Personal Hypocrisy

I empathize with Internet politics enthusiasts on the Left who are frustrated by the Right’s rapid online ascendancy. That doesn’t justify an obsession with undermining the online-fueled strength of the Tea Party movement, as Micah Sifry, Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) and co-founder, does in this post.

Sifry writes:

I have two theories: first, that even with the growth on the right of the past two years, the online progressive base is still bigger than the online conservative base, and second, that the Tea Party's actual base of support--while large and important--isn't anywhere nearly as big as advertised.

He acknowledges that there is more base enthusiasm for Republican candidates than Democrats this year, but takes pains to prove this is not translating online. His proof? Counter-examples to the chart in this recent IBDInvestor’s piece that shows Republican online properties drawing more interest than similar Democratic properties. shows DailyKos trouncing HotAir by a wide margin almost all year, except for the month of May (perhaps due to Rand Paul's breakthrough victory in Kentucky?. The same pattern holds when you look at other top right-wing sites, like HotAir, Michelle Malkin, or

However, this only shows that the most popular liberal blog gets more traffic than several popular conservative blogs, not an overall picture of conservative blog readership. It says nothing about activism levels.

To debunk the strength of the Tea Party movement online, Sifry hones in on the claims of the Tea Party Patriots, one of several “Tea Party” named groups with an online community. This misses the point.

The Right’s strength online hinges on Tea Party activism, but it also includes excitement around the individual campaigns, and the efforts those campaigns are exerting to harness that enthusiasm. It also includes a media mix of enthusiasm from talk radio.

Rise of the Right

When an online movement helped Democrats take the House and Senate in 2006 and the White House in 2008, they had reason to be confident in their online organizing prowess. Many believed this would help secure their place in power for years, perhaps decades, to come.

Yet, just two years later, it’s Republican elected officials, not Democrats, who have institutionalized YouTube communications; Republican Senate candidates have four times the Facebook support of their Democratic counterparts; the conservative base, under the banner of the Tea Party, has used their blogs, Twitter accounts and email lists to mobilize and fundraise their way to victory over powerful establishment candidates. And President Barack Obama, the Web 2.0 community’s great hope for embracing transparency and changing government through online innovation has faltered.

As Patrick Ruffini, my partner at Engage, and I stated in this January 2010 piece, the Right has caught up online. I’d even argue now that the Right has surpassed the Left. This all depends on what and how you measure, but I suggest an equation that includes, not only blog readership or individual Ning groups, but elected official, issue organization, campaign and grassroots activity.

Regardless, the true measure of a movement’s impact hinges on the number of people influenced to mobilize on the ground and vote. By this metric, Tea Party success this year has left little to debate or interpret.  

Sifry, a friend, a liberal progressive, and someone I admire and respect, has focused in the past on showcasing Democratic and Republican advances online in tandem. Yet, this post reeks of sore loser-ism. He couches his post as a heroic attempt to set the media straight. Instead, with a sub-heading “Tea Party Poop,” it comes across as an attempt to belittle.

Enemy of My Enemy

Sifry and I often see eye-to-eye, and here too we agree:

  1. The media tends to muddle the relationship between online activity and offline momentum, often reporting the former as if it has caused, not resulted from, the latter. This occurred during the 2008 election and continues today;
  2. You can’t take the numbers -- Facebook likes, blog traffic and Ning membership -- at face value.

I also agree with a point he has made in the past about money-ed organizations playing a role in Tea Party mobilization efforts, although I remind that they also did in supporting candidate Obama. Yet, neither of these points detract from the calculable rise of the conservative movement since the election of President Obama, made possible so quickly through the digital revolution.

If you truly believe that the Internet democratizes the process, you should have a level of appreciation for what is happening. An open democracy is one whereby all interested comers -- regardless of age, race or income -- may impact the process. You shouldn’t laud the virtue of more rank-and-file participation on one hand, and disparage it on the other.

That is unless you confine personal democracy to your own ideology. In that case, it’s just personal hypocrisy.

The War at Home

The War at Home While brave men and women fight overseas for our American way of life, we have a war raging at home that many Americans are just waking up to. Some try to label this war Right versus Left, or Republican versus Democrat, but those are smoke screens for the real battle – Statism versus Individual Liberty. It’s time we get down to the crux of the disagreement – do you believe you know best how to run your life or do you believe that the government knows best how to run your life?

Let’s look at a couple of battles in this war.


Our current system has never operated under free market capitalism. Statism won this battle from the start. Since the first health insurance program was conceived by Blue Cross in the 1920’s, government has been involved in subsidizing and controlling how health insurance is offered. Since that time, there has been increasing government intrusion in the health care industry to the point that in 2010, the government has effectively taken over the industry. The “Individual Liberty” option never had a chance, even though we have seen Statism tried and failed in Europe. Universal health care is bankrupting Europe while providing inferior service.

So, what would the “Individual Liberty” option look like as applied to health care? 1. Competition amongst insurance companies, including the ability to buy health insurance over state lines (the original intent of the Commerce Clause), which would be an incentive to lower the cost of coverage. 2. Owning your own insurance versus employer-paid insurance. Which means you don’t lose insurance if you lose your job. 3. Choice on scope of coverage just like in your auto or home insurance, you don’t pay for the coverage of expenses your lifestyle doesn’t require. Repealing the laws that prevent these 3 changes would deal with most of the problems in today’s health care chaos.


Here again, we have tried the Statism approach of the Federal government making the decision for all of us that certain business were “too big to fail”. The bailouts didn’t achieve their stated goals and arguably made the problems worse. GM claims they paid off their loan but, in reality, they just borrowed more money from you and me to pay off what they already owed you and me. TARP (for which Congressman Wamp and other Republicans voted yes) transferred billions of dollars from taxpayers to a select few bank executives to do with what they willed with essentially no strings attached. Has credit been freed up? Have you been able to get a better mortgage or business loan?

Now let’s look at the “Individual Liberty” approach. GM made a series of poor decisions that led them into bankruptcy. GM would argue that the government is to blame as there were so many regulations to comply with. They are right, in part, there are too many regulations that make doing business in the US very difficult, and that should be changed. However, other car companies are surviving even this economy. The Liberty approach would have let GM fail; we wouldn’t be out the billions of dollars we gave them, other companies would have bought up GM’s assets and put them back to use and employed the laid off workers. Same story for the failed banks. The bailouts have actually prolonged the recession by preventing this natural recovery process.

These are just two of the many examples of Statism making problems worse instead of solving them, so why this battle against Individual Liberty? It’s simple. Statism empowers those in government, typically by appealing to the busybodies that want to “help” others with taxpayer money. They convince voters of their concern for the “environment” or for “the children” or for “the less privileged” and that they know what to do about it.

The battle between Statism and Individual Liberty rages on now more than ever because the Statists aren’t willing to give up the power that they have accumulated, and because the busybodies aren’t willing to give up the baseless notion that they can solve all our problems for us. Americans are finally waking up to this war at home. The economic collapse in Europe and repeated failures of socialistic countries give us stark examples of how Statism turns out. The question for voters this 2010 election will be this: do you recognize what’s really going on? Will you pick Liberty or Statism?

Van Irion, Candidate for Congress, Tennessee District 3

Politics as Usual

On February 6, 2010 the Pennsylvania State Democratic Party voted to endorse specific candidates for the May 18, 2010 election and on February 13, 2010 the Pennsylvania State Republican Party followed their lead. "So what." you say. Allow me to add a few personal comments to the above facts. 

The purpose of the May 18th Primary Election is to allow the REGISTERED VOTERS to choose the candidate that they believe best represents their party's platform. Once a party endorses a candidate they put money and volunteers behind that candidate to assist them in winning the election.   This influx of money and help is of great value to the candidate.    I believe that the monies donated to these parties are meant to endorse a candidate who is facing opposition from the other party, not from within their own party.  When a state's political party chooses a candidate to endorse prior to the Primary Election they are telling all the registered voters in that state that they know better than the voters. They are also sending a message to the voters that says, "We are not willing to listen to what you think. We are spending your donated funds for the candidate of our choice, against others within our own party, whether you like it or not."  This is just another example of the Political Machine trying to drive politics, instead of allowing the voters the opportunity to get to know all the people running for the offices before the Primary Election. The Primary Election should be a key election, because it is the election where each party has a variety of candidates on the ballot. Competition is good. When a party makes their endorsements prior to the Primary they tend to limit the variety of candidates on the ballot because many candidates can no longer afford to keep campaigning.  We as voters really do need to be active and informed.  We need to educate ourselves about each candidate prior to the election. One of the best ways to learn about a candidate is by logging onto their website and looking at who is endorsing them. Whom they accept money from is a BIG indicator of who helps develop their policies or ideas.  The ultimate choice is up to us, the voters, on May 18 so educate yourself and VOTE.   


Onward and Upward: Building a Sustainable Majority

This week has been a great one for conservatives across the nation. Scott Brown’s victory proved that, in the words of the increasingly vulnerable Barbara Boxer, “Every state is now in play.” His victory also demonstrated that Republicans can achieve many of the successes that led to Barack Obama becoming the 44th President of the United States — dominating the Internet; raising unbelievable sums of money, especially online; building a massive base of small donors; and having a victory driven by a massive coalition of grassroots activists. With Brown’s victory came the ever-increasing likelihood that the Democrat’s health care bill would be stalled indefinitely. Then came the demise of Air America. All of these events have inspired a new-found confidence among those to the right of center, while liberals and Democrats have pushed the panic button. One of my favorite political minds, Jay Cost, asks, “What Does Obama Do Now?” For those of us on the right, I think conservatives must ask themselves an equally critical question: What do Republicans do now?

I admit that I believe that the GOP is on the verge of a 2010 blowout. As for the magnitude of said blowout, I think it’s too early to say, but in my mind there’s a real chance that Republicans could retake one of the chambers of Congress. However, as I’ve previously cautioned, I don’t believe that a blowout this year will mean things are better for the Republican Party. Winning back seats is great, but as Mindy Finn writes, those on the right must “stop gloating” — and start thinking about building a sustainable majority. A major victory this year will not be the product of a new-found love for the Republican Party; instead, it will be the product of voter disgust and discontent with the status quo, namely with President Obama and Democrats in Congress. The Republican Party is still enormously unpopular itself, and a midterm election blowout due to the aforementioned reasons is not exactly how a sustainable majority is built.

On the other hand, converting what are traditionally considered to be safe blue seats in places like Massachusetts and California (I’m looking at you, Barbara Boxer) to red ones — and finding ways to hold onto those seats — is certainly a step toward a sustainable majority. The same is true of fielding candidates in all 435 Congressional districts every cycle. Embracing transparency and continuing to authentically fight to limit government is another building block in a sustainable majority. Effectively using technology while embracing today’s Age of Participation through peer production is another step. Offering substantial and real policy options that differ from those of the White House and the Democrats is similarly critical.

To the contrary, getting sucked back into the ways of Washington by growing government and increasing spending is a sure way to cede momentum right back to the Democrats. Failing to broaden the base with different demographics, like young voters, Hispanics, or African Americans is another way to likely guarantee that 2010 will be a one-and-done year for Republicans. And of course, growing content with success at any point will inevitably lead right back to defeat.

Like your favorite sports game, momentum is critical in politics. Republicans clearly have the momentum, and barring a dramatic change in the political wind, this momentum will significantly change the composition of the Congress this November. When that happens, the ball will be in the GOP’s court. The crucial question will then be: What will they do with it?

The Youth Vote and the 2009 Elections

Sarah Burris of Future Majority beats me to the punch in rebutting a blog post about a “Rising Tide of the GOP Youth,” as described by The Weekly Standard’s Rachel Hoff. Burris writes:

First, while Rachel is right to congratulate McDonnell for his campaign’s youth outreach, I hardly think it has anything to do with young voters having gone to the GOP…

This doesn’t mean young voters have gone GOP, it means that when you put forth the effort to get young voters, you speak to their issues, and you get out the vote you get a good result.

I wish I felt comfortable celebrating the fact that the 2009 elections meant young voters were turning toward the GOP, but unfortunately I just don’t buy it. Hoff suggests that “18-29 year olds in Virginia voted for Bob McDonnell over the Democrat 54% to 44%” could indicate a new trend, but as Burris notes, in Virginia there was not a “strong Democrat at the top of the ticket but…[there was] a strong Republican.” The unfortunate fact is that one Republican candidate’s successful effort in winning the youth vote does not indicate any sort of trend for future elections (for a counterargument, just look to New Jersey, where 57% of young voters voted for Corzine).

And while Hoff notes that “turnout among 18-29 year olds was 19% in New Jersey and only 17% in Virginia,” an “alarmingly low” turnout, it would be a huge mistake for the GOP to write off the youth vote based upon these numbers. As I have written previously, what’s at stake here is that the Republican Party stands to lose a generation of voters to the Democratic Party, potentially for life. Although Chairman Steele has taken some major efforts to reform the Republican National Committee, such as a huge push to modernize the RNC’s new media efforts, there still has not been a substantial push by Steele’s RNC to win over young voters.

In the end, both Burris and Hoff agree that making a real, authentic effort to earn the votes of young voters will result in young voter turnout. The Republican Party still has time left to turn the tide and prevent many of today’s young voters from becoming lifelong Democrats; however, the clock is ticking and time is running out. Major congratulations are due to the McDonnell campaign and their young voter outreach, but there is no time to pat ourselves on the back. Both the RNC and Republican candidates must follow Bob McDonnell’s lead and find unique new ways to reach out to and ultimately win over young voters.

Why a 2010 Blowout Will Not Mean Things Are Better

After the 2002 and 2004 elections, Republicans celebrated electoral victories that many thought would put them in the position to maintain a long-term majority. In turn, Democrats pushed the panic button and began looking for ways to turn things around. Likewise, after 2006 and 2008, it was the opposite effect, with Democrats claiming a permanent majority, and Republicans looking to rebuild.

Once again, the political climate seems to be changing, this time in favor of Republicans. President Obama’s approval ratings are continuing to trend significantly downward, with the latest Rasmussen Poll even suggesting that the majority of Americans disapprove. More voters believe that the economic stimulus plan has hurt the economy than helped it. Support for the public health option continues to tumble, too.

Looking at these trends and others, Patrick Ruffini writes that a 2010 blowout is quite possible, and I really don’t disagree at all. However, I wanted to offer a word of caution in the case Republicans win (or win big) in 2010, despite the fact that I recently Tweeted the following:

No more “[Name] for President” group invites on Facebook, please. Let’s focus on winning in 2010 first and worry about 2012 after!

Such a victory in 2010 will by no means indicate that things are better for Republicans long-term. Rather, it would be the result of a number of fortunate circumstances. Just see Ruffini’s suggestions as to why Republicans should prepared for a blow out:

  • The horrendous 2006 and 2008 cycles have depressed Republican totals in Congress to far below the historical mean. Though the fact that there were two successive 20+ seat losses in the House and 5+ seat losses in the Senate in the House is historically unique, collectively they equal one 1980 or 1994-style wipeout — after which Democrats finally began to recover.
  • The unique confluence of youth and African American turnout for Obama padded vote totals for Congressional Democrats by about 4 points — and in a midterm — I’m sorry — those votes won’t be there. We saw this pretty clearly in the Georgia Senate runoff. In 2012, however, those voters might be back — making 2010 an opportune moment for a promising Congressional challenger to gain a foothold.
  • The Democrats are now clearly responsible for everything, and trying to blame Bush and the GOP wears thinner and thinner by the day. Even if the economy recovers somewhat, and with massive job losses still on the horizon, I don’t see people feeling that recovery, let’s remember that the economy was in a clear recovery by 1994 but that didn’t help Clinton and Democrats.

The bottom line — and what Republicans cannot forget, even with a huge win in 2010 — is that these fortunate circumstances are not something around which you can build a sustainable majority. Voters aren’t always going to be ticked about the economy, the Democrats won’t always have a filibuster-proof majority, and although the “unique confluence of youth and African American turnout” may not be there in 2010, as Ruffini notes, “in 2012 … those voters might be back”. And as I’ve been writing about lately, the RNC hasn’t done a darn thing to try to win over young voters while the DNC continues to find new ways to earn their support. While these voters may not show up in 2010, in 10-15 years they will no longer be youth voters — instead, they will represent the kind of middle-aged voters that Republicans will need to turn out, both during Presidential election years and during mid-term and other off years.

So while there are many reasons to be excited about the prospects of 2010, the political climate will likely change again from 2010 to 2012, as it often does.  Although focusing on the short-term may end in positive results in 2010, Republicans still must think long-term about building a sustainable majority. Otherwise, the GOP may soon again face another 2006 or 2008 — but the next time, it may be much harder to turn around.

Once Again, the RNC Stands Pat While the DNC Innovatively Involves Young Voters

While the RNC continues to stand pat instead of giving young voters a legitimate role in the future of the Party — or even simply establishing its own Young Voter Outreach Arm to compete with the Democratic National Committee’s Youth Council — the Democrats continue to find new and innovative ways to involve young voters in the Democratic Party.

Michael Connery at Future Majority notes that the DNC Youth Council, along with College Democrats, is holding a joint fundraiser, presumably to “show the party committees that young people can help [Democrats] raise money.” You can view the entire event for the “Celebrating Youth Fundraiser” on Facebook, but the highlight is this:

Come meet Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), DNC Vice Chair Raymond Buckley, DNC Political Director Clyde Williams, Organizing for America Political Director Addisu Demissie, former Obama for America Youth Vote Director Leigh Arsenault, and young staffers from the Obama administration to learn about the amazing career opportunities available in Democratic politics.

For a party that sits squarely in the filibuster-less minority status, I would think that the RNC would be eager to find innovative ways like this to involve young voters and recruit new young faces to help rebuild the party.

After all, when Michael Steele took over as Chairman of the RNC, we were promised that things would change. So when will the RNC start fighting to win young voters and to involve new leaders in the party’s future?

How #capandtr8tors have (unwittingly) made the case for Marco Rubio.

Wasting no moment after seeing the list of those eight wretched souls who betrayed us Friday on what could be the most important vote of their careers, I immediately started my search for primary challengers.  Like many Republicans, I watched the vote with bated breath, wondering if Eric Cantor's whip team could deliver the final blow after John Boehner's triumphant parliamentary smackdown earlier in the day.  Thus, when the final result came in, there was only one thing on my mind: vengeance.

I searched the internet until I found my prize: a self proclaimed political consultant and budding perrenial candidate in Delaware by the name of Christine O'Donnell.  The uncontested Republican nominee was destroyed by Joe Biden in the 2008 race for Senate, even as Biden ran for Vice-President.  However, I thought: Mike Castle, one of those wretched souls, is considering running  in the upcoming special election to replace Ted Kaufman.  Maybe we could support her... Maybe O'Donnell was underfunded...  Maybe, with the right campaign, with the right support, she could be our weapon to give Mike Castle the electoral punishment he deserved--and show him that we hold people accountable...

The desire to find someone to run against Castle was immense.  But then, reality set in: O'Donnell could never win, the GOP bench in the NE is virtually nonexistent, Beau Biden will soon return to attempt to claim his father's seat, and Mike Castle could be our only chance to stop him.  This sniveling, traitorous bastard who just voted for, among other things, the largest tax in history, could be our only chance.

And, it was at that moment that my thought was completed: our only chance to defeat Cap and Trade will come in the early fall at the hands of the U.S. Senate.  Post 2010, as we prepare to deal with the second half consequences of the President's term, can we afford to count on people like Mike Castle and Charlie Crist in the Senate to deliver for our principles when it really counts?

John Cornyn says that his justification for supporting Governor Crist was purely political: a crunch of name ID and popularity.  Concurrently, with the notable and honorable exception of Senator Jim DeMint, the party establishment has rejected Marco Rubio as a hopeless candidate and a political liability.   Through it all, our party leadership has clearly revealed itself as obsessed with the concept of electoral success and increasingly unconcerned with what this win-at-all-costs mentality means to not only our principles, but our chances of actually ever becoming a majority again.

It is clear that, should Charlie Crist be elected to the U.S. Senate, he will immediately cast himself in the mold of Mike Castle, and the Democrats will have one more ally on the other side of the aisle to betray his party's principles when they need him most.  And, unless we can change, we will continue to support and (sometimes) elect candidates that will leave us at the altar.  Instead of adhering to the true "big tent" values of the Republican party, we're whoring out the label of (R) to anyone who wants it, and paying big for the consequences.  We've backed ourselves into a corner, and we have to find a way to get out.

What Marco Rubio represents is not just a return to conservativism, nor is it just a younger generation picking up the torch-- it's a collective realization that recruiting folks that are unwaveringly committed to a core set of values is the only way that we can both elect new Republicans and count on them once they're on the floor.  If we can rebuild our backbench, nationwide, with people like him (they exist everywhere, we just have to find them), we can start the process of healing. 

Ronald Reagan's famous 80/20 quip is a great justification for the big tent philosophy we should have as a party.  Sure, many of us disagree on social issues, even a little on fiscal policy.  But, as Republicans, we need to know where to draw the line, and we need to see the consequences that are playing out in front of us for failing to see where it is. 

And, thus, the Republicans who voted for Friday's bill, including Rep. Castle, have shown us these consequences-- that, when you support lame candidates, you pay dearly.  Who knows how Governor Crist will betray us if he's elected to the Senate-- the more important question: is there anyone who thinks he won't?

To me, one of the  most depressing things about Friday's vote is that we're already locked into the consequences of this failure in Delaware in having to support Mike Castle.  In 2010, I'm not stepping a foot inside the state of Delaware for any candidate.  In public, I'll support Mike Castle.  But, if Beau Biden wins, at least we're not fooling ourselves.

- The author, James Barnes, is the Chairman of the College Republicans of the District of Columbia and can be reached at


In Politics Two Wrongs Still Don't Make a Right

I find it puzzling that I consistently see the same wrongheaded argument being presented to me by my Democrat friends in their desperate efforts to excuse the excesses of the Obama administration. I'll bring up something like massive troop deployments in Afghanistan and Pakistan or inprecedented deficit spending and corporate bailouts, and their rote reply seems to be that I can't criticize Obama because of all the terrible things that Bush did. Further, because I'm a Republican then I must be complicit in whatever crimes Bush committed and therefore am disqualified from questioning or criticizing Obama.

What they seem to miss here is that if the things Bush did were wrong, then aren't the same things still equally wrong when they are done by Obama? Aren't they even more wrong when they are done by Obama on a larger scale? Bush overspent and created deficits. Obama has already doubled his spending in a few months. Bush deployed hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our interests are at best debatable. Obama has done the same and is talking about a deployment more than double the size of Bush's biggest commitment to the region. I defy any Obama supporter to identify a qualitative difference between the excess spending and troop deployment of the Obama administration and that of his predecessor. There is certainly a quantitative difference. Obama has dramatically spent more money and put more lives at risk for less reason. If I'm disqualified from criticizing Obama because of Bush, then why aren't Democrats disqualified from criticizing Bush because Obama has done the exact same things and worse?

Their second error is the repeated assumption that because I bear the "Republican" brand I must have supported every Republican and every act of a Republican going back to my infancy. Apparently I have to shoulder the blame for everything both Bushes did wrong and presumably for the sins of Reagan, Ford and Nixon as well. Never mind that I actively protested Nixon's administration, wrote scores of articles critical of Bush and his policies during the last 8 years, and voted Libertarian in every presidential election since 1980. Does this mean that conversely they are going to accept responsibility for the Carter's loss of the Panama Canal, the Drug War, Vietnam and Jim Crow laws? Somehow I doubt it.

Their belief that all Republicans are the same ought to be embarassing, if they had any sense of shame. Their victory in the last election gives Democrats a certain level of arrogance and a tendency to gloat which is truly unappealing and apparently makes them immune to any obligation to think with any subtlety about political issues. They just can't grasp that Republicans are a diverse group. They assume that we're all warmongering, Bible-thumping reactionaries who are apparently on the verge of becoming domestic terrorists -- at least so Obama's Department of Homeland Security seems to believe. My actual beliefs seem to matter nothing to them -- as a Republican I can't possibly be pro-choice, areligious and generally opposed to unnecessary wars. They would certainly never believe that I know thousands of other Republicans who are politically active, share those views and were critical of Bush over these and many other issues.

You would think that some simple self-examination would enlighten them. Lyndon LaRouche, the Unabomber and Louis Farrakhan are or have been active members of the Democratic party and remain largely on the poilitical left. Does that mean that all Democrats share their views? There are even large factions within the political left and the Democratic party which don't agree with each other. Most of the Democrats I know aren't outright socialists or communists, but those philosophies thrive within the progressive wing of the party. Nativism and strong anti-immigrant beliefs are common among union Democrats, but many other Democrats remain liberal on the immigration issue. If their party isn't homogenous, why do they assume that all Republicans are the same?

This idea that the sins of one administration or political faction do not excuse the abuses of another also extends to foreign policy and seems to confuse the left there as well. When dealing with the issue of Iran, they always seem to fall back on blaming the United States because we put the Shah in power. Apparently we have to excuse the sins of the current regime because of the wrongs done by the Shah. Never mind that they killed more political dissidents in their first two years in power than the Shah killed in 17 years and have done more to limit freedoms for the general population and especially for women than the Shah ever did. It's the same with Israel. Because Israel is militarily aggressive and inhumane, it excuses every action of violent excess from the terrorist groups and equally aggressive and inhumane neighbors like Syria and Iran. Somehow Arab violence doesn't count because Israelis deserve it.

What they seem not to grasp is that wrong is wrong and right is right, regardless of the political persuasion of the perpetrator and regardless of the actions of others. You can't pick and choose between murderers and madmen and say that the crimes of one are excused because of the crimes of another. You can't excuse the policies of someone you voted for and criticize someone you opposed for policies which are exactly the same. While there may be different standards of what is right and wrong, whatever standards you choose to accept have to be applied uniformly. If you don't follow that rule and instead live by a subjective double standard which applies one set of rules to those you like and another to those you dislike, then you should expect rational people to dismiss your political opinions as worthless and brand you a hypocrite.

So please, the next time I criticize Obama or your favorite terrorists or Hugo Chavez, please keep in mind that the things they do should be judged on their own flaws and merits. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and nothing done by someone else excuses or justifies them.

Rubio vs. Crist Will Prove Who Controls the GOP

For much of the build up to the 2008 Democratic primaries, the consensus among political oddsmakers, pollsters, and politicos (myself included) was that Hillary Clinton was virtually a shoo-in to win the Democratic nomination. After all, the Clintons were the most powerful name in the Democratic Party, and as a result the Democratic machine fought tooth and nail to ensure Clinton’s victory. However, after the Iowa caucus, it became clear that Barack Obama — the junior Senator from Illinois with less than a full term of experience under his belt — would provide some serious competition for the nomination. In the end, the Democratic machine backing Clinton was pitted against the grassroots who supported Obama, and a fairly incredible phenomenon in politics happened: the grassroots won!

The ongoing Senate race in Florida between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist presents the Republicans with the very same narrative. Crist has received the endorsement of the NRSC, while a large portion of the GOP grassroots and netroots has expressed an outpouring of disdain for the endorsement and are fighting to elect Rubio (or at least for the NRSC to remain neutral in the race). Although not quite at the Presidential level, this is very much the GOP’s version of Obama vs. Clinton.

Of course, the important question here then is, “Who ultimately controls the GOP, the grassroots or the machine?” — and obviously, the only way to answer this question is to see how the race turns out.

(Personally, I’ll be pulling for the grassroots. If you feel the same way, you can donate to Marco Rubio here.)

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