Dossier: Fred Karger

The first in my series of dossiers covers GOP candidate Fred Karger of California. He was one of the first to announce for the campaign, forming his exploratory committee back in July 2010.

Political resume: Karger has never held elective office, but has managed federal, state, and local political campaigns over a 35 year span. He bills himself as the first openly gay Presidential candidate.

On campaign finance/election reform (three points): Interestingly enough, Fred supports lowering the voting age to “16 or 17.” And this report states he’s against voter ID. If anything, I question the wisdom of allowing youth to vote (maybe the age of majority needs to revert to 21) so it doesn’t sound like he and I would agree on the issue. He’s docked all three points.

On property rights (five points): No apparent position, so no points.

On the Second Amendment (seven points): No apparent position, so no points.

On education (eight points): He wants to make school “more interesting and fun.” Well, I’d like them to learn more critical thinking and actually know something when they graduate without burdensome federal regulations. I will give him a little credit for knowing the key obstacle to improving education (the teachers unions) and at least giving a nod to charter schools, but we can go much further. He believes the school year should be longer, which is a double-edged sword but played right can be to our advantage. Three points.

On the Long War/veterans affairs (nine points): Fred is an enigma on foreign policy – he wants out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but thinks we should be in Libya! Yet “Israel…must be defended at all costs.” That saves him from being docked even more. I’ll take off five points as well since he’s very, very squishy on the subject.

On immigration (eleven points): Fred joins the chorus calling for “greatly improved border security” but also advocates “a path to citizenship for immigrants already living in the country.” Smells like amnesty to me, so I take three points off.

On energy independence (twelve points): What Karger doesn’t seem to understand is that forced conservation of energy is counterproductive to a growing economy. Certainly looking for ways to get more done with less energy usage is a good thing, but mandating reductions isn’t practical for growth. If someone needs to explore alternative energy, let it be the private sector (see Herman Cain above.) He loses another six points.

On entitlements (thirteen points): He thinks the size of entitlements needs to be on the table. But that’s about all the service he gives to it so I have no idea what else he wants to do. I’ll grant him one point.

On trade and job creation (fourteen points): Karger wants to “work with…corporations to incentivize them to keep their jobs in America,” but doesn’t explain how. “I believe in the private sector” isn’t a policy. Two points.

On taxation and the role of government (fifteen points): Unfortunately, Fred would like to raise taxes on millionaires, but in the same breath claims he’s for “small government, lower spending, and personal responsibility.” It doesn’t seem to me that Fred has thought about how to achieve these broad goals, so I can’t give him more than two points in this category.

Intangibles (up to three points): On the plus side, he would like to legalize marijuana. But on the negative side, he’s all for taxing and controlling it. More negatives for Fred are that he’s pro-choice and obviously supports same-sex marriage, plus he’s supported Democrats in the past. It’s a net of two points deducted.

Continue reading “Dossier: Fred Karger”

Walking back an error

You may have noticed that I stopped updating my personal Presidential selection process. Well, there was a reason for that.

In thinking about this, the problem with doing posts by topic is that I can’t account for comings and goings into the race – my posts had plenty to say about Tim Pawlenty but he dropped out; conversely, I haven’t made mention of Rick Perry. Over the next few days I’m going to rectify this, and it may make things a little easier on me and improve the posts as an added bonus.

In addition to my regular posts, I’ll be adding a ‘dossier’ series detailing the top Republican and Democratic candidates (in essence, those I already link to.) Obviously this will be a thumbnail look at how I see them since I also link to their campaign websites, but this can give insight on issues I feel are important as well.

And instead of doing them in alphabetical order, I’m going to do them more or less in polling order from lowest to highest – some of these candidates aren’t necessarily represented on most polls.

Yes, I’ll admit it – I screwed up by doing this the way I did it originally. But in creating a dossier I can make these posts all about one candidate and lead people into doing more research on them, plus it gives me the flexibility to add any new candidates eventually.

I think this will make the posts more readable, and that’s the goal. Look for them over the next few weeks.

Bachmann takes Iowa, but Paul a close second

Well, the results of the Ames Straw Poll are in, and they’re not a complete surprise.

  1. Michele Bachmann, 4823 votes (28.55%)
  2. Ron Paul, 4671 votes (27.65%)
  3. Tim Pawlenty, 2293 votes (13.57%)
  4. Rick Santorum, 1657 votes (9.81%)
  5. Herman Cain, 1456 votes (8.62%)
  6. Rick Perry, 718 votes (3.62%) – write-in
  7. Mitt Romney, 567 votes (3.36%) – skipped event
  8. Newt Gingrich, 385 votes  (2.28%) – skipped event
  9. Jon Huntsman, 69 votes (0.41%) – skipped event
  10. Thad McCotter, 35 votes (0.21%)

By dividing the vote totals by the percentages of the top two finishers, I’ve deduced there are roughly 187 votes for candidates not listed. That means Sarah Palin (if she received all of them, which I’m sure she did not) would have finished well back in the pack and ahead of just Huntsman and McCotter. Considering Rick Perry finished sixth without being on the ballot, perhaps she’s not the formidable “Mama Grizzly” we may have thought she’d be.

While Bachmann and Pawlenty were expected to do well, Rick Santorum probably raised a lot of eyebrows by coming in fourth. Surely Pawlenty’s team has to be disappointed by how badly he was trounced by Michele Bachmann, though – being the second-most popular Minnesotan in Iowa is bad enough, but he lost by a better than 2-to-1 margin.

Having Ron Paul come in second is no real surprise, as he tends to do quite well in a situation where voting is confined to a small space that can be packed by his rabid following. But Paul tripled his 2007 performance in Ames, going from 9.1% to 27.7 percent. Perhaps he’s more of a player this time, but most likely still not good enough to win the nomination.

A few months back in the spring, it looked like Herman Cain was the “it” candidate, but apparently his support has cooled off. It’s likely Bachmann’s entrance has cut heavily into his support and he may be an early casualty in the race because of this result.

In looking at the bottom five, you have the newly-announced write-in (Rick Perry) who did reasonably well. It would have been interesting, though, to see how he would have done had he been on the ballot. I’m sure he wouldn’t have beaten Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul but I think he would’ve knocked Pawlenty down to a fourth or fifth place finish.

The next three did not represent themselves in Ames, so their campaigns will chalk their poor finishes up to that factor and not how much they may or may not have appealed to the Republican regulars who attended. In that respect, I’m not surprised at the order in which they finished. However, with only 1/5 or so of the votes of the next person up, the much-ballyhooed campaign of Jon Huntsman may be in trouble because it’s not catching fire with the grassroots.

I’ve checked Thad McCotter’s website over the last hour, and aside from a Tweet congratulating “my colleagues” Bachmann and Paul on their finishes, there’s no indication of his future plans. But such a poor finish when he spoke for himself at the event doesn’t bode well for his chances. When your votes are outnumbered 138 to 1 by the winner’s, that’s a pretty big hill to climb.

So I suppose the silly season has begun in earnest. As I said yesterday, the only shoe which may need to drop on the GOP side is whether Sarah Palin will make a late entry into the race.

(On the Democratic side, there’s always a chance that Barack Obama may have a primary challenge from the left. If nothing else I’d just like to hear Obama say “I’ll whip his ass” like Jimmy Carter did regarding Ted Kennedy’s longshot bid. That might be the only ass our President whips since SEAL Team 6 isn’t available anymore.)

Once I get back to doing my candidate rankings I’ll add Perry in and see who I select. At the moment I’m backing the frontrunner but it’s all subject to change.

Santorum’s sacrifice

Two months ago, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum threw his hat into an already crowded ring for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. His announcement on D-Day invoked his “courage to fight for freedom.”

While Santorum isn’t the only conservative in the field, he does have a nice pedigree for soliciting Republican support. During his tenure in Congress, Santorum was known as a go-to guy for social conservatives. In that time Rick authored or sponsored bills to protect newborn infants, promote adult stem-cell research (as opposed to embryonic stem-cell research), and maintain workplace religious freedom.

Yet in order to stand out in a group of perhaps a half-dozen candidates of varying conservative credentials, Rick had to move beyond his social conservative base and come up with other issue arguments which appealed to both Tea Party regulars and Republican voters at large who may have recalled his ignominious 18-point defeat by current Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr. in 2006.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

The insanity may return

For those of you who thought having an Iowa caucus right after New Year’s Day (and a full ten months before the election) was ridiculous, well, we may just see this happen again.

In a Politico story from Friday, writer Emily Schultheis revealed that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is considering moving their primary – already scheduled prior to a date authorized by both parties (February 28, 2012) – to January 31. “It only makes sense that our state have its voice heard loud and clear,” said Brewer. I’ll bet 49 other governors feel the same way, Jan.

In turn, both Iowa (tentatively scheduled for February 6) and New Hampshire would be forced to move forward because Florida would likely jump forward from its January 31st date to stay ahead. Next thing you know, it’s a primary for Christmas – that’s the direction we’re headed. And it’s shameful.

I was hoping we’d see some common sense prevail after a 2008 Maryland primary that made our Congressman a lame duck 10 1/2 months before the end of his term (and just 13 1/2 after he’d won re-election.) And even February 12 was too late for Maryland to have a roster of picks to choose from since Mitt Romney withdrew from the race a week prior. Out of nine GOP candidates on the ballot only four were still active candidates at the time (John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Alan Keyes, and Ron Paul) while Democrats had just three of eight (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Gravel.) As for the rest, you may as well have tossed away your vote.

For years I’ve advocated a solution which does two things: makes smaller states more meaningful and compacts the race to a much shorter period. I think a June-to-November campaign is long enough, and here’s how it would work in reverse order, using a 2012 calendar as an example.

  • November 6: General Election.
  • September 4-7 and 10-13: Republican and Democratic conventions, respectively.
  • July 24: Sixth regional primary (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico). In 2016 they go first.
  • July 17: Fifth regional primary (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska). In 2016 they go sixth, in 2020 first.
  • July 10: Fourth regional primary (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi). They would be first in 2024.
  • July 3: Third regional primary (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee). They would be first in 2028.
  • June 26: Second regional primary (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia). We would be first in 2032, after we work our way down the line.
  • June 19: First regional primary (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine). They would cycle backwards to be first again in 2036.
  • June 12: New Hampshire primary. By the way, in order to stay first they have to close their primary so only previously registered Republican voters vote for the GOP nominee and Democratic voters for the Democrat.
  • June 5: Iowa caucus.

Doesn’t that seem like a more logical plan? It would probably save us all a ton of money because candidates would only have a shorter window in which to make ad buys and need only travel to certain small regions rather than all over the country. It also means that, aside from Iowa and New Hampshire, regions of the country would eventually get first crack at either a Republican or Democratic nominee (or both) every twenty years or so. And smaller states could get a little more love from candidates.

But I doubt my plan would be accepted by the powers that be. Instead, by the time the 2020 cycle comes around we’ll be voting in the 2018 General Election as the primary for 2020. Don’t think I’m kidding, either.

For President 2012: Entitlements

First of all, let me define the parameters of the discussion: to me, entitlements are Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, and the like. Anytime the government redistributes wealth that wasn’t earned by the recipient, that’s an entitlement – which means Social Security and Medicare do count once the amount originally contributed by the recipient is reached. Thirteen points are at stake this round.

Michele Bachmann has as her “number one priority” to repeal Obamacare, and decries the “entitlement mentality” many Americans have. She advocated “reform” before she got into the Presidential race, and what she said is a pretty good start. I’d like a faster pace myself, but she’s got the right ideas. Seven points.

He starts down the right road, but doesn’t go all the way down it. Moreover, he advocates more tinkering with the tax code and that conflicts with some of his other positions. Nevertheless, Herman Cain has the right ideas about who should be the safety net, though, so I’ll give him nine points.

I have a big problem with some of Newt Gingrich‘s so-called solutions because they begin with the argument that the current Medicare/Medicaid model just needs to be tweaked, with government remaining firmly in control. It’s the replacement of Obamacare he calls for rather than a repeal. I don’t buy it as “fundamental reform.” And this from the guy who got welfare reform passed? His record on Social Security is a start, but doesn’t go far enough. He gets only three points.

Jon Huntsman hints at the idea of using states as laboratories, calls Obamacare ‘top-heavy,’ and likes the Ryan Medicare plan. But I’m troubled that he’s ‘comfortable‘ with a mandate. I’m not sure where he stands on other entitlements, though, so I can only give him five points.

“Responsible entitlement reform” is Gary Johnson‘s mantra. He wants to “revise the terms” of entitlement programs as well. But I thought he’d be more bold than the tinkering around the edges he seems to be advocating – a better step is doing away with Medicare Part D. I’ll give him eight points.

Fred Karger thinks the size of entitlements needs to be on the table. But that’s about all the service he gives to it so I have no idea what else he wants to do. I’ll grant him one point.

There’s a lot to like about the approach that Thad McCotter takes, but he has the same basic flaw Newt Gingrich does – he maintains entitlement programs with some tweaking. If the current systems are “unsustainable” I don’t think making a few fixes (which could be wiped away at any time) is the answer. Only weaning people off dependence is. He’ll get five points.

I like one statement Roy Moore makes: “Churches and charitable organizations should be encouraged to help the needy and poor.” Now, if he has fidelity to the Constitution as he says he does I think he should follow through on eliminating entitlements altogether – please find for me the point in that document where Americans have a right to entitlements. I’m going to give him nine points.

You know, I thought Ron Paul would go farther in health care, But abolishing Social Security – that’s a winner in my book. Let’s hope he hasn’t changed his mind – he gets 12 points.

Tim Pawlenty made some aggressive health care reforms in Minnesota. He also worked to “slow down, limit, or negate Obamacare” while governor. He’s a little more tepid when it comes to Social Security, though, as he favors means testing and perhaps raising the retirement age. While he makes sense at a state level I’m not sure his ideas there will translate nationally. And as for Social Security, that’s not real reform, so I’ll only give him six points.

Like many others, Buddy Roemer will ‘reform’ items within the system rather than change a flawed paradigm. He likes the Ryan Plan, “but it’s not good enough.” I like his idea of the opting out of Medicare option, though, so I’ll bump him up seven points. Maybe we can get Medicare to ‘wither on the vine’ yet.

The problem with Mitt Romney is that this sounds reasonably good but it belies his record as governor of Massachusetts. And I don’t want to reform entitlements, but set ourselves on the path to eliminate them entirely. I’ll give him five points for saying nice things.

Once again, the vision of Rick Santorum is “reform” and not eliminate. He’s absolutely right when he says the entitlement ‘addiction’ is bad for the country, but doesn’t go far enough to end it. We need more like cold turkey for the younger generation – including myself. He gets seven points.

So it’s beginning to look like a two-person race. But notice that Ron Paul has come back into contention, Roy Moore is still hanging close, and Rick Santorum is still a dark horse. The rest are fading farther behind because they don’t have that vision thing about limited government or they wish to limit some of the wrong things.

  • Michele Bachmann – 53 points
  • Herman Cain – 50 points
  • Roy Moore – 46 points
  • Ron Paul – 42 points
  • Rick Santorum – 40 points
  • Thad McCotter – 38 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 33 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 26 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 26 points
  • Gary Johnson – 24 points
  • Mitt Romney – 23 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 6 points
  • Fred Karger – (-15) points

There’s one word for Barack Obama: Obamacare. That alone is worth the full thirteen point deduction.

“We will run ads talking about, in honest terms the end of entitlements.” That’s what Randall Terry said in January. “All entitlements should be phased out.” I can’t wait to see them, but for me that message is winner, winner, chicken dinner. He gets 12 points, but only because I haven’t seen the actual plan. It puts him ahead of a couple GOP stalwarts; then again, he’s running as a Democrat only to be in Obama’s primary. I bet he’d be in decent shape if he were more forthcoming.

  • Randall Terry – 11 points
  • Barack Obama – (-60) points

We move next to trade and job creation. Most Republicans should score well, but this has some potential to shake up the top contenders – particularly when 14 points are at stake and five players are within that margin (not counting negative totals.)

Gary Johnson: Family Leader Pledge ‘offensive’

It’s already been signed by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, but don’t look for Gary Johnson to sign the Family Leader Pledge anytime soon. Instead, Johnson has placed up a YouTube ad pleading that ‘tolerance is American’:

Now, I know both Gary and I fall on the libertarian side of the GOP, but in reading the Pledge myself I only have objection to one aspect – I don’t believe we need a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It’s a matter properly and best left to the states to determine. (Having said that, I think the people in New York should strive to overturn their recently passed same-sex marriage law by whatever means they can; alas, it may come down to ejecting those who supported it in their legislature when their re-election comes up. The same goes for other jurisdictions which have passed similar ill-considered laws.)

Another controversy within the Pledge comes from its reference to slavery; as an original version of the document noted:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA‟s first African-American President.

Yet in looking at the cited research I couldn’t locate that particular tidbit spelled out – it’s more likely they extrapolated data from the late 19th century and assumed the rate of black two-parent families was similarly high in the decades prior to the War Between the States. My take is that the Family Leader group was trying to make a quite valid point but got fast and loose with the facts. (A later version of the Pledge has rightly pulled the remark.)

The controversy is unfortunate because there is a lot to like about the FLP, in particular its call for “downsizing government and the enormous burden upon American families of the USA‟s $14.3 trillion public debt, its $77 trillion in unfunded liabilities, its $1.5 trillion federal deficit, and its $3.5 trillion federal budget.” That should be right up Johnson’s alley, as it should for any Republican seeking the highest office in the land.

But perhaps what bothers me most about Gary’s stand is his embrace of “tolerance,” since that can be defined in any number of ways. Should the government be in our bedrooms? Of course not. A man’s home is his castle and what he does there shouldn’t be the subject of constant examination by government snoops. But for too long we’ve been ‘tolerant’ of radical Islam and look what that brought us. There are groups and people out there who take advantage of our openness and generosity, so we need to be aware of that disturbing truth. A blanket definition one way or the other doesn’t serve us well.

Thus, you can see in part why Gary is among the also-rans in my Presidential decision-making; meanwhile, Bachmann and Santorum are near the top. I don’t think legislating morality is the answer, but being too permissive creates its own set of problems as well. Why not have a straight-arrow conservative (as opposed to a so-called “compassionate” one) in the White House?

Gary Johnson has a lot of good attributes, but I think he should moderate his strident tone on this one. Why violate the Eleventh Commandment needlessly?

For President 2012: Energy independence

Now the party of “drill, baby, drill” should make this a slam dunk for 12 points. But you may be surprised to see how this plays out.

She does a nice job of stating the problem, but Michele Bachmann would do well to expand her palette of solutions. Indeed, government needs to get out of the way but maybe I’d like a little more. Her voting record is solid, though, so I’ll give her ten points.

Herman Cain seems to be an advocate for free-market solutions, and that’s precisely what we need. Key among his statements is that private industry needs to take the lead on alternative energy, which shows a good understanding of government’s role. Again, I’d like a little more specifics on the solution, which keeps Cain from hitting all twelve points – he gets eleven.

Newt Gingrich and his “American Energy Plan” is solid, except for one flaw: he wants to use oil and gas royalties to “finance cleaner energy research.” While I like the introduction of “loser pays” on environmental lawsuits into the discussion, the idea that we should give research grants out like candy and pick winners and losers via government rubs me the wrong way. But because of his commercial with Nancy Pelosi, he gets seven points.

Until we put a value on carbon, we’re never going to be able to get serious with dealing with climate change longer term.” Uh, no, Jon Huntsman. First of all, mankind has little to do with climate change and second of all carbon credits are just a scam for wealth redistribution. If you really believe this – and past history suggests you do – then you’re not the man for the job. I’m taking off all 12 points.

Gary Johnson has a mixed bag, as he placed his imprimatur on items which would suggest he’s a believer in government incentives for “green” energy but also Tweeted his opinions that we should drill in ANWR and can help our energy cause by drilling domestically. I’ll give him five points.

What Fred Karger doesn’t seem to understand is that forced conservation of energy is counterproductive to a growing economy. Certainly looking for ways to get more done with less energy usage is a good thing, but mandating reductions isn’t practical for growth. If someone needs to explore alternative energy, let it be the private sector (see Herman Cain above.) He loses another six points.

I suppose my biggest question for Thad McCotter is how do we “responsibly transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy” when those methods are nowhere near ready for prime time? Well, he wants to use the tried-and-true big government trick of tax credits and deductions, which rubs me the wrong way. Add in a vote for “Cash for Clunkers” and I think he may have been seduced by Washington’s ways on this issue. He gets just five points, a big disappointment.

“We need independence from foreign oil by freeing access to our own natural resources and developing other sources such as nuclear, solar, wind, and fossil fuels. Coal and oil supplies should be developed. Off-shore drilling should be increased but subject to reasonable regulations.” That’s the extent of Roy Moore‘s views on energy. It’s the problem with having no legislative record to back things up – I have no definition of things like “reasonable regulation.” And I’m troubled that he equates unproven pieces of the puzzle like solar and wind with items we use now. So I can only give him five points as well.

Like Gingrich above, Ron Paul has an energy policy I can agree with aside from one glaring exception. In Paul’s case, it’s those tax credits for purchase and production of alternative energy technologies, which belie the case he states that, “(t)he free market – not government – is the solution to America’s energy needs.” And his voting record is spotty because Ron skipped a lot of key votes. But since the rest of the ideas are sound and he didn’t make a commercial with San Fran Nan, I’ll give him nine points.

Tim Pawlenty doesn’t address energy independence on his issues page, and perhaps this is why. Maybe he thought it necessary to address the issue to keep his job in a liberal-leaning state, but then he doubled down and doomed Minnesota ratepayers by adopting a 25% renewable energy portfolio (even more than Maryland’s and you see where our rates are headed.) I don’t know if his recent change of heart is sincere, so I’m taking off five points.

“No more subsidies.” That’s at the heart of Buddy Roemer‘s energy remarks. And while it sounds like he’s foursquare for more drilling (after all, he comes from an oil state) I worry about the tariff on Middle Eastern oil he’s proposing because that sets a bad precedent. So I’m only giving him three points.

Mitt Romney shrewdly addresses energy independence in his “job creation” category. But terms like “government must be a partner,” “facilitate,” and “address market failures” don’t convince he wants a conservative, small-government solution. We see what kind of “partner” government has become, and it’s not government’s job to interfere with the market. And believing climate change is caused by mankind is a nonstarter. I’m deducting three points.

Rick Santorum, like Romney, sees energy independence as a job creation issue. But he favors the “all of the above” approach generally held by Republicans and correctly states we should “put aside our dreams of ‘green jobs.’” The voting record isn’t bad, although I do object to one vote in particular. So I’ll grant him seven points.

Now I’m past the halfway point, as I’ve awarded 55 points so far. With entitlement, job creation, and taxation among my remaining issues it’s doubtful that many of the bottomfeeders have a shot – I figure my endorsee is likely at or above the 30 point mark right now. Looks like a race between Bachmann and Cain, but we’ll see.

  • Michele Bachmann – 46 points
  • Herman Cain – 41 points
  • Roy Moore – 37 points
  • Thad McCotter – 33 points
  • Rick Santorum – 33 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 30 points
  • Ron Paul – 30 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 20 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 19 points
  • Mitt Romney – 18 points
  • Gary Johnson – 16 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 1 point
  • Fred Karger – (-16) points

Needless to say, Barack Obama‘s energy record is miserable. Even when he showed a few cajones and loosened oil drilling regulations, he relented after a once-in-a-lifetime accident. Of course, he loses all twelve points.

Randall Terry is, once again, silent on the issue. The problem with his approach is that Democrats who don’t like Obama may just stay home rather than vote for him as a message.

  • Randall Terry – (-1) point
  • Barack Obama – (-47) points

The next category should be interesting because there are a plethora of views on entitlements, so that may spread the field out a little bit more – and perhaps trip up a leading contender.

For President 2012: Immigration

Here we should start separating the men from the boys (or the women from the girls, to be fair.) Eleven points are at stake and as most know I’m pretty much a hardliner on the subject.

She has the right idea about securing the borders on her campaign site, but Michele Bachmann goes no further as to how. Enforcement of existing law would be a good start, though. The anti-immigration group Numbers USA ranks her highest among GOP candidates, and while I don’t completely agree with their overall stance on the issue it’s a good indicator she’ll do what’s right for Americans. Ten points.

Similarly, Herman Cain promises to “secure our borders, enforce our laws, and promote the existing path to citizenship.” That’s all well and good, but more detail would be good. Helping his cause is that he stood foursquare against amnesty. I think he’ll get nine points.

It’s telling that, aside from the usual mantra of “secure our borders,” Newt Gingrich doesn’t talk about immigration on his campaign site. Maybe it’s because he’s pandering to the so-called Latino vote? I can only give him two points, and that’s in part credit for some past votes. He may think differently now.

Normally I’m a pretty good state’s rights guy, but should we push border security onto the states as Jon Huntsman advocates? The problem with that is California’s version of a “secure” border may not be as tight as Arizona’s. Nor does he address what to do with the illegals who are here; perhaps because he supports the DREAM Act. I’m deducting three points.

I think Gary Johnson‘s immigration approach is naïve, and the idea of any sort of grace period for illegal immigrants rubs me the wrong way. What saves him are some of his ideas about legalizing immigration eventually, such as “one strike, you’re out” – problem is too many already have that strike against them. I’ll call it a wash and keep his point total where it is.

Fred Karger joins the chorus calling for “greatly improved border security” but also advocates “a path to citizenship for immigrants already living in the country.” Smells like amnesty to me, so it’s back in the hole again as I take three points off.

Couched in somewhat soothing language, the approach Thad McCotter takes seems to be pretty sensible. My biggest objection is his caution not to “stigmatize” illegal immigrants – why not? They are flouting the law. His voting record assuages me somewhat, but I’m afraid he may get squishy when push comes to shove. So I’m only giving him five points.

Roy Moore has a somewhat similar view to that of Jon Huntsman in that he would “allow” states to take the lead in border security. But he has a moral position on the issue as well, and I think he would be just fine on the issue because I take it he has a security “floor” in mind which states can exceed if they wish. I’ll give him seven points.

At last, Ron Paul has a decent issues page which includes immigration. And it’s odd because Numbers USA gives him poor marks yet what he says on his page makes some sense, and it’s borne out by his voting record. So I’ll give him six points.

It’s odd that Tim Pawlenty doesn’t devote space to his stance on immigration, particularly when it’s reasonably good per the standards of Numbers USA. Just based on what they say and not having a lot to go on, I think I can safely give him six points.

This video gives a pretty good summary of Buddy Roemer‘s viewpoint. There’s a lot to like, although it’s still a bit short on specifics. He gives the Chamber of Commerce some necessary criticism as well. I think six points is fair.

While Mitt Romney doesn’t address the issue directly on his website, this “unofficial” website makes him look downright hawkish. It’s mainly based on his 2008 statements, but I don’t think he’s flipped much on this. It’s his strongest area so far, and he’ll get nine points.

Rick Santorum also ignores the issue on his website, but his impassioned plea against amnesty in 2006 should count for something. I’ll count it as five points.

As predicted, the field is beginning to spread out. While it’s not impossible for someone outside the top six or so to catch up it’s starting to look like I’m going against conventional wisdom. So what else is new?

  • Michele Bachmann – 36 points
  • Roy Moore – 32 points
  • Herman Cain – 30 points
  • Thad McCotter – 28 points
  • Rick Santorum – 26 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 25 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 23 points
  • Ron Paul – 21 points
  • Mitt Romney – 21 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 16 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 13 points
  • Gary Johnson – 11 points
  • Fred Karger – (-10) points

Meanwhile, on the other side:

While he’s supposedly cracked down on the worst illegal immigrants, Barack Obama is trying to sneak the DREAM Act through and has done little to secure the borders. He loses another seven points.

Meanwhile, the one-note samba that is Randall Terry says nothing about immigration.

  • Randall Terry – (-1) points
  • Barack Obama – (-35) points

A sound Congressional map

Come this fall, the Maryland General Assembly will take a little time from figuring out devious ways to raise our taxes and usurp a little more of our freedom to finalize Congressional district lines for next year’s elections.

But someone with the Maryland Republican Party came up with a “good government map” which may be the most logical dissection of the state we’ll see in this round. The beauty of it is how well it matches up with existing geographic lines. For example, the First District as the Republicans see it would consist of 10 full counties and just a tiny slice of Anne Arundel County. And instead of slicing our capital county into several districts, the Republican plan would put all but the small section destined for the First District into the Third District. Seventeen of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City would be in just one Congressional district, while no county would be in more than three (Baltimore County would be split mostly between the Second and Sixth Districts, with a few areas close by Baltimore City placed into its Seventh District.)

An interesting sidebar for local voters (and something of a surprise coming from a GOP plan) is the fact that Andy Harris would no longer live in the district he represents – the Baltimore County resident would be close by the line separating the Second and Sixth Districts. But the map would also probably place Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes in the same Second District as well as pairing Donna Edwards and Steny Hoyer in the Fifth, so the GOP plan is likely DOA in the General Assembly. Still, the way the Republicans drew the map makes a lot of sense because districts are compact and geographically sound – if they place two incumbent Democrats in the same district, that’s the breaks. I guarantee you the Democrats who run the process will slice and dice the state willy-nilly to create as much havoc among Republicans as possible – gerrymandering with a capital G.

Apparently the state’s residents will get a chance to have their say as well, so now may be the time to come up with a good, sound plan. I think the GOP has succeeded on that count.

For President 2012: Long War and veterans affairs

We move on to a category that four years ago was foremost in mind, but has fallen off the radar since. In part that’s because we were successful, but the remainder is a concerted effort by the press to either not make Barack Obama look bad for following on George W. Bush’s policies or having to admit Bush was right.

For example, it may not be in our self-interest to continue in Afghanistan – but I wouldn’t want to make it public knowledge we were leaving, either. That’s the issue I have with some candidates.

Most of this category deals with the Long War, which is a phrase I’ve borrowed from my friends at the Patriot Post to describe our battle with radical Islam. But a little bit has to do with veterans’ affairs. Nine points are at stake in this section.

Having just updated her website, I like what Michele Bachmann has to say about national security. And while veterans groups gripe about this proposal, it makes sense to avoid double-dipping, at least for the time being. I’m giving eight of nine points.

Herman Cain is a little less specific on the issue, but sounds a good tone on Afghanistan. Still, I can’t give him more than six of nine points.

Generally, Newt Gingrich has a pretty good idea of what we need to enhance our national security and win the Long War, so I’m giving him eight points as well.

I’m not quite sure where Jon Huntsman wants to go in the Long War or with national security in general. One problem is that he wants to cut Afghan troops faster than even Obama would. But he’s correct on Libya so I’ll grant him two points.

This subject in particular is where I differ from Gary Johnson. While I do agree we should bring our troops home from certain areas, I think he’s quite Polyannish on the usage of military alliances (look what NATO and the UN drag us into) and I disagree that “soft power” works with our enemies – that’s what President Obama is trying. He is docked five points.

Fred Karger is an enigma on foreign policy – he wants out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but thinks we should be in Libya! Yet “Israel…must be defended at all costs.” That saves him from being docked even more. I’ll take off five points as well since he’s very, very squishy on the subject.

A strong advocate of American exceptionalism and not “leading from behind,” Thad McCotter says on his campaign site, “We must and will win an unconditional victory in the war of freedom against terrorism.” All nine points for Thad.

There are parts I like about Roy Moore and his philosophy and others I’m not so sure of. He wants a missile defense system (good) and more funding for the military (probably good, but I don’t think they need a blank check.) He believes “we should not be entangled in foreign wars merely at the whim and caprice of any President.” (I can buy that.) But to say “we must treat sovereign nations as we would want to be treated” doesn’t leave a lot of room for hammering them when needed. Maybe I’m misunderstanding his intent, but I have to grade him a step down from some others. Seven points.

Let me say straight out that I don’t agree with Ron Paul and his isolationism. But he does have some redeeming qualities that fall under the category of veterans’ affairs, so I’ll be kinder to him than I was Gary Johnson and only dock Ron three points.

Tim Pawlenty seems to have a pretty good understanding of our role in the world, with one exception: he supports our being in Libya and I see no national security interest in that civil war. So I’ll give him just three points.

Buddy Roemer is half-right on Libya, but seems to have a pretty good train of thought on the Long War in general. It’s perhaps his strongest issue to date. He gets six points.

Mitt Romney seems to tie this issue together as a general foreign policy platform. But he’s certainly wavering on Afghanistan, and that worries me. I think he only deserves three points.

While it’s not very detailed in scope, the policy page of, and this statement by Rick Santorum would lead me to believe he’d make the right decisions on the Long War. I grant him seven points.

The GOP race is beginning to take shape, and it doesn’t look much like I’m backing an ‘establishment’ candidate. The isolationists fell well back here.

  • Michele Bachmann – 26 points
  • Roy Moore – 25 points
  • Thad McCotter – 23 points
  • Herman Cain – 21 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 21 points
  • Rick Santorum – 21 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 19 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 16 points
  • Ron Paul – 15 points
  • Mitt Romney – 12 points
  • Gary Johnson – 11 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 10 points
  • Fred Karger – (-7) points

Now the Democrats. Needless to say, Barack Obama has only one asset going for him: he didn’t back up his milquetoast rhetoric with action, choosing instead to maintain many of President Bush’s policies. He’s only losing five points on this front.

Believe it or not, I found this interview where Randall Terry touches on foreign policy. (It’s several years old, though.) But I’m not sure he wouldn’t be too interventionist and may discount the threat of radical Islam. He also babbles a bit about “oil policy” here. So I’m dropping him two points.

  • Randall Terry, (-1) point
  • Barack Obama, (-28) points

My next look at the candidates will involve immigration and we’ll break into double digits as eleven points are at stake. It’s sure to raise the blood pressure of my two regular illegal immigration apologists as well.

Update: With the entry of Rep. Thaddeaus McCotter of Michigan into the race, I’ll have to catch him up on previous parts.

Petition drive hits six figures

Thanks to a number of hard-working and concerned Marylanders, the petition drive to overturn SB167 and deny illegal immigrants in-state tuition crossed the 100,000 signature barrier yesterday. With over 60,000 turned in by the initial May 31 deadline and around 47,000 ruled valid, bill supporters like CASA de Maryland, the ACLU, and other advocates for illegal immigrants will likely need a court ruling or some travesty of justice to prevent the referendum from occurring in November, 2012.

Maryland taxpayers already earned a one-month reprieve from the bill because the referendum had a chance of being held based on signatures already collected.

Still, there’s a long way to go in defeating this ill-considered bill. Look for a protracted court battle over the prefilled forms (which could eventually enable many more laws to go to referendum if a challenge to this method is denied) and sometime next year I’m sure we’ll get the push polling to make it appear public sentiment is against the bill. It’s most likely that supporters of overturning the bill at the ballot box will be outspent many times over by proponents during next year’s campaign season, and the fight will bring national interest.

This may be more than a sidebar to next year’s Presidential election, and liberals don’t like it when their authority is challenged. They tend to forget the people are supposed to have the power, not the government.