Conservative Wanderer

“A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.” — Ronald Wilson Reagan

AP: If It’s Not New York, It Must Be “South.”

Looks like the Associated Press has some problems comprehending modern American geography:

The AP, today: “With Sen. Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democrats, the Republican Party is increasingly at risk of being viewed as a mostly Southern and solidly conservative party, an identity that might take years to overcome.”

<snip>

Even in their shrunken minority, Republicans hold 19 House seats in California, eight in Ohio, seven in Michigan, seven in Illinois, seven in Pennsylvania, five in New Jersey, five in Missouri, three in Minnesota, three in New York, three in Washington state, and the one seat in Delaware.

And it works in the reverse, too — Democrats actually represent more House seats in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia and North Carolina than Republicans. Neither party is as regional as conventional wisdom suggests.

What the GOP does have is a New England/New York problem, holding only three House seats in New York state.

Sorry, AP, I don’t think Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Michigan are “south.”

And if you include governors in the mix, the AP looks even more clueless. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont are hardly “southern” states, yet all three are led by Republicans. And Democrats hold the governorship in such southern states as Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

But the AP never lets the facts get in the way of a good smear against the GOP.

Another Democrat Not Embracing Specter

Uh-oh, poor Arlen Specter can’t get no respect in either party.

JOE SESTAK: The question is, what’s he running for? He also, somehow, failed to use his leadership to shape the Republican party to be towards what he believes in.  So he’s now going to shape the Democratic party? So the final analysis is, would he have done this if an election wasn’t pending? Because we in Pennsylvania tend not to want to have something that has to do with politics, but about what the future’s about rather than legacy.

Sestak makes a very good point… Arlen didn’t jump ship until it became clear that he was going to lose in the GOP primary, and he did so quite soon after that fact became clear. A more obvious case of trying desperately to save one’s own skin would be hard to find.

Update: One question for the pseudo-conservatives who’ve been heaping scorn upon Pat Toomey for having the audacity to (gasp!) run against our Republican stalwart Arlen Specter (sarcasm off). Will you also be denouncing those Democrats like Mr. Sestak who are apparently getting ready to contest the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, or is your approbation reserved only for those in the party you claim as your own even as you oppose many of the core principles of said party?

Just curious.

Specter Switches Parties

So, most folks know by now, Arlen Specter, Senator of Pennsylvania, is switching from the GOP to the Democrats.

Good friggin’ riddance.

First off, let’s be clear. Specter is no Reaganite conservative. His lifetime ACU rating is 44.47… that means he took the conservative position less than half the time he spent in the Senate. His 2008 score is even lower, at 42.

Second, Specter is a hypocrite. When Jim Jeffords did the same thing in 2001, Specter called for a Senate rule to forbid the very thing Specter is now doing himself.

I intend to propose a rule change which would preclude a future recurrence of a Senator’s change in parties, in midsession, organizing with the opposition, to cause the upheaval which is now resulting.

I take second place to no one on independence voting. But, it is my view that the organizational vote belongs to the party which supported the election of a particular Senator. I believe that is the expectation. And certainly it has been a very abrupt party change, although they have occurred in the past with only minor ripples, none have caused the major dislocation which this one has.

Third, his claim in his press release that the GOP has moved too far to the right is laughable. The reason the GOP is in trouble is because they have become “Democrat-Lite,” following the pattern of the lefties in spending and expansion of entitlements under Mr. Bush.

Arlen Specter moving to the Democrats is really just him moving to the party that embodies what he believes, and at least he has the intestinal fortitude to do so. I hereby applaud his honesty, and can’t wait for Pat Toomey to return Specter to private life where he’ll have to live under the laws he’s helped pass.

Update: Oh, Specter is also a liar. In an interview with Newsweek published on 9 April 2009 (yep, about a month and a half ago), he said (emphasis in original):

Newsweek: Would you consider running as an independent.

Specter: No.

Newsweek: No? Definitely not?

Specter: I’m a Republican and I’m going to run in the Republican primary and on the Republican ticket.

Also, as Jim Geraghty points out:

Arlen Specter has made the right decision to win reelection right now; the problem is, he doesn’t face the voters right now. He faces Democratic voters in May 2010, and he faces Pennsylvanians as a whole in November 2010. Right now, being a Democrat and being affiliated with President Obama is a winning hand in Keystone State politics. Today, Arlen Specter bet his next term that the political environment won’t change significantly in the next 18 months.

We will see. But it is very, very rare for a political environment to remain in stasis for an 18-month period.

Indeed. And if economic conditions continue to deteriorate, as many very smart people believe they will, Specter may have just made the blunder that will cost him his cushy Senate seat.

Update II: Gee, looks like not everyone on the left will be welcoming Specter with open arms… at least not Jonathan Chait at The New Republic:

When a politician switches parties, it’s customary for the party he’s abandoned to denounce him as an unprincipled hack, and the party he’s joined to praise him as a brave convert who’s genuinely seen the light. But I think it’s pretty clear that Specter is an unprincipled hack. If his best odds of keeping his Senate seat lay in joining the Communist party, he’d probably do that.

To be sure, Specter is a real moderate on some issues, but his contortions are so comical that no principled read on his actions is very plausible. Specter favored the Employee Free Choice Act favored by labor, turned against it when he faced a primary challenge, and then abandoned his party altogether when it became clear he couldn’t win his primary. In the meantime, he came out in favor of a Hooverite spending freeze after backing the stimulus bill.

Even though Chait doesn’t come right out and say it, though he hints at it in the second paragraph above, Specter is no more a safe vote for the Democrats than he ever was for the GOP. He is at his core a wishy-washy wet-your-finger-and-stick-it-in-the-air weathervane of a politician. Hope the Democrats are ready to deal with that.

Democrats And The Culture Of Corruption, Part Five

This time it’s a governor: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

State Attorneys General regularly hire private plaintiffs lawyers on a contingency-fee basis to prosecute cases. The trial bar returns the favor with campaign donations to state office holders. And despite the inherent conflicts of interest and questionable ethics of the practice, corporate defendants have rarely challenged such arrangements. Which is why a motion pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is so remarkable — and deserves more public attention.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the state of Pennsylvania over Janssen’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The state alleges that Janssen has improperly marketed the drug for off-label uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Janssen denies the accusation, but the merits of the case — which hasn’t gone to trial yet — are not what’s at issue in the motion before the court.

Rather, what’s at issue is the fact that the civil action against Janssen is being prosecuted on behalf of the state by Bailey, Perrin & Bailey, a Houston law firm. And it turns out that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s Office of General Counsel was negotiating this potentially lucrative no-bid contingency fee contract with Bailey Perrin at the same time that the firm’s founding partner, F. Kenneth Bailey, was making repeated campaign contributions totaling more than $90,000 to the Democratic Governor’s 2006 re-election bid.

(emphasis added)

I guess Democrats really have lots of experience with a “culture of corruption.”

Good Question

Mike Wallace of Fox News Sunday inquires of Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who supports trying Bush administration officials for “war crimes”:

WALLACE: Senator Levin, let me just present a hypothetical to you. What if the next president decides that President Obama, in the decision he has made to continue these drone attacks over Pakistan, where they fire missiles on Al Qaida operatives and also innocent civilians — what if the next president decides that that is a war crime? Should he go ahead and prosecute the Obama team?

As I said before, once you open this particular can of worms, it’s not gonna be easy to get them back into the can. Are ya listening, Senator Levin?

Clinton: We’re Not Abandoning Iraq

From the Credit Where Credit Is Due File:

BAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday assured Iraq that the Obama administration would not abandon the country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence.

Clinton, on an unannounced trip to Baghdad, said the drawdown would be handled in a “responsible and careful way” and would not affect efforts to improve the professionalism of Iraq’s security forces or reconstruction and development projects that are to be expanded.

I gotta admit, this is much better than what we heard in the Democratic primaries, where both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama seemed to just want to leave Iraq to flounder.

An Equitable Discussion Of “Enhanced Interrogations”

For those who want to read a discussion of the enhanced interrogation/torture issue that’s fair to both sides, check out this article in National Journal:

“A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals,” President Obama said on April 16, “and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.”

But is it really a false choice? It’s certainly tempting to think so. The fashionable assumption that coercive interrogation (up to and including torture) never saved a single life makes it easy to resolve what otherwise would be an agonizing moral quandary.

The same assumption makes it even easier for congressional Democrats, human-rights activists, and George W. Bush-hating avengers to call for prosecuting and imprisoning the former president and his entire national security team, including their lawyers. The charge: approving brutal methods — seen by many as illegal torture — that were also blessed, at least implicitly, by Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker, and other Intelligence Committee members in and after 2002.

But there is a body of evidence suggesting that brutal interrogation methods may indeed have saved lives, perhaps a great many lives — and that renouncing those methods may someday end up costing many, many more.

Read the whole thing. Really. Unless you’re a hyper-partisan who believes that anything any Democrat says must be the absolute truth and anything any Republican says must be the most vulgar lie imaginable. Myself, I prefer to find the truth regardless of which party it helps.

The Political Memory Hole

Former CIA Director and House Intelligence Committee Chairman (and he was in that latter post during the time around the 9/11 attacks, which is relevant) Porter J. Goss has apparently had enough of his Congressional colleagues’ conveniently faulty memories:

A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation’s intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.

Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:

– The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.

– We understood what the CIA was doing.

– We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.

– We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.

– On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.

I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues. They did not vote to stop authorizing CIA funding. And for those who now reveal filed “memorandums for the record” suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately — to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president’s national security adviser — and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted. And shifted they have.

Circuses are not new in Washington, and I can see preparations being made for tents from the Capitol straight down Pennsylvania Avenue. The CIA has been pulled into the center ring before. The result this time will be the same: a hollowed-out service of diminished capabilities. After Sept. 11, the general outcry was, “Why don’t we have better overseas capabilities?” I fear that in the years to come this refrain will be heard again: once a threat — or God forbid, another successful attack — captures our attention and sends the pendulum swinging back.

As always, it’s the cover-up that really gets the miscreants in trouble… if Her Speakerness Nancy Pelosi had come clean about being briefed about these techniques, we probably would be having this kerfuffle now… but then she couldn’t use these same techniques that she approved, at least tacitly, to smear an administration that is no longer in power.

I guess now we know what is really important to Madame Pelosi and a large number of her Democratic friends.

More Taxes For Your Grocery Shopping Trip

It’s not a joke, one lawmaker wants to tax plastic grocery bags:

US Rep Jim Moran, who co-sponsored the bottle deposit bill, also introduced on April 22 the Plastic Bag Reduction Act of 2009 which would place a 5 cent fee on grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, take-out food bags, retail bags and service station bags, starting January 1.

Under the proposal, that fee would escalate to 25 cents starting January 1, 2015.

Once again, government is removing choice, even the minor choice of “paper or plastic.”

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