Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kindness of Strangers, Indeed

How to Help:

American Red Cross
ELCA Disaster Response (Lutheran)
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
Week of Compassion (Disciples of Christ)
United Jewish Appeal
Catholic Charities

Give what you can.

Update:I'm adding two more links:

Humane Society (pets need shelter too)

The Salvation Army

The Patriot Tax

Bull Moose has a great post today about the estate tax. Republicans in and out of Congress have been pressing for the permanent repeal, calling it a "death tax" and presenting sob stories of "salt of the earth" people who are getting robbed by the tax when in reality, it only hits the super rich.

The Moose, of course, thinks that now is a bad time to cut or repeal this tax:

It is now clear that Uncle Sam will have to spend billions in the rebuilding of the gulf states along with the ongoing costs of the war. Given these circumstances, it is truly inconceivable that even this Republican Congress will continue to shower more blessings on the rich. But then again, the chutzpah of the defenders of the comfortable is limitless.

I have to agree. Listen, no one likes to pay taxes, even poor slobs like me. I'm not someone who wants to "soak the rich" because they are rich. However, we are in a war. America is facing the largest natural disaster ever, with one major metro area now under water and several others in bad shape. Now is a horrible time to be caring about lowering the taxes of the richest members of society. We have needs and need money. Kinda a bad time to cut taxes, don't you think?

The Moose thinks Democrats should "frame" the estate tax as a "Patiot Tax" as opposed to the Republicans calling it the "death tax." I think this is a good idea. If you have been blessed with good fortune, then especially at this hard time, you should be willing to share a bit. True patriots sacrifice. They don't sit there are cover their own hides.

Hopefully, lawmakers are too busy dealing with the devastation on the Gulf Coast, to worry about lowering taxes for Donald Trump.

Somewhere, another Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, must be spinning in his grave.

Thanks to Charging RINO for the tip.

McCain: Fickle Friend of Gays

If one has followed this blog, then you know that I've been a follower and admirerer of John McCain. He seems like a modern incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt. He has come out against the how corrupt the GOP has become and has stood for pragmatism at a time when the Republican Party has become more ideological. He stood against the far right when he ran for President in 2000 and I was pleased to see a Republican do that. I knew that his views were more conservative than I am, but I still liked him.

And now, McCain has just stabbed me in the back.

McCain has come out in favor of a change in the Arizona constitution that would ban same sex marriages.

To say that I'm shocked, is an understatment. McCain has been a hero to gay Republicans like myself and he has a place on Log Cabin's Hall of Fame. It might be time to take him off that list.

To me, this smacks of pure politics. He's running again in 2008 and is probably fearful that the far right might attack as they did in 2000. If he thinks sacrificing gays is going to sway them, he has another thing coming. They can't stand him, and trying to shore up his far right bona fides ain't going to change things.

I have no idea why he is doing this, especially at a time when a growing number of Republicans, like Christie Todd Whitman and John Danforth, are calling for a more tolerant GOP.

This is a slap in the face to all gay Republicans who have supported McCain. I was all ready to support him in 2008, but I'm now going to have to rethink that. I would counsel all fair-minded Republicans to do the same and let McCain know that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The End is Near! (Hallelujah!)

If you're like me, you've probably had it up to hear with the politics of polarization. You are tired of the Cindy Sheehan-Michael, Bush-hating Left and the Rush Limbaugh-Ann Coulter-Pat Roberston Right.

Well, things might be changing. Bull Moose notes that 2008 might just be the year of the centrists in the way 2004 was the year of the extremists. He cites a column by US News writer Michael Barone that shows that the leading contenders for the prez nod in 2008, John McCain and Rudy Guliani, are "men of the center" as the Moose calls them. Even among Dems, Hillary Clinton is doing what she can to steer clear of the far left and proposing centrist proposals.

It is interesting that at least at this time, are no strong contenders on the far right. Bill Frist is fast becoming a joke and the others are not well known. John Kerry seems to be staging another run, but I think the public already thinks he had his chance.

So maybe in 2008 we will actually have substantive discussion on the issues instead of what someone did in Vietnam 30 years ago. Let's hope the end of polarization is near, indeed.


As we hear reports of the death and destruction taking place in South as a result of Hurrican Katrina, you'd think everyone would be touched by the saddness. Well, not everyone.

Shay, over at Dean's World by Donkelphant think that he shouldn't have his hard-earned money go to help silly people:

Two things. One, all the calls for federal government dependency. Various officials are on television calling for government aid and help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This may sound callous, but I don’t believe that it is the job of the federal government - ahem, taxpayers across the country - to subsidize folks in certain states who are stupid enough to continually build in locales where Nature clearly does not want folks to build. Especially when they earn more money than I do. If they choose to do so, then they should reap the full monetary consequences of doing so.

Hmmm. So, according to Shay, we might has well not help the whole state of Flordia which is hurricane prone, and most of California since it is was so stupid for people to live in an area prone to earthquakes and the occasional tsunami. Let them pay for their losses, since they were foolish to live there in the first place.

As Donkelphant notes, Shay's arguments are well grounded in ideology and in most cases I would agree that there are certain things government shouldn't get involved in. BUt there is no way charities could solve all the problems, and on a more moral level, it is incredibly heartless and Shay should be ashamed. He might be correct on ideological grounds, but he is sorely lacking in compassion.

How insulting and callous.

John Roberts: Woman-Hater?

Cathy Young over at Reason Magazine, has a great column about recent revelations about Supreme Court nomineed John Roberts regarding his views on women. It's revealing. A lot of the stories I've read paint Roberts as hating women and wanting to pay women less. But it seems that Roberts was against was "comparable worth" an idea that was bandied about in the late 80s that I thought was a horrible idea. Instead of "equal pay for equal work" which is something only an idiot would oppose, comparable worth would try to eqaulize wages in industries that tend to be dominated by one gender or another. So you would try to eqaulize say a waitress with that of a truck driver. This is hardly equal pay for equal work and it would lead to giving the government a huge role in the economy.

It's been interesting to see how feminist and even some gay establishments have decided that Roberts is a danger to women and gays before we even have a hearing. I am NOT suggesting we give Roberts a pass. We need to know what he thinks on major issues. However, it is wrong to go after Roberts because of something he said 20 years ago. I want to know what he thinks today.

I have no idea if Roberts is going to be a champion for female equality. I would hope so. But let's listen to the hearings before we assume the worst.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dialogue or Diatribe?

When we first started seeing the image of Cindy Sheehan setting up camp in Texas sun, like many other Americans, went out to her. Her was a grieving mother who was just wanting to talk to the President. It sounded so innocent that you couldn't help but agree. People felt inclined not to criticize her, and those who did were considered callous. Maybe her vigil would open a much needed debate into how we should be conducting this war and when to pull out.

And then Ms. Sheehan started opening her mouth.

The more that you hear from the California woman, the more shrill she sounds. She talks about having the President "listen" to her and then calls the man a murderer and a terrorist. She says the President killed her son forgetting that her son chose to be in the Army and put himself in harm's way.

Just before Ms. Sheehan headed to Crawford, she addressed the

Veterans for Peace at a meeting in Dallas. It's an interesting portrait of what Ms. Sheehan thinks. Here are a few excerpts:

But do you guys remember back in March when we were having our 2nd year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq which was pre-empted by Terry Schiavo, so that's all that was on the news, not 5,000 of us in Fayetteville, Wolf Blitzer said it was insignificant, but they put Terry Schiavo on, and I wrote something then called The Amazing Hypocrites and I asked why does she deserve life more than my son, and the Iraqi people? And more than the other people that this war has killed.

But do you think George Bush will interrupt his vacation and go visit the families of those 20 marines that have died in Ohio this week? No, because he doesn't care, he doesn't have a heart. That's not enough to stop his little playing cowboy' game in Crawford for 5 weeks.

Doesn't sound like a woman that wants to "talk" to the President.

So, as many of you have heard, and I didn't mean to cause any problems with the convention, but I was writing an email to everybody, and I was so mad, like I said, and I just had this brainstorm, I'm going to Dallas, I don't know where Crawford is. I've been in Texas, Casey was stationed at Fort Hood. I drove from northern California to Fort Hood one time, it took like, 30 hours. And I thought, I could be driving for days to get from Dallas to Crawford!

But I don't care, I'm goin'. And I'm gonna tell them, "You get that evil maniac out here, cuz a Gold Star Mother, somebody who's blood is on his hands, has some questions for him."

And I'm gonna say, "OK, listen here, George. #1, you quit, and I demand, every time you get out there and say you're going to continue the killing in Iraq to honor the fallen heroes by continuing the mission; you say, except Casey Sheehan.'"

"And you say except for all the members of Goldstar Families for Peace' cuz we think not one drop of blood should be spilled in our families' names. You quit doing that. You don't have my permission."

And I'm gonna say, "And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for." And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy' I'm gonna say, bullshit.

You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me that, you don't tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.'

Cuz, we're not freer. You're taking away our freedoms. The Iraqi people aren't freer, they're much worse off than before you meddled in their country.

You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine.

If this was for oil, I don't think we'd all be paying close to $3 a gallon.

Sheehan presented herself as a mainstream Mom, but in reality, she is part of the far left that has as disturbing a world view as the far right.

We need a good discussion about how to deal with Iraq, but Ms. Sheehan's remarks do nothing to move this discussion forward. The scene in Crawford with Ms. Sheehan and her supporters on one side and Bush supporters on the other is just more of the same: the extremes yelling at each other and not coming up with any ideas to solve this problem.

Ms. Sheehan could have helped us all talk about how we can help Iraq and also set a time table for a withdrawl. We are not having that discussion right now. I want that discussion. Instead, she has joined the voices of the shrill. You lost me, Ms. Sheehan and maybe many others.

Charging RINO has an excellent post on the same topic.

Broken Window-Iraq

I've been watching news reports most of the day concerning Hurricane Katrina as it blows through New Orleans. I have a cousin that lives there (and hopefully got the heck out of there). It looks like they dodged the big bullet since the storm didn't directly hit the city, but they did get brusied, since there is extensive damage. Pray for those who are dealing with this.

In other news, Bull Moose has a great piece about how the political Right is splintering over Iraq.

My own opinion on Iraq is well known, but I feel that the centrist position, if there is one, is not being heard in this ongoing debate. The extremes have rather myopic views that I don't believe are very helpful. The Left for the most part, wants to troops to leave ASAP. Some believe that maybe the Iraqis would get their act together after the US troops leave. However, I don't know if one would want to base foriegn policy on a hope. We made a mistake on basing the invasion on some vague hope that things would turn out okay, I don't think we should do that again. This is a nation with a still weak government, that could easily collapse and the nation is filled with former scientists who were part of Saddam's WMD program. Leaving right away is folly. But the Right offers no better idea. The President wants to stay the course until Iraq can stand on its own. This is also folly, because it gives no timetable, no goal. Is the Administration and its supporters willing to sacrifice more troops without any plan as to how and when to get out? Granted, the number of dead is no where near what it was in Vietnam, but I don't think we should wait until it gets that high, do you?

The Left doesn't seem to take into account of the 25 million Iraqis who would be affected by our pulling out. The Right seems unconcerned with the nearly 2000 US troops that have died so far and how to reduce the body count. I think we need to stay, but we need to have a plan as to how and when to draw down troops and when to hand things over to the Iraqis. Maybe a year is to soon, but we need to get an idea as to how long it would take. We have to do something in Iraq that will give the nation a chance at a good future, and will also do good for our troops by minizing casualities.

Will such an idea be heeded? One can hope.

By the way, there was an excellent discussion on NPR's Hear and Now.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

2008 Straw Poll

Feel like sharing your GOP Choice for President come 2008? Then place your vote at Patrick Ruffini's Straw Poll. They track by blog, so I would like to see the Moderate Republican have a good showing. Vote!

John McCain is a Conservative. And the Sun in a Big Hot Star in the Sky.

Michael Stickings over at the Reaction comments on Arizona Senator John McCain's second bid for the White House in 2008. In an article by the Arizona Republic, McCain agrees with the President that Intelligent Design should be taught along side evolution in public schools. Now, that's not something I agree with, but I still think that McCain on the whole would be better for the GOP than Bush. For Stickings, it's proof that McCain is...gasp, a conservative:

I've always liked McCain a great deal. But may I mention that in recent days he has come out in support of the teaching of so-called intelligent design alongside evolution? And that's but one example of the ideological conservatism behind his cross-partisan cult of personality. Sure, he's a maverick -- and even, on some issues, a moderate -- but his conservative credentials are undeniable.

Ideological conservatism? McCain has never said he was a moderate, but he is hardly in the same boat with say, Rick Santorum.

McCain is a conservative Republican. Unlike Michael, I don't think that should be a crime. What is more important to me is if his conservatism is doctrinare or a guilding light. Is he open to new ideas or close minded? If I look at McCain in that light, then I would say he is not ideological but pragmatic. Yes, I disagree with his stance on intelligent design and I hope a few people tell him that this is sham science. But unlike Stickings, I'm not looking for the one or two items that can discredit him, but I'm looking at his whole record which I think is far and away better than Bush's.

Being a conservative shouldn't be a crime. McCain has proven that he is a reformer, a conservative reformer, but a reformer nonetheless and that's what's important to me.

I guess Stickings statement says more about him than it does about the Senator from Arizona.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Federalism In Action

The New York Times reports that nine Northeastern States have come to an agreement to cap powerplant emissions and then reduce them 10 percent by 2020. This action come in the wake of the White House refusing to regulate greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. Leading this charge is the Republican governor and 2008 GOP hopeful, George Pataki of New York.

As I said in a previous post, it seems that we will have to rely on the states to come up with substatial change on issues like oil dependency. With the White House still douting that global warming even exists, it is up to local Republicans to come up with solutions to deal with this potential threat. Kudos to Pataki for taking leadership in an area where Republicans in Washington fear to tread.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"When You Drive an SUV, You Drive with Osama"

Last night, I went to get gas. It cost me $31 to fill up my tank. Now, this isn't the dent in my wallet that it could be since I own a Volkwagen Jetta with a diesel engine that gets about 38mpg. I also take the bus to work, which means, I don't fill up that much. So, if it cost me $30 to fill my small car, you have to wonder how much it cost for those poor suckers who own an SUV.

Andrew Sullivan has a worthy post about how SUVs and their big thirst for oil can acutally fuel terrorism. his jumping off point is a worthy column by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria about how rising oil prices don't only hurt the American economy, but also can fuel policies that can end up hurting the US. Zakaria notes:

"Over the last three decades, Islamic extremism and violence have been funded from two countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, not coincidentally the world's first and second largest oil exporters. Both countries are now awash in money and, no matter what the controls, some of this cash is surely getting to unsavory groups and individuals."

He notes how petrodollars has cursed Russia's burgeoning democracy and also fueling Hugo Chavez's militant anti-American movement in North America. Zakaria makes the case that without the oil Russian President Vladamir Putin wouldn't be placing a straglehold on democracy and Chavez would not be the benevolent revoluntionary he styles himself to be.

What's the answer? We need to go on diet:

"It's true that there is no silver bullet that will entirely solve America's energy problem, but there is one that goes a long way: more-efficient cars. If American cars averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would soon reduce consumption by 2 million to 3 million barrels of oil a day. That could translate into a sustained price drop of more than $20 a barrel. And getting cars to be that efficient is easy. For the most powerful study that explains how, read "Winning the Oil Endgame" by energy expert Amory Lovins (or go to I would start by raising fuel-efficiency standards, providing incentives for hybrids and making gasoline somewhat more expensive (yes, that means raising taxes). Of course, the energy bill recently passed by Congress does none of these things."

No, they didn't. Congress and the President are still in the clutches of Big Oil as well as the Big Three auto manufactuerers who don't want to see a tightening of the fuel standards.

Sullivan basically repeats what Zakaria says, but better. Oh, how Mr. Sullivan loathes SUVs:

"My anti-SUV ire always goes up in the summer, when I see these vast, bloated symbols of excess bulldozing down the narrow streets of Provincetown, pushing every bicyclist, pedestrian or small child out of their way. My only solace is thinking of how many of these SUV owners are pouring money away to keep their mobile homes on the road. Pity that same money goes to finance Islamist terror. And please don't give me all this guff about how I don't have a car (hey, I'm not indirectly donating to al Qaeda), having to take kids here, there and everywhere, with all their stuff and the dogs and suburbs and soccer practices and on and on. All of this took place before SUVs; kids were just packed into back seats and trunks were stuffed full if necessary. Parents coped. Kids thrived. If all else failed, people could even have less stuff. Imagine that: less stuff. As readers know, I'd gladly put a dollar of extra tax on gas, insist on higher fuel standards for cars, make SUVs comply with the fuel standards of other cars and put a tax on SUVs on top pf all that. We are in a war. As far as I'm concerned, those people driving SUVs are aiding and abetting the enemy, and helping to finance the terrorists that want to kill us all. I'm well aware that the notion that the Bush administration has any interest in energy independence or taxing gas or deterring SUVs is about as likely as their demanding subsidies for sex-changes, but I might as well vent. We can always stigmatize these SUV-terror-enablers. How about bumper-stickers for non-SUVs that simply say: my car doesn't subsidize Saudi terror. Would that help?"

People are lulled to believe that SUVs are safer than smaller cars and so seem willing to pay a huge amount to fuel these monsters to go to the store or the local Starbucks. Nevermind that cars are way more safer than they were thirty years ago. (As I've said before, my car has eight airbags.) The President talks a good talk about sticking it to the terrorists before they get us, about weening America off its oil habit? If these countries lose their biggest customer, watch them change their tune. They don't do anything now because we're hooked. We need more and more oil and they are there to supply it to us.

America needs to really become more independent from oil and conserve more. But don't expect it to happen now. The President won't do it and most of the GOP thinks that drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Range will solve all our problems.

I think it's time for the American public to demand change. Tom Friedman suggested pushing for disinvestment of companies like GM that produces the mammoth HUmmer and I agree. We also need to persuade our family and friends from buying these machines. States need to consider taxing gas guzzlers and giving incentives to cars that conserve such as hybrids.

This is not just some tree-hugging environmental issue. This is about national security. If you want to see America safe and secure, do your part and forget about waiting for Washington.

Update: Jeremy at Charging RINO has a great companion piece on this topic relating to the White House's new fuel efficiency standards.

Iraqi Nightmare Part One

Michael Totten notes that the draft of the Iraqi Constitution, is not in the same vein of say, the American Consitution or the Magna Carta. No, think more like Iran. Here is what Michael has to say:

There is no silver lining here, no “bright side” to look on. It’s bad news, period. At least it’s a draft. Iraqis have yet to accept or reject it. (Some Sunni Arabs are also threatening a general uprising over the issue of federalism, so it doesn’t look like the draft of this constitution is going anywhere just yet.)
Here’s the thing about Islamism: to some people it looks great on paper. It’s a real bitch when it’s put into practice. Just ask the Iranians. They know from experience what it’s actually like. The problem in Iran is that Iranians learned this the hard way too late. The Guardian Council holds all the real power. Liberals and moderates are shut out completely and violently.

Roger Hardy of the BBC has a chilling story about how Iraq, which was a secular state under Saddam, might become an Islamic Republic ala its neighbor, Iran. He states that the proposed constitution has cited Islam as the "main source" of law and that no leiglation can contradict Islamic law.

He notes that secular minded Iraqis -be they Shia or Sunni are worried where the country is going. Hardy says:

At the same time, secular-minded Iraqis - whether Sunni, Shia or Kurd - are deeply concerned about the direction the country is taking.

In many ways, Iraq is already dramatically different from the place it was just a few years ago.

Mixed marriages between Sunni and Shia, once taken for granted, are becoming problematic.

In many parts of the country, women dare not walk bare-headed in the street.

And reports from parts of the lawless north-west paint a grim picture of Taliban-style rule by radical Sunni militants.

He goes on to note that Iraqi watchers in nearby countries think this decentralized-confessional Iraq could end up like Lebanon in the 70s and 80s.

The President has stated that a democratic Iraq would be a model to the region. Many people, myself included, had hoped that maybe, just maybe he could make it happen. It would have been wonderful to see a strong Arab democratic state in that region. But, like everything about this war, the President and his adminsitration have planned this poorly. We hoped for at least another Turkey and might instead get an Iran, Afghanistan or Lebanon. Or maybe all three.

What would have happened if the Adminstration sent in tons of lawyers in the early days of the war and provided the country with a provisional constitution ala Japan after WWII? Instead, we have unleased a pandora's box of religious extremism that might end up coming to haunt us. As usual, this Administation is living a dreamland thinking that things will just work out. It is, but not as planned.

I still think pulling out immediately is a bad idea, but allowing for an Iran-style "democracy" is just as bad as leaving Iraq to the insurgents.

Christians Behaving Badly Watch

Should assasination become part of US foreign policy? Pat Robertston seems to think so:

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability..We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator...It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it..It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Now, I'm not a fan of Hugo Chavez. I think he is a demogogue that dresses up in democratic clothing. But the Venezuelan people did vote for him and that has to stand. Chavez already thinks we are looking to bump him off, we don't need some nutjob like Robertson trying to play to Chavez's assasination fantasies.

My question is this: why do people even listen to Roberston?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Quick Reads

It's getting close to bedtime, but I wanted to let you know of some interesting articles I've come accross lately:

Reason Magazine's Ron Bailey concocts an alternate history and future of the Iraq invation and aftermath, that shows how inept the Adminstration has been in handling Iraq.

Republican Senator and Vietnam Veteran Chuck Hagel believes Iraq is starting to look like Vietnam.

More views tomorrow. Good night.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Over the Line?

So, is Cindy Sheehan's protest outside the Bush ranch going to win the hearts and minds of the great American Middle?

Not with these comments:

COOPER: Cindy, I was reading some of the essays that you've been writing about the war over the last couple of months. In one you say the war is blatant genocide and you go on to say, and I quote, "Casey was killed in the global war of terrorism waged on the world and its own citizen by the biggest terrorist outfit in the world, George and his destructive Neo-con cabal." Do you really believe the president of the United States is the biggest terrorist in the world?

SHEEHAN: I believe that he's responsible for the needless and senseless deaths of more people than any other organization right now. There was 3,000 people killed on September 11th, which was a tragic day. Our nation still mourned it. I still mourn for those people and their families. But tens of thousands of innocent people are dead in Iraq, Anderson, and there was no reason for the war. The war was based on lies and we know that now.

COOPER: But when you say that the president, I mean you're essentially saying the president is a terrorist. I mean I think a lot of people would hear that and think what are you talking about?

SHEEHAN: Well, you know, I've heard a lot of -- a lot of definitions of that and it's the definition they kill innocent people, you know, and his policies are responsible for killing innocent people and I say the organization is killing innocent people and it needs to stop.

We know that he said there was weapons of mass destruction and we know he knows that there weren't. There was no link between al Qaeda and Saddam and we know he knows that there wasn't, so we need to stop the killing now and I'm here to confront him.

COOPER: You said that it's blatant genocide. I mean you really think the United States is trying to eliminate an entire group of people, all Iraqis?

SHEEHAN: There's 100 -- there's an estimate 100,000 to 200,000 innocent Iraqis dead because of our occupation, either by bullets and bombs or by disease, malnutrition and he says we're doing it for the Iraqi people. How many do we have to kill before we convince them that what we're doing is right over there?
From Anderson Cooper's 360.

Now it's one thing to say that the President has botched this war, or that he was wrong to go to war in the first place. I say that all the time. But it is a whole different thing to say that the President is a terrorist, that kills innocent people. I wouldn't doubt that there has been some deaths that can bve attributed to Americans, and we all know about Abu Gharib. But, what the insurgecy has done is far worse. They have sought to kill innocents. And the people behind the New York, Madrid and London bombings sought to kill innocents and kill as many as they can. These are terrorists, not the President.

As for genocide, again, I see no evidence. I haven't heard of deliberate killings such as what is going on in Darfur or what happened in Rwanda or Bosnia.

These comments sound like comments made by some on the far left which are so ridiculous that they aren't worth debating.

I want to believe that Ms. Sheehan is being manipulated by the far left. I don't want to believe she true believes this. Either way, this will not connect with Middle America, who might be fed up with the war, but don't think that Bush is the greatest evil the world has ever known.

I don't think this was a necessary war. With that, I can agree with Ms. Sheehan. But I can't agree that this President, as much as I disagree with him, is a terrorist that is perpetrating genocide. To do so, would be morally suspect in my view.

Talk to Arlen Specter!

Republican Senator Arlen Specter will host an online discussion on August 29th, sponsored by the moderate GOP group, It's My Party Too. Specter is head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will oversee the hearings on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. To send a question to Senator Specter, you can register here.

William Weld for Governor....of New York

The New York Times is reporting that William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts is planning to run again for governor, this time in New York, the state of his birth and the state he has been a resident of since 2000.

I was hoping Weld would take another stab at being governor and I'm happy at the announcement. While his candidacy will upset some more conservative folk, the Empire state is more suited to a more moderate Republican than the brand of Republicanism being bandied about in the Midwest and South. We need more pro-gay rights and pro-environment Republicans out there as leaders and Weld is that man.

Trouble in the Heartland or the "Walter Cronkite Effect"

Jeremy over at Charging RINO takes a good view at what constituents in Nebraska are telling Republican Senator and 2008 hopeful Chuck Hagel about the situtation in Iraq. Look at what some Nebraskans are saying:

Earlier the same day in Lincoln, an elderly woman asked about Iraq. "Why are we there in the first place?" she asked.

On Tuesday in the central Nebraska town of Lexington, after a meeting with law enforcement officials on drug problems, three sheriffs expressed serious doubts about what the United States was doing in Iraq and whether it could succeed.

Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, acknowledged the U.S. military presence was becoming harder and harder to justify. He believes Iraq faces a serious danger of civil war that would threaten Middle East stability, and said there is little Washington can do to avert this.

"We are seen as occupiers, we are targets. We have got to get out. I don't think we can sustain our current policy, nor do I think we should," he said at one stop.

The article goes on to interview Hagel on his own views which are ones of questioning the Bush Adminstration's policy in Iraq.

This was before my time, but it has been told that sometime in the late 60s as the Vietnam War was at its peak, CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite denounced the war as a big mistake. President Lyndon Johnson, upon hearing a former staunch supporter , tun against the war is rumored to have said that the war was now lost.

Nebraska is as "red" a state as one can get. It is a solid Republican state. One has to wonder if a state as loyal to the GOP if this wavering on the current war in Iraq could have the same effect as Walter Cronkite's change of heart nearly four decades ago.

While I can't prognosticate on that, it does seem that the constant stream of bad news from Iraq could sour prospects for the GOP next year, during midterm elections.

An article in Thursday's New York Times shows it could be rought sailing for the GOP. The Times talked to a few members of Congress, and here is what they have to say:

"There is just no enthusiasm for this war," said Representative John J. Duncan Jr., a Tennessee Republican who opposes the war. "Nobody is happy about it. It certainly is not going to help Republican candidates, I can tell you that much."

Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Maryland Republican who originally supported the war but has since turned against it, said he had encountered "a lot of Republicans grousing about the situation as a whole and how they have to respond to a lot of questions back home."

"I have been to a lot of funerals," Mr. Gilchrest said.

Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican who initially supported the war but has begun calling for a pullout, said, "If your poll numbers are dropping over an issue, and this issue being the war, than obviously there is a message there - no question about it."

"If we are having this conversation a year from now," Mr. Jones added, "the chances are extremely good that this will be unfavorable" for the Republicans.

Of course, the elections are still over a year away and anything could happen. However, the recent near victory of an Iraqi War Veteran in an Ohio congressional special election in what was thought to be a solidly Republican districts shows there is a bad feeling among the public on this war and unless the Amdnistration can come up with some solid objectives and goals towards getting the job done and getting out, could spell trouble in the future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Cindy Sheehan

If you're expecting a post saying that Ms. Sheehan is a nutjob, you might want to skip this post. If you are expecting me to show her as a saint, same advice.

I really don't know what to make of Ms. Sheehan. On the one hand, we see a grieiving mother who has been stirred to some activism. On the other hand, I'm confused about how she can in one article say that she had a fairly good meeting with the President last year, and another one of the same event that was less charitible.

Chris Battles has a critical look at Sheehan that I don't agree with on the whole. While I don't agree with her viewpoint of an immediate pullout, she does have a right to protest like any American should. Here is the money quote from Chris:

The problem with this woman is that she is basically a misquided lunatic. From allegations that her son died for a "Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel" from her real reason for 9/11, that the "Arab-Muslims who attacked us hate our middle-eastern foreign policy," this lady proves repeatedly that she is no more in-tune with the issues than the tent she's sleeping in. And, true to form, the liberal media is giving her all the face time they can, including appearances on CNN's 'Hardball' and '360 With Anderson Cooper'. To Cooper's credit, he did catch her in a lie when she tried to deny the Israel statement, even though the letter that contains it included her signature. Despite her family's plea to leave, her husband, who is divorcing her in part because of her antics, and the angry words of President Bush's neighbors, Sheehan is refusing to leave or shut up. Lately she has become more radical, calling for the impeachment of the president and refusing to pay taxes until she gets her son back.

Here's my take (is it such a mystery?): Someone needs to call the men in the white van and the coats and take care of this lady. Rather than make sweeping generalizations about her state of mind, however, I'd like to refute some of her ridiculous arguments.

He also calls for the IRS to lock Ms. Sheehan up for not paying taxes.

There are a few things that I have to note here. I think it is wrong to say that a mother who lost her son as a lunatic. I don't know what her motives are. I don't agree with her viewpoint, but to say that she is crazy isn't fair.

I also think it is a leap of logic to assume that her foray into the ant-war movement is what caused her divorce. I have no idea what caused it, but losing a child could have something to do with it, not necessarily her politics. John Cole says it much better.

With some on the right demonizing her for daring to question the war, the left has made her a saint. I don't think either is right or even correct. Again, I don't know what to think. I do think both sides are using her.

As for the President meeting with her? Well even if he did, it wouldn't probably change her mind, but I still think he should. Since I have some experience with public relations, I know that it makes sense to handle public relation crises head on instead of ignoring them. The best way to defuse a situation is to face it. I doubt any minds would be changed, but it would show that the President cares and might defuse the anti-war left. I doubt the President will do that, since he has a penchant for not listening to any other viewpoints.

I for one don't buy the whole "let's pull out now" talk. Such a move would be disastrous. And yes some of her words border on weird conspiracy theories. But I do think we need to let her speak, even if her views seem beyond the pale because she is a grieiving mother. People who have expereinced some kind of loss sometime say things that make no sense. We've all seen how families react when they confront someone who murdered a love one. Sometimes what they say makes no sense. But we need to hear them because we need to hear what they lost. It's for that reason we need to hear Ms. Sheehan. While there are a lot of questions, one thing I can't question is the pain she feels about losing her son in a war she didn't agree with. She has a right to express her pain even if I don't agree with it because she is the one who has lost something precious to her.

I wish everyone , both on the left and the right, would just leave this woman alone.

Judge Roberts: The Sphinx

Slate has an excellent article today on how John Roberts is probably not the candidate of the right wing. Dalia Lithwick has also has a good view of some recent decision that could cause some concern.

Again, we need to wait until the confirmation hearings, but it does make you think that this guy isn't going to be that bad. Roberts seems more and more like a riddle to me. What does he think? How would he execute justice? I guess we will find out in the hearings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

From the "I Kid You Not" Department

How far would you go to save your son from the "evils" of homosexuality? I guess as far as jail.

Dan Savage, who filled in for Andrew Sullivan last week, shared some interesting information found on Dr. James Dobson's website. He includes some information from a Dr. Joseph Nicolosi and it goes a little like this:

Meanwhile, the boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.

So let me get this straight (no pun intended): if you shower with your son and show him your wang, that will make him straight?

I really can't believe Dr. Dobson is basically supporting having grown men shower with their sons. I mean, aren't there some laws against this?

You can look at this and laugh, but there is also something sad about this. These people are so afraid of homosexuality that they will go to any length, like being accused of sexual molestation, to protect their kid.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Comment of the Day

Someone from Ohio responded to my earlier post about Reform Ohio Now and gave a good response as to why so few Republicans might be part of this process.

You're correct that the Ohio group is comprised of Dems and left-leaning groups, but not for lack of trying to reach across the aisle. It is truly a nonpartisan issue, or at least should be approached that way by both sides. The problem in Ohio is that the GOP has controlled the politics in the state for, what, about thirty years, and they are NOT inclined to change the method for redistricting that could in any way dilute their powerbase. The more noncompetitive the districts, the happier they are. They are fighting tooth and nail against Reform Ohio Now. But the reason that Reform Ohio Now's initiative will be placed on the ballot is because over 550,000 Ohioans are tired of the corruption, and the only way to get the crooks out of power is to change the makeup of the districts. Could any reasonable individual for one second believe that if the Republicans in power in Columbus and D.C. were serving their Ohio constituents as they deserve to be served Reform Ohio Now could have signed up over 200,000 voters more than they needed to get the initiative on the ballot? What their success tells me is that the voters in Ohio are fed up and refuse to sit back any longer while more corrupted politicians rape and pillage the state's treasury.

It is a nationwide movement. It will eventually affect both Dem and GOP districts so that Republican voters in Dem-locked districts will have a chance to elect Republicans and vice versa. That doesn't bother me one bit, even though I am a Green. We absolutely need both progressives and conservatives to make our government work at all levels; the evidence is plainly in front of our faces as to what happens when one ideology controls all branches of government. We get an agenda that is heavily weighted toward corporate interests at the expense of working men and women and families. We get pork-heavy transportation and energy bills instead of affordable healthcare and drugs or good environmental stewardship. We get a morally bankrupt bankruptcy bill that waives credit card interest cellings (in the fine print) and disallows exemptions to those who have catastrophic healthcare expenses or lose their jobs to outsourcing.

And I could go on and on, but the point I'm making is if the Republicans don't want to join the Reform Ohio Now coalition, then redistricting reform will necessarily have to proceed without them, and they may find themselves in an untenable situation similar to that of the Iraqi Sunnis. They boycotted the "election," and it did them a whole lot of good, right? That last was a rather facetious rhetorical question, but it points out the utter absurdity of the Republicans in Ohio fighting constructive reform. I suspect their recalcitrance will come back and bite them on the ass.

Posted by SherAn

I guess my comment is to reiterate something Jeremy over at Charging RINO has been saying: we need more Republicans speaking out against corruption. I know there have to be reform-minded, independent Republicans in Ohio. If you want change, get involved and stop standing on the sidelines.


Jeremy over at Charging RINO has a worthwhile update on redistricting reform efforts taking place around the country. He's done a good job on keeping people informed and since redistricting is one way we can end some of the bitter partisianship taking place in national politics these days, it's an issue all centrists should take part of.

Jeremy focuses on efforts taking place in Ohio. A group called Reform Ohio Now is calling for changes in the Buckeye State's election system. Jeremy does a good job of explaining their proposals as well as his criticisms of which I agree. What is interesting to me is that makeup of this group. Reform Ohio Now bills itself as a non-partisan group. Yet, a look at the various groups that support this effort and you notice that the majority of them tend to be on the political left. I see no centrist or even conservative groups listed or even groups that are truly non-partisan, like the League of Women Voters. Throw in the fact that as Jeremy reports, that they believe the redistricting effort should have some kind of "statewide partisan balance" and you wonder how beneficient this gesture is.

I don't have a problem with left leaning organizations taking part. In fact, I'm glad they are there. What concerns me is that on an issue so important as this, that affects everyone, I would think you would want to make sure that this is truly a bi or multi partisan effort. Surely there have to be centrists in Ohio who find this an important issue. I have no idea if this is a really just an attempt to get more Democrats elected in Ohio or if this a serious attempt towards real change in the way we elect or representatives. But from my viewpoint it appears to be a partisan attempt dressed up in non partisan garb and because of that whomever is running RON's pr needs to do some damage control pronto.

I support changing the way we reaaportion our districts. For far too long, the people in Washington has been able to choose the voters instead of the other way around. (Witness Tom Delay's brutal power grab last year.) The parties have been good at creating safe districts that produce candidates who don't believe they ever have to compromise. This practice has effectively destroyed the pragmatic center of both parties.

But change has to come from people who are willing to put their nation above party. Maybe RON is doing that, but until they get support from a larger field, I have my doubts.

At least RON is a real group. My own party has some great examples of "bi-partisan groups" that are nothing more than front groups for the GOP. Both John Cole and Joe Gandleman have the skinny.

The "Values" Party

Does anyone remember when then-candidate Bush said he wanted to restore honor to the White House? Charging RINO has a good post about how "honorable" the GOP has been acting lately. There are also some good posts about this from John Cole and Joe Gandelman.

Kinda makes all the sliminess that happened under Clinton seem like child's play, huh?

Jeremy over at RINO has a good solution to rout out what's rotten in the GOP:

" I'm afraid it might be time for a few years in the wilderness for this crew, to remind them where they came from and just what they were arguing for when they came into power ten years ago. What was that about honor and integrity?"

Indeed. There are many days where I find it hard to call myself a Republican. When I look back on the party, I think of giants like Teddy Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower. These guys were giants of integrity. The people we have now ruling the party are just slimy. What's worse is that they do it under the cover of being moral people.

Jeremy is right that more Republicans need to stand up and say that such behavior is wrong. I'm thankful that there are people like John McCain out there, but it has to also come from the rank and file Republican. Listen, the public won't stand for this; not when gas prices are pushing $2.50 a gallon.

It's time for all of us who are Republicans of conscience to stand up and denounce such tactics. We can't remain silent.

And if the Democrats are smart, they would do as Scott Shields suggests:

I have a strong feeling that what we're seeing here is the tip of a massive iceburg of corruption that's been growing in the Republican Party for years. If reform is not one of the main rallying cries for the Democratic Party in next year's midterms, I'll be very disappointed.

Will they get a clue? We shall see.

Friday, August 12, 2005

On Vacation

Blogging has been scarce the past few days because I'm visiting my parents in Michigan. I might add a post here and there, but I get back into the thick of things on August 16.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Welcome Home, Discovery

Like many people yesterday, I was a little nervous as the Space Shuttle Discovery made its reentry into Earth's atmosphere. We all remember hearing the news on that dark day in February when Space Shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas killing all seven on board. Yesterday, Discovery and her crew of seven made a safe landing on to a desert runway in California.

Long before Discovery set foot on earth again, there was talk about the future of the shuttle and manned space flight. The fact that a piece of foam came off again after spending millions to prevent what happened to Columbia from happening again is troubling. NASA is grounding the fleet until they can correct the problem.

There is talk again that we don't need to send humans into space. It's too dangerous, the critics say. This argument was rather loud after Columbia and her crew was lost and it was still loud after some of the problems that Discovery faced. The critics believe we can do all the science we need to do by sending unmanned spacecraft like those sent to Mars. At least, we won't have to risk human life, they say.

I for one, want to see the manned program continue. Yes, the unmanned program has had some success, but it has also had some spectacular failures, where explorers were damaged or destroyed at critical moments. We also seem to forget the manned program is not the death trap people tend to think it is. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, of the 114 missions, 112 have been sucessful. Risky yes, but not a death warrant as some critics suggest.

Humans want to explore. Yes, it can be done with robots, but there is something in the human psyche to acutally be there exploring. Maybe that doesn't line up with the risk-adverse society that we live in, but I think people would rather experience other worlds than having to watch it on a viewscreen.

I remember the first shuttle test flight. It was 1977, and I remember seeing the protoype, Space Shuttle Enterprise, on the back of a 747. Then, it was released and flew on its own before it made a safe landing. I also remember the flight of Columbia four years later as it went into space. Kids get excited about things like this. They don't get excited about robot explorers.

I sometimes think that America has lost the drive it used to have. In the 50s and 60s we made getting to the moon our goal. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the US not only worked to get something into space, but also made sure the sciences were taught. I don't think we have that edge anymore. We have retreated inward and it doesn't help that we have an Administration and Political Party that seems anti-science (more on that later).

It was about a year ago, that China started its own manned program. The joy people had as their own astronaut went into space reminded me of what America has lost. Not only it's drive, but it's edge in science.

I hope to see more shuttle launches and landings. And I hope to see us get back to the moon and hopefully Mars.

Welcome home, Discovery. Let's hope you aren't the last manned flight for America.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Left on Roberts

You know, when you have people on both the left and the right attacking Roberts, you have to wonder if this guy isn't half bad. In an earlier post today, I talked about how some on the Right are attacking Roberts for his work on a gay rights case. Now, Charging RINO talks about how NARAL Pro-Choice America is unfairly attacking Roberts. NARAL will launch an ad in Maine and Rhode Island that paints Roberts as an extremist that supports violent opponents of abortion. (You can view the ad here.)

I think Jeremy is right on the mark here. It is wrong to make such leaps in logic and as a person considers himself pro-choice, I am ashamed of this group. Jeremy has some great quotes on this issue including this:

It is not often that I agree with the the chairman of the RNC, but Ken Mehlman has it right on this: "By attempting to assert that Judge Roberts supports shameful criminal acts, NARAL has shown how far they will go to slander a good man for political gain." This ad crosses the line between decent debate over Roberts' stance on the issues and unfair attack, by implying that Roberts somehow supports or condones violent attacks against abortion clinics. There is absolutely nothing in the record to justify such a conclusion; in fact, the opposite may be closer to the truth.

According to Roberts allies, the nominee supported the conclusion of the Reagan White House back in 1986 that violent protesters should not be eligible for special consideration to receive presidential pardons: "No matter how lofty or sincerely held the goal, those who resort to violence to achieve it are criminals," the Reagan Justice Department held in a memo which Roberts endorsed.

NARAL's president said of the ad "We're not suggesting that Mr. Roberts condones clinic violence." Okaaay, what exactly does "America can't afford a justice whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans" mean, then? That is exactly what they're suggesting, in a blatant attempt to inflame passions and derail the civil-to-this-point confirmation process.

Jeremy suggests that Senators should ignore this ad and I strongly agree. NARAL is doing nothing more than distorting the truth and is another example of the no-holds-barred political culture we now live in. It should be roundly condemned.

The Right on Roberts

All the talk of Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts doing some pro bono work on the landmark Romer v. Evans case has some on the Religious Right going crazy. The whole case says a lot more about how the far right feels about gays than it does about Roberts. Case in point, this little screed by World Net Daily's Joseph Farrah. Let's do some fisking, shall we?

"...last week, the Los Angeles Times broke the story that Roberts had volunteered his services – pro bono – to help prepare a landmark homosexual activist case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. He did his job well. But he didn't serve the public interest. And he certainly no longer sounds like the carefully crafted image of a jurist who believes in the Constitution and judicial restraint.

The 1996 Romer vs. Evans case produced what the homosexual activists considered, at the time, its most significant legal victory, paving the way for an even bigger one – Lawrence vs. Texas, the Supreme Court ruling that effectively overturned all laws prohibiting sodomy in the United States.

What he didn't say is that Romer allowed people to discriminate against gays and lesbians and not have to worry about the state coming after them. They could deny gays housing and they could fire them from their jobs.

"Keep in mind the intent and result of this case. It overturned a provision of the Colorado Constitution that blocked special rights for people based on their sexual proclivities."

Well, I just told you, this is not about "Special Rights." I mean people have to have a place to live and money to put food on the table. I don't know how that is considered "special."

"This was not just an "intellectual exercise," as some have suggested. Roberts' actions had real impact on the future of our nation.

He ought to be ashamed of himself as a self-proclaimed Catholic. In some dioceses, he would be denied communion for his betrayal of his faith.

He ought to be denied a confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate. But I predict he will get every Republican vote and nearly all of the Democrat votes.

Sad. Tragic. Pathetic."

No, what's sad, tragic and pathetic is that there are people like Mr. Farah. People who hide their bigotry behind words like morals and values. He doesn't give a damn if people lose their homes or jobs because they are gay. He doesn't care that people even lose their children because they are attracted to the same sex. He thinks it's okay for the police to enter a person's home and arrest them for basically having sex with someone of the same sex. He doesn't care if one partner of the same sex is barred from seeing their loved on in a hospital. This is not conservatism, at least not the conservatism of Edmund Burke. It is nothing more than pure bigotry and thanks for Mr. Farah for showing himself and others like James Dobson to be the hatful thugs that they really are.

Richard Cohen has a great piece on the Roberts issue as well.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings, RIP

It was interesting that my mother and I were talking about Peter Jennings and his battle with lung cancer yesterday when I found out late last night that Jennings died in New York at the age of 67.

His death ends an era when the troika (Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and Jennings) ruled the air waves. Brokaw is in retirement and Rather left in disgrace.

Of the three, I loved Jennings. Brokaw was okay and I thought Rather was a pompous ass, but Jennings had this allure to him. Where as Brokaw brings this Midwestern nature to the airwaves, Jennings brought sophistication. Maybe it was the fact that he was Canadian and had that distinctive Canadian accent. I remember when he used to anchor the foriegn news from London back in the late 70s and early 80s. He made you want to listen to the news and I credit him for getting me interested in journalism.

We were already missing Jennings when he didn't cover the death of Pope John Paul II. It was the first major event where he was absent. He was a reassuring face when their was some major news event or tragedy.

With Jennings passing, we lose a person who made journalism cool. I don't think we will ever find someone so damn good ever again.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Will Roberts Still be God's Gift to the Religious Right?

It appears that President Bush's pick for the Supreme Court, John Roberts, did some pro-bono work representing gay rights activist in the Supreme Court case Romer v. Evans which struck down the anti-gay Amendment 2 in Colorado. The Los Angeles Times reports that while working at a law firm he provided pro bono work, reviewing filings and preparing oral documents. The story notes that Roberts is again keeping to his professions credo to represent a client even if you might not agree with them.

This case isn't proof of how Roberts would vote on any issue involving gay rights, but it may say something about the religious right. Most on the religious right basically go beserk if anyone says anything nice about gays. So, what will they think now that Roberts was known to help a case that said that discrimination against gays is illegal?

I also wonder about groups like Human Rights Campaign, which has already shot Roberts down before Senate hearings have begun. It would have been better had they taken the route of Log Cabin Republicans, which said they would be taking a good look at Roberts record as it relates to gay and lesbian equality.

His work on striking down Evans doesn't necessarily mean he's pro gay, but I do think Senators should ask him about gay rights in light of his pro bono work.

Thanks to Eva Young for the hat tip.

How a Hoosier Saved Civilization

The Debate Link had a worthwhile post on the Republican Presidential Candidate of 1940, Wendell Wilkie, and how his campiagn might have saved the world from Nazi tyranny. He links to a great Washington Monthly book review about Wilkie.

In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt was gunning for an unprecedented third term. It was a dark time in the world. Hitler was well on his way to conquering most of Europe. Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belguim had fallen and France would soon follow. FDR knew he had to help the Allies and do it fast, but he faced a Congress, a rival party and a nation that was isolationist. The leading candidates of that year in the GOP were stauch isolationists. However, there were some in the GOP who understood the Nazi threat and wanted to get an internationalist on the top of the 1940 GOP ticket. The choice was Wendell Wilkie, a Indiana-born untilities exec who had never run for office. Now, Wilkie could have undercut FDR and ran as a hard isoloationist and cruised to victory. But he chose to not attack FDR where he was weak.

Here is an important quote:

Peters devotes the latter half of the book to the crucial role Willkie played after the convention in helping FDR prepare the nation for war. Later that summer, Roosevelt was desperately trying to sell the public on the wisdom of trading 50 mothballed destroyers to Britain for West Indian naval bases. The War and Navy Departments worried that this would leave the United States itself dangerously exposed. Lawmakers and voters felt the same way. Willkie, through intermediaries, let the president know he would not attack him over the deal, a gesture, Peters argues, that gave FDR the courage to go through with it.

Even more consequential was a speech Willkie gave in August, against the advice of key aides, supporting a return of the military draft, which FDR was calling for. To stake out such a position in the midst of an election campaign before the nation was even at war (remember, Pearl Harbor was still 16 months away), it took considerable political courage. Though polls suggested that the majority of the country supported a draft, the minority that opposed it was far more intense. When the selective service bill passed in September, Sen. Hiram Johnson said that Willkie had “broken the back” of opposition to the draft.

Wilkie's stance cost him the election, but saved the civilized world. What is so interesting is that Wilkie did something that very few politicians do today, put country before party. He could have played to the base as polticians tend to do now, but instead, he assumed leadership and made all the differece.

In a time when we are faced with a terrorist threat, it seems like Republicans and Democrats are not speaking with one voice. People seem to place partisan interests above national priorities.

This is why I am hopeful about the new group,

Partnership for a Secure America. This bipartisan group is interested in getting back to a foriegn policy that is summed up in the words of the late GOP Senator Arthur Vandenburg, that politics stops at the waters edge. We need to come up with a bipartisan policy in this new era instead of the bickering we have been seeing. It's time for leadership again and I wish this new group well.


I wanted to let you know of some changes that have taken place at the Moderate Republican. First, I've signed on to the new verison of the Yellow Line which has remade itself into a consortium of centrist bloggers including Charging RINO, Ambivablog, and Thoughts of an American Centrist. I will still be posting here, of course. I will be using the Yellow Line to post more indepth pieces on issues affecting centrists of all stripes.

Second, I wanted to let you know about two new links. The first is one that Jeremy at Charging RINO alluded to, a bipartisan organization called Partnership for a Secure America. This is a group made up some political powerhouses from both parties who are pushing for a more bipartisan approach to foriegn policy in this post 9/11 era. I will talk more about this organization in another post.

Second, I want to bring to your attention an initiative being put forward by religious groups called Dear Sudan. A coalition of Christian and Jewish groups are endorsing this grassroots endeavor which started in Petaluma, California last year. The goal is to get communities to raise money to assist those dealing with the genocide going on in Darfur. Many blogs have worked hard to keep this tragedy in the news, and so have many churches. Even if you don't have a religious background, this is a worthy movement to get involved in. The church that I co-pastor in St. Paul will be involved and I'm hoping to get others involved as well.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Activist Judges, Republican Style

Imagine a future election where you are to vote for a judge. You find out this judge is endorsed by a political party and accepts poltical contributions. He has been endoresed by one of the influential political groups affiliated with the party.

Such a scenario already happens in a few states and it looks like it will happen here in Minnesota. The 8th Circuit Court invalidated rules set up that kept judicial candidates from affliating with a party and can ask for poltical contributions. This is part of a long series of suits brought by a Republican lawyer, Greg Wersal, who believes that parties should have a role in judicial elections. The Republican Party of Minnesota has backed his proposal.

Now, I don't think that judges should even be elected. It's better to have them appointed, in order to maintain judicial independence. But this idea is just terrible. I can see Republican judicial candidates that get funds from Religous Right activists and who end up being beholden to these special interests. How can anyone get any justice if one knows how a judge will vote on a issue. He or she stops being an inpartial judge, and become a party hack.

This is judicial activism at its worse. If parties can endorse judges then we are all screwed. We will then have partisan fights during election season about which judge favors or doesn't favor gay marriag or abortion rights. Judicial rulings would be made by judges who fear if they decide a case "wrong" interest groups will take revenge in the next election.

This is yet another example of the Religious Right's contempt for democracy. It's all about command and control.

The "Christocrats"

USA Today has an interesting story on the rise of Christian conservatives in Ohio. It paints a not-so flattering portrait of Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is planning to run for Governor of the Buckeye State come 2006. Many conservative pastors in Ohio are supporting Blackwell. He featured in "Ohio for Jesus" radio spots and believes that God wanted him to be Secretary of State in 2004.

Moderate Republicans in Ohio are concerned. Two Republicans are lining up to challenge Blackwell and Neil Clark, a GOP official says that moderate Republicans in Ohio are worried about the state "going back to the Stone Ages of Salem."

The story shows again how narrowminded and exclusionary the far right tend to be. If you don't agree with them 100%, you are deemed evil. Case in point is State Auditor Betty Montgomery, who is running for governor next year. She back the gay marriage ban, but is considered pro-choice. Because of that, she is shunned. She says:

"If you get somebody who is with you 100% of the time and can't win an election, isn't it better to have somebody who is with you 80% of the time and can win?"

She might want to talk to Bill Frist about how he feels. Chargin RINO reports that since his swtich to supporting stem cell research, he has been deemed persona non grata among the Religious Right. He was not invited to "Justice Sunday II" the gathering of Religious Right activists that meets later this month. Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, excoriates Frist in a press release. He notes:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has now publicly supported human embryonic stem cell research and expansion of President Bush's policy regarding funding of such research. The statement from someone who seeks the support of the pro-life community [and who once had Presidential aspirations] is very disappointing but not a surprise. It is reminiscent of the speech he gave to the 2004 Republican platform committee, where he squelched open debate on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, as well as a 2001 Senate hearing testimony where he advocated production of hundreds of human embryonic stem cell lines which would have required destruction of thousands of human embryos. This reflects a unwise and unnecessary choice both for public policy and for respecting the dignity of human life.

These two examples notes a distrubing aspect of the Religious Right and what I believe is their contempt for democracy. Part of living in a democratic society means that you won't get all that you want. There are competing interests and they all want something. This is why compromise is so important. But the Religious Right thinks they are following God's will. If your viewpoint is blessed by God, then why bother listening to others? Why work with them? You could even take it to an extreme that you must eliminate dissenting voices. (No, I am not saying the Religious Right is bumping off people.) There is a name for the type of government that brokes no compromise and deems others who disagree as evil: it's called a dictatorship.

I think mainstream Republicans (moderates and conservatives) need to start organizing and countering the religious right come 2006. If we don't want the Religious Right to take this country back to witch trials, we need to get involved and take back the party.

Update:Charging RINO has an excellent commentary on the same USA Today article. His final paragraph is the kicker:

I've said it many times, but I'll say it again - there are those of us in the Republican Party who do not subscribe to the beliefs of the "Justice Sunday" crowd, who put pragmatism ahead of litmus tests and country ahead of party. We've been ignored for too long, because we've been quiet for too long. That silence must end, and 2006 will be the year to end it. 2008 will be too late.

There is a saying by the lesbian poet Audre Lourde that goes, "your silence will not protect you." If we centrist Republicans remain silent, we will lose our party and maybe our country to those who have confused naked power with faith. These people CANNOT control a major political party. Moderates must come together and get organized and take back the party.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bush: Teach "Intelligent Design"

When I arrived in Tampa this weekend, I went to get my rental car. The agent asked why I was in town and I told him that I was a minister and I was in town for the ordination of the co-pastor of the church I work at. He then starts talking about Adam and Eve and why there were so many different races. I said that was probably because of evolutionary changes. He then retorts if I believed in Jesus Christ. I told him yes. I believe the creation story found in the book of Genesis is true, in that it explains, at least from a Christian viewpoint, why we are here. But to ask how we got here, then I think evolution is the how.

In light of this, The Moderate Voice reports that President Bush believes Intelligent Design should be taught in public schools along side evolution. It's kind of a back door attempt to get creationism into the public schools.

I'm not against kids learning about God's role in creation, but it should be taught in places of worship not public schools. It's disturbing enough that the far right wants to impose their view of how humanity was created on the rest of us, but that the President seems to support it. Just another sign that the leaders of the conservative movement are no longer...conservative.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Bolton Appointment

I'm sitting here waiting for my flight back to Minneapolis from Tampa, and decided to write a post or two of some of recent goings on in politics.

Charging RINO reports that President Bush appointed John Bolton to the UN Ambassadorial post this morning as a recess appointment.

Now, the president has the authority to do that and can do it if he wants. But I think John Bolton was a horrible pick. Charging RINO has been doing great coverage on this issue and can tell you that Bolton was hardly qualified for this post. It's not his dislike (read: contempt) for the United Nations that bothers me; after all Daniel Patrick Moynihan didn't have much love for the institution when he was UN Ambassador under President Ford, and with very good reason. What bothers me is Bolton's treatment of anyone who didn't agree with him. This guy's a political hack, not a diplomat. He does the bidding of his leaders, that's it. As Ohio Senator George Voinovich said, if someone acted the way Bolton did at a Fortune 500 company, he would be fired. His appointment will be thankfully short (it will expire in January, 2007), but just long enough to do some damage to America's standing in the world.

I also have to agree with Jeremy on the outright cowardly actions of Rhode Island Senator,

Lincoln Chafee. He finally decided that Bolton might not be a good choice after months of near silence. It was of no help to issue such a statement when the horses were already out the barn. His actions gave fire to the impression that moderate Republicans are wishy-washy and willing to follow the wishes of the far right. It was a loss of courage that the Senator should be ashamed of.

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