Are the Republicans still a national party?

Daniel McCarthy,  the editor of The American Conservative, answers that question with a “no.”  He points out that Republicans have become very successful on the local and state levels, but haven’t won a plurality of votes in a national presidential race for four out of the last five elections.  McCarthy explores why this is and why Republicans keep nominating moderates who have to masquerade as conservatives, only to lose national elections.  Samples:

If the only effect in play were the strength of grassroots right-wing constituencies, you wouldn’t expect the party to consistently nominate moderates like both Bushes, Dole, McCain, and Romney. None of those nominees had impeccable conservative credentials — far from it. But once they got the nomination, they didn’t run as the moderates they were; most of them sold themselves as being at least as right as Reagan, even in the general election. At least since 2004, this is because the party has pursued a base strategy: an attempt to eke out a narrow win by getting more Republicans to the polls than Democrats, with independents — a small and difficult-to-market-to demographic — basically ignored. The party tries to leverage its regional identity and regional organization into presidential victory. It has failed four times out of five. . . .

Republicans tend to have a clear establishment front-runner going into their presidential contests, and that individual pretty much always wins the nomination, in part because he usually has far more money than his opponents. Indeed, that financial advantage allows the establishment front-runner to discourage viable semi-establishment opponents — your Mitch Daniels types — from even entering the race. That leaves the ideological groups to field their own non-viable standard-bearer — Huckabee or Santorum types. Because the eventual GOP nominee pursues a base strategy, though, he winds up embarrassing himself by trying to sound “severely conservative.” He has to get religious right and Tea Party voters to turn out for him. But even if they do, they’re not enough: those constituencies don’t add up to 50 percent of the electorate. Republicans are actually closer than Democrats to being the real 47 percent party. (Though it’s more accurate to say the GOP is the 48-49 percent party and the Democrats are the 49-50 percent party.)

This isn’t all about elections, however. The policy options that Congress and the president get to consider and the intellectual life of the nation are also warped by the GOP’s “47 percent” ideology. Because conservatives over-identify with the GOP, and the GOP’s identity is determined by factional and regional ideologies, the result is that conservatives take their definition of conservatism from the party and that definition is more regional- and interest-based than philosophical. This accounts for the spectacle of the GOP periodically getting worked up about “big government” while in fact expanding government — welfare state, warfare state, banning internet gambling, you name it — whenever it’s in power. The blue state/red state psychological divide is more fundamental to the party’s understanding of the world than is any consistent view of the proper extent and uses of government. . . .

None of this has anything to do with the historic conservatism of Edmund Burke or John Adams, Russell Kirk or Robert Nisbet. It doesn’t even look like the capacious conservatism of Ronald Reagan. It’s a scam: it does little for values in the culture as a whole because the values in question are those of an ideological minority only interested in winning through minority-organization politics; it can’t look at big-picture economics because doing so would tick off the financial interests and get anyone who broached the question read out of conservatism by Wall Street’s coalition allies. A traditionalist or consistently libertarian critic would be perceived as speaking up for lazy immoral city-dwelling welfare queens. This fanciful identity politics, and not principled economics, is what lies behind talk about “socialism,” “big government,” and the “47 percent.” If the case were otherwise, you’d see the anti-dependency case made against the Pentagon, defense contractors, churches taking government money, and red-state recipients of all kinds of largesse.

Is the GOP Still a National Party? | The American Conservative.

HT:  Todd

Nationals win NL East

The Washington Nationals, my home team now, after years of being bad, have won the National League East, contending with Cincinnati–another team that came out of nowhere–for the best record in baseball.  (The Nationals lost to the Phillies, but Pittsburgh beat Atlanta, arriving at the magic number.)  I’m enjoying watching the players come out of the dugout to spray the fans with champagne!

Nationals win NL East with Braves’ 2-1 loss to Pirates.

Nothing left but sex and ennui

Great quotation and embedded quotations from novelist Andrew Klavan, as part of his review of the founder-of-Scientology movie The Master:

There’s a reason modernism collapsed into the ruinous and stupid-making morass of post-modernism. Ultimately, modernist reality was smaller and seedier than human life as it is lived. As the novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici points out in critiquing one modernist novel, “describing the smell of sweat and semen during the act of sex no more anchors the novel to ‘reality’ than writing about stars in the eyes of the beloved.”

Myself, I attribute the unrealistic smallness of modernism to its secular nature. Without God, as Tolstoy explained, there’s nothing left to write about but sex and ennui.

via PJ Lifestyle » Why The Master Is No Master-Piece.

What a stunning insight from Tolstoy!   That was back in the 19th century, but he predicted the major subject matter of 20th and 21st century literary art.  I would just add that one can also write about–or make movies about or make music about–attempts to mask the ennui, the boredom, with sensationalistic distractions.  Thus, the explosions, car chases, murders, gore, escapism, and psychological fantasies that make up much of our pop culture.  (Not that there isn’t much of value and even greatness in 20th and 21st century literature–I am by no means dismissing or even criticizing it–but there sure is a lot of sex and ennui.)

Big issues before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court opens a new session today.  Lots of important cases are on the docket:

The first blockbuster case — a lawsuit challenging affirmative action in college admissions. The court will hear oral arguments in the case on Oct. 10, only the second week of the term. . . .

Another racially charged case could join the docket if justices take up a challenge to part of the Voting Rights Act. On the heels of an election with rampant charges of voter fraud and suppression, the court could weigh whether states with a history of discrimination should be required to get approval from Washington before changing their voting laws.

Walsh also said there’s a good chance the court will take up the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Two challenges to DOMA have been appealed to the high court, and a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 is also in the mix.

Legal experts say there’s no question the Supreme Court will rule on same-sex marriage in the near future; the only questions are which case or cases it will hear, and how quickly. . . .

Social issues aren’t the only big cases on the court’s horizon. The term will begin Monday with a closely watched case over whether U.S. judges can hear certain international cases.

The case was argued previously, but some justices seemed to want to rule on a broader question, so a re-hearing was scheduled. The last time that happened was the polarizing Citizens United case on campaign finance reform.

The justices will also consider police officers’ use of drug-sniffing dogs and possible invasions of privacy. A pair of cases set for argument in late October deal with canine units and the scope of the Constitution’s ban on illegal search and seizure.

via Controversial cases await justices – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com.

This reminds us of another issue in the presidential race:  Who gets to appoint Supreme Court justices?  At least a couple are in their 80s, and those life terms can have a big impact.    Any predictions as to how any of these cases will be decided?  Can there be any doubt that the Supreme Court, despite or perhaps even because of its conservative bloc, will rule in favor of gay marriage?

The Obamacare tax increases

There are some twenty new taxes or tax increases that click in with Obamacare.  Here are the most notable:

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase: Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive.

The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase: The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap).

There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are several million families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.

The Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income – a $123 billion tax increase: This is a new, 3.8 percentage point surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single). . . .

The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions – a $15.2 billion tax increase: Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). This tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans. This tax provision will most harm near retirees and those with modest incomes but high medical bills.

The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike — an $86.8 billion tax increase: The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits. Under this tax hike, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate instead.

via Americans for Tax Reform : Top Five Worst Obamacare Taxes Coming in 2013.

 

The children’s conservative revolution

First lady Michelle Obama has joined with food activists to push through changes in  school lunch menus as a way to combat childhood obesity and promote better nutrition.  But children are rising up in revolution.  A new generation of anti-big government, anti-nanny state meddling, is born!  The Tea Party is passing its generational torch to the School Lunch Party.

A new product has popped up on the city’s black market and it’s selling in an unexpected place: Greater New Bedford Vocational-Technical High School, which has become ground zero for a new underground economy based on trade in chocolate syrup.

Students said some of their peers are buying the contraband liquid for 50 cents and squeezing it into cartons of white milk to give it flavor. It’s their way of coping with a ban on flavored milk — and a long list of other items — that took effect Aug. 1.

“Of course they got rid of dessert, (but) flavored milk … I don’t understand why we can’t have that,” said Paige Lame , 17, of New Bedford. She added that she thought the nutritional difference between white milk and chocolate, strawberry or coffee flavored milk was too minimal to have an important impact on health.

The changes reflect stricter nutrition standards imposed in January by the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move” initiative.

They are also part of a law passed by the state Legislature in 2010 as a step toward combating childhood obesity. That law states that milk with more sugar than nonfat or 1 percent white milk may not be served a la carte starting in August 2013.

The rules, which apply to schools across the state, also reduce the amount of protein served to high schoolers, and increase servings of fruit and vegetables — going so far as to specify how many servings of green vegetables, legumes, and red/orange vegetables should be consumed each week. . . .

The changes are especially hard at the elementary school level, where hummus and black bean salad have been a tough sell, said Nancy Carvalho, director of food services for the New Bedford Public Schools, adding that bowls of chili served Wednesday to comply with the legume specifications were “not a very good decision.” . . .

At Voc-Tech, the changes have produced complaints from some students that portions are too small — particularly since the price of lunch has increased 10 cents to $1.95, again due to a federal mandate.”How do they expect us to go through the day and work hard when they give us smaller portions and we’re hungry?” said Ashley Chaneco, 13, of New Bedford.

“You’re paying more for less,” said Erik Cortez, 16, of New Bedford. “I get it, but why should they have the right to tell you what you can and can’t eat?”

via Healthy food policy at school jumpstarts chocolate syrup trade | SouthCoastToday.com.

Imagine trying to get elementary school-aged kids to eat humuus!

Hungry school children are now bringing their lunches and eating more snacks.  See this report.

And this new rising generation of radicalized students, newly opposed to big government and nanny-state meddling, are battling the oppression with the tools that they have.  Not only setting up black markets for chocolate syrup and other newly-controlled substances, but using the new information technology to promote the cause.   Consider this very creative video they made, which has now, of course, gone viral:


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