Friday, January 11, 2008

Thought for the Day Jan 11 2008

When you listen only to the enemies of a man, you know only how his enemies think. You do not know the man himself.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hugh Hewitt: Arrogant Shill

Most days I love to read and hear what Hugh Hewitt has to say. His columns and radio show have a lot of perspective and news on all the day’s political events. But Hewitt can get a bit full of himself at times, and when he does the results are not good for Conservatives. As an example, today I am writing about Hewitt’s inexcusable conduct regarding the Presidential race.

Those who follow Hewitt know he’s a big support of Governor Mitt Romney. No complaint there from me, I have looked up Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts and his work as CEO of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, as well as his position statements, and he’d make a good President, I think. The problem comes when someone other than Romney is considered. Again, I have no problem with anyone explaining why they think their guy is better, but Hewitt does not stop there. Instead, Hewitt has been waging a campaign of sliming every candidate not named ‘Romney‘, and casting their credentials falsely and, frankly, showing a crude and hostile attitude that sure sounds to me like he is afraid of anyone matching the candidates up on their actual work and positions. If you check his blog, for example, you will see a number of entries designed to whack John McCain. For instance, about halfway down the page there is an entry which Hugh read on-air Wednesday afternoon, to the effect that an endorsement by Domino’s pizza mogul Tom Monoghan represents “an effort to save the GOP from capture by the anti-conservative John McCain and the neopopulist Mike Huckabee”. By that logic, the top runners should really push to grab that all-important ‘Jared’ nod from Subway, to be sure they have that demographic covered. I won’t guess at the value of the Jack-in-the-Box and McDonald’s endorsements, even though they would appear to represent a huge part of the country, because we are already too aware of well-known clowns in close contact with politicians. But Hewitt is using the pizza schtick to sell attacks on McCain and Huckabee. Hey, I agree that neither McCain nor Huckabee would get my first choice of vote, but Hewitt has been treating them rather nastily. The reader will also note that Hewitt deals with the campaigns from Mayor Giuliani and Senator Thompson by simply ignoring them.

What annoyed me was not that Hewitt has a horse in the race, but that he wants to snipe at the other jockeys. He made an on-air statement Wednesday afternoon to the effect, that if you did not vote for Romney, you were wasting your vote, that only Romney was an acceptable GOP nominee, and that only Romney could win in the General Election for the Republicans. Because I consider Mr. Hewitt to be a well-educated man who is fully informed on the candidates’ positions and records, I’d have to call that a rather rude and arrogant lie, a deliberate malignment of men who deserve much better from a purported man of integrity who claims to honestly report the race as it is, but who instead is painting over the picture to show what he wants rather than the true condition. We get enough of that from the Left and properly call it out when we see it, and so I must cry ‘foul!’ here.

Maybe it’s because I wanted Condi to run, that I can see the existing candidates a bit more impartially than Hewitt does. There are good and weak qualities to every one of the Republican candidates, and while I have my own preferences, I don’t pretend that I could therefore lie about other Republicans in order to make my guy look better. Maybe it’s that I recall Reagan’s 11th Commandment a bit better than Mr. Hewitt seems able to manage (and no, taking a lying commentator to task is not the same as maligning the Republican leaders and candidates), or maybe it’s that I can see that whoever the GOP selects for its nominee, it will necessarily be better than the opposing selection from the Democrats, and as such the GOP nominee must be supported by Conservatives because, like it or not, the alternative would be far worse. We have a critical strategic situation in the Middle East, which no Democrat can be trusted to direct. The immigration question must not be decided on the question of how many new voters your party can add by letting illegals vote. Taxation cannot be left in the hands of people who think of tax revenue as belonging to the government, or who do not understand that more government is by nature damaging to the power of the economy. The nomination of federal judges and SCOTUS justices cannot be left in the hands of people who think the Constitution can be manipulated to suit the mood of the present culture. The power and influence of the United States cannot be left to the whims of people who claim we must suborn our sovereignty to the preferences of other nations. Any Republican is, by definition, more desirable for the welfare of the United States and more committed to the ideals of her Constitution than any Democrat, as things stand today.

As much as I normally respect and applaud Hugh Hewitt on his thoughts and opinions, in this case he is doing Governor Romney no favors, as he is showing himself a shill in behavior and arrogant in character, and feeding the greatest weakness in the Republican side of the election, the sense that if the preferable candidate does not gain the nomination, that the Republican nominee should be abandoned. Hewitt is doing the DNC’s work for them when he forgets that any Republican is better than any Democrat in this election, and that while it is right and good to support your man, you must not do so by tearing down the good qualities of other contenders.

Hewitt owes apologies to all of the Republican candidates for President. To Giuliani and Thompson for his silence on their qualifications on the issues he pretends only Romney has addressed, to McCain and Huckabee for refusing to balance their credentials in the light of actual positions and for overstating their errors and missteps, portraying each as an enemy of the Republicans rather than simply less desirable from his point-of-view. To Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, and Alan Keyes, for treating them as not worthy of mention simply because they do not lead in the race. And to Mitt Romney, for being a distinctly uncivil partisan while presenting himself as a supporter. Friends like Hewitt are doing Romney no favors.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Party at the Death Star

“Clinton upsets Obama”. That was a favorite headline in many newspapers today, and it tells an interesting story. Many pundits have been treating Iowa and New Hampshire as if they were snapshot images of the national race, which of course is not so – Hugh Hewitt observed the same thing on his radio show yesterday that I had noticed before, that if you worked nights in Iowa or were on call, like a cop or a fireman, say, you did not get a say in that caucus. And as for New Hampshire, look I’m sure it’s a nice state with many good people, but it’s still one of our dinkier states, out of the way and not really a good barometer for how places like Florida or Texas will vote.

I also find it peculiar how many pundits are calling this a “comeback”. Excuse me, we’ve had one caucus and one primary. For anyone to be impressed with someone “coming back” at this point would be like talking about a team’s amazing comeback early in the first quarter of the game. I know there is intense pressure for the paid media hacks to say something all the time, but do they really have to do Britney Spears impressions during the political analysis?

It’s also weird, how many people are surprised by the results. I mean, Obama and Huckabee, two guys who have driven their numbers by getting a few key people to the right place here and there, won Iowa by doing the same thing there. Hillary won a state close to her home state of New York, why is this a shock? John McCain grabbed Independent votes in New Hampshire, just as he did in 2000. Why does this surprise anyone? Guess what, I bet Hillary wins in New York and Obama takes Illinois, maybe that counts for a bold prediction as things go now?

But to the title. Yes indeed, She-Who-Would-Whack-Her-Enemies is greatly relieved to have won the New Hampshire Primary, which means mandatory partying throughout the Empire, or at least the Empire State. Now, that is news. That’s on a par with Tiger Woods sweating out whether he will get invited to a tourney, or Tom Brady worrying whether he will get to start on Sunday. At least, if the Machine is everything we have been told all this time. So smart, so experienced, so vital to America’s future, so … inevitable, but now we see maybe not. I mean, either Hillary was so worried about getting through an early test in a state which matters about as much to the Democratic nomination as I do to the Republican nomination that she teared up in emotion this week, or else she’s a conniving liar reminiscent of the worst dirty tricks by Tricky Dick Nixon or Lyin’ Lyndon Johnson. Either way, we’re seeing some something interesting this early in the campaign, evidence that Hillary’s not nearly in control to the degree she advertises. And this is very bad news for the Dark Side Candidate; Obama is running as the Candidate for Change, while Edwards is running as the Class Warfare Candidate. The only hand Hillary can play is the Candidate in Control. If this past week is a true indicator of how weak Hillary’s game plan really is, we can expect a truly explosive campaign in weeks to come.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Brief Discussion About Christian Fundamentalists

Some of my Christian friends are quite disparaging about Christian fundamentalists. This usually comes from an unforunate emphasis by the media in characterizing fundamentalists solely as angry, rigid believers who who believe not only that their faith is the only correct one, but who consider it their mission to force others to change their belliefs to fit the desired mold. While such people certainly exist, they do not represent the whole of fundamentalist Christianity. After all, Christian fundamentalists run the spectrum from the relatively intolerant Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones University, to the peaceful and unobstrusive Amish and Mennonite communities. It occurs to me that a brief discussion about the different kinds of Christian fundamentalist would be fruitful. Christian Fundamentalism is the belief that certain aspects of Christianity are critical in importance. This leads to three sub-groups of Fundamentalists:

1. Militant Fundamentalists – who believe that Christianity is the only true faith and Fundamentalist Christianity is the only true Christianity. This group tends to demand rote obedience to strict doctrines, and is intolerant of individualism or unconventional behavior. This group tends to connect “acceptable” Christian identity with certain cultural norms, dress, behavior, speech, and is aggressive in recruiting. Coercion is common as a tactic.

2. Insecure Fundamentalists – who believe that the version of Christianity they hold is the “best” version, down to which version of the Bible they approve and how they conduct services and prayer. This group tends to be vocal in evangelism and is senstitive to cultural norms, preferring a ‘comfort zone’ where everyone acts according to a community interest rather than self-interest. This group is not hostile to other beliefs, but considers them incorrect and tends to conduct debate on the assumption that the other person does not yet know the truth, as represented by the Fundamentalist’s comprehension.

3. Individualist Fundamentalists – who believe that all humans tend to sin, and therefore no human is fit to judge another person. For this group, the Gospel is intensely personal, and the Fundamentalist aspect of the faith is the process of anchoring faith and its profession on key trustworthy aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. This group is looser in form and emphasizes compassion for others, devotion to personal integrity, and respect for the person as key teachings of Jesus Christ. This group does not consider all beliefs equally true, but accepts that all beliefs are valid to some degree depending on the individual case, and agrees that God speaks to all His children in whatever way they can accept. This group recruits through encouraging people to seek truth for themselves, and to test assumptions and reject stereotypes.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Fog of Politics

Well, Sunday morning has traditionally been the time for politicians to go on television and demonstrate the limits of their comprehension. With the 2008 Presidential campaigns in full Primary mode, this means that the POTUS wannabe’s have held the stage on the latest incarnation of the ‘Gong Show’. Over on “Meet the Press”, for example, I saw John McCain chatting up Tim Russert about Iraq, playing a position only a politico like McCain could hold; that it was right to go into Iraq, but that he would have done it without the mistakes made by the Bush Administration. This is not only an arrogant thing to claim, but demonstrates a serious flaw in understanding war, especially for a candidate who boasts so much about his experience in this matter. War never goes as planned, and every President makes mistakes in his military decisions. Bill Clinton had Mogadishu and the Balkans, Bush I failed to take out Saddam when he could, Reagan had Beirut, and Carter had Iran, Panama, SALT, and a depressing array of faux pas. And so on.

Early leaders also made mistakes. During the Civil War, President Lincoln trusted the fate of the Union Army to George McClellan. McClellan had a bad habit of evading risk, and therefore missed numerous opportunities to end the war early. Lincoln finally realized his mistake in trusting McClellan with the Army and relieved him of it. McClellan’s consequence for his timidity? He was the 1864 nominee for President by the Democratic Party, showing that even then, war could and would be manipulated for political gain.

Even George Washington made mistakes. As commander of the Rebel forces in the Revolutionary War, Washington made a series of mistakes in the early war which not only lost Long Island and Manhattan, but turned public opinion in New York against him. Moreover, Washington approved raids into Canada which proved disastrous, costing Washington precious resources and gaining nothing for his pains.

None of this is meant to impugn the decisions made by these men, though some were clearly more successful in their policies than others. But it is apparent to anyone who studies History, that if a candidate for President implies that he will not make mistakes in the performance of that office, he is other lying or dangerously unrealistic. Both pro-war and anti-war contingents have sold arguments which implied that if their position had been embraced and supported by everyone, nothing serious would have gone wrong. The problem with either side, is that the enemy does not subscribe to our point-of-view in the slightest. It is ludicrous in the extreme to imagine that we could invade Iraq, hold the territory, gain the trust of the people, and establish a democratic republic in less than half a decade without serious complications. On the other hand, the notion that we could leave a dictatorship like Saddam Hussein intact without serious threats to our National Security is dangerously unreasonable; Iraq had made and used WMD in its past, had twice invaded neighboring countries, and had broken every major tenet of the 1991 cease-fire. Either decision, to invade Iraq or to leave Saddam in place, invited serious consequences.

Also, it should be understood that the 3,909 American military deaths in Iraq is among our most cheaper wars in cost. Here’s a list of wars we fought with greater cost:

American Revolution: 4,435 battle deaths
Civil War: 214,938 battle deaths
World War I: 53,402 battle deaths
World War II: 291,557 battle deaths
Korean War: 33,741 battle deaths
Vietnam War: 47,424 battle deaths

The reader may note that these tallies include only battle deaths, while the 3,909 deaths in Iraq include non-battle deaths. Historians will no doubt be aware that each war is different, and while some wars see few deaths outside of actual combat, others suffer relatively heavy casualties away from battlefields. It is, again, a sign of inexperience to claim that the IEDs and sniper attacks represent a failed policy, rather than a deadly evolution of warfare, one which could not be anticipated and which is therefore no one’s fault. The attempts to politicize the conflict through false accusations are nothing new, but are even so reprehensible.

When deciding on a candidate for your vote in 2008, one key is not so much which side of the decision they take, as their honesty in admitting that every leader makes mistakes, and that they will as well. So far, I have yet to hear many candidates make that admission.