Fred Thompson Accuses Bush Administration in Second Amendment Court Case

This post is an overview of an article on RedState, a conservative blog site. A link to RedState can be found on my blogroll under My Favorites.

The article starts by stating that gun rights advocates were “understandably dismayed” by the brief the Bush Administration’s Justice Department submitted in District of Columbia v. Heller. Being a gun owner, I am understandably dismayed as well. This is the biggest Second Amendment case to be argued since 1939.

The Department of Justice’s brief called for a remanding of the case for the reconsideration of D.C.’s gun laws under a “less demanding” constitutional standard. Given the Bush Administration’s stated support for an “individual rights” view of the Second Amendment, I too would find it “incomprehensible” that the Bush Administration would not support the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision holding that Washington, D.C.’s draconian gun restrictions are unconstitutional.

Although I certainly agree that the Department of Justice’s brief is a potentially unwelcome development in the 2008 Presidential race, I do not really think it will have much effect on American gun owners’ support for at least two of the GOP candidates.

I think Fred Thompson’s position on the Second Amendment is crystal clear to everyone:

“I strongly support the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Gun control is touted as a major crime-control measure. But some of the places with the strictest gun-control laws also have high violent-crime rates. Disarming law-abiding citizens does not prevent crime. The answer to violent crime is smart, effective, and aggressive law enforcement. The real effect of these gun-control measures is to place onerous restrictions on law-abiding citizens who use firearms for such legal activities as self-defense, sport shooting, hunting, and collecting.”

I am committed to strictly enforcing existing laws and severely punishing violent criminals and protecting the rights individual Americans enjoy under the Second Amendment.

Fred Thompson also asks:

“How is it that one man with two handguns could reload time & time again, and go from classroom to classroom on the Virginia Tech campus without being stopped. Much of the answer can be found in policies put in place by the university itself.”

“Virginia allows citizens with training and legal permits to carry concealed weapons. That means that Virginians regularly sit in movie theaters and eat in restaurants among armed citizens.”

“The statistics are clear. Communities that recognize and grant Second Amendment rights to responsible adults have a significantly lower incidence of violent crime than those that do not. Incarcerated criminals tell criminologists that they consider local gun laws when they decide what sort of crime they will commit, and where they will do so.”

“But Virginia Tech administrators overrode Virginia state law and threatened to expel or fire anybody who brings a weapon onto campus. Those “Gun-free Zone” signs don’t mean much to the sort of man who murdered 32 people.”

And … although I personally have some other issues with Mike Huckabee as a candidate, his position on gun control is also pretty clear:

“My position on the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is as clear for me as the position held by most journalists toward the 1st Amendment. While I do not consider myself a “gun nut,” I proudly own a variety of firearms and enjoy hunting as well as sports shooting. But even if I were not a hunter or did not enjoy shooting, I would still be a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment right of Americans to own firearms for self-protection and as a matter of principle.”

Gov. Mike Huckabee said that he would support legislation in Arkansas for a law like one passed in Florida last year to protect citizens who use deadly force in self-defense against criminal prosecution and civil liability. Huckabee told a caller to his monthly radio show that he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and believes “there is an absolute right that people have to protect themselves and even their property.”

According to the article on RedState, Fred Thompson is the only GOP candidate that has taken notice of the Department of Justice’s brief (We already know where the Democratic candidates stand). The article states that Fred Thompson has “accused the administration of ‘overlawyering’ the case.”

The author is absolutely correct when he states … if an individual rights view of the Second Amendment cannot prohibit an outright ban on handgun possession, there is certainly not going to be much left of the other rights it purportedly protects.

Fred Thompson stated that he opposed the remand and that he feels the case should simply move forward in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The D.C. District Court, in an opinion written by Justice Silberman, struck down the D.C. ban on the possession (even in one’s own home) of handguns . Silberman ruled that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to protect one’s self and one’s home and … that right pre-dates the Constitution.

Good for Justice Silberman … the right to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property does exist simply as a “God-given” or “natural” right.

The article goes on to say that strict scrutiny would already allow regulations to prohibit arms of mass destruction, simply as a compelling public interest, and that, there is no need for “fact finding.” The article states that “fact finding” is simply a ruse … a delaying tactic. The U.S. Supreme Court can and should decide this issue based on the relevant constitutional principle.

The author stating that, while he himself has never owned a gun, he has always considered it obvious that it is a right granted by God to defend one’s self and family. You know … one of those pesky “inalienable rights” that trouble left-wing secular-progressive liberals so much!

I do not, however, agree with the article that the meaning of the second amendment is debatable from a lot of angles, I think it is pretty cut and dried if you read the writings of many of the Founding Fathers about the Second Amendment:

“The right of the people to keep and bear…arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country…” (James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 [June 8, 1789])

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (James Madison, The Federalist Papers #46 at 243-244)

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always distinguished the free citizens of these States….Such men form the best barrier to the liberties of America” – (Gazette of the United States, October 14, 1789.)

“No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” (Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334,[C.J.Boyd, Ed., 1950])

“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable . . . the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good” (George Washington)

“A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves…and include all men capable of bearing arms.” (Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer (1788) at 169)

Those founders who signed the Declaration of Independence would certainly not deny We the People the MEANS to preserve our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and certainly that would be the case if only criminals and our government were armed.

We must, in fact, never let the left-wing liberal elites get by with the claim that only they can tell us what the Constitution means. Left-wing liberal elites do indeed like to construct an edifice of words to make things much complicated than they are simply as a means to give themselves more power.

The U.S. Constitution is not that hard to understand as written … if you take the time to carefully read it. It is not even very long … and I agree that Fred Thompson certainly does get it.

As a humorous (or ironic) side note:

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are 700,000 physicians in the US and the number of accidental deaths caused by them per year is about 120,000, making the accidental death rate per physician 17%.

Using that same logic, there are about 80 million gun owners, and the number of accidental gun deaths per year among all age groups is 1,500. The same calculation reveals the number of accidental deaths per gun owner to be 0.00188%.

In other words, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners. Yet, I hear no one suggesting we ban doctors.

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Fred Thompson Is The Right Man At The Right Time

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Fred Thompson, the former Republican Senator from Tennessee, is perhaps America’s brightest and most capable prospect for President in 2008. I believe this so strongly, that for the first time in my life, I have actually donated money to a presidential campaign fund.  Why do I feel so strongly about this?  Let me give you a few reasons. 

I think that there are perhaps three candidates in this race that are genuinely sincere in their intentions and are not simply driven by personal ambition. These three candidates are concerned about this country’s future and the future we will leave to our children. These candidates are Ron Paul, Barack Obama, and Fred Thompson.

The rest, in my opinion, are instead, driven by ambition, and would sell this country out in a New York minute if it would help them further their personal goals. We all know how ambitious Hillary Clinton is. Her record speaks for itself. She said it herself … American cannot afford my ideas. Do you want to talk about sky rocketing taxes?

John McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts, will certainly raise taxes, and says he is against amnesty for illegal immigrants while endorsing a plan that lets illegals stay here.

Mike Huckabee is a social liberal and will certainly raise taxes. There is also some question about his claim to hold a Theology degree. Did he lie about that?Mitt Romney was pro-choice, and is now pro-life. Will he be pro-life after he is elected? I am less concerned with which he is is, and more concerned about … flip flopping. He reminds me a lot of John Kerry. I think he is still a liberal at heart. How conservative can he really be … he was elected in Massachusetts!

Fred Thompson has been basically dismissed by the liberal press.  He has been labeled by the dutiful liberal political pundits as  lazy, lacking in fire, and unimaginative.  By attempting to dismiss Fred Thompson as a lightweight, they hope to sway shallow voters who don’t really pay attention to issues and make their decision on popularity. But, Fred Thompson is a man who knows who he is; he takes serious issues seriously and dismisses the trivial. 

How many times have we heard a candidate say “I agree with Fred Thompson?” That should give folks a clue!

Ron Paul

Like Ron Paul, who I think is well meaning, Fred Thompson is a Constitutionalist. Fred Thompson believes in the “less is more” theory of government. But unlike Ron Paul, Thompson understands that the best defense is a good offense, and that “peace through strength” is best way to keep America safe. Ron Paul’s policy of withdrawing our forces from the world scene would simply make America a sitting duck.

Thompson is the only candidate that believes in the Consitution as it is written, peace through superior firepower, cutting taxes and government spending, and securing our borders with no amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama is, I believe, sincere in his motives. But … he supports a giant welfare state and you know he will raise taxes … he will have to. He, like Ron Paul, is simply too much the idealist. How can a candidate who wants to be president of this country refuse to salute the flag of the country he wants to be president of? Doesn’t anyone else see an issue here? I want an American President who is not ashamed of patriotism … of being an American!

Many Americans probably recognize Fred Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC’s “Law & Order,” or maybe from one of his big-screen roles like “Hunt for Red October,”

But who is Fred Thompson really? … what are his bona fides?

Thompson earned his J.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1967, and had a private law practice. He later served as an assistant U.S. attorney. He made his reputation weeding out corruption. After his prominent role as Republican counsel during Watergate, it was Thompson’s 1977 investigation that toppled the crooked administration of Tennessee Democrat Gov. Ray “Pardon Me” Blanton.

In 1980, Thompson was chosen to serve as special counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and in 1982, special counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In 1993, Tennessee’s Republican leadership convinced Thompson to return to public service in a campaign bid to fill the vacant Senate term of then Vice President Albert Gore. In spite of all the support Bill Clinton and Al Gore gave popular six-term Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper, Thompson won a landslide victory in 1994, winning 61 percent of the vote to Cooper’s 39 percent.

Thompson’s record as a U.S. Senator clearly shows that he was on the conservative side of every important issue. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1997 to 2001, he voted for national-debt reduction, the all-important balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a presidential line-item veto to eliminate congressional pork and efforts to privatize elements of Social Security.

Thompson supported legislation in the interest of free enterprise and opposed many regulatory and tax measures. He opposed growth in social-welfare programs, including expansions in Medicare and welfare for immigrants. He supported efforts to decentralize or disenfranchise unconstitutional government programs.

Fred Thompson voted for limits on death penalty appeals, product-liability punitive-damage awards and class-action lawsuits. He opposed decreasing restrictions on wiretaps. He supported increased oil exploration, and is an advocate of free trade …. understanding the important implications for national security.

He also supported an amendment to prohibit flag burning and voted for numerous measures in support of Second Amendment rights.

On family and social issues, Thompson opposed “marriage” between homosexuals, partial-birth abortions, cloning, the addition of “sexual orientation” to hate-crimes legislation as well as legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted for many education-reform measures, including the provision of school vouchers.

Especially important for the security of this country, Fred Thompson’s support for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom was, and unlike some others … remains, steadfast. Thompson has the authoritative grasp of national-security issues necessary to be a commander in chief, particularly with respect to the long-term jihadi threat.

Fred Thompson is the man to elect in November ’08. I hope you will give him serious consideration!

Spanish Criminal System Fails in Terror Bombing Trials

Many critics of the Bush administration, pointing to the absence of successful new terrorist attacks on U.S. territory since 9/11, have decided that the terrorist threat has actually been greatly exaggerated. Despite reports in the media to the contrary, they simply cannot find it within themselves to offer any credit to our government’s counterterrorism efforts. Therefore, they argue that it is time to do away with the Bush administration’s extraordinary measures such as military commissions, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (see Rasul v. Bush (2004): A flawed Decision.), and warrant-less wiretaps.

A few of these so-called experts have maintained that the best approach is to charge terrorists with crimes and try them, or let them go. Some shortsighted thinkers may consider this an extremely noble human rights policy, but as recent events in Spain have proven, it is actually a criminally negligent approach to ensuring public safety.

On March 11, 2004, 191 people were killed and more than 2000 were wounded in a terrorist bomb attack on Madrid’s Atocha train station. The Madrid bombing, along with the 2005 London bombings stand as two of the deadliest terrorist attacks committed in large Western cities since 9/11.

One American, Kenneth Anderson, was living in Madrid with his family at the time of the bombing. Kenneth Anderson is a member of the Hoover Institution task force on international security and law and a professor at American University, Washington College of Law. Ironically, Anderson was on a sabbatical to study, somewhat ironically, the legal responses to terrorism in Europe. Anderson wrote that the “reaction in Spain to the bombings was a curious mixture of fatalism and appeasement, publicly cast as stoic defiance.” It basically amounted to collectively sticking their heads in the sand and hoping the threat would go away.

I doubt that it was simply a coincidence that the Madrid bombing preceded the Spanish presidential election by a couple of days. After the bombing, a decision was rapidly reached that the terrorists were simply not the problem. They decided that the problem, instead, was Spain’s participation in the Bush administration’s War on Terror and the Spanish troops present in Iraq. In what can only honestly be described as a move to appease the terrorists, Spain’s newly elected Prime Minister José Louis Rodríguez Zapatero wasted no time in pulling Spanish troops from Iraq.

It is interesting to point out that, despite Spain’s attempts to appease the terrorists and thus ensure their national security, new wires were discovered a few weeks later strung across the Seville-Madrid rail line in preparation for another bombing attempt. This would seem to me to cast a shadow of doubt on the efficacy of the “safety through appeasement” theory of dealing with terrorists; and also suggests that the terrorists may have other loftier goals beyond simply securing Spain’s withdrawal from Iraq.

Although the actual bombers blew themselves up in a barricaded apartment rather than face capture after being tracked down by security forces, the police had managed to gather extensive evidence on their mainly Moroccan organizers, planners, and controllers. Twenty-eight suspects were arrested, held for investigation, and three-years later tried on charges that included murder, supplying explosives, conspiracy, and membership in a terrorist organization. In a country with a criminal system that is known for being friendly to prosecutors, you would think that swift justice would prevail. However, that is not exactly what happened.

What went wrong … you may ask? Since not one of the 28 suspects confessed, Spanish prosecutors had to rely on massive circumstantial evidence, such as important telephone conversations gathered in third-party countries like Italy. It also seems that the command and control, planning and coordination roles played in the bombing attack by the twenty-eight suspects, although uncontroverted by serious security experts, proved too elusive to satisfy the strict requirements of an ordinary criminal justice system geared toward dealing with ordinary criminals.

Fernando Reinares, formally the Spanish government’s senior counterterrorism stated that the trial judge simply would not admit “the extraordinary mass of circumstantial evidence” which is “crucial when you are trying members of a nebulous group of international terrorists.”

On October 31, 2007, the Spanish court handed down its verdicts. Spanish prosecutors were only able to secure three murder convictions out of the 28 indictments. Convictions were obtained for several defendants on lesser charges, while others were acquitted for lack of evidence. If not for the provision in Spanish law making mere membership in a terrorist organization a crime, the Spanish criminal system would have had even less to show for their efforts. These results are not promising with regard to punishing terrorists; a point clearly understood by Spanish people in general, and the families of the 191 dead and more then 2,000 wounded in particular. Results such as these would also seem, at least to me, to promise little effectiveness in the way of deterring or preventing future terrorist attacks.

However, the message I think Jihadist observers will get from this trial is that they can beat the system. It teaches them that if they can manage somehow to keep any legal accountability for their heinous acts limited to ordinary Western criminal justice systems, then they will have little to worry about. They sure seem to have enough allies among shortsighted American liberals to succeed in this endeavor.

To the rest of us, however, the Madrid verdicts should act as a stern warning to us that the ordinary criminal justice system, even one as prosecutorially friendly as Spain’s, is simply not capable of ensuring the public safety or administering justice to people who do bad things, not for personal gain, but instead for their God and the promise of making it with seventy-two virgins in paradise.

Islamic terrorists leave behind a totally different kind of footprint than ordinary criminals, and it is a footprint that our conventional criminal justice systems cannot adequately process. It certainly seems to me that this is one situation where it would be far wiser and far less costly to learn from another country’s mistake … than to make the same mistake again for ourselves.

RASUL v. BUSH (2004): A dangerously flawed decision!

In the recent GOP debate held in South Carolina and sponsored by Fox News, Fred Thompson called Mike Huckabee to task for his support of closing the U.S Naval facility at Guantanomo Bay in Cuba and moving the detainees to a facility in the U.S. Mike Huckabee defended his support for closing down the facility and moving the detainees; stating that the issue had been resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul v. Bush back in 2004. However, Rasul v. Bush is a dangerously flawed decision and needs to be challenged and overturned. Hopefully, that will happen before our Nation’s ability to protect itself is seriously undermined.

In November of 2001, President Bush signed an executive order authorizing the formation of military tribunals for the detention and trial of foreign nationals apprehended in the “war on terrorism.” In early 2002, the relatives of 12 Kuwaiti nationals filed petitions of habeas corpus with the federal district court for the District of Columbia. These writs challenged the U.S. government’s practice of indefinitely holding foreign nationals captured in Afghanistan during the war against the Taliban regime and Al Qaeda in detention facilities without due process of the law. The detainees had been designated enemy combatants and therefore did not have access to counsel, the right to a trial, or knowledge of the charges against them.

The federal district court found that it lacked jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus for aliens detained outside the sovereign territory of the United States and dismissed the actions with prejudice. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, citing Johnson v. Eisentrager (1950), affirmed the decision, stating that nonresident enemy aliens have no access to American courts during wartime.

The Supreme Court, over the administration’s objections, agreed in November 2003 to hear the cases of the Guantánamo Bay detainees, specifically Rasul v. Bush and al Odah v. United States. It is not hard to figure which of the nine Supreme Court judges probably voted in favor of hearing this case. The arguments were heard on April 20, 2004.

The question before the U.S Supreme Court was, do the courts of the United States have the jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba?

In a 6-3 decision, the liberal activist members of the Court, relishing the opportunity to present President Bush a judicial slap on the wrist, found that the degree of control exercised by the United States over the Guantanamo Bay military base was sufficient to warrant the application of habeas corpus rights. Citing a sketchy list of precedents going back to mid-17th Century English Common Law cases, the Court found that the right to habeas corpus can be exercised in “all … dominions under the sovereign’s control.” Because the United States exercised “complete jurisdiction and control” over the base, the fact that ultimate sovereignty remained with Cuba was irrelevant. Further, the Court found that the right to habeas corpus is not dependent on citizenship status. The detainees were therefore free to bring suit challenging their detention as unconstitutional.

Choosing to follow real precedent and sound legal principles, Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justice Thomas, and Justice Scalia dissent, stating in their opinion:

  1. The Court today holds that the habeas statute extends to aliens detained by the United States military overseas, outside the sovereign borders of the United States and beyond the territorial jurisdiction of all its courts. This is not only a novel holding, but also one that also contradicts a half-century –old precedent on which the military undoubtedly relied. The Court’s contention that Eisentrager was somehow negated by Braden, a decision that dealt with a different issue and did not even mention Eisentrager is implausible to the extreme.
  2. By spurious reliance on Braden, the Court evades explaining why stare decisis can be disregarded and why Eisentrager was wrong. Normally, we consider the interests of those who have relied on our decisions. Instead, today the Court springs a trap on the Executive, subjecting Guantanamo Bay to the oversight of the federal courts even though it as never before been thought to be within their jurisdiction.
  3. Departure from our rule of stare decisis in statutory cases is always extraordinary; it ought to be unthinkable when the departure has a potentially harmful effect on the Nation’s conduct of a war. The Commander in Chief and his subordinates had every reason to expect that the internment of combatants at Guantanamo Bay would not have the consequences of bringing the cumbersome machinery of our domestic courts into military affairs.

Though shallow-thinking left-wing secular-progressive liberals certainly lauded this decision as a check on President Bush’s “arrogant abuse” of executive power by the judicial branch of the government, this decision will negatively affect the ability of the Executive and the military to protect the citizens of this country from future attacks by radical Muslim extremist groups or any other potential enemy or aggressor.

This case could have been guided solely by the interpretation of the habeas statute itself. This statute states “Writs of habeas corpus may be granted by the Supreme Court, any justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit judge within their respective jurisdictions. I would think that the meaning of this statute should be fairly clear to most intelligent people.

Our military maintains a presence in many forms in many locations around the globe. We have “de facto” control over what happens in those locations as well. However, are we to consider them all sovereign U.S. Territory? Guantanamo Bay is certainly outside of U.S. territory, and is therefore not within the respective jurisdiction of any district court.

There is also a very good case in precedent for this decision which Justice Scalia’s pointed to in his dissenting opinion. In Johnson v. Eisentrager, (1950), foreign detainees captured in China and detained in Germany sought habeas corpus review. The Eisentrager Court held that aliens who are not present within U.S. territorial jurisdiction couldn’t seek the writ.

Despite the clear language of the habeas statute and clearly applicable Supreme Court precedent, this Supreme Court decided that, as Justice Scalia states in his dissent, any enemy combatant being held by the United States in a foreign country during a state of war may now bring a petition against the Secretary of Defense.

If this decision does stand, in the future we may actually have to detain all captured enemy combatants within the United States’ borders; because this decision also gives enemy combatants held in foreign lands a big advantage over detainees held within U.S. territory. Detainees within the United States are limited to bringing their claims to a court in the district in which they are held. Terrorists detained in foreign lands, however, now suffer no such limitations. Terrorists now have the ability to choose the most “terrorist-friendly” courts in our judicial system. Given the Ninth Circuit’s rather extreme left ideological slant, it would seem rather likely that it will become the court of choice by terrorists involved in any future trials.

In 1950, the Supreme Court seemed to understand these implications. That is why, in Eisentrager, the Court held that such trials would not only hamper the war effort, but also, in effect, bring aid and comfort to the enemy. I think we would be hard pressed to imagine a more effective means of handicapping our commanders in the field, than to allow the same enemy they are charged with defeating to bring action against them in our own civil courts. It seems to me that the resulting litigations could be considered highly comforting to, and perhaps even an aid, to enemies of the United States.

Many of the detainees from Afghanistan were not captured by the United States military but rather by its ally, the Northern Alliance. The detainees were later transferred into U.S. custody. In future actions and in light of this decision, why would U.S. military commanders feel disposed toward taking detainees into custody? Future U.S. commanders may simply choose to allow its allies to keep their detainees rather than have their actions micromanaged by the civilian judiciary? This could certainly lead to much less humane treatment of detainees and to their being detained in places that are much, much worse than Guantanamo Bay.

Spain has recently suffered through the fiasco of attempting to handle terrorists within their civilian criminal justice system and failed miserably; even with a criminal court system that is much more friendly to prosecutors than the American criminal court system. The recent verdicts in Madrid stand as a stark warning that civilian criminal justice systems are not capable either of ensuring public safety or doing justice in serious terrorism cases … but that is the subject for my next post. 

Just In: Fred Thompson Endorsed by Human Events

Today Fred Thompson was endorsed by the highly influential Human Events, a weekly conservative periodical. Human Events has advocated the conservative cause for years. It has been on the front line of conservative vs. liberal battles and consistently has led the charge.

Their endorsement states that: “We conclude that Thompson is a solid conservative whose judgment is grounded in our principles.”

You can read the entire endorsement here.

Who Won The South Carolina GOP Debate?

According to the phone poll, Ron Paul won the debate by a handy margin. I wonder if any of his supporters had actually watched this debate? His most lucid comment occurred when he was asked if he would disavow his anti-government 9/11 conspiracy theorist supporters because they were hurting his campaign. His response that “I cannot tell people what to do” and that he, personally, had abandoned those viewpoints … now … can I please deal with the relevant topic the other candidates have commented on; deserved some applause.

However, Ron Paul seemed totally out of touch on the question concerning the recent incident in the Strait of Hormuz between a U.S. Navy ship and five Iranian speed boats. While the other five candidates stated that we should not second guess the commanders who were actually on the scene, and that they thought that proper restraint had been exercised by not firing on the speed boats; Ron Paul went on an anti – World War III tirade saying that he thought the incident was blown all out of proportion and that “we’re ready to start World War III over this? … You know there are people in this administration and in Washington, D.C. that are looking for the chance” to bomb Iran. This was despite the fact the no one had called for World War III, or even a slightly stronger response.

I think Mitt Romney summed up most everyones’ feeling when he stated that he thought Congressman Ron Paul should stop reading so “many of (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmaddinejad’s press releases.”

Ron Paul also received sharp criticism for his comments on Israel when he stated that we need to treat Israel in an “adult fashion” and that U.S. national security would be improved by making Israel responsible for its own security.

Mike Huckabee spoke for most when he said, “We’ve got one true ally in the Middle East. That is Israel. It is a tiny nation … for us to give the world the impression that we would stand by if they were under attack and say its not our problem,” would be recklessly irresponsible.

Despite the phone poll, there is no way a sane, competent human being who actually watched that debate could claim Ron Paul won. Actually, I don’t think most conservatives are too concerned with text voting. I do think his 9/11 conspiracy theory supporters were primed and waiting … cellphone in hand … to vote for their hero. To me this is a good argument for why we should never institute Internet voting!

The majority of the candidates seemed to be of one voice concerning the future direction of the Republican Party and the need to return to the successful Reagan principles of the past. “This is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Fred Thompson said.

John McCain stated that republicans were hurt in the last election because of the “Reagan principles, and philosophy, and practices we’ve gone away from.” He went on to say, “I’ve said a number of times we came to power in 1994 to change government,” and instead the government changed us. He continued by saying that spending was one of those changes. As a nation, we have to return to those conservative principles of less government, lower taxes, strong family values, and strong national defense that brought about a “dawn of a new day in America.”

Former New York Mayor Giuliani echoed these thoughts by stating that we need to return to the “peace through strength” principles. Guiliani, like the other five major candidates, discussed the need to lower taxes. “If you cut something like the corporate tax at 35 percent, you bring it down to 30 percent, you will get more revenues from that cut, because our corporate tax is the second highest in the world. If you cut some other tax, you might not get those kinds of revenues. So, the question is: What tax are you cutting? Is it anti-competitive?”

Guliani went on to say that we have to cut spending as “significantly” as we cut taxes. We have to impose cutbacks on each one of the civilian federal agencies. He said he would do that the same way he did as mayor of New York City, and the same way Ronald Reagan did it as president of the United States.

John McCain pushed his experience and the changes he has been a part of since 1994. He stated we have to stop out-of-control government spending and that, as president, he would veto any pork or earmarks that came across his desk. McCain said that he felt that he was the candidate to beat the democratic nominee because of his nickname “the sheriff” on the Appropriations Committee.

Personally, I think Mike Huckabee was brilliant in his handling of the the question concerning his endorsement, some years ago, of the biblical verse from Ephesians 5. This verse is so often taken out of context and misused. It is really sad that a chapter in the Bible that tells husbands and wives to mutually respect, honor, and love one another can become an issue in a political campaign. However, I guess that in a culture that attacks Christian ideas, supports gay marriages and free birth control for 13-year-old girls without parental knowledge, and has a divorce rate that is approaching 50 percent; this is a topic that would be shocking to some.

For me, and also pollster Frank Luntz’s focus panel, Fred Thompson was the clear winner. He came across as a thoughtful, experienced conservative with some fire. He nailed Mike Huckabee on his support for illegal immigration, his apologetic stance for the United States’ “arrogant” foreign policy, and for his received endorsement from the NEA. Thompson stated that when the U.S. went into Iraq, sixteen other countries went with us. He asked Mike Huckabee, were they all “arrogant” as well?

Fred Thompson came out strongly in support of smaller government, less taxes, strong family values, and a strong national defense. He even showed his sense of humor when he stated that, had those Iranian speed boats come any closer to our navy’s destroyer, they might have met those 72 virgins they are so concerned with.

I also liked Thompson’s comment to Alan Combs after the debate when Combs kept pressing him about the fact that only 9 of the 18 benchmarks established for the Iraqi government had been met. Fred Thompson reiterated the fact that, despite the reality ignoring denials of the democratic candidates and the surrender of Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, the surge is working. Thompson commented that it just might take the Iraqi government and people a little longer to get everything accomplished because they have no Thomas Jeffersons in Iraq … Saddam Hussein killed them all.

Democratic Candidates Dishonest About Surge Successes

Does it bother anyone besides me that the Democratic presidential candidates can’t even mention the success of the “surge” in Iraq?

As Fred Barnes points out in his article in the weekly standard, They Can’t Handle The Truth, even our anti-war biased media has headlined evidence that General Petraeus’ strategy (the addition of more American troops and tasking them with the protection the civilian population) has dramatically reduced the level of violence in Baghdad and other regions of Iraq.

Are they really that uninformed? Or, are they simply being dishonest? Either situation would not bode well for this country if one of them were elected president.

During the New Hampshire primary, Barack Obama did state that the decision by Sunnis in Iraq to embrace American forces was simply a direct response to the Democratic Party’s capture of power in Congress during the 2006 election. And as Fred Barnes writes, looking at the facts, there is no evidence for his claim. The Sunnis had, in fact, begun to turn against al Qaeda before the 2006 election.

Bill Richardson seems to have been on another planet for the last year or so. Terming Iraq “a massive failure,” he voiced a number of inaccurate claims.

He stated there had been no reconciliation, that there had been no sharing of oil revenues, that the Iraq government had made no effort to train additional security forces, and that there could only be a political solution to Iraq and not a military solution. In actuality, both solutions are needed.

Bill Richardson was wrong on all four counts.

John Edwards also provided an explanation that strains the limits of credibility saying that the withdrawal of British troops from southern Iraq has caused “a significant reduction in violence.”

Hillary Clinton basically just reaffirmed what she said during a Senate hearing; that she had to “suspend disbelief” to accept that the surge was working. Hillary went on, stating that the purpose behind the surge was to create time for political reconciliation and for the Iraqi government to deal with the many unresolved problems that confront it. She stated that no Iraqi government action, it’s time to bring our troops home as quickly and responsibly as possible.

I agree with Fred Barnes. As much as I hate to admit it, at least Hillary Clinton was partially correct. One of the goals of the surge was to create an environment of political reconciliation and let environment lead to the completion of the other benchmarks set by the U.S. for the Iraqi government.

And yes, I realize that these steps have been slow in coming, but they are coming. Nine of the eighteen benchmark goals set by the U.S. for the Iraqi government have indeed been met. And, that was simply one of the goals and not the only goal, as Hillary Clinton wants to suggest.

Another, second goal, was to reduce the violence, secure Baghdad, and to protect its citizens. That goal has been achieved.

A third goal is to defeat al Qaeda in Iraq.

How are the democratic candidates going to reconcile this position to that of the many Democrats who have recently traveled to Iraq and concluded the surge is succeeding?

I realize that the Democratic candidates will certainly not abandon their anti-war rhetoric regarding Iraq. That would alienate too large a block of antiwar voters.

However, they could have at least acknowledged the fact that the surge seems to be working and that if the Iraqi government does what it should, there might be a need to look at a change in their policy.

Then, as suggested in the article, they could certainly have eased right back into their anti-war rhetoric by saying that Iraqi leaders must now move quickly because Americans are still dying in Iraq, and at the moment, there is no reason to expect any real political progress by the Iraqi government. Therefore, the only policy that makes sense is to begin the withdrawal of troops.

At least, as Fred Barnes says, that would have been honest!

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