SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eco-Terrorism: There’s No Such Thing

Property Rights Extremists Equate McMansions to 9/11 Victims The United States should not build housing. Whole neighborhoods in places like Chicago and Dayton and Oakland and Newark and Memphis are dominated by abandoned houses and apartment buildings. Ten percent of our national housing stock–more than 13 million homes, enough to put roofs over the homeless three times over–are vacant year-round. So why do we let developers bulldoze fields and forests to put up soulless monstrosities? Several “model houses” at a development bearing the typically atrocious name of “Quinn’s Crossing at Yarrowbay Communities” at the edge of Seattle’s creeping suburban sprawl went up in flames, apparently torched by radical environmentalists. I had two reactions. First, I was reminded of my wonder that such things happen so infrequently. Then I laughed. I wasn’t alone. Time magazine bemoaned “a notable lack of sympathy for the fate of the homes” among residents of Washington state. Quinn’s Crossing, says its website, was “dedicated to the…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Afghanistan—A War We Can’t Believe In

Why Obama’s Favorite War is Less Winnable Than Iraq Five years after the Republicans got us into war against Iraq, Democrats want to double down on a war that’s even more unjustifiable and unwinnable–the one against Afghanistan. By any measure, U.S. troops and their NATO allies are getting their asses kicked in the country that Reagan’s CIA station chief for Pakistan called “the graveyard of empires.” Afghanistan currently produces a record 93 percent of the world’s opium. Suicide bombers are killing more U.S.-aligned troops than ever. Stonings are back. The Taliban and their allies, “defeated” in 2001, control most of the country–and may recapture the capital of Kabul as early as this summer. “So,” asks The New York Times, “has Afghanistan now become a bigger security threat to the United States than Iraq?” Barack Obama’s answer is yes. He spent last year parroting the DNC’s line that Bush “took his eye off the ball” in Afghanistan when we invaded Iraq.…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Hope You Can’t Vote For

Ralph Nader Appeals to Disenfranchised Liberals “What,” editorializes U.S. News & World Report, “does Ralph Nader bring to the political dialogue this year? Answer: nothing except for his own inflated ego.” Dimestore psychoanalysis was the standard reaction to Nader’s third third-party presidential bid. “An ego-driven spoiler,” the Des Moines Register called him. “He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work,” jabbed Barack Obama. You see, other politicians who seek the presidency are like the Dalai Lama, humble and self-effacing. Obama and Hillary? Two sweeties. Not an ounce of ego between them. Even our former colonial masters put in their two pence. Nader’s “egotism and cult of left-wing purity has been an utter disaster for the values he affects to espouse,” railed the UK Independent. Nader’s values would fare better, apparently, were he to shut up and keep them to himself. Is Ralph really a spoiler? To answer “yes,” you have to buy three assumptions: First, that…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Talk No, Vote Yes

THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: TALK NO, VOTE YES How do Sleazy Senators Get Away With It? A weird new tactic is highlighting the troubling extent to which the news media fails to hold our elected officials accountable. First, a politician calls a press conference where he issues a strident declaration for or against a bill. Big headlines follow. Then, when the matter comes up for a vote, he votes exactly the opposite of what he had said he would. And no one pays attention. Ten years ago, not even the most outrageous legislator would attempt such brazen perfidy. Back then, “flip-flopping”–changing one’s mind about an issue, voting one way and then the other–was the worst sin a pol could commit. Now he can take to the Senate floor, shout about a proposed law being a threat to mom, God and apple pie–and the next day vote “yes,” secure in the knowledge that no reporter will call him on it. Thus…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: There Should Be Blood

Liberal Democrats Left Out in the Cold“The truly undecided voter is rare, say those who study the psychology of voting,” Joe Garofoli wrote in The San Francisco Chronicle. “Since neuroscientists say 90 percent of thought is unconscious, an undecided voter may have already decided–he just hasn’t revealed his pick to himself yet.” Whether I’m a rare bird or a typical victim of self-denial, I didn’t know how I was going to vote until election day–or, to be more precise, a election minute. Roughly 15 to 20 percent of 2008 primary voters have had similar trouble getting their unconscious to talk to them. Most of the electoral procrastinators are conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats–party loyalists whose influence has been diluted by independents who vote in their primaries. As has been widely discussed, conservatives were unhappy with the entire field of Republican presidential contenders. Less noted but no less significant has been the effect of John Edwards’ departure from the Democratic field.…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Integrity Lite

Puffing Up John McCain, POW “A proven leader, and a man of integrity,” the New York Post called John McCain in its editorial endorsement. “A naval aviator shot down over North Vietnam and held as a POW, McCain knew that freedom was his for the taking. All he had to do was denounce his country. He refused–and, as a consequence, suffered years of unrelenting torture.” This standard summary of McCain’s five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton, repeated in thousands of media accounts during his 2000 campaign and again this election year, is the founding myth of his political career. The tale of John McCain, War Hero prompts a lot of people turned off by his politics–liberals and traditional conservatives alike–to support him. Who cares that he “doesn’t really understand economics”? He’s got a great story to tell. Scratch the surface of McCain’s captivity narrative, however, and a funny thing happens: his heroism blows away like the rust…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Independents Go Home

Open Primaries Are Killing Democracy Check out this political mystery: Liberals, a.k.a. the Democratic base, are angry. They’re so angry that they tried to unseat senior senator and former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman in 2006, who had become synonymous with bipartisanship. Bipartisanship, hell. They’re in the mood for payback. So why is Barack Obama, a bipartisan accommodationist who promises to appoint Republicans to his cabinet and praises Ronald Reagan, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination? Why is Hillary Clinton, militant centrist of the DLC, running a close second? Mystery #2: Liberal primary voters are obsessed with choosing a nominee who can win the general election in November. And yet, according to a hypothetical head-to-head match-up, neither Obama nor Clinton qualifies. The most electable Democrat, found the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. match-up poll, is John Edwards. “Edwards is the only Democrat who beats all four Republicans, and McCain is the only Republican who beats any of the three Democrats…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Who’s Afraid of John Edwards?

Media Freezes Out a Threat to Corporate Owners In 2004 Democrats were determined to pick the presidential nominee who had the best chance of defeating George W. Bush in the general election. That man was the feisty former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean. One could easily imagine him mercilessly flaying Bush in debates before trouncing Yale’s least favorite son in November. Primary voters, mistakenly betting that blandness and moderation would be a better sell, chose John Kerry instead. The party of Hubert Humphrey and Michael Dukakis seems poised to make the same mistake again, whether with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Polls show that two-thirds of Americans think the country is ready for a female or black president. But I’m a glass-third-full guy. When a third of the electorate tells you “we’re” not ready for a woman or an African-American commander-in-chief, they really mean that they won’t vote for one. John Edwards is more likely to beat Romney or McCain…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: The Politics of Dopes

Barack Obama, Empty Suit Barack Obama’s supporters compare him to John Kennedy, another great orator whose youth and short political resume opened him to complaints that he didn’t have enough experience to be president. But there’s no comparison. JFK served two terms in the House and won two terms in the Senate before asking us not to ask what he could do for us. If Obama wins, he will only have had four years in Congress, next to Kennedy’s fourteen. (Hillary Clinton, running as a grizzled veteran, would have eight.) Ted Kennedy is a better analogy. At the start of his 1980 Democratic primary challenge to incumbent President Jimmy Carter, Kennedy was riding high in the polls. But when Roger Mudd of CBS News asked him why he wanted to be president, he fumbled. “Kennedy’s problem,” Paul Waldman wrote in The American Prospect in July 2007, “was not that he didn’t have a good reason to run–he had plenty of…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Idiots (Heart) Huckabee

The Media’s Dangerous Tolerance of Anti-Intellectualism Mike Huckabee isn’t qualified for public office. He may not be smart enough to hold a job. Yet he could become our next president. Huckabee’s upset victory in the Iowa caucuses is cited as evidence that American democracy still works. “At a Friday night event,” right-wing columnist William Kristol opined in the New York Times, “[Huckabee] played bass with a local rock band, Mama Kicks. One secular New Hampshire Republican’s reaction: ‘Gee, he’s not some kind of crazy Christian.” Huckabee is an affable, funny, ordinary Joe on a shoestring budget who trounced a slick multimillionaire. But he’s also a crazy Christian. And he won because crazy Christians motivated by anti-Mormon bigotry voted for him. In the Republican Party, hate trumps cash. If Huckabee were Muslim, he’d be a radical Islamist. Denying separation of church and state, he said at a Baptist convention in 1998 that he got into politics because he “knew government didn’t…
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