Gary Johnson, the long-shot libertarian contender for the GOP presidential nomination, is receiving support this week from across the pond. Daniel Hannan, a member of Britain’s Conservative Party and a blogger for The Telegraph, published an article Monday calling for Republicans to take a second look at the former Governor of New Mexico:
Alright, you might be saying, so he’s a libertarian. So are thousands of Ayn Rand-reading students around the world. No one holding these views ever gets elected to anything important.
That’s where you’d be wrong. Gary Johnson was elected on precisely such a manifesto in the swing state of New Mexico, and promptly set about putting his beliefs into practice. He took the view that there should be as few laws as possible, and vetoed more legislation during his term than the other 49 state governors put together. He cut taxes 14 times and never raised them once. Result? A budget surplus and an economic boom. During Gary Johnson’s gubernatorial term, 1,200 state jobs were axed, but 20,000 private sector jobs were created. And here’s the best bit: he was handsomely re-elected, despite a two-to-one Democrat majority.
At this point, Johnson will need any support he can get. In Gallup’s most recent Republican Presidential Ratings Summary—a measurement of Republican nominees’ recognition and favorability ratings by Republicans and Republican-leaning independents—Gallup didn’t even bother publishing Johnson’s statistics. One might assume that they were too low to warrant publication.
With all the recent media attention over efforts by some southern Californians to break off from their northern neighbors and create the 51st state, one might think that the idea of states splitting up—or actually seceding from the union outright—is something that hasn’t been discussed since the Civil War.
But that’s not the case at all. As TAC contributor Bill Kauffman pointed out in this piece from 2005, there are “at least 28 U.S. secessionist movements active everywhere from those dubious Cold War states of Alaska and Hawaii to New York City—site of Norman Mailer’s prophetically pro-secession 1969 mayoralty campaign—to the states of the Confederacy, with their League of the South, and up to the felicitously named State of Jefferson in northern California and southern Oregon. America has gone fission.”
Make that 29, now that the Riverside County Board has approved a proposal that would look into the idea of splitting off from California.
Talk of secession—whether it’s from other states or the nation as a whole—might not be very popular, but it’s certainly not uncommon.
Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann has become the first Republican presidential candidate to sign a pledge calling for a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The pledge is called The Marriage Vow and was released by The Family Leader, an organization of social conservatives based in Iowa.
The Marriage Vow also calls for the protection of children from “all forms of pornography and prostitution.” But—contrary to most media reports—it does not specifically call for a “ban on all pornography” (as ABC news so dutifully reported).
As Michael Dougherty wrote in the cover story of TAC‘s June issue, “the Tea Party, confusedly hailed by the media as a grassroots libertarian spasm, turns out on inspection to be the religious right wearing a tricorn hat and talking about Obamacare.”
Dougherty continues: “Neoconservatives who call for confrontation with Iran, a closer relationship with Israel, and pressing the War on Terror are not echoed by religious conservatives—they’re drowned out by them.”
It’s this fact alone—that the Tea Party is really just the religious right with a makeover—that explains Bachmann’s recent surge in the polls. And Bachmann’s positions on the issues really do come together into the political tour de force that is proven to win the Republican primary: hawkish on defense, fervently conservative on social issues, and adamant about cutting the federal budget.
And as Jack Hunter pointed out today, she also has the benefit of knowing when to use the Constitutional conservative moniker when it’s beneficial—and also when to drop it when it’s inconvenient. Meanwhile, Rand Paul is representing a generally younger and anti-Bachmann wing of the party.
That both Bachmann and the Pauls are immensely popular is just another sign of a brewing conflict for the future of the Republican party.
Federal spending might be so out of control that it can’t be stopped—literally. Reuters is reporting that:
If Treasury were to decide to delay payments, it would need to re-program government computers that generate automatic payments as they fall due — a massive and difficult undertaking. Treasury makes about 3 million payments each day.
That’s a near-impossible task, and as Felix Salmon points out:
Realistically, then, the government is likely to breach the current debt ceiling no matter what Congress agrees. A failure to lift it would be a bit like an edict to a steaming supertanker that it had to stop dead: no matter how much force of law that edict has, sheer momentum is going force many basic operations of the public fisc to continue for some period of days or weeks.
But Gene Healy of the Washington Examiner sums up the scenario best:
It’s quite a picture: we’ve got liberty-threatening legislation signed by presidential Autopen, an illegal war fought by remote-controlled robot assassins, and out-of-control spending on autopilot. If only FedGov followed the First Law of Robotics.
Was there more to World Chess Federation president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s recent trips to Libya than meets the eye? Trinity College professor and author Vijay Prashad thinks so. The professor sees Ilyumzhinov’s visits as evidence of a larger struggle—a new cold war between the established G7 countries and the up and coming BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa):
Libya is the first battleground of a new “cold war,” this one not between the U.S. and Russia, but between the G7 (and its military arm, NATO) and the BRICS (who have not much of a military arm). The G7 commands the skies and, increasingly shakily, the rhetoric of freedom, but it does not have a sustainable economic base and no sense of a political process that does not come with aerial bombardment.
The American Spectator’s Larry Thornberry smells blood in the water. In a new blog post today he points out that recent polls are showing Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson to be in an extremely weak position heading into the 2012 election:
A poll of Florida voters done in late June by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Nelson approved by only 38 percent of those surveyed, while 31 percent disapprove, and an astounding 31 percent say they just aren’t sure about Nelson.
That almost a third of Floridians have no opinion of Nelson is a measure of how charisma-challenged Florida’s senior senator is and how achievement-free his long political career has been. Before Nelson won a senate seat by defeating a similarly charisma-challenged Republican, former congressman Bill McCollum, in 2000, Nelson had served in the U.S. House and had been Florida’s insurance commissioner. He’s been in public life in Florida since John Paul Jones was a lieutenant commander. And still a third of Floridians have no opinion of him. This is one vulnerable office holder.
With Republicans looking to further their gains made in the Senate in 2010, Nelson’s weakness could give them a significant boost in securing both of Florida’s Senate seats in back-to-back election cycles.
John McCain has found a new talking point: the growing division within the Republican Party over the nation’s military forays abroad. He referred again to the split up in a panel on Afghanistan yesterday in Washington at the Institute for the Study of War, just a week after telling ABC’s Christiane Amanpour that “there’s always been an isolationist strain in the Republican Party, that Pat Buchanan wing.”
But yesterday he introduced a few new terms. Now the tension within the party is between “the Eisenhower Republicans and the Taft Republicans, the internationalists and the isolationists.” Forget that Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address is a document quoted frequently by some in the so-called isolationist wing of the party.
McCain further expressed worry about the nation’s declining appetite for the internationalists’ grand crusades for democracy. “I am very concerned about our long-term ability, and willingness, to fund” war efforts abroad, he said. Read More…
The professor, John Banzhaf, claims that Catholic’s decision is in violation of a D.C. anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination based upon sex.
GW prof John Banzhaf argues that the plan to gender-segregate all of the school’s dorms constitutes illegal sex discrimination under the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act.
Banzhaf has won more than 100 legal actions under the statute, he said in a statement, adding that the District’s anti-discrimination law “prohibits any discrimination based directly or indirectly upon sex unless it is strictly necessary for the entity to remain in business.”
And since for more than 25 years Catholic University has grown considerably without gender-segregated dorms, “it is very unlikely that this newly-unveiled plan would qualify” as a business necessity, Banzhaf added.
TAC contributor Eamonn Fingleton has long questioned the idea that the 1990s were a “lost decade” for the Japanese economy. Now he’s challenging two popular proponents of that thesis to a public debate in Washington, D.C.—and he’s willing to donate $10,000 to charity if they accept the challenge.
The offer has gone out to economists Robbie Feldman, the chief Japan economist for Morgan Stanley, and Ed Lincoln, the former chief advisor on Japanese economics to ambassador Walter Mondale.
On his website, Fingleton partially blames the idiosyncrasies of Japanese society for propagating the “lost decade” thesis to Westerners:
Let me speak plainly: no one of any commonsense in Tokyo has ever placed much credence in the story of the first “lost decade,” let alone the second. They have kept their views to themselves, however, because Japan is not a place where people lightly contradict the elite bureaucracy on anything, let alone on a fundamental public relations theme that has been systematically projected into the foreign media for twenty years.
While it may seem amazing that crucial facts can be swept under the carpet in this way, the Japanese bureaucracy’s almost magical ability to impose self-censorship not only on Japanese citizens but even on Japan-watching foreigners has been well documented (see, for instance, Ivan P. Hall’s Bamboozled: How America Loses the Intellectual Game With Japan and Its Implications for Our Future in Asia).
Among the many issues not reported on by the Western media is the protectionist Japanese auto market:
… the fact is that with the exception of two luxury German marques, foreign cars remain completely marginalized and the aggregate foreign market share has been kept at 4 percent for decades (irrespective of whether the yen is high or low).
Will Feldman and Lincoln agree to debate Fingleton? If they do, it will be a victory for all the so-called heterodox economists who are eager to challenge today’s economic dogmas—many of which are responsible for the current crisis.
If they don’t, it will still be a victory for those willing to question today’s economic status quo.