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


Just So You Don't Get Fooled . . . 

The President says he will keep his campaign promise and close down Gitmo.

Congressional Democrats balk, and refuse to fund the move until there's a "plan" for the terrorists there.

The President gets to look "progressive," and like he's keeping his promises no matter how goofy, while a Congress that has looked anything but serious gets to appear reasonable, measured and nearly hawkish.

What a perfect script.

Except that appearances are so far off base from what we've come to expect. Doesn't that seem a tad too convenient?

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and posit that the actual disposition of the terrorists will look an awful lot like a bunch of really dangerous men with hard-to-pronounce names being suddenly and quietly placed in American prisons and given quiet, behind-the-scenes trials in civilian American courts. But it's not going to happen for several months . . .

long after the press has stopped reporting on the "break" between the President and the Congressional leadership. And don't expect Nancy Pelosi to remember the meeting at which she was told about it.

In fact, don't expect the Democrats to talk about this ever again.

Just So You Don't Get Fooled . . . 


By Any Other Name . . . 

"If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny. Anything else is a waste of material." --Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

What a brilliant sentiment, from a movie series not really famous for its flights of wisdom! The very idea that limiting yourself or altering the logical trajectory of your life for the purpose of fulfilling your natural gifting would be smart and useful is just not part of the normal discourse in America. But it is a very insightful thought. And it has a deep personal meaning for me. Let me explain . . .

I have, for the last eighteen years, been a teacher in the public schools. And I've loved it--teaching is a great job (wrapped up in a really stupid profession--but that's a story for another day). But for the last several years I've felt like it wasn't quite enough, or maybe it just wasn't quite right. That's why I started to blog. On some level, I thought writing might actually be my "best destiny" that I just missed because I became very single-minded about something back when I was young and stupid. In fact, I still entertain aspirations of writing professionally, to either influence public policy or to change the world in some way. And, sure, maybe that's just the fanciful flight of an "old and stupid" person, but that's okay.

What would have been nice for me would have been to have a little more guidance back when I made that decision so that maybe I could have discoved and made use of writing a long time ago. The logical trajectory of the life I chose back when I was 18 might have needed a little better consideration. A little roadmap, as it were. So, I created just that.

Actually, not so much "I" as "we"--my partner Jay and I have spent the last 19 months writing a book whose sole purpose is to help young people be smarter about the decisions that they make which dictate the course of their lives. "Get It!" will guide youths (ages 16-24) through a process of discovery and self-evaluation which, hopefully,will lead them to make choices for their lives which are based on their innate, God-given passions and gifts, rather than just stumbling forward because the next step seems to be the next logical step. It has been a difficult, but very rewarding process--the natural "A.D.D.-ness" of blogging has been challenged every step of the way, and it has required quite a bit more disclipline than your standard "pajama-clad media" outpost.

But the best part has been actually relying on that set of skills which this blog has honed in me to create something which I hope and believe will change the world.

[warning: shameless self-promotion section coming up]

"Get It!" is the perfect graduation gift, for those of you who have young people in your lives. Even students who seem to have it all figured out could stand to take a few minutes to consider their steps before rushing out into the world! To find out more, and to order a book for yourself, visit the website at http://www.getit-productions.com

[shameless self-promotion section now concluded]

There IS, by the way, a political application for this process. Something about authenticity and connecting with the body politic. I will get into that more in future posts, but for a case study in INauthenticity, can I recommend a little viewing:


Please Tell Me You Weren't Actually Surprised . . . 

at the news that more Americans are pro-Life than are pro-abortion.

This is one of those dirty little lies that the Left has relied on for years and years to manipulate the political debate. The tiny little facoid that only 22 percent think abortion should be completely unrestricted flies in the face of the whole tenor of the argument for the last 25 years.

Which begs a question: whyhas the debate been so decidedly distorted? Surely it's not just because of the media.

Is it, just maybe, perhaps, because on this, as on so many issues, our side just has NO CLUE how to argue the point, and so we just concede the ground.

This is a bigger debate than just abortion, and it couldn't come at a more timely moment than the weekend in which the most radically pro-abortion president in history receives an honorary degree from the nation's pre-immenent Catholic university. I think conservatives would make a huge mistake to make this debate exclusively about abortion: this debate needs to be about assumptions, distortions, and truth.

And how the Left has controlled all of those in the public sphere for too long. Every premise upon which a stupid argument is launched needs to be challenged and dismantled--tear down the house of cards upon which the straw man is seated. That's how we get the argument back.


To Be A Liberal Means . . . 

to have no need for internal consistencies.

Otherwise applying the same formula as "Once more, with no sense of irony."

Obama: "We need to resist the temptation to fall back on the same bitter partisanship of the past; we need to avoid the same immature extreme partisan responses . . . " blah blah blah

Wanda Sykes: "I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight . . . Rush Limbaugh — I hope the country fails. I hope his kidneys fail, how about that?“He needs a waterboarding, that’s what he needs.”

White House response: [crickets . . crickets . .]

If the President was ACTUALLY interested in avoiding partisanship, he would avoid bitter personal partisan attacks like this:

Obama: "Dick Cheney was supposed to be here but he is very busy working on his memoirs, tentatively titled 'How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People,'"

Cheney: "Well, at the heart of what we did with the terrorist surveillance program and the enhanced interrogation techniques for Al Qaida terrorists and so forth was collect information. It was about intelligence. It was about finding out what Al Qaida was going to do, what their capabilities and plans were. It was discovering all those things we needed in order to be able to go defeat Al Qaida.

And in effect, what’s happening here, when you get rid of enhanced interrogation techniques, for example, or the terrorist surveillance program, you reduce the intelligence flow to the intelligence community upon which we based those policies that were so successful."

So you have Dick Cheney making a substantive, serious point about policy issues; and you have the President taking a cheap, immature, personal shot at a private citizen.

And, by the way, the President is, apparantly, on tape somewhere laughing at Wanda Sykes.

So, exactly HOW is the President making an effort to change the tone and raise the level of discourse?

Oh, but wait . . . it's still so early in the administration. He can do all that whenever he wants to, it's just that he's letting his supporters have their moment in the sun. Right?

Sure. And Lyndsey Lohan can get her life in order at any time--she's just enjoying stardom for a while.

The problem, as I argued before the election, is NOT Barack Obama, though he's bad enough. He actually talks like a moderate when he wants to, and may actually have an instinct for broad-based solutions.

The problem is the true believers who are now in charge of Congress and the mid- to high-level jobs in government. THEY actually make policies, implement policies, and enforce policies. And they are who we should be scared of . .

Because I guarantee you they were laughing at Wanda Sykes Saturday night.


You Make The Comparison 

Aristotle: The Law is reason, free from passion.

Obama: I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.

Personally, regardless of his own opinion of himself, or the press's, I'll still take Aristotle mind over that of our new President's.

What really frightens me is the criteria that the President has laid out for his nominee: experiences outside of law, someone who has a connection with ordinary people, someone who has "empathy."

Sound like anyone you know? Who is the most empathetic person on the public American scene? Who is famous for "feeling you pain?"

I'm not saying with this nomination, but Obama will get to replace Ginsberg and Stevens at some point in his term. And if the Republicans can't find their voice and mount a credible opposition , at some point the Dems won't even have to ask permission. They'll just be able to print the letterhead:

Justice William Jefferson Clinton.


Obama's 100 Days 

Yeah, so it's two days late. What of it?

I normally don't put a lot of stock in "benchmark" moments like 100 days. But the President himself is making a big deal out of it by stealing another $20 million from his entertainment/propoganda operation in Hollywood (that, according to estimates from Glenn Beck). And, frankly, it's hard to avoid the story, since it has given the "professional journalists" ample opportunity to renew their vows to The One.

But, at any rate, it seems to me that there ARE a few things that the President can be evaluated on. Certainly, management of the West Wing is one of those areas; I would also say it's fair at this point to evaluate if there have actually been legislative accomplishments, or major initiatives started that look like they'll be easy to get through; and, on top of that, I think, especially for this President who was elected in HUGE part because of his style, it's fair to evaluate his style and how well his promises are holding up.

Management has been a joke. At best. At worst, it's been a fiasco of unprecedented scale. How many nominees for Treasury 2? How many withdrawals? How many of them can't figure out their taxes? And this is just the hugely important task of vetting and then carrying to confirmation a nominee. If the West Wing is this bad at this, its first task, how bad is it at the other tasks that come along? But you can't really stop at the nominating process--how about that personal diplomacy thing? Pretty good process they go through, given his selection of a useless DVD player for one head of state and an iPod for another. Hey, notice we haven't seen any stories about the gifts Obama gave to Chavez or the Castro Brothers? Just an aside .. . But you repeatedly got the feeling through the first 100 days that this operation lacked experience. Very amateur.

Obama's legislative achievements are the single most disappointing element for me. Not that I expected Reagan-esque spending restraint, but he talked a pretty good game during the election. And then promptly jumped in and tripled the debt. So, so far he's gotten a stimulus bill, and not too much else. He did, however get his budget, and that is a potentially devestating victory for him, because that's going to triple the debt the country faces for years to come. But it does help us put an actual grade on this aspect of his performance: D . . . .for debt.

And on style, sadly for the President, he's been somewhat exposed. This is a man who got elected, at least in part, because of his reputation for speaking. But he's given a series of mediocre speeches, and it's increasingly obvious that he can't talk without a teleprompter. In fact, he's even getting sensitive to that fact, as evidenced by him ditching the teleprompter for the second evening press conference. Unfortunately, he ended up staring into his single monitor with the most profound "deer-in-the-headlights look" I've ever seen. And then you factor in the complete halt he screeched to the other day when his 'prompter went off the reservation. It does make you wonder very seriously about how he handles diplomatic meet-and-greets. Again, amateur. But that's not the only style point that's tripping him up: his Stimulus got exactly zero Republican votes; the Budget got exactly zero Republican votes. So, pretty much, that bipartisan thing isn't working out so well. Bad style.

Not a great 100 days. There are a great many intangibles that the Left will point to--increasing sense of support around the world (though not matched by actual action), refocusing on Afghanistan, willingness to speak to Chavez and Castro (and be made a tool.) But from the standpoint of laying the groundwork for building the future, I am forced to conclude that the President has had a remarkably rough first 100 days; certainly it holds none of the accomplishments of an FDR.

Which, in the long run, is good.

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