A Ron Paul-like criticism of the determination of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons makes you trust their judgment even more. “So why, then, are Republican candidates treating Iran like it’s the modern embodiment of Nazi Germany, al Qaeda, and the Soviet Union, all wrapped up in a mischievous and explosive ball? The long answer is Americans don’t like Iran, they are afraid of nuclear weapons and images of mushroom clouds, and Muslims with weapons of mass destruction are scary. Frankly, GOP primary voters care about threats to Israel — and sanctions and diplomacy are less impressive than the promise that American airplanes will soon be dropping bombs on reinforced bunkers.” Thunk.

This stirring piece by Charles Lane makes you appreciate him and Rick Santorum even more. “I am defending the right of the Santorums and all families to grieve an infant’s death in accordance with their personal needs and beliefs. My plea is for a little more respect regarding the way people deal with loss, and a little more maturity about physical contact with the dead. If that puts me in sympathy, for a moment, with this right-wing politician, so be it. “ Read the whole thing.

This makes you think he’s got something to hide. “Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said today that he still can’t release his contract with Freddie Mac (FMCC) — even though the mortgage finance company gave him permission to do so — because the decision is up to his business partners in his consulting firm. Gingrich’s comments came after Freddie Mac told Bloomberg News yesterday that the former U.S. House speaker was cleared to make the documents public. Before that, Gingrich said the reason he couldn’t release the contract was that Freddie Mac wouldn’t waive a confidentiality agreement.” Ludicrous.

This makes you suspect the purists want to be aggrieved, not find a candidate. “Just as the conservative movement finally has the first real chance since Ronald Reagan to see one of its own — a “full-spectrum conservative,” as Rick Santorum now calls himself, picking up the phrase from Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa) — win the Republican presidential nomination, the purists emerge to say he’s somehow not conservative enough. The attempt to attach a ‘big-government conservative’ label to Rick Santorum for some rare wanderings from the conservative reservation makes about as much sense as arguing that record-breaking Drew Brees of the [New Orleans] Saints is a poor quarterback because he threw 14 interceptions this season. The reality is that Rick Santorum’s instincts and intellectual choices consistently tend toward freedom.”

This makes you understand how reckless is President Obama’s proposed defense budget. “Declining power, a reviled reputation, modesty, and leading from behind: Obama sees his task as shepherding what he deems to be this deeply imperfect nation — one he repeatedly apologized for during the early months of his presidency — through its inevitable descent. Unfortunately for us, with Obama at the helm, America’s decline is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. You need look no further than the defense budget for confirmation of that.”

The latest round of polls makes you wonder why Newt Gingrich is continuing on. His support in New Hampshire has plummeted.

This makes you understand how flimsy are the president’s justifications for his not-really-in-recess appointments. John Yoo dissects Larry Tribe’s defense, concluding: “Even though I am a supporter of presidential power, I also believe that the Framers intended each branch to control its own formal constitutional authorities and functions (which is, in fact, why I defend the presidency so strongly on foreign affairs and national security). And the core power of Congress is the power of domestic legislation and the power of the purse. Congress has the power to decide what the size and shape of the federal government is to be and whether to pay for it — that is the real check on the presidency. Presidents have generally respected those limits, except during time of greatest emergency (such as the outbreak of the Civil War). Obama goes beyond anything any president has before, for reasons that are obviously partisan rather than where the national safety demands it. It is a waste of presidential authority, and one I think that will haunt Obama.”

Jim Pethokoukis’s analysis makes you think the drop in the unemployment rate isn’t what it’s cracked up to be “If the size of the U.S. labor force was as large as it was when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.9 percent. But since so many people have gotten discouraged and stopped looking for work — and thus disappeared by government statisticians — the jobless number has been artificially depressed. A better gauge of the jobs picture is the broader U-6 rate, which includes part-timers who would rather have full-time jobs. It stands at a whopping 15.2 percent.”

This makes you suspect that the courts will slap him down. “President Barack Obama today escalated his claimed power to appoint top officials by announcing that his financial-sector appointee also has authority that is legally reserved only for an official who has been confirmed by the Senate. The 2010 law that established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau includes a section that says many of the bureau’s new powers are to be held by the secretary of the Treasury ‘until the Director of the Bureau is confirmed by the Senate.’ ”

This makes you want to understand what a perfect medium Twitter is for Phil Terzian: “Andrew Sullivan endorses Ron Paul; beagles disown Master Andrew: ‘We’ve never been so embarrassed . . .’ ”