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John Bolton Backs Eleven More GOP Candidates

Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton has endorsed eleven more Republican candidates running for election in the U.S. House of Representatives in various states. Bolton’s political-action committee is supporting candidates with hawkish foreign-policy positions, and his PAC’s work is seen as an effort to counter the non-interventionist foreign policy championed by Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and other libertarian-leaning Republicans.

Bolton has made donations of $2,500 to $10,000 to each of the following newly endorsed candidates:

Representative Michael McCaul (TX-10): $2,500
Bruce Blakeman (NY-4): $5,000
Representative George Holding (NC-13): $5,000
Rick Allen (GA-12): $5,000
Representative Chris Smith (NJ-4): $2,500
Tom MacArthur (NJ-3): $5,000
Darlene Senger (IL-11): $5,000
Carlos Curbelo (FL-26): $10,000
Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-2): $5,000
David Young (IA-3): $10,000
Representative Tim Walberg (MI-7): $5,000

Bolton has contributed $465,000 total to the 86 candidates he has backed in the midterm elections. The full list of candidates Bolton has endorsed can be found here.  

Krauthammer’s Take: Dems’ Midterm Strategy Is ‘Total Humiliation for Obama. . . and He Can’t Take It’

Democratic candidates want nothing to do with President Obama, and, says Charles Krauthammer, “he can’t take it.”

“This is a guy who six years ago had a worship service at a Denver stadium, being cheered by people while he was behind Greek columns. A few weeks earlier, he had been the hero of 200,000 Germans in Berlin,” Krauthammer observed on Special Report. “Here was a man, as Rich Lowry said earlier, bestriding the world. He was a citizen of the world, the most interesting, most sought-after political rock star on the planet. And now he’s got to hide under his desk until November.”

Statements like the president’s yesterday “pop out” because “this is a total humiliation for him and every once in a while he can’t take it,” Krauthammer said.

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Russian Hide and Seek

Is a Russian submarine lurking in Swedish waters?

The BBC:

Naval vessels searching Swedish waters for a suspected foreign submarine are focusing on a bay near the capital Stockholm on the fifth day of the biggest such operation in years. Ships equipped to detect submarines are among at least five vessels searching Ingaro Bay. One Swedish newspaper said that a ship had “made contact” but there was no official comment on the report. Russia has denied that any of its vessels are involved. A Russian oil tanker has been sailing in international waters nearby, raising suspicion that it was there to help a submarine in difficulty.

This sort of thing used to happen from time to time during the Cold War, most famously on the entertaining occasion when a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine ran aground on the rocks near the naval base at Karlskrona, Sweden’s largest.

Then the embarrassment was Moscow’s. Now it is Stockholm’s.

Foreign Policy:

In carrying out their search, the Swedish authorities are being severely hampered by their lack of sonar-equipped helicopters. Because the Stockholm archipelago is a dense island landscape, it has become something of a notorious playground for submarines, which have ample natural features behind which to hide and evade surface vessels. Unlike ships moving on the surface, helicopters have a distinct advantage in tracking down submarines, which have great difficulty monitoring aircraft while underwater. A helicopter can quickly cover large areas, surprising submarines by dropping sonar sensors. But Sweden’s fleet of anti-submarine helicopters were phased out in 2008, and the replacement isn’t expected until 2018.

Sweden’s recently departed center-right government, and more specifically its enthusiastically europhile foreign minister Carl Bildt, used to make something of a specialty of tough foreign-policy talk, expressions of concern (most notably on Ukraine) and the projection of the EU’s soft power.

But soft power is generally more effective when backed up by a cudgel in the back pocket, something that the Swedes forgot. The strategic climate in the Baltic region has been deteriorating for some years, but very little was done to restore defense spending: carelessness and complacency ruled. That’s worth remembering when re-reading some of Mr. Bildt’s fine words over Ukraine.

And now, delightfully, it is left to Sweden’s new center-left government to sort out the mess, a job for which it is not, perhaps, the most natural candidate.

The Financial Times explains:

Sweden’s prime minister pledged to increase spending on defence in Thursday’s budget as the Nordic country’s search for a foreign submarine entered a fifth day.

Sweden’s new centre-left government has been placed in an awkward situation by the chase for the submarine – presumed to be Russian – as it is firmly against Nato membership and wants to focus more on co-operation with the UN rather than partnership with the western military alliance.

Co-operation with the U.N.?

Oh dear.

October 21, 2014
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Trust Your Stuff, GOP

When a baseball pitcher is trying too hard, his manager will walk out to the mound and say, “Trust your stuff.” What this means is: Rely on what got you this far in the first place; understand that the speed, movement, and control (collectively, “stuff”) of your pitching is good enough to get batters out; don’t overthrow in an attempt to squeeze out an extra mile-per-hour or two or another half-inch of break; don’t try too hard to hit a precise spot. Just rear back and throw the ball, and good things will happen.

That’s the spirit that Republicans need to keep in mind over the next two weeks, and going into 2016. Trust your conservative message to be strong enough to win votes from the large fraction of Americans who value freedom, prosperity, security, and family; don’t oversell it, and don’t try to craft specific appeals to this group or that gender or such-and-such a demographic. A candidate who microtargets his campaign message is like a pitcher who focuses too hard on hitting the corners, and the solution is the same: Rear back and fire. Clumsy attempts at targeted legislation and tax breaks will only dilute our message.

The Republican party, and conservatism in general, aren’t built for identity politics; that’s the Democrats’ game. As I wrote a year ago:

Try to translate all this into Republican terms and you’ll see the main structural weakness of the GOP: Since our principles are opposed to identity politics, we don’t have any powerful, well-defined identity groups to logroll for each other. There’s only one group that benefits strongly and directly from Republican policies, and its members won’t be able to vote for 18 years.

The flip side of this is that since conservatism supports what’s best for the nation as a whole, everyone who isn’t a gung-ho member of a Democratic client group is a potential Republican voter — just as long as we trust our stuff and don’t mess it up by getting too fancy.

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Colorado Man Offers to Buy Mail-In Ballots for $5 Each

The fun has begun in Colorado, where a new law has loosened an avalanche of mandatory mail-in ballots. With polling booths there having gone the way of wooden skis, a so-called “honor” system assumes that eligible people, and no one else, will complete their own ballots.

This touchingly naïve — if not deliberately permissive — new arrangement suddenly has come under scrutiny, thanks to Brian Dorsey of Pueblo, Colorado. He posted a jaw-dropping item on Facebook announcing that he was “ISO” or “In search of…mail in ballots…$5 each.” He offered to “BARTER, SELL, AND BUY, NO RULES.”

After incensed Facebook readers complained, Colorado authorities sprang into action. Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz informed the local sheriff who dropped in on Dorsey.

“The man did admit to posting the comment, but said he was just joking and poking fun at mail in ballots, something he’s against,” according to NBC affiliate KOAA-TV. Court papers indicate that Dorsey “did not have any extra ballots, so no arrest was made.”

  So, Dorsey got the heat off his back by saying that he only was joking. (Remember that, for future reference.) What if the sheriff had not shown up? One week from today, would Dorsey be laughing about his hilarious little “joke,” or would he be wading knee-deep in mail-in ballots? Would he just stare at them or fill them out to benefit his favorite politicians? Would he stack these ballots in little piles or retail them to some campaign operative eager to give a candidate that extra smidgen of support that could mean victory in a skin-tight vote tally?

Such questions are the necessary result of the growing abandonment of traditional polling-place voting on Election Day. This new mail-in-ballot law is the spawn of Colorado’s Democratic legislature and its Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper. Like other liberals, they seem hell-bent on distributing ballots promiscuously while being prudish about allowing oversight to assure that votes only are cast by eligible citizens who are who they say they are.

While Colorado officials argue that verifying signatures on mail-in ballots will curb potential fraud, others find this claim far funnier than Brian Dorsey’s brand of electoral comedy.

“A perpetrator does not have to match the voter’s signature,” says Marilyn Marks of the Rocky Mountain Foundation, which promotes ballot security and clean elections. “If you found my ballot in the trash, you could scrawl Marilyn Marks on the signature line – and have no idea of my signature — and then ‘witness’ it with ‘John Doe,’ and it is exempt from signature verification. Seriously.”

Into the mail such a phony ballot would go, ready to be counted with and nullify a legitimate ballot that deserves to respected and tabulated.

Election Day once was sacrosanct. People got out of their chairs, donned their clothes, went to the polls, and cast their ballots in a solemn, national civic ritual. Watchful precinct workers at least tried to confirm that voters were who they purported to be. On Election Night, we all saw the votes canvassed and learned who would lead the public affairs of our cities, states, and nation.

In too many places today, this has devolved into Election Month. Like umpires deciding a tied baseball game in the seventh inning, early voting encourages Americans to submit their ballots, even before final debates have concluded and closing campaign ads have aired.

People in beanbags with towels around their waists can vote at home on mail-in ballots. Whether they actually cast their own ballots is a mystery, as there are no precinct workers to greet them and judge whether anything seems amiss. These ballots get popped in the mail or — in Colorado — dropped into unsupervised collection boxes. In that state, local journalists give updates every few days as to which party has returned the most ballots. Rather than learn the results on Election Night, voters see a running score, as if choosing one’s United States senator, congressman, and governor were a ball game.

This is called defining elections down.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

ISIS Sympathizer Kills One Canadian Soldier, Wounds Another in Hit-and-Run Attack

A suspected Islamic State sympathizer whose passport was revoked by Canadian authorities ran down two Canadian soldiers in a Quebec parking lot on Monday, killing one and wounding another in what the Canadian government now believes was an Islamist-inspired attack.

The now-deceased Martin Rouleau waited two hours outside Canadian veterans building before slamming into the two soldiers, the Toronto Star reports. The homegrown jihadist then led police officers on a brief car chase, losing control of his vehicle and landing in a ditch. Rouleau was shot after climbing out of his overturned vehicle and confronting the officers, and died soon after in the hospital.

The Canadian government knew Rolueau had been “radicalized,” putting him on a list of 90 individuals in the country being actively monitored by police. They also pulled his passport, hoping to stop the wannabe jihadist from traveling to join Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. 

On Tuesday, Canadian authorities broke the news that the attack was likely inspired by Islam, saying the attacker was motivated by a “terrorist ideology.”

“This is a terrible act of violence against our country, against our military, against our values,” Blaney said.

Authorities are still investigating whether the attack is part of a broader plot. Security has been beefed up at Canadian military installations nationwide. 

R.I.P. Oscar de la Renta

Pat Buckley, with one of the designers who made her look good; Oscar de la Renta, with one of the ladies who made him look good.

Terrorists Gloat after U.S. Drops Weapons to ISIS By Mistake

Terrorists from the Islamic State gloated over captured weaponry in a video released on Tuesday, after some U.S. airdrops over the besieged Syrian town of Kobani appeared to miss their mark.

Over the weekend, the United States military began dropping weapons, supplied by the Kurdish government in Iraq, to Kurdish fighters battling Islamists for control of the Syrian border town. The Turkish government, with forces just across the border, had refused to allow more direct resupply routes.

But at least one drop appears to have fallen into the hands of Islamic State fighters. A jihadist YouTube account posted a video showing a group of Islamists milling around a large parachuted pallet loaded with weapons.

The materiel — which appear to be hand grenades and rocket-propelled-grenade rounds — could presumably be used against the Kurdish forces in Kobani, but the Pentagon says that it conducted an air strike that destroyed the misplaced drop.

The rest of the drops appeared to have reached their targets, with Kurdish officials on Monday claiming “a large quantity” of weapons and ammunition had been received.

Lockheed Martin Manager Explains How Ex-Im Can Hurt American Competitiveness

Large manufacturers are usually strong supporters of the Export-Import Bank, which is why the below clip is interesting: A Lockheed Martin site director in South Carolina, Don Erickson, is asked whether or not the Ex-Im Bank is good for Boeing and South Carolina. His answer: Yes and no. Ex-Im does help Boeing compete against Airbus in some ways, he says, which is a good thing for Boeing and South Carolina, where Boeing has plants. But, he points out, it’s not clear this is a net boost for the state: If Boeing weren’t subsidized, it might have to find other ways to be more cost-competitive, like moving more manufacturing to low-cost states such as . . . South Carolina.

Ex-Im, in other words, isn’t a “win-win,” and it’s always going to be distorting the free market.

Ga. Democrat Campaign Flier Warns of ‘Another Ferguson’

The Democratic Party of Georgia is warning black supporters that there may be “another Ferguson in their future” if they do not vote. Referring to the unrest in the Missouri city following the shooting death of Michael Brown earlier this year, the literature encourages supporters to take part in early voting.

“If we want a better, safer future for our children, it’s up to us to vote for change,” the flier reads.

The flier seems to acknowledge some of the party’s nominees this cycle may not be so attractive. “The choices may not always be perfect, but the cost of inaction is simply too great,” it says.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Paul Krugman Exposes Amazon Plot to Ship Right-Wing Books Faster

I will leave it to those with a masochistic bent to take up the economic arguments (“arguments”) in Paul Krugman’s column in today’s New York Times. Much more entertaining is Krugman’s paranoiac foray into outright conspiracy theory.

Here is Krugman’s opening line: “Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.” How is the Standard Oil of the 21st century hurting America? Glad you asked.

Krugman’s penultimate paragraph:

Last month the Times’s Bits blog documented the case of two Hachette books receiving very different treatment. One is Daniel Schulman’s “Sons of Wichita,” a profile of the Koch brothers; the other is “The Way Forward,” by Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s running mate and is chairman of the House Budget Committee. Both are listed as eligible for Amazon Prime, and for Mr. Ryan’s book Amazon offers the usual free two-day delivery. What about “Sons of Wichita”? As of Sunday, it “usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.” Uh-huh.

Is there something in the water at Princeton? Paul: Have you seen any men in red neckties?

It is one thing to think that Amazon has too much power, and that Jeff Bezos bestrides the world of e-commerce like a Silicon Valley Daniel Plainview. But how low have oxygen levels fallen on the mothership if an out-of-stock hardback is evidence of a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy — from a guy who, according to Roll Call, has donated twenty-fold to Democratic candidates over Republicans since 2000?

 

Stimulus Self-Dealing Charge Blows Up in N.C. Senate Race

Senator Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) provided a clear sign that she is worried about the threat to her reelection posed by reports that her husband’s company, JDC Manufacturing, received a grant through the 2009 stimulus: Her campaign has released an ad trying to rebut the charge and attack her opponent, Republican state-house speaker Thom Tillis, for crony capitalism.

“Hagan’s family didn’t profit. The energy efficiency project was cleared by an ethics lawyer and approved by auditors every step of the way,” the ad says, citing a September 25 Politico report.

One problem for Hagan: “How Sen. Hagan’s husband won stimulus cash” headlines the Politico story.

The vulnerable Democrat has received some help from a state government official who defended her husband from suggestions of impropriety after Tillis launched ads about the Hagan family’s business receiving a grant through the 2009 stimulus.

“Officials from the State Energy office said that Chip Hagan did nothing improper or out of the ordinary,” according to the Charlotte News & Observer. “And a review of documents from Chip Hagan’s company and the State Energy Office show there never were any savings to refund, and that the project went over budget not under.”

That contradicts a Carolina Journal report that the taxpayer-funded project came under budget and that Hagan applied the savings to his portion of the costs.

While the News & Observer challenges the CJ report that Hagan’s husband used the stimulus money to hire his son Tilden’s company, it also confirms that the younger Hagan worked on the project.

“As the News & Observer story states, Tilden was hired on an hourly basis, along with other workers, by an outside electrical contracting firm that performed the work and oversaw the project. His company was not contracted to do the job,” Caitlin Legacki, a spokeswoman for JDC Manufacturing, told NRO in an e-mail.

That may be an important distinction for some purposes — the Tillis campaign, notably, steered clear of this aspect of the story in its stimulus-focused TV ad — but it’s not enough to make the Carolina Journal back down.

“The Green State Power website features the Plastic Revolutions project, saying ‘the smooth installation and quick production of power prompted them to install an additional 58kW [solar] array in a similar location,” the publicantion counters. “Moreover, in November and December 2010, Tilden filed invoices as an hourly laborer for Circuitmakers Inc., a subcontractor that worked on the installation. About the same time, Tilden also was behaving very much like a project manager.”

So, you can expect the super PAC attacking Hagan for “funnel[ing] the money to another company owned by the Hagans” to keep the ad on the air.

National-Social Security

If you weren’t already ready to emigrate or join a militia, consider this: The same U.S. government that was willing to take to time to lean on conservative activist groups as to the content of their prayers has paid millions of dollars in Social Security benefits to Nazis. Not, “Oh, I hate George W.  Bush, he’s such a Nazi”–type Nazis, but real-life war criminals from the National Socialist German Workers Party. As Joe Biden wouldn’t say — Nazis, literally.

Do read the full AP report for how this came to pass. It is shocking, and it is shameful.

But it is utterly predictable. When it comes to government, income is sacred: Short them five bucks on your 1040EZ and they will seize your assets and, if they can find an excuse, put you in prison. Inflows matter, outflows not so much, because writing checks with other people’s money is easy and cheap, which is why we taxpayers have been funding comfortable European retirements for Auschwitz guards and SS troopers. 

From the Associated Press: “In response to AP’s findings, a White House spokesman said Monday that Nazi suspects should not be getting the benefits. But the spokesman, Eric Schultz, did not say whether or how the White House might end the payments.”

Terrific: “Nazis should not be receiving Social Security benefits,” White House says. “But we’re a little vague on whether we plan to do anything about it.”

More from the AP:

Among those who benefited:

- Armed SS troops who guarded the Nazi network of camps where millions of Jews perished.

- An SS guard who took part in the brutal liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland that killed as many as 13,000 Jews.

- A Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.

- A German rocket scientist accused of using slave labor to build the V-2 rocket that pummeled London. He later won NASA’s highest honor for helping to put a man on the moon.

The worst part of the AP’s report is this: The Justice Department used Social Security benefits as an inducement to get Nazis to leave the country, because the same government that specifies the required font size for OSHA posters in the break rooms at insurance offices in Omaha cannot be bothered to prosecute Nazis residing in the United States.

If 13,000 dead in Poland isn’t enough, then I wonder how many Jews somebody has to murder before the U.S. government will refuse to write him a check.

Days like this, I think that if I could figure out the words to “Waltzing Matilda,” I’d move to Australia. I don’t want to be represented by these people. 

Hope and Change in the Middle East

Let us get this straight: We were going to bomb Bashar Assad, but then decided at the last minute not to. But then we were going to help the Free Syrian Army. But then the administration did not, and later dismissed its forces as amateurs and a “fantasy.”

But then the administration made them the foundation of our ground strategy both against Assad and his archenemy, the jayvee-like Islamic State, which we are now bombing to the delight of Assad, as the Islamic State gobbles up Iraq, which we abandoned because it was “stable” and “secure” and the administration’s likely “greatest achievement.”

But then again we also apparently inadvertently dropped weapons and aid to the Islamic State, against whom we are now de facto allies with Iran, which we have accused of stonewalling on coming clean about its proliferation, even as we eased sanctions against them. Obama has a “special” relationship with Recip Erdogan (as opposed to our new indifference to the Kurds and Israelis), a big supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, whose hatred of both Assad and Kurdish separatists has heretofore prompted him to turn a blind eye to the Islamic State (which apparently, according to the secretary of state, grew out of the Arab Street’s frustration with supposed Israeli intransigence in dealing with the Palestinians), in the fashion of Qatar’s triangulation, where we base CENTCOM.

Meanwhile the administration is preemptively bombing in Iraq (where nonexistent stockpiles of WMD somehow keep turning up in the Iraqi-Syrian badlands), without consulting the U.S. Congress or the UN, given the administration’s present reliance on the twelve-year old, 2002 congressional authorization to bomb the late Baathist Saddam Hussein, a resolution which Barack Obama in his campaign in 2008 against Hillary Clinton ritually derided. It is all very confusing and lacks the clarity of administration policy in Egypt, where in tripartite fashion we eased out the fossilized Mubarak, welcomed in his replacement, the USC grad, ex-CSU prof and “moderate” Muslim Brother Morsi, only to shrug in exasperation at the subsequent General el-Sisi’s coup, which we  publicly resented and privately apparently welcomed.

All this makes our policy in Libya — from leading from behind to bombing the monster in rehab Qaddafi out of power to leaving a Mogadishu on the Mediterranean to the Benghazi murders — seem clear in comparison.

Ernst and Personhood

Joni Ernst, the Republican Senate candidate in Iowa, has been criticized both for backing a proposed amendment to the state constitution on personhood and for backtracking on it. In the past she has suggested that the amendment would have protected unborn life. More recently she has said that it was merely a statement of respect for life, and that policy change with respect to abortion would have to wait for subsequent legislation.

As far as I can tell, she got it right the second time. The amendment would have added this language to the state constitution: “The inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected.” The people who came up with that wording may have intended it to protect unborn human beings, but if so they left a pretty big loophole. They didn’t define “person” — unlike some other personhood amendments that have said that personhood begins at fertilization. Under the Iowa amendment, then, a court could rule that a human embryo or fetus is a non-person at an early stage of development and thus does not have an inalienable right to life. A court attempting to apply the rule could cite passages from Roe v. Wade that suggest that unborn children are not “persons” under the Constitution (or, if it were in the right frame of mind, cite comments by Justice Scalia to the same effect). Or it could ignore that question and hold that human embryos and fetuses are not persons within Iowa law.

By itself, the amendment doesn’t appear to do anything. That’s not necessarily a defense of Ernst, of course: Pushing for constitutional amendments that are drafted in a way that makes them pointless does not strike me as what we should want elected officials to do.

Clap Along If You Feel Like Happiness Is the Truth

Today’s Between the Covers podcast is with Russ Roberts, author of How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. We discuss why Adam Smith was more than a mere economist, what he says in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and what a man of the 18th century possibly could say to us about good living in the 21st century.

Dem Billionaire Tom Steyer Now Biggest Super PAC Donor of 2014

Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager who’s using his fortune to promote environmentalist Democrats in the midterms, has become the largest super political-action committee donor this cycle, according to the New York Times. Steyer has given $55 million to his super PAC, NextGen Climate Action Committee. He surpassed Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s super PAC giving on Monday night when NextGen reported Steyer gave $15 million last month.

Adelson has donated money to Republicans for decades, while Steyer’s involvement has been much more recent. Adelson became involved in GOP politics in 1992, and reportedly gave $10 million to Newt Gingrich to buoy his 2012 presidential campaign. He later threw his support, and $20 million, behind Mitt Romney.

Steyer was a top donor on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, but he only became intensely involved in political activism in 2010, when he gave money to defend a state greenhouse-gas-emissions law against a ballot measure intended to gut the regulation. The rapid rise of Steyer’s profile has coincided with the creation of super PACs by two Supreme Court decisions in 2010. Steyer pledged to spend at least $50 million of his own money on this year’s midterm elections, focused on climate change, and has already passed that threshold (he aimed for $50 million in matching donations, too). In August and September alone, Steyer gave a total $30 million.

Anti-Comstock Ad Shows Democrats Are the Ones Out of Step with Va. Voters

Perhaps Virginia Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with their latest ad, which attacks Republican Barbara Comstock, running for Congress in Old Dominion’s tenth district, for her votes against state funding of embryonic-stem-cell research during her tenure in the Virginia House of Delegates.

“Embryonic stem cells have so much promise,” says Virginia resident Roz Rakoff, whose husband died of ALS this year. “But Barbara Comstock voted to ban that research funding. . . . That takes away hope for a cure, but also for families like ours, who just wanted a little more time.” Rakoff cites Nancy Reagan’s support for embryonic-stem-cell research to suggest that Comstock is an extremist out of keeping with her own party.

But not only is Comstock in line with her party (she voted, for example, with 60-plus other Republicans on the embryonic-stem-cell research amendment to Virginia’s 2012 budget bill, H.B. 30, cited in the ad). She is in line with the retiring congressman from her district, Republican Frank Wolf, who voted in 2005 against repealing restrictions on federal funding for research on embryos. Wolf represented Virginia’s tenth district for more than three decades. However, Wolf supported research on adult stem cells, which poses no moral dilemma — and so does Comstock. “Barbara Comstock supports adult-stem-cell research,” Comstock campaign manager Susan Falconer told the Washington Post, “and the Virginia state budget does fund adult- and placental-stem-cell research.”

And, as a practical matter, that may be money better spent. Embryonic-stem-cell research has yet to result in clinical treatments. Adult stem cells, meanwhile, have already provided substantial benefit to patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, paralysis, and numerous other afflictions.

Finally, it would be absurd to think that Comstock’s stance on state funding for embryonic-stem-cell research means she opposes research for ALS patients and others. In fact, Comstock herself took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in August (watch it here), and donated to the search for a cure.

Comstock is not, as the House Majority PAC’s ad claims, “too extreme.” She is a principled politician in keeping with her party — and, if Frank Wolf’s 18 electoral victories are any indication, with the voters of Virginia’s tenth district.

Fliers and Liars

I should really be participating in the Oslo Freedom Forum, but I can’t take my eyes off American politics entirely — and I am a little ticked. This necessitates blogging.

I see a headline: “Pro-Hagan Flier Uses Lynching Image, Warns Of ‘Obama’s Impeachment’ If Democrat Loses.” (Article here.) The headline relates to the North Carolina Senate race, and the “Hagan” is the Democratic nominee, the incumbent senator, Kay Hagan.

I cannot help thinking of Ellen Sauerbrey, a woman I admire. She ran against Parris Glendening, the governor of Maryland, in 1998. The race was close — until the final days, when Glendening and the Democrats unleashed a campaign depicting Ellen as a racist. Team Glendening was headed by Bob Shrum, that toxic force in American politics, for so many years.

There was a flier. It showed a scene from 1960s Alabama, with black citizens being bitten by police dogs, as white cops looked on.

There were television ads, too, of course. They said that Ellen wanted to “turn back the clock” on civil rights, and that “the real Ellen Sauerbrey” had “a civil-rights record to be ashamed of.”

Let me quote the Washington Post, in a campaign post-mortem (“mortem” being the operative word, for Ellen):

One campaign ad showed a mural of Africa, while stating that Sauerbrey opposed hate crime legislation — without mentioning that the bill dealt only with sexual orientation, not race.

Sauerbrey did oppose a 1992 civil rights bill, but it was killed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, largely because lawmakers said they were concerned that it would have allowed heavy sexual harassment fines on business owners without a jury trial. Glendening’s ads didn’t mention that.

Anyway, they smeared Ellen as a racist, and it worked — worked like a charm. It put Glendening over the top. Black voters marched to the polls, in order to stop this racist woman whom they had heard about.

Later, Ellen said to me something like this — I’m paraphrasing, but closely: “It’s one thing if a campaign lies about an opponent’s view of tax policy or road construction or something. That’s not very nice, but then the election happens, and everybody goes on. Not much harm done. If you lie about a person’s racial views, there’s a lingering effect. The lie corrodes society. It makes race relations worse. It makes it harder for society to heal, after all these years, all these decades.”

That 1998 campaign in Maryland made me an admirer of Kurt Schmoke, the mayor of Baltimore — a Democrat and the first black person to be mayor of that city. After his fellow Democrats began their smear of Ellen, he said, “I will not participate in a campaign to try to persuade people that she is a racist.” He also said he knew the “difference between a political conservative and a racist.”

A stand-up guy. I have never forgotten his comments in the final, despicable days of that campaign.

Back to Shrum for a minute. In 1996, he worked against Ward Connerly’s Civil Rights Initiative in California. You remember CRI: It essentially copied the language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And you will remember that Connerly is a black civil-rights leader, incredibly brave, standing up for equality of opportunity and equality under the law.

Naturally, Shrum put up an ad against him showing David Duke (the Klansman) and a burning cross.

This is what Democrats do, and will always do — always. Until the electorate proves to them it doesn’t work.

When will that be?

Eric Holder Wishes He Could Have Curbed Your Rights More Effectively
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The Washington Times reports:

If there’s one thing that Eric Holder regrets during his time as attorney general for the United States, it’s his failure to press through a Second Amendment crackdown on the heels of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, he said.

“I think the inability to pass reasonable gun safety laws after the Newtown massacre is something that weighs heavily on my mind,” Mr. Holder said during an interview with CNN.

He was speaking of the White House push to pass a federal background check mandate for all commercial gun sales, as well as an outright ban on so-called assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, in the wake of the December 2012 school tragedy.

For those of us who consider Eric Holder to have been a terrible attorney general, I imagine that the first instinct here will be, “really, of all your shortcomings, that’s the one you focus on?” Nevertheless, for the sake of brevity let’s put that to one side for a moment and consider instead just how perverse this suggestion is. An attorney general of the United States just lamented in public that he was unable to secure further limitations on the rights of the citizens who employed him, and that this failure “weighs heavily” on his mind. One might expect an AG to regret that he was unable to prosecute a certain class of criminals more forcefully or that he did not have enough time to more effectively alter problems within the law or to clear up ambiguities that made people’s lives difficult. One should not expect him to be vexed that the national government was unable to prohibit certain types of firearms or to restrict the means by which a free people may choose to defend themselves — and, if he is so vexed, we might hope there are more pressing issues on his mind. Who do these people think they are?

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