October 12, 2012

Joe Biden, Debate Clown

In his debate with Rep. Paul Ryan, Vice President Joe Biden gave one of the most disgraceful performances I have ever seen.

Al Gore was bad in his first debate with George W Bush in 2000, but last night Biden was off-the charts-rude. Barack Obama smirked in his debate with Romney, but Biden was one giant smirk in his debate.

He laughed inappropriately at everything his opponent said. He rudely interrupted at every opportunity. He sneered, he snickered, he insulted, he was disrespectful. He was undignified, and disgraced himself. At times his behavior was outright bizarre. On and on this went, from the first minute until almost the last. As one blogger put it

Joe was the bloviating, obnoxious drunk at the bar who had grabbed Ryan by his lapel and wouldn't let go. You could practically see Ryan's hair melt from the noxious odors wafting out from behind Joe's peculiarly whitened dentures.

I do not know that I have ever before seen such a loathsome spectacle at the national level.

I expected Biden to try and redeem his boss, but truthfully I had no idea he would go as low as he did. So much for "good ol' Joe," the guy you're supposed to want to invite to your backyard bar-b-Que.

Anything substantive he said, any debaters points he scored, were completely overwhelmed by his behavior. This wasn't just my observation, it was clear from Twitter, news commentators, and both the left and right blogosphere this was the case.

Of course, much of what Biden said was utter nonsense, but that's par for the course with him. He threw the entire intelligence community under the bus on Benghazi-gate, but then said that the same intelligence community can be trusted to tell us when Iran is close to getting the bomb. He asserted that the hardest part of building a nuclear bomb was the bomb design itself (just the opposite is the case). And of course he completely misrepresented the situation with the HHS mandate, religious liberty, and the Catholic Church.

Most of all, though, Biden gave no positive reason why anyone should give Obama and him a second term. He offered no agenda. His entire rationale was "the other guys are worse." This is fine for a use in a few attack ads, but unless you present an agenda you are unlikely to win.

Paul Ryan was calm, cool, and collected. He missed a few opportunities to counter some of the things Biden said, but not many, and he got in some good shots. But even when he did he stayed respectful and kept his facial expression positive. He explained his position clearly, coherently, and had a command of the issues.

How will this play out? In the first presidential debate, Romney won his base and the independents, while Obama lost with everyone. In this debate Biden won with the liberal base, which as Neo-neocon says is "hostile and juvenile" (I would emphasize the latter adjective), while Ryan won with the right. Initial polling I have seen, anecdotal evidence from around the blogosphere, and plain old common sense tells me that Biden lost with independents, especially women. He (or at least his campaign staff, Biden being too dumb) probably knew this would happen, but his boss' performance had so demoralized their base they felt they had no choice.

On debaters points they were probably even. On character, Biden showed that his was in the gutter, while Ryan came across like a gentleman. May the best man win this election, and it sure isn't Joe Biden.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 6, 2012

Romney Rocks, Obama Empty Suit in First Debate

Mitt Romney schooled Barack Obama and good in their first debate Oct 3 on domestic policy at the University of Denver.


The RNC video "Smirk" shows exactly why Obama did so poorly:

President Obama thinks he's too good to debate Governor Romney, let alone any Republican. He didn't prepare very well because he thinks he's so smart that by definition his arguments will win the day and no one on the right can poke any holes in them.

For the last four years he's been surrounded by yes-men and women who tell him what he wants to hear and only reinforce his preconceived notions and do not seriously challenge any of his core beliefs. The press core fawns all over him and asks softball questions. He does not hold regular press conferences so is not used to answering difficult questions. He does not like to engage with members of his own party, let alone Republicans, so again he is not used to being challenged.

It's one thing to despise your opponent. It's another to take that to where you don't take him seriously and do not properly prepare for something as important as a presidential debate. That this was so obviously the case speaks volumes about the president.

Almost unanimously, Liberal and conservative commentators alike agreed Romney not only won, but won decisively. In their panic, some liberals have grasped at various excuses, most notably that moderator Jim Lehrer did a poor job. But none of these hold up. Whatever faults Lehrer may have had were overwhelmed by the performance of the candidates themselves.

In short, not only did Mitt Romney do much better than I or most people expected, but Barack Obama did much worse. It was the combination of those two factors that led to such a lopsided performance.

Romney was clear, concise, confident, and knowledgeable. He spoke in paragraphs and had complete command of the subject material. He spoke well without "um" or "uh." He controlled the debate, and "schooled" Obama but was polite about it; no honest person can say he was mean or nasty.

On the other hand, Obama looked like he was winging it the whole time. He spoke hesitantly, said "um"and "uh" constantly, and didn't have any but a surface understanding of the issues. He lost almost every single exchange. He even failed to bring up many of the very things he has been hammering his opponent on in the campaign such as Bain Capital, Romney's taxes, or the "47 percent" video. This was simply astounding.

Romney was clearly enjoying himself, while Obama looked like he wanted it all to end almost from the moment he began

There are two more presidential debates. Surely the president will do better, but I don't think he'll improve as much as his supporters think. What the first debate revealed is just what you saw; Obama is an empty suit.

Whether the debate will lift Romney remains to be seen. He needs to capitalize on it in his regular campaign, and needs to continue to dominate the next two debates. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan also needs to do well in his.

History is mixed regarding how much debates affect the outcome, and often the candidate who loses his first debate goes on to win in the end. Reagan lost his first debate to Mondale in 1984, and Bush to Kerry in 2004, and we know how those turned out. On the other hand, those debates weren't so lopsided as this one, and unemployment was a lot lower.

So I'm not making any predictions as to the effect on the election, but I will say that any Democrat who thought that this election was in the bag should have had that notion destroyed by the first debate.

Posted by Tom at 7:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 8, 2012

Why the Democrats are Fixated on Mitt Romney's Taxes

So what is it about the Democrats that they are so fixated on seeing Mitt Romney's tax returns? Part of it I think is just that political junkies key in on certain things like a dog latching onto your ankle, and the whole thing assumes monumental importance in their minds. The universe swirls around this one issue to the point where nothing else he or she does or stands for matters a whit.

And part of it is the usual double standard in politics; if their side does it we care, if our side does it we excuse it away. As I recently demonstrated, it is most curious that the liberals fixate on Paul Ryan's marathon time while studiously ignoring Joe Biden's lies over his academic record. Yes, this occurs on our side too.

A recent article in National Review made me realize there's more going on. Mitt Romney is an amazingly generous person, who has devoted untold hours and much of his personal treasure to helping other people. In other words, he contributes a lot of time and money to charity.

And boy does this drive liberals nuts.

Romney's Taxes and the Liberal Mindset
Democrats want to show they care by spending other people's money.
By Michael Tanner
September 5, 2012

...Romney also donated an additional 13.8 percent of his income to charity, nearly $3 million. When the Romney campaign mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, Democrats were quick to dismiss it as substantively different from and less important than paying taxes. In fact, some suggested that such large charitable contributions might actually be a form of tax evasion, since they were tax-deductible. By helping people on his own, Romney was undermining government charity. "Charity is not democracy," complained Garrett Gruener, who helped found Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a pro-tax group.

At the same time, the Obama administration was upset that Americans still resisted turning to government programs when they hit hard times. Responding to a poll showing that most Americans were far more likely to rely on family, personal savings, or other forms of aid than on government, the Obama administration hastened to put out word that "given that only 15 percent of you turn to government assistance in tough times, we want you to know about the benefits that could help you," according to USA.gov's "government made easy" website.

...we've long known that conservatives and libertarians, on average, contribute significantly more to charity than do modern liberals. Indeed, according to a recent Gallup poll, Americans who described themselves as "very conservative" gave 4.5 percent of their income to charity, on average; self-described "conservatives" gave 3.6 percent; and "moderates" gave 3 percent; while "liberals" gave just 1.5 percent; and "very liberal" Americans gave barely 1.2 percent.

Those who voluntarily give the least are the same people who will spend the next few nights in Charlotte telling us how much they care, while demanding that the government take more from the rest of us by force through higher taxes.

This is not really the contradiction it seems. Rather, it reflects the mindset of modern liberals, such as President Obama and his supporters, who fundamentally discount, indeed distrust, the actions of private individuals and businesses. To modern liberalism, anything truly important must be done by government -- can only be done by government. The myriad institutions of civil society are a distraction at best, an unwelcome competitor at worst.

This is an attitude that goes far beyond charitable giving....Remember Julia, the Obama campaign's sad vision of a composite American, who can't do anything, from going to school to starting a business to buying her own birth control, without the government's help.

The president's oft-quoted "you didn't build that" remark, even in context, reflects this basic idea of government primacy. It is government, the president believes, that makes all else possible. That is why the president repeatedly expresses concern over cutbacks in government spending, while observing that "the private sector is doing just fine."

I do believe that Mr. Tanner is on to something. In a 2009 post titled The Left's War on Charities, I wrote about how Obama and the left have a simple objective; they want total control of how aid to the poor is distributed. They'd like government to do as much as possible, and failing that the want to control what private charities do. They don't like or trust private charity, and consider the government noble.

What this adds up to is that liberals are ok with charitable donations, as long as it doesn't reduce the amount of money you pay the government in taxes too much.

Being a liberal is all about feeling guilty and relieving your feelings of guilt by voting the right way and paying whatever they consider the appropriate amount of taxes. Giving time or money to charity doesn't really count, and besides, it's all too much trouble.

But in fact it's the other way around. While I have no problem with, and indeed support, a government safety net (though smaller than the one we currently have), it is only private charity that counts. And best of all, private charity that you don't publicly reveal. If you're not sure why, what follows is instructive:

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-4

In other words, giving to the poor only counts with God if you do it yourself without forcing others to go along, and of course without bragging about it.

Not to say that many liberals do not give time and/or money to charity, or that all conservatives do. Clearly there are liberals who do give time and/or money and conservatives who do not.

So bragging that you are willing to pay high.er taxes to take care of the poor gets you a big fat Zero with me and with God. Sorry, but I'm only impressed when you spend your own time and money without forcing others to go along.

Back to Mitt's taxes. I realize there are other stated reasons why the liberals say they need to see his taxes, but none of them are valid.

They say they need to make sure he's not breaking the law. But in this country it's innocent until proven guilty, and running for office doesn't change that.

They say that Obama has released more years of his returns, so this would only make it fair. One, Obama was stupid to release so many years when it's all irrelevant anyway, two he does not set the standard, and three when he releases his college transcripts and tells his AG Eric Holder to release the Fast and Furious information I'll be interested.

They also say they want to make sure he's paying his "fair share." One, you liberals don't get to determine what "fair share" is. Two, as long as all tax deductions are legal then paying zero taxes is fair. If you don't like that someone pays very little taxes because of the deductions they took then change the law or shut up. Obama and the Democrats had total control of the government for two years and if they didn't rescind these supposedly terrible deductions or abilities to shelter money then they should have but it's too bad now.

Or are the liberals saying that you should not take all of the deductions that you are legally able to take or shelter as much money as you can? Are they saying that there is some mystical amount whereby if you see you're paying less than x amount you should say "ok I won't take those deductions even though I could legally do so?" That people should purposely turn down deductions or not take advantage of tax shelters? This turns doing your tax return into a guessing game, which is insane.

More, we really know it's all about politics. If Romney was pro-abortion oops, "pro-choice," and pro gay marriage, and was a Democrat, the liberals would not care about his taxes. John Kerry famously saved a half a million dollars in taxes by docking his yacht in nearby Rhode Island, and he was a major speaker at the Democratic National Convention.

My guess is that this entire issue is the type of thing that really only impresses political junkies and will not swing any significant number of votes. This election will be decided on who the public believes has the best plan for America, and who can be trusted to carry it forth.

Not only that, but while government programs certainly have their role, they should not be nearly as all-consuming as they are now. They make wild promises of future benefits that can not be paid in any economic scenario. Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable. Pensions promised to government workers at the state and city level around the country are unsustainable, and the piper for some of them is demanding to be paid, with bankruptcy as often as not the result. The whole thing simply does not work for the long run, the only thing that counts.

More than the economics of the matter, though, it comes down to your vision of America. Do you see it as a giant welfare state funded by massive taxes or do you see it as a collection of individuals, most of them taking their own time and effort to contribute, or "give back" to their community. When government does so much, it diminishes the desire to do good yourself, to contribute your own time and money. It's more than a matter of "I pay too much in taxes to contribute," it's more of a mentality.

That mentality of charitable giving is a very good thing, both for the individual both on the giving and receiving ends, and for the community as a whole. And the best way to encourage that mentality is to limit what government does. This is one of the fundamental differences between the conservative and liberal, or progressive, visions of America.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 7, 2012

The Democratic Party's Hostility to Religion and Israel

There's no other way to interpret this than outright hostility to religion and Israel:

The description on the Youtube site:

"DNC Vote on Platform Change - At 2012 Democrat National Convention, DNC Chair Antonio Villaraigosa holds three votes on reinserting references to "God" and "Jerusulem" back into the Democratic Party platform. The language had been removed from the 2012 Democrat Party platform, igniting a firestorm of criticism but reflective of the Obama administration's often lukewarm support for Israel and the President's omission of references to "God" from his readings of the Declaration of Independence. The DNC Chair tries three times to secure the required two-thirds floor vote for the platform change, but a majority of the Democrat delegates clearly vote each time against the platform change. Finally, the DNC Chair gives up, cynically declares that 2/3 of the delegates have voted for the platform change, and the motion passes. The delegates boo in disapproval of Chicago politics on display at the convention."

The editors of the Washington Times have the full story:

Obama's party says no to God
Convention meltdowns show Democrats are in disarray
by The Washington Times

The most memorable moment of the Democratic National Convention was when the delegates denied God three times from the convention floor. It was the latest blunder in an Obama re-election effort that increasingly looks like it doesn't have a prayer.

The deity issue arose when conservatives slammed Democrats for deleting references to God and a united Jerusalem that were in the liberals' 2008 platform. The slap must have stung because the Obama campaign quickly orchestrated a floor amendment to stuff the clauses in the previously approved 2012 platform. It should have been a pro-forma matter, but when convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, called the vote, the floor responded with a vigorous "no" twice. In a fit of procedural integrity, Mr. Villaraigosa tried to get the required two-thirds to amend a third time, but the "no's" were louder than ever. Finally, visibly frustrated, he announced the motion had passed even though everyone in the hall knew it hadn't. It was amateur hour.

It's not surprising that Democratic delegates were generally hostile to God. According to the latest Gallup numbers, President Obama has a 46 percent advantage over Mitt Romney among those who profess "no religion" and lags 23 percent behind Mr. Romney among those who say they are "highly religious." Asking a group of Democratic true believers -- or in this case, true nonbelievers -- whether they want God in the platform is their secular equivalent of blasphemy.

Democrats compounded the platform blunder by not getting their story straight. The Obama campaign claimed omitting God and Jerusalem was a "technical" error, whatever that means. It was reported that Mr. Obama had seen and signed off on the original godless platform, but then the campaign denied he had approved it. Either way, the platform bears the mark of Mr. Obama, who is mentioned by name 38 times and cited more than 200 times in the 40-page manifesto. Voters are left with the conclusion that either Mr. Obama saw the platform in advance and thought it was fine or the president simply isn't on top of things.

The Obama campaign also bungled the Jerusalem issue. The inserted language pledges support for a united Jerusalem, which is not administration policy. The campaign said this reflected Mr. Obama's personal preference, in which case it has no place in a party platform. The hedge, of course, was designed to appease the Democrats' strong pro-Palestinian faction, which nixed the Jerusalem language in the first place. Mr. Obama's clear message to them was, "I support your vision of a divided Jerusalem, but I have to say some things to shore up my sagging support among Jews."

Getting down to brass tacks, these convention snafus expose serious flaws in Mr. Obama's operation. In 2008, the liberal media ran with the story line that the Obama campaign was a well-oiled machine that could do no wrong in its inevitable march to victory. Times have changed. The money isn't rolling in; the crowds aren't showing up; and Democrats can't even pull off a rigged voice vote to amend their own platform without causing a major embarrassment for their nominee. Forward, indeed.

The Democrats didn't always used to be this way, of course. Before the '70s they were center-left, a coalition that included defense hawks and real fiscal conservatives. Today's crowd is all about abortion, free contraception, big mommy government, and an outright disdain for the things of middle America, or most people on the coasts, for that matter.

Of course I didn't watch their convention. I've got better things do to than subject myself to their nonsense. The Times calls the scene above "amateur hour." Were that this was the case. No, it was more a two-minute hate than anything else. But such is the state of the Democrats.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 3, 2012

You Know the Democrats are Desperate When...

racism (def): A conservative winning an argument with a liberal

Back some 20 odd years ago Chris Matthews was a half-decent reporter and talking head on the TV shows. Slowly, but surely, though, he's gone round the bend. These days he's so far over the top I didn't now whether to laugh or cry when I saw this segment

When asked about the interview afterwords, RNC Chair Priebus could only state the obvious: Chris Matthews was "intent on taking the banner (and) being the biggest jerk in the room, and when someone is spitting as they're talking, and when screaming and acting hysterical, you just look at the guy and say, he's making the case why the Barack Obama brand is
broken. It's broken, it's not what the president said it was, it's divisive, it's hateful, it's everything he said it wasn't, and Chris Matthews is his perfect surrogate." and "he's got about 10 views a night on his show...it's not a serious program."

Sounds about right. By any rational thinking, white racism in America is at an all time low. But because there's so little of it, the liberals have to make it up:

Dog-WhistlingPast the Graveyard
Are there any words left that aren't racist?
September 1, 2012
By Mark Steyn

The less (racism in America) there is, the more extravagantly the racism-awareness lobby patrols its beat. The Walmart carding clerks of the media are ever more alert to those who "appear to be" racist. On MSNBC, Chris Matthews declared this week that Republicans use "Chicago" as a racist code word. Not to be outdone, his colleague Lawrence O'Donnell pronounced "golf" a racist code word. When Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell observed that Obama was "working to earn a spot on the PGA tour," O'Donnell brilliantly perceived that subliminally associating Obama with golf is racist, because the word "golf" is subliminally associated with "Tiger Woods," and the word "Tiger" is not so subliminally associated with cocktail waitress Jamie Grubbs, nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel, lingerie model Jamie Jungers, former porn star Holly Sampson, etc., etc. So by using the word "golf" you're sending a racist dog-whistle that Obama is a sex addict who reverses over fire hydrants. ...

...as dysfunctional as Greece undoubtedly is, if you criticize the government's plans for public-pensions provision, there are no Chris Matthews types with such a highly evolved state of racial consciousness that they reflexively hear "watermelon" instead of the word "pensions." So instead everyone discusses the actual text rather than the imaginary subtext. Which may be why political discourse in the euro zone is marginally less unreal than ours right now: At least they're talking about "austerity"; over here we're still spending, and more than ever.

Time's Mark Halperin wrote this week that "Obama can't win if he can't swing the conversation away from the economy." That's a pretty amazing admission. The economy is the No. 1 issue on the minds of voters, and, beyond that, the central reality of Obama's America. But to win the president has to steer clear. That doesn't leave a lot else. Hence, the racism of golf, the war on women, the carcinogenic properties of Mitt Romney. Democrat strategy 1992: It's the economy, stupid. Democrat strategy 2012: It's the stupidity, economists.

Except that for the Obama Campaign, it can't be about the economy. With unemployment going up, gas prices staying high, the worst "recovery" in modern history, skyrocketing national debt, and a terribly unpopular piece of health care legislation as his "accomplishments," he has no option other than to try and change the subject.

For a long time the Democrats have long been the party of Joe McCarthy on this matter. Too many in the media not only go along, but as we have seen in the example above, they actively do their dirty work for them. False and slanderous charges have become all too common. This is not to say that all Democrats or liberals, or liberal members of the media engage in this behavior, any more than Republicans or Conservatives engage in any type of behavior, but it has become typical of their movement.

So, to finish my title, you know the Democrats are desperate when they play the race card. They see that Team Romney-Ryan has a real chance of winning. They're worried, and their partisans in the press will help them do their job.

So look for more false charges of racism in the months ahead. Some will come from liberal media-types, some will come from Democrat office-holders, and some of it will come directly from the Obama Campaign itself. The better Romney and Ryan do, the more unhinged and irrational the attacks will get. This will be a wild campaign, so hang onto your seats, because here we go.

Tuesday Update

Here is an absolutely hilarious video mocking the "dog whistle" left on this issue:

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 1, 2012

Rubio and Romney Rock Last Night of GOP Convention

While Senator Marco Rubio gave the better speech, Mitt Romney did what he had to do in his; which is to say hit a home run. First up is the Republican Party nominee for president in 2012:

Full text here.

Romney did not bash the president in any real sense. In fact he acknowledged that after he was elected Americans were optimistic a change for the better. But we did not get what we were promised, and Americans are struggling.

Romney spent a lot of time telling the story of his life, about growing up and how he met his wife Ann. He dealt with his being a Mormon and Bain Capital by dealing with them directly. About his religion he simply said that his childhood friends "cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to." He told the story of how he and some friends founded Bain Capital and how hard work enabled them to succeed.

He then went on to our current situation, and how Obama has let us down. The president is full of excuses but has no solutions. His policies have failed, and he is out of excuses and time.

What we need now, he said, is simple; "...jobs. Lots of jobs." The president does not have any business experience and thus does not know how to create them, but he does. His five point plan:

First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.

Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.

Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.

Fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.

And fifth, we will champion SMALL businesses, America's engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare


Obviously, a convention speech is not the time for policy-wonk level detail. As such, Romney moved on to other subjects. Perhaps his best line of the evening was this one:

I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began with an apology tour. America, he said, had dictated to other nations. No Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators.

The rest of the speech was positive and can-do; uniquely American and Reaganesque "our best days are ahead of us."

There are a few shout-outs during the speech; to the plethora of Republican women, his pro-life stance, and the need for a strong military, robust foreign policy, and that we needed to stand by our ally Israel. But the main themes were his life story and job creation. It was delivered in as positive and upbeat a mood as he Romney will be.

Sentator Marco Rubio

Introducing Gov. Romney was Senator Marko Rubio, who gave one of the best speeches of the convention:

Full text here:

Rubio pretty much went straight into the president's failures; unemployment, stifling regulation, massive debt, and an unpopular health care plan that steals money from Medicare.

Rather than lead, the president blames others, and engages in shameless demagoguery (my term). "He tells Americans they're worse off because others are better off. That people got rich by making others poor." and rather than tout his successes, because they are so few, "Hope and Change have become Divide and Conquer."

As with so many other speakers, he talked about the American can-do spirit, about how we can lift ourselves up by reliance on family, community, and god, and that we are not dependent on government for everything we have. The "promise of America" is that we can make a better life for ourselves, not that we are helpless, at the mercy of powerful forces, and only government can save us.

We need to change the direction of our country, he said, and Mitt Romney is the man who can do it. Our legacy should be "that we chose more freedom instead of more government."

I didn't listen to all of them, but almost all of the speeches that I heard were very good. The only one that didn't work was Clint Eastwood's skit, and that's small potatoes in the big picture. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats offer anything other than fear and doubt at their convention.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 30, 2012

The Romney-Ryan Pro-Growth Agenda

Obama and Biden have no plan other than higher taxes and more government. All that has resulted in is stagnation and a loss of freedom. Romney and Ryan's plan is pro-growth and pro-freedom

Obama beware: Clear skies for GOP
Romney-Ryan ticket is pushing smart, pro-growth agenda
by Brett Decker
Monday, August 27, 2012

Hurricane Isaac might be pounding the GOP convention in Tampa this week, but on the political front, the skies are clear for Republicans looking toward this year's election. During times of national crisis, the electorate acts rationally when presented with a clear alternative to the status quo that is responsible for the mess. In 2012, conservatives offer voters a comprehensive, united vision for cleaning up the Obama Great Recession and returning America to economic growth and prosperity.

Taxation: The George W. Bush tax cuts are set to expire on Dec. 31. Letting the sun set on this package means an automatic tax hike of $3.2 trillion will wallop individuals and businesses as of New Year's Day 2013. In some states, the tax bill will jump by almost $6,000 per household. Overall, taxes would rise for 83 percent, including almost everybody making $60,000 or more, according to the Tax Policy Center. Stealing this fortune from the private sector and giving it to bureaucrats to waste on inefficient government programs mean it can't be invested in job-creating enterprises. The right is united that extending these tax cuts is the least that must be done to attack the Obama unemployment surge

Energy: Polls show voters highly prioritize making the United States energy-independent. President Obama has pursued suicidal policies that have gutted our long-term energy-production capacity. These include deep-sixing the Keystone XL pipeline, persecuting the coal and oil industries, wasting billions on purportedly green technologies that don't work, and prohibiting drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gulf and all along our coasts. The movement challenging Mr. Obama for the Oval Office wants to, "Drill, baby, drill," and undo other backwards liberal acts that threaten to starve U.S. industry and other consumers of needed power.

Regulation: U.S. manufacturers are being suffocated by approximately 2,200 regulations imposed by the federal government over the past three decades. "In 2012, major regulations could reduce the total value of shipments from the manufacturing sector by up to $500 billion in constant 2010 dollars," according to a new report released by NERA Economic Consulting and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation. "Manufacturing exports in 2012 could be up to 17 percent lower than they would be without the estimated cost burden from major regulations." The nanny-state regulatory agenda undermines U.S. competitiveness against foreign countries that pursue policies that don't assume the corporate-government relationship has to be adversarial. The pro-business, conservative coalition wants to cut through the rat's nest of red tape strangling America's job creators.

Debt: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus installed a debt clock at his party's convention center in Florida. U.S. national debt is set to hit the heart-stopping $16 trillion mark about the time Mitt Romney makes his keynote address accepting the Republican nomination for president on Thursday. Since taking office, Mr. Obama has added nearly $5 trillion in debt, or more than was stacked up by the first 41 U.S. presidents combined, according to CNS News. The Obama administration's trillion dollars in "shovel-ready" stimulus projects failed to jumpstart job growth and only dug the country deeper into a dark hole. The challengers promise to cut spending to lighten this millstone tied around the neck of the private-sector economy.

A tropical storm may be hitting the Republican convention, but it's Mr. Obama and the Democrats who need to worry about a November storm front moving in. Millions of Americans are jobless in the Obama economy. The president might literally feel their pain after this election is over.

Posted by Tom at 10:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Paul Ryan at the Republican Convention

I've only had a chance to watch the major speeches but so far so good. All of the speeches I've seen have been positive and upbeat. I don't think any of the ones I saw on Tuesday even mentioned the president, as they were all focused on what we could do to fix the country. No bashfest, this.

Robert Costa accurately calls Paul Ryan the "happy warrior:"

Paul Ryan: The Happy Warrior
His conservative rallying cry is in the spirit of Kemp, Reagan, and Goldwater.
August 29, 2012 11:M.30 P.M.
By Robert Costa

Ryan has accomplished much since he was a twentysomething aide, and his adherence to conservative principles is, evidently, as strong as ever. He took care to cite Kemp tonight, in the biggest speech of his political career, to send a message about who Paul Ryan is as a thinker -- to go beyond the anecdotes about his days flipping burgers at McDonald's or his recent efforts as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

"As with Kemp, Paul has always been a happy warrior, and he remains a happy warrior," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director. "Democrats try to portray him as the austerity king, but he is a champion for growth."

In short, Paul Ryan did a very good job, if he didn't outright knock it out of the park. A few excerpts.courtesy of National Review's The Corner blog, starting with a concept that will drive the liberals nuts: "Rights come from nature and God, not from government:"

"Being successful in business, that's a good thing!"

I'll take freedom over "the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners"

"A government planned life, a country where everything is free but us"

"College graduates should not have to live out their 20's in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at faded Obama posters"

Rep Paul Ryan is a national treasure. He is smart, articulate, and speaks with style and grace. He has studied the central problems of our time like few others. He has solutions that will improve the lives of everyday Americans. Whether he and Gov Romney are elected I cannot say for certain, but I am confident that he will wipe the floor with his buffonish opponent, VP Joe Biden. If elected he will have a chance to help turn our country around. God speed and good luck.

Thursday Update

Via Powerline, Ryan's entire speech:

Entire transcript at Fox News

"Fact checking" is all the rage, but they are not gods and are not at all infallible.
The "fact checkers" are full of it. More here t and here and here.

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August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan - A Excellent Choice!

Updated with video and quotes

This morning it was announced that Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) would be Mitt Romney's running mate, and I think it was an excellent choice.

More below the fold, but in short Ryan brings controlled energy to the campaign, both energizing the base and interesting independents. His knowledge of the federal budget and the issue of jobs is encyclopedic. Contrary to what liberals will tell us, he is hardy an extremist.

Lucky me, the Romney-Ryan team held a rally this afternoon in Manassas VA, just an hour or so from where I live. I joined a few dozen other conservative activists who got on a bus from one of our Victory Offices and headed down there.


The crowds were huge, we didn't leave as early as I would have liked, and I as among the several hundred who weren't able to get into the arena ;-( Fortunately they had large LED screens outside where we could watch the action. The picture above is one of them at the event that I found on the internet. The ones below the fold are what I actually saw:

Actually the TV looked a lot better than what you see here. The lines must have something to do with the scanning rate.

Rally 2 Manassas 08-11-12
Rally 1 Manassas 08-11-12

From the Loudoun Times-Mirror, here are some excerpts from Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney's remarks:

Paul Ryan

"You deserve to decide what kind of country we're going to have,what kind of people we're going to be,"

Mitt Romney:

"When a young person makes the honor roll, I know he took a school bus to get to the school, but I don't give the bus driver credit for the honor roll,"

"Our rights did not come from the government, our rights came from the Creator."

The like about the bus driver and the students is of course a response to Obama's ridiculous "you didn't build that."

I've already seen the spin from some liberals that Romney should have picked someone like Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) because he is oh-so-nice, and one one of those nasty extremists. The reality is that they say this because they know Portman is a milquetoast who would be no threat to them.

Paul Ryan, on the other hand will take the fight to Obama and will utterly destroy that clown Biden in their debate. He will also make mincemeat of dopes in the media like Chris Matthews. He knows the federal budget and economic issues backwards and forwards. This is what Democrats fear most; a discussion of the actual issues that Americans care about.

Paul Ryan has an actual plan, the "Roadmap for America's Future." It's smart, specific, and factual. All Obama and Biden have to offer is fear, division, and doubt.

Otherwise, John Fund does an excellent job of summing up why Ryan is an excellent choice:

Smart Democrats Should Be Worried
By John Fund
August 11, 2012 11:21 A.M.

Liberal pundits are already fanning out in force to attack and discredit Paul Ryan. Michael Tomasky, who recently wrote a Newsweek cover story calling Mitt Romney a "wimp," has now decided that Romney's bold move is "a terrible choice" because Ryan has proven himself to be an extremist on budget issues.

No doubt there are many Democrats rubbing their hands in glee in contemplation of reviving some version of the ad that featured an actor playing Paul Ryan pushing a grandmother in a wheelchair off a cliff. But the smarter ones are worried.

First, if Ryan is an extremist and his proposals are so unpopular, how has he won election seven times in a Democratic district? His lowest share of the vote was 57 percent -- in his first race. He routinely wins over two-thirds of the vote. When Obama swept the nation in 2008, he carried Ryan's district by four points. But at the same time, Ryan won reelection with 65 percent of the vote, meaning that a fifth of Obama voters also voted for him.

Ryan has pointed out to me that no Republican has carried his district for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984. "I have held hundreds of town-hall meetings in my district explaining why we have to take bold reform steps, and I've found treating people like adults works," he told me. "All those ads pushing elderly woman off the cliffs don't work anymore if you lay out the problem."

Second, Democrats know that Ryan has Reaganesque qualities that make him appealing to independent, middle-class voters. Take the cover story on Ryan that the Isthmus, a radically left-wing Madison, Wis. newspaper, ran on him in 2009. "Ryan, with his sunny disposition and choirboy looks, projects compassion and forcefully proclaims dedication to his district," the story reported. "And he's proved he is not unyieldingly pro-corporate, as when he recently joined in condemnation of AIG 'retention' bonuses."

Third, Ryan's ideas aren't that novel or scary. The idea of "premium support" for Medicare, which would change the program's one-size-fits-all policy to a private-insurance model with public options, was endorsed by a bipartisan commission appointed by Bill Clinton back in the 1990s. Late last year, Ryan announced a new version of his proposal with a new partner signing on: Democratic senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who first achieved political prominence as an advocate for seniors.

Four, Ryan puts Wisconsin and its ten electoral votes in play. Polls have shown that President Obama holds a five to seven point lead in Wisconsin -- significant, but much less than Obama's 14-point margin in 2008. With Ryan on the ticket, polls show the race is dead even.

Five, if Republicans were looking for a superior candidate, they've found it in Ryan. His maiden speech as the GOP vice-presidential candidate was perfectly pitched:

We won't duck the tough issues . . . we will lead!

We won't blame others...we will take responsibility!

We won't replace our founding principles . . . we will reapply them!

Echoes of Ronald Reagan at his best.

Ryan was judged to have already had the better of President Obama in televised exchanges on Obamacare. His debate with Joe Biden this October might well be remembered as cruel and unusual punishment for dim vice presidents. Recall that Sarah Palin fought a much more engaged Joe Biden to a draw in their 2008 vice-presidential debate.

Six, as Democratic consultant Joe Trippi acknowledged today on Fox News, Ryan will bring in a flood of donations from overjoyed conservatives and tea-party members. Romney had a problem with energizing the GOP base. That problem is now solved, and that will make it easier to pump up conservative turnout.

Democrats will no doubt try to make Paul Ryan into a younger version of the devil they've tried to paint Mitt Romney as. But they should worry about fighting a campaign on fundamental issues in a weak economy. That's precisely how Jimmy Carter, the last Democratic president to run for reelection during hard times, wound up losing so badly that it not only cost Democrats control of the U.S. Senate but damaging the liberal brand for years afterwards.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Is Anything the Obama Campaign Says True?

Updated with Romney response ad at bottom

If you haven't seen it, here is the infamous "Understands" commercial, courtesy of Priorities USA Action, and starring one Joe Soptic:

One slight problem: Romney left Bain in 1999, the plant closed in 2001, Soptic's wife died in 2006.

As of this writing the Obama campaign has not denounced this commercial, so they apparently approve. The Wall Street Journal asks the relevant question; "The challenge is finding anything (Obama's) campaign says that is true."

President Obama spent his formative years in academia, so he's no doubt familiar with postmodernism, the literary theory that rejects objective reality and insists instead that everything is a matter of interpretation and relative "truth." At any rate he's running the first postmodern Presidential campaign, now organized almost exclusively around allegations about his opponent that bear no relation to the observable universe.

They then review the "Understands" commercial, as well as Harry Reid's allegations, and conclude that

Our point isn't that politics is often brutal and unfair. That's always been so. And it isn't that Mr. Obama promised to elevate the national conversation for an era of partisan comity. Dumping that 2008 pose was inevitable.

The point is that more than any President we can recall, Mr. Obama isn't trying to persuade voters that he deserves to stay in office because of his philosophy, record or positive vision for the country. Rather, his case is that he deserves re-election because Mr. Romney is worse, and he is so very much worse because of things that were invented in the West Wing but are detached from reality.

The entire theory of the Obama campaign seems to be that the more outrageous the claim the better, because the more you repeat it the more the media will talk about it, and the lie will achieve a kind legendary truth.

The bad news, as Charles Krauthammer observes after looking at the latest Fox News poll, is that it seems to be working:

This poll is not a reflection of issues. It's not about Iran and it isn't even about the economy. You don't have to have a PhD to see this is directly in response to the negative campaign against Romney. The key is the tripling of the gap among independents between Obama and Romney from four percent to 11.

But the key number here is favorable numbers. Romney's have dropped by about five or six and the unfavorables have risen by five or six. That is the "Kill Romney" campaign, to quote a memo leaked in August of 2011.

And it is working. It is all about an attack on him, and they make him into Gordon Gecko who now, as we know, kills the wives of workers in his plants. And it is having an effect. There's no question.

It's obvious, isn't it? Obama and his minions would rather talk about anything, and I mean anything, other than the economy and foreign policy. 8.3 percent unemployment, an anemic 1.5 percent growth, trillions in new debt, a horribly unpopular heath care program, and the worst "recovery" in the history of the United States are a huge anchor. This would sink any normal president.

But Obama is not normal. In 2008 he created a cult-like following that is fanatical beyond Ronald Reagan ever dreamed of. And let's face it; that he's a liberal black man with an odd name certainly helps him.* Add to this yuppie white guilt and you've got a potent combination right there.

As if this were not bad enough, he and his liberals have created a culture of dependency that guarantees a permanent Democrat-voting base. Health insurance is now somehow a "right." Those out of work are owed what is an apparently never-ending unemployment payments. Food stamps are part of life, not, as they should be, a stigma that encourages extra efforts to find work. Workers at any job are never to be laid off, no matter how bad the company is doing.

We saw where this gets us last year in Wisconsin, where labor union thuggery reached new heights. They illegally occupied the statehouse in what was basically an attempt to intimidate legislators.

Every year in the county were I live the board of supervisors has budget hearings, and before they decide on a budget and tax rate there are several public input sessions. They feature a seemingly endless parade of teachers and government hangers-on with their hand out demanding more - more - more in the way of taxes and spending. Sitting through them can be one of the most depressing experiences you can imagine. It's the culture of entitlement in all it's glory.

And to pay for all this you better fork over your "fair share;" this to be defined by the liberals at their whim. One year it's x percent for y income, but if they decide that they need x plus #, then you better agree or else. If you want to be Obama's secretary of the treasury it doesn't matter if you're a tax cheat or not, but if you're a conservative businessman, or heaven forbid, a venture-capitalist, you had better not take advantage of too many tax breaks. Tax breaks are only for those who "invest" in "green energy," don't you know.

* I know, I know, we're not supposed to point this out, but it's ok for Obama's McCarthyite defenders to call anyone they want a racist. And anyway it's true.


Mitt Romney's response to the "Understands" ad:

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August 6, 2012

Governor Romney's Olympic Achievement


Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent this email out today which spells out the problems Mitt Romney faced when he took over the 2002 Winter Olympics and all that he did to solve them. I had no idea the problems were as bad as they were before he got there.

Dear Fellow Virginians,

Now that we're about half way through the Olympics, I thought it appropriate to reflect on the accomplishment that put Mitt Romney on the national (and international) stage: the turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

This is important for several reasons, first among them the continuing contrast of real-world accomplishments that Mitt Romney has achieved compared to the complete dearth of accomplishment of the current President when he ran for President (to say nothing of what he has done to America since he took office).

I think that it is objectively accurate to say that Barack Obama was the least accomplished person to ever ascend to the Presidency in my lifetime and probably all the way back through the 20th century, if not ever. What did he accomplish in the U.S. Senate? Nothing. What did he accomplish in the Illinois State Senate? Nothing - including frequently (147 times I think) not even voting even though he was present... pretty basic. What did he accomplish outside of government? Nothing that he seems to want to talk about...

Prior to being elected to anything, Mitt Romney founded and led Bain Capital, a pioneering and successful venture capital firm for more than a decade and a half. And in February 1999, he was asked to take over the effort to plan for and execute the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

I'm writing about Romney's 2002 Olympic accomplishment because it was completely non-partisan, difficult to achieve, and represents a reasonable analogy for the choice before us in the 2012 Presidential election.

Upon Arrival

First, let's look at what he was walking into. The 2002 Winter Olympics weren't merely struggling, they were mired in scandal. Do you remember the discovery of the $1 million worth of gifts and bribes to International Olympic Committee (IOC) members to win the Olympics in the first place? That's what Romney was walking into.

But that's not all. When Mitt Romney came on board, the budget for the 2002 Olympics was $1.45 billion, but it was $380 million in deficit. Executives were spending lavishly on meals and travel, going to meetings with large entourages, and the culture within the organization was such that they would never have gotten into the black without a radical turnaround. Sound like a useful example for the federal government?

On his way in, Romney thought the problem he was confronting was 80% a public relations problem and 20% a management problem. After only three weeks on the job, he concluded the problem was 80% management and only 20% public relations. And he rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

To cut to the chase on the numbers, Romney cut $200 million out of the budget (a 15% cut) and finished $100 million in the black... with praise for the accomplishment coming from every corner of America and beyond. A 15% cut in the federal budget would cut the deficit in half.

Making it Happen

To achieve this unprecedented Olympic turnaround required many things: strategic planning, hard-nosed decision making, even harder-nosed execution of those decisions, and a change in the corporate culture (and day-to-day operation) of the whole Salt Lake City committee - starting at the top.

Romney immediately stopped the lavish dinners. At meetings, executives had to pay for their own coffee and doughnuts, had to buy slices of pizza for $1 each, sodas for 25 cents. The entourages stopped going on trips. Trips were cut short or eliminated, e.g., Romney's December 1999 report to the IOC in Switzerland was done by teleconference, saving 3 days travel and $10,000.

Romney and his team questioned basic assumptions about how an Olympics should (must?) be run. When something didn't seem to make sense, he would drill down on it and frequently find that, in fact, it didn't make sense! And over the side such things would go.

For example, having a daily "Olympic Newspaper..." Why not let the papers in Salt Lake City handle that job? And so they did.

No limos for VIPS. No lavish hotel suites or parties for the IOC or anyone else. All business.

Romney also donated each of his three years' of salary - $275,000 per year - to charity? Additionally, he personally donated about $1,000,000 of his personal money to the Olympics. No shortage of personal commitment at the top of this organization.


The last time the U.S. hosted the Winter Olympics prior to 2002 was in Lake Placid, New York in 1980. One of the gripes the Obama folks lob in about this incredible accomplishment is that the 2002 Winter Olympics got federal funds. Which is certainly true. However, while just under 20% of the 2002 budget came from federal funds, in Lake Placid in 1980 that number was about 50%.

Would I prefer no federal money? Sure I would, but Romney got a lot less federal help to pull off a winter Olympics than Lake Placid, and he started in a deep, deep hole.


Well, this is obvious. America is in a deep financial hole. And Barack Obama has violated the first rule of holes since the day he was sworn in, namely, when you're in a hole - stop digging.

Our federal government needs a turnaround. It involves more than just our President, but the President plays a critical leadership role.

We need to replace our current President - one who insists on continuing to dig us into deeper and deeper holes (e.g., last month's jobs report and rise in unemployment) - with a President who has a track record of executive accomplishment.

I would respectfully suggest that President Obama has had three and a half years of failure as President, and nothing prior to 2008 to point to and say "this shows what I can do." Mitt Romney has achievements that he can point to and say "this shows what I can do," but none of them stand out like his arduous, three-year turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Half way through the 2012 Summer Olympics, as Americans and others around the world celebrate great accomplishments, it seemed to me to be a good time to reflect back on one of Mitt Romney's greatest accomplishments.

Please share the comparison of accomplishment versus none with your friends and family, in letters to the editor, and via door knocking and phone calling at our Victory Centers! Click here to find your nearest Victory Center. I'll see you out on the campaign trail.


Ken Cuccinelli, II
Attorney General of Virginia

P.S. Here is a recent T.V. ad on the subject of the 2002 Olympics that the Romney Super-PAC has put out.

Posted by Tom at 6:06 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 31, 2012

Of Course it's the Culture, Stupid

It's worth quoting in full what Mitt Romney said in Israel that has raised such a fuss on the left:

I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries. And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about 21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority which is more like 10,000 dollars per capita you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States. I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business is I would travel to different countries was to understand why there were such enormous disparities in the economic success of various countries.
I read a number of books on the topic. One, that is widely acclaimed, is by someone named Jared Diamond called 'Guns, Germs and Steel,' which basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth. And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here. And likewise other nations that are next door to each other have very similar, in some cases, geographic elements. But then there was a book written by a former Harvard professor named 'The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.' And in this book Dr. Landes describes differences that have existed--particularly among the great civilizations that grew and why they grew and why they became great and those that declined and why they declined. And after about 500 pages of this lifelong analysis--this had been his study for his entire life--and he's in his early 70s at this point, he says this, he says, if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it's this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.

And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. One, I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place. I'm told in a Sunday school class I attended-- I think my son Tagg was teaching the class. He's not here. I look around to see. Of course he's not here. He was in London. He taught a class in which he was describing the concern on the part of some of the Jews that left Egypt to come to the promised land, that in the promised land was down the River Nile, that would provide the essential water they had enjoyed in Egypt. They came here recognizing that they must be relied upon, themselves and the arm of God to provide rain from the sky. And this therefore represented a sign of faith and a show of faith to come here. That this is a people that has long recognized the purpose in this place and in their lives that is greater than themselves and their own particular interests, but a purpose of accomplishment and caring and building and serving. There's also something very unusual about the people of this place. And Dan Senor-- And Dan, I saw him this morning, I don't know where he is, he's probably out twisting someone's arm--There's Dan Senor, co-author of 'Start-up Nation,' described-- If you haven't read the book, you really should-- Described why it is Israel is the leading nation for start-ups in the world. And why businesses one after the other tend to start up in this place. And he goes through some of the cultural elements that have led Israel to become a nation that has begun so many businesses and so many enterprises and that is becomes so successful.

I think that what Romney said is pretty much on target, but if you want to quibble over his universal statement that "Culture makes all the difference," and say that he should have said something like "Culture makes part of the difference," then I don't really have a quibble with you. Reasonable people should be able to debate whether culture makes "all" the difference or only "part" of the difference.

But to call his remarks racist? Give me a break. But that is exactly one Palestinian leader did:

"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realise that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"It seems to me this man (Romney) lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."

The irony is that if Romney knew more about the Irsraelis and Palestinians he'd have spoken even stronger about the differences between the two cultures.

The further irony is that the Palestinian people really are the victims; just not of the Israelis. They are the victims of corrupt and cynical leaders who use them to keep themselves in total power. They are the victims of terrorist and jihadist organizations who use the situation to further their own ends.

What Romney said in London was accurate but unnecessary. What he said in Israel was both accurate and necessary. As Paul Mirengoff said at Powerline, offending Palestinian leaders is "a step in the right direction." These leaders need to be told the truth and their people need to hear it. Not because we're mean, but because we're compassionate, because we want the Palestinians to improve their lot, and that starts with acknowledging reality. Let's hope Romney gets elected so they can hear more like this.

Wednesday Update

Mitt Romney himself has a post at National Review's The Corner in which he explains his thinking further:

Culture Does Matter
By Mitt Romney
July 31, 2012 8:00 P.M.

During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.

But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism. But one feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out above all others: freedom. The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.

The Founding Fathers wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with the freedom to pursue happiness. In the America they designed, we would have economic freedom, just as we would have political and religious freedom. Here, we would not be limited by the circumstance of birth nor directed by the supposedly informed hand of government. We would be free to pursue happiness as we wish. Economic freedom is the only force that has consistently succeeded in lifting people out of poverty. It is the only principle that has ever created sustained prosperity. It is why our economy rose to rival those of the world's leading powers -- and has long since surpassed them all.

The linkage between freedom and economic development has a universal applicability. One only has to look at the contrast between East and West Germany, and between North and South Korea for the starkest demonstrations of the meaning of freedom and the absence of freedom.

Israel is also a telling example. Like the United States, the state of Israel has a culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law. It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic. This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology.

As the case of Israel makes plain, building a free society is not a simple task. Rather, it is struggle demanding constant courage and sacrifice. Even here in the United States, which from our inception as a nation has been blessed with freedom, we faced monumental challenges in harmonizing our ideals with our institutions. We fought a bloody civil war against slavery and it took a nonviolent civil-rights movement to bring political and social equality to all Americans. In these epic struggles we changed our "culture" and vastly improved it.

I have just returned from a trip abroad. I visited three lands -- Israel, Poland, and Great Britain -- which are defined by their respective struggles for freedom. I met with some of the greatest heroes of those struggles. I am always glad to return to American soil. On this occasion, I am only strengthened in my conviction that the pursuit of happiness is not an American right alone. Israelis, Palestinians, Poles, Russians, Iranians, Americans, all human beings deserve to enjoy the blessings of a culture of freedom and opportunity.

Color me impressed. Romney is a thinker in a way that Obama or Biden could never be.

Those on the left who say that culture doesn't matter, or that people like the Palestinians are in their current situation because of "oppression" or history or whatever are simply wrong. The history of hundreds of peoples over thousands of years has proven that wrong time and again. The liberals will never get it, but Romney does, and that is a very good thing.

Posted by Tom at 8:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 28, 2012

Eat Your Broccoli! The Supreme Court Decision on Obamacare

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is fond of saying that if the government can make you buy health insurance, they can make you eat, or at least buy, broccoli. It may seem like an odd way to put it, but he's right.

Liberals usually retort that everyone has to have car insurance, so what's the difference? The difference is that you don't have to own a car. No car, no requirement to have car insurance. But by simple virtue of existence as an American you are now required to buy health insurance. They can call the fine if you don't a "tax" all they want; it's a fine all the same. From Fox News:

The decision to uphold ObamaCare and its individual mandate forcing people to buy health insurance was based on the federal government's taxing authority rather than other powers.

The Roberts majority determined that Congress deserved reasonable deference on the determination of whether the cost incurred for non-compliance with the individual mandate to obtain insurance was a tax or a penalty.

"Congress's authority under the taxing power is limited to requiring an individual to pay money into the Federal Treasury, no more. If a tax is properly paid, the Government has no power to compel or punish individuals subject to it. We do not make light of the severe burden that taxation -- especially taxation motivated by a regulatory purpose -- can impose. But imposition of a tax nonetheless leaves an individual with a lawful choice to do or not do a certain act, so long as he is willing to pay a tax levied on that choice," the majority wrote.

Whatever. The take-away is that this is one of the most dramatic increases in the power of the federal government that we have seen in a long time. If they can make you buy health insurance, they can indeed make you buy certain food. Foods they say is good for you. All for your own good, of course.

As Karen Harned put it in an editorial on Fox News, "Americans have lost the right to be left alone.

I don't have much time, so I'll post this editorial from National Review, which sums up what I think:

Chief Justice Roberts's Folly
June 28, 2012 2:00 P.M.
By The Editors

In today's deeply disappointing decision on Obamacare, a majority of the Supreme Court actually got the Constitution mostly right. The Commerce Clause -- the part of the Constitution that grants Congress the authority to regulate commerce among the states -- does not authorize the federal government to force Americans to buy health insurance. The Court, by a 5-4 margin, refused to join all the august legal experts who insisted that of course it granted that authorization, that only yahoos and Republican partisans could possibly doubt it. It then pretended that this requirement is constitutional anyway, because it is merely an application of the taxing authority. Rarely has the maxim that the power to tax is the power to destroy been so apt, a portion of liberty being the direct object in this case.

What the Court has done is not so much to declare the mandate constitutional as to declare that it is not a mandate at all, any more than the mortgage-interest deduction in the tax code is a mandate to buy a house. Congress would almost surely have been within its constitutional powers to tax the uninsured more than the insured. Very few people doubt that it could, for example, create a tax credit for the purchase of insurance, which would have precisely that effect. But Obamacare, as written, does more than that. The law repeatedly speaks in terms of a "requirement" to buy insurance, it says that individuals "shall" buy it, and it levies a "penalty" on those who refuse. As the conservative dissent points out, these are the hallmarks of a "regulatory penalty, not a tax."

The law as written also cuts off all federal Medicaid funds for states that decline to expand the program in the ways the lawmakers sought. A majority of the Court, including two of the liberals, found this cut-off unconstitutionally coercive on the states. The Court's solution was not to invalidate the law or the Medicaid expansion, but to rule that only the extra federal funds devoted to the expansion could be cut off. As the dissenters rightly point out, this solution rewrites the law -- and arbitrarily, since Congress could have avoided the constitutional problem in many other ways.

The dissent acknowledges that if an ambiguous law can be read in a way that renders it constitutional, it should be. It distinguishes, though, between construing a law charitably and rewriting it. The latter is what Chief Justice John Roberts has done. If Roberts believes that this tactic avoids damage to the Constitution because it does not stretch the Commerce Clause to justify a mandate, he is mistaken. The Constitution does not give the Court the power to rewrite statutes, and Roberts and his colleagues have therefore done violence to it. If the law has been rendered less constitutionally obnoxious, the Court has rendered itself more so. Chief Justice Roberts cannot justly take pride in this legacy.

The Court has failed to do its duty. Conservatives should not follow its example -- which is what they would do if they now gave up the fight against Obamacare. The law, as rewritten by judges, remains incompatible with the country's tradition of limited government, the future strength of our health-care system, and the nation's solvency. We are not among those who are convinced that we will be stuck with it forever if the next election goes wrong: The law is also so poorly structured that we think it may well unravel even if put fully into effect. But we would prefer not to take the risk.

It now falls to the Republicans, and especially to Mitt Romney, to make the case for the repeal of the law and for its replacement by something better than either it or the health-care policies that preceded it. Instead of trusting experts to use the federal government's purchasing power to drive efficiency throughout the health sector -- the vain hope of Obamacare's Medicare-cutting board -- they should replace Medicare with a new system in which individuals have incentives to get value for their dollar. Instead of having Washington establish a cartel for the insurance industry, they should give individuals tax credits and the ability to purchase insurance across state lines. Instead of further centralizing the health-care system, in short, they should give individuals more control over their insurance.

Opponents should take heart: The law remains unpopular. Let the president and his partisans ring their bells today, and let us work to make sure that they are wringing their hands come November.

Put simply, they destroyed the law in order to save it. Or they twisted the law in order to uphold a political policy.

Some say this will not be a very big issue in the election, which they say will center around jobs and the economy. I agree in that this is what will sway the swing voters. But this ruling, and the fervent desire to be rid of this awful law, will fire up the Republican base and encourage donors to dig deeper in their pockets. While I'd rather have had the ruling go the other way, this ruling will motivate Republican volunteers like nothing else.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 6, 2012

Walker Wins!


The story from Fox News:

With nearly all precincts reporting, Walker had 53 percent of the vote, compared with 46 percent for Barrett. The margin of victory was wider than many expected and slightly better than Walker's 5.8 percentage-point victory over Barrett in the 2010 race. Some 2.5 million voters cast their ballots. ... Wisconsin went for President Obama in 2008, but the recall results give Republicans hope that their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, can win there in November.

"Governor Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington," Romney said.

Republicans see Walker's win as evidence voters across the country want their elected officials to keep government living within its means. They said this paves the way for Romney to become the first Republican candidate to carry Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

It's obviously way premature to move Wisconsin into the "likely Republican" column, but the state is certainly in play.

It would be intellectually dishonest to say that this election does anything other than give Republicans a boost and Democrats a loss. Liberals put a lot into this election and while it wasn't a runaway, neither was it a squeaker. President Obama didn't get involved, which tells me two things: One, they were not nearly as confident of victory as they said they were, and second, they did not think his presence would help Walker's opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.

Worse for Democrats was that although the cause of the recall election was the issue of unions and collective bargaining, the campaign itself was conducted entirely around the issue of jobs and the economy. That Walker won the argument does not portend well for Obama.

And even worse is the conclusion that comes next; that liberals have lost the argument on public sector unions and their supposed right of collective bargaining. Forbes has the story:

Governor Walker's Victory Spells Doom For Public Sector Unions
by Bill Frezza
6/05/2012 @ 9:36PM

Despite a last-minute smear campaign accusing Scott Walker of fathering an illegitimate love child, the governor's recall election victory sends a clear message that should resonate around the nation: The fiscal cancer devouring state budgets has a cure, and he has found it. The costly defeat for the entrenched union interests that tried to oust Walker in retribution for challenging their power was marked by President Obama's refusal to lend his weight to the campaign for fear of being stained by defeat. We'll see how well this strategy of opportunistic detachment serves in the fall as Obama reaches out to unions for support.
Scott Walker ran for office promising change. The fiscal medicine he is administering may be bitter, but it looks like it is starting to work. The state budget has been balanced. The unemployment rate has been dropping and is now below the national average. Property taxes are down. Fraudulent sick leave policies--which allowed employees to call in sick and then work the next shift for overtime pay--have been ended. The government has stopped forcibly collecting union dues from workers' paychecks.

Best of all, the myth that union bosses represent their members' interests has been exposed as a lie. Now that union dues are voluntary, tens of thousands of union members have stopped paying them. Membership in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) has dropped by half. Membership in the state's American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is down by over a third. Given unions' influential role in most elections, the national implications of this trend are staggering.

Walker's message is clear: The key to bringing balance back to public sector labor relations and balance state budgets is to break the iron triangle of closed-shop mandatory unionization, compulsory dues collection, and oversized campaign donations to politicians that promise to do the unions' bidding. If other governors take his cue and take up the cause, that giant sucking sound you hear will be the air coming out of union bosses' bloated political action budgets.

A few quick important points from Robert Costa at National Review (follow the link for more):

- Walker is the first governor in history to beat a recall. And he galloped to victory in a bluish state -- with more votes than he won during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

- Walker's policies, not his personality, won him the election. According to a recent Marquette University poll, 55 percent of likely voters said they favor limiting collective bargaining for public-sector employees.

- Turnout hit record highs across the state -- more than 55 percent according to the Associated Press.

- Walker's numbers among independents are solid, according to CBS News. Among this coveted group, he beat Barrett soundly, 54 percent to 45 percent.

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June 2, 2012

Romney is Rocking

It is safe to say that there is a general consensus on the right that Mitt Romney is running a good or even a very good campaign. In recent weeks I have heard this from many of my conservative friends who supported other candidates during the primary. I've also seen this around the Internet, where some of my favorite bloggers like Neo-Neocon, Sister Toldjah, and Mike's America are now basically singing Mitt's praises. And believe you me, if Mitt were faltering, they, and I, would be criticizing him.

Here is one of Romney's latest that nails Obama and good as being the king of "crony capitalism:"

Powerline Blog has a good piece summarizing the thoughts of many on the right:

These Aren't Your Father's Republicans
by John Hinderacker
May 31, 2012

One of the most heartening aspects of the early stages of the presidential race has been the Romney campaign's aggressiveness. Nothing discourages activists more than getting out front of a candidate who, it later turns out, isn't willing to do what it takes to win. A number of Republicans of recent years could be said to fit that description, most recently John McCain. But not Mitt Romney.

We've seen it over and over: the Obama campaign will launch an attack, and in next to no time, the Romney team hits back-twice as hard, as President Obama and Glenn Reynolds both like to say. It happened with the smear of Ann Romney, it happened with the dog on the roof, it happened with the silly "war on women," it happened with the administration's clumsy attack on Bain Capital, and it happened again today with the Democrats' attempt to denigrate Romney's service as Governor of Massachusetts.

A campaign can resemble a boxing match. Obama thinks he sees an opening and takes a swing at Romney. But before he can do any damage, he realizes he has walked into a counterpunch. Bam! Romney rocks him, and Obama retreats in disarray. Romney has shown himself already to be a top-notch counterpuncher.

His campaign has shown itself to be tough in other ways, too. When reporters pressed Romney to repudiate Donald Trump because he has been a "birther," Romney flatly refused. (Maybe Obama should be asked to repudiate his literary agent, who also, evidently, is a "birther.") This is exactly the right course. When Obama apologizes for Bill Maher and urges his SuperPac to return Maher's million dollars, then Romney can at least consider repudiating someone who supports him-if, that is, he can find anyone remotely as unsavory as Maher.
Of course, amid all of the punching and counterpunching it is vital for Romney to stay on message, and not be distracted away from the all-important issue of the economy. He has done a good job of that, too. Today he held a surprise press conference at Solyndra. What I liked about Romney's comments at Solyndra is that he didn't just focus on the financial loss to the taxpayers, or accept the implicit assumption that everything would have been fine if only the company hadn't gone out of business. Rather, he talked about the differences between free enterprise and government cronyism:


Wonder what Mitt Romney will do on Day One of his presidency? Wonder no more, as here are two very effective ads that have been running on TV:

Here he speaks about the Promise of America. Guess what, it's not about taking money from one group and giving it to another as part of some redistribution of wealth scheme:

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May 3, 2012

No, "Julia," the government does not owe you a living and no I'm not going to pay for your life

This has got to be the most breathtakingly stupid - and revealing - thing the Obama campaign has concocted:


Full "The Life of Julia" slide show here at barackobama.com

Follow the link and watch the whole thing, but the short version is that the Obama campaign concocted a mythical "Julia" and follows her through her life, from age 3 to retirement at 67. At every step along the way Julia's success is because she takes advantage of of an Obama-created or perpetuated government program. Far from doing anything on her own without government assistance, everything she does is with government assistance.

Either the creators of this monstrosity didn't know that "Julia" was the name of Winston Smith's girlfriend in Orwell's 1984?

There are so many things wrong with with Obama's image of what a good life entails it's hard to know where to start, but a few observations on a few of Julia's stops along the way are in order:

At age 23 Julia starts her job as a web designer, but is protected by the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, because, you know, everyone discriminates against women.

At age 25 Julia graduates (a bit late, don't you think? Oh wait, liberals always have advanced degrees) She has cheap student loans which she can pay off thanks to Obama. Which will also have the effect of increasing college tuition...

At age 27 she takes a job as a web designer (all that school for that?) of course she gets "free" contraception.

At age 31 she "decides to have a child." No marriage or man is ever mentioned in the slide show.

At age 42 she starts her own business, of course with a government loan. Because we know no one can start a business without the government (especially women).

At age 67 she retires and starts to receive social security payments. No mention of private savings.

The New Soviet Woman comes to America!

Rich Lowry, writing in National Review, gets to the heart of the matter:

Julia's central relationship is to the state. It is her educator, banker, health-care provider, venture capitalist, and retirement fund. And she is, fundamentally, a taker. Every benefit she gets is cut-rate or free. She apparently doesn't worry about paying taxes. It doesn't enter her mind that the programs supporting her might add to the debt or might have unintended consequences. She has no moral qualms about forcing others to pay for her contraception, and her sense of patriotic duty is limited to getting as much government help as she can.


David Harsanl's also summarizes the whole thing well in a piece at Human Events:

Who the hell is "Julia," and why am I paying for her whole life?
by David Harsanyi

In the new Barack Obama campaign piece The Life of Julia, voters can "Take a look at how President Obama's policies help one woman over her lifetime -- and how Mitt Romney would change her story." It is one of the most brazenly statist pieces of campaign literature I can ever remember seeing.

Let's, for the purposes of this post, set aside the misleading generalizations regarding policy in the ad (no one is innocent on that account, obviously). What we are left with is a celebration of a how a woman can live her entire life by leaning on government intervention, dependency and other people's money rather than her own initiative or hard work. It is, I'd say, implicitly un-American, in the sense that it celebrates a mindset we have -- outwardly, at least -- shunned.

It is also a mindset that women should find offensively patronizing. When they're old enough, I hope my two daughters will find the notion that their success hinges on the president's views on college-loan interest rates preposterous. Yet, according to the "Life of Julia," women are helpless without the guiding hand of Barack Obama.

Julia can enroll in a Head Start program to help get her ready for school. Because of steps President Obama has taken to improve the program ... Julia can take the SATs because she was trained by the useless "Race to the Top" program, yes, implemented by President Obama ... During college, Julia undergoes surgery, which is thankfully covered by her insurance due to parents' coverage until she turns 26 ... thanks to Obama.

Julia works as a full-time web designer, and thanks to Obamacare, her health insurance is required to cover birth control and preventive care, "letting Julia focus on her work rather than worry about her health..."

...because children are bad for your health, obviously.

And so on and so forth.

Julia then has a son named Zachary (who has no father around, as far as I can tell) and we can start the entire storyline again.

Finally, Julia retires. "After years of contributing to Social Security, she receives monthly benefits that help her retire comfortably, without worrying that she'll run out of savings...

This allows her to volunteer at a community garden."

If you think Social Security benefits allow you to live your retirement without worry, you deserve Barack Obama.

Most decent people believe that government should be there to assist and help those who find themselves in legitimately rough or desperate circumstances. But an adult Julia, from what I can tell, does not qualify.

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March 26, 2012

Santorum Sounds Silly

There are certainly things to like and admire about Rick Santorum, and I've said before that he's my second choice for the nomination, after which it goes very sharply downhill. But his run-in with New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny was a disaster, and revealed a character flaw that his supporters should think carefully about before continuing to back him. Via NRO:

Yesterday, Rick Santorum said of Mitt Romney that, "Pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama." After the speech, New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny approached Santorum, asking for clarification. A heated exchange ensued, with Santorum insisting he had meant that Romney was the "worst Republican" on the issue of Obamacare to run against Obama, and finally telling Zeleny, "Quit distorting my words. It's bull--- " Video of the exchange:


He tried to defend his tirade this morning on Fox and Friends:

Sounds to me like Rick knows he screwed up.

The bottom line though is that no, Republicans don't curse without a very good reason, and he most certainly did not have one. The reporter's question was appropriate, and just because it came from a publication that is hostile to Republicans in general and conservatism in particular does not justify Santorum's over-the-top reaction.

There are two explanations for his behavior, neither of them good.

  1. The whole thing was an act. He wanted to emulate Newt Gingrich's put down of CNN's John King and chose this moment to do it. If so, then it was astoundingly poorly timed and performed.
  2. He just got mad at Mr. Zeleny. If this is the case then this seriously calls into question whether he has the temperament to be our nominee, much less president.

Mitt Romney may be bland and boring, and he may not be a movement conservative, though as I've said he is a lot more conservative than most people think. Romney will run a solid campaign centered around the correct issue of jobs and the economy and will not commit these sorts of unforced errors.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2012

Headed Downhill and Fast: The Republican Presidential Contest

With Mitt Romneny's losses in Alabama and Mississippi we have the worst of all situations; a sort-of front-runner disliked by his party's base, and unable to pull away from his closest challenger. However second-place close challenger, the Rick Santorum, cannot pull even or ahead because the third place guy, Newt Gingrich, is taking away a significant number of votes that would probably otherwise go to him. The third place guy, Newt Gingrich, will not withdraw because his Mount Everest size ego won't let him. Then there's the fourth-place guy, Ron Paul, who nobody likes but also don't want to offend because they need to keep him from bolting the party and need his supporters votes.

If current voting trends keep up we'll go into the convention without anyone having secured enough committed delegates to win. No matter who wins at the convention, we'll come out of it broke, disorganized, and fractured because we'll have fought each other so long and hard in what will inevitably become a more and more bitter and angry internal battle.

What drives me nuts are people who actually say they want a brokered convention if that's what it'll take "to stop Romney." I think they're nuts. I think that only Romney has any chance of beating Obama, but at this point I just want us to unit around a candidate.

The bottom line is that unless we consolidate around someone before the convention - long before the convention - I see a disaster in the making.

From a story in Washington Times, whose title tells all,

Numbers offer little clarity, no closure in GOP marathon
By Ralph Z. Hallow
March 14, 2012

From one perspective, Tuesday's Republican primaries in Alabama and Mississippi were two more in a long series of contests this year that have left the Republican presidential nomination picture as cloudy as a 1952 DuMont TV screen with rabbit ears.

And the battle among Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich once again frustrates those looking for a consistent theme. This week's results continued a pattern where one or another of the candidates walked off as the clear winner, only to fall back to the pack in subsequent contests, going from surge to dirge.

"Overall, Santorum won one more delegate than Romney and Gingrich, so while it's nice to be the winner, it was obviously a tight three-man race with little separation between the candidates," said Mississippi GOP Chairman Joe Nosef.

"I have never been part of an election this closely divided," said longtime activist Matt Fridy, a member of the Alabama GOP Steering Committee.

This one is just as bad

Romney's delegate gain is still loss of 'cushion'
Makes it harder to wrap up race before convention
By Seth McLaughlin

Mitt Romney extended his lead in delegates in the Republican presidential nomination fight this week, but his hopes of avoiding a contested convention dimmed slightly after third-place finishes in Tuesday night's two biggest contests.

While the former Massachusetts governor won the most delegates overall in Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii and American Samoa, his three opponents -- Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul -- combined to win nearly 60 percent of the delegates awarded on Tuesday. Every night that Mr. Romney wins less than an outright majority makes it tougher for him to capture the magic number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the August convention in Tampa.

"With a handful more delegates off the table, the math got ever so slightly more difficult for Romney and even more impossible for Santorum," said Josh Putnam, a political scientist at Davidson College in North Carolina who runs Frontloading HQ, a blog about the primary race. "Santorum went from impossible to still impossible, and Romney lost a little bit of cushion after last night."

There's too much detail to post here, but there was an excellent post in NRO's The Corner today which goes through the voting trends and delegate math and the conclusion is that "if this continues onward, Romney won't get 1,144 delegates until June, if at all." Maddeningly, several commenters actually think this is a good thing.

What's supremely ironic about all this is that four years ago these same uber-conservatives told us, no insisted, that we had to vote for Mitt Romney "to stop John McCain."

I hope I'm wrong but if this continues much longer, and certainly if we get to the convention without a clear candidate, we've handed Barack Obama a second term on a golden platter.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 9, 2012

Ruminations after Super Tuesday

The results of Super Tuesday 2012 are in, and not much has really changed. Mitt Romney continues to slog towards the nomination, Rick Santorum keeps enough momentum to keep going, Newt Gingrich continues to split the anti-Romney vote with Santorum but at a lower level, and Ron Paul solidifies his status as someone who has a hard-core base of support but in the end can't win anything.

Romney has not and never will be acceptable to the self-identified conservative base, but Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have so many flaws that they will never be able to overtake his lead.

Mitt Romney will win the nomination, and be only slightly better off than John McCain was four years ago with regards to acceptability from the base of the party. But on the other hand he will not make a maverick choice for vice president, but will rather go with someone without Sarah Palin's flaws.

More than that, mitt Romney understands economics in a way that John McCain never did. As a result, at least he will be talking about the right subject.

Romney certainly has other flaws as a candidate other than his problems selling himself to the base. there is the worry that he will not fight hard enough but will be too much of a nice-guy to Obama's thuggishness. I think this is a bit overstated, as he did take down Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum pretty effectively with his ad campaigns in Florida and Michigan respectively, but he does have a problem in this area.

Most of my conservative friends are behind Rick Santorum now, and I can understand why. Except when talking about the social issues, does make the case for our values better, and all-in-all he does have a more solid conservative record. But the "except when talking about the social issues" is the killer; he has a bad habit of saying things that are or will be portrayed to be extreme, and if he is the candidate Obama and his allies in the media will do all that they can to make the campaign about contraception and abortion. Santorum will help by continuing to make ridiculous statements, and this will turn off just enough potential voters that we will lose. That's how I see it anyway.

Ron Paul, as mentioned, has a built-in base and ceiling of support that are one and the same. He's not running to win but to make a point. He does have enough support so that if he splits and runs on a third-party ticket we lose for sure. If he's significantly alienated his supporters will stay home. On the other hand, his views on foreign policy, and the people he has surrounded himself with, are completely unacceptable to the mass of conservatives, and indeed to most people in general. So Republicans are in a quandary; we need the votes of his supporters, but can't really adopt any of his views or we lose everyone else.

It should be remembered that in 2008 Obama and Clinton slugged it out until June before their party settled on a candidate. To be sure, their process is a bit different since they award more delegates on a proportionate system rather than most Republican ones which are winner-take-all, but still. I think now that Mitt Romney is stronger for having gone though more debates and a longer process than if the matter had been settled by Florida or Michigan.

So the contest will continue, but we will have a candidate long before the convention, and it will be Mitt Romney. This is good, because the process will have made him relatively strong and he is the best choice to beat Obama. If elected, he will surprise many of my friends by governing more conservatively than they expect. I just hope he gets the chance.

Posted by Tom at 7:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2012

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum: The Attacks That Will Be Made on Each

All candidates have strengths and weaknesses. In previous posts I have covered the strengths of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. I went over Newt's negatives, and now that he's down in the polls l'm not going to cover him anymore. In this post I'll review the problem we'll face with both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

This is important because if we're going to beat Obama, and we must, then we've got to know what we're going to face once we settle on a candidate.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney will face a challenge from the right and from the left. From the right his problem is that he has not and probably never will excite the conservative base. Selecting someone from the Tea Party right will somewhat ameliorate this, but not entirely. Romney is somewhat more acceptable to the base than McCain was, but the problem will remain and he has some making up to do.

Many conservatives, myself included, are supporting Romney because he seems the least worst choice. This is probably true, and it's also worrisome.

The other, and more serious attack, will come from the left. Winning Our Future, a pro-Newt Gingrich PAC, unhelpfully gave us a pretty good preview of what that will be like with this campaign commercial



"Vulture Capitalist" will be a household term if the Obama campaign and it's allies in the media have their way.

A Capitalist or a Community Organizer?

I wasn't initially going to include this, but I just can't resist coming to the defense of Mitt Romney here. Who do you really want running your country; someone who understands how to create jobs and boost business, or a leftwing agitator whose primary experience is in getting goodies from government for self-designated victims?

Rick Santorum

Santorum won't have much to worry about from the right, but will face a problem from the left and center. John Hinderacker of Powerline sums it up nicely:

Are there Republicans Who Think This is a Good Idea? Seriously?
by John Hinderacker
February 12, 2012

Rick Santorum is a bright, well-intentioned guy. But the idea that he is the strongest candidate the Republicans can nominate for the presidency strikes me, with all due respect, as ludicrous. Put aside the fact that Santorum lost his last race by 18 points in his home state of Pennsylvania: not exactly an auspicious way to kick off a presidential campaign. Rather, consider that Santorum has always been most passionate about the social issues. Is that really what the GOP wants to talk to voters about in 2012, when the country-the Brokest Nation In History, as Mark Steyn puts it-is $15 trillion in debt; when the Obama administration has driven our economy into the most prolonged funk since the Great Depression; and when Barack Obama has instituted the most corrupt system of cronyism in American history? Seriously?

The fate of a Santorum candidacy was foreshadowed this morning in Santorum's appearance on CBS's Face the Nation. Follow the link to read the entire, sad transcript. Here are the questions that Bob Schieffer asked Santorum, verbatim:

You are the leader in the polls this morning. And I have to say you were very busy yesterday. The Associated Press led its story of your appearance in Columbus, Ohio, by saying, quote, "Rick Santorum questioned Barack Obama's Christian values." That was after you lashed out at the President's proposal on energy of all things when you said this.

RICK SANTORUM (Republican Presidential Candidate/Former Pennsylvania Senator): It's not about you. It's not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs.

MAN: Right.

RICK SANTORUM: It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.

(Crowd applauding)

BOB SCHIEFFER: So, Senator, I've got to ask you. What- what in the world were you talking about, Sir?


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, how does that translate into some sort of theology that the President's theology is not based on the Bible. I mean that suggests that he's not a Christian.


BOB SCHIEFFER: I- I don't want to just spend the whole program on this, but was your use of the word theology, perhaps, you could have had a better word than that? I mean, don't you know that, or do you wonder that- that might lead some people to suggest that you were questioning the President's faith?


BOB SCHIEFFER: At another stop in Columbus, you took on the President on prenatal care for expectant mothers. Here's what you said at this- in this passage.

RICK SANTORUM: One of the things that you don't know about Obamacare and one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing in every insurance policy in America. Why? Because it saves money in health care. Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I- I have to ask you to- to give some explanation of that. You sound like you're saying that the purpose of prenatal care is to cause people to- to have abortions, to get more abortions in this country. I think there are any number testing, I think any number of people would- would say that's not the purpose at all.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I- I know you know what you're talking about. I know that well. I know you also had another child that was stillborn. But-

RICK SANTORUM (overlapping): And I was-

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Didn't you want to know about that, just a minute.

(Cross talking)

BOB SCHIEFFER: Just hold on.

RICK SANTORUM: But what my- my child was not stillborn. My child was born alive.


RICK SANTORUM: -and he lived two hours.



BOB SCHIEFFER: I stand corrected on the stillborn. You're absolutely right. I simply misspoke. But, Senator, do you not want any kind of prenatal testing? I mean would we just turn our back on science that this is something that expectant mothers should not go through, that it's best not to know about these things ahead of time? I mean is that what you're saying here?


BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): You're not saying. Let me just ask you, you're not saying that the cause of this, that the President looks down on disabled people, are you? You're not accusing him of that?


BOB SCHIEFFER: And- and how you feel about this. Another thing that raised a few eyebrows yesterday, Senator, you questioned the value of all things at the public school system. Now here's what you said about that.

RICK SANTORUM: But the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly, much less that the state government should be running schools is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home school or have the little neighborhood school and into these big factories. So we built equal factories called public schools.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So, there you are, Senator. I mean, are you saying that we shouldn't have public schools now? I mean I thought public schools were the foundation of American democracy.

Santorum did a reasonably good job of fielding these questions. But does anyone seriously believe that it is in the Republicans' interest for the 2012 presidential election to center on theology and gynecology? Here is Schieffer's last question of Santorum:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I want to thank you very much for being with us this morning. I had hoped to ask you about some questions about the economy. But, frankly, you made so much news yesterday, out there on the campaign trail, I felt compelled to ask you about that. Thank you so much for being with us.

That pretty much says it all. With Santorum launching one social issues bomb after another, there is no time to talk about the economy. Is this the Democratic Party's dream, or what? In a national poll that came out today, Santorum is leading Mitt Romney by eight points among likely Republican voters. Can Republicans possibly be that foolish? Is it conceivable that a president with Obama's lousy record could coast to victory, virtually by default, because the Republicans nominate a candidate who would rather talk about gynecology than debt? At the moment, that prospect does not seem far-fetched.

In short, the Democrats and their allies in the media will try to make the campaign about contraception, abortion, and "women's rights." Santorum will foolishly not shut up about the subjects but will provide just enough ammunition to keep it going.

The Hypocrisy of the Left

Just as I couldn't leave it alone about Mitt Romney, I cannot write this without coming to the defense here too; the left is astoundingly hypocritical about Rick Santorum and the issue of religion.

Never mind that Barack Obama went to what can only be described as a racist church and listened to a kook hatemonger preacher for 20 years, and only left because it became politically expedient to do so. No, Rick Santorum is the bad guy because he follows the teachings of the Catholic Church, the largest and oldest church in Christendom.

Either Romney or Santorum is Better than Obama

I wasn't going to write this either, but once again I feel compelled to say that either Rick Santorum, or for that matter Newt Gingrich would be better than another four years of Barack Obama. The question is, which type of attacks can we fend off better: "Vulture capitalist" or "abortion/contraception extremist?"

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February 19, 2012

More Reasons Why Obama Wants to Talk About Contraception

One reason why President Obama wants to talk about contraception is that he wants to show those Catholics and other Christians who's boss. Another is this:



Chart via Powerline

Here's another:


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February 13, 2012

Will Unforced Errors Cost the GOP the Election?

John Hinderacker at Powerline says something that's been on my mind for some time. I don't think that the election is at all lost for us, just that there are warning signs that despite Obama's weakness we are committing a lot of unforced errors.

Is 2012 Slipping Away from the GOP?
by John Hinderacker
February 9, 2012

For a long time, I was confident that Republican voters would oust Barack Obama in 2012, hold the House and, in all likelihood, take the Senate. Obama is a weak incumbent, who has been chronically unpopular since early in his term. His re-elect numbers are weaker than historically have ever worked for incumbent presidents. On paper, he is ripe for the picking.

Nevertheless, if you are a Republican, the vibes are very bad. The presidential primary season has turned into a disaster, in my view. Mitt Romney has shown a discouraging inability to appeal to the party's base, while the race has damaged both Romney and the party. Newt Gingrich, in particular, sacrificed the party to his own ego by launching left-wing attacks against Romney. Gingrich is gone as a Republican contender, but we will see more of him in the fall, in Obama ads. What a swan song for someone who once led the conservative movement!

Rick Santorum is a bright guy who has performed well in the debates, and he is hot, this week, in the Republican base. But he doesn't have the chance of a snowball in Hell of being elected president. He couldn't even get re-elected to the Senate in his home state of Pennsylvania in 2006. The 2012 election will be almost entirely about the economy, although national security is always relevant to a presidential contest. It would be suicidal for the GOP to nominate a candidate whose signature issues are gay marriage and abortion. At the end of the day, the party won't be that dumb. But the fact that the party's base is flirting with Santorum manifests a lack of seriousness that may prove fatal in November.

Meanwhile, President Obama is quietly staging a comeback. Optimism about the economy is growing at the same time that the Republican Party is, in most peoples' eyes, making a fool of itself, so it is hard to identify the main cause of Obama's resurgence. But you can see Obama's comeback in Scott Rasmussen's Approval Index. Currently, Obama is only -11, compared to -20 or -21, and his overall approval among likely voters is not too bad, at 50/49.


Obama has been nowhere near even in the Approval Index since early in his term. He has, in that respect, an astonishingly low ceiling. Some would say that this makes him unelectable to a second four years. But it is hard to escape the sense that the Republicans are blowing it. Barack Obama has run the national debt up to $15 trillion. Who is talking about that scandal? Jeff Sessions. Paul Ryan. Us. Who else? You shouldn't be able to get a haircut without hearing people talking about our children's debt in the barbershop. And there are fewer Americans working today than when Obama took office, largely as a result of his administration's moronic anti-growth policies. How can a president with such a poor record hope to be re-elected? Why does Obama even have a chance?

The answer is threefold: 1) Barack Obama may be a horrible president, but he is the biggest moneybags in the history of politics. He will raise a billion dollars, plus his SuperPac. The Republican candidate, whoever he may be, will be swamped by Democratic Party, rich liberal and labor union money. And it is worth noting that a large majority of the GOP's activists who now take such an arrogant attitude toward the Republican contenders will contribute little or nothing to the eventual nominee. 2) The press is now falling into ranks, forming a solid phalanx that will try to re-elect their candidate, no matter how disappointed in him they may be. For the next eight or nine months we will see the most nauseating political effort ever undertaken by the "mainstream" liberal press. 3) Sadly, the fratricidal Republican Party has blown its opportunity in the primary season to educate the American people on the economic and foreign policy fiasco that the Obama administration has been.

So, do I think the 2012 election is slipping away from conservatives, Republicans, and the American people? Yes, I do. This is a year in which it was incumbent on conservatives to pursue, soberly, the overriding goal of evicting Barack Obama from the White House. We didn't do that; in fact, it wouldn't be far off the mark to say that we made fools of ourselves by chasing one will o' the wisp after another. I fear that in November, we will pay the price.

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January 25, 2012

William Jefferson Gingrich

R. Emmett Tyrell nails Newt perfectly.

William Jefferson Gingrich
By R. Emmett Tyrrrell, Jr.,
Special to the Sun
January 25, 2012

How long have I been saying it? At least for 15 years, but in private I have been aware of it longer. Newt Gingrich is conservatism's Bill Clinton, but without the charm. He has acquired wit but he has all the charm of barbed wire.

Newt and Bill are 1960s generation narcissists, and they share the same problems: waywardness and deviancy. Newt, like Bill, has a proclivity for girl hopping. It is not as egregious as Bill's, but then Newt is not as drop-dead beautiful. His public record is already besmeared with tawdry divorces, and there are private encounters with the fair sex that doubtless will come out.

If I have heard of some, you can be sure the Democrats have heard of more. Nancy Pelosi's intimations are timely. Newt up against the Prophet Obama would be a painful thing to watch. He might be deft with one-liners but it would be futile. There are independent and other uncommitted voters to be cultivated in 2012 -- all would be unmoved by Newt's juggling of conservative shibboleths.

Newt and Bill, as 1960s generation self-promoters, share the same duplicity, ostentatious braininess, a propensity for endless scrapes with propriety and the law. They are tireless hustlers. Now Newt is hustling my fellow conservatives in this election. The last time around he successfully hustled conservatives in the House of Representatives and then the conservatives on the House impeachment committee.

He blew the impeachment and in fact his role as Speaker. He backed out in disgrace. He now says Republicans in the House were exhausted with his great projects. Nonsense, I knew many of them, and they were exhausted with his atrocious leadership. He is not a leader. He is a huckster. Today Mitt Romney has 72 Congressional endorsements. Newt has 11. Possibly the 11 have yet to meet him.

Now he has found his key for hustling conservative electorate. He is playing the liberal media card and saying he embodies conservative values. Like Bill with his credulous fans, Newt is hoping conservatives suffer amnesia. Possibly some do. Perhaps they cannot recall mere months ago when this insufferable whiz kid was lambasting the great Congressman Paul Ryan for "right-wing social engineering" -- more evidence of Newt's not-so-hidden longing for the approval of the liberal media.

After his Ryan moment Newt's campaign was a death wagon, and it will be so again -- hopefully before he gets the nomination. Conservatives should not climb onto his death wagon. He is a huckster, and I for one will not be rendered a contortionist trying to defend him. I did so in his earliest days and learned my lesson.

After Newt's and Bill's disastrous experiences in government both went on to create empires, Bill in philanthropy and cheap thought, Newt in public policy and cheap thought. As an ex-president Bill has wrung up an unprecedented $75.6 million since absconding from the White House with White House loot and shameless pardons. I do not know how much Newt has amassed, but he got between $1.6 million to $1.8 million from Freddie Mac, and he lobbied for Medicare Part B while receiving, according to the Washington Examiner's Tim Carney, "Big Bucks Pushing Corporate Welfare." Now after a lifetime in Washington he is promoting himself as an outsider.

Contending with Newt for the Republican nomination are Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney. All three are truer conservatives than Newt. I like them all. But John Bolton, former ambassador the United Nations, and John Lehman, President Reagan's secretary of the navy, are for Mitt, and they are solid conservatives. Governor Christie and the economic pundit Larry Kudlow laud Mitt on taxes, on spending, and on attacking crony capitalism. Mr. Kudlow calls Mr. Romney "Reaganesque." Ann Coulter seems to loathe Newt. That is good enough for me.

Back in 1992 I appeared with Chris Matthews on some gasbag's television show. Was it Donohue? At any rate, I said candidate Clinton had more skeletons in his closet than a body snatcher. It was a prescient line then, and I always got a laugh. I can apply the same line today to Newt, though he has skeletons both inside and outside his closet.

Conservatives should not be surprised by the scandals that lie ahead, if they stick with him. Those of us, who raised the question of character in 1992, were confronted by an indignant Bill Clinton, treating the topic as a low blow. To listen to him, character was the "c" word of American politics. It was reprehensible to mention it. By now we know. Character matters. Paul, Santorum, and Romney have it. Newt has Clinton's character.

Mr. Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator.

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January 24, 2012

Newt Gingrich and the Question of Morality in Candidates

Sadly, the stalwarts in my party seem intent on nominating candidates of dubious moral character. First the favorite was Herman Cain, now it's Newt Gingrich. They supported Cain, and are supporting Gingrich, because they are the more conservative candidates and because they are somewhat exciting. Rick Santorum is equally conservative but is not exciting. But Santorum is not polling well enough to be a serious threat for the nomination, so we'll leave him out of this.

Mitt Romney is derided as the "Massachusetts moderate," and for good reason. Yet compared to Cain and Gingrich he's a model of moral character. He's a good family man, has only had one wife with no allegations of fooling around or even a wandering eye, and no scandal to his name(other than whatever nonsense the leftists will invent).

At this point I should mention that I do think that at least some of the charges against Cain were true, and my guess is that given Newt's tawdry past, Marianne Gingrich was telling the truth about that "open marriage" proposal as well. Which brings us to today's editorial from conservative stalwart Wesley Pruden.

Newt Gingrich and the 'moral thing'
By Wesley Pruden
The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Politicians can't any longer talk about "moral character" without sounding like a stuffy Baptist deacon or a stiff Presbyterian elder. "Moral character" is no longer important in a presidential campaign, even to many conservatives and evangelicals. If it is important anymore, it is only as a talking point.

This was not always so. Barry Goldwater struck the match that ignited the modern conservative movement in 1964, and the tinder that fed the fire was "moral character."

Nelson Rockefeller was the odds-on favorite to be the Republican presidential nominee that year. Everybody said so. But early in the season he discarded his wife of many years, married a younger woman named Happy and survived, but only barely, as a credible candidate. He entered the crucial California primary, which was then the final test leading to the national nominating convention, as the favorite.

Alas, nature intervened. Happy delivered their first child only days before the primary, reminding everyone again of what was widely regarded as "the sordid Rockefeller romance." Barry Goldwater won the primary, the nomination, and lost the election to Lyndon B. Johnson in a landslide.

We've come a long way since then. The wild and wanton decade of the '60s swept away standards like so much household trash and celebrity replaced "moral character" as a crucial qualification for high office. Progress: it's wonderful.

Newt Gingrich testifies to that. Newt thinks anything goes. He may be correct. Wife No. 2 revealed that when Newt demanded an "open marriage" in the spirit of fair play so he could share his wondrous self with all the women demanding to be let into his bed, she asked how he squared that with his blabber and bloviation about "family values." That was easy. "People want to hear what I have to say," he told her. "It doesn't matter what I do."

Good ol' Bubba, bless his pea-picking heart, had a Hot Springs sense of shame that instructed him to lie about it, even though it led to impeachment and the humiliation of a nation that twice bestowed its highest honor on him. "I did not have sex with that woman," he famously said, and then, as if trying to remember which one, added: " ... Miss Lewinsky." Newt not only has no shame, but doesn't understand why anyone thinks he should. "It's not about sex," says Victoria Toensing, a sometime television commentator and the lawyer for Wife No. 2, nor was it "about a wife rejected. Rather it was an insight into the persona of Newt. When he gets power he believes the rules do not apply to him."

You can't blame the slippery Newt for thinking so. But you can blame public inattention to the evidence of who he is. On election night in South Carolina the interlocutor for a CNN-TV focus group asked a young woman, identified as an evangelical Christian, why she supports Newt. She replied earnestly that it was important to have someone speak up "for morality." Many conservatives have so despaired of finding someone who will return with interest the media mockery of the standards and values that served us for so long that they're willing to cheer a four-flusher's shameless hypocrisy as the tribute that vice pays to virtue. Newt's a clever pol who understands that newspaper and television reporters and columnists are fat, easy and inviting targets.

Mitt Romney, who will never be mistaken for the people's choice, is nevertheless finally going on the attack -- not for Newt's unimaginative lady-killing but for his lack of any qualities that would make him a president the country could be proud of. "He's gone from pillar to post almost like a pinball machine," Mr. Romney said. "From item to item, in a way which is highly erratic. It does not suggest a stable, thoughtful course, which is normally associated with leadership."

Newt revels endlessly in his favorite subject. This is the common trait of politicians, of course, but Newt loves to talk and talk and talk, words colliding crazily with every vagrant thought that wanders into his head. He could never be trusted with a security clearance because he babbles about everything in an undisciplined stream of consciousness. "I think you can write a psychological profile of me," he once told interviewer Gail Sheehy, "that says I found a way to immerse my insecurities in a cause large enough to justify whatever I wanted it to."

This qualifies him as a terrific subject for a newspaper interview. But for a president, not so much.

• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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January 21, 2012

Newt's Negatives: "America does not love Romney, but boy do they hate Newt"

Via the Washington Examiner, this is a chart showing the combined Favorable/Unfavorable ratings of President Obama with the two major Republican contenders, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. The chart shows the favorable number minus the unfavorable number. If the result is a positive number, the bar goes upward. If negative, downward.

Favorables Candidates

Here are the three surveys that went into the composite figures in the chart:

Fox News, 1/12-1/14:
Obama, fav/unfav, 51%/46%, +5
Romney, fav/unfav, 45%/38%, +7
Gingrich, fav/unfav, 27%/56%, -29

CBS/NYT, 1/12-1/17:

Obama, fav/unfav, 38%/45%, -7
Romney, fav/unfav, 21%/35%, -14
Gingrich, fav/unfav, 17%/49%, -32

PPP, 1/13-1/17:
Obama, app/dis, 47%/50%, -3
Romney, fav/unfav, 35%/53%, -18
Gingrich, fav/unfav, 26%/60%, -34

As the author comments, "America does not love Romney, but boy do they hate Newt."

No kidding.

RealClearPolitics Composite Poll

Don't think it's just the polls above that have Gingrich so far down, because the RealClearPolitics composite show Obama destroying everyone except Mitt Romney:

Obama v Romney
46.9% Obama
45.0% Romney

Obama v Gingrich
50.6% Obama
39.6% Gingrich

Obama v Santorum
50.1% Obama
40.3% Santorum

So if anyone should drop out to consolidate the non-Romney field, it's not Santorum, it's Gingrich.


I am frankly astounded that Newt Gingrich is doing as well as he is. Ever since he resigned as Speaker, I've always held the same opinion of him; great policy analyst, brilliant speaker, articulate defender of the conservative cause, and terrible candidate. No way I ever imagined he'd ever win the nomination because the other Republican candidates would expose his weaknesses in a flash.

The explanation, though, is a pretty simple one; the rest of the field is pathetically weak. Herman Cain and Rick Perry were jokes. Ron Paul is a nut, and not a conservative. Rick Santorum is boring and looks like he's about 30 years old. Mitt Romney is not really a conservative and comes across like a wind-up Ken doll.

Another problem is the debate-heavy format of the Republican primary system. This is crazy because it favors the candidate who has the best debating skills, not necessarily the best campaigner or who would be the best president. We're only going to get three debates with Obama, and Gingrich is nuts if he thinks he's going to get the series of Lincoln-Douglas debates he wants. But Newt shines in debates, so this format favors him.

Further, Newt Gingrich does have some good history. It was he who single-handedly changed the mindset of House Republicans in the 80s and early 90s and instilled the attitude that we could capture control of that body. Before he came along we had pretty much resigned ourselves to permanent minority status. Newt was the original "Yes We Can" man, and sure enough, he did.

Newt Gingrich will therefore have a secure spot in he conservative hall of fame. He's a great speaker and if he wasn't running for president I would pay good money to see him.

But the numbers above should give even his most ardent defenders pause. It's one thing to not have a high favorable as long as your negatives are low (meaning people aren't sure about you, the number need not add up to 100). This simply means you have to come across well the a vast body of undecideds. Hard, but hardly impossible.

But high negatives mean you have to first convince them you're not the devil, then second convince them to vote for you. This is not just hard, it's just about impossible.

The fact is that once you get out of hard-right Republican circles, Newt Gingrich is hated. And this isn't just a recent development; it's been this way since a year or two after he took over as Speaker. You simply cannot turn this level of negative opinion about a candidate around.

Mitt Romney can't close the deal with the Republican/conservative base, and Newt will never close it with the independent swing voters. However, if nominated, most of the Republican/conservative base will vote and even campaign for Romney, because he will most assuredly pick a hard-right Tea Party type running mate like Senators Jim DeMint and Marco Rubio, or Representative Michelle Bachmann.

Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, will have the Republican/conservative base all sewn up if he wins. However, he will never win the independent swing voters.

So I retain my assessment of a few weeks ago; it'll be hard for Mitt Romney to beat Obama, very difficult for Rick Santorum, and impossible for Newt Gingrich.

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January 10, 2012

Romney Wins New Hampshire, Looks Like Those Class Warfare Attacks Didn't Work

Via Yahoo News the AP has former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney winning big:

MANCHESTER, N.H.--Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, the second state in a row he has carried in his campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Romney is the first Republican, not including incumbent presidents, to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary since Iowa Republicans began holding their first-in-the-nation caucuses in 1976.

Ron Paul is expected to come in second; Jon Huntsman will take third.

(Updated) The final results are:

39.4% Romney
22.9% Paul
16.8% Huntsman
9.4% Gingrich
9.3% Santorum
0.7% Perry

Paul has a built-in base and ceiling so in a way he doesn't count. What's revealing, then, is how strong Romney is and how weak Gingrich and Santorum are. If Romney can do well in South Carolina he's on his way to the nomination, if not it'll be a long process.

But either way those class warfare attacks by his fellow Republicans aren't taking hold. Thankfully

A Quick Mitt Bio

via Wikipedia. I think I have this right but if you see an error let me know please

  • 1947 born in Detroit Michigan
  • 1965 est. Started dating future wife Ann Davies as senior in High School
  • 1966 - 1969 Mormon missionary in France
  • 1969 married Ann
  • 1971 undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University
  • 1975 MBA from Harvard Law School
  • 1976 Boston Consulting Group
  • 1977 Bain & Company
  • 1978 made Vice President
  • 1984 co-founded spin-off Bain Capital
  • 1990 returned to Bain & Company as CEO
  • 1994 US Senate campaign against incumbent Ted Kennedy, lost 58 - 41 percent, Kennedy's narrowest victory in his eight campaigns. Romney stepped down from Bain to run.
  • 1995 - 2002 Bain & Company
  • 2002 CEO of Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympics
  • 2003 - 2007 Governor of Massachusetts
  • 2008 ran for president in the Republican primary
  • 2012 running for president in the Republican primary

Whatever you want to say about his position on the issues, a few things are clear

  1. He is not a career politician
  2. He has more business experience than the rest of the field, and Barack Obama and Joe Biden, combined
  3. He is no inside-the-beltway type

So What's the Fuss About?

From the Washington Times:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized Mr. Romney for his work at the helm of Bain Capital, where he gives himself credit for creating at least 100,000 jobs. Opponents of the former Massachusetts governor argue that he specialized instead in takeovers and layoffs.

"It is the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to say he feels your pain when he caused it," said Mr. Perry, campaigning in Anderson, S.C.

Mr. Gingrich said on NBC's "Today" show, "At some point, Gov. Romney has to hold a news conference and walk through in detail some of the companies that Bain took over where they apparently looted the companies, left people unemployed and walked off with millions of dollars.

I expect this nonsense from Democrats. That it's coming from Republicans is shocking.

Everyone knows Perry's a dope. Gingrich, however, is supposed to be Mr Genius (at least according to my friends who support him). And this is his line of attack?

What gets me is that there are many legitimate things to go after Romney on. Romneycare is just about the same as Obamacare. His flips on the social issues are disturbing. And then there's the worry that he won't hit Obama hard but will be Mr Nice Guy instead.

In a post on NRO a few days ago titled Conservatives vs. Capitalism, Jay Nordlinger alerted me to the controversy a few days ago (I've just been too busy to really follow the news). Nordlinger made a point that now seems obvious but which I hadn't even thought, about, and it is that along among the Republicans running for president, "Romney defends and explains capitalism."

Over and over, Romney defends and explains capitalism. And he's supposed to be the RINO and squish in the race? That's what I read in the conservative blogosphere, every day. What do you have to do to be a "real conservative"? Speak bad English and belch? ...

Now Romney has said, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I want to say, 'You know, I'm going to get someone else to provide that service to me.'" Simple, elementary competition. Capitalism 101. And conservatives go, "Eek, a mouse!"

I could go on: the $10,000 bet, the pink slips, conservatives wetting their pants, over and over. They have no appetite to defend capitalism, to persuade people, to encourage them not to fall for the old socialist and populist crap. I fled the Democratic party many years ago. And one of the reasons was, I couldn't stand the class resentment, the envy, the hostility to wealth, the cries of "Richie Rich!" And I hear them from conservatives, at least when Romney is running.

Go ahead, have your "bloodbath" in South Carolina. Make Romney the little guy in the top hat and tails, from the Monopoly game. Have your Santorum, your Perry, your Newt. They may carry something like four states in the fall, but at least they've never sullied their hands with -- eek! -- business.

Perhaps after the election, while Obama is deepening the country's poverty, Romney and others like him can find a party friendly to capitalism. We conservative Republicans turn out to be cradle-to-gravers, like everyone else.

Ditto that.

I've been laid off, and it stinks. But the fastest way to permanent economic recession is to prevent business from making itself efficient through reallocation of resources... a fancy way to say "lay people off.

Huntsman, Perry, and Gingrich are making fools of themselves. None of them have any significant time in the private sector, so what do they know about running a profitable business? Answer as has been revealed by their words; almost nothing.

Romney's words were probably poorly chosen, and that is a lesson for him the general election, should he win the nomination. Saying the right thing the wrong way is just as bad, if not worse, than saying the wrong thing the right way. You can turn people off and lose an election with one poorly chosen sentence or phrase.

That said, as the editors of National Review point out, as painful as it is to "reorganize" a company, in the end everyone is better off, including the people let go. Having been there myself, you're better off being let go from a company that is going downhill or where your skills don't match and taking a hit for awhile to end up better off. As the editors point out,

As you can imagine, companies that are buyout targets often are in very poor shape, and reviving them is no small thing. Many of them go into bankruptcy. Product lines are discontinued, retail locations are closed, assets are sold off, and, almost inevitably, jobs are lost. Some never recover. When the restructuring is successful, reinvigorated firms expand, add locations, develop new products, and create jobs. That is the creative destruction of capitalism. Staples has 2,000 stores instead of one store because of a Bain investment. And, as Herman Cain is well-positioned to appreciate, Burger King was severely underperforming when Bain and a group of franchise owners acquired it from corporate parent Diageo in 2002. The restructured burger chain, which went public a few years back, is now valued at more than $3 billion. Household names from Dunkin' Donuts to Guitar Center have been among Bain's projects.

It's shameful enough that Obama and company are going to to play the class (and race) card against Romney. We don't need it from fellow Republicans.


The Weekly Standard has the definitive breakdown of the results by demographic, political affiliation, and more. Follow the link for the details, but here is the bottom line:

We have heard a lot over the last couple months about the anti-Romney sentiment in the Republican party. However, this statistic suggests that, in New Hampshire at any rate, Romney is the only candidate with whom a majority of the party is satisfied. The rest of the candidates seem to have alienated more than half of the GOP.

That is Romney's biggest advantage, far and away.

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January 8, 2012

Santorum Will Do

While I'm sticking with my selection of Mitt Romney as the Republican most likely to beat Obama, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum stands the next best chance. He is, as Charles Krauthammer says, a worthy challenger.

One thing I want to say to my conservative friends before we get to the editorial; lay off the media conspiracy nonsense. The Republican establishment and the liberal media are forcing Romney on us! We're not being given a choice! and so on.

Cut it out. The media are simply reporting poll numbers. I am sorry if these numbers do not reflect your wishes but they are what they are. They are not ignoring any candidate, as reflected by the fact that as soon as Paul and Santorum surged in the polls they got all the media attention they wanted.

As for the dreaded "establishment," these are the people who have actually won elections as opposed to people who lose them and they spend their time complaining. Interestingly, I've noticed that when Tea Party types win elections they suddenly decided that being in power doesn't make you "establishment" after all. Got it. It's mostly just become an all--purpose insult to hurl at Republicans you don't like.

Enough of that. On to Krauthammer:

A Worthy Challenger
After Iowa, Santorum emerges as Romney's greatest threat.
National Review
January 6, 2012 12:00 A.M.
By Charles Krauthammer

After every other conservative alternative to Mitt Romney crashed and burned (libertarian Ron Paul is in a category of his own), from the rubble emerges Rick Santorum. But he isn't just the last man standing. He is the first challenger to be plausibly presidential: knowledgeable, articulate, experienced, of stable character and authentic ideology.

He'd been ignored largely because he appeared unelectable -- out of office for five years, having lost his Senate seat in Pennsylvania by a staggering 17 points in 2006.

However, with his virtual tie for first in Iowa, he sheds the loser label and seizes the momentum, meaning millions of dollars' worth of free media to make up for his lack of money. He's got the stage to make his case, plus the luck of a scheduling quirk: If he can make it through the next three harrowing primaries, the (relative) February lull would allow him to build a national campaign structure before Super Tuesday on March 6.

Santorum's electoral advantage is sociological: His common-man, working-class sensibility would be highly appealing to battleground-state Reagan Democrats. His fundamental problem is ideological: He's a deeply committed social conservative in a year when the country is obsessed with the economy and when conservatism is obsessed with limited government. Republicans, after all, swept the 2010 election on economic concerns and opposition to big government. The tea-party revolution was not about gay marriage. Which is why so much tea-party fervor attaches to Paul.

Santorum did win the tea-party vote in Iowa. But because he was such a longshot, his record did not receive much scrutiny. It will now. He is no austere limited-government constitutionalist. He participated in George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism," which largely made peace with big government. Santorum, for example, defends earmarks and supported No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. It's a perfectly defensible philosophy -- but now he'll be called upon to actually defend it.

Moreover, Iowa is anomalous. It's not just that the Republican electorate is disproportionately evangelical and thus highly receptive to Santorum's social conservatism (as it was to Mike Huckabee's in 2008). It's that Iowa's economy is unusually healthy, with only 5.7 percent unemployment, high agricultural prices, and strong real-estate values. Although the economy did rate as a major issue in the entrance poll, in such relative prosperity it registers more as a concern for the nation than as a visceral personal issue -- diminishing the impact of Romney's calling card, economic competence.

For his part, Romney remains preternaturally inert. His numbers, his demeanor, his campaign are flat-line steady: no highs, no lows, no euphoria, no panic.

With one minor exception. Romney wasn't expected to do very well in Iowa. A top-three finish would have been good; a first or second, a surprising success. But feeling his Iowa prospects rise, he let fly a last-minute high. (Two hairs were seen dangling over his forehead.) He began touting his chance of winning, thus gratuitously raising expectations.

That turned a hairline victory into something of a setback, accentuating his inability to break out of his flat-line 25 or so percent support. How flat? His final 2012 Iowa vote count deviated from his 2008 total of 30,021 by six votes. (Not six percent, but a party of six.)

For a front-runner who can't seem to expand his base, he's been fortunate that the opposition has been so split. But the luck stops here. Michele Bachmann is gone. Rick Perry will skip New Hampshire, then dead-man-walk through South Carolina. And then there is Newt.

Gingrich is staying in. This should be good news for Romney. It's not. In his Iowa non-concession speech, Gingrich was seething. He could not conceal his fury with Paul and Romney for burying him in negative ads. After singling out Santorum for praise, Gingrich launched into them both, most especially Romney.

Gingrich speaks of aligning himself with Santorum against Romney. For Newt's campaign, this makes absolutely no strategic sense. Except that Gingrich is after vengeance, not victory. Ahab is loose in New Hampshire, stalking his great white Mitt.

What a lineup. Santorum and Gingrich go after Romney. Paul, Romney's unspoken ally, needs to fight off Santorum in order to emerge as both number-one challenger and Republican kingmaker -- leader of a movement demanding respect, attention, and concessions. And Jon Huntsman goes after everybody.

Is this any way to pick a president? Absolutely. It works. It winnows. And it has produced, after just one contest, an admirably worthy conservative alternative to Romney.

Posted by Tom at 8:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 5, 2012

Update on the GOP Field

Gingrich's star has fallen, and Santorum's has risen. What to make of this?

Between the three front runners, I figure that the probability of each beating Obama is: Gingrich; terrible, Santorum; poor, and Romney, less than likely. In other words, I'm not optimistic about anyone winning, but everything I see still tells me that Romney stands the best chance, especially if he picks a Tea Party-type running mate, which he assuredly will.

Ron Paul has a built in ceiling that he will never exceed, so we can eliminate him as a serious contender. Only in the fantasy world of his... "exuberant" ... base can he win.

My conservative friends who favor Gingrich mostly base their support on his ability to debate. This is not for nothing, and indeed he would do the best of any of the Republicans against Obama. But he's only going to get three debates (his idea of a series of Lincoln-Douglass debates is a fantasy), and he'll be so far down in the polls by they time they come around that they won't save him. More than that, it's not as if Santorum and Romney are not good debaters themselves.

By the time the end of his term as Speaker came around (1994-98), Gingrich was one of the most unpopular politicians in America. This alone should give even his most ardent supporters pause.

Quite unlike Gingrich, Rick Santorum has a lot of good qualities that would make him an acceptable candidate. He is a pretty solid conservative (none are perfect) and well spoken. He is telegenic, but unfortunately with a touch of boyishness that will hurt him. He won a Senate race twice in Pennsylvania, a state with a decent number of electoral votes (20) and one that is in the northeast, an area of the country the GOP cannot concede.

On the downside he is known mostly as a social conservative. While I like this, I realize it doesn't play well on the national stage. It's ok to be a social conservative, but it has to be somewhat in the background, and Santorum has a habit of saying things that are a bit overboard and can be used against him. Most of the "scandals" that are alleged against him seem inside baseball to me and mostly exaggerated by liberals who don't like that he's an unabashed social conservative... but that's just the point. He also lost his last Senate election by a whopping 18 points, and although there are some mitigating factors (2006 was just a bad year for Republicans), it's still a big margin.

I am ideologically closest to Michell Bachmann, but I never gave her a serious chance of winning either the nomination or the White House. You simply have to prove you can win something bigger than a House seat before you're going to be taken seriously for the White House. Worse, as much as I agree with her I am forced to recognize that she just has a way of sounding extreme to the average voter. While that plays well with the base, it scares the vital swing voters.

In the end, I could live with Santorum as our nominee, though he would face a more uphill battle than Romney. I would be much more despondent if it turns out to be Gingrich, who is just so erratic and temperamental that I'd be on edge the entire election.

And there is a big benefit to having a true conservative like Santorum doing well, even if he doesn't eventually win, and that is to push Romney to the right. If he is to be our nominee, we need to hold his feet to the fire on the issues that are the most important to us.

None of this is, of course, to say that Mitt Romney would not face serious challenges. Very few (and I mean as in counting on one hand) of the activist base of Republicans/conservatives that I know (and I'm pretty active so I know a lot) support Romney. From that standpoint it would be John McCain Part II. He could mitigate much of the doubt, and generate a lot of enthusiasm, by picking a Tea Party candidate like Senators Marco Rubio or Jim DeMint, but it's still always better to have that on the top of the ticket rather than the bottom.

On the upside Romney himself would be a far better candidate than McCain ever could be. He's more telegenic, even-tempered, and would run a better campaign.

We're done with Iowa, and it's on to New Hampshire. I'll write another post on the election when the results are in on that one.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 3, 2012

Jeff Kuhner: If Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee, conservatives must back him

Jeff Kuhner is a solid conservative who faces the reality of a probable Romney nomination, and what conservatives should do:

Is Mitt the one?
If he's the GOP nominee, conservatives must back him
The Washington Times
By Jeffrey T. Kuhner
January 3, 2012

Mitt Romney is on the verge of delivering a knockout blow. The former Massachusetts governor leads in the polls heading into the Iowa caucuses. If he wins, especially by a large margin, he almost certainly will capture the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10. Mr. Romney will have all the momentum, the big donors and - most importantly - the air of inevitability going into South Carolina and Florida. He may then be unstoppable in becoming the Republican presidential nominee.

That begs the question: Should conservatives support him? Mr. Romney is not a man of the right. Rather, he is a pragmatic technocrat who champions efficiency and market-driven growth. He is primarily a businessman, a numbers cruncher with a fetish for data and "analytical models." He represents the GOP's green-eyeshade wing: Budgets need to be balanced, spending never should outstrip revenues. It's not sexy; it's not inspirational; and it's not even truly conservative. A Romney presidency would not hack away at Social Security or Medicare. It would not substantially roll back big government, and it would not restore federalism and substantially devolve power to the states. In short, a Romney victory represents a triumph for the Republican establishment.

Yet Mr. Romney has one overriding virtue: He can defeat President Obama. In our television age, Mr. Romney has numerous strengths. He is very telegenic, he is attractive, and he looks presidential. Moreover, his moderate politics means he appeals to a vast spectrum of voters - independents, suburban women and disaffected Democrats. He can cobble together a majority electoral coalition.

Those who claim Mr. Obama can be trounced easily are living in a fantasy world. Despite his dismal performance and the sclerotic economy, the president has several strong assets. He has the power of incumbency. He has the mainstream media propping him up. Most important, he has bribed large segments of the electorate. Contrary to popular myth, liberalism has nothing to do with compassion. It is about expanding government in the service of power. Mr. Obama simply has been following the model established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Use massive public spending to buy votes. The nearly $1 trillion stimulus, Obamacare, the auto bailouts, nationalizing the student loan industry, record numbers of Americans on food stamps, the unprecedented extensions of unemployment insurance, Wall Street and housing bailouts, billions spent on the "green" economy and the record deficits - all have created potent political constituencies dependent upon government handouts. They will do almost anything to re-elect Mr. Obama; their very livelihoods are at stake.

This is why conservatives should not only rally behind Mr. Romney if he becomes the Republican nominee but support him enthusiastically. Mr. Obama is the most radical, destructive president in living memory. Defeating him is the most important issue for conservatives; everything else pales in comparison.

There is another reason to support a Romney candidacy: He will repeal Obamacare. Its costs are kicking in already. The benefits, however, don't really start until 2014. Obamacare is the president's signature legislation. It is a multitrillion-dollar entitlement that not only imposes government-run health care and rationing but threatens to break America economically. Its massive costs can only be paid through permanently high taxes. Its sole purpose is to fuse the middle class to a public health care system, making it dependent upon government handouts. It is central to his social-democratic agenda of transforming America into a European-style nanny state. Once the benefits - and the resulting dependency - begin, there will be no turning back. The 2012 election is the last chance to rescind it. After that, as with Social Security and Medicare, any attempts to reform it - never mind repeal it - will be denounced as "right-wing social engineering."

Mr. Romney's passage of universal health care in Massachusetts is well-known. It served as the basis for Obamacare - especially the individual mandate to purchase insurance. Mr. Romney is vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy from Democrats. Yet repeal is a seminal plank of his campaign platform. Should he win the White House, he could not - and would not - reverse himself. The result would be political self-destruction. Hence, Mr. Romney would block America's dangerous slide toward socialism and economic ruin.

Mr. Romney is someone who specializes in resuscitating dying companies. He spent decades at Bain Capital doing precisely that. America is like Lehman Brothers - overleveraged, overextended and drowning in debt. Mr. Romney aims to cut out the fat and fire the dysfunctional, failed old management; he will unleash the animal spirits of the private economy. He can reverse our decline and turn around the giant bankrupt corporation that is America.

The 2012 election is about one central reality: We are going broke. If the current trajectory continues, America will be Greece in four years. The country will have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. America will be crushed by its national debt, runaway deficits and huge entitlements. There will be no one to bail us out - not China, the European Union or the International Monetary Fund. We will be insolvent, racked by skyrocketing inflation and high unemployment, our social safety net shredded and riots in the streets. We will no longer be a prosperous republic; rather, we will look more like a disintegrating Third World nation. We are in the midst of a crisis. Ideological purity is a luxury we can no longer afford. If Mr. Romney wins the GOP nomination, I will back him. So should every conservative.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.

Posted by Tom at 8:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mitt Romney: More Conservative Than You Think

This won't make a lot of conservatives happy but I think John Hinderacker at Powerline has it about right:

More on Romney's Record
John Hinderacker
January 1, 2012

A few days ago, I endorsed Mitt Romney. In the course of that endorsement, I noted that he had "a solid record of conservative accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts," but didn't elaborate. This post explains why I think Romney's record in office was solidly conservative.

First, here is Romney himself discussing, briefly, his term as Governor of Massachusetts:

The Club For Growth, a relatively purist group, gave Romney's term a mixed but generally favorable review. Here are some highlights:

Governor Romney's single term contained some solid efforts to promote pro-growth tax policy. In May of 2004, Mitt Romney proposed cutting the state's income tax rate from 5.3% to 5.0%--a measure Massachusetts voters had approved in a 2000 referendum, but was blocked by the State Legislature in 2002. The proposed tax cut would have provided $675 million in relief over a year and a half. When the Massachusetts Legislature refused to budge, Romney proposed the same tax cut in 2005 and again in 2006 with no success. Romney was more successful when he took on the State Legislature for imposing a retroactive tax on capital gains earnings. After a bloody fight, Romney succeeded in passing a bill preventing the capital gains tax from being applied retroactively, resulting in a rebate of $275 million for capital gains taxes collected in 2002. ...

Governor Romney's record on spending must be considered within the liberal political context in which he governed. ... On balance, his record comes out more positive than negative, especially when one considers that average spending increased only 2.22% over his four years, well below the population plus inflation benchmark of nearly 3%. ...

Governor Romney successfully consolidated the social service and public health bureaucracy and restructured the Metropolitan District Commission. Romney even eliminated half of the executive branch's press positions, saving $1.2 million. He also used his emergency fiscal powers to make $425 million worth of cuts in 2006, taking particular aim at local earmarks, instead of allowing the Legislature to dip into the state's $1.2 billion rainy day fund. While there is no question that Governor Romney's initial fiscal discipline slacked off in the second half of his term, on balance, he imposed some much-needed fiscal discipline on a very liberal Massachusetts Legislature.

On welfare and entitlements, Romney's record was excellent:

As governor, Romney pushed for important changes to Massachusetts expansive welfare system. Although federal welfare reform passed in 1995, Massachusetts was woefully behind, relying on a waiver to bypass many of the legislation's important requirements. Romney fought for legislation that would bring Massachusetts' welfare system up to date with federal standards by increasing the number of hours each week recipients must work and establishing a five-year limit for receiving benefits. Much to his credit and to the dismay of many Massachusetts liberals, Romney successfully forced Medicaid recipients to make co-payments for some services and successfully pushed for legislative action forcing new state workers to contribute 25% of their health insurance costs, up from 15%. Governor Romney also deserves praise for proposing to revolutionize the Massachusetts state pension system by moving it from a defined benefit system to a defined contribution system.

Those achievements are reminiscent of Scott Walker's. Romney's record on regulation was also very good:

He also vetoed a "card check" bill that would allow unions to organize without a secret ballot election. As governor, he often clashed with the knee-jerk anti-business Legislature over his attempts to ease Massachusetts' regulatory burdens. Though some of his largest undertakings were ultimately crushed by liberal opposition, Governor Romney deserves praise for attempting to change the relationship between government and private enterprise for the better. These efforts include:

* Pushed to revamp the Pacheco Law, a union-backed measure that makes it nearly impossible to privatize or outsource state services
* Aggressively pushed to deregulate Massachusetts' "Soviet-style" auto insurance industry. Massachusetts is the only state in which the government mandates maximum insurance rates and requires insurers to accept every applicant
* Called for the privatization of the University of Massachusetts medical school
* Proposed measures to eliminate civil service protection for all municipal workers except police and firefighters and exempt low-cost public construction jobs from the state's wage law
* Proposed easing decades-old state regulations on wetlands
* Proposed easing pricing regulations on Massachusetts retailers
* Signed a bill streamlining the state's cumbersome permitting process for new businesses
* Eased regulations for brownfield development
* Vetoed a bill limiting the ability of out-of-state wineries to ship directly to Massachusetts consumers, calling the legislation "anti-consumer"

When Romney took office, Massachusetts's legislature was 85% Democratic. Rather than just trying to get along, Romney battled the Democrats, issuing more than 800 vetoes, the vast majority of which were overridden. Many of those vetoes were not politically popular. For example, he vetoed an increase in the minimum wage, explaining "there's no question raising the minimum wage excessively causes a loss of jobs."

The Cato Institute-another commendably purist organization-publishes biannual ratings of America's governors. These ratings tend to be low, as very few meet Cato's exacting standards. Still, they are useful for purposes of comparison. In 2006, near the end of Romney's term, Cato gave him a score of 55 on its fiscal policy report card. Not great? Well, Romney tied Tim Pawlenty in Cato's ranking system, and scored better than such stalwarts as Haley Barbour, Jeb Bush, John Hoeven and Mitch Daniels.

All of this must be viewed in the context of Romney's governing a very blue state. Unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, he didn't go native after losing many battles with a Democratic legislature. Moreover, while my emphasis is not on the social issues, Evangelicals For Mitt point out that even in that realm, his record is more conservative than is commonly known:

If you think Bay State Democrats aren't any different from their Arkansas or Alabama or Tennessee counterparts, try defending traditional marriage or vetoing stem-cell funding up in Boston, as Governor Romney did, and see what they do. But Governor Romney did -- in addition to helping turn the economy around, opposing driver's licenses and in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants, and defending Catholic Charities' right to restrict adoptions to man-woman couples.

Taken as a whole, I think it is fair to judge Romney's record in office "solidly conservative." Of course, this discussion leaves out Romneycare. That will be the subject of another post.

In short, Governor Romney made the best of a bad situation in Massachusetts.

All of the Republican candidates have serious faults, Romney included. It is not so much that I am enthusiastic about him, more that I choose him because he has fewer faults than the rest. Far fewer, I think. He stands the best chance by far of beating Obama, which has to count for a lot.

This said, I will support the eventual Republican nominee, regardless of who that is, except for Ron Paul. If he somehow gets the nomination I will quit the party and work only for the local Republican candidate of my choice.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 29, 2011

Ann Coulter is... gasp... Right ! !

Normally I don't have a lot of use for Ann Coulter as my general perception is that she's a far-right bomb thrower who makes our side look bad, but this column of hers forces me to make a reassessment:

Only One Candidate is Right on the Two Most Important issues,br> by Ann Coulter
December 28, 2011

In the upcoming presidential election, two issues are more important than any others: repealing Obamacare and halting illegal immigration. If we fail at either one, the country will be changed permanently.

Taxes can be raised and lowered. Regulations can be removed (though they rarely are). Attorneys general and Cabinet members can be fired. Laws can be repealed. Even Supreme Court justices eventually die.

But capitulate on illegal immigration, and the entire country will have the electorate of California. There will be no turning back.

Similarly, if Obamacare isn't repealed in the next few years, it never will be.

America will begin its ineluctable descent into becoming a worthless Western European country, with rotten health care, no money for defense and ever-increasing federal taxes to support the nanny state.

So let's consider which of the Republican candidates are most likely to succeed at these objectives.

In order to allow Democrats to indignantly denounce Republicans who said Obamacare would add to the deficit, the bill was structured so that no goodies get paid out immediately. That way, when the Congressional Budget Office was asked to determine if Obamacare was "revenue neutral" over its first 10 years, government accountants were looking at a bill that collected taxes for 10 years, but only distributed treats in the later years.

Starting at year 11, those accountants will be in for a big surprise when the government starts paying out Obamacare benefits without interruption.

Because of this accounting fraud, Obamacare can still be repealed. But as soon as all Americans have been thrown off their employer-provided insurance plans and are forced to start depending on the government for health care, Republicans will never be able to repeal it.

The vast complex of unionized government workers managing our health care from Washington will fight to keep their jobs (for more on this topic, see the Department of Education), voters will want their "free" government treats (for more on this topic, see Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) -- and even if they don't, there won't be a private insurance market for them to go back to (for more on this topic, see IRS rules favoring employer-provided health care).

The only way to stop Obamacare is to beat Obama in 2012, and repeal it before the health care Leviathan is born.

Otherwise, starting in 2016, Republicans will run for office promising only to improve Obamacare. Newt Gingrich will be calling plans to reform it "right-wing social engineering."

All current Republican presidential candidates say they will overturn Obamacare. The question for Republican primary voters should be: Who is most likely to win?

2012 is not a year for a wild card. It's not a year for any candidate who will end up being the issue, instead of making Obama the issue. It's not a year for one wing of the Republican Party to be making a point with another wing. (And there are no Rockefeller Republicans left, anyway.) It's not a year to be gambling that America will vote for its first woman president, or that the country is ready for a nut-bar libertarian.

Running against an incumbent president in a make-or-break election, Republicans need a candidate with a track record of winning elections with voters similar to the entire American electorate.

Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have never had to win votes beyond small, majority-Republican congressional districts.

Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have won statewide elections, but Huntsman and Perry ran in extremely red states that don't resemble the American electorate. Only Romney and Santorum have won a statewide election in a blue state, making them our surest-bets in a general election.

But if Santorum wins, we lose on the second most important issue -- illegal immigration -- and he'll be the last Republican ever to win a general election in America.

Just as Americans ought to be able to learn the perils of a welfare state by looking at Greece, we ought to be able to learn the perils of illegal immigration by looking at California.

Massive legal and illegal immigration has already so changed the California electorate that no Republican can be elected statewide anymore. Not so long ago, this was a state that produced great Republican governors and senators like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, S.I. Hayakawa and Pete Wilson.

If even Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, two bright, attractive, successful female business executives -- one pro-life and one pro-choice -- can't win a statewide election in California spending millions of their own dollars in the middle of the 2010 Republican sweep, it's buenas noches, muchachos.

And yet, almost all Republican presidential candidates support some form of amnesty for illegals in order to appeal to the business lobby.

Among the most effective measures against illegal immigration is E-Verify, the Homeland Security program that gives employers the ability to instantly confirm that their employees' Social Security numbers are legitimate. It is more than 99 percent accurate, and no employee is denied a job without an opportunity to challenge the records.

Although wildly popular with Americans -- including Hispanic Americans -- the business lobby hates E-Verify. Employers like hiring non-Americans because they can pay illegal aliens less and ignore state and federal employment laws.

Any candidate who opposes E-Verify is not serious about illegal immigration. If anything, E-Verify ought to be made mandatory to get a job, to get welfare and to vote.

Kowtowing to business (while pretending to kowtow to Hispanics), Paul, Perry and Santorum oppose E-Verify. As a senator, Rick Santorum voted against even the voluntary use of E-Verify.

Jon Huntsman claims to support E-Verify, but also wants to give illegals amnesty as soon as the border is sealed -- as determined by someone other than us. Also, he gave driver's identification cards to illegal aliens in Utah. (You'd think a guy no one has ever heard of would be more careful about ID cards.)

Following his latest guru, Helen Krieble, Newt Gingrich is for amnesty, combined with second-class status for illegals. Instead of giving illegal aliens green cards, Newt proposes giving them "red cards" so they can stay, take American jobs, have children, receive welfare benefits, attend public schools -- and eventually be granted amnesty. The Republican primaries will be over before most voters realize what Newt's "red card" scheme entails.

Only Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney aren't trying to sneak through amnesty for illegal aliens. Both support E-Verify.

Numbers USA, one of the leading groups opposed to our current insane immigration policies, gives Republican presidential candidates the following grades on immigration: Paul, F; Gingrich, D-minus; Huntsman, D-minus; Santorum, D-minus; Perry, D; Romney, C-minus; and Bachmann, B-minus.

And that was before Romney said last week that Obama's drunk-driving, illegal alien uncle should be deported!

That leaves us with Romney and Bachmann as the candidates with the strongest, most conservative positions on illegal immigration. As wonderful as Michele Bachmann is, 2012 isn't the year to be trying to make a congresswoman the first woman president.

Two Little Indians sitting in the sun; one was just a congresswoman and then there was one.

Ann Coulter has come out for... gasp... Mitt Romney!

Romney; the one all my conservative friends insist is a total RINO who can't be trusted, the one who all the right-wing radio talk show hosts tell us must be defeated (never mind that in 2008 they told us we had to vote for Romney to stop McCain), the one who we are told is slippery, cannot be trusted... you know the drill.

As I told you yesterday, Romney's the one for me. Not that he's my ideal Republican, and not that I would not support any one of a number of Republican governors (Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell or Chris Christie come to mind) or Senators (think Jim DeMint or Tom Coburn) over him in a heartbeat. No, it's that we live in the world of political reality (a point I expounded on yesterday) and in that world Romney is really the only viable choice.

So I'm glad that Ann Coulter agrees with me. Whatever else you want to think of her, this is a very sober and adult column. She's willing to forsake "purity" for pragmatism, something that has no doubt gotten her an inbox full of hate mail. Ann, you're a better person than I realized. Keep up the good work!

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 28, 2011

Thoughts on the GOP Field

I follow the William F Buckley Jr rule when selectinng which candidate I will back. He said that we should

Nominate the most conservative candidate who is electable

or words to that effect. I also follow the Ronald Reagan rule which says that

That person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally; not a 20 percent traitor

In other words, I'm not interested in pure ideology. Sure, they need to be as conservative as is possible. But I'm not going to back a "pure" conservative who is a sure loser over an 80 percent conservative who has a good chance of winning. I've done local politics for too long to retain any pie-in-the-sky idealism. Involvement has given me quite a hard head and sense of realism about it all. I don't waste my time anymore working for "pure" candidates who are doomed to lose.

With that in mind, my favorite for the Republican nomination is...

Mitt Romney - ...is my favorite. You probably guessed that from the above, but maybe not. To be sure, he has his faults. His Massachusetts health care plan is disturbingly like Obamacare, and he refuses to back off key parts of it. He's a very late convert to most aspects of the conservative agenda, and is notorious for these flip-flops. On the plus side, he at least gives somewhat reasonable explanations for them, unlike Newt Gingrich. He's a good family man, morally and ethically upright, a fantastic manager, won't embarrass us by saying stupid things, is not vain or self-centered, and will do generally conservative things. Ramesh Ponnuru has the best article on why Romney's the one to support.

Newt Gingrich - Conservatives owe a debt of gratitude to Gingrich for leading us out of what seemed like permanent minority status to our takeover of the House in 1994. This is no small matter, and as such he has a spot reserved for him in the Republican/conservative hall of fame. But this does not mean he is qualified to be president. Former New Hampshire John Sununu called him "nconsistent, erratic, untrustworthy and unprincipled." He's almost as big a flip-flopper as Romney, as witness this 2008 video of him defending the individual mandate for healthcare. Mark Steyn has perhaps the best takedown of Newt, but the editors of National Review do a pretty good job in their piece as well. In short, though, Gingrich is every bit as vain as Obama, with all that implies. He was a terrible leader when he was Speaker and was forced out in 1998 by the conservatives. Most of his ideas are good but many are half-baked. He also has more scandals in his background than all of the other candidates put together (true or not is irrelevant because they'll be trotted out ad nauseum). All of these faults have combined to see him drop in the polls as of the past few days.

Rick Santorum - His star appears to be waxing while Gingrich's wanes. I like him for his policy positions, but you can't run for president having lost your last senate race. His ideas sound good, but fair or not his boyish looks always make him appear to be less than serious. He just doesn't seem to have the right stuff. It's a shame, but see "hardheaded" above.

Ron Paul - A kook. His followers are worse. 'nuff said.

Rick Perry - He was once the flavor of the day, but it quickly became clear that he's not ready for prime time, and probably never will be.

Michelle Bachmann - I like her for her ideology but you need to have been elected to more than just a than just a house district before you can run for president. More, fair or not she comes across as too extreme and would scare the soccer moms. Two people can say the same thing but in different ways; one will come across as reasonable and the other as wild-eyed. It's not the policy, it's how you say it.

Jon Huntsman - He is actually more conservative than most people think, but in a moment of monumental stupidity decided to create an image of himself as a moderate.

In the end, Romney will most likely get the nomination. He is steady and patient, and will not say anything stupid that will sink his nomination. His organization is first-rate, and as an activist myself I know that this counts for a lot more than most people think. It's not by accident that he got on the ballot in Virginia (notorious for having a tough process, especially this year) while the others (except Paul, whose followers are more fanatics than anything) did not.

Can Romney win against Obama? It'll be close, but he stands the best chance of anyone. And anyone from the Republican party would be better than Obama. My prediction is that he picks someone from the Tea Party wing of the party to shore up the right, someone like Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, or even Ken Cuccinelli (Attorney General-VA). If he does, he'll be a formidable opponent, and the Democrats will have a real fight on their hands.

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July 9, 2011

Say No to the Dem's October Surprise

Say No to the Dem's October Surprise
by John Hinderacker

Many times in the past, Congress has voted to raise the nation's debt ceiling with little or no controversy. Not so this year. The Republicans turned the vote on the debt ceiling into a major political issue by threatening to vote No, at least unless the Democrats made significant spending concessions. Initially, the Democrats squealed. Over time, however, they realized that the situation presents, for them, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Thus, they developed the strategy that we now see at work: First, publicize a purported deadline for an agreement to raise the ceiling, and promote the claim-false, in my view-that a fiscal disaster will ensue if a deal is not reached by that supposed deadline. Second, engage in secret negotiations with the Republican leadership that are expanded to include future tax increases and limited entitlement reform. That is the stage we are in now. Third, announce a deal-a cosmic, bipartisan budget agreement that ostensibly saves the Republic from a sea of debt-48 hours or so before the bogus debt ceiling deadline. Fourth, commit the deal to writing and rush it through Congress before anyone has a chance to read it or understand what is in it. Sound familiar?


The Democrats stand to gain enormously from this strategy. As things are now, they are stuck with a fiscal record that is utterly indefensible. In a mere two and a half years, the Obama administration has rung up deficits that dwarf any in our history. Trillions of dollars have been added to the national debt. We have gone for more than two years without having a federal budget in place-which is not only scandalous, but illegal. And President Obama proposed a budget for FY 2012 that was so absurd that it couldn't garner a single vote in the Senate. The Democrats, based on their dismal record, deserve to go down to a resounding defeat in 2012.

Over time, of course, the truth about the deal will leak out. Voters will learn that the ballyhooed trillions of dollars in spending cuts are more or less nonexistent: First, the "cuts" will consist entirely of smaller increases, not actual reductions. Second, they will occur mostly or exclusively in the "out years," and therefore will probably never take place at all, since whoever is in Congress eight or ten years from now will not be bound to the slightest degree by any purported deal the Republicans may agree to later this month. Third, many of the supposed cuts will prove to be nothing but accounting legerdemain.

Likewise, voters will slowly realize that the cosmic bipartisan budget agreement does little or nothing to control our burgeoning federal debt. But that understanding will come later; hopefully, from the Democrats' standpoint, after the November 2012 elections return President Obama for a second term and sustain their majority in the Senate, while-who knows?-perhaps returning the House to Democratic control.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2011

Michele Bachmann: The New Conservative Woman the Liberals Love to Hate

The liberals would like us to believe that Rep Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) is crazy as a loon. This is in part because of her Tea Party associations, and partially because she has just announced that she's a candidate for president, and thus must be destroyed as quickly as possible. Oh, and she's an attractive female, which always makes one a target of liberal hate.


Let's take some of her statements that the liberals think are so crazy and we'll see if they really are. I don't have a whole lot of time here, so this list is not exhaustive, but it will give us a good feel for what's going on.

This guy thinks he's found the "10 craziest Michele Bachmann quotes," so let's run through them:

"Not all cultures are equal"

Uh.. they aren't. Unless you think that female genital mutilation ("female circumcision") is a perfectly acceptable cultural practice.

"And what a bizarre time we're in, when a judge will say to little children that that you can't say the pledge of allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it."

I agree: Any judge who would say that is off his or her rocker.

"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democratic president, Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's coincidence."

Hmmm. Ok, I'm not sure what's going on here. The charitable view is that she thinks that both Democrats neglected public health, but that doesn't make much sense.

"A woman (Terri Schiavo) was healthy. There was brain damage, there was no question. But from a health point of view, she was not terminally ill."

Apparently we are not allowed to debate what constitutes "terminally ill." It would seem to me that reasonable people could disagree on this one, but then we are dealing with the abortion "rights" crowd. Just to be sure Bachmann had it right I reviewed the post I wrote about the Terri Schiavo case at the time. Sure enough, Bachmann has it right.

"Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas."

Ok, yes if you breath enough CO2 you will die. But guess what? If you breath pure hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, argon... you will also die. Are those deadly poisonous gasses too? Not by most people's reckoning. But of course the real agenda here is to push the global warming agenda, and woe be it to anyone who dares to question that!

"Normalization (of gayness) is through desensitization. Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is to take pictures of "The Lion King," for instance, and a teacher might say "Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?" The message is: "I'm better at what I do because I'm gay!"

So if you think the demonization of anyone who questions the global warming agenda is bad, what they are trying to do to anyone who dares to oppose the gay agenda is just as bad or worse. Teachers should not be promoting the gay agenda in the schools, which is exactly what is happening in Bachmann's example.

"If we took away the minimum wage - if conceivably it was gone - we could potentially wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level."

Overstated, but otherwise true. It's Econ 101 that the minimum wage contributes to unemployment.

"I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I'm not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I'm not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I'm not a scientist."

So what exactly is objectionable about this statement? Most Christians take the Bible for what it is. Most people aren't deep thinkers, nor are they scientists. Most likely this is simple leftist anti-Christian bigotry, but it's hard to know, because what Bachmann says is so unremarkable.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design."

I have no idea how many Nobel Prize winning scientists believe in what goes by Intelligent Design and I'm not going to waste time researching it, because I strongly suspect that's not the issue here. No, this time it's an attack on anyone who would dare to question - gasp - Darwinian evolution!

In the liberal worldview, it is simply inconceivable that anyone could question, much less object to, the global warming - gay - atheist agendas.

Of the 10 Bachmann statements above, I agree with all but one in whole or in part. What else has she said that is so crazy? One statement that I found in her Wikipedia entry has her saying in March of 2010 that

"I said I had very serious concerns that Barack Obama had anti-American views. And now I look like Nostradamus"

That's about my view of Obama too.

I'm not at all settled on a Republican presidential candidate, but if this is the best the liberals can do to tear her down, it's a big yawner.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack