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Posts: 42526

« Reply #250 on: November 02, 2007, 10:45:46 AM »

Hillary Reveals Her Inner Self
It's startling. It's still 1993 in there, the year before her fall.

Friday, November 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

The story isn't that the Democrats finally took on Hillary Clinton. Nor is it that they were gentlemanly to the point of gingerly and tentative. There was an air of "Please, somebody kill her for me so I can jump in and show high minded compassion at her plight!"

Barack Obama, with his elegance and verbal fluency really did seem like that great and famous political figure from his home state of Illinois--Adlai Sevenson, who was not at all hungry, not at all mean, and operated at a step removed from the grubby game. Mr. Obama is like someone who would write in his diaries, "I shall point out Estes Kefauver's manifold inconsistencies, then to luncheon with Arthur and Marietta."

The odd thing is it's easier to be a killer when you know exactly what you stand for, when you have a real philosophy. The philosophy becomes a platform from which you can strike without ambivalence. Mr. Obama seems born to be mild. But still, that's not the story.

Nor is it that John Edwards seems like a furry animal on a wheel, trying so hard, to the point he's getting a facial tic, and getting nowhere, failing to get his little furry paws on his prey, not knowing you have to get off the wheel to get to the prey. You have to stop the rounded, rote, bromidic phrases, and use a normal language that cannot be ignored.

The story is not that Mrs. Clinton signaled, in attitude and demeanor, who she believes is her most dangerous foe, the great impediment between her and an easy glide to the nomination. Yes, that would be Tim Russert.

The story is that she talked about policy. Not talking points, but policy. In talking about it she seemed, for the first time, to be revealing what's inside.

It was startling. It's 1993 in there. The year before her fall, and rise.

I spent a day going over the transcripts so I could quote at length, but her exchanges are all over, it's a real Google-fest. Here, boiled down, is what she said.

Giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses makes sense because it makes sense, but she may not be for it, but undocumented workers should come out of the shadows, and it makes sense. Maybe she will increase the payroll tax on Social Security beyond its current $97,500 limit, to $200,000. Maybe not. Everybody knows what the possibilities are. She may or may not back a 4% federal surcharge on singles making $150,000 a year and couples making $200,000. She suggested she backed it, said she didn't back it, she then called it a good start, or rather "I support and admire" the person proposing such a tax for his "willingness to take this on."

She has been accused of doubletalk and she has denied it. And she is right. It was triple talk, quadruple talk, Olympic level nonresponsiveness. And it was, even for her, rather heavy and smug. Her husband would have had the sense to look embarrassed as he bobbed and weaved. It was part of his charm. But he was light on his feet. She turns every dance into the polka. And it is that amazing thing, a grim polka.

But the larger point is that her policy approach revealed all the impulses not of the New Centrism but the Old Leftism. Her statements were redolent of the 1990s phrase "command and control." They reflect a bias toward the old tax-raising on people who aren't rich, who aren't protected, the old "my friends and I know best, and we'll fill you dullards in on the details later."
For a few years now I've thought the problem for the Democrats in general but for Mrs. Clinton in particular is not that America is against tax increases. They've seen eight years of big spending, of wars, of spiraling entitlements. They've driven by the mansions of the megarich and have no sympathy for hedge fund/movie producer/cosmetics empire heirs. They sense the system is rigged toward the heavily protected. They sense this because they're not stupid.

The problem for Mrs. Clinton is not that people sense she will raise taxes. It's that they don't think she'll raise them on the real and truly rich. The rich are her friends. They contribute to her, dine with her, have access to her. They have an army of accountants. They're protected even from her.

But she can stick it to others, and in the way of modern liberalism for roughly half a century now one suspects she'll define affluence down. That she would hike taxes on people who make $150,000 a year.

But those "rich"--people who make $200,000 and have two kids and a mortgage and pay local and state taxes in, say, New Jersey--they don't see themselves as rich. Because they're not. They're already carrying too much of the freight.

What Mrs. Clinton revealed the other night was more than an unfortunate persona. What I think she revealed was that her baseline thinking has perhaps not changed that much since the 1990s, when she was a headband wearing, power suited, leftist-who-hadn't-been-wounded-yet. It seemed to me she made it quite possible to assume you know who she'll be making war on. And this--much more than the latest scandal, the Chinatown funny money and the bundling--could, and I think would, engender real opposition down the road. The big chink in her armor is not stylistic, it is about policy. It is about the great baseline question in all political life: Whose ox is being gored?

A quick word here on why the scandals I refer to above do not deter Mrs. Clinton's rise. There are people who've made quite a study of her life and times, and buy every book, from the awful ones such as Ed Klein's to the excellent ones, such as Sally Bedell Smith's recent "For Love of Politics," a carefully researched, data-rich compendium on the Clintons' time in the White House.
People who've studied Mrs. Clinton often ask why her ethical corner cutting and scandals have not caught up with her, why the whole history of financial and fund-raising scandals doesn't slow her rise.

In a funny way she's protected by her reputation. It's so well known it's not news. It doesn't make an impression anymore. People have pointed out her ethical lapses for so long that they seem boring, or impossible to believe. "That couldn't be true or she wouldn't be running for president." This thought collides with "And we already know all this anyway." Her campaign uses the latter to squash the latest: "old news," "cash for rehash."

I've never seen anything quite like this dynamic work in modern politics. But the other night, for the first time, I had the feeling maybe it isn't going to work anymore, or with such deadening consistency.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on
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« Reply #251 on: November 05, 2007, 08:01:32 AM »

Giuliani Judges Lean Left
By: Ben Smith
March 3, 2007 12:23 AM EST

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.

A third, an abortion-rights supporter, later made it to the federal bench in part because New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a liberal Democrat, said he liked her ideology.

Cumulatively, Giuilani's record was enough to win applause from people like Kelli Conlin, the head of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the state's leading abortion-rights group. "They were decent, moderate people," she said.

"I don't think he was looking for someone who was particularly conservative," added Barry Kamins, a Democrat who chaired the panel of the Bar Association of the City of New York, which reviewed Giuliani's appointments. "He picked a variety from both sides of the spectrum. They were qualified, even-tempered, academically strong."

That is the kind of praise that will amount to damnation (not necessarily faint) among some of the people Giuliani will be trying to impress in Washington on Friday, when he addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference. The group is filled with social conservatives, for whom the effort to recast the ideological orientation of the federal judiciary has been a generation-long project. Giuliani already faced a high threshold of skepticism from many of these activists because of his comparatively liberal record on such hot-button issues as abortion rights, tolerance of gays and gun control.

Giuliani's judicial appointments continue to win good reviews in New York legal circles for being what conservatives sometimes say they want: competent lawyers selected with no regard to "litmus tests" on hot-button social issues. Many of these people were in the mode of Giuliani himself: tough-on-crime former prosecutors with reformist streaks and muted ideologies.

"He took it very seriously -- he spent a lot of time with these candidates," recalled Paul Curran, a Republican and former U.S. attorney who chaired Giuliani's Commission on Judicial Nominations. "He was looking for judges who were willing to enforce the laws."

The mayor of New York appoints judges to three of the state's lowest courts, the Criminal Court and Family Court, which deal with lower-grade crimes than the state's Supreme Court, the main trial court and the Civil Court, which deals in relatively small financial disputes.

When Giuliani took office in 1994, he inherited a system of judicial appointments created by one of his predecessors, Ed Koch, and designed to insulate the courts from political influence. Under the system, the mayor appoints members of an independent panel. Aspiring judges apply to the panel, which recommends three candidates for each vacancy. The mayor chooses among the three.

Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, and top aides who remain close to him, Dennison Young and Michael Hess, reviewed the applications.

Giuliani cast himself in New York not as a conservative (he had actually run on the Liberal Party line) but as a reformer. Though at least 50 of his 75 appointees were registered Democrats (only six were registered Republicans), Giuliani also won praise for, some say, appointing fewer judges with ties to local Democratic politics than his predecessors.

"It was not people coming out of the clubhouses, which is what I'd seen earlier," said Charles Moerdler, a member of the Commission on Judicial Nominations who had served other mayors in the same capacity. "I did not support Rudy (the first time he ran) because he was too conservative for me, so I was very alert to that, but I didn't see any litmus tests on his part," he said.

Giuliani's judges serve across New York's courts, where they're more likely to encounter misdemeanant celebrities -- Boy George and Naomi Campbell have appeared recently in front of his appointees -- than they are to tangle with the Establishment Clause. Some, like a Family Court judge who ruled that an unmarried couple couldn't adopt, would please national conservatives. But many of their occasional forays into jurisprudence would likely make Scalia wince.

Charles Posner, a Brooklyn judge appointed by Giuliani, made the kind of decision that keeps conservatives up nights when he was asked to levy a fine against a shopkeeper, Abdulsam Yafee, who had illegally sold beer at 3:30 a.m. on a Sunday. In an unusual, lengthy 2004 ruling, Posner found that "there is no secular reason why beer cannot be sold on Sunday morning as opposed to any other morning."

Noting that Sunday is only the Christian Sabbath, Posner continued, "Other than this entanglement with religion, there is no rational basis for mandating Sunday as a day of rest as opposed to any other day."
Giuliani was out of office at the time of the decision and, in any case, had no say over his appointees' rulings. His spokeswoman, Maria Comella, declined to comment on the difference between the judges he appointed and those he promises to appoint.

Another Giuliani appointee reached a socially conservative verdict by a means that might not please strict constructionists. Judge Michael Sonberg denied a motion by two Bronx strip-club owners to dismiss prostitution charges against them that were based on dancers' offering "lap dances" to an undercover officer.

Sonberg ruled that the changing "cultural and sexual practices" of the previous two decades permitted him to alter the definition of prostitution.
"Statutory construction cannot remain static while entrepreneurial creativity brings forth heretofore unimagined sexual 'diversions,' " he wrote in a ruling that would have pleased social conservatives while, perhaps, alarming strict constructionists and strippers alike.

More troubling to some of the social conservatives Giuliani is courting, however, would have been Sonberg's other affiliation: When he was appointed in 1995, he was already an officer of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges, a professional group. After his appointment, he became the group's president.

Laboring in the state's lower courts, few of Giuliani's other appointees show signs of ideological leanings. Two, however, were appointed to federal district courts -- one of them, Richard Berman, by President Bill Clinton. The other, Dora Irizarry, was a Bush nominee considered so liberal that Schumer pushed her nomination through.

Irizarry, appointed by Giuliani to the Bronx Criminal Court in 1996, had disclosed that she considers herself "pro-choice" during her 2002 campaign for New York state attorney general. Her appointment to the federal bench was almost derailed when the American Bar Association ruled her "not qualified" on the grounds that as a state judge, she had been "gratuitously rude and abrasive" and "flew off the handle in a rage."

But to Schumer, who led the fight against Bush's appellate judges, Irizarry was a Republican he could live with.

"Temperament is not at the top of my list," Schumer explained at the time, when asked why he supported the former Giuliani appointee. "Ideology is key."
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« Reply #252 on: November 07, 2007, 10:15:09 AM »

“Despite her muddled comments [last] week, there’s no doubt where Mrs. Clinton stands on ballot integrity. She opposes photo ID laws, even though they enjoy over 80% support in the polls. She has also introduced a bill to force every state to offer no-excuse absentee voting as well as Election Day registration—easy avenues for election chicanery. The bill requires that every state restore voting rights to all criminals who have completed their prison terms, parole or probation.” —John Fund

“Senator Clinton is determined not to tell us where she stands on anything. Instead, she has come to believe, probably correctly, that if we knew what she really wants to do as president, we would never vote for her.” —Dick Morris

It’s all about Hillary: “I had a dream that before I died I would see a woman as President of the United States. I think you are the woman and I think this is the time.” —ABC’s Carole Simpson to Hillary Clinton  “When [Hillary] Clinton was asked why she wouldn’t release her White House records from the time she was First Lady, her answer was, ‘Well, that’s not my decision to make.’ Baloney, whose decision is it, the Easter Bunny’s? Come on.” —CNN’s Jack Cafferty  “The notion that there’s stuff that’s being restricted potentially opens the door to asking questions about, well, the travel office where the independent counsel said she had been factually false. How did her brothers get pardons for two felons after being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars? How did she raise $100,000 trading cattle futures? This stuff hasn’t come up in the campaign, but you could almost hear the opponents beginning to chomp at the bit, waiting to ask, ‘What is she hiding?”’ —CBS political correspondent Jeff Greenfield  “[Hillary Clinton] is in a bit of a conundrum, is she not, because she doesn’t want to stake out positions that may haunt her later on if, in fact, she gets the nomination, you know? And at the same time, she risks coming across as if she has no core values or beliefs.” —CBS’s Katie Couric **That’s because she has no core values or beliefs.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2007, 10:19:18 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #253 on: November 09, 2007, 09:26:54 AM »

Things Are Tough All Over
But Mrs. Clinton is no Iron Lady.

Friday, November 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

The story as I was told it is that in the early years of her prime ministership, Margaret Thatcher held a meeting with her aides and staff, all of whom were dominated by her, even awed. When it was over she invited her cabinet chiefs to join her at dinner in a nearby restaurant. They went, arrayed themselves around the table, jockeyed for her attention. A young waiter came and asked if they'd like to hear the specials. Mrs. Thatcher said, "I will have beef."

Yes, said the waiter. "And the vegetables?"

"They will have beef too."

Too good to check, as they say. It is certainly apocryphal, but I don't want it to be. It captured her singular leadership style, which might be characterized as "unafraid."

She was a leader.

Margaret Thatcher would no more have identified herself as a woman, or claimed special pleading that she was a mere frail girl, or asked you to sympathize with her because of her sex, than she would have called up the Kremlin and asked how quickly she could surrender.

She represented a movement. She was its head. She was great figure, a person in history, and she was a woman. She was in it for serious reasons, not to advance the claims of a gender but to reclaim for England its economic freedom, and return its political culture to common sense. Her rise wasn't symbolic but actual.

In fact, she wasn't so much a woman as a lady. I remember a gentleman who worked with her speaking of her allure, how she'd relax after a late-night meeting and you'd walk by and catch just the faintest whiff of perfume, smoke and scotch. She worked hard and was tough. One always imagined her lightly smacking some incompetent on the head with her purse, for she carried a purse, as a lady would. She is still tough. A Reagan aide told me that after she was incapacitated by a stroke she flew to Reagan's funeral in Washington, went through the ceremony, flew with Mrs. Reagan to California for the burial, and never once on the plane removed her heels. That is tough.

The point is the big ones, the real ones, the Thatchers and Indira Gandhis and Golda Meirs and Angela Merkels, never play the boo-hoo game. They are what they are, but they don't use what they are. They don't hold up their sex as a feint: Why, he's not criticizing me, he's criticizing all women! Let us rise and fight the sexist cur.

When Hillary Clinton suggested that debate criticism of her came under the heading of men bullying a defenseless lass, an interesting thing happened. First Kate Michelman, the former head of NARAL and an Edwards supporter, hit her hard. "When unchallenged, in a comfortable, controlled situation, Sen. Clinton embraces her elevation into the 'boys club.' " But when "legitimate questions" are asked, "she is quick to raise the white flag and look for a change in the rules."

Then Mrs. Clinton changed tack a little and told a group of women in West Burlington, Iowa, that they were going to clean up Washington together: "Bring your vacuum cleaners, bring your brushes, bring your brooms, bring your mops." It was all so incongruous--can anyone imagine the 20th century New Class professional Hillary Clinton picking up a vacuum cleaner? Isn't that what downtrodden pink collar workers abused by the patriarchy are for?

But even better, and more startling, people began to giggle. At Mrs. Clinton, a woman who has never inspired much mirth. Suddenly they were remembering the different accents she has spoken with when in different parts of the country, and the weird laugh she has used on talk shows. A few days ago new poll numbers came out--neck and neck with Barack Obama in Iowa, her lead slipping in New Hampshire. There is a sense that Sen. Obama is rising, a sense for the first time in this election cycle that Mrs. Clinton just may be in a fight, a real one, one she could actually lose.
It's all kind of wonderful, isn't it? Someone indulged in special pleading and America didn't buy it. It's as if the country this week made it official: We now formally declare that the woman who uses the fact of her sex to manipulate circumstances is a jerk.

This is a victory for true feminism, in its old-fashioned sense of a simple assertion of the equality of men and women. We might not have so resoundingly reached this moment without Mrs. Clinton's actions and statements. Thank you, Mrs. Clinton.

A word on toughness. Mrs. Clinton is certainly tough, to the point of hard. But toughness should have a purpose. In Mrs. Thatcher's case, its purpose was to push through a program she thought would make life better in her country. Mrs. Clinton's toughness seems to have no purpose beyond the personal accrual of power. What will she do with the power? Still unclear. It happens to be unclear in the case of several candidates, but with Mrs. Clinton there is a unique chasm between the ferocity and the purpose of the ferocity. There is something deeply unattractive in this, and it would be equally so if she were a man.

I wonder if Sen. Obama, as he makes his climb, understands the kind of quiet cheering he is beginning to garner from some Republicans, and from those not affiliated with either party. They see him as a Democrat who could cure the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton sickness.
I call it that because it seems to me now less like a dynastic tug of war than a symptom of deterioration, a lazy, unserious and faintly corrupt turn to be taken by the oldest and greatest democracy in the history of man. And I say sickness because on some level I think it is driven by a delusion: "We will be safe with these ruling families, whom we know so well." But we won't. They have no special magic. Dynasticism brings with it a sense of deterioration. It is dispiriting.

I am not sure of the salience of Mr. Obama's new-generational approach. Mrs. Clinton's generation, he suggests, is caught in the 1960s, fighting old battles, clinging to old divisions, frozen in time, and the way to get past it is to get past her. Maybe this will resonate. But I don't think Mrs. Clinton is the exemplar of a generation, she is the exemplar of a quadrant within a generation, and it is the quadrant the rest of us of that generation do not like. They came from comfort and stability, visited poverty as part of a college program, fashionably disliked their country, and cultivated a bitterness that was wholly unearned. They went on to become investment bankers and politicians and enjoy wealth, power or both.

Mr. Obama should go after them, not a generation but a type, the smug and entitled. No one really likes them. They showed it this week.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on
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« Reply #254 on: November 10, 2007, 08:52:11 PM »


Consultant in Chief
What Mitt Romney seems to have in mind is a turnaround project for Washington.

Saturday, November 10, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

"I love data." Mitt Romney has been speaking for less than two minutes when he makes this profession.

The former Massachusetts governor is meeting with the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal to discuss his campaign for the presidency. And he starts not with the economy, "global jihad" or the country as a whole, but with himself.

While some have questioned Mr. Romney's authenticity, the immediate impression he gives is that he speaks straight from the heart. Especially where data are concerned. "I used to call it 'wallowing in the data,' " Mr. Romney continues. "Let me see the data. I want to see the client's data, the competitors' data. I want to see all the data."

This is not only a description of his approach to business. It sums up his political outlook: "You may ask me questions about topics that I haven't studied in depth. I'll be happy to give you my assessment of what I think at this point. But before I would actually make a decision on a very important topic, I would really study it in depth."

At one level, this is a caveat so obvious that most politicians wouldn't bother offering it. But Mr. Romney gives the impression that this is a methodological first principle so important to how he does things that he wants everyone he meets to understand it about him.

Having established his biography, he turns without pause to the question, which he asks himself, "Why am I running for president?"
The answer to this question is as abstract as his overture was personal. The "I" in the question seems to disappear: "I think what America faces now are extraordinary challenges, which, if we deal with appropriately, will allow us to remain the world's military and economic superpower for an indefinite period of time."

Mr. Romney does then introduce a personal element, but it's not his own person. "If we instead take the course that Hillary Clinton would prescribe," he warns, "it would lead to America becoming the France of this century--having started as a superpower, ending up as a second-tier power."

Those challenges include: "global jihad" and "the emergence of Asia as an economic challenge." On the domestic front, he lists: "entitlement-driven financial distress," "overuse of foreign oil" and "the inability of our school system to prepare our kids for the jobs of today, let alone tomorrow." To that, Mr. Romney adds, "the inability of the health-care system to rein in the explosive growth in costs." Needless to say, he thinks "we have a good prospect of solving all of them and remaining the world's power."

Those, then, are the problems that, in his word, "drive" him. And it's a pretty good list. But rather than explain why he is the person to solve them, Mr. Romney shifts gears to talk about himself in another sense.

Politicians don't like to describe themselves as ideological, but most have a core of political precepts. Mr. Romney describes his thus: "Obviously, I have--just like in the consulting world--I have 'concepts' that I believe. I believe the free market works and government doesn't--that when government takes over a function which can be effectively managed in the free market, we make a huge mistake. I think government is almost by necessity inefficient, inflexible, duplicative, wasteful, expensive and burdensome." This is fairly traditional small-government, free-market conservative talk--or would be, if it weren't framed as a "concept," like those used in consulting.

Which makes it seem at first a curious way to describe why one is running for president of the United States and leader of the free world. But it turns out to be a perfect encapsulation of the Romney campaign.

Mr. Romney spent a decade as a consultant, and later ran a private equity concern that grew out of that. For most of his adult life, then, Mr. Romney has been figuring out how to run businesses better. It is not much of a stretch to say that he views the federal government as just one more candidate for a data-driven makeover.

In fact, it may not be a stretch at all. When asked for details about how he would reduce the size of government if elected, he mentions two things: The organizational chart of the executive branch, and consultants. "There's no corporation in America that would have a CEO, no COO, just a CEO, with 30 direct reports."

Running a government organized like this is, he explains, impossible. "So I would probably have super-cabinet secretaries, or at least some structure that McKinsey would guide me to put in place." He seems to catch a note of surprise in his audience, but he presses on: "I'm not kidding, I probably would bring in McKinsey. . . . I would consult with the best and the brightest minds, whether it's McKinsey, Bain, BCG or Jack Welch."

This is not a new idea. The New Democrats too became enamored of the idea of "reinventing government," and Al Gore extolled the potential to making government work more like business as vice president. Except in that case, the larger goal was to show that government need not be sclerotic, bloated and inefficient. Mr. Romney seems to view it more as a turnaround project--trim the fat, reduce expenditure and shrink the organization.
Mr. Romney's data-driven world-view, however, really stands out when he starts talking foreign policy. In a debate last month, he responded to a question about the president's legal authority to attack Iran by saying, "You sit down with your attorneys" and figure out what authority you have.

But this was not merely a dodge--if it had been, it would have been a clumsy one at best. It was a glimpse into the workings of Mr. Romney's mind. At his meeting in our offices this week, he was asked how Candidate Romney would respond upon learning that President Bush had launched an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"I would hope that the president would have outlined a great deal of information," was Mr. Romney's response. "I have very little information, for instance, on: How many nuclear facilities are there? Where are they? Can we take them out? Can we not? What is the capacity of the Iranian military to respond? Are our 160,000 troops in Iraq safe, or are they going to get hit?" Coming from someone else, it might sound like evasion.

But given Mr. Romney's habits of mind, it sounded, instead, perfectly natural. He continued: "It's such a wide array of information I'd need to know whether something is a good idea or a bad idea. . . . So it depends."

He then proceeded to outline examples of good and bad scenarios for attacking before coming around, at last, to what passes for a traditional political assessment of the situation, to wit: He thinks sanctions could still work if we can get other nations on board, and if we can pressure Iran diplomatically and economically, "then I think we have a good shot of getting Iran to behave more responsibly."

The charge that Mr. Romney lacks "authenticity" emerges from the fact that he has flip-flopped over the years, especially on social issues. He famously tried to run to the left of Ted Kennedy on some of those issues in his unsuccessful 1994 Senate race. At that time, he also expressly disavowed being a "Reagan-Bush" Republican.
These days, of course, Mr. Romney is right with "the base" on abortion, same-sex marriage and the whole panoply of "social" issues, which has led to suspicions that Mr. Romney, the businessman, is simply tailoring the product, himself, to the customer--then, the Massachusetts electorate, and now, the national Republican Party.

The impression he gives in person is not, however, that of a salesman tailoring his message to his audience. It is, instead, precisely the person he described in the opening moments of our meeting: A man who goes first to the data, who refers to what some would call their "core beliefs" as "concepts."

At any rate, his response to a question about his former disdain for "Reagan-Bush" is consistent with that version of the man. "Reagan gets a lot smarter the older I get," he allows. He then explains what bothered him then: "I was concerned about what seemed to be looming deficits and inability to rein in spending in those days. And as time has gone on, I've recognized that he was brilliant and did the right thing for our economy. And so I may not have been entirely in sync with Reagan-Bush back at the time, but as time has gone on, I think what they proposed was smarter and smarter."

Framed in that way, what was a flip-flop becomes an openness to reconsider former positions. That may not do much to mollify those who worry about his ideological reliability--he's changed his views before, so what's to stop him from changing them again? But it is a kind of Romneyian consistency--belief in what works, belief in praxis over abstract theory or ideology.

This frame of mind seems to make politics both a befuddlement and a great challenge for the businessman in Mr. Romney. "My wife says," he explains, "that watching Washington is like watching two guys in a canoe on a fast-moving river headed to a waterfall and they're not paddling, they're just arguing. As they get closer to the waterfall, they'll finally start to paddle."

That's characteristically optimistic. But in business, most of the time, everyone agrees on the goal, or which way the waterfall is. The goal is profits at a minimum, and ideally growth too. In politics, the two men in the canoe are probably arguing because they can't agree which way to paddle. Mr. Romney encountered this while governor of Massachusetts, as he acknowledges when describing how he vetoed certain elements of the state's health-care reform law, only to have his vetoes overridden.

And then there is the fact that, in his words, "government is almost by necessity inefficient, inflexible, duplicative, wasteful, expensive and burdensome." And yet he speaks hopefully of whittling down the "342 economic-development programs in this country," the 13 teenage [pregnancy] prevention programs" and the like.
It probably takes a consultant to believe that we have 342 economic-development programs because no one ever hired a consultant to explain that maybe one, or five, or none, would do. And even Mr. Romney is not that naive. There is even something attractive about a politician who is driven by the facts of the case; an excess of ideology is never appealing, and in the worst cases leads to fanaticism of the ugliest sort.

The question for the electorate is whether Mitt Romney is the man of the hour. But when asked whether his "nuts-and-bolts" approach can possibly succeed in an ideological, divided age, he returns to the nuts and bolts.

"I think I'm the only guy who can win the general election," he explains. "That may seem strange, but I think it's going to take someone from outside Washington to win. I think it's going to take someone who's not a lifelong politician to win . . ." Then he goes tactical: "Of course we have to win Florida. And I think almost all of the leading contenders could win Florida with the right running mate and the right policies and the right effort.

"But we also have to win Michigan or Ohio. Winning both would be critical. I don't see how you get there without winning Michigan or Ohio. And I can win Michigan, and I may be able to win Ohio too . . ."

At this point, Mr. Romney may have started to worry that it sounded like he was bragging, because he abruptly shifted to a strange form of self-deprecation: "I can win those states--and by the way, not because of me, but because of my dad," he says. George Romney was governor of Michigan in the 1960s. "My dad's reputation is better than mine will ever be in Michigan. His reputation for integrity and can-do accomplishment is what I think helps me win Michigan. And that's what it takes to win the White House."

Mr. Carney is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.
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« Reply #255 on: November 13, 2007, 07:42:14 AM »

More Taxes vs. More Savings

One debate we'd like to see is Barack Obama versus Fred Thompson. Both men have just unveiled approaches to Social Security reform that couldn't be more sharply distinct.

Mr. Obama told "Meet the Press" on Sunday that higher Social Security taxes are the answer to the system's looming insolvency. "I think the best way to approach this is to adjust the cap on the payroll tax so that people like myself are paying a little bit more and people who are in need are protected," he said.

Currently, only the first $97,500 of a person's annual income is taxed. He properly zinged Hillary Clinton for saying publicly she doesn't favor raising payroll taxes, but quietly telling an Iowa voter this month that she would look favorably on the idea.

Fred Thompson spent much of last Friday explaining the details of his own Social Security plan. He'd leave untouched the benefits of near-term retirees 57 and older, but would reduce benefits for younger workers by indexing them to inflation, not wage growth. Younger workers would also be given the option of contributing up to 2% of their monthly wages, matched by the federal government, into personal retirement accounts similar to a 401(k) plan.

"My plan to protect Social Security guarantees promises made to our seniors and gives today's workers more choice and greater opportunity for their future," said Mr. Thompson.

No doubt Mr. Obama would attack the Thompson plan's resemblance to the personal-accounts proposal put forth by the Bush administration in 2005, which flopped in Congress. Mr. Thompson's plan is also aimed at increasing private retirement savings so Americans can enjoy a more comfortable retirement than Social Security can provide. But his approach doesn't involve diverting payroll tax receipts into private accounts. "There's no reason to run for president of the United States if you can't tell the American people the truth about complex issues like Social Security," he said in a statement released with his plan.

Of course, hoping for such a debate is no doubt a pipe dream. But the media has now been put on notice that at least some candidates have decided to touch the third rail of Social Security and actually want to talk about it.

-- John Fund
The Case for Disqualifying Hillary

Two generations after anti-nepotism laws began to open up civil-service positions to excluded groups like Jews and blacks, "the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way," says Adam Bellow, author of a book entitled "In Praise of Nepotism."

But there are countervailing pressures springing from the deep-seated American distrust of those who seem to ascend to high office in part through artificial privilege. More and more voters are bringing up the fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected and re-elected as president, two dynastic families will have shared the White House for an amazing 28 years.

That's why Grover Norquist, the conservative who runs Americans for Tax Reform, is a few weeks away from unveiling a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban family members from succeeding each other to elected or appointed office. As a parallel, he points out that term limits for the president were once unneeded because office-holders observed the Founders' wishes voluntarily. That changed when FDR broke the unwritten rule by running for a third and fourth term. Today, says Mr. Norquist, we need a formal ban on nepotism in the form of a "Protection From Families" amendment to our governing document.

"We're the United States of America. How can we say to President Mubarak [of Egypt], 'You can't hand off the presidency to your son,'... or, 'Hey Syria and North Korea, you've got to knock this stuff off and be like us,'" he told the London Times.

Mr. Norquist agrees nothing will change the natural human impulse to seek advantage for one's kin. But political dynasties don't sit well with most Americans. In 1960, a Scripps-Howard reporter won a Pulitzer Prize for the shocking revelation that one in five members of Congress had relatives on the official payroll.

Though his version wouldn't technically ban Hillary's run this year (since she wouldn't be directly succeeding her husband), Mr. Norquist, a long-time Republican strategist, knows such a debate would highlight an unattractive aspect of her candidacy. The issue is underlined by the recent presidential election in Argentina, where Cristina Kirchner, wife of current president Nestor Kirchner, will switch roles with him early next year. Her case shows the danger is high with presidential office, whose glamour and power can be handed off to one's relatives. Americans like to think of themselves as having a more mature democracy than that. Mr. Norquist's proposed amendment is a good starting point for a needed debate.

Political Journal/WSJ
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« Reply #256 on: November 13, 2007, 10:31:57 AM »

First, regarding the previous post - Thompson v. Obama is exactly the matchup I'd like to see.
Here is a TIME magazine piece on Hillary that I found to be sympathetic, but somewhat objective.  A little long (4 pages) and dull, and a little bit enlightening.  Then at the end they strangely predict Edwards will win Iowa on electability because he is "the white guy".

What Hillary Stands For
Wednesday, Nov. 07, 2007 By JOE KLEIN,8599,1681670,00.html
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« Reply #257 on: November 15, 2007, 07:56:19 PM »


By Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
November 14, 2007
While most of the politicians vying for their party's nomination for President of the United States pay lip service to the nation's law enforcement officers, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is actually doing something to earn the respect and gratitude of America's cops, according to many police officers and organizations.
For example, the American Federation of Police -- with well over 100,000 members -- recently praised Ron Paul for introducing a bill that would help cops obtain topnotch body armor that would withstand rounds fired from most firearms. Rep. Paul's bill -- HR 3304 -- would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide for a tax credit to law enforcement officers who purchase their own body armor.
"I urge all police officers and concerned citizens to contact their congressmen and ask them to support Rep. Paul's bill," said Deputy Sheriff Dennis Wise, president of the American Federation of Police.
"I would also like to applaud Congressman Ron Paul for his support and forward thinking in trying to help make law enforcement officers across our nation safer each day," said Wise.
Rep. Ron Paul appears to be popular with many US cops. "He's never found it necessary to force police officers to stand with him for photo opportunities the way other presidential candidates such as Hillary Clinton do," said New York Police Officer Edna Aguayo.
One police officer claims cops in New York and other states are forced to pose with the likes of Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain. If an officer refuses, he or she is charged with insubordination by their superiors.
"It's a joke how these cops are used as props during election campaigns. But Ron Paul doesn't pay cops lip service -- he actually works to help them enforce the law," said another cop forced to pose with Sen. Clinton during one of her staged "rallies."
Public opinion service Rasmussen Reports recently released data from its October 12-14 polling that indicates that Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul leads his GOP opponents against Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton among likely voters ages 30-49. He is the leading White House contender for the key demographic, polling higher than Clinton among baby boomers. Congressman Paul polls in at 47%, compared with Clinton's 44%, among likely voters aged 40-49.

The 30-49 demographic has been a key indicator in recent elections, and one in which Republicans tend to fare well in hotly-contested elections. In 2004, exit polls reveal that George Bush beat John Kerry 53% to 46% among 30-44 year olds, and all accounts indicate that this will be the most instrumental demographic in the 2008 presidential election as well.
"Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton," claims political strategist Kent Snyder.
More than 3,000 police officers' lives have been saved by body armor since the mid-1970s when the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) began testing and developing body armor and performance standards for ballistic and stab resistance. Recognition and acceptance of the NIJ standard has grown worldwide, making it the performance benchmark for ballistic-resistant body armor.
Body armor can provide protection against a significant number of types of handgun ammunition, but law enforcement personnel must keep in mind that armor is categorized and rated for different threat levels. Additional protection should be worn for SWAT team operations, hostage rescues, or Special Operations assignments, when officers may be exposed to a weapon threat greater than the protection provided by regular duty armor, according to the National Institute of Justice.
Rank-and-file police officers also applaud Rep. Paul for his pro-sovereignty stance. "The talk must stop. We must secure our borders now. A nation without secure borders is no nation at all. It makes no sense to fight terrorists abroad when our own front door is left unlocked," said the Texas congressman during a campaign rally.

In addition, Congressman Ron Paul believes that the Second Amendment is "not about duck hunting." It is an individual right that is guaranteed. He stated that he believes it is about the citizenry having the ability to restrain tyrannical governments and would be dictators.
He believes the Second Amendment is about self-defense from criminal attack and from governments that break away from the chains of the Constitution. According to a poll conducted by the National Association of Chiefs of Police, more than 75% of the nation's police officers agree with Rep. Paul's stance on gun ownership including private citizens carrying concealed weapons for personal protection.
Just recently Congressman Paul opposed the reauthorization of the Clinton-Feinstein semi-auto gun ban. He opposes gun and gunowner registration. And Paul opposes government permission systems that force law-abiding citizens "prove" their innocence before buying or owning firearms.
AFP president Dennis Wise agrees with Rep. Paul's stance on gun control. "When our founding fathers assembled to write one of the greatest papers ever written -- our Constitution -- they put down the amendments ... in the order of their importance," said Wise.

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« Reply #258 on: November 16, 2007, 11:03:28 AM »

Rudy's Gamble
Giuliani's audacious strategy for the nomination.

Friday, November 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Give Rudy Giuliani this: He's living his campaign slogans. The flinty ex-mayor keeps telling America he's fearless, a risk-taker, the guy who can accomplish the impossible (say, cleaning up Sin City). As if to prove it, he's betting the shop on a high-stakes path to the Republican nomination.

Ever since a relatively unknown Georgia peanut farmer used the early primary states to garner the national spotlight, the track to the presidential nomination has run square through Iowa, New Hampshire and (more recently) South Carolina. Go to Des Moines, get famous. Yet there was Giuliani campaign manager Mike DuHaime this week telling reporters that times have changed. His boss is doing it His Way.

It's been clear for some time that Mr. Giuliani was putting his chips on bigger, if later, primary states such as Florida, California and New York--where a less ideological Republican electorate might prove more open to his social record. Still, there was something about Mr. DuHaime confirming this approach--and by extension dissing the usual three-state slingshot--that had a national press corps blinking. It also earned the Giuliani camp a scoffing dismissal from rival Mitt Romney, himself running a textbook, and so far winning, campaign in every early race.

Some scoff is in order. There's a reason presidential hopefuls have for so long genuflected at the Davenport and Concord and Columbia altars: It works. The momentum that accompanies those early wins is often unstoppable, and it makes the Giuliani plan an audacious gamble. Then again, there's a pragmatism to Hizzoner's approach, one that has wisely recognized that times have indeed changed. If there were ever a chance of shattering the old primary mold, this is the year, and Mr. Giuliani is the man, to do it.
Let's be clear, some of this is simple necessity. You might even say Mr. Giuliani didn't have a choice. Iowa's caucus system, dominated by social conservatives, was never going to blow kisses at the pro-choice, antigun New Yorker--Pat Robertson notwithstanding. Especially so if presented with a true-blue social conservative like Mike Huckabee, who in the latest polls is nipping Mr. Romney's shoes. South Carolina's southern conservatives present a similar challenge. Add to this that if Mr. Giuliani had vowed to conquer those citadels, and failed, his campaign would've taken a blow. You can't lose what you never said you'd win.

At the same time, this year's primary fight, and in particular the Republican race, are unique. The Giuliani wisdom, if that's what it proves to be, has been in recognizing those differences early on and toiling ever since to ply them to the mayor's advantage.

Changed circumstance No. 1 is this year's hypercompressed primary season. Whereas winners once got to bask in the glow of their early victories--and rake in the cash--for many weeks before Super Tuesday, this year they'll get to bask a few hours. Mr. Giuliani's Florida, his "firewall" where he has spent his biggest chunk of cash and currently holds a 17-point lead over Mr. Romney, will take place on Jan. 29, just 10 days after South Carolina.

Meanwhile the races on Giga Tuesday (Feb. 5) alone, which include other big Giuliani prospects such as California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, represent nearly half the delegates necessary to secure the nomination. The Giuliani bet is that the time frame has collapsed enough that he can check any rival "momentum" by cleaning up big in the mega-states.

Changed circumstance No. 2 is the unusual nature of the Republican field itself, in which there is no clear front-runner and voter confusion. Evangelical endorsements are scattered. Terrorism is also making its debut in a Republican primary, and has splintered the usual cohesion of social conservatives and single-issue voters. No one candidate has been able to break away, which means no one is likely to emerge with early landslide victories. Mr. Giuliani is counting that this muddle will deny a Mr. Romney or Fred Thompson the decisive victories they'd need to later challenge in bigger states. It might also allow the mayor some respectable finishes in the early races.

Finally, there's Mr. Giuliani, superstar. The big seduction of the early primaries is that they allow candidates who aren't well known to catapult into the news, thereby becoming household names. Thanks to September 11, Mr. Giuliani is right up there in household names with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. While a onetime Southern governor like Mr. Huckabee has to get a ticket out of Iowa if he wants a shot, Mr. Giuliani may have more flexibility.

The caveats? The New Yorker's ability to pull this off hinges on his ability to truly clean up in the mega-states. His campaign is already boasting that his leads in some of those places are "momentum-proof." But that's the sort of bold statement that borders on hubris. Even with a sped-up primary schedule, five hard-fought contests (the usual three, plus Nevada and Michigan) will still go down before the nation ever bats an eye at Florida. Allowing a campaign to go 0 for 5 in the run-up to that big day gives a new meaning to the word "risk."

The very idea is apparently giving even the Giuliani campaign the cold sweats. So much so that now that the mayor has built up his position in the bigger states, he's working backward. Yesterday the campaign unveiled its first television ad, and its home will be . . . New Hampshire. It's even hinting it hopes to take the state.
This is itself risky. Of all the early plays, New Hampshire's the best bet for Mr. Giuliani, and his TV spot about his economic and crime success in New York is designed to appeal to state Republicans looking for a fiscally sound tough guy. Think of it, too, as a potential death blow to one or more competitors. Mr. Giuliani sure is. Mr. Romney needs to show he can win in his own backyard (and he currently holds a double-digit lead), while John McCain continues to count on the state he won by 19 points in 2000. The downside is that the Giuliani campaign is now playing the expectations game, and losing will only give a boost to the winner.

Primaries are inherently unpredictable, and Mr. Giuliani's foes have no intention of letting the mayor set the rules. But win or lose, Mr. Giuliani deserves marks for daring to play big.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.
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« Reply #259 on: November 16, 2007, 03:32:56 PM »

Not THIS cop! Et tu, Crafty?  evil
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« Reply #260 on: November 16, 2007, 03:52:22 PM »

I notice they didn't endorse him, they applauded him for a particular stand  smiley  I happen to think he is quite right on a number of issues (not 911 or the War with Islamic Fascism) and the second amendment is one of them.
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« Reply #261 on: November 16, 2007, 07:28:24 PM »

I agree with him on multiple points, including the 2nd. I don't like his neo-isolationism and I sure don't like his pandering to the Trufers and nazis.
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« Reply #262 on: November 18, 2007, 07:52:19 AM »

What ‘That Regan Woman’ Knows
New York Times     
Published: November 18, 2007
NEW Yorkers who remember Rudy Giuliani as the bullying New York mayor, not as the terminally cheerful “America’s Mayor” cooing to babies in New Hampshire, have always banked on one certainty: his presidential candidacy was so preposterous it would implode before he got anywhere near the White House.

Surely, we reassured ourselves, the all-powerful Republican values enforcers were so highly principled that they would excommunicate him because of his liberal social views, three wives and estranged children. Or a firewall would be erected by the firefighters who are enraged by his self-aggrandizing rewrite of 9/11 history. Or Judith Giuliani, with her long-hidden first marriage and Louis Vuitton ’tude, would send red-state voters screaming into the night.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. But how quickly and stupidly we forgot about the other Judith in the Rudy orbit. That would be Judith Regan, who disappeared last December after she was unceremoniously fired from Rupert Murdoch’s publishing house, HarperCollins. Last week Ms. Regan came roaring back into the fray, a silver bullet aimed squarely at the heart of the Giuliani campaign.

Ms. Regan filed a $100 million lawsuit against her former employer, claiming she was unjustly made a scapegoat for the O. J. Simpson “If I Did It” fiasco that (briefly) embarrassed Mr. Murdoch and his News Corporation. But for those of us not caught up in the Simpson circus, what’s most riveting about the suit are two at best tangential sentences in its 70 pages: “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”

Kerik, of course, is Bernard Kerik, the former Giuliani chauffeur and police commissioner, as well as the candidate he pushed to be President Bush’s short-lived nominee to run the Department of Homeland Security. Having pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors last year, Mr. Kerik was indicted on 16 other counts by a federal grand jury 10 days ago, just before Ms. Regan let loose with her lawsuit. Whether Ms. Regan’s charge about that unnamed Murdoch “senior executive” is true or not — her lawyers have yet to reveal the evidence — her overall message is plain. She knows a lot about Mr. Kerik, Mr. Giuliani and the Murdoch empire. And she could talk.

Boy, could she! As New Yorkers who have crossed her path or followed her in the tabloids know, Ms. Regan has an epic temper. My first encounter with her came more than a decade ago when she left me a record-breaking (in vitriol and decibel level) voice mail message about a column I’d written on one of her authors. It was a relief to encounter a more mellow Regan at a Midtown restaurant some years later. She cordially introduced me to her dinner companion, Mr. Kerik, whose post-9/11 autobiography, “The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice,” was under contract at her HarperCollins imprint, ReganBooks.

What I didn’t know then was that this married author and single editor were in pursuit of not just justice, but sex, too. Their love nest, we’d later learn, was an apartment adjacent to ground zero that had been initially set aside for rescue workers. Mr. Kerik believed his lover had every moral right to be there. As he tenderly explained in his acknowledgments in “The Lost Son” — published before the revelation of their relationship — there was “one hero who is missing” from his book’s tribute to “courage and honor” and “her name is Judith Regan.”

Few know more about Rudy than his perennial boon companion, Mr. Kerik. Perhaps during his romance with Ms. Regan he talked only of the finer points of memoir writing or about his theories of crime prevention or about his ideas for training the police in the Muslim world (an assignment he later received in Iraq and botched). But it is also plausible that this couple discussed everything Mr. Kerik witnessed at Mr. Giuliani’s side before, during and after 9/11. Perhaps he even explained to her why the mayor insisted, disastrously, that his city’s $61 million emergency command center be located in the World Trade Center despite the terrorist attack on the towers in 1993.

Perhaps, too, they talked about the business ventures the mayor established after leaving office. Mr. Kerik worked at Giuliani Partners and used its address as a mail drop for some $75,000 that turns up in the tax-fraud charges in his federal indictment. That money was Mr. Kerik’s pay for an 11-sentence introduction to another Regan-published book about 9/11, “In the Line of Duty.” Though that project’s profits were otherwise donated to the families of dead rescue workers, Mr. Kerik’s royalties were mailed to Giuliani Partners in the name of a corporate entity Mr. Kerik set up in Delaware. He would later claim that he made comparable donations to charity, but the federal indictment charges that $80,000 he took in charitable deductions were bogus.

Amazingly, given that he seeks the highest office in the land, Mr. Giuliani will not reveal the clients of Giuliani Partners. Perhaps he has trouble remembering them all. He testified in court last year that he has no memory of a mayoral briefing in which he was told of Mr. Kerik’s association with a company suspected of ties to organized crime.

Ms. Regan’s knowledge of Mr. Giuliani isn’t limited to whatever she learned from Mr. Kerik. She used to work for another longtime Giuliani pal, Roger Ailes, the media consultant for the first Giuliani campaign in 1989 and the impresario who created Fox News for Mr. Murdoch in 1996. A full-service mayor to his cronies, Mr. Giuliani lobbied hard to get the Fox News Channel on the city’s cable boxes and presided over Mr. Ailes’s wedding. Enter Ms. Regan, who was given her own program on Fox’s early lineup. Mr. Ailes came up with its rather inspired first title, “That Regan Woman.”

Who at the News Corporation supposedly asked Ms. Regan to lie to protect Rudy’s secrets? Her complaint does not say. But thanks to the political journal The Hotline, we do know that as of the summer Mr. Giuliani had received more air time from Fox News than any other G.O.P. candidate, much of it on the high-rated “Hannity & Colmes.” That show’s co-host, Sean Hannity, appeared at a Giuliani campaign fund-raiser this year.

Fox News coverage of Ms. Regan’s lawsuit last week was minimal. After all, Mr. Giuliani dismissed the whole episode as “a gossip column story,” and we know Fox would never stoop so low as to trade in gossip. The coverage was scarcely more intense at The Wall Street Journal, whose print edition included no mention of the suit’s reference to that “senior executive” at the News Corporation. (After bloggers noticed, the article was amended online.) The Journal is not quite yet a Murdoch property, but its editorial board has had its own show on Fox News since 2006.

During the 1990s, the Journal editorial board published so much dirt about the Clintons that it put the paper’s brand on an encyclopedic six-volume anthology titled “A Journal Briefing — Whitewater.” You’d think the controversies surrounding “America’s Mayor” are at least as sexy as the carnal scandals and alleged drug deals The Journal investigated back then. This month a Journal reporter not on its editorial board added the government of Qatar to the small list of known Giuliani Partners clients, among them the manufacturer of OxyContin. We’ll see if such journalism flourishes in the paper’s Murdoch era.

But beyond New York’s dailies and The Village Voice, the national news media, conspicuously the big three television networks, have rarely covered Mr. Giuliani much more aggressively than Mr. Murdoch’s Fox News has. They are more likely to focus on Mr. Giuliani’s checkered family history than the questions raised by his record in government and business. It’s astounding how many are willing to look the other way while recycling those old 9/11 videos.

One exception is The Chicago Tribune, which last month on its front page revisited the story of how, after Mr. Giuliani left office, his mayoral papers were temporarily transferred to a private, tax-exempt foundation run by his supporters and financed with $1.5 million from mostly undisclosed donors. The foundation, which shares the same address as Giuliani Partners, copied and archived the records before sending them back to New York’s municipal archives. Historians told The Tribune there’s no way to verify that the papers were returned to government custody intact. Mayor Bloomberg has since signed a law that will prevent this unprecedented deal from being repeated.

Journalists, like generals, love to refight the last war, so the unavailability of millions of Hillary Clinton’s papers has received all the coverage the Giuliani campaign has been spared. But while the release of those first lady records should indeed be accelerated, it’s hard to imagine many more scandals will turn up after six volumes of “Whitewater,” an impeachment trial and the avalanche of other investigative reportage on the Clintons then and now.

The Giuliani story, by contrast, is relatively virgin territory. And with the filing of a lawsuit by a vengeful eyewitness who was fired from her job, it may just have gained its own reincarnation of Linda Tripp.
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« Reply #263 on: November 18, 2007, 07:56:36 AM »

Another one from today's NY Times-- this one by arch liberal Maureen Dowd:

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Published: November 18, 2007

Skip to next paragraph
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Maureen Dowd

Go to Columnist Page » The debate dominatrix knows how to rattle Obambi.

Mistress Hillary started disciplining her fellow senator last winter, after he began exploring a presidential bid. When he winked at her, took her elbow and tried to say hello on the Senate floor, she did not melt, as many women do. She brushed him off, a move meant to remind him that he was an upstart who should not get in the way of her turn in the Oval Office.

He was so shook up, he called a friend to say: You would not believe what just happened with Hillary.

She has continued to flick the whip in debates. She usually ignores Obama and John Edwards backstage, preferring to chat with the so-called second-tier candidates. And she often looks so unapproachable while they’re setting up on stage that Obama seems hesitant to be the first to say hi.

With so much at stake, she had to do it again in Vegas, this time using her voice, gaze and body language to such punishing effect that Obama looked as if he had been brought to heel. It was a mesmerizing display, and at an event that drew the highest television ratings of any primary debate this year. The momentum Obama had gained from a vivid speech at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Iowa drained away by the end of the first half-hour.

Other guys, like Rudy, wouldn’t even be looking for a chance to greet Hillary, as Obama always does. Other guys, like Rudy, wouldn’t care if she iced them.

But she can tell that Obama does care, that he doesn’t want her to not like him or be mad at him, that he responds to the sort of belittling treatment that she sometimes dished out to her husband and his male aides at the White House, yelling at them and calling them wimps if they disappointed her.

Obama may be responsive to Hillary’s moods because he lives with another strong woman who knows how to keep him in line. Michelle said she let her husband run for president only when he agreed to give up smoking, and she’s a master at the art of the loving conjugal put-down.

When Hillary walked onstage Thursday, Obama stood to her left waiting to shake hands and say hi, as he and Edwards had done with Chris Dodd. She turned her body away, refused to meet his eyes and froze him out. Again. And he looked taken aback. Again.

For the rest of the night she owned him. He was so off his game that he duplicated her dithering performance from the last debate on the issue of whether illegal immigrants should get driver’s licenses. After a tortured exchange with Wolf Blitzer, he ended up saying he favored it — one more sign that the law professor is oblivious to the visceral nature of campaigns.

Hillary brazenly leapt away from that politically devastating position and said she didn’t support the licenses anymore. And Obama didn’t even call her out on her third reversal on the matter.

She was willing to absorb the flip-flop criticism to cut her losses on an issue that could have dragged her to defeat in the general election.

Obama and Edwards, who both seemed shaken by a few seconds of pro-Hillary booing, let the front-runner set a ludicrous standard: that any criticism of her shifts on issues is “mudslinging” and a character attack.

She is a control freak — that’s why her campaign tried to coach wonky Iowa voters to ask wonky questions — and her male rivals are letting her take control.

The Democrats should not be afraid to mix it up now, while they have a chance, and get all the doubts and disputes out on the table. Taking some flak clearly made Hillary stronger.

If Rudy’s the nominee, he will go with relish to all the vulnerable places in Hillary’s past. At the Federalist Society on Friday, he had barely spoken the word “she” before the audience began tittering appreciatively.

He went through a whole faux- bemused riff on Hillary’s driver’s license twists without ever uttering her name: “First, she was for the idea, and supported Governor Spitzer, who wanted to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Then she was against the idea. Then she was for and against the idea. And then finally she said it should be decided on a state-by-state basis. This is the only time in her career that she’s ever decided anything should be decided on a state-by-state basis. You know something? She picked out absolutely the wrong one. Right? I mean, this is one of the areas that is given to the federal government to deal with under our Constitution, the borders of the United States, immigration.”

Rudy laced his speech with faith references, including the assertion that America has “a divinely inspired role in the world” and a mission to “save a civilization from Islamic terrorism.”

Hillary has her work cut out for her. Rudy will not be so easy to spank.

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« Reply #264 on: November 19, 2007, 09:08:46 PM »

November 19, 2007
Ron Paul is a Useful Man for Democrats

By Andrew Walden
The Ron Paul story never seems to end -- and yet never seems to quite make it into the mainstream media. That's because, in the political equivalent of a bank shot, Paul's fringe support helps bleach embarrassing stains from the Democrats.

First there is the revelation that Jim C Perry, the "Orthodox Jewish" head of "Jews for Paul" also calls himself a gay pagan Unitarian.

Now it turns out that Perry, Paul's point man in response to questions raised by the Jewish Telegraph Agency, is also accused of stealing money from the local New Hampshire branch of the Libertarian Party. What a great guy! It's only an accusation. And the "Libertarian" Perry was in 2006 running for New Hampshire Legislature as a Democrat.

Oh yes: Then the federal raids started.

It turns out that some folks actually buy-in to Ron Paul's blither about US dollars being "phony money". Here Paul is talking about "phony money" at a recent Ron Paul rally outside the Philadelphia Mint with a large crowd including -- surprise, surprise, -- some more white supremacists. (Who show they fully understand the New Orleans protocol.)

Some of Paul's gold bug supporters been trying to pass so-called "Liberty Dollars" off as real currency at stores nationwide. Sleepy clerks have given them change in US currency for purchases. Raids have been conducted in the last few days by the FBI and Secret Service at Liberty Dollar HQ in a strip mall office in Evansville, Indiana, (that's not where I would be keeping three pounds of gold, but I digress) as well as Asheville, NC (here the segregationist ‘Council of Conservative Citizens' is very concerned) and a private mint located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Arrests were also made recently in Wisconsin (on their blogsite, these geniuses detail three places where the spent Liberty Dollars as if they were legal tender). In 2006 two arrests had been made in Buffalo, NY. The Evanston raid netted a huge load of "Ron Paul Dollars" apparently just delivered from Idaho and backed perhaps by the full faith and credit of... Ron Paul?

Ron Paul's Evanston supporters went to Liberty Dollar HQ to protest with Ron Paul-for-president signs. At the Evansville Ron Paul site one of their leaders explains the defense strategy:
"I sent an email to, so with any luck we'll make it on and go viral. If nothing else should come of this, maybe the LD can get a case before the Supreme Court and settle once and for all and maybe Ron Paul's name will be on more people's minds and lips."
And, yes Ron Paul donor 9-11 "troother" Alex Jones did post it. And it did go ‘viral'. But no that doesn't mean the 9-11 "troothers" are integral to the Ron Paul campaign because ...uh...uh... (insert Paulite rationalization here).

Meanwhile over at Reason Magazine, they seem to have lost all of theirs. Writes Jeff Taylor:
"As such, accounts of the (Evansville) raid focused on the Ron Paul angle seem off-base, at least given the available facts."
Sure, just close your eyes and it will all go away. Let yourself get sucked down the toilet with the frauds, and scammers. Reason wants us to believe that Ron Paul has absolutely nothing to do with Ron Paul dollars. But Paul's "troother" supporters believe that George Bush and ‘the Jooos' personally crawled through the ductwork at the World Trade Center to wire the explosives for controlled detonation.

Apparently they didn't get the message at the Daily Paul. Their response to the raid:
"This is pretty scary stuff and reminiscent of a time in Germany...I wonder if the motivation was our wonderful $4.3M day?"
The Street writes;
"...if the raid results in the conviction of anyone involved, it is possible that the Paul campaign may have to return a cash donation made by Liberty Dollar....So far, Liberty Dollar has donated $2,300 to the Paul campaign, a fact confirmed by both Paul's office and Bernard von NotHaus, who runs Liberty Dollar."
No connection there?

No tough questions for Paul, but plenty of fluff. Rolling Stone writes: "Republican takes the lead against the war." This comes after Bill Maher physically chased "troothers" from his studio audience October 19 shouting "out, out, out" and Bill Clinton stared down troother hecklers October 24 with: "An inside job? How dare you?"

The Democrats and their media are using the Paul campaign to scrape six years of accumulated "toother" scum off the Democrat Party, deposit it into the Libertarian movement make a little mess for the GOP. With Obama, Hillary and Edwards all refusing to promise to withdraw troops from Iraq by 2013 Democrats dream of losing the "surrender monkey" tag.
Here is a Chicago Tribune fluff piece with this gem of verbal judo:
"to a growing, Internet-based pool of supporters, the silver-haired obstetrician turned politician is the sanest man at the Republican debates and perhaps in all of Congress. Paul attracts an unusual political potpourri of people of all ages and viewpoints, including a sprinkling of conspiracy theorists and other extremists whose views Paul's campaign disavows."
No anti-Semites, KKKers, or FBI raids in sight anywhere -- just ‘conspiracy theorists'--but all neatly "disavowed." Really? Was that when Jesse Benton -- Ron Paul's national communications director -- said "I cannot say that we will be rejecting Mr. Black's (Stormfront) contribution?"

Well actually Ron Paul appears to be disavowing some contributions: those given by bankers and Wall Streeters. Corporate money is too dirty for Ron Paul to accept but KKK money is not?

The Chicago Tribune also offers this nugget:
"Paul appears financially comfortable but not exceedingly wealthy, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Most of his holdings are in about two dozen gold and silver firms, many valued at less than $15,000 and none valued at more than $250,000."
Do those firms benefit from the sale of Ron Paul Dollars? Of course they do; someone has to bring in the wrong way crowd to buy gold and silver at the top of the commodities cycle.
Meanwhile the mainstream media is mostly ignoring the cesspool of neo-Nazis, Klanners, Holocaust deniers, and gold-bugs-with-the-FBI-pounding-on-their-door, surrounding Paul. Why? The Democrats can unload some of their whack-job fringe to the GOP via Ron Paul and in their dreams, hang these nut jobs around the GOP's neck like a dead albatross. At the same time they assist Hillary or Obama in trying to move to the center for the general election.

Timing is everything. Paul has staked $1.1 million on the NH primary. His big fundraising push November 5 and now December 16 come conveniently before the Jan 1 reporting deadline. That deadline is too close to the Iowa and NH votes for evidence about Paul's supporters to make a difference.

The hard work is done. The information about Paul is on line neatly organized for even the laziest reporter in America to confirm, write up and look like a genius.

Writes WaPo:
"As if Ron Paul's supporters needed any more motivation to storm the battlements and wreak havoc on the Republican presidential primary, now comes this: the feds are trying to take away their money."
Antonio Gramsci would be very proud.

Andrew Walden is editor of Hawai`i Free Press in Hilo.

Page Printed from: at November 19, 2007 - 10:28:26 AM EST

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« Reply #265 on: November 19, 2007, 10:50:59 PM »

Ron Paul has been the anti-Republican in the race so I am surprised they think his errors and misfortunes hurt the cause of where the party ought to be going.  All the fireworks in the debates seemed to be about Paul opposing Republican foreign policies.

OTOH, I heard a Ron Paul radio commercial traveling in Las Vegas yesterday.  His don't-tax-tips bill may never pass, but the radio spot is smart.  I'm sure there is a huge number of service workers in that market and the message broadcast is that they are being unfairly and excessively taxed.  His anti-war message is not very unique but his ant-tax message could be the first that many people hear. 
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« Reply #266 on: November 20, 2007, 06:37:06 AM »

I'm quite bummed to learn of the extent that bigotry supports RP's campaign.  That said, I think much of his appeal is in his originalist based approach to our Constitution.  His positions on gun rights, cutting taxes and cutting back government are strong and clear.

I saw last night that he is polling at 8% in , , , New Hampshire? Iowa?  where Fred is polling at 4%.
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« Reply #267 on: November 20, 2007, 10:15:22 PM »

I had such hopes for Thompson. His campaign has been a comedy of errors though. I'd be surprised if he was viable anymore.
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« Reply #268 on: November 21, 2007, 09:50:08 AM »

I wish I had been wrong but I predicted that Fred was not going to measure up.  To make things worse, I suspect his entry into the race may have contributed to Newt's decision not to run because they would be competing for many of the same voters.  I really wish Newt would have run.
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« Reply #269 on: November 21, 2007, 11:17:19 PM »

In mid December last time, a month later than now, Howard Dean was measuring the west wing for drapes and John Kerry was dull and unexciting.  Okay, bad analogy.  Anyway, back to issues and candidates:

I watched Fred Thompson on Meet the Press a couple of weeks ago and found him to be wise, thoughtful, independent and consistently conservative. (I watched Obama the following week.)  Here is Fred in a different interview today in Iowa:

Fred Thompson on Bloomberg TV

PETER COOK: Let me ask you first of all, if I could, about the economy. You have said that national security is the number-one issue facing the country right now. Where does the economy rank after that?

MR. THOMPSON: Number two, yeah.

MR. COOK: And what is it right now you see in the U.S. economy? Are you confident in the state of the economy? Not everyone is.

MR. THOMPSON: Yeah, I am. I think that we - the underlying factors there that the experts look at, as best I can tell, are strong. We are part of a good world economy now, and I think as long as our fiscal policies and our monetary policies make sense, that we'll continue to be strong. I think it's going to be a very bad time over these next couple of years for a tax increase, and that is what concerns me most.

MR. COOK: President Bush's handling of the economy? What sort of grade would you give President Bush?

MR. THOMPSON: I think that he would get an A as far as tax cuts are concerned. And I think he'd probably get a C-plus as far as spending is concerned. I wish he'd done better on the spending side of the ledger. I think he's doing quite good now with some of the bills that are coming across his desk. But we've got some long-term problems that he has tried to highlight in times past in terms of Social Security that are going to overtake us if we don't do better on the mandatory side of things. They don't just have to do with the everyday fiscal policies but have to do with the locked-in entitlement programs that we're facing.

So as we're concerned day-to-day with what we're doing to affect the economy in terms of fiscal policies, we have to really understand that a little bit further out, we have some drastic things that are going to happen to our economy if we don't get a handle on our mandatory spending.

MR. COOK: I know you've talked about some of these entitlement programs. You were the last one into the race, yet you've been given credit for being the first to talk about Social Security. And you've highlighted your own plan to deal with Social Security over the long term. Yet there's still some experts in Washington and elsewhere who say Medicare is actually the bigger problem right now. How are you going to fix Medicare?

MR. THOMPSON: So we hop right off into that? Medicare is a bigger problem. There's no question about it. I think that we would probably do ourselves a lot of good in addressing the Medicare problem if we could prove that we could deal with the lesser problem of Social Security. Social Security is going to go bankrupt. I mean, you consider it a lesser problem because it's somewhat easier to fix, although nobody else has stepped up to apply a fix other than myself.

But once we do that, then we need to do things like the hard choices. I think that we're going to have to ask the more affluent to pay a bigger share of the cost in the future for one thing. There's some other features of our Medicare program that -

MR. COOK: But you're not talking about a tax increase there or you are?

MR. THOMPSON: No, I'm talking about means testing some of our benefits. The deductibility, you know, at what point the person has to start kicking into his own retirement solutions - those are the issues I think that we're going to have to look at first. Tax increases, of course, always the first thing the Democrats look at. They want to means test everything. And 5 percent of our people now are paying about 60 percent of our taxes, so I don't know how progressive they want it to be, but they're in danger of hurting the economy; they're in danger of hurting small businesses and individual entrepreneurs if they keep going the tax increase route.

So we have to look at the spending side of the ledger and doing some common sense things now before we have to really hurt anybody, instead of waiting until later when we'll have to hurt everybody when we'll have drastic benefit cuts or astronomical tax increases or astronomical deficits and borrowing from abroad.

MR. COOK: You've talked already about taxes, and Democrats plans to raise taxes, as you and other Republicans suggest. What about your own differences with Republicans on tax policy? Rudy Giuliani is leading in national polls; Mitt Romney leading here in Iowa. How does Fred Thompson differ from those two when it comes to tax policy?

MR. THOMPSON: I think I'm the only one, for example, who has actively and specifically promoted a corporate tax cut. People have been talking around the edges about that for some time, but I came forth a considerable time ago and talked about it in specific detail. I said that -

MR. COOK: What's a corporate tax rate that is appropriate in Fred Thompson's mind?

MR. THOMPSON: Well, I look at what's going on with regard to our international competitors, and I see that 28 percent would be the norm instead of the 35 (percent) that we have now. We have the second real highest tax rate in the industrialized world. We're only one of two countries that hasn't lowered its tax rate since 1994. All of our competitors are doing that. I mean, they've caught on to the game. And why we haven't done that, I don't know. I see today that some officials in the Treasury once again are saying that we need to do that. And it looks like they're getting closer to a proposal.

MR. COOK: They've also talked about eliminating loopholes, if you will - some of the tax breaks that companies enjoy in exchange for lowering that corporate tax rate. Would you support that?

MR. THOMPSON: No, no, that's what Charles Rangel, I think, is promoting. I'm not sure that the Treasury Department.

MR. COOK: Mr. Secretary Paulson has suggested something along those lines as well.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, today, from what I heard - I didn't see any proposals for offsets so far. I don't think you need to approach it from that standpoint. You're going to have to do something about competitiveness. You're going to have to do something about economic growth. And raising taxes at the same time that you're cutting taxes I don't think promotes either one of those things. So I don't believe in the static accounting that goes on in Washington. I don't believe that you have to raise revenue every time you cut taxes. I think that we're still at a level now where a tax cut in the right way and the right amount is beneficial for the overall economy in terms of economic growth. And as far as the corporate tax rate is concerned, it's certainly beneficial to us from a competitiveness standpoint. We just stick out like a sore thumb in terms of the high corporate tax rate.

Other than that, a lot of us are saying pretty much the same thing now in terms of lower taxes. I guess the difference is that I had eight years on the national scene with regard to national tax issues, where I was saying the same thing eight years ago, 10 years ago, 12 years ago. When I was in the Senate, we had a chance to pass about four major tax cuts including the one in 2001, which I think in large part helped lay the groundwork for the prosperity that we have right now. So I was walking the walk back sometime ago before others were even talking the talk, even though on most things, except the corporate tax cut, a lot of us are saying the same things today.

MR. COOK: All right, are we going to see more specifics from your campaign over the next few days with regard to tax policy, and do you care to share any with us right now?

MR. THOMPSON: No, we've got a couple of details to work out yet, but I think it's fair to say over the next several days we'll be putting something out that's specific along those lines, and especially will involve a corporate tax cut.

MR. COOK: Let me ask you about the question of income inequality. There are Democrats on Capitol Hill right now still talking about the Bush tax cuts and how they unfairly were tilted towards the wealthy. They'd like to remedy that, at least some of the proposals on Capitol Hill. Do you believe income inequality is a problem in America right now?

MR. THOMPSON: Well, the Democrats always want to focus on the redistribution of wealth. And they don't recognize the fact that people come up through the system in our country and they come from the lower end to the high end - and go often times to the higher end. And the overwhelming majority of people move one direction or another.

And in a free and open economy and in a growing economy, people have the opportunity to make a determination for themselves as to how far they want to go economically in this country. That's not to say that there's some people that don't need some help and some people that can't help themselves; and we have ways to address those particular problems. But you can't just say that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in this country. I don't think that that's happening that way. I think all levels are moving up.

The IRS just did a study not too long ago, as I recall, that showed just from the income tax forms that they traced back and looked at over a period of time that people were moving from lower income levels to higher income levels throughout their career in this country, which is what you would expect. So I'm more interested in policies that promote that, that let a small-town boy with very meager prospects - one might think - who grew up in a little town like I did and started working in a factory to have the opportunity to live the American dream, as so many of us have. That's what I want to promote today.

MR. COOK: Let me ask you about a couple other issues, if I could, domestic issues. Energy policy - I looked on your website and there are references to energy policies. There are not a lot of specifics there. I'd like to ask you what as president Fred Thompson would do to try and end America's addiction to oil. And I'll start with one specific. Would you support higher vehicle fuel economy standards?

MR. THOMPSON: No, again, taxes are not the way to go. I don't think that - the cost-benefit relationship is not there, which is what I think we always have to look at. I think in terms of our energy policy in general that we're not going to immediately turn our addiction to oil around. We might as well get over that notion. What we've got to do is have greater diversification, working more toward independence and less dependence on the wrong parts of the world.

There's such problem spots like the Middle East, right now. That's going to involve several things. We're going to have to start doing several things better than we have in the past. I think we're going to have to use our own resources more than we have. We can do that -

MR. COOK: But setting higher fuel standards is not one of those steps?

MR. THOMPSON: No, I don't think so. I think that the effect of that, what that would do to the consuming public in terms of the driving habits, what it would do in terms of the increased money that they would be having to pay, what that would do to the economy, what effect that would have on other parts of the economy, I just don't see the cost-benefit there. But I do see greater protection in a more economic environmentally friendly way than we've been able to do in the past of our own resources. It can't solve all of our problem, but certainly part of it. We're making headway, I think, with regard to the cleaner coal technology.

I think nuclear has got to be put back on the table, alternative, renewables, all of those things have got to be put on the table and we have got to do all of those things simultaneously I think in order to become more diversified.

MR. COOK: Related issue, global warming, how big a challenge is global warming? How big a problem is it, do you think?

MR. THOMPSON: I don't think anybody knows yet exactly how big it is. I think it's something that we have got to get answers to. We know that the globe is warming. We don't know whether or not that is part of a cycle. The -

MR. COOK: Do you think humans are responsible?

MR. THOMPSON: The earth has cooled in times past. This could be a part of a warming cycle that we will come out of some day. I don't know how long it would be. We don't know what extent - undoubtedly humans are contributing to it, but we don't know how much and what percentage. And we do know that unless we get other countries growing large economies, like China and India, to cooperate in any solutions that it's not going to be economically realistic for us to try to do things that would harm our own economy and have very little effect unless they join with us in some kind of a solution. But we have got to do everything that we can to get the answers to these questions, to see the nature of the problem, the extent of it, and what we can realistically do about it.

MR. COOK: Immigration, I know you're up with an ad here in Iowa citing your own views on the immigration issue and the proposal that came out of the Senate a couple of months ago. Again, talk to me about the - contrast your - your background, your history on this issue with that of your opponents, most notably, Mr. Mayor Giuliani and Governor Romney.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, the mayor and my backgrounds are in sharp contrast on some points. Nineteen ninety-six, I was passing a bill outlawing sanctuary cities. The mayor went to court to try to overturn that bill, and fortunately, he lost that lawsuit. Sanctuary cities were outlawed, but we still have them in this country in violation of federal law.

I simply think we are in high-tech-growing economy. We have an economic competitiveness issue that education is going to have to solve in part. It is not going to be in our long-term interests to be bringing millions and millions of people in this country who are lower-tech and lower-educated. That is the economic part of it. There is also a fairness part to people who have played by the rules to become a part of our society. They should not be disrespected. Then there is the national security part. A small amount of material in the wrong kind of hands can destroy an American city. We have virtually open borders. So we have to secure our borders and enforce our laws and stop providing inducements for people to come here such as sanctuary cities and driver's licenses and things of that nature.

MR. COOK: As you know, there are a lot of businesses out there who say they need these workers right now; this is important to the U.S. economy, the workers who are here even right now. If you can secure the borders, what happens to the 12 million illegal immigrants already here?

MR. THOMPSON: Enforcement by attrition. Over a period of time, if you enforce the law, if you secure the border, if you require employers to use a system that they have now called e-Verify so that they can readily determine whether or not someone is legal or illegal. If you do away with sanctuary cities, as is really the federal law, and stop providing inducements for people to come here, over a period of time, the numbers will be moving in the right direction and the problem will greatly rectify itself.

MR. COOK: Let me ask you if I could some political questions before we wrap this up here, specifically your take on what is going on in New Hampshire. I know there is a new poll out today that suggests you may be down to 4 percent support there. What is going on in New Hampshire? Are you putting all of the marbles here in Iowa?

MR. THOMPSON: Well, I'm putting a lot of marbles in Iowa, and we've been spending a lot of time in South Carolina where we are doing very well, usually running first in most of the polls there. We're going to have to wait and see. Every day is a new day. You know, Mayor Giuliani is doing well in the national polls but I'm running second in most of the national polls to Mayor Giuliani. So we're about where we need to be overall right now. We have some strength in places and some weaknesses in places and every day is a new day; you just have to do the best you can. It's very, very hard to handicap these races anymore, especially in a place like Iowa. Howard Dean was the odds on favorite in mid-December, and of course that didn't work out too well for him. And you can say the same thing about some of the early primary states in other parts of the country too. So who knows what to make of it.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2007, 10:59:14 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #270 on: November 22, 2007, 04:32:25 PM »

Fred on immigration
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« Reply #271 on: November 22, 2007, 11:18:18 PM »

Here is an interview yesterday by Human Events, a conservative publication, with Mitt Romney covering all the large issues:
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« Reply #272 on: November 25, 2007, 08:25:56 PM »

Calculates which candidate is closest to your positions.
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« Reply #273 on: November 26, 2007, 02:29:05 PM »

The Wolverine Primary
Michigan's early vote is good news for George Romney's son and Bill Clinton's wife.

Monday, November 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

What if we look back on the 2008 presidential nomination contests and conclude one or both were effectively decided by a single vote--and among a group of judges at that?

Democratic partisans still argue that the 2000 presidential contest was decided by a single vote in the U.S. Supreme Court, even though media recounts of Florida ballots showed that the outcome would not have been changed if Bush v. Gore had gone the other way. But there's no doubt that a 4-3 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court last Wednesday saved that state's Jan. 15 presidential primary, which was in danger of being scrapped over a dispute about whether it adhered to the state constitution. The winners are likely to be Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton

Mr. Romney pushed hard for an early primary because he has a natural advantage in Michigan. He was born in Detroit, and elderly voters still fondly remember George Romney, his father, who served as governor in the 1960s. Mr. Romney is counting on winning Iowa on Jan. 3--he has more paid workers there than all the other GOP candidates put together--and he plans to use his advantage as a former governor of next-door Massachusetts to win New Hampshire's Jan. 8 primary. Winning Michigan would then give Mr. Romney three straight victories before the critical Jan. 19 South Carolina primary.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is for now the only leading Democratic candidate to appear on Michigan's ballot. The other top-tier contenders withdrew, following the guidance of the Democratic National Committee, which is threatening to take away Michigan's delegates because it is scheduling a primary against the party's rules. But few observers believe the state will actually be stripped of its delegates in the end, so if she remains the only significant name on the ballot, Mrs. Clinton may pick up some momentum, a publicity bounce and some delegates to boot by exerting almost no effort.

Democratic National Committee member Debbie Dingell, wife of Rep. John Dingell, will try to persuade the state Legislature to amend the primary law to restore the names of Barack Obama, John Edwards, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson. But that could be a tough sell given that Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, the state's top elections officer, says the primary is already well behind schedule and any further delay will make it impossible to get absentee ballots out.

John McCain could also benefit from the Michigan primary should he do well enough in New Hampshire to remain viable. Michigan has no party registration, and in 2000 the votes of independents and Democrats helped Mr. McCain crush George W. Bush in Michigan's primary. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson are less likely to be able to capitalize on the Michigan primary because they have not built large grass-roots organizations in the state. Similarly, Mike Huckabee has not spent any significant time or money in the Wolverine State.

In allowing the primary to go forward, Michigan's high court overturned two rulings that had held that it would be unconstitutional because the two major political parties would have exclusive access to the list of those who voted in the primary. The Supreme Court, using dubious reasoning, said the public's interest in having open primaries as opposed to conventions of party activists outweighed the need to provide equal access to what are clearly public records. It sided with those who wanted publicity for the state over those who wanted public disclosure. (The law setting the primary had a "nonseverability" clause, so that the courts could not order the vote to go forward in compliance with disclosure laws.)
Michigan has now shaken up the primary calendar in a fundamental way. Among Democrats, look for Mrs. Clinton's rivals to work behind the scenes to get their names on the Michigan ballot, whether or not delegates are at stake. Media coverage has become the true currency of politics, and no Democratic opponent of Mrs. Clinton wants to hand her an uncontested victory.

Among Republicans, the pressure will be for Mitt Romney to win Iowa and New Hampshire. He is saturating Iowa with mail and ads and is currently spending $200,000 a week on ads on New Hampshire's ABC affiliate. If he wins both, he will then try for a triple slam with Michigan. Rudy Giuliani, who is trailing badly in Iowa, may now have to focus on winning New Hampshire to avoid giving Mr. Romney a clean sweep in the early states. The pressure on Messrs. McCain and Thompson to poll well somewhere is now more intense.

Iowa and New Hampshire are often said to be the launching pads for successful presidential nominees. This year Michigan may rival them in importance.

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« Reply #274 on: November 27, 2007, 05:54:15 AM »

The hookers don't bother me, but , , ,

Political Whores
"Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, an underdog Texas congressman with a libertarian streak, has picked up an endorsement from a Nevada brothel owner," the Associated Press reports from Reno:

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch near Carson City, said he was so impressed after hearing Paul at a campaign stop in Reno last week that he decided to raise money for him.

"I'll get all the (working girls) together, and we can raise him some money," Hof told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "I'll put up a collection box outside the door. They can drop in $1, $5 contributions."

The Wall Street Journal reports on some of Paul's other backers:

The Paul campaign has also drawn support from antigovernment fringe groups and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Since mid-September, a large "Ron Paul for President" banner has flashed at the bottom of white-supremacist Internet forum "Really, we haven't seen a candidate like Ron Paul in some time. The closest would have been Pat Buchanan" in 2000, says Don Black of West Palm Beach, Fla., the group's founder and a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, who donated $500 to Mr. Paul's campaign.

It's enough to give the Moonlite BunnyRanch a bad name.
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« Reply #275 on: November 28, 2007, 01:06:06 PM »

Flat Tax Fred
Thompson's reform leads the GOP field.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Fred Thompson's Presidential campaign has been struggling, in part because of a sense that he lacks passion and an agenda. But late last week he unveiled a tax reform that is more ambitious than anything we've seen so far from the rest of the GOP field.

Mr. Thompson wants to abolish the death tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut the corporate income tax rate to 27% from 35%. But his really big idea is a voluntary flat tax that would give every American the option of ditching the current code in favor of filing a simple tax return with two tax rates of 10% and 25%.

Mr. Thompson is getting aboard what has become a global bandwagon, with more than 20 nations having adopted some form of flat tax. Most--especially in Eastern Europe--have seen their economies grow and revenues increase as they've adopted low tax rates of between 13% and 25% with few exemptions.

The main political obstacle to such a reform in the U.S. has come from liberals, who favor punitive taxes for "class" reasons, and K Street corporate lobbyists who want to retain their tax-loophole empires. The housing and insurance industries, states and localities, charities, bond traders and tax preparers are all foes of low tax rates.

That's why the idea of a voluntary flat tax--introduced on these pages a dozen years ago--makes political sense. The Thompson plan would allow taxpayers to keep their mortgage and charitable deductions if they prefer, by adhering to the current tax code and rates. But it would also allow the option to abandon those credits and deductions except for a single allowance based on family size ($39,000 for a family of four). Most taxpayers would pay a 10% rate on income above that allowance, with a 25% rate kicking in at $100,000 for a couple. There would only be five lines on the tax form and most taxpayers could fill it out in minutes.

Liberals are already objecting that the plan is not "paid for," by which they mean it doesn't raise taxes the way they hope the next President will. But Mr. Thompson is right in refusing to play by the "static revenue" scoring game that demands that one dollar in estimated tax cuts be offset by one dollar in estimated tax increases somewhere else. "The experts always overrate the revenue losses from tax cuts," Mr. Thompson says, and history supports him going back to the Mellon reductions of the 1920s, the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s, the Gipper's in the 1980s, and this decade's success with President Bush's reductions.
Mr. Thompson's plan is based on one introduced by GOP Representatives Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling that is in any case not designed to lose revenue. It is intended to allow federal receipts to grow at the rate of the economy, which would leave them at some 18% or 19% of GDP--roughly their average of recent decades. When critics object to revenue losses, they are really saying that the tax share of GDP should be allowed to rise to 20% and higher, which is where we are headed if the Bush tax rates expire.

We'd prefer a flat tax with one rate instead of Mr. Thompson's two. Once the concession is made that richer people should pay a higher tax rate, the political temptation is always to raise the rate on the wealthy. The virtue of the single-rate flat tax isn't merely its efficiency but also its moral component: It treats all taxpayers equally. If a person makes five times more money than his neighbor, he should pay five times more taxes, not 10 or 20 times more.

However, what's refreshing about the Thompson plan is that it goes well beyond the current Republican mantra to make "the Bush tax cuts permanent." That is certainly needed, but the GOP also needs a more ambitious agenda, especially with economic growth slowing. The flat tax has the added political benefit of assaulting the special interests who populate the Gucci Gulch outside Congress's tax-writing committee rooms. Lower rates and simplify the tax code, and you instantly reduce the opportunities for Beltway corruption. It is both a tax policy and political reform.

The two apparent Republican front runners, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, should be paying attention. Both have called for tax cuts in general but have dodged any endorsement of the flat tax--presumably because they think it is too politically risky. The politically calculating Mr. Romney has questioned whether the flat tax is "fair." Mr. Giuliani is more open to the idea, saying the flat tax "would be a lot easier. It would probably bring in a lot more revenue and it would not have some of the burdens on the economy that the massive tax code has." That's right, so why not go all the way?
Mr. Thompson's voluntary proposal is one way to deflect some of the inevitable political opposition. Anyone who prefers the current tax code can stick with it. The rest of us can have a better choice.

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« Reply #276 on: November 28, 2007, 01:28:39 PM »

Second post of the day:

NY Times shadings and all, still an interesting piece:

By the time Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York stepped before a wall of television crews in the Public Hearing Room at City Hall on May 19, 2000, there were no surprises left.

Skip to next paragraph
The Long Run
A New York Moment
This is part of a series of articles about the lives and careers of contenders for the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.

In the course of three tumultuous weeks, Mr. Giuliani had been told by doctors that he had prostate cancer. He had announced he was leaving his wife after tabloids reported he was having an affair. And now, he had come to withdraw from the Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton, bringing a sudden end to what was arguably the most anticipated Senate campaign of modern times.
But the 12 months leading to Mr. Giuliani’s departure are as instructive today as they were riveting then: a blistering year of mental gamesmanship, piercing attacks, contrasts in personalities and positions, and blunders, played out by two outsize political figures in a super-heated atmosphere.

It was a year in which both Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton gained many of the political skills the nation is seeing now as they campaign for president. It was a time in which they took a measure of one another as opponents. And it was a shared chapter in their lives that offers a window into what a 2008 White House contest between these New Yorkers might be like, should they each win their party’s nomination.

On the morning when Mr. Giuliani quit, the two sides were deep into preparing for a fall campaign. After an uncertain start in which Mr. Giuliani kept her off balance, Mrs. Clinton had found her way to handle the gibes thrown at her by the confrontational mayor. Rather than engage him, Mrs. Clinton became the foot-tapping, arms-folded sighing mother of a forever misbehaving teenager, a mien intended as much to infantilize Mr. Giuliani as to provoke him.

“I can’t be responding every time the mayor gets angry,” Mrs. Clinton said, smiling as she campaigned in upstate New York a few days before Christmas 1999. “Because that’s all I would do.”

Both sides were prepared for the battle. Television advertising scripts had been drafted (“She says she is a Yankee fan, but she hasn’t even been to a Yankee game,” was the tag line of one Giuliani advertisement), vulnerabilities had been identified and campaign themes tested. Mr. Giuliani’s aides had prepared an indexed 315-page dossier compiling positions and potentially damaging quotes from throughout her life, according to people who saw it. (It included an 11-page chronicle titled “Stupid Actions and Remarks.”)

Mr. Giuliani was going to portray Mrs. Clinton as inauthentic, inexperienced, a liberal champion of big government and a carpetbagger, his advisers said in interviews. Mrs. Clinton was going to paint Mr. Giuliani as divisive and undignified, temperamentally unsuited for the Senate, and profoundly uninterested in national and international affairs, her advisers said.

More than anything, the early stages of the 2000 Senate race offered a lesson on the politics of psychological warfare, as each campaign sought, in the words of one Clinton adviser, to “get inside the head” of the other’s candidate.

Mr. Giuliani pounced on Mrs. Clinton’s slightest misstep, sensing vulnerability in this new and nervous candidate. The mayor, a former prosecutor, often exaggerated her misdeeds and slightly mischaracterized her positions, aides said, in a deliberate effort to goad her into correcting his version of her record — while Mr. Giuliani skipped on to his next attack. He was brash and theatrical, flying to Little Rock one day to announce that he would fly the Arkansas flag over City Hall in New York to highlight the fact that Mrs. Clinton was running for office in a state where she had never lived.

In announcing his withdrawal from the race to succeed Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, Mr. Giuliani said he wanted to turn his attention to fighting his cancer. But some of his aides and senior Washington Republicans say today they had concluded weeks before that he had lost interest in the race, in part because he had become enamored of Judith Nathan, the woman with whom he was having an affair, but also because he realized that he was drawn to the campaign more by the sport and distinction that would come with beating a Clinton than he was by the prospect of serving in the Senate.

As the spring came, Mr. Giuliani would joke gloomily, over cigars, about life as a junior senator and the transition of going from chief executive to one of 100 people, one friend said. He complained about the burdens of fund-raising, while his aides grew frustrated at his reluctance to campaign outside of New York City or discuss federal issues.

As their presidential campaigns look to the past in preparation for a possible renewal of their aborted contest, they have reached strikingly similar conclusions about their potential opponent: Eight years older and more experienced, Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton are each far tougher and more rounded candidates than they were in 2000.

“She is a great candidate now,” said Frank Luntz, who was Mr. Giuliani’s pollster in 2000. “She is a tough-as-nails candidate today. She has learned how to turn people who were openly hostile to her into supporters.”


Page 2 of 3)

Anthony V. Carbonetti, one of Mr. Giuliani’s chief political advisers, said Mrs. Clinton’s lack of executive experience was a critical liability with New York voters in 2000, and would be again with national voters.

“But she is a completely different person,” Mr. Carbonetti said. “You have to give her credit for the Senate experience now. She is not the demon now that she was coming out of the White House. I would not underestimate her at all.”
Much the same sentiment is voiced about Mr. Giuliani by Mrs. Clinton’s advisers. “I’m not going to dispute you on this: He seems like a more disciplined candidate now,” said Howard Wolfson, who worked as Mrs. Clinton’s communications director in 2000, where he frequently tangled with Mr. Giuliani, and is serving the same role again. “I am surprised at the way he has kept his anger in check.”

Ready to Run

It was the start of 1999, and Mr. Giuliani, like Mrs. Clinton, was approaching a turning point in his career. Term limits prevented him from running a third time for mayor, and his advisers said there was never much debate about what he should do next. He viewed the prospect of running against a Clinton as irresistible.

He instructed two of his top consultants from the 1997 campaign for mayor — Adam Goodman and Rick Wilson — to prepare a comprehensive catalog of her public statements, writings and positions going back to when she was a student at Wellesley, a road map into her foibles and vulnerabilities. (Turn to Page 39 for the Lincoln Bedroom; 139 for Whitewater.)

But Mr. Giuliani was trying to plan his campaign as he was running a city, and often seemed to make little effort to find time for his political advisers. They would hop into Mr. Giuliani’s Suburban as it whisked him around the city, where he would turn from talking about the best way to go after Mrs. Clinton to how to deal with the threat of a transit strike at the end of 1999. Mr. Luntz said Mr. Giuliani would arrive at Gracie Mansion after 10 p.m. for campaign planning meetings.

In these sessions, Mr. Giuliani and his aides concluded that Mrs. Clinton would run a highly ordered, meticulous and policy-driven campaign, make an appeal to women on Long Island, and seek to discredit Mr. Giuliani by identifying him with Washington Republicans.

In Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Giuliani’s aides told the mayor, he was facing a smart, cold and tentative opponent, unprepared for the maelstrom of a New York City campaign. The issue of her residency became more than a way to win tabloid headlines: Mr. Giuliani saw it as a way to underline voter perceptions of her as inauthentic, opportunistic and untrustworthy. When Mrs. Clinton flew to New York from Washington for a parade, Mr. Giuliani welcomed her with sarcasm. “I hope she knows the way,” he said. “I hope she doesn’t get lost on one of the side streets.”

Candidate in Training

Mrs. Clinton began that spring with a series of talks with advisers about what she should do now that her husband was leaving the White House. By late spring, the discussion — typically a half-dozen people gathered in the Yellow Oval Room in the second-floor family quarters of the White House — had evolved into a political tutorial on how to be a candidate, how to run in New York and how to deal with Mr. Giuliani.

Her advisers could not have been better suited to the task. Four of them had worked in tough New York campaigns, and two of those had worked in campaigns against Mr. Giuliani. (They remain the nucleus of Mrs. Clinton’s political cabinet today.)

Mandy Grunwald, Mrs. Clinton’s media adviser, was the media consultant to Ruth W. Messinger when she ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Mr. Giuliani in 1997. Mark Penn, who was Mrs. Clinton’s pollster and is today her chief strategist, advised David N. Dinkins when he defeated Mr. Giuliani in the 1989 mayor’s race.

Mr. Wolfson was communications director for Charles E. Schumer when he beat Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato in 1998. Harold Ickes, a longtime close adviser to the Clintons, has been a warrior in New York City politics for 40 years.

This group had observed Mr. Giuliani in three mayoral campaigns, and there was little disagreement about how to run against him: focus on his temperament, his identification with Republican policies and the notion that he was running for a job that did not interest him. Perhaps more significant, when viewed in the context of a potential 2008 rematch, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers suspected that the first lady, who grew up in suburban Chicago, would be a culturally more appealing candidate to rural voters than Mr. Giuliani.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reached many of the same conclusions about her weaknesses that Mr. Giuliani’s advisers had.


Page 3 of 3)

So it was that Mrs. Clinton began her campaign that summer not in New York or its suburbs, but in rural Republican upstate New York, sitting down with small groups of voters. The ostensible purpose of what was called her listening tour was to defuse the criticism of her residency. But it allowed her to learn how to be a candidate and test her upstate appeal.

Yet her low-profile, make-no-waves campaign style worried New York Democrats as they watched Mr. Giuliani gleefully goad her from City Hall.

Those worries peaked in November, when Mrs. Clinton traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah and sat silently as Suha Arafat, the wife of the president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Israel of deploying carcinogenic gases to control Arab protesters in Gaza and the West Bank. It took 12 hours before Mrs. Clinton rebuked Mrs. Arafat; by that point, she had been repeatedly assailed by Mr. Giuliani.

In the weeks after her return, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers determined that they could not win the race unless they turned attention away from Mrs. Clinton and on to Mr. Giuliani: to cast him in “the angry frame,” as one described it. At every opportunity, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers suggested that Mr. Giuliani was slightly out of control, a characterization that was intended to raise doubts about Mr. Giuliani and knock him off stride.

And there were signs it was working. Mr. Giuliani suggested he was the victim of a Clinton-directed conspiracy that included pushing the Brooklyn district attorney, a Democrat, to investigate his campaign manager, Bruce Teitelbaum. “You’ve got to be living on Mars not to figure out what’s going on,” Mr. Giuliani said.

As spring arrived, Mr. Giuliani had yet to give a major speech on federal issues. He was barely campaigning upstate. Mr. Giuliani dismissed the concerns of Republican leaders, explaining that he, unlike Mrs. Clinton, had a full-time job.

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign began to falter in March. New York police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, Patrick Dorismond, after he ran from undercover agents who asked if he had any drugs to sell. Mr. Giuliani authorized the release of Mr. Dorismond’s sealed criminal records from when he was a juvenile and went on Fox News Sunday, where he proclaimed that Mr. Dorismond was “no altar boy.” The remarks ripped across an already polarized city.

Mr. Clinton had already been scheduled to appear the next night at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Harlem. The church was packed with cameras and reporters as Mrs. Clinton, clasping hands with prominent black leaders, walked in singing “We Shall Overcome,” before delivering a speech accusing Mr. Giuliani of dividing the city.

Mr. Giuliani headed upstate, for a Republican dinner in Binghamton. He spoke for exactly 22 minutes, stood for an eight-minute news conference, and then turned for home. Less than a week later, he abruptly canceled four upstate events because, he said, he wanted to attend the rescheduled opening game of the Yankees.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign pounced. Overnight, aides arranged a trip for her to the cities Mr. Giuliani had snubbed and worked the telephone with upstate reporters to stoke the story.

The End

By the time Mr. Giuliani stepped in front of the cameras to announce he was dropping out, Republicans had already concluded that the mayor would not stay in the race: indeed, many were praying he would not. His cancer seemed almost beside the point.

Evidence of his lack of interest had been building for months: the erratic campaign schedule, his treatment of upstate voters, the public way he was carrying on his relationship with Ms. Nathan. His poll numbers were sinking (a New York Times/CBS News poll taken after the Dorismond episode found Mrs. Clinton leading the mayor by 10 points statewide), and he had become a punch line on late-night talk shows.

It was a frazzled end for Mr. Giuliani’s aides, concerned about the health of a friend, bewildered by the humiliating political meltdown they were witnessing, and frustrated that all their preparation for this epic battle would be put aside and that Mrs. Clinton would be left with a relatively easy start for her solo political career.

To this day, their aides quarrel over how the race would have ended had Mr. Giuliani not withdrawn. “If he would have stayed in the race, we would have won,” Mr. Penn said. Told of that, Peter Powers, Mr. Giuliani’s longtime political adviser and close friend, responded, “We viewed her as somebody we can easily beat — not easily, but someone we could beat.”

Mr. Giuliani’s advisers said he could have overcome the collapse of his marriage, assuming he was physically well enough to stay in. But they are not sure they could have overcome another obstacle: that Mr. Giuliani was running for a job that he did not seem to want.

Should their status as their parties’ national front-runners bear up under the actual voting in the primaries, Mr. Giuliani could get the fight against Mrs. Clinton he has been spoiling for. And this time, it is for a job that he by all appearances covets. That may well be the most significant difference between the Clinton-Giuliani race that almost was and that Clinton-Giuliani race that could now be about to unfold.
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« Reply #277 on: November 28, 2007, 06:51:55 PM »

Third post of the day:

Political Journal/WSJ

"From day one, I have been convinced that [former Arkansas Gov. Mike] Huckabee, who is an amazing talent, is running for president to further his career, not serve in the Oval Office. Landing hefty speaking fees and handsome book deals, and perhaps his own cable television gig, are assuredly in his future. It's not that Huckabee is beneath the presidency; it's that he operates in a different orbit. He longs for the spotlight. He loves to entertain and is less concerned with the substance of what he says than with the impression he leaves.... He is a modern-day populist who delights in the sowing-and-reaping praise of others, especially those from the left, but for what, to advance some sort of ideological cause? No, it's about advancing Mike Huckabee" -- David Sanders, a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and a former aide to Mike Huckabee.
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« Reply #278 on: November 28, 2007, 10:48:44 PM »

A quick comment on the most recent posts here in the next President's thread:

I agree with the observation about Mike Huckabee.  He has nothing to lose; he is gaining a national audience and prominence that will be valuable no matter what he does next.  They always say that all 100 Senators deal with national issues everyday and see themselves as the perfect next President but I refuse to believe that every governor of Arkansas thinks it is realistically the next step for him.  The fact that it actually happened one President ago makes it even more improbable IMO.

Excellent piece about the two front runners, Hillary and Rudy, having already faced each other in a campaign; it's a story long overdue.  The electorate in NY is different than the electorate in the USA, but it still it reminds me that Rudy is not necessarily the most electable Republican.  In some ways he doesn't offer enough contrast, he targets some of the same voters and he carries some of the same flaws.  Hillary's people are experts on Rudy and ready to go.  By now all Republican consultants are experts on Hillary so that is not as big of a deal.

Thanks for posting the Fred-friendly piece with the WSJ praising his tax plan. He had a rather contentious sitting with Chris Wallace Sunday morning that I watched.  Chris asked about him dropping in the polls and about some negative comments that Fox commentators had made and Fred responded quoting another source, National Review, who had given him high marks for being the only candidate with a good plan for tackling the entitlement problems that we face.  Now add a great tax plan to that.  My first reaction was that he dodged the poll question but after pondering it I realize he answered with what he is doing to compete for the vote and to set an agenda for if he should win.  As disappointing as the pundits say he is doing, he has consistently stayed in second nationwide which is the best place possible (for those who aren't in first).

Last, my comment on one more post going back.  I didn't like the political calculator.  I answered it rather impatiently the first time through and it told me my candidate was Huckabee.  I didn't like that so I went back and filled in with more detail marking high importance on my key issues and remembering which side of 'net-neutrality' I was on.  Then it came back with a big smiling face of Mitt Romney. Looking further I found out it had the exact same score to the one hundredth of a point for second place, my own personal favorite,  Fred Thompson.  I just think there are subtle differences and personal preferences that don't come through on 'yes, no or unsure' choices on big issues. JMHO.
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« Reply #279 on: November 28, 2007, 11:14:01 PM »

The Moonlight Bunny Ranch's support of Ron Paul hurts my opinon of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch.
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« Reply #280 on: November 30, 2007, 06:39:53 AM »

Fred's Folly
Too bad Thompson won't sell his good ideas.

Friday, November 30, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

On Fox News this Sunday, Fred Thompson laid out the most creative tax proposal yet in the race for president. It should have been an important moment, the point at which GOP aspirants finally dug into a core issue and went a few rounds over marginal rates and corporate levies.

Instead, nothing. The Thompson plan inspired little fanfare, less press and didn't even merit time during this week's GOP debate. The black hole says everything about the mess that is the Thompson campaign, and just as much about today's intellectually bereft Republican primary campaign.

The standard rap on the former Tennessee senator is that he's lazy. This is meant to explain why--despite movie-star status, Southern conservative credentials, and Beltway experience--his campaign has been as fizzy as day-old cherry Coke. The reality is more complex--and more concerning for Mr. Thompson's presidential prospects.

The Watergate attorney has made himself into this election's Don Quixote, the impractical idealist tilting at "the system." Even as he announced his run on the Jay Leno show in September, Mr. Thompson quipped he "wasn't in the room when they made the rules" that resulted in today's sped up, big-money, 24-hour-news-byte primary. He has refused to play nice--declaring late and declining to join rivals in the media hoopla and nonstop campaign. It has proven a case study in the folly of trying to single-handedly buck modern politics.

It might have helped if Mr. Thompson, who stated his intention to trust in "the people" to give him a hearing, had offered those people something more than personality at the start of his tardy campaign. It has instead only been very recently that he has, admirably, tried to craft himself into the ideas candidate.
He's proposed revitalizing America's armed forces by increasing the core defense budget, building up a million-member ground force, and instituting sweeping missile defense. He went where no other GOP candidate has yet gone with a detailed plan to shore up Social Security, by changing the benefits formula and offering voluntary "add on" accounts for younger workers. He would re-energize school vouchers. His border security blueprint certainly matches Mitt Romney's or Rudy Giuliani's in its, ahem, creativity and thoroughness.

This week's tax proposal was decidedly fresh, going beyond the run-of-the-mill candidate promise to extend the Bush tax cuts, and calling for the end of the death tax and the AMT, a cut in the corporate tax rate and even a voluntary flat tax. According to a campaign source, in upcoming weeks Mr. Thompson will unveil plans to reduce federal spending by limiting nondefense growth to inflation, earmark reform, and a one-year freeze on the hiring of non-essential civilian workers and contractors.

There's plenty here to get conservative voters and bloggers and pundits engaged in some healthy, even lively, debate. That is, if they'd heard any of this. Most haven't, and for that Mr. Thompson has mostly himself to blame.

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.

Speaking of dull debates, that's Mr. Thompson's other problem. To the extent he is now trying to float ideas (and he could use even more), the rest of the field wants nothing of it. 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.

Mr. Thompson's inertia has meant his campaign is no longer in control of its destiny. His best shot now is that Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Romney go nuclear, leaving him with a ticket out of Iowa and some hope. He still ranks second behind Mr. Giuliani in national polls. But putting himself in a position to build off any lucky outcomes will involve trying to play the game he so detests. If he believes his ideas are as important for the country as he says they are, he will.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.

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« Reply #281 on: November 30, 2007, 07:55:37 AM »

It might have helped if Mr. Thompson, who stated his intention to trust in "the people" to give him a hearing, had offered those people something more than personality at the start of his tardy campaign.


In defense of Fred, he's pretty open about his ideas (even if he's not always very specific). As a rebuttal to the opening assertion of this article, Fred is hardly the first to say anything meaningful with regards to taxes. He stands in a field where only the top cash earners have said little about taxes (other than "I'd cut taxes" - whatever that means) and all the others have more radical ideas, from endorsing the Fair Tax plan (Huckabee, et al) to abolishing the IRS & income tax, and replacing it with nothing (Ron Paul).

Interesting debate the other night.

David M. McLean
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« Reply #282 on: December 03, 2007, 08:19:45 AM »

The fluff is gone.  Now the real Clinton machine will get going.  Clinton insists on being President - amazing - no clinton has ever achieved a greater than 50% popular vote in a Presidential election - yet we had her and Bill for 8 years already:
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« Reply #283 on: December 03, 2007, 09:45:32 AM »


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The Meaning of Fiscal Conservatism
December 3, 2007; Page A21

With economic uncertainty weighing on the minds of many Americans, Congress is preparing to recess after another year of profligate spending, protectionist talk and promises of higher taxes. No wonder some people feel like we're moving in the wrong direction. But I'm optimistic as I look to the future. It's not our country that's moving in the wrong direction -- it's Congress, and Washington's culture of wasteful spending.

Over the last decade, nondefense spending has increased by 65% -- the federal government currently spends $24,000 per household -- while the number of earmarked pork projects rocketed from close to 1,000 to a height of nearly 14,000. This year, with only one appropriations bill enacted, earmarks already number 2,161.

A return to fiscal conservative principles can put America back on the right track, while giving Washington a much-needed dose of discipline.

Fiscal conservatism is based on two fundamental principles -- cutting taxes and controlling spending. In recent years, the Republican Party has successfully cut taxes, but we have fallen short when it comes to controlling spending. The next president will need to strengthen both sides of the fiscal conservative equation, while reforming the culture of wasteful government spending with transparency and accountability. I believe I can do it because I've done it, and in a place that might even be more difficult than Washington.

We need to keep taxes low for our economy to grow. It's not just a theory for me. I cut taxes 23 times as mayor of New York City with a Democratic City Council and State Assembly, and saw that lower taxes can result in higher revenue. Amid fears of an economic slowdown, now is the time to cut taxes, not raise them. But the Democratic presidential candidates all seem determined to impose an unprecedented $3 trillion tax hike on the American people.

Republicans have a clearer understanding of how our economy works. This summer, I unveiled my tax plan, which committed to making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, while aiming for still-lower marginal rates. We'll give the death tax the death penalty, index the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation as a step toward eliminating it entirely, expand tax-free savings accounts, and expand health-care choice through tax reform. We also need to reduce the corporate tax rate -- which is currently the second highest in the industrialized world, behind Japan -- to at least the average of the other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, or 28%. These actions will protect American jobs, empowering us to compete and win in the global economy.

Controlling spending must be a chief executive's priority or it doesn't get done. That's a lesson I learned from Ronald Reagan, and put into action when I was mayor. Real per capita spending actually fell during my administration. We cut the city bureaucracy by 20%, excluding cops on the street and teachers in the classroom.

We can do the same thing in Washington. Over the course of the next two terms, 42% of the federal civilian workforce is due to retire. We'll only hire back half, taking the opportunity to right-size government by taking advantage of technology like the private sector did in recent years, and ultimately save taxpayers $21 billion annually.

We also need to return to spending controls and caps, a proven way to make Washington set priorities. As president, I will direct all federal agency heads to find 5% to 10% efficiency savings. If they come back to me and say it's impossible to find 5% savings in a $2 billion agency, I'll call on the Office of Management and Budget to identify the cuts. It's time to put the "M" back in OMB.

Reforming a culture of wasteful spending requires standing up to special interests and insisting on transparency and accountability. Congress spent $29 billion on earmarks last year alone. Earmarks are the broken windows of the federal budget, signs of dysfunction and distress. Recent examples range from the absurd ($1.1 million in 2005 for researching baby food made from salmon) to the self-congratulatory ($2 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service). The American people want us to end earmarks once and for all.

But more needs to be done. We need to root out wasteful spending and fraud in benefit payments and contracts by convening a Government Waste Commission, such as the one that closed military bases. It can require Congress to vote up or down on a whole package of recommended cuts, beginning by considering the 3% of programs currently rated "ineffective" by the federal government itself.

Finally, we can both save money and provide better services by consolidating duplicative programs. We don't need 342 economic development programs or 130 programs serving at risk youth or 72 federal programs dedicated to ensuring safe water (according to a 2004 report). No doubt many of these programs are worthy, but citizens shouldn't have to navigate a maze of overlapping bureaucracies. Digital one-stop-shop centers will provide better citizen service at lower cost, while transforming industrial age bureaucracies to fit the information-age citizen.

Returning to principles of fiscal conservatism is not an end to itself. We believe these ideas ultimately help government work better for all Americans. Cutting taxes and controlling spending creates a government that is smaller and smarter, more efficient and more effective. It can help balance the budget and reduce the deficit. Most of all, a healthy combination of pro-growth policies and fiscal discipline unleashes the genius of America's free-market economy -- empowering not government, but the citizens it exists to serve.

Mr. Giuliani is the former mayor of New York and a Republican presidential candidate.

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« Reply #284 on: December 03, 2007, 12:12:09 PM »

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 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.

Few would be shocked if Mr. Morris, a famously flexible political advocate, were soon defending Mr. Huckabee against charges that he had a curious habit of pardoning convicted felons. In one famous case, Mr. Huckabee pushed for the freedom of Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist -- who, 11 months later, sexually assaulted and murdered a woman.

Mr. Morris told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that Mr. Huckabee's sometimes left-leaning record on spending and criminal justice would be an overall plus because many voters agree with the former governor in the power of forgiveness. "He puts all of the Bible into play," Mr. Morris told the Times. "It's not just 'thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not,' but it's the positive aspects of his religion, too -- which is 'love thy neighbor,' and 'when I was naked you clothed me,' and a sense of helping poor people."

Mr. Morris is often brilliant, but his knowledge of internal Democratic Party politics is stronger than his expertise on the reactions and behavior of GOP primary voters. Mr. Huckabee is on a roll now, but voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have only just begun to be told about his surprisingly liberal record in Arkansas. Since some 40% of Iowa caucus goers in the past have been strong Christians, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Huckabee's faith and background as a minister will continue to trump evidence of his often liberal views.

-- John Fund
Huckabee's Tax Challenge

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is good at one-liners. When asked if Jesus would have supported the death penalty, he shot back: "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." When asked if NASA should land on Mars, he said yes and Hillary Clinton should be on the first rocket. Asked by a reporter what he thought about former Sen. Fred Thompson's attack ad that shows an old news clip of Mr. Huckabee as governor before he lost 100 pounds listing one tax after another he would support raising, the governor got off one of his better lines: He said that he must have been under the influence of sugar at the time.

It's a good line, but not good enough. 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.

-- Brendan Miniter
Quote of the Day I

"In the biggest surprise of the campaign so far, the election that almost everyone thought would be about Iraq is turning out not to be.... The result is that both the Democratic and Republican campaigns are looking more like the campaigns of the 1990s. The Republican who has benefited most from Iraq's slide [to a lower ranking in the concerns of voters] is Mike Huckabee, who this summer was in low single digits in Iowa and is now running neck and neck with Mitt Romney for first place. A few months ago, commentators were saying that conservatives no longer cared as much about abortion, gay marriage and the like; they were more focused on the 'war on terror.' Rudy Giuliani has bet his whole campaign on that proposition. Romney's competence theme is a not-so-subtle critique of the way President Bush has handled the war. Huckabee, by contrast, has virtually no national security profile. In an Iraq-dominated campaign, it's hard to imagine him as a serious contender" -- Washington Post columnist Peter Beinart, on polls showing a sharp decline in the number of primary voters who say Iraq is their top concern.

Political Journal/WSJ
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« Reply #285 on: December 06, 2007, 08:36:48 PM »

Still a Dangerous World
Democrats imply the U.S. can talk its way out of global threats.

Thursday, December 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

The most disturbing thing about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran wasn't the news itself, but how the episode displayed the wild and manic swings that now characterize American politics. A regular watcher of our politics could be forgiven for feeling that one isn't watching a serious country but a place that conducts its internal affairs like a Saturday morning cartoon show. Thunk! Boooinng!

For some time, the conventional storyboard drawn for the Bush presidency has been that the U.S. is led by a bumbling Elmer Fudd, who outlandishly overestimates the danger from such imagined threats as Saddam Hussein, Syria or Iran's mysterious-looking mullahs. Prominent political figures here design their comments on world events to fit inside cartoon dialogue balloons. John Edwards, after the NIE story broke, denounced the Bush-Cheney "rush to war with Iran." Sen. Harry Reid demanded a "diplomatic surge."

These wide, all-or-nothing swings may serve the melodramatic needs of politics and the press, but they don't much help an electorate that will vote a year from now to send a new U.S. president out into the world. With or without the NIE's opinion of Iran's nuclear program, that world is still a dangerous place.

Let's assume for argument's sake that Iran did stop its nuke program in 2003. Why, then, in 2006 was Iran performing test flights of the Shabab-2 and Shabab-3 ballistic missiles, the latter with a range of some 1,200 miles? Commenting at the time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Iranians "are not unaware that the security environment is one in which if they actually were to do something, Iran would suffer greatly." But as of this week, they might not.
Indeed last week, just as the U.S. intelligence professionals were preparing to tell the world it could forget about Iran (as yesterday's news reports made clear the world is about to do), the Iranian defense ministry announced it has built a new 1,200-mile missile, the Ashura. In September, it put on display the 1,100-mile-range Ghadr-1 missile. If this is all an inconsequential feint, it's a remarkably big one.

North Korea in July 2006 tested the long-range Taepodong-2, a nuclear payload-capable ballistic missile. North Korea has exported its missile technology to Iran and Pakistan. And of course Hezbollah, in the same month North Korea was testing the Taepodong-2, fired thousands of Katyusha rockets at Israel, re-establishing the operational viability of short-range bombardment.

China is developing three strategic, long-range missiles--the JL-1, and the DF-31 and DF-31A; the latter two are mobile ICBMs. This technology did not go away with the Cold War.

In January, after much effort to do so, China successfully used a kinetic-kill vehicle launched from a ballistic missile to destroy a satellite orbiting at 500 miles altitude.

The Bush administration's effort to place a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe as counterweight to Iran's missiles was conventionally mocked by elite opinion as a rerun of Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars scheme." In fact, Japan, Australia, Germany, Italy, Israel and Denmark are all attempting to develop antimissile technology. France is building a short-range ballistic missile defense system, the SAMP/T. What are they all afraid of?

Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, indeed virtually all the nations of the Middle East are seeking nuclear-power capability. Possibly it's all just to keep the lights on in the tourist hotels, but nuclear-energy production is still a dual-use technology. It is now believed that Israel bombed Syria in September to destroy a nuclear-bomb facility built in part by North Korea.

This is a more complex and hair-trigger world than the Cold War years between the U.S. and Soviet Union. The idea that George Bush's handling of all these volatile moving pieces has been "incompetent" and has "isolated" the U.S. is a dangerous caricature, though that caricature is the way our Roller-Derby politics has chosen to talk about the world. The NIE/Iran drama this week is a case study--reduced in press reports to another Bush intelligence "flip-flop," as though the president wrote this stuff himself in the Oval Office.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and even Mike Huckabee want us to entrust them with managing the world's flourishing threats. Has any offered sufficient reason why we should? In other political systems, a candidate's strategic policies tend to flow from his party. Here we mostly get whatever these hyper-ambitious individuals choose to reveal during a campaign--and the foreign-policy views of their party in Congress.

This Wednesday, after the NIE's release, the Democratic candidates had a fresh opportunity at an Iowa debate to describe how their presidencies would address Iran and the world. John Edwards chose to attack Sen. Clinton for voting in September to label Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists. She and Sen. Obama, along with Democrats in Congress, said the new Iran intelligence estimate now mandates diplomacy only. Sen. Obama: "They should have stopped the saber rattling, should have never started it. And they need, now, to aggressively move on the diplomatic front."

But in a July essay for Foreign Affairs, Sen. Obama said nuclear weapons "in the hands of a radical theocracy" is "too dangerous." While he favored "tough-minded" diplomacy with Iran, "we must not rule out using military force."

Which version is one supposed to believe? The candidates seeking votes from their party's pacifists, or the person who wants to represent his country's interests in a hostile world?

One would like more on this than we're getting from the candidates in both parties. But the Democrats especially have tied themselves to the word "diplomacy," giving the impression that the U.S. can literally talk its way out of any bad outcomes that Iran, Syria, North Korea or free-agent terrorists have planned for us.
Put it this way: Would they, like Israel, have bombed that factory in Syria without pre-discussing it with Bashar Assad or Kim Jong-Il? No candidate's answer to that will make everyone happy. But the more than 100 million Americans who'll vote next year need a better idea than they've got of how the next president plans to deal with the world. Not the cartoon world, but the real world.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and on
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« Reply #286 on: December 07, 2007, 08:37:08 AM »

Redefining Conservatism
Mike Huckabee is far from being Reagan's heir.
Friday, December 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

DES MOINES, Iowa--Stepping out for a press conference here Monday, Mike Huckabee fielded the ultimate question. Just how conservative are you?

"I'm as conservative as anyone could hope to be, or want to be, or needs to be," replied the smiling former Arkansas governor, never missing a beat, and following up with a boilerplate summary of his belief in "lower taxes," the "sanctity of human life" and a "strong military"--before moving ever so swiftly on to the next question.

It was trademark Huckabee: Sounds great, explains little. It's a strategy that has so far served him well, rocketing his campaign in recent weeks to the top ranks of the Republican presidential field. The question is whether he can continue to pull off that trick, now that he's receiving belated media scrutiny. A few days following the candidate on the Iowa campaign trail suggests it could prove tough. If Mr. Huckabee does turn out to be everything Republicans "want" or "need" in a conservative, it will only be because the definition of a conservative has morphed to include tax hiking, protectionism, corporate scolding and an unserious approach to foreign policy.

What aren't in doubt are Mr. Huckabee's social-values credentials. He has an undisputed record on questions of abortion and gay marriage, and he's spent no small portion of his limited advertising money making sure Iowa voters know it. Christian conservatives make up an estimated 40% of the state's GOP vote, and by all accounts he's slowly locking up that vote. That alone accounts for a fair share of his recent rise in the polls.

Mr. Huckabee is the charisma candidate. Like another man from Hope, Ark., the onetime pastor is an extraordinary speaker. He's self-deprecating and funny, has perfect timing, and never struggles for an answer. He has that rare ability to pull out just the right story in response to any situation, and to deliver it in a folksy, Southern way.
At a meeting in Newton, Iowa, when talking about the importance of marriage, Mr. Huckabee notes that in his 34 years with his wife, Janet, she'd never been "wrong." He waits a beat and throws in that he likes "sleeping on the bed, not the couch." People chuckle. When one attendee praises Mr. Huckabee as the "nicest" GOP candidate, Mr. Huckabee quips "I tend to agree. I know these guys, they're bums." More laughter. Along with values, the vast majority of the voters interviewed after these events said their top reason for supporting Mr. Huckabee was that he was the only candidate who struck them as "genuine" and "sincere."

The yawning questions are Mr. Huckabee's stances on those other big GOP-voter concerns--national security and the economy. When he can get away with it, Mr. Huckabee is vague, broadly supporting "school choice," "health-care reform," "lower taxes" and a "strong America." It's when he's pressed for details that things get dodgy.

On the stump, Mr. Huckabee likes to point out that we are in a "world war" against terror, and that his first duty would be to protect Americans. Yet don't expect the Arkansan to stand firm against liberal opinion over America's more controversial strategies. On Monday, he became the only Republican candidate to attend a meeting with retired military officers who have complained about the Bush administration's supposed use of "torture." At an ensuing press conference, Mr. Huckabee quickly jumped on the politically popular bandwagon to condemn "waterboarding," and to further declare his support for closing down Guantanamo Bay because of the "symbol" it "represents" to the "rest of the world."

On other questions of foreign policy, the Arkansan has yet to prove he is ready for international prime time. Asked how he'd handle the Iranian nuclear threat, his stock answer is that America needs to become "energy independent in 10 years," thereby denying Iran oil money. "Iran, I promise you, they wouldn't have enough money to build a reactor just by selling rugs," he explained. (No word on why this didn't stop North Korea.) When asked at a media dinner about the front-page news that the latest National Intelligence Estimate had downgraded Iran's nuclear threat, Mr. Huckabee admitted he didn't even know about the report.

A populist at heart, Mr. Huckabee claims he's "no protectionist," but over and over this week he complained about the U.S. trade deficit with China and vowed, in the best Democratic tradition, to only sign "fair trade" deals. To bring up big companies is to invite a Huckabee lecture on the "greed" of corporate executives who tower over "average employees."
Mr. Huckabee likes to say he cut taxes in Arkansas 94 times, and has collected devotees around his promise for sweeping tax reform via the "fair tax." He promises to abolish the IRS, and along with it all current income, corporate, payroll and other taxes--to be replaced with a 23% national sales, or consumption, tax. He's also promised repeal of the 16th amendment--which established the income tax--to ensure Americans don't get double-taxation.

The chances of actually accomplishing this are about as likely as Christmas three times a year. But the benefit of Mr. Huckabee's dreamy tax proposal is that it has, until now, allowed him to avoid talk of his own checkered tax past in Little Rock. That tenure included sales tax hikes, strong support for Internet taxation, bills raising gas and cigarette taxes, etc. By this week, Mr. Huckabee had been slammed on this tax history so much he was no longer disputing the details. When asked if he didn't have a "mixed" record, Mr. Huckabee shot back: "Most everyone who has ever governed does," before insisting that even the great Reagan had raised taxes while at the helm of California.

Another benefit is that Mr. Huckabee hasn't had to talk about what he'd do with the existing, messy tax system. When I pointed out the unlikelihood of a fair tax, and asked how he'd handle the real-world questions of the Bush tax cuts, the exploding AMT and high corporate taxation, Mr. Huckabee allowed that he'd keep the Bush cuts, said something about the problems Democrats face with the AMT, and launched back into a discussion of the virtues of the fair tax.

Voters are only now beginning to hear some of this, and Mr. Huckabee, with little money or infrastructure in other primary states, is still a long way from the nomination. But if by some chance he keeps up this surge, Republican voters need to understand they are signing up for a whole new brand of "conservatism."

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.
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« Reply #287 on: December 08, 2007, 11:17:23 AM »


Homeland Insecurity
December 8, 2007; Page A10

America is in a defining moment. This is the wealthiest nation in history. Yet many Americans feel that the dream so many generations fought for is slowly slipping away.

I've spoken with folks across this country who have worked all their lives to put their children through college, but now can't afford the rising tuition. I've spoken with many others who've done everything right, but fell into bankruptcy once they became sick, because they couldn't afford their skyrocketing medical bills. And since working Americans have to pay these rising costs with incomes that remain stagnant, many are falling deep into debt, unable to set anything aside for savings.

So at a time when many Americans have no margin for error, it's no surprise that the downturn in the housing market has done enormous harm. In the coming years, over two million Americans could face foreclosure.

The larger risk, however, is that what is happening in housing could spill over elsewhere. A number of firms borrowed huge sums to make investments tied to the housing market. They are now suffering big losses that could trigger a slowdown of the entire economy. We're already seeing some troubling signs. Consumer confidence is the lowest it's been in years. Pension funds are losing money, threatening retirement security. And banks are also losing money, resulting in a credit crunch. That means businesses have less money to invest and people can't get loans, which could lead to significant job losses in the months ahead.

This is a moment of challenge. But it's also a moment of opportunity which we must seize, to make sure our economic future is secure. That starts with addressing the source of our economic woes -- the crisis in the housing market. For most Americans, a home is not just a place to live; it's their most valuable possession -- so preventing a larger crisis in the housing market means providing greater economic security for middle-class families.

This week, President Bush outlined a limited agreement with lenders to ensure that some families don't face higher mortgage payments they can't afford. It is a start. But we need to do more. That's why, several months ago, I proposed tax breaks to help millions of homeowners make their payments, direct relief for the victims of mortgage fraud, and counseling so homeowners know what options are available to avoid foreclosure and refinance. And I have outlined a program to help make it easier for middle-class families, not speculators, to renegotiate or refinance their mortgages.

To prevent the current problems in the housing market from spreading, shaking confidence in other sectors of the economy, we need to put money in the pockets of middle-class Americans. In September, I proposed a middle-class tax cut that would offset the payroll tax that working Americans are already paying. It would give every working family a tax cut worth up to $1,000. It would also make retirement more secure by eliminating income taxes for any senior making less than $50,000 per year. And over the long term, I've called for an automatic workplace pension enrollment policy, which would include a federal government match for part of the savings of middle-class families so they can count on more savings when they retire.

But the test of judgment and leadership isn't just how you respond to problems; it's what you do to prevent them. That's why, last spring, I called for a summit on housing with representatives from the government and private sector similar to the one that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson attended earlier this week. I also introduced a bill that would treat those who commit mortgage fraud like the criminals they are -- a measure that might have prevented the current crisis from escalating. Three months ago, I asked lenders to show flexibility to Americans trying to sell or refinance their houses.

In the last several months, I've also proposed a number of steps to prevent another economic crisis. These include restoring market transparency by making sure there's adequate government oversight over the rating agencies, so we can avoid practices that can mislead investors. We also need to stop credit-card companies from engaging in deceptive practices that push middle-class Americans further into debt. In addition, we need to update our regulatory system to reflect a 21st-century marketplace where so much credit comes from nonbank lenders, rather than traditionally regulated banks. And as we reform our regulatory rules, let's do so with an eye toward the global economy in which we're operating.

It's going to take a new kind of leadership to strengthen our middle class and make sure America's economic future is secure -- leadership that can challenge the special interests, bring Republicans and Democrats together, and rally this nation around a common purpose. And that is exactly the kind of leadership I intend to offer as president of the United States.

Mr. Obama is a senator from Illinois and a Democratic presidential candidate.
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« Reply #288 on: December 12, 2007, 09:12:00 AM »

That Does Not Compute
Mitt Romney has a passion for data. A great president needs a passion for principle.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Mitt Romney loves data and lusts after process.

In a recent cover profile in The Weekly Standard by the magazine's Fred Barnes, Mr. Romney is portrayed as the man who would be the CEO of America. Says Mr. Barnes, quoting Mr. Romney, a Harvard M.B.A.: "His idea of the perfect deal is not when one side wins but when 'you find a new alternative that everybody agrees is the right way to go. That doesn't always happen.' "


Mr. Barnes says Mr. Romney's "approach to government is not ideological." A Romney adviser is quoted as saying of his candidate: "He's super-pragmatic. He's an eclectic conservative." And Mr. Romney himself says flatly that as president he would "insist on gathering data . . . and analyze the data looking for trends."


Make no mistake. If the leading candidates in the GOP presidential race are to be litmus-tested as conservatives, all would cause conservatives sleepless nights. If the Reagan coalition was of economic and social conservatives combined with national security hawks, each group has something to be disturbed about with this batch of front-runners. Rudy Giuliani famously has his issues with social issues, John McCain his prickly insistence on First Amendment censorship and an addiction to sounding like Al Gore on global warming and Hillary Clinton on immigration. Mike Huckabee amazingly sounds like Ted Kennedy in his attack on supporters of economic growth as greedy, while Fred Thompson was not only assisting the pro-choice movement as a lawyer, but has an apparent bent for trial lawyers.

Yet the Romney approach as described not only by Mr. Barnes but more importantly by Mr. Romney himself is an approach that goes far beyond any particular issue. It is, as Mr. Romney himself freely admits, all about process. Whatever the issue--economic, social or national security--Mr. Romney would gather the data, look for a trend and thus "you make better decisions."

This should cause conservatives to break out in cold sweats.


Let's take Mr. Romney back to two of the most important Republican presidencies in the history of America. Let's make him a ghostly observer as the presidents in question deal with "the data" being presented to them by their advisers.
Mr. Romney's first visit would be to the Lincoln White House in 1864. There was no Oval Office in 1864, so Mr. Romney finds Old Abe in his office upstairs on the second floor of the residence. Lincoln has just been handed a memo by his secretary of war, and the data look pretty grim

Lincoln is staring at a sheet filled with numbers. The numbers are of Union casualties in the 10 most casualty-filled battles of the Civil War thus far. The banality of ink-on-paper belies the horrific human impact behind the figures. Over 13,000 Union casualties at the battle of Shiloh, 16,000 at Second Manassas, 12,000 at Antietam and yet again at Stone River, 17,000 at Chancellorsville, 23,000 at Gettysburg. And so on in one battle after another stretching over the past three years.

So as our ghostly Mr. Romney studies these "data"--now what? The conservative fear, of course, is that the "superpragmatic" Mr. Romney who places such faith in the process of data and trends would say to Lincoln exactly what the Democratic nominee of 1864, a battlefield general of the war, was saying in his campaign against Lincoln. The war is a "failure," said George McClellan. Stop it--right now. The numbers, the kind of data so prized by a possibly future President Romney, are unmistakably ghastly. Union kids and Confederate kids--Americans all--are being slaughtered on a scale that dwarfs the imagination.

But what of principle here? What of the passion for the principle--and passion plays no small role in Lincoln's adherence to principle--that no man, woman or child should be a slave in America? What about the fundamental principle of human freedom? What about keeping the Union together? The startling thought occurs that Mr. Romney would be whispering to Lincoln that the data speak for themselves. Passion should yield to process. And that would be that, if Mr. Romney carried the day as Lincoln's adviser.


Move Mr. Romney back to the future, or at least the relatively recent past. This time his ghost is hovering over Ronald Reagan's shoulder. President Reagan is one happy guy. His tax and budget cuts have passed, and he signed them into law. The Reagan revolution has begun. But it's now 1985, and there's a problem. David Stockman, Reagan's director of the Office of Management and Budget, a former congressman from Mr. Romney's native Michigan, the state where Romney's father was a star of the Republican liberal movement, is staring at reams of data. The results, as Mr. Stockman would write shortly after his angry departure from the Reagan White House, were--from Mr. Stockman's view--"frightening." The very idea that Reagan would stick with his tax cuts was a sign the president was in "dreamland." He was campaigning for re-election in 1984 on "false promises." Mr. Stockman--both in real time and in his bitter memoirs published in 1986--was nothing if not a fountain of data. And the data's conclusion, insisted Mr. Stockman, was that the Reagan revolution was a "failure." Reagan should abandon his passion for the principle of low taxes and cutting federal spending while restoring the military. Presumably, the Romney ghost sitting in the room with Reagan and Mr. Stockman would have agreed with . . . Mr. Stockman.
If decisions were all about data, then the McClellan/Stockman view of the world--a worldview that is apparently Mr. Romney's as well--would be the triumphs most celebrated in American history. Lincoln and Reagan would be rated not at the top of the presidential greatness scale but somewhere well down towards the bottom.

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.



One of the subtle images of Mr. Romney's recent speech on religion is perhaps not understood by Mr. Romney's advisers. Where did Mr. Romney go to deliver his talk on principle? And who introduced him? The site was the presidential library of former president George H.W. Bush--the former president himself in his always gracious fashion introducing Romney.
Yet Mr. Romney did not need a visit to the Bush Library to understand why the Library does not contain the papers of a two-term president. The reason, of course, is that then-Vice President George H.W. Bush campaigned for the presidency in 1988 on the principle he phrased as "read my lips--no new taxes." He won. Yet in the name of precisely the process Mr. Romney lovingly describes--gathering data and looking for trends--the first President Bush was persuaded by Romneyesque advisers like then-Treasury aide Richard Darman to surrender bedrock conservative principle and raise taxes. The senior Mr. Bush was advised to choose data and process over principle. He did--and in short order had lots of time on his hands to decide the process for building a library about a one-term president while Bill and Hillary Clinton took charge.

Not to be left out of this point is the Democrat who successfully campaigned for president based on fixing the process in Washington--Jimmy Carter. As a nuclear engineer, naval officer, successful businessman, Mr. Carter's central point in the 1976 election was about his devotion to process. Then there was that Romney predecessor as governor of Massachusetts, Democrat Michael Dukakis, who earnestly campaigned in 1988 against Bush I on a process issue, competence in government.

Would Mitt Romney make a better president than anyone on the other side? With no disrespect for Oprah, of course.

But if conservatives have learned anything since 1964 it is this: principles count. A principle presidency always trumps a process presidency. Lincoln did better than Hoover, Reagan did better than Bush I or Carter. Better heading in the right direction with a faulty process than zipping along in the wrong direction simply because the process and the data are telling you things are wonderfully efficient. A train making exceptional time to Boston is useless if in fact you wanted to go to Miami.


Mitt Romney is clearly one decent guy, one very, very accomplished human being. He has announced where he stands on the issues of the day, putting himself head and shoulders above a Clinton, Obama or Edwards. But as conservatives head into caucus and primary season, they should not be hesitant to question what appears to be his addiction to process for the sake of process.
Go back to Fred Barnes's Romney quote, the one in which Mr. Romney says he looks for a "new alternative that everybody agrees is the right way to go." What Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan shared was a core belief that in fact it was a better thing for some principles to triumph over others. "Everybody" did not agree with Lincoln that freedom was better than slavery, that keeping the Union together was better than not, or with Reagan that the free market and tax cuts philosophy was a better philosophy than one of big government and tax increases. But they went ahead anyway.

Is there a place for data? Is there value in process? Sure.

But base an entire presidency on the importance of data and process over principle? Is this what Mitt Romney would do? Is this where a Romney presidency would lead? If so, conservatives have been here before.

It is not a good place to be.

Mr. Lord is creator, co-founder and CEO of QubeTV, a conservative, user-generated video site. A former Reagan White House political director and an author, he writes from Pennsylvania.

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« Reply #289 on: December 14, 2007, 10:58:28 AM »

The Pulpit and the Potemkin Village
Would Reagan survive in today's GOP? And is Mrs. Clinton in for a fall this winter?

Friday, December 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

What is happening in Iowa is no longer boring but big, and may prove huge.

The Republican race looks--at the moment--to be determined primarily by one thing, the question of religious faith. In my lifetime faith has been a significant issue in presidential politics, but not the sole determinative one. Is that changing? If it is, it is not progress.

Mike Huckabee is in the lead due, it appears, to voter approval of the depth and sincerity of his religious beliefs as lived out in his ministry as an ordained Southern Baptist. He flashes "Christian leader" over his picture in commercials; he asserts his faith is "mainstream"; his surrogates speak of Mormonism as "strange" and "definitely a factor." Mr. Huckabee said this summer that a candidate's faith is "subject to question," "part of the game."

He tells the New York Times that he doesn't know a lot about Mitt Romney's faith, but isn't it the one in which Jesus and the devil are brothers? This made me miss the old days of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man," in which a candidate started a whispering campaign that his opponent's wife was a thespian.

Mr. Huckabee has of course announced that he apologizes to Mr. Romney, which allowed him to elaborate on his graciousness and keep the story alive. He should have looked abashed. Instead he betrayed the purring pleasure of "a Christian with four aces," in Mark Twain's words.

Christian conservatives have been rising, most recently, for 30 years in national politics, since they helped elect Jimmy Carter. They care about the religious faith of their leaders, and their interest is legitimate. Faith is a shaping force. Lincoln got grilled on it. But there is a sense in Iowa now that faith has been heightened as a determining factor in how to vote, that such things as executive ability, professional history, temperament, character, political philosophy and professed stands are secondary, tertiary.

But they are not, and cannot be. They are central. Things seem to be getting out of kilter, with the emphasis shifting too far.

The great question: Does it make Mr. Huckabee, does it seal his rise, that he has acted in such a manner? Or does it damage him? Republicans on the ground in Iowa and elsewhere will decide that. And in the deciding they may be deciding more than one man's future. They may be deciding if Republicans are becoming a different kind of party.

I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I'm just not sure he'd be pure enough to make it in this party. I'm not sure he'd be considered good enough.

This thought occurs that Hillary Clinton's entire campaign is, and always was, a Potemkin village, a giant head fake, a haughty facade hollow at the core. That she is disorganized on the ground in Iowa, taken aback by a challenge to her invincibility, that she doesn't actually have an A team, that her advisers have always been chosen more for proven loyalty than talent, that her supporters don't feel deep affection for her. That she's scrambling chaotically to catch up, with surrogates saying scuzzy things about Barack Obama and drug use, and her following up with apologies that will, as always, keep the story alive. That her guru-pollster, the almost universally disliked Mark Penn, has, according to Newsday, become the focus of charges that he has "mistakenly run Clinton as a de facto incumbent" and that the top officials on the campaign have never had a real understanding of Iowa.
This is true of Mrs. Clinton and her Iowa campaign: They thought it was a queenly procession, not a brawl. Now they're reduced to spinning the idea that expectations are on Mr. Obama, that he'd better win big or it's a loss. They've been reduced too to worrying about the weather. If there's a blizzard on caucus day, her supporters, who skew old, may not turn out. The defining picture of the caucuses may be a 78-year-old woman being dragged from her home by young volunteers in a tinted-window SUV.

This is, still, an amazing thing to see. It is a delight of democracy that now and then assumptions are confounded, that all the conventional wisdom of the past year is compressed and about to blow. It takes a Potemkin village.

A thought on the presence of Bill Clinton. He is showing up all over in Iowa and New Hampshire, speaking, shaking hands, drawing crowds. But when he speaks, he has a tendency to speak about himself. It's all, always, me-me-me in his gigantic bullying neediness. Still, he's there, and he's a draw, and the plan was that his presence would boost his wife's fortunes. The way it was supposed to work, the logic, was this: People miss Bill. They miss the '90s. They miss the pre-9/11 world. So they'll love seeing him back in the White House. So they'll vote for Hillary. Because she'll bring him. "Two for the price of one."

It appears not to be working. Might it be that they don't miss Bill as much as everyone thought? That they don't actually want Bill back in the White House?

Maybe. But maybe it's this. Maybe they'd love to have him back in the White House. Maybe they just don't want him to bring her. Maybe they miss the Cuckoo's Nest and they'd love having Jack Nicholson's McMurphy running through the halls. Maybe they just don't miss Nurse Ratched. Does she have to come?

It is clear in Iowa that immigration is the great issue that won't go away. Members of the American elite, including U.S. senators, continue to do damage to the public debate on immigration. They do not view it as a crucial question of America's continuance. They view it as an onerous issue that might upset their personal plans, an issue dominated by pro-immigration groups and power centers on the one hand, and the pesky American people, with their limited and quasi-racist concerns, on the other.
Because politicians see immigration as just another issue in "the game," they feel compelled to speak of it not with honest indifference but with hot words and images. With a lack of sympathy. This is in contrast to normal Americans, who do not use hot words, and just want the problem handled and the rule of law returned to the borders.

Politicians, that is, distort the debate, not because they care so much but because they care so little.

Hillary Clinton is not up at night worrying about the national-security implications of open borders in the age of terror. She's up at night worrying about whether to use Mr. Obama's position on driver's licenses for illegals against him in ads or push polls.

A real and felt concern among the candidates about immigration is a rare thing. And people can tell. They can tell with both parties. This is the real source of bitterness in this debate. It's not regnant racism. It's knowing the political class is incapable of caring, and so repairing.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on
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« Reply #290 on: December 15, 2007, 09:24:30 AM »

Of Pork and Patriotism
John McCain doesn't mince words when it comes to Iraq, the State Department and spending.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

John McCain sits across the table from the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, fielding questions on everything from taxes to torture to terror. He's asked what surprised him the most about the behavior House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with regard to Iraq. His answer--"their lack of patriotism"--is of the characteristically impolitic kind that often defines his personality. Over the course of a 75-minute conversation, it's on display time and again.

For a candidate who was mostly written off by the media only six months ago, the senior senator from Arizona seems remarkably confident of his primary chances.

Mr. McCain is 71. But the tired, sluggish, former front-runner you may have read about was nowhere in evidence when the senator came to the Journal's offices yesterday. In his place was a combative and--yes--straight-talking candidate with no qualms about rising to a challenge or speaking his mind. In short, he looks once again like the spry 63-year-old who nearly knocked off front-runner George W. Bush eight years ago.

When asked whether he would tag Hillary Clinton as well with a "lack of patriotism," Mr. McCain does dial it down a notch. "Maybe 'lack of patriotism' is too harsh," he allows. "'Putting political ambitions ahead of the national interest' may be a more subtle way" of putting it. He then adds, with a chuckle, "And we all know how subtle I am."
Just how subtle comes across in expanding on Mrs. Clinton's stance on the war and on the surge. "She had that very clever line--I don't know who wrote it for her--that you'd have to suspend disbelief in order to believe that the surge is working. Well, you'd have to suspend disbelief that it's not now." And then, as if confronting her in a presidential debate, he addresses the absent senator from New York directly: "Do you still stand by that statement, Senator Clinton? Do you still believe you'd have to suspend disbelief to believe that this surge is working?"

Mr. McCain is almost as scathing about his own party's behavior in power as he is about Congress's current leaders. Of the Republican congressional majority that was voted out in 2006, he says: "We let spending get out of control. . . . And we would have won the 2006 elections if we had restrained spending. Our base didn't desert us because of the war in Iraq. Our base deserted us because of the Bridge to Nowhere. I'll take you to a town hall tomorrow and I'll say 'Bridge to Nowhere' and everyone in that room will know what I'm talking about. That bridge is more famous than the Brooklyn Bridge."

That version of the events of November 2006 is not universally shared, even within the GOP, but it does serve Mr. McCain's interests pretty well. He has been one of the most prominent and unapologetic supporters of the war in Iraq, even though he at times disagreed with the administration about tactics and strategy.

And he voted against the Bush tax cuts--even though he admits that they helped the economy in the midst of a recession. "We all know that [they helped]. Without a doubt. Without the slightest doubt. Absolutely."

Even so, he defends his opposition to them on the grounds, he told us, that Congress couldn't get spending under control. "I opposed the tax cuts because there was no spending restraint. . . . If we'd enacted spending restraints, we'd be talking about more tax cuts today. And to the everlasting shame and embarrassment of the Republican Party and this administration, we went on a spending spree and we didn't pay for it. . . . And every time I called over to the White House and said, look, you've got to veto these bills, the answer was, 'We'll lose the majority, we'll lose this election, we'll lose the speaker.' Well, you know what happened."

The words "I told you so" don't quite pass his lips, but his sense of vindication is plain enough.

As for the tax cuts themselves, he now pledges that he would fight to make them permanent. "I will not agree to any tax increase," he says. And then once more for emphasis: "I will not agree to any tax increase."

His combativeness is on display again when the subject of interrogation techniques is raised. It's a subject on which the Journal's editorial board has been critical of Mr. McCain in the past. Does he assert, he is asked, that techniques such as waterboarding never produce reliable information?
He turns it back on the questioner: "I do assert that America's moral image in the world is badly damaged when it comes out that we torture people. . . . I do assert that we're going to win this battle against al Qaeda on ideological grounds."

Then he adds: "So my assertion is that it's fascinating, it's fascinating, that those who have served in the military--particularly in positions of responsibility--almost all of them say, 'Don't do it.' Those who have never served, those who have never heard a shot fired in anger and never will, say, 'Let's torture the hell out of them. Let's take them to the rack. Let's do what the Spanish Inquisition invented.' "

That last is a caricature, and given the jab at "those who have never served," it might even come across as a mean-spirited one, but Mr. McCain manages to put it across without any evident derision in his demeanor or voice. On the contrary, it is said almost amiably.

Likewise, when he's asked what he thinks about the State Department, he delivers the jab with a smile: "Sometimes you have a little personal bias when you find out that they nearly rebelled when the secretary of state said all of them had to go serve in Iraq. I mean, please. Please." He continues: "I think we ought to have a State Department that understands that service to the country is what they're all about. And if that means going into countries where there may be some danger in serving, then by God that's the place they should want to go first." It helps to have volunteered for service in Vietnam if one wants to say that kind of thing.

He doesn't pull any punches with the CIA, either, asking whether it has become a "rogue agency" when queried about the intelligence community's handling of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. On the NIE, he adds: "I want to know why in the world we should have any relaxation with regards to Iran just because they have had a pause in the quickest part of the program to build a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile the enrichment goes on. And they're still exporting the explosive devices. They're still supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. They're still dedicated to the extinction of Israel. What's the change?"

As for direct talks between President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. McCain is once again scathing: "That is the most overrated thing in the world. We know who's going to profit from that. . . . Who gains in stature from face-to-face meetings? That is the ultimate question. . . . If they want to negotiate"--an open question, it would seem, in Mr. McCain's eyes--"we can find lots of ways to negotiate. But say we have to have face-to-face? Come on. Come on. That's just foolishness. And I would not do one thing that would enhance the prestige of the president of Iran."

In Iraq, meantime, Mr. McCain sees events at long last moving in the right direction. "I think this is a seminal moment in American history. I really do. Because we've got a long way to go. Al Qaeda is on the run but they're not defeated, OK?

"And we've got really a long way to go. But I'm telling you, if we could keep going like this for another nine months to a year or so, and get the Maliki government to start functioning effectively--and a lot of things are happening by the way that are not at the highest level--I think you're going to see things happen in the rest of the Middle East.

"The Syrians sent someone to Annapolis [for the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks]. That's good news. The Iranians may be cutting back on the explosive devices. Pakistan: Musharraf is acting as we wanted him to."

In his view, these are all connected, and all related in turn to the reversal of fortunes in Iraq since the surge began. "And I'm convinced that if we can continue this success, you're going to see a change in the Middle East. Plus, some progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. If we fail, we're not going to be in the neighborhood and it's every nation and every group for themselves."

Of course, Mr. McCain will have to resign himself to being right but ignored unless he can actually win. And while he may once have been seen as what he calls "the designated successor" to the Republican nomination, he's now a distinct underdog. So he places a lot of emphasis on what he calls the "volatility" of the current race.
"We all know that if I sat here two weeks ago and I said, 'By the way, Huckabee is ahead in Iowa and South Carolina,' you'd just have said, 'Yeah, right.' " He goes on: "I think you're going to see a lot of ups and downs. Sixty percent, 70%, 80% say they're undecided."

He also sees hope, ironically, in the despondency of the GOP faithful. "Our base is dispirited. I'm telling you, our base is dispirited. We're going to have to rev up our base. We're going to have to promise them we're going to stop this spending. We're going to have to promise them that we'll get trust and confidence back with them."

The senator says he doesn't worry too much about the electoral tactics, but he does know what lies ahead. "We've got to win New Hampshire," he says, or at least exceed expectations there. "And then I think we can do well in South Carolina. In South Carolina we've got the base this time. The Attorney General, the Speaker of the House, Lindsay Graham, most of the base."

Whether that's true or not, Mr. McCain still trails by 15 points on average in South Carolina. But assuming he can do well there, "then I think we're obviously very much in the game. What happens to Huckabee, what happens to Rudy, what happens to Romney--all this stuff is in such flux now that it's very difficult to predict and so we're not paying a lot of attention, obviously." Still, he's paying some attention, apparently.

Overall, the impression Mr. McCain gives is that he is enjoying this campaign tremendously. Asked whether he thinks he's running a better campaign since his financing fell off a cliff along with his poll ratings, he shoots back with a laugh, "Do you think I could have run a worse campaign before my finances went south?"

He blames his fall from front-runner status on his leadership on immigration reform, and says, "If I lose this election, it will be on the immigration issue. There's no question in my mind." But as with the other issues he discussed in our meeting, he doesn't give the impression that he regrets his stand for one minute.

Mr. Carney is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.
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« Reply #291 on: December 18, 2007, 11:36:58 AM »

Don't Have a Cow, Man
With her aura of inevitability diminishing, Hillary Clinton is resorting to ever more degrading campaign methods, the Associated Press reports from Dunlap, Iowa:

Standing atop a stage in a livestock auction barn, [Mrs.] Clinton likened the experience to her quest to woo undecided voters in the closing days before Iowa's pivotal caucuses.

"I've been to cattle barns before and sales before, in Arkansas, but I've never felt like I was the one that was being bid on,'' Clinton told a crowd in western Iowa. ''I know you're going to inspect me. You can look inside my mouth if you want. I hope by the end of my time with you I can make the case for my candidacy and to ask you to consider caucusing for me.''
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« Reply #292 on: December 18, 2007, 11:46:41 AM »
The Associated Press: Ron Paul Tops $6 Million in One Day

I think it will be interesting to see if the other candidates from both sides of the aisle will inspire their supporters to action (at least getting off the couch and going to vote) the same way as Ron Paul inspires his supporters.

This is turning out to be an interesting race......

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« Reply #293 on: December 18, 2007, 12:29:18 PM »

Although I disagree with RP on War with Islamic Fascism (and that is a REALLY important disagreement) there is quite a bit I agree with him on-- and those too are REALLY important things.  (Trivia-- I voted for him when he ran for President on the Libertarian ticket)  Even though I won't be voting for him, I am very glad he is in the race and doing well.  He reminds us of our Founding Fathers and our Constitution.

Here's an endorsement he picked up yesterday.

"At one end of the character scale, you have the sickening sight of Mitt Romney, a hollow shell of cynicism and salesmanship, recrafted to appeal to a base he studied the way Bain consultants assess a company. [Ron] Paul and [John] McCain are at the other end. They have both said things to GOP audiences that they knew would offend. They have stuck with their positions despite unpopularity. They're not saints, but they believe what they say. Both have also taken a stand against the cancerous and deeply un-American torture and detention regime constructed by Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. In my book, that counts.... [Ron Paul] is the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds. And in a primary campaign where the very future of conservatism is at stake, that cannot be ignored. In fact, it demands support" -- blogger Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, on why he is endorsing Ron Paul for the GOP presidential nomination.
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« Reply #294 on: December 18, 2007, 04:08:31 PM »

A busy day on this thread!

Here's today's WSJ on McCain:

McCain's Surge
Why he's making a primary comeback.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Endorsing John McCain for President yesterday, Joseph Lieberman stressed that his Senate colleague would always elevate his country above his party. Coming from a man who was excommunicated by Democrats for his views on Iraq, this was a fitting sentiment--and it may also explain why Mr. McCain seems to be staging something of a primary resurgence.

As recently as January, Mr. McCain was the putative Republican favorite, but his support collapsed amid his campaign mismanagement and the GOP's immigration meltdown. Now primary voters seem prepared to give him a second look in an unstable race. Mike Huckabee has galloped to a lead in Iowa, bruising Mitt Romney, though without much scrutiny of the former Arkansas Governor's record. Fred Thompson has yet to offer a compelling rationale for his candidacy. Rudy Giuliani for a time defied political gravity based on his New York reform leadership, but he has been hurt by questions about his judgment and ethics.

Re-enter Mr. McCain, who is nothing if not a known GOP commodity. One of his problems has been that to some Republicans he is too well known. This is the John McCain who was adored by the media for opposing tax cuts, favoring limits on free speech as part of "campaign finance reform," and embracing a cap and trade regime for global warming. This is the John McCain who was also endorsed this weekend by the Des Moines Register and Boston Globe, two liberal papers that are sure to endorse a Democrat next year.

Our own differences with Mr. McCain have mainly been over economics, and especially taxes. Despite record surpluses in 2000, the Senator refused to propose tax cuts as part of his Presidential bid--one reason he lost to George W. Bush. He also opposed the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, often using the language of the left.
Mr. McCain paid a visit to our offices last Friday, and he now says he supports extending the Bush tax rates, even admitting they helped the economy emerge from recession. "Without a doubt. Without the slightest doubt," he told us. "Absolutely."

In a spirited exchange, Mr. McCain justified his previous opposition by arguing that there was no discipline on spending. "To the everlasting shame and embarrassment of the Republican Party and this Administration," he noted, "we went on a spending spree and we didn't pay for it." That's true enough, and in an ideal world tax cuts would be offset dollar-for-dollar by spending cuts.

But in practice Congress will never do so, which means Republicans are left to be tax collectors for the welfare state. The experience of the Reagan and Bush years is that tax cutting has its own economic benefits, and that revenues will rebound far more quickly than the critics claim. We asked Mr. McCain what he'd do when faced with a Democratic Congress that insists he raise taxes in 2009, and he replied that he'd say "No" and cite JFK's successful tax-cutting in the 1960s. This is intellectual progress, and we trust such McCain advisers as Phil Gramm and Tim Muris will conduct further tutorials.

More than economics, Mr. McCain has two main strengths in this GOP race: His record on national security, and the belief that he can reach enough non-Republicans to assemble a viable center-right coalition and defeat Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in what could be a difficult GOP year. Mr. Lieberman's endorsement is notable because it reinforces both of those claims. Mr. Lieberman had to win GOP and independent voters to keep his Connecticut Senate seat after he lost the Democratic primary, and Mr. McCain won in New Hampshire in 2000 with the help of independents who could vote in the GOP primary. He'll need their support again this year.

The two men have also been stalwarts on Iraq, even when it became unpopular, and despite paying a political price for it. Mr. McCain also argued persuasively for the changes in strategy now known as the surge. In his Friday visit with us, the Senator spoke with authority on all manner of foreign policy. He is a hawk in the Reagan mold on Iran, the larger Middle East and overall defense spending.
Our guess is that this national security record is the main reason for his own political surge. With the success of General David Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, even some conservatives have taken to arguing that foreign and military policy will become less important in 2008. We doubt it. This is still a post-9/11 country, and voters know they will be electing a Commander in Chief in a world that is as dangerous as it was during the height of the Cold War. In an election against any Democrat next year, Mr. McCain would have little trouble winning the security debate.

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« Reply #295 on: December 19, 2007, 08:21:14 AM »

Although I disagree with RP on War with Islamic Fascism (and that is a REALLY important disagreement) there is quite a bit I agree with him on-- and those too are REALLY important things.  (Trivia-- I voted for him when he ran for President on the Libertarian ticket)  Even though I won't be voting for him, I am very glad he is in the race and doing well.  He reminds us of our Founding Fathers and our Constitution.

Like you, I disagree with Dr. Paul on several key issues, as well. However, to my mind the over-riding issue is not the War on Islamic Fascism, nor is it immigration or health-care (to name a few that have been at the top of many a list). If the dollar crashes, no one will come looking for a job or looking to blow up buildings or will be much worried about doctor bills - Americans will be worried about food & shelter. While the economy is large & diverse enough (more so than in, say, 1929) to probably hold off a major depression, a dollar crash will wreck havoc on the daily lives of most people in the US. As one cynic put it, the only positive outcome of such a crash will be that when we recover from the massive stagflation, it'll be easier for those who still have homes to pay them off.

The dollar is more unstable now that at any time in American history. While I don't completely endorse a 100% return to the gold standard (I prefer a mixed standard for a variety of reasons) like Dr. Paul, his is currently the ONLY viable solution on the table. At $9+ trillion in debt (a large portion of which, as an extremely important aside, is held by China & Saudi Arabia), disastrous fiscal policies from all levels of government (including all those inflationary forces amplified by utilizing fiat currency rather than hard currency), our shift from fiat to debt-based currency rather than backed "commodity" currency, an increasingly loosening banking standards (de facto allowance of predatory lending, usury corruption, weakening reserve ratio lending & cash reserve ratios, etc.), the irrational Fed responses to current events, etc. - coupled with individuals refusing to take personal responsibility for their actions or acknowledging the impact our decisions have on a larger scale - it is likely that we're staring a major recession and possible depression in the face.

I should add that it's hard to fight any war when you're broke, not loan-worthy, and you're manufacturing base has left you out-sourcing your military hardware needs. I add that because even for those who find my initial statement in error (with regard to Islamic Fascism not being the over-riding issue), there is no doubt about there being a very real difference between a willingness to fight and an ability to fight (something no one on this forum needs me to take paragraphs to explain - hahaha!!!). Which is to say that even if said statement is incorrect (let's say a dollar crash makes it MORE likely that a terrorist will want to strike & try to strike), it changes nothing with regard to being trumped by monetary, currency, & fiscal realities and their impact on everything else. We have to fix those issues FAST or we will pay dearly.

So.....all that said, I'm wondering, Crafty, what it is about Paul's stance on terror that you disagree with? I keep hearing this from a variety of people, but don't understand exactly what it is about his stance on terrorism that puts people off. Given that you are more articulate than most of them (and have probably considered the issue with greater care), I'm very interested on your take, if you have a few moments.



David M. McLean
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« Reply #296 on: December 19, 2007, 11:47:30 AM »

Posting my view and looking forward to Crafty's though I know he has already posted in detail on this in the past.

Ron Paul: "The war in Iraq was sold to us with false information. The area is more dangerous now than when we entered it. We destroyed a regime hated by our direct enemies, the jihadists, and created thousands of new recruits for them. This war has cost more than 3,000 American lives, thousands of seriously wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars."

 - The first sentence is technically correct.  False information.  That's what imperfect intelligence is.  We also acted on the best information available in the world that matched the intelligence coming from Britain, France, Russia etc.  IMO Saddam had enough dealings with al Qaida, though not a 'collaborative, operational relationship', to justify our involvement in his demise and he wasn't going to leave some other way.  He didn't have 'stockpiles of WMDs' sitting out, but he posed enough of a WMD threat to meet my threshold for a threat.  He didn't attack the U.S. inside our borders, other than a possible involovement in the 1993 WTC bombing, but did attempt an assination of an ex-President and was shooting daily at our planes as they performed their lawful flights.  He attacked four of his neighbors including a full scale invasion of Iran and a complete takeover of Kuwait.  He violated his cease fire agreement and cheated on his oil-for-food relief from sanctions.  (Not to mention gassing the Kurds, real torture programs and the slaughter of Dujail for which he was hanged.)  All without consequence if not for the backbone of our current effort.  Standing up to the bloody tyrant affected the policies of Libya and perhaps Iran and others.  I don't appreciate anyone saying we brought this on ourselves and I won't vote for a candidate who implies that.  Ron Paul's simplistic message hasn't been updated to reflect progress made, just the same slogans used by America's left.  If stability breaks out in Iraq and it really is starting to look that way, then his whole premise that the world is more dangerous becomes false.  Nothing sets back the global terrorist movement like the humiliating defeat they are now suffering.  All they can do now in Iraq is blow up things, like they do in the U.S. and in London, Bali and Madrid.  They have no major ally left in Iraq. 

I have long asked this question of Ron Paul's foreign policy:  What foreign interventions would he have supported going back all 200+ years especially to a much smaller threat faced by Jefferson with the Barbary pirates (early al Qaida) in the Mediterranian?  Does he even acknowledge that our constitutional liberties were achieved with the assistance of foreign powers as he disparages our effort to allow consentual government in Iraq?

I agree in principle with Ron Paul on issues of domestic spending.  But America doesn't.  He would be accused in the general campaign and the debates of wanting to end this program and that, you name it, all these departments closed and programs ended.  That isn't realistic and that isn't electable.  I wouldn't move that suddenly or that drastically and there aren't 50% of the American people to the right of me, more like 2-3%.  Primaries are about advancing your own principles and also they are about winning.

Ron Paul writes on the second sentence (excerpted)of his issues statement: "...Dr. Paul tirelessly works markets..."
 - yet Ron Paul:
Voted against Fast Track Authority
Voted against a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Chile
Voted against free trade with Singapore
Voted against free trade with Australia
Voted against CAFTA
Voted against the U.S.-Bahrain trade agreement
Voted against the Oman trade agreement
Voted against normal trade relations with Vietnam

 - Freedom to trade is an economic liberty as sacred to me as keeping fruits of our labor and we expand trade by negotiating down the barriers in the other countries IMO.

I disagree with Ron Paul on the failure of our monetary system.  We have rising prices on energy because we illegalize supply.  We have out of control inflation in government meddled 'markets' for healthcare and college tuition because of the preponderance of third party pay.  Price stability otherwise has been excellent.

David, I disagree with you about the impending collapse of the American economy.  Job growth in spite of manufacturing loss has been phenomenal.  In spite of all the damage we do with excessive taxation, regulation and debt the economy shows remarkable resilience. 

Conclusion for me is that our taxes will be lower if we choose an electable proponent of lower marginal rates and fiscal discipline and we will be safer if we SELECTIVELY take battle to our enemies.   
(FYI, I support Fred Thompson)   - Doug
« Last Edit: December 19, 2007, 11:52:25 AM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #297 on: December 21, 2007, 11:16:49 AM »

Skinny Devil:

The question you ask is a large one, larger than I have had time to answer in the hurry of holiday affairs-- and it belongs on a different thread.  IIRC there is a "Why we fight?" thread-- would you repost your question there?

Anyway, here's this on Huckabee.


Leap of Faith
December 21, 2007; Page A18
As pigs in pokes go, the Democratic Party bought itself a big one in 1988. Michael Dukakis was relatively unknown, but he was also the last man standing. Only too late did his party, along with the rest of the country, realize Mr. Dukakis was a typecast liberal -- a furlougher of felons, and a guy who looked mighty awkward in a tank.

This is what happens when a party takes a flyer, and it could be Republicans' turn with Mike Huckabee. The former Baptist minister and governor of Arkansas is surging in Iowa, and is tied with Rudy Giuliani in national polls. He's selling his party on a simple message: He's not those other guys, with their flip-flops and different faiths, and dicey social positions. As to what Mr. Huckabee is -- that's as unknown to most voters as the Almighty himself.

Mr. Huckabee is starting to get a look-see by the press, though whether the nation will have time to absorb the findings before the primaries is just as unknown. The small amount that has been unearthed so far ought to have primary voters nervous. It isn't just that Mr. Huckabee is far from a traditional conservative; he's a potential ethical time bomb.

On policy, Mr. Huckabee's tenure in Arkansas has shown him to be ambivalent about tax increases, variously supporting sales tax hikes, cigarette and gasoline taxes and Internet taxes. Spending increased 65% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation.

He's so lackluster on education reform that he recently received an endorsement from the New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association -- the first ever of a GOP candidate. The union cited Mr. Huckabee's opposition to school vouchers. Mr. Huckabee is a fan of greater subsidies for farmers and "clean energy." He's proven himself a political neophyte on foreign policy, joining Democrats to skewer President Bush and glorify the "diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy" line.

Most of this is out there, thoroughly documented, and even now slowly filtering its way to voters. Of more concern is what has not yet been discovered about Mr. Huckabee's time as Arkansas lieutenant governor and governor, in particular on ethical issues. There are signs that Mr. Huckabee's background -- borne of the same Arkansas establishment that produced Bill Clinton -- is ripe to provide the sort of pop-up political scandal that could derail a general election campaign.

In Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee was investigated by the state ethics committee at least 14 times. Most of the complaints centered on what appears to be a serial disregard for government rules about gifts and outside financial compensation. He reported $112,000 worth of gifts in one year alone, nearly double his $67,000 salary.

Five of the 14 investigations resulted in admonishments: Two for failing to report gifts (one was later overturned), the other three for some $80,000 that Mr. Huckabee and his wife received but failed to initially report. One of these admonishments involved a $23,500 payment to Mr. Huckabee from an opaque organization called Action America that he helped found in 1994 while lieutenant governor, and that was designed to coordinate his speeches and supplement his income.

Mr. Huckabee caused an uproar when he used a $60,000 account intended to maintain the governor's mansion for personal expenses, including restaurant meals, dry cleaning and boat supplies. He also faced a lawsuit over his assertion that $70,000 worth of furniture donated to the mansion was his to keep. Sprinkled among all this are complaints about the misuse of state planes and campaign funds, mistakes on financial disclosure forms, and fights over documents related to ethics investigations.

Any one of these episodes individually may appear penny ante, but they add up to a disturbing pattern. People I've spoken with who worked with Mr. Huckabee in Arkansas dispute the idea that he is "corrupt." They instead ascribe his ethical mishaps to a "blind spot" rooted in his beginnings as a Baptist minister and a Southern culture of gift-giving; they suggest he never made the mental transition to public office.

Some will also argue Mr. Huckabee is no more ethically challenged than Mr. Giuliani, who is getting pounded with questions about Judith Nathan's security detail and Giuliani Partner clients. The difference is that Hizzoner is a celebrity whose past bones were long ago picked clean by the media crows. Even the Nathan flap is an extension of news that made the rounds five years ago.

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.

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« Reply #298 on: December 22, 2007, 10:26:44 AM »

NEW MAN IN CHARGE Mike Huckabee entered his new office in July 1996, shortly after succeeding Jim Guy Tucker as governor. Mr. Tucker resigned after his conviction on Whitewater-related charges.

Published: December 22, 2007
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In more than a decade of presiding over this state, Mike Huckabee produced a legacy like few other Republican governors in the South, surprising even liberal Democrats with his willingness to upend some of Arkansas’s more parochial traditions.

A NEW TERM Mr. Huckabee and his wife, Janet Huckabee, who lost her bid for secretary of state, at the Inaugural Ball in 2003.

A review of his record as governor shows that, beginning in 1996, he drove through a series of changes that transformed education and health insurance in Arkansas, achievements that were never tried by most of his predecessors, including Bill Clinton.

But he is also remembered in the state for a style of governing that tended to freeze out anyone of any party who disagreed with his plans. He did not, for example, seek Mr. Clinton’s conciliatory middle, or try to court skeptical state lawmakers. Though he was considered as persuasive a speechmaker as he had been a pastor, Mr. Huckabee largely kept his own counsel — in politics, ethics and a singular clemency policy that continues to haunt him.

Against the political advice of his party and his aides, he pardoned or commuted the sentences of hundreds of convicts, including murderers, sometimes over the heated objections of prosecutors and victims’ families. He was cited five times by the state ethics commission for financial improprieties, and unapologetically accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of clothes and other gifts while he was governor.

Republicans in Arkansas, a beleaguered minority, gleefully greeted his ascendancy but wound up embittered, in many cases, over a governor who “sided with liberal Democrats,” as one put it.

Mr. Huckabee is a son of small-town Arkansas, yet he deeply angered many in his rural constituency, touching the third rail of the state’s politics by shutting down money-draining, redundant school districts in the hinterlands. Protesters rallied at the state Capitol, fearful of losing schools, football teams, and age-old identities, but the governor insisted his way was the best and the schools were closed.

He proclaimed himself a fiscal conservative, but startled legislators with his proposals to raise taxes — for roads, in 1999, and for schools, prisons and other services three years later. He sought the electoral defeat of Republicans who opposed him, according to some in the party.

A constant throughout was his presence at the microphone, the former television preacher delivering his word from the pulpit though hardly mingling in the Capitol’s marble halls.

“He would go out and stump and do his shtick and tell his jokes and charm you,” said State Senator Jimmy Jeffress, a Democrat and critic of the former governor. “He has the gift of gab. He’s the only person I know, other than Bill Clinton, who can pick up a rock and give you a 10-minute talk on it.”

At the same time he was not known to buy pizza for the legislators, as Mr. Clinton had done.

“Huckabee didn’t build bridges,” said State Senator Jim Argue Jr., a Democrat and leader in the schools overhaul effort. “If you didn’t agree with him, he attacked you.”

Charmaine Yoest, a senior adviser to the Huckabee campaign, said it was important to keep in mind that Mr. Huckabee was a Republican governor in one of the most Democratic states in the country.

“Yet here’s a man who managed to fix the roads, improve education and actually govern with the Democrats,” Ms. Yoest said. “People say he was intolerant, but how does that square with him being able to build coalitions and be re-elected numerous times?”

Confounding the Capitol

Mr. Huckabee was derided by Democrats as the “accidental governor” when he took office in July 1996, stepping up from the lieutenant governor’s job when the incumbent governor, Jim Guy Tucker, was forced to resign after a conviction in the Whitewater affair. Mr. Huckabee had not sought the post, having trained his sights instead on the United States Senate, and several legislators recalled a fumbling start.

It was not helped by what Mr. Huckabee later recalled as a hostile reception to himself and his family, as Republicans of humble background, when they moved into the governor’s mansion in a prestigious neighborhood in Little Rock.

“Dozens of hate-filled letters,” he wrote in his memoir, “From Hope to Higher Ground” (Center Street, 2007), “proclaimed that we lacked the ‘class’ to live in such a fine and stately home.” Mr. Huckabee’s touchiness over perceived slights was to become a byword in succeeding years, as the governor spoke out angrily when reporters and others questioned the startling stream of gifts that flowed in from supporters and friends.

Still, the novice governor found the sea legs in 1997 to help enact, with overwhelming support in the heavily Democratic Legislature, a major expansion of health insurance for children of the working poor whose families did not qualify for Medicaid. It was one of the first such expansions in the nation, coming before the federal government authorized them, and it baffled some Republicans in the Legislature.


Page 2 of 4)

“None of us understood what he was trying to do,” said Peggy Jeffries, then a Republican state senator and now executive director of the Arkansas affiliate of the Eagle Forum, a national group of conservatives.

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The Long Run
The Solitary Persuader
This is part of a series of articles about the life and careers of contenders for the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.

Easily elected to a full term in 1998, Mr. Huckabee was emerging as something of an unquantifiable presence in the state capital, sometimes exerting leadership, other times not, and often floating above the details and minutia of governing.

But he confounded Republicans again when he pushed for a fuel tax increase to finance an ambitious road-building program, and eventually won support for what historians say was the largest highway bond program in Arkansas history.

Meanwhile, a style of leadership was developing that frustrated Republicans and Democrats alike.

Jake Files, a former Republican state representative, recalled that the governor would call lawmakers into his office and state his plans.

“Kind of like getting called to the principal’s office,” Mr. Files said. “If you don’t line up with him, Katie bar the door.”

Still, this style — equal parts persuasion and intimidation — would prove to be of great value when Mr. Huckabee took on the biggest fight of his tenure, school reform.

In November 2002, the Arkansas Supreme Court presented the newly re-elected governor with the biggest challenge of his tenure, ruling that Arkansas’s system of financing public schools was inequitable. The court ordered change. More money had to be found, quickly.

Mr. Huckabee immediately adopted the path of greatest resistance, to the shock of many in the Legislature: he called for the closing of dozens of wasteful, tiny school districts. Some had fewer than 150 students. It was a volatile step, one that Mr. Clinton as governor had avoided, even though reformers had agreed for decades that it was an essential one.

“We certainly didn’t want to get too close to it,” recalled one of Mr. Clinton’s legislative aides in the 1980s, Bobby Roberts.

The governor’s plan aroused intense opposition all over the state, particularly as he proposed whittling down the 310 school districts by well over half.

“People don’t want to lose their schools,” said a veteran legislator, State Senator John Paul Capps, a Democrat. “They think it just ruins the community.”

Mr. Huckabee did not back down.

“The governor treated me as if I didn’t exist,” said Jimmy Cunningham, then president of the Arkansas Rural Education Association. “He had no compassion for me.”

The fight went on for over a year, and Mr. Huckabee’s staunchest allies proved to be the most liberal Democrats in the Legislature.

“He set a real high bar,” said Senator Argue, a Little Rock Democrat who describes himself as the preacher-governor’s “philosophical adversary,” but who joined forces with him on the issue. “I just give him credit for having the courage and determination to lead,” Mr. Argue said.

In the end, the Legislature whittled Mr. Huckabee’s school-district closing plan by nearly two-thirds. Disgusted, the governor refused to sign the bill, and it became law without him.

Clemency and Consequences

Nothing was more controversial about Mr. Huckabee’s governorship than his use of clemency to grant pardons and commute prison sentences. His clemency decisions produced the first big crisis of his administration, dogged him through a tough re-election campaign and provoked a series of bitter public protests, some still simmering on Jan. 9, 2007, the day he left office.

In all, Mr. Huckabee cut prison sentences or granted pardons for more than 1,000 criminals, far more than either his immediate predecessors or governors in neighboring states.

This did not happen by chance.

Driven by a religious belief in redemption and questions about the state’s legal system, Mr. Huckabee paid close attention to clemency petitions, former aides said. He insisted on reviewing every single application, though they came in by the hundreds most months.


(Page 3 of 4)

“He would take these files home with him to the governor’s mansion,” recalled Rex Nelson, Mr. Huckabee’s communications director for nine years. “He would read them, study them. He took it very seriously, the political consequences be damned.”

Most of Mr. Huckabee’s clemency decisions were unremarkable; in the vast majority of cases he simply followed the recommendation of the Arkansas Parole Board. But in a small though significant number of cases, he commuted prison sentences for murderers and other violent criminals over the pleas of victims’ families, prosecutors and judges. And as his reputation for granting clemency spread, applications surged.

“We had tons of them,” said Cory Cox, who worked for several years as Mr. Huckabee’s aide in charge of clemency matters. “People, they’d call and say, ‘Please, let the governor look at this. We don’t know who the next governor is going to be.’ ”

By every account, Mr. Huckabee’s approach to clemency was heavily influenced by his religious beliefs. As John Wesley Hall, a Little Rock defense lawyer who filed numerous clemency petitions with the Huckabee administration, put it, “He’s a Baptist preacher who believes in redemption and second chances.”

But it also reflected Mr. Huckabee’s broader concerns about the criminal justice system in Arkansas, one of the few states where juries rather than judges impose sentences, which defense lawyers say can produce arbitrary results.

Dana Reece, another defense lawyer, told of one client who received a life sentence for selling six grams of crack cocaine. “He’d still be in prison today if it weren’t for Governor Huckabee,” Ms. Reece said. How many politicians, she asked, would stick their necks out for a crack dealer?

“This was a political hot potato, and he knew it,” Mr. Cox said of his former boss. “But he had a conviction that people could better themselves, and he was open-minded to the idea that a poor black man from east Arkansas convicted by an all-white jury just may have been a victim of injustice.”

Many Arkansans faulted him, however, for refusing to give public explanations for pardons and sentence commutations, and for responding harshly to those who criticized his choices.

“He just doesn’t want to talk to victims’ families,” Elaine Colclasure, co-leader of the Central Arkansas chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, a victims’ advocacy group, said in an interview last week. “He doesn’t want anyone questioning anything he does. And when you do, he bristles. His compassion is for the murderer and any criminal who says he has found Jesus.”

Dee McManus Engle, another member of the group, recalled accompanying a murder victim’s widow to a scheduled meeting at the governor’s office. “We stayed there half the day trying to talk with Huckabee,” Ms. Engle said, adding, “It was the most important thing in her life, and she was in tears because she could not get to the governor.”

Former aides said that while Mr. Huckabee rarely met with victims or their families, he was never dismissive of their concerns. “I can tell you we listened to victims,” Mr. Cox said. “I mean, it was a no-win situation. The victims, if you granted clemency, it didn’t matter how long you listened to them. It just tore them up.”

As for Mr. Huckabee’s refusal to detail his reasons for granting clemency, Mr. Cox said that was intended to prevent other petitioners from mimicking successful arguments.

Some Arkansas prosecutors argue that Mr. Huckabee’s clemency record reveals a dangerous gullibility about human nature, particularly when it comes to claims of religious conversion. It raises, they say, the basic question of judgment, the precise question one of Mr. Huckabee’s rivals for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, has raised anew in his Iowa campaign.

Exhibit A in this critique is the case of Wayne Dumond, a rapist who had been implicated in other violent crimes, including a murder and another rape, when Mr. Huckabee took office in 1996. Mr. Dumond said he found God in prison, and his case was championed by evangelicals and conservative opponents of Bill Clinton, who was a distant relative of one of the rape victims and who refused to grant clemency to Mr. Dumond.


Page 4 of 4)

Months after being sworn in, Mr. Huckabee announced his intention to cut Mr. Dumond’s prison sentence, prompting furious public protests from Mr. Dumond’s victim and from prosecutors around the state.

“We told the governor that Wayne Dumond had a history of rape and murder,” Henry Morgan, then president of the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association, recalled. “So the governor knew, or any reasonable person should have known, that releasing him was dangerous.”

Mr. Huckabee was not persuaded. “He thought the man should be released,” Mr. Nelson, his former communications director, recalled.

As it turned out, Mr. Huckabee did not grant clemency to Mr. Dumond; the state Parole Board released him instead, and several former members of the board have since told reporters that they acted under pressure from Mr. Huckabee, a charge he has repeatedly denied.

Even so, Mr. Nelson recalled the moment in 2001 when he and Mr. Huckabee first heard the news that the newly freed Mr. Dumond had been charged with raping and murdering a woman in Missouri. “Everybody realized at that point that that would be something used against him politically in the 2002 campaign,” he said — a prediction that turned out to be correct when the issue contributed to a tight re-election race.

There were several other cases of convicts who won clemency from Mr. Huckabee and then went on to commit more crimes, including Wade Stewart, whose life sentence for murder was commuted in 2004. Mr. Stewart was arrested this year, charged with carrying a concealed revolver. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found that nearly one in 10 who received clemency from Governor Huckabee were later sentenced to prison.

Mr. Huckabee eventually did bend, if slightly, to criticism and scrutiny. He proved less willing to grant clemency in his second term, especially for violent offenses. He also agreed to give slightly more information about his reasoning. Yet some prosecutors say that victims’ families are now skeptical about life sentences.

“They say, ‘You can’t guarantee that he’ll stay in prison for the rest of his life because the governor can let him out,’” said Larry Jegley, Little Rock’s longtime prosecuting attorney. “People are aware the governor has this power and it has been exercised to let murderers, rapists and home invaders loose, and that’s a problem.”

Gifts and Critics

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Huckabee reacted with outrage and scorn when questions arose over the stream of gifts that flowed his way. He pugnaciously fought back against state ethics commission investigations. The governor appeared to find no conflict between occupying the highest office in the state, and receiving tribute; critics, on the other hand, said the two were directly related, in a way that was unseemly at best.

Early in his first term, he was questioned, and eventually sued, for using a state fund meant to operate the governor’s mansion for personal family expenses like pantyhose and meals at Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The suit was eventually dropped, but spending out of the fund was curtailed.

Meanwhile, other methods emerged to supplement the governor’s salary, which was $68,448 in 1999. That year, he reported getting $112,366 in gifts, including thousands in clothing from Jennings Osborne, a wealthy businessman in Little Rock who befriended the family. Mr. Osborne also made regular gifts of pastries and flowers to the governor’s mansion. There were also gift certificates to department stores, ties and other items.

The gift-taking tailed off in subsequent years — there was $5,000 worth in 2003 — but Mr. Huckabee’s tangles with the state ethics commission fill a thick binder with documents spanning much of his time as governor. Mr. Nelson, the governor’s former aide, described these episodes as “penny ante,” and it is true that the commission did not uphold roughly two-thirds of the complaints against the governor. But it did find violations in five, including Mr. Huckabee’s acceptance of a $500 canoe from Coca-Cola and a $200 stadium blanket, though a court later threw out the finding on the canoe.

As the governor left office, new questions arose over wedding registries set up decades after his marriage began at department stores, including Target, so friends could help furnish the Huckabees’s new home in Little Rock. The governor attacked reporters for raising the issue — “I feel you’ve done a real disservice to the people of this state” — but others saw a pattern, in the gift-taking and the defensiveness. Both hark back to his past as a member of the clergy, critics said.

Throughout his tenure, allies and enemies alike were struck by a governor adept at giving the word, if not at receiving it. And in his writings, Mr. Huckabee attributes his moral compass to God, not to himself.

“If integrity and character are divorced from God, they don’t make sense,” he writes in his book, with John Perry, “Character Makes a Difference” (B&H Publishing Group, 2007). “Integrity, left to define itself, becomes evil because everyone ends up choosing his own standards.”

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« Reply #299 on: December 26, 2007, 07:29:19 PM »

Fred finally seems to be finding his footing (including a very good serious tax rate cut proposal)-- but if he doesn't have a solid showing in Iowa he's probably done for.   Although I like Huckabee for his Fair Tax, strong gun rights, and some other positions, there is quite a bit that is frankly straight disagreeable Democrat.  Romney still strikes me as an insincere Ken doll and soft on gun rights, Rudy hostile to gun rights, dubious on immigration, McCain hostile to free speech and border control, blah blah.  My sense of things, my hope is that if Fred survives this moment, the lack of passion for any of the others could result in a second chance for him-- if he survives Iowa.  Long story short, if you like Fred, right now would be a good moment to express it financially.


Here's this on Huckabee by the , , , unique Ann Coulter.  Being Ann, as usual there are absurdities in the following, and, being Ann, there are also some pretty pertinent points made too:

All I want for Christmas is for Christians to listen to what Mike Huckabee says, rather than what the media say about him. The mainstream media keep flogging Huckabee for being a Christian, apparently unaware that this "God" fellow is testing through the roof in focus groups.

Huckabee is a "compassionate conservative" only in the sense that calling him a conservative is being compassionate.

He responded to my column last week -- pointing out that he is on record supporting the Supreme Court's sodomy-is-a-constitutional-right decision -- by saying that he was relying on the word of a caller to his radio show and didn't know the details of the case. Ironically, that's how most people feel about sodomy: They support it until they hear the details.Continued

First, I'd pay a lot of money to hear how a court opinion finding that sodomy is a constitutional right could be made to sound reasonable. But the caller had the right response when Huckabee asked him, "What's your favorite radio station?" So he seemed like a reliable source.

Second, Huckabee's statement that he agreed with the court's sodomy ruling was made one week after the decision. According to Nexis, in that one week, the sodomy decision had been the cover story on every newspaper in the country, including The New York Times. It was the talk of all the Sunday news programs. It had been denounced by every conservative and Christian group in America -- as well as other random groups of sane individuals having no conservative inclinations whatsoever.

The highest court in the land had found sodomy was a constitutional right! That sort of thing tends to make news. (I was going to say the sodomy ruling got publicity up the wazoo, but this is, after all, Christmas week.)

So this little stretch-marked cornpone is either lying, has a closed head injury, is a complete ignoramus -- or all of the above.

Huckabee opposes school choice, earning him the coveted endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire, which is like the sheriff being endorsed by the local whorehouse.

He is, however, in favor of school choice for kids in Mexico: They have the choice of going to school there or here. Huckabee promoted giving in-state tuition in Arkansas to illegal immigrants from Mexico -- but not to U.S. citizens from Ohio. "I don't believe you punish the children," he said, "for the crime and sins of the parents."

Since when is not offering someone lavish taxpayer-funded benefits a form of punishment? That's almost as crazy as a governor pardoning a known sex offender so he can go out and rape and kill.

Huckabee claims he's against punishing children for the crimes of their fathers in the case of illegal immigrants. But in the case of slavery, he believes the children of the children's children should be routinely punished for the crimes of their fathers. Huckabee has said illegal immigration gives Americans a chance to make up for slavery. (I thought letting O.J. walk for murdering two people was payback for slavery.)

Just two years ago, Huckabee cheerfully announced to a meeting of the Hispanic advocacy group League of United Latin American Citizens that "Pretty soon, Southern white guys like me may be in the minority." Who's writing this guy's speeches -- Al Sharpton? (Actually, take out "Southern" and "white," and I agree with Huckabee's sentiment).

He said the transition from Arkansas' Southern traditions would "require extraordinary efforts on both sides of the border." But, curiously, most of the efforts Huckabee described would come entirely from this side of the border. Arkansas, he pledged, would celebrate diversity "in culture, in language and in population." He said America would have to "accommodate" those who come here.

All that he expected from those south of the border was that they have a desire to provide better opportunities for their families. Basically, we have to keep accommodating everyone but U.S. citizens.

For those of you keeping score at home, this puts Huckabee just a little to the left of Dennis Kucinich on illegal immigration and border control. The only difference is that Kucinich supports amnesty for aliens from south of the border and north of Saturn.

In a widely quoted remark, Huckabee denounced a Republican bill that would merely require proof of citizenship to vote and receive government benefits as "un-Christian, un-American, irresponsible and anti-life," according to the Arkansas News Bureau. Now, where have I heard this sort of thing before? Hmmm ... wait, now I remember: It was during the Democratic debates!

In his current attempt to pretend to be against illegal immigration, Huckabee makes a meaningless joke about how the federal government should track illegals the way Federal Express tracks packages. (Can a Mexican fit in one of those little envelopes?)

In other words, Huckabee is going to address the problem of illegal immigration by making jokes. It's called leadership, folks.

Huckabee confirms for liberal TV hosts their image of conservatives as dorks by bragging about how cool he is because he "likes music." What's he doing -- running for president or filling out his Facebook profile? Arkansas former fatty loves to make jokes and play the bass guitar. Remember what happened to the last former fatboy from Arkansas trying to be "cool" by liking music? I'll take "Stained Dresses" for $400, Alex.

According to Huckabee, most people think conservatives don't like music. Who on earth says conservatives don't like music -- other than liberals and Mike Huckabee? This desperate need to be liked by liberals has never led to anything but calamity.

Huckabee wants to get kids involved in music at an early age because he believes it leads to a more balanced and developed brain. You know, as we saw with the Jackson family. Maybe someone should tell him the Osmonds are voting for Romney.

He supports a nationwide smoking ban anyplace where people work, constitutional protection for sodomy, big government, higher taxes and government benefits for illegal aliens. According to my calculations, that puts him about three earmarks away from being Nancy Pelosi.

Liberals take a perverse pleasure in touting Huckabee because they know he will give them everything they want -- big government and a Christian they can roll.
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