Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The conservative intelligentsia lost...

John McCain's victory in Florida is, for all intents and purposes, a defeat for the conservative intelligentsia.

The GOP could have done far worse.

Fundamentally, this is a win for those who got tired of the ultimatums from the hard-liners. Hugh Hewitt has, I think, hit on this, albeit unintentionally.

As I discussed earlier, these attempts to impose ideological conformity have split a number of people from the GOP. AJ Strata chose to remain independent. The Anchoress is going to re-affiliate as an independent.

The conservative intelligentsia just got sent a message with a 2x4 upside the head. If they are smart, they'll make peace on immigration - and cut a deal that both they and those alighted with McCain and Martinez on the issue can live with. A visible compromise on immigration will give the GOP a chance in the 2008 election.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union...

President Bush gave his last State of the Union address last night.

Overall, you have to admit that the man has produced results. This is something that he does not get credit for, particularly from the right.

As much as it may frost some conservatives to read this, President Bush managed to get a number of conservative reforms enacted in areas like education, health care, and medical research. He did it by being willing to give a little to get the first toeholds for these reforms - and for that, he took a lot of flak from those who decided that his actions were "unprincipled". I'd like to know just what the Ingraham/Malkin/Noonan/Tancredo axis managed to accomplish over the least eight years, other than showing how a few malcontents can wreck a governing coalition over the short term.

Mitt Romney has shown a lot of the same style that President Bush did - just look at the way he handled health care in Massachusetts. He found the problem, then tailored a solution to that problem - even though some think tanks gave him a lot of grief. Again, it is your choice - you can go with a think tank or pundit who can put stuff out in a vacuum, or you can trust someone who's on the ground and who has to deal with the problem.

Hopefully, the GOP can tell off the folks who caused us some very real problems ove rthe last three years - mostly by getting in the way of common sense solutions.

Monday, January 28, 2008

One tacky board game...

It seems the Kansas governor's son has designed a board game.

OK, some people are upset, but as far as I'm concerned, this is the kind of thing you should be willing to risk if you are willing to do the crime. It comes with doing the time.

Can't do the time, don't do the crime. Simple as that.

A new destroyer christened...

The USS Dewey was christened at Pascagoula, Mississippi.

This is the 55th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The good news is that they're pretty good ships. The bad news is that we probably could use a lot more than just the 62 we are building.

We just aren't building enough.

Plenty of pitching...

The Brewers have a surplus of starters as we near spring training for the 2008 season.

It's a good spot to be in. Someone's gonna need a starter - and the Brewers can easily afford to part with Claudio Vargas... maybe for a good backup catcher.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Take a hint, Republicans...

AJ-Strata has discussed a very good post in which the Anchoress takes the GOP to the woodshed, in particular, she goes after the purists.

Her money quote:
If Ronald Reagan were alive right now, watching the GOP split into these tantrum-throwing factions (whereby “perfection” is duly defined as “pro-life, pro-gun, pro-free-market, pro-worship, pro-Bush-doctrine, pro-tax-cut, pro-ship-back-all-illegals” and then, as each less-than-perfect candidate’s failure on one or more issues is noted, each are thus deemed unworthy of the support of the pristine and uncompromising “base”) I think he’d be disgusted with the lot of you.
I know how she is feeling, although I would also be very willing to mention the way that far too many remained quiet in the face of Huckabee's Mormon-baiting.

But let's be serious, when those who dissented from the base on the Harriet Miers issue got labeled party hacks who had sold their souls, whereas those who forced her withdrawal before there were even hearings to determine if she was qualified were principled. Then there was the labeling of those who supported the President's approach on immigration as traitors on multiple occassions.

Yeah, I can't blame AJ for remaining an independent,. I really cannot blame the Anchoress for her decision to hit the loud handle.

I've been close, too. If, for no other reason than comments like this one from Redstate:
Some vocal supporters and sycophants of the Romney campaign have deluded themselves into thinking that if a voter does not like Mitt Romney, he must be anti-Mormon bigots.
Yeah, sure - let's pay no attention to that Vanderbilt study that shows that some of the reasons he cited may have just been code words. Let's ignore the fact that Huckabee's own research director said that most evangelicals would hang their hats on "flip-flop" as their reason to vote for someone else, but that the real reason would be that Romney was Mormon. And it is hard to dismiss the apparent coincidence of Huckabee's strongest showings (winning Iowa, a close second in South Carolina) coming in states where the politics of religious identity came into play. And Huckabee clearly was playing those politics.

Sorry, but if it looks like anti-Mormon bigotry and sounds like anti-Mormon bigotry, there's a good chance that such bigotry is a factor.

Maybe the bigotry is over-emphasized, but the perception of bigotry exists. That perception is not just happening vis-a-vis religion, but it also seems to end up being perceived by Hispanics in the recent debates on immigration, and that has Karl Rove worried:

HH: You’re a student of American political history. Religion has played more of a role in the Republican primary than at anytime since 1960, or even 1928. Do you think, if Romney’s not the nominee, that the LDS, which is a significant portion in some states of the Republican values base, or on the other hand, Evangelicals who are literalists, are easily brought back in if their guy isn’t on the ticket?

KR: Oh, I think so. I do think so. And I think, look, again, it’s, they’re not drawn into politics simply because of the presence of Mitt Romney as LDS, though they applaud that. They’re brought in by the fact that he’s a person of deep personal faith, who has espoused socially conservative values, and fiscally conservative values, and has a life record that they find attractive. I don’t think it is the only thing, or even the principal thing that drives a lot of LDS to vote Republican. And so you need to be worried about does it look like if, does it look like 1928? I think it did hurt the Republican Party long term, that it looked like we were anti-Catholic. And so we’ve got to make certain that we don’t look anti-anything. We need to be for something. And to the degree that that happens, depending on what, you know, if a Huckabee doesn’t win, or Romney doesn’t win, or if their supporters who are going to feel…if they feel welcomed, are going to remain and be enthusiastic in the fall, particularly given a choice between our likely nominee, whoever that is, and the Democrats’ likely nominee, whom I suspect will be Hillary Clinton.

HH: We’ve got a minute left, Karl Rove. You warned about the cliff of turning Latino-Americans against the Republican Party. Have we gone over that? Or are we dancing on it? Or have we drawn back from it?

KR: Well, we’re dancing on it. I don’t think we’ve drawn back, and I don’t think we’ve gone over the cliff. But we are, we are at a point where we’d better be very careful about this. I understand people’s deep concerns about securing our borders, and about being overwhelmed by a wave of illegal immigration, and about giving amnesty, which is the forgiveness of an offense without penalty. But we have to be very careful about not looking like we…look, we did this once before. We did this in the 1920’s when Republican congresses and a Republican president passed legislation that essentially shut the door to Jews and Italians coming into the United States. And we suffered for thirty years, forty years as Jews and Italian-Americans remembered sort of the closing of the door to people who looked and acted and thought like them, and came from the same part of the world originally in order to become Americans. We’ve got to be very careful about that.

Will the GOP take the hint? The party's future may depend on it. Folks like AJ-Strata, Anchoress, and I ought to be folks the GOP should count on for votes at least. AJ has, however, chosen to remain unaffiliated, the Anchoress is going to go back to being unaffiliated, and I have been considering it.

The GOP needs to think about its course very hard.

Suspension lifted...

Hugh Hewitt has earned his way OFF the suspension I imposed earlier.

The short version is that Hugh Hewitt has, in recent months, convinced me that he at least deserves a link from this blog. Perhaps the turning point was when he was willing to stand up and call out Huckabee over his Mormon-baiting.

Now, it remains to be seen if the rest of can do the same.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

al-Qaeda's Nemesis: The Pointy-Haired Boss

The Army's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has studied captured documents from Iraq, and has some interesting things to say. (Hat tip to Richard Saunders at Wild Turkeys.)

This paragraph jumped out at me:

"These documents tell us more about AQI than they do about Iraq," said Brian Fishman, an associate at the West Point center and co-author of its Sinjar analysis. "When you've got hundreds . . . entering the country with different skill sets and different intentions, you have to build a bureaucracy to use your resources efficiently.

(Emphasis added.)

Well, I've been working in corporate America too long, so here's my vision of a young al-Qaeda manager's annual review:

"Abdul, I see that you are not mentoring and grooming enough fedayeen to enter into management roles. Now, we are under a fatwa that requires us to engage in a broader, more inclusive search for managerial talent . . . "

"Selim, the fedayeen I recruit on Monday are going to be blowing themselves up on Wednesday! In case you missed it, I'm running the al-Anbar Martyrdom Department, and we've always had extremely high turnover, it kind of comes with the mission statement! How in the hell am I supposed to mentor some idiot from West Bumf***, Syria--who probably can't even read the Qu'ran, fer Allah's sake--when he's going to be DEAD in a couple of days?"

"Abdul, hey, I know it's frustrating, but you've got to see it from my side of the jebel. I have to keep al-Zawahiri happy. Ever since he read Deming--may that infidel dog roast slowly over a fire of goat feces--he's been going on about 'Total Quality Jihad' and 'suicide vest quality circles,' and don't get me started about how he wants 'proactive efforts to gain and leverage mindshare.' Then there's the 'Allah Akhbar' web portal project . . . I mean, the guy wants to use Java, when all the smart money is going to Ruby on Rails . . . doesn't ANYONE in the executive cave ever read the trade journals anymore? Anyway . . . look, if you find a really smart guy, could you try to talk him into applying for the management track?"

"Selim, I did that--HR shot him down for being a Alawite."

"Oh, yeah, I forgot." (Pause) "Did you find another job for him?"

"Selim, when I said 'HR shot him down,' I wasn't using a figure of speech."


And that will be the downfall of al-Qaeda and Islamism in general: they will gradually become just another sclerotic bureaucracy managed according to the buzzword du juor.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The 2008 Brewers...

OK, let's get away from politics and go to what is important.


The Brewers have a good lineup, and the future looks bright, too. The second and third items are very exciting. The first item also speaks volumes - they are looking to make the post-season and win it all.

On the one hand, it's a pain. On the other, it's nice to see the Brewers get ready to kick some serious ass this year.

State of 2008...

Ed Morrissey has a good run-down on the situation.

What is most notable is that the hard-line candidates, Huckabee (well, at least given what he is promising and his use of the politics of religious identity) and Thompson, have failed.

In other words, the GOP has spoken, and the zampolit wing has been rejected. The three left standing are all capable individuals who can serve honorably in the

That is the good news.

The bad news: There will be a heck of a fight. The purists will sit on their hands, no matter which of the three remaining are left.

The GOP will be better off without them.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The decisive battle won?

The anti-war movement has retreated from its efforts to de-fund Iraqi campaign, which might not sound like much, but this is probably a sign that the decisive battle may be decided soon.

Let's lay this out very clearly: Our troops were winning on the battlefield. The terrorists have no hope of forcing us out. Their only hope was for the anti-war movement here to force us to prematurely quit.

And the anti-war movement has failed, and in their failure, they have tied the Democrats to working for defeat. Now,they are trying to keep us from a "long-term presence" in Iraq. They are clearly in a retreat, and they will not have the votes to override a veto. Nor can they stop President Bush from making an agreement without looking like they are undercutting the troops.

George W. Bush may have just managed to win the decisive battle in the war on terror.

The Air Force's Plea...

The Air Force Magazine editorial for January is something we need to heed, and soon.

The Air Force's planes are getting old. The KC-135s are over 45 years old. Most of their air crews are younger than that. The F-15s are also old. The average age of an Air Force plane is climbing.

Two planes need urgent replacement: The KC-135s, and the C-130Es. The former could have been replaced by KC-767s long ago, but Congressional objections killed that. The latter is being replaced all-too-slowly by the new C-130J.

Congress needs to get to work. Fast. We got sidetracked earlier this decade due to the 9/11 attacks. That stuff happens. But the peace dividend is now going to cost us a lot of money to set things right. It may have already cost our military lives.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Comeback Mitt?

Mitt Romney has pulled off a comeback with his victory in Michigan.

The good news here is the failure of Huckabee's politics of religious identity.

The Democrats also have some problems. If Hillary wins, she will not only face an energized GOP, but there will also be an arguably lackadaisical turnout for her among the hard-core left.

The GOP may have a shot at the Presidency and the House. The Senate is going to be tough.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Olbermann's disgusting accusation...

Keith Olbermann is someone from whom the despicable can be expected. But his comments about the video of the Iranian harassment of our naval vessels are a new low.

It's stunning that some in this country are willing to take the word of a regime run by a Holocaust denier who has openly expressed his desire to wipe an American ally off the map over the military that protects his right to make such outrageous comments. But it should not be surprising. Olbermann's done this before, and he will do it again.

But it says a lot that Olbermann tossed his insult from the safety of his studio. I wonderifhe would have the guts to say it to Admiral Mullen's face.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Victory in sight?

The events of the last year have some people talking about victory. One of them is the President of the United States.

Money quote:
But I want to tell you what the history will say. The history will say, it was when you were called upon, you served, and the service you rendered was absolutely necessary to defeat an enemy overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) It will say loud and clear that this military, comprised of brave men and women who sacrificed on behalf of a noble cause called peace -- the men and women of this military understood that we're in an ideological struggle; that we're facing cold-blooded murderers who kill the innocent to achieve their hateful vision of a future.
This is the question. Our troops understand. But which politicians understand? Listen to those who are running for President, and think this over from now until November.

Looks like we need more Raptors...

While most F-15s are in good enough shape to keep serving, I think it's time for Congress to write Lockheed a check for at least another 100 Raptors, and probably more.

The R&D costs have already been recouped, and it's also obvious that the F-15s are aging, and arguably not well. The F-22's a good plane, and it's only $116 million per plane on fly-away costs. For a Congress that can spend billions in earmarks each year, certainly an earmark for another 100 F-22s isn't unreasonable, is it? Maybe two runs of 100 would not be a bad idea.

There ain't no such thing as too many Raptors.

I mean, if you're gonna pork, make it useful pork!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My beef with Huckabee explained...

Article 6 Blog has done perhaps the best coverage of religion as an issue in the 2008 race for President.

That is why this post from that blog is worth reading.

The scary thing is that Huckabee may very well succeed in at least knocking Mitt Romney out of the race. Unlike McCain, who has earned some big-time credentials on issues by doing things like supporting the surge when the surge wasn't cool, and backing stuff he believes in despite flak from friends and foes, or Giuliani, who has perhaps the better turn-around and crisis management track record than Romney, Mike Huckabee's not even showing that he is really capable of defending his positions. Instead, his campaign has been on the grounds he is a "Christian leader" and he has literally claimed that Romney's efforts in the past to point out his track record have been unfair.

Hmmm... I don't know about you, but I find something very suspicious about that.

I don't think it is unfair to compare job performance. It is not unfair to bring up a person's track record. But running against a guy's religion is dirty pool. Had this been a real job, rather than a political race, they would face some problems under the Civil rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.

And therein lies the reason Mike Huckabee is not going to get my vote under any circumstances. He was, for all intents and purposes, a coward. He refused to defend his track record or his positions on fiscal and foreign policy issues. He chose to instead make an issue out of Mitt Romney's religion. A man that dishonorable should not be President of the United States.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire... what it means...

Mitt Romney finished second in a clean fight in New Hampshire. In this case, McCain won independents by a wide margin (a 3:2 ratio to Romney), and that was what gave him about a five-point win. Mitt exits with an overall lead in delegates and having come off two very strong debate performances.

The independents are the real story. They apparently went over to the Dem primary in New Hampshire, after leaning Dem in Iowa as well. In New Hampshire, this was apparently by a 59-41 margin.

How big is that? Look at the 2004 exit polls. George W. Bush was just about even in the independent voters (48% to John Kerry's 49%). In 2006, the exit polls show the GOP got blown out by a 57-39 margin.

The independent voters in New Hampshire tilted the race to John McCain. The message sent to the GOP is pretty simple: In 2005-2006, you let the right go too far. They want to win the war on terror, but they do not want a hard line on immigration or most other social issues.

Will the GOP listen? They have to, if they want to win elections.

EDIT: I cannot find the 59-41 source... but I did find CNN's exit polling data for the Democratic and Republican primaries. The Democratic primary electorate had about 44% of independents. The GOP electorate came in with 34% independents.

Look at the total turnout. 279,276 people voted in the Dem primary. 228,531 voted in the GOP primary. That means about 122,760 Independents voted for one of the Dems compared to 77,690 who voted for one of the Republicans. That's a 61.2 to 38.8 blowout.

My initial recall (which I couldn't find) was optimistic.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Risks and Rewards...

Mitt Romney is in a bit of a bind.

The GOP primary electorate is bound and determined to hold a certain position on immigration. This position, though, does not seem to play well when it comes to the general election.

In essence, to secure the nomination, he may have to cripple his chances in the general.

It's not a good spot to be in. In essence, those who have demanded a hard line on immigration have now effectively ruled out John McCain, who at this point would be as much an automatic winner in the general as Rudy Giuliani, by virtue of holding Ohio (Giuliani would flip New Jersey and Pennsylvania).

What is Romney's path? Michigan might be the opening, but it is far less certain, due to the influence of the labor unions.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The type of change I want to see...

AJ-Strata has an excellent post on the changes we need in this country.

1. I want to see the country get behind our troops fully - that means supporting them until the victory is won.

2. I want to see an end to a lot of this bickering. Get some forward progress - start trying to solve the problems instead of insisting upon ideologically pure solutions.

3. I want the ugliness gone - that includes the shit Mike Huckabee pulled in Iowa (the politics of religious identity), and will probably pull in South Carolina as well.

4. I want terrorists to get their asses kicked. Hard. I want Gitmo running, and I want those terrorists talking. And I really don't care if some al-Qaeda thug gets roughed up.

5. Oh, and cutting tax rates would be nice, too.

6. Oh... and let's make sure our troops get the new gear they need, as well.

Romney coming back?

It looks like Romney had a very good weekend at both debates, coming across as the winner, despite being ganged up on in the first debate. Plus, there's the small matter of winning the Wyoming conventions.

When all is said and done, he will emerge from New Hampshire maintaining the overall lead in delegates at worst. McCain's ability to pull in independents is likely to have Mitt in second place.

Now, I do not agree with all of Mitt's positions. In fact, I share AJ's concerns about his pandering to the Tancredo wing of the GOP. But he is the best all-around candidate I have seen on the GOP side.

Mitt Romney is a lot like George W. Bush in his positions (at least aside from immigration) - but George W. Bush sucked at communicating with the American public, and it cost him in 2005 and 2006 when conservatives listened to the siren song of those who demanded ideological purity and left him hanging.

This should be a no-brainer...

The Supreme Court is going to hear the case of one Patrick Kennedy (NOT the Congressman, just to make it clear), on appeal from the Louisiana Supreme Court. If the nine justices have two neurons to rub together among them, they will uphold the lower court's ruling.

Mr. Kennedy, you see, raped his eight-year-old stepdaughter. And, after he was tried and convicted by a jury of twelve good citizens, he was given the death penalty, in accordance with the laws passed by the elected representatives of the people of the state of Louisiana. A second person, Richard Davis, was given the death sentence for a similar crime involving a 5-year-old girl.

The stakes are high, as is the matter with any Supreme Court case. I think that prosecutors should have the option to seek the death penalty in these cases.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will see things this way, so that Louisiana can carry out the sentences passed down by its courts. Might I suggest they call the GRU and ask to borrow their blast furnace?

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Dishonorable Defeat of Mitt Romney...

There really is no other word to describe the defeat of Mitt Romney in Iowa except dishonorable. When you take a look at WHY people voted Huckabee, it came down to the fact that Huckabee was "Christian" and Romney was allegedly not (never mind that the church is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Huckabee did not win Iowa on the strength of his stands on various issues (because his foreign policy and fiscal stances are closer to the Dems than to the GOP), nor his track record on social issues (because, if that were the case, one would realize that Romney not only left very little daylight between his positions and Huckabee's, but he arguably faced a major crisis in that matter). He certainly couldn't boast of accomplishments comparable to Romney's before entering political office (saving the 2002 Olympics and turning around several companies, not to mention helping to launch companies like Staples).

His victory was arguably due to his playing of the religion card against Mitt Romney. Article 6 Blog has documented a lot of this. What is most damning are the comments left on his official site's blog by his supporters. It is very telling that he could not have exercised some very basic moderation of his blog. In fact, he certainly seemed to be willing to turn a blind eye to the Mormon-baiting, as long as he won Iowa.

Equally sickening is the fact that conservatives of a certain stripe rewarded Huckabee for this. In 1994, Newt Gingrich expressed outrage when Romney was attacked by the Kennedy family over his religious beliefs. Today, there is the sound of silence from the right as this dishonorable conduct is turned on a Republican. Then again, after the Harriet Miers nomination and the right's embrace of Ramos and Compean, I find myself not so surprised.

Mike Huckabee's dishonorable tactics make it impossible for me to vote for him. Indeed, if it is a choice between Huckabee and Obama, I'll vote for Obama - because here's just no difference between the two on the big issue that matters, and because I can no longer in good conscience empower a political movement that rewards dishonorable conduct. Obama would be a mess, but at least he is honorable. something I cannot say about Huckabee.

Furthermore, Fred Thompson is also unacceptable to me unless he is willing to fire Cyndi Mosteller, who has engaged in similar Mormon-baiting against Romney. If Fred Thompson is honorable, he'll stand on his positions, and NOT resort to Mormon-baiting. Otherwise, I'll find better things to do than cast my vote for him.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

GOP says "No Mormons Need Apply"

Huckabee's lead in Iowa speaks volumes about what a significant chunk of the GOP believes, and quite frankly, it is ugly.

In essence, a candidate with a far superior resume lost because an opponent used the politics of religious identity. In essence, when he couldn't really attack Romney's record, his resume, Huckabee pretty much attacked his religion.

It's sickening. It is also a very sobering moment for me. We just saw someone who was at ground zero of the marriage debate and who stood up against human cloning and who did so in a statesmanlike manner get defeated largely because of his religion. Don't take my word for it - see Huckabee's supporters and staffers.

This is a fence that may be unmendable.

EDIT: Alexham at Redstate now demands that we be nice to Huckabee.

Sorry, but I see no reason to be nice to someone whose only message was "Vote for me because the other guy's a Mormon."

Why should I support someone who views me as a devil-worshiping cultist, Alexham? Why should I not sit out or vote for the Democrat (should Obama be the nominee)? At least Obama's not only honest, but the defeat of Huckabee may prompt the GOP to finally do something about the ugly side of certain SoCons.

And this is not just because I am a Mormon. It is because Huckabee's tactics are beneath contempt - either the First Amendment's protection for freedom of religion and Article VI of the Constitution mean something, or they do not. And it is obvious that SoCons seem to have a very selective respect for those provisions.