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December 7, 2011

Posted by: Scott @ 9:12 am
Filed under: Politics

There was a bit of a kerfluffle a couple of days ago when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Talking Points Memo

“One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich.  When the time is right. … I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.

A little background here: Pelosi served on an ethics committee that investigated Gingrich for tax cheating and campaign finance violations in the late ’90s.

Gingrich, in response to Pelosi’s threat to reveal some indeterminite juicy tidbits of information about him, fired back by stating that Pelosi would be violating House rules and abusing the ethics process if she disclosed anything from the ethics investigation.”That is a fundamental violation of the rules of the House,” said Gingrich. “She’s now prepared to totally abuse the ethics process.”  He also called for the House to condemn Pelosi if she were to reveal anything from the ethics probe.  He called Pelosi’s statement an “early Christmas gift.”  Whatever that means.  Sounds very Newtish, though.But here’s the interesting part:  after Gingrich responded, a Pelosi spokesman—not Pelosi herself, but her minion—covered her tracks by saying that she was “clearly referring to the extensive amount of information that is in the public record, including the comprehensive committee report with which the public may not be fully aware.”


So let me see if I’ve got this straight:  Pelosi was saying that, when the time was right—presumably when such information would be most effective, or more to the point, most damaging to Newt—Pelosi will reveal to us information that has been in the public domain and public knowledge for over a dozen years (since at least 1998).

I’m sitting on pins and needles here.

Here’s the deal (as if you need me to tell you this): Newt Gingrich evokes a visceral reaction from most Democrats.  Not to put too fine a point on it: they hate him.  Maybe it’s his bluntness.  Maybe it’s his curmudgeonly character.  Maybe it’s the fact that he tends to thwart them at almost every turn.  Maybe it’s the fact that he’s right, he’s got history on his side, he knows it, and he can talk circles around most anyone else because of it.  Maybe it’s his great head of hair.  But they hate him.  So Ms. Pelosi did just exactly what Newt’s detractors commonly (rightly) accuse him of doing:  speaking off the cuff, intemperately, and inadvisedly.  She was looking for a “gotcha.”  Later, after she realized that she had threatened to do something that could cause her real problems with the House Ethics Committee, she had her waterboy cover her tracks with a completely unconvincing explanation.  (By the way, the House Ethics Committee isn’t commenting on “current rules in the context of allegations concerning past conduct, or hypothetical future conduct governed by past rules.”)

That’s not to say that she doesn’t raise a good point, though.  The panel that Pelosi served on investigated and sanctioned Gingrich for violating tax law and lying to an investigative panel when he claimed tax-exempt status for a college course he ran for political purposes. Gingrich agreed to a $300,000 fine and admitted that he submitted inaccurate statements to the committee, but maintained that the majority of the charges “were repudiated as false.”  Although Gingrich maintains that the charges and resulting investigation and sanctions were politically motivated (which, no doubt, they were), that does not make them false, and that raises some concerns about the character of the man who is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the presidency.  This concerns me more than any video about global warming, or consulting with Freddie Mac.


Hat tip:  Talking Points Memo (from whom I plagiarized shamelessly in this post).

December 6, 2011

Posted by: Scott @ 10:26 am
Filed under: Middle East,Syria

This from CNN.com:

Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement are risking their future ties with Syria by supporting embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad now, the head of a leading Syrian opposition group says.

Burhan Ghalioun, the chairman of the Syrian National Council, told CNN in an interview airing Tuesday that Iran is “participating in suppressing the Syrian people” by backing al-Assad, whose family’s 40-year regime has been a longtime Iranian ally. He also warned that the crackdown could lead to international military intervention.

“I hope that Iranians realize the importance of not compromising the Syrian-Iranian relationship by defending a regime whose own people clearly reject it and has become a regime of torture to its own people,” Ghalioun said. Tehran must understand “that this is the last chance to avoid an unwanted fate to the Syrian-Iranian relationship,” he said.

As for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that was allied with Syria during the years that Damascus dominated its smaller neighbor, Ghalioun said, “The Syrian people stood completely by Hezbollah once. But today, they are surprised that Hezbollah did not return the favor and support the Syrian’s people struggle for freedom.”

This, of course, should come as no surprise to anyone.  Iran is terrified of the uprising in Syria, because they see the all-too-real possibility that just such an uprising is seething below the surface of its own population.  If the Syrians succeed in throwing off the yoke of their oppressive tyrants, that could encourage the Iranian people to do the same.  So the Iranian mullahs have to support Assad.  Had they been smart about the situation, they would have tried to convince Assad months ago to lighten up in order to stay in power.  That ship has probably sailed a long time ago at this point.  To be fair to Iran, the powers there probably never thought that the Syrian people would ever get this far, which reflects their disdain for any populace, even their own.

Hezbollah, too, had no choice but to support Assad.  Democratic elections in Syria could well lead, eventually, for diminished, or even abandoned, support for Hezbollah, which is the Syrian arm of terror and oppression in Lebanon.  Democracy has a way of infecting those around it, and democracy is the mortal enemy of organizations such as Hezbollah.  Brute force, such as that used by Assad, is the only currency Hezbollah knows, understands, can employ, and Assad’s regime can supply that much more effectively than a democratic, free Syria.  Fortunately, the writing seems to be on the wall; Assad will fall.  If Syria can then transform the resulting power vacuum into a functioning democracy, Hezbollah may well wither on the vine.

A win-win!

Posted by: Scott @ 9:28 am
Filed under: Europe

Washington once advised our country to “avoid foreign entanglement.”  I’m betting that Germany is wishing it had followed such counsel.

Standard & Poor’s has placed 15 members of the eurozone on review for a possible downgrade due to the European Union debt crisis.  The review, and possible downgrade, would apply not just to Portugal and Italy and other economically devastated countries, but also to the more financial secure (and responsible) countries such as Germany, France, Holland, Finland, Luxembourg, and Austria, all of which currently have triple-A (AAA) ratings.

Apparently you are known by the company you keep.


Posted by: Scott @ 9:14 am
Filed under: Media

At 3:47 p.m. yesterday afternoon, I received Fox News Channel’s “Fox Forward,” which is their political update e-mail.  Fox usually has pretty interesting analysis, but this particular piece fell far short in several respects.

The Iowa caucuses will be held on Jan. 3, 2012, and the outcome is far from certain. While the new national frontrunner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has dominated recent Iowa polls, the fluid nature of the race and the importance of local organization in the state mean that Iowa’s delegates are still very much for grabs. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are all top-tier contenders. And other candidates who have focused heavily on Iowa, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann are all capable of roiling the race.

Okay, guys, this e-mail went out on Monday afternoon.  Cain’s campaign was “suspended” on Saturday, and he hasn’t been a “top tier contender” for some weeks now.  When was this written?
On Dec. 3, the winner of the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, will give several of the contenders the chance to make their pitches with a special edition of his FOX News show “Huckabee.” Gingrich, Romney, Bachmann, Paul, Santorum and Perry have all reportedly agreed to face questions from a panel of conservative state attorneys general. The following week, the Republican Jewish Coalition will host a Washington, D.C. forum on Israeli relations and other topics.

Okay, guys, if you are shilling for your network’s show, Huckabee, that’s fine.  But you may want to get the word out before the show airs, not two days after it airs.  I actually would have liked to have seen it—had I known beforehand!
The next big moment for caucus-goers comes on Dec. 10 when ABC News and the Des Moines Register host a GOP debate, with particular focus on Iowa-centric issues. But the last word in debates before voters begin to have their say comes Dec. 15 when FOX News and the Republican Party of Iowa host a contest in Sioux City.

This is fine, if you don’t have the benefit of looking at the e-mail, which contains a huge box directly to the right of the text, advertising the Sioux City, Iowa debate as December 12th, rather than December 15th (which is the correct date).  There is, in fact, a debate on December 12th, but it’s only between Gingrich and Huntsman, it’s in New Hampshire, and it’s not clear that it’s even going to be televised on Fox.  C’mon, guys!  Get your dates right.

I will confess, I expect better of Fox.


UPDATE:  Just got an e-mail from Fox correcting the date of the Fox News GOP Debate to December 15th.  Glad I could point that out for them . . .

December 5, 2011

You can’t say I didn’t call it.

From CNN.com

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain told supporters Saturday that he is suspending his presidential campaign, which has become hobbled in recent weeks by allegations of sexual harassment and an Atlanta woman’s claim that they carried on a 13-year affair.

While he will still be able to raise and spend campaign funds because he did not officially drop out, Cain’s White House bid is effectively over.

Cain said he came to the decision after assessing the impact that the allegations were having on his wife, his family and his supporters.

[snip]He repeatedly called the allegations “false and untrue,” and added that “the (media) spin hurts.”

“I am not going to be silenced and I will not go away,” Cain said, announcing what he called his Plan B: A website, TheCainSolutions.com, through which he will continue to advocate for his platform.

His catchy “9-9-9” economic plan is not going anywhere, he said.


He will endorse another of the Republican presidential hopefuls soon, he said.

[snip]Recently, Cain acknowledged that Ginger White’s allegations of an affair have led to a drop in campaign contributions, and a Des Moines Register poll showed his support among likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers has fallen to 8%, down from 23% in October. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.9 points, the newspaper said.

Respondents said they were most concerned that Cain does not understand important issues, but said the allegations against him contribute to their concern, the newspaper said.

[snip]Cain’s announcement came a month before the Iowa caucuses, the first formal test of the primary season, scheduled for January 3.

New Hampshire Republican officials who supported Cain began to survey their options Saturday, with several state representatives saying their support could go to Gingrich or Ron Paul. Cain’s most prominent supporter in the state, former GOP state party chair Jack Kimball, said he would wait to learn who Cain would endorse before making his own decision.

A few thoughts:

  1. I told you so.

  2. He was right that his “9-9-9” plan is not going anywhere.  It never was.  It was DOA.  But it did serve the useful purpose of forcing the other candidates to discuss in particular how they would reform the tax code.

  3. Of course, many or most of Cain’s supporters will switch to whomever he endorses—which should be interesting.  But from a political standpoint, I suspect Gingrich will benefit the most.  Ron Paul will get a few Cain supporters, but ideologically they are not sufficiently alike to generate much cross-over.  Actually, much of Cain’s appeal stemmed from the fact that he is a Beltway outsider.  Now, however, from a practical standpoint, his supporters will have to choose between two insiders (and yes, Romney is an insider).  In that respect, I think most Cain supporters will recognize Gingrich to be more radical, and thus more appealing, than Romney.  His remaining supporters obviously have little problem with the sexual politics involved, which means that Gingrich’s three marriages is unlikely to trouble them.  But if, as the poll suggests, they are concerned about Cain’s ability to understand and tackle important issues, then Gingrich should fit that bill perfectly, as he has demonstrated a superior understanding of the issues, beyond even Romney’s substantial grasp.

All of which is to say, the field is finally narrowing, and the next month or two should be interesting to say the least.

Oh, and for those of you confused about what it means to “suspend” a campaign (I was), my understanding is that a campaign cannot close up shop until the Federal Elections Committee tells it that it can close up shop.  That won’t happen until all bills are paid, and other matters are wrapped up.  As a result, the campaign can actually keep raising money and paying bills and generally operating business as usual, but the candidate will presumably quit campaigning, and is effectively out of the race.  Here’s the explanation from Rich Galen at Mullings.com:

Two well-respected Republican campaign attorneys – Michael Toner and Cleta Mitchell – both said over the weekend that the word “Suspend” has no legal meaning in U.S. Federal election law.

Toner told MSNBC that the term is a political one, not a legal one. Mitchell said Cain appears to have “used that term as a ‘soft landing’ exit.”

In fact, a campaign can’t “terminate” without the permission of the Federal Election Commission. Hillary Clinton’s campaign committee from 2008 is still active because the FEC will not allow a campaign to terminate until all its debts are paid, and Clinton’s have not been.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign committee is still active, huh?  Hmmmm . . .

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Copyright 2004-2006 Pros and Cons Everything contained in this web site is strictly the opinion(s) of the author(s). If you've enjoyed it, I am responsible. If not, let's get the jerk who is! He should be easy to catch, just look for exhaust from an SUV and a trail of dead baby seals. All that knuckle-dragging's got to slow him down.