Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bombshell gaffe for Obama

No one gave a rat's butt about John Edwards making an ass out of himself over his "mandatory" health care plan yesterday. Why? Because Edwards doesn't have a snowball's chance of getting the nomination. But Obama, especially given Hillary's recent weakened position in recent weeks, does have a shot, and he's basically saying the same thing as Edwards, minus the "they don't have a choice" answer Edwards gave to reporters yesterday. Now, this is in a story completely unrelated to the quote I'm about to post below, but it doesn't change the fact that the Democrats are promoting a totalitarian response to many problems the nation is facing:

But, he said, Clinton has not specified how she would enforce a mandate for coverage.

"[It's] more of a political point that she's trying to make rather than a real point," Obama said.

The issue of mandates for health care has driven the debate between Clinton and Obama for the past few weeks. Obama says he would enforce his mandate for health care for all children by fining parents if they refused to allow health care coverage for their children.

"I am happy to be very clear how we enforce mandates for children, and the reason is because children don't have an option."

And despite what Barack Obama might think, it's not up to the taxpayer to pick up the tab for those that have put other things ahead of their health care. Look, we can browbeat those that opt for the big screen TV, entertainment center, and vacations over buying health insurance. But are both he and Edwards aware of the amount of people that make choices between a roof over their head as opposed to health care? Health care ain't cheap. Trust me, I know. The insurance, while it does alleviate quite a bit of the cost, it doesn't cover all of it, and for some people they just simply can't afford it.

The solution isn't mandating that taxpayers foot the bill, including punishing those that tell Edwards and Obama to take a flying leap off a rolling doughnut. The solution can be helped, in part, by a level of government intervention, but the market needs time to figure out a solution. Furthermore, I'd like to know if what Obama and Edwards' answers are to what Bryan Preston brings up, as he covers this serious mistake on Obama's behalf:

And how might illegal immigration play into this? Currently, we have 12 to 20 million in the country illegally, and wherever you look, they’re stressing hospitals by failing to pay for treatments that they’re seeking. Only an absurd government would force illegal aliens to sign up for mandatory health care coverage but then turn around and let them get away with actually being here illegally in the first place.

Unlike Obama or Edwards, Bryan's got a point and a clue, and these two jokers don't even come close to a real solution. Thanks Barack. We appreciate the fact that almost every time you open your yap, you just keep proving to the nation that you're still a wet-behind-the-ears, first-term senator that hasn't got what it takes to lead this nation.

Publius II

An inside look at Hillary Clinton

If I were in Stephen Braun's shoes, I'd watch my step. The portrait he paints -- picked up by Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse, mentioned in passing yesterday by Hugh Hewitt -- is anything but flattering to the former First Lady. On the flip side, as Ms. Althouse observes, "If her experience as First Lady has prepared her for the presidency — and it is her argument that it does — then we must look at that experience and ask what kind of President she is prepared to be."

If Mr. Braun is accepted at his word, and there's nothing coming out saying that he is being disingenuous about this piece, then we will have in Hillary what he classifies as a "bureaucratic fiefdom":

Clinton's all-access pass into the West Wing gave her an intimate education in presidential decision-making that none of her opponents can claim. She observed at close range how big government works, and she learned painfully from her missteps how easily it bogs down...

She built an insular White House fiefdom known as Hillaryland, surrounding herself with a tightknit band of loyalists who skillfully advanced her causes, but who were also criticized for isolating her from political realities.

Hillaryland's denizens began to jokingly refer to themselves as "the Stepford Wives." Their unflinching devotion gained them wide berth in the West Wing.

Staffers were expected to work grueling hours and report back any development that involved the first lady. She kept them busy with news clippings that she covered with scrawled questions and filed in a cardboard carton in her office. ...

The first lady's management of the initiative to overhaul American healthcare remains her closest approximation of high-wire decision-making....

[U]nder her watch, the healthcare task force became a bureaucratic fiefdom. More than 500 officials churned out reports that funneled into a 1,300-page plan....

She appeared sensitive to scrutiny from the start. Just three days after her husband gave her authority over the healthcare plan, she was already considering limits on public access to the plan's records.

In a Jan. 28, 1993, memo, deputy counsel Vincent Foster advised the first lady and Ira Magaziner, who devised the complex healthcare process structure, that task-force records might be withheld from release under the Freedom of Information Act if the files remained "in the control of the president."

Her response is not known because many of her healthcare documents have not been released. The Clinton library in Little Rock has released scores of healthcare memos sent to the first lady. But none of her own memos or notes is available, and though some are now scheduled for release early next year, others may remain locked away until after the 2008 election.

Her doggedness was not matched by her coalition-building skills. Chicagoan Dan Rostenkowski, the gruff, powerful former House Ways and Means chairman, felt that congressional committees should lead the way. "None of the people in your think tank can vote," he recalls telling Clinton. "She wasn't persuaded."

She courted skeptical Senate Finance Chairman Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but undercut the stroking with threats. At a weekend retreat after the State of the Union address in 1993, she dismissed worries about meeting a 100-day deadline set by her husband for a healthcare bill. Asked what would happen if they were late, she said: "You don't understand. We will demonize those who are blocking this legislation and it will pass."...

This picture is not only unflattering, but it paints a bigger picture of a woman who seemed to get drunk on power, very early on. She literally took the idea of a "co-presidency" seriously, rather than playing the periphery role that first Ladies tend to accept. The First Ladies have had their "pet projects." We all remember Nancy Reagan's anti-drug stance, and the efforts she went through to remind kids to stay away from them. But no one recalls her direct involvement with the DEA in pushing the agenda. Likewise, Laura Bush, a former school teacher and librarian, emphasized the need for more involvement in children's education and women's issues, but like Mrs. Reagan, she didn't inject herself into the agenda of either project.

Hillary did. She believed to her core that she was part of her husband's presidency. She's looking forward to being there "again," and the nation will rue the day if it comes. She won't be the open candidate that so many of her followers believe she'll be. Given the picture Mr. Braun has put forth above, it will be a return to the politics of the previous Clinton White House.

Only what is approved will be revealed to the public, and her enemies will suffer at the hands of her lackeys. The attack machine will return. She will rule with the proverbial iron fist that so many were known to have witnessed starting in 1992, on Bill's campaign to become president. In short, she's anything but nice. She reminds us both of a power-hungry political operative of political machines from long ago. Her focus will be on passing her agenda -- anchored by her new version of HillaryCare -- that will make this nation suffer as it never has before.

People may disagree with what we're saying, but the record is there for all to see. She can't be trusted with power, let alone the sort of power she inherently craves. A Hillary Clinton presidency, while highly unlikely, would be a disaster for the nation. And given her earlier predilections for "control," she will put President Bush's critics to shame with how secretive, controlling, and manipulating her presidency would likely be.

Publius II

Bill Clinton -- tip-toeing through a minefield

You just have to love how this guy operates. I mean, he's slick with his ability to lie with ease. But he's not quite so smart when it comes to making those statements BEFORE he whitewashes his previous record. Captain Ed picks up on the meme floating through the 'Sphere today regarding Bill Clinton's statements on his support/non-support for the invasion of Iraq. From ABC News:

Former President Bill Clinton portrayed himself as having been against the Iraq war "from the beginning" while campaigning Tuesday for his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, in Iowa.

"Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning," said Clinton, "I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers."

Clinton has long been critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and called it a "big mistake" as far back as November of 2005.

Um, that's not what his own official statement says, in his own official records going back to 2003: [13th paragraph into his address -- ed. note]

I supported the President when he asked the Congress for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I have strongly supported the efforts in Afghanistan and I would be happy if they would send more troops there because that’s where the real problem is.

Captain Ed has more quotes that show the man is lying, but the question that should be on everyone's mind shouldn't be why he's lying, but rather how will this affect Hillary. See, she needs Bill on the trail with her because, unlike the dead fish she is, he's charismatic and likable. He knows how to read people, and speak to them. Hillary is demanding, and she tends to be condescending and shrill in her campaign stops.

But will this play in Peoria? After all, she has stood behind her vote for the AUMF, and has repeatedly stated she didn't change her mind until the president started to botch things. Today though, we don't see a botched mission. We see success. I cite the breakdown in today's Weekly Standard blog to the new Pew poll showing that shift in opinions regarding efforts in Iraq. This is almost like they're both trying to play both sides of the issue, and I don't think will play well, especially if political commentators start calling him on this. Could we see another Clinton/Wallace-esque smackdown where Bill loses his cool again in a vain effort to rewrite history? Doubtful. Like the Democrat candidates that ran away from a FOX News sponsored debate, Bill's not likely to open himself up to tough questions about his past statements.

His statements don't jive with his wife's political stances, especially with regard to Iraq. I think he may have just cost his wife in the polls. Granted, he's not technically a reflection of Hillary, but I'm sure that she can't necessarily spin her way out of the web of lies he's peddling this time around.

Publius II

New Pew poll on Iraq shows a significant swing in the positive

Democrats have trumpeted polls showing Americans have grown dissatisfied with the war, and that they believed Iraq was a mess. Today Brian Faughnan from the Weekly Standard looks at those numbers, and he drives the point home that the Democrats were a bit premature in their declarations:

The Pew Research Center has released the results of its latest poll on Americans' views on Iraq and the state of the nation. The dramatically improved view of the situation in Iraq has attracted a great deal of attention--and rightly so. But Pew soft-pedals the good news in its summary, and you only get a sense of the depth of the change in opinion when you consult the full result.

Perhaps most telling of all is a question Pew doesn't mention in its summary. When given an open-ended question--'What one word best describes your impression of the situation in Iraq these days'--the number one answer is 'improved/improving.' Just two months ago, the top answer was 'mess.' It's clear something big is happening.

Looking further,
Jules Crittenden relies on the summary, and points out that there has been an 18 point swing in favor of the Iraq war since February. But a look at the poll data from November 2006 shows a swing of 32 points. That's because in that poll, just 32 percent said things in Iraq were going well, against 64 percent who said things were not. Today the figure is 48 to 48.

Similarly, support for a timetable for withdrawal has fallen dramatically--from 19 percent support in January to just 11 percent today. Remember that the next time a Democrat claims that the American people support their approach.

Another interesting finding: Americans increasingly believe that we are succeeding in preventing Iraq from being used as a base for terrorist attacks against the United States. In November 2006, respondents said by a margin of 39 to 49 that we were not: today, 51 percent say that we are--against just 36 percent who are skeptical. That's a 25 point swing in favor!

On preventing a civil war and defeating the insurgents, there are similarly huge shifts. Across the board, the data show a significant growth in confidence about how the war is being waged.

That's not all. Remember that The Politico painted a portentous picture of the Democrat's woes back on 6 November. Well, Mr. Faughnan reminds us, and them, of their plight:

The poll also includes interesting data on domestic politics. Most notably, Congress is almost exactly as unpopular today as it was before the 2006 election. In October 2006, 35 percent approved of the job Congress was doing, compared to 53 percent who disapproved. The result today is nearly identical: 35 to 50. This is yet more proof of the continued inability of Congress to deal with issues of importance to Americans.

Republicans have also seen a significant rebound in partisan identification. When voters were asked a year ago--right before the Democratic sweep--to state whether they considered themselves Republican, Democrat, or Independent, they answered Democrat by a margin of 25 to 36. Now, the edge is just 28 to 33. The Democratic edge has been reduced by more than half.

If this poll is accurate--and there's nothing in it that seems out of line with other polling data--there has indeed been a dramatic improvement in the public's views of Iraq and the Democratic leadership in Congress.

So, the next time your favorite Democrat to debate with brings up polls about how people want our troops home, that people believe that we're failing in Iraq, that people are turning away from Republicans and embracing the Democrats and their crazy ideas, remember to cite this poll. It's guaranteed to end that debate right then and there. (At the very least, be amused by the "ums," "uhs," and sputtering nonsense your Democrat friend is going to throw your way.)

Publius II

ADDENDUM: I missed this earlier but Byron York has more bad news for Democrats:

More from South Carolina. The new Palmetto Poll results show that the Democratic race here is even more volatile – way more volatile – than the Republican race. The new survey shows Hillary Clinton in the lead, but with just 19 percent of those surveyed – down from the 26 percent she got in the August Palmetto Poll. Barack Obama is right behind with 17 percent – up from 16 percent in August. And John Edwards is at 12 percent, up from ten percent in August.

But the major news is that 49 percent – yes, 49 percent – of those surveyed say they are undecided. That's up from 35 percent who said they were undecided in August.

Heh. And critics claim we're divided over our candidates. Right. At least we don't have undecideds at forty-nine percent!

Publius II

Huckabee surges. Whoopty-doo

Rasmussen breathlessly reports that Mike Huckabee has surged ahead of Mitt Romney in Iowa, and Allah takes note of a new endorsement for Huckabee coming from the Falwell family:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the Iowa caucus finds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 28% of the vote, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 25% support, and everyone else far behind. National frontrunner Rudy Giuliani gets just 12% of the vote in Iowa at this time while former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson is the only other candidate in double digits at 11%

Given the margin of error, the challenges of determining the relatively small number of people who will participate in a caucus, and other factors, the race is far too close to call at this point in time. However, the fact that Romney is no longer the clear frontrunner in Iowa reflects a stunning change in the race.

Take a look at that paragraph above. The poll numbers are within the margin of error -- "far too close to call" -- but Romney isn't the "frontrunner." (I hate to tell Rasmussen this, but Huckabee isn't the frontrunner right now as long as he's int he margin of error.) As the rotating headers on LGF occasionally announces "Don't drink idiotic." It's clear by this non-story that some people in Iowa, or possibly Rasmussen, are drinking idiotic.

Look, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is literally a two man race. Huckabee may come in second, and might even split the early states with Romney, but in long run this race is between Romney and Rudy. They both have the money, the support, and the serious chances of taking the nomination. By mid-to-late March, our nominee will be clear, and it's not going to be Mike Huckabee. We like the guy, but based on what we've read, he's not the sort of conservative we want in the White House. Add in AP report from Breitbart today and the Novak column from Monday Huckabee is facing serious criticism, and he's not answering those critics.

From Breitbart:

Mike Huckabee's presidential rivals are pointing to chinks in his record as Arkansas' governor—from ethics complaints to tax increases to illegal immigration and his support for releasing a rapist who was later convicted of killing a Missouri woman.

The Republican presidential candidate has plenty to champion from his 10 1/2 years as governor—including school improvements and health insurance for the children of the working poor. But his record has rough edges, and Huckabee has a habit of playing fast and loose with it.

Other campaigns for the GOP nomination, watching Huckabee's rise in polls in Iowa, are starting to mine his past for political fodder. Take ethics, for example.

"People are starting to contact us and they're saying we want everything on Mike Huckabee," says Graham Sloan, director of the state's Ethics Commission.

What they'll find is 436 pages of documents chronicling Huckabee's various tangles with a commission he's derided as a political tool of Democrats. It's a panel that has held proceedings 20 times on the former governor and
lieutenant governor.

But the Ethics Commission files don't cover everything, and this year—anticipating criticism—Huckabee's campaign set up a "truth squad" to push his side of various stories. It often offers, at best, an incomplete account of his record. ...

... Huckabee has consistently understated his role in the parole of rapist Wayne DuMond, who had been convicted in the 1984 rape of a distant cousin of former President Clinton.

Two months after taking office, Huckabee stunned the state by saying he questioned DuMond's guilt and that it was his intention to free the rapist, who had been castrated by masked men while awaiting trial. Huckabee said then he had "serious questions as to the legitimacy of his guilt" and acknowledged later that he had met with DuMond's wife about the case while he was lieutenant governor. Two months after ascending to the governor's office, Huckabee met with the woman again.

The ex-governor now blames his predecessor for making DuMond parole eligible—Jim Guy Tucker commuted a life-plus-20 years sentence to 39 1/2 years—but distances himself from his role in DuMond's release. Huckabee met privately with the state parole board, and two members have said he pressured them for a vote.

From Robert Novak:

Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle. In fact, the rejoinder comes from Mike Huckabee, who has broken out of the pack of second-tier Republican presidential candidates to become a serious contender -- definitely in Iowa and perhaps nationally.

Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist, big-government advocate of a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses with the possibility of more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem on its hands.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the motive force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own. That has happened now with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

There is no doubt about Huckabee's record during a decade in Little Rock as governor. He was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax increaser and spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden by 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. When he decided to lose 100 pounds and pressed his new lifestyle on the American people, he was far from a Goldwater-Reagan libertarian.

Oooo. Ouch. It's getting chilly in here as critics tear into Huckabee, and rightly so. The man is anything but a conservative int he mold of those who have led the party in the past. I'm not saying we should be looking for a new Reagan because he was an anomaly that happened to be in the right place at the right time. We need a leader to become president, and one that can see the future of America as bright and shining, not morbid, destitute, and gloomy.

I'm not saying that Huckabee would do that, but I'm contrasting the difference between Republicans and Democrats this election cycle. But what we're concerned about when it comes to Huckabee is he reminds us far too much of President Bush -- a self-described "compassionate conservative" that bought into the idea that conservatives should embrace the Democrat's ideas that big government and spending can solve problems. (Overall, no one can deny this about the president, and it's the single largest gripe we have with him.)

Huckabee can surge. Chances are, he might even increase that lead by another point or two. But we think, seriously, this is too little, too late for Mike Huckabee. Furthermore, his "truth squad," which is playing fast and loose with the facts, isn't helping him. If anything, they're giving his critics more fodder once those people start digging up the facts surrounding their claims.

Publius II

The "tinfoil ticket '08"? Don't laugh because Kucinich obviously isn't

We've heard this idea bandied about for some time now. Not because we're sadistic and twisted but because to a few people, this scenario makes sense. (Will it happen? Only God knows.) Don Surber gets the tip on this one:

This is not my idea. Ed Mathews, a columnist for the Erie Times-News, said Dennis Kucinich keeps talking about having a Democrat and a Republican on the same ticket.

Mathews wrote: “The Republican he is suggesting, Ron Paul, is a congressman from Texas. According to one political observer, it could be called the liberal-libertarian ticket.”

Tinfoil time!

They have little in common other than opposition to the war. But with the allies winning in Iraq (I say we won), I doubt that will be an issue a year from now.

I know that the Paul-bots are dug in, and ready for the fight. Of course, they're also hoping they can continue to gin up support for a guy who has less than a snowball's chance in Hell of taking the GOP nomination, and if he does do a third-party ticket (of which we understand that if he does do that, he can't run as a Republican to keep his House seat), he'll get the Libertarian nomination, but he won't win the general. In fact, if he does make that move, he's going to pull from the Democrat more than the Republican. (He is the antiwar candidate on our side -- a trait he shares with many Democrats now.)

But would he accept running with Kucinich on a third-party ticket? that's the question. Kucinich is nuttier than Paul is, I'll admit, but neither one really has any sort of serious proposals that will come true.

Look, here's a memo for the Paul-bots -- We like his small government stance, but what are the chances he'll accomplish his goals? The Congress won't go along with his ideas of getting rid of the NEA, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the IRS. Going back to the gold standard? Yeah, right; Congress is ready to jump on that one. And what of those letters of marque that he spoke of? Again, yeah right.

Likewise, if we look at Kucinich's proposed plans we see that he is completely off his rocker, and doesn't even begin to fathom how this nation works. Hillary talks about her "35 year record of accomplishments" as her credentials to be president, and at least that virtually invisible record makes more sense than anything Kucinich has to offer.

If these two decide to join up, then so be it. They'll be the laughingstocks of the election cycle. Neither has a shot at their respective nomination, and a third-party bid is only going to hurt the Democrats. GOP voters -- even those that are sick of the war -- won't join up with these guys because there's more to this election than just the war. It may be a central point on the trail, but they'll trust the GOP nominee more than a loon from Ohio and a nut from Texas.

Publius II

The Hollywood flop fest: IBD asks a pertinent question

A little background is needed here. Back when I was in college, and earning money to support my bills, I worked at a video store. That was one of the funnest jobs I've ever had. Why? Because I'm an avid movie buff. From classics to Disney; from the astounding to the asinine, I loved them all. Sure, I came across a few stinkers, but for the most part I enjoyed the ones I watched. (This experience also led to the extensive movie collection I have now -- almost enough to start up my own video store if I wanted to.)

But my days of going to the movies are limited. I work hard for the money I earn, and I'm not apt to head out to the cineplex these days. Why? Because there haven't been a lot of decent movies coming out of Hollywood these days. Marcie agrees. We're not too impressed by many of the so-called actors/actresses out there, most scripts start out decent and fail by movies' end, and the special effects -- if there are any -- are tired, rehashed, or unprofessional. (Truth be told, the last movie we saw in the theater was Serenity; yes we missed 300 on the big screen, and yes, I'm still kicking myself over that.)

Today, Investor's Business Daily has a timely piece on the antiwar films presented by Tinsel Town this holiday season (how messed up is that?), and asks if Hollywood has learned it's lesson yet, or if they're still playing the game in a numb-from-the-brain-down fashion. If they are now in the business of propaganda, then they better be prepared for less receipts at the box office::

Why doesn't Hollywood cut to the chase the next time it wants to insult the public with a new war-on-terror film and just call it "Bombs Away"? As movies depicting U.S. troops as bad guys and terrorists as sensitive, misunderstood souls continue to crank out, the industry needs to take its puny box office returns as a wake-up call from the public.

Despite top star billings, big-foot directors, the best publicity money can buy and critical acclaim, the public just isn't biting. The problem is the content.

"Redacted," gave us the Christmasy theme of Iraqi rape starring U.S. troops as rapists. It drew just $10,039 over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to BoxOfficeMojo, and $34,000 at its open.

Meanwhile "Rendition," which showed terrorists as pensive souls, bombed too. "A Mighty Heart," depicting terrorists' war on the West as "understandable," was a dud. "Syriana," portraying U.S. intelligence officers as crooks in bed with Big Oil, also fared poorly. "Lions For Lambs," a long anti-war monologue, bored people out of the Cineplex.

Critics say the lousy returns show the public is fatigued with the war. But name one film supportive of the U.S. war in Iraq, making heroes of the war's real heroes, such as our troops or even Iraq's democrats. Name one that portrays al-Qaida terrorists as the cold-blooded Islamofascist killers they really are.

The public isn't sated on good Iraq films; in reality, it's famished.

What's offered is an insult. Hollywood imagines it can educate the rubes in the heartland with its propaganda.

But the U.S. war effort is a vast enterprise that touches the lives of millions of moviegoers who know what's going on in Iraq. They're actually the experts. The public is not fooled by leftist propaganda.

What's more, good movies still make money. Disney's fun kid flick, "Enchanted," packed them in this weekend with $34.4 million in box office receipts. Not one anti-U.S. note in it.

Then there's the argument that Hollywood has gone global and anti-U.S. movies are just catering to world tastes. Really? Foreign box office sales account for only 15% of Hollywood's returns.

What's at stake is whether Hollywood really respects its audience. Unless it can shake its left-wing preachings, it's going to keep getting empty Christmas stockings from a disgusted public. Hollywood better start getting that straight.

This is the point that Hollywood doesn't seem to get. We need to remember that these are the nuanced ones; the ones that look down their nose at the "little people" and click their tongues at us when we offer up the "Why don't you do something positive or truthful on the war." I doubt Hollywood will learn it's lesson. Back in the day they had no problem showing the differences in good and evil.

Back in the day -- in Hollywood's "golden age" -- that was never a serious problem. During World War II, there were no antiwar films being shown. Washington, DC embraced Hollywood, and Hollywood did it's best to keep up the spirits of the people here in America as members of their families fought the Axis powers abroad.

But now, we're dealing with a new breed of Hollywood actors, actresses, directors, and producers. They're in the business of being pro-active politically. While they are still entitled to their opinions, all too often they speak out as thought they have experience. These people live in a fantasy world with "yes-men" surrounding them daily, and act at their beck-and-call. Gone are the days where Hollywood acts out of patriotism, love of nation, or even need of nation. Today, they are out there to ram their ideology down our throats.

Let this season serve as a reminder to Hollywood -- People go to movies to be entertained, not to be preached to. If Hollywood chooses to proselytize, then they will reap what they sow. They produce garbage to America, they'll be the ones unemployed; fired by the free market and Americans voting with their wallets.

Publius II

YouTube debate tonight, but does even CNN trust the medium

I haven't live-blogged a GOP debate in a while, and it's due in part to the numbness that still lingers in my hands. I'm considering it tonight, so just keep your eyes peeled for that later. However, yesterday this story popped up on the radar from Wired. Mind you, CNN is conducting this YouTube debate tonight, and it doesn't look like CNN has all that much confidence in the questioners:

As Republican presidential contenders brace for Wednesday's CNN-YouTube debate, the executive in charge of the event is unapologetic about his decision to put mainstream journalists in charge of deciding which user-contributed YouTube videos the candidates will actually face on the air.

For all the talk about online voter empowerment, the web is still too immature a medium to set an agenda for a national debate, says CNN senior vice president David Bohrman.

"If you would have taken the most-viewed questions last time, the top question would have been whether Arnold Schwarzenegger was a cyborg sent to save the planet Earth," says Bohrman, the debate's executive producer. "The second-most-viewed video question was: Will you a convene a national meeting on UFOs?"

Thus, instead of using an online voting system to select video questions, CNN's journalists are plowing through the contributions this week. CNN will air the final 40-or-so selected questions Wednesday (8 p.m. EST) when the Republican presidential candidates take the podium in St. Petersburg, Florida -- submitting to a debate format Democratic presidential candidates went through in July.

CNN's YouTube-enabled presidential debate is one of several mainstream media experiments in voter-candidate interaction that have emerged this election cycle -- and faced mixed reviews. The Huffington Post teamed up with Yahoo and online political newsmagazine Slate in September to allow netizens to pick preselected questions for the candidates, which were then posed by PBS talk show host Charlie Rose. Videos of the recorded interviews were posted on the web. But the interactive element was little more than an on-demand cable-television-like offering, and not a true two-way conversation between voters and candidates. ...

... "The notion that the CNN-YouTube debate represents a grass-roots triumph of the internet age is laughable," wrote Marty Kaplan, a research professor at the University of California's Annenberg School for Communication. "The 4,000+ videos are pawns; the questioners are involuntary shills, deployed by the network producers in no less deliberate, calculating and manipulative a fashion as the words and stories fed by teleprompters into anchors' mouths."

But Bohrman, a 53-year-old technology geek and network TV news veteran, says allowing internet users to vote on which videos to air would reduce, not enhance, the quality of the debate -- a lesson he says he learned during a brief stint at the doomed online media company Pseudo.com.

"Guess what, there are troublemakers," says Bohrman. "When I was at Pseudo, and we ran live video chats, we had (people typing) 'Fuck You' in 98-point-type, which appeared on the screen."

He's also concerned that the questioning could be manipulated. "It's really easy for the campaigns to game the system," he says. "You've seen how effective the Ron Paul campaign (supporters) have been on the web -- you don't know if there are 40 or four million of them. It would be easy for a really organized campaign to stack the deck."

Community-chosen videos would also rob the debate of spontaneity, because the candidates would know well in advance what question they will be asked.

But in the end, Bohrman just doesn't trust people on the internet to pick the interesting questions. A recently launched project by TechPresident called 10 Questions allows users to vote up or down on video questions that will then be sent to the presidential campaigns, but he's not impressed with the results.

"You look at 10 Questions, and some of the questions are interesting," Bohrman says. "But some of them are completely irrelevant and not interesting, and then it's just another artificial Kabuki dance."

Look, I hate to say this but this is the furthest thing from the Lincoln/Douglas debates. Truth be told, and as I pointed out on the air with Hugh last night, the YouTube questions were not only a farce, but a disaster. People groaned as they watched this slip-shod production that had less substance than a William Shatner toupee. This debate forum is nothing more than, as Mr. Bohrman called it, a "kabuki dance." It's "gotcha" journalism.

It takes away the spontaneous reaction of the candidates, leaves little time for discussion of substantive issues, and the issues raised by the majority of questioners will completely lack the intelligence that we would normally expect from a debate amongst presidential candidates. Look, I'm not trying to demean or be mean to the average American citizen. The average person doesn't even pay attention to election year politics until after Labor of the election year. That's a statistical fact. Only hard-core news and politics junkies -- like ourselves, like poli-bloggers -- pay this close attention to the race in it's early legs.

So, who is producing these videos? It's likely the 'Net-savvy individuals out there, but Lord, look at those questions. They're idiotic and asinine. They lack the basic political information to be relevant. While I applaud those in 'Net-oriented businesses for wanting to attract new voices in the political realm, there should be some basic knowledge involved, and as Mr. Bohrman basically said, these people aren't professional. They're kids, or they act like it. The 'Net has provided them a level of anonymity that they use to get away with a lot of stupid comments and tricks.

Presidential debates should be professional. The questions should be serious and substantive. We are, after all, choosing the next president of the United States. We're not looking for "Mr. Cool." The YouTube fiasco that will unfold tonight should serve as a final reminder to news outlets and political commentators that this is not the wave of the future. It's a passing fad, and in the most important election out of the last decade, a group of geeks are going to get the opportunity to ask the most obtuse questions that we've ever heard.

Prediction -- There are 40 questions tonight. I'm betting that if we're lucky, there will be five substantive questions throughout the whole debate.

Publius II

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lott announces resignation

Only he knows why he's doing it, and no I doubt it's due to him being tired of being in DC. It might have more to do with the fact that he's not well-liked amongst the GOP base. But whatever the reason, I can't say we'll miss him much:

Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, announced Monday he will retire from the Senate before January, ending a 35-year career in Congress in which he rose to his party's top Senate job only to lose it over a remark interpreted as support for segregation.

"It's time for us to do something else," Lott said, speaking for himself and his wife Tricia at a news conference.

Lott, 66, said he had notified President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Sunday about his plans. Barbour, a Republican, will name someone to temporarily replace Lott.

"There are no problems. I feel fine," Lott said.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who helped broker a bipartisan immigration bill that went down to defeat this year despite President Bush's support for it, will run to replace Lott as the Republicans' vote-counting whip, said spokesman Ryan Patmintra.

Lott described his 16 years in the House and 19 in the Senate "a wild ride — and one that I'm proud of."

He said he was leaving with "no anger, no malice."

Lott's colleagues elected him as the Senate's Republican whip last year, a redemption for the Mississippian after his ouster five years ago as the party's Senate leader over remarks he made at retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. Lott had saluted the South Carolina senator with comments later interpreted as support for southern segregationist policies.

Bush did not stand behind Lott after his remarks about Thurmond, increasing pressure on the lawmaker to step down from the No. 1 Senate job.

Asked about his conversation Sunday with the president, Lott said, "He was very kind in his remarks. Over the years we've had our ups and downs, good times and bad times, both of us." Bush, Lott said, "felt like I'd be missed in my role" as Senate minority whip.

After the 2006 elections, when Democrats recaptured the Senate, Lott was put in charge of lining up and counting Republican votes as whip, the No. 2 job behind minority leader Mitch McConnell.

Lott, who said he wanted "to be able to leave on a positive note," said he began thinking about retiring in August. His term runs through 2012.

He said he doesn't have a new job lined up and that new restrictions on lobbying that take effect after Dec. 31, 2007 "didn't have a big role" in his decision to retire. The regulations extend the "cooling off" period for lobbying by former members of Congress from one to two years.

Lott becomes the sixth Senate Republican this year to announce retirement. Democrats effectively hold a 51-49 majority in the chamber, including two independents who align themselves with Democrats. His retirement means that Republicans will have to defend 23 seats in next year's election, while Democrats have only 12 seats at stake.

Lott expressed some frustration with the pace of progress on legislation under Democratic leadership, and said it was clearly better to be in the majority. But he also said that politicians often take themselves too seriously.

"In Washington, in life, we tend sometimes to get to thinking that we are especially anointed that only we can do this job, but somebody will pick up the flag and carry on."

Check out that bolded money quote, and ask yourselves if you are getting the feeling that many in Washington feel the same way. It's obvious many Democrats do -- Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, etc., ad nauseum -- but I think the fact that Lott and many of his colleagues on that side of the aisle surprised the GOP base when they lashed out at. Lott and his cronies in Congress ripped the base when we spoke out against immigration reform. He personally led the charge in attacking PorkBusters when they formed up and watched how Congress spent money.

The public display we're seeing is a many supposedly leaving on his own terms. But what's behind the scenes that could have influenced this decision now? Allah may have the inside track on his decision and would any of us be surprised if it were true?

The senator, after 34 years of public service in Congress is not wealthy like many of his colleagues and has talked for some time about leaving so he could earn more money.

So, aides said, the senator decided to leave by year’s end to circumvent new lobbying rules — instituted by Congress this year and effective in 2008 — that that would bar members from lobbying their colleagues after two years.

The so-called “revolving door” policy in effect now keeps former members from lobbying their colleagues for one year. The changes were made in the wake of the scandal surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

So, one of the Senates pork-poo-bahs has had enough of giving out the money, and now he wants his payoff? This could be true, as Lott was always known for trying to find a loophole in the rules. As for who would replace him, both Allah and Captain Ed are hearing that former state representative Chip Pickering may be the one chosen to succeed Lott. There's a problem waiting to happen: Pickering has dismal numbers from the Club For Growth's "RePork card" (2%), and he was mentored by Lott, so in essence, we'll get a "Trent Lott, Jr." in place of the original. I like Allah's suggestion that Amy Tuck might be pegged to take the seat. After all, she left the Democrat party due to policy differences on matters like national security, spending, and abortion. In the end, it's up to Governor Barbour as to who will be chosen to complete Lott's term in office.

I'd like to say we're saddened by this, but the only thing that has us concerned is that now we have 23 seats to defend in the upcoming election. It's not going to be an easy road to climb, but it's one we have to undertake regardless. The next president will need to have all the support in the Senate they can muster to get their appointments through. That's especially true for any judicial nominations that will, most assuredly, be coming. But as for the question about shedding tears over Lott's departure, no we're not.

The only other bright spot we see in all of this is that Lott's replacement as whip might just be John Kyl. Say what you want about Kyl, especially with his involvement in immigration reform, but one thing Kyl isn't is Trent Lott. He is a hard-nosed, fiscal minded conservative, and he was one person we were hoping would get the whip's job in the first place. He'll keep the ranks in line int he Senate, and he won't back down from the Democrats. So, even on a cloudy day, the clouds still have a silver lining.

Publius II

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fred! swings, and whiffs

When it comes to the presidential election next year a lot of people were hoping to see Fred Thompson ride in, and take the race away from those that had already situated themselves in the trenches. There was a lot of hype and hope, and given his performance to date, there's also quite a bit of disappointment. But that hasn't stopped him from campaigning, and today he took a swipe at FOX News for supposedly dogging him once he did enter the race:

Fred Thompson attacked Fox News on Sunday for what he called a "constant mantra" that his floundering campaign for president is troubled, and he accused the network of skewing things against him.

Thompson certainly isn't the first politician to make that accusation, but he's the first high-profile Republican to do so.The assertion was arresting because Fox News was frequently Thompson's forum of choice when he was contemplating a campaign and as he tried to find his footing after he announced.

Where did Thompson do it? On "Fox News Sunday," in a heated exchange with host Chris Wallace, who played clips of Fox commentators saying his campaign had been a disappointment.

"It's a lot of the same kind of stuff that I heard when I first ran for office, when I was 20 points down. And fortunately, I wound up 20 points ahead on election night," Thompson said.

"This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth. And I saw the promo ... for this show, and it was kind of featuring the New Hampshire poll. Let's put things in context a little bit, to start with."

Thompson was referring to a CNN/WMUR poll that showed his support in the Granite State had collapsed to 4 percent, putting him in sixth place among the Republican presidential hopefuls.

Referring to Fox commentators, Thompson said: "From Day One, they said I got in too late, I couldn't do it ... wouldn't raise enough money, and that sort of thing. And that's their opinion. They're entitled to their opinion. But that doesn't seem to be shared by the cross section of American people. If you look at the national polls, you'll see that I'm running second and have been running second for a long time."

The latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls does have the former Tennessee senator in second place, far behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and slightly ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"They're entitled to their opinion," Thompson continued. "But for you to highlight nothing but the negative in terms of these polls, and then put on your own guys, who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn't do it, you know, kind of skews things a little bit."

Time out there, senator. First off many people -- Thompson included -- seem to think that FOX is conservative when it's not. It is, by far, a more balanced network, but people have to remember that it is still a part of the mainstream media. They jump on the media bandwagon just like everyone else. So I think his attack is unwarranted.

Furthermore, he seems to be emanating this sort of attitude that he'll-take-the-job-if-someone-wants-to-give-it-him. That's lackadaisical, and it doesn't resonate well with voters. In fact there are quite a few "Fred-Heads" on the 'Net and int he real world we've spoken with and they're not happy with this lackluster demeanor he seems to be showing the world. And yes, you can count us among those people because we penned an excellent piece about his potential dynamic, and what he might do to change the field not too long ago. (BTW, a Google search for that particular piece shows that a few of Fred's supporters picked up on it, and have cited it on a number of Fred forums.)

The point is this: We gave him a pass on his first debate because he probably wasn't as prepared as he thought for it. The second debate was better. He does keep getting better at these forums, but this "aw shucks" attitude he portrays isn't gaining him any ground. Yes, he is running second to Rudy (the two are throwing barbs back and forth at one another), but he still can't seem to gain any headway.

If Fred truly wants the nomination, then he needs to show the nation he wants it. He can't just sit back on cruise control, and expect it to drop in his lap. Governor Romney will likely take the early primary states, and Mayor Giuliani is prepared to take a big bite out of the primary states that are a go on 5 February. If Fred waits around too long, it won't be the voters at fault. It'll be his fault. This race is his to lose, and taking swipes at an MSM outlet isn't the way to go, especially when so many people are tuning into FOX for it's balanced coverage. Besides, just about every MSM pundit out there agrees that he's made some calculated mistakes. So we're not buying the "You're picking on me" line.

Publius II

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Captain Ed explains it all

Right here, with regard to the new attack on Romney about his "Willie Horton" moment. In short, a thread story over at the Free Republic Boston Globe is claiming that Mitt Romney was responsible for a Willie Horton-esque criminal release. See, they point to a story about a judge he appointed to the Massachusetts courts, and the fact that the judge allowed this guy to be released. But, as they say, the devil's int he details, and Captain Ed has those details that were conveniently overlooked:

This, however, differs from the Horton issue with Michael Dukakis in two important ways. First, judicial appointments in Massachusetts work very differently than at the federal level. As with New York City, a judicial panel recommends a few candidates for each opening to the Governor, who rarely if ever works outside the system. These candidates get reviewed by the panel through their records, but with their names removed, in order to ensure fairness. Tuttman would have appeared to be a good candidate; she had a good track record as a prosecutor, and had won convictions in some higher-profile cases.

Romney's critics then complained that he hadn't appointed more women to the bench. He pressed the Judicial Nominating Commission to provide more potential female candidates for appointments. This demonstrates that Romney had only small latitude in selecting these candidates.

The Horton incident stuck to Dukakis for other reasons. Horton raped a woman and stabbed her fiance after being released on a work-furlough program, even though he had already committed murder and had a life sentence. Dukakis had supported this program as governor, claiming it as an important tool for criminal rehabilitation, while critics castigated him and the state for allowing lifers with no possibility of release outside of clemency into the furlough program. (Horton had been sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years.) In fact, Dukakis had vetoed a bill prohibiting the entry of lifers into the rehab program -- which would have kept Horton behind bars where he belonged.

Romney's appointment in Tuttman certainly turned out badly, but one has to understand the context of that appointment. The nomination process has burdensome limits, and the selection of a successful prosecutor for that slot would certainly have given some confidence that the new judge would err on the side of caution from the bench. Tragically, that hope was dashed and two people have had their lives senselessly ended -- but that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the judge herself, and of course the murderer.

Just a few short months ago, Ben Smith of Politico penned a bomb-throwing column on Rudy Giuliani's judicial appointments in New York, and failed to note how the process actually worked there. Again we have a question of judicial appointments, and whether or not to the two front-runners can be trusted on this important platform point.

Both men have stated that they would appoint jurists of the constructionist/textualist/originalist stripe, and there's no reason not to believe them. Again, the jurists they appointed had little to do with Constitutional issues outside of their state's purview. In fact, Giuliani's judges were for the criminal courts; Romney was able to appoint jurists to the state supreme court. If he had placed an activist jurist up on that court, I'd be a tad more worried about him appointing judges to the federal district courts, appellate courts, and Supreme Court. But he hasn't. As for Rudy, the people that would help him make judicial picks outweighs what opponents have to say on this issue. Ted Olsen's a good man, a former solicitor general, and would most certainly be asked his advice on a choice.

Bomb-throwing, like this article today on Romney, is a part of election politics. But if his opponents want to score some points, they're going to have to come up with something better than this. Damaging mud has to stick, and if it doesn't, then you wasted an opportunity. Worse, you add doubt to your accusations the next time one is lobbed in the direction of a candidate; people will take the attack with more than just a few grains of salt.

Additionally, this sort of an attack is asinine because, like Ben Smith, someone clearly didn't do their homework with regard to how much input Romney had in the appointment process. If they had, then this story never would have seen the light of day except within the MSM where idiots daily pat themselves on the back for stories that aren't really news at all.

Publius II

UPDATE: I made a mistake in stating the story came from Free Republic. I have made the correction above. It originated in the Globe. I had confused this one with a Free Republic thread I was reading on the Romney push polling story. My apologies to readers.

J-Pod explains why this is a two-man race

Yes, we addressed this in a column for Common Conservative, but J-Pod's a helluva lot more eloquent than we are, even though he hammers the point home just as effectively as we did:

Rudy Giuliani has either stalled or fallen some in the polls over the last month, and questions are being raised about his campaign’s “theory of the race” — which is, basically, that he can successfully wait to win a state until Florida’s primary on January 29 and use his victory there to rack up a huge number of delegates a week later when Republican voters in 21 states go to the polls to select a nominee.

Friend and foe alike ask whether Giuliani can really afford to lose the first three states of the primary season — Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — especially when those states may all be won by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Why won’t these losses cause the bloom to fade from the Giuliani rose? Why won’t Republicans then transfer their affections to Romney? Why wouldn’t those Romney triumphs put the former governor in a position to win the crucial Florida primary on January 29, thereby effectively putting an end to the Giuliani candidacy?

These are all very good questions, and there is something notable about them. They suggest that the Republican primary is a two-man race.

Romney has a coherent plan for victory: He is fighting like mad to win early states in the hope that those victories will catapult him into the big primary as the leader. So he is leading in polls in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina but is trailing badly in national polls.

Giuliani has a coherent plan for victory: Use his persistent standing at the top of the national leader board and his deep popularity in Florida (land of ex-New Yorkers) to his advantage by allowing him to bypass the earlier, smaller, more eccentric states where he has less of a chance to prevail.

The other three contenders for the nomination seem to have no plan for victory. John McCain is refusing to go gentle into that good night, and his brave advocacy of the Petraeus surge has given him renewed standing among Republican primary voters — but he has no money and has just made too many enemies. Fred Thompson got into the race in September to test the notion that dissatisfaction with the choices on hand would cause a wave of support to flow his way. Interesting idea, but it didn’t work, and now the support that did flow to him is flowing away. Mike Huckabee, Baptist preacher turned politician, has taken Thompson’s place as the Southern conservative to watch, but while he is conservative on social issues, on economic and political matters he seems more in the populist traditions of the Democratic party, and he has no plausible path to the nomination.

That leaves Giuliani and Romney. So, knowing what we know today – Giuliani leading in the national polls but slipping and Romney leading in the early states, slipping in Iowa but gaining in New Hampshire and South Carolina — which candidate is in a better position?

I think Giuliani is, and I do not say this as an advocate. In all three states where Romney is leading, he is facing distinct challenges. Huckabee is gaining on him in Iowa. McCain has advanced in New Hampshire even as Giuliani has faded some. And he is in a statistical dead heat in South Carolina with Giuliani and Thompson.

Under these conditions, Romney might win in all three, but do so in a less than commanding fashion that allows the media to focus attention on those who come in second — Huckabee, McCain, and even Giuliani. After all, the only time a win isn’t a win is in primary politics. (Quick — which Democrat won New Hampshire in 1992? No, it wasn’t Bill Clinton, the self-declared “Comeback Kid.” It was Paul Tsongas.)

Meanwhile, Giuliani still leads by an average of 16 points in Florida. If he wins there, he erases every advantage Romney might have attained, including a delegate lead. And heads into the big primary as the name in the headlines.
All that said, with Romney feeling the heat from Huckabee in Iowa and forced therefore to concentrate on the state in December (the caucuses are on January 3), it is plausible that Giuliani will decide to shift gears a bit and make a far more substantial push in New Hampshire. Because if he wins there, or comes very close, the Romney theory of victory evaporates and then the only man left standing is Giuliani.

(All this theorizing, of course, comes to naught if somebody makes a huge blunder or is the subject of an unflattering revelation.)

Spot on, and that last part is equally accurate. Granted, the race started early, and it's progressed a great deal, but no one on the Republican side has really stepped in it bad enough to cost them the race. (The lone exception seems to be Senator Brownback who switched his vote on amnesty, which probably helped him drop out. No one's going to support a guy like that because it's the ultimate flip-flop; worse than even Hillary's stupid mistake.) Anything can still happen in the race, and that doesn't exclude either Romney or Rudy from making a costly mistake.

Publius II

"Michigan, you are cleared for 15 January primary."

Just when we thought the primary calender had settled down, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that the state may move up their primary date to 15 Jan:

Michigan's Jan. 15 presidential primary can go forward, the state Supreme Court decided Wednesday, keeping alive the state's bid to be one of the 2008 campaign's first contests and clearing the way for New Hampshire to finally set its own early date.

New Hampshire law requires the state to hold the nation's first primary, and Secretary of State Bill Gardner has been waiting to see what Michigan would do. Once that was cleared up, he signaled he would announce the New Hampshire date.

Candidates have been campaigning hard in New Hampshire under the assumption that the state would vote on the parties' nominees early in the primary season, as usual.

The Michigan high court's decision should allow that state's Republican and Democratic parties to take part in the Jan. 15 primary. Both have already filed letters with the state saying that's their plan.

However, by holding its primary so early — in violation of the national parties' rules — Michigan stands to lose half of its delegates to the Republican National Convention, reducing the number to 30, and all of its 156 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

The national parties have imposed similar penalties on other states as party leaders have struggled to regain control of a chaotic nominating calendar.
If Michigan has its primary on Jan. 15, that would put it behind only Iowa's caucuses on Jan. 3, Wyoming's caucuses on Jan. 5 and — according to many expectations — New Hampshire's primary on Jan. 8. ...

This is a move that is advantageous to Mitt Romney. Despite the bitter battle going on between him and Rudy right now, it is likely that he will take Michigan in the primaries. Furthermore, it helps set the stage for who the nominee will be. Yes, many states are waiting, but a good deal of the primaries for both parties are being held early this year. It ensures that the general election candidates will be virtually set by the first week of March.

Publius II

Where are YOUR credentials, Madam Senator?

Thanks to her own mistake in the Democrat debate in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton found herself behind the proverbial eight-ball as she watched her lead over Barack Obama in Iowa drop. To recover, she danced around questions and issues in the next debate in Las Vegas -- a debate many pundits dubbed the worst debate by far for the Democrats. The numbers didn't get better; they got worse, and Obama has closed in on her. What's her reaction? She goes on the attack, and swallows her foot:

During a campaign event in Shenandoah, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sharpened her attacks on rival Barack Obama's experience. Clinton questioned Obama's claim that living in a foreign country as a child helped shape his understanding of the world and influences his outlook on foreign policy today.

"With a war and a tough economy, we need a president ready on day one to bring our troops from Iraq and handle all our other tough challenges," Clinton said as she spoke by phone to the crowd in Shenandoah earlier today. "Now voters will judge whether living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face. I think we need a president with more experience than that."

Clinton repeatedly touts her own experience as first lady and told the crowd in Shenandoah that "the rest of the world knows, looks up to and has confidence" in her. "I don't think this is a time for on-the-job training on our economy or on foreign policy and I offer my credentials, my experience and qualifications which I think uniquely equip me to be prepared to hit the ground on day one," Clinton said, "and I offer the experience of being battle-tested in the political wars here at home."

On Monday during an appearance in Iowa, Obama said his four years in Indonesia as a child help
him better understand other cultures. Obama's campaign fired back at Clinton on Tuesday, suggesting she represents "conventional Washington thinking that prizes posture and positioning," while Obama puts "judgment and honesty first."

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards didn't mimic his own campaign spokesman and accuse Clinton of mudslinging, but Edwards had this to say about Clinton tonight during a question and answer session with reporters in Des Moines. "We don't elect resumes for president of the United States. We elect people presidents," Edwards said, "and the important thing is to have a clear understanding of what America needs to be doing, which I talk about every day out here on the campaign trail."

First, I'll agree with Senator Clinton that living in a country in one's youth doesn't make you an expert on foreign policy. That's like saying "Yeah, I went to Yale Law School; stayed for one semester because it was too much work, but I know the law." So, in that respect, I'll concur that it's not exactly "experience" other than to that particular nation. It doesn't guarantee he knows about the world.

On the flip side, where are her credentials she continues to cite? She keeps bring up "35 years of experience" as a part of her resume, but she doesn't elaborate on any of it. We know she was politically active when she attended Wellesley, but we don't know much about that. In fact, the nation really hadn't heard of her until 1992 when her husband jumped into the presidential race. Her record as First Lady shows she had one major role, early-on with regard to her health care initiative, and nothing more beyond that. If greeting foreign dignitaries and their wives is "foreign policy experience," then this is a pot-and-kettle moment between her and Obama. No one's going to be moved by handshakes, kisses, and small talk.

Lastly, I commend John Edwards for saying exactly what many people are thinking right now. "We don't elect resumes for president of the United States. We elect people presidents." The nation is making a decision based only partly on the resume. There are a lot of decisions to be made in the run-up to the election. The resume gives us a history of the candidate, but the here and now counts a helluva lot more than what you did in the past. The past only tells you where they stood then, and provides you a pattern to their ideology. But we have seen candidates change over time. Anyone who denies that is denying some of Ronald Reagan's earlier beliefs. (Granted that comes his early youth, and his change begins to occur then when he begins to question FDR's social programs during the depression.)

But she has a serious problem with her resume. She's not being candid about it. She's not being forthcoming with it. She continues to elude to it, but offers the voters nothing but a talking point. This is evident not only in watching her, but also listening to her supporters. They can't seem to provide one, either, prior to 1992. Even then, they don't mention one thing about foreign policy experience.

Say what you want, but this is an issue that is extremely important in the world we live in. We must have a strong leader that can work with allies to keep this nation, and the West, safe from threats. If you look at Obama, his youthful naivety led to the Pakistan gaffe that cost him dearly in the early polls in Iowa. John Edwards has no experience. As a matter of fact, I can't think of a single Democrat running that does have any serious foreign policy experience, which is why what they say right now is what voters pay attention to. (Well, at least us hard-core political junkies.) And yes, I'll admit that only one GOP candidate really has any sort of experience, and that's Rudy. But that's also because the UN is in New York, and he had occasions to meet and speak with ambassadors and guests of the UN. (His experience goes beyond the Saudi prince and the check, post-11 September, and the issue about Yasser Arafat coming to the US.)

I'd also like to note the flip-flop Hillary made in the second paragraph: "With a war and a tough economy, we need a president ready on day one to bring our troops from Iraq and handle all our other tough challenges." That's not what she said here. This is a flip-flop, and she is pandering to anyone she can.

Publius II

Supreme Court to hear DC gun case

This was one we were waiting for, and we knew the high court would grant cert on it. It's simply too important a case to ignore for them. But this may be a powder keg of a case (no pun intended) when the decision is rendered next year:

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to "keep and bear arms" in nearly 70 years.

The justices' decision to hear the case could make the divisive debate over guns an issue in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment. Tuesday's announcement was widely expected, especially after both the District and the man who challenged the handgun ban asked for the high court review.

Eugene Volokh has related thoughts here regarding the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Allah isn't holding his breath and thinks the high court is going to screw this one up. Of course, he's not talking about the entire court, but rather the port side wing of it, with Justice Kennedy being the swing vote again; I'm guessing that he thinks Justice Kennedy will swing the wrong way. Orin Kerr thinks that Justice Kennedy will rule narrowly, and see an individual right.

There is a lot at contention in this case, and the court has it's hand full, but it's a necessity at this time in our nation's history. This has to be ruled upon, and the gun-grabbers/pro-gun control people have to suck it up and deal with whatever that decision is.

I know a lot of people are really worried about the pending decision (which won't be handed down until June or July of next year; just in time to make it a serious campaign issue), and more than a couple of our friends have predicted that the high court is going to strike down the Second Amendment. That's asinine. (We said they're our friends, not legal scholars.) We know that the Supreme Court has chosen to ignore the Tenth Amendment on many occasions, and they totally screwed up the Kelo decision, but there is no way in Hell that they're going to toss the Second Amendment under the bus.

Here's our prediction: The high court will rule that the Second Amendment's "right to bear arms" is an individual right, and they'll make a federalist solution to the problem which gives the States the right to regulate firearms. Many Second Amendment advocates need to remember that the Bill of Rights applies to the federal government. Congress can't infringe on gun ownership rights just as much as they can't legally curtail First Amendment rights. But the States can. They already do. A concealed carry permit can't be transferred from state-to-state, especially given the fact that more than a few states don't have CCW laws on the books. (There are only 39 states which allow concealed-carry.)

If the court rules on the federalist side of the issue, it's a virtual punt. It means they recognize the right is there -- be it collective or individual -- but they're not going to tell one state (or in this case, one district) that they can't own firearms, which is at the heart of the case before them.

Publius II

Keyes to attend the next GOP debate

As if the bloody stage wasn't crowded enough, Alan Keyes has accepted an invitation to the next GOP debate in Iowa:

Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes has accepted an invitation to participate in the last scheduled — and in some ways most important — Republican debate before the Jan. 3 first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus.

The Des Moines Register's Republican Presidential Debate is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Dec. 12 at Iowa Public Television's Maytag Auditorium in Johnston, Iowa.At last report, all major Republican candidates except former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani have also accepted the invitation to participate.

The Des Moines Register has a reputation for putting on fair and informative events. Their debates have become an Iowa tradition that reporters and editors from across the nation take seriously.

The debate will be broadcast live on statewide Iowa Public Television from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (CT) Dec. 12, and will be re-broadcast at a later time on IPTV. The program will also be offered to public television stations across the country.

Ambassador Keyes expressed his thanks to the sponsors of the event, saying, "I'm grateful to those who will not abandon their resolve to raise the standard of political integrity. I pray God that my participation in the debate will vindicate their good will."

This is a smart move on the part of the GOP. Why? Because Keyes is not only a noted and intelligent politician, but he's probably one of the best orators in the nation, and that little bit of class and style I think will help the debaters. The only drawback, and one that might be costly, is the fact that Rudy isn't going to attend; at least that's the case as of right now.

But let's face facts, folks ... the field of the GOP candidates is pretty big on that stage. The Democrats have narrowed their field; only seven participated in the last Democrat debate. The GOP candidates should seriously take a look at their field, and a couple should bow out now. Sam Brownback was smart in removing himself from the field. He wasn't getting the needed contributions, he wasn't polling any higher than 1%, and he was not looking good in the debates.

Who else could bow out? I know some readers are thinking I'm going to say Ron Paul should go, but given the fact that he's polling high now in Iowa (and the fact the GOP candidates in the debates need some comic relief), we'll leave Paul in for now. But Representatives Tancredo and Hunter could easily bow out. (Don't get us wrong here. We like them both, but the money isn't flowing in, and they're not polling well. It's the Sam Brownback campaign all over again.)

Will Alan Keyes really make a difference in the field? Probably not. He might attract some new supporters, and he might actually push the field to sound, act, and debate better, but he's a lot like the also-rans; he has not shot at the nomination. (Don't get ticked at us. We read the political tea leaves, and nothing more. He would have to knock a lot of people's socks off to have a shot at the nomination.)

Publius II