The Decider: What is more important in a political candidate, policies or character?
My gut would be to go with character. But when you see a candidate whose policies make you wince, it's hard to give much support in return.
I'm watching the presidential nomination battles with great interest. You've got your typical mix of front-runners who get all the attention and fringe candidates who will do anything to get noticed, which only pushes them further into the fringe.
So far I'm liking Giuliani, a pro-choice hawk, for the Republicans. But none of the Democrats have impressed me. Hillary is the only one who wants to win the War on Terrorism by staying on the offense. Hell, she's one of the few Democrats who acknowledges that there is a War on Terrorism.
But, like a lot of other people, I have trouble trusting her. She's a political hack who seems to twist herself into contortions to be everything to everyone. I get the feeling that she only supports the War in Iraq because she originally voted for it, and now she doesn't want to appear to be a flip-flopper. She lacks credibility.
Obama, on the other hand, seems genuine. He's likeable, he's got charisma, and he seems to believe in what he's saying. Unfortunately, I disagree with much of what he's saying. He talks as if the problem with terrorism is a legal issue, not a national security one. He's more worried about popularity than victory.
So the choice on the Democratic side is someone with good character and bad policies, or someone with good stated policies and no apparent character.
But don't worry, I'm sure the Republicans will do something to piss me off -- like nominate Mitt Romney.
The Decider: What is more important in a political candidate, policies or character?
Washington Post headline today: "Richardson Joins 2008 Race"
Really? Is that why he's been running campaign ads and participating in the presidential primary debates?
Seriously, I don't understand how a journalist can run such a headline with a straight face. While we're screwing up campaign-finance law, maybe we can pass legislation saying you're not allowed to run for office without first becoming a candidate.
Top Five ways to automatically lose a debate in the blogosphere.
1) "Nazi". It's sad because there are historical lessons to be learned from World War II and the rise of Nazism. But the term gets overused so much in politics, that just about anyone invoking the term is grasping at straws because he or she cannot come up with a coherent argument. See also, "Hitler", "Fascist", and "the end of America/democracy as we know it".
2) "Must have hit a nerve". The argument goes that, because you are responding at all to a point, then the other person must be right. Does that mean the best bloggers are the ones nobody reads? See also, "Riled up" and "Must be scared".
3) "Troll." There are a lot of trolls out there who lurk on blogs and comment on just about every post. Some of them make pretty weak and immature arguments. Those people should be easy to smack down. Others actually make good points. Don't dismiss them out of hand just because they have the courage to comment on a blog that disagrees with their views.
4) "Racist." Unfortunately, racism does still exist in America. But not everyone who opposes affirmative action or disagrees with Al Sharpton is a hateful bigot. If you invoke this term, you have better damn well be able to back it up with strong evidence. See also, "KKK".
5) "Bias." It's true, the mainstream media has a liberal bias, and Fox News has a conservative bias. Get over it. They are both popular and represent a sizeable chunk of the American electorate. Don't ignore what The New York Times or Fox says. Sure, they represent a particular view, but they often make good points. If the point is weak, attack that, not the background of the person making the point.
Bogus: Conservatives have been dismissing all liberal interest in the Iraq War, arguing that Democrats can only benefit politically if the United States loses there -- that any success will only help the Republicans in the '08 elections by making Bush look good.
That's just right-wing garbage. The Democrats can actually stand to gain greatly by a U.S. victory in Iraq.
There was bipartisan support in Congress to start the invasion, but Bush and the Republicans managed the war, period. They succeeded in defeating Saddam Hussein and creating a democratic government, complete with free elections. Beyond that, the Republicans have failed to maintain stability in that government, end the fighting in the streets, and defeat the terrorist threat that has taken the lives of thousands of Iraqis and American troops.
That's why the Democrats were elected to Congress, because the American people were not happy about the progress in Iraq. We needed change.
Since the Democrats took over Congress, we have gotten change. Bush has fired Donald Rumsfeld, increased the troop levels in Baghdad, and brought new generals to change tactics. The political pressure that the Democrats are bringing against the White House is altering the course of Iraq, probably for the better.
If we do ultimately succeed in stabilizing Iraq (relative to the region), the Democrats deserve as much credit, if not more so, as President Bush.
I've supported this war from the beginning. As such, it is absolutely heart wrenching to see the problems that have developed in Iraq. I don't know whether to blame Bush for mismanaging the war, the Iraqis for fighting each other instead of working through democracy, or people like myself who thought it was a good idea to go in there in the first place.
But I still think we can succeed. We've already removed Saddam Hussein and established a fragile democracy there. If we can neutralize the Al Qaeda presence in Iraq and reduce the violence as we pull our troops out, I'll consider that a successful mission. It definitely won't be pretty, and it isn't what we had hoped for, but it's the best we can get.
All that being said, I'm still not ready to withdraw our troops as the Democrats want. We need to draw down our military levels in such a way that will increase stability. Right now I think running away would just lead to chaos in that country, which will only make things worse. This is now a political mission in which the military plays a crucial role.
But no one in the United States, especially not the Democrats, would gain from a defeat in Iraq. We're all in this together, now more than ever.
Silver Lining: The cynic in me used to always shrug off news descriptions of murder victims. It seemed that everyone who died automatically became a saint.
The descriptions are always the same: "He was a nice man." "She was a generous person."
You never hear anyone say: "Actually, he was a real jerk."
Now talking to the families and friends of the deceased from Virginia Tech, I'm finding that these really were kind and decent people who were needlessly killed. They had proven it through their work, their devotion to their families, and their time spent with charities.
This doesn't mean that only the good die young, that they are either targeted or just always have the misfortune of being in the line of fire. It shows that most of humanity is good.
I know that's hard to remember sitting in rush-hour traffic, or just while watching the news. But most people are generally good at heart, just trying to do what they can to make a living and not harming anyone in the process. It's just the few assholes that get all the attention.
So despite this senseless tragedy, or the next violent episode that will undoubtedly occur, at least we can remember that, regardless of how many bad people there are in the world, we will always greatly outnumber them.
Dark Days: Like many other journalists around the country, I'm busy at work covering the Virginia Tech shootings. It's a terrible tragedy, and I'm happy to do my part in getting information out to the public.
But then I see that the killer took time between his first murders and the second shooting spree to make a video and send it to NBC. He knew that this was going to get national attention, and he wanted to prepare.
Are we in the media just contributing to the problem? These desperate losers get fed up with the world, yet they know they can go out with a big splash by murdering others in a place that should seem safe, like a school. If we didn't give so much coverage to these senseless disasters, maybe they wouldn't occur so frequently.
But we can't ignore them. When 32 innocent people are needlessly killed, we can't gloss over that.
I just hate to think we're giving the killer exactly what he wanted.
See An Enemy: In case you were unaware, our enemies have had a "pernicious impact on American democracy" through a "culture of fear" that has created damage "infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks".
This enemy, of course, is President Bush and his evil cronies. By using 9/11 as a call to arms to wage a War on Terrorism, he has become more of a danger to us than Al Qaeda. All this, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security advisor to President Carter.
Some Lefties seem to be lacking a sense of irony. Mr. Brzenzinski is condemning Bush's culture of fear by creating his own fear mongering. To him, Bush is evil for drawing attention to those who have repeatedly attacked us in hopes of destroying us. Instead, the writer says, we should be afraid that Dick Cheney may kidnap us and ship us to Gitmo. One threat is real, the other is hypothetical.
It's unfortunately true that President Bush has used the War on Terrorism for political ends. This should be a bipartisan war, but it seems to have become a Republican one. As a result, few Democrats even bother mentioning our enemies, the real ones, terrorists. Bush is partly to blame for this, by treating this war as a partisan issue. But Democrats seem to be too willing to play along with this role. I'm still waiting for Barak Obama to tell us how, if elected president, he plans to wage the War on Terrorism, other than withdrawing from Iraq. And if he has no plans, then he doesn't deserve to be commander in chief.
Sure, terrorism is a broad term. It's a form of violence that can never be stopped completely. But it's as much of a threat as Communism was. We were able to win the Cold War without destroying all of Communism (still there in China, Cuba, etc.). We can also defeat radical Islamic terrorism without having to end it completely. Our goal is to reduce the threat to our country and our interests. And that involves fighting back.
Digging In: The biggest problem with the presidential election heating up so early is that people are going to get sick of the frontrunner before the elections. That doesn't bode well for Giuliani, who appears to be leading in the Republican primary and the general election. That's just going to make him an extra juicy target, both for rivals and for the news media. And, from what I understand, the man has a lot of dirt that the American public has yet to learn about. Whether the dirt has any substance will remain to be seen, but it's going to be messy nonetheless.
Why Not: For those of you who still don't give a damn about who the next president will be, you could have something else to watch on TV. The Geico cavemen may get their own sitcom.
Let's Do It: I guess it's not too early for presidential politics. Not only is the media already hyperactively covering every drop of mud flung in this premature race, the public is actually paying attention, according to one poll.
We have a combination of the first wide-open presidential election in years, with neither a president nor a vice president running, mixed with rock-bottom poll numbers of the current president who has become a divisive figure. Now the public is ready for whatever is next.
I like Giuliani. And apparently I'm not alone. I'm not making an endorsement because, again, it's way too early. But he's a pro-choice hawk -- in terms of policy, I'm probably not going to get much better than that. The Right-wing GOP primary voters may not like his stance on social issues, and that makes him all the more attractive a candidate. Of course, we'll have to see how his views change during the campaign. So far he has rebuffed his pro-choiceness by promising to nominate more Scalias to the Supreme Court. And he referred to his crackdown on gun ownership in New York City as a local solution for a local problem. No need to take away hunting rights away from all Americans, he says. Hopefully that's the case, but I wonder whether he would try to outlaw assault weapons again if he were working with a Democratic Congress.
The media credits John McCain for being a moderate, but in reality he's much more conservative than Giuliani. In addition to being a hawk, McCain is opposed to abortion rights and gay marriage -- although he at least voted against a federal constitutional amendment on gay marriage, opting instead for states to decide. But what really doesn't sit well with me is McCain's carelessness with the First Amendment. The McCain-Feingold Act puts too many restrictions on political speech, exactly what the First Amendment is designed to protect. What's worse, the law hasn't succeeded at all in cleaning up political campaigns. Unaccountable 527s are now getting all the money and running more dirt than ever before. At least under the old rules, the candidate had some control over the political message, and therefore faced political pressure to not cross the line.
Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper. Nobody cares that he's a Mormon. He doesn't have too many wives, he's had too many policy changes.
The Democrats haven't been exciting me. Barak Obama is a vibrant, charismatic candidate. The whole debate over his blackness or his possible Muslim background is nonsense. He's a prototype red-white-and-blue American who could probably do some great things for this country. But he's not a moderate, as some people claim. He's a liberal. And I haven't heard him make any comments about winning the War on Terrorism. He spends all of his time talking about how fast we should withdraw from Iraq. That may please a lot of people, given how the popularity of the Iraq war has sunk given the problems over there. But we are electing a commander in chief in a time of war. And he doesn't talk like someone who wants to win.
Hillary Clinton has positioned herself as a hawk from day one. But the cynic in me has trouble believing that her views are more than poll-tested positions to counter her liberal reputation. She has a trust problem. I'm not one of those hateful Clinton bashers. And while I could live with Hillary in the White House, I don't plan to help her get there.
John Edwards is an underweight. He's going to play the Iowa-New-Hampshire political game perfectly and still lose. But it's always good to have a few candidates like that in the mix. It keeps the front-runners honest.
We've got a long way to go. The main issues in this race will be the War on Terrorism, which Americans still want to win, and the Iraq War, of which Americans are growing weary.
I didn't think it possible at first that Republicans would nominate a moderate for '08. But after losing the '06 Midterm Elections, Republicans may go with someone they consider electable. If the GOP retained the majority last year, Republicans would have continued to push to the Right. As of now, they realize that they won't be able to.
But a lot may change over the next year or so. Just like when Howard Dean was the Democratic front runner for the 2004 race until Saddam Hussein was captured, outside events are going to significantly impact this race. In addition, we have two years of dirt to dig through as well. This will be an exciting election, even though we will be sick of it by the time it comes.
Faster and Harder, but not Deeper: I thought it was too early to pay attention to presidential politics. But, with several candidates already in the midst of their campaigns, we've already had one drop out.
Tom Vilsack says he couldn't raise enough money. And as former governor of Iowa, some people expected him to take the first caucuses, giving him some advantage in the overall race, despite his underdog status. However, things sped along faster than he could keep up, now he's ducking out.
The rate things are going, we'll have our next president picked out this time next year.
Love the Brits: All I can say is, Thanks!
HA! Is Barak Obama black enough? The Daily Show's Larry Wilmore answers that question once and for all.
P.S. It's about time The Daily Show hired a black guy. That show has been preaching liberalism, but all the correspondents have looked like they came out of the Order of DeMolay.
Religious Conversion: Do people really give a damn about Mitt Romney's religion? The media would have you believe that this is a serious issue. Sure, Mormonism is kinda kooky. But Mormons ditched polygamy years ago, and despite Joseph Smith's eccentricities, most modern-day Mormons live regular, productive lives.
When JFK ran, some people were afraid that, as a Catholic president, he would be taking orders from the Pope. In a famous speech, Kennedy assured the American public that such an idea was laughable, because although he was baptized Catholic, he doesn't actually practice the religion, especially that whole marital fidelity thing.
People were concerned when Joseph Lieberman ran for vice president and president, not because he was Jewish so much as that he was an Orthodox Jew, who refrained from doing such things as using electricity on Saturdays. Lieberman finally came out and plainly told everybody that he would not let his religion interfere with his duties as president, especially when it comes to the safety of the American people. That's good enough for me.
Now the media is questioning whether we're ready for a Mormon president. Hillary as the first woman president or Obama as the first black president? Great! But Mormons aren't as popular. Romney has joked about his religion to diffuse the subject. And in reality, it probably isn't what will sink his candidacy. Instead, flip-flopping on issues like abortion for political favorability will more likely be his undoing.
Here's a discussion question: Would America elect a Muslim president today? We had a little flare up with Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress. Some bigot from Virginia took issue with Ellison's use of the Koran during the swearing-in ceremony. Otherwise, nobody was really bothered.
Personally, I wouldn't mind voting for a Muslim who pledged to be a commander in chief that would kick Osama Bin Laden's ass and destroy radical Islamic terrorism. That would be kinda cool, actually.
Bartenders Against Designated Drivers? A bar in Florida kicked a man out for not ordering alcohol. Accounts vary, of course. But the man says he wanted to be designated driver for his wife and friends, who were drinking, so he ordered a Coke. Bar people say the man wanted to be designated driver for his wife and friends, who were drinking, and ordered nothing.
Accusations of physical violence aside, the bar is clearly in the wrong, even according to their own story. And the state legislature is fixing to make such actions illegal.
P.S. In order to keep this site current, I'm going to try to post something a few times a week, even if it's just silly stuff like this. From time to time, I might even have something substantive to say. Times are busy for me, though, so we'll see how it goes.
What the Hell? "Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq", reads the Washington Post headline.
Apparently the previous policy was "catch and release". Now Bush finally says it's okay to kill the ones who are not only trying to kill our troops but also are training terrorists and insurgents on how to kill our troops. Did Bush not previously want to win this war?
Some people have been calling Iraq a proxy war against Iran. To some degree, that may be true. While I can understand our reluctance to invade Iran, I cannot fathom why we have been shackling ourselves for this long when dealing with the Iranian operatives who are already in Iraq. The ones who are there fighting against us are our enemy, ipso facto. We should have been killing them from day one.
Sigh. In case anyone wonders why I've been absent for so long, I've been busy as hell, both at work and elsewhere. Plus, I got kinda tired of saying the same thing day after day. Politics, as fascinating as it is, gets depressing after awhile. But then I see articles like that, and I just have to vent somewhere (not that there's anybody here anymore).
Man, this blog has turned into a neglected mess. I see spammers have infested some of my comments. I guess I'll have to get around to cleaning that up.
Lord Have Mercy: O.J. Simpson Book, TV Special Canceled
My faith in humanity may yet be restored.
The fact that such a book would be published -- and would sell very well -- and the fact that such an interview would be conducted -- and be widely viewed by millions -- showed how shallow we have become as a society. But this latest news offers some hope.
On a side note, when OJ was on trial in 1995, I actually made a concerted effort not to pay much attention. The trial was a circus, and I figured there's no way the truth could be found. As we know, nothing really was settled, except that OJ wasn't going to jail.
It also highlighted racial divisions. Blacks tended to think OJ was not guilty, or at least that the LAPD was more guilty. Whites tended to think OJ got away with murder. As a white guy, I just assumed OJ was guilty, but didn't think too much of it. I figured there's no way we'll ever know for sure. Until now.
The fact that OJ was even contemplating writing such a book, that to me proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he is a murderer.
Free Speech: In case anybody cares, I'll be voting a split ticket for the midterm Congressional elections.
First and foremost, as a Northern Virginia resident, I will be voting for Jim Webb for Senate. Mr. Webb is a former Republican recently turned Democrat who is running on a platform that the war in Iraq was a horrible mistake and that we should actively seek to withdraw quickly. And on that, I completely disagree with him.
I understand that the Iraq war has gone on much longer than initially conceived, and the death toll is mounting. I also understand that our presence there makes the situation worse as we take on the essential task of training the Iraqis to defend themselves. But I still believe that winning in Iraq is crucial to the War on Terrorism. Had we left Saddam Hussein in power with his terrorist ties and weapons of mass destruction (which everybody, even the French, thought he still possessed), nobody would take seriously our hard line against Al Qaeda and other terror organizations. While we continue our anti-terrorist operations throughout the world, the missions of spreading democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq help foster change in the Middle East to end the culture of terrorism in that region.
Iraq was supposed to be the whipping boy to set an example to other Middle Eastern regimes. That did not go as planned. While we toppled Saddam Hussein and his military in weeks (even as media talking heads were calling our tactics failures -- see this is why it's so easy to ignore persistent criticism), Baathist insurgents and Al Qaeda troops began flooding the country with terrorist attacks -- not just against our troops, but mostly against innocent Iraqis, their fellow Muslim brothers. No amount of troops could stop these murders. But now the U.S. appears to have lost control of what was supposed to be a simple step in the War on Terrorism.
Jim Webb disagrees with me, and I'm voting for him anyways. It has nothing to do with a disdain for Republicans. I hate both parties equally. And it sure as hell has nothing to do with the "macaca incident" with George Allen.
In fact, after seeing Sen. Allen go through all the crap the media has put him through, a part of me still hopes he wins. I still don't believe that he knew that "macaca" was some obscure racial slur from French Africa, or wherever, regardless of his mother's background. Speaking of which, how dare that reporter ask Sen. Allen to describe how much Jewishness he has in his family. That was a completely unacceptable question. Yet, somehow, George Allen got stuck with being anti-Semitic as well as racist. All this would be reason enough for me to vote for George Allen, except for one issue.
The flag-burning amendment. The Senate came within one vote of passing the first amendment to our Constitution that would prohibit certain types of free speech. It would outlaw any desecration of the American flag. This is a ridiculous amendment, and as a First Amendment nut, it scares me. The House overwhelmingly passed the amendment. More than enough states have signaled that they would pass the amendment. And Sen. Allen voted in favor of the amendment. Jim Webb opposes it and has pledged to vote against it.
Part of the problem with being a moderate is that it's nearly impossible to find a candidate whom you agree with nearly 100 percent. Candidates generally follow the same liberal/conservative patterns, and inevitably there are several issues that will severely piss me off with each candidate. As a result, I usually have to pick one issue that is most important to me in any given year, and vote accordingly.
The War on Terrorism and an aggressive fight against our enemies is still top priority. But even though Jim Webb and I disagree on that, I see him as a reasonable enough person that he will not immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq. While he wishes we weren't there, I believe he will vote to make measured troop reductions. And even if he did want all troops home tomorrow, as one senator he wouldn't have the authority to make that happen.
Just like when I made a rationalization that Republicans would never get the same-sex marriage amendment passed when I voted for Bush in 2004 (I was right), I can rationalize that the Democrats won't cut and run, despite what GOP ads would lead us to believe (I hope I'm right).
And because this Congress decided to make flag burning an election-year issue by nearly passing such an awful amendment that cuts to the very heart of our ability as Americans to openly criticize our nation and our government, I have to take their threats seriously. It's not even a Republican issue. Many Democrats voted for that amendment. I completely disagree with anyone who wants to burn the flag -- they're morons with nothing to offer. But I will fight to the death for their right to say stupid things. In fact, it helps more easily identify the morons by letting them be stupid legally.
That brings us to the House race. I'm voting for the Republican, who happens to be Tom O'Donoghue. It really wouldn't matter who the Republican is, honestly. I'm not doing this to establish any sort of moderate credentials by forcing myself to vote a split ticket. And I'm not worried about the Democrats taking over the House. I just can't stand Jim Moran.
Jim Moran is a corrupt politician who has gone on rants against the "Jewish community" for starting the Iraq war, been involved in shady finance deals as a member of Congress, and even has a penchant for physical violence.
But, I live in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, so Jim Moran will win re-election in a walk. My vote for his Republican opponent is a protest vote that really won't amount to anything. (The Senate race, however, is close, so that vote will mean much more.)
This is a depressing time in politics. The Republicans are not governing well, but the Democrats don't bring much promise either. Maybe that's why I'm not blogging much lately (that and because I'm busy as hell). Politics is a strange fascination of mine. The trick is to not take it too seriously.
Bombed: North Korea defies the world and purportedly ignites its first nuclear bomb. How does the world react? I think this picture of South Korean lawmakers sums it up best.
I can't tell you what their signs say, or what they are chanting. But it's sad how all politicians project the same bland, stoic, uninspiring image the world over. I don't know what message world leaders are trying to send North Korea, but it's obviously having no effect.
Then there's this guy (first photo after the ad). Good to know we have crazy protesters in every culture.
Not So Stiff: Here's a good omen for Democrats. I was talking to a girl I know, who always seemed to be a Reagan-worshipping conservative in the past, about the current GOP travails. She responded with, "Hey! I'm not a starch Republican."
I guess they're losing support. And maybe I should change the name of my blog.
Back to work ...
Unsatisfactory: Mark Foley is a sick puppy, we all know that. Instead of just accepting this, Republicans feel they need to mount some sort of counterattack. So they complain about how this is a last-minute surprise before the upcoming midterm elections.
Something like this seems to happen every election year. It usually involves a legitimate scandal, such as this one with Foley and his sexual messages with teenage boys. The only defense the other side can muster is to say the accusers are using such-and-such as a political ploy.
Republicans have already tried this several times this year, and it's still early October. They accused Bob Woodward, whose reporting previously made President Bush look good, of being a partisan hack who unleashed his new book on Iraq just in time for the election. Now some conservatives are accusing Democrats and the media of withholding information about the Foley exchanges in time for the election -- as if the Democrats created this mess.
That's just pathetic. News breaks all during the year. When it does, politicians are expected to deal with it. We shouldn't hold all breaking news the weeks before an election. That's when it's most important.
And sometimes the media actually does wait. The New York Times investigated Bush's wiretap program for a year before going to print. The paper could have rushed it before the presidential election, but instead decided to get the facts right.
Democrats have made the same lame argument for "election year" votes in Congress. Republicans demand votes on immigration reform and funding for Iraq, and someone complains that it is an election-year game. Every other year is an election year. You can't expect Congress to do nothing for half the time (although that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing).
... and back down the drain: Now Rep. Rangel and other Democrats are promising to cut funding to the war in Iraq if Democrats gain control of the House. I know Rangel isn't the Democratic House leader, and I know this would never actually come to pass if the Dems got control. But it's still sad to see reasoned debate plop back into the toilet.
Wow! The Drudge Report has clips of Rep. Charles Rangel and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lambasting Hugo Chavez. Two of the most shrill and outspoken critics of Bush have recognized that a foreign leader, or "thug" as Pelosi calls him, has crossed way over the line.
That is fantastic. That isn't even so much a defense of President Bush as just a call for common decency. Pelosi and Rangel are telling Chavez that if he wants to be taken seriously, he has to act like an adult.
Personally, I don't care that Socialist sociopaths like Hugo Chavez don't like Bush. That just makes me like Bush more. So Chavez's comments didn't bother me. He was an embarrassment to himself and his country -- sounding more like a freshman protester than the chief executive of a South American nation. Bush is Satan and he smells bad? I know junior-high school kids who are more clever.
We still have hateful hacks like Cindy Sheehan and, apparently, much of the United Nations who align themselves with Chavez. Those people have lost all credibility with me long ago. But kudos to Pelosi and Rangel for remembering to be an American first and a politician second.
A Bubblin' Crude: Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi praised the Bush administration for using the power of the presidency to quickly bring down gas prices after they temporarily spiked over the summer. She realized that Bush and Cheney's connections and experience with the oil industry gave them an insider's perspective on how to cut the cost of crude.
We have two oilmen in the White House. ... There is no accident. It is a cause and effect ... A cause and effect.Oh, wait. My bad. That's an old quote from Nancy at a press conference in April complaining about the high gas prices. Strange she's being so quiet lately. Maybe she took a course on supply and demand and realized that the president cannot control oil prices. Or maybe she read a newspaper and found out that the people who do set those prices for the most part are Middle Eastern despots.
Okay, back to work.
Fighting Back: Pope notes the violent history of Islam. Muslims respond by killing a humanitarian nun and burning things.
One thing we generally agree about the Islamic terrorists is that they are usually PR savvy. They use global media to their advantage. If a Muslim child gets killed or a milk factory gets destroyed during the course of Western military activity, they exploit it -- even as the terrorists target children and civilian infrastructure. They exaggerate and tell lies about mistreatment and violence to generate sympathetic news coverage.
So why would Muslims respond to the Pope's condemnation of Islamic violence with more Islamic violence? Why murder and incite riots when this underscores exactly what the Pope is talking about?
Because they want people to believe it. They know that their only real weapon is fear. If they moderated their approach and appeared reasonable, they would be ignored by the world. But because any verbal or written criticism -- even one as innocuous as a cartoon -- will incite a violent reaction, they propagate that reputation in order to extend their influence.
While there are also some angry reactions from moderate Muslims, much of the violent protests are instigated by terrorist groups, and Islamic despots are fanning the flames of hatred. They can viciously criticize other groups, such as Jews and Christians, and never expect such a reprisal. But by overreacting to every criticism, Islamofascists actually increase their power as we react in fear.
This strategy seems to have obvious short-term gain but long-term failure. As such, we shouldn't be afraid to say what we think, lampoon what we want, and criticize those who deserve to be criticized.
This is a major front in the War on Terrorism. We haven't been asked to sacrifice much for this war, simply because of its complexity of the operations. That's too bad, because in this war, the terrorists are targeting ordinary American civilians in a clash of civilizations.
But we can fight back by defending freedom of speech at all costs. We should make movies, draw cartoons, and express ourselves without fear of violence. Then the terrorists lose their power and effectiveness.