Friday, November 30, 2007

Last Call

Over at TMV Pete Abel has put in his last call for moderate Republicans and Independents to sign The Letter (full text below). Simply put if you believe that America would benefit from a more moderate Republican party please take the time to sign it by emailing Pete at

December 3, 2007

House Republican Conference
Republican National Committee
Republican Governors Association
Leading GOP Presidential Candidates
National Republican Senatorial Committee

We, the undersigned, are moderate Republican and Independent voters who represent a growing force within the electorate.

Republican candidates will need to increasingly reckon with us in the months and years ahead, as we mobilize for no purpose less dramatic than the rescue of this Party and the refocusing of its platform on the bedrock principles of individual liberty and limited government; lower taxes and free markets; a strong national defense and collaborative foreign policy.

We intend this letter as an encouragement to GOP leaders who (a) embrace the principles outlined above; (b) recognize that the narrow-minded strategies of certain social conservatives have made the Party a shadow of its former self; (c) reject these social conservatives’ alienating approach; and (d) prefer what former U.S. Senator John Danforth has labeled a politics of “reconciliation,” a politics wherein we seek to emphasize what unites rather than what divides us. If you fit in this category, we encourage you to speak up and boldly state your beliefs, without equivocation. And if certain social conservatives attack you for doing so, we will be there to lend our support.

We believe the wise use of taxpayer dollars requires our government to avoid deficits and the enormous and unnecessary burden those deficits will place on future generations.

We believe in personal responsibility, self-reliance, capitalism, and the power of markets – markets that are allowed to operate with the least possible degree of regulation that is necessary to safeguard fair play and equal opportunity.

We believe in prudent actions that advance our national security, grounded in a foreign policy that, quoting former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, is “premised on the understanding that the rest of the world matters to us,” and that thus we should guard “against becoming ensnared in nation-building enterprises and push for policies that engage us with the world community and show, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, ‘a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.’”

We believe in the U.S. Constitution, its checks and balances, and importantly, the protections it affords our citizens such as habeas corpus. We further believe habeas corpus and other fundamental cornerstones of our Republic should be carefully guarded and delicately balanced during both times of peace and times of war, especially during extended, complex, and largely open-ended conflicts like today’s war on terror.

We believe in maximizing personal liberty and minimizing government interference in our private lives, including the lives of pregnant women, terminally ill patients, gays, lesbians, and all other categories of responsible, law-abiding adults. Again quoting Governor Whitman: “The defining feature of the conservative viewpoint is a faith in the ability, and a respect for the right, of individuals to make their own decisions – economic, social, and spiritual – about their lives. The true conservative understands that government’s track record in respecting individual rights is poor when it dictates individual choices. Accordingly, the conservative desires to limit government’s reach as much as possible. Traditional conservatives adhere to the maxim, often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, that government governs best that governs least.”

We further believe that the truest pro-life position is one which allows and encourages the ethical pursuit of all scientific research that holds promise for mitigating diseases that afflict our families and friends.

We believe the education of our young people is critical to our future as a nation and that realistic, fiscally conservative policies should be developed to further advance educational standards, opportunities, and access, from the lowest grades to the highest, from kindergarten through college.

We believe in reasonable policies that will advance the health of our citizens, with an emphasis on children, seniors, and others who are truly in need and cannot otherwise afford health care.

We also believe in reasonable policies that will advance the health of our environment, with careful attention paid to protecting our economic vitality and objective analyses of the pro’s and con’s of alternative energy sources.

In summary, we embrace what management guru Jim Collins – in his bestselling book Built to Last – called the “Genius of the AND.” We believe the GOP and its members can and should be simultaneously pro-choice and pro-life; pro-environment and pro-economy; pro-family and pro-liberty; pro-budget and pro-opportunity; pro-security and pro-Constitution. These beliefs need not be contradictory nor exclusive.

If you are and/or know an incumbent or prospective GOP candidate who shares these beliefs and wants Republicans and Independents to stand united behind him or her, we encourage you to let us know, so we can add you and/or those you know to the roster of leaders we will support with our votes, voices, volunteers, and dollars.

Huckabee Surges in Iowa

Apparently that Chuck Norris endorsement did the trick.

From the LA Times:

DES MOINES — With 34 days remaining, the Republican presidential race in Iowa has broken wide open, as Mike Huckabee surges into contention with the longtime front-runner, Mitt Romney.

Polls show the two former governors running nearly even in Iowa, which will cast the first votes of the 2008 campaign, despite Huckabee's meager resources and the large amounts of time and TV advertising that Romney has lavished on the state. Earlier this month, surveys had Huckabee trailing Romney by double digits.

Huckabee's strong showing, one of the biggest surprises of the presidential race, is threatening the foundation of Romney's candidacy and has shaken up the GOP contest across the country.

On Thursday, Huckabee savored strong reviews for his performance the previous night in the CNN-YouTube debate, at which the former Arkansas governor delivered one-liners, played up his humble roots and proposed abolishing the IRS in favor of a national sales tax.
Looks like the dark horse has finally caught his stride. He had a good debate performance and many considered him to be the winner. Romney on the other hand came off poorly particularly on the torture question where McCain took him to task for his calculated non-answer. Additionally Huckabee has been gaining momentum amongst evangelicals and social conservatives. The question is can Huckabee also pull in enough moderates and independents to have a real shot at getting the nod from the GOP? Frankly I think if he fails get the moderate vote a McCain/Huckabee ticket would be a good plan B since each candidate would bring to the table what the other lacks. That is of course provided we don't see a Huckabee/Norris ticket which is probably only slightly less likely.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Murtha Backs the Surge

Looks like hades is a little frosty today.

From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:

Murtha finds military progress in trip to Iraq

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Murtha today said he saw signs of military progress during a brief trip to Iraq last week, but he warned that Iraqis need to play a larger role in providing their own security and the Bush administration still must develop an exit strategy.

"I think the 'surge' is working," the Democrat said in a videoconference from his Johnstown office, describing the president's decision to commit more than 20,000 additional combat troops this year. But the Iraqis "have got to take care of themselves."

Violence has dropped significantly in recent months, but Mr. Murtha said he was most encouraged by changes in the once-volatile Anbar province, where locals have started working closely with U.S. forces to isolate insurgents linked to Al Qaeda.

He said Iraqis need to duplicate that success at the national level, but the central government in Baghdad is "dysfunctional."

With Murtha's verification of what the administration and others have been saying there is little room for doubt. Now the question is what can be done to light a fire under the Iraqi governments keister and get them to start making real progress? For those running for POTUS that may prove to be the fifty thousand dollar question. And I, for one, will be listening intently to their answers.

Ron Paul's Kucinich Moment?

Last night on CNN's YouTube debate Ron Paul answered the question, "Do you believe in a conspiracy to make a new (North American) union? While his answer wasn't as damning as Kucinich's UFO statements it certainly didn't help Paul out any.

WaPo Swiftboating Obama?

They certainly aren't doing anything to dispel rumors that he's a Muslim. In fact they are propagating them. Case in point:

Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him

In his speeches and often on the Internet, the part of Sen. Barack Obama's biography that gets the most attention is not his race but his connections to the Muslim world.

Since declaring his candidacy for president in February, Obama, a member of a congregation of the United Church of Christ in Chicago, has had to address assertions that he is a Muslim or that he had received training in Islam in Indonesia, where he lived from ages 6 to 10. While his father was an atheist and his mother did not practice religion, Obama's stepfather did occasionally attend services at a mosque there.

Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.

As if the title isn't bad enough if you read the whole two page article you'll not that they list every Muslim related rumor against Obama without ever bothering to verify the validity of them. In so doing they lend the assertions passive merit. At best its really shoddy journalism at worst its an attempted hatchet job. Its a sad day for journalism when a major media outlet allows itself to devolve into a half baked partisan blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Of Note

Michael J Totten is back in Iraq and blogging from Fallujah.

Over at The Glittering Eye Dave Schuler takes a look at what the Middle East was like prior to Israel.

At Sideways Mencken Michael Reynolds gives his take on the GOP candidates.

Ron Paul Won't Run as an Independent

Last night on the YouTube debate Mr. Paul gave the most concrete answer to date.
"I have no intention of running as an independent."

There is one loophole in that statement though. Would he run as The Constitution Party's candidate?

Featured Post: It's Lonely at the Top

Below is an article from author Helene Beauchemin one of the authors of the book Winning Without Compromising Yourself. In addition to having the author available throughout the day to respond to your comments there is an ongoing contest related to this post. Grand prize winner receives a copy of the book Winning Without Compromising Yourself and other prizes are available.( See rules for details.)

It’s Lonely at the Top: When a Professional Coach Can be of Value

Who do you safely share your doubts and anxieties with when you are at the top of the pyramid? Colleagues? Staff? Family? Friends?

Many leaders have learned to rely on family and a few trusted friends and associates as a safe place to bare their soul as well as explore new possibilities when faced with the huge responsibilities that their positions entail. These relationships are invaluable to the well-being of the leader. However, these same people, because of their caring for you and their knowledge of the demands the position makes on you, often tend to protect you from hard reality and are not always capable of showing you the darker side of your actions or motivations thus not allowing you to grow into the leader you want and need to be in the circumstances. For this reason, more and more senior executives and political leaders are also turning to professional coaches in order to create the safe space that one needs to honestly explore the numerous challenges one is facing.

A coach accompanies you on part of your journey while offering you the opportunity for self-reflection as you go along. In addition to challenging your assumptions, a coach will assist you in addressing the ways those same assumptions influence your actions and self-image. When leaders are challenged or seduced by power, a coach can reflect back to them the important core values that brought them to public life or senior positions in the first place.

Political leaders often have a constellation of experts hovering around them: campaign managers, party loyalists, lobbyists, advisors, “policy wonks,” spin doctors, etc. This same pattern exists at the uppermost echelons of governments, with the added culture of respect for hierarchy and the ingrained awe reserved for players in the senior executive boardroom. While all of these people are usually well-intentioned, their focus – which often has a partisan perspective, is on “protecting their guy” or ideas, or on persuading political leaders to go along with policies that will benefit them. Even in the so called apolitical realm of government bureaucracies, a given program or policy may be defended just as fiercely by its proponents or by the teams that developed the idea in the first place or are ensuring program delivery.

Who do you, as leader, believe in these circumstances?

Over time, it is a well known fact leaders of all stripes, political as well as those working in the corporate and/or not for profit world, become isolated and can begin to believe their own rhetoric, becoming blind to the consequences of their own way of decision making or blind to signals coming from the population or from consumers.

Usefulness of a coach

This is where a coach can be invaluable. A coach does not have the same emotional and personal investment in seeing you keep your current position or adhere to past statements as do the people in your immediate circle of influence. In my own career as a senior government executive and now as a coach, I have often seen how easy it is for political leaders to be misled by those around them. The world of politics is one where the immediate trumps the long term, where people surrounding the leader get to confuse their personal interest and agenda with that of the leader they serve. In this world, loyalty is the most valued currency. Loyalty, however, does not often allow “speaking truth to power”.

This is another benefit of working with a professional coach. A top political coach or executive coach will be totally committed to you and to allowing you to excel. A coach will have the courage to assist you when facing dilemmas and assist you in staying true to your core values. As a coach, my focus is on you, my client, achieving results, while maintaining your integrity and creating the conditions to ensure your long term success as well as having your personal and familial well being in focus.

Copyright 2007 Winning Without Compromising Yourself, All rights reserved.

Helene Beauchemin, PCC
Contributing author to Winning Without Compromising Yourself (2007)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Something New - My First Contest

I've been approached by a publishing company who asked me to assist in promoting one of their books "Winning Without Compromising Yourself"in return I get to post an article by one of their authors andf they'll drop by a couple of times tomorrow to field questions in the comments section AND one lucky reader will win a copy of the book with the first and second runners up winning Dyre Portents T-Shirt or a Dyre Portents coffee mug. (Didn't know they existed? Me either.) additionally everyone who enters receives a free link to their blog or website.

Rules for winning the book, shirt, mug, and linkage:

1: To enter contestants must post a link to tomorrow's featured post on their blog, website, LJ, myspace page etc then post a link to it in the comments thread of the featured post within 48 hours of my posting it.

2: On Friday November 30th all URLs will be placed into a hat and the three winners will be drawn and posted on this blog along with the URLs of all those that didn't win (aka Honorable Mentions).

3: The three winners must then email me and shipping arrangements will be made. Please note that winners of the hat and mug must reside in North America in order to win. The Juncture Company will be handling the shipping of the book so residents outside of North America are eligible.

4: In the event that any of the winners fail to email me within 48 hours a second chance drawing will be held using the list of honorable mentions

5: Sites that promote illegal or pornographic content are ineligible URLs for the purpose of entering the contest.

6: Please direct any and all complaints to

Monday, November 26, 2007

Making Marriage a Private Affair

From the NY Times:

WHY do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry? For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families. The parents’ agreement to the match, not the approval of church or state, was what confirmed its validity.

For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.
Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match.

The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. By the later part of that century, however, the United States began to nullify common-law marriages and exert more control over who was allowed to marry.
Possession of a marriage license is no longer the chief determinant of which obligations a couple must keep, either to their children or to each other. But it still determines which obligations a couple can keep — who gets hospital visitation rights, family leave, health care and survivor’s benefits. This may serve the purpose of some moralists. But it doesn’t serve the public interest of helping individuals meet their care-giving commitments.

Perhaps it’s time to revert to a much older marital tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit.” But let couples — gay or straight — decide if they want the legal protections and obligations of a committed relationship.

This article raises a point I made before in regards to the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Who marries who isn't the government's business. That until the latter half of last century it wasn't even the state's business. Giving the number of unwed mothers in the US I'd argue that the standards for what constitutes a valid marriage needs to be greatly relaxed if only to ensure that children produced in less formal relationships are provided the financial support and increased stability that they deserve. As for wiping out legal marriage altogether I'm not entirely convinced its the best course. Based on my previous argument I'd prefer to see the standard relaxed to "provable legal marriage" which could be established after the fact if need be. The ironic thing is that the party that has traditionally supported reduced government meddling in people's private lives would now be the first to oppose such changes on the grounds of religion/family values. As though somehow our great grandparents were less moral than we are today. Gotta love the GOP base's logic.

Taliban Resurgent

From Reuters:

Resurgent Taliban closing in on Kabul: report

The conflict in Afghanistan has reached "crisis proportions," with the resurgent Taliban present in more than half the country and closing in on Kabul, a report said on Wednesday.

If NATO, the lead force operating in Afghanistan, is to have any impact against the insurgency, troop numbers will have to be doubled to at least 80,000, the report said.

"The Taliban has shown itself to be a truly resurgent force," the Senlis Council, an independent think-tank with a permanent presence in Afghanistan, wrote in a study entitled "Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the brink."

"Its ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt," it said. "The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, some district centers, and important road arteries."

Senlis said its research had established that the Taliban, driven out of Afghanistan by the U.S. invasion in late 2001, had rebuilt a permanent presence in 54 percent of the country and was finding it easy to recruit new followers.

It was also increasingly using Iraq-style tactics, such as roadside and suicide bombs, to powerful effect, and had built a stable network of financial support, funding its operations with the proceeds from Afghanistan's booming opium trade.

"It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when," the report said.

This proves the point that my original opposition to the war in Iraq was based. Unlike many I thought it was a bad idea from a purely strategic standpoint. First I'm a big believer that you don't start a new task until you have finished the last one. Secondly given Afghanistan's history winning the country has always been harder than keeping it. As a result of our optional involvement in Iraq we have given the Taliban enough breathing room to regroup. Hence we may be forced to choose which war we want to win. Fortunately for W should it come to that he won't be burdened by that decision. That may very well be the job of the next POTUS. And for that reason alone this election may be the most important one in a generation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thompson Alleges Fox News is Biased Against Him

Fox News? Biased? Say it ain't so! But against a mainstream Republican? That's new.

From The Hill:

Thompson charges Fox News is biased against his campaign
Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) suggested on Sunday that Fox News is biased against his campaign, charging that the network highlights commentators who have been critical of his run for the presidency.

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace pressed Thompson on how some conservatives have lambasted Thompson's campaign and showed clips of Fox conservative commentators Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes criticizing the former senator.
Thompson said, "This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth." He noted that other conservatives have praised his bid for the GOP nomination and took issue with a Fox promo that focused on polling in New Hampshire, where Thompson is registering in the single digits.He said he is running second in national polls and has been leading or tied for the lead in South Carolina for "a long, long time."

Thompson, in a firm, but measured tone, scolded Wallace: "...for you to highlight nothing but the negatives in terms of the polls and then put on your own guys who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn't do it, kind of skew things a little bit. There's a lot of other opinion out there."
Frankly I think Thompson is just catching flack for not being the ultimate conservative candidate his pre-announcement supporters made him out to be. Combine that with the lack of energy his campaign has shown and his dropping poll numbers and disappointment turns into ire. Fox on the other hand has reported the facts if only the negative ones. I don't hold Fox to any journalistic standards of fairness but this represents a new low for them. Make no mistake if this type of slanted coverage continues Thompson is done for. It proof positive of how important some vaguely resembling in journalism is even if it is from a partisan point of view.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stem Cell Debate Defused?

From the NY Times:

Two teams of scientists reported yesterday that they had turned human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo — a feat that could quell the ethical debate troubling the field.

All they had to do, the scientists said, was add four genes. The genes reprogrammed the chromosomes of the skin cells, making the cells into blank slates that should be able to turn into any of the 220 cell types of the human body, be it heart, brain, blood or bone. Until now, the only way to get such human universal cells was to pluck them from a human embryo several days after fertilization, destroying the embryo in the process.

The need to destroy embryos has made stem cell research one of the most divisive issues in American politics, pitting President Bush against prominent Republicans like Nancy Reagan, and patient advocates who hoped that stem cells could cure diseases like Alzheimer’s. The new studies could defuse the issue as a presidential election nears.

I for one am glad to see the ethical ramifications of this laid to rest. I however never saw it in that light. My support for stem research is similar to my support for first trimester abortion. In developed nations 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and 33% of all pregnancies in third world nations. To me that means either one of two things either individuality isn't imparted by the divine until after the first trimester or that the creator is capricious and cruel. Given the choice between the two I chose to believe the former. Hence for me this has always been a political issue with the right opposing stem cell research in order to curry favor with its base and the left doing the same. Fortunately for those who have loved ones whose well being seemed to be hanging on the outcome of this debate the passion play may very well be over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SCOTUS to Take on 2nd Ammendment

From Scotusblog

After a hiatus of 68 years, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to rule on the meaning of the Second Amendment — the hotly contested part of the Constitution that guarantees “a right to keep and bear arms.” Not since 1939 has the Court heard a case directly testing the Amendment’s scope — and there is a debate about whether it actually decided anything in that earlier ruling. In a sense, the Court may well be writing on a clean slate if, in the end, it decides the ultimate question: does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to have a gun for private use, or does it only guarantee a collective right to have guns in an organized military force such as a state National Guard unit?

The city of Washington’s appeal (District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290) seeking to revive its flat ban on private possession of handguns is expected to be heard in March — slightly more than a year after the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Second Amendment right is a personal one, at least to have a gun for self-defense in one’s own home.
I for one am highly curious as to how they will rule. The ruling will in essence set a precedent for states since Dc is sort of a state unto itself. Additionally the law only forbids handguns hence it sidesteps the "keep and bear arms" part of the constitution by allowing citizens to own firearms that are normally used for hunting. Furthermore this ruling will be highly telling about the philosophy of the newer appointees. Given how fine this court has split legal hairs in the past it'll be a highly indicator in regards to newer members views of Constitutional vs states rights.

Frankly I'd prefer they shoot it down. I don't like laws that impinge on the rights of a majority for the actions of a minority. DC could have easily required all handgun owners to have licenses or outlawed all handguns under .38 caliber (the cheap ones) both of which would have prevented this legal showdown.

Chuck Norris for Huckabee Ad

Probably the funniest campaign ad this election season so far.

h/t to Donklephant

Ron Paul Tops Thompson in NH GOP Polls

Placing him in fourth place according to a CNN poll. Meanwhile Giuliani and McCain are within the margin of error for second place with Romney solidly in first. Ron Paul's ad blitz is having an effect and Thompson's lack of well anything resembling momentum, excitement, or organization have cost him dearly. I think McCain isn't as much gaining momentum as he is picking up Giuliani defectors as Giuliani has been making it very clear that he'll trade his values for votes. I'm betting after NH we'll see the GOP lineup pared down to the top four. Frankly I'm hoping McCain ends up beating Giuliani and Ron Paul does better than the poll estimates once all the votes are tallied in NH.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Little Perspective

I keep seeing a little ticker on blogs that counts the number of US Servicemen killed in Iraq and I recall thinking about a year ago, "We lost more than that on D Day." Now I've studied enough history to know that troop losses in Iraq are in fact tiny compared to most of the other wars we fought. In fact the current losses in American troops don't equal the losses of certain single battles fought in previous wars. Below are a few examples:

Battle of Shiloh 1754 Union Soldiers killed 1728 Confederate soldiers killed

Battle of Gettysburg 3,155 killed Union Soldiers Killed 4,708 Confederate Soldiers killed

Civil War 110,000 Union Soldiers killed 93,000 Confederate troops killed

World War I 5,525,000 Allied troops killed

Battle of the Bulge 19,276 American Soldiers dead

Battle of Normandy Beach 1,465 American troops dead

WWII 407,300 American soldiers killed

Korean War 36,516 Americans troops killed

Tet Offensive 6,328 Allied Troops Killed

Viet Nam 58,209 American soldiers killed (200,000+ veterans still homeless 30 years later)

Iraq War to Date 3,865 American troops killed

Just food for thought.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Republicans for Obama?

Looks like he's getting up to 15% republican volunteers in some areas of Iowa in addition to placing third in a poll of Iowa caucus goers according to the blog The Iowa Independent.

Obama Touts Republican Crossovers

The campaign for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has been listening as Iowans have gathered in small groups to whisper about the one thing they most worry about: electability. In response to those concerns, the campaign has released a list of 268 Iowa Republicans who will be crossing party lines to caucus with Democrats on Jan. 3, 2008.

"To Iowans, electability means that we need to win this election," said Dale Hedgecoth, one of Linn County for Obama's most out-spoken and active volunteers. "There are some of these other candidates that are carrying too much baggage. We need a cross-over vote from Republicans in this primary and we need independents to come over as well. I believe that will happen at caucus time and, if Barack Obama is the candidate, I believe it will also happen during the general election."

Hedgecoth estimates 15 percent of the people walking into and volunteering at the Linn County for Obama office are Republicans or former Republicans. Electing someone who can represent and find support on both sides of the political spectrum, he said, should go a long way to ending "the political gridlock" of recent years.

Heck, I'm worried about his electability too. But this is part of a trend of Republicans crossing the line to support Obama and that along with the fact that many moderates and male Democrats don't like Clinton may prove to be Obama's best hope of getting the nod. If he can even out his performance in debates and speeches and continue to verbally go toe to toe with Clinton he'll have a decent chance. If not well then he's one of Unity08 picks.

h/t to The Daily Dish

She's Got a Point

Probably one of the best arguments against federal poverty based entitlement programs I've heard in a long while courtesy of Wendy McElroy

I'm all for helping the poor. I just think it should be private, and voluntary.

At this point I usually hear the objection, "But that's not enough! Small scale solutions like that will never solve the problem!"

Today it hit me: why the hell not?

To be more specific: the question should not be how do increase the scope of the (private) solution. It should be, why is the problem so damned big?

Let's face it: if you're living in a society in which anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of the population can't meet their basic needs through their own efforts -- where a half-trillion dollar enterprise is needed to "help the poor" -- then there is something fundamentally wrong with your society; and redistributing wealth, from those who have managed to succeed to those who have not, is avoiding the real problem. Whether the problem is the legions of overpaid bureaucratic parasites, the erosion of savings through inflation, confiscatory taxation, the countless costs of busybody legislation, or all of the above, you need to fix the underlying cause before you can ever really help people.

Put another way: if transfusing a few units of blood doesn't help the patient's condition, you'd better start looking for the bleeding....not look for more blood donors.

I have problems with such programs on a federal level mainly due to the rampant inefficiency of such programs. Similiar programs sponsored by states tend to waste less money (on average) but private charities regularly outperform both. For example the United Way manges to use 90% of its money for its programs. Thats anywhere from twenty to thirty percent more than similar federal programs. And frequently charities have a better turn around time than the federal government. Simply put I just want my money spent wisely and well.

h/t to Pagan Vigil

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Evangelical on Torture

Over at The Evangelical Outpost Joe Carter tackles the question, "Who would Jesus waterboard?" His answer? No one.

Who allowed our country to succumb to such fear and moral cowardice that we parse the the meaning and definition of "torture?"

I blame myself, and implicate my fellow Christians. We have remained silent and treated an issue once considered unthinkable--the acceptability of torture--like a concept worthy of honest debate. But there is no room for debate: torture is immoral and should be clearly and forcefully denounced. We continue to shame ourselves and our Creator by refusing to speak out against such outrages to human dignity.


As Christians we must never condone the use of methods that threaten to undermine the inherent dignity of the person created in the image of God. ... There is something clearly repugnant about our unwillingness to distance ourselves from the fear-driven utilitarians willing to embrace the use of torture.

I've wondered "Where is the evangelical outrage?" before and its good to see evidence that there is some. However unlike others I don't believe that there is any type of implicit consent amongst evangelicals towards the use of torture. I am of the opinion that they, probably like many Americans, simply have a hard time believing that those charged with leading and defending this great nation are capable of sinking that low and thus passively choose to write it off as improbable. After all its easier to continue believing in the goodness of America than it is to change one's view and then wrangle the ensuing ramifications. The problem is that in doing so too many are giving passive consent to torture by their silence.

Monday, November 12, 2007

McCain Campaign Bouncing Back?

From Rasmussen Reports:

Election 2008: Clinton vs. McCain & Romney
McCain Leads Clinton By Two While Clinton Tops Romney by Five

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Election 2008 shows Arizona Senator John McCain (R) leading New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) by just two percentage points, 47% to 45% While the “lead” is statistically insignificant, it’s the first time since May that McCain has had any advantage over Clinton. The election poll also found Clinton leading former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 47% to 42%. But, Romney is gaining some ground on the Democratic frontrunner. Romney trailed Clinton by six in August.

But given how fluid the Republican nominating contest is proving to be, McCain may have a chance to jump-start his campaign. His strong performance in general-election match-ups with top Democrats may help. McCain is virtually tied with Senator Barack Obama and trails former Senator John Edwards by a modest amount. At the moment, McCain polls better against Clinton than either Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson.

Given the fact that Fred Thompson has fizzled, Romney is seen by many as a flip flopper, Giuliani is increasing moving to the authoritarian right, and Clinton is the single most polarizing figure in office outside of W himself McCain might prove the old adage "slow and steady wins the race" true if current trends hold. Heck, given the choice between Giuliani, Clinton, and McCain I'd pick McCain any day of the week.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

W's First Veto Override

From the NY Times:

Senate Overrides Bush Veto on Water Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was filled with unnecessary projects.

The 79-14 vote included 34 Republicans who defied the president. Enactment was a foregone conclusion, but it still marked a milestone for a president who spent his first six years with a much friendlier Congress controlled by his Republican Party.

Now he confronts a more hostile, Democratic-controlled legislature, and Thursday's vote showed that most of the Republicans will defy him on spending matters dear to their political careers.

Bush's spokeswoman portrayed the issue as a divide between a budget-conscious president and a big-spending Congress.


The bill funds hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration, that are important to local communities and their representatives. It also includes money for the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and for Florida Everglades restoration efforts.

The House voted 361-54 to override the veto Tuesday. Both votes easily exceeded the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber to negate a presidential veto.


The bill, the first water system restoration and flood control authorization passed by Congress since 2000, would cost $11.2 billion over the next four years, and $12 billion in the 10 years after that, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Flood protection projects along the Gulf Coast, including 100-year levee protection in New Orleans, would cost about $7 billion if fully funded. The bill approves projects but does not fund them.

The bill would authorize the construction of navigation improvements for the Upper Mississippi River, at an estimated federal cost of $1.9 billion, and an ecosystem restoration project for the Upper Mississippi costing $1.7 billion.

The Indian River Lagoon project in the Florida Everglades would be funded at about $700 million.

The bill calls for an independent peer review process of all Army Corps projects costing $45 million or more, a bid to cut down on wasteful spending.

The bill also green lights several projects in Texas

Dallas Floodway, if the project is deemed feasible and environmentally sound, $298 million federal money; $161 million nonfederal money.

_Corpus Christi Ship Channel dredging, $88 million federal; $100 million nonfederal.

_Johnson Creek flood project in Arlington, $52 million federal, $28 million nonfederal.

_Gulf Intracoastal Waterway dredging, $17.3 million federal funds for area from Brazos River to Port O'Connor; $14.5 million for area from Sabine River to Corpus Christi.

_Sale of 900 acres by Army Corps of Engineers of Lake Texoma in Denison.

_Study of Onion Creek, Austin flood project.

_University of Dallas, $5 million for transboundary water resource management in the southwestern U.S. research.

Its funny time for W to start trying to appear to be a fiscal conservative. The sad part is what does it say about our leaders when the only things they can agree on are pork laden bills and giving themselves raises? Pork may be a fact of political life but I'm of the opinion that our elected leaders should only get the same percentage based cost of living increase given to those on social security. After all thats only fair, right?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pat Robertson Endorses Giuliani

Somewhere right now John McCain is laughing. McCain got Brownback's endorsement and Giuliani gets this....

From the WaPo:

Pat Robertson Endorses Rudy:
Deems Him 'More Than Acceptable to People of Faith'

Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, announced his support for Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Robertson's support was coveted by several of the leading Republican candidates and provides Giuliani with a major boost as the former New York City mayor seeks to convince social conservatives that, despite his positions supporting abortion rights and gay rights, he is an acceptable choice as the GOP nominee....

Good news for Giuliani? Well having a supporter that can move hurricanes with his mind is always a good thing. However given Robertson's previous comments about the US deserving 9/11 many independents might start looking for another candidate. Over at The Carpetbagger Report Steve Bennen notes the following:

Robertson, even in religious right circles, is considered something of a clown. He has a cult following that keeps the Christian Broadcasting Network afloat, but Robertson’s Christian Coalition has practically been driven out of business, and other leading evangelicals are embarrassed to be seen with him. You’ll notice, for example, that at last month’s “Values Voter Summit,” the largest gathering of the year for the movement, Robertson wasn’t invited and played no role whatsoever.
I'm inclined to think that the votes of CBN viewers aren't going to outweigh the number of moderates and independents that this endorsement will cost him. The more I see of Rudy, the more I think he is the greater evil.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

California Electoral Votes Imperiled Again?

If you can't beat 'em then sneak in referendum so that you can...

From the AP:

Effort to apportion California's electoral votes raises $540,000
SACRAMENTO—Republican donors have given about $540,000 to help qualify a ballot measure that could give the 2008 GOP presidential candidate a bounty of electoral votes from California.

The group needs to gather about 650,000 valid signatures by the end of the month to qualify the measure for the June ballot. That effort will take at least $2 million, according to David Gilliard, who is managing the campaign.

Gilliard said the campaign has less because it has been raising money for just 10 days.

"A lot of the people on there are capable of contributing quite a bit more," he said. "They're also the types that are able to attract others."

Darrell Issa, a wealthy Republican congressman from the San Diego area, gave $50,000, according to the fundraising report filed Tuesday with the secretary of state's office.

Floyd Kvamme, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who is supporting Rudy Giuliani for president, also gave $50,000. Jerrold Perenchio, the former head of Univision, gave the same amount.

Currently, California gives all 55 of its Electoral College votes to the statewide winner in the presidential race.

The proposal would change that so the statewide winner received two electoral votes and the rest were apportioned to the winner of each of the state's 53 congressional districts.

Odds are they'll shoot to get this on the ballot by primary day so that low voter turnout will play a huge factor in its passing, Then all they have to do is whip the GOP core in the state into a frenzy and presto the Dems are screwed. Its already been tried and shot down a few mos ago. So the odds are it'll fail again. Speaking as someone that lives in a die hard red state I'd love to see all states adopt this system as I'd actually like for my vote to count on the years I vote for Dem. Presidential candidates. Plus there's the fact that such a system would allow for the creation of viable third parties. And thats a win win situation for us all.

h/t to TMV

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ron Paul's Money Bomb Explodes into Action

Looks like Paul has broken the record for the most money raised in a day this campaign season...

From The Politico

Ron Paul's 'money bomb'

Proving again his ability to raise significant cash online, Ron Paul has raised nearly $2 million since midnight via his website.

In what is being called a "money bomb," Paul's fervent backers spread the word that today they'd blast their candidate with Internet contributions, setting up a website, "This November 5th," to push the plan. An aide said they had nothing to do with the effort.

"Supporters have spontaneously organized what I can only refer to as a one-day attack of donations," said Paul spokeswoman Kate Rick. "We started at midnight with $2.77 million raised for the quarter, and have, as of 9:36 am, climbed up to over $4.1."

As of 12:27, Paul had raised $4.73 million total....
Right now as of 8:10 CST he's raised a total of 6.69 million dollars 3.93 million dollars today. and roughly four hours left. Odds are he'll at least crack 7 million total dollars by raised midnight. Amazing what people will do for you when you inspire them isn't it?

He cracked 7 million around 10:30pm CST

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Catch the Repptide

I like to take the time every now and then to plug new blogging related sites that I think are of note. I recently discovered which bills itself as an organic review and opinion site:

It's probably best described as an organic review and opinion site. I call it organic because it takes a different route from the other review sites: if you've ever been to a restaurant that you liked, only to suddenly have an experience that completely changed your opinion, then you're in luck. repptide captures that shift in public opinion by tracking live opinions, from positive to negative, and vice versa. It's not static like the other review sites...
Whats different about Repptide from other sites I've plugged is that it allows you to submit articles or blog posts and then other people rate your submissions. Now if you happen to submit one of your own blog posts then Repptide users may drop by and read your post and then rate it which means you get more traffic. So please take some time to drop by and try it out for yourself.

Thousands of Refugees Returning to Baghdad

From the AP:

Thousands Return to Safer Iraqi Capital

BAGHDAD (AP) - In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday.

things began changing, becoming more peaceful, in August when radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army fighters to stand down nationwide.

About the same time, the Khadra neighborhood Awakening Council rose up against brutal al-Qaida control—the imposition of its austere interpretation of Islam, along with the murder and torture of those who would not comply.

The uprising originated in Iraq's west and flowed into the capital. Earlier this year, the Sunni tribes and clans in the vast Anbar province began their own revolt and have successfully rid the largely desert region of al-Qaida control.

At one point the terrorist group virtually controlled Anbar, often with the complicity of the vast Sunni majority who welcomed the outsiders in their fight against American forces.

But, U.S. officials say, al-Qaida overplayed its hand with Iraq's Sunnis, who practice a moderate version of Islam. American forces were quick to capitalize on the upheaval, welcoming former Sunni enemies as colleagues in securing what was once the most dangerous region of the country.

And as 30,000 additional U.S. forces arrived for the crackdown in Baghdad and central Iraq, the American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, began stationing many of them in neighborhood outposts. The mission was not only to take back control but to foster neighborhood groups like the one in Khadra to shake off al-Qaida's grip.
Sattar Nawrous, a spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, said the al-Azawi family was among 3,100 that have returned to their homes in Baghdad in the past 90 days.

"In the past three months, the ministry did not register any forced displacement in the whole of Iraq," said Nawrous, who is a Kurd.

The claim could not be independently verified, but, if true, it would represent a dramatic end to the sectarian cleansing that has shredded the fabric of Baghdad's once mixed society.
On average, 56 Iraqis—civilians and security forces—have died each day so far in this very bloody year. Last month, however, the toll fell to just under 30 Iraqis killed daily in sectarian violence.

More than four months after U.S. forces completed a 30,000-strong force buildup, the death toll for both Iraqis and Americans has fallen dramatically for two months running.

Further proof that the surge is having a positive effect in targeted areas. My question is can the model that reduced violence in Anbar and Baghdad be successfully exported to other regions? If that proves to be the case it'll be much easier for Iraqi forces to step up. Considering that odds are a Democrat will be elected President if the current downward trends in violence continues we might actually be able to start permanently withdraw without a genocide occurring afterwards. And given the lack of political progress in Iraq that may be the best we can hope for.

Friday, November 02, 2007

This Liberal Media Bias

A couple of months ago I read a post over on Buck Naked Politics titled What Liberal Media?
in which WMD attempted to use the lack of Ron Paul coverage after he won various networks online and text polls (post debate) to try to prove a lack of a liberal media bias stating,"If we really had a "liberal media" wouldn't you expect them to be shining the spotlight on the dark-horse underdog who is upsetting the Rudy McRomney apple cart?" Unfortunately I read it at work didn't email it to myself and forgot about it until now. (I'll get to what reminded me in a bit)

As for WMD's examples, at the time Ron Paul was considered by all outlets of the media to essentially be some libertarian longshot kook with a snowball's chance of being in the race a month later. Secondly, online/text polls are in no way shape or form an indicator of actual public opinion. They are an indicator of how motivated and engaged the candidates' supporters are. Nothing else. Therefore the media doesn't cover their results.

So I check Memeorandum today and find an article in the Investor's Business Daily that Harvard University found a highly significant difference in the amount of coverage of Dem candidates and GOP candidates as well as a major difference in the tone in which they are covered (which reminded me of WMD's post)

Reviewing 154 stories on evening network newscasts over the course of 109 weeknights, the survey found that Democrats were presented in a positive light more than twice as often as they were portrayed as negative. Positive tones for Republicans were detected in less than a fifth of stories while a negative tone was twice as common.
There have been other studies that reached the same conclusion however this is the first to come from a highly reputable college that many would label as "liberal elite". Additionally the study reflects my own opinions on the media. I watch/listen to CNN when getting ready for work, I liosten to Morning Edition on the way to work, and if I watch news in the evening I watch PBS. The study confirms my personal opinions of the networks/media in question.

However unlike many that see a sinister cabal of journalists I opt for a simpler explanation. Simply put the personality type that is most likely to stay in journalism tends to lean to the left. Much in the same way that not everyone is cut out to be a police officer, nurse, or mortician not everyone is cut out to be a journalist. WMD while I may find fault in both your evidence and your conclusion I do agree with you on your closing."What we do want is for the news media to return to the ethics of journalistic professionalism. No more editorializing disguised as reporting. Just give us the truth, report the facts and let each and every American decide for ourselves." However, whether you want admit to it or not, the bias exists. You may not, however, recognize it because it's biases may mirror your own.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Mysterious Appeal of Ron Paul

Looks like after his appearance on the Tonight Show he actually managed to get a little overdue MSM coverage from Time magazine.

The leader of the disaffected in next year's presidential election — the Howard Dean, the Ross Perot, the Pat Buchanan — is a kindly great-grandfather and obstetrician whose passion is monetary policy. Paul, a 72-year-old hard-core libertarian Republican Congressman who is against foreign intervention, subsidies and the federal income tax, is not only drawing impressive crowds (more than 2,000 at a post-debate rally at the University of Michigan last month) but also raising tons of cash. In the third quarter of 2007, Paul took in $5.3 million (just slightly less than G.O.P. rival John McCain), mostly in small, individual donations. On Oct. 22, he aired his first TV ads, $1.1 million worth in New Hampshire.

The numbers are even more impressive considering that as of early October, 72% of G.O.P. voters told Gallup pollsters they didn't know enough about Paul to form an opinion. He has been able to attract followers in the debates, where he's presented a clear, simple philosophy of personal freedom and responsibility. He bluntly refers to the U.S. as an empire. And the nerdiness lends Paul's simple message an aura of credibility, especially on a stage with more polished politicians and their nuanced positions. "He's about something that American nerd culture can get on board with: really knowing one subject and going all out on it," says Ben Darrington, a Ron Paul supporter at Yale.
Not bad but I think they missed the point that part of Paul's appeal comes from the fact that he's calling for constitutional purity during a time when the rights that it guarantees appear to be threatened. They have an interesting close though:
Paul doesn't expect that he will win the nomination, and he has no interest in running as an independent again. But he also doesn't see himself endorsing one of the other Republicans in the general election. "Those people who support me wouldn't believe it," he says. "If I said, 'Giuliani's a great guy, and he'll reduce subsidies and bring the troops home'? I couldn't do that." Even nerd revolutions don't surrender.
You'll note the usage of the word "independent" rather than the term "third party" which is the exact same thing he said in his appearance on the Tonight Show.

GOP Supporters to Break With Party Over Giuliani?

If they have a more conservative third party candidate to vote for they may.

From the Pew Research Center:

The GOP nomination race among Republican evangelicals, in particular, appears to be wide open: Giuliani, McCain and Thompson each draw about 20% of the vote among white Republican and Republican-leaning evangelical voters, with Huckabee and Romney getting about 10% each.

In addition, a solid majority of Republican white evangelicals (55%) say they would at least consider voting for a conservative third-party candidate if the general election is between Giuliani and Clinton. Overall, 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters say they would consider backing a third-party candidate who holds more conservative positions than Giuliani on social issues like abortion and gay marriage.
Good news for The Constitution Party bad news for Giuliani and the GOP. However I have to wonder about the "Hillary effect" coming into play. By that I mean will having a common enemy cause GOP supporters to rally around the Republican candidate just to keep Clinton out of power? I think Giuliani is counting on it.