The Republican Party and Ideas

Late last week an internal Republican National Committee memo leaked out which shows that at least the Republican leadership acknowledges a problem I have been writing about for a while–the lack of ideas being promoted by the party. As Steve Benen points out, admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. The memo states:

Republicans have grown accustomed to having our party recognized as the “Party of Ideas,” but we must acknowledge that many Americans today believe the party is stale and does not deserve that label. This is not a critique of our principles of a strong national defense, growth-focused economics, constitutionally-limited government, and a defense of traditional values. Rather, it is a reflection that we have not used our principles to provide solutions to the kitchen table concerns of middle-class America.

The Republicans lost because the Democrats were felt to have the better ideas on virtually all issues by a majority of Americans. Republicans found in 2008 that they could no longer win by relying on distorting the views of their opponents and raising meaningless attacks. False claims that Obama planned to redistribute the wealth in a Marxist sense or planned a government takeover of health care no longer fooled the voters. Attacks based upon discredited attacks such as Obama’s connections to William Ayers and Reverend Wright, and appeals to anti-intellectualism from Sarah Palin, were no longer effective. Republicans have become experts at raising McCarthyist style attacks but in the process began to ignore providing actual reasons to vote for them.

After the election The Economist summed up this problem by referring to the Republicans as a Ship of Fools. The economic collapse strengthened the conventional wisdom that the Democratic Party is stronger on economic issues, making most other issues irrelevant in the 2008 election. Even if other issues were considered, they did not work for the Republicans. At one time the Republicans were felt to be stronger on advocating a sound foreign policy. Now Republicans are the party advocating a reckless foreign policy while Democrats have taken the center. Republican denial of science and support for the social policies of the religious right are costing them the support of young voters as well as many affluent and educated Americans who have voted Republican in the past. Many voters no longer see the Republicans as either the party of ideas or of values, and are now voting Democratic based upon both values and self-interest.

The problem for the Republicans is not only that they lack ideas but that they have the wrong ideas. For years the Republican establishment took advantage of votes from the religious right but privately referred to them as the nuts. Now “the nuts” appear to control the party. For a moment it appeared that the Republicans might be turning towards moderation in nominating John McCain, but instead McCain increasingly adopted the positions of the extremists in the party. Republican voters see Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee as their two preferred choices for 2012. Red State has announced a war against Republicans who have not supported Palin. David Frum might be willing to abandon Sarah Palin, but still sees the mindset of Joe the Plumber as the future of the GOP.

The Republicans now face the dilemma that their strongest support comes from the religious right but these views will probably prevent them from being a majority party in states outside of the deep south and a handful of sparsely populated western states. A growing number of principled conservatives and libertarians who do not accept the views of the religious right are increasingly supporting Democratic candidates. There continue to be supporters of other ideas in the part, but their role is becoming increasingly trivial. William Kristol has recently admitted that conservative talk of small government has little relationship to the reality of Republican rule. Perhaps now that they don’t feel obligated to back the policies of George Bush, more Republicans will be consistent in backing civil liberties and restrictions upon the power of government.

It is hard to see any fate for the Republicans other than going the way of the Whigs if they don’t open themselves up to modern thought. A party which includes members who believe in creationism has no place in the twenty-first century. There have been some voices in the Republican Party which has resisted its current extremist tendencies.  Colin Powell recently warned Republicans against listening to Rush Limbaugh. It is also necessary for them to reject the entire fantasy world of conservative talk radio. In recent weeks I’ve also note that some Republicans such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christine Todd Whitman, along with columnists such as Kathleen Parker, have taken a more moderate stand than is common in the Republican Party, but I’ve also noted how resistant many Republicans are to moderating their views.

The mind set of the religious right, and why they are unlikely to moderate their views, can be seen in this response to my writings supporting modernization of Republican viewsin this response by Robert Stacy McCain at The American Spectator:

The real question isn’t the influence of Dobson, but rather the influence of God, and if you’re waiting for God to moderate his views, I suspect you’ll be waiting a long time.

I discussed the absurdity of this argument, along with the importance of a secular government as wisely advocated by the Founding Fathers, in this post last week. This concept is an important part of our heritage, and is necessary to allow all to worship, or not worship, as they choose. While this view is clear in the writings of the Founding Fathers, along with many court decisions, the religious right has been promoting a revisionist history which denies this. Although many of the Founding Fathers were Deists, who had a radically different view of the role of God in human affairs compared to Christianity, many Republicans, including the supposedly moderate John McCain, also falsely claim that the United States was founded as a Christian country.

As I’ve discussed in many previous posts, such as here, religious beliefs do not provide sufficient justification under our system of government for public policy decisions. I’ve also noted that Barack Obama has expressed similar views. This presents the fundamental difference in belief between supporters of modernity and the religious right. The real issue is not one of life style as many liberals live an essentially conservative life style, but a question of whether one believes the power of government should be used to impose life style choices upon others.

As Republicans search for ideas they might look back to promises of Ronald Reagan to get government off our backs. Instead of applying this solely to allowing business to go unregulated, they must reconsider their views on reproductive rights, embryonic stem cell research, end of life decisions as in the Terri Schiavo case, same-sex marriage, and other issues where personal morality should not be regulated by government. Barry Goldwater rejected the religious right and in his later years considered himself a liberal. If Republicans want to provide a viable alternateve to the Democratic Party, the Republicans should follow Barry Goldwater’s lead on this matter and reject the influence of the religious right. They cannot develop and promote good ideas until they face reality and reject the bad ideas which have destroyed their party.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Provides Path For Republicans

Republicans love to pull out Arnold Schwarzenegger when they feel they will benefit from campaigning with a celebrity, but Arnold would have never made it into office if he had to win a Republican primary first. While many in the party mistakenly believe they lost because they were not conservative enough, they would benefit from paying more attention to Schwarzenegger. He was interviewed on This Week with George Stephanopoulos and began by explaining why he has been busy, saying something most Republicans would never say:

Through global warming, we have now a fire season all year round. We used to have fire seasons only in the fall. But now the fire seasons start in February already. So this means that we have to really upgrade and have more resources, more fire engines, more manpower, and all of this, which, of course, does cost extra money.

While many Republicans are denying the existence of global warming, Schwarzenegger is working with the implications. He also has a more realistic view of taxes than conservative like Grover Norquist who insists that Republicans pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstance:

I don’t want to do it. I hate taxes. I hate the word “taxes” and all of those things. But there’s certain times when you have to forget about the ideology, and, you know, all of this, and fix problems…

Stephanopoulos noted he sounded much like Barack Obama when trying to look beyond partisanship:

I think it’s a bunch of nonsense, talking about parties and all of those things — because in the end, the American people are not that interested in Democrats versus Republicans and them arguing in Washington about is this a Democratic principle or is this a Republican principle.

Let me tell you something. When it comes to building roads and people driving on the roads — it’s Democrats, Republicans, independents, decline to state — everyone wants to use those roads. Everyone’s kids — Republicans’ kids, Democrats’ kids — everyone is in the school. They want to have great education. When it comes to clean air and protecting our environment and fighting global warming, everyone in America wants to be part of that.

So I think that it’s only the politicians that always divide things up and they draw and line and say this is a Republican idea and this is a Democratic idea. And in the meantime, it doesn’t help the people to stay in their homes.

Schwarzenegger questioned the idea that moving further to the right is what is required for Republicans to return to core values:

Remember that so many times there’s dialogue about, you know, we have to go back to our core values.

What is that? What is core? How far does core go back in history in America, the word core? Does it go back 30 years? Does it go back 50 years? Because we know that Teddy Roosevelt talked about universal health care. So they’re off the core for a long time ago already. He has talked about protecting our environment. So they’ve been off for a long time on that.

I mean, let’s be honest. Ronald Reagan — let’s go to Eisenhower, for instance. Eisenhower has built the highway system in America and he’s poured billions of dollars into infrastructure. Where Republicans today say, well, that’s spending. We shouldn’t spend. That’s not spending. That’s investing in the future of America.

So there’s a lot of things that they have been off on, if they want to go and talk about the core values. But maybe their definition of core values is maybe different.

But I mean, so I think it’s all nonsense talk. I think if they just talk about one thing, what do we need now?

Now, America needs to be rebuilt, because we haven’t really rebuilt America for decades. So we need to rebuild America, fix the bridges, fix the highways, fix the buildings, tunnels and all of those kind of things we need to do. And then we have to go and create great relationships with our partners overseas, with the world, and to build those relationships again. And we have to take care of health care. We have to take care of our environment. And we have to build an energy future. Those are the things that people want right now.

He differs from the right wing in questioning the constitutionality of prohibiting gay marriage, regardless of his own views on the subject:

I personally am — for me, marriage is between a man and a woman. But I don’t want to ever force my will on anyone.

I think that the Supreme Court was right by saying that it’s unconstitutional. And that everyone should have the right, just like we had the battle in 1948 and the Supreme Court decision came down, that, you know, it was unconstitutional for blacks and whites not to be able to get married with each other, and they overturned that. And since then, that has been taken care of.

And now the Supreme Court says that it’s also unconstitutional to not let gay people get married, the same-sex marriage. So to me, that is the important decision here, and everything else is not that important. So people can pass initiatives, like Proposition 187 passed under Wilson that said we should not give, you know, Latinos and those that are illegally here any educational services or any kind of medical services. The Supreme Court said, well, the people maybe had some intentions there, but it’s unconstitutional.

The Republicans will have a much better shot of remaining as a viable political party if they adopt Schwarzenegger’s more moderate outlook, but this is not very likely to occur.

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Considering Republicans For An Obama Cabinet

The Politico reports that, “California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview aired Sunday that he would be open to the idea of serving as energy czar in a Barack Obama administration.” This is all hypothetical as no position has been offered, but a liberal Republican such as Schwarzenegger is the type of Republican which would make sense to include in an Obama administration. The Politco observes:

A Schwarzenegger appointment would add even more star power to a hypothetical Obama administration, and would allow Obama to make an appointment from across the aisle that would not upset his core supporters.

It probably would not upset his post-partisan core supporters but some long-time Democrats might not go along. I find via Memeorandum that Pamela Leavey at The Democratic Daily does object. Seeing this objection to Schwarzenegger raises a question in my mind about support or opposition to California politicians.  Pamela, at least back in the days when I worked with her at The Democratic Daily , did seem to support Diane Feinstein. She is a Democrat that, while certainly not as bad as Lieberman, is one which I think the Democrats would be wise to get rid of. Between her right wing record on civil liberties issues and her support for Bush’s Medicare policy she has not been a Democrat who I would see any value in voting for (beyond backing her over a worse Republican opponent).

Living far from California I am certainly not as aware of all the specifics of the positions held by either Feinstein or Schwarzenegger but I have a hard time seeing how someone could support a conservative Democrat such as Feinstein and oppose a liberal Republican such as Schwarzenegger. While there might be some specific examples, in general I do not see that overall Feinstein is any closer to liberal Democratic positions than Schwarzenegger. In both cases I am sure there are positions where I would agree and disagree, and therefore I would not care if either wound up in a cabinet position dealing with an area where I agreed with them. To support Feinstein and have such a blanket opposition to Schwarzenegger can only be based upon pure partisanship. Hopefully reducing such knee jerk partisanship will be one of the accomplishments of Obama.

Pamela also writes:

It’s incredibly far-fetched that Obama would even consider Schwarzenegger for the role of “energy czar” when there’s a wealth of Democrats far more qualified than Schwarzenegger. Of the top of my head, Schwarzenegger doesn’t hold a candle on environmental issues to Democratic Party environmentalists like Al Gore, John Kerry and Barbara Boxer.

Perhaps our views on Feinstein aren’t as far apart as she does pick the better of the two California Senators.  I doubt Gore would be interested in the  position. Kerry would be a fine choice but I would prefer to see him as Secretary of State, or possibly even Attorney General.  Energy policy might actually be a good position for a  liberal Republican to  help develop a bipartisan consensus, so the appointment of Schwarzenegger does actually sound like a reasonable choice.

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Least Favorite Elected Republicans of the Right Wing

I recently posted a list of favorite elected Republicans among conservatives as compiled by Right Wing News. They subsequently posted their least favorites. As I expected, John McCain did better on this list than on the favorites list. Many who made this list are some of the less objectionable Republicans, with several moderate Republicans leading the list. Ron Paul also barely made the list. I bet Michael Bloomberg would have ranked even higher if he hadn’t changed to an independent. Here are their least favorites:

14) Ron Paul (5)
14) Mel Martinez (5)
13) Michael Bloomberg (7)
11) Susan Collins (8)
11) Charlie Crist (8)
9) George Voinovich (9)
9) John Warner (9)
7) Lindsey Graham (16)
7) Larry Craig (16)
6) Ted Stevens (17)
5) John McCain (18)
4) Arnold Schwarzenegger (19)
3) Olympia Snowe (20)
1) Arlen Specter (23)
1) Chuck Hagel (23)

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Scandals Great For Comics and Blog Traffic

spitzertgirl.jpg

Scandals and resignations have dominated the news this week. The most prominent was today’s resignation of Eliot Spitzer for having answered the the ad above from the Emperor’s Club and appreciating Kristin’s “refinements.” In addition, Geraldine Ferraro resigned from the Finance Committee of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for her recent comments on Barack Obama and Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island was arrested for possession of marijuana. I always thought that Ginger was the bad girl.

Spitzer’s sex scandal has been great for late night comics and also great for blog traffic. Jon Swift described What Eliot Spitzer Should Say To Save His Career. The top search leading people to the site the last couple of days has been for “Spitzer Kristin.” Even though this pulled up a picture of Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars and Heroes) in a Google image search, a lot of people still clicked through to the site after seeing the thumbnail of Kristen Bell!

For the benefit of those looking for the Kristen involved in the Spitzer sex scandal, The New York Times has tracked her down and here’s her picture. You decide if it is worth spending over $4000 on her and giving up a promising political career. This just shows how much smarter Bill Clinton was. He got it for free, and remained in office.

kristensttropez.jpg

“Kristen” is actually Ashley Youmans, now known as Ashley Alexandra Dupré, and you can find out more about her at her MySpace page.

Gawker has some clips from Monday night’s jokes by David Letterman and Jay Leno. A clip from The Colbert Report is here. On Monday David Letterman presented the Top Ten Eliot Spitzer Excuses. Number one was ” I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago.” On Tuesday he presented the Top Ten Messages Left on Eliot Spitzer’s Answering Machine. Here’s some of the messages:

It’s Barack Obama. Remember our conversation about being my running mate? Nevermind.

Ralph Nader here, glad to hear I’m not the only politician who has to pay for it.

This is John McCain, if it makes you feel better, I once got caught having sex with Lincoln’s wife.

This is Senator Larry Craig. Do you ever go through the Minneapolis airport?

Paris Hilton here. I would have done it for free.

It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thanks, I’m no longer America’s creepiest governor.

Here’s a selection from some of the jokes told the last couple of days:

“You know, I’m a half-full kind of guy. I always try to put a positive spin on stuff. Sure, it’s a horrible story. On the other hand, you look at it this way, he was supporting New York’s number one industry.” –David Letterman

“He went through this call girl thing. … He was known as a regular customer. He was known as Client 9. It looks now like Client 9 will soon be looking for wife number 2.” –David Letterman

“Here’s one that is kind of cute. He would get the hookers, the call girls, the prostitutes, the whores, and he would run them down, put them on the train, Amtrak. Like they need more publicity. And he’d run them down to Washington, DC, and they’d check into a beautiful suite and have the rendezvous at a place called the Mayflower Hotel. Now that’s the difference between a Democratic and a Republican sex scandal. The Republicans have their rendezvous at an airport men’s room” –David Letterman

“Do you know what the highest paid government position in this country is? Anybody know? … It is working under New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. It pays like $5,000 an hour.” –Jay Leno

“As I’m sure you know by now, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has admitted that he was involved in a prostitution ring. Now this is the same man who when he was attorney general went after the prostitution ring. So apparently, it was for not giving him good service.” –Jay Leno

“Well, you know something, this shows you how the whole world is backwards. I mean, you got Democrats. Now, they’re supposed to be poor, right? Don’t Democrats traditionally represent the poor people? They’re paying $5,000 an hour for sex. You got the Republicans. They’re supposed to be rich, right? They’re cruising airport bathrooms trying to get it for free. What’s going on?” –Jay Leno

“The really ironic thing about this case — today, the hooker said Spitzer was done in a New York minute.” –Jay Leno

“Do you ever notice politics is the only profession when a guy gets caught with a hooker, the wife has to stand by his side. You know, if this guy was a plumber and he got caught with a prostitute, he’d have his wife’s SUV tire tracks over his head.” –Jay Leno

“It’s just mind-blowing that he spent $4,300 on a hooker. It just shows how high the cost of living is in New York. That same hooker would cost $50 in Newark.” –New York comic Lisa Landry

The New York Times reported that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was a customer of a high-end prostitution ring, that the prostitutes knew him as Client #9. Client #9, yeah. Not surprisingly, clients one through eight were Charlie Sheen.” –Conan O’Brien

“Here’s what happened, it was one of those sting deals. And they caught Eliot Spitzer, Gov. Spitzer, with a wire, recording him soliciting a prostitute. And I’m thinking, ‘Holy cow, we can’t get Bin Laden, but we got Spitzer. We got Sptizer.’” –David Letterman

“The thinking is the governor may step down now to spend less time with his family. The good thing is, he was caught soliciting a hooker, but on the bright side, it did not involve an airport men’s room.” –David Letterman

“The New York Times says that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is linked to a prostitution ring. … Gov. Spitzer, this is the latest, responded, just a few hours ago. He said, quote, ‘I violated my obligations to my family and I violated my sense of what is right and wrong.’ … Spitzer also admitted violating someone named Amber.” –Conan O’Brien

“Spitzer held a brief press conference yesterday, where he apologized to his constituents and to his family. He didn’t take any questions but retreated to the privacy of his home, where his wife repeatedly kicked him in the testicles.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Actually, she stood right next to him in the press conference. That is always amazing to me, how these guys get their wives to stand there and support them. … I don’t know what kind of zombie chow they put in these women’s food, but it’s mind-boggling. … I don’t want to rub it in to any of you visiting from New York, but here in California, our governor doesn’t have to pay for sex. When he wants it, he takes it.” –Jimmy Kimmel

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Gore and Schwarzenegger Forming Candidate Forum on Climate Change

Al Gore might wind up in the candidate debates after all this year, but not as someone running for office. Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger are working together on a bipartisan forum on climate change to held in New Hampshire in December. According to AP:

The forum, which is still in the planning stages, is being designed so presidential candidates from both parties will attend. Adam Mendelsohn, a spokesman for the governor, said the format was not completely developed, but the former vice president was handling the Democratic candidates, while Schwarzenegger would handle the Republicans.

The most interesting aspect might be to get the Republican candidates on record with regards to whether they accept the scientific consensus on climate change, just as they were asked their views on evolution at one of the GOP debates. Either they will have to break with their base or will have to publicly display how conservatives place ideology over science.

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SciFi Friday: WGA Strike Edition

With nobody knowing how long the WGA strike will last I’m sure much of this is subject to change but we are starting to get an idea as to how the strike will affect many of the shows. The good news is that you’ll have a lot more time to read your favorite blogs.


Lost has only filmed eight episodes but has decided to go ahead and show them starting in February. If they are unable to complete the season, the eighth episode ends in a cliff hanger which will serve as a season finale.


24 was already delayed by the California fires, and has additional problems with Jack Bower Kiefer Sutherland having to serve time in a Chinese prison in jail following a DUI arrest. As of now the season is canceled.

The Heroes Origins spin off has been canceled and Heroes might come to an early end this December. In the meantime, we finally get an explanation as to what happened following the conclusion of last season on Monday’s episode. It’s a shame the season might be ending as Tim Kring appears to have figured out what he has done wrong. In an interview in Entertainment Weekly, Kring acknowledges that the pace has been too slow this season and that Hiro spent too much time in Japan. Is there anyone who didn’t guess that Hiro would wind up doing the good deeds attributed to Takezo Kensei and that David Anders would turn out to be a bad guy who survived to present time? I never did trust Sark.

Pushing Daisies will end after the ninth episode which was rewritten to serve as a season finale. If I knew it might only last nine episodes this year I might have stuck with it longer, but I gave up on it after the second, questioning how long the gimmick of bringing people back to life would work. (The idea did work well for Torchwood when they brought it back only one time following the series premiere in the episode broadcast on HDNet this week, They Keep Killing Suzie).

Many sitcoms are also shutting down early, including Big Bang Theory. This show was a pleasant surprise for the season. Episodes often include jokes which those who watch the shows regularly discussed here will appreciate. CBS is putting together a string of comedies on Monday nights to rival the classic “must see” Thursday lineups from NBC. Last I heard, How I Met Your Mother has remained in production but Rules of Engagement has been shut down.


Jon Robin Baitz, creator of Brothers and Sisters, wrote a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger requesting that he intervene in the strike which is up at Huffington Post. It just might take a killer cyborg to get the writers off the picket line and back to work.

JJ Abrams has stated he will honor the strike and not do any rewrites, but filming for the upcoming Star Trek movie began this week as scheduled. In casting news since my last update Bruce Greenwood will play Captain Christopher Pike, who preceded James T. Kirk in commanding the USS Enterprise. The most surprising addition to the cast was Winona Ryder as Spock’s mother Amanda. Some early pictures from the filming have been posted on line. In other Star Trek news, The Times of London has a feature on Patrick Stewart. Armin Shimmerman (Quark) and Lawrence Krauss are teaching students at Arizona State University about The Science of Star Trek.

At least Doctor Who won’t be affected by the strike. Alice Cooper is now discussing a guest appearance next season.

The comic books are also unaffected by the strike (other than for the many potential movie versions still to be made).The American Prospect has a story on how the comics are becoming increasingly political.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Advises Republicans to Capture the Center, Would Welcome Run by Bloomberg

Arnold Schwarzenegger has advised the Republicans to attempt to capture the center. The Financial Times reports:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, has urged Republican presidential candidates to capture the political centre ground ahead of next year’s election by focusing on healthcare reform and education.

As the campaign has unfolded, leading candidates have drifted to the right to win support from social conservatives.

But in an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Schwarzenegger said the party’s candidates were “missing out on something” because televised debates had been dominated by questions about gay marriage, abortion and immigration.

Mr Schwarzenegger said candidates should challenge the questions they were asked in the debates. “Someone has to say: ‘We’ve talked enough about immigration, now I want to talk about healthcare reform’.” The candidates had to “move the agenda”, he said.

Shifting the debates to centre-ground topics would be a positive move, he added. “Being somewhat in the centre . . . is not a detriment. If you sell [your ideas] well and if you explain it well, that’s what leadership is all about, bringing people along.”

Schwarzenegger is right that the Republicans need to move back towards the center, but there are a couple of problems with the approach he recommended. Republicans cannot capture the center by talking about issues such as health care because they have no meaningful plans. The health care crisis cannot be solved by screaming that every meaningful proposal represents “socialized medicine” and then offering counter proposals which  would often worsen the situation.

The Republicans also cannot win the center by simply trying to shift the discussion away from their far right wing views on social issues as these are the among the  positions which have caused the Republicans to lose the center. Other issues which were not mentioned such as Iraq will also prevent the Republicans from being a viable option for many centrist voters.

Schwarzenegger also expressed interest in Michael Bloomberg:

He said he would welcome a presidential bid from Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, who is considering standing as an independent candidate in next year’s election.

Mr Bloomberg was a “miracle worker” who transcended party lines in running New York, a Democrat party stronghold, Mr Schwarzenegger said.

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Right Wingers’ Least Favorite Right Wingers

Last week, Right Wing News presented right wing bloggers’ favorite people. This week they rank the least liked people on the right by conservative bloggers. Some are undoubtedly on the list due to being moderate as opposed to conservative. George Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity made both the favorites and least favorites lists.

The candidates for the 2008 Republican nomination are well represented. Ron Paul is number one on the list with John McCain at number 3. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are in the second ten. The full rankings follow.

18 Ted Stevens (4)
18 Olympia Snowe (4)
18 Mel Martinez (4)
18 Sean Hannity (4)
18 Lincoln Chafee (4)
17 Bill O’Reilly (5)
14 Lindsey Graham (6)
14 George W. Bush (6)
14 Mitt Romney (6)
12 Arnold Schwarzenegger (9)
12 Rudy Giuliani (9)
8 Andrew Sullivan (11)
8 Chuck Hagel (11)
8 James Dobson (11)
8 Ann Coulter (11)
6 Arlen Specter (12)
6 Pat Robertson (12)
4 Larry Craig (13)
4 Michael Savage (13)
3 John McCain (17)
2 Pat Buchanan (18)
1 Ron Paul (23)

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Two Socially Liberal Republicans Accomplishing Goals Despite Washington Gridlock

The Republicans could (and probably will) do a lot worse than to follow the lead of this odd couple profiled by Time:

The Hollywood brute and the Wall Street mogul may look like the oddest couple since Twins, but there’s a reason Schwarzenegger calls Bloomberg his soul mate. They’re both self-confident, self-made men who rose to stardom from middle-class obscurity — Bloomberg in Medford, Mass., Schwarzenegger in Thal, Austria — through Tiger Woods-level determination and Donald Trump-level salesmanship. They’re both socially liberal Republicans who have flourished in Democratic political cultures; Schwarzenegger is even a member of the Kennedy clan, through his marriage to Maria Shriver.

While Washington has been in gridlock and “when President George W. Bush’s political adviser is a household name but his domestic policy adviser was unknown even in Washington until he was arrested for shoplifting,” mayors and governors are being forced to take action:

Look at global warming. Washington rejected the Kyoto Protocol, but more than 500 U.S. mayors have pledged to meet its emissions-reduction standards, none more aggressively than Bloomberg. His PlaNYC calls for a 30% cut in greenhouse gases by 2030. It will quadruple the city’s bike lanes, convert the city’s taxis to hybrids and impose a controversial congestion fee for driving into Manhattan. And Schwarzenegger signed the U.S.’s first cap on greenhouse gases, including unprecedented fuel-efficiency standards for California cars. (He’s already tricked out two of his five Hummers, one to run on biofuel and another on hydrogen.) The feds have done nothing on fuel efficiency in two decades, but 11 states will follow California’s lead if Bush grants a waiver. After signing a climate deal with Ontario — on the same day as his stem-cell deal — he said he had a message for Detroit: “Get off your butt!” He had a similar message for Washington. “Eventually, the Federal government is going to get on board,” he said. “If not, we’re going to sue.”

But they’re tackling not just the climate. Bloomberg is leading a national crackdown on illegal guns, along with America’s biggest affordable-housing program. He also enacted America’s most draconian smoking ban and the first big-city trans-fat ban. And he’s so concerned about Washington’s neglect of the working poor that he’s raised $50 million in private money, including some of his own millions, to fund a pilot workfare program. Meanwhile, after the Bush Administration rebuffed California’s appeals for help repairing the precarious levees that protect Sacramento, Schwarzenegger pushed through $42 billion worth of bonds to start rebuilding the state’s infrastructure. He’s also pushing a universal health-insurance plan and hopes to negotiate a deal with Democrats this summer. “All the great ideas are coming from state and local governments,” Schwarzenegger told Time. “We’re not going to wait for Big Daddy to take care of us.”

(more…)

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