For President 2012: Entitlements

July 19, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

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.)

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

For President 2012: Long War and veterans affairs

July 2, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

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.

For President 2012: Second Amendment and education

June 26, 2011 · Posted in Campaign 2012 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

I continue my look at the 2012 race with the second of my two multi-subject posts, beginning with a look at how they stand on Second Amendment rights.

Not every candidate addresses this subject directly, but it’s rather easy to find a wealth of information on this particular stance.

On Second Amendment issues, Michele Bachmann gets high marks from both of the two main gun lobbying groups (Gun Owners of America and National Rifle Association) and applauded recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the Second Amendment. She gets the seven points.

Herman Cain says he’s in favor of the Second Amendment, but a recent interview made people wonder if he was placing the issue too far into the lap of the states. I’m not quite sure what he means either, so I’m only going to give him four points. I think he’s on the right side, but I certainly don’t want a liberal state like Maryland overriding the clear language and intent of the Second Amendment.

“It’s not in defense of hunting, it’s not in defense of target shooting or collecting. The Second Amendment is defense of freedom from the state.” So said Newt Gingrich, and he tended to vote that way while in Congress. But there is something in this piece that gives me pause, so I’m only giving Newt six of seven points.

As governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman had a good Second Amendment record, like this pair of bills. He gets all seven points.

If you watch this video at about the 21-minute mark, you’ll see that Gary Johnson has a broad view of the Second Amendment. But this line in Slate is the clincher: “I don’t believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None.” I believe this will get him a bunch of points. Seven.

I honestly can’t find where Fred Karger stands on the issue, so he missed what’s pretty much been a layup so far.

Considering the guy plays in a band called The Second Amendments and has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, I think Thad McCotter should get all seven points. Don’t you?

Like Newt Gingrich, this short treatise from Roy Moore shows he gets why there’s a Second Amendment. Seven points.

I would have expected this from Ron Paul – he votes the right way and gets high GOA marks (an A+) so he’ll get seven points.

Tim Pawlenty doesn’t miss this opportunity as he’s racked up a solid record in Minnesota on gun issues. He gets the seven points as well.

I have the feeling I’m missing something, but the limited amount I can find on Buddy Roemer would make me guess he won’t trifle with the Second Amendment. Two points seems fair enough.

The same piece which was critical of Gingrich really questioned Mitt Romney‘s record. Because it’s somewhat mixed I can only give him four points.

With perhaps one or two exceptions, Rick Santorum has a good gun record so I’ll give him six points.

Updating the GOP standings – anyone who didn’t get six or seven points missed a golden opportunity here. Seven candidates are in the lead pack at the moment.

  • Tim Pawlenty, 14 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 13 points
  • Michele Bachmann, 12 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 12 points
  • Thad McCotter, 12 points
  • Roy Moore, 12 points
  • Ron Paul, 12 points
  • Rick Santorum, 12 points
  • Herman Cain, 8 points
  • Gary Johnson, 8 points
  • Mitt Romney, 7 points
  • Buddy Roemer, 3 points
  • Fred Karger, (-3) points

As for Democrats, Barack Obama is definitely not pro-Second Amendment, so he’s docked the seven points.

Unsurprisingly, Randall Terry has no stated position.

  • Randall Terry, 0 points
  • Barack Obama, (-15) points

Now I turn my attention to education. In case you’re wondering, my key part of the issue is eliminating the Department of Education because it doesn’t educate anyone.

Several candidates address this directly, and this will likely begin to start separating the field.

Michele Bachmann doesn’t have her website up yet, but I can find her voting record on the issue. While she wants to abolish the Department of Education, I found a little bit of fault with some of her votes. I’m giving her six of eight points.

While Herman Cain wants to “unbundle” the federal government from education and has a number of valid ideas about accountability and school choice, the one thing holding him back is not openly advocating for the elimination of the Department of Education – that’s a necessary component in my book. Seven points.

Newt Gingrich touches on education in a minor way on his website, but the person who now talks about abolishing the Department of Education voted for its very creation. And in 2009 he was only too happy to join Al Sharpton on a tour to “highlight the Obama administration’s efforts to reform public education.” I think he’d like to continue the federal framework which needs to be abolished, and that’s not a solution I believe in. I’m giving him no points because I don’t think he stands with me on this.

Jon Huntsman has a mixed record on education, supporting school vouchers but not advocating for less federal involvement otherwise. I’m not convinced he’d be a leader on this issue so I’m giving him only two points.

Helping his cause immensely with me, not only does Gary Johnson have the right ideas on the educational issue but he explains it very well. He gets the full eight points.

Fred Karger 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. One point.

It seems to me that Thad McCotter doesn’t mind federal involvement in education, whereas I do. He doesn’t go overly far, but doesn’t reverse the trend either. I think he only gets two points here.

Roy Moore states on his issue page that, “the federal government should not hamper the education systems of various states, as there is no authority for federal involvement under the Constitution. Competition between the states and freedom of various educational structures should be available to parents who are charged with the responsibility to teach their children. Charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, home schooling, Christian schools, and technical training should be encouraged.” The only part I don’t like is the part about tax credits, since I think controlling behavior through the tax code is a no-no as a permanent solution. So I’ll give him six points.

By and large Ron Paul has a similar view to Roy Moore’s, wishing the federal government out of the educational realm but supporting tax credits for Christian schooling. So he gets the same six points.

The example of Tim Pawlenty as governor is relatively good – among other things, Minnesota enacted “pay for performance,” but I think he’s going to seek the same old “top-down” approach to education. Charter states? What if your state is cluelessly going to follow the federal model? I think he’s only going to get two points on this issue.

As governor, Buddy Roemer linked teacher pay to performance and enhanced accountability standards. But that’s all I know and he hasn’t really touched on the subject yet in his one-man debates. So I can only give him one point.

While Mitt Romney supports school choice and home schooling, he’s backed away from supporting the demise of the Department of Education after once supporting its elimination. Supposedly it dampens the influence of the teachers’ unions, but I find that laughable. I can only give Mitt two points.

He may be coming around to sell himself to conservatives, but Rick Santorum‘s recent call to eliminate the Department of Education comes on the heels of a voting record too enamored with federal control. He only gets two points for his efforts.

As I predicted, this certainly has shaken up the standings as some of the “establishment” candidates fall a little behind the lead pack. This also vaulted Gary Johnson into my race. Yet most candidates are hanging around within five points of the top.

  • Michele Bachmann, 18 points
  • Roy Moore, 18 points
  • Ron Paul, 18 points
  • Gary Johnson, 16 points
  • Tim Pawlenty, 16 points
  • Herman Cain, 15 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 14 points
  • Thad McCotter, 14 points
  • Rick Santorum, 14 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 13 points
  • Mitt Romney, 9 points
  • Buddy Roemer, 4 points
  • Fred Karger, (-2) points

Of course, Democrat Barack Obama is foursquare behind more federal control and pulled the rug out from under his own District of Columbia students, so he’s out another eight points.

While the other Democrat, Randall Terry, doesn’t explicitly state his position, the fact he campaigns at a homeschooler rally might mean something. Hey, I’ll give him one point.

  • Randall Terry, 1 point
  • Barack Obama, (-23) points

My next subject is one which has diminished somewhat in the overall scheme of things, but still remains rather important: the Long War and veterans affairs. I admit, though, my view on the subject has changed a bit since the last time around.

With nine points at stake, a candidate can help his or her cause immensely with the right viewpoint.

For President 2012: Campaign finance/election and property rights

Today I begin the process of selecting my personal favorite Presidential candidate, not based on personalities or glitzy campaign promises, but on issues. As I pointed out last month, I have a system to score candidates based on their positions on several topics key to me.

The first two topics are relatively obscure, and the candidates haven’t devoted a lot of time to them. This made it harder to get a good read on the situation; luckily if I’m completely misreading a position it’s only a few points gained or lost. For the most part, I’m betting I have a crop of three to four hopefuls who will stand out above the rest anyway.

Note I haven’t included a few candidates who may yet get into the game. I’m doing the originals as Word files so I can keep them close for reference in the future. And I’m doing both Republicans and Democrats, so let’s start with campaign finance reform and election law.

Michele Bachmann has a limited voting record and comments on the issue, but her positions are fine so I’ll kick her off with one point of three.

With Herman Cain noting in Politico that “civil rights groups encourage voter fraud by opposing voter identification bills…all they’re trying to do is protect the voter fraud they know is going on,” he’s got the right idea. I’m giving him all three points.

While serving in the House, Newt Gingrich had a solid voting record on campaign finance so I’m giving him two points. I don’t think his positions have softened, but haven’t heard the bold sort of statement that Cain made out of him.

Jon Huntsman signed a decent voter-ID law as governor of Utah, so that’s a step in the right direction. But he also signed a bill allowing online voter registration, which wiped out some of that goodwill. Some things are too important to do online. So he gets just one point.

I haven’t been able to discern where Gary Johnson would stand on this issue, so no points for him.

Interestingly enough, Fred Karger 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.

Thad McCotter voted for voter ID on the federal level, but also voted for restricting 527s as well. I’ll give him two of three points.

Roy Moore hasn’t stated a public position on any of these issues, so I can’t give him points either.

Similarly to Gingrich, Ron Paul has made all the right votes on campaign finance and has maintained his position throughout. Since he’s currently serving in Congress, I’m giving him three points.

He got good marks from the Club for Growth on campaign finance as Governor of Minnesota, so Tim Pawlenty gets a good mark from me as well. I’m giving him 2 points.

Buddy Roemer has a key point right on his current home page: “(W)e will talk about a lot of issues in this campaign. But we will start by tackling special interest money that impacts all the rest.” Roemer claims he won’t take any contribution greater than $100 nor will he take PAC money.

It’s a very populist position to take, but it’s the wrong one. I equate money with speech, and placing an artificial restriction on contributions is a limit on speech in my eyes. (It’s also suicidal when you figure Barack Obama to raise $1 billion from special interests.) I’m deducting two points only because he’s consistent with this stance since his days in Congress.

Apparently Mitt Romney has had a change of heart on the campaign finance issue. While he’s come around to the right side, I don’t know how sincere he is on the subject so I’ll not give him any points.

Rick Santorum made mostly correct votes on this subject while in the Senate, and has a long enough body of work that I’m comfortable giving him two points.

Now for the Democrats:

Barack Obama, of course, disagreed with the Citizens United decision and backed the DISCLOSE Act, plus his campaign came out strongly bashing voter ID – three bad moves and a loss of thee points.

On the other hand, Randall Terry doesn’t stake out a position on the issue, so no points.

In the very early stages we have a close race. On the Republican side:

  • Herman Cain, 3 points
  • Ron Paul, 3 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 2 points
  • Thad McCotter, 2 points
  • Tim Pawlenty, 2 points
  • Rick Santorum, 2 points
  • Michele Bachmann, 1 point
  • Jon Huntsman, 1 point
  • Gary Johnson, 0 points
  • Roy Moore, 0 points
  • Mitt Romney, 0 points
  • Buddy Roemer, (-2) points
  • Fred Karger, (-3) points

Democrats:

  • Randall Terry, 0 points
  • Barack Obama, (-3) points

Now I turn to private property rights. Again, this was sort of tough because most candidates haven’t addressed this as directly as I’d like.

Let’s begin with Michele Bachmann, who cited Fifth Amendment rights in castigating the BP settlement. I think she knows government’s place, so I’m giving her four of five points.

Herman Cain hasn’t said much on the subject yet, and aside from a brief mention of property seizure portions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill on his issues page, there’s not much to go on. I’ll give him one point.

Overturning the Kelo decision would be a good start on Newt Gingrich‘s agenda, and I can give him all five points for that and defending property rights while in Congress.

Jon Huntsman was ahead of the curve on Kelo and advocated for American companies regarding intellectual property rights while Ambassador to China. My only knock is whether he was leading or following in his capacity, so I’ll give him four points.

I would imagine Gary Johnson would oppose the Kelo decision, but when he talks about “civil liberties” he doesn’t speak to private property rights. I’ll grant him one point since he talks about other civil liberties that most GOP candidates don’t.

It doesn’t appear Fred Karger has delved into property rights issues, so no points for him.

Thad McCotter has a reasonable record on property rights by the look of things, so I’ll give him three points of five.

While it was hinted in this article he penned that Roy Moore was against the Kelo decision, the fact that he stood up for private property rights at a rally shows me he’s likely on the right side. Five points.

Ron Paul is an odd case. His voting record would suggest he supports private property rights, but in looking up Gary Johnson I saw that Paul supported the Kelo decision. I can only give him two points based on voting record.

Tim Pawlenty seemed to have an eye toward protecting property rights when he signed legislation like this and this. He’ll earn the five points.

This video explains how Buddy Roemer feels about “imminent” (sic) domain. I essentially like what he says, but that 1% and blowing the spelling will lose him two points of the five. Give him three.

Mitt Romney “believes the Kelo property rights case was wrongly decided.” He’s right, but Massachusetts still ranks among the worst states for eminent domain abuse. So I’ll only give him three points.

Back in 2005 Rick Santorum termed the Kelo decision as “undermining people’s fundamental rights to property.” I think he gets it, so I’ll give him the five points.

Among the two Democrats, Barack Obama made his most egregious assault on property rights when he placed unions ahead of bondholders in the auto bailout. That offense gets him docked five points.

On the other hand, Randall Terry is winning the Democratic side by not having a position. No points.

Updating the standings shows we have a close race among a number of contenders.

  • Newt Gingrich, 7 points
  • Tim Pawlenty, 7 points
  • Rick Santorum, 7 points
  • Michele Bachmann, 5 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 5 points
  • Thad McCotter, 5 points
  • Roy Moore, 5 points
  • Ron Paul, 5 points
  • Herman Cain, 4 points
  • Mitt Romney, 3 points
  • Gary Johnson, 1 point
  • Buddy Roemer, 1 point
  • Fred Karger, (-3) points

Democrats:

  • Randall Terry, 0 points
  • Barack Obama, (-8) points

Can Barack Obama get to (-100)? He just might. But I think it’s shaping up to be an interesting race between as many as 8 candidates for the top spot, and you never know. Two sections in last time I had Duncan Hunter leading, Mike Huckabee second, and John McCain third (they finished first, fourth, and tenth, respectively, in a 10-man field.)

The next time I’ll probably tackle two subjects again before going to individual posts for the remainder as they have more priority. So next up is Second Amendment rights and education, for seven and eight points respectively. Once that’s done, 23 of 100 points will be decided.

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    Maryland General Assembly (local)

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    Addie Eckardt (R)
    Chris Robinson (D)

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    Johnny Mautz (R)
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    Keasha Haythe (D)

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    Mike McDermott (R)

    Jim Mathias (D)

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    Charles Otto (R)
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    Carl Anderton, Jr. (R)

    Norm Conway (D)

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    Mary Beth Carozza. (R)

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