Saturday, September 30, 2006

How To Build Bill Clinton’s Legacy – Lesson One is ‘Shut Up’

By now, everyone has heard about former President (yes, this guy was once a sitting President of the United States) Bill Clinton’s altercation with Chris Wallace on Fox News. The tantrum on national television brought joy to comedians and cartoonists, stress to the political aspirations of a number of politicians (especially a certain Senator for the State of New York), and additional damage to the supposed existence of a “legacy” for William Jefferson Clinton. I have no intention of addressing the specifics of the debate from that noisy interview, as others have already done so admirably, and in any case to advance the Leftist lie even through refuting it is not morally palatable. Besides, this article addresses that most elusive of Clintonian qualities, durable accomplishments. There is a way, actually, for Bill Clinton to ease memories of his less-laudable moments, and to establish something on which he may yet demonstrate that much-vaunted intellect and perceptivity. The road to that goal lies through the example of fellow former President Richard Milhous Nixon.

Yep, old “Tricky Dick” himself. Nixon actually did quite a bit during his two terms which was notable ands even worthy of some praise, but he blew it all away because of Watergate. Humorist Dave Barry once speculated that an enemy must have somehow installed a “stupid ray” in the White House, because every President has moments which are too stupid to explain in any normal way. In Nixon’s case, Barry observed that Nixon was undone by secret tape recordings which proved what he was saying and thinking during the Watergate scandal. Barry pointed out how strange it was, to consider that Nixon was the one person fully aware of the taping and yet was the one person damaged the most by them. A brilliant man undone by an incredibly stupid chain of decisions. Nixon resigned rather than face certain impeachment. Clinton won’t want to admit it, but he has a certain similarity to Nixon on that level, wouldn’t you say?

But I am not here to heckle Clinton, seriously. You see, By the time he died, Richard Nixon had done quite a bit to rehabilitate his reputation, to the point that even Democrats were publicly accepting him as something of an elder statesman. Anyone familiar with the names and descriptions of Nixon circa 1975 would be amazed by that transformation. To be sure, the most rabid Nixon-hater never forgave him, but the average person did. This has figured in creating a legacy for Nixon which focuses on his Administration in a kinder light. No, he will not be thought of as a “great” President, but his name is not ridiculed and his reputation is actually above average. While he may grind his teeth to follow in the footsteps of a hated enemy, Bill Clinton may find that this way is the only viable course.

The first step is often the hardest, and this may be excruciatingly so for Clinton. You see, the first thing Nixon did after resigning was to go home and shut up. Nixon gave no interviews, wrote no books, and made no attempt to stick his nose into things for more than a decade after leaving the White House. He answered Presidents who called on him, yes, and he continued personal writings and research at home, and when the time was appropriate he did produce books and essays and interviews, but not while the emotions were still raw and the hatred still venomous. One of the biggest post-office mistakes which Bill Clinton has made, is to continue stoking those fires by shooting his mouth off at every opportunity.

You don't seem a bad sort, Mister Clinton. Lots of people find you likable and intelligent. But if you really want to have that legacy, you are going to have to learn when to shut up and sit down.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

DEFCON What? The War Quality of a Candidate

“Sir, wake up. An event has occurred.”

I didn’t have to open my eyes to recognize the voice. Not the individual, but the type. Young, male. military, calm but urgent. Which meant that something somewhere had gone very wrong, very fast, and could get worse if nothing was done soon or the wrong choice was made. I sighed, swung my legs over the side of the bed onto the floor and got up.

And I was alone in my bedroom at home. There was no one there at all. A dream had awakened me.

Thinking about that dream, I gave up trying to sort out specifics, but chewed on a few generalities in my mind. And one of those is what it means to be President of the United States.

One of the more stupid charges tossed out from time to time, is to try to insult the President for taking “vacation”. That word is a misnomer, because Presidents do not get the chance to get away from the job and relax. The plain fact is, Presidents never get vacations; even former Presidents find that they cannot simply visit a mall or take in a movie – the current culture requires advance planning for even the most mundane activity – ask Bill Clinton how easy it is for him to go to a McDonald’s these days, or G.H.W. Bush to decide on the spur of the moment to go golfing. And for the sitting President, that “vacation” is all work. All it really means is a change of location, and some pretty scenery – a lot of people are clueless to how often Presidents hold private conferences with key foreign and Congressional leaders while on “vacation”; Carter’s Egypt-Israel peace treaty started with phone conversations during one of Carter’s “vacations”. Dubya has met with Tony Blair, Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister Koizumi, and many other leaders while on “vacation”. And do I really need to remind the reader that every President, regardless of party or circumstance, is never far from the “football” or aides who will not hesitate to inform him of serious events? You know, now I think about it it’s no wonder no President ever had a child conceived while he was in office – the knowledge that a Secret Service agent could enter without any warning would “kill the mood” for anybody. Well, almost anybody.

But getting back to the topic under discussion, when Americans are choosing a President, it is important to realize that the war condition of the nation is a critical factor. I would suggest that when people are worried about conflict, they are less likely to consider changing the party in leadership, but when things are relaxed and going well in national security terms, they will consider alternatives more readily. Sometimes the more competent leader is seen in the light of who can lead effectively in time of war. In other times, war seems unpopular or irrelevant and a war leader is less respected than an economic leader. With that in mind, consider the war qualifications of the following failed candidates:

Dewey 1948 Economic leader, not seen as a war leader
Stevenson 1952, 1956 Intellectual, not a war leader
Nixon 1960, 1968 Not seen as a war leader, hurt him in 1960 but
helped him in 1968 (seen as war leader in 1972)
Goldwater 1964 Depicted as emotional and unstable
Humphrey 1968 Not seen as a war leader
McGovern 1972 Not seen as a war leader
Ford 1976 Not seen as a war leader (given Vietnam and Carter’s Navy experience)
Carter 1980 Seen as militarily incompetent
Mondale 1984 Not seen as a war leader
Dukakis 1988 Not seen as a war leader
Bush 1992 War experience seen as irrelevant
Dole 1996 War experience seen as irrelevant
Gore 2000 Not seen as a war leader
Kerry 2004 Not seen as a war leader

This overly-simple description of these men is not meant to slap them, but examine them in the context of their election year. Truman looked tougher than Dewey, General Eisenhower more than Stevenson, former Navy officer JFK over Nixon, reasonable Nixon over indecisive Humphrey or partisan Wallace, war-hardened Nixon over McGovern, reasonable Carter over reflexive Ford, decisive Reagan over timid Carter and Mondale, war veteran GHW Bush over wanna-be Dukakis, peacetime-priorities Clinton over war relics Bush and Dole, “Dubya” Bush tougher than Al “Treeman” Gore.

It’s probably too soon to get an accurate fix on the 2004 election, though. Did Bush win over Kerry because Bush was seen as tougher than Kerry, who trotted out tired old overdone stories whenever he wanted to sell his cred, or was it that Kerry seemed to dwell on Iraq all the time, while Bush seemed more reasonable talking about job growth and Social Security reform? I have a sneaking suspicion that Bush carried more cred than Kerry because of his record – what moron thought you could sell a ex-Vietnam protestor as a war hero? But I also suspect that Bush sold his case in more than one dimension, while Kerry droned on about magic hats and his wounded pride.

In conclusion, it seems to me that we are all aware that every single President is awakened sooner or later by that aide or young officer. And we elect Presidents in some measure on the assumption of how they will address the issue. The optimal candidate will have the foresight to anticipate the crisis; the wisdom to place the best-qualified officials to address the specific needs and to trust them to know their job; the intelligence and diligence to develop a plan and make changes or adjustments as necessary; and the courage to stand – alone if necessary – behind the plan through its completion. In retrospect, the decisions of the past elections make these points clear, and it is significant to consider who, among the many who want the job, is really capable to carry that burden in the next Administration.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When Zombies Go Suicidal

I am not much of a fan of horror movies. It’s not just that I don’t find much to like about the gore and carnage of such fare, but the plots frankly strain credulity. The present state of the Democratic Party of the United States certainly strikes me the same way; like a bad zombie movie where nothing makes sense, yet the show remains popular.

Bill “Braaaaaaains” Clinton is suddenly a classic example. If he really believed his spiel, all he really needed to do was ignore the ABC movie and answer Chris Wallace’s questions with the same dignity and maturity which the Bushes in office have done for the past two decades, and he could establish something of credibility. If he had pointed out the fact that every significant investigation into 9/11 has shown flaws and mistakes on the part of both Administrations to encounter bin Laden, and admitted his errors while explaining the context of his decisions, Clinton could have supported both his reputation and that of Democrats. Instead, former President Clinton threw a tantrum, tossed out lies and excuses, and reminded America why his party could not be trusted with Crisis Management decisions.

I wrote a factually sound article about why our next President needs to be as much like George W. Bush as possible. I posted that article on both Wizbang Politics and Stolen Thunder, where it was largely well-received by those adults who read it ( turns smirk off ).

On Wizbang Politics, one type-capable zombie using the name “Alex” presented a series of statements which purported to “recap” the George W. Bush administration. These statements are fascinating not only in their degree of dishonesty, but also as a text to the mindset of the Zombie Left. I present them here:

“1. Before 9/11 Bush spent 42% of that time on vacation, while ignoring all warnings about Bin Laden; such as a report entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack within the United States".
2. Bush lied to the country when he said that there were WMDs, that Saddam Hussein had a connection to 9/11, and that Saddam Hussein was buying Yellow Cake Uranium from Niger.
3. When we had Bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, Bush redirected troops to Iraq where there was absolutely no threat to us.
4. He has purposely used terror to scare voters into voting for him as demonstrated here
5. He has created the largest deficit in US history, out of the biggest surplus in US history created by President Clinton.
6. It took him days to order federal response units into Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
8. He has repeatedly condoned torture, and violated the Geneva convention.
9. He has also violated the constitution by authorizing warrantless wiretaps on innocent Americans.
10. He has vetoed only one bill, for stem cell research, a bill that would save lives. Instead the stem cells will just be discarded.”

Like scratching an itch, answering these lies is something of a reflex, but I will do so anyway.

1. Anyone who thinks “vacation” for a sitting President means relaxing and ignoring the world is brain-dead. Every President, Bush included, spends his “vacation” making decisions, meeting with world leaders and leadership from both major parties, and is kept briefed on all major events. Alex seems to be unaware of this, just as he seems to have forgotten that the August brief he referenced had zero actionable information, and was no more than a summary of general intentions. It is also a poor tactic for Alex to play, since questioning Bush’s focus during his eight months prior to 9/11 naturally invites attention to what President Clinton did during his eight years in office. That’s just zombie-dumb …
2. Like children who won’t give up on fairy tales, the Left must cling to the “Bush Lied” canard long after it died from lack of substance. But just for the exercise, here are the facts. First, the war was never just about WMD, but even if we focus just on that for this lie from Alex, “WMD” is Nuclear, but also Biological and Chemical weapons. The fact is that Saddam had active programs in all three categories, hid evidence for all three from inspectors, and literally hundreds of chemical warheads for shells and missiles – that would be those “stockpiles” the Zombie Left kept denying. One warehouse in Iraq held 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium, by the way - more than enough to make several crude but very real nuclear weapons. As for Saddam Hussein’s shopping habits, Alex has listened keenly to Joe Wilson lie about various things, but has missed the fact that British Intelligence still stands by its report that Saddam did, in fact, plan and attempt to buy uranium from Niger. Alex is not even telling original lies, much less believable lies …
3. While Alex may possess psychic abilities, the claim that we had bin Laden “cornered” is an opinion not shared by professionals, nor is it truthful to pretend that the President of the United States micromanages to the degree of troop allocation between locations. It is similarly false – and laughable, since the Zombie Left is usually moaning about casualties – to pretend that there was no threat from Iraq. But I have not read a military overview yet from a Zombie Liberal which demonstrated a sense of orientation, much less mission acuity…
4. Pretending that discussing the issues which concern voters the most is somehow “scaring” them into voting for him is almost as absurd as submitting a Zombie Leftist website as a valid source to prove his claim. But I should not be too harsh; Alex would be hard pressed indeed to find evidence to support this lie from any objective source …
5. Leftists must cross their fingers every time they toss out that lie, because even a grade-school education in Social Studies would catch them out. Congress makes the budget, not the President. And those deficits and surpluses come from the actual spending decisions made by Congress. Now, it is true that the White House submits a budget – and those submissions by Clinton are not especially impressive. I also have a good laugh at that “biggest deficit” and “biggest surplus” lie – as a percentage of GDP the current deficit is far from the worst, and by the way even that deficit is shrinking. You might note the “record revenues” part from that report before the next time you lie about tax cuts being ‘only for the rich’ or ‘bad for the country’. And while I’m thinking about it, the ‘Clinton Surplus’ was just another one of those fables told by Democrats – Clinton promised a surplus but there was never a real surplus – the Clinton Administration changed its method of Accounting (they created the so-called “unified” system, which does not follow GAAP) and projected possible surpluses in the future, based on best-case conditions which do not occur in real-world conditions. But Liberals are not on good terms with real-world conditions …
6. Yet another big lie. As I have mentioned before, President George W. Bush authorized federal assistance for the Gulf Coast in general and the State of Louisiana in particular on August 26 2005, more than two days before Hurricane Katrina landed on the shores of Louisiana and hit New Orleans. If you want to find someone who delayed giving authorization for relief and help to get where it needed to be, you will have to look to people like Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco. My personal “most guilty”, as I have always said, is Major General Bennett C. Landreneau, whose duck n’ deny method of accountability showed up ugly and often in how he advised the people who needed information and coordination of action. Alex is destitute where facts and honesty come into consideration…
7. was empty. Apparently Zombie Central lost the signal to tell Alex what lie and insult to enter on this line.
8. Alex has never read the Geneva Convention or he would know what that treaty prescribes for non-government combatants who kill civilians, and like all Zombie Liberals his definition of “torture” always comes down to mean any action he can defame in order to smear the military and the President. We don’t saw people’s heads off, we don’t kidnap kids off the streets, but Alex can’t tell the difference…
9. Alex should actually read the U.S. Constitution sometime. Maybe that part about the President being “Commander-in-Chief” of the military, or noting that Constitutional Rights cannot and do not apply to foreign agents, especially those attempting to kill Americans? But this would likely still be lost on Alex, who talks about “warrantless” where no warrant is needed, “wiretaps” where no wiretaps were used, and “innocent Americans” where the subjects were reasonably believed to be neither innocent nor American. Alex’s charge is as stupid as it is dishonest …
10. And like a lame “Top Ten” routine on a particularly bad night for Dave Letterman, Alex finishes with the charge that not vetoing bills is bad unless one happens to like the bill. And as for any bill ‘saving lives’, give me a break. Not one person’s life was saved by stem cell research. Maybe such research has value, maybe not, but that is a contentious moral and scientific issue still in hot debate, and whether fetal cells are necessary or even the best choice for such research is also a point far from decided. The notion that a President who has been very consistent in pro-Child decisions would continue to do so in this arena is not an area where I would think Liberals would want to shine a light. As with all his other charges, Alex’s attempt here not only fails to persuade, but even small consideration of the facts leads one towards the Right side of the question.

Which brings me to the reason for this article. Republicans and Democrats are once again in that stupid Dance-Of-The-Stuffed-Suits we see every couple years. Predictable as those Zombies I mentioned at the start of this article, these men and women go after political targets of opportunity full bore. It’s almost frightening to see the mindless pack of politicos in action.

But this season the Democrats have started something different. Those zombies are increasingly attacking each other, even as they seem to believe they are attacking the Republicans. While Alex’s dishonest and stupid allegations are easy to refute, it’s strange to see how many on the Left have embraced such tactics. As I mentioned, Bill Clinton could have made a measured statement or two to deflect attention to his National Security decisions, but instead made sure the whole country noticed his record. Democrats could have shown Hugo Chavez the door and made clear their support for civil politics, but instead tried to play it both ways, condemning Chavez while sponsoring events for him. Liberals could have shown that despite dissenting with the President about going to war, they support the troops by supporting the success of their mission and trusting the men in the boots over there, but they chose not to do so. Democrats could have come up with specific and constructive plans for the economy and National Defense, but instead fell back on the same old screech and whine plays they have tried in past elections, and which always lost. It’s a lot like seeing a mob of zombies go after each other. Bring popcorn.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

IQ 086 and Falling?

Work is insane right now.

Various stresses at home right now.

I have two tests this week, one more next week, two assignments due plus starting on two term papers ... then mid-terms in eleven days.

Blogging will be intermittent, sorry.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Loss and Remembrance

Kitty Myers’ mother has passed away. Her article is poignant and articulate, far better than I could manage when my father passed away in April of this year.

I have not really been able to face my father’s death. When I started blogging again, I simply went back to political nit-picking and the usual fool-foorah for a mind on auto-pilot, and shoved grief into a neat little box. That box is still there, waiting in the back of my psyche for me to deal with it. I have busied myself with family, work, and my MBA studies, but I realize that someday I will have to come to terms. For here and now, my heart goes out to Kitty, and I pray the Lord will grant her family comfort in this time.

Chief Hurtt Must Resign

The performance of Houston Police Department Chief Harold L. Hurtt has reached unacceptable levels. The recent death of Officer Rodney Johnson at the hands of an illegal migrant from Mexico is simply the latest and most obvious example of Hurtt’s incompetence and stone-faced apathy to the needs of his officers and the city.

Hurtt was the guy who thought that red-light cameras at intersections to increase ticket revenue was better than protecting safety by using police officers.

Hurtt is the guy who decided HPD officers could not pursue suspects in chases, a decision which ran directly counter to the officers’ experienced opinion.

And when Rodney Johnson was gunned down by an illegal who should never have been in the United States at all, Hurtt refused to allow HPD officers even ask suspects if they are in the United States legally, much less take them off the streets. Mayor Bill White asked Chief Hurtt to reconsider his – well, his consistently stupid and dangerous decision – last December, but Hurtt did not bother to reconsider, and now a police officer is dead in part because of that policy.

Chief Hurtt is not even available to answer questions and criticisms from Houstonians; he went off on a trip to give speeches in Arizona and North Carolina immediately after Officer Johnson's death. Almost as if the murder of one of his officers brings him no worry or grief.

Resign, Chief Hurtt.


Before your policies and politics get more people killed.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

America Needs Another Bush

It is said, and truly, that a wise man never dissents with a wise woman. I fear I am about to prove I am not a wise man, but I must.

In her article Saturday, The Anchoress said the following:

“I am more convinced than ever that I don’t want to see another president named Clinton or Bush for a very long time. I’ve had enough of this whole Hatfield/McCoy scene. I don’t think the wide rift that exists between parties can possibly be healed - for the better of our nation - while these two families are in power.”

I am sorry to differ, milady, but you are wrong. And the error must be challenged*.

I am not anti-Clinton, per se. Recently I wrote an article defending President Clinton somewhat, with regard to his efforts on National Security. While I agree with criticism in some specific instances, I agree with The Anchoress that people who use only hindsight demand an unreasonable perfection, and hold officials to an impossible standard.

I also wrote recently about a disturbing article in the off-mainline press which tried to cast Clinton as a madman, and if true in its specifics it admitted to a deliberate attempt to weaken National Security rather than allow the President to do his job.

But that said, the attempts to equivocate between elected officials named Clinton and elected officials named Bush are disingenuous and more, dangerous in their falsity. While I do not blame pre-9/11 officials for not being able to foresee and therefore prevent that monstrous wrong, I stop short of suggesting that such a viewpoint is appropriate or tolerable in a national official now. To show what I mean, just consider that Tom Harkin, Democrat, claimed that immediately after the 9/11 attacks, that every nation on earth, including (and Harkin emphasized this part) Islamic governments. Harkin charged that President Bush “squandered” that “good will”. (ht Powerline)

Think about that. First off, we’ve heard a lot things like that from Democrats for the last five years, so Harkin can fairly be said to represent the Democrats’ voice. And I challenge his claim. We all knew within days that the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden were all directly responsible for the attacks. Did Afghanistan offer to turn them over for trial? Did Saddam Hussein offer to help round them up? Did any Islamic government step up and offer to catch the monsters?

Obviously, no, not one of them made any such offer. They made public gestures of sympathy, but in action they were silent, or worse. I do not know whether the threat attributed to Mr. Armitage is true or not, but if so it raises my estimate of the man; that was precisely what needed to be said at that place and time.

I am old enough to know the evils of war. But I am also old enough to have learned that such evils show up many times when someone believes that cowardice will be safer, that the expedient will somehow cost less; the butcher’s bill is always paid, and always by those with the resolve to say “This ends here” to men like bin Laden, Hussein … and men like Ahmahdinejad, Assad, and Jintao.

And so I look forward to 2008. Uneasily, because the Democrats have abandoned almost all pretense of a fair fight, and they will use pretty much any device or method to gain control of the White House. The Republican candidate therefore must win in 2008, of the nation will suffer for it, because – and it is sad to have to say this about a major political party – there is no chance at all that the Democrats’ nominee will be competent or resolute in the charge to defend the nation. Thus the GOP nominee must be attractive to the public in a way the Left cannot easily pervert, and I believe this is what The Anchoress means. That said, this nation cannot stand a Republican in the White House either, if that Republican lacks the vision, resolve, or backbone to face down the enemy, whether in Teheran or across the aisle in Washington. Therefore, this nation cannot afford to see someone named McCain, Frist, Hagel or Tancredo. We need another George “Dubya” Bush.

No, I am not saying find a way for the man to run again, nor do I mean that it’s time for Jeb. But whomever plans to represent the party had better be planning to learn from our current President and apply his doctrine. They can make their own name on a host of domestic issues and pressing concerns, but where defending the nation is concerned, there must be a strong Crawford flavor to the next President’s policies and directives.

(*UPDATE The Anchoress has kindly reminded me that my statements ought to be logical, and so I have corrected this one at her suggestion. Thank you, lady. )