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.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Huck Up

He claims he will not air this attack ad on Mitt Romney because he is taking the moral high ground. Yet, he played it for reporters to prove that he had made it. From MSNBC:

In what has to be one of the most bizarre political press conferences in recent times, Huckabee told a packed room of reporters that he was pulling a negative TV ad his campaign had produced to respond to Romney's attacks.

"The cookie cutter approach says you get hit, you hit back,” Huckabee told the reporters, adding, “I think that the Washington way often has been effective. But there may be a better way, and I hope that we can prove that's exactly the case."

Then -- via a laptop projector -- he showed the ad anyway to the several dozen journalists in the room.

Adding to the spectacle, the sound of the ad didn't work for several minutes -- until the press got to hear it one time. The ad, which his campaign said cost $30,000 to produce, begins with Huckabee speaking to the viewer. "I'm Mike Huckabee, and I approve this message, because Iowans have a right to know the truth about Mitt Romney's dishonest attacks on me and even an American hero, John McCain."

Then an announcer takes over. "Romney's record? Over $700 million in new taxes. Left office with a deficit. No executions. Supported gun control. And Romney's government mandated health plan provided a $50 co-pay for abortion." Huckabee has the last word. "If a man is dishonest to obtain a job, he'll on the job," he says in the ad. "Iowans deserve better."

"Hopefully, this is an ad that you will see just in this room," he told the reporters.

Asked why he would announce he's pulling a negative ad -- but show it anyway -- Huckabee replied, "If I didn't show it, you'd say I never had [the ad]."

On his decision to pull the ad, Huckabee added, "If it hurts me, it hurts me... I'm taking a risk here. I know I am. If it completely makes it so he pulls away in a dramatic way, then I'll probably be the last guy to ever do this. But I'd like to be the first one to ever try."

"Thursday night, I will let you know if it was smart."

This is a low blow. He knows the press is going to eat this up, and he is going to get a ton of free publicity out of it. It does not matter that it cost him $30,000 to make. He will not have to pay for the ad time when the media runs with it. I suppose the bigger question is whether or not the media will actually rip into him over how duplicitous and deceitful this presser was.

"Here is the ad I made, but I will not run because I am better than that, and I am only showing it to you to prove I do have the testicular fortitude to make such an ad."

Sounds childish to us. Almost like a kid being taunted that he cannot do what he boasts of, then does it anyway to show he can do it. The difference is the kid proves his point. Mike Huckabee proves that he can play the game of politics, too, while keeping the other cheek turned away. Will it fool Iowans? We really hope that those in Iowa are smart enough to recognize a schmoozing politician that has about as much honesty as the previous "man from Hope" that left us in the early stages of a recession, left us vulnerable to our enemies, and breezed out of town with his pardon money, and ill-gotten gains from the White House


Disingenous Johnny

The polls say John McCain is surging. It is doubtful that his surge will be enough to catapult him to the top of the heap for the nomination. And given the fact he was caught in a lie over the weekend. See, immigration seems to be his Achilles Heel. It's what hurt him in the early goings of the primaries, and it's still an albatross around his neck. Over at Hot Air, Bryan picked up his disingenuous boast that he "never supported amnesty, but the guys at PowerLine and Michelle Malkin point to a very embarrassing quote from him on the subject. It's from 2003, and if I were in Johnny's shoes, I would have done my best to bury this one:

Sen. McCain, 2003: “Amnesty Has To Be An Important Part.” ” ‘Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens. That has to be a component of it,’ he said. ‘How can we have a temporary worker program if we’re not allowing people who have been here for 30 years to hold jobs here?’” (C. T. Revere, “McCain Pushes Amnesty, Guest-Worker Program,” Tucson Citizen, 5/29/03)

In 2003, Sen. McCain Also Said, “I Think We Can Set Up A Program Where Amnesty Is Extended To A Certain Number Of People Who Are Eligible…” “‘I believe we can pursue the security programs and at the same time set up a system where people can come here and work on a temporary basis. I think we can set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people who are eligible and at the same time make sure that we have some control over people who come in and out of this country,’ he said.” (C. T. Revere, “McCain Pushes Amnesty, Guest-Worker Program,” Tucson Citizen, 5/29/03)

Immigration has become a focal point during the campaign, as much as national security and fiscal responsibility have been. People in America are sick of seeing our laws flouted, and we're equally sick of seeing the politicians pander to those that support the violation of our laws. We only need to be reminded of the cajoling that went on while the latest amnesty proposal was being hammered out when the WaPo reported which groups held "nightly" conference calls with the senators involved:

After laboring in obscurity for decades, groups such as the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Forum are virtually being granted veto power over perhaps the biggest domestic issue coming before Congress this year. Organizations that represent what is now the nation's largest minority group are beginning to achieve power commensurate with their numbers. ...

Such groups were practically in the room yesterday, maintaining contact as Democratic and Republican senators tried to hammer out a new immigration bill before a deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for today before he moved it last night to Monday. The contours began to emerge for a bill that would couple a tightening of border controls with a guest-worker program and new avenues for an estimated 12 million undocumented workers to work legally. ...

"Some of the proposals that are coming from the negotiations in the Senate and White House are measures that the immigrant community advocates are wholly against, particularly the elimination of some aspects of family reunification," said William Ramos, a spokesman for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The groups also oppose a policy that would force immigrants to return to their home countries for an extended period and to petition for reentry.

Latino organizations know well that they have muscle to flex. A bill passed by the House last year that would have made illegal immigration a felony drove millions of Latinos into the streets in cities across the country last spring. ...

LULAC, MALDEF, La Raza and the National Immigration Forum are part of a broad network of immigrant rights groups that hold nightly conference calls and strategy sessions on the legislation. The groups speak daily with top aides in Reid's and Kennedy's offices.

John McCain and his buddies int he Senate can spin it any way they want. But it was amnesty. He was in favor of it four years ago. And these people decided to sit down with political activists, allowing them a virtual seat at the table in hammering the legislation out, while they condemned Americans that weren't exactly pleased with the results they were discovering.

John McCain is a liar, and he's lying to the base in the hopes that his neuralyzer plan might win him what he thinks he deserved in 2000. And we thought Hillary was bad.

Publius II

Must Read: Ralph Peters Speaks With General David Petreaus

The drumbeat of defeatism is still quite prevalent in the chattering class punditocracy in the Beltway, and it is still more than evident in Washington, DC despite the Democrats recent caving in to demands to fund the troops. Ralph Peters had a discussion with General Petraeus where they discussed the year of progress in Iraq:

GEN. David Petraeus evokes the late Warren Zevon's line, "I'll sleep when I'm dead": His idea of downtime on Christmas Day was to answer a series of questions from The Post - after spending 11 hours out visiting our troops.

Relentless in his pursuit of our enemies and tireless in his pursuit of enduring results for Iraq, Petraeus is on track to become America's most successful four-star general since 1945.

Question: As a remarkable year draws to a close, what's your assessment of Iraq today?

A: "Our troopers and our Iraqi partners have wrested control of many of the sanctuaries from al Qaeda in Iraq and disrupted extremist networks throughout the country. Since the 'surge of offensives' began in June, attacks and civilian deaths have decreased by 60 percent.

"Our own losses have fallen substantially, as well - although each loss is a tough reminder of the cost of what's been achieved.

"Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces are making an increasing impact on the battlefield. In the last year, they've not only added over 100,000 new soldiers and police, they've also gained in capability. The Iraqis now have well over 100 combat battalions solidly in the fight - sustaining losses at a rate two to three times our own.

"In 2008, the Iraqis will add some 30 additional battalions to help compensate for our reduction of about one-quarter of our own combat forces by the end of July.

"In some areas of Iraq today, the atmosphere resembles the spring of 2003, with many communities feeling 'liberated' once again - this time from al Qaeda and other extremist elements.

"That said, we should all be clear that what has been achieved could be reversed - the progress in many areas remains tenuous and the campaign to establish sustainable security is far from over. Al Qaeda, associated insurgent groups and militia extremists remain lethal. Nobody here is doing victory dances in the end zone."

Q: As the military situation improves, how are our tactics and strategy evolving?

A: "In the year ahead, we'll continue to focus on security for the population, living with those we seek to protect. You can't commute to this fight.

"Over time in the new year, we'll continue to thin our ranks as Iraqi forces take on more tasks. In many provinces, Iraqis already are completely in charge; in some areas, in fact, there are no coalition forces at all.

I urge readers to read the entire interview. It is telling on levels that many have forgotten since the general's initial, preliminary report on September 10th. Things have turned around. Iraqis have turned against al-Qaeda in ways many would not believe. Many still do not, but the fact remains that civilian deaths are down, US military casualties are down, and the Iraqis are stepping up despite the politicos in DC claiming it would never happen.

And this interview stands in stark contrast to opinion pieces like this one from Der Spiegel which claims that the West has failed miserably over the course of this year. According to Gabor Steingart, the Bhutto assassination caps this year's failures on the part of the West. Yet the author refuses to acknowledge any of the successes in Iraq; the claim is made in the opening paragraph that things continue to get worse in Iraq when, in fact, they are getting much better than they were a year or two ago.

Read the piece with the general. It is much more optimistic that our nuanced class in Europe -- a continent slowly being changed by the influx of radical Islamic thought and practice -- will ever admit.


Sarkozy Suspends Syrian Relations; US Congressmen Meet With Thug

Nicolas Sarkozy obviously sees the threat that Syria is, and has severed ties to Damascus:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday that his country will hold no more discussions with Syria until Damascus shows its willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president.

Lebanon's Western-backed government and pro-Syrian opposition have been unable to overcome their disagreements to follow through with the election, and many Western countries have accused Damascus of interfering in the process - a claim Syria denies.

"I will not have any more contact with the Syrians until... we have received proof of Syria's intention to let Lebanon designate a president of consensus," said Sarkozy at a press conference in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

President Sarkozy seems to understand the continued interference that Syria has in Lebanese matters. In addition to supplying Hezbollah in southern Lebanon (allowing Hezbollah to not only continue its stranglehold in the south, but to also continue attacking Israel), and including the several high-profile assassinations of ministers and government officials that are anti-Syria, Assad has shown that he could really care less what the world thinks. We know he clearly does not care about Lebanon; a nation which demanded independence from Syria during the now-famous "Cedar Revolution" in February of 2005.

It is pleasing to see that President Sarkozy will not tolerate Syria's continuous interference in Lebanese affairs. If only the United Nations were as competent to understand that if nothing is done to Syria, be it sanctions or tougher measures, they will continue to act as Iran is with regard to Iraq towards Lebanon.

Of course this is lost on our Congress over here. As Captain Ed observes our people in Congress seem willing to cuddle up to just about any dictator. After Nancy Pelosi's escapades in Damascus earlier this year, Arlen Specter and Patrick Kennedy decided to have a sit down with Assad. After all, they were supposed to meet with Benazir Bhutto on the day she was assassinated, but I guess they did not wish to waste the whole trip, and swung by Syria:

A pair of U.S. lawmakers visited the Syrian capital on Sunday in an attempt to persuade the Arab state to make peace with Israel and woo it from the Iranian sphere of influence.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) visited Syria after a trip to neighboring Israel, which gave its blessing to the lawmakers' mediation effort. Israel and Syria have been in a state of war for decades despite occasional diplomatic forays between the two nations.

Israel hopes to draw the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad out of its alliances with Iran, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah and the militant Palestinian group Hamas, all of which oppose the Jewish state.Specter said he hoped U.S. intervention would revive a dormant dialogue between Syria and Israel.

"The time is right now, and prospects are very good," Specter told reporters Sunday on his 16th visit to Syria since 1984. "The parties will continue talks through intermediaries, and it's my hope and expectation at some point, if preliminary progress has been made, the U.S. government would be ready too.

"Still, Syrian officials voiced doubt that much would come out of the mediation effort as long as there is no movement on the issue of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War.

The time is right? That is rich, and it speaks volumes to the intelligence of Arlen Specter. We have had enough of this RINO and his pandering ways. Sen. Specter believes that the time is right to negotiate with a terrorist-supporting nation. Syria still has clear-cut ties to Hezbollah which continues to fire rockets into Israel to this day, despite the cease-fire, and despite the UN peacekeepers sent into southern Lebanon to prevent such attacks from continuing. We see how great of a job the peacekeepers have done. We also see that neither senator wants to hold Syria accountable.

They want Israel to make peace with Syria. Syria wants the Golan Heights back. Israel ought to up the stakes and tell Assad that as long as rockets continue to fall on Israeli cities from the guerrillas that he backs, there will be no peace. And instead of flying to the thug's country to offer concessions, maybe Specter and Kennedy should have informed Assad that we were cutting off foreign aid to him. But we know that would never fly. Both men enjoy pandering to evil people far too much. They have been on the side of negotiating with Iran in Iraq. Congressmen, ladies and gentlemen, seem completely incapable of recognizing evil for what it is.

We both agree that the president should inform those in Congress that meeting directly with other heads of state and negotiating without permission on behalf of the United States is a violation of the Logan Act. As it should have been done with Nancy Pelosi returned home, were I president, both of these men would be arrested at the airport, and face being charged under the act that strictly forbids anyone from negotiating with a foreign power without express permission from the executive.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

A voice from the grave? Osama issues new tape, people yawn in response

This isn't exactly newsworthy to note as it's an audio recording again, not a video showing him alive, but what's striking is what's stated by the guy I believe is pushing up poppies in Tora Bora:

Osama bin Laden warned Iraq's Sunni Arabs against fighting al-Qaida and vowed to expand the terror group's holy war to Israel in a new audiotape Saturday, threatening "blood for blood, destruction for destruction."

Most of the 56-minute tape dealt with Iraq, apparently al-Qaida's latest attempt to keep supporters in Iraq unified at a time when the U.S. military claims to have al-Qaida's Iraq branch on the run.

The tape did not mention Pakistan or the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, though Pakistan's government has blamed al-Qaida and the Taliban for her death on Thursday. That suggested the tape was made before the assassination.

Bin Laden's comments offered an unusually direct attack on Israel, stepping up al-Qaida's attempts to use the Israeli-Arab conflict to rally supporters. Israel has warned of growing al-Qaida activity in Palestinian territory, though terror network is not believed to have taken a strong role there so far.

"We intend to liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the sea," he said, threatening "blood for blood, destruction for destruction."

And how is he going to pull this off? I only ask because of the Iraqi Interior Ministry's announcement regarding al Qaeda's situation in Iraq:

Iraq's interior ministry spokesman said Saturday that 75 percent of Al Qaeda in Iraq's terrorist network had been destroyed this year, but the top American commander in the country said the terror group remained his chief concern.

Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf said the disruption of the terrorist network was due to improvements in the Iraqi security forces — which he said had made strides in weeding out commanders and officers with ties to militias or who were involved in criminal activities.

He also credited the rise of anti-Al Qaeda in Iraq groups, mostly made up of Sunni fighters the Shiite-dominated government has cautiously begun to embrace. Additionally, an increase in American troops since June has been credited with pushing many militants out of Baghdad.

Khalaf's assertion that three-fourths of al-Qaida in Iraq had been destroyed could not be independently verified and he did not elaborate on how the percentage was determined.

But violence in Iraq has dropped significantly since June — the U.S. military says it is down 60 percent nationwide — demonstrating success in fighting the terrorist network.

"Their activity is now limited to certain places north of Baghdad," Khalaf said at a news conference. "We're working on pursuing those groups, that is the coming fight."

So, Osama warns Sunnis not to oppose AQ, and "orders" them to give up on a unity government on the same day that the Iraqi government announces that the fight taken to AQ has been devastating for the terrorist group. I don't know about you folks but it seems like Osama and AQ are sounding increasingly desperate. Yes, they may have succeeded in killing Benazir Bhutto (a point which has yet to be fully corroborated), but that wasn't the end of the line. The news today is that the Bhutto dynasty will live on in her husband and her son:

Pakistan's largest political party on Sunday chose to continue its dynastic traditions, anointing 19-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as his mother's ultimate successor but picking husband Asif Zardari to lead in the short-term following Benazir Bhutto's assassination on Thursday.

The selections mean that the Pakistan People's Party, which casts itself as the voice of democracy in Pakistan, will stay in family hands for a third generation.
Asif Zardari quickly announced that the party will compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections, although he suggested that another party leader would probably be the candidate for prime minister. ...

Bhutto's son and husband spoke to reporters from the family's ancestral home following a closed meeting of party leaders. Bilawal Zardari, who had largely been shielded from the spotlight by his mother and has not lived in Pakistan since he was a young boy, will lead the party when he finishes his studies at Oxford.

Asif Zardari will run the party in the interim. He said Sunday that the selections reflected the wishes of his wife, a former two-term prime minister who died in a gun-and-bomb attack at a rally Thursday afternoon. Her death sparked protests that disrupted the election campaign and have brought life in large parts of Pakistan to a standstill.

So, AQ claims they can do whatever they want, including jumping into the Arab/Israeli conflict, and still maintains that it's a force to be reckoned with in Iraq. Iraqi officials claim that despite the AQ presence in Iraq that Osama's boast is bunk. And despite their reported hand in the Bhutto assassination, her husband and son will continue her work.

You know, this is awfully reminiscent of AQ's birth, and the ineptitude which they carried out their first operations. It's obvious that, yes, they're still a threat to the West, but their desperation is starting to show. Propaganda aside, the tale of the tape shows that AQ is severely weakened in Iraq, and as long as the surge efforts and the anti-al Qaeda element survives, AQ is pretty much done for there.

Publius II

Friday, December 28, 2007

Huckabee "Hucks" Up Again

Another costly misstep in a campaign that can ill afford such stupidity. That is what this mistake should be filed under, and I use the word "mistake" lightly as it looks more like a lie than a mistake. Mike Huckabee claimed that Frank Gaffney, of the Center for Security Policy, was one of his foreign policy advisers. Mr. Gaffney responded to the assertion and slammed the door on Mike Huckabee:

HH: Now I’ve got to switch over. Since you’re one of the unofficial advisors to Mike Huckabee, I want to play for you a little Huckabee quote from, concerning Iran. Cut number five. He made this in a speech earlier this year.

MH: We haven’t had diplomatic relationships with Iran in almost thirty years, most of my entire adult life. And a lot of good it’s done. Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent or a sibling, or even a friend, it’s impossible to resolve the difference to move that relationship forward. Well, the same is true for countries.

HH: What do you think, Frank Gaffney?

FG: Well, for the purposes of setting the record straight, Hugh, I want you and your audience to recall that the other guy he mentioned in this New York Times Sunday Magazine interview as advising him was Tom Friedman of the New York Times. And that sounds a lot more like Tom’s advice than my advice. I think that’s cockamamie, and in fact, I had an hour and a half, I think, conversation with Governor Huckabee a couple of months ago over breakfast, and this was one of the main points on which I tried to educate him, that this is not a sibling that you just aren’t having a good time with. This is a country run by megalomaniacs bent on an apocalyptic outcome, who believe that bringing about a world without America is their god-given obligation. And you know, just talking with them, you know, can’t we all get along, Rodney King style, is not a prescription for a serious foreign policy, I’m afraid.

In other words, Mike Huckabee clearly did not listen to what Mr. Gaffney had to say. The evidence is there in Mike Huckabee's speech to the CSIS. He does not seem to get the clue about Iran, and furthermore the closest that Mr. Gaffney has come to being an "advisor" to Mike Huckabee is a short meeting. That does not bode well for his boast that Mr. Gaffney is on his foreign policy team. Unfortunately for Mike Huckabee, it does not end there. He has made a further assertion that John Bolton is one of his foreign policy advisors. Ambassador Bolten responded accordingly and set the record straight:

While the missteps are his, a tough foreign policy critique has often been lobbed against governors, or past governors, running for president — Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, among them. But what Reagan, Clinton and Bush had — and what Huckabee seems to sorely lack in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination — was a roster of respected foreign policy advisers to reassure voters on national security issues.

On Friday morning, Huckabee listed former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as someone with whom he either has “spoken or will continue to speak.”

At a Thursday evening news conference, Huckabee said, "I've corresponded with John Bolton, who's agreed to work with us on developing foreign policy.”

Bolton, however, has a different view. “I’d be happy to speak with Huckabee, but I haven’t spoken with him yet,” said Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington.

“I’m not an official or unofficial adviser to anyone,” said Bolton, who mentioned he’d had conversations with other Republican candidates but declined to name any names.

Oops. We would like to chalk this up as a simple mistake, like Mike Huckabee's inability to locate where Afghanistan is in relation to Pakistan (simple mistake; anyone could have made it) but this goes a bit deeper. He is claiming that certain people are on "his team" that are not officially or unofficially a part of any team. These are blatant lies; pandering to conservatives int he hope that they will overlook his social issues (the ones he has been hammered on for over two weeks) and he is trying to bolster his foreign policy credentials. CNN picked up this tidbit from a senior member of Mike Huckabee's team, and admitted that he had "no foreign policy credentials" and that when he speaks about Benazir Bhutto "he can't boast about knowing" her.

As far as Thomas and I are concerned, Mike Huckabee is now damaged goods, and anyone supporting him has far more to explain about him, his stances, and his positions on issues than they can truly defend. There is no defense for lying or even embellishing one's record. Mike Huckabee should do the honorable thing and bow out of this race before he takes any more beatings at the hands of conservative pundits.


ADDENDUM: This is just my two cents here, but this was bad for the Huckster. This is his most recent forced error in the last couple of weeks, and it couldn't have come at a worse time for him. Why do I call it a forced error? Because an unforced error is where a point is scored on a mistake by one player that was not the result of a shot by his opponent. In this case, those chasing the Huckster have made it a point of lauding their foreign policy ideas and credentials.

He knows he's in the lead, and he knows that he has to answer the challenge. Rather than refusing to answer these questions now by saying he'll reveal his ideas and advisers at a later date, and assuring voters that he can handle tough foreign policy decisions, he has embellished his stature.

-- The CSIS speech where he was roundly criticized for certain statements he made with regard to foreign nations that we are currently trying to deal with.

-- Announcing that he regularly speaks with Frank Gaffney.

-- Mistaking the precise location of Afghanistan.

-- "Apologizing" for the Bhutto assassination, and speaking about her as though he'd met her.

-- Announcing that John Bolton is a part of his foreign policy team.

This wasn't a planned thing for his campaign. He lacked what he needed and tried to cover it up by making exaggerated answers to questions he couldn't really comprehend. Why? Because he hasn't thought about them. Anyone who watches foreign policy, anyone who sits down and "wargames" scenarios across the globe, anyone who even thinks about "what if" situations involving us and other countries can say they've at least thought about foreign policy. The Huckster clearly hasn't thought much about these things. I think it goes back to his comments regarding Cuba, and has moved forward to this point.

He's naked; exposed to the nation for the poseur he is. this should be the final nail in his campaign. If it's not, and Iowans decide he's the right guy for them, we can only hope that his Iowa victory is a flash-in-the-pan, and other, more sensible heads will prevail.

Publius II

Thursday, December 27, 2007

No More Questions

Hillary Clinton has decided that she does not want to take any further questions at campaign stops in Iowa. This does not bode well for her, or her appalling poll numbers. Seen as arrogant, secretive, and impertinent at times, her refusal to answer questions is not sitting well with voters:

As she races through Iowa in the days before next week's caucuses, Hillary Clinton is taking few chances. She tells crowds that it’s their turn to “pick a president,’’ but over the last two days she has not invited them to ask her any questions.

Before the brief Christmas break, the New York senator had been setting aside time after campaign speeches to hear from the audience. Now when she’s done speaking, her theme songs blare from loudspeakers, preventing any kind of public Q&A.

She was no more inviting when a television reporter approached her after a rally on Thursday and asked if she was “moved’’ by Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Clinton turned away without answering.

Her daughter, Chelsea, had the same reaction when a reporter approached her with a question.

Hillary Clinton’s no-question policy didn’t sit well with some of the Iowans who came to see her speak.

“I was a little bit underwhelmed,’’ said Doug Rohde, 46, as he left her a rally in a fire station in Denison. “The message was very generic -- and no questions.’’

Clinton campaign officials said that she may take questions in the coming days. But her focus is on seeing as many voters as possible before the caucuses next Thursday -- and spotlighting the messages she wants to deliver.

Spokespeople for her two main rivals in the Hawkeye State -– John Edwards and Barack Obama -– said the candidates would continue fielding questions as they troll for support.

With Edwards and Obama nipping at her heels this was the wrong time for her to play the "shut up" game. She needs to be open and honest with Iowa voters, and they do tend to get turned off by this sort of strategy. Truth be told, she is literally cutting off her nose to spite her face. And in our honest opinion this strategy seems to stem from the gaffes she has made, and the scrutiny the press is now placing on her.

The arrogance that I noted above comes in her general attitude. Since the primary campaigns began, she has acted as though she is owed the nomination.

Arrogance does not become candidates. No one on the GOP side seems to think they "deserve" the nomination (with the possible exception of John McCain). But the way Senator Clinton is acting, the haughtiness is clearly showing through, and her veiled conceit and distrust of the voters will eventually lead to her undoing in the primary states should she continue with this strategy.


Roger Simon Gets It Wrong Again

Last week it was the skewed story on Fred Thompson. this week it is a story about John McCain in the wake of the Benazir Bhutto assassination. He was wrong then and Mr. Simon is wrong now:

Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated in Pakistan and the political conversation in America had changed. ...

Some were thinking about who might be the best leader in an international crisis, and John McCain says he can fill that bill.

“My theme has been throughout this campaign that I am the one with the experience, the knowledge and the judgment,” McCain told reporters after a speech to an overflow crowd at an Elks Lodge here. “So, perhaps it (i.e., the turmoil caused by the assassination) may serve to enhance those credentials.”

It doesn’t matter to McCain that 99 percent of Americans probably could not find Pakistan on a map. What matters is that most Americans can understand what it would mean if the wrong people in Pakistan were suddenly in charge of that country’s nuclear weapons. So will McCain get a boost from the assassination of Bhutto?

“What the assassination does is focus people on international issues,” David Roederer, McCain’s Iowa chairman, told me. “Having foreign policy experience, I think, becomes more paramount in people’s minds.” ...

“My experience and background for 24 years in Congress and 22 years in the Navy qualifies me more than having done a fine job in a post-crisis situation,” McCain told me in a phone interview Thursday night.

McCain said he liked Giuliani and respected him, but that Giuliani’s “post-crisis” experience in dealing with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York really did not equal McCain’s knowledge and experience. Giuliani’s experience has “very little to do with national security issues,” McCain said after the rally in Urbandale.

“As far as I know, Mayor Giuliani has never been to Iraq,” McCain added.

It does not matter of Mayor Giuliani has been to Iraq or not. But for Mr. Simon to focus on John McCain and paint a picture of a man with foreign policy experience when the person virtually has none is just slightly disingenuous.

Yes, John McCain served this nation. He is a good American. But twenty-two years in Congress does not make you a foreign policy expert, nor do you have the opportunity to engage in foreign policy matters the way a president does. A president sees foreign policy briefs daily, and has to make decisions based on those and the advice of his inner circle.

When was the last time John McCain made a foreign policy decision. Oh, yes. He has not because those in Congress do not make those decisions.

When we choose our president it should be based on their overall experience. I can assure readers that we will not be choosing someone who has been riding a desk in Congress. It will be someone with extensive executive experience, and that is something John McCain simply does not have.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Benazir Bhutto assassinated

Just a couple short weeks before Pakistan was to hold elections -- elections that would have likely catapulted her back into power as Prime Minister, a lone gunman/suicide bomber ended those hopes:

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has been shot dead at an election rally - sparking riots across the country.

The gunman then detonated a bomb, killing at least 15 of her supporters in Rawalpindi. Many more were injured in the suicide blast.

At least four people have been shot dead in rioting as fears grow the nuclear-armed country will be plunged into civil war.

In Karachi, capital of Ms Bhutto's native Sindh province, thousands took to the streets, torching dozens of vehicles and buildings.

"There is trouble almost everywhere," a senior police official said.

The killing came less than two weeks before elections many expected would return Ms Bhutto to power and restore democracy.

Nawaz Sharif, the leader of a rival opposition party, vowed revenge and said his party would boycott the January 8 poll.

He told crowds: "Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with you to take the revenge for her death. Don't feel alone. I am with you. We will take the revenge on the rulers."

Leaders around the world condemned the assassination as Pakistan announced three days of mourning.

In an emergency session, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to track down those behind the "reprehensible act".

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "She has been assassinated by cowards afraid of democracy. This attack strengthens our resolve that terrorists will not win."

US President George Bush said those responsible for the killing must be brought to justice.

He added: "The US strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy."

It is not known who killed the 54-year-old, and no group has so far claimed responsibility.

Ms Bhutto was shot in the chest and neck as she got into her car after her speech to thousands in Rawalpindi.

The former PM was unconscious as she was taken to Rawalpindi General Hospital and died soon after. Her body is being taken to her home town in Larkana.

"She has been martyred," said Rehman Malik, a spokesman for her party.

May she rest in peace. Peace, however, won't be what Pakistan gets, as we can see from the reaction to the attack and her death. "Martyr" is being used often to describe her, and this could very well spark a civil war. It could also force the populace to light a fire under Musharraf's butt to go after these animals. Will he? Maybe, but it would look more like lip service than seriousness. If he wishes to stay in power he'd better be deadly serious about hunting down those that planned and executed this attack.

Publius II

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

From both of us, to all of you ...

Merry Christmas. May all of your dreams come true this holiday season.

May you all share the happiness and joy with family and friends.

Thomas & Marcie

Friday, December 21, 2007

Roger Simon Exposes His Bias

On Thursday Thomas posted a piece covering the Politico's Roger Simon in Iowa at a Fred Thompson stop. The piece painted a very unflattering picture of Fred; one in which he seemed to be pretty much a bored fuddy-duddy on the stump. It has now been learned that this meeting at a firehouse did not go the way Mr. Simon claimed it did. While Thomas and I are, indeed, disappointed with the seemingly lackluster enthusiasm of Fred Thompson, a correction int he record is owed to our readers, and it is also owed to readers of The Politico. Hopefully, Mr. Simon answers this return volley to his side of the court:

In this long election cycle, we may be learning as much about media bias as about the candidates. PJM’s Bob Owens has more on the questionable characterization of Fred Thompson by The Politico’s Roger Simon.

Fire Chief Dan McKenzie cast more doubts on The Politico’s chief political correspondent Roger Simon’s version of events at McKenzie’s Waverly, Iowa fire station in Simon’s article “Fred Thompson: Lazy as charged.” Questions had been raised about Simon’s article based on a video of Thompson’s appearance, which seemed to show the candidate behaving in a radically different manner from the one described by The Politico correspondent. In interviews with Pajamas Media, Chief McKenzie similarly refuted Simon’s characterization of Thompson as “lazy” or “sour” at the event and the editor of the Waverly Democrat refused to confirm the accuracy of comments attributed to her in Simon’s article.

McKenzie was unaware of the Simon article until Friday afternoon. The Iowa fire chief was read the following paragraphs and asked for comment.

…Thompson rode four blocks to the local fire station. Local fire stations always have captive audiences (unless there is a fire).

Inside, Thompson shook a few hands — there were only about 15 people there — and then Chief Dan McKenzie handed Thompson the chief’s fire hat so Thompson could put it on.

Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.

“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.

In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.

To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.

“You look cute,” Thompson said to her. She did.

Unlike Simon’s characterization of a “sour” Thompson, McKenzie recalled that the firefighters were joking with the Thompsons during the visit, which corroborates the
CBS News video that captured part of the event. He stated further than any attempt to portray the event as Simon described was the work of “someone who had their own agenda.”

Unprompted, McKenzie stated that he was well aware of the dangers of politicians wearing hats, and he and his fellow firefighters understood why Thompson declined to wear the helmet. He also stated that he understood that someone might want to make an issue of Thompson wearing his helmet, and that it seemed that when Thompson declined, “someone decided to make an issue out of it anyway.”

Chief McKenzie concluded that the Waverly firemen was very appreciative of Thompson’s visit, as they would be of any
presidential candidate that took the time to stop by.

If you follow the link above to the CBS video, you will see that the fire chief is correct, and Mr. Simon has some explaining to do. He might like to start with how he got the scene at the fire station as wrong as he did. The CBS video shows Fred Thompson laughing and joking with the volunteer firemen. It is hardly the "lazy" or "sour" picture that Mr. Simon presented to readers, and his piece has unveiled a bias still prevalent in media.

As I said, we will admit that we are disappointed in Fred Thompson's performance thus far, but we will not be a party to a hatchet job piece. The report is faulty on it's face because Mr. Simon did not get the story right to begin with. Also, further refutation of Mr. Simon lies in this transcript of the meeting at the newspaper that Mr. Simon was not allowed to attend Ms. Dimitrova said the meeting was “was so vague that I would be hard-pressed to write a story." Except if you read the transcript, there was nothing severely vague about the discussion. He answered Ms. Dimitrova's questions as best he could. It was the typical stump-speech stuff candidates give out.

Mr. Simon owes his readers an apology, and an explanation. do not hold your breath waiting for either.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Geraghty on the "conservative crack-up"

We saw this coming, but we find it irritating to be honest. I'll cite the Geraghty post, and then I'll explain our thinking:

One of my readers suggested that, no matter who the Republican nominee is, the 2008 GOP primary will be marked by a tear between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. Social conservatives have looked at Rudy Giuliani leading the national polls for much of the year, and asked in disbelief to their coalition partners, ‘how can you support that guy?’ Now fiscal conservatives, and perhaps hawks, are looking at Huckabee and asking the same question to social conservatives.

This reader contended that even if some consensus nominee wins, both factions will look at the other with greater suspicion. "Yeah, we've been through a lot of fights together since the 1970s, but how can I trust them as allies when they were eager to give the nomination to that guy?"

The reaction to the criticism of Huckabee from both the Corner and corners of the righty blogosphere has revealed a few surprising dynamics.

Identity politics have now taken root in the Republican coalition. Apparently, some evangelicals
believe that the opposition to Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales was based on opposition to their evangelical faith, not any policy decision, misstep, or lack of qualifications on their part. Apparently NRO can be deemed anti-evangelical, or perhaps we have insufficient number of evangelicals on staff. It’s not too dissimilar from the earlier critique, ‘you’re not an evangelical, you wouldn’t understand.’ Criticism of an evangelical from a non-evangelical source is deemed ipso-facto evidence of deep-rooted, long-hidden anti-evangelical bigotry.

We may see this from different factions, but I have yet to see, "You're not a war on terror hawk, you can't understand."

Everybody’s a victim: Apparently some social conservatives believe that they’ve gotten a raw deal from the Republican Party in recent years. This is baffling to me, as the list of efforts by the GOP on behalf of social conservatives in just the Bush years includes the Terry Schiavo intervention, Alito, Scalia, faith-based initiatives, the partial-birth abortion ban, reinstating the Mexico City Policy, introduction of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, along with various state initiatives… What has the GOP not achieved on behalf of these voters that they legitimately could have, given the political reality of the Senate Democrats’ filibuster?

And yet we hear, ‘the party takes us social conservatives for granted, the elites expect us to keep our heads down and vote for whoever they tell us,’ etc. Or a

“Nobody at the elite level seems to expect the economic conservatives to suck it up for the sake of party unity. What does that say about the place of social conservatives in the party all these years?”

Really? We're supposed to interpret this as a sign that they’ve been taken for granted? The fiscal conservatives feel like they’ve been betrayed as government has grown larger during Bush’s administration and the explosion of pork. The hawks feel like the Bush administration turned into David Gergen in the second term – safe, consensus-driven, conciliatory, multilateral, slow-moving, boring. Can the social conservatives really make the case that they’ve gotten the short end of the stick?

But every faction always claims they're being ignored or insufficiently catered to by the party leadership. Has anybody ever said, "the Republican Party has been way too dedicated to the causes of my faction, and has really risked its general election appeal by adhering to my faction's principles and demands"?
Everybody's always convinced that they're the real majority of the party, and that their issues have gotten short shrift.

No one wants half a loaf, or even three quarters. In 2000, there were folks whose initial choice was John McCain, or Elizabeth Dole, or John Kasich, or Gary Bauer, or Alan Keyes, or Orrin Hatch. But in the end, Bush beat them, one by one, and everybody who initially backed one of those other candidates had to decide whether Bush was acceptable. Most of them did.

This is a party primary. Life isn't fair, and your guy doesn't always win. This is the way it's always been in politics.Your guy may win, or he may not. Of all the competitors, only one is walking away a winner; one may walk away with the consolation gift of the running mate position.

Earlier this year we had third-party talk if Giuliani was the nominee, and now we're hearing murmured threats of departing the party if Huckabee's opponents don't "preserve both his dignity and those of the people for whom he speaks so eloquently" from
Lee Harris. I have a feeling that every faction is so tired of hearing "my way or the highway" from everyone else that there will be many temper-flaring responses of "don't let the door hit you on the way out."

I have opined about this problem within the base for some time, and frankly both of us are right there with Mr. Geraghty. We're sick of the "my way or the highway" snarkiness from the social conservatives who believe that they, and they alone, hold all the answers and all the keys to the presidency. Really, social conservatives may have some idea about politics, but they really do think too much with their emotions, and not enough with logic.

Anyone know why 2008 is so damned important? The social conservatives we speak with acknowledge the war with a wave of their hand and a "but" at the end of their statement. In other words, they really don't have national security high on their priority list. They have the social issues up there, and Mr. Geraghty is right when he states that they are whining that they get shafted. Not true at all. We only need to look at President Bush's years in office to date to see that he has tried to cater to the social conservatives, and at times it's been to the detriment of the nation. (All we need for proof is the exorbitant spending that he has signed off on.)

We're not saying that we should ignore them. Hardly. We all need to stand together, accepting the nominee chosen, or we're in trouble. We can't afford to see a Democrat in the White House. Look at what these people are promising for America -- universal health care, more money thrown down the bottomless rat hole of the NEA, an increase in taxes, and a retreat from the war in general. This is what the Democrats plan and promise for America.

Now we have tried our best to work on the race from a strategy point of view; that being, who is and isn't going to have what it takes to win. Marcie and I agree that there are a possibility of four people who could win -- Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain. The primary reason for these people is the fact that they have the money, they have the support, and their right on the single most important issue in this election. That would be the war, and the fact that they have promised to remain on the offensive. Social conservatives, especially evangelicals, miss this issue because they don't think it's all that important. We'll agree that some of their issues are important to the nation and the base, but if we don't stay on offense and finish off our enemies, the social conservative agenda won't ever be fulfilled. We'll have bigger problems on our hands.

If they want to walk away in a snit, like a Democrat throwing a temper-tantrum because they didn't get their way, fine. But don't toss around threats to the base. We don't take kindly to such idle idiocy. And if they do come back later, they may find themselves on the receiving end of a very frosty reception, and they may find themselves frozen out of important issues or events.

Publius II

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rudy -- I'll talk with Iran

This comes from CNN:

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani Wednesday said he would be open to diplomatic talks with Iran, but only if certain pre conditions were established.

"I would want to make sure there was a chance it would work,” Giuliani said while speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer in Columbia, Missouri. “I would want to make sure there would be an opportunity to verify whatever it is we were going to do.”

"I worked for Ronald Reagan. I believe in 'trust but verify,'” he said.

The former New York City mayor said he would meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — but only if pre-conditions where established. He noted that President Reagan had met with America's adversaries.

"He spoke to the Russians, Soviets, the Chinese.” Giuliani said. “Even at the highest level of the Cold War, there were discussions — but not without preconditions.”

Giuliani said that even if he did enter into talks with Iran, the option of an American invasion to topple the current Islamic government would not necessarily be off the table.

"Some have said they would take regime change off the table, or they seem to be less firm about the military option. You start taking these things off the table, there's no negotiation, there's no pressure, no leverage. You have to have leverage,” Giuliani said.

Why post this? To get it out there before the pundits start ripping it to shreds. He didn't pull an Obama. He's right. Reagan did the exact same thing, but the difference was that the Soviets and Chinese were open to negotiation. But given this statement from Rudy, I'd say that he will only be so patient with direct negotiations with Iran. Additionally, I'm sure that one of those pre-conditions would be an end to their enrichment program. That is the largest point of contention right now because a good majority of people still don't buy the NIE and it's assessment that their program has been ended.

Publius II

Did Hillary stop by a "garden party?"

Yep, that song did jump into my head when I saw this story on the LA Times blog this afternoon:

An amazing coincidence today on the campaign trail in Iowa with Hillary Clinton.

The New York senator was in Donnellson, Iowa continuing a broad statewide tour by herself, her husband, Magic Johnson and relatives and friends who've spread out to all 99 crucial counties to tell
stories about her to soften and help personalize the Democratic candidate's calculating image in what's become a very tight caucus race.

According to
the Associated Press, at a campaign forum in the fire station, which will be a caucus site come Jan. 3, Clinton happened to be asked about her religious faith. Practicing Methodist, she responded, adding, "I'm often asked if I'm a praying person and I am a praying person. My father prayed at his bedside every night and we prayed at the table over dinner."

Then, the most incredible thing happened. Someone pointed out that Clinton's childhood Sunday school teacher, Rosalie Bentzinger, from her Park Ridge, Ill. days happened to be right there in the very same Iowa fire station at that same moment. What are the odds? The Sunday school teacher stood up. Clinton rushed over to hug her. It was a warm moment.

The 84-year-old Bentzinger gave Clinton a photograph she happened to have with her. And Clinton announced, "She has a picture of my confirmation class -- March 27, 1959."

Last month, some folks may recall, Clinton was forced to admit
planting questions in a similar forum audience in Newton after a student revealed a Clinton campaign staffer had handed her a question on global warming to ask. Clinton denied this was a regular practice and vowed it wouldn't happen again.

Today, Clinton aides said they were unaware the Sunday school teacher was in the crowd. Still, the incident happened to make a warm story to help personalize the candidate.

OK, maybe that was a coincidence. Maybe her old Sunday School teacher did retire to Iowa, or maybe she's been so thrilled that Hillary's running for president that she decided to head out to Iowa to show her support. But this does raise eyebrows, as it should. She doesn't just have one or two incidents of planting operatives and questions. More than a couple have been found, and initially, she denied the charge claiming "it's news to me." She admitted it just a short while later.

So yeah, I think it's OK to speculate on this one. It could have been a harmless coincidence, but can anyone tell me that a politician like her, hungry for the presidency, wouldn't go back to what she thought might help her? If she did plant her Sunday school teacher there (or informally asked her to be present), then it won't look good, and it's not going to help her at all in this Extreme Makeover tour.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: What the Hell, I'll add this too. Bryan's got the new Hillary campaign ad -- the "holiday" one over at Hot Air. All I can say is that this is extremely telling of the woman who would be president, including the non-geniune happiness and enthusiasm from somebody that is so fake to begin with. She reminds me of the stereotypical relative that chisels on a smile for the holidays because it's expected, not because they're happy to see family and friends. Bryan adds this critique of the ad:

My jaw dropped when I watched this one the first time. Hillary’s Christmas ad says nothing at all about Christmas. The gifts make the connection, of course, but check out what the gifts are: universal health care, bring the troops home, etc. All of the gifts are funded in one way or another with your money. And she’s portraying herself as a thoughtful gift-giver by taking your money and giving it back to you in the form of expensive government programs, some or all of which you might not actually want or need. If that doesn’t typify liberal thinking, I don’t know what does.

If these are her gifts to us, then I want receipts so I can exchange the damn things for sensible things, like our money back. We aren't going to sign on to any of this crap. Trust me, go watch the ad. Don't worry. She doesn't cackle. She says ONE thing only.

Publius II

Richelieu: "My gut tells me the Huckabee surge is fading"

This would be a serious boon to Romney, and possibly even Fred Thompson. Richelieu @ The Weekly Standard's Campaign Standard blog writes the following observations from Iowa:

The Edwards campaign is trying hard to generate a sense of momentum in Iowa. I recognize a few trusty old dodges, mirrors, and other tricks from the spinmeister's toolbag in their spiel; they are pulling record (even Goldwater-esque) crowds, internal metrics like web visits, sign-ups, bumpersticker hand-outs, and my favorite of all "volunteer calling" all show growing support, etc., etc. (The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder falls hook, line, and sinker for it here.)

I'm more doubtful. It reminds me of Howard Dean's 41,000 committed and identified supporters on the eve of the last Iowa caucus. Still, an Edwards surprise win in Iowa is not impossible. Polls show him
in the hunt, and he did well there in the past. He is a good campaigner. Hillary is on the rocks. But it is easy to mistake the final enthusiasm of your supporters, especially if they suspect the end is nigh, for a surge. We'll see what the world looks like right after Christmas.

Meanwhile, my gut tells me the Huckabee surge is fading now in Iowa. It might not be so bad for Romney after all. A narrow loss will look like a comeback after the original Huckabee polling leap knocked Romney's out-of-control expectations back down to earth. Plus, my Iowans tell me the new Romney comparison spots are starting to have an effect.

We can understand Edwards game of dirty pool. He is lagging behind the frontrunners -- three points behind a badly-damaged Hillary Clinton, and seven points behind a surging Barack Obama. Senator Clinton is attempting to regain ground she believes she should not have lost to Senator Obama by trying the "makeover" strategy; one that will not be as effective as she needs it to be. For John Edwards to have a shot, he needs to do whatever he can to surge up and over her. This will not only help his standing int he eyes of the Democrat base, but also kick Hillary while she is down.

The real news though is the end of the Huckabee surge. If Iowans are starting to get the information that the alternative media has been working hard getting out for voters to see, then yes his surge is done. This is evident because the alternative media -- blogs, vlogs, pundits, and talk radio -- is not giving up. It is not that we dislike Mike Huckabee. To accuse us of that would be to lie in our faces about what we know is not true.

These are the primaries. This is where we choose our nominee. We want the best nominee possible going up against theirs, and that will likely be Hillary despite how badly she has stumbled over these last few weeks.

Seriously thinking about it, they will not nominate Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel, or Dennis Kucinich. None of them have the clout or the money to sway enough voters. Bill Richardson still sits on the wrong side of a very contentious issue. This leaves us with either Barack Obama, John Edwards, or Hillary Clinton; none of them our favorites due to what we see as an unelectability factor.

In our humble opinion, Mike Huckabee would be an albatross around the GOP's neck come the general election. His plans, while just slightly more conservative than the Democrat's, would still be bad for this nation. His primary weakness -- the one we simply cannot forgive him for -- are his views on United States foreign policy. We believe, as we did when we read his foreign affairs speech this past weekend, that he suffers from a naivete that only someone like Jimmy Carter, or possibly even Woodrow Wilson, suffered from. For most voters, the war -- Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond -- is the single issue that will drive us to the polls. We want to stay strong and effective in this war, and not lax off and allow our enemy time to regroup.

Mike Huckabee is dangerous in his assumption that he can play nice with nations like Iran and domesticate them like a pet. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the sooner he realizes that, the better off he will be. At the very least he would strengthen himself in an area of his political beliefs that we feel is his weakest point.


This is why Fred is doing as badly as he is

I'll be the first one to admit it here, we're not too impressed by the guy who was supposed to be the "the dynamic not seen in years". (Seeing as how that was our column, yes we do have a tad bit of egg on our face.) We were hoping he'd be the guy this year that would simply mud stomp the competition into submission. We had checked over his physical side, and came to conclude his lymphoma wasn't a problem. He sounded like the sort of conservative the base would rally around, and he had a stellar record that was picture-perfect.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the primaries, and as Roger Simon observes today Fred Thompson is definitely giving the voters the idea that he could really care less about the primaries, or even running for president:

When is retail politics not retail politics? When candidates refuse to get off their big buses and go do it.

Fred Thompson rolled into this small town on the Cedar River in north-central Iowa on a giant brown bus Tuesday. He also had a van, an entourage of guys with earpieces and a press aide.

Thompson’s public schedule said: “Fred Thompson Tours Downtown Waverly and Drops by Waverly Democrat.”

It was not a bitterly cold day — temperatures were somewhere in the high 30s — and doing a downtown walk would have been a perfectly normal political event. Such walks are staples of retail politics, the kind of politics conducted in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where people expect to meet the candidates one on one and not just at rallies and speeches.

The Waverly Democrat, a semi-weekly newspaper, is located right on the main street in town, which is called Bremer Avenue. (Waverly is the county seat of Bremer County.) Waverly has a population of about 9,000, and while Bremer Avenue was not exactly thronged this day, people were in the shops, and potential voters were definitely out and about doing shopping or sitting in the diners.

Mark Halperin of Time magazine and I drove up to Waverly to catch the Thompson walkabout, and since we got there early, we popped into the offices of the Waverly Democrat.

Anelia Dimitrova, the executive regional editor, greeted us in warmly and invited us to have a seat, chat and use the bathroom. She offered Mark a high-speed Internet line so he could upload some video to his website and I sat down with her for a brief interview. She said Thompson was the first candidate to come into the paper. The paper does not endorse candidates, and maybe that is why the others have skipped it.

“He’s got a lot of catching up to do,” Dimitrova said. “I think it’s a sign he is behind. I don’t think he necessarily wants to run. Bluntly, I don’t know why he is running.” This is the question that has dogged the Thompson campaign from the beginning. While sometimes he displays bursts of energy at a speech here or there, he is often described as “laconic” on the road.

Thompson, his entourage and his wife, Jeri, arrived at the newspaper and after exchanging a few pleasantries, Thompson headed in to his meeting with Dimitrova in a conference room.

Dimitrova invited Mark and me into the interview with Thompson but the Thompson press aide refused. Dimitrova said she had no problem with us being there, but the press aide refused again.

It was no big deal. We waited for Thompson outside the conference room and after a few minutes he emerged, left the newspaper office and headed straight onto his large, brown bus.

But what happened to the “tour of downtown Waverly” that was on his schedule?

Canceled. Not going to happen. He was not going to walk the streets of Waverly in search of voters. Instead, Thompson rode four blocks to the local fire station. Local fire stations always have captive audiences (unless there is a fire).

Inside, Thompson shook a few hands — there were only about 15 people there — and then Chief Dan McKenzie handed Thompson the chief’s fire hat so Thompson could put it on.

Thompson looked at it with a sour expression on his face.

“I’ve got a silly hat rule,” Thompson said.

In point of fact, the “silly” hat was the one Chief McKenzie wore to fires and I am guessing none of the firefighters in attendance considered it particularly silly, but Thompson was not going to put it on. He just stood there holding it and staring at it.

To save the moment, Jeri Thompson took the hat from her husband’s hands and put it on her head.

“You look cute,” Thompson said to her. She did.

Jeri took off the hat and McKenzie led the Thompsons over to a fire truck. The chief invited Thompson to climb up behind the wheel, but Thompson said, “Naw, this is fine.” And he stood there looking at the fire truck.

Jeri once again saved the moment by engaging the chief in some actual conversation. “How many people do you serve?” she asked. “About 10,000,” Chief McKenzie said.

Thompson walked away from the fire truck, posed for a picture or two and the event was over. He and his entourage got on his bus and roared out of town.

Later, his press aide sent Mark and me an e-mail of explanation, though we had not asked for one. Thompson had skipped going up and down Bremer Avenue after the newspaper meeting because, the press aide explained, “We can’t control where the newspapers are. Had it been a more ‘main-street’ type town, it would have been different.”

But Waverly is a “main-street” type town, and the newspaper office was right there on the main street of town surrounded by businesses.

The press aide also claimed that “ice and snow on the streets presented a safety issue,” but Halperin and I had no problem walking on the mostly well-shoveled avenue, both before Thompson arrived and after he left. (In fact, we went into a local store on Bremer Avenue, where there were a number of shoppers Thompson easily could have greeted.)

Later in the day, I sent an e-mail to Anelia Dimitrova, asking her about the private meeting she had with Thompson at the newspaper office. She e-mailed me back that Thompson “was so vague that I would be hard-pressed to write a story.

Simply put, there is no news peg other than he came to the newsroom with his model wife and a beehive of staffers. When I asked him specifically what he would do as prez for farmers in Bremer County, he resorted to glittering generalities.”

So the sum total of Thompson’s day in Waverly was meeting with a newspaper editor and saying nothing and then meeting about 15 people in a warm firehouse and saying nothing.

When he was supposed to go out and find voters in shops and diners, talk to them and answer their questions, he decided to skip it and get back on his luxury bus instead.

That’s not retail politics. That’s not Iowa. And that’s not laconic. That’s lazy.

I'm sure that more than a few Thompson supporters would disagree. I'm sure that a few of our readers and chat-friends might disagree. But man, when it comes to running for an office, you put aside your "silly" rules, and you have to go out and greet the people you're asking to vote for you. This "aw shucks" down home routine isn't going to fly with the voters. And if he thinks this sort of attitude is going to resonate well with voters in South Carolina, think again.

You got to make it there first, Fred, and he's hoping for at least a third place finish in Iowa. The new RCP numbers show him in third in Iowa, but a distant sixth in New Hampshire, and in third in south Carolina. Anelia Dimitrova was quite blunt about the meeting and the fact that Thompson literally gives those who meet him the impression that he just doesn't want to do this.

If that's the case, then I hope he joins Tancredo in a rumored departure. Clear the field already for those that are serious about this instead of wasting the time and patience of the voters.

Publius II

Stand Up For Free Speech And Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn is a brilliant and influential author and writer. His magnum opus America Alone is timely, succinct, and makes a point that cannot be ignored in this day and age. However, as the Editors @ National Review note Canada's human rights council in Alberta seem to have an axe to grind with him, and it endangers one of the most prized human rights of all -- free speech:

Our readers know Mark Steyn well. His witty and learned commentary appears in every issue of National Review, and in many other English publications across the world. What Steyn’s American readers may not know is that a Muslim advocacy group in his native Canada is doing its best to muzzle him.

On December 4, the Canadian Islamic Congress announced that it had filed a complaint with three of Canada’s “human rights commissions” over an October 2006 article that Steyn had published in Maclean’s, Canada’s leading news weekly. “This article completely misrepresents Canadian Muslims’ values, their community, and their religion,” said Faisal Joseph, an attorney representing the complainants, in a press release. “We feel that it is imperative to challenge Maclean’s biased portrayal of Muslims in order to protect Canadian multiculturalism and tolerance.”

The article in question was adapted from Steyn’s recent book America Alone, which argues that Western society may be irrevocably altered — and not for the better — by unassimilated Muslim immigration. It’s no surprise that this thesis is controversial, probably in part because Steyn makes his points so well. But the real threat to tolerance here is the CIC, which would have the state impose penalties on those whose writings it disagrees with.

In doing so it only provides evidence for Steyn’s thesis. Another group of Canadian Muslims — the Muslim Canadian Congress — has said as much, denouncing the CIC’s complaint for affirming “the stereotype that Muslims have little empathy for vigorous debate and democracy.” But at the moment, the CIC’s push for censorship advances. Of the three human-rights commissions to which it submitted its complaint, two have agreed to hear the case. (The third has yet to decide.)

Since their founding, Canada’s human-rights commissions have done less to protect the rights of minorities than to undermine the liberties of everyone. To get an idea of what they’re like, consider the recent case of Stephen Boissoin.

Boissoin, a Baptist minister, learned that the Alberta Human Rights Commission was funding an initiative that described homosexuality as “normal, necessary, acceptable and productive.” Boissoin objected to this and wanted to make his views known. As he put it to a Canadian Internet publication: “[I] felt that as a taxpayer, and indirect funder of this initiative through my tax dollars, I had a right to communicate my opinion which is reflective of my religious beliefs. In an attempt to do so, I decided to potentially share my opinion at large by submitting letters to the editor in newspapers.”

The publication of one such letter brought a complaint from a “social justice” advocate, and Boissoin was dragged before the very body he had complained about — the Alberta Human Rights Commission. That was 2002. It took five years of anxiety-filled and expensive legal proceedings for the commission to rule against Boissoin. They determined that he had violated Alberta’s laws because there was, as one commission member put it, a “circumstantial connection” between the publication of the letter and an incident of gay-bashing. “Circumstantial connection” is of course another way of saying that Boissoin had nothing to do with it. One wonders in passing whether the same can be said of the Koran, and which side the commission would take if Maclean’s published a few choice Koranic passages on homosexuality.

Even if the human-rights commissions eventually rule for Steyn and Maclean’s, the proceedings will be costly, and will intimidate others who wish to express controversial views. To his great credit, one conservative Canadian cabinet minister, Jason Kenney, has spoken in defense of Steyn. Some of the Canadian press is coming to Steyn’s defense as well. We hope the chorus swells. And we hope Americans raise their voices too.

So far the U.S. media have paid little attention to the case, but it should matter to us. Steyn’s writings — even those in Canadian publications — have a large and influential American readership. We trust those readers prefer that Canada remain free.

This is an outrage, and it illustrates the intolerance of Muslims, and the dhimmitude of the politicos in Canada to kow-tow to them. Hugh Hewitt has called for a boycott of Canada, and we join that, as well. Michelle Malkin weighs in, as does Charles @ Little Green Footballs. While the latter two are not calling for boycotts, they are raising awareness of this. But we do support the boycott. No goods, no entertainment, no nothing from Canada until they drop this feeble-minded charge. Turn the tables on them, and buy some Christmas gifts from the Steyn Store. Mark Steyn is a writer, as much as any of us are or could be. If we stand idly by and allow these intolerant fools to run roughshod over him, who will be next?

Will a member of Parliament be dragged before this farce of a commission? If a visiting dignitary, who might utter something provocative, be brought up on these insidious charges? The freedom to speak one's mind is inherent for every human being, regardless of nationality, race, religion, or sex. It is a fundamental human right that only close-minded autocrats fear. Surely there are those that when they speak, they makes asses out of themselves, but it is their right as much as it is ours to challenge them.

We urge our readers that if you like Mark Steyn as much as we do, and you cherish the right that allows us to speak our minds freely, to do whatever it takes to bring this to the forefront of the media's attention. Maybe, just maybe, if enough attention is brought up about this, these loons up North might just end this dhimmi charade.