Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Old School Debating

Fire of Liberty

If you're like me then you've already grown tired of the current political climate and what passes as debate in this country. Well thankfully, Newt Gingrich and Mario Cuomo are coming together tonight at Cooper Union(Better known as Abraham Lincoln's introduction launch site to the nation) at 6:30 p.m. on C-SPAN(You can also find it at American Solutions) to hold a 1860's style debate that provides far more time and greater thought for the the two debaters. Even better is the fact that these two former politicians (Good historians in their own right) are challenging the presidential aspirants to do the same rather than sitting on their laurels and running the current high groomed Vanity Fair/Good Morning America campaign events and televised debates. So if you find the time, turn in to the event at Cooper Union.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Victory, Not Defeat

Fire of Liberty

Jack Kelly has good column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that should make a large amount of Dems in Congress pretty wary of making any moves that would tie the President's hand.
Amongst the many fine points of Kelly's column, I think the following places a governor on the Democrats' actions:

Let us set aside for the moment what the "slow bleed" strategy would say about the honesty and character of the Democratic leadership in Congress if it chooses to pursue it and focus on the wisdom, or lack of it, of making the sabotaging of the war effort foremost on the Democratic agenda.

A large majority of Americans are unhappy with the conduct of the war in Iraq, and a majority thinks it was a mistake to go to war with Saddam Hussein in the first place. But recent opinion polls make clear that most Americans still want us to win, and think we can.

Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va. surveyed 800 registered voters Feb. 5-7. By identical margins of 57-41 percent, those polled said Iraq was a key part of the war on terror and that U.S. troops should remain until "the job is done." By 56-43 percent, respondents said Americans should stand behind the president in Iraq because we are at war, and by 53-46 percent they said Democrats were going too far, too fast in pressing the president to withdraw troops.

The newspaper Investors' Business Daily took a poll of 925 adults Feb. 5-11. In that poll, 42 percent of respondents said victory in Iraq was "very important," and 24 percent more said it was "somewhat important." Thirty five percent said they were "very hopeful" the United States would succeed, and 23 percent were "somewhat hopeful."

It seems that the American people are greater strategic thinkers than the foreign policy "experts" in Congress.

A Standfast GOP Base for GWB

Fire of Liberty

Contrary to what the MSM is presenting to the American people, it seems that President Bush's approval numbers amongst fellow Republicans is pretty darn high. Here's what USA Today columnist/reporter Richard Benedetto has to say about recent polling data:

The Feb. 9-11 poll puts Bush's job approval at 37%, but among people who identify themselves as Republican or leaning Republican, his approval rating is 76%.

Thus, despite bad news from Baghdad and carefully crafted hand-wringing by high-profile GOP war critics in Congress such as Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, three of four Republicans in the country are hanging in there with the president.

The poll also shows that rank-and-file Republicans have higher regard for the president than they do Republicans in Congress. They gave GOP lawmakers a 63% job-approval rating, 13 points below Bush's. And 72% of Republicans do not think Bush made a mistake sending U.S. troops to Iraq.

So if congressional Republicans figure the key to re-election in 2008 is taking a hard line against Bush on Iraq, they could be dead wrong. They might lure some independents, but they risk alienating their GOP base. To win, you need solid support from your base plus independents, not independents alone.

Conventional wisdom also says the presidential ambitions of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., could be derailed by his strong support for the war. This poll, however, shows that his stance could be a plus among the base.

What does this high approval among Republicans mean for Bush? It means that as long as his party support remains that strong, he won't fall below 30% approval, a depth that would virtually extinguish his political power. The lowest Bush has fallen is 31%, still enough to make him a significant, although wounded, force in legislative battles with the Democratic-controlled Congress.

The latest congressional skirmish over Iraq underscores the point. In the House's non-binding vote to oppose the president's deployment of more troops to Baghdad, 17 Republicans voted with 229 Democrats to pass the measure. Four GOP representatives didn't vote. Lost was the fact that 180 Republicans stuck with Bush. By that count, Bush gets a 92% loyalty standing among House Republicans who voted. Hardly a GOP exodus.

All I can say is keep up the good fight Mr. President.

A Giant On and Off the Field

Fire of Liberty

Now here's a piece on 1st Lt. Andrew Jackson "Jack" Lummus Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient, who left the NFL to join the Marines and eventually went to "hell and back" on the bloody rock of Iwo Jima in the service of our nation and the freedoms we hold dear. I just hope that more of our movie makers & TV producers would make more feature films on soldiers of the past and our current crop of heroes than the pacifist/moral relativism dreck we currently see on the screen.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Job Well Done

Fire of Liberty

It feels me with great pride that President Bush has awarded the well deserved Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Crandall for his gallantry under heavy fire as a helicopter pilot during the Battle of Ia Drang. So congrats and thanks for your service.

*To get a greater understanding of Lt. Col. Crandall's service during the battle of Ia Drang, I recommend that you watch We Were Soldiers ( He's portrayed by Greg Kinnear).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

PC Madness

Fire of Liberty

I'd say that Robert Novak aptly notes how the PC police have gone amuck with the most recent decision by the administration of the University of Illinois to remove Chief Illiniwek as its school symbol. If you've noticed from President's Day and other aspects of our history (See here) you can see that the PC police's reach is far and wide.


Fire of Liberty

As someone who comes from a long line of moonshine makers, I have to take pride in reading this piece by John Fund on the re-opening of George Washington's large moonshine still at Mount Vernon. Even if you're not interested in the distillery, I still urge you as a fellow America to take a trek to Mount Vernon and see the showcase that Washington built and what life was like at the dawn of this great nation.

*Also, check out this piece by Andrew Ferguson on the building of the new visiting center at George Washington beloved Mt. Vernon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Terrorism Prevention

Fire of Liberty

I have to say Glenn H. Reynolds (Instapundit) is one of the most thought provoking law professors out there when it comes to thinking about the dangers we face from Islamic terrorists and the best ways to take down these threats. After reading this piece, I have to say that you look at the possibility of assassinating know terrorist leaders and their minions in a totally different light. Thank G-d we have some politicians, professors, and senior fellows within the think tank world are actually looking at real life solutions like this in an effort to prevention further terrorism.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kick The Can Foreign Policy?

Fire of Liberty

John O'Sullivan has a good column in today's Chicago Sun-Times which points out the the tentative agreement reached between the United States (Its respected partners: China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea) and North Korea is doomed to failure at the get go. It'd be good if these foreign policy makers in the US would pay attention to the past and realize that the North Koreans are pretty good at playing games at getting what they want but fail to abide to their own part of the deal. We'd be better off with some hard hitting tactics with regards to the North Koreans than the failed "kick-the-can-down-the-road" policies of the Clinton era. The folks toiling under Kim Jong Il and the American people deserve better than this.

Tales of The Welfare State

Fire of Liberty

Thomas Sowell has a good column out today on the absurdities that a lot of our politicians will go to expand the welfare state in an effort to support the "little guy." Amongst the silliest of all is the current campaign by various politicians to milk the federal government of millions to build and maintain the various municipal golf courses that dot this nation while refusing to sell these courses to the private sector for greater revenue. I guess the politicians are so used to wily-nilly spending and keeping a trophy to bring up every election that they're willing to take even more taxpayer money from the folks they're trying to help.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Popping The Economic Populists Bubble

Fire of Liberty

I think that Diana Furchtgott-Roth has a good op/ed and Lou in the New York Sun that pretty much puts quashes a great bit of the economic populism that folks like John Edwards, Charlie Rangel and even Lou Dobbs(Good work on the border but not my cup of tea on free-market economics) seem to be hawking to the American public. To me, I'm guessing the folks in America are more in tune to Ms. Furchtgott- Roth than these politicians and pundits believe.

Countering Pop-Culture

As a conservative and uncle of four, I tend to wonder if our society is heading towards a fiery crash if we don't get a hand of what we deem as "pop-culture". No matter where you go, whether on the Internet, television, radio, or the movie industry, we're bombarded with trivial things like Anna Nicole Smith, Donald Trump vs Rosie, Girls Gone Wild, teachers sleeping with their students, crude rappers, Jerry Springer, exhibitions of gore and mayhem and Lord knows whatever else there is to peddle to the massive viewing audience. What I see when I turn on my TV just makes me pretty scared what kind of future awaits my three nieces and lone nephew as they near their teenage years and they become more and more exposed to these media avenues. One thing I do know is that there are a lot of people in this country who completely understand what a negative impact such a degradation of our culture will have on future generations. Thankfully the good folks at Walden Media have established a family friendly outlet from the everyday "pop-culture" by offering up such great movies like The Chronicles of Narnia, Because of Winn-Dixie, Charlotte's Web, How To Eat Fried Worms, Holes, I Am David and many others to come. If you want to learn more on the success story of Walden Media and its future offering then I suggest you read this column by Brent Bozell III.

Above all, our children and the survivability of our culture will only be solved by the parents who need to take control of the remote and find ways of limiting their kids from the mess that is being splashed on the screens of our TVs, computer screens and in the movie theater. An even better way to ensure this is through these same parents using their feet and pocketbooks to guide the movie industry(At least the ones directed towards kids) towards a market that is family friendly and in the case of Walden Media a very handsome chunk of cash.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Defeat Isn't Worth It

I have to say that Cliff May has written a great column which points out that while a small majority of the Iraqi population is causing the problems in Iraq, it is still out duty to make sure that the respectable people in Iraq are not left on the lurch and left to their own devices to settle the mess. All in all, the Democrats in Congress might think that they're doing the will of the voters by pushing forward "non-binding resolutions" and talking about eventually putting Vietnam era restrictions on our soldiers but in reality they're ripping victory from the jaws of defeat. I just don't think that the soldiers who have fallen, the American people, and our friends in Iraq were booking on what the members of Congress are pushing through.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Be Careful With What You Wish For

Now while the supporters of the minimum wage bill call the passage of this bill as a victory for "working families", they fail to realize that more often than not the individuals working these jobs are teenagers, folks just entering the workforce waiting for a better job, individuals supplementing their spouses income but very seldom do you find a family of four living on minimum wage. One only has to look at this piece from the Arizona Central to realize that a minimum wage hike much like anything in economics has a significant economic trade-off thus for the employer to continue to pay at this new wage they are either going to have raise prices on goods or services or cut costs which in most cases means cutting their work staff by getting rid of the least experienced and younger workers. It might not mean much to these politicians that raising the minimum wage costs young teenagers jobs but they fail to realize that by killing such jobs they rob these teenagers of part-time or even summer jobs which provide them with a sense of earning their way in the world and gaining much needed work experience that in turn helps them out when they venture into the real world after they graduate from high school or college. So even though the Republicans in the Senate got tax breaks installed in the bill to ease such burdens on small employers, I think that before Speaker Pelosi and her band of merry Democrats get to excited about pushing through a hike in the minimum wage (Everything is done but a conference to pound out the difference between the House and Senate as well as the President's signature) they should take a good look at what harm such legislation can cause. They should remember that these teens and new workers who will lose their jobs from this hike will eventually be eligible to vote and might aid others in casting out the whole lot of Democrats who pushed through such legislation.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Republic, Not A Democracy

It seems that about every election time they're are a group of individuals or academics who push a wacky idea to end the electoral college in an effort to make it more than likely that their candidate for president can win an election. Thankfully Mike Rosen, radio host and Rocky Mountain News columnist, has penned a great piece that shoots down this whole wacky notion and demonstrates once again how our Founding Fathers were true geniuses when they had the foresight to object to pure democracy and embrace a constitutional republic that has lasted these 200 plus years. Here's a sample of Rosen's column:

The supporters of this goofy idea are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats. Their first goal, obviously, is to win the presidency for their party. They believe this will be easier if they can circumvent the Electoral College, which leverages the voice of less populous states, like Colorado, that have tended to vote Republican in recent years. SB 46 contrives to tip the scales in favor of northeastern states and California with large Democratic majorities in heavily populated cities.

Additionally, liberal populists like Gordon have an ideological bias against the Electoral College, preferring a national popular vote for president. They say that's the way it's supposed to be in a democracy. But we are not a democracy, never have been and most definitely never should be. The Founders abhorred pure democracy and purposefully created a constitutional republic, an ingenious combination of democratic institutions and anti-democratic safeguards: a Bill of Rights to protect individuals from the tyranny of the majority; representative government, filtering majoritarian passions; a Senate with two seats for each state, regardless of population; federalism; the separation of powers; judicial review; the presidential veto; and, yes, the Electoral College.

We're not a collective, amorphous blob, but a confederation of individual states, each retaining some sovereign powers, unique qualities, values and agendas. The Electoral College is a constant reminder of that. We do not have - nor have we ever had - a national popular vote for president. We have 51 separate elections in each of the states and the District of Columbia to determine how Electoral College votes will be cast. It's only out of curiosity, devoid of legal status, that we aggregate those 51 election results to produce a national total.

SB 46 would render Colorado irrelevant. Why would a candidate waste time and resources, here, to pick up a relatively small differential when 25 million votes are at stake in New York and California?

Thank G-d our founding fathers had the knowledge of history when they formed this great nation and its constitutional system.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sage Advice From Across the Pond

If I were sitting on the staff of any of the Democrats in Congress or those aspiring for a higher office then I'd be trying my best to make sure that this column by Gerard Baker made its way into their boss's daily readings. Here's a sample:

Posturing — as the party did this week in the Senate, trying to pass nonbinding resolutions that condemn the war but offer no alternatives — will end up only reminding voters what they distrusted about Democrats. You can see the temptation, of course. Antiwar sentiment is now so strong in the country that all the Democrat contenders for the presidency are being pushed farther towards outright opposition. Hillary Clinton is busy modifying her previous modifications to position herself closer to the clearer antiwar stances of Barack Obama and John Edwards. On current trends, the three will soon be wearing bandanas, camping out in front of the White House, and openly considering signing Jane Fonda on to the ticket in 2008.

But there is a real opportunity for Democrats if they handle the next year or so correctly. Serious-minded foreign policy specialists in the party are trying to craft an approach that will not simply exploit antiwar sentiment but will align it behind a new strategic vision for the US. They say that Washington needs to relearn the lessons of the Cold War. The War on Terror will only be won, they say, in the same way — partly by military action when necessary, but even more so by victory in an ideological struggle. That requires demonstrating to the world, in this struggle for civilisation, that America’s way — what we used to think of as the West’s way — is the superior way, not simply by military means, but by winning the famous “battle for hearts and minds”.

These Democrats argue that the US is losing that struggle. And, glancing at the esteem in which America is held in the world, it is hard to dispute that. Of course that would matter less if America were not losing the military struggles, too — but it is. This is a view that resonates with many Americans, including Republicans, and could easily be a winning message.

The question is whether enough Democrats are willing to go down this difficult route of seeking engagement and compromise, or whether the instant satisfaction of indulging noisy antiwar sentiment will win out once again.

My guess is that they're so filled with a spirit of "stickin' it" to the GOP and George Bush that they'll be unable to focus their mind on doing the right and smart thing. At the current rate, it won't be long before the Blue-Dogs and the Pelosi wing start fighting with each other.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Could Rudy be the One?

I have to say that after reading this piece in the NY Sun by columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., I'm becoming more impressed about Rudy Giuliani's ability to be the next POTUS, especially when I see the results he had in turning around New York(Crime and Revitalizing the Town) not to mention his depth and understanding of "supply-side" economics and the threats the Islamic extremism pose to this nation. Now while he's off to a great start on being an ideal pick for the GOP, it would be very wise for Rudy to be a little more open towards attending more conservative events while also being more open to the American people about his social views. Here's hoping Rudy great luck in 08 but as with all presidential races someone better might emerge in a years time.

*Here's my top four:
1.Newt Gingrich

Eco-Madness Documentary

As a conservative, I'm all gung-ho for individuals fighting to preserve their traditions, culture, history and way of life which includes the managing of one's property and surroundings but at the same time I believe that such should be approached in a more restrained manner that doesn't exclude growth and economic prosperity. Now while a lot of people in "the heartland" know what what I'm talking about, they're are a lot of individuals within the Green/environmental left camp that will go to great extremes to push their agenda on people who are just trying to make a living or doing what they want to do on their own property. Whether it's the folks who protest and fill all kinds of lawsuits to prevent the building of new homes, activists against the use of DDT to control if not eliminate malaria in Africa, rich celebrities/politicians calling for the building of massive wind-turbine farms or other alternative energy sources but then go all NIMBY(not in my back yard) when alternative energy companies propose the placing of such technology in their neighborhood, environmentalists getting injunctions to prevent farmers/foresters from clearing dead or ageing trees from our forests who are doing so in an effort to minimize the threat of fires to the human population, or individuals who are so devoted to preventing further global warming(I'm leery of believing that the UN and Gore know everything about the true causes of this phenomenon) that they are willing to impose onerous regulations and restrictions on industries that they will dry up our industrial base(China and India are excluded from Kyoto), the extreme environmentalists are proposing ideas and enacting solutions that cause more harm than good to the community or the people in general. The extent of such eco-madness seems to reach its greatest height of absurdity in instances in which various environmental groups target various international mining companies who are trying to start up some mines that bring jobs to remote and poverty stricken areas of the world, which is documented in a fine new file called Mine Your Own Business. Though the critics will scoff at the film and claim that this is free market propaganda and an insult to environmentalism, the film still serves a purpose in demonstrating what ends the eco-extremists will go to ensure their will is done while denying the will and well-being of others.

*Here's a good review of Mine Your Own Business over at National Review Online by Peter Suderman.

Building Better Bonds With India

I have to say that if the US is going to assure that the fight of freedom against the Islamic extremists continues in the region of Afghanistan and surrounding countries then we've got to make sure that we have India on our side in the fight. One way to make this happen is by inking some defense contracts with with the largest democracy in this year's Aero India air show. According to this piece in the Financial Times it seems the US is trying their best to make such deals are formed.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Budget Battle 08

I found it rather amusing yesterday how the Democrats in Congress were falling all over each other to get before the cameras to call the President's budget, which calls for the extension of his tax cuts and the slowing of spending to reduce, "dead on arrival" by pointing out how the bill is too expensive and will only raise the deficits even more. Even more interesting is how theDems are real quick to say that they're for the troops and giving them all supplies and arms they need but become apoplectic when the President submits a request for increasing the Pentagon's budget. Now I know that the Democrats are just posturing before the cameras to show their base that they're "sticking it" to George W. Bush but I'd think that they'd a least read some of the budget before the jump to any conclusions. Thankfully, the WSJ editorial board has taken some time out of their day to look into the President's budget and have found some interesting information that shows the budget in far better light than what the press and the Democrats are trying to do. Here's a look at what the WSJ had to say about the President's budget:

The news Mr. Conrad won't broadcast is that over the past three years the federal deficit has shrunk by 58%. The Congressional Budget Office -- not the White House -- is estimating that the current year's deficit (for fiscal 2007) will fall to $172 billion. That's not bad given continuing Katrina relief spending, $30 billion for homeland security, and a couple hundred billion or so to fight the war on terror.

The White House is projecting that its new budget will eliminate the deficit by 2012 assuming Mr. Bush's tax cuts are extended after 2010. We don't put much stock in future budget forecasts because they depend on so many variables. But even CBO predicts the deficit should remain near or below 1% of GDP for the rest of the Bush Presidency. That's well below the 40-year average of 2.4% of GDP.

This also means that the federal debt burden will continue to fall. Alarmists point to the $1.4 trillion rise in total federal debt from 2003-2006, but that amount is dwarfed by the $14 trillion in new household wealth created over the same period. And for all the international scolding of an allegedly profligate America, U.S. federal debt as a share of GDP is falling again (see the top chart nearby). At 37% in 2006 and heading south, the U.S. figure compares to 52% in Germany, 43% in France, and 79% in Japan. Once again rising total "debt" is a scare word used to justify higher taxes.

The real game to watch isn't debt or deficits but spending. Here, too, Mr. Bush has an improved track record in his second term. From 2001-2005, outlays ballooned by $609 billion, or 33%, and Mr. Bush never did veto a spending bill. By contrast, on current pace his second term outlays will grow by 21% -- hardly tightfisted, but a third slower.

The other news you won't often hear concerns the soaring tax revenues in the wake of the 2003 supply-side tax cuts. Tax collections have risen by $757 billion, among the largest revenue gushers in history. Receipts, especially from high-income individuals and corporations, have been growing for some two years at nearly twice the rate of spending, which explains the falling deficit. Economic growth is always the key to eliminating red ink, which is why keeping this 63-month expansion rolling needs to be the main domestic priority. This requires making those lower 2003 tax rates permanent, rather than letting them expire in 2010 and socking the economy with the biggest tax increase in history.

The more immediate budget brawl between Mr. Bush and Democrats will be how to divide that mere $2.9 trillion between guns and butter. Mr. Bush wants $245 billion more for Iraq and Afghanistan for 2007 and 2008. His overall Pentagon request of $606 billion in 2008 has been lambasted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "huge number" and Democrats are moaning that their cherished social programs will suffer.

In fact, Mr. Bush's request would only bring defense outlays to 4.2% of GDP, or about 20% of total federal spending. That compares to 4.7% of GDP even under Jimmy Carter, and 6.2% of GDP in 1986 at the peak of the Reagan defense buildup (see bottom chart). Budgets are about setting priorities, and if Democrats agree that defeating terrorism is vital they will put it ahead of funding the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Democrats might think that the can bad mouth the President's fiscal policy is they want but a least he's willing to keep spending at a modest to lower level than what they're offering up to the American people. It'll be fun watching the Democrats try to explain to the American people why they're so willing to do away growth enhancing tax cuts and a much needed boost to the Pentagon being pushed forward by the President. For politicos like me, the upcoming budget fight will be very interesting.

Friday, February 02, 2007

School Choice: A GOP Winner in 2008

If the Republicans are going to have a chance of winning the Presidency in 2008 then they've got to return to what got them to the top in the first place which is a philosophy of individual freedom, limited government, personal responsibility and a continuation of a strong national security policy that keeps America and its allies safe from the dangers that threaten our way of life. One area that would serve the GOP well would be the greater advocacy of "school choice" that returns the decisions of a child's education back to the parents and the local school system and out off the hands of a D.C. bureaucrat. I'm betting that a lot more of this nation would stand up and applaud a GOP candidate(Some Dems if they dare to brave the teacher unions) who actually called for greater educational freedom that allows them greater access to vouchers that provide them the ability to take their kids out of failing schools and enroll them in parochial schools or charter schools that actually teaches their children to read, write, and learn in general. All in all, our students are best served by an education system in which various schools in a district are actually competing for each and every student(and the cash voucher) by offering greater educational standards and having a bevy of teachers who get their students to learn. As a typical political junkie I've been taking note of the fact that GOP hopefuls like Governor Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani giving speeches in which they point out that if we are going to remain economically competitive with the education minded countries of China and India then we've got to find a way to ensure that our education standards in science and math continue to improve. It is true that Iraq and national security will be on the top of the list but after reading this piece on "school choice" by George Will one can understand how a potential candidate could go far in 2008 by promising greater educational choices for children and their parents then they have a real chance of getting the nod for the GOP in 2008. most recent column to see how the "school choice" movement could be pretty big if the right person presents the right message.