In evaluating a candidate for office, there are — ultimately — only two questions to ask:
- What has he done that is relevant to the office he seeks? and
- Can he get into office and, once there, deliver on his previous record?
All else is details.
Based on the answers to these questions, I believe Gov. Jon Huntsman is the best of the remaining candidates to challenge President Obama next fall. None of the others offer his combination of conservative accomplishment in office, electability against the president, and likelihood for success once there.
As to the first question, Governor Huntsman has a record of achievement in Utah that should give conservatives of all varieties much to applaud. Tax hawks can note that he reduced sales, business, and state income taxes, saving Utah’s taxpayers a net of $409M. Pro-lifers may note that Huntsman signed three anti-abortion bills while in office: one banning second-trimester abortions, another making third-trimester abortions count as felonies, and a third requiring abortion providers to explain that unborn children experience pain. Libertarians and gun-owners can celebrate his liberalization of Utah’s draconian alcohol laws and Utah H.B. 357, recognizing the right of citizens to carry concealed weapons on their property and in their vehicles without a license. As Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote in his superb profile of the governor this past summer:
In Jon Huntsman’s America, once a child survives the first trimester, he’s well on the way to having a rifle in his small hands and extra money in his pockets.
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Tom posted this at 1:27 PM CDT on Saturday, December 17th, 2011 as DON'T PANIC, Is It 2012 Yet?, Politics
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Remember how strange it was for the Democrats to nominate someone running as an anti-war candidate despite having voted to authorize the war he now opposed? Remember how Kerry spent most of the campaign talking about that rather than moving on to his other issues (whatever those may have been)? Remember how Kerry’s repeated explanation – that he supported the war until George Bush flubbed it up – never really caught on because it was plainly nothing more than political opportunism?
What is it with presidential candidates from Massachusetts all being the same?
Apollo posted this at 1:35 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 as Health Care, Is It 2012 Yet?
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If you can figure out why they rate this Rick Perry statement false, you’re a better reader than me. As best I can tell, Perry said to Romney, about Social Security, “You said if people did it in the private sector it would be called criminal. That’s in your book.” They rate this statement as “Mostly False” because Mitt Romney only said that the funding mechanism of Social Security – i.e. tax people today, write some I.O.U.s, and then pay them later with money taxed from other people – would be called criminal. Ah. But Social Security doesn’t exist apart from its funding mechanism. So… I guess Perry’s statement is false because Romney doesn’t believe the ideal of Social Security is criminal? Really?
I also saw this paragraph, summarizing a previous Politifact:
We’ve run several looks at Perry’s Social Security descriptions in his 2010 book, Fed Up!, rating False his claim that the government program is a Ponzi scheme. Unlike such a criminal enterprise, Social Security is obligated to pay benefits and participants are aware of how the system operates; it’s public. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, too, Social Security is accountable to Congress and the American people.
I refuse to read the linked piece because that summary tells me that it’s a pile of dunderheaded moronacy unfit for human consumption. “Social Security is obligated to pay benefits” is nonsense. “Social Security” is a government program that can be cut off at a moment’s notice, and the Supreme Court has ruled that no one has a right to any future payment. That’s like saying that “welfare is obligated to pay benefits.” It is, until it isn’t. Much like a … wait for it … Ponzi scheme!
And “participants are aware of how the system operates”? Every year I get a letter in the mail from Social Security telling me how much I’ve paid in over the years and how much my benefits would be if were able to retire tomorrow. And it’s only been very recently that people have stopped talking about the I.O.U.’s in the “trust fund” like they’re real money. And why is a penniless account called a “trust fund” if not to make people think there’s money in there waiting for them? Whether “participants” (this is like calling prisoners “residents”) are aware of what’s going on or not, the people who run Social Security sure have put a lot of effort into making it sound legitimate. Much like a … wait for it … Ponzi scheme!
And “Unlike a Ponzi scheme, too, Social Security is accountable to Congress and the American people”? Accountable to Congress? That’s like saying Ponzi’s scheme was accountable to Ponzi – he created the damned thing! And what does it mean to say that it’s “accountable to … the American people”? Really, I don’t know what that means. Can we throw Social Security in prison when it doesn’t pay out? I think the only way that it’s “accountable” is that we can vote to shut it down and cut our losses. Sounds to me like Social Security is “accountlbe” in much the same way as a … wait for it … Ponzi scheme!
Social Security : Ponzi Scheme :: State Lottery : Mob-run Numbers Racket. To paraphrase Nixon, when the government does it, that means it is not illegal.
Apollo posted this at 9:18 AM CDT on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, It's Economics - Stupid!, Journalism
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Mitt Romney thinks he has a winning issue against Rick Perry. Good luck with that.
I find the current Social Security “debate” to be ghastly. Everybody is pledging to “save” it, even those like Perry who seem to want enormous changes in the system. There are cries that it is unfair to the young and that it is inefficient in its rate of return. Yet everyone seems to believe that we can simply “strengthen” the system so that future generations will enjoy its benefits.
Well phooey on that. Social Security was created in the 1930s, when most people had very little or no investment, when making intelligent investment decisions was beyond the capability of the vast majority of individuals, when very few people lived many years after becoming old enough to receive benefits, and when the ratio of workers to retirees was high.
I find the notion that this system could still exist on the 100th anniversary of its creation (and lots of long term projections analyze its financial outlook on its 150th anniversary) to be horrifying. Is it really the case, given the enormous gains in wealth, knowledge, and technology that have occurred since the 1930s, given that everybody and his brother now has a personal retirement account (and those without one are that way because they actively choose to be that way), given that the knowledge required to make sound investment is widely disseminated and freely available, that financial advisors are a dime a dozen even in small poor towns, and that life spans are much longer and appear set to get much longer in the near future - is it really the case that a system created in the 1930s even vaguely approximates a good system in the modern world?
We’ve structured our federal government around supporting a system that, at best, provides the elderly with the bare minimum income required to keep eating. That may have been fine in the 1930s, maybe even into the 1990s, but can it really be the case that a rational person can want this system to still be in place in the 2030s? The 2090s? Can you picture Capt. Kirk looking forward to his Social Security check in the 23rd Century? To me, that’s a mortifying vision of the future.
There are good reasons to keep the payments in place for current and near-future beneficiaries. But for the love of God, taking my money now and promising me that I’ll have a bare trickle of income in forty years is offensive, and it shows a complete ignorance of the modern world. If Mitt Romney wants to make his campaign about the brain-dead policy of preserving Social Security to infinity and beyond, I hope he loses. This is not a forward-looking conservatism.
Apollo posted this at 9:59 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, It's Economics - Stupid!
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Apparently Maureen Dowd thinks that if you get bad grades in college you should crawl under a rock and die in shame. If I were pandering to readers of the New York Times, I would probably write a similar thing.
But if I were instead a thinking man, I might realize that stupid is as stupid does. Query:* If Rick Perry’s so dumb, how come he’s been so successful? And if Barrack Obama’s so smart, why has his presidency become a universally recognized disaster?
Obviously, if I were reallya thinking man I wouldn’t care about what grades presidential candidates got in college. But what if I were a half-way thinking man? I might wonder why I was judging Rick Perry based on knowledge of his college grades, but I was judging Barrack Obama in without knowledge of his college grades. That ponderance might spark some additional self-reflection.
* See, I went to a highly selective liberal arts college and graduated with honors from a borderline prestigious law school (and I even believe in evolution!), so I’m allowed to say terribly pretentious things like “Query,” even when questioning my intellectual betters at the Times.
Apollo posted this at 10:41 AM CDT on Monday, September 19th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Kulturkampf
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In my guts I know he’s nuts, but I think I’d really like a President Paul. When he commented that if we withdrew our soldiers from Afghanistan we could spend the savings on “children’s programs or whatever,” the man earned a spot in my heart forever. Tonight, I raise a glass to the good Dr. P.
Apollo posted this at 8:58 PM CDT on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 as Conservatism, Is It 2012 Yet?
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I’m torn as to which part of this story is funnier. The main portion of the story features a bunch of leftists hyperventilating; if I were to combine the comments of the various interest groups into a single image, it would be Rick Perry handing out guns, bought with secret corporate contributions, to the men of Texas and telling them to shoot their women when they are unclean according to the laws of Leviticus. If that’s not funny enough, though, the story ends with Ed Koch pointing out that his litmus test for who to support for the presidency is whether a candidate believes in evolution. Never mind that Perry hasn’t said he doesn’t believe in evolution; it’s the irrelevancy that gets me. Imagine a creationist announcing that he won’t vote for a candidate who does believe in evolution, and I suspect the humor will get to you.
At any rate, Politico does a better-than-expected job of getting a small amount of truth into this story. Like the caption for the picture pointing out that ”The epidemic of liberal angst isn’t just a matter of specific Rick Perry policies.” No, it’s a matter of identity politics for the self-identified intellectuals. And where the story points out that the number of executions has actually decreased under Perry. The story would have been more truthful if it had pointed out that the number of executions has almost nothing to do with the governor (he doesn’t pass the sentences or schedule the executions, and he couldn’t stop them if he wanted to), but that level of truth might have overwhelmed the humor value of the story.
Added: Also worth checking out for unsupported Perryphobia is this Dana Milbank column in which he brands Perry a “theocrat” because Perry has strongly held religious beliefs. Missing from the column is, as best I can tell, any example of Perry attempting to use law to enforce religion, which would seem to be essential to theocracy. The title of the column is “Perry is no libertarian,” but as best I can tell there’s only one comment in the column that is inconsistent with being a libertarian (the bit about the pledge of allegience, but that quote has the ring of being taken out of context). Milbank seems to be working off the assumption that libertarians don’t abide by morality, advocate that others abide by morality, or believe in a religion. Libertarians can do all of those things, they just don’t want to use force to coerce others into doing those things. The article might more correctly be titled, “Perry is no libertine.”
Apollo posted this at 11:25 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Kulturkampf
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So I read this hilarious David Brooks column. Without saying as much, Brooks seems utterly horrified at Rick Perry. Personally, I don’t care what David Brooks thinks; the Republicans could nominate David Brooks and he’d still find an excuse to write a preening column endorsing Obama one week before the election.
But he concludes with a thought, variations of which I’ve seen a few times:
The second line of attack [for Romney] is to shift what the campaign is about. If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children’s prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney. He’s just more credible as someone who can manage economic problems, build human capital and nurture an innovation-based global economy.
Huh? Why would he seem more credible at that? Rick Perry has been governor of Texas for ten years, during which it has grown by 4.3 million people (20%); in the last 10 years (only 4 of which involved Mitt Romney), Massachusetts grew by about 200,000 people (3.1%). Texas gained 4 congressional seats; Massachusetts lost 1 (last time Massachusetts gained a seat? 1910). Under Rick Perry, Texas has gone from worse than Massachusetts in unemployment, to about the same (all while absorbing a new population of 4.3 million; it has taken Massachusetts since 1890 to add 4.3 million residents to its population). Go here and poke around; in 2000, per capita GDP in Texas was 81.8% that of Massachusetts, and in 2010 it’s 83% (in 1990, it was 84%, so Texas lossed ground to Massachusetts during the 90s, then gained on Massachusetts during the Perry years, 4 of which overlapped with the Romney years).
I don’t want to turn this into bash Massachusetts time; plainly that’s not my intention. By any number of measurement it’s a nicer place than Texas (divorce rate, illegitimacy, literacy, personal income, summer weather). But Brooks (and some others I’ve seen but ignored) specifically asked who is more credible at “manag[ing] economic problems, build[ing] human capital[,] and nurtur[ing] an innovation-based … economy.” Perry has done just that in Texas; during the current downturn, the strength of the Texas economy that Perry has presided over has caused the state to really stand out. Romney was governor of Massachusetts for four years, during which … well, I guess it was a fine enough state to live in, but I don’t remember stories about the booming Massachusetts economy, or Massachusetts doing markedly better than other states, or Massachusetts being the place to move,the sorts of stories we’ve seen about Texas for most of the last decade.
So looking at their track records, why would Brooks so flippantly assert that Romney’s “just more credible” on this front? Beats me. My presumption is that there is a subset of respectable Republicanish types who view any believing Christian from south of Mason & Dixon as nothing more than a backwoods culture warrior. I’m already seeing Perry being painted in this way, but I don’t get the impression that’s how he’s running his campaign (notice Jonah’s article doesn’t really show any examples of Perry picking these fights). He’s got a genuinely excellent record of achievement in public office to run on – better than any Republican nominee’s since, at least, Reagan – and I’d prefer to see the northeastern snoots at least pretend to address that before blowing him off as some bumpkin who’s unfit to carry Mitt Romney’s sandals.
Apollo posted this at 10:22 PM CDT on Friday, August 26th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Wicked Crazy Massachusetts
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Of course they’re on his side, but this story makes me wonder how much. I noted a few of days ago that the Obama people were starting to lie about what Rick Perry said about secession. The story I linked above shows they’re continuing this tactic:
“The statements that Perry makes are remarkable in that just two years ago, the governor of Texas openly talked about leading Texas out of the United States of America, and now this campaign has caused him to profess his love to the United States,” Gibbs said during an appearance on MSNBC.
I presumed these lies would continue uncorrected until Perry had to make a statement or something. But there, in an AP story, appears the following:
Perry never advocated Texas actually would break away from the United States at a tea party rally in 2009, but he did suggest that Texans might get so fed up they’d want to secede at some point.
Holy smokes. Journalists correcting the open and scurrilous lies of the Obama reelection effort, and so early in the campaign. I do not believe Obama can count on the same level of media cheerleading he got last time, and I don’t think he will know how to handle that situation.
P.S. If you believe Robert Gibbs capable of sincerity, it would be ironic to see him making the flippant accusation, ““Any day now Rick Perry will probably ask to see the president’s birth certificate.” It would be ironic, because the Obama people said the birth certificate thing was a baseless, made-up smear, and here’s Robert Gibbs using it as a baseless, made-up smear against others; as far as I know, Perry’s never said peep about the matter.
Prediction: Before this is over we will hear Democrats openly stating that they regret that Obama caved to Trump on the birth certificate. The president sprang the trap too early – had he held on to it until, say, September, he could have gotten a lot more Republicans to say goofy things about it.
9/18 Update: The people at PolitiFact rate the White House’s secession meme as “False.” I’m not a fan of PolitiFact, and, judging by their past work, would have expected them to find some glint of truth in the allegation. Bully for them, and a bad omen for the president.
Apollo posted this at 6:53 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Running with the antelope, Scorched Earth
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Better question: Does this actually surprise anyone? There are exactly two types of people in this country: 1. The type who see an edited video of a thrice elected governor of the second largest state referring to the first black president as a “black cloud” hanging over the country and presume that the video has been dishonestly edited and interpreted; and 2. The type who watch MSNBC. I suspect there are more of the former than the latter.
I’ll answer my original question now: Because no one with both talent and integrity would show their face on that channel.
Apollo posted this at 12:13 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Scorched Earth
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Every time I see her give an extended interview, like here, I come away thinking better of her. Of course, every time I see David Gregory do an extended interview I want to see his hair catch on fire. I suspect I’d think better of Kim Jong-Il after watching him be subjected to a half hour of David Gregory’s personal obsession with proving that he’s smarter than you.
Apollo posted this at 11:32 AM CDT on Sunday, August 14th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism
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Oh man, I’ve lived in Texas for four years now, and I am quite excited that the rest of you guys are going to get to meet Rick Perry. I encourage you to read about the man (this story, linked from Drudge, covers Perry’s rural Texas childhood), but here’s what you need to know:
1. He is the most important man in the room. I’ve personally seen him in a large room full of very important people, and he stood out as obviously the most important. During last year’s Republican primary he was opposed by Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Hutchinson is well liked here, has won numerous state wide elections, and is a sitting U.S. Senator. Standing with Perry on the debate stage, she looked like his secretary. Perry wears French cuffs with cowboy boots without the slightest hint of affectation. How? Because he’s the most important man in the room.
2. The man is a political hovercraft: he skims over the choppiest water without getting tossed about. He’s made a few proposals here that have not gone over well at all (requiring HPV vaccinations for girls; a very large highway building scheme), but at the end of the day he comes out smelling like daisies. I’ve never met another person who actually admits liking the governor, but then he beats a sitting U.S. Senator 51-30 in a primary, and trounces the mayor of the state’s largest city 55-42 in the general election. There are things that happen that seem like bad political news for Perry, but they actually have little effect on election results.
3. The man is a bona fide conservative. Not a nobles oblige conservative like W., not a that-seems-like-the-right-thing-to-do-for-my-country-right-now conservative like McCain, but a genuine conservative. Like most of us who grew up in rural America, he understands that pretty much any time the federales get involved in the lives of citizens, it’s bad for the citizens. He believes – like a good Hobbesian – that government needs to be small, predictable, and out of sight. Don’t let the libertoids distract you by pointing to some weird religious practices they may object to; this man would certainly be the most conservative and libertarian president since Reagan. The comparisons may, actually, need to go back farther than that.
4. He doesn’t lose.
Apollo posted this at 12:21 AM CDT on Friday, August 12th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Is It 2012 Yet?
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From this story about my governor’s choice of prayer partners:
Meanwhile, some have criticized Perry for teaming with the event’s host organization, the American Family Association, which regularly organizes protests of companies that it considers too gay-friendly. An association spokesman has also been highly critical of Islam and suggested that the Nazi party was founded “in a gay bar in Munich.”
Is that last statement true? The journalist who wrote the story felt no need to explore that question; he just gave the quote and expected readers to be appalled. I abhor this style of journalism, because it seems to be used exclusively against one side of the political spectrum.
If what the guy said was true, it would certainly be an interesting historical bit, though I’m not positive I would draw any conclusions about the modern world from that fact. I mean, the Nazi party was unquestionably founded in a German bar in Munich, yet modern Germans seem okay enough. I’ve attempted to research the statement, but all I can find are gay groups pointing at the statement as an example of hate speech, and people who support the American Family Association saying that it’s an historical fact because they read it in the same book that that the spokesman. Snopes has nothing.
Since journalists won’t tell us whether the statement is true, I’ll idly speculate. On its face, the statement isn’t outlandish – I don’t know much about gay bars in Weimar Germany and don’t feel like that general topic is worth my time, but at the least the statement isn’t impossible. In my experience, when you say unflattering things about people on the left and they respond by pointing at your statement as patently offensive without addressing its merits, that’s a pretty good sign that what you’ve said was true. Moreover, the Southern Poverty Law Center is involved, which almost guarantees some level of chicanery.
But I also have to think that if it was true, it’s the sort of thing we would have all heard by now. Hitler’s masculinity has never been beyond the pale in Allied countries, and World War II occurred during a time when being gay was not widely seen as a good and masculine thing. The Nazis had numerous political enemies who escaped Germany before the war and would have probably been happy to reveal this fact if it was true (or even believable in the context of the times). Overall, I think this weighs more heavily than my presumption that flakking Leftists are obscuring the truth. I’d say it’s probably not true that the Nazi party was founded in a gay bar.
Apollo posted this at 11:55 AM CDT on Monday, August 8th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Kulturkampf
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My governor seems to think that my state’s public universities should be more student-focused and less expensive. The Washington Post manages to report this like it’s a bad thing.
Apollo posted this at 11:11 AM CDT on Thursday, August 4th, 2011 as Edjamacation, Is It 2012 Yet?
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While I doubt Michelle Bachmann’s migraines should disqualify her from the presidency, her prepared (!) response to this issue appears to be nonsense:
But I’d like to be abundantly clear: My ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief.
I sincerely hope that was mistranscribed. Or perhaps it’s a sideways comment on her view of the presidency?
Note: The blog post from Michael Crowley ends with what I consider to be the most pernicious storyline from campaign correspondents, that “the pertinent question” is whether or not a candidate is a good campaigner. No, Mikey, “the pertinent question” is whether a candidate is well-suited for the relevant office. Whether the candidate can put up with obnoxious journalists may or may not be a related question – and I’m sure it’s a pertinent question for you - but we’re trying to pick a president here, not a campaigner-in-chief.
Apollo posted this at 3:14 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism
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