Because

The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Good government at a fair price

What exactly is good government? Jefferson thought it was one that "effectively secures the rights of the people and the fruits of their labor, promotes their happiness, and does their will." Somehow that the definition has narrowed over the past 200 years to simply making sure there's no hanky-panky going on in the legislature. Instead of being concerned about the end legislative product, good government advocates fret over such things as so-called "campaign finance reform" and ending penny-ante gifts from lobbyists to legislators. Of course, the former is nothing but a bureaucratic power grab and an attempt by the party raising less from big donors to limit the other party's advantage, and the latter is what I like to call a "trophy wife" argument: it looks good but doesn't really do anything.

Years ago, I worked for a congressman, and the two of us were sitting at some industry group's annual Capitol luncheon on the Hill. We were munching on turkey sandwiches and the congressman picked his up,looked at it and said, "Do you know there are people out there who believe my vote can be bought by a mere turkey sandwich?" Looking around, he continued, "This luncheon has absolutely nothing to do with bribing me, but is all a big piece of theater designed by the lobbyist to justify his budget. He puts on this thing, invites a couple dozen congressmen from important committees, and has the board members of his association and the officers and directors of the association's corporate clients all fly in to the Capitol from Peoria and Omaha. When they get here, he takes them around table to table and introduces them to the legislators by name. His sole intent is for the rubes to head back home thinking that he must be doing a fine job considering all the congressmen he knows." Sure enough, not five minutes later the parade of corporate vice presidents began.

I am not suggesting that there have not been cases of lobbyists trying to buy votes from legislators, but to claim a total gift ban would somehow stop payola is like suggesting a law to stop the concealed carry of a gun will stop armed robbery. If the good government types are really concerned about a few steak dinners determining the course of state health insurance legislation then they should focus on disclosure bills that would make any gift giving public information. If the voters don't like who their legislators are eating with, then they have very effective ways of ending their freeloading.
 
Centinel 3:19 PM # | |

What is a "crimson" anyway?

While hardly original, the "George Bush" wing of the Yale student body shows it is ready to lead.
 
Centinel 11:42 AM # | |

My foreign policy post

I admit that foreign policy doesn't light my Cohiba and that I really could care less about who finally assumes power in the Ukraine, but I will say that I am eternally thankful that Hillary Clinton does not look like this (the photo is of Yuliya Tymoshenko, former Deputy Prime Minister of the Ukraine).
 
Centinel 7:51 AM # | |

Centinel's Field Guide to the North American Liberal Yankee

1860: Southern states have no legal or moral right to secede just because they don't like who is elected president.

2004: Northern states should consider seceding because they don't like who is elected president.
 
Centinel 7:42 AM # | |

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Centinel's Field Guide to the North American Liberal, p. 2

(Helping you identify Liberal logic in the wild.)

When a Democrat demands a recount due to election irregularities it is a responsible protection of interests.

When a Republican demands a recount due to election irregularities it is "suspicious" and likely an attempt to intimidate minority voters.
 
Centinel 3:25 PM # | |

Do gays, bisexuals, and transgendereds share a locker room?

Now that Congress has pushed through the $388 billion 1995 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Citizens Against Government Waste has once again collected its list of its favorite pork barrel projects, including:

$3.5 million for bus acquisition in Atlanta, Ga.;
$2 million for kitchen relocation in Fairbanks North Star Borough in Fairbanks, Alaska;
$1.5 million for a demonstration project to transport naturally chilled water from Lake Ontario to Lake Onondaga;
$500,000 for the Kincaid Park Soccer and Nordic Ski Center in Anchorage, Alaska;
$250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.;
$200,000 for Fenton Street Village pedestrian linkages in Montgomery Co., Md.;
$100,000 for a municipal swimming pool in Ottawa, Kan.;
$100,000 for the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Punxsutawney, Pa.;
$80,000 for the San Diego Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center;
$75,000 for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis.;
$35,000 for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame; and
$25,000 for fitness equipment for the YMCA in Bradford County, Pa.
My thanks to Congress for funding a budget that will make my gluttony over the next few days seem modest in comparison.
 
Centinel 12:35 PM # | |

I'm just a bill

Do you remember high school civics class? Sometimes I look back on mine and laugh at the naive simplicity that went into the preparation of that textbook. Remember that great "How a Bill Becomes a Law" chart? Who came up with that thing? This guy? Where was the box that said, "bottled in committee by chairman looking for trade votes on a pet bill" or "killed by a 'poison pill' amendment"? After years of experience in politics and law it has become clear to me that civics class was a exercise in hopeful idiocy, if not out-and-out deception.

Of course, it also didn't help that my my civics teacher, the assistant football coach, spent the first 15 minutes of every class ranting about his personal demon, the national debt, until, his anger sated, he would slump in his chair, tell us to be quiet until the end of class, and proceed to read the newspaper while moving his lips. Nor did it help that the guy who sat next to me was the standard issue none-too-bright, football-playing bully who had to screw around at all times. (Didn't you hate that guy? I used to sit there as he tried to stick paper airplanes in the ceiling tiles and think, "Laugh it up Hotshot, because in 10 years you'll be cleaning my pool." Of course, he went on to become a well-known professional wrestler who is, I'm sure, making enough money to support a small European country. And I still don't have a pool. But I'm not bitter. Really.)

What's scary is that, for the overwhelming majority of voters, high school civics was the apex of their formal education on the workings of government. That's right -- our political future is being decided by people who still believe that the Supreme Court's decisions are not governed by political concerns and that Congressmen actually have minor involvement with the laws they pass.

Clearly the answer to the problem is better educated assistant football coaches.
 
Centinel 7:25 AM # | |

Monday, November 22, 2004

Do they have a bong tax?

One day that cool, beautiful, metrosexual, high-tech, liberal thing San Francisco has got going is not going to be enough to cover all of the nanny state checks it has cashed, and the place is going to implode like the Braves during the post season. Of course, the resulting black hole will go a long way toward solving the nation's landfill problems.
 
Centinel 2:55 PM # | |

Centinel's Field Guide to the North American Liberal, p. 1

Allowing congressional committee chairmen to see individual tax returns is bad because it is an invasion of privacy.

Allowing customs agents to randomly read international mail is good because we're stopping child molesters.
 
Centinel 12:41 PM # | |

I used to love her, but I had to kill her.

The FBI is claiming that there were over 7,400 so-called "hate crimes" last year. The FBI commends all other criminals for committing crimes under more altruistic motives.
 
Centinel 11:20 AM # | |

Predictions

Karl Rove will be Time's 2004 Person of the Year.
The Red Sox will be SI's Sportsman of the Year.
J. Harvie Wilkinson will be the next Chief Justice.
Oklahoma will be BCS National Champion, and undefeated Auburn will egg Norman.
Jason White will win the Heisman Trophy.
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King will win Best Picture.
 
Centinel 9:32 AM # | |

Whither democracy?*

Hang around the fringe on the Right long enough and you will be told that"America is a Republic, not a Democracy." While this is an oversimplification of political philosophy, the discourse itself is helpful in understanding the "undemocratic" aspects of our institutions. A "pure" democracy would be a goverment that perfectly channels majority will into political reality. Therefore, if a majority of Americans believe that squash should be illegal (something I could get behind) then it is -- no discussion. It doesn't take a Subway Sandwich Artist to see that pure democracy is unworkable in ways that are too numerous to count.

Suffice to say, the Founding Fathers recognized that democracy itself was unworkable outside the framework of a Republican form of government that constitutionally protects the rights of individual citizens against the oppressive nature of the mob. Publius stated it best in Federalist No. 10:

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy . . . , can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.
Despite the established weaknesses of the system, however, there is always a "cult of democracy" whose members believe that any dilution of democracy is evil by its very nature. They see any attempt to check the impulse of the majority as somehow un-American (ironically, many of these same individuals are also the quickest to defend the rights of minorities against the majority). Witness the continuing complaints with the Electoral College. Every one of these arguments assumes that "direct" democracy is superior to our vetted 200-year old system. The Electoral College does inhibit democracy, but so does the separation of powers, federalism, international treaties, congressional districting, campaign finance reform, congressional seniority, independent government agencies, and multinational governmental organizations, and I have yet to hear too much whining about these facets of our government.

Calling something "undemocratic" is not an argument as much as an insult founded on an ill-formed belief that majority will is the most perfect attainment of policy. As Mark Twain stated, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." While I'm sure we can count on legislative attempts to end the Electoral College due to it's "anti-democratic nature," we should follow Twain's advice and question the real motives for change.

*Title inspired by P.J. O'Rourke.
 
Centinel 7:34 AM # | |

Friday, November 19, 2004

The sky is falling

For the past year, the Right has been accused of using fear as a tool: fear of terrorists, fear of gays, and using fear to disenfranchise black voters. Of course, the "fear" accusation is just another case of the Left trying to tarnish the opposition with it's own worst traits. What better example than the specious claims by the Kerry campaign that Bush was planning to reinstate the draft.

That being said, some Liberals are so concerned with scaring their audience that they are forced to resort to blatant deception. Over at the Daily Kos, DHinMI has provided a perfect example of where the Left is headed -- a place where the results don't even need means.

DHinMI's issue concerns congressional Republicans' attempts to repeal the authoritarian law requiring food producers to label their products with the country of origin, and replacing the statute with a law allowing food producers to label if they wish.

Any card-carrying conservative can rattle off several reasons why this is a good idea, and they all boil down to the fact that Congress will no longer be monkeying with the market. If producers feel that a "Grown in the USA" label is economically advantageous, then they will slap one on the package; if not, no label. Everyone benefits -- particularly poorer Americans (those loved by the Left) who will no longer be required to pay an ever-increasing percentage of their income on food to pay for the Liberal's label love.

The GOP's efforts seemed so rational, that I was extremely curious as to how DHinMI would criticize them. The answer? If we don't have mandatory labeling, we're all going to get "Mad Cow" disease. That's right, evidently mandatory country-of-origin labels are necessary to stop this deadly scourge that has affected . . . 1 cow. Sure, that cow did result in US beef importation bans in a few dozen countries, but how will country-of-origin labeling improve the situation? Simple -- it doesn't. But it looks good, and it's scary, which is all that the Left apparently needs these days to keep it's base hungry for blood.

Perhaps the most troubling thing about DHinMI's post is that the source he draws on for support actually counters his argument. To support his rant, he points to a quote stating that producers want to voluntarily track produce and give the government only limited access to the information. Now that may actually increase the threat of mad cow, but it has nothing to do with country-of-origin labeling. What he conveniently left out was that the article and quote specifically relate to the Bush Administration's attempts to establish a national tracking system for livestock and poultry. That's right, the Bush Administration is actually trying to HALT the possible spread of mad cow disease.

Can't we save the deceptions for the next election, guys?
 
Centinel 5:30 AM # | |

Thursday, November 18, 2004

PSA

Scott from Life, Law, Libido provides some detailed answers to Begging the Question's new feature, Twenty Questions for the Law Clerk. If you have ever thought about clerking, this is a must read.
 
Centinel 3:51 PM # | |

Living up to your reputation

The Democrats are the party of job creation and economic growth. You don't believe me? Then you are in the minority. Over the past year, polls have consistently shown that Americans believe that the Dems are better at handling the economy. For example:

As of June, Congressional Democrats were favored by 17 points over the Republicans on "current ability to deal with the economy."

Independents favor Democrats over Republicans on ability to deal with the economy by 21 points.

Democrats "do a better job" on the economy and jobs than Republicans (+15 percent) according to likely voters.

Election polls show that Kerry held a 4-1 advantage over Bush with voters who listed the economy as their primary concern.
Kerry was constantly criticizing Bush for failing to create jobs, and even made the issue a major point of contention in their debates. He specifically promised that he would fight for more jobs if elected president.

In his quest for a solid economy, Kerry also blasted Bush on rising gas prices, stating that he would defend the little guy against the evil oil barons.

How fortunate for the Dems that they now have the opportunity to stand up for jobs once again AND to slow the rise of gas prices. Recent studies have come out showing that John McCain and Joe Lieberman's so-called "Climate Stewardship Act" -- which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases -- will cost the country 600,000 jobs over the next 20 years and will cause gas prices over that time to increase by 40 cents more than they will without the legislation. Add that to the predicted $675 billion to $1.63 trillion drag on the gross domestic product and you have a nice dent in the economic future.

But we're safe, folks, because the Democrat Party is the pro-job, pro-economy, pro-lower gas prices party, and they won't stand for this kind of thing.
 
Centinel 11:09 AM # | |

Delta blues

The ever-prolific Milbarge over at Begging the Question (See Random Thought #6) has jumped in on the issue of whether Delta was in the right when it fired a stew . . . flight attendant for posting on her blog semi-seductive photos taken in her uniform. It seems the woman has filed a lawsuit against Delta because the airline has not terminated pilots who post their pictures online.

Milbarge and others have come to the (what I believe is correct) conclusion that she doesn't have a case; however, they question the necessity of the termination itself. At first blush it's easy to agree -- the photos weren't that titillating and Delta appears to be a bit uptight about the whole thing. But Delta had a reason for doing what it did, and ironically, that reason likely stems from the very laws seeking to protect against discrimination. If Delta had notice of the pictures and did nothing, it would set a standard of not punishing employees for such actions. If Delta were to punish a male employee for taking even racier pictures and posting them on the internet then it would be opening itself up to a charge of gender-based discrimination. Employees are now on notice that Delta will terminate them for posting sexy photos while wearing a uniform (or displaying any other affiliation with the company), and as long as Delta evenly applies that policy it will avoid liability.

Don't think this is a problem? A lawyer friend of mine recently told me a story. It seems that the president of a company discovered that one of his senior management employees appeared in a pornographic website (I have no idea how this information was "discovered"). Evidently, the employee and his wife had a predilection for photographing themselves in their most private moments and posting the unedited images on the internet. The company had a large investment in the manager and didn't want to lose him, but like Delta, it was forced to clip the employee's wings to protect itself.

So complain if you must. Rail against the forces of puritanism that have banned smoking in bars, showing a little leg on the internet, and cursing on TV. Just realize that Gloria Steinem had as much to do with this decision as Jerry Falwell.

 
Centinel 7:50 AM # | |

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Looking ahead

The partisans over at National Review -- still licking the blood of several Democrat senate candidates off their lips -- have begun handicapping the 2006 senate races, and at first glance it doesn't look good for our beleaguered blue state brethren. According to Red State's analysis of the 10 potential battleground states (assuming no retirements or gay sex scandals), 7 are held by Dems. By Red State's count, the GOP is good for another 1 or 2 seats to add to the mix (especially if Rossi loses the count/recount for governor of Washington and decides to run against Cantwell).

I think this assessment is a bit optimistic. Incumbents are damn near impossible to knock off (or at least tougher than they always seem in these long-range predictions), and the likeliest open seat is in Republican hands (Tennessee, if Frist decides to run for president). I also would note that, while George Allen is a good candidate and should hold Virginia, Mark Warner is no slouch and has deep pockets. I call it a draw as of today, but time has a way of making a fool out of the wisest prognosticator.
 
Centinel 3:56 PM # | |

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Post-election scandal malaise

I believe the constant need to bash Republicans is finally getting to the folks over at the Daily Kos. Of the two posts made this afternoon (here and here) their scathing accusations against the current GOP regime consist of the following:

1. A rebuke of the House Republicans for changing a House rule (somehow confusing a "rule of the House" with the "rule of law")!!!
2. The boldface accusations that incoming AG Al Gonzalez got then-Gov. Bush out of jury duty, has "played a key role in keeping presidential records out of the public eye," AND has insisted that "the president and those working closely with him must be able to receive counsel from advisers without public inquiry."

The horror! What next? Proof that Condi Rice once played loud music after 10 p.m.? An admission from Dick Cheney that he once saw the President rip a tag off of a mattress he didn't own?

I guess the vitriolic fires must be stoked even on a slow dirt day.
 
Centinel 4:56 PM # | |

Guns are bad, unkay.


The Union Leader is reporting that a New Hampshire high school is being sued by one of its students for refusing to put his picture in the yearbook. The reason for the omission, according to the school, is that the young man in question (we'll call him "Plaintiff") is holding a broken shotgun in the picture.

Legally speaking, I have to chalk this one up as a tempest in a teapot. However, this is an example of discrimination -- certainly not constitutional or statutorily-prohibited discrimination -- but discrimination nonetheless. The kid is an avid trap shooter; he has his yearbook picture taken with a shotgun; and there does not appear to be any school policy prohibiting such a picture -- so what is the problem? According to the School Superintendent, it is "context." Evidently, putting the picture in a section relegated to "community sports" is fine, but putting it between the prom queen and the stoner in the class section would give the impression that the school supports the wholesale slaughter of babies with shotguns. Thank God we have education bureaucrats to hone these fine distinctions, because, you know, babies can't defend themselves.

The thing that I keep thinking is how differently the district is handling the question of teen gun use as opposed to, say, teen sex. Admittedly this is stretching a point, but it appears that the school district is saying that placing a picture of a young man responsibly holding a sporting gun is somehow promoting gun use (which is evidently bad). Accepting that, how does this square against the general assertion of education bureaucrats that proactively teaching students about "safe sex" is not actually promoting sex? Hey, both gun use and teenage sex are protected by the constitution, feel great, and can be dangerous -- but for some reason having kids rolling condoms down bananas is responsible education while a picture of someone properly holding a broken shotgun is "inappropriate."

If the school district really cared about teen gun use it would mandate that students attend a gun safety class, because kids are going to do it and, as they say, if they don't learn it at school they're going to learn it on the street.

On a side note, would you trust the decision of a man who uses the word "dialogue" as a verb?
 
Centinel 7:39 AM # | |

Monday, November 15, 2004

Democrats get religion

Kathleen Parker responds to recent statements by Democrats that their party needs to reconnect with religious voters by having its leaders talk more openly about faith:

[F]ashioning politico-religious message is problematic. People who are deeply religious fashion their lives, not just their messages, in certain ways, according to deeply held convictions. Religion isn't a political strategy; it's a belief system that guides one's lifestyle.

As this discussion evolves, I keep associating to that memorable scene from "When Harry Met Sally" when Meg Ryan, sitting in a deli, convincingly fakes "That Very Special Moment" to prove that women can and do fake their lovemaking satisfaction. Co-star Billy Crystal is duly impressed, as is an older woman sitting nearby, who tells her waitress: "I'll have what she's having."

The Democrats apparently have decided they'll have what Bush has been having. I half expect to see aspiring Democratic Presidential candidates showing up at Promise Keepers conventions, high-fiving for Jesus, and photo-oping with little Baptist blue-hairs on their way to Wednesday-night prayer meeting.

Of all the things one can pretend in order to win a voter's confidence, religious devotion seems the least likely. Moreover, until the Democratic Party's policy positions reflect beliefs consistent with the values held by America's religious moderates and traditionalists, their newly fashioned messages are going to sound like what they are. Faked.


Much like Paul on the road to Damascus, the Democrats appear to be having a religious conversion in an attempt to reach the White House ("Golly, I've got to get me some of that there Jesus stuff -- it's fantastic!"). While some of the more cynical among us may say such actions smack of opportunism, the Democrats have been quick to couch their religious call-to-arms as a need to "talk openly" about their faith or to "remember" (wink, wink) that there are areas of the Bible that Liberals can use to bash Republicans.

By attempting to scrape off some of the Republican Party's religious base,the Left only shows how little it understands this country's Christian community. Evangelicals don't view their religion as a tool or some sort of moral exemplar to be pulled out every now and again to score political points, nor are fundamentalist Christians going to start voting blue just because Nancy Pelosi is somehow able to link Jesus and the story of the loaves and fishes to the future of welfare reform. Moral values spring from deeds, not words, and no one expects the Left's deeds to change one iota.

The most compelling evidence of the intentions of the Left comes from its own supporters. There has been no hue or cry from the increasingly secular Democrats regarding the attempt to reach out to the devout, because they know that this is all an act. They know that Hillary Clinton will not push for abstinence education, a ban on gay marriage, or any other morality-based legislation, but they are willing to allow the nod to values if it brings in precious votes.

The mere call for Democrats to show their moral bona fides, however, only demonstrates how intellectually bankrupt they are on questions of morality. It is a secular mantra of the Left that "religion has no place in politics." With the Republican Party once again riding religious voters to victory, the Democrat politicians are now telling us that it is fine to bring morality into the public sphere as long as it's their morality. Now that's what I call a principled stand.

Update: La Shawn over at Red State has a good article on the Dems "getting religion."


 
Centinel 1:00 PM # | |

Friday, November 12, 2004

Gentlemen, start your engines . . .

As fun as this year's presidential election was, the next one promises to be a circus. On the Democrat side there is the assumed candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the recently announced possibility of John Kerry, and at least some degree of support for John Edwards, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Evan Bayh, and a host of other lesser lights.

The real fun, however, should take place on the Republican side. With no heir-apparent (since Cheney will not run), and after 8 years of backed-up ambition, you can bet that there will be a host of mouths and egos vying for a shot at the national title. Over at Red State, Martin Knight has taken it upon himself to draw up a list of contenders and has done a pretty thorough job. At least one recent poll shows Giuliani locking up the frontrunner slot followed not too closely by McCain. Knight believes that neither of these two will be standing when the dust clears because Giuliani is way too liberal on social issues while McCain, despite his "uniformly fellatial treatment by the Press," has pissed off much of the GOP base and will be too old, 72, to mount an effective campaign.

I hope that this analysis is correct, but I think it underestimates the crossover appeal of each of these candidates. Admittedly, they would be at a greater disadvantage in the primary, but I can envision a scenario where crossovers in open primary states and Republicans who only care about winning would put one of these over the top.

As for more conservative candidates, the field looks thinner than it should. Jeb Bush has said he won't run, Bill Frist is seen by many as lacking charisma, and many of the other mentioned candidates -- such as Mark Sanford, Ernie Fletcher, and Bill Owens -- are hampered by no name recognition or base of supporters. Personally, I believe George Allen has the tools to become the Right's candidate (as does Owens), but at this time it is almost impossible to tell who will float to the top over the next couple of years.

Whatever the case, I will endeavor to present more information on some of the lesser-known candidates in the future. Until then, you can always turn to the experts to see who our next president will be.

Update: Rice over at Southern Appeal has weighed in on the issue.
 
Centinel 1:38 PM # | |

Thursday, November 11, 2004

There's a lesson here

For decades now black voters have been co-opted by the Democrat Party. In any given election, the Democrat candidate can count on receiving 90% of the votes of blacks who go to the polls. In fact, the black vote is so homogeneous that it has been heralded as a major achievement that Bush raised his percentage of the black vote from 9% in 2000 to an estimated 11% this year.

The result of this fealty is not surprising. Republicans, knowing they can't win over black voters, have no reason to reach out to blacks (witness Bush's decision not to attend the NAACP convention). Likewise, Democrats have no motivation to push a black agenda beyond insuring the free access of blacks to the polls. Simply put, by voting solely for Democrats, blacks have removed themselves from play, and have thus made their interests irrelevant.

It appears that Hispanics have learned this lesson well. One of the quieter post-election stories has been how Bush increased his percentage of the Hispanic vote from 35% in 2000 to 44% this year. To quote the New Democrat Network, "Hispanics are a swing vote. They are no longer a base vote of [the Democrat] Party."

By refusing to follow the example of blacks and give their blind allegiance to one party, the Hispanic population will now reap the benefit of having two very rich and very amorous suitors. It is no coincidence that Bush's first post-election appointment is Hispanic and his first post-election legislative push is for immigration reform -- and you can expect the Democrats to begin promising them even more. In politics, as in life, sometimes it pays to be coy.

 
Centinel 12:47 PM # | |

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The spin

Moral values, terrorism, gay marriage, and Iraq. For over a week now all the spinmeisters in the country have been trying to piece together some whole cloth in a partisan attempt to answer the big question about the election: What does it all mean?

The Liberals have been blaming Bush's victory on the "hatemongers and purveyors of fear" on the Right. According to the new Democrat mantra, fundamentalist Christians turned out in droves, spurred by bloodlust over gay marriage and abortion. Republicans have been quick to shatter their illusions by pointing out that terrorism was the real issue and have making convincing arguments that Evangelicals were no more influential in this election than they were the last.

While I agree that the Left is greatly exaggerating the effect of traditional moral issues on the election, I also believe the Right is dropping the ball in an attempt to cobble together a post-election coalition. The numbers just don't lie. Terrorism dominated the landscape, and Bush, who stuck to the issue like a drunk guy sticks to a blonde at a bar, was able to capitalize on a rational fear. But if that is the case -- if the election was won or lost on terrorism -- how does that really bode for the future of the Republican Party?

The answer, I believe, is that it may not at all. 9/11 reset the political landscape, but there has been no serious attack on US soil since that time (thank God). If Bush has continued success in halting terrorist acts on our soil, what issue will the party run on in 4 years? Prayerfully, we will be out of Iraq by that time, and the public's short memory will no doubt cause them to cast around for another political horse to back. What will we have to show them? More domestic spending? New McCain-Feingold type legislation or No Child Left Behind II?

Let's face it, no matter how the Right tries to spin it, without terrorism Bush would be sitting in Crawford today. The GOP was able to scrape together a narrow win against a weak candidate solely because it was not forced to run on what once was its bread-and-butter issue: the economy. What should be scaring Republicans is that, according to the polls, voters who felt that the economy was the most important issue in the presidential race backed Kerry (by an astounding 4-1 margin). These individuals justifiably felt that Bush had not been an effective steward of the public weal.

Pundits have been quick to draw the conclusion that the Democrat Party is dead, perhaps in an attempt to kick the Left while it is down. Don't be fooled. Bush I showed all too well what can happen to the GOP if it ignores domestic policy in order to shape some international agenda. The ongoing war allowed Bush II to ignore this rule in this election, but we may not be so lucky in the next.

So what is the answer? It is as simple to guess as is it difficult to enact. Bush must stop promoting new government spending. He must give the economy room to grow by renewing his focus on low taxes and by learning to practice fiscal restraint. Poll after poll and election after election have proven that Americans are a conservative people. Many of them rabidly support social issues, which is why it is vital that Bush nominate social conservatives to administration and judicial posts. But even more Americans vote with their pocketbooks. They want jobs, low inflation, and business growth. Polls show that these voters don't have any major qualms with social conservative issues, but they aren't going to vote based solely on abortion or prayer in schools. Bush must spend his political capital to reform social security and tame government spending. Even Clinton figured this out after the Democrats' disastrous 1994 elections. If Bush is able to accomplish this agenda, the GOP can count on an even stronger coalition going into 2008 without relying on terrorism as a wedge issue.

It's the economy, stupid.
 
Centinel 8:42 PM # | |

Did you ever notice that . . .

the only time the Left gets "religion" regarding the importance of the views of the Founding Fathers happens when discussing the so-called "separation of church and state"? They will make argument after argument regarding topics from abortion to homosexual marriage using nothing but their "feelings" and a Gloria Steinem quote, but the minute someone begins talking about keeping the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance or putting a creche on the town hall lawn they all turn into originalist scholars.

Next time they start quoting Thomas Jefferson's letters as support for their specious arguments, please feel free to use this legal/historical rebuttal to correct their misperceptions.
 
Centinel 4:00 PM # | |

An outsourcing parable

While it is admittedly simplistic, the Mackinac Center has tried to distill the benefits of outsourcing to a level that even the Left can understand. It's just another reminder that economics is not a zero-sum game.
 
Centinel 1:52 PM # | |

Monday, November 08, 2004

A second chance

My first real job in politics took place in between my junior and senior year of college in 1992. A local state representative, I'll call him David, allowed me to intern for him in the state legislature for the summer "short" session -- on the grounds that I work for free. So that summer I moved to the state capital, ate cheap food, and went to politics school.

David was different from all of the politicians I had met to that point. First, he was young. David had begun running for his seat at the ripe age of 26. He started law school after college where he met and married a wonderful woman. They began going door-to-door in what would become his district the day after the wedding and he ended up winning handily. At 31, he was serving his third term, and his now-pregnant wife was beside him at all times as his secretary.

The second thing that set David apart was his enthusiasm. Unlike most politicians who talked "at" you, David really listened to what you say and took it into account. Legislatively, he was a tireless worker and obstructionist to the Democrats who controlled both the state house and senate. As a campaign advisor, no matter how bad a local race looked he was always willing to give the candidate a pep talk.

The thing I noticed most about David, however, was his ambition. David had mapped out his future well before ever running for office. His plan was to work in the state legislature for a decade building up chits and preparing to run for Attorney General or Lieutenant Governor, and then on to Governor after that. Every decision he made was centered on his political life and future. He had never missed a vote on the floor of the House -- something that had never been done for one session much less two -- a move designed to set him apart from other legislators and to give him something to brag about during his campaign. David traveled the state constantly during recruiting local candidates, raising money for their elections, and providing them any other assistance they needed to win their campaigns all in the hope that they would support his bid for House leadership if elected (or, perhaps, chair the county committee if he ran for statewide office). He never went to an event without knowing who was on the guest list and never left one without making notes about each person he met. He even joined the Army Reserves for the purpose of being able to put military service on his resume.

David taught me that politics is not something you do every now and again, but something that needs to be attended to at all time. He showed me how to determine whether a Republican can win in a particular district, what issues played best in state legislative campaigns, and how to use the legislature to create those political issues. He also showed me how to do the grunt work of campaigning: sifting through committee vote records and campaign finance reports to extract those nuggets of information that would later be used as ammo against sitting Democrat legislators.

After that session, I went back home and eventually returned for my senior year of college. The things David taught me became invaluable when I went on to work in state legislative policy and run state legislative campaigns, and I will always be grateful to him for that.

After my summer, David's star began ascending at an even steeper angle. Later that year he was selected as Minority Leader in the State House, and had he continued his plan he would have likely become Speaker of the House when the GOP took over the legislature two years later. Unfortunately, the ambition that spurred David to success eventually ruined him.

After a decade on the Hill, our local congressman decided to step down. Seeing an unexpected opportunity, David made a bold decision to run for the seat. At the time, I was working for another congressman in Washington, D.C., but my friends and family back home kept me informed about David's campaign. At first it seemed like David had picked a bad race. He was running against a city councilman, a county commissioner, and a former mayor, all of whom had much more name recognition than he did. Despite this, David showed the drive that had served him so well in the legislature and campaigned into a second place showing in the polls right behind the former mayor.

In those pre-internet days I was unable to read the daily reports of what followed, but here is what I heard. Mere days before the primary election, another candidate called a press conference and used the event to accuse David of lying on his resume. There were four things, said the candidate, that were complete fabrications:

1. David claimed to have graduated Dean's List from law school, but did not;
2. David stated that he had been on law review, but he had not;
3. David claimed that he had clerked for a state supreme court judge, but he did not; and
4. David declared that he had played varsity soccer in college, but he did not.

David responded by claiming the allegations were a lie. He claimed that his campaign opponent had placed a "mole" in David's campaign, and that person had found David's resume on the computer, altered it, and sent it to several of David's enemies.

My mother called me to tell me the chain of events. As it happened, I had David's resume in my files from our time together. I went and looked at it after getting off the phone. Seeing that all of the claimed items were on my copy from over two years earlier, I phoned my Mother back and told her not to do any more work on David's campaign because bad things were about to happen.

And they did. David ended up finishing the primary in second place and forced the former mayor into a three-week runoff, but things had finally caught up with him. Given a few days to review the charges and claims, the press had gathered proof that David had lied on his resume and, worse politically, that he had lied to the public about the matter. David made a tearful televised apology and then lost badly in the runoff.

From what I understand, David's stock began falling faster than it had risen. In a prelude to divorce, his wife left him several months later and took their baby daughter. Not long after that, his car was found abandoned with the door open and blood on the front seat. David turned up 3 days later on the doorstep of a woman in on of the seedier parts of town with a gash in his forehead and claiming amnesia.

Ironically, it was his ambition that likely saved him. His stint in the army reserve was meant to be little more than a political ploy, but the JAG had other ideas and called him up for deployment overseas. From the scant news I received, David was able to get his life back together to some extent by getting away from his problems.

I did not hear about David for several years, until I received a call from a friend out west. My friend, who is heavily involved in legislative campaigns in his state, claimed that David was now living there and talking to Republican candidates. Using Google, I was able to keep up with David over the next few years -- seeing that he had gotten remarried, was still involved in politics, and had a successful military career to boot.

This year, a decade after his public meltdown, David decided to run for the state legislature in his new home. Although he consciously left his past problems off his new political resume, David's Democrat opponent found the information and broadcast it throughout the district with the aid of local liberal media columnists. Fortunately, the people of David's district were able to look past his mistakes and see the man he is now, and they handily elected him.

Not everyone who makes a mistake gets a shot at redemption. I hope that David makes the best of his.
 
Centinel 11:42 AM # | |

Friday, November 05, 2004

Democrat elite

For decades the Democrat Party has made hay of the suggestion that they are the party of the "common man." Republicans, on the other hand, have been caricatured as greedy elitist snobs whose idea of suffering is running out of olives for their martinis. Turns out that this enduring myth is just that, a myth. Analysis of the 2000 election shows that the "common man" now votes Republican, while the Democrat Party has become the party of "New England elitism" who's "primary sources of support have become trial lawyers and Wall Street financiers."

Unfortunately, for many on the left this will actually be news.
 
Centinel 12:54 PM # | |

Whose morality?

I made a rare mistake yesterday -- I attempted to engage a group of Liberals on the question of polite political discourse. I was not gloating, but I felt I had to say something after reading through comment after comment where Kerry supporters referred to Bush supporters as "hate mongers," "bigots," "stupid," etc. What amazed me is that the same posters were pointing the finger at Republicans for coarsening the public discourse and refusing to engage in a constructive dialogue. Of course, when I pointed out that I have never seen such hate and bile spewed against a political candidate and his supporters as I have from the Democrats during this election they ignored me and instead try to pin me down as a racist, homophobe who likes his women uneducated, barefoot and pregnant and who eats meat.

What interested me more that their blind hypocrisy, however, was their slavish devotion to the new Democrat morality, which, as far as I can tell, goes something like this: Republicans are hateful bigots who try to force their morals on the rest of the country. The "proof" breaks down into three major issues:

1. Republicans/Bush tried to prevent minorities from exercising their right to vote;

2. Republicans/Bush want to outlaw abortion (couched as always as "threatening a woman's right to her own body" as if the pro-life movement is all some plot to subjugate women); and

3. Republicans/Bush refuse to uphold the "right" of gays to marry.

The first issue is groundless beyond rumor and innuendo, and is therefore not really an argument as much as an insult. The second issue is so old that it can go to Planned Parenthood without parental permission. The third issue seems to be the big Bush-bashing stick, with most of the Left ignoring the fact that Kerry also opposed gay marriage.

Gay marriage is the issue de jour thanks to conservative initiative victories from sea to shining sea, but I still don't understand how it has become focal point for liberal rage. It is, though. The Left has its collective panties in a wad over the Republicans "efforts to deny homosexuals their right to marry," and is going to shout, "Stop hating!" until we do.

Of course, thinking individuals know that homosexuals have the same right to marry as heterosexuals -- none. Marriage is a state-regulated privilege, not a right, much like getting a driver's license. As such, continuing the status quo is not "forcing morality" on anyone. On the contrary, by changing thousands of years of human precedent and over 200 years of American legislative precedent, Liberals are the ones trying to force their morality on the rest of us -- a morality that claims that people have a right to every privilege based on their sexual preferences.

In responding to the above assertion, one commenter I engaged stated that legalizing gay marriage is not a moral issue because is not "forcing" anyone to do anything. This completely misses the point. By demanding legalizing gay marriage, Liberals are attempting to force all Americans, no matter what their beliefs, to accept homosexuality as an immutable characteristic on par with sex and race. It therefore has everything to do with the "new morality" of the Left and nothing to do with bigotry. The important distinction here is that bigotry concerns tolerance, not acceptance. I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of individuals who voted against redefining marriage to include same-sex couples also oppose violating the constitutional rights of any homosexual. Far from being "hate mongers," these individuals are willing to tolerate a different lifestyle -- but they should not be forced to accept it by those with a different moral belief structure.

In short, don't put your laws on me, man.
 
Centinel 9:11 AM # | |

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Endangered species are neither

The Heartland Institute is reporting that, thanks to the deceptive definition of species promoted by fringe environmentalists, as many as 40% of the species listed as endangered are not species. The enviro-nuts have been using the Endangered Species Act to prevent untold acres from being developed to protect animals that are merely local populations of a wider species.

Are there still rational people out there who trust anything environmentalists say?
 
Centinel 9:42 AM # | |

The more things change

A decade ago, I made the difficult decision to end my affiliation with the Republican party. Until I entered college, I naively thought that all Republicans were like me -- fiscal and social conservatives. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there were people out calling themselves Republicans who actually support abortion and increased taxes! Since that time, I have devoted my political life to rooting out the "big government" conservatives and wine-and-cheese liberals wherever they may hide. Cue stirring music.

Actually, what I have seen over my varied political life is that so-called "moderates" are more than willing to sabotage conservative candidates by supporting Democrats and to team with Democrat legislators to pass all manner of vile legislation. While I have learned the lesson of moderate Republican perfidy, President Bush obviously has not. Eleven months ago, the President decided to put politics over principle and, to the amazement of most conservatives, went out of his way to endorse uber-moderate Sen. Arlen Specter over his conservative primary opponent. Specter road that support to victory in an incredibly close race. Today, now that Sen. Specter has won re-election, he repaid the President by warning him not to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court.

There is an old saying that "he who lies down with dogs gets up with fleas." Thanks to President Bush, we will all be scratching for the next six years.

Update: Sen. Specter is claiming that the story of his warning is a complete fabrication and that he has no litmus test. Someone may have manufactured this story, but it says quite a bit about Specter that most people believed it.

Update: The good folks over at Red State have started NotSpecter.com.
 
Centinel 9:03 AM # | |

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

An open letter

Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations on your victory. Throughout your campaign you stuck to your themes and never wavered. The American people have responded by granting you the first majority of both the electoral college and popular vote in 16 years.

Not to put a crimp in your moment of glory, but I would like to caution you from reading too much into the results. A narrow win against an undistinguished Senator who had the most liberal voting record in the Senate coupled with a complete lack of charisma can hardly be called a "mandate." In fact, you should have begun your victory speech by thanking the Democrats for nominating the human equivalent of a fat softball pitch to be your opponent in this election. Hell, even Michael Dukakis had the (completely fabricated) "Massachusetts Miracle" to tout when he ran against your father. What did Kerry have? Some medals? A really rich wife? First place trophy in the Boris Karloff look alike contest?

Of course, you weren't exactly loaded for bear, were you? We know that you have made the world safer for Iraqis, but I can't imagine that many of them voted in this election. I can't help but wonder what you would have run on had 9/11 not taken place. McCain-Feingold? No Child Left Behind? Medicare Prescription Drug Act? I can only assume that at the time these "accomplishments" were the result of hypnosis -- or perhaps you were just young and naive and were taken advantage of by the snake oil salesman over on Capitol Hill.

Whatever the case, realize that you won in spite of your "compassionate conservative" spending, certainly not because of it. In fact, most of the beneficiaries of your largesse were huge supporters of your opponent (of course, I could have told you that when you signed the bills).

Yes, despite your infidelities, we conservative Americans have allowed you back into our beds. We are so desperate to have someone around to mow the grass and set the VCR clock (DVD clock?) that we are willing to believe you when you say your cheating days are through, secretly knowing that we'll find that tell-tell lipstick stain on your collar when you begin establishing your "legacy."

Therefore, we, the dyed-in-the-wool traditional conservatives ask but two simple things of you for our continued ankle grabbing: (1) please, please, appoint solid conservative Supreme Court justices (don't pull a "Souter") and (2) do nothing. That's right, nada, zip, zilch. No new entitlement spending initiatives, no so-called "campaign reform," no new government agencies, no new regulations, no increased appropriations to the NEA, DOE or any other agency for that matter. I know trimming government is difficult, but if you can't accomplish that, all we want is for you to quit fattening the public cow by a constant influx of increased spending.

What you need to do is simple -- when some social engineering plan comes to your desk, root around in the bottom of your drawer and find that big stamp that says "VETO." Then roll that sucker in ink, 40-wt motor oil, or the blood of John Ashcroft and plant that sucker firmly onto the legislation.

All I'm asking, Sir, is that you try new things, like saying "No." If you can do that, then I'll take care of your legacy.

Your new friend,
Centinel
 
Centinel 4:14 PM # | |

The facts are in . . .

What once was mantra is now fact: McCain-Feingold is a dismal failure. A whopping 30% more was spent on the 2004 federal campaigns than on the 2000 ones. President Bush needs to recognize this fact and help bring some accountability to the political system by repealing this terrible law.
 
Centinel 12:53 PM # | |

The laments of my enemies

I admit, I did not vote for Bush, but it certainly was not because I supported Kerry. My problem with Bush is that he is a fiscal liberal who believes that tax cuts are all that is needed to get into Conservative Heaven.

That being said, I do so love to hear the Left whine. It almost makes four more years of free spending worth it. Almost.
 
Centinel 8:57 AM # | |

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election miscellanea: We got your numbers

Here is the Florida elections results page.

Kentucky is showing Bunning losing this nailbiter.

Slate is touting new (4 p.m. EST) exit poll numbers.

Daily Kos is trying out some dubious "scare ya" information regarding minority turnout numbers, specifically the change in Hispanic voting compared to 2000 exit polls.

Here's Zogby's final predictions.

Real Clear Politics' numbers really and clearly conflict with Zogby's.

 
Centinel 1:44 PM # | |

Monday, November 01, 2004

Lighter side

A final flash paean to Bush v. Kerry. (To the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody).
 
Centinel 2:59 PM # | |

Blue-state jester

Tom Wolfe, perhaps America's greatest storyteller, once again shows he understands by tossing a few barbs at the liberal "masters of the universe" in The Guardian:

"I think support for Bush is about not wanting to be led by East-coast pretensions. It is about not wanting to be led by people who are forever trying to force their twisted sense of morality onto us, which is a non-morality. That is constantly done, and there is real resentment. Support for Bush is about resentment in the so-called 'red states' - a confusing term to Guardian readers, I agree - which here means, literally, middle America. I come from one of those states myself, Virginia. It's the same resentment, indeed, as that against your own newspaper when it sent emails targeting individuals in an American county." Wolfe laughs as he chastises. "No one cares to have outsiders or foreigners butting into their affairs. I'm sure that even many of those Iraqis who were cheering the fall of Saddam now object to our being there. As I said, I do not think the excursion is going well."

And John Kerry? "He is a man no one should worry about, because he has no beliefs at all. He is not going to introduce some manic radical plan, because he is poll-driven, and it is therefore impossible to know where or for what he stands."

You can pre-order his newest novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, here.

 
Centinel 1:29 PM # | |