Today's Blogs

Boehner’s Gainer

Bloggers are quick to explain John Boehner’s surprise ascension to the House majority leadership over front-runner Roy Blunt. They also reflect on British National Party head Nick Griffin’s temporary reprieve from “race hate” charges, and on the expulsion from Venezuela of a U.S. naval attache accused of “spying.”

Boehner’s gainer: Now that everyone outside Ohio knows the name John Boehner—as well as the correct way to pronounce it—bloggers are speculating on how, exactly, he managed to beat Roy Blunt for the coveted House majority leader post recently given up by a scandal-ridden Tom DeLay. They’re also wondering what this really means for Republican lobby reform.

Liberal Josh Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, who has a long memory of an ethics scandal involving Boehner, surveys both rounds of voting, which culminated in the Blunt-trouncing upset: “On the surface the pre-vote tallies looked like Blunt winning with a wide margin. Actually, it was Blunt versus anti-Blunt. And he could never get into the lead.”

Fellow GOP detractor Stygius isn’t ready to judge Bohener’s victory as a tocsin for intraparty reform: “While such an impression may be created by changing the facade, the core problems remain. And claims of concern are somewhat overblown considering rank-and-file Republican’s resistance to lobbying reform itself.”

Michael Cat at the right-leaning Of the Mind does, however, see a starker contrast between Boehner and his chief rival for the majority leader post: “Blunt was the Washington Insider beholden to K street lobbyist of the Tom Delay Mold. Boehner does have ties to K Street but has also called for reform … when he exposed members involved in the House Bank check writing scandal.”

Rich Lowry at the conservative National Review’sThe Corner transmits the morning-after skinny on the Hill: “Shadegg’s entry froze the race in place. Otherwise Blunt would have continued his march and locked it up long ago. … Three weeks of terrible press obviously hurt Blunt. … Shadegg supporters clearly went to Boehner on the second ballot. Boehner had shrewdly hugged the Arizonian throughout the race, making himself acceptable to Shadegg’s supporters and further associating himself with reform.

A triple-C threat, conservative Christian Californian Paul Hogue at My Dogs are Smarter laments the GOP’s failure to award the post to the “far more likable [and] more straight-forward” Arizona Representative John Shadegg: “On the surface at least, it appears the GOP missed a golden opportunity to put the ghost of DeLay behind them in no uncertain terms. Instead they chose to compromise.”

Read more about John Boehner.

Velvet fascism: Nick Griffin, chief of the ultra right-wing British National Party, was temporarily cleared by a Leeds crown court of half the charges of “race hatred” leveled against him. He now awaits retrial for denigrating Arabs and Muslims, a crime under U.K. speech laws. Bloggers find it perfectly foul that neo-blackshirts can claim the decision as a “win,” yet they remain conflicted about the jurisprudence of regulating public discourse.

At the U.K.-based democratic socialist blog Harry’s Place, David T, who is in principle against speech laws, nonetheless thinks that Griffin and company demonstrate the cowardice of their own convictions by rationalizing their nasty rhetoric: “When the BNP talks about Islam, it is pretty clear that they are talking about south asians and arabs. Religion is used as a proxy for race. They put on suits, cover up their tattoos, hide their SS memorabilia: but the moment their mouths open they give themselves away.”

Yorkshireman blogger at The Real Hull is more concerned with the intrinsic folly of making “race hate” a legal statute: “In a free country you can to say what you like without being a persecuted for it. Since this is no longer possible in this country like many people I’m forced to question if we live in a free country any more.”

Yet Jess, a graduate student in political philosophy, at Revolutionary Rants asks, “It just brings us back to the question we are discussing week in and week out in one of my courses - what should we tolerate? How much freedom of speech should we have for people with hateful opinions like that?”

Read more about Nick Griffin.

Le Carréd away. Venezuela’s hard-left president Hugo Chávez, the hemispheric bête noire of the Bush administration, today expelled a U.S. naval attache he accused of being a “spy.” The U.S. Embassy has denied the charges. A day after Donald Rumsfeld compared Chávez’s consolidation of power to that of Adolf Hitler, bloggers are predictably frenzied about espionage paranoia in Caracas.

New York economist Thomas Joscelyn writes, “Anyone else see the similarities between Chavez’s very public expulsion of an alleged American spy and Putin’s very public allegations of espionage against several British diplomats? It is a common tactic of dictators the world over to highlight the threats posed by their nations’ enemies as a means of building broader internal support.”

Noting that, as a measure of diplomatic quid pro quo, the United States has decided to promptly eject the Venezuelan ambassador’s chief-of-staff from Washington, Timothy Bloomquist at mankindminusone cracked, “Can’t we just solve this whole thing with a good old playground fight?”

Read more about Chavez’s expulsion of the naval attache.