If you don't remember former Senator Fred Thompson (R. Tenn), he's currently an actor on Law & Order and such popular movies as The Hunt for Red October. But there's more than just acting to draw the parallels between him and the last actor Republican who ran for president, Ronald Reagan. If you have the change be sure to read the whole commentary by John Fund regarding Thompson's possible run for president in 2008.
Among his strengths:
Political appeal across the red-blue divide: "I won every one of my races by more than 20 points in a state Clinton carried twice."
Campaign Finance: He seems to have grown wiser:
Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn't worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. "I'm not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn't just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately."
Exactly. Trying to stop money in politics is like trying to stop water from running downhill. It's going to find a new path to carve out, no matter how much one attempts to divert it. The answer - which our founders understood (even George Washington took campaign donations) - is to have no limits but report everything.
Thompson seems to be a pretty strict Federalist, even when it means undercutting Republican favorites like tort reform.
On National Security and Intelligence:
Mr. Thompson says that while a senator he was long concerned with U.S. intelligence failures. "The CIA has better politicians than it has spies," he says, referring to the internecine turf wars that have been a feature of the Bush administration.
A key problem, Mr. Thompson notes, is a general lack of accountability in government, where no one pays any price for failure. When asked about President Bush's awarding the Medal of Freedom to outgoing CIA Director George Tenet after U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq became apparent, he shakes his head: "I just didn't understand that."
On Iraq, he admits "we are left with nothing but bad choices." However, he says the "worst choice" would be to have Osama bin Laden proven right when he predicted America wouldn't have the stomach for a tough fight. The costs of Iraq have been high, but they could be even higher "if we have another stain on America like that infamous scene from Saigon 1975 in which our helicopters took off leaving those who supported us grabbing at the landing skids."
He urges continued pressure on Iran, which he says has grave domestic problems. "Iran may fall of its own weight, and we can help that by offering vocal support to dissident groups and making effective use of the airwaves to reach its people."
"The phony static accounting the government uses has obscured just how successful the 2003 tax cuts have been in boosting the economy," he says. "Lower marginal tax rates have proven to be a key to prosperity now by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush. It's time millionaires serving in the Senate learned not to overly tax other people trying to get wealthy."
Static accounting means that one doesn't figure in how retained revenues affect behavior in purchasing and investment, further growing the economy. No business in America would ever factor their costs without estimating how their purchases would improve efficiency or revenues, yet that's exactly how Uncle Sam runs its business. A fact never mentioned by our media or tax cutting opponents is that every time we've cut taxes the tax revenues (the money the government takes in) has actually increased, not decreased as the doomsayers predicted.
Thompson is absolutely accurate in noting the historical fact that Kennedy, Reagan and Bush each grew the economy after initiating a marginal tax decrease. But he forgot another one: Calvin Coolidge - his tax cuts increased government tax revenues by 61 percent from 1921 to 1927.
All in all, Thompson thus far seems to be the only conservative amongst the Republicans.
Here's Fred Thompson giving some much needed common sense to the climate change issue by ridiculing Al Gore's "the planet has a fever" comment:
Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto.
NASA says the Martian South Pole’s “ice cap” has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter’s caught the same cold, because it’s warming up too, like Pluto.
This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle.
Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our SOLAR system have in common. Hmmmm. SOLAR system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn’t even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There’s a consensus.
This is a good article by law prof John Yoo explaining why James Madison arranged the Constitution so that a president had omnipotence over hiring and firing of appointed subordinates:
The president has no constitutional authority to order executive branch officials to obey his policies, except by removing them. If independence rules, the defense secretary could double the surge of troops into Baghdad to end the fighting there, the secretary of state could settle the Korean nuclear crisis on easier terms, and the attorney general could stop bringing drug trafficking cases if he disagreed with the war on drugs.
Critics want to insulate U.S. attorneys from political control by the president. Some have proposed over the years that the attorney general either be elected or chosen through some "neutral" non-political process. But how do you guarantee "neutrality"? Our Constitution's well-tempered system of checks and balances already does that quite well. Presidents are elected because of their political preferences and are expected to manage the executive branch accordingly. Congressmen do the same. Since when has a Democratic congressman, to be neutral and fair, had to hire Republicans on his staff?
Ultimately, the Constitution vests the president, not the attorney general or U.S. attorneys, with the responsibility to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." Presidents, assisted by their attorneys general, must make the basic prosecutorial decisions about what resources to spend, and on which prosecutions -- like getting criminals off the streets instead of setting perjury traps for White House aides. A president might decide that bringing more immigration cases nationwide will advance the public interest. But without the removal power he cannot force reluctant U.S. attorneys to follow such priorities that might be locally unpopular. Prosecutors tasked to go forth and prosecute with no guidance from above often lose perspective on the costs or the benefits to the whole nation of their choices.
Patrick Fitzgerald's pursuit of Scooter Libby shows us what happens when a prosecutor reports to no higher authority. He single-mindedly persecuted Mr. Libby, at great taxpayer expense, without any sense of the damage caused to the workings of our government in wartime -- and over a confused sequence of misstatements later characterized all too easily as "lies" about a crime that Mr. Fitzgerald found had not happened anyway.
If U.S. attorneys are all turned into special counsels to set their own uncontrolled agendas, the more bad prosecutions we will see. The recent Nifong Duke case is an example of an out of control prosecutor playing to the press to build his own political career. Executive control is simply good management, ensuring that U.S. attorneys don't succumb to competing pressures that take their eye off national goals.
Does anyone remember that in 1993 former President Bill Clinton had his attorney general, Janet Reno, fire ALL 93 US ATTORNEYS?
Apparently not on Capital Hill and certainly not amongst Bush's critics in the mainstream media. Bush and current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fire just 8 US attorneys and some people act as though they've been caught on Dateline's To Catch A Predator. They likewise criticize the Bush team for former White House counsel Harriet Miers' suggestion that Bush fire all 93 attorneys (as Clinton did).
So how is it that Clinton actually did it and that was okay, but Bush is vilified for the mere suggestion...? The defender's logic that it's okay to fire the entire staff appointed by a former president but corrupt to fire a handful you appointed yourself is, as the French say, "Effucking stupid." Seriously, that's their defense? I know five-year-olds whose logic is more mature.
Moving along. Of course once again the Bush team's belated self-defense has been lacking at best. Add to that Gonzales' weak concession that "mistakes were made" when no mistakes were made. Weak-knees and hat in hand. Pathetic. It's crazy, but the Bush team never seems to know when it's got the full weight of the law behind them. It is, as columnist and former US attorney Andrew McCarthy said, "most revealing: about the administration’s ineptitude and Washington’s hypocrisy." You said it brother.
Better late than never, today Bush send a letter to ranking Congressional leaders stating, "These [3,000 pages of] documents do not reflect that any U.S. attorney was replaced to interfere with a pending or future criminal investigation or for any other improper reason." Bush reiterated the Constitutional fact that US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. In other words, he doesn't have to give a reason to fire them, like it or not.
Non-interference, of course, is far more than one could say of Clinton's 1993 firings. Not that it wasn't brilliant politics - in order for Clinton to obfuscate investigations into a slew of his Whitewater buddies and other things, including Representative Dan Rostenkowski (he later pleaded guilty to corruption charges), Clinton chose to fire all the attorneys rather than single out those charged with investigating his failings. D.C. United States Attorney Jay B. Stephens was within 30 days of making a "critical decision" on "the Rostenkowski case when Ms. Reno directed him and other United States Attorneys to submit their resignations." If memory serves there were likewise ongoing investigations into Vince Foster and the Branch Davidian fiasco that were no doubt effected by the firings.
But you know what? Like it or not Clinton was within his rights as president to fire them. And so is Bush now. Like McCarthy wrote today, "Our system is political. It is intended to be."
A White House meddling with the Justice Department for political reasons? The Justice Department, including the attorney general and all 93 U.S. attorneys, are high-ranking officers in one of our two political branches. The head of that branch, the executive branch, is the president. Under our Constitution, he is vested with all of the executive power, including the police power. That power is not divided among several players; it is singularly reposed in him. The president chooses all the U.S. attorneys, and, after Senate confirmation, they, like all executive-branch officers, serve at his pleasure. He doesn’t need a reason to fire any of them — he can ax them because he thinks it’s time for a change, or because it’s Thursday and his horoscope says the stars are aligned for pink slips.
What could be more political than that? Politics is a dirty word in our lexicon, but this is politics in the classic sense of accountability to voters. As it should be."
You can read the rest yourself.
But boy are they lucky I'm not president. Because the CIA and State Department officials also serve at the pleasure of the president. I would, to borrow from JFK, "splinter them into 1,000 pieces." They've proven inept and useless as well.
(Additional: Bruce Bartlett cites many, many examples of this precedent - Democrats FDR and Harry Truman included.)
Here's some great letters people have written regarding the so-called Global Warming problem. I love the first one.
The global warming debate seems more and more like a solution in search of a problem. In this case, the solution is big government. Every action currently being proposed to alleviate global warming increases the power of government. Capping CO2 emissions would of course require a degree of control over the private lives of ordinary citizens that makes the restrictions of the Patriot Act look minor.
It would be interesting to challenge some of these global warming activists to come up with solutions that diminish government influence. It should be possible to do so with a little bit of imagination. I suspect that any such solution would be immediately shot down as not practical.
In their March 15 editorial-page commentary "A Future for Fossil Fuel," John Deutch and Ernest Moniz assume that measures to reduce CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would be worth some unspecified cost. We should not accept that. Scientists say that for millions of years the climate has cycled between hotter and colder (but they don't know why). Messrs. Deutch and Moniz should give convincing reasons why the climate we happen to have now is the best of all the climates, but they simply ignore that logical responsibility. After choosing such a climate target, the authors would have the logical responsibility of demonstrating the effect of CO2 concentration on climate.
Those who do discuss this matter cite computer models that are so bad they cannot even reproduce the ice ages. Other pseudoscientists tell us that temperature data show the surface is warming, but not the atmosphere -- they don't realize that this observation contradicts the computer models they cite. They know nothing about measuring temperatures, yet they proclaim temperatures rose 1 degree Celsius in the 20th century and are alarmed.
Messrs. Deutch and Moniz are admirably evenhanded and quantitative in discussing the potential costs and trade-off of alternative methods of carbon sequestration. So why are they so casual and even sloppy about the underlying issues: How much of global warming is caused by human use of fossil fuel, how much can this human impact be reduced, and how much might such a reduction in carbon emission reduce global warming? Surely the answer to all three questions is not -- as they imply -- "all of it." Isn't it likely that when these three fractions are multiplied together, we can expect only a small reduction in warming, at a cost that may be greater than the cost of adaptation to warming? The tendency of "believers" to state or imply black and white answers where there must be shades of gray is probably the main reason so many of us are still skeptics -- or, if you prefer, "deniers."
Robert A. Dobie, M.D.
The case of Lewis Scooter Libby, aka PlameGate, has been one of the most surreal political events in recent memory, and without a doubt is proof positive that the mainstream media isn't just partisan, but basically just an extension of the Democratic Party.
The Bush administration is guilty of one thing in this: stupidity. Once again they are too stupid to make the right play in what should have been a very, very easy defense. As for the fall guy, Scooter Libby is guilty of lying about a leak he did not even make which was a supposed crime THAT NEVER EVEN OCCURED.
Valerie Plame was not a "covert" agent. Period. We know this for several reasons. First, they've never actually asserted it. They skirt around it and bait and switch - "covert" becomes "classified," (the latter a domain that like it or not the president of the United States has one hundred percent Constitutional authority over, yet the press chooses to ignore this). Second, the prosecution in the Libby case, lead by Patrick Fitzgerald, stated, "we have not made any allegation that Mr. [Scooter] Libby knowingly, intentionally outed a covert agent. We have not charged that. And so I'm not making that assertion." In other words, given every opportunity to support his prosecution by formally announcing that Plame was covert, Fitzgerald chooses not to. Finally, were Plame truly a covert agent, as opposed to her identity only being classified, then there would have been charges filed against former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage -- the man who actually leaked her cover to the Chicago Tribune's Robert Novak. This fact was known by the Justice Department BEFORE they charged Libby but conveniently left out of the public's knowledge until it was separately reported in September 2006.
Democrats have followed suit of course. That Plame wasn't actually covert matters not to them. Who needs facts when you have the media repeating your exaggerations, half-truths and lies. There will be no investigation as to why someone as unqualified on WMD as Joe Wilson was appointed the role of investigating Iraq's Niger-uranium connection, nor how unprofessional it was for the CIA to allow nepotism to trump intelligence work. That Joe Wilson thrice lied to the Senate intelligence committee about how he was chosen for the job, what he found in Niger, and what Bush administration did with it matters not to the media. That a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, told Wilson that Iraq did attempt to purchase 400 tons of uranium in 1998 matters not to Nancy Pelosi. That this was exactly what the United Kingdom intelligence services shared with the Bush administration, and exactly what Bush stated in his 2003 state of the union speech is, for Democrats like John Murtha, insignificant. And that to this day the United Kingdom has never withdrawn its claim is, one supposes, just an inconvenient truth in the liberal surrealist world.
The Bush people had every reason to question Joe Wilson's partisanship during his so-called fact finding tour. That they have been inept in this defense underscores how important public speaking skills are when you're the president -- and how not having them can lead to approval ratings in the gutter.
Worst of all, that Joe Wilson and his wife can shamelessly play a victim card while simultaneously enjoying more limelight and free dinners from the Vanity Fair Elitist Left than they would have otherwise ever known in their life is absurd wrapped in asinine surrounded by crazy. "We're so the victim!" they scream as they enjoy night after night of well-paying public speaking engagements, a proposed multi-million dollar book deal, a planned Warner Brothers movie about them, and photo shoots for a variety of popular magazine covers. Cry me a river! Somebody, please, out me as a CIA agent!!! I'm begging ya!
To conclude, I leave you with the quote that best summarizes the sham that has been PlameGate, by Mark Steyn:
But nevertheless an anti-war deputy secretary [Armitage] of an anti-war department [State] leaking to an anti-war reporter [Novak] the name of an anti-war analyst [Plame] who got her anti-war husband [Wilson] a job with an anti-war agency [CIA] is supposedly an elaborate “conspiracy” by Cheney, Rove and the other warmongers.
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