Friday, February 29, 2008

Sticks or Carrots?

Who would have thought Massachusetts would be more genteel than Kentucky? Judging by their respective Democratic politicians, that appears to be the case, at least with respect to gambling issues.

Whereas in Kentucky, the Democratic "leadership" instills loyalty on their side of the aisle by revoking committee assignments from Democrats who do not toe the party line, in Massachusetts, the Democratic bosses deal with their dissenters by giving them job promotions.

That's how SouthCoastToday.com sees it:

The politics of casinos seems to be dominating all thought on Beacon Hill.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Sal DiMasi announced the appointments of eight Democrats to leadership positions, raising their profiles and inflating their paychecks.

Of those eight, five have been proponents of expanded gaming, a position DiMasi has fought with all his being. So immediately there was speculation that the speaker was seeking to cut into support for Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan for three commercial resort casinos, which is expected to be considered by the House this spring.

Whether you believe DiMasi’s latest moves smack of political gamesmanship or not, the secrets and subterfuge going on here can’t match what’s happening in Kentucky.

Only time will tell whether sticks or carrots are better at keeping a herd of donkeys moving together in a straight line.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

McConnell Approval Rating Rises Again

SurveyUSA, a poll known for underestimating support of Republicans, shows that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's already strong level of support increased last month.

WHAS reported that the poll (which it commissioned) shows that 52 percent of those adults surveyed approve of McConnell's job performance as U.S. Senator. Only 39 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the job McConnell is doing; that number is down from 44 percent last month. Like last month's poll, McConnell continues to show no gender gap.

Bill Proposes Collective Bargaining -- Just for Schools

It's bad enough that the Beshear administration has proposed cutting school funding for such frivolities as teacher training and text books. Now, a proposed bill would force schools -- and only schools -- to enter into collective bargaining.

The proposed bill that Joni Jenkins and Rick Nelson (both Democrats) introduced in the General Assembly differs from other collective bargaining bills in that this one only applies to schools rather than all public employees. As if Kentucky school districts have extra money to spread around to the teachers' unions.

Perhaps the most offensive aspect of House Bill 650 is its utter contempt for local school boards. The bill would gut the ability of those community members who sit on school boards -- whose children attend the school -- to make fundamental decisions about the cost of labor, even though that constitutes nearly 75 percent of a typical school district's budget.

Specifically, the Bill would destroy a local school board's right to decide whether it wants to enter into contract negotiations with employee unions. At present, according to the Kentucky School Board Association, fewer than a dozen of Kentucky's 174 school boards have chosen that option. If House Bill 650 is enacted, collective bargaining for schools will no longer be optional.

The bill suffers from numerous other flaws. It fails to define what constitutes an illegal strike. It forces any contract negotiations that cannot be resolved within 30 days to be mediated by the Department of Labor. That's a pretty short fuse, given that school boards meet monthly. It allows teachers to strike over non-contract issues, such as sick leave and refusal to perform assigned duties.

Given that our state government, for all practical purposes, has ceased to function, this is not the time to take away local control. House bill 650 is poorly written and poorly reasoned. It is a disservice to our students and an insult to local decision-making. Republicans need to ensure that it does not become law.

"Leadership" That Frankfort Doesn't Need

Today's lead editorial in the Courier-Journal, entitled "Flash of leadership", weighs in on the Democrats' casino amendment maneuvering in predictable fashion. Not surprisingly, the C-J's editorial says nothing critical of the "pay to play" politics behind Governor Beshear's gambling agenda. In fact, the editorial notes that "[o]f course, the ractracks, gambling corporations, horse breeders and owners were also bound to enter the fray."

Nor is it suprising that the C-J praises the heavy-handed tactics of House Speaker Jody Richards, who canned his Democratic colleague Rep. Dottie Sims from the House committee considering various casino amendments, "to make room for two others whose votes he could count on."

The C-J pooh-poohs Sims' remark that Richards acted like a "communist" for dismissing Sims because she did not vote his way. Instead, the C-J calls it "democracy in action" for Richards to stack the committee with yes-men.

But aren't Richards' actions exactly the kind of legislative shenanigans in which communists engage? How else was Raul Castro elected President of Cuba unanimously last week? By making every member of the Cuban National Assembly that elected him toe the party line -- the same message Richards apparently is trying to send in Frankfort these days.

What the C-J calls a "Flash of leadership" looks more like a straight flush of something else.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reid Flips His "Obstructionist" Theme

Democrats are flummoxed by yesterday's vote by Republicans to proceed with debate on Senator Feingold's amendment to cut and run from Iraq. That is clear from the statements of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor:

Democratic leaders had planned to use this week's floor time to debate high-profile legislation on relief for Americans facing home foreclosures. "It is obvious to me what the game plan is: They want us to slow the Senate down from getting things done," Senator Reid said, after the 70-to-24 vote to take up the Iraq bill. "It is very clear that they are going to do everything they can to stop us from getting to the housing legislation, which the American people badly need."

So to try and salvage what is likely to be another resounding legislative defeat for far-left Democrats on Iraq, Reid audaciously flips their "obstructionism" theme. Earlier they had complained that Republicans are hurting the American people by preventing the Senate from voting on proposed Democratic legislation. Now, they complain that Republicans are hurting the American people by allowing the Senate to vote on proposed Democratic legislation. Call it the "d**mned if they do, d**mned if they don't" election-year strategy.

William F. Buckley Dies

William F. Buckley has died. It is a sad day for conservatives, who will miss his intellect, humor and eloquence. Read the National Review Online tributes here.

Buckley's passing makes me wonder: who is his equivalent on the left? I cannot thing of anyone who comes close; is there one? And if not, why not?

Update: Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell comments on to Buckley's life and legacy.

Lunsford the Carpetbagger?

U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Lunsford just bought a two million dollar home on a golf course, and it wasn't Valhalla. Page One reports that Lunsford's new crib is located in Scottsdale, Arizona.

There hasn't been much activity from the Lunsford campaign, and perhaps this explains why. Given that Senator John McCain has now effectively secured the Republican nomination for president, there is a possibility -- if McCain wins -- that Arizona may need a new senator.

Granted, it's a slim possiblity. But even slimmer are the odds that Lunsford will beat Mitch McConnell. If Kentucky won't elect Lunsford as its senator, maybe he'll have better luck in Arizona.

It appears that Arizona only requires its federal candidate to be an "Inhabitant of Arizona when elected."

Speculating on a possible successor to McCain, the Phoenix Business Journal reported that there are "a number of deep-pocketed business executives who might be recruited for the short election campaign in which personal wealth would be an advantage." That could describe Lunsford. And it sounds like the invisible hand of DSCC head Chuck Schumer.

Now we wait and see if Lunsford buys any real estate in Illinois.

Update: Lunsford already owns property in Chicago, Illinois, and used that address to buy the Arizona home. Moreover, as Kentucky Politics points out, Lunsford's residency in Kentucky -- a requirement of his candidacy -- is now open to question.

Color My Burkha Crimson

Harvard University has given in to requests of Muslim women to close its gym to men for six hours a week to "accomodate" women who feel "uncomfortable" or "awkward" exercising in the presence of men.

Harvard Islamic Society's Islamic Knowledge Committee officer, junior Ola Aljawhary, concedes that the policy was in part initiated by the school's Islamic group. Nonetheless. she maintains that women-only hours are not a case of "minority rights trumping majority preference." She notes that women of different faiths have showed interest in the hours.

"These hours are necessary because there is a segment of the Harvard female population that is not found in gyms not because they don't want to work out, but because for them working out in a co-ed gym is uncomfortable, awkward or problematic in some way," she said.

That rationale proves too much. If all it takes to close down the gym is the assertion that a woman feels "uncomfortable or awkward," then fat women might similarly claim the right to exercise without men. Likewise slender and attractive women, who don't want to be hit on while they work out. That's why some women join Curves for Women and others go to Wellesely. Muslim women, of course, have the same options.

And so we get to the real rationale:

"We live together in one community, it only makes sense for everyone to compromise slightly in order for everyone to live happily," she said. "This matter is simple: Can't we just display basic decency and show tolerance and inclusion for people not a part of the mainstream majority?"

"Tolerance and inclusion" : those are code words to warn white men that they are about to get discriminated against, and better like it.

There are aspects to Harvard banning the men from the gym that are just surreal. First, Harvard was founded as a men's institution. Women asked to be included. And that has to imply that women will suffer the presence of men, even during exercise. If anything, the men have stronger precedent to demand the right to exercise without women.

Here's the deal, ladies. When you graduate, you will be forced to work with men, no matter what field you pursue. It's better to learn to accept that now. Indeed, you should take advantage of the opportunity to play squash with your male class mates; it will improve your game.

Ironically, Harvard's first benefactor, John Harvard, was a Puritan minister, though the school's focus became secular. Harvard prides itself on the broad range of backgrounds of its students, and correctly so. It is therefore appropriate for Harvard to welcome the Muslim women, if they meet the academic requirements.

But these women chose to go to there; they applied and matriculated to a school that includes men and did not ban men from the gym, prior to their arrival. And to demand the institution to bend to accomodate their sensibilites -- whether or not they are based on religion -- is the height of arrogance.

The Muslim women really are asking for more than an accomodation: they are asking for an imposition on everyone else. It would be like Orthodox Jews demanding that all students eat Kosher foods. Or an Evangelical Christian forcing all other students to only read texts that do not discuss evolution.

Colleges teach more than academics; they provide life lessons, too. And the Muslim women of Harvard need to learn that it's not all about them.

H/T: Instapundit.

You're Welcome Barack...

Last night in the debate with Mrs. Clinton, Barack thanked the Jewish community by saying that he would not be where he was were it not for the efforts of many courageous Jews in the civil rights struggle. He is correct. Too bad he forgot to say the same thing about Republicans. Were it not for Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation and Republicans taking on Southern Democrats to support the Civil Rights Act, he wouldn't be where he is either. I guess he missed that day in history class....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cut-and-Run Amendment To Be Put Up For Senate Vote

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans sent a loud and clear message to defeatist Democrats today: it's time for them to put up or shut up on legislation to cut and run in Iraq.

The Washington Post reports that "[i]n a surprise move, the Senate voted overwhelmingly today to begin debating a bill that would begin withdrawing troops from Iraq in 120 days and cut funding for battlefield deployments." Why are the Republicans now wanting to open debate and vote on troop withdrawal legislation?

For at least two reasons.

First, there is good news to tell the American people about progress in Iraq. As the Post reports:

"There's been so much improvement in the situation in Iraq. Since they are the ones who want to turn back to the subject, we'd like to spend the time talking about the dramatic improvements in Iraq," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters moments before a preliminary vote on the withdrawal amendment offered by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.).

The Associated Press further elaborated:

The debate, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, "would give us a chance to talk about the extraordinary progress that's been made in Iraq over the last six months, not only on the military side, but also with civilian reconciliation beginning to finally take hold in the country."

The second reason Republicans want to bring Senator Feingold's amendment to a vote is that they know not even many Democrats support it. While most Democrats are good at trash talking the Iraq war to appease their far-left friends at Moveon.org, VoteVets.org, etc., in the final analysis, most U.S. Senators -- including Democrats -- understand that immediate withdrawal from Iraq will be handing the country over to Al Qaida on a silver platter. Level-headed lawmakers know, as Senator Joe Lieberman explained, that Feingold's "resolution . . . offers the same familiar prescription for retreat and surrender."

Indeed, as Reuters reports, "[s]ome Democrats, speaking anonymously, said there could be fewer than 30 votes for the measure in the 100-member Senate."

That's why Republicans are more than happy to allow a vote on Feingold's bill. It will be "a good chance for the Senate to go on record again as refusing to cut off money for the war," according to MSNBC's report of McConnell's remarks.

"All the more so will we oppose it when the fight in Iraq, by all accounts, is showing clear-cut tactical progress, and now, at last, some important political progress is also being made," McConnell said.

Republicans are willing to fight vigorously for victory in Iraq. We shall soon see how much of a fight, and for what cause, the Democrats are prepared to mount in response.

Republican Senate Doesn't Even Have To Vote To Win In Frankfort

Here's a question Governor Beshear must be asking himself in light of today's casino amendment fiasco at a House Committee Meeting: Who needs Republican enemies with Democratic "friends" like these?

Beshear: Send Us More Earmarks!

Governor Steve Beshear took time out from shmoozing Washington to note that the Ohio River bridges cannot be built without federal money. For most of us, that's beyond dispute.

But for Beshear (and Democrats running for U.S. Senate), it's an epiphany: earmarks benefit the district lucky enough to receive them.

Not surprisingly, the Courier-Journal spins Beshear'`s comments into an indictment of the Bush administration rather than an acknowledgment that we need earmarks. Indeed, the C-J headline -- "Beshear criticizes Bush transportation spending"-- suggests just the opposite, that Beshear thinks Bush has spent too much.

In fact, Beshear reiterated that Kentucky requires federal money to build the Ohio River bridges:

"The states don't have the resources to build these mega-projects," Beshear said. "And it is going to require the federal government to be part of that solution. They may not be the whole solution, but they've got to be part of that solution. Otherwise, none of these projects can move forward, whether that's in Kentucky or in any other state in the Union."

Besehear might protest that he doesn't want earmarks -- he simply wants a "national transportation policy" in which the "federal government needs to be a real partner in that policy with state and local governments."

Granted, this is Beshear's first meeting in the Natinal Governor's Association. But even a newbie should understand that the faceless bureaucrats in th`e Department of Transportation do not drive Kentucky roads; they don't know whether we need a bridge and don't care if we get one. Members of the Kentucky delegation, in contrast, drive our roads and know our needs first-hand.

That's why it's so important that our delegation includes as much seniority as possible, and why Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has been so effective at making sure that Kentucky's requests for infrastructure funding don't get buried in some minion's cubicle in Washington.

To be sure, there have been members of Congress who have abused earmarks, which is why McConnell has called for more trasparency. But as Beshear and every resident of the Commonwealth knows, Kentucky hasn't asked for a "Bridge to Nowhere." Just a bridge (or two) to Indiana.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Andrew Moveon.Horne Retreats Back To Vote Vets

Having laid down his rifle in the Kentucky Senate race, the Paradoxical Colonel has apparently resumed "carrying the water," as he might put it, for Vote Vets. The Park Avenue group's web site reports "Lt. Col. Andrew Horne, USMC (ret.)" as back on its roster of "Senior Advisers", after having deserted the post during his short-lived candidacy.

The retreating troops apparently are attempting to regroup and stage a last stand that would make General Custer proud. MSNBC reports that Vote Vets is "part of a larger effort by a consortium of liberal groups, joined today in a conference call with reporters by John and Elizabeth Edwards, against not just McCain but also targeted Republicans."

And guess who one of those targeted Republicans is? Of course, it is the Senator against whom Horne was "not afraid to lose." As the head of Moveon.org -- the commander-in-chief of Vote Vets -- disclosed:

The group’s "top-tier" targets . . . are four senators -- Maine’s Susan Collins, New Hampshire John Sununu, Minnesota’s Norm Coleman, and Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell.

Funny, given that Vote Vets claims to be "non-partisan", there's not a single Democrat in the group.

John Solz, the president of Vote Vets, "gave a preview of what the group’s tactics against McCain will be in the fall":

We’re going to continue to target Sen. McCain between now and the election,” Soltz said, adding. “We’re not going to disparage his service…. He served with honor, but when it comes to his policy on Iraq, he is no different than George W. Bush.”

So does that mean the verminous veterans will now accuse of McCain "aiding the enemy" and being a "coward" and "chickenhawk"? Those are, after all, Vote Vets' favorite rants against people who do not agree with their cut and run strategy in Iraq.

When it comes to the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Horne knows a little something about cutting and running. Now we know the DemoBlogs take the position that Horne is the victim of a vast Left-Wing conspiracy to force him out from the race. Chuck Schumer, however, takes no prisoners.

We Thought Clinton Supporters Stabbed People in the Back

This takes political divisiveness to a whole new level. A Hillary Clinton supporter stabbed his brother-in-law, a Barrack Obama supporter, in the stomach.

Jose Antonio Ortiz, a 41 year old resident of Pennsylvania, was debating Democratic politics with his 28 year old brother-in-law, Sean Shurelds, in the kitchen. Shurelds complained that Obama has been "trashing" Clinton.

The Smoking Gun (via Drudge) reports that:

Ortiz, a Clinton supporter, replied that "Obama was not a realist." While not exactly fighting words, the verbal political tiff led to some mutual choking and punching. And, allegedly, a stabbing in the abdomen.

This explains why Democrats are always so anxious to ban handguns; they just make primaries too dangerous. The Super Delegates are now super scared.

"Financial" Cost of War

Look at all the money the war is costing us! We hear this all the time in the media. As one discusses the financial cost of war, we have to be careful not to forget those who have paid the ultimate price, those who have been wounded and those who have dedicated their lives for our freedoms. Unfortunately wars cannot be won without sacrafice.

But liberal accounts say the war has cost us $495,000,000,000.00 plus. Yes that is billions. http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home Let us also try to understand that this site states "War in Iraq" but I will be willing to bet it includes the "War in Afghanistan" and the collective "War on Terror". So semantics seem to confuse the issue.

Now let's try to get our hands on this figure. Ever take an economics course? Ever take an accounting course? Cost has two factors to it called fixed cost and variable cost. Fixed cost is explained as cost incurred that does not change and are considered hard to lower and comes as the cost of operating a business, in our case National Defense. Variable cost is cost that fluctuates daily and with certain events. One needs to add Fixed Cost and Variable Cost together to get a Total Cost. For our purposes, Fixed Cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan (War on Terror) + Variable Cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan (War on Terror) = Total cost of War in Iraq and Afghanistan (War on Terror).

So our War on Terror (Iraq War + Afghanistan War + plus just maintaining a Defense Department) has a cost of $495 Billion dollars.

We have a standing Military. We have equipment for our standing military, and we have support for our standing military. Whether we are fighting a war or not, we would have all of these associated costs. (FIXED COST) Now we have this war on Terror. Due to this war we have to ship equipment to the war. We have ammunition (bullets, missiles, Unmanned Ariel Vehicles that have missiles called Predators, bombs, cruise missiles, etc). We also have to replace vehicles that have been damaged or "taken out." We also have to establish support for our warriors that are now farther away. All of this has associated costs which we label Variable Cost. Add them up and we have Total Cost of War on Terror.

Let's us understand our fixed cost. 850,000,000 personnel in the military. Each receives a salary to defend us. Each is given a set of uniforms, each is trained for a specific MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), each is issued a rifle or something to fight with and each is fed and housed. We can see very quickly that the fixed cost of running our defense is enormous. It is actually about 4.3 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). During WW2 it was 38 percent of our GDP. (Yes there is no decimal point in this percent) Just to try to get a handle on these costs. I recently read that the USS Reagan cost $127 million per day to operate.

So my question and I can't find the answer is how much of Variable Cost is our War on Terror costing us? It is not fair to present the total cost because we would have to pay for our military whether it is at war or not. The true cost of the War on Terror is only the additional Variable Cost. Why is it we never are given that figure?

Oh! By the way Americans spend $1 billion on chewing gum per year, and this past year Americans spent $41 billion on our pets. Current U.S. aid to Africa is expected to be $ 9 billion. Just for perspective.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Cincinnati Enquirer Gets It

We're still waiting on the Courier-Journal to denounce Governor Beshear's "pay to play" politics. But at least today's Cincinnati Enquirer got the point:

"Pay to play" took on an added meaning in Kentucky this week, as casino operator William Yung III, head of Crestview Hills-based Columbia Sussex Corp., defended his $1 million contribution to an advocacy group whose TV ads helped elect Gov. Steve Beshear by underscoring the ethical woes of his predecessor, Ernie Fletcher.

Beshear has proposed an amendment to allow 12 casinos to be built in Kentucky; Yung already has declared that he wants one of the licenses for a casino on the Jillian's site in Covington, property he just bought for $7 million.

Both Beshear and Yung strongly deny that the contribution - along with a $10,000 donation to help fund Beshear's inaugural bash in Frankfort - is resulting in any extra consideration for Columbia Sussex in the state's possible Casino Derby.

Besides, the proposal by Beshear is considered by many a long shot. It must be approved by the legislature this spring, then by voters in November. If not, Yung's $8.01 million ante may be for naught. "Absolutely, we're gambling on it," Yung said. That's the spirit: Roll the dice.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Big-Money, Pay-to-Play Politics" That The C-J Apparently Likes

Given the Courier-Journal's professed concern for "big-money, pay-to-play politics," we were just sure that the C-J would run an editorial today taking Gov. Steve Beshear to task for his efforts to gamble with casino legislation. According to the Associated Press:

A wealthy casino operator is defending an eye-catching $1 million contribution to a political group that worked to elect a pro-gambling governor in Kentucky.

William Yung III, who heads Crestview Hills-based Columbia Sussex Corp., has essentially placed a huge bet that newly elected Gov. Steve Beshear will be able to get the state's long-standing prohibition against casinos lifted.

"I make no apologies for helping get Steve Beshear elected," Yung told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "I've got a First Amendment right to spend my money any way I want to spend it."

We agree with Yung's refusal to apologize for exercising his constitutional rights. We also think the disclosure of Yung's mammoth contribution speaks volumes as to the private interests that will reap huge financial rewards if Beshear's legislative agenda is enacted. In fact, the news of Yung's contribution should have been included on that flyer in our mailboxes yesterday instructing us to "Tell Frankfort to 'Let Kentucky Vote' on Expanded Gaming."

Meanwhile, the silence of the C-J 's editorial writers (although the C-J did publish one op-ed by an outside writer critical of casino legislation) suggests they have no problem with "big-money, pay-to-play politics" when the money being played helps fund Democratic-sponsored casinos.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kentucky Anarchists and Anti-Authoritarians Planning Road Trip

"This is a callout for anarchists and anti-authoritarians in Kentucky and the surrounding area." So begins the plea from Infoshop News, which bills itself as "an independent news service" that is a source of "anarchist news, opinion and much more."

Something called "The Kentucky RNC consulta" will be held on Saturday, March 15. Infoshop News explains the purpose of this meeting:

The Republican National Convention is being held in St. Paul this September, and we are organizing within our region to help shut it down.

This gathering will be as informal as possible. We are hoping to facilitate a discussion on what organizing is already going on throughout the country, and how we can plug into the networks that have already been established. If you have any interest in making history by shutting down the RNC, then we invite you to come out.

Weird. No hitchhiking on the Huckabeast allowed for this crew.

Talking With Kentucky Voters Is A "Cultural Experience"

Those curious Columbia College Democrats are in the news again. They still remember fondly their road trip to Kentucky last fall to campaign for the Beshear-Mongiardo ticket.

But it seems that some at Columbia are not happy about school letting out for the Democrats to do their missionary work in Kentucky. Lydia DePillis, a junior at Columbia, reports:

Not everyone at Columbia likes the Election Day break. The low rate of participation—the Dems are essentially the only ones who send canvassers—has prompted calls for a longer Thanksgiving break if no one uses the election break for its original purpose anyway. Plus, after Election Day had come and gone, the Columbia Dems probably didn’t make much of a difference in Kentucky: Beshear was already beating his opponent by double digits. Why wouldn’t a group from a school like Columbia, Democrat or Republican, use the resources it has to target smaller races where 50 people for five days could really swing an election? And why would people who aren’t hardcore activists go on such a trip at all?

A few reasons: Road trips are fun, and they build group unity. Talking to voters in places far away from school—like Kentucky—is a cultural experience that many students may not otherwise get.

The natives are not amused.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reporter on NYT McCain Hit Piece Also Targeted McConnell

A co-author of the New York Times' hit piece on John McCain's supposed scandals previously authorized a screed against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell that has since been criticized on ethical grounds by the American Journalism Review.

While working as an editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader, Marilyn Thompson solicited and accepted a grant to fund an "investigative" series about McConnell. The grant came from the Center for Investigative Reporting, which was funded by the liberal Deer Creek Foundation -- an organization that had financed litigation against McConnell regarding campaign finance.

The AJR notes that:

In 2006, as editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky, Marilyn W. Thompson wanted her paper to undertake a major project examining Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's political fundraising practices and suggestions of influence peddling. When she realized her lean newsroom budget alone wouldn't cover it, Thompson got her Knight Ridder bosses' enthusiastic approval to seek a grant from the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. The California-based center provided $37,500 to underwrite the salary of reporter John Cheves, who took an unpaid six-month leave of absence to do the project, as well as to cover expenses.

Following publication of the series on McConnell, Thompson left the Lexington Herald-Leader for the Los Angeles Times. And the Herald-Leader was purchased by McClatchy. After reviewing the funding for the series, McClatchy's vice president for news, Howard Weaver, decided to return the grant. Weaver said at the time, "I just think that the relationship [with the outside groups] was sufficiently unorthodox that we don't need to do it."

The pay-for-play funding of the McConnell series, and the controversy it generated, caused the Center for Investigative Reporting to change its procedures, according to the AJR:

The incident made a lasting impression at the center. While there always has been "a complete firewall" between editorial and fundraising, since then "we have made the case more strenuously to funders that we would prefer general operating support as opposed to project-specific support," says Christa Scharfenberg, the center's associate director. (Funding for the McConnell project had come from money Deer Creek had designated for campaign finance coverage.)

When a foundation provides a grant to a journalist, there is a risk, AJR cautions, that "raises concerns about editorial objectivity and whether it has been compromised by a funder." That risk increases where, as in the McConnell series, the grant maker specifies the topic.

After Thompson, the former Herald-Leader editor, left for the LA Times, she then went to the New York Times; thus her byline on the McCain piece. Note, however, that Thompson is the only reporter on the McCain piece whose byline does not include a hyperlink.

Here's why. Thompson left the New York Times to go to the Washington Post, apparently after working on the McCain piece, but before it was published. Consequently,the Post was able to respond to the New York Times McCain piece today -- the same day the New York Times published the McCain piece. Thompson had spent only six months at the Times and authored just four bylines, according to the New Republic.

The Post announced last week that Thompson will serve as "new Washington accountability editor on the National Desk." In that capacity, Thompson will "lead the newspaper’s accountability reporting efforts, including oversight of such Washington subjects and institutions as the White House, Congress, and 'the intersection of money and politics,' according to an internal memo. "

On the issue of the intersection of money and journalism, Thompson brings substantial first-hand experience to her new job.

Update: Although WaPo announced Thompson's hiring last week, it seems her official first day is today. I give her six months.

Hope in man vs. hope in God

I recently listened again to Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream Speech". As I listened to it, I thought about the current rage over Barack Obama and his great oratory. First, Obama, as good as he is, does not hold a candle to the oratory of MLK. More importantly though is a comparison of content between the two men. MLK's words are deep and rich and meaningful, Obama's are shallow and empty and meaningless. MLK spoke volumes; Obama speaks empty pages. You do have to give Obama credit for his remarkable ability to say nothing with great eloquence.

The most telling contrast, and I think this captures the fundamental difference between the two men and their messages, is in their use of the word "hope". When Obama uses the word hope it is about a hope centered in a man. When MLK used the word hope, he was talking about a hope centered in God. The difference between the two men becomes starkly clear: Obama's hope is in men and governments that only offer false hope for a better life; MLK's hope pointed towards the only One who can truly offer a hope that is real.

We Knew That Was Coming

For many conservatives already suspicious of Senator John McCain, the New York Times endorsement of him did not help. It was just a matter of time, however, before the liberal mouth piece would turn on McCain. And now that he has the nomination locked up, the Times has run a hit piece that catalogs McCain's "scandals" going back to the beginning of his political career.

The Times, not surprisingly, dusts off McCain's connections to the "Keating Five" and the S & L crisis. And it discusses McCain's contacts with a lobbyist, who happens to be beautiful, blonde and female.

As the New York Daily News noted, the Times fails to make a direct allegation; it just gives lots of steamy innuendo about something that may or may not have happened nearly a decade ago.

The bar of proof gets raised when we're in the late innings of a presidential primary and your subject is closing in on his party's nomination. You either have the goods, or you don't. And if you don't, fairness and the professional requirements say you don't publish. The consequences deserve no less.

The Times' treatment of McCain is way slimier than any of its insuations against McCain. And coming after its endorsement, it's hypocritical. After all, McCain's ties to the lobbyest -- which appear to be purely professional --were disclosed years ago.

This attempt to manipulate first the Republican primary and now the general election is why circulation of the "Paper of Record" is plummeting. At some point, the Times lost sight of its slogan: "All the news that's fit to print." Without the guts to make a direct allegation against McCain --let alone the proof -- the Times has fallen to the standard of the National Enquirer.

In the meantime, McCain needs to address the unstated allegations of the hit piece forthrightly and quickly.

Update: The New Republic's coverage of the Times coverage makes clear that the Times sat on the story for three months. That is, the Times knew of the story before it endorsed McCain and did not consider it an impediment to backing him. In addition the Times waited to release the story until after McCain was assured of getting the nomination.

Update: At McCain's press conference, held earlier today, he flatly denied the Times' charges. According to the Associated Press:

John McCain says a report by The New York Times suggesting an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist is "not true" and he denied a romantic relationship with her. "It's not true," McCain said as his wife, Cindy, stood alongside him during a news conference.

The Arizona senator described the woman in question, lobbyist Vicki Iseman, as a friend.

McCain says he "will not allow a smear campaign" to distract from his presidential campaign.


. . . .

In a statement issued by his presidential campaign, McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said:

"It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."

Navy Scores For The Gipper

Ronald Reagan would have been proud of the U.S. Navy yesterday. According to Reuters, "[t]he Pentagon said . . . it had 'a high degree of confidence' that a Navy missile hit the toxic fuel tank of a disabled U.S. spy satellite, which posed a potential threat if it struck land on reentry."

What a relief that the Navy hit its target apparently on the first try and during an only ten-second window available to do it:

An SM-3 missile fired from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie in the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii hit the errant satellite on Wednesday at 10:26 p.m. EST (0326 GMT Thursday), 153 nautical miles (283 km) above the Earth.
. . . .
The missile hit the 5,000-pound (2,270 kg), bus-sized satellite as it traveled through space at more than 17,000 miles per hour (27,400 kph), the Pentagon said.

That "Star Wars" research continues to pay dividends for the United States. Just ask the Chinese, who botched their own shoot-down of a satellite last year -- and whose complaints about American anti-missile defense accuracy are telling:

A Chinese state newspaper on Thursday -- Wednesday in the United States -- accused Washington of hypocrisy for criticizing other countries' space ambitions while rejecting a treaty proposed by China and Russia to ban weapons in space and firing a missile at the spy satellite.

China said it was monitoring Washington's destruction of the satellite.


"The Chinese side is continuing to closely follow the U.S. action which may influence the security of outer space and may harm other countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news conference.

Well done, Midshipmen!

Update: A newly posted report at Space.com provides further insight as to the strategic implications of the Navy's success:

The U.S. Navy's successful missile hit and apparent destruction of a defunct spy satellite represents a major step forward in the space arms race in the eyes of some analysts. Others are not so sure.

One expert said last night's hit was not an example of a real missile-defense system, targeting an unusually low satellite that was essentially a sitting duck with a missile that is not the nation's top-of-the line for such tasks.

Some say tensions with Russia and China will increase following the U.S. anti-satellite demonstration, as both nations had stated their opposition to the attempt. Others argue the United States took necessary measures to ensure geopolitical stability and extend its military dominance.

"This is obviously being hailed as a victory both politically, because the [U.S.] administration can claim there was no loss of life, and technically because it worked," said Theresa Hitchens, Center for Defense Information director. "It helped the [U.S.] Navy demonstrate the capabilities of its missile defense system."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Waiting Out The Castros

Ill health led to Fidel Castro's resignation yesterday, which in turn gave democracy lovers a glimmer of hope for Cuba. The responses of Republican and Democratic leaders gave U.S. voters a glimpse of which party will best capitalize after the next election (which will not be in Cuba) on the Communist dictator's mortality.

As the Guardian reports,

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama highlighted a subtle division in their Cuba policies that could prove significant come the November presidential election.

Both Democratic presidential hopefuls described the end of Castro's reign as an opening to press for democratic reforms in Cuba rather than a meaningful change in itself. But Obama was the only candidate to directly discuss a possible end to the US economic embargo against its island neighbour.


Senator Obama apparently hopes that coddling Raul through trade will lead him to change his brother's 50-year-old tired Communist ways. Imagine "Kumbaya" set to Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" beat.

Republicans, on the other hand, remember from President Ronald Reagan that the best way to defeat Communism is to call a spade a spade. Just as Reagan rightly characterized the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire", Senator John McCain minced no words in describing the political, economic and moral bankruptcy that is Castro's regime:

McCain, who earned a personal rebuke from Castro this month for suggesting that Cubans tortured US soldiers during the Vietnam war, called the communist leader's resignation "nearly half a century overdue" today.

. . . .

"For decades, Castro oversaw an apparatus of repression that denied liberty to the people who suffered under his dictatorship," McCain said. "Yet freedom for the Cuban people is not yet at hand, and the Castro brothers clearly intend to maintain their grip on power."


Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed McCain's sentiment, when he noted Fidel's transfer of power to Raul was simply "replacing one dictator with another".

Unlike Obama and Senator Clinton, McCain and McConnell understand the reality of Cuba. The United States just needs to wait out the Castros rather than prop up their failed economy. Fidel and Raul will both be arguing their case before St. Peter in a short while, and Cuba will finally be free just as surely as the Wall came down in Berlin.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro Retires

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has resigned. He ruled Cuba for nearly half a century. Castro's younger brother, Raul, (aged 76) is expected to be named president on Sunday. Fidel Castro (aged 81) gave governmental power to Raul following Fidel's intestinal surgery in July 2006. There is some speculation that Raul Castro may ease up governmental controls on the Cuban economy, where the average government wage is $ 19 a month.

Drudge reported that Castro attributed his retirement to his health:

"My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That's what I can offer," Castro wrote. But, he continued, "it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama. "

It appears that there are limits to even the glorious Cuban medical care that Michael Moore touted in "Sicko."

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Blue-eyed Edge in the Oval Office

George Washington, whose birthday we celebrate today, was famous for his steely blue eyes. We know this thanks to the many portraits that Charles Wilson Peale painted of our first president.

Michael Medved notes today that Washington's blue eyes were the rule rather than the exception in the Oval Office: 39 out of our 43 presidents had blue eyes.

It turns out that in all of U.S. history, only five presidents had brown eyes – John Quincy Adams, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, LBJ and Nixon. All the rest were clearly described with blue, grey, or hazel eyes.

Blue eyes are a recessive genetic trait, found in only 16 percent of the U.S. population today. Granted, in 1900, roughly 50 percent of Americans had blue eyes, but that still doesn't approach the 88 percent of U.S. presidents with blue eyes.

And as for those few presidents with brown eyes,

two of our three presidents who faced serious impeachment proceedings (Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon) were among our brown-eyed minority. The other three brownies (John Quincy Adams, Chester A. Arthur, and Lyndon Johnson) all hoped to win an additional term as president but failed to do, falling victim to bitter political critics and rivals.

Medved speculates that John McCain may benefit from this trend, but "there’s no getting around one uncomfortable fact: Hillary Clinton most certainly does have blue-grey eyes."

Not quite. Hillary generated gossip during the Clinton Administration every time she changed her hair-do -- and she changed it alot. It's how many women respond when they are unhappy with their lives, and who could blame her, being married to the Boy President.

We forget, however, that Hillary changed more than her hair style: she changed the color of her eyes. Bob Tyrrell details this in Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.

Strangest of all are her eyes. Hillary actually changed their color. Once they were hazel. Now they are baby blue.

Tyrrell quotes a former Clinton aide who said that Hillary "'tried turquoise contact lenses once, but it was not a great look for her.'"

There is no limit to the extent that Hillary will reinvent herself in pursuit of power. About the only thing that remains unchanged is her desire to inflict Hillarycare on us.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yes, He's From Kentucky, But Thank Goodness He's Not A Republican

We thought no one could do anything more embarrassing for Kentucky's national image than when Gov. Fletcher buzzed the nation's capitol in the state airplane at President Reagan's funeral. But now members of the newly energized Kentucky Democratic Party, on many different levels, are trying to one-up him.

Today's Washington Times highlights one of the more prominent initiatives in this regard:

If the First Amendment had eyes, last week's news from Kentucky would be two thumbs jammed right in them. State Rep. Jim Gooch, a Democrat who chairs Kentucky's House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, wants editorialists and political cartoonists to register in Frankfort as lobbyists. The powerful Mr. Gooch, a favorite target of Kentucky opinion writers, is aggrieved to be depicted as a tool of mining interests as he opposed a coal-mine safety bill. One cartoon showed him basking in a hot tub with King Coal.

Not that Mr. Gooch thinks that opinion writers and editors are just another interest group seeking favor. That regrettable viewpoint would be merely wrongheaded and unconstitutional. No — Mr. Gooch's attack on the First Amendment is much more frontal. He calls the actions of editorial writers and cartoonists who lampoon him "beyond lobbying. [It's] almost extortion."

"It's almost as if they want to silence you," Mr. Gooch complained of his opinion-page critics, seemingly unaware of the irony. "They want to hurt your credibility. They do it by either trying to make you look stupid or corrupt."

Don't worry, Mr. Gooch, we Kentuckians don't believe you are corrupt, and we don't need editorial writers and cartoonists to know that your proposal is stupid. Unfortunately, the rest of America knows that now too.

Of Course He Is . . . .

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said: GOD IS NOT A REPUBLICAN. I have seen lots of outrageous statements made on bumper stickers, but this one takes the cake!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Berkeley

Legislation proposed last Thursday by South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint provides just the answer for the Berkeley, CA City Council, which called the Marine recuiters "unwelcome intruders": don't expect your lunatic government to be subsidized by the federal government.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that DeMint's bill would "strip the city of more than $2.1 million in federal earmarks and give the money instead to the Marine Corps." The federal handouts to be cut include, according to DeMint, one earmark that "provides gourmet organic lunches to schools in the Berkeley school district while our Marines make do with military rations of sloppy joes and chili beans."

We are pleased to note that DeMint's ten Senate co-sponsors include Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. "In the House," the Chronicle also reports, "the same 'Semper Fi Act' has 71 co-sponsors."

That's Gotta Hurt

Bruce Lunsford just got a new nickname from Demo-blog Blue Grass Roots, and it is way harsher than anything Mitch McConnell ever would have said.

Here in KY, they’ve just rigged the system to nominate a slimy, DINO, government defrauding, nursing home slumlord with no chance of beating Mitch McConnell in an election this November. (Emphasis added.)

And here's the Demo-blog's prediction for the election:

Bruce is going to lose a lot of money and get embarrassed, shattered like the bones of an old woman in a Vencor nursing home.

Blue Grass Roots is unhinged about Andrew Horne's decision to drop out of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate; the Demo-blogs blame Horne's withdrawal on a combination of pressure from Senator Chuck Schumer (who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), Gov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Democratic Party.

The rant is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a "progressive." But it is really, really long. So here are a few choice excerpts.

It does the progressive movement in KY NO GOOD to sugarcoat the situation and live in a positive fantasy world. . . . What I refuse to do is give people false hope. (sorry Barack, there is such a thing). And telling people that Bruce Lunsford can beat Mitch McConnell in a November election, in my opinion, would be doing just that. People’s time and money are quite valuable, and telling people that Lunsford has a chance, in my opinion, would be irresponsible on my part.

. . .

Steve Beshear has made a conscious decision not to challenge Mitch McConnell this Fall. Beshear’s first intent is to please his big $$$ donors who put him into office, . . . And how about the silent, spineless politicians who knew that Horne was our best chance to take out McConnell? Crit knew it (after she passed). Chandler knew it. Yarmuth knew it. But they refused to step up to the plate, letting this travesty come to pass.

. . .

I can’t help but think of Chicago in 1968 this week, on a much, much smaller scale. It’s like Chuck Schumer is Hubert Humphrey, and Steve Beshear is Mayor Daley. And Beshear has called in all of the KDP hacks and money men to come in and bash the KY progressives over the head with their nightsticks like the Chicago police.

But no, this isn’t over. No way. We’re not going to withdraw into our caves with Quaaludes like those damned dirty hippies did in the 70’s. Caffeine will be our drug. Organizing will be our obsession. Our corrupt and incompetent leadership will be our enemy, until WE are that leadership.

So there you have it: the view from the left.

SUSA Poll Shows McConnell Up

The SurveyUSA Poll, linked by Mark Hebert, shows that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's approval rating rose four percent last month -- his highest since June. This is significant because the SUSA Poll tends to underestimate Republican support; it represents a worst case scenario for GOP candidates.

The poll shows that 52 percent of Kentuckians approve of McConnell. Even among Democrats, McConnell's approval rating is 42 percent, with only six percent undecided.

McConnell has no gender gap -- none. His support is roughly even among all age groups, just slightly higher among 35-54 year olds, who constitute the largest block of voters in Kentucky. McConnell leads by a comfortable margin in every region of Kentucky except Louisville, where his approval rating is 44 percent; 45 percent disapprove, and 10 percent are undecided.

Page One's reaction to the poll says it all:

What was that about him being woah vulnerable? What was that about all the awesome, amazing grassroots smoking him out of his Republican hole? . . . We have to face the facts. And unless something drastic happens, McConnell wins in November.

Of those polled, 78 percent ranked terrorism as the most important issue facing the next president, followed by immigration (67 percent). That bodes well for John McCain carrying Kentucky.

Perhaps the biggest loser in the SUSA Poll is the Courier-Journal. Notwithstanding that paper's relentless editorializing against McConnell, his support actually increased.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Illinois Is Not A Presidential Birthplace

Though the weather has not cooperated, Kentucky has tried in the past week to educate the world that Republican President Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, not Illinois. But have you heard the one about the birthplaces of the Democratic presidential candidates?

Reuters reports:

The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, joked about all the hero worship surrounding Obama in remarks to reporters at annual congressional dinner on Wednesday.

"But now they're down to just two candidates: a New York senator who was born in Illinois, and a senator from Illinois who was apparently born in a manger," said McConnell.

Guthrie Gets It

Republican candidate for Kentucky's 2nd Congresssional District Brett Guthrie understands that the House of Representatives has endangered America by allowing FISA to lapse (see posts below).

In a statement today, Guthrie said:

Yesterday, the U.S. House adjourned without voting on a new terrorist surveillance law despite the fact that our current law expires on Saturday. It is beyond me, and I suspect most Kentuckians, why the House leadership cannot figure out that our federal government’s top priority should be protecting Americans from terrorist attacks.

. . .

A large, bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators—including both of Kentucky’s—passed a good bill that modernizes terrorist surveillance law and protects our civil liberties. The Senate and the President are waiting for the House to act while Speaker Pelosi puts the interests of trial lawyers ahead of our National Security. The U.S. House is shirking its most important duty. Its leaders should be ashamed, and all Americans should take note of their monumental failure.

Guthrie is running for the seat that will be vacated when Congressman Ron Lewis retires at the end of this session. The Kentucky delegation -- and the House of Representatives -- would be much improved by sending Guthrie to Congress, and sending John Yarmuth packing.

Pelosi's Valentine For Yarmuth

Rep. John Yarmuth must be doing a swell job "messaging" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Yesterday, while issuing contempt-of-Congress citations to former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, Pelosi gave Yarmuth a valentine:

To the new Members of Congress on this issue of Article 1, led by John Yarmuth, Article 1 protects the prerogatives of the Constitution of the Congress of the United States. I thank our new Members for their leadership on honoring their oath of office.

Too bad Yarmuth is more interested in courting attention from the House Speaker (and mixing it up with baseball players, as discussed below) than serving Kentucky constituents.

The House of Reps.' Priority Problem

FISA, that piece of legislation that allows the government to eavesdrop on terrorists who'd like to kill us, will expire tonight at midnight because the House of Representatives failed to vote on it -- even though a bipartisan majority of House members approve of it.

Meanwhile, the House is in recess for a week so it can celebrate President's Day, which is to say, so members can campaign for reelection.

The responsible, adult way to reconcile the FISA expiration with the upcoming vacation would have been to vote before leaving town. But the House was otherwise engaged.

Take Congressman John Yarmuth, for example. He was busy investigating whether Roger Clemens and other baseball players took steroids. For all Yarmuth's grandstanding about Congress asserting its constitutional powers -- recall his "article 1" button -- Yarmuth shows little understanding of the role the framers envisioned for the House. There is no baseball penumbra in article 1.

To be sure, Congress can investigate almost anything under the ambit of interstate commerce. It doesn't follow, however, that invesitigating a private institution like baseball is a good use of taxpayers' time or money -- particularly when a critical national security law is set to expire within hours.

Other members of the Democratically-controlled House were busy issuing contempt resolutions regarding Republicans Harriet Miers and Joshua B. Bolten. Leaving aside the merits of the contempt citations, there was no justification for focusing on a witch hunt while neglecting to vote on FISA. Like the baseball hearings, the contempt hearings could have been postponed; the FISA vote could not.

The expiration of FISA has real consequences for our safety, as Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell explained:

Without the act in place, vital programs would be plunged into uncertainty and delay, and capabilities would continue to decline. Under the Protect America Act, we obtained valuable insight and understanding, leading to the disruption of planned terrorist attacks. Expiration would lead to the loss of important tools our workforce relies on to discover the locations, intentions and capabilities of terrorists and other foreign intelligence targets abroad.

Al Qaada must be gleeful: John Yarmuth rubs elbows with the Boys of Summer while FISA expires. We can't afford to suffer his childish antics. We need to send Anne Northup back to Congress.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Video on Berkeley Marines

Check out this Senatorial Committee video of protesters at the U.S. Marine recruiting center in Berkeley, CA. The Berkeley City Council denounced the marines at this recruiting center as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.

It's quite depressing that there is a fringe of this country that so despises the men and women who risk their lives that we might be free and safe. In displaying its contempt for our military, the Berkeley City Council actually managed to embarass even its anti-war constituents.

How Huckabee Could Help McConnell

Political pundits are increasingly bewildered as to what former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has up his sleeve. For example, Mike Madden of Salon.com writes: "For some reason, Mike Huckabee is still running for president. Is he really auditioning for the No. 2 job -- or a show at Fox News?"

Here's another idea for Huckabee. How about filing to run against Arkansas Democratic Senator Mark Pryor, who is up for reelection this year? The filing deadline is March 10, which allows Huckabee enough time to have his last hoorah in the Texas primary on March 4 then bow out of the presidential race. Though Pryor would be a formidable opponent, Huck may very well be able to transfer the momentum of his presidential bid into a Senate seat. It would be a silver lining for Huckabee's supporters -- and another vote towards Senator McConnell becoming the Majority Leader.

Happy Valentine's Day from the Big Apple, or Why I Left New York

New York City is giving out free condoms today to help its citizens celebrate Valentine's Day. Last year, the city gave out 36 million of the condoms and hopes to beat that record. This year, the city is running an ad campaign on television and 1,000 subway cars to promote the free condoms.

The citizens of New York City, if they stop the think about it, should rise up en masse and demand a tax rebate. As Ronald Reagan used to point out, if you don't starve the government beast of tax revenue, there is no end to the extent that it will meddle in our personal lives.

The condoms include a new packaging design that features the 2008 slogan: "get some." Seriously.

Finding a constitutional right to have sex of any description is one thing. Subsidizing it with tax revenue is quite another.

As Fox, via Drudge, reported:

Street teams from the health department will meet commuters around the city Thursday to hand out the new NYC Condom for Valentine's Day, officials said.

Hand-out locations include Times Square, Wall Street and near City Hall.


Of course, a government program of such importance requires its own government agency, the "Department of Health and Mental Hygiene." (Can someone explain to me what on earth "mental hygiene" is? I'm familiar with mental health and personal hygiene, but only New York could combine the concepts.)

Any New York City establishment -- whether it's a health club, coffee house, bar, barbershop or clothing store -- can order NYC Condoms in bulk by calling 311 or visiting NYC.gov.

Presumably, that includes cat houses and frat houses.

The operators who answer the city hotline this evening will have some stories to tell tomorrow: "The Health Department will deliver free NYC Condoms as needed to meet demand" (emphasis added). Now that's service, by a government that really cares.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

McCain Double Checks Huckabee's Fuzzy Math

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's strategy to deny Sen. John McCain a first-round nomination at the Republican convention hit a snag yesterday. In an email distributed to the media, McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis does the math after McCain's victories yesterday in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia:

The results from tonight's primary elections in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC, make it mathematically impossible for Governor Huckabee to secure the Republican nomination for president. He now needs 950 delegates to secure the required 1,191. But in the remaining contests there are only 774 delegates available. He would need to win 123% of remaining delegates.

. . . .

In the contests that remain, only 774 delegates remain to be allocated.

After tonight's contests, Governor Huckabee has 241 delegates and John McCain has 839 (739 before the results in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC -- based on AP reporting).

For John McCain to reach the threshold of 1,191 delegates needed to secure the nomination, he needs to win roughly 35% of the 774 remaining delegates. For Governor Huckabee to reach the 1,191 delegate threshold, he needs an additional 950 delegates -- more than remain available in future contests.


Thirty-five percent (35%) is a rather low threshold for McCain to achieve in the remaining primaries. It looks more and more like Huckabee will require a miracle to get his brokered convention.

McConnell-Led Senate Overcomes "Obstructionism" Regarding FISA

The Courier-Journal should be writing an editorial that praises Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for helping achieve bipartisan consensus to overcome "obstructionism" with respect to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That is because last evening, as the National Association of Manufacturers explains, the Senate forged

[a] strong, bipartisan majority to pass S. 2248, allowing the legitimate use of foreign surveillance to protect Americans from being killed by terrorists. Senators of both parties also voted for retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that took their obligations as corporate citizens seriously, assisting in proper, legal intelligence gathering.

The roll count was 68-29, NAM reports:

Republicans: 48 yea, 0 nay, 1 absent (Graham of South Carolina) (Including Lieberman as a Democrat.

Democrats: 20 yea, 29 nay, 2 absent (Obama and Clinton)

This is not what is normally called a "largely party-line vote" as Reuters described it. A "largely party-line vote" is when one or two or, at most, three members of a party split with their partisan colleagues.

And how interesting that of the Democrats, only the presidential candidates missed the final vote. The vote occurred between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., hardly an inconvenient time.

Obama did vote on the cloture motion -- against -- which passed 69-29, which puts him on record as against the legislation.

Coming on the heels of the economic stimulus package, adopted by a bipartisan majority under the leadership of McConnell in the Senate, the FISA bill is another example of productive results that can happen in Washington when level-headed Democrats work with their Republican colleagues instead of grandstand for re-election (or the Democratic presidential nomination).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Emboldened Labor Targets Chao

As soon as the television writers' strike ended this week, it became a matter of time before a newly-energized labor movement would assert itself again. It didn't take long: the writers have not had a chance to pen a single script, but American Rights at Work has launched a smear campaign against Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. To spare us the suspense of their take on Chao, they entitle their campaign Shame on Elaine. No ambiguity there.

Note the timing of the smear Chao project. Although she has been Labor Secretary for seven years, and less than one year remains of the president's term of office, American Rights at Work launches the campaign now. Why wait until 2008? Because Chao's husband, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection this year. The smear Chao campaign is really aimed at defeating McConnell.

Nor is it a coincidence that the Shame on Elaine project's blog roll includes three Kentucky blogs dedicated to defeating McConnell, out of seven blogs listed.

As for whom ARW hires, only Democrats need apply; it advertises for its interns on Demwork, "jobs for Dems." That's consistent with ARW's board of directors, which includes failed presidential candidate John Edwards, NAACP President Julian Bond, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and in a nod to multiculturalism, a former U.N. Human Rights Commissioner and an Iman from the Islamic Center of America. That sounds about as non-partisan as the Democratic National Convention.

One of the stated purposes of the smear Chao project is to provide "much-needed public scrutiny" of Chao's record. If ARW really believes in the value of "public scrutiny," it should name its contributors. Sure, its status under the tax code may allow it to hide the identity of its donors. But if ARW genuinely wants trasparency, it should voluntarily identify its funding sources. Let's see how much it cost the Iman to get his seat on the Board of ARW, and who wrote the check.

Today's Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration Cancelled

WHAS 11 just reported that the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration, planned for today at Abraham Lincoln's birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky, has been cancelled because of the winter storm. First Lady Laura Bush had been expected to attend. There is no word yet on a new date for the event.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Left Reacts to Horne's Departure

Several themes emerge from comments on Demo-blogs in the hours following Andrew Horne's announcement that he is ending his campaign for U.S. Senate.

First, this wing of the Democrat party -- aggressive, vocal Horne backers -- had no idea that Horne planned to drop out. None. That led to much speculation as to the reason behind Horne's decision, with no explanation from Horne at this point. "Mar Ty" comments on Page One :

I am astounded. Yesterday the campaign was excited and planning ahead…800 volunteers…Andrew was upbeat and confident…what happened????I don’ t understand this at all. We supported Beshear…he was obviously better than Ernie. Is money that important…Andrew was fundraising and if he won the primary, there would have been netroot money coming in…like Obamas. This makes no sense. Wen were devoted slaves to the Horne enterprise.

Second, for all the confusion as to why Horne quit the race, there is initial consensus among the "progressive" bloggers that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's prospects for reelection could scarcely be brighter. As "Dude" comments on Bluegrass Roots, "In a related story, Mitch McConnell was re-elected as the Senior Senator from Kentucky."

Third, Gov. Steve Beshear is the target of all the wrath and despair of these Horne activists. Beshear's role, like Horne's motivation, became the subject of intense speculation. Beshear brought much of this upon himself when he urged Bruce Lunsford to run, and Horne has drawn more attention to Beshear by indicating in his withdrawal statement that he spoke with Beshear before quitting the race.

Finally, the comments reiterate that this faction of the Democrat Party despises Lunsford -- both because he has given money to Republicans (including McConnell) and because netroot bloggers perceive Lunsford as scheming with Beshear to shape the primary -- just like Beshear did in the 30th district senate race.

Greg Fischer quickly issued a Come to Daddy statement to the Horne supporters. The initial reaction to Fischer's overture was frigid -- much like that of Mitt Romney's supporters who are debating whether they can back John McCain or should just take a pass on this election.

Huckabee's Fuzzy Math

Here's the line that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's campaign is feeding the Washington Post as to why he has not dropped out of the presidential race:

Huckabee's campaign says he is not hurting McCain by staying in, but instead keeping media attention focused on the GOP race instead of the Democratic contest.

"Because MH is who he is, he will continue to campaign as he always has, in an honorable and honest way. He will draw distinctions, he will debate and debate hard, but he will always be civil and decent,"wrote Huckabee chairman Ed Rollins and campaign manager Chip Saltsman in a memo to supporters. "Even many McCain supporters have told us that they appreciate the constructive role that Governor Huckabee can play in the months to come, because a vigorous discussion will keep all the media 'oxygen' from migrating over to the Democratic contest."

Don't buy anything Ed Rollins says. And don't believe for a minute that Huckabee is staying in because he actually expects to win enough delegates before the Republican convention to steal the nomination from Sen. John McCain. As the Post notes, "Huckabee aides don't expect to carry any of the states in tomorrow's primaries, and those losses make it closer to mathematically impossible for Huckabee to win the GOP nomination."

The real reason Huckabee fights on is because, wink, wink, he knows that a brokered convention could still flow from the confluence of (a) a low turn-out in the remaining primaries by lacksadaisacal McCain supporters who mistakenly think their candidate already has the nomination sewn up, (b) evangelistic zeal of Huckabee voters who refuse to lose, and -- the most critical element of all for Huckabee's strategy -- (c) conservatives who may not like Huckabee as a candidate, but will vote for him nonetheless in order to deny McCain the delegate count he needs for the nomination.

It is not far-fetched to say that Huckabee's efforts just might produce a brokered convention. In order to win the prize, McCain needs 1,191 delegates. According to RealClearPolitics.com, he has garnered 724 delegates thus far (not counting Louisiana and Washington, where the delegate apportionment is not final). Adding up the primaries that remain, there appear to be 996 delegates (including those from Louisiana and Washington) who are still up for grabs. McCain must have 467, or 46.88% of those remaining delegates, to be nominated. And significantly, the vast majority of the primaries that are left (including Kentucky's) award delegates proportionally, so McCain will not have that many winner-take-all states left to pad his lead.

Given that McCain has cracked the 46.88% level of support in only a small number of the Republican primaries held thus far, and his current average standing in national polls is just at 49%, Huckabee and Ron Paul could conceivably, between them, deny McCain the requisite number of remaining delegates he needs to win on the first ballot at the convention. That outcome could make Huckabee (or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney) the king-maker.

If Huckabee plays it right, he might be able to force McCain to name him as McCain's running mate in exchange for Huckabee's delegates. Or in the second or a later round of voting, Huckabee might form an unholy alliance with Romney's delegates and enough frustrated McCain delegates to obtain the nomination for Huckabee or another candidate who is not McCain.

Of course, Romney could follow the same strategy, but he is not likely to have the heart for it. For one thing, Romney has suspended his campaign, essentially conceding defeat to McCain. Moreover, if the brokered convention scenario does occur, Huckabee undoubtedly will have many more delegates than Romney come convention time.

That is why Huckabee stays in the race. The businessman Romney may have been better at math when he made his money in the private sector. But the preacher Huckabee knows that the numbers for McCain don't quite add up, at least not yet, and it may not require a miracle to produce a brokered convention at which the anti-McCain forces could prevail after all.

Andrew Horne Quits Senate Race

Andrew Horne suddenly has ended his bid to be the Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate. Page One, the blog on which Horne announced his candidacy, reports:

Dear Friend,

I’m writing you today with some disappointing news. This afternoon I informed Governor Steve Beshear of my decision to withdraw from the United States Senate race.

This decision was difficult for many reasons, not least because of the major challenges facing our Commonwealth and Country. Millions of Americans live without quality health care, we have shamefully disregarded the needs of our veterans, our education system is deeply flawed, and we remain embroiled in a mismanaged and ill-conceived war. Through it all, Mitch McConnell is more interested in expanding the scope of his own power than using his office to benefit the hardworking families who make our country great.

I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for everything you have done to support me in this campaign. I won’t be the Democrat challenging Mitch McConnell next November, but our work is far from done. We must continue to fight for the values that brought us together. I look forward to working with you for many years to come.
Again, thank you so much.


Sincerely,

Andrew

That still leaves seven challengers in the Democrat primary. Horne, however, was far and away the favorite among the Demo-blog wing of the party. Just yesterday, he was liveblogging (see post below). Consequently, his timing is stunning.

According to Mark Hebert, Horne did not have the money to go against millionaire candidates Bruce Lunsford and Greg Fischer.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Party Begins For Kentucky's Favorite Republican Son

Afficionados of President Abraham Lincoln will turn their attention to Kentucky beginning this week as events kick off the bicentennial of his birth. On Monday, Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals, The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, will speak in Louisville. First Lady Laura Bush will visit Lincoln's birthplace near Hodgenville, Tuesday at 10:30 (open to the public on a first come basis). It is gratifying that Lincoln finally is getting his due in a State where for too long the wounds from the Civil War fostered reluctance by the Democratic political establishment to honor the man. Today Kentuckians of all ideological persuasions should be proud that the Bluegrass was the birthplace of the greatest Republican of all.

Andrew Horne's Potty Mouth

Jefferson Poole suffered through Andrew Horne's live bloggging on Firedoglake, and provides us this Horne quote:

Who would Daniel Boone vote for? Daniel Boone would kick Mitch McConnell’s ass. But hell, Colonel Sanders could kick his ass.

Is it really asking too much for a would-be candidate for U.S. Senate to use language that doesn't sound like he copied it down from the stall of a middle school boys' room? Is this how Horne speaks to his Sunday School class?

As to the merits, given a chance, Daniel Boone wouldn't want to fight Mitch McConnell. To the contrary, Daniel Boone likely would thank McConnell for getting federal funds for the park that honors Boone's legacy, the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury: Sharia Law Rocks!

From the country that gave us the Magna Carta and C.S. Lewis, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called for sharia law to be given equal treatment with the English common law (upon which American law is based).

The Evening Standard, via Drudge reports that Dr. Rowan Williams:

declared that sharia and Parliamentary law should be given equal legal status so the people could choose which governs their lives.

This raised the prospect of Islamic courts in Britain with full legal powers to approve polygamous marriages, grant easy divorce for men and prevent finance firms from charging interest.

This is just an extension of the moral relativism that has metastasized within the Episcopal Church (which still reports to the Archbishop, at least until the Anglican Communion kicks out its U.S. branch).

Moreover, the Archbishop has been seduced by the radical calls for equality, tolerance and multiculturalism -- platitudes that taken to their illogical extremes compel the conclusion that it is intolerant and judgmental to submit that English law, based on Judeo-Christian precepts, is superior to sharia law.

The Archbishop's view that sharia law is just as valid in England as English law flows from another trend within the modern church and liberalism: a refusal to acknowledge that words have plain meaning. That's an important premise, because it supports interpretations of scripture -- or constitutions -- that allow the words to "evolve" to satisfy the latest whim. God help us.

Beshear Is Special Election's Real Loser

Lost amidst the chaos of Super Tuesday was a Republican victory in a special election for the Kentucky Senate's 30th district, vacated by Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo. Republican Brandon Smith beat Democrat Scott Alexander 52.3 to 47.7 percent.

That increases GOP control of the Senate -- notwithstanding Gov. Steve Beshear's and Mongiardo's continual campaigning for Alexander. Look to this race as bellweather for this November and beyond. The implications of this victory, in both the short and long term, cannot be overstated.

How the Beshear machine ran the race in the 30th reveals that at a critical juncture at the very start of his administration, Beshear took the wrong road. And it wasn't the high road.

The Demo-blogs, to their credit, did not try to spin the results, and were very pointed in their assessment of where the blame lies.

From Page One:

Eastern Kentucky is pissed. Way to go, KDP. Let’s tout the merits of Democrats in a press release now that we’ve had our rears handed to us on a silver gubernatorial airplane platter.

That's an allusion to the scandal that Beshear caused by campaigning for the special election in the state plane.

Blue Grass Roots blamed Beshear and KDP:

Well, the KDP officially choked in the 30th Dist. special election for state senate. What should have been a win instead turned into an embarrassing loss.

And what brought about this loss? Well, it was Steve Beshear and the KDP butting in to install their favored candidate, all the while pissing off Democrats in the 30th to the point that they were divided enough to give the race to Republicans.

Mongiardo's assertion that the loss was not a setback for the Beshear administration is belied by the facts, as Elendil's Journal noted:

Remember this is a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1. Even with party registration and the full power of the sitting governor, Beshear's hand picked candidate lost the race. I would have to think the results of such a race is a big deal. The consequences of which will probably derail his casino plans. The pressure on senators to vote against gaming has been relieved.

And as for Beshear's skill at hand-picking a candidate like an old-time party boss, turns out he's not so good at that either. (Take note, Bruce Lunsford.)

Mark Hebert and Elendil are clearly correct that casinos are a dead-letter, at least for now. But more important are the implications for this November. In a year that's supposed to usher in a tsunami of Democrats, they lost a district where they outregistered Republicans two to one -- notwithstanding high turnout.

Beshear's endorsement meant nothing; all his campaigning bore no fruit, and in fact, may have hurt his candidate, particularly given the controversy about the use of the state plane. Mongiardo stumped his old district every day for two weeks leading up to the election, but to no avail. By making the special election about their new administration, Beshear and Mongiardo are the real losers. The inescapable implication is that Beshear's election last November was solely a repudiation of Ernie Fletcher, and in no way an endorsement of or mandate for Beshear and Mongiardo.

The win also assures that Williams will have a Republican majority in the State Senate for the next three years. That, in turn, gives Williams a platform to raise funds for districts that Republicans would have written off but a week ago before the special election.

This election reveals a major strategic misstep by Beshear. He had a choice to make, and he chose badly. Having ran an upbeat campaign to represent all Kentuckians, he refused to meet with David Williams -- who was more than happy to work with the Governor-elect -- until people started discussing the snub.

Instead of working with Williams to actually get things done, Beshear and his minions ran a negative ad about Williams in the 30th district. As an election strategy, it didn't even make any sense. The 30th district residents don't know Williams from Adam. And as a way to develop good will and bipartisan cooperation, it was meanspirited and unproductive.

The Beshear administration really looks no different than the Fletcher administration. For all his talk about being a candidate of change, Beshear reverted to the old-style way of running Frankfort; botched hirings and firings; threats of cancelled contracts; appointments of recycled pols; freezing out the media; and lots of bravado. Voters repudiated this style of governance when they ousted Fletcher, and by replicating it, Beshear has set himself on the path to replicate Fletcher's defeat, as well.

Message to all Romniacs

"John McCain?....that maverick no good, backslidin', Liberal lovin', son-of-a......excuse me sir, but Mitt Romney just quit the race...What? Huh? Er...John McCain?...why he is a great patriot, a fine conservative and he will make a GREAT President!"

Message to all Romniacs: grieve for 15 seconds and then get over it! You may hate McCain, but as of today he became the Republican nominee for President. All conservatives now need to put their differences aside and get behind him 100%. If you are hesitant to do this, just close your eyes for a moment and imagine the alternative, i.e. Mrs. Bill Clinton or Barack. When you do this, your hate should turn to love fairly quickly!

McConnell Wins on Stimulus Package

The Senate Democrats have folded -- again. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has out-maneuvered Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid to pass the stimulus package that the House previously had passed with bipartisan support. That means that Americans will get the help they need without all the goodies for illegal aliens and the like that the Senate Democrats had tried to add.

Nor can McConnell be blamed for "obstructing" anything. After all, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed McConnell's approach to the stimulus package, which would add rebates for disabled veterans, widows and the elderly, but not illegal immigrants. Pelosi, however, was silent on all the add-ons that Reid proposed. Notwithstanding Reid's attempt to play Santa, bipartisan cooperation prevailed as a direct result of McConnell's and Pelosi's leadership, and now Americans can get their rebate checks in a timely manner.

Romney's Out

Mitt Romney is reportedly going to suspend his campaign, for the good of the party. Two days ago, WHAS 11 had trouble finding anyone who would admit to being a McCain supporter. Now we're all McCain supporters.

We've just lost the only candidate who is even close to being a conservative. What a sad state of affairs when a candidate can't win because he is too handsome, too articulate, too successful, too decent and too rich. It seems that the politically correct movement to bolster our self-esteem didn't work.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Right To Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

In an op-ed in today's Courier-Journal, Edward T. "Ned" Bonnie makes an impassioned plea for adoption of "The Fair Elections Now Act", which is sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). No doubt Bonnie truly believes, as he contends, that public financing of elections "would create a level playing field for all candidates and give ordinary people a stake in the financing of elections." But good intentions do not always make for good public policy and constitutional laws.

One of the central problems with Bonnie's argument is that the Specter and Durbin bill, if enacted, would indeed give us "ordinary people a stake in the financing of elections", but it is a stake we shouldn't want: namely, being coerced by the government to pay with our tax dollars for the campaign speech of candidates with whom we disagree.

Nor should we want the "level playing field for all candidates" that Bonnie apparently envisions: namely, government bureaucrats determining which candidates have too much financial support and redistributing taxpayer money to "worthy" candidates who haven't been able to attract sufficient campaign contributions the old-fashioned way.

Bonnie says he "fundamentally disagree[s], as a lawyer and a citizen, with the notion that how much money one has or can raise determines their political worth." But how is that we, in a capitalist system, usually determine the value of something? By how much we are willing to pay for it, of course. And there is nothing wrong with that. How much voters are willing to contribute to a candidate is a direct reflection of how strongly they support that candidate, just as how much we are willing to pay for an automobile shows how badly we want to drive that automobile.

Indeed, the fact that Senator Barack Obama is raising record amounts of money for his campaign while Senator Hillary Clinton is having to loan $5 million to hers speaks volumes as to where the momentum has swung in the Democratic presidential nomination process. The money count for those respective candidates sends a loud and clear message as to their level of support by the electorate. It tells us the extent to which voters are willing to put their money where their candidate's mouth is. Surely that counts for speech as much as does Bonnie's op-ed piece, for example.

Furthermore, Bonnie's contention that too much is spent on political campaigns simply doesn't square with the facts put in proper perspective. We just witnessed the most-watched Super Bowl in history, during which companies shelled out millions of dollars per advertisement to hawk everything from beer to laundry detergent. The amount of money spent on such commercial speech dwarfs the relatively paltry amounts spent on political speech by candidates running for office. For instance, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's $9 million-plus campaign war chest would buy maybe 3-4 Super Bowl ads.

We all should agree that political campaigns are more important than the Super Bowl -- even darn good games like the one played Sunday night. Shouldn't we pay more attention to who we elect to political office than which beer we buy? So why shouldn't more money, not less, be spent on political speech, given how much is spent by advertisers on commercial speech?

And what's wrong with having political speech financed entirely through private voluntary contributions, so long as there is transparency in the process through full disclosure of donors? It surely beats forcing taxpayers to pay for it. Moreover, the knowledge of who financially supports whom and for how much gives a voter insight as to whether his or her interests are aligned with a particular candidate.

Wealth is scattered so broadly in this country, and held by so many different people of diverse political viewpoints, that there is no danger of one mainstream political ideology unfairly having an upper hand in the raising of funds for political campaigns. And a moneyed candidate devoid of many good ideas cannot "buy" an election: just ask Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, who flopped as a presidential candidate despite having raised tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

In the end, the "ordinary people" whom Bonnie seeks to protect have constitutional rights to contribute to political campaigns and run for political office through funds collected from other "ordinary people". I, for one, don't want to lose those rights through legislation passed by incumbent politicians that would seriously undermine the ability of "ordinary people" to challenge those incumbents in future elections, and force "ordinary people" like me to pay for other people's speech.