Care to Donate to Fred Thompson?

Filed under:Politics — posted by Anwyn on December 26, 2007 @ 11:52 am is holding a fund drive to reach $248,846 by Friday in order to air Thompson’s TV spot all over Iowa for the rest of the time until the caucus. At the time I donated, 11:06 Pacific, the counter at the campaign website said $9,020. Forty minutes later, the counter was up to $17,927. Not bad for half an hour.

My hope is that with Giuliani lying low and the gilding beginning to rub off of Huckabee, Thompson’s driving effort in Iowa will position him for an excellent showing among the caucus-goers. The campaign’s performance so far has taught me a grim lesson about the limits of internet publicity–that there are a lot fewer people than I thought who, like me, get their information primarily from the web. So this TV spot will be vital for Fred’s final Iowa push.

If you care to donate to the effort, click here:

Fred08 - Contribute Now

A Blog for Fred Thompson

Filed under:Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on November 27, 2007 @ 10:15 am

It took me long enough, but I’ve decided to vote for Fred Thompson in the Republican primary. His tax plan put the capstone on a bundle of policies that are soundly conservative, full of common sense, and moderate enough that they should be highly implementable. My impression of him personally is that he is a laid-back guy who will do what he must to keep his policy goals on track, and that’s a little more attractive to me at this point than a fiery go-getter who may be noticeably fiery on issues I’d prefer he stepped back on.

The reason it took me so long to decide is because I’m more in Quin Hillyer’s camp than Karol’s–the thought of a McCain presidency does not scare me. If I have to put up with some nonsense on illegal immigration and political speech for a hard-headed view of our military efforts and national security, I can. The thought of a Giuliani presidency does not scare me. If I have to put up with some personal pro-choice views and some gun nonsense for good judiciary appointments and a clear-eyed view of the war on terrorism, I can do that too. The thought of a Romney presidency does not scare me … much. I haven’t taken the time to find out enough about him. But unlike Dr. Dobson, I see which way the wind is blowing and I will not take any action that contributes to the country’s jeopardy of socialist health care, the continuance of abortion as an enshrined constitutional right, or ignominious cut-and-run.

All that said, Fred Thompson seems to combine the best of attributes and policies–approachable but not malleable, sensible but not overly stubborn, not so concerned about getting ahead that compromise becomes the order of the day. There are only a couple things I’ve heard him say so far that I didn’t like, and hey, he makes Allah noticeably grumpled. “Too late, too late” has been the media cry. He certainly hasn’t been too late for those of us who keep ourselves informed via the web. Ultimately it remains to be seen how he’s played to the TV, newspaper, and live-appearance crowd. A friend who’s spent time in Washington commented to me that his impression of Fred is of somebody who can govern, but not campaign–that he just doesn’t have a taste for it. To me that’s a personal asset, but unfortunately the lack of visibility that goes along with it may hurt him with the general run of primary voters. Run, Fred, run for all you’re worth. You’ve got my vote.

Goodbye, Fred

Filed under:Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 23, 2008 @ 9:19 am

I don’t have much to say about Thompson’s withdrawal from the race right now. It’s too bad, but the writing was already on the wall. I’m a bit deflated and will have to start taking the proverbial second looks. And I’m no longer feeling as chummy with several of the candidates as I was at the beginning of this process.

And I don’t plan to prioritize saying who I’ll gravitate towards next. Let them keep campaigning. I’ll keep watching.

As for the idea of Fred for VP, I’m fine with it if that’s what he wants (though, in full disclosure, I was stung by the possibility that he got into the race on that basis. I’m cooler about that part now–even if that was his original goal, there’s no deception in being over-optimistic and under-planned for taking advantage of something that seemed to promise larger things) but I’m unconvinced that McCain, for example, would abandon his own immigration and tax and eco policies for VP Thompson’s, and that being the case, how exactly would a Thompson VP make the McCain presidency easier to stomach for those who tend to sick up on McCain? A lot of folks seem reassured soley by the idea of Fred balancing McCain, but I don’t know that there’ll be much substance to it when push comes to shove. We’ll see.

If he was instrumental in breaking Huck’s momentum, and I believe he was, then it was totally worth it, ominous Allah rumblings about Huck’s future notwithstanding. And if in the end he was just frustrated by what it seems to take to be elected, he’s not the only one. Though I have serious misgivings about his reported short and lackluster stays at campaign stops, I can’t blame him for being somewhat disgusted with the dog-and-silky-pony show.

Update: Never. I’ll never turn to the dark side.

Fred Prosecuted My Poor, Downtrodden Co-Liquorists!

Filed under:It's My Life,Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on November 12, 2007 @ 12:08 am

Update: Welcome, Hot Air and Patterico readers! The hard numbers are about halfway down the post, in bold. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look around. You may be interested in how judges do things in Oregon, how Hillary’s planted questions and other missteps are not good news for the GOP, how the U.S. Air Force really might need to hold bake sales to buy fighter jets (with comments from two fighter pilots), how editors’ worldview skews their job performance, or what the outreach representative of the local mosque had to say when he spoke at my church. Thanks for stopping by.

Or, In Which I Build an Illicit Still in Patterico’s Back Yard.

Okay, so they weren’t really my co-liquorists, but I do have moonshiners in my family tree. My grandfather helped make the stuff and my great-uncle ran it all over the county in cars that Junior Johnson had tricked out for the purpose. Yes, that Junior Johnson–my grandparents were raised in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Everything you’ve heard about NASCAR’s origins in moonshining … is true.

Anyway, so Fred Thompson seems to have made his prosecutorial bones whoopin’ up on them good ol’ boys, never meanin’ no harm, over in Tennessee.

Seriously, there must be something available in Fred’s past worse than the fact that the judge in these cases thought they were “a waste of time” (because who’s more qualified than the judge, really, to say which laws are important and which aren’t) and that the same judge didn’t think Thompson and the other members of the U.S. Attorney’s office “knew what they were doing.”

Of course, a judge’s pronouncement of “utterly incompetent” on the conduct of a prosecutor carries weight, but there’s one major item of interest the Times article leaves out: Of the 88 cases Thompson prosecuted in three years, of which 27 were about moonshine (“more than any other crime,” the Times tells us without providing a numeric breakdown of the other 61–any other kinds of crime break the 20-case mark?), how many did he win? That would seem to be a relevant number in an article quoting more than one person who suggests Fred was a lightweight.

Apparently this information is not terribly easy to come by, due to the lack of computerized records from that era. I called the U.S. Attorney’s office in Nashville, and the man there was very gentlemanly but I could tell he was trying not to laugh at me for wanting a win-loss record from over 35 years ago, even if the guy is running for president. Then I called the Federal District Court. The lady there cited the lack of computerized records but directed me to the National Archives for the region, which are housed near Atlanta. That’s where I bottomed out. They have the records, but it would involve either a significant amount of money for them to copy the case files and send them–all 88 cases, I suppose–or else a flight to Atlanta and a hotel stay while I riffle through the records and copy down the judgements myself.

Then I called the campaign. They were extremely helpful, but even they don’t have this information on a scorecard in their pockets. They sent me a news article written at the time of Fred’s resignation from the U.S. Attorney’s office that states he won 14 out of 15 bank robbery cases (27 moonshine cases vs. 15 bank robberies, if you’re counting) but doesn’t get more detailed than that. At this point I doubt even Fred himself could reel off his stats from the top of his head if asked.

But Joe Mathews of the L.A. Times does have the numbers at his fingertips, after two weeks of digging 35-year-old files out of their boxes in Georgia for his article. And to my surprise and gratitude, he was willing to share them.

He broke them down by numbers of defendants, so there are more than 88 defendants because there were multiple defendants in various individual cases. In total, 88 cases covered 115 defendants, 34 of whom were moonshiners, 21 of whom were counterfeiters, and 17 of whom were bank robbers. The remainder (43) were various other crimes.

Out of 115, nine never stood in Thompson’s district either because they were never captured, were found dead, or were transferred to a different federal district. So we’ll subtract those nine. That leaves 106.

Out of 106, 12 found the charges against them dropped, 66 defendants pleaded guilty or no contest without going to trial, and 28 went to trial. Of the 28 who went to trial, 22 were found guilty, leaving six who were not convicted.

These numbers suggest that Thompson was a completely solid, if not shining, prosecutor. Of course, you could also draw that conclusion by the very fact of his having served as a prosecutor for three years–incompetence is not encouraged at that level by continued employment, one would suppose and hope. Of the 12 cases thrown out, at least two were the direct result of an error of Thompson’s. Joe Mathews:

After charging a man with stealing checks from the mail, Thompson saw the case dismissed because the wrong date appeared in the indictment. Another indictment, against a group of counterfeiters, was thrown out when Gray ruled that Thompson had failed to allege a crime.

Even though one could assume by Thompson’s three years of employment at this level that he was doing a satisfactory job as far as his boss was concerned, having these numbers would help to balance the the remarks of the clearly adversarial judge. At the very least, I would have thought a more thorough numbers breakdown would have made a better return on Mathews’s two weeks of poking through the Archives, and I remarked as much to him. So why not include them? Mathews answered that as well in an email:

I don’t want to get into why we choose not to include things and include others. Those decisions are not always the reporter’s. But a few things to think about. As you know, prosecutorial numbers don’t tell you much in a world in which almost all federal prosecutors, good and bad, win convictions in nearly all their cases (in part because of the way the legal system works, and in part because most people are guilty). Prosecutors are also only one factor in outcomes–the investigating agents, the quality of defense attorneys, the standards of judges and the quality of juries are all big factors. The quality of justice is always going to be debated. What I tried to do–based on interviews and the transcripts and records of his actual words and actions in court — is paint an accurate picture of Thompson in the courtroom as prosecutor, with portraits of the judge and defendants that were the focus of his work then. I think I did that very fairly, and very well.

So he’s suggesting that even bad prosecutors win their cases most of the time. Patterico, See-Dub, and Mike Lief are all more qualified to give an opinion of that conclusion than I am, but it seems to me that the likelier cause of a preponderance of winning numbers is that more bad prosecutors are relieved either before they make it to the federal level or after a scant time in office that makes it clear they are not qualified.

Reporters have easier access to many facts because they are paid to spend their time doing things like what I could not–digging through files for two weeks in Atlanta to get the numbers and details of Thompson’s cases. In a long, long list of clearly egregious journalistic abuses of this greater access in order to decide what facts are and are not appropriate for public newspaper consumption, this hardly qualifies. But as a minor example of how journalists are much fonder of delivering conclusions than of providing facts, it is annoying. And far too often these agenda-driven conclusions damn public officials with faint praise in the absence of hard evidence to suggest wrongdoing or incompetence.

I’ve corresponded with Joe Mathews. He was quite willing to show me the figures it took him two weeks to compile–me, Jane Blog, for no other reason than that I asked him about the article. So it might be doubly puzzling that he would not put them in the article, editorial control aside. His explanation provides the reasons why he felt simple numbers were not as good an indicator of how good a prosecutor Thompson was as the remarks of the people in and around those old cases. I would argue instead that while they certainly are important to the “human” portrait Mathews did convey well, they are far and away not the whole picture, and that by omitting these simple facts that would allow readers greater material with which to draw their own conclusions, he attempts to substitute the judgment of the people he quoted, three out of six of whom were cool or downright damning on Thompson, with the other three commenting more on his demeanor than on his competence, for the readers’ own.

This is only human nature. It’s far more fun to draw conclusions than it is to present facts. But it’s just another example of how ingrained it is in the journalistic establishment to claim the latter when in fact they happily do the former all the time.

It is the reason the CEO of the AP himself is now having to call upon his colleagues to abandon this outdated attitude and recognize that just like the reporters themselves, most people prefer to draw their own conclusions, or at least to read authors with a track record of coming to conclusions the readers agree with–because they can follow the reasoning right there in the piece, not because the author has chosen to quote selectively while leaving out data.

Even if we assume all 12 of Thompson’s dismissed cases were dismissed on his error, that still leaves a disproportion of 88 guilty/no contest to 18 dismissed/not guilty. I don’t dismiss (hah!) out of hand Mathews’s argument that the legal system is built such that a majority of people indicted actually are guilty. But to me that’s a feature rather than a bug, and it also points to the competence of some of the other people Mathews discussed–investigators and police. Fact of guilt is not always proof of guilt, which is why we have prosecutors to begin with. Why should the fact that the system so frequently works as it should take away from a record of competency and good work prosecuting the cases that Tennessee afforded–and really, why should anybody be surprised that moonshining was far and away the highest proportion of federal crime in Tennessee in 1969? Those good ol’ boys, after all, will be boys. And it seems Tennessee is even loopier in handling them than Oregon is in handling “medical” marijuana.

Thanks to the Funkypundit and to my friend and sometime editor Jon S. for assistance with this post.

I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw

Filed under:Oh Hell No,Politics,Television — posted by Anwyn on April 17, 2011 @ 12:31 am

This past Tuesday’s episode of The Good Wife guest-starred Fred Thompson as an actor/politician/lawyer never addressed by name, though listed in the closed-captioning as “Thomas.” Clever.

The plot showed Lockhart/Gardner representing an Underdog against an Evil Oil Company based on work conducted in Venezuela, until their case is taken over by Fred Thompson because Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez nationalized the Underdog company. And Fred Thompson is his lawyer. And Hugo Chavez appears (from the neck down, anyway) via videoconference as a lunatic who babbles about all the Americans wanting his oil except Courtney Love. And the true-blue liberal Lockhart/Gardner lawyers stare at him as though he were a particularly odious bug … while Fred Thompson acts as his lawyer with a genial smile disguising a pirahna mentality and, to wrap up, proclaims, “He’s really a nice guy once you get to know him. Sings like an angel.”

Right, because it’s Republicans who sing the praises of Hugo Chavez while Democrats just deplore him, isn’t it?

I am so disappointed that Fred Thompson agreed to do this lying piece of script.

If it was the show’s intent to make a good-faith showing that not everybody in Hollywood is on Sean Penn’s side of this argument, then they should have stopped at making that argument and not spun into it the vicious lie that Republicans, reasonably well-known ones at that, are. Disgusting.

Update: I should clarify that I’m disappointed Thompson agreed to do this hack hit script as himself. As a well-known Republican. Had he been playing a character, John Smith Lawyer who came in to take over the case, well, that’s an acting job and not a hatchet job. But that’s not what this was. His name was never mentioned; Josh Charles’s character walks up to him in disbelief, clearly recognizing him as Fred Thompson; the federal judge in the plot fawns all over him for “inspiring young people” on Law and Order. Sad.

O Hay, Listen:

Filed under:Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 20, 2008 @ 8:44 am

If the money I gave to Fred Thompson’s campaign turns out to have been spent solely in the effort to draw votes off Huckabee to the benefit of John McCain, it will have been

cheap at the price.

Conversation of the Day

Filed under:Heh,It's My Life,Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 10, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

I am not making this up, nor did I coach my four-year-old son in any way. He looked over my shoulder while I was watching Fred Thompson call out Huckabee for what he stands for.

Son: “Who is the president of Oregon?”

Me: “We don’t have a president of Oregon. We have a governor. His name is Ted Kulongoski. But we have a president of the United States, and his name is George Bush. In November, we’ll vote for a new president of the United States.”

Son: “Who is it going to be?”

Me: “We have to vote to find out. Voting is how we choose the president. Voting is choosing, for the president.”

Son: “Well, my president is Fred Thompson.”

Me: …

Me (trying, and failing, to keep a straight face): “Why is that?”

Son: “Because it’s my favorite and I love it.”

Wording Means a Lot

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor?,Not Cool,Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 3, 2008 @ 10:56 am

Take a look at the info-blurb under Thompson as he’s speaking here and then tell me about your lack of bias:

Fred Thompson Opposes Abortion Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

What’s wrong with “Fred Thompson Supports the Right to Life and Heterosexual Marriage”? Nothing except that the one they went with sends a context of opposition to something that should be a foregone conclusion.


The New Year’s List

Filed under:Cool — posted by Anwyn on December 31, 2007 @ 10:11 pm

Though the idea of The List was made infamous on Friends, mine’s not as notorious as all that–I’d be happy just hanging out for a while with any guy on the list, never mind sleeping with him. Of course, I’m not ruling the idea out, either …

The list actually isn’t that different from last year’s–only two slots changed out of the five.

1. Matthew Perry: Haven’t seen him since Studio 60 came to a somewhat merciful end. Hope he picks a good next project.

2. Nathan Fillion: I haven’t managed to force myself to watch Desperate Housewives just to get a glimpse. Here’s hoping for better things soon.

3. Josh Charles: A girl can live a long, long time on a few episodes of Sports Night.

4. David Tennant: Currently playing the Doctor. The casting directors of that show know what they’re doing when it comes to picking a Doctor with personality off the charts–he is what makes the story interesting in a welter of uneven writing and a certain amount of camp. Ultimate casting wish: A series of Lord Peter Wimsey movies, with Tennant as Wimsey, Kate Winslet as Harriet Vane, and James McAvoy as Detective-Inspector Charles Parker.

5. And speaking of McAvoy, I keep married men off the general list, both to help me whittle it down and because it just seems rude to do otherwise. So the Honorable Mention slot this year goes to Married Guys, guys it would be great to hang out with and have a beer with them and their wives: Hugh Laurie (the incomparable House), James McAvoy (best period-piece heartbreaker), Jason Dohring (the guy who shouldn’t be that cute but somehow is–personality again, I’m a sucker for the stuff), James Frain (classic tall, dark, and handsome), Adam Baldwin (“Don’t worry, Chuck. When Sarah leaves we’ll get you a new girl.”).

Cheers and Happy New Year!

P.S. Don’t worry, Allahbabe, I still love you too. And I know you know I do not think the sun rises and sets in Fred Thompson’s … belly.

Someone Lit a Fire Under SeeDub

Filed under:Cool,Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on December 30, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

Damned if you do (want it too much) and damned if you don’t (seem to). The double-twisted vise you’re caught in when you run for president. Fred Thompson has already given an answer that more than satisfies me:

In the first place, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. I wouldn’t be doing this if i didn’t. I grew up very modest circumstances. I left government, I and my family have made sacrifices for me to be sitting here today. I haven’t had any income for a long time because I’m doing this. I figure that to be clean you’ve got to cut everything off. And I was doing speaking engagements and I had a contract to do a tv show, I had a contract with abc radio like I was talking about earlier and so forth. I guess a man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family which is not a joyful thing at all if he didn’t want to do it.

But I am not consumed by personal ambition. I will not be devastated if I don’t do it. I want the people to have the best president that they can have.

But I approached it from the standpoint of a deal. A kind of a marriage. If one side of a marriage has to be really talked into the marriage, it probably ain’t going to be a very good deal for either one of them. But if you mutually think that this is a good thing. In this case, if you think this is a good thing for the country, then you have an opportunity to do some wonderful things together.

I’m offering myself up. I’m saying that I have the background, the capability, and the concern to do this and I’m doing it for the right reasons. But I’m not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I’d make a good president.

But as SeeDub points out with considerably more heat and extra helpings of what should be, but apparently isn’t, Mr. Obvious logic, it isn’t just what he says but what he does.

No, he doesn’t want to be President. He just loves debating with Ron Paul. He just loves fielding moronic questions from ham-headed local reporters. He just kissed off a plum lifetime job on one of NBC’s flagship dramas, where the catering truck was right there and the interviews by the entertainment press were light and fluffy and respectful and there weren’t any “hand shows” about global warming.

Of course, he’ll always treasure those hours spent in briefings talking about ethanol subsidies to policy wonks. You just know he gets a warm fuzzy feeling coming up hat in hand to strangers, asking them to keep his campaign bus fueled and his commercials on the air. And he just gets his rocks off on having James Dobson wonder whether he’s really a Christian or not. Woo hoo!

Preach it.

Quote of the Day

Filed under:Cool,Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn @ 6:53 pm

Daddyman, upon watching Fred Thompson’s video message to the Iowa caucus-goers: “Did he just say he’s going to save the Democratic party, too?”

Electability: “Now I’m asking my fellow Republicans to vote for me not only for what I have to say to them, but for what I have to say to the members of the other party–the millions of Democrats who haven’t left the Democratic party so much as their party’s national leadership has left them. In this campaign I’ll be seeking the support of millions of Democrats who no longer believe that they can trust their own party’s leadership on the issue of national security. I’ll be seeking the support of millions of Democrats with young families who’re beginning to see the economic burdens they may face because of their party’s leadership’s taste for high taxes and politically motivated refusal to fix Social Security and remove the threat of the shortfall in federal benefit plans that could be a catastrophe for younger taxpayers. And finally, I’ll be seeking the support of Democrats who are weary of spin politics and the permanent campaign, and endless attempts to control the media dynamic–who think policy stances ought to be judged on a higher criteria than what works better in a sound bite or fits this week’s campaign message guidance. So I’ll be asking good Democrats as well as independents to give us another chance to see if a Republican president and Congress that’s dedicated to conservative principles can move forward with an agenda that goes beyond mere partisanship and political expediency and actually deals with the long-term foreign and domestic crises we face.”

What makes that statement stand out is the marked lack of any drivel about “consensus” or “bipartisanship.” The reality is that people who agree on issues have consensus; people who disagree can get, at best, compromise. Thompson should appeal to Democrats who are less interested in straight-up opposition to whatever the current Republican administration is doing and more interested in what’s actually best for a given situation. I know at least one Democrat who already said to me, after seeing Thompson on Meet the Press, that he could live with him as president because he seemed like a reasonable, intelligent person–which are the main two characteristics required for working with opposition. Those calling the loudest for “consensus” are usually the ones with the most stridently unreasonable policy ideas–or those with no ideas at all, who prefer to whine, “Can’t we all just get along?” Not so Thompson–he runs the way I’ve always thought most sensible: Vote for me if you agree with these positions I’ve outlined. Period.

In Which Slublog and Gib Research Huckabee So I Don’t Have To

Filed under:Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on November 28, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

I didn’t mention Huckabee in my earlier endorsement of Fred Thompson even though, much to many people’s surprise, he appears to be surging. I’m reluctant to consider him a first-tier candidate and so did not mention him in my rundown of the rest of the Big Four. My primary reason for discounting him early on was his nanny-state approach with things like the ridiculous national smoking ban. But if you’re thinking Huckabee, take a good hard look at Slublog’s detailed assessment and Gib’s layout of a troubling incident, and then tell me why it’s a good idea to vote for somebody who may sound more fervent on abortion and other moral issues than Thompson but who, even if elected, will have no more real power to affect those issues than the mechanisms Thompson has already outlined–while at the same time he’s a big spender who, because of his evangelical appeal, will have a lot more trouble beating Hillary. I disagree with Slublog in that I don’t think it’s a Big Government menace to end what should clearly be a crime (abortion) at the federal level, but I do think the first step down that road will only be taken through federalism and returning the power to the states until the voices denouncing the crime become loud and numerous enough that it can become a federal issue. Mike Huckabee talks a good game about short-circuiting that process, but I agree with Thompson’s calculation that federal action at this stage is an unrealistic pipe dream and a bad political risk.

And lest we forget, Huckabee consistently called multitudes of Republican voters racist for wanting an end to illegal immigration because (paraphrased from an earlier debate), “I’ve seen it, I’ve talked to people.” As I’ve said before, I ain’t his Huckaberry and I hope these polls are wrong in showing how many of my fellow Christians are becoming so.

Whew. That Was Fun.

Filed under:Blogging,Cool — posted by Anwyn on November 13, 2007 @ 10:46 am

We now return this blog to its regularly scheduled TV and whatever-else-I-feel-like-blogging beat. But it sure was fun getting links from Hot Air headlines, Patterico (with the excellent point that if Thompson’s successes aren’t worth reporting because they were fairly typical, why should his failures, also fairly typical, be different?), a grumpy but lovable See-Dubya, Ace’s headlines, and … Fred Thompson’s campaign.


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