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« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

December 31, 2007

Fred Thompson's Message to Iowa, and to the Nation

Fred Thompson has posted his final message to Iowa voters up on YouTube. It's seventeen minutes long, but it's worth listening to every minute of it. This video apparently will be seen only on the web - Thompson doesn't have the money to air it on TV in Iowa. To put it simply, it's the best campaign speech I've seen for years, probably since Reagan. It gives me that same feeling that Reagan did - this guy gets it, gets conservatism, and gets us. Thompson also explains quite clearly why he is not playing the media's game this election cycle. Peter Robinson, who was a speech writer for President Reagan, wrote the following on NRO's The Corner early this morning:

While the other contenders are frantically saturating the Iowa airwaves with 30- and 60-second attack ads—Romney is guiltiest, if only because he’s richest—Thompson has sat himself down, looked into a camera, and spoken for a quarter of an hour, calmly and straightforwardly making his case.  I myself find this impressive—in a way, moving.  Thompson seems to have stepped out of the eighteenth century.  He trusts voters to think.  And if the comments on YouTube are at all representative, plenty of people agree.

Watch the video, and prepare to be impressed.

Hillary's Version of Separation of Church and State

The New York Times has an interesting article up on their site this morning, Clinton Preaches, Then Runs, that criticizes Clinton not for delivering a campaign speech at a church, during a service - but for leaving early. It just goes to show how hypocritical Democrats and the media are. If a Republican decided to give a campaign speech anywhere near a church, he or she would be excoriated in and by the media, and by Democrats, on separation of church and state grounds. With a Democrat, it's a blessed and accepted practice.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a campaign sermon Sunday, but didn't stick around to hear the pastor do his preaching.

''We're still at church. We're still going to worship no matter what,'' the Rev. Lee Maxey said as the Democratic presidential candidate, her daughter, Chelsea, and their entourage left Corinthian Baptist Church, the media pack close behind.

Clinton stayed for about 20 minutes and, when she spoke, noted her support for children's rights.

The New York senator also highlighted a chapter in her book, ''It Takes a Village,'' that talks about every child needing a champion. She said most children have someone in that role and she'd like to fulfill it for the whole country.

''I think the American people need a president who is their champion. And I've been running to be that champion -- to get up every single day and do all that I can to make sure I provide the tools that every single American is entitled to receive and make the most out of their own lives,'' Clinton said.

And with that, she hurried out.

The Rev. James Green took a poke at the just-departed Clinton as he began his sermon.

''When I first got here I was a little overwhelmed. All the dignitaries came in,'' he said. ''I thought they were going to stay for service, but they're still campaigning.''

Earlier this year, Democratic candidate Barack Obama also joined the mostly black congregation.

He, too, left early.

Compiled by Nafeesa Syeed.

I've copied the whole article above because something tells me that it's not going to last long on the New York Times website. The Clintonistas won't let it. I can't find it linked from any of the other NYTs pages, nor can I find it anywhere else on the web.

December 30, 2007

We Only Think We Own The Music We Buy...

I just hopped on the computer for a moment, and I find this over on Drudge: Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use. This article should be on the front page of every newspaper in the country. The record industry has been figuratively raping its customers for decades, and the bill for all of that has finally begun to come due. - They're losing more and more money, and they can't do anything to stop it.

So, realizing that they're going down the tube, they've decided to take their old customers down with them. Why? Just because they can, apparently. They record industry has now decided that anybody who transfers their entertainment CDs to their own computer is breaking the law, even if he or she legally owns the CDs.

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

I'm Joe Capitalist, but this is ridiculous. I've copied most of my music CDs (that I've bought) to iTunes on my computer (which I own) because I no longer have a stereo system. Furthermore, the way I have it set up is so that I can listen to iTunes while I work and not have to worry about getting up and changing CDs. I don't even have an iPod, or any other MP3 player. The record companies are now saying that I am a criminal, many times over.

If this stands, I will throw away my CDs and never buy another one again. Someone has to perfect the new "iTunes" entertainment paradigm very soon just to kill off these record company idiots. They give capitalism a bad name...

Thompson Slandered by the Media...

First thing this morning, I saw a short piece on Fox and Friends about something that Fred Thompson had said yesterday while campaigning in Iowa. The problem for me was that it didn't sound like something that Thompson would say, unless he was intentionally torpedoing his campaign. The report, allegedly from a reporter with Thompson on the campaign trail, indicated that Thompson had said that he had little interest in the Presidency, and that other people had gotten him into it. That sounded a bit strange to me, since one of the reasons I like Thompson is that he is a very good communicator, and he certainly would know that such a wishy-washy statement would be disastrous to his campaign. So I was more than a little skeptical about the report, and proceeded to do what I usually do (and which I hope everyone does these days) - check out the source material.

After not finding it on, I figured if anyone had the inside scoop on this (including Thompson's real quote), it would be Jim Geraghty at NRO's Campaign Spot. And I was right. Geraghty had the goods posted yesterday in his post: Fred Thompson, Knifed By Half-Quotes Again. Inexplicably, that was in plenty of time for one of the Fox News producers to have done a much better story on what the candidate had actually said, as opposed to what was reported that he said. So once again the media comes out looking poorly, having greatly mischaracterized and pulled out of context both the questions to Thompson that elicited his response, and what Thompson actually said.

The report apparently stemmed from a blog post at USA Today introducing another reporter's short article from the campaign trail: Thompson: Doesn't like campaign process, 'will not be devastated' if he loses. That particular post has been updated several times, and I'm uncertain if the above headline was the original one, but the blog's author does post both the original story and a link to Jim Geraghty's response, albeit in a somewhat snarky way. But if you read the article and then read the actual transcript of Thompson's statement, it doesn't look too good for either the reporter or USA Today. All involved are professionals, and are well aware that the way in which words are put together (especially in a blog post title and a 49 word introduction to a 185 word article) can totally change the meaning of whatever words were actually said by the subject of the article. My feeling is that if a reporter is limited to an under 200-word article, and more space than that is needed to convey the actual meaning of what was said by the subject of the article, either request to do a longer article or don't do one at all.

The real story, of course, is that Thompson hates what the political process has become, and does not suffer fools gladly. Unfortunately, some of those fools happen to be reporting on his campaign, and view Thompson with disdain because he refuses to play their game. That's refreshing to me. Campaigns, and the media that covers them, have become so self-involved and self-important that they've lost touch with the average voter. For instance, let's take a look at the recent Democratic Presidential nominees, together with "She Who Feels That She Is Owed The Presidency". (That would be Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton.) The commonalities among them are that 1) they all act as if they are better and smarter than everyone else, especially their subjects; 2) they all feel that they were born to be President - it is one of their birthrights; and 3) they all feel that everything they have done in life previously is in preparation to being awarded the Presidency. Individuals like that feed off of the media, and vice-versa. I posit that voters are finally getting fed-up with them - and Fred Thompson is the antithesis of that type of candidate.

The problem - since Thompson doesn't play the media's game, they will do everything in their power to misrepresent and discredit him. And that just makes people like me, and other people who prefer the real to the prepackaged, and the gently offered to the "jammed down our throats", appreciate Fred Thompson more. Lucky for us that Al Gore invented the Internet, so that we can quickly discard reports like the aforementioned from USA Today in the wastebasket, and find out what's really going on by viewing transcripts and videos online.

Speaking of which, the transcript of Thompson's remarks after the jump, courtesy of Jim Geraghty and NRO...

Continue reading "Thompson Slandered by the Media..." »

December 29, 2007

Huckabee Losing Steam?

I'm not a fan of Mike Huckabee. I think that he, and his campaign, has smartly used his former occupation as a active Baptist minister to make great inroads with the conservative evangelical community - key to success in Iowa. But once you scratch the surface, you find that he is just another politician from Arkansas - holding to his ideals when it's convenient, and sidestepping them when it isn't. Take, for instance, his record as Governor - he raised taxes more than cut them, and was the subject of numerous ethics investigations. While raising money for his personal expenses and Presidential campaign, he spoke on behalf of and accepted honorarium from embryonic stem cell experimenters. And I'm not even going to touch his foreign policy views, which are sophomoric and embarrassing. His mainly positive national media coverage also makes me suspicious - either the mainstream media already know that he's really one of their own, or they are setting him up as an easy foil for both themselves and the eventual Democratic Presidential nominee.

But according to Bob Novak, the glow around Huckabee might be fading earlier than the MSM anticipated.

While public polls show Mike Huckabee leading Mitt Romney in Iowa, a new survey of an oversized sample shows Huckabee slipping and no longer ahead of Romney.

Novak goes on to say that the poll he talks about was commissioned by an unnamed private corporate interest, and does not name the polling firm, so I have no real way of measuring the efficacy of the results (i.e. was it self serving for another candidate). But I've thought for a while that Huckabee was a media-fueled flash in the pan, and this op-ed, coupled with the results from other polls that show Huckabee's lead diminishing or evaporating, leads me to believe that we'll see either a Romney victory in Iowa or a big surprise from a third candidate, namely Fred Thompson. And if Huckabee doesn't win, and win big, in Iowa, he doesn't stand a chance in most of the other primaries - as opposed to the other major GOP candidates, who could withstand coming up short in the caucus.

December 28, 2007

NRO on the Romney-McCain Wars

National Review Online has a good editorial up on the attacks by John McCain and his minions on Mitt Romney (Misled in New Hampshire). (For the record - and they acknowledge it in the editorial - NRO has endorsed Romney.) The piece notes that the McCain campaign, and media outlets operating on his behalf in New Hampshire and elsewhere, have been hammering Romney as a "flip-flopper" - but that the same accusations can be made towards McCain, in a much more meaningful way:

There is a lot to like about Senator McCain, and we do not fault the Union Leader for endorsing him. We do fault its double standards. The newspaper counts it as a damnable “flip-flop” every time Romney has changed his position or even his emphasis. McCain can switch his views on the very same issues without a disparaging word from the Union Leader.

Take taxes. Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, stayed neutral in the battle over President Bush’s 2003 tax cuts. We wish he had spoken up in their favor. Senator McCain, alas, was not silent: He voted against the tax cuts, as he had voted against the 2001 tax cuts. He flip-flopped on estate taxes, defending them after having voted to get rid of them. As he geared up to run for president this time around, however, McCain became a born-again supply-sider. Now he wants to keep the tax cuts he originally opposed.

The Union Leader has blasted Romney for changing his mind on immigration. It accused him of lying, too, for saying that McCain wanted to let illegal immigrants earn Social Security benefits while working here illegally. But Romney was right. McCain has voted to let illegal immigrants who meet certain conditions become citizens and then receive benefits for their prior illegal work. Few Senate Republicans joined him.

In short, these instances cited by NRO are just a few of the reasons why I am not enthusiastically endorsing John McCain. The Senator took a decade and a half of  voting on his reasonably consistent conservative principles and threw it away in 2000. He fell in love with himself, and with his positive media image - failing to realize that the only reason that the media was enamored with him was because he first opposed, then hated, President Bush. Aside from some national security issues, he turned into a liberal from the 2000 elections until the time he started planning for his 2008 Presidential campaign.

If he becomes the Republican nominee, of course I'd support him - especially in light of what the Democrats have to offer. But I wouldn't trust him to uphold any conservative principals, in light of the sea changes his political posturings have gone through the past few years.

Hillary Lies Again - This Time About Bhutto

Pundits are claiming that the two United States political 'winners' (if it can be called that) from yesterday's assassination of Bhutto are John McCain and Hillary Clinton. John McCain I can see, because he has had foreign policy interactions with Pakistan over many, many years. (He also accurately described Pakistan under Bhutto as a "failed state".) But Hillary, in order to claim the "relevancy" throne, isn't satisfied by just saying that she had met Bhutto and admired her. No, she has to issue a press release lying about her relationship with Bhutto. Here's a very good post (Hillary: I’ve Know Mrs. Bhutto Many Years) over at the blog Sweetness & Light that uses Hillary's own words in her autobiography against her official statements from yesterday.

One of the biggest complaints against the Clintons, even from the Left, is that they lie, even when they don't have to...

What the Heck Are the Iowa Caucuses?

There's under a week to go before the Iowa Caucuses, and there's still no real solid front-runner in either the GOP or the Democrat contests. Recent polls are all over the map - it appears from the news stories and polls that the media favorites are Mike Huckabee for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. While the Bhutto assassination has wide ranging implications for our nation and the War on Terror, it probably won't have much of an effect in Iowa, where retail, door to door politicking and personal appearances rule.

There's a very good FAQ on what the Iowa Caucuses actually are over at Congressional Quarterly. A caucus isn't a primary, that's for sure. And with all the attention given to Iowa, you think that there'd be more than a 10% to 20% participation rate for voters - but you'd be wrong. In years past, winning in Iowa gave a huge boost to a campaign - the winner got a month of free publicity in the press as the overall "front-runner" in the primary, even though as few as 50,000 voters might have voted for him. With this year's front-loaded primary schedule, however, Iowa is become less and less relevant - even though it's still a media hit.

Read the FAQ - it's pretty interesting. As to who will win on January 3rd, my gut right now is telling me that on the GOP it will be Romney, with Huckabee runner up and a surprisingly strong showing by Fred Thompson. On the Democrat's side, I see an Obama win with Hillary in second and Edwards third. But we shall see...

Benazir Bhutto - Not What She Is Being Made Out To Be

In yesterday's posts, I indicated that I thought it was foolish for the State Department to have forced Benazir Bhutto on Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff. She had been removed from office twice before because she was corrupt - she talked a good western game, but when it came down to fulfilling her rhetorical pledges to the Pakistani people, she came up very short. He death is tragic, but was also foreseeable - and needless. She was put in the position of 'saviour' by the western elites at the State department and in salons throughout Europe not because she was an agent of change, but because she was a kindred spirit. Kind of like the John Kerry of Pakistan, with the Kennedy family baggage attached. Empty and vacuous  intellectually, and thoroughly corrupt.

In the midst of the canonization of Bhutto comes a much needed column by Ralph Peters that tossed a bit of reality on the growing myth of Bhutto: THE BHUTTO ASSASSINATION: NOT WHAT SHE SEEMED TO BE.

She was a splendid con, persuading otherwise cynical Western politicians and "hardheaded" journalists that she was not only a brave woman crusading in the Islamic wilderness, but also a thoroughbred democrat.

In fact, Bhutto was a frivolously wealthy feudal landlord amid bleak poverty. The scion of a thieving political dynasty, she was always more concerned with power than with the wellbeing of the average Pakistani. Her program remained one of old-school patronage, not increased productivity or social decency.

Educated in expensive Western schools, she permitted Pakistan's feeble education system to rot - opening the door to Islamists and their religious schools.

During her years as prime minister, Pakistan went backward, not forward. Her husband looted shamelessly and ended up fleeing the country, pursued by the courts. The Islamist threat - which she artfully played both ways - spread like cancer.

But she always knew how to work Westerners - unlike the hapless Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who sought the best for his tormented country but never knew how to package himself.

A good rule of thumb these days - if a world figure is a favorite of the State Department and elites like Hillary Clinton, you can be certain that those figures only have their best interests at heart, not ours. And certainly not their own countries...

December 27, 2007

Is the State Department Complicit in Bhutto's Assassination?

I said it when it was first revealed that the State Department was involved in brokering a power-sharing deal with Bhutto and Musharaff earlier this year, and I'll say it again now. What the hell was the State Department doing in promoting the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan? And shouldn't they have known that she would inevitably be assassinated?

I'm all for the democracy program. But you have to look at each country individually to determine what speed the democracy process should take. Pakistan is a very volatile and unstable country right now, thanks to the Islamists. It is also a nuclear power. While Pervez Musharaff isn't the perfect leader for that country, and while he hasn't done everything in his power to defeat the Islamists, he's did decide (after a 'prod' from then Secretary of State Colin Powell) to side with us as opposed to al Qaeda after 9/11. More importantly, he has the Pakistani military's loyalty.

And it's that military who holds the real power and respect in the country - and has possession of the nuclear weapons. In countries like Pakistan (and Turkey, for that matter), it's the secular military that prevents the Islamists from taking over. They keep the fundamentalists in line. Pakistan's military and intelligence services have been infiltrated by al Qaeda and their allies, but at least in the military they are vastly outnumbered by loyal secular nationalists. And that's what's keeping the country together.

Forcing Bhutto down Musharaff's throat was a bad, bad idea. There were, and are, better ways to pressure Musharaff to fight al Qaeda more effectively. Bhutto was a favorite of the intellectual elites worldwide, but she had been an ineffective Prime Minister during her first term. Her second term was better - she helped turn Pakistan's economy around, but she also presided over what turned into a massive kleptocracy. That the State Department threw their support behind her was not surprising, since they are cut from the same cloth, but it was wrong - and it ended up getting her killed.

As we've seen in Iraq, security and stability has to come first in any society before substantial political progress along the lines of a real democracy can occur. A State Department flunkie in Iraq, Paul Bremer, disagreed with that and his prevailing view caused the mess that we found ourselves in there in 2006 - a borderline failed state. Luckily, President Bush and General Petraeus had a strategy to win the war and create stability and security, and it seems to be working. What will follow after stability is established is the political process we've all been looking for.

Pakistan is not a failed state, but other than that is much like Iraq was last year. Security and stability must be established again nationwide before democratic political progress can be made. The State Department's misguided efforts with Bhutto has gotten her murdered and thrown Pakistan into more chaos that it otherwise would have been in. All because the bureaucrats at State saw in Bhutto a kindred spirit, and tried to use her. Pakistan needed more security and stability, especially in the tribal region from which all of this Islamic nonsense emanates, before they needed Bhutto. Now they have neither.