David Kirkpatrick

November 4, 2010

GOP establishment v. Tea Party movement

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:24 pm

Not hard to predict, and now it begins …

From today’s Playbook:

RECRIMINATIONS: WHY REPUBLICANS DON’T CONTROL THE SENATE -Jonathan Martin and Manu Raju: “With tea party-backed candidates going down in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, depriving Republicans of what would have been a 50-50 Senate, a bloc of prominent senators and operatives said party purists like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had foolishly pushed nominees too conservative to win … Movement conservatives pointed the finger right back at the establishment, accusing the National Republican Senatorial Committee of squandering millions on a California race that wasn’t close … ‘Candidates matter,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). ‘It was a good night for Republicans but it could have been a better one. We left some on the table. … If you think what happened in Delaware is “a win” for the Republican Party, then we don’t have a snowball’s chance to win the White House. … If you think Delaware was a wake-up call for Republicans, then we have shot at doing well for a long time.’

“Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott put it plainly: ‘We did not nominate our strongest candidates.’ Had Republicans run Castle in Delaware and establishment favorites Sue Lowden in Nevada and Jane Norton in Colorado, Lott said, … ‘we would have won and been sitting at 50.’ … Another high-profile senator [placed] the blame … at the feet of Graham’s South Carolina colleague, DeMint. … ‘It’s like you’re on the five-yard line ready to score and the quarterback calls the play and some member of your team tackles one of your members and keeps you from scoring. … We came tantalizingly close to a majority … I’m completely mystified by it.”http://bit.ly/br1xoW

Update 11/5/10 — Peggy Noonan piles on.

October 26, 2010

We’re getting pretty close to “angry mob”

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:51 am

When political civility breaks down to the point middle-age adult men are physically assaulting a woman (and assaulting in a fairly cowardly way if you ask me), we have a serious polity problem on our hands. All the rage and anger of certain media factions has clearly whipped up something beyond normal political passions in parts of the electorate. This has happened in many places and many times in history and it’s never pretty.

Here’s more about the video.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

Update — More on this incident from Rand Paul’s camp.

From the update link:

“The Paul for Senate campaign is extremely disappointed in, and condemns the actions of a supporter last night outside the KET debate,” the statement reads. “Whatever the perceived provocation, any level of aggression or violence is deplorable, and will not be tolerated by our campaign. The Paul campaign has disassociated itself from the volunteer who took part in this incident, and once again urges all activists — on both sides — to remember that their political passions should never manifest themselves in physical altercations of any kind.”

Update II — The courage and couth challenged perpetrator in the video has been IDed — Tim Profitt, a volunteer campaign coordinator for Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul. Paul has ended Profitt’s volunteer status and banned him from campaign events.

Update III (10/27/10) — And sometimes the stupid just dig in deeper

From the Update III link:

Tim Profitt — the former Rand Paul volunteer who stomped on the head of a MoveOn activist — told told local CBS station WKYT that he wants an apology from the woman he stomped and that she started the whole thing.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Profitt said. “I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you.”

“She’s a professional at what she does,” Profitt added, “and I think when all the facts come out, I think people will see that she was the one that initiated the whole thing.”

 

July 17, 2010

The Tea Party is …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:21 pm

… to 60s vintage hippies as the neocon movement was to post-WWII pinkos.

July 16, 2010

Jonah Goldberg and cogent arguments …

… are mutually exclusive.

This is a very interesting take at Reason on where libertarianism is heading. It features three essays:

  • (Reason) Contributing Editor Brink Lindsey is vice president for research at the Cato Institute. He writes from the libertarian perspective stating libertarians need a clean break from the conservative political movement.
  • Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Goldberg argues libertarianism should retain and seek out ties to the conservative movement.
  • Matt Kibbe is president of FreedomWorks. He makes the argument the Tea Party movement is a libertarian movement.

It’s a long read for online content, but certainly worth the time if you are interested in libertarianism and are curious how to reconcile today’s political climate in the United States with a fiscally conservative/socially liberal stance.

The extended title refers to Goldberg’s essay. He’s certainly no intellectual heavyweight (or even light middleweight for that matter) and almost exclusively falls back on talking points from up on high and straw men in both his short- and long-form writing. This contribution to Reason did not disappoint on that measure.

To keep this short I’ll just point out one particularly egregious example.

Here’s Goldberg from graf six:

For starters, why should libertarianism be so hostile to culturally conservative values? Isn’t libertarianism about freedom, including the freedom to live conservatively if that’s what people choose?

Er, Jonah, libertarianism is not hostile to conservative values in the least and certainly all people should have the freedom to live conservatively, or not, if they choose. The problem comes when conservative values become the law of the land through bad policy. When this happens all people don’t have the opportunity to live as they choose. Only conservatives are permitted that right.

So it pays to remember, and to be intellectually honest, in recognizing there is a huge difference in being hostile to conservative values and hostile to conservative laws. Libertarians tend to dislike the heavy hand of the state in all spheres of influence. The free market for sure, but just as much in the free mind and body.

May 11, 2010

US tax bill at lowest level in 60 years

Kinda punches a few holes in that whole “Obama is out to get everything you own” meme floating around the not-so-rational right.

From the link:

Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman‘s presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.

Some conservative political movements such as the “Tea Party” have criticized federal spending as being out of control. While spending is up, taxes have fallen to exceptionally low levels.

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

“The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts,” says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress. The real problem is spending,counters Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks, which organizes Tea Party groups. “The money we borrow is going to be paid back through taxation in the future,” he says.

February 22, 2010

Greenwald on the Tea Party movement and GOP

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:07 pm

Glenn Greenwald certainly sees a lot more libertarian-minded purity in the Tea Party movement than I do. As a little “L” libertarian watching the movement from afar I see a lot of doctrinaire GOP ideals in Tea Party rhetoric and a whole lot of christianist nannyism to boot.

He does make a very salient point about the disconnect between what the Tea Partiers are purportedly for and what the Republican Party stands for.

From the link:

But that GOP limited government rhetoric is simply never matched by that Party’s conduct, especially when they wield power.  The very idea that a political party dominated by neocons, warmongers, surveillance fetishists, and privacy-hating social conservatives will be a party of “limited government” is absurd on its face.  There literally is no myth more transparent than the Republican Party’s claim to believe in restrained government power.  For that reason, it’s only a matter of time before the fundamental incompatibility of the “tea party movement” and the political party cynically exploiting it is exposed.

February 6, 2010

I’ll bet the GOP media machine …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:02 pm

… wished it’d never tried to co opt the Tea Party movement. And I also bet most Tea Partiers wish Joseph Farah didn’t consider himself an ally of the movement.

Reminds me of an old libertarian joke I blogged about a couple of years ago:

There’s really no libertarian blueprint. That much is clear if you take even a sidelong glance at the big-L Libertarian Party. It’s full of all manner of cranks, malcontents, isolationists, druggies, tax dodgers and then a whole lot of otherwise average people who just want the government to stay out of their way.

I don’t participate in any party activities for a variety of reasons, most importantly I don’t think the Libertarian Party is honestly serious enough to achieve any real policy goals.

Here is a paraphrase of a common joke among party participants — I’ve read this somewhere, but can’t recall where. Maybe on Wendy McElroy’s blog.

(This block quote is just the joke, not a quote from anyone’s blog)

First time Libertarian Party meeting participant, “Oh my god, look at that table of Nazis!”

Old vet, “Yep, there’s always at least one.”

First-timer, “What? Nazis?”

Vet, “Nope, someone who bitches about ‘em.”

The Tea Party …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:53 am

on a national level has jumped the proverbial shark. (And yes, using “jump the shark” is meant to be that snarky.)

On the other hand, I’m looking forward to an honest-to-goodness libertarian movement.

And to give my first linked post due, the charade in Nashville is not the entirety of the Tea Party movement, but it is the current brand. And that will be a stink that’s pretty hard to wash off.

February 5, 2010

Is the Tea Party movement heading toward third party status?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:06 pm

Cato’s John Samples thinks so. To me the Tea Party movement feels much more nativist/conservative than it does libertarian. For some reason, for years now people seem to love to call themselves libertarian. Several years ago a friend of mine who is a pretty doctrinaire liberal — he once said at a gathering he felt he didn’t pay enough taxes (!!?!!) — considered himself a libertarian. So I think there’s a lot of confusion out there on just what makes one a libertarian. Particularly when separating Republicans from libertarians.

From everything I’ve read, the Tea Partiers talk a pretty good fiscal conservative line, but a great number also talk a very strong social conservative line as well. If that doesn’t define your basic small-tent GOPer, nothing does. And setting the Tea Party rhetoric aside there is quite the disconnect between what the movement purports to believe in, and what it seems to actually support.

The easiest example is government spending on health care: Tea Partiers are vehemently against health care reform, or what has been framed as “Obamacare,” but at the same time want Medicare — quite the “socialist” medical care program by Tea Party definition — left alone. Either you are against government involvement with health care or not. The existing hypocrisy sounds more like Baby Boomer-aged Tea Partiers who are just fine with government subsidized health care as long as they are the recipients of all that government largess.

Needless to say, Samples sees a purity in the Tea Party movement that just isn’t there.

Here’s Samples’ take from the link way up there in the first graf:

It is not Republican; it is not even conservative. It has no interest in debating the merits of No Child Left Behind, abstinence-only sex education or George W. Bush’s rationale for going to Iraq. Replacing a “spend and borrow” Democrat with a “spend and borrow” Republican is not the goal of the Tea Party movement.

This movement is simply saying: “We are fine without you, Washington. Now for the love of God, go attend a reception somewhere, and stop making health care and entrepreneurship more expensive than they already are.”

Machiavelli once said a republic stays healthy by returning to its first principles from time to time. The Tea Party movement is trying to get our nation back to its first principles to prevent our decline. For their trouble, they have been denounced by many in the media and the Obama administration.

But they will continue to fight. They still believe in the promise of America. That faith may spread as Election Day approaches in the second and perhaps final year of what is supposed to be the Age of Obama.

What began as angry town meetings and grew into a political movement may end as a third political party in 2012. Maybe then Washington will finally listen.

January 24, 2010

Libertarians in the electorate

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:40 pm

Interesting study from the Cato Institute ( by David Boaz and David Kirby) to find out just how many libertarian voters are out there in the wild pulling levers on election days.

Looking at the loosest possible definition — fiscal conservative/social liberal but won’t self-identify as libertarian — the number is a huge 59 percent. Add the self-definition to the equation and that drops to 44 percent.

The Cato’s stringent definition of libertarian — “correct” answers on three political values questions — still found 14 percent of voters are libertarian. A fairly healthy figure. For the record I consider myself in the second group of the second graf. Didn’t take the Kirby-Boaz survey to see if I fit a higher level of purity. I typically self describe as a “little l” libertarian.

And the ostensibly libertarian Tea Party movement? From everything I’ve read the movement has a lot of libertarian rhetoric, coupled with a lot of anarchic actions. Honest libertarianism isn’t against government. It’s just against needlessly intrusive, large and bad government.

From the first link:

In our new study, David Kirby and I round up various estimates on the number of libertarian-leaning voters. Our own calculation, 14 percent, is actually the lowest estimate.

We use three questions on political values from the generally acknowledged gold standard of public opinion data, the surveys of the American National Election Studies, and find that 14 percent of respondents gave libertarian answers to all three questions. But other researchers have used somewhat looser criteria and found larger numbers of libertarians:

The chart:

We summed all that up in this handy but not necessarily helpful graph

January 19, 2010

Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat goes to GOP

Not any great surprise to anyone who’s been watching the lead-up to this special election. Scott Brown takes over Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat and deals quite a blow to any flexibility the Democrats have with health care reform. By all accounts, Brown’s opponent, Martha Coakley, ran a positively dreadful campaign and even had the embarrassment of leaking a memo today while voting was still in progress with a weak sauce list of excuses why she failed to keep the Senate at 60 Democratic seats.

Another pretty weak move was to hold a press conference — also while voting was still in progress — claiming “voting irregularities” to try and get a fingernail-hold on any hope of stretching the final verdict out a bit further.

All in all the Defeatocrats got just what they deserve in this election. And given the political reality of Massachusetts Brown will likely be perfunctorily voted out of office in 2012.

From the link on the excuse list (second link), Marc Ambinder’s excellent fisking of the memo (Ambinder’s comments in bold):

Claims about Coakley’s Scant Campaigning and Miscues Were exaggerated

— Because of the failure of national Democrats to support Coakley, she was forced to devote significant time to fundraising in December. She also released a variety of plans in December and had a public event nearly every day.

[Coakley had 19 events after the primary through Sunday; Scott Brown had 66.]

November 21, 2009

Media figures are truly taking over the GOP

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:59 pm

This isn’t going to end well for the Republican Party.

From the link:

Pundits have used their media stages to encourage political action before, but people like Mr. Beck and Mr. Hannity are taking on outsize roles now, political experts and conservative commentators say. One reason, they say, is the weakened state of the Republican Party.

The media figures’ roles may exacerbate the ideological feuds that are already roiling the party. For the diffuse tea party movement that taps into anti-government sentiments, “the media guys are the closest things we even have to a leader,” said Adam Brandon, the vice president for communications at FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group.

These efforts are reminiscent of the Contract With America pledge made by conservatives during the 1994 elections, though some Republicans who are uncomfortable with media personalities taking on new political roles note that that effort originated with lawmakers.

April 13, 2009

Sully pegs the right

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:08 pm

And sadly, he pretty much nails the sorry state of almost all things on the right-wing.

From the link:

And it suggests that the right is returning to its 1950s roots – kooks, cranks, disaffected and paranoid gun-nuts, born-again culture-warriors, Birchers, book-burners, and black helicpoter worriers.

April 5, 2009

The Tea Party phenomenon

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:35 pm

Here’s some talking points from the Heritage Foundation for any Tea Partiers out there.

A sample from the link:

  • Lower Taxes: Senator Jim DeMint’s “American Option” would have reduced business taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent to spur rapid growth in wages, jobs and business incomes. It also would have permanently repealed the Alternative Minimum Tax and reduced the individual tax rate to three levels—10, 15, and 25 percent—giving Americans more of their own money to fuel the economy and increasing disposable income for an average family of four by up to $4,500 by 2013.
  • On the whole, I’m just not getting the Tea Party movement. It doesn’t seem to be gaining much actual attention outside the blogosphere and the usual right wing hangouts. All in all the movement seems fairly fragmentary and largely comprised of angry cranks with a few opportunists thrown in for good measure.

    The odds of the activity adding positively to the national dialog on this economic crisis is near zero. Overall the public supports Obama right now and is offering him the chance to solve these problems. The public is also pinning the crisis on the Bush 43 administration for the most part. I doubt the Tea Party movement will do anything to change public opinion.

    To give examples of the fractured nature of Tea Partiers you need look no further than the comments on the linked site.

    Here’s a small taste:

    • “Some Tea Party organizers are making a huge mistake by making this about President Obama. This is about all our legislators who are not listening and following the constitution.”
    • “‘organizers are making a huge mistake by making this about President Obama’ Wrong! It is in fact “ALL” about this Marxist ideologue.”
    • “While the media will make our rallies out to be against the President, they are not and should not. We need to protest against the coup d’etat that took place on Jan. 21st. The battles began over a year before that and culminate in November.”
    • “The problems we currently face are because of Government in General. Not political parties.”

    This movement is all over the map — it’s not about Obama, it is about Obama, it’s about government. Sheesh. And “the coup d’etat” on January 21st? Really? What planet are these people living on and how exactly are these comments going to persuade the average American to take them seriously? Seriously.