Saturday, July 01, 2006

Congressional Polls In Perspective

I took a look over at Polling Report, to see how the Congressional Races were doing, and I noticed something interesting. If you look at the standings, Democrats are leading the Republicans in generic ballots, which is kind of like pitting Batman against The Punisher in a comic book battle; we’re not exactly looking at real people, so you have to be careful reading fact in the thing. Even so, here’s the tracking:

June 38% Republican, 50% Democrat

May 35% Republican, 49% Democrat

Why is this interesting? The Republican Party in general is climbing faster than the Democrats in general. Given the advantages the Democrats enjoyed during May and early June, the shift here shows that the public is moving back towards a balance. It gets better when you consider the battleground states, where neither party should have a clear edge. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are all pretty much “grey” states. And given the need for Democrats to do better than make slight gains, this effective balance works more towards the Republicans’ favor than the Democrats. And obviously there is the clear result from California, as in District 50, an election being the clearest sort of poll.

What I am saying is what we are seeing all across the board; the Democrats might be able to make some gains, but it doesn’t look like it’s enough to give them control of either chamber. As we roll into Summer, it's also becoming clear that the Democrats refuse to change course, preferring to try riding a dead horse rather than admit a mistake.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Sing, Sing, Sing

Benny Goodman

Harry James

Gene Krupa


You gotta love it!

Term (inator) Two

Pawnking, an observant reader, pointed out a while back that Presidents have a lot of trouble during their second terms, which is very true – the term “lame duck” did not come from Daffy Duck cartoons, you know. Just off the top of my head, here are some of the second-term whammies Presidents have run into:

* George Washington had to contend with an armed rebellion by Pennsylvania farmers (the Whiskey Rebellion), and made a controversial decision to back neither France nor England in European war.

* Thomas Jefferson provoked an armed conflict with Spain over the Mexican territory. He also had serious personal financial difficulties and was politically weakened by the Sally Hemmings allegations.

* James Madison saw the United States invaded by Britain during his second term. He is not the only President who has had to chase down Congress to get them to do their job, but so far the only one who had to do so in the literal sense.

* James Monroe sent the U.S. Navy after pirates in the Caribbean, in cooperation with the British Navy. He was somewhat taken to task by the Congress for this, because he did not ask Congress’ authority to do so ahead of time.

* Andrew Jackson was censured by the U.S. Senate for withdrawing deposits to the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson was also criticized for sending troops to Argentina, Peru, and Mexico.

* Abraham Lincoln fell into arguments with Congress about the Reconstruction following the Civil War, and was assassinated early into his second term.

* Ulysses Grant sent soldiers into Mexico, and intervened in Hawaii. He was personally embarrassed by the Credit Mobilier scandal, in which a number of his appointees and colleagues, including Vice-President Schuyler Colfax, were accused.

* Teddy Roosevelt wrangled with Congress over troop deployments to Panama, troop garrison and assistance against a revolution in Cuba, and troops sent to Honduras. He was also embarrassed by allegations that he raised funds for his election in an unethical manner.

* Woodrow Wilson was strongly criticized for the U.S. entry into World War I, which divide the nation in opinion. Wilson also landed troops in China, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Soviet Russia, Dalmatia, Turkey and Honduras without Congressional approval or oversight.

* Franklin Roosevelt was condemned by a number of Congressmen and Senators for the Lend-Lease bases and supply treaties made with England during his second term.

* Dwight Eisenhower was criticized by Congress for sending troops to Lebanon, and to the Caribbean region near Cuba. He was also personally embarrassed by the U-2 incident in 1960 and his lack of support for Hungarian rebels trying to throw off Soviet rule.

* Richard Nixon, of course, was destroyed by the Watergate scandal.

* Ronald Reagan suffered defection of support from Republicans during his second term, especially during the Iran-Contra witchhunt. His second-term policies were commonly rejected even by his own party in craven attempts to protect their self-interest. A key example was the tepid support for Reagan’s 1986 reform of Immigration, which tied a limited amnesty to stricter and more effective border enforcement. The Congress simply ignored the inconvenient particulars.

* Bill Clinton was impeached during his second term, and plagued by a series of scandals concerning his professional and personal behavior. He was also sullied by the LORAL scandal (allowing the sale of cutting-edge satellite and nuclear technology to Communist China in direct violation of extant law) and several fund-raising improprieties, like the actions of Charlie Trie and John Huang. Clinton also was humiliated by disruption of the WTO conference of 1999, when anarchists managed to shut down Seattle for more than two days.

And that’s the fun enjoyed by Presidents who won a second term.

So what does this mean for Team Dubya? Well for one thing, it should be obvious that Dubya’s turbulence, however it is played by the media, is not nearly so rough as other Presidents have faced, and his performance in the conditions of a second term is relatively effective. Part of this is Bush’s clear nonchalance concerning his image, so long as he does what he considers right, a posture which irritates politicos but frees bush’s hands to act according to conscience rather than polling. It helps that Bush has made solid decisions along the way, and so can point to reason and results as he proceeds to subsequent courses in line with his ideals.

The last decision imposed on the country by the Supreme Court is another telling reminder – the Presidency, however potent, is only one arm of the American Government, and the blunders and arrogance of Congress or the Courts may be sufficient to blunt the accomplishments of even the greatest Commander-In-Chief.

But George W. Bush has not really fit the mold, much less the expectations, of the conventional man, not even the ordinary President. He has clearly better morals than Clinton or Nixon, better judgment in his appointments and doctrines than Eisenhower, Grant, or even Reagan, and he gets along much better with Congress than Teddy Roosevelt, Jackson, or Monroe. Comparing him with their self-created troubles is hardly reasonable, therefore. Also, Bush is humble in his designs, yet daring as well. He does not care particularly who gets the credit for a stable Iraq and Afghanistan, but he works hard to make it happen. He does not brag much, which hurts getting credit from the public, but he has done a lot for the Economy and for National Security. He thinks further ahead than most people, and certainly more deeply than most ever realize, which is why his judicial picks and doctrines are firmer and wiser than people will understand for years yet. I could hope Bush would play a shrewder game to help increase the Republican majority, but then I remember how everyone said in 2000 and again in 2002 and still again in 2004, that Dubya was in trouble. They were wrong then, and it’s rather likely that his opponents have once again misunderestimated the President.

Looking ahead to the conclusion of his administration, I expect President Bush will continue to focus first on Iraq and Afghanistan, on getting another pick or two on the Supreme Court, and on reforming Immigration. I do not expect the President to drop any surprises on people – despite the lies told, Bush speaks his intentions clearly and in advance. I also do not expect Cheney to step down or be replaced by someone Bush wants as his “successor”; he does not play that way, which also means that even though I suspect there is a person the President would gladly support, he will not try to tilt the table in what he would see as an unfair advantage for them. Bush will continue to press for permanent tax cuts and for better innovation in government processes. If the Congress wakes up and realizes the opportunity, there is hope for a renewed effort to clean up Medicare and replace SSI with a functional system; surely the next President will not be any more capable and interested than President Bush. But Bush is not likely to shove anything down Congress’ throat, so it depends once again on us to make clear that the President has the support of the people.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Bad Day For Innocents, A Trap For Demagogues

Where to begin, to rebuke a Supreme Court Justice or four? In short, the High Court – as in they must have been on something to pass this absurd judgment – decided to overturn a District Court which had refused Habeus Corpus to an Al Qaeda terrorist. Monsters, weasels, and Democrats all cheered the verdict, which means that it will be that much tougher to keep terrorists incarcerated when they are caught. Personally, I would hope the Military adjusts the Rules of Engagement to simply take few prisoners when fired upon by them. If effective incarceration is less likely, then incineration should become more likely.

Apparently, the Supreme Court has watched enough Television to become fooled into believing that Al Qaeda terrorists are somehow just like American citizens; certainly the High Court raised the bar on their expectation of standards. Never mind the history of armed conflicts – which have extensively used military tribunals – or even the Geneva Accords, which while not really applicable to non-uniformed non-national government, non-soldier terrorists, nonethless specifically required military courts (Chapter III, Article 84); nope, the US Supreme Court has once again set up new rights for people trying to murder Americans, even as it scolds the Executive Branch for allegedly trying to “legislate”.

The text of the decision, including concurrence and dissent, is 185 pages of legal wrestling, ill-considered and prejudiced in the main. Justices Kennedy and Stevens, in particular, should hang their heads in shame for working against the interests of our country and citizens, but I doubt they have the honor to consider the gravity of their offense. The very notion that the established and effective practice of our military should be abandoned in preference of an artificial presumption of equal standing by men who fight not for a country or a corps of soldiers, but who instead have deliberately targeted civilians for the shock value, and who have assaulted their own nation for the specific purpose of causing a general insurrection against a freely-elected government, is heinous.

Others are addressing the legal and moral dimensions of this decision, so I am looking at the political effects. Oh yes, there is absolutely a political side to this thing. Court cases show up in election results for two reasons; they wish to protect or prevent similar decisions in the future, and know that the prevailing party will lean one way or another in appointing a certain mindset of judge, and they will react emotionally to a key issue. Terrorism has not left the mind of the American voter, even if a sizable number of SCOTUS justices find it expedient to trivialize the War on Terrorism so they can turn the Constitution of the United States into playdough. And it should be recalled, that certain individuals have repeatedly shown themselves unable to refrain from bombast and arrogance in their statements. Those persons will see a short-term advantage in playing politics with this decision, but I sense that the voters will not be happy with this decision, effectively turning against not so much the President as our troops by refusing to let them handle terrorist prisoners in the best way which allows for some comity with nations and Congress, while still maintaining vital control of the most dangerous threats to America. Although some will be reminded that some of America’s worst enemies seem to wear judicial robes.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Election Issues

You should not believe everything you read or hear, but it can be useful to pay attention to what issues a candidate addresses, and what they avoid.

According to Polling Report, the most important issues for Americans in June 2006 are as follows:


Gas Prices


The U.S. Economy


Other topics were mentioned but lacked significant support. For reference to the stamina of the topics, in May the top topics in order were these:

The U.S. Economy
Gas Prices
Health Care

And in March/April:

Health Care
Energy and Gas Prices

This sets out the clear field of interest for voters. The rest is simple; who is talking in detail about these issues, who is ignoring them, how are they packaging the discussion, and why?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Snake Talk

I do not like Liberals. I do not trust them, I do not find them decent nor do I enjoy their participation in a discussion. This is because Liberals are not what they used to be; they are in fact “liberal” only in name, and many of their number have even discarded that pretense. Now they call themselves things like “progressives” and other self-adulating titles which have nothing to do with their actual character and works. For the most part, I regard political Liberals as I would snakes and scorpions. They are, for all of that, interesting to study in the collective, which seems to be the way many of them express their political views. To find a independently thinking Liberal these days, one must look hard and long. I know this because the Democrats have slowly begun to understand that they need new ideas in order to gain control of Congress and the White House, and to their horror it is all but impossible to find a Democrat with any originality. Even Bill Clinton seems a long time ago, which is why Hillary is still ascendant – she is no master of innovation or ideas, but she serves as an Icon to the “good old days”, when Democrats ran more than their mouths.

A particularly representative example of Snake Talk, as I call Liberal debate tactics, showed up in the comments of a thread I wrote in the past few days. The writer is not named here, out of a respect for privacy but also because the statements made were so common to others read and heard over the past few months and years from the Left. Said the reader:

“I would like to thank you and other Republicans for bankrupting our country, committing us to a stupid, fruitless war, and pushing to limit our rights just as the terrorists wanted us to do. I know you would rather win than see our country succeed, so keep at it. Maybe in your fascist fantasies, all the lazy will die off, and you can sit around in your perfect world, free markets reigning like they did in the 1800's, women back in the home raising kids, and all of your other fantasies of a world long lost to moral decay and big government.

Having majorities on your side will never make you more right, and the more your power is concentrated and people see how narrow-minded, backward looking and hurtful neoconservative and arch-conservative policy is, they will wake up. They will look for progress again, and progressives will be there with new ideas aside from greed, the laffer curve, hard work for nothing, limited rights, legislated morality and all of the right wing pipe dreams that have yet to pan out. Where are the new GOP ideas?”

Nice rant, huh? Well, let’s dissect this and see what the charges are, and what is the requested response. For civility, I shall pretend that the writer made those statements in good faith, honestly, and with a genuine interest in dialogue [ pauses for laughter ].

All right now, let’s take them point by point and see how it plays out:

= Republicans bankrupting the country
Bush’s tax cuts have led to Federal revenue increases to such a pace that the deficit will be likely cut in half far earlier than even Dubya called. Enough for that claim. And, by the way, the US Economy is projected to generate 13 Trillion dollars this year, which feeds a lot of families and provides a base for all kinds of future growth.

= Republicans committing America to a “stupid, fruitless war”
Iraq and Afghanistan have evicted vicious regimes, elected representative governments and held a series of free elections, including women for the first time. Neither stupid nor fruitless.

= Winning the war would prevent the country from succeeding.

This is patently absurd on its face. Every time America wins a war, thing improve. Walking backwards, winning the Gulf War in 1991 helped convince the Soviet Union they could never win a war against us, and led to dramatic improvements in strategic stability for all major nations. Winning even so minor a conflict as Grenada sent a message that the U.S. would protect its interests, and began a rollback of Cuban military interventionism. Winning in World War 2 made the USA the dominant nation of the world in several key respect. Winning World War 1 forced the world to admit the United States was a “Great Power”, and so on.

= Republicans have “fascist fantasies”

Historically, Fascism rose to power as a socialist rival to Communism, best evidenced by the Civil War in Spain during the 1930s, and the NAZI (National Socialist Workers) Party in Germany. To date, no fascist regime has yet employed doctrines or policies comparable with any American Republican administration. The charge is ludicrously false.

= Republicans want 1800’s type Free Markets

What a strange claim. I suppose it plays out like the Enron claims made so often by the Left. Enron, as we know now, was a large corporation which defrauded customers and employees and investors alike for a number of years. A close look at the details of Enron’s influence-pandering attempts, however, shows that the Clinton Administration had most of the officials who took bribes and campaign contributions, while the Bush Administration was for the most part simply the Administration which refused to bail out the company and whose investigators produced the evidence which sent a number or Enron executives to prison. In the same manner, the accusation fails to consider that during the 19th Century, especially before the Civil War, Democrats had a strong influence on government actions, and in fact more Republicans than Democrats during that century created reform and trust-breaking legislation.

= Republicans don’t mind moral decay and Big Government

Considering the LORAL and Whitewater deals, the acknowledged personal dishonor by Clinton, and the sum effect of six decades of Democrat control in Congress, such a claim is either fantastically ignorant or willfully deceitful.
= Having a majority is not an indicator of moral authority
One may argue so, but there is no reason to believe the opposite, that a majority in seats is in any way morally deficient or the minority party any more moral. And one could make the argument that the party which enjoys the most support from the governed in actual election results to represent the people in legislative work is the most valid of available choices for that role. Certainly individual exceptions can be made to show variance on a given issue or seat, but on the whole the very process of republican democracy confirms this position, rendering this claim to no better than spite.

= Conservative policy is “narrow-minded” and “backward”

I presume that those phrases are used to suggest that Republicans are more exclusive than Democrats, and Conservatives more than Liberals. Given that Republican tax cuts returned money to a majority of Americans, that legal reforms proposed and enacted by Republicans reduce the risk of control of your life by an unelected elite, i.e. activist judges, and that personal opinion on a single issue does not disqualify someone from substantive participation in the GOP, I would have to suggest that the Democrats, not the Republicans, are the party with a closed mind and trying to avoid the future.

= When people “look for progress”, “progressives will be there with new ideas”

It is possible. Yet even in this claim, the advocate for the Liberals is unable to present even a single example of such ideas.

= Where are the new GOP ideas?

A fence along the border with Mexico, reforming Social Security with privatized accounts, replacing Medicare with a more personal and effective plan, replacing the Internal Revenue Service with a consumption-based or flat tax, thus simplifying the process, encouraging savings and eliminating loopholes for the super wealthy. A decentralized, smaller yet more effective military which is unstoppable by any known counterforce, yet which can and does inspire respect and appreciation through its interaction with civilians. And that’s just for starters.

You lose again, Liberal. But America wins.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Democrats and Implosion

I remember back in December of 2000, when the whole “Hanging Chad” brouhaha was the rage. I remember how eloquently Vice-President Al Gore conceded the election to Governor George W. Bush – after weeks of legal maneuvering, spittle-flecked name-calling, and dirty tricks, of course. But I also recall how well Gore delivered his speech, and it occurred to me at the time to imagine how differently things might have played out for Gore, had he shown such a face just before the election, instead of almost two months after the votes were cast. It bothered me a bit, because I worried that Gore would have four years to work on his act, and in 2004 he would be strong, well-prepared, and a serious contender to take the Oval Office away from Dubya.

But it never happened. Gore dithered when it was time to make a decision about running, and certainly Hillary played him for a fool just to mess with him. In any case, by the time Democrats were serious about picking a nominee, it was clear that Gore was not a serious possibility. No matter how much he screams or puffs up his ‘academic’ image now, he has broken the foundation of his political future beyond repair.

I mention this, not only because I am pleased to conclude that Gore will never be President of the United States, but also to note that I see a similar effect at work in the words and actions of John Kerry. The Senator should know very well from his 2004 experience that Iraq is not a winning issue for him, yet he voluntarily ties himself to it for the upcoming election season. Needs a lifevest, grabs an anchor.

Could it be that one reason Republicans are the governing party, is because the Democrats’ executive nominees always turn out to be suicidal?

Don't Just Stand There

Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics makes the 2006 election very simple:

“[F]or the Democrats to win the House, they will actually have to do something.”

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Someone’s Letting The Starbucks Do Their Talking

David Broder, writing from Seattle for the Seattle Times, did his best to ignore the recent events which have shown clear setbacks for Democrats and gains for Republicans. Claiming in his recent editorial that the “story line of the week was "Republicans in Retreat,"“ Broder managed to continue to tradition of other MSM outlets by, to put it bluntly, lying through his teeth. For instance, in addition to ignoring all of the salient events which have moved opinion back to support for the Right, Broder also claims to speak for the opinion of Texas regarding the President and Republicans.

Speaking as a resident Texan, I know something about our history and culture. Broder quickly demonstrates that he speaks from the level of expertise about Texas which is, well, about what you might expect from someone who views the world from Seattle. Broder opines “Bush and others like Karl Rove … are Texans, and Texas is different.”

Well, that much is true. We see the world from a unique perspective, the kind of perspective that sees flying a hijacked plane into the World Trade Center as an act of barbarism and war against civilization, to be punished and its perpetrators destroyed, not appeased. But Broder quickly shows what he really means:

“Historically and culturally, it has been part of Mexico.”

No, no, and HELL NO. If Broder had bothered to even read a respectable textbook on the Texas Republic, he’d have learned that no one living in Texas was really interested in being a subject of Mexico. The regime which kicked out the Spanish Empire was pretty much just a local version, big on taxes, feudal practices and subjugation of regular people. Texas was a chance for people to get away from big government and live their lives with something like independence. A lot of people need to remember how many Hispanics fought at the Alamo and at Goliad and at San Jacinto AS TEXANS. Only a prejudiced moron could make the statement that Texas EVER “belonged” to Mexico. The fact is, Mexico tried to grab it and failed in the end.

Broder, oblivious to the facts, then suggests that in Texas, Republicans and Democrats alike have tried to make pawns of Hispanics. In some specific cases, this is doubtless true, but to say that such is the rule, by either party, again shows the limits of Broder’s mind and experience. In Texas, the Hispanic influence is undeniable, and ignoring Latinos would be to ignore a segment of your demographic, no matter who you are or where. And both parties in Texas have known this for a long time. It’s not about ’playing’ with Hispanics, but keeping them in mind, at all levels of a campaign.

Undaunted by his stupidity and disingenuous attacks, Broder concludes by claiming “the Texas perspective is not that widely shared in the modern GOP.” This is, once again, a lie meant to distract people from the truth. As far back as Eisenhower, modern Republicans knew and respected the Texas influence. Eisenhower was born in Texas, President Johnson represented Texas in the Senate, Reagan needed Texas more than any other state to win in 1980, which is one reason why he picked G.H.W. Bush as his running mate. And of course George W. Bush is a Texan in a very real and substantive sense, which is why we are winning in Afghanistan and Iraq, why Saddam is in a cell instead of a palace, and Zarqawi was retired by an air strike. People like Broder speak from the Seattle perspective the unrealistic hope that Texans will simply go away and let Republicans drift back to the weaker, milder version we saw accept the likes of Jimmy Carter and Tip O’Neill.

As we head into the summer and fall, it seems to me that we Republicans should be emphasizing the better qualities of our leadership, and the Texas influence is not one which is either out of place or in decline.