Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Moderate Blog from the North:If you want to know a little more about all things Canadian (which happens to be the name of another blog), you might want to check out Revolutionary Moderation, run by Don McFarlane. It's a good read and you learn a bit about Canadian society or if you are a Canadaphile like me, you get a daily dose of all the political gossip going on up North.

Here's the Beef:The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a great editorial today about the American mad cow scare. On the whole, I was pleased with the measures that the Department of Agriculture took to make our beef supply safer. However, more needs to be done. I believe Canada and Europe have a tracking system that watches where the meat is going from cow to the meat case at the local grocery store. It's time that the America does the same. We were lucky we could trace this cow, but luck only goes so far. I also think we have to find better ways of deboning cattle to ensure that no brain or spinal matter gets into the food supply. I also hope the beef industry sits down and shuts up about these new rules. A rule to prevent using "downer" cattle was in this year's Farm bill but somehow it just vanished during House-Senate conference meetings. Now that people are concerned that the Big Mac they eat could fry their brain, they will have to accept some cost.

I'm not one to give many kudos to the Bush Administration, but they acted outstandingly and swiftly in this situation. For a President that some percieve as beholden to special interests, his adminstration stepped up to the plate.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Calling all moderate Republican Youth:If you're a young Republican (college age-young professional) and want to help the moderate cause in the GOP, you might want to check out Republican Youth Majority. They are committed to developing a network of young, pro-choice, pro-environment and pro-fiscal responsible Republicans who will lead the party in the coming decades. It seems this is still growing organization and could use your help. Check it out.

Challenging Bush:This article is a bit old and the deadline for the New Hampsire primary is past, but it still makes sense. Someone need to challenge Bush if only to get him back to traditional Republican roots (if he had any in the first place). What really needs to happen is for some people to get together and form a "draft somebody" movement. Why when Bush is doing so well? Well, because this guy has made the deficit huge, trampled on civil liberties and expanded the government. How in the world is this conservative?

There is a site run by David Gosselin, a former GOP state chair in New Hamshire that is also pressing the case to have an alternative GOP challenger. If you want to help him out visit his site or e-mail him at

Sunday, December 28, 2003

From Republicans for Environmental Protection:This came the other day from REP America President, Martha Marks.

Fellow REPs,

I hate to interrupt your holiday festivities with unpleasant news, but
the Bush administration that created the lousy timing, not me.

On December 23, following a well-established pattern of making
anti-environmental announcements when few are paying attention, the
issued its new rules on logging in the Tongass National Forest, setting
terrible new precedent.

We've written in several recent Green Elephants...

a) how the Bush administration made much ado about its decision to
uphold the
popular roadless rule (which we REPs worked so hard to promote a couple
years back) but then issued a "small print" memo saying "except in the
NF", and

b) how GOP Senate leaders allowed Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens to slip a
into an Appropriations Bill making it virtually impossible for citizens
challenge road-building and logging plans in the Tongass, and

c) how the Bush administration gives in quickly and with little legal
resistence to anti-environmental lawsuits designed for that purpose by
states and

Well, now we know the full, final logging plan for the Tongass, and it
stinks. This miserable ruling --and the calculated, cynical timing of
its release--
calls for considerable outrage on the part of all of us

If you have time soon after the first of the year (when people come
back from
holiday trips and will be paying attention again), please...

Call your two senators and your congressman/woman to let them know how
feel about this. You can get to their offices through the Capitol
(202-224-3121) or <>. (Please don't sent emails...
which are
mostly ignored.)

Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111.

Call the Agriculture Dept. (which controls the US Forest Service) at

Best of all... write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper,
other people know not only about the bad decision but also its timing.
elected officials will see that letter, too!) Mention that you're a
member of
Republicans for Environmental Protection... and that you're outraged!

Below is today's New York Times editorial on the subject, plus a press
release issued Dec. 23 by environmental groups who have been watching
this situation
develop. Both contain important information that you can use.

Thanks for paying attention to this message during the holidays. The
House and Congress are hoping you won't!

And please pass this message along to anybody who might be interested.


Martha Marks, Ph.D. — President
REP America (Republicans for Environmental Protection)

You can find out about REP by going here.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Big Government Republicans:The New York Times has an interesting piece on the current make-up of the GOP. I think the Times hits the mark by saying that the GOP has abandoned things like limited government when it comes to people's lives, but they are willing to apply those principles to Big Business.

Seeing that libertarians and old-line conservatives like Chuck Hagel and John McCain are increasingly worried at the metamorphasis of the party, I wonder how that will affect the Bush campiagn. I keep hearing rumblings from people who are dismayed by the trajectory of the Republican party. Some, like your truly, are looking for alternatives like Howard Dean. Others have not indicated that they are doing anything more than worrying.

If the Dean campaign is smart, it will formulate a message to reach these disaffected conservatives. The facts are there, but they need to be placed in a clear message for conservatives to understand. While I know that someone like myself could put something together, this has to come from Dean's mouth. Ronald Reagan was able to that 20 years ago by reaching disaffected Democrats, it's time that Dean actively does the same.

Wooing NASCAR:Howard Dean was on to something when he said he wanted to be the candidates for guys with Conferate Flags on their trucks. William Schnieder talks about the effort underway by both parties to reach NASCAR Dads. I think if the Dems want to win next year, they have to find some way to reach them. Schneider says the way to do that is to show that you respect their values one of which is patriotism.


This not the Dems strongsuit. This is not to say that Democrats are unpatriotic, but they tend to be defined by the a segment of the Left that thinks that America is the evil beast that will destroy us all. I think the Dems need to develop a patriotism that speaks of honor and scarifice as opposed to the Bushies whose patriotism seems to go no deeper than an photo-op and a "join me or die" mentality. Can Dean pull that off? Maybe. He will need to, if he wants to win Southern votes.

Friday, December 26, 2003

It's here: Well, it finally hit our shores. Mad cow, that is. I don't know about you, but I haven't ate a hambuger or any beef product in days. I know the government says the meat supply is safe, but do we know where the slaughtered cow went? Are there other infected cows out there? Hopefully in a few days I can eat moo-moo again, but for now, I'm just totally freaked out.

A blogger from Canada is wondering why we American bloggers aren't talking about this. Canada's beef industry took a big hit when a cow in Alberta tested positive for mad cow and the same thing may happen here. I for one think it is a big thing. Yes, it is only one cow, so far, as opposed to thousands that were discovered in Britain in the mid-90s. But there are fears over what if any effect this could have on our food supply. It also begs some questions, like how can we better secure the food supply? What rules should we enforce? Why do we slaughter "downer" cows? I think we American bloggers need to talk about this and make sure our elected officials are talking about this as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Gotcha:I, like many people, woke up to the news that Saddam was captured. Looking at that first photo all I can say is, wow, did he really let himself go. While it is good to see this tryant brought to justice, I feel a strange unease. I'm glad to see the shouts of joy from Iraqis who lived for decades under his oppressive rule. However, I'm not certain that this will end the current insurgency against the Americans. From intial reports it looks like Saddam was not heading this guerilla war against us, he was more of a symbol. Another question is how will Saddam be tried? The Iraqi governing council wants to have Iraqis try him. Others are calling for a Hauge-style international court. I tend to favor a hybrid model of the two. Yes, Saddam hurt his own popualation, but his brutal use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in 1988 and the slaughter of Kurds and Southern Shiite Arabs in 1991 would be considered war crimes and affect all of humanity. As someone on NPR said, we need to make sure that Saddam has a fair trial in order for history to not leave any doubt for revisionists to slip in and paint Saddam as a martyr.

It will also be interesting rto see if Saddam will talk about any weapons of mass destruction. I have my doubts there are any, but at least they have the chance to know for sure. The interesting thing is that the Bush Administration seems to be making this the raison d'etre of the reason we are in Iraq. But this was about WMDs, not Saddam. Or was it? The hawks seem to have several reasons for attacking Iraq. If he doesn't say anything about WMDs or says that they were long disposed of, what does that mean?

This capture also poses questions for the anti-war camp. The hawks will say that those who opposed the war did not care about the Iraqi people who suffered under this brutal tyrant. I don't think that is the case for the most part, but it will be made and hard to refute. While I had my disagreements with them, I think the anti-war people were right to say the ends don't justify the means. Yes, we have brought down a brutal regime, but we did it by using preventive war without, at this time, any solid evidence of a threat, and by upsetting the half-century long alliance with Europe.

All in all, an extraordinary day.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Conservative Quote of the Day:

"The conservative principles par excellence are proportion and measure; self-expression through self-restraint; preservation through reform, humanism and classical balance; a fruitful nostalgia for the permanent beneath the flux; and a fruitful obsession for unbroken historic continuity. These principles together create freedom, a freedom built not on the quicksand of adolescent defiance but on the bedrock of ethics and law ... The core and fire-center of conservatism, its emotional élan, is a humanist reverence for the dignity of the individual soul. This is incompatible with fascist or Stalinist collectivism; incompatible with a purely mechanistic view of man; incompatible with a purely economic view of history."

1949 - from Conservatism Revisited by Peter Viereck.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Just wondering: There are days that I wonder if the GOP is beyond saving. With reports of bribing and forcing members to vote a certain way, the loss of the core principle of fiscal disciplne, the increasing anti-gay rhetoric and the embrace of instrusive government, all I can see is a party that has become corrputed. This doesn't mean I'm going to be a Democrat any time soon. While I agree on the ends with my fellow Democrats, I don't always agree with the means. I still adhere to fiscal disciplne and to the belief that government must stay out of certain aspects of our lives.

What if moderate Republicans finally showed some back bone and left the party? What if the remaining number of moderates in Congress walked out and stated to either form a new party or sit as independents as James Jeffords did in 2001? The only that the far right has been able to get so far is because we have allowed it. We voted for Bush in 2000 thinking he would run a moderate ship. We never really questioned Bush or forced him to uphold certain policies like the environment. Instead we took him at his word. Well, we see how far that got us.

I do wonder at time if the time is ripe to start a new center-right party. I'm not talking about a Reform style "we're not Republicans or Democrats, but we don't know who we are" party, but one based on some solid principles. In short, to be a party based on traditional Republican principles espoused by Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt. What if there were a party based on the center-right Christian Democrats most well known in Germany and Chile?

The Republicans have become synonymous with narrow-mindedness and callousness. They have dropped the conservatism of Edmund Burke and became a nationalist party more based on a southern-style "old boys" politics based on the power than it is based on principle.

It's nice to think about, but part of me thinks it is just wishful thinking. I don't think moderates have the fire in their belly to strike out on their own.

I would love to be proven wrong, though.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Pointing Fingers: I guess Raplh Nader is starting an exploratoy committee to run for President in 2004. Of course, this has many Democrats angry. They still think Nader threw the election to Bush which is true, to a point. Just read a post from yesterday's Talking Points Memo to see how angry Democrats are.

What bothers me though is Dems want to blame everybody for the outcome of the 2000 election but themselves. They blame the Supreme Court and the blame Nader. They think the election was theirs and it was taken away from them unfairly.

No it wasn't. The fact is, Gore should have won hands down and not by a whisker. Clinton was a popular president and the economy was still doing well. Gore should have won saying he would continue the Clinton legacy. Because of all the mess concerning Monicagate, he acted like he wasn't the Vice President and ignored the Clinton strategy of running in the center. The result? Gore, a Southerner, lost the South. He could not even win his home state of Tennesee. He didn't even win West Virginia, a longtime Democratic state because of his stance on guns. Gore won my state of Minnesota barely and Minnesota is as Democratic as they come. Like it or not and I don't, Bush ran a campaign that at least looked centrist and appealed to voters. The "red-meat" social conservative message was toned down and that made the GOP more acceptable to Middle America.

What it comes down to is this: the Democrats lost in 2000 because they forgot how to tailor their message to fit all Americans. The Supreme Court, Bush and Nader were only peripherals. If Gore had stuck to the Clinton program, Nader would have been an asterisk and Bush would still be governor of Texas.

If the Dems want to get the White House and Congress next year, they have to be able to describe themselves as the party with a vision for all of America and not just East and West Coast liberals. That's why I was not so bothered by Howard Dean's "guy with confederate flags on their trucks" message. He knows the Dems have forgotten the common man. The right wing in the GOP has courted these people by using wedge issues and Dean wants to bring them back with bread and butter issues.

So I say to my Democratic friends who, barring a McCain candidacy, I want in the White House in 2005: quit whining about 2000. Stop blaming everyone else and look at how to make sure you are running a campaign that reaches the common person.

MIA:Does anyone know what in the world happened to the Ripon Society? Ripon was a group that was supposed to articulate moderate Republican principles and it seems to have fallen off the face of the earth since Bush came to Washington. Their website has not been updated in about two years and when I tried to contact them about getting their magazine, I was told they would send it and they never did. Neocons would never expect such service from the Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute. We need a moderate think tank and what we get is a group that seems to not be in existence any more. Maybe this is a sad reminder of our position these days; we moderates are not excited enough to save our party from those who are streering it far away from its roots.

Plans: I'm curious to see how many people are interested in a "draft McCain" movement. If you are, could you please let me know? After seeing the site, I'm wondering if there is some groundswell of interest or not.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Reason and the Law:I've been thinking a lot today about the Dru Sjodin case. For those of you who don't know, Sjodin is a 22 year old who was abducted from a mall near Grand Forks, ND. An arrest was made last night; a convicted sex offender is now the prime suspect.

A lot of calls for vengence are taking place now even from our "enlightened" governor, Tim Pawlenty who wants to reinstate the death penalty in Minnesota. Mind you, the abduction happened in North Dakota, not Minnesota. It's not uncommon for politicians to grandstand during a tragedy, but this takes the cake. I will leave the tounge lashing the governor so deserves to my fellow Minnesotan, Jeff Fecke who did a superb job.

My thoughts are how we deal with sex offenders. While such sex crimes sadden and anger me, I think that we as a society have not really dealt with this issue. First off, I have never understood the logic of releasing level 3 sex offenders, the ones that are most likely to reoffend. As a Christian, I am guided by the belief that we are to care for each other and to love our enemies. I think we are not caring for the community if we release people who are likely to do harm to the community. Sexual predators are usually dealing with some sort of sexual addiction. If they can't control that among the general population then they should be kept away from community and also be given effective treatment.

I also think we need to give more sustained treatment to level 1 and 2 sex offenders. Since they will be out in the community, we have to find ways that they can control their illness and learn to be a productive member of society.

Now this is not coming from some starry-eyed liberal. I do believe that sex offenders are responsible for their crimes just as alcoholics who get behind the wheel of a car are responsible. I also believe that they should do time for their crime and in the cases of level 3 offenders, shoud receive life sentences. But I also know we have to deal with this issue not simply as a crime but as people who have an illness and need treatment. It's one of those places where crime and health seem to intersect.

Part of my reasoning comes from knowing a convicted sex offender. He has long since paid for his crimes and attends counseling. For the most part, he is your average joe who is devoted to his friends and attends church regularly. This man did do harm to others and rightfully paid the price, but he is also a human being, a child of God, with a problem.

I guess for me this issue has to be dealt with a mixture of good cop/bad cop. We need to be tough on the crime committed and willing to help the person who committed the crime. That is not easy. But we need to find a way to protect our communities from these people and get them the help that they need as well.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Naming Names: By now, you may have heard about how Michigan Congressman Nick Smith got the squeeze to vote for the Medicare bill in an effort that was worthy of The Sporanos. If he voted in favor, his son, who is planning to run for his seat, would receive a nice $100,000 thank you gift from business interests. If he voted no, Brad Smith would not get to Congress. Smith stuck to his guns and is now might now face consequences for having a conscience.

Since he is a dead man among the GOP heavyweights, why doesn't he name names as Tim Noah suggests? If what was done was as Noah charges, against the law then Rep. Smith needs to sing to the Justice Department. Arm twisting is common in politics, but this is out and out bribery and it needs to be stopped. Congressman Smith was brave to vote his conscience, he needs to be brave again and finger the person who tried to bribe him.

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