Saturday, June 03, 2006

Why Texas Is Different

I just finished watching “Friday Night Lights”. OK, so the first thing that says about me, is that I don’t watch that many movies, and the ones I do watch tend to be out for a while before I see them, though there are a few exceptions. But I mention that movie here, because it’s about Texas and it’s about Football. Now, on the surface making a big deal about either of those comes off as a bit, well, arrogant and presumptuous, and to be sure Texans have their share of those qualities too, just look at LBJ, but about these parts and some places like them, where you come from and how you even play games is part of your upbringing.

The first time I left the United States, I learned the difference between being an American, and being a Texan. For whatever reason, being from Texas gets you treated much better, pretty much no matter where you go. And it wasn’t a one-time thing; it was pretty much a constant. You get treated as if you matter, and no one is surprised or particularly offended when you speak your mind; Texans are expected to say what they think, and to have strong opinions. About everything, which maybe explains why so many Texans are bloggers.

Now about Football; it’s one of those things that you just either get or you don’t get. My wife is not a big football fan, so I listen to her when I want a take on what the non-Football world thinks. In my case, I didn’t get to play much, because my father did not want me playing football. He had played at several levels, and believed that the only people who ought to play Football were the people who had no better options in Life. And I understood that a person of average size and speed and strength would probably never be able to make a college team, to say nothing of the Pros, and so his football years would be spent on collecting bruises and breaks and tears which would wear him down long after he hung up his uniform. But I loved Football from the first moment I saw it, and tens of millions of American males know what I mean.

Football is more than a game. Beneath all the weight training and running and workouts in sun, rain, mud, and cold, in addition to the cheap shots taken by the low life you always seem to draw on the other side of the line, after the losing seasons and bad calls and endless stretches sitting on the bench, you are changed by the game. Molded, if you will, for good or ill by the coaches and teammates you have. With the right coach and the right set of teammates, a young man just might grow up straight of back and true of heart. The best employees and colleagues I ever knew, all played Football. Football players tend to grow up into men who keep their word, respect their duties, and consider teamwork the cornerstone to success.

I was never big enough or fast enough to play much. And because of my dad’s rule, I couldn’t even try out for High School ball, so I played some Church League ball, which meant missing some of the pads and playing fields that were not in the best condition. I messed up my knees and ankles playing Guard. But that only fed my love for Football. Enough so, that later one when I had a work schedule which allowed me the time, I became an official for Texas UIL Football, working from the Houston Chapter of what’s now called the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO). Working my way up to a varsity crew, I saw a lot of rural towns and small schools. The first thing you notice on a Friday night, is that every one of these towns is based on three types of buildings besides the homes; the school of course, the churches nearby, and of course the football stadium. Football is a big part of Texas towns, whether it’s a 5A program or the smallest six-man school in the state.

But it occurs to me, that I either don’t have to tell you that, or nothing I can say here could make you understand. It’s a Texas thing.



Jed Babbin gets on my nerves. The last couple days, he’s been guest-hosting the “Hugh Hewitt” radio show, and running his act to give folks an idea of what Michael Moore would sound like if he was a Republican, instead of a terrorist. He has certainly worked on his schtick: the same condescending sneer to his voice whenever he speaks of the President, the same disingenuous assurance that he is taking a “principled stand”, whenever he tries to convince listeners to not support Republicans in the coming election. I can hear him as if he were portraying Brutus:

Stabbed Caesar in the back? Why no, that’s not it at all. Actually, I was cleaning my dagger, and he must have backed into it suddenly. About twenty times.”

Elections matter, you dope. And nobody elected you diddly, much less President of the United States. He’s the captain of our Ship of State, and if you want to cut him off at the knees, you don’t get to claim he has to earn your allegiance. That’s what the elections did, you hypocrite. Dubs said the same things then as he is saying now, and since he got the win in 2000 and again in 2004, that makes him the boss.

Him, not you. 62 million plus voted for George W. Bush in 2004, and you don’t get to ignore that election now when it’s inconvenient for you, anymore than John Kerry and Al Gore get to pretend they are really the President.

Right about now any of the Rabid Wing will start off saying how I am trying to silence dissent. Not at all. If you don’t like a policy, say so, and by all means tell your Congressman and Senators what you want them to do on any given vote. But disagreeing with a position on a given issue, or several issues, does not give you license to lie about what Bush has really said or done or stands for, and it doesn’t give you leave to attack the twice-elected leader of our party and our country. The man has more than earned your respect and support, and only the most venal and petty sort of person does not see that. And the sort of person who would ride the rise of the Republicans into majority, largely on the work of George W. Bush, but then threaten to sink the ship if they don’t get to set the course and seize conmand from the rightful captain, well folks that’s nothing but a dirty, low-down mutineer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The President’s Speech, Part 6 – Summary: Where Do We Go From Here?


I deliberately took my time in discussing the different parts of the May 15 speech by President Bush on Immigration and Border Security Reform. As I have said, but many ignore, this is actually several complex and heated issues, which need to be separated for proper attention and action. We need to address Border Security, Alien Entry Protocols, and Immigration Reform. We have to decide on a consistent strategy for each, determine the broad overview of how each would work, and how we will pay for it. And we have to shut down the mob attitude, so that the adults can get some work done. I’m not saying people can’t do their ‘shout n stomp’ act if that is something they fell they must indulge, but the name-calling and scare-mongering does not deserve any attention from decision-makers, to say nothing of the focus these feces-flingers are demanding. To recall the old adage, just because you can put a dog in a ballgown does not make it a debutante.

I have mentioned that valid entrants into the United States are actually five classes; Citizens, Legal Residents, Work-Authorized Visitors, Education-Authorized Visitors, and General Temporary Visitors, like tourists. This implies that Illegals may similarly be classified into separate groups, depending on the threat level they represent. Also, any plan to address the problem must deal with three large demographics; Illegals still in the U.S., local law enforcement, and the many millions who still want to get here. One common trait of the foam-faced ranters, is that they toss off bumper-sticker solutions with not a thought to the ramifications of their implementation. Not a word about how laws which have not been enforced for decades, will now suddenly be made to work. Not a word about how to sell additional bureaucracy to small businesses already fed up with federal red tape, expense and obstacles. Not a word about how law enforcement is expected to observe civil rights while treating one race to a secondary standard in actual practice. Not a word about the allocation of resources, deciding between known threats and hypothetical ones for delivery of tools and monies. And not a word about the political reality of a party determined to make political gain by casting the governing party in a racist light, regardless of the actual facts.

So OK, we realize the cranky children aren’t discussing the problems. What do the adults do? First, it needs the right focus. Americans are very good at finding pragmatic yet moral solutions, so the lead belongs with us, the average Joes and Janes, to tell them what we expect and why. Be polite, be direct, and be specific. And be reasonable; for whatever reason, we should be ready to accept half a loaf instead of a whole, and incremental improvements if we cannot get a major initiative. And the things we should be able to agree on, are not really controversial for most folks:

• Control the border with sensors, surveillance, and yes, a good fence
• DHS needs to provide profiles of the most dangerous threats coming across our border, be it terrorist cells, violent gangs, drug cartels, or something else. Let’s see budgets and specific teams set up to act on the best information about the worst threats.
• A Guest Worker program provides a strong incentive for foreigners to participate in identification and documentation processes, which makes location and deportation much easier, should that become necessary. Establish reasonable temporary terms of permits, but with clear enforcement parameters.
• Let’s review the whole thing annually, and adjust, fix, or replace whatever is not working as advertised.

But do not wait for the media to get on board; we have to lead ourselves. Do not trust Congress to do the right thing, but make your intentions known. And whatever happens, pick a side and stick with it. If you cannot accept a serious responsibility to support the Republicans and work for their gain, then be honest enough to understand that you are by default choosing to support the Democrats and working for their control. In the primaries and at your local level, you can and certainly should support and advance the ideals you hold true, and work for the candidates which match your ideals. But once it’s time for the General Election, you are on one side or the other, and pretending not supporting Republicans will do anything good for the country is both dishonest and mutinous. Not once in History has losing control of Congress or reduced strength after an election led Republicans to become more Conservative, or responsive to their constituents. Quite the opposite; the historical model shows over and over again, that when Republicans lose seats they inevitably think the public prefers the Democrats, and so more and more Republicans start to act like Democrats. That is the sole effect of sitting out an election if you are a Conservative; more Democrat control and less Republican courage. It’s the way of Gerald Ford, not Reagan or Dubya.

The Lady Grieves


As some of you may know, the Anchoress has suffered a death in her family. I had mentioned her Brother-In-Law’s illness briefly earlier this past week, but the cancer was more aggressive than I had expected; a mixed blessing and curse, having it end so suddenly, both the suffering and the life. It is beyond mortal men to understand such things, but please pray for her family and solace in this time, if you would.

Rights? You Ain’t Got No Stinking Rights!


A couple days ago, the Houston City Council approved moving forward with the installation of “red-light” cameras at 10 initial intersections. The Council noted that if the program is successful (meaning, if it makes money), they intend to increase the program to 50 intersections within a few years. The vote was close, 8-6, but at least some of those who voted ‘no’ did not do so out of respect for the voters, but because they wanted to use a different vendor.

In the same meeting, City Council also voted to spend tax money for a center alleged to help illegal aliens find work in Houston, thus further confirming the socialist, ignore-the-Constitution character of Houston’s regime. Need I mention that the Council is heavily Democrat in partisanship, as is Mayor Bill White?

Last May, Blog Houston noted the lies in the city’s claims about safety, as well as the fact that the city is aware that red-light cameras are likely to result in more accidents, not fewer, because of timing of the lights.

Let me say plainly here, that I am not at all opposed to catching people for running red lights. I have had some close calls from people who ran red lights, and in 1994 I was broad-sided by a drunk driver who ran a red light (he was also speeding, with his lights off in the middle of the night, but never mind). The problem is, I regard traffic law as a criminal matter, because it is supposed to be driven by concerns of conduct and safety, not revenue. After all, either you are driving in a manner which is safe and sober, or you are not. If you are over the line, whether you are driving drunk, or recklessly, or in an unsafe car, or at an unsafe speed, or in any way putting the safety of others in peril, you have broken a law in terms of criminal conduct, a misdemeanor or felony depending on its severity. The red-light cameras, however, are being treated as civil fines, in the same way as parking violations, because this avoids facing the Constitutional responsibilities the city would otherwise have to address. Little details like being able to subpoena witnesses, challenge evidence, face your accusers, and that small matter of the presumption of innocence – the red-light cameras allow none of that. You are presumed guilty and payment is expected immediately. This is, when examined, a chilling concept, that basic constitutional rights can be denied in the pursuit of revenue. And I am appalled that any elected official would countenance such a brazen usurpation of Justice.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

World-Class Judo: How Dubs Is Taking Down Madmen and Mullahs


A common complaint from the Left, is that George W. Bush is pursuing an American Empire, a “New World Order” as envisioned by his father with Americans running everything. While I admit that there is a certain logic and nationalistic appeal to that notion, I must be clear that such claims fail to understand the nature of the contention, that the United States is pursuing goals not for its sole benefit, but for the welfare of everyone concerned.

I mentioned in an article yesterday, that people love Conspiracy theories, and the War in Iraq has certainly seen its share of supposed plots. It needs to be understood, however, that the other side has their own plots, which are in this matter quite real and important to understand as a point of reference for planning. The War in Iraq was necessary and critical to U.S. interests for four strategic reasons:

The Consensus of the Intelligence Community, was that Saddam Hussein held stockpiles of WMD and was likely to use such weapons unless he was removed by force. The Conventional Wisdom of the modern day laughs at this point, but when the decision was cast in 2003, the best available information from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Intelligence Service, the DGSE, SVR, Mossad, and BND all concurred that Iraq was building up WMD stockpiles, and presented a threat to the region because of it. While the Left sniggers at the lack of discovered stockpiles, this to me is a serious concern, since the expectation of such stockpiles came not from political advocacy of such a finding, but from the available evidence, testimony from a number of sources, and of course from the historical proof – I have not forgotten the dead of Halabja, killed by confirmed WMD use by Saddam, or the nine other documented uses of WMD during the 1980s. Saddam was known to have WMD, and to use them. Further, one should recall that at the end of the first Gulf War, inspectors were stunned to find Iraq’s Nuclear Weapons program much further along than anyone had expected. I am frankly suspicious of cross-border traffic in early 2003 between Iraq and Iran, and between Iraq and Syria. I am suspicious of how quickly Iran was able to enrich uranium, and what, exactly, may be buried in Syria. I am also reminded of tales about things dumped into the rivers just before the Americans arrived, so that people preferred to travel long distances to wells rather than risk using river water. My point is not to contend any particular claim, except to remind the reader that the Intelligence Services had pretty much all reached the same conclusion from the evidence (later contrary assertions were just that, political backtracking after the fact), and in that context, action was the appropriate decision.

Iraq represented a threat to the region, and to the United States. The Baath Party represented the wing of extremist nationalism for Arabs in the mold of Nasser. A lot of people do not realize, even now, that the Baath party extended beyond one country, and effectively represented Arab’s version of Socialism. Regime change in Iraq had been official policy for the United States since 1998; the official act noted twelve distinct reasons why Saddam should be removed from power, including the use of Chemical Weapons, multiple attempts to invade neighboring countries, an attempt to assassinate President G.H.W. Bush, and the deliberate violation of cease-fire terms. In the context of a post-9/11 world, this policy rose in significance and urgency.

Iraq was a known supporter of international terrorism. Following the first Gulf War, some of the documents discovered revealed that Iraq had commissioned attacks on allied governments by terrorist groups. Also, even after the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein continued to maintain and cultivate ties with known terrorist groups, for the purpose of destabilizing the region. Abu Nidal was found in Iraq. So was Carlos the Jackal. And the same with Abu Abbas, who masterminded the Achille Lauro hijacking. The U.S. Joint Forces Command released a report which noted that Iraqi Intelligence paid for and even helped supply a “Division 27” camp which trained terrorists between 1994 and 2003, along with several other camps specializing in terrorism. Fighting the war on International Terrorism, therefore, required invading Iraq.

But there is yet another level to the decision, which a lot of people never touch in thought. The rise of Jihadism in the Middle East has been a growing threat for several decades, and the best course to stopping Jihadism is to counter it with Democracy. That’s right, George W. Bush wanted Democracy in the Middle East from the beginning of his Presidency. From a February 2000 interview with Jim Lehrer, Bush stated:

“the region tends to be a place where weapons of mass destruction or the proliferation of terrorist activities seem to be emanating from, and it's important for us to recognize that.”

And when it was clear that the U.S.-led Coalition would be forced to invade Iraq in 2003, Bush explained his reasons:

“The safety of the American people depends on ending this direct and growing threat. Acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to the long-term safety and stability of our world. The current Iraqi regime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions”

In answer to the claim that the Middle East could not support Democracy, President Bush was resolute:

“There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. Well, they were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistaken.”

In actual fact, President Bush is once again ahead of the curve. He understood the root causes of the first Gulf War, and so set his plans for the war he saw coming, even though he could not know the way in which it would begin. Accordingly, by the time fools like Ahmadinejad began to make their play, they found their ambitions already blocked by the crafty Texan. None of the key aggressor states, whether Iran or Syria or anyone else, can move without hitting a trip wire, and the U.S. forces in the region have repeatedly shown they are more than up to the challenge of any extant forces. Any country determined to mount a Jihad in the style of Big Moe would therefore be compelled to demonstrate itself the offender in a war of conquest. Yes, Iran thinks to gain Nuclear Weapons, but I suspect the country already has them and is now discovering that they are not the trump card to their ambitions. Worse for the Iranian government, the U.S. is engaged in the sort of warfare which the Jihad finds hardest to fight – the debate of ideals in countless internet and university forums, and in the world marketplace where a person of intelligence and integrity can easily find a niche better suited for him than anything a Mullah can offer, at least the ones whose only answer is violence.

In Judo, you use your opponent’s own size and weight against him. For a long time, our enemies practiced this against the United States, but Dubs is a leader who understands how to make this work to the American advantage. So have a Coke and a smile, sit back in your Wrangler’s and remind your friends to vote Republican – it’s how we win, as a country and for the region as a whole.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Conspiracy Theories


I love a good conspiracy theory movie. No, I don’t mean “The DaVinci Code”. After all, I did specify “good” movie. No, I’m writing about “National Treasure”, where (basically) Nicolas Cage steals the Declaration of Independence to continue a series of clues (don’t worry, he gives it back) to find a fantastic treasure. Literally fantastic, most people in the film figure Cage’s character (“Benjamin Franklin Gates”) is imagining the treasure. Cage manages to outwit the villain, win the girl, find the treasure and basically give it away to the world at large by the time the end credits roll. The premise is as faulty as John Kerry’s Cambodia Adventure recollections, but the action rolls along, and Cage is a superb actor in this genre, so the film works well as entertainment.

Naturally though, I found myself revisiting various conspiracy theories, starting with the Freemasons. Wow, there are a lot of people blaming things on them! One site I found actually claimed that every single war ever fought since the time of Christ was begun by the Freemasons. The sheer number of conspiracy sites, and the fevered pitch of their believers, struck me as strangely reminiscent of certain political sites, which also were possessed of the most irrational opinions.

It’s a lot of fun, actually, coming up with conspiracy theories. First off, you get to feel intellectually superior to other people; I note that a lot of conspiracy theorists are none too kind in their opinion of the average person’s intelligence. Also, you get to play ‘hero’ in your fantasy – the theorists always like to portray themselves as brave and intrepid trailblazers to the Truth, even when all they are doing is repeating a rumor someone else started. And best of all, you get to hate – theorists always get a good hate on, usually blaming someone in an elected position either for ‘hiding the truth’ is they can’t be shown to be active in the conspiracy itself.

Now, some readers who have read my work for a while might point out that I actually hold certain conspiracies as true myself. That’s part of what makes the deal work for the fanatics. A certain percentage of the claims will turn out to be true, though not quite as they are claimed and not quite to the nefarious degree that their adherents pretend. For instance, it should be obvious that there really was a conspiracy on 9/11 - it’s just disappointing for the theorists to discover that the conspirators in actual fact were bin Ladan, Atta, and that gang, rather than the U.S. Government. It should be obvious that there was a conspiracy behind the Cold War – the Communists launched a long-term campaign to destabilize the West, through espionage and active disinformation programs. The problem for the conspiracy theorists, of course, is that the truth is not spicy enough, and so they choose to blame more prominent and upstanding targets. A good example is Bill Clinton. I know, I know, the guy had his share of serious moral conflicts, to phrase it as delicately as I can, but do you remember all the totally whacked-out theories, like Clinton murdering Vince Foster or having Ron Brown killed? And then, of course, there were all those “Millenium” theories, about how Clinton would set up martial law using the Millenium Bug as an excuse. I mean, in retrospect it is easy to see how silly those theories were, but in their day they had a lot of people talking. And it is not hard at all to imagine how theorists would find a way to blame 9/11 and the War on Terrorism on George W. Bush.

The Corpse Has Assumed Room Temperature


A while back, I noted that I respected the site owner of Polipundit, for keeping contact information for the others in the group, even after our fellowship was done.

This morning, I visited PP as a courtesy call, and note that not only have the e-mail addresses been updated to include Oak Leaf and the former group members have been removed, which is completely reasonable, but all references to my and Lorie's sites have been removed. Accordingly, I can now in good conscience remove Polipundit from my own blogroll. Let me clear that I still appreciate the opportunity given to me for two years to blog there, and I wish the siteowner full measure of success and good fortune, once his sanity returns. However, as some of my readers have observed, the siteowner of PP has maligned the President in the falsest terms, and has waged a malicious campaign against his character for no cause. While every blogger has the right to state his or her opinion, I am under no constraint to lend even my modest influence to anyone who so engages in conduct which befouls the President, our party, and our nation as is the case with Polipundit.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Free Republic posted a link to a piece by Pukin Dog, to answer the question What Has President Bush Done For America?

READ THE WHOLE THING, but here are a few of my favorites from that long and well-written list:

* Banned Partial Birth Abortion — by far the most significant roll-back of abortion on demand since Roe v. Wade.

*.Requires states to conduct criminal background checks on prospective foster and adoptive parents.

* Signed the Teacher Protection Act, which protects teachers from lawsuits related to student discipline.

* Signed two income tax cuts, one of which was the largest dollar-value tax cut in world history.

* Supports permanent elimination of the death tax.

* In process of permanently eliminating IRS marriage penalty.

* Initiated discussion on privatizing Social Security and individual investment accounts.

* Killed Clinton's "ergonomic" rules that OSHA was about to implement; rules would have shut down every home business in America.

* Increased the annual contribution limit on Education IRA's from $500 to $2,000 per child.

* Reduced H1B visas from a high of 195,000 per year to 66,000 per year.

* Changed the tone in the White House, restoring HONOR and DIGNITY to the presidency.

* On Friday, September 14, 2001, President Bush visited Ground Zero. Someone handed him a small American flag and bullhorn. The President spontaneously shouted: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." The crowd roared with cheers and chants of "USA! USA! USA!" Then he raised that American flag and rallied a nation.

* Requires annual reading and math tests in grades three through eight.

* Increased funding for the Troops-to-Teachers program, which recruits former military personnel to to become teachers.

* Killed the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty.

* Successfully executed two wars in the aftermath of 9/11/01: Afghanistan and Iraq. 50 million people who had lived under tyrannical regimes now live in freedom.

* Saddam Hussein is now in prison. His two murderous sons are dead. All but a handful of the regime's senior members were killed or captured.

* Initiated a comprehensive review of our military, which was completed just prior to 9/11/01, and which accurately reported that ASYMMETRICAL WARFARE capabilities were critical in the 21st Century.

* Killed the old US/Soviet Union ABM Treaty that was preventing the U.S. from deploying our ABM defenses.

* Pushed through THREE raises for our military. Increased military pay by more than $1 billion a year.

* Signed the LARGEST nuclear arms reduction in world history with Russia.

* Started withdrawing our troops from Bosnia, and has announced withdrawal of our troops from Germany and the Korean DMZ.

* Prohibited putting U.S. troops under U.N. command.

* Ordered renovation of military housing. The military has already upgraded about 10 percent of its inventory and expects to modernize 76,000 additional homes this year.

* Brought back our EP-3 intel plane and crew from China without any bribes or bloodshed.

* Killed U.S. involvement in the International Criminal Court.

* Initiated review of all federal agencies with the goal of eliminating federal jobs (completed September 2003) in an effort to reduce the size of the federal government while increasing private sector jobs.

* Led the most extensive reorganization the Federal bureaucracy in over 50 years: After 9/11, condensed 20+ overlapping agencies and their intelligence sectors into one agency, the Department of Homeland Security.

* Double the research budget of the National Institutes of Health.

* New Health Savings Accounts: Effective January 1, 2004, Americans can set aside up to $4,500 every year, tax free, to save for medical expenses. Depending on your tax bracket, that means you'll save between 10 to 35 percent on any costs covered by money in your account. Every year, the money not spent would stay in the account and gain interest tax-free, just like an IRA. These accounts will be good for small business owners, and employees. More businesses can focus on covering workers for major medical problems, such as hospitalization for an injury or illness. At the same time, employees and their families will use these accounts to cover doctors visits, or lab tests, or other smaller costs. Some employers will contribute to employee health accounts. This will help more American families get the health care they need at the price they can afford.

* Has CONSTRUCTION in process on the first 10 ABM silos in Alaska so that America will have a defense against North Korean nukes. Has ordered national and theater ballistic missile defenses to be deployed by 2004.

* Announced a 9.7% increase in government-wide homeland security funding in his FY 2005 budget, nearly tripling the FY 2001 levels (excluding the Department of Defense and Project BioShield).

* The Border Patrol is continuing installation of monitoring devices along the borders to detect illegal activity.

* Launched Operation Tarmac to investigate businesses and workers in the secure areas of domestic airports and ensure immigration law compliance. Since 9/11, DHS has audited 3,640 businesses, examined 259,037 employee records, arrested 1,030 unauthorized workers, and participated in the criminal indictment of 774 individuals.

* Since September 11, 2001, the Coast Guard has conducted more than 124,000 port security patrols, 13,000 air patrols, boarded more than 92,000 vessels, interdicted over 14,000 individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally, and created and maintained more than 90 Maritime Security Zones.

* Information regarding nearly 100% of all containerized cargo is carefully screened by DHS before it arrives in the United States. Higher risk shipments are physically inspected for terrorist weapons and contraband prior to being released from the port of entry. Advanced technologies are being deployed to identify warning signs of chemical, biological, or radiological attacks. Since September 11, 2001, hundreds of thousands of first responders across America have been trained to recognize and respond to the effects of a WMD attack.

* Is nominating strong, conservative judges to the judiciary.

* Supports class action reform bill which limits lawyer fees so that more settlement money goes to victims.

* Committed US funds to purchase medicine for millions of men, women and children now suffering with AIDS in Africa.

This is a very, very, very good President we have in office.

Read the Whole Thing. What I posted was just a taste.

Peculiar Polls, the President, and Prejudice

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It’s so secret that I support President George W. Bush. And it’s also no secret that many people with large egos and small morals hate him. And sadly, it’s become all too obvious that many who nominally claim to be Conservatives have decided to join forces with the Left and attack their own leader. Even when they pretend to objectivity, the same partisans find ways to slander the man. A recent example can be found in the otherwise sober “Real Clear Politics”, which is on my blogroll as a barometer for the Blogosphere.

Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute has written a hit piece on the President, and like so many before it, it is disguised as an analysis of the opinion polls. The giveaway is the second sentence in the piece, which asks:

“Simply put, are Americans fed up with Bush's brand of conservatism, or skeptical about the president's competence, his ability to make the trains run on time?”

In truth, neither of those claims is correct, nor are these fair starting points for addressing the underlying issues. Mr. Brown begins with a rhetorical variant of the old Prosecuting Attorney joke; ‘Have you stopped beating your wife, yes or no?’, which demands a response which denies innocence or honor to the witness under attack.

A bit further in, a lurking vestige of honesty pops up in Brown’s article, as he is forced to admit “At this point it is not clear from the polling data exactly why the public has gone so sour on the president.” Brown refuses however, to consider the obvious possibility that the reason the polls do not make sense, is because many of them have been manipulated, and the others start with false assumptions. Brown, like so many myopic academicians, begins with certain favorite assumptions, and refuses to test them. And as stale a saying as it may be, Brown would be well-advised to recall the truth behind ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’.

So let’s start by looking at these opinion polls with which Brown is so enamoured. First, is it really necessary to point out that Bush’s numbers, ever so slowly, are rising now, not falling? Yes, I guess it is. Okay, the first thing to understand is that polls pay attention to each other – they’ll never admit it, but I have noticed how once one poll asks a certain question, the others tend to copy it if there seems to be good response. Also, the polls – and I know they will deny this, but I see the pattern so I’m saying it – tend to move like birds do; someone takes the lead and the others follow. There are exceptions, of course, but I suspect that Heisenberg was also right with respect to polling; the people running the poll are trying to be objective, but they influence the results whether they mean to or not. Certainly, with the MSM blaring out previous poll results whenever they make Bush look bad, we’re starting with a contaminated sample. Especially when you understand that we are not talking about confirmed voters from the last election, or even likely voters by their own identification, but often just “adults”, with no query to even find out if they’re registered to vote.

Anyway, back to trends. Using the RCP polling archives for Job Approval polls, even if we weight each poll evenly for accuracy (which is not a valid assumption, but never mind), the polls show clear improvement in the President's Approval ratings in the past half-month. By counting the poll measure for the days in which the poll was conducted, I have worked out the following course of average approvals:

May 13 -15 : 33% Approval
May 16-17 : 35% Approval
May 18 : 36% Approval
May 19-21 : 37% Approval
May 26-28 : 38% Approval

That’s a steady rise over the past two weeks, in spite of the worst efforts of the MSM, the Democrats, and a depressingly high number of Republicans to defame the man. Also, I need to point out that the context of the poll numbers is important – too many people cast the approval numbers like it’s a grade in school – you need a 70% or better just to ‘pass’, and only something in the 90-plus range is an ‘A’. In truth, by historical measures anything over 55% would be excellent, and for a Republican anything at or above 50% is truly impressive. Two of our last ten elections put a President in office with only 43% of the Popular Vote, and in the two last elections, Dubs took a good deal more than that. I mention this because ultimately, a real election is the best barometer for approval of a candidate or official. I also observe that no poll has been honest enough to match George W. Bush in a hypothetical match-up against would-be Primary or General Election opponents. Yes, the pollsters would be quick to remind me that President Bush is not running in an election again, but then they certainly seem to be comparing subjective numbers against his actual election results, so I would remind them the same – the President is not running again, for any office, and so has little reason to worry about pleasing special interests or rabid reactionaries.
I also think, however, it might be interesting to look at Congressional Approval numbers for this same date range:

May 13 -15 : 33% Approval
May 16-17 : 27% Approval
May 18 : 28% Approval
May 19-21 : 29% Approval
May 26-28 : no data yet

So as of May 13, Congress was where Bush was, but while Bush has rebounded steadily, Congress slipped a bit and has not regained what it lost, even from weak numbers. And please note, these low numbers for Congress do NOT include reaction to the arrogance shown after the Jefferson search warrant. Funny how that fact, that the President’s numbers are rising while Congress’ are falling, gets no play at all. Imagine that.

Just something to keep in mind.

A Reminder – The Wolf Is Always At The Door


Athena at “Terrorism Unveiled” wrote about Rita Katz, whose book “Terrorist Hunter”, revealed conspiracies against the United States and treasonous venom being driven against us in mosques on our own soil.

Athena notes that Ms. Katz did a lot of undercover work to detail the funneling of American money meant to help children, to terrorist causes. Athena says “She’s a hero, in my opinion”. I concur, and so commend this article to your attention.

Television and Politics


Monday evening, I was writing this column as my wife sat watching a Chinese movie, and in another room my daughter was watching “Scooby Doo”. What we all had in common at that moment, is that we were all staring at an electronic screen. Television in its various forms is an integral part of our lives, whether we like it or not. This is most unfortunate in its effect on Politics.

A certain Newsweek writer, whom I do not hold in high enough regard to want to give him attention, has written on the Internet and Politics, throwing out the old notion that JFK was elected in large part because he “mastered” Television, just as “FDR mastered Radio". This writer continued to bubble with enthusiasm about how well various Democrats, especially Liberal ones, have done with popular mediums, as if no Republican knew what to do with a microphone or a camera, or more to the point, as if Style should always trump Substance.

But it would be incorrect to deny Television its victories. Cronkite lied about Vietnam after Tet, and poisoned our effort there. Dan Rather and Mike Wallace have been veritable scorpions in the infant’s crib of public discourse, as far too many people depend on the main channels and networks for their understanding of events, even now. John Kerry got far too close to the White House, and Gore before him, than either man had any reason to hope, and their ally was Television.

We talk about the New Media, but it’s still wearing diapers, folks. The Blogosphere sounds to most people like a sound you make when you sneeze, and the Internet has not established itself for credibility or meaningful discourse. For all the growth, political blogs still amount to less influence than does the National Enquirer, and those blogs which tolerate, much less promote, reader comments and a group forum style of debate on the issues of the day, remain largely ignored, inconvenient noise in the minds of those Celebrities who think our place is to nod eagerly, and of course go out and buy their book. Does Michelle Malkin really think she represents Free Speech, or that closing comments completely has not reduced the freshness of her environment at her blog? I don’t think so, but then she is a nationally syndicated columnist with some eager publishers waiting to put out her work. Does Hugh Hewitt really think that selling t-shirts is a good way to sway Congress on the pressing national issues? Again, I don’t really think so, but I’m not a radio talk show host with his own line of eager publishers to market his latest work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Malkin and Hewitt are wrong on their opinion. I agree with them both quite often - except the Illegals issue, where Malkin could really do to lay off the caffeinated beverages while she writes on that subject - but as successful as they are in the Blogosphere, it happened because they made their name in the Old Media to some degree, and pulled their audience over with them. I have not yet found a major Conservative who pulls millions of hits a day, who mainly established himself as a Blogger. It will happen, I am sure, but for here and now it’s important to understand that our medium is still small and generally ignored by those who consider themselves important. We have had some successes, and on moral grounds we are in very good shape, but for now Goliath is still standing, and laughing at the little guy with the sling shot.

So what does this mean for the near future? For one thing, it means every time some so-called Republican attacks his party and his leadership in public, he helps a Democrat replace a Republican, and that is in no way excusable. It means that what voice we Conservative bloggers do have, should be united in its temper and civility, even where we disagree. It means that the old dragon of Television, which sees the death throes of the Old Print Media in the hemorraghing revenues at the New York Times and similar regimes, is afraid for its life, but rather than reform it attempts to destroy what it sees as a rival. This means banal bills in Congress to try controlling the Internet, and with it rein in Free Speech by those whose voice is the most independent. This means that as small as my little bog is, it is seen as a threat by every Status Quo newsroom editor and bureaucrat in D.C.

Fortunately, there is also good news. Blogging is fresh, with a flavor unlike anywhere else, and it carries an honesty which people are beginning to understand has died from the print and broadcast media. And while CBS and other old-guard regimes have started their own blogs, they are even less inclined to allow comments, and thus genuine discourse, than the current Blogging Celebrities like Malkin and Hewitt are willing to grant. Lame doesn’t sell, even for free. And in the end, that might prove to be the Achilles heel for the TV giant. And I will be happy to test that theory. All I need is to keep finding a few smooth stones ...

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Armed Forces Color Guard presents the Colors at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Memorial Day program, in Washington on May 29, 2006. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch)

Walk Around The World


Every year, the President of the United States delivers a message to Congress, called the State of the Union Address. This is done for a variety of reasons, but is unfortunately all too necessary in this ADD culture we see. All too often, people only believe what the MSM has told them is the news, and only if it was news in the past week or so. It occurs to me that a brief examination of world stability and conditions is worth a look. For this article, I am only concerned with the risk of a nation becoming a threat to the United States, and therefore it must overlook some significant observations in that focus.

Let’s begin with Europe, which has always considered itself the center of the universe. The experiment of a federal union has not worked well for the Euros; France is still fighting riots, Germany and the Netherlands have seen their own Immigration cowardice come home to roost, and Spain has begnu to find out what sort of government they chose, and they are not happy. The people have been worried about the Avian Flu, but it seems to me they should be a lot more worried about the Stupidity Flu; even the Brits have gone barmy of late, at least where their military commitments and welfare are concerned. It’s got a real ‘1936’ feel to the place, the way these guys go out of their way to avoid offending Abominable Mr. Ahmahdinejad, the Mad Mahdi-pretender.

Still in Europe, but rolling to the East, there’s a strange mix of courage and the police state. The nations of Poland, Ukraine, and the Slavic countries are showing a real taste for democracy, and a flair to match. The Balkans, sad to say, are still playing vendetta on an international scale, and the Russians seem to be tuning up to replay Stalin’s Greatest Hits, with Putin all too happy to blame every ill on Chechnya.

Since we’re headed that way, roll on East some more to Asia. The major players there are pretty much all on the coast. China, of course, is sensible enough to know that wars are expensive and risky, and so they are playing the ‘Joe Isuzu’ card and trying their darndest to draw in some Euros and Dollars. The two Koreas are pretty much continuing to head in different directions, with South Korea impressing the heck out of everyone, and North Korea threatening everyone on a regular basis. Japan continues to be overly impressed with itself, a nation with tremendous potential and achievements, but whose refusal to honestly address their own past keeps tripping them up. The Philippines are frankly a disappointment, having held some great potential and received many opportunities, but they have become timid and are reacting to most conditions in the same short-sighted way that we see in Thailand and Myanmar.

On to the Middle East then, where Israel is our most arrogant important ally, and Iran is the most arrogant of our important enemies. Iraq is a much greater success than most people think, Saudi Arabia is a much bigger worry than most people realize, and the U.A.E. is a much better ally than almost anyone is willing to admit. The oil, as I mentioned before, is running out, at least in the ME, but other than that, the only strange thing in the Middle Eastern context, is that Queen Noor seems to have the hots for Al Gore. No accounting for taste ...

As for Africa, thanks to the U.N. almost no progress where it is needed most. Those stable countries which exist are trying to avoid “help” from the United Nations, which almost always leads to starvation, corruption, and war.

Australia remains as it ever was; the only nation on Earth to have mangled the English language worse than the Americans have done, and to have less of an idea how to cook food than the English do. Beyond that, Australia feels the need to prove its independence every so often, by deliberately thumbing its nose at, well, just about the whole rest of the world. Some see a glass as half-full, others as half-empty, but the Aussies usually see it as a reason to start a barfight.

On then to South America, which hasn’t really changed much in stability terms. Brazil and Argentina have a loud say in things, and the Socialists/Communists/WhateverTheyCallThemNow’s are still trying to start a continental revolution. With Castro’s Paradise in plain view, I’d call that a hard sell, escept that there’s always a market for ‘Standing Up To America’, whetever that means in actual fact.

Central America is a truck wreck, or it is if the trucks involved were carying toxic waste and the drivers and passengers at the scene were zombies. “Government” is a real loose term in between the state palaces and the city slums, with corruption and extortion on a scale with which only Kofi Annan would be at home.

And finally, back to the good ole’ North America. Mexico is still dreaming its ‘Revolucion’ fantasy, but Canada seems to be waking up. And Congress? Well, I’ve said enough about corruption and arrogance in other places. What goes on in D.C. is not nearly as bad as some of the places I’ve mentioned, but even a quick glance at how Congress has reacted to Rep. Jefferson’s situation is sadly telling. A conviction by accident, almost. That, and the fact that so many people still want to blame the President for doing things he never did, saying things he never said, and for not doing things which were never in his power anyway, makes me wonder whether I should not revisit this whole ‘stability’ question closer to home.

Happy Hot Dog Day folks, and if you happen to know someone who’s worn or wearing the uniform, you might say ‘thanks’.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

In Memory Of The Unknown


Don’t get me wrong, soldiers get a bad deal from the countries they serve. Kipling more than a few times rebuked the Crown for the way in which soldiers were only parsied when the crisis was at hand, and forgotten the moment the treaty was signed. We celebrate Memorial Day and a few other holidays in guilty acknowledgement that we do not nearly thank our men and women in uniform sufficiently for their sacrifices. But there is a group, forgotten when they are not being maligned, who deserve a moment of consideration at least. I am speaking of the Intelligence Community.

That sneering you hear is from a variety of people, including some vets whose opinion of Intel has been built on some bad experiences - I know more than one guy who remarked that ‘they are willing to bet our lives on their guess’, and that criticism is valid. Still, Intelligence can be and has often been well done, for which the reward is silence.

It can be difficult, writing about Intelligence people in specific. They can’t talk about much of their work, and most wouldn’t say much even if they were allowed, for the same sorts of reasons veterans are not gabby about war. The few people I know in the business are silent on details. You can figure out some stuff by what they leave out of conversation. I figured out one guy, who was always talking about Middle East events, was assigned there when he suddenly had no interest in the subject. And sometimes you can figure out a snip or two of their background by the people they know, and how old some of those relationships go. I knew, for example, that a lot of Intel people began in the Military - no surprise there, each service has an Intel branch, and it’s no shock that the CIA likes to cherry-pick stars in the field when they find them. And I knew that some agencies, NSA most notably, like to find talent in academia - if you’ve been on the Dean’s List at a major school with a major in the Science, odds are Fort Meade has a file on you. But especially where the Middle East is concerned, a few other agencies have been recruiting in some unlikely places - my father, for instance, had more than a few interviews with the State Department before and after trips to the Middle East and Southeast Asia during the 1970s and 1980s. his work took him to countries with difficult relations with the U.S., but who still wanted professionals like Project Engineers for their businesses. You find HUMINT where you can, you know?

But I wanted to mention here, some of the unsung victories of U.S. Intelligence; the prevailing mood makes it unlikely indeed that the Media or the Congress would think of them was honorable men, much less praise them for their work. yet it should be remembered that we know what we do about Al Qaeda because of Intelligence professionals; we have removed countless cells from Europe and Asis because Intelligence found out where they were. And that little detail about us not being attacked by another 9/11 on U.S. soil, in large part comes from the hard work of the agencies; it is no coincidence. And even now, as things in Iraq and Afghanistan either improve or continue as they have been doing, there are men in Iran and Syria and Libya right now, risking their lives to find the next threat against America and the means to thwart it. They deserve, at the least, to be remembered, even if their names cannot be mentioned.

Oldest Guy In The Room


We had to do some shopping today, and for a number of reasons far too boring to relay here, we stopped in at a Petco store. First off, I gotta say that if you want to take proper care of your varmint - er, animal companion, you should really see this place. Anyway, while Mikki & Jagan were looking around at this and that, I found myself looking at this cat. Back at the cat, actually; he had been giving me the stare ever since I came into the place.

At first, I couldn’t quite figure out the deal about that cat. Why he was so focused on me, and why I should care. Long story there, but basically we are not a cat family - I like cats well enough, but as for getting one for a pet, no I will pass thank you.

But there I was, staring back at the sober gaze of a grey tomcat in the “Rescue” section, where Petco tries to find homes for strays and abandoned animals. He didn’t seem distraught or even particularly unhappy, except that something was definitely on his mind.

Then it hit me. This old tomcat was somewhere near middle age for a cat. Surely he’d seen his share of adventures and life experience. But he was surrounded by about eight or so kittens, all of whom were bouncing around, doing the mindlessly cute things kittens do. And it was driving him crazy. At once I understood.

The cat was silently pleading with me, with anybody, to get him separated from the kittens. I could almost hear him saying “Look, I don’t want to complain, and yes, they are as cute as the dickens, but there’s not a cogent thought among the lot of them, and they don’t have a clue about the world. I feel like I’m the only one here without a lobotomy.”

And then I remembered my 46th birthday is coming up on Tuesday, and lately I have shared much the same opinion of people I encounter as that cat does of his fellow felines. I may not be a ‘cat person’, but I respect my fellow fogies.