Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pelosi

Nice to see she's wasting no time trying to undermine the office of the President, by visiting Syria next week against wishes of Bush's administration. Regardless of what she thinks is appropriate policy, she and the Dems do not currently hold the office of President. Until they do, this is an entirely inappropriate action. It's one thing for them to protest the war and give solace to our enemies, but now to actively negotiate with them in direct opposition to the standing policy of the sitting President is outrageous. This type of maneuver is extremely dangerous to US as far as I'm concerned; we cannot have competing factions setting foreign policy.

As always, Post's front cover gets it right!
Friday, March 30, 2007

Rudy

Interesting, the issue that DC earlier posted (firefighter criticism of Rudy) is now gaining some legs in MSM here and here. Clearly this is CNN's (Clinton News Network) attempt to undermine Rudy's strong lead, because he will beat any Dem candidate and they don't like that.
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Let the whining begin

We're still a year and a half away from the '08 Presidential election, and already Time magazine is starting to whine that the Republicans lead the polls in head-to-head matchups. They throw reason after reason at you as to why this shouldn't be the case, but yet it is.

I will lay good money on the line that the following scenario will play out. If Rudy wins primary, MSM will do their best to turn him from 9/11 hero into "evil conservative." They will proclaim that his fiscal and law enforcement policies were overly suppressive of minorities and the underpriveleged. If McCain wins, he will be labelled as another Bush neo-con, who supported the Iraq war from day 1 and still supports our presence there. However, should either one of them win the general election, the MSM will completely change their tune to suggest that this was more of a win for Dems and Indies than Repubs. They'll suddenly play up Rudy's liberal social policies and McCain's "maverick" status, to suggest their election can only be viewed as a rejection of conservative policies..

Let the games begin..
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

British soldiers

While I appreciate that the situation in the Middle East is very tense and it is best to be cautious before making any strong moves, I have to believe it is in the best interests of the West for Britain not to appear to be Iran's whipping boy. Iran has now seemingly further escalated the situation with inappropriate release of hostage photos, fake or forced letters of admission of guilt, and forced wearing of headscarves. It is time for Britain to make a more forceful, public response. The longer it takes to respond, the more it will be perceived that these types of aggressive actions by the Middle East will not be met with consequences.

Thompson

Will Fred Thompson actually throw his name into the ring? He's already running neck and neck with Romney if he does. Of course, he's also got a lot of name/face recognition, so I'd expect him to have an early boost if he ran.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Candy Mountain

Fill me with sweet sugary goodness.

Hillary...

...no one likes you. Or, at least 50% of the people don't.

Shhhh...

What's that I hear? It's the AMT creeping up on you! Let's see if Congress finally does something to prevent the AMT from hammering the middle class soon, or yet again punts the issue because they don't want to give up the potential revenue..
Monday, March 26, 2007

Hagel

Wow, Hagel intimating that impeachment of Bush might be an option. Once you've publicly taken that position against someone in your own party, there's no turning back.
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Iran captures British sailors

This is certainly not good news. The Brits insist they were conducting routine police work in Iraqi seas, an area they have been patrolling for some time now. Based on the photos, it looks like the Brits were in small hovercraft that appear to be meant for ferrying soldiers back and forth. They sure don't look like naval combat vessels.

The Iranians apparently escorted them into Iranian waters (one must presume they had substantially heavier ships) and then placed them in custody.

That's the "what." But now we've got to figure out, "why?"

Why would Iran seek to provoke the West like this? Could it be some out of control ship-level commander who wanted to make a name for himself? Could the Brits have been mistaken, and wandered into Iranian waters on their own (Answer: no)? Or has Iran made a calculation that our ground forces are stretched to their capacity, and they are trying to bait us into escalating the conflict?

UPDATE 03/24/2007 0939 HRS:

The Iranian authorities tell us the British soldiers have "confessed and admitted their mistake" by entering Iranian territory. Sure they did.


UPDATE #2 03/24/2007 2140 HRS:

The British prisoners have apparently been transferred to Tehran, and the Iranian government wants to trade them for Iranians being held by the UK. I guess that answers the question of who authorized the capture. Sounds like the order came right from the top: give us bargaining chips to get back our men.

Now, how does the British government respond?

La primera vez es gratis. Y el segundo. Y el tercero..

My Spanish is not exactly solid. But I can count to six. Which means I have nothing to fear if I want to fly to Mexico and attempt to enter the USA without paperwork. Because if you are an illegal immigrant, you can get arrested five (5!) times by border patrol and not be prosecuted by a US Attorney. Turns out that when the Dept of Justice inquired as to the policies being followed by the US Attorneys in the field, the word they got back was, "the sixth time is the charm."

What I love about this story is how the incompetence gets spread up and down the chain. A policy this ridiculous is only possible because of the abdication of responsibility by those at the highest levels of law enforcement, and that means the Executive Branch. The 6-strikes rule is just another example that this President has decided that illegal immigration can only be addressed through legalization and amnesty, and that enforcement is futile. Hence, no border fence or meaningful impediments that would prevent people from trying to enter the country six times in a row.

At the same time, middle managers and line employees are wasting the resources at their disposal (time, energy and dollars) on useless activities (arrests that are not leading to prosecutions). That line employees never communicated this ridiculous policy up the chain in the DOJ is hard to imagine, even if they felt such communication would be viewed as complaining and frowned upon.

That middle managers in the US Attorney's offices and at CBP were content to waste taxpayers money, despite the crisis they are suppossed to be confronting, is unforgiveably incompetent.
Friday, March 23, 2007

Troop surge

Although I was very dubious of how an additional 20,000 troops (only a ~14% increase) would actually have any effect in Iraq, I'll gladly be the first to admit my skepticism seems wrong. Besides the anecdotal evidence that I'm seeing far fewer stories about deaths in Iraq since the troop surge, the numbers actually seem to support a significant reduction in violence.

Of course, correlation does not imply causation; it could simply be that the insertion of the additional troops (note that only two of the 5 brigades are actually in place now) came coincidentally at the same time as insurgent activity was going to hit a lull or downstroke anyway, for whatever reason (lack of munitions, lack of people, etc.) Or, it may be that the reduction in violence is attrituable not to the increased number of troops, but rather to their deployment strategy. As the article states:

The tactic of sprinkling U.S. and Iraqi troops like salt across the city — instead of keeping them concentrated in a handful of bases — seems to be paying off so far. "We got down at the people level and are staying," Petraeus told the New York Post.

Another article:

Much of the new strategy looks like the old - armed sweeps through contested areas to kill and capture as many extremists as possible, then install an Iraqi security force to make sure the gunmen don't come back.

This time, however, the Americans plan to stay on after the fighting, maintaining a residual force in the communities to work with Iraqi soldiers and police. As security improves, U.S. and Iraqi civilian authorities will try to restore public services, open banks and revive local economies.


In any case, this begs the question, why wasn't this the policy all along? Without knowing much else, it would seem to be the most logical strategy for rebuilding and fortifying an area. I think Rumsfeld's idea of toppling an area and moving on as quickly as possible during the invasion portion of the war made sense, to get to Baghdad quickly, and prevent the troops from getting bogged down or picked off/surrounded in one area. But this does not seem to be the ideal post-war reconstruction strategy; clearly you need to have a presence remain after you topple an insurgent stronghold. Otherwise, if you leave a vacuum, they will return.
Thursday, March 22, 2007

More sad news...

Cathy Seipp, the wonderful columnist at the NRO, has passed away. They have a series of tributes up on their site, all worth reading. K-Lo's is here, and ends with some memorable and pithy quotes from Ms. Seipp. I think I liked this one best:

“Men in charge of small children are like women and parallel parking: Attention must be paid or something’s going to get dented.”

You've got to love going to Drudge and seeing this banner:

Dem leadership pulls DC voting bill from floor; conservative Dems were supporting DC gun repeal...
Leader Hoyer seen yelling at staff on floor...
Speaker Pelosi absent because she is desperately searching for Iraq supplemental votes...
Holmes-Norton standing silently in disbelief..


THE HOUSE IN DISARRAY

Edwards Presser

I missed all the hub-bub today, apparently. Busy earning a paycheck and all that, but apparently Politico.com reported Edwards was suspending his campaign before Edwards got up in front of the microphone and stated the opposite.

I'm not quite sure how to address this situation without getting macabre, but I'll just let it fly anyway. I'll start with the political side of today's events, and get to the more meaningful stuff afterwards.

The Edwards campaign is over. Done. John Edwards has absolutely tarnished his career forever. Heck, even Time agrees with me, though they do it by asking questions rather than stating the obvious (their political allegiances prevent them from being too blunt, I presume).

Edwards stands up in front of a slew of cameras and tells the world that his wife has incurable cancer. He then says that his primary responsibility is--wait for it--to get elected President. That's right, not to provide his dying wife all the support he can (remember, this guy's a multi-millionaire, who has the means to spend a few years not working and providing his dying wife with companionship). And if he's too busy shaking hands and kissing babies to help her out, well, that's just too bad, 'cause you know, duty calls. If we didn't already know the guy was a trial lawyer and professional hair model, you'd almost think this presser was a joke. Could his ego be any more out of control? It's hard to find the right word to describe John Edwards, but there's an old Latin term that really captures his essence:

douchebag.

As for the important part of the story, one can't help but feel terrible for Elizabeth Edwards. She's spent years dealing with a devastating illness, the bulk of the time in the public eye. It's hard enough wrestling with death when you don't have a reporter asking you "how does it feel?" about twice a month. And even when she thought she had it kicked and wrote her book, you always know you have a high chance at recurrence once you've had cancer before. She's handled it all with grace.

I also feel bad for John, despite his douchebaggery. I have no doubt that he actually does care about his wife and is devastated. He was knocked off his saddle by the medical news, when push came to shove, he couldn't get his bearings fast enough to make the right call.

But this wasn't just any decision. Some decisions, like, "do I hold the elevator door for this guy who is half way down the hall when I'm in a hurry," you can get wrong and scold yourself later. Chalk it up to "a lesson learned." But when you reveal your lack of judgment to 300 million Americans, when the right decision is so obviously staring you in the face, what is there to say?

The silly part of his decision, from a political standpoint, is that he didn't have to deep six his career. He could have cared for his wife, and still run for President in 2012 or 2016. He's a young man, and Americans would have remembered him and respected him for doing the right thing. Instead, he's going to have to cope with the tradgedy of a serious family illness (an occurence that was completely out of his control), while at the same time dealing with the destruction of his political career (all of his own making).

Liberals

Did liberal voters really believe that Democrats would actually do anything once in office? The libs are so appalled and disgusted that the Dems haven't summarily ended the war in Iraq that they are going to protest in Pelosi's office.

Please. As if just because they are in power in Congress Dems are finally going to start actually standing for something? It's much easier just to keep playing the role they are most comfortable in: bitching and moaning about Republican policies, while never offering anything concrete of their own. Amazing, I guess this running the country stuff and having to actually make a decision is tougher than it looks..

This is the same party that has Al Gore on the one hand pleading that global warming is causing an imminent threat to our survival, and on the other hand is completely unwilling to do what he's calling on others to do, tighten their belts. He still lives in a mansion and gets royalties off his zinc mine. But hey, it's more fun complaining about an issue than actually trying to solve it.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Egghead Alert

Isn't funny how so few accomplish so much that is truly important while so many couldn't care less? I certainly don't have the patience to read this one article.

Paging SHK...

Noonan

Peggy, not Danny. Word is she might be hired by the Romney camp.

I can't say enough about what a great pick up this would be. Mrs. Noonan is just the best. She has a great ear and knows how to make a conservative column (or speech) really sing. She also is a truly compassionate human being, someone with integrity that would reflect very well on Gov. Romney. I know sometimes she can be a bit idiosyncratic, but I always (always) look forward to reading her in the WSJ.

And here I thought that was just my opinion. Check out this praise in her wikipedia entry (if it hasn't been doctored):

Five of her books have been New York Times bestsellers, a number garnering the highest critical praise. On publication of her first book, the political classic What I Saw at the Revolution, the author Wilfred Sheed wrote on the front page of the New York Times Book Review that Noonan's work was "hauntingly...elegiac. She does full justice to the joy of writing....Ms Noonan can evoke a mood like nobody's business...fairly rocks with life." On the front page of the Washington Post Book World, Reid Beddow called her "The poet laureate of resurgent Republicanism...Noonan writes speeches like an angel...hilarious reading." In Vogue Magazine Maureen Dowd's review said, "As Edith Wharton wrote about the foibles of New York Society, Noonan skewers the pompous manners and mores of Washington's power elite with a quirky prose style that shifts free verse, short cinematic takes, and luxuriant description." Of her second book, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, the New York Times said, "You read her in thrall to her striking ability to behold great vistas through a pinhole...in language that is always concrete and vital." Her biography of Ronald Reagan, When Character Was King, for which she interviewed the family, colleagues and closest friends of the former president, is considered a classic of its kind, and a reliable resource for those seeking insight into the facts of Reagan's life.


Ah, you just think you're so smart because you know how to read.
Saturday, March 17, 2007

Queens

Luckily the grand jury indicted three cops in the Queens night club shooting. I'm so sick of this completely unjustified violence perpetrated by white cops against young black males. Oh, but wait a minute, the three cops were not white but instead a black man from the Bronx, a Haitian-Mexican who lives in Brooklyn, and a Syrian-Lebanese man? Hmmm, that doesn't fit neatly into Al Sharpton's view of the world. Perhaps that explains his unusually subdued response:

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a spokesman for Bell's fiancée, Nicole Paultre-Bell, was measured in his response, saying he'd wait until Monday's announcement to give a detailed press conference.
Friday, March 16, 2007

Dean

Apparently Dean is already chalking up the '08 election to a Dem victory. He's traveling around the world talking to other leaders telling them how they'll be reached out to once the Dems take over in '08.

Curious move, since the last time I checked, in head-to-head polls Rudy beats Hillary, Obama, and Edwards, while McCain beats Hillary and Edwards. The only who loses now is Romney, which I guarantee 100% is simply a product of lack of name recognition against 3 big names. Once he is better known, I bet he too will poll ahead of all 3 Dem leaders.
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Iraq - Civil War?

A new Pentagon report claims that using the phrase "civil war" to describe the situation in Iraq is an oversimplification and an inadequate term. What I find most interesting about this, though, is that while 99% of the media has been busy over the past few months running puff pieces simply re-hashing this phrase without attempting to get more than a cursory understanding of the actual situation on the ground, one reporter actually got it right. That was Taheri of NY Post, who basically made the case six weeks earlier that the Pentagon does today. As always, the Post was leading the way.

While the average American probably doesn't care whether the violence is from a true civil war or not, certainly policymakers looking to find a meaningful solution to the violence in Iraq must understand its true nature and cause.

Republican Party

Great article by Broder saying that those in the media who wish to interpret recent polls as indicating the decline or end of GOP are way off. It also underscores why (IMO) Mitt hasn't taken off yet - people still don't know him.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Billary

Excellent, the vast right-wing conspiracy is back! Democrats must be cringing hearing her say this: every utterance of this phrase surely leads to another 5 million Republican voters showing up at the polls on election day.

Rudy vs. McCain as Terror-fighters

Amplifying a point that has been made at OccObs before, the brilliant Ramesh Ponnuru offered this observation:

For a lot of conservatives, the War on Terror is paramount. That's why some of them are willing to overlook Giuliani's faults. But if toughness on terrorism trumps everything else, with toughness defined as competent execution of the administration's basic strategy - and that's the way it has to be defined for this argument to work for Giuliani at all - then McCain is hands down the best candidate. He has better national-security credentials than Giuliani, having been involved in foreign policymaking for more than two decades while the latter has barely been involved at all. More than any other candidate, he has shown a commitment to winning in Iraq. He has supported it, indeed, more vigorously than Bush has waged it, and he has put his career on the line.

This quote is from an article in which Ponnuru makes the case that McCain is worthy of a second look for conservative voters, and it's definitely worth reading.
Monday, March 12, 2007

Chuck Hagel's presser

Sen. Hagel held a press conference today to announce he's running for President of the United States he'll be making an announcement at a later date if there's an announcement to make.

I like Sen. Hagel. I don't believe it's un-American or un-Republican to want a political solution in Iraq as a means to ending US involvement, although it is not my preferred approach.

I would welcome Hagel's presence in the race as healthy for the GOP, and an opportunity for rank-and-file Republicans to consider how best to proceed in fighting the GWOT. Such an examination will not occur if all the candidates have the same philosophy.

All that said, today's non-announcement announcement was an odd start for Hagel's campaign. And concurrent with his announcement, there's a non-campaign campaign website. It's unclear to me if the site is official or not.

Giuliani on public funding of abortion

The double-talk is going to get Rudy. He won't call Roe "bad law", but wants to put SoCons at ease by saying he'll appoint Alito-types to the bench. Meanwhile, he admits to being pro-choice, so why should he be believed? He's trying to get away with a wink and a nod, but old footage like this is going to kill him.

It's one thing to say you're pro-choice (though even that is probably a candidacy-killer in the GOP), but to be telling middle class citizens that the Gov't should be taking more money out of their pockets, and away from their kids and families, so that other women can abort their babies? That dog don't hunt, at least not in the GOP.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Chink in the Armor?

With all the recent hubbub about Rudy's shortcomings (which have been well documented here on OccOb), "America's Mayor" seems to be nigh-bulletproof thus far.

However, there is a relatively small but extremely vocal group that is trying to show the true man behind the superhero facade--the FDNY.

If they have their way, everyone in America will get to read this before the primaries:

http://www.firefightingnews.com/article-US.cfm?articleID=27125

Some of the criticisms of Guiliani come off as somewhat selfish whining by the writers but the big picture complaint is made clear...
Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scary predictions that proved accurate

Darn, I'm good. I was reviewing some old comments, and came upon this one. More than 2 months before the election, while most folks on RedState were still crowing that losing the Senate was unthinkable,

Fredo said...
It's hardly unthinkable. I'd say 75% that the Dems re-take the House and 25% they retake the Senate. They need to sweep the toss-ups and then steal a likely-G.O.P. seat (TN, most likely) to get the +6 swing they need. Brown will beat DeWine, Casey will beat Santorum, Tester will beat Burns, and Whitehouse will beat Chafee or Laffey, so that's +4 right there. They need McCaskill to beat Talent, which is, say, 60/40 likely for the Dems, and then they need Ford to beat Corker in TN. CW is Ford will lose, but I think he's got about a 40% chance to take the prize right now. If McCaskill and Ford win, the Dems have the Senate.

I do not believe the GOP will get a single pick-up. Despite all the confident talk, McGavick is blowing up in WA (after his less-than-candid DUI admission), and Kennedy hasn't built any momentum in MN. Kean is leading in his race, but NJ going GOP in 2006? I'll believe it when I see it.

The GOP's best chance to retain the Senate? Corker winning in TN. If not, we need Kean in NJ or Talent in MO. And if we only hold the Senate b/c Kean wins and its 50/50, that's barely a majority. With Collins, Snowe, Spector and Kean, no real pro-life judge will get through the Senate.

I'm getting another bourbon.

9/05/2006 9:38 PM


Saw through the Jersey polls, called MO as more likely Dem than GOP, knew WA and MN were lost, and rightly called Corker as our best shot to retain the Senate (when they were still polling in a dead heat). Of course, the only thing I didn't see was getting Macaca'd in Virginia, but some events are just too bizarre to predict. And it took something just that bizarre for the Dems 1-in-4 chance (as I saw it) to bear out--without the Allen implosion, the GOP would have held.
Friday, March 09, 2007

Hagel's in

Despite reports to the contrary, the Washington Times is reporting that Chuck Hagel will enter the race to secure the GOP nomination for President.

I for one, am quite glad. This will certainly make for much more interesting debates in the primary season. While it's doubtful Chuck can win, it should give the front runners some good sparring sessions to prepare for the Wicked Witch of the East, the Breck girl or Junior Senator Superstar.

And, for the record, I think it will be helpful for the Republican party to determine if the Bush doctrine is where we want to go in the future. As for Hagel, I couldn't support him. Not because of Iraq: that situation should be all but decided by the time January 2009 rolls around. Rather, it's because of his open-borders stance on illegal immigration.

But I think his announcement is good news for every Republican who wants for a meaningful primary debate season, and not a group of candidates in a race to agree more strenuously on foreign policy.
Thursday, March 08, 2007

Romney

The more Mitt's out of office (as MA gov), the more I miss him. Newly-elected "free 'em all" Deval (so-named for his "progressive" position on criminals and illegal aliens) can't even spend two months on the job without causing 4 major political uproars. First the helicopter rides, then the new drapes and Caddy, hiring an expensive aide to manage his wife's schedule, now this: calling Bob Rubin at Citigroup on behalf of Ameriquest Mortgage - whose board he sat on. It's so bad even the Boston Globe has been tearing into him with numerous articles over the last few days.. Try: news.google.com, search for "boston globe deval patrick".

The liberals are up in arms: "How can this be?? He was supposed to be a 'man of the people', who would fight for us!" After all, liberals are always for the people and not in it for themselves, right???

This makes Mitt's clean record while Governor (and in every other aspect of his personal and professional career) that much more remarkable. Especially since the Globe would have just salivated to get an article like this about Mitt, rather than Dem Deval, so you know they were digging as hard as possible during his term.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Will Dems stand by their own precedents?

Obama claims he was "unaware" of potential conflicts of interest resulting from his stock ownership. As we all know, this is a completely unacceptable excuse. Democrats and the media were adamant that the presence of such a conflict required them to obstruct the confirmation of Judge Boyle to the 4th Circuit. Judge Boyle's explanation that he was unaware of the conflicts were dismissed out of hand (despite the fact that his protestations were completely plausible, based on the circumstances).

Let's see if Sen. Reid and Sen. Leahy denounce Sen. Obama, or choose hypocrisy instead.

Here's an '08 candidate with natural leadership to spare...

Zod.

He has a Q&A on his site, and this dialogue captures the essence of a Zod presidency:

Q. I have seen that another hopeful candidate for the 2008 elections is Christopher Walken (http://www.walken2008.com/). I have been a great supporter of his, but I have much respect for your authoritarian regime. I am unsure which of these two great evils I should vote for. Is there any chance for a political debate during campaign time between you and Mr. Walken? — Beth R.

A. Yes, but can Walken promise you cruel oppression and harsh totality? Why allow him to coddle you with platitudes, only to be disappointed years after the election? I promise you a future of darkness. And it's only in darkness that you see light. I promise you ascent, and elevation, living the life of austerity as you relegate your possessions and lives. Warmed in that monastic aura you shall find enlightenment and happiness. To this I say: Give me your vote, and kneel before Zod!

National Catholic Register on Rudy

The NCR has received Rudy's offer to pro-life republicans: one electable candidate in exchange for compromising on their principles. Its answer: not gonna happen.

Since Giuliani is committed to the war on terror and is a great crisis manager with a track record rooting out the gangs of New York, we shouldn’t demand that he be pro-life, but instead we should be willing to make a deal.

Rudy’s deal: He’ll promise not to push the pro-abortion agenda, and he’ll nominate judges in the mold of Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Pro-lifers in the Republican Party in return would support him, but keep insisting that the party stay pro-life, and fight our fiercest pro-life battles at the state level, where they belong...

A Republican Party led by a pro-abortion politician would become a pro-abortion party. Parents know that, when we make significant exceptions to significant rules, those exceptions themselves become iron-clad rules to our children. It’s the same in a political party. A Republican Party led by Rudy Giuliani would be a party of contempt for the pro-life position, which is to say, contempt for the fundamental right on which all others depend.

Would a pro-abortion president give us a pro-life Supreme Court justice? Maybe he would in his first term. But we’ve seen in the Democratic Party how quickly and completely contempt for the right to life corrupts. Even if a President Giuliani did the right thing for a short time, it’s likely the party that accepted him would do the wrong thing for a long time.

Would his commitment to the war on terror be worth it? The United States has built the first abortion businesses in both Afghanistan and Iraq, ever. Shamefully, our taxes paid to build and operate a Baghdad abortion clinic that is said to get most of its customers because of the pervasive rape problem in that male-dominated society. And that happened under a pro-life president. What would a pro-abortion president do?

The bottom line: Republicans have made inroads into the Catholic vote for years because of the pro-life issue. If they put a pro-abortion politician up for president, the gains they’ve built for decades will vanish overnight.




hattip: Caucus Cooler
Monday, March 05, 2007

CPAC

Always important to get WSJ's pulse on conservative activities, here are some excerpts from John Fund's analysis of CPAC.

Newt Gingrich, who isn't even a declared candidate, gave the most inspiring speech...

Mr. McCain hurt himself by declining to address CPAC; Mr. Giuliani helped himself by showing up but left lots of unanswered questions; and Mr. Romney used superior organization to win the conference straw poll, albeit narrowly, and thus can claim he has a clear demonstration of conservative support.

Mitt Romney clearly told the crowd what it wanted to hear. He delivered a pitch-perfect message that sought to unite economic, social and national-security conservatives. Fiscal conservatives were impressed with his pledge to limit increases in discretionary federal spending to below the inflation rate. Many liked his emphasis on limiting the role of courts in social issues and his vow to try to roll back the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

But despite his laundry list of conservative positions, he didn't completely win over the audience. His showing in CPAC straw poll over less organized candidates was only adequate. Anti-Romney volunteers were everywhere, busy passing out pairs of flip-flops...

So who is the front-runner for the GOP nomination now? Polls show Rudy Giuliani with a commanding lead nationwide. But well over half of GOP primary voters are unaware of his liberal positions on everything from guns to the 1996 federal welfare reform bill.

But a third of RNC members expressed no preference for president--a high number given the intensity of the race. That leaves hope for a posse of second-tier candidates,...

...many CPAC attendees were eager to believe rumors that Jeb Bush or former senator Fred Thompson was about to enter the race...


Fred Thompson: from senator to Law & Order to President... He did give a good speech at RNC a few years ago, if I remember correctly.

Mitt needs to spend this week and next week quickly building on his success at CPAC by cementing his position as the best choice for a balance between fiscal and social conservatism, principles coupled with pragmatism.
Sunday, March 04, 2007

Death Star: The Aftermath

Ever wonder how the Emperor responded to the news that the rebels blew up the Death Star at Yavin? Many thanks to whoever managed to smuggle out this footage...

Hat tip: Moe Lane @ RedState

Free and fair trade

By many ardent free-traders, there is a presumption that tariffs are universally inappropriate. I think the burden of proof for such a position would fall on those who would stand by such a universal statement, especially when there are many examples that run counter to the idea (countries that have seen their economies grow sharply despite the use of tariffs).

But I think it’s helpful to state a positive, and not just attempt to negate the other’s guys argument, so I opted to spend some time doing just that when blackhedd on RedState asked me the following question: "For what objectives do you think tariffs are a good idea"?

One of the primary distinctions drawn in the 19th century arguments over tariffs was between “revenue” tariffs and “punitive”/protectionist tariffs. Common sense dictated that at a certain level, foreign companies would still be willing to sell goods to the American consumer, even if they had to pay the US government for the privilege of doing so. I agree with this in principle: why should a company owned by Americans and employing Americans have to pay a (double) income tax to shoulder the cost of government, but not foreigners who seek to gain advantage by selling to our markets? Do not foreign exporters also gain some benefit from US government expenditures, such as on infrastructure, market regulation and law enforcement (allowing for a more efficient, less corrupt marketplace), and even to some degree, military readiness (global stability is probably a net positive for international trade).

Of course, there is the question of the connection between tariffs and higher prices to the American consumer. The answer to this question is usually given as a "yes" by the universally-anti-tariff crowd, without much further explanation. The "yes" is usually closely followed by the catch phrase, "tariffs are a tax on the consumer." In reality, it's a bit more complicated than that. It will have a lot to do with the goods in question, and price elasticity in the marketplace. In some situations, depending on the level of competition and the power of consumers in the market for a particular good or service, foreign producers will be able to pass on much of the cost, while at other times they will not.

Even where more of the tariff's costs are being passed on to consumers, the “tax” is twice as effective as opposed to traditional income tax. Not only does the indirect “tax” associated with tariffs put revenue in our government's pocket, but raises the price of certain goods, making it more likely that domestic producers will be able to competitively enter the marketplace, or improve the financial situation of existing domestic firms.

In those situations where price elasticity prohibits the foreign firms from raising prices, they will be forced to determine if they can still satisfy their investors' cost of capital requirements at lower prices, and either accept a reduced profit or leave the marketplace to domestic firms. Much like with the income tax, setting an appropriate revenue tariff level is more art than science. Lower rates are usually better than higher rates, and Congress has to figure out how to get a little wool without killing the sheep.

Protective tariffs, in the 30-50% range, serve another purpose altogether. At this point, you're pretty much telling the foreign manufacturer to pack up and leave. I think these types of tariffs are extremely counterproductive, and the only reason to even consider them is if another nation has already enacted an aggressive policy towards the US first. Even then, the goal is not to stop doing business with that country, but to help them see that a one-way street will cost them in the long run.

In the Cold War, Reagan's maxim "peace through strength" worked out: we never had to fight the Soviets (directly) because they knew we had the will and ability to win. If China knew that we had the will and ability to level the playing field with them, and mirror their practices (export subsidies, import tariffs, and I'll leave currency aside for the moment), my guess is their trading laws would become more liberal very quickly. Getting us to the place where, I think most Americans agree, we want to get to: trade with less government intervention than exists now.

-----------------------------
As an aside, it seems that any time the issue of trade and tariffs comes up, the words "Hawley-Smoot" come out. I offered this thought on the comment board at RedState:

The great apart about invoking "Hawley-Smoot" is that you don't have to say how the tariff was related to the Depression: people make the link and that is enough. My main problem with the way Hawley-Smoot gets thrown around is that it: (1) is seen as a proxy for all tariffs, and (2) is assigned a disproportionate share of the blame for the events of the 1930's.
Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mitt Wins CPAC Straw Poll

And I can't overstate how big this is for him. CPAC is the child of Reagan, and the home of true conservatives. This should definitely give Mitt a bounce, and probably a renewed round of intense negative press from the MSM, fueled by opposition research being done by the other campaigns.

CPAC speeches

Romney's is a must see, if you haven't already. MyManMitt has the video here. Mitt continues to hit all the right tones: he's optimistic, looks presidential, embraces fiscal, national defense, AND social conservatism, but does it in a way that is engaging and not confrontational. The fact that he's a convert to social conservatism will ultimately (in the general) be a positive, not a negative for him. Seculars will be able to say, "he started his journey where I am today, so how did he get where he is?" As opposed to the knee-jerk reaction (and I don't like it, but it's real) that northern secularists have when they hear a southern evangelical who they can simply pigeon-hole as "unsophisticated" or "trapped by his environment."

Not that Mitt was ever secular-progressive, but like a S-P, he previously viewed abortion and gay rights as "individual freedom" issues (like a libertarian or secular would). He later began to understand them as assaults on the family and against the best interest of children, as a SoCon would. Reason is all that is required to understand this transformation, not deep religious faith. That will help make Romney accessible.

I don't have video for Duncan Hunter's speech, but I did hear it on the internet. Here's a link. Hunter, showing his guts, opens right up with the trade issue, arguably his one stand that runs counter to the majority of attendees at the conference. He hits it strongly and forcefully, and gets only applause for his stance. He also is, smartly, approaching his fair trade policies from a national security standpoint: the "arsenal of democracy," the manufacturing base that churned out all of our tanks, planes, subs and armaments in WWII, has been scattered across the globe. In the age of high-tech weaponry, when extremely specific products are needed to make our advanced weapons systems work, Hunter speaks of the difficulty he had as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee finding domestic manufacturers who made the parts the military needed.

He left unspoken the fact that a fair-trade approach to China will be extremely popular in the rust belt, which just happens to be the key swing-region in Presidential politics. Hunter has a winning formula here, combining fair trade, an illegal-immigration crackown, a strong military, low taxes, and a consistent record of promoting social conservative positions. Whether Hunter can go the distance or not, I hope our front runners are paying attention.

Rudy gave a strong speech at CPAC. I've now seen it in its entirety twice. My observations are this:

  • Rudy is not a polished speaker, but is very comfortable in his own skin.
  • That works in his favor b/c he comes across as speaking from the heart, which is, IMHO, why he's currently polling so well.
  • He is making the most concerted effort to stick to "big picture" conservatism, i.e., that the GOP is party of freedom, that individuals solve their problems best, etc. He's doing much less than other candidates in terms of specifics. Since most voters are not wonks, I think his approach works, but he will get criticism from the blogosphere for not making pledges he can be held to.
  • He is avoiding social conservative issues completely. He simply quoted Reagan and said, "my 80% friend is not my 20% enemy." Translation: I'm pro-choice, pro-gay unions, and pro-gun control, but those aren't the key issues. Stand with me on everything else.
Given Rudy's likeability, hero status, and huge lead in national polls, where his campaign goes from here will tell us everything about the state of the GOP in 2007. If Rudy falls from grace, it will be because he is unwilling to throw in his lot on life, marriage, and immigration with the SoCons. If he survives, it shows SoCons are not as important to the GOP as the SoCons think. If Rudy wins the nomination, it would set the stage for a period where national candidates seeking the GOP nomination can safely ignore the SoCon wing of the party and take them for granted, much like the Dems do to African Americans (think of Bill's "Sista Soljah" moment).

I caught half of Huckabee's speech, and it was quite good. It's no surprise he's a former minister. He really engages his audience and leads them, quite effectively, from point A to point B, and he knows how to tug at your heartstrings. He used extremely aggressive rhetoric in discussing GWOT, frankly suprisingly so, especially in contrast with the muted quotes I'd heard from him on the topic before. And he's apparently latched onto the catchphrase "freedom conservative" for his campaign, b/c he used it about 20 times.

Lastly, I caught 10 minutes of Brownback, and he was a lump of milquetoast, as always, despite the fact that I liked everything he had to say.

Party insiders

Perhaps my earlier post predicting fall of Obama and McCain wasn't that far off. New LA Times poll of party insiders has the favorites as follows:
1. Romney 2.Rudy 3. McCain 4. Gingrich
1. Hillary 2. Edwards 3. Obama 4. Gore
Friday, March 02, 2007

Mitt ups the ante

Taking things up a notch against Rudy and McCain in NH...

Another day, another small victory in Iraq

Check out what happens when insurgents planting an I.E.D. near a hotel in ramadi meet US armaments.

Hat tip: Streiff @ RedState

South Carolina Straw Poll

IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW

Everyone who works for the campaigns say these straw polls don't mean anything, but that's poppycock. The straw polls in key early primary states drive support, fund raising, an momentum. For instance, it was Romney's surprise second place showing to Frist (TN native) in the Memphis straw poll last year that made people stand up and wonder aloud if perhaps a New England Mormon could win among SoCons in the South. He'd been riding that momentum, along with solid fund raising and scores of big name endorsements, ever since.

The first big meaningful straw poll of '07 was held yesterday, and the results were surprising to say the least:

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani topped the presidential field Thursday night in a straw vote held at Spartanburg County's Republican precinct caucuses.

In Giuliani, conservative Spartanburg GOP activists gave a plurality to a candidate with a high-profile background, but only a rudimentary organization in place and a record of supporting abortion rights, gay rights and gun control.

Long-shot candidate Duncan Hunter, a U.S. House member from California running on a hard line of combating illegal immigration, was running second in preliminary totals. Hunter, running a shoestring campaign, had part of his modest staff working Spartanburg for the past week.

With votes in from about 71 of 75 precincts, Giuliani had 26.1 percent of the 470 votes and Hunter had 23.4 percent.

Arizona Sen. John McCain was third at 18.3 percent and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback was fourth with 14.4 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had spent the most time cultivating Spartanburg Republicans, was fifth at 12.5 percent.


A 5th place finish has to be extremely disappointing for Mitt given all the time he's spent in SC, and the endorsement of SC's true conservative Senator, Jim DeMint.

Giuliani's performance is not all that surprising, although much worse than some of the national poll numbers that have been popping up recently. It's also telling that Giuliani received 26.1% of the votes, and the remaining 73.9% of the votes went to pro-life candidates. Rudy still has a hill to climb, especially once the field narrows and it's only one or two SoCons running against him.

Duncan Hunter's numbers are stunning. He beat Romney, and established SoCon Brownback as well. It will be very interesting to see where this leads him, and if he's able to leverage it into dollars. That will require some campaign savvy. There is no GOP candidate who is more right on more issues than Rep. Hunter, but viability has been considered his problem. That problem may be diminishing now.

UPDATE:

It seems that the remaining handful of precincts that hadn't been counted when I wrote the article have drastically altered the outcome. The Greenville News reports that McCain came from way behind to win the poll by 2 votes over Giuliani, and Hunter was 4 votes behind Rudy. It was practically a 3-way tie, with Brownback and Romney forming a second tier getting about half the votes of the leaders.

Rudy supporters, who had already been crowing about their victory, are a little suspicious of McCain's high level of support (80%) among the few ballots that were outstanding after the first night of counting.

Obama's ancestors owned slaves

So reports the Baltimore Sun. This one of those stories that I read, and when I'm done, can't help but feel like: there's 5 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

The only reason this story's even worth discussing is that it came out less than a week after a poll was released showing that Obama had surpassed Hillary!'s level of support in the African American community. Probably just a coincidence, though.
Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Must Read at Ace of Spades

Over at his blog, Ace re-linked a column that he posted from a guest writer back in '04. He says that the "words are important for all of us." I think he should have gone a step further. This may be the most profound piece of writing I've seen in years. Maybe ever.

Well, enough with the introduction--check it out for yourself. (WARNING: LINKED ARTICLE CONTAINS PROFANITY)

UPDATE: a commenter at Ace named Senator PhilABuster had this to say about the linked article, and I think Sen Phil is on the money:

Lemme tell you something: read this as if Christopher Walken were delivering it
in a monologue. It takes it to a whole 'nother level.

BTW, Dark Commenteer: if you ever did this full time, Ace would be your home base.

Sightings at CPAC


That is all.

Novak says the Big 3 could still be challenged

From his column printed in the WaPo here:

It is hardly too late for such negative campaigning to bring down Republican front-runners because of inadequate conservative credentials. At this point in the 2000 election cycle, Bush was far in front with about 45 percent in the polls, with Elizabeth Dole second at 29 percent. McCain was at a mere 3 percent, behind Dan Quayle and Steve Forbes, before making the run that nearly won the nomination. The GOP race for 2008 may still be open, considering the conservative void.

Will the Real Rudy show up at CPAC?

Ouch.

Gingrich

Interesting comments from Newt in this Post article. I've included some excerpts below, I'm not sure how to read the political tea leaves on this one, if there's a particular reason Newt chose to bolster Rudy.

[Newt] Said the GOP needs to nominate a Ronald Reagan-type candidate and added, "I think it's not an accident that Giuliani is running as well as he is in the polls."

Gingrich called New York's evolution under Giuliani "a tremendous story . . . It's a different city."

* Warned that the GOP is in the "early stages of an enormous transition" and suggested electability is an issue for Republicans.

Rudy and Judges: His Statements Don't Wash

Rudy's been running around for a while now saying things like, I helped Reagan pick his nominees, I'd nominate justices like Alito & Roberts, etc. His supporters seem to think these statements, in and of themselves, justify SoCons believing that Rudy will be good for pro-life, pro-family, pro-second amendment, and pro-marriage voters. And this, in spite of the fact that Rudy is admittedly pro-choice, supported gun control in NY, and is pro-civil unions.

A great thread over at race42008.com throws a few more shadows of doubt on Rudy's viability as a conservative. Apparently his track record as mayor includes nominating scores of judges who are anything but conservatives--nominees that Democrats and even extremist groups like NARAL supported. Check it out.

I added this to the thread, after another poster tried to equate Rudy to Mitt by saying, in essence, if Mitt can change his mind, than so can Rudy:

Please show me the statement where Rudy claims to have had a “change of heart” on judges. I think Rudy thinks the moderates and liberals he’s already appointed fit within his conception of a “strict constructionist,” since I’ve never seen a statement from his saying “back then I thought a certain type of judge was acceptable, whereas now I have a higher standard.” Instead, look at LJ’s quote above. Rudy makes it sounds like appointing strict constructionists is such an obvious, slam-dunk move, it sounds like he’d been doing it all along: “I don’t understand how you cannot be for strict constructionist judges”

Apparently the judges that Rudy appointed, such as the ones being applauded by NARAL, fit within Rudy’s idea of a “strict constructionist.” The reality for any conservative who cares passionately about the judiciary, is that the Bork, Ginsburg, Kennedy, Souter (!), Thomas, Roberts and Alito nominations were all attempts (of various kinds) to put conservatives on the bench, and it was anything but a slam-dunk. Each and every time, the Dems pulled out every rhetorical trick and dirty personal attack in the book to smear the nominee and the President who nominated him. (Do these ring a bell: Bob Bork’s America, Anita Hill, “you supported arresting 12 year old girls for eating french fries,” Concerned Alumni of Princeton, etc, etc, etc). Successfully seating these nominees requires an enormous effort, the willingness to spend political capital, and savvy maneuvering. Picking the right nominee is also a matter of enormous complexity, requiring a dedicated effort to consider the nominee’s written decisions, personal history, jurisprudence, ability to parry SJC
inquisition, appearance on camera, ability to sway influential senators, etc.

The point is this: there’s a lot more to reinventing the judiciary than saying “I like judges like Alito and Roberts.” Show me how that connects to your political aims, your core convictions, and where you think the country needs to go. Then I’ll have some basis for believing you’ll prioritize the fight. Rudy hasn’t even come close to meeting that standard, and frankly, to this point, the evidence lines up against him. Does he still have time to make believers of those who care about the Court? Sure, and this week’s CPAC confrence would be a sensible time and place to start.

Another great site, MyManMitt, gives a lot more detail on Rudy's poor judicial nominations here.

Walter Reed

More info here on Walter Reed, this is extremely disgraceful. If Congress is going to vote themselves a day off, they would do well to use that day to take a field trip and make sure that our veterans are getting nothing less than the absolute best medical care. In fact, I'd argue it should be mandatory annual trip for Congressmen, especially in a time of war.

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Always sniffing for the truth

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