Monday, December 31, 2007

Air Force dust-off...

The Air Force is pitching in for the medical evacuation mission over in Afghanistan, and doing a fine job of it. Part of this is due to a lack for the rescue squadron's original mission - saving downed airmen.

The sad thing is, they are relying on aging choppers to carry out the mission. The HH-47 has been tied up in a string of protests and media battles (the KC-X aerial tanker has touched this off, too).

One wishes that people might be able to remember the admonition laid out this past August.
Sober people can debate the strengths and weaknesses of the Boeing win. We’re agnostic on the issue other than to say that it seems the Air Force picked a heavy lift helicopter for a medium lift job. Hearing the Boeing folks talk about the superior range, speed and payload of the HH-47 was kind of like hearing Boeing say the C-17 is better than the Lockheed Martin C-130…of course, they’re different aircraft in separate classes.

But it’s starting to get to the point where the debate has devolved into the arcane world of defense contracting procedure and who dotted which “i” and crossed what “t” and when. At the same time, America has hundreds of thousands of troops worldwide in combat who will need this capability and it may start getting to the point where the bickering comes at the cost of our troops’ lives.
It really doesn't get any simpler than that. The Air Force is doing its part in the war on terror. We need to back them up with the best possible equipment and plenty of it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Not an endorsement I wanted to see...

Tom Tancredo's endorsement of Mitt Romney is not a good thing for Mitt.

In essence, it means no real solution to the very real problems we have on the southern border. Instead, we get the usual BS that we have seen - we'll get a fence that will ultimately be as effective as the Maginot Line, we'll raid a bunch of fast-food joints and landscaping companies, and we will delude ourselves into thinking our borders will be secure.

Meanwhile, what it will really take will be ignored in the name of ideological purity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Time for conservatism to transform...

I'm going to join AJ-Strata in calling for a conservative transformation, and will join him in his second litmus test.
And I have a second litmus test - end the Bush bashing unless you are President and can do better. Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism is a great new model. And it has been a huge success. It avoided creating factories of embryos for the creation of spare parts - probably one of history’s most important decision points in terms of being pro-life. Abortion is bad, but it is an individual choice which is losing its luster. Government sanctioned and funded factories of embryos destined for destruction (and probably representing more human beings than those in wombs waiting to be born) would have been the proverbial pact with the devil. And George Bush avoided this path against great pressure.

His work on education (schools now get and “F” when they fail to teach), Senior Citizen health and quality of life (access to prescriptions IS lowering health care costs), taxes and the war - to name a few - have been enormous successes outshining even Reagan.

There are conservatives who seem to be meeting the challenges of today. Mitt Romney stands out in this regard, and certainly deserves better than he is getting from some quarters in the GOP. George W. Bush, for all the complaints of the commissar wing of the GOP, did the same.

When one puts upholding the tenets of an ideology paramount in solving problems, failure is sure to follow. George W. Bush and Mitt Romney both saw this, and both of them dealt with it in an appropriate manner - they use their beliefs to guide their solution, but refused to let them dictate a solution.

Ultimately, if the GOP wants to win, they'll focus on solving the problem. If they do that, it will leave the left with few options, and it will de-power the hard right at well. Both the left and the hard right are more interested in money instead of real solutions.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

AJ's hopes on the purity wars...

I hope that AJ-Strata's view of how things are going is right. The money quote is below:
And then the party will face a stark choice. It will be possible that Bush will have been vindicated in Iraq by this spring, so the Democrats will have failed to fail and Iraq will be spreading the word al-Qaeda is the great Satan (the word is getting out now). So will the party turn on its successful leader and a nominee who follows in his successful steps? A moderate candidate at the head of the ticket could entice enough moderates back from the Dems to make a 2008 a surprise year. Which groups actually wields more power in the GOP is an interesting question - one which will be answered in 2008.
That said, I wish I felt as confident as he does.

Let's face it, the GOP, at least in Virginia, has listened to the commissar wing of the conservative movement. We have seen Mitt Romney plummet to second in Iowa not due to any fault of his own, but instead on the basis of his religion (to some extent), an appeal that Huckabee is not alone in making.

Not only that, we have heard many of the self-same people who threatened to sit out over a Giuliani nomination get all hot and bothered because folks like me are willing to sit out (at the very least) if Huckabee is selected.

For folks like Alexham at RedState (whose posts I linked to), they are now receiving the very same treatment they gave to someone who was actually going pretty far to emphasize common ground and who was NOT out to pick a fight with them.

Would I go so far as Ace of Spades and vote for the Dem if Huckabee is the nominee? Dan Riehl makes some points that I can't disagree with, particularly given the fact that Huckabee would have trumped Romney's superior resume by making an issue of his religion. And that is dangerous on several levels. Government caused enough problems trying to rectify perceived economic wrongs (Microsoft case, the Great Society, and so on). Huckabee seeks to use the government to rectify perceived cultural wrongs (which is why I suspect Jim Gilchrist gave Huckabee his endorsement). At least Republicans would fight Hillary.

And to look at the Democratic candidates, I see Obama as someone who is as much a lightweight as Huckabee, albeit he is one who hasn't really played as dirty. He also seems like the type of person who will give you a fair hearing. He'd do his best, but he would be in way over his head. If he had run for governor in 2010, and gone for the Dem nod in 2016, he'd be an unstoppable juggernaut. Hillary is calculating enough to know that any perceived weakness in the War on Terror combined with a terrorist attack will doom the Democrats for a generation, and so she won't take chances there. John Edwards is perhaps the scariest, if only because he has out-and-out pandered to the 9/11 Truthers.

I'm not a Fred Thompson person, but his character in Hunt for Red October had a great line that describes the GOP's situation: "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Predator crashes...

The Air Force admitted the loss of another Predator. This follows the loss of at least one more, possibly two, late in November (the Air Force fact sheet listed two other crashes in late November).

Back in March, USA Today reported that the Air Force had lost 53 Predators out of 139 delivered. The Air Force fact sheets reports an inventory of 97. More are on the way to both the Air Force and the Army.

One hopes the Air Force and Army have some backup options in mind - because the loss rates are very reminiscent of the losses suffered by the 8th Air Force over Germany in 1943. Those were considered unsustainable.

Seems to me that it is time to think about reconnaissance versions of the F-35 and F-22.

Remaining serious...

It used to be that the GOP tended to nominate the man who would be the best President out of those who stepped forward.

This is why the Chicago Sun-Times commentary is shocking for its necessity. In 2000, George W. Bush was the best of those who stepped up. In 2008, the best would seem to be Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani.

Yet, the choice instead has boiled down to an actor who spent an eight-year sabbatical in the Senate, or a former preacher with a checkered record as governor.

One hopes the GOP primary electorate will be smart. I, for one, am disinclined to spend my time and effort to bail them out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's the resumes, stupid!

The paraphrase of James Carville in the title is probably my best explanation as to why I am becoming very disillusioned about conservatism in general.

For the Presidential nomination, assume five candidates:

Candidate A was a preacher for 12 years before starting in politics, spending three years as lieutenant governor before becoming governor in a small Southern state for ten years, where he did a so-so job and had a string of ethics complaints, and a tax burden 47% higher than ti was when he took office.

Candidate B is a naval veteran decorated for his actions while a prisoner of war who later ran for Congress before being elected to the Senate for several terms. He has not always gotten along with his party.

Candidate C had a lengthy record in business, and is responsible for the successful launch of at least one business that is a major nation-wide chain. He served one term as governor, during which he handled several hot-button issues in a statesmanlike manner, and also was able to turn a deficit into surplus without any tax increases.

Candidate D is a former prosecutor who was mayor of the nation's largest city for eight years. During that time, he presided over an incredible drop in crime, particularly the murder rate, and he also managed to cut taxes a number of times. His performance in a major crisis won rave reviews from just about everyone. His personal life is a bit touchy, and one appointee who performed very well, broke a number of ethics rules.

Candidate E is a lawyer-turned-actor who served 8 years in the Senate before returning to acting.

Which resumes would you whittle down to be your finalists? For me, the answer is very clear - C and D would be very close to the top spot, with B as the respectfully close third. A and E would not merit consideration for the job.

And yet, conservatives seem inclined to reject C and D for reasons utterly unrelated to job performance. Candidate C, it turns out, belongs to a religion that isn't considered mainstream by some. Candidate D's personal life and lack of ideological purity seem to be a problem as well. Candidate B's problems are of his own making - in disagreements with the base, he has gone out of his way to tick them off.

And so, the two weakest resumes are now in contention for the GOP nomination, push forward by conservatives who dominate the primaries. And one of the candidates with an extremely strong resume is apparently losing support because some people have made an issue of his religion (including a state co-chairman for one of the candidates, and ads run by another).

Is this supposed to fill me with confidence in conservatism?

Another dumb idea from San Francisco...

OK, we shouldn't be surprised... but San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is now proposing a soda tax.

Is there anywhere the left wants to stay out of? They're in my wallet, they're trying to get into my gun closet, they're in a tug-of-war with the hard right over what gets to decide my choice of listening... and now the left want to get into my fridge.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Isn't this still America?

The difference...

I can bet that Huckabee supporters are claiming that Mitt Romney is attacking Huckabee - and trying to make claims that there is an equivalence after Mitt went after Huckster.

Yeah, right.

Mitt Romney went after Huckabee's Kos-esque criticism of President Bush. He also compared his record on immigration. Neither compare to Huckabee's playing of the religion card.

To claim they do defies logic.

Still, some will try to defend it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Time to walk away?

At some point, things change and you need to re-think some things - like whether politics is worth sticking around with.

As Peggy Noonan points out, today's GOP would expel Ronald Reagan for insufficent ideological purity. Mitt Romney has been theologically lynched by Mike Huckabee, to the apparent approval of the GOP primary electorate. The other candidate with a superb resume, Rudy Giuliani, has been ruled out as well.

Both parties have gone insane. The GOP is pandering to a bunch of people who, in the name of some culture that they have not defined, will run the economy into the ground. Naturally, they will claim that those who oppose their views on issues like immigration or their moral crusades have sold their souls or are traitors.

The alternative is to elect a party that is singularly incompetent in national security matters and who wants to tax me into oblivion (I do hope to use my novel-writing and screenwriting as a means to make a fair amount of money).

Either way, I'm hosed. Now, what remains is to figure out what sort of political home I have left, if any. The Republican Main Street Partnership and Republican Leadership Council appear to be the best options for me at this time.

And for the first time, it becomes very likely that sitting out 2008 may be my only real option. Either that or I write my vote in.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The special elections and thoughts on immigration...

The only thing remarkable about the special elections is how much like a normal election they were.

Virginia's 1st District saw the GOP candidate outperformed by Bush's performance in 2004 by less than a percentage point. In Ohio's 5th district, Bob Latta's margin was not much different from the ones racked up in 2004 and 2006 by Bush and Paul Gillmor. It was a rounding error at most.

And here, the right claims a mandate for a hard-line immigration policy. I don't buy it. These results hold little, if any, difference from what you would have had in a normal election. so what really changed? Nothing - two strongly Republican districts sent Republicans to fill out vacancies left by Republicans who died in office. No mandate here. Not even a shift in the numbers that would have indicated something was up.

Which brings me to immigration in general, and why the GOP is making a mistake. When I see rhetoric claiming that those who sought comprehensive immigration reform were pursuing the dispossession of America, I have to wonder what is with the right. Do they really believe America can be dispossessed by gardeners, cleaning ladies, restaurant workers, and nannies, among others? That speaks of either a lack of faith in America or a raging paranoia. Either alternative is not something I want holding some of the highest offices in the land.

It does not help the cause of those at Redstate when they also imply that their opponents are motivated by sedition (and this is mild when compared to Cella's pronouncements of treason in earlier posts). To claim such is simply not true in many cases, and certainly it speaks little for their desire to compromise as well.

In essence, on immigration, we have an impasse. We cannot deport all the illegal immigrants in this country, not without major changes. There is talk of a new national ID card, and requiring proof of citizenship - in essence, we would go to an America where we could be asked, "Your papers, please."

Is that the America we want? My answer is no. In essence, we would be creating the kind of internal controls that Hillary would love for her purposes - and she would not be using them to control illegal immigration. We also see what John Edwards is willing to impose on people as well.

And looking at people like Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo, I get the sense that some on the right will be pursuing the same thing. And gladly so. They have their ideas of what America should be, and they strike me as being very willing to use the government to enforce it.

Perhaps this is why some were right - the government needs to stay out of a lot of issues. I really do not think it should be involved in whether restaurants are smoking or non-smoking, how people decide to breed dogs, whether they want to go online to put some money on a baseball or football game, or things like that. Watching the GOP Congress in late 2005 and most of 2006 was, in so many ways, embarrassing.

The House GOP took their ball and went home when they didn't get their way on the immigration issue. Then they passed a lot of bills on small issues that really didn't matter while our troops dealt with airlifters that had cracks in their wings and the housing crisis crept up on us. They then had to pile on with the left rather than point out blatant incompetence by the likes of Kathleen Blanco, who made Frank Jack Fletcher and George McClellan look like decisive leaders in a crisis.

Priorities and common sense matter. And the right cannot seem to figure that out yet.

An apology I cannot accept...

So, Mike Huckabee has apologized.

It is an apology I am not ready to accept by a long shot.

Why? Well, let's look at the basic issue: As I said Tuesday, Mitt Romney's track record and resume far surpasses that of Mike Huckabee. Romney has repeatedly taken businesses that were in trouble and turned them into success stories. He has also given us some of today's most recognizable companies via his work as a venture capitalist (Staples comes to mind). Then, he also served the public, first in turning around the 2002 Winter Olympics that were in very serious trouble, then by serving one term as governor of Massachusetts.

During his tenure as governor, he not only turned a bad fiscal situation around without tax increases, he also confronted two divisive issues of social policy in a manner that was statesmanlike and impressive. Yes, his positions have changed, but it is just as reasonable to argue that the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage and the human cloning bill were muggings that led to a change in perspective (a circumstance that has been the subject of a long-running joke among conservatives).

What has Huckabee brought to the table? Not much as governor, except for getting a rapist paroled - who then went on to commit more violent crimes. Oh, he lost 100 pounds. I'd buy a diet plan from Huckabee, but do I want him in the Oval Office? Not unless he is there to give the President an autographed copy of his book.

In terms of resumes, Romney beats Huckabee hands-down.

And fundamentally, this is the first reason why the defense offered by Joshua Trevino fails.

The second reason is tied to the first. If as Trevino postulates, Huckabee's positions on economic policy and foreign policy are defensible, then why is Huckabee not defending them against criticism? As someone who has studied theology, and thus who might be able to make a moral case for them, he should be able to do that very well. Yet, it seems we get more of the moral argument about why we should be nice to terrorists from McCain than from Huckabee. As a Southern Baptist preacher, who probably gave many sermons (which he has refused to release, leading me to wonder what Huckabee is afraid of on that count), he should be able to make the compelling case.

Huckabee has not done so. Instead, he has played the religion card, as has documented so well. What we have found out over the last two weeks certainly makes it very likely (at least in my mind) that Huckabee is behind the "push-polling" that was so controversial around Thanksgiving. I'll discuss that part later.

In essence, Huckabee did not defend his resume or track record. He instead has complained about comparisons of his track record in ads. He instead appealed for votes on the basis of his religion. His comments in the New York Times Magazine profile also leave little room to give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt.

This is why I am not willing to accept his apology. Huckabee is not sorry that Mitt Romney's religion has come under attack. He is not sorry about the consequences of the attacks, which have given him a decent lead in Iowa. He is just sorry that his Mormon-baiting is now undeniable - and his apology is an attempt to gloss over the indefensible actions of his campaign, desperate to gain momentum against a candidate with a superior resume and superior resources.

Huckabee will not get my vote in 2008. I have far better things to do with my time than to empower a two-bit religious bigot who oozes sanctimonious hypocrisy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

National Review endorses Mitt Romney...

Their editorial on the endorsement lays out the case for Mitt in very good detail, and cites the reasons why he's my top candidate, beating Rudy Giuliani out in a photo finish.

The big quote is here:
No other Republican governor had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage.
The claims of flip-flopping never really resonated - not when there is a much more plausible alternative theory to explain his shift: He got mugged. Not once, but twice.

After one such event, re-thinking would be in order. With two such muggings, the shift is not only explainable, but the presumption should be that it is genuine.

Regrettably, he is not likely to win Iowa - largely due to Mike Huckabee playing the religion card. Now, I can hear the complaints from bloggers like Joshua Trevino - who feel that the real issue is how "untrustworthy" Romney is. I beg to differ, and cite the alternative explanation I have outlined above.

I will also add one other counterpoint: By the standards that Trevino has set, Ronald Wilson Reagan's track record as governor of California would have utterly disqualified him to be the Republican nominee - because he would have been far less trustworthy based onhis track record. Reagan signed legislation that liberalized California's abortion laws. Mitt Romney's track record is far more pro-life than Reagan's was - and he fought his battles in a much more hostile political environment.

Furthermore, I will add this to the discussion: When you take religion out of the picture, Mitt Romney's track record and resume far surpasses that of Mike Huckabee. To witness his conduct during the gay marriage battle was to see a consummate statesman standing up against an imperial judiciary and a legislature that abdicated its responsibility to stand up for the people it represented. It was notable not just for what Romney did (making the case very eloquently and effectively), but for what he did not do (the demonization of opponents on this issue was conspicuously absent).

And yet, Huckabee is ahead in Iowa by a wide margin. His supporters and his ads have played up the theme that he is a "Christian leader" lately as well (again, see, which has covered this issue). Coincidence? Happenstance? I doubt it. In essence, the candidate with the superior resume will not be hired by Republican primary voters, and his religion appears to be a major reason, if not the major reason.

Rudy Giuliani's resume/track record is perhaps the only one that really rivals Romney's. It tops Romney's in one critical area for the President of the United States: Crisis management. He also has matched Romney in a number of other areas, and he has also, unlike John McCain, gone to great lengths at times to emphasize the common ground he holds with conservatives, rather than seeking to stick his thumb in their eye. His private life has been a mess, but unlike Bill Clinton, there seems to have been no effort to deny or minimize it on Rudy's part.

Either Romney or Giuliani would make a fine President - and I have sent both of them small donations (what I can afford). Hopefully, one of them will emerge victorious for the nomination, and will select the other as their running mate. It would be the strongest ticket the GOP could put together.

Giuliani's common sense...

If you want to see the type of common sense that has rarely been on display from the right on immigration, see Rudy Giuliani's comments in the Examiner today.

“Why don’t you throw out the people who are drug dealers, that are coming out of jail? And before they hit the streets, we can turn them over,” Giuliani recalled telling the INS. “We couldn’t work that out with them. They wouldn’t do it for us.

“They wouldn’t do it for us because they had, you know, some professor with a visa first, and they had two restaurant workers, and three gardeners. Now it may or may not be right for them to be here, but they’re not threatening anybody. These drug dealers are threatening people. I couldn’t get them to do that, so I had to handle the thing myself. And I handled it.”

I do not think it is unreasonable to insist that ICE have a proper sense of priorities. Drug dealers, gangsters, and terrorists must come first in trying to deport illegal immigrants (and we should be double-checking the legal immigrants to make sure that we did not get any terrorists, gang members, or drug dealers there, either.

Any detention that involves a professor, a restaurant worker, a cleaning lady, a gardener, or some kid in high school that never even knew he was here illegally until ICE took him into custody is a detention that is leaving a dangerous criminal in the United States to commit more crimes.

Who in their right mind would want that?

Rudy doesn't. I certainly believe that Mitt Romney would also be able to set priorities as well. That's why they got my donations - and why one of them will get my vote come February 5. Which is somewhat up in the air. Romney looks better all-around, but Giuliani would be a sure winner in the general election.

It's the kindof tough choice I like to have.

The Democrats want Huckabee

Why? Because according to Drudge, they think they can club him like a baby seal.

If the GOP nominates Romney or Giuliani, they win. It's as simple as that. If they nominate McCain, there is a good chance of winning.

Anyone else loses.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Screw Huckabee...

I really mean it this time.

Huckabee gave a speech at a Baptist convention. He's a Baptist preacher, so that is to be expected, so that is not why I'm pissed off.

No, it's what was passed out:
The other book was Mormonism Unmasked by R. Philip Roberts, who examines the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Mormon-baiting continues. I guess he needs to do it - after all, his track record on granting real slimeballs parole could be a killer. Or how about his tax increases?

He's just like Tancredo, albeit rather than nativism, he seems to instead prefer turning a blind eye to anti-Mormon bigotry. I find it hard to believe his staff did not know what was being handed out to reporters.

I hope that he will address this. Because if not, then the GOP could face some serious trouble down the road. Evangelical Christians alone cannot make a majority. they need allies. If they piss off their allies, will they really have any sort of chance at enacting an agenda, or are they more interested in braying about how they make "principled stands" as they get their butts handed to them?

Brewers get a whole new bullpen...

The Brewers have picked up a higher-end bullpen at the winter meetings.

Note, this was a team, that when they were putting together a bullpen with castoffs, still managed to pretty much have a game in hand when they were up after seven innings.

Don't believe me? Look over their relievers for the past decade. Bob Wickman was good enough to bring Richie Sexson to the Brewers. That ultimately gave the Brewers a bunch of good players. In essence, it was buying low and selling high.

Now, they have a contending team and have lined up a bunch of relievers who aren't castoffs. They have a lineup that can make any National League pitcher feel like a baby seal on any given day. And with pitching and offense like that, I can like with Ryan Braun at third base. Especially when it's even money whether he or Prince Fielder will lead the Brewers in homers.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Romney hits it out of the park...

Earlier this year, I outlined a few facts about Ryan Braun, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year due to his tendency to treat National League pitching like a bunch of baby seals.

Well, Ryan Braun had nothing on Mitt Romney yesterday after his "Faith in America" speech. Oh, there was Mormon-baiting from one of the usual suspects, but he got support from perhaps his biggest rival for the nomination.

It was a home run of a speech. The sad thing is that such a speech was made necessary due to the apparent playing of the religion card by Mike Huckabee, who, if you ask me, is probably behind the push-polls in Iowa (he had the most to gain from this, and his background does point to him as a suspect as well) - although, with Fred Thompson having Cyndi Mosteller as his campaign co-chair in South Carolina, he cannot be ruled out.

But Romney may have helped tamp the Huckaboom. That's not a bad thing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It looks good...

The pre-released excerpts from Mitt Romney's address today - "The Mormon Speech" if you must call it that - look very good.

If so, then Huckabee is going to be in some serious trouble. Romney will have pretty much countered the religion card, and he will have managed to make Huckabee look like a bigot if he keeps running the game plan he is currently.

It's a little early. Romney was probably planning to give this speech in response to Mormon-baiting by Hillary (and yes, I think she would do it) as the general election was being set in stone.

Oh, and sorry for the gap... I was getting a new laptop.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Make or Break for Mitt...

Mitt Romney will make or break his Presidential campaign with a speech on his religion.

If he pulls it off - he will probably emerge as the front-runner as "not Rudy" in the GOP primary.

The best reactions come from Article 6 Blog.

It does appear that Mike Huckabee played the Mormon card - and did so in an adroit fashion. He took advantage of a number of things - and not all of his gains can be undone if Romney pulls this off. At best, he has to get Huckabee to overreach on this - to openly play the religion card.

Romney is off his game a little bit. This is what decides if Romney makes it, or if we now will see a presidential candidate who has excellent qualifications will be shot down due to what amounts to religious bigotry. If Romney is shot down, then conservatism and I will part for good due to irreconcilable differences.