OK, maybe just "partly-cloudy." (It seems to be in order around here these days. JEEZ!)
Bill (not Billy) Kristol writes in today's NY Times that the American public usually does show pretty good judgement:
Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country and of course concerned about the economy. But, as Pew summarized, “there is little indication that the nation’s financial crisis has triggered public panic or despair.”
In fact, “There is a broad public consensus regarding the causes of the current problems with financial institutions and markets: 79 percent say people taking on too much debt has contributed a lot to the crisis, while 72 percent say the same about banks making risky loans.”
Needless to say, the public’s not always right, and public opinion’s not always responsible. But as publics go, the American public has a pretty good track record.
In the 1930s, the American people didn’t fall — unlike so many of their supposed intellectual betters — for either fascism or Communism. Since World War II, the American people have resisted the temptations of isolationism and protectionism, and have turned their backs on a history of bigotry.
And this good judgement might just lead to a McCain-Palin victory in November:
But it’s hard to blame the public for preferring Obama at this stage — given the understandable desire to kick the Republicans out of the White House, and given the failure of the McCain campaign to make its case effectively. And some number of the public may change their minds in the final two weeks of the campaign, and may decide McCain-Palin offers a better kind of change — perhaps enough to give McCain-Palin a victory.
The media elites really hate that idea. Not just because so many of them prefer Obama. But because they like telling us what’s going to happen. They’re always annoyed when the people cross them up.
Finally, Kristol puts a face on this "common man" who makes up the American public: Joe the Plumber.
And to Peggy Noonan, who wrote that Joe “in an extended cable interview Thursday made a better case for the Republican ticket than the Republican ticket has made.” At least McCain and Palin have had the good sense to embrace him. I join them in taking my stand with Joe the Plumber — in defiance of Horace the Poet.
Not long ago blog friend Heretic penned "A case for Obama." This was in response to a comment question from my better half, dagny. She's used her feminine wiles to get me to post the following "open letter to Obama supporters." (It helped her cause that I fully agree with every bit of it.)
An Open Letter to Obama Supporters (especially Heretic since he may be the only one we have around here)
First of all the question that started this was how anyone could support the socialist economic policies of Obama. Heretic professes to support Obama on foreign policy grounds and not economic ones. I contend that this makes him highly unusual for an Obama supporter as Obama has always been said to be winning based on his economics while McCain had the stronger foreign policy command. This theory is supported by the fact Obama has developed a lead since the most recent Wall Street woes. Therefore the question of why anyone would support the socialist economic agenda of Obama remains open and I am still interested in any answers anyone has.
I believe in individual rights and free markets and the philosophical ideas that provided the founding of this country. I have never found a politician that I actually agree with on a regular basis. Therefore I normally vote based on which politician will have LESS success in taking away my individual rights. Lately that has been universally the Republicans. I believe in choice and gay rights as heretic mentions but with a Democrat congress, I see little threat to those ideas.
On the other hand, if Barack Obama is elected president with a Democrat house and senate to support him (don’t kid yourself, the Democrats will maintain control of both houses), this country will look like something from a George Orwell novel in 4 years.
We will have much higher taxes and still higher spending thus no deficit reduction.
We will have government mandated and controlled health care, thus lower quality, and at taxpayer expense.
We will have government mandating energy sources at taxpayer expense and serious limitations on what cars we are allowed to drive.
We will have government mandated and controlled retirement savings at taxpayer expense.
We will have government mandated and controlled pre-school, as pathetic as our current educational mess, at taxpayer expense.
The American taxpayer is the sturdy horse that pulls the wagon but it can only take so much weight. Note that, “corporations,” do not pay taxes (nor do 40 percent of the citizenry.) The customers, employees, and owners of corporations pay taxes.
On a side note – I discovered, as I prepared to send my 3 year-old to pre-school, we currently have a mostly free market in pre-schools. I had a dozen schools to choose from, utilizing multiple educational philosophies at various prices. I could choose the one I decided was best for my kid. Think what an improvement such competition would provide to public schools.
Finally, Obama with support from Congress will do his best to take our guns. For those of you who don’t own guns, this may seem minor but the second amendment to the constitution provides us as individual Americans with the ability to defend all the rest of our rights most importantly from government.
My gun is an equalizer (you believe in equality?). It allows me as a petite woman to defend myself and my family from a man no matter how much bigger he is than I or from multiple assailants or whatever is necessary.
Heretic – if you have any interest, you and your family are invited to Atlantis farm for an introduction to gun safety and utility.
Please Obama supporters, reconsider your vote based on the serious harm to individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness that an Obama presidency would undoubtedly entail.
P.S. What evidence do you have that Governor Palin is either vindictive or naďve? She could maybe be called inexperienced but less so than Obama and he is at the TOP of his ticket.
Some people around here seem to change their colors faster than the Dow 30 changes directions. "What's the use?" What's the use, BR? There's more at stake in this election than free-market vs. statist economic policies. Much more, that I won't bother to list at the moment. But if McCain can win in November by cloning just enough B.O. economics, isn't that a good thing?
Remember that McCain's chief strategist said he needs to go after the Reagan Democrats that would have gone for Hillary if the Super Delegates hadn't scuttled her campaign.
Regulation: As the financial crisis spreads, denials on Capitol Hill grow more shrill. Blame an aloof President Bush, greedy Wall Street, risky capitalism — anybody but those in Congress who wrote the banking rules.
In other words, nobody up and down the line — from the branch office on main street to the high-rise on Wall Street — analyzed the risk of such ill-advised loans. But why should they? Everybody was just doing what the regulators in Washington wanted them to do.
The original culprits in all this were the social engineers who compelled banks to make the bad loans. The private sector has no business conducting social experiments on behalf of government. Its business is making profit. Period. So it did what it naturally does and turned the subprime social mandate into a lucrative industry.
Of course, it was a Ponzi scheme, because they weren't allowed to play by their rules. The government changed the rules for risk.
In order to put low-income minorities into home loans, they were ordered to suspend lending standards that had served the banking industry well for centuries. No one wants to talk about it, so they just scapegoat Wall Street.
The current meltdown isn't the result of too much regulation or too little. The root cause is bad regulation.
Call it the revenge of Enron. The collapse of Enron in 2002 triggered a wave of regulations, most notably Sarbanes-Oxley. Less noticed but ultimately more consequential for today were accounting rules that forced financial service companies to change the way they report the value of their assets (or liabilities). Enron valued future contracts in such a way as to vastly inflate its reported profits. In response, accounting standards were shifted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board and validated by the SEC. The new standards force companies to value or "mark" their assets according to a different set of standards and levels.
The rules are complicated and arcane; the result isn't. Beginning last year, financial companies exposed to the mortgage market began to mark down their assets, quickly and steeply. That created a chain reaction, as losses that were reported on balance sheets led to declining stock prices and lower credit ratings, forcing these companies to put aside ever larger reserves (also dictated by banking regulations) to cover those losses.
Among its many products, AIG offered insurance on derivatives built on other derivatives built on mortgages. It priced those according to computer models that no one person could have generated, not even the quantitative magicians who programmed them. And when default rates and home prices moved in ways that no model had predicted, the whole pricing structure was thrown out of whack.
The value of the underlying assets -- homes and mortgages -- declined, sometimes 10%, sometimes 20%, rarely more. That is a hit to the system, but on its own should never have led to the implosion of Wall Street. What has leveled Wall Street is that the value of the derivatives has declined to zero in some cases, at least according to what these companies are reporting.
There's something wrong with that picture: Down 20% doesn't equal down 100%. In a paralyzed environment, where few are buying and everyone is selling, a market price could well be near zero. But that is hardly the "real" price. If someone had to sell a home in Galveston, Texas, last week before Hurricane Ike, it might have sold for pennies on the dollar. Who would buy a home in the path of a hurricane? But only for those few days was that value "real."
No matter what else you hear or read on this subject, keep these two articles in mind.
A Boulder, Colorado astrophysicist has posted evidence on YouTube that he claims is "proof" of an Intelligent Designer of the universe. You may not be any more persuaded by his argument than I was but I'm sure you'll agree with me that the following leaves no doubt:
According to the United States Mint, the latest release in their well-known 50 State Quarters Program is the coin which commemorates the statehood of Arizona, home state of GOP presidential candidate John McCain.
The next state to be honored is ... Alaska, from whence we were graced with the GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Though the government website doesn't confirm it (imagine that - an unresponsive government entity) the Alaska quarters are already in circulation, as evidenced by the pair I received in change 2 days ago.
So not only do these coins come out in succession as Palin's place on the ticket succeeded McCain's, they are released immediately before the election that will surely place both of them in the White House just before the Mint releases the quarter commemorating ... Hawaii, home of the Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama.
(Dude sorta even looks like "The One" too, 'cept for the funny hat.)
Even more spooky is that the first state quarter ever issued, the "oldest" one as it were, is for Delaware.
Remember the old "Mac-a-whack" game we used to play around here? I'm bringing it back.
Barack Obama has campaign commercials slamming John McCain for his ill-advised admission that he "doesn't really understand economics." Today, John McCain proved that he wasn't kidding.
Too many firms on Wall Street have been able to count on casual oversight by regulatory agencies in Washington. And there are so many of those regulators that the responsibility for oversight is scattered, unfocussed and ineffective. Among others, we've got the SEC, the CFTC, the FDIC, the SPIC and the OCC. But for all their big and impressive sounding names, the fact is they haven't been doing their job right, or else we wouldn't have these massive problems on Wall Street. At their worse, they've been caught up in Washington turf wars instead of working together to protect investors and the public interests. And we don't need a dozen federal agencies doing the job badly -- we need the best federal agencies to do the job right.
According to John it's all "Wall Street's" fault because those poor government agencies are just too fragmented, too powerless and too overworked to "do their job right."
As a Pennsylvanian, I would have never seen this anti Mark Udall running in Colorado, if he hadn't freaked out over it.
"The offensive representations and slanderous image directly tie Mark Udall to the use and promotion of marijuana. This is an outrageous portrayal that finds no credence whatsoever in fact" [Udall attorney] Friednash wrote to [TV station manager] Cornetta. "Further, there is nothing in the Department of Peace legislation that authorizes the purchase of a van or that says one of the activities of the Department will be smoking marijuana in a smoke filled van."
As soon as Sarah Palin delivered the punch line on her 'hockey moms are pitbulls' joke at the convention you just knew it was going to become a catch phrase in this election, didn't you?
Yes, "putting lipstick on a pig" is a well known aphorism.
Yes, Barack Obama used it in the context of criticizing his opponent's economic policy positions.
But Barack also knew it would be instantly associated with Palin's invocation of the power word in the 2008 election - Lipstick.
It's called a double-entendre and Barack used the Palin angle of it to energize his OWN base under the cover of "a well known aphorism" applied to John McCain and his "Bush policies." The talking heads have it all wrong though. Barack wasn't implying that Palin is a pig. Instead he's calling McCain (and his policy positions) a pig that's been "dressed up" by sexy Sarah, the Caribou Barbie. Palin herself is the metaphorical lipstick.
The problem for Barack is, even by this interpretation of his intent, the remark was sexist. (Palin was chosen only for her pretty face and to pander to women.) With people to whom sexism is offensive this episode hasn't made any points. He might as well refer to Joe Biden's opponent as "McCain's sweetie."
UPDATE - 9/11 15:53: Obama admits that my description is accurate as long as, you know, IF that is what he had INTENDED to mean. Letterman: "I don't know, you're way ahead of me." (audience laughs) [Wink, wink.]
Later he says he'd have gone after Al Qaeda and bin Laden in Afghanistan alright but instead of "spending a trillion dollars in Iraq" he'd have "focused on our energy problems here at home" because we really needed to "create the kinds of energy-efficient economy that will allow us to weaken the forces of terror." Also, "what are we doing in terms of giving farmers there [Afghanistan] an alternative to growing poppy, right, so narco-trafficking has funded terrorism in that region."
According to Hillary (no, not that Hillary - CNN's Hillary Rosen) Sarah Palin became a "superstar of the radical right" last night. This morning I heard Jay "Jabba-the-hut" Marvin say that McCain and Palin are "fascists." Why? Did I miss the racism or nationalistic overtones in the Sarah-cuda's speech last night? Do liberals think that McPalin wants to incenerate all of them? Relax, people - they only want to incenerate your ideas.
What's different about Palin that brings out such a frantic 'cockroaches scattering when the lights come on' reaction from Democrats and those even further left? Confidence. Sarah Palin is no more conservative than anyone else on the national scene, but what she does differently is what her running-mate used to be known for - straight talk. A "radical right-winger" is therefore... a conservative who ignores political correctness.
But Ms. Hillary believes the Palinator should be opposed, not on experience or family vs. career, but on her message:
I don't care about how Sarah Palin or John McCain take care of their families. I care about how their policy choices affect my family and millions of other Americans.
Translation: "I care about how they will take care of my family and millions of other families."
That Obama guy's got some great lines. Now even Fred Barnes is stealing them to sub-head his column.
So Republicans were beginning to come together, but it was thanks largely to Democratic noisemaking. Republicans weren't on offense. Now, with Sarah Palin's elevation, they are. McCain couldn't mobilize the Republican base, but Palin can. Indeed, she already has. By 10 P.M. Friday, the day her selection was announced, the McCain campaign had raised $4 million online - more than six times its previous daily record.
Barnes also voices publicly what I was bold enough to share only with my brother - that Palin's youth coupled with the national prestige of a veep nomination position her as the GOP frontrunner in future presidential campaigns.
What if McCain and Palin win? As vice president, Palin would be next in line for the Republican presidential nomination after McCain. Assuming she didn't wander off the conservative reservation - an unlikely occurrence - she'd be hard to stop. And just to be clear about her conservatism: Palin is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-military, pro-Iraq war, pro-spending cuts, pro-tax cuts, pro-drilling for oil everywhere (including ANWR), pro-family, and pro-religion.
Republicans desperately need younger leaders. To paraphrase Democrats, the torch must be passed to a new generation. There are a number of impressive young leaders in Congress - Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, to name three in the House - but they've been leapfrogged: If McCain loses, Palin will be the hope of the future. If he wins, she'll actually be the future.
And, as I said below, if her Democrat opponent(s) criticize her for any of her pro-(fill in the blank) positions they are merely being misogynists (that means 'sexist,' for those of you who hung around after commenting on the Anne Price Mills contretemps.) Feel the power of identity politics my fellow pragmatic individualists!
Mike Littwin, a liberal columnist for the Rocky Mountain News had this Obama cheerleading piece in today's Rocky. Forget the column, which is mostly fawning pap. The nut graf says it all:
If the idea of this trip was to let Americans see Obama as a would-be president, it was a grand success.
And, judging by Obama's performance, his presidential proclivities can be summed in a single word: feckless. Obama took strong stands for everything over which he will do nothing: Darfur, Zimbabwe, AIDs in Africa and the unification of Jerusalem. (Does anyone think that he will really send troops to any of these places?) On issues that he must tackle, such as winning in Iraq, he turns tail and runs like hell. While simultaneously admitting that the Iraqi surge worked and maintaining that it was a mistake, he calls for a similar surge in Afghanistan. Guys like Littwin lap it up - what a country!
The press also makes much of Maliki's "endorsement" of Obama and his 16 month plan. Assuming we can take this at face value, one must ask oneself why Maliki would prefer Obama in the White House. Could it be that he would rather negotiate with a relatively weak president than a relatively tough one?
To roughly paraphrase Rush Limbaugh today, "Obama demonstrates how it is that totalitarianism can take hold. Not that Obama is a totalitarian but that he uses the same emotional appeals that bring tyrants to power."
Transcribed by yours truly from live coverage of this morning's address to a "women for Obama" fundraiser in New York:
"The Democratic party is a family. You know, sometimes a dysfunctional family, but it's a family. (laughter)
And we care about what's going to happen to the economy and healthcare and education. What's gonna happen in Iraq and Afghanistan and our young men and women in uniform. What's gonna happen with our energy policy and whether we ever take on climate change in a meaningful way.
We know that all of these concerns are ones that, you know, we get up in the morning with. We worry about. We go to bed at night still wondering ... will we ever start acting like Americans again.
Will we roll up our sleeves collectively and start tackling these problems. There is nothing beyond us once we make up our minds that this is the work we will do. And that work cannot be done if we do not have a Democratic president in the White House next year."
And some people wonder why there seem to be "two Americas." Once we, she says, the Democratic party, make up our minds that this is the work we will do, there's nothing beyond us - as long as the president is one of us, that is.
But since I don't want to work collectively - toward a leftist fantasy in energy, healthcare, education, national defense or anything else - this is a clear warning to me to do anything I can to prevent a Democrat president from taking office. Even if that means voting for McCain.
In the nation's most anticipated concession speech of the modern age, Hillary Clinton finally endorsed her opponent in the primary race. In doing so, she exposed exactly why Democrats are, as a group, the enemy of America's heritage of individualism and liberty:
"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights that belong to each of us as individuals," she said. "But our lives, our freedom, our happiness, are best enjoyed, best protected, and best advanced when we do work together."
Whoa there, madam. Says who?
Certainly there are situations where we benefit from the assistance of others to safeguard our lives or defend our freedom. And happiness is always greater when shared with someone you love. But the work Miss Hillary wants to do in the cause of "advancing" our lives, our freedom, our happiness will, without exception, interfere with MY life, MY freedom and MY happiness.
"We all want an economy that sustains the American Dream, the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford that gas and those groceries and still have a little left over at the end of the month. An economy that lifts all of our people and ensures that our prosperity is broadly distributed and shared."
Let's dwell for a moment... Ensures that OUR prosperity is ... broadly distributed... and ... shared. Hmmm, sounds vaguely familar.
But the obvious question is, if prosperity is shared then how is hard work rewarded? (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, choosing and deciding from whom to who else and by how much.)
And now that Hillary has bowed out (for now at least) the 'man behind the curtain' in-waiting is Senator Obama:
"That is what we will do now as we join forces with Senator Obama and his campaign. We will make history together as we write the next chapter in America's story. We will stand united for the values we hold dear, for the vision of progress we share, and for the country we love. There is nothing more American than that."
And there is the reason I could never vote for a modern Democrat: The mere idea of equating Americanism with Egalitarianism is offensive to its core.
Barack Obama made a rousing speech in front of 20,000 Houston supporters last night. It went something like this:
'This is a crucial moment in the history of mankind!' Gerald Starnes [Barack Obama] yelled through the noise. 'Remember that none of us may now leave this place, for each of us belongs to all the others by the moral law which we all accept!'
Well, not really. That is a passage from the collectivization of the Twentieth Century Motor Company in Part 2, Chapter X of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
We had just voted for the new plan and we were in an edgy sort of mood, making too much noise, cheering the people's victory, threatening some kind of unknown enemies and spoiling for a fight, like bullies with an uneasy conscience. There were white arclights beating down on us and we felt kind of touchy and raw, and we were an ugly, dangerous mob in that moment.
This is today's Democrat party, at least amongst the Obamaniac youngsters.
What he really said was more like,
"We're spending nine billion dollars a month for a war in Iraq we should never have been in. (...) We are at a defining moment in our history. (...) We can't afford to wait. We cannot wait to fix our schools, we cannot wait to fix our health care system, we cannot wait to put an end to global warming, we cannot wait to bring good jobs with good benefits back to the United States, we cannot wait to end this war in Iraq, we cannot wait. (...) Every child is our child. (...) I'll do whatever it takes to defend this country."
Anything? Really? What if, hypothetically of course, it really DOES take a war in Iraq to defend this country. [Everyone knows it doesn't, of course, but just "what if" - would you spend 9 billion dollars a month to do it? Yeah, OK, maybe "anything" is too strong.
But this one really pissed me off...
When a CEO makes more in ten minutes than a good worker makes in a year there's something wrong in this country!
Because being a CEO is just another job, right Mr. Obama? And being President of the United States is just another exercise in "organizing."
Listen carefully and you'll hear that Barack is asking us to accept the same moral code that Gerald Starnes did. "I am my brother's keeper," says Barack. What does that code get us? Continue reading.
"Well, there was something that happened at that plant where I worked for twenty years. It was when the old man died and his heirs took over. There were three of them, two sons and a daughter, and they brought a new plan to run the factory. They let us vote on it, too, and everybody—almost everybody—voted for it. We didn't know. We thought it was good. No, that's not true, either. We thought that we were supposed to think it was good. The plan was that everybody in the factory would work according to his ability, but would be paid according to his need. We—what's the matter, ma'am? Why do you look like that?"
"What was the name of the factory?" she asked, her voice barely audible.
"The Twentieth Century Motor Company, ma'am, of Starnesville, Wisconsin."
"We voted for that plan at a big meeting, with all of us present, six thousand of us, everybody that worked in the factory. The Starnes heirs made long speeches about it, and it wasn't too clear, but nobody asked any questions. None of us knew just how the plan would work, but every one of us thought that the next fellow knew it. And if anybody had doubts, he felt guilty and kept his mouth shut—because they made it sound like anyone who'd oppose the plan was a child-killer at heart and less than a human being. They told us that this plan would achieve a noble ideal. Well, how were we to know otherwise? Hadn't we heard it all our lives—from our parents and our schoolteachers and our ministers, and in every newspaper we ever read and every movie and every public speech? Hadn't we always been told that this was righteous and just? Well, maybe there's some excuse for what we did at that meeting. Still, we voted for the plan—and what we got, we had it coming to us. You know, ma'am, we are marked men, in a way, those of us who lived through the four years of that plan in the Twentieth Century factory. What is it that hell is supposed to be? Evil—plain, naked, smirking evil, isn't it? Well, that's what we saw and helped to make—and I think we're damned, every one of us, and maybe we'll never be forgiven.…
"Do you know how it worked, that plan, and what it did to people? Try pouring water into a tank where there's a pipe at the bottom draining it out faster than you pour it, and each bucket you bring breaks that pipe an inch wider, and the harder you work the more is demanded of you, and you stand slinging buckets forty hours a week, then forty-eight, then fifty-six—for your neighbor's supper—for his wife's operation—for his child's measles—for his mother's wheel chair—for his uncle's shirt—for his nephew's schooling—for the baby next door—for the baby to be born—for anyone anywhere around you—it's theirs to receive, from diapers to dentures—and yours to work, from sunup to sundown, month after month, year after year, with nothing to show for it but your sweat, with nothing in sight for you but their pleasure, for the whole of your life, without rest, without hope, without end.… From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.…
"It didn't take us long to see how it all worked out. Any man who tried to play straight, had to refuse himself everything. He lost his taste for any pleasure, he hated to smoke a nickel's worth of tobacco or chew a stick of gum, worrying whether somebody had more need for that nickel. He felt ashamed of every mouthful of food he swallowed, wondering whose weary night of overtime had paid for it, knowing that his food was not his by right, miserably wishing to be cheated rather than to cheat, to be a sucker, but not a blood-sucker. He wouldn't marry, he wouldn't help his folks back home, he wouldn't put an extra burden on 'the family.' Besides, if he still had some sort of sense of responsibility, he couldn't marry or bring children into the world, when he could plan nothing, promise nothing, count on nothing. But the shiftless and the irresponsible had a field day of it. They bred babies, they got girls into trouble, they dragged in every worthless relative they had from all over the country, every unmarried pregnant sister, for an extra 'disability allowance,' they got more sicknesses than any doctor could disprove, they ruined their clothing, their furniture, their homes—what the hell, 'the family' was paying for it! They found more ways of getting in 'need' than the rest of us could ever imagine—they developed a special skill for it, which was the only ability they showed.
"God help us, ma'am! Do you see what we saw? We saw that we'd been given a law to live by, a moral law, they called it, which punished those who observed it—for observing it. The more you tried to live up to it, the more you suffered; the more you cheated it, the bigger reward you got. Your honesty was like a tool left at the mercy of the next man's dishonesty. The honest ones paid, the dishonest collected. The honest lost, the dishonest won. How long could men stay good under this sort of a law of goodness? We were a petty decent bunch of fellows when we started. There weren't many chiselers among us. We knew our jobs and we were proud of it and we worked for the best factory in the country, where old man Starnes hired nothing but the pick of the country's labor. Within one year under the new plan, there wasn't an honest man left among us. That was the evil, the sort of hell-horror evil that preachers used to scare you with, but you never thought to see alive. Not that the plan encouraged a few bastards, but that it turned decent people into bastards, and there was nothing else that it could do—and it was called a moral ideal!
"But his sister Ivy was worse. She really did not care for material wealth. The alms she got was no bigger than ours, and she went about in scuffed, flat-heeled shoes and shirtwaists—just to show how selfless she was. She was our Director of Distribution. She was the lady in charge of our needs. She was the one who held us by the throat. Of course, distribution was supposed to be decided by voting—by the voice of the people. But when the people are six thousand howling voices, trying to decide without yardstick, rhyme or reason, when there are no rules to the game and each can demand anything, but has a right to nothing, when everybody holds power over everybody's life except his own—then it turns out, as it did, that the voice of the people is Ivy Starnes. By the end of the second year, we dropped the pretense of the 'family meetings'—in the name of 'production efficiency and time economy,' one meeting used to take ten days—and all the petitions of need were simply sent to Miss Starnes' office. No, not sent. They had to be recited to her in person by every petitioner. Then she made up a distribution list, which she read to us for our vote of approval at a meeting that lasted three-quarters of an hour. We voted approval. There was a ten-minute period on the agenda for discussion and objections. We made no objections. We knew better by that time. Nobody can divide a factory's income among thousands of people, without some sort of a gauge to measure people's value. Her gauge was bootlicking. Selfless? In her father's time, all of his money wouldn't have given him a chance to speak to his lousiest wiper and get away with it, as she spoke to our best skilled workers and their wives. She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil, you should have seen the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who'd talked back to her once and who'd just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached the slogan: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'
"This was the whole secret of it. At first, I kept wondering how it could be possible that the educated, the cultured, the famous men of the world could make a mistake of this size and preach, as righteousness, this sort of abomination—when five minutes of that should have told them what would happen if somebody tried to practice what they preached. Now I know that they didn't do it by any kind of mistake. Mistakes of this size are never made innocently. If men fall for some vicious piece of insanity, when they have no way to make it work and no possible reason to explain their choice—it's because they have a reason that they do not wish to tell. And we weren't so innocent either, when we voted for the plan at the first meeting. We didn't do it just because we believed that the drippy old guff they spewed was good. We had another reason, but the guff helped us to hide it from our neighbors and from ourselves. The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we'd be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn't a man voting for it who didn't think that under a setup of this kind he'd muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn't a man rich and smart enough but that he didn't think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better's wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he'd get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who'd get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who'd rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss's, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own. That was our real motive when we voted—that was the truth of it—but we didn't like to think it, so the less we liked it, the louder we yelled about our love for the common good.
As the "O-mentum" rolls on approaching Hillary's "firewall" states of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania I'm taking this opportunity to reveal the secret to derailing Barack Hussein's support amongst the affluent white Democrats he so famously holds in his spell. While Barack shrewdly disclosed the vast majority of his personal shortcomings and past indiscretions in his own autobiographical book prior to seeking national political office, there's one important skeleton in his closet that none of his opponents has yet capitalized on. I can only conclude that they aren't aware of it for it is so completely devastating, without being a "negative personal attack," that it could make Obama's campaign literally go up in smoke. You see, Democrats pride themselves on their tolerance of the personal choices made by others but there are exceptions, and this is one of them. It is understandable that Mrs. Clinton's campaign is not yet aware of it since the story appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Should Hillary fail to secure the nomination by properly employing this critical information against Obama we can count on John McCain doing so in the general election campaign. The source of the scoop was not anonymous, it was the candidate's wife Michelle Obama. Perhaps it was her political naivete that kept her from realizing she should never let something like this slip - but she did. And now, to Barack's personal detriment but possibly also preventing an international embarassment for the United States, we know that a leading candidate for President of the United States is ... shhhhh ... a smoker. From the February 11 WSJ, page A1 (above the fold):
With the Democratic presidential race wide open, Mrs. Obama, a 44-year-old Princeton- and Harvard Law-educated hospital executive, is assuming the same dominant role in Sen. Obama's public life that she has in his private life. At home, she expects a lot of every family member, from having her 6- and 9-year-old daughters set their own alarm clocks to insisting her husband pick up his dirty socks. Her most recent directive to him: Stop smoking.
It's a Democrat political ad makers dream!
I also found something to be personally concerned about in this article:
On a conference call to prepare for a recent debate, Barack Obama brainstormed with his top advisers on the fine points of his positions. Michelle Obama had dialed in to listen, but finally couldn't stay silent any longer.
There is a lot of talk that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will run as a third-party candidate. However, I have a different theory: Bloomberg may be the vice presidential nominee of Barack Obama. They had a highly publicized meeting a couple months ago and despite his harsh criticism of the goverment's stimulus packages, Bloomberg has recently praised Obama for his plan to rebuild infrastructure.
Speaking of Hucksterbee, here is a heartfelt essay about his "conservative principles" from my dear valentine, dagny:
"This is the greatest country in the world. This is true because of IDEAS. The ideas of our founding fathers enumerating in our founding documents are the greatest invention that mankind has managed to date.
Chief among these ideas is the concept of individual liberty and all else flows from that. Anybody have any questions on where I stand?
Now, I have realized for all of my adult life that politicians of both parties in this country wish to infringe my individual liberties. Most of this stuff is included right in their platforms. The Democrats wish to:
1) Take my money (most people call this theft) and give it to those who haven’t earned it.
2) Tell me whether to smoke.
3) What to eat
4) What to drive
5) Indoctrinate me and my children in the ways of Multi-culturalism and Eco-nazism, both of which infringe individual liberties.
6) Refuse to defend the US from foreign threats due to their belief in above doctrines.
7) And perhaps most importantly, TAKE MY GUNS. The second amendment to the constitution is the ONE that is necessary to defend all the rest when times get tough.
The Republicans wish to:
1) Take almost as much of my money as the Democrats (this is known as compassionate conservatism)
2) Trade liberty for security (the Patriot Act). Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY.
3) Spend tax money on, “faith based initiatives.”
4) Include religion in the public schools. Did you know that, “Under God,” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 and was not part of the original?
5) Define marriage.
6) Tell me and my Doctor and my husband whether I can have an abortion and which birth control methods ought to be allowed.
7) Indoctrinate me and my children in the ways of God and faith.
Based on the above, you will note that I am what is normally called fiscally conservative and socially liberal. In fact, my philosophy is internally consistent and based on individual Liberty and the philosophies of both the Democrats and the Republicans are a mish mash of conflicting ideas.
I have always felt like the greater threats to, and successful infringements of my Liberty have come from the Democrats and working on the, “lesser of 2 evils,” theory, I have almost universally voted Republican. I find it extremely sad that I never remember having representatives that I wanted to vote FOR but always many, many, that I wanted to vote AGAINST. Under this theory I can probably cast a ballot in favor of John McCain.
This year, however, the Republicans have in the race and are talking about as a possible Vice President to McCain, Governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee is wrong on at least 12 and maybe 13 of the points I outlined above (many more than Obama.) He represents the WORST ideas of both the Republicans and the Democrats and I will not vote for any ticket that has his name on it. As I believe it is important to vote, I will go and cast a ballot for a Democrat if Huckabee is our nominee.
At least if the disastrous collectivist economic policies of a Democrat throw us into a recession or a revolution, the blame will be placed on the real problem. If the collectivist economic policies of a Republican throw us into a recession, or worse, we will be told that, “capitalism doesn’t work.”
And so…Obama for President."
While I see where she's coming from I can't quite say I'm with her on voting for Obama (or Hillary) even in the extremely unlikely event of a McCain/Hucksterbee ticket.
Hugh Hewitt has made a lot of marginal complaints about Senator McCain (It's almost as if he might be pulling for Governor Romney a little bit), but I have to admit that this one is spot on. I'm glad he supported The Surge and General Petraeus, but his attacks of Secretary Rumsfeld go a little too far:
Only small-minded people think Rumsfeld is other than a great American and patriot, though of course a controversial one. He continues to deserve the respect and thanks of the American people.
I thus wonder whenever Senator McCain snarls out "Rumsfeld" as he does in debate after debate if others beside me find it unsettling and off-putting that there is so much venom there? Rumsfeld was an opponent of McCain's and as a result the contempt the Arizona maverick has for the former SecDef is complete, but it is also unseemly and not in the best traditions of American politics, especially when Rumsfeld has left the field.
I think Rumsfeld was right about modernizing the military and was right about smaller footprints and greater use of smart weapons. I'll concede that he facilitated the plan to wait out the increasing factional violence after the Golden Dome of Samarra bombing, but I don't know that he wasn't getting bad data and advice from the field.
I do get uneasy when Senator McCain goes after a man who has given this country honorable and intelligent service.
The New York Times has endorsed John McCain for the Republican nomination. Well, if you can call it that. The editorial begins:
We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president. The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice.
What discredited economic theories? Free markets? Low taxes? These are not discredited in the least. I would also point out that contrary to popular belief the Democrats have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq and that is one of their stated goals.
Regardless of the content, this isn't likely to play well with conservatives who are already disheartened by Sen. McCain.
I do not understand how candidates do so poorly in state primaries that they do not contest or work toward. I can see your average Iowan or New Hampshireman getting teed off if you don't "work every county." But why did the whole pack do so poorly in Nevada? Why, when Mayor Giuliani was leading the national polls, did he rack up so many single digit finishes?
I know I am hopeless, but it seems that anybody who would bother to vote in a primary would look over all the candidates. Every four years, the masses vote for the tallest guy or the best hair. But primary voters? I know I am showing naiveté, and I've no doubt Bryan Caplan's book will soon be suggested (read it, thanks!) But I am stupefied.
It comes up in a comment thread debate on Samizdata. Dale Amon is happy to see Rep. Paul come in second. From his home in Belfast, Dale sees a glorious awakening of the Libertarians! NED be praised! The commenters swiftly point out that there were only two men in the race, and that Paul actually came in last. The Paulistas, and some Samizdats (Sounds like a Lerner and Lowe Musical...) rejoin that the debates are televised in Nevada and that several members were on the ballot. How can I explain to furreners why a guy who doesn't run ads will not get any votes -- I really don't understand it myself.
I certainly don't object to advocacy for a primary candidate on a blog, but Hugh Hewitt has gone from driving me nuts on immigration to driving me nuts with his being so in the tank for Governor Romney.
I've admitted flaws with my candidate. Grown up politicking to me is finding the best match on your most important issues, then tempering that with pragmatic concerns. It's not the height of idealism, but it keeps me out of the Kucinich caucus. Hewitt posts three to six rah-rah puff pieces a day on Saint Romney from the Commonwealth. I'd have to concede that it has turned me less favorable to Mitt!, whom I admire and have much common ground.
Today, Hugh links to an article on McCain's money woes with the line "Genuine front-runners don't have to crisscross the country with a tin cup days before a crucial primary."
Nope, "genuine" front runners write themselves a check for a bazillion dollars. Of course, others could find interested parties to fund their campaigns if it weren't for campaign finance reform. Whose fault is that? Oh, yeah...
I seriously feel for the Fred!heads around here. One invests in a candidate (unless one's name rhymes with "Schmergeron") and I know your disappointment. My fondest hope is that it dissipates as quickly for you as my support of Rep. John Kasich did in 2000. I hope Senator Thompson's policy proposals carry on and I'd be happy to see him talked into a second spot on the ticket.
But super-duper-most-awesome-primary-tueday-ever Tuesday is on the way, and I would like to pitch Hizzoner as a fallback.
Mayor Giuliani has a deep appreciation of the War. His calling it "The War the Terrorists Declared On Us" lacks pithiness, but displays understanding. Senator McCain shares this depth of conviction, but I do not think he exceeds it. Governors Huckabee and Romney aren't Cindy Sheehans or anything but I do not hear their conviction to the work of our lifetime.
Mayor Giuliani has a deep appreciation for free market economics. He knows that what made cell phones cheap will do wonders for health care. He calls for lower taxes and less regulation. My Prosperitarian heart swoons. Senator McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts. I am glad he is a spending hawk, but we are pricing our country out of the global business market and I am not convinced Senator McCain understands. Governor Romney pushes his business experience and understanding (Ross Perot?) but I have not heard a lot about economics. His mandate for health care in Massachusetts speaks against him.
Senator McCain is an American Hero and would be a superb Commander in Chief. I am troubled by his stands on Global Warming, free speech, ANWR, Guantanamo Bay, and "torture."
Governor Romney has had a good career in the private sector and in government, but he is ultimately a tactician and manager -- not a visionary or ideologue. Washington has a nasty habit of turning those people into consensus politicians and the Governor's career shows a susceptibility to that.
Governor Huckabee has a [oh never mind...]
On the bad side, Rudy is squishy on guns. Reading the WSJ today, it looks like Bush messed up badly. I think Hizzoner would nominate conservative, constructionist judges (he told Larry that he would have been proud to come up with Alito and Roberts as picks -- that's a good sign) and hope he does a good job on Solicitor General. I don't see Romney, Huckabee, or McCain doing any better.
I know he's considered authoritarian by some folks. If you're an ACLU-er maybe he's not your guy. I'm comfortable with strong defense and intelligence. It is hard for me to see any of the others stacking up in security.
You can chuckle or chortle. I'm put at ease at ease by the fact that he is not a moralist. I don't think we'll see Faith Based Initiatives, or abstinence programs, or a marriage amendment out of Rudy. He's not going to throw stones out of his house. All the same, he's not a man who lacks integrity like a President Clinton.
Good foreign policy, good economics. decent on the proper role of government. Likable, electable, hard for his opposition to pigeonhole.
UPDATE: I don't link to Dennis Prager everyday but he has a nice endorsement for Rudy! on Townhall.com.
McLean, VA - Senator Fred Thompson today issued the following statement about his campaign for President:
"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."
I guess $50 bucks each from dagny and I wasn't enough to keep that ol' red truck rolling into Florida.
UPDATE: 14:44 EST - 850 KOA Radio, Denver: Republican Fred Thompson has quit the presidential race, according to a statement. Details at the top of the hour on 850KOA and at 850KOA.com.
UPDATE: 14:50 EST - WSJ NEWS ALERT:
from The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 22, 2008
Fred Thompson dropped out of the Republican presidential race this afternoon after a third-place finish over the weekend in South Carolina's primary and poor performances in other early caucus and primary states. The former Tennessee senator did not say whether he would endorse any of his rivals.
Thompson's departure leaves behind a still-crowded Republican field, with John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee battling for the lead in Florida ahead of that state's Jan. 29 primary.
jk, why on earth do you believe that Hillary will somehow be better than Obama? I see absolutely no difference in their ideology. (I do, however, see a difference in their rhetoric and in their campaign tactics.)
Bill Clinton was a decent president (NAFTA, welfare reform, etc.), however, the things I disliked about him are slowly coming back into focus when watching him out on the campaign trail. The media has called him out for his ridiculous hissy fits, but these outbursts appear to be working.
Can Hillary really win the presidential election? Obama is the voice of the young and the optimistic. A Hillary victory would seem to stamp out the hopefulness of young Democrats.
My prediction (and therefore likely the opposite of what will actually happen) is that the Republican establishment will slowly get behind John McCain. He gave an excellent speech after his victory in South Carolina that included talk of less government, lower taxes, and a prosperous nation free of the "heavy hand of government." It was very Reagan-esque -- without the obligatory mentioning of the Great Communicator.
My views on which candidate to get behind have flip flopped more than Mitt Romney and John Kerry combined. At least -- as judged by the varying primary and caucus results -- I am not alone. Therefore, unlike some others here at Three Sources, I will not endorse a candidate.
This morning I heard that one of the other candidates commented that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document.”
Frankly, I assumed this came from Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. It is identical to what Al Gore said when he was running for President in 2000, when he said he would look for judges “who understand that our Constitution is a living, breathing document, that it was intended by our founders to be interpreted in the light of the constantly evolving experience of the American people.”
Imagine my surprise when I learned that this statement actually came from my opponent, Governor Huckabee, in an interview with CNN this morning. Now I know Governor Huckabee was talking about amending the Constitution, but I don’t think he understood that he was using code words that support judicial activism.
Obama is getting laughs on the campaign trail about the ridiculous statements made by John Edwards and Hillary Clinton at Tuesday's debate:
Obama began by recalling a moment in Tuesday night's debate when he and his rivals were asked to name their biggest weakness. Obama answered first, saying he has a messy desk and needs help managing paperwork - something his opponents have since used to suggest he's not up to managing the country. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others, and Clinton said she gets impatient to bring change to America.
"Because I'm an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, 'What's your biggest weakness?'" Obama said to laughter from a packed house at Rancho High School. "If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, 'Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.'"
"Folks, they don't tell you what they mean!" he said. Obama chuckled at his own joke before riffing on another Clinton answer in the debate, when she said that she is happy that the bankruptcy bill she voted for in 2001 never became law.
"She says, 'I voted for it but I was glad to see that it didn't pass.' What does that mean?" he asked, again drawing laughter from the crowd and himself. "No seriously, what does that mean? If you didn't want to see it passed, then you can vote against it!
I didn't watch the debate, but I saw some highlights and Hillary was particularly nauseating, invoking some of her husband's notorious double-speak tactics. jk may be on board for the Hillary presidency, but I am not, nor will I ever be.
In the Democratic Primary, I have changed my hopes and fears. I had said that for no other than personal reasons, I would prefer to hear good speeches while the last light of civilization and freedom was extinguished. On a more serious note, I saw Senator Obama as malleable -- that he would accept centrist positions once his ambition was sated.
Watching the debates the other night changed that. Senator Clinton was awful, Senator Edwards was frightening. Yet Senator Obama was no safe port. His ability to retain his smug pride at opposing the war in Iraq is not a cause for optimism. He loves to talk about uniting the country, but it is clear from his voting record and his rhetoric that it will be united on the left. He ain't crossing over.
The final nail was Kim Strassel's editorial yesterday (free, free, free, in Rupert's Wall-less Street Journal Ed Page). That eloquence I think I'd enjoy would be in the service of collectivism.
The Obama downside: He's an unknown, a change, a mental shift, for Republicans who'd been gearing up for Mrs. Clinton. He's skillfully tapped into a bitterness with the status quo, and his optimistic message of hope is tough to counter (just ask the tearful Mrs. Clinton). Is Obama-mania at its start, or its peak? The great fear of Republicans is that it's the former.
Mrs. Clinton has a ceiling on her support. No matter how great a race she runs, any victory will be unlikely to result in significant Washington realignment. But Mr. Obama? If he really has tapped into something deep in the American soul, and if he can keep tapping until November, it's conceivable he could bring with him a new wash of Democratic seats that could reshape the Washington political landscape for years to come. That's a big gamble.
If a Democrat is elected and they keep both houses, it will be all out war to keep any economic freedoms (I never claimed I was a uniter). President Hillary Clinton would be easier to oppose. Yaay Hillary! You go, girl!
This is what Bill McIntyre is talking about when he quips “Mike Huckabee looks good from far but is far from good.” Anyone pining for a fiscally and socially conservative Republican is bound to be half-disappointed with Huckabee. In place of a Republican platform, Huckabee unleashed his own clean living, egalitarian enthusiasms on the people of Arkansas with the zeal of a personal trainer. He had an agenda for improving institutions: He poured money into public schools and raised taxes to fix the state’s dilapidated highways. But he also had an agenda for improving people: He signed the Clean Air act, banishing smoking from all workplaces just as he had banned it from his own, and launched a “Healthy Arkansas Initiative” to combat smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. He started ArKids First a multimillion dollar plan to insure poor kids. The governor, who plays guitar in his band, Capitol Offense, passed legislation providing arts and music education for every public school kid in grades one through six.
Huckabee clearly had a vision, and he did not endear himself to the state’s conservatives by jacking up taxes to make that vision reality. Randy Minton, a former Republican legislator from Cabbot, calls him a “pro-life, pro-gun liberal.”
The Glenn and Helen Show interviews Hizzoner by phone on the campaign trail and gets some good answers for gun rights, against flex-fuel mandates (which Glenn is pretty high on), for private health care, not bashing pharmaceutical (or other) corporations. Good stuff!
The first eight minutes are Rudy! and the rest features Clinton-advisor Gene Sperling's Pro-growth, progressive economics (on which I am less keen).
Four days ago I wondered aloud if conservatives should hold their nose and support McCain as the best hope of defeating the Democrat nominee (Obama in particular.) I questioned my assertion the day before that "only Thompson has the charisma to challenge Obama."
Tell us how you -- rather than your opponents -- would be better able to beat either New York Sen. Hillary Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the fall. You told the Iowans you were, but you need to tell us all now. Why you, and not Mitt or Mike or Rudy or John? Preview your fall campaign by attacking the centers of liberalism as you did in Iowa, and connect each one of them to the liberals you’ll be running against.
Even before reading this I realized I should not be guided in my choice by fear of losing to the Democrat. If there's a candidate who nearly completely shares my principles he must receive my support. Human Events agrees:
We like the way Thompson unhesitatingly attacks the liberal ideologues and their activists such as MoveOn.org and the ACLU, and the way he reaches out to those we knew as the Reagan Democrats.
The question now is whether Sen. Thompson will do what he has not yet done: Take the advantages he is given by his intelligence, his principles, his political skills and this endorsement and make the best use of them.
As the primaries and debates speed by, we would like to see Sen. Thompson continue to invigorate his campaign to carry him successfully through Tsunami Tuesday and to nomination at the Republican convention.
Fred doesn't just agree with these principles, he's not ashamed of them or afraid to defend them. Liberalism is, in large measure, in retreat. Now is the time to go for the philosophical jugular.
If he loses and we get a Democrat instead then we can run around for four years with bumper stickers that say, THOMPSON TOLD YOU SO.
Holman Jenkins has some kind words for Senator Fred Thompson in today's Political Diary, though he couches them (fairly) in concern for the campaign:
Fred Thompson is emerging as the policy intellectual of the Republican race, making all the sadder his lack of financing and organization.
His deconstruction of the country's health care woes was nothing short of impressive by campaign standards in the New Hampshire debate. Last night in South Carolina, he reframed the immigration argument with deft strokes, saying the problem of 12 million illegals would gradually solve itself if Washington gained control of the borders, gave employers a biometric way to confirm the legality of employees, etc. "If we did those things, we would have enforcement by attrition."
Translation: Stop worrying about those who are here. That's a backward-looking focus. His "high fences and wide gates," Mr. Thompson's expression of how immigration policy ought to be organized, hit just the right note.
His summary of the economy's current skittish state was also masterful and more complete than any other candidate's, concluding: "We would all be a lot better off if people knew that these tax cuts of '01 and '03 were not going to expire at the end of 2010, which they're scheduled to do."
Mr. Thompson's stage presence is what you'd expect from his risumi. His ability to speak persuasively about policy in paragraphs is the unexpected revelation. A focus group organized by pollster Frank Luntz for Fox News (which hosted last night's debate) began the evening with only two Thompson supporters. By the end, he was judged the winner in a landslide.
I was surprised at how firmly Thompson went after Gov. Huckabee last night. I'll agree he did well, but I do not see the landslide. He cemented his #2 spot on my list last night with a strong performance.
But Hizzoner showed some of the ideals that attracted me to him in the first place. To grow the economy by (he always counts on his fingers) "Reducing Taxes, Reducing Regulation, and Reducing Litigation."
The debate went a little over, and my TiVo cut out when he was giving his immigration answer. I'll assume it was bad, but my only choices are McCain and the Democrats. Thompson's "high fence and wide gates" is a good line -- I like the wide gates and the rest of ThreeSourcers like the high fence. The South Carolinians wanted red meat on immigration. My train has left the GOP station.
In the end, I see Mayor Giuliani and Senator Thompson as having supply-side economics sufficiently hard wired to ensure my support, Senator McCain doesn't get it. But he would be a great Commander in Chief, is a man of great integrity, and most closely matches me on trade and immigration.
Governors Romney and Huckabee continue to slip. Both have too much faith in government, and now Governor Romney is responding to Huckabee's success by becoming "Huck Lite," letting populism creep in to his rhetoric. Huckabee is hopeless, but got the biggest applause lines out of the crowd in Myrtle Beach.
I commented below about Rep. Paul. Who cares about the newsletters. I will be happy not voting for him because he is ready to throw Israel to the wolves. Yet he can't muster a libertarian position in immigration and thinks we are broke because we borrow.
Thanks to The New Republic, libertarians who weren't paying attention in the 1990s, don't read Texas Monthly, and didn't do their candidate research have now discovered that Ron Paul said--or, more likely, allowed to be said in his name (probably by Lew Rockwell)--nasty things in his newsletters. Much reaction can be found at Hit & Run, as well as Andrew Sullivan's blog and The Volokh Conspiracy. The disclosures are not news to me, nor is the Paul campaign's dismissive reaction a surprise. When you give your political heart to a guy who spends so much time worrying about international bankers, you're not going to get a tolerant cosmopolitan.
Also, respected Austrian economist Steve Horwitz's opinion is here. It is a fair and comprehensive take on this discovery.
Wednesday night I received a phone call. It was an automated poll regarding the Republican primary in my home state. The poll first asked my opinion of President Bush. Then, the call asked which issue I thought was more important, taxes or abortion? I answered taxes and heard the following:
"Are you aware that Mitt Romney did not support the 2003 Bush tax cuts? On the other hand Mike Huckabee has supported the tax cuts from the beginning. Given..."
I promptly hung up the phone. I was "push polled" by the Huckabee campaign. I am sure that when the local newspapers get wind of this, he will disavow any knowledge, but this is of little solace to me. Huckabee has run a sneaky, dirty, and populist campaign and it disgusts me. He pretends that his message is the future vision of the Republican Party and perhaps that is true, but that is not party that I will be a part of. While these Huck-a-Whacks began in playful jest, his campaign has successfully removed me from the sidelines to vote against him.
The Ron Paul Newsletter story fascinates. My first interest is in how little interest it has generated. I read it on ThreeSources (way to scoop, hb!) and did not see another word about until Glenn Reynolds linked to Ann Althouse at 3:21 PM. In an immediate gratification blogosphere, a story this big about the Internet's favorite candidate lies dormant for 15 hours? I thought it might be lack of credibility of TNR, but Brian Doherty suggests it might be Ron Paul.
This whole scandal is, for one thing, a sobering reminder to Paul fans exactly how little any of his opponents cared about him up until now, given that none of their opposition research brought any of this to serious public attention
Yeah, that Sen. Chris Dodd sex-with-turnips thing didn't attract a lot of press either...
Doherty’s post disappoints me with his readiness to defend something that seems pretty indefensible:
It is certainly worth remembering on this tense day for those who have admired Paul as a politician and as a voice in this campaign that, as his clear to anyone paying close attention to either his presidential campaign message (or his message through most of his congressional career) or to the concerns of the bulk of his current fans, that racial or anti-gay animus has zero to do with Ron Paul's campaign or its appeal [..] It is also worth remembering that every single other candidate is a fervent believer in policies that cause far more harm to far more innocent black people (the drug war) than old ghostwritten words that insult Martin Luther King, or insult rioters in racial terms, ever could.
He's sellin' but I'm not buyin'. I'd suggest that Doherty read an excellent book by [wait for it...] Brian Doherty. Radicals For Capitalism has 700 pages of this story -- and he doesn't get it. The liberty movement is a sequence of brave visionaries who had great ideas. But almost all of them had such extreme character flaws or communication deficiencies. They inspired a hundred cults, but not one of them inspired a movement. Compare William F. Buckley to Lew Rockwell.
I think the liberty movement can lay claim to great thinkers: I'll take Mises and Hayek and Bastiat against anybody in a Philosophy cage match. But, to go back to the Buckley example, Buckley chased the loonies out of the Conservative movement. Once the John Birchers were gone, there was comfort for a much larger group of less marginal thinkers.
I have zero invested in Rep. Paul and know he has some fans around here. But this really is the same story. He doesn't chase the 9/11 thruthers out of his "movement," he doesn't disavow the Nazis. Sounds pretty consistent with a guy named Ron Paul who doesn't bother to read what's said in the "Ron Paul Newsletter."
Full disclosure: I have always been a big fan of consumption taxes. I gave a few small donations to CATS a few years ago, and I signed up on the FairTax email list. You can call me a flip-flopper (he'll never be President!) if you want, but I claim I have "grown." As I mentioned, if you gave me a time machine, I'd go back to the early 20th Century and tell them it would be better. But the existence of the 16th Amendment makes it a complete non-starter.
Blog Brother Harrison Bergeron linked to a Brad DeLong takedown of the fair tax. I join frequent commenter Perry Eidlebus in questioning Mr. DeLong. I will offer another devastating takedown of the FairTax. NRO columnist and often-times Kudlow guest Jerry Bower has a guest Editorial in the WSJ today called Fair Tax Flaws. He finds a few (paid link):
Small vendors often fail to withhold sales taxes. Buyers cheat on sales taxes now. They often fail to pay taxes on interstate catalogue sales. They buy some goods in black markets.
This doesn't happen much because sales taxes are much lower than income taxes, but if that were reversed, consumers would cheat more. Look at cigarettes. Organized crime sells smokes on the black market in jurisdictions that impose high cigarette taxes.
There is a large category of economic activity designed to avoid sales taxes -- it's called smuggling. We don't hear that word much anymore, because we're not a sales-tax or tariff-based system anymore. Increase sales taxes to a combined state and federal 30%, up from a state-based 6% now, and watch the dodging begin.
The immigrant stuff is nonsense on stilts. Let me ask you this: If they're here illegally, why won't they also buy and sell goods on the black market?
Then there's the complexity argument. You don't think the lobbyists and lawyers will get involved in this, looking for exemptions on houses, medical services and education? You're going to put a 30% tax on my home purchase, and my doctor visits and my kids' tuition? Yeah, great idea.
None of this matters anyway. We will never make this change. The 16th Amendment will not be repealed in favor of a tax vigorously opposed by an army of restaurants, pubs and retail stores. It's hard to get good ideas through the ratification process; imagine how hard it would be to push this stinker. In point of fact, the FairTax serves one main purpose right now: It gives Mr. Huckabee the chance to sum up his economic plan in one line. And that just doesn't seem, well, fair.
The idea that there will no enforcement required is truly disingenuous. I'd add a thought from Perry's comment to hb's post: the Income Tax was pretty simple when it was instituted, look what happened in a hundred years. Congress will seek money and power -- a simple change of collection points will not stop that.
Blog brother johngalt is rightly concerned about the charismatic front runner of the Democratic Party in an obviously Democrat leaning year. I don't wish to instill complacency but I don't think it is yet time for despondence. (Keep watching this blog, we will try to tell you exactly when to panic.)
Senator Obama's victory over the Clinton machine is impressive if not quite complete. The tactician in me would like to see a protracted primary season where they both spend their war chests taking each other down. However, I tried the same trick in the ALCS, hoping that the Indians and Red Sox would tire each other. I regretted that too-clever-by-half sentiment before the Sox had evened the series.
This time I will be careful what I wish for. If Senator Clinton loses by 15 points tonight and quits in a fit of tears and four letter words, as one commenter on anothe blog said "pass the popcorn."
Yes, Senator Obama has energized primary voters. No, I don't want to take anything away from his achievement of 80,000 new voters in Iowa (which, one TV pundit pointed out, has "fewer black people than 'The Beatles'" But, in a general election, he will have a tough time portraying himself as a moderate. The antiwar applause lines will all become liabilities. The lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal today offers a look: (free link)
Over the past 12 months, U.S. troops in Iraq have risen every day and gone to work, dangerous work, implementing General David Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy. The surge. Across the political spectrum, observers have announced the surge a success. This achievement must be a source of enormous pride to the U.S. soldiers and Marines who have pulled it off.
So what we take away from the four Democratic Presidential candidates' stunning display of misinformation and false statements about the surge Saturday evening is that they have simply stopped thinking about Iraq. They seem to have concluded that opposition to the war permits them to literally not know what the U.S. or the Iraqis are doing there. As the nation commences the selection of an American President, this is a phenomenon worth noting.
Barack Obama is of a sudden the front-runner, so his view of the surge merits the closest look. His first assertion echoed what has become a standard line by the war's opponents, that "we have not made ourselves safer as a consequence." What can this possibly mean? In more than six years there hasn't been one successful terrorist attack on the U.S., even as places elsewhere were hit or actively targeted.
He's got a lot going for him, but the things against him will not show up until he faces Republican opposition. Chins up people -- as the song says, It's a long long way from January to November (or something like that...)
On Tucker Carlson's show 45 minutes ago, The New Republic's Jamie Kirchick alleged that Ron Paul called Martin Luther King a "gay pedophile," and stuffed 20 years' worth of "Ron Paul" newsletters full of "racist, anti-semitic, homophobic invective."
Kirchick, whose story for TNR (along with screen-shots of the newsletters themselves) are scheduled to go up at midnight EDT, said that Paul "called black people animals," and spoke at a "pro-secessionist conference." In teeing up the segment, Carlson, who was skeptical about some of Kirchick's claims, reported that the Paul campaign has apologized for the content of the newsletters to both Kirchick and Carlson.
I listened to Rush Limbaugh today (something a bit out of the ordinary) and I was struck by the number of evangelicals who called the program to tell Rush that he was destroying the conservative movement and that Mike Huckabee was the conservative candidate. Rush called the litany of calls a strategic effort by the Huckabee campaign and perhaps that is true, but the phone calls really got me riled up.
The particular callers asserted two fundamental reasons why conservatives should vote for the Huckster. First, was the claim that he is the only true social conservative was Huckabee. I don't necessarily care about this, but in any case, they apparently have never heard of this Thompson fella.
The second point was that Huckabee wants to eliminate the IRS and create a much more "fair" tax code. This is preposterous. Huckabee's Fair Tax is a scam. I'll let Brad DeLong do the heavy lifting:
Huckabee says that the FairTax would mean a 23 percent sales tax rate on all items. First of all, the real tax rate proposed is 30 percent. The FairTax would add 30 cents to every dollar spent, but since 30 cents is 23 percent of $1.30, the FairTaxers call the rate 23 percent.
Second, and more important, both conservative and liberal economists believe the real rate would end up even higher. Estimates of the actual rate of taxation required for the FairTax to be "revenue neutral" (meaning for it to bring in exactly the same amount of revenue that the federal government collects under the current system) start at 30 percent and keep climbing. William Gale of the liberal Brookings Institution think tank says it's a de facto 44 percent sales tax. Calculations go still higher once you add in all the necessary and politically inevitable exemptions on big-ticket items -- like a new home or hospital care. Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, which draws members from both parties and both houses, says the real rate would be 57 percent. (And this leaves aside the enormous federal outlay required by the "prebates," which even FairTax advocates say would cost the government $485 billion per year.)
I said the other day that I did not plan to vote. I am so enraged at the Huckster and his minions that I am considering changing my mind.
I guess it is McCain day at ThreeSources: appropriate the day before New Hampshire's primary. And, perhaps, appropriate as some ThreeSourcers might be reevaluating their candidates now that the primaries are in full swing.
Larry Kudlow points to some serious supply-side endorsements for the Arizona Senator:
[Jack] Kemp would join former Sen. Phil Gramm as key McCain economic advisors. As I noted in an earlier post, Phil Gramm is the quintessential free-market advocate. He spent a career in the House and Senate limiting government spending, taxing, and regulating.
Both Kemp and Gramm are strong free-trade supporters. Gramm was also the original sponsor of the Reagan tax-and-spending cuts back in 1981 in the Gramm-Latta bill reported out of the House. That bill incorporated Jack Kemp’s original proposal to slash personal tax rates by 30 percent across the board.
Down through the years, Jack Kemp has been a tireless advocate of economic growth through supply-side tax reform and free trade. Getting him on board is a real coup for Sen. McCain.
In a recent political discussion, I was asked whom I would support for President if I were not limited to those running and I picked Phil Gramm. I have always been a fan of Kemp, though he did do some unsavory work for some Latin American despots a while back.
I don't think either of these are huge vote swingers in 2008, but they should not be ignored (especially by a Prosperitarian).
Every time I think I can support Senator McCain because of his capacity to be Commander-in-Chief, I spill across something like this
I missed this but kept on hearing about how well Governor Romney did, so I dug this up on YouTube. McCain is probably the best on trade and certainly the best on immigration (for a Prosperitarian), but this is a deal breaker. If we want John Edwards to be President, get the real one -- he has much better hair!
I half expected, half hoped that someone would challenge my assertion [first comment] that "...only Thompson has the charisma to challenge Obama..." In retrospect, I think that charisma appeals more to my vision of the average American than to the purple reality of such. This thought is buttressed by the American Thinker's Richard Baehr who writes, "Only McCain can beat Obama." Here's the money line:
Many Republicans are not enamored of the Arizona Senator, of course. He is, to be sure, an imperfect Republican. But if only McCain can win for the party in November, Republicans might want to really consider carefully if they want to choose a candidate with greater ideological purity and the President Obama that will go with it.
No doubt many Three Sources readers and bloggers missed the debate as they frantically watched for the results of the Wyoming caucus last night. Okay, in all seriousness, for some reason I chose to watch the debates last night. Here are my thoughts:
Fred! won the Republican debate. More and more, I think he should be the nominee.
McCain's cheap shots at Romney made him look petty -- as did Huckabee's.
The Republicans swarmed Romney, apparently smelling blood in the water. Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani went at him pretty hard. Ironically, I think that this made Romney look better because he was under constant attack.
Huckabee came across as likable. It is too bad that he is a populist, tax-and-spend hack.
Why does Ron Paul refer to the war in every question? He has a chance to be very strong on economic issues with conservatives, but he always circles back to the war. He did, however, have a great quote that was apparently aimed at our own jk:
I'll be glad to answer that question because it's something I talk about all the time and it's a very important question. The Wall Street Journal yesterday had a very good chart that explains this. If you look at the price of oil in the last 10 years, if you look at it in terms of dollars, it went up 350 percent. If you look at it in Euros, it went up about 200 percent. If you look at it in the price of gold, it stayed flat. It's the inflation, it's the printing of money, it's the destruction of the value of the dollar.
It may take until the convention to find a Republican nominee.
On the Democratic side, Hillary looked desperate. She attacked Obama for trumpeting "change", but not having any beef behind the rhetoric.
Ironically, it was John Edwards who came to Obama's aid, criticizing Hillary as the "status quo".
Why is Richardson still there? He doesn't even perform well in the debates.
If Obama wins Tuesday, I don't think Hillary can recover.
George Will delivers today's Huck-a-Whack in the pages of the Washington Post and his syndicated column. A friend called me this morning to make sure I saw it. You must read the whole thing, but here's a whetting excerpt, comparing Senator Edwards and Governor Huckabee:
According to Edwards, the North Carolina of his youth resembled Chechnya today -- "I had to fight to survive. I mean really. Literally." Huckabee, a compound of Uriah Heep, Elmer Gantry and Richard Nixon, preens about his humble background: "In my family, 'summer' was never a verb." Nixon, who maundered about his parents' privations and his wife's cloth coat, followed Lyndon Johnson, another miscast president whose festering resentments and status anxieties colored his conduct of office. Here we go again?
Huckabee fancies himself persecuted by the Republican "establishment," a creature already negligible by 1964, when it failed to stop Barry Goldwater's nomination. The establishment's voice, the New York Herald Tribune, expired in 1966. Huckabee says that "only one explanation" fits his Iowa success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people." God so loves Huckabee's politics that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf? Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?
Will may actually lead the "Republican Establishment" he claims dead since the 1960s, but this is a fantastic column.
How can a co-Huck-a-Whacker find his sunny optimism when the good people of Iowa have given "the Parsin' Parson" a huge victory?
We haven't done enough Romneywhacking around here, but the author of RomneyCare is a danger to freedom lovers. His positions are more acceptable to me that Governor Huckabee's, but Governor Romney has an electoral viability I still don't see in the Man from Hope. I say the Huckabee win damages Romney and leaves the field open for Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain -- all of whom I rank far above Romney or Huckabee.
There is more danger of Huckabee causing a schism in the party than of his getting the party nod. I would not like to see him pile up delegates, but this one-off win in Iowa may be just the stumbling block needed to stop the Romney Juggernaut (that's the big truck with the dog on top).
On the Democrat side, a third place finish for the Junior Senator from New York has put joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Clinton will have to punch, scratch and veer left to get the nomination. She'll either not get it (my current prediction) or will be badly damaged.
A great day for freedom. Senator Obama is no friend to capitalism and made a huge lurch closer to the Presidency, but if we must have a Democrat, he's my choice. His victory speech was fatuous, but Edwards's and Clinton's were scary. Austan Goolsbee still has some of that Chicago drinking fountain water in him. The Republic would survive.
On to New Hampshire! I think JohnGalt needs to start the predictions.
I had a dentist appointment this morning (quite ironic given the fact that the Republican caucus was somewhat akin to a root canal last night). Therefore I am going to outsource today's Huck-a-Whack to Stephen Green:
Dear Iowa Republicans,
I’ll put this in language even your tiny little Iowa brains can understand: What the f*** is wrong with you people?
The news coming out of Des Moines (literally, French for “tell me about the rabbits, George”) tonight is distressing in the extreme. 32 years ago, your Democratic brethren took one look at Jimmy Carter -- the worst 20th Century President bar Nixon, and the worst ex-President ever -- and declared, “That’s our man!”
Three decades later, and along comes Mike Huckabee. Same moral pretentiousness, same gullibility on foreign affairs, only-slightly-less toothy idiot’s grin. Then you so-called Republicans took a look at Carter’s clone and said, “That’s our man, too!”
Some were so anxious to get Bushitler out of the White House they launched the 2008 race last January. For the rest of us, it begins with today's Iowa caucuses. And with 92% of precincts reporting the "winners"* are:
* I put winners in scare quotes because "Since the state [Iowa] jumped to the front of the line in 1972, only once has a winner in a contested race gone on to the presidency: George W. Bush in 2000."LA Times via FreeRepublic.com
There was much excitement when Senator Barack Obama picked Austan Goolsbee as a lead economic advisor. A Chicago guy in the Democratic Party! Big news.
Sadly, he is (or has become) a Democrat shill and an academic voice for conventional wisdom. Professor Mankiw links to this video where Professor Goolsbee is well challenged by CNBC staff (without Kudlow, no less!) but is happy to parrot the Democratic boilerplate of zero-savings rate, middle class squeeze, and readiness to impose a huge tax on the productive rich because "they're not the ones being hurt in this."
Kudos to the guy who says "Milton Friedman must be spinning in his grave!" It's indeed a pretty dark day for the storied Chicago Economics Department.
Lifted from the OpinionJournalPoliticalDiary: Brendan Miniter writes about "The Kidney Puncher From Hope," echoing a(n) Harrison Bergeron theme:
With his folksy demeanor and speeches peppered with biblical references, Mike Huckabee comes across as a politician above the rough and tumble of normal politics. But he's begun to show himself every bit as crafty in using a compliant media as another slick operator from Hope, Ark. -- Bill Clinton.
Journalists were central players in Mr. Huckabee's now-legendary backhanded hit job on Monday against Mitt Romney, and they knew it. When Mr. Huckabee told reporters at his press conference that he would show them an attack ad he had decided not to run, the room erupted in laughter. The ad hammered Mr. Romney on taxes and for creating a "$50 copay" for abortions in Massachusetts. At the press conference, Mr. Huckabee declared: "We told you we'd give you a copy of it. We are not." Instead he claimed he had decided to refrain from the negative campaigning that might turn off Iowa voters in his neck-and-neck race with Mr. Romney. Of course, the ad immediately was rebroadcast all over Iowa as part of the news coverage. It's available on YouTube too.
Bottom line: Mr. Huckabee didn't have to spend a dime while landing a punch designed to damage his chief rival with Iowa's socially conservative GOP caucus goers. At the same time, with the media's help, he burnished a faux image of being above such traditional brass-knuckle methods. Mr. Huckabee launched his campaign for president last year saying that no one knows the Clintons and their political tactics as well as he does. In Iowa this week, that became clear.
No doubt, most of you have probably heard this story, but I was struck with how Clinton-esque Huckabee's attacks on Romney have become:
In a surprise move, Mike Huckabee said today that he won't air negative ads against Mitt Romney.
Claiming that he changed his mind this morning, Huckabee told reporters gathered in anticipation of seeing the spots that he would no longer attack Romney off the air, either, and would run a positive campaign in the final days before the caucuses.
But Huckabee still aired the ad he cut yesterday in which he criticized Romney on fiscal matters, gun control, law and order, and abortion.
Additionally, Huckabee spoke surrounded by five placards on easels leveling the same attacks in print on Romney.
Asked to explain the pledge to stay positive with his decision to still show the ad and display the oppo, Huckabee said his staff hadn't known of his decision until minutes before the event and that he only showed the negative spot to prove that he had actually cut one and had made this decision.
If you replace "Huckabee" with "Clinton" the narrative would still fit pretty well. Is there something in the water in Arkansas?
It seems the Governor's play of "we have this awesome negative ad that shows what a lying, cheating, fornicating weasel my opponent Mitt Romney is, but we are way too nice to show it" has not been well-received.
I come to whack the Governor, not bury him. His response lists the positive things he stands for:
I believe in the Human Life Amendment and will work tirelessly for it's passage.
I believe the FairTax is the best way to unleash our economy in the 21st century.
I believe and have always supported the passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
I believe we must secure our borders, end amnesty and end sanctuary cities.
I believe our country must be energy independent.
I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. Radical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life.
I believe in the Surge.
And I believe that Americans aren't interested in politics that divide us, they want their leaders to focus on what will lift them up and make things better.
I almost forgot that today in the face of the withering barrage of criticism we have endured over the last few weeks from my rivals. I say almost, because our negative ad won't run.
I know we believe in the same things. It is these things, these ideas, that have bound us together in this campaign for President. These ideas are why you first became interested in me and these ideas are why I am running for President. Let everyone know, that we are campaigning for these ideas and that we are working overtime to lift America up.
I believe in the possessive version of "its" and will work tirelessly to promote it's [sic] proper use. (Cheap shot from a guy who types like me, but he has staff!)
I'll pass on the life Amendment. I'll work to overturn Roe v Wade, but then let's leave it to the States.
I believe consumption taxes would have been a better choice. If I get a time machine, I'll go back to 1908 and campaign for it. Considering the 16th Amendment, I give up. Maybe it's the way Governor Huckabee tells the story, but I find I have lost interest.
I believe government should be less involved in marriage, not more.
I believe the market should dictate energy use, I'm not going to grow my own food, I don't expect my country to generate all of its energy.
I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. Radical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life. And I believe in the surge, making me two-for-two with the Governor. Yet how does this comport with his claim that the chief prosecutor of the war and the ultimate commander of the Surge has "damaged this country with a bunker mentality?"
I believe I should probably lay off the Governor, and engage in a more positive and uplifting blogging experience.
Rep. Ron Paul graces the cover of Reason magazine this month, and the good Doctor gets a positive story inside by Brian Dougherty. The Wall Street Journal reports that the campaign raised $19 million in the fourth quarter.
I have been dismissive of the campaign, suggesting that the support has been quirky. I called the one-day fundraising records "gimmicks." After reading the Reason article, it occurs to me that I need to address why I will not be joining the Ron Paul Revolution. In a way, I have been waiting many years for such a candidate. "I don't want to run your life. I don't want to run the world." Shrink the government to its Constitutional size and purview. Why am I not onboard?
I guess my problem is the Constitution that Rep. Paul so ably defends. I agree with Paul on 80% of the issues. I agree with President George Bush on far less, I agree with Mayor Giuliani on less. Don't you pick the candidate with whom you most agree?
I'd open Ron's well-thumbed Constitution to Article I. The things with which I disagree most are clearly under Executive power. President Paul could close all our bases in the MidEast between Jell-O shots at the first Inauguration Ball. (This is not to say that he would drink Jell-O shots or close all our bases, but he could.)
President Nixon took us off Bretton Woods; I'm guessing that President Paul could put us back on a gold peg by Executive Order or indirectly through his nomination of a Fed Chairman. So, he takes a break from the nude Twister® game at the second Inaugural Ball, and he has already instituted the two policies I object to. We've withdrawn from the War on Terror and gone mettalist. And Sally Quinn is still sober! (This is not to say that President Paul would be playing nude Twister at an Inaugural Ball, but he could!)
The hangovers have worn off, and President Paul takes the rest of his ambitious agenda (the 80% I like) to the 111th Congress. He sits down with Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi and explains "we’re going to stop collecting taxes and paying welfare." "We're going to take all the young people off Social Security, Harry." "We're going to stop SCHIP, Nancy, It's not constitutional."
Am I the only one who remembers the howls from the AARP and the Republican controlled Congress when President Bush asked "Pretty please, could we take a couple of percent of young workers' withholdings for private accounts?" How about when President Bush wanted to expand SCHIP by only $35 billion." Dead. On. Arrival. He could veto some bills, but the 535 wanna-be-incumbents would plow him down.
With the Iowa caucuses taking place on Thursday, I thought that it would be fun (ex post, with a great deal of laughing) for bloggers and readers to make predictions about the results of the Iowa caucus as well as the ultimate nominations. While I am usually pretty good at predicting presidential victories, I am terrible at these types of predictions and thus this should provide some entertainment. With that being said, here are my predictions:
(Upset special: Ron Paul will do better in Iowa than Rudy)
...with Clinton and Romney emerging as the ultimate candidates for their respective parties.
When is a scandal not a scandal? Maybe when a company provides advice to another company selling a legal product.
Mayor Giuliani was on Kudlow & Co, last night. Too bad for him, Larry is off this week. CNBC's John Harwood was auditioning for Chris Matthews's job, asking Hizzoner several questions about this NY Times report. Pretty damning stuff: "Under Attack, Drug Maker Turned to Giuliani for Help."
I think Purdue Pharma was just exercising its Constitutional right to PR (Article VIII, Paragraph xix). The Times, and Harwood, feel that some abuse of a painkiller precludes any responsible people working for the company. I had to go searching for this story this morning to see what he was talking about. Nobody else was talking about it because it is a non-story.
Bad enough to manufacture a scandal against a political candidate, it's part and parcel of the war against the pharmaceutical sector. People are in pain, and firms that develop and distribute products that help should be celebrated, not vilified. Even for the Times, this is bad.
Club for Growth (Club for Greed in Huckaspeech) links to the Politico Populist Quiz. Every question is multiple choice. Did Senator Edwards or Governor Huckabee say:
1. “No young person is more equal than another person because he has a higher IQ, or a higher net worth, or because he lives in a nicer home, or his clothes have a label of a designer that the other guy doesn’t have. That’s not what gives us equality.”
2. “There is unfortunately some disconnect between people who have never struggled and those for whom everyday life is a struggle.”
3. “The richest people in America are getting richer. The big corporations’ profits are going through the roof. What is happening to the middle class? What is happening to working people in this country?”
4. “Is it still possible that this country will elect a president not because he had the most money but because he really did represent the most of the ordinary Americans in this nation who understand what it’s like to live to work to try to raise a family? And for many Americans, it’s working with no net underneath us.”
5. “This election is about right and wrong. This election is about what is moral and what is not. … It is immoral to have veterans going to sleep under bridges. It is immoral to have children whose parents have to fend for health care at the hospital. This is not America.”
6. “I’ve been concerned for some time about the fact that the economic growth in the country seems to be completely concentrated at the top, with big corporations and the richest Americans, and middle-class families are struggling.”
7. “There’s nothing unique about me. Virtually everyone in this room has a parent or a grandparent who struggled and sacrificed, and they worked for you, and they did that for a reason. We can’t have that taken away.”
8. “For my family, summer was never a verb. We summered in hay fields and chicken yards and all kinds of stuff."
Answers and bonus holiday question at Politico. (I got six out of eight).
I hope the Governor enjoyed his Christmas off. I thought of letting the spirit of Christmas pervade me and setting aside the Quotidian Huck-a-Whack® Then I saw this:
But as Huckabee now mounts his closing argument for the Iowa caucuses, he has moved full bore into the rhetoric of economic populism. "I am out to change the Republican Party. It needs changing. It needs to be inclusive of all those people across America for whom this party should stand," he said Sunday, on CBS's Face The Nation. On the trail, he speaks regularly of challenging the "Washington to Wall Street power axis." He frankly acknowledges the suffering of the stagnating middle class, and even offers up government as a part of the solution. "The President ought to be aware that the people struggle," he said in Muscatine on Friday morning. "He ought to be aware every time a decision is made — whether [or not] it's to raise taxes — how it's going to hurt the family out there, who can barely pay the grocery bill as it is."
At some of these events, if you close your eyes, you would think a Democrat was speaking — Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton turned southern Baptist. "I really think that a lot of people who are elected to government forget," Huckabee will say. "They are not elected to the ruling class but to the servant class."
Hat-tip: Hugh, who says The GOP does not need changing. I don't know about that, but I cannot argue with his follow up:
What the GOP definitely does not need is neopopulism, class warfare, and identity politics of the sort Mike Huckabee has been selling the last four weeks. Huckabee's lunge left may not have been premeditated, but it clearly displayed a candidate with no anchor in the GOP's tradition of fiscal restraint, free trade and low taxes and a very limited understanding of the world's most dangerous forces.
I also agree with Hugh's close. This may sell in Iowa, but this is not a winning GOP strategy.
I'm prepared to take Christmas Day off, not sure about hb.
But this is Christmas Eve, and Larry Kudlow has shared some thoughts on Governor Huckabee which closely match my own:
[W]hen I had Governor Huckabee on, what was it, last week or the week before, I had a bout with him. I went at it. He wants to, if need be, have government regulate salaries. I think he’s crazy. I don’t think he understands the free market business system. He’s not good on taxing, he’s not good on spending, he’s not good on free trade. In other words, all the prosperity factors seem to be Mr. Huckabee’s weakness. I don’t think he understands it. He’s just out of tune with all measures of free market, supply side economics. You know, it isn’t his religion, and I admire his religion. I personally am a man of faith. I regard myself as an Evangelical, the fact is. But it’s not his religion, it’s his positions. Condi Rice came out of the State Department. Hell, I haven’t seen her in about a month or two. She came out and attacked him because of his [naiveté] on dealing in international affairs with Iran and others. He doesn’t seem to understand power politics, and that we are in a jihadist global war.
Just what the Doctor ordered. An aggressive host egging him on in a TV interview. Cramer makes Rep. Paul look quite reserved and presidential.
Congressional oversight from our 535 expert central bankers is the answer? I'll definitely choose a gold peg over that. The Fed Chairman is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
The longest tenure for a Fed Chairman is 18 years, 9 months, and 29 days (I'll take FOMC for 600 Alex), served by William McChesney Martin Jr. from 1951 to 1970. We were under Bretton-Woods the whole time, it's no wonder he was not exhausted.
The position requires a certain freedom from politics. More Congressional oversight? No thanks.
George Will doesn't like him. Neither, apparently, does Rush Limbaugh. The Bush wing of the party now apparently distrusts him. He hasn't done well by Drudge (at least so far) and today even Peggy Noonan has her reservations.
The good news for Mike Huckabee is that he's doing one hell of a job of reuniting significant portions of the old Reagan coalition. The bad news is that it's increasingly arrayed against him.
You may recall that The Onion recently reported that the top issue of the campaign is bullshit. Joel Achenbach apparently got the memo as he writes:
I heard the other day that Mitt Romney is so careful with his weight that he will pick the cheese off his pizza. Then I heard from another source that he eats pizza with a knife and fork. That's two sources, two angles: That's practically confirmation.
I just can't imagine the American people electing as president someone who does that to pizza. I'm not saying a president has to have a special knack for eating pizza - what you call "pizza talent" - but he or she has to respect the pizza, and look comfortable with it.
You want, as a voter, to be able to say, "He looks like he knows his way around a pizza."
There really is practically nothing worse about campaign coverage than Beltway elites imagining how "reglar folks" live and eat and then demanding that presidential candidates pretend that they're just like that!
Who the f**k cares how Mitt Romney eats his pizza?
Just kill me.
Patrick Ruffini remains a shining star over at Hugh Hewitt's site. I like Hewitt but his (may I call it Nativism?) and his unabashed shilling for Governor Romney cause my eyes to roll and my heart to sink. Still, I think he represents a good sized wing of the GOP, and I'd rather hear it from Hugh than most others.
Ruffini gets the Gold Star for his Giuliani support in that hostile environment. But even Patrick has caught the Giuliani Ennui:
I hate to say this, but I don’t think Rudy wants it badly enough. He has a bit of a Fred Thompson problem about him. He hasn’t said anything particularly distinctive or memorable the entire campaign. His lows haven’t been very low, and his highs haven’t been very high. There is no one big thing his campaign is about — first, there were twelve, then there was a laundry list of his accomplishments as a Mayor; then, there were a series of issue spots that failed to move the needle in New Hampshire. You would think the guy who sparred with the media and his opponents on an ongoing basis in New York, who fundamentally got that leadership after 9/11 was all about projecting confidence and strength, would understand that Presidential contests are about narrative and confidence and conflict — not (primarily) about issues.
It's a comprehensive and smart piece, well worth a read in full. I haven't defected but his Fredness has moved into a razor-thin second place for me (Geri and the Fire hat!) But Giuliani is still resting on his superb Kudlow interview. I haven’t heard anything uplifting between that and his Christmas message. I still want him to win, but Ruffini is right, he has to give a reason more compelling than NYC crime stats from the 20th Century.
Can't let the people down, today's Quotidian Huck-a-Whack comes from WSJ's Kim Strassel. In addition to polity qualms, she suggests that the veteran of hardball Arkansas politics has not yet been vetted as closely as other names.
The obscure governor from Arkansas is, in contrast, a deep sea for media diving. Most recent have been stories about his pardons and commutations, as well as the news that R.J. Reynolds contributed to Action America. Mr. Huckabee -- who now wants a national smoking ban in public places -- responded that he never knew he accepted tobacco money, which has inspired a former adviser to claim Mr. Huckabee is being "less than truthful." What's next?
The GOP is still reeling from its financial scandals, which helped Democrats tag the party with a "culture of corruption" in last year's congressional races. A Huckabee nomination would also neutralize one of the biggest weapons against nominee Hillary Clinton -- her own ethically tortured past. If the subject came up at all, it would be a race to the Arkansas bottom. A matchup with Barack Obama could be worse, since the "politics of hope" senator has so far avoided scandal and could bludgeon Mr. Huckabee on his past.
Democrats know it. Here's an interesting statistic: Since the beginning of 2007, the Democratic National Committee has released 102 direct attacks on Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani has warranted 78; John McCain 68; Fred Thompson 21. Mike Huckabee? Four. The most recent of these landed back in March. GOP voters may not have examined Mr. Huckabee's record, but the left has -- and they love what they see.
So far, GOP voters do, too. Most appear attracted to Mr. Huckabee's image as a "sincere" and "genuine" guy. The former governor may be both of those, but he's also got a past. Voters are going to want to look before they leap.
Byron York wonders "Why Isn't Anyone Paying Attention to This?" The NYTimes, not exactly in the bag for Giuliani, now admits that the non-scandal is a non-scandal.
The headlines have dogged Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidential campaign for weeks. "Security costs for trysts draw attention," said one. The articles questioned whether, as mayor, Mr. Giuliani tried to hide his visits to Judith Nathan in the Hamptons by burying the associated security costs in the budgets of obscure mayoral agencies like the Loft Board.
The answer is not likely, according to a review of the city records originally cited as the basis for the assertion.
Personally, I think the Romney and Huckabee campaigns would be well served by admitting this. They would look very sporting emblazoning their web sites with: "GIULIANI USED LEGITIMATE FINANCING FOR NYPD ESCORTS ON INDECENT, EXTRA-MARITAL, LOVE TRYSTS!!!!"
Jonah Goldberg, on spotting the Arkansas Governor as another "compassionate conservative:"
One of my favorite movie scenes is from Jaws 2, when Roy Scheider (an underrated actor) is trying to convince the town council that he’s spotted yet another shark lurking off the waters of Amity. “But I’m telling you, and I’m telling everybody at this table, that that’s a shark. And I know what a shark looks like, because I’ve seen one up close. And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again!”
If you’re wondering why some of us have become so vexed by the sightings of Mike Huckabee’s dorsal fin above the choppy waters of Iowa-caucus polling and even out in the high sea of national polls, poor Chief Brody’s panic might help you understand. We’ve seen this before.
I know and appreciate that Americans are a forgiving people. But am I the only one who thought that a Bill Clinton - Magic Johnson show may not be the most female-empowering message that Senator Clinton's campaign can send?
Taranto links to this WaPo column. He is amused that the candidate is not mentioned until the third paragraph. I encourage any ThreeSourcers who do not value Senator Clinton's candidacy to read it. Were the Weekly Standard this dismissive, it would be called hate speech:
What's missing? Try kids. You might have expected that an event at the Boys & Girls Club would feature hundreds of screaming children running around singing Hillary victory songs. Except for a few young ones, it was a crowd, of Hillary supporters in the latter stages of life. A large number of them were members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union that has endorsed Clinton.
"Look at the crowd here," says Dhirendra Vajpeyi, a 61-year-old political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa. "It's older than Obama's. I talk to my students and they have real reservations about Hillary and her sincerity. They don't have a good feeling."
On page two, they do mention past transgressions:
[B]oth men have suffered public moral lapses only to find redemption. When Johnson disclosed he was HIV-positive, it brought to light his private misdeeds, but in time he became an advocate for AIDS research and health. Likewise Clinton weathered the storm of the Lewinsky scandal and impeachment and has become involved in humanitarian causes.
I like redemption, don't get me wrong. I'm all for it. I'm just sayin'...
But I come to defend the Governor, not bury him. In a today-only special, I say that Instapundit and CBN.com go too far. It seems Gov. H told CBN:
"These are people that want to kill us. It's a theocratic war. And I don't know if anybody fully understands that. I'm the only guy on that stage with a theology degree. I think I understand it really well."
CBN (the Christians, not the Canadians, eh) disputes that he holds a theology degree and claims a gotcha. Governor Huckabee responds:
"I have a bachelor of arts in religion and a minor in communications in my undergraduate work. And then I have 46 hours on a master's degree at Southwestern Theology Seminary. So, my degree as a theological degree is at the college level and then 46 hours toward a masters -- three years of study of New Testament Greek, and then the rest of it, all in Seminary was theological studies, but my degree was actually in religion."
On no planet can I be called "in the bag for Huckabee," but I cannot imagine too many people becoming too excited about this. I'm prepared to accept a theology degree and religion degree as synonymous.
No doubt I am technically wrong on that, but for this to rise from imbroglio to contretemps to kerfuffe to scandal requires that a large part of the electorate believes that the Parson lacks the amount of religious education to be president or that he significantly overstated it.
I attended a Catholic high school and the two terms were used pretty synonymously. I give him a pass on this one.
Imagine.. the mainstream media is mesmerized as the image of the Ron Paul blimp is shown to tens of millions of Americans throughout the day (and throughout the month).
As GPS coordinates stream to the website a map shows the Ron Paul blimp's location in real time. The local television stations broadcast its every move. The curious flock together and make a trip to see history in the making. Emails with pictures are sent, then forwarded, then forwarded again. Youtube videos go viral and reach tens of millions of views. Ron Paul becomes the first presidential candidate in history to have his very own blimp. The PR stunt generates millions upon millions of dollars worth in free publicity, and captures the imagination of America.
Jay Cutler hoists the Lombardi Trophy, blue and orange confetti fills the air...
UPDATE: Fair and Balanced: John Stossel's interview.
I caught the last half, and I was fumbling for my Cyanide pill 15 minutes in. Dean Barnett has a superb recap in the Weekly Standard
I would be remiss if I left this analysis without dedicating at least a few sentences to Alan Keyes. If moderator Washburn was Nurse Ratched, Alan Keyes was a patient who went off his meds. I'm quite confident that he broke the presidential debate record for most frequent usage of the word "womb."
I used to think highly of Ambassador Keyes. He was a sad figure lat night. Barnett's piece is worth a read in full. He appreciates the retail politicking in Iowa and New Hampshire, but questions whether their local media deserve the quadrennial pedestal.
Endorsed by the NEA! John Fund reports in the Political Diary that it may not sell too well among republicans in New Hampshire:
The union's President Rhonda Wesolowski called a news conference to praise Mr. Huckabee for opposing school vouchers -- the only Republican candidate to do so -- and for his backing of a national mandate for arts and music education. Ms. Wesolowski acknowledged some differences with Mr. Huckabee on charter schools, but that was outweighed by his record in supporting higher taxes to improve public education. Along with the union's endorsement of Mr. Huckabee in the GOP race, she announced her group would be endorsing Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. In 2004, New Hampshire's NEA affiliate declined to endorse a GOP primary candidate and endorsed Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination.
Jeffrey Lord writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today that the Governor favors process over principle. He cites Romney's interview with Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard, where he says he would analyze the data. Lord says "Uh oh."
Grabbing two of the great Republican Presidents, Lord states that the data would have shown President Lincoln to seek appeasement and President Reagan to abandon his tax cuts.
They are, of course, not viewed that way at all. The principles of Lincoln and Reagan carried the day precisely because each man was able to stare at the "data"--however gruesome or frightening they might be--and not blink. They are seen as great presidents and great leaders today because they understood at a visceral level that they should hold fast, refuse to yield to overwhelming demands from critics that they follow the data or that they adhere to a process that used something other than casualties or deficit projections as a measuring stick. Lincoln would not cave in on the principles of holding the Union together and the most basic principle of America--freedom. Reagan would not yield on the central conservative principle that tax cuts and less government spending were in fact the keys to America's future economic vitality.
In other words, in a battle between data and principle, both men rated recently in a poll as the top two greatest presidents in American history (Lincoln first, Reagan second) chose principle. They have not only been vindicated but are held out as treasured exemplars of what a president is supposed to be. Mr. Romney, already struggling with charges he has changed his principles on abortion and gay rights and indeed on when he decided it was OK to admit he was an enthusiastic Reaganite, is basing his entire campaign on the very notion that process is everything.
Gulp, indeed. I'm far closer to forgiving Senator McCain's full frontal assault on the First Amendment than I am to forgiving Governor Romney for his health care plan. McCain is wrong, Romney lacks a philosophical center. I can appreciate McCain's other, good positions but I cannot trust Romney when the data support collectivism.
It seems to me there is quite a spread. Here's Intrade Republican Presidential Nomination 2008 right now. Bid price for a $100 contract:
-- Giuliani 40.7
-- Huckabee 19.3
-- Romney 18.6
-- McCain 8.2
-- Paul 5.2
-- Thompson 5.1
Here is the RCP Average 11/30 - 12/09:
-- Giuliani 24.5%
-- Huckabee 17.5%
-- Thompson 12.8%
-- McCain 12.5%
-- Romney 11.5%
-- Paul 4.0%
This isn't, of course, apples to apples, but I am intrigued that Governor Romney seems to do a lot better when money is on the line, Thompson worse, and it seems a miracle that Rep. Paul's Internet gremlins have not driven him up farther.
UPDATE: A new reader (welcome aboard!) asks what the hell an RCP is and what kind of questions do they ask. Real ClearPolitics website provides an invaluable average of polls from big media and polling corporations.
On the one hand, Thompson displays energy, initiative, and principle in all matters of policy. He has forthrightly and unapologetically opposed Roe, arguing that abortion law should be returned to the states. He’s solid on health care. He has displayed more courage and honesty in addressing the need for entitlement reform than all the other Republican candidates combined. In his insistence on the need to achieve victory in Iraq and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he has proven unflinching. And now he has proposed the most imaginative and far-reaching tax reform proposal of the entire campaign, calling for the abolition of the AMT and a voluntary flat tax. On the other hand, what has Thompson displayed in campaign appearances? Torpor. Lassitude. Indifference.
As Byron York notes below, Stephen Hayes reports that Thompson now intends to climb aboard a great big bus, then spend every day but Christmas itself criss-crossing the great state of Iowa until the caucuses on January 3. With Romney stalled out and Huckabee under fire (a great deal of said fire originating right here on NRO), Fred has an opening—and, evidently, has chosen to seize it.
This is a big deal—or could be. Maybe—just maybe—Fred Thompson has finally realized that Ronald Reagan only made it look easy.
I agree with Kim Strassel that Senator Thompson has been the ideas candidate. If he ere to really push them, I could be persuaded to give him another look,
From that title, either a brilliant segue or long-winded rant follows. I type. You decide.
I love political speechifying and carry fond memories of listening to President Reagan's "New Federalism" speech, Barack Obama's coming-out party at the 2004 Democratic Convention, even our misunderestimated President's speech in Whitehall a few years ago. Senator McCain's Commencement address to the midshipmen was deeply moving.
Yet I passed on Governor Romney's Mormon speech. Romney does not excite me as a candidate and it has nothing to do with Mormonism. I must confess, however, to enjoying the reaction. I'll have to find the speech and watch or read it as a student of politics. Here's a sample of the reaction:
Hugh Hewitt is in the tank for the Governor. In his first (of roughly 19) post explaining why this is the greatest speech since General Washington fumbled for his spectacles, I learn at last why Hewitt does not connect with me:
Mitt Romney threw a long ball today and scored. There can be no objective argument against that conclusion. Why? Because Romney is running for the GOP nomination, and his remarks, both in delivery and substance, were lavishly praised by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, and James Dobson, not to mention Mark Steyn, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer -and these were just the seven people I heard on a long drive south to San Diego and then in a hotel room before leaving to post this and give a speech.
What a list. That's the Republican Party to Hugh Hewitt. I like some of those people a lot, and I like a lot of those people some. But he is suggesting in that sentence that the speech is a hit if his version of The Secaucus Seven approve.
The most negative review I read was from Lee Harris in TCS
Kennedy shrewdly didn't say that the Vatican wouldn't try to interfere—something that his Protestant target audience would never have believed in a millions years anyway; instead, Kennedy said in effect, "I won't let the Vatican interfere." And many Protestants believed him—in large part, because no one really thought Kennedy took his religion seriously enough to affect his behavior one way or the other.
The Mormon church is not Romney's problem; it is Romney's own personal religiosity. On the one hand, Romney is too religious for those who don't like religion in public life—a fact that alienates him from those who could care less about a candidate's religion, so long as the candidate doesn't much care about it himself. On the other hand, Romney offends precisely those Christian evangelicals who agree with him most on the importance of religion in our civic life, many of whom would be his natural supporters if only he was a "real" Christian like them, and not a Mormon instead.
I think Harris points to a real problem with the Romney campaign. He cannot run the table with social conservatives or more secular libertarians. He has to take his 51% out of meddle, which will be perilous.
I have to credit Harris with avoiding Hewitt's mistake. Hewitt thinks that the talk show Republicans are the entire GOP; Harris knows that the Social Conservative wing exists, is important, and he tries to predict and understand their reactions.
Peggy Noonan is positive, The WSJ Ed Page is moderately supportive -- but I think the bookends capture the arguments on both sides.
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows a new national leader in the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination. While enjoying an amazing surge, Mike Huckabee has earned support from 20% of Likely Republican Primary Voters nationwide. Three points back, at 17%, is Rudy Giuliani. That’s the lowest level of support ever recorded for Giuliani in the tracking poll and represents a seven-point decline over the past week. Huckabee has gained eight points during the same time frame (see recent daily numbers).
Just as significant as the new leader is the amazingly competitive nature of the race. Five candidates are within ten points of the lead and all five could conceivably become the party’s eventual nominee. In addition to Huckabee and Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney are at 13%, and Fred Thompson is at 10% (see recent daily numbers). In what could become a major moment in the campaign, Romney will give a speech on faith and religion Thursday. Huckabee recently declined to comment on Romney’s faith but did say it was appropriate to discuss religion in a campaign setting (see video).
Ron Paul is the only other candidate with measurable support and he currently attracts 7% of Likely Republican Primary voters nationwide.
Of course national polling isn't really an accurate presidential barometer. Iowa & New Hampshire are for now... and the rest of the early states.
Harrison Bergeron might be busy today, allow me. John Fund and Brendan Miniter both write negatively about the second "Man from Hope."
When I first met Mike Huckabee, now the GOP frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses, it was 1993 and he had just been elected Arkansas's first GOP lieutenant governor in a stunning upset. He spoke glowingly at the time of his political consultant, Dick Morris. But Mr. Morris soon went back to his old client Bill Clinton, like Mr. Huckabee a man born in Hope, Ark., to help Mr. Clinton repair his battered presidency.
Flash forward 14 years: While Mr. Morris underwent a famous falling-out with the Clintons, he remains a favorite of Mr. Huckabee and Politico.com reports the two men "have been holding private conversations" on a regular basis. It's no surprise then that Mr. Morris has been extolling Mr. Huckabee's virtues in his newspaper columns and Fox News appearances. Just last week, he defended the former Arkansas governor against attacks on his tax record by the free-market Club for Growth. "Mike Huckabee is a fiscal conservative," Mr. Morris insisted.
Again, I see the CATO Institute and Club for Growth attacking Huckabee's record and Dick Morris defending it. Hmmm, which way should I go? Brendan Miniter suggests that his wit and temperament will not stave off the questions of fiscal conservatives forever.
Mr. Huckabee's easy style, quick wit and solid support from Christian conservatives have propelled him into serious contention for the GOP nomination. He's running strong in Iowa and within striking distance in New Hampshire. He now represents the biggest threat to Mitt Romney's strategy of winning the nomination by winning big in Iowa and New Hampshire. But to put the race away, Mr. Huckabee will need to unite fiscal conservatives and Christian voters -- the coalition that sent the last three Republican presidents to the White House.
That coalition could fracture, however, unless Mr. Huckabee quickly addresses his record on taxes. He likes to point out that as governor he cut taxes some 90 times. What he doesn't say, however, is that he also raised more than 20 different taxes for a net tax hike during his tenure of about $500 million. He also left it to his successor -- Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe -- to cut the state's hated sales tax, which Mr. Beebe did shortly after taking office.
When we pressed Mr. Huckabee on his tax record a few months ago, he said he "won't apologize" for raising taxes because he needed the money to repair his state's decrepit highways. Fresh asphalt always seems to appeal to Republican elected officials -- especially those who love earmarking federal highway funds. But it's not something that will win over fiscal conservatives. What Mr. Huckabee needs now is to offer a plausible explanation on why he won't raise taxes as president for similar reasons -- what he needs, in short, is a big tax reform commitment that can appeal to both wings of the Republican Party.
The WSJ Ed Page is harsher than usual on GOP anti-immigration. Their lead editorial Immigration Phonies(paid link) takes no prisoners.
When not fielding questions from Democratic moles at last week's GOP Presidential debate, Anderson Cooper and CNN had a grand time portraying Republican voters as Bible-thumping, gun-wielding Confederacy hold-outs. On immigration, however, the candidates didn't need any media help as they continued their descent into self-parody.
The last debate was pretty demoralizing for me. I posted my disappointment on farm subsidies, but the childish exchanges between Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani left an even longer lasting sour taste. The editorial says "Normally, you'd have to seek out a high school cafeteria to hear such repartee."
This is reactionary populism masquerading as conservatism. And it's even more disappointing to hear it coming from Messrs. Romney, Giuliani and Thompson because all three have political histories that reveal more sensible immigration views.
The scale of this GOP flip-flop suggests they all know better and are posturing merely to appease the loudest restrictionist voices to win the nomination. Our view is that they're underestimating their would-be supporters, and harming their prospects next year if they do get the party nod. If trashing immigration was such a political winner, Tom Tancredo wouldn't be polling nationally at 2%.
I had the rare and wonderful treat of a political discussion with some good friends last night. Eight of us covered a broad spectrum, but I certainly anchored the right. I made my case for Hizzoner but before the debate I would have made it with a lot more conviction. Perhaps his old buddy, Larry Kudlow, can straighten him out a little on this.
So which raised taxes more? It is hard to quantify. If you measured the increases in the revenue stream, the Huckabee tax cuts far exceeded Clinton’s but that would be unfair because the economy had grown and the same penny of tax would produce far more under Huckabee.
But if you look at the major taxes, I see the aggregate Huckabee taxes as greater, especially if you deduct the 4 cent gasoline and diesel taxes that Clinton vetoed in 1985 and that the legislature enacted over his veto.
If you counted all the tax benefits extended to corporations under the incentives enacted by the legislature under Clinton — and they were part of his programs, especially in 1983, 1985 and 1989 — the tax cuts would dwarf those under Huckabee.
Kim Strassel has a smart column today (not unusual). She further develops the questions about Fred Thompson's campaign. I linked to a Mark Steyn Corner post yesterday asking why the man with the ideas has no campaign. Ms. Strassel relates it to his plan for a "new campaign" which ignores the old rules.
While it isn't clear who set the "rules" for this manic election, they're set. Voters may only pay attention at the end, but having an infrastructure to make sure those voters hear you in the final months is the work of years. By sitting back, Mr. Thompson allowed his rivals to scoop up the well-connected policy wonks, committed state activists and aggressive fund-raisers that oil a campaign. His own refusal to "do" the media and public-event circus has muzzled his message, as the failure of his tax-plan announcement shows.
Think back to 1999, when Gov. George W. Bush -- who knew something about campaigns -- unveiled his own tax outline. His people had a dozen brainy conservative economists at the ready to blitz the media. Outside business groups stood by with glowing press releases. Average families were found to serve as real-life examples of how the tax cut would help. The campaign staff fanned out and joined local activists to manage the grass roots. The candidate himself devoted endless time to flogging his idea in public appearances and to every press person and editorial board around.
None of this happened in the wake of Mr. Thompson's Fox announcement. The campaign simply didn't have the stuff to pull it off. Worse, its own leader refused to do what is expected. A look at Mr. Thompson's schedule revealed not a single public appearance for three days after the release, right up to Wednesday's highly uninformative CNN debate.
Strassel takes it one more step to show that the loss is not only Thompson's, but it has shut ideas out of the GOP Primary campaign:
The GOP went into this race thinking itself the likely loser, and that fear has defined the primary. The candidates aren't vying to lead a wayward party out of malaise, or energize voters with new ideas. They're instead trying to be the answer to a question: Who can beat her?
That's made the race about biography, in particular on issues like national security and immigration, where Republicans hope a Hillary Clinton will be weak. Mr. Giuliani's campaign is about his past as a New York tough guy who can face down terrorists. Mr. Romney's, his past as an MBA who can manage our border. Mr. McCain's, his past as a Vietnam vet who recognized the problems in Iraq. There's no future in this present, and Mr. Thompson's lackluster delivery of his own agenda has allowed the front-runners to continue avoiding the big debates.
That's some harsh medicine, but she is 100% right. I love debates, I love politics, but the GOP debates have been the biggest yawn fests. There are no ideas. Gov. Huckabee has his Fair Tax, Senator Thompson says "I have a plan" (shades of another Tennessee Senator who ran?) but Strassel is right that there is no discussion of ideas.
I have not seen or read any punditry on last night's GOP debate. I have a superstition that requires I post my thoughts first, lest my pliant and malleable intentions are swayed.
I liked the YouTube format. It did provide tougher questions and it did give the evil folks at CNN opportunities to dive into areas where pro journalists might not. But hard is good.
My candidate, Mayor Giuliani, did not have a great night. I was disappointed that he agreed with Gov. Romney that farm subsidies were important "for the food supply" and "to level the field with more-heavily-subsidized Europeans." Ouch. He was okay on the other answers but I'm tired of NYC crime stats.
I'm also tired of the childish sniping. Romney struck a low blow with a reference to Bernard Kerik, and while the "Sanctuary Mansion" was a good laugh line, Romney has the high ground on that. Reagan’s 11th, gentlemen, Reagan's 11th...
Immigration will ruin this party -- did I mention that? The immigration questions seethed with hostility, the answers were not much better.
Lastly, yeah, Gov. Huckabee was affable, humorous, and statesmanlike. I quickly joined Harrison Bergeron yesterday in saying that if the GOP goes Huckabee's direction, I won't follow. (I would not abandon the party if he is a running mate). But, you have to appreciate those who can play this game, and the Governor was good. Scary good.
UPDATE II: American Spectator wonders why Giuliani bothered to pander to the Farm Lobby if he's written off Iowa:
Romney's response was at least consistent with what we know about him, and has an electoral logic to it. He has a history of saying whatever is most politically convenient at the time, and winning Iowa is a central part of his strategy.
For Giuliani, however, it doesn't add up. One of his greatest appeals is that he is a blunt, no-nonsense guy who has the guts to say and do what others don't. When it was suggested that New York City raise taxes after 9/11, Giuliani responded that it would be "a dumb, stupid, idiotic and moronic thing to do." Had he said the same thing about farm subsidies last night, he would have become an instant hero among fiscal conservatives. But aside from that, it would have made political sense. Unlike Romney, winning Iowa is not central to Giuliani's strategy, so he doesn't need to pander for votes there. Much more important for him is winning New Hampshire. Had he come out firmly against farm subsidies last night, he would have had a great issue to use against Romney in the more libertarian Granite State.
According the latest Rasmussen poll, Mike Huckabee now leads the field in Iowa.
For better or for worse, I am a registered Republican and as I see it, this election is a watershed moment in the history of the party. Mike Huckabee represents a direction I will not follow and the support that he has received from not only prospective voters, but also so-called conservative pundits is a great source of frustration. The Republican party has always been a source of frustration (as is any given party), but increasingly conservatives are becoming a source of frustration.
Huckabee will not win the presidential nomination, but should he receive the vice presidential nomination, I will not vote for the Republican candidate. Period.
The party needs to return to its days of limited government and lower taxes, not kowtow to social conservatives...
Another classic comment from Obama regarding Hillary's "experience":
"I think the fact of the matter is that Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it," Obama said, and added, referring to his relationship with his wife, Michelle, "There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle, if there were issues," Obama said. "On the other hand, I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done."
HOLD THE PRESSES! The Junior Senator from New York has finally found something she thinks the government should spend money on: Autism.
"Driven by their love and devotion, mothers and fathers across the country have raised awareness, demanded funding, and opened our eyes to the needs of so many children," she told a crowd of hundreds gathered at the Jesse E. Marshall Boys Club of Sioux City. "It's up to us to reclaim the future for our children, and ensure that every child can live up to his or her God-given potential."
Seven hundred million does not sound like that much. I'd rather she smoothed the way for private funding, but this is possibly good policy -- and without question good politics. I just laughed when I saw the headline: "Clinton would boost autism funding." To call that a Dog-bites-man story is unfair to dog bite victims. It's more of a dog-licks-himself story.
Senator Clinton will surely seek more "Funding" (the AP did not call it spending) for every one of these soft, supraconstitutional endeavors. It's going to be a long campaign and, quite likely, a long four years.
Quite possibly the most annoying thing about Hillary Clinton is the claim that she has some type of experience in the White House. She has repeated said things like, and I am paraphrasing, "the President of the United States is not a position where you want to see on the job training." This would ultimately limit our options for president in 2008 to Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Of course, according to her logic, this includes her as well.
Thus when she asserted her experience in dealing with economic issues, it was nice to see Obama respond to Hillary's baseless claims with this:
My understanding was that she wasn't Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration. I'm not sure what experience she is claiming . . .
In fairness, I have to post that Senator Fred Thompson was superb in his interview with Larry Kudlow on CNBC last week. I should have captured some YouTube clips. I only keep two episodes and now it has been deleted. I was surprised to find nobody else posted any clips.
Fred! looked great, answering questions with conviction on tax cutting and regulation limiting. At the same time, he passed some opportunities to pander. When Lowes CEO John Tisch suggested lowering the corporate capital gains rate, Senator Thompson considered it without a knee-jerk acceptance that his interviewer and the other guest clearly wanted.
It was the best interview I have seen Senator Thompson give and it firmly cemented Fred's #2 spot on my GOP list.
Governor Romney was on the next night and I found him a lot less impressive. Both Hizzoner and Fred! spoke from deep conviction on pro-growth policies. Governor Romney seems much more political. I hate to use this adjective against a good Republican, but he seems almost Clintonian at times. In fairness, I should note that Romney's interview captivated Kudlow guest James Awad, who declared him "the best President for the stock market."
I also wonder if I need to subtract points from Mayor Giuliani -- I did not know that Larry was a key advisor during his tenure as mayor. I read this in the cover story of this month's Reason magazine. The campaign chose not to participate in the interview (wha?) but the author claims Kudlow was the architect of Giuliani's tax cutting. Assuming that's true, it's no wonder Rudy! would have so many of the right answers at the ready.
I'm still with Hizzoner, but I had to post this in fairness to the Fredheads around here. He was in top form last Thursday.
This CBS News poll shows some bizarre results. In both New Hampshire and Iowa, Republican voters believe that Rudy is the most electable candidate. However, when asked who they would vote for, here are the results:
While trading tales with an electrican friend last night he said, "I don't think America is stupid enough to elect Hillary president."
"And I don't think we're stupid enough to elect Obama either," I replied.
But what about Edwards? He doesn't get the ink because the other two have raised more dough than Ron Paul, but who had heard of Bill Clinton in November of 1991? Other than his publicity and campaign chest deficits he's got many advantages over the two Democrat frontrunners - Charisma, low-negatives, experience from the '04 race, he's not a woman and he's not a minority - that bolster his "electability" argument.
But with Mrs. Clinton taking heavy fire from Democratic and Republican candidates alike, Mr. Edwards is trying to recast the race, brushing aside questions about his fund-raising (trailing Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama on that front, he is accepting public financing) and poll numbers (his early strength in Iowa has eroded as those two rivals have lavished time and money here) to assert that only he can assure a Democratic victory next November.
Be afraid - America just might be stupid enough to elect John Edwards.
Amidst the excitement over Ron Paul's fundraising, it is worth recalling that in the much lower-intensity race of 2000, Ralph Nader raised over $8 million for his presidential bid.
Of course, that is $8 million total versus $4.3 million in one day, but Frum shouldn't be bothered with facts as he continues:
Of course I am saddened to discover that many thousands of Americans have rallied to a candidate campaigning on a Michael Moore view of the world.
With the exception of his stance on the war (which is hardly as radical in mainstream America as Frum believes), Paul's message is not even closely related to Moore. Rep. Paul's message is one of individual freedom and less government, something all Republicans used to stand for.
Senator Clinton has a strategy to counter those pointing out her miscues at the debate: Play the Victim! Get the sympathy vote. WaPo:
After a rare night of fumbles by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination rushed to maximize the damage yesterday, even as her advisers argued that the "piling on" engaged in by an all-male field of opponents will ultimately drive more female voters into her camp.
Poor Little Senator, those men are so mean to her. At least there is more than a tacit admission of failure:
Clinton strategists grudgingly acknowledged that the performance in Tuesday's debate in Philadelphia was not her finest and they sought to contain the fallout. They worked to clarify her muddled response to a question about whether she supports giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- she backs it, they said -- and quickly produced a video, titled "The Politics of Pile-On," splicing together in rapid-fire fashion her rivals' attacks from the event.
I fear life under Clinton is coming back, without the tech boom this time.
Watching Senator Clinton dissemble at the debate (YouTube clips, I did not watch it live), I was struck by one word: "Clintonian." The bit with Tim Russert and Iran was stunning.
Surprise, surprise, my right wingnut buddies at the WSJ Ed Page saw it the same way (free link).
The political strategy is clear enough. Mrs. Clinton wants to roll to her party's nomination on a tide of "inevitability" while disguising her real agenda as much as possible. But Democratic voters ought to consider whether they want to put all their hopes for retaking the White House on Mrs. Clinton's ability to obfuscate like her husband without his preternatural talent for it. Aside from lacking her husband's political gifts, Hillary's challenge is that we've all seen this movie before. And performances like Tuesday's might be enough to convince voters to opt for a candidate who is his own man.
And that 's the good news for the day (Though Terri @ I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err points out that Joss Whedon has a new TV show and al-Qaeda is defeated in Iraq). Somewhere on that scale, we must remember that she is not a natural politician, and that she has a history of extreme quotes and positions that will be harder to defend in the general than to Democrat primary voters.
I thought of posting this earlier, but I guessed that the good folks at Dow Jones might post the Political Diary free today, in lieu of Best Of The Web.
It's very good from cover-to-cover today, but I have heard from several sources that Senator Clinton was not at the top of her game last night. John Fund gives a blow-by-blow that makes her sound a little less inevitable.
Fred Barnes floated this idea on the Beltway Boys TV show this weekend. Now, he has a Weekly Standard column on it. Barnes claims it is a Two-Man Race
There are three things to keep in mind when evaluating the presidential race in 2008. First, national polls don't matter at all. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry polled at 13 percent or less nationally before the primaries, then locked up the Democratic nomination a few weeks later. State polls provide a better clue of what may happen. Second, the primaries are a dynamic process. Win in the early states and you have a far greater chance of capturing the later primaries--and the nomination. Third, money is more important than ever in 2008. If a long shot like McCain or Thompson or even Mike Huckabee wins in Iowa (January 3) or New Hampshire (January 8) or South Carolina (January 19), there won't be enough time for him to raise the funds needed to compete effectively in Florida on January 29 and the 20-plus primaries on February 5. Television ads are expensive, but necessary.
Barnes pushes the idea of "scenarios." The national polls are misleading. It is comparable to ignoring the electoral college system -- multiplied by the time line.
This won't cheer up a lot of Thompson supporters in ThreeSources Land. And, to be honest, it doesn't thrill me. Watching the national polls, I had lulled myself into believing in a Giuliani or Thompson outcome. I could easily support either of those candidates fulsomely. Barnes does establish a credible scenario for Governor Romney to prevail. This would not drive me to the Clinton Camp, but he is way down on my list.
Apparently, once Carla and Carolina Week put the piece up on YouTube, the Edwards camp asked them not so nicely to take it down. Like any good bright-eyed journalists, they refused. The Edwards camp then "intimated" (whatever that means) that this would jeopardize the campaigns' relationship with the University. Keep in mind that Edwards is both an alumni and a former employee of our nation's leading public university. Bizarre.
Pretty inconsequential criticism if you ask me, but if it bothers the populist Senator, I'm happy to link.
Attila at Pillage Idiot has Rep Ron Paul explaining The Executive to a Cocker Spaniel.
"Doctor Paul": This President reads way too much into Article II. He thinks that when it says, "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America," it gives him all sorts of warmaking powers.
"Doctor Paul": That's plain wrong. All you have to do is read the Constitution!
He spouts off the best one-liners (though Governor Romney's concern that Jennifer Granholm was going to tax the debate was up there). But Governor Huckabee drops further on my list every week. The Club for Growth and WSJ Ed Page have hammered him for tax increases during his tenure as Arkansas Governor. He waffled -- badly -- of trade in the last debate. Now John Fund tells us he's joined the cappers-and-traders:
Mike Huckabee continues to demonstrate his populist, anti-free market bent. Fresh from a debate in Michigan where he showed skepticism about free trade and President Bush's veto of a budget-busting health care bill, the former Arkansas governor has now embraced a mandatory cap on global-warming emissions.
"It goes to the moral issue,'' he told a climate-change conference over the weekend in New Hampshire. "We have a responsibility to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, to conserve energy, to find alternative forms of energy that are renewable and sustainable and environmentally friendly.''
Most disturbingly, Mr. Huckabee says he backs a discredited "cap-and-trade" approach that would apply to the entire U.S. economy. Used in Europe with completely ineffective results, the scheme would create an artificial market for buying and selling permits to emit carbon dioxide. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan used his new book "The Age of Turbulence" to throw cold water on the idea. "I have grave doubts that international agreements imposing a globalized so-called cap-and-trade system on CO2 emissions will prove feasible," Mr. Greenspan wrote. "There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy. Jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained."
But environmentalists in Mr. Huckabee's audience swooned. "I was impressed," said Larry Schweiger, head of the National Wildlife Federation, which supports cap-and-trade. "He's only the second Republican candidate [after John McCain] to say he supports cap-and-trade, which we believe is the real critical part of any effort to stop global warming.''
Many analysts believe Mr. Huckabee has a chance to sew up the support of social conservatives given the perceived liberalism of frontrunners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. His admirers note that Mr. Huckabee has been moving up in polls lately in both Iowa and New Hampshire. That may be so, but he clearly is taking positions that leave economic conservatives scratching their heads and wondering just which party's nomination this new man from Hope, Arkansas thinks he's running for.
I really wanted to post a copy of the cartoon here too but elected not to since the linked image includes an instant online poll. When I clicked on "like it" the numbers went from 42 like - 58 don't like to 50-50. When all seven Threesources readers weigh in it should be 90-10!
Hat tip: Dad, who saw the print version in the Denver Post. He said the caricature made her look "like a witch." You mean, like this dad?
Larry Kudlow has been asking Republicans "Where's the Beef?" He wants specific proposals for cutting taxes. I don't break with Mr. Kudlow too easily, but I like Don Luskin's idea: "We don't need new ideas, we need to preserve the old idea of keeping regulations low and keeping taxes low. That's what we heard over and over again and that is why I am so bullish."
Here's the spirited post-debate debate that Kudlow hosted. Luskin is on a roll all the way, though I will question his attack on Governor Richardson at the end.
And I will humbly have to add that that is where my candidate, Mayor Giuliani, did well. Lower regulations, lower taxes, and lower spending. That's a full Atkins® meal for me, Larry!
I know Rep. Paul has some supporters around here, and I have no trouble finding parts of his platform to applaud. Yet, I think he exudes the "crazy-aunt-in-the-attic" vibe a little more every time he is out. His supporters have a fair gripe that he was not given a lot of time and attention at the CNBC debate last night -- but I surely did not find myself missing the additional hectoring about isolationism and mettalism.
John Fund thinks he might well be shaping up for a third party run -- and he has an interesting take on how it would affect the race:
Could Ron Paul be considering a third-party run for the White House after the GOP primaries are over? After all, in 1988 he left the GOP to run as the Libertarian Party candidate. He is just ornery enough to do it again.
A hint of his dissatisfaction came last night during the CNBC debate when Chris Matthews asked him if he would promise "to support the nominee of the Republican Party next year." Mr. Paul's answer was a flat no. "Not unless they're willing to end the war and bring our troops home. And not unless they are willing to look at the excess in spending. No, I'm not going to support them if they continue down the path that has taken our party down the tubes."
When I saw Mr. Paul last Friday after a speech he gave to Americans for Prosperity in Washington, he was clearly feeling his oats on the public reaction to his stand opposing the Iraq war. He rejected my comment that his anti-war emphasis was crowding out his free-market message "Everything is tied to the war. It threatens our financial security as well," he told me. I left our brief encounter with the clear impression he wanted to continue to talk about his message well into the future beyond the GOP primary race.
Despite his libertarian views, a Paul third-party run might hurt the Democrats more than Republicans. If he emphasized his support for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq immediately, he would trump Hillary Clinton on the left. If he talked about his support for drug decriminalization, he would clearly appeal to a constituency ignored by both major parties.
The logistics of a Paul run are also there. The Libertarian Party national convention doesn't meet until late May in Denver, and becoming its nominee guarantees a spot on 26 state ballots immediately. Another 20 state ballot lines are fairly easy to obtain.
Mr. Paul could, of course, retire from the House if he ran for president. But Texas law also allows him to both run for president and seek re-election to the House, thanks to a statute rammed through by Lyndon Johnson. The GOP primary in which Mr. Paul is being challenged for his seat is held in early March, well before he would have to publicly announce any third-party intentions. Nothing prevents him from running as, say, a Libertarian for president and a Republican for the House at the same time.
It's also likely that Mr. Paul might be the rare third-party candidate who could actually raise his own money. He took in over $5 million in the last quarter, exceeding the fundraising totals of candidates such as John McCain and Mike Huckabee. A chunk of his money comes from liberals such as singer Barry Manilow, and he might find himself the recipient of some support in a general election from anti-Hillary Democrats who deplore the grip of the Clinton clan on their party.
Ron Paul and Barry Manilow -- that mightn't be a bad ticket...
Not out of profound sense of history or respect toward the framers, of course.
A change might screw them.
Republican activists in California, the most populous state in the country, have set in motion a proposal to change the law to end the winner-takes-all electoral college system.
The change, if it went through, would effectively hand the next election to the Republicans.
California has gone Democratic in every election since 1992, providing a bloc of 55 electoral votes, about one fifth of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
The Republicans are proposing that instead of all the electoral votes going to the winner, the 55 votes be allocated on a Congressional district basis, which would give the Republicans around 20, almost certainly enough to secure the White House.
This is Jay Cray, blogging with jk's account. The ThreeSources pragmatist has not read and does not endorse this message. But John Fund writes in OpinionJournal PoliticalDiary that James Dobson is looking to field a third party candidate if the GOP nominates Hizzoner. Though he says he won't , their best candidate might be Rep Tom Tancredo (R. Populismiasma)
A group of attendees at the Council for National Policy -- a supersecret quarterly gathering of prominent social conservatives -- broke off from the main meeting in Salt Lake City this weekend to pass a resolution warning that they might back a third-party candidate should Rudy Giuliani win the GOP nomination.
The resolution reads in part: "If the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate, we will consider running a third-party candidate." Supporters included Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, conservative fundraiser Richard Viguerie, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and Morton Blackwell, head of the Leadership Institute.
"The signal is out there that you nominate him and we walk," Paul Weyrich, head of the Free Congress Foundation, told Politico.com. Mr. Weyrich didn't attend the meeting that voted on the resolution, but was in broad sympathy with it.
Of course, threatening a third-party campaign is easier said than done. The task of securing a place on numerous state ballots would be very difficult after February, the earliest date when the identity of the GOP nominee would actually be known. In addition, a suitable alternative candidate would have to be found. One of the most promising, GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, has strong disagreements with Mr. Giuliani on both abortion and immigration. But he made clear to me last Friday he was having nothing to do with talk that he might bolt the GOP and run against a Rudy Giuliani ticket.
Mr. Tancredo admitted he had talked over the matter with Bay Buchanan, his campaign manager, who herself played a major role in convincing her brother Pat to leave the GOP and run against George W. Bush in 2000 as the candidate of Ross Perot's Reform Party. But Mr. Tancredo told me he had scotched the idea: "No, the obstacles are too great. I have no interest in it." Asked if that was a Shermanesque statement -- named after the Civil War general William Sherman who told supporters: "If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve" -- Mr. Tancredo told me, "Yes."
Anger from the social conservative wing of the Republican Party at the prospect of a Giuliani nomination is real enough, and it certainly could cost him in terms of voter enthusiasm among the party's base. But the chances look remote of finding a major social conservative to carry a third-party banner against him.
Dang. if Dobson and Tancredo bolted, I'd be pretty proud to call myself a Republican again. Jay Cray out, pragmatism will return shortly...
1) Democrats do realize that America exists in a hypercompetitive global economy, right? Mentions of "compete" or "competitiveness," zero; "China," one; "India," zero; "Asia," zero; "innovation," zero; "productivity," zero; "technology," two.
2) Thank goodness for global warming. Without it, Dems would seem to be hard pressed to come up with a strategy to grow the economy faster. This from Dennis Kucinich: "I'm talking about a new WPA, a Works Green Administration, creating technologies for a green America—we have to believe in economic growth. We should raise the ceiling." (Here's why climate change and massive government spending may not be an economic plus.) A skeptic might say that global warming provides a handy excuse for more government spending.
Those wacky Clintons. The folks they "truck with" never cease to amaze.
The WSJ (news pages, not the right wing cranks on the Ed page) detail a F.O.B. (Friend of Bill, in case you'd forgotten):
Two years ago, Mr. Band befriended a handsome and charming Italian businessman named Raffaello Follieri. The young Italian, now 29 years old, had moved to New York in 2003 to launch a business buying and redeveloping Roman Catholic Church properties. He claimed close ties with Vatican officials that would smooth the way for deals, according to business associates and material issued by his company, Follieri Group LLC. He also said he could help Mr. Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with Catholic voters during her presidential campaign, people in the Clinton camp recall.
As a gatekeeper to the former president's web of business and charitable enterprises, Mr. Band helped Mr. Follieri get into business with Mr. Clinton, according to people involved with the three men. In 2005, Yucaipa Cos., a Los Angeles investment firm where Mr. Clinton has been a partner and a senior adviser, agreed to invest up to $100 million in Mr. Follieri's church-property venture.
Later, Mr. Band helped Mr. Follieri secure several million dollars more from Michael Cooper, a Toronto real-estate executive and supporter of Mr. Clinton's humanitarian initiatives. Mr. Band received $400,000 from Mr. Follieri for arranging that deal. Mr. Band's connection to Mr. Follieri was reported in Il Sole/24 Ore, an Italian newspaper.
These days, the Clinton camp's relations with Mr. Follieri are in tatters. Yucaipa managing partner Ron Burkle, Mr. Clinton's longtime friend, has sued Mr. Follieri in Delaware state court for allegedly misappropriating at least $1.3 million. The lawsuit claims Mr. Follieri used Yucaipa's investment money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a Manhattan penthouse, five-star meals and private jets for Mr. Follieri and his girlfriend, actress Anne Hathaway. Mr. Follieri has denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Cooper has demanded his money back.
Trust me, that excerpt does not do this long, lugubrious tale justice. If you don't subscribe, I'll mail it to you, but this must be read in full.
I'd call the constant appearance of guys like this, Hsu, Chang, Trie, Marc Rich, Hugh Rodham, ad infinitum to be more serious than cell phone etiquette.
Most Americans understand it takes an extra chromosome to run for President, but there are some limits on odd behavior. Which makes us wonder what Rudy Giuliani was thinking last Friday when he accepted, and even flaunted, a phone call from his wife Judith in the middle of his speech to the National Rifle Association.
This was no emergency call. His cell phone rang in his pocket during his speech, which is itself unusual; most public officials turn theirs off during events, if only out of courtesy for the audience. Mr. Giuliani went on to answer it and carry on a routine "love you" and "have a safe trip" exchange with Mrs. Giuliani while the crowd (and those of us watching on C-Span) wondered what in the world that was all about.
His campaign aides spun the episode as a "candid and spontaneous moment" illustrative of the couple's affection. We might believe that if we hadn't heard stories of similar behavior by Mr. Giuliani as he has campaigned around the country. During one event in Oklahoma, we're told he took two calls, at least one from his wife, and chatted for several minutes as the audience waited. That episode followed Mr. Giuliani's eye-popping disclosure earlier this year that, if he's elected, his wife would sit in on Cabinet meetings. He later downplayed that possibility.
Mr. Giuliani has run an impressive campaign so far, especially on the issues. He has a record of accomplishment in New York, and he projects the kind of executive competence that many Americans want in a President. The rap on his candidacy, however, is that his personal history and behavior are simply too strange for someone who wants to sit in the Oval Office. Voters will decide whether that's true, but if nothing else Mr. Giuliani ought to be aware of this vulnerability and do nothing to compound it.
"That was just weird," one NRA audience member told the New York Post about the phone interruption. Mr. Giuliani doesn't need more weird.
The same crew, on their FOX TV show, played the clip and had the same debate we've had at ThreeSources. I think Paul Gigot played jk, saying it was an attempt to repeat a joke that had worked before. Today's editorial shows he was outvoted too.
We've been awfully tough on the Junior Senator from New York lately; it seems only fair to take a whack at the Junior Senator from Illinois.
Greg Mankiw points out that he has a new plan to fix Social Security:
I do not want to cut benefits or raise the retirement age. I believe there are a number of ways we can make Social Security solvent that do not involve placing these added burdens on our seniors.
But he does not consider a 46.7% marginal tax rate an added burden on the rest of us.
One possible option, for example, is to raise the cap on the amount of income subject to the Social Security tax. If we kept the payroll tax rate exactly the same but applied it to all earnings and not just the first $97,500, we could virtually eliminate the entire Social Security shortfall.
Click on over to see the Harvard Prof do the math, twice.
Combine this with eliminating the Bush tax cuts, and small business owners and upper income Americans are going to be facing marginal rates well above 50%. I know that Austen Goolsbee is a whiz kid, but he has not made any progress converting Senator Obama from an average tax and spender.
I know that Andrew Sullivan has been despised by the folks at Three Sources for a long time now. However, when one filters through his prose, there is a lot of truth to the his recent comments:
The conservative Washington Establishment is swooning for Hillary for a reason. The reason is an accommodation with what they see as the next source of power (surprise!); and the desire to see George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq legitimated and extended by a Democratic president (genuine surprise). Hillary is Bush's ticket to posterity. On Iraq, she will be his legacy. They are not that dissimilar after all: both come from royal families, who have divvied up the White House for the past couple of decades. They may oppose one another; but they respect each other as equals in the neo-monarchy that is the current presidency. And so elite conservatives are falling over themselves to embrace a new Queen Hillary, with an empire reaching across Mesopotamia...
There is a large block of neoconservatives that are warming to Hillary because they perceive that a Democratic presidency in 2008 is inevitable and thus they must get behind the individual who will most exemplify their ideology.
What strikes me as especially surprising, however, is that the Democratic Party and its members seem so intent on winning the presidency that they are willing to nominate and elect someone who is largely out of touch with the party on their biggest issue. Hillary is much more of a hawk than many Democrats believe (or are willing to admit). Perhaps they are blinded by their hatred of Bush-Cheney or their nostalgia for the Bill Clinton presidency. Either way, however, they should be careful what they wish for.
Unfortunately, I think that these neoconservatives are so blinded by a somewhat like-minded individual on foreign policy that they fail to realize how her would-be expansion of government violates their other conservative principles.
Overall it seems that somewhat strange bedfellows are emerging.
Aside: As a libertarian, I did like Sullivan's criticism of the would-be oligarchy of BushClintonBushClinton.
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance was the only way to achieve universal health care but she rejected the notion of punitive measures to force individuals into the health care system.
"At this point, we don't have anything punitive that we have proposed," the presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We're providing incentives and tax credits which we think will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans."
I wonder if that proof of insurance will be asked for before or after the proof of citizenship?
Whether you are for the war or against it, one must acknowledge that the changing positions among the Democrats has been somewhat ridiculous. Ironically, it is usually those who support the war who are the ones to point out the hypocrisy when, in fact, it should be the opposite. One would think that those who opposed the war from the beginning would condemn candidates like Sen. Clinton for giving the president authorization and then changing her opinion when the war became unpopular. I suppose that they are merely excited to have someone join their side.
With that in mind, it was nice to see Bill Maher pose a tough question:
Is it just me or does it seem like the only criticism that has been leveled against Fred Thompson thus far has referred to his lazy and tired demeanor?
Not only does this line of attack seem rather weak, but, as a political cynic, I actually find this description of a lazy Thompson a bit endearing:
He had long complained that he found Senate life suffocating. "I don't like spending 14- and 16-hour days voting on 'sense of the Senate' resolutions on irrelevant matters," Thompson said in 1998. It was, he said, "very frustrating." He may have wished the Senate spent its time on more-important issues, but Thompson himself didn't have the patience, or the desire, to do the kind of ego stroking and horse trading it takes to get bills to the president's desk.
Well, that was quick. I fear Fred! has disqualified himself.
Speaking in Sioux City, Iowa, moments ago, Fred Thompson endorsed an amendment to the Constitution that would prevent state judges from altering the definition of marriage without the direction of their states' legislatures.
I don't think it would drive me into Senator Clinton's socialist arms or anything. But I have a hunch that this will be the first of many populist lurches from the Senator.
UPDATE: And he filed an amicus brief in McConnell v. FEC for the FEC!
On taking so long to enter the race: "No, I don't think so. Of course, we'll find out. But uh, I don't think people are gonna say, you know that guy would make a very good president but he just didn't get in soon enough."
On John McCain: "He's a good friend and will be when this is over with. Unless of course he beats me."
On skipping the NH debate to appear on Leno: "I'm certainly not disrespecting them but it's a lot more difficult to get on the Tonight Show than it is to get into a presidential debate."
WASHINGTON -- Last week in Hanover, N.H., John Edwards shot off a rhetorical signal flare. "I want to go one step further," he said. Something new was coming. This wasn't going to be just another stump speech about the "Two Americas" -- one for the rich and one for everyone else. He was about to attack his own party, the Democratic Party, which he likes to call "the party of the people."
"The choice for our party could not be any clearer," he continued. "We cannot replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats, just swapping the Washington insiders of one party for the Washington insiders of the other."
Of course, he never named the fellow travelers targeted by his broadside. But he left plenty of clues, given Hillary Clinton's time in the White House and Barack Obama's record fundraising. "The American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale," he said, "the Lincoln Bedroom is not for rent, and lobbyist money can no longer influence policy in the House and the Senate."
There are usually two ways that a candidates runs for the primary. One can move as far to the fringe as possible and attack fellow party-members or one can run a centrist campaign and attack candidates from the other party. The Democrats, with the exception of Hillary Clinton, have been rather unique in that they have mostly moved to the left and run against President Bush. Given this pattern, the comments by Edwards seem to relfect the following:
The Edwards campaign has come to the realization that he must make some sort of change to improve his position within the party.
Hillary may be in trouble. The negative attacks are largely going to be aimed at her simply because she is the front runner and, quite frankly, there is more material. Elizabeth Edwards even stated that Hillary would do more to energize Republicans than any candidate with an "R" next to their name. Unfortunately for Edwards, this negative press aimed at Hillary likely helps Obama in the long run.
The second piece of news is that Fred (or Fred!) Thompson will announce his candidacy on September 6 on his website. The right-wing blogosphere is growing tired of Sen. Thompson because he is attempting "upstage" the fellow Republicans by appearing on Leno on the night of the Republican debate and the fact that he has delayed announcing his candidacy for so long. Nevertheless, I do not think any of the blogosphere's concerns are warranted. Here's why:
The blogosphere is filled with party activists and libertarian academics that are largely out of touch with the mainstream Americans (for better or for worse).
Thompson hasn't run a conventional campaign. I actually like this. Besides, more people will watch Leno than the R's debate.
Thompson has created the perception of being above the other candidates. He should try to maintain this as long as possible.
What purpose does it serve for Thompson to debate the likes of Huckabee, Brownback, Tancredo, and the other second tier candidates? There is plenty of time left before primary season.
Staying out of the race hasn't hurt him as much as the conservative pundits pretend. Thompson is still at or near the top of most polls.
I think that Fox should go ahead with the debate. Take that time you were going to allot for the Democratic Party Debate, and fill it with any empty stage with empty lecterns. Then every few minutes, put a title bar on the screen with different debate topics.
"DEMOCRATS PRESENT IDEAS ON WINNING THE WAR" ...crickets...crickets...crickets...
"DEMOCRATS PRESENT IDEAS ON SAVING SOCIAL SECURITY" ...tumbleweeds...
"DEMOCRATS PRESENT IDEAS ON CUTTING PORK” ...cold wind...
HAVANA (Reuters) - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is tipping Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to team up and win the U.S. presidential election.
Clinton leads Obama in the race to be the Democratic nominee for the November 2008 election, and Castro said they would make a winning combination.
"The word today is that an apparently unbeatable ticket could be Hillary for president and Obama as her running mate," he wrote in an editorial column on U.S. presidents published on Tuesday by Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma.
The former Governor of the Commonwealth takes some licks for his health care plan(s) around here, but he will be able to defend himself in a one-on-one interview with Larry Kudlow tonight. CNBC 5:00PM Eastern. It is an exceptional venue to hear the candidates’ economic ideas.
UPDATE I: Part of the interview will be shown tonight (Aug 29), including the discussion of health care. I'm a Giuliani supporter, so discount my opinion as you see fit, but I'd have to say that he was unimpressive last night. He swung and missed at some softballs. "Do we need a SarbOx for lending?" Governor Romney said no, but conceded that there might be a place for Washington to make sure that customers understood their loans.
Hugh Hewitt always talks about how clear and in command of the facts Romney is, and that once people see him, they are really impressed. He did not come across as in control last night, and he won’t find a friendlier interview until he is on Hewitt’s show.
"Governor Romney's economic record contains a mixture of pro-growth accomplishments and some troublesome positions that beg to be explained," said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. "While his record on taxes, spending, and entitlement reform is flawed, it is, on balance, encouraging, especially given the liberal Massachusetts Legislature. His record on trade, school choice, regulations and tort reform all indicate a strong respect for the power of market solutions. At the same time, Governor Romney's history is marked by statements at odds with his gubernatorial record and his campaign rhetoric."
Romney's strident opposition to the flat tax; his refusal to endorse the Bush tax cuts in 2003; his support for various minor tax hikes; and his once-radically bad views on campaign finance reform all cast some doubts on the extent and durability of his commitment to limited-government, pro-growth policies. His landmark steps in the healthcare arena also exhibit a mixture of desirable pro-free market efforts combined with a regrettable willingness to accept, if not embrace, a massive new regulatory regime.
Despite the reservations, they are OK with him as President.
Zoinks... Senator Foot In Mouth is down by 30 points to Senator Former First Lady in California.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is expanding her lead in California as excitement for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is fading among Golden State voters, a new Field Poll revealed Thursday.
The New York senator held a commanding lead over the Democratic field, with 49 percent support to 19 percent for Obama and 10 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.
The survey of 418 Californians likely to vote in the Feb. 5 Democratic presidential primary showed Clinton leading -- and gaining support -- in every demographic category and California region measured.
Illinois state Republican party chairman, Andy McKenna, said Romney won the Illinois Straw poll at the Illinois State Fair. "Congratulations to Mitt Romney, whose strong showing today indicates he has begun to put together a strong statewide organization," McKenna said. "There's no question that Illinois' demographics closely match those of the United States and this could be an indication as to whom Illinois voters are leaning toward this coming February."
Romney secured an overwhelming victory with 40.35 percent of the vote. Former Senator Fred Thompson, who is expected to formally enter the race for the GOP nomination next month, came in second with 19.96 percent of the vote.
Rudy! came in fourth, seven point behind Ron Paul, of all people.
The other day, a friend told me that he thinks Fred! Thompson wouldn't be entering the race... certainly I'm getting tired of waiting. Though I will probably support the GOP ticket no matter what, I would be favorably disposed to a Romney/Thompson ticket, if he doesn't run, or a Thompson/Romney ticket if he wins.
If Hillary! trounces the rest of the field, does that adversely impact her choosing a VP from the also-rans? John Edwards toughed it out with John Kerry well into the primary season, possibly helping him secure the nod. (Being a southerner didn't hurt either)
We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.
Hizzoner will be interviewed on Kudlow & Co. tonight. I encourage everyone to watch. Giuliani gets the supply side thing and Kudlow is a great venue for him.
A good friend of this blog also sends along a link to a New Yorker piece on Giuliani in South Carolina. I am just a few pages in and the piece drips with venom for those back-ass-ward southern Republicans, but it looks good.
UPDATE: Whoa. I think I'd be safe calling that a hit piece. Enmity from a New Yorker writer could be a big asset to the campaign. Rudy Giuliani as "Mayberry Man," indeed.
It is worth noting what a service to the world that US News and World Report provides by carrying Pethokoukis (and Michael Barone, of course). I always lumped it in with Time and Newsweek, but these are two thoughtful and talented writers.
Elizabeth Edwards thinks her poor, white husband just cannot catch a break:
"In some ways, [Web marketing is] the way we have to go," Edwards says. "We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars. Now it's nice to get on the news, but not the be all and end all."
I don't know where to start, this is wrong on so many levels. So, I think I'll stop.
When was the last presidential election where Federalism was even on the agenda?
I don't know either.
However, it seems to have been coming back this season.
First was Mitt Romney, whose term as Massachusetts' governor taught him some lessons on federal government's mandates.
Fred! has another opinion piece out discussing the topic at length and includes his experience in the Senate.
Federalism is not an 18th century notion. Or a 19th century notion. It retains its force as a basic principle in the 21st century, because when federalism is ignored, accountability, innovation, and public confidence in government at all levels suffer.
It is as true today as it ever was: the closer a government is to its people, the more responsive it is to the felt needs of its constituencies. Too often, however, state and local leaders have to answer to federal bureaucrats first and their constituents second. When the federal government mandates a program that states and localities are forced to implement, or when a federal grant program is created to fund a specific state or community need, it blurs the lines of accountability.
Who answers to the people if a program fails? The federal government will point to state authorities carrying out the program; the states will point to the federal government, which came up with the program in the first place. And in the end no one is more confused than the people the program is supposed to be serving, who can’t even say for sure who is responsible for what. This does not argue against all federal programs but it does require the recognition that there, indeed, are trade-offs.
Back in my days in the Senate, I found myself on the short end of a couple of 99 to 1 votes. They involved issues that had been under the purview of states for over 200 years. I asked why we should federalize what rightly were state and local issues.
Addressing the American Legislative Exchange Council, Thompson didn't give the typical stump speech, The Morning Call's Brian Callaway reported. Instead, he told them exactly what they wanted to hear: states need more freedom to manage their own affairs. [and that's ok. -ed]
And he clearly didn't say anything too quotable: Neither Callaway nor Philly Inquirer reporter Larry Eichel used a full quote from Thompson in their stories.
Some in the audience didn't think so. "I think he scored a lot of points," Roman Buhler, a conservative activist from Virginia, told Callaway after Thompson's speech.
John Edwards has officially lost his mind. This speech borders on conspiracy theory.
Also, I hate to trouble him with facts, but someone should tell Edwards that the top 25% of income earners pay 85% of all income taxes. Personally, I think I would classify that as more than their fair share. I wonder what he thinks they should pay. The populist nonsense rolls on...
David Weigel live-blogged the Democratic Party debate for reason. Here are some highlights:
7:10: Clinton abandons the word liberal, which "used to mean" you cared about the rights of the individual "back in the 19th and early 20th century." Hillary Clinton: Not A Hayekian! In case you were asking.
7:13: Chuck Hagel shoots his TV.
7:20: Dodd: Preparations for Katrina "should have been done ahead of time." Good thing you didn't vote to fold FEMA into the DHS, huh, Chris? I mean... uhm...
7:23: "I'm not running because I'm a woman." No, you're running because you're married to Bill Clinton.
7:24: "When I'm inaugurated it'll send a great message to little girls and boys around the world." That the U.S. is a two-family constitutional monarchy?
7:28: Kucinich and Dodd would let gays marry. They'll also legalize unicorns. Neither of them will win, everybody.
7:41: Joe Biden: "I'm so tired of this." The quote of the night. Also, has anyone not been to the Darfur refugee camp?
7:43: Good for Anderson Cooper, nailing down Hillary Clinton on whether she'd send troops to Darfur. She wouldn't, but it sounds like the reason is that they're in Iraq... and they're going to, *cough*, be there a while, probably.
7:50: I never feel so pessimistic about Iraq as when I hear Democrats talk about how they'll end it.
7:58: John Edwards, always handy with the chest-pounding answers to the questions no one asked.
More of the same from the Dems. Hillary thinks she's already won (she even said, "when I am inaugurated..."), Edwards keeps telling the same story to sell his points on several different issues, and Gravel is still pounding the podium to get us out of Vietnam.
Perhaps the greatest line was when Kucinich mentioned how no one was standing to the left of him and CNN's Anderson Cooper replied, "I don't think we could find anyone to the left of you."
WASHINGTON -- With more than a year to go before the 2008 elections, Democratic candidates have raised $100 million more in campaign contributions than Republicans, putting them on track to win the money race for the White House and Congress for the first time since the government began detailed accounting of campaign fund raising three decades ago.
Democrats have taken the lead by exploiting widespread disapproval of President Bush and the Iraq war to develop a more robust online network of new, small donors, as well as to gain traction with deep-pocketed business contributors.
More Republicans have become apathetic about their options over the past month.
A hefty 23 percent can't or won't say which candidate they would back, a jump from the 14 percent who took a pass in June.
Barnes put these two facts together and doesn't like the outcome. I saw Senator Even Bayh on FOX News Sunday and thought: there's the next Vice President of the United States. Wonder if there's an intrade contract for that.
Even if it is just rhetoric, you have to love the comments Mitt Romney recently made in New Hampshire:
"Hillary Clinton just gave a speech the other day about her view on the economy. She said we have been an on-your-own society. She said it's time to get rid of that and replace that with shared responsibility and we're-in-it-together society," Romney told the crowd. "That's out with Adam Smith and in with Karl Marx."
I thought it might tell us something about the reliability and temperament of this man who is asking us to make him our next Commander in Chief -- especially now that he's trying to win the support of GOP "values voters."
As a values voter, I can't say I'm really broken up by the occasional profanity. It's like salt n pepper for rhetoric, used sparingly, of course.
VP Dick Cheney to Senator Lahey, "Fuck off!"
George Bush to Tony Blair: "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over."
Indeed, [Giuliani] does appear unhinged -- somehow the volcanic black anger burning inside of him like tumors of pure hatred is able to cause the video to suddenly jump-zoom on his face the moment he speaks The Forbidden Word of Ultimate Blasphemy. His very utterance of the word causes the video to zoom in frighteningly, almost as if someone had manipulated the tape for this effect.
For the love of God, the man is grinning when he says bullshit.
The new left. Not just pussies, but puritanical pussies to boot.
Michelle Cottle at TNR(free link) is worried about it:
But therein lies the irony. For, while the veteran actor certainly looks and sounds the part of the man's man in this race, there's precious little in either his personal or political history to suggest that he overflows with any of the attributes commonly associated with manliness, such as determination, perseverance, leadership ability, or garden-variety toughness. By his own account, Thompson is a not especially hard-charging guy who has largely meandered through life, stumbling from one bit of good fortune to the next with an occasional nudge from those close to him. It is, to some extent, part of his much- ballyhooed comfortable-in-his-own-skin charm. But it also raises questions about whether he has the gumption to gut out a presidential race when it inevitably becomes difficult, or mean, or plain old boring. In short, is Fred Thompson really enough of a man for this fight?
Unlike, say, Senator Edwards, or Senator Obama? Rep. Kucinich? I'm not in the Fred! Camp, but this seems like an unlikely avenue for attack.
The latest policy proposal from John Edwards is a winner (via The Onion):
In an effort to jump-start a presidential campaign that still has not broken into the top Democratic tier, former Sen. John Edwards made his most ambitious policy announcement yet at a campaign event in Iowa Monday: a promise to eliminate all unpleasant, disagreeable, or otherwise bad things from all aspects of American life by the end of his second year in office.
"Many bad things are not just bad—they're terrible," said a beaming Edwards, whose "Only the Good Things" proposal builds upon previous efforts to end poverty, outlaw startlingly loud noises, and offer tax breaks to those who smile frequently. "Other candidates have plans that would reduce some of the bad things, but I want all of them gone completely."
Perry Eidlebus questions my support for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and provides this link to a 1994 speech that contains this gem:
We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.
Perry asks me how I "can vote for someone with this philosophy of liberty?"
I don't think I'd suggest that he put it on a bumper sticker, but I will not stop supporting Hizzoner over this. Reading the whole speech excerpt, I liked most of it. It's short, read it coast-to-coast. He says several good things. The NYTimes pulls this "authority" quote into the headline instead of "Giuliani says 'it's all about, ultimately, individual responsibility.'"
Giuliani was a prosecutor and a tough mayor. He's going to be more authoritarian than I, and if you dig up 13 year old speeches, I'm not going to agree with every word. For 2008, he "gets" the supply side better than anybody else, and his less than parsimonious life will probably keep him out of taking a role of moralist-in-chief.
Putting that speech in the context of his mayoral tenure is instructive too. NY 1994 was a city in decay and Giuliani brought back some rule of law. If the Koch-Dinkins years were your idea of a libertarian paradise, we really do have fundamental disagreements.
Lance, at A Second Hand Conjecture, gives a good pitch for Fred!
He is of course most attractive to me because he has a hot wife with large breasts. That is important because it seems to set off all kinds of disagreeable and hypocritical types on the left. Most satisfying.
Ron Paul was on This Week with George Stephopoulos this morning. The interview consists of the normal Paul talking points, but I was a little surprised at the lack of professionalism shown to Rep. Paul. Consider this exchange:
George Stephanopoulos: "What's success for you in this campaign?"
Ron Paul: "To win."
GS: "That's not gonna happen."
RP: "Are you willing to bet every cent in your pocket?"
I think that we can all agree that Ron Paul will not get the Republican nomination, but I thought that this was a rude way to talk to a guest.
$13 million spent for the quarter. (!!!) UPDATE: Actually, it's $14.4M.
They are considering taking public money.
Friends, this campaign is officially over. There is no way we are going to nominate someone who has to take public funding to take on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama ($90M COH between them).
Maybe McCain skipped Pa's GOP meeting because he's trying to conserve money?
Senators Barack Obama, D-IL, and Hillary Clinton, D-NY, today turned presidential campaigning on its head when they announced that the combined $52 million in primary campaign cash they raised in the second quarter would be redistributed to less fortunate candidates like Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
In a joint news release, Senators Obama and Clinton said, “The fundamental principles of the Democrat party say that the rich and powerful have an obligation to help the poor and downtrodden.”
I hope everybody was home all weekend reading the Wall Street Journal online content. In the rare event somebody missed it, they had an interview with Mayor Giuliani and posted both the transcript and a summary article by Brian Carney. I'd suggest reading at least the summation. I still find much to like about Hizzoner.
Mr. Giuliani is often referred to as a "moderate" Republican, which is true if it means simply that he doesn't follow the party line on certain issues, such as abortion. But there is very little else about him that qualifies for the label. "I am," he told us, "by all objective measures the most fiscally conservative candidate in the race." On domestic policy, he says he wants to shrink the government's share of the economy and increase the private sector's. Tax rates "should be lower" and our health-care system ought to be "move[d] away from the paternalistic model" that we have now.
I wish he would release his Kudlow interview as a campaign commercial -- it was loaded with principled, fundamental understanding and description of the role of the free market. Stephen Moore, who followed him as a guest/analyst, and I were a little verklempt in the gunuchtazoink. He not only appreciates free market principles -- he can articulate them. We have seen weakness on both sides in the Bush Administration.
On the War, he also understands and articulates: “I think the American people in November 2008 are going to select the person they think is strongest to defend America against Islamic terrorism. And it is not going to focus on--as some of the media wants it--just Iraq. I think Americans are smarter than that."
These, then, are the talking points. But in order to discover whether there was more to his national-security credentials than merely being "America's mayor" on 9/11, we pressed him on how a President Giuliani would handle a current foreign-policy crisis such as Iran. His answer revealed a discursive style that was on display throughout the meeting, and which can only be demonstrated by quoting from his reply at some length.
He started by explaining how he understands the problem, before getting around to how it ought to be handled: "Well, I think that if we've learned any lessons from the history of the 20th century, one of the lessons we should learn is [to] stop trying to psychoanalyze people and take them at their word.
"If we had taken Hitler at his word, Stalin at his word, I think we would have made much sounder decisions and saved a lot more lives. I don't know why we have to think that [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad doesn't mean what he says. Therefore, the more cautious, prudent way to react to it is, he means what he says.
I remain impressed with this guy. I think that he has political strength because he is clearly not "four more years of W." His Northeastern lineage and his moderate social positions will differentiate him and attract new Republican voters.
He has the visceral response to terrorism that will prosecute the war and the rhetorical skills to lead the American people through the hard work. His New Yawk background gives him an understanding of the importance of the capital markets. I wish he were stronger on the Second Amendment, but I'll take the whole package. I had much deeper reservations about Governor Bush in 2000.
I guess the Democrat Presidential candidates debated yesterday...
Above Average Jane makes an interesting observation.
Did I miss it or were the importance of strong families, encouraging small business ownership, lower interest student loans for college, more mentoring programs, and an emphasis on strengthening father / child bonds not mentioned? I did hear talk of quality affordable child care and good schools. These are good things.
In a Democrat primary debate? Is that the right forum to express these ideas?
Chicago millionaire John Cox is running for president as a Republican. He has largely been ignored by the mainstream media -- until now. Matt Labash writes:
When you have a name like John Cox--a plain vanilla name, an achromatic name, a name that people with more distinctive names would choose if they'd committed a heinous crime and needed to start afresh on the lam--it's easy to feel like everyman and no man. Switchboard.com, the online directory, says that there are 1,979 John Coxes throughout the land. But there is only one John H. Cox. Actually, there are 66 of them. But there's only one who is running to be president of the United States of America.
That John Cox, the Chicago millionaire who was the first declared Republican candidate (as of March 2006), called our offices a few weeks ago. He sounded vexed. He sounded desperate. He sounded like a man who was tired of screaming into the void. He needed something that any self-assured, self-contained, well-adjusted person who enters the political arena needs: He needed the validation of people he'd never met.
A good Reaganite conservative, Cox has tried to be self-sufficient, financing his campaign thus far to the tune of $800,000. After 20 trips, he's been to all 99 counties in Iowa. He's been to New Hampshire 14 times, and South Carolina, 10. He's won a Republican straw poll outright in Aiken County, South Carolina, and finished fifth in total votes among all Republican contenders when three other counties were totaled. And yet, he's lucky if he ever gets mentioned in mainstream media candidate roundups. Meanwhile, doing interviews with the Small Government Times just isn't putting him over the top.
Think about it. This is what we're supposed to copy? The poorest Americans are getting far better service than that. And there's nothing about Americans that would make us any better able to run a government health care bureaucracy than the Canadians or the British. In fact, we've got less practice at that sort of thing than they do -- and we might be a lot worse at it.
A downside of an early candidacy annoucement is that we'll replace these great radio chunks for stump speeches, which are by definition rather boring and repetitive.
The ability to predict the future is virtually impossible. We all like to try and we love to think that it is possible, but in reality we are mostly kidding ourselves. The media is especially good at predicting events -- after they happen, of course. Why didn't we see 9/11 coming? Why were the red flags of the Virginia Tech gunman ignored? Quite frankly, it boils down to our complete and utter inability to predict.
Nevertheless, Rick Moran believes that Rudy's inability to predict the future may hurt him in the election:
Herein lies the trap for Giuliani as he seeks to use his well-deserved reputation for leadership gained on 9/11 as a springboard to the presidency. Questions that were arguably glossed over by the 9/11 Commission, about the communications snafus that led to so many firefighters losing their lives, as well as a perceived lack of compassion for workers cleaning up Ground Zero will dog his campaign and actually be used against him by his opponents.
I have heard the discussion of the communication problems before. But perhaps it is my recognition of the fact that we can predict neither the events nor the ability of our infrastructure to hold up in an unlikely, yet catastrophic event that allows me to gloss over these "snafus."
So called "snafus" are not discovered when firefighters are waiting for a call, but rather when they are called into action. The inability to properly handle a catastrophic event properly given one's infrastructure cannot be discovered without a catastrophe.
Full Disclosure: Unlike jk, I am not in the Rudy camp.
Because he has actually cut taxes in his life, NM Gov Bill Richardson is held out to be the "reasonable" Democrat. People really want to believe -- it's like a unicorn.ReviewJournal.com reports:
Richardson called for universal preschool and full-day kindergarten; more civics, language and arts instruction in schools; a $40,000 minimum wage for teachers; and a reform of the No Child Left Behind legislation. He said he would propose a "universal scholarship" to help every student attend college or vocational school.
When I start agreeing with George Will, it's clearly time to rethink my position.
Wait a minute, I love George Will. He writes well. He ties history into politics. He understands baseball. But you must admit that he is the picture of conservative conventional wisdom. When I broke with Peggy Noonan, one of the things that angered me was that she was somehow tuning into George Will, choosing to take a brave stand at an inopportune moment and poison the cause she champions.
Blog friend EverydayEconomist sends a link to a George Will column on Fred! There is much I agree with.
Some say he is the Republicans' Rorschach test: They all see in him what they crave. Or he might be the Republicans' dot-com bubble, the result of restless political investors seeking value that the untutored eye might not discern and that might be difficult to quantify but which the investors are sure must be there, somewhere, somehow.
I've said roughly the same thing, but Will knows how to spell "Rorschach."
The main point, that the Thompson Boom is just a bubble, is unproven. Will and I concede that there might be some genius in staying out of an early campaign season. That question remains unanswered, as does "why does every batter take on 3-0?" Actually, Will might know that one.
Perry Eidlebus of Eidelblog directs me to a post suggesting that Mayor Giuliani’s famous takedown of Rep Ron Paul in the first GOP debate was not intellectually serious: Blogger Karol says "This is what Democrats do to end debate. They appeal to emotions and don't offer concrete rebuttals to arguments." Don Luskin also defended Paul's comments.
Leaving aside the correctness or lack thereof of Hizzoner's attack, I offer a much longer (much) version of my equally dismissive comment that "now is no time for an isolationist." "Why not, jk?" I'm glad you asked...
Professor Deepak Lal in his superb book Reviving the Invisible Hand, talks about LIEOs or Liberal International Economic Orders. He shows that human existence trudges along for millennia with abundance in the good years and famine in the bad without any consistent progress or what I would call wealth creation. Then when Pope Urban, or powerful Italian mercantilists get enough power to enforce contracts on a larger region, Adam Smith's principles kick in and people make lasting progress.
The major LIEOs he presents are what you might call "Pax Britannia" from Peale's repeal of the Corn Laws through the First World War, then "Pax Americana" from the end of WWII to the present. Nineteenth Century British naval power "policed the world" and enabled intercontinental trade which raised the living standards of much of the world. Innovations of that period are the foundation for much of today's prosperity. Likewise, American military might enabled the boom most recently in telecommunications and technology.
Between those two prosperous periods, we had worldwide recession, the US Great Depression and two world wars. At the risk of some oversimplification, that is what the world looks like when no one can or will defend the ideals of economic liberalism.
People tell me I "worship the market." I reply that I worship modernity, innovation and prosperity and that the free market has proven to be the best path [cue Kudlow & Company theme music...] The fact is that the growth of prosperity and innovation that I seek will not happen in an isolationist America that closes up its borders and lets the rest of the world prove the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Until a free and prosperous India is prepared to rule the world and keep the forces of darkness and anti-modernity at bay, we will have to do it or be much poorer, I don't want to be poorer.
UPDATE: As jg's comment details, I misattributed the quote in the original post, since corrected. ThreeSources regrets the air. (Do scroll down and read Perry's response.)
I give the former Senator from Tennessee good marks for his Kudlow & Company appearance last night.
I can't imagine anybody missing K & C under any circumstance, but Larry has some highlights of the interview posted on his blog today. Should we let the Democrats roll back the Bush tax cuts, asks Larry?
Well, it's a no-brainer to resist them with all of our power. It's the driving force of this good economy that we're seeing. We're raising more revenue with these lower tax rates than we've ever raised before for the federal government. It's clearly, for them, not about raising money for the legitimate functions of government, it's about redistribution of income and collecting votes. You set the rate where you think you can get the votes, and anything above that, you want to tax. So instead of trying to make the pie bigger, they're trying to concentrate totally on redividing the pie. And that just means less economic growth and a worse economy.
Thompson did a nice riff on Federalism where he was actually disagreeing with Kudlow (Thompson had voted against tort reform because he found it an unwarranted Fed intrusion into states' rights). That scored some points with me.
The rest of the interview, however, Thompson said the right things but he was frequently led there by his host. You get a feel for that in the section that's posted. I wish I still had the Giuliani interview, but Rudy drove the conversation toward freedom and the supply side. Stephen Moore and I got goose-pimply watching Hizzoner.
Thompson also gets to hide behind his non-announcement Admittedly, that may be smart but he can't talk tax cuts "'cause he's not that far yet" "He doesn't want to lay out a detailed plan at this time." Maybe that's okay, and I am not dismissing him or his candidacy. But I am likewise, not waiting for him.
As Buffy says of Faith in Enemies: "She makes Godot look punctual."
Republican Mitt Romney yesterday praised the notion of personal accounts for Social Security recipients, a key aspect of the Social Security reform plan of President Bush that never made it out of Congress.
Romney said it would be a good idea to use the Social Security trust fund to allow personal accounts, which could earn higher rates of return for beneficiaries.
"Personal accounts would be a big plus," Romney said at the New Hampshire Institute of Art yesterday afternoon. Romney spoke to about 175 people in a town hall format where he took questions about civil unions, medical use of marijuana and weapons inspection during the run-up to the Iraq war.
Dean Barnett posts a YouTube clip of a FOX News interview with Republican pollster Frank Luntz.
Luntz gives high marks to Mayor Giuliani, but says that Gov. Romney did better, sending the positive line of his real-time meter "off the charts" when Romney defended his Mormon faith. Interviews with GOP voters provide the exact opposite of my opinion. "He answered the questions, no bull" says the first woman. Many praise his clarity.
Gimme that knob, Frank, I don't think your voters can handle it.
Parity is conserved. The unsettling powers of the Democratic debate which have kept me almost bedridden for two days abated as the brilliant and statesmanlike GOP candidates took the floor at St. Anselm's College last night. (I suggested that t might have been bad sushi, but Dr. AlexC is pretty convinced it was the debate.)
I've got quite a few high marks to give out. First, I haven't heard anybody else say it, but I thought Gov. Romney was the loser last night. John Derbyshire made fun of his bad math allusion, and I was disturbed all evening with his lack of clarity. He rambled on, invoking "a null set" when asked a direct non-hypothetical question: "If you knew now what you knew then, would you have supported the invasion of Iraq?" That's a great question. Romney dissembled for what seemed like an hour, was asked it again and started dissembling again. Mayor Giuliani followed with a direct -- and I believe correct -- answer: "Yes." (I paraphrase, but he was almost that direct.)
That established a pattern, with Romney over-talking and trying too hard to be clever. I thought "OMG, He's our very own Joe Biden!" Maybe nobody else was turned off. I haven't read much criticism of him, but he certainly did not help himself.
I said I'd hand out praise. Senator McCain was eloquent in describing the importance of the war and its consequences. I've a million things to disagree with the man over, but that alone will make him worthy of my support should he win the GOP nomination. Bill Kristol sounded the death knell for his campaign on FOX News Sunday, but the rumors looked greatly exaggerated Tuesday night.
No secret I'm in the Rudy! camp. I still must say my candidate acquitted himself well. He was funny when the lightning came down, he was emphatic in his war support, he was moving in his opposition to Rep Tancredo's suggestion of an immigration hiatus. I don't think he preps. I think he's quick on his feet. It opens him up to gaffes, but it sure works for me.
The also rans also ran pretty well last night. Gov. Huckabee squeezed another good joke off and made a touching defense for his disbelief in evolution, tying it to birthright liberty and distancing himself from the 6-days 6000 years ago creationism that frightens people. He's the star of his tier.
Rep Hunter did more China bashing and pushed the nativist angle, but he still raised himself a couple of notches.
Rep. Ron Paul appeared less crazy. I value his service in the US Congress and want more than anything to bring more Libertarians into the GOP, but his isolationism is naive and it is not the time for it.
Senator Brownback, Gov. Thompson, Gov. Gilmore - you're all good guys but I think I hear your mommies calling. Maybe it's time for you to go. An Apollo project on Cancer?
Our tent is big enough for Creationists, but not for one vocal denier of Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe (DAWG)? I guess it is an election loser and I am prepared to bite my tongue. The Republicans get some props for pushing nuclear power, and domestic drilling, but you could have put Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards up there for the group hugs on alternative energy and energy independence. Couldn't Ron Paul have piped up and said "We import and burn oil because it's the best deal -- as long as it is the best deal, we'll do it." Nope, he had to tie it into foreign policy. This farmer stands alone I guess.
All in all, I'm diggin' being a Republican again. I saw the Dem debate (and have the dry heaves to prove it) and I saw the GOP. I know a lot of the party is disheartened, but I am not.
UPDATE: Fixed a few typos, most notably changing Huckabee's "belief in evolution" to "disbelief..." ThreeSources regrets the arrows.
I ate some bad sushi yesterday in the early afternoon. I was feeling poorly when the Democratic debates started, but I watched them all the way through. On cue at heir completion, I started the auditions for The Exorcist.
At one point McCain went back and forth with one audience member, who said he was upset that the immigration proposal before Congress is not tough enough.
The man asked McCain why the United States couldn’t execute large-scale deportations, as he had heard they did in France and other countries.
“In case you hadn’t noticed, the thousands of people who have been relegated to ghettos have risen up and burned cars in France,” McCain replied. “They’ve got huge problems in France. They have tremendous problems. The police can’t even go into certain areas in the suburbs of Paris. I don’t want that in the suburbs of America.”
perhaps the real lesson of the French experience is that citizenship doesn’t guarantee assimilation. Or perhaps it’s the idea that if you doubt your ability to assimilate people culturally, be sure you can control how many of them are coming in.
Fred Dalton Thompson is planning to enter the presidential race over the Fourth of July holiday, announcing that week that he has already raised several million dollars and is being backed by insiders from the past three Republican administrations, Thompson advisers told The Politico.
Thompson, the "Law and Order" star and former U.S. senator from Tennessee, has been publicly coy, even as people close to him have been furiously preparing for a late entry into the wide-open contest. But the advisers said Thompson dropped all pretenses on Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with more than 100 potential donors, each of whom was urged to raise about $50,000.
On Tuesday morning, Mark Corallo, the undeclared Thompson's frontman, had clicked on to the massively popular Internet news aggregator, the Drudge Report, to find that Moore had challenged Thompson to a political duel, also known as a debate.
"Within the space of about five minutes we decided to do a quick video response," Corallo recalled from his Washington office. He called Thompson and asked if he wanted to "have some fun today" and respond to Moore with a quick video.
Thompson's response was "pure Fred," Corallo said:
"Give me a camera. I already know what I am going to say," said Thompson.
Two phone calls and one camera later, Thompson was ready to go. One "take" later -- with no script, no booking time in a studio and no opposition research or talking points -- Thompson was shot into cyberspace.
Thompson scorched Moore in his witty video, dangling an unlit (Cuban?) cigar alongside a civics lesson that pointed out the perils of Moore's collaborating with the fickle dictator Fidel Castro.
"His video response was all him," said Corallo; it was not written, prepared or massaged by anyone else. "It was literally Fred being Fred."
That was a great debate last night. I think FOXNews did a great job.
I also thought that my candidate, Mayor Giuliani, did a good job. The Instapundit online poll shows him with a commanding lead among those who actually participated.
Number me among those who hope the next debate, however, will have fewer participants. Just opinion, mind you, I'm all for the "vibrancy of more ideas and debate" and all. And I must confess that there is plenty of time. But if you gave jk the scythe, here's where it would fall:
Rep Duncan Hunter: I may have unfairly attributed somebody else's bad economics to him in my review of the last debate. I apologize but give it right back for his protectionist populism and China bashing. I was also annoyed -- yet another time -- by his assertion that his years chairing a Congressional Committee are somehow equivalent to Sen. McCain's heroic service. Rep. Hunter also served. Thanks for your service, Congressman. Goodbye.
Rep. Tom Tancredo: Rep Tancredo has won me over personally. I have been so opposed to him on his signature issue, I got a little personal on these very pages. Tancredo is a smart and principled man and I am proud to have him represent my party and my State in Congress. But he is not Presidential "timber." Not this year. TIMBERRRRRRRRRR!
Gov. Jim Gilmore: Good man. I think George Bernard Shaw once described somebody who, when they walked into a room, made people think that somebody of great charisma and energy had just left. Good job killing the car tax, Jim. Later.
Gov. Tommy Thompson: Somehow, I just don't think so. Maybe we're making the wrong decision but we are. Hasta Luego.
Rep. Ron Paul: You can stay around, Dennis Kucinich style, if you want Congressman Paul. But is that really what you want? Who's the LP running this year? Third Party?
Gov. Huckabee can stay or go. His "John Edwards in a beauty shop" line rocked. Scripted, but perfect. (honorable mention to Rep Tancredo for "Road to Damascus, not the Road to Des Moines"). I propose that Gov. Huckabee can replace the whole wind of second tier candidates, continue to attack Democrats in the GOP primary and perhaps land a VP spot.
I will get behind any of these guys to beat any of the Democrats (A Duncan Hunter - Bill Richardson race would hurt, but the Tradesports on that is about three cents). Gov. Romney bugged me a little with his assertion that he's pro-Second Amendment but supported the assault weapons ban. Makes Rudy look absolutely solid on abortion... Senator McCain was good but you can just feel it slipping away. Torture and Guantanamo are amazing weaknesses, considering his biography. Wrapping himself in the mantle of Gen. Colin Powell is not going to carry him in South Carolina.
You have to like this. Michael Moore challenges Senator Fred Thompson to a debate.
The Senator Responds:
He earned his exclamation mark today.
Hat-tip: Insty, who also links to a Bob Krumm post:
Imagine Thompson in a campaign against a hidebound Hillary Clinton who, like a typical candidate, runs every decision through polls and layers of staff. Thompson would be “inside her OODA loop” so quickly that serious Republicans won’t know whether to laugh at her or feel sorry for her by the time of next November’s election.
UPDATE: I laugh to keep from crying on this story. Kansas's new Democratic Governor, Kathy Sibelius looks to join Louisianna Gov. Blanco:
Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone. She said not having immediate access to things like tents, trucks and semitrailers will really handicap the rebuilding effort.
TEN THOUSAND DEAD! ALL BUSH'S FAULT! Here we go again.
This evening "conservative leaders" (I guess that includes me. ;) ) from around the state of Pennsylvania participated in a thirty minute conference call with Presidential Candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
After a brief introduction by Gary Marks, the Governor went into a brief stump speech centered around fiscal conservatism, and a theme he reitorated for the rest of the call. Federalism and states rights.
He said that "Washington is a mess" and he can turn it around. As governor, he cut programs and departments while lowering taxes. As President he'd like to see McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform repealed. He's opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants and is for securing the borders. He's pro-life and would give the ability to regulate abortion law to the states.
In terms of polling, he says a new CBS poll has him in "a wide lead" over his opponents in New Hampshire. Which stands to figure, neighbors and all.
At that point, the Q&A section began, with the first question going to Ryan Shafik of the Lincoln Institute. Ryan asked if under a Romney administration would there be any entitlement bills with the size of Medicare part D. Romney's response was to say a bill of the size and scope was "shocking" from a GOP President and a majority Republican congress. Under his administration there would be needed reforms in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Colin Hanna from Let Freedom Ring had the next question. Paraphrasing, "would you sign the hate-crimes bill as is currently sitting on the President's desk." Romney went back to federalism, saying the states can be responsible for that, and even though he's not familiar with the details of the bill he'd veto it. (That's a very good answer) He also went on to say that the federal government shouldn't be jumping in to issues with a response. Let the states deal with it, if necessary.
Governor Romney then asked Colin for his opinion, who responded that it was not necessary, does nothing and would be an infringement. Romney said that he heard it might affect what preachers can say from the pulpit.
The next question came from Joe Sterns who asked, "if you could only get one thing done as President, what would it be?"
Mitt didn't give a preference to one, but listed, perhaps in no particular order, a reining of spending; entitlement reform; moving health care to a market based system; and in the foreign policy arena, he'd like to move Islam away from their extremists. He's also like to find away to reform the education system, but says that's not a job for the federal government, but the states.
I didn't catch the name of the next questioner, who was from Newtown Square. "How can you win the Philly 'burbs?" Mitt's answer was to go to the website get signed up and volunteer... and to give what you can. $10, $20, $50 bucks. If we got Hillary or Obama we'd be in for a sharp turn to the left who would appoint judges liberal judges.
The next questioner from North Huntingdon asked about education improvements. My call dropped out, and when I got back in I caught the tail end of "more parental involvement."
Pawatercooler contributor Ben Wren got the final question in about Romneycare. "What's the conservative argument for it?" The answer started with "The Heritage Foundation helped create it." There was a well polling referendum on the ballot in Massachusetts that going to setup a state run health care system, so the legislature had to act.
He gave a brief description of how it works.
Some research indicated that people who could afford health care did not get it knowing that they could get free services at the local hospital. Now, if you can afford it, you'll buy it, or pay the full ride come time.
The state went to insurance companies to find out how to lower premiums, which basically boiled down to fewer mandates. Governor Romney wanted to dispose of the all, but the legislature put a bunch in anyway. In anycase, this lowered the average premium from $350 / month to about $175.
For the poor, they pay what they can afford, still with private insurers. The state then makes up the balance. This costs less than the traditional state spending for "free care" saving the Commonwealth about $300 million per year. $1.3 billion vs $1.0 billion.
The time ran out, but I wanted to ask about his position on the fair tax or his energy policy.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear federalism. I suspect that's from bad experiences as governor and having to deal with mandates from Washington.
Prior to today, of the big three Romney was my least favorite, with Giuliani "in the lead." Given Rudy's recent social issue implosion and this conference, I'm now interested in Romney... I'm still very interested in Thompson, so I'll wait and see, but Romney I liked.
"Mitt" may have scored some points in the first debate, but he collects some bad press in the OpinionJournal Political Diary today. John Fund writes:
Presidential candidates often have to endure personal questions designed to elicit clues to their personality ("What is your favorite color?" "Who is your favorite philosopher?"). Most candidates come up with canned, safe answers that show off their leadership qualities.
Then there is Mitt Romney, who inexplicably named "Battlefield Earth," a science-fiction novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, when asked on Fox News what his favorite novel is. The book, which is not a bad read, was turned into a dreadful movie starring John Travolta, a high-ranking Scientologist.
The ex-governor's reading tastes became a source of great speculation in the Blogosphere. Was Mr. Romney trying to appeal to wealthy Scientologists? Was he signaling he was an Everyman reader comfortable in his own skin who eschewed the pretentious answers some candidates give to such questions? After all, President Bush was widely ridiculed when he named Albert Camus's dense intellectual volume "The Stranger" as his favorite book.
Even Hugh Hewitt, a talk show host who has written a highly laudatory biography of Mr. Romney, flatly says he found the choice strange and challenged Mr. Romney during an interview on his radio show last Friday.
Mr. Romney, feeling the heat from critics, abandoned the choice he had made only a week before. "Well, you know, that's really not my favorite novel," he explained to Mr. Hewitt. "Probably my favorite is Huckleberry Finn and I've read all of Louis L'Amour's books." Perhaps acutely aware that he could be accused of flip-flopping again, Mr. Romney was quick to shore up his science-fiction base. "There's some great science fiction out there," he told Mr. Hewitt, citing Ann McCaffrey's "Dragonflight" and Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game."
But Mr. Romney's choices did not impress SF aficionados. "He has gone from an honest answer, however bizarre a book, to one that is suspiciously convenient," one fan told me. "Orson Scott Card is a fellow Mormon and Ann McCaffrey is from his home state of Massachusetts."
I concur. As a fellow science fiction fan, I found Mr. Romney's answer refreshing, although Hubbard is hardly a great writer. But the former governor wouldn't stick to it once he was ridiculed. Mr. Romney has had an impressive career, but I was hoping for a president with a bit more backbone in standing up for his populist choice against carpers from the literary establishment.
I'm not a sci-Fi guy myself, but I think that the Governor has to be careful of the "too slick" label. His perfectly moisturized skin and Edwards hair can be a real asset. Combined with recent accusations of serial pandering, however, he appears too much the politician.
Romney scored some points with me at the debate. This accusation, for some reason, sets him back.
Sometimes I think that I'm the last guy around who still thinks term limits is a good idea. The professionalization of politics saps people's courage. Their desire to keep their job and not upset anybody overrides all else -- even if it hurts the country.
So the entitlement problem gets kicked a little further down the road. This action is based on the premise that our generation is too greedy to help the next generation. I believe just the opposite is true. If grandmom and granddad think that a little sacrifice will help their grandchildren when they get married, try to buy a home or have children, they will respond to a credible call to make that sacrifice -- if they don't think that the sacrifice is going down some government black hole.
I am going to quote my friend, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. I don't think he'll mind, even though it was a private conversation. He said, "People talk a lot about moral issues, but the greatest moral issue facing our generation is the fact that we are bankrupting the next generation. People talk about wanting to make a difference. Here we could make a difference for generations to come."
So can “Law & Order” actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) become the first presidential candidate with this credit? Thompson played a white supremacist, spewing anti-Semitic comments and fondling an autographed copy of “Mein Kampf” on a television drama 19 years ago.
His colleagues say that he was just an actor putting everything he had into playing the role of a charismatic racist, named Knox Pooley, in three episodes of CBS’ hit show “Wiseguy” in 1988. “Do you call Tom Cruise a killer because he played one in a movie?” asked show creator and writer Stephen J. Cannell.
It's the other different side of the "moral authority" coin that is invoked when people like Martin Sheen must be listened to because "he played the President on TV."
The alternate reality of television is real. At least to some.
What I am reading in blogs this morning does not seem to correlate with the debate I watched last night. For the most part, I hear everybody claiming that his or her candidate won, and that that candidate's chief rival imploded.
I come out of the evening, as I went in, a GulianniGuiliani Rudy supporter. He certainly didn't "win." Yet it was a first debate and not a particularly good forum for Hizzoner. The forum introduces everybody well, but offers few points for a breakout. Everybody hopes for the big Reaganesque quip that lays the other nine to waste, but the reality is that very little moved last night. Most of the folks watching are either committed or professionally uncommitted,
I will give some good marks to the back benchers. I had written off Gov. Huckabee, based on Club for Growth attacks, and I had felt that Senator Brownback was nothing more than a social conservative. Both won my respect with sound economic answers last night. Gov. Thompson surprised me to the upside -- and mirabile dictu, Rep. Tancredo did well. I still disagree with him on his signature issue, but was good on everything else and a good presence.
Gov. Romney gained the most points. It is probably fair that many of his supporters are claiming that he "won." I was glad to hear him questioned on RomneyCare, the issue that separates us, and must admit he played it well.
Out of ten, I must hand out a few "down arrows." Rep. Hunter was wrong on immigration, wrong on trade, and makes a perfect poster boy for the GOP that lost its way in Washington. If there was a gaffe last night, I thought it was Duncan Hunter's. After Senator McCain talked about his war experience, Hunter compared his chairing the Defense Appropriations Committee. "You may be a war hero, but I swilled hundreds of Martinis with the heads of Raytheon!" (I may paraphrase a bit...)
Rep Paul was our crazy old aunt in the attic. Why are only 9% of American voters little-l libertarian? Exhibit A. I knew he was isolationist but that was the wrong time and the wrong crowd to wear it as a badge of honor.
All in all, I'm feeling pretty good to be a Republican. My satellite was still on MSNBC this morning (How come we gotta do Chris Matthews and they won't do FOX?) Tucker Carlson was interviewing "Mudcat," the Democrat who was featured in the Weekly Standard a year or so ago. Mudcat is working with Edwards and I woke up to hearing Carlson ask him "McCain's been around, he's a tough guy. Don't you think he'd spank Edwards like the bad girl he is?" My wife and I exploded with laughter and rewound it a few times. Ann Coulter must wonder how he gets away with it.
According to Forbes magazine, by the way, Castro is now personally worth approximately $900 million. So when he desperately needed medical treatment recently, he could afford to fly a Spanish surgeon, with equipment, on a chartered jet to Cuba. What does that say about free Cuban health care?
The other thing that irks me about Moore and his cohort in Hollywood is their complete lack of sympathy for fellow artists persecuted for opposing the Castro regime. Pro-democracy activists are routinely threatened and imprisoned, but Castro remains a hero to many here. According to human rights organizations, these prisoners of conscience are often beaten and denied medical treatment, sanitation or even adequate nutrition.
If Moore wants a subject for a real documentary, I would suggest looking into the life of Cuban painter and award-winning documentarian Nicolás Guillén Landrián. He was denied the right to practice his art for using the Beatles’ song, “The Fool on the Hill,” as background music behind footage of Castro climbing a mountain. Later, he was given plenty of free Cuban health care when he was confined for years in a “mental institution” and given devastating, repeated electroshock “treatments.”
There are many other artists and activists who have enjoyed similar treatment. I suspect we’ll see movies with sympathetic portrayals of terrorists held in Guantanamo before we ever hear about the torture of true Cuban heroes. Even Andy Garcia’s brilliant fictionalized movie about the real Cuban experience, “The Lost City,” was given the Hollywood silent treatment. My bet, though, is that we’ll hear lots about how Michael Moore showed that Cuba’s socialized medicine is better than ours.
So go ahead and start working on the Oscar speech, Michael.
Senator McCain gets interrogative punctuation instead of the supererogatory exclamation mark. I think he earned it.
McCain and his wife sat for an extended interview on FOXNews Sunday with Chris Wallace yesterday. It was all you needed to know about his candidacy, watchable in a half hour with TiVo. McCain was stalwart and eloquent on the war, reminding me that -- should he win the GOP nomination -- I will support him 100%.
Yet his other positions were open to view as well. Dean Barnett at Hugh Hewitt says he "fired serial bulls-eyes at both feet" and I cannot contradict: Here's Barnett's take:
McCain defended the salubrious effects of the McCain/Feingold abomination, and then added that the issue doesn’t really matter since no one really cares about free speech outside the Beltway. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.) He also strangely suggested that we close Gitmo and transfer the detainees to Leavenworth, apparently because the Kansas climate will do them good. Chris Wallace’s questioning forced him to implausibly maintain that although he was one of three Republicans who voted against the Bush tax cuts, he would resolutely defend them once in the Oval Office.
But his real misstep was on the matter of torture. Senator McCain addresses this particular topic from a unique vantage-point. Although I’m always wary of the Absolute Moral Authority™ argument, on this subject Senator McCain comes pretty darn close to having just that. But he’s still not right.
Barnett goes on to draw a superb comparison between the abortion debate and torture. I suggest the whole post.
I'd happily join Senator McCain, saying that "we don't torture" The moral high ground is valuable, and he is right to question its efficacy. But Barnett is right to suggest that a lot of flexibility remains in the language and its application. I would never, never, never, suggest that we put a human being through half of what the Senator was subjected to in Vietnam.
But sadly the McCain-Andrew Sullivan definition of torture is now accepted. I have zero problem having a female interrogate one of these backward 7th century people. I find it amusing that they are so bothered and I like to use our open-mindedness as a weapon against them. I think the panties-on-the-head at Abu Ghraib was unprofessional, but I still find myself able to fly the flag on holidays.
Loud rock music? It would work on AlexC... Cold temperatures? Waterboarding? I'd start to limit some of these to high value targets. But to expose somebody to discomfort with a very small chance of injury seems fair.
Thanks to Barnett's brilliant post, I have digressed. McCain called for closing Gitmo, recognizing global warming, and he strongly defended McCain-Feingold, saying that the side effects are failures of enforcement, not legislative flaws. And he said that nobody in town hall meetings ever brings it up. "They all want health care and entitlement reform," said the Senator, suggesting that only inside the beltway wonks cared about such things.
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security."
I promise to give Senator Thompson a fair hear hearing should he enter the race, but I remain pretty happy with Hizzoner:
The question is going to be, "How long does it take, and how many losses do we have along the way?" And I truly believe if we go back on defense for a period of time, we can ultimately have more losses and it's going to go on much longer. The power of our ideas is so great we'll eventually prevail. The real question is, "How do we get there?" Do we get there in a way in which it is as expeditious as possible and with as little loss of life as possible, or do we get there in some circuitous fashion.
I pulled that from a longer piece about Giuliani in Best of the Web. He is correct to assert that Democrats do not demonstrate an understanding of the enemy. And right about the consequences.
I was opining on a comment at another Colorado blog I frequent that we really need a Churchill at this time to energize a war weary nation. Much as I love President Bush, this is not his strong suit. I will be giving extra points for inspiring and clear rhetoric in the 2008 race. This has put Giuliani in the front for me, and kept Senator McCain alive.
America is a free country and we do not tell people what they can believe or say. We should realize, however, that there are people in America who are also telling their children that the Holocaust is a lie and that those who say otherwise are their enemies. We cannot prevent them from doing so, but we also cannot let them promote their agenda by claiming they are victimized by historical facts.
This would be a good place to quote an important British writer, George Orwell, who wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” Even in America, our children are often taught a watered down, inoffensive, and culturally sensitive version of events ranging from the Crusades to the battle at the Alamo.
It’s time for people who believe that they have a stake in Western civilization and its traditions to get a little backbone — even if it offends somebody.
Yes, we made mistakes in Iraq, Thompson says. "We went in there too light, wrong rules of engagement, wrong strategy, placed too much emphasis on just holding things in place while we built up the Iraqi army, took longer than we figured. Wars are full of mistakes. You rectify things. I think we're doing that now."
Abortion? "Pro-life. . I think Roe vs. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges."
Gay rights? "I think that we ought to be a tolerant nation. I think we ought to be tolerant people. But we shouldn't set up special categories for anybody. . Marriage is between a man and a woman and I don't believe judges ought to come along and change that."
As for "civil unions," Thompson thinks it should be left up to the states.
Gun control? Thompson is "against it generally."
Reagan comparisons are generally tiresome, but here's one anyway...
There's something else to like about Fred Thompson. He doesn't appear to be lusting after the job as if he needs it for his self-image. This, too, is much like Reagan, who knew who he was before becoming president and was the same after he left office.
I fell completely into the Rudy-Oh-Eight fold last Monday night. He appeared on Kudlow & Company and hit every question out of the park. Stephen Moore was also impressed, suggesting we might call him "Milton Friedman Giuliani." Larry was ready to throw in Mises and Hayek. There's a clip from the show posted on Reason Magazine - Hit & Run where David Weigel talks about the appearance and a rumor that Steve Forbes is signing on with Hizzoner.
It's easy to forget with the dulcet tones of Arthur Branch massaging our ears, but Rudy Giuliani is still the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Two nights ago he appeared on Larry Kudlow's goofy CNBC show* and talked almost exclusively about economics, at one point sounding like he regretted his days as a grandstanding, trader-busting U.S. Attorney.
* Weigel explains: "*I like Kudlow's economics, but he's way too prone to linking movement in the stock market to things traders don't care about but right-wingers do. " I can see plenty of areas where a pure, big-L libertarian would break camp with Kudlow. But it is an astonishing aberration to have a show like Kudlow's on TV. Kudlow & Company is about the only place you're going to hear classical-liberal economics espoused.
Giuliani was outstanding on every question. My friends are enjoying the Sen. Fred Thompson boomlet, and I think highly of the Senator (though I have never seen his TV show). Thompson's continuing support of McCain-Feingold bothers me more than Giuliani’s unfortunate position on guns. It seems far more likely that the next President would be involved in campaign finance than in gun rights.
UPDATE II: Cultural illiterates like me will need to be told that Arthur Branch is "a fictional character on the long-running TV crime drama Law & Order, portrayed by former United States Senator Fred Dalton Thompson." -- Wikipedia.
The crazy rightwing nut jobs on the WSJ Editorial Page hit the perfect tone in the Edwards' announcement:
In today's nasty and polarized politics, we weren't surprised to see some of the cranks on the Web criticize John Edwards for announcing that his Presidential campaign will continue despite the return of his wife's cancer. By these lights, he is supposed to retire from public life and tend to her full-time.
Shouldn't that be up to the two of them? By the look of their press conference yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards wouldn't want her husband to give up his pursuit of the Democratic nomination despite her diagnosis. They seem to be in it together, and to like each other besides.
The decision to continue also reflects the changing reality of cancer and its treatment. The spread of Mrs. Edwards's breast cancer to her bones means that she probably can't be cured in the sense of being declared cancer free. But with improving treatments and new, less toxic anticancer drugs, she could live her currently active life for many more years. "I don't expect my life to be significantly different," Mrs. Edwards said yesterday, in a demonstration of fortitude that is itself a lesson for the rest of us. God speed.
It is hard to think of a politician with whom I have more fundamental disagreements. But their announcement was classy and well done. I hope his candidacy gets pummeled to the ground in short order mind you, but I wish the two of them the best.
Former President Bill Clinton yesterday complained that “it’s just not fair” the way his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is being depicted for her controversial Iraq war vote.
Speaking to hundreds of supporters on conference call, the former president said, “I don’t have a problem with anything Barack Obama [has] said on this,” but “to characterize Hillary and Obama’s positions on the war as polar opposites is ludicrous.
“This dichotomy that’s been set up to allow him to become the raging hero of the anti-war crowd on the Internet is just factually inaccurate.”
Of all things that give me the chills about a second Clinton presidency, it's the aforementioned spinning.
He said he had re-read the Iraq resolution last week, and that his wife had voted only for “coercive inspections.” Clinton justified his wife’s refusal to apologize for her vote by explaining that she was acting out of concern that future presidents might need similar language authorizing “coercive inspections to avoid conflict.”
“It’s just not fair to say that people who voted for the resolution wanted war,” Clinton said.
Hoping to muscle Florida into a pre-eminent role in picking next year's Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, the state House voted Wednesday to leapfrog almost all the other states and set a Jan. 29 primary, with an option to go even earlier.
One of these days, the political class is going to realize, we're all growing tired of a campaign season that's a year ahead of schedule.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked the campaign of the nation's lone Catholic president, John Kennedy, last night as she talked about her challenge in becoming the first female commander-in-chief.
"He was smart, he was dynamic, he was inspiring and he was Catholic. A lot of people back then  said, 'America will never elect a Catholic as president,' " the White House hopeful told the New Hampshire Democrats' 100 Club fund-raiser here.
"But those who gathered here almost a half century ago knew better," she said. "They believed America was bigger than that and Americans would give Sen. John F. Kennedy a fair shake, and the rest, as they say, is history."
Yeah. Let's just pray a Hillary presidency would end better.
[Democrat candidate John] Edwards, in an interview with the Web site Beliefnet.com, said Jesus would be most upset with the selfishness of Americans and the country's willingness to go to war "when it's not necessary."
"I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."
Former Senator Edwards then retired to his 20,000 square foot mansion, before stopping off at Al Gore's mansion for a suntan.
I don't be begrudge these men their wares... but c'mon. Look in the mirror once in a while without combing your hair.
I watched C-SPAN's "Road to the White House" yesterday. It's not that I have no life whatsoever. I had a bad drug reaction and didn't feel well enough to research 19th Century jurisprudence, so I watched the candidates.
Senator Obama was the best of the lot, but he was not pitch perfect by any measure. He gave a good speech, but wandered in text and timbre. At times he would find the prosody of the southern preacher, but the next sentence would come out introspective and overtly nuanced. Good, but not the singing performance we saw at the 2004 convention.
Obama scored some points with me by asking for more responsibility from the African American community. Yes, let's make the schools better -- but let us also teach our children that learning to read is not "acting white." Let us pursue equality in government -- but let us also realize that fatherhood does not end at conception. These were powerful applause lines in the southern, black church and they differentiate Obama from the crowd.
Senator Clinton gave a forced delivery. Many years ago, we all lost track of what the natural HRC looked or talked like. She speechifies instead of speaks now, and she felt that the Reverential Cadence was required. It's true that I'm a tough critic of hers, but I'll have to agree with John Fund, who wrote in OpionionJournal's Political Diary:
Mrs. Clinton also drew a standing-room only crowd, but her speech suffered from her delivery. At times, she sounded shrill or bombastic. Her stirring text made an appealing case for why she as a white woman saw herself as a "grateful beneficiary of Selma" and the progress it sparked, but the crowd reaction was much less than what Bill Clinton would have received. "In [Bill] Clinton's hands that speech would have blown the doors off of the church," one Democratic consultant told me. "It's just the latest example of how she has every asset in this campaign except charisma."
I was also struck by the religious pose struck by both candidates. Representing what I think of as the secular party, both took a tone that I cannot imagine a Republic trying. Senator Clinton began with "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice!" Senator Obama, in a nice riff, compared the 1965 civil rights marchers to "the Moses Generation" and his "the Joshua Generation" needing to complete the hard work the first have started. It made a good point, and it gave homage to the oldsters without pledging fealty to the Sharpton-Jackson-Mfume wing.
Yet I cannot imagine a GOP candidate trying -- or getting away with -- a parable as political speech. Rightly or wrongly, I think they'd be hung in the press.
From Alabama. C-SPAN took us next to New Hampshire, to a house meeting with Senator John Edwards. He was likeable. Of course, he spoke all the claptrap about the need for unions and the vanishing middle class, the need for universal health care (which he’ll pay for by [everybody sing] "rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans!") Somebody teed up a softball question for him on how his campaign will differ from Kerry-Edwards 2004. The questioner was giving him a chance to whine about how the election was stolen, but Edwards answered a better question. I won't talk about the other campaign, but I will talk about mine and you can draw the difference, said Edwards. Every American will know exactly where I stand on nationalized health care, I'm for it, raising people out of poverty, I'm against it [yes, he said that but the tone made clear what he was saying] and where I stand on Iraq.
I must struggle to say something nice about Senator Edwards, so I'll take that. He will stake out his positions more than his Democratic opponents. Yes, he's pandered a bit on Israel and Iran, but he won’t triangulate or nuance the electorate to death. People will know where he stands, and if the nation should vote for that, perhaps the nation deserves him.
No, I don't think I’ll be switching parties anytime soon.
When Rudy Giuliani faces Republicans concerned about his support of gay rights and legal abortion, he reassures them that he is a conservative on the decisions that matter most.
"I would want judges who are strict constructionists because I am," he told South Carolina Republicans last month. "Those are the kinds of justices I would appoint -- Scalia, Alito and Roberts."
But most of Giuliani's judicial appointments during his eight years as mayor of New York were hardly in the model of Chief Justice John Roberts or Samuel Alito -- much less aggressive conservatives in the mold of Antonin Scalia.
A Politico review of the 75 judges Giuliani appointed to three of New York state's lower courts found that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 8 to 1. One of his appointments was an officer of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges. Another ruled that the state law banning liquor sales on Sundays was unconstitutional because it was insufficiently secular.
I'm rather unfazed, for three reasons:
1) He was Mayor of New York, and was not elected with a conservative mandate. A good friend of mine registers himself as a Democrat in Boulder, although he is about as much a Democrat as is Karl Rove. He explains that that is the game in Boulder, and if you want to play, you play on that field. I think this applies to NYC judges as well.
2) I love Nino (Associate Justice Scalia) as much as anybody, but after Raich I realized that he is not the ideal justice (Clarence Thomas may be). I think Scalia legislates conservatism from the bench. My ideal justice interprets. And being an officer of the International Assn of Gay and Lesbian Judges does not preclude that. I concur that not selling liquor on Sunday is non-secular and likely conflicts with the New York State Constitution.
3) I don't like this one, but I am going to use it many times. Republican voters do not have the deep bench in 2008 that they did in 2000. If Phil Grahm decides to run instead of flacking for Senator McCain, I may switch. In the meantime, there is nobody else in the race who interests me at all.
Giuliani 2008. Though I will concede that judges -- irrespective of campaign promises -- would be the weak link in my support.
He encounters California Republicans who, like me, value McCain's military service and respect his dedication to the war -- but, also like me, don't trust him and cannot completely forgive him for past actions. I think this point captures it:
Given their disparate ascents to the national stage, Giuliani's enduring image is more conservative than McCain's. At the risk of oversimplifying, it is perhaps fair to say that Giuliani's image is loudly conservative and quietly moderate, whereas McCain's image is loudly moderate and quietly conservative. These disparate images have taken hold among California Republicans, and Giuliani's image is blowing McCain's out of the water.
I still stay up late at night worrying about what the Clinton oppo-research machine has on the non-parsimonious pol. But I m settling more on his candidacy every day.
Unless Hizzoner Mayor Giuliani comes out this week for Nationalized Oil, he has my support all the way. His competitors for the GOP 2008 nomination have disqualified themselves.
McCain's tiresome California rant against the Bush Administration sent me packing last week. I was going to purchase the domain readytosettleformccain.com but I'm not -- hit GoDaddy, it's up for grabs if you want it,
I don't care if Governor Romney is Mormon, Rosicrucian or Zoroastrian. But his --let me be fair, here -- insane health care boondoggle portends poorly for his belief in markets and liberal economics.
Sally Pipes writes in the WSJ Ed Page today(paid link) that RomneyCare is more than 150% over budget, not meeting its goals, and premiums are 150% of estimations as well.
When then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, introduced a universal health-insurance plan in the Bay State early last year, it was widely acclaimed. But less than a year after passage, RomneyCare is in the intensive care unit, soon to be wheeled into hospice.
The first signs of trouble appeared last August. In a filing to support general obligation bonds, officials projected that the new plan would increase state government health-care spending by $276.4 million in 2007. That's $151 million more than what the public had been told the plan would cost. Meanwhile, the state's new bureaucracy, busily signing up people for free care, has run into trouble finding affordable plans for those who have to pay. The premiums for subsidized plans would consume up to 6% of a person's income -- prompting calls from activists and echoes from politicians that they should be exempted from the individual mandate. So much for universal coverage.
Reality fully hit in late January of this year, when private insurers submitted bids to the bureaucracy that would administer the new program. The average premium for the unsubsidized plans was not $200 per month -- as Mr. Romney promised from the stump -- but rather $380. That's more than 15% of the target audiences' income -- and for a plan with a $2,000 deductible and a total cost
Yes, it's better than single-payer. But if we must have such government intrusion into health care, let's not put a Republican's name on it. Let's give libertarian-leaners a thread of reward for supporting the GOP.
- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has yet to offer an endorsement in the 2008 Republican presidential contest, said today that he would not completely rule out accepting the number two spot on the ticket.
"Anybody who says they wouldn't look at something of that magnitude isn't being honest," Sanford said in an interview from his Capitol office.
Sanford, who won a convincing re-election last fall, cautioned that because of his four young sons (or "family dynamics," as he put it), he is unlikely to continue in elected office past 2010, but said he still wants to remain in the policy arena.
"We want to look for a way we can continue to advance ideas," said the former maverick congressman and wonk in an office that included a healthy stack of books.
"I would assess this administration's record on global warming as terrible," McCain said, recalling that he got "no cooperation from the administration" at Senate hearings on the subject. He pronounced himself "very happy to see the president mention global warming and a renewed commitment from the administration to this issue." But he added tartly: "It's long overdue."
Overdue Senator, is my endorsement of your opponent in the GOP primaries.
He can believe what he wants, and he can certainly criticize an unpopular president in the geographic locus of his unpopularity. But the grandstanding, self-righteous McCain was on display yesterday -- and I really don't like that guy. I will, of course, support Senator McCain should he win the GOP nomination, but I will not support him in the primaries.
If Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the presidency, some top Democrats would like to see her husband, former President Bill Clinton, appointed to serve out Hillary’s unexpired Senate term.
“As a senator, he’d be a knockout,” said Harold Ickes, who was once a top White House aide to Bill Clinton and now gives behind-the-scenes advice to Hillary. “He knows issues, he loves public policy and he’s a good politician.”
Some Democrats and political analysts say Bill Clinton would thrive in the world’s greatest deliberative body, much like Lyndon Johnson did before he became president.
“President Clinton would excel in the Senate,” said Paul Begala, who helped Bill Clinton get elected and served in the White House as a top aide.
“Why not?” Begala added. “He excelled as attorney general and governor of Arkansas, he excelled as president and he’s been a model of the modern Senate spouse.”
John Solomon reports on the Senator's decision to eschew public financing limits, then delivers a sequence of McCain the reformer vs. McCain the candidate comparisons.
McCain the reformer relentlessly argued that six- and seven-figure "soft money" checks that corporations, wealthy individuals and unions were giving to political parties to influence elections were corrupting American politics. "The voices of average Americans have been drowned out by the deafening racket of campaign cash," he warned just a few years ago.
McCain the candidate has enlisted some of the same GOP fundraising giants who created and flourished in the soft-money system, including Bush's fundraising "Pioneers" and "Rangers," who earned their designations by raising at least $100,000 or $200,000 for his campaigns.
Ouch. But it is not undeserved. It makes him look hypocritical to those who don't know him, and reminds those of us who do that his signature issue was to restrict free speech.
The buzz this weekend is all about HIzzoner the Mayor of America. I think I may be ready for the Rudy bandwagon. Good on the war, good on economics. He might be able to sell this "I am moderate on social issues but will pick good SCOTUS justices" to the conservative side of the party.
I am fearful of what the Clinton opposition machine will turn up on the not always cautious or parsimonious pol, but this weekend finds me in the Rudy camp. He's the hawkish-libertarian's candidate.
It happens. We have a common, internecine, enemy. Both Hugh Hewitt and I have read NRO Corner's disparagement of Mayor Giuliani with a mixture of bemusement and fear.
Hugh invites Human Events' Terry Jeffrey onto his program to pin him down. You don't like Hizzoner Rudy, whom would you support? Jeffrey waffles a little and suggests Rep. Tom Tancredo. I have sworn off Tancredo jokes, for the time being, but must agree with Hugh that Rep. Tancredo is not a serious candidate, and that the splintering of the Right this soon is not a good sign.
This answer is an ominous one for the GOP. Tancredo is not a serious candidate, but Jeffrey is a serious opinion-leader on the right. Jeffrey's willingness to publicly bless a protest candidate signals that many on the right would rather fight doomed battles than get to the business of electing a nominee who can be elected president. The irony is that in our conversation Jeffrey points to the importance of the Supreme Court's likely vacancies in his critique of Rudy, but then in effect endorses the sort of fecklessness in politics that almost guarantees that Hillary gets the SCOTUS appointments from January, 2009 to October, 2012.
Mr. Hewitt and I disagree on many things but I think we are united as pragmatists. I'll be giving The Mayor of America a good long look, myself. He is absolute in his support of the war, and his squishier social views may attract moderates. I wish he were more solid on the Second Amendment but it is hardly the issue of our time.
UPDATE Commenter "Enlightenment" in not a big fan of the mayor and left a long comment questioning the conventional storyline of 9/11. I cut it from the comments to save space, but you can click "Continue reading" for the umm, errr, enlightenment.
Ah, Rudy Giuliani. Here's a great campaign slogan for him: "Giuliani for president, because on 9/11 I put on a N.Y. Fire Dept. baseball cap and walked around". Speaking of 9/11...
One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name ("Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham"), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that doesn't look like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.
Deputy Editor Mark Lasswell, of the Wall Street Journal has a little fun with Senator Chuck Hagel's recent soundbite-of-the-week, lambasting his fellow Senators "If you want a safe job -- sell shoes!"
Lasswell finds the comparison quizzical. Checking police statistics, selling shoes has a nonzero robbery rate. Schumpeterian gales and consolidation make the career choice not completely safe for job security. Lasswell points out, deftly, what I suspect we all thought when we saw it. There cannot possibly be a cushier job than U.S. Senator.
But then as now, senators will find a way to make their views known. One of Sen. Hagel's neighbors from out West, for instance, Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, voted for the resolution on Iraq in 2002 and doesn't need to be dared to express his support for the president's war policy in 2007. The senator simply posts it on his Web site: "President Bush is making strategy adjustments in order to improve stability. We're not talking about just Iraq here. We are trying to prevent a catastrophic blowup that would not only be traumatic for the Middle East, but would send reverberations throughout the world." As it happens, before Sen. Enzi got started in politics, he was a small-business owner with stores in Wyoming and eventually one over in Sen. Hagel's home state. What sort of business? Selling shoes.
I'm heartbroken that a nice, sincere, serious man like Senator John Edwards is in such hot water over his new home. John Fund writes about the populist firebrand's new digs in OpinionJournal Political Diary:
Former Senator John Edwards continues to wow crowds with his famous "Two Americas" speech, in which he knits together populist themes in a rousing call for an updated form of class warfare. The bottom line: Corporations must be curbed and the rich taxed more heavily.
But Mr. Edwards is running into a surprising amount of flak over his own lifestyle. Reporters have noted that the former trial lawyer amassed a fortune in personal-injury cases and now is proudly living on the pretty side of the tracks. Also press accounts have noted that, despite his stump speech portraying himself as the "son of a mill worker," Mr. Edwards was actually the son of a middle manager.
The scrutiny has extended to his new house. The Raleigh News & Observer, the most influential paper in his home state of North Carolina, says Mr. Edwards is facing questions about whether "there is any contradiction between" his ownership of 29,000 square foot estate in nearby Chapel Hill and his supposed identification with the poor and downtrodden. His home comes complete with a basketball court, a squash court, a swimming pool and a four-story tower. It's been dubbed "a plantation" and "Uncle John's Cabin." Comedian Jay Leno has been unsparing in his needling of the self-appointed tribune of the working class: "I guess we know which of the two Americas he lives in."
I think folks are making a big deal of nothing. I hear the squash court is not even regulation size...
UPDATE: It's a cheap shot, but a funny cheap shot: Dean Burnett brings us a link to that YouTube of Edwards fixing his hair. You know you want to see it again, cick on over. Go ahead.
I was happy to see Wal*Mart win one in court last week because I love to champion the forces of mercantilism over the needs of low-wage workers. I've shilled for Big Oil and Big Pharma on these pages, why not Big Retail (with Big Customers who eat lots of Little Debbie cakes)?
Seriously, the Maryland law was an insane government intrusion into a private business, comically picking a single private business with which to interfere.
The news is better than I realized at the time. The WSJ Ed Page points out(paid link, sorry!) that this ruling spells trouble for Gov. Mitt Romney's Massachusetts and Gov. Schwarzenegger's California health care coercions mandates.
Judge J. Frederick Motz wrote for that court that "The Act violates Erisa's fundamental purpose of permitting multi-state employers to maintain nationwide health and welfare plans, providing uniform nationwide benefits and permitting uniform national administration." Last week's Fourth Circuit ruling affirmed that decision, and it could spell trouble for the California and Massachusetts schemes.
Leave aside that the plan muscled into law by Maryland's Democratic legislature was far less ambitious. The basic similarity is that all three plans feature employer mandates or taxes aimed at changing employee-benefit plans -- in this case by requiring employers to provide health insurance.
Like the Maryland law, the California plan is explicit on the point, and would require all firms with 10 or more employers to provide health care or pay a 4% tax. This would seem clearly illegal according to the reasoning of the Fourth Circuit, which also said that the ostensibly "voluntary" nature of the Maryland tax was irrelevant from the standpoint of Erisa. No reasonable firm, it said, could be expected to choose to pay money to the state to avoid changing its employee-benefit plan.
Mr. Romney's Massachusetts scheme is slightly different, since it doesn't feature the same kind of percentage tax. But not only would Massachusetts charge a $295-a-head fee to employers that don't provide insurance, it would also make them liable for the catastrophic medical costs of uninsured employees. Again this is likely to fall afoul of Erisa, says one legal expert with whom we spoke, because these penalties are aimed at changing employee-benefit plans that are supposed to be voluntary according to federal law.
This week brings one other piece of bad news for proponents of the Massachusetts model, by the way. Early bids suggest the soon-to-be compulsory insurance policies that will pass muster under the scheme will be expensive -- starting at a whopping $380 per month, or $4,560 a year, for an individual. That's hardly surprising when you look at costs in other states that overregulate their insurance markets, such as New York. But it's more evidence that the better way to get people covered is to mimic the practices of less-regulated states such as Connecticut, where a 35-year-old man can get covered for as little as $50 per month.
Dukakis, Kerry, Romney: like a bad horror movie, another "Commonwealth" pol always springs up...
The sun rose in the east this morning and John McCain says he's in.
There's no question about it: Sen. John McCain is running for president in 2008, the Arizona Republican said today in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
While his presidential exploratory committee still must decide the right time for a formal announcement, McCain said unequivocally that he's in the race.
"There's no doubt," McCain told the Trib. "But, right now, the Iraq issue ... is taking a lot of my attention and effort away, and I think that's appropriate. I'm still a United States senator. I've got to perform my duties."
McCain, Giuliani, Brownback, Ron Paul, ???? nobody appeals to me. At all.
Cato @ Liberty looks at the field of Democrat contenders, and is underwhelmed.
But who’s left in the race? Barack Obama, whose only stated campaign position so far is that he is in favor of hope but who votes for even more spending than Hillary. As does John Kerry, who is turning his hearing aid up higher and higher, listening for the clamor for him to run again. And John Edwards, who in his second campaign is embracing more crank economic nostrums than Huey Long.
And maybe the aforementioned Al Gore, the Lord Voldemort of liberty.
The Republicans are offering independent, centrist, and libertarian voters to the Democrats on a silver platter. And Democrats are about to compete to see who can do the most effective job of driving them away.
On the right, I heard that Ron Paul is interested in running for the Presidency, but man, he's a long shot. Real long shot.
I "joined" the New Republic so I could see the blue-on-blue violence of Martin Peretz vs Daily Kos. But now I get their emails every couple of days.
Here's the latest.
When Massachusetts Mitt Romney announces his bid for the Republican nomination, the race for the White House will suddenly include a Mormon. Romney's presence has led the political theorist Damon Linker to ponder the political implications of Mormonism. Is there any reason to fear a Mormon commander in chief? How should religion enter our calculus for selecting presidents? Linker takes a view that might not seem very politically correct. He argues for taking religion--and its stated beliefs--with the utmost seriousness. Such seriousness would lead a voter to reject an orthodox Mormon presidential candidate. If Romney enters the race, he'll be forced to answer the important questions that Linker poses.
Ugh. Really, haven't we as a country grown beyond this?
When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.
Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
Ditka vs Hillary: Ditka by 48 states.
Ditka vs Obama: 52 states, Guam and Puerto Rico join the union.
Ditka vs Indianapolis Colts: Ditka by 3 touchdowns.
Ditka vs a Hurricane: Unless the hurricane is Hurricane Ditka, it’s a blowout, no pun intended.
With Chuck Norris as his VP candidate, the electoral votes from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatechwan are a lock.
The UN will vote on a resolution of surrender in January of 2009.