Tuesday, June 19, 2007

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.

Monday, May 21, 2007

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.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

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.

Friday, May 04, 2007

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.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

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.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

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.

Friday, February 23, 2007

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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Love the Brits: All I can say is, Thanks!

Friday, February 16, 2007

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.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

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.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

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.

Friday, January 26, 2007

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.

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