“Obviously this was an incredible day and victory for us,” said former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee of Saturday’s Iowa Republican straw poll. “What happened for us today was stunning.” A curious statement, perhaps, given that Huckabee was soundly trounced by Mitt Romney — he finished with 18 percent of the vote to Romeney’s 32 percent — but then again, given the haphazard nature of the Ames event, perhaps close doesn’t only count in horseshoes.
Jonathan Martin, the Politico’s Republican-watcher, certainly thinks so:
Mike Huckabee picked up 18.1 percent to finish in second place, besting Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who came in third with 15.3 percent. The two social conservatives tangled here over the past two weeks, both vying hard for many of the same voters and battling for their political viability. Despite spending far less money to get his voters here, Huckabee came out on top, offering a fresh boost to his underfunded campaign and calling into question Brownback’s ability to continue in the race … Huckabee appeared to succeed through a combination of charm, guile and his chief rival’s negativity.
Some feel, however, that winning really was winning. “Rudy Giuliani and John McCain decided to sit Iowa out, which left the field pretty much to Romney,” writes the conservative blogger Jimmie at the Sundries Shack. “The only question was how much he’d win by. Given that he spent approximately a bajillion dollars on barbecue and pony rides, he did just about what he was supposed to do. It gives him some leverage on Giuliani and McCain, which he very much needs.”
Kyle E. Moore at Comments From Left Field thinks one of the major stories revolves around someone who’s note even running (yet). Moore writes:
I think it’s important to note how low non-candidate Fred Thompson placed, finishing even lower than the almost non-existant Tommy Thompson at seventh. The man who months ago was being lauded by a slew of conservatives as the savior of the field, the next Ronald Reagan, and the presumptive frontrunner did not back this up with performance at voting booths here. I think this can be an even further indicator that excitement over the former Law & Order star is starting to wane.
While Ron Paul’s fifth-place finish must be considered a disappointment to his campaign, one big supporter, Richard Barnes at Disinter, suspects skullduggery: “After a very long delay before releasing the Diebold results due to a ‘voting machine malfunction’ Ron Paul came in 5th place with 1,305 votes. Keep in mind the person charged with oversight of this poll is none other than one of Mitt Romney’s paid staffers, Mary Mosiman, who just happens to be the County Auditor. Convenient.”
“Now, who will be dropping out after this?” asks Brian at IowaVoice, who offers a good roundup from the center of the action. He continues:
Well, Tommy Thompson has already gone on record to say that if he didn’t win or take second he’d be dropping out, so he doesn’t count. Other than that, I’d have to say that Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo are certainly on the short list of who I would think would be dropping out soon. Both are one-issue candidates (Tancredo=illegal immigration, Hunter=China/trade), and while I like both of them a lot, I think they’d be a greater asset to us if they stayed in Congress.
Like many on the left, Steve Benen at Talking Points Memo feels that the big loser is the entire G.O.P.:
Keep in mind, organizers hoped for 20,000 straw-poll participants today, and the total was just over 14,000. Eight years ago, nearly 24,000 Republicans took part in the event. Some of this, it’s fair to say, is the result of some top-tier candidates deciding not to participate in Ames, but it also speaks to the ongoing lack of enthusiasm for the GOP field of candidates.
If that’s the true lesson, it’s hardly one that Mitt Romney wanted to spend an estimated $5 million to learn.
Tom Nugent, a principal at Victoria Capital Management, writes at National Review Online of his intriguing plan to boost government revenues without raising income or corporate taxes:
According to a recent study prepared by Bloomberg, the value of the top-25 school endowments alone is a whopping $180 billion. So let’s do some math. The growth rate of these endowments over the past twelve months was 16.2 percent, with the managers of these funds retaining about 11.2 percent of that gain (based on a 5 percent payout). So if we assume these funds grow at a 12 percent rate over the next twenty years and distribute that 5 percent each year, their total value would be about $697 billion from growth alone. (Ongoing donations would make this total even bigger.)
Now, if the federal government imposed a 30 percent foundation tax on the investment gains of these endowment portfolios, the following would happen: The future value of the top-25 foundations would be “only” $469 billion twenty years from now — much less than $697 billion, but certainly enough to take care of each school’s related needs. However, the total revenues generated by taxing these endowments would be about $1.9 trillion over this time, enough to keep the tax man off the back of hard working Americans
Last night’s forum for the Democratic candidates sponsored by the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign wasn’t a debate at all — the candidates appeared one at a time and the panel of questioners, including the rocker Melissa Etheridge, did a fair amount of cheerleading. Still, as the staff at CQPolitics reports, some candidates were a bit … well, uncomfortable:
Etheridge … asked [Bill] Richardson pointedly if he believes being gay is a personal choice or an inherent biological trait. Richardson voiced the most conservative view among the candidates. It is a choice,” he said quickly, looking down.
Etheridge repeated her question in a friendly tone, wondering aloud if Richardson did not understand her the first time. “I’m not a scientist,” he answered. “I don’t see this as an issue of science or definition. I see gays and lesbians as people … I don’t like to answer definitions like that that are grounded in science or something else that I don’t understand.”
The explanation didn’t seem to do much to calm the crowd, and soon after leaving the stage, Governor Richardson called Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, who was liveblogging at the scene and told her, she reports, that “this is something you are born with, and regardless of whether there is conflict about the science of it (homosexuality), I support full and equal rights. I fully support domestic partnerships.”
Spaulding finds the whole incident “perpexling,” and also thinks that Hillary Clinton was less than perfect: “An even bigger faux pas, if you can call it that, was Clinton’s reassertion that it should be up to the state to decide who can marry. This is simply not acceptable, given the history of bigotry legislated at the state level.”
Dan Blatt, one of the conservatives at Gay Patriot, is amused by Mike Gravel’s statements that marriage is a “commitment of two human beings in love” and that if there’s “anything we need in the world, it’s more love.” He adds that panel-member Margaret Carlson “is right to say there’s no daylight between him and Kucinich on ‘love.’ I agree with that sentiment. But, what does that mean politically? Are they going to create a Department of Love to sit next to Kucinich’s Department of Peace?”
Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof admits that he fell asleep early on, but still feels that the event accomplished two important goals:
First, it tells the electorate that the LGBT community is more than just people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. Issues that impact the community impact us all. When there are over 1,100 laws and regulations on the books that specifically deny equal rights to those people — including me — they might as well deny all the rights we have as citizens in this country because we don’t get to fully participate, and in many cases we have to bear an extra burden, be it insurance, health care, inheritance, or even the simple matter of going on a two-for-one cruise …The second result of last night’s forum will be to put the anti-gay crowd, whether they’re hiding behind their religion or they’re just plain bigoted, on notice that the LGBT community can’t be taken for granted …An overwhelming majority of Americans think it is wrong to discriminate against gays and lesbians in hiring, and a growing number realize that there are gay people in their families, their work places, their schools, and that they vote.
Well, we’ll see if that proves true. But for now, it seems pretty clear that one person not taking the gay rights crowd for granted right now is the governor of New Mexico.
August 10, 2007, 9:06 am
You just thought you were sweating? Among global warming Cassandras, the fact that 1998 was the “hottest year on record” has always been an article of faith. Stephen McIntyre, who runs the Climateaudit blog was always puzzled by some gaps he saw in the raw data provided by NASA that supported the claim (data compiled in part by James Hansen, the climate scientist who has long accused the Bush administration of trying to “silence” him). McIntyre says he has “reverse engineered” the data to find NASA’s algorithm, discovered that a Y2K bug played havoc with some of the numbers, and notified the space agency.
NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as recordbreaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II. Anthony Watts has put the new data in chart form, along with a more detailed summary of the events.
The effect of the correction on global temperatures is minor (some 1-2% less warming than originally thought), but the effect on the U.S. global warming propaganda machine could be huge.
Note: Many commenters on this post have assumed that the author intended the term “Cassandras” to be pejorative, and also that he was unaware that the predictions made by the prophetess Cassandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy, came true. Rather, the term was being used in its common modern sense: one whose dire predictions, true or false, go unheeded.
According to mediabistro.com’s TVNewser, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Democratic forum televised Tuesday night on MSNBC “was the lowest rated-yet of the eight primary debates/forums held this election season. Based on live + same day data, Nielsen found the debate had 960,000 total viewers and 340,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo.”
Don Surber, a columnist at the Charleston Daily Mail posits three explanations on his blog: “Maybe it was Keith Olbermann’s presence. Maybe the shark was jumped. Maybe it is just that this is another summer rerun.”
August 9, 2007, 12:40 pm
Election ‘07? South Carolina’s Republicans are going to move their presidential primaries to Jan. 16, 2008, which will likely set off a domino effect in New Hampshire, Iowa and elsewhere, “that could push the start of voting to New Year’s Day or even to before Christmas,” according to The Washington Post.
“This is stupid,” says Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard. “Both parties are being foolish here and the states that are playing around here are risking serious damage to the system. In an attempt to gain influence in the primary process, they risk losing all relevance to that process.”
It is entertaining, of course, because anything that forces a presidential campaign to depart from its script creates the opportunity for candor mistakes, which are almost always funny and frequently useful to bloggers and even the electorate …
But, and this is a big “but,” this race to the top of the primary season is also ridiculous. By the time the dust settles Iowans may be going to caucus before they get the harvest. Much as I like a presidential election, I need to pace myself. Florida and South Carolina should stop this silliness before we all decide to federalize presidential elections (which, by the way, would be bad news for all of us who look to politics for entertainment).
The Politico’s Ben Smith, however, has word from Iowa that this may be overblown. Smith quotes Carrie Giddins, the communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party, Carrie Giddins, as saying, “Iowa’s not going to be driven by Republicans in South Carolina [into] making a change.”
Those who decry Americans’ apathy toward politics are probably hoping Smith has the story straight, as one can only assume that people will have other priorities than hitting the voting booths during the last week of December.
August 9, 2007, 9:22 am
The Associated Press is reporting that some of the biggest critics of the Iraq war seems to be softening their stances, or at least hedging their bets:
Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Bob Casey and Jack Reed. Even Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, said progress was being made by soldiers.
The suggestions by them and other Democrats in recent days that at least a portion of Bush’s strategy in Iraq is working is somewhat surprising, considering the bitter exchanges on Capitol Hill between the Democratic majority and Republicans and Bush. Democrats have long said Bush’s policies have been nothing more than a complete failure.
The Democrats’ choice to acknowledge the military’s progress in Iraq signals support for the troops, a message that voters want to hear. But they still heap criticism on Bush and his Iraq strategy, which promises to be a prominent issue in next year’s presidential election.
Some see a change in strategy, not a change of heart. “The Democrats don’t support the troops; their behavior has made that abundantly clear,” writes Paul at Wizbang:
It was just [two] years ago that the now positive Dick Durbin took the Senate floor and said our soldiers [were] as bad as the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge.
They’re not supporting the troops. They are supporting their own reelection. When they think they can garner votes by bashing the troops, they’ll bash the troops. When they think they have to give the troops lip service they will do that too - at least until November ‘08.
Dodd Harris at Outside the Beltway thinks the Democrats are working on a shorter, more tactical political timeline:
In short, with the polls showing support for the mission improving of late as the realities of actual progress make themselves known, this is the first step of the climbdown from their heretofore steadfast insistence on mandating defeat. They have a little over a month now before General Petraeus’ briefing. A few weeks ago they could still convince themselves he wouldn’t say anything that would hinder them from forcing a pullout. But things have changed.
So, I think we can expect rather a lot more of this sort of talk over the next few weeks. And then, if General Petraeus says what everyone who’s actually been paying attention since before the polls swung ’round is expecting him to, they’ll have given themselves advance cover for the switch. That they can do so while still castigating Bush out of the other side of their mouths is just the spoonful of sugar.
Attaturk at Rising Hegemon, however, thinks the A.P. story is a reach: “This A.P. writer still cannot distill the meaning of the quotes right in front of her. ‘Tactical Success’ which the United States has enjoyed in every battle of any size since the Chinese crossed the Yangtze is different [than] strategic success, which has long since sailed into the night. Now the battle is to have the least bad strategic loss.”
Tactics and strategy, strategy and tactics: whether the battlefield is in the Mideast or Washington, bloggers seem to feel some things are constant.