Surveying the GOP Field + More

Posted on Fri 06/17/2011 by

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The Patriot Post  Digest

The Foundation

“In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.” –Alexander Hamilton

Government & Politics

How ‘Bout That GOP Field?

Cain, Bachmann, Pawlenty, Santorum, Paul, Romney and Gingrich

The GOP presidential field is bulking up, though according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 45 percent of Republicans aren’t satisfied with the current crop of candidates. Of course, four years ago, that number was 73 percent and look who was nominated. Seven candidates took part in a debate hosted by CNN on Monday night — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. There are other candidates, both announced and unannounced, who weren’t there, but for now, let’s take a look at the current contenders.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann announced her campaign (or at least announced an announcement) from the podium Monday night, and in large measure she stole the show because of it. Even skeptics praised her performance and command of the issues. She is the leader of the Tea Party caucus in Congress and has a devoted following. She raised five children and 23 foster children before entering public service, and she hails from a state the GOP would like to turn red in 2012. However, James Garfield, back in 1880, was the only president to have been elected while a member of the House. It remains to be seen, of course, whether Bachmann can become the second and separate herself from the other candidates, most of whom are also running as the “genuine conservative.”

Herman Cain is a former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, and he also served as deputy chairman (1992-94) and chairman (1995-96) of the board of directors to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He is a minister in Atlanta and hosts a radio talk show. His fiery style certainly works a crowd — especially a Tea Party rally — but he never quite got going in Monday’s 60-second sound-bite debate. One thing that sets him apart is that he supports the “Fair Tax” — a consumption tax to replace the current system. Cain’s biggest challenge will be overcoming the fact that he has never held elective office, though, in an age when politicians have so royally botched it, many say that fact commends him most.

Newt Gingrich appeared Monday despite his campaign having imploded last week, with a dozen high-level aides abruptly resigning. The former speaker needs little introduction here. He is considered “Mr. Ideas,” but whether we can keep any of those ideas is often another matter. Gingrich stumbled badly with his recent criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan, dismissing his comprehensive plan to save Medicare as “right-wing social engineering.” He’s a long shot to win the nomination, as most voters already have an impression of him one way or the other.

Ron Paul also hardly needs introduction, though as a congressman he shares the same handicap as Bachmann. This is Paul’s third run for the presidency — the second as a Republican. Paul arguably has the most devoted following of any candidate, something that obviously works in his favor, though it’s not broad support. He is, on domestic policy, just about as constitutional as it gets, but his foreign policy is problematic for many conservatives and causes us to question his readiness to be commander in chief. Will the third time be the charm? It’s unlikely.

Former two-term Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has worked hard to generate name recognition and to differentiate himself with his policy ideas, primarily on lowering individual and corporate tax rates and generally simplifying the tax code. He has said he hopes to generate 5 percent economic growth over the next decade — probably unrealistic, but a worthy goal nonetheless. Pawlenty’s biggest hurdle is likely his own personality. He’s running as a “truth teller,” but he isn’t all that charismatic. Even while coining the term “ObamneyCare” on Sunday, Pawlenty observed Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment to a fault and refused to criticize Mitt Romney during Monday night’s debate. Then again, we can see the results of charisma in the White House today, so it’s not necessarily a virtue.

Mitt Romney is the frontrunner in the race, though that has as much to do with name recognition and “next guy in line” status as anything else. Romney has positioned himself as the moderate with the business know-how to fix the economy. But there is an elephant in the room, as hinted above. As political analyst Michael Barone put it, “His clear vulnerability is his Massachusetts health care program, with its Obamacare-like mandate to buy health insurance.” In fact, it served as a model for ObamaCare, and that’s going to be nearly impossible for Romney to overcome in our estimation. The fact that Al Gore praised Romney’s stance on global warming won’t help, either.

Finally, we have former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. After attacking then-Senate candidate Pat Toomey in favor of then-Senator Arlen Spector (D-R-D) in 2004, Santorum lost re-election in 2006 by a whopping 18 points, which hardly helps his cause now. He’s running last or near it in most every poll and continues to generate less buzz than some candidates who haven’t yet announced. However, Santorum is a solid social conservative who has a good grasp on economic issues, as well. Will he win the nomination? It’s very doubtful, but he brings a fighting spirit and plenty of good things to the table.

To be sure, this is by no means a comprehensive look at the candidates, and we certainly aren’t yet endorsing anyone. There will likely be more candidates entering the race, and we will have plenty more analysis in the weeks and months ahead.

Quote of the Week

“Any of the people on this stage would be a better president than President Obama.” –Mitt Romney

No doubt about that.

News From the Swamp: Deficit to Top $1 Trillion … Again

The federal government is on track to reach a third straight year of $1 trillion-plus deficits, according to a recent report by the Treasury Department. Tax revenue receipts for May were up almost $30 billion over last year, and receipts for the fiscal year to date are about 10 percent higher than last year. However, eight months into fiscal 2011 the country already has a budget deficit of $927.4 billion.

This news couldn’t come at a worse time for the Obama administration, which is still trying to cobble together a deal to raise the debt ceiling with as few spending cuts as possible. Deficit reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden are expected to go into overdrive as the default zero hour approaches (estimated by the Treasury Department as Aug. 2), but optimism is hard to find. The talks have been sporadic and unproductive, with Democrats refusing to cut spending significantly in spite of the nation’s finances.

New & Notable Legislation

The Senate voted 73-27 Thursday to eliminate this year a 45-cents-per gallon tax credit for ethanol — worth $6 billion this year. The amendment, sponsored by Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would also end the 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on ethanol imports. Unfortunately, the economic development bill the amendment is attached to is unlikely to pass, making this vote merely symbolic, but it’s a good sign that the days of ethanol subsidies are numbered.

Hope ‘n’ Change: Bundlers Land the Jobs

Where are the jobs? Given to those who raise money for Obama. “More than two years after Obama took office vowing to banish ‘special interests’ from his administration, nearly 200 of his biggest donors have landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won federal contracts worth millions of dollars for their business interests or attended numerous elite White House meetings and social events,” Politico reports. “These ‘bundlers’ raised at least $50,000 — and sometimes more than $500,000 — in campaign donations for Obama’s campaign.”

For comparison’s sake, Public Citizen in 2008 found that George W. Bush had appointed about 200 bundlers to administration posts during his eight years in office. That’s roughly the same number Obama has appointed in little more than two years.

The White House insists that all these jobs were on the up-and-up, but it’s hard to deny the correlation. Somehow, this makes all those promises about “Hope and Change” seem even hollower.

From the Left: Pelosi Cashed In Last Year

Last year wasn’t a good one for far too many Americans. Unemployment was high, savings and income were down, hope was diminished with little positive change on the way. Yet one person had a banner year — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who, according to The Hill, “saw her net worth rise 62 percent last year, cementing her status as one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Pelosi was worth at least $35.2 million in the 2010 calendar year.” We’re just as happy to see capitalism at work as anyone, but it’s sad to see an advocate of socialism game the very system she opposes.

Media Release the Hounds on Palin Emails

The release of some 25,000 pages of email communications from Sarah Palin’s partial term as governor of Alaska hasn’t lived up to the hype. Various “Lamestream Media” organs, confirming their creepy fascination with all things Palin, called for release of her emails during the 2008 election in hopes of uncovering some morsel of information that would damage her vice-presidential bid. The emails weren’t released until this past week, and leftist reporters far and wide burned the midnight oil and even asked for volunteers to scour all 13,000 of them for evidence of anything negative. They didn’t find it.

The emails largely consisted of pithy communications with staffers and government officials, many of them containing Palin’s signature turns of phrase, such as “unflippinbelievable” or “flippin unbelievable.” There was nothing about any supposed kickbacks from Big Oil, no hanky panky, and no proof that Trig was actually daughter Bristol’s baby. The only newsworthy emails dealt with death threats that Palin received from various kooks, but one has to go all the way to the London Guardian to read about them, because the American media surely didn’t report it.

It’s too bad the media used up all their investigative energy stalking the former half-term governor of the nation’s 47th-largest state these past few years; had they trained their focus where it belonged, they might actually have uncovered a few things about Barry Soetoro that could have proved helpful.

Weiner Loses Battle of the Bulge

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) finally conceded Thursday that bitterly clinging to his office for more than four hours was not tenable. “I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do,” Weiner said. “Unfortunately, the distraction that I have created has made that impossible. So, today I am announcing my resignation from Congress.”

The “distraction” was a series of lewd photos of himself that he sent to numerous women, including an “adult” dancer and a 17-year-old girl. He was discovered when he accidentally sent one picture to all of his Twitter followers, instead of just the intended recipient. Weiner then lied about it and tried to imply that he had been “hacked” by conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart before admitting responsibility. Democrats from Nancy Pelosi to Barack Obama finally threw him under the bus, calling on him to resign nearly three weeks after the story broke. Thus ends yet another scandal among our esteemed “representatives” in Congress — and the third one in New York since last March.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Collective Bargaining Law

The Wisconsin Supreme Court this week reinstated the state’s recently passed law eliminating collective bargaining for state employees. It had been struck down by Judge Maryann Sumi, who said that Republicans broke procedural rules when passing it. The Supreme Court wrote, “This court will not determine whether internal operating rules or procedural statutes have been complied with by the legislature in the course of its enactments.” In other words, separation of powers carried the day. Recently re-elected Justice David Prosser was part of the majority. He had been challenged by union-backed leftist JoAnne Kloppenburg earlier this year. The victory isn’t final, either, as unions have filed a challenge in federal court, this time arguing, according to Reuters, that the law “creates two classes of public workers in the state — those covered by the new rules and those exempt from them.”

Judicial Benchmarks: SCOTUS on Legislators’ Free Speech

The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 this week, in Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan, that legislators do not have a free speech right to vote on matters in which they have a conflict of interest, nor does the First Amendment shield someone charged with ethics violations. The unanimous decision, which overturns a prior Nevada Supreme Court decision, was written by Justice Antonin Scalia. He wrote that the right to vote in a legislative body “is not personal to the legislator but belongs to the people. The legislator has no personal right to it.”

The original case involved a Sparks, Nevada, councilman who was censured by the Nevada Commission on Ethics for casting a vote in favor of a casino project backed by his campaign manager. By law, the councilman was supposed to abstain from voting. High Court watchers believe that this decision will help shore up state ethics laws around the country.

National Security

Department of Military Readiness: False START

In December 2010, the Senate ratified one of the Obama regime’s key international efforts, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). At the time, Obama and his minions sold the treaty as a great benefit to the U.S. and world peace. It required, or so we were told, both the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads by 30 percent, from 2,200 to 1,550 warheads each, and it capped the number of allowed strategic launchers, including both missiles and bombers, at 700 each. Both sides are required to be at or below these ceilings by 2018.

Skeptics noted that the treaty would buy the U.S. nothing, would not reduce existing weapons by 30 percent, and in fact would require only the U.S. to eliminate weapons. As usual, the skeptics were savaged by the Left as warmongers, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee that treaty skeptics “just don’t believe in arms-control treaties at all and from my perspective are very unfortunately slanting a lot of what they say.” Well, the truth has now come out.

On June 1, the results of the weapons data exchange between the U.S. and Russia required by the treaty were released by the State Department, and they conclusively demonstrate that the skeptics were right. The treaty requires nothing of Russia in terms of lowering her strategic force numbers. The day the treaty went into force, Feb. 5, Russia was already below the START ceilings for both strategic nuclear launchers and warheads. Russia had 521 strategic launchers, well below the treaty limit of 700, and 1,537 warheads, below the new ceiling of 1,550. So rather than reducing forces, the treaty allows Russia to build additional weapons to reach the new limits, and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has said that Russia will do so by 2028.

As for the U.S? We must make weapon reductions, of course, including a 25 percent cut in strategic launchers. So the truth is that the Obama regime lied (again) to the American people about this treaty and falsely accused skeptics of being warmongers, all the while knowingly selling out America’s nuclear forces. There’s a word that comes to mind here. It starts with a “t” and has seven letters, but for some reason we’re drawing a blank…

In related news, the Czech Republic announced that it is withdrawing from any American missile defense system in Europe. Given the way the Obama administration has jerked the Czechs around, this isn’t surprising. As Jan Vidim, a lawmaker in the lower house of the Czech Parliament, put it, “The United States has been and will be our crucial strategic partner but the current administration doesn’t take the Czech Republic seriously.” The Czech Republic was once trapped behind the Iron Curtain, which was broken by someone they knew to be a real leader — Ronald Reagan. They also know a fraud when they see one.

Warfront With Jihadistan: Terrorist Leader Killed in Somalia

One of the most-wanted terrorists in the world met his just reward last week, when Somali police shot dead Harun Fazul at a checkpoint outside Mogadishu. Fazul was one of the planners — most likely the key planner — behind the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. Since that time he had lived a charmed life, surviving numerous U.S. attempts to kill him as well as a decade of dangerous living in the state of chaos that is Somalia. Fazul and his driver apparently stumbled upon the police checkpoint and either tried to evade it or to shoot their way through it. The method of Fazul’s demise may not be as emotionally satisfying as a SEAL team raid, but the end result is the same: another evil-doer removed from the planet.

In other news, the CIA will reportedly soon begin flying armed drones over war-torn Yemen as the fight against al-Qa’ida and its subsidiaries continues. With Yemen in chaos, al-Qa’ida recently stood and fought against government forces, even taking over several towns and villages near the Gulf of Aden. We wish the CIA good luck and good hunting as they continue their work of tracking down and killing al-Qa’ida leaders — work begun nearly 10 years ago and likely to continue for many more.

Regarding al-Qa’ida leaders, Osama bin Laden’s longtime deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri has now taken the helm of the terrorist outfit. He is believed to reside along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. His forehead is now marked.

Business & Economy

Around the Nation: Debt Bomb Keeps on Tickin’

As states scramble to put last-minute touches on their fiscal year 2012 budgets, two things become clear: States are staring at deficits as far as the eye can see, and Uncle Sam isn’t going to be their enabler anymore. When pension liabilities for the several states are added together, the sum exceeds $1 trillion. That’s money promised to state workers and retirees that states will have to pay somehow. Republican control of the federal purse strings via the House means the stimulus largesse that covered state debt over the last two years is not likely to continue.

Some states are enacting tax increases to keep up, though that’s the wrong way to go. In the past year, the states of Illinois, New York and California — all led by Democrats — have hiked income taxes on at least some of their residents to address budget shortfalls. In fact, the latter two bastions of leftist government rank at the bottom of the list of free states for George Mason’s Mercatus Center, a libertarian think tank.

The problem is magnified on a national scale, with one financial expert — Pimco’s Bill Gross, who runs the world’s largest mutual funds — warning that the United States is “in worse financial shape than Greece.” Readers may recall the rioting and strife Greece had as it accepted a €110 billion bailout last year — yet there’s a second deal in the works. Perhaps the only nation blowing through cash more quickly is the United States, where unfunded liabilities of perhaps $100 trillion make the “official” national debt of just over $14 trillion look minuscule. Much to the chagrin of leftists everywhere, higher taxes — even at confiscatory rates — won’t solve the problem.

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File

Barack Obama explained this week that the reason companies aren’t hiring is not his policies, it’s that the economy is so automated.

“There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers,” he pontificated. “You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”

Apparently, our nation didn’t have ATMs or airport check-in kiosks until Jan. 20, 2009.

This Week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ Award

“Shovel-ready was not as … uh … shovel-ready as we expected.” –Barack Obama, yukking it up about the slow economic recovery

This Week’s ‘Braying Jenny’ Award

“We own the economy. We own the beginning of the turnaround and we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery, not go back to the policies of the past under the Bush administration that put us in the ditch in the first place.” –DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Be careful what you boast there Debbie. The RNC is having a field day with this quote.

Dems Circus

Why ‘Green’ Costs More

People who run out and buy an electric car, such as the heavily federally subsidized Chevy Volt, probably believe that they’re doing their small part to help the environment. But are they getting (or considering) the whole picture?

Chances are that shiny new Volt is recharged by a coal-burning electrical plant. Coal has been used for decades to create electricity because it’s cheap and reliable. Unfortunately, coal is allegedly — as ecofascists constantly tell us — “destroying the planet,” so government policy is attempting to limit its use as much as possible via tough regulations. Faced with the prospect of expensive upgrades, utilities are responding by closing many of their coal-fired plants, thereby driving up the price of electricity. Experts predict that prices may jump up to 60 percent over the next three years as coal goes away and more expensive — if any — alternatives kick in. Barack Obama wasn’t kidding when he said that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” if he had his way. Indeed, that was his goal all along.

There’s more bad news for greenies. Not only will recharging the Volt become more expensive, but a new British study claims that an electric car’s “carbon footprint” is almost equal to that of a conventionally powered one. When the manufacture and eventual replacement of the battery are factored in, the study found that electric cars actually produce just one ton less carbon over their lifespan than do gasoline-powered models — a difference of just 4 percent.

Finally, the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research reports that Barack Obama’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandate that autos average 62 mpg by 2025 “could force vehicle prices up by nearly $10,000, reduce sales by 5.5 million vehicles annually, and eliminate more than 260,000 jobs.”

So paying thousands more for an electric car — even with government subsidy — could make only a minimal impact on the environment, while costing hundreds of thousands of jobs. Yep, it sounds like yet another wise “investment” by those in charge.

Regulatory Commissars: Nuclear Regulation Report

It seems Gregory Jaczko has been using his role as Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman to push his own agenda, even if it means withholding information from fellow NRC commissioners. At issue is the development of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as the site of the nation’s first nuclear waste depository — a move favored by the nuclear industry and dictated by a 2002 law, but opposed by Jaczko and the Obama administration.

Last year, the administration made a budget request that would cut funding for the project. Now, a report by NRC Inspector General Hubert T. Bell says Jaczko used the budget to steer the NRC toward ending the Yucca project, while “strategically” withholding information from fellow NRC commissioners. Jaczko said his fellow commissioners agreed with the budget memo, but in reality only three of the four had even seen it. Of these, only one agreed while two were unclear regarding the memo’s implications.

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a subcommittee hearing on the IG’s report, and some congressional members are calling for Jaczko to resign. He has refused. The NRC is in dubious hands when the man at the helm is so willing to use his position of power to withhold information in order to advance an anti-nuclear political agenda.

Culture & Policy

House Panel Investigates Operation ‘Fast and Furious’

By all accounts, Operation “Fast and Furious,” part of Project Gunrunner, has been a disaster. The House Government Oversight Committee began hearings this week into the operation, an initiative of the Justice Department, in connection with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (commonly known as the ATF), intended to track American firearms as they made their way to drug cartels in Mexico. The ATF watched as numerous guns were bought and taken to Mexico, over the objections of gun dealers, ostensibly in order to gain intelligence and prosecutable charges against the cartels.

The program quickly went south. As we have reported before, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata were killed with weapons connected to Fast and Furious. Furthermore, in a March 2010 memo, the ATF said that gun smugglers bought 359 guns. In the same month in Mexico, 958 people were killed. ATF agents reported that the agent in charge of the operation in Phoenix was “jovial, if not giddy” when he learned that Fast and Furious guns had been found in Mexico. The initial House report also says that the ATF didn’t “lose track” of guns, but intentionally allowed guns to “fall into the hands of criminals and bandits on both sides of the border.”

ATF agents-turned-whistleblowers Olindo James Casa and John Dodson testified that they pleaded with their superiors to allow them to seize firearms, including .50-caliber sniper rifles, after straw purchases passed them on. Casa said, “My supervisors directed me and my colleagues not to make any stop or arrest, but rather to keep the straw purchaser under surveillance while allowing the guns to walk.”

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is working to get to the bottom of this badly botched operation. We hope to see some accountability for the devastating consequences.

Climate Change This Week: Warming? What Warming?

A new study using NASA satellite data has shown that over the past 10 years, the temperature of the planet has not risen, despite the huge increase in carbon dioxide. The numbers punch yet another hole in the envirofascists’ theory that a direct correlation exists between carbon emissions (and, by extension, human activity) and global warming.

To those who know that climate change “science” is closer to science fiction, this comes as no surprise. It’s a lot harder, however, to make others see the light when the mainstream media is in the tank for Al Gore and his acolytes at the United Nations. A recent article in the UK Guardian, for example, is full of the same old scare tactics, with a new recommendation thrown in for good measure.

Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the pretentiously named “UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” is suggesting that the world (namely, the U.S. and other wealthy nations) will be forced to create new technology to “suck the greenhouses gases out of the air.” Of course, she claims, if we adopt the UN’s economy-crushing regulations, this disaster may yet be averted.

Figueres specifically pointed a finger at GOP lawmakers, saying they are “disengaged” from the crisis because they refuse to pass jobs-killing cap-n-tax legislation. She applauded the Obama administration for being engaged. Someone should inform Ms. Figueres that lawmakers have other issues to be “engaged” with besides junk science, such as a soaring unemployment rate. Then again, we should also inform the president.

No doubt the U.S. and other wealthy nations will be verbally tarred and feathered at the coming climate change conference in Bonn next week. This conference, as all those previous, are predicted to yield no “progress.”

And Last…

Did you know…? The Patriot Post‘s Digest represents a collaborative effort of more than 20 contributors and editors who bring their passion and expertise from all walks of life. Thursday and Friday in particular represent some pretty long days (and nights) as we refine our publication to ensure an accurate and penetrating analysis of the week’s news, policy and opinion. Indeed, this is what you, our readers, have come to expect over the last 15 years. While most volunteer their time and efforts and the rest receive only a meager salary (trust us!), we do have substantial overhead costs for technical service, office space, legal expenses and so forth.

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