Thursday, March 6, 2008

Starr Wars II: Attack of the Drones

Today, one of Hillary Clinton's spokesmen, Harold Wolfson, compared Barack Obama's statement that he's going to be more critical of Hillary's record to the Whitewater investigation headed up by Kenneth Starr.

Yeah. It doesn't make sense to me, either.

Naturally when something like this happens, I look to talk radio's big guns, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck to see what they think was the motivation. I didn't find anything on Rush's website where he talked about it, but I did get to see the lovely collection of Club Gitmo wear. I listened to Hannity and he was still on the "Obama's racist Pastor" kick in between chats with guests. And Beck? I'm not sure it hit early enough for him to comment on it today, so I went 0 for 3 with the guys who get paid to comment on this sort of thing.

When I started thinking about it at first, it seemed rather disjointed. Who even remembers that much about Ken Starr these days besides the Clintons and their followers? Ah, but there's the rub! It comes down to this election, but not in the way you think.

Right now, Hillary could win the Democratic nomination by virtue of securing enough super delegates. With Obama starting to try to get Hillary's super delegates on his side, she knows she'll have to retain as many as she can while trying to attract as many of Obama's super delegates as possible. So, her campaign brings up an old boogeyman in the form of Ken Starr, hoping the super delegates who remember him flock to her to protect her from Obama's attempts to...well, to campaign against her.

The potential pitfall to this is if Democrats start to think about how weak a comparison Wolfson made. Seriously, asking about Hillary's tax returns as a means to suggest she's not being completely open about herself is akin to Ken Starr's investigation into Whitewater? That's a bit of a stretch, even for someone enamored with the prospect of a former First Lady becoming President. At some point, you can't play the "victim card" and have it work. This is one time when it definitely doesn't work when you really think about it.

Of course, you never can tell when something will work. Who would have thought Hillary crying would have helped her win New Hampshire?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rubbernecking at the Societal Freak Show

Have you ever seen "The Moment of Truth"? If you haven't, it's a game show on Fox that puts contestants on a polygraph, ask them questions ranging from benign to highly personal, and then ask them some of the questions they've answered previously to see if they're telling the truth on camera for a chance to win $500,000. And the toughest questions are saved for later on, as you might expect.

And let me tell you, it's uncomfortable to watch.

I'm not the type to force people to do my bidding (because if I did, Jessica Alba would be here and the blog would not matter), but I seriously want people not to watch this show. I'm sure there are people who would appreciate digging deeply into the psyche of the contestants, but some things should not be seen on television. This is way too real, even for reality TV.

Of course, Fox will say that they're only giving the people what they want. If they're right, we're much further along in our social disintegration than I thought. Where have we put our compassion for our fellow human beings? Seriously, this is the kind of stuff that would fall way into the TMI section if people volunteered this stuff on their own.

Perhaps more disturbing than the invasion of privacy that "The Moment of Truth" is the fact that these people are willing to destroy their lives and the lives of loved ones for money. I'm a capitalist, but even I have limits. When people's lives get destroyed in a pursuit of money, it becomes that much more important that we don't give our consent, silent or overt. Have we become so corrupted as a society that we take a perverse joy at watching the pain of others?

In a way, we've always been like that. As wonderful and moral as we think we are, we all have darker influences that creep into our minds and hearts from time to time. It's a part of human nature, but that doesn't justify our actions. We can and should strive to be better than our baser natures. "The Moment of Truth" should only be on the air for one more moment before being filed away like the bad show it is.

Of course, that would mean we'd have to stop rubbernecking long enough to make that notion a reality.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rethinking the War on Terrorism

It's been going on 7 years since 9/11, putting us on a course that put us in a war against global terrorism. Since I don't think anyone else is doing it, I figured I'd give some thought to how well the war on terrorism is going.

In the aftermath of 9/11, America took a bold step forward to challenge the terrorists, one I still agree with wholeheartedly. Yet, as time has passed, that bold step has been turned into a baby step. We're still fighting the terrorists as we should be doing, but I don't think we really think about the importance of that fact on our daily lives. President Bush, to his credit, told us that it would take a while to win, but we didn't get that. For many Americans, a long time is two weeks.

Like it or not, we got spoiled during the 90s. With the Soviet Union falling, we were the lone superpower in the world, so we did what seemed logical at the time and started to scale back our military operations and retool our thinking. With these actions, we became insulated with a false sense of security while another global threat on the horizon waited for its time to strike. And strike it did.

Once we saw that we weren't as safe as we thought, we woke up for a time. Ah, but with time, political spin from both major parties, and a shortening attention span or perspective on history, many Americans either forgot we were fighting the war on terrorism or merely disregarded it like a year-old advertising slogan. Once this started happening, we started losing the home front in the war on terrorism.

If you were to ask the average American on the street today whether we were winning or losing the war on terrorism, I honestly think the majority would say we were losing. Why? Although we haven't done everything we should be doing (like securing the borders and using more realistic standards for airport security) to combat terrorism, we're at least in the game. That's a step in the right direction, but we need more than a step. We need to be willing and able to fight the terrorists where they are and tell our international critics to sod off.

Unfortunately, we're not doing as much of either as we need to in order to be serious about fighting international terrorism. We're so concerned about fighting the "right" war that we're giving up ground to those who don't share our sense of battlefield fairness. The terrorists can and will use our freedoms and adherence to preserving them where we can against us. In short, while we squabble over whether to shut down Gitmo or whether the PATRIOT Act should be repealed, we're taking our eyes off the terrorists who want us dead.

We're past the point where we can point to one President or another as being to blame for our lack of readiness on 9/11. Looking at the past is only useful as a tool to know what not to do in the future. Instead, we should have our eyes fixed on our eventual goal and the path to get us there.

Yes, dear readers, we need to rethink the war on terrorism, not whether it was a worthy undertaking, but whether we're really fighting it as well as we need to do to survive. And if we're not, we need to figure out how to make it happen so that we do. Our nation's protection, and the protection of the world for that matter, isn't a political football to be tossed around during an election year to help one candidate or another. We need to take the war on terrorism seriously, and that requires us to do some serious rethinking about it to ensure that we're taking it as seriously as required to win it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Clinton-zuma's Revenge?

One of the stories that isn't getting as much play in this election cycle is how Hillary Clinton's campaign has been attractive to Latino voters. At this point, it may be a moot point.

Or is it?

Think about it for a moment. Democrats have been setting the stage for illegal immigrants to be given the same voting power as we do. Thanks to Motor Voter (an initiative that allows people to register to vote at the same time they get their driver's license, thanks to...Bill Clinton), illegal immigrants can register to vote. With attentiveness at polling places being less than Britney Spears at a parenting class, nobody's checking whether these folks are legitimate. They're too busy trying to get the all-Spanish ballots, after all.

Now, consider the fact that there are millions of illegal immigrants streaming into this country. That's a pretty big voting bloc, one that won't be ignored by a candidate as savvy as Hillary. (And, yes, that's even counting the blunders she's made with campaign staff and finances.) But you don't have to be a political guru to look at illegal immigrants and the Latino voters who love them as a potentially powerful political force.

Hillary has done a great, yet understated, job at attracting these voters to her campaign. Then, the question becomes whether these voters would go for Obama if Hillary were to drop out or not win the nomination. If they're anything like the other voters on Hillary's side, their loyalty will be fierce. That will deprive Obama of millions of votes in an election where Democrats are hoping to get the White House back. Every vote that Obama loses will put him that much more in the hole when going up against someone who might be able to draw on the center-right crowd Obama's hoping to get.

In short, if things play out like they have so far, Obama may win the nomination, but lose the general election, thanks to Hillary Clinton working to get the Latino vote. Then, in 2012, Hillary has a ready-made voting bloc that only she will be able to deliver.

Montezuma's Revenge is kinder than this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley and the State of Conservatism

With today's passing of William F. Buckley, arguably the father of conservatism as we know it today, there are a lot of column inches being spent in tribute. This won't be one of them, not because I don't think Buckley is worthy of a tribute I wrote, but because I don't think I'm worthy to write one.

Instead, we need to look ahead at where conservatism goes from here. It's morbid, but it has to be done. With Buckley's death, conservatism has lost one of the guiding voices and minds of the movement. This leaves conservatism in a bit of a lurch at a time when the debate over its heart and soul needs to be lively.

Who can we look to as the new standard bearer? Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? Glenn Beck? Michael Savage? They and their talk radio brethren can help to fill some of the void, but they fall short. This isn't a knock against them by any means. It's a testament to the impact Buckley had on conservatism as a whole. I'm sure the "next Buckley" is out there somewhere, and we will need him or her now more than ever because there are people attempting to reshape it in their own image.

Granted, everybody on the right will have a different view on what constitutes a conservative ideology, and that's fine to a point. However, what we're seeing right now isn't a difference of opinion; it's a radical redesign of conservatism. When self-styled conservatives start supporting big government, overspending, and the erosion of property rights, that's where I draw the line. Those folks are no more conservative than Cindy Sheehan is. Yet, that's what we're being presented as "conservative" by those looking to water down what conservatism is.

With Buckley's death, true conservatives now have a lot of ground to make up. But as long as there are people who believe in smaller government, lower taxes, and respect for the individual over the state, Buckley will live on.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Coming Apart at the Seems

If no other lesson can be learned from Election 2008, it's that one cannot count on appearances as an indication of possible success.

Remember January 2008? It was almost 2 months ago, but it's seen the coming and going of the dreams of some of the people we thought we be locks for their respective parties' nominations. Hillary Clinton seemed to have the money and the political machine to waltz to the nomination, as did Mitt Romney. Now, the latter is out and the former is all but out.

It seemed Mike Huckabee and John McCain were also-rans who no one would vote for in a million years. Now, both are still in the race, as is Ron Paul.

Barack Obama seemed like a long shot to take on Hillary. Now, he's whupping up on her like a child getting spanked for taking a cookie from the cookie jar before dinner.

Bill Clinton seemed like an invaluable asset for Hillary's campaign. Now, he's pretty much seen as 3/5 of the word (and you can guess which three letters I'm referring to).

It seemed that the Clinton political machine was well-oiled, well-funded, and well-schooled on how to win. With recent reports of how much Hillary spent early on because she and her campaign felt the nomination was all but hers, it's clear all three notions were not based on anything but wishful thinking or an overestimation of her abilities.

Modern politics is all about projecting an image to the voters. Yet, as we've seen so far, image is a poor substitute for reality. As we get closer to narrowing down our choices for President, it would be good for us all to remember that.

A New Post from Stella Rondo

Now that it looks like Hillary Clinton may be swept aside inthe presidential race, let’s look at this story’s larger implications.

Hillary was supposed to be a different kind of woman. THE Woman, the woman who would change the rules of history, who would smash the ultimate glass ceiling and enter history as proof positive that America has put its sexist past behind it and would enter the new century with new enlightened progressive leadership.

And yet, who would have heard of Hillary Clinton had it notbeen for her husband? She had a modest career as a lawyer, but nothing that a lot of lawyers haven’t had - time in a firm, cranking out the billable hours. So yes, she had some minor accomplishments on her own, but her appearance on the public scene really came with the election of her husband as governor of Arkansas. She was not lieutenant governor, nor was she a member of the governor’s cabinet. She was the governor’s wife, and as much as she may have chafed against that role, she succumbed to it for his good and, she hoped, ultimately her own.

She claims 35 years of experience “advocating” for her pet concerns. But what she calls “experience”, most women would just call “living”. What she calls “advocating”, most women would just call “talking”. Being a mother confers nothing unusual either. It is something literally billions of women have done throughout history, many with much less education and money and in more trying circumstances than she. Fighting for the rights of someone unfortunate is something that many women do frequently and without fanfare, often on a volunteer basis.

Maybe there was a devil’s bargain between Hillary and Bill. If she would overlook his personal foibles and just sacrifice for him a little longer, he would help her get what she wanted- the ultimate political prize. But it’s gone terribly awry. Surprising, considering how for years we all have heard how Hillary is smarter and shrewder and craftier than even Bill.

Which raises the specter of the Awful Truth. When all is said and done, Hillary Clinton has turned out to be just another woman who got her power the old fashioned way. She slept with it, and she married it. And her story is one of the oldest in the world. She sacrificed her life for the sake of a man, expecting love and reward in return, and was instead passed over for a younger model. A younger male model, no less.

What ultimately is extraordinary about Hillary Clinton isthat for all her protestations of experience and vision and sacrifice and service, how very, very ordinary her life really has been.