Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

Category: Ron Paul

Romney's campaign revs the inevitability engine

Mitt Romney in Youngstown Ohio
With a big block of GOP delegates up for grabs in 10 states Tuesday, the media meme of the moment  is that the race has, at long last, reached a tipping point. The Times' front page on Monday declared,  "GOP ready for this fight to end." The other Times proclaimed,  "Before Super Tuesday, Big Names Rally to Romney." Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee pronounced  on Fox News, "The momentum is with Romney.... [P]eople are saying, 'OK, look, if he's going to win, let's go ahead and get behind him.'"

The "big names" cited by the New York Times include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), whose state's primary is almost certain to be won by Romney. That's because only Romney and Cantor's Libertarian-minded colleague, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), are on the ballot. Nevertheless, Cantor's support  is significant because of his standing among tea party voters,  a group that Romney has yet to impress.

And maybe we have, in fact, arrived at the point where Romney separates himself from the pack. Tracking polls  show his popularity reaching new heights as rival Rick Santorum becomes the latest anti-Mitt to fade. If Romney wins in Ohio and Tennessee, where blue-collar and conservative Christian voters had given Santorum a sizable edge just a few weeks ago, along with Virginia, his home state of Massachusetts, neighboring Vermont and Mormon-rich Idaho, he'll have strung together victories on an impressive range of playing fields.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012

But the commentariat has be wrong repeatedly about this race. Remember when it was suddenly a two-man race between Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry? Then a two-man race between Romney and Newt Gingrich? Remember when the Florida primary was supposed to wrap things up for Romney once and for all?

It's something of a formula in political journalism: anoint a favorite, then continue writing about the front-runner's nomination as an "inevitability" until it finally comes true.

Romney is a cinch to claim a lot of delegates in Tuesday's primaries, thanks in large part to Santorum's failure  to get on the ballot in Virginia and to file all the necessary paperwork in Ohio. What's at stake Tuesday isn't delegates, though,  it's perceived momentum. That's why voters and donors may continue rallying to Santorum if he wins in Oklahoma, as expected, and Tennessee and Ohio, where the races are tight.

For Gingrich, the hurdle is higher. He's likely to win big in his home state of Georgia, but such victories don't usually mean much in national campaigns. He's not expected to win anywhere else, but if he can outpoll Romney or Santorum to finish second in Oklahoma and Tennessee, maybe he can continue to argue credibly that the race will be settled at the Republican convention in August. 

As for Paul, I can't offer even a credibility-straining argument that the Texas Republican could somehow win the nomination. But I'm sure his supporters will do so in the comments section below. One admonition before you start typing, folks: It's not why he should win, but why he could.


McManus: Israel's brinkmanship, America's peril

Mitt Romney, the pandering chicken hawk on Iran

Andrew Breitbart: Dead wrong on race, and much else

-- Jon Healey

Photo: Mitt Romney campaigns in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images



Will Arizona debate pit Santorum against Gingrich, Romney or Satan?

Mesa AZ debate

Newt Gingrich has been the most intriguing figure in the seemingly endless series of Republican presidential debates, especially in the early months of the campaign when he was trying to pull himself into contention. He's in that posture again now, having fallen sharply in popularity from his late-January apex. At Wednesday night's gabathon in Arizona, however, he'll be chasing a different front-runner: Rick Santorum, not Mitt Romney.

This should be good, for no other reason than the pointed words Gingrich and Santorum have exchanged on the campaign trail.

Santorum, you may recall, was the one who said at a previous CNN debate that Gingrich's "grandiose" thinking was a liability on the campaign trail. If Gingrich were the nominee, Republican voters would constantly be "worrying about what he's going to say next," Santorum said, adding, "I'm not going to go out and do things you're going to worry about." He's since belied that promise; more on that later.

The former senator from Pennsylvania's critique came after the debate's moderator, John King, brought up Gingrich's comment that Santorum should drop out of the race because he lacked "any of the knowledge for how to do something on this scale." When King asked Gingrich to elaborate, he replied, "How big a scale of change do we want in Washington?" He then went on to cite a litany of accomplishments by Congress (and the Clinton administration) while he was speaker of the House in the mid-1990s: welfare reform, balanced budgets, a tax cut, millions of jobs created.

"I think grandiose thoughts," Gingrich said, oblivious to the pejorative meaning of the word. "This is a grandiose country of big people doing big things, and we need leadership prepared to take on big projects."

Naturally, Gingrich won't be the only one taking aim at Santorum on Wednesday night.

Continue reading »

How about Santorum vs. Obama, winner take all?

The liberal-conservative divide
America, it's time for a little presidential poker. Republicans and Democrats need to go "all in" on Rick Santorum vs. President Obama.

Yep, it's "put up or shut up" time for all you political Texas hold 'em folks out there.

Now, the Obama bet you probably understand. After all, he's the incumbent, and he's running unopposed in the Democratic Party.

But why Santorum? After all, he's not only anathema to Democrats, it's not clear whether most Republicans favor him over Mitt Romney (not to mention Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul).

For the good of the country, though, the GOP needs to run Santorum.

Wait, wait, hold the comments, angry or otherwise. I didn't say "Santorum would be good for the country."  If you're asking me personally, well, it's a secret ballot, but no, I wouldn't put my ink spot next to "Rick Santorum."

But I'm also sick and tired of the partisan divide. It's time to call everyone's bluff.

Conservatives maintain that Obama and the Democrats are destroying the country; that we need to return to Christian values, to exceptionalism, to less government, less regulation, less spending and less taxation.

Sure, Romney touts all that too.  But he just wants the Republican nomination. With that secured, he'll pivot to the center, and pretty soon you'll never know he said half the stuff he did to get the GOP nod. With an Obama-Romney clash, should Romney lose, plenty of Republicans would complain that he wasn't a true-enough conservative.

Santorum, on the other hand, is nothing if not a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. He might pivot to the center too, but he's so far right that he can't even see the center at this point. With an Obama-Santorum battle, we'd be able to settle the liberal vs. conservative debate that's stifling government. 

And here's where the "all in" part happens.

If Santorum wins, liberals should acknowledge that the country is on the wrong path. America doesn't want gay marriage, or legal abortion, or government healthcare, or environmental protections. It wants to slash the size of government and reduce or eliminate entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. It wants religion back in public life; it wants the government out of schools. It wants to spend big on defense; it wants to back Israel no matter what. 

However, if Obama wins, all those conservative Republicans would have to acknowledge that they were wrong. That they're not America's voice. That America is OK with gay marriage and a woman's right to choose; it wants affordable healthcare for all, and a safety net that includes Medicare and Social Security.  It agrees with the separation of church and state and believes that while generating good-paying jobs is important, so is protecting the environment. It doesn't want a 1% and a 99% but a 100% that favors social and economic justice for all.

So after election day, that's it. Someone rakes in all the chips. 

If it's Santorum, then Republicans in Congress, the tea partyers and the Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck/Sean Hannity crowd can crow all the way to the inauguration and beyond.

But if it's Obama, those same folks need to face reality. They need to stop the scorched-earth warfare and let him lead.

And we can go back to the old days, when elections mattered.

Did someone say "deal"?


The Dow is climbing! The Dow is climbing!

Issa's House hearings on contraception: Where were the women?

Presidential giants of our generation, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton

 --Paul Whitefield

Illustration by Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times

Iran war talk: Can we stop playing Hitler whack-a-mole?

Iranian fisherman rescued
I guess now we can call it the "Iran rule."

You know: It's the rule that says the United States must go to war with a country or risk loosing another Hitler on the world.

In 2003, of course, it was the "Iraq rule." Remember how George W. Bush and other administration officials and conservatives justified the invasion of Iraq by comparing Saddam Hussein to Hitler?

Although, to be fair, Bush was just following in the tracks of his father, who also invoked the Hitler comparison in deciding to oust Hussein from Kuwait in the 1990 Persian Gulf War.

If I didn't know better, I'd say too many U.S. policymakers have seen "The Boys From Brazil" and assumed it was a documentary.

Today's Hitler, though, is -- take your pick -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the mullahs who rule Iran. And they want Iran to be a nuclear power. And they must be stopped. And the U.S., of course, must do the stopping. And all options must be on the table, including military action.

Who says so?

Well, except for Ron Paul, every Republican running for president, for starters. Here's Mitt Romney:

"If we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon," Romney stated unequivocally. "And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon."

But this is a bipartisan stance, it appears. As The Times quoted Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Sunday:

"Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon?  No," Panetta said. "But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that's what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, 'Do not develop a nuclear weapon.' That's a red line for us."

"I think they need to know that ... if they take that step, that they're going to get stopped," Panetta said, adding that he was not taking any options off the table.

Gosh, fellows, maybe you could all take a break from the Xbox and Call of Duty for a bit?  You know, get out for some fresh air?

Because honestly, I think the American people are just a bit tired of playing Hitler whack-a-mole.

And this is starting to give me 2003 deja vu: Everyone knows the Iranians are building a bomb, just like everyone knew Saddam Hussein was pursuing a bomb.

Except he wasn't. 

And even if the Iranians are, what makes everyone so sure they'd use it?

Ah, you say, just check what Ahmadinejad has said.

OK. Check what Romney just said. Check what Panetta just said. Does that mean we're automatically going to war?

If we went to war every time someone said something bellicose, we'd be going to war a lot -- uh, I mean a lot more.

We didn't want the Soviet Union to get the bomb, but it did. We didn't want China to get the bomb, but it did. Ditto North Korea. And Pakistan.

Each time, some argued -- as some, especially Israel, argue now about Iran -- that it would be Armageddon if the bad guys got the bomb.

Well, the United States has lived for more than 60 years with thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at it.

It's no picnic, but we're still here.

Plus, sanctions against Iran are starting to take their toll. They might work. At any rate, they don't cost nearly as much as a military action.

So why don't we give the war talk a rest. Hitler, after all, is dead.


Rick Santorum sounds alarm over Iranian "theocracy"

Graphic: Sanctions taking their toll on Iran's economy

Iran sentences American accused of spying to death, reports say

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: A U.S. sailor in a safety boat observes a boarding team from the U.S. guided-missile destroyer Kidd after Iranian fishermen were rescued from pirates in the Arabian Sea. Credit: U.S. Navy

Year in review: California budget, L.A. pro team, GOP triple threat

Romney, Gingrich, Paul
It's the season of giving, and in 2011, three stories kept giving, and giving and giving.

(Wait, what, three? Not five? Or 10? No. Good things come in threes.)

Even better, these three stories will  undoubtedly be around in 2012 -– the ultimate in re-gifting, you might say:

California's budget woes. It seems like only yesterday that Gov. Jerry Brown was dealing with the state's budget mess. In fact, it was about yesterday -- Dec. 13, to be exact. 

That's when Brown announced further painful cuts to state services to keep the state budget out of the red. 

It didn't have to be this way. Heck, way back on Jan. 19, I wrote about using The Times' handy-dandy online budget balancing tool to balance the state's budget. It took about 15 minutes.

So, if a math-challenged journalist can do it, why can't the state's politicians?  Because it's not about balancing the budget.  It's about the philosophy of government. California's Republican lawmakers don't want a government at all, really. Californians may want compromise, but it's not easy to compromise with a bus driver whose goal is to drive the bus off the cliff.

Don't think so? Well, in Washington, Republicans in the House resisted keeping the payroll tax cut. In Sacramento, Republicans resisted the governor's attempt to let existing tax cuts expire, claiming that amounted to a tax hike. Sound logical?  Then you need to get back on your medication.

Pro football in Los Angeles. Like those beautiful muses of Greek mythology, the sirens continue to sing their song of professional football in L.A., luring wealthy investors onto the financial rocks and leaving fans brokenhearted. 

But this time, it's really, really going to happen. Really. We have a stadium; or, I mean, we have nice renderings of a stadium.  We have a place to put the stadium. We have a rich company -– AEG -– behind the stadium, and the effort to get a franchise.  

All we need now? A team. And it appears that the only way we'll get a team is to steal another city's. And lots of money will have to change hands. And rich guys in other towns, such as San Diego, may have to be paid. 

And if we actually get a team, the average fan won't be able to afford to go (to see what will probably be a bad team). And we'll probably get fewer games on TV. And traffic will be worse. And no matter what anyone says, taxpayers will probably have to cough up some money.

So tell me again why we need a pro football team? 

The Republican presidential race. And finally (with apologies to Newt Gingrich), we come to the little Tiffany bag under the tree. Nothing has been more entertaining than this year's crop of GOP candidates. The race has had more front-runners than a Kentucky Derby. And it's become the Little Engine That Could of the media industry. Enough trees have been cut down (bytes used?) in covering this campaign to re-forest Haiti.

Two truths have emerged in covering this Alice Through the Looking Glass affair:  No one is really sure what's going to happen, and if you want to make enemies in a hurry, write something nasty about Ron Paul. (Or even something nice about Ron Paul -- his supporters will take offense regardless.)

To recap my personal highlights:

On May 12, I confidently predicted that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee, and that he would lose to President Obama. 

Then, on June 10 -– sensing that the Republicans didn't share my enthusiasm for the Mittster -– I boldly entered the race myself.  The heart of my platform? No taxes. (No, not lower taxes; no, not no tax hikes. Just no taxes.)

I thought it would be a winner. If Michele Bachmann could be taken seriously, why not me? Sadly, I was more a Tim Pawlenty than a Gingrich.

On Sept. 26, my crystal ball was at its clearest: I correctly predicted the demise of Rick Perry, writing that if you can't beat the pizza guy (Herman Cain), you aren't presidential timber.

So now I'm back to Romney. I believe what I wrote May 12. I'm sticking to it. Sort of.

But the new year is almost here. And I'm sure I'll be opening this gift again and again in 2012.

And I'm willing to bet that we'll have a GOP presidential nominee, and a balanced budget in California, before L.A. has a pro football team.


The most troubling immigration trends

Congress' 10 biggest enemies of the Earth

Photos: Ted Rall's 10 most popular cartoons of 2011

--Paul Whitefield

Photos: From left, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul. Photo credit: Associated Press

Ron Paul defenders: A video rebuttal from Jim Newton


Ron Paul has caused a stir with a racist newsletter from 1992. He was called on, in Wednesday’s Opinion pages, to explain how offensive comments about the L.A. riots were printed in the “Ron Paul Political Report.”

Readers quickly took to our discussion board to defend Paul, twisting the board’s words and accusing The Times of acting on behalf of a smear campaign.

Reader Scott Reams writes in: “[W]hether he is ignored or scrutinized is not the issue in this case. The issue is that the media has known about this for the entire election cycle both in 2007 and now in 2011... but the media chooses to wait until just now to bring it up at all. How oddly silent they were before Ron Paul was polling in 1st place in Iowa. It shows that the media’s agenda is not to report the truth, but to take down the only threat there is to the corporatism that feeds their owners, and by any means necessary.” Commenter getplanted.native asks: “I would like to know how much money that LA Times and their Opinionist was paid by GOP hacks to publish this hit piece.”

In the above video reply, the editorial board’s Jim Newton says, “We were attempting to do what we do, which is to analyze candidates for president, analyze their records and hold them to account for it. That’s all this editorial was an attempt to do.”

Other readers said it’s impossible for a Libertarian to be racist, while others called into question whether the board’s editorial was racist. Here’s reader Douglas H.:

So the LA Times narrative of the ’92 riots is that blacks, rather than being lazy, are explosively violent. Without [aggressive] intervention by white institutions (National Guard, LAPD) those crazy blacks would burn down the city. It’s the white man’s burden, no?

Nice going LA Times. You managed to be even more racist than the article in “The Ron Paul Report.”

Newton speaks to those issues and also answers readers who say candidate Paul has done all of the explaining he needs to.

Feel free as always to respond -- the ambitious may wish to submit a video reply of their own via a link in comments.


 Ron Paul's racist link

Ron Paul's naive promises

Ron Paul says he's 'peaking at the right time'

--Alexandra Le Tellier



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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