Wednesday, February 13, 2008

McCain on Lantos

From McCain's Senate Office:

I was deeply saddened to learn today about the passing of Congressman Lantos. A patriot, a statesman, and a man of great courage, Tom Lantos demonstrated throughout his life the values that have made his adopted country a great nation.

The only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress, Tom Lantos knew the dangers and cruelty of despotism. In resolving to oppose tyranny with all his might, he formed a lasting and fitting legacy, one that will be marked by his love of liberty.

Congressman Lantos’ steadfast support of the expansion of democracy and human rights to lands where they are denied helped transform the lives of many who never met him. I am honored to have known this remarkable American patriot, and I mourn his passing.

more on the late remarkably Honorable Democratic Representative from San Fransisco (!)

And let's not forget his remarkable speech at the dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial:

Hey McCain, Give em a Buckeye and Milk it for all it's Worth!

A memo from Rick Davis of the McCain campaign states:

Until John McCain secures 1,191 delegates, we must campaign aggressively for the Republican nomination, and that requires additional resources in some of the most populous states in the country. We cannot turn our attention to the Democrats and their enormous war chests until this nomination is secure, and we cannot accomplish that goal without your additional help.
Okay, so, this is a fundraising letter - but I do think there is a misconception here, in my opinion.
That is - there's no reason McCain can't run against the Democrats and for the nomination at the same time.

It is true that Texas is a big state with a lot of delegates that McCain will win in November anyway, and so wouldn't need to spend much time there. But there's also some oppurtunities McCain can take advantage of while he's fighting to get the rest of the delegates he needs to make the nomination official.

For some of the states coming up, such as Vermont and Rhode Island, McCain is a pretty sure bet to win the nomination and yet it is unlikely, given recent trends, for the GOP to win there in November. On the other hand there are some places which McCain can build up enthusiasm for his nomination at the same time as he seeks out voters for the general.

This month, the next big state primary is Wisconsin. A few weeks later is Ohio. In these two cases we have states that McCain needs to appeal to not in order to win the nomination contest, but also because these are "swing" states. Considering trends in recent elections, in order for John McCain to win the Presidency he will need to win one or the other. Bush lost Wisconsin both in 2000 and 2004 by a margin of less than 0.5 %. Bush won Ohio both times by less than 4 %. Since Ohio is worth 20 electoral votes to Wisconsin's 10, Ohio is more crucial. Still, Wisconsin could prove vital as well, especially if Iowa or another state goes Democratic. And the fact that McCain has worked closely with Sen. Feingold may help swing independents. Ohio and Wisconsin are both real possibilities for McCain to win in November, but neither is a sure bet right now. It would make sense to take this opportunity to focus on these two states and reach out to general election voters while at the same time reaching out to the Republican base. Both independents and Republicans are able to vote in the primaries of Ohio and Wisconsin, and McCain will need the support of both groups in order to win in the general.

GOP Delegate contests - the month ahead

2/16 Guam caucus....number of delegates= 9 strong McCain
2/19 Wisconsin primary............................40 strong McCain
..........Washington primary.........................19 leans McCain
2/23 American Samoa caucus.....................9 strong McCain
..........Northern Mariana caucus..................9 tossup/unknown
..........Virgin Islands caucus..........................9 leans McCain
2/24 Puerto Rico caucus........(WTA)........23 strong McCain
3/4 Ohio primary........................................88 leans McCain
....Texas (combined caucus/primary)...140 leans McCain
... .Rhode Island primary............................20 strong McCain
.........Vermont primary ........(WTA).........17 strong McCain
3/11 Mississippi primary...........................39 tossup/unknown

total delegates at stake in next month: 422
delegates McCain needs to have a majority: 1191 - 827 = 364

Some have argued Huckabee needs to drop out for the sake of the party. Others have argued Huckabee's continued presence will end up making McCain a stronger candidate in the general.
I'm not completely convinced either way. The one thing that's clear is that McCain really needs to win consistently and decisively in the major primary contests for him to be the undisputed, official Republican nominee by this time next month. The next primary after that isn't until Pennsylvania on April 22!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Canterbury Tales? . . . Rowan Down the River?

I haven't been paying much attention to the exegesis being done on the Archbishop's recent statements on Muslim law, but I have noticed a lot of people are quite upset. The witty Wittenburg Door suggests its too much ado:

Afternoon Tea Would be Abolished by Shariah Law

Everybody went nutzoid in London last week when Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was in favor of letting Muslims in Britain take their cases to Shariah courts. A quick survey of those condemning the Archbishop’s speech would include Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the head of the Tories, the head of the Liberal Democrats, Muslim leader Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, and just about everyone who flooded the BBC website with comments. What the Archbishop said, in a speech given at the Royal Courts of Justice for the benefit of lawyers, was that he thinks Muslim practice should be brought in line with practices already set up for Orthodox Jews and devout Catholics, who are allowed to use ecclesiastical courts for domestic matters, but then have the right to appeal to civil courts if they’re unsatisfied. In England, this passes for revolutionary thought.

Anyway, whatever the fuss is all about - even if Rowan is dreadfully wrong - while I'm not Anglican, I can't help but like the guy on some level. Partly I think he's admirable enough just for trying so hard to keep a worldwide congregation together that seems all too intent on splitting over the issue of homosexuality.

And I find his little recent announcement here on disposability vs. stewardship resonates a bit -

After all, in our polarized political discourse, it's all too easy sometimes to forget that real faith and true conservatism alike call us to transcend mere consumerism.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Petrilli on Huckabee as Sec of Ed

I've been meaning to write a post on why I believe Mike Huckabee would make an excellent Secretary of Education.

To my pleasant surprise, looks like I'm not the only one who is thinking this.

from Hoover fellow Michael Petrilli's article at National Review:

The governor, rare among Republican candidates, shows an affinity for education, and an ability to connect with parents and teachers. Like Bennett, Alexander, or Riley before him, he also knows how to communicate in today’s vernacular. And he has a strong record on education (save for some paleo views on evolution), even if his position on vouchers hasn’t always been crystal clear.

Huckabee’s folksy charm plays especially well with an education system that prides itself on its “niceness.” He has championed art and music education on the campaign trail — a boutique issue but one that illustrates his concern for the real stuff of the classroom and for kids who can do more than read and cipher. An ability to connect to, and inspire, what happens inside schools is the most important attribute for the next education secretary to have.

We stand at a unique moment in history. The last two decades have witnessed dizzying change and endless education reform, culminating with NCLB. A backlash against high standards, clear accountability, and greater choice is gaining steam. What’s needed from Washington is not more shoot-the-moon rhetoric and top-down mandates, but leadership. We need a credible education secretary who can effectively communicate this simple message: accountability and competition are here to stay.

In other words, education reform could use a kinder, gentler face — but one backed by steely principle.

Moreover, we need policies that give the nation’s governors — the true drivers of school change — the room to innovate again. That means updating NCLB to be friendlier to reform-minded leaders at the state and local level. As a former governor, Huckabee could lead this update with credibility, thoughtfulness, and poise.
I'll post more of my own thoughts on this later.

The Passing of Rep. Tom Lantos - Champion of Human Rights

California Congressman Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, died today.

"It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family, and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a Member of Congress," Lantos said earlier this year. "I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country."
Andrew Cochran writes:
He was also vocal in pressing for aid to Darfur to save innocent civilians from slaughter and was one of five Congressmen arrested in 2006 for protesting outside the Sudanese Embassy.

The victims of terrorism across the globe always had a vocal supporter and solid vote for their interests in Tom Lantos. He will be missed.

He was born in Hungary in 1928 as Lantos Tamás Péter. Swampland notes:
As a teenager, Lantos fought in the anti-Nazi resistance in Hungary, and was sent to a labor camp. He escaped, was recaptured and beaten, and escaped again. Lantos found refuge with an aunt in one of the famous safe houses that were maintained by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Because his blond hair and blue eyes made him look "Aryan," he was able to move around Budapest in a military cadet's uniform, delivering food and medicine to others who were hiding in safe houses.
Sen. Lieberman said:
"Tom Lantos was deeply dedicated to the promotion of freedom and human rights because he intimately knew the horror of tyranny. Congressman Lantos was an effective and tireless ally of all those throughout the world who were struggling to achieve liberty and justice. The heroic life of Tom Lantos is an inspiration to all of us who must rededicate ourselves to continue his profound and lasting legacy."
Last year PajamasMedia documented Tom Lantos taking on the internet giants for their acquiescence to Chinese tyranny.

Chesapeake Primaries

Tomorrow 119 delegates are at stake in the Republican primaries. Whether Huckabee continues his campaign may depend on whether or not he can score a victory in Virginia.

DC 19 delegates (winner take all)

MD 37 delegates (24 winner by district, 10 statewide winner)

VA 63 delegates (winner take all)

polls show McCain way ahead in both Maryland and Virginia. Of course, it will all depend on *turnout*. My guess is that McCain will win all three contests, but in Virginia - the biggest prize - it could be close.

sources: wikipedia, the green papers

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ross on the Republican Reformation

Ross Douthat, Atlantic blogger and one of my favorite bloggingheads, wrote an Op-Ed for today's NYT (h/t Colecurtis):

. . . After being denounced as a tax-and-spender and a pro-life liberal, Mr. Huckabee won four primaries in four Republican strongholds, including Alabama and Georgia. Mr. McCain split the frequent-churchgoer vote with Mr. Romney, and eclipsed him among evangelical Christians, even though the religious-conservative poobah James Dobson has promised to sit out the November election if Mr. McCain becomes the Republican nominee.

The failure of conservative voters to fall in line behind Mr. Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, among others, reflects a deeper problem for the movement’s leadership. With their inflexibility, grudge-holding and eagerness to evict heretics rather than seek converts, too many of conservatism’s leaders sound like the custodians of a dwindling religious denomination or a politically correct English department at a fading liberal-arts college.

Or like yesterday’s Democratic Party. The tribunes of the American right have fallen into the same bad habits that doomed their liberal rivals to years of political failure.

In spite of his record as a maverick, John McCain has become the presumptive nominee by running a classic Republican campaign, emphasizing strength abroad and limited government at home, with nods to his pro-life record. His opponents in the conservative movement, by contrast, have behaved like caricatures of liberals, emphasizing a host of small-bore litmus tests that matter more to Beltway insiders than to the right-winger on the street.

Republican primary voters who turned to Mr. Limbaugh for their marching orders were asked to believe that Mr. McCain’s consistently hawkish record — on Iraq, Iran, the size of the military and any other issue you care to name — mattered less to his standing as a conservative than his views on waterboarding. Or that his extensive record as a free-trader, a tax-cutter and an opponent of pork-barrel spending wasn’t sufficient to qualify him as an economic conservative, because he had opposed a particular set of upper-bracket tax cuts in 2001.

Similarly, religious conservatives who listened to James Dobson were asked to believe that Mr. McCain’s consistent pro-life voting record was less important than the impact his campaign-finance bill had on the National Right to Life Committee’s ability to purchase issue ads on television 60 days before an election. Or that his consistent support for conservative judicial nominees, and his pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of John Roberts and Sam Alito, mattered less than his involvement in the “Gang of 14” compromise on judicial filibusters. . . .

There is indeed something very un-conservative among those whose dissatisfaction with McCain lead them to a stance of in all-or-nothing results, forgetting as they do that politics is the art of the possible rather than the commanding of ideals. As Thomas Jefferson put it to his cousin John Randolph in 1803:
". . . Experience having long taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion among those who are to act together for any common object, and the expediency of doing what good we can; when we cannot do all we would wish."

Huckabee's Farm Subsidy Dilemna

Huckabee is well known for his own struggle with obesity and his emphasis on helping keep America healthy by fighting obesity.

Of course he also loves farm subsidies like a fat boy loves cake.

And it looks his admirable desire to fight global warming isn't helped by his advocacy of ethanol.

And of course, his concern for the poor in Africa isn't helped by these farm subsidies either.

I really like Mike Huckabee, but on this issue he couldn't be more wrong. It's pretty clear John McCain will be our next GOP candidate, but I think this is an example of why Gov. Huckabee is unfortunately not qualified to be a heartbeat away from the oval office.

Who is the candidate willing to stand up for a sensible farm policy?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

McCain, Feingold Support 2nd Amendment

They're just two of the 55 Senators who signed an amicus brief on the D.C. gun ban before the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post reports:

"This court should give due deference to the repeated findings over different historical epochs by Congress, a co-equal branch of government, that the amendment guarantees the personal right to possess firearms," their brief contends.

"The District's prohibitions on mere possession by law-abiding persons of handguns in the home and having usable firearms there are unreasonable."

. . .

All Senate Republicans except three -- Virginia's maverick Sen. John W. Warner was one of the missing -- signed on to the brief. Nine Democratic senators -- Virginia's other maverick, Sen. James Webb was among them -- joined the effort. The total was 55 senators and 250 House members, 68 of whom were Democrats.

Webb campaigned in 2006 as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Warner said in a statement he stayed out of the case because of respect for home rule.

"While the District of Columbia is not a state, it operates under a framework of laws enacted by the Congress which gives its elected leaders the duty to advocate the positions and interest of its citizens before the federal judiciary," he said.

As neither Sens. Obama nor Clinton signed the brief, NRO's Jim Geraghty sees this as
"One more major contrast between the expected Republican nominee and either of the potential Democratic nominees.."

Mitt Romney - Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It:

Take the
to ....

. . . & in 2010, take on

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is Irrational Arrogance a Conservative Principle?

Kathleen Turner in "The Audacity of Compromise" writes of those who would sacrifice the next four or more years to the Democrats in order to spite McCain:

To be sure, political cannibalism makes for interesting dinner conversation, but the winner eventually starves to death.

It isn't necessary to love everything McCain has done to vote for him should he be the nominee. But it isn't possible to argue that there's no difference between McCain and Clinton (or Barack Obama), as some Republicans insist.

A form of irrational conservatism has taken hold when being true to oneself or to the party is viewed as more important than, say, turning over the country to people who want to raise taxes and impose socialized health care.

Principles shouldn't be so inflexible that strict adherence elevates a worse alternative.

McCain, it's true has taken some positions that are unorthodox to conservatives:

These are positions with which conservatives would naturally argue. And perhaps they are right that McCain is more moderate than conservative, but so is the nation. Alternatively, McCain's maverick lawmaking might be viewed as principled compromise -- or at least an earnest attempt to inject humane ethics into the mix.

Serious people don't really believe that the U.S. government is going to round up 11 million or 12 million people and ship them back to wherever they came from. It isn't going to happen.

Government parceling of free speech via McCain-Feingold, a portion of which has been found unconstitutional, can't otherwise be justified unless you figure, as McCain does, that purchased speech isn't free. When some people have greater access to "free speech" by virtue of their deeper pockets, then one could fairly argue that less prosperous people are denied free speech.

McCain's fire-breathing opponents, meanwhile, disregard his support of other positions Republicans hold dear. He has a strong pro-life voting record (except for supporting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research), has opposed wasteful spending, and has been steadfast in supporting the war. But, stepping outside the GOP box, he opposes torture, including waterboarding.

How dare a man who was tortured for five years in a Vietnamese prison depart from the party line?

Anti-McCain rage for many comes down to personality. He doesn't play nice and his independence annoys those who prefer the team player mentality.

But Republicans' obstinance in claiming to prefer Clinton to McCain is arrogance of a Clintonian order. To wit: Hillary Clinton has said that as president she would not listen to generals in Iraq and would withdraw troops no matter what . . .

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Senator McCain, Come to the Old Dominion !

Well, now that Romney's out, finally the two leading candidates will be respectful and courteous to one another - even if sometimes their supporters won't.

Now it must be said that after losing California in almost every county and congressional district after spending millions of dollars of his own money, Romney really had no way of winning this thing.

But what he has still managed to do is give us the possibility of a brokered convention. And this may be even more likely now that he's officially out of the race.

The news media are still underestimating Huckabee and his supporters, even after all this time. No, there is no way for Huckabee to catch up with McCain. But this thing still has the possibility of being extended a few months if not all the way to the convention in the Fall.

How does Huckabee stay in the game? For one thing, he's very likely to win the caucus in Kansas this Saturday.

On Tuesday we have primaries in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. Huckabee is very competitive here in Virginia. The last thing McCain needs now is the idea that he is inevitable, thus leading his supporters to stay home on primary day.

If Huckabee wins Virginia, he'll be competitive in Texas and Ohio. That means this thing could go on until Pennsylvania in late April.

McCain needs to officially wrap this nomination up as soon as possible.

The best way for him to do that is to stay on the campaign trail.

So Senator McCain, Virginia will be honored to have you with us!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Californians Find Themselves in McCain Territory

It looks like McCain struck gold all across the State - from San Diego to San Fransisco to Sacramento to Del Norte.

Take a look at these maps - only three counties went for Romney, and in over a dozen counties the margin of victory for McCain was in the thousands. Romney's biggest margin of victory was 662 in Shasta County.

Of course, the delegates are awarded by congressional district, not by counties - but it seems McCain is ahead in 51 out of 53.

So out of California's 170 delegates, McCain will win about 164.

And this in a closed primary, McCain's statewide margin over Romney is 8 percent.

The CNN exit poll indicates, surprisingly, that McCain only carried one-third of Lations, but almost two-thirds of Asian-Americans. I would have expected McCain to do better among Latinos than among the general population of Republicans, but this doesn't seem to be the case. However, McCain did still place first among Latinos, and Huckabee came in second. Among Asian-Americans, Giuliani - who dropped out of the race last week - did better than Romney.

Less than half of California Republican primary voters believe in deporting illegal immigrants. Three-fourths of the primary voters were White non-Latinos, and they didn't flock to Romney's anti-"amnesty" position. San Diego and Imperial, right on the border, went for McCain - dashing Romney's hopes of cashing in on his embrace of the Tancredo wing of the party in a place he might of expected resentment toward immigrants. Even as conservatives rightly are concerned about the rule of law, it seems that - right here on the border - most are not driven by the hate that characterizes the rhetoric of pundits who live far removed from the problem.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Huckabee steals middle-class southern evangelical votes from rich northern Mormon?

It's driving me nuts. The MSM keeps repeating the same old trope. Apparently, they still believe that Christian conservatives are uneducated and easy to command. And the Romney camp and his pals at Clear Channel are feeding this idea to the media, suggesting that Huckabee supporters are just stupid fodder for McCain's campaign and ought to rally around their annointed resurrected Reagan, Mitt Romney.

I just saw on CNN Anderson Cooper asking Democratic strategist Donna Brazille if Huckabee's presence in the race is hurting Romney's chances in the South. (As though this liberal Democrat has some special insight into the minds of the conservative Republican electorate?) She of course gave the oft-repeated conventional wisdom without any real data top back it up.

But I keep wondering - how many people do these media political elites even know who is voting for Huckabee? Of course they probably don't know any because Huckabee's stronghold is not in the D.C. beltway and the Manhattan press offices. These are the people who couldn't imagine in 1980 that anyone was voting for Reagan because of course they didn't know anyone who was voting for Reagan. Well as long as we are peddling in anecdotes, I know a number of people who are Huckabee supporters and none of them are excited in the least about Romney.

Folks, there isn't just some abstract "conservative" vote out there that Romney and Huckabee are splitting. All four of the GOP candidates are conservatives of one stripe or another. Ron Paul is a paleolibertarian Robert Taft conservative. McCain is a progressive traditionalist - a conservative in intuition and values rather than ideology - a virtue warrior rather than a culture warrior. Huckabee is a reformist anti-globalist social conservative. And Romney is a white bread technocrat institutionalist conservative. The conservatism of Huckabee is in spirit at least as different from the conservatism of Romney as it is from McCain or Ron Paul.

Medved notes:

To believe that Huck and Mitt are dividing conservatives, you have to believe that Huckabee is a conservative --- which Romney, Limbaugh, Igraham, and countless others have been denying (stridently and strenuously) for months. . . Either the elite commentators were wrong when they labeled Huckabee a “liberal populist,” or they are wrong now when they say he’s stealing conservative votes from Romney. The only other alternative is that they view conservative voters as just too stupid to see Huckabee for what he really is.
Patrick Ruffini writes:
The Romney campaign’s February 5th math is simple: move all the voters from the Huckabee pile onto theirs and claim a majority of conservatives. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.
To this Brainster replies:
What do you mean, not simple? Just move the pile! Now note what's not said at all; what the Huckabee pile is going to receive in return; one suspects that it's the chance to help Mitt Romney over the hump. Now of course, it should come as no news to anybody that Mike Huckabee isn't interested in this game. He has on many occasions expressed his admiration for Senator McCain, and his disdain for Mitt Romney.
And it's not just Huckabee who prefers McCain to Romney. Huckabee supporters seem to feel the same way. These numbers show three-fifths of Huckabee voters having a favorable view of McCain, while less than two-fifths have a favorable view of Romney.

Ruffini also notes the cultural and geographical difference in the Romney and Huckabee vote:

The problem with this analysis is that I’ve seen no evidence that Huckabee voters would go to Romney. On a county level, the Romney and Huckabee votes are negatively correlated, with Romney representing the conservative side of the Chamber of Commerce/Rotary Club vote and not really showing outsized strength with Evangelicals.
I've been looking at this sort of county level results at my new political geography blog. In states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina, Romney has done his best in the more urban areas, and Huckabee has done best in rural areas. McCain has done well in both urban and rural areas, among both lower and upper middle class, among both young and old. On a demographic level, it appears that McCain actually bridges the constituencies of the older and white-collar Romney voters and the younger and blue-collar Huckabee enthusiasts.

If we had excluded Huckabee from this race, its possible Fred Thompson could have gained some real ground in the Bible-belt deep South. But to expect that this would be the case for Romney is only slightly more realistic than the idea of Mormons voting en masse for Huckabee.

Is John McCain's nomination inevitable? No, it's not. It's possible that Romney will win the largest share of California's delegates. But McCain has locked up the Northeast (sans Massachusetts), and Romney looks like he's behind both McCain and Huckabee in every state south of the Mason-Dixon line or with a central time zone. Romney's road to the nominattion depends on a few closed caucuses along with his support from Money, Mormons, Michigan, and - maybe - Massachusetts. It's not impossible , but- as Anna Marie Cox points out*- it requires a bit of mental gymnastics.

*h/t ENHQ

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Party of Hate vs The Party of Lincoln

Neal Boortz calls Hurricane victims "parasites" (- but oh, I'm sure he's not meaning to imply anything racial)

Glenn Beck is calling a war hero a traitor while simultaneously implying the same of Mexican-Americans when he calls him "Juan McCain"

For myself, I'll take Juan McCain, or Jean McCain or even Ivan McCain or whatever you want to call him, for the future of America, and to salvage and renew the Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan from narrow-minded pseudo-conservative xenophobes.

(Is calling them xenophobes instead of just racists too generous?)