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Blair’s Bargain


Tony Blair now seems to be on board with the Iraq Study Group’s “grand bargain” strategy for the Middle East. I talk about the problems with such an approach today in “Doves Fly Toward Iran.” You could summarize my point this way: Blair’s message to Iran is, “…if you stop supporting terrorism, if you stop trying to acquire nuclear weapons and don’t breach your international obligations, then we are willing to have a partnership with you, but if you export terrorism around the region and destabilize democracy in Iraq, we will confront you.” The problem is that the “we will confront you” part of this message is rapidly losing credibility, especially since President Bush and Prime Minister Blair no longer control the apparatus of confrontation. That is now in the hands of the French, the Germans, the Russians, the Chinese, and America’s Democratic Party. It’s now up to the world’s doves to give the “or else” in Blair’s message some bite. If they don’t, we are unlikely to get even a questionable “grand bargain” out of Iran.

Senate Sessions Sidenote


If I were a Senator Jim DeMint, a Tom Coburn, a Sam Brownback … — one of the conservatives left in the Senate — I’d be asking Jeff Sessions to run for Republican Policy Committee. (And quickly, elections are Wednesday. I, for one, hate how soon these happen.) For the sake of good policy – and good conservative policy. This is important now more than ever with the GOP in the minority.

Those already running for leadership slots are in awkward positions, but behind the scenes I’d hope they’d nudge.

My sources tell me there is a real Sessions for RPC buzz. But he’s not likely to announce unless he knows he has a real shot at winning. He should have some shot at winning. If there’s any hope for any conservative policy being pushed through the next Senate, it would greatly help to have him chairing the minority’s Policy Committee.


Freedom ... again


Web Briefing: September 17, 2014

An E-mail from Austin, Texas



You are SO right about KBH.  As a Texan who has long been voting for her, I know that, outside of New England, she is likely the most liberal Senator still in office.  She favors race preferences, she is pro-choice (except for partial-birth) [there are some other exceptions too -- the National Right to Life Committee gives her a 75 percent--KJL], she is pro-amnesty, and she is more of a big spender than W.  She is the left flank of the Texas GOP.  She’s a reliable vote for GOP leadership.  But she’s not only a (relative) liberal, she’s also a policy lightweight.  Can you name a KBH policy initiative?  Neither can anyone else.

Good luck on Sessions and RPC.

UPDATE: Another e-mailer clarifies:

Kay Bailey Hutchison is a squishy moderate-conservative.

If she were a liberal, she would not be elected to state-wide office in Texas.

Let’s please don’t water down these labels, as stretched as they already are.


the best part of the kingston video


is where he announces: “I’m doing this because so many of you haven’t been returning my calls anyway.”

Marsha Blackburn and Adam Putnam must be very nervous about their challenger.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


Dems, Iraq, and the U.N.


It’s a good thing the Democrats believe we should obey the Security Council, because Resolution 1511 (which has been renewed every year since 2003)… 

13. Determines that the provision of security and stability is essential to the successful completion of the political process as outlined in paragraph 7 above and to the ability of the United Nations to contribute effectively to that process and the implementation of resolution 1483 (2003), and authorizes a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq , including for the purpose of ensuring necessary conditions for the implementation of the timetable and programme as well as to contribute to the security of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, the Governing Council of Iraq and other institutions of the Iraqi interim administration, and key humanitarian and economic infrastructure;

14. Urges Member States to contribute assistance under this United Nations mandate, including military forces, to the multinational force referred to in paragraph 13 above;

And Resolution 1483

4. Calls upon the [Coalition], consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and other relevant international law, to promote the welfare of the Iraqi people through the effective administration of the territory, including in particular working towards the restoration of conditions of security and stability and the creation of conditions in which the Iraqi people can freely determine their own political future;

Of course, if the Democrats think that this can no longer be accomplished, then naturally we will have to shirk our responsibilities under international law.  But they should be forced to take head-on the many people in Iraq (Americans and Iraqis) who still think we can win and cannot afford not to.

Nancy Pelosi’s talking point that the Iraq situation is not a war to be won but rather a problem to be solved is a way to whitewash the Democrats’ essential position, which is this: (1) we have lost, (2) we can afford to lose, (3) we should ignore our responsibilities under international law,* and (4) we should betray Iraqis who have asked — and been promised — our help in founding a democracy and fighting terrorism. 

*Only Republicans get criticized for doing this; cf. Kosovo. 

The Importance of the RPC


Unless you are a policy wonk or Republican Senate staffer, it would be quite normal if you’ve never actually heard of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. It’s not the most prominent of the leadership posts – which makes it easy for it to fall below public radar, especially as we watch these leadership elections this week. But the RPC is important. And it’s especially important for conservatives because it plays a key role in, well, policy.

The Heritage Foundation, where I spent my early days, works closely with the Hill on policy. I was just chatting with Tim Chapman, who is director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at THF about the RPC and its important role in the Senate, and why conservatives should care who is at the helm there (Tim wrote about the 110th leadership for NRO here, pre-election). 

Chapman said: “The Senate Republican Policy Committee is the first place Republicans look to determine how they should vote on pending legislation. It is the job of the RPC to dissect policy proposals before they reach the floor and then recommend up or down votes based on the merits of particular bills. Jon Kyl was a conservative policy wonk who hired likeminded staff in order to churn out solid conservative policy recommendations. It is crucial for conservatives that the next RPC Chairman continue in the Kyl tradition of providing timely, reliable and well thought out conservative policy advice.”

RPC needs a conservative: Jeff Sessions for Republican Policy Committee chairman. Run, Sessions run.

Video Killed the Political Star (again)?


Jack Kingston is running for House Conference Chair — which is implicitly a promise/threat of endless congressional YouTubes.

ACCCK. Anyone who’s watched Kingston YouTubes (here and here and…),  feels my pain.

In future YouTube pitches, I’m sure he’ll spell Larry Cudlow, Donald Rumsfield, and Dick Army differently.

Another Sessions: Pete Sessions Throws His Hat in for NRCC


November 13, 2006


Dear Republican Colleague:


Last Tuesday, our party lost races – many by razor-thin margins – all across the country ending our 12-year control of the House.  As a Conference, we lost many outstanding Members and friends, who were swept away in a wave of voter discontent and dissatisfaction with Congress.

 I am running for Chairman of the NRCC to reinvigorate the Committee, redefine its operations, and regain our majority in the next election cycle. 

My campaign experience is as broad as anyone in our Conference: nine tough races in either primaries or general elections. I’ve been the Republican nominee in a targeted race three times. I’ve run as a challenger, in an open seat, as a targeted incumbent, and in a member-member race. I’ve run in a district that was half rural, in a district that is half urban and diverse and in a purely suburban district.


If chosen by the Conference to serve as the next NRCC Chairman, my focus will be to retain what has proven to work, while making the improvements required to compete as a first-class political organization.


I have identified three main areas that can be improved to enable the NRCC to do its part to regain our majority – and going forward, I will rely on feedback from you to identify other ways to make the NRCC more successful and responsive to Member needs.


·       Making the NRCC a Center of Excellence for the Full Range of Tactics: The public’s media consumption habits have changed radically in the last 10 years but few congressional campaigns have followed that change. Most campaigns (and the NRCC’s IE effort) devote message resources almost exclusively to network spot buys, even as the private sector norm now is to devote significant resources to all media – broadcast TV, cable, radio, micro-level targeted mail and internet marketing. Our campaigns must follow these private sector examples and deliver our message to voters in the medium that they want it delivered, not in the medium that we prefer to deliver it to them.  As someone with extensive business and campaign experience, I will lead an overhaul of the 1990s campaign model still dominant in congressional campaigns, borrowing from both more sophisticated statewide campaigns and the best private sector marketers.


·       Overcoming the Strategic Minority Party Fundraising Disadvantage:  With a base in one of the largest Republican donor markets in the country, I have built my leadership PAC (PETE PAC) into one of the top ten leadership PACs in the House.  The strategic advantage of leveraging the individual donor pool helped me to provide:


o      Direct contributions of over $830,000 to colleagues and challengers facing tough campaigns

o      Fundraising and events that produced an additional $1,824,000 directly for targeted campaigns.

o      $710,000 to the NRCC in the 2006 cycle, with half of that total raised from Dallas-Fort Worth sources.


·       Recruiting Talented Candidates to Beat Incumbent Democrats: With average budget levels of over $3 million in highly-contested Congressional races, voters are better able to judge true candidate quality than ever before.  Increased campaign spending and the 24-hour news cycle have conspired to disprove the notion that great fundraising is a viable substitute for bad candidates.  The Democrat margin that we see today began with outstanding candidate recruitment.  We need to revitalize this basic aspect of political organization at the NRCC and expand the playing field to put Democrat incumbents on the defensive in more races in 2008, particularly in districts with newly-elected “wave” Democrats and in “red” districts that support Republicans in other races but have long elected a Democratic Member. 


Finally, as a Member of Congress I know that the largest donor base at the NRCC is the Membership of our Republican Conference.  As Chairman of the NRCC, I will recognize that the NRCC exists for the benefit of Members – not for consultants or staff – and will ensure that Member input be treated with the deference it deserves.  I pledge to you that the NRCC will be responsive and primarily focused on providing Members with the tools they need to be successful.


I appreciate your consideration of my candidacy to chair the NRCC and return the House majority to the Republican Party.  I look forward to working tirelessly with you to ensure that the NRCC operates as the efficient, cutting-edge, and results-oriented organization that it must be to win back the majority next election.  If Republicans want to be a majority party, we need to speak to a majority of the people.  That begins with being the most effective political organization that we can be – and we can accomplish this by working together and staying a step ahead of our competition to reclaim the House.




Pete Sessions

Tom Cole and Phil English are also running for the slot.

That’s Entertainment


Battlestar Galactica?  Sorry.  Star Trek?  Forget about it.  Star Wars?  I don’t think so.  You want riveting airborne battles?  Then try the real thing: the History Channel’s new series, Dogfights. This is compelling television, using the latest technology and the memories of America’s Aces (often living, and interviewed on screen) to reconstruct some of the most hair-raising aerial battles in history.  If you were to suspend ten cameras in balloons across a huge expanse of sky, insert a cockpit camera in the plane of the Red Baron’s himself (and perhaps another camera on Snoopy’s doghouse), you might come up with something this exciting.

Re: The Simpsons


Yesterday’s episode wasn’t just unfunny, it was very poorly animated - a 1970s Hanna-Barbera-level of crudeness.  The sequence in which Lenny’s car was crushed looked like it had been drawn by a 10 year-old trying to draw The Simpsons.  I can only assume they’re devoting all their time and effort to the movie.

As for BSG, I agree with Jonah’s long-trusted reader and had exactly the same argument, err, discussion with my wife during the episode.  Far more fun was Doctor Who in the hour beforehand, which involved Rose berating a pompous psuedo-patriot for not knowing how to fly the Union Flag and also included an interesting nod to the realization that families need fathers at the end…

“America needs people like Senator Sessions in leadership. On behalf of all Americans, for the sake of our country and the Republican Party, Senator Sessions should run to chair the RPC. “

Text runs with my Jeff Sessions campaign.

An Enthusiastic Welcome


Today Jonathan Martin, formerly of The Hotline, joins National Review Online as our political reporter. You’ve read him in the Washington Post, National Journal, The New Republic, and here on NRO.

The slot of “NRO political reporter” is a new one for us and I am very excited about the addition.

Jonathan’s a Virginian who comes to us from Arlington’s famous Yorktown High, which brought the world Katie Couric and Rich Lowry, too. He’s a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, one of two remaining all-male schools left in America.  

Jonathan’s upfront about being clinically addicted to politics – and in a special way to “the ‘three d’s’ of campaigns and elections: data, demographics and districts.” And ’tis the season for such things, so this should be fun. [Martin: “When isn’t it the season for the d's, K-Lo?”]

I’m delighted to welcome Jonathan to the team. Keep clicking on NRO for the latest political coverage — news and analysis — from Martin and the rest of us.

Off To Sunny Syracuse


For my speech at SLU tonight and Hamilton tomorrow. I can’t wait to drive between these schools and the airportover the next two days with the top down on my rented convertible!

Oh, and for those interested, my review of the Conservative Soul is up on the homepage.  

The Disappearing Dutch? Maybe not.


A reader writes:

Some people, I fear, will conclude from the press report you briefly cited that the story simply is that the Dutch are leaving their country and immigrants from Muslim countries are moving in. Below you will find the original press release from in English from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). It shows a much more complicated story.

For starters, half of the emigrants from the Netherlands are not native Dutch. Second, at least three new trends have emerged. Native Dutch are starting to return to the country in larger numbers, immigration to the country is increasing (although still below emigration) and thirdly, the most important sources of immigrants are Germany, Poland and the United States.

Me: fair enough, although clicking on to the press report I cited gave just the detail to which my correspondent referred. As for the “returning” Dutch, the increase in absolute numbers remains undramatic.

We also have to deal with the question as to how many of those non-Dutch emigrants are properly described as “emigrants” in the huddled masses sense or are merely people returning to their home countries after, say, a work assignment. Similarly, are the “immigrants” from Germany, Poland and the US really coming to the Netherlands for the long haul?

Meanwhile, Der Spiegel is reporting that the Germans are clearing out of their country:

They are fed up, truly fed up. Fed up with the constant bickering over the costs of wage benefits, social reforms, elimination of subsidies, store closing hours and all the other symbols of a country stuck in bureaucratic and legislative gridlock…Almost everyone in Germany these days knows people like Seifert or Naumann — people who have decided to make a fresh start in the middle of their lives. Saying goodbye is difficult for almost anyone, but at some point the frustrations and the yearning for a new future become too overwhelming to ignore. Rarely have so many Germans decided to leave it all behind — their houses and properties, parents and aunts, friends and co-workers. According to the German Federal Office of Statistics, 144,815 Germans left the country last year, a jump of almost 25 percent over 2002. At the same time, fewer and fewer Germans are returning from abroad. The most recent figure is 128,052. For the first time in a generation, more Germans are emigrating than returning. And these are only the official figures…The typical emigrant is in his prime, between the ages of 25 and 45, has had a decent education and is already well into his career. “Those who go are often highly motivated and well-educated,” says Stefanie Wahl of the Institute of the Economy and Society in Bonn. But immigrants are a different story altogether. “The people who come here are usually poor, unskilled and have little education.”

Hat-tip: Brussels Journal

Pelosi’s Challenge


Here’s the opener of the piece I linked to below:

WASHINGTON — After toppling the long-dominant Republicans in a hard-fought election, the Democratic Party’s incoming congressional leaders have immediately found themselves in another difficult struggle — with their own supporters.

Some of the very activists who helped propel the Democrats to a majority in the House and Senate last week are claiming credit for the victories and demanding what they consider their due: a set of ambitious — and politically provocative — actions on gun control, abortion, national security and other issues that party leaders fear could alienate moderate voters and leave Democrats vulnerable to GOP attacks as big spenders or soft on terrorism.

The conflict underscores the challenge facing the Democrats in line to lead Congress — Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco in the House and Harry Reid of Nevada in the Senate. Each has pledged in recent days to “govern from the center,” after a campaign in which anger over the Iraq war and GOP scandals helped their party attract some unusually conservative candidates and a large share of independent voters. 

Me: Just curious: Which Democrats ran as liberals on abortion and gun control. I’m sure some did, but I doubt many of those most responsible for taking back the House did anything of the sort — at least outside of Connecticut. 

Murtha V. Hoyer, Base V. Pols, Cats V. Dogs


Prediction: Even before Nancy Pelosi is sworn in as the new speaker, there will be a spate of stories about how the honeymoon is over. Recall the last time we saw a Democratic transition to power: 1992. Bill Clinton came in and almost immediately short-circuited his first 100 Days by feuding over gays in the military and feminist “bean counters” demanding a skirt at DOJ. I think we are poised to see something similar from the Democrats as all the pent up demand tops the levees Pelosi et al are trying to set up. Pelosi is not as sharp as Clinton, hasn’t thought as much about this transition as Clinton did about his, and the House is a lot harder to organize than the White House. It should be fun to watch, but “new politics” it won’t be.

Talk About a Vietnam Syndrome


Will Marshall of the DLC’s Progressive Policy Institute has some sound advice for Democrats who — like  Nancy Pelosi and her majority-leader candidate, John Murtha — are flirting with the notion of a rapid withdrawal from Iraq:

There is a cautionary lesson for today’s Democrats in the early 1970s, when their party generally sided with the public in thinking that the Vietnam War was botched beyond repair and the United States needed to get out,” said [Marshall]. As a result of Democrats’ perceived excesses and close association with anti-war protests, he said, the party got a reputation for being averse to any use of force and too quick to blame America first for international problems.

That reputation put Democrats in the political doghouse for three decades,” Marshall said. “So I think those who are mindful of history will shy away from trying to take over Iraqi policy by, for instance, cutting off funding for the war. The fact is, you really can’t conduct U.S. foreign policy from the House of Representatives. It’s folly to even try.

NRO Editorial Today on House Leadership


In the aftermath of last Tuesday’s elections, a new generation of conservatives has stepped forward in the House, challenging the leadership that presided over the loss of the party’s majority. These conservatives are led by Indiana representative Mike Pence and Arizona representative John Shadegg, running for minority leader and minority whip respectively. They are backed by some of the most principled and talented young conservatives in the House: Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, and Jeb Hensarling. We wish them well in their push to bring fresh blood to the top of their caucus. …

…we think Republican interests would be best served by having at least one member of the top leadership who represents the post-2006 party and whose existence in the leadership depends entirely on the reformist members who are not part of the GOP’s “comfortable caucus.” It is important to understand that the definition of these leadership jobs changed after Nov. 7. They are no longer about management so much, since there is no longer a majority to manage. Instead, they will require finding and effectively advocating issues that discomfit Democrats and make them vulnerable in 2008. That task will require both a clear sense of the issues that divide the parties and a sure political touch.

Last week, Republicans suffered their defeat. Now it’s time for them to begin their renewal.

 Read more here. 


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