Category Archives: Open Thread

Tuesday Open Thread: Rating The Presidents

The Debatable Land has an interesting post asking readers and other bloggers to name the most overrated and under-rated Presidents in history:

1. You may nominate up to three Presidents in each category.

2. Three points will be awarded to your first selection, two to your second and one to your third. If you do not state an order of preference, each nominee will receive two points.

3. Nominations should be emailed to me by clicking here .Or you can leave them in the comments section below.

4. If you indicated whether you are an American citizen or not, that would be helpful. Equally, if you felt like including your own political leaning (conservative, liberal, libertarian, socialist etc) then that could also be useful. It’s far from required however. You may also, of course, give your reasons and I’ll endeavour to publish a representative sample of those too. All personal information will, obviously, also be kept confidential… (So, yeah, US government employees can vote too!)

5. The closing date for submissions is on or around Sunday May 11th.

6. Remember: you are not choosing the best or worst Presidents, but those whom you think history and pundits have over-rated and under-rated respectively.

7. If you have a blog yourself, let me know the URL and I’ll include a link to your site when the results are published.

8. That is all. Again, email me! (

Here are my picks:


  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  2. Woodrow Wilson
  3. John F. Kennedy


  1. Calvin Coolidge
  2. James Monroe
  3. Grover Cleveland

If you participate, be sure to leave your picks in the comment section as well.


Thursday Open Thread — What’s Left For Paul Supporters?

This blog has had a long and sordid history with the more ardent supporters of Ron Paul, as clearly evidenced in the comments to this post from yesterday.

Over the months leading up to the primaries and throughout the primaries, I’ve seen that those enthusiastic Paul supporters have often found it difficult to believe that Ron Paul’s support was as limited as some of the national polls indicated, largely because Ron Paul dominated straw polls, both online and offline. They came up with several reasons for this apparent lack of support:

1. Media bias — If the media doesn’t give Ron Paul any airtime, how could his support improve?
2. Polling bias — If polls don’t mention his name, or don’t call the “youth” without land-lines, or only registered Republicans, can they be trusted?
3. Diebold — Those pesky electronic voting machines are paid for by people who are anti-Paul
4. Election fraud — The system of neocons will silence those who speak truth to power
5. Illuminati/Bilderberger/etc — The people who really control everything won’t let him ascend

Inherent in these excuses is a consistent belief that Ron Paul is actually winning the hearts and minds (and thus the election), but that the system is so incredibly corrupt and fraudulent that he is being kept down by those above. With this, the following point is clear: the system is no longer to be trusted, and if Ron Paul does not become President, it is an indication that the system has been hijacked by people who will not allow it to be fixed.

What does this mean? It means that these Paul supporters, who have committed themselves to the rEVOLution, are up against a wall. They’re faced with a question:

“If the democratic process no longer works and has been subverted, what are you going to do about it?”

Those of us who don’t believe that Ron Paul is being denied his rightful place in the Oval Office by nefarious henchmen suggest that the next step is for those Paul supporters to join a wider liberty movement, and carry the torch that Ron Paul has ignited farther than he could ever do himself.

But for those who have placed their faith in the man himself, the fact that he’s been bested by statists like John McCain is a fact that cannot stand. There are only two options: agorism, or rebellion.

The choice is simple. The system is flawed, and must be destroyed. Agorism is the attempt to do so, through extricating oneself from the system and working to establish an alternate system in parallel. The end goal is that legitimacy in the establishment will fail, and at the same time the agorists will have created a viable alternative. The system thus withers away. Rebellion, of course, is much more clear: the taking up of arms against the established system. I would think, of course, that this is a ticket to either a penitentiary or a morgue. But for those who believe that the true support for Ron Paul greatly exceeds what appears in polls, such a rebellion would be too large to be quashed.

So the question still stands. For those truly adamant Ron Paul supporters who believe that he deserves to lead this country, and cannot accept the fact that he will not be President in November, what are you going to do about it?

TexOhio Primary Predictions And Tuesday Open Thread

At least one, and possibly both, parties’ Presidential nominating contests could be over tomorrow, so this could very well be the last prediction thread until after Labor Day.

So let’s get this one right.


Let’s get the easy one out of the way.

John McCain is going win today and he’s going to win big enough to get the remaining 100+ delegates he needs to clinch the Republican nomination. He has double digit leads over Mike Huckabee in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island. The smart thing for Huckabee to do tonight would be to congratulate McCain and drop out of the race.

Once again, Ron Paul won’t win any delegates but it looks like he will win re-election to Congress.


If nothing else, I think we’ll see the end of Barack Obama’s consecutive win streak. Hillary Clinton has a double digit lead in Rhode Island and, barring a complete disaster for her, it looks like she’ll at least win that one.

Obama, on the other hand, looks to be headed to an easy victory in Vermont.

But that’s just the warm-up show. The big showdown will be in Texas and Ohio, and the race is tight in both states.

Let’s take Texas first. The trend has been clearly in Obama’s favor for the past two weeks and I think that will be enough for him to coast to a victory. His victory in the primary itself is likely to be narrow, but he will do well in the caucus part of the process and will come out of the day with the majority of the Lone Star State’s delegates.

As for the Buckeye State, this one really ought to be put in a too-close-to-call category, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that Clinton manages to pull off a victory here, albeit an incredibly slim one. Even if I’m wrong and Obama wins, I think the margin of victory will be under 5 percentage points, which will be important when it comes to allocating delegates.

It’s the delegate count that matters, of course, and here’s where we stand right now:

Pledged Delegates

  1. Barack Obama — 1193 delegates
  2. Hillary Clinton — 1038 delegates

Obama + 155

Total Delegates (w/ Super Delegates)

  1. Barack Obama — 1389 delegates
  2. Hillary Clinton — 1279 delegates

Obama + 110

As with past primaries, all of the Democratic primaries award delegates on a proportional basis, and Texas awards part of it’s delegates based on the results of the Tuesday evening caucuses. Barack Obama will get the majority of Vermont’s 15 delegates, and Hillary will get the majority of Rhode Island’s 21 delegates. In Texas and Ohio though, they’ll split the delegates much more evenly and any advantage that Hillary gets from winning Ohio could very easily be wiped out by the net gain Obama gets out of Texas.

By the time the dust settles later this week, I think we’ll see that Obama is still ahead in pledged delegates by at least 150 and leading in total pledged delegates by at least 105.

After this there are only two races — Wyoming on March 8th and Mississippi on March 11th — between March 4th and the Pennsylvania primary on April 22nd. I have no idea what will happen in Wyoming — if it is, as I suspect, a caucus, then Obama will probably win — but I think it’s fairly clear that Obama will win Mississippi. Unless Clinton can pull off something truly convincing and surprising, which seems unlikely, the logic of her remaining in the race seems to be less and less tenable.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

Monday Open Thread — Question For The An-Caps

As long-time readers of this blog know, I tend towards anarcho-capitalism from time to time, but have had lingering doubts. So here’s the question:

We have seen that areas outside of the “government” provision of security tend towards abuse. The specific instance I’m referring to is the gang or mafia model, where those groups designed to protect purveyors of “illicit” goods/services such as drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc, rule their “consumers” through fear and threat of force. A consumer fears retribution if they attempt to seek out another provider of security, and the damage created by “turf wars” hurts us all.

So the question is this: is there any reason why such a situation will not occur in an an-cap society? The nature of security is such that it is a good procured by the weak from the strong, and there may or not be incentives for the strong to behave towards one another in a civilized manner. Will private security forces be anything other than small feudal organizations?

Note — This question doesn’t mean that an an-cap society may not be better than our current monstrosity of government abuse. But to evaluate whether it will be better or not, we should ensure that we know what society we’re evaluating, not a utopian version of that society.

Wisconsin/Hawaii/Washington Primary Postmortem And Wednesday Open Thread

With the last major primaries before March 4th behind us, the race on both sides is looking clearer and clearer.


As James Joyner notes, this is the easy one. As expected, John McCain won handily in Wisconsin and Washington and, more importantly, he has cut significantly into Mike Huckabee’s core support areas.

As of now, according to RealClearPolitics, here’s how the delegates seem to pan out:

  1. John McCain — 960 delegates
  2. Mike Huckabee — 245 delegates
  3. Ron Paul — 14 delegates

This doesn’t include any of Mitt Romney’s 273 delegates, which are likely to go for McCain at the convention. But he’s not going to need them. Right now, McCain only needs 231 delegates to clinch the nomination and he’ll get those by the time we’re done talking about Texas and Ohio in March. The Republican race is for, all intents and purposes, over. Ron Paul is down in TX-14 concentrating on his Congressional re-election, and Mike Huckabee just needs to get the heck out of the race:

Huckabee should have graciously withdrawn one week ago, when he was unable to capitalize on his Super Tuesday wins. That he was still in the race last Monday is understandable, that he remained on Wednesday, questionable.

If he keeps on in the next round of primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont, he simply looks obdurate. More than that, collared with four more contested losses, he risks negating all the good he’s done himself as a national figure in this year’s election process. It takes only one loss too many for a candidate to become Stassenized, a candidate so obsessed with running that they become irrelevant, the worst fate that can befall a politician.

The funny thing is that, even if he drops out now, Mike Huckabee has damaged himself, perhaps fatally, for the future by not taking the high road like Mitt Romney did.


Things are murkier on the Democratic side, but it’s still pretty clear that Barack Obama is now perhaps two weeks away from being the inevitable Democratic nominee for President.

Here’s the RCP delegate count:

  1. Barack Obama — 1,354 total delegates (1,185 pledged delegates, 169 superdelegates)
  2. Hillary Clinton — 1,263 total delegates (1,024 pledged delegates, 239 superdelegates)

Clinton continues to lead in most polls in Texas and Ohio, but those leads are slipping and they’re likely to slip some more now that Obama has one ten primaries in a row and shown that he can win the votes of groups that Clinton counted on as hers.

As Mark Daniels notes, there’s really only one way this can play out:

[O]nly a collective decision on the part of the Democrats’ superdelegates to ignore the verdicts of primary and caucus voters this election season, the political equivalent of drinking Jonestown Cool-aid, would result in a Clinton nomination. In order for the superdelegates to go for Clinton in a big way and deny Obama the nomination he’s earning, she will have to roll up massive majorities here in Ohio and in Texas in two weeks. Unless Obama self-destructs, that won’t happen.

Obama has a decent chance of winning Ohio and, given how Texas allocates delegates, Hillary could win that state and still not walk away with a big margin of delegates. It’s starting to look inevitable, which tells me that the Clinton’s are going to get desperate, and we’re going to see them go negative in a way that makes South Carolina seem like a church social.

It won’t work. Hillary’s toast.

Tuesday Open Thread: Time To Lift The Cuba Embargo ?

With today’s announcement that Fidel Castro is stepping down as President of Cuba, the curtain is drawn on one of the longest international rivalries of the 20th Century.

Yes, Fidel’s brother Raul is taking his place, and, yes, Cuba remains a one-party dictatorship, but this announcement leaves me with the feeling that we are seeing the beginning of the end of Cuba’s totalitarian history.

Which leads to a question — is it time for the United States to lift it’s near total embargo against Cuba ?

For the past 50 years, Americans have not been able to travel to Cuba (although people do go there through Canada and Mexico), they haven’t been able to sell anything to the Cuban people, and they haven’t been able to buy anything from them. The United States doesn’t even have diplomatic relations with Cuba.

From the beginning, the rationale for the embargo was that the United States didn’t want to strengthen the Cuban regime, but that rationale never made sense. Even during the height of the Cold War, we were trading with, and had diplomatic relations with, the USSR, China, and all of Eastern Europe behing the Iron Curtain. We’ve been trading with Vietnam for nearly two decades now and we have an ambassador there. But not Cuba.

Politically, it’s simply been impossible to even address this issue before now. No President — Republican or Democrat — wanted to raise the opposition of the powerful anti-Castro Cuban lobby in South Florida. But now that Fidel is basically gone, isn’t it time to start treating Cuba like every other nation in the world ?

I think the answer is yes.

Potomac Primary Predictions And Monday Open Thread

This job is getting a lot easier now that the Democratic race is down to two people and the Republican race is essentially over. Nonetheless, here we go.


Over the weekend, some may have gotten the impression that Mike Huckabee was riding the wave of a stop McCain movement, but that wave will crash on the shores of the Eastern Atlantic.

John McCain will win Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, and he will win all of them by substantial margins. He will win all of the delegates up for grabs in Virginia and the District and he’ll win most, if not all, of Maryland’s delegates as well.

Ron Paul continue to garner about 5% of the vote even though he has basically stopped actively campaigning for President.

And then, finally, Republicans will realize what they should have realized after Super Tuesday. The race is over. John McCain will be the nominee.


The Barack Obama wave will continue on Tuesday. He’ll win substantial victories in Maryland and D.C. and he will win Virginia, though his margin of victory may be smaller than recent polls have shown.

The Democratic Delegate race will continue to be tight, but with Obama continuing to rack up victories, it’s hard to see how the superdelegates will be able to go against the will of their party.

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:


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.


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 ?

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:


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.


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.

Florida Primary/State Of The Race Wrap-Up And Wednesday Open Thread

Given the news that’s breaking this morning, about which there is more below, it’s fairly clear that the race for the Republican and Democratic nomination have both entered their final phase, and things are turning out far differently than we thought they would one month, or even two weeks, ago.


John McCain is now the frontrunner in the Republican race and, thanks to Rudy Giuliani’s pending endorsement, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine a scenario where he won’t be the nominee after the dust clears. Of the remaining candidates, Mitt Romney is the only one in a position to beat McCain but, as long he continues splitting the anti-McCain vote with Mike Huckabee, he’ll slip further and further behind. By the time next Wednesday rolls around, McCain won’t be the nominee yet, but he’ll be pretty darn close.

So get used to it folks, John McCain will be the Republican nominee.


Outside of Hillary making it fairly obvious last night that she intended to go back on her promise and fight to have Florida’s delegates seated at the convention, it didn’t seem like there’d be any big news about the Democratic race today.

Then, John Edwards decided to drop out of the race. He’ll announce his decision today in New Orleans and apparently won’t be formally endorsing anyone at this time. Nonetheless, his withdrawal will change the nature of the Democratic race significantly as people try to figure out where his supporters will go.

My guess is that Edwards supporters are more likely to go to Obama than Hillary. By supporting Edwards to begin with, they’ve already demonstrated that they are against Clinton to some extent so the idea that they’d run happily into their arms seems unlikely. Moreover, Obama’s message has been more similar to Edwards’ than Clinton’s has to the extent that, at recent debates, it sometimes seemed like Edwards and Obama were double-teaming Hillary. Combined with the Kennedy endorsement and all the resources that provides, this could be enough to put Barack Obama over the top.

So, here’s the question, in a race between Barack Obama and John McCain, and assuming for the moment that Ron Paul will not run on a third-party ticket, which one would be the better choice, assuming there is one ?

Nevada/South Carolina Predictions And Saturday Open Thread

Once again, I tread into the dangerous and, so far unsuccessful, world of prediction.

In this case, today’s South Carolina Republican Primary and Nevada Caucuses.

First Nevada:


  1. Barack Obama
  2. Hillary Clinton
  3. John Edwards

The current polls show Clinton with a slight edge, but caucuses are harder to poll than primaries and I think Obama will win based on a combination of his endorsement from the Culinary Workers Union and resentment over the efforts of Clinton’s backers in the Teacher’s Union to stop the casino caucus sites.


  1. Mitt Romney
  2. John McCain
  3. Mike Huckabee
  4. Rudy Giuliani
  5. Ron Paul
  6. Fred Thompson

Nothing too surprising here. Nevada has over 100,000 Mormons, so that gives Romney a fairly substantial base to work with. The only change I could see to the above would be if more Ron Paul supporters come out than predicted and push him into 4th place instead of 5th.

And, finally, South Carolina:

  1. John McCain
  2. Mike Huckabee
  3. Fred Thompson
  4. Mitt Romney
  5. Ron Paul
  6. Rudy Giuliani

Late polls show Huckabee closing on McCain, but the more interesting question will be if Thompson is able to do better than expected. A strong third would be good for him, but second place is what his campaign really needs.

As always, feel free to criticize.

Wednesday Open Thread: So, Now What ?

With Mitt Romney’s win in Michigan last night, we are now at the point where three separate candidates have won the first three contests of the Republican Nomination race. Hucabkee won Iowa, McCain won New Hampshire, and Romney surprised everyone with a strong win in Michigan.

So, what happens next ?

Mitt Romney: A win in Michigan means that Romney is in the race for awhile. Had he lost, it would have been hard to justify staying in through Super Tuesday.  Right now, he’s locked in a four way tie in Florida and a victory there could put him in the front of the pack.

John McCain: If McCain had won in Michigan, he would have had a strong claim to the title of Republican frontrunner. Now, he’s got to win in South Carolina and keep Giuliani from winning in Florida if he’s going to  have a shot at the nomination.

Mike Huckabee:  Tax Hike Mike is competitive with McCain in South Carolina and part of the four way tie in Florida. But I can’t help have the nagging feeling that he peaked too early.

Fred Thompson: Last week, after New Hampshire, he said that South Carolina was a do or die state for him. Well, barring a miracle over the next three days, it looks like he’s going to die. Look for Thompson to drop out and endorse his buddy McCain.

Rudy Giuliani: If Huckabee peaked too early last month, Giuliani’s mistake was bigger because he peaked last year. He’s been on the decline everywhere ever since the voting started and, unless he pulls of a win in Florida, is not going  to be a factor going forward. Heck, Giuliani can’t even beat Ron Paul.

Ron Paul: The Paul campaign did do better in Michigan than it has elsewhere in one respect; it was the first time they’ve made it to fourth place. In terms of overall percentage of the vote, though, they’ve gone downhill from the start — 10% in Iowa, just under 8% in New Hampshire, and 6% in Michigan. I don’t see things getting any better any time soon. In both Nevada and South Carolina, he’s polling at the bottom of the pack. The same is true of Florida.

As always, feel free to disagree.

New Hampshire Post-Mortem And Wednesday Open Thread

While it’s ultimate impact on the Presidential race has yet to be determined, the New Hampshire Presidential Primary is over and it’s time to figure out what happened.

On the Republican side, we had, as expected, a repeat of 2000 for John McCain:

MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan. 8 — Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the early Republican front-runner whose campaign imploded last summer, handily won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, dealing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney his second loss in the GOP nomination contest.

McCain’s victory amounts to a dramatic resurrection for the 71-year-old veteran of presidential politics and further scrambles a Republican race that now moves to Michigan and South Carolina. After New Hampshire, the fight for a new Republican standard-bearer remains a wide-open contest.

Given the way the polls had been going, this wasn’t much of a surprise. And, as I noted on Monday, it leaves the Republican field wide-open heading into Michigan and South Carolina. As of today, two men, Mike Huckabee and John McCain, have the best argument for claiming that they are the frontrunner in the race. Yes, Mitt Romney won the Wyoming caucus, but that race was barely contested and, more importantly, participation was limited to a handful of party insiders.

So, now we move on to Michigan and South Carolina, and Romney has to win one of them. For months, Romeny was leading in what is arguably is other home state (his father was Governor there in the 1960s), but that lead started to slip away in early December and is probably gone by now. If he loses Michigan, Romney may as well drop out of the race.

As for McCain, as I said on Monday, he faces pretty much the same problem he did back in 2000. Back then, he won New Hampshire but then lost South Carolina and his campaign pretty much fell apart. The difference between today and eight years ago, though, is that McCain was the maverick outsider in 2000; in 2008 he is arguably the closest thing to an Establishment candidate in the race. To the extent that Republican insiders are looking for someone to stop Mike Huckabee — and given Romney’s collapse and Giuliani’s implosion — the person they will look to is John McCain.

On the Democratic side, things turned out a lot differently than anyone thought:

MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan. 8 — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton narrowly won the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday night, a surprise victory for the onetime front-runner that revived her sagging fortunes and reshaped yet again the fight for the party’s nomination.

“Over the last week I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice,” Clinton (N.Y.) said at her victory rally, embracing a newly emotional campaign style that appeared to fuel her turnaround here. “Let’s give America the kind of comeback New Hampshire has just given me.”

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who had anticipated a second consecutive win after his Iowa caucus triumph last Thursday, conceded shortly before 11 p.m. “We always knew our climb would be steep,” he told supporters, a day after he had confidently told backers that he was “riding a wave” to a win here. Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) placed a distant third, followed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

The question, of course, is why this happened. Every single poll up until Tuesday morning showed Barack Obama ahead, the only question seemed to be how large his margin of victory would be and how much longer Hillary could stay in the race.

Boy was that one wrong. “Dewey Defeats Truman” wrong.

So, what happened ? Looking at the exit polls, it’s clear that what put Clinton over the top was the fact that women moved back into her camp:

Forty-three percent of self-styled independents said they voted for Obama, and 31 percent said they backed Clinton. Independents made up 43 percent of all voters polled.

Addressing his roaring supporters after the race was called, Obama congratulated Clinton. But he was a candidate determined to draw a distinction between he and Clinton.

“But the reason our campaign has always been different, the reason we began this improbable journey almost a year ago, is because it’s not just about what I will do as president,” he said. “It is also about what you, the people who love this country, the citizens of the United States of America, can do to change it. That’s what this election is all about.”

But Clinton was ahead of Obama 45 percent to 34 percent among those who said they were registered Democrats. Those voters made up a majority — 54 percent — of all respondents.

Clinton also claimed the majority of women’s votes, according to the polling. That’s in contrast to last week’s Iowa caucuses, in which Obama surprised observers by stealing the female vote from Clinton.

Analysts say that shift among female voters was crucial to the Clinton turnaround. “If I had a single word, the word would be ‘women,’ ” said CNN political analyst Bill Schneider. “She got the women back.”

There are many theories that can be put forward to explain what happened, but there’s really only one that makes sense to me —- the crying jag worked. Get out the Kleenex.

So now what ?

There is a primary in Michigan next week, but there’s not really a contest on the Democratic side. When Michigan moved up it’s primary to January 15th, the DNC punished the state by decertifying all of its delegates. The only candidate who’s name will be on the ballot next week is Hillary Clinton, and voters won’t be able to write in any of the other candidates. So Michigan is meaningless, for the Democrats at least.

Barack Obama is leading in South Carolina, and will probably win there. Hillary, though, leads in Nevada and Florida. Which means that the big showdown will be on February 5th, and I wouldn’t count Clinton out this time.

So that’s how the horse race shapes up.

What does it all mean ? That’s what the open thread is for. Discuss.

Monday Open Thread: New Hampshire Predictions And Commentary

When I tried this before the Iowa Caucuses, my predictions beyond the actual winner proved to be slightly less than accurate, but nonetheless, here are some predictions of how things will turn out tomorrow in the Granite State.


  1. Barack Obama
  2. Hillary Clinton
  3. John Edwards
  4. Bill Richardson
  5. Everybody else (assuming Kucinich and/or Gravel are even on the ballot)

Given the polls that came out over the weekend, Obama’s victory over Clinton seems to be assured barring a major change in the next 24 hours.

What is more interesting is what happens after tomorrow night.

Contrary to what some in the press are saying, a loss in New Hampshire will not mean the end of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She still has a lot of money to play with, the support of most of the major players in the Democratic Party, not to mention commanding leads in delegate rich states like California and Florida. Two losses in a row will be wounding to Clinton, but they won’t be fatal as long as Clinton still has the money and support that she had before the voting started.

After New Hampshire, the Democratic race moves to Michigan, and then South Carolina. The polls have Clinton ahead in both states, but those polls were conducted nearly a month ago and it’s quite likely that things have changed significantly since then. South Carolina, for example, has been mentioned as a state that Obama has a chance at winning.

This much is certain. The Democratic race is now a two-person race between Clinton and Obama (sorry John Edwards). The question is whether Obama’s surge will continue to chip away at Hillary’s previously insurmountable lead in the Super Tuesday states.


  1. John McCain
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. Ron Paul
  4. Mike Huckabee
  5. Rudy Giuliani
  6. Fred Thompson

Again, the top spot in the Republican race is rather easy to predict because John McCain has surged ahead of Mitt Romney to an extent that seems insurmountable.

When it comes to the rest of the field, though, I may be letting my hopes get the better of me here, because the polls consistently show Huckabee inching into third place ahead of Ron Paul. However, if there is any state in the nation where Ron Paul can be said to have a natural constituency, it’s New Hampshire. So, I’m going to predict that he’ll come up with enough committed supporters to put him in a surprising, if distant, third place behind McCain and Romney.

This much is true, though, if Paul doesn’t end up doing something surprising tomorrow, the media is going to stop paying attention to his campaign and start spending their time on candidates who actually have a chance at winning the nomination.

Coming out of New Hampshire, the Republicans will be in the uncomfortable position of having as many as four contenders for the nomination.

  • Mike Huckabee won Iowa and is polling well in South Carolina, and Florida.
  • Mitt Romney, though he will be severely weakened by losing yet another primary he had wrapped up a month ago, won the Wyoming Caucuses, has a ton of money, and is polling well in Michigan and Nevada.
  • Rudy Giuliani continues to lead in Florida, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He’s also got a ton of money and party support, but he needs to win a primary soon, otherwise he’s likely to see his supporters drifting to……
  • John McCain, who is poised to repeat his feat of eight years ago and win the New Hampshire primary. The question is where he goes from there. Back in 2000, the Straight Talk Express was derailed when Bush beat McCain in South Carolina, and McCain could never find the support in the South and West that he would have needed to beat Bush. If it’s going to come this time, McCain is going to have to make a run for Giuliani’s supporters.

Sorry Ron Paul supporters, but even if he does come in third in New Hampshire, Ron Paul still won’t be a frontrunner for the nomination. To be a frontrunner, you have to at least win something somewhere and, outside of the Granite State, there isn’t any state in the country where Paul seems likely to come in third, never mind win.

As always, feel free to criticize

Pre-Caucus Open Thread And Predictions

Here is my best educated guess of how things will pan out at the end of the night tonight. This is just order of finish, not percentages. On that end, I think we’ll see some pretty tight numbers between 3rd through 5th place on the Republican side and among the top three on the Democratic side. Depending on turnout, the order could easily be different.


  1. Mike Huckabee
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. John McCain
  4. Ron Paul
  5. Fred Thompson
  6. Rudy Giuliani


  1. Barack Obama
  2. Hillary Clinton
  3. John Edwards
  4. Bill Richardson
  5. Joe Biden
  6. Chris Dodd

Feel free to criticize my guesses and make your own, and we’ll all check back tomorrow.

Open Thread: How Do We Stop Mike Huckabee?

Today’s open thread is about how those of who support limited government can stop Mike Huckabee.

To spur the creative juices, here’s Mike at his finest:

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Sunday Open Thread: Understanding The Bitterness

Mark at Publius Endures throws some questions to that sub-set of Ron Paul supporters who have reacted to any sign of disagreement as a personal afront — something we’ve seen here in comment threads like this one, this one, and this one:

As I and a number of other libertarian bloggers who question Ron Paul on some things have found out, there seems to be a mentality that if you don’t support every word that Ron Paul says, you are inherently anti-liberty and anti-freedom. Isn’t this exactly the kind of “you’re either with us or you’re against us” mentality that libertarianism seeks to avoid, and that would usually be defined as “collectivism”?


How does launching into ad hominems against any person who criticizes a Ron Paul position help the Ron Paul campaign? Shouldn’t your goal be to gain their support or at least encourage them to continue giving Ron Paul free publicity?

If your goal is to silence Ron Paul’s critics, then isn’t that quite the opposite of freedom? If your goal is to persuade them, then how does name-calling and baseless accusations about motive make a persuasive case?

I’ve often wondered the same thing myself. So, tell me, what do you think ?

Open Thread: Justifiable Homicide Or Murder ?

This is a cross-post from Below The Beltway. It doesn’t directly relate to issues of individual liberty, but it raises some interesting questions about when the private use of force is justifiable that should provide a worthwhile discussion here.

A case out of Pasadena Texas raises some interesting questions about when it is justifiable for a private citizen to use deadly force:

(CBS) The 911 call came from a Pasadena, Tex., resident, who alerted police to two burglary suspects on a neighbor’s property. Before he hung up, two men were dead by his hand.

Joe Horn, 61, told the dispatcher what he intended to do: Walk out his front door with a shotgun.

“I’ve got a shotgun,” Horn said, according to a tape of the 911 call. “Do you want me to stop them?”

“Nope, don’t do that – ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?” the dispatcher responded.

After several minutes on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, during which Horn became more and more agitated, things get more serious:

On the tape of the 911 call, the shotgun can be heard being cocked and Horn can be heard going outside and confronting someone.

“Boom! You’re dead!” he shouts. A loud bang is heard, then a shotgun being cocked and fired again, and then again.

Then Horn is back on the phone:

“Get the law over here quick. I’ve now, get, one of them’s in the front yard over there, he’s down, he almost run down the street. I had no choice. They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice! … Get somebody over here quick, man.”

Dispatcher: “Mister Horn, are you out there right now?”

Horn: “No, I am inside the house, I went back in the house. Man, they come right in my yard, I didn’t know what the — they was gonna do, I shot ‘em, OK?”

Dispatcher: “Did you shoot somebody?

Horn: “Yes, I did, the cops are here right now.”

Dispatcher: “Where are you right now?”

Horn: “I’m inside the house. …”

Dispatcher: “Mister Horn, put that gun down before you shoot an officer of mine. I’ve got several officers out there without uniforms on.”

Horn: “I am in the front yard right now. I am …”

Dispatcher: “Put that gun down! There’s officers out there without uniforms on. Do not shoot anybody else, do you understand me? I’ve got police out there…”

Horn: “I understand, I understand. I am out in the front yard waving my hand right now.”

Dispatcher: “You don’t have a gun with you, do you?

Horn: “No, no, no.”

Dispatcher: “You see a uniformed officer? Now lay down on the ground and don’t do nothing else.”

Yelling is heard.

Dispatcher: “Lay down on the ground, Mister Horn. Do what the officers tell you to do right now.”

Here’s the problem. There’s no evidence that at the time Horn shot both men there was an threat either to him or his property, or that he could reasonably have said to be in danger of losing his life. What was happening was two men who had broken into a neighbors house were getting away and the police weren’t showing up.

So, what it reasonable and justifiable for Horn to shoot to death two bunglers who had stolen stuff from his neighbors property ?

Apparently, under Texas law at least, the answer is murky:

Under Texas law, people may use deadly force to protect their own property or to stop arson, burglary, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night.

But the legislator who authored the “castle doctrine” bill told the Chronicle it was never intended to apply to a neighbor’s property, to prompt a “‘Law West of the Pecos’ mentality or action,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Wentworth. “You’re supposed to be able to defend your own home, your own family, in your house, your place of business or your motor vehicle.”

Based on that, it appears that what Horn comes closer to murder than justifiable homicide.

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