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Power User
Posts: 42548

« Reply #50 on: February 12, 2008, 12:05:28 PM »

Survival of the Wettest

One of the most liberal House Republicans faces a serious primary challenge today, and may survive only because he has more than one opponent running against him.

Maryland GOP Congressman Wayne Gilchrest has charted an increasingly liberal record in Washington over his 18 years in the House. He turned away conservative primary opponents in his Eastern Shore district in 2002 and 2004, but now faces two serious opponents. Former GOP Governor Bob Ehrlich has endorsed State Senator Andy Harris, a former Navy doctor. Meanwhile, State Senator E.J. Pipkin has pumped nearly $1 million of his own money into the race. Private polls show Mr. Gilchrest with one-third of the vote, Mr. Harris with about the same and Mr. Pipkin trailing with about half of their support.

Traditionally incumbents only lose when they face a single opponent. Their superior name ID and ability to deliver constituent services make it difficult to bring them much below 50% in a primary. This has led many people to speculate that Mr. Pipkin, who entered the race at the last minute, is actually in the contest to divert votes from Mr. Harris and ensure a Gilchrest victory. The theory goes that Mr. Pipkin would then get the incumbent's support whenever Mr. Gilchrest decides to retire.

Mr. Pipkin vehemently denies any such motivation, but his candidacy is likely to have the perverse effect of keeping Mr. Gilchrest in office for another term. Mr. Gilchrest makes an odd fit for the conservative district. He often casts liberal votes that are out of step with his voters, such as supporting statehood for the District of Columbia and voting against compensating landowners for the cost of wetlands regulations. If he wins, it will be yet another example of how conservatives lose when they divide their forces.

-- John Fund
The Too-Right Stuff

Rep. Al Wynn has so angered the left-wing base of the Democratic Party that he is in danger of being turfed out of office today by his Maryland constituents.

Mr. Wynn's troubles with the left began in 2002, after he voted for President Bush's Iraq war resolution. He then followed that up with votes against various parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulation, a vote to repeal the estate tax and a vote to make it harder for people to file for bankruptcy.

In 2006, that record led attorney Donna Edwards to challenge him in a race that Mr. Wynn survived by only 3% of the vote. She's now back with a slew of liberal groups supporting her. Although she has attacked Mr. Wynn for receiving backing from "special interests," some 86% of her own money has been raised outside Maryland.

Mr. Wynn can point to a solid 85% liberal voting record as measured by the Americans for Democratic Action. He says he opposed the ban on soft money donations in McCain-Feingold because "I argued for balance. That's been interpreted as being opposed to campaign finance [reform]; therefore, I'm not a progressive. It's a simplistic analysis, and it's unfortunate."

The distinct that Mr. Wynn and Ms. Edwards are fighting over is 57% African-American and made up of the fairly affluent suburbs surrounding Washington, D.C. Should Mr. Wynn lose today, his defeat will send shock waves through the ranks of Democratic House members who stray occasionally from their party's line. The message to Democrats: No apostasy is forgotten or forgiven. Any who defect from the litmus tests of the liberal bloggers can expect a serious primary challenge from the same left-wing groups that cost Senator Joe Lieberman his 2006 Democratic primary in Connecticut, forcing him to seek re-election as an independent.

-- John Fund
Quote of the Day I

"Mr. Obama's supporters are the latte liberals. These are the people for whom Starbucks, with its $5 cups of coffee and fancy bakeries, is not just a consumer choice but a lifestyle. They not only have the money. They share the values.... Mrs. Clinton is the candidate of what might be called Dunkin' Donut Democrats. They do not have money to waste on multiple-hyphenated coffee drinks -- double-top, no-foam, non-fat lattes and the like. Not for them the bran muffins or the biscotti. They are the 75-cent coffee and doughnut crowd. For them caffeine choice doesn't correlate with their values but simply represents a means of keeping them going through their challenging day" -- columnist Gerard Baker of the Times of London.

Quote of the Day II

"It is not 'the politics of fear' to remind Obama's legions of the blissful that, while they are watching Scarlett Johansson sway to the beat, somewhere deep inside a quasi independent territory we might call Islamistan people are making plans to blow them to bits. (Yes, they can.) One of the striking features of Obama's victory speeches is the absence from these exultations of any lasting allusion to the darker dimensions of our strategic predicament" -- Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic.

Raising Kaine

Barack Obama told radio listeners in Richmond yesterday that Virginia's Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine is "somebody who is on my short list to have a role in my administration." As voters head to the polls today in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., Mr. Obama is expected to sweep all three contests, but the race in Virginia is the one that bears watching. Mr. Obama hopes to demonstrate with a big victory and stellar turnout that he's the candidate who can put Virginia in play in November.

A central theme of Mr. Obama's campaign is that he, not Hillary, can win "red" states in the general election. A record turnout in his favor today would underline that argument, showing not only that he can outdraw Mrs. Clinton among Democrats, but bring enough new voters to the polls to offset a local GOP advantage.

In the 1990s, Republicans ran the tables in the Virginia, winning back-to-back governor's elections and capturing control of the state legislature for the first time in more than 100 years. George W. Bush carried the state in 2000 and 2004. But with the election of Mark Warner as governor in 2001, Democrats have been on the comeback trail, building a base of support not only in northern Virginia, where many northern transplants live, but in rural counties past Richmond along the coast and into the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west.

Mr. Obama hopes Virginia can be a model for broadening the national Democratic coalition to include more conservative states. Hence the unusually bold tactic of flaunting Mr. Kaine -- Mr. Warner's popular successor as governor -- as a possible running mate. As for Mr. Warner himself, he's already in a race of his own, for the retiring John Warner's (no relation) Senate seat. He's expected to win easily, which would only further his own prominence as a future Democratic presidential contender. For Mr. Obama, establishing credibility as a big-time vote-getter in Virginia is important not just today -- but also for 2012, when he could face Mr. Warner in a Democratic presidential primary.
Power User
Posts: 42548

« Reply #51 on: February 13, 2008, 12:50:42 PM »

No Hurry, Mike

Why is Mike Huckabee staying in the Republican race even though it is now mathematically impossible to win the nomination?

The answer is: Why not? His base among evangelicals is such that he can do surprisingly well in states like Virginia, where he only lost to John McCain by nine points last night. He builds up more media credibility as a possible running mate for Mr. McCain, who might not want to risk alienating Mr. Huckabee's socially conservative followers. And the former Arkansas governor clearly enjoys campaigning.

Republicans would be wise not to pressure Mr. Huckabee to leave the race. "No one is entitled to tell you to drop out of the race except your spouse," is how former White House aide Karl Rove put it last night on Fox News.

Indeed, Dan Schnur, John McCain's communications director in 2000, says that a continued Huckabee candidacy gives the McCain campaign a chance to stay relevant in a news cycle that is now dominated by the knockdown Democratic fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. "As long as the Democrats keep fighting it out on the other side, [Huckabee] has got the luxury of time," Mr. Schnur told The Hill newspaper.

-- John Fund
Al Gore to the Rescue?

Democratic political operatives are beginning to think ahead in case the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama race ends in deadlock and Democrats arrive at their Denver convention in August without a nominee. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama remain in a virtual dead heat in the delegate count. Despite the Obama momentum and recent landslides in many states, if Hillary were to win Texas, where there is a very large Hispanic vote, she would have won the four big electorate-rich states: New York, California, Florida, and Texas. That would be a strong case for many undecided Democratic superdelegates to support her notwithstanding Mr. Obama's strong showing.

What happens in a deadlocked convention? If neither candidate throws in the towel and neither can get a majority of delegates, one option is a brokered convention, where both candidates step aside for a compromise candidate. That's the way smoke-filled, dealmaking conventions used to work. One name keeps resurfacing as the ideal brokered candidate: Al Gore. Many Democratic pundits still believe the Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize winner would have the best chances against the GOP in November. His record is not nearly as far left as Senator Clinton's or Senator Obama's and he may stand a better chance of winning independent voters than either of them.

But a problem with this scenario, as one Democratic insider tells me, is that Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are "mortal enemies." She would rather sleep on a bed of coals than hand the nomination to her husband's vice president, whom she constantly squabbled with in the White House.

Yet the vitriol between the Clinton and Obama camps is also very real and palpable. That means neither is likely to surrender delegates to the other, ruling out a deal in which, say, Mrs. Clinton would head the ticket and Mr. Obama would serve as running mate -- although it wouldn't be unprecedented for two political enemies to run together on the same ticket. It happened with John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

By far the most likely scenario is that the Democrats settle on a candidate in the weeks ahead, but a stalemate isn't out of the question and don't be surprised if you start seeing Al Gore on TV more often in the meantime.

-- Stephen Moore
Maryland Sends a Message

A quarter of Maryland's Congressional delegation went down to defeat in last night's primary. The results demonstrate the increasing polarization of the House. Liberal voters ousted Democratic Rep. Albert Wynn partly for his 2002 vote to intervene in Iraq while conservative voters turned out GOP Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in part for being one of only two House Republicans to vote for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. The last time a Maryland congressman lost a party primary was in 1992.

Attorney Donna Edwards built on her 2006 Democratic primary showing against Mr. Wynn, when she lost by only three percentage points. She hammered him on Iraq and for his occasional votes with Republicans on economic issues. A phalanx of liberal groups poured money into the Washington D.C.-area district and Mr. Wynn lost badly. Markos Moulitsas, who runs the left-wing Web site, was exultant, claiming that Democrats are "once again on notice: If they continue to serve corporate interests rather than their constituents, if they insist on remaining aloof to the nation's popular sentiment, they'll get booted in a Democratic primary like Joe Lieberman in 2006."

Ms. Edwards's victory over an eight-term veteran like Mr. Wynn will certainly make it more difficult for Democrats to cross the aisle and seek bipartisan cooperation with Republicans. Meanwhile, conservatives are exulting in the loss of Mr. Gilchrest, who broke with his party more often than any other House Republican last year. State Senator Andy Harris, a former navy doctor, not only defeated the incumbent, but did so despite the presence of another challenger, State Senator E.J. Pipken, who threatened to split the conservative vote.

In the end, Mr. Pipken trailed badly despite his efforts to tie both Mr. Harris and Rep. Gilchrest to policies he claimed were soft on illegal aliens. He even put up an ad that linked his GOP opponents to Maryland's Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley, portraying the trio as "Three Amigos" in sombreros. Mr. Pipken wound up spending over $1 million of his own money to no avail.

"They told me nine months ago that you could never possibly take on an incumbent, it could never happen, don't even try it," the victorious Mr. Harris told his supporters last night. "They don't know me; they don't know my volunteers."

Environmental groups and unions wound up coming to Mr. Gilchrest's side when it became clear he was in trouble and that no Democrat would stand a chance in the fall election against the winner of the GOP primary. But the free-market Club for Growth helped assemble a stunning $500,000 in contributions for Mr. Harris, allowing him to remain financially competitive against the nine-term incumbent Mr. Gilchrest.

-- John Fund
Quote of the Day I

"The wonder, really, is that the nomination train wreck confronting the Democratic Party didn't happen years earlier. The stage was set for the current stalemate over five marathon days of negotiations in June 1988. In the fifth-floor conference room of a Washington law firm, representatives of Michael Dukakis, the party's nominee, and Jesse Jackson, his unsuccessful challenger, hashed out a new set of delegate selection rules. Jackson felt aggrieved that he had not amassed as many delegates as his popular vote total would have suggested. In the 1984 primary campaign, for instance, Jackson won 19 percent of the popular vote but received just 10 percent of the delegates. So Jackson's rules guru, Harold M. Ickes, insisted on adopting proportional representation rules that would award insurgent candidates a bigger share of delegates in future contests. Twenty years later, the rules Ickes advocated seem to be working against his current candidate, Hillary Clinton, reducing the impact of her wins in delegate-rich states such as California, New York and New Jersey" -- Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.

Quote of the Day II

"There are fault lines -- of race, gender and generation -- in the Democratic party that have opened in the course of the campaign. An insurgency threatens an establishment. And if a battle over contested delegations goes clear to the convention, if the superdelegates anoint a nominee in a process and for a reason that isn't clear to all, then the fight in Denver, like the fight 40 years ago [at the Chicago Democratic convention in 1968], won't simply be over an issue or even a nomination. It could well be a furious battle among core Democratic constituencies for the future of the party. And the only winner of that fight would be John McCain" -- Harold Meyerson, editor of the liberal American Prospect magazine.

Hillary as Underdog

It wasn't the six debates she had demanded, but Hillary Clinton did finally get Barack Obama last week to agree to debate her again before the next big-state primaries. After her trouncing last night in the so-called Potomac races, Mrs. Clinton needs more than ever to find ways to undercut the Obama momentum.

For a supposed front-runner, Mrs. Clinton was in the unusual position of demanding that her challenger debate her once a week until the Democratic primaries effectively conclude in April. Mr. Obama, knowing that Mrs. Clinton is trying to draw him into forums where she can expose him as less substantive and detailed on issues, had resisted. But his advisers finally convinced him that ignoring her calls for further exchanges would hurt him with undecided voters and that she was just as likely to make a major stumble in a debate as he was.

The next debate will be held in Cleveland on February 26, just before the crucial Ohio primary. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, which has caused nearly 10% of Cleveland homes to slip into possible foreclosure, will certainly be a major topic -- and at the center of it will be Mrs. Clinton's bizarre notion that mortgage interest rates can be frozen for five years without drying up lending for new borrowers.

The second debate will be in Texas just before the state's March 4 primary. Both candidates will no doubt be asked about immigration issues, where Mrs. Clinton will likely bash Mr. Obama for his support of driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Mr. Obama hopes to use her position to point out her insensitivity to Hispanic concerns and undermine her strong reliance on the Hispanic vote.

-- John Fund

Power User
Posts: 42548

« Reply #52 on: February 14, 2008, 01:07:00 PM »

The John Edwards Factor

Hillary Clinton still has fight left in her. She is pulling out all the stops to entice John Edwards to endorse her over Barack Obama, including a secret visit to his North Carolina home so she could make her pitch in person.

"There is a lot John and I have in common," Mrs. Clinton told reporters later. "I will be a fighter, and I intend to ask John Edwards to be a part of anything I do in the White House." Could that include his being her Attorney General?

ABC News reports that several of Mr. Edwards' advisers "likened his thought process to a heart-versus-head split with his heart favoring Sen. Barack Obama's strong message of change, and his head attracted to Clinton's tested nature and commitment to tough fights."

Mr. Edwards also must know that, if he were to endorse Mr. Obama now, he might seem merely to be joining the media bandwagon. Endorsing Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, would be the surprising move and might allow him to take personal credit for reenergizing her flagging campaign. Mr. Edwards won 40 delegates before ending his own race, and his powers of persuasion could put many of those now uncommitted votes into the New York senator's corner.

Should Mr. Edwards endorse Mrs. Clinton, speculation would be rife that he would get the top job at the Justice Department for helping her win the White House. That slot would keep him in the public eye, provide him with a platform for his anti-corporate views and leave open the chance he could run for president again.

-- John Fund

The Iraq Factor

A Strategic Vision poll in Wisconsin -- next week's big Democratic primary battle -- shows Barack Obama holding a 45% to 41% lead over Hillary Clinton. But the real news in the poll are its intriguing hints on just how sour the electorate in that critical swing state is over the war in Iraq.

Not surprisingly, 68% of the state's voters disapproved of President Bush's handling of Iraq, but a stunning 74% also disapproved of how Congress is conducting itself. The money question was: Do you believe that Democrats in Congress have a better plan to resolve the Iraq War than President Bush?

The answer in thoroughly dovish Wisconsin was 71% "no," 18% "yes" and 11% undecided. Small wonder that the war in Iraq has faded as a campaign issue, even in Democratic primaries. Voters simply don't believe claims by any candidate that they have a monopoly of wisdom on dealing with the situation in Iraq.

-- John Fund

Hillary Needs Debates, So MSNBC Is Forgiven

"Voters want more debates," Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told reporters yesterday, citing record-breaking viewership of previous televised encounters as proof of his claim.

Despite the fact Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have stood on stage together 18 times this year, the Clinton campaign is aggressively pushing Mr. Obama to commit to further one-on-one televised debates. Yesterday, the campaign launched a statewide television ad in Wisconsin slamming Mr. Obama for refusing to agree to debate before the state's primary next Tuesday. "Maybe he'd prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions," the ad says. Mr. Wolfson followed up yesterday by accusing Mr. Obama of "hiding" from voters in Wisconsin and displaying an "unwillingness" to discuss issues.

Also yesterday, Mrs. Clinton announced she would take part in a debate hosted by NBC in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 26. Mrs. Clinton had threatened to skip the debate after MSNBC's David Shuster suggested on a broadcast last week that the Clintons had "pimped out" 27-year old Chelsea Clinton on behalf of her mother's campaign. Mr. Shuster apologized and was suspended immediately, but the campaign cited previous derogatory statements about Mrs. Clinton by host Chris Matthews (who also apologized) as part of a pattern of behavior at the network that justified boycotting the debate.

In the end, however, the campaign's desire -- or need -- to engage with Mr. Obama won the day. "We have expressed concerns about that network," Mr. Wolfson said yesterday, "but we don't believe those concerns should stand in the way allowing the people of Ohio to see important distinctions between the candidates."

The only other debate currently on the calendar will take place on February 21 at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.

Reeling from Mr. Obama's win streak of eight straight contests over the past week, the Clinton campaign now sees one-on-one debates as among the precious few opportunities to change the narrative and regain positive momentum heading into make-or-break contests for Mrs. Clinton in Texas and Ohio on March 4. Mr. Obama has generally been outmatched by Mrs. Clinton in debate forums throughout the year, but with the status of frontrunner comes the luxury of choosing when and where he wants to meet his opponent.

-- Tom Bevan, executive editor of
Quote of the Day

"You know, when it comes down to a general election -- looks like it's going to be Obama versus McCain -- any number of ways of playing this, and one of them, I don't necessarily have to tout McCain, but I certainly will be critical of Obama. Once we get down to the general, you start examining what this guy's policies are. Right now [Obama is] saying nothing better than anybody has ever said it. At least in my lifetime. It's going have to get specific at some point" -- radio host Rush Limbaugh, in an interview with Time Magazine.

We Interrupt This Campaign...

Mike Huckabee is spurning suggestions that he drop out of the presidential race because he has no mathematical chance to win the GOP nomination. He is stubbornly staying in the race, holding fundraisers, attending rallies and giving interviews.

Except for this coming Saturday, when Mr. Huckabee will abandon the campaign trail to give a speech to a group of business leaders -- in the Cayman Islands. Huh? When did that British overseas territory start sending delegates to American political conventions?

It turns out he will be giving a paid speech in the offshore banking center. "I have to make a living," Mr. Huckabee told reporters in Wisconsin yesterday. "There will be a few other times when I go out and make sure I can pay my mortgage payment like everybody else has to."

There will be other detours in Mr. Huckabee's campaign schedule this month. On February 22 he will address a group of Colorado business leaders, a fine audience no doubt, but not one that will do his campaign much good. Colorado Republicans already selected their delegates to the GOP's national convention last week. But give him credit. In exploiting his newfound fame to troll not just for votes but personal income as well, Mr. Huckabee is clearly charting an unusual course.

Power User
Posts: 7839

« Reply #53 on: February 14, 2008, 09:23:40 PM »

Well can McCain beat BO at his own game?  Or is he going to sound as old as he looks and continue the Repub'Can mantra, "I'm for tax cuts!"?  That won't do it this time.  I think Newt is on the right tract about the need for 'Cans to sound like they are for change. However, I think he seriously underestimates the intangible element to OB's appeal.  It's far more than change.  It's far more than another "Declaration of Independence" or "Contact with America" redux.

I don't think Newt gets it .

OB is more than change.  He is aspiring to people's hopes, their dreams their aspirations.  Clinton is right about it being a fairy tale.   For goodness sakes, it is spiritual, or worse, blind faith.  Some have already called BO a Messiah.   But like it or not that's what BO's opponents are up against. McCain is going to have to do the same.  Be inspirational, be the figure who can take us to the promised land.  Use his life which in my opnion is more remarkable than OBs' and prove to the country he can take us to the next level.

I just don't know if a 70 year old warhorse can do that.  In China they revere their elders. Here we throw them in the trashbin.

In any case according to Zogby (poll f
rom a Dem superdelegate) BO is already wiping McCain up:
Power User
Posts: 42548

« Reply #54 on: February 15, 2008, 01:55:08 PM »

“The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.” —Samuel Adams

Patriot Candidate Profile: Mike Huckabee
By Mark Alexander

In his victory speech after sweeping the Potomac Primaries, John McCain had this to say about his primary Republican opponent: “I want to commend my friend, Governor Huckabee, whose spirited campaign, many gifts as a communicator and advocate, and passionate supporters are a credit to him and our party.”

That wasn’t exactly an invitation for Mike Huckabee to join McCain’s ticket, but the prospect is an evermore-distinct possibility.

I first met Mike Huckabee in 1992 at the onset of the Clintonista siege. I was a few pounds lighter, and he a few pounds heavier.

A mutual friend (who was, at that time, the strongest Reagan Republican in Tennessee’s State Senate) thought enough of Mike that he pulled together a group of the Volunteer State’s conservative mafia to see what we could do to help this guy fill the seat of a Clinton crony, former Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who had moved up to take Clinton’s post.

We pitched in, and a year later, Mike won a special election, becoming only the second Republican elected Lt. Governor since the War Between the States. He was re-elected to a full term as Lt. Gov. in 1994.

Two years later, Tucker was among the Clinton front men convicted for Whitewater shenanigans, in his case for arranging nearly $3 million in fraudulent loans. He was forced to resign, and he thus gave the keys to the Governor’s mansion to Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee served out the remainder of Tucker’s term and was elected outright to a full term in 1998, and re-elected in 2002.

Mike Huckabee and Bill Clinton have some things in common: They were both born in Hope, Arkansas, both served as Governor of Arkansas, both chaired the National Governors Association and both are amateur musicians—Huckabee playing bass guitar with his band, Capitol Offense.

The similarities end there.

Huckabee grew up in a caring, intact family. His father was a fireman, and his mother a clerk. They scraped together enough to live modestly. “Some of us know what it’s like to start at the bottom of the ladder,” he says, “but where you finish is up to you.” Mike’s formative years were steeped in Christian teaching and discipline. He says that his father was “the ultimate patriot. You know, he’d lay on the stripes, and I’d see stars.”

He was president of Hope High School in 1973, and two-and-a-half years later he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University, a small, academically competitive institution.

In 1974, he married (and notably, is still married to) Janet McCain (no relation). They have three children.

My original impression of Mike was that he was an honest, intelligent, plainspoken man guided by an indissoluble reliance on God. He made no apology for the fact that his political views were shaped by his faith. “Politics are totally directed by worldview,” says Huckabee. “That’s why when people say, ‘We ought to separate politics from religion,’ I say to separate the two is absolutely impossible.”

However, that impression has, to be polite, weathered a bit over the years.

Huckabee’s overall Patriot Candidate Rating is a “6”, placing him between John McCain (5) and Mitt Romney (7). He gets high marks for his character, leadership ability and record as a constitutional constructionist, but low marks on experience, and his contemptible record on taxation and spending, which is, well, Bushy.

During his tenure, he rolled the South’s economic boom—and his state’s subsequent increases in tax collections—into a 65-percent increase in state spending by 2004. According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, between 1996 and 2006 Huckabee signed 90 tax-reduction measures totaling $378 million, and 21 tax increases totaling $883 million.

When Huckabee entered office, Arkansas had a $200-million deficit. When he left, it had an $850-million surplus, though the state’s general-debt obligations increased by almost $1 billion. His tax-and-spend policies undermined the integrity of Arkansas’ state Republican Party.

As Fred Thompson observed, “Mike Huckabee talks like a Republican but taxes like a Democrat.”

Predictably, and commendably, he supported many conservative initiatives to strengthen marriage and families while governor.

In his quest for the presidency, Huckabee’s support for Operation Iraqi Freedom and his support for border security and comprehensive immigration reform mirror positions advocated by The Patriot, with the notable exception that he does not support an end to the Constitution’s misinterpreted provision regarding birthright citizenship, which has perpetuated the “anchor baby” influx.

He supports conservative family and faith initiatives, including the affirmation of life at conception and the objection to same-sex “marriage.” He would maintain the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals in the military and a prohibition on women in combat roles.

However, he opposes school choice, which won him the dubious endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire.

He supports the constructionist interpretation of First and Second Amendment rights.

Despite his record on taxes in Arkansas, Huckabee says the FairTax should replace the current tax system: “That’s the first thing I’d love to do as president, put a ‘Going Out of Business’ sign on the Internal Revenue Service and stop the $10 billion a year that it costs just for them to operate. If we had a fair tax, it would eliminate not just the alternative minimum tax, personal income tax, corporate tax, it would eliminate all the various taxes that are hidden in our system, and Americans don’t realize what they’re paying. It would be revenue neutral. It’s the best proposal that we ought to have, because it’s flatter, it’s fairer, it’s finite, it’s family-friendly.”

Perhaps the most significant reason to keep a skeptical eye on Huckabee is, as we noted with John McCain, the Leftmedia’s sycophantic accolades for these two campaigns.

Never, NEVER take advice from your enemy.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about Mike now is that McCain/Huckabee has a much nicer ring than McCain/Giuliani.

(Publisher’s Note: The Patriot’s editors have provided Presidential Candidate Ratings on our Patriot Policy Papers page. These ratings are based on comprehensive analysis of many factors, including each candidate’s record, experience, capability, character, leadership qualifications and, of course, demonstrated ability to grasp the plain language of our Constitution—and promote it accordingly.)

Quote of the week
“Ed Rollins, [Mike] Huckabee’s campaign manager, recently dismissed the Reagan coalition as ‘gone,’ saying ‘it doesn’t mean a whole lot to people anymore.’ That’s quite the claim, but perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. Huckabee has every incentive to distance himself from the GOP coalition: his nomination rests on its demise. Allowing Mike Huckabee to become the face of conservatism would trade unity and principle for an ill-advised romance with a flighty, flaky new brand of politics.” —Former House Majority Leader, Dick Armey

Open query
Q: “Compassionate conservatism started out as a program to help the poor while decreasing the size of government by increasing the role of civil society. Bush administration spending led some Republicans to call it a euphemism for big government. What’s your view of compassionate conservatism?” —Marvin Olasky to Mike Huckabee

A: “I believe each of us has an obligation to give of our treasure, time and talent to help those less fortunate. However, I don’t support trying to have big government substitute for individual and community responsibility. I don’t view compassionate conservatism as ‘big government,’ but rather as encouraging individuals and groups to do more for those less fortunate, sometimes with help from government at various levels. The most valuable thing the government can do for the poor is protect the opportunity created by our free-market economy, enacting pro-growth policies that create jobs, make certain that every child has access to a first-rate education, and adopt policies [like tax policies] that encourage marriage and the family. Much of the poverty in this country is in families headed by a single mother.” —Mike Huckabee

News from the Swamp: Stimulus signed
President George W. Bush signed the $168-billion Economic Stimulus Act on Wednesday saying it would be a “booster shot” to help the economy get through a “rough patch.” Americans will begin to see their tax-rebate checks arrive in May—$600 for individuals, $1,200 for couples and $300 for each dependent child, sent to 128 million households. Meanwhile, government spending is up eight percent this year and the deficit will skyrocket, but Congress and the President have decided to borrow $168 billion from China to get consumers to buy stuff from... China. Actually, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says he hopes consumers will “spend it on things that are domestically produced,” but all we can say is good luck with that. We in our humble shop do have a plan for that little extra cash: specifically, purchasing a number of domestically produced Bushmaster ACR and Robinson XCR “assault” rifles. That should be stimulating.

We also understand, as do most economists, that this is little more than an election-year gimmick to save politicians’ jobs. Real solutions to the economy lie in reducing the tax burden, not in income redistribution. It’s high time Congress made the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent. That assurance alone would truly stimulate the economy.

On the Hill: Surveillance Act
For anyone wondering how a McCain administration would be different from a Hillary or Obama administration, the Senate offered a sneak preview this week. In a 68-29 vote, the Senate reauthorized the surveillance law that allows American intelligence agencies to monitor the communications between suspected terrorists overseas and their contacts in the United States. The bill also includes a provision for retroactive immunity for telephone companies that have cooperated with the government’s wiretapping program and have been sued as a result. Approximately 40 such lawsuits have been filed, prompting President Bush to insist that an immunity provision be made into law if these companies are expected to continue assisting the intelligence community in the War on Terror. The Senate Intelligence Committee agreed, saying that the telcos had “acted in good faith.” Seventeen Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, including the chairman of the intelligence committee, Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-WV).

Another senator who voted in favor of the bill was Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who continues to demonstrate a solid understanding of national-security issues. The Democrat presidential candidates were not so astute: Sen. Barack Hussein Obama voted against reauthorizing the terrorist-surveillance program, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was too busy campaigning to vote at all.

House Democrats still oppose granting immunity. The House voted Wednesday to reject a 21-day extension of the law, which would have given them more time to iron out differences. President Bush has said he will not sign another extension and accused House Democrats of risking national security. The law expires tonight if nothing is done.

In the House: Earmark reform
Aiming to “change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars,” House Republicans have set up as a way to inform taxpayers regarding earmarks. Republican Leader John Boehner (OH) said the site will contain news releases, opinion editorials and other information that “will shine a spotlight on [Democrats’] broken promises and empty rhetoric on earmarks.” Meanwhile, Reps. Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced legislation that would stop the earmark process entirely until a panel is established to reform the practice permanently. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to support the legislation, despite her incessant promises for fiscal discipline in Congress. However, several House Republicans, along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), have pledged that they will not request earmarks in appropriations bills this year.

In other House news, conservative stalwart John Shadegg (R-AZ) has announced that he will not seek re-election this year—the 29th Republican to decide so. Shadegg had run for minority leader and has been a fiscal hawk since his election with the Republican Revolution of 1994. There is speculation that he may run for a certain open Arizona Senate seat or possibly for governor, but he has not confirmed either.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) died this week of esophageal cancer at age 80. Lantos was the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress and was an influential member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. A special election will be held on 3 June to fill the seat.

New & notable legislation
The Senate passed a bill Wednesday to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics to extract critical information from terrorists. The CIA has waterboarded three terrorists for a total of less than five minutes since 2001. The military was similarly banned from using waterboarding in 2006, but President Bush has promised to veto this bill.

Rep. Christopher Shays (RINO-CT) announced a proposal to provide universal healthcare that is modeled after the plan offered to federal employees. This latest incarnation of socialized medicine would call for the federal government to negotiate benefit packages with private insurers that would be less expensive but provide more comprehensive coverage. Premiums under the current federal plan rise less than in the private market, but the public plan proposed by Shays would call for the government to pay up to 75 percent of the enrollee’s total premium. In reality, the money saved through lower insurance premiums would be paid for with higher taxes.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) introduced the National Crime Gun Identification Act in both the Senate and House this week. CNS News reports that the bill “would require all semiautomatic pistols to have ‘microstamped identifiers’ —tiny internal markings that transfer themselves onto bullet cartridges fired from a gun.” The markings would supposedly make crime solving easier, though the NRA points out that criminals usually steal guns for their criminal endeavors rather than buy them, making this bill unnecessary and costly gun control. It is similar to a bill recently passed in California. One manufacturer has already stopped sales to California as a result.

On Thursday, House Democrats took up H. Res. 979 and 980 to find in contempt of Congress former White House lawyer Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten for assertions of executive privilege against House Judiciary Committee subpoenas. The Grand Inquisitors want to pillory the pair with queries about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. In response to the topsy-turvy Democrat priorities for floor action, Republicans walked out of the chamber. The final vote was 232-32 in favor of contempt, and the matter now goes to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.


Campaign watch: GOP primaries
John McCain continues his steady climb toward the 1,191 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination, but his main competitor, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, is not making it easy for him. McCain’s only victory in last weekend’s contests was Washington, leaving Huckabee with a narrow win in Louisiana and a resounding victory in Kansas. McCain bounced back this week, winning the so-called Potomac Primary (Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia) by respectable margins. We note that McCain opted out of public funding for his campaign this week, which will vastly increase his fundraising potential while also opening up the co-author of our current campaign-finance “reform” laws to some well-deserved criticism. After all, isn’t private money the root of all political evil? Indeed, McCain is still having trouble gaining the confidence of conservatives, though Mitt Romney endorsed him Thursday and requested that his delegates get behind the likely nominee.
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« Reply #55 on: February 15, 2008, 01:57:44 PM »

Part Two

Meanwhile, Ron Paul has vowed to continue his campaign, though it will be significantly scaled back and meant more to influence the debate than to win the nomination. Consideration for his House seat is a large factor in the pullback, given that he faces a primary battle on 4 March. “If I were to lose the primary for my congressional seat,” Paul said, “all our opponents would react with glee and pretend it was a rejection of our ideas. I cannot and will not let that happen.” Paul’s incredibly loyal supporters continue to rally around his message of “limited government, non-interventionism, respect for individual rights and strict adherence to the Constitution,” but Paul has repeatedly promised not to run as a third-party candidate.

From the Left: Democrat primaries
Barack Obama remains undefeated since Super Tuesday, racking up smashing victories in recent days in Washington, Nebraska, Louisiana, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. “At this moment, the cynics can no longer say that our hope is false,” Obama told supporters after Tuesday’s Potomac Primary. “We have now won East and West, North and South, across the heartland.” Obama has edged ahead of Hillary Clinton in the delegate count, and Clinton’s campaign made some leadership changes as a result of her inability to gain traction. Her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, and deputy campaign manager, Mike Henry, got the boot after Tuesday’s losses. Doyle, who served as Hillary’s scheduler in the White House, had brought Henry onto the campaign.

Maggie Williams, yet another crony from the old days, is now running the campaign. Williams fits the classic Clinton mold of ethically challenged individuals, having served as Hillary’s chief of staff in the White House. Williams is the person who accepted the $50,000 check from Johnny Chung, the crooked Chinese fundraiser who wanted a photo-op with President Bill in 1996. Williams was also seen removing documents from Vince Foster’s office the night after the mysterious death of the White House counsel.

Clinton has pinned her campaign’s future on the Texas and Ohio primaries on 4 March. Never count a Clinton out of the game, as there is always one more trick in the bag. For instance, Hillary is still ahead of Obama in the competition for so-called super delegates. Super delegates are a creation of the Democratic National Committee that allows elected officials to have input into the nomination process. Democrat super delegates include Bill Clinton and such Clintonistas as Terry McAuliffe and Harold Ickes. The contest for super delegates is basically a Washington schmooze fest in which surrogates for Clinton and Obama will crisscross the country and burn up the phone lines in an attempt to sway votes in favor of their candidate.

Another issue that threatens to boil over is the question about what to do with the delegates from Florida and Michigan. The DNC ruled that these delegates could not be seated at the convention because the two states violated party rules by moving their primaries too close to New Hampshire’s on the calendar. Obama and John Edwards obeyed the DNC mandate and did not campaign in either state, but Clinton, consistently unburdened by rules made by others, campaigned vigorously in both states and unsurprisingly walked away with a lion’s share of the delegates. Now that it looks as if she will need virtually every delegate she can muster, Clinton has begun a push to get the DNC to reverse its earlier decision.

This week’s ‘Braying Jenny’ award
“I think that both in Michigan and in Florida, the Democratic [sic] Party should really give these people who came out and voted—they weren’t involved in the rulemaking—give them a chance.” —Hillary Clinton

Che Obama and the Cuban flag
Barack Obama has some ‘splainin’ to do. Fox News cameras captured a disturbing image in a campaign office in Houston: that of a Cuban flag with Communist mass murderer Che Guevara’s face printed on it. Naturally, Obama’s “explanation” was that the volunteer office is independently run, so he has no control over what goes on there. And that’s supposed to make voters want him elected president? Che Guevara may be fashionable among the nation’s leftist college students, but we remind readers that it was Guevara who was “supreme prosecutor” during the show trials after Fidel Castro seized power, overseeing the execution of countless people. Cuba is also still under a U.S. embargo and, last time we checked, is still a Communist dictatorship. Seems the Obama campaign is trying to communicate an idea, even if the candidate himself appears bereft of them.

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Warfront with Jihadistan: Justice served
“You can run, but you can’t hide.” So said President Ronald Reagan to terrorists nearly 20 years ago. This week, one jihadi who had been running was finally found, and let’s just say he won’t be in the terror business anymore. Senior Hizballah planner and operative Imad Mugniyah, wanted for more than 25 years, was killed Tuesday in Damascus by a car bomb, a fitting end for the man who pioneered vehicle bombings as an act of terror. Mugniyah was behind some of the most significant acts of terrorist violence ever perpetrated against Americans, including the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, and the 1985 murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem during an airline hijacking. However, he had virtually disappeared since the early 1990s. Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah spokesmen immediately blamed Israel and the United States for the car bomb, a charge Israel promptly denied. The authors of this bombing will likely never be known, but the end result is the same: justice served at long last to a terrorist with the blood of hundreds on his hands.

Turning to the ongoing terrorist threat, two documents recently recovered by U.S. forces in Iraq offer insight into the current state of mind of al-Qa’ida in Iraq: gloom and doom. Citing the sweeping changes that have taken place since the U.S. troop surge began, one captured document’s author laments, “[T]he Islamic State of Iraq is faced with an extraordinary crisis, especially in al-Anbar.” Patriot readers will no doubt remember that just 18 months ago the Marines’ top intelligence officer judged that “there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation [in Anbar].” While these documents represent the views of only two individuals, the enemy’s own words are the clearest possible indication of what effect the surge and the Sunni Awakening have had in Iraq, no matter how many times Harry Reid (D-nial) and Nancy Pelosi (D-featist) tell us it isn’t so.

This week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ award
“The gains [in Iraq] have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure! The troops have succeeded. God bless them. We owe them the greatest debt of gratitude, the sacrifice, their patriotism, and for their courage, and to their families as well. This is a disaster, and we cannot perpetuate it.” —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, uh, supports the troops, God bless them!

Pentagon seeks death for 9/11 suspects
Finally, justice for 9/11 may be served. On Monday, the Pentagon formally charged six jihadi suspects held at Guantanamo Bay with murder and war crimes related to the September 11th attacks, with Pentagon officials saying they will seek the death penalty should the suspects be convicted. Among the six is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, legal adviser to the U.S. military-tribunal system, said of the 169 charges to be brought against the suspects, “These charges allege a long-term, highly sophisticated, organized plan by al-Qa’ida to attack the United States of America.” The other five jihadis include Mohammed al-Qahtani, the alleged 20th hijacker; Ramzi Binalshibh, liaison between the hijackers and al-Qa’ida; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali (a.k.a. Ammar al-Baluchi), a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and lieutenant for operations; Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, one of al-Baluchi’s assistants; and Waleed bin Attash, who selected and trained some of the 9/11 hijackers. Needless to say, they are as fine a group as any to kick off the first capital trial under the military’s tribunal system.

Of course, the usual cadre of leftists, pacifists and dimwits (but we repeat ourselves) started howling that the indicted jihadis had been tortured and denied due process. We are not entirely clear on how making the Pentagon jump though years of legal hoops and modify its tribunal rules is not due process. As for torture, waterboarding may or may not be torture, but that has no bearing on the jihadis’ involvement in 9/11. We may soon see the Jihadi 6 sent to meet their 72 virgins.

Leftists ‘support’ the Marines
Last week, we reported that the city of Berkeley, California, had resolved that the United States Marine Corps was not welcome to continue recruiting there. If they continued, it would be as “uninvited and unwelcome intruders.” It seems that news raised the ire of many a patriotic American, forcing the city council to reconsider—now they will not send their hateful letter to the USMC. Not only that, but they issued a statement saying they “deeply respect and support” the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Something makes us doubt their sincerity. Maybe it’s the fact that the angry anti-war group Code Pink still has a special parking space reserved outside the recruiting office.

In Congress, Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) responded by introducing the Semper Fi Act, which would strip Berkeley of all federal earmarks for fiscal year 2008, instead giving the money to the United States Marines for recruiting.

Apparently, the mayor of Toledo, Ohio, hadn’t seen this news as he ordered 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines to turn around and leave rather than engage in urban-patrol exercises in the downtown area. Despite the fact that Toledo police knew about the exercise days in advance and the Marines have held exercises there before, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner (yes, that’s his real name) “asked them to leave because they frighten people,” according to a spokesman. “I wish they would have told us this four hours ago,” Staff Sgt. Andre Davis said. Indeed, the aborted exercise—busing the Marines from Grand Rapids, Michigan—cost roughly $10,000.

Profiles of valor: USAF Tech. Sgt. Chapman
United States Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, from Fayetteville, North Carolina, was involved in a reconnaissance mission in northern Afghanistan on 4 March 2002 when the team’s twin-engine Chinook helicopter came under heavy fire. It was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crash-landed. Chapman called in air support to cover the team, which was now exposed to enemy fire. He also directed a helicopter rescue of his team and aircrew members and led the search for a Navy SEAL who had fallen from the helicopter. Chapman killed two jihadis during the search, but came upon a machine-gun nest. Though the enemy fired on the rescue team on three sides, Chapman fired back. Soon, however, multiple wounds claimed his life, though he is credited with saving the lives of the others in the rescue team. For his actions, Chapman was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, and a U.S. Navy cargo ship was named in his honor.


Immigration front: Hasta la vista
In recent days, hard evidence has shown that illegal aliens in Arizona are “self-deporting” in droves, with many thousands more planning to leave soon. Mexican officials in Arizona are being inundated with requests for documents that will let them enroll their children in Mexican schools and return to Mexico without paying taxes on their furniture and other belongings. The mass exodus is in response to a new Arizona law that makes it nearly impossible for illegals to hold a job in the state, which boasts the highest number of illegals in its workforce—a whopping 12 percent. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has gotten in on the fun, of course, establishing a hotline for citizens to report those who hire illegals. Additionally, authority has been given to local law enforcement by Customs and Border Protection for the enforcement of federal immigration law, which should prove valuable. The new law goes into effect on 1 March. Who needs amnesty when simple law enforcement will do?

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Regulatory Commissars: Health ‘mandates’
In a classic case of deception by projection, politicians blame health insurers for the rising costs of health insurance. Yet, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance has counted 1,961 legislatively required “mandates” added to these costs since the early days of the Clinton administration, only 15 years ago. These “mandates” expand insurance coverage to procedures that typically are not medically necessary, because legislators have cozied up with sellers of the products and services. Sellers profit from increased business, and users of the products and services enjoy lower out-of-pocket costs.

Like each raindrop that doesn’t believe it is responsible for the flood, legislators have continued to act as if health insurance is their personal social experiment because someone else always pays the bill and takes the blame. While the cost of most government mandates adds between one and three percent to the cost of coverage, their cumulative costs are the main force driving up premiums. These mandates include covering slacker “children” up to age 30, as well as wigs, massages and obesity treatments.

Eventually, costs may be forced high enough to grant liberals their dream of socialized medicine. Americans would do well, however, to remember President Reagan’s cutting of the regulatory burdens, thereby giving industries the breathing room to become more competitive and affordable once again.
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« Reply #56 on: February 15, 2008, 01:58:46 PM »

Part Three


Biofuels wreck the environment
To the surprise of absolutely no one who greets climate change alarmism with even a hint of skepticism, two new scientific studies have concluded that biofuels do more harm than good. Both studies were published in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

According to the first study, which was conducted by ecologists from Princeton and the Woods Hole Research Center, biofuel advocates have made massive accounting errors by ignoring renewable energy’s “hidden costs.” For example, there is 2.7 times more carbon stored in plant material than the atmosphere, and massive amounts of this plant material would have to be burned off to make room to grow biofuel crops. Moreover, plant material serves as a sort of “carbon sink,” absorbing large amounts of CO2. By removing trees to make room for biofuel crops, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will only increase. The study ultimately concludes that when one considers production costs, the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions from ethanol over a period of 30 years will be twice as high as from gasoline, and that it will take 167 years for ethanol to “pay back” the carbon released by making land suitable for biofuel crops.

The second study was conducted by the University of Minnesota and the Nature Conservancy, which decided to take an even closer look at the issue of “carbon debt.” The conclusion? It would take between 48 and 93 years for the United States to bring corn ethanol to parity with gasoline as a net emitter of carbon. In Malaysia and Indonesia, where palm oil is created for European biodiesel, deforestation exceeds 1.5 percent annually, resulting in a carbon debt of 423 years.

Of course this news comes as Congress has just passed an energy bill providing huge federal subsidies and tax credits for corn ethanol research and development. One would think that if the politicians in Washington really cared about safe, cost-efficient, environmentally friendly energy, they would take another look at nuclear power. There’s nothing to be afraid of—just ask the French.

Exxon Mobil takes on thug dictator
What happens when the world’s largest publicly traded oil company takes on one of the world’s most notorious dictators? Exxon Mobil decided to find out. After Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez seized Exxon’s stake in two ventures in the country, including one 42.5-percent stake worth at least $4 billion, Exxon took Chavez to international court, targeting the assets of the country’s state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA, in U.S., British and Dutch courts. Last week, a British court sided with Exxon, issuing an injunction to freeze $12 billion in assets. A U.S. court also backed the company, freezing $315 million in Venezuelan cash.

In response, Chavez and his political puppets screamed “judicial terrorism” and stopped oil sales to Exxon. Despite Chavez’s intimidation attempts, however, experts say his actions will have little real impact on oil production. While Venezuela supplies approximately 11 percent of U.S. oil, the South American dictatorship is far more dependent on oil revenue than the U.S. is on Venezuelan oil. Exxon will easily be able to buy oil from other sources. Venezuela, however, has nowhere else to go for U.S. money. So, who’s holding the trump card now, Hugo?

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All Heller breaking loose
Vice President Dick Cheney broke with his own administration last week when he signed onto a Supreme Court brief filed by a majority of Congress instead of the brief filed by President Bush’s own solicitor general. The Amicus Curiae brief filed by Congress asks the Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court ruling that affirmed the Second Amendment as an individual right and declared the District of Columbia’s handgun ban to be unconstitutional. Vice President Cheney signed the brief as “President of the United States Senate, Richard B. Cheney,” a rarely used title that denotes the vice president’s dual role as member of both the executive and legislative branches. Legal experts believe this may be the first time in history that a vice president has gone against his own administration in an Amicus Curiae brief. It seems that Vice President Cheney sensed—as we did—that the brief filed by the Bush administration was gutless and indecisive. According to Cheney’s press secretary, Megan Mitchell, “The Vice President believes strongly in the Second Amendment.” Apparently, so do 55 senators and 250 House members, a number that NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre says should send “a historical message to the court.” We can only hope.

As the Supreme Court considers the constitutional right to bear arms in DC, those on college campuses are also still denied the right. And once again, a murderous psychopath ignored the “gun-free zone” and killed six people Thursday—this time at Northern Illinois University. Unarmed students and professors were helpless until police arrived, by which time the shooter had determined that he was done and killed himself.


Frontiers of Junk Science: Maunder Minimum
Not all scientists are on board with Al Gore’s global warming mythology and accompanying hysteria. In fact, many scientists are currently seeking funding to research the possibility that we may be on the verge of a new ice age. The Danish Meteorological Institute released a study in 1991 showing that global temperatures follow solar cycles. Canadian scientists are planning to analyze the impact of the sun on the earth’s climate and the possibility that another ice age is imminent. Solar activity occurs in cycles of 11 years, and thus far, in the current cycle, the sun has been unusually quiet. The sun’s inactivity could indicate the beginning of what is known as the Maunder Minimum. This event occurs every few hundred years and lasts possibly as long as a century. The last Maunder Minimum occurred in 1650 and was marked by 50 years of terribly freezing winters and cool summers. These findings prove once again what should be blatantly obvious: that Al Gore’s man-made global-warming circus is not scientific, but rather is a scare tactic used for the promotion of class warfare and the redistribution of wealth. Liberals hope that, in addition to piling up political capital with global warming, they can also guilt-trip Americans into surrendering their quality of life.

Faith and Family: UK Sharia
Proposing an arrangement that would leave Britons with a multiple-choice legal system, Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the global Anglican Church, caused an uproar last week by stating that adopting portions of Sharia law in the UK is “unavoidable.” While he has since said, “Some of what has been heard is a very long way indeed from what was actually said,” Dr. Williams has yet to negate the sentiment of his statement—that Islamic law should be welcomed and that the country should consider a “constructive relationship between Islamic law and the statutory law of the United Kingdom.”

Interestingly, according to Shaista Gohir, director of Muslim Voice UK, “[T]he majority of Muslims do not want it [Sharia law].” Gohir stated that formally adopting Sharia law would be “impossible because Muslims wouldn’t agree on one interpretation, and women would face discrimination from male-dominated councils.” Yet, Dr. Williams wants the UK to “face up to the fact” that not all citizens relate to the British legal system.

A better idea would be for Dr. Williams to “face up to the fact” that law does not depend on “relatability,” and, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s office stated, “British laws should be based on British values.”

Speaking of Islam, Danish police foiled a plot to murder one of the cartoonists that drew some rather humorous cartoons of Mohammed two years ago. Two Tunisians and a Dane of Moroccan descent were arrested and will likely be expelled from Denmark. Denmark’s leading newspapers republished the cartoons.

And last...
When it comes to gun control and its advocates, examples of hypocrisy abound. There is Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign, who once purchased a Remington.30-06 rifle for her son as a Christmas present. There are entertainers like Rosie O’Donnell and Oprah Winfrey, who speak out about the evils of gun ownership under the protection of their armed guards. There is anti-gun Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), who holds one of the only concealed weapon permits in San Francisco. There is New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who confiscated guns after Hurricane Katrina but thinks a photo op with an “assault rifle” is funny. And then there is Josh Sugarmann, gun-control activist and... gun dealer?

Sugarmann is the founder and executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a Washington lobby dedicated to banning handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Among other things, Sugarmann is notorious for coining the misleading term “assault weapon” and writing inane rants for the Huffington Post, but he also seems to have a side business, or at least a permit for one. According to the website of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal firearms license (FFL) is registered to one Joshua Alan Sugarmann at the same Washington, DC, address as the headquarters of the Violence Policy Center. The federal government requires that all gun dealers obtain an FFL before buying, selling and manufacturing firearms.

We’re not quite sure what to make of this, except that maybe Josh Sugarmann foresees a booming gun business in the District of Columbia if the Supreme Court affirms the individual right interpretation of the Second Amendment later this year in District of Columbia v. Heller. Or maybe he’s merely Sen. Feinstein’s private gun dealer. Whatever the case, it can’t be easy selling guns in a dry county.

Veritas vos Liberabit—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for The Patriot’s editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)

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« Reply #57 on: February 16, 2008, 02:47:44 PM »

Reagan is dead.  So is the past.  Now a vision for the future:
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« Reply #58 on: February 16, 2008, 10:42:41 PM »

Now this "superdelegate" wants to change the rules in midgame.   Why is the press not pointing out that this guy (who has worked for the Clintons since 1992 and who helped HC get the NY State Senate seat) is now poised to be one of those who votes as a superdelegate.  Is this not corrupt or what?
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« Reply #59 on: February 19, 2008, 06:22:32 AM »

Pundits who think the Clinton people wouldn't dare go after superdelegates and (now it is revealed) even pledged delegates (who we now learn are not really pledged) better think again.  If necessary the Clintons *will* steal the election and then con every fool who ever followed them into believing it was really the right thing to do for the party and the country:
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« Reply #60 on: February 19, 2008, 07:12:37 AM »

This is how I see it too.  I think Charles is right on this.   His point about short memories is what the Clintons are counting on.  Finagle the nomination.   Blacks and other Obama fans will fall right back into line when faced with the prospect of  choosing Hillary or McCain. Then he and she will soothe anger by praising Obama and promise he has a great *future* and his time will come but now we need someone with more experience and of course they are what we *all* need:
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« Reply #61 on: February 19, 2008, 11:16:12 AM »

Oh god, please let the Clintons steal the nomination!!!! How great would that be? Democrat civil war!
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« Reply #62 on: February 20, 2008, 11:36:58 AM »

Exit polls in Wisconsin paint a grim picture for Hillary Clinton. Some 53% of Democratic voters thought she engaged in unfair negative campaigning, and fully 35% said they would be unhappy if she were the Democratic nominee. Such findings will certainly have an impact on the superdelegates who are likely to ultimately to decide the Democratic nomination and who believe electability is Job One for any nominee.

Almost as disturbing for Mrs. Clinton was her collapse among key demographic groups that supported her in earlier primaries. She only tied Mr. Obama among white women in Wisconsin, while losing white men 59% to 38%. She lost voters without college degrees and lost every age group except senior citizens. Mr. Obama won a staggering 71% of voters under the age of 30, a group that turned out in record numbers for a primary.

Apply that template to the upcoming March 4 contests in Ohio and Texas: Mrs. Clinton looks likely to lose both of those states, which would severely diminish her chances of swaying superdelegates into her corner with an argument that she can win the crucial big states in the fall.

Even if Mrs. Clinton recovers and does well from here on out, she would have to win 65% of the remaining delegates in order to regain the lead from Barack Obama. That near-impossibility effectively means that any superdelegates who ultimately support her would have to do so in full knowledge that they are voting for the candidate who was not the first choice of Democratic voters.

-- John Fund

Obama's Advantage: Flex-Time Workers

Ever since her drubbing in the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton has complained that fixed-time, low-turnout caucus events give advantages to her opponent while she does better in primaries where more voters have a say. "You have a limited period of time on one day to have your voices heard," she has told reporters. "That is troubling to me.... People who work during that time -- they're disenfranchised."

Well, some evidence has surfaced that she may have a point. Ten days ago, Washington State Democrats selected all 78 of their delegates proportionately through a caucus system. Mr. Obama won a crushing 68% majority.

Then yesterday, Democrats trouped to the polls again and voted in a beauty contest presidential primary that won't allocate a single delegate. Still, many more voters participated and this time Mr. Obama won again, but despite his incredible momentum and favorable publicity since Super Tuesday, he won only 50% of the vote.

But while Mrs. Clinton can take home a talking point from last night's Washington state results, that doesn't explain her crushing defeat in Wisconsin, a state that held an open primary and from which she withdrew ad money after her internal polls showed her falling victim to Obamamania. Bottom line: Obamamania increasingly knows few boundaries no matter whether Democrats vote in a caucus or a primary.

-- John Fund

Not Yet Gone, Certainly Not Forgotten

Last week Arizona Representative John Shadegg's announcement that he would retire from the House caused a collective groan from the conservative movement. Mr. Shadegg, who was elected as part of the 1994 Contract with America class, said he was "burned out," and no longer felt he could be an effective voice for free markets and entitlement reform.

But -- put away those hankies. Mr. Shadegg may be staying after all.

After his stunning announcement, conservative leaders banded together and decided they had to persuade him to stick around. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana worked the inside game, telling his colleague, "We can't win without you. You're vital to the conservative movement." Mr. Pence and a handful of others, including Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Michigan's Peter Hoekstra, drafted a letter on behalf of their House colleagues asking Mr. Shadegg to stay. "Within 3 hours, we had some 140 signatures," Mr. Pence tells me. "People were coming up to me asking, 'How do I get on the letter?'"

More than two dozen Republicans are retiring this year, but only one has been implored by colleagues to stay with words like these from the Pence letter: "We fear that without you and the long-term perspective you bring to every debate, our battles will be difficult to win. This is especially true in the area of health care where you are one of the leading experts.... The Republican Conference needs you here, the Conservative Movement needs you here, and the country needs you here."

Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner and other leading outside conservatives have circulated a similar letter. In a phone conversation last weekend, Mr. Shadegg told me he's "truly moved" by the expressions of support and will reconsider. Mr. Pence put it best when he quoted Abraham Lincoln, who said of General Grant: "I cannot spare the man, he fights."

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

"If you examine [Barack Obama's] agenda, it is completely ordinary, highly partisan, not candid and mostly unresponsive to many pressing national problems.... The contrast between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the press corps -- preoccupied with the political 'horse race' -- has treated his invocation of 'change' as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation's major problems when, so far, he isn't" -- Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson.

Exculpating the Machines

In her campaign to unseat Florida Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, Democrat Christine Jennings suffered a harsh blow last week from an unlikely source -- the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

Ms. Jennings claims she actually won the seat two years ago in a closely fought election. But Mr. Buchanan was declared the winner by 369 votes and Ms. Jennings was left to argue foul play. Picking up on the controversy, and looking to pad their new majority in the House, some Democrats in Congress even wanted to block Mr. Buchanan from taking his seat.

It didn't help that Mr. Buchanan had won a seat that was being vacated by Republican Katherine Harris, a bête noire to Democrats because of her role in Florida's 2000 presidential election controversy. It also didn't help that the voters used new electronic voting machines that did not leave a paper trail and that 18,000 voters in Sarasota County who cast votes in other races somehow failed to record a vote in the Congressional race. These "undervotes," amounting to 12% of the ballots cast in the county, fueled accusations that this was yet another "stolen" election in Florida.

But now the GAO, after an exhaustive study under the direction of a bipartisan House Committee, concludes that there was no foul play. GAO investigators closely inspected the machines used in the election, comparing their software to copies put in escrow before the election -- and the software matched up. The GAO also ran hundreds of tests to simulate what voters would have seen inside the voting booth. Finally, the GAO deliberately miscalibrated some of the machines to see if they could be fooled into missing votes. They couldn't.

What about the mystery of the "undervotes," which were three times higher in Sarasota than in other counties? They remain a mystery, but the GAO concluded that no machine error was involved, and that a confusing ballot design probably deterred some voters from voting in the House race.

-- Brendan Miniter

PD of the WSJ
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« Reply #63 on: February 22, 2008, 11:14:48 AM »

The Spirit of Mary Mapes Lives On

Expect the John McCain campaign to attack the "liberal media" as part of its strategy to overcome the innuendo-rich New York Times story alleging that the Arizona Senator had questionable ties with a telecom lobbyist.

The Times has had the story since last December when the Drudge Report published a bare-bones outline of the paper's investigation. After top-flight Washington lawyer Robert Bennett was wheeled in by Team McCain and the Senator hotly denied the report's thesis to New York Times Editor Bill Keller, the story disappeared. So why has it returned now just as Mr. McCain has wrapped up the GOP nomination?

The New Republic confirms that it was set to run a major story by reporter Gabe Sherman on how the lobbyist story was handled by the Times newsroom. McCain aide Charlie Black says it looks as if the paper decided it would rather hobble the thinly-sourced story out now rather than be subjected to criticism from media peers for "covering" it up.

Even so, you can expect some of that criticism to persist. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber writes on the magazine's blog: "The [New York Times] story reads to me like it had originally been much more ambitious, but had its guts ripped out somewhere along the way. The obvious question is whether those guts will ever trickle out now that this story has surfaced."

You can expect a lot of reporters to begin their own digging into the relationship between Mr. McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Assuming no major revelations emerge, the McCain campaign should be able to weather the controversy given the hostility the Republican base feels towards the New York Times. I just wouldn't count on a lot of warmth in relations between the Times and the McCain forces in the months ahead. Indeed, the McCain campaign is promising to "go to war" with the Times in its efforts to knock down the story.

-- John Fund


Has Mike Huckabee been delaying his pull-out from the presidential race in order to see if something untoward happens to John McCain, such as today's New York Times story linking the Arizona senator to a female lobbyist?

At a recent breakfast with Washington reporters, Mr. Huckabee admitted that, absent a "stumble," his rival would get the GOP nomination. Perhaps the New York Times story was the "stumble" Mr. Huckabee was waiting for. If so, unless more damning revelations are on their way, the vague innuendo of the Times piece seems insufficient to improve the former Arkansas governor's chances.

But the Times story is likely to embolden Mr. Huckabee to stay in the race at least through Texas. Exit polls in Wisconsin this week found that 42% of GOP voters didn't think Mr. McCain's positions were "conservative enough." If that's the case in Wisconsin, what about deeply-red Texas? Huckabee aides believe their candidate still has an outside chance of upsetting Mr. McCain, so it looks as if Mike Huckabee will be bedeviling the frontrunner at least until Texas votes on March 4.

-- John Fund

Campaign Finance Fallout

For a textbook case on the problems with campaign finance regulation, look no further than this morning's New York Times. The Grey Lady suggests Republican Presidential frontrunner John McCain had an improper relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, although the story doesn't offer much in the way of evidence. For good measure, the paper also dredges up Mr. McCain's role in the decades-old Keating Five scandal to tarnish his more recent squeaky-clean reputation as a scourge of "special interests" and cleanser of money from politics.

Here's the irony: Lobbyists and other moneyed interests have been pouring enough cash into Mr. McCain's campaign that he can effectively answer the attacks. Given the strict fund-raising law that he coauthored, that might not have been possible had the Times story landed last summer when his campaign was out of favor with large numbers of donors.

Mr. McCain raised $11.7 million in January, largely from individual contributors -- money that he can spend on TV spots, radio ads and direct mailings and to pay campaign professionals to work the press and counter the Times allegations. Having money to spend is tantamount to having a chance to be heard amidst the booming media echo chamber. Notice that though the Times itself mentions Mr. McCain's denial of romantic involvement with Ms. Iseman in the fourth paragraph, it doesn't bother to quote a response from Team McCain until the 49th paragraph.

Mr. McCain is lucky he's the front-runner and has a wide funding-raising base. Under the onerous restrictions of McCain-Feingold, which would have prohibited him from raising large sums quickly from a handful of dedicated supporters, another candidate would have a hard time being heard over the media din. Indeed, if the Times had held back its story until Nov. 1, 2008, even a well-financed frontrunner would have been limited in his ability to respond -- because the law tightly restricts advertising just before an election.

-- Joseph Sternberg


Calling Sen. Barack Obama's 10 victories since February 5 a "winning streak" severely understates what has taken place since Super Duper Tuesday.

Mr. Obama has not only defeated Sen. Hillary Clinton; he has crushed her. Not including the Virgin Islands, for which exact results are not yet available, Obama has won eight states and Washington, D.C., by an average of 32 percentage points.

Mr. Obama's 17-point win Tuesday in Wisconsin was his smallest margin of victory among the nine elections. He carried Hawaii and the District of Columbia by more than 50 points, and Virginia by a surprisingly large 29 points. He won Nebraska by 36 points and Washington State by 37 points, carrying every one of Washington's 39 counties. This monumental stomping over the past two weeks has given Mr. Obama a lead of about 160 pledged delegates, according to the latest RealClearPolitics count.

Conventional wisdom -- and polls -- suggest this run of lopsided victories will not continue through the March 4 primaries in Texas and Ohio, where Mrs. Clinton's support among Latinos and labor unions, respectively, presumably allows her a strong shot at winning both states. However, Mrs. Clinton's lead has begun to slip in recent days, with Mr. Obama pulling even in the two most recent Texas polls. Get ready to throw conventional wisdom out the window one more time this year: The gravitational force of Obamamania might pull even Texas and Ohio out of Hillary's orbit in the next two weeks.

-- Kyle Trygstad,

Oh Brother

Fidel Castro always has been notorious for giving his little brother Raúl the dirty work. Some things never change.

With Fidel's announcement that he will not accept the role of "president" for another term when the national assembly meets on Sunday, Raúl inherits the power just as things appear to be coming unglued. One such warning came from a group of university students several weeks ago.

Attending university in Cuba has always implied a willingness to support, or at least passively accept, the Castro dictatorship. Fail to conform and there is no chance of higher education. That's why students and student leaders have typically tended to be patsies for the regime. Yet when Ricardo Alarcón, speaker of the Cuban national assembly and a Fidel loyalist, went to the Computer Sciences University in January, he was met by a group of students who publicly challenged government policies. In comments that were captured on video tape, they criticized the Cuban electoral system, the pricing of many consumer goods in scarce U.S. dollars, restrictions on travel abroad, lack of Internet access and the prohibition against Cubans staying at resort hotels in their own country.

Shockwaves reverberated throughout the island. Not long after, the mother of one of the students reported that her son had been detained by state security. He later appeared on national television to deny that he had come under any pressure from the regime. He added that any critical comments made by the students were merely suggestions for "improving socialism."

The Cuban people, of course, know better, but more and more are willing to speak such heresies, which is perhaps something Fidel took into account when he decided to step down. It's too early to call it a burgeoning free-speech movement, but sooner than he thinks, Raúl may face an unappetizing choice: Ratchet up repression to preserve the now-questioned Castro dictatorship or tolerate more open dissent in hope of some kind of honeymoon with the U.S. and other Western nations.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady

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« Reply #64 on: March 03, 2008, 02:22:39 PM »

February 29, 2008

In Today's Political Diary:

Can Hillary Sue Her Way to the Nomination?
Global Drop Out
Insult to McCain, Injury to Clinton (Quote of the Day I)
Will on Bill (Quote of the Day II)
John McCain and the Other Irish Miracle
Here Come the Lawyers

The Clinton campaign has a few surprises left. Yesterday, Texas Democratic Party officials warned that Team Clinton was threatening to sue to overturn the state's Byzantine system of selecting delegates in next Tuesday's primary. "Such action could prove to be a tragedy for a reinvigorated Democratic process," wrote Chad Dunn, a lawyer for the Texas Democratic Party.

Texas has 228 delegates at stake next Tuesday, but only 126 of them will be determined by voters going to the polls. Another 67 will be allocated based on the number of people who show up at low-turnout "caucuses" that begin at 8 p.m., after the regular polls close. The remaining 35 are "superdelegate" slots reserved for party officials.

Mr. Obama has used the caucus system -- which puts a premium on voter enthusiasm and campaign organization -- to his advantage in many states, prompting complaints from the Clinton camp. Sources told McClatchy News that Mrs. Clinton 's political director, Guy Cecil, had made it clear on a telephone call with Texas officials that she might go to court to stop the caucuses. What actually appears to be going on is a high-stakes game of chicken, in which the Clinton forces are seeking to stir up controversy and any kind of last-minute adjustment in the caucus rules that might give her a leg up. It's late in the day for rule changes, but that didn't stop Clinton allies from filing a lawsuit against the Nevada caucus organizers back in January. Her effort failed, but Mrs. Clinton was able to stir up sufficient voter interest to eke out a narrow victory over Mr. Obama.

-- John Fund

Obama vs. the World

Is Barack Obama climbing out so far on his campaign's left wing as to court a potential political crash as his party's nominee?

Mr. Obama used to make soothing, moderate noises on the economy, well aware that projecting an image as a wild-eyed populist could hurt him with independent voters in the fall. But in the heat of the Texas and Ohio primaries, he has thrown restraint aside and joined Hillary Clinton in a jihad against globalization.

Most infamously, Mr. Obama paired his endorsement by the anti-trade Teamsters Union with a pledge to block "open trucking" with Mexico, by which cargo vehicles can easily cross the border without transferring their shipments to U.S. trucks.

As for NAFTA, which has proven a boon to many border areas of Texas, Mr. Obama now claims that the agreement with Mexico cost "millions of jobs" and says he wants to renegotiate the treaty. On the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas, Mr. Obama has come up with a Rube Goldberg plan to levy lower corporate taxes on firms that become "patriot employers" and keep jobs in the U.S. "What he is effectively saying is that companies that offshore jobs are unpatriotic," economist Gary Hufbauer told the Financial Times. "This is serious language."

It may also be serious politics. John McCain advisers believe that Mr. Obama's "stop the world" rhetoric combined with his designation as the most liberal senator by the National Journal magazine give them an angle to appeal to business owners and workers in export industries. "The only Democrat to win the White House in the last generation was Bill Clinton, who was moderate on trade," says one McCain adviser. "If Obama wants to try trade extremism instead as a campaign tactic, that's a battlefield we will be happy to meet him on."

Advisers to Mr. McCain believe that Mr. Obama would present a juicy target as nominee. "We see him as a classic liberal whose proposals come straight out of the 1970s," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior McCain adviser. "It is hard to understand his stance on trade. Access to the U.S. market is a vital element of our foreign policy."

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"The irony of the [New York Times story about John McCain's alleged relationship with a female lobbyist] is that if it hurt anyone, it was [Hillary] Clinton. If she still had a chance of catching up with Obama, it was dependent upon her getting some traction on one of three criticisms of Obama. The first is the claim that Obama lifted lines from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's speeches (a valid argument). The second is that he was breaking his pledge to rely on federal matching funds and abide by spending limits in a general election. Finally, there was Michelle Obama's recent remarks about being proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. The Times story effectively ended any chance that these three attack lines would get any traction. Game, set and match" -- political handicapper Charlie Cook, writing in National Journal.

Quote of the Day II

"n the plodding political arguments within the flaccid liberal consensus of the post-World War II intelligentsia, conservatism's face was that of another Yale man, Robert Taft, somewhat dour, often sour, three-piece suits, wire-rim glasses. The word 'fun' did not spring to mind. The fun began when Bill [Buckley] picked up his clipboard, and conservatives' spirits, by bringing his distinctive brio and elan to political skirmishing.... Politics was not Bill's life -- he had many competing and compensating enthusiasms -- but it mattered to him, and he mattered to the course of political events" -- columnist George F. Will on the late William F. Buckley Jr.

The Irish in John McCain

The other day Paul Krugman of the New York Times once again attacked supply-side tax cutting ideas and snarled that "Reaganomics was oversold" and its successes were "shortlived." We won't fight that fight again, but it is interesting that for all their attacks against supply-side economics and all their prophesies that high tax rates don't hurt, the one thing economists and politicians on the left cannot explain is the Irish Economic Miracle.

In the 1970s and '80s Ireland had one of the highest percentage of its citizens on welfare or collecting unemployment benefits, and the country of four million people was losing population each year. An estimated one million Irish-born immigrants were living in America -- many of them illegal aliens, and many of them their country's best and brightest.

Starting in 1989, Ireland's politicians began cutting tax rates, and now its corporate tax rate is 12.5% -- by far the lowest in Europe. The highest personal income tax rate came down to 41% from 58%. In the following years, Ireland's growth rate soared to 8% per year, more than twice the U.S. growth rate and nearly three times Europe's. Ireland is now the continent's third-richest nation on a per capita basis. Over the last 18 years the nation's employment has increased by an astonishing 75%.

A key element of John McCain's platform is cutting taxes on corporate profits to 25% from 35% -- bringing America's corporate tax rate closer to the average of our European and Asian competitors. In selling his plan, Mr. McCain might talk not only about what Ireland has achieved, but what it means for U.S. competitiveness. An Intel executive confided recently that his company builds most of its new plants offshore because of the high U.S. tax on corporate profits. According to Barry O'Leary, head of the Investment and Development Agency of Ireland, a U.S.-based plant would have to grow profits by 45% a year "to achieve the same [after-tax] income available in Ireland. He adds: "Our tax cutting has made Ireland the highest growth nation in Europe over the last decade. We are importing firms and workers."

Meanwhile, Senators Clinton and Obama are peddling the idea that the U.S. can tax its ways to prosperity in the competitive global economy. If one of these two wins in November, Ireland is going to get richer than ever.

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« Reply #65 on: March 04, 2008, 11:55:45 AM »

Barack Obama demonstrated he can be just as testy as the next politician when uncomfortable issues come up. During a news conference in Texas yesterday, he clearly did not welcome inquiries about his former fundraiser Tony Rezko, who goes on trial this week in Chicago on charges he extorted contributions from companies seeking state business.

NBC's Aswini Anburajan reports that Mr. Obama cut off questions from Carol Marin, a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, after she pressed him on why he had not met with individual Chicago reporters who were knowledgeable on the Rezko scandal.

Mr. Obama repeated an earlier statement that his entering into a land deal with Mr. Rezko that helped the Illinois senator buy his new Chicago home in 2005 was "boneheaded," but maintained "there have been no allegations that I betrayed the public trust."

Another reporter asked Mr. Obama why he wouldn't release information about various fundraisers that Mr. Rezko had held for Mr. Obama and why details about their relationship continue to dribble out. Mr. Obama claimed he would provide more details but added: "What happens is these requests I think can go on forever, and, at some point, we've tried to respond to what's pertinent to the question that's been raised."

A short while later, Mr. Obama was asked about a meeting one of his aides held with Canadian officials over the Nafta trade treaty. At that point, Mr. Obama apparently lost patience with reporters, answered curtly and then walked out. As reporters shouted at him to stay, he yelled back: "Come on guys; I answered like eight questions. We're running late."

I suspect Mr. Obama will end up answering a lot more than eight questions before the Rezko trial is over, as more details of his relationship to the indicted fundraiser and Chicago’s Daley machine continue to tumble out.


-- John Fund
Last Call

If Hillary Clinton gets knocked out of the race today, she will have every reason to wonder if a few more days of campaigning might have produced a different outcome. Between the media's belated interest in the Rezko matter and the revealing Team Obama scheme to send different signals on Nafta to different audiences, Mrs. Clinton might finally be getting some traction with the question, "Who is this guy, anyway?"

After Mr. Obama's chief economic advisor was exposed for apparently telling the Canadian consulate that the candidate's statements on Nafta were just for show, the Canadian consulate began bending over backwards to apologize for any impression that Mr. Obama was back-channeling around voters. "We deeply regret any inference that may have been drawn to that effect," the Canadians offered profusely.

It's certainly a political first to watch the Canadian government falling over itself to assure Americans that a U.S. presidential candidate really does have Canada's worst interests at heart. For her part, Sen. Clinton seized on the incident to say Mr. Obama was playing the old game of telling ordinary voters one thing while giving the "wink wink" to more sophisticated audiences. Unfortunately for her campaign, she came up short yesterday of embodying all the Obama doubts in a soundbite to help move the needle in the last hours before Ohio and Texas vote. Where's Bill Clinton, author of the "fairy-tale" zinger, when she needs him? Nor did she hit the ball out of the park with her comment to CBS's "60 Minutes" that Mr. Obama is not a Muslim "as far as I know."

Still, Mr. Obama's out-of-character assault on Nafta, which was clearly a calculated strategy to deal Mrs. Clinton a knockout punch in Ohio, may have backfired. Mrs. Clinton didn't play the controversy adroitly, but late polls nonetheless suggest movement in her direction. If she loses anyway, her wheeziness in crystallizing the case against her rival will be the sound of last-minute opportunity slipping through her fingers.


-- Collin Levy
Trouble in Hastertland

Republicans are nervous that they could lose a high-profile special election in Illinois today. A loss would be especially embarrassing because the district was vacated by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and should be Republican, having given President Bush 55% of the vote in 2004.

But a recent Democratic poll found physicist Bill Foster, the Democrat, with a narrow lead over GOP businessman Bill Oberweis. Republicans dismiss the poll and say their man is comfortably ahead. But national Democratic groups have seized on the apparent closeness of the contest and put out a TV commercial blasting Mr. Oberweis for saying he supported President Bush on "almost everything." The ad goes on to link the Republican to "Bush's scheme to privatize Social Security" and claims he supports "staying in Iraq" for another ten years.

Special elections often send signals about the national mood. In 1974, a series of special election losses proved to be a harbinger of the GOP rout in that fall's Watergate-dominated election. In 1994, Bill Clinton's unpopularity resulted in several Democratic defeats in special elections, which proved a good predictor of that fall's GOP takeover of Congress. A GOP defeat in the Chicago district where the last Republican House speaker won ten straight elections would be a devastating blow to conservative morale.


-- John Fund
The Party of Obama

Voters in Ohio and Texas could put an end to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign today. If they do, more than a few Democrats will breath a sigh of relief. At its core, Mr. Obama's candidacy forced a set of uncomfortable questions on Democrats: Will they live up to their rhetoric and support a liberal, black candidate running a positive campaign? Will Hispanics rally behind such a candidate? Or, alternatively, will deep fissures open up within the party that will take years to close up again?

So far, it appears those fissures are not materializing. James Aldrete, who handles much of the Hispanic outreach for the Obama campaign in Texas, including Spanish language ads, tells us he's seen a few surprising things on the campaign trail this year. The first came a year ago when some 20,000 people turned out to hear Mr. Obama speak in Austin, an early sign that the Illinois senator could appeal to large numbers of younger Hispanics. The second came more recently when Mr. Aldrete noticed a lot of new voters turning up in largely Hispanic areas of the state. Along the border, which is 90% Hispanic, early voting indicates that perhaps one-third of the votes cast are coming from individuals who haven't voted in the past three Texas Democratic primaries. In other Hispanic areas, the number is as high as one-half. That's a sign that turnout will be high this year and likely swelled by new Hispanic voters.

The split Mr. Aldrete sees is not along racial lines. "Tejanos," Hispanics who have been in Texas a long time, he told us, share many concerns with African-Americans, including health care, education and so on. If there is a split, it comes in the state's bigger cities -- Dallas, Houston -- and is between Hispanics who are foreign-born and those who were born in the U.S. The more Hispanic voters define themselves as "immigrants," it seems, the more they perceive a clash of interests between themselves and black voters. But Mr. Obama may be rapidly realigning the Democratic Party to put this traditional Hispanic-Black divide in the past.

-- Brendan Miniter

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« Reply #66 on: March 05, 2008, 07:35:19 AM »


She'll buy him off with the VP but of course she's the p:
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« Reply #67 on: March 05, 2008, 12:18:53 PM »

Thief vs. Thief

The Clinton campaign was on the warpath last night against what it called attempts by Barack Obama's campaign to steal yesterday's primary elections.

In Ohio, Team Clinton claims that Obama attorneys cherry-picked black precincts in Cleveland in their effort to keep certain polling places open late due to bad weather and long lines. The evidence Mr. Obama presented to a local judge was scant at best, but the judge issued a hand-written note ordering some 21 precincts to stay open. Even Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Bruner was unhappy with the maneuver, but she realized too late what was happening.

In Texas, Bill Clinton himself complained of reports of "canceled" caucuses and sign-in sheets for caucus attendees that were improperly collected before the start of last night's precinct conventions. (Sign-in sheets are only valid if signatures are collected after the caucus begins.) "Some people have been told apparently that there is going to be an effort to sign up in advance and slip the sheets in," the former president told reporters.

Indeed, the Clinton campaign went so far as to hold an 8:45 pm conference call for reporters last night in which Clinton staff members alleged that Obama supporters were locking Clinton voters out of some caucus locations. "It's truly an outrage," claimed Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson. "It's really undemocratic."

Mr. Wolfson was interrupted during his complaint by Bob Bauer, the lead attorney for Barack Obama, who intervened in the media call to complain that the Clinton campaign was exhibiting a pattern of trying to restrict access to caucus elections.

"In Nevada, you filed a lawsuit in advance of the caucus.... In Iowa, you threatened various students," the Obama lawyer claimed. Mr. Wolfson dismissed the claims and ridiculed Mr. Bauer for his "vigorous defense of the indefensible" and said Team Clinton was looking "forward to asking our own questions" in future Obama conference calls to reporters.

It's fascinating to see Democrats, who normally deny the existence of voter fraud, choosing between two presidential candidates who hurl those charges against each other with abandon.

-- John Fund
Down and Dirty

Pundits and political reporters decry negative campaigns, but such campaigns can provide useful information about candidates. That's why they often work. Ask Hillary Clinton.

After weeks of dancing around and hesitating to attack Barack Obama directly, Mrs. Clinton challenged his fitness to be Commander in Chief with an ad depicting a 3:00 am. crisis in the White House. She also flooded Texas and Ohio with telephone calls claiming Mr. Obama had told voters he wanted to renegotiate the NAFTA trade deal while telling Canadian diplomats that was mere rhetoric.

It worked. One out of five Texas Democrats said they waited to make up their minds until the last three days before the election. Mrs. Clinton carried this group by a stunning 23 points (61-38%). In Ohio, she carried late-deciders by a hefty 11 points.

Team Obama now says it expects an increasingly vigorous attack from Mrs. Clinton and her surrogates, playing up the current criminal trial in Chicago of Tony Rezko, who was once Mr. Obama's top fundraiser. Mrs. Clinton has demanded Mr. Obama answer questions about Mr. Rezko's role in a land deal that enabled the Illinois senator to buy his house. "The vetting of Obama has just begun.... If the primary contest ends prematurely and Obama is the nominee, Democrats may have a nominee who will be a lightning rod of controversy," wrote Clinton strategists Mark Penn and Harold Ickes in a memo to reporters this morning.

For its part, the Obama campaign is no less ready to return fire on Clinton ethics and finances, according to Obama strategist David Axelrod: "I've said before I don't know why they'd want to go there, but I guess that's where they'll take the race.''


-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"The first rule of politics is, 'Never count out the Clintons.' Their political conglomerate, Clinton Inc., is like Glenn Close in that bathtub scene in the movie 'Fatal Attraction.' It always comes back to life a second or third time" -- columnist Salena Zito, writing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Quote of the Day II

"Just when you thought no one watched 'Saturday Night Live' anymore, the show made a star cameo on this year's trail. The Not Ready for Prime Time Players were brutally effective in exposing the fawning coverage of Obama. Never underestimate the power of shame in journalism. 'SNL's' mockery went straight to reporters' insecurities. Being accused of falling 'in the tank' for a candidate is the journalistic equivalent of a nerdish high school freshman getting a wedgie from the jocks. It is no coincidence that the past few days have seen reporters acting tough with stories about Obama's relationship with a Chicago influence-peddler, his sincerity in opposing NAFTA and his stiff-arming of questions from the press" -- Jim VandeHei and John Harris of, writing on the change in tenor of media coverage of Barack Obama.

The 'Superdelegate' Primary

The next big Democratic primary is April 22, when Pennsylvanians will head to the polls. But it increasingly looks like neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama can win enough pledged delegates to clinch the party's nomination before the convention this summer. The real contest now is the race for "superdelegates" -- the 795 prominent Democrats, mostly elected officials, who will enter the convention free to vote for whomever they choose.

In this battle, two trends are breaking for Barack Obama. The first is talk in Democratic circles of orchestrating a mass movement of superdelegates in favor of the Illinois senator. The idea is to create a dramatic signal that the party has settled on a nominee and is closing ranks behind him to prepare for a hard fought campaign against John McCain in the fall. If this mass movement occurs, Mrs. Clinton likely won't be able to wage a successful floor fight at the convention and, in any case, will suffer weeks of intense pressure to abandon her campaign in the name of uniting the party.

Team Clinton recognizes the danger. With last night's results sinking in, her supporters are pushing for superdelegates to preemptively commit themselves to Mrs. Clinton. Her Ohio victory, they argue, proves she’s the best candidate to win in key battleground states in the fall. They also point to exit polls suggesting she’s the best candidate to go head-to-head with John McCain on national security.

But another trend also favors Mr. Obama -- the intense pressure on black superdelegates, especially members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to line up behind him. One of those leading the push is James Rucker, a 36-year-old former software executive who entered politics in 2003 by going to work for Three years ago he launched his own group,, to pressure black elected officials. He says many black officeholders have become too cozy in power to serve the needs of the black community. His latest strategy has been to collect signatures from black voters aimed at shaming members of the Black Caucus into supporting Mr. Obama.

With 14,000 signatures in hand, Mr. Rucker's biggest success came late last month when Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and African-American leader, dropped his support for Mrs. Clinton and endorsed Mr. Obama. Mr. Lewis is an influential figure in the black community and his defection could yet force other superdelegates to follow his lead. Stay tuned. The superdelegate primary is far from over. Should Mrs. Clinton become the nominee, it has the potential to open a rift with black voters that could hobble the party in November.

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« Reply #68 on: March 05, 2008, 07:10:32 PM »

"For its part, the Obama campaign is no less ready to return fire on Clinton ethics and finances, according to Obama strategist David Axelrod: "I've said before I don't know why they'd want to go there, but I guess that's where they'll take the race.''

No doubt the Obama campaign will have to stoop to the Clinton lows.  Morris on the obvoius:

Mar 5 2008
Published in the New York Post on March 5, 2008.

With big wins in Ohio and Texas last night, Hillary Clinton has finally broken her losing streak and sent a clear message to Barack Obama: I’m not getting out.

For the Illinois senator, the meaning of the primaries is clear - he has to get tough. Hillary can still win this nomination. The proportional representation system of allocating delegates chosen by primaries and caucuses mutes the impact of the popular vote.

By the time the Texas caucuses are fully counted, Obama may have maintained or even expanded his delegate lead, despite Hillary’s victories in three out of four states.

Among the remaining 600 delegates to be chosen, Obama should be able to add to his lead.

But there remain 800 superdelegates, each entitled to a full vote. No matter if Obama leads among elected delegates, they can still deliver the nomination to Hillary.

Do they dare?

If Clinton is able to score a series of popular-vote victories in these late primaries, she could lay the basis for an appeal to the superdelegates to disregard the results of January and February and look instead at her success in the later contests.

The battle of Hillary is over. The battle of Obama has begun.

The question of his readiness and experience looms ever larger in the minds of the media and of voters.

Her red-phone ad, citing her supposedly superior readiness to be commander in chief, evidently cut deeply among the electorate.

It’s time that Obama counters her strategy by hitting back. His lofty politics of hope will avail him little in the aggressive, rough-and-tumble world of modern politics.

He’s got to spell out the special-interest connections that stigmatize Hillary as the tool of the lobbyists.

He must underscore the need for her to release her tax returns for 2007 and 2006 to show the source of her new-found wealth.

He’s got to learn to trade blows with the Clintons, the best counterpunchers in the business.

Looming above the primaries is the specter of the unseated delegations from Michigan - chosen in a primary with only Hillary’s name on the ballot - and Florida.

Obama needs to stop her gathering momentum by shedding his ingenue status and fighting hard for the nomination his previous victories have earned him.

Copyright © 2008
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« Reply #69 on: March 05, 2008, 11:22:13 PM »

I confess I don't see what is so terrible about raising the issue of BO's readiness to be CIC.  His resume is even thinner than Hillary's.  Maybe he should run an ad showing a 3AM phone call asking "Do you know where your husband is?"  cheesy

More seriously though, WTF is Hillary's "experience"?  After she got run over trying to nationalize health care, what did she do?  What substantive international experience did she have?  Would anyone talk of Nancy Reagan's or Lauara Bush's "experience"? 

What twaddle!
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« Reply #70 on: March 06, 2008, 09:38:35 AM »

I couldn't agree with you more Crafty.   I believe Obama will have to start attacking Clinton and have his surrogates go negative and hard.  "Do we really want another four or eight more years of deception, sleeziness, manipulation, outright lies, narcissism, etc?'

His campaign's "hope" and "unity" theme seems to have run out of gas when up against the slime machine of the grifters.

Limbaugh was totally wrong.  We should get rid of the Clintons anytime we are able.  Indeed McCain may be facing both of them now.
(Hill and Obam).
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« Reply #71 on: March 06, 2008, 10:25:11 AM »

Dean's been bought off.  Anyone can be bribed if the price is right.  And Clintons are rich with power and money.   Clinton would have had their army of lawyers sue for this anyway.  I am telling you she would have Obama assisinated if that is what it takes.
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« Reply #72 on: March 07, 2008, 12:35:42 PM »

Pardon Me?

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe isn't mincing words about what he thinks of Hillary Clinton's attacks on his candidate's ethics. "Sen. Clinton is the most secretive politician in America today. This has been a pattern throughout her career of the lack of disclosure," he told reporters this week.

Some backup for Mr. Plouffe's statement arrived yesterday when it was revealed that archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are declining to release material on just how President Clinton issued dozens of suspect pardons in the final hours of his administration in 2001, including the infamous pardon of Marc Rich, the fugitive commodities trader convicted of tax evasion and selling oil to Iran in violation of a U.S. embargo.

The archivists acted according to guidelines set down by Mr. Clinton. All told, some 1,500 pages of documents are being redacted or kept secret, including 300 pages on the pardon selection process, including reports on why the Clinton Justice Department opposed certain pardons. Mr. Clinton pardoned two men who each paid Hugh Rodham, Hillary Clinton's brother, some $200,000 to lobby the White House in search of a pardon. One was sought for a drug dealer and another for someone convicted of mail fraud and perjury. Mr. Clinton denied knowing anything about the payments before making his decisions.

While the decision to withhold the pardon materials was made by Clinton library archivists, who work for the federal government, Mr. Clinton had the right to review their decision and have the documents released. But Bruce Lindsey, his former deputy White House counsel, declined to examine them, which means they will remain under lock and key for the duration of this presidential campaign. How convenient.

-- John Fund
Mr. Old School on Mr. New School

Willie Brown is one of the most successful minority politicians in America. A full quarter-century ago he became the first African American to lead the California Assembly as its Speaker. He was only forced out of that job in 1995 by term limits. He went on to be elected to two terms as San Francisco mayor.

Mr. Brown is now making the rounds promoting his autobiography, "Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times." At a recent appearance near California's state capital of Sacramento, he opined on the historic presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. Mr. Brown confessed that his own political antennae suffered a short when it came to Mr. Obama. He recalled being asked to help Mr. Obama when he first ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004. "I figured nobody with a name like that's going to get elected to anything," he ruefully noted.

As for the Illinois senator's current success seeking the Democratic nomination, Mr. Brown ascribed it to two factors. Mr. Obama "does not frighten white people" and thus can secure votes from a broad cross-section of Americans. Secondly, while Mr. Obama "does absolutely nothing to address a black agenda, he gets the same support from African Americans that you get if you're Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson -- because we have such great race pride."

Mr. Brown said in admiration that "this guy is absolutely operating in hog heaven without having to do anything for it, and if he can keep it up he may be president." Yet in a comment that foreshadowed this week's defeats in Texas and Ohio, Mr. Brown also warned that November is still a long way off and Mr. Obama's winning streak might not last forever.

-- John Fund
Al Gore's Favorite Cause?

Al Gore was famous for saying there was "no controlling legal authority" over his murkier fundraising activities for the Clinton-Gore ticket in 1996. Now, just as he's being touted as a power broker in the Democratic presidential race, inconvenient questions are being raised about his activities in the private sector.

In January,'s Kevin Kelleher perused the SEC filing for a planned IPO by Mr. Gore's company, Current Media, which purchased a profitable international cable news channel in 2004, transforming it into a cutting-edge, interactive -- and money-losing -- multimedia experience. The company now hopes to raise $100 million by selling stock to the public. Says Mr. Kelleher, "...reading the company's filing, you can't help feeling that it's going public now largely because it's close to running out of cash."

Of course, it's possible to believe that Mr. Gore's new direction and unique leadership will lead to large profits in the future. That is, if Mr. Gore even plans to stick around. Another critic, Ron Grover of BusinessWeek, notes: "In fact, Gore doesn't even have a contract. Six months down the road -- at the end of a lock-up for him to sell his stock -- he could bolt altogether." He adds: "I like Al Gore -- his politics, his steadfast defense of a cleaner environment.... But I am totally bewildered by what possessed a good man to make a bad decision like this IPO."

Al Gore has leveraged his political standing into personal wealth more shrewdly than any former vice president in history. He won an Oscar and Nobel Prize for promoting belief in a pending climate catastrophe, then took a high-paying position with venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, whose investments in alternative energy stand to benefit richly from Congressional mandates and subsidies to combat climate change. Mr. Gore makes his money by putting his name on things, not by running companies. Let’s hope no investor is so foolish as to think otherwise.

-- James Freeman
Pondering the Meaning of Jumbuck, Billabong and Obama

Who says conservatives don't have fun? More than 1,000 policy wonks gathered Wednesday evening in a Washington hotel for the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute. They pursued their favorite activity -- talking politics -- over cocktails, a four-course dinner, and the swing sounds of the Eric Felten Orchestra.

But first a singalong: "Waltzing Matilda" -- all eight beguiling verses -- in honor of the evening's special guest, John Howard, who recently stepped down after 12 transforming years as prime minister of Australia. No translation was provided, so it's unclear how many of the bejeweled and tuxedoed assembly grasped the meaning of such Aussie-isms as "jumbuck," "tucker bag," "billabong" and "swagman."

But no matter. The meaning of Mr. Howard's remarks was abundantly clear. This was his first public address since he left office last year after his center-right Liberal Party lost to the Labor Party, and his speech was the former PM's effort to set the record straight about his achievements. These included a soaring economy and landmark reforms in taxation, welfare policy, labor law, deregulation and education, as well as a boost in defense spending and the deployment of troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

But it was his comments on the U.S.-Australian alliance that drew the crowd's warmest applause. Mr. Howard told the story of the first time he met President Bush -- at the White House on September 10, 2001. In the following 24 hours, he said, "the world was turned on its head" and he realized it was "not a time for the United States to have 80-percent allies. This was a time for the United States to have 100-percent allies."

Before and after the speech, conversation turned to John McCain's conservative credentials and George W. Bush's legacy. Opinions varied, to put it politely. And it was noted that Mr. Howard was ousted in November by an antiwar candidate who promised "change."

-- Melanie Kirkpatrick
Quote of the Day

"Arnold Schwarzenegger, secretary of homeland security. Or, perhaps, ambassador to the United Nations. Hey, you heard it here first. As he locks up the GOP nod, John McCain and his deputies are talking boldly this week about redrawing the electoral map into one where California lights up red on Nov. 4 for the first time in 20 years. The Golden State's 55 electoral votes falling into the GOP column would pose a virtually insurmountable challenge to Democrats, no matter who wins that party's nod.... [T]here is one way for McCain to make the Golden State a red state, or at least give it an honest shot. And he's just sitting there in Sacramento, waiting to be asked" -- National Journal columnist John Mercurio.

Bogus Caucus

Is any further evidence needed to show that party primaries are superior to caucuses? It's been over three days since Texas Democrats wrapped up the caucuses designed to parcel out one-third of their state's delegates. But a mere 41% of the caucus sites have reported their results, raising the prospect of massive confusion, possible fraud and lawsuits over whatever results finally trickle in.

Unlike the Texas primary vote, which Hillary Clinton won by four points, the caucus results point to a good showing for Barack Obama, who has 56% of the results that have been released.

But no one knows what the final caucus count will be because, amazingly, the 8,247 precinct officials who ran the caucuses are not required to phone in the results. "Texas is a large state, and this is a voluntary call-in system," says Democratic Party spokesman Hector Nieto. The official rules only require precinct officials to mail in their vote count. How 19th Century.

Indeed, the caucus system seems an anachronism in a time when voters can get instant information and easily vote by absentee or early ballot if they can't make it to the polls on Election Day. Caucuses this year have too often resulted in confusion and controversy. Nevada's caucuses degenerated into lawsuits and competing claims of voter fraud. In New Mexico's caucuses last month, voting was so chaotic that the results were not known for nine days.

Caucuses also discriminate against voters who can't show up at a specific time and place on Election Day, resulting in vastly lower turnout than a primary. And they tend to be manipulated by political insiders who have the patience to sit in hot rooms on uncomfortable chairs as party officials spend hours going through caucus procedures. The end result can be dramatically different from what a primary would produce as evidenced by the Texas results (or at least whatever portion of those results we currently have).

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« Reply #73 on: March 10, 2008, 01:43:59 PM »

The stunning loss of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's Illinois seat in a special election has Republicans wondering what went wrong. Certainly, national trends and the prickly nature of defeated GOP nominee Jim Oberweis played a role.

But Illinois Republicans, who have not won a major statewide race in a decade, should look in the mirror. Support for Republican candidates in the "collar" counties around Chicago has been declining for a generation. Not helping has been a rash of Republicans caught up in the corruption that seems to be endemic to Illinois politics. Certainly, Democrats bear the bulk of the blame for the state's "corruption tax" (estimated by some at $1 billion in padded contracts and ghost employees). But Republicans lost a great deal of credibility when George Ryan, the last GOP governor, went to prison for accepting bribes. Several GOP figures are also participants in the Rezko scandal, in which Barack Obama's top fundraiser is currently standing trial over a political shakedown scheme. No wonder, as one conservative activist put it, "the hapless and hopeless GOP cannot get traction."

Republicans haven't given up on taking the Hastert seat back this fall, given the district's conservative leaning (President Bush won 55% of its votes in 2004). But the campaign of Mr. Oberweis, who will again carry the GOP banner in November against now-incumbent Democrat Bill Foster, will have to be retooled. Mr. Oberweis needlessly created enemies with the slashing campaign he waged to win the GOP nomination for the special election, earning a condemnation from the Chicago Tribune for a campaign style the paper called "consistently nasty, smug, condescending and dishonest."

Look for Mr. Oberweis to get a makeover as former Speaker Hastert urges him to become more soft-spoken with voters and less confrontational with his fellow Republicans. Even so, Republicans will have an uphill fight taking back the seat this fall, especially if Illinois native Barack Obama is heading the Democratic presidential ticket.


-- John Fund
Reverend Al Enters the Fray

When a leading Democrat starts talking about filing lawsuits over a disputed election in Florida, other Democrats have a right to get nervous. They have too many bad memories of the nightmare of Florida's 2000 Bush v. Gore election fiasco.

That's exactly the feeling that the Reverend Al Sharpton caused this weekend when he began threatening to sue the Democratic National Committee if it counts Florida's rogue primary results for purposes of allocating delegates in the presidential race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The New York Sun reports that Mr. Sharpton is heading to Florida to collect lists of people willing to claim they didn't vote in that state's January primary because they believed the DNC when it said (because of the Florida primary's illicit scheduling) their votes wouldn't count. Mr. Sharpton says millions of Florida voters will have been disenfranchised if delegates selected in an illicit primary (the majority of whom back Hillary Clinton) now are seated at the national convention.

Mr. Sharpton is widely seen as a stalking horse for Barack Obama, who doesn't want the disputed delegates from either Florida or Michigan seated. Mr. Sharpton told Fox News that if Mr. Obama loses the nomination because of "back-room deals" made by superdelegates, "you not only would see people like me demonstrating, you may see us talking about whether or not we can support that [Democratic] ticket."

Democrats are deep in discussions about how to seat delegations from Florida and Michigan without triggering a backlash from a rabble-rouser such as Mr. Sharpton. Over the weekend, a possible solution emerged when two governors who back Hillary Clinton, Jon Corzine of New Jersey and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, said they were willing to privately raise half the $30 million it would take to run new primaries in both states.

Whatever the solution, it had better come quickly. The Florida and Michigan dispute is threatening to raise the rancor among Democrats to unacceptable levels. The last thing the party needs is to have its own Rube Goldberg primary rules dominate political news coverage.


-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"She has no idea how many times I defended her. How many right-leaning friends and relatives I battled with. How many times I played down her shady business deals and penchant for scandals.... She has no idea how frequently I dismissed her husband's serial adultery as an unfortunate trait of an otherwise brilliant man. For sixteen years, I was a proud soldier in the legion of 'Clinton apologists'.... And then she ran for president. She's proven that she cares more about 'Hillary' than 'unity.' More about defeating Obama than defeating the Republicans. She's become a political suicide-bomber, happy to blow herself to bits -- as long as she takes everyone else with her. On Friday, one of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisors, Samantha Power, resigned after calling Senator Clinton 'a monster' during an off-the-record exchange. It was an unfortunate slip, but one that echoed the sentiments of many Clinton apologists like me -- who've watched Hillary's descent into pettiness and fear-mongering with the heartbreak of a child who grows up to realize that his beloved mother has been a terrible person all along. Are the conservatives right about the Clintons? Will they do and say anything to get elected? I don't know. All I know is... I'm through apologizing" -- Seth Grahame-Smith, author of "Letters of Apology for Eight Years of George W. Bush," writing about Hillary Clinton at

Heather Wilson's War

Republican Sen. Pete Domenici is retiring after more than three decades in office and all three of the state's congressmen are running to replace him. Rep. Tom Udall, a Democrat, is virtually assured of winning his party's nomination and is sitting on nearly $2 million in campaign funds. On the right, however, there is a real horse race developing between Rep. Heather Wilson and Rep. Steve Pearce. The latter is a conservative Republican who represents a large swath of rural New Mexico, while Ms. Wilson is a moderate with a more suburban base, as well as strong support from military hawks because of her service in the Air Force and as a defense and intelligence expert.

Ms. Wilson had a near-death experience two years ago when she was challenged by popular Democratic State Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who charged that Ms. Wilson, as a member of the House intelligence committee, should have stopped the invasion of Iraq. With polls showing her trailing by four points, Ms. Wilson pulled off an 800-vote win in an Albuquerque district that boasts more Democrats than Republicans and that went for John Kerry in 2004.

It was an impressive victory under the circumstances, and running statewide plays even more to her strengths. Pollster Brian Sanderoff tells us that the national security vote is especially important because New Mexico is home to the Los Alamos Labs, numerous military bases and a large number of Energy Department employees (many whom handle nuclear-weapons issues). Her GOP rival Mr. Pearce didn't help himself any this month when he carelessly suggested at a campaign stop that England "exports more radical Islamic terrorists today than any country in the Middle East." He couldn't back up the statement and Ms. Wilson quickly pounced, calling it an irresponsible comment that could alienate a key ally in the war on terror and was unbecoming of a would-be senator.

Either Republican would face a steep climb in the fall. Polls show Mr. Udall, who benefits from massive name recognition thanks to his family's heritage in New Mexico politics, leading by 20 points. That should tighten, however, once a GOP nominee is picked and the public gets up to speed on personalities, ideology and issues. And either Republican would also benefit from Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee. Recent match-up polls show her lead in New Mexico over John McCain much narrower than Barack Obama's.


-- Brendan Miniter

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« Reply #74 on: March 11, 2008, 12:31:05 PM »

Just What the Doctor Ordered

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel has been spending time in the hospital with the flu the last few days, but he is likely to have gotten a real morale booster yesterday with the news of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's meltdown.

Mr. Rangel, who has represented Harlem in Congress for 38 years, is known to hold the prickly governor in minimal high regard. He has often snidely referred to Mr. Spitzer as "the smartest man in the world," a reference to the governor's well-known arrogance.

Should Mr. Spitzer resign, Mr. Rangel would also be in the catbird's seat. Lt. Gov. David Paterson, a former state senator from Harlem, is a longtime protege of Mr. Rangel and would likely grant his mentor wide influence over patronage and fiscal issues. "Rangel could have instant access to Paterson anytime of the day or night," is how one New York Democratic leader evaluates Mr. Rangel's likely importance in a Patterson administration.

So if Mr. Rangel makes an even swifter recovery from the flu than is expected, there will be good reasons for that new spring in his step and twinkle in his eye.

-- John Fund

Deus Ex Machine Politics

There is little chance that New York will be competitive in the presidential race this year, but the Spitzer scandal will breathe new life into New York's battered GOP. Poised to fill the governor's seat is Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson, a Democrat who has little name recognition and lacks the force of personality that animated Mr. Spitzer's political career. Mr. Paterson, an ally of Rep. Charlie Rangel, will likely be a seat-warmer while both parties prepare to battle for the governor's mansion in 2010. Democrat Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will likely now become the de facto leader of his party in the state.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Joe Bruno, a veteran political infighter, will take the lieutenant governor's seat, giving him a larger platform to use for Republican advantage. He could run for governor himself in two years. But it's more likely that he'll find someone else within his party to carry the Republican banner. If Rudy Giuliani wants to get back into the game, this is his chance. There's also a possibility that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could be interested. And then there's John Spencer, the former mayor of Yonkers who ran against Hillary Clinton for senate in 2006. He has a fundraising base, knows what it takes to run a statewide campaign and has executive experience.

A little more than a year ago, Eliot Spitzer's gubernatorial landslide (69%) was the biggest the state had ever seen. New York seemed on a path to becoming a one-party state. Democrats tightened their grip on the state's General Assembly, won every state-wide elective office and even won in a few upstate congressional districts that traditionally favor Republicans. This year, led by Mr. Spitzer, Democrats looked likely to win control of the last vestige of Republican power in New York, the state Senate. How quickly things change. Republicans now see an opening to reverse their fortunes in New York, only helped if Mr. Spitzer tries to cling to office. It remains to be seen if the state and national GOPs are up to seizing the opportunity.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"In lead stories Monday night about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer being linked to a prostitution ring, neither ABC's World News nor the NBC Nightly News verbally identified Spitzer's political party. Must mean he's a liberal Democrat -- and he is. CBS anchor Katie Couric, however, managed to squeeze in a mention of his party. On ABC, the only hints as to Spitzer's party were a few seconds of video of Spitzer beside Hillary Clinton as they walked down some steps and a (D) on screen by Spitzer's name over part of one soundbite. NBC didn't even do that. While ABC and NBC failed to cite Spitzer's political affiliation in the four minutes or so each network dedicated to the revelations, both managed to find time to applaud his reputation and effectiveness as the Empire State's Attorney General before becoming Governor" -- Brent Baker of the conservative Media Research Institute.

Follow the Money

 The fall of Eliot Spitzer, caught in the roll-up of a high-end prostitution ring, is bound to be an occasion for a great deal of dime-store psychoanalysis about what led to his self-destructive behavior.

But perhaps the most interesting detail isn’t the all-too-familiar tale of a politician imagining himself immune to the laws and standards he prescribes for others. The most interesting detail is how he got caught.

The New York Governor, who made his bones doggedly pursuing alleged financial crimes, was undone by his own bankers. The financial transactions by which he endeavored to conceal his payments to the Emperors Club were unusual enough that they prompted a referral by his bank to the IRS, which in turn brought in the FBI and ultimately the prosecutors. Based on the information currently available, Mr. Spitzer himself was the thread that began the unraveling of the Emperor's Club prostitution ring.

Prosecutors are supposed to know better. But in this case, Mr. Spitzer appears to have left behind precisely the kind of paper trail that he once used himself in pursuit of Wall Street malefactors, real or imagined. The latest burble from the TV talking heads this morning now suggests that Mr. Spitzer is delaying his resignation as leverage for a favorable plea bargain. If so, he apparently learned at least one thing from his years as a dictator of humiliating plea bargains to those caught up in his publicity-seeking investigations. All the more ironic, then, that the Sheriff of Wall Street gave himself away with his slippery financial dealings, rather than his sordid appetites, ending in his disgrace.

-- Brian M. Carney

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« Reply #75 on: March 13, 2008, 07:57:14 PM »

Political Diary
James Taranto will return Monday, March 17. While he's away, please enjoy complimentary access to the WSJ's subscription newsletter, Political Diary.
March 13, 2008
Is a 'Dump Hillary' Movement Starting to Crystallize?

Hillary Clinton doesn't easily apologize. But she did last night, telling a group of more than 200 black newspaper editors that she was sorry about comments made by her supporters that have upset African-Americans.

"I am sorry if anyone was offended," she said of remarks by her husband comparing Barack Obama's victory in the South Carolina primary to that of Jesse Jackson in the 1980s. "We can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama."

She went on to "repudiate" remarks that Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter and 1984 Democratic vice-presidential running-mate, made suggesting Mr. Obama would not have been so successful if he were white. Mrs. Clinton pointed out that Mrs. Ferraro had resigned her post with the Clinton finance committee.

Mrs. Clinton made her retreat on the same night that one of her most stalwart liberal supporters turned on her. In a blistering "special comment" tacked on to his MSNBC show, host Keith Olbermann accused Mrs. Clinton of "now campaigning as if Barack Obama were the Democrat, and you were the Republican." Mr. Olbermann didn't mince words -- he accused Clinton advisers of sending "Senator Clinton's campaign back into the vocabulary of David Duke." He tagged Team Clinton with "slowly killing the chances for any Democrat to become president" with its divisive campaign tactics.

While Ms. Ferraro's words were certainly inartful, no one in their right mind believes they should be compared with the rhetoric of David Duke. The fact that former Clinton allies such as Mr. Olbermann are becoming so apoplectic is a sure sign that Mrs. Clinton is wearing out her welcome on the primary stage in many quarters.

-- John Fund

On School Choice, New Guv Is Anything But a Knee-Jerk Democrat

Lt. Gov. David Paterson will become New York's governor next Monday at noon. But while news reports have focused on the trailblazing aspects of his rise -- he will become the state's first African-American governor and the first legally blind governor of any state -- Albany politicos are talking about how policy priorities will change under Mr. Paterson.

On many levels, Mr. Paterson is likely to be even more liberal than Eliot Spitzer. Rick Brookhiser of National Review calls him "liberal to the marrow." The new governor opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and wants to revise the state's harsh Rockefeller-era drug laws. Last year, he stirred up controversy when he appeared to endorse a proposal to let legal residents who were non-citizens have the right to vote. Even pro-immigrant Mayor Mike Bloomberg refused to join that crusade, asking: "If voting is given to everybody, what's the point of becoming a citizen?" On taxes, Mr. Paterson is likely to be even more in favor than Mr. Spitzer of redistribution and tax hikes targeted at the "wealthy."

But on at least one issue, Mr. Paterson breaks from liberal orthodoxy. He is passionately in favor of school choice and has even spoken at two conferences held by the Alliance for School Choice. At one, he pulled off the rare feat of quoting both Martin Luther King Jr. and individualistic philosopher Ayn Rand approvingly in the same speech.

Here's hoping Mr. Paterson puts education reform ahead of tax policy as he draws up his list of priorities.

-- John Fund

It Pours, Man, It Pours

The news just keeps getting worse for Republicans in Congress: After losing a Congressional seat that once belonged to former Speaker Dennis Hastert in Illinois, the party lost what may have been a winnable seat in Indiana. Adding insult to injury, the National Republican Congressional Committee spent more than $1.2 million losing the Illinois race and yet didn't spend a penny in Indiana despite its candidate getting slammed by the NRCC's heavy-spending Democratic counterpart.

But members of the House Republican Caucus aren't ready to pack it in and go home just yet. The party raised $8.6 million at an annual dinner in Washington last night, headlined by President Bush, exceeding even the $7.5 million goal set for the shindig. And members of Congress let it be known they consider the loss of the former Hastert seat an aberration that can be blamed on the candidate.

While the loss was a blow, GOP leaders blamed dairy owner and wealthy businessman Jim Oberweis for being a flawed candidate. "Jim Oberweis went from being perceived [as] the tenacious guy to just being a wealthy individual looking for a gig," one Republican Member of Congress said. "There's nothing the NRCC is going to do about that. To lay [the loss] on the doorstep of the NRCC, it would be inaccurate."

In turn, a strategist familiar with the Illinois campaign suggested Mr. Oberweis lost because Democrats effectively tied him to President Bush, even casting the special election as an opportunity to vote against the current administration. That has to be troubling to national Republican leaders, who have long maintained that Mr. Bush will not be on the ballot, and thus not a factor, in 2008.

Shrugging off the Bush albatross would be difficult enough if the party were on an equal financial footing with Democrats. But that's hardly the case. Even after last night's dinner (and assuming they spent nothing on the dinner), the NRCC still trails House Democrats by more than $20 million in cash on hand. The job of defending a stunning number of vulnerable open seats will be even more difficult if the GOP has an empty checking account.

-- Reid Wilson,

Quote of the Day I

"[T]he percentage of Republican identifiers voting in Democratic nomination contests has increased significantly in recent weeks -- from 4 percent in states that held primaries in January and February to 9 percent in the March 4 primaries to 12 percent in Mississippi on Tuesday.... Overall, 9 percent of the Mississippi Democratic primary voters were self-identified Republicans who voted for Clinton.... But did these Republicans just turn out to assist McCain by prolonging the Democratic fight or boosting a candidate they consider easier to beat? The exit poll suggests another motivation. These Clinton Republicans also expressed very negative views of Barack Obama... [so] the primary motivation of Clinton's Mississippi Republicans may be a desire to stop Barack Obama, although many may be motivated by tactical shenanigans as well" -- Mark Blumenthal, editor and publisher of, writing in the National Journal.

Quote of the Day II

"I met Eliot Spitzer during his first semester in law school, my first year teaching criminal law at Harvard. He was smart and ambitious, which certainly didn't set him apart from the rest of his classmates at Harvard. What did, and what brought him to my door, was that he was interested in a career in politics.... Maybe he was absent the day we discussed the Mann Act. But I don't think so.... Eliot Spitzer knew better, but he clearly forgot that the rules apply to everyone. Especially him. Now, the face in the mirror is the one that did him in. Poor Eliot. I do feel sorry for him. But there are some things you can't teach, some things that can only be learned through painful experience. Hubris is what it's called" -- Susan Estrich, former campaign manager for Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis in 1988, reflecting on her time teaching Eliot Spitzer at Harvard Law School.

Getting Religion on Earmarks, Slowly

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both become last-minute converts to a proposal to declare a moratorium on earmarks, the pork-barrel projects dropped into legislation with little scrutiny or oversight. But don't expect Democratic Senate leaders to follow them as the moratorium comes to a vote on the Senate floor today.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois is a big booster of Mr. Obama, but he declares himself "disappointed" in his Illinois colleague's embrace of the moratorium proposed by GOP Senator Jim DeMint. Similarly, New York Senator Chuck Schumer has parted ways with Hillary Clinton over the proposed time-out on earmarks. Mr. Schumer privately expressed disgust when Senator DeMint held a news conference outside the Capitol building that featured a man in a 6-foot-tall pink pig suit ridiculing Congressional excess.

No wonder, then, Mr. Obama raised the eyebrows of more than a few Democratic colleagues when he announced this week that Congress' "earmark culture" was broken and "needs to be re-examined and reformed." Republican Senate leaders now are in danger of being outflanked unless they step up the pace and embrace the DeMint moratorium themselves. Yet the Hill newspaper reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is delaying any statement on earmarks until a task force he appointed two months ago to study the subject reports back to him. Missouri Republican Kit Bond isn't on the task force but had a succinct summary description of the moratorium idea: "Stupid." Statements like that have spending foes worrying that the task force is simply designed to punt on reform.

For his part, Mr. DeMint says his colleagues are acting like addicts who refuse to admit they have a problem. He told this week: "We need to go cold turkey." Anything less would be "like telling an alcoholic, 'Don't drink as much.'"
Jay Leno: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has admitted that he has been involved in a prostitution ring. This is the same man who when he was attorney general went after the prostitution rings. So apparently for not giving him good service. ... [This] means Hillary Clinton [is] now only the second angriest wife in the state of New York. ... Neither Barack nor Hillary can win the nomination outright. You know, because it’s so close. So Hillary’s kind of caught between Barack and a hard place. ... Technically, neither of them can win. It shows you how bad it’s gotten for the Democrats. Forget winning the general election, they can’t even win their own election. ... You know, there’s talk in some Democratic circles of letting the states of Michigan and Florida re-vote. Today, Al Gore said, “Oh, now you think of this! Great!” ... They’re talking about a re-vote primary where people would mail in their ballots. That’s a great idea, combine the reliability of the people in Florida who count the ballots with the efficiency of the Post Office. What could go wrong there?
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 08:08:18 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #76 on: March 14, 2008, 04:15:32 AM »

Racial Politics
Trying to hang on, Detroit's mayor says the issue is not his sex scandal, but racism.

Keith Naughton
Updated: 1:02 PM ET Mar 13, 2008
You might think the resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer would put more pressure on Detroit's embattled mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, to do the same. But Kilpatrick, seven weeks into his own text sex scandal, shows no signs of giving up the fight. In fact, with a prosecutor contemplating perjury charges and his city council in revolt, Kilpatrick has chosen the nuclear option in this deeply divided city. At the end of an otherwise routine state-of-the-city speech Tuesday night, Kilpatrick went off on a racially explosive tirade against his critics and the media.

"In the past 30 days I've been called a n----- more than any time in my entire life," he told a cheering, invitation-only crowd of 1,500 at Detroit's gilded Orchestra Hall. "In the past three days I've received more death threats than I have in my entire administration. I've heard these words, but I've never heard people say them about my wife and children. I have to say this, because it's very personal to me." He stole a glance at his wife and twin 12-year-old sons standing at attention in a luxury box above the stage. "I don't believe a Nielsen rating is worth the life of my children or your children. This unethical, illegal lynch-mob mentality has to stop."

An African-American man might be making a serious run at the White House, but here in Motown the old-school politics of race still define this struggling city. Census data show this is the most racially divided urban center in America, with 81 percent of the city black and a roughly equal percentage of the surrounding suburbs white. Politicians on both sides of Detroit's cultural fault line—the 8 Mile Road made famous by Eminem—have stoked racial fears for decades in order to get elected and stay in power. Kilpatrick, a Democrat, is no stranger to this tactic. There was plenty of racial rhetoric in his bruising 2005 re-election campaign. But last summer, long before this scandal erupted, Kilpatrick joined with the NAACP to bury the N word in a ceremony complete with horse-drawn casket and burial plot. "Today we're not just burying the N word, we're taking it out of our spirit," Kilpatrick said in his eulogy. "Die, N word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more."

That was then. Now Kilpatrick, 37, is fighting for his political life as he faces the prospect of perjury charges—a felony punishable by 15-years in jail—for what many people now believe was lying under oath about an illicit affair with his then-chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Last summer, while testifying in a whistleblower lawsuit brought by two Detroit cops, Kilpatrick and Beatty vehemently denied they were lovers and that they had fired the cops for investigating the mayor's security detail, which could have revealed their clandestine relationship. Then the Detroit Free Press in January unearthed text messages that contradicted their sworn testimony. (Example: "I need you soooo bad," Kilpatrick texted Beatty on his city-issued pager in 2002. "I want to wake up in the morning and you are there.") Since then, court documents have become public—despite Kilpatrick's efforts to keep them sealed—that disclose a secret deal the mayor cut last fall to settle the whistleblower suit in exchange for destroying the incriminating text messages, which mysteriously never came out at trial. The settlement cost Detroit taxpayers $9 million.

Kilpatrick's strategy for survival initially followed a familiar narrative arc. After a week of seclusion he emerged, with wife Carlita by his side, to make a vague public apology, while admitting no legal wrongdoing. (Carlita, like Hillary, didn't simply stand by her man but spoke up for him, saying that while she is "hurt," "there is no question I love my husband.") Kilpatrick also embraced the Almighty, whom he said was "whipping" him for his transgression but had "ordained" him to be the mayor of Detroit. "I believe I'm on an assignment from God," he told local radio station WMXD.

Then his tone turned tough. First there was the unsuccessful court battle over the lawsuit settlement, which went all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. More recently Kilpatrick hired an A-list legal and PR team known for defending high-profile political figures. He lawyered up with Chicago defense attorney Daniel Webb, who represented former Illinois governor George Ryan in the racketeering trial he lost last year. (Kilpatrick has already indicated a willingness to fight any charges, with Detroit's general counsel, Sharon McPhail, arguing there isn't a strong enough case to prove perjury.) Kilpatrick also brought in Washington PR pro Judy Smith, who represented Monica Lewinsky and provided counsel to Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings, when he famously accused his critics of engaging in a "high-tech lynching."

Kilpatrick's fiery oratory on live TV Tuesday night seemed to echo those long-ago confirmation hearings. "And it's seriously time," Kilpatrick thundered, as ministers in the audience raised their hands in praise. "We've never been here before—and I don't care if they cut the TV off—we've never been in a situation like this before where you can say anything, do anything, have no facts, no research, no nothing, and you can launch a hate-driven, bigoted assault on a family."

Will it work? One former Kilpatrick adviser sure doesn't think so. "The mayor engaged in the most repulsive form of race baiting I've seen in 30 years of political consulting," said veteran Detroit political operative Sam Riddle, who worked on Kilpatrick's 2005 re-election. "That was no ad-lib. That was a calculated move to pimp the emotions of Detroit so he can build a political base predicted on the politics of race. But it won't work. Detroit is fed up with this guy. They know he used their money to cover up the text messages, and they know he lied on the stand. He ought to man up like Eliot Spitzer and resign." Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican, Wednesday called on Kilpatrick to resign after condemning his speech as "race baiting on par with David Duke and George Wallace."

Kilpatrick reiterated in his speech: "I won't quit." The mayor's press secretary Denise Tolliver defended his use of the N word, saying he was just repeating what is being written to him in e-mails, one of which she read to NEWSWEEK. It contained many uses of the N word and other racial slurs directed at Kilpatrick and his family. She said the Detroit police are investigating that e-mail and other threats the mayor received. She also acknowledged that three Detroit business leaders, including former Detroit Pistons star Dave Bing, met with Kilpatrick Wednesday morning and raised concerns about the "emotional" nature of his unscripted ending. "He did get emotional," says Tolliver. "The mayor is human."

The businessmen weren't the only ones raising concerns. African-American commentators in Detroit's local media scorned Kilpatrick's racial remarks. "The shameful, divisive words he used to draw false lines between those who want him to own up and those he expects to give him a pass will serve only to prolong the agony in this community," wrote Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson. "His words represent the height of irresponsibility, and seeped into gross negligence."

But for Kilpatrick, media attacks like that will only serve to strengthen his case with his base. Decades of divisive politics in Detroit have conditioned voters on both sides of 8 Mile to believe that each is out to get the other. That's why white suburbanites boast about how many years it has been since they've visited the city. And it's why Kilpatrick finds an accepting audience for his accusations of bigotry. "Using the N word was part of the necessary pandering he had to make to his voters," said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster. "He's telling his base, 'The white media and the white folks are attacking your black mayor, and I need you to rally around me'."

Whether they actually will remains to be seen next year, when Kilpatrick hopes to run for re-election. First he has to get past Kym Worthy, the county prosecutor, another powerful African-American politician up for re-election. The key difference is that Worthy's constituents in Wayne County include a majority of mostly white suburbanites. And nine out of 10 of those in the suburbs have an unfavorable opinion of Kilpatrick, according to pollster Steve Mitchell. On Wednesday Worthy said she needs two more weeks to decide if she'll bring charges, because she received new information that she declined to specify. "It's about being thorough," she said.

If Kilpatrick does manage to survive where Spitzer and so many others have fallen, the mayor of Motown will write a new chapter in the politics of scandal. "This is a political-science lesson," says Foster. "If Kilpatrick can make it through this he will be a case study for a lot of politicians in trouble." If he doesn't, though, he'll join Spitzer and all those others in the growing political hall of shame.

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« Reply #77 on: March 14, 2008, 01:15:57 PM »

Home Alone on Earmarks

John McCain may be cruising to a presidential nomination, but he holds limited clout in the chamber he has worked in for over 20 years. Last night, the Senate turned back one of his pet projects, a proposed one-year moratorium on earmarks.

The vote, which technically was on a procedural motion, wasn't even close, with 71 senators voting against the motion by South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and 29 in favor. Mr. McCain, who has made opposition to pork-barrel spending a highlight of his presidential campaign, couldn't even sway a majority of GOP Senators to his side. He did bag a surprise supporter in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime member of the Appropriations Committee, who has traditionally defended earmarks.

Democratic Senators clearly are betting that attacks on pork-barrel spending won't resonate with voters this fall. Only three Democrats joined with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, last-minute converts to the anti-pork barrel cause.

Senator McCain said the defeat of the moratorium proved Congress was "the last bastion in America that doesn't get it" regarding government spending. "It wasn't the war in Iraq that caused [the GOP] to lose in 2006, it was the wasteful, pork-barrel spending," he told reporters. "Ask any county Republican chairman in America. Ask any Republican operative in America."

Senator McCain says he still plans to target outrageous government spending as a campaign issue. He just won't be doing it with much support from his Senate colleagues, which may help him even more easily portray himself as someone who would shake up Beltway practices.

-- John Fund

Eliot Aftermath?

How efficient is the Clinton campaign machine? According to RadarOnline, Hillary Clinton's crack Web team had purged Eliot Spitzer's endorsement from the campaign site less than an hour after the New York Times broke the story of his "involvement" with a prostitution ring Monday.

So far, Mrs. Clinton has declined to comment on the Governor's alleged assignations, beyond a terse remark that her thoughts were with his family. But she probably won't be able to dodge the issue if Mr. Spitzer is indicted -- or if a debate catches fire in the media over prostitution, misogyny and related gender concerns. This is touchy territory for Mrs. Clinton, given her own husband's philandering. A Monica-esque debate about powerful older men and vulnerable young women would hardly be a convenient subject right now for the Clinton campaign.

Mrs. Clinton may have airbrushed the New York Governor from her campaign site, but with at least two debates coming up before the crucial Pennsylvania primary, Mrs. Clinton will be lucky if she doesn't have to offer a more elaborate denunciation of Mr. Spitzer's actions.

-- Brian M. Carney

Minister of Hate

Mitt Romney was constantly challenged about the tenets of his Mormon faith and its past treatment of blacks, and finally under pressure had to give a speech in which he discussed the influence of his religious beliefs on his political actions.

Barack Obama says on the campaign trail that his campaign transcends race, but he has refused to discuss beyond cursory comments what he thinks about his own pastor's wild hate speech -- speech that includes dark racial overtones.

Mr. Obama has attended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for some 20 years, and has attended countless sermons there. But when a Jewish group in Ohio confronted him with a list of outrageous statements by Rev. Wright, including calling on blacks to sing "God Damn America" for giving the minority community drugs and engaging in "state terrorism," Mr. Obama more or less waved away the objections.

"I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial," he told the group. He said Rev. Wright "is like an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with," adding that everyone has someone like that in their family.

Mr. Obama won't comment specifically on Rev. Wright's denunciations of the United States, but he did authorize a campaign aide to say that he "repudiated" those comments.

But in presidential politics, that won't be good enough. In a summary of Wright sermons that Ron Kessler offers in today's Wall Street Journal, it's clear that Mr. Obama's pastor has done far more than merely speak favorably of Louis Farrakhan. On the Sunday after 9/11, Rev. Wright mounted his pulpit and claimed that the U.S. itself had brought on the attacks because of its own history of terrorism. "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," he told his congregation. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human."

At some point, in some venue, Mr. Obama is going to have to give a speech directly addressing his longtime pastor's views and answering a simple question: Why didn't he find another church that didn't include a leader who so frequently engaged in such hate speech?

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"The Democrats also must enjoy this bit of trivia: They now control the district that includes the birthplace and boyhood home of the late President Ronald Reagan, the leading Republican icon of our day. But it is the practical political details of the GOP's loss in Illinois 14 that suggest how far the party has slipped.... For starters, it's not just that Hastert long-dominated the district. He personally had the current district drawn in hopes of securing the Republican Party's longstanding hold.... Prior to the 2006 turning point in national partisan politics, the idea of Democrat Foster winning in this improbable place might have seemed laughable" -- Congressional Quarterly's Bob Benenson on this week's special election victory of Democrat Bill Foster in a seat held by retired former GOP House Speaker Denny Hastert.

Quote of the Day II

"The pillars of American liberalism -- the Democratic Party, the universities and the mass media -- are obsessed with biological markers, most particularly race and gender. They have insisted, moreover, that pedagogy and culture and politics be just as seized with the primacy of these distinctions and with the resulting 'privileging' that allegedly haunts every aspect of our social relations. They have gotten their wish. This primary campaign represents the full flowering of identity politics. It's not a pretty picture. Geraldine Ferraro says Obama is only where he is because he's black. Professor Orlando Patterson says the 3 a.m. phone call ad is not about a foreign policy crisis but a subliminal Klan-like appeal to the fear of 'black men lurking in the bushes around white society.' Good grief." -- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Counting Down the Blue Dogs

November poses daunting prospects for the House GOP. Until yesterday, only five Democrats were retiring from their seats, while 24 Republicans were leaving. Now comes the sixth Democratic retirement, and this one may be a gift to Republicans.

Alabama Rep. Bud Cramer, of Huntsville, is calling it quits after nine terms. Among the last of the Blue Dogs, he easily held down a seat in his state's 5th district despite a heavy Republican lean. George W. Bush won 60% of the vote in 2004 even as Mr. Cramer was reelected with the 73%. As recently as January he was obliged to tell AP he wasn't thinking of changing parties: "I've always been a conservative Democrat who's been a bit of a thorn in the side of our leadership. I'll continue to be a thorn in the side of our leadership."

A thorn no more. His departure not only puts his party at high risk of losing a seat; he will be missed by its dwindling number of conservative voices and also by Nasa, which always had a friend on the appropriations committee. Mr. Cramer's announcement was undoubtedly intended to catch both Democrats and Republicans by surprise. With a June primary scheduled, would-be successors will have to make up their minds quickly and file for an April 4 deadline. Should he choose to make one, Mr. Cramer's endorsement would likely be especially influential in such a contest.

He says only that he's retiring to "spend more time with my family and begin another chapter in my life." Mr. Cramer may not have been thrilled with the direction of his now-majority party under ultraliberal Nancy Pelosi, but a likelier motive for leaving is to make some money. He has spent the past 36 years as an army tank officer, county prosecutor and Member of Congress, none of which (under normal circumstances) is highly lucrative.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

« Reply #78 on: March 14, 2008, 01:25:23 PM »

David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'
An election-season essay
by David Mamet
March 11th, 2008 12:00 AM

John Maynard Keynes was twitted with changing his mind. He replied, "When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?"

My favorite example of a change of mind was Norman Mailer at The Village Voice.

Norman took on the role of drama critic, weighing in on the New York premiere of Waiting for Godot.

Twentieth century's greatest play. Without bothering to go, Mailer called it a piece of garbage.

When he did get around to seeing it, he realized his mistake. He was no longer a Voice columnist, however, so he bought a page in the paper and wrote a retraction, praising the play as the masterpiece it is.

Every playwright's dream.

I once won one of Mary Ann Madden's "Competitions" in New York magazine. The task was to name or create a "10" of anything, and mine was the World's Perfect Theatrical Review. It went like this: "I never understood the theater until last night. Please forgive everything I've ever written. When you read this I'll be dead." That, of course, is the only review anybody in the theater ever wants to get.

My prize, in a stunning example of irony, was a year's subscription to New York, which rag (apart from Mary Ann's "Competition") I considered an open running sore on the body of world literacy—this due to the presence in its pages of John Simon, whose stunning amalgam of superciliousness and savagery, over the years, was appreciated by that readership searching for an endorsement of proactive mediocrity.

But I digress.

I wrote a play about politics (November, Barrymore Theater, Broadway, some seats still available). And as part of the "writing process," as I believe it's called, I started thinking about politics. This comment is not actually as jejune as it might seem. Porgy and Bess is a buncha good songs but has nothing to do with race relations, which is the flag of convenience under which it sailed.

But my play, it turned out, was actually about politics, which is to say, about the polemic between persons of two opposing views. The argument in my play is between a president who is self-interested, corrupt, suborned, and realistic, and his leftish, lesbian, utopian-socialist speechwriter.

The play, while being a laugh a minute, is, when it's at home, a disputation between reason and faith, or perhaps between the conservative (or tragic) view and the liberal (or perfectionist) view. The conservative president in the piece holds that people are each out to make a living, and the best way for government to facilitate that is to stay out of the way, as the inevitable abuses and failures of this system (free-market economics) are less than those of government intervention.

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.

But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and mobile classes of which I was at various times a part.

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.

To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered.

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"—the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations—they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. So, taking the tragic view, the question was not "Is everything perfect?" but "How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?" Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well.

Do I speak as a member of the "privileged class"? If you will—but classes in the United States are mobile, not static, which is the Marxist view. That is: Immigrants came and continue to come here penniless and can (and do) become rich; the nerd makes a trillion dollars; the single mother, penniless and ignorant of English, sends her two sons to college (my grandmother). On the other hand, the rich and the children of the rich can go belly-up; the hegemony of the railroads is appropriated by the airlines, that of the networks by the Internet; and the individual may and probably will change status more than once within his lifetime.

What about the role of government? Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow.

But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?

I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own—take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production.

The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority—that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.

Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night, and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why? Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute—to throw into the pot what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.

See also that most magnificent of schools, the jury system, where, again, each brings nothing into the room save his or her own prejudices, and, through the course of deliberation, comes not to a perfect solution, but a solution acceptable to the community—a solution the community can live with.

Prior to the midterm elections, my rabbi was taking a lot of flack. The congregation is exclusively liberal, he is a self-described independent (read "conservative"), and he was driving the flock wild. Why? Because a) he never discussed politics; and b) he taught that the quality of political discourse must be addressed first—that Jewish law teaches that it is incumbent upon each person to hear the other fellow out.

And so I, like many of the liberal congregation, began, teeth grinding, to attempt to do so. And in doing so, I recognized that I held those two views of America (politics, government, corporations, the military). One was of a state where everything was magically wrong and must be immediately corrected at any cost; and the other—the world in which I actually functioned day to day—was made up of people, most of whom were reasonably trying to maximize their comfort by getting along with each other (in the workplace, the marketplace, the jury room, on the freeway, even at the school-board meeting).

And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.

"Aha," you will say, and you are right. I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.

At the same time, I was writing my play about a president, corrupt, venal, cunning, and vengeful (as I assume all of them are), and two turkeys. And I gave this fictional president a speechwriter who, in his view, is a "brain-dead liberal," much like my earlier self; and in the course of the play, they have to work it out. And they eventually do come to a human understanding of the political process. As I believe I am trying to do, and in which I believe I may be succeeding, and I will try to summarize it in the words of William Allen White.

White was for 40 years the editor of the Emporia Gazette in rural Kansas, and a prominent and powerful political commentator. He was a great friend of Theodore Roosevelt and wrote the best book I've ever read about the presidency. It's called Masks in a Pageant, and it profiles presidents from McKinley to Wilson, and I recommend it unreservedly.

White was a pretty clear-headed man, and he'd seen human nature as few can. (As Twain wrote, you want to understand men, run a country paper.) White knew that people need both to get ahead and to get along, and that they're always working at one or the other, and that government should most probably stay out of the way and let them get on with it. But, he added, there is such a thing as liberalism, and it may be reduced to these saddest of words: " . . . and yet . . . "

The right is mooing about faith, the left is mooing about change, and many are incensed about the fools on the other side—but, at the end of the day, they are the same folks we meet at the water cooler. Happy election season.,374064,374064,1.html
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« Reply #79 on: March 16, 2008, 09:06:51 PM »

Earmarks as Usual
March 15, 2008; Page A10
For Congressional Appropriators, Thursday night's vote cashiering the earmark moratorium was an embarrassment of riches, with some 71 Senators endorsing Capitol Hill's spending culture. For everyone else, it was merely embarrassing.

The amendment, sponsored by Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), would have imposed a one-year earmark freeze, and it seemed to be gaining momentum earlier in the week, even cheered on by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But the Appropriations empire struck back, twisting every arm to preserve its spending privileges. The measure was voted down after being ruled "non-germane" to the budget. That's as good a measure as any of the Congressional mentality: Apparently earmarks, which totaled $18.3 billion for 2008, aren't relevant to overall spending.

Just three Republican Appropriators voted for the amendment, including surprise support from longtime skeptic Mitch McConnell. No such shockers from the Democrats, with all Appropriators going against and only six Senators bucking the party line, especially Missouri's Claire McCaskill, one of the more courageous antipork champions.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton no doubt backed the moratorium to insulate themselves against one of John McCain's signature themes. But they're also bending to the broader political winds. In an election year, voters understand the waste and corruption that pork enables, leading even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to say, "I'm losing patience with earmarks."

That Mr. McCain's Republican colleagues fail, or refuse, to recognize the political potency is not a good sign. More GOP Senators voted against the moratorium than voted for it, proving that they are just as complacent about pork as most Democrats. And this vote comes on the heels of offenses like appointing ranking GOP Appropriator Thad Cochran ($837 million in pork last year) to the earmark-reform "working committee." The Republicans appear to be settling in comfortably with their minority status.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
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« Reply #80 on: March 17, 2008, 09:26:56 AM »

“Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness.” —Samuel Adams

“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.” —Saint Patrick

“Well, Seamus Wright, I’ll keep this brief. On St. Patrick’s Day, you should spend time with saints and scholars, so of course, you know, I have two more stops I have to make. I turned back to the ancient days of Ireland to find a suitable toast, and I think I have found it. St. Patrick was a gentleman who through strategy and stealth drove all the snakes from Ireland. Here’s toasting to his health—but not too many toastings lest you lose yourself and then forget the good St. Patrick and see all those snakes again. I believe that, you know, let those who love us, love us, and those who don’t love us, let God turn their hearts. And if He won’t turn their hearts, let Him turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limp. May you have warm words on a cold evening and a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door.” —Ronald Reagan (17 March 1988) joshing then-House Speaker Jim Wright

“The most unresolved problem of the day is precisely the problem that concerned the founders of this nation: how to limit the scope and power of government. Tyranny, restrictions on human freedom, come primarily from governmental restrictions that we ourselves have set up.” —Milton Friedman

“I was, in many ways, luckier than kids are today. Many parents didn’t have the dough to spoil their kids with material junk. Peer pressure has always existed, but most kids in the ‘70s couldn’t use materialism as a means to express it. No, parents used their limited means to give us only what we needed. And what every kid needs more than stuff is love and stability and a mother and father who are always there for him. Lucky for me, my parents provided an abundance of that. And that was even more valuable than a Schwinn Orange Krate spider bike, the most coveted two-wheeled machine in the history of kid-dom.” —Tom Purcell

“Liberals have for years been talking about how they are really the champions of the Constitution. They’re not, but they talk like they are. And year after year people fawn over their claims and vote for them because they actually believe that acting counter to almost everything the Constitution itself stands for is supporting and preserving the Constitution. The Constitution is a pretty simple document. It says that the federal government has very limited authority. And it goes on to say that every authority not granted to the federal government through it is reserved by the States and the people.” —J.J. Jackson


“The presidential campaign currently underway has missed the historically rare opportunity to engage the candidates for president in a serious discussion about how they would respond to a very likely impending recession brought on by twin banking and currency crises... After all, in 10 months, one of them—either McCain, Obama or Clinton—will be president and quite likely will be facing one of the worst financial and economic conditions of recent decades. Instead, we get yet more discussion on who is for hope, who has experience, and who is better able to answer the phone at 3 a.m. Why not have a novel three-way debate on one of the networks for two hours and see what the three great minds who would be president have to say about what they would do if the likely turns out to happen?... I have the first question for them. Since World War I, economic historians divide the world’s financial history into three parts: interwar (1919-1939); the Bretton Woods period (1945-1971); and the present period. In reaction to the Great Depression of the interwar period, Bretton Woods provided strict regulations of financial institutions. As a result, there were few financial crises. Then we liberalized and deregulated during the present period and have had several deep crises. Questions for the candidates: In 2009, should we re-regulate or not? And should we try to ease the pain of the crisis if it comes or let natural economic forces clear out the dry rot and find the natural bottom? No points for slogans. Extra credit for honest, thoughtful responses. Or we continue with Obama’s people suggesting Hillary is a monster and her people suggesting Obama is a Muslim (and McCain off in the margin somewhere).” —Tony Blankley

“The sub-prime mortgage collapse is another tale of unintended consequences. The crisis has its roots in the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, a Carter-era law that purported to prevent ‘redlining’ —denying mortgages to black borrowers—by pressuring banks to make home loans in ‘low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.’ Under the act, banks were to be graded on their attentiveness to the ‘credit needs’ of ‘predominantly minority neighborhoods.’...[T]o earn high ratings, banks were forced to make increasingly risky loans to borrowers who wouldn’t qualify for a mortgage under normal standards of creditworthiness. The CRA, made even more stringent during the Clinton administration, trapped lenders in a Catch-22. ‘If they comply,’ wrote Loyola College economist Thomas DiLorenzo, ‘they know they will have to suffer from more loan defaults. If they don’t comply, they face financial penalties... which can cost a large corporation like Bank of America billions of dollars.’ Banks nationwide thus ended up making more and more ‘sub-prime’ loans and agreeing to dangerously lax underwriting standards—no down payment, no verification of income, interest-only payment plans, weak credit history. If they tried to compensate for the higher risks they were taking by charging higher interest rates, they were accused of unfairly steering borrowers into ‘predatory’ loans they couldn’t afford. Trapped in a no-win situation entirely of the government’s making, lenders could only hope that home prices would continue to rise, staving off the inevitable collapse. But once the housing bubble burst, there was no escape. Mortgage lenders have been bankrupted, thousands of sub-prime homeowners have been foreclosed on, and countless would-be borrowers can no longer get credit. The financial fallout has hurt investors around the world. And all of it thanks to the government, which was sure it understood the credit industry better than the free market did, and confidently created the conditions that made disaster unavoidable.” —Jeff Jacoby

“In this age, when it is considered the height of sophistication to be ‘non-judgmental,’ one of the corollaries is that ‘personal’ failings have no relevance to the performance of official duties. What that amounts to, ultimately, is that character doesn’t matter. In reality, character matters enormously, more so than most things that can be seen, measured or documented. Character is what we have to depend on when we entrust power over ourselves, our children, and our society to government officials. We cannot risk all that for the sake of the fashionable affectation of being more non-judgmental than thou. Currently, various facts are belatedly beginning to leak out that give us clues to the character of Barack Obama. But to report these facts is being characterized as a ‘personal’ attack. Barack Obama’s personal and financial association with a man under criminal indictment in Illinois is not just a ‘personal’ matter. Nor is his 20 years of going to a church whose pastor has praised Louis Farrakhan and condemned the United States in both sweeping terms and with obscene language. The Obama camp likens mentioning such things to criticizing him because of what members of his family might have said or done. But it was said, long ago, that you can pick your friends but not your relatives. Obama chose to be part of that church for 20 years. He was not born into it. His ‘personal’ character matters, just as Eliot Spitzer’s ‘personal’ character matters—and just as Hillary Clinton’s character would matter if she had any.” —Thomas Sowell

“Patriotism is a species of unity that has some redeeming moral and philosophical substance to it. In America, patriotism—as opposed to, say, nationalism—is a love for a creed, a dedication to what is best about the ‘American way.’ Nationalism, a romantic sensibility, says, ‘My country is always right.’ Patriots hope that their nation will make the right choice. If you read the speeches of leading Democrats before the Vietnam War, it’s amazing how comfortable they were with patriotic rhetoric... ‘Suicide’ might be strong, but the Left certainly amputated itself from full-throated patriotic sentiment. Most Democrats speak mellifluously about unity but get tongue-tied or sound as if they’re just delivering words plucked from a political consultant’s memo when they talk of patriotism... When Democrats do speak of patriotism, it is usually as a means of finding fault with Republicans, corporations or America itself. Hence the irony that questioning the patriotism of liberals is a grievous sin, but doing likewise to conservatives is fine... Better that our politics be an argument about why and how we should love our country, not about whether some do and some don’t.” —Jonah Goldberg

“Obama’s 100-day agenda would be designed, in part, to improve America’s global image. But there is something worse than being unpopular in the world—and that is being a pleading, panting joke. By simultaneously embracing appeasement, protectionism and retreat, President Obama would manage to make Jimmy Carter look like Teddy Roosevelt. Which is why President Obama would probably not take these actions—at least in the form he has pledged. Sitting behind the Resolute desk is a sobering experience that makes foolish campaign promises seem suddenly less binding. But it is a bad sign for a candidate when the best we can hope is for him to violate his commitments. And that’s a good sign for John McCain.” —Michael Gerson

“So now we are in this silly situation, in which at one time Obama was happy enough to remind some that his middle name was Hussein and now it is a slur for other less well-intentioned to do so; in which his wife’s browbeating of America was salve to guilty liberals and now it is considered illiberal to question her assumptions; in which a candidate who rose to prominence as a ‘black’ candidate and garners majority margins of 90% among African-American against a very liberal female opponent insists that he has transcended race and to suggest otherwise is, well, racist. Nothing is new in all this: all candidates expand beyond their base and try to play down their former zealotry, on issues as diverse as abortion to guns to gay rights. But what is unique is that the usual flak that meets a politician’s readjustments and opportunism in the case of Obama is additionally questioned as being racist or at least insensitive.” —Victor Davis Hanson
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« Reply #81 on: March 17, 2008, 11:09:55 AM »

Second post of the morning

“We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.” —George Washington

Quote of the week
“The Democratic party is very close to being the [Communist-controlled Progressive] party of Henry Wallace... Today’s left sees the world pretty much in the same terms as the Stalinists did. What has happened is that it has lost its faith in the working class, so its agenda is entirely negative. They’ve dropped the dictatorship of the proletariat and they all say they’re democrats, but so did Lenin. The vast bulk of the American left is a Communist left and they’ve introduced some fascist ideas like ‘identity politics,’ which is straight out of Mussolini. They don’t talk about the working class, they talk about women and race. There’s not much that they’ve learned from the history of the 20th century.” —David Horowitz

New & notable legislation
Speaking of posturing and preening, Democrats brought to the House floor Tuesday a vote on so-called “ethics reform” —H.R. 1031, which passed 229-182 by dubious maneuverings. The measure creates an independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), no longer self-policing House members but instead relying on an OCE composed of six board members, none of whom are sitting lawmakers. This new “ethics” office could conduct partisan witch hunts against members based on accusations from outside groups and individuals, which could then go forward to the full congressional ethics committee for further investigation. What’s most interesting, though, is that the voting on this purported improvement in congressional “ethics” seems to have itself violated new “ethical” rules put in place by the Democrats—holding the voting open longer than officially specified in order to change the outcome. That’s correct—House Democrat leaders could get this passed only by an ethical violation, and House Republican Leader John Boehner has called for an investigation into the floor actions.

Former Hastert seat goes to Democrats
Bad news for Republicans’ election prospects: Democrat Bill Foster won the special election to fill former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s congressional seat this week, defeating Republican Jim Oberweis with 53 percent of the vote. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen was quick to frame the race as a predictor of the national mood by noting that Barack Obama campaigned for Foster and Oberweis had the support of Hastert and John McCain. “The people of Illinois have sent an unmistakable message that they’re tired of business as usual in Washington,” Obama wrote in a letter. This may be true if putting yet another millionaire businessman in Congress is now being considered a rejection of “business as usual.”

Campaign watch: Fighting for votes
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has stepped out of the decision-making process regarding the unseated primary delegates in Florida and Michigan. Rather than acting like, well, a chairman, and making a decision on the matter, Dean is letting the states come up with ideas on how to fix the mess that could sway the Democrat nomination. Naturally, everyone involved in this process has an allegiance to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Counting the delegates as they currently stand doesn’t make sense to Obama’s supporters, because he didn’t campaign in either Florida or Michigan after the DNC punished the two states for moving their primaries earlier than Super Tuesday. In fact, Obama’s name wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan. Clinton won a majority of the delegates in both states—though she would be well advised not to crow too much about having won Michigan, where her closest competitor, “Uncommitted,” received 40 percent of the vote. Of course, Clinton wants to count the delegates as it stands because she desperately needs every single one she can get her entitled hands on.

Obama won big again in Mississippi this week, 61 percent to 37 percent, putting further pressure on Clinton to do something—anything—to stay in the running. Look for some parlor tricks from Team Hillary as the debate over what to do with Florida and Michigan heats up.

Never one to consider himself a backbencher, professional race hustler Al Sharpton has wormed his way into the fight by threatening to sue the DNC if Florida’s primary results are allowed to stand at the convention. Sharpton has met with state residents who claim they skipped the primary because they believed their votes wouldn’t count. While he claims to have no preference in the race, Sharpton’s move clearly favors Obama. Of course, the current proposal is for a mail-in redo in Florida. As late-night comedian Jay Leno joked, “That’s a great idea, combine the reliability of the people in Florida who count the ballots with the efficiency of the Post Office. What could go wrong there?”


From the Left: The candidates’ race
Geraldine Ferraro stepped down from Hillary Clinton’s finance committee this week after Barack Obama’s presidential campaign objected to comments made by the former congresswoman and 1984 vice presidential candidate. To the surprise of nearly everyone, the offending statement was actually quite perceptive: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” Ferraro said. “And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.” To which The Wall Street Journal responded, “Her remarks reveal little more than a firm grasp of the obvious... There is no disputing that Mr. Obama’s skin color has been a political boon for him to date.” Yet the avowedly “post-racial” Obama campaign decided to dispute it anyway by playing the race card, resulting in Ferraro’s resignation.

In the same “controversial” interview, Ferraro made another statement that again demonstrated uncommon insight: “I was reading an article that said young Republicans are out there campaigning for Obama because they believe he’s going to be able to put an end to partisanship. Dear God! Anyone that has worked in the Congress knows that for over 200 years this country has had partisanship—that’s the way our country is.” Against all odds, it seems that the truth becomes a Democrat’s ally only when said Democrat is losing to another Democrat.

Admiral Fallon resigns Central Command
CENTCOM Commander Admiral William J. Fallon was relieved this week by President Bush for insubordination, although the President had enough respect for his 41 years of service to the Navy that he allowed him to resign. Since taking over CENTCOM in March 2007, Admiral Fallon had built up a significant record of offering opinions and making statements that were at odds with the administration. While a recent Esquire Magazine article probably overplayed the idea of Fallon as “a lone voice of reason trying to forestall war with Iran,” Fallon in fact missed few opportunities to cross the White House when it came to Iran. Fallon also reportedly butted heads with General David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq and a White House favorite, although both Fallon and Petraeus deny any significant clashes. Fallon’s replacement has not yet been named.

The usual suspects made the usual asinine statements following Fallon’s resignation, claiming that he had been fired for offering honest but unwelcome advice to the President. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Stalingrad) said, “It’s distressing... President Bush’s oft-repeated claims that he follows the advice of his commanders rings hollow if our commanders don’t feel free to disagree with the President.” Kennedy, who served two years in the U.S. Army, doubtless knows that subordinates offer disagreements to their seniors in private, not in public. The subordinates then either publicly support their seniors’ policies, or they resign. One wonders how Kennedy would react to his chief of staff disagreeing with him in a Boston Globe article, for instance.

While we are not sad to see Admiral Fallon go given his soft stance on Iran, we do take this opportunity to thank a man who gave 41 years of highly distinguished service to his country. Admiral Fallon was one of the few remaining Vietnam veterans on active service and was the Navy’s senior aviator. His awards include, among numerous others, the Defense Distinguished Service medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal. We wish him well in his future endeavors.

Homeland Security front: Tortured politics
Two security items captured the headlines this week. In the first, Congress failed to override President Bush’s veto of a bill that would severely restrict CIA interrogation techniques—namely barring waterboarding—limiting them to the same techniques used by military interrogators.

The limits placed on the military are designed for interrogating armed combatants in traditional military scenarios. However, even the Army Field Manual (FM 34-52) clearly states that in Low Intensity Combat, “Specific applications of the general principles and techniques must be varied to meet local peculiarities.” Insurgent forces are not protected by the Geneva Convention beyond the basic protections of Article 3, which does prohibit “torture.” Congress and international law are pretty clear on what constitutes torture, and there is no credible evidence that the CIA is violating that limitation in any way. Waterboarding is simply a nice propaganda ploy used equally by Democrats and al-Qa’ida sympathizers to embarrass the President.

The second proposed bill would place more restrictions on terrorist surveillance, while it also fails to protect telecommunication companies from litigation surrounding such surveillance—a pre-condition on which the President has held firm. Civil litigation, and all the civil discovery rules that apply, could quickly reveal and undermine the intelligence capabilities we currently employ. The plaintiff-friendly financial burden this bill could place on those companies that chose to cooperate would effectively end the program. A House vote could take place Friday.

The bottom line: These two bills are nothing but partisan political games designed to fire up the Democrats’ anti-war base. President Bush is right for holding firm, and if they could understand the term, we would say shame on Sen. Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for playing politics with national security.


Profiles of valor: U.S. Army Lt. Peterson
U.S. Army Lt. Timothy C. Peterson went to Iraq in 2006 with the 321st Engineer Battalion and spent a year leading his platoon in route clearance throughout Anbar province—not exactly an easy task. In pre-surge Iraq, jihadis in Anbar routinely attacked coalition forces. Peterson recalled of his earlier missions, “We’d only go at night because it was too dangerous during the day,” adding that almost every night they were shot at and came across IEDs. His soldiers’ duty was to disarm the IEDs.

In the first phases of the surge, the 321st was on 24-hour patrol for days at a time. During one such stretch, another platoon was hit by an IED, which disabled the lead vehicle. Peterson and three members of his unit took their Buffalo MRAP truck and assumed command of the patrol. As they moved further into hostile territory, Peterson’s Buffalo was hit by a series of IEDs, crippling the vehicle and injuring all four occupants. For his bold actions in leading the convoy, Peterson was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and his third Purple Heart. After recovery, he resumed the lead on an arduous patrol schedule. He tells of an Iraq that is vastly improved because of the surge. Soldiers walked freely during the daytime and citizens were no longer afraid to assist them. As he left Iraq, Peterson said, “Things were changing, what we were doing was working... For the people that lived there, there was a transition.” Due to the courage he displayed and the success of his missions, Peterson was also awarded the Bronze Star.

The trouble with Iraq’s money
U.S. auditors reported to Congress this week that Iraq is riding oil revenues to a large budget surplus because it isn’t spending much of its own money. “The Iraqis have a budget surplus; we have a huge budget deficit,” said U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. “One of the questions is who should be paying.” On one point, we agree with the Democrats: “They ought to be able to use some of their oil to pay for their own costs and not keep sending the bill to the United States,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-WV). However, the Associated Press reports that “Democrats say the assessment is proof that the Iraq war as a waste of time and money.” On the contrary, Operation Iraqi Freedom is part of our critical national interest. If one is looking for a waste of time and money, start with practically any other endeavor of the federal government—Social Security, Medicare, counting grizzly bears, etc. As for Iraq, one of the problems with spending the surplus, according to U.S. officials, is that the Iraqi government can’t always allocate the money without it being wasted or stolen by corrupt officials. On that point, we offer this solution: How about reimbursing the $45 billion the U.S. has spent rebuilding Iraq? After all, there aren’t any corrupt officials in Washington.

From the Leftjudiciary: CA court v. homeschool
A California appeals court ruling has created a major hurdle for parents without teaching credentials who want to homeschool their children. In a child-welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and parents who had been homeschooling their eight children, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home. Failure to comply could result in the criminal prosecution of the parents, though State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell promises to not enforce the ruling.

According to the court, California parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children, though they failed to point out the constitutional right the government has to educate your children. The court’s opinion states, “A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare,” quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue. Does this sound slightly familiar? Recall the Elian Gonzalez case in 2000.

A 1978 Cuban Law mandates that parents and teachers raise children with a “Communist personality,” and it forbids “influences contrary to communist development.” The “Code of the Child,” a government mandated handbook for raising and educating children, includes passages such as these: from Article 3—the purpose of education is to “foster in youth the ideological values of communism;” from Article 8—“Society and the state work for the efficient protection of youth against all influences contrary to their communist formation.” Any adult who violates the “Code of the Child” can be imprisoned.

Given the “patriotism” in places like San Francisco and Berkeley, it is fair to ask what is taught about “good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation” in California’s mandated education system. It seems that, on this one, the California court would have felt right at home in Cuba.


Around the nation: Violence for animals
More news from California... Regents at the University of California in Los Angeles recently filed a lawsuit for an injunction against several animal-rights groups in an attempt to disrupt violent tactics used against university scientists involved in animal research. Scientists have reported use of explosives, firecrackers and middle-of-the-night visits by activists who threatened to burn down their homes. Named in the suit are UCLA Primate Freedom, the Animal Liberation Brigade and the Animal Liberation Front, plus five individuals associated with the organizations.

While a legal battle may bring the issue of such violence to the public spotlight, it is doubtful that a court ruling will keep scientists safe. “If killing [animal-research scientists] is the only way to stop them, then I said killing them would certainly be justified,” said a spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. Despite the presence of hired security for one UCLA scientist’s home, he worried enough about his family’s safety that he has given up animal research altogether.

As violence against scientists escalates, so does concern about filling biomedical-research positions. “I do hear scientists say that they have open positions and nobody to fill them because it’s animal research,” said Frankie Trull, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research. We think we’re finally getting the hang of this tolerance thing.

And last...
In the continuing saga of District of Columbia v. Heller, 39 of Montana’s elected officials have signed a resolution declaring that a Supreme Court ruling against the individual right of gun ownership would give their state grounds for leaving the union. It seems that when Montana’s settlers signed a statehood contract in 1889, one of the conditions was that the federal government agreed that individuals had the right to keep and bear arms. If the Supreme Court rules that firearm ownership is merely a state or “collective” right, Montana officials say that the statehood contract will have been breeched. “The U.S. would do well to keep its contractual promises to the states that the Second Amendment secures an individual right now as it did upon execution of the statehood contract,” Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson said in a letter to The Washington Times. The Times also notes that the “collective right” interpretation of the Second Amendment doesn’t hold water in Montana because the state didn’t have a militia in the 1880s. “It’s pretty disingenuous as an argument,” Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, said. “At the time, they had no image of what a National Guard was. But history and logic don’t always prevail in these matters.” Indeed. Our advice to the Supreme Court is that before they upset somebody with their ruling, they might want to consider which side has the guns.
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« Reply #82 on: March 17, 2008, 01:28:46 PM »

Barack Obama insists he wasn't present at his local church when his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, made incendiary remarks attacking America. Mr. Obama also insists he wasn't aware of many of Rev. Wright's controversial opinions.

His claims may already be unraveling. Ron Kessler of reports that on July 22 of last year, Mr. Obama was at Mr. Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ. He was observed in the pews by Jim Davis, a freelance reporter for Newsmax, and was also seen to be nodding in agreement with the fiery minister's remarks. In his sermon that day, Mr. Wright condemned America as the "United States of White America" and said young blacks were "dying for nothing" in Iraq. He called the Iraq war an "illegal" war based on lies and "fought for oil money." The Obama campaign says that the candidate did not attend church services that day, flying instead to speak to an Hispanic group in Chicago. Mr. Kessler stands by his story.

Still more evidence has surfaced that Mr. Obama likely knew a great deal about the content of his pastor's sermons. Last year, the New York Times reported Mr. Obama personally called Mr. Wright to tell him he was being disinvited from giving the public invocation at the announcement of Mr. Obama's candidacy. Mr. Obama explained the move by pointing out to his pastor that a recent Rolling Stone story called "The Radical Roots of Barack Obama" had reprinted excerpts from Wright sermons. "You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we've decided is that it's best for you not to be out there in public," was Rev. Wright's recollection of what Mr. Obama told him.

The Rolling Stone story included the following Wright quote describing the United States: "We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS.... We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.... We conducted radiation experiments on our own people.... We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!... GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS S***!"

At least one member of Rev. Wright's church apparently had her fill of such rhetoric. Oprah Winfrey, a staunch backer of Mr. Obama, began attending the church in 1984. But sometime in the mid-1990s, Christianity Today reports the superstar abruptly stopped going. It may well have had something to do with her desire to distance herself from his fiery speech. Rev. Wright criticized her absence, claiming that Ms. Winfrey has broken with his notion of "traditional faith."

Mr. Obama took a different path. He not only remained in the church, but in 2001, the same year Ms. Winfrey left, had his daughter Natasha baptized by Rev. Wright. The question more and more people are asking is: Why?

-- John Fund

Spitzer's Wanderlust

When Eliot Spitzer was New York's attorney general, he used to bat ideas around with his staff on how criminals could try to evade detection. One day, as Brooke Masters of the Financial Times reports, the conversation veered away from how someone would, say, evade price-fixing laws to how someone might use prostitutes without getting caught. Mr. Spitzer had an instant opinion: "You don't do it in your own community."

That may explain the former governor's habit of using prostitutes on road trips -- whether to Washington, D.C., Texas or Florida. While it's true Mr. Spitzer was less likely to be recognized in those places, he also knew that his security detail was cut by half or more when he left the state -- thus rendering it easier to give them the slip. In addition, as a lawyer, Mr. Spitzer would have known that the state police troopers accompanying him were only sworn to uphold the laws of New York State. A prominent figure in state government told me that Mr. Spitzer may well have thought that if he only purchased the services of prostitutes while violating out-of-state laws, his troopers would be more forgiving if they learned about it and less prone to talk.

As Mr. Spitzer's arrogance, secret life and penchant for perverting the law in order to bully all around him come into focus, it's clear which New Yorker of times past he most resembles: the late Roy Cohn, the nasty underling of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who after his patron's fall from power became an infamous operator in New York legal circles. One hopes that one difference between Mr. Spitzer and Cohn is that the latter continued to do a lot of damage after the McCarthy years. Perhaps we can count ourselves lucky if Mr. Spitzer now disappears into obscurity as a functionary of his family's real estate business.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"This is a psychologically broken administration: exhausted, passive, prematurely aged, self-defeated. It is lying on the mat moaning as its opponents kick it, unwilling/unable to block a blow or raise a hand in self-defense. The indifference to quality of personnel -- always a problem -- has now become the defining characteristic of the administration. The president continues to imagine he is pursuing one set of policies. But because he allows retiring principals to be succeeded by their deputies, and then those deputies to be followed by their deputies, he has passively acquiesced in allowing his administration to be staffed by people who regard his policies as at best impossible, at worst actively wrong. And then he is surprised when his administration does the opposite of what he wished! Of course it does! If you won't steer the car, it won't go where you want!" -- David Frum, former speechwriter for President Bush, writing at

Quote of the Day II

"You have a very unhappy electorate, which is no surprise, with oil at $108 a barrel, stocks down a few thousand points, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a president who is still very, very unpopular. He's just killed the Republican brand" -- GOP Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, retiring this year after 14 years in office, on the political legacy of President Bush.

Bearish on Bush

Perhaps President Bush should be named in the lawsuits soon to be filed by Bear Stearns shareholders over the knockdown sale of their company to JP Morgan for two dollars a share.

In superintending the sale, the Federal Reserve's bogey was bucking up short-term financial confidence -- understandably, it wasn't focused on getting top dollar for Bear's probably still quite valuable, if temporarily unfinanceable, portfolio of mortgage and other debt. And if confidence is profoundly shaky at the moment, Mr. Bush's unimpressive performance at the New York Economic Club on Friday hardly did anything to help. Nor did his brief comments this morning. Ben Bernanke, who in public carefully stays within his lane, undoubtedly would like to shake Mr. Bush by the lapels and shout that if the Fed is left to solve the mortgage disaster alone, the likely consequence will be a collapsing dollar and an inflationary crisis on top of a mortgage crisis.

What could the administration contribute? How about pulling together the incipient bipartisan consensus for a cut in our exceptionally high corporate income taxes? As Chicago fund manager Seymour Lotsoff points out in his invaluable newsletter, currency markets tend to reflect a judgment about "where a rational and unbiased long term investor would choose to place his money. Right now the U.S. is not such a place." With such a tax cut, he predicts, the dollar would "reverse course and head toward the sky."

Some kind of mortgage bailout also seems inevitable, but Washington is profoundly misguided if it thinks what's needed is a bailout that keeps subprime borrowers in their homes. A great deal of housing debt was created in the last few years to give speculative buyers nominal title to homes that they no longer want. The shortest road back from this perdition would be to foreclose and demolish a lot of these houses, with taxpayer money if necessary.

When politicians understand that, they may finally have something useful to contribute. Mr. Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson tout "Hope Now" and other federal initiatives but wonder why so few homeowners are taking advantage. It's because many subprime borrowers only want to get as far away from their houses as possible. Putting to the bulldozer some large, unoccupied housing tracts especially in overbuilt parts of California, Nevada and a handful other states would do a lot more to fix the underlying problem than any heroic action Mr. Bernanke can take through the Fed's discount window.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

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« Reply #83 on: March 18, 2008, 12:44:42 PM »

Liberals: Show Us the Money!

Liberals may rail about money in politics, but liberal groups this year are pulling out all the stops to raise money outside the normal Democratic Party structure in order win back the White House and solidify their control of Congress.

Today, two large labor groups -- the AFL-CIO and Change to Win -- will team up with the left-wing and the housing advocacy group ACORN to announce plans to spend a whopping $150 million this fall. "In '04 the right mobilized its base and its resources," Bob Borosage, a co-director of the liberal Campaign for America's Future, told the Associated Press. "Well, we've continued to build and expand and gotten more enthusiastic and more mobilized and their coalition has collapsed."

Conservatives would beg to differ about that. They note that their own fundraising has finally started to pick up since John McCain became the presumptive GOP nominee. They also say Democrats are wasting a lot of resources on the trench warfare between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over which candidate will win the Democratic nomination.

But there's no denying there's a lot of new liberal money flooding the system. John Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Clinton, has set up a group called The Fund for America, which plans to raise and spend $100 million. Among its heavy contributors are George Soros, who ponied up $2.5 million last year, and the Service Employees International Union, which gave an equal amount.

All in all, liberals apparently have decided to counter what they have long perceived as a vast right-wing conspiracy with a vast financial conspiracy of their own creation. Perhaps that's why talk of new campaign finance reform laws was almost absent from the Democratic Party primary debates this year.

-- John Fund

McCain's Warning to Immigration Hotheads

John McCain has a message for Republican candidates who are planning to run on strong anti-immigration themes this fall. Pay attention to recent election defeats by get-tough candidates and modulate your message accordingly.

Mr. McCain told National Public Radio on Monday that he believes noisy anti-immigration rhetoric helped defeat Republicans in several high-profile border state races in Texas and Arizona. He also singled out Pennsylvania, where Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania lost re-election in 2006, and Illinois, where Jim Oberweis stunned the GOP this month by losing the special election to fill the seat of former House Speaker Denny Hastert.

"Senator Santorum emphasized that issue [immigration] and lost by a large number," Mr. McCain told NPR. "We just had a loss of Denny Hastert's seat out in Illinois. The Republican candidate out there, I am told, had very strong anti-immigrant rhetoric also, so I would hope that many of our Republican candidates would understand the political practicalities of this issue."

Mr. Oberweis lost for a variety of reasons, but his high-octane immigration rhetoric clearly didn't help him as he lagged well behind normal GOP totals in the suburban Chicago seat. As a millionaire he spent big bucks from his own pocket airing an ad decrying how Washington politicians "can't seem to fix" the problem and calling for "tougher sanctions" on employers and illegal immigrants. Mr. Oberweis ran similar ads during his 2004 primary race for U.S. Senate, which he also lost.

Indeed, the Oberweis electoral track record is such that many local GOP leaders are urging him to step aside and allow the Republican he beat in the special election primary, State Senator Chris Lauzen, to replace him when the former Hastert seat comes up again in November. But Mr. Oberweis is nothing if not proud and insists he has a good chance of evening the score by defeating the new Democratic incumbent Bill Foster this fall. Nonetheless, Congressional Quarterly now rates the race in the normally Republican seat as Mr. Foster's to lose.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright drives a wedge into the central contradiction of Obama's campaign -- an orthodox liberal politician who rose to prominence in a left-wing milieu in Chicago and has never broken with his party on anything of consequence is campaigning on unifying the country. There is nothing particularly unifying about Obama's past and his voting record. The senator has risen on his words, and will be hard-pressed to talk his way out of his long, jarring association with the gleefully divisive Rev. Wright" -- National Review editor Rich Lowry.

Putting the 'Super' Back in Superdelegate

Kudos to Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth. When asked recently why he is supporting Barack Obama for president, the first-term Democrat dispensed with the usual civic-minded blather and instead said the Illinois Senator was the best candidate to help him hold onto his seat in Congress. "In my district, there's no question Barack would be better," Mr. Yarmuth told Congressional Quarterly last week. In 2006, Mr. Yarmuth defeated incumbent Republican Ann Northup by fewer than 6,000 votes in a district that usually trends Republican. In that race, black voters made up just 10% of the electorate. If Mr. Obama is at the top of the ticket, "my guess is it will be three-to-five percent higher," Mr. Yarmuth said, which could tip the race in his favor in a rematch against Ms. Northup.

Mr. Yarmuth isn't the only one. CQ identifies four Indiana Democrats who are likely to support Mr. Obama in hopes of saving their seats in Congress. Reps. Andre Carson, Baron Hill, Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth are all freshmen congressmen from districts that could swing Republican in a competitive year.

Naturally, this is music to the Obama campaign's ears. His staff has tried to make a high principle out of the idea that superdelegates should rigidly vote as their districts do -- which, of course, defeats the purpose of having superdelegates in the first place. From 1954 until 1994, Democrats managed to win more than 50% of the popular vote in a presidential election just once, when Lyndon Johnson crushed Barry Goldwater in 1964, despite Democrats' nearly uninterrupted dominance of Congress during the period. Indeed, no Democratic candidate since then has hit the 50% mark, though Al Gore came close in 2000. This history suggests the party base is better at dutifully reelecting Congressmen than at picking presidential winners. Had they learned this history better, Democrats might be sticking with the plan to let superdelegates use their own judgment.

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« Reply #84 on: March 19, 2008, 03:32:07 PM »

Barack Obama's speech on race in America was a tour de force in many ways, but one section made me cringe and deserves some rebuke. There is an expression about ambitious politicians who would "walk over their grandmothers" in pursuit of their goals. Mr. Obama almost did that yesterday.

In explaining why he would not repudiate his extremist pastor, Mr. Obama said, "I can no more disown [Rev. Jeremiah Wright] than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."

Now Mr. Obama’s campaign has made clear that his 84-year old grandmother, who has asked to be left alone, should be considered off-limits to political reporters. But yesterday, it was Mr. Obama who didn't leave her alone when he used her for one of the central themes of his speech. His behavior recalls the time when Bill Clinton regularly trashed his stepfather as a violent drunk as part of his 1992 campaign. The idea of talking about his stepfather's human frailties to advance himself politically struck many people then as a selfish act and a gross distortion of the loyalty family members owe to each other.

-- John Fund

Quick-Draw Dellinger, He's Not

Talk out being outgunned. Former Clinton Solicitor General Walter Dellinger apparently had a bulls-eye on him when he faced the Supreme Court yesterday to defend the crime-ridden District of Columbia's handgun ban.

Mr. Dellinger didn't do himself any favors by taking the most extreme view -- that the Constitution's right to bear arms applies only to members of a militia, none of which exist anymore. He was barely a few sentences into his argument before the Court's conservative majority opened fire. Chief Justice John Roberts asked why the Second Amendment mentions "the people" if it didn't mean... the people? Justice Antonin Scalia followed up with a sermon on the eminent 18th-century English legal authority William Blackstone, who placed a high value on a right to self-defense that likely animated the Founding Fathers too.

But what really had observers buzzing was the intervention of Anthony Kennedy, seen as a swing vote on this case. He quizzed Mr. Dellinger about whether the right of self-defense wasn't at the heart of the Framer's deliberations, given their natural concern for a "remote settler" who needed "to defend himself and his family against hostile Indian tribes and outlaws, wolves and bears and grizzlies and things like that."

Anything can happen behind the Court's closed doors, but yesterday's oral argument strongly indicates that the District's comprehensive ban on private handgun ownership may be headed for history's ash-heap. Gun controllers will be outraged, but leading Democrats, who have all but abandoned the gun-control issue in their pursuit of national majority status, are likely to find some other subject to get worked up about when the Court's decision comes down.

-- Kim Strassel

Grudge Match

Democratic debates are coming back! While some voters might be exhausted from the two dozen that were held earlier this year, others of us welcome their return because the pitched battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has finally gotten interesting.

The next championship bouts look to be on April 16 in Philadelphia, hosted by ABC, and on April 19 in North Carolina, hosted by CBS. Mrs. Clinton hasn't accepted the North Carolina debate yet, but that's likely a formality. The CBS debate would feature Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer, two veteran journalists who so far haven't had a star turn as debate moderators.

As for whether the debates will be worth watching, just consider how contentious the last few weeks of campaigning between the two candidates have been. Given the stakes, that intensity is likely to keep building until they confront each other in Philadelphia. The debate should be an interesting one, but don't expect to see much "brotherly love" present.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"How is it possible that a campaign apparatus that sniffed out Geraldine Ferraro's offensive statement to a local California newspaper (the Daily Breeze, 12th paragraph) did not know that Wright's statements condemning America were all over the Internet and had been cited March 6 by the (reputable) anti-Obama columnist Ronald Kessler? The sermon was also available on YouTube. In other words, how is it possible that a man who has made judgment the centerpiece of his presidential campaign has shown so little of it in this matter? One possible answer to these questions is that Obama has learned to rely on a sycophantic media that hears any criticism of him as either (1) racist, (2) vaguely racist or (3) doing the bidding of Hillary and Bill Clinton" -- Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.

He Saw the Future More Clearly Than the Present

The last member of the great science fiction-writing trio of the 20th century has left us with the death of British writer Arthur C. Clarke at his home in Sri Lanka. The other members were Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

Although Mr. Clarke wrote, co-wrote or edited some 100 books, he is perhaps best known as the author of "2001: A Space Odyssey," which was turned into an iconic 1960s film by Stanley Kubrick. But Mr. Clarke's other books were a treasure trove of predictions in which he anticipated, with remarkable accuracy, everything from communications satellites to the Internet and cloning.

Mr. Clarke had pithy notions about social and technological change. "Every revolutionary idea," he once said, "evokes three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: (1) it's completely impossible; (2) it's possible but it's not worth doing; (3) I said it was a good idea all along." Mr. Clarke also sagely noted that the short-term impact of any new technology tends to be overestimated, while its long-term impact is underestimated.

But when it came to politics, Mr. Clarke was often frightfully wooly-headed. He called President Reagan's missile-defense plans "technological obscenities" and testified against them before Congress. He failed to foresee how Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative would contribute to the Soviet Union's peaceful downfall. He also ignored the lesson of his own novel, "The Trigger," in which a physicist invents a machine that can safely detonate any explosive, rendering weapons obsolete.

In 2000, Mr. Clarke also signed onto the so-called Human Manifesto, which one British newspaper sniffed was "a messy ideological goulash -- a conflicting mess of hard-core individualism, fettered capitalism, left-over socialism, dreamy one-worldism and goofy Al Gore environmentalism."

Still, despite such lapses Mr. Clarke leaves us at age 90 with a body of work that will inspire readers for hundreds of years with the potential of human accomplishment.

-- John Fund

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« Reply #85 on: March 20, 2008, 02:51:03 PM »

Will the Last Republican in New York Turn Out the Lights?

How does House Minority Leader John Boehner know he has an unusually challenging election year on his hands? When even the most recent chairman of the House Republican campaign committee joins the avalanche of GOP House Members who are retiring this year.

Rep. Tom Reynolds, who represents an upstate New York district wedged between Buffalo and Rochester, will announce he's leaving office after a decade of service. He becomes the 29th House Republican to decide the party is unlikely to win back a House majority this year and thus is heading for the exits. Only six Democrats so far have announced they are leaving the House.

Mr. Reynolds only won with 52% of the vote last time, and since then he has endured an ongoing scandal involving the National Republican Campaign Committee he headed until 2006. The committee's treasurer during his time is alleged to have embezzled nearly $1 million because of lax supervision.

Republicans hold only six out of the Empire State's 29 House seats. Now they will have to defend two because of retirements. The seat held by departing Rep. James Walsh is truly marginal, but Republicans believe they should be able to hold the Reynolds seat. It gave President Bush a solid 55% of the vote in 2004, normally sign of a safe GOP seat. But Democrats have found a candidate they think perfectly suited for the district: John Powers, a schoolteacher who happens to be an Iraq War veteran.

-- John Fund

Manna for Document Nerds

What will the bloodhounds be pawing for now that the National Archives has bequeathed its first major document dump related to Hillary Clinton's time as First Lady?

The press for the immediate moment will be zeroing in on titillating details, such as where Mrs. Clinton was on that fateful day when hubby Bill introduced Monica Lewinsky to the Oval Office. But that's shooting fish in a barrel. Investigative reporters also will be looking for promising leads about, say, Mrs. Clinton's contact with the now deceased Vince Foster or her possible meetings with former Democratic fundraiser (and now convicted felon) Johnny Chung.

Meanwhile, those focused on the current presidential race will be trawling for info that would either buttress or dismantle Mrs. Clinton's claims that she was an instrumental policy player in the Clinton White House. Britain's Guardian newspaper was already reporting yesterday that "Mrs. Clinton was a long way from the White House at key foreign policy moments," such as NATO air strikes against Serbia, or the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

Finally expect a brouhaha (which has already begun) over some 4,746 schedule items that have been redacted. The National Archives says this was done to protect the privacy of third parties, but what isn't yet clear is whether the redactions were imposed by Clinton representative Bruce Lindsey, who was allowed to vet the documents before their release. Christopher Farrell of Judicial Watch -- a conservative organization that sued to get the information -- says he doesn't expect to find any "smoking gun," since Mr. Lindsey had "enormous discretion" to redact potentially damaging material.

Naturally, the release has spurred a new round of "Who's More Transparent?" bickering between the Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns. Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson says Mrs. Clinton's public record now reflects "11,000 more documents than the Obama campaign has released up until this point relating to any part of his service especially as state Senator." The Obama campaign, meanwhile, continues to ask why Mrs. Clinton has yet to photocopy and release recent tax records.

-- Kim Strassel

Back In The Game

Oregon is ecstatic right now. For the first time in 60 years the state may hold a meaningful presidential primary.

Stymied in its attempts at relevancy in 1992 and 1996, Oregon in 2000 decided to move its presidential primary back to its traditional placement in May, having found that a March primary was still overshadowed by bigger states. Now, two months before Oregon voters get to decide between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in one of the most competitive primary seasons ever, the state's late slot on the primary calendar has suddenly turned into a virtue.

Mr. Obama, anticipating the importance of Oregon's 52 pledged delegates, already plans to hold rallies Friday in Portland and Eugene -- two of the state's three largest cities. In any other presidential year, Oregonians would likely have known the candidates only from seeing them on TV.

The state's last significant presidential primary came in 1948, when New York Gov. Thomas Dewey squeaked past former Minnesota Gov. Harold Stassen with 52% of the vote, essentially ending Stassen's presidential hopes. Leading up to that primary, between 40 million and 80 million people heard the two Republican candidates debate from a Portland radio station studio on whether the U.S. should outlaw the Communist Party. According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, this was the first and last time a presidential debate was ever limited to one issue.

-- Kyle Trygstad,

Alaska's Changing of the Guard, with Prejudice

Rep. Don Young of Alaska has been cheerfully hauling back pork to his native state for years. But in 2005, he and fellow Republican Senator Ted Stevens were caught promoting the "Bridge to Nowhere," which became an instant symbol for bloated federal earmarks. Then last year, both men came under federal investigation over their cozy ties to companies that often sought earmarks. Mr. Young has spent $845,000 on legal fees related to the investigation, but refuses to answer any questions on the subject.

Senator Stevens has already drawn a primary opponent in his re-election race, and now Mr. Young faces a top-flight challenger: Sean Parnell, Alaska's lieutenant governor. Mr. Parnell hopes to replicate the success of his boss, Governor Sarah Palin, who in 2006 defeated then-Gov. Frank Murkowski in a GOP primary by playing up the corruption surrounding his political machine. Mr. Parnell certainly will benefit from the popular Republican governor's backing. Ms. Palin personally accompanied her deputy to the state election office when he filed to enter the primary.

Rep. Young isn't giving up, but polls show he has only a 40% approval rating and many voters realize that as an ethically challenged member of the minority party his best pork-salting days are probably over.

-- John Fund

Whiz Wit English

A small blow for sanity was struck yesterday when a local regulatory body in Philadelphia ruled that a famous cheesesteak restaurant did not violate anyone's human rights by posting a small sign: "This is America: WHEN ORDERING PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH."

Joe Vento, owner of Geno's Steaks, says he never in fact refused service to anyone who didn't speak English and only put up the sign out of concern that so many in the neighborhood were lapsing into their native tongues when they could have used basic English.

By a 2 to 1 vote, the city's Commission on Human Relations ruled that Mr. Vento's sign did not convey any message that business will be "refused, withheld or denied." The ruling was a surprise because just last year the commission had found probable cause to charge Mr. Vento with violation of anti-discrimination laws. The same panel later decided to charge him only with posting an "offensive" sign.

The ruling comes just days after the U.S. Senate voted 54 to 44 to approve a common-sense amendment barring federal employment regulators from suing small businesses that require employees to speak English on the job.

Senator Lamar Alexander, a sponsor of the amendment, says his goal is to end "frivolous lawsuits" such as one filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Salvation Army and 125 other organizations for requiring English in the workplace except during breaks and lunch periods. Mr. Alexander's amendment would direct the EEOC to spend the money being used to finance the lawsuits to support programs to teach adults English instead.

Senator Alexander is under no illusions that his amendment will now pass the House. Last November, a previous version was approved by both House and Senate, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi cancelled a conference committee scheduled to finalize the bill under pressure from liberal groups. The legislation then died, but not before House Democrats came under withering criticism for undermining the use of English as America's common language.

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« Reply #86 on: March 26, 2008, 12:02:27 PM »

The Lady's Not for Turning

Hillary Clinton has an answer for those who demand that she recognize the odds against her and give up a race that is dividing the Democratic Party. At a news conference yesterday in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, she pointed to recent polls showing her building a commanding lead in that state: "We have to wait and see what happens in the next three months. There's been a lot of talk about what if, what if, what if. Let's wait until we get some facts.... Over the next months, millions of people are going to vote. And we should wait and see the outcome of those votes."

While the Obama camp says Mrs. Clinton can't win the nomination, her strategist Harold Ickes dryly notes that none of the Democratic delegates elected on Obama slates are legally bound to their choice. He also notes that "many things" can happen in the next few weeks to change the dynamics of the race.

Who would argue with that after a year like the one we've had? It took this long for the Jeremiah Wright controversy to explode, and more surprise twists and turns may well be in store before the race reaches the convention.

-- John Fund

Dean's Plea

Radio show host and sometime Democratic Party activist Mario Solis-Marich reports this week that Democratic Chairman Howard Dean has been quietly meeting with Latino DNC members and asking them to step up and "make a call for Democratic unity to Latin voters."

The worry, Mr. Solis-Marich suspects, is that Latino Democrats, who favor Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama by a two-to-one margin, "will prove hard to deliver should Obama take the nomination."

It's true that to remain competitive in Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and a few other states, the Democratic presidential nominee will need a large turnout of black voters. It's also true that to be competitive in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and elsewhere, Democrats will need broad support from Hispanic voters. But there's one big difference: Disgruntled Hispanic voters are much more likely to take a serious look at the Republican candidate, John McCain, if disappointed or angry about the Democratic race. In the hard-math of electoral politics, an alienated Hispanic voter could be twice as damaging to the Democrats as an alienated black voter.

This isn't a discussion Democrats hoped to be having come spring and it certainly isn't one that will boost the party's chances of winning in November. But rest assured, it's an argument Mrs. Clinton's supporters will be using while she tries to claw her way to the nomination.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day I

"Ninety days ago, everybody was talking in warm terms about both the candidates: 'Isn't it wonderful? Whoever's president is going to be great.' It has gotten vastly more polarized now, and that really concerns me.... The bottom line here is that we have a problem, and I think we need to take it off autopilot and try to find some way of resolving it. I don't know any way that is not going to generate some hard feeling and some divisions in the party. But if we do it early, we've got a chance to patch them up" -- Tennessee Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, quoted at on why Democratic superdelegates should get together and settle the presidential nomination sooner rather than later.

Quote of the Day II

"[Hillary Clinton] is being punished, not for one episode of 'mis-speaking' [about her Bosnian trip], but a whole record of dishonesty. In Bosnian terms it's more disgraceful than many remember. In 1992 Bill Clinton ran against George Bush Snr promising to help the Bosnians survive genocide -- then repeatedly went back on his word.... And I shall never forget meeting his Defense Secretary Les Aspin, who said he had wanted to land his plane under fire at Sarajevo airport to at least show some solidarity but was dissuaded by the White House. They told him it would distract from Hillary's healthcare initiative. Now Bosnia has had its small, belated revenge on her" -- columnist Christopher Hitchens, writing in Britain's Daily Mirror.

Democrats Look Into the Abyss

The first evidence that the bitterness of the Democratic nomination contest is eating into the party's chances in November is starting to show up in polls. The latest Gallup Poll finds that maverick John McCain may be just the kind of Republican who can attract disaffected supporters of whichever Democratic candidate loses the nomination fight in Denver.

As Gallup reports, only 59% of Democrats who back Hillary Clinton say they would vote for Mr. Obama against Mr. McCain; 28% of these Clinton supporters say they would cross the aisle to vote for Mr. McCain. Should Ms. Clinton be the nominee, 73% of Mr. Obama's supporters would back her in the fall while 19% would plump for Mr. McCain.

No one expects the number of defectors to be that large come November, after months of efforts by Democrats to restore party unity. In Gallup's historical final pre-election polls from 1992 to 2004, 10% or fewer of Republicans and Democrats typically vote for the other party's presidential nominee. However, as Gallup also reports: "When almost 3 out of 10 Clinton supporters say they would vote for McCain over Obama, it suggests that divisions are running deep within the Democratic Party." Expect the Gallup result to be a major talking point for Team Clinton in its upcoming conversations with superdelegates.

No surprise, then, that many Democratic superdelegates are scrambling to find a way to cut short the nomination fight and informally anoint a winner after the final states hold their primaries in early June.

-- John Fund
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« Reply #87 on: March 26, 2008, 03:45:32 PM »

...And Ryan Seacrest Can Host

It's five long months till Democrats meet in Denver for their convention. The infighting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton worries many in the party. "If we continue down the path we are on, we might as well hand the keys of the White House to John McCain," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri tells McClatchy Newspapers.

That's why many Democrats are discussing the idea of holding a June "mini-convention" in which the party's 800 superdelegates would congregate and put an end to the bruising nomination battle. "There would be a final opportunity for the candidates to make their arguments to these delegates, and then one transparent vote," Tennessee Gov. Philip Bredesen recently suggested.

Significantly, neither Democratic candidate has poured ice water on the idea. Mr. Obama called the notion "interesting." Hillary Clinton did not reject the idea in a conversation with Governor Bredesen. But at least one superdelegate, Leila Medley of Missouri, is wary of a mini-convention. "I'm sure there are a number of us who would get beat up behind closed doors," she says. She has a better idea: "I think what we need to do is get the two of them [Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton] in a room and resolve this."

Now that encounter would indeed be an interesting "mini-convention."

-- John Fund

Meet Chris Cox

While the Democratic slugfest sucks up all the media attention, John McCain will have at least one big chance to move back to center-stage -- when he picks his veep nominee.

Mr. McCain needs to bolster his economic street cred, especially after admitting minimal expertise on the subject. He needs to rally pro-growth Republicans and calm the fears of ordinary voters amid the mortgage meltdown. Who to call? California Republican Chris Cox was on George W. Bush's shortlist eight years ago and didn't get the nod. Now his moment may have arrived, judging by a growing murmur among his GOP fans.

At 55, he's youthful and confidence-inspiring, with ample experience to serve as understudy to a well-traveled 72-year-old. He has a reputation as a serious and sober minded politician. He earned both a law and business degree from Harvard. He's fluent in Russian -- before entering politics he started a company that translated Soviet publications into English. He served a stint in the Reagan White House, then ran successfully for Congress from Orange County, serving nine terms and amassing a strong record as a fiscal conservative and tax cutter. He also led a bipartisan Congressional commission that wrote the book on Chinese technological espionage.

In 2005, he became chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he has walked a careful, and successful, line in eschewing over-regulation while expanding investor information on CEO pay and other governance hot buttons.

Not widely known is a chapter in his personal history. At age 25, Mr. Cox faced the possibility that he might never walk again when a Jeep he was riding in flipped over and pinned him to the ground. His spine was crushed. It took him six months and a steel brace that he wore around his chest before he regained the ability to walk. Today, he still suffers severe pain, especially if he sits for long periods of time, so he often uses a desk that allows him to work while standing up.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day I

"The consequence [of Barack Obama's speech on race], which you can already feel, is an inchoate resentment among many white voters who are damned if they will be called bigots by a man who associates with Jeremiah Wright. So here we go with all that again. And this is the fresh, clean, new post-racial politics?" -- author Christopher Hitchens, writing at on Barack Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright.

Quote of the Day II

"As a Philadelphian, I attended Central High School -- the same public school Jeremiah Wright attended from 1955 to 1959.... I attended Central a few years after Rev. Wright, so I did not know him personally. But I knew of him and I know where he used to live -- in a tree-lined neighborhood of large stone houses in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. This is a lovely neighborhood to this day. Moreover, Rev. Wright's father was a prominent pastor and his mother was a teacher and later vice-principal and disciplinarian of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, also a distinguished academic high school. Two of my acquaintances remember her as an intimidating and strict disciplinarian and excellent math teacher. In short, Rev. Wright had a comfortable upper-middle class upbringing. It was hardly the scene of poverty and indignity suggested by Senator Obama to explain what he calls Wright's anger and what I describe as his hatred" -- Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, writing in the New Republic.

Huckabee's Woes of the Pharisees

Mike Huckabee is as busy as ever since he ended his campaign for the GOP nomination. Invitations to speak and join the boards of various organizations are pouring in. But this week the former Arkansas governor took time to contemplate why he failed to best John McCain in this winter's primaries. His partial answer: his fellow Christian leaders.

"Rank-and-file evangelicals supported me strongly, but a lot of the leadership did not," he told Ralph Hallow of the Washington Times. "Let's face it, if you're not going to be king, the next best thing is to be the kingmaker. And if the person gets there without you, you become less relevant."

Mr. Huckabee has a point. Pat Robertson of TV's "The 700 Club" was a surprise backer of Rudy Giuliani. Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer had kind words for Fred Thompson and Jay Sekulow, who heads the American Center for Law and Justice, backed Mitt Romney.

But what Mr. Huckabee fails to note is that the Christian leaders I spoke with all had passionate reasons for not backing the Baptist minister. Several singled out his critique of President Bush's foreign policy for being "arrogant," and several noted Mr. Huckabee's endorsement of a discredited "cap-and-trade" regulatory approach to global warming. "He's the leading exponent of Christian left principles in our party," one Christian leader told me. Paul Pressler, who led the successful ouster of the moderate leadership of the Southern Baptist convention in the 1980s, recalled Mr. Huckabee was on the other side in that dispute. For his part, Mr. Bauer says he "saw no evidence that [Huckabee] could bring together the three main parts of the Reagan electoral constituency -- defense, economic and social conservatives."

Mr. Huckabee does acknowledge the role of some critics in stopping his march to the nomination. He singles out the free-market Club for Growth for running damaging ads against him in South Carolina, where he narrowly lost the primary to John McCain.

"It was very frustrating to be presented as an economic liberal, because I have a very different record, as an economic conservative," Mr. Huckabee told the Washington Times. His big problem here is that so few of Mr. Huckabee's fellow Republicans in Arkansas agree with him. Only a handful of the state's 33 GOP state legislators endorsed him for president. Blant Hurt, a former owner of Arkansas Business magazine, was brutally candid on the reasons: "He's hostile to free trade, hiked sales and grocery taxes, backed sales taxes on Internet purchases, and presided over state spending going up more than twice the inflation rate."

Rather than blame shadowy "kingmakers" in the Republican Party, it's time Mr. Huckabee acknowledged that for all of his rhetorical gifts, he wasn't able to close the sale with conservative leaders -- both Christian and others -- who examined his record closely.

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« Reply #88 on: March 27, 2008, 09:33:14 AM »

We don’t call him “Baghdad Jim” for nothing; Plus: Another treacherous CAIR official
By Michelle Malkin  •  March 26, 2008 07:18 PM

When I lived in Seattle, he was well-known as “Baghdad Jim McDermott” and the name has stuck over the years.
With good reason. Back in 2002, Stephen Hayes reported on how Baghdad Democrats David Bonior, Jim McDermott, and Mike Thompson took a trip to Iraq in the run up to the invasion and followed up with a report on how Saddam’s cash paid for the junkets.
Now, the AP has a new report on the payments:
Federal prosecutors say Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion.
An indictment in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.
In exchange, Al-Hanooti allegedly received 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.
The lawmakers are not mentioned but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. There was no indication the three lawmakers knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.
“There was no indication the three lawmakers knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam?”
Debbie Schlussel has the lowdown on the al-Hanooti case:
For at least six years, I’ve been asking why the Justice Department–specifically the Islamo-pandering parade of U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Michigan–were breaking pita with officials of LIFE for Relief and Development, including Muthanna Al-Hanooti.
Today, Al-Hanooti, a former chief of CAIR-Michigan was indicted for acting as a spy for Saddam Hussein in America. (And–shocker–he has a second wife and family in Iraq.) To me and anyone who followed the story and read a newspaper, that isn’t news. In fact, the indictment is far too little, far too late. The indictment says that a trip taken by three Congressmen–liberal Democrats Jim McDermott, David Bonior, and Jim Thompson–to Iraq in 2002, was funded by Saddam Hussein, using a third party to arrange the financing, and Al-Hanooti to put the trip together. Again, not news, since I wrote about it repeatedly on this site and also in The New York Post as far back as 2003.
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« Reply #89 on: March 28, 2008, 02:11:12 PM »

Are Democrats overrating the political appeal of a federal housing bailout?

Rep. Tom Feeney, from Florida of all places, called us this week to slam House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank's draft mortgage bill. Although Mr. Feeney represents more than 70 miles of coastline in a state that is ground zero in the housing downturn, he calls a taxpayer-financed rescue a "terrible idea." During the Easter recess, Mr. Feeney has been strolling along Daytona Beach talking to voters. His findings are bracing. "My constituents for the most part have no sympathy for the lenders, and they are not terribly sympathetic with borrowers who made bad decisions," he says. In fact, relief for borrowers is not even at the top of the list of housing concerns. He hears more complaints about high property taxes based on bubble-era assessments.

Mr. Feeney says his constituents realize that most of the pending plans to help strapped borrowers will benefit a relative few, while raising costs for all borrowers. Mr. Feeney says of a specific plan to let bankruptcy judges knock down the loan amount due on a house: "The percentage of people who will benefit is minuscule. The other 99.5% of Americans will pay for it."

-- James Freeman

Reading the Matchup Tea Leaves

The argument rages over whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would do better against John McCain in the fall. Nationally, the two fare about the same, with the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showing Mr. Obama leading Mr. McCain by 2 points, and Mr. McCain slightly ahead of Mrs. Clinton, results that are all within the margin of error.

But the results vary dramatically from state to state. In Pennsylvania, Mr. McCain picks up a lot of the old Reagan Democrats in a matchup with Mr. Obama, putting that state in play even though it hasn't voted for a Republican for president in 20 years. The latest Susquehanna Poll finds Mr. McCain leads Mr. Obama by four points, but trails Hillary Clinton in a fall matchup by three points.

In Connecticut, the results are dramatically different. Mr. McCain has a fighting chance against Mrs. Clinton, trailing her by only 45% to 42%. Against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain certainly benefits from an endorsement by independent Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat. But it's a different story when the Arizonan is paired up against Mr. Obama -- he loses by a whopping 52% to 35%. The reason? Mr. Obama is phenomenally popular with voters under age 35 -- he gets almost three quarters of their votes.

But a big caveat for Mr. Obama is the past pattern of younger enthusiasts drifting off before Election Day and failing to vote. Should Mr. Obama be the Democratic nominee, he will need to make sure his young supporters don't exhaust the "audacity of hope."

-- John Fund


A letter of protest from some of Hillary Clinton's big donors to Nancy Pelosi has stirred up the "She can't win, why is she running?" caucus in the media one more time.

But the premise is false. Neither Mrs. Clinton nor Barack Obama can win on pledged delegates, and party rules prescribe that the deciding votes fall to the superdelegates. Mrs. Clinton's donors, led by New York financier Steven Rattner and media mogul Robert Johnson, yesterday wrote to the House Speaker and rightly demanded that she stop trying to fix the outcome by insisting superdelegates must follow the popular vote in their states or districts and vote (in effect) for Barack Obama.

That's not what party rules say, specifically empowering superdelegates to make up their own minds. One who is ironically unimpressed by Ms. Pelosi's reasoning is Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr., possessed of one of the most powerful Democratic names in the state. He plans to endorse Mr. Obama today despite polls showing Mrs. Clinton leading by double digits in Pennsylvania.

Of course, the pro-Clinton letter writers weren't about to highlight the real problem. The most influential superdelegates, such as Ms. Pelosi and Al Gore, should simply stop being so coy and throw their lot behind a candidate, while urging their fellow superdelegates to do the same. They could settle this race now if they are so concerned about it dragging out. The likely result would be to put Mr. Obama over the top, but at least rank-and-file voters in the coming primaries would know where the superdelegates stand.

Then again, don't discount the possibility that Mr. Gore and Ms. Pelosi don't want the stalemate to end. Each would play a starring role at the most dramatic convention in decades. In a total breakdown, they might even end up being drafted for a party unity ticket.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Mugabe's Election Farce

Independent surveys show Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with only 20% support as the country heads toward a March 29 election in the midst of an economic nightmare in which 80% of the population lacks a regular job.

But no one expects Mr. Mugabe to lose. He has gerrymandered districts to ensure his rural supporters carry much more weight in the election. Then there's the vote fraud he is actively promoting. Tendai Biti, secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, says leaked documents from the government's security printers show nine million ballots have been ordered for the 5.9 million people registered to vote on Saturday. Under amended laws, police will also be allowed to go into polling booths to "assist" illiterate people in voting -- a clear violation of Mr. Mugabe's previous pledges not to have police moonlight as election officials.

Then there are the voter rolls themselves, which are stuffed with the names of the dead or nonexistent. The London Times reports one electoral register included people born in 1900 and 1901, along with a former minister of justice who died a quarter-century ago. Mugabe opponents say these "ghost voters" will give the government a ready means of stuffing ballot boxes.

Before the last election, Mugabe critics were able to obtain voter rolls for 12 districts. An independent analysis found that 45% of the named individuals didn't exist. This year, the government has kept the voter rolls under lock and key.

It's true Mr. Mugabe only won 54% of the vote in the last rigged election, and strongmen ranging from Slobodan Milosevic and Hugo Chavez have in the past miscalculated the amount of fraud necessary to steal an election. But few in Zimbabwe doubt that the wily 84-year-old Mr. Mugabe will stop at nothing in order to maintain his grip on power.
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« Reply #90 on: March 31, 2008, 11:28:42 AM »

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate - look to his character...” —Noah Webster

“What, really, is Mrs. Clinton doing? She is having the worst case of cognitive dissonance in the history of modern politics. She cannot come up with a credible, realistic path to the nomination. She can’t trace the line from ‘this moment’s difficulties’ to ‘my triumphant end.’ But she cannot admit to herself that she can lose. Because Clintons don’t lose. She can’t figure out how to win, and she can’t accept the idea of not winning. She cannot accept that this nobody from nowhere could have beaten her, quietly and silently, every day. (She cannot accept that she still doesn’t know how he did it!) She is concussed. But she is a scrapper, a fighter, and she’s doing what she knows how to do: scrap and fight. Only harder.” —Peggy Noonan

“Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near. Last week, an important Clinton adviser...[said] that Clinton had no more than a 10 percent chance of getting the nomination. Now, she’s probably down to a 5 percent chance. Five percent. Let’s take a look at what she’s going to put her party through for the sake of that 5 percent chance: The Democratic Party is probably going to have to endure another three months of daily sniping. For another three months, we’ll have the Carvilles likening the Obamaites to Judas and former generals accusing Clintonites of McCarthyism... We’ll have campaign aides blurting ‘blue dress’ and only-because-he’s-black references as they let slip their private contempt. For three more months (maybe more!) the campaign will proceed along in its Verdun-like pattern. There will be a steady rifle fire of character assassination from the underlings, interrupted by the occasional firestorm of artillery when the contest touches upon race, gender or patriotism. The policy debates between the two have been long exhausted, so the only way to get the public really engaged is by poking some raw national wound... And all this is happening so she can preserve that 5 percent chance. When you step back and think about it, she is amazing. She possesses the audacity of hopelessness.” —David Brooks

“Hillary is being ‘swiftboated’! She claimed that she came under sniper fire when she visited in Bosnia in 1996, but was contradicted by videotape showing her sauntering off the plane and stopping on the tarmac to listen to a little girl read her a poem. Similarly, John Kerry’s claim to heroism in Vietnam was contradicted by 264 Swift Boat Veterans who served with him. His claim to having been on a secret mission to Cambodia for President Nixon on Christmas 1968 was contradicted not only by all of his commanders—who said he would have been court-martialed if he had gone anywhere near Cambodia—but also the simple fact that Nixon wasn’t president on Christmas 1968. In Hillary’s defense, she probably deserves a Purple Heart about as much as Kerry did for his service in Vietnam. Also, unlike Kerry, Hillary acknowledged her error, telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: ‘I was sleep-deprived, and I misspoke.’ (What if she’s sleep-deprived when she gets that call on the red phone at 3 a.m., imagines a Russian nuclear attack and responds with mutual assured destruction? Oops. ‘It proves I’m human.’)” —Ann Coulter


“It being a free country and all, no one has to have a ‘conversation’ he doesn’t want to have, a fact that explains our longstanding non-conversation on race: the one we’re going to continue not having, never mind the pundits and Barack Obama. A conversation has at least two participants. That’s one more than most American liberals desire. A liberal, black or white, doesn’t by and large want an exchange of viewpoints on racial questions of consequence. What he wants is a microphone and an audience—preferably white, but he’ll take what he can get. This audience he proposes to instruct as to the collective iniquity of white America in its dealings with non-white America. That isn’t all he wants. He wants utter silence from the audience. No back talk. You couldn’t characterize a one-sided lecture as ‘conversation,’ and yet it’s pretty much what we get every time the matter of race intrudes itself into public affairs.” —William Murchison

“There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” —Booker T. Washington

“The spendthrifts who mangled America with the nightmare of double-digit inflation, record interest rates, unfair tax increases, too much regulation, credit controls, farm embargoes, gas lines, no-growth at home, weakness abroad, and phony excuses about ‘malaise’ are the last people who should be giving sermonettes about fairness and compassion... Believe me, you cannot create a desert, hand a person a cup of water, and call that compassion. You cannot pour billions of dollars into make-work jobs while destroying the economy that supports them and call that opportunity. And you cannot build up years of dependence on government and dare call that hope.” —Ronald Reagan

“Sixteen months ago, Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, published ‘Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism.’ The surprise is that liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives. If many conservatives are liberals who have been mugged by reality, Brooks, a registered independent, is, as a reviewer of his book said, a social scientist who has been mugged by data. They include these findings:—Although liberal families’ incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).—Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.—Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.—Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.—In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.—People who reject the idea that ‘government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality’ give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.” —George Will

“Two weeks ago, the story came from a town with a college that has been a leading force in the advancement of Christian civilization for 900 years: Oxford, England... It seems that authorities at the Oxford Central Mosque have requested permission to use loadspeakers to blast the call to prayer five times a day from atop their minaret across the town that has heard for the past 900 summers, falls, winters and springs only the bells of the local churches. Unsurprisingly, the Church of England’s bishop for Oxford, the Right Rev. John Pritchard, has announced his support, calling on his congregation to ‘enjoy community diversity.’ He would be a likely successor to the current archbishop of Canterbury, who called for Shariah law for England recently. Perhaps surprisingly, two Englishmen stepped forward to oppose the proposal: professor Allan Chapman, an Oxford University historian, and Charlie Cleverly, the rector of St. Aldates Church in the heart of Oxford. ‘I don’t have any problem with Islam, but don’t force it on the people. I’m a liberal; I want to be inclusive, but I don’t want to be walked over,’ stated the professor. The Anglican rector of St. Aldates was a bit more blunt: ‘It is common knowledge, though few will say it, that radical Islam has a program to take Europe, take England and take Oxford. In this strategy, some say the prayer call is like a bridgehead, spreading to other mosques in the city.’ As if to support this politically incorrect assertion, Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain rejected the complaint dismissively, asserting that the ‘call to prayer will be part of Britain and Europe in the future.’... England, in her tolerance, has admitted into her midst—and given succor—those who loathe her. But more loathsome yet are the natural born Englishmen—most in high places—who have forgotten the simple truth of [a] World War II song: ‘There’ll always be an England, And England shall be free, If England means as much to you, As England means to me’.” —Tony Blankley

“Freedom is not a natural state—otherwise more people would be free. Tyranny, oppression, dictatorship and the denial of human rights are the norm for much of the planet. Mankind’s lower nature dictates that far too many seek to reduce others to servitude in order to elevate themselves. President Bush has repeatedly said that freedom is a God-given right that resides in the heart of every human. Maybe, but sometimes one must fight to extract it from the hardened hearts of others who want it exclusively for themselves. Looking at the faces of those who have fallen and driving by Arlington National Cemetery, I am reminded of the cost of freedom. Those who died allow me to travel freely. Those who sacrificed everything invested in freedom for my family and yours so that we can all live our lives where we choose to live them and worship where, and however, we please. These are freedoms most of the world can only dream about.” —Cal Thomas

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“As a career military officer, I have no doubt that anti-war media rhetoric and ‘pollaganda’ have needlessly contributed to the deaths of soldiers and to the lessening of our nation’s defense. However, I am concerned about Mark Alexander’s claim in Democrats, more ‘aid and comfort’ to the enemy that General Giap attributed his victory in part Leftists influence on American public opinion. The web is full rumors run without checking, often becoming resurrected after a trip around the world. It would seem that Urban Legends refutes the Giap assertion.” —Houston, Texas

Publisher’s Reply: Most of the urban legends circulating refer to false claims about Giap’s “memoirs” and claims that he directly implicated that John Kerry’s cadre played a role in brining down the U.S. I did not make either claim. The facts are not derived from Internet e-mails propagating urban legends. We know that Giap knew full well the value the Kerry/Fonda cadres had in undermining U.S. war fighting resolve, and we also know that Giap, a faithful Communist, would not single out such efforts from fellow Socialists in this country, during a CBS interview. Additionally, in a 1996 CNN interview Giap stated, “And [after Tet] the Americans had to back down and come to the negotiating table, because the war was not only moving into the cities, to dozens of cities and towns in South Vietnam, but also to the living rooms of Americans back home for some time. And that’s why we could claim the achievement of the objective.” I do not have to tell you who was bringing defeatist propaganda “into the living rooms of Americans back home,” and which side of the war they were on.

More to the point, in a 1995 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Bui Tin, a communist contemporary of Giap and Ho Chi Minh, who was serving as an NVA colonel assigned to the general staff at the time Saigon fell, had this to say about the Leftmedia and Soviet puppets like “Hanoi” Jane Fonda: “[They were] essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses.” Bui stated further, “Those people represented the conscience of America. The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor...[T]hrough dissent and protest [America] lost the ability to mobilize a will to win.” Make no mistake, Giap and Bui know “aid and comfort” from those, ostensibly, on our side.
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« Reply #91 on: March 31, 2008, 11:39:25 AM »

Second post of the AM

The Conspiracy Conspiracy

Give Hillary Clinton credit for a willingness to confront her adversaries and often besting them. Take last week's memorable meeting between her and Richard Mellon Scaife, the Pittsburgh billionaire who bankrolled much of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that bedeviled her husband before the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998.

Mr. Scaife, owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, wrote a publisher's letter on Sunday in which he made clear his "very favorable" impressions of the former First Lady after she stopped by for an editorial board session prior to the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.

"It was so counterintuitive, I just thought it would be fun to do," she told the group. Mr. Scaife reports that "the room erupted in laughter. Her remark defused what could have been a confrontational meeting."

Mrs. Clinton spent 90 minutes at the paper and clearly scored points. "Walking into our conference room, not knowing what to expect, took courage and confidence," wrote Mr. Scaife. "Not many politicians have political or personal courage today.... I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today than before last Tuesday's meeting -- and it's a very favorable one indeed.... Her answers were thoughtful, well-stated, and often dead-on."

Mr. Scaife made it clear he wasn't endorsing Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primary, but he left open that possibility after his paper's editorial board meets with Barack Obama. Should that stunning event happen, you can bet the vast left-wing blogging community will create new conspiracy theories to explain the Hillary-Scaife alliance of convenience.

-- John Fund

Rhymes with Vice President

Had Al Gore carried his home state, he would have been sworn in as the 43rd president irrespective of what happened in Florida. Maybe that's why Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is now getting a serious look as a possible Democratic vice presidential candidate.

To win in November, Democrats need to upend the electoral map and win in formerly Republican territory. Mr. Bredesen has several qualities that make him attractive, especially facing an opponent with the cross-over appeal of John McCain: Mr. Bredesen hails from outside the Beltway, has a fiscally conservative record and has shown a willingness to run against the party's left-wing orthodoxy. First elected in 2002, he made his political bones by trimming the state's health-care entitlement program -- TennCare -- which was then eating up a third of the state's budget. He was blasted by Sen. Ted Kennedy, but won plaudits from voters for not trying to solve the budget mess by introducing a state income tax, as his predecessor, Republican Gov. Don Sundquist, did.

Lately Mr. Bredesen has emerged on the national stage with a novel solution to his party's Presidential nomination impasse -- he wants the party's superdelegates to meet in June in a mini-convention to settle on either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Some political analysts -- Larry Sabato, for one -- discount the idea of Mr. Bredesen for veep. But if some version of Mr. Bredesen's idea is adopted and he spares the party a divisive national convention, the eventual nominee will have reason to thank him for his levelheaded intervention. Plus, there's always those 11 Tennessee electoral votes that would have put Al Gore in the White House.

-- Brendan Miniter


Predictably, Democrats exploded when EPA chief Stephen Johnson last week decided to open to public comment the question of how the agency should respond to a Supreme Court decision saying it must consider whether to regulate carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Said Nancy Pelosi's point-man on global warming, Ed Markey: "This is the latest quack from a lame-duck EPA intent on running out the clock on the entire Bush Presidency without doing a thing to combat global warming."

Mr. Markey's crocodile outrage is just a huge exercise in buck-passing. The Democrats haven't themselves pasted together a global-warming bill. It's much easier to blame the Bush Administration than to do the hard work of passing actual legislation -- and accepting the consequences. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA has to decide if carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and if so, to regulate emissions. That process is underway. In refusing to act the imperial bureaucrat, Mr. Johnson deserves credit for not inventing a carbon regime out of whole cloth -- though it would have served Democrats in Congress right, since they would have been the first target for voters angry over rapid hikes in their energy bills.

Mr. Johnson's issuance of a so-called Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking may even prove a landmark in public education. The global-warming chorus has proceeded without any serious cost-benefit analysis. Whatever the truth about a human contribution to climate change, the costs of carbon controls would be vast, and the benefits to the American people or the global atmosphere would be negligible or non-existent -- usually a political non-starter when you get down to it.

-- Joseph Rago

Irony Curtain

Canada may now have a Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but you'd never know it from the programming on CBC, the country's national public broadcaster.

Last night Canadians had inflicted on them the first part of a two-part miniseries called "Trojan Horse." It's the story of how Canadians were bamboozled into voting by the slimmest of margins into surrendering their sovereignty and merging with the superpower to the south. The Maple Leaf flag is lowered, and the nation's ten proud provinces are dismembered and turned into six U.S. states.

Watching this in horror is former Canadian Prime Minister Tom McLaughlin (played by Tom Gross). Intent on revenge against the new U.S. Empire, he conspires with three European nations to run as an independent for President and restore Canada to its rightful place. Meanwhile, a British journalist (played by Greta Scacchi) is targeted for assassination by sinister intelligence agents after she uncovers a computer program designed to fix the vote in U.S. elections. She wonders if the vote to end Canada's independence was similarly manipulated. She joins forces with Mr. McLaughlin in hopes of uncovering the deep corruption at the heart of the administration of U.S. President Stanfield (Tom Skerritt), who plans to invade Saudi Arabia in order to cut off China's oil supply.

While I have no doubt "Trojan Horse" is entertaining, maybe its airing helps explain why relations between the two countries are frostier than they used to be. Canada's media has been unrelentingly hostile towards U.S. administrations for most of the past three decades and now even its popular culture has been turned into a vehicle for paranoid fantasies that portray the U.S. as a new "evil empire."

-- John Fund

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« Reply #92 on: April 05, 2008, 11:01:47 AM »

- Mad as Hell
- Mentioning Portman
- The Middle Rich (Quote of the Day)
- The Edwards Distraction

Ferraro Takes No Bull

Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic Party's 1984 presidential candidate, is still
smarting from attacks leveled against her last month for suggesting that Barack
Obama owes his meteoric political rise partly to his skin color.

She was at Fox News in New York last night to comment on the suspension of Air
America liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes for her comments this week  calling both
Ms. Ferraro and Hillary Clinton "whores" and for comparing Ms. Ferraro to "David
Duke in drag."

Ms. Ferraro told me in the green room that she doesn't miss having stepped down from
Mrs. Clinton's fundraising committee as a result of the controversy, but the charge
of racism rankles her. She is contemplating legal action against Ms. Rhodes because
her words "were clearly inflammatory.... they come on top of the threats I've been
getting for weeks."

Ms. Ferraro says her comments have been twisted completely out of context. She
showed me a Chicago Tribune article from June 2005. It reported that Mr. Obama
himself had "bluntly noted" that if he were white, "he would simply be one of nine
freshman senators almost certainly without a multi-million-dollar book deal and a
shred of celebrity. Nor would he have been elected at all." Mr. Obama summed up his
good fortune by telling the Tribune: "I was not a child of the civil rights
movement. I was a beneficiary of the civil rights movement."

Given those comments, Ms. Ferraro says it is the height of hypocrisy for the Obama
campaign to stir up criticism of her. "David Axelrod, who's his white campaign
manager, has played this race card time and time and time again," Ms. Ferraro told
Hannity & Colmes last night. "I've had attempts to have me fired, threats.... [The
Obama campaign] can just say 'OK, that's it. No more of this stuff.' Once they stop
it, I stop."

-- John Fund

Mr. Humble

Although he appears on many short lists to become John McCain's running mate, former
Bush budget director Rob Portman downplays his chances so much that reporters are
starting to believe there may be something to the boomlet for him.

Mr. Portman, who represented Cincinnati in the House for over a decade, was back in
Washington this week for the signing of a bill he had championed to provide released
convicts with job training and mentoring from faith-based groups. As part of his
visit, he endured questioning from reporters about becoming Mr. McCain's political
wingman. One reporter even presented him with a "Vice Presidential Busts" pamphlet
with a youthful photo of Portman glued to the cover.

Mr. Portman wasn't biting. "I am happy being home. I don't aspire to go back to
Washington right now," he told Roll Call. "I think [John McCain's] got a lot of
other really great choices." Among those widely admired potential candidates are
Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Securities and Exchange Chairman Chris Cox,
and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.

But that won't stop the speculation. In many ways, Mr. Portman makes a natural fit
for the GOP ticket. He's from Ohio, a key state in any Electoral College
calculation. At age 52, he has had a wealth of experience, including stints as
budget director and trade representative. In the House, he steered a bipartisan
package that made the IRS a more user-friendly place and also won repeal of the 3%
excise tax on telephones, which had survived for over a century after being
instituted as a temporary measure to finance the Spanish-American War.

Mr. Portman may not be lobbying for the job of vice president, but that won't stop
his boosters -- who include National Association of Manufacturers head John Engler.
Columnist Robert Novak claims that Mr. Portman actually tops the short list for VP
above all of "those other really great choices" that the former Congressman takes
pains to praise.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"When people think of the 'rich,' they might imagine billionaire plutocrats
presiding over yacht fleets. Reality shows have made these folks appear remarkably
prevalent. Lost in our obsession with the extremely rich, though, is another trend:
over the past two decades, the ranks of the somewhat rich have also exploded.
Indeed, the 8.4 million American households -- some 7.6 percent of all U.S.
households -- with a net worth between $1 million and $10 million comprise one of
the fastest growing demographics in the country. 'The rich are different from you
and me,' F. Scott Fitzgerald once said. But according to The Middle-Class
Millionaire by Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff, these working-rich households are
not so different from the rest of us, at least in their stated values....
Predominantly small business owners or principals in professional partnerships,
these millionaires 'have achieved the American dream the American way'" -- writer
Laura Vanderkam, writing at

Cancer Talk

Is Elizabeth Edwards getting ready to swap in as the Democrats' new health policy
doyenne? With Hillary Clinton's campaign guttering out, there may be an opening.

First, she gave a speech over the weekend attacking John McCain's health case plan
for insufficient regulation of insurance companies. She further spelled out her
critique on the liberal Web site Think Progress, then on NBC's today show (Meredith
Viera: How are you feeling? Ms. Edwards: I feel great. I have good health care

The point she makes over and over is that neither she (breast cancer) nor John
McCain (melanoma) could get health insurance under a plan that allows health
insurers to continue to reject people with pre-existing conditions. Of course the
McCain camp has nothing to gain by engaging the cancer-stricken wife of a former
Democratic candidate, and it didn't help that McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin
suggested she did not "understand" the McCain plan, allowing commentators to portray
her as sick woman who had been talked down to by a stuffy economist.

Yet the general argument is one Mr. McCain ought to welcome. By shifting the tax
preference so it doesn't favor employer-provided insurance, Mr. McCain would make
insurance portable, so fewer people would find themselves having to reapply for
insurance just because they changed jobs. Secondly, his plan offers a government
backstop for expensive cases.

But the bigger problem is the magical pass Democrats take on the challenge of
relentlessly rising costs. Like virtually all Democrats, Ms. Edwards simply refuses
to acknowledge a long-standing recognition by economists of how our employer-based
system drives costs out of sight by hiding price tags from those who ultimately pay.
Mr. McCain will likely do fine when voters actually look to see which candidate has
a way of addressing the cost problem.

-- Joseph Rago
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« Reply #93 on: April 07, 2008, 11:46:13 AM »


The reason for Clinton strategist Mark Penn's departure from the campaign last night was ostensibly his conflict of interest in representing the government of Colombia's position in favor of a trade treaty while his candidate, Hillary Clinton, was a fierce opponent of the same trade agreement.

In reality, Mr. Penn had to go because the Clinton campaign needs a new strategy. The latest polls show Barack Obama's massive saturation ad buys in Pennsylvania are working. He is now tied with Mrs. Clinton in that state's April 22 primary. Hillary has perhaps one more Hail Mary pass in her and Mr. Penn wasn't the man to execute it.

That job will now go to Geoff Garin, a respected pollster and a man with a reputation for digging candidates out of holes they've put themselves in. In 2001, he helped craft the message that enabled Mark Warner to be elected governor of Virginia, a state that hadn't voted Democratic for president in a quarter century. Many of the leading Democrats in the Senate, from Dick Durbin to Chuck Schumer, have relied on Mr. Garin's advice.

Of course, Mr. Garin would be the first to admit that some candidates are beyond help. In 2004, he was the pollster for General Wesley Clark's ill-fated presidential campaign, an effort that no amount of resuscitation could save.

-- John Fund

Not Ready for Prime Time

First Barack Obama's economic adviser is caught telling the Canadian government not to worry about the candidate's threats to renegotiate Nafta. Now Hillary Clinton's top campaign adviser has been caught dividing his time between promoting a free trade treaty with Colombia and promoting a presidential candidate who opposes the same treaty.

Mark Penn, who resigned over the weekend, was not only top dog behind Hillary Clinton's presidential run but also served as president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, among the world's biggest PR agencies. One of his firm's clients was the government of Colombia, a U.S. ally that has been fighting successfully against a narco-insurgency and serving as a counterexample to the failing radicalism of Hugo Chavez. As such, Mr. Penn saw it as appropriate to meet with the Colombian ambassador to the U.S. on March 31 -- that is, until the union heavyweights in the Democratic camp got wind of the meeting. Then suddenly it was an "error in judgment" and Mr. Penn said so in a public apology.

That's a lousy way to treat a client, especially an honorable one with an honorable cause. "The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable," the government said as it fired Burson-Marsteller. Colombia also said it would "continue its efforts to obtain a favorable vote on the pending Free Trade Agreement with the United States, for greater wellbeing and prosperity for all."

Perhaps in their upcoming debate in Philadelphia, someone will ask both candidates which of their many messages on trade is the one we're supposed to believe. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton, who likes to paint Barack Obama as too naive and untested to be trusted with the nation's affairs, might hold up a mirror.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady

Quote of the Day I

"Audiences project onto [Barack Obama] the personal qualities and political positions they want in a president. They look at Obama and see their hopes and dreams. Glamour is more than beauty or stage presence. You can't generate it just by having a wife who dresses like Jackie Kennedy. Glamour is a beautiful illusion -- the word glamour originally meant a literal magic spell -- that promises to transcend ordinary life and make the ideal real.... Too much information breaks the spell. So does obvious effort. That's why glamour is so rare in contemporary politics. In post-Vietnam, post-Watergate America, skeptical voters demand full disclosure of everything from candidates' finances to their medical records, and spin-savvy accounts of backstage machinations dominate political coverage. Obama's glamour gives him a powerful political advantage. But it also poses special problems for the candidate and, if he succeeds, for the country" -- Virginia Postrel, writing in The Atlantic magazine.

Quote of the Day II

"There is growing evidence that liberals are losing ground among blacks. In 1972, only one in ten of African-Americans identified themselves as conservative. Today, nearly 30% African-Americans publicly and openly identify themselves as conservative. Not Republican, mind you, but conservative" -- Christopher Alan Bracey, author of "Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, from Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice."

His Promised Land Was America

Charlton Heston, who died over the weekend at age 84, once had impeccable credentials for acceptance in Hollywood circles. In addition to his acting talent, Mr. Heston served as a six-term president of the Screen Actors Guild and chairman of the American Film Institute. He backed John F. Kennedy for president in 1960 and three years later accompanied Martin Luther King on his famous March on Washington.

But Mr. Heston began to feel that liberalism lost its moorings in the turbulent '60s and in 1972 he broke with his fellow actors and attended his first Republican convention, explaining to reporters he wanted to be at a place where they "didn't spell America with a 'k.'" He later became a staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan and told Britain's Daily Telegraph in 1989: "Today, I am about as right-wing as a man can be." But he spurned appeals to enter politics, saying: "I'd rather play a senator than be one."

In Hollywood his political conversion did not go unnoticed. He was shunned in many circles when he became president of the National Rifle Association, a job he said was consistent with his "record of supporting civil rights." Blogger Ed Morrissey notes the irony of how "Hollywood turned its back on one of its biggest icons for the sin of supporting gun rights" at the same time the industry was churning "out more and more films dedicated to mass shootings and indiscriminate violence."

-- John Fund
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« Reply #94 on: April 15, 2008, 12:19:03 PM »

-- John Fund

White House, Green House

Our sources in the White House confirm recent news reports that President Bush is now poised to join the global warming brigades. The administration is motivated by two political developments. First, it believes the courts will soon command the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Second, there is a growing sentiment in the White House that acting now will prevent even more draconian steps by a McCain, Obama, or Clinton administration in 2009.

The White House is right to fear worse may be coming from the next administration. Hillary Clinton, for one, seems to relish the opportunity to enact cap-and-trade rules to regulate industry output and energy use. She has even said that "California "has prospered" through its green energy efficiency policies. Prospered? The state is in economic free-fall.

No one should be fooled that anti-global warming initiatives can be bought on the cheap -- despite arguments by Democrats and their environmentalist pals who say global warming laws will be good for the U.S. economy, thanks to all the "green" technology jobs these regulations and mandates will create. Ken Green of the American Enterprise Institute aptly likens this Keynesian impulse to philosopher Frédéric Bastiat's "broken window fallacy" -- the idea that breaking shop windows leaves society better off because it creates jobs for glassmakers. Of course, those glassmaker jobs come at the expense of jobs and output that would have gone to creating new wealth and new goods and services. However, the last thing advocates of greenhouse regulation want to do is submit their proposals to real cost-benefit analysis.

But even if the Bush administration acts this year, it's doubtful a Democratic administration would be deterred from piling on more onerous rules in 2009. Democrats in Congress are content to wait for a friendlier administration. For his part, Mr. McCain has been a global warming alarmist in the past and co-sponsored a cap-and-trade bill. But there may be some hope: "Just as there is danger in doing too little," he says, "there is peril in going too far, too fast, in a way that imposes unsustainable costs on the economy."

-- Stephen Moore and Tyler Grimm

Quote of the Day

"There is even a slight chance that Obama's words in San Francisco could cost him the nomination. Obama is almost certain to have more elected delegates in June than Hillary Clinton, but if he loses Pennsylvania by 15 percentage points (which is not out of the question), that could start a media firestorm around his candidacy that could contribute to other primary defeats and to superdelegate support for Clinton. It's not likely to happen, but after Obama spoke his mind, and, perhaps, lost small-town voters' hearts, in San Francisco, it has suddenly become conceivable" -- John Judis, a senior editor at The New Republic, on presidential candidate Barack Obama's criticism of blue-collar voters for voting on religion and gun rights.

The Horror, the Horror

Albert Einstein once said that the most complicated thing on earth was the U.S. tax code -- and he was speaking at time when the tax code was about one-tenth as costly and time-consuming to fill out as today.

According to the Tax Foundation, the tax code now comprises 67,200 pages. It takes the average taxpayer 24 hours a year to do his or her taxes, and the average small business spends 52 man-hours a week on taxes. Many businesses now correctly complain that the cost of complying with the income tax is higher than the cost of actually paying their taxes -- and that's not counting the cost of a potential audit. Dick Armey, chairman of and the former congressional sponsor of the flat tax, says that tax compliance now costs the economy at least $250 billion a year.

As bad as Tax Day is today, it will get a lot worse for millions of Americans. Five million filers swept up by the Alternative Minimum Tax will soon become 30 million unless the law is changed. Happy April 15th.

-- Stephen Moore

The 'Waterloo' of Italian Communism

The return of Silvio Berlusconi as Italy's prime minister after 20 months in political exile is receiving a mixed greeting by Italian conservatives. On the one hand they are pleased with the sweeping defeat of the left-wing coalition led by Walter Veltroni, a former Communist. However, they recall Mr. Berlusconi's previous two stints as prime minister, where he showed a disturbing tendency to forget his small-government platform, tie himself to vested interests and look the other way at corruption. Italy needs strong leadership, and Italian conservatives aren't sure Mr. Berlusconi will rise to the challenge.

But no matter what kind of leader Mr. Berlusconi becomes, Italian politics has taken a dramatic turn in this election. The number of parties in parliament has gone down to just six, from 26. For the first time in over 60 years, not a single Communist will sit in parliament -- ending the damaging influence that Marx's heirs have long exercised in Italian politics. Indeed, far-left parties were the biggest losers in the election, receiving only 3.5% of the vote, down from 11.5% in the 2006 election.

That result prompted the resignation of the long-time leader of the Communist Refoundation Party, Fausto Bertinott. "It's a complete defeat of unforetold proportions," he told supporters.

"It's a Waterloo," agreed the headline in Tuesday's edition of the left-wing daily Il Riformista. Antonio Polito, the paper's editor, noted sadly that Italian politics will never be the same. "The left is disappearing for the first time in history."

-- John Fund

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« Reply #95 on: April 16, 2008, 10:20:08 AM »


Campaign-Finance Meltdown
April 16, 2008; Page A18
Someone get Harry Reid a handkerchief. On Monday, the Senate Majority Leader sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten lamenting the news that a Democratic nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Robert Lenhard, has withdrawn his name from consideration since the process is taking so long.

This is yet another nail in the coffin of the campaign-finance reform movement. One of its goals has been to reduce the role of "money" in elections, and thereby elevate the tenor of campaigns. Pretty much the opposite has resulted.

Amid a campaign season, the FEC has been languishing without a quorum of commissioners to rule on election-law questions. Democrats created the FEC standoff last year by attacking the confirmation of Bush nominee Hans von Spakovsky. This has mainly increased campaign-finance partisanship, for example by elevating the clout of so-called 527 groups, which run "independent" advertising on behalf of candidates. If you're George Soros, that means spend now, ask questions later. Thanks to Mr. Lenhard's untimely withdrawal, it will probably take "several months" for the Democrats to find a new nominee, Mr. Reid noted soberly in his letter. This means that if there are any campaign-finance violations this year, someone will be fined for it in, oh, say, 2011.

If Democrats really want the commission to get back to business, they should return to the protocol of confirming nominees in groups or in bipartisan pairs. Their behavior suggests what they really want is the politicized breakdown of the campaign-finance system.



Harry's Got His Back

Joe Lieberman is perhaps the most mild-mannered of Senators, but his fellow Democrats are stewing over the prospect of him giving a keynote address for his friend John McCain at the GOP National Convention in Minneapolis. Though nothing appears to have been decided, Lieberman staffers think it very likely that such a speech will be made.

Mr. Lieberman lost his Democratic primary in 2006 but ran and won in the fall as an independent. Because he never left the party and Democrats desperately needed his vote to reach the 51 seats required to control the Senate, he was allowed to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. But Democrats expect to gain seats in the November elections, leaving them free to punish Mr. Lieberman for his apostasy and strip him of his chairmanship. Columnist Robert Novak recently reported that some of Mr. Lieberman's colleagues are salivating at the prospect of punishing him for his pro-Iraq War views.

But Mr. Lieberman is a clever operator and one Democratic leadership aide admitted to The Hill newspaper "the bar would have to be very high" for any Lieberman behavior to trigger much retaliation.

The reason is that Connecticut Joe has a powerful supporter in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who continued to stand by him even after his 2006 primary loss to liberal Ned Lamont. "I can tell you Sen. Reid had talked to me a few times and said he knows there will be talk if we get more than 51 Democrats next year," Mr. Lieberman told The Hartford Courant this month. "As far as he is concerned, I will retain my seniority, et cetera, no matter how many Democrats there are next year."

Indeed, when asked yesterday if Mr. Lieberman's chairmanship would be in jeopardy in a more Democratic Senate, Mr. Reid told reporters tersely: "No."

Nonetheless, you can bet there will be a lot of clenched teeth and tongue-biting if Mr. Lieberman mounts the stage of the Minneapolis convention and endorses a Republican on national television.

-- John Fund

The Long Hello

Peter Keisler, former Acting Attorney General, has gone back to private practice in Washington DC. Why is this job-switch announcement news? Because Mr. Keisler's nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is pending -- and pending, and pending, and has been for two years.

Seeking to disperse the blame, Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy last month attributed the delay to the Bush administration's failure to give enough deference to home-state senators. On an earlier go-round, Mr. Keisler was blocked by Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, on the grounds that the Bethesda resident didn't practice law in Maryland. More recently, Mr. Keisler has been blamed for arguing the Pentagon's case in favor of military tribunals in Hamden v. Rumsfeld. The New York Times apparently decided that doing his job at Justice qualified him as a "hard line movement conservative."

But there's some sign that pushback from Republicans, especially Sen. Arlen Specter, is starting to work. On the Sixth Circuit, a bipartisan deal is now afoot between Sen. Carl Levin and the White House, which nominated Democratic choice Helene White as a package deal with Republican choice Raymond Kethledge. A relative of Sen. Levin's, Helene White is often considered the reason for the deadlock on the Sixth Circuit, beginning when her nomination was blocked by Spence Abraham.

What's more, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday he would hold votes for three of the President's appeals court nominees by Memorial Day. Why the urge to be seen getting something done? Polls show John McCain besting either of the two possible Democratic nominees, and Senate Democrats likely recall how Republican complaints about "obstructionism" on judges helped defeat their then-leader Tom Daschle in his 2004 re-election bid. Nonetheless, Mr. Keisler would be wise to keep his day job a while longer.

-- Collin Levy

Quote of the Day I

"It reminds me of the moment back in 1971 when Richard Nixon proclaimed, 'We are all Keynesians now' -- eight years after Milton Friedman had published his book 'A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960' and about an hour and a half before a consensus built that Friedman's work consigned Keynes to the dustbin of economic history. Now it is Bush's turn to be the last man to join a losing proposition. In how many ways is this proposal not useful? First of all, as Chris Horner, the author of 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism,' shrewdly has pointed out, the Democrats desperately want Bush and the Republicans 'to take ownership' of the global alarmists' issues before he goes. This is important. Whatever restraint likely to be exercised by the Democratic Party majority next year will be induced by the political fear that the Republicans would be able to say I told you so if the Democrats' policies contract the economy and put yet more people out of work" -- Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley.

Quote of the Day II

"In politics, the clearer a statement is, the more certain it is to be followed by a 'clarification.' Obama and his supporters were still busy 'clarifying' Jeremiah Wright's very plain statements when it suddenly became necessary to 'clarify' Senator Obama's own statements in San Francisco. However inconsistent Obama's words, his behavior has been remarkably consistent over the years. He has sought out and joined with the radical, anti-Western left, whether Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers of the terrorist Weatherman underground or pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli Rashid Khalidi. Obama is also part of a long tradition on the left of being for the working class in the abstract, or as people potentially useful for the purposes of the left, but having disdain or contempt for them as human beings" -- Thomas Sowell, a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, writing at

Oberstar in the Way

Oil is at $114 a barrel, airline company profits are nothing but a dream and four U.S. carriers have filed for bankruptcy in just the past month. But House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar will throw his legislative weight in front of the proposed merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines in order to delay the deal long enough so a new president might stop it.

"We have no legal authority to block the merger, but we can continue to raise issues about it and ask the [transportation Department] and [Justice Department] to address them," Oberstar spokesman John Schadl told "Simply put: Jim may be able to run out the clock on this."

Mr. Oberstar, now in his 17th term, plans a blizzard of paperwork and hearings to slow down what he thinks could be a wave of consolidation and monopoly behavior in the airline industry. Executives at Delta and Northwest say their route structures overlap on only 12 long-haul routes and that the new carrier will be able to offer consumers a truly global airline.

But Mr. Oberstar is an old union man -- his father worked in the Minnesota mines for 40 years -- and he's convinced that Northwest, which is based in Minnesota, would lose its identity in a merger and stop flying to small, out-of-the-way towns in his area. Given the global forces buffeting the airline industry, Mr. Oberstar's parochialism strikes many as both short-sighted and paternalistic. After all, the worst airline service a small town can possibly get it is from a carrier that is no longer in business.

-- John Fund

« Last Edit: April 16, 2008, 11:40:25 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #96 on: April 18, 2008, 01:21:19 PM »

Oh Bomber

Bill Ayers, the former member of the anti-Vietnam War group the Weathermen, was unknown to most Americans until this week when ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Barack Obama about his association with the retired revolutionary. Now Mr. Ayers has piped up in his blog to introduce himself.

Mr. Ayers claims on his personal blog that he has been misinterpreted over his infamous remarks that appeared in the New York Times on September 11, 2001, in which he said about the 25 bombings that his group carried out against the Vietnam War: "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."

Mr. Ayers, now a professor of education at the University of Illinois, says that when it comes to "anything I did to oppose the war in Viet Nam... I say 'No, I don't regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government.'" But he also complains that his statements have been "elided" to mean "he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings."

That's a distinction without a difference in my book. He has never retracted his statement to the New York Times and to this day claims to "have never advocated terrorism, never participated in it, never defended it. The U.S. government, by contrast, does it routinely and defends the use of it in its own cause consistently."

All of this raises continued questions about why Mr. Obama refuses to discuss his relationship with Mr. Ayers, even though his campaign recently described them as "friendly." Bloomberg News reports the two men have crossed paths repeatedly starting in 1995, when Mr. Ayers held an organizing meeting for Mr. Obama's candidacy for the state legislature in his home and personally introduced him to friends.

In 1997, Mr. Obama cited Mr. Ayers' work on criminal justice in a Chicago Tribune article on what prominent Chicagoans were reading. For a year after the infamous comments in the New York Times, Mr. Obama served with Mr. Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago.

No one suggests that Mr. Obama has ever endorsed any of the actions of the Weathermen, which occurred when he was still a child. But to this day he won't discuss how he came to know him, why he chose to associate with Mr. Ayers and what he thinks of his current opinions about the U.S. government. All that will continue to fuel questions about Mr. Obama's associations -- just as his continued relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has.

-- John Fund

School of Finance

One of the loudest promises made by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats when they regained control of Congress was to make college "more affordable." Sure enough, a new Democrat-sponsored law aimed to do just that... and now student lenders are dropping out of the business like so many frat boys after the first round of finals. Millions of students are being left in the lurch just as they're seeking help with next fall's tuition.

By one count, some four-dozen student lenders have either curtailed loans to students in recent months or closed up shop entirely. Sallie Mae, the biggest, rolled out its Chief Executive Al Lord yesterday to warn of a "train wreck" in the $85 billion student loan market without a federal bailout.

The broader credit crunch is certainly playing a role, but Mr. Lord laid most of the blame on a Democrat-sponsored law that took effect in October. As part of her "First 100 Hours" agenda, Ms. Pelosi and Co. slashed interest rates banks can charge students in half to 3.4%, leaving Uncle Sam to make up the difference. Democrats also pushed through cuts to the fees the federal government pays to banks for underwriting student loans. "It's not even a matter of break-even. [The lenders] lose money on these loans if they originate them," one financial analyst told Dow Jones Newswires last month.

The Federal Family Education Loan Program likes to boast that it's now the dominant source of college loan funding, making "it possible for borrowers with no income, credit history, cosigner or collateral to get student loans at low interest rates." Talk about subprime. All this federal money is also a substantial reason for the rapid inflation in tuition costs. Every Congressionally-created problem must have a Congressional solution. Pelosi ally Rep. Mike Miller, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, is now pushing legislation through that will both lift the cap on federally subsidized student loans and expand Uncle Sam's direct loan program -- completing Washington's takeover of the business and no doubt setting the stage for bigger meltdowns ahead.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"There is a dearth of talent on the business side of this industry that is shocking to me. No one goes to Wharton and says, 'I want to run circulation at Knight-Ridder.' The business side has let down the journalistic side of newspapers.... I've got some [unionized ad] salesmen who make $100,000 a year and have no interest in making $120,000" -- Brian Tierney, new owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, quoted by former New York Times editor Howell Raines at

The Fiscal Consequences of Divorce

Families that stay together, save together. That's the conclusion of a new study indicating that U.S. taxpayers are forking out at least $112 billion annually, and over $1 trillion dollars per decade, on divorces and unwed childbearing. This estimate is based on federal, state, and local government programs and lost tax revenue.

Says the study's principal author, Ben Scafidi of Georgia State University: "These costs are due to increased taxpayer expenditures for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals whose adult productivity has been negatively affected by increased childhood poverty caused by family fragmentation." Similar work by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has found that children who grow up in fatherless homes are far more likely to have behavior problems, drug abuse, high school drop out rates, and to be in poverty as adults.

What can government do? The Institute for American Values, which underwrote the Scafidi research, recommends modest taxpayer funds to support efforts to decrease divorce rates and unwed childbearing. That may be a waste of money, as these are the types of activities best undertaken by churches and private support networks. The best hope is that the lesson will be taken to heart by the media, politicians and educators, reversing some of the casualness with which divorces are sought and granted. In the 1970s and '80s, a school of thought maintained that breaking up troubled marriages was a win-win. Feminists argued it was a form of women's liberation, the children were better off, etc. But a steady drumbeat of research has shown that in most cases almost everyone is rendered worse off by divorce and separation. That includes taxpayers.

-- Stephen Moore and Tyler Grimm

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« Reply #97 on: April 23, 2008, 12:13:58 PM »

Keystone for McCain

Pennsylvania delivered a 10-point win for Hillary Clinton last night, the same margin by which she carried demographically similar Ohio last month. Since the two states together are vital to Democratic chances in the fall, their primary results provide an important window on how Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama are faring with key voter groups after the events of the last seven weeks.

The circumstantial evidence is that Mr. Obama lost ground among those "bitter" rural voters he described in his infamous San Francisco comments as likely to "cling" to religion and guns.

Mr. Obama lost weekly churchgoers (who made up over a third of Pennsylvania voters) by a clear 58% to 42% margin. In Ohio last month, weekly churchgoers voted 51% to 49% for Mrs. Clinton. Catholics, a conservative social group in both states, gave Mr. Obama only 31% of their votes in Pennsylvania and only 37% in Ohio. No numbers are available for gun owners in Ohio, but in Pennsylvania gun owners turned thumbs down on Mr. Obama by 62% to 38%.

All in all, only 63% of Pennsylvania Democratic voters told exit pollsters they would be satisfied if Mr. Obama won the nomination, down from 66% who said the same thing in Ohio. This translates into an opportunity for John McCain. Ten percent of Democrats said they would sit on their hands in a McCain-Obama race, and 15% said they would vote for McCain over the Illinois senator. That's a significantly higher "grumble factor" than in a possible McCain-Clinton race, in which 6% of those voting said they would stay home and 11% said they would vote for Mr. McCain over Mrs. Clinton.

Given that Pennsylvania voted for John Kerry over George W. Bush by barely two points in 2004, the exit polls in last night's Democratic primary are an open invitation for Mr. McCain to spend lots of time and money in the state.

-- John Fund

Bubbas Off the Reservation?

In another sign that this November may be a rough one for Republican House candidates, the GOP came within a few hundred votes of losing one of its strongest districts in the Deep South in a special election yesterday.

Voters in Mississippi's 1st District, centered around Tupelo, almost committed the unlikely act of electing Democrat Travis Childers last night. He won 49% of the vote against 47% for Republican Greg Davis, who may have only been saved by a smattering of votes awarded to a handful of candidates who had dropped out or belong to minor parties. The two men will now face off in a May 13 runoff.

What worries Republicans is that based on the district's national voting patterns, the race shouldn't even have been close. The 1st District gave George W. Bush a crushing 62% of its votes in 2004, and GOP Governor Haley Barbour has carried it easily in two elections.

The Republican Congressional campaign committee has already spent $300,000 in a district that should have been a free win. Even more precious resources will now have to be poured in to try to prevent a Democratic runoff victory next month. All in all, Republicans are coming to realize just how dispirited their ranks are right now and how important it is for John McCain to gear up a strong campaign that will energize them.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"'Why can't he close the deal?' Hillary taunted at a polling place on Tuesday. She's been running ads about it, suggesting [opponent Barack Obama] doesn't have 'what it takes' to run the country. Her message is unapologetically emasculating: If he does not have the gumption to put me in my place, when superdelegates are deserting me, money is drying up, he's outspending me 2-to-1 on TV ads, my husband's going crackers and party leaders are sick of me, how can he be trusted to totally obliterate Iran and stop Osama?" -- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, on Hillary Clinton's Pennsylvania victory.

China Seeks Return to Maoist Isolation

HONG KONG -- There's a new fight brewing over the Olympics, but it has nothing to do with Darfur or Tibet. It has to do with easy visas for business-class visitors who are used to painless shuttling back and forth across the border from Hong Kong.

The latest Olympics-related kerfuffle is burning just as bright as the torch protests. Earlier this month -- with nary a warning -- China's foreign ministry stopped the long tradition of issuing multiple-entry visas to the mainland, which once made it convenient for the many thousands who routinely go back and forth. Anyone who wants a single entry visa now has to have a return ticket and a hotel voucher. The local Chinese visa agency suddenly has a daily "quota," and once that's filled, you're out of luck. The morning line outside the China visa office now stretches around the block.

Naturally the suspicion is that China wants to block activists from using Hong Kong to enter the country. "Businesspeople need stability to operate and the Hong Kong business community has been thrown into great turmoil as a result of the new and largely misunderstood visa policies," complained U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Richard Vuylsteke in a letter to the Foreign Ministry. The Aussies were more Confucian, calling for "patience" and "negotiation." The Brits are just confused.

Beijing is playing dumb. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims there's "no change" to procedures, while its Web site is silent, too. Meanwhile, business across the world's busiest border is slowing down perceptibly. How ironic if the Olympic games -- meant to symbolize China's emergence -- lead to a paranoid lockdown of China's No. 1 window on the world.

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« Reply #98 on: April 24, 2008, 12:20:27 PM »

Hillary Math

We keep hearing that Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in both the number of elected delegates and the total popular vote cast in primaries and caucuses. But Mrs. Clinton herself makes the argument that she now leads in popular votes in the wake of her 10-point win in Pennsylvania.

It all depends on how you do the counting. Barack Obama's campaign says Mr. Obama has won 14.4 million votes compared to 13.9 million for Mrs. Clinton, a 49% to 47% lead. But yesterday in Indianapolis, Mrs. Clinton hauled out her New Math.

"As of today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anybody else, and I am proud of that," she told a rally. "It's a very close race, but if you count, as I count, the 2.3 million people who voted in Michigan and Florida, then we are going to build on that." Indeed, if you count the Florida and Michigan results, she leads Mr. Obama by 15.1 million votes to 15. million.

The status of the rogue Michigan and Florida primaries continues to bedevil Democrats. Delegates from both states have been stripped of their votes at the Denver convention because their state parties held primaries too early. In Florida, no one campaigned and Mrs. Clinton won a 50% to 33% victory. In Michigan, Mr. Obama's name didn't appear on the ballot and Mrs. Clinton won 55% of the vote. An uncommitted slate of delegates favoring Mr. Obama won 40% of the vote.

Mr. Obama didn't put up a big fuss about Mrs. Clinton's numbers. "I guess there have been a number of different formulations that the Clinton campaign has been trying to arrive at to suggest that somehow they're not behind," he told reporters on Wednesday. "I'll leave that up to you guys. If you want to count [Florida and Michigan] for some abstract measure, you're free to do so." His point was simple: He has more delegates and that's what will count in choosing the nominee.

But at least until Indiana and North Carolina vote in two weeks, Mrs. Clinton has a new rhetorical talking point to make with voters and superdelegates -- if you count every vote cast so far in a recognized or unrecognized primary, she is the temporary leader.

-- John Fund

Big Labor Bada Bing

And the Oscar for best performance in a humorous political ad goes to... Vince Curatola, better known as "Johnny Sack" in the Sopranos, for a new ad about unfair union organizing.

Big Labor has been desperate to replace the system of secret ballots in union-organizing elections with a "card check" method, in which a majority of employees would simply have to sign a card. The Democratic House passed a "card check" bill last year at union bidding, but polls shows a majority of the public hates the idea, recognizing that workers would be subject to intimidation and peer pressure.

In the ad, created by the business-backed Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, a worker walks into a voting booth to cast a ballot. A hand suddenly clamps him on the shoulder and "Johnny Sack" appears in the booth, looking as mobsterish as ever. "Whaddya got there?" he asks. My "secret ballot" replies the worker. "Not any more it ain't," says Mr. Curatola, who snaps his fingers to make the curtains disappear, leaving the man in front of a crowd of intimidating colleagues pressuring him to sign a card.

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace is made up of about 500 business associations and groups across the country fighting card check legislation. It will soon start running the educational ad on national cable stations, and will presumably tailor it for districts of specific Democratic House members who last year voted to get rid of the secret ballot. As for Mr. Curatola, word is he's simply a paid actor, and takes no public stand on card check one way or another. But his menacing mob face is sure to stick in voters' minds come November.

--Kim Strassel

The Pope of California

Arnold Schwarzenegger once did a movie called "Twins." Now he's become so close to his bicoastal buddy, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, they might as well do a political sequel to that film.

The California governor was in New York last week for a round of fundraisers for his ballot initiative that would change the way state legislative lines are drawn in California. Mayor Bloomberg rolled out the red carpet, donating $250,000 to the cause and opening his Upper East Side home for a fundraiser.

Governor Schwarzenegger was in good form at the event, saying that the mayor had at first "pumped him up" at a luncheon earlier in the day by telling a crowd that "we have an important guest in town who speaks with a German accent, has millions of people who hang on his every word and is infallible." Then Mr. Schwarzenegger paused dramatically and delivered the punch line: "You can imagine how I was deflated when he explained it was the Pope!"

Then it was down to the serious business of explaining his proposal to end the conflict of interest that allows California legislators to draw their own districts. Noting that the lines are so carefully designed to protect incumbents that not a single state legislator was defeated in the 2004 or 2006 elections, the governor told the audience: "They just had an election in Russia in which only the people Putin wanted elected won. Well, sometimes I think the legislators back in California have gone Putin one better in making sure the people have no say."

Assuming his initiative collects the required signatures, Mr. Schwarzenegger's ballot measure will appear before voters in November.

-- John Fund

Canadian Tiger

Democratic Members of Congress look yearningly to Canada as a model for all kinds of things. They might do well to adopt the Canadian model of tax policy.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was in New York yesterday to give a speech touting the economic achievements of the relatively new government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He stopped by the Journal offices to give a preview. Since coming to office two years ago, Mr. Flaherty told us, the Harper government has succeeded in steadily whacking down the corporate income tax to 18% from 22%, and is headed for 15% by 2012. Aiming for a total tax burden or no more than 25%, Ottawa has also been pushing the provinces to cut their own taxes on business profits. Ontario (Canada's Taxachusetts) has been a notable holdout and some in the Canadian press even accused Mr. Flaherty yesterday of leaving Ontario out of his sales pitch to U.S. investors. Mr. Flaherty joked in return that he was "gently prodding [Provincial] Premier [Dalton] McGuinty in my own subtle way to reduce business taxes."

Canada's cuts come none too soon. Business tax-cutting has been a global phenomenon, with the OECD countries now averaging less than 27%, down from 38% in 1993 (the U.S. average is 40%). It's also of a piece with the Harper government's broader pro-growth agenda, which includes free trade deals with Colombia, Peru and South Korea and work to speed up transit of goods at the Windsor-Detroit border crossing.

What about Nafta? Canada believes Nafta "is working well," said Mr. Flaherty, but he also noted that Canada exports a great deal of oil to the U.S., so Canada would have no shortage of bargaining leverage if the trade pact were opened for renegotiation as threatened on the campaign trail by the two Democratic presidential contenders.
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« Reply #99 on: April 25, 2008, 12:28:47 PM »

Can Hillary Sue Her Way to the Nomination?

It was inevitable that the lawyers would be lining up to contest the Democratic nomination race.

Yesterday, a key supporter of Hillary Clinton's filed a challenge demanding that the Democratic National Committee seat all of Michigan's pledged delegates -- 55% of whom backed Mrs. Clinton in a January primary that Barack Obama didn't participate in and whose results the national Democratic Party has so far refused to recognize.

DNC member Joel Ferguson says Michigan's 128 pledged delegates should be given half a vote each at the Denver convention and its 28 superdelegates -- such as himself -- should be given a full vote. He says such a settlement would represent a fair punishment for the state's decision to break party rules and hold an early primary.

The Obama campaign is making clear that it will oppose Mr. Ferguson's proposal -- and also any similar move by Florida to seat its own delegates, which were also selected in a primary held outside party rules. The dispute will now go to the DNC's Rules Committee.

Mr. Ferguson agrees that rules are rules, but notes that the controversy is now hurting the party's chances in the fall. If nothing is done to assuage the feelings of the Michigan faithful, he warns, the outcome would end up "weakening the Democratic Party in Michigan and harming its ability to cast its electoral votes for the Democratic nominee for president."

Stay tuned. This could become as controversial as the Florida recount battle of 2000.

-- John Fund

The 'Gaffe' Calculus

Sen. John McCain is all over the map these days -- literally and rhetorically. He's just wrapping up his second national tour, named the "It's Time for Action Tour," today in Little Rock, Arkansas. The tour has taken him to Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana. Before that, there was the "Service to America Tour," which found him in Mississippi, Virginia, Maryland, Florida and Arizona. At this rate, Mr. McCain could easily hit all 50 states before the Democrats even have a nominee.

But it's on the rhetorical side that Mr. McCain seems to be charting a stranger path. When the country was unwillingly introduced to Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his Chicago church back in March, Mr. McCain, with the lowest of low-hanging fruit dangling before him, declined to criticize his would-be opponent. As if to show that his generosity cut both ways, he was equally hushed on Sen. Hillary Clinton's Bosnian sniper tale.

Contrast those examples, however, with what Mr. McCain had to say about Barack Obama's infamous "bitter" comments regarding Pennsylvania voters. He released a statement shortly afterward condemning the remarks and just yesterday he repeated that they were "elitist."

Mr. McCain is not finicky about criticizing his opponents over matters of policy like the Iraq war or the economy. But on gaffes -- those inopportune, unscripted moments that can be extremely embarrassing and even damaging to political candidates -- Mr. McCain has shown a curious discipline. What, for instance, makes Mr. Obama's ideas about Pennsylvanians "clinging" to guns and God worthier of comment than Rev. Wright's grotesque anti-Americanism?

The method in his madness seems to be that Mr. McCain is adopting rules for the coming election, a standard of conduct that he hopes voters will appreciate as honorable. Mr. Obama's "bitter" comments insult average Americans, while Rev. Wright, as insulting as he is, is not running for president. Mrs. Clinton got caught telling a fib, but it was a harmless fib that insulted only voters' intelligence.

Of course by showing voters exactly how he plans to conduct himself, Mr. McCain is anticipating that his eventual rival won't be so honorable. There's your setup. But there is also a trap. As with the brouhaha over a North Carolina Republican Party ad that highlighted Mr. Obama's connection with Rev. Wright, Mr. McCain's opponents will insist on tying him to these outside efforts no matter what he says. Which is just one reason why honor is so rarely rewarded in politics.

-- Blake Dvorak,

Quote of the Day I

"Most of us in news are not smart enough to figure out what's going on. We may pretend that we're good enough to do that. But in fact, when we look you in the eye, in the camera, we're really just making it up" -- MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, speaking on David Letterman's "Late Show."

Quote of the Day II

"If you look at Obama's vote in Pennsylvania, you begin to see the outlines of the old George McGovern coalition that haunted the Democrats during the '70s and '80s, led by college students and minorities. In Pennsylvania, Obama did best in college towns (60 to 40 percent in Penn State's Centre County) and in heavily black areas like Philadelphia. Its ideology is very liberal. Whereas in the first primaries and caucuses, Obama benefited from being seen as middle-of-the-road or even conservative, he is now receiving his strongest support from voters who see themselves as 'very liberal'.... There is nothing wrong with winning over voters who are very liberal and who never attend religious services; but if they begin to become Obama's most fervent base of support, he will have trouble (to say the least) in November" -- New Republic senior editor John Judis.

Quote of the Day III

"For the first time, Democratic loyalists not necessarily committed to Hillary Clinton are wondering whether the party's system for picking a nominee is their problem. If all caucuses were eliminated and only primaries used in picking nominees, Obama's lead of 130 in delegates would become an advantage for Clinton of 45 delegates. The bigger problem is proportional representation replacing the winner-take-all system that enabled Republicans to get their nominee on Feb. 5 Super Tuesday. Without the 'reforms' enacted by Democrats during the decade following the party's 1968 fiasco, Clinton might have clinched the nomination by now" -- columnist Robert Novak.

He May Be Plastic, But He Doesn't Carry Any

World leaders spend their time coddled in comfort and care so they can focus on more important problems. Once out of office, they often have trouble making the adjustment to the real world, where individuals are actually expected to take responsibility for their lives.

Take Tony Blair. Until last June, he was prime minister of the United Kingdom. Now he's a private citizen, albeit an increasingly rich and sought-after one who is constantly flitting from speech to speech. That hectic schedule might explain why he was caught last week on a British train without either a ticket or the cash to pay for one. He was also carrying no credit cards.

The story begins with Mr. Blair rushing to catch a plane to the U.S. from London's Heathrow Airport. The fastest route is the Heathrow Express, a special non-stop train from London's downtown. While Mr. Blair was making the 15-minute journey, he was approached by a ticket inspector who asked for proof he had paid the $49 fare.

Mr. Blair, whose income last year topped $1 million, explained that he didn't have any money or credit cards with him. His bodyguard spoke up and offered to pay the fare but, astonishingly, the inspector insisted that wouldn't be necessary.

The incident has sparked a bit of an uproar in Britain. The Daily Mail reports that travelers it spoke with "were outraged that Mr. Blair had been given a free ride."

Mr. Blair's spokesman says his boss wasn't at fault. "Payment was offered and was refused," he told reporters, though the spokesman was unable to answer any questions about why Mr. Blair travels with fewer resources on his person than the average homeless person. It's one thing for the Queen to proceed through life without having to worry about carrying any of the coins or bills that bear her image. But now that he's a private citizen, Mr. Blair should make at least an effort to pretend once again he's a normal human being.
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