I’ll be posting analysis in five minute intervals of the CNN “National Security” Debate.

I came in five minutes late, blogging from the in-laws house in Alabama tonight. Apparently Wolf Blitzer is concerned with people not knowing his name. Then in the introductions Willard Mitt Romney said “Mitt really is my first name”. Except it’s not. Good one Willard.

Apparently the rule of law in our Republic is good with Newt Gingrich except when it comes to terrorism. That definition could become broad and scary very quickly. Blitzer wisely engaged Ron Paul who advocated not giving up our liberty in the name of security. Michelle Bachmann is giving a non-answer. Huntsman gets an answer in. I’m wondering of Blitzer is trying to get the non-competitive candidates out of the way early.

Romney quickly moves to bring himself close to Gingrich’s answer. However, he clearly differentiated actions inside and outside of war. Gingirch’s response sounded like he wanted absolute power when he deemed necessary. Rick Perry moves the question on TSA pat downs to privatizing airport security (which studies have shown is more effective) and thus eliminating the union. Rick Santorum advocated profiling in airports like the Israelis do. I completely agree with this. If you don’t think this happens some today, you are crazy. Flight attendants are trained to do it every single day.

Ron Paul disagrees with profiling. One of the few areas I disagree with him. Herman Cain wants to “tweak” the Patriot Act. I could not disagree more. That act has taken away an unbelievable amount of individual rights! Cain says he wants to “trust the experts”. That scares me more than anything. Who are his experts? He has never been able to name them before. I want Herman Cain to be a legitimate candidate, but he simply is not.

Bachman: “[Pakistan] is too nuclear to fail” so we should give them money. Do these people hear themselves talk? Rick Perry says give them the cash. Bachmann calls Perry naive because Pakistan’s nukes could end up in the US. Huh?

The question is essentially what is the cost/benefit analysis of being in Afghanistan. That is an easy answer. We should not be there. When did we declare war through a Congressional vote? Romney says American approval in Afghanistan is 12% WHO FREAKING CARES?!?!?!?! Huntsman makes the correct point that we have no end game in Afghanistan. And my CNN streaming just died. However, where is Ron Paul on this question?

Newt Gingrich claims he is confused. In reality he is moving the scope of the question to give the answer he wants to give. Gingrich says we should tell the Pakistanis that we will kill who we want when we want, so join up or get out of the way. That is not the America I want. Ron Paul has not answered yet, but Rick Santorum lets us know he agrees with him on this question.

What a fantastic question. Would you launch a preemptive strike with Israel? Cain: It depends. He sounds like the 6 sigma “black belts” I work with. Ron Paul: No. I am honestly conflicted on this one. I believe the Iranian leaders when they claim to want to annihilate Israel. However, if Israel attacks, then what? The entire region and probably the entire world will suddenly be engulfed in war. As for Ron Paul, he does not believe Iranians and I think he is wrong to want to not support Israel.

Another great question. Despite all the sections, Iran is still on its way to develop a nuclear bomb. What sanctions are left? Perry says to go after their central bank. However, no sanctions will work because there will always be Russias and Chinas in the world that will trade with Iran.

Newt thinks we can break Iran within one year and that we should sabotage their oil refinery. This sounds like an act of war to me. As for breaking Iran, if we could, we would have already. Why wait until Iran virtually has the bomb to do it? What does the federal government handing money out to countries Africa have to do with this debate’s theme, “national security”? Santorum love this stuff. So where do you draw the line on government spending? Private groups can handle the humanitarian aid. There is no need for the government to take the money away from some people in the US then redistribute it to other countries! Cain again answers with “it depends”. He has learned quickly how to be a “politician”.

Ron Paul says you can’t give out foreign aid if you refuse to cut anything. I could not agree more. Though I would go further and cut all foreign aid. However, this isn’t the real problem in the budget. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense are the problems. Romney says if you eliminate Obamacare this will solve it all. Uh huh. This is a great debate so far with some serious questions. The current question is can we cut defense? The answer is of course. You can always drive efficiencies. Newt goes first and is nailing this, even invoking Lean and 6 Sigma. This is the best answer I have heard all night.

Wolf asks Newt if we should bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. He answers, “only as a last resort, but only if it also includes a regime change”. No kidding Newt. No kidding. Huntsman brings us back to the deficits and debt and says everything should be on the table, including defense. This is the correct approach. One of the biggest problems of government compared with the private sector is that without the profit motive, there is no incentive for governments to drive efficiency.

Wolf is pushing the candidates on refusing any tax increases. There is a huge problem with this question. Define a “tax increase”. Increasing base rates are one thing. However, eliminating, say, tax exemptions that provide favored status to only a few, such as the mortgage write-off, results in a net tax increase. I would slash exemptions in a heartbeat.

Nothing really all that exciting over the past five minutes.

Bachmann, Huntsman, and Santorum are getting unprecedented time. Why? I’m good with them being marginalized at this point. After a really long break we’re back at 9:25.

Perry: “Within 12 months of the inaugural [sic] I’ll close down the border with Mexico.” Ron Paul: “Cancel the war on drugs…. Alcohol is a deadly drug…. Why don’t we handle the war on drugs like we do alcohol?” Yup. A question on high-skilled immigration rather than low-skilled immigration. Another great one. Then Wolf goes to Santorum first. Why bother?

Newt wants and H1 Visa with every math, science, and engineering graduate degree. I like the concept, but specifying specific degrees is a mistake. We want all the talent we can find in the US to grow our economic pie as much as possible. Newt and Bachmann are arguing on the semantics of the DREAM Act and amnesty. Newt is walking the line. Bachmann is absolutely against any form of amnesty.

Romney has delivered the best answer here. Clearly stating that immigration is great and should be easy. He also says we should staple a green card to all those graduate diplomas Newt referred to, saying “we want those brains in our country”. YES YES YES! The argument Newt is making is to allow some amnesty, but how do you draw that line? The real problem is there must be a one-time solution to accompany a new system. That will take some serious political courage to put in place. I agree that it would be tragic to tear apart families. But there will inevitably be some problems because you must draw a line somewhere.

Well that was a fun break. I’m streaming and CNN goes to complete silence.

Blah blah blah. Wolf is asking whether the Arab Spring will be a bad thing, referring specifically to what is happening in Egypt. Another easy answer. Duh, yes. Huntsman starts throwing around names and dates and answers the questions in an overly-intellectual way that won’t exactly appeal to the common voter. Good grief. It looks like we are going the full two hours this time.

We are talking about no-fly zones. Meh. We are either at war or we are not. Ron Paul sums it up well: “Why don’t we mind our own business?” Romney goes to a prepared answer going after Obama. Yes Mitt, we know you’re running in the general election while also trying to win a primary. Now it’s open-question lightning round time!

Santorum. Meh. Ron Paul. Let stop getting into new wars. Yes please. Perry. China is destined for the ash-heap of history “because it is not a country of virtue”. Have you seen what has happened in the US over the past several years? Romney. Need to be concerned with Latin America. A complete non-controversial non-answer. Cain. Concerned with a cyber attacks. This is a bigger issue than Americans realize. Gingrich. Offers a list. Perry knows something about top 10 lists. Bachmann. Meh. Huntsman. China? Really? Glad you pulled up and went away from that. We don’t believe in our own government. No kidding. You’ve said that twice tonight but how are you going to change that?

“Now time for Anderson Cooper 360 coverage, I’m John King in for Anderson Cooper”. Solid intro right there. That’s why you don’t name a show after the host.

Thanks for joining again tonight.