Sunday, November 26, 2006

Quick Hits

With the Thanksgiving Holiday I have been unable to post to the blog, so I wanted to cover a few quick items to start out the week:

  • Charles Rangel, on his draft crusade, perpetuates myths about the military and generally makes a fool of himself. See the video at Hot Air.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be subject to increased scrutiny with the presumed candidacy of Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. Ann Althouse has pulled a few pieces together. This will be something to watch.
  • For more on politics and the Mormon Church, check out this article about Harry Reid. To me Reid has been one of the biggest disappointments in recent political history.

That'll do for now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Iraq Study Group

When I read this post by Michael Barone I felt like it was a breath of fresh air. For the last week all we have heard is how the Iraq Study Group is going to recommend that we pull out of Iraq. We've also heard how the appointment of Robert Gates as Defense Secretary signals Bush's likely acceptance of that recommendation, as he is a member of the Study Group.

I hope that all that talk is wrong. Barone draws an analogy to the Vietnam Era, when Johnson appointed a successor to McNamara that was widely expected to be more hawkish about the prosecution of the war. He was not and the rest is history. Barone surmises that the reverse may be the case this time around.

I think President Bush is a good man. I think he has been sincere when he expressed his intention to continue in Iraq until the job is done. I don't believe that he will turn his back on what he has said. I think Barone is right.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Nice thoughts from Noonan

I think I can agree with pretty much all that Peggy Noonan wrote in last Friday's column. I like her sentiments and think they reflect an attitude that we can all adopt.

I will add that the success of her hopes will depend largely on a party that has done all that it can to undermine it. The Dems have a chance. We will be better off as a nation if they can make the right choices. Unfortunately, as my previous post indicates, I'm a bit skeptical that they will take that course.

More on Iraq, Rumsfeld

I am tired of the term "redeployment." I'm sure the Democrats are quite pleased with themselves for adopting it, because it sounds so much better than "withdrawl," nevermind that they are one and the same.

A redeployment of U.S. forces means one thing, movement from Iraq. This is a very, very, very bad idea. No matter how short the proposed redeployment might be or where the new staging area is, be it Saudi Arabia or Okinawa, the power vacuum in Iraq will be filled, and not by those friendly to the U.S. Redeployment, aka withdrawl, would be a disaster.


Today's WSJ has a great article on what the departure of Rumsfeld may mean in terms of the ideology now in control at the Department of Defense. New nominee Gates has been identified as a Realist. You need to read the piece to see what the author means, but the progressives (liberals, democrats) that have cheered Rummy's departure have abandoned their principles to see their personal enmity satiated. Not that it's surprising.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Farewell to a Good Man

I like Donald Rumsfeld. I like the way he expresses himself. I like how he refused to take any garbage from politicians who thought they deserved deference. I like how was unafraid to show contempt for the combative press. I admire his long career as a public official, as well as his impressive tenure as an executive. I think he followed his instincts and his own best ideas in a very, very difficult time. Some thoughts:
  • This is from a speech Secretary Rumsfeld delivered today at Kansas State University. I am also convinced of this sentiment (my emphasis):
    As we look back on those critical years during the Cold War, so too our grandchildren will one day look back on this time as a defining moment in America’s history. History will judge whether we did all we could to defeat a vicious extremist enemy that threatened our security, our freedom, our very way of life. Or, if we left it to the next generations to try to fight an enemy strengthened by our weakness, and emboldened by our lack of resolve.
    Over my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to live in times of great consequence, times of war and times of peace. I have met countless Americans from every corner of our magnificent country, and I have developed an abiding faith in the wisdom and good judgment of free people over time to come to the right decisions. I have seen us triumph over dictators and tyrannies of many forms, and I believe that if we persevere today -- and I am convinced we will -- if we make the right choices, and develop a clear understanding of the war we face today, we can overcome the increasingly lethal threats of this young century.
    Despite all the enemy tries to do to make the world think otherwise, America is not what is wrong with the world. America is a force for good. We are on the right side of history. Let there be no doubt that the great sweep of human history is for freedom and we are freedom’s side.
  • Victor Davis Hanson is an excellent commentator, and I enjoyed this entire column, but I include it here for the first item, his assessment of Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Defense Secretary.
  • This is an entertaining look at the political aspects of the timing of the Rumsfeld resignation.


Dick Armey was a key member of Congress and helped win the House for Republicans in 1994. He is a practical thinker and offers a helpful postmortem on the Republican Revolution that expired last Tuesday. This is an opportunity for Republicans.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post-Election Roundup

I've seen some interesting things regarding the election:
  • Michael Barone's insights are always interesting. It's worth a look for anyone that wants to understand some aspects of electoral politics better, such as exit polls and the state of the electorate.
  • John Fund continues his quest to examine voter fraud. Could that have played a role in places like Missouri? The Acorn organization is a central figure in the age-old problem.
  • I really liked Tom Coburn's statement on the election. He has made a name for himself as a champion of smaller government. It's long statement, but worth reading if you care about conservatism:

WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement tonight regarding the outcome of the mid-term elections:
“Although this election represents a short-term setback for Republicans, it could be an important turning point for the Republican Party and, more importantly, the country. Every incumbent was reminded that the American people, not party establishments, hold the reins of government. Throughout our history, when the American people rise up and force change our country benefits. In our system, the wisdom of many individual voters still outweighs the wisdom of a few,” Dr. Coburn said.
“Many factors contributed to these election results. The American people obviously are concerned about the conduct of the war in Iraq. Members of both parties have an obligation to work together to offer creative and constructive solutions that will help our troops accomplish their mission.
“The overriding theme of this election, however, is that voters are more interested in changing the culture in Washington than changing course in Washington, D.C. This election was not a rejection of conservative principles per se, but a rejection of corrupt, complacent and incompetent government.
“A recent CNN poll found that 54 percent of Americans believe government is doing too much while only 37 percent want government to do more. The results of this election reflect that attitude. Among the Republicans who lost their re-election bids a surprising number were political moderates who advocated a more activist government. Several Republican members of the appropriations committees, which have been on a spending binge, also were not re-elected. On the other hand, the two Republican senators who pulled off the most impressive victories were unapologetic conservatives, Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Ensign (R-NV). It is also notable that the Democrats who won or who ran competitive races sounded more like Ronald Reagan than Lyndon Johnson.
“This election does not show that voters have abandoned their belief in limited government; it shows that the Republican Party has abandoned them. In fact, these results represent the total failure of big government Republicanism.
“The Republican Party now has an opportunity to rediscover its identity as a party for limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility. Most Americans still believe in these ideals, which reflect not merely the spirit of 1994 or the Reagan Revolution, but the vision of our founders. If Republicans present real ideas and solutions based on these principles we will do well in the future.
“What Republicans cannot continue to do, however, is more of the same. Our short-term, politically-expedient, bread and circus governing philosophy has failed. Iraq is an important issue in the minds of voters but it is not the only issue. Our majority was severely weakened by a long series of decisions that pre-date the public’s current concern about Iraq.
“Republicans oversaw a seven-fold increase in pork projects since 1998. Republicans increased domestic spending by nearly 50 percent since 2001, increased the national debt to $9 trillion, passed a reckless Medicare expansion bill and neglected our oversight responsibilities. While some of these decisions may have helped secure specific seats in the short-term the totality of our excess did not secure our majority, but destroy it.
“There should now be less doubt about whether overspending and pork projects are bad policy and bad politics. This year, in particular, pork did not save our vulnerable incumbents but helped drag them down. The challenges facing our country are too great and complex for members of Congress and their staff to continue to be distracted by endless earmarking.
“Some have said that Republicans and Democrats now need to govern from the middle. I disagree. We do not need to govern from the center as much as we need to govern from conscience. When politicians have the courage to argue their convictions and lose their political lives in an honest battle of ideas the best policies will prevail.
“The American people do want civility but they also want real debate. Civility does not mean an absence of conflict, but a return of honor and dignity in our politics. The great debates in American history like the Lincoln-Douglas debates or the debates about the Constitution were intensely confrontational, but no one feels soiled after reading them. That same quality of debate is possible today if politicians put their country first and party second. The problems facing our country are too great to not have these debates. Voters are bored and tired of partisan role playing in Washington. The answers to securing Iraq, winning the War on Terror, and preventing the impending bankruptcies of Medicare and Social Security will not be discovered by portraying the other party as the focus of evil and corruption. If we don’t debate these issues with honor and agree on solutions we will be the first generation of leaders that left the next generation worse off, and we will see our relative power in the world diminish.
“One of the great paradoxes in politics is that governing to maintain power is the surest way to lose it. Republicans have the ideas to solve our greatest challenges. If we focus on ideas, our majority status will take care of itself,” Dr. Coburn said.

Crow tastes like...Chicken?

Well, it stinks to be wrong. If I have any excuse, it is that my predictions were based more on skepticism than hope, but wrong is wrong.

I meant to comment last night. I watched the results until about 12:30. It's been about ten years since I had reason to be as disappointed on election night, so I've tried to figure out exactly what I'm feeling about this. My thoughts:
  • Life will go on just as it has. A shift in power is far from the end of the world, as conservative ideals have often flourished when Republicans have been in the minority.
  • The War is a major concern. How will a Democratic-led house conduct the War? I heard Pelosi say something about "working together to find a solution to the Iraq War." This gave me pause. How about "a solution for the war" or "a solution to win the war?" I remain convinced that a pullout from Iraq would be a devastating defeat for the United States and our allies.
  • Republican control over the judiciary is greatly limited. It will be very difficult to get another Roberts or Alito on the court.
  • How will centrist Democrats like Webb and Casey legislate in Congress (if Webb is successful)? Will they follow a Lieberman approach?
  • Although it puts Republican Committee Chairmanships in jeopardy, the loss of someone like Lincoln Chafee is no loss at all.
  • I am already tired of Nancy Pelosi. She is an uninspiring speaker and will probably be an Uninspiring Speaker.
  • Republicans DID deserve to lose. Not so much that I would have skipped voting or voted Democrat, but this is a great opportunity for the party to remember 1994. That was a time when the party had exciting ideas and the drive to deliver on them. Today's Republicans have been a disgrace in terms of spending, failure to use their majority to work on Social Security, immigration, and abandonment of general conservative principals. Malfeasance was another major issue, and the party takes the blame for the misdeeds of the few. There's no reason to cry about it- that's the way it works.
  • This is not an embrace of liberal ideals. Arthur C. Brooks wrote an excellent piece in yesterday's WSJ where he discussed the continued march of the country to the right. This election is more about dissatisfaction with the way things are than a flight to the non-plans of the Dems.

I'll have more later.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


OpinionJournal's John Fund has a helpful breakdown of the night's election returns. You can see which races will be reported at various times. Unlike the presidential election, where a complete picture is often unavailable until late, we may have a good idea of how the Congress will look by 9 o'clock.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Further thoughts

I don't understand headlines like this, from FoxNews:

FOX News Poll: Dems Top GOP by 13 Points in Race to Control Congress

Aren't these local and state elections? What possible valid conclusions can we draw from national and regional polls, at least as it pertains to Congressional elections? I think a lot of people will be surprised tomorrow.

I might be completely wrong, but the last 3 national elections (2000, 2002, & 2004) have been proof that actual voter behavior is a mercurial thing. Instapundit agrees.

Michael Barone has some excellent analysis (READ THIS if you read anything).


On the lighter side, Eric Snider has a very funny column on the current state of political discourse.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Predicting Tuesday

So I thought I would take a moment on this election eve-eve to give some of my predictions on the mid-term Congressional elections. I was curious to find prognostication from other conservatives, to I visited the Weekly Standard. I was fairly shocked by the pessimism displayed there, but suppose that I shouldn't be. I just don't sense this enthusiasm for the Democrats that they will need to take both Houses of Congress. They don't have enough to offer.

I don't buy the results of many of the polls. I think it is too difficult to get an accurate sample of actual voter behavior. I don't think a Democratic takeover of the House is a long-shot, but its not a slam dunk either. Too many times the prognosticators have been wrong. Or to be more accurate, the pessimists have been wrong. Wrong on so many things, from the 2004 Presidential election to the direction and vitality of the economy.

John Kerry's idiocy plays in favor of the Republicans. I think many Republicans have a sense of the danger involved in ceding control of Congress to the Dems, despite their frustration with Washington politics.

Vote Republican. Why? Orson Scott Card, a long-time registered Democrat, is voting Republican, again, and it is because of the issue that matters- the War on Terror. For more on his views, read his whole column.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Did they, or didn't they?

There's been a small brouhaha about the online publication of some documents detailing Iraqi weapons programs. It seems that, lack of WMD material to the contrary, Iraq was fairly close to developing a nuclear weapon, at least in terms of know-how.

Michael Barone:

On the whole issue of WMDs in Iraq, I keep coming back to the thought that no responsible American or allied leader could assume, before March 2003, that Iraq was not developing weapons of mass destruction. It had developed and used them in the past, and it refused to cooperate with weapons inspectors. If your duty is to protect Americans, what piece of intelligence could convince you that Iraq was not developing WMDs? In my view, there was no need to continue the inspection process in 2002 and 2003, and we evidently did so to get the support of Britain and other allies.

So the NYT is mad that we published material that could help other people develop weapons, but they also criticize a war whose purpose was to remove the authors of that material. Makes you wonder whose side they're on.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

So Hot

Here is an article on Global Warming, one of my pet topics. The author, a professor at the Copenhagen Business School, is a believer in warming and also believes that it stems from human behavior. His purpose is to critique a recent study that he considers sloppy and ill-prepared, entitled the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.

Bjorn Lomberg writes:

The review is also one-sided, focusing almost exclusively on carbon-emission cuts as the solution to the problem of climate change. Mr. Stern sees increasing hurricane damage in the U.S. as a powerful argument for carbon controls. However, hurricane damage is increasing predominantly because there are more people with more goods to be damaged, settling in ever more risky habitats. Even if global warming does significantly increase the power of hurricanes, it is estimated that 95% to 98% of the increased damage will be due to demographics. The review acknowledges that simple initiatives like bracing and securing roof trusses and walls can cheaply reduce damage by more than 80%; yet its policy recommendations on expensive carbon reductions promise to cut the damages by 1% to 2% at best. That is a bad deal.

Mr. Stern is also selective, often seeming to cherry-pick statistics to fit an argument. This is demonstrated most clearly in the review's examination of the social damage costs of CO2--essentially the environmental cost of emitting each extra ton of CO2. The most well-recognized climate economist in the world is probably Yale University's William Nordhaus, whose "approach is perhaps closest in spirit to ours," according to the Stern review. Mr. Nordhaus finds that the social cost of CO2 is $2.50 per ton. Mr. Stern, however, uses a figure of $85 per ton. Picking a rate even higher than the official U.K. estimates--that have themselves been criticized for being over the top--speaks volumes.

He continues his criticism:

The Stern review's cornerstone argument for immediate and strong action now is based on the suggestion that doing nothing about climate change costs 20% of GDP now, and doing something only costs 1%. However, this argument hinges on three very problematic assumptions.

First, it assumes that if we act, we will not still have to pay. But this is not so--Mr. Stern actually tells us that his solution is "already associated with significant risks." Second, it requires the cost of action to be as cheap as he tells us--and on this front his numbers are at best overly optimistic. Third, and most importantly, it requires the cost of doing nothing to be a realistic assumption: But the 20% of GDP figure is inflated by an unrealistically pessimistic vision of the 22nd century, and by an extreme and unrealistically low discount rate. According to the background numbers in Mr. Stern's own report, climate change will cost us 0% now and 3% of GDP in 2100, a much more informative number than the 20% now and forever.
In other words: Given reasonable inputs, most cost-benefit models show that dramatic and early carbon reductions cost more than the good they do. Mr. Stern's attempt to challenge that understanding is based on a chain of unlikely assumptions.

Moreover, there is a fourth major problem in Mr. Stern's argument that has received very little attention. It seems naive to believe that the world's 192 nations can flawlessly implement Mr. Stern's multitrillion-dollar, century-long policy proposal. Will nobody try to avoid its obligations? Why would China and India even participate? And even if China got on board, would it be able to implement the policies? In 2002, China decided to cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 10%--they are now 27% higher despite SO2 being nationally a much bigger health and environmental problem than climate change.

Read the rest for more.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Soldiers to Kerry

For a hilarious follow-up to John Kerry's buffonery, check out this picture sent from some of our servicemen in Iraq:

You gotta love it.