Sunday, December 31, 2006

What American Doctrine SHOULD Be

Dean Barnett lays it out bluntly and with sharp-edged truth:

“I think the main reason we haven’t had a repeat of 9/11 or something worse in over five years is because George W. Bush scares the s**t out of his enemies. When domestic liberal whine, “He scaaaares me,” they really mean it. The world’s bad people feel the same way. The American reprisals to a terror attack that took place under George W. Bush’s watch would likely be swift, brutal and disproportionate.

Our enemies may be crazy, but they’re not stupid. I bet the next 9/11, which will probably be magnitudes worse than the previous 9/11, will wait until George W. Bush is gone from office.”

I think he’s right. And that absolutely, positively means we need to think and pray hard for someone with similar courage, nerve, and vision to run for President.

The next President of the United States should be as much George Dubya Bush as possible, with a bit of Michael Corleone thrown into the mix. God save us from the current list of “leaders” who want the job, please.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Is Dead – Why That Matters

Within a few hours of receiving custody of Saddam Hussein from American authorities, the Iraqi government put him to death. Doubtless this will cause howls of protest from leftists everywhere, that a man proven to be a mass murderer on a most gruesome scale would himself be executed without years of delay and double-talking meant to subvert justice itself or at least deny the victims’ families the chance to believe that such men as Saddam would ever be treated as they deserve. But the execution of Saddam Hussein served a compelling notice, one the Left will deny but which is true for all their bitterness; the Rule of Law has come to Iraq.

The Left has tried very hard to deny that truth. The mainstream media revels in showing video of bombings and reporting kidnappings, never noting the stability and economic growth in many parts of Iraq. Kevin McCullough has written a compelling article to show that Iraq is, by any reasonable standard, a clear success. The notion that Iraq is becoming a foothold for democratic republicanism is terrifying for the Left. Enough so that they will denounce even its possibility, much less the growing evidence for it.

The Middle East has not enjoyed many attempts at freely elected government. Small wonder. Without turning this essay into a history lesson, the region has historically been a target for conquering empires. That’s one big lie the Left doesn’t want folks to learn, that even if none of the world’s oil came from there, there would still be wars and unrest. For thousands of years, the Middle East has been the juncture between three continents (which comprised the entire known world for most of our written history) and control of key locations meant military and economic success. That truth meant that tyrants, emperors, and puppet leaders controlled by invaders were the norm, all the way through the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, Great Britain tried to establish some nominal national identities, but in many places the lines drawn were too artificial and ignored critical demographics. The resulting mess allowed the Germans and Italians to invade the region with little trouble, which is one reason Mussolini tried to colonize Ethiopia through invasion. Following World War 2, the immediate polarization between Soviet and Western spheres meant that the Middle East was denied a chance to build truly representative governments; the governments in place were largely free to continue as they had. It is only in very recent years, therefore, that the tide of young Arabs and Farsis and Kurds have begun to demand their right to vote on popular candidates instead of figures hand-picked by mullahs or oligarchies, and it is only recently that the region began to show signs of universal law. That is where Saddam’s fate makes such a difference. For many years, a man who became a tyrant might be killed by another tyrant taking his place, but more often passed on his wealth and power to a chosen successor, or if deposed was often allowed to simply live in luxury somewhere else. The south beach of France is still littered with relatives of the former Shah, of the entourages of former strongmen and would-be aristocrats from oil-producing nations. The reader may recall that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offered such a package to Saddam and his family in hopes of avoiding the war. This was because the Saudis recognized a signal shift in the order of things, and were becoming desperate to deny or delay that change. The arrest, trial and now the execution of Saddam Hussein were all accomplished in a manner which undeniably demonstrates that the new government in Iraq intends to conduct itself through universal law, law which applies to all Iraqis regardless of station. No other government in the region, save Israel, is so committed to the Rule of Law. This demonstrates a clear victory in the development of democratic republics in the Middle East.

I personally took no pleasure in the death of Saddam Hussein. I watched the video of the noose being put around his neck, and I could read in his face that he knew his death was coming, final and irrevocable. It would be a cruel man indeed who could look at that and not feel a tug of compassion and pity for a man so condemned, alone and hopeless. Especially knowing the many evils he committed in his life; if Saddam believed in even half of Islam, he knows that a terrible fate awaits him. But his death proved the truth of Iraq law, that no one, not even the former absolute ruler of Iraq, still followed by thousands of ruthless minions, can escape answering for his crimes.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Founding Father Discusses Iraq

At a time when their habitations were in flames, when many of their citizens were bleeding, and when the progress of hostility and desolation left little room for those calm and mature inquiries which must ever precede the formation of a wise and well-balanced government for a free people, it is not to be wondered at, that a government instituted in times so inauspicious, should on experiment be found greatly deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer.”

- John Jay, The Federalist No. 2, 1787

In actual fact, Mr. Jay was addressing the new American government and the many complaints made against its early structure. It serves as a reminder that new democratic republics often seem less than equal to the task, but that in no way makes the venture unwise or wrong. So too in Iraq, the high cost and unstable chances the government faces, are still worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More Football – Politics Comparisons

The Houston Texans did something very strange Sunday. They beat the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans were not supposed to be in the same class as the Colts, and were not supposed to have any reason to be competitive, especially after being thrashed 40-7 against the Patriots the week before. The Colts, for their part, had clinched their division but were playing for a first-round bye in the playoffs, and so were expected to be well-motivated. Yet the Texans jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and scored a field goal as time ran out to beat the Colts for the first time ever. The next day the Dallas Cowboys played the Philadelphia Eagles, in a game which the Cowboys were expected to win handily, yet the Cowboys were consistently blown off the line of scrimmage and were completely embarrassed on Christmas Day.

As you might expect, Cowboys fans and Colts fans were less than pleased with the results, and overwhelmingly blamed their teams for losing. This is common in sports, the fair-weather fan who cannot accept that their team does not always win, or that the other team might have been the better team that day, or at least had a good plan for that one game. I see the same thing happening in politics. The Democrats beat the Republicans in the midterm elections, and we are reading and hearing all sorts of crazy theories based on that one event. Never mind the elections in 2004, 2002, and 2000 we are told, this one is the only one that matters. That folks is just a combination of wishful thinking by the Donks, in the same way that there are bound to be Texans fans who forget the ten losses our team has, and believe that winning this one game has somehow righted a lot of wrongs the team has to face, and Republicans who just gave up and turned rodent about it. Optimism is a nice thing, but too much leads to rash thinking and poor decisions. I visited the Indianapolis newspaper’s online site and found a lot of Colts fans ready to fire their coach and retool their team. A playoff-bound division winner, and they want to can the coach. But we see that among Republicans, as well. President Bush is responsible for tax cuts,. Two worthy Supreme Court picks and a bunch of solid federal court nods, for putting people in the right place to improve things at Defense and State, and for a forceful response to 9/11 that can fairly be said to be part of why there has not been another 9/11 since then. Yet Republicans started to desert him as soon as MSM-biased polls started suggesting that Dubya was not popular in New York or other liberal bastions. The RINOS like McCain and DeWine left first, followed by weak Republicans like Frist and Hastert, and then the extremists quit when they decided they could not get what they wanted by supporting the President or their party; rogue egotists like Tancredo began attacking the republican leadership, willing to put Democrats in power simply because they were denied the power to hijack the agenda and initiatives. The Republican Party will endure, indeed it shall thrive, not least because it is generally willing to meet its challenges and face its needs for change. But in the meantime, we all would do well to pay attention to those who advance the ideals of the nation and the party, and pay no heed to those who can only support the team when they get what they want and expect.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

BusinessWeek Blunders

On the last page of the December 25/January 1 issue of BusinessWeek, Jack and Suzy Welch wrote a disappointing answer to a valid question. In their column entitled “The Boardroom Bunker”, they begin with a question from an anonymous reader who asked, “Do you think boards today are running better or worse than before?”. A valid and important question, but the Welches made no serious effort to answer it. Instead, they changed the question and launched yet another indirect attack on Sarbanes-Oxley, saying that too many boards “are running scared”. Even that might have opened the door to an interesting examination of governance options, but the Welches had other intentions, specifically to whine and complain. Instead of a cross-section of executives and managers who have to deal with the Sox reality, the Welches focused on CEOs, and it was not long at all before the Welches were unloading cheap shots on Accountants in general. The money quote? “The same accountants who failed to flag the scandals are now the biggest beneficiaries”. That is the same sort of logic which blames the police for criminals, hospitals for disease, or our defense forces for our enemies. And yet the Welches blame other people for paranoia.

The Welches made no attempt to support their accusation, not that they could find much evidence for their claims. No, they delivered a sort of whiny homily, basically blaming the problems of boards on everyone else. I found it strangely reminiscent of Mr. Skilling’s defense strategy. But after consideration, I realized that the Welches had done at least one service. They have demonstrated that five years after the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley, far too few people in the high end of business are willing to seriously examine their responsibility and accountability, even when they pull a check from BusinessWeek magazine.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Man Your Stations!

Yesterday, I took George Will to task for not recognizing the many talents and strengths of the Blogosphere. Today, I am addressing the need, again, for bloggers to remember that – yes, we are still at war, and – this war includes you, and personally. Because in addition to the artillery, tanks, and material elements of the fight, we are also engaged in an Infowar, which is just as critical to the future of the United States. And at the moment, we are losing the Infowar, in some part because a number of bloggers do not seem to understand their duties in this conflict.

Infowar is in some ways a complex topic, but in general it means the part of a war which involves control of information – how it is produced, what is produced, and what is suppressed. Information in wartime has always been a critical part of the strategy; the reader may recall that Washington’s raid on Trenton (‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’, as it is famously known) began with townspeople misleading the Hessians to believe that Washington was not nearby. Propaganda and Disinformation have also been significant contributors to wars and their conduct. Again, the reader may recall that the disloyal priorities of the New York Times damaged the American effort in Vietnam during both the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. It is even more important now in the Middle East conflict.

From what I have read and heard, the greatest problem is that most Americans still do not understand why we went into Iraq in 2003. This means that people have had to either trust the President or oppose him. Since the invasion began, ironically in large measure because it was so successful, opposition to the war has grown in terms of publicity and rhetoric. The overwhelming majority of the military believes in the cause, and is astounded that so many Americans have not heard the good news from Iraq, and that so many Americans react with negative emotion, lacking in many cases even the most basic information about the major forces in the conflict, their motives, and the American objectives. That’s where we come in, and that call-up was years ago.

Since 2003, the Blogosphere has often answered the challenge of providing information on the Iraq War and marshalling the forces of Reason for debate. But the Right side of the Blogosphere has largely deserted the field of late, as if there was no need for us to continue defending the ramparts of Democracy, of defending America’s interests, and of explaining – ad nauseum, it must seem – why for all their faults, the Republican candidates and their party remain the only serious choice for governance of our nation. As a result, the public has fallen to a large degree for lies and errors regarding the most important issues of the day, and we find the government in the control of persons ill-equipped and perhaps even worse-minded for its health and integrity.

We are at war, and our enemies include perfidious and self-obsessed groups and persons, who would and do damage the nation for the sake of their pride and bank accounts. The military can address the threat of guns and bombs, but we must take up our arms and stand against the lies and calumnies of the Left, of the new Fascism, and of the Old Media.

To Arms!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Debating a Dinosaur

Why George Will Doesn't Understand the Blogosphere

Every now and then, I make the mistake of reading one of George Will's columns. This is because George has a knack for finding interesting topics, which gets me to read, but he constantly proves his own bias and error in his columns, which causes the regret. On this occasion, Will started by taking on TIME magazine, for its narcissist trick to sell covers by appealing to the readers well-fed egos (link Courtesy of Real Clear Politics).

So far, a good choice, especially since TIME magazine's predilection for how they discuss certain personages and their portrayal is more than slightly tilted to the Left. Unfortunately, before very long Will starts in bloggers. And in so doing, he displays the sort of ignorance and prejudice which he ostensibly finds poor practice in others. A good example is this section from the column, where Will writes:

"There are expected to be 100 million bloggers worldwide by the middle of 2007, which is why none will be like Franklin or Paine. Both were geniuses; genius is scarce. Both had a revolutionary civic purpose, which they accomplished by amazing exertions. Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves, for their own satisfaction."

Certainly it must be acknowledged that there is a good deal of dreck in blogging, and that many bloggers are in fact just as vain as Will suggests. However, Will throws out diamonds with the sewer water, and his comments not only assail a large number of very fine bloggers and astute minds, his column seems to imply that the old-school media is not even more arrogant and self-indulgent. I should like to ask you, Mister Will, who is more credible:

Kofi Annan or David Limbaugh?
Katie Couric or Little Green Footballs?
Rosie O'Donnell or Betsy Newmark?
Dan Rather or John Hinderaker?
Joy Behar or Lorie Byrd?
Mike Nifong or Hugh Hewitt?
Harry Reid or Bill Roggio?
Ray Nagin or La Shawn Barber?
Joel Stein or The Anchoress?
Mike Wallace or Bruce Kesler?

You get the idea. Between the old media and their chosen figureheads to adore, there is much to criticize and precious little to praise, especially compared to the Blogosphere in similar efforts. As the Rathergate scandal demonstrated, many bloggers are intelligent and skilled professionals, whose dedication to much higher standards than anything exhibited by the New York or Los Angeles Times is beyond question. Some write well, some are amazing at digging below the surface, and as Bill Roggio and Michael Yon have demonstrated, some back up their claims with action, going to the source even across the world, far beyond the self-imposed limits by the nominal media to verify claims and deliver true reporting. You owe them better than derision, Mister Will. You owe them respect they earned years ago. The fact that you are paid well as the MSM is, should not mean you side with them against bloggers, who pursue truth often for its own sake, rather like Tom Paine and Ben Franklin, though you have shown you are slow to admit that fact.

I should not be too hard on George Will, I guess. In some respects, he is simply showing loyalty to the media he knows; print and television. That does not make him right, however, and he really needs to discover what tens of millions of Americans already know - that the blogs supply entertainment, conversation, debate, information and education on a scale beyond anything the Mainstream Media can even dream of. Not that the MSM is going to become obsolete, but commentators who don't know what they are talking about may expect to lose their readers and viewers. And that includes self-important columnists, even George Will.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The King of Chaos

In his masterpiece of literature, the 'Chronicles of Amber', novelist Roger Zelazny described two absolute powers, and the sometimes paradoxical relationship between them. Examining one side then the other over the course of ten books, Zelazny observed the difficulties of managing the affairs of a major state, to the point that even an absolute monarch is often bound by events and circumstances beyond his control. In the hardscrabble world we know, such is even more the case. No action occurs in a vacuum, nor is any decision truly unilateral. Decision-makers sometimes forget this, but pundits often do, and critics of officials display a ubiquitous ignorance of the difficulties of having to actually choose the course.

As he enters the long stretch of his last two years of public service, President Bush is faced with a dizzying array of problems and opposition, as difficult as any President has had to face in half a century. Congress is now under the direction of a political party which has no clear idea what it wants to do, except that it detests George W. Bush personally, for no better reason than his identity and existence. So far as I can tell, such an obsession leads to no good end. The Republican Party is not showing any discernible leadership either, as their participation in the desperately negligent ‘Iraq Study Group’ report demonstrates. The nation’s future depends on either the diligence of unworthy men, or the redemption of villains.

To be President of the United States is much more than to accept the heaviest duties of your time. It is also to accept responsibility for keeping all the past efforts in good order. Presidents who have been described as failures, very often not only failed the issues which rose in their office, but also were less than able to prevent old issues from returning, as Presidents Hoover, Pierce, and Carter made painfully obvious. Presidents who have been described as successful, were often not so popular in their day, but Time and a better perspective vindicated them.

With this quality of character in mind, it seems to me appropriate to pray to God that our next President must possess such qualities as a slow temper, a long perspective, a sound understanding of History, and the humble knowledge of his or her limits. I must emphasize that the ability to be elected President is quite different from the ability to do the job properly, so it is apparent that there are some people who could win the office, but who cannot be said to be qualified for it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Imposition of Joy

I'm afraid that this post will come off a bit hum-buggish, but it's something I think needs to be said.

Not everyone is having a 'Merry Christmas'. It's not because they have anything against the season, please understand, or that they wish any poor sentiments against those who are enjoying the season and its joy. But they have reasons to feel a bit differently, and in some cases do not want to be told how they should be feeling or act.

In my case, I admit to a certain grimness at present. While I am generally an optimist, the past year has done my family some damage. My father passed away in April, which is weighing my mother down at present as she has to go through the first Christmas without him. She also had about a thousand dollars worth of plumbing repairs which had to be done. My brother, three years older than me, has a badly-paying, no-chance-of-promotion job and is showing some hand tremors which may - long story - be the warning signs of long-feared Parkinson's disease. One of my sisters had to undergo surgery on her thyroid, and as soon as she recovers from that she is schedule to have spine surgery as well. And of course, a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with cancer, a variant which has no known cure and while slow-growing, kills half of its victims within ten years of its first symptoms. I find myself distinctly less than bouyant this Christmas season.

I certainly am aware that other members here have their own trials and difficulties, and I do not mean, at all, for this to be a 'poor me' thread. But while I remain determined and hopeful in the main, and I still thank God for all the good things he has given me (I will never forget how lucky I am to have Mikki and Jagan in my life, nor my good friends) I am not in the mood - at all - to act as if I do not have a care in the world, or to perform on demand some pretense to jollity. When someone insists that I need to just 'be happy', I find myself inclined to find a shotgun and look for flying reindeer to shoot. Anyone resembling an elf would also do well to steer clear of me.

Enjoy your holidays as you please, and be as merry as you like, but please do not demand that people must act a certain way. Joy may not be imposed, and even now there are duties which may not be dismissed or put off, nor to my mind would it be seemly to forget them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Business To AVOID

Every so often, you encounter a business which renews your faith in Integrity, in Customer Service, and Professional standards. Roadrunner Hi-Speed Internet, however, is almost the exact opposite of those qualities, a company so inept, dishonest and hostile to customers that it is hard to imagine how they could be any worse and still stay in business. I will make this one short and to the point; if you are considering high-speed Internet service, avoid Roadrunner AT ALL COSTS.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fall 2006 Grade Results

I promised to report on the results of my first semester at UH-Victoria, as I pursue my Masters of Business Administration. The short story is two A’s and one B, but the value I hope to offer lies in how those grades were earned. The grades were determined through seven different types of activity, and those are somewhat different from the brick-and-mortar method of education I knew in High School and at Baylor during my undergraduate years.

To understand how grades are awarded at UHV, instead of visualizing a 100-point system, imagine if you will a thousand points awarded over the year. Nine hundred or more earns an A, eight hundred to eight-ninety-nine gets a B, and so on. There are no plus or minus grades, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage, as we shall see. For the three courses this fall, that means three thousand points in grades were issued. I will list the seven categories in declining proportion of the total, and also note a running total and average for each class through them.

The largest portion belonged to major examinations; fifteen hundred out of three thousand points awarded came from Mid-Term and Final examinations, three hundred points each on five tests. This came around, because my Economics and Business classes each had both a Mid-Term and a Final examination, while my Accounting class had only the Mid-Term examination. I want to stop here and warn the reader that examinations in online classes may be very different from one another. My Economics and Business tests were a combination of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short essay questions, but the Business class required a special browser which did not work the way Internet Explorer does, and this caused me trouble in the Mid-Term. The Accounting Mid-Term was actually a take-home test, but the test was definitely the most difficult test. In Economics, my Mid-Term exam graded 96% and my Final exam 86%. Dr. Adamchik cited statistical results about how students did on each question, as well as an overall average. Overall, the class found the Final examination tougher than the Mid-Term. Personally I liked the way the Economics tests were set up, as questions came directly from self-performed chapter quizzes, assigned homework and discussion board problems. If you did your classwork, you did well on the tests. For those two tests, 60% of my grade was earned with a 91% average, or 546 points out of a possible 600. In Business, I lost the connection to the secure browser during my Mid-Term, and was nervous and hasty when I regained access, which definitely impacted my ability to consider my answers on the Mid-Term. This showed up in my 80.5% grade. On the Final Exam, I studied hard on all the discussions and reading assignments, and earned a 91% on the Final Exam, for an 85.75% average between the two, or 514.5 points out of a possible 600. I was not completely happy with the method used in this class, as there was no formal review prior to the examinations, nor were we allowed to compare our answers and the test questions later. Professor Cloninger explained that this was a matter of security, but I still think that makes it a matter of denying students a proper review. In Accounting, I had great difficulty in the first question, which required assigned certain companies to a set of given financial data. I only earned 10 out of a possible 60 points, and from there could not accomplish the kind of results I planned. I earned a 72% grade, or 216 of a possible 300.

After examinations, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 91% average [A], 546 for 600, F minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 85.75% average [B], 514.5 for 600, F minimum, A maximum
ACCOUNTING – 72% average [C], 216 for 300, F minimum, A maximum

The next largest portion was from Term Papers, 500 possible points awarded. In Economics, I prepared a term paper on Retail Bookstores, which was graded not only on its content and logic, but on a number of technical standards. The short version was that I did well on the content, but lost points because I was inconsistent in style and a little cluttered in places. 90% grade, for 135 out of a possible 150. In Business, the style was fine but I lost points largely because the professor expected me to better balance my argument regarding how a juice company handled an e coli outbreak. In retrospect, there were points I should have presented to better show the company missed opportunity to meet social responsibility, but I still feel that the professor expected me to make assumptions not in evidence, as we were clearly instructed to not use any sources besides the textbook. 86% grade, for 129 out of a possible 150. In Accounting, I participated in a group project which evaluated the condition and prospects of a major public firm, and to make strategic recommendations for it. We earned a 91.5% grade, or 183 out of a possible 200.

After the term papers, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 90.8% average [A], 681 out of a possible 750, D minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 85.8% average [B], 643.5 out of a possible 750, D minimum, B maximum
ACCOUNTING – 79.8% average [C], 399 out of a possible 500, F minimum, B maximum

The next largest portion came from Participation. This is where the online experience radically departs from the face-to-face class. In my time as an undergrad, participation was expected but only earned a small part of the total grade. Online, participation can be and is tracked by actual participation in discussions, especially as to whether the student advances the discussion with substantive comments. I noticed during the last couple weeks, a few students try to make last-minute comments to earn some points, but seriously, if you want full credit here you had better plan on being active and involved all the way through. 430 possible points were distributed here, or over 14% of your final grade. I collected all 100 participation points in Economics, all 250 participation points in Business, and all 80 participation points in Accounting.

After adding the participation points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 91.9% average [A], 781 out of a possible 850, C minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 82.6% average [B], 479 out of a possible 580, F minimum, B maximum

The next largest portion came from quizzes. In both Economics and Accounting, this part really came down to studying the material and doing your reading on time. In Economics, I took four quizzes and averaged a 95% grade, for 95 out of a possible 100. In Accounting, I took ten quizzes and averaged a 91% grade, for 182 out of a possible 200.

After adding the quiz points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 92.2% average [A], 876 out of a possible 950, B minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 84.7% average [B], 661 out of a possible 780, D minimum, B maximum

The next largest portion (and the last formal one) came from Homework. In Economics, I earned a 100% grade, or 50 out of a possible 50 points. In Accounting, I earned a 98% grade, or 196 out of a possible 200 points.

After adding the homework points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 92.6% average [A], 926 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 87.4% average [B], 857 out of a possible 980, B minimum and maximum

The next portion came from a little different tack in Accounting. I earned 10 of 10 for a class survey, and 9 of 10 from a peer review, for an additional 19 out of a possible 20 points.

After adding in the sundry points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 92.6% average [A], 926 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 87.6% average [B], 876 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum

The observant reader will have noted long ago that only one of my classes allowed for an A, yet I say I got two. That is because of the final section, the Bonus. This not always an automatic. My Accounting class’ professor, Dr. Lee, offered no curve and no opportunity to raise the final grade. My Economics professor however added a 4-point curve to the grade on both the Mid-Term and Final exams, adding 24 points to everyone’s final tally. And Dr. Cloninger offered an opportunity to submit a mini-term paper on a specific company’s code of ethics, for one point to be added to the final average. I took advantage of that offer, and received that point, which produced the following final results:

ECONOMICS – 95.0% average [A], 950 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
BUSINESS – 90.35% average [A], 903.5 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 87.6% average [B], 876 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum

So there you are. Obviously, different students enjoyed different results, but for those few people who could find this useful or interesting, there you go. I have registered for Accounting, Quant, and Management for the Spring, so I will let you all know what I find out. Just a mention on pre-semester prep. I bought new books last time, thinking I would keep them neat and sell them back, but I read them a lot and they got used because I had to read and work them everywhere I could. So next semester I am making sure I get used books, so long as they are the right edition.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Holocaust Myth

The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had a week to waste, so he sponsored a conference on the Holocaust, which is to say that he set up a week of noise to denounce historical fact in favor of his fantasy. It would be pointless here to rebut the lies and hypocrisy of that group, but it is necessary to consider the motive and goals of the new Fascism.

When I gave this essay the title of ‘The Holocaust Myth’, I was not referring to the well-documented genocide of Jews and other “undesirables” by the Nazis. Between General Eisenhower’s specific orders to film the camps and document the crimes he feared would be diminished in time or conveniently forgotten as Germany rebuilt, and the Nazi’s own ghastly obsession with documenting the efficiency of their “Final Solution”, there is no doubt – whatsoever – that the Nazis deliberately and systematically abused and dehumanized the Jews through laws and the camps, in the diabolical hope that they might exterminate a race of people. The focus I want to direct is on the other myths of the Holocaust. Myths like the notion that Israel’s existence is the cause of unrest in the Middle East, which requires the deaths of as many Jews as possible to resolve the matter. Myths like the notion that Iran deserves nuclear weapons, and is morally equal to the United States in its accountability and responsibility for such weapons. Myths like the notion that the United States has no business “interfering” in Muslim nations, even when specifically asked by the governments there, or to remove a tyrant who had committed clear acts of war against America. Myths like the notion that the Jihadists can produce anything, anywhere, but a bloodbath.

The Holocaust Conference in Iran therefore needs to be seen for what it is, a tactical propaganda move in a continuing war against Israel and the West. It demonstrates why it is so wrong for the Mainstream Media to declare themselves neutral, granting a moral equivalency between America and forces which murder Americans, and why it is wrong to attack the President in time of war, in hopes of political gains at home. In 2003, after the successful invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein, the Middle East understood that the United States had taken control of the initiative, and was dictating events, just as President Bush promised, at the times and manner chosen by the United States. Because of this, Moammar Qaddafi in Libya voluntarily surrendered his WMD programs, Syria backed down from the border of Iraq, correctly believing its own invasion was imminent, and even the mullahs in Iran toned down their rhetoric, hoping to not anger the United States into a war which seemed all too likely to destroy the Jihadists’ base. But because the Democrats in Congress refused to support the war for reasons which came completely from expediency issues, and because the media like CNN and CBS and the New York Times became actively opposed to the American government, the Jihadists found hope for their survival through the cowardice and cavil of vain and shallow men.

A clear example of such an abandonment of American ideals is the reaction to the ascension of Ahmadinejad to the Presidency of Iran. A member of the group which seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran during the Carter Administration, it is very likely that as a young thug, Ahmadinejad held a gun to the head of captive American citizens, an act which all too well symbolizes the present desires and intentions of the Ahmadinejad regime today. Not one Democrat or Liberal has condemned Ahmadinejad, treating as reasonable his recent ultimatum to President Bush; indeed, the consensus from the Left has been to suggest that President Bush should meet with Ahmadinejad, negotiate on his terms, none of which would be palatable to a Western secular democratic republic. No leading Democrat has condemned the practice of Honor Killings, nor of the execution of a teenage girl in Iran this year, nor the training and funding of terrorists exported to Iraq to attack U.S. and Coalition forces, as well as Iraqi citizens. Because of this attitude, to allow Iran to say and do exactly as it pleases, the Left has betrayed the military forces in Iraq and undermined the valid doctrines established by the Bush Administration. And that has emboldened Iran’s vicious mullahs to the point where they can openly begin a campaign against Israel. We are not to the point of military action, of course, but that is waiting on two key conditions the Jihadists expect to see fulfilled in short order; the significant drawdown of American military forces in the region, especially Iraq, and the testing of a battlefield-ready nuclear weapon. The total lack of resistance and outrage to the Holocaust Conference has encouraged the Imams to plan for greater and bloodier goals.

There is abundant precedent for the upcoming campaign to wipe out Israel. The 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973 wars all began their planning on the hope for a newer, Muslim-led ethnic cleansing. Because of Iraq, the Jihadists hope to keep the U.S. out. Because of Chechnya, the Jihadists hope to keep the Russians out. Because of commerce, the Jihadists hope to be well-armed with state-of-the-art weapons and C3I capability. Syria will grab Lebanon and Iran will control Iraq, by proxy more than outright invasion, but in a matter of months the region could devolve to utter chaos. Casualties will be high, especially civilians, and all because politics was too tempting for the Left to remember or care about American promises or commitments. And it all began last week, with the myth that Iran only wants peace and stability. A myth which will introduce a new, Muslim, holocaust.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Modern Education

It has been a long time since I disagreed with Hugh Hewitt, but Monday was such a day. Hugh had Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College on his radio show. Much of what Dr. Arnn said I agreed with, until at Hugh’s urging he produced his list of what he called “serious old-fashioned” schools. In short, Dr. Arnn divided schools into four groups by two qualities: Serious versus Unserious schools, and Old-fashioned versus Modern. Dr. Arnn went on to state that a school was “serious” only if it instilled character and values into a student, and that Old-fashioned meant holding, even defending traditional Christian values. Again, so far no problem. But from there Dr. Arnn turned into a blatant propagandist, claiming that only about ten schools would meet the standard for Serious Old-Fashioned school. I found serious problems with his arrogance on that point. The sheer fact that none of the military academies met Dr. Arnn’s cut should tell you how short-sighted his list was. Perhaps he was merely being polite, but Mr. Hewitt made no attempt at all to correct any of Dr. Arnn’s misstatements or omissions. I certainly noticed that Dr. Arnn favored schools on the east and west coasts, so it surprised me that Hewitt did not point out how much of the country Dr., Arnn was – however inadvertently – insulting. For example, here in Texas any serious college evaluation must include Baylor University in Waco, Texas A&M in College Station, and while Dr. Arnn mentioned the University of Dallas he somehow missed the University of Texas at Dallas, a fast rising star in many reviews. Dr. Arnn had not a word of mention about Houston Baptist University, or Lady of the Lake University, or Trinity College in San Antonio. And that is limiting the field to the Christian perspective, which would frown on things like coed dorms or an agnostic/atheistic worldview, which would exclude some otherwise fine universities.

The reader will note that I have not yet mentioned online studies, which I consider an equal if not superior option to the nominal experience for many students. So far as I know, Hillsdale does not offer even a single online course, so it is poor indeed on that matter of addressing student needs, but in the main it is obvious that many people who consider themselves experts simply prefer to promote the schools they know, which brings me to my question for the day:

In terms of building a young person into an intelligent and responsible adult, what three colleges or universities would you consider the best? Please share your reasons.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lame TV Shows

Well, I should have known it would happen. I made the mistake of watching the season finale of “The Amazing Race”, but it was neither Amazing nor really much of a race. The show, in case you were wise than me and did not waste your time on it, works like this: Twelve teams of two start out and go from place to place, pretty much around the world, and gradually teams are eliminated until the last few survivors make a run for the prize – a million dollars for first place. There is no word on whether any of the other teams get money, although being first reach each of the twelve “pit stops” gets a prize of some kind, usually trip-related (someone wanna explain to me why someone who has been running around the world for literally tens of thousands of miles, would want to go on another trip anytime soon?). That general plan could actually work, except that the guys running the show have thoroughly mucked it up.

As an example, Sunday’s finale should have been the best run of all, with lots of challenges and wholly dependant on the players’ skill and daring. Instead, CBS’ finale was as stupid as Dan Rather’s ‘fake but credible’ forged documents. First, the players had to make their way from Barcelona to Paris; that part was interesting, especially to see Team Bama move from third to first by going to Lyon Airport instead of De Gaulle. But from there the race was a waste. In short, it came down to getting seats on an overbooked plane. I am not a racist, but it does strike me as a wee bit odd that the white people were able to get on the plane with “no seats”, but not the team of two black women. Considering what was at stake, the “Amazing Race” people totally blew that decision and managed to make the race a matter of chance. It comes down to who gets the plane to New York, then which cab has the EZ-tag. For crying out loud, the show goes around the world, and it’s decided by neither skill nor character? That’s CBS’ idea of a winner?

Maybe next year “The Amazing Race” should just have the contestants use scratch-off cards. It would be just as dramatic, but faster and cheaper.

TV is doing that a lot these days. I love the CSI shows, but not so much when they decide they need to use sex to sizzle up the show, which seems to happen more and more. And I can’t stand Letterman or Leno anymore; they pander to their NY and LA crowds like the rest of America doesn’t exist. And the news? Now that Tony Snow has come to Washington, improving the quality of White House Press Briefings, even Fox News sucks for the most part, and the “Big Three” (ABC, CBS, NBC) are a total loss. And CNN might as well be pulling paychecks from Ahmadinejad, and for all I know, they are.

Where are the good TV shows anymore?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bad Football Teams and Congress

The Houston Texans beat the Los Angeles Raiders in NFL action last Sunday. Considering that before the game the two teams were a collective 5 wins and 11 losses, that’s no big bragging stake. But what was interesting about the Texans win, was that it was done through a decent run game, a very strong defense, and a moron playing quarterback. With Sage Rosenfels out for the season with a broken thumb, the Texans have no choice but to rely on the foolish and unreliable David Carr. Carr failed to complete even one pass in the second half against the Raiders, and ended up with negative five yards total passing for the day. By itself, that could mean one bad day, but frankly, Carr has never yet passed gut check for more than one game, and his development has been clearly in reverse for the last two years. In summary then, the Texans won Sunday in spite of their quarterback and their offense.

The connection to Congress is the now-obvious fact that Speaker-to-be Pelosi does not have much in the way of skill or competence in her position, and whatever work is done to the good will be done in spite of her, not because of her “leadership”. Pelosi has managed to say or do the wrong thing in everything from her preferences for leadership, to paying attention to the voters’ desires and wants. The rest of her offense, the Democrat who will try to move the ball on their policies and wish-lists and witch-hunts, is just as inept and incompetent, as time will surely prove. Fortunately, the team that is the United States will muddle through, and through the dutiful work of a few individuals we can depend on, the nation will endure until 2008, when a correction will again be made available to the team’s owners, the America people.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Right to Fury

Sixty-five years ago today, the Empire of Japan attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, then a U.S. protected territory. The attack was first condemned by the United States, then in time came to be so commonly regarded as an immoral act that even Japan agreed that the timing and method of the attack were unfortunate. Over 2,400 Americans died in that attack, mostly servicemen. The Pearl Harbor has generally been regarded as a valid cause for the U.S. entry into World War 2, where almost three hundred thousand Americans died. The Democrats and some Republicans led the fight to end the Fascist threat.

On September 11, 2001, over three thousand Americans, mostly civilians, died in attacks by Middle Eastern terrorists. Yet in the wars that followed to eradicate the cause of those attacks, Jihadist terror, the Democrats and some Republicans have led the effort to appease the Jihadist threat.

Do not forget.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

No, Barack Obama Will Not Be Elected President In 2008

I must say that I like pundits who are willing to make a bold prediction. So I begin here with some praise for blogger Kevin McCullough, as he makes his case for the run by Barack Obama for the White House in 2008. However, I have evaluated the conditions and must disagree with Kevin. Senator Barack Obama will not be elected President of the United States in 2008.

Kevin bases his prediction on what he considers five essential bases for Obama, what McCullough calls “Raging Liberals”, “Disgusted Conservatives’, “Exhausted Moderates”, “Energized Blacks”, and “Gullible Evangelicals”. McCullough seems to be claiming that Obama will flim-flam his way to the Oval Office, and I must admit History warns us that politicians are quite able in that trait, and I agree that Obama possesses the sort of moral inadequacy to choose the way of the snake to get what he wants. However, I cannot agree with McCullough’s opinion that Conservatives and Evangelicals would find Obama a suitable choice; the weakness in those groups comes when they stay home out of petulance, but they do not vote for a candidate who is clearly Liberal in his politics or for a Democrat. Those groups will be in play when the Republican candidate either excites or disappoints them, but Obama will not get their vote and cannot sway them except to drive them to his opponent if he reveals himself to be extreme. As to the Liberals, no Democrat in twenty years has lacked their support, so Obama gains nothing in the General Election from them, especially as fewer people than ever consider themselves Liberals. Liberals are angrier than ever, but that does not give them extra votes, except in places like Chicago and St. Louis.

But the real problem for Obama lies in the structure of the Democratic Primaries, and the history of Presidential Elections. The first hurdles for Obama will not come from Republicans, but from other Democrats; Senator Hillary, Governor Vilsack, and all the other ‘me-make-good-President’ wanna-be’s (plus some moldy oldies, possibly including the stale but obsequious Al Gore, John Kerry, or even Joe Biden). A lot of money, planning, and energy will be spent by differing factions trying to take down the others, especially since with control of Congress in Democrat hands, a Democrat President will hold tremendous power to direct the nation as he/she/it sees fit, a tantalizing prize that will pull all the stops out. The 2004 Democratic Primaries were a knife-fight; 2008 will be fought with the heavy artillery. Barack can expect to be attacked by Democrats on everything from his short record to his middle name. Nothing is out of bounds, and below-the-belt is the preferred tactic. In years past, Democrats limited their attacks in the primaries because the presumed Republican opponent appeared strong and the Democrats needed the appearance of amity and teamwork to hope for victory, but with no dominant Republican on the horizon, the Democrats’ confidence in their advantage will blow that façade off the stage. Barack Obama has made his way through politics to this point by winning support from key constituencies and charming the media. In this respect Obama may be fairly compared to Governor Howard Dean, whose 2004 run started with a lot of media hype and early excitement, but who could not withstand the vicissitudes of the road, nor the challenges by opponents and uncertain voters demanding substance from him. The notion of Barack Obama making a presidential run is not unlike the notion of taking a Ferrari off-road through the mountains; Obama could make a good run at the Governor’s mansion, but he does not have the fortitude to try for the White House.

It would also be useful, I think, to note the general character of those men who have won the White House. Lots of people thought they had the right stuff to be President, but precious few win election to the office. First, we must consider the obvious resume credentials of prior Presidents elected to the office:

George W. Bush – Governor of Texas
Bill Clinton – Governor of Arkansas
G.H.W. Bush – Vice-President under Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan – Governor of California
Jimmy Carter – Governor of Georgia
Richard Nixon – Vice-President under Dwight Eisenhower
Lyndon Johnson – Vice-President under John F. Kennedy

I think I see a trend, how about you? Now it is true that as we move further back, we see Kennedy served as a Senator but really, comparing Obama to Kennedy is more than a bit of a stretch, not the least because many of JFK’s policies would never be embraced by the modern leadership of the Democratic Party, like tax cuts and a strong defense policy. Eisenhower never held elected office before his campaign, but his work as Supreme Commander Allied Forces in World War Two was a clearly executive position with tremendous accountability and responsibility. You get the idea, I think; the public demands something more of a candidate than a claim that he can do the job, he must show some evidence that he has met such challenges before.

Next up is the matter of how weak candidates like Obama could win. Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon were able to sneak off with the White House by winning only 43% of the Popular Vote, but in both cases they faced opposing parties whose vote was split – it is fair to say that Wallace cost Humphrey the 1968 election, and Perot cost Bush his 1992 re-election. There is no evidence that the GOP vote in 2008 will be split. There simply is no historical precedent for a paper-thin candidate like Obama to build the kind of support to win the party nomination against such better-funded and deeper candidates, much less to then hope to carry a majority in the General Election – he only holds support from 17 percent of Democrats now, and while he could build that up, it would be as thin and fragile as everything else in his portfolio, with poor odds it could withstand a full season of challenge and contest.

Finally, I would remind the audience that early runs do not fare well these days, unless the candidate is a clear national favorite who is closing off potential runs by rivals. Barack Obama simply does not fit that model, not with Hillary Clinton already occupying the Donk’s pole position. If Obama is thinking about running, as we all know he is, he really needs to pull back and wait until the primaries draw much, much closer. As he stands now, all he is doing is putting a big target on himself. The problem there, of course, is that there will not be a big national push to draft Barack Obama to run, much less elect him. Obama simply has no concrete solutions to the problems most Americans think about, and his stated views and track record show him well outside the mainstream opinion on critical issues. Therefore, Obama will decide on his own to run, and probably to run fairly early, which invites disaster and a long run through the gauntlet, but all the signals from him are there. And that reminds me that I would remind the audience of one last point about political candidates: Those who listen to their own desires instead of noting the signals from the people, must inevitably fail at any great cause or purpose.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

On Death, a Few Thoughts From Better Minds Than Mine

We are all under sentence of death, but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.”
-Victor Hugo

You have now such faith as is necessary for your living unto God. As yet you are not called to die. When you are, you shall have faith for this also.”
- John Wesley letter: 17 April 1776

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.”
– Isaac Asimov

Monday, November 27, 2006

Things I Do Not Know

One of the most important things for a blogger to do, is to know his limitations. Like all people enabled to speak in public, we tend to print out our opinion on all sorts of things, some of which we know well and some where we frankly are less than fully informed. For myself, I do try to gather as much relevant and useful information as possible before posting an article, but I admit to all the conditions of humanity, including a propensity to err at times. It is, however, still useful to blog, even when I do not know the whole of the matter. Partly it is to discover through discussion, or to draw out commentary which illuminates the subject, but sometimes it is also worthwhile to provoke thought and remind us of people and perspectives outside our routine. And so, this morning I am writing about the possibility that I have cancer.

Cancer is a scary word, which is unfortunate because emotion clouds judgment. I admit that when I first heard my surgeon say that half my colon needed to be removed in hopes of stopping the spread of a growth in my abdomen, it took some time to process the information. My adventure started with a night of abdominal pain, which has turned into its own little drama – first kidney stones, then my appendix burst, and now the questions about a mass growing around my appendix.

The thing is, I cannot honestly say I have cancer, nor (despite his insistence) can my surgeon. My white blood cell count is fine, the surgeon found no polyps on my colon while he was in there to take out the appendix, and that mass, whatever it is, came up “potentially malignant”, not out & out malignant for sure. OK, so that sounds a bit like denial, but I am not jumping into anything until I get a second opinion. That should happen later this week, but until then I am sort of in a wasteland, not able to say how I even fell. Hearing the ‘C’ word makes a person wonder about every ache and pain, even though I am still recovering from my appendectomy, and so I would expect to still feel little things as my body heals. It’s very frustrating, wondering if I can trust my own judgment about whether I am OK or not.

That’s enough about me; one way or the other I will find out what is going on and decide what to do. What I want to write about here is how this situation has affected my family, and my perspective on people who have to fight cancer. A lot of people have reacted to the news that I may have cancer, especially my wife Mikki. All sorts of relatives have asked how I feel and how I am doing. It is both touching and frustrating, because while everyone understands my need to get a second opinion, there is real concern, and I feel like I may be scaring them needlessly, just because one doctor thinks it’s something. I would really like to be able to assure Mikki that everything will be fixed soon, without undue stress, cost, or risk. But I would be lying to pretend that it’s going to just go away because I want it to do so.

And that makes me appreciate how hard it is for families to go through a fight with cancer. And be sure of that, cancer attacks families, not just individuals. And because even surgery is no sure fix, even if the cancer is cut or burned out or goes into remission, there is that worry that it can come back again, which never really goes away.


I’m lucky on that count, because even if I do have cancer, it’s likely to be something which grows slowly so I have time to consider my options, and if it’s colon cancer it’s very early and so my survival chances are excellent. On the darker side of things, I did some reading over the past week on the different types of cancer, from people with lung, cervical, and pancreatic cancers. The pain, anguish, and cost are sometimes excruciating, and cancer strikes kids as often as it does adults. So I would ask you all to consider one additional gift this Christmas season. Ask your pastor, rabbi, or spiritual leader who in your congregation is fighting cancer, and try to do something for the family. It doesn’t have to be expensive or a really big deal, but even just a card letting them know you are thinking about them counts, and for people in the fight of their lives, having more family and friends on their side is more important than any material thing.

And thanks for reading. I feel better knowing I can vent.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The American Political Condition, November 2006

The mid-term elections of 2006 are over, but the arguments continue. Democrats have gained control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, for the first time since the early years of Bill Clinton’s first term as President. This condition quite naturally has convinced Democrats and Liberals that America now prefers their leadership to that of the Republicans and Conservatives. The Republicans and Conservatives contend that the election was the result of a combination of Democrat misportrayal of their policies and ideals, and public disgust of the Republican failure to deliver promised reforms. Each side claims that the other is doomed to irrelevancy and a loss of position in government. It now appears to me that such prophets are unaware of the demographics.

Demographics is one of those fancy words people use when they want to sound smart, and that includes me at times. Put plainly, the study of demographics is just studying who the people are and what they believe. Those beliefs are the ideals and values they hold, and those determine which party serves them best. Knowing the trends of demographic behavior helps show which party has the most potential “turf” for election contests, and suggests the strategies necessary to win control of the government.

Two notions which are over-used and subject to rational challenge, are the notion or denial of a “mandate”, and the belief that any one election makes a change which cannot be undone. The data from past elections shows that every election is a mandate of a sort, though never an absolute one, and that the public always reserves the right to change its mind. A big part of the problem is that more and more, the public perceives elected officials as alien to the public norm; candidates always appear to be people of relative wealth and influence, which is no surprise given what is needed to endure a campaign, but it also creates a separation from the public and their elected officials. While no one seriously wants a person of only average intelligence, ideals, and ability to be in charge, there is a great mistrust of a class of persons who appear to not have direct experience of real world conditions. People who never appear to deal with rush hour traffic, physical work and the sheer aggravation of government bureaucracy, are not seen as completely able to address the concerns and needs of ordinary people. This condition is well-known by politicians, which has primarily led to a flood of commercials every election showing the candidate as a regular guy – who just happens to be rich, in perfect physical shape and who thinks his management of the bureaucracy will solve many problems.

As a result of this mistrust, there is a limit to how many people will vote each election cycle. Only a part of the public is eligible to vote, and of those only some will register to vote. And only some of the pool of registered voters will vote in a given election. Many consultants are hired every election to find a way to get desired voters to the polls. Getting sixty percent of the popular vote is considered a landslide, which should tell you how difficult it is to win a majority at all. Generally, either a Republican or Democrat can expect to collect between 35 and 55 percent of a vote, depending on the nominal characteristics of the district or state in which they are running. This can be altered by either drawing in a higher portion of your own “base”, or by convincing your opponent’s base to stay home somewhat. Nick Lampson, for example, won the 22nd Congressional District race in a heavily Republican district, by motivating his base while the Democrats worked hard to dismay the Republicans from supporting the write-in candidate, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. The Democrats managed this election by not only motivating their base, but also by depressing Republican turnout.

Polls, as we know, can be misleading if the results are manipulated rather than viewed in context. Among the myths being presented this year are claims that Republicans voted for Democrats rather than staying home, or that Independents showed up in large numbers and swayed the elections. The best way, I think, to sort out such claims is to look not only at the claims, but the hard numbers.

Let’s start with an important number from 2004; more than 62 million American voters chose to re-elect President George W. Bush. That sets a standard; while midterm elections generally produce a much lower turnout than elections in Presidential election years, 2004 establishes an important benchmark. The Census Bureau noted that turnout in 2004 was the highest in U.S. elections since 1968, and a four-point jump in overall participation from 2000, which itself showed strong turnout on both sides.

Between 1978 and 2004, on average 62.9 percent of eligible citizens vote in Presidential election years, versus 48.5 percent in mid-term elections. For registered voters in that same time frame, 72.3 percent vote in Presidential election years and 67.6 percent vote in mid-term. So for starters, people who keep up their registration are more likely to vote than people who have to be motivated to renew their registration. It also suggests that about 48 million Republicans would reasonably expect to vote in the 2006 election under nominal conditions. George Mason’s numbers show national voter turnout at the 39% level, far below expectations and a salient factor in the possibility that a specific sector of the demographic could sway the election results on the national scale.

Using CNN’s exit poll results for the 2004 and 2006 House of Representative national voting sample, the demographic numbers did not change much at all. The 2004 balance of party identification seems to have been the key; Democrats kept their share of the vote at 38%, but Democrats who only voted for their party 90% of the time in 2004, did so 93% of the time in 2006. A small measure, but it could make the difference in tight races. Also worth noting was the decline in GOP voting. Republicans declined slightly, representing 38% of voters in 2004 but only 36% in 2006. Voting by Conservatives also dropped by two points, indicating that the stay-at-homes were conservative Republicans, which would explain why votes for Democrats by Republicans rose from 7% in 2004 to 8% in 2006. Again, each of these is a small matter, except that they add up. Self-described Moderates increased their share to 47% in 2006, up 2 points from the 45% they represented in 2004. Those moderates swung more to the Left, voting 56% for Democrats in 2004 but 60% in 2006.

The real key is to understand that the voter pool for 2006 was not static from 2004, but dropped significantly. CNN noted that 11% of voters in 2004 said they were voting for the first time, but they showed no results this time, which is consistent with a voter pool largely disillusioned and inclined to give this round a miss. For all effective counting, more than a third of 2004’s voters stayed home in 2006, from both parties and all ideologies. This election came down to three factors which played against the Republicans:

Most open seats were Republican, and the most incumbent seats at risk were Republican;

The Democrats were largely unified in purpose, while some leading Conservatives advocated abandoning Republican candidates; and

The Mainstream Media made a hard push against Republicans, as exemplified by highlighted focus on DeLay and Foley, who had each already resigned, while ignoring in-office criminals like William Jefferson and Harry Reid.

I would like to say that this was a one-time aberration, but instead it’s more of a wake-up call. Democrats proved they could win by uniting on a common theme, using the media to their advantage, and protecting fellow party members from loss. Fortunately for Republicans, the Democrats have shown no inclination to correct deep-seated errors in their strategy and focus, the nation is significantly more conservative than liberal, and Democrat blunders and quick moves to increase taxes and abandon duty in the Middle East are already making ripples in the national opinion; Pelosi burned the honeymoon early on, and the dealmakers have shown the Democrats for frauds, to talk about reform when in fact they intended only to improve their graft technique. The Republicans have lessons to learn, but presuming they do so now, the damage to be done by the Left may be, if not prevented, at least repaired somewhat later.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Two Retail Chains, Two Philosophies

It’s a long story, but I did not own a Christmas tree before today. Oh, I’ve had one every now and then over the years, but something always seemed to happen to them – maybe aliens with bad eyesight abducted the tree instead of me, but I always seemed to lose the things. So for a number of years I have made do without one. It never seemed important to respecting the birth of my Lord Jesus Christ to put a tree up in my living room anyway. But, tradition being what it is, and my daughter loving all aspects of holidays, especially the shiny kind like Christmas, I was thinking of getting a tree this year.

So it was, that when Lowe’s advertised on the television last night a six and a half foot tall artificial tree with lights for $25, I took notice, and so I took my daughter to Lowe’s today to try to get a tree. The short version is they ran out fast of the advertised trees. That, in itself, was not a big deal, although I noticed that there was no obvious empty space where the bargain trees had been, which told me they did not have many to start with – while Lowe’s gets out of legal trouble with a “while supplies last” disclaimer in the printed ad, they clearly had no intention of meeting the moral obligation to provide the product they advertised, and I noticed that the next cheapest trees available were nearly a hundred dollars. What we have here is a company lying to people in a dishonest trick to lure them into the store for a promotion they have no intention of honoring.

Frankly, this stunt by Lowe’s is a disappointment. Compared to Home Depot, I have generally found Lowe’s to be a better and more responsible chain, but every now and then they do pull something like this, and why they think that counts as good business seems to me to indicate a mild mental aberrance in their board room. I would also note that, unusual for Lowe’s, the employees were abrupt and hostile. I put that down to the employee’s natural dislike of being told to lie to the public.

But that is only half the story. After getting lied to by Lowe’s, I went to my next stop on today’s errands, which happened to be Wal-Mart. Going into a Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving was not something I looked forward to doing, but I had to get more cough medicine for Jagan, and the most effective and cheapest stuff was Wal-Tussin at Wal-Mart, so in we went.

Wal-Mart was crowded all right, but orderly, clean, and with a relatively happy atmosphere. The employees were polite and cheerful, and wonder of wonders, I saw a display by the door advertising artificial trees for $19.84. I did not want to trust too much that such trees would still be in stock, but when I asked, they had them in plenty, and it was easy to get the tree in addition to my other purchases. In fact, Wal-Mart had plenty of extra employees ready for the rush, they were well-positioned to assist customers and answer questions, and generally the place was very well run, front to back.

I could put that down to a happy coincidence, except that now I think about it, this is always the case at Wal-Mart, enough that Wal-Mart is often my first stop when I need to buy something. Whatever “it” is, Wal-Mart is likely to have it, and at a good price, and if I should need to return it, there has never been a problem so long as I have the receipt. I mean really, in the past three years I cannot remember Wal-Mart ever being badly stocked, overpriced, or rude. Individual stores are better-run than others sure, but in the main I would have to say that if you need to go buy something, start at Wal-Mart. And no, neither I nor anyone in my family, nor any of my personal friends works at Wal-Mart, just in case you were wondering.

PS – I apologize for the light blogging, but it appears that Blogger is also taking vacation. The write/edit pages take forever to load and process, and fail repeatedly. I can’t decide whether they have decided to follow the Ford motorcar or Lowe’s marketing method for their template.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Dark Marker In History

Forty-three years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas during a motorcade to a speaking event. The consequences of that day still affect our nation and culture, from security mindset (no President has ridden in an open-car motorcade since that day) to our trust in government. This second feature is most notable in the fact that a large portion of the population does not believe the findings of the Warren Commission were truthful, a condition which has been strong since 1967. Whether Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK on his own, with accomplices, or was an unwitting stooge as some maintain, is not the focus here, but rather the enduring controversy, which refuses to go away and which therefore has undermined trust and confidence in the federal government. Mistrust of President Johnson hurt his credibility to the point that he chose not to run for re-election in 1968, and no President since the Kennedy assassination has been completely free of suspicion of some kind.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Myth of Joe Average

As a Republican and as a Conservative, the election results from two weeks ago are still as painful as my stitches from surgery that same day. By any rational perspective, replacing the Republican majority in Congress with a Democratic one is sure to raise taxes, give away our rights to government control, and subject the nation to even larger doses of “Blame Bush” dysfunction. Perhaps thirty percent desires the last point, but I sincerely doubt that even one-fifth of the nation wants those other aspects of Donkey Rule. Yet the Democrats won, by playing on concerns about the Iraq War in many places, and by out and out lying to voters in many other places. It will be interesting to see how many of these “conservative” Democrats, elected in close races because they promised to avoid the extremism of Pelosi and Rangel, choose their word over their party, and who realizes that they cannot be Leftists and still be re-elected. But that is not what I am writing about today. Today I am writing about the myth of the average American.

I am an individualist. One reason I became a Conservative instead of a Liberal, was that in actual practice the Liberals demanded conformity to the party line far more often than Conservatives did. For all the claims by Liberals that they alone represented the people overall, it was always the Conservatives whose actual behavior encouraged me to think for myself, to express my opinion even when it was not in line with some national headquarters, and to advance new perspectives rather than just sit and listen to some appointed figurehead. That’s why I always found it so funny that Liberals accused Conservatives of supporting Bush in lockstep, when in actual fact the Republicans had trouble maintaining control at times because of the wide range of opinions on the key issues within their ranks. We are, by nature and by choice, far better in practice than they are, and truer to our promise than the Liberals have been for more than a generation.

But we failed. We let pettiness separate our different parts, and a struggle for supremacy pit us against each other. I have said before that a signal symptom of our weakness this year was that so many Republicans chose not to support President Bush, never realizing that the man who collected more votes in 2004 than anyone in history was key to their own survival – not because Bush was so popular, but because the Democrats’ plan was always based on pitting the Republicans against themselves, making Right-side voters choose between their President and their Congressman, which was finally resolved by so many who threw up their hands and stayed home, leaving the government to the people least trustworthy for the job.

This means we have a hard task ahead of us. First, the GOP has to get over its ego, stop playing territorial games and remember the lessons taught by Goldwater, Reagan, and George W. Bush. Then they have to listen to America, because even when the GOP comes back into power, it will be useless unless the party is serious about making promises which matter, and keeping them. Fortunately and unfortunately, the Democrats are fools.

There was a time when Democrats were formidable adversaries, who not only knew how to win elections but who had serious commitment to the health and welfare of America. Those days, however, were long ago – the Democrats have fallen into thinking that the win is everything, that popularity of the moment will somehow magically provide the legacy they crave, and that telling enough lies about Republicans will always fool enough people to keep them in power. That possibility exists, of course, as evidenced by the last election, but there is a crucial flaw in the Democrats’ thinking, one which could also hurt the Republicans, but to my mind not so much: The myth of Joe Average.

James Carville is pretty mad, but then, that’s normal for him. This time though, he’s blaming Howard Dean because he thinks the Democrats could have done much, much better in the elections, perhaps to the point of claiming veto-proof majorities now or in the near future. But Carville is wrong on this point. Not that the Democrats could not have enjoyed greater numbers than they gained; that could have happened if certain things had gone their way. But the Democrats made one crucial error; they looked at the collective demographics in each race and tried to appeal to what they saw as the Average American in each case. This was a mistake, and it says a lot about how the Democrats think of Americans, as if they were merely pawns rather than individuals. If you look at the ads the Democrats ran during the late campaign, along with the predictable slime attacks and lies about Republicans, there was a clear theme which tried to sell the Democrats as strong on National Security, dedicated to traditional American values, and determined to listen to the public, three key traits which in actual practice the Democrats as a whole and especially in their leadership have clearly not embraced in memory. So while resentment and anger in the guts of Republicans caused many of them to stay home, and bitterness about Iraq caused many Independent voters to forget about the strong economy, all the good done in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lack of terrorist attacks since 9/11 – three things we cannot expect a Democratic Congress to pay much attention to, either – and “send a message” by voting in the Party of Façade, not many people at all bought into the Donk ad campaigns. The Democrats won in spite of their advertising, not because of it. And while the actual ads will soon be forgotten, there is a taste in the mouths of the voters, best expressed in the sentiment sent to Democrats - ”You’d better not be lying to us again”.

Habits are hard things to break, though. For the Republicans, that means getting away from the turf fights and back to what made the party work – grassroots focus and listening to the people, all of them. Because there are tens of millions of people willing to speak their mind to the Republicans, and once they realize that the Democrats are only interested in selling to the theoretical “average” guy, with no mind to what real people need and demand, many more may be willing to give the Republicans a second chance, provided the Republicans show they won’t blow it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Don't Buy The Fake

Earlier today, my alma mater (which seems to be Latin for “imitation football team”) lost again to finish the season 4-8. The Bears were given a weak schedule, and they decided to play a weak game. This by itself I could live with; the Bears have been a distinctly bad team for a number of years now. But Baylor decided to start this season by bragging how they were going to a bowl this year. Yeah, good luck with that. The Bears lost four of their last five games, those losses coming by an average score of Real Team 50, Fake Team 21. The Bears couldn’t even talk the talk properly. What wins they Bears did get, came over a Division I-AA school, two teams heavily hurt by injuries, and the team headed for last place in its division. Weak, especially for all the boasting.

What’s this got to do with politics? Ever since the Democrats took both chambers of Congress, we’ve been hearing how this means the end of the Conservatives, that America has “repudiated” the Contract With America. I understand the excitement by the Donks; they have not won in a big way since 1992, and so this was a big deal for them. But they are wrong if they believe that the Conservatives are ruined by one election or put beyond returning to power sooner than they would like, and anyone who plays that song is playing the fool.

More people, even today, call themselves ‘conservative’ than ‘liberal’. More people respect the Republican President than the Democratic Congress, even now. While the Democrats have claimed power, they cannot keep their promises to both the nation which voted them in, and to the extremists whose money and energy has bought their souls, because the promises are exclusive one set to the other. If they defy their voters, they will not remain in the majority in 2008. If they find the courage to reject the Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan/Howard Dean/Kos cabal, they will fins a fight against a ruthless foe, and the resulting fracture of money and power may well cost them their control of Congress that way as well.

The Democrats pretend they have a mandate. And Faust thought he would never have to pay his price.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Joe Lieberman : A Man Beyond His Image

I am hardly surprised to learn that newly-reelected Senator Joe Lieberman has announced that he will caucus with the Democrats, and considers himself a “Democratic Independent”. Lieberman, after all, was the Democrat’s choice for their VP nomination in 2000, and his voting record is clearly left-of-center. There was frankly never a real chance that Lieberman would become a Republican. That said, the Democrats have a real problem, or at least the Harry Reid “Run Away” Military Strategy Team has one, with Joe Lieberman and some other Senators like him.

The Democrats wanted this election to be about George Bush, but whenever they played that card, they lost ground in the polls, and so the election became about the War in Iraq, an indirect attack on the man with whom Democrats are obsessed well past the point of compulsion. Early in 2006, Joe Lieberman made a statement which basically said that while he disagreed with how we got there, the United States must meet its commitment to Iraq, and that President Bush should given a measure of support for trying to stabilize the country. That statement alone cost him the support of the Democrats’ leadership, and led to his primary defeat by Ned Lamont. Lieberman never became a Conservative or a Republican, but his position cut a line between him and the extremist Democrats. That would have mattered not a bit to the Far-Left Democrats, but for one thing: They needed the “centrist” and “moderate” image in order to take over Congress. The 2006 version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became ”don’t let folks know for sure where you stand on the war”. And it worked, but with a price – there are now a number of Democrats who honestly believe the United States must stay in Iraq and finish the job, and many more who essentially promised their constituents that they were not going to cut and run. These Democrats understand that they cannot vote for a bug-out or anything like it, or they will pay in 2008. The Democrats took Congress all right, but they only have a 2-seat majority in the Senate and a lot of Democrats won House races by tight margins – if the Republicans could lose both chambers of Congress because they were seen as not listening to the people on Iraq, then certainly the Democrats can lose their thin majorities if they prove to have lied to the people. It is a mistake to believe that mistrust of the Republicans is a mandate for the Democrats; what exists now is a sort of ‘wait & see’ condition. If Pelosi thinks she can shove Leftist legislation onto people who were promised moderation, or if she thinks abandoning the military will result in anything but disaster, she will lose control of her party, as self-preservation instincts will kick in among those who come from Red states or places with a lot of soldiers’ hometowns (hint – the number of states which do not fit #1 or #2 is a small number), and chaos is a poor condition for campaigns. At some point, Republicans will find numerous chances to appear reasonable and appeal to common people on the most important issues, which for some reason the Democrats have as yet shown no interest in addressing.

The Democrats find themselves looking at two directions – they can protect their majority only by turning their back on their extremists, and they can only pander to their most violent sector by taking a course which is overwhelmingly likely to fracture their party and cost them control of Congress in a short matter of time. It may prove to be to the nation’s great relief that Senator Joe Lieberman, Independent Democrat, has forced them to look honestly at this condition.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Republican Will Be Elected President in 2008

The Democrats are having great fun this week. Flush with the “mandate” of an historically-average gain in the Midterm elections, the Democrats have convinced themselves of many myths. Inside of two years, however, the appeal of that fantasy will wear away to show the hollow core of the Democratic Party, a lie even in its name by now, and the nation will find its hope once again on the Right side of the aisle.

There are a number of reasons why this will happen. Part of this comes down to the devil’s deal the Democrats made, giving over their leadership to extreme Liberals – simple demographics prove that the American people have little interest in Leftist causes, and will not be quiet if/when the Democrats attempt to impose Socialism on them, as villains like Clinton, Pelosi, and Murtha have already hinted they mean to do. If you lie to take control as the Democrats did, by presenting yourself as “moderate”, you will find yourself hard-pressed to gain the trust of the people when your fraud is discovered.

Another part of this is apparent in the article I posted yesterday regarding Joe Trippi’s presumed field for the 2008 Democratic Nomination for President. This far ahead of the election, you’d expect a wide open field with a wide variety of ideas and policy courses to consider, but just as in past years, the Democrats have already begun to lock themselves into assumed choices; they love the box of conventional leadership, even if it means rehashing proven losers and candidates experienced only in posture and trash talk. By closing the door on any consideration of candidates not already anointed by the DNC, the Democrats not only reduce the scale of their approach to the people, but demonstrate a refusal to listen to the people whose voice will decide the matter in 2008. Certainly the Democrats may realize their mistake and correct it before the 2008 primaries get going, but their behavior now suggests they have committed themselves to the front-loaded process, even now that they know such a tactic leads to serious error and electoral cost.

Another part of this is simple history. One popular theory of why people vote for certain candidates or parties is called Voter Fatigue, and it is at least generally valid. The problems for Democrats are these – first, with the Democrats having grabbed the House and Senate, Voter Fatigue of the GOP has already been addressed and if it plays a role, it would be a reaction against the Democrats. But the historical example is also important. The White House changes hands between the parties, but most of the time there is a clear reason why it does so. In 1968, the Democrats had split against themselves and it cost them the White House; the Republicans did the same thing to a lesser degree in 1992, but with the same result. In 1976, the Democrats grabbed the White House but only an idiot would fail to understand that this was the result of clearly illegal actions by Richard Nixon – while extremists on the Left use the word “illegal” to describe Bush’s actions in office, they do not have legal support for their charges. If someone thinks that a Democrat vendetta against Bush, pursuing impeachment for his Iraq policies and decisions, would help them in 2008, I would remind the reader that while Bill Clinton later admitted to the truth of the charges in his own impeachment, there was nonetheless a political impetus as a result of the proceedings – in favor of Clinton and therefore the Democrats. Few people familiar with the evidence have any doubt that an attack on President Bush would end up hurting the Democrats.

In 1980, Reagan won the White House in a unique set of circumstances – double-digit Unemployment and Inflation, along with a sense that Carter had weakened American military strength and resolve. It is unlikely in the extreme that the Democrats could hope for a similar condition in 2008, especially since they now control the funding between now and then, and so would be blamed if the economy or the military collapsed from today’s present health.

Another thing which hurts the Democrats is the sense that they have gained the Congress, sort of “balancing” the scales. This would encourage many “moderates” to keep a Republican in the White House to make sure the Democrats did not get too much power – the Democrats are fooling themselves, if they believe that anger against the Republicans would equal blind trust in the Democrats. While Bush and Clinton both enjoyed elections with their party in control of Congress, Clinton’s re-election came with a GOP House. And historically, many Presidents have been perceived as a check on Congress – the public flat does not want a perceived extremist in the Oval Office – Dean, Pelosi, and Clinton have their fans, but they will none of them ever be President.

While I am thinking about it, I should also address the lie that President Bush’s approval poll numbers cost the GOP the election. First, while it is true that Dubya’s numbers were down in the fall of this year, they were rising for most of the late campaign, and most credible polls had the President around 40%; not impressive, but significantly better than approval numbers for either the Congressional Republicans or Democrats. While President Bush was not able to pull GOP candidates of the hole to re-election, they dug that hole themselves. It is therefore unreasonable to think that a “blame Bush” strategy by Democrats will bear much fruit in 2008, although I do expect all the Democrats to play that card at some time in their campaigns.

In the end, the only way the Republicans could fail to win the White House in 2008, would be if they completely lose their focus and nerve, and nominate some dolt along the lines of Olympia Snowe or Lincoln Chaffee – there are a number of salient avenues to the White House, though I sincerely pray that we will nominate a true Conservative and Reaganite, because no matter what condition we find the balance of power in 2009, the nation needs a leader whose backbone and vision are strong, and who will not play politics with the will of God. I trust the Republicans will once again make the right choice.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Laughter is the Best Medicine; Trippi’s Contribution to the Comedy

Well, November has not been kind to me. My car broke down, I passed a couple kidney stones, then I got appendicitis and had to have my appendix surgically removed while America had a brain fart and elected the party of Nuance to run Congress in both houses. I mean sure, the GOP had its share of empty suits and broken promises, but putting the government in the hands of a party which thinks leadership is exemplified by the John Conyers, who held fake impeachment hearings, or Howard Dean, who publicly considered seriously allegations of direct Presidential involvement in the 9/11 atrocities is very much like letting a toddler play with your Uzi; I guess when he shoots the neighbors the Donks would sue them for being in the way, and the Uzi company for making the gun they let the kid play with. Diversity means pointing the finger, after all.

Hysteria being in fashion with Liberals these days, even in victory, it is only fitting that we turn to the words of Joe Trippi, as ever the wanna-be man of influence. Trippi’s last adventure, you may recall, was the amusing fantasy that Howard Dean was Presidential timber. Yet Trippi does open a window into the mind of the Modern Democrat, and so his article at least serves a use for analysis.

Trippi wrote an interesting article for the Washington Post on Friday, where he mused on the Democrats’ “mandate” (notice that a smaller Democratic majority seems needed to constitute a “mandate”, hmmm?). To wit, the Donkey Nod for the 2008 Presidential Race – Trippi presumes the Donk control of the House and Senate is a foregone conclusion, which arrogance I believe is as misplaced as the notion that the GOP would hold them in 2006, but that’s for another article.

Trippi’s article should be read all the way through, to catch the flavor of his rather quaint assumptions about certain persons’ credentials, and his presumption that no Republican candidate will catch the imagination and support of America, but in short, here are his candidates for the 2008 Race, in Trippi’s order:

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Barack Obama
Al Gore
John Edwards
John Kerry
Joe Biden
Evan Bayh
Russ Feingold
Bill Richardson
Wesley Clark
Tom Vilsack

Eleven names, but representing really only three notions. Clinton, Gore, Edwards, Kerry, Biden. Feingold, and Clark, are all people who either failed to win or quit the race because they learned they could not win. Obama and Richardson are the ‘formula’ candidates – someone has worked up a profile, and they fit the cutout, but the men themselves are a bit lacking. And the last notion is the ‘great leader’ notion, the idea that doing a good job at the state level equals national appeal.

Permit me a moment to digest Mr. Trippi’s considered analysis …


OK, now that I have that out of my system, here’s why this field is likely to help get a Republican elected President again in 2008, assuming we can avoid screwing up the choice on our end:

Let’s start with what wins Presidential elections. First the acknowledged charismatic greats since 1960 on each side – Reagan for the Republicans, Kennedy for the Democrats, with Nixon and Dubya Bush winning double terms for the Pachyderms, with Bill Clinton winning a double term and Lyndon Johnson the last real rout for the Democrats. Besides them, we need to consider Daddy Bush for the Republicans and Jimmy Carter for the Democrats. Four on each side, accounting for every President since 1960 except Gerald Ford, who never got elected anyway.

Reagan and JFK clearly has charisma, Bill Clinton and Dubya too but to a lesser degree. LBJ and Nixon knew the system, and Bill Clinton had that quality as well. Daddy Bush and Jimmy Carter seemed like good decent men, when that quality mattered. Reagan and Dubya took care of their people, and they deeply loved and respected the military. So let’s take those qualities and set them out plainly:

Smart system pros
Decent guy
Loyalty to the team

Add to that two more qualities; tough in the clutch and unafraid to dream. The President does not usually have all of these qualities, but the more of them he has, the better. With those qualities in mind, then, I return to Mr. Trippi’s list and sort out the crowd, starting with two obvious names; Al Gore and John Kerry.

Al Gore thinks he should have been President because he won the popular vote in 2000. The fact that he just cannot let go of that lost election is a serious problem sign for him right from the start, but there’s more. Remember that screaming rant? Remember his snotty refusal to concede in 2000 until well past all reasonable chance of victory? Have you noticed the arrogant condescension in his propaganda piece, “An Inconvenient Truth”? Here’s the Gore standing on the requisite qualities, each on a scale of 1 to 5:

Charisma – 0. Gore still makes dead wood look lively.
System – 2. Gore knows the system, but he has two flaws. He spent all his chips trying to win 2000 on an unprecedented lawsuit/recount strategy, and he has Hillary against him all the way to the party convention.
Decency – 1. Gore is known as a manipulator and an opportunist.
Team Player – 0. Gore never once made an effort to help anyone else get elected. Gore is spelled with all “I”s.
Clutch Toughness – 3. Gore is stubborn, but burns bridges.
Vision – 1. Gore has no National Security plan, he has no plan to save Social Security, he has no plan to secure our borders. But he will attack SUVs.

Overall Score: 07 out of a possible 30 (23%)

Next, we look at John Kerry. Sorry to have to remind you John, but that “botched joke” is far from your only baggage. ‘For before you were against’ is still haunting you, and no one takes a Presidential candidate seriously who depends on “magic hat” stories and false recollections (like Nixon sending you into Cambodia before he was even President?) to bolster a suspicious war resume. Here’s Kerry’s report card on the requisite qualities:

Charisma – 0. Kerry is as boring as Gore.
System – 1. As a Senator, Kerry knows the politics, but not how things really get done. Kerry has absolutely one of the worst record in bills submitted and policies influenced.
Decency – 3. Kerry seems about average for a politician, no real scandals but no clear virtues.
Team Player – 0. Like Gore, everything that comes out of John Kerry’s mouth is in praise of himself.
Clutch Toughness – 0. A good nickname for Kerry from the 2004 campaign was ‘flipper’.
Vision – 0. The only thing we ever heard from John Kerry about what he would do as President, was a vague suggestion that he would let his party tell him what to do. That’s John Kerry’s idea of Leadership.

Overall Score: 04 out of a possible 30 (13%)

Considering these two guys were the Democrats’ idea of “winners” in the last two shots at the White House, those scores are not promising for Trippi’s start out of the box.

Next up is the long-presumed Donk frontrunner, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary has actually been President, you know – well, “co-President” as she reminded us in 1993. Remember Hillary Care? If she gets elected it will happen, you can count on that. Unfortunately for Hillary, the nation had an allergic reaction to her the first time they saw her up close, and for all her efforts to change her image, the ultimate Hillary remains a vicious shrew. Here’s the Hillary Scorecard:

Charisma – 0. When Hillary is trying to be nice, she comes off as fake. And when she is seen in character, the taste is truly awful.
System – 5. Hillary is shrewd, street-smart and a deft political operative.
Decency – 0. Hillary is ruthless, plain and dark. She’s hidden her skeletons under Bubba’s, but they are still there.
Team Player – 0. In 2004, Hillary made a number of appearances ostensibly in support of Kerry, but her name came first on the banners and all the money raised went into her coffers.
Clutch Toughness – 4. Hillary is junk-yard mean, a political gangsta in the mold of LBJ.
Vision – 2. Hillary knows how to speak the words, but there is no follow-through, no sense of her grasping the concept beyond her immediate gain.

Overall Score: 11 out of a possible 30 (37%)

Since we’re clearing out the oldies first, let’s just run down the list of has-beens Trippi thinks would still run well in 2008:

Joe Biden

Charisma – 0. Am I the only guy who sees a Democrat image of Joe McCarthy when I look at Joe Biden? I think a lot of people do.
System – 3. Biden knows the system. He does not seem to control it, however.
Decency – 0. Machiavelli had more scruples.
Team Player – 0. Biden is not a man to pick up the check share credit, or think about someone else.
Clutch Toughness – 3. Biden likes a fight. The bad news is, he doesn't know which ones to pick and which ones to avoid.
Vision – 0. The man can't see past his next union endorsement, and is so locked in the past he wonders why he can't find Dan Rather's newscasts anymore.

Overall Score: 06 out of a possible 30 (20%)

Russ Feingold

Charisma – 0. When's the last time anyone quoted Feingold? When's the last time a regular person indicated they knew who he even is?
System – 3. A has-been. Long ago. Nothing to indicate he is in charge for a lnog, long time.
Decency – 1. A self-serving opportunist, his chief regret in the Abramoff scandal is that he didn't make any money or influence off it.
Team Player – 2. Feingold knows how to play well, but always as a follower, never a leader.
Clutch Toughness – 1. When challenged, Feingold never hesitates to stand up immediately - and blame someone else.
Vision – 1. Feingold has ideas. Old ones, failed ones, unpopular ones, but yeah, he has ideas.

Overall Score: 08 out of a possible 30 (27%)

Wesley Clark ran on one issue; quitting Iraq. He is, therefore, already irrelevant to 2008, but Mr. Trippi does not seem to grasp that fact. Here’s his scorecard:

Charisma – 0. Clark was disliked by his fellow generals, was known as a boor in both military and political circles, and consistently failed to excite.
System – 1. Clark ran as an outsider. The problem is, he was so much an outsider, he was obviously clueless about how the government works. I gave him 1 point because as a former general, at least he is comfortable with bureaucracy.
Decency – 3. Average, nothing notable either direction.
Team Player – 0. Like everyone discussed so far, this guy demands the spotlight, even when he has nothing to add to the show.
Clutch Toughness – 0. When challenged in 2004, Clark was unprepared and looked out of his depth.
Vision – 0. Quick, what is the first thing Clark would do as President? Who would be his first cabinet appointment? Hear that silence? That’s the depth of the Clark plan.

Overall Score: 04 out of a possible 30 (13%)

Then there’s Bill Richardson. Everyone says what a great “resume” he has, and so does Trippi. Here’s the problem; Richardson has been around a lot, but his results are distinctly lacking. At least he’s been a governor, although anyone who thinks the former Governor of New Mexico would translate into Democrat wins in any other Southwest state does not understand the region.

Charisma – 2. He has regional appeal, but it’s not the ‘wow’ kind and it’s definitely not national. .
System – 3. Richardson knows how to run a small state government. No indication he is ready for the big time.
Decency – 3. Average
Team Player – 2. Supports his friends, hates his enemies.
Clutch Toughness – 3. Average, no evidence Richardson has ever been in a long, tough fight.
Vision – 2. If America is just like Tempe, Richardson’s your man. If more is required, Richardson is a poser.

Overall Score: 15 out of a possible 30 (50%)

By now you should have caught the theme. Let’s move on now to the ‘up and comers’, guys Trippi thinks are the future of the Democratic Party. The numbers get more serious in this group.

John Edwards

Charisma – 5. Edwards has flair, and knows how to speechify.
System – 0. Edwards has never yet shown he understands how to get things done. All flash, no substance.
Decency – 0. Edwards is a trial lawyer, total shark, willing to lie or smear his opponent to get his way.
Team Player – 0. Even when he was Kerry’s running mate, Edwards made no effort to put the top name first; Breck Boy was always making clear that he expected more to come for himself, and never a thought to anyone else.
Clutch Toughness – 0. Edwards got thumped in the VP Debates by Cheney. He showed his ‘wounded poodle’ side right then and there. His family herald should feature a man disguised as a woman with a white flag, running away.
Vision – 0. Edwards is paper-thin, the kind of guy to make a car salesman look like a moral paragon.

Overall Score: 5 out of a possible 30 (17%)

Barack Obama

Charisma – 5. Handsome, young, urbane and articulate, Obama shows well on television and carries himself well as long as he does not have to answer any hard questions. Reminds me of a black Gary Hart.
System – 2. He’s done well so far and is a fast riser, but he has no experience yet. No accomplishments besides being pretty.
Decency – 4. Seems like a good guy, but as yet unwilling to tackle moral issues directly.
Team Player – 4. gets along with just about everyone, and if there are rifts he does a good job of not letting them show.
Clutch Toughness – 0. Obama has never yet been tested, nor risen to a challenge.
Vision – 3. He’s not big on specifics, but Obama’s general optimism and fluent populism serve him well in general terms so far.

Overall Score: 18 out of a possible 30 (60%)

Evan Bayh

Charisma – 1. Bayh is a nice person who is generally well-respected. That does not translate into holding significant influence or being able to bring people aboard his plan. Note that there has as yet not been any “Bayh Bill” to make a major change, nor any grassroots movement to see this guy lead the country.
System – 4. Bayh knows the system, but A- he is a Senator, not a Governor, and B- Bayh acts like a follower, not a leader.
Decency – 5. By all accounts a decent man.
Team Player – 5. He really reminds me of Gerry Ford. Now is that good or bad?
Clutch Toughness – 0. Bayh has never once been in a tough fight, much less won one.
Vision – 0. What quote best sums up Evan Bayh? Anything come to mind?

Overall Score: 15 out of a possible 30 (50%)

Tom Vilsack

Charisma – 4. I hate to admit it, but Trippi may have a good candidate here. Personable and smart, Vilsack looks and sounds good. He should sell well in the Midwest and the Northeast in general, including some of the Bush territory.
System – 4. Nothing spectacular, but a good job as Governor. No mistakes to speak of.
Decency – 5. Very clean, and he looks it.
Team Player – 1. no significant alliances or major backers, but it’s early yet.
Clutch Toughness – 0. Vilsack has never yet been tested.
Vision – 1. Vilsack knows day-to-day. He has yet to show a comprehension suited to the big stage.

Overall Score: 15 out of a possible 30 (50%)

So, rated for actual qualities, here’s (back to front) Trippi’s list for 2008:

Wesley Clark – 13%
John Kerry – 13%
John Edwards – 17%
Joe Biden - 20%
Al Gore – 23%
Russ Feingold - 27%
Hillary Clinton – 37%
Evan Bayh – 50%
Bill Richardson – 50%
Tom Vilsack – 50%
Barack Obama – 60%

The sense I catch, is that Clark, Kerry, Edwards, Gore, and Clinton are out of the race but will fight that reality to some degree. Bayh and Richardson are not really suited to the job, nor have they shown the credentials they ought to have by now. That leaves Obama, Trippi’s presumed “rock star” for the Democrats, and Tom Vilsack, the Governor of Iowa. Obama will be more in the spotlight, because of his race, but Vilsack could be much more formidable when it comes down to really making the run. Both men are charismatic and intelligent, and they know how to present a clean face to the public.

The problem is, neither man has much experience in national leadership, and neither has really been in a test yet. Neither has made a statement about Terrorism, about Social Security, or about where they want to take America. It’s two years out, but the race is already underway, and these guys need to start their engines in terms of proving their place in the field. As for Trippi, I can’t quite decide if he included the nine losers along with the two strong candidates as a way to contrast the two groups, or if he really believes that people like Biden, Kerry, or Gore could possibly catch fire any more than a wet fish would.