Archive for April, 2009

Arlen Specter’s Party Hopping – from The Economist

So Arlen Specter has finally taken off his elephant suit.  It was probably about time; he could never be reliably counted on to actually stop a lot of President Obama and the Democrat’s measures to transform American society.  On many issues, there was often the possibility that he (and a couple other North Eastern Republicans) could go along with the Democrats.  It is no consolation that sometimes he’ll vote with his former party.

This is the second time that a member of the national legislature has switched parties soon after an election.  The last time, Senator Jefferies became an independent rather than totally joining the Democrats, but Jefferies defection had a more immediate impact, changing the way things were done in the Senate.  This time, at least, the defection doesn’t significantly weaken the Republicans.

The above article from the Economist misses a crucial point in its analysis of Specter’s defection.  In such a defection, and in Republican defeats in the North East (for example, there are no longer any Republicans from New England in the House), all the Economist can see is party.  Such an analysis misses out on the ideological aspects of the issue.  In the Republican defeats, all the Economist can see is the weakening of a party.  What it misses, however, is that the Republicans who lost in the North East were all of Specter’s ilk: what Rush Limbaugh and others often call “Democrat Lite.”  They are Republicans who try to win elections by being more like Democrats, rather than Republicans actually running as Republicans.  From a typical voter’s perspective, why would I vote for a Democrat-Lite Republican when I can vote for the real thing?

In the North East and other parts of the country where Democrats have been dominating, the Republican party needs to actually provide an alternative to the Democratic party line.  They need to explain to the American people why they should be elected over Democrats, what they’re going to do differently, and why their ideas will actually work.

The Economist suggests that it is the Republican party moving right that caused Specter’s separation from his state party and subsequent defection.  This, however, has the cause and effect backwards.  It is the Republican party elite’s insistance on moving the party to the left that has caused the loss of North Eastern states: many Conservatives would rather stay home than vote for a liberal Republican, and Democrats aren’t going to vote for a Republican at all.

It is because of this reality that Specter has to change parties: he will no longer be able to win as a Republican, since he was basically a Democrat anyways.

Janeane Garafalo and Tea Parties

I became aware of the above story while listening to Mark Levin’s radio show today; I haven’t decided if I like his show (although Liberty and Tyranny is an excellent read), mainly because he yells a little too much for my tastes.  Anyway, he played a clip on his April 17th show from Keith Olberman’s show on MSNBC, in which Olberman was interviewing Janeane Garafalo about the Tax Day Tea Parties.

Exactly why Garafalo was on the show I’m not sure, and it should be evident from the clip and transcript linked to above that she had no idea what she was talking about.  Read the rest of this entry »

“What If?” demo reposted to Puddleglum Music

I’ve reposted the “What If?” demo that I had up at Puddleglum Music. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

First Post on DeTocqueville.US

The first post of my analysis of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, covering the first part of the Introductory chapter, is up at DeTocqueville.US.  The article looks at the development of democracy in Europe, especially France.  The second article, which I will have up this weekend, will finish out the introduction.

New Website Project!

Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1835 book Democracy in America has been coming up a lot recently on conservative talk shows (such as Rush Limbaugh) and in books (such as Mark R. Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny), especially as it relates to conservative principles, and I realized that while I am familiar with de Tocqueville in a general sense, I’ve never actually read the book. In order to study the book and share my findings, I started a new website,

The project will be a read-through of the book with commentary of both a historical and contemporary nature. I’d also like to get a discussion going about the book, especially about how de Tocqueville’s analysis of American government compares to today, so please leave comments and such at the site. I’ll put up a post here at when I have the first substantive article up; I’m hoping to do about one chapter a week (or more if a chapter is shorter, or I end up with more time).