Monday, December 31, 2007

Poll Tally Ho! Jeeves

Dean Barnett over at the WorldWide Standard picked up on this very funny post by Alex Massie on how the 2007 - 2008 primaries are like living in a P. G. Wodehouse world, starring Hillary Clinton as Honoria Glossop and Mike Huckabee as, ahem, Madeline Bassett.

This is a must read post for fans of Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Romney May Be Hoist on His Own Petard by His Very Own Ad People

The following is a piece that Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard found on Slate.

It includes an ad designed to counter a recent anti-McCain ad blitz by the Romney people in NH. Interestingly, the ad was designed by the very people doing the Romney ad, who bailed out of McCain's campaign early on when he wasn't doing so well.

The video below shows the Romney ad, and the already-in-the-can McCain response, were he willing to use it.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Petraeus for Veep!

I do not think this generation appreciates General David Petraeus as much as the World War II generation appreciated General Dwight D. Eisenhower; however, I think Petraeus would make one heck of a VP running mate for just about any of the Republicans vying for the nomination. He is a leader among men, articulate, and now, successful at designing and executing a winning strategy in Iraq. Below are his remarks to the troops on this day, 28 December 2007:

A letter from General David Petraeus to American troops in Iraq:

28 December 2007

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:

As 2007 draws to a close, you should look back with pride on what you, your fellow troopers, our Iraqi partners, and Iraqi Coalition civilians have achieved in 2007. A year ago, Iraq was racked by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war. Now, levels of violence and civilians and military casualties are significantly reduced and hope has been rekindled in many Iraqi communities. To be sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done. Nonetheless, the hard-fought accomplishments of 2007 have been substantial, and I want to thank each of you for the contributions you made to them.

In response to the challenges that faced Iraq a year ago, we and our Iraqi partners adopted a new approach. We increased our focus on securing the Iraqi people and, in some cases, delayed transition of tasks to Iraqi forces. Additional U.S. and Georgian forces were deployed to theater, the tours of U.S. unites were extended, and Iraqi forces conducted a surge of their own, generating well over 100,000 more Iraqi police and soldiers during the year so that they, too, had additional forces to execute the new approach. In places like Ramadi, Baqubah, Arab Jabour, and Baghdad, you and our Iraqi brothers fought—often house by house, block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood—to wrest sanctuaries away from Al Qaeda-Iraq, to disrupt extremist militia elements, and to rid the streets of mafia-like criminals. Having cleared areas, you worked with Iraqis to retain them—establishing outposts in the areas we were securing, developing Iraqi Security Forces, and empowering locals to help our efforts. This approach has not been easy. It has required steadfastness in the conduct of tough offensive operations, creative solutions to the myriad problems on the ground, and persistence over the course of many months and during countless trying situations. Through it all, you have proven equal to every task, continually demonstrating an impressive ability to conduct combat and stability operations in an exceedingly complex environment.

You can read the rest here.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto in Her Own Words

The following was from an October 23 Editorial in the WSJ, written by Benazir Bhutto on the attempt on her life on October 18. Today, the terrorists succeeded in assassinating her.

I survived an assassination attempt last week, but 140 of my supporters and security didn't.

This mass murder was particularly sinister, since it targeted not just me and my party leadership, but the hundreds of thousands (some estimate up to three million) of our citizens who came out to welcome me and demonstrate their support for democracy and the democratic process. Their deaths weigh heavily on my heart.

Oct. 18 underscores the critical situation we confront in Pakistan today--trying to campaign for free, fair and transparent elections under the threat of terrorism. It demonstrates the logistical, strategic and moral challenge before us. How do we bring the election campaign to the people under the very real threat of assassination and mass casualties of the innocent?

The attack on me was not totally unexpected. I had received credible information that I was being targeted by elements that wanted to disrupt the democratic process--specifically that Baitul Masood (an Afghan who leads the Taliban forces in North Waziristan), Hamza bin Laden (an Arab), and a Red Mosque militant had been sent to kill me. I also feared that they were being used by their sympathizers, who have infiltrated the security and administration of my country, and who now fear that the return of democracy will thwart their plans.

You can read the rest


Monday, December 24, 2007

Pressing Ron Paul

CNN, not surprisingly, commits a disservice to the Ron Paul campaign by reporting in a headline that Paul "Won't Rule Out 3rd Party Run." I witnessed the interview myself on Meet the Press and can say that Paul made every effort to clarify that he is not "absolute" about that, or for that matter about anything, and that he has a high disregard for those who claim to be absolute about things, and by the way, that's why he won't say with any more than a 99.9% certainty that he does not plan to run as an independent in the general election should his primary campaign end in defeat.

And, oh yes, [paraphrased] why aren't you [Russert] asking John McCain and others whether they will run in a third party campaign?

A good question for which Russert had a respectable answer: Well, Dr. Paul, you did run as a Libertarian once when you didn't get the Republican endorsement,...

There were a number of things I found unsettling in this interview. I have to admit, though I am not a fan of Russert's, and I know his method is to confront guests with things they've said and done publicly which seem contradictory, he did a decent job confronting Paul.

Libertarian leaning Republicans appreciate Paul because he is true to the "reduce the size of government" principals held by most real Republicans - coming from RI where there are a lot of RINO's, I think I know the difference. These same libertarian Republicans say, "listen to Paul: he sounds like Reagan." Well, maybe not on the issue of defense and international interventionism, in which Paul is clearly isolationist and Reagan an absolute (oops! got to watch that word) interventionist.

But Russert cleverly got around to the fact that although Paul was one of the first who supported Reagan (and shown photos of just a few who did from Congress in the early days), he later disowned Reagan, calling him a "failure."

All you who think Reagan a "failure" please raise your hands.

Yes, Reagan was not completely true to the libertarian-like principals he espoused in his famous pre-election speeches. But can we call Reagan a "failure?"

At the very least, Paul fans need to stop making the analogy. Paul is no supporter of Reagan anymore. Stop trying to lull us into the idea that he'd be a president like Reagan. Far from it.

According to Paul, not only did Reagan fail on economic matters, like failing to abolish the Department of Education, and reducing the size of government, and lowering the tax burden, but he was a crazy interventionist in Central America with all those battles fought directly and indirectly with brutes and Communists. Oh, and he probably shouldn't have bothered to influence the end of the cold war and the releasing of millions of people out of the bonds of Communist dictatorship and into the light of freedom by standing before the Brandenburg gate and calling for the wall to be torn down. No, Reagan failed in doing so. He should have tended to his own flock between the Atlantic and Pacific. He should have focused myopically and solely on our little island.

And this is why the Paul candidacy, although attractive to young, libertarian thinking Republicans, will never command serious attention and support. I'm not saying the support isn't or won't be passionate. Lord knows, there is a lot of money and passion behind the Paul candidacy. But it won't succeed.

Yes, there are a lot of Objectivist Ayn Randian thinking entrepreneurs who love his style of hyper-capitalist, materialist limited government thinking, God bless them. But for each one of them there are 2 or 3 traditionalist Republicans and neo-Cons who, IMHO, rightfully believe in a hybrid which includes limited government, but also keeping a wise eye on the world around them, able and willing to defend the freedoms we have, and charitably assist in the freeing of slaves to dictatorships around the world. Whitaker Chambers, where are you when we need you.

The Ron Pauls of the world are interesting, right on some things, and a necessary part of the diverse universe of Republican thinking, and they are welcome to the choir of debate on the ideal functioning limitedly governed society, but they are purists who leave out spirituality, charity and the occasional need to fight wars against dictators, pirates, terrorists, fascists and communists, all of whom would have us for breakfast if we stuck our heads in the sand, believing there will be "peace in our time" as those of Paul's following seem to believe.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Of Faith and Fair Taxes

First let me start out discussing a bit about some of the things I find attractive about Mike Huckabee:

He's quick on his feet, funny, witty and self deprecating. I like all of those aspects about Huck. I'm pleased with his evangelicalism and values.

But here are some of the things that concern me about Mike Huckabee:

Let's start with his "foreign policy" ideas, and his criticism of Bush's foreign policy. Next, and more importantly, his opinion on changing the tax code to what is euphemistically called a "Fair Tax," which is nothing more than a national sales tax. A sales tax which would be added on top of any current state sales taxes, in place of the income tax.

A few weeks ago the
WSJ did a piece (paid subscription required) on Huckabee's support for the Fair Tax. This is what they said:

"[T]he fair tax also fits into Mr. Huckabee's populist pitch as a way to "abolish" the hated IRS. GOP audiences love that one, and so do we.

But in the case of the fair tax this boast is also misleading. One problem with a national sales tax is that its rate would have to be very high to raise enough money to fund the government. A rate of 30%, or even 23%, is high enough to invite its own major enforcement problems, so the tax police would still be very much with us.

As a political matter, the fair tax would offer a bull's-eye for Democrats, who would love to run against a plan that would instantly make most purchases 30% more expensive. Though the fair tax includes a complicated rebate system to shield the working poor, a levy on consumption would nonetheless hit hard the young, middle-income families that Mr. Huckabee is courting. It would also tax medical services and home prices, sure to be flashpoints this election season in particular."

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

"Mr. Huckabee nonetheless writes that "when" his reform is enacted, "it will be like waving a magic wand releasing us from pain and unfairness." That glib naivete should provide some indication of how seriously the former Governor has thought through the political and policy complications of his biggest idea -- and also explain why, until recently, Mr. Huckabee was considered an implausible candidate."

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of some type of tax simplification, but this one is off the rails, and subject to causing more damage than it will relieve. A simplified income tax would be far more preferred. A sales tax would run the risk of becoming a hybrid tax, that ends up a sales tax combined with an income tax because it would have to be so severe to match revenue from the existing code that we'd end up worse off.

In the Saturday edition of the WSJ tomorrow,
Peggy Noonan slams Huckabee as well. Here's what she has to say:

"Does Mr. Huckabee understand that his approach is making people uncomfortable? Does he see himself as divisive? He's a bright man, so it's hard to believe he doesn't. But it's working for him. It's getting him his 30 points in Iowa in a crowded field.

Could he win the nomination? Who knows? It's all a bubbling stew on the Republican side, and no one knows who'll float to the top. In an interview this week with David Brody of CBN, Mr. Huckabee said people everywhere were coming to him and saying, 'We are claiming Isaiah 54 for you, that the weapons formed against you will not prosper.'

Prayer is powerful. But Huckabee's critics say he's a manipulator with a mean streak and little knowledge of the world. And Isaiah 54 doesn't say anything about self-inflicted wounds."

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

In the Weekly Standard, a piece I came across regarding Huckabee's attempt at foreign policy prowess:

"SINCE MIKE HUCKABEE's meteoric rise in the polls, questions regarding his gravitas have dogged the latest Man from Hope. Oh sure, he can toss out witticisms with the best of them and he's as likable a politician as we've seen in decades, but many wondered whether he had the policy chops to be a capable president....

Worse still is his reference [in an Essay for Foreign Affairs,] to President Bush's "bunker mentality." This comment echoes one of the rhetorical tics that has become so common on the left, its denizens seldom even notice it anymore--referring to the president with imagery reminiscent of Hitler. We'd expect such rubbish from a Daily Kos diarist. But a presidential candidate? And a Republican?

And then there was the speech Huckabee gave in conjunction with the essay's release. In his speech, Huckabee made certain points that he didn't put in the magazine, perhaps for reasons of space or maybe because some Foreign Affairs editor has a well developed sense of mercy. "The bottom line is this," Huckabee cautioned. "Iran is a regional threat to the balance of power to the Middle and Near East; Al Qaeda is an existential threat to the United States."

Stunningly, Huckabee got it perfectly backwards. Al Qaeda is a menace to American security. But a nation governed by a hostile regime poised to produce a small arsenal of nuclear weapons that its leadership promises to use presents a truly existential threat. We can only conclude that "existential threat" does not mean what Mike Huckabee thinks it does."

And then there's NR's spin on Huck.

A piece on his being another taxer spender

A piece on his out-Dukakising Mike Dukakis

And there are other pieces which touch on his brushes with the same kind of corruption that Arkansas saw under the Clintons. Co-blogger Dave Todd picked up on that in his seminal piece below: Huck could then also out-Clinton the Clintons. Now that would be a feat.

In short, now that he is emerging as a more visible candidate on the national scene, Republicans who are traditional conservatives, free-traders, low taxers and neo-cons may all find something that they won't like very much in a so-called Republican Huckleberry candidacy. Not to mention how the Dems would salivate at the thought of a Huckabee nomination.

Heavens forfend! No pun intended.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

For the Christmas Season...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Arkansan Looks at Huckabee

I guess I'm an Arkansan. Been here purtneer 18 years, the longest I've lived anywhere 'cept Rhode Island, and the first 6 to 8 of those 22 I don't remember much of. I came to Arkansas in 1991; Huckabee made his first run for state-wide office in 1992, a senatorial race that he lost. So I've sort of watched all his political career.

I'm going to look at a few issues that seem to be hot in the campaign right now.

1. The Wayne DuMond parole.

Much has been misreported about this. I heard about this case almost from the moment I drove across the Tennessee border. Many people in the State thought DuMond was falsely convicted, possibly because the woman he raped first was a distant relative of Bill Clinton. Before he was convicted, in fact right after he was arrested in a rural county, some of the deputies castrated him (not, as was incorrectly stated by Dick Morris on FNC last night by other prisoners), and his testicles were placed in a jar on the sheriff's desk that the sheriff proudly showed to all visitors. This generated some sympathy for DuMond, and I believe there was popular sentiment in the state that he should be paroled when his time came up. The parole board was all Democratic, installed by other governors. I do remember that Huckabee seemed to push some for this parole (not pardon or commutation as has been erroneously reported). He has accepted responsibility for this and expressed regret.

2. Governor in a Democratic state.

Arkansas was, and still is, heavily dominated by the Democratic Party at the local level, especially in the legislature. Some Republicans can be elected to state-wide offices, but few at the local level. Huckabee had a legislature that was 80 percent D. Why some of those are fairly conservative as Democrats go, still they would oppose most initiatives of the R governor. That Huckabee was able to get anything he wanted done is a testament to his ability to work with people. On occasion he may have compromised too quickly, and given too much. But R & D alike will, by a good margin, say he did a good job as governor. It is that ability that has propelled him this far.

3. Other pardons/paroles/commutations.

I'm surprised this has come up. All these supposed pardons, paroles, and commutations of hardened criminals' sentences was never a big issue in the state. Mostly I remember all the executions, typically three at a time. This was never an issue in the state, at least not one that got enough mention to come to my contention.

4. Immigration.

Some of Huckabee's stands on illegal immigration were controversial. I don't remember the specifics. It came up late in his tenure as governor, and I had stopped reading newspapers by then. This is a weakness, IMHO, unless he has learned from this error and will formulate better policies. Some people do learn from their mistakes.

5. Conservative bona-fides.

On election eve, 2000, George Bush made a quick campaign stop on his way back to Texas. This was at an airport hanger in Benton County, and my wife and I attended. As usual, while waiting on the main candidate to arrive, local politicians took the stage for their benefit. Asa Hutchinson, probably safe for re-election as congressman from my district, spoke. His brother-senator Tim spoke, though he was not up for re-election that year. Other locals also spoke, or put in stage appearances. Eventually Bush arrived and spoke, and spoke well. The only Republican of state-wide significance who was not there was Huckabee. He was not up for re-election that year, and was alledgedly in another part of the state, campaigning for some R who would lose the next day. The Hutchinsons at that time were well to the right of Huckabee, who was seen as more moderate. This was a rift in the party, and has led to a reversal of some gains the R's were making. Despite all the rhetoric, I'm not convinced Huckabee is a true conservative.

I haven't made up my mind yet, and am not impressed with the field. I suppose the Huckster, as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette liberal columnists used to call him, is the default candidate. The reason I'm not all for him is his lack of solid, conservative credentials.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Why it Pays for Law Abiding Citizens to Carry Arms

The tragedy here is that four or five, young innocent people were killed - young men and women ranging in ages from 16 to about 25. But it could have been far, far worse had not private citizen Jeanne Assam swiftly removed her weapon and fired on the assailant.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

CIA Tail Wagging Presidential Dog

In the 1970's, the CIA was enemy number 1 among college liberals. Today, the CIA is warmly embraced by the faculty and students of the Ivies, such as Valerie Plame's recent visit to and her smug and nauseating speech at Brown.

Now the CIA, through its National Intelligence Estimate, is booby trapping the White House:

This is from the Saturday WSJ. Too bad not many will notice it. It's an excellent piece:

[President] Bush and his staff have allowed the intelligence bureaucracy to frame a new judgment in a way that has undermined four years of U.S. effort to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.

This kind of national security mismanagement has bedeviled the Bush Presidency. Recall the internal disputes over post-invasion Iraq, the smearing of Ahmad Chalabi by the State Department and CIA, hanging Scooter Libby out to dry after bungling the response to Joseph Wilson's bogus accusations, and so on. Mr. Bush has too often failed to settle internal disputes and enforce the results.

What's amazing in this case is how the White House has allowed intelligence analysts to drive policy. The very first sentence of this week's national intelligence estimate (NIE) is written in a way that damages U.S. diplomacy: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." Only in a footnote below does the NIE say that this definition of "nuclear weapons program" does "not mean Iran's declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment."

In fact, the main reason to be concerned about Iran is that we can't trust this distinction between civilian and military. That distinction is real in a country like Japan. But we know Iran lied about its secret military efforts until it was discovered in 2003, and Iran continues to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, with 3,000 centrifuges, in defiance of binding U.N. resolutions. There is no civilian purpose for such enrichment. Iran has access to all the fuel it needs for civilian nuclear power from Russia at the plant in Bushehr. The NIE buries the potential danger from this enrichment, even though this enrichment has been the main focus of U.S. diplomacy against Iran.


We reported earlier this week that the authors of this Iran NIE include former State Department officials who have a history of hostility to Mr. Bush's foreign policy. But the ultimate responsibility for this fiasco lies with Mr. Bush. Too often he has appointed, or tolerated, officials who oppose his agenda, and failed to discipline them even when they have worked against his policies. Instead of being candid this week about the problems with the NIE, Mr. Bush and his National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, tried to spin it as a victory for their policy. They simply weren't believable.

But read the whole thing here.


Friday, December 07, 2007

RI Justices Rule with Sanity

The Projo is reporting that the RI Supreme Court has just ruled that a same-sex marriage made in Massachusetts cannot be brought before the RI courts in a divorce suit. The ruling was 3 - 2, Justices Williams, Flaherty and Robinson voted with the majority. This should make national news if it hasn't hit the major outlets yet.

A passionate and intellectual gay community in RI and elsewhere are already up in arms about it. Looking at the ruling dispassionately, strictly as a rule of law, the Justices made a sound and sane decision. If any other state were to go off its rocker and allow humans to marry chimpanzees, no other state should be required to recognize that so-called marriage so that it may grant a divorce or grant any other related legal action that pertained to the marriage recognized by another state. For that matter, if any state makes any ruling that is off its rocker, no other state need to be obliged to recognize or validate it, even if it were asked to overturn it.

Bravo to the RI Supreme Court Justices Williams, Flaherty and Robinson. Bravo.

The entire ruling can be found here.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Iran Not a Nuclear Threat?

About an hour ago, the Worldwide Standard posted a piece on the very recent finding by the National Intelligence Assessment on Iran's nuclear bomb development capabilities insinuating that Iraq is not so much of a threat. The MSM is saying Iran gave up its nuclear ambitions in 2003, but author Thomas Joscelyn raises 5 good questions that help us understand that sometimes "the devil is in the details." The five questions:

1. What intelligence is this assessment based upon?

2. What has changed since 2005?

3. How did the IC draw its line between a "civilian" nuclear program and a military one?

4. How does the IC know that Iran has stopped its clandestine activities with respect to developing nuclear weapons?

5. How does the IC know what motivated Iran’s alleged change in behavior?

But read the whole thing.


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