What’s at Stake Tuesday, Long and Short Term

The Romance of Delegate Math

If you’re like me you find yourself looking at polling data and calculating delegate counts in your head. If Mitt takes so many delegates in DC, Maryland and Wisconsin, that puts him at a new total of X, extending his lead over Santorum by Y, and making Rick need Z percent of the future delegates to win…. Okay, maybe you’re not like me.

It may sound boring to the uninitiated, but it’s the math behind propelling the most qualified candidate in the race to his party’s nomination, step one in replacing Barack Obama.

What’s at Stake Tuesday: Long View

What Obamacare teaches us. In case you don’t think replacing Barack Obama is a big deal, reflect back on the biggest political story of this week. Okay, not the open mic incident. I’m referring to our hearing our president’s Solicitor General argue to the Supreme Court why Obamacare’s Federal mandate is constitutional. The traditionally conservative justices asked for a rationale that could possibly limit Congress’ power under the commerce clause should they accept his argument. Meanwhile, the traditionally liberal justices tried their best to supply that rationale. Based on the impressions of those reporting, the decision appears headed for a familiar 5-4 vote against the law, with the four traditional conservatives on one side, the four traditional liberals on the other, and middle-of-the-road Justice Kennedy likely voting with the conservatives. But time will tell.

Shape of the Court to come. As someone concerned about finding real limits to Congress’ power (history proving we need limits to preserve our freedom), and knowing the general police power was intended to be reserved to the states (making the difference between Federal Obamacare and state Romneycare night and day), I thank my lucky stars we had presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush to appoint the four conservative justices currently on the court. The liberal justices? Two from Clinton, two from Obama. By way of preview, the next president may have a chance to replace not only the lead conservative on the court in Scalia (currently 76 years old) and a staunch liberal on the court in Ginsburg (79), but iconic swing justice Kennedy, who has made the difference in many 5-4 decisions (currently 75 years old). In other words, who the president is matters, a lot, not just in signing and vetoing laws, but in appointing justices to the court who can protect the Constitution for a generation to come (a combined half-century now for Scalia and Kennedy).


Last Polls Show Mitt Upswing

We thought this may be coming after the debate.

It appears the vetting of Rick Santorum and the contrast between his projected image and reality are catching up to him. Two polls released today now show (one still within the margin of error) that Mitt has a slight edge in Michigan. Rasmussen shows a 6 point lead with a 4% margin for error, and Mitchell / Rosetta Stone shows a 3 point lead with a 4.7% margin for error. Another Rasmussen poll shows a more sizable 13 point lead in Arizona. These polls seem to indicate people are thinking like I am: Rick Santorum has electability issues. In addition, if the rationale for your presidency is that you stick to your principles, but you admit in a debate you will vote against them when expedient, the entire basis for your candidacy is seriously undermined and calling yourself “courageous” is a bit of a stretch.

We know we can’t live by polls; there’s still lots of work to do to get out Mitt’s positive message of turning around the American economy, repealing Obamacare and putting a man in the White House with executive experience rather than an inexperienced legislator (out of the GOP or the Democratic parties).

Mitt of course has been steady since the beginning as the only candidate with executive experience or economic know-how. He has a 59 point plan to turn around the economy, like he’s turned around failing businesses, the Olympics and Massachusetts. He balanced the budget in Massachusetts by cutting programs, while lowering taxes. He’s proposed lowering marginal tax rates as President by 20%, and he’s committed to being a pro-life president and choosing strict constructionists for the Supreme Court. He knows how the economy works, and will be ready when the next major shock to our economy hits (gas prices, anyone?) As I’ve said before, one of the main security risks to our country is the $15 trillion national debt, and only Mitt has a real plan to address that or the appreciation of what a risk it is. When I compare Mitt vs. the alternatives, to me it’s a no-brainer. Mitt is experienced and principled. The others fall short. That’s why they’ve all come and gone, while Mitt stays steady at or near the top.

Mitt hits a homer! Text of CPAC Speech

“Barack Obama is the poster child for the arrogance of government.” -Mitt Romney at CPAC

Read for yourselves. Mitt needs to be our next president. UPDATE: Watch the speech here.

Thanks, Al, for that warm introduction.

This year, here at CPAC, we’ve got a great crowd. It’s been a great conference. For that I suppose we should acknowledge President Obama, the conservative movement’s top recruiter. Turns out, he really is a great community organizer. Although, I don’t think we were the community he had in mind.

Today we are poised for a great victory in November. The pundits and the pollsters tell us we can win this election. But we must tell the nation why we should win. It is up to us to prove that we are truly ready to step forward and lead this country. This election is not just about getting more votes. Defeating Barack Obama is only one step toward our greater goal of saving America.

Of course we can defeat Barack Obama! That’s the easy part! Believe me, November 6th will be the easiest day our next President will face.

This country we love is in jeopardy. It’s more than the economic statistics we read, it’s the pain we feel in our hearts. For three years we have suffered through the failures not only of a weak leader, but of a bankrupt ideology. I am convinced that if we do our job, if we lead with conviction and integrity, that history will record the Obama Presidency as the last gasp of liberalism’s great failure and a turning point for a new conservative era.

But it’s not enough to show how they have failed. We must prove we deserve to lead. I am here today to ask you to stand with me shoulder to shoulder as we go forward to fight for America.

As we step forward together, now is the time to reaffirm what it means to be a conservative and why this must be our greatest hour. America is like no other country in history. At the very heart of our American conservatism is the conviction that the principles embodied in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are uniquely powerful, foundational, and defining. Some see the hand of Providence in their authorship. Others credit the brilliance of the Founders. Many of us see both. But conservatives all agree that departing from these founding principles is a departure from the greatness of America- from our mission, from our freedom, from our prosperity, and from our purpose.

I know this President will never get it, but we conservatives aren’t just proud to cling to our guns and to our religion. We are also proud to cling to our Constitution! Click here to continue reading

South Carolina, Remember

South Carolina

I spent a good part of the day today hungry for news about how things are going in South Carolina. Like many, I’m ardently hopeful that Mitt Romney can knock out his competition on Saturday in the GOP primary so we can move on to replacing Barack Obama without all the Republicans emptying their war chests fighting each other. I agree with Michele Bachmann that President Obama is taking the country down a path of no return. Once the government begins providing medical care for its citizens, for example, there’s no turning back, and I believe our system was never intended to have a Federal government that large. Such a strong Federal government, with power to both give you everything and take everything away, is a threat to your liberty, and the related cost will be a threat to our country’s sovereignty. That’s the way I feel.

Since Newt seems to be Mitt’s closest competition in South Carolina, I thought I’d provide a few headlines for you to peruse:

Newt Can Hardly Contain Himself

Today Newt must have felt emboldened since he made a few more outlandish statements to add to his growing list. For example, on the stump he espoused a first amendment-violating religious litmus test for people joining his administration, saying any muslims need not apply unless they are willing to take an oath rejecting Sharia law. While I agree religious law has no place in the law of the United States, such an oath to disavow your personal beliefs to be able to serve your country violates my sense of religious freedom, and to call all Muslims religious extremists is offensive, of questionable judgment and very likely to get Newt in trouble, again.

GOP faithful will also remember that while Sarah Palin has become somewhat of an icon in the Tea Party movement, her selection by McCain as his running mate in 2008 was widely panned and, again, largely rejected by independents. Nevertheless, Newt, seemingly feeling good about his chances, stated Palin would have some role in his administration, with speculation that may mean as Vice President. Finally, in apparent outreach to the very far right on economic issues, he today advocated a commission to study going back to the gold standard.

While Newt may have had a couple good lines in the debate, we need to remember this is the same old guy that spiked then crashed earlier this season. He may pick up a few points, but with continued statements like this he’ll crash again. You know it. I know it. Rick Perry said in the debate it’s important that we vett our candidate today, and not find out in September he’s unelectable. Well, we know today what the answer is about Newt.

Why Mitt

Meanwhile, unlike Newt, Mitt continues to show he’s the best situated to defeat Obama. This is proven by a recent series of polls showing Mitt leading President Obama in six key swing states. It’s also proven by poll after poll showing Mitt ahead of Newt nationwide. Numbers show Mitt anywhere from 3% to 17% ahead of Newt and in a dead heat vs. Obama, while Newt trails Obama by 11%. The polling doesn’t lie: while Newt has on occasion been able to deliver a more visceral punch, Mitt is seen as more “presidential,” better able to rise above the fray and more likely to truly be able to take on Obama, who will, by virtue of his current job, appear presidential. And Mitt’s no slouch at debating, either. If your goal is to replace Obama, there’s really only one choice, on the electability meter and all other measures: Mitt Romney. Click here to continue reading

Follow up on Newt’s Bad Idea Regarding the Judiciary

If we were to use a gambling reference, Newt has more than doubled-down on his statements regarding the judiciary; this point he’s at quadrupled, quintupled or more. The following quotes back up the claim that Newt’s proposal is completely out of line not only with conservative principles, but principles of freedom generally. These are taken from the Arena page at the Politico website but since I’m not sure how long they’ll stay up, I’m going to cut and paste a few quotes here. They’ll be available for a while the bottom of the page on that 1st link should you care to read more. And while I concentrate on comments by Republicans, I do throw in some Democrats so people can see this is a bi-partisan issue, and Newt’s proposal is being very widely panned. The last quote is my favorite as it discusses the idea raised at the end of my prior post: this is evidence as President he’d be more likely to shoot from the hip and focus on what tickles his fancy vs. the real issues the people would want him to. Enjoy.

Artur Davis, former Democratic Congressman from Alabama:

Just as Ron Paul believes that razing the Federal Reserve to the ground is the answer to a decade of flawed monetary policy, Newt Gingrich thinks that a war on judicial independence is the way to correct imperfect, flawed courts. He is just as wrong, and to borrow from Mitt Romney, just as “zany” on judges as Paul is on the Fed.

The irony is that two potential rulings that the conservative base cares deeply about - overturning the individual mandate in Obamacare and preserving the Defense of Marriage Act from the influence and rising popularity of the same sex marriage campaign - would require a Supreme Court that is fiercely independent of both elite opinion and political backlash. A conservative would make more sense celebrating that independence than trashing it.

Ginny Brown-Waite, former Republican Congresswoman from Florida:

It is sad that Speaker Gingrich did not respect the Constitution’s separation of powers clause. In some cases Judicial activism has been a terrible setback for America but his plan would have one branch with far too much power. He far too often shoots from the hip and then tries to explain his way out of it. He tried last night on one of the Fox shows and even he couldn’t clearly articulate his stance on executive supremacy. Impeachment is a tool already available to Congress but it is seldom used. America does not want a president who is going to go “knee jerk” on every court decision he does not agree with.

Ex-Rep. Martin Frost
Attorney, former Democratic congressman :

Newt’s view is totally inconsistent with the constitutional principle of separation of powers.

St. Assemb. Robert Castelli
New York State Assembly (R) :

While I have long been critical of judges who attempt to legislate from the bench, and heaven knows there are some incredible stupid decisions handed down by some judges, our system and constitutional law affords us an appeals process to deal with just that. Additionally, a system of judicial review is available to supervising judges to allow them to police their own, so to speak.

While I understand where the former speaker was coming from, his suggestion as a means of quelling judicial activism I believe may be ill advised and can quickly become a threat to an independent judiciary.

Chris DeRose
Republican strategist and attorney; Author, “Founding Rivals” :

Without question, the delicate balance of powers designed by our Framers has been upset in favor of the judiciary, the least democratic branch. I never realized that someone could stake out a position to correct this that would make me uncomfortable. Congrats, Newt.

I don’t see the wisdom of this at all. I haven’t seen detailed polling in Iowa, but based on this drawn out line of attack I’m willing to bet Newt hasn’t either.

Where does “judicial activism” rank on the list of problems caucus-goers wish to see addressed? How many intend to support the candidate who is best on this issue as opposed to, say, the economy? How many days is Gingrich going to lead with this?

How does sending federal agents to arrest judges address charges that Gingrich is erratic, unsteady, and ill suited for both the rigors of a general election against Barack Obama and for the presidency itself?

if Barack Obama is talking about cutting payroll taxes and Gingrich of defying Courts and arresting judges like the Grand Poobah of a banana republic, get ready for the least suspenseful general election in a generation.

On Newt and the Judiciary, and Why It Matters

judges-gavelNewt Gingrich and Good Ideas vs. Bad Ideas.

I’ve been saying for a while that even though Newt Gingrich advertises himself as a factory of “big ideas,” he doesn’t seem to be able to recognize the bad ones from the good ones. Newt’s numbers seem to be slipping as a result, but I thought it important to take on one of his ideas lest it go without the attention it deserves.

A Really Bad “Big Idea.”

In last Thursday’s debate Newt repeated prior assertions that decisions of the Federal judiciary should be subject to substantive review by Congress or the executive branch. In my view, that would throw off the balance of power among the branches and would be very problematic. Now, as an attorney living in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, believe me I understand frustration with “activist” judges. But if activism is a problem, Newt’s solution throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Newt’s View.

The basis of the “problem,” according to Newt, is that the judiciary was intended to be the weakest branch of government and not intended to be an “oligarchy.” I agree. So in response Newt proposes calling judges before Congress, by subpoena or arrest if necessary, to explain themselves and why they make the decisions they make. If he doesn’t like a Supreme Court decision,

“such decisions will be ignored.”

If it’s not obvious, that would be a radical change to the way the judiciary works, would politicize judicial opinions and would alter the balance of power in our system significantly. In my view it would also seriously threaten some of our basic freedoms. For more information and discussion, here are a couple articles, the first in the Washington Post and the second at Outside the Beltway.

Newt’s Medicine Is Worse than the Disease

While there are examples of judicial over-reaching, in fact most obviously bad Federal court decisions are made at the district or circuit court level and are overturned on appeal. Most judges also exercise restraint in their decisions, acknowledging that it is the role of the legislature to create the law and the President to enforce it. Even Newt’s most inflammatory example, a decision criminalizing traditional references to religion in school, was overturned. And should we want to know why a court decided the way it did, we already can: Federal court decisions and the reasoning behind them are published in detailed opinions available for all to read. Judges can even be impeached. But Newt finds these checks “inadequate.”

Why Judicial Insulation is Good.

Federal judges are appointed for life and their decisions are not subject to review, except on appeal. I’m told it’s considered fairly embarrassing to have a decision overturned on appeal, so most judges do their best to get their decision right. But if they get it wrong, or people disagree with them, they can’t be fired. Given this reprieve from second-guessing by the general public, justices can study issues in their chambers and make decisions without fear of political reprisal. It doesn’t matter who will be angered by their decision, they can do what they think is right. I believe this is a good thing. Imagine the Supreme Court being subject to the same political pressures as the President, or, worse, the House of Representatives with a two-year term. The basic interpretation of our most basic laws could change every two to four years. Is that what we want?

An Example.

Remember that Barack Obama rode a wave of popular support for “change you can believe in” into the White House. So what protection do we have that the proposed change doesn’t violate the basic contract we have with government, the Constitution itself? It’s the court system, and the insulation of judges from reprisals. Under Newt’s proposal, though, even decisions conservatives like would be subject to challenge by the other branches. Federal marshals could “arrest” justices they didn’t agree with, Congress could grill them about their decisions,and the President could ignore those decisions. This suggestion is not only unnecessary, it’s dangerous for persons of all political persuasions. The National Review points out:

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