Wednesday, June 28, 2006

You've got to [cut and] walk, before you [cut and] run.

Update Appended: July 1, 2006
A short tutorial on what passes for political discourse on Iraq ...

First, the fiddler plays the tune:
Rove harsh on critics of Iraq War
By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Staff Writer
Published June 2, 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE — Presidential adviser Karl Rove told an enthusiastic crowd of Broward County Republicans on Friday night that the worst mistake the U.S. could make is to “cut and run” in Iraq....
“His instinct is to cut and run,” Rove said of Kerry. “If America cuts and runs in Iraq, who’s going to tell the families that their loss was in vain?”
Then the media dances to the tune:
And the chorus joins in:
Blog Posts that contain "cut and run" -
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!
By way of example, two soloists, pulled from the chorus, singing from the songbook, one from each wing, staking out the range of options -
To whit: Choosing between "cut and run" as explained from the right by Jim Sonderberg at Hardstarboard:

"Regrettably, some filthy mercenary traitors are still on our soil and hold elective office. And they still cannot take the heat of honest, open challenge:
Commenting on Karl Rove's remarks in a speech in New Hampshire where he charged that Democrats are "wrong, profoundly wrong" in wanting to cut and run in Iraq, an increasingly rabid anti-war Congressman John Murtha resorted to a personal attack on Rove on Sunday.
Or, as Mark Steyn parodied it in the aforelinked piece, "Even if there's no civil war, even if the insurgents' leader is dead and his network in ruins, even if the Iraqis are making huge progress in self-government, even if by any historical standard everything's going swell, the Defeaticrats refuse to budge: America needs to throw in the towel and hightail it out of there by the end of the year," no matter what. "Declare defeat and go home," no matter what the consequences, no matter how many Middle East "dominoes" fall (of which Iraq would be but the first), no matter how many thousands more American civilians have to die at home. Lib militant pacifist ideology has to be upheld - to the last man.
Or to "cut and walk", as explained from the left by Andy Ostroy at the Ostroy Report:
Despite it Being the Worst Military Blunder in U.S History, the GOP Sees Iraq War as Campaign Opportunity. Am I Missing Something?
... As Feingold said on Sunday's Meet the Press, we're being told we need to "stay in Iraq so that Cheney and Bush get to say that they were right. That appears to be why we're there. That appears to be the only logical reason to stay. A situation that is draining our military, that is hurting our recruiting. That is allowing Osama bin Laden to have us exactly where he wants us."
And what about "cut and run" being a sign of the Democrats' weakness; of their "retreat and defeatism?" How about this: is it cut and run when the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., calls for a troop drawdown of 7000 by September '06? Or a withdrawal of all but 40,000-50,000 troops by the end of '07? The NY Times Sunday reported that a classified Pentagon briefing by Casey calls for significant troop draw-downs within the same timetable outlined by Kerry, Murtha and other Democrats. But it's highly unlikely the Repugs will brand their guy a cut and run defeatist. To the contrary, his prescience will be characterized as military pragmatism."
Believe it or not, it is possible to see a rational and informative non-partisan discussion on what is going to happen with our military presence in Iraq, without the use of the phrase "cut and run" - This excerpt from a remarkable Chris Matthews interview with two articulate Iraqi veterans on Monday. Full transcript is linked and well worth the read:
'Hardball with Chris Matthews' Transcript from Monday, June 26.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL... Iraq war veteran Paul Rieckhoff is the executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He‘s also the author of “Chasing Ghosts.” Fellow veteran, Nathaniel Fick, is a marine captain who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he‘s the author of “One Bullet Away.”

MATTHEWS: But we can agree here, or you two fighting men can agree,... that ultimately it‘s up to the Iraqis to settle their civil war, to end the fight between the majority Shia and the minority Sunni, just the way we ended world war II, where we killed as many Nazis or a number of them but we basically said to the fighting people, who weren‘t obviously political, the war is over. Is that right, Paul?

RIECKHOFF: I think it is right. We‘ve got to determine what our metrics are for success and what a time line is. I think that‘s part of the reason why so many people in this country and people on the ground in Iraq want to see some sort of a time line. ...

MATTHEWS: How do we get out of there? How do we say we‘ve done the job?

FICK: It‘s an interesting question about time lines. I think that a phased withdrawal is something we have to talk about...

MATTHEWS: Should we have a secret time line?

FICK: Clearly..., the military is going to have a time line.

MATTHEWS: What do you make George Casey, the word that came out in the paper the last couple of days, since I‘ve been gone, that there is some sort of plan to bring out a couple brigades?

FICK: It‘s common sense. I‘m not surprised by it.

MATTHEWS: So within a year or two, you say we have a significantly lower number of troops.

FICK: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that?

RIECKHOFF: I do. I think it‘s inevitable. It doesn‘t matter if you‘re George Bush or Congressman Murtha, we‘re coming home. What we‘re arguing about now is a matter of time and the pace in which we do it. It‘s interesting to see, if the Democrats had proposed the same plan that General Casey did, there would have been Republicans on the hill saying this is cut and run. We need to move past this rhetoric...

MATTHEWS: So you gentlemen both agree that by the year 2008, we will be out of Iraq?

RIECKHOFF: I think we‘re going to start to see significant movement downward, absolutely. And I think it‘s because the generals in the Pentagon are going to force him to draw back our presence over there. I just think given the size of the active duty, we‘re very much over committed. And you can‘t continue to run the active duty in the Reserves this hard without a break.

FICK: I agree with Paul. The active duty force and the reserve force can‘t keep up this pace, but I think our own national interest will keep some presence on the ground there. Certainly not this large, but some presence.

MATTHEWS: Something to fight the terrorists with, to stay out of politics.

FICK: Oh, that‘s right. And to maintain regional stability.

MATTHEWS: We‘re not in the political business anymore. Thank you, a lot of clarity there. Thank you Paul Rieckhoff and thank you Nathaniel Fick and thank you for your service, both of you gentlemen to our country."
So there you have it. The war in Iraq is ending for America. There is a timeline, and we are only arguing about time and pace. It'll end over the next couple of years, because the American people no longer thinks it makes sense for us to be there. and because our military no longer thinks it makes sense for us to be there. The political posturing and partisan name-calling will go on, but most of our troops are coming home.

It passes all understanding why anyone would think that either party is deserving of complete control of both the legislative and executive branches of government. If we can get back to divided government now, in 2006, perhaps we can execute this extraction from Iraq without further bungling.

UPDATE: 01-July-06
Paul Reickoff blogs about the interview on Hardball:
"I was on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Mathews to talk about the proposal of amnesty for insurgents in Iraq. I think the proposal to grant amnesty to people who attack American troops is ridiculous. It was an excellent talk--rare for TV. Not just another screaming match, I felt like the segment was a serious and thoughtful discussion of the issue. I was on with my friend Nate Fick and Matthews really gave us time to talk. Props to Mathews for having two Iraq vets on to talk about Iraq. Too many shows rely on using politicans and policy wonks for guests have never even been on the ground."
If you are interested in reading about alternative plans for getting our troops out of Iraq that get beyond the mindless "stay the course" -"cut and run" level of discourse, and guided by a vet who has been there on the ground, check out Paul's blog and his post at Huffington Post. This, the second in the series, is focused on the Zbignew Brzezinski plan.

Also consider contributing to the IAVA. They are doing great work really supporting our troops, both on the ground in Afganistan and Iraq and when they come home. You can get an autographed copy of Paul's book on their site.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A piece of paper.

UPDATED 24-July-06
Yesterday, at Capitol Hill Blue, Doug Thomas cleansed his journalistic soul by confessing every reporting sin he has ever committed in this post: "In the end, all we have is the truth". While admitting he has posted and pulled a few incorrect stories, he stood by this one:
"Some of our more controversial stories have yet to be proven or disproved. Sources told us last year that President Bush referred to the Constitution as a "goddamned piece of paper." No other publication has confirmed the story but our sources remain firm on it and neither the White House nor members of Congress present at the meeting have denied the story. They simply refuse comment. It remains in our database because we believe the story is true."
The story he references is this Dec 9, 2005 post- Bush: Constitution 'just a goddamn piece of paper'
"Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act... GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"
Whether Bush actually said this, I cannot say.

[UPDATE]: 7/24/06 & Fixed Link 01/10/07
Recently, due primarily to the work of Eric at Classical Values, Doug Thompson and CHB has been completely discredited. The "piece of paper" story (on which the intro to this post was based) has subsequently been pulled from the CHB site, and "Doug Thompson" has "retired". Eric's series of posts on Doug and CHB are entertaining and informative. I'll summarize with this link from his most recent post on the subject, but encourage you to read it yourself :
"I'm getting a bit tired of Capitol Hill Blue. It's an unreliable web site which I'd never read before July 16, and I think it's staffed by sock puppets... is it possible that reasonable people might be able to agree that regardless of who or what it is, or how, or why it originated, Capitol Hill Blue has been so thoroughly discredited, that it should not be relied on by anyone, anywhere, ever again?"
Well Eric, I read him for the first time around June 20th, and I got suckered. I used his story in this post because I wanted an attention grabbing introduction to the well documented "Power Surge" article from the Cato Institue linked below. This article represents the real meat and basis for this post. Rather than simply edit or delete this post (as CHB has done), I have decided to leave the original post intact, as a cautionary reminder to myself and other readers. The Thompson quotes above were accurate at the time this was first posted. Subsequently, the first cited article has been changed, and the second has disappeared. In my own defense, I did not represent that the story was true, but stated it was consistent with other actions and pronouncements from the admistration, and also stated that whether he actually said it, was not as important as what the administration does. But - it is what it is. You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. So, I serve notice that everything above this paragraph in this post has fleas. Everything below is clean. - mw

The story is not inconsistent with the (politically corrected and filtered) views of this administration. If you are willing to read between the lines, you can see that former press secretary Ari Flescher said much the same thing in a press briefing shortly after the 9/11 attack (but in a much more politically correct and publicly palatable way).
Ultimately, what the President did or did not say, is not as important as what the administration actually did. This next excellent article details the abuse of power and the continuing erosion of our Constitutional limitations on executive power during the Bush administration. It was written by Gene Healy (author of "Arrogance of Power Reborn: The Imperial Presidency and Foreign Policy in the Clinton Years") and Timothy Lynch (author of "Dereliction of Duty: The Constitutional Record of President Clinton), both editors at the Cato Institute:
"Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W Bush'"
"Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power. In its official legal briefs and public actions, the Bush administration has advanced a view of federal power that is astonishingly broad, a view that includes:
  • a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech, and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election;
  • a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror;
  • a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as "enemy combatants," strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror, in other words, perhaps forever; and
  • a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave.
President Bush's constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers."
George W Bush believes that his post 9/11 role, as a wartime president, is to defend the country as he sees fit, regardless of legal or constitutional constraints. This is not without historical precedent. It is the rule, not the exception, that wartime presidents have a history of broadly stretching the power and reach of the executive branch. Examples include Lincoln suspending habeas corpus, FDR building detainment camps and relocating Japanese Americans, Truman bypassing Congress and the U.N. with the fictional legalistic construct of a "police action" to fight a war in Korea, and now Bush claiming the power to suspend any American's Constitutional protections if he unilaterally decides they are an "enemy combatant". In the past these presidential abuses have ultimately been rolled back over time, by Congress or the judiciary as the perceived or real crisis abated.

But there is a difference now. We are told that we are embroiled in a "forever" war against terrorism that could last decades. Now what? How many Presidents will wield these ever expanding powers?

Is this what it comes to? Have we finally become so fat and complacent that we are ready to give up our constitutional limitations on government power out of our fear of terrorism? Have we really come to this? Does fear finally trump liberty for today's Americans? Is this the generation that will finally fail to preserve the Constitution for the next generation?

We face a fundamental question about what America is to be, and how we are to be governed.

Our Constitution calls for checks and balances on power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The legislative branch has abrogated their Constitutional war-making responsibilities by handing the executive branch a blank check on Iraq and the "war on terror". The President has declared provenance over the judicial branch for Americans that he alone can label an "enemy combatant".

What are the prospects for change? We now have a majority of the Supreme Court appointed by Republicans, a Republican majority in the Senate, a Republican majority in the House, and a Republican Executive administration that weilds the reigns of the government based on criteria of personal loyalty, while freely using the whip of partisan fealty, and does not distinguish between political opposition and "aiding the enemy".

The checks and balances on government power as envisioned by the founding fathers of this country are broken.
Regardless of your political party, whether Republican, Democrat, Independent, or 3rd party -

Regardless of your political philosophy, whether Liberal, Conservative, or Libertarian -

Regardless of what you personally think about George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or our pork-barrel pandering Congress -

Regardless of whether you are pessimistic, optimistic, or cynical about the war and our leaders -
If you would like the Constitution to remain something more than "a piece of paper", the time has come for Americans to impose some semblance of check and balance on the federal government by ending the dangerous single party control that we have today.

The time to do this is now in 2006, and not to wait for 2008.

This is not about Republicans vs. Democrats. This is not about whether your incumbent Congressman or Congresswoman is the better candidate than their challenger. This is about creating greater partisan balance in Washington in order to restore Constitutional constraints on government power now, before it is too late.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ann Coulter Validates Divided Government Voting Strategy!

"The 'Clinton economy' ... only became something to brag about some time after the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994..." - Ann Coulter - "Godless" - Chapter 1 Page 47

Thank you Ann, for that strong endorsement of the virtues of Divided Federal Government - where the Executive and Legislative Branches are split between the parties. Clearly, we both now recognize the damage that single party control of the government can do to our liberty and economy, whether it is the Democratic single party dominance of the LBJ administration, the first two years of the Clinton administration, or the worst of all time, the last five plus years of Republican control during the Bush administration. I am sure we can now count on your support to help reign in the continuing wild out-of-control spending, fiscal irresponsibility and rapidly expanding government growth and power by supporting the DWSUWF 2006 Voting strategy and electing Democrats into control of congress.

Thanks again, babe.

Technorati tags:, ,.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ann "hominem" Coulter - Some Godless notes.

UPDATED: 06/28/07 Onthe occasion of Godless paperback publication.

Ad hominem -
"An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally "argument against the person") or attacking the messenger, involves replying to an argument or assertion by attacking the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself. It is usually, though not always, a logical fallacy..." - from Wikipedia

I paid full retail at the airport (you are welcome, Ann). Started reading on the four hour flight back, and finished it in the afternoon at home between naps. I started on the plane while simultaneously listening to the new album by the Dixie Chicks. Bad idea. Almost immediately my nose started to bleed from the contextual conflict and I ripped off the headset. "Focus! Focus!" I thought to myself "One screed at a time." The Dixie Chicks will have to wait.

I enjoyed my first Coulter read much more than I expected, although I would not actually describe "Godless" as a conventional book. It is a collection of essays, with a thin thematic coat of "Church of Liberalism" metaphorically painted across the surface to create the impression of a single coherent theme. The theme does not work. The essays stand on their own, but the attention grabbing title (Godless - The Church of Liberalism) does not come together as a theme, as the case supporting the title is never made. In the first chapter she makes an effort to build the foundation, and her conclusion is explicitly stated at the end of the chapter: "Liberals can believe what they want to believe, but let us not flinch from identifying liberalism as the opposition party to God." Problem being, her only support for the conclusion is a hodge-podge of interesting but disconnected anecdotal anti-liberal diatribes. She then leaps the logical canyon in a single breathtaking bound to this grand but unsupported conclusion. After that chapter, she does not even really try to get back to the theme except as catchy subtitles for the remaining chapters.

Remaining chapters (essays) are on the topics of: Liberal failure to deal with Crime (Chapter 2); Willie Horton and the 1988 Presidential Campaign (Chapter 3); Abortion (Chapter 4); Liberals using victims as spokespersons to deflect debate (Chapter 5); The Failure of Public School Teachers and Education (Chapter 6); Liberals using Science as a Political Football (chapter 7); and an extensive "debunking" of the Darwinian theory of evolution (chapters 8-11).

To be fair, Anne Coulter is not writing a doctoral thesis here. "Godless" is simply a well executed bit of political propaganda, and I mean that in a good way. Coulter has an agenda, she writes in the service of that agenda to entertain and sway opinion to her objective. In that regard, she is one of the top tier of propagandists working in the in political cotton field that is an election year, harvesting the hearts and minds of the American electorate.

She joins her fellow high profile propagandists, Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, and "Baghdad Bob"(Remember him? Saddam's Information Minister cracking wise with Arab reporters "Americans? What Americans? There are no Americans here." as the Baghdad airport was being overrun by coalition forces on TV.)

All are/were highly effective entertainer/propagandists that play primarily to their base of supporters/audience, working in different media but always in the service of their propaganda agenda.

A primary tool of all propagandists, is the use of facts - documented, provable carefully groomed and selected facts - to create an impression of overwhelming evidence in support of one's point. Operative word is "selected". It is also useful to ignore inconvenient facts that contradict the agenda. As an example, If I wanted to make the case that Ann Coulter's primary propaganda weapon of choice is the logical fallacy of "Ad Hominem" attack, I would support that agenda by first coming up with a clever title for the blog post, then barrage the reader with a long list of actual quotes from her book where she employs the "Ad Hominem" attack.

It would look something like this:
Chapter 1: Liberals Schemed
  • "Ugly feminists... impotently rail against "sexist men" and "sexual harassment" while simultaneously promoting the view that sex has no sacred purpose." page 9
  • "Like most people who enjoy talking to strangers about sex, Miss Landophi, to put it as charitably as possible, is physically repulsive in appearance." - page 13
  • "... Professors are the most cosseted, pussified, subsidized group of people in the U.S. workforce. - page 14
  • "The stupidest of their students become journalists..." - page 15
Chapter 2: The Perp
  • "I think Justice Goldberg had a few screws loose." - page 30
Chapter 3: Willie Horton
  • "The Greek midget vetoed it. " [referring to Michael Dukakis] page 64
  • "This shows what idiots liberals like Michael Dukakis are like." - page 71
  • "In the history of nation, there has never been a political party so ridiculous as today's Democrats. It's as if all the brain-damaged people in America got together and formed a voting block." Page 84
  • "Dean, being a raving lunatic, said "No doctor is going to do an abortion on a live fetus..."" - Page 87
  • "Maybe there's a better committee for Senator Drunkennedy to sit on ..." page 90
  • "...Unlike Durbin, Kennedy, and Schumer, she's not a hack, she never drowned anyone, and the Anti-Defamation League isn't trying to put her in a lockbox. " Page 91
  • "... in Senator Drunkennedy's famous phrase." - page 94
  • "The day before Kerry won the Democrat's Best Fake Patriot contest in Iowa..." - page 97
Chapter 5 "Sobbing Hysterical Women"
  • "... all Democratic spokesmen these days are sobbing, hysterical women." - Page 101
  • "One wonders how exposing anything about Cindy could discredit her more than the poor imbecile's own words have. - page 102
  • "...Cindy Sheehan, with that weird disconnect between the viciousness of her comments and her itsy-bitsy, squeaky voice." - page 103
  • "These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation ..." page 103
  • "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arrazzis, I've never seen people enjoying their husbands death so much. The increasingly rabid widows ..." page 103
  • "... the Democrats were able to ensure a whitewash of Clintons' utter incompetence, cowardice, and capitulation to enemy regimes ..." page 104
  • "Mostly the witches of East Brunsweick wanted George Bush to apologize for not being Bill Clinton. Like Monica Lewinsky before here, Breitweiser found impeached president Clinton "very forthcoming"." - page 112
  • "Out of love for his country and an insatiable desire to have some-one notice his worthless existence, Wilson wrote a column ..." - page 115
  • "He had been sent by his wife , Valerie Plame., a chair-warmer at the CIA who apparently wanted to get him out of the house." - page 118
  • "For the really insane stuff you have to go to bush-league newspapers where reporters have all the venom of the big-city newspapers, combined with retard level IQs." - page 119
  • "... the only provable conclusion of which is that Joe Wilson is a nut and a liar." page 119
  • "... How does a publisher react to some pompous jerk who wants to call his book The Politics of Truth? - page 151
  • "The Democratic Party's became Cindy Sheehan, loon." - page 128
  • "The only sort of authority Cindy Sheehan has is the uncanny ability to demonstrate, by example, what body types should avoid wearing shorts in public." - page 128
  • "Despite having a screwball for a mother, Casey Sheehan was a great American ..." page 150
  • "There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats' behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated and driven from the field of battle. They fill the airwaves with treason... These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors." page 135
  • "... as long as Democrats are going to be jock sniffers for war veteran's, let's at least be equal about it." - page 137
  • "I have a right to call Democrats blowhards, moral cowards, and traitors... they are liars and cowards and traitors." - page 141
  • "Perhaps liberals will claim Moore is a "covert" agent with the CIA, - assuming a big, sweaty, behemoth like Michael Moore could actually be concealed..." - page 143
Chapter 6: Spoil the Teacher
  • "In real life these taxpayer-supported parasites [teachers] are inculcating students in the precepts of the Socialist Party of America - as understood by retarded people." - page 148
  • "In 2004 former vice president A Gore gave a speech on Global Warming... this is the philosophy of a madman." - page 190
This list does not include chapters 8-11 which are a pretty good set of essays on the topic of Evolution and Intelligent Design, and include a minimum of Ad Hominem arguments. The section stimulated my curiosity, but I'll need to do a little more research on the subject before commenting further. There is food for thought here, and I hope to revisit this topic at some unspecified time in the future.

The essays I found most interesting and thought provoking were the very essays that Anne Coulter did not broadly utilize the "Ad hominem" attack - Including chapters 2,4,6. and 7.

Hmmmm. You don't suppose that she reserves the "ad hominem" technique to obfuscate and obscure arguments where she actually does not have adequate facts to support her case? I wonder. If so, Chapter 5, buried in the middle of the book, regarding the Jersey Girls, Cindy Sheeehan, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson is her weakest essay, since it is the chapter where she is completely unrestrained in her vitriolic personal attacks.

Beyond the "ad hominem" fallacies she employs, I have a couple of other nits to pick with "Godless":
"...After the Democrats failed to get a majority of Americans to vote for them in the seventh straight presidential election - since Jimmy Carter won with 50.1 percent of the vote in 1976. - page 20

"Of Course, if most people agreed with People for a Small Slice of the Upper West Side Way, Democrats might have won a majority of votes from the American people more than one time since Lyndon Johnson was president..." page 91
Her language is fuzzy, so I am not sure whether she means a majority of the votes cast, or a majority of voting age Americans. However, giving her the benefit of the doubt, and assuming she means a majority of votes cast, I will grant that these statements are literally true. But, she has selectively used facts to create statement that are wildly misleading while literally true. In the same sense I can make the following statements using the same facts that are just as literally true and just as misleading:
Since 1960:
  • There have been 3 Democrats (JFK,LBJ,JEC) and 4 Republicans (RMN,RWR,GHB,GWB) elected President with 50% or more of the popular votes.
  • There has been one Democrat (WJC) and two Republicans (RMN,GWB) elected President with 49% or less of the popular vote.
  • There has been one Republican (GWB) and no Democrats elected President while losing the popular vote.
Finally, since 1960, there has never been more than 63% of the voting age population that actually cast a vote, so no President in that time has ever been elected by a majority of voting age Americans.

As I said, a nit. I have a much bigger problem with this statement:
"Today's Republican Party stands for life, limited government, and national defense." - page 85
I'll stipulate to "life" and "national defense", but "limited Government"??? Today's Republican Party??? NFW.

Maybe the Republican party of Ronald Reagan can make that claim.

Maybe the Republican party of Newt Gingrich can make that claim.

But today's Republican Party has surrendered the right to make any claim on the Reagan legacy or Libertarian foundation of limited government advocacy. This is a new kind of Republican: Big Spending, Big Deficit, Big Government Republicans. The only argument is whether "Today's Republican" single party control of the federal government over the last five plus years will unambiguously lay claim to being the Biggest Government, Biggest Federal Growth, Biggest Spending and Biggest Deficit party of all time, bar none.

Ann, please make these corrections in your paperback edition. Also, thanks for your support of the Divided Government case. I am saving that quote from your book for my next post... - mw

UPDATE (06/27/07): The paperback was published yesterday. I am not going to buy it. Someone else can tell me if she made any corrections in the book. I am not holding my breath, although she said something that took Howard Kurtz's breath away:
'Give me a moment to catch my breath. I just heard Ann Coulter say something remarkable. It wasn't one of her patented attacks on liberals and other heathens. It was a casually tossed-off line about the president of the United States: "We're all just waiting for this nincompoop to be gone. I think we're all finally on the same page on that." Did I blink and miss something? Is Bush now toast with the entire conservative movement? '
Yeah. Howard. Pretty close.

A selection of additional Godless reviews and reactions:

Lady Jane at a Lady's Ruminations has a Godless review.
Larry at Blame Bush has a Godless review.

Ann Coulter reviews Ann Coulter.
Mrs. Betty Bowers reviews Miss Ann Coulter.
Scoobie has a Godless blog.
Newsmax has a Godless review.
Bloggers Rude Pundit and Truthdig rudely suggest there may be some Godless plagiarism.
Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post thinks the Media is paying too much attention to Ann.
Jill at Feministe has a Godless feminist perspective on Ann Coulter.
Larry Johnson at No Quarter is amused to be called the "leftist Ann Coulter".
Canadian Ian Maclean thinks Ann Coulter make some good Godless points about 9/11 widows.

I still have not had time to wade into Coulter's Evolution/ID screed but these sites have:

William Dembski at Uncommon Descent thinks Godless will advance the ID cause (and his moderator gets testy with my comments)
Ian Musgrave at the Panda's Thumb deconstructs some of Coulter's Godless Darwinian claims (thanks to anonymous commenter for the link)
Daniel Morgan at Get busy livin' or bloggin ' has some thoughts about Coulter, Dembski, and the Death of Godlessness.


Technorati tags:, , , .

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Stack Ranking V1.1 - Ann Coulter does her part.

I said to expect my '08 contender stack ranking to change frequently, but I didn't think it would change quite this quickly.

While taking shots at Ann Coulter was a bit of a fish barrel shoot, I still have to admire the way "quick draw" Hillary got off the the first shot - good enough to move her up a couple of notches in my book.

DWSUWF 2008 Presidential Candidate
Stack Ranking V 1.1

  1. Chuck Hagel (R)
  2. Joe Biden (D)
  3. John McCain (R)
  4. Bill Richardson (D)
  5. Rudolf Giuliani (R)
  6. John Kerry (D)
  7. Hillary Clinton (D) - up two spots.
  8. Newt Gingrich (R)
  9. Wesley Clark (D)
  10. Condi Rice (R)
This is a case where the reaction to Coulter is more interesting than her original comments. Anything that puts Olbermann and O'Reilly on the same page is worth a closer look.

In any case, a key element of the DWSUWF Voting Strategy is a balanced and polarized electorate...
"You are voting for Divided Government and the documented benefits of a Divided Government. In 2006, that means you are voting a straight Democratic ticket for Congress. If the Democrats take control of Congress, and it looks like the Democrats will maintain control in 2008, you vote for the Republican candidate for President in 2008. Simple. Easy. Satisfying.

Of course, this only works if we are in a political environment that is highly polarized and evenly split. So, no problem. In fact, a nuance of Dividican [div-eye-di-can] party membership is recognition that a polarized, partisan, evenly divided electorate is a positive good thing for the party and should be encouraged. This means, that when a Dividican party member is not voting, he/she should be actively working to stir the pot by antagonizing partisans of either (or both) sides."
... and Ann Coulter is doing her part. More reaction about La Femme Coulter in the blogosphere:

Jack Cluth at "The Peoples Republic of Seabrook" blogs that Coulter's comments are all about selling books:
"Coulter owes the widows an apology, but that's as unlikely as a thank-you note from her for the additional book sales, talk show bookings and profits the controversy will likely generate... No, Ann Coulter is laughing all the way to the bank, which I imagine is all that is really important to her."
Bob, a self-described Moderate disenfranchised ex-Republican from South Dakota blogs in Conservative Nut But A Marketing Genius? that Coulter's comments are all about selling books.
"This is the last post on the latest case of Ann Coulter mouth diarrhea, I promise. You can say what you will about the right wing conservative nut'’s politics but she knows how to sell books. Coulter'’s new book "Godless: The Church of Liberalism"” is currently number 1 on Amazon and the more outrageous she gets the more books she seems to be able to sell."
Dr. Peter Rost blogs in Dr. Peter Rost: Ann Coulter is Laughing Her Head Off that Coulter's comments are all about selling books.
"Then I read that Hillary Clinton is commenting on Ann Coulter, she said, "Perhaps her book should have been called 'Heartless." Then I read that John Kerry wrote in his Huffington Post blog today, "my first reaction was pretty much unprintable." Then I read a gazillion blogs about how much we all hate Ann Coulter. There's only one problem with all of this vitriol. It is exactly what Ann Coulter wanted. You and I may not agree with her, but she's not stupid. And here's the proof: Coulter's new book was's most popular selection Wednesday night and it was number one when I wrote this. Check it out. And you guys all made that happen. And you all will be writing about her again, which is exactly what she wants, while she laughs her head off checking her latest ranking."
A gazillion??? Hmph. I guess he's right ... based on this and this.

But pandering to her fan base to garner publicity and sell books???

Works for me.

I am returning from a fishing holiday, and "Godless" will be a good lightweight read for the flight back. Since everyone else is blogging about it, I'd be a damn fool not to blog about it myself.

I just think I should read it first. Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

06-06-06 '08 - Stack Ranking the Contenders

Surprisingly, Paul King did not take my advice regarding today's election in CD-50, so while we are waiting to hear the voice of the voters, let us look to the future.

To date this blog has focused exclusively on the '06 mid-term elections. So what better day than 06/06/06 to begin to talk about '08?

I'll preface this by providing a bit more color on my presidential politics voting history.

In my profile I express the hope "that by being complete, forthright, and transparent in my personal political bias and history, I can unload some of the emotional baggage carried in every political conversation, and deflect accusations of harboring a hidden agenda or participating in a conspiracy favoring Democrats (in '06) or Republicans (in '08)." The operative word in that statement is "hope" and not "expect". Springing eternally with that hope, and in the interest of transparency, I offer this additional background to support my identity as a "libertarian leaning independent".

Without additional comment, my complete presidential election voting history:

68 - Too young to vote - but worked for Eugene McCarthy
72 - John Hospers (L) (Nixon v McGovern)
76 - Gerald Ford (R)
80 - Ronald Reagan (R)
84 - David Bergland (L) (Reagan v Mondale)
88 - George H. Bush (R)
92 - Bill Clinton (D)
96 - Bob Dole (R)
00 - George W. Bush (R)
04 - John Kerry (D)

Ok, I lied. Looking over this list I am compelled to make a couple of comments. FWIW, I apparently have a problem maintaining political fidelity to any President for a second term, since I've never actually voted for a second term for anyone. So be it. Regarding my Libertarian votes, the first in '72 was ideologically motivated, as I had just finished reading the complete works of Ayn Rand. The second Libertarian vote in '84 was more of a protest vote, when I became disenchanted with Reagan's massive deficits and Iran-Contra machinations. The Reagan presidency planted the seeds that would eventually grow into the political philosophy articulated on this blog. I recognized then that the massive deficits under the Reagan presidency could never have happened with a Democratic President, for the simple reason that the Republicans in Congress would not stand for it.

As I describe in the DWSUWF voting strategy, my intent is to support a Republican presidential candidate in '08 if the Dems can take control of either house in '06. Or, conversely, a Democratic candidate if the Republicans maintain control of Congress. Depending what happens, just start at the top of the list and work down, and you have my candidate.

So, without further ado, version 1.0 of :

DWSUWF 2008 Presidential Candidate Preference Stack Ranking
  1. Chuck Hagel (R)
  2. Joe Biden (D)
  3. John McCain (R)
  4. Bill Richardson (D)
  5. Rudolf Giuliani (R)
  6. John Kerry (D)
  7. Newt Gingrich (R)
  8. Wesley Clark (D)
  9. Hillary Clinton (D)
  10. Condi Rice (R)

I used the MSNBC "Contenders" list as the pool from which to select my top 10 candidates (and I also borrowed their graphic for the top of this post - hopefully the gratuitous link will assuage their feelings)

Some caveats: This list will, of course, change over the next couple of years - and probably over the next couple of months. Beyond the top three picks, the ranking is somewhat random as I have not put a lot of analysis or thought into candidates 4 though 8, but we've got to start somewhere.

Net net: If the Dems take the House in '06, Hagel is my man for '08. The balance of this post will focus exclusively on my top pick.

I don't understand why Hagel does not have a higher profile and visibility with the electorate. Smart, articulate, Vietnam Vet, cripes - he even looks like a president. He was one of the very few Republican Senators to stand up to the President, and call a pig a pig when voting against the Medicare Prescription Bill Plan.

Check out these Hagel quotes from his bio on Wikipedia:
"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic."

"I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn't take an oath of office to my party or my president."

"National security is more important than the Republican Party or the Democratic Party."
And if you really want to appreciate the man, read a few of his speeches. I particularly like this well thought out and frighteningly prescient speech on American Foreign Policy from 2003.

Some other links of interest:
Sandhill PAC - Hagel's Political Action Committee

Charlie Hinderliter is unofficially blogging for his candidacy
Hagel's official website.

We truly need a President like Chuck Hagel, but first we need to end single party control of the Federal Government in 2006 and for all time.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

California Dreaming.

UPDATE: Appended 06/07/06

I wish I had an enchanted bullhorn that would magically speak directly to anyone or any group. Right now I have a few things to say to the voters of California Congressional District 50. Absent that enchanted bullhorn, I will have to be satisfied with this blog.

Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Francine Busby are in a statistical dead heat for the California seat vacated by disgraced Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham. The election is Tuesday. Conventional wisdom is that Bilbray will eke out a narrow victory in this "safe" Republican district. District 50 is a microcosm of the themes discussed in this blog. There is an evenly divided partisan electorate, which means that a small swing vote like a "Divided Government constituency" (just to think of an example off the top of my head) could swing the election. In CD-50 you also have vocal disgruntled conservatives that are unhappy with the Republican party in general and Republican candidate Bilbray specifically, and you also have third party conservative and Libertarian participation that could affect the outcome. All are topics of posts in this blog. The only thing missing is recognition by CD-50 fiscal conservative and libertarian voters that many of their objectives can be met by simply voting for divided government.

Where is that bullhorn?


John Gizzi, political editor at Human Events, is chronicling the full court press by Republicans to retain the seat as well as the problems Bilbray faces on the right:
"Bush, Rep. Issa Weigh In for Bilbray" by John Gizzi

"In a last-minute move to help Republican chances in the too-close-to call special U.S. House election in California'’s 50th District (San Diego) on June 6, both President Bush and Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) weighed in strongly this weekend for GOP nominee Brian Bilbray...

Obviously nervous about the outcome of the race, the RNC has more than 100 volunteers from outside states on the ground to assist in turning out the voter base..."

"Ex-GOP Legislator Blasts Bilbray" by John Gizzi

"With five days to go before the too-close-to-call special U.S. House election in California's 50th District (San Diego), Republicans were rocked last week with a hard-hitting denunciation of their nominee, Brian Bilbray from a fellow Republican...

Baldwin, who served in the state legislature from 1994-2000, cited in his letter reports from Channel 10 (San Diego) of allegations of perjury and voter fraud against Bilbray..."

Fellow Human Events Editor Robert B. Bluey asks the right question:

"Should Conservatives Support Brian Bilbray?"
"Conservatives across the Golden States and those in Washington are anxiously awaiting the results of Tuesday's election - some hoping for victory to retain the GOP seat and others anxious to send establishment Republicans a wake-up call."

But while Bluey asks the right question, he does not quite get around to giving the right answer. Logan Jenkins, a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, gets close to the right answer as he makes the case that third party cross-currents could determine Tuesday's results.
"Griffith could make 50th District race more interesting" by Logan Jenkins
"Unlike more respectable analysts, my sights are no longer trained on Brian Bilbray and Francine Busby, the major party candidates duking it out with TV ads that they sometimes do, but mostly don't, approve.
My own unscientific OK, mystical polling tells me the head-to-head race between these two is virtually over... No, this upcoming election could turn on the surly margins, the twilight zone of scattered protest votes and no votes.
Out on the extreme far right of the political spectrum, the main draw should be William Griffith, the independent "republican" (note lower case) whose rock-ribbed conservatism has earned him the recent endorsements of the local Minutemen and the super-conservative American Independent Party, which has about 7,000 registered voters in the 50th Congressional District... Like Libertarian Paul King, the fourth name on the runoff ballot, Griffith has less than zero chance of winning a ride to Washington. Still, Griffith could be the Ralph Nader or Ross Perot of this race. He could draw Bilbray blood in the zero-sum game of the runoff."

With an election this close, King and Griffith could make a difference by siphoning votes from Bilbray.

- or -

Enlightened fiscal conservatives could make a difference by swallowing hard, putting limited government principles over party politics and voting for Divided Government.

- or -

The most interesting possibility - Libertarian Paul King could potentially determine the election all by himself by asking his supporters to vote for Francine Busby. In 2004, the Libertartian candidate for House Representative drew about 1.2% of the vote. In this election, that could be enough.

With this move King could single-handedly put the Libertarians on the political map as power brokers, and in a single stroke:

  • Grab the media spotlight.
  • Use the spotlight to promote libertarian principles of limited government.
  • Raises awareness of how single party Republican control has unleashed a hell-bound train of advancing state powers and big government spending in the last five years.
  • Do the right thing for the country.
Since the Case for Divided Government was made by William Niskanen of the Cato Institute (a Libertarian think-tank), he would be standing on a rock-solid intellectual foundation.

It would be beautiful move, a brilliant move, and it just might make a difference. A difference in District 50, a difference in the Republican Party, a difference in the Libertarian Party, and, most importantly, a difference in the country.

Where is that bullhorn?

UPDATE: 06/07/06


With 96% of the precincts reporting, Bilbray has 49.48%, Busby 45.28%, Griffith 3.7% and King 1.5%. The third party candidates had no impact, except to depress Bilbray's margin of victory.

To quote the noted political pundit Yogi Berra: “It’s Deja Vu all over again.”

See you at the same time, same station, with the same players, and the same result, next November.

Of course, as long as we as a country keep voting for single party control of the Federal Government, we can also expect the same big government spending and growth, the same pork-barrel feeding at the public trough, the same incompetent cronyism in important agencies, and the same arrogance and bad decision-making in foreign policy.

But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps things will be diifferent now.

As I am sure all right thinking Americans must agree, that with our soldiers dying in a quagmire in Iraq, wild runaway pork-barrel spending, adding a trillion dollars of new entitlements to a bankrupt system, mind-numbing deficits piled higher every day on the backs of our children, out of control borders, impotence in the face of nukes in the hands of madmen in Iran and North Korea, and incompetent cronies running Homeland security … All brought to us courtesy of five plus years of single party Republican control in Washington … We can all get behind what is truly important now:

An unpassable Constitutional amendment to stop two fifty year old lesbians from getting married in San Francisco.