Patterico's Pontifications


What we can learn from Specter the defector

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:03 am

[Posted by Karl]

Certainly, Sen. Arlen Spector’s defection to the Democrats made a nice frame for the portrait of Republicans in disarray at the 100-day mark of the Obama Administration.  It was also another opportunity for factions on the Right to argue among themselves.

Ed Morrissey is correct on one level to argue that the Specter case is not a good one for people like David Frum (or Rick Moran, for that matter) to argue that the GOP’s problem is that it it too conservative.  After all, Specter has long been a member of his own Party of One.  But Specter’s basic problem may shed some light on a larger political dynamic, though not exactly the one on which Frum fixates.

Specter’s admitted problem was that he probably had no chance of winning the GOP primary in Pennsylvania.  While Frum, Ramesh Ponnuru and Sen. Lindsey Graham were quick to blame the Club for Growth for this, W. James Antle, III provides a better explanation that is relevant beyond the borders of the Keystone State:

[Specter’s] base had already defected to the Democratic Party before him: “Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats.”

These Republicans were not kicked out of the party by the Club for Growth. They tell pollsters they left because they did not like Bush-era Republican leadership. They claim to disagree with Republican policies pretty much across the board, but it was the last eight years that finally moved them to bolt. There is nothing like a sustained popular perception of a failed presidency to send nonideological supporters of a party streaming toward the exits.

You can plausibly blame the Club for Growth for three Democratic House seats: Maryland’s First Congressional District, Michigan’s Seventh District, and Idaho’s First District, two of which the Club-backed Republicans were able to win in the tough 2006 cycle. The Democrats have picked up over 50 House seats in the last two elections. Iraq, Katrina, and the economic crisis have cost Republicans far more seats than the Club.

Although all of those issues may have more nuance to them than the Left would acknowledge, the public perception among the casual, nonideological bloc of the electorate was that of failure.  Moreover, unemployment rose steadily from 2006-08, while the economy was headed toward recession even before the Wall Street meltdown last September.

The Left views this environment as evidence of an ideological failure, which should surprise no one.  After all, the Left believes in the power of government planning in matters domestic and foreign.  They are far less likely to own up to the myriad ways in which the complexity of the world and human nature tend to intrude on their Utopian dreams.

The Left also puts great stock in how unpopular the GOP is at the moment, putting forth streams of propaganda about the shrinking GOP.  The Specter case demonstrates how the dynamic works.  The Republican base is smaller and more ideologically pure, thus making people like Specter unelectable in a party primary, but putting forth nominees who are less electable in reliably blue states like Pennsylvania.

The reality is more complicated.  Party identification is not a great predictor of electoral outcome.  What occurs is that the nonideological bloc bases their perceptions on performance, character issues, etc.  In 2008, that perception was one of failure and incompetence.  That environment also accounts for a fair amount of the shifts in Party ID.  Those who weakly identified as Republican decide they do not want to carry that baggage socially and become Independents.  Conversely, Independents who lean Democrat feel more confident and switch leftward.  That is why party ID shifts, even though ideological self-identification barely budges over time.

This dynamic can also be seen in the current Gallup Poll of Pres. Obama’s job performance — as opposed to his job approval.  As the Washington Times notes, Obama’s 56% job performance number is the second lowest in the last 40 years, beating only Bill Clinton.  The number for Independents is even lower, at 48%.  That is consistent with a number of polls showing a rapidly rising disapproval for Obama among Independents.  It is a fair bet that many of these Independents are former Republicans, or Republican leaners for whom the reality of the Obama Administration is now sinking in. 

Suddenly, the idea of having Republicans act as a a check and balance to Obama and the Democratic Congress sounds pretty appealing.  That notion would tend to explain why the GOP has gained the generic Congressional ballot; the GOP has done much to earn those gains.  Specter himself made the check and balance argument as recently as last month.  He had to abandon it because the numbers in Pennsylvania seemed to have moved too far against him in a state that has not voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1988, but there are plenty of places that are not that far gone.  Specter’s defection will likely give the electorate a good look at unchecked Democrats, who suddenly will not have Republican obstructionism to blame for their failures.  That will likely be a painful lesson, but only marginally more painful than it was going to be with Specter in the GOP caucus — so perhaps it is a lesson better learned sooner than later.


112 Responses to “What we can learn from Specter the defector”

  1. Karl any thoughts on how the Obama administration using the budget reconciliation process to skirt around the filabuster will work out now that they have 60 votes?

    Mr. Pink (eae12c)

  2. Mr. Pink, I’m not so sure that Specter is a reliable vote for the Obama agenda, he certainly wasn’t reliable for the Repubs and I suspect that this will be the case counting him as #60.

    Karl, an excellent report, but you left out one highly relevant description: Specter est un Ver!

    GM Roper (85dcd7)

  3. The Senate has 60 Democratit votes, for sure. Does Obama? With the possible exception of Roland Burris, is there anyone of those 100 assholes who does not think he/she should be President?

    nk (343b4e)

  4. Roper I was not talking about the number of votes for a particular issue. I was talking about how they can justify skirting the filabuster when their party has enough seats to override it. They would essentially be admitting their own issues are not palatable to their own party. There are other thoughts that are popping into my head about that, such as the effects on the “blue dogs” this will have.

    Mr. Pink (eae12c)

  5. The Republican party will complete its destruction by listening to the amoral hacks like Specter and Snowe and taking their advice. Let’s examine their charge that the party has become too right-wing. How so? Where’s the evidence of this?

    If we examine the elected officials for signs of right-wingedness, what do we find? A prescription drug program for seniors that would have made Johnson blush in its excess? A big government spending profile that exceeded FDR’s wildest dreams? Seriously, every single position on legislation I can find over the past eight years has been one that is FDR Democrat at best, or even further left. This can’t be the right-wingism Specter is referring to.

    So is it in the voter base? What extremist issues do they hold that are new and untenable to Specter and the Republican party institution? Abortion’s old news and the fact that some find it a fundamental issue is nothing surprising. Gay marriage is also nothing radically new in the conservative population’s perspective, especially in the Huckabee types. I don’t see a single social issue that is new and threatens the politicians like Specter with a challenge to re-election.

    So that’s where the divide must be: where Specter feels threatened, those issues he is on the other side of must be the new right-wingism. So help me out there, other than spending like a drunken sailor, loading his special interest friends up with pork, and having no ethics, what has Specter done on an issue to piss off his state? Or… could his absolute lack of fiscal restraint be the right-wing issue?

    Having attended Omaha’s tea party, it was clear that was issue #1 too. A failure of Governance. Government that serves itself and its friends, and ignores the tax burden, social security failure and other fiscal responsibilities of its constituents. Is this the right-wing radical position Specter talks of? Is it right-wing to expect a government to govern responsibly? To not use its power for its own empowerment and enrichment? Seeing Specter switch parties to continue his personal power, at the alienation of voters who voted party ticket for a Republican, this is a curious affirmation of that theory. Specter is all about “me” at the expense of the taxpayers.

    So per Snowe and others blaming right-wing behavior for the failure of the party must be blaming the demand for accountable public servants, and nothing else. Or am I missing something?

    HatlessHessian (cca288)

  6. The Party serves the voter, not the other way around. These idiots who drone on and on about the Party becoming too right-wing need to explain how putting up a candidate Republicans won’t vote for furthers the interests of the Party.

    danebramage (700c93)

  7. It isn’t that the Republicans are too “right-wing”, it’s that George W Bush debased the brand. The party needs to re-establish its small-government, fiscally responsible credentials.

    Being socially conservative is one thing when the party is defending individual’s rights and small government. It is quite another thing when it becomes willing to use the power of the state on the side of socially conservative policies.

    On the sorry state of the GOP, I blame Bush (and DeLay, but that’s another topic).

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  8. Mr. Pink,

    I don’t know how much Specter affects The Dems’ plans re budget reconciliation b/c GM Roper and I agree that he tends to be a party of one. Plus, putting items like healthcare into reconciliation still leaves Dems with the problems created by the Byrd Rule — “extraneous” matter (as determined by the paliamentarian) is still subject to a 60-vote requirement. The underlying issue is how far left Specter will leap to try to buy off a primary challenge from Big Labor. He’s said he’s going to stay opposed to card Check (we’ll see), but there are plenty of other items on which Specter might go left to save himself.

    Karl (f07e38)

  9. Kevin Murphy,

    Republicans won 7 of the last 10 presidential elections — and their first Congressional majority in an even longer period — while having a socially conservative platform. But I don’t credit social cons for those victories per se. Nor do I blame them for losses in 2006-08.

    Most people tend to vote on peace and prosperity. At the margins, there are probably more people whose votes are driven by social issues on the Right than the Left, which makes them a necessary part of the coalition. (There are other reasons, too, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) The “moderate” faction of the GOP (as represented by Frum in my post) tends toward a purge mentality as much as the social cons do in cheering Specter’s exit. The point of my post was that the social issues debate within the GOP is a sideshow at best, counter-productive at worst. Which I recognize won’t stop both sides from engaging in it.

    Karl (f07e38)

  10. Between Dodd’s seat and Spector’s in 2010, this 60 seat majority of the Democrats in the Senate will be short lived.

    SPQR (72771e)

  11. debunker man, are you claiming Toomey will win Pa and Dodd will lose to a Republican?

    that’s is some serious ball-sy prognosticating. Can’t wait until November of 2010 to remember that one.

    timb (a83d56)

  12. Karl, as a Pennsylvanian, I know Specter too well. He has always been Specter first — from the days of the single-bullet theory (yes, that was his argument for the Warren Commission back in the day). Though he didn’t know it, Bob Dylan nailed Specter perfectly — “you don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.”
    Pennsylvania is an odd mix, for those of you unfamiliar with the Keystone State. There are very few true believers on the left or on the right. The union vote is very socially conservative. The suburban vote is very socially liberal… David Frum-ish, as it were.
    Pennsylvania also tends not to turn out incumbents, Rick Santorum being the exception in the 2006 Dem tidal wave — and he might not have lost if the Dem wasn’t named Casey (not The Real Bob Casey, who did serve Pa. well as auditor general and governor and was denied a chance to speak at the 1992 Dem National Convention because of his ardent pro-life views and generation of one of the US’s most restrictive abortion laws, but his son). Since governors were allowed to serve two terms, not one incumbent governor has been denied re-election.
    But that fact comes to another point — Fast Eddie Rendell’s second term expires at the end of 2010. So we will elect a new governor. And, since the two-term rule became law, no party has held the governor’s chair for more than two consecutive terms — Shapp (D) followed by Thornburgh (R) followed by Casey (D) followed by Ridge (R) followed by Rendell (D). The GOP has a strong candidate for governor in Tom Corbett, who won re-election in 2008 for attorney general, in a bad year for the GOP in Pa.
    Specter’s announcement has had a dramatic effect on GOP operatives I know. There’s an energy to beat the SOB that I haven’t seen here in eons.
    If someone disagrees with you on 10-15 percent of the issues in the total package, you don’t disavow him on those alone, but work together on the 85-90 percent of agreement.
    Specter’s social liberalism was tolerable as long as he remained strong on fiscal matters. The porkulus vote turned him into a pariah and he couldn’t overcome that. It wasn’t just the polls showing Pat Toomey ahead… it was the party’s rank-and-file that felt betrayed and they let him know it, in some cases in terms not acceptable in polite society. That convinced him that he would not get the party’s endorsement for 2010 and sent him scurrying like a rat on which the spotlight has beamed into the loving arms of the Democrats.

    either orr (6c9faf)

  13. timb,
    SPQR is not far from reality… especially if the GOP gets smart and hammers away at the frauds both Specter and Dodd are.
    Some other folks better watch their backs, too.

    either orr (6c9faf)

  14. the days of the single-bullet theory (yes, that was his argument for the Warren Commission back in the day).

    Specter may be wrong about other things, but he was right about the single-bullet theory. However, that has nothing to do with politics

    Steverino (69d941)

  15. Frum still stealing our oxygen?

    Who will rid US of this troublesome thief.

    gary gulrud (160a5b)

  16. “Specter may be wrong about other things, but he was right about the single-bullet theory.”

    – Steverino

    Oh. That’s that, then.

    Leviticus (35fbde)

  17. The Republican party is not, in and of itself, important or worth fighting for. It’s only the principles behind the party that give value.

    Same for the democrats. If we’re just trying to make our club more powerful, then we’re wasting our time.

    Some compromise is obviously necessary if we’re going to come together as a political party and win elections and make policies, but we’ve got to have some basic values. Small government, honest government, enforcement of laws, protecting ourselves… things like that. Spector was a big government liberal who didn’t want to enforce our laws. Losing him just doesn’t change much.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  18. Great Post, although I find this, “They are far less likely to own up to the myriad ways in which the complexity of the world and human nature tend to intrude on their Utopian dreams”, to be true for righties or lefties, they just have different utopias in mind.

    Hatless Hessian calls it like it is too. The two former Republicans that I know have ditched the party are now Independants, and it was all about fiscal non-restraint and the sub-prime fiasco. The divide and conquer issues had nothing to do with it (although one of them would never vote for any candidate running on a social con platform, but that was true when he was still a Republican).

    Dems crowing about the demise of the Rep party (hasn’t this particular movie played before?) are somehow unable to see all those independents out there (30% of the electorate now?)through their rose colored glasses. I bet those glasses get knocked askew at the mid-term elections.

    With luck the Republicans will still be out of it for at least a full 3 more years which will give them time to bring in some fresh faces and find out what they are going to be about and how that is going to serve all of us Americans who don’t have lobbyists on our payroll and who aren’t “too big to fail”.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  19. Karl, just a point…
    The GOP has taken 6 out of the last 10 Presidential Elections, not 7 of 10!

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  20. What we can learn from Specter the defector

    That it’s better to fire these RINOS than let them quit and create the perception that it is they who are the principled ones.

    j curtis (7d9c0e)

  21. A quibble, but one of some import I think: Pennsylvania is not a “reliably blue state.”

    Specter, of course, was elected and then repeatedly re-elected as a Republican. And as recently as 1994 and 2000, Pennsylvanians elected and re-elected Rick Santorum, a principled conservative. Although it has voted for Dems for POTUS in every election since 1988, it has been perceived to be, in every such presidential election, a battleground state that Dems have not been able to take for granted. (Compare, e.g., New York and California, which are indeed “reliably blue state[s].”

    Not everywhere that voted Obama mirrors San Francisco. And however optimistic one is or isn’t regarding the GOP’s chances in the 2012 POTUS election, there are excellent grounds for optimism about many state and congressional races in 2010 and 2012. Indeed, my long-term optimism is exactly congruent with my certainty that the Obama Administration’s policies will prove, over that long term (and increasingly over the middle-term) to be absolutely disastrous.

    Beldar (567e74)

  22. Dems crowing about the demise of the Rep party (hasn’t this particular movie played before?) are somehow unable to see all those independents out there (30% of the electorate now?)through their rose colored glasses. I bet those glasses get knocked askew at the mid-term elections.

    This movie was played back in 1912. And there was much more reason to believe the movie in 1912 than there is now.

    Michael Ejercito (7c44bf)

  23. A few points:

    1. Specter may have been right about the single-bullet theory, but (if so) only by accident. His “magic bullet” theory was a joke; the single-bullet theory works when you have the correct position of the seating (esp. the jumpseat). That Specter had those factors wrong does not recommend him.

    2. The GOP has taken 6 out of the last 10 Presidential Elections, if you read last to include 2008. But I was making a historical point as to whether social issues were significant in 2008 by noting that the GOP had won 7 of the last 10 elections prior to 2008. Nuance.

    3. Beldar writes:

    Although it has voted for Dems for POTUS in every election since 1988, it has been perceived to be, in every such presidential election, a battleground state that Dems have not been able to take for granted.

    Although we are talking about politics, perception is not always reality. PA has reliably been sever percent more Dem than the over all pargin of victory for 20 years. It has not been a battleground. It has been a sucker’s bet.

    4. However, for those wanting to explore the subtle quirks of how this has played out in PA to force Specter out, I highly recommend today’s piece by Jay Cost.

    Karl (57ffa9)

  24. Michael at 23 — what about 1994? See anything similar to the movie played that year?

    How popular was Bill Clinton on May 1, 1992? Not much different than Obama now. He was promising a middle class tax cut, but suddenly things were so much worse than he had imagined, tax increases were necessary for all.

    Quietly tucked into the budget package yesterday was a little note suggesting that the Obama “tax cuts” for this year won’t be around next year. They weren’t really “cuts” — they were checks for people who didn’t pay income taxes. The Admin. quietly signaled that the recipients of those checks shouldn’t expect them next year.

    What should all the tax “payers” expect?

    Same as Clinton — betrayal with small on the face and a squeeze of the arm just about the elbow. “I feel your pain” — now gimme your wallet.”

    All the GOP needs is a standard bearer for it’s message in 2010. That person is in Congress, and he’ll reveal himself this fall.

    There are 40 house members in their first or second terms that are in districts GWB carried twice. Let’s see how many party=line votes they get behind now that they don’t have the Senate GOP as a firewall.

    WLS Shipwrecked (53653f)

  25. EdWood,

    I would argue that actual conservatives do — or should not — not believe in a Utopia on earth. They might envision that society would operate best under their policies, but I don’t think they could argue that it would be Utopian.

    Karl (57ffa9)

  26. the GOP has done much to earn those gains

    Remember all the kerfuffle over the supposed Republican disarray in their opposition to the so-called “cap and trade” global warming tax? Funny how things get misreported.

    First, it’s the Dems who are — after a week of flashy hearings — wrapped around their own axles. Many of the Dems, ranging from Old Bull John Dingell of Michigan to Rick Boucher of Virginia, are raising major objections to the bill, which would impose enormous costs on every American. Michigan’s failing auto industry and Virginia’s coal production would be hugely burdened by the global warming tax. These objections are holding up the bill, and may delay it until the fall or even next year.

    Republicans — despite the confusion generated by a Politico story last week — aren’t going to offer a substitute. They don’t want to be caught in another “Dem-lite” position.

    Me I am liking the Rs more and more and with droopy diseased Arlen gone I would even let the Rs sit with me at lunch. Maybe. Almost all of them anyway but for sure not the ones from Maine and not Meghan or her daddy cause of they are obnoxious. And Mr. Bunning would have to sit way at the end of the table from me. But I can see it happening now.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  27. oh. here is a link

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  28. Comment by Karl — 4/29/2009 @ 3:07 pm

    I don’t want to hijack the thread, but the 6.5mm, whether in its Greek, Italian, or Swedish variations, was my father’s favorite cartridge. It could be a magic bullet in the hands of a Marine-trained shooter. 😉

    nk (343b4e)

  29. The nice thing about having an ex-Swedish 6.5 is that Sweden never used corrosive ammo in this caliber, so the bores on these rifles have stayed in very good condition.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  30. A friend of mine uses a Swedish Mauser, sporterized some time in the sixties, to hunt coyotes commercially, for their fur, in the winter, on his farm. (Coyotes are not protected in Illinois.)

    nk (343b4e)

  31. Well, he seems to have the correct tool for the job at hand – not so big to destroy the pelt, light and flat shooting for ease of handling by the hunter, quite devastating for the coyote (they really should be nicer to those road-runners).

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  32. Karl (#24 4/29/2009 @ 3:07 pm): With due respect, you ignored most of my comment. From 1995 to 2007 — 12 of the last 14 years — Pennsylvania had not one but two U.S. senators who were members of the GOP. I don’t know how that can support characterizing it as a “reliably blue state” overall, and it’s flatly inconsistent with the notion that in at the U.S. senatorial level — which is what your post is about — Pennsylvania has been “reliably blue.”

    The PA governor’s mansion has been split fairly evenly between red and blue for many decades. Since 1978, the GOP has won four times, as have the Dems. And the state’s lieutenant governor, Joseph B. Scarnati, is a Republican who, as president pro tem of the PA state senate, took that office upon the death of Catherine Baker Knoll on November 12, 2008. That reflects the 30-20 majority that Republicans hold in the state senate. (Dems have a 104-99 majority in the state house.)

    You deny that PA has been a “battleground state” in presidential politics by using perfect hindsight and looking only at percentages. But even there your percentages are wrong. In 2000, Bush had 46.4% compared to Gore’s 50.6%, a different of just over 4%. In 2004 it was even closer, with Bush at 48.5% and Kerry at 51.0%, for only a 2.5% difference. And in 2000, 2004, and 2008, regardless of the final outcome, both parties treated Pennsylvania as a presidential battleground state — meaning that they each poured millions of dollars of resources into it — and they did so based on their own polling and public polls which indicated that the margin of victory was within the margin of error. As it turned out, PA was one of the states where Obama outperformed expectations by a significant margin in 2008, but as The One would be the first to insist, he wasn’t a prototypical Democratic candidate, even though he’s governing like a prototypical hard-Left Dem. (He’s going to have a harder time fooling anyone with that “centrist” stuff in 2012.)

    I repeat, Pennsylvania ain’t California or New York. It’s simply not a “reliably blue state” even in presidential politics, and in state-wide politics, it’s purplish at best, but not reliably so.

    Beldar (567e74)

  33. Beldar – Thank you for calling Specter an assclown, which has made it an acceptable term on Patterico’s blog 😉

    JD (870a39)

  34. I prefer .30 calibers, around military loading, 165 grains at about 2600-2800fps.

    nk (343b4e)

  35. Wildcatters with time and money can play around with loadings and barrel twists, but for people who just want to shoot we can do just fine with what’s been already spent a lot of time and money on since 1880.

    nk (343b4e)

  36. I’ll amend that to 1864, if you wish. The .44 Henry, in its modern equivalent, the .44 Special, is a fine cartridge.

    nk (343b4e)

  37. Ah, that brings up the age-old question of, in a SHTF situation, that you can only have one weapon to deal with all contingencies, what would you chose to go into the field with?

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  38. M700APR w/ .375 ultra-mags


    JD (870a39)

  39. Probably too much gun for most situations.
    Someone I accord a great deal of respect to, feels that for all-around utility, the M-1 Carbine is hard to beat:
    Light, accurate, very effective at short range.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  40. A three-inch-bladed knife. Ain’t no weapon been made more powerful than a man’s brain. You don’t shoot yourself out of situations, you think yourself out of situations. But there might be some things you need to cut, that your teeth and nails won’t do the job.

    nk (343b4e)

  41. AD – Probably too much gun? King of the understatement today, huh?

    JD (870a39)

  42. The .30 Carbine round makes me want to cry. Way out loud! Wahhhh! What a waste of beautiful firearm for lack of a decent round. The SKS was over-enginered for the 7.62×39, in my opinion, but that’s the round the M1 Carbine should have been shooting in the first place.

    nk (343b4e)

  43. I think I would pick a hot .32, like a .32-20 or a .30 Tokarev/Mauser, for an all around cartridge, for both pistol and rifle. What things that you would want to kill could you not kill with them?

    nk (343b4e)

  44. Buffalo, elephant, grizzly bear, animals the size of Michael Moore and Rosie O’Lard

    JD (870a39)

  45. Actually, in a .32, there is a new round from Federal (.327 Fed Mag) that Ruger is using in the GP-100 IMSM that is very good, though it doesn’t put up the numbers of the Carbine:
    1300 fps v. 1600 fps for the M-1. The .327 is more of a modern version of the old 32-20.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  46. Buffalo, elephant, grizzly bear

    I think you could kill a buffalo with a .32-20. The Indians did it with sinew-tipped arrows. As for hefalumps and grizzles, we don’t have enough of them anymore. Just stay away from them.

    nk (343b4e)

  47. Yes, but we’ve got plenty of Moore’s and O’Lardo’s, which shouldn’t take anything more than a .22!

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  48. AD #46,

    Is that the H&R .32 Magnum? I never looked at it because I thought it was just a remake of the 32-20.

    nk (343b4e)

  49. The best gun is the one you’ve practiced with the most. A long gun is generally better than anything else, but the real key is practice, comfort, and reliability.

    A bolt action rifle, or some fancy AR, or even a good pistol. Just practice. The vast majority of the cost of a gun is practice.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  50. Me I’m okay with threads about Arlen what degenerate into discussions of firearm effectiveness.

    happyfeet (7b8b6f)

  51. Beldar at 33: Bang on!

    As for the single-bullet theory, I would stand by Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses” about organized crime strongman Frank Sheeran and Chuck Giancana’s “Double Cross”. Both clearly deny the involvement of L.H. Oswald as anything more than a patsy and point the finger clearly at the Mob. Another Mob book, written by self-serving Bill Bonanno, fingers Chicago Outfit veteran Johnny Roselli as the “grassy knoll” gunman. Because it’s Bonanno, I tend to discount it somewhat. But Brandt/Sheeran and Giancana (the kid brother of the notorious Chicago Outfit boss Sam Giancana) have more of the ring of truth.

    either orr (6c9faf)

  52. Ah, that brings up the age-old question of, in a SHTF situation, that you can only have one weapon to deal with all contingencies, what would you chose to go into the field with?

    Since the discussion ventured into Swedish makes, do they still make the Bofors model? That thing sounds like it could kill anything, and at a distance of over a mile, at least.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  53. Best load up now … Barcky will surely set his sights on you bitter clingers.

    JD (870a39)

  54. Oh, great, a discussion of Spector turns into the grassy knoll club.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  55. nk…No, the .327 FM is a bit longer in the brass than the .32H&R. It is a new round that came out last year, but you can fire .32H&R in a chamber for .327 – they all use the same bullet, including 32-20.

    either orr…as I seem to remember the LHO conspiracy stuff, it goes back to the LA mob doing this as a field job for the Chi guys, with hints of payback from Castro for what JFK tried to do to him.
    As with the “single bullet”, I doubt if the truth will ever be known.
    I’m comfortable just blaming LHO, commending his USMC marksmanship training, and letting it go at that.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  56. Comment by Dmac — 4/29/2009 @ 7:33 pm

    Do you want that in a quad-mount?

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  57. When Norman Mailer finally conceded that all of the conspiracy theories had so many flaws in each of them that they had no credibility, I thought that to be significant, since he was at the forefront of the conspiracy theorists back at the beginning. His main point (which was articulated in his massive book that detailed and examined each theory that was advanced), was that for each theory outlined there were too many individuals involved in the various plots that would’ve all had to keep completely silent over the past 50 years. I always wondered about that inconvenient reality, so it works for me.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  58. Since the discussion ventured into Swedish makes, do they still make the Bofors model? That thing sounds like it could kill anything, and at a distance of over a mile, at least.

    Comment by Dmac — 4/29/2009 @ 7:33 pm

    I have a flower vase, in my front window, made from a 40mm Bofors AA gun shell casing. Beutifully hand-engraved.

    nk (343b4e)

  59. Comment by nk — 4/29/2009 @ 7:42 pm
    No Comment!

    AD - RtR/OS! (2736a1)

  60. BTW, how many people here have actually visited downtown Dallas and toured the Book Depository Building? I’ve gone twice during my business trips, and when you get to the area in front of the building, the first thing that strikes you is how close it is to the road directly in front. I haven’t fired a rifle since Boy Scouts, but I don’t think I’d miss anything from that close up, particularly with a high – powered rifle in my hands. Given that a trained marksman was doing the shooting – no way could he miss.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  61. either orr, read Bugliosi’s book. All of it.

    carlitos (23eb68)

  62. made from a 40mm Bofors AA gun shell casing.

    The only reason I know anything about that gun is that I read a history about the Russian – Finnish war during WWII, and always wanted to know how their miniscule army and lack of any air or tank support was able to hold off the Red Army for such a long time. It was primarily because of the Bofors guns, and having the skilled marksmen available to use them correctly.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  63. You only need to kill three people, Dmac. The capo, the undercapo and the shooter. We know that the capo, Sam Giancano, was killed. We will never know who the handler (undercapo) and the shooter were. Cutouts.

    nk (343b4e)

  64. Ed Morrissey is correct on one level to argue that the Specter case is not a good one for people like David Frum (or Rick Moran, for that matter) to argue that the GOP’s problem is that it it too conservative.

    Of course, Morrissey is on the wrong side of the the argument. The GOP is too conservative. Voters are bailing in droves, identifying themselves as Republicans are down to 21%.

    The reality is more complicated. Party identification is not a great predictor of electoral outcome.

    Keep believing that then try hitting up indies and moderates for donations.

    What a gift. Down to 15% by November, 2009. Headline of the future:


    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  65. Beldar (#33)

    With all due respect, the body of the post was talking about what might be learned beyond PA. Thus, the outcome of races there outside the Presidential elections were of far less interest, which is why I didn’t respond on those points. Had I done so, I could have used your same logic to point out all the races the GOP has won in CA and NY over the years — but not at the Presidential level recently. (CA even has a GOP Governator, allegedly.)

    If you read through the Jay Cost link at #24, you’ll find how reliably Democratic PA has been at the Presidential level, despite a rather large shift within the state. There’s a fairly reliable 3% lag any national GOP campiagn has to contend with in every cycle. McCain spent money there only when he started getting desperate, b/c they knew it was a longer shot in reality, as compared to the polling.

    And you can claim my view is hindsight, but I would have told you PA was a sucker’s bet before the election. Michigan and Wisconsin, too. Republicans may be able to win statewide in PA going forward, but it’s never easy — and the loss of 60K GOPers in eastern PA was too much for Arlen.

    Karl (3bf5f8)

  66. Obama’s pique at the tea parties notwithstanding, the protests aren’t ending. They have only just begun.
    Many of the most effective organizations and community leaders that emerged from the tea party movement have already gathered behind a March on Washington on September 12, 2009. Other efforts will add more structure to the tea party communities, and perhaps target some grassroots pressure towards particular politicians during specific legislative battles over socialized health care, higher spending, and other big government schemes.

    The pseudo community-organizer is going to see massive protests from the real community organizers. The Precious won’t be pleased to see his ideas so decisively rejected.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  67. #56- The science, the physics of it, has that solved beyond a reasonable doubt.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  68. Not necessarily, because we do not know beyond a reasonable doubt what information was found, what inforamtion was given, and what information was kept.

    I tend to think that it’s reasonable that a Marine-trained shooter did what he did with a very good cartridge fired from a very good rifle for the money.

    nk (343b4e)

  69. Brother Bradley,

    I hadn’t heard about the 9/12/09 tea party plans but that is welcome news.

    Anon (b0f193)

  70. GOP Whigs Out!


    1+1=2, not 11!

    Well, that’s settled. Don’t cross swords on this. Feel free to link your local San Diego TV news story featuring those infrared heat sensors. :)

    carlitos (23eb68)

  71. Carlitos – you might as well ask for .jpg of its pet unicorn.

    JD (870a39)

  72. Comment by nk — 4/29/2009 @ 7:42 pm
    No Comment!

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 4/29/2009 @ 7:45 pm

    AD, I really need to know what you meant here.

    If you still need to see this.

    nk (343b4e)

  73. JD – are you implying that our DCSCA is a virgin ? (Given the well-known behaviours of unicorns) …

    Or just a virgin to veracity ?

    Alasdair (6b086e)

  74. Alasdair, whereabouts in Scotland do you find yourself? I used to live in Glasgow, where my Spanish didn’t come in handy.

    carlitos (23eb68)

  75. I mean this seriously:

    Did this comment thread get a little weird or am I missing something?

    It was about Specter, right?

    Ag80 (b19e67)

  76. Alasdair – Take from my comments what you will 😉

    Ag80 – It got weird, yes.

    Good night, all. I have an early flight to Dallas tomorrow. Be nice to the mentally challenged.

    JD (6ef9a2)

  77. Ag80,

    It was about Specter. How could it not get weird?

    Karl (3bf5f8)

  78. JD:

    It’s probably too late, but thanks, and welcome to Dallas.

    Ag80 (b19e67)

  79. Ag – I did not know you were in Dallas. I am taking clients out to eat, otherwise I would have offered to buy you a beer, or a meal. Maybe next time.

    JD (6ef9a2)

  80. Karl:

    I guess you’re right, but, man, maybe I caught that PigBirdMan flu or something. This whole discussion went off the tracks somewhere.

    Ag80 (b19e67)

  81. JD:

    Let me know when you have time. I’m always up for a beer or two.

    Ag80 (b19e67)

  82. Ag – Next time I am in town, for sure. I am down there fairly regularly, especially during the summer. I am spending the day in Dallas, and then driving to Austin for a day. Hopefully I do not bring the rain with me. Or the ManBirdPig Fluo.

    JD (6ef9a2)

  83. Carlitos:

    Ah, Pegasus News. It may be one of the best, and funniest, local news (and PR) services around. Thanks for the link.

    Ag80 (b19e67)

  84. JD:

    Sounds great. Let me know. I know some good brew parlors around here, and in Austin. Be careful on I-35.

    Ag80 (b19e67)

  85. #26 Karl,
    I always think of a truly free market capitalist, tax free (minimized…military you know) world, guided by all the “correct” interpretations of constitutional law as a sort of conservative utopia.

    I suppose that many people would see that more as a goal though.

    EdWood (29f22c)

  86. I-35? Just the routine kind of careful, or is there something I should be aware of?

    JD (6ef9a2)

  87. I do not recall ever advocating no taxes. Hell, approx 48% of the country already does not pay net income taxes …

    JD (6ef9a2)

  88. JD
    I hedged with minimized taxes. I think a lot of people would go with taxes for people actually using a service also like in Costa Rica where car and truck owners pay the taxes to keep up the roads. Municipalities also have to come up with the money to keep their own roads paved.

    EdWood (46e7d8)

  89. Many of the most effective organizations and community leaders that emerged from the tea party movement have already gathered behind a March on Washington on September 12, 2009. Teabaggers ‘steeping’ into hot water trying to capitalize off of 9/11 sentiments no doubt. Quaint. Should bring Americans to a boil for sure.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  90. I think ASPCA must have had a positive experience with being teabagged, as he wishes to duscuss it so often.

    JD (07b76c)

  91. I hope it does end with Specter. I have a feeling there will be more defections.

    The Emperor7 (1b037c)

  92. #93

    Yes, it always amazes me that the people who use crude, deviant sexual practices to demean those they disagree with, are insulting their constituency who actually practices those crude, deviant sexual practices.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  93. All the frantic activity on the left to mock, marginalize and slur the tea party protesters only proves how much they’re worried. But it only draws attention to the cause.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  94. I – 35 is fairly hairy driving, JD – think of the Dan Ryan at 3 AM, but with about half of the usual drivers you’d experience during the daytime. More like a stock car race without those pesky things like safety flags and walls.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  95. 97, Hmm, I’ve driven I-35 from Minneapolis to Oklahoma City. Never had much of a problem. Now try I-10, I-5 or I-405 in Los Angeles for hairy with drivers who get their licenses out of boxes of Cracker Jack. Oh, yes, they have Rodney King, too.

    PCD (02f8c1)

  96. The GOP is too conservative.

    How are they too conservative?

    Of course, you do not mention the extremism on the Democratic side.

    Michael Ejercito (7c44bf)

  97. Bradley, the fact that Obama went to some lengths in defending his stimulus plan last night (i.e. “we are not interested in running an automotive company”) tells you he’s plently worried about this movement, whether or not he acknowledged them directly.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  98. I-405 in Los Angeles for hairy with drivers who get their licenses out of boxes of Cracker Jack

    It’s funny how perceptions and experiences make all the difference – I’ve never had a problem in LA regarding dangerous drivers, primarily because I’ve never been able to get my car above 35 mph. Slow boat to China, every time, no matter the hour and day.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  99. Michael at 23 — what about 1994? See anything similar to the movie played that year?

    I cited 1912 due to the extreme lopsided victory the Democrats had that year.

    Michael Ejercito (7c44bf)

  100. Ad, NK, JD,

    .475Linebaugh! End of discussion.

    PCD (02f8c1)

  101. Dmac,
    Rush Limbaugh pointed out yesterday how Obama’s unlikeable side comes out when discussing the tea party types. He gets snarky and dismissive. He just can’t take criticism.

    This less-than-lovely side of Obama is bound to get noticed soon, as the inevitable re-evaluations begin. Obamanomics will not fix the economy, and he will get the blame. TOTUS won’t be able to bail him out of this one.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  102. Did this comment thread get a little weird or am I missing something?

    Geekiness is irrepressible, whether law-geekiness, gun-geekiness, gamer-geekiness, music-geekiness ….

    nk (343b4e)

  103. Will due respect to the commenters here, I wonder what real xenophobic skinheads get geeky about. Probably tattoos and nazi memorabilia, I guess.

    carlitos (23eb68)

  104. […] on earth is JPod talking about“ and “Patterico’s Pontifications” in “What we can learn from Specter the Defector.“  Both are reasonable, and will appeal to RINOs and hard right wingers such as myself. So […]

    RINOS–Compromise means us never having to « Smash Mouth Politics (186bd9)

  105. #100, Dmac wrote: “Bradley, the fact that Obama went to some lengths in defending his stimulus plan last night (i.e. ‘we are not interested in running an automotive company’) tells you he’s plently worried about this movement…”

    He’d better be worried, because it’s going to get much, much worse for him and for the left in general.

    There’s revolution in the air. I can smell it.

    danebramage (700c93)

  106. The guys at Powerline really nailed this.

    According to the New York Times, we Republicans are having a debate “over how to rebuild the party in the wake of Senator Arlen Specter’s departure.” Just like how the Democrats had to rebuild their party after Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched parties. You remember that, don’t you?

    PAUL remembers: If memory serves, the Dems internalized the lesson implicit in Campbell’s switch, promptly moderated all of their liberal positions, and were swept back into power as the party of moderation.

    carlitos (23eb68)

  107. carlitos #109


    EdWood (c2268a)

  108. I think that 200,000 voter number is unreliable. An unknown number of Republicans switched registrations to vote for Hillary as part of Limbaugh’s operation chaos. I think they will vote Republican no matter which party they are registered under.

    walt (603ca3)

  109. 109

    I don’t buy the idea that the Democrats moderated their positions all that much after Campbell, but to the extent they did, they cost the Democrats the White House in 2000 as Nader was able to play spoiler. Expect conservatives to abandon the Republican Party if Republicans refuse to move sharply to the right soon. McCain was the last straw.

    j curtis (e38801)

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