My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


On the Dangers of Underestimation

There is, I think a real tendency of those of us in the center-right blogosphere to look for examples of media bias, for no other reason than to mock it. Look at any of the major center-right blogs. . .Hugh Hewitt, Powerline, Captain's Quarters . . . and you will find many examples of pointing out media lies and misrepresentations, followed by a dismissive wave at the hand at the "dinosaur".

That's probably an unfair mass characterization--to be sure, all of the above DO attempt to take on the media directly at every opportunity. But I think there is certainly less direct advocacy to the general public than there could be. And while it is significant to continually point out to the center-right audience examples of media bias, leaving it at preaching to the choir is a strategic error.

How big a strategic error? Let me analogize.

FIRST: Let me be clear--I AM NOT CALLING THE MEDIA THE ENEMY, OR IN ANY WAY LIKENING THEM TO OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA, HITLER, OR ANY OTHER BAD GUY. You have to read the whole analogy and go with it to understand me.

IF the battlefield of ideas is an impotant, strategic battlefield--and it most certainly is--than you can use a variety of battlefield analogies to understand it. And bear with me while I build mine.

Why weren't Conservatives able to argue that the War in Iraq is actually going very well right now, by any historical standard? Because the media story had become SO ingrained in the American consciousness that it brooked no room for argument.

Why weren't Republicans able to capitalize on a strong economy in the 2006 election cycle? Because the media story had become SO ingrained that most of the public did not even know there was a strong economy, much less be in a position to weigh competing arguments about the point.

Why weren't Republicans able to counter the "corruption" meme the Democrats ran out in September to kill GOP momentum? Because--well, one of ours was exceedingly stupid--but also because coverage of Ted Haggard and Mark Foley got front-page, above-the-fold for several days straight, while coverage of William Jefferson and other Democrats were relegated to page 6B. In other words, the common language necessary for a real debate on the issue was never a possibility.

In other words, every weapon in our electoral arsenal was rendered moot because the terrain of the battlefield was extraordinarily unfavorable.

To underestimate the effect of the mainsteam media throwing in, full-throated, with the Democrats, is akin to disregarding the significance of U.S. Air Power. The media, especially once it decides to pick a side as it did in 2006, is the force that prepares the battlefield of ideas. And, as the enemies of the U.S. Air Force have discovered, to disregard that force is to invite disaster--in this case, electoral disaster.

So I think the center-right needs to make a much more concerted effort to tell The Whole Story--going straight to the public to level the battlefield for Republicans.

Stay tuned for the "how" of accomplishing this.



Al Gore For President

Al Gore should ABSOLUTELY run for President. Here's why:

He is, of any of the Democratic contenders, THE one-issue candidate. And the thing is, he is SUCH a one-issue candidate that he becomes the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

And, no, that wasn't a reference to his . . . . rotundity.

In the first place, none of the other contenders holds a candle to his resume. So, none of them can address foreign policy at his level ( . . .of incoherence . . .but, they're all like that), none of them can lay claim to being part of a strong economy (of course, that didn't work for him once), and none have yet to run a national campaign, not to mention the instant monopoly he's likely to have on all of Hollywood's money. And, of course, he doesn't want to talk about any of that, anyway.

He'll want to talk about global warming. And the rest of them will either concede the point to him, or . . .

and this is what I'm hoping for. . .

they will be in the uncomfortable position of arguing with him about it.

At which point Republicans should just sit back and wait for the smoke to clear.

Which is, perhaps, why he did not announce for President tonight. I think some of the important people in charge of the internals of how these things work got in touch with him and begged him not to run. In all likelihood, they probably had to make him some ridiculous promise to go with it--like a cabinet-level post. "Environmental Policy Czar", or some such thing.

But, just in case he's still thinking about it, let me point to a couple resources that not only argue against the idea that humans are responsible for global warming, but whether global warming is happening AT ALL.

All resources courtesy of Michael Crichton's State of Fear.

:this chart shows mean surface temperatures at Punta Arenas, Antarctica, which seems TO ME to show that 2004 was an unusually warm year, at the tail end of a block in which 39 of the last 44 years had mean temperatures at or below the historical mean
:this chart shows mean surface temperatures at Angmassilk, Greenland, which seems TO ME to show a cyclical movement, in which we are now engaged in an uptick, though only 1 of the 10 warmest years on record are from in the last decade
:this chart shows mean surface temperatures at Norfolk Islan, New Zealand, which seems TO ME to show almost no noticable trend in surface temperatures over the past 90-some years
:this chart shows mean surface temperatures at Canon City, Colorado, which seems TO ME to show almost no discernable trend in surface temperatures over the past 120-some years
:this chart shows mean surface temperatures at Charleston City, South Carolina, which seems TO ME to show no discernable trend in surface temperatures over the past 120-some years; in fact, if anything, Charleston has COOLED somewhat (perhaps 1/10 of one degree Celsius) over that period of time
:this chart shows the atmospheric CO2 concentrations at the South Pole, which clearly shows that CO2 levels have been increasing steadily (though far less dramatically than the chart seems to show--put that same chart on an Excel graph that shows where zero is and you get a fairly undramatic increase) for the past 45 years; this is also the place closest to the Punta Arenas station which, if you saw the above link, shows very little movement in surface temperatures
:and last, but not least, this chart which shows the sunspot cycle for our sun, seeming to indicate that over the past hundred years or so the suspot cycles have had higher solar maxima; there is also a discussion of how decreased sunspot activity in the past has coincided with periods of unusual cooling on earth

At this point, I am unwilling to say that Global Warming does not exist--this chart here shows that it does. However, given that the same chart seems to show that the sum increase since 1880 is a whopping .8 degrees Celsius, and given that even during periods of CO2 increase like the one from 1940 - 1970 there was NO change in mean surface temperatures, and given the other data based on sunspot activity, I AM UNWILLING TO SAY THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS A MAN-MADE PHENOMENON--shockingly, contrary to what the U.N. said two weeks ago.

I think the Earth is a very complex organism with very complex systems, most of which we do not understand very well at this point. I tend to think that the Earth (Mother Earth, to my Boulder friends) is far FAR more capable of taking care of itself than we give it credit for. Perhaps Al Gore should stop arrogating to himself all the responsibility for saving the Earth, and work harder to stop real, imminent catastrophes like the ones brewing in Iran and North Korea.
Or even the smaller, more human catastrophes like persistent poverty in corrupt third world countries--or corrupt inner cities in America.


Oscar Prediction [update]

I'm gonna go out on a limb here . . . way out there . . . and predict . . .

that the Hollywood Academy voters will have chosen to award the Best Documentary Oscar to . . .

Al Gore.

I know, I know . . . . way out on a limb there.

But WAIT!!! Even further, I predict that, as per the speculation, Al Gore will use the opportunity (several million viewers) to announce that he will run for President in 2008.

And I will be jumping up and down for joy in my living room--much to the chagrin of my wife.

After the fact, I will tell you why this is a GREAT thing for Republicans.

UPDATE: Aw, MAN! He didn't announce for Prez. Damn! But there's still plenty of time in this race.


Out Of Their Depth

One has to wonder why those on the Left never seem to recognize when they are just plain out of their depth on issues. [courtesy CO Senate News]

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, lashed out today at U.S. plans to boost troop reinforcements in Iraq and drew a stern rebuke from Senate Republicans . . .

Gordon, speaking at a Capitol news conference hosted by the liberal, anti-war group, Colorado Progressive Coalition, also expressed dismay that “trillions of dollars" are being spent on the Iraq war effort. The entire U.S. fiscal year 2008 budget is approximately $2.9 trillion. . .

Gordon, who was joined at the news conference by freshman Democrat Rep. John Kefalas of Fort Collins, blamed war spending for domestic woes, including Colorado’s inability to fund services like higher education and roads. . .

“It’s very difficult to bring democracy to a country while you are killing, even inadvertently, many of the civilians that live there,” Gordon said. “Although we’ve had 3,000 Americans die, we have also participated in creating a situation where over 100,000 Iraqis have died.”

Perhaps it's because a fawning press never bothers to ask the obvious questions. Like . . .

1. "Mr. Senator, are you suggesting that Iraqi civilians would NOT be dying now if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq?"

2. "Mr. Senator, can you show us where, in the federal budgets for the last five fiscal years, federal spending on roads has been re-categorized for the supplemental military expenditures?"

3. "Mr. Senator, in opposing the President's plan to augment troop levels currently in place in Baghdad and Anbar, is it your belief, contrary to the understanding of every military mind who has spoken on the problem, that civilian casualties in Iraq would be reduced if America maintains the current situation, or even pulls out?"

Of course, the answers to those questions are, in order: we know that Saddam murdered AT LEAST 10,000 Iraqi civilians every year, on average, during his reign; um . . . .no; and every expert who has ventured a guess has used phrases like "genocide" and "3,700 dead in a night" to describe a post-U.S. Iraq.

But Senator Gordon gets to stumble blithely forward in his cocoon of ignorance, imagining himself a great statesman, because NOBODY COVERING THIS EVENT BOTHERED TO QUESTION HIM.

I wonder if a Republican would get the same treatment.

[cross-posted at Political Avalanche]



Handicapping the Presidential Race

Yes, I know it's very early. But we do, at least, know who most of the major players are going to be, so--before they all take the next 18 months off from their day jobs to campaign--we can at least look at what the people look like at this point in time.

For the purposes of this, I will limit my discussion to the top six announced candidates--three on each side. Also, I will break down the people based on some very simple principles that tend to define politicians: notable achievements, compelling personal story, fundraising ability, and political talent.

If I've left anything important off the list, please tell me so in the comments--I do effort to be thorough.

1. Mayor Rudy Guiliani--a state's attorney with an impressive record of going after organized crime, followed by a turn as a Republican Mayor of New York City, which he widely gets credit for revitalizing, and--oh, yeah--his famous response to the attacks of Sept. 11th. You won't find a much better record anywhere in politics.
2. Gov. Mitt Romney--a wildly successful businessman, was brought on to "rescue" the Salt Lake City Olympics, which he accomplished with higest honors, then became a Republican Governor of Massachussetts, during which tenure he stared down a legislature that didn't want to do its job and put a universal health care plan in place following conservative economic principles. He would be way out on top of this category if it weren't for Guiliani.
3. Sen. John McCain--a war hero who has served for decades in Congress; sadly, his most notable legislative accomplishments are Campaign Finance Reform and the Gang of 14. Probably shouldn't be this high on the list, but those below him are, well, even more deserving of their rankings.
4. Sen. Hillary Clinton--a one-term (now in her second) Senator with no record of public service prior to that time, save eight years as First Lady; no notable legislative achievements
5. Sen. John Edwards--a one-term Senator without significant legislative achievement, has spent most of his life as a palintiff's attorney (with next to no pro bono work) except for a few months campaigning for Vice President
6. Sen. Barak Obama--a first-term Senator who had a brief career in the Illinois state legislature before that; has had two books well ghost-written for him

1. Sen. John McCain--hard to beat the war hero angle--GREAT American
2. Sen. Barak Obama--after all, he is the first attractive, articulate African-American . . . whose history of travel and mixed ethnicity DO make him interesting
3. Sen. John Edwards--doesn't really belong this high (think "silver spoon"), but his wife's recovery from cancer is a great story
4. Sen. Hillary Clinton--to be compelling, it must be interesting; to be interesting, it should be new; there is NOTHING new about Hillary Clinton. Her life story is that of the shadow of the Bill . . .
5. Gov. Mitt Romney-- I'm not sure how the Mormon thing is going to play out over the next 18 months, but it will bear watching; otherwise, he seems pretty milquetoast.
6. Mayor Rudy Guiliani--I suspect we're going to hear much more than we want to over the next year about divorces and affairs and . . . not good.

1. Gov. Mitt Romney--though its early, his first-day total has got to have old pros looking over their shoulders
2. Sen. Hillary Clinton--an ENORMOUS war chest gives her an almost-unmatched ability to control the debate
3. Mayor Rudy Guiliani--America's Mayor draws huge crowds wherever he goes, and showed a lot of cache raising money for other candidates in 2004 and 2006
4. Sen. John McCain--an experienced and talented fundraiser, but has created huge problemsfor himself among the base of donors with his bizarre legislative record of late
5. Sen. Barak Obama--certainly doesn't have the nationwide database yet, but early hints out of Hollywood indicate he will have plenty of deep pockets to call on when he needs them
6. Sen. John Edwards--the numbers don't lie

1. Sen. Barak Obama--this is a tough category to judge, because he doesn't have the track record yet to show he can go the long haul; that said, no candidate has ever gone from such complete obscurity to superstar status in just three years like Obama
2. Mayor Rudy Guiliani--brings to every room an ENORMOUS wellspring of credibility and gravitas, which distinguishes him from just about everybody else
3. Sen. Hillary Clinton--like her or hate her, she is a juggernaut who can probably count on the media to cover for a lot of mistakes
4. Sen. John Edwards--his time in front of a jury does give him an easy way with a crowd that is hard to deny
5. Gov. Mitt Romney--I know there are those that would disagree with this ranking, but I've never seen him live, so it's hard to place him. What is obvious is that he has the lion's share of the intellect in most rooms--whether that translaes into good politics or not remains to be seen
6. Sen. John McCain--I've seen him live, and he did nothing for me; any body who spends as much time as he does with Chris Mathews, and repeatedly talks himself into corners which only goofy solutions like the Gang of 14 can solve, is not going to impress in a room with these others

It's hard to say what weighs more of the four categories--for a huge part of the electorate, clearly not the first, because we know that whoever gets the Dem nomination will get 48% of the vote, regardless of a nothing resume. But, to my way of thinking, the race shapes up like this at this point:

1. Mayor Rudy Guiliani
2. Gov. Mitt Romney
3. Sen. John McCain
4. Sen. Hillary Clinton
5. Sen. Barak Obama
6. Sen. John Edwards

I am still thinking someone else, who nobody has really thought of, will jump into this race well down the road and shake it up. All of these candidates have their weaknesses, so the field is still really wide open.

Which is good . . . since we're all going to get so sick of this in about nine months that a little drama will be welcome.



Why I Am A Republican, part X

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have attempted to explain the genesis and evolution of my political philosophy. If you recall (if there's anybody still awake out there), it started early, but changed with the birth of my first child. Last night, I concluded with my children, as well--something about "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

And that, at its core, is why I am a Republican--because of my children.

As you have no doubt surmised from my writings, there is a substantial chance that, even without children, I would be a Republican. However, with children in the mix, that pushes any margin for doubt away, and puts me solidly in the GOP camp.

Why, you might ask, wasn't I a Republican before the 2000 election? Fair point. Because 2000 made a few things abundantly clear: one, that the Democrats' pursuit of power, at the expense of the military, made them untrustworthy with power; two, that in a time of peace and prosperity (presumed) the Democrats still wanted more of my money; and three, in a fact that we did not know until a year later, the Democrats had been unwilling to do what it took to secure the country.

And that is, in the end, the whole ballgame.

On every count that the Constitution labels as the province of the government, as I have demonstrated over the past week or so, the Republican Party is better suited, based on its core principles, to serve the American people. A more perfect Union was fought for and died for by the first Republican, that Union was improved in the 60s by a Republican Congress, and a Republican restored the faith of the people in its country after humiliation and recession in the 80s. Justice and domestic Tranquility is far better served by people who believe in the rule of law and who believe in a equal opportunity--not equivalent results. The common Defense is best provided for by those who believe that rhetoric must have force behind it to mean anything, who do not outsource our national defense to corrupt international organizations that hate us, and who recognize that we have real enemies who will not negotiate and who would like nothing better than to see our women and children die slow, painful, horrible deaths. And all of these do far more to secure the Blessings of Liberty than any social progam or sympathetic expression of "feeling pain" ever will.

All the rest is icing.

Education? Important, but not the province of the federal government. And I have personal experience with the screw-ups that happen when the Feds try to do education, and as much as I support the concept of No Child Left Behind, the net result has not particularly enhanced the American education system, and that's STILL better than every attempt before, which left us the beautiful mess of Title IX and a billion unfunded mandates.

Social Security Reform? Necessary, but not central to the function of government. Unfortunately, we're kinda stuck with it at this point, so would somebody--PUHLEEZE--fix the damn thing.

Oh, by the way, which party is talking about a REAL fix? That's right--the Republicans.

Health Care? Not the province of the federal government. And, by the way, does anybody actually think there's any chance at all that the federal government has any chance of doing this right? I don't--and that's okay with me. IT'S NOT THE GOVERNMENT'S JOB.

Global Warming? First, color me skeptical--I have just enough of a science background to know that a. things in the natural world tend to happen in cycles, and b. we know next to nothing about all of the cycles that play out in our world. Second, talk to me about this when your "models" or "scenarios" don't include 70% margins of error or out-and-out guesswork about some of the causalities built in to the model. For that matter, talk to me about 100 years from now when somebody can accurately predict the weather a week from now. Is global warming real? I suppose so--some (though certainly not all) of the numbers support that idea. Is it caused by man? Probably not--again, cycles. But in what sense is it the American government's job to Save the Planet? I suspect that the Planet has many, many tricks up its sleeve to save itself, and will get along fine without our help, thank you very much. Talk about your arrogant usurpation of responsibility, at the expense of the prosperity of the nation.

Here's my hypothesis: when elections are about the real issues the Federal Government is charged with, Republicans win; when elections are about the icing, Democrats win. Why did GWBush win in 2000? Because, at it's core, the argument for tax reduction is an argument for smaller government. Why did GWBush win in 2004? Because the election was about the national security. Why did the Republicans lose in 2006? Because they failed to make the case for their prosperity, and the issues were corruption in a bloated government and incompetence in managing the national security--specifically, the War in Iraq.

At the same time, you can never underestimate the power of incompetent campaigning . . . in all three of the above cases.

Nonetheless . . .

Democrats believe in their imagination, and in a utopian world that does not reflect reality and has repeatedly been shown to be unattainable (see "Soviet Union"), and that they can make the world conform to their vision if only they believe it fervently enough and say it loud enough.

I am a Republican because the Republicans (often) are true to the intentions of the Founding Fathers and have, at their core, a set of beliefs that have a real chance of succeeding in the real world.

Specifically, that every person in the United States can attain their dream if they are willing to work hard enough for it within the law and if the government keeps out of their way, except to protect them from enemies foreign and domestic. I say this often, and I think it reflects that reality: don't tell me what you want--tell me what you are willing to do to get what you want.

That is the message I try to drum into my children and my students, and that is the America that I believe in and that I believe will provide my children the best opportunity to realize their hopes and dreams.

And that's the whole ballgame.


Why I Am A Republican, part IX

" . . . secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

This is the portion of the clause that, at first glance, seems hardest to define. After all, what we take for granted in this day and age as a "blessing of Liberty" would have left the Founding Fathers aghast at what we presume to be the responsibility of the government.

In the time of the Founding Fathers, essential blessings of Liberty would have included, but not be limited to, Freedom of Speech, Freedom OF Religion, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of the Press . . . .

Oh, wait. That's right--they actually wrote down what they considered to be the essential freedoms that government is charged with protecting. It's called the Bill of Rights.

Though, let's all remember, the Bill of Rights came AFTER the Constitution, and was an essential part of the compromise that led to the ratification of the Constitution. And, let's also remember, another essential compromise that led to the ratification of the Constitution was language which continued the slave trade in the U.S. So they weren't perfect.

But those blessings were, essentially, limits on what the government could do TO people. In this day and age, we seem to have a mistaken idea that the blessings are all involved in what the government can do FOR people. And this is wrong.

If you read James Madison's notes from the Constitutional Convention, you would come away with--or, at least, I came away with--the idea that the primary concern of the C.C. was that the government not be intrusive, that power was never vested in an isolated segment of society, and that most of the acts of government be subject to checks at the local level. In other words, they were terrified that a federal government, once established, would become a burden on society in the way that the king had become one in the decades before.

I think most of them would find the bureaucracy entrenched in Washington right now offensive. I think the idea that the largest budget items are entitlements would have them laughing, and crying. I think the role that the Courts have arrogated to themselves would stun and amaze them.

But that is what "the blessings of Liberty" have come to mean. Or maybe they're assumed under "promote the general welfare." It doesn't really matter.

What it means is that we have a really muddled idea of what the "blessings of Liberty" really are.

So, I'll take the easy route, and skip that for now.

What gives me the most guidance on this clause is the last word: posterity. To my mind, what the Founders wanted was an America that would be the free for themselves, for their kids, and for their kid's kids. This clause is all about the future and about the America we want to leave our children.

And that is what matters most in my formulation of why I am a Republican.

To secure that Blessings of Liberty for my children, I need to be clear in my own head on what role the government plays in my life. And more importantly, how maleable is that role. For my part, I don't have a great deal of difficulty deciding what that is.

But that is anethema to the liberal mind. The very idea of a fixed point of reference is at odds with everything they believe in. If an idea or law doesn't feed YOUR needs and whims, the liberal "progressive" says that the law is wrong, not that the need is wrong. Thus we get judges who don't like that the Takings Clause doesn't really help feed the government beast, so they decide that the Takings Clause doesn't mean what it says and we get Kelo; or a legislator doesn't like how much money is influencing politics, regardless of "make no law abridging Free Speech," so we get BCRA, and then we get a Court affirming it. But you get the idea.

The Blessings of Liberty cannot be secured so long as what those blessings are is constantly subject to the changing whims of legislators and Courts. And while it is possible to be too slow in positively addressing the changing norms of society (see Dred Scott), I think my posterity is far better secured by a strong reliance on the text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, rather than the ever-changing whims of the liberal mind.

Of course, that places an awful lot of the burden for securing Liberty onto the Courts; that is not how I imagined the Founders pictured it, but that is part of how our system has "evolved," starting at Madison v. Marbury. Be that as it may, I think the best thing that can be done to secure Liberty then, is to ensure that Judges interpret the Constitution and the Law, not feel the right to create it.

And, of course, that is the province of the Republican Party.

Never mind that an America ruled exclusively by Democrats would abbrogate much of its sovereignty to the United Nations, and would be unlikely to protect my "posterity" from violence in the way it should. And ignoring that those most likely to disturb the "domestic tranquility" are from in their camp (see "Chicago Convention, 1968" and "OJ Simpson verdict riots" (see also "Timothy McVeigh", just for balance)).

The central question is whether there is a core of values that guide our understanding of Liberty, so that we may act in a way that preserves that for our children. The Republican Party has a core--whether you like it or not, whether they live up to it or not--, and the Democratic Party tends to have emotion and whim, subject to change at moment's notice.

And so I am a Republican.



Why I Am A Republican, supplemental

The Democratic-controlled House issued a symbolic rejection of President Bush's decision to deploy more troops to Iraq on Friday, opening an epic confrontation between Congress and commander in chief over an unpopular war that has taken the lives of more than 3,100 U.S. troops.

The vote on the nonbinding measure was 246-182. . . .

Supporters of the nonbinding resolution included 229 Democrats and 17 Republicans

AND . . .

House Democrats today outlined their plan to restrict President Bush's use of war funding, with the goal of gradually ending the war in Iraq. . . .

Mr. Murtha detailed, during a 24-minute interview, his plan to use the appropriations process to hamstring the president's use of war funds. Mr. Murtha's plan is supported by House Democratic leaders, and is thought to be the less politically risky alternative.

In other words, "we have no strategy, but we don't like yours, but we don't want to be seen as {what we are} unsupportive of the troops, so we will take a cowardly back-door way to force our defeat."

A. Murtha is not just wrong about the war, but he's a political coward--with his Democratic allies--for not taking this head-on. He has a Democratic majority now: why not just vote to cut off funding immediately? Declare defeat and come home now if that's what you want to do.

B. Imagine Pat Bowlen telling Mike Shanahan that he likes his players too much to let them continue to try to win football games--too many of them are getting hurt and it's too difficult. Now imagine him telling Shanahan this in the fourth quarter of a big game in December with the playoffs on the line. And the outcome of the game is still in doubt.

That is what "supporting the troops" while "rejecting the mission" is.

Now, what really rankles is why NOBODY in the media has bothered to ask any of these Democrats how they can support the troops while hoping for their defeat--in a mission which the troops who have been a part of it overwhelmingly support.

That's what rankles. It doesn't surprise me. But it ticks me off.



Why I Am A Republican, part VIII

" . . . to promote the General Welfare, . . ."

If there is another word that has suffered in its meaning so much since the liberals took over acedamia, I welcome you to propose it.

As it stands, "welfare" no longer means means what Webster says it means: "the state of doing well esp. in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity." Rather, "welfare" has come to be shorthand for the acts of the government which prop up those who--for whatever reason--are unable to stand on their own two feet.

"Welfare," as it now stands, has come to mean that process whereby the government confiscates the wealth of one portion of society and redistributes it into the hands of another portion of society for the purpose of giving the second portion a chance to re-establish themselves within the norms of general society.

As that second meaning has come to be, I see absolutely no way to reconcile what it has become with what it was intended. The "general welfare" is ill-served by a policy of taking from the one to give to the other--the state has no right to act as Robin Hood. And there is, of course, nothing in the Constitution which enables such an act.

But, more importantly, the general welfare is best promoted by guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of all the citizenry; it is best promoted by protecting the citizens from the encroachments of those acting outside of the law; it is best promoted by allowing all the citizens an equal access to--NOT SHARE OF--the wealth and blessings of this country; it is best promoted by establishing Justice and ensuring domestic tranquility.

In short, the government exists to guarantee that the playing field is level for all of its citizens, and that the citizenry has every fair opportunity to pursue their own welfare--"promote" the general welfare, not "guarantee" the welfare of all.

To believe that the government exists, in part, to take the lowly and prop them up, is to believe that a person working 40+ hours a week for a salary to pay a mortgage and keep their children clothed and fed should have to "donate" a sizeable chunk of their salary to a 19-year old mother of three children (by three different fathers) who goes to the bar on Friday night to drink too much and sleep with another man.

Is this the case for all welfare cases? Of course not. There are certainly cases in which welfare does give a victim of circumstance enough of a crutch to learn to walk again on their own. And that is a good thing--but it hardly justifies the other case, in which an undeserving person who has no capacity to make good decisions becomes a perpetual burden on society.

Did welfare reform work? Clearly. The reforms pushed through by a Republican Congress and signed by Pres. Bill Clinton has reduced the number of people living on the government dole, without any corresponding "human tragedies" that were predicted, like increased homelessness and deaths on the street because children couldn't eat. In short, taking away the umbilical cord successfully forced people to eat and breathe on their own.

Is there a compelling societal interest in giving the destitute a hand out? Perhaps. Those who have help are less likely--perhaps--to commit crimes against the innocent, or to turn to prostitution, drugs or violence to stay alive, and that is all positive. Perhaps.

But, at the same time, sending the message to any segment of society that it does not need to contribute to its own survival sends the message to all of society that the playing field is not level. And that does not promote the general welfare.

If there is one idea around which both meanings of "welfare" could be brought together, it may be in the idea of persistent poverty--the sort of poverty that passes from one generation to another in a family, with no sign or expectation that it will ever change. This is an unhealthy development for society: it creates the sort of permanent underclass from which the greatest violence and discontent has always flowed. Government efforts to break this persistent poverty would be in the interest of the society in general, and is the sort of effort I could support.

The problem with persistent poverty in this day and age is that it is as much a cultural phenomenon as it is an economic one. And we, as a society, have a difficult time addressing cultural phenomena. For instance, if (and we know it does) single parenthood leads to poverty, and if (and we know they are) children of unwed mothers are more likely to become unwed mothers themselves, then you would think it would be in the interest of that segment of society in which such conditions are prevalent to address the problem and try to make it better. But, because that segment of society also happens to be ethnically oriented, people who address that issue directly are immediately decried as "racist", and their ideas are dismissed without any discussion of the merits. Even a person sharing that ethnicity is accused of racism, called an "oreo", and dismissed.

But, again, that is only a small part of "promoting the general welfare."

In total, the general wlfare involves a great deal more than just the 10% impoverished--it means all 100%. And for that, I echo my previous post, that the general welfare is much like domestic tranquility in that it is best promoted by justice, security, and equal opportunity. And, as I have expounded upon before, all of these purposes are best served by Republicans, so it must follow that the general welfare is best served by Republicans.



Why I Am A Republican, part VII

"to provide for the Common Defense . . ."

I wish this were a more difficult point to make. There was a time when both parties were equally committed to American security, to defending the principles upon which this country was founded, and to extending Liberty around the world. Sadly, that idea seems to have become isolated now in one party--actually, in one wing of one party.

Defending America in this day and age requires both a thorough understanding of the nature of those who would harm America, and of the means by which they might accomplish such harm.

At this point in history, those who would harm America fall into two basic (and, admittedly, over-simplified) groups: state players who would dismantle America's influence so as to extend theirs, and non-state actors who would destroy us to end our "corruption," thereby enabling their own ambitions for world domination. The first group is a diverse and complex conglomeration of countries who do not act in concert, but, instead, have as their motivation the forced retreat of America. Include among them the French, who have a sort of Racial Jealousy going against the very peoples who have bailed them out of two world wars but who refuse to succumb to their "enlightened" world view; the Chinese, whose needs in the world economy grow every day, but their own borders make their access to resources cripplingly limited; the Islamic states, who, first and foremost, want to eradicate Israel, but who can take no action in that regard while America stands watch; the North Koreans, whose own state system can only survive if they're allowed to pillage the rest of the Korean Peninsula and beyond; and perhaps Russia, whose former KGB leader hopes once again for a Russian state that sits astride Europe and Asia in dominance.

The second group is led by, though by no means is limited to, al-Qaeda and affiliated Islamicist groups who aspire to recreate the ancient Caliphate across Europe and Asia. With them are the many offshoots that find harbor around the world and wreak their own havoc in whatever little ways they can. Include among them al-Qaeda in Iraq, of course, Ansar al Islam, the Islamic Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, along with Hamas and Hezbollah.

America has managed to amass an impressive list of enemies. But, and let me state this very clearly, NONE of those enemies could in any way have been turned to friends. Whether it be countries whose jealousies make it impossible for them to share in our successes, or countries who would vie for dominion over a region of the world, held in check only by American power, or the Islamicist movement which aims only to extend an ancient ideal across lands which do not belong to them and whose current occupants enjoy freedoms despised by the Islamists, there is no amount of American diplomacy or "engagement" which could have turned them.

As evidence, let us take the most complex country on the list: France. This is a country that has no ambition for conquest, has no illusions about its influence in the world, and which has, not all that long ago, been one of America's strongest military allies. Yet, when America played the game of going before the United Nations to make a case for an International act to depose Saddam Hussein, in a way that would have involved absolutely no threat to France's sovereignty, France's Foreign Minister betrayed our Secretary of State, drew him away from the U.N. building, and then hastily arranged for a surprise vote that turned against the United States. Such an act undermined U.S. interests and embarrased both our SecState and our President, for no tangible benefit to the state of France. It is difficult to imagine the calculus involved in such an act, except to preserve a corrupt kickback scheme and embarrass the U.S.

Such is not the act of a friend; and, though no shots were fired, it was just much an act of sabotage as your run-of-the-mill I.E.D.

The more complex players have ravenous self-interest at heart, and not even blatant bribery works to curtail their activity (see "Clinton/Carter Deal With North Korea").

When this President called out the North Koreans for breaking their treaty obligations, he was roundly criticized by one side of the legislative chambers. His crime? an "unsophisticated" act of undiplomatic speech which would only "antagonize" the NoKos. When he called Vladimir Putin a man of honor . . .

Bad example--the President was COMPLETELY wrong about this one, and has paid a price in humiliation as the Russians have acted in concert with the French to undermine American interests.

The point is, one side of the political divide seems willing to acknowledge the bad players on the world scene, and deal with them accordingly, the other side wants to "understand" them, "engage" with them, and, ultimately, acquiesce to them. And while I am willing to acknowledge that perhaps American diplomacy has not been completely successful in every regard, I also would posit that diplomacy is only effective when it is backed up by the credible threat of consequences. I would also put out there that diplomacy that contributes to and furthers the delusions of the diplomatic world is dangerous and foolish. I would rather be clumsy than deluded; the Republicans fit better in the first category, the Democrats the latter.

But it is how one deals with the threats posed that makes all the difference.

In the 80's the threat was the Soviet Union: a similarly clumsy and "unsophisticated" President called out the Soviets, was criticized all across America for doing so, but was proven correct through his steadfastness and vision. In 1979 a foreign country invaded sovereign U.S. territory; a Democratic President failed to take appropriate action, and the forces that led that attack were emboldened. In 1983 a non-state player perpetrated a cowardly asymmetrical attack on U.S. personnel in Lebanon; a Republican President failed to avenge the act, and the forces that plotted that attack were emboldened. In the 90s those same forces attacked U.S. interests on five separate occasions; a Democratic President took almost no action in response, and those forces were, again, emboldened. While that same President was still in office the planning phase of a horrible attack was launched. That attack arrived on September 11th.

After September 11th, this Republican President took action both rhetorical and military. For it, he was widely criticized by Democrats for his "lack of sophistication." Ted Kennedy warned that 10s of thousands of Americans would die in the Afghan winter. This President then pushed his action into another country, one which every intelligence service on earth said was a bad player. He was again criticized, but this new war led to another bad player giving up their weapons (Libya), and Democratic warnings of a "massacre" failed to materialize.

This President also took action to disrupt both the informational and financial supply lines that the enemy uses to plot and stage their attacks on America. For these acts, he has, again, been widely criticized by Democrats. He has also acted to prevent enemies from returning to the battlefields; for this, he has been similarly criticized by Democrats (mostly).

And in the five years since 9/11, not a single successful attack has been committed against the American homeland--a circumstance which NOBODY predicted post 9/11, and which absolutely justifies the President's offensive strategy to fighting the war.

And which absolutely refutes the Democrat's reliance on talk and reflexive mistrust of the projection of power.

Have mistakes been made in Iraq. Yes. Is it a mess? Yes.

Is retreat an option? NO!! We have seen the comparative results of an offensive vs. a defensive strategy, and, frankly, I like the results of the offensive strategy better.

If the purpose of the "common defense" is, well, protecting the American people, I'll take the Republican record on this one. The Democratic ideals have repeatedly been revealed as naive and dangerous; and while the Republican record is far from unblemished, I prefer that our battles be fought with an eye towards winning, towards staying on offense and keeping the enemy away from our homeland, and with an understanding that leaving the enemy alone will not make them return to their fields--it will bring them back to our shores.



Why I Am A Republican, part VI

"Establishing Justice" requires two things: Freedom, and the Rule of Law.

Ever see that bumper sticker: "There Can Be No Peace Without Justice." What a load of crap. Of course, there can be no peace without justice, but there can be absolutely no justice without freedom. As Mel Gibson once asked on film, "What would you do without your freedom?" Justice implies fairness, impartiality of process and a balancing of the individual with the society--no such implication is possible in situations in which political power is anywhere other than with the people. Only when people are free to choose their leaders as they will is there any hope for justice.

Doubt it? Try a thought experiment: If power is vested in an individual, or in a committee, how will they use that power--what is the primary purpose of their existence? The law of bureaucracies tells us that the primary purpose of such a person/body is to perpetuate itself. So, given the choice between the good of the individual, the good of the state, or the good of the powerful, how will that body act? Of course, in its own interests, regardless of whether it is right or not--fair or not, just or not. Further, if that power appoints others to arbitrate justice in its place, how will they act? As we've seen all over the world, such appointees act to preserve the Powerful, because it both protects their positions and because it prevents them from being arbitrarily executed, and replaced with those who will act in the interest of the Power.

Only when the real power lies with the people freely choosing the Power will those in a position of arbitration act according to fairness and justice. And, certainly, there come times when those freely chosen act unjustly and unfairly--and in Free societies, they get replaced by the people freely choosing better representation.

So once the people choose their leadership, how do they ensure Justice? By establishing a set of rules by which every person must abide to be a part of that Free society. Mostly, this is done by the elected representatives, but in any case, such rules are subject to the review and approval of the people (disapproval equals electoral defeat). These rules, when they are best, are usually fairly simple, straightforward, and obvious; likewise, not terribly subject to "interpretation."

Once these rules become established, THEY THEMSELVES BECOME THE BASIS FOR DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY. Domestic tranquility, we have learned from our own history, is most likely to be disturbed when some members of society live outside the rules--whether by usurping too much power or by being forced outside the rules and not enjoying the same freedoms as everybody else. And, as we have also learned from our own history, often the source of the problem is the people acting in power to subject a segment of the society . . .

Which is why Rule of Law must be an integral part of the arrangement.

If it seems like I'm making a circular argument, it's only because I am. Freedom to choose/elect leads to Rule of Law which leads to Justice which ensures Domestic Tranquility which increases Freedom which strengthens Rule of Law . . . The above are not severable from each other.

Which leads to why this, too, is the strong suit of Republicans. Which party, at its core, is stronger on the Rule of Law? Republicans--we tend to believe in actions and consequences and enforcement of consequences; Democrats tend to believe in interpretations and nuances and severing action from consequence (see "abortion"). Which party is better at Freedom? Republicans--not only do we tend to want to reduce regulation and let free markets act freely and let people act freely (so long as they don't infringe on others' freedom), but we're willing to extend freedom to others in the world. There was a time when Democrats were willing to stand for Freedom, and fight two wars in southeast Asia to preserve freedom; those days are past. Which party is better at Justice? Following the logic, Republicans. Often that Justice is unpleasant, but it is the consequence of choices that leads to it; and only Republicans believe the Law says what the Law says--Democrats want nuances and divining intent and the interpretations of "emanations from the penumbrae".

And the Establishment of Justice, the imposition of the Rule of Law, leads to Domestic Tranquility.

Tomorrow: provide for the Common Defense.



Why I Am A Republican, part V

Over the past week, I have attempted to explain why I am the political creature that I am. I have tried to track my genesis from a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool Moderate Independent into the partisan Republican that I now am. However, I noticed in the process that most of my reasons were actually why I WASN'T a Democrat. So tonight, I will begin to take a more affirmative approach to my belief system.

And it all begins with the Myers-Briggs Personality Test.

Ever taken it? It's one of about a million little "personality tests" out there that asks a series of questions (for example: rank the following--tree, leaf, forest, root) and extrapolates from your answers many things about your personality. The Myers-Briggs is one of the better ones out there, used by businesses and leadership academies to assess a person's strengths and potential weaknesses.

And, no, it wasn't in "Cosmo"

I had to take the test as part of a class I was taking about four years ago. And, to be honest, I don't remember much about it--I think I am an "INTJ", though I can't tell you exactly what each initial stands for.

But the one takeaway I got from this assessment was one that struck pretty close to home, and also goes to explaining why I am a Republican. There was a line in the explanation of this personality type that went something like this: "an INTJ will ruthlessly apply to every decision the question 'does it work?'"

And that does fit me, it seems to me. And that is why I am a Republican--because Republican ideals work.

What is THE core Republican ideal--the one from which the name of the party derives? That the governed are far better suited to make more decisions in their lives than the government. Therefore, government should be limited in size, limited in scope of jurisdiction, and have clearly and easily defined limits on what it can and can not be responsible for. And what, exactly, is the government responsible for?

" . . . .to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity"

The greatest President ever understood better than any President before or since the deep meaning of "a more perfect union." On this day in which we remember Abraham Lincoln's birthday, let us remember that he believed so strongly in a more perfect union that he was willing to split the Union in two to be able to remake it more perfectly. Let us remember that he knew that a union divided against itself, between owners and slaves, COULD not stand. Let us also remember that he believed so strongly in the correctness of his beliefs that he came to Washington for his inauguration through threats to his life, stayed in his job through the death of a child, the madness of his beloved wife, and his own deep, deep depression, fully expected to lose re-election (in fact, wrote his concession speech just three weeks prior to the election), and eventually was repaid for his troubles with an assassin's bullet.

In more recent history, we see that the ideal of a more perfect union was enacted by the REPUBLICANS in the Congress, who forced the Civil Rights Act through over the filibuster of the southern Democrats, and the obstruction of a southern Democratic governor to extend that vision to everyone. And then, more recently, it has been only Republicans tying to prevent the pendulum from swinging too far from where they were in the 60s, and trying to limit or end race-based decision-making like Affirmative Action. In the America of James Madison and Abe Lincoln, a person gets what they deserved based on their merits; only the Republicans stand for that right now.

I know there are those out there that say that discrimination is still a problem. And, to a degree, I do not disagree with that. But if discrimination against non-whites is a problem, why are Asians not considered a protected class any more? Their history is tragic as any minority: brought as slaves to build the railroads, subjected to horrible discrimination, and even systematically rounded up and incarcerated just 60 years ago based strictly on their ethnicity. So why are Affirmative Action programs not extended to them? Why are test scores not disaggregated to show the "achievement gap" between whites and Asians?

Simple: the Asians have been successful. The only "achievement gap" that pertains to Asians is the one in which they dance circles around every ethnicity in educational tests. They don't demand special breaks because they don't need them: they simply earn what they want, and don't make excuses.

Is there still discrimination? Almost certainly. Does Affirmative Action do anything to solve it? Almost certainly not--in fact, I think it AA may contribute to divisions between the races.

I think Lincoln would find it unconscienable that we have decided to give special considerations to people based strictly on their skin tone and their lack of success. Is America better as a "melting pot," in which all become a part of the fabric of the nation working together, or is America better as a salad, in which all remain separate and act accordingly?

Which model makes a "more perfect union"? Which Party stands for that model?

But just as importantly, do you actually believe that a larger federal government, with increased regulation and confiscatory policies would contribute to that union? Or do you believe that a more perfect union is the responsibility of individual citizens doing their share to improve their lots in life, and by raising the standard for everyone around them?

That gets to the Republican ideal: a larger government tends to drive home the imperfections of the union, to highlight them, to make them worse, and to create bureaucracies to address them without ever making them better. And ask yourself, (this most recent Congress notwithstanding) which party's ideals WORK to achieve a better union?

Clearly, my answer is the Republican Party.

Tomorrow: establishing Justice and Ensuring Domestic Tranquility. Here's a surpise: they are the same thing!



Why I Am A Republican, part IV

And now . . . The 2000 Florida Recount fiasco.

As I indicated once before, I started paying attention to the recount in the first hours of it--that is, at about 2 in the morning on election night, right about the time when Al Gore retracted his concession.

At first, I could sort of see the point of Gore not conceding--it was very close, the margin of error was almost absurdly small, and the possibility that absentee ballots would change the outcome was very real.

But within a few days it became apparent that the real arguments had nothing to do with how the ballots actually played out, and everything to do with the Democrats wresting the power away from the voters. I think the first sign that mischief was afoot was the presence of Jesse Jackson on the ground the next day, with busloads of lawyers. It certainly smelled like there was a plan already in place to contest the results, regardless of what the ballots showed. Jackson, of course, fell back on the most predictable racist hyperbole--cops were driving through black neighborhoods, and such.

And then the real absurdities began--as if Jesse Jackson weren't absurd enough. When the Democrats started claiming that the problem was that the ballots were too complicated to understand for the elderly, they lost me completely. Never mind that that very same ballot is the one I had been voting with in every election of my life, with nary a moment of confusion; never mind that the unfortunate elderly had been using that very same ballot for years, without anybody ever raising a stink; but to label ALL elderly as too stupid to figure out a ballot--no, wait, that's not right; to label all elderly DEMOCRATS as too stupid to figure out the ballot struck me as the total depth of ridiculousness. When the lawyers started arguing that a "dimpled chad"--a ballot whose punch hole seems to be marked, but failed to dislodge from the ballot--should be counted as a vote took the silliness to a whole different level. In fact, I remember one night NBC News' Brian Williams attempted, on-air, to create a dimpled chad, and failed on six attempts. Nonetheless, the Democrats stuck to the party line that either their voters were too dumb to pick the right hole or too weak to create the right hole.

Just for the purposes of shortening this post, I'll skip over how the Democrats called an elected official of Florida, and a woman, of being a Soviet-style "Commisar;" and I'll skip over the silly Democratic "outrage" over the highly intimidating khaki-clad young republicans asserting their right to oversee elements of the recount which the Democrats wanted done in secret; I'll even skip over the Florida Supreme Court taking a case before it had been appealed, needing to overturn four prior courts' decisions to make their rulings, then ignoring an order by the U.S. Supreme Court, and then finding for the Gore campaign in a split decision that one of the dissenting Justices predicted would "forever mark the reputation of this Court." Because what really pushed me over the edge was another dirty trick.

Imagine my surprise.

At one point during the fiasco, two Democratic operatives sent out a memo to all of their campaign workers around the state of Florida with instructions on how to recognized elements of a military absentee ballot that would make it disqualifyable. In other words, the Democrat's next move was to try to silence the voice of the men and women tasked with defending this country, and doing so away from their home--in many cases, thousands of miles away from home. About three days after news of this memo leaked, the Democrats trotted out a ridiculous justification about "we think every vote should count"--never apologizing, never saying "of course this was wrong, we should make every effort to guarantee that our soldier's votes count," never retracting. And it took them THREE DAYS to figure out that it was a mistake and issue any kind of statement!

Two things about this bothered me . . . well, okay, the list of things that bother me about this is endless, but two things really stand out. One, my brother was one of those absentee ballots that the Democrats tried to disqualify (I think--I can never keep straight where and when he has been). And two, after eight years of a Democratic Commander-in-Chief who had a history of speaking disparagingly about the U.S. military, the Democrats actually took steps to lower the democratic value of the U.S. military.

Please, somebody tell me how that first meeting of a President Gore with the Joint Chiefs of Staff was supposed to play out after this.

But, more importantly, it showed that the Democrats were willing to use ANYTHING--even the men and women in uniform--as pawns in their quest to obtain power. There may be a reason that the military absentee ballots broke better than 2 to 1 in favor of the Republican candidate.

At that point, I vowed to NEVER again vote for a Democrat--on any level--until a prominent Democrat disavowed that act and apologized for it. To date, now six years later, none has.

Which explains why I will never be a Democrat; tomorrow, I'll get more into why I AM a Republican. Here's a hint: it comes down to one simple question.



Why I Am A Republican, part III [addended]

It took quite a while for me to start paying attention to the 2000 election. I knew, of course, that Al Gore would be the Dem nominee--the prince-in-waiting, the "best prepared candidate ever." But the Republicans were pretty hard to figure, and I wasn't paying attention to the primaries. Of course, by early summer it was obvious that it would George W. Bush, and the choice was there.

In the end, after listening to everything the two men said, and paying strangely close attention to the debates, I arrive at the decision to support George W. Bush. My decision was largely based on two things:

:tax policy--Gore seemed to believe that the money the government collected was their right, and the disposition thereof was best left to the "experts" in the government; Bush, on the other hand, worked from the assumption that the money belonged to the people, and the the government had a duty to use it responsibly, and return to the people what it didn't need.

:"the working poor"--I got so sick of hearing this phrase from Gore that it made me ill; I have been working my whole life--in middle school I worked to qualify to get into advanced classes; in high school I worked to get grades to get a scholarship and get accepted to a good school while I was working a part-time job to save money while I was working to be a better trumpet player so I could pursue my ultimate goals; in college I worked to pay for college while working to get good grades to get other scholarships while working to build a resume that might get me a decent shot at a good job; ever since I've been working, often picking up jobs during the summer to afford a better life and a future for my family. But, somehow, in the liberal world, the only people who count as "working" are those who work with their hands and their backs, and that mostly only applies to people who never rose to management or who lived at or below poverty; and there is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with that--just don't imply that because I started doing the hard work when I was 12 that I no longer work. So, yeah, the assumptions behind Gore's populist platform turned me off--"targeted tax cuts" that only Robin Hood could hit don't do much for me.

And then I started watching the campaign. Whew, what a mess.

I had a pretty good idea a couple weeks out that it would be close, but I thought W had a pretty good hold on the election. And then the Dems dropped the dirty trick--seriously, in what world does a 25-year old incident constitute a pivotal consideration? But it did.

And my anger at the liberal machine began to grow.

I watched the coverage on election night VERY closely--close enough that I knew that the very early call of Florida for Gore had to be a crock. Honestly, at the time they made the call, it was something like 7% of precincts reporting and Bush out in front 52-47. And my anger at the liberal machine grew still more.

Eventually, of course, the networks reversed themselves; this was at about 1130 pm local time. But I sensed it wasn't over, so I fell asleep on the couch watching the coverage. I guess it was about 2 in the morning when Gore reversed himself on his concession, and the games began.

And my anger at the liberal machine grew . . .

And THEN there was the Florida recount . . .


[ADDENDUM] It occurs to me that I forgot two fairly significant considerations in my choice to support George W. Bush in 2000: Israel and the U.S.S. Cole.

I watched with horror, as I think did most Americans, as the summer intifada played out in Israel in 2000. To me, the idea that Bill Clinton had basically strong-armed the Israelis into offering Yasser Arafat almost everything he asked for, only to be repaid by submachine guns at wedding parties and bombs in pizzarias, laid lie to everything the liberals held dear. "Talk, not guns; negotiation not confrontation . . . " blah blah blah. NO foreign leader occupied as much of Bill Clinton's time as Yasser Arafat, and as soon as he finally gets what he wants he initiates one of the bloodiest summers in recent memories. And, of course, that folly isn't enough for the liberals; no, no, no, they had to add to the problem by blaming the Israelis for their own dead. While a lot of the world began to understand that Arafat's refusal to accept "yes" for an answer defined the problem as existential for Israel, the Left and the Clinton/Gore administration blithely continued to preach at the Israelis and demur towards the most anti-Semitic body in the western world: the U.N. It was embarrasing.

Add to that the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in the Fall of 2000, and the picture began to develop pretty clearly of what happens when the U.S. abdicates its authority in the world to the feckless and impotent United Nations: a place more dangerous for Americans than in our worst "war-mongering" years. My brother is a pilot for the U.S. Navy, and 17 of his brothers-in-arms went down on that day. That struck a little closer to home than I care to think about, and I'm quite convinced that, though Clinton was in no way to blame directly, the idea of approaching terrorism as a law enforcement problem and only with the approval of our "allies" contributed to that day.

As I mentioned once before, the basic liberal tripe and cliche about the world failed both the Israelis and our own sailors in the buildup to the 2000 election. So, as Al Gore campaigned on a platform of "peace and prosperity," I could only laugh at the cluelessness.

And, of course, support the oher guy.



When Even The Post Notices . . .

there must be a bit of a problem.

Gov. Bill Ritter may have been surprised by the speed with which a controversial bill to change state labor law hit his desk. But he certainly knew it was coming - his campaign promises helped set it in motion. . . .

It's a pledge that apparently was well-known in labor circles but nowhere else, sparking the fury that has dominated the Democrat's first month in office and set up one of his first official acts as a high-profile test of loyalty.

This article is rich in foolishness. Somehow, the Post managed to recognize that Ritter, ironically, managed to garner the support of some in the business community over Bob Beauprez, the pledge notwithstanding.

"Business never asked me about it," Ritter said in a recent interview. . . .

"We never asked him about the issue because we had no reason to believe they were going to strike through a 60-year-old provision of the Labor Peace Act that no one had ever mentioned to us was a problem," said Bill Ray, spokesman for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

So tell me, o wise and all-seeing Denver Post, didn't YOU think to ask about labor-related issues when you were doing the research that led to your endorsement of Ritter? Oh, of course not.

But that's not even the funniest part of this article. Later on there's this nugget:

On Monday, the beginning of the fifth week of the session, the Senate sent the proposal to Ritter. Details on exactly how the bill came to be one of the first agenda items of the session vary, depending on whom you talk to.

So, does the Post bother to pursue the speculation put forward last week by Republican Colorado House Caucus? You know, the part where this labor bill is sent through the legislature in record fashion to appease the labor interests that are holding up the Democratic National Convention?

Of course not. That might be responsible journalism.

You Fill In the Issue

From 9News, regarding today's hearings at the state house about a bill before the Senate.

"We understand ******* is something you choose to do, but I want to take away that choice," Leitz said. "I don't think we should give people an opportunity to make a choice that we know is wrong. We don't allow someone under 18 to smoke a cigarette because we know that it's wrong."

From further in the story:

The measure advanced on a 5 to 4, party-line vote with the Democrats in charge of the committee voting in favor.

Now, try to imagine what the issue at hand is. Let's see--government intervention in a personal choice. Boy, it seems I've heard that language once or twice before. Now, what was that issue? Was it . . .no, . . . but, maybe it was--was it abortion?

No, of course not. Nothing so serious as life or death.

No, your state legislature is going to intervene to prevent teenagers from using tanning beds.

Anybody else find the language use ironic? Or is it just me?

Cross-posted at Political Avalanche


Why I Am a Republican, part II

In last night's post, I gave some basic history of my life in an effort to provide a basis for understanding the underpinnings of my belief system. I left off at about the point my first child was born.

Which, if you've never had children, changes the world in pretty dramatic ways--especially if that child is a girl.

I have a friend who used to joke that he never, ever, used to cry at anything, especially movies! Fried Green Tomatoes? nothing. Forever Young? blank. Rudy? maybe, but not likely. After his son was born? still nothing, though Rudy and Field of Dreams might inspire a little tear. But THEN he had girls. After that, Teminator was a full box of Kleenex experience.

I suppose he exaggerates, but not by a whole lot. Being responsible for a little girl is a life-altering experience for a man--every boy is viewed with, at best, suspicion, and for every danger you hear about on the evening news, there is an imaginary scenario by which your child is a victim, and you have a duty to think through a proper response which would keep your child safe.

This, it must be said, is also about the same time that two cowards opened fire in a local high school and killed 12 other students and one teacher before taking their own lives. Of course, picturing my own child in that situation, I would have wanted the police to move in quickly, identify the shooters, and SHOOT FIRST . . .ask questions later.

This is about the point in my life that all the basic liberal tripe about "understanding" and
"victims of society" started ringing most hollow. After six years as a teacher, and now a father, it occurred to me that most of the problems in society have, at their core, not a "lack of understanding and compassion", but a lack of discipline and consequences.

And as I looked across the political spectrum, there was a clear difference between the two parties on this point--and not just on the issue of crime. Republicans wanted actions and enforceable/enforced consequences for transgressions, Democrats seemed to want therapy. Republicans wanted serial, violent pedophiles put behind bars permanently with, perhaps, surgical . . .um, correction; Democrats wanted same pedophiles in "interventions" where they could gradually be put back into general society.

Republicans wanted al-Qaeda bombed into oblivion after WTC I and the East African Embassy bombings; Democrats wanted an indictment, and an "engagement" with Islamic extremists.

And realizing that fundamental difference between the two parties was very important to defining why I am a Republican today.

Tomorrow, . . .the 2000 election.



Why I Am A Republican, part I

First, I should say that I suppose there is a bit of a genetic predisposition towards the Republican Party. My father is a life-long Republican, and my mother, though she only in the last fifteen years or so changed her official affiliation, was always of a conservative bent. It was probably only natural--they both being devout Catholics from birth, and my father being a veteran of the Korean War, I think they saw very few options on either social issues or national security. And though I do have siblings who are more center-left to liberal, I think the household, as a whole, was pretty conservative.

My first memories of the life of politics was in fifth grade. I had become slightly aware of the Iran Hostage Crisis, and I followed the news just enough to know that the economy was in a complete shambles, and that the mood of the country was surly. So I, really not knowing a darn thing about anything, supported Ronald Reagan for President.

So I had that going for me.

But the life politic still sort of escaped me. I don't remember paying too much attention as I was going through school. I remember Reagan being dismissed by most as a buffoon and a war-monger, but he was brilliant in front of a camera, and he kept managing to out-maneuver his opponents--including the Soviet Union. So, it seemed to me that his detractors were the buffoons, while he was doing a great job turning the economy around and improving America's position in the world.

And, I gotta say, the Democrats managed during this time to put forward two of the most singularly uninspiring Presidential candidates the country has ever seen. So that helped.

But I am a big fan of Winston Churchill; and, in fact, I held true to one of his tenets--I was NOT heartless when I was 25. Comng out of college I tilted slightly to the Left, though in Boulder that put me somewhere close to Moussolini on the spectrum. Actually, it was many of the excesses of the goofy Left that pushed me away from that ideology. From dirty, smelly shanty-towns in the middle of campus to preachy Socialist trust-fund babies, the plain and obvious hypocrisy of the Left was in full bloom on the campus. And, in my last semester of college, the first Iraq War started . . .and ended.

And so, as I began my adult life, I was uncomfortable claiming any particular Party--I chose to be Unaffiliated, and to describe myself as a Moderate. I valued public education and thought government had a role in propping up the lowly in society, but I couldn't accept the idea of abortion on demand and thought low taxes and a strong military were good things.

I even held to that philosophy throughout the 90's. Most elections I would deliberately split my ballot if I didn't know the candidates, and I voted for Bill Clinton twice (I think) and Democrat Roy Romer for Governor. In the case of voting for Clinton, I thought he presented a better vision to the table than the non-vision of GHWBush ( I was too stupid to realize that stewardship can be a vision of its own), and Bob Dole just never connected for me.

But my first child was born in 1996, and the world around me became a whole different place. And that started my slow move towards the GOP, which will be the subject of my next post.


On the Super Bowl

I'm glad Peyton Manning got his Super Bowl--if there's been a player in the last fifteen years who dominated the game in the way he does, I don't know who it would be. Sure, some players may have been more athletic or spectacular; but Peyton makes every play call from the line of scrimmage and controls the movements of just about every person on the field. That sort of artistry deserves to be rewarded.

That said, I wish the game itself had been better. Sure, the field conditions were terrible, but that does not explain why these two teams looked, at times, like it was preseason again. This will certainly not go down as one of the great games of Super Bowl history, no matter how much people may like the result.

Why I Am A Republican

I have just recently gotten back in touch with an old friend. He and I were nearly inseperable from about third grade on through high school and into college, though we have lost touch over the last ten or so years. The thing is, he--who I will call "Joe"--is a hard-core, confirmed Leftist.

Our first few exchanges have been about the simple things: family, jobs, history. Nothing earth-breaking. But, eventually, I am certain the conversation will turn toward politics. In truth, I rather expected that by this point in his life he would be on staff for somebody in Congress, if not in Congress himself. But, no. Nonetheless, I am certain that at some point our differing views of the world will be a topic of conversation.

And the thing is, Joe is brilliant. A very keen wit, with a naturally quick mind for debate and clever retort, so I think I have to be on my best game to get through to him. It also occurs to me that, even though I spout off pretty regularly on this website, I've never really taken the time to explicate just why I think the way I do and believe that which I do. And , perhaps, it might be useful for my readers (both of you) to have an understanding of just what motivates me.

So, over the course of the next couple of weeks, I am going to take some time on the blog here to be a little self-indulgent, and explain myself. Feel free to share your own stories, or, better yet, to argue with me when and if you think I'm wrong or that there's a better argument than the one I'm making.

I'll start the process tomorrow night with my first memories of politics and the disastrous results of foreign policy through wish and hope. Yep, you guessed it: my first memories are of the Carter administration. Until then . . .


I Wish I’d Known Then What I Know Now.

Four years ago, I supported the invasion of Iraq. I thought that a man who had invaded his neighbors, who had used weapons of mass destruction, who had ignored seventeen United Nations resolutions, who had failed to establish his compliance with his treaty obligations, who had murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people, and who had attempted to assassinate an American statesman was a person who deserved to be removed. However, I would have rethought that support if I’d known than what I know now.

Am I talking about phantom weapons of mass destruction? No. How about clear, credible links between Saddam and al-Qaeda? No. While those are the arguments of the left, who are desperately clinging to any reason to back their original, knee-jerk reaction, those aren't the things I wish I'd known then.

I wish I’d known then that the United Nations would dishonor the memory and honorable service of Sergio Vieira de Mello by removing all United Nations presence from Iraq after de Mello was murdered, all the while obstructing the U.S. to hide the Oil for Food Scandal. I wish I'd known that the Russians and the French would constantly act to block the responsible behavior of the United Nations so that they could continue lining their corrupt pockets with Saddam's oil money.

I wish I’d known then that the entrenched bureaucracies within our own government would undermine the policies of the President at every opportunity and fail miserably at their role in reconstructing Iraq. I wish I'd known just how institutionally inept the CIA is, regardless of the individual heroism of some of it's agents; I also wish I'd known then the institutional CYA-ism of the Defense Department, which has managed to bungle every success its special forces operatives have conjured out of sand and air by enforcing Big Army groupthink.

I wish I’d known then that the American media would refuse to tell the stories of Medal of Honor winners or other heroes like the Deuce-Four (even though “unprofessional” journalists like Michael Yon managed to get their story), refuse to show pictures of enemy atrocities while magnifying embarrassments like Abu Graib, happily transmit uncorroborated stories of carnage by the enemy, and publish details of top secret national security programs.

I wish I’d know then that the political class would grow a mile-wide streak of cowardice, including taking such “principled” stands as unanimously confirming the general who has advocated and would implement the President’s new strategy, while simultaneously contemplating several measures that would express disapproval of said strategy. I wish I'd known then that even the Republicans in Congress would get in line to offer meaningless "alternatives" to the war plan by the Commander-in-Chief when they saw political advantage to doing so.

I wish I’d known then that just five short years after getting a “wake up call” which we would “never forget,” the country would roll back over and hit the snooze button, blithely returning to the post-Vietnam glory days of American impotence and Iranian ascendancy.

Yamamoto was wrong, apparently, when he warned his Emperor that they had “awakened a sleeping giant;” he just chose the wrong strategy to slay that giant. One body, one drop of blood, one kamikaze at a time would have been a better way to fight America . . .

As we seem poised to prove—yet again.


Payoff? What Payoff?

I thought that all seemed a little too easy for all the labor isues to be resolved with the DNC so the 2008 Democratic Convention could be in Denver.

Follow the logic [courtesy Colorado House GOP Caucus}:

January 3 MSNBC.com: “A local labor official received a call Tuesday from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, asking what it would take to overcome union objections to bringing the Democratic National Convention to the Pepsi Center.”

“…..local labor unions feel as if Democratic politicians are happy to take their contributions during elections but aren’t willing to help them organize job sites.”

January 11 Democratic National Committee announced that Denver will host the 2008 Democratic National Convention

January 14 Denver Post “National union officials have assured Democrats that the stagehands’ issues with the Pepsi Center can be resolved over the next 19 months. But how?”

January 15 House Bill 1072 sails through its first committee in the House

How, indeed.

Watch closely to see how the media covers this story in the next two days. Were this a GOP situation in which HB 1072 was an Open Shop bill, do you think the press would run saturation coverage of this? Yeah, so do I.

So let's just se how they manage to cover it when the obvious payoff is for the Democrats.

Now, Was That REALLY That Hard?

Honestly, two weeks of dithering before it occurs to anybody to mention that achieving the mission might be a good idea? And, really, what are he odds that it would ocur to John McCain first?

From the newest Senate Resolution vis-a-vis Iraq [courtesy Hugh]:

be it
1 Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that –
2 (1) Congress should ensure that General David
3 Petraeus, the Commander of Multinational Forces-
4 Iraq, and all United States personnel under his com-
5 mand, have the resources they consider necessary to
6 carry out their mission on behalf of the United
7 States in Iraq,

Really, though. Was it THAT hard?

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