The rearview mirror

This was one of the copies I initially received from the publisher. If it’s copy 1 like I think it is then I believe it’s still in a box someplace from our move. It was the markup I used for the reading last June and the reference copy I kept for doing radio gigs.

I placed this photo on my social media page a year ago today. It was the first book out of the box of copies of my book that I kept for hand sales and promotions. So let me tell you about being an author and what a long, strange trip it’s been since that book came out 366 days ago.

When I put the book out after 2 1/2 years of writing it, I felt reasonably good about its prospects. I thought it was rather topical as it came out a decade after the initial TEA Party protests, and the peer reviews I had on it were positive. And the initial sales were actually encouraging after I did my first radio gig on it a couple days afterward (it was actually 52 weeks ago today, the same day Joe Biden made his formal announcement.) I had a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters, but of course I had no idea what sort of sales to expect.

Well, it’s disappointing to say that I’ve sold 26 copies through Amazon. However, I can at least say that’s more than my previous book has sold in almost eight years (a total of 18 copies.) But that doesn’t count the copies I have hand-sold in person, most of which I autographed as well. Somewhere in our house (or maybe out in the shed, who knows?) I have about 8-10 copies of my first book, which came from an original stock of 20 or 25. This time, though, I started with 25 and bought another 10, leaving me about a dozen remaining. Their disposition is an interesting story.

Out of the original stock of 25, I numbered each book from 1 to 25. I kept number 1 as my copy, tithed 2 through 4 to charity (still have those), and sent most of 5 through 10 to those who contributed to the writing. (I still have one because I’ve never been able to get a contributor’s home address even in several attempts to ask.) Out of 11 through 25 I have just a few remaining – many of them were sold at my reading back in June.

Among the second batch were a few I sent to various radio personalities who requested them. As I recall all but one of those eventually resulted in an interview, and that adds to the story.

Believe it or not, I’m way more comfortable with writing than I am with public speaking, even though I took a class in college to conquer that fear. (Shocker, huh?) I’m sure that comes through over the phone, but I also figured it was a job I had to do in order to try and spread the word given my marketing budget, which was basically zero. (I did find out it costs $3.27 to send my book anywhere from California to across town, not that I had to do the latter.)

So I spoke to various people everywhere from California to Delaware, for anywhere from seven minutes or so to a whole hour. It was a “virtual book tour” which took me from my adopted hometown to my real hometown, and from where I went to school to places I’ve never visited (or, frankly, heard of) before. There were small towns and big cities on the docket, but the last stop was a national one on an internet radio station called Southern Sense Radio. I did find out from doing sixteen or so shows that the longer I knew I had, the better the conversation flowed.

While all this was happening, I went through a move (hence, why I can’t find the spare copies) and went on vacation twice. Could I have been more diligent at marketing? Perhaps, but I also work full-time. (You may gather I’m that diligent at unpacking. But I told my wife we have the rest of our lives.)

A few months after the release, I decided it would be a good idea to follow up on the loose ends I had to leave untied to finish the book by last April. Thus was born the quarterly State of the TEA Party updates, the last of which I did a couple weeks ago – a little early but necessary to be topical. It’s been a concept that’s evolved a little bit and probably will some more before it’s through.

It’s been a tremendous and tumultuous year since I put out this book. It’s interesting to ponder how the release of the book would have gone over had it come out this year, but it’s still out there if you want to read it for the history. I think I’ll go onto Amazon tonight and give you a little incentive by cutting the price. (Hey, I have reached triple digits in royalties, at least.)

As for the next book? Honestly, I can’t say for sure whether I have another one in me. Over the years I have kicked around a couple concepts, and I got as far as a couple chapters on the Indivisible movement. (I still owe you one last part on that story – maybe in the next couple weeks.)

If anything, I have the most desire to write a sequel update to my first book, So We May Breathe Free. Once upon a time I had thought about writing a tome on the struggle between Big Oil and the green energy movement – something more on my radar when I had Marita Noon (now Marita Tedder) as a columnist, but not so much now. (I still keep a few tabs on energy, but to turn a phrase I don’t have as much energy as I used to.)

The other idea I’ve had from time to time is a project I call 600 Words. It’s been over a decade now, but once upon a time I toiled as an (unpaid) columnist for an outfit called Liberty Features Syndicate. (The title refers to their optimum column length.) Most of the time these once- or twice-weekly pieces ended up on the website of a group called Americans for Limited Government, but once in awhile I would find out some small-town newspaper also ran my column. I think it would be an interesting idea to follow up on what happened to the subject of the columns, as history may or may not have been kind to them, and maybe it would have the autobiographical element of perhaps one of the most uncertain times of my life. Between 600 Words and the sequel to So We May Breathe Free, 600 Words is definitely more the vanity project.

I guess that’s the life of a part-time author who’s become a (very) part-time blogger too. If you have pity on me and want to buy the book – or if you like a good read on history (yeah, that’s the ticket!) the link to Rise and Fall remains above the fold on my front page. Let’s see if I can beat my year one sales in year two.

All over but the shouting

It’s the end of the “road to 2016” for me.

For me personally this has been a very strange election cycle, with the only one closely like it in the last 20 years being 2004. That was the year I moved to Maryland in October, too late to register here. So I voted absentee in Ohio and helped George W. Bush carry that state.

That was the one year I can think of (besides this year) where I didn’t work a poll for a state or national election. I thought my political career was winding down then but I was bitten by the bug soon enough. Less than a year later I was going to Republican Club meetings and by 2006 I was back in the mix as a member of Wicomico County’s Republican Central Committee.

But this time it was truly different. Once I left the Central Committee, disgusted and disheartened that my party could select such a poor nominee that belied so many of its small-government principles, I essentially shunned the political process entirely in the sense that I didn’t go to meetings, work at headquarters, or stand at a poll. Yes, I did express my support for particular candidates, but at that point in the process I was looking forward to a new and different chapter of involvement. Things look a lot different when you are 52 and married than 40 and single. I think I have done my part – now it’s time for all those voters Trump supposedly brought onboard the “Trump train” to help the Republican Party, or perhaps what’s left of it if we are saddled with a Hillary Clinton presidency.

I still have an agenda, though. Just because I’m not doing the political events doesn’t mean I won’t be interested in promoting the ideas of limited, Constitutional government in accordance with Biblical values. It’s a combination that truly made America great, and in order to make America great again what we really need is to change the paradigm. It’s a little bit like having the choice of Coke or Pepsi but longing for 7-up. This cycle has really brought the false duopoly from which we suffer home to me: too many people suffer from the delusion that not voting for one candidate is voting for the other. Imagine you support neither, read that sentence again and you will realize how little sense that “not voting for one is a vote for the other” theory makes.

Somewhere someone got the bright idea that Republicans needed to be more like Democrats to win, so they convinced Republicans to simply promise to make government work better rather than do the hard work of rightsizing it. Notice Donald Trump did not talk about promoting liberty, nor did he speak to Biblical values. (Perhaps “2 Corinthians” gave him away?) It reminded me of Larry Hogan’s 2014 campaign – and yes, it worked in Maryland but aside from some tinkering around the edges what limitations of government have been achieved?

The process of political education (or re-education) needs to begin once we know who wins tonight. That’s the one thing I hope to bring to the table going forward, leavened with the other stuff I like to write about because all politics and no play makes Michael a very dull boy.

But I am truly glad this saga is over. There was a time in my life where I treated Election Day like the Super Bowl, but I was almost always disappointed. Looking back, I’m not sure I made a difference being a field worker. Yet I have what people tell me is a God-given talent to write, and with that I hope to teach and learn a few things, too. I have a project in the works I’m hoping to have finished this time next year. Some of you may be aware of this, but I’m working on a book about the TEA Party. To me, it’s a fascinating political movement that deserves study for what it did right – and what it’s done wrong.

Since I slowed down my writing pace here over the summer, I enjoy sitting down and writing more. Has it cost me some readership? Perhaps, but that’s also something the remaining readers can work on by sharing and promoting my posts.

But I’m looking forward to the next cycle regardless of who wins, and it’s because it opens a chapter of life that I can’t wait to write. Someone was saying to me they saw a 100,000 word blog post coming on, but I think I’ll reserve a good chunk of the remaining 99,200 words, give or take, for my book and other future writing. As for tonight, I’ll just trust God is in control.

A new beginning: ‘So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy’

Allow me to introduce my first book.

Over perhaps a three-year span, off and on, I have been at work on a manuscript. I took some of the ideas I originally wrote here as a series of posts in 2007 and revised and greatly expanded on them to a point where I felt I had a pretty good book on my hands. But the story doesn’t end there; in fact, that’s barely a start.

Most of you know that I have done monoblogue since 2005, and maybe you’re aware that before monoblogue I did a predecessor site for a few months called ttown’s right wing conspiracy. I’ve also been featured as a contributor or regular writer on a number of other internet sites, done the occasional radio interview, and gotten myself in papers around the country a time or two. But in all that, I knew nothing about the publishing business.

Last fall, knowing the 2012 elections were approaching, I decided to become a lot more serious about transforming this manuscript from a file in my computer to something people can use as a political guide to needed change in America. Secondary to that, of course, was the concept of actually making a little money from my talents – after all, sponsors here have been few and far between given all the media competition I have.

So after Christmas I began pitching this book idea to agents. But there was a huge problem, and it really had nothing to do with the few rejections I received. As I studied the publishing business, I found out that the path for taking my book from the stage it was in to something you can hold in your hands via that traditional route took many months – and remember, I wanted to time this to the 2012 elections. Putting my volume out in 2013 or even 2014 wasn’t going to have nearly the desired impact.

Instead, the more I learned about internet publishing, the more it made sense for both time’s sake and monetarily. In fact, the process I used took me a few hours over the weekend after I finished a final rewrite last week. My goal was to have this done by the end of July; in truth my physical book was ready for order a couple days ago and the e-book yesterday but like any good CD or video game promoter I decided to use Tuesday as an “official” release day.

Now the question is: will So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy sell? Technically I break even after a ridiculously small number of books since my budget in creating this was extremely limited by economic circumstance. (Because of that, I kept a fairly low price point: $7.99 for a printed book and $4.99 for a Kindle e-book.) But I have a goal of selling 50,000 copies between e-book and hardcover – why not? I understand the average book sells around 100 copies, or so I’m told, but if every one of my social media friends bought one I’d be well on my way, and if they promoted the book I could advance even faster. I’m happy to do radio, print interviews, even television if that’s what it takes, and I know I have some friends in the media who can arrange just that along with the all-important word-of-mouth if you think it’s that good. Besides, if you look at the PJ Media post I linked to, that same writer sold 50,000 books in a six-month period. Even if I fall short, though, the overall message I preach spreads far beyond this small venue.

But there’s also the effect your support of this venture can have on my chosen avocation of writing. As if you couldn’t tell, I really enjoy creating content but what I don’t enjoy is steady income. If enough people purchase this book and put my name out there, it creates opportunities for me to use my God-given talent in new and exciting venues like syndication or other more regular national venues. (Of course, they can come here too, for lower Alexa rankings can also bring advertising to this site.)

I didn’t know it at the time, but perhaps the last seven-plus years have placed me at the cusp of success. And even if this book doesn’t make the best-seller lists, a reasonable number of sales would mean a little bit of financial security for me and the opportunity to invest those profits into making an even better sophomore effort. (This book was literally DIY, from the cover to working on the HTML to attempt to make the Kindle version a little better.) Having done this writing process once, now I know where things can be improved.

At this point, the success of SWMBF relies on two things: how I promote the book and how readers react. Luckily, there’s not a large investment involved on your part – essentially it’s the price of a latte for a read which should be completed in a few hours (the print version is 166 pages.)

In doing over 3,000 blog posts, a year’s worth of syndicated columns, many months of stories for the Patriot Post, and numerous items in other venues, the challenge for me has rarely been figuring out what to say, but generally how to sell the argument I’m making in a manner which makes the reader react by looking for the next piece I write. Content is always king, but good content makes the kingdom. Today I embark on a new Crusade, and it’s up to you to help make it a success.

As always, I thank you from the bottom from my heart for your support.

The 2012 decision

If you’ve been reading monoblogue a long time – I know a lot of you haven’t, although a surprising number are longtime fans – you may recall that I determined who I’d support as my 2008 nominee in the summer of 2007 after a series of posts which covered candidate positions issue-by-issue on items important to me. They, in turn, were one extension of an early project of monoblogue called the 50 year plan. There I discussed my ideas on a whole range of issues which face our nation, and a second extension of these has been a book project I’ve worked with off and on over the last three years. (So maybe now I should call it a 47 year plan.)

Anyway, having been again exhorted to figure out which candidate I would like to see secure our Presidential bid, this post will serve as the announcement that the process will begin again later this summer. While I put my sidebar on the candidates up yesterday, I’m going to wait for a month or two to start the scoring process again in order to devote enough time to research positions and determine how I’ll grade each candidate. (And this includes Democrats, too – I can’t vote for them but I can compare their stances for my TEA Party friends who haven’t abandoned the Democratic Party yet.)

To give you an idea how the point system worked, these were the criteria I used in 2008:

  • Property rights (5 points)
  • Second Amendment (7 points)
  • Election/Campaign Finance Reform (9 points)
  • Trade/job creation (11 points)
  • Education (13 points)
  • Veterans affairs (15 points)
  • Energy independence (17 points)
  • Health care/Social Security (19 points)
  • Taxation (21 points)
  • Fiscal conservatism (23 points)
  • Immigration (25 points)
  • The Long War (27 points)

The total also included single-point intangibles on various issues, with my 2008 winner being former Rep. Duncan Hunter and his 82 points. By comparison, eventual nominee John McCain was last among Republicans with 18 points.

Undoubtedly, as a nation, our priorities have changed – and so will my list. I’m going to combine a couple areas and streamline this process to 10 different subjects. Also, the point totals will change so that the perfect candidate will have 100 points, with a maximum of three given for intangibles.

So the 2012 monoblogue endorsement will be based on the following formula:

  • Election/campaign finance reform (3 points)
  • Property Rights (5 points)
  • Second Amendment (7 points)
  • Education (8 points)
  • Long War/veterans affairs (9 points)
  • Immigration (11 points)
  • Energy independence (12 points)
  • Entitlements (13 points)
  • Trade/job creation (14 points)
  • Fiscal conservatism/taxation (15 points)

Add in the possible three points for intangibles, and a ‘perfect’ score is 100. On the other hand, deducting points is also possible so the ultimate in bad candidates would rank at minus-100.

Since I already have a project to do over the next few weeks (the monoblogue Accountability Project) I’ll likely get started on this after Memorial Day – this will also give the campaigns some chance to put out their issue positions. (Thus far, Herman Cain and Gary Johnson seem to have the most comprehensive positions listed on their respective sites.) But today serves as a good heads-up for summer reading.

And, by the way, I’m going to make a little time over the summer for updating my maunuscript too. Anyone know a good publisher out there looking for a surefire best seller? Okay, how about a tome from a first-time author?

Maybe someday you’ll see it on or at your local bookstore, but in the meantime it’s a diamond in the rough which needs polishing. That’s what I’ll devote some time to doing.

Looking at the Keyes campaign

Faithful readers know I went through all of the Presidential candidates and how I felt about their stances on the issues. It culminated in mid-August with my endorsement of Duncan Hunter for President. That post also links to each issue as a reminder.

However, Alan Keyes jumped into the race after I did all of these evaluations so I wanted to see where he stacked up. Thus I’ll go through the issues as I did with the others – luckily with one candidate it’s one post. Keyes has a laundry list of topics on his website but fortunately for keeping this a short post I can link to each as needed!

We’ll start with eminent domain. Keyes talks about the broader subject of property rights on his site. It doesn’t really read to me as addressing the issue of eminent domain, so I’ll give him just 1/2 point of 5 possible. So he has 1/2 point so far and would rank 4th.

The next issue in line was the Second Amendment. Keyes goes deeper into this issue and I agree with the sentiment, but without more specifics I can’t give him many points. I noted in July that Duncan Hunter had a similar statement without specifics, so I’ll give Keyes what I gave Hunter: 3 of 7 points. That brings the Keyes total to 3.5 points and he’d slip to 7th place.

On election and campaign finance reform, Keyes makes quite a statement and also has a video link. I agree with part of what Keyes says, the second principle and the idea of repealing McCain-Feingold. But I can’t abide the first portion because corporate entities and unions, despite their donation patterns, don’t forgo their First Amendment rights. In the video, he does show support for term limits which gave him a couple bonus points.

For that I’m going to give Alan 4 of a possible 9 points. Now he has 7.5 points and a tie for second.

Trade and job creation was my next pet issue. Keyes has a long spiel on the subject of fair trade. Alan really didn’t address the area of job creation, and while he makes some good points I thought he went a little too far toward protectionism. He is a little like Duncan Hunter in that he wants to renegotiate bad trade agreements so I think 5.5 out of 11 points is fair. It would bring Alan to 13 points overall and keeps him in second. At that time Ron Paul led with 13.5 points.

My next step up deals with education. Here’s what Keyes has to say about school choice. He wasn’t doing very well until the last sentence, which saved him to an extent but it’s still sort of vague what concrete steps he’ll take to achieve that end to the government monopoly. I’ll give him 5 of 13 points. At 18.5 points so far, he’s right up near the top – second behind the leader at that point, Tom Tancredo.

Surprisingly, Keyes had nothing on veterans’ affairs or energy independence so he gets no points on either subject. Luckily for him, no one else really made a big move in that time period so he only fell to fourth place overall.

On entitlements, here’s what Keyes states on health care and Social Security.

There were 19 points at stake in my original post. On the plus side for Keyes is his advocacy of HSA’s and his eventual Social Security stance, although it doesn’t go so far as to eliminate it. Deductions include drug importation (which would harm the drug companies) and the preventative care portion, which is similar to something I jumped on Mike Huckabee about. Since Huckabee is in favor of a national smoking ban in public places, would Keyes react the same way? No one had more than 9 points in my original posting and Keyes is not better than any of those. I’ll give him 7 points of 19. That gets him up to 25.5 points and bumps him to third place overall.

Now we move to taxation. Keyes has this to say about the subject and also covers the next area with it as well (role of government vis-a-vis spending.) Had Keyes talked about the other necessary step of repealing the 16th Amendment, he’d get all the points. I’ll match what I gave Tom Tancredo as the highest total for a candidate: 14 of 21 points.

And while I like the idea of a balanced budget amendment, I can just see how many devious ways the government and courts will come up with to get around it. Fiscal conservatism doesn’t need a Constitutional amendment, just a President with cajones to risk a government shutdown to get a steamlined budget to pass. With a lack of specifics, I have to match what I gave similar remarks from Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo, 10 points for that aspect. By combining the two and adding them to his total, Keyes is moving smartly up the list – 49.5 points at this stage is one point off Tom Tancredo’s lead at the juncture.

Two to go, immigration and the Long War. On immigration Keyes is for enforcing existing laws. While it’s well put, just wish he were a little more specific on how you’d secure the border and treat employers who hire illegals. It’s reasonably close to what Ron Paul advocates, so I’ll say it’s worth 15 of 25 points. Surprisingly, Keyes grabs the lead at this point with his 64.5 points.

Unfortunately for Alan, this is where he blows it. When he talks about the war in Iraq, he notes:

I will not for the moment go into the question of whether it was right or wrong to choose Iraq as some kind of strategic priority in the war against terror. I frankly have said in the past and would say now — and not with the wisdom of hindsight either — it was not what would have been my choice.

I take that to mean he would have left Saddam Hussein, a member of the Axis of Evil, as a continuing supporter of groups like Hamas and al-Qaeda. Unacceptable. In particular, I think the statement contradicts what he says in the video here. Since the video is from his Illinois U.S. Senate campaign in 2004 and I’m assuming the statement above is more recent, to me it could even be considered a flip-flop.

Alan makes some good points with what he says about the Long War in general but I cannot let the first part stand. I’m not going to hammer him like I did Ron Paul or Tom Tancredo, but he does deserve some deduction so I’ll dock him 5 points. He’s at 59.5 points now before I look at intangibles, some of the other subjects he goes into on his website that are minor issues to me.

On the intangibles:

Add ponts for being a supporter of Israel, against embryonic stem cell research, abstinence-based sex education when parents allow it, and his stance on the United Nations.

Subtract points for supporting a Constitutional amendment banning abortion. I’m pro-life but don’t think that belongs in the Constitution because it’s a states’ rights item.

His net on intangibles is +3, so his final total is 62.5 points. Here’s how the field now stacks up with Keyes included:

  1. Duncan Hunter, 82 points
  2. Rudy Giuliani, 79 points
  3. Mike Huckabee, 76 points
  4. Alan Keyes, 62.5 points
  5. Mitt Romney, 45 points
  6. Tom Tancredo, 41.5 points
  7. Fred Thompson, 37 points*
  8. Ron Paul, 34.5 points
  9. Sam Brownback, 20.5 points
  10. John McCain, 18 points

*Thompson will be discussed tomorrow since he’s updated the information on his positions for some of the issues since I originally did the list.

I sort of suspected Keyes would be up there and if not for his misunderstanding of the role of Iraq in the Long War he would’ve at least made the “recommended” list. But if you’re one who lies strongly in the “moral conservative” camp Keyes would be at or near the top of your candidates for President. 

Who will I support? – part twelve

At last, we come to the finish line. Well, for Democrats it is…for the GOP there’s still a few intangibles I want to get through because no candidate has dominated and I want to make sure I get through everything as I make this decision. That will wrap up the point totals tomorrow.

Today we get to my number one topic, which is the Long War – otherwise known as the War on Terror.

As you may know, my philosophy is one of achieving victory, which I define as when the threat from al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic fundamentalist entities is subdued militarily to a point where they are no longer a significant threat to our security and safety here in America. At that point, I expect the restrictions placed temporarily on our civil liberties (such as the PATRIOT Act) to be lifted. And if we withdraw from Iraq now, we cannot achieve that objective unless the fight is brought over here because at this point the military fronts are Iraq and Afghanistan.

As always, the GOP goes first in what they have to say about our fight.

Sam Brownback:

After my recent trip to Iraq, I am even more convinced that the situation there is precarious, but hopeful. I see hope in the Iraqi people. I believe this hope will be the foundation of a new Iraqi society. Much remains to be done, and I think we need a plan to turn this country over to its citizens. I will continue to work with the leaders in our country, as well as leaders in Iraq, to find a solution that protects the future of Iraq, and the pride and dignity of its citizens.

Rudy Giuliani:

Rudy Giuliani believes winning the war on terror is the great responsibility of our generation. America cannot afford to go back to the days of playing defense, with inconsistent responses to terrorist attacks, because weakness only encourages aggression. Americans want peace. We’re at war not because we want to be, but because the terrorists declared war on us – well before the attacks of September 11th. Rudy understands that freedom is going to win this war of ideas. America will win the war on terror.

To watch Rudy’s commitment to staying on offense against terror, please click here.

Like all Americans, Rudy Giuliani prays for the success of our troops in Iraq and their safe return home. But he believes setting an artificial timetable for withdrawal from Iraq now would be a terrible mistake, because it would only embolden our enemies. Iraq is only one front in the larger war on terror, and failure there would lead to a broader and bloodier regional conflict in the near future. Building an accountable Iraq will assist in reducing the threat of terrorism.

To watch Rudy’s comments on the War in Iraq, please click here.

Mike Huckabee also splits his views on Iraq and the War on Terror.

Duncan Hunter makes his arguments here.

Obviously John McCain, as a Vietnam veteran and POW, has strong feelings about this war.

Ron Paul explains his views here. I also got an e-mail recently where he notes in part:

As I told the crowd, with our non-interventionist foreign policy, there would be 3,600 young Americans still alive, and 25,000 more not badly wounded.  It got the biggest response of the evening.

Then a 14-year-old girl told me she was helping the campaign so her daddy, a soldier, would not have to go to Iraq.  I told her there are many thousands of us working to that exact end, to keep him and all the others safe.  What an outrage that we are accused of not supporting the troops. What a scam when the warmongers claim to be pro-soldier.

Lots of military people turned out to be aware that our campaign got more donations from soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines than any other. Funny, that made a big impression in Congress too.  Many of my colleagues were amazed and encouraged that you can be against this unconstitutional and disastrous war, and get military support.

I like Mitt Romney‘s website link, it’s called defeating the jihadists.

Tom Tancredo points out his views here and also says:

America’s noble sacrifice has purchased Iraqis a precious opportunity for democratic change; it is now up to them to ensure success. Setting the President’s November benchmark for shifting control as an actual timetable for disengagement will let regional powers and Iraqi factions cooperate to forge a new balance of power.

Homeland security plans which do not include enforcing our immigration laws and securing our borders are entirely inadequate. A CIS study of 94 terrorists prosecuted for their crimes in the U.S., found that nearly two thirds had committed immigration fraud. It is difficult then to justify the rigor, expense, and inconvenience of new safety measures at our airports and harbors, while leaving the door open for terrorists to slip across our southern border undetected.

Similarly, Tommy Thompson has a link and a statement:

Governor Thompson believes the nation must recommit itself to rebuilding the American military because our armed forces must have the capacity to dominate any war or any conflict we must enter – all while having the capability to fight a multi-front war. Our military is simply stretched too thin to protect American interests overseas and at home in these dangerous times. At the same time, our foreign policy cannot be based solely on military might. We must reach out to the rest of the world, and a good place to start is with medical diplomacy. Governor Thompson’s initiative would take America’s great doctors and health professionals, along with our medicines and technology, to some of the most distraught places in the world, helping to comfort and nurse the poor to better health. By doing so, we can begin to heal some of the wounds with our global neighbors.

All right, now it’s time to look at the cut and run brigade, also know as the Democrat Party. I’ll let the reader go ahead and explore the particulars on their own; in this case I’m just going to tell you by what date the Democrats want troops out.

Joe Biden: except for a “residual force”, the end of 2007.

Hillary Clinton: “before the next president takes the oath of office.”

Chris Dodd: March 31, 2008.

John Edwards: “complete withdrawal…in 12 to 18 months.”

Mike Gravel: “home within 60 days.”

Dennis Kucinich would immediately cut off funding for the troops for an “orderly withdrawal.”

Barack Obama: March 31, 2008.

Bill Richardson: “withdraw ALL troops in six months.”

It’s almost like a perverse “name that tune” for the moonbats:

“I, candidate A, can withdraw the troops in 12 months.”

“But I, candidate B, can withdraw the troops in 60 days.”

It goes without saying that every Democrat would lose the points (this part is worth 27 points, the highest number.) I guess just for comparison’s sake to the GOP I’ll put up their final scores at the end of the post.

But more importantly for me and my vote, I have to rate the GOP contenders.

Sam Brownback does his best to neither offend the people on my side by fully embracing diplomacy or offend the “cut and run” types by advocating military victory. What he says does absolutely nothing for me, so I’m not giving him any points.

On the other hand, Rudy Giuliani is exactly right, and I think he understands the best among the GOP contenders because he’s dealt with terrorism on our shores firsthand. He will get all 27 points because “America will win the War on Terror.”

Mike Huckabee has some very good points and also wants victory; however, there’s one statement that bothers me to an extent. He notes, “President Bush declared that all other countries were either for us or they were for the terrorists. Such a black-and-white stance doesn’t work in the Arab and Muslim worlds, where there are more shades of gray than you’ll find at Sherwin-Williams.” Personally I thought President Bush was correct.

Overall, he has a good stance on the Long War though so I’ll give him 23 points, because of just that slight difference of opinion.

Duncan Hunter has an excellent understanding about what’s at stake and if you watch the video (about nine minutes long) you’ll notice that he thinks beyond the obvious enemies and considers other sources of possible aggression from without. He also notes that the Iraqi Army is gaining strength and would seek to use them as well. I would be very confident with him as Commander-in-Chief, so he gets 27 points.

There is only one thing I don’t care for about John McCain’s approach, where he notes, “The answer is for the international community to apply real pressure to Syria and Iran to change their behavior.” To me that implies the United Nations and they’re far from backing our efforts. McCain is correct in stating that we need to win the homefront. But would he be able to seize the bully pulpit in a Reaganesqe style? I’m giving McCain 23 points for that slight flaw, much like Huckabee.

I have a problem with Ron Paul. I understand his principle about “entangling ourselves in the affairs of other nations.” However, if we wish to spread freedom around the world as I feel we should, and protect our vital national interests, we need a global presence. While I realize life is not a game of Risk, if you play that board game in an entirely defensive mode you’re bound to lose.

The other thing that I have to mention is that, yes, we’ve lost 3,600 soldiers who volunteered to fight and die for our country. What would the toll be on our shores had we done nothing and stood by awaiting another attack?

Because he has held to his beliefs throughout (even if they’re incorrect) I’m not deducting all 27 points, but he’s going to take a 20 point penalty.

Mitt Romney just doesn’t seem to go as far as the others in seeking victory. He understands that we face a “sinister and broad-based extremist faction” with a “very 8th century view of the world” but I think he looks more to diplomacy and isn’t as sold on a military solution, despite wanting to increase military spending. His solutions just don’t come across to me as well as some of the others, so I’ll give him 18 points.

Oh, Tom Tancredo, you came so close to the finish line with victory in hand. But like a steeplechase rider whose horse falls “at the last”, you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by wanting a timetable for Iraqi withdrawal. Even if you keep forces close by, that still gives a propaganda victory to our enemies and the will to keep fighting. I’m giving you the same docking I gave Ron Paul, 20 points off.

Tommy Thompson has some good points and some bad points. I suppose it’s true that we are in Iraq at the pleasure of their government, but I think the Iraqi people can sense that we’re not there as invaders but as protectors from the larger threat to their own safety that al-Qaeda brings with their Iranian sponsorship. I do agree we should build the military, but the “medical diplomacy” leaves me a bit cold. I’ll give him a lukewarm 10 points since he’s not saying to cut and run.

Ok, we’ve reached the end, almost. It’s close enough at the top that I have to look at intangibles to make my choice, and that will occur tomorrow. At the moment, here are the GOP standings:

  1. Rudy Giuliani, 80 points
  2. Mike Huckabee, 76 points
  3. Duncan Hunter, 68 points
  4. Mitt Romney, 46 points
  5. Tom Tancredo, 40.5 points
  6. Fred Thompson, 37 points
  7. Ron Paul, 31.5 points
  8. Tommy Thompson, 21.5 points
  9. John McCain, 19 points
  10. Sam Brownback, 18.5 points

Final standings for the Democrats. How low can they go?

  1. Mike Gravel, -42 points
  2. Joe Biden, -62.5 points
  3. Bill Richardson, -75.5 points
  4. John Edwards, -75.5 points
  5. Hillary Clinton, -82.5 points
  6. Chris Dodd, -84.5 points
  7. Barack Obama, -93.5 points
  8. Dennis Kucinich, -124.5 points

If you want an illustration of the difference between the two parties, it’s made clear right here. Tomorrow I look at the intangibles for the GOP and finally stop dragging this out. It will be time to throw my support behind somebody.

Who will I support? – part ten

Courtesy of a great publication I subscribe (and occasionally contribute content) to, the Patriot Post:

“Being a conservative Republican should be about more than abortion policy and the War on Terror. The [GOP presidential] candidates should have to tell voters whether they still believe in traditional principles of limited government, federalism and individual liberty.” — Michael Tanner

With that said, today I get into what I call “role of government“. The subject was an early “50 year plan” post, but a more succinct summary goes like this:

  • The government should be as small as possible with limited tasks, those that cannot be done as well by the private sector or the market.
  • The closer the government is to the people, the better and more responsive it is. The reason I prefer government that’s as close to the people as possible is that smaller government can more easily be proactive rather than reactive.

I’m lumping government spending in with this section, as spending cuts obviously reduce the role of government. But being a deficit hawk or slowing growth won’t rate as highly with me.

In this case, I decided to look just at GOP candidates for this section. Hell, it’s not like the Democrats would help themselves anyway as they favor nanny-statism. They forget the Reagan truism, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.‘ ”

Here’s what they have to say, starting this time with a link from Rudy Giuliani.

Duncan Hunter:

A balanced federal budget is a priority for our national economic health and long-term prosperity. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought for federal spending to provide for our national and homeland security, as directed by the U.S. Constitution, and funding increases in both of these arenas will be necessary in the future to keep our families safe and secure

Budgetary savings must be identified through efficiency reforms throughout the federal government. Furthermore, we must aggressively attack the creation and funding of duplicative federal programs, many of which simply do not perform but cost taxpayers millions of their hard-earned dollars. According to Office of Management and Budget, 28% of federal programs are either ineffective or have results that are not demonstrated. Reforming, combining or eliminating those programs remains among my highest legislative priorities.

John McCain gives his opinion on the topic here on his website.

Ron Paul:

Real conservatives have always supported low taxes and low spending.

But today, too many politicians and lobbyists are spending America into ruin. We are nine trillion dollars in debt as a nation. Our mounting government debt endangers the financial future of our children and grandchildren. If we don’t cut spending now, higher taxes and economic disaster will be in their future — and yours.

In addition, the Federal Reserve, our central bank, fosters runaway debt by increasing the money supply — making each dollar in your pocket worth less. The Fed is a private bank run by unelected officials who are not required to be open or accountable to “we the people.”

Worse, our economy and our very independence as a nation is increasingly in the hands of foreign governments such as China and Saudi Arabia, because their central banks also finance our runaway spending.

We cannot continue to allow private banks, wasteful agencies, lobbyists, corporations on welfare, and governments collecting foreign aid to dictate the size of our ballooning budget. We need a new method to prioritize our spending. It’s called the Constitution of the United States.

Mitt Romney wants to stop runaway spending too.

Tom Tancredo again does the .pdf link thing and the direct quote:

The federal government is in debt because it spends too much, not because it taxes people too little. Government spending is classified as either discretionary or mandatory. Discretionary spending includes funds for things like the military and is explicitly set by Congress on an annual basis. But the major culprit in ballooning budgets is mandatory spending for entitlement programs like medicare, expenditures which are determined by the number of beneficiaries. The only way to control the budget is to reform the entitlement programs that mandatory spending funds. Those decisions on how to allocate resources are as economically necessary as they are politically and ethically difficult.

Finally, Fred Thompson returns and on his blog looks at this subject through the lens of federalism.

Wow. In not looking at Democrats this time, I don’t feel like I need to take a shower afterward. But the reason I feature them is to show just how bad I think their alternatives are. So they will return for parts 11 and 12 tomorrow and Monday.

Since I wrote this somewhat in advance, I have to note that this post is timed to coincide with the start of the Ames Straw Poll, an event that will likely trim the GOP field as the bottomfeeders will likely conclude their quest is hopeless. Let’s see how the candidates in my field help themselves as 23 points are at stake.

Rudy Giuliani has a very solid idea of actions that need to be taken, including one excellent suggestions that I’ve talked about – a sunsetting provision for Federal programs. Also intriguing is the idea of separate capital and operating budgets, which occur in many states and municipalities. The only fly in the ointment is that many of his ideas will likely end up in court as the bureaucracy beast will fight after it’s cornered. That’s just a minor downgrade, and Rudy picks up a healthy 20 points.

Duncan Hunter also talks about limiting spending in non-defense areas, which is a good start, but doesn’t go as far as Rudy in the area of government reform. I’ll give Duncan 10 points for effort.

John McCain talks about ending pork-barrel spending, bringing transparency to earmarks, and an “obligation to future generations”. However, as he should be aware, Congress sets the budget and he shows no method to hold them in check, like a line-item veto or balanced budget amendment. I suppose for bringing up the subject he deserves a few points but nowhere near full credit – so I’ll give him three.

Ron Paul definitely shows his libertarian side with the things he talks about. While I think most of these actions are sound and necessary, I wish he defined the actions he’d undertake as President more completely – it’s still a bit vague about how he would get Congress and the entrenched special interests under rein. He goes farther than Hunter but not quite to the extent of Rudy Giuliani, so I’ll give him 17 points.

I like one thing Mitt Romney said on his site, it sums up the problem any incoming President will have with Congress:

“There’s no courage involved in spending more money. Drawing a line on spending is hard and fraught with criticism. When I vetoed $458 million of excessive spending in the budget this spring, I knew that community newspapers across the Commonwealth would decry my elimination of local pet projects. And, I knew that the Legislature would over ride most of my vetoes. In fact, they over rode all of them, to a chorus of community acclaim. But someone has to say no.”

Mitt has an understanding of the problem he’ll face, and he also talks quite a bit about his time in the private sector, not as a career politician. I think he deserves 15 points for the understanding of the problem, while at the same time appearing (to me) to be open to other solutions suggested by other candidates – because he ran a business.

Tom Tancredo is quite similar to Duncan Hunter in that he talks about reforming entitlements as a method of cutting spending but really doesn’t go into more specific detail – more like cutting entitlements as a goal, not a step. I’ll give him the same 10 points I gave Duncan Hunter.

As far as Fred Thompson’s treatise on federalism goes, it misses the target by just one tick as he says, about education, “It is appropriate for the federal government to provide funding and set goals for the state to meet in exchange for that funding.” No it’s not. Other than that, the man almost sounds like me and I’ll leap him into the running with 22 points. He may become a formidable candidate worth my support once he fleshes out some of the underlying issues he’s not gone into yet.

Like I said, no Democrats today, so they get a break from losing more points. And the GOP standings shuffle again, as leader Mike Huckabee missed this opportunity:

  1. Tom Tancredo, 50.5 points
  2. Rudy Giuliani, 48 points
  3. Mike Huckabee, 42 points
  4. Ron Paul, 32.5 points
  5. Duncan Hunter, 31 points
  6. Fred Thompson, 24 points
  7. Mitt Romney, 23 points
  8. Sam Brownback, 18.5 points
  9. John McCain, 6 points
  10. Tommy Thompson, -2.5 points

Only two issues to go, next up is border security and immigration, a 25 point installment.

Who will I support? – part nine

Ben Franklin noted that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. While you can’t argue with those two truisms, a third corollary one is that Americans feel like they’re being taxed to death. I know I do. And that’s why the subject of taxation is close to the top as far as domestic issues go in this method of choosing the GOP candidate I’ll support. In fact, it’s worth 21 points, as many as the first three issues I dealt with combined.

My view on taxation is that I think the FairTax is likely the best way to go, but it has to be coupled with repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment. At the very least, a candidate I favor would keep the 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts in place.

Not surprisingly, the majority of candidates who address the issue are Republicans, but there’s a surprise or two in the Democrat camp.

Sam Brownback:

I have long championed both lower taxes and reform of the existing tax system, and recently signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose all tax increases. Much of our recent economic prosperity is directly attributable to the lower taxes enacted by recent Congresses. I believe America’s tax code is overly complex and burdensome. Americans spend roughly $157 billion each year in tax preparation, to ensure they do not run afoul of the Internal Revenue Service. The system is desperately in need of reform. I support a flat tax concept that simplifies tax preparation, applies a low tax rate to all Americans, and respects the special financial burden carried by American families raising children.

Rudy Giuliani:

Rudy is the real fiscal conservative in the race. He cut taxes 23 times in New York and turned a $2.3 billion budget deficit into a multi-billion dollar surplus, while balancing the city’s budget. Because he turned his conservative principles into action, New York City taxpayers saved more than $9 billion in taxes and enjoyed their lowest tax burden in decades, while the economy grew and city government saw its revenues increase from the lower tax rates. Rudy Giuliani believes in supply-side economics, because he did it and he saw it work.

To watch Rudy’s commitment to cutting taxes and ensuring economic growth, please click here.

Mike Huckabee talks taxes here.

Duncan Hunter has four separate areas on his issue page that explain his tax philosophy at length; more length than I feel is fair to quote. Pay attention to points 16, 17, 18, and 25.

Ron Paul:

Working Americans like lower taxes. So do I. Lower taxes benefit all of us, creating jobs and allowing us to make more decisions for ourselves about our lives.

Whether a tax cut reduces a single mother’s payroll taxes by $40 a month or allows a business owner to save thousands in capital gains taxes and hire more employees, that tax cut is a good thing. Lower taxes allow more spending, saving, and investing which helps the economy — that means all of us.

Real conservatives have always supported low taxes and low spending.

Mitt Romney looks at the subject on his webpage as well.

Tom Tancredo shows his support of the FairTax here, and with this quote:

A growing chorus of economists and experts argue, and I agree, that the current income tax system is complex and unfair and should be replaced by a flat tax or national sales tax. That’s why I co-sponsored the FairTax legislation. Simplifying the process would dramatically reduce the costs of compliance, make American companies more competitive, and put billions back into the economy by encouraging investment.

Tommy Thompson:

Governor Thompson cut taxes by $16.4 billion in Wisconsin and believes President Bush’s tax cuts must be permanent to allow taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money and to continue to build the economy. Governor Thompson also vetoed more than 1,900 items in 14 years in office, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

As noted, only a handful of Democrats delved into the tax issue, for obvious reasons. But I got some interesting surprises from those who dared enter the realm.

John Edwards wants to simplify the tax process.

A Democrat who supports the FairTax? Mike Gravel does.

And last among the trio of Democrats is Dennis Kucinich.

I can honestly say that we don’t have a Walter Mondale (whose push for higher taxes during the 1984 campaign led to a 49-state slaughter by Ronald Reagan) among the group; however, I did see a few possible George H.W. Bush “read my lips”-type statements. But who did the best?

Sam Brownback supports a flat tax concept, which is something I also favored when Steve Forbes ran for President in 1996 and 2000. While I’ve progressed beyond that because it maintains the tax on income rather than consumption, it still beats the progressive tax we have now. Sam will pick up 7 points.

Rudy Giuliani likes lower tax rates, and that’s good (not to mention correct as far as increasing revenue is concerned.) But he doesn’t tinker with the system as much as I’d like. However, he also gets credit for wanting to “give the death penalty to the death tax”, so I’ll give him 6 points.

I’m very confused by Mike Huckabee. On his website, he advocates the FairTax. But on the attached video, he also supports making the 2001/03 Bush tax cuts permanent and then sort of contradicts himself at the very end by talking about a flat tax. So which is it? If he had just stuck to the FairTax, he’d have scored higher than the 10 points I’ll give him.

Duncan Hunter sort of tweaks around the edges of what we have, stressing reforms to the “marriage penalty” and AMT along with some other simplification and reform. But there’s no radical change like what’s necessary. I’ll give him 4 points.

Well, Ron Paul, I like lower taxes too. So do almost all Americans. But how are we going to get to those lower taxes – rate reductions or a changing of the system? Inquiring minds want to know, and this one can only give you 2 points because of the lack of specifics.

In the words of Tom Tancredo, “I would support either of these long overdue tax reforms (flat tax or national sales tax) to our nightmarish tax code.” It’s a bit wishy-washy in that regard, but Tancredo also wants to scrap the tax code and start over regardless – an important first step. I think he deserves 14 points.

Mitt Romney is relatively moderate when it comes to taxation, mostly advocating lower rates. He also has an idea about cutting the capital gains tax to zero for people of lower incomes – why not everyone? And yes, he’d make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Good steps, but not terribly exciting so he gets only 4 points.

Tommy Thompson just speaks to making the Bush tax cuts permanent. That’s not enough, particularly in comparison to other candidates. Among responders only Ron Paul is less specific and for that Tommy just gets 3 points.

John Edwards doesn’t mess with tax rates, just so-called “simplification”. His “Form 1” would allow the fox to guard the henhouse – because the IRS already has all of your information, they figure your taxes and you simply sign the form stating you agree with their calculations (never mind that, as far as tax advice goes, the IRS is wrong as often as not.) This is almost as diabolical as backup withholding. While I will grant Edwards credit for not specifically asking for a tax increase and for out-of-the-box thinking, it’s still a bad idea and he’s docked one point.

As I noted earlier, Mike Gravel supports the FairTax. However, he does not mention the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment and talks about it as a “progressive” tax by adjusting the “prebate” portion as he feels is fair. So there are a couple flies in the ointment. But he deserves as much credit as I gave Tom Tancredo for his stance, which would be 14 points.

Dennis Kucinich wants no part of a death tax repeal and wants to raise taxes by going back to the Clinton tax rates on “the wealthy.” Wrong direction there, Dennis, and he practically secures the “biggest threat to the republic” crown by plummeting another 21 points.

Hitting the third turn now in this horse race of sorts, and it’s starting to look like a two-man race on the GOP side:

  1. Mike Huckabee, 42 points
  2. Tom Tancredo, 40.5 points
  3. Rudy Giuliani, 28 points
  4. Duncan Hunter, 21 points
  5. Sam Brownback, 18.5 points
  6. Ron Paul, 15.5 points
  7. Mitt Romney, 8 points
  8. John McCain, 3 points
  9. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  10. Tommy Thompson, -2.5 points

Wow, Mike Gravel actually ranks ahead of a Republican by 1/2 point. It won’t last. The top and bottom of the Democrat field are pulling away in different directions.

  1. Mike Gravel, -2 points
  2. Joe Biden, -35.5 points
  3. Bill Richardson, -41.5 points
  4. John Edwards, -49.5 points
  5. Barack Obama, -54.5 points
  6. Hillary Clinton, -55.5 points
  7. Chris Dodd, -57.5 points
  8. Dennis Kucinich, -97.5 points

Next time around (tomorrow), we look at an issue I call “role of government.”

Who will I support? – part eight

Part eight of my series begins what will be a six-day blitz of installments, one that I discussed earlier. This time I’m going to look at the candidates’ stance on entitlements. You can see where I stand on Social Security and Medicare by following the links. I’ve sort of expanded the Medicare realm into a discussion of where the candidates stand on health care and the government’s role in general.

This will be a fairly long chapter, although not as long as I thought it might be as many candidates still don’t touch that “third rail” of Social Security. And this also continues the two-point incrementalism I’ve followed, the subject is worth 19 points. However, I can pretty much guarantee no one will get all 19; to be honest, it’s going to be a matter of whether they lose points.

As always, I start with the GOP and first up in alphabetical order…

Sam Brownback begins with this on his Social Security ideas:

The Social Security System is facing a demographic crisis that will someday affect the financial viability of the Social Security Trust Fund. Projections for the financial solvency of the Trust Fund show that as baby boomers begin to enter retirement there will be an increase in the number of people drawing social security benefits, and yet a corresponding decrease in the number of working people who provide those benefits. Clearly, this will present a crisis within the system. We must firmly resolve to keep our commitment to current retirees and those preparing to retire. Further, we must modernize the system to ensure that Social Security is financially sound for our children. I believe every American has a stake in this debate, and I will continue to keep the dialogue open as we work toward a solution.

Then he tackles health care here:

Our healthcare system will thrive with increased consumer choice, consumer control and real competition. I believe it is important that we have price transparency within our health care system. This offers consumers, who are either enrolled in high deductible health plans or who pay out-of-pocket, the ability to shop around for the best prices and plan for health care expenditures. Also, the existing health insurance market forces consumers to pay for extra benefits in their premiums, such as aromatherapy and acupuncture, which tends to increase the cost of coverage. Instead, consumers should be able to choose the from health care coverage plans that are tailored to fit their families’ needs and values. Accordingly, individuals should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. Finally, I believe that consumers should have control over the use of their personal health records. I have a proposal that would offer consumers a means to create a lifetime electronic medical record, while, at the same time, ensuring that the privacy of their personal health information is secured and protected.

Over time, the socialized medicine model has shown to deprive consumers of access to life-saving treatments and is downright inconsistent with the spirit of the American people to be free from unwanted government intervention. I will continue to work at the forefront to create a consumer-centered, not government-centered, healthcare model that offer both affordable coverage choices and put the consumer in the driver’s seat.

Unfortunately, Rudy Giuliani ranks health care as one of his “12 Commitments” but hasn’t elaborated on it yet as I write this.

Mike Huckabee talks about health care here.

Also placing his thoughts on the health care issue online is Mitt Romney. There are several sublinks to follow there as well.

Tom Tancredo places both a description and a slightly different .pdf link on his site. The Tancredo link to health care is here and Social Security here. These are the text portions.

The two major problems are the high cost of care and the number of uninsured. Tort reform and immigration enforcement would save the system billions and drive down costs. In California alone, illegal immigrants cost the system $800 million annually and have forced 84 hospitals to close.

As for the uninsured: as many as 25% of them are illegal aliens and should be deported or encouraged to leave. For citizens and legal residents who are employed by businesses which cannot afford coverage, I favor association health plans which band small businesses together to access lower cost insurance. For those out of work, state governments should be the primary source of relief, although I would not rule out federal incentives or limited subsidies to make sure families who have fallen on hard times are not without coverage.

And Social Security:

There is no question that the system is broken. Projections show that by 2016, the only way to avert its collapse will be deep cuts in benefits, heavy borrowing, or substantial tax hikes. The best suggestion I have heard is to switch from a defined benefits approach to a defined contribution approach with payroll tax funded private investment accounts. These accounts would be made available to young workers and function similarly to 401Ks.

Wrapping up the GOP side is Tommy Thompson and his healthcare proposal.

Now for your reading “pleasure” is the Democrat responses. Most of these turn out to be just links. Of course they’re just something else as well but I’ll have fun ripping them apart later.

Joe Biden, in third person, on health care:

Joe Biden believes that to protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families we have to have to address out-dated health care system. The next president will have to deal with two challenges: containing the growing costs of health care and providing access to the 47 million Americans who don’t have health insurance.

Joe Biden believes we need to take three steps to contain the cost of health care: modernize the system, simplify the system and reduce errors. He supports the transition to secure electronic records so that people can provide their doctors and nurses with vital medical information in real time. He believes there should be a uniform, efficient system to submit claims.

Joe Biden believes the path toward a 21st century health care system starts with the most vulnerable in our society. He would expand health insurance for children and relieve families and businesses of the burden of expensive catastrophic cases. He supports states that are pursuing innovative alternatives to make sure that everyone has access to health care and believes we should use data from these states to evaluate what works best in providing affordable access to health care for all.

Hillary Clinton has both an issue page and a feature page regarding health care.

With a sort of rare appearance in this forum, Chris Dodd goes into both health care and, as he terms them, senior issues.

John Edwards doesn’t do a double-dip, it’s just health care for him too.

Mike Gravel has a few guts as he’s the rare Democrat taking a stab at Social Security:

Senator Mike Gravel wants to put real money, rather than borrowed money, in the Social Security Trust Fund, investing it properly and identifying the interests of individual beneficiaries so they can leave their surplus funds to their heirs. He also calls on Congress to stop raiding the Social Security Trust Fund. This is key to ensuring that Social Security will be around long after the Baby Boomers are gone for the next generation of Americans who have paid into it.

Also he has the obligatory look at health care:

Senator Gravel advocates a universal health-care voucher program in which the federal government would issue annual health care vouchers to Americans based on their projected needs. Under the Senator’s plan, all Americans would be fully covered and would be free to use their vouchers to choose their own health care professional. No one would ever be denied health insurance because of their health, wealth, or any other reason. A universal health-care voucher plan will also relieve American businesses of the financial responsibility of insuring their workers while ensuring that their workers get adequate care.

Dennis Kucinich has FOUR different links on his site, calling them Social Security, Medicare Bill, Seniors, and Universal Health. Policy wonk in action.

Barack Obama simply deals with health care.

So does Bill Richardson.

The question now becomes, “how much do I agree with all of these viewpoints, and how many points will I assign?”

Particularly on Social Security, Sam Brownback almost seems to fill space with his paragraphs. While I’m sure I’ve been accused of doing the same thing, I’m not running for President either. He does talk some in his health care segment about a consumer-centered model (which is good) but I’m afraid he’s going to use the federal government to enforce it. I suppose overall this is good enough for just 4 points, there’s not a lot to like here.

It’ll be interesting to see what Giuliani comes up with, but not having the data now will affect his end score and may cost him my endorsement.

I really, really like what Mike Huckabee has to say about health care. He nails what I see as two main points – allowing more consumer choice and letting states be laboratories with their own programs. Unfortunately he doesn’t go into Social Security at all so I can only award half the points. I think the only minor quibble I have is with tax credits for health insurance; not that it’s not a good idea, but it doesn’t go with my tax philosophy. He gets 9 points of 19.

Mitt Romney is most known for the health insurance mandate he secured in Massachusetts. While he claims that this is the best way to avoid government-mandated health care (by allowing people to choose their own insurance programs), the fact that one must make a choice bothers me most. It’s an idea for the hopper but I don’t think it’s the most wise one, so I let Mitt have 3 points because he doesn’t discuss Social Security either.

I have to give Tom Tancredo credit for addressing both the Social Security and health care issues. Establishing private accounts for Social Security (similar to what President Bush has proposed) is a good half-measure to stabilize the program, although I’d prefer it “wither on the vine”. Got to start someplace, though. Tancredo also gets credit for noting that the illegal immigration problem does affect the health care issue, but he’s not one to move away from the employer-based health insurance system like Mike Huckabee is, choosing instead to create larger groups for coverage. Nor does he rule out federal subsidies. Overall, the half-measure for Social Security and small steps in the right direction for health care get Tancredo 7 points.

Tommy Thompson also goes sort of halfway on health care, correctly seeing that preventative care is a key to reducing costs and advocating the industry use technology in a more integrated way. But, like Romney, he also wants insurance mandated for all which subtracts points. He also fails to get into Social Security so I’ll match the Romney total and give Tommy 3 points too.

For the Democrats, I’ll give Joe Biden credit for (like Tommy Thompson) discussing the role of technology in the health care field. He sounds a lot like Thompson, but also wants to expand the federal role where insuring children is concerned. And since he doesn’t discuss Social Security, it’s practically a wash. I guess I’ll give Biden one point since I gave Thompson 3, partly because he doesn’t go as far as some of his more leftwing cohorts do.

Hillary doesn’t talk about Social Security, only about what’s being called HillaryCare – more federal government mandates, regulations, and spending. So she’ll only lose 9.5 points.

Chris Dodd definitely goes after the AARP vote with a laundry list of proposals, including being dead-set against Social Security privatization. On the health care front, he envisions a Romney-like health insurance plan for all based on what members of Congress receive. But I have the same issue as I do with Romney – while coverage can be consumer-based, you have to be covered. And while I’d certainly prefer to have health insurance, some may not. It’s not the worst idea in the world, but too much of a mandate for me. Dodd will be docked 15 points.

John Edwards wants to require everyone be insured too, but doesn’t make it consumer-based like Dodd does. Since he also doesn’t touch the Social Security “third rail” I can only dock him 9.5 points too.

On Social Security, I’m sure the “real money” that Mike Gravel wants to put into it comes from higher FICA taxes. That’s the only way to pay for everyone who’s eligible now and in the future. But I do give him credit for wanting to allow unused benefits to be passed on to heirs. It’s a sort of privatization-lite, so I can’t dock him for Social Security. The health care vouchers are also an intriguing idea that might be better tried at a state level. I guess instead of “money follows the child” it’s “money follows the sick.” I will give the man credit for innovation in both categories and add 3 points to his score.

Dennis Kucinich says, “Health care is a right that all Americans deserve.” He also is tooth and nail against Social Security reform of any sort. Please read the Constitution and tell me where either of these are in it. Kucinich also claims Michael Moore is in favor of his health plan. 19 points off.

In deciding to drive profitability out of both business (employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan) and health insurance (Obama will prevent companies from abusing their monopoly power through unjustified price increases and force insurers to spend more funds on patient care instead of keeping exorbitant amounts for profits and administration), Barack Obama is laying the groundwork for socialized medicine like Great Britain has – quite inefficient. He loses 9.5 points solely because he doesn’t go into Social Security either.

With Richardson, it’s more of the same. So he’s out 9.5 points as well.

It’s amazing just how much Democrats want the government to be who you depend on should you get sick. Makes me sick thinking about what would happen if they win next year.

Anyway, we move on to the revised standings, starting with the GOP. Mike Huckabee widens his lead as we’re in the backstretch:

  1. Mike Huckabee, 32 points
  2. Tom Tancredo, 26.5 points
  3. Rudy Giuliani, 22 points
  4. Duncan Hunter, 17 points
  5. Ron Paul, 13.5 points
  6. Sam Brownback, 11.5 points
  7. Mitt Romney, 4 points
  8. John McCain, 3 points
  9. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  10. Tommy Thompson, -5.5 points

For the Democrats, it’s looking like a Kucinich runaway as far as wacko socialism goes. But that’s not surprising. Meanwhile, some of these guys make Mike Gravel look like a moderate in comparison.

  1. Mike Gravel, -16 points
  2. Joe Biden, -35.5 points
  3. Bill Richardson, -41.5 points
  4. John Edwards, -48.5 points
  5. Barack Obama, -54.5 points
  6. Hillary Clinton, -55.5 points
  7. Chris Dodd, -57.5 points
  8. Dennis Kucinich, -76.5 points

Tomorrow we look at one of my “favorite” issues, taxes. This is a big opportunity for a GOP breakout.

Who will I support? – part six

While Newt Gingrich may think the current GOP field is a bunch of “pathetic…pygmies“, I’ve still got to go by the field as it is at the moment. However, I’d certainly welcome Newt into the fray should he choose to commit to running for the highest office in the land. And speaking of pathetic pygmies, I also have to see how the Democrats continue to fare as I stack them up against the GOP hopefuls and turn the topic over to military and veterans’ affairs.

For this portion of my search, I’m really more interested in the veterans than the actual military strategy. While I talk about a 50 year plan, the winner of the 2008 race can only serve 8 years and it’s likely that we’ll continue to deal with the Long War throughout his or her term. So I’ll focus on the military aspect separately when I get to the part regarding the Long War and concentrate on veterans’ affairs here. In case you’ve forgotten, here is where I discuss the subject in its entirety.

And since I’ve sort of limited the topic, there’s really not a lot of discussion of this on the various campaign websites. In fact, I only have seven entrants this time around so this will be one of the shorter articles. Only one from the GOP side talks specifically about veterans; not surprisingly, it’s John McCain.

For the Democrats, we start with the onetime First Lady. Hillary Clinton deals with the veterans here.

John Edwards makes his suggestions as well.

Mike Gravel puts a bit of biography in it:

Senator Mike Gravel enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 and served for three years as an adjutant in the Communications Services and as a Special Agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps. Our war veterans are not, as some would have it, a “special interest” but are our primary interest. As President, Sen. Gravel would ensure that veterans receive full and unambiguous funding for their most important needs, including health care that is indexed to the increasing cost of care and medicine. He would also make permanent the 100 percent disability ratings of those diagnosed as suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He would also make sure that the VA system is fully financed and has sufficient well-trained personnel to provide the finest care that is available. As the senator says, “We can do no less and will do much more.”

This is what Dennis Kucinich has to say.

Barack Obama weighs in here.

Finally, Bill Richardson notes on his site that:

Veterans will get access to the high-quality care they deserve, when they need it, without bureaucratic hassles. (emphasis his).

Also, from a blog account:

During campaign stops in Iowa, Richardson said he would give all veterans a “Heroes Health Card” that would allow them to receive health care wherever they need it. Currently, veterans are required to access their health benefits at designated veterans’ hospitals, which creates an accessibility burden for those veterans who don’t live near them.

So there you have it. And to be quite honest the Democrats aren’t all bad on this issue.

But I’ll start with my side. John McCain has sort of a mixed bag where he has made a lot of effort to secure common-sense rewards for veterans and their families like “a demonstration project to send mobile health centers to remote locations where veterans need care” or “support(ing)… the Troops-To-Teachers Act, a program to train veterans to become teachers.” On the other hand, he overreaches with items like “efforts to provide veterans with treatment for tobacco related illnesses” or “creat(ing) National Medal of Honor Sites to honor recipients of the Medal of Honor.” While this is a reasonable and lengthy record, I don’t see much to suggest what he’d do if elected. I can only give him a few points because he’s resting on past laurels; thus, I’ll give him 4 points so at least now he’s in positive territory.

Hillary Clinton is a little less specific about her plans, what sticks out the most to me is a promise to “reduc(e) the red tape our wounded service members and veterans face.” But the main point to me is that she still wants to localize care within the VA where I’d like to see it more privatized. I’ll give her actual points for effort though, how about 2 points.

Like Clinton, John Edwards seems to place all of his eggs in the federal VA basket. One part of his plan that bothered me somewhat was that he “will also reject the Bush Administration’s ideological drive to outsource federal jobs; a questionable decision to hire contractors to manage Walter Reed facilities contributed to the shocking conditions there.” To me, the military’s specialty is killing people and breaking things. It’s probably a case of a poorly-chosen contractor that’s to blame for the conditions at Walter Reed, not the outsourcing itself. Overall, his program would spend more money for what I consider dubious results at best, so he gets no points.

I suppose the question for Mike Gravel is this: while I have all the respect and admiration in the world for those who serve our country, shouldn’t we all get the finest care that’s available? It’s why I’d like to see the VA system absorbed into the health care system at-large – that way all of us benefit from the best healthcare has to offer. I appreciate Senator Gravel’s service, but will deduct 2 points from his score.

Dennis Kucinich is similar to John McCain in that he talks about what he’s done for veterans, but then he takes time to rip on Halliburton and talk about his plan to substitute the ineffective UN “peacemakers” for our troops in Iraq. For going off topic like that, I’m taking off all 15 points.

Most of Barack Obama’s webpage about the veterans issue talks about what he’s purportedly accomplished for veterans rather than what he plans to do for (or to) them if elected President. It’s much like my complaint about John McCain, but he has a much less lengthy record. It is a bipartisan record though so I’ll give him one point.

But of all the candidates who have talked about veterans’ affairs, I think Bill Richardson actually has the most intriguing idea. It’s one that’s worth further discussion to be sure because this “Heroes Health Card” apparently allows veterans to receive care wherever they wish, including the private-sector hospitals. If it were tied to a private insurance program that could be supplemented by the government as a veterans’ benefit I’d really like it, but as it is I’ll give him 8 points.

The GOP standings aren’t changing a lot, but John McCain moves up a bit and joins the rest of his companions in positive territory. Tom Tancredo maintains his lead. I also have to retroactively add 3 points to Mike Huckabee’s total because I completely missed his treatise on education in part five. It brings him closer to the field.

  1. Tom Tancredo, 19.5 points
  2. Duncan Hunter, 17 points
  3. Sam Brownback, 14.5 points
  4. Ron Paul, 13.5 points
  5. Mike Huckabee, 12 points
  6. Rudy Giuliani, 8 points
  7. John McCain, 3 points
  8. Mitt Romney, 3 points
  9. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  10. Tommy Thompson, 1.5 points

The Democrats shuffle a little bit; those who commented here generally benefit. I also am taking this time to add 4 points to Mike Gravel’s total, if you go back to part four you’ll see the reason why.

  1. Bill Richardson, -15 points
  2. Mike Gravel, -19 points
  3. Joe Biden, -19.5 points
  4. John Edwards, -22.5 points
  5. Chris Dodd, -23.5 points
  6. Barack Obama, -28 points
  7. Hillary Clinton, -29 points
  8. Dennis Kucinich, -40.5 points

Interestingly enough, my next subject is the only one not part of my original 50 year plan. With the attention I give the subject elsewhere on monoblogue though, I decided energy independence merited its own spot and 17 precious points that could vault any candidate up to the top of the GOP standings. So that’s Friday’s topic du jour.

Who will I support? – part five

Just as this series is my attempt to educate voters about the choices they have and the benefits of studying my take on the issues (along with other sources, of course) when it comes to choosing a candidate that’s best for America, some of these same aspirants feel that the federal government needs to have a role in educating the “skulls full of mush” that become the leaders of tomorrow. On that I part ways with these men (and woman) who seek our country’s highest office, an argument I advanced here.

There are 13 points at stake in this particular part (yes, I increase at two point increments with each successive portion of my quest to find my chosen candidate, it’s my way of weighing the results properly.) The gain or loss is going to pretty much depend on how willing the candidate’s going to be to tell me that the Department of Education should be dismantled and federal control of education dollars ceased. I don’t think anyone goes to that extreme so I don’t anticipate someone getting all 13 points; however, it should be interesting to find out if anyone drops all 13 by wanting even more government control over the kidlins with ideas like pre-K schooling.

As is customary, if the candidate has a webpage devoted solely to the topic I link, otherwise I quote, beginning with the GOP side.

Sam Brownback:

When we ignore poorly performing schools, we also ignore every student in those schools, thereby allowing an achievement gap to persist. It is imperative that we close the achievement gap and provide our nation’s students with a productive learning environment that challenges and encourages intellectual stimulation. I believe that providing for choice in education is beneficial to student achievement. For years now, we have seen studies that prove school choice programs, such as the new Opportunity Scholarships recently implemented in the District of Columbia, have a drastic and positive impact on students—especially minority students. By supporting such initiatives, we will be ensuring that more students have access to a high quality education, which means that they will have a better chance of success in not only reaching college, but flourishing in life.

Duncan Hunter has two parts of his site devoted to education:

15. Goals for the Department of Education:

I believe we can educate students more effectively by returning school curriculum prerogatives to the states, local communities and, most importantly, to the family. State agencies charged with conducting education policies do not need expensive and inefficient mandates from a federal agency and I support streamlining the responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Education toward a goal of working in cooperation with local and state governments to meet local and state learning levels.

16. Educational choice (vouchers, tax credits); home schooling; and the freedom of private and home education from federal regulation:

I support taking the actions necessary to strengthen our public educational system and school vouchers are a great opportunity to provide students and their families with additional educational choices. According to national studies, a significant percentage of high school students have difficulty reading at a proficient level, test well below the international average in math and science, and lack basic knowledge in history. Clearly, parents have a reason to be concerned. Many Americans support innovative plans that address our current education shortcomings and I believe school vouchers are an effective way of achieving this goal.

Taking into consideration that approximately 2 million children are taught at home, it is important that we make every effort to ensure these students have the same access and opportunities to federal benefits, such as financial aid, as those who attend public school.

Mitt Romney talks about education here and features a video on his site.

Tom Tancredo devotes both a full webpage and slightly modified summary:

I spent a decade as the Department of Education’s regional representative in Denver so I do not say this lightly. Federal involvement should be limited. Educational control is best left in the hands of parents. A no-strings-attached voucher system would promote school choice, while competition for students would drive educational improvements at the institutional level. I also suggest schools return to a more traditional course of study and that the public focus shift to certain non-school factors, like parental involvement, which studies show are the most important determinants of student performance.

Tommy Thompson:

Governor Thompson, who started the nation’s first school choice program in Milwaukee, believes America must hold our schools to high standards from kindergarten through college while making sure all of our children have access to a world-class education, regardless of what neighborhood they live in or how much money their parents make. Governor Thompson believes Congress can make No Child Left Behind stronger, and do so without wavering on its core principles.

And now the Democrats, beginning with Joe Biden.

Joe Biden:

Joe Biden believes that every American should have access to higher education. In order to compete in a global economy the American workforce has to protect its edge in education. A college degree is more valuable than ever – and more expensive.

As a parent, Joe Biden knows how tuition costs drain family savings. He would expand help for families by increasing the tax deduction for tuition payments. He would expand Pell grants to cover the average tuition at public colleges for low income families.

Joe Biden believes that high school students should be engaged in planning and saving for college earlier in their careers so that students in their senior year are not overwhelmed by the process of applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it. He would expand national service programs to high school students so that they can earn money for college by participating in public service while they are in high school.

Over the past two decades we have made incredible strides in updating our education system. Fifteen years ago it would have been hard to imagine students linked through a high-tech video and high-speed internet network to other students and teachers across the country or teachers interacting with parents via email. New technology holds promise for our education system that we’re only beginning to discover. But nothing is more essential than quality educators and engaged parents. Joe Biden believes that to fulfill the promise to leave no child behind we have to direct adequate resources to update schools, reduce class size and school size, reward quality educators, and improve teacher pay.

Hillary Clinton has a pet program and also notes:

She has worked to make college affordable and accessible, fighting to increase the federal Pell Grant, which currently covers just a third of tuition at an average public college. Hillary has also proposed the Student Borrowers Bill of Rights, a comprehensive set of reforms that would eliminate unscrupulous lending practices.

Chris Dodd has this to say about the subject.

But John Edwards tops Dodd (and the rest of the field) with two pages.

Mike Gravel:

No Child Left Behind has left far too many children behind. We have a dire situation in America; 30% of our kids do not graduate from high school. Nearly a third of our children are condemned to a substandard economic existence. Education in America must be properly funded. However, money will not solve all the problems. For example, Washington D.C. ranks first in dollars spent, yet ranks last in achievement. We need to approach education comprehensively. We must properly fund education while raising the overall standard of living in America and making education a vital part of a healthy, thriving community.

Of course Dennis Kucinich has his share of ideas, too.

Barack Obama isn’t left out of the pandering either.

Nor is Bill Richardson. This is one of his top issues. And he sucks up to the teachers’ union in this speech.

As I said earlier, no one is going to get all 13 points on the positive side. 2008 is just too soon for as much radical change as I seek – but some may get a better beginning than others. This is where the parties tend to be different.

Let me ask you Sam Brownback, how will you support school choice initiatives? More federal funding? Granted, I like the idea of school choice but we all know that federal money comes with federal strings and you don’t mention anything about severing those. I’ll give you 3 points.

Duncan Hunter comes pretty close to the ideal, just not quite there! It’s tempting to give him a whole lot of points but I’ll stay with a nice round 10 points of 13. Vouchers are probably the closest thing to “money follows the child” that we’ll see for the foreseeable future.

Mitt Romney still seems to favor an abundance of federal involvement in education despite his talk about principals managing schools. What about homeschoolers? Only 1 point.

Tom Tancredo is also great in this category. Just wish he’d said “no” federal involvement instead of “limited.” A plus for voting against NCLB, although that’s a bit of hindsight on my part since the idea of standards sounded good to me when it was passed. He gets 11 of 13 points.

On the other hand, please tell Tommy Thompson that we do not need NCLB to be stronger. It’s only because he did enact the first school choice program that I’ll award him 1/2 point and not dock him.

Something tells me Ron Paul would be pretty strong in this category too but I saw nothing on his site pertaining directly to education. That may be an upcoming correction.

Time for pandering to the NEA and AFT; let’s look at the Democrats.

Joe Biden doesn’t disappoint in the pandering department. Throw more federal money at schools and give everyone a college education. That and the national service (is that like compulsory volunteering?) means I’ll dock him on points. He does consider merit pay in his prescription so I’ll only take off 12 of the 13 possible.

Leave it to Hillary Clinton to assign rights that don’t exist (a student borrowers’ Bill of Rights? They have the right to pay it back!) and give federal largesse to the states with enough strings attached to fly 500 kites. Yep, that and the pre-K indoctrination you’re pushing lose you all 13 points.

Chris Dodd saves himself 1/2 point by promoting competition for student loan dollars. Other than that, it’s the same left-wing garbage, good to lose 12.5 points by.

While John Edwards talks a bit about streamlining some parts of the college financial aid process and what could possibly be a good program at a state level (called “College for Everyone”) the trouble is that he’s advocating one-size-fits-all solutions that make even more people rely on the federal government to get through life. He’s going to be cut another 11.5 points on this section.

Mike Gravel correctly points out that money will not solve all of the educational system’s problems but says TWICE that education should be properly funded. Well…which is it? For the colossal ignorance of saying three contrary things in one paragraph you lose all 13 points.

The man is practically a Marxist lunatic on the subject of education, but I have to give Dennis Kucinich props for one statement he makes toward the end of his education webpage:

Education must emphasize creative and critical thinking, not just test taking.

It’s sort of like a blind squirrel moment, but he’s totally correct on that one facet so I’ll only deduct 9 points from Dennis.

The problem with Barack Obama is that he comes up with plausible-sounding ideas that could work but wants to integrate them at a federal level, when the goal should be for the federal government to leave the education system alone. On that basis I’m deducting 11 points.

Let’s see, Bill Richardson wants to “fully fund” NCLB (check), raise teacher salaries (check), do a federal pre-K program (check), and say no to vouchers (check). A perfect little AFT/NEA minion. Off with your 13 points!

So once again the GOP order changes around. And much like liberal financial policy (raise taxes while spending the influx and then some) the Democrats’ deficit gets deeper and deeper.


  1. Tom Tancredo, 19.5 points
  2. Duncan Hunter, 17 points
  3. Sam Brownback, 14.5 points
  4. Ron Paul, 13.5 points
  5. Mike Huckabee, 9 points
  6. Rudy Giuliani, 8 points
  7. Mitt Romney, 3 points
  8. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  9. Tommy Thompson, 1.5 points
  10. John McCain, -1 point


  1. Joe Biden, -19.5 points
  2. Mike Gravel, -21 points
  3. John Edwards, -22.5 points
  4. Bill Richardson, -23 points
  5. Chris Dodd, -23.5 points
  6. Dennis Kucinich, -25.5 points
  7. Barack Obama, -29 points
  8. Hillary Clinton, -31 points

Next week we move into the topic of military and veterans’ affairs.

Late edit: How the heck did I miss this? I must have been half-asleep when I looked at Mike Huckabee’s website because I missed his page on “Education and the Arts.

The problem I have is that he wants to do things that were fine as governor (such as expanding arts and music education) to a federal level. And while he talks about setting a “distinction” between federal and state involvement that still leaves the federal government involved. On the other hand, he would encourage homeschooling and charter schools so I suppose that’s worth something. At my next opportunity I’ll retroactively give him 3 points.

Who will I support? – part four

Just like “The Jeffersons”, we’re movin’ on up. Ranked number nine on my list of the twelve most important issues impacting my choice for President on the Republican side (and as a contrast on the Democrat side) is trade and job creation.

As I note in my chapter of the 50 year plan dealing with trade and job creation, I’m more on the side of free trading, but I sympathize with the argument protectionists have regarding our perceived decline in manufacturing jobs over the last 30 years or so. In the GOP field, Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul do have a valid point in noting that some of the free trade agreements we’re eager to sign on with do have some caveats that chip away at our sovereignty.

It’s also interesting to note that a major part of the impetus for declaring our independence from the British Crown in the first place had to do with tariffs, such as the Stamp Act (1765) and the Tea Act (1773), which led to the Boston Tea Party. On the other hand, for much of our country’s history tariffs and duties were the prime source of government revenue, generally up until the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. In short, this is an issue that has provoked discussion and outcry on many occasions during our nation’s history and Campaign 2008 is no exception.

(Also corollary to this topic on an economic basis is trading in labor, but I’m going to cover that situation as part of my look at border security and immigration later on. In my eyes that’s more relevant to the subject of national security than to trade.)

But here’s what the Presidential hopefuls have to say about this issue. For some of the GOP contenders, I’m indebted to the Club for Growth website, where they’ve done “white papers” on four of the officeseekers. These will be noted as appropriate.

Sam Brownback, as excerpted from the Club for Growth website:

On the whole, Senator Sam Brownback has been one of the most consistent supporters of free trade in the U.S. Senate. He was deemed a “free trader” by the Cato Institute for the 105th Congress through the 108th Congress, a designation given to those who “consistently vote against both trade barriers and international economic subsidies.”

His overall pro-trade record, however, is tarnished slightly by his support for a quota on foreign wheat gluten imports (Press release, 03/19/01) and his support for the preservation of a 54 cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol (Press release, 05/10/06).

No doubt, these two aberrations were motivated by the role wheat gluten and ethanol play in the Kansas economy, but they are nevertheless disappointing blemishes on an otherwise extremely impressive record on trade.

Senator Brownback’s record on regulation is generally pro-growth with just a few exceptions. He has often demonstrated his respect for the self-regulation of the marketplace and his general aversion to burdensome regulatory measures.

At the same time, Senator Brownback has cast some votes that increase burdensome government regulations. The most unfortunate of these was his vote (admittedly along with all his Senate colleagues) in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, an overreaction to corporate malfeasance that imposed heavy financial burdens on companies (Roll Call #192, 07/25/02). He has also voted in favor of an amendment that would allow the federal government to set drug prices (Roll Call #302, 11/03/05) and supported the CANSPAM Act of 2003 (Brownback press release, 10/27/03).

Rudy Giuliani, also excerpted from the Club for Growth site:

Rudy Giuliani the presidential candidate is billing himself as a supporter of free trade. As recently as late March, the Mayor embraced free trade, albeit cautiously, at the Club for Growth Winter Conference. “I generally agree with the principles of free trade and I think and increasingly have become more convinced of those principles because I almost think they are inevitable.”

While his professed support is a step in the right direction, the lack of hard evidence to support his claims and his ardent opposition to NAFTA in 1993 is troubling…

…Giuliani has explained his opposition to NAFTA as motivated by his concern for New York City jobs, (but) it is unclear if his parochial concerns bear out upon closer inspection. As the financial center of the country, if not the world, New York City stood to benefit from the removal of trade barriers in North America. Given his sparse record on trade and his curious opposition to NAFTA, Americans have a right to question whether a President Giuliani would expend the political capital to continue the kind of broad free trade deals that have contributed to American prosperity over the past generation.


Rudy Giuliani’s record on regulation demonstrates an intuitive understanding of the virtue of free markets and a fearlessness in the face of government bureaucracy. This is an admirable and necessary quality for a candidate looking to run a government behemoth in desperate need of a spring cleaning. While that same record displays some flashes of disappointment, his overall persistence is an encouraging sign.

I’ll start with Mike Huckabee from his own website, with the Club for Growth summary to follow. In his own words:

I believe in free trade, but it has to be fair trade. We are losing jobs because of an unlevel, unfair trading arena that has to be fixed. Behind the statistics, there are real families and real lives and real pain. I’m running for President because I don’t want people who have worked loyally for a company for twenty or thirty years to walk in one morning and be handed a pink slip and be told, “I’m sorry, but everything you spent your life working for is no longer here.”

I believe that globalization, done right, done fairly, can be a blessing for our society. As the Industrial Revolution raised living standards by allowing ordinary people to buy mass-produced goods that previously only the rich could afford, so globalization gives all of us the equivalent of a big pay raise by letting us buy all kinds of things from clothing to computers to TVs much more inexpensively.

For its part, the Club for Growth points out (excerpted here):

Governor Huckabee’s record on trade is limited, but positive. In 2003, he pushed for free trade with Mexico, calling for a “strong market of the Americas” and supporting NAFTA (AP 10/03/03). In 2006, he signed an agreement between Arkansas and a South Korea trade group, calling for increased commerce between the southern state and South Korea (AP 06/23/06)…

Governor Huckabee has consistently supported and initiated measures that increase government’s interference in markets, thereby impeding economic growth. He told the Washington Times he supports “empowering people to make their own decisions,” but many of his key proposals have done just the opposite (Washington Times 03/01/05).

Duncan Hunter:

America’s one-way-street trade relationship with China and other nations has reduced manufacturing jobs severely in the U.S. I would change the one-way-street into a two-way-street by putting the same charges on foreign goods that they put on ours.

Like Huckabee, John McCain has his view and the Club for Growth perspective:

A global rising tide of economic isolationism is threatening our entrepreneurs. Opening new markets is a key to U.S. economic success. Today, despite all the defeatist rhetoric, America is the world’s biggest exporter, importer, producer, saver, investor, manufacturer and innovator. Americans do not shy from the challenge of competition: they welcome it. Because of that, we attract foreign investment from all over the world. Our government should welcome competition as our people do, and not pretend that we can wall off our economy.

Neither should we fail to recognize that competition can lead to painful dislocations for some individuals. We must remain committed to education, retraining, and help for displaced workers all the while reminding ourselves that our ability to change is a great strength of our nation. Indeed, Washington must keep pace with this change and develop new approaches to ensure that our ideas are protected, our intellectual property rights are respected, and our economic outreach serves the American workers today and in the future.

But, cautions the Club for Growth:

John McCain has been a strong proponent of free trade in the U.S. Senate. He has voted for many bills that broke down trade barriers and increased competition and choice for consumers…The Cato Institute aptly sums up his record on trade by designating him a “free trader” for the 105th Congress through the 108th Congress, a top accolade given out to those who “consistently vote against both trade barriers and international economic subsidies.”

At first glance, John McCain’s record on regulation appears generally positive (but)…

A deeper look at Senator McCain’s record…reveals a number of votes and bills that reflect much less favorably on his commitment to free market principles and his claim to being an economic conservative…His anti-growth votes are exacerbated by his characteristic vociferousness in cases like the Patients’ Bill of Rights and the Climate Stewardship Act. His occasional eagerness to support and encourage increased government regulation suggests a troublesome mistrust of the free market.

Ron Paul notes on his website that:

NAFTA’s superhighway is just one part of a plan to erase the borders between the U.S. and Mexico, called the North American Union. This spawn of powerful special interests, would create a single nation out of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, with a new unelected bureaucracy and money system….We must withdraw from any…trade deals that infringe upon the freedom and independence of the United States of America.

Mitt Romney chimes in with this statement:

“We have to keep our markets open or we go the way of Russia and the Soviet Union, which is a collapse. And I recognize there are some people who will argue for protectionism because the short-term benefits sound pretty good, but long term you kill your economy, you kill the future. What you have to do in order to compete on a global basis long term is invest in education, invest in technology, reform our immigration laws to bring in more of the brains from around the world, eliminate the waste in our government. We have to use a lot less oil. These are the kinds of features you have to invest in, you have to change in order to make ourselves competitive long term.”

Romney also touches somewhat on this topic in a speech he gave at the Detroit Economic Club back in February.

Tom Tancredo discusses trade here, and in this statement:

The President’s fast track authority should not be renewed. The constitution gives Congress not the Executive the power to negotiate treaties. Those who would delegate that authority to the President argue that the complexities of negotiation in a global economy require it. But that argument has lost its force because the Presidents have abused the power. Instead of sticking to trade agreements, they make commitments on matters of domestic policy, like immigration and carbon dioxide emissions, in the guise of international accords.

Now I’ll turn to the Democrats, as I found nothing from either Thompson directly relating to the subject at hand.

Joe Biden sort of peripherally skirts the subject:

To protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families Joe Biden believes the next President must first address two things: energy security and health care. This is not our father’s economy – America now competes in a global economy.

The price of energy is set by the global marketplace. Developing our own sources of energy aren’t enough to protect us from high prices that cost businesses and families — we must invest in using energy more efficiently and become the leader in energy innovation.

By 2008, the average Fortune 500 company will spend as much on health care as it will make in profit. In other countries their competitors will not have to bear these costs.

Joe Biden believes America will continue to dominate the global economy by putting energy security and health care reform at the top of the agenda.

Hillary Clinton places her views on what her campaign has billed as the “innovation” page and adds:

In New York, Hillary championed tax incentives like wage credits for businesses and job creation in upstate New York and elsewhere. She also helped launch economic development initiatives to provide critical resources to small and micro businesses and helped launch a private sector venture called New Jobs for New York that makes venture capital available to New York’s innovators.

In fact, aside from Biden and Mike Gravel, each of the Democrat contenders devotes a whole web page to their ideas. So for further study, one need only check out the websites. The interesting thing to me is how they bill each page.

For Chris Dodd, it’s headlined under the “Labor” category.

Meanwhile John Edwards lumps the topic with “working families.”

Dennis Kucinich is very straightforward, for him it’s about jobs.

Barack Obama bills the subject as “fighting poverty.”

And finally Bill Richardson refers to his ideas as “jump-starting the economy.” I guess Richardson recalls the “worst economy of the last 50 years” bit that his former boss Bill Clinton used to con 43% of the public into voting for him in 1992.

Obviously, having gone through the sources, the question becomes how I rate each participant. These are rated on an 11 point scale as the priority increases.

On the broad scale the Club for Growth gives Sam Brownback pretty good marks, and it seems like he’s at least not interested in adding more regulations. I’d like to see him (and the rest of Congress for that matter) try and roll back more red tape, but the tide needs to be stemmed as a beginning. I’ve decided he merits 7 points of 11.

As a chief executive in the nation’s largest city, Rudy Giuliani comes relatively close to the same powers he’d have as President. Given his track record from the Club for Growth’s perspective, particularly on NAFTA, he’s probably not the closest candidate to my ideal on these subjects although Giuliani did accomplish a bit of streamlining as mayor. I’ll give him 4.5 points.

I have a question regarding Mike Huckabee, particularly when it comes to the agreement signed with the South Korean trade group – does that seem to anyone else uncomfortably close to the Constitutional prohibition regarding a State “enter(ing) into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation” (Article 1, Section 10)? His record seems to be one of slowly increasing the role of government in the market, rather than the other way around – for that and the blatant emotional appeal he only gets 2.5 points.

Well, Duncan Hunter lost his lead. We know China’s not going to play ball fairly, so slapping tariffs on their goods will just compel them to find some other way around the restrictions. When you add in the fact there’s also no statement on job creation, my decision is to deduct 1 point from his total.

I’m not impressed with John McCain’s own description of his approach to the subject at hand. While he correctly acknowleges we cannot “wall off” our economy, the part about helping out displaced workers is troubling if he’s figuring that as a federal-level issue. With that and being as moderate on regulation, I can only give him two points solely for being a good free-trader.

Ron Paul is very principled on the idea of not having what George Washington termed as “entangling alliances.” On the other hand, we do need some rules of the game so I think as President he should work to limit the scope of the agreements as feasibly as possible. I don’t think he would go to the extreme Hunter does, in fact he states that he welcomes free trade. In this case, I think he deserves 6 points.

I’m not certain I like Mitt Romney’s idea about “investing” in education and technology because I can see that as more government intervention. While it’s not totally germane to the subject, the example of his health insurance program in Massachusetts also sends a message that he’s not totally enamoured with private-sector solutions. It’s only because he’s not a protectionist that I award two points.

Tancredo is cut from the same cloth as Ron Paul insofar as the trade agreement idea is concerned. I’m not quite as certain regarding cutting government regulation and red tape though so I’ll grant him 5.5 points on this subject.

Switching sides, Joe Biden talks nicely, but what he says is code for additional regulations on energy that will discourage market forces from controlling its price and the easing of corporate health care costs by placing the government in charge of it rather than private industry. I have two future posts that will deal with those specific subjects, but as far as attitude goes and because Joe’s so vague on the subject he loses three points.

Practically all of Hillary Clinton’s ideas involve – you guessed it – more federal spending and involvement. I will give her a little credit for having the idea of rewarding innovation through competition, but I think the private sector or states should play the role of funding these awards, not the federal government. Even with that thought she loses 9.5 points.

Chris Dodd finally did it – the perfectly wrong plan for trade and job creation. You have to read it to believe it. He loses all 11 points, and I’ve half a mind to take off more. But I won’t.

As part of his crap about “Two Americas”, John Edwards manages to show that he can be a Big Labor toadie, too. Tell me, John, is your legal firm’s staff unionized? It’s amazing how Democrats think Big Labor creates good jobs when the reality is that it’s the capital and effort of those who start these companies that truly create the work that the union folks do. The UAW didn’t start Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford did through hard work and effort. Yep, he loses 11 points too.

Dennis Kucinich is not just protectionist, he wants to recreate the FDR-era Works Progress Administration. It would be make-work, big-dollar unionized jobs for everyone. Screw the market. While I’ll admit that our nation’s infrastructure isn’t in the best shape, there’s a reason for the term “close enough for government work.” He also needs to update his page, unemployment isn’t at 6.2% now. Try about 4.5%, or just about the definition of “full employment.” I’m taking off 10.5 points.

There’s a couple ideas that Barack Obama has that might not be bad on a state level, and he at least pays lip service to the private sector in his spiel. One area he speaks about is helping out low-skilled workers through a partnership with unions. Where I don’t care for Big Labor in a political sense, they do tend (particularly in the construction industry) to train workers who exhibit craftsmanship that’s usually worth the premium paid. But his program would overstep the boundary between government and the market. He loses 9 points.

Finally, Bill Richardson starts out pretty well with some of the programs New Mexico has implemented that seem to work in turning the state’s economy around (or so he claims.) As far as that goes, these programs are fine because it’s New Mexico’s right to do so. But Bill may be making the common liberal mistake of thinking that what works in New Mexico will work in New York, too. And he falters in spots into the typical left-wing job-killing ideas like increasing the minimum wage and repealing some of the Bush tax cuts. He’s penalized 8 points.

While no one on the Republican side was a perfect 11 point gainer, we do have a new GOP leader:

  1. Ron Paul, 13.5 points
  2. Sam Brownback, 11.5 points
  3. Mike Huckabee, 9 points
  4. Tom Tancredo, 8.5 points
  5. Rudy Giuliani, 8 points
  6. Duncan Hunter, 7 points
  7. Mitt Romney, 2 points
  8. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  9. Tommy Thompson, 1 point
  10. John McCain, -1 point

It’s pretty sad that a “perfect” score would now be 32 points and no one comes close. Of course, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel made it to the Democrat lead by pretty much saying nothing on this subject:

  1. Joe Biden, -7.5 points
  2. Mike Gravel, -8 points
  3. Bill Richardson, -10 points
  4. Chris Dodd, -11 points
  5. John Edwards, -11 points
  6. Dennis Kucinich, -16.5 points
  7. Hillary Clinton, -18 points
  8. Barack Obama, -18 points

Next time around, we tackle the subject of education.

Late edit: In doing my research for a future installment, I found this on Mike Gravel’s website:

The senator’s position is that America must address the root cause of illegal immigration. Any discussion of Mexican immigration must include NAFTA and the concept of “free trade.” The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for the working class of both the US and Mexico. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that over 1,000,000 US jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a wave of immigrant workers looking for work in the US job market.

Major structural changes must be made to NAFTA in order to restore lost jobs. Reforming unfair trade policies will stimulate job growth on both sides of the border and allow Mexican workers to remain in their motherland. We must make fair trade a priority if we are to rebuild the American middle class.

It was buried under “immigration” which is scheduled for August 17. But I think Gravel has a decent point here so I’ll add 4 points to his total with the next chapter I complete.