the relevant exchange (presumably, Turner had recently returned from North Korea). You can also watch the clip, courtesy of vlogger Mary Katharine Ham, below.

Wolf: But this is one of the most despotic regimes, and Kim Jong Ill is one of the worst men on earth. Isn't that a fair assessment?

Turner: Well, I didn't get to meet him, but in the pictures that I've seen of him on CNN, he didn't look too much different from most other people I've met.

Wolf: But look at the way he's treating his own people.

Turner: Hey, listen, I saw a lot of people over there, they were thin, and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but—

Wolf: A lot of those people are starving.

Turner: I didn't see any brutalities.

On another note, was it or me, or were parts of the Osama bin Laden video inappropriate? I'm not referring to the profanity, but to some of the snider remarks.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

The Emergency Earmark Express

There are many ways to criticize this year's emergency supplemental bill. I, for one, have taken to calling the bill "No Emergency Left Behind," since it redefines "emergency" so as to make that word meaningless.

Another approach, one taken by the Club for Growth PAC, is to denounce those freshman Democratic congressman who campaigned on promises of fiscal discipline but seem to have changed their minds once in office. For instance:

Nancy Boyda (KS-2) recently came out in support of the pork-stuffed Iraq supplemental bill, but her campaign Web site told a different story. Running against Republican Jim Ryun, she wrote “Congress must never waste a single taxpayer dime on needless spending ... Wasteful spending has increased exponentially in recent years.” Does Nancy Boyda think $75 million for peanut storage is not a waste of taxpayer dollars?

Citizens against Government Waste, in an op-ed and chart in today's NYT, extends these two critiques. The op-ed confirms the Club for Growth's suspicions that the

Democratic leadership shamelessly used pork to buy votes—before the vote, Representatives Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Peter DeFazio of Oregon acknowledged that add-ons for their districts would influence their decisions.

And the chart, which compiles some of the most egregious "emergencies"—including $20 million to eradicate Mormon crickets in Nevada—shows just how far Congress is willing to abuse the English language.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

John McCain: I Invented YouTube

John McCain has already conceded that his cherished campaign finance law is unconstitutional. Yesterday, he repeated his assertion that “[m]oney is not free speech. Money is property.” But today—which marks McCain-Feingold’s fifth anniversary—the senator plumbed a new level of dishonesty.

Speaking this morning on the Laura Ingraham Show, he defended his legislation (1) as benefiting the Republican Party and (2) as virtually responsible for YouTube:

[A] lot of state party chairmen . . . have much more power and authority now and . . . millions of more small donors . . . have come on board.

First, if McCain-Feingold has been good for the GOP, this is news to the GOP. As the Hotline reported in January:

Members of the Republican National Committee passed on Thursday a strongly worded resolution rebuking a signature accomplishment of their party’s frontrunner, Sen. John McCain—his Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act, known as McCain-Feingold.

Indeed, it’s Democrats who should be celebrating today, since McCain-Feingold has led to the rise of big-money independent expenditures on the left, like

Second, if McCain-Feingold has empowered the little guy, it’s been a fluke, not cause and effect. The rise of small donors coincides with the rise of what’s called Web 2.0, or user-generated content like that available at YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. As Ryan Sager of the New York Sun puts it, “[U]nless Mr. McCain invented the Internet . . . no one ought to be attributing this development to [McCain-Feingold].”

For more, see pages 11-13 of “He’s No Ronald Reagan: Why Conservatives Should Not Vote for John McCain.”

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Citizens United Files Brief in Landmark Campaign-Finance Case

Last week Citizens United filed an amicus brief in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, asking the Supreme Court to strike down a key provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which bans corporations from sponsoring TV and radio ads that refer to a federal candidate in the weeks preceding an election.

Here's our press release and here's our brief.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Citizens United in the News

In a recent cover story for the Weekly Standard, Matthew Continetti reports on "scenes from the Gingrich campaign." Exhibit A: this year's CPAC.

"Whether it's strengthening our national security and intelligence-gathering agencies," David Bossie explains, "reforming the United Nations, or transforming entitlement programs, Newt Gingrich never stops asking the tough questions." Bossie is the president of the conservative group Citizens United. He used to work on Capitol Hill during the 1990s. But nothing could prepare him for this, the Regency Ballroom at the Omni Shoreham hotel in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington, standing at a lectern in front of an audience of thousands of young conservatives—mostly boys, mostly white, a sea of blue blazers and pink jowls interspersed with stolid martial types in uniform—introducing the final, and most anticipated, speaker of the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC.

"Equally important," Bossie is saying, Gingrich "never retreats from confronting tough answers. This, my friend, is leadership." Bossie looks at the crowd, which is standing room only, people tripping over each other to get into this cramped, muggy, shabby ballroom. The kids, with their digital cameras and cell phones, were taking pictures of Gingrich a few minutes before, when he entered from the back of the room and was mobbed like a rock star as he made his way onstage. "Since his time as speaker he's donned many hats: chairman of the Gingrich Group, political analyst for Fox News Channel, bestselling author, among other distinguished credentials," Bossie says. "But perhaps his most important service that he can provide to his country is yet to come."

Click here for the full text of Dave's speech.

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Citizens United in the News

One of McCain's hometown papers, the Business Journal of Phoenix, picked up our dossier on him:

The Citizens United Political Victory Fund is the latest right-wing group to take aim at McCain's record on conservative issues. The Washington group faults McCain for voting against conservative orthodoxy including tax cuts and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and his support for campaign finance reforms, emissions caps aimed at reducing global warming and federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

In Praise of Border Patrol Agents

If the names Compean and Ramos sound familiar, you’ll be appalled but probably not surprised at this AP story from Donna, Texas.

After spotting four bundles of marijuana, totaling 305 pounds, on a river bank near the Rio Grande River, two Border Patrol agents went in for a closer look. They came under fire, and returned it, but their assailants fled to the Mexican shore. This is the second time this year that agents have been shot at in this no man’s land.

The first time was in February 2005, when two different agents, Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, spied a suspicious van near the Texas-Mexican border. The agents gave chase, and when the van stopped on a levee, the driver fled. Ordered to halt, the driver continued to run, and when he eventually paused, he brandished what looked like a gun. The agents fired on him, and hit him in the buttocks.

When the dust settled, the driver, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, turned out to be an illegal immigrant trying to smuggle almost 800 pounds of marijuana into the United States. What’s worse, whereas Aldrete-Davila received immunity to testify against the agents—and is now suing the government for $5 million—the agents are now serving 11 and 12-year prison sentences.

Unlike the Compean-Ramos affair, no one was injured yesterday. But the fact remains that until Congress gets serious about a solution, the pattern of drug-smuggling illegals escaping justice will only get worse.

The reason is painfully obvious: America’s borders are undermanned, and thus invite those to whom the rule of law does not matter to storm our country.

Border Patrol agents risk their lives every day for their country. There is a dirty and difficult business, in the middle of the desert, against impossible odds. Their thankless mission is of the highest importance—to safeguard the homeland—and their repeated successes go unnoticed. Yet when controversy emerges, they become the fall guys. Men like Compean and Ramos, and the agents from yesterday, deserve our deepest gratitude and respect, not a blind eye.

For more on the illegal immigration crisis, check out Border War: The Battle over Illegal Immigration (2006), a film by Citizens United that chronicles the life of a Border Patrol agent, among others, patrolling our southern border.

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Solar Warming

Is global warming now engulfing Mars? Have Jupiter and Pluto caught the cold? Maybe they should adopt the Kyoto Protocol. Click here to listen, or read below, Fred Thompson's rebuttal of yesterday’s congressional testimony by Al “Planetary Emergency” Gore. Fred’s being hysterical, yet his point is anything but.

Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto.

NASA says the Martian South Pole's "ice cap" has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter's caught the same cold, because it's warming up too, like Pluto.

This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle.

Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our SOLAR system have in common. Hmmmm. SOLAR system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn't even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There's a consensus.

Ask Galileo.

© Paul Harvey Show, ABC Radio Networks.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fred Thompson Discusses Current Events

Earlier this morning, radio host Laura Ingraham interviewed our friend, Fred Thompson. Click here to hear the former senator opine, in his down-home Southern drawl, on subjects ranging from Iran (whose meddling in Iraq might cause Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to go nuclear), to the recent firings of eight U.S. attorneys (“A series of inept mistakes”), to his own presidential aspirations (“The response has been great”).

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The Phoniest Scandal of the Century (So Far)

Click here to read the latest column by Dick Morris, with whom I am making a movie about Hillary Clinton.

Dick brings his unique brand of analysis to bear upon the latest non-scandal scandal: the firings of eight U.S. attorneys late last year. His advice to the White House: get up off the mat, dust yourself off, and unapologetically assert that U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president.

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No Emergency Left Behind

The American Conservative Union, the National Taxpayers Union, the Club for Growth and Citizens against Government Waste all rate members of Congress according to each organization's center-right priorities. Citizens United, while a grassroots group, engages in a different type of advocacy: we make movies, file lawsuits, and write dossiers, to name just a few things.

Nonetheless, I'm sure we would support the two "vote alerts" NTU issued today.

The first concerns a sin-tax amendment offered by Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR). "It is rare that I even consider a proposal that raises taxes," Smith assures us (my emphasis). "However," he about-faces, "I have and will vote to support an increase . . . if I believe the cause is just."

To some, punishing smokers may be "just," but to those who believe that the power to tax is the power to destroy—regardless of the victim—it's merely convenient.

The second NTU alert concerns the House supplemental spending bill. Supplementals are excluded from the ordinary budget process, since they're supposed to be for unforeseen emergencies and thus rare. However (to use Senator Smith's telling transition), in recent years, Congress has seized this opportunity of crisis and shamelessly abused it.

Why? Because, under the guise of supporting the troops, members can. Indeed, even though President Bush asked for $105 billion, the House wants to give him an extra $19 billion—for such do-or-die pocket change as $74 million for peanut storage, $100 million for citrus growers, and $16 million to convert the old Food and Drug Administration building in southwest DC into more office space for the Capitol.

Outside the Beltway, this is known as blackmail. Inside the Beltway, it's called the supplemental appropriations process.

Update: Dana Milbank brings his acid tongue to bear on the "emergency" scam ("Senate's Bold Proposal for Iraq: Sugar Beets and Rural Schools—in the U.S."), and Mike Allen proposes a subtitle for the bill: "And Don't Forget Farmers, Shrimpers, NASA and Other Regulars at Uncle Sam’s Buffet."

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The Hillary Ad You've Heard About

Or that you've already seen (as of this posting, it's been viewed more than a million and a half times).

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McCain: "I'm Not Sure What the Club for Growth and I Have Really in Common"

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Citizens United in the News

Dave appeared on today's "Family News in Focus" radio show, to discuss the different standards to which Democrats and Republicans hold themselves.

Listen here or download the MP3 here.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

John McCain Admits That McCain-Feingold Is Unconstitutional

A CUPVF exclusive, from Imus in the Morning, April 28, 2006:

George Will unpacks the logical consequences of McCain's admission.

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Panderer in Chief

John McCain is a panderer. That’s old news. What’s new is the extent to which the self-declared straight-talking maverick is embracing the politics of flip-flopping.

“Immigration is probably a more powerful issue here than almost anyplace that I’ve been,” McCain said after a stop in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Indeed, immigration is so powerful that it’s causing the senator to rethink his so-called principles.

This, in itself, is troubling enough, but when you consider that immigration is so important to McCain that, together with Ted Kennedy, he sponsored a major piece of legislation on it, you wonder what principles McCain really adheres to.

Among other things, McCain-Kennedy would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country. Now, as the Times’s Adam Nagourney reports, after a swing through Iowa— which “has become something of a laboratory for the politics of immigration”—McCain finds himself “open to legislation” requiring illegals to return home before applying for citizenship.

This is not the first time McCain has stuck his foot in his mouth on this issue. In a lengthy profile in last month’s Vanity Fair, he declared, “I think the fence [across the U.S. southern border] is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.”

McCain is running to be America’s Commander in Chief, but perhaps a better title would be Panderer in Chief.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If taxpayers are picking up the bill, they ought to be able to look at the receipt."

—Texas Governor Rick Perry, urging states to adopt their own versions of the Coburn-Obama bill.

See also and the Open House Project.

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The Daily Dose

Meet Bob Levy, the Florida millionaire who conceived and bankrolled the successful lawsuit against the District for its gun ban.

Charles Krauthammer exposes the "limousine liberal hypocrisy" in carbon credits.

Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) reintroduces the Enumerated Powers Act (HR 2458), which would "require Members of Congress to include an explicit statement of Constitutional authority into each bill that is introduced."

John Fund scores an interview with Fred Thompson on the New York set of Law and Order.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

FEC's Dismissal of Complaint against Harry Reid Sends the Wrong Signal

FEC lowers its standards for the powerful

The FEC recently dismissed a complaint filed by Citizens United against Friends of Harry Reid, which alleged that the latter illegally used campaign funds to support staff employed by the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC, where Reid lives.

The FEC’s decision disappoints us.

First, the decision sends the signal that as long as you’re a powerful member of Congress and you only cheat by a few thousand dollars, it’s okay.

Second, the Democrats rode into office on promises of sweeping ethics reform. They assured us they’d clean up Washington. So it’s disappointing that the actions of the Democratic Senate Majority Leader remain uninvestigated. The amount of financial impropriety is not the point. Being above reproach is the point.

Update (3:45 pm): Here's our complaint and here's the AP article on the decision.

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Ingenuity Rebuts Alarmism

The Shaybah oil field in Saudia Arabia

If you listen only to the alarmists, no doubt you think the world is running out of oil. And if opinion journalism hasn’t convinced you otherwise, check out this news article, from earlier this month, in the New York Times. In short, technological advances—i.e., human ingenuity—are making it possible to extract oil that was previously unextractable.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

John McCain Knows Best

Matt Welch, of the LA Times, explores the senator's political philosophy. Excerpt:

McCain’s fondness for government power doesn’t stop there [with McCain-Feingold]. He pushed for the huge airline industry bailouts after September 11. He recently proposed legislation requiring every registered sex offender in the country to report all their active email accounts to law enforcement or face prison. He wants to federalize the oversight of professional boxing. He wants yet more vigor in fighting the War on Meth. He has been active in trying to shut down the “gun show loophole,” which allows private citizens to sell each other guns without conducting background checks. He has lauded Teddy Roosevelt’s fight against the “unrestricted individualism” of the businessman who “injures the future of all of us for his own temporary and immediate profit.”

If you’re beginning to detect a . . . skeptical attitude toward individual choice, you are beginning to understand what kind of president John McCain actually would make, in contrast with the straight-talking maverick that journalists love to quote but rarely examine in depth.

If that's not enough to disabuse you of McCain's limited-government credentials, check out the Club for Growth's recent report. See also CUPVF's dossier (PDF) on why McCain isn't really a conservative.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Snubbed by McCain? You're in Good Company

John McCain has now snubbed four major, recent conservative conferences: (1) the Heritage Foundation’s members’ retreat; (2) the National Review Institute’s conservative summit; (3) CPAC; and (4) the Club for Growth's winter meeting.

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Pardon Libby Now

Presidential pardons and clemencies are vastly underused, and that is a shame. (As Cato’s Gene Healy has observed, “[A]long with the veto, the pardon seems to be the rare executive power that [George W. Bush] is reluctant to use.”)

Happily, the Scooter Libby case presents an opportunity to reverse course.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to probe the alleged leak of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. His investigation yielded no indictments, but he charged Libby for perjury in testimony to a grand jury.

To believe that Libby lied is, essentially, to believe NBC’s Tim Russert, who said he learned of Plame from Libby. Libby says otherwise.

Yet even Russert is guilty of a flawed memory—not dishonesty, just poor recollection. For one, he denied calling a reporter to complain about a story, then apologized when shown the evidence of a call he had simply forgotten.

Similarly, the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus testified that former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer had told him about Plame. Fleischer testified to the contrary.

Neither person is necessarily lying; it’s just that the human memory of such seemingly trivial details is fragile and complex. Ask two eye-witnesses about the same thing they both saw, and you’ll invariably get slightly different stories.

Prosecuting someone for a memory lapse—when even the memory of the key witness (Russert) is in question—constitutes overreaching. Finding that person guilty for same is a mistake. Pardoning him is a necessary corrective. President Bush should do so now.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

The GOP's Missing Candidate

Having appeared in two of our most popular TV ads, Fred Thompson is a friend of ours. The reason: he's a thoroughly Ronald Reagan conservative.

This is crucial, because among the full GOP field, none of candidates can completely lay claim to the Gipper's legacy. Let's hope, therefore, that Thompson's mulling of a presidential bid, reported today by the AP, turns into a candidacy.

A contributor to the RealClearPolitics blog agrees:

My sense is that if you are conservative and were watching Fox News Sunday yesterday, you liked what you saw in former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. My sense is also that if you are a Republican presidential candidate, you didn't.

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Free Advice for Rudy

The latest YouTube video making the rounds shows Rudy Giuliani speaking at a Women's Coalition for Giuliani event. The clip is 17 years old and only 28 seconds, but it contains a sentence that, I suspect, will haunt Rudy's campaign: "There must be public funding for abortions for poor women."

Abortion is a sensitive subject for Rudy, which requires a delicate balancing act. For instance, he once supported late-term abortion. He now opposes it. Will he now also flip-flop on taxpayer-funded abortions? How about the global gag rule?

Whatever he does, one thing is crucial: how he responds to the response. Even though the video was uploaded yesterday, as of this writing, it's already been viewed 71,334 times. That's a considerable number, and Rudy's silence will only generate further skepticism and confusion.

My advice: take a page from Mitt Romney's communications shop. When potentially devastating video of the then-moderate governor's 1994 debate with Ted Kennedy surfaced on YouTube last month, within hours "GovMittRomney" had uploaded a response, showing Romney on the phone discussing the video with a reporter.

In one swift and sharp swoop, Team Romney avoided another macacca moment, and the resulting stories highlighted the push back instead of the controversy.

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CUPVF's Wiretap Ad

YouTube recently removed CUPVF's Wiretap ad, which premiered in October 2006 on Hannity and Colmes. After several e-mail exchanges, "Elizabeth" from "the YouTube Team" explained:

I cannot disclose why our staff chose to remove this video, but it was likely because in our Terms of Use it states that you cannot publish falsehoods or misrepresentations that could damage YouTube or any third party. Your video did not provide any information regarding where you found the material for your Wiretap video, and it may be construed as slanderous without this information.

A colleague tells me that YouTube is known for deleting conservative videos, but it took firsthand experience for me to believe it.

Fortunately, the Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network, to which I just uploaded the ad, isn't so politically correct, and you can judge for yourself. Is this slanderous?

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The Daily Dose

George Will points out the good in the GOP's three frontrunners.

Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley becomes the third high-level official to lose his job over the Walter Reed scandal.

The NYT reports that in the months before announcing his presidential bid, Mitt Romney generously opened his wallet to various conservative groups, some of which had previously criticized him.

Time magazine blasts Vice President Cheney in this week's cover story. I liked the old Time better, when its editors focused on reporting the news instead of making it.

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Chuck Hagel: What Went Wrong?

As I drove to work this morning, I was eager to hear Chuck Hagel's much-anticipated announcement on whether he will run for president. Ever since I saw him rout Joe Lieberman on Meet the Press, I've been a big fan.

Indeed, the senior senator from Nebraska boasts an 85.2 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. According to Congressional Quarterly, he voted with the White House more times in 2006 than any other senator. And he earned two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, where a mine blew out his eardrums and delivered a sharp burn up the left side of his head.

This is why Hagel's non-announcement announcement—that he won't make a decision until "later this year"—was so disappointing. In fact, it was downright bizarre.

Clearly, he has yet to make up his mind, which is fine. But surely postponement would have been better than publicizing such indecision in such a high-profile way. A commander-in-chief must be resolute, not vacillating. This is not leadership.

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Rudy's Pander-Free Leadership

Various explanations have been offered as to Rudy Giuliani’s strong standing among Christian conservatives. Polls are unreliable. People only know the 9/11 Rudy, not the 9/10 Rudy. His name recognition is huge.

But I think the most convincing explanation comes from Zev Chafets, author of the new book, A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man’s Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance:

In the end, Giuliani’s differences with the GOP’s social conservatives will probably win him their respect. What kind of commander-in-chief would he be, after all, if they can bully him into embracing fake pieties?

Indeed, for the religious right, 9/11 and the war on terror both loom large. War may not be enough to make a religionist pull the level for someone who supports taxpayer-funded abortions, but it’s enough to make a religionist give Rudy a second look.

And as that second look begins, the first thing voters consider is, inevitably, 9/11. 9/11 was the single worst day in America’s history, and no one is more associated with hope during this nadir than Rudy. Why? Because Rudy is leadership. Not in the Obama-Bill Clinton way of endless debate, but in the Churchillian way of being decisive.

This is not to say that Rudy acts from instinct, but that, as George W. Bush put it in running for re-election, You may disagree with me, but you know where I stand. This is the polar opposite of pandering, and today, when politics means pandering, such integrity elicits respect.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

The Daily Dose

MSNBC uncovers Hillary's college thesis.

Who is Mike Huckabee? Salon's Michael Scherer investigates.

Who is Rudy Giuliani? Stephen Rodrick of New York Magazine investigates.

George Soros buys a $60 million stake in Halliburton.

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BREAKING: DC Handgun Ban Overturned

Gun-owning DC residents have long been denied their Second Amendment rights. Today, however, a federal appeals court breathed new life into the Constitution and repealed the district's unconstitutional ban on handguns.

Here's the early AP article (via

In a two-to-one decision, the court rejected the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

A lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection. . . .

If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in almost 70 years to address the Second Amendment's scope.

For more, see this post by Michelle Malkin.

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Scooter and Sandy

Those skeptical about the bias of Big Media probably haven't read Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby. Jacoby has an exquisite radar for discerning the imbalance with which the press cover certain sensationalist stories.

My first encounter with these juxtapositions was "A Tale of Two Stories about Anti-Semitism," wherein Jacoby contrasts the little-noticed incident of a Muslim gunman's premeditated assault on a prominent Jewish institution with Mel Gibson's now-infamous drunken tirade—both of which occurred on the same day.

More recently, Jacoby pitted the firestorm about faggot-gate against the pass given to Bill Mahrer for seconding those who applauded the attempted assassination of Vice President Cheney.

My suggestion for Jacoby's next column: the deluge over the Scooter Libby trial vs. the trickle over the Sandy Berger affair. The former came down to the old saw that the cover-up is worse than the (alleged) crime, whereas the latter amounted to "one of the most brazen violations of classified material in our lifetimes."

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Citizens United on YouTube

I'm in the process of creating a YouTube account, but I couldn't wait to share the trailers for our four documentaries:

ACLU: At War with America (2006)

Border War: The Battle over Illegal Immigration (2006)

Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60 (2005)

Celsius 41.11 (2004)

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

Visas before Visas

Money and morality have always been in tension, yet one hopes that, every once a while, principles trump pocketbooks.

This is not the case with Bank of America, which, following the precedent set by Citibank, recently announced a pilot program issuing credit cards to Spanish-speaking immigrants who may not have Social Security numbers (SSN). Instead, the Bank now asks for either an ID provided by the Mexican Consulate to its citizens or an Individual Taxpayers Identification Number issued by the IRS.

The Bank says the program is not aimed at illegal immigrants, yet those without an SSN are most often here illegally. This is not a coincidence but a deliberate business decision. Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, which originally reported this story, the Bank’s 51 test branches in Los Angeles County are home to the largest concentration of illegals in the U.S.

In other words, Bank of America views illegal immigrants not as lawbreakers but as customers. America is in the throes of an immigration crisis, yet Bank of America chooses to perpetuate the problem by rewarding those who consider themselves above the law. The end game is obvious: as Steven Camakrota of the Center for Immigration Studies observes, it makes “amnesty a fait accompli.”

Such effrontery is to be expected from those who storm our borders under the cover of darkness, but it is particularly disturbing when a towering American corporation sides with this crowd rather than its counterparts who have waited in long lines and completed unending paperwork in order to enter America legally.

Fortunately, there is hope, and her name is Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). On Monday, Mrs. Blackburn introduced the Photo Identification Security Act, which requires U.S. financial institutions to accept only secure forms of identification, such as a Social Security card in conjunction with a state or federal ID, a passport, or a Citizenship and Immigration Services photo ID.

In a word, Blackburn’s bill reverses a corrupt trend: one must now obtain a visa before one is eligible for a Visa.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

John McCain: Not Our Standard-Bearer

XXAs politicians begin exploring 2008 presidential campaigns, conservatism is at a crossroads. Our dilemma: Will the GOP nominate a Republican in name only who we think is most likely to win a general election, or will we remain loyal to our core principles—even if it means losing the White House?

The man at the center of this debate is Sen. John McCain of Arizona. John McCain is a good man. He is a war hero. He is a distinguished senator in his fourth term—re-elected in 2004 with 77% of the vote. His media appeal is the envy of politicians on both sides of the aisle.

But our nominee needs to be someone who not only inspires us, but also shares our values and principles. After analyzing his views and votes, one thing is clear: Despite his much-heralded recent makeover, John McCain is not a conservative.

How can he on one hand reference Ronald Reagan in stump speeches to bolster his conservative credentials, and on the other hand thwart myriad conservative issues in the Senate to cement his status as a maverick?

How could he have invited Tom Daschle, the incoming Democratic Senate Majority Leader, to his home to discuss switching parties in 2001, and now want to be the Republican standard-bearer?

How could have run for president in 2000 by vituperating Christian conservatives, and now portray himself as our long lost friend?

As Glenn Frankel, of the Washington Post, has observed, “However much he courts the base, it will never be enough to allay the suspicions of diehard opponents on the right, who loathe what the National Review’s Rich Lowry calls McCain’s ‘richly layered history of apostasy.’” To wit, on issue after issue, John McCain is all-too-willing to compromise on conservatism.

Consider campaign finance regulations, which is McCain’s signature issue and thus epitomizes his political worldview. As even the senator himself has conceded, banning political speech in the run-up to an election violates the First Amendment. Yet McCain believes there is a higher good than the Constitution—the purported purity of the political process—to be enforced by that instrument of incorruptibility: Government itself. Never mind that McCain has taken millions of dollars from the corrupting “special interests” that he decries. It seems voters are just supposed to trust that John McCain, rather than we the people, knows what’s best.

Similarly, McCain believes that politicians like him know better than taxpayers how to spend hard-earned tax dollars. In 2001, he was one of only two Republican senators to vote against a trillion dollars in tax relief, and in 2003, he was one of only three to do it again.

McCain’s plight only worsens on social issues. He favors federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. He supports Roe v. Wade. He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Together with liberal lion Ted Kennedy, he sponsored legislation granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. These are the positions of an independent, not a conservative.

Nor is McCain a friend of the Second Amendment. During the 2002 election cycle, he appeared in ads in Colorado and Oregon for ballot propositions requiring background checks in order to buy a gun. According to Americans for Gun Safety, a group that advocates gun control, his support for a similar amendment to a federal bill was “critical” in the amendment’s passage.

Then there’s his refusal, at a time when energy demand is rapidly rising and supply is diminishing, to allow drilling for oil and gas in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge. Couple that with his anti-growth global warming legislation—which 60 senators voted against—and McCain’s environmental bona fides are strong—for a Democrat.

Conservatives understand that John McCain is now pandering to us, in the hope that we will minimize his past apostasy. But the apostasy isn’t just in the past—it’s in the very fiber of his character. Conservatives deserve a standard-bearer who is completely committed to a conservative agenda, not one who just mouths its slogans. In other words, we want an heir to Ronald Reagan.

The 2008 presidential nomination is our last chance to recapture and reorient the GOP. Shame on us if we hand this crisis to an opportunist like John McCain.

David N. Bossie is the president of the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, a political action committee dedicated to electing Ronald Reagan conservatives. This op-ed is based on CUPVF's recent report, “He’s No Ronald Reagan: Why Conservatives Should Not Vote for John McCain.”

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A One-Man Think Tank Who Enjoys Rolling Up His Sleeves

On Saturday, March 3, Dave introduced Newt Gingrich at the 34th annual Conservative Political Action Conference. The text of his speech is below.

Thank you very much.

Most of us here know Newt Gingrich as a longtime conservative voice in the mold of Ronald Reagan. As the architect of the 1994 legislative platform, the Contract with America, he placed the House of Representatives in Republican hands for the first time in 40 years.

I had the distinct honor and privilege of working with Speaker Gingrich while I was the Chief Investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, and with his support we conducted an unfettered investigation to hold the Clinton Administration accountable.

Our familiarity with Speaker Gingrich’s accomplishments does not diminish their magnitude: under his leadership, and standing toe to toe against the Clinton Administration, Congress reformed welfare, passed the first balanced budget in a generation, and gave the American people much-deserved and much-delayed tax relief.

In short, Speaker Gingrich served as our conservative compass, believing that government should be limited, government should be effective, and government should be accountable.

Newt Gingrich is both a big thinker and a bold doer, a one-man think tank who enjoys rolling up his sleeves. His blend of idealism and practicality makes him a peerless source for ideas that are invariably innovative and fresh. His unique ability to jumpstart debate and to challenge the status quo is exactly what the movement needs today.

Since the speaker left professional politics in 1999, his absence has been sorely felt. But he never retired his passion for problem solving. In the mold of other great visionaries, he has continued to ask, What can we do to make America better?

Whether it’s strengthening our national security and intelligence gathering agencies, reforming the United Nations, or transforming entitlement programs, Newt Gingrich never stops asking the tough questions. Equally important, he never retreats from confronting the tough answers.

This, my friends, is leadership.

Since his time as speaker, he has donned many hats: chairman of the Gingrich Group, political analyst for the Fox News Channel, best-selling author, among many other distinguished credentials.

But perhaps the most important service he can provide to his country is yet to come. The evidence: a recent straw poll conducted by Citizens United, asking our supporters who they would vote for if the Republican presidential nomination were held tomorrow. The winner— among more than 2,500 participants, with 31% of the vote—was an undeclared candidate, Newt Gingrich, the choice of conservatives to be our next President of the United States.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming, the 58th Speaker of the House of Representatives and champion of our conservative movement, Newt Gingrich.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

President Hillary Clinton's National Security Adviser?

Lanny Breuer, one of Bill Clinton’s lawyers during the president’s impeachment trial, is a sharp lawyer and a shrewd pr man. So, I don’t know how he kept a straight face when he gave the following quote to the Washington Post regarding his client, Sandy Berger:

“It never ceases to amaze me how the most trivial things can be politicized. It is the height of unfairness . . . for this poor guy, who clearly made a mistake.”

“Trivial” is one way to describe the unbelievably brazen and illegal act of stealing highly classified documents from the National Archives. “Reckless” and “criminal” are more accurate.

As Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics observes, “Bill Clinton’s former National Security Advisor went into the Archives to review documents at the former President’s request, stuffed a number of reports and memos with information of potential value to the 9/11 commission down his pants, took them home and shredded them, and he’s now being defended by a lawyer from Clinton’s White House Counsel office who tells us ‘it is the height of unfairness’ to want to know the truth about what Berger took and why he took it.”

What’s really trivial in this scandal is Berger’s slap-on-the-wrist sentence: a $50,000 fine, some community service, and probation. Equally unbelievable is that the Justice Department failed to administer a polygraph, despite the test’s inclusion in the plea bargain that Berger signed. The Justice Department has a lot to answer for and should be forced to disclose why it has not followed the court’s order.

Furthermore, since Berger loses his security clearance for only three years, he could very well be our next national security adviser if Hillary Clinton becomes president. And since that is now a very real possibility, honesty demands that Mrs. Clinton longer remain silent about Bergergate.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

The Super Bowl Ad the NFL Didn't Want You to See

Americans like me, who love football almost as much we love our country, will be outraged to learn that the NFL refused to run a recruitment ad from the Border Patrol in this year’s Super Bowl program.

Said Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, “[T]he immigration debate is a very controversial issue, and we were sensitive to any perception we were injecting ourselves into that.”

Never mind that the upcoming NBA All Star Game and the NCAA Final Four have both accepted the ad—excuse me, “injected” themselves. Or that it’s particularly important at this time for the ad to reach a wide audience, since President Bush has promised to increase the size of the Border Patrol, from 9,000 to 12,000 agents, in fiscal year 2008 alone.

The NFL’s real reluctance derives from a craven wish to avoid offense, especially vis-à-vis its growing fan base of Hispanics. “The game was in Miami,” Aiello told ABC News, “where [immigration] is a sensitive political issue ... [It] made us a little bit uncomfortable.”

But what exactly about the ad would make someone uncomfortable? That it asks for “the right men and women to help protect America’s southwest borders”? That it cites duties like preventing “the entry of terrorists and their weapons,” blocking “unlawful entry of undocumented aliens” and “stopping drug smuggling”? Perhaps that it avoids controversy by sidestepping subjects like amnesty, a guest-worker program or legalization?

Whatever the rationalization, chalk this up as yet another instance of political correctness run amok.

Update: See also this article in the Hill about Congressman Tom Tancredo's (R-CO) letter to the NFL commissioner.

Update: In case you missed it, Dave appeared on Fox and Friends on Sunday. Calling the NFL's position "disingenuous," he said the organization owes the Border Patrol an apology.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Most Anti-Abortion, Pro-Choice President

“I oppose it. I don’t like it. I hate it. I think abortion is something, as a personal matter, I would advise somebody against. However, I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that, and I think ultimately you have to leave that to a disagreement of conscience. You have to respect the choice that somebody makes.”

So said Rudy Giuliani last week in reference to abortion. But as was once said in another context, Mr. Mayor, Does your ass hurt from straddling the fence so much?

To be sure, one can support X (say, legalizing marijuana, as does National Review) while personally opposing its use. But as Giuliani himself admitted, he doesn’t merely “oppose” abortion—he “hates” it.

Hmm. How can you “respect” (Giuliani’s word) something you “hate”?

Indeed, if the former mayor hates abortion as much as he asserts, then how he possibly have sanctioned such a gruesome practice as partial-birth abortion?

As Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, puts it, a politician who personally believes abortion is wrong but who refuses to ban it, is more repugnant than someone whom abortion does not morally trouble in the first place.

This paradox takes on even greater significance when you factor in Giuliani’s promise to appoint judges who would almost certainly repeal Roe v. Wade: “What I do say to conservatives,” Giuliani told Sean Hannity, is that “the appointment of judges that I would make would be very similar to, if not exactly the same as the last two [Supreme Court] judges,” John Roberts and Sam Alito.

In other words, Giuliani is pledging to be the most anti-abortion, pro-choice president.

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