The Secure America Plan
A 9-Point Strategy for Immigration Enforcement and Border Security
Overview: Implement a broad-based strategy that commits the resources of the federal government to the enforcement of our immigration laws and results in the attrition of the illegal immigrant population.
1. Build the Fence
* Ensure that an interlocking surveillance camera system is installed along the border by July 1, 2010.
* Ensure that the border fence construction is completed by July 1, 2010.
2. Increase Border Patrol
* Increase the number of border patrol agents.
* Fully support all law enforcement personnel tasked with enforcing immigration law.
3. Prevent Amnesty
* Policies that promote or tolerate amnesty will be rejected.
* Propose to provide all illegal immigrants a 120-day window to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and leave the country. Those who register and return to their home country will face no penalty if they later apply to immigrate or visit; those who do not return home will be, when caught, barred from future reentry for a period of 10 years.
* This is not a "touchback" provision. Those who leave this country and apply to return from their home country would go to the back of the line.
4. Enforce the Law on Employers
* Employment is the chief draw for most illegal immigrants and denying them jobs is the centerpiece of an attrition strategy.
* Impose steep fines and penalties on employers that violate the law.
* Institute a universal, mandatory citizenship verification system as part of the normal hiring process.
* Prevent the IRS and the Social Security Administration from accepting fraudulent Social Security numbers or numbers that don't match the employees' names.*
5. Establish an Economic Border
* Move toward passage of the FairTax.
* The FairTax provides an extra layer of security by creating an economic disincentive to immigrate to the U.S. illegally.
6. Empower Local Authorities
* Promote better cooperation on enforcement by supporting legislative measures such as the CLEAR Act, which aims to systematize the relationship between local law and federal immigration officials.
* Encourage immigration-law training for police. Local authorities must be provided the tools, training, and funding they need so local police can turn illegal immigrants over to the federal authorities.
7. Ensure Document Security
* End exemptions for Mexicans and Canadians to the US-VISIT program, which tracks the arrival and departure of foreign visitors. Since these countries account for the vast majority of foreigners coming here (85 percent), such a policy clearly violates Congress' intent in mandating this check-in/check-out system.
* Reject Mexico's "matricula consular" card, which functions as an illegal-immigrant identification card.
8. Discourage Dual Citizenship
* Inform foreign governments when their former citizens become naturalized U.S. citizens.
* Impose civil and/or criminal penalties on American citizens who illegitimately use their dual status (e.g., using a foreign passport, voting in elections in both a foreign country and the U.S.).
9. Modernize the Process of Legal Immigration
* Eliminate the visa lottery system and the admission category for adult brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
* Increase visas for highly-skilled and highly-educated applicants.
* Expedite processing for those who serve honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.
* Improve our immigration process so that those patiently and responsibly seeking to come here legally will not have to wait decades to share in the American dream. Governor Huckabee has always been grateful to live in a country that people are trying to break into, rather than break out of.
*This policy will be drafted to comply with the final federal court decisions on this issue.
Note: This plan is partially modeled on a proposal by Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. ("Re: Immigration: Ten Points for a Successful Presidential Candidate," National Review, May 23, 2005.)
10. Faith and Politics
* The First Amendment requires that expressions of faith be neither prohibited nor preferred.
* My faith is my life - it defines me. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives.
* Real faith makes us more humble and mindful, not of the faults of others, but of our own. It makes us less judgmental, as we see others with the same frailties we have.
* Faith gives us strength in the face of injustice and motivates us to do our best for "the least of us."
* Our nation was birthed in a spirit of faith - not a prescriptive faith telling us how or whether to believe, but acknowledging a providence that pervades our world.
The First Amendment requires that expressions of faith be neither prohibited nor preferred. We should not banish religion from the public square, but should guarantee access to all voices and views. We should share and debate our faith, but never seek to impose it. When discussing faith and politics, we should honor the "candid" in candidate - I have much more respect for an honest atheist than a disingenuous believer.
My faith is my life - it defines me. My faith doesn't influence my decisions, it drives them. For example, when it comes to the environment, I believe in being a good steward of the earth. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives.
Real faith makes us humble and mindful, not of the faults of others, but of our own. It makes us less judgmental, as we see others with the same frailties we have. Faith gives us strength in the face of injustice and motivates us to do our best for "the least of us."
Our nation was birthed in a spirit of faith - not a prescriptive one telling us whether to believe, but one acknowledging that a providence pervades our world.
11. Sanctity of Life
* I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been
clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering. I believe that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.
* I applaud the Supreme Court's recent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart forbidding the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion. While I am optimistic that we
are turning the tide in favor of life, we still have many battles ahead of us to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and so it is vital that we elect a pro-life President.
* I first became politically active because of abortion, when I helped pass Arkansas' Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it legally can to protect life.
* As Governor, I did all I could to protect life. The many pro-life laws I got through my Democrat legislature are the accomplishments that give me the most pride and personal satisfaction. To me, life doesn't begin at conception and end at birth. Every child deserves a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water. Every child deserves the opportunity to discover and use his God-given gifts and talents.
* I am opposed to research on embryonic stem cells.
I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering. I believe that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.
I applaud the Supreme Court's recent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart forbidding the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion. While I am optimistic that we
are turning the tide in favor of life, we still have many battles ahead of us to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and so it is vital that we elect a pro-life President.
No candidate has a stronger record on the sanctity of life than I do. I have always been actively and aggressively pro-life. I first became politically active
when I helped pass Arkansas' Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it can to protect life.
As Governor, I used that Amendment to pass pro-life legislation. The many pro-life laws I got through my Democrat legislature are the accomplishments that give me the most pride and personal satisfaction. I banned partial birth abortion, I required parental notification, I required that a woman give informed consent before having an abortion, I required that a woman be told her baby will experience pain and be given the option of anesthesia for her baby, I allowed a woman to have her baby and leave the child safely at a hospital, and I made it a crime for an unborn child to be injured or murdered during an attack on his mother.
What I accomplished as Governor proves that there is a lot more that a pro-life President can do than wait for a Supreme Court vacancy, and I will do everything I can to promote a pro-life agenda and pass pro-life legislation. If I'm saddled with a Democrat Congress, I'll veto any pro-abortion legislation they pass. I will staff all relevant positions with pro-life appointees. I will use the Bully Pulpit to change hearts and minds, to move this country from a culture of death to a culture of life. I have no desire to throw women in jail, I just want us to stop throwing babies in the garbage.
To me, life doesn't begin at conception and end at birth. Every child deserves a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water. Every child deserves the opportunity to discover and use his God-given gifts and talents.
With respect to stem cells, I am opposed to research on embryonic stem cells.
12. Veterans' Bill Of Rights
I support the following VETERANS' BILL OF RIGHTS for issues that are not being adequately addressed:
The right to a mandatory rather than a discretionary mechanism for funding veterans' health care, to eliminate year-to-year uncertainty that the funds they need will be there for them
The right to obtain full and clear explanation of all benefits and comprehensive assistance in obtaining those benefits.
The right to have a claim processed within six months.
The right to the fullest possible accounting of the fate of POW/MIAs and the right to be designated as POW/MIA.
The right to access state-of-the-art treatment facilities for traumatic brain injuries.
The right of National Guard and Reserve personnel called to active service to receive the same benefits as active duty veterans.
The right of disabled veterans to receive both their military retirement and VA compensation.
The right of wounded Reserve troops to be treated like their active duty counterparts until their claims have been processed.
The right of wounded veterans and those who have served in combat theaters to a comprehensive GI bill that provides full tuition, books, fees, and living expenses at any institution to which the veteran is accepted.
13. Education And The Arts
* I believe that every child should have the opportunity for a quality education that teaches the fundamental skills needed to compete in a global economy.
* Music and the arts are not extraneous, extra-curricular, or expendable - I believe they are essential. I want to provide every child these "Weapons of Mass Instruction."
* Our future economy depends on a creative generation.
* We need to judge the success of our schools by the results we obtain, not the revenue we spend.
* Test scores rose dramatically when I was Governor of Arkansas because of my education reforms.
* I have been a strong, consistent supporter of the rights of parents to home school their children, of creating more charter schools, and of public school choice.
* We need a clear distinction between federal and state roles in education. While there is value in the "No Child Left Behind" law's effort to set high standards, states must be allowed to develop their own benchmarks.
I believe that every child should have the opportunity for a quality education that teaches the fundamental skills needed to compete in a global economy. As I traveled the country and the world over the last decade bringing jobs to Arkansas, the business leaders I met weren't worried about creating jobs, they were worried about finding skilled and professional workers to fill those jobs.
In addition, I want to provide our children what I call the "Weapons of Mass Instruction" - art and music - the secret, effective weapons that will help us to be competitive and creative. It is crucial that children flex both the left and right sides of the brain. We all know the cliché of thinking outside the box: I want our children to be so creative that they think outside the cardboard factory. Art and music are as important as math and science because the dreamers and visionaries among us take the rough straw of an idea and spin it into the gold of new businesses and jobs. It is as important to identify and encourage children with artistic talent as it is those with athletic ability. Our future economy depends on a creative generation.
Music has always been an important part of my life. I still play bass guitar in my band, Capitol Offense.
As Governor of Arkansas, I undertook several initiatives to encourage arts in education. I passed landmark legislation to provide music and art instruction by certified teachers for all Arkansas children in grades one through six, forty minutes a week. As Chairman of the Education and Arts Commission of the States, I created a two-year initiative called "The Arts - A Lifetime of Learning," which promotes the benefits of arts education to all fifty states.
Students with strong art and music programs have higher academic achievement overall, are far more likely to read for pleasure and participate in community service, and are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. These programs have a powerful effect in leveling the academic playing field for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The study of music improves math scores, spatial reasoning and abstract thinking.
The success of our schools has to be judged by the results we obtain, not the revenues we spend. A focus on true quality rather than mere quantity requires us to set high standards for our students and teachers, measure their performance diligently, and hold educators and administrators accountable for the results in an atmosphere of transparency and efficiency.
As Governor of Arkansas, I created intensive reading and math programs that went back to basics. I started with elementary students and, as those children thrived, I expanded the program to middle and then high schools. Our test scores rose dramatically. I then created one of the most demanding high school curricula in the country, and the number of students taking advanced placement classes grew by leaps and bounds.
I opposed the teachers' union and got the Fair Dismissal Law passed, which allowed us to terminate poorly performing teachers. To attract top talent, I raised teachers' salaries from among the lowest in the nation to among the most competitive. I created systems to make our schools accountable to both parents and taxpayers by insisting on transparency in how money is spent, efficiency in putting money into classroom programs rather than administrative costs, and clear responsibility of all employees for the tasks assigned to them.
As Governor, I fought hard for more charter schools, with their strong parental involvement and their unique ability to serve as laboratories for education reform, and for the rights of parents to home school their children. I am a strong supporter of public school choice. I am proud that my three children attended public schools from K through twelve, as did my wife and I.
In addition to my gubernatorial experience, I have significant national experience in education policy. I was Chairman of the National Governors Association from 2005-2006 and also Chairman of the Education Committee of the States from 2004-2006, working with governors, legislators, and education chiefs from all fifty states to advance education policy and conduct research on effective trends in education.
We need to test teachers as well as students, replace teachers who aren't competent, and impose reasonable waiting periods for teachers to gain tenure. We should provide bonuses and forgive student loans for high-performing teachers to work in low-performing schools. Just as there are executives in the corporate world who specialize in turning around failing companies, we need teachers who are "turn-around specialists" for failing schools.
Typical employment procedures provide a disincentive for teachers and often discourage potentially good teachers from entering what I consider to be a noble profession. Educators and teachers should be involved in the design of compensation initiatives that encourage training and promote performance based on merit, so that our children can have the best education in the world.
As President, my education agenda will include working towards a clear distinction between the federal role in assisting and empowering states and in usurping the right of states to carry out the education programs for their students. While there is value in the "No Child Left Behind" law's effort to set high national standards, states must be allowed to develop their own benchmarks.
As President, I will use my broad and deep expertise in education policy to lift up our children and America's economic future.
14. Health Care
* The health care system in this country is irrevocably broken, in part because it is only a "health care" system, not a "health" system.
* We don't need universal health care mandated by federal edict.
* We do need to get serious about preventive health care.
* I advocate policies that will encourage the private sector to seek innovative ways to bring down costs.
* I value the states' role as laboratories for new market-based approaches.
* When I'm President, Americans will have more control of their health care options, not less.
* As President, I will work with the private sector, Congress, health care providers, and other concerned parties to lead a complete overhaul of our health care system.
* Our health care system is making our businesses non-competitive in the global economy. It is time to recognize that jobs don't need health care, people do, and move from employer-based to consumer-based health care.
The health care system in this country is irrevocably broken, in part because it is only a "health care" system, not a "health" system. We don't need universal health care mandated by federal edict or funded through ever-higher taxes. We do need to get serious about preventive health care instead of chasing more and more dollars to treat chronic disease, which currently gobbles up 80% of our health care costs, and yet is often avoidable. The result is that we'll be able to deliver better care where and when it's needed.
I advocate policies that will encourage the private sector to seek innovative ways to bring down costs and improve the free market for health care services. We have to change a system that happily pays $30,000 for a diabetic to have his foot amputated, but won't pay for the shoes that would save his foot.
We can make health care more affordable by reforming medical liability; adopting electronic record keeping; making health insurance more portable from one job to another; expanding health savings accounts to everyone, not just those with high deductibles; and making health insurance tax deductible for individuals and families as it now is for businesses. Low income families would get tax credits instead of deductions. We don't need all the government controls that would inevitably come with universal health care. When I'm President, Americans will have more control of their health care options, not less.
I also value the states' role as laboratories for new market-based approaches, and I will encourage those efforts. As President I will work with the private sector, Congress, health care providers, and other concerned parties to lead a complete overhaul of our health care system, not more of the same, paid for by Uncle Sam at the expense of hard-working families.
Health care spending is now about $2 trillion a year, which is close to $7,000 for each one of us. It consumes about 17% of our gross domestic product, easily surpassing the few European nations where spending is close to 10% and far higher than any other country in the world. If we reduced our out-of-control health care costs from 17% to 11%, we'd save $700 billion a year, which is about twice our annual national deficit.
Our health care system is making our businesses non-competitive in the global economy. General Motors spends more on health care than it does on steel, $1,500 per car. Starbucks spends more on health care than it does on coffee beans. We have an employer-based system from the 1940's, a system devised not because it was the best way to provide health care, but as a way around World War II wage-and-price controls. Costs have skyrocketed because the party paying for the health care - the employer - and the party using the health care - the employee - are not the same. It is human nature to consume more of something that is essentially free.
Workers complain that their wages are stagnant, but businesses reply that their total compensation costs are rising significantly because they are paying so much more for health care. Health care costs are adversely affecting your paycheck, even if you're healthy. Some Americans are afraid to change jobs or start their own businesses because they're afraid of losing their health insurance. It is time to recognize that jobs don't need health insurance, people do, and to ease the burden on our businesses. Our employer-based system has outlived its usefulness, but the answer is a consumer-based system, not socialized medicine.
* I support the FairTax.
* As Governor of Arkansas, I cut taxes and fees almost 100 times, saving the taxpayers almost $380 million. I left a surplus of nearly $850 million, which I urged should go back to the people.
* Our massive deficit is not due to Americans' being under-taxed, but to the government's over-spending.
* To control spending, I believe the President should have the line-item veto.
* I believe in free trade, but it has to be fair trade.
* Globalization, done right, done fairly, can be the equivalent of a big pay raise by allowing us to buy things more cheaply.
I'd like you to join me at the best "Going Out of Business" sale I can imagine - one held by the Internal Revenue Service. Am I running for president to shut down the federal government? Not exactly. But I am running to completely eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes. And I do mean all - personal federal, corporate federal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment. All our hours filling out forms, all our payments for help with those forms, all our shopping bags filled with disorganized receipts, all our headaches and heartburn from tax stress will vanish. Instead we will have the FairTax, a simple tax based on wealth. When the FairTax becomes law, it will be like waving a magic wand releasing us from pain and unfairness.
The FairTax will replace the Internal Revenue Code with a consumption tax, like the taxes on retail sales forty-five states and the District of Columbia have now. All of us will get a monthly rebate that will reimburse us for taxes on purchases up to the poverty line, so that we're not taxed on necessities. That means people below the poverty line won't be taxed at all. We'll be taxed on what we decide to buy, not what we happen to earn. We won't be taxed on what we choose to save or the interest those savings earn. The tax will apply only to new goods, so we can reduce our taxes further by buying a used car or computer.
Our current progressive tax system penalizes us for working harder and becoming more successful. As we climb the ladder, the government lurks on each rung, hungry for a bigger bite out of our earnings. The FairTax is also progressive, but it doesn't punish the American dream of success, or the old-fashioned virtues of hard work and thrift, it rewards and encourages them. The FairTax isn't intended to raise any more or less money for the federal government to spend - it is revenue neutral.
Expert analyses have shown that the FairTax lowers the lifetime tax burden of all of us: single or married; working or retired; rich, poor or middle class.
The FairTax will instantly make American products 12 to 25% more competitive because the cost of those goods will no longer be inflated by corporate taxes, costs of tax compliance, and Social Security matching payments. When we buy products now, those taxes are built into the cost, so all of us pay corporate taxes indirectly on top of the personal taxes we pay directly. Compliance costs are just make-work with no real added value, yet they consume as much as 3% of our gross domestic product annually. These costs are an especially heavy burden on small businesses, which generate most of our jobs.
If you buy a bottle of domestic wine, you're paying the taxes/compliance/matching payments of all the folks who produced the grapes, the wine, the bottle, the cork, the label. If you buy a bottle of French wine, the producers had their Value Added Tax rebated to them when the wine was exported. So French consumers pay those taxes, but you don't. Our current tax system puts our goods at a disadvantage both here and overseas. Other governments give their goods an advantage on the world market, an advantage estimated at 18% compared to American goods.
So no matter how hard Americans work, no matter how innovative and creative we are, no matter how superior our products are, we suffer from a built-in competitive disadvantage simply because of our tax system. A recent study by MIT found that our tax system deprives us of about $1 billion in exports annually. When you export over-priced goods as we have, you inevitably end up exporting jobs and industries as we now are. We are the square peg trying to fit into the round hole of international trade. The rest of the world isn't going to change, it's time that we do.
Under the FairTax, American companies are far less likely to move overseas and foreign companies are far more likely to come here, hiring Americans to build and work in their new plants. The FairTax encourages growth by promoting investment and capital formation.
We have to scrap a 20th century tax system that is holding us back and keeping us down in the 21st century. The FairTax is the path to greater prosperity and job security for us and for our children.
As Governor of Arkansas, I pushed through the Arkansas Legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history - a $90 million tax relief package for Arkansas families. I also doubled the standard deduction to $2,000 for single taxpayers and $4,000 for those who are married. Some taxes I eliminated entirely: the marriage penalty, bracket creep caused by inflation, income tax on poor families, and capital gains on home sales. To encourage investment, I cut capital gains for both individuals and businesses. To help people better themselves, I provided tax credits for employee training and education. In total, I cut taxes and fees nearly 100 times during my ten-and-a-half years as Governor, saving the people of Arkansas almost $380 million.
When I left office in early 2007, Arkansas had nearly $850 million in state surplus, which I urged should go back to the people in the form of either a tax rebate or tax cut.
I believe that our massive deficit is not due to Americans' being under-taxed, but due to the federal government's over-spending. Achieving and maintaining a balanced federal budget is an important and worthy goal necessary to our long-term economic well-being. To achieve a balanced federal budget, I believe the President should have the line-item veto.
I believe in free trade, but it has to be fair trade. We are losing jobs because of an unlevel, unfair trading arena that has to be fixed. Behind the statistics, there are real families and real lives and real pain. I'm running for President because I don't want people who have worked loyally for a company for twenty or thirty years to walk in one morning and be handed a pink slip and be told, "I'm sorry, but everything you spent your life working for is no longer here."
I believe that globalization, done right, done fairly, can be a blessing for our society. As the Industrial Revolution raised living standards by allowing ordinary people to buy mass-produced goods that previously only the rich could afford, so globalization gives all of us the equivalent of a big pay raise by letting us buy all kinds of things from clothing to computers to TVs much more inexpensively.
* I support and have consistently supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
* As Governor of Arkansas, I led the successful effort to pass a similar state constitutional amendment in 2002.
* As Governor of Arkansas, I led the successful effort to make our state only the third to adopt "covenant" marriage.
* Our true strength comes from our families.
I support and have always supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My personal belief is that marriage is between one man and one woman, for life.
No other candidate has supported traditional marriage more consistently and steadfastly than I have. While Massachusetts was allowing homosexuals to marry, I got a constitutional amendment passed in Arkansas in 2002 defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I got Arkansas to become only the third state to adopt "covenant" marriage. My wife Janet and I upgraded our vows on Valentine's Day, 2005. Today, many churches in Arkansas will perform only covenant marriages, so I'm hoping we'll see a decline in our divorce rates.
The late Cardinal O'Connor decried a domestic partnership law (which provided that all couples who signed up, whether heterosexual or homosexual, would be treated the same as married couples) as legislating that "marriage doesn't matter." I agree with the Cardinal that marriage does matter, I would add that nothing in our society matters more. Our true strength doesn't come from our military or our gross national product, it comes from our families. What's the point of keeping the terrorists at bay in the Middle East if we can't keep decline and decadence at bay here at home? The growing number of children born out of wedlock and the rise in no-fault divorce have been a disaster for our society. They have pushed many women and children into poverty and onto the welfare, food stamp, and Medicaid rolls. These children are more likely to drop out of school and end up in low-paying, dead-end jobs, they are more likely to get involved with drugs and crime, they are more likely to have children out of wedlock or get divorced themselves someday, continuing the unhappy cycle.
My wife Janet and I celebrated our thirty-third wedding anniversary this past May. For us, every anniversary is a miracle. When we were both twenty and married just over a year, when I was in my last semester of college, Janet was diagnosed with cancer of the spine. I can't tell you what a stunning blow it was - two kids just starting out, you don't think something like that can happen when you're so young. Yet there we were, staring death in the face. At first, they told us that even if she lived, she might be paralyzed from the waist down, so I'd be a young man with an invalid wife. After I learned she wouldn't be paralyzed, I was told that because of the radiation she had to receive following surgery, we'd probably never have children. I wanted children very much, I couldn't imagine never being a father. During that time, a lot of things went through my mind. But one thing never did - the thought of leaving her. If Janet were in a wheelchair today, if we'd never had children, I can tell you this - she would still be my wife.
17. Energy Independence
* The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. We will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term.
* Achieving energy independence is vital to achieving success both in the war on terror and in globalization. Energy independence will help guarantee both our safety and our prosperity.
* We have to explore, we have to conserve, and we have to pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass.
Energy independence has been on our "to do" list for over thirty years, my whole adult life. In 1973, in response to OPEC's oil embargo against us, President Nixon established Project Independence, which promised independence in 1980. We could have been energy independent a generation ago! The truth is, we are so pathetically behind the curve right now that federal spending for energy research and development is only 40% of what it was in 1979. Our efforts are haphazard and often pointless: today we have six million flex-fuel vehicles built to run on biodiesel or on E85, which is 85% ethanol, but only 1,413 pumps for those fuels in a country with 170,000 gas stations.
When energy shocks and crises come, we take aspirin to deal with the pain, but we don't address the underlying symptoms. This oil addiction is killing us. We have to stop popping pain pills and get ourselves cured. For all these years, we've never lacked the means, just the will. We've never harnessed the real energy source that independence requires - the energy of the American people.
The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. I'll use the bully pulpit to inform you about the plan and ask for your support. I'll use the bully conference table to meet with members of Congress until I have the votes. The plan will get underway during my first term, and we will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term. The Huckabee Administration will be remembered as the time when we finally, finally achieved energy independence.
We have to explore, we have to conserve, and we have to pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass. Some will come from our farms and some will come from our laboratories. Dwindling supplies and increasing demand from newly-industrialized countries of fossil fuels are driving up prices. These price increases will facilitate innovation and the opportunity for independence. We will remove red tape that slows innovation. We will set aside a federal research and development budget that will be matched by the private sector to seek the best new products in alternative fuels. Our free market will sort out what makes the most sense economically and will reward consumer preferences.
We think of globalization as primarily an economic issue and the war on terror as primarily a military issue. Yet the same key unlocks the door to success in both, and that key is energy independence.
None of us would write a check to Osama bin Laden, slip it in a Hallmark card and send it off to him. But that's what we're doing every time we pull into a gas station. We're paying for both sides in the war on terror - our side with our tax dollars, the terrorists' side with our gas dollars.
Our dependence on foreign oil has forced us to support repressive regimes, to conduct our foreign policy with one hand tied behind our back. It's time, it's past time, to untie that hand and reach out to moderate Muslims with both hands. Oil has not just shaped our foreign policy, it has deformed it. When I make foreign policy, I want to treat Saudi Arabia the same way I treat Sweden, and that requires us to be energy independent. These folks have had us over a barrel - literally - for way too long.
Energy independence will ease the effects of globalization because the future energy demands of countries like India and China, as their middle class grows, are going to be tremendous. Even if Middle East supplies remain stable - a huge if - that increased demand will drive prices up dramatically, which will hurt our economy by making everything more expensive here. But if we are energy independent, we will be able not just to take care of our own needs and protect our economy, we will also create jobs and grow our economy by developing technologies that we can sell to the rest of the world to meet their needs.
Achieving energy independence will make us safer and more prosperous, and is yet another way that I intend to lift America up.
* Securing our borders must be our top priority and has reached the level of a national emergency.
* I support the $3 billion the Senate has voted for border security. This money will train and deploy 23,000 more agents, add four drone planes, build 700 miles of fence and 300 miles of vehicle barriers, and put up 105 radar and camera towers. This money will turn "catch and release" into "catch and detain" of those entering illegally, and crack down on those who overstay their visas.
* In this age of terror, immigration is not only an economic issue, but also a national security issue. Those caught trying to enter illegally must be detained, processed, and deported. As Governor, I ordered my state troopers to work with the Department of Homeland Security to arrest illegals and enforce federal immigration law.
* I oppose and will never allow amnesty. I opposed the amnesty President Bush and Senator McCain tried to ram through Congress this summer, and opposed the misnamed DREAM Act, which would have put us on the slippery slope to amnesty for all.
* I oppose and will not tolerate sanctuaries for illegals. The federal government must crack down on rogue cities that willfully undermine our economy and national security.
* I oppose giving driver's licenses to illegals and supports legislation to prevent states from doing so. In 2005, I signed legislation that prevents illegals in Arkansas from getting driver's licenses.
* I will stop punishing cities which try to enforce our laws and protect the economic well-being, physical safety, and quality of life of their citizens.
* I oppose and will not tolerate employers who hire illegals. They must be punished with fines and penalties so large that they will see it is not worth the risk.
* I oppose the economic integration of North America that would create open borders among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I will never yield one iota or one inch of our sovereignty.
* I will take our country back for those who belong here. No open borders, no amnesty, no sanctuary, no false Social Security numbers, no driver's licenses for illegals.
I know that securing our borders must be our top priority and has reached the level of a national emergency. I am as sick and tired as you are that it is harder for us to get on an airplane in our home town than it is for all these illegals to cross our international border unchallenged.
We cannot stem the tide of illegals until we turn the tide. Before you fix the damage to your house caused by a leaking roof, you have to stop the leak, which I am determined to do.
I supported the $3 billion Congress passed this summer for border security. This desperately-needed money will train and deploy 23,000 more agents, add four drone planes, build 700 miles of fence and 300 miles of vehicle barriers, and put up 105 radar and camera towers. This money will turn "catch and release" into "catch and detain" of those entering illegally and crack down on those who overstay their visas.
But where is this $3 billion? The President threatened to veto the bill it was part of! Now the Senate has again voted for this money as part of the Defense Bill. I will continue to fight until we get these funds.
In this age of terror, immigration is not only an economic issue, but also a national security issue. We must know who is coming into our country, where they are going, and why they are here. All those who are caught trying to enter illegally must be detained, processed, and deported. As Governor, I ordered my state troopers to work with the Department of Homeland Security to arrest illegals and enforce federal immigration law.
I oppose and will never allow amnesty. I passionately rejected the amnesty bill that President Bush and Sen. McCain tried to ram through Congress this summer after secret meetings of an under-the-radar cabal of amnesty-loving senators.
I opposed the misnamed DREAM Act, which was a nightmare because it would have put us on the slippery slope to amnesty for all. Because once we open that door even a crack, we'll never get it closed again.
I oppose and will not tolerate sanctuaries for illegals. The federal government must enforce our existing laws by cracking down on rogue cities and towns that willfully undermine our economy and our homeland security by giving benefits and protection to illegals. The consequences for illegal entry must be swift, certain, and uniform throughout our country.
I oppose giving driver's licenses to illegals, such as Governor Spitzer tried to do in New York. I support legislation that would prevent the states from granting this privilege to illegals. In 2005, I signed legislation that prevents illegals in Arkansas from getting driver's licenses.
I will stop punishing cities which are trying to enforce our laws. I will appoint judges who will uphold the law, not side with the ACLU against cities like Hazelton, Pennsylvania, which are trying to protect the economic well-being, physical safety, and quality of life of their citizens.
I will not tolerate employers who hire illegals - they must be punished by fines and penalties so large that they will understand it is not worth the risk. Once again, as with Hazelton, liberal judges are gumming up the works. Right now, a court in San Francisco -- Pelosiland - has delayed enforcement of the "no match" letters for Social Security numbers that the Department of Homeland Security will use to crack down on those who hire illegals. If illegals cannot find work, they will go back where they belong. I will do everything I can to hasten their trip home by denying them employment.
I strongly oppose the economic integration of North America that would have open borders among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I know we must have closed and secure borders. I will never yield either one inch or one iota of our sovereignty. I will recognize no authority but our Constitution.
I will take our country back for those who belong here and those who are willing to play by the rules for the privilege to come here. No open borders, no amnesty, no sanctuary, no false Social Security numbers, no driver's licenses for illegals.
19. National Security/Foreign Policy: Iraq
* Iraq is a battle in our generational, ideological war on terror.
* The Democrats deny that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror even as we fight Al Qaeda there. Al Qaeda seeks permanent bases in Anbar province to plot and train against us.
* General Petraeus and our troops are giving their all to provide a window of opportunity for the Iraq government to succeed, while the Democrats are running for the exit doors.
* The surge is a military means to achieve the political end of sectarian reconciliation among the Iraqis.
* Setting a timetable for withdrawal is a mistake. This country has never declared war until "a week from Wednesday," we have always declared war until victory.
* I am focused on winning. Withdrawal would have serious strategic consequences for us and horrific humanitarian consequences for the Iraqis.
* I support a regional summit so that Iraq's neighbors become militarily and financially committed to stabilizing Iraq.
Iraq is a battle in our generational, ideological war on terror. The Democrats delusionally deny that the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror even as we fight Al Qaeda there. Al Qaeda is a major ally of the Sunni insurgents in their fight against the Shiite majority. One of the most significant events in the Iraq War was Al Qaeda's bombing of the Shiites' Golden Mosque in Samarra in February 2006. That bombing led to the dramatic rise in sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites we've seen ever since, furthering Al Qaeda's goal of fomenting chaos and civil war. What's in it for them? They need territory, a place to plot their evil and train their murderers for another September 11. Al Qaeda intends to keep and expand its bases in the Sunni area of Anbar province. But we've made great progress in denying Al Qaeda that Anbar sanctuary, where the Commandant of the Marines, General Conway, says that "we have turned the corner." Fourteen of Anbar's eighteen tribal leaders no longer support Al Qaeda.
General Petraeus and our troops are giving their all to provide a window of opportunity for the Iraqi government to succeed, while the Democrats are running for the exit doors. The surge has only been in place since the middle of June, but progress has already been made. It's way too early to write an obituary for the surge as the Democrat defeatists are doing. Having unanimously confirmed General Petraeus to lead the surge, the Democrats should let him do the job they sent him to do and await his report in mid-September. They're Monday morning quarterbacking while we're still playing the game, and some of us are playing to win.
To pressure the Iraqis into seizing the day before darkness descends, President Bush and Secretary Gates have been emphatic that this window will not remain open forever. At the same time, setting a timetable for withdrawal tells our enemies they don't have to win, they just have to wait. We have never in our history declared war until "a week from Wednesday," we have always declared war until victory.
I am focused on winning. Withdrawal would have serious strategic consequences for us and horrific humanitarian consequences for the Iraqis. If we leave, Iraq's neighbors on all sides will face a refugee crisis and be drawn into the war: Iran to protect the Shiites; Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to protect the Sunnis; and Turkey to protect its control over its own Kurd population. Iraq is a crossroads where Arab meets Persian and Kurd, Sunni meets Shiite, so if it's not a peaceful buffer, it can easily become a tinder box for the region. When we deposed Saddam, we emphasized Iraq's central location as a prime place to establish democracy and have it spread. That was the potential dramatic upside. Now we're faced with the potential dramatic downside that the terrorists are fighting to take advantage of: Iraq's central location as a prime place to create chaos and have it spread .
I support a regional summit so that Iraq's neighbors become financially and militarily committed to stabilizing Iraq now rather than financially and militarily committed to widening the war later. This summit will add more voices, Muslim voices, to the pressure to perform we're already applying to the Maliki government.
20. National Security/Foreign Policy: War On Terror
* I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. This war is not a conventional war, and these terrorists are not a conventional enemy.
* The top priority of the President as Commander in Chief is first and foremost protecting our own citizens.
* With a focus on renewed diplomacy and inclusion, we can accomplish the goals of our nation without having to go it alone.
* During the Cold War, we had hawks and doves, but this new war requires us to be a phoenix, rising reborn to meet each new challenge and seize each new opportunity.
* As President, I will fight this war hard, but I will also fight it smart, using all our political, economic, diplomatic, and intelligence weapons as well as our military might.
* The terrorists train in small, scattered groups. We can accomplish a great deal with swift, surgical air strikes and commando raids by our elite units.
* We have to get tough with President Musharaff who has allowed Al Qaeda and the Taliban to have bases in Waziristan.
* We don't have a dog in the fight between Sunnis and Shiites - our enemy is Islamic extremism in all its guises.
* The long-term solution is to empower moderates in the region by attacking the underlying conditions that breed terror.
* Part of winning the war on terror is achieving energy independence.
* I believe in the Powell Doctrine of using overwhelming force to accomplish a mission.
* I have the executive and crisis management experience, the judgment and the temperament to be an effective commander in chief.
* I will expand the army and increase the defense budget.
I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. Radical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life. They have sworn to annihilate each of us who believe in a free society, all in the name of a perversion of religion and an impersonal god. We go to great extremes to save lives, they go to great extremes to take them. This war is not a conventional war, and these terrorists are not a conventional enemy. I will fight the war on terror with the intensity and single-mindedness that it deserves.
The top priority of the president as Commander in Chief is first and foremost protecting our own citizens. While we live in a neighborhood of nations and must strive to be good neighbors, as President, I will ensure the peace, safety, and well-being of American citizens at home and abroad.
While I prefer America to be safe and secure within her own borders rather than loved and appreciated abroad, I believe we can accomplish both goals. We can resurrect relationships with our allies and neighbors. With a focus on renewed diplomacy and inclusion, we can accomplish the goals of our nation without having to go it alone.
When the sun rose on September 11, we were the only superpower in the world; when the sun set that day, we were still the only superpower, but how different the world looked. During the Cold War, you were a hawk or a dove, but this new world requires us to be a phoenix, to rise from the ashes of the twin towers with a whole new game plan for this very different enemy. Being a phoenix means constantly reinventing ourselves, dying to mistakes and miscalculations, changing tactics and strategies, rising reborn to meet each new challenge and seize each new opportunity.
As president, I will fight this war hard, but I will also fight it smart, using all our political, economic, diplomatic, and intelligence weapons as well as our military might. The terrorists unfortunately have a great many sympathizers all over the world, folks who are happy to show up and be filmed shouting "Death to America," but the actual number of those willing to blow themselves up is relatively few, and they train and plot in small, scattered groups.
It's an enemy conducive to being tracked down and eliminated by using the CIA and the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command. We can accomplish a great deal, we can achieve tremendous bang for the buck, with swift, surgical air strikes and commando raids by our elite units, working with friendly governments, as we've done with the Ethiopians in Somalia. These operations are impossible without first-rate intelligence. When the Cold War ended, we cut back on our human intelligence, just as we cut back on our armed forces, and both have come back to haunt us. As President, I will beef up our human intelligence capacity, both the operatives who gather information and the analysts who figure out what it means.
Right after September 11, with wounds fresh and emotions running high, President Bush declared that all other countries were either for us or they were for the terrorists. Such a black-and-white stance doesn't work in the Arab and Muslim worlds, where there are more shades of gray than you'll find at Sherwin-Williams. Is President Musharaff of Pakistan for us 100%? No, since September 11, he's been playing both ends in the middle to survive. At the moment he's pulled too far away from us. While we have been focused on Iraq, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have expanded their training camps in the Waziristan region of Pakistan with impunity. This bodes ominously not just for Afghanistan, but also for Al Qaeda's plotting and training for more attacks all over the world, including here in the United States. This is the direct result of an ill-conceived autonomy agreement President Musharaff made with Waziristan's tribal leaders. In fact the tribal leader Musharaff has praised for fighting foreign terrorists, Mullah Nazir, recently said that he would protect Osama bin Laden! We have to get tough with Mursharaff and re-calibrate the carrots and sticks we use with him. Pakistan is the fifth largest recipient of American aid, and right now we're not getting real good value. We're in a game of chicken with this military dictator: he warns us not to pursue terrorists across the border with Afghanistan, not to strike their bases on his territory because it could cause his government to fall and an even less friendly figure to take his job. But we have to make clear to him that he is of no use to us if he allows the Taliban and Al Qaeda to use his territory with impunity. The current situation highlights that, despite our generous aid, both the Taliban and Al Qaeda enjoy a disturbing degree of popularity in Pakistan. Ultimately it is this popularity contest, this war of ideas, that we have to win. Creativity and flexibility are Musharaff's keys to retaining power.
Creativity and flexibility are our keys to dealing with him and other Muslim leaders. Instead of asking if someone is for us, instead of demanding that every ally be at the level of Great Britain, I will ask if we should be for them, if they can be useful in any way, however limited, however temporary.
The terrorists have succeeded in dividing us over how to fight them, but we are not taking full advantage of their divisions and of the broader divisions in the region. For example, Hamas, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah are all terrorist groups, but Hamas and Al Qaeda are Sunni and hate Hezbollah, which is Shiite, as much as they hate us. We are worried about the Iranians extending their sphere of influence west, but so are the Sunni Arabs in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, who dislike the Iranians not just because they are Shiites, but because they are Persians. Fighting smart means learning the neighborhood, achieving a level of political, religious, and cultural sophistication about the Arab and Islamic worlds that will pay huge dividends for us. We have to know the cast of characters, not just the national political leaders and their leading opponents, but the clerics, the tribal and clan leaders. We get criticized for our arrogance, but it's our ignorance that's killing us.
As for the underlying dispute between Sunnis and Shiites that's been going on for fourteen hundred years, we don't have a dog in that fight. Our enemy is Islamic extremism in all its guises. The Saudis want us to support extremist Sunni groups to counter growing Iranian influence. The Saudis assure us that they can control these groups and keep them from turning against us. We saw how well that turned out with Al Qaeda. I will support moderates, not extremists, with no favoring of Sunnis or Shiites.
The long-term solution to terror is to empower moderates in the region. My goal in the Middle and Near East is to correctly calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy. It's self-defeating to try to accomplish too much too soon, you just have elections where extremists win, but it's equally self-defeating to do nothing. First, we have to destroy the terrorists who already exist, then we have to attack the underlying conditions that breed terror, by creating schools that offer an alternative to the extremist madrassas that take impressionable children and turn them into killers, by creating jobs and opportunity and hope, by encouraging a free press and other institutions that promote democracy. The recent rising appeal of Al Qaeda across North Africa - Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia - shows why we have to do better in the war of ideas - and soon.
In the past, we've been constrained from helping some of the good guys because our dependence on oil has forced us to support repressive regimes, to conduct our foreign policy with one hand tied behind our back. It's time, it's past time, to untie that hand and reach out to the moderates with both hands. Oil has not just shaped our foreign policy, it has deformed it. When I make foreign policy, I want to be able to treat Saudi Arabia the same way I treat Sweden, and that requires us to be energy independent. These folks have had us over a barrel - literally - for way too long. The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. We will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term. We will explore, we will conserve, and we will pursue all avenues of alternative energy - nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass.
If I ever have to undertake a large invasion, I will follow the Powell Doctrine and use overwhelming force. The notion of an "occupation with a light footprint" that was our paradigm for Iraq always struck me as a contradiction in terms. Liberating a country and occupying it are two different missions. Occupation inevitably demands a lot of boots on the ground. Instead of marginalizing General Shinseki when he said we needed several hundred thousand troops for Iraq, I would have met privately with him and carefully weighed his advice and his underlying analysis.
Our current armed forces aren't large enough - we have been relying far too heavily on our National Guard and our Reserves, we have worn them out. When our enemies know that we are spread thin, they're more apt to test us by provoking a crisis. Having a sizeable standing army actually makes it less likely that we'll have to use it. So I will increase the defense budget. We have to be ready to fight both conventional and unconventional wars against both state and non-state enemies. Right now we spend about 3.9% of our GDP on defense, while we spent about 6% in 1986 under President Reagan. I would return to that 6% level. I believe we can do this without raising taxes. I will limit increases in other discretionary spending and rely on the normal increase in federal tax revenue that is generated annually as Americans' incomes rise.
Crises arise suddenly and unpredictably, and no one has the database for every possible scenario. What we have to evaluate is the strength of a leader's operating system, because if that's sound, he can always add the data. I'll be an effective commander in chief because I have executive experience and crisis management experience. My record as Governor shows that I'm intellectually curious, a quick study, and have sound judgment. I will get advice from a broad circle with differing perspectives and portfolios; encourage dissent and stay out of the bubble; refuse to wilt under criticism, but also be flexible and ready to change course if a policy isn't working. I will communicate my rationale for our foreign and defense policies clearly and frequently to Congress and to the American people.
21. Cuba Policy
* I am committed to being a staunch ally in the cause of a free and democratic Cuba, where Fidel Castro's communist totalitarian dictatorship has oppressed the Cuban people for nearly five decades.
* The United States must continue to lead the world in condemning the human rights abuses inflicted on the Cuban people and isolating Castro's tyrannical regime both economically and diplomatically.
* As President, I will oppose any efforts to lift trade and travel restrictions on the Cuban dictatorship and will veto any legislation seeking to lift these restrictions until three conditions are met: scheduling of free, fair and internationally-supervised multi-party elections, freeing of all political prisoners, and legalization of all political activity and civil liberties.
For 48 years, Cuba's communist dictatorship has been a destabilizing force in our hemisphere. Fidel Castro has supported and promoted violent revolution as well as terrorist activity. Cuba remains on the U.S. Department of State's list of nations that sponsor terrorism. Castro's brand of tyranny is now evident in the dictatorial actions of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. In sum, the demise of the Castro regime would be a welcomed development for our hemisphere and for the Cuban people.
United States policy toward Cuba is clear. The 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (Libertad Act) provides a road map for America's goal of expediting a transition to democracy in Cuba and assisting the Cuban people in a post-Castro democratic transition. As President, I will enforce and implement all provisions of U.S. law governing policy toward Cuba including the Libertad Act. I will continue President Bush's policy of pursuing indictments against any Cuban officials, including Raul Castro, responsible for crimes against U.S. citizens. I will further support efforts to bring to justice any American fugitive criminals receiving safe haven in Cuba. The Castro dictatorship is an outlaw regime. As President, my administration will treat it as such.
* We must be able to feed ourselves as part of our national security.
* We must help our farmers lead the way to energy independence.
* As a percentage of national income, we spend only half as much on food as people in other developed countries. Subsidies help keep our food costs low by keeping production levels high.
* We need subsidies to help our farmers compete with heavily subsidized farmers in Europe and Asia and to insulate them from the effects of natural disasters.
* We need a counter cyclical revenue program that makes payments based on low yields as well as low prices, and we need a fully-funded crop insurance program.
* Our agricultural policies must encourage young people to enter and stay in farming.
* As President, I will watch out for our farmers because our national well-being depends on theirs.
A nation must provide its citizens freedom and security. To accomplish this, a nation must be able to defend itself and feed itself. We have learned how disastrous it is to be dependent on other countries for our energy needs – we must never be dependent for our food needs. Being able to feed ourselves is not just sound economic and agricultural policy, it is wise national security policy.
Besides growing our food, our farmers are growing our energy and leading the way to energy independence. We need more ethanol, including cellulose-based ethanol from sources such as switch grass and agricultural residues. We need more bio-fuels and bio-diesel from food processing wastes, such as fat from processing plants and used cooking oils. We need methane gas from livestock and dairy operations. These alternative fuels will not only make us independent, they will also provide additional markets for our farmers’ products and create more jobs in rural areas.
We take for granted that our food is not only plentiful and diverse, but also inexpensive. As a percentage of income, we spend about half what people in other developed countries do, which gives us an enormous economic advantage. We have so much more money to spend on discretionary items. Part of the reason prices are low is that subsidies keep production at high levels, so keeping American farmers in business is not just good for them but for all of us.
We must continue subsidies because our farmers compete with highly subsidized farmers in Europe and Asia, and they face fixed costs (land, equipment, seed, supplies) whether or not they produce a crop. Subsidies insulate farmers from natural disasters like droughts, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, as well as from sudden spikes in the price of fuel, feed, and fertilizer.
I also support a more flexible counter cyclical revenue program that makes payments based on low yields and/or low prices rather than the current program, which is based only on low prices. I support a fully-funded crop insurance program, so that Congress will not have to pass emergency assistance every time disaster strikes.
We need agricultural policies that encourage our young people to enter and stay in farming. They face the high costs of starting and capitalizing a farm, plus the fears generated by onerous government regulations and rapid policy changes. We have to reduce their risks and increase their potential for profitability. We have to assure that they have outstanding rural schools, state-of-the-art health care, and first-rate infrastructure.
As Governor of Arkansas, a state with about 47,000 farms growing 165 crops, I saw first hand how our farmers struggled to cope with the challenges of fluctuating prices, policies, and natural disasters, and I was constantly amazed that they would go back year after year. As President, I will always watch out for our farmers because our national well-being is inextricably interwoven with theirs.
23. Crisis Management
* You need to know that your President will calmly and confidently lift you up in a crisis. During the massive emergency of Hurricane Katrina, when local, state, and federal governments were in melt-down, I stepped forward and directed the rescue and relief of 75,000 victims. Our island of success in a sea of failure was one of the reasons Time magazine named me one of America's five best governors.
* I will remove FEMA from the Department of Homeland Security and restore it to Cabinet status, so that the Director reports directly to me. My FEMA Director will have sterling credentials, including extensive, hands-on experience in disaster response.
* I will reassess, tighten, and strengthen the focus and mission of the Department of Homeland Security. When the Department was formed, it brought together 180,000 people from 22 agencies, and its size and structure have proven to be unwieldy and inefficient.
* I will address the many unresolved issues from 9/11, such as the security of our ports and our chemical plants. I will not allow the federal government to pre-empt stricter state standards enacted for your protection.
You need to know that your President will calmly and confidently lift you up in a crisis. During the sudden and massive emergency of Hurricane Katrina, I conceived and directed the rescue and relief of 75,000 people. As Governor, I had dealt with severe ice storms and tornadoes and other emergencies within Arkansas, but Katrina was a major national disaster, one of the worst in our history. The scale and scope of that undertaking was the type of challenge I will face as President, and I met that challenge. Even though these people were displaced by a hurricane, the results were the same as if Al Qaeda had blown up the levees, so it was experience relevant to coping with a terrorist attack as well.
Given the massive incompetence at all levels of government, it didn't take much for anybody to look good during Katrina, mere competence would have made me and the people of Arkansas look like heroes. But I never settle for competence, I demand excellence, and that's what we achieved. We had plenty of state facilities, like armories, that we could have used - big, cavernous, impersonal places - but to me that wasn't housing people, that was warehousing them. In looking for alternatives, I thought of our church camps and scout camps, which had just closed for the season, and I invited their leaders to my office to ask if they would re-open for us. Not a single one said no. They gave me the keys to their kingdom.
Over that Labor Day weekend, we raised an army of volunteers, and we had folks making up beds and sorting clothes and chopping vegetables and grilling meat. I'll never forget the mountains of toys and diapers, the flats of bottled water as far as the eye could see. The stream of buses was endless, but we were ready for them, ready with a hug and a teddy bear, a hot shower, a new wardrobe, an inviting buffet. I had a clear vision of how I wanted to welcome and care for these people: they were beyond hungry and thirsty and dirty and exhausted, they had been traumatized and dehumanized, treated like packages bouncing around a UPS truck, and we brought them back to life.
When Congress put FEMA in the Department of Homeland Security, they moved its Director too far down the food chain. I will restore FEMA to Cabinet status, so that the Director reports directly to me. My FEMA Director will have sterling credentials, the leadership and management skills required by a cabinet-level job, including extensive, hands-on experience in disaster response.
I will reassess, tighten, and strengthen the focus and mission of the Department of Homeland Security. When the Department was formed, it brought together 180,000 people from 22 agencies, combining tasks as diverse and unrelated as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from the Agriculture Department and the Nuclear Incident Response Team from the Energy Department. Its size and structure have proven to be unwieldy and inefficient. We need to create a leaner structure with a passionate esprit de corps dedicated to identifying threats and foiling attacks.
I will address the many security issues still unresolved after 9/11, such as the security of our ports and our chemical plants. If states choose even tougher standards to protect their people, I will respect their authority and not allow the federal government to pre-empt those standards. When New Jersey passed standards for its chemical plants, lobbyists for the chemical companies tried to get Congress to pass weak federal legislation for these plants and to pre-empt New Jersey from enforcing its stricter standards. I will always fight for you, not the lobbyists.
I have been tested, and I have proven my ability to provide creative, decisive, and effective leadership during a major catastrophe. My crisis management ability is one of the reasons Time magazine named me one of America's five best governors.
24. 2nd Amendment Rights
* The Second Amendment is primarily about tyranny and self-defense, not hunting. The Founding Fathers wanted us to be
able to defend ourselves from our own government, if need be, and from all threats to our lives and property.
* Second Amendment rights belong to individuals, not cities or states. I oppose gun control based on geography.
* I consistently opposed banning assault weapons and opposed the Brady Bill.
* As Governor, I protected gun manufacturers from frivolous law suits.
* I was the first Governor in the country to have a concealed handgun license.
No candidate has a stronger, more consistent record on Second Amendment rights than I do. Our Founding Fathers, having endured the tyranny of the British Empire, wanted to guarantee our God-given liberties. They devised our three branches of government and our system of checks and balances. But they were still concerned that the system could fail, and that we might someday face a new tyranny from our own government. They wanted us to be able to defend ourselves, and that's why they gave us the Second Amendment. They knew that a government facing an armed populace was less likely to take away our rights, while a disarmed population wouldn't have much hope. As Ronald Reagan reminded us, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Without our Second Amendment rights, all of our other rights aren't inalienable, they're just "on loan" from the government.
Other candidates say gun control doesn't affect hunting. Now I'm a very avid hunter, but the Second Amendment isn't really about hunting. It's about tyranny and self-defense. The Founding Fathers weren't worried about our being able to bag a duck or a deer, they were worried about our keeping our fundamental freedoms.
I once saw a bumper sticker that said, "Criminals prefer unarmed victims." Criminals will always find a way to get guns. By disarming our law-abiding citizens, we take away the strongest deterrent to violent criminals - the uncertainty that they don't know who is helpless and who is armed. Our law enforcement officials can't be everywhere, all the time. Lawfully-armed citizens back them up and prevent robberies, rapes, and the murder of innocents. Right after Katrina, with law enforcement non-existent, many victims were able to protect their lives, their homes, and their precious supplies of food and water only because they were armed.
Other candidates believe gun control should be determined geographically, but Second Amendment rights belong to individuals, not cities or states. Your Second Amendment rights don't change when you change your address.
Other candidates filed frivolous law suits against gun manufacturers. When I was Governor, I protected gun manufacturers from exactly those types of suits. I allowed former law enforcement officials to carry concealed handguns and removed restrictions on concealed handgun permit holders. I was the first Governor in the country to have a concealed handgun license, and of course I'm a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.
Other candidates have supported banning assault weapons. When the federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004, I said, "May it rest in peace." It won't be returning in the Huckabee Administration.
Zealously protecting your Second Amendment rights is another way that I will lift all law-abiding Americans up, by consistently championing your right to defend yourself.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
What a load of scary crap! Can this platform really carry him into the White House?? (This is not an endorsement, just an opportunity for you all to get the poop straight from the source instead of filtered and diluted by Big Media.)
George Friedman at StratFor seems to think so....
Pakistan, Bhutto and the U.S.-Jihadist Endgame
January 2, 2008 | 2205 GMT
By George Friedman
The endgame of the U.S.-jihadist war always had to be played out in Pakistan. There are two reasons that could account for this. The first is simple: Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda command cell are located in Pakistan. The war cannot end while the command cell functions or has a chance of regenerating. The second reason is more complicated. The United States and NATO are engaged in a war in Afghanistan. Where the Soviets lost with 300,000 troops, the Americans and NATO are fighting with less than 50,000. Any hope of defeating the Taliban, or of reaching some sort of accommodation, depends on isolating them from Pakistan. So long as the Taliban have sanctuary and logistical support from Pakistan, transferring all coalition troops in Iraq to Afghanistan would have no effect. And withdrawing from Afghanistan would return the situation to the status quo before Sept. 11. If dealing with the Taliban and destroying al Qaeda are part of any endgame, the key lies in Pakistan.
U.S. strategy in Pakistan has been to support Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and rely on him to purge and shape his country’s army to the extent possible to gain its support in attacking al Qaeda in the North, contain Islamist radicals in the rest of the country and interdict supplies and reinforcements flowing to the Taliban from Pakistan. It was always understood that this strategy was triply flawed.
First, under the best of circumstances, a completely united and motivated Pakistani army’s ability to carry out this mission effectively was doubtful. And second, the Pakistani army was — and is — not completely united and motivated. Not only was it divided, one of its major divisions lay between Taliban supporters sympathetic to al Qaeda and a mixed bag of factions with other competing interests. Distinguishing between who was on which side in a complex and shifting constellation of relationships was just about impossible. That meant the army the United States was relying on to support the U.S. mission was, from the American viewpoint, inherently flawed.
It must be remembered that the mujahideen’s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan shaped the current Pakistani army. Allied with the Americans and Saudis, the Pakistani army — and particularly its intelligence apparatus, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — had as its mission the creation of a jihadist force in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. The United States lost interest in Afghanistan after the fall of the Soviet Union, but the Pakistanis did not have that option. Afghanistan was right next door. An interesting thing happened at that point. Having helped forge the mujahideen and its successor, the Taliban, the Pakistani army and ISI in turn were heavily influenced by their Afghan clients’ values. Patron and client became allies. And this created a military force that was extremely unreliable from the U.S. viewpoint.
Third, Musharraf’s intentions were inherently unpredictable. As a creature of the Pakistani army, Musharraf reflects all of the ambivalences and tensions of that institution. His primary interest was in holding on to power. To do that, he needed to avoid American military action in Pakistan while simultaneously reassuring radical Islamists he was not a mere tool of the United States. Given the complexity of his position, no one could ever be certain of where Musharraf stood. His position was entirely tactical, shifting as political necessity required. He was constantly placating the various parties, but since the process of placation for the Americans meant that he take action against the jihadists, constant ineffective action by Musharraf resulted. He took enough action to keep the Americans at bay, not enough to force his Islamist enemies to take effective action against him.
Ever since Sept. 11, Musharraf has walked this tightrope, shifting his balance from one side to the other, with the primary aim of not falling off the rope. This proved unsatisfactory to the United States, as well as to Musharraf’s Islamist opponents. While he irritated everybody, the view from all factions — inside and outside Pakistan — was that, given the circumstances, Musharraf was better than the alternative. Indeed, that could have been his campaign slogan: “Vote for Musharraf: Everything Else is Worse.”
From the U.S. point of view, Musharraf and the Pakistani army might have been unreliable, but any alternative imaginable would be even worse. Even if their actions were ineffective, some actions were taken. At the very least, they were not acting openly and consistently against the United States. Were Musharraf and the Pakistani army to act consistently against U.S. interests as Russian logistical support for U.S. operations in Afghanistan waned, the U.S./NATO position in Afghanistan could simply crack.
Therefore, the U.S. policy in Pakistan was to do everything possible to make certain Musharraf didn’t fall or, more precisely, to make sure the Pakistani army didn’t fragment and its leadership didn’t move into direct and open opposition to the United States. The United States understood that the more it pressed Musharraf and the more he gave, the less likely he was to survive and the less certain became the Pakistani army’s cohesion. Thus, the U.S. strategy was to press for action, but not to the point of destabilizing Pakistan beyond its natural instability. The priority was to maintain Musharraf in power, and failing that, to maintain the Pakistani army as a cohesive, non-Islamist force.
In all of this, there was one institution that, on the whole, had to support him. That was the Pakistani army. The Pakistani army was the one functioning national institution in Pakistan. For the senior leaders, it was a vehicle to maintain their own power and position. For the lowest enlisted man, the army was a means for upward mobility, an escape from the grinding poverty of the slums and villages. The Pakistani army obviously was factionalized, but no faction had an interest in seeing the army fragment. Their own futures were at stake. And therefore, so long as Musharraf kept the army together, they would live with him. Even the less radical Islamists took that view.
A single personality cannot maintain a balancing act like this indefinitely; one of three things will happen. First, he can fall off the rope and become the prisoner of one of the factions. Second, he can lose credibility with all factions — with the basic political configuration remaining intact but with the system putting forth a new personality to preside. Third, he can build up his power, crush the factions and start calling the shots. This last is the hardest strategy, because in this case, it would be converting a role held due to the lack of alternatives into a position of power. That is a long reach.
Nevertheless, that is why Musharraf decided to declare a state of emergency. No one was satisfied with him any longer, and pressure was building for him to “take off his uniform” — in other words, to turn the army over to someone else and rule as a civilian. Musharraf understood that it was only a matter of time before his personal position collapsed and the army realized that, given the circumstances, the collapse of Musharraf could mean the fragmentation of the army. Musharraf therefore tried to get control of the situation by declaring a state of emergency and getting the military backing for it. His goal was to convert the state of emergency — and taking off his uniform — into a position from which to consolidate his power.
It worked to an extent. The army backed the state of emergency. No senior leader challenged him. There were no mutinies among the troops. There was no general uprising. He was condemned by everyone from the jihadists to the Americans, but no one took any significant action against him. The situation was precarious, but it appeared he might well emerge from the state of emergency in a politically enhanced position. Enhanced was the best he could hope for. He would not be able to get off the tightrope, but at the same time, simply calling a state of emergency and not triggering a massive response would enhance his position.
Parliamentary elections were scheduled for Jan. 8 and are now delayed until Feb. 18. Given the fragmentation of Pakistani society, the most likely outcome was a highly fragmented parliament, one that would be hard-pressed to legislate, let alone to serve as a powerbase. In the likely event of gridlock, Musharraf’s position as the indispensable — if disliked — man would be strengthened. By last week, Musharraf must have been looking forward to the elections. Elections would confirm his position, which was that the civil institutions could not function and that the army, with or without him as official head, had to remain the center of the Pakistani polity.
Then someone killed Benazir Bhutto and changed the entire dynamic of Pakistan. Though Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party probably would have gained a substantial number of seats, it was unlikely to sweep the election and seriously threaten the military’s hold on power. Bhutto was simply one of the many forces competing for power. As a woman, representing an essentially secular party, she was unlikely to be a decisive winner. In many ways, she reminds us of Mikhail Gorbachev, who was much more admired by Westerners than he ever was by Russians. She was highly visible and a factor in Pakistani politics, but if Musharraf were threatened, the threat would not come from her.
Therefore, her murder is a mystery. It is actually a mystery on two levels. First, it is not clear who did it. Second, it is not clear how the deed was done. The murder of a major political leader is always hard to unravel. Confusion reigns from the first bullet fired in a crowd. The first account of events always turns out to be wrong, as do the second through fifth accounts, too. That is how conspiracy theories are spawned. Getting the facts straight in any murder is tough. Getting them straight in a political assassination is even harder. Paradoxically, more people witnessing such incidents translates into greater confusion, since everyone has a different perspective and a different tale. Conspiracy theorists can have a field day picking and choosing among confused reports by shocked and untrained observers.
Nevertheless, the confusion in this case appears to be way beyond the norm. Was there a bomber and a separate shooter with a pistol next to her car? If this were indeed a professional job, why was the shooter inappropriately armed with a pistol? Was Bhutto killed by the pistol-wielding shooter, shrapnel from the bomb, a bullet from a third assassin on a nearby building or even inside her car, or by falling after the bomb detonated? How did the killer or killers know Bhutto would stand up and expose herself through her armored vehicle’s sunroof? Very few of the details so far make sense.
And that reflects the fact that nothing about the assassination makes sense. Who would want Bhutto dead? Musharraf had little motivation. He had enemies, and she was one of them, but she was far from the most dangerous of them. And killing her would threaten an election that did not threaten him or his transition to a new status. Ordering her death thus would not have made a great deal of sense for Musharraf.
Whoever ordered her death would have had one of two motives. First, they wanted to destabilize Pakistan, or second, they wanted to kill her in such a way as to weaken Musharraf’s position by showing that the state of emergency had failed. The jihadists certainly had every reason to want to kill her — along with a long list of Pakistani politicians, including Musharraf. They want to destabilize Pakistan, but if they can do so and implicate Musharraf at the same time, so much the sweeter.
The loser in the assassination was Musharraf. He is probably too canny a politician to have planned the killing without anticipating this outcome. Whoever did this wanted to do more than kill Bhutto. They wanted to derail Musharraf’s attempt to retain his control over the government. This was a complex operation designed to create confusion.
Our first suspect is al Qaeda sympathizers who would benefit from the confusion spawned by the killing of an important political leader. The more allegations of complicity in the killing are thrown against the regime, the more the military regime is destabilized — thus expanding opportunities for jihadists to sow even more instability. Our second suspects are elements in the army wanting to use the assassination to force Musharraf out, replace him with a new personality and justify a massive crackdown.
Two parties we cannot imagine as suspects in the killing are the United States and Musharraf; neither benefited from the killing. Musharraf now faces the political abyss and the United States faces the destabilization of Pakistan as the Taliban is splintering and various jihadist leaders are fragmenting. This is the last moment the United States would choose to destabilize Pakistan. Our best guess is that the killing was al Qaeda doing what it does best. The theory that it was anti-Musharraf elements in the army comes in at a very distant second.
But the United States now faces its endgame under far less than ideal conditions. Iraq is stabilizing. That might reverse, but for now it is stabilizing. The Taliban is strong, but it is under pressure and has serious internal problems. The endgame always was supposed to come in Pakistan, but this is far from how the Americans wanted to play it out. The United States is not going to get an aggressive, anti-Islamist military in Pakistan, but it badly needs more than a Pakistani military that is half-heartedly and tenuously committed to the fight. Salvaging Musharraf is getting harder with each passing day. So that means that a new personality, such as Pakistani military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, must become Washington’s new man in Pakistan. In this endgame, all that the Americans want is the status quo in Pakistan. It is all they can get. And given the way U.S. luck is running, they might not even get that.
Again, we report, you decide.
The short version:
The short version:
This is exactly topsy-turvy ass-backwards: A company is sued because it develops something really, really popular. Popularity is actionable; a monopoly is not.
In the annals of irony, the antitrust suit that accuses Apple of illegally maintaining a monopoly in the digital music market by failing to support Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio format ranks right up there with Ludwig van Beethoven’s loss of hearing and American Civil War General John Sedgwick proclaiming “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance” moments before being shot through the eye by a Confederate sniper. It’s so ironic it’s almost post-ironic.Link.
Filed by Windows Media Audio fetishist Stacie Somers in late December, the suit claims Apple’s current dominance of the market for online video, online music and digital music players constitutes a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
“Apple’s iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format,” the complaint states, noting that America Online, Wal-Mart, Napster, MusicMatch, Best Buy, Yahoo Music, FYE Download Zone and Virgin Digital all support WMA. “Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice, and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs had himself compared Apple’s digital music dominance to Microsoft’s personal computer operating system dominance, calling Apple’s Music Store ‘the Microsoft of music stores’ in a meeting with financial analysts.”
The suit further alleges that while iPods have the hardware to play WMA files, Apple purposely prevents them from doing so. “Apple, however, deliberately designed the iPod’s software so that it would only play a single protected digital format, Apple’s FairPlay-modified AAC format,” the complaint states. “Deliberately disabling a desirable feature of a computer product is known as ‘crippling’ a product, and software that does this is known as ‘crippleware.’ ”
So to summarize: Apple’s hard won success in the digital media market has made it a monopolist. And as a solution to its monopolistic behavior, the plaintiff proposes forcing the company to license a proprietary media format developed by a convicted monopolist. This, in spite of the fact that Apple’s iPod supports not only the FairPlay-modified AAC audio format, but the vendor-neutral AAC format and the MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV formats as well.
See the logic in that?
The War Room tells us why the wingnuts thought the financial markets tanked 4 January.
Reason? Romney came in a distant second in the Iowa caucuses. No, they really believe so.
Or maybe it had to do with Britney mishugas. But it had nothing to do with with lousy employment numbers and other ongoing, well, crises in the financial markets. (What is the story about Citibank's loans? Citi doesn't know either -- them and all the other big banks.) As I was saying, an economy turning so bad that Beloved Leader is considering government action. (Don't worry, Our Leaders will do nothing to help people like us, it'll just be some sort of bailout for Big Wealth.)
Reason? Romney came in a distant second in the Iowa caucuses. No, they really believe so.
Or maybe it had to do with Britney mishugas. But it had nothing to do with with lousy employment numbers and other ongoing, well, crises in the financial markets. (What is the story about Citibank's loans? Citi doesn't know either -- them and all the other big banks.) As I was saying, an economy turning so bad that Beloved Leader is considering government action. (Don't worry, Our Leaders will do nothing to help people like us, it'll just be some sort of bailout for Big Wealth.)
First, the party line from Matt Taibbi, for a little context.
Now, let's poke around.
And then there's Alexander Cockburn, and I find it, well, almost persuasive:
But as an antidote to Cockburn, see what the Huck wants you to believe he believes (at least policy-wise).
We report, you decide!
Now, let's poke around.
We already knew the Republican Party establishment was apoplectic about Mike Huckabee's rise. Not only does it see him as easily defeated in the general election, it sees him as an outsider, someone too much of -- rather than merely close to -- the party's evangelical base. And it has some substantial problems with his policy prescriptions, which tend too far to the big government side. Still, the party's elite operatives and pundits have mostly allowed Huckabee to enjoy at least one moment in the sun post-Iowa before they go back on the warpath against him.Link.
Not the devotedly pro-corporate, anti-big-government Wall Street Journal editorial page, though. The proverbial body of the Iowa caucuses was barely cold before it printed an Op-Ed attacking Huckabee as unacceptably leftist, comparing him even to boogeymen FDR and history's greatest monster, Jimmy Carter. The author, one David J. Sanders, writes, "Mr. Huckabee portrays himself as the dream candidate of the religious right ... With increasing frequency, Mr. Huckabee invokes his faith when advocating greater government involvement in just about every aspect of American life. In doing so, Mr. Huckabee has actually answered the prayers of the religious left."
Sanders goes on to say that it would be difficult for Huckabee to enact the social conservative part of his agenda, but that the economically liberal aspects would sail through as the result of "a Democratic Congress ... more than willing to let him live out his faith on the taxpayers' dime."
Elsewhere, radio host, blogger and columnist Hugh Hewitt, an unabashed propagandist for Mitt Romney, whose thunder Huckabee has stolen, has a long broadside against Huckabee today. Hewitt darkly suggests something Huckabee's own advisors were happy to suggest -- that Huckabee may be killing the coalition Ronald Reagan built -- and attacks Huckabee over and over again on illegal immigration. (I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you want to know early what the talking points out of the campaigns Hewitt supports will be, just read his writings. Look for Romney to repeatedly bash Huckabee over the head on illegal immigration in coming days.)
Noting that there's still time in the campaign, Hewitt writes, "Wyoming, New Hampshire and Michigan Republicans have to decide if the [Reagan] coalition and what it stands for are worth fighting for. If they do, they will follow the lead of the editors of National Review and get behind a Romney comeback."
"No one has articulated the message of the religious left more effectively than Mr. Huckabee," writes David Sanders in Friday's Wall Street Journal. That's right -- the religious left. Huckabee, explains Sanders, believes that his faith justifies "advocating greater government involvement in just about every aspect of American life."Link.
Call it crazy, this notion that Jesus might have considered the alleviation of poverty a moral imperative for government, but Huckabee appears to believe it. His victory in the Iowa caucus has plunged mainstream Republicans into a distraught tizzy: a "Huey Long populist," as one commentator at the conservative blog RedState put it, his keyboard dripping with disgust, is, for today, the most popular Republican candidate for president.
Writes Sanders in "Mike Huckabee's New Deal: More God, More Government":As governor, he championed the ARKids First, which extended free health insurance not only to children of the working poor but to some lower middle-class families. He pleased teachers unions with his consistent opposition to school choice and voucher programs. He satisfied labor by signing into law a minimum-wage hike of 21 percent. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" -- Mr. Huckabee's oft-cited scriptural justification for growing government -- proved costly for Arkansans, who saw government spending double and their taxes rise about a half-billion dollars during his tenure.In the orgy of analysis sweeping the Net and the airwaves last night, (finally, finally, we have some real numbers to chew on) conservative commentators did their absolute best to marginalize Huckabee by pointing to the overwhelming support he received from self-identified "evangelicals." They desperately want to believe that Huckabee's win has nothing to do with his "government-should-help-the-little-guy" message and everything to do with the way he bears a cross as if it were a coat of arms.
Maybe they're right. Maybe Iowan evangelicals were so blinded by the light shining from that cross that they couldn't see (or didn't care about) his heretical economic platform. Or maybe the opposite is true -- maybe the Republican punditocracy is so blind to growing economic angst and uncertainty in the United States that they simply can't comprehend that Huckabee's popularity might have something to do with the fact that he is the only Republican candidate (outside of, possibly, Ron Paul) who sincerely appears to care that some people are having a hard time right now.
If some portion of Huckabee's support does come from evangelicals who are comfortable with the thought that Jesus might care about the environment, poverty, and hunger, or that, as Huckabee said in August, "we can't ignore that there are kids every day in this country that literally don't have enough food and adequate drinking water in America," then Republicans are faced with a great paradox. The GOP long ago made its bed with Jesus Christ. But there's nothing in the Bible that equates belief in the savior with a belief in small government and tax cuts for the rich. By selling its soul to Christian conservatives, the GOP may have surrendered its own ability to define the conservative economic platform.
Democrats have reason to be ecstatic, and not just because of the massive voter turnout for their candidates in Iowa. Should one of the other, more "traditional" Republican candidates manage to seize control of primary momentum and make Huckabee's victory seem like just a bad dream, where will the Christian conservatives who are concerned about the economy -- in an election year that quite possibly could include a recession -- go?
Because you don't have to look far to find a preacher on the other side of the fence, as anyone who watched Barack Obama's victory speech Thursday night can tell you.
And then there's Alexander Cockburn, and I find it, well, almost persuasive:
Suddenly it's Huckabee. The surge of the former Arkansas governor in the race for the Republican nomination has the pell-mell excitement of one of Napoleon's victorious rampages across Europe in his heyday. In this case the long faces belong not to the crowned heads of the Grand Alliance, but to the Republican establishment, quivering with terror at the thought of their doughty standard bearer in 2008 being a former Baptist minister, a fellow who thinks God created the world 6000 years ago more or less in its current form.
The great dread of American political establishments down the decades has been that a wild man will suddenly sneak past all obstructions cunningly devised to repel uncomfortable surprises and upset the apple cart. Democrats even today shiver at the memory of William Jennings Bryan, another implacable foe of Charles Darwin, who ran on a silver platform in the late nineteenth century. George Wallace, a redneck governor out of Alabama, ran as an independent presidential candidate in 1968 and Richard Nixon was terrified that he would steal enough votes to throw the race to the Democrat, Hubert Humphrey. A would-be assassin's bullet put paid to that threat.
The clamor about Huckabee's Christian beliefs is overdone, not least among the left whose bigotry on matters of religion is particularly unappetizing. A robust majority of all Americans, so polls unfailingly show, maintain they have had personal encounters with Jesus Christ. Ronald Reagan believed and publicly stated more than once that the Apocalypse was scheduled to occur in his lifetime at Megiddo, as excitingly trailered in the Good Book. The soigné Governor Mitt Romney, now displaced by Huckabee as the front runner, is a Mormon and thus, unless he is a heretic from the Latter Day Saints on this specific issue, believes that Christ was Lucifer's older brother, as Huckabee has not been slow in pointing out.
But Huckabee should not be dismissed as simply the creature of the Christian fundamentalists who play a very significant role in the Republican primaries and who are currently hoisting him in the polls. Of course they like Huckabee for all the obvious reasons, and because the alternatives are the Mormon Romney or Giuliani, who's hopped from wife to wife, shared an apartment with a male gay couple and favors abortion.
But on many substantive matters, demonstrated during his ten years as the governor of Arkansas, Huckabee was often a progressive, with enlightened views and a record of substantive executive action on immigration, public health, education of poor kids and the possibility of redemption for convicted criminals. In his ten years as governor, Huckabee commuted the sentences of, or outright pardoned, over 1,200 felons including a dozen murderers. This was a courageous and unparalleled display of enlightenment in a country whose interest in rehabilitation is near zero. As Huckabee said in answer to Mitt "throw away the key" Romney, should a woman convicted of check-kiting when she was 17, have this criminal offense prevent her from getting a job thirty years later?
Democrats started by chortling over Huckabee's meteoric rise in the national polls.
The Democratic National Committee supposedly ordered a moratorium to onslaughts on the Arkansas governor in the hopes that as the nominee he will be roadkill for them in the race next fall. This patronizing posture is already fraying. Huckabee would not be a pushover. He's quick on his feet, has an easy sense of humor and has a powerful appeal to Americans unconvinced by any of the major contenders.
Thus far, beyond hee-haws at his Christian fundamentalism, the most the liberals can come up with is that he intervened to save his son from very nasty charges of dog-abuse at a Boy Scout camp and that among those whose sentences he commuted was a rapist, Wayne Dumond, who killed at least one woman after his release. Murray Waas has devoted thousands of plodding words to the case.
It's chilling to watch liberals and pwogs thundering their outrage at the mere idea of pardons or commutations, as though one of the besetting horrors of America today isn't the penological mindset that puts people behind bars for decades, or the living death of what the criminal justice industry laconically terms LWOP, Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Let's go back to 1988, when Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis, who had supervised an elightened parole and day-release program as governor of Massachusetts, was trashed for letting Willie Horton out of prison on a weekend pass. Who first raised the Horton issue. No, not George Bush Sr. Not Lee Atwater. It was Al Gore, in the '88 Democratic primaries.
Of course, if you decide not to let people rot in prison for forty years, and let some of them out, there's a chance there'll be a Dumond or a Horton among those released. That's a risk. To say that it's an unacceptable risk is the same as saying there's a risk in administering the death penalty, because an innocent person might get gassed or killed with poison, but that nonetheless the price is worth it. Some guy with a DUI on his record gets his license back, gets loaded again and kills another carload of innocents. So, we should bring in a lifetime ban of all DUIs from driving ever again? More people get killed by drivers with DUIs on their record than by convicted killers let out of prison, or for that matter by sex offenders. These days, with liberal assent, sex offenders serve their full terms and still can't get out of prison. Run a society totally on principles of revenge, not forgiveness or redemption and you end up in the realm of Milton's Moloch, "besmeared with blood of human sacrifice and parents' tears."
Then there are the corruption charges. Huckabee accepted gift vouchers for meals at Taco Bell and had a registry at Target and Dillard's where he and his wife got big-ticket items like a Jack LaLanne juicer. Hold the front page! From reading the furious brayings of Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, you'd think Huckabee was the Emperor Bokassa, of the Central African Republic, crowned on a golden throne, wearing a Roman toga embroidered with a hundred thousand pearls, then driving off in a coach pulled by six white horses flown from Paris.
Try as they may, dustrakers like Taibbi have a hard time showing Huckabee was anything more than a piker in the perks department.
Here's some of the record of shame. Total for items requested on the Target wedding registry, $ 2,282, including a 12-piece cookware set for $ 249, a DeLonghi retro 4-slice toaster for $ 39. 99 , napkins, kitchen towels, two king-sized pillows and a clock. Total on the Dillard's registry, $4,635, not omittting the Jack Lalanne juicer for $ 100.
True, the Huckabees got married in 1974, but they had that covenant marriage in 2005, which is certainly as convincing as Hillary Clinton saying she just got lucky when, as Arkansas' first lady she made $99,000 on cattle futures off an initial stake of $1,000, the whole miraculous bonanza organized by a guy in the retinue of Don Tyson, the largest food processor in the state of Arkansas. More convincing, actually.
As so often with American politicians accused of graft and corruption, one reels back in embarrassment at the tiny sums involved. In 2003 Huckabee was fined $250 by the State Ethics Commission of bringing shame on Arkansas by accepting a $500 canoe from Coca-Cola in 2001. The Comission also gave him a rap on the knuckles for not reporting acceptance of a $200 stadium blanket the same year. He probably wanted it to put over his knees in the canoe.
Huckabee appealed the sanctions to Pulaski County Circuit Court. Judge Fox said he should have owned up to the blanket, but threw out the $ 250 fine, finding that there wasn't sufficient evidence to show that the canoe, painted with the words "Coke, Arkansas and You," illegally rewarded Huckabee for doing his job as governor. Huckabee battled other such charges, including more substantial gifts of clothes and furniture. It was all familiar stuff, to connoisseurs of small-time corruption charges. Were the suits for the shrunken Huckabee to deploy to Arkansas' advantage at conferences of governors or trade trips abroad? Was the furniture for the rehabbed governor's mansion while Mr and Mors Huckabee roosted in the double-wide?
Arkansas underpays its governors as a matter of policy, forcing them into a flexible ethical posture, as opposed to chill high mindedness. Incorruptibles are often more of a menace to society. The American way, which isn't so bad, is to have the laws on the books, for proper use if things start getting seriously out of control. Corruption, held within bounds, is a useful lubricant. Is it really worse for Muscovites to slip the traffic cop 500 roubles ($20), thus paying a de facto fine, as opposed to getting a ticket, and mailing in your $250 speeding fine to the County Superior Court?
Bill Clinton got $20,000 a year for governing Arkansas. Huckabee got $80,000.
These guys had to go to McDonalds or Taco Bell. It's all they could afford. Of course they pocketed $10,000 bribes in cash for issuing end use certificates and the like. If the truth be told, Gov Clinton in his Arkansas days in the governor's mansion, was a piker in corruption, just like Huckabee. The laughable thing about Whitewater was the pathetically small sums the Clintons stood to make if all went well, which they did not. When the tribunal investigating Irish prime minister Charles Haughey finally concluded its labors, long after his death, I totted up the proven bribes and it came to something like $50 million.
So Huckabee will probably survive these charges, as he should the whines of New York Times columnists that he is unversed in foreign affairs. Both Ronald Reagan and George Bush demonstrated conclusively that a passing glance at a stamp album is the only education required for dealing with the rest of the world.
Huckabee's single rival as a genuinely interesting candidate is another Republican, Ron Paul, who set a record a few days ago, by raising $6 million in a single day. Unlike Huckabee, Paul's core issues are opposition to the war and to George Bush's abuse of civil liberties inscribed in the U.S. Constitution. His appeal, far more than Huckabee, is to the redneck rebel strain in American political life the populist beast that the US two-party system is designed to suppress. On Monday night Paul was asked on Fox News about Huckabee's Christmas ad, which shows the governor backed by a shining cross. Actually it's the mullions of the window behind him, but the illusion is perfect. Paul said the ad reminded him of Sinclair Lewis's line, that "when fascism comes to this country it will be wrapped in a flag and bearing a cross." In the unlikely event they had read Lewis, no other candidate would dare quote that line.
But as an antidote to Cockburn, see what the Huck wants you to believe he believes (at least policy-wise).
We report, you decide!