Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday roundup and branding -- the Gazette, and beyond...

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Senator Tester continues to slip off his ethical high-horse: For someone who defeated Sen. Conrad Burns by a couple thousand votes largely because of an aggressive campaign that branded Burns unethical and that trumpeted how squeaky clean he would be -- well, Senator Tester seems to be having any number of problems in having his actions live up to his unctuous rhetoric.

Tester is caught up with the latest Clinton-associated fund-raising crook -- Norman Hsu -- who has finally been arrested after being on the lam for 15 years for felony theft. Hsu has apparently been a master of the process of putting money from rich Democratic donors such as himself into the hands of ordinary folk so they can donate "hard money" to Democratic candidates. Hm. Where have we heard this before? Can anyone say Buddhist temple?

Anyway, it would seem to be a no-brainer for Tester to donate that money to charity immediately to be on the safe side. The amount is so small that it should be inconsequential -- unless Tester knows that there is more questionable money on his books where that came from.

We are shocked...shocked... that Sen. Tester engages in politics as usual.

But then, since the donors in question are in New York, Tester may be concerned about offending his New York constituents -- he knows he'll need them again in 2012. (While 7 of the top 10 zip-codes on the Conrad Burns donor list were in Montana, 5 of the top 10 zip-codes for Tester were in New York City.)

As for poor Hsu, if Clinton is elected President, he can be sure to get the same kind of "pardon for campaign donations" deal that the first President Clinton gave Marc Rich. But if she gets elected for two terms, 2016 would be a long time to wait for that last-second pardon.

Farewell to Sen. Cobb: Charles Johnson bids a fond farewell to Sen. John Cobb of Augusta, citing his work ethic and command of the details of Montana state government programs and budgets. He was highly respected on both sides of the aisle, and with good reason. In the regular legislative session, Cobb more often than not had insightful and common-sense proposals, such as changing the law by which Rick Jore lost his House seat in 2004 to the Montana Supreme Court. The point was that the only way for the Democrats to challenge that election was to sue Jore (the original winner) personally, and Cobb thought that was just plain wrong -- which it was.

On the other hand, Cobb reportedly played a critical role on the state Senate side of things in forging the non-compromise by which the governor's budget was rammed through back in the original special session -- and called a compromise, even though it was anything but.

Gen. Lee supposedly said that it was good that war was so terrible, otherwise we should love it too much. While in general we, along with Charles Johnson, think that term limits for state legislators are a bad idea (Cobb is being term-limited and taking his long experience with him,) there are perhaps times that it is good that politicians are forced to leave Helena, since many otherwise learn to love government programs and bureaucracy too much -- as apparently Cobb sometimes was wont to do.

Mike Huckabee comes up with nimble challenge to Fred Thompson: Fred Thompson walked himself into a problem when he opined in a national television interview that he wasn't fond of the multicandidate debates, but would be interested in the Lincoln-Douglas style debates that Newt Gingrich has been having with liberals like Mario Cuomo.

Thompson quickly learned that you shouldn't propose something you aren't ready to do -- Mike Huckabee wrote Thompson a letter immediately and said that he agreed and was ready to debate Thompson anytime, anywhere in the early primary states.

It was a brilliant move on Huckabee's part -- right now, he is the one with the momentum, and there really isn't room for both Huckabee and Thompson in the race as serious candidates. Huckabee has run one of the most disciplined campaigns (on a low budget, no less) of the GOP candidates, and really has yet to make a true mis-step.

Thompson should accept the challenge, go toe-to-toe with Huckabee -- and may the best conservative survive.

Romney comes up with hamfisted challenge to Huckabee and Thompson: Clearly worried that the entrance of Fred Thompson and the sudden rise of Mike Huckabee may ruin his strategy of buying the conservative base's support with big advertising bucks, Mitt Romney issued a challenge to Thompson and Huckabee, saying that if they weren't able to raise $20 million in the next quarter like he did in his first serious quarter of fundraising, they don't belong in the "top tier."

Romney wants to be the "conservative alternative" to Giuliani, and is irritated by the fact that a guy who hasn't even been in the race is killing him in the national polls (Thompson,) and that someone without a big bank account humiliated him in the Ames straw poll in Iowa.

His challenge amounts to a playground taunt: "I've got more rich friends than you do!"

Unfortunately for Romney, last we checked, there isn't a cover charge to get into the Oval Office, or a country-club membership fee.

Sens. Baucus and Tester vote for abortion-funding and infanticide toleration: One of the most important things that Ronald Reagan did regarding human life was the institution of his so-called "Mexico City Policy," named after the place where Reagan announced it.

Simply put, Reagan said that American foreign-aid dollars would not be used for "family planning" services that included abortion as a part of the population-control arsenal.

The steady institution of policies that minimized the spending of federal tax dollars on abortion at home and abroad was heartening to those who are concerned about human life issues. For whatever other gripes conservatives have with President Bush, he has likewise held the line on these things.

Now, the Senate has voted to overturn the "Mexico City Policy," and both of Montana's Democratic Senators voted for spending American federal tax dollars on abortions abroad. We suppose that in their eyes it is immoral to do search and destroy missions on terrorists who have killed people or are planning to do so, but moral to to search and destroy missions on the unborn -- who haven't hurt a soul.

Both of Wyoming's Republican Senators -- Enzi and Barrasso -- voted against lifting the policy. They likewise voted against a bill that would have restored American funding to U.N. population organizations that tolerate China's "one-child policy" that involves forced abortions and infanticide.

Senators Baucus and Tester voted to restore funding to such programs that tolerate China's repugnant policies on this matter. They might protest that they were really voting for other, warmer and fuzzier, parts of the bills in question. If so, the question is why they didn't have the skill or clout to get the parts removed that will result in a certain Bush veto.

Gazette critique note: whoever was writing the Gazette summary was misleading in its first mention of the issue -- saying that it was about contraception. Any thought that this was a slip was removed in the next item, which specifically talked about the policy. In it, the writer said that the policy "bars American aid to any organization overseas that performs or promotes abortions even with its own money."

The implication is that America is thereby telling organizations how they can spend their own money.

Leaving aside the issue of whether any organization has some sort of a "right" to American tax dollars, this is a flawed argument. Every dollar that comes from the federal government to an organization frees up its own money to do what they want to with it.

Without the federal money, they would have to make choices about what is more important: preventing pregnancies or terminating them. The federal dollars can thus allow them to do both, and thus those dollars would support abortion.

A Gazette editor should be more intellectually honest. Or at least more subtle.

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