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12/20/2007
NOW’S THE TIME TO COME OUT FOR FRED

I realize that my legions of devoted followers have been sitting on the edge of their seats for days wondering when I was going to make a formal endorsement for a Republican candidate for President.

Not wanting to deprive you, my gentle readers, of an adequate oxygen supply any longer, you may now stop holding your breaths; it’s Fred.

No surprise to readers of this site but I think even my most devoted House Nuts didn’t understand the dilemma I was in. You see, I’m endorsing Fred Thompson despite the fact that I don’t think he can win, that a miracle would have to strike for Fred to capture the nomination.

“Don’t believe the polls!” is the battle cry of politicians who are way behind. This is pure sophistry when you consider the fact that many candidates have their own internal polls telling them pretty much what the public polls are saying; you’re behind and you don’t have much of a chance of winning. In Fred’s case, the polls reflect a very sobering reality; he’s got too much ground to make up and not enough time to do it.

He’s doing exactly the right thing by abandoning any thought of campaigning anywhere else except Iowa. It is in the Hawkeye state - the first in the nation test of strength - that Thompson must show himself a viable candidate. His own expectations are for third place. This is probably doable except for one thing; finishing third with 10-12% of the vote (which is where he’s at now) is not going to excite anyone anywhere. I think the only way Fred will be able to realistically continue the campaign is if he shocks the world and finishes second. This also is possible although the absolute latest from Iowa shows McCain in second with 20% and Romney 3rd with 17%. The important thing is that Romney is tanking. That leaves an opening for Thompson.

Where do you suppose McCain is most vulnerable? If you said immigration, you win a cookie. And who is the strongest candidate on immigration left in the field now that Tom Tancredo has exited the race? If you guessed Fred Thompson you get nothing because everyone knows that.

With Romney slipping, Thompson has a whisper of a chance at second place if he can hammer McCain between now and January 3 on immigration. This will probably end up helping Huckaduck also but that can’t be helped. A second in Iowa keeps the campaign alive at least through South Carolina.

But enough of the strategy, why endorse Fred now if I don’t think he can win? A simple matter of standing up for your guy when the chips are down and he’s at his lowest explains it. The most recent polls in Florida and South Carolina have Fred in 5th place and in single digits. If ever Fred needed a boost, it is from those of us who have liked what he stands for but held back from endorsing him for one reason or another. In my case, it was between Fred and Romney. But today’s news about Romney backpedaling on his contention that Governor George Romney marched with Martin Luther King during the civil rights era is the straw that broke the camel’s back. It never happened and his campaign disingenuously came out with a statement saying that Mitt was “speaking figuratively” not “literally.”

Well, figuratively speaking, I’m a fine figure of a man, devilishly handsome, and have women three at a time when I’m not battling terrorists and making liberal’s heads explode.

On the other hand, if you want to be “literal” about it, I’m 50 pounds overweight, devilishly cute, haven’t spoken to another woman since I met my Zsu-Zsu, and I write long, logical, cogent articles against terrorism while making liberal’s heads explode.

I don’t trust a man who speaks “figuratively” as an adjunct to using plain English. Romney speaks “figuratively” fluently - on abortion, gay marriage, immigration, and other issues. I can’t abide politicians who find it necessary to shade, color, or otherwise try to obscure their positions on issues. It smacks of pandering which is not only dishonest but reveals an inconstant character and someone without any core principles or beliefs.

Fred Thompson has no such weakness as far as I can determine. He is a man who knows his mind and has the intellectual heft to flesh out his ideas in an impressive, rational, and completely logical way. He knows government, knows the Congress, and knows what he believes. As a communicator, he may lack passion. But he makes up for it by speaking clearly and concisely about issues he cares deeply about.

Fred is real - what you see is what you get. In a way, he reminds me more of Eisenhower than Reagan. Not a simple man but a transparent one. There is little subterfuge or guile and his direct, no Mickey Mouse style of speaking and campaigning is a breath of fresh air when placed against his blow-dried rivals Romney and The Huckster.

In short, Fred Thompson is head and shoulders the better man when compared to any other Republican candidate. He may not be the best speaker. He may not shine on the campaign trail. But just who or what are we electing next November? The guy with the pretty smile and easy joke? Or are we trying to elect someone with the penetrating mind and the Iron will to go to Washington and really try and change things while being able to stand tall for America as we face the many serious threats against us in a very uncertain world.

So I would say to my fellow bloggers who, like me, know our endorsement means very little as far as the big picture of the campaign is concerned, that our collective voices, if shouted loud enough, just might do some good. The time is now to stand up for Fred if you support him. He needs our help desperately. Give as much money as you can spare. Write about the campaign often between now and January 3.

Go Fred!

UPDATE

Michelle Malkin commenting on Tom Tancredo’s coming departure from the campaign, offers a list of attributes she would like to see in a nominee:

Where do conservatives who take homeland security seriously turn?

I don’t need a candidate with whom I agree on 100 percent of the issues. At the very least, however, I’d like a candidate who doesn’t share the Left’s utter contempt for, apathy, or sheer condescension toward grass-roots Republicans and immigration enforcement activists. Character counts. Steadfastness counts. A spine would help. So would genuine passion and energy.

I would guess that her last criteria - “genuine passion and energy” - was probably a dig at Fred. I don’t necessarily disagree. Just go to Fred’s YouTube page and watch some of his early speeches and talks before small groups.

Deadly boring.

Does this mean Thompson lacks passion? Or “energy?” I think it means that Fred tries to engage people on an intellectual rather than emotional level. In politics, that doesn’t work very well. His recent performances are much more focused and yes, more energized. But being able to reach out and touch a voter’s soul may not be one of his strong points.

Other than that, Malkin was describing Fred Thompson to a “T.”

By: Rick Moran at 1:21 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

12/19/2007
THAT WAS A CONVENTION TO REMEMBER (PART 2)

Note: We’re going to play a little counterfactual game today based on the following input: Suppose the primaries end and no GOP candidate has achieved a majority of delegates? In that case, the role of the Republican convention will revert to what such conclaves used to be about; a venue where nominees were actually chosen rather than the idiotic beauty pageants and love fests they’ve become today.

Following are some excerpts from my blog posts from the time I arrived in Minneapolis on August 30, 2008 to the end of the convention.

(I will update this post for the next few days) Part 1 is here.

********************************************************

September 1: 8:00 AM

Got up early this morning thanks to Fausta falling out one of the hammocks Ed had strung up in the living room. Apparently, the poor dear fell right on top of Frank of Political Vindication who yowled in protest. This caused his partner Shane to wake up with a start and hit his head on the underside of the First Mate’s 18th century walnut Louis the XVI Gilded Trumeau, the poor guy forgetting he had fallen asleep underneath it.

Shane didn’t cause too much damage and I’m sure after applying a little Super Glue and chewing gum, the priceless antique will be as right as rain.

At any rate, the opening of the convention isn’t scheduled for another two hours but there’s big news coming out of the closed door meeting of the Rules Committee this morning.

According to Rule 16 (f), there is no appeal of the sanctions applied by the RNC to the 5 states who violated party rules by holding their primaries before February 5. But when did rules ever stop politicians? The deal worked out involves suspending the rules and seating the delegates anyway. This will be accomplished by the chair recognizing Florida and Governor Charlie Crist asking for the suspension of rules regarding infractions. The other 4 states will second the motion while a 5th state - probably New York - will also second thus fulfilling the rules requirement that 5 delegations be in favor of the rules suspension. The chair will put it to a voice vote where the “ayes” will have it.

Thus, a bloodbath is avoided - temporarily. It seems with the whole world watching, everyone so far has seen it in their own interest to try and maintain some semblance of decorum and unity. As Samuel Johnson said (or maybe it was Ben Franklin), “The prospect of being hung in the morning concentrates the mind wonderfully.”

Indeed.

A couple of notes on speakers. As you know, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will be the keynote speaker tonight. The speech is being billed as a plea for unity (duh) and a call to defend America from all enemies both here and abroad. I would hope that Governor Jindal has a few words of comfort for Democrats who may not be able to stomach voting for Hillary. There are certainly enough of them and reaching out to centrist Democrats would be a good idea politically.

Also, CNN is reporting that James Dobson is upset at his being slotted tomorrow afternoon. Did the guy think he rated a prime time shot? Pretty arrogant considering the fact that he’s still threatening to bolt the party if Rudy gets the nomination.

Finally, President Bush’s speech tomorrow night will probably begin around 9:00 PM local time (10:00 PM eastern). There was some thought given to shortening Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin’s speech but in the end, it was decided that the “anti-Hillary” concept was too important to shortchange.

Mostly boring rules debates this morning. Senator Coleman’s speech tonight is probably the next bit of news so I will update this post after he’s done.

UPDATE: 1:00 PM

Just got handed this press release from Mark Sanford’s people:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(No Embargo)

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA - South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has announced his candidacy for President of the United States today.

“This is not a ‘Favorite Son’ candidacy. I am offering myself as a compromise candidate and hope that the convention will put aside its differences and come together as all Republicans should.”

Governor Sanford will address several southern delegations later this afternoon in an effort to garner support for his campaign…

Not entirely unexpected. Sanford mulled running this year but held off, smartly in my opinion. The tip-off to this move came when he failed to endorse McCain last January (after endorsing him in 2000) following the Arizonian’s shocking win in New Hampshire. It was at that point that talk of an up-for-grabs convention really started to become more than idle curiosity and perhaps Sanford saw a possible opportunity.

Regardless of what he says, he is, in fact, a “favorite son” candidate - and a regional one at that. His goal is to force the number of ballots go beyond 4 or 5. At that point, if he has a pocketful of delegates, he could probably name his own price in a Thompson administration (most observers see him leaning toward Fred). If Fred has retired at that point, he may offer himself as Romney’s Vice President.

How many delegates could he realistically hope for? A nice round figure would be 100. And in a close race where every single head is being counted, 100 votes is a huge number.

Sanford is a very capable and attracive politician - a man whose time may be in the near future. Is there any scenario where the convention could stampede his way? I would think only if the delegates were exhausted and had no where else to go would they consider someone outside of the Fab Five who are already here.

One humorous note: There’s a rumor that Rudy’s people are hopping mad at the order in which the candidates will be nominated on Wednesday night. Each candidate will be allowed one nominating speech and one seconding speech lasting no more than 5 minutes. They have also limited the “demonstrations” of support to no more than 15 minutes.

The Giuliani people are upset that since they are going first the speeches and demonstration for Rudy will begin before prime time - around 5:30 eastern. The order was determined by lots so I don’t exactly know what Rudy’s people think the RNC could do about it. The rules require that the voting begin immediately after the nominating speeches are over. Since it’s already likely to be a long night, I think the RNC is doing well to get the speechifying and demonstrations over by 8:00 eastern so at least people can see a little of the drama of how this convention will play out in prime time.

More after Coleman’s speech.

UPDATE II

And so ends Day I of what is proving so far to be something of a love fest. The two speakers tonight acquitted themselves well. Norm Coleman’s welcoming speech was short, sweet, and funny. The bit about Minnesota being in the midst of an Al Gore caused heat wave was priceless.

Everyone was interested to see Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s new governor and someone many believe might make a run some day for president. As keynote speaker, his job was to hit the themes of the convention and inspire some optimism about the future. An impossible task given the circumstances. Still, he also did pretty well. I think they could have gotten a better speaker (Alaska governor Sarah Palin would, in my opinion, have been a better choice) but Jindal wasn’t a disaster.

Debate on the platform began this afternoon and surprisingly, the social cons were holding their fire. Of course, the real controversy comes tomorrow when the convention takes up the controversial plank on gay marriage.

Given that no one wants to alienate anyone else’s supporters, there haven’t been the bruising fights on the platform this year as there has been in the past. Almost all the major disagreements were worked out in the last two weeks behind closed doors in the Platform Committee.

But the libertarians are not going to sit still for the Huckabee-inpsired amendment on gay marriage which goes far beyond the 2004 GOP platform which didn’t mention gays, only “that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.”

Huckabee’s swipe at homosexuals to include the word “unnatural” in the plank has set off a firestorm. This morning, the debate hits the floor with James Dobson taking the stage to defend the wording. It will be interesting to see how the party wriggles out of this one.

Back to the Morrissey Hotel for a couple of hours sleep.

By: Rick Moran at 1:38 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

12/18/2007
“THE RICK MORAN SHOW” - LIVE

Join me today from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM central time for the Rick Moran Show on Blog Talk Radio.

My special guest will be Ed Morrissey of Captains Quarters blog. Ed is also Political Director of Blog Talk Radio and hosts his own show “Heading Right Radio.” We’ll talk some politics and probably some other good stuff so don’t miss it.

You can access the stream by clicking the button below.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

You can call in and talk to Ed at (718) 664-9764.

UPDATE

Interesting show. Ed and I went off on some interesting tangents including a discussion of religion, atheism, and their relationship to politics.

You can stream the show on the player below or click the button above to download the show.

By: Rick Moran at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

THAT WAS A CONVENTION TO REMEMBER

Note: We’re going to play a little counterfactual game today based on the following input: Suppose the primaries end and no GOP candidate has achieved a majority of delegates? In that case, the role of the Republican convention will revert to what such conclaves used to be about; a venue where nominees were actually chosen rather than the idiotic beauty pageants and love fests they’ve become today.

Following are some excerpts from my blog posts from the time I arrived in Minneapolis on August 30, 2008 to the end of the convention.

(I will update this post for the next few days)

***********************************************************

August 31 - 11:00 AM

I’m sitting in Ed Morrissey’s home office trying to get comfortable on the floor. Every available seat has been taken up by one of the 50 or so bloggers Ed graciously agreed to put up during the convention. It’s not as crowded as you might think although internet access is, as you can guess, at a premium. The only really bad thing about it is the bathroom situation. Ed partially fixed the problem by setting up a couple of port-o-potties in his backyard next to the circus tent where a couple of dozen bloggers are sleeping but it hasn’t helped much - at least judging by how quickly the flowers in his garden are wilting as a result of people who just can’t hold their water long enough.

But we’re here anyway -witnesses to what most observers are saying is going to be the most exciting convention in 100 years. Five candidates have arrived with enough delegates to challenge for the Republican nomination for president - the result of an extraordinary primary season that saw no candidate receive the 1191 delegates necessary to claim the nomination.

As a refresher, here’s where we stand:

1. Guiliani - 712 pledged delegates and superdelegates
2. Mitt Romney - 633 pledged delegates and superdelegates
3. Mike Huckabee - 502 pledged delegates and superdelegates
4. Fred Thompson - 278 pledged delegates and superdelegates
5. John McCain - 255 pledged delegates and superdelegates

(About 135 of the superdelegates have made it known that they are committed to their candidate for the first ballot only.)

And to give you an idea of how contested this convention is going to be, even the number of delegates it takes to win is up in the air. That’s because the current number of delegates who are to be seated may change when the rules are discussed at tomorrow’s session.

Back in November 2007, the GOP National Committee decided to punish Florida, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and Wyoming by taking away half their delegates because they held their primary or caucus before February 5, thus violating Party Rule 16. That’s an extra 136 delegates that each of the winning candidate in those states would dearly love to add to their total. If the rules challenges are successful, the magic number rises to 1259.

So tomorrow will have a lot of blood on the floor. That’s because in their infinite wisdom, the rules committee, meeting last week, decided to take up the challenges to Rule 16 on a state by state basis rather than en masse. This has assured a bloodbath as individual candidates will seek to deny the others the full fruits of their caucus or primary victories.

(There’s already a rumor that Florida is going to seat its entire delegation regardless of the outcome of the rules vote. The imagination has not been invented that can conjure up a more horrific scenario.)

All the candidates sound confident. Thompson thinks he’s a third or 4th ballot shoe in. Romney is banking on disaffected Guiliani delegates from the northeast to put him within spitting distance of a majority after the second ballot where switches will then be allowed. Rudy has the same strategy only grabbing disaffected Romney delegates. Huckabee says he’s doing a lot of praying. And McCain doesn’t think he has much of a chance but came to Minneapolis to honor the commitment of his supporters.

An ABC delegate canvass that ended yesterday shows that Giuliani has a chance for a second ballot win - if the rule 16 fight goes his way in Florida where he edged Huckabee in late January. But there are so many uncommitted superdelegates that it’s just too hard to be definitive about anything - as ABC points out.

I’ll update this entry later if any news breaks.

UPDATE: 11:00 PM

Got a few minutes before the scramble starts to find a place to sleep. I see where Jon Swift has taken the entire dining room table, the lucky sot. And I can’t be sure but I think Ace deliberately chowed down on raw garlic so he could have the sofa all to himself.

The First Mate is being a good sport about everything except I think I overheard her talking to a lawyer. Something about “extreme cruelty” although I couldn’t be absolutely sure.

At any rate, I just watched a Charlie Gibson interview with Mike Huckabee who seemed imbued with the spirit throughout. As near as I can tell, the Huckster is looking for a compromise on Rule 16 that would guarantee all delegates being seated after the 2nd ballot is over. This would seem to help Giuliani but I think the governor believes the goodwill engendered will buy him some delegates when the Chairman calls for switches following the second ballot. And if he can keep Rudy from going over the top, that third ballot should be the wildest convention scene since the Democrats in Chicago in 1968.

Meanwhile, ABC is also reporting that Mitt Romney met with representatives of Thompson late this evening. No one is saying anything but the speculation has been that if Thompson can’t get any closer to the frontrunners following the second ballot, that he may throw his support to Romney.

And yes, you can bet that the Veep spot will be discussed. It is thought that Rudy’s negative ad campaign against Thompson in Florida, hinting that his health problems may return, soured the Tennessean on Giuliani to the point he would never accept the second spot from him. But Fred has no problems with Mitt although he went after him for flip flopping in South Carolina - one of the 6 states he won. But this is September and the convention where bygones will be bygones - as long as the Veep spot is in play.

One last morsel of info. The National Committee is thinking of putting Haley Barbour in the Chair for the rules fight tomorrow. Haley is an old hand and could probably maintain control as well as anyone.

Off to bed. I wonder if the dog would mind if I slept in his basket…

By: Rick Moran at 1:03 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

12/17/2007
CONSERVATIVE STUDENT FAKES ASSAULT AT PRINCETON
CATEGORY: Politics

In the internet age, it doesn’t appear to matter if you’re right or left because some people will do anything for attention.

There was a story yesterday about a conservative student at Princeton who claimed he was harassed and beaten up ostensibly by liberals for promoting a conservative values agenda on campus:

After receiving multiple death threats, a Princeton student was beat unconscious last Friday in what appears to be a politically-motivated assault. The attack came after emails saying, “WE WILL KILL YOU,” were sent to the officers of a student group that promotes traditional views of marriage and sexual ethics.

Francisco Nava ‘09, suffered serious abrasions, bleeding, and a light concussion after being beat until he lost consciousness this Friday. The attack, which occurred within blocks of Princeton’s campus, appears to be connected to multiple death threats received by Nava and other officers in the Anscombe Society. Nava was assaulted on Witherspoon Street near the Princeton campus while walking to the home of a local youth he mentors through a student volunteer organization.The attackers did not take any of Nava’s belongings.

One of two assailants, identified as a white, college-aged male, stopped Nava and asked him if he would “help someone who’s been hurt.” The assailant then pulled Nava into a dark area where another male joined in holding Nava’s jaw shut. The two assailants thrust Nava’s face against a brick wall causing abrasions, according to an email sent to administrators. Nava was then punched until he lost consciousness. When he awoke the assailants were beating him with a glass bottle. Nava’s two attackers said, “shut the f* up,” apparently echoing words that had appeared in messages received by Nava and four others affiliated with the conservative Anscombe Society. After the assault, Nava was taken to Princeton Medical Center for treatment. He was released late Friday evening.

There were also some threatening emails sent to a couple of conservative professors.

However, there were a few weird items in Nava’s description of the attack. First and foremost were the “black clad” attackers. Ski masks I can see. But getting into a costume to rough up a classmate doesn’t sound very credible to me.

Also, the description of the beating given by Nava would have left anyone absorbing that kind of punishment in the hospital if not the morgue. While he went to the medical center, he was released after treatment.

Both of these parts of the story had my BS antenna on full when I read about it yesterday which is why I didn’t blog about it although some conservatives did. And sure enough, today we get the truth of the matter:

Francisco Nava ‘09 has admitted to fabricating an alleged assault on him that he said occurred Friday evening and also to sending threatening emails to himself, other members of the Anscombe Society and prominent conservative politics professor Robert George, Princeton Township Police said today.

“He fabricated the story,” Det. Sgt. Ernie Silagyi said.

Nava was released to Public Safety and charges “have not been filed pending further investigation,” according to a statement from Township Police.

I suppose this is what happens when you criminalize thought. That is, hate crimes receive an inordinate amount of attention compared to a run of the mill assault. We have already seen numerous “victims” of hate crimes - most recently a fireman from Baltimore who faked a threatening note that was accompanied by a hangman’s noose - who filed false police reports because of the national attention drawn to racially motivated or religious bias attacks.

Most of the perps are young like Nava although a few teachers have also been caught faking on campus hate crimes. It raises an interesting question about the efficacy of criminalizing incorrect thinking.

Nobody is saying that hate crimes don’t occur. The question should be why make it a more serious crime as a result of how someone views the victim? At bottom, we are asking prosecutors to read the minds of criminals in order to determine whether a true hate crime was committed or not rather than words exchanged “in the heat of the moment” as so often occurs in scuffles and fights.

Then there are the racially motivated assaults and killings where it was somehow determined that sentencing under the old criminal statute was inadequate to address the nature of a hate crime. I find this an unconvincing argument if only because circumstances always play a roll in the sentencing decision by a judge who can throw the book at a perpetrator of a violent crime for his motivations just as hard if the criminal act was deemed a hate crime.

The national attention given many of these name calling attacks and threatening letters will almost certainly mean that we will continue to see these incidents staged so that some attention starved kid gets his name in the paper. In the case of young Mr. Nava and his fantasy of suffering for his political beliefs, let us hope the police come down hard on him as a warning to others what happens when you send the police on a wild goose chase.

By: Rick Moran at 3:13 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

CONFUSION REIGNS AS CONGRESSMAN KING ENDORSES FRED

Radio Iowa has the perplexing details on Representative Steve King’s endorsement of Fred Thompson for President.

Let’s just say that King didn’t cover himself in any glory with his announcement:

“So I’m down to, of course, Romney and Thompson and in the end I have to come down on the side of this — who am I most comfortable with on the issues that I believe in….When I se someone who believes in their core….when they make a decision, if they’re where I am philosophically….so after really, I didn’t sleep last night but I come here to the podium to tell you that I have great respect for all the candidates.”

King now veers into a discussion of faith — an apparent reference to Romney’s Mormonism. King suggests no one should be denied the presidency because of their personal faith.

Now, he’s talking about “fire in his belly” and concludes with this, calling his pick, “the person who I believe destiny has called to be the president of the United States. I will be working for…Fred Thompson for president.”

He was questioned about the “fire in the belly” comment.

“I’m kind of an antidote for that,” King said.

After the event, I asked King if he had made up his mind on the spot as he was speaking this morning.

“You have great intuition,” King replied.

Romney’s people must have received some kind of heads up because they were at the press conference in force. A couple of the press in the room - most notably Mark Murray from MSNBC’s First Read - actually reported that Romney had the nod.

And the endorsements keep coming… Congressman Steve King (R), one of Iowa’s most strident critics of illegal immigration and a champion of the state’s rural conservatives, has endorsed Romney.

With a mere 17 days until the Iowa caucuses, King’s endorsement may resonate with conservatives in the western part of the state. King had fostered a close relationship with longshot candidate Tom Tancredo, who shares his strong anti-illegal immigration views. But speculation yesterday was that the much-revered (in some circles) congressman wanted to make a splash by endorsing one of the race’s front-runners.

King’s endorsement of Romney could serve to further the Massachusetts governor’s case against Huckabee, whom Team Romney hopes to paint as weak on immigration.

Then, the embarrassing update:

King just announced that he’s supporting Thompson. Team Romney is in the back of the room looking bewildered. They were all here, leading all the press to conclude that it was an endorsement for Romney.

I can’t believe that King made up his mind on the spot as RI reports. That’s got to be a joke, although given the confusion, not a very good one.

So realistically what does this do for Fred in Iowa? For one thing, it maintains the momentum he has enjoyed from the debate (Fred wasn’t expected to get the Des Moines Register endorsement anyway). For another, King has some clout in the western part of the state and among some very influential groups including anti-abortion and anti-illegal immigration interests.

But with 17 days to go and Fred facing an uphill fight to exceed expectations, it may be too little too late. His numbers have barely budged in the Rassmussen daily tracking poll since the debate. But starting today, Thompson begins the kind of retail campaigning that has been lacking in his Iowa and New Hampshire efforts previously. He will start a town by town bus tour from now until the Caucuses on January 3.

This is the kind of thing that voters in New Hampshire and Iowa demand of the candidates. The fact that Thompson has failed to do something similar in New Hampshire explains his dismal showing there - garnering less than 5% in all the polls now. It’s only half a joke when you can say that New Hampshirites won’t consider voting for a candidate unless they’ve shaken his hand at least twice. Iowans aren’t quite as bad but also revel in the attention of the candidates.

Right now unless lightening strikes the race and things go topsy-turvy, it appears that Fred has an excellent chance of finishing 3rd in Iowa and no higher. As much as I’d like to see Thompson in the race for a while, I just don’t think that’s going to give him the kind of boost he needs to win in South Carolina and make Florida a competitive venue for him. In short, I think it probable that Fred exits the stage probably immediately after Super Tuesday. He will be out of money and most likely in 4th or even 5th place in the delegate hunt and virtually mathematically eliminated from getting enough delegates to win.

While admittedly much can happen in a month in this race, the comeback kid at this point would appear to be McCain. He has a real shot at winning New Hampshire if he can get the independents and conservative Democrats to cross over and vote for him. And it appears that he is also starting to make a move in South Carolina - home of many active duty military and veterans. Two such victories would probably make him competitive on Super Tuesday - especially in the south and some of the larger states. In short, McCain’s potential delegate haul at this point far exceeds the possibilities for Fred. The arithmetic just isn’t there for the Tennessean.

Fred has got to hope that Romney continues his slide in Iowa and that he can somehow sneak past him for second place. That would be the kind of shocker that could turn his campaign around and give him a boost that would help in fundraising as well as his poll numbers. But he has a huge amount of ground to make up - at least 15 points in most polls - which makes a second place finish unlikely as of today.

Any way it turns out, Fred has done a service to the party by offering his articulated positions on several important issues. They are a good starting point for any candidate if they wish to be taken seriously by conservatives next November.

UPDATE

Malkin thinks that Romney’s Meet the Press performance where he was less than forthright on his immigration flip flops was a determining factor for King:

As I mentioned, Rep. King has been one of the strongest proponents of strict immigration enforcement. Looks like Mitt Romney’s Meet The Press performance yesterday–go back and read his Clintonian answer on amnesty–didn’t help. Like I said yesterday, the endorsement promises to carry much more weight with grass-roots conservatives than the left-leaning Des Moines Register’s.

By: Rick Moran at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

12/16/2007
NO DEAL FOR THE LEFT ON HYPOCRISY IMMUNITY

For your amusement, I offer the following from Digby:

A Democratic president, no matter who it is, is going to pay for the Republicans’ sins. But it won’t be just because the Republicans and Blue Dogs in congress suddenly “realize” they have co-equal power. I predict that the right wing noise machine will shout far and wide that the election was stolen (probably with the help of “illegal aliens.”) The new president will not be allowed to weed out even one right wing plant anywhere in the executive branch without being accused of politicizing it. There will be no executive privilege as the courts rediscover their “responsibilities.” Scientists and experts will all be accused of being shills for the liberal special interests. The president will be accused of violating Americans’ civil liberties and destroying the constitution. There will be widespread accusations of fraud and corruption and non-stop investigations.

A “stolen” election? The 2006 election came and went and not a peep from Republicans or any sane conservative blogger that the election was “stolen.” Republicans, generally acting like adults about most things, don’t engage in the fantastical and uproariously funny conspiracy theories indulged in by our leftist friends about dark doings at Diebold or after midnight vote stealing. Perhaps Digby was projecting.

In fact, that entire paragraph is an amazing summary of exactly what Democrats have done to Republicans over the last 7 years. And what’s more important, it was done for exactly the reason that Digby is accusing the GOP of in his nightmare future; pure, unadulterated politics.

What Digby is worried about is that when the Democratic president exercises the same kind of executive authority used by the Bush Administration, that she is going to have to support it thus making her out to be the rank hypocrite she has always been. In short, on this and all other issues she mentions above, she wants immunity from charges of being a hypocrite just because she has posited this outrageous scenario. Every time a Democratic president does something that Bush was criticized for, you can bet that Digby and her friends will be whining about the Republican noise machine and dark forces arrayed against them while giving that action their unquestioned support.

It’s a “Get out of being called a Hypocrite Card” he wants and she’s not going to get it.

Sorry, it won’t wash. First of all, don’t worry about Republican charges of stealing the election. It ain’t going to be that close. Secondly, the simple act of projecting all these Republican sins and admitting that Democrats will be doing something similar proves that their criticism has been driven by ideology and politics, not concern over “shredding the constitution” or any other nonsense the left has been spouting these last years.

And yes, the “Republican Noise Machine” is going to be in high gear everytime a Democratic president does something that Bush has been raked over the coals for. If I were Digby, I would examine my archives pretty carefully and delete posts that will come back to haunt her after a Democrat is elected president. Just use the criteria she set out above to cleanse the record because sister, you and your compatriot’s feet are going to be held to the fire when it comes to criticisms you have made of this president that you then turn around and praise and support when a Democrat is in power.

Preemptive absolution isn’t going to do you any good. Trust me when I tell you that all of the clever invective you and other liberals have used over the past 7 years to tell us how how close the country is to a dictatorship and how evil the Republicans have been will be thrown in your face whenever a Democrat dares to go beyond the “Greenwald Line” of exercising executive authority.

No deal on hypocrisy immunity. You will be sentenced to experience the next 4-8 years exactly as you fear; one example of sanctimony exposed after another.

UPDATE

Thanks to commenters who pointed out Digby is a woman. Pronouns changed accordingly.

By: Rick Moran at 4:13 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

12/15/2007
THE VERY DEEP THOUGHTS OF MIKE HUCKABEE

Foreign Affairs magazine has been running a series of essays from the presidential candidates on what their foreign policy goals would be during their administration if they were elected.

I think it significant that Mike Huckabee is one of the last candidates to make an appearance on the august pages of this highly respected magazine. No doubt, the editors were hoping that Huckabee would have seen the utter futility of trying to fool people into thinking that he had thought much about the subject let alone come to any conclusions that wouldn’t reveal himself to be, well, a former governor of Arkansas with as much business being entrusted with the fate of the planet as my pet cat Snowball.

And at least Snowball has the good sense not to stick his nose into things he knows little or nothing about.

This essay is an embarrassment. To aver that Mike Huckabee is unprepared to assume the office of president is to state the obvious. Kevin Drum referred to the Huckster’s thoughts as a combination of “barstool ignorance and internet-email-list credulity.” Indeed, the FA piece reminds me of some conversations I had in taverns when I was a kid, half in the bag, holding forth before an audience of equally soused neophytes as we sought to solve the problems of the world. It was an easy enough task as long as you didn’t know what you were talking about and your views were informed by reading Time Magazine and High Times.

I wonder what Huckabee was smoking when he came up with this:

As president, my goal in the Arab and Muslim worlds will be to calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy. It is self-defeating to attempt too much too soon: doing so could mean holding elections that the extremists would win. But it is also self-defeating to do nothing. We must first destroy existing terrorist groups and then attack the underlying conditions that breed them: the lack of basic sanitation, health care, education, jobs, a free press, fair courts — which all translates into a lack of opportunity and hope. The United States’ strategic interests as the world’s most powerful country coincide with its moral obligations as the richest. If we do not do the right thing to improve life in the Muslim world, the terrorists will step in and do the wrong thing.

(Hat Tip: Hot Air)

Good luck and God Bless, President Huckabee. It’s one thing to propose the impossible (” calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy”). It is quite another to forget to tell us how we’re going to accomplish it. Holding elections “too soon?” What kind of nonsense is that and what makes Huckabee think we’d have much of a say in when any country holds elections - especially if our army isn’t there to force the issue? Who’s to say it’s “too soon” to hold elections? What criteria do you use to determine such an idiotic policy?

Huckabee refers to US unilateralism in the world today as “arrogant.” What if the rest of the world has an entirely different idea of what constitutes elections held “too soon” than we do? Pretty steep price to pay for not being thought of as “arrogant.”

And I thought we had disabused ourselves of the idea that “underlying conditions” in the Middle East created terrorism. Perhaps someone should remind the candidate that the profile of your average suicide bomber who attacks the west is far from the dirt poor, uneducated rabble who make up most of the region’s citizens. The typical terrorist is most often university educated, comes from families that are relatively well off, and has probably lived for a time in the west.

We will be a long time destroying “existing terrorist groups” - especially since the more we confront them, the more recruits they seem to attract. This is true in Iraq and elsewhere such as the Philippines and Somalia. It would seem to put the Huckster’s attack on “underlying conditions” on hold since he insists on accomplishing the former before tackling the latter.

Contradictions abound in Huckabee’s scribblings. Daniel Drezner found this beaut:

American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States’ main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists. At the same time, my administration will never surrender any of our sovereignty, which is why I was the first presidential candidate to oppose ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would endanger both our national security and our economic interests.

Drezner pulls no punches:

Really, you just have to stand back and marvel at the contradiction of sentiments contained in that paragraph. It’s endemic to the entire essay — for someone who claims he wants to get rid of the bunker mentality, Huckabee offers no concrete ideas for how to do that, and a lot of policies (rejecting the Law of the Sea Treaty, using force in Pakistan, boosting defense spending by 50%) that will ensure anti-Americanism for years to come.

Increase defense spending by 50%? Why? What are you going to spend it on? Huckabee is talking about increasing the defense budget from roughly $500 billion to $750 billion. Did he just pull that 50% number out of thin air?

The increases the Pentagon itself wants amount to around 25% over three years. That includes the ambitious goal of increasing the size of the army by 65,000 and Marine Corps by another 27,000. Most experts believe that any further increase in the size of the army could necessitate a draft - unless standards were lowered further and incentives raised significantly. Just what does Huckabee plan to buy to justify those stupendous increases?

Drezner also points to this bit of sophomoric thinking by Huckabee:

Sun-tzu’s ancient wisdom is relevant today: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Yet we have not had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years; the U.S. government usually communicates with the Iranian government through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. When one stops talking to a parent or a friend, differences cannot be resolved and relationships cannot move forward. The same is true for countries. The reestablishment of diplomatic ties will not occur automatically or without the Iranians’ making concessions that serve to create a less hostile relationship.

Perhaps a good beginning would be to ask the Iranians not to order the chant “Death to America” at every mosque in the land after Friday prayers. Then, we could politely inquire as to whether the regime would drop their insistence on “wiping Israel off the map.” Those two “concessions” will never be forthcoming because anti-Americanism and the destruction of Israel are defining characteristics of the regime. It would be like asking the US to give up promoting freedom around the world.

And don’t you love the comparison of our little spat with Iran to that of an arguement with a friend or parent? The difference being, of course, our estranged friend is not likely to be considering the idea of building a nuclear weapon in his backyard. Nor is it likely that a dispute with a parent would end up having our mother sic a suicide bomber on us.

Simple minded sophistry.

If you take the time to read this piece, you will be struck by how much it fails to resemble anything Ronald Reagan, George Bush #41, or any other notable Republican of recent vintage would have come up with. It is a mish mash of unrealistic notions of America’s place in the world along with a cloying appeal to a moralistic international order that doesn’t exist, never existed, and will probably never be realized.

But I’ve nearly given up pointing out Huckabee’s transparent and frightening shortcomings. It’s obvious that nothing in this guy’s past, nothing he says, nothing he stands for will affect his support. He is going to have to be defeated the old fashioned way; one of the other candidates is going to have to appeal to a larger segment of the Republican party than Huckabee. And the question is, by the time that happens - by the time enough candidates have dropped out and it’s a two or three man race - will it be too late to stop Huckabee from getting the nomination?

UPDATE: FROM OUR “OH MY GOD” DEPARTMENT

See-Dubya did a little fact checking and found this gem. Apparently, Huckabee has been communing with Vito Corleone:

At first I read that and thought, Sun Tzu said that? I always thought that quote was from…

Yep:

* Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
* This has often been attributed to Sun Tzu and sometimes to Niccolò Machiavelli, but there are no published sources yet found which predate its use by “Michael Corleone” in The Godfather Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola: My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
It’s a good line, and it’s not the end of the world if he had just thrown that one off in the stump speech. And hey, the principle is certainly there in Machiavelli (I might find it later today) if not the exact wording.

But Governor? Foreign Affairs. Policy article. Time to impress the swells. Do a little fact checking.

Time to go to the mattresses, Mikey.

By: Rick Moran at 10:52 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

12/14/2007
DRUNK WITH RELIGIOSITY

It is difficult to write about religion in politics these days. Chances are, you either muck it up and offend someone or worse, you get it right and offend someone. The point being, there are many who will read into what you write whatever they please, eager to rhetorically bash your head in because you are making a point with which they violently disagree.

Simply put, the intrusion of religion into politics has gone beyond what it should in a healthy democracy and somebody, somewhere has to say so.

Thank you Charles Krauthammer:

This campaign is knee-deep in religion, and it’s only going to get worse. I’d thought that the limits of professed public piety had already been achieved during the Republican CNN-YouTube debate when some squirrelly looking guy held up a Bible and asked, “Do you believe every word of this book?” — and not one candidate dared reply: None of your damn business.

Instead, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee bent a knee and tried appeasement with various interpretations of scriptural literalism. The right answer, the only answer, is that the very question is offensive. The Constitution prohibits any religious test for office. And while that proscribes only government action, the law is also meant to be a teacher. In the same way that civil rights laws established not just the legal but also the moral norm that one simply does not discriminate on the basis of race — changing the practice of one generation and the consciousness of the next — so the constitutional injunction against religious tests is meant to make citizens understand that such tests are profoundly un-American.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a spirited debate on the place of religion in politics. But the candidates are confusing two arguments. The first, which conservatives are winning, is defending the legitimacy of religion in the public square. The second, which conservatives are bound to lose, is proclaiming the privileged status of religion in political life.

I’m not talking about criticizing the idea that faith animates a candidate’s position on the issues. Nor am I calling for a moratorium on talking about religion in a political context. Neither is Krauthammer. What Krauthammer is saying - and what I am agreeing with - is that a line has been crossed, most notably on the Republican side, that seeks to give religion a privileged position in policy debates - absolute moral authority with a vengeance based not on the efficacy of one’s position on the issues but rather on the strength or nature of their religious beliefs:

Imposing religion means the mandating of religious practice. It does not mean the mandating of social policy that some people may have come to support for religious reasons.

But a certain kind of conservative is not content to argue that a religious underpinning for a policy is not disqualifying. He insists that it is uniquely qualifying, indeed, that it confers some special status.

Krauthammer easily demolishes the leftist idea that posits the notion that faith based opposition to abortion or gay marriage is somehow indicative of a desire to “impose” one form of religion or another on the American populace. For the Christian right, these are moral issues they are fighting for - the same kind of moral fight carried out by the left to achieve civil rights for blacks, women, and others. No one complained when the Christian preacher Martin Luther King framed the civil rights debate in biblical terms of loving your neighbor and “doing God’s will” in holding a mirror up so that America could see the ugliness of racial bigotry. King even patterned his political campaign to change America on the Christian notion of “turning the other cheek” when confronted with the violent reaction by southern authorities.

But there is a huge difference between being inspired or animated in your politics by religion and thrusting your religious beliefs forward as “proof” of your superiority as a candidate. Or that your faith gives you a privileged position in a debate over public policy issues.

And that, boys and girls, is the problem with this GOP field. The Democrats have their own agenda when it comes to trying to appeal to Christians. Witness Barack Obama’s efforts in South Carolina where he staged a “Gospel-fest” featuring some of the country’s finest Gospel singers. But Obama seems to wear his faith like an old coat - comfortable and roomy. Candidates Romney and Huckabee wear their faith like a straitjacket, the tenets of which limit their worldview while binding them to positions on social issues that brook no opposition because they are based on holy writ.

Romney made this clear in his “Faith in America” speech. An excellent speech for the most part in which Romney made the case for religious liberty quite eloquently, it nevertheless featured some troubling omissions as well as a statement that is patently false:

Romney has been faulted for not throwing at least one bone of acknowledgment to nonbelievers in his big religion speech last week. But he couldn’t, because the theme of the speech was that there is something special about having your values drawn from religious faith. Indeed, faith is politically indispensable. “Freedom requires religion,” Romney declared, “just as religion requires freedom.”

But this is nonsense — as Romney then proceeded to demonstrate in that very same speech. He spoke of the empty cathedrals in Europe. He’s right about that: Postwar Europe has experienced the most precipitous decline in religious belief in the history of the West. Yet Europe is one of the freest precincts on the planet. It is an open, vibrant, tolerant community of more than two dozen disparate nations living in a pan-continental harmony and freedom unseen in all previous European history.

I totally reject the idea that freedom and religion are interchangeable or that one “requires” the other. Not only for the reasons Krauthammer lists but because while freedom is the natural state of man, that we were born free, religion is, for all practical purposes, a man made institution. It must be taught and so is not part of the “natural law” that makes all men free. Exercising the freedom to believe anything you wish is a natural right but not the belief itself.

I realize I’m treading on dangerous ground since most “natural rights” adherents believe that freedom is God’s gift to humans at birth. As an atheist, I reject that notion based simply on the fact that God is not necessary in this equation. Being born free is our patrimony as human beings and does not require any kind of supreme being to validate it.

Just as government is designed by man to regulate the affairs of citizens - who in an ideal situation grant the government the powers necessary to do so - religion is designed by man to regulate behavior. While some recent research shows that we have genes that give us a conscience and perhaps even a gene that grants us a propensity to believe in a higher power, the fact is cultural and moral strictures must be taught and are therefore excluded in any debate over the necessity for faith and freedom to co-exist in a democracy.

Romney was right in saying his faith shouldn’t exclude him from consideration for the presidency. But he was dead wrong in positing the notion that faith promotes freedom and vice versa:

In some times and places, religion promotes freedom. In other times and places, it does precisely the opposite, as is demonstrated in huge swaths of the Muslim world, where religion has been used to impose the worst kind of unfreedom.

In this country, there is no special political standing that one derives from being a Christian leader like Mike Huckabee or a fervent believer like Mitt Romney. Just as there should be no disability or disqualification for political views that derive from religious sensibilities, whether the subject is civil rights or stem cells.

In the past, the issue of the religious beliefs of a candidate was something discussed only in those long, Sunday edition newspaper articles that profiled a candidate’s background and upbringing. But with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter and his admission to being “born again” as a Christian, I can’t recall a campaign season where religiosity has been so visible, sprinkling the discussion of issues with biblical quotes and other outward manifestations of faith. Candidates raise it casually in the course of their stump speech or, like Mike Huckabee, when explaining his sudden rise in the polls and attributing it to a higher power.

No one ever pointed out the discrepancy in say, Nixon’s Quakerism and his fighting the Viet Nam war. Today, charges of “hypocrisy” would abound from his political opponents. And that’s the difference between a political culture that respects and appreciates faith, putting it carefully in a place where it informs a candidate’s position on issues and candidates that push faith front and center in order to gain a political advantage.

Religion as a supplement that unites us or as a wedge that divides us. Isn’t that what the debate is really about?

UPDATE

Allow me to take cover behind Ed Morrissey:

The Republican primary risks falling into a theological beauty contest. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have actual policy positions and track records as governors, something that pundits and the media seem to have forgotten. Neither man is running for Pope — neither man qualifies, of course — and the nature of their doctrines matter little in comparison to the nature of those policies they espouse.

All of us have value systems from which we operate, and America has a splendid diversity of them. The shared values we have in the political realm are informed by those in the religious or personal realm, but in the end we judge people on what they do, not which congregation they join. Americans of many faiths and of no faith at all have joined together to extend self-government on the basis of rational decisions about policy for over 200 years, and the President serves all equally.

Let’s call off the revival, please, and get back to policy.

By: Rick Moran at 8:42 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (21)

12/13/2007
THE COUNCIL HAS SPOKEN

The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category is “Of Islamist Foxes and British Chickens” by newbie Wolf Howling. Finishing second was “FBI Rebuts CAIR Scare Tactics” by Cheat Seeking Missiles.

Coming out on top in the Non Council category was “Teddy Muhammad” by Pierre Tristam’s Middle East Issues Blog.

If you would like to participate in the weekly Watchers vote, go here and follow instructions.

By: Rick Moran at 9:30 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)