Hard Out Here for a Bennet(t)

It's a tough year for senators named Bennet(t) from the Rocky Mountain West. First, Republican stalwart Bob Bennett of Utah was ousted by party activists at their state convention; now Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado lost at his party's nominating convention to former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff.

The Difference Between Rand Paul's Libertarianism and Traditional Segregationism

When I saw Mr. Conservative, a documentary about former Arizona senator and 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, I was shocked to learn that he was half Jewish. I knew that Goldwater had, unlike the overwhelming majority of Jewish people, opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. How could a Jew, a fellow minority, oppose civil rights? And how could a bunch of presumably bigoted segregationists—not known for their love of the Chosen People—vote for him? The answer explains a...

Rand Paul Comes out Against Repealing the Civil Rights Act

Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul has issued a statement clarifying his comments on the Civil Rights Act. In it, he says, "I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation."  Although he curiously pivots later from his support for civil rights to his standard talking points about the federal government being out of control through this phrase: "This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power...

What Is With Conservatives, Gays, and Softball?

In John Stossel's appearance on Fox News, he argues that the part of the Civil Rights Act governing private enterprises should be repealed, allowing businesses to discriminate against anyone they want. Stossel, in the typical reductio ad absurdum fashion of a zealous ideologue, demands to know if we care so much about our namby-pamby commitment to letting black people eat at restaurants, whether we are going to have the courage of our convictions and also make a black student association let in...

Everything is OK, Just Don't Lie About it

The scandal surrounding Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's apparent misrepresentation of his military record has me feeling nostalgic for the Good Old Days in politics. Everything was so simple back in that innocent time of the early 1990s. Back then, politicians got in trouble for getting caught doing bad things, like dodging the draft, smoking pot when they were in college, or cheating on their spouses.

Is Pennsylvania an Outlier, or are Things Looking up for Democrats?

Pennsylvania is supposed to be a swing state, one of the Big Three along with Ohio and Florida that dominates election nights. It has been leaning bluer in recent years: It went Democratic in 2000 and 2004, sent conservative Republican Senator Rick Santorum packing in 2006, and 2008 saw a massive switch to the Democrats in party registration, partly to participate in the party's exciting presidential primary. 2009 saw another blow to the state GOP: fearing an intra-party challenge from the...

Who is Jack Tough? Meet Jack Conway, Democrat from Kentucky

Viewers of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night might have been confused when Doug Heye, the communications director of the RNC, referred to Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for Senate from Kentucky, as "Jack Tough." Maddow, being hip to everything, knew though: someone posted a video on YouTube mocking Conway's self-description as "one tough son of a bitch." It contrasts "tough," such as conservative hero Chuck Norris, with "Jack Tough," which is John Edwards' getting his hair styled, or...

Specter of Defeat: If Obama Angers Arlen Specter, What Happens if Specter Wins?

The political press is abuzz over the fact that President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (who was born in Scranton, Pa.) are not stopping in Pennsylvania to campaign for Sen. Arlen Specter in the waning hours of his effort to defend his seat from Rep. Joe Sestak in Tuesday's Democratic primary. This makes sense under normal political circumstances: polls show the two candidates are tied, there is a large undecided vote remaining (which usually swings toward the challenger), and this is...

The Great Policy That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Repealing the Home-Mortgage-Interest Tax Deduction

As Eleanor Clift reported last week, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan That's too bad, because they should. The mortgage-interest deduction, which costs the national treasury an estimated $120 billion per year, is one of the most inefficient, counterproductive federal policies. By favoring money spent on buying a home over money spent on rent or home renovation, which are not tax deductible, we have encouraged people to buy new houses in ever farther suburbs, rather...

The Existential Threats to Israel

In response to Peter Beinart's essay heard round the Internet, which argues that young American Jews are being forced to choose their liberalism or their Zionism and that they are choosing the former, Spencer Ackerman writes that, taking Beinart's insight as a premise, the next question is what Israel should actually do. The critical divide...It's about which threat Israel confronts is the actual existential threat—the one that will fundamentally shape Israel's continued...

Weekend Reading

In Congress, life imitates art, in a bad way. A hater out of Irvine, Calif., disses New Yorkers for boasting too much. Democrats dare Republicans to side with Big Oil. Sounds like a winning strategy, but siding with Big Oil has worked for the GOP past, so why can't it work again? Jonah Goldberg likes Mickey Kaus. Why am I not surprised? Mona Charen blames obesity on food stamps and calls hypocrisy on opposing the former and supporting the latter. Can't argue with that. Attention...

Harry Reid Might Hold His Seat and, Yes, Democrats Should Be Happy About That

The great Republican crack-up may yet cost them a very valuable seat, that of Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid in Nevada. TPM reports: For months Reid (D-NV) has seemed like a goner as each one of his potential GOP rivals held solid leads in polls. But as the June 8 primary nears, the Republicans in the crowded field of challengers have turned on one another and the race is tightening. Frontrunner Sue Lowden, a former Nevada GOP-state-party chairman, has showed vulnerability by suggesting...

New Conservative Groups Focus on Messaging, but What Message?

Politico has a fascinating, informative piece about "Bush's Brain," Karl Rove, and former RNC chair Ed Gillespie, who are putting together a series of activist organizations to rival the galvanizing effect that they believe the Democracy Alliance has had on Democrats. But although the piece thoroughly describes the groups' fundraising and political strategies, it does not explain—and this is not a criticism of the piece, which simply was not about this—what the actual policy goals...

Why the Phoenix Suns Oppose Arizona's Immigration Law

The Phoenix Suns announced that they will be wearing jerseys saying "Los Suns" in Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference Semifinals game. (Should it be "Los Soles"? Maybe this is a regional Spanglishism.) Nominally in honor of Cinco de Mayo, it is openly a slap at their home state's draconian new immigration law. The NBA and their opponents (the San Antonio Spurs) are also on board. As Matthew Yglesias notes, Steve Nash, the Suns' best player, and several Spurs stars are immigrants,...

Out-Extreming the Extremists

The conservative standard-bearers at National Review are fulfilling their historical role of drawing a line and declaring the conspiracy-theorist right wing beyond the pale. They famously did it to the John Birch Society and now they are doing it to Rush Limbaugh, though not by name, in their latest editorial:A word on conspiracy theories: It is unfortunate that the timing of this event, coming so soon after the administration's drilling order, has led some commentators (of varying degrees of...

Could Drilling Be an Issue for Democrats?

"Drill, Baby, Drill!" Republicans have been on offense for the last few years. The public was generally supportive of their calls to drill during the election, and President Obama's recent decision to open up Atlantic waters to oil drilling was widely viewed as a concession to them and their Blue Dog Democrat allies. But the politics of drilling vary by state. In some places the economic activity is generally welcomed, while in others the immediate environmental impacts are shunned. The...

What Rush Limbaugh Doesn't Understand About Liberals

If "Know Thy Enemy," is a principle of warfare, then Rush Limbaugh is failing the conservative movement as a general. On Friday we flagged the following quote from Limbaugh, with regard to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: "What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing here." This is a bizarre statement because it suggests that environmentalists would actually unleash a terrible environmental catastrophe so as to...

Times Square Bomb Scare

Craig Ruttle / AP Police found a bomb smoking in a Nissan Pathfinder near Times Square on West 45th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues in the heart of midtown Manhattan, on a balmy spring Saturday evening. The smoke was seen by street vendor who alerted a mounted police officer around 6:30 p.m. The officer called for backup, and the fire department and bomb squad arrived. Thousands of people in the area, which includes much of New York's famed theater district, were evacuated, including...

Today in 'Be Careful What You Wish For': McCain's Message Is Heard

John McCain insisted to us that he is not a maverick, and never claimed to be one. Being in a tough primary fight in his conservative home state of Arizona, McCain wanted to be sure that his constituents back home get the message that he is a loyal Republican, uninterested in working with Democrats to solve the nation's problems that he once professed to care about, such as immigration and climate change. Well, the message has been received. Via Greg Sargent:  A fascinating finding...

Et Tu, Lindsey?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed on Tuesday what our own Howard Fineman had here first: he is not going to push immigration reform to the top of the Senate's agenda. So, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is the person to watch once again on climate-change legislation. The House has already passed it, but the Democrats will need some Republican support to break the filibuster. Graham was playing that essential role, but threatened to take his toys and go home when the Democrats were...

The Conservative Case Against Arizona's Immigration Law

Conservative commentators, such as Bill Kristol and George Will, have generally rushed to the defense of Arizona's harsh new law to make local law-enforcement officers act as de facto border patrol. But Matt Lewis, a staunchly conservative but independent-minded and intellectually honest columnist at the Daily Caller, dares to dissent from the party line. Lewis supports stricter border control and does not worry about the illegal immigrants being subjected to requests for their documents...

Why America's Tax Code Is the Least Progressive in the Industrialized World

On Tax Day, amidst all the right-wing rhetoric about how the poor are undertaxed, and liberal arguments about how the rich should pay more, we should take a second just to go over how the U.S. tax structure works. Americans fund a lot of their essential social services, public schools, for example, primarily at the state and local level. Consequently, relative to other industrialized democracies, we have a tax burden that falls more heavily at the state and local level and less at the national...

Stupid Idea of the day: Tax the Homeless

Don't complain about your taxes today, they are surely less than the 44 percent of one's income that homeless New Yorkers are about to start paying. New York City, whose mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is worth an estimated $17.5 billion, has announced that it is going to charge homeless people for staying in city housing shelters. The Daily News reports:Homeless people with jobs are going to have to start paying the city rent to stay in shelters, officials said Tuesday. "Open-ended...

The Real Problem With TV Experts

This morning I posted a response to Greg Sargent's complaint that Rudy Giuliani gets invited onto cable-news talk shows to criticize Obama's nuclear-posture review when Giuliani appears to know nothing about it. I contended that Sargent was wrong to argue that only a Republican politician who holds a position of influence over national security, such as Sen. John McCain, should be invited to criticize Obama's national-security policies on air. Giuliani is as broadly qualified (or...

If Standing at Ground Zero Doesn't Make You a Foreign-Policy Expert, What Does?

Greg Sargent complains that CNN and MSNBC invited former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani onto their channels this week to discuss President Obama's new nuclear posture, writing: Someone needs to tell the bookers at the networks that the fact that Rudy Giuliani happened to get photographed walking through the smoke and dust on 9/11 does not give him any authority or credibility on foreign policy and national security issues. Sargent notes that Giuliani embarrassingly claims that...

Representative Pothole

Remember those Hillary Clinton ads with the Batphone ringing that demanded to know who you want answering a call in the White House at 3 a.m.? (The answer you were supposed to come up with is "Someone who lived there for eight years already.") Well, we don't have a complaint line to President Obama's bedroom, but Scott Rigell, a candidate for the Republican nomination in Virginia's Second Congressional District has posted his home phone number on his campaign Web site (it's...

Today in Triumphs of Ignorance: Obama's Drilling Decision

Politics aside, on the policy merits the Obama administration's decision to "expand oil and gas development and exploration on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to enhance our nation's energy independence" is absurd. There is no such thing as "energy independence." Nations that produce a lot of crude oil are not immune to concerns about political instability in other oil-rich nations. Sure, Saudi Arabia may not need to buy oil from Iran, but it depends on oil revenue. Oil...

Today in Bad Journalism: Bloomberg News Doesn't Even Know What Untruth to Tell

From Bloomberg News:The health-care legislation working its way through the Senate passed the House of Representatives March 21 in a 219-212 vote that had no Republican support. Democrats circumvented traditional rules that require a two-thirds majority for passage by taking advantage of a budget process called reconciliation. If Bloomberg wants to repeat the Republican talking point that passing legislation through reconciliation is inappropriate, the least it could do is make the...

If You Love the Free Market, You Should Hate Mandated Suburban Sprawl

There's nothing like a blogospheric spat about suburban sprawl. Matt Yglesias notes, and some conservatives concur, that sprawl is determined by heavy-handed government regulation requiring minimum parking requirements, large lot sizes, and segregation of uses. Yglesias asks why self-identified libertarians Randal O'Toole and John Stossel don't want to let the magic of the market do its work. O'Toole counters on the Cato Institute blog that land-use regulations are...

Dems Losing Grip on Crucial Suburbs

After the media overhyped Democratic losses in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections in November, I argued that the real warning sign for Democrats wasn't the statewide executive races, which are often driven by voters' feelings on the candidates themselves, but by results in the New York suburbs in Westchester County and Connecticut. Democratic losses for obscure local offices there, where the average voter probably knows little to nothing about the candidate reflect...

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