Stories by Noah Kristula-Green

Noah Kristula-Green is the Managing Editor and a Contributor to FrumForum. He was formerly a Web Intern at The New Republic. He lives in Washington DC, grew up in Tokyo, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in political science from The University of Chicago. His email is noahkgreen [at] gmail.com & you can follow him on Twitter: @noahkgreen

Log Cabin Republicans Finish Off Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

July 7th, 2011 at 1:37 am 5 Comments

When the US Congress voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell there was still the lingering possibility that the policy could be reinstated or the repeal would get reversed. That possibility was removed on June 6th after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a permanent injunction against the law, in a case brought to the courts by the conservative Log Cabin Republicans. The law had originally been declared unconstitutional in October of 2010 before getting appealed.

“The ruling by the 9th Circuit in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States removes all uncertainty – American servicemembers are no longer under threat of discharge as the repeal implementation process goes forward,” said R. Clarke Cooper in a statement issued by Log Cabin.

Clarke Cooper told FrumForum that “The bottom line is that this is binding everywhere”. National Journal reports that the Pentagon has accepted the ruling and that the process of fully complying will be done in just “weeks”. The AP reports that their sources inside the Pentagon believe the ban will by fully lifted by September. Unless the White House appeals the ruling (which seems incredibly unlikely) DADT is now effectively dead.

Here is the full press release from Log Cabin Republicans:

(Washington, DC) – Log Cabin Republicans celebrate the decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the permanent injunction against enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” originally awarded by Judge Virginia Phillips in the case of Log Cabin Republicans v. United States.

“The ruling by the 9th Circuit in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States removes all uncertainty – American servicemembers are no longer under threat of discharge as the repeal implementation process goes forward,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “As a captain in the United States Army Reserve, I have observed the reactions of my colleagues to the Department of Defense’s move toward open service, and can say with complete confidence that our military is ready, willing and able to take this step. Log Cabin Republicans are proud of our role in ending this unconstitutional and un-American policy once and for all.”

“We are delighted with today’s Ninth Circuit ruling that reinstates the injunction that Judge Phillips entered last September against enforcement of DADT.  This ruling vindicates the right of openly gay and lesbian individuals to enlist or serve in our armed forces,” said Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing Log Cabin Republicans. “We have been saying all along that the government had no legal basis for appealing Judge Phillips’s decision and injunction.  The court’s ruling today finds that the government especially had no basis for putting that injunction on hold so that it could continue to investigate and discharge patriotic service members merely for their sexual orientation.  This is a tremendous victory for the many Americans who want nothing more than to serve their country honorably and patriotically without regard to their sexual orientation, but the real winner here is our Constitution, which guarantees the rights of all Americans, gay and straight, whether serving in our armed forces or not.”

Log Cabin Republicans have maintained a three-front strategy against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ lobbying for repeal in Congress, consulting with the Department of Defense, and filing suit in federal court.  The case went to trial in July of 2010, and Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on September 9, 2010 that the policy violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.

Log Cabin Director: Donors Want an Inclusive GOP

July 1st, 2011 at 7:55 am 15 Comments

FrumForum contacted Log Cabin director R. Clarke Cooper to comment on his recent appointment to the RNC finance committee:

It is worth noting there is a developing political pragmatism among party leaders as well as a number of elected Republicans who recognize the growing numbers of LGBT voters casting ballots and writing checks for Republicans. The better the RNC can reach and include LGBT voters, sales younger voters and centrists, the greater majorities can be achieved in 2012. Former RNC chairman Haley Barbour stated at the Republican Leadership Conference when speaking about the 2012 election cycle, “Purity is the enemy of victory” and he is correct. Further, major donors to the RNC would rather the party be more inclusive or at the least not take a position on social issues. As former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman stated during marriage vote in Albany,“I hope that what Republican leaders will consider is what they believe and where the voters are. They should recognize that allowing people to have equal rights under the law is frankly what our party is about.”

Why The GOP Should Not Accept Ron Paul

June 24th, 2011 at 11:13 am 86 Comments

Conn Carroll asks a fair question from our recent bloggingheads: How can I believe that the conservative tent should stretch to include former US Senator Bob Bennett, but not include Ron Paul?

It’s a question nobody would have asked five years ago. Back then, Bob Bennett was recognized as one of the more conservative members of the Republican caucus. It’s a mark of how much the GOP has changed that Conn would talk about Bob Bennett the way conservatives once talked about, say, Arlen Specter.

Even more startling is the change in the conservative swing toward placating and accepting Ron Paul and his version of libertarianism. My answer to the question of why this kind of libertarianism does not belong in the GOP comes down to the title that BHTV decided to give to our dialogue: quality control.

Not to beat around the bush: Ron Paul’s monetary opinions are crank and he has propagated hysterical theories which attract people who have dangerous theories and outlooks into the party.

Let’s start with Paul’s economics. Paul urges conservatives to repudiate not only Milton Friedman but free-market economists back to Irving Fisher — and to resurrect pre-Civil War approaches to banks and money.

Yet the trouble with Paul goes beyond policy. Ron Paul fans are infamously disruptive, such as when they jeered and heckled Dick Cheney at the most recent CPAC. When they engage in antics like this, how are they different from Code Pink?

Ron Paul’s version of libertarian foreign policy makes room for wild conspiracy-mongering. Paul frequently appears on the Alex Jones radio show. The list of conspiracy theories that Jones pushes is long but the fact that Jones has supported the idea that 9/11 was a crime committed by the US government, not al-Qaeda, should be enough to disqualify anyone who supports his show from being taken seriously.

Paul’s comfort with Jones reminds people with long memories of Paul lending his name to racist newsletters in the early 1990’s. Paul supporters argue that their man had no idea what was being published under his name, month after month. Yet Paul had no qualms about accepting the money generated by the newsletters:

The publishing operation was lucrative. A tax document from June 1993—wrapping up the year in which the Political Report had published the “welfare checks” comment on the L.A. riots—reported an annual income of $940,000 for Ron Paul & Associates, listing four employees in Texas (Paul’s family and Rockwell) and seven more employees around the country. If Paul didn’t know who was writing his newsletters, he knew they were a crucial source of income and a successful tool for building his fundraising base for a political comeback.

So rather than say that Ron Paul is “expanding the debate” and “bringing more people into the party”, let’s acknowledge something important: Paul is not just “bringing new people” into the GOP.

The welcome extended to Ron Paul and his group is actually changing the character of the GOP. When Ronald Reagan had to explain why he received the endorsement of the John Birch Society, he famously said: “They will be buying my philosophy, I’m not buying theirs.”

The case with Paul is reversed. Paul is not signing onto the agenda of mainstream Republicanism. Increasingly, mainstream Republicans are signing onto Ron Paul’s agenda.

And if conservatives can no longer see how extreme and wrong the Paul agenda is, that says something very disturbing about the state of conservatism.

Noah and Conn Debate Cranks in the GOP

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:00 am 18 Comments

On Monday, try I recorded a bloggingheads with the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll. We discussed the current state of the GOP presidential field whether monetary policy cranks like Ron Paul should be welcomed into the party:

I apologize for the atrocious quality of the video from my end! If the prospect of watching to a dialogue where one person talks from a super-blurry camera is unappealing, you can always listen to just the audio podcast.

In a bit of fortunate timing, Newt Gingrich will be giving a speech criticizing the Federal Reserve early on Wednesday morning. Conservative opposition to the Federal Reserve was something that Conn and I spent a lot of time debating.

Conservatives: Don’t Doctor The Ryan Plan

June 15th, 2011 at 1:17 pm 43 Comments

How far will conservatives go to tell Republicans they must support the Ryan budget in its entirety? A new Weekly Standard piece on Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos gives a hint.

The editorial line taken with this piece suggests that every Republican has to support the Ryan budget in its entirety, and that any qualm or qualification is unacceptable..

Haridopolos is currently the president of the Florida state senate and is seeking the GOP nomination to be the 2012 United States Senate candidate. What sets Haridopolos apart from other GOP candidates is that he is not supporting the GOP budget as it is currently written.

In a recent op-ed Haridopolos explained that while the current GOP budget stops providing the current version of Medicare for those who are under 55 years old, he would extend that age range further downwards.

His op-ed does not give a number, but when FrumForum asked him about his position at an event in Washington DC, he suggested the changes in Medicare should apply to those who  are currently 40 or 45. He told the Weekly Standard this as well:

“Medicare is not a welfare program,” Haridopolos said today in an interview with The Weekly Standard. “It is a program that each one of us at this table will have paid 47 years of taxes for, and I’m a little reluctant to make that full jump.”

The 41-year-old said he thinks Medicare ought to be reformed for those closer to his own age, people who “have 25 years to prepare.”

“That’s roughly what we’re looking at,” Haridopolis said. “If we’re going to make that transition, let’s give someone the true time to prepare.”

The Weekly Standard took this information and ran with the headline:
Haridopolos: No Major Medicare Reforms for 25 Years

The piece said that Haridopolos “doubled down today on his opposition to Medicare reforms in the 2012 House Republican budget proposal”. Both Haridopoloscare and Ryancare work on the same principle: a vote is held now and Medicare is reformed for people who would qualify for the program at a later date.

If one wanted to be snarky, you could write a headline: “Ryan: No Major Medicare Reforms Until 2021” since that is the date when those who are currently 55 would start getting “Ryancare” as opposed the current version of Medicare. The fact is, both plans involve delayed change to Medicare.

Ironically, Haridopoloscare might be a better policy to run on as a candidate in Florida since its senior population might be scared by the Ryan budget. Haridopolos will be running in 2012 and Democrats can be expected to make a huge effort to run on the GOP budget — so it helps a GOP candidate to set himself apart from Ryan’s Medicare cuts.

Haridopolos told FrumForum that he supported the rest of the Ryan budget, particularly its tax reforms. In his op-ed, Haridopolos also agreed with the Republican position to repeal Obamacare and highlights how he wants to use a repeal to restore the funding to Medicare which has been cut.

In other words, he is with 80 percent of the rest of the Republican plan, yet this position is taken as “doubling down on his opposition to medicare reform”. It will be interesting to see how the Weekly Standard will report the different Medicare plans that the Republican presidential candidates will eventually produce.

Bachmann Makes
a Strong Debut

June 13th, 2011 at 10:57 pm 38 Comments

So how did the substance of the Republican candidates debate relate to what we were on the lookout for?

No one attacked Romney. Surprisingly, Mitt Romney’s position as putative GOP front runner was not directly attacked or challenged by anyone. CNN’s moderator John King tried to goad Pawlenty into explaining why he characterized the Obama healthcare law as “Obamaneycare” and Pawlenty was not eager to take the bait. There were also no direct attacks on Romney’s abortion record. Perhaps the candidates think its too early to go negative.

Ron Paul Was the Biggest Sideshow. More than any other candidate, Ron Paul’s answers were characterized by meandering rambles. This was facilitated by a New Hampshire political reporter who kept asking him questions which elicited predictable answers. Why would you ask Ron Paul: “Do you support eminent domain?” Of course Ron Paul does not, and his answer about eminent domain turned into a digression on the housing bubble.

A Hint of Pawlenty’s Medicare Plan. We did not get any firm details from Tim Pawlenty, but we did get a small peak at his Medicare proposal. It sounds like it will keep the Ryan-budget model of having different care options for people 55 and younger. It might be different by keeping Medicare as an option for those 55 and under while also introducing some sort of competition with a private insurance scheme. It’s still not clear how this would work in practice.

Unexpected Standout: Michele Bachmann. Bachmann was well prepped for this debate. She used the forum to announce she was formally running for President — a blatant attempt to get more media attention, but it worked.

Most importantly, she gave answers that were clear and — in some instances — even memorable.Perhaps her best line was her description of the President’s handling of Libya: “All we need to know is that the President deferred leadership on Libya to France”. It managed to touch on both Obama’s apparent lack of engagement on the issue while still getting a jab in at France. A very crafty response.

FF’s Livechat of GOP Debate

June 13th, 2011 at 5:42 pm 27 Comments

FrumForum will be hosting a livechat tonight while we watch CNN’s GOP debate in New Hampshire. This debate will feature three candidates who will be debating for the first time in this cycle: Mitt Romney, pharmacy Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich.

Here are some of the key things to watch for:

Will Everyone Gang Up on Romney? Romney maintains a steady lead in polling among GOP candidates, online with Gallup reporting that support for him as “increased significantly” to 24 percent, treat up from 17 percent. Romney’s healthcare law is disliked by the conservative establishment and its similarities to the President’s own healthcare law led Tim Pawlenty to refer to it as “Obamneycare” on Sunday. Pawlenty has said he won’t use that term in the debate so maybe another candidate will step up to the plate.

Will The Sideshows Dominate the Debate? Many of the third-tier GOP candidates lack real seriousness. Here are some of the sideshows we can expect to see: Ron Paul raving about the Gold Standard, Herman Cain elaborating on his recent comments that Obama was raised in Kenya and Newt Gingrich trying to justify his presence on the stage despite losing his entire senior staff.

It will be in the interests of the debate’s moderators to stop the sideshows from dominating the night.

Where Do You Stand on the Ryan Plan? As long as unemployment remains high, any Republican could be competitive against Obama in a general election. One thing that could undermine this is Paul Ryan’s budget which helped the Democrats to pick up a seat in NY-26. The GOP candidates will be pressed on where they stand on Ryan’s budget and on reforming Medicare. It will be important to note which candidates say, “I would sign the Ryan plan into law” and which ones say, “Ryan is a courageous and inspirational figure, and I plan to release my own Medicare plan soon.”


Can Dems Whack Weiner?

June 12th, 2011 at 12:07 am 91 Comments

Rep. Anthony Weiner has announced that he will be seeking “treatment” to become “a better husband and healthier person” and the Democratic leadership has also made it clear that they would like nothing better than to see him go. If Weiner decides to stick around, healing what other options are there for the Democrats to try and push him out the door?

For starters, they could vote to take away his committee seat (Weiner sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.) There is precedent for this. Rep. William Jefferson had his committee seat removed from him when he was caught in a corruption investigation.

The other way that Democrats can put pressure on Weiner is by denying him campaign funds for reelection, something that presumably would be easy to do given that the heads of the DNC and DCCC have called on him to resign.

Remaining options include expulsion and censure. When Rep. Charlie Rangel was censured in 2010, he became the twenty-third congressman to receive that public humiliation.

As for expulsion, while Congress does have the power to expel one of their members, according to a Congressional Research Services document the House has only ever expelled five members from the body. Three of them were expelled during the Civil War for taking up arms against the Union. More recently, Rep. Michael J. Myers was expelled in 1980 due to bribery while Rep. James Traficant was expelled in 2002 on conspiracy to commit bribery.

Democratic leaders presumably don’t want to have to use these options.

FF Exclusive: Did Weiner Lie to President Obama?

June 9th, 2011 at 2:30 pm 71 Comments

Rep. Anthony Weiner may have lied to President Obama directly about his Twitter scandal–denying outright to Obama that he tweeted a lewd photo of himself to a college student, order FrumForum has learned.

A highly placed Democratic source told FrumForum that four days before his June 6 press conference, Weiner had a phone conversation with Obama in which Weiner aggressively denied that he had sent the now notorious photo of himself in his underwear.

According to the source:

“The congressman said fairly aggressively what he had been saying in the media. Not admitting that it was him in the pictures, not denying that it was him, but saying with certainty that he did not send them.”

If true, it would help explain why many leading Democrats are unhappy and refusing to support Weiner: having lied to their top guy, he showed that he was willing to bring down the entire party to protect himself.

FrumForum contacted the White House and DNC for comment, but has so far received no response.

Did Geithner Really Kill The Recovery?

June 9th, 2011 at 10:03 am 46 Comments

Zachary Goldfarb’s reporting in the Washington Post has revealed an important piece of information about why the economy is slowing down. Forget about Republicans in Congress and their gold-bug nonsense, case blame Timothy Geithner for pushing austerity from day one:

The economic team went round and round. Geithner would hold his views close, rx but occasionally he would get frustrated. Once, as Romer pressed for more stimulus spending, Geithner snapped. Stimulus, he told Romer, was “sugar,” and its effect was fleeting. The administration, he urged, needed to focus on long-term economic growth, and the first step was reining in the debt.

Wrong, Romer snapped back. Stimulus is an “antibiotic” for a sick economy, she told Geithner. “It’s not giving a child a lollipop.”

But is Geithner the source of all our current woes? Or would any Treasury Secretary make a similar argument?

It’s one thing if high unemployment can be pinned on Republicans treating Atlas Shrugged as gospel but it is another when the prime driver of the austerity caucus is from the White House itself. It’s unsurprising, then, that most of the criticism of Geithner is emerging from liberal sources.

John Judis at The New Republic writes that Geithner “is also behind the Obama administration’s unseemly obsession with reducing the debt and deficits — even if that should throw a few people out of work, prolong the Great Recession well into this decade, and pitch American politics to the right.” Paul Krugman describes the reporting on Geithner’s role as “deeply depressing” and Atrios simply notes: “We Are Doomed. Geithner is awful.”

But when FrumForum called up noted conservative economist Bruce Bartlett for his take, he suggested that blaming Geithner ignores the fact he is simply doing what any other Treasury Secretary would have done, and that his critics should really be concerned about the institution of the Treasury, not the person:

The Treasury Secretary really has one job, and one job only, which is raising the money to pay the government’s bills, either through taxation or through borrowing.

… There has never been a Treasury Secretary in the history of this country that wouldn’t have his life made a lot easier by having as little as possible to have to borrow or raise in terms of taxation. It’s an institutional attitude.

As for why it’s hard to get a person into Geithner’s job who might be more willing for the U.S. government to take on larger bills in the short term to help with an economic recovery, Bartlett explained the powerful financial interests which would oppose such a policy:

If they ever tried to appoint somebody, say a Robert Reich or another outspoken liberal, the constituency of the Treasury, which is essentially Wall Street, would have a cow it. It would be extraordinarily embarrassing to the President. You can’t even get appointed to the Federal Reserve if you have a Nobel Prize in economics.

The situation is not entirely without options (Bartlett suggested that had the President focused on the weak economy instead of healthcare reform, he could have used the bully pulpit to keep Washington seized of the jobs situation) but short of Obama appointing a liberal or progressive economist during a recess appointment, it seems that whoever would have been Treasury Secretary would have had a strong voice in pushing against stimulative measures.

This ultimately suggests that while a lot of criticism has been directed at conservatives in the Congress, more attention also needs to be given to the institutions within the executive branch and the incentives they face.