Tuesday, October 24, 2006

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.


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