Saturday, November 04, 2006

Speaker Pelosi?
I don't think so, and haven't.

I'll admit that I haven't been particularly active this campaign season. A big part of that is because I don't feel the pessimism the way a lot of Republicans do right now.

And I haven't yet this year. Why?

Well, Dean Barnett does a pretty good job of explaining my position: I just don't trust the polls.

My reasoning? Basically, I think that the pollsters are hearing a a lot of frustration with Congress, and interpreting that as an anti-incumbent pattern. They're then reinterpreting that as an anti-incumbent party (i.e. anti-Republican) trend.

I think this makes too many leaps of logic.

I also look at the people around me: the Republicans I know are pissed at the Republican Party, but have no intention of voting for Democrats, or of staying home. The Democrats I know (which is most of the people I know) are even more pissed at the Republican Party. But the Dems split, and they split about evenly—some are pissed and supporting the Democrat candidates full-throat, some are pissed and fed up with the whole system.

So, I think Barnett's right, though for slightly different reasons. I think the Republicans will turn out stronger than they're currently getting credit for, but because of different voter emotional responses more than because of voter turnout efforts. I also think that the polls are off, but not because they underrepresent Republicans—more because they think too highly of themselves.

I guess we'll see on Tuesday...

UPDATE [11/5/2006 - 22:21]: Mickey Kaus has evidence that the polls are starting to move in the direction I expected. Dems, get ready for a disappointing day...

Simply Fantastic
I picked this up from Ann Althouse, via InstaPundit.

My headline says it all. Watch both pieces, and you'll be amazed at the high-minded and hilarious conversation that results from Woody Allen chatting with Billy Graham.
Part 1:

And Part 2:

26 Years Ago Today
Ronald Reagan was elected to the office of President of the United States of America.

In lesser news, my sister-in-law was born. Happy birthday, Gina!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Prepare yourself for some rambling
As the title suggests, you'll need to bear with me for this one. I've got some things I need to say, and I'm not sure that my thoughts will be all that coherent. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. If you don't want to know what I'm thinking, then stop reading here. If you do, then I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you'll comment when I'm done. Anyway, here goes...

I'm just back from an event at Fairfield University—a discussion between Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor and publisher of The Nation) and William Kristol (editor of The Weekly Standard). This was part of a series of lectures called the Open Visions Forum, and in particular was their "Election Day Special" in this lecture series. Mr. Kristol opened with 15 minutes, followed by Ms. vanden Heuvel for 15 minutes. Next were a few (far too) long-winded questions from the moderator (Dr. Philip Eliasoph, a Professor in FU's Department of Visual and Performing Arts) for the speakers, a few questions from two student panelists, a few more from the moderator, and then a handful from the audience. As with most debates, I was frustrated by the format, but interested in what the speakers had to say.

I won't touch on the substantive things that were said tonight, but I am hoping to initiate a sort of "lecture series" of my own on this blog over the next few weeks and months. I know I've said it before, but I'm really feeling a need to get back into this blogging thing in a way I haven't over the past year. I simply do not have the bandwidth (or ability without losing my job) to post multiple times a day like I did back in college; that does not mean I cannot post a few times a week with more substantive thoughts.

So where is this coming from?

It started with an ongoing conversation that my brother initiated with me last week. It actually began with our father, and led to him drafting this post over at dcfb. As he says:

a big reason I haven't posted for so long is frustration. Frustration with the lack of progress in Iraq, frustration with the Bush Administration, frustration with Congress, and most of all frustration with feeling like there is nothing I can do about it. Well I'm tired of being frustrated; it just takes too much energy. So, I'm going to try to vent that frustration here.
One of the things we discussed was his frustration, and the fact that he felt a need to stop letting it get the better of him, and to try and do something about the roots of that frustration.

Well, I've been feeling similar sentiments myself.

Now, I openly admit that I am a partisan. I think the Republicans are completely off-base. Yes, you read that right. I said Republicans on purpose.

Unfortunately, the Democrats are far worse on just about every issue that frustrates me with Republicans. At the very least, they don't offer any alternatives worth discussing.

You can scroll down and see my evisceration of Kerry's playing politics while accusing others of playing politics for an illustration of this. Nobody is saying anything worthwhile because they're all too busy accusing each other of failing to say anything worthwhile or of saying the wrong things.

And the result, is someone like John Kerry making a joke about the intelligence of the administration and utterly failing to take up any of the very serious issues that he could consider at the present time.

So, to bring it back to my focus: I've been frustrated. I feel like there's no one out there who's even coming close to expressing what I believe. Sure, I think Chris Shays is a decent guy, and I know he's closer to what I believe than Diane Farrell. But do I really want to support him? I mean, Phil Maymin is far closer to what I believe. There's no way in hell, for example, Maymin would have supported BCRA (McCain-Feingold in the Senate, Shays-Meehan in the House), whereas Shays was a sponsor of it!

But Maymin is never going to win, and Shays, if I don't vote for him, could very well lose. Strategic thinking says, vote for Shays. And I probably will.

So, let's move on to the CT Senate election. Schlesinger is a joke who will never win. Lamont disagrees with just about everything I believe in. And Lieberman disagrees with me on just about everything but school vouchers and foreign policy, and even on that last one he's a much bigger cheerleader of the Bush Administration than I am these days. So who the hell do I vote for there?

Again, frustrated.

I supported the war in Iraq, and still think it was the right thing to do. I now think it was entirely botched not only in the prosecution, but also in the goals at the outset. I think that my brother's take is pretty much spot-on.

Yet again, frustrated. You get the point, I won't bore you with more examples.

So, my conversation with my brother has begun moving me to the point where I feel a need to stop being frustrated and start doing something about it, as he is doing. I helped him edit his Iraq post some (you can thank me for the sub-heads and most of the links—i.e. you can thank me for making it readable instead of one huge block of text). I felt a need to rip into Kerry—and if you made it to the end, you saw that it wasn't a partisan complaint, but one about politics in general.

And I feel the need to keep it up.

So, as I said, hopefully I'm going to find the time to provide you with more of my thoughts on every day events. I'll pick one or two issues per week on which to pontificate, and present you with the results.

Consider this morning's post the first in the series, serving as a general rant against the political noise machine of current politics. Consider tonight's post the second in the series.

And I hope to offer you more soon.

As I've said, this is my little effort to be heard, and to feel like I'm doing at least something. I can't change the system with my vote, so I'm going to lend more of my voice.

And please, please lend me yours in response. If you agree, if you disagree, stand up and be heard. (Unless you're John Kerry—he should still sit down and shut up.)

Who is handling Kerry?
Seriously, who are his advisors these days? Who thinks that these were the right things to say in response to his gaffe yesterday? Let's look at a transcript—that originated with Kerry's staffers—to see what he said. And yes, I'll be breaking in to comment.

Let me make it crystal clear, as crystal clear as I know how: I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.
All anyone heard is "I apologize to no one." This is one of the dumbest things politicians ever do. Just say you're sorry that you stumbled over your words and that you're sorry you offended people. THEN turn the tables and say "What I had intended to say is..." But apologize first, jackass.
If anyone owes our troops in the fields an apology, it is the President and his failed team and a Republican majority in the Congress that has been willing to stamp -- rubber-stamp policies that have done injury to our troops and to their families.
This should have come after a real apology. "Now I have apologized and I am truly sorry, but I am not the only one who owes an apology," or something like that.
My statement yesterday -- and the White House knows this full well -- was a botched joke about the president and the president's people, not about the troops.
So apologize for screwing it up.
The White House's attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe. It's a stunning statement about their willingness to reduce anything in America to raw politics. It's their willingness to distort, their willingness to mislead Americans, their willingness to exploit the troops, as they have so many times at backdrops, at so many speeches at which they have not told the American people the truth.
Actually, Senator, your "true statement" was a slurr about the troops. Your intended statement may have been different, but you are the one spinning your "true statement," not the White House. Oh, and, by the way, someday you're going to figure out that bloggers don't take their cues from the White House, and they got to this party long before the President's staff even knew you'd said something stupid.
I'm not going to stand for it.
Then sit down and shut up.
What our troops deserve is a winning strategy. And what they deserve is leadership that is up to the sacrifice that they're making.
Okay, John, lay it on me. What is the winning strategy? What do you propose? Any ideas? Remember: withdrawl is not victory, unless it truly is strategic and to accomplish other goals. So, Senator, what is your proposal for a winning strategy? Surely you're about to criticize the President for failing to have one, so you must have one of your own, right?
Sadly, this is the best that this administration can do in a month when we have lost 100 young men and women who have given their lives for a failed policy.
No proposal yet...
Over half the names on the Vietnam wall were put there after our leaders knew that our policy was wrong. And it was wrong that leaders were quiet then, and I'm not going to be quiet now.
Ah! So it's not that you think the troops deserve a policy for victory, then, is it Senator? No, you want leaders who admit that we've failed. And that's fine, if that's what you believe. But I have to ask: why do you try and pretend like you're after a victory strategy if you think it's a lost cause. The least you could do is admit you were wrong. Some people who supported the war like you did have admitted their mistake and proposed ways to go about fixing the situation. (More on this link later, but you should absolutely click it and read it in full). But you cannot bring yourself to say that you think we've failed because you're afraid you'll take a dip in the polls. So you stand up and say "Our troops demand a plan for victory!" while trying to convince the rest of us that victory cannot be achieved. You, sir, define hypocrisy. And I'm having a premonition... you'll do it again before the end of this press conference.
This is a textbook Republican campaign strategy: Try to change the topic; try to make someone else the issue; try to make something else said the issue, not the policy, not their responsibility.
Oops! There it is! This is ostensibly a press conference about what you said yesterday. And you've spun it to be about the President and the White House. I don't have a problem with that. As a student of political strategy, I can agree that it is an incredibly effective tactic. But don't you dare say it's a Republican tactic while you're in the middle of taking advantage yourself. Do you think we're idiots?
Well, everybody knows it's not working this time, and I'm not going to stand around and let it work.
This is akin to saying "Everybody's going over there, so I'm going to lead them over there!" It's what Kerry does. He tries to sniff the air and determine the prevailing wind before ordering the wind to blow in that direction. A lot of politicians do that—Kerry's problem is he's not any good at it.
If anyone thinks that a veteran, someone like me, who's been fighting my entire career to provide for veterans, to fight for their benefits, to help honor what their service is, if anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq and not the president and his people who put them there, they're crazy.
I invite you to remember that Kerry began his political career by accusing Vietnam soldiers of having "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads... randomly shot at civilians... in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." (Source)
It's just wrong. This is a classic GOP textbook Republican campaign tactic.
Now you're hypocritical and redundant.
I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes.
Then lead by example. Take responsibility for the mistake you made yesterday morning and stop trying to make other people the "butt" of that mistake. (I don't even know what that means, but we'll go with it for parallelism's sake.)
I'm sick and tired of a whole bunch of Republican attacks, most of which come from people who never wore the uniform and never had the courage to stand up and go to war themselves.
The first criticism of Kerry's statement came from Senator McCain. Did he ever wear the uniform? I can't seem to remember. And who else has joined the chorus? Well, lots of non-partisans, including, for example, The American Legion.
Enough is enough. We're not going to stand for this. This policy is broken. And this president and his administration didn't do their homework. They didn't study what would happen in Iraq. They didn't study and listen to the people who were the experts and would have told them.
And how many of these experts did you talk to, Senator? It must have been a lot, since you voted against the war to start with. Of course, then you voted for it. But now you're against it, and that's what's important, right?
And they know that's what I was talking about yesterday. I'm not going to be lectured by a White House or by the likes of Rush Limbaugh who's taking a day off from mimicking and attacking Michael J. Fox, who's now going to try to attack me and lie about me and distort me.
Okay, this is one I love. It calls to mind Kerry's initial press release in response to his gaffe, in which he called Rush Limbaugh "doughy." Which is just hilariously stupid.

Now, as for the "attacks and lies and distortions." Well, Senator, they're just quoting exactly what you said. They are not distorting it in any way. I'd say it sounds like you're trying to distort your actual words in favor of your intended words. But, while we're at it, I've read reports that W did better at Yale than you did. So was this actually a self-deprecating joke for your failure to vote against something that you now believe was such a horrible mistake? It must be, right? You wouldn't play off of the stereotype that a man who did better in school than you is an idiot just to get a laugh, would you? No, of course not.
No way. It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who've never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did.
But those who wore the uniform are invited to lie about those who didn't. And disregard those (McCain, among others) who did.
It's over.

This administration has given us a Katrina foreign policy: mistake upon mistake upon mistake; unwilling to give our troops the armor that they need; unwilling to have enough troops in place; unwilling to give them the Humvees that they deserve to protect them; unwilling to have a coalition that is adequate to be able to defend our interests.
So what do we do now, John. Propose something, for heaven's sake. One thing. ANYthing. But no, you want to rehash the mistakes instead of moving forward. Because you don't have any ideas. You don't know where to go from here. And the only way you have a prayer at winning votes (and you'd be doing a lot better if you weren't such an idiot with such apparently tasty feet) is by focusing on moot points.
Our own intelligence agency has told us they're creating more terrorists, not less. They're making us less safe, not more.
They also said that North Korea is years away from developing nuclear weapons and that Iraq had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Oops! But by all means, let's listen to them when they back up what we want to believe and disregard their general failure to do anything right.
I think Americans are sick and tired of this game. These Republicans are afraid to stand up and debate a real veteran on this topic. And they're afraid to debate -- you know, they want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men.
Yes John, you are a real man. So, um, where's the outrage that he just attacked the masculinity of all Republicans? How is this any different than calling the opposition "girlie men"?
Well, we're going to have a real debate in this country about this policy. The bottom line is: These Republicans want to distort this policy. And, this time, it won't work because we are going to stay in their face with the truth.
What policy are we debating? Whether we should have gone to war in the first place? Whether we should stay there now? I thought you were demanding a policy for victory, not demanding to debate a policy for victory. Which is it?
And no Democrat is going to be bullied by these people, by these kinds of attacks that have no place in American politics. It's time to set our policy correct.
Hah. No Democrat will be bullied, because they're too busy bullying. What was John Kerry's allegedly intended joke? It was a slight at a man's intelligence. Is this the kind of high-minded debate that the Senator would prefer?
They have a stand-still-and-lose policy in Iraq and they have a cut-and-run policy in Afghanistan. And the fact is, our troops, who have served heroically, who deserve better, deserve leadership that is up to their sacrifice, period.
Obviously he'd prefer that we stand-still in Afghanistan and cut-and-run in Iraq.

Seriously, folks, and I want you to understand this clearly: I have been a fervent supporter of the Iraq war from the start, and I have been having plenty of doubts lately. I linked above to a piece that my brother recently posted on Diet Coke For Breakfast about where we stand in this war and where we should be going from here. I encourage everyone to read it clearly, and to comment on his post or here with your thoughts. This is an important question that is not getting coverage in a broad audience.

Instead, we have asshats like John Kerry who want to talk in platitudes about failed policies and crack jokes about dumb presidents instead of sit down and come up with solutions. It is men like John Kerry that are the reason government will never be the solution to most of life's problems—because they rise to the top by worrying about their own image, rather than by showing the qualities of leadership and grace that would allow government to act with restraint and allow individuals to thrive, while intervening only where absolutely necessary. Instead, to a man like Kerry, it is better to lend half-efforts that look good and in the meantime destroy the possibility that people can rise up and succeed themselves. I know that has nothing to do with the war, but it's the same problem.

Kerry would rather look like he cares about victory in Iraq and the war on Islamofascism than actually take a stand for something that might make the situation better.

He's not just a flip-flopper, he's a pussy who's afraid to be wrong.

Now, I'm not going to go onto the Q&A section, because it's largely repetitive. But I invite you to click over to the full transcript and read that section too.

Most importantly, get over to dcfb and let us know what you think about my brother's proposals.

UPDATE [11/2/2006 - 0:03]: James Taranto has similar thoughts.