Monthly Archives: February 2008

What Happens If Ron Paul Supporters Infiltrated Other Campaigns’ Delegates?

The Ron Paul campaign is increasingly looking like it’s a done deal. With Romney dropping out, it’s likely that we won’t see a brokered convention, the one potential route to his campaign having any more legs. Intrade has McCain now trading at a 95 share price for the nomination, with Huckabee and Paul both trading below a 2 share price.

But, in true form, the Paulestinians haven’t given up hope! After all, what if McCain’s delegates don’t vote for McCain at the Convention? What if, as commenter Kevin Houston points out, they’re really Ron Paul supporters who infiltrated the delegate pool in order to vote for their own man?

I appologize for being such a poor communicator myself. I did not mean to imply that the people filling McCain’s delegate slots were true-blue McCainiacs who could somehow be convinced to give their precious votes to Ron Paul.

I meant to imply that the people filling McCain’s delegate slots were true-blue Paulunteers who simply *said* they would be happy to support McCain (or Thompson, or Romney, or whoever) Especially in LA, where McCain had trouble filling delegate slots at the end.

Kind of like what happened in WV, where even though Huckabee ostensibly won all 18 delegates, 3 of those Huckabee delegates will actually be voting Ron Paul at national convention.

I promise you it will happen in my state too. The primary vote doesn’t mean crap. Only 3 delegates are awarded by the primary vote. The other 24 are elected at county conventions. Some of these counties (like mine) don’t have *any* functional GOP organization. It is wide open to the first yahoo that says he wants to do the work (like me.)

It doesn’t matter if Ron Paul comes in 2nd, or 3rd, or even gains enough of a % to be entitled to a single delegate. My state will have at least one vote for Ron Paul (legally if it looks like he can hang on through the first ballot)

So let’s explore this one for a moment. Let’s say that somehow McCain doesn’t win the nomination outright and it goes to the convention. Let’s then say that all hell breaks loose and there’s enough Ron Paul supporters who infiltrated the delegate pools that Ron Paul wins the nomination. What happens then?

If you think the American people in general, and the Republican Party in particular, will take kindly to seeing their nomination process “stolen” by Ron Paul supporters, you’re nuts! Especially if it’s by self-proclaimed libertarians, those who favor the “rule of law”, behaving in an absolutely underhanded manner.

If Ron Paul supporters were to “steal” the nomination for their candidate, it would fly in the face of most American’s sense of fairness and decency. And if the Democrat’s response to the 2000 election is any indication, Republican voters would be so angry over the situation that they would allow Hillary or Obama to reach the Oval Office simply to spite Ron Paul, or McCain would then run as an independent and they’d follow him.

Seriously, guys. It’s over. He’s not going to win. He’s got a lot of supporters, and it’s time to take that support and turn it into a wider movement. Perhaps the Paul Congress movement might be a good place to focus? 30-40 or more people in the House of Representatives with views similar to Ron Paul could go a long way to making real change. It’s time to start working on doing good in other places, because Ron Paul will not be elected President in 2008.

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Members of Congress file brief in Heller case

Here is some good news concerning District of Columbia v. Heller. US Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are filing a brief with signatures of 250 House members and 55 Senators, urging that the DC gun law be overturned by the Supreme Court:

“All of the congressional legislative history is assuming that the Second Amendment, which is in the Bill of Rights, is an individual right and for a city or state to thwart this by taking a person’s right in their home to have a loaded gun, just seemed to be a perfect opportunity for the Supreme Court to affirm this individual right that Congress has acknowledged throughout its history,” Hutchison said.

Tester said the writers of the Constitution did not intend for laws to be applied to some people and not others or to be applied some times and not others.

“We cannot restrict the right to bear arms just like we can’t restrict the right to practice religion or the right of a free and independent press,” Tester said.

The Bush Administration has filed a brief on behalf of the District of Columbia. However, the administration says that it supports the individual rights view of the Second Amendment.

Heller could settle the question as to whether the Second Amendment is an individual right (which is my belief) or a collective right. To learn more about the case, visit DC Gun Case or read this article by Robert Levy. You can also listen this event podcast from the Cato Institute that explains some of the details of the case and why the challenge to the ban was presented.

Oral arguments for Heller begin on March 18th.

H/T: Of Arms and the Law

[UPDATE] Here is the brief signed by Vice-President Dick Cheney, 55 members of the Senate and 250 members of the House.

Why This Libertarian Republican Is Voting For Barack Obama

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

Note: The following does not represent, and should not be taken to represent, the official position of The Liberty Papers, or the opinion of any of the other contributors. It’s my opinion and my opinion alone.

Virginia’s Presidential Primary is coming up on February 12th and, for some time now, I’ve been trying to figure out who I was going to vote for, or even if I was going to vote at all.

On the Republican side, before the election ended yesterday, my choices were bleak indeed. I’ve already reiterated before the reasons I can’t support John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee and there’s no need to repeat them here. Up until December or January, I probably would have cast my vote for Ron Paul even though I didn’t agree with him on two important issues — immigration and foreign policy — but, with the newsletter story being the straw that broke the camel’s back, I quickly became disillusioned with both the campaign and the candidate and now I don’t think that his campaign will have any lasting impact on the Republican Party. If there were still a race, I probably still would have voted for Paul just to cast a protest vote, but that seems utterly pointless now.

But, you see, I live in Virginia and we have completely open primaries. When Virginians go to the polls on Tuesday, they simply need to ask for the Democratic or Republican ballot, and they can vote for whom they please. While I personally think that party primaries should be closed affairs, the open primary presents me with a very interesting opportunity this year.

The Republican race is over, but the Democratic primary isn’t and it’s possibly the most important race that this nation has seen.

Issues aside, I have come to the conclusion that the worst thing that has happened to this country has been the fact that we’ve been living in a Bush-Clinton-Bush dynasty for the past 20 years. The first Bush Administration wasn’t all that bad, and George H.W. Bush was, faults aside, a relatively decent person. But you wouldn’t have known that from the rhetoric thrown at him from both the left and the right. Then, when Bill & Hillary Clinton came to power in 1993 — and, make no mistake, these two have always been a team — the political atmosphere in this country changed, and it changed for the worse.

It wasn’t all the Clintons either, almost from the day the Clinton Administration came into office there was this element of the right whose opposition to the President was nothing short of venomous. There were allegations that Bill Clinton was involved in drug-running (remember Mena anyone ?), that Vince Foster had been murdered, that Bill had an illegitimate black child, even that the Clinton Administration administered the Oklahoma City bombing. It was the era of the militas, and black helicopter conspiracy theories, and the Y2K nonsense.

And it was the era when the Contract for America died on the altar of the Lewinsky scandal and ill-considered impeachment hearings.

Then, George W. Bush came into office. I just knew things weren’t going to calm down when he won in a closely-fought disputed election that was, ultimately, decided by the Supreme Court (correctly I would submit), and they didn’t. The Loony Left picked up right where the Loony Right had left off.

And then 9/11 happened. For awhile, it seemed like something had happened that would, much like World War II, unite the country. For a time, it did, but only for a time. The conspiracy theories started almost as soon as the smoke stopped floating into the sky and the 9/11 Truthers are still with us. The political venom in the air since 2001 is, if anything, worse than what we saw during the Clinton Administration and, once again, both sides are to blame. Michael Moore is an idiot, and so is Ann Coulter.

We’re yelling at each other and accomplishing nothing.

What’s needed, I am convinced, is a break with the past and a new direction. In some sense, although I hate to admit it, John McCain represents that for the GOP but Barack Obama represents it even more and, more importantly, is running against the one person who, if she wins, would guarantee a return to same crap we’ve been dealing with since 1993 on both sides of the political aisle.

A few weeks ago Mark at Publius endures explained why he could support Barack Obama, and I agree with him:

I could not disagree more with Obama on many of his policies. Yet I find myself drawn to supporting him – passionately, even – because his goals are liberal in the classical sense. I repeat – I do not think his means are libertarian in any way, and are arguably not even classically liberal means. But the goals, so far as I can see, ARE classically liberal. His are not goals centered entirely around maximizing his own political power, and thus he is a candidate worthy of my deep respect. These ultimate ends are the same ends as exist for us perjoratively-named cosmo-libertarians (as well as for other derivations of classical liberalism).

For all these reasons, on February 12th, I will be voting for a Democratic Presidential candidate for the first time in my life, and I will be voting for Barack Obama.

Does this mean I would vote for Obama in November if he’s the nominee ? No, and, frankly I probably wouldn’t. I also won’t vote for John McCain. But the Democrats deserve to have their best candidate as their nominee, and they deserve to have the Clinton machine destroyed, and if I can help in that process I am happy to.

Tempe City Council’s Arbitrary Ruling Almost Ends In Mass Shooting At Super Bowl

Kurt Havelock, 35, planned to shoot people at the Super Bowl.  He loaded up his car with an AR-15 rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition, then drove to a parking lot near the stadium.  When he got there, however, he was suddenly hit with remorse, realized that what he was doing was wrong and decided that he couldn’t go through with it, so he turned around and went home.  Unfortunately for Mr. Havelock, he’d already mailed an eight-page manifesto to the newspapers so it wasn’t long before the authorities descended and arrested and charged him for sending threatening communications (which was completely appropriate for the cops to do).

And what set the guy off?

The city of Tempe, Arizona refused to recommend his application for a liquor license for the bar he was trying to start up because six of the seven council members didn’t like the name “Drunkenstein’s“.

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

Ron Paul @ CPAC a/k/a Ron Tilts To The Right

I’ve got to admit, I’m confused.

For the longest time, Ron Paul was campaigning as anything other than a conservative. He called himself a libertarian, heck he ran as a Libertarian for President 20 years ago, and, as the great F.A. Hayek reminded us more than 40 years ago, there is a big difference between between being a conservative and being someone who believes in individual liberty.

Nonetheless, Ron Paul, the supposed libertarian Republican candidate for President showed up today at CPAC and called himself a true conservative.

Here’s the video, you be the judge:

Introduction by Bob Barr:

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

The Republican Race For The White House Is Over

With today’s announcement by Mitt Romney that he was suspending his Presidential campaign, I think it’s fair to say that the race for the Republican nomination is over and that John McCain will be the Republican nominee.

As improbable as it would have been for Mitt Romney to beat McCain after Super Tuesday, it’s pretty much impossible for Mike Huckabee to do it. And Ron Paul ? Well, at the very least, this should put an end to that segment of the Paulbots who, even after Tuesday, were dreaming of a brokered convention, or maybe not.

It does lead to an interesting thought though — when this all started a year ago, who thought that the last three men left in the race would be Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, and the de facto nominee, John McCain.

Update 2/8/2008: Okay guys, it’s officially over, here are the results of the first post-Romney poll in Virginia:

One day after Mitt Romney withdrew from the Republican race for President, John McCain collects approximately two-thirds of Romney’s support, according to before-and-after tracking polls conducted by SurveyUSA for WJLA-TV Washington DC, WDBJ-TV Roanoke, and WTVR-TV Richmond. In SurveyUSA interviews conducted on 02/06/08, before Romney withdrew, McCain got 45%, Romney 22%, Mike Huckabee 20%. In interviews conducted on 02/07/08 and 02/08/08, immediately after Romney withdrew, McCain gained 12 points, to 57%, Huckabee gained 5 points, to 25%. McCain led Huckabee by 25 points before Romney dropped out. McCain leads Huckabee by 32 points now. McCain leads in all regions of the state, though Huckabee runs slightly stronger in the Shenandoah and in Southeast VA than he does in the DC suburbs and in Central VA. To the extent that Republicans in Virginia see John McCain’s nomination as a foregone conclusion, and therefore do not turn out to vote, McCain’s margin of victory may here be slightly overstated or understated — but the dynamics of the contest are clear. At stake are 63 winner-take-all delegates to the Republican National Convention.

For the record, Ron Paul came it at 9% in this poll and seems to have picked up none of the Romney votes. This is how it’s going to play out from here on in. There will be no challenge. There will be no brokered convention.

Saudi Arabia: America’s Tyrannical Friend

I’ve got to wonder what the Bush Administration will say about this:

A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three is seeking justice after she was thrown in jail by Saudi Arabia’s religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.

Yara, who does not want her last name published for fear of retribution, was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions by the Kingdom’s “Mutaween” police.

Her crime ? Sitting in a Starbucks:

Her ordeal began with a routine visit to the new Riyadh offices of her finance company, where she is a managing partner.

The electricity temporarily cut out, so Yara and her colleagues — who are all men — went to a nearby Starbucks to use its wireless internet.

She sat in a curtained booth with her business partner in the café’s “family” area, the only seats where men and women are allowed to mix.

(…)

“Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked ‘Why are you here together?’. I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin,” recalled Yara, who wears an abaya and headscarf, like most Saudi women.

The men were from Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a police force of several thousand men charged with enforcing dress codes, sex segregation and the observance of prayers.

(…)

They took me into a filthy bathroom, full of water and dirt. They made me take off my clothes and squat and they threw my clothes in this slush and made me put them back on,” she said. Eventually she was taken before a judge.

“He said ‘You are sinful and you are going to burn in hell’. I told him I was sorry. I was very submissive. I had given up. I felt hopeless,” she said.

Because she’s an American citizen, Yara is likely to escape the fate of other Saudi women who get caught in this trap, but her story brings home just how bad things are when you’re ruled by our “friends” the Saudis.

Mitt Romney “Suspends” his Campaign

Mitt Romney, seeing the writing on the wall, has suspended his campaign according to CNN.

This essentially kills any chance of a brokered convention; John McCain, once written off as lacking the money needed to make it to Super Tuesday, will be the Republican nominee come the convention.

This is, of course, a disaster for the Ron Paul campaign. With the nomination uncontested, there will be no debates.  there will be little media coverage.  There will be no brokered convention to horse trade in. While I think Ron Paul should formally stay in the race until the convention, the educational phase of his campaign is at an end. The time has come for Ron Paul to look to converting the political movement that coalesced around him into a political faction that will field many more candidates and become major players within the Republican party. This movement must be one that will outlast his political career. He has done far better than I expected when he first announced his candidacy, and it is time to convert all that he has accomplished into something long-lasting.

On a personal note, though, I am enjoying the shadenfreude. As governor, Mitt Romney was a willing participant in many steps taken by the legislature to further wreck the state, most notably the budget busting mandated health care program. Had Mitt Romney won the nomination, he would have left Massachusetts like the Marines withdrawing from north Korea: “We’re not retreating; we’re advancing in another direction”. Now, when Romney finally does leave the state, there is a good chance it will be seen as a retreat from a state that he helped loot and wreck further. Why do I care? Because I live about half a mile from the Romney’s, and I am one of the guys being squeezed by his disastrous policies.

Fortunately all is not lost for the Republicans who liked Mitt Romney. The Democrats have a candidate who appears to share many of his views on government subsidies for big-business and socialized health care. And, I’m sure she would be very grateful for their votes.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Quote Of The Day: Hypocrite Edition

“We are very frustrated because we have a Supreme Court that seems determined to say that the wealthier have more right to free speech than the rest of us. For example, they say you couldn’t stop me from spending all the money I’ve saved over the last five years on Hillary’s campaign if I wanted to, even though it would clearly violate the spirit of campaign finance reform,” – Bill Clinton, December 24, 2007.

In case you’re unaware, today it was revealed that Bill & Hill loaned Hillary’s campaign $ 5 million in January and are considering giving more.

H/T: Sully

Ron Paul Still Thinks He’s Relevant…..Or Does He ?

From ABC News’s Byron Wolf:

In most states with primaries where Republican voters voted for their Republican nominee preference, he got no more than 5 or six percent of the vote. He runs a distant fourth in the all-important delegate count.

Paul did better in the Northern Midwest caucus states, placing second in Montana, third in North Dakota and fourth, but with 15 percent of the vote in Minnesota. He also placed third with 17 percent at the Alaska Republican caucus and, despite a fourth place finish in initial voting, got 3 national convention votes in a backroom deal with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in West Virginia.

Those finishes, while they won’t secure Paul a huge chunk of votes at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis this summer, are enough for him to stay in the race, according to his campaign spokesman, Jesse Benton, who yesterday said Paul would reevaluate after Super Tuesday and described Paul’s quest for the White House as “not completely quixotic.”

No, completely pointless would probably be a better description at this point.

But while the campaign says they’re in this to stay, the signs are all there that, whatever it was that Ron Paul intended from this campaign, he’s pretty much done with it:

Paul was the only candidate not to host a party for supporters to rally after the Super Tuesday results. his campaign schedule is light in the near future. On Thursday Paul speaks to the conservative CPAC convention link: http://www.cpac.org/. He will stay in Washington for the rest of the week to vote in the House of Representatives and he has a rally for his Congressional campaign, being run concurrently with his Presidential one, scheduled in his hometown this weekend.

In other words, he’ll be in D.C., which holds a primary on February 12th, across the river from Virginia, also holding a primary on February 12th, and miles from Maryland, yep, you got it, also holding a primary on February 12th, and he’s not going to campaign at all. Instead, he’s going to Texas to attend a rally for his re-election campaign.

If that’s not a sign that they’ve thrown the towel in on this one, I don’t know what is.

Drew Carey Offers Some Perspective on the “Middle Class Squeeze”

This short episode does a great job of comparing the quality of life of middle income Americans from the past to the present but doesn’t even get into how average Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than most of the rest of the world. Even in these uncertain and unsettling economic times we are now living in, most of us are doing quite well once we put everything into perspective.

Still, I’m sure that I will see some angry responses from some readers who insist that the income gap is something that we should all be demanding of our politicians to rectify. Radley Balko received such responses when he posted the same video to his blog and offered the following response to his readers:

Look, the purpose of the video wasn’t to tell middle class people that they’re happy if they aren’t. It was to provide some economical and historical perspective to counter the constant class war message in the media that the middle class is “under attack.” It just isn’t so. Inequality may well be growing, and that may well contribute to the sentiment among many in the middle class that they’re being left behind. But they aren’t suffering, or on the verge of extinction. We’re all much, much better than we were a generation ago. We have more free time. We take more vacations. We have nicer things. We have less to worry about […]

[…]

That the last century of unprecedented prosperity hasn’t made us significantly happier isn’t terribly surprising. We’re constantly measuring ourselves in comparison to those around us, not to our parents or grandparents. And if everyone is getting better off, everyone is going to continue measuring their self-worth against everyone else. Someone is always going to have the best house on the block, someone is always going to have the second-best house, and someone is always going to have the worst house. So long as there are classes, there will always be class envy. That everyone is getting progressively better off can easily escape our notice.

We could solve class envy, of course. We could end inequality with massive wealth redistribution. History has shown that such policies can indeed make everyone equal–equally poor and miserable.

If you are unhappy with your station in life, before you ask the government to take money from someone else at the point of a gun and give it to you, look in the mirror and ask yourself the question: “Am I doing all I can to achieve the standard of living I desire?”

Open Thread: Chances Of A Brokered Convention?

I’m a policy wonk, not a political horse-trader. But in this comment, Doug suggests that a brokered convention is becoming unlikely. I’m not sure I believe that, as there are still three candidates in the race, and it won’t take too much for them to split what’s left.

Huckabee has done very well in the South, which could help him in MS, LA, TX, KY, NC and VA, especially since his momentum will carry him well as LA and VA as they hold primaries within the next week.

Romney has done well in the Rocky Mountain states and Northeast, though I’m not sure how that will translate to the Pacific Northwest and rust belt states. He and Huck could be battling for SD and NE, and I’m not sure where WI will fall.

For McCain, the “matching-funds” issue is still lingering. If he can’t get out of the matching funds and his campaign goes dark, he might have trouble reaching 1191.

Now, I’m not sure which of the remaining states are “winner-take-all” states, and I’m not sure what the polling data is currently revealing in any of those states. But intuitively, I don’t see McCain having such an overwhelming advantage, assuming the other two stay in the race, that he is virtually guaranteed to reach 1191. There’s a lot of establishment resistance to his candidacy, although like Radley Balko, I’m not sure why, and between Romney and Huckabee, they could win enough states to keep the game alive, and they’re both in a situation that I can’t see them dropping out of the race.

So as a policy wonk, I want to open this up to the readership here. What are the chances of a brokered convention at this stage in the game?

Super Tuesday Wrap-up And Wednesday Open Thread

So, where do things stand this morning ?

Here’s how I see it:

Republicans

Though he didn’t do quite as well as I expected, it’s clear that John McCain was the big winner last night. He won nine states and a total of 511 delegates, including big wins in New York, New Jersey, and, somewhat of a surprise given the late polls showing a surge to Romney, California. What came as a surprise, though, and prevented McCain from claiming a prohibitive victory tonight was the surprising success of Mike Huckabee; he won West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and his home state of Arkansas.

While this did cut into McCain’s lead, what’s more important that it blunted any chance of success that Mitt Romney had last night. Romney did win 7 states and 176 delegates — including wins in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Alaska, and, of course, Utah — but it wasn’t enough to blunt McCain’s march toward the nomination. And, finally, Ron Paul had about the night I expected he would; he did well in caucus states like Montana, Colorado, and Minnesota, but only managed a third place finish in Alaska, where there was some though he might actually have had a chance to win.

As of this morning, and the numbers seem to be changing a little, here’s where the delegate count stands:

  1. John McCain — 615 delegates (1,191 needed to win)
  2. Mitt Romney — 268 delegates
  3. Mike Huckabee — 169 delegates
  4. Ron Paul — 16 delegates

So, McCain isn’t the prohibitive nominee but he’s pretty darn close. He only needs 576 more delegates to clinch the nomination; Romney on the other hand would need nearly 900, meaning he’d have to win almost every primary from now until June, which isn’t going to happen. Next week, we move on to Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia which McCain should win handily. At that point, Romney is just going to need to give up the ghost. Huckabee, on the other hand, has played the role of spoiler well and I still think we’ll see him as the Vice-Presidential nominee. And Ron Paul ? Well, I just don’t see how he runs a credible campaign from this point on, and he’s not winning enough delegates to be taken seriously at the convention.

Democrats

While the Republican race became clearer last night, the Democratic race is now closer than ever:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won victories over Sen. Barack Obama in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York last night, giving her presidential campaign a crucial boost. But Obama countered by winning of a string of states, including the general election battleground of Missouri, in the seesaw race for the Democratic nomination.

The results ensured that the fierce contest for delegates will continue into critical primaries in Texas and Ohio on March 4, and possibly beyond, in what has become the party’s most competitive race in at least a quarter of a century.

Clinton claimed four of the five biggest prizes in Super Tuesday’s 22-state Democratic competition. She also captured Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Those victories helped stem what appeared to be gathering momentum around Obama’s candidacy since he won in South Carolina on Jan. 26.

But Obama won in more places than his New York rival, racking up victories in his home state of Illinois, as well as Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah. His narrow victory in Missouri came after Clinton appeared on the brink of winning there. Only the outcome in New Mexico remained unresolved early this morning.

What’s more important, though, is that even in states where he lost, like California, Obama did far better than the polls showed him doing even ten days ago. The momentum in this race is clearly with Barack Obama, and these two candidates are going to be fighting it out for at least another month.

Here’s where the Democratic delegate count stands:

  1. Hillary Clinton — 825 delegates (2,025 needed to win)
  2. Barack Obama — 732 delegates
  3. John Edwards — 26 delegates

What’s will be interesting to watch is what happens next week in states like Virginia and Maryland, and beyond that. If Obama can continue racking up wins, we will see more Democratic powerbrokers coming to his side and Clinton’s days may well be numbered.

Thoughts ?

A Reluctant Vote For Ron Paul

Mark at Publius Endures voted in the New Jersey Primary today and cast a reluctant vote for Ron Paul:

It’s sad, really, how reluctant my vote had become. Just a few months ago, Paul was one of the only politicians I had ever been excited about. Even after the Thanksgiving Eve Alex Jones interview, despite what my head was saying, my heart was still clearly with Paul. But the newsletter story, and especially the response to it from both the Paul campaign and the Rockwell crowd, killed whatever irrational passion I had remaining for Paul. In the end, my voyage to the polls this morning was utterly joyless, and I felt that my vote had become close to meaningless. Were Fred Thompson still in the race, I think I would have voted for him over Paul.

And it didn’t need to be this way. Even after the newsletter story broke, Paul could have won my heart back or at least made my vote pro-Paul rather than just anti-Bush, Romney, and McCain. All that Paul needed to do was to come clean about the newsletters or put out one honest press release. He could have even done this without throwing his friends under the bus (even though those friends clearly had no problem throwing Paul under the bus).

Mark’s experience mirrors mine to some extent. Though I have been harshly critical of the campaign, and most especially it’s grassroots elements, both here and at The Liberty Papers, I still wanted to see Ron Paul do well and I still intended to cast a vote for him in the Virginia primary on February 12th. I had even drafted a post I intended to publish here before the primary season started endorsing the Congressman formally. But then the nagging doubts started. The links with 9/11 truthers, the Stormfront donation, the nonsense about the North American Union and then, most finally, the newsletters story. And, quite honestly, I’d had enough.

I used to think that this campaign would lead to something positive in the Republican Party, but the movement, such as it is, is such a polyglot collection of quasi-libertarians, conspiracy theorists, and people who talk about how Ron Paul might “punish” the mainstream media once he’s elected President, that I’m not even sure I want them to have an impact on the party.

So what will I do on February 12th ? Well, like Mark, I have the option of voting Ron Paul as a protest vote against the rest of the field. If Fred Thompson’s name hasn’t been removed from the ballot, I might just vote for the one guy who, had he actually run a competent campaign, might have been able to stop John McCain. And then there’s a part of me toying with the idea of crossing the aisle and voting for Barack Obama just to do my own little part to stop the coronation of Madame Hillary.

I haven’t decided yet, so I’m open to suggestions.

The Latest Paulistianian Fantasy

There’s a theory that’s been going around among Ron Paul supporters recently. It’s appeared on message boards and in blog posts, and now Lew Rockwell has fallen for it too:

The Constitution has little relevance to the government, but still it’s interesting to note that the crazed John McCain was born, to his state-connected parents, in the Panama Canal Zone. The Zone, the product of US imperialism under the the crazed Teddy Roosevelt, was never officially US territory. That is, McCain was born in a foreign country, and therefore not eligible to be president, according to the Constitution.

The Constitutional provision in question can be found in Article II:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In other words, only a “natural born citizen” can be President of the United States. This is why Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot run for President and why Madeline Albright, President Clinton’s Secretary of State (who was born in Czechoslovakia) was not part of the line of succession during the time she was in office. The question is, what is a “national born citizen”. Obviously someone who is born here, unless they are the child of a foreign diplomat at the time, is a natural born citizen, but the definition has always been broader than that.

In it’s current form — which is set forth in Title 8, Section 1401 of the United States Code, American citizenship is defined as follows:

The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:

(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;

(…)

(c) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;

(d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is a national, but not a citizen of the United States;

Now, it’s clear that Senator McCain was born outside the continental United States — but he was born to two American citizens who had lived in the United States before he was born and he was born on an American military base in the Panama Canal Zone. Which brings 8 USC 1403 into play:

(a) Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.

(b) Any person born in the Republic of Panama on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States employed by the Government of the United States or by the Panama Railroad Company, or its successor in title, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.

Additionally, American military bases are generally considered extensions of American soil and children born their to service members, such as the Senator, are considered citizens of the United States by birth. In other words, by operation of law, authorized by Congressional authority under Article I, Section 8, John McCain is a natural born citizen of the United States.

It’s time to stop indulging in that particular fantasy.

Separating Marriage And State

A Democratic State Senator in Maryland has come up with an idea that actually makes sense:

Advocates for same-sex marriage plan to introduce legislation in the Maryland General Assembly today that would abolish civil marriage ceremonies now confined to heterosexual unions in the state and replace them with domestic partnerships for all couples.

The bills represent an unusual new tactic in the effort to push legal rights for gay couples through the House and Senate during the legislature’s 90-day session. Sponsors of the measure say they are attempting to address head-on the concerns of lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

Under their proposal, all couples — straight or gay — would be on equal footing with secular unions. Religious marriage in churches, synagogues and mosques would be unaffected, as would existing civil marriages.

The word “marriage” would be replaced with “valid domestic partnership” in the state’s family law code.

“If people want to maintain a religious test for marriage, let’s turn it into a religious institution,” said Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), the bill’s Senate sponsor.

This is exactly what I’ve been saying for years now (see here and here). Of course, the Republican opponents of gay marriage aren’t exactly lining up to support this:

“What they’re talking about is an even more radical departure from traditional marriage than even advocates for gay marriage are talking about,” said Del. Christopher B. Shank (R-Washington), the minority whip. “They’re creating a situation for one special interest group that basically diminishes the value of marriage for everyone else.”

Shank and other opponents say that same-sex unions defy religious convictions that marriage is between a man and a woman.

And nobody is saying that your church has to approve or consecrate same-sex unions. Heck, you could have a religion that said people with different hair colors if you wanted to, just don’t make it the business of the state to codify your religious prejudices.

Unfortunately, I doubt that this proposal will go anywhere, even in Maryland, but it’s refreshing to see that some people recognize that the only way to really solve the gay marriage debate is to get the government out of them marriage business completely.

Mitt Romney: Just Another Statist

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Republican politicians like Rick Santorum have gone on the warpath against John McCain and, while it’s nice to see the Senator from Arizona getting his ox gored, the idea that Mitt Romney is a conservative in any sense of the word is, as Cato’s Michael Tanner notes, simply absurd:

[O]ne would expect a conservative to be opposed to government-run health care. But, as governor, Romney signed—and still says he supports—a health care plan virtually indistinguishable from the one put forward by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Romney’s plan, like the Democratic plans, includes an individual mandate, heavy insurance regulation, middle class subsidies, and a bureaucratic new pooling mechanism. Like the Democrats, Romney believes that goal of health policy should be “universal coverage.” So far, his plan has not only failed in that regard, but it has limited consumer choice, cut reimbursements to providers, driven up insurance premiums, and run deficits of $150-$400 million.

And, one would expect the putative conservative alternative to want to cut government spending. But Mitt Romney has called for spending an additional $20 billion in corporate welfare to bail out the auto industry. He wants to increase farm price supports. He supports George Bush’s Medicare prescription drug benefit and calls for more federal education spending. Indeed, he wants the federal government to buy a laptop computer for every school child in America. Like George W. Bush running in 2000, Romney has not called for cutting or eliminating a single government program—and we know what that meant for a Bush presidency.

And yet this is the man that people who consider themselves the heirs of Ronald Reagan are supporting.

Super Tuesday Predictions And Tuesday Open Thread

Quite honestly, I’m not sure anyone can predict with certainty what’s going to happen when you’re dealing with the closest thing to a national primary day that we’ve ever had.

Nonetheless, here I go again:

Republicans

Thanks to strong victories in several winner-take-all states such as New York and New Jersey, John McCain will come out of today’s primaries with at least 700 delegates. It won’t give him the nomination, but it will put him mighty close and, when that is combined with what look like guaranteed victories in the so-called Potomac Primary (Virginia, Maryland and D.C.) next Tuesday, it’s going to be hard to see how anyone other than John McCain can win the nomination.

Mitt Romney will win in Utah, Colorado, and few other small states but his biggest news of the day will come from a close victory in California. Since the Golden State awards delegates on a proportional basis, though, it won’t be as big a victory as his supporters would like it to be. And, in the end, he will be a distant second on Wednesday morning.

Mike Huckabee will play spoiler for McCain in a few Southern states, but beyond that it’s hard to see what his purpose is in this race.

Ron Paul, will not win a single state and, other than the possibility of a better-than-expected finish in the Alaska Caucuses, will not come in better than fourth place anywhere else. Within 24 hours after the voting ends, his supporters will claim voter fraud.

Democrats

By the end of the day Monday, it was clear that there was a surge toward Barack Obama.

Because of that, I’m predicting that he will win in California along with Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, and Connecticut.

When the delegates are tallied up at the end of the day, Obama and Hillary will be essentially tied and the Democratic race will move on to the next battleground, and the one after that, and the one after that.

As always, feel free to join in with your own predictions.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) — Pot-Smokin’ Hippie?

You know, many of us who might consider a run in politics have that hidden worry, that someday some old buddy might come out of the woodwork and say “Hey, remember in college when you did X, Y, and Z?” At least, as a libertarian, I don’t have to worry too much about that, because I would at least be able to say “I would like X, Y, and Z to be legalized, therefore I’m not a hypocrite!”

So I’ll call it some very entertaining schadenfreude to see that Senator Norm Coleman had his old stoner buddy (who happens to now be an attorney) call him out. Norm Coleman’s office sent out form letters condemning marijuana, and it was just too much for his old friend to bear.

So his old buddy ran this ad (based on this, longer, letter) in a number of different publications, asking why the drug that was so good for Senator Coleman, who has obviously gone on to a highly-sought (if not well-respected) career, is so dangerous for others?

I’d like an answer, and I’m sure many other opponents of the drug war would as well. How about it, Norm?

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

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