Party Boy Norman Hsu

From a December 16, 2006 NY Post story:

Norman Hsu, who has raised millions for the Democratic Party, threw a party at Buddakan to celebrate the Democrats’ new control of Congress, the Senate and 28 state governors’ offices. Attendees at the recent bash included New York Attorney General-elect Andrew Cuomo, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who recently lost his bid for the Senate. At one point, Hsu grabbed the microphone from deejay David Chang to declare to the crowd of Democratic movers and shakers that, “If you are supporters of Hillary Clinton for President 2008, you can stay. Otherwise, get out!” The booze flowed freely and one very young Congressman-elect wound up throwing up outside the restaurant.

Hillary Camp Praised Norman Hsu’s “Integrity”

Just went back and noticed that yesterday's WSJ included this lovely tidbit  :

A Clinton campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said in an email: "Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic party and its candidates, including Senator Clinton. During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question."

Yeah, no reason, except perhaps the fact that he is a fugitive. It is surprising that the Clinton campaign would go out a their way to defend Hsu yesterday when it was clear there was more to the story. A rare misstep for team Hillary, which has thus far run a nearly flawless campaign. Wolfson did not issue a subsequent comment to the LA Times for today's story, so it should be interesting to see how they backpedal.

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Obama Received Contribution From Fugitive Bundler

According to the FEC’s disclosure database, Barack Obama recieved a $2,000 contribution from a Norman Hsu when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004. Based on the address and company name (Components Ltd.) listed in the database, the man who made the contribution to Obama appears to be the same Hsu who has been in the news in the past two days for questionable contributions to Democrats, and now, apparently, being a fugitive who plead no contest to grand theft in California. Although Hsu did not donate to Obama’s presidential campaign and has made significantly more contributions to Hillary Clinton, given that Obama accepted a donation from Hsu when he ran from U.S. Senate, he doesn’t come out of this clean either, and it will be difficult for him to capitalize politically off of Hillary’s connections to Hsu. John Edwards appears to be the only major Democratic candidate untarnished by this emerging fundraising scandal.

NH Paper Throws Down the Gauntlet on Fred

Today's NH Union Leader editorial page  argues that Thompson should attend the Sept. 5 debate in New Hampshire, and articulates his dilemma this way:

If Thompson announces before the debate, New Hampshire voters will expect him to be at the University of New Hampshire with the other announced candidates. A no-show will be counted here as a snub.

If Thompson waits until after the debate to make his announcement, it will appear to some as if he timed the announcement just to avoid the New Hampshire debate. That would give his foes the chance to say he is either not serious about running for the nomination or is too unprepared to be considered a credible candidate.

Of course, on the flip side, if Thompson does jump into the race by taking part in the NH debate, and he's completely unprepared and looks foolish, it could strangle his candidacy in its infancy.  If he waits until after the debate to announce, though he may generate some criticism for having ducked, he'll still be able to participate in the Dartmouth debate in New Hampshire on Sept. 27, at which point he'd have more time to prepare. In fact, if immediately after announcing his candidacy, he agrees to participate in the Dartmouth debate, that will become the news story–not the fact that he skipped a debate that is already old news.

CORRECTION: There is no Dartmouth debate on Sept. 27. See here.

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Huckabee: Enemy of the States

It is bad enough that any politician at any level of government would support a smoking ban, which restricts personal freedom and infringes on property rights. But Mike Huckabee evidently thinks he’s running to be nanny in chief. Not only did he sign a ban on smoking in public places as governor, he has also pledged to sign one as president, rather than let state and local governments set their own policies with regard to smoking in public places. Even Hillary Clinton (despite the misleading headline in this story) was savvy enough to say that though she supports smoking bans, she doesn’t believe in a nationwide ban imposed by the federal government. As if his tax hikes and atrocious spending record as governor weren’t already enough, here we have another issue that demonstrates Huckabee is a big government conservative of the worst sort.

UPDATE: Jeremy Lott points me toward his review of Huckabee’s campaign book, in which Lott made this observation:

Mr. Huckabee’s approach to health care is to declare war on ill health, which he takes to be caused by fat, sugar, salt and sloth. As with seatbelts, drunk driving and cigarettes, he advocates that the government and civic society should first work to change attitudes toward these things and then “having shifted public opinion, we can solidify the attitude and atmospheric changes with government actions to statutorily define the will of the majority.”

Re: Is It Fall Yet?

Given that it’s still summer and he hasn’t announced yet, Fred Thompson does deserve some leeway in terms of offering policy specifics. However, once he does enter the race, it will be a problem if he continues to dodge specifics by saying “I just announced” or “I got a late start.” His whole non-candidacy has been built on generating buzz at a time when conservatives were dissatisfied with the Republican field, and he benefited from the fact that he dipped his toes in the waters late, avoiding scrutiny faced by the other candidates. But he cannot expect to claim all of the advantages of a late start and avoid all of the disadvantages–especially the fact that the other campaigns have had at least eight months to organize and craft policy proposals. Thompson decided to wait for the time of his choosing rather than be dragged into the race earlier. He should have to bear the consequences of that decision, both good and bad. But for now, I think we should all enjoy the remaining days of summer and lay off the big fella.

Iran to the Rescue

Drudge has his siren blaring for this report:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that a power vacuum is imminent in Iraq and said that Iran was ready to help fill the gap.

"The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran, referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. "Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation."  

I'm sure other conservatives will point out that this statement reinforces the danger of  a premature  U.S. pullout from Iraq and demonstrates that Ahmadinejad is being buoyed by  all the defeatism talk in Washington. But to me, what's more significant  is that it seems Ahmadinejad is reaching out to Maliki in the wake of the Iraqi Prime Minister's tounge lashing direceted at Sens. Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin.  According to the NY Times account, Maliki said: "Iraq is a sovereign country, and we will not allow anyone to talk about it as if it belongs to this country or that." The U.S. is clearly in a bind. If it doesn't put pressure on the Iraqi government to make progress on the political front, any military success will be largely wasted. If, on the other hand, the U.S. puts too much pressure on the government, it may trigger a backlash and have the unintended consequence of having Maliki run to the welcoming arms of Iran.

One  other thing I  found noteworthy in the  Ahmadinejad statement is that he singles  out  Saudi Arabia as a "regional friend." It would seem that the Sunni  kingdom would be among the nations most opposed to Shiite Iran filling the power vacuum in Iraq. Perhaps his suggestion that he is willing to work with the Saudis is an attempt to assuage  any fears they may have.  

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Clinton Cash Raises Questions

Via Matt Lewis, I see this WSJ article on possible Hillary Clinton fundraising shenanigans. The WSJ reports that six members of a family that has donated a combined $45,000 to Hillary since 2005 (and a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates) all report as their address a tiny, one-story house in a working class suburb of San Francisco.

According to the article:

It isn’t obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. Records show they own a gift shop and live in a 1,280-square-foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. William Paw, the 64-year-old head of the household, is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service who earns about $49,000 a year, according to a union representative. Alice Paw, also 64, is a homemaker. The couple’s grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company to “attendance liaison” at a local public high school. One is listed on campaign records as an executive at a mutual fund.

The underlying implication of the article is that the Paw family is being used by the wealthy New York businessman Norman Hsu, a major Hillary contributor, to get around the limits on individual political donations. Though the article is careful to avoid making that charge explicitly, it offers strong circumstantial evidence, such as the close correlation between their donations, and the fact that Hsu strangely once listed the Paw house as his residence.

Though the Clintons have a tendency to get embroiled with scandals, Hillary’s presidential bid has thus far been devoid of major scandal. If there is more to this Hsu story, it may begin to remind Democratic voters that they don’t really want to go back to the Clinton years, and could provide an opening for Obama as the change agent who will break the Clinton-Bush stranglehold on the White House and clean up Washington.

The ‘W’ word

The Washington Post‘s lead story on the Gonzales resignation refers to him as “one of the nation’s most controversial attorneys general since the Watergate era.” “Controversial” is always a bit of a subjective term to begin with, and adding the qualifier “one of” makes the statement even less meaningful. Given that there is a sample size of just 10 post-Nixon AGs, being one of the most controversial is hardly an achievement. It’s pretty clear, then, that the only purpose of using such an irrelevant historical barometer is to introduce the specter of Watergate to a story that is more about managerial incompetence.

I Dream of Sarkozy

Via Jonathan Martin, I see that Rudy in New Hampshire today is recounting a "recurring dream":

"Sarkozy is on this airplane and he's flying from France to the United States," Giuliani explains, and "he's thinking about these American principles that he can put to use in France."      

"Then I see another airplane crossing it over the mid-Atlantic," Giuliani continues,  "and there are three people on the airplane and they're waving at him.  They're going from the United States to France — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.  And they're trying to figure out how to take the principles in France that haven't worked and how to bring them here to the United States."

To which the crowd laughed heartily as they applauded and Rudy headed out.

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