Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Let us stipulate that it's impossible in June to prognosticate about an election in November. We can't know what is yet to happen, what unforeseen events may intrude, or what the candidates might do to help or hinder their prospects. In the immortal words of that stellar war planner Donald Rumsfeld, seemingly uttered as jazz poetry on Feb. 12, 2002, "There are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns. The ones we don't know we don't know."

One of those known unknowns is a humorless little guy with pursed lips and mustache who looks like a high school principal in a '30s movie. That would be Bob Barr, the ex-Georgia congressman, an erstwhile conservative Republican who is running this November as the Libertarian party's presidential candidate.

Barr has been getting a lot of buzz lately, deservedly so, because he threatens to become a big headache for the John McCain campaign. McCain has yet to unite and galvanize the GOP's conservative base, and Barr conceivably could draw enough protest votes to imperil McCain's victory prospects in at least three red states.

Granted, this guy is not an ideal protest vehicle. He's akin to a '94 Chevy with a rebuilt engine and patched tires. After eight years in Congress, Barr was squeezed out of his House seat in 2002 when his district was redrawn, and he signed on to the Libertarian party and its principles (small government, low taxes) only two years ago. He is notoriously charisma-challenged, twice divorced, and a past champion of moral issues despite the fact that he was once photographed licking whipped cream from a woman's breasts. (It was a charity event to raise money for leukemia research, he explained at the time.)


Like, how bad a president is George Bush, when the country goes, "You know, we'll try the black guy?"


I have repeatedly railed over the last seven plus years that the Bush Administration is qualitatively different from all of those that have gone before. And I don't just mean in the fact that they have proven incapable of governing competently. Rather, a related point, and one inextricably linked to the incompetence -- the fact that this is the most ideological administration in American history. one I have repeatedly described with little exaggeration, as "Leninist" in temperament.

What do I mean by calling Bush and his coterie Leninists? Obviously they are not attempting to overthrow the established order to create the dictatorship of the proletariat. But what they share in common with those who established the Soviet Union is the belief in belief , i.e. the notion that reality can literally be transformed by ideology. It is a world without objective fact and one in which nothing is sacred -- even the sacred. Everything is a means to an end, a mode of acquiring power, and power is acquired to acquire yet more power. Friends are rewarded and enemies punished, not in the name of some greater good, but in the cause of the continuation of the self-perpetuating power machine.


If there were only one agency (and there’s probably not) that has consistently enjoyed the benefits lavished on it by an ignorant president who continuously diminishes its standing in the world of science, it would be the Environmental Protection Agency. No other agency has so thoroughly given in to the importunings of a president who lives in constant fear of what science might offer if left to its own devices, science being a branch of knowledge that cannot be controlled by him or Dick Cheney.


You probably don't know who Rep. Chris Cannon is, but he is a Republican that has represented America's most conservative congressional district since 1997. Tonight he lost his primary in an unpredicted blowout to a real anti-immigration zealot named Jason Chaffetz. This district is Utah's Third, and it will have a new representative next January. That new representative will almost certainly by Jason Chaffetz. In itself, this is a modestly bad thing. We've just lost one of the most conservative members of Congress for an even more conservative (and younger) member.

But this election also provides further confirmation that no Republican incumbent is safe. Rep. Cannon probably lost because he supported the president's immigration reform, but Chaffetz also ran against No Child Left Behind and the budget deficits. Those are two signature Bush policies that don't sit well with many conservatives. This Utah district will now lose seniority on the Judiciary, Natural Resources, and Oversight & Government Reform committees on which Cannon served. While Chaffetz is a wingnut of extraordinary proportions, he is not compromised by any Bush-supporting votes. Chaffetz will rail pointlessly against the Department of Education, Latinos, and abortion, and do nothing for his district. He'll be the least senior member of an irrelevant party. But he won't be guilty of supporting Bush. The rest of Republican caucus will surely take note.


McCain's more traditional abortion rhetoric is leavened by his carefully maintained political brand as a "maverick" politician. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, believes that has led many voters to make incorrect assumptions about McCain's views on abortion and is one reason he is now courting pro-choice women, particularly Hillary Clinton's supporters. "People think that he's a maverick and that must mean that he's a moderate," Keenan says. "And they come to the conclusion that if you're a moderate, you must be pro-choice."

Barack Obama will focus his resources largely in 14 states George W. Bush won in 2004, his chief field operative said . . . hoping to score upsets in places like Virginia, Indiana, and Georgia.

But winning the White House won’t be his only goal, deputy campaign manager Hildebrand told Politico: In an unusual move, Obama's campaign will also devote some resources to states it’s unlikely to win, with the goal of influencing specific local contests in places like Texas and Wyoming.

"Texas is a great example where we might not be able to win the state, but we want to pay a lot of attention to it," Hildebrand said. "It’s one of the most important redistricting opportunities in the country."


How much experience does it take before your average Washingtonian realizes that Sen. Russ Feingold is eventually proven right about pretty much everything?


Hensley & Co., one of the nation's major beer wholesalers, has brought the family of Cindy McCain wealth, prestige and influence in Phoenix, but it could also create conflicts for her husband, Sen. John McCain, if he is elected president in November.

Hensley, founded by Cindy McCain's late father, holds federal and state licenses to distribute beer and lobbies regulatory agencies on alcohol issues that involve public health and safety.

The company has opposed such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving in fighting proposed federal rules requiring alcohol content information on every package of beer, wine and liquor.

Its executives, including John McCain's son Andrew, have written at least 10 letters in recent years to the Treasury Department, have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a beer industry political action committee, and hold a seat on the board of the politically powerful National Beer Wholesalers Assn.

Hensley has run afoul of health advocacy groups that have tried to rein in appeals to young drinkers. For example, the company distributes caffeinated alcoholic drinks that public health groups say put young and underage consumers at risk by disguising the effects of intoxication.


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