Webb opens small lead

Will George Allen’s lame attempt to criticize Jim Webb’s writings backfire? Webb has opened a small lead in Virginia.

Allen has exposed himself in this race as being unworthy of holding public office. His campaign hit a new low when they pulled passages from Webb’s novels out of context to imply that Webb was promoting deviant sex and demeaning women. Fortunately, this pathetic attack was exposed by the Webb campaign and by the press.

Webb is an intellectual and a man of character. There are too few people like him in American politics. Allen is an empty suit that simply repeats conservative talking points. He seems incapable of expressing an original thought.

This is one of the most important races in this election cycle. Webb will bring fresh thinking and a moderate voice to the Democratic Party. He will also be an important asset in the Senate as we debate how to deal with the debacle in Iraq. Let’s hope he pulls it out.

Democrats are fighting back this year

The GOP slime machine has been in full force this year, but the Democrats have been fighting back with rapid-response counter-punches. Democrats like Sherrod Brown are benefiting from this strategy.

It will be interesting to see whether the latest wave of disgusting ads and allegations in the Tennessee and Virginia Senate races backfire against Republicans.

George Will ridicules the new law limiting Internet gambling

Add George Will to the growing list of commentators who are ridiculing the new law passed by the Republican Congress to limit online gambling. Will calls it “Prohibition II” and argues that we need to fight excessive paternalism by the government.

Granted, some people gamble too much. And some people eat too many cheeseburgers. But who wants to live in a society that protects the weak-willed by criminalizing cheeseburgers? Besides, the problems—frequently exaggerated—of criminal involvement in gambling, and of underage and addictive gamblers, can be best dealt with by legalization and regulation utilizing new software solutions. Furthermore, taxation of online poker and other gambling could generate billions for governments.

We need a new movement to keep the government out of our lives. Following the Terry Schiavo fiasco, many liberals have rediscovered the notion that too much intervention by the government can be a very bad thing. Libertarian conservatives like George Will are taking on the cultural conservatives on these issues. Unfortunately, many of our politicians on the right and the left still don’t seem to get it. Perhaps this stupid law can help. By pissing off the legions of poker players and other normal Americans who like to bet online, the politicians who want to control our lives might have finally gone too far.

I’m hoping more politicians on the left and the right pick up on this trend.

Should Japan go nuclear?

Charles Krauthammer makes a powerful argument that the United States should consider the possibility of supporting a decision by Japan to go nuclear:

The immediate effect of Japan’s considering going nuclear would be to concentrate China’s mind on denuclearizing North Korea. China calculates that North Korea is a convenient buffer between it and a dynamic, capitalist South Korea bolstered by American troops. China is quite content with a client regime that is a thorn in our side, keeping us tied down while it pursues its ambitions in the rest of Asia. Pyongyang’s nukes, after all, are pointed not west but east.

Japan’s threatening to go nuclear would alter that calculation. It might even persuade China to squeeze Kim Jong Il as a way to prevent Japan from going nuclear. The Japan card remains the only one that carries even the remote possibility of reversing North Korea’s nuclear program.

Japan’s response to the North Korean threat has been very strong and very insistent on serious sanctions. This is, of course, out of self-interest, not altruism. But that is the point. Japan’s natural interests parallel America’s in the Pacific Rim — maintaining military and political stability, peacefully containing an inexorably expanding China, opposing the gangster regime in Pyongyang, and spreading the liberal democratic model throughout Asia.

Why are we so intent on denying this stable, reliable, democratic ally the means to help us shoulder the burden in a world where so many other allies — the inveterately appeasing South Koreans most notoriously — insist on the free ride?

The balance of power is shifting in Asia as China emerges as a major power. Japan is our ally, and it may be time to play this card with China.

Bloodbath at NBC and MSNBC

NBC is slashing staff and spending in a feeble attempt to revive the fortunes of the network and their cable operations. They’re blaming everything on “new media” and the need to adapt to the new environment.

Now we know why MSNBC has stopped covering the war in Iraq – it’s too expensive and it doesn’t get great ratings. How pathetic. Instead we’re subjected to nightly “doumentaries” featuring prisons and sensational murders that make local news broadcasts look like quality programming. Do you think they could manage to do a one hour documentary on serious subjects like the war, torture, social security or health care? Nah – that would require too much work and money.

Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman might be moved over to CNBC. Huh? Are they just giving up on MSNBC? How many hours of prison documentaries can the American public take? Here’s an idea – why not cover REAL NEWS?

Kansas Repubicans leaving the party

Nine former Republicans are running in Kansas as Democrats. Most of them are moderates who are sick of the religious right. If the polls are correct, this trend will continue across the country.

Dick Armey slams the religious right

Here’s more evidence that the GOP is coming apart at the seems, as Dick Armey blasts social conservatives for embracing big government to adcance their agenda:

There was a day when social conservatives were united with economic conservatives in the belief that small, limited government was not only good for our economy and the prosperity of American families, but essential to protect traditional family values. We all fought for a limited federal government — a government that had the decency to respect the American people by staying out of their lives. Small government meant that all Christians could practice their faith as they saw fit. Big government violates those rights by meddling in our lives, misusing our hard-earned money, and dictating cultural norms to us. We were and are rightly outraged when government imposes wrong-headed values through its monopoly of schools, government-funded “art,” and taxpayer funded “family planning.”

As a united conservative movement, we win when we defend traditional values against big government pretensions to impose its brand of “morality” on the American people. We lose when we attempt to use government power to impose our values on others.

Armey then provides a brilliant summary of the Terry Schiavo fiasco:

Nowhere was it more wrong, with more disastrous policy ends, than in the Terri Schiavo intervention. While her case was heartbreaking, our Founders created a government built on checks and balances, not a nation run by an arbitrary and imperial Congress. Congress cannot simply override our entire state and federal legal system to intervene in one person’s situation. It was truly a chilling act.

I don’t agree with Dick Armey on many things, but I totally agree that we need to keep the government out of our private lives. Democrats and liberals can learn a thing or two from this column as well. Democrats need to consider reducing the reach and influence of government, especially now that many on the right are eager to use government to legislate their interpretations of morality on the rest of us. I’d like to see libertarian Democrats argue for less interference in our private lives.

GOP losing support . . . even in Kansas

The Republican Party has been taken over by the religious right. This is not a controversial statement when speaking to Democrats, but most Republicans would have strenously argued this point in the past. Not so much any more.

This editorial from a Kansas newspaper’s editorial board is fascinating. In it the writer explains why the paper is reversing over 100 years of supporting mostly Republican candidates.

The Republican Party has changed, and it has changed monumentally.

You almost cannot be a victorious traditional Republican candidate with mainstream values in Johnson County or in Kansas anymore, because these candidates never get on the ballot in the general election. They lose in low turnout primaries, where the far right shows up to vote in disproportionate numbers.

To win a Republican primary, the candidate must move to the right.

What does to-the-right mean?

It means anti-public education, though claiming to support it.

It means weak support of our universities, while praising them.

It means anti-stem cell research.

It means ridiculing global warming.

It means gay bashing. Not so much gay marriage, but just bashing gays.

It means immigrant bashing. I’m talking about the viciousness.

It means putting religion in public schools. Not just prayer.

It means mocking evolution and claiming it is not science.

It means denigrating even abstinence-based sex education.

Note, I did not say it means “anti-abortion,” because I do not find that position repugnant, at all. I respect that position.

But everything else adds up to priorities that have nothing to do with the Republican Party I once knew.

That’s why, in the absence of so-called traditional Republican candidates, the choice comes down to right-wing Republicans or conservative Democrats.

And now you know why we have been forced to move left.

Hat tip to mcjoan at DailyKos.

Moderates are fleeing the Republican Party and are finding a welcome home in the Democratic Party. Fiscal conservatives and libertarian conservatives tolerated the religious right for years because they helped them form a winning coalition in the GOP. Moderate Republicans went along for the ride, even if moderate Republicans stopped getting on the ballot. Hopefully this unholy alliance is coming to an end.

Warner drops out – who’s left?

I’m disappointed that Mark Warner has decided not to run for President in 2008. Warner looked like one of the guys who could actually win a general election – he was a moderate Southern governor with a decent amount of charisma and a message that would appeal to swing voters along with the Democratic base. On paper, he was a great candidate.

Who’s left? Some are speculating that this helps Evan Bayh. I guess that makes sense since Bayh is one of the most moderate Democratic Senators, but Bayh won’t make a dent unless he discovers a more dynamic personality.

Hillary has to be happy, since Warner seemed like the most formidable rival. I continue to believe, however, that a Hillary candidacy would be a disaster.

I’m hoping this helps Joe Biden and Bill Richardson gain some traction. I don’t know if either guy has a prayer to win the nomination, but this gives them a chance to raise more money and possibly build support in Iowa and New Hampshire. Both guys are smart and they have very clear ideas about how to improve the country. Having them in the race will be a positive for the party.

John Ashcroft is an idiot

John Ashcroft has plenty to answer for regarding his failures leading up to 9/11, so he decides to attack the 9/11 Commission in a pathetic attempt to avoid scrutiny of his own shortcomings.

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