The New Hamsphire Debate, Brought To You By Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson will officially announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, September 6th, which means he won’t take an official role in the previous night’s debate in New Hampshire. However, Thompson has decided to take another role for that event instead — sponsor:

Fred D. Thompson, the soon-to-be-official presidential contender, has come under a good deal of criticism in New Hampshire this week for scheduling his formal announcement for next Thursday morning and thus skipping the Republican debate in Manchester on Wednesday night.
But that does not mean that television viewers watching the debate will not see him.
Campaign officials said Friday that Mr. Thompson had bought a 30-second spot that would be televised nationally on the Fox News Channel, the network carrying the debate, just as viewers are tuning in at the onset.
One campaign official familiar with the decision said the spot would be a sneak preview of the announcement that Mr. Thompson will make the next day in a video posted on his Web site, to be followed later Thursday by campaign appearances in Iowa.

It’s a shrewd move by Thompson, one that gets his face in front of the public and allows him to participate in the event, but on his terms. He’ll overshadow the debate, the second time he’s managed to do that, and give himself a little more time to prepare properly for his first debate.
After this, though, Thompson has to fully engage. Once his announcement is made, he will have to show some fire on the campaign trail. His appearance in Minnesota showed that he’s building up to a fast start, but it will also have to be near-flawless. He won’t have the time to recover from stumbles as Rudy Giuliani did on abortion in April.
We’ll be live-blogging the New Hampshire debate at Heading Right. Be sure to make us part of your debate experience on September 5th!
UPDATE: I had the wrong date for the debate; I’ve fixed it now, thanks to KendraWilder in the comments.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Hamas has found governance significantly more difficult than agitation, now that it owns the Gaza Strip. When confronted with unrest, they resorted to beating protestors, armed and unarmed, and threatened the Associated Press if they took pictures of the proceedings:

A protest against Hamas rule by thousands of Fatah supporters turned violent yesterday when Hamas forces began dispersing the crowd, firing in the air and beating demonstrators.
The clashes broke out after worshipers held a Friday prayer meeting outside a mosque in a Gaza City public square. Fatah has urged its backers to stay out of mosques, which it says are being used by Hamas to provoke factional fighting among Palestinians.
About 20 people were injured in the clashes, including children, according to doctors and witnesses.
Two journalists were beaten by Hamas supporters, although neither was seriously hurt. Two other French journalists suffered minor injuries from a small explosion.

Fatah didn’t exactly follow the Mohandas K. Gandhi playbook, either. After conducted prayer services outside of Hamas-controlled mosques in Gaza City and Rafah, the protestors in some cases finished their supplication with the traditional pipe-bomb toss that the Palestinians have made so popular. Most of the demonstrations were not violent, however, until Hamas decided that they had tired of dissent.
One of the reasons Hamas lost patience was because of an interesting taunt. Fatah loyalists starting yelling “Shi’ites”, a reference to Hamas’ Iranian ties. Those apparently cause more grief than commonly known in the Palestinian territories, and Hamas — which is nominally Sunni — has a little sensitivity to the charge. The protestors also referred to their Hamas masters as “mercenaries”, another reference to Iran.
Hamas also has a sensitivity about free speech, as in they don’t like it. While meting out the beatings, Hamas took the time to pay the Associated Press a visit in their offices. They told the AP not to film the outside of their security offices from the AP balcony or roof — and they brought their guns to underscore their point. They had arrested over two dozen “subverters”, and apparently didn’t want images of the detainees to make it to the wires.
It doesn’t sound as if Hamas is enjoying their power grab. Certainly the people of Gaza haven’t found it palatable, and the example it sets for Islamist rule has to be bracing for moderates in the region. If the beatings don’t improve Gaza morale soon, what will Hamas do next?

Justice Opens Investigation Of Hsu

The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the fundraising activities of Norman Hsu, the man who put over a million dollars into Democratic coffers while remaining a fugitive con man. They want to find out whether more than just coincidence linked heavy donation activity between Hsu and at least two households of more modest means — and the answers could prove very embarrassing for top Democrats:

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible campaign-finance violations by top Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, according to people familiar with the probe. On Friday, Mr. Hsu surrendered to California officials on an unrelated grand-theft charge dating to the early 1990s.
Mr. Hsu, who, until earlier this week was one of the biggest fundraisers for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton, was booked at the San Mateo County jail, where he was handcuffed and later released on $2 million bail. Wearing a black suit and white shirt, Mr. Hsu rushed to a waiting black Chevy Suburban outside the jail lobby Friday afternoon without answering any questions from reporters.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign declined to comment yesterday. The New York senator, along with other Democrats, has said she would turn over donations received from Mr. Hsu to charity.
But Mr. Hsu’s legal woes are a political blow to the many prominent Democrats who accepted his funds, in particular Mrs. Clinton. While there is no sign any of them were aware of Mr. Hsu’s actions and prior record, they could be embarrassed by the probe of his fundraising.

It may prove more than just embarrassing. No one can determine where Hsu got his money — and that’s just the cash he personally donated. If the Justice probe shows that he used other people as fronts to move money illegally to Democratic candidates, that will deepen the mystery of the source of Hsu’s funds even further.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Hsu fled to China after his fraud conviction. Records show him working for a Hong Kong exporter for the two years after jumping bail. If Hsu turns out to have gotten his funds from international sources hostile to the US, giving the money to charity will do little to restore reputations.
Even just for using fronts like the Paw family, Hsu faces some stiff prison time. In 2002, Congress made such activities criminal, and Hsu could get 5 years and a $250,000 fine on each count. That’s federal prison time, where parole doesn’t exist and good behavior gets at best a 15% reduction in time served.
If the DoJ finds a foreign source for those funds, Hsu’s sentencing will take a back seat to the sentence of the American people on those who took his money without checking him out. This could get very ugly for the Democrats.
UPDATE: You have to give credit to the LA Times. They haven’t let up on this case. In today’s edition, they demonstrate how easy it would have been to discover the con man behind the shower of cash:

Clinton and her aides said there was little they could have done to protect themselves, but fundraising experts from both parties pointed to warning signs that should have given aides pause. …
The most obvious red flag: A check of a commonly used database produces a 1990 San Francisco Chronicle news story detailing how Norman Hsu had been kidnapped by gang members in the San Mateo County suburb of Foster City. A second widely used database discloses that Norman Yuan Yuen Hsu of Foster City had a bankruptcy in 1990.
Having established that he lived in San Mateo County, a check of the San Mateo County Superior Court’s website reveals that Norman Yuan Yuen Hsu had a criminal case.

The LAT quotes “aides to Clinton” as saying that Hsu never asked any favors and just liked having his picture taken with politicians. Uh, riiiiiiiiiight. And he committed the latex-glove fraud because he likes shaking hands with doctors. I suspect the FBI may have more information on whether Hsu asked for a favor or two every hundred thousand dollars by the time they complete their investigation.
UPDATE II: Gateway Pundit noticed that Hsu’s name came up in the 1996 campaign finance scandal involving Charlie Trie and connections to China. It’s tangential — Hsu’s name comes up in relation to a donation made to “Friends of Norman Hsu” by Sioeng San Wong. Even tangential, it connects the two scandals, and it could explain the FBI’s interest in the case. Good work by Gateway Pundit in digging this one out.
UPDATE III: Commenter Lucky Bogey says GP wasn’t the first to make the connection. Check the comments for the links.