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2/1/2012
Newt Soldiers On

Ross Douthat on why Gingrich can’t win the GOP nomination:

If Gingrich can’t compete in Florida, he can’t compete nationally.

To date, all of the Republican primary contests have been held in smallish states with distinctive demographic profiles. This made it possible to play up the significance of Gingrich’s convincing South Carolina victory, while downplaying Romney’s New Hampshire win as an independent-abetted, only-in-New-England fluke.

But Florida’s primary was closed to independents, Florida’s electorate was as conservative and Tea Party-friendly (though not as evangelical-heavy) as South Carolina’s and Florida’s large senior population once looked like it would give Gingrich an edge. If the former speaker couldn’t even come close to beating Romney in such relatively favorable terrain, it’s hard to see how he can hope to compete with him anywhere outside the Deep South.

The anti-Romney vote isn’t as big as Gingrich likes to think it is.

As the Florida polls turned against them, Gingrich’s campaign began hinting that Rick Santorum should drop out of the race and give Gingrich a clear shot at consolidating conservatives against Romney. If Santorum weren’t in the race, one of Gingrich’s campaign chairmen in Florida told CNN on Monday, “we would clearly be beating Romney right now.”

But as it turned out, Romney received as many votes as his two nearest rivals combined. And more importantly, pre-primary polls showed that without Santorum in the race, Romney would still have led Gingrich by a wide margin – as much as 16 points, according to an NBC/Marist poll. The fact that a majority of Republicans still have reservations about Romney, in other words, doesn’t mean that a majority would ever vote for Gingrich.

Romney’s down-and-dirty Florida campaign eased right-wing doubts about his toughness.

Romney hammered Gingrich in the debates, and then carpet-bombed him with negative advertisements. 68 percent of the ads that ran in Florida were negative spots attacking Gingrich, and Romney’s only positive ad was a Spanish-language spot that aired 15 times in total. While this gloves-off approach may have tarnished Romney’s image with swing voters, it helped reassure the many conservatives who were attracted to Gingrich because they want a no-holds-barred fighter for the fall campaign.

As John Podhoretz wrote on Monday in the New York Post, Florida was a test of Romney’s mettle: “The clean-cut Boy Scout Ken-doll candidate from Massachusetts needed to show his fellow Republicans that he could be mean, tough and merciless on the attack — that he could take it to his rival and best him.” Consider that mission accomplished.

Ross also cited Gingrich’s “lackluster debate performances” and how hard it will be to regain that “aura of invincibility” as a master debater — a key selling point for Gingrich who seeks to convince GOP voters he can destroy Obama in open debate during the fall campaign.

I don’t think Romney did much convincing as far as his ability to be “tough.” Watching Romney on the attack is like watching a Toy Poodle in  a standoff with a Great Dane. He can’t help but look cute rather than ferocious.

That said, Douthat nails the demographics of Newt’s problems. It would be one thing if Gingrich had come within 5 points or so of Romney. Then he’d be crowing about being outspent 13-1 and coming within a yard of paydirt.

But he didn’t. He got slaughtered. And where Gingrich carried every demographic group in South Carolina, he lost most of those same voters in Florida. It’s hard to see where Newt can get his MoJo back anytime soon. Next on the calendar is Nevada (2/4) — where Ron Paul is lying in the weeds waiting to ambush Mitt Romney — and the beginning of the Maine caucus process (2/4-11). The state that sent Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to the senate would seem to be decidedly unfriendly to Newt’s brand of populist conservatism.

It doesn’t get any easier. On February 7, two more Not-Ready-For-Newt states will hold caucuses; Colorado and Minnesota. Missouri will hold a beauty contest primary with no delegates at stake on the same day. Then on February 28, Arizona and Michigan will hold their primaries. Romney’s ties to Michigan are well known, but Arizona might be more receptive to Newt’s bread and butter message. Whether he will have the cash to compete there is another question altogether.

In short, it’s hard to see at this point where Newt can make a stand and stop the bleeding with a victory. Georgia holds its primary on Super Tuesday (3/6), as do Oklahoma and Tennessee — three states where he has a very realistic shot at competing. But he’s not even on the ballot in Virginia and without the money to compete in Ohio and a deficient organization in the three states holding caucuses that day, Super Tuesday is shaping up to be a Romney avalanche.

But Gingrich declared he plans to defeat “money power” with “people power” in the coming months, casting his campaign as a counterbalance to the “establishment.” That may be. But the history of insurgencies in major parties would suggest that Newt is fighting for principle now, and not the GOP nomination for president.

Originally appears on PJM’s The Tatler.

By: Rick Moran at 11:02 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

1/3/2012
YES, RON PAUL IS A 9/11 TRUTHER

The reaction of Ron Paul to a question by Jake Tapper on ABC’s This Week about whether he believes that President Bush knew ahead of time about the 9/11 attacks was indignant:

Ron Paul strongly rebuffed ABC News’s Jake Tapper on Sunday’s This Week, when he had brought up a quote by former senior campaign aide Eric Dondero, that claimed the Republican presidential candidate had engaged in 9/11 conspiracy theories. “Now, wait, wait, wait! Don’t go any further on that. That’s complete nonsense!” Paul exclaimed.

“It’s nonsense? It’s not true?” Tapper asked.

“No, I never bought into that stuff, never talked about it. About the conspiracy of Bush — of Bush knowing about this?” Paul responded incredulously. “No, no, come on! Come on! Let’s be reasonable! That’s just off-the-wall!

Did Paul buy in to 9/11 conspiracy theories? His supporters will no doubt look at the following evidence and, just as Paul intends, spin the information using the most favorable interpretation possible.

But any fair minded person would have to conclude, based on the following, that Paul is a full blown 9/11 truther and despite his denials, is one of the heroes of the Truther movement.

This video from 2007 was taken at a reception for Paul at a private residence where the congressman became engaged in conversation with a man from the organization Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth:

Michelle Malkin got a hold of the transcript. Here are the relevant portions:

Student: …we’ve heard that you have questioned the government’s official account.

Paul: Well, I never automatically trust anything the government does when they do an investigation because too often I think there’s an area that the government covered up, whether it’s the Kennedy assassination or whatever.

Sure. He just wants answers to some “questions.”

Student: So I just wanted to say, you know, we’ve talked to Dennis Kucinich and he says that he’s willing to, you know, investigate it. He would advocate for a new investigation.

Paul: Into 9/11?

Student: Yeah, into 9/11. I mean, if it was Dennis Kucinich and you, there’d be congressional support. You know what I mean? So you wouldn’t be the only one.

Paul: It’d be bipartisan, too. And I’ve worked with Dennis a lot on a lot of these issues

Student: So I mean, would you advocate for a new investigation into 9/11?

Paul: Yes, I think we have to look at the details of it.

There appears to be some differing opinions on just what Paul said next.

Malkin:

At this point in the video, Student Scholars for Truth transcribes Paul’s next sentence this way:

“…the investigation was an investigation in which there were government cover-ups?”

Did Paul really say that? Listen to the video closely. It’s hard to tell. If this isn’t what Paul says, he should clarify publicly what exactly it is he said. If the Student Scholars for Truth group is lying about what Paul said, it should own up.

Paul has already made it clear that he thinks the government covers up “[w]hether it’s the Kennedy assassination or whatever.” It is not beyond reason to think that the Truther group accurately transcribed Paul’s words and that he believes that there was a government cover-up about 9/11.

This is 9/11 Trutherism writ large. Rejecting the official 9/11 Commission Report in order to conduct another investigation is what the Truther movement is all about. This time, they’d want to know about the super thermite that was placed in the WTC supporting columns without anyone knowing about it; they’d want to know how the military got the passengers off the planes before the empty aircraft were remotely piloted into the towers; they’d want to know how those fake phone calls from the doomed aircraft were so cleverly crafted that the voices fooled wives, husbands, fathers, and mothers into thinking it was actually their loved one calling them to say goodbye.

Former Paul staffer Eric Dondero, writing at Jeff Dunetz’s site The Lid:

What Tapper should have followed up with, was simply asking Paul if he ever posited the theory that Bush “may” have known about the attacks ahead of time. Notice how Paul adds the caveat “About the conspiracy - of Bush [definitively] knowing about this.” That’s not how it went down in Ron’s offices in the 9/11 immediate aftermath. It was Ron often couching his terms with “might have known,” or playing devil’s advocate as in the case of “what if.” This of course, gave him just enough wiggle room to claim that he never said that’s exactly what happened back then, or as he is doing presently.

I maintain, as I have from the beginning of this, that it was Ron Paul’s immediate reaction after 9/11 that is the largest of the scandals. The media has yet to press him on this.

Responding narrowly to Tapper’s question about whether Bush had prior knowledge of the attacks, Paul rightly called such a notion “nonsense.”

But his previous comments on the attacks and the investigation make it clear that Ron Paul is indeed a conspiracy minded 9/11 truther and unfit to hold the office of president.

This post originally appeared at the PJ Tatler.

By: Rick Moran at 10:29 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

3/5/2011
THE TURN OF THE SAUDIS
CATEGORY: PJ Tatler, Politics

Another Tatler post for you, this time on the paralyzing thought that the Arab revolution is about to break out in Saudi Arabia:

The turn of the Saudis

Coming to a nightmare near you; a Shia revolt in Saudi Arabia. A “Day of Rage” is scheduled in the Kingdom for next Friday and the Saudis are mobilizing 10,000 security troops to deal with it.

The UK Independent:

Although desperate to avoid any outside news of the extent of the protests spreading, Saudi security officials have known for more than a month that the revolt of Shia Muslims in the tiny island of Bahrain was expected to spread to Saudi Arabia. Within the Saudi kingdom, thousands of emails and Facebook messages have encouraged Saudi Sunni Muslims to join the planned demonstrations across the “conservative” and highly corrupt kingdom. They suggest – and this idea is clearly co-ordinated – that during confrontations with armed police or the army next Friday, Saudi women should be placed among the front ranks of the protesters to dissuade the Saudi security forces from opening fire.

If the Saudi royal family decides to use maximum violence against demonstrators, US President Barack Obama will be confronted by one of the most sensitive Middle East decisions of his administration. In Egypt, he only supported the demonstrators after the police used unrestrained firepower against protesters. But in Saudi Arabia – supposedly a “key ally” of the US and one of the world’s principal oil producers – he will be loath to protect the innocent.

So far, the Saudi authorities have tried to dissuade their own people from supporting the 11 March demonstrations on the grounds that many protesters are “Iraqis and Iranians”. It’s the same old story used by Ben Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt and Bouteflika of Algeria and Saleh of Yemen and the al-Khalifas of Bahrain: “foreign hands” are behind every democratic insurrection in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mr Obama will be gritting their teeth next Friday in the hope that either the protesters appear in small numbers or that the Saudis “restrain” their cops and security; history suggests this is unlikely. When Saudi academics have in the past merely called for reforms, they have been harassed or arrested. King Abdullah, albeit a very old man, does not brook rebel lords or restive serfs telling him to make concessions to youth. His £27bn bribe of improved education and housing subsidies is unlikely to meet their demands.

An indication of the seriousness of the revolt against the Saudi royal family comes in its chosen title: Hunayn. This is a valley near Mecca, the scene of one of the last major battles of the Prophet Mohamed against a confederation of Bedouins in AD630. The Prophet won a tight victory after his men were fearful of their opponents.

Iran is having a field day in the Gulf – unrestrained by any fear of reprisals by Obama or the west for their fomenting revolt, they merrily stir the pot of resentment and hatred by Shias for the dominate Sunni governments in the region.

If Saudi Arabia is vulnerable to real destabilization, the west’s supply of crude oil is at risk. That means the spike in oil prices we witnessed this past week might be seen in a month or so as “the good old days” when oil was at $100 bbl.

By: Rick Moran at 6:17 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

2/26/2011
HOW BOLD SHOULD OBAMA BE ON LIBYA?

I posted this at PJ Tatler:

Even the left is wondering about the president’s Libyan response. From Leon Wieseltier writing at TNR:

“This violence must stop.” So President Obama declared the other day about the depravity in Tripoli. This “must” is a strange mixture of stridency and passivity. It is the deontic locution familiar from the editorial pages of newspapers, where people who have no power to change the course of events demand that events change their course. This “must” denotes an order, or a permission, or an obligation, or a wish, or a will. It does not denote a plan. It includes no implication, no expectation, of action. It is the rhetoric of futility: this infection must stop, this blizzard must stop, this madness must stop. But this infection, this blizzard, this madness, like this violence, will not stop, because its logic is to grow. It will stop only if it is stopped. Must the murder of his own people by this madman stop, Mr. President? Then stop it.

Nothing is ever as easy as it looks, and one can appreciate — if not agree — with the president’s dilemma. He was late to the condemnation chorus, largely (we are told) out of fear of what the Libyan madman might do to American citizens. The hostage crisis that paralyzed Jimmy Carter and the United States for more than a year is never far from any president’s mind in situations where there is a breakdown in civilization. The argument has been advanced that the president acted prudently by waiting until almost all Americans were clear of Libyan territory before issuing a strong statement condemning the bloodletting. This is correct — as far as it goes. Other western countries had citizens at risk but that didn’t prevent their governments from laying into the Libyan dictator for his shocking behavior.

Wieseltier wonders why the president is reluctant to use our power in this situation as well as other crisis of his presidency:

Why is Obama so disinclined to use the power at his disposal? His diffidence about humanitarian emergencies is one of the most mystifying features of his presidency, and one of its salient characteristics. These crises—in Tehran two years ago, in Cairo last month, in Tripoli now—produce in him a lame sort of lawyerliness. He lists the relevant rights and principles and then turns to procedural questions, like those consultations. The official alibi for Obama’s patience with Qaddafi’s atrocity is his concern for the Americans who are still stranded within Qaddafi’s reach; I was amused to learn from a friend that the spin out of the White House includes the suggestion that Obama’s restraint is actually the wisdom of the hostage negotiator. But Obama’s statement about Libya suggests another explanation for his slow pace. This was its climax: “So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.”

They are fighting authoritarianism, but he is fighting imperialism. Who in their right mind believes that this change does represent the work of the United States or any foreign power? To be sure, there are conspiracy theorists in the region who are not in their right mind, and will hold such an anti-American view; but this anti-Americanism is not an empirical matter. They will hate us whatever we do.

Lara Logan probably agrees.

There are two possible explanations for the president’s hesitancy; the first is that he does not believe that the application of American power is a positive good in most cases and refrains from intervening because it is against his principles. The second is that he can’t make up his mind.

A good case can be made for both reasons.

I think the key is Wieseltier’s use of the term “Lawerly” to describe Obama’s thinking; logical, well ordered, systematic, even reasonable. This serves the president well when making a decision regarding domestic policy.

But this approach is an unmitigated disaster in a crisis. The president seems content to draw out the decision making process in a foreign crisis when events are moving so quickly that he always seems to be behind the curve. JFK believed that if you are constantly reacting to events in a crisis, you have already lost. Anticipating and making quick decisions allows a president to get on top of events which gives him a better shot at controlling them.

Obama seems incapable or unwilling to go that route. That’s why the body count continues to mount in Libya while the president tries to decide how to stop it.

By: Rick Moran at 3:31 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

2/6/2011
EARTH’S MAGNETIC POLES FLIPPING?
CATEGORY: PJ Tatler, Science

I am going to start putting up some of my PJ Tatler postings. This one got some attention this morning:

Earth’s Magnetic Pole Flipping?

If this article by Terrence Aym in the Salem-News is to be believed, global warming will be the absolute least of our worries:

NASA has been warning about it…scientific papers have been written about it…geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core samples…

Now “it” is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world’s weather.

Forget about global warming—man-made or natural—what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun’s magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet’s own magnetic field.

When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.

Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth’s history. It’s happening again now to every planet in the solar system including Earth.

The magnetic field drives weather to a significant degree and when that field starts migrating superstorms start erupting.

There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that there appears to be absolutely nothing we can do to affect what is happening. In other words, there won’t be any “mangnetic credits” or “geo-magneto swap” schemes to enrich the Al Gores of the world. I’m pretty sure magnets won’t be outlawed nor will magnetism be declared hazardous to our health.

The bad news is Jesus is coming and he’s taking names and kicking butt.

By: Rick Moran at 10:31 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)