Monday, December 31, 2007

Tell us what you really think, Fred

In a rambling seventeen minute video, Fred Thompson manages to squeeze "Left-Wing-Big-Government-High-Taxing-Weak-on-Defense-Democratic Party" into about four seconds. If only the rest of the message was so concise.

In the grand scheme of things, a voter in Iowa probably ought to see a single seventeen minute video as preferable to the onslaught of political ads blanketing the airwaves.

At the urging of another blog, I watched the whole video after attempting to watch it earlier but stopping out of sheer boredom.

In the video, Fred summarizes his philosophies and policies, he makes the case that he can reach out to the Zell Miller Democrats whose party has drifted away from them, and he argues against the pursuit of power for its own sake. There. That didn't take long, did it?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday Roundup: Hillary the Interventionist

On ABC's This Week, Hillary Clinton casually discussed her advice to her husband that the US intervene militarily in the Rwandan genocide. Does anybody else think this subject was a little too big to be discussed so briefly and recklessly? I've grown to have some respect for George Stephanopolous as a journalist and host, but he never developed that Russert-esque zeal for nailing an interviewee. I blame GS's timidity more than his history as a Clintonista for this oversight.

I was slightly irritated with Clinton' posthumous first-name-basis with Benazir Bhutto. I was also a little confused as to how she could have played such an integral part in WJC's Presidency without noticing that an intern had repeatedly slobbered on her husband.

McCain was also on This Week, and did no harm nor good. Ho-Hum.

On Meet the Press, Obama pulled out the "master of a broken system" argument, which I think works very well, and which I've discussed a little in the previous post. Obama did well, making no major gaffes and seems to have worked a little on filling out his empty suit, or at least appearing to do so.

Huckabee was also on MTP, and much to my chagrin, performed well as a matter of political theater. Though I dislike Huckabee, I couldn't argue with most of his statements about Romney. The exception to this was Huck's response to the criticism over his "bunker mentality" statement about the Bush administration. Romney's point was that there is a right way and a wrong way to criticize administration policy - namely, criticizing the policy (or its implementation) rather than making broad personal attacks against what one supposes is in the mind of another.

Thompson was apparently on Fox News Sunday. I haven't yet watched it but it's supposedly pretty ho-hum as well.

"Master of a Broken System"

Responding to Hillary Clinton's claim that her greater "experience" as co-President First Lady gives her a leg-up on other candidates, Barack Obama called Senator Clinton the "master of a broken system". According to Obama, you can't expect Washington insiders to fix the problems of Washington.

I think he has a point. In fact, his point is broader than the Presidential election; it has implications for every office from President to Dog Catcher.

My thoughts turned immediately to the race I'm involved in, for William Russell over Congressman John Murtha. The Wash-Post has recently joined the ranks of the Wall Street Journal, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, and other papers in digging into Murtha's role as Johnstown's biggest employer.

WaPo's "Millions in Earmarks Purchase Little of Use" calls into question why Concurrent Technologies is a non-profit charitable organization, why the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence (run by Concurrent) has put only nine systems (out of 500 developed) in more than just one military installation, and how so many millions of dollars in earmarks producing so little can be allowed to go on for so long.

"Something is very wrong here. Why is the government pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a contractor whose work it isn't using?" said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group in the District that has examined defense spending over the years.

Indeed. The Congress' needless defense earmarks are detracting from real military needs. Murtha is the master of a broken system that short changes our armed forces and the taxpayers. Murtha however, is unapologetic for bringing home indiscriminate pork to his district.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bill Richardson still an idiot

I can't get over the insanity of those who think Bill Richardson is a polished statesman.

Can't we just replace him with Horatio Sans and be done with it, "Dave" style?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Federal Judge Fantasizes about Dictatorship

Ya just can't make this sort of stuff up!

Federal Judge Midge Rendell, wife of PA Governor Ed Rendell and a Clinton appointee, causally daydreamed in front of The National Association of Women Judges - “Gee, a benevolent dictator would really be good right about now to, to put in health care and to put in some of these policies that we all want, but somehow the gridlock within the legislature makes it impossible.”

Um, if we all wanted those things we might have elected people to do that. But we didn't. So maybe we don't all want those things.

[Insert predictable rant against liberal fascism here. Some assembly required.]

Not quite as bad as Will Smith's "Hitler" thing, but dang.

Thanks to PA Rep Metcalfe for bringing this to our collective attention.

Process of Elimination: Still Fred

I've criticized Fred Thompson a little bit on this blog, but it's mostly been on the style rather than the substance. Fred still has the substance. I basically agree with the following video's process-of-elimination argument, but it would be nice if it hadn't come to that sort of calculus.

I haven't thrown up in my mouth, but I do get queasy. Puppies? Take 'em or leave 'em. But I'm still for Fred.

Monday, December 24, 2007

WaPo to Dobbs, Dems: Eat it.

Somebody at the Washington Post has noticed that all the Lou-Dobbsian and Democratic rhetoric about the middle class just isn't so.

"[T]he entire "decline" of the middle class came from people moving up the income ladder."

"Assets have grown faster than debts for most middle-class families."

"And Commerce Department data show that even at the state level, including in Midwestern "Rust Belt" states, employment is up at least 14 percent since 1993, the year the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed."

"Per capita income has increased by at least 15 percent in every state since 1993 -- a good sign that state economies are large enough to adapt to the changing economy."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Congress doesn't believe in science

Nobody seems happy with the omnibus spending bill except Congressional appropriators and the President. Among the bill's many faults, it seems scientific research has suffered at the altar of the 1.2 x 10^4 earmarks. Many programs were given "meager" increases of less than one percent, or outright cuts.

What's sticking in my craw? Cuts to Dept of Energy Fusion research and High Energy Physics.

'Cuz who would want nuclear fusion energy anyway?

A Big Typo

The Omnibus spending bill had a $31 Billion "typo" in it that threatened to hold the bill up.

Heaven forbid we slow down enough to actually see what's in the bill... Clearly the Senate clerk is at fault, and none of the very careful Senate appropriators.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Announcement: Campaign Activities

I've written before about William Russell's campaign for Congress against seventy-gajillion term incumbent John Murtha. I've been in contact with the campaign, met the candidate and campaign manager, and I will be volunteering some of my time as Outreach Coordinator.

This campaign is hitting the ground running. The Camp. Mgr. is a USMC veteran and has a multi-decade career in political affairs. The structural model for the campaign is based on very good social science foundation which has been successfully field-tested in Bush's presidential campaigns. Russell has already gotten some earned media from the Mark Levin radio show and the BBC (in addition to local media coverage), and the campaign has been in contact with Limbaugh and Hannity.

(Audio from the Mark Levin Show on 11-30-2007 is available here for the time being.)

Everything is on track to make sure the whole nation knows there's a real challenger in the 12th District of Pennsylvania. Russell is starting with a bang.

Please help Western Pennsylvania embrace a more hopeful, ethical, and prosperous future by donating to the campaign.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Rahm Emanuel: Senate a Mistake

This NYTimes article describes an all-too-familiar situation of partisan wrangling in the Congress between parties and houses.

The extent to which there have been "filibusters" or "obstructionism" is disputed though.

Democrats blame Republican obstruction. “They are filibustering as if they are on steroids,” Mr. Reid said.

Republicans say the Democrats are to blame, for pursuing a partisan agenda. They also say Democrats call for votes to end filibusters that do not exist and, in some cases, seek to end debate on bills before debate has started.

Things are so bad between Mr. Reid and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, that in some cases they even fight about whether they are fighting about something.

It's pretty standard stuff, but now that the Republicans are accused of being obstructionist, Congressman Rahm Emanuel (in the Dem leadership, former Clintonite, former DCCC chair) has decided the Senate, as an institution, is for the birds:

“As an amateur student of constitutional history and as a member of Congress, I have come to the conclusion that the Senate was a historic mistake,” said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the No. 4 Democrat.

"Amateur" indeed. The whole purpose of a bicameral legislature is to stop stupid bills. To be, essentially, obstructionist when need be.

One can only wonder how such otherwise obviously intelligent people get elected without knowing the first thing about why our Constitution functions.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Blind Squirrel finds Acorn

From the "duh" department,

"Military Weighs Recruiting Afghan Tribes to Fight Taliban"

You mean we weren't doing that before?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

MTP: Webb's first trip to Iraq

Yeah, that's right. Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb just made his very first trip to Iraq. I was extremely surprised to hear that the Dems' new point man in the Senate on military issues had made his first trip after offering lengthy and numerous pontifications on that subject.

On Meet the Press, Webb called on the Bush administration to engage in "robust diplomacy", and to bring surrounding nations to the table. Why is this a good idea? Robust diplomacy can backfire, as it has numerous times with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Since when have American diplomats been able to use the sheer force of will to change the behavior of other players? The surrounding nations "with a dog in the fight" don't have an incentive to give up their interests for a stronger Iraq, and they often have the opposite incentive.

Perhaps a better strategy would be to cut off surrounding nations and make the Iraqi factions come to their own solutions. That's pretty much what we've been doing, and this in concert with the surge has shown progress heretofore unseen.

Webb argued that the Sunni Anbar awakening began before the surge, and that much of the improvement we have seen since the surge began has had little to do with the surge. Why then, were prominent Democrats loudly proclaiming the nascent surge a failure as early as July when it had barely begun? Shouldn't the data have reflected improvement by then?

I acknowledge that the surge by itself has not been 100% determinate in the events that have transpired since it began. We've caught quite a few lucky breaks. But neither can the Anbar awakening be viewed in a vacuum. The tribal leaders knew we were making additional commitments, and they used that information and took that opportunity to break with AQI. I doubt that the awakening would have been nearly as successful without American support.

Webb at least hinted that cutting off funding for the mission was "not a winning formula", which hopefully indicates that Democrats will once again give in on that issue.

Huckabee feels your pain

Or at least in his former life as a Baptist minster he saw "what it looks like" to see cradle-to-grave trials and tribulations ordinary people experience, as Huckabee explained on ABC's This Week.

Much as I dislike Huckabee-the-candidate, he performed well for George Stephanopoulos. Underneath the WJClintonesque veneer though, I think he has no philosophical opposition to larger government under the guise of what some have called "heroic" (nee "compasionate") conservatism, and he showcased his unwillingness to be firm on illegal immigration issues.

He's a liberal who's against abortion.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Stem Cells A'Plenty

Can Science Save the GOP?

This Time Magazine column says it can't. New procedures have been discovered to coax adult skin cells into a pluripotent form, perhaps as effective as controversial embryonic stem cells.

The author, stricken with Parkinson's disease, says not only that we shouldn't abandon research on embryonic stem cells, but we should not forget the six years between Bush's funding decision in 2001 and now because they demonstrate the GOP's misplaced value of embryos over the ill.

While one must have some sympathy of the author's personal plight, I am also within my rights to be insulted by the insinuation that Republicans just don't care. Diseases potentially treatable by embryonic stem cells don't just target Democrats. Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain all have had cancer, and Mitt Romney's wife Ann suffers from multiple sclerosis. My own grandfather suffered from Parkinson's disease before developing terminal lymphoma. My other grandfather suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Pardon me if I take the author's Absolute Moral Authority™ with a grain of salt.

The author claims that Bush "ban[ned] almost all federal financing of embryonic-stem-cell research in 2001" when in fact there had never been any federal financing, and that "[t]he result has been a severe reduction in embryonic-stem-cell research," which is clearly false since there had never been significant research in this area, and is further false in that research has increased due to private and state level initiatives.

Like the Time author, I was once of the opinion that discarded embryos from fertility clinics might be an acceptable source of scientific material. I was later made aware of what would likely happen if embryonic stem cell research actually turned out to be as good as we've been promised; Millions of human embryos would need to be cloned in colossal scientific facilities in order to meet the demand for compatible tissue. Excuse me if I think that sounds a bit creepy.

Hearing once again about how the Republicans "don't believe in science", I'm also reminded of the Left's tendency to oppose some other science that benefits man - genetic modifications of food-source organisms. We dare not eat cloned beef, pest-resistant corn, or vitamin enhanced rice. Some would rather we not even spray our crops with insecticides. We can't "play God" by genetically altering our food, but we can genetically alter ourselves any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Monsanto is the bogeyman.

The hypocrisy boggles the mind.