GOP debate: MSNBC hosts – predict the questions here (OPEN THREAD)

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Ugh. With MSNBC “hosting” tonight’s GOP debate (which is at the Reagan Library – broadcast time is 8 PM ET), any ridiculous, irrelevant question is on the table. Make your predictions in the comments section as to the “questions” that will likely be asked by MSNBC’s Brian Williams and Politico’s editor-in-chief John Harris.

I’ll be watching off and on. Check my Twitter feed for commentary.

Culture of Eruption: Conservative Palin critics are “coming out of the closet”

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… Erick Erickson, Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham – just to name a few**. Read Erickson’s lengthy write-up to get a gist of the chief criticisms conservative pundits are starting to voice about the next possible GOP candidate for President.  Chief among them: The waiting game, the electability issue, and the fanatical nature of some of Palin’s more diehard fans – which Erickson compares to the PaulBots.  In the interest of fairness, at that same Memeorandum link are rebuttals to the criticisms from Stacy McCain and Professor Jacobson, among others.

I was on Twitter this past weekend doing on impromptu “live tweet” of Palin’s big Iowa speech, and was vocally critical of it.  I found that a lot of the criticisms she threw out about the current crop of GOP candidates (which she did not name) to be hypocritical in nature.  For example, she complained about the “vague generalities” other candidates were allegedly spouting rather than “specifics” yet her entire speech was a “vague generality” with no specifics at all.  In fact, had I read her speech rather than hearing it, and had I not known it was her who was going to give it, I’d have thought any number of politicos could have written that speech.  It was your standard red meat stump speech. 

I also objected to the speech being billed by the Iowa Tea Party as one where a “major announcement” was set to take place, which gave false hopes to people who do not follow politics as closely as you and I do that she may announce her candidacy.  Critics of my criticism stressed that Palin “made no such claim” and my response was “maybe not, but she should have made it clear to organizers that they needed to clarify/retract the claim” – and that she had the clout to do so since 1) she was the main attraction and 2) she had enough pull to get Christine O’Donnell yanked off the list of people scheduled to speak Saturday.

To put it mildly, my criticisms were NOT well-received.  In fact, I probably lost a few Twitter followers that day because of it – even though I stressed to people reading what I wrote that I was one of the staunchest Palin defenders out there, with an archive full of posts to prove it, while noting that the Palin bumper sticker from the 2008 McCain/Palin campaign (with Palin’s name the more prominent of the two) still rests on my back bumper.  But it’s just not enough for some people.  I think most Palin supporters are a lot like myself and my co-blogger: Supportive but willing to criticize when we feel we should should.  In other words, she’s not put on a “can do no wrong” pedestal  – which is how we should view all candidates.  It is only a small militant segment who thinks she can do no wrong, and they are quite vocal – these are the types of people Coulter and others are complaining about.   I found it hilarious that some of these folks were calling Palin’s veiled digs at other GOP candidates as “bold” but characterized my criticisms of this strategy as “divisive.” Seriously?

But my biggest issue with Palin at this point is the fact that she is, for now at least, a “sideline critic.”  It’s easy as an admitted potential candidate to be critical of those who have already declared because they really can’t respond to you without elevating you to a position you’ve been up in the air about.    Yes, she has said before that it would be “later in the year” before she made a decision, but she has teased with the summer bus tour and with the visit to Iowa the week of the famed Iowa straw poll, she’s become more vocal on Facebook, etc without actually throwing her name in the ring, and participating in debates and public forums.   Why do all this and not declare? Why not go ahead and join if it is your intent, so more than just the conservative base can get to know you? My friend Darcysport, a fellow Palin supporter, said it well on Twitter this weekend:

Sorry. I don’t see the courage in taking shots at the field from the sidelines while delaying declaring your candidacy. I don’t like it.

And:

@irishspy Again, what I’ve had a problem with is the pot-shotting. Get in or help the team. Going on too long, IMO.

IrishSpy is, of course, Phineas, who I am sure will weigh in with his own opinions on this. :D

I know fellow GOP candidates are going to take shots at each other – that’s the nature of the beast.  But when you’re on the outside looking in, teasing your supporters with bus tours and visits to key primary states, and taking shots at those who already have declared – it just doesn’t feel right to me.   And I’d feel this way if any of the other candidates who are popular with the base had put out similar feelers for the last year had still not yet declared.  Until you are in the game, the name of the game is to keep people unified behind the central goal: Defeat Obama.   Once you jump in, however, all bets are off.  But even then, GOP candidates still should be careful that they don’t spin a candidate’s perceived weaknesses because it will, in turn, give too much ( /New Tone) ammunition to Democrats.  As an example, if Palin were to jump in the race, I could very well see another candidate trying to label her a “quitter” for resigning from the Governor’s office.  It’s a term I strongly disagree with as a description of what she did, and I’m hoping that – should she jump in the race – other candidates don’t spin it that way.

In other words,  GOP candidates and supporters of the GOP alike should be able criticize each other without being our own worst enemies. That is something I hope we can all agree on.

I’m sure some people will read this and suspect that I have “fallen for the media meme” and/or will conclude that I am a “RINO” when nothing could be be further from the truth – this blog is a testament to how I don’t follow the “media meme” and to how I’m certainly not a “RINO” simply because I don’t march lock step with the base on every issue.   If my near 7 years of touting conservative ideals at this blog and relentlessly criticizing the left and the MSM hasn’t convinced some people that I’m not a “RINO” who is prone to falling for “media memes”, then I really can’t help anyone who feels that way.

At this point I am in no candidate’s camp, but I am leaning towards Perry currently.  But, even if my preferred candidate does not make it beyond the primaries, I will support whoever does – because defeating Obama is Job One.  In the end, after all the bickering and infighting is done, that is all that really matters.   Should Palin run and eventually become the nominee, I would enthusiastically support her and work like a tigress to help get her elected by way of continuing to destroy MSM/left-wing-driven myths about her as I have for the last 3+ years.  I believe she has so much to offer America, and her devotion to this country is second to none.  But I will also criticize her when I feel it’s necessary.  No politico/candidate/prominent political public figure should be beyond criticism.     Anyone the base sets up as being that way risks turning that person – whether they like it or not –  into a right wing version of President Obama in terms of the mindless adoration factor – something Erickson talked about in his piece.

Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough. It’s your turn.  Oh, and make sure to watch the debate tonight, which will be at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.   The eyes of the nation will be on Governor Perry, as this will be the first debate he has participated in since declaring his candidacy.  The debate starts at 8 ET and will be broadcast on MSNBC.  C-SPAN will have post-debate reax.

** Footnote: I am not a huge fan of any of these conservative pundits.

Gunwalker comes to… Indiana?

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**Posted by Phineas

This has to qualify as a “WTF? moment ” in a growing scandal that itself that should itself have the acronym retired in its honor. There have already been credible rumors that Gunwalker-like operations (1) were also operated from Texas and Florida. Like the Arizona-based original, these involved purchases of guns for criminal gangs (2) outside of the US.

Now, however, according to information gleaned by David Codrea and relayed by Bob Owens, it looks as if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) was allowing guns to “walk” in Indiana to US gangs:

Per Owens, quoting Codrea:

David Codrea of the Examiner has been at the forefront of the investigation, and reveals that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and FBI — two of the agencies that played key rolls in Operation Fast and Furious — conducted a remarkably similar operation … in Indiana.

  • “At the very least, as with “Project Gunwalker,” they indicate straw purchased guns ended up in crime traces, something those directing surveillance were well aware of. It also indicates the FBI and ATF were once again involved with allowing transactions rejected by NICS to proceed, indicating this practice could be more widespread than has been previously documented, and not confined to Southwest border operations….
  • It’s also fair to ask if it seems credible that such similar operations would develop independently in the Southwest (“Project Gunwalker”) and the Midwest (“Project Gangwalker’?), without authorization from and oversight coordination by Main Justice.

Codrea goes on to suggest that the special agent in charge (SAC) of the Columbus Field Division and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana need to answer whether they played a role in a plot to “walk” guns to criminals in the Midwest that sounds eerily like the Gunwalker plot in Arizona.

(Emphasis added)

Be sure to read all of Codrea’s article. The Indiana operation came to light because of a demand letter sent to a gun dealer requiring details about firearms transactions because the weapons had either shown up at crime scenes or fallen into the hands of known criminals, meaning the dealer could be in trouble. The dealer’s attorney contacted BATF and said, in effect, “Hey, my client let those sales go through because he was cooperating with you guys,” after which two different BATF officials left voice-mails for the gun dealer saying, again, in effect, “Oh, okay, no problem.” In addition, when straw buyers with felony records were flagged by the monitoring system (3), BATF agents may have cleared them so the purchases could go through.

To convicted felons.

Gunwalker-style operations took place in Arizona, maybe in Florida and Texas, and now it looks like Indiana, too. Fair question: Where else have agencies of the United States government run interference on behalf of criminals illegally buying firearms?

This is well-past the point where a congressional inquiry will suffice; it is time for an independent prosecutor, too. Unlike Owens, I’m not ready yet to declare some deep conspiracy against the Second Amendment; I’m a firm believer that malice isn’t necessary when stupidity will suffice for an explanation. But it gets harder and harder to avoid, when no other rational reason presents itself. Thus it’s time for the people involved, up to and including Attorney General Eric Holder, to answer hard questions under oath, whether before a House committee or a grand jury.

Remember, US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed with a Gunwalker gun. At least 150 Mexican soldiers, federal agents, and civilians have been killed with guns linked to Gunwalker. And now we have to wonder what crimes “walked” guns have been part of in Indiana and elsewhere.

It’s time for answers.

Footnotes:
(1) That is, allowing “straw buyers” to purchase weapons at US gun shops that would then be shipped over the border to Mexican drug cartels, an activity that under law should be blocked, the idea being that we could the trace the guns to the drug lords… No, it makes no sense to me, either.
(2) I know, I know. “WTF??”
(3) You know, the one that’s supposed to keep bad guys from getting guns.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)