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Introducing Pat Toomey, 2010 Senate Candidate for Pennsylvania

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Today I got a chance to sit in on a brief interview session with former Pennsylvania Congressman and current Senatorial candidate Pat Toomey, who is running with token opposition in the GOP primary and expecting to face party-switching Senator Arlen Specter in the fall of 2010.

Toomey gained national notoriety in 2004 when he launched a controversial campaign against Specter in the Republican primary, drawing the ire of party insiders who didn't want to mess with a sure thing. Of course, Toomey has now been vindicated by Specter's failure to stand by the party and eventual defection to the Democrats earlier this year. Now Toomey has the enthusiastic backing of the party, as demonstrated by this conference call for bloggers sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Toomey has also demonstrated an impressive ability to raise money as demonstrated in his 2004 campaign. Since 2005 he has been President of the Club for Growth, which has a powerful fundraising network. With that and now the support of the RNC and NRSC, Toomey is likely to be able to match Specter in fundraising and outspend any other Democrat. Right now, Specter leads with a war chest of almost $11 million and Sestak lags far behind with only $1.6 million, but Toomey only entered the race at the beginning of the summer and should catch up and likely be able to match Specter’s spending once the race really gets going.

On the issues, Toomey has a record as being a strong fiscal conservative and while he is also conservative on social issues he doesn't have a reputation as a die-hard religious extremist. Some Libertarian Republicans are supporting Peg Luksik against him in the primary, but her positions don't seem significantly more libertarian than his, except perhaps in her isolationist position on foreign policy. Her positions on economic issues seem ill-informed and naive, while Toomey's record in that area is outstanding. While in the House, Toomey was rated 68% on social issues and 89% on fiscal issues by the Republican Liberty Caucus, actually ranking 9 points higher than Ron Paul on economic issues.

In a recent poll, Toomey was described as "clobbering" Specter with a 48% to 36% advantage and numbers widening as the nationwide popularity of Democrats declines in the wake of the health care debacle. Specter may have miscalculated with his party switch, as he was leading Toomey in early polling, had they faced each other in a Republican primary, as they did in 2004. The Rasmussen poll also shows Toomey beating Specter's Democrat primary challenger Joe Sestak by a wide magin.

On the call, Toomey was well-spoken and to the point, acknowledging that the problems Democrats are having with the health care issue and Specter’s poor judgment in switching parties have created an opportunity for him to take advantage of. Although a couple of the bloggers tried to draw him out on social issues, he stayed well clear of controversy and focused mostly on his campaign and issues of economic policy where he’s at his strongest and where the GOP as a whole is scoring a lot of points, though he did use one response to remind us that he remains a bit of a war hawk, offering some gratuitous advocacy for the missile defense system which Democrats are trying to cut.

Overall, Toomey was impressive and confident, and while he remains a mainstream Republican, his strong record on spending and his awareness of the concerns of the grassroots made him seem like a very appealing candidate and perhaps an indicator that the GOP is moving in the right direction in supporting candidates who are more dedicated to principle and more responsive to the people than self-promoting opportunists like Arlen Specter.

Audio of the entire interview is below. Note that I missed the first three minutes fixing a flat tire. Despite the fact that it was recorded on my cell phone while driving to the tire shop the quality is quite good. My question is the one about his position on future stimulus and bailout efforts.

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Uh-oh. You made the mistake of mentioning Ron Paul. Prepare for incoming!

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    We’ll see. Despite agreeing with Toomey on just about everything else, the PaulTards reject him as a “neocon” (their definition rather than the traditional one) because he isn’t an isolationist. It must be so frustrating to be such righteous absolutists.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    Darn. I was hoping to hear three minutes of you swearing at a tire. “Dammit! Damn socialist lug nut!”

    I would like to have heard Toomey mention his pro-life position when asked about non-economic issues. But I did like his answer about missile defense. It’s an important issue that has never really gotten any attention on BC. In recent months, there have been several successful tests of various missile defense systems, and our allies have been increasingly calling for us to advance our programs (we have guaranteed several countries’ missile defense), but the President keeps pulling back funding and calling the systems “unproven”.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Since PA is a closely divided swing state, the poll numbers will likely shift, especially as Joe Sestak [at least as articulate as Toomey!] becomes better known.

    I am certainly not a Specter fan, and I really wish senators would go ahead and retire as they reach 75 or 80, if not before.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Missile defense: not only unproven, but unnecessary and vastly expensive.

  • Baronius

    You’re right, Handy (except that they’re proven, necessary, and don’t cost any lives).

  • Baronius

    Seriously, Handy, maybe you’re not up on the latest tests. The Aegis ship-based missile system has completed its 15th consecutive successful simulation. The land-based system shot down one of our own defective satellites last year. We’ve been preparing to deploy it in Poland, although the administration is backing out of the deal. The air-based system is the trickiest, using aircraft-mounted lasers, but it’s been progressing nicely. Those stories don’t get much attention though.

    But your comment about it being unnecessary is what really throws me. What do you mean? Do you think that there will never be a missile attack on the US or its allies, that there will never even be a threat of an attack? Or do you think that the doctrine of mutually-assured destruction is practical against rogue states, terrorists, and accidental misfirings?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    No question that missile defense is way less expensive than having even a signle major city nuked.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    I have an idea! Let’s sell all our missiles (after all, they’re “unnecessary”) to Kim Jong Il; bet he’d pay us plenty for ‘em..

    To sweeten the pot, we could give him a complete package with each missile: throw in the ship to launch it from — wow! — we could even pre-program each missile to target a different US city — what a deal. We could even diversify: sell a few of the same package to Chavez, the French, Ahmadinejad — there’s a HUGE market out there!

    Marketing is my life — I’ll sell anything to anyone.

    Anyone wanna buy a politician? I know where there are 535 of ‘em who can be bought.

  • Baronius

    Who knew that liberals don’t like things that are unproven, unnecessary, and vastly expensive? Conservatives could have won the cap-and-trade and public option debates so easily. Come to think of it, TARP, the stimulus package, and the takeover of GM and Chrysler could have been stopped as well. Clean energy – that’s unproven, unnecessary, and vastly expensive. The moon landing, the purchase of Alaska, Columbus’ voyage…

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    God is unproven, yet you don’t have a problem with that

  • Baronius

    Bicho – There are a couple of valid proofs of God’s existence. Let me know if you want to chat about it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I know of a number of proofs of God’s existence, including St Thomas Aquinas’s and a modern one by quantum physicist/philosophical hobbyist Anthony Rizzo (think that’s his name).

    Whether they’re valid or not is still open to debate.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Quid est enim fides nisi credere quod non vides?” (i.e. what is faith but belief in that which thou seest not?) asks St. Augustine; but he also says: “Faith has its eyes by which it in some sort sees that to be true which it does not yet see—and by which, too, it most surely sees that it does not see what it believes” [Ep. ad Consent., ep. cxx 8 (al. ccxxii), P.L., II, 456].

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski
  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    I’m all eyes, Baronius.

  • Baronius

    If I were you, I’d start with Aquinas’ five proofs. You can find them on Wikipedia under the obscure title, Quinquae Viae. I have a lot of trouble with Anselm’s ontological proof; I wouldn’t recommend it. I consider accounts of observed miracles to be persuasive, but not a “proof” per se.

    Aquinas’ first two proofs, the First Cause and the Prime Mover, are very similar and are the most intuitively obvious. If you want to see a train wreck, read Bertrand Russell’s attempt to refute them. I don’t quite buy Aquinas’ third proof. The last two would persuade any Platonist (#4) or Aristotelian (#5), but you don’t run across many of those in this century. That last proof, the teleological argument, is grossly misunderstood by most people. I don’t understand it 100%.

    About the only interesting arguments against the existence of God are Occam’s Razor (the idea that it isn’t necessary to assume the existence of God) and the problem of the existence of evil.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Baronius, Aquinas’ so called five proofs are ludicrously unconvincing and I can’t even begin to understand how a five year old could find them persuasive, never mind an adult. They are just yet more of the empty-headed assertions put forth by all the victims of the god con.

    For the entertainment of anybody who cares, here are the so called proofs in all their laughable and meaningless glory.

    1. God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and form.

    2. God is perfect, lacking nothing. That is, God is distinguished from other beings on account of God’s complete actuality.

    3. God is infinite. That is, God is not finite in the ways that created beings are physically, intellectually, and emotionally limited. This infinity is to be distinguished from infinity of size and infinity of number.

    4. God is immutable, incapable of change on the levels of God’s essence and character.

    5. God is one, without diversification within God’s self. The unity of God is such that God’s essence is the same as God’s existence.

    I don’t understand what you mean in your closing sentence, but there don’t need to be any arguments against the existence of gods beyond a simple “prove it”. Despite thousands of years of this gobbledygook, nobody has come even close to proving a superbeing’s existence and nobody ever will…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    IMO the only truly convincing proof of God’s existence would be along the same lines as how we know Dave Nalle wrote this article: a signature.

    Carl Sagan speculated that a Creator might make this extremely difficult, so that it would take the capabilities of a highly advanced civilization even to find it. A more primitive one, Sagan suggested, would be unable to cope with the knowledge and their brains would explode inside their heads like an overripe avocado in a microwave.

    Such a signature would take the form of a message hidden deep in one of the natural laws – Sagan’s fictional example was an obviously artificial number sequence quintillions of decimal places into the value of pi.

    Ruvy, of course, thinks he’s already found that signature. :-)

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Doc, I would go with simply turning up myself. Even the worst absentee landlord turns up once in a while…

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    If god ever showed up I’d have to stop being a pacifist. Now there is ‘someone’ it would finally make sense to beat the hell out of.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Actually, though I don’t think it has anything to do with a god as a being, I am really amazed that on a planet that just happens to have complex life forms emerge from chemicals (okay, that’s understandable), but it gets weird that all the natural laws that are discovered make everything possible that we want to do…like sending pictures and sounds through the air. Flying airplanes. Sure it all makes sense, if you understand it, I guess. But still…life forming is weird enough, combine that with the sending information through the air, recording voices in vinyl, etc. Lotta pretty amazing things that just happen to work out.

    I guess like Einstein said, the universe is ordered, or something like that. But why is it ordered in such a way so that some improbable life forms can use it to do so many improbable things?

    (I realize I am revealing a lot of ignorance. I should have studied more science instead of just the scientific.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dreadful,

    You might be interested in the following account by John Wisdom, a British philosopher from the “ordinary language” tradition.

    It’s based on Wisdom’s rather mind-boggling article, “Gods.”

  • Baronius

    Christopher, those are blurbs about the proofs. But you raise an interesting point: does a proof have to be accepted by everyone in order to be true? I don’t see why it would.

    Descartes fell into a similar trap. He said that “that which is apparent” is equivalent to “that which is apparent to everyone”. In doing so, he put all responsibility for philosophy in the hands of the craziest person in society (because Descartes would only accept a principle that such a person would accept). But there’s no reason that a concept has to be universally-held to be true.

    About my last sentence, you seem to think that my side has a duty to prove God’s existence to your side. I don’t think that’s true. Nor is it your duty to prove to me that God doesn’t exist. It’s each person’s option to work out the question on his own. But proofs for the existence of God, and arguments against them, and proofs against the existence of God, and arguments against them, do exist historically. Out of fairness I cited the two strongest positions against the existence of God.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Don’t forget David Hume, Baronius.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Oh boy! The old “god” debate again.

    The most intelligent comments in the whole thread, IMHO, are #19 (DD) and #22 (Cindy).

    DD posits exactly what it took me to believe unreservedly in G-d – a Signature. The Torah Code is just one such Signature. There is also the structure of the eye, the way species seem biased in a certain direction, and many of the observations that Cindy makes in comment #22. In addition, there are the numbers that govern the make-up of the universe – a universe primed for life, as it were, by a series of chemical numbers that cannot be chance.

    But it’s not my job to prove any of this to you. You need to come to understand these things by yourselves.

  • Baronius

    I wish I could forget Hume, Roger.

    I don’t think of Hume as providing an argument against God. He argues against arguing. If you accept Hume’s argument, you have to reject all the generalizations and deductions he used to arrive at it. My interest is whether you can arrive at certainty of God’s existence through reason; Hume is literally unreasonable.

    BTW – Go Toomey! Dave, I feel guilty for hijacking an article by you, of all people, to defend belief in God. I’m interested in your take on the Rubio/Crist race as well.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hume was the ultimate skeptic, Baronius. But let’s shelve it for now.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The thing with the ‘signatures’ you see, Ruvy, is that all of them also have natural explanations. Sagan’s idea was that of a signature that could not possibly have any explanation but that it had been inserted by a creator, and designed in such a way that it could only be discovered by species with sufficiently evolved intellect to be able to cope with that knowledge. He reckoned that humanity in its current state was NOT one of those species.

    He explores these ideas at some length in his novel Contact – which is a terrific read anyway, and considerably better than the movie which was made of it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    My reflection on Cindy’s #22 is that as marvellous as such achievements are, it doesn’t mean the universe was set up so that we could achieve them.

    It’s often said, for example, that planet Earth is the perfect environment for humans. But by empirical measures it’s actually pretty hostile. The place is abundant in oxygen, one of the most corrosive elements known; it has crushingly powerful gravity; a terrifying chemical reaction, occurring naturally in the atmosphere, called fire; rampant tectonic activity, including volcanism and powerful earthquakes; not to mention that most of the surface is covered in liquid water.

    Pretty scary place. We’ve adapted in spite of it; it’s gone out of its way to hinder us, actually.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Actually, Dreadful, Cindy is on to something. Many biologists and geneticists will attest that the balance is a very fragile one indeed, that the circumstances and conditions for the formation and continuation of life are near perfect, that a slight tilt in one or another direction would make life well-nigh impossible.

    BTW, the above kind of mirrors Marx’s dictum on a smaller, less cosmic scale:

    “Mankind always takes up only such problems as it can solve . . . we will always find that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.”

    Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

  • zingzing

    don’t forget hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, mudslides, drought, disease, ice ages, heat waves, lightning, regular old disease, infectious disease, natural poisons, radiation, florida… i could go on. this place is designed to kill us.

  • zingzing
  • zingzing

    the above includes a bit about the creationists’ favorite, the eye.

  • zingzing

    here’s a more entertaining version of the above (click on chapter 6), but i’m including the whole program because the guy is just hilarious.

  • Baronius

    What you guys are talking about is usually called the argument from design. I’ve never considered it persuasive. Aquinas’ fifth argument is somewhat different.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I depends, Baronius, on what kind of argument(s) is most appropriate to the proposition at hand. Being influenced by Aristotle, Aquinas considered nothing short of deductive logic as the standard of proof.

    I suggest you give a quick read of John Wisdom’s article referenced earlier.

  • zingzing

    care to explain the difference, as i’m bound to misinterpret it, as you say.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    An argument from design, zing, is not strictly speaking a manner of deductive logic. It’s more on the order of an inference – in this case, the universe is so “perfect” in so far as its laws are concerned that it couldn’t have come about by (random) chance. Hence, there was a designer.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    a matter of . . .

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Dr.D,

    I’m with you Dr.D. I wouldn’t suggest the universe was set up so humans could achieve what they have achieved. Anyway, I don’t know much about science. How could I possibly expect to understand the universe? I would have to learn all kinds of things before I could even open my mouth.

    But, still, that’s something that strikes me (what I put in #22). Maybe a scientist will come along one day and tell me this or that and I’ll have an acceptable answer or at least gain some perspective. Right now, it’s just unanswered for me.

  • zingzing

    yeah, well, when you argue the opposite (as in the universe is so imperfect that to suppose there was a designer is either an insult to the designer or to intelligence), you run into the same problem, i suppose. but any argument for the existence of god that is supposedly logical has to take some gigantic leaps in logic in order to get there.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I guess the first thing you’ve got to decide is whether it’s perfect or not. It’s here that most people disagree. Some think that perfection necessarily entails peace and harmony. I don’t happen to share that view. But once you decide in favor of the first-mentioned alternative, the inference is alluring (if not fairly straightforward).

    It’s like going back to your apartment only to find your spouse with her throat cut. Naturally, you assume there was a murderer.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Did anyone see the movie where someone is hit by a car, and they go backward to show all the things that had to happen, just so, for the accident to have occurred? This person had to stop and get his keys, that person had to trip over the dog (whatever, I made that one up). But, all these things had to happen to like 10 people to result in the woman being exactly in front of the car at that moment. And then you realize that that is true of anything.

    (I forgot the name of that movie.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ve seen it recently, Cindy – a woman on her way to a ballet class – a first-rate ballerina – who gets hit by a car, her career is over, eventually recovers but never dances again.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Got it. It’s the latest Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case of Mr. Buttons, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dreadful, #29:

    But I love Jody Foster. You should have seen her in one of her debuts, The Taxi Driver where she plays an underage prostitute opposite to Robert De Niro. She’s also quite fluent in French. Have seen her in one of the European productions during the French Resistance era.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The “argument from design” sounds exactly like the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc which tries to establish a relationship without proof of causation.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A Very Long Engagement was the name of the film.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sorry, World War I.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Correct, but not any less convincing than most of the propositions argued on the pages of BC. It sorts of preempts the idea of (alternative) causation – saying that nothing but a designer could have been responsible.

    And then again, a logical fallacy doesn’t constitute a disproof; it only throws doubt on the nature of the purported proof.

  • zingzing

    just because your mother’s argument of “because i say so” is illogical doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. or that it doesn’t have logic, wherever it comes from.

  • zingzing

    let he who let the italics go fix them. and how.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good point, zing, and I mean #52. I don’t know about the italics thing.

  • zingzing

    well, they fixed the italics problem.

  • Clavos

    Baronius,

    On the Rubio/Crist race:

    As a Florida resident living in Rubio’s general neighborhood, I would take him (and will likely vote for him) over Crist in a heartbeat; he’s a doer, a risk taker, and appears to be quite smart and not yet totally tainted by the political world.

    Crist, OTOH, is a quintessential politician in every worst sense of the word; he walks around with his wetted finger always in the air, carefully measuring everything he does with an eye toward what it will do for or against him, and with little or no regard for what is good for the state.

    Unfortunately, he’s wildly popular, and has way more money (and contacts and ability to raise it) than Rubio, and will likely win the Republican race. I have no opinion at this time on whether he’ll beat the eventual Dem candidate.

    The man can’t even spell principles, let alone have any.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Clav, the RLC of Florida is pushing Rubio really heavily, but it’s an uphill battle. I’ve seen Rubio speak and he’s very impressive and very energetic. I don’t agree with him 100%, but if he can talk to enough people he might be able to win them away from Crist.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    The thing with the ‘signatures’ you see, Ruvy, is that all of them also have natural explanations. Sagan’s idea was that of a signature that could not possibly have any explanation but that it had been inserted by a creator, and designed in such a way that it could only be discovered by species with sufficiently evolved intellect to be able to cope with that knowledge.

    Eh heh…. That is exactly what the Torah Codes are, DD. The mere fact that atheists or agnostics cannot cope with that knowledge is not new. Many pious Jews (I don’t waste my time on the non-believers and the bullshit philosophes) cannot cope with the Holy Zohar, so they ignore it. Actually, the Torah recognizes this too. the Children of Israel told Moses – “we can’t handle Revelation; you go and let G-d tell you, and you can tell us.”

    Sagan wasn’t on to anythig new at all, though his book “Contact” was a good read.

  • zingzing

    the natural explanation, ruvy, for the torah codes is “seek and you shall find.”

  • Baronius

    Well, there’s a reason that Toomey/Specter reminded me of Rubio/Crist.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    In a belated response to Baronius’s mouth-agape reaction to my dismissal of missile defense, I will lazily point him to this quote from Mother Jones in a Feb 2009 article about Barney Frank [my hero]:

    On Tuesday, two days before Obama presents a proposed budget to Congress, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and other House Democrats called on the Obama administration to reduce military spending, setting up a potential clash between House liberals and the White House. At a White House summit on fiscal responsibility the day before, Obama had cast doubt on the future of an $11.2 billion project to upgrade the fleet of presidential helicopters. But Obama has shown no indication that he plans to reduce, or even freeze, overall defense spending, which will be around $650 billion this fiscal year.

    Frank says that’s a mistake. “To accomplish his goals of expanding health care and other important quality of life services without ballooning the deficit,” Frank noted, Obama has no choice but to decrease military spending. He said that spending excessive amounts of money on the defense budget “precludes” the Obama administration from addressing other priorities: “If we do not get military spending under control, we will not be able to respond to important domestic needs.”

    Acknowledging that Obama does plan to save hundreds of billions of dollars by withdrawing from Iraq, Frank said the President must go further and take big whacks at big-ticket military projects. He pointed to programs like the Air Force’s F-22 fighter, the Osprey troop transport, and missile defense as expensive, unnecessary Cold War-era boondoggles. He singled out missile defense in Eastern Europe as a particularly wasteful use of American taxpayers’ money. “I will confess that I am not a regular reader of Iranian-issued fatwahs,” Frank quipped. “And probably one of the ones I missed was the one where they threatened devastation against Prague. We plan to spend several billion dollars to protect the Czech Republic against Iran. That’s either a great waste of money or a very belated way to make up for Munich.”