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.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hope 2.0

He's young, attractive, and articulate. He makes crowds go wild with his energy and sheer charisma. He seems to have come from obscurity to the spotlight. Some even say this candidate for President is sexy!

Yep, that Bill Clinton from 1992 was quite the candidate.

If you thought I was referring to Barack Obama just now, that's not by accident. In thinking about Obamamania recently, I flashed back to "The Man from Hope." Back then, it was Bill Clinton who was trying to convince the electorate that we needed change in this country. He offered much of the same high-minded dreams that Obama is today, and got much the same reaction. In 1992, Bill Clinton was the candidate for change.

Now, in 2008, Barack Obama is repeating the success that Clinton enjoyed in 1992. Obama is hopeful, optimistic, and running on the notion that he can bring about the change this country needs. Whether that's because of who he is or merely an attempt to copy what worked in the past, I don't know. But what I do know is that it's working again, and this time Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are the ones resisting the change.

A nice twist of fate to say the least. One of the "co-Presidents" who got into the White House preaching for change is now saying change isn't all it's cracked up to be. And they're the ones trying to beat back the challenge of someone who thinks change and hope are worth fighting for.

And who says this election is boring?

Friday, February 22, 2008

When Is A Sex Scandal NOT A Sex Scandal?

Thursday saw the revelation of a sex scandal involving Republican front-runner John McCain. Nine years ago, it's rumored that McCain was having an affair with a female lobbyist in exchange for his support on certain telecommunications bills in the Senate. And, because Americans are like 13 year old boys when it comes to sex, we focused on the sexual side of the scandal.

Of course, that's not the real issue at hand here. The issue isn't sex with a lobbyist; it's sex with a lobbyist. Let's not forget it was John McCain who made his name as a maverick by bucking his party on lobbyist influence on legislation. As it turns out, the "Straight Talk Express" doesn't talk so straight when it comes to lobbyists. He's been connected to telecommunications lobbyists since the mid-to-late 90s, so this "latest" scandal is nothing new. The sex thing? That's new, but it's the parsley garnish on the blue plate special: for looks only.

So, when is a sex scandal NOT a sex scandal? When it involves John McCain and a lobbyist.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Maybe It's Us

The recent shootings at Northern Illinois University have brought a lot of issues to the forefront. As we look for solutions or reasons why the shootings happened, we'll go over the usual culprets. But there's one that we always seem to overlook.

Maybe it's us.

Yes, we're not the ones who gave the shooter the gun or bought the bullets. We aren't the ones who pushed the shooter to take the actions he did. We aren't the ones who made Northern Illinois University a "gun free zone." Most of the people reading this have no direct connection to the shooter or his actions.

But indirectly, we might have an impact we don't see. Our society has gotten darker since the early 90s, and, no, I don't pin this on Bill Clinton's Presidency. Clinton's ascension was a symptom, not the cause. Thanks to a combination of a seemingly sound economy and the lack of a known enemy, we had no real concerns, so we did what most people would do: we started looking for ways to make our own lives better. And what we did was loosen the morals a bit, make greed and excess cardinal virtues, and let the end all and be all of our existences ourselves.

Now, consider that at the same time we were becoming me-monkeys, there was a corresponding rise in communication technology. Personal computers, online services, cell phones, text messaging, and other advances have made it possible for people to become dehumanized. Also, don't forget the rise in use of video games, especially violent games like "Doom" and "Grand Theft Auto." Again, symptoms, not the cause.

So what is the cause? The environment we created and have not thought through in our rush for bigger SUVs, more expensive coffee, and faster downloads of internet porn. In building up our castles, we have made the walls so strong that few other people can get inside. That creates an echo chamber where the only voice we hear is our own, and the only one we feel answerable to is ourselves.

Could the Northern Illinois University shootings have been prevented by someone breaking through the shooter's personal barriers? I'd like to think so, but it's only speculation at this point. By ignoring our fellow human beings and their needs, even if it comes with a slight inconvenience for us, we make our world a little darker, which only drives some even further inward. What would change this condition?

Maybe it's us.

A Party Divided

Back in 2003, I wrote a column titled "The Impending Democrat War" where I observed how the Democratic Party was starting to come apart at the seams because it had become a loose coalition of special interest groups jockeying for position and power. Now, we're seeing it blowing up in front of our faces with the current rifts in the Democratic ranks.

It shouldn't be such a surprise, though. Modern politics has become less about picking the best man or woman for the job and more about cults of personality. Read the message boards or listen to the chatter among politically-minded people on the left and you'll see and hear the factionalization of the party. If you're a Hillary supporter, you're full-on for Hillary. If you support Obama, he is the only one you'll consider. If you're a Mike Gravel supporter, you're some of the loneliest people on the planet.

To be fair, Republicans have the same problem, but on a smaller scale. There really aren't that many special interest groups within the Republican side, but those that are there can be just as nasty as what we're seeing on the Democratic side right now. Ask John McCain.

The factionalization of the parties is a double-edged sword. Having to appeal to a wider audience than just a few party faithful helps in the general election when you're having to try to pull votes from voters other than the party faithful. On the other hand, the more factions you have, the more people you have to try to bring into the fold...and the more people you can torque off if you don't say and do exactly what they want, or at least pretend like you will. It's a mixed bag, but it's one that both major parties have accepted as a fact of political life.

But it's that fact of political life that is destroying the Democratic Party as we know it. Put simply, neither Hillary nor Obama will be able to unite the party after one of them wins the nomination. When emotions are running as high as they have been in Election 2008, factionalization can lead to a weakened national effort.

The unintended consequences of this impacts the Congressional races this year. Republicans have to defend more seats than Democrats do, but if the emotions of the national race bleed into the Congressional races, we could see Democratic candidates who back Hillary be opposed by Democratic candidates who back Obama sparring for the nomination and then having to try to court those same voters in an attempt to win, which may not be possible. Many Republicans may win in November simply because they didn't have to put up with so much in-fighting.

Either way, the Democrats are faced with a dilemma. Either they have to force a change in their party, or it will be destroyed. To be honest, I don't see them being able to pull up out of this death dive because they're too focused on the short term goal of winning the White House to see that winning the White House but losing the party is a pyrric victory. But it may take a pyrric victory or a crushing defeat for cooler heads to prevail.

And from the way it looks right now, Democrats are in for one or the other sooner than they think.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What If...

Marvel Comics used to have a regular series titled "What If?" where they took important storylines in their characters' comics and figure out what would have happened if something else had happened. Watching the current struggles within the Democratic Party, I decided to do my own little "What If?" And it starts in 1996. What if Bob Dole had defeated Bill Clinton?

The Dole Presidency would be one term, but it would be significant in a couple of ways. First, assuming the world situation remained the same, he would have taken Osama Bin Laden when he was first offered and not refused him on the basis of a lack of legal grounds to hold him. Dole's anti-terrorism policy would not be as broad or as detailed as the current policy is, but it wouldn't pass up a chance to take out a known terrorist leader. Second, Dole would not have sent troops into Kosovo, which would have saved America money and prevented us from helping Islamic terrorism. Would 9/11 have still happened? Maybe, maybe not. But Dole's Presidency would have been much stronger than Clinton's real second term.

Dole's 96 victory would have had another impact: it would have knocked Bill and Hillary Clinton, and possibly even Al Gore, out of the political arena. This would have prevented Hillary from being elected junior Senator of New York State, and Bill would have been relegated to also-ran status. Gore might have stayed in for a bit longer, but probably would have dropped out and started working on his global warming presentations a bit earlier. The loss of these three individuals alone from the Democratic side of the aisle would have a monumental impact.

During the Dole Presidency, the Republican-led Congress would drift towards the center to match Dole's more moderate views. Without a Clinton impeachment to deal with, Republicans would pretty much have kept things going the way they had been, which would have accellerated their fall from power as it occurred in reality in 2006. Conservative voters would be marginalized and moderate to liberal Republicans would be taking over.

Critical mass for the GOP would occur in 2000 when it would be Bob Dole running against Bill Bradley. Bradley's progressive populism would be more of a match for Dole and Bradley would win going away. With him, the Democrats in Congress would move in Bradley's direction, leaving the Republicans in a tough spot. Even with Newt Gingrich rallying the Republicans and the conservatives, the party loses control of Congress and ends the 1994 Republican Revolution.

Bradley's first term signals a change in the way Washington, or at the very least the President, does business. The American public gets a sense that the Democrats are once again the party of the little guy, not just in rhetoric, but in deed. The infighting we're seeing now within real Democratic ranks would be mostly contained and not that big or that often. With the Republican Party in disarray, the Democrats would have a solid grip on Congress yet again.

Then, 2004 rolls around and President Bradley would face up against either a moderate Republican like John McCain or a moderate Republican running as a conservative Republican like George W. Bush. In either case, Bradley wins again, continuing his progressive populist message. After all, people would be comfortable with the idea, so why change? Bradley's success, in turn, inspires a state Senator from Illinois to throw his hat into the ring in 2008. And that man becomes President Barack Obama.

Granted, this is a combination of assumptions, guesswork, and a little political knowledge, but it's interesting to try to figure out how one election could have such an impact on an election 12 years later. What I predicted would have happened is not perfect, nor would it have come to pass. But I am open to suggestions or points that I neglected to factor into my thinking. As it stands, though, 1996 was a year that could have changed the political environment forever if one event had turned out differently than it had.

And Now You Know Why

It's no secret that my opinion of Congress is lower than Mini Me's insole, and it's been that way for a long time. When you look at the history of the Senate and the great names who have walked the halls of the Capitol, the current crop of Congress Critters just don't measure up.

Nothing showcases this more than the recent House hearings about steroids in baseball and the Senate being pulled into recent issues involving the National Football League. We have grown adults in the U. S. Senate actually getting involved in such things as whether the New England Patriots' last regular season game should only be seen on the NFL Network for the love of Pete! Now, they're getting involved in whether the New England Patriots videotaped opponents and whether Major League Baseball players have used steroids and then lied about it.

Am I the only one wondering what issues aren't being covered by Congress right now?

It's not like they couldn't find work to do for the country if they really wanted to. If they can see the "need" to get involved in professional sports issues, I'm sure they have the power to get involved with issues that matter, like saving Social Security or reforming the tax code. You know, stuff that might actually help people?

I think the real reason Congress is getting involved in professional sports issues right now is because they know they can't handle the big issues facing us. Being a politician, especially a Senator, requires significant ego. When you put yourself out there as a politician, people you intend to represent will expect solutions from you. When you can't produce those solutions, it will make you look bad, maybe even make people want to vote against you in the next election. So, it becomes important for the politician to appear to be doing something, anything, that will make him or her look like a leader.

That's why these professional sports issues are tailor made for the House. They can appear on camera, point their fingers at the perps, shame the perps, and watch the electorate respond. But the downside to this is that many Americans are wondering why the Senate's even getting involved with the other issues on our minds. It seems to be a flight of fancy to average Americans dealing with real issues, as well as proof that Congress in general is out of touch with the average American, and the poll numbers reflect how little Americans regard the "good work" the Senate is doing.

I can't speak for the rest of the country, but I can say that I object to Congress sticking its nose into these professional sports issues for a much more basic reason. These are sports we're dealing with here, and the fans have already spoken up about these and other sports issues. In short, we're doing the real work, and our outrage will be heard and felt by Major League Baseball and the NFL in ways Congress don't understand. These are our games, and we want them back. And no stuffed suit in Washington can get them back for us.

And now you know why I have such a disdain for Congress in this case, and in general.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A New Factor in Election 2008?

In an earlier blog post, I noted that Hillary Clinton's 2008 Presidential chances could be tied to how well Nancy Pelosi lead the House of Representatives, and I still think it may have an impact. However, there is something else that came to mind the other day that might have equal, if not more, influence.

If current trends continue, either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, and John McCain will be the Republican nominee. What do all three have in common? They're all U. S. Senators. It's rare that a Senator becomes President, but with this election cycle of strange and unusual events, it's par for the course.

Since the front-runners/prospective nominees are all from the Senate, the Senate's approval rating could have an impact on each candidate. If the Senate is seen doing something constructive (yes, I know it's the Senate we're talking about here, but let's say for the sake of argument it happens), it would buoy the poll numbers of any of the three I mentioned. Furthermore, if that positive change is lead by one of the three, their poll numbers skyrocket overnight. The downside to it is if the Senate does nothing or does something seen as destructive. Then, the Senate would be the last place Obama, Clinton, and McCain would want to be seen. And taking the lead on a controversial or unpopular piece of legislation? Forget about it!

It's not written in stone that the Senate's approval ratings will definitely impact the 2008 Presidential race, but it would be foolish to disregard it out of hand. Regardless of how you feel about them, the three candidates or presumed candidates are all politicians at heart. They will calculate the impact of certain speeches or certain events and spin accordinly. But, they can't escape the fact that they're all from the same branch of government, and if the Senate goes down, they, too, will go down.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm Not Ready to Make Nice

With Mitt Romney dropping out of the Republican race and the remaining Republicans being no real threat to the ascension of John McCain to the nomination, it seems to be pretty much a done deal. McCain sensed this, so he tried to mend fences with the rank and file Republicans at the CPAC convention yesterday. You know, the same rank and file that he's held in such low regard for years?

Now, McCain and his supporters are calling for unity within the Republican Party to try to bring the various factions together to win the White House. Some have bought in, saying it's better to vote for McCain than to let Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama win the White House and choose Supreme Court Justices. Others, like me, are not so easily swayed. I'm in the position I was back in 1994 when I came to a point where I couldn't support Bill Clinton anymore because there were too many things to overlook to continue supporting him.

With McCain, it's 1994 all over again. Whether it's McCain-Feingold or voting against the Bush tax cuts for reasons that have nothing to do with spending cuts or lying about Romney supporting timetables to get out of Iraq, McCain has stabbed the Republican Party in the back so many times the elephant is looking like a pin cushion.

But we're supposed to hold our noses and vote for McCain because he's a Republican and would prevent Hillary or Obama from winning the White House. If you believe this, let me ask you something.

If McCain were a Democrat instead of a Republican, would you be as forgiving of his duplicity?

Somehow, I don't think you would.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday: The Aftermath

Super Tuesday was make-or-break time for Democrats and Republicans. So who got made and who got broken?


- Hillary Clinton. Say what you will about Hillary, she pulled out some big ticket victories on Super Tuesday, and even came from behind or near behind to do it. That includes a win in California, where Hollywood has been less than thrilled with Clinton in recent years. Although she barely beat Barack Obama in the delegate count for the contests yesterday and Obama has taken the lead in the delegate count, she's still seen as the frontrunner, which gives her a boost over her rival.

- Barack Obama. The fact he stayed competetive with Clinton in many states and managed to get 8 fewer delegates than she did shows Obama is a real threat to the Clintons...and to the Republican candidate. The Democratic nomination may still be up in the air after Super Tuesday, but Obama's performance last night guarantees he will be in the hunt for it for a long time yet.

- John McCain. From also-ran to front-runner. At this point, the "Straight Talk Express" is pretty much unstoppable, due in no small part to what appears to be backroom deals with Mike Huckabee's campaign to be a block to Mitt Romney. But he also seems to have built a coalition of liberal and moderate Republicans who want a change from the way the GOP has been run in recent years. To them, McCain represents both change and promise of victory in November.

- Mike Huckabee. He stands no chance of winning, but his actions have put him in a position where McCain owes Huckabee for being a firebreak against Romney. That will help him get a place at the table when McCain starts putting together the ticket or if he gets a chance to put together a Cabinet.


- Mitt Romney. Romney needed to win big to stay viable, and he didn't. But what's more maddening is that the Romney campaign didn't do more to break up what is now seen as the McCain-Huckabee coalition and the media's lack of coverage of Romney's victories. At this point, McCain has a commanding lead and I don't think Romney can pick up enough steam to run the rest of the states to be the nominee. If there is any upside to this, it may set the table for a run in 2012, provided McCain either loses in November or does so horribly that the GOP wants to dump him.

- The Republican Party. This may seem a bit melodramatic, but I don't see how the Republican Party can win in November. I've said that the only way the Democrats can win is through the nomination of John McCain, and lo and behold, that's what Republicans seem to be willing to do. Even with the internal problems being ignored by the Democrats, the Republican Party's problems are only beginning, and they will be magnified by the media.

- Talk radio. The jury's still out on how much talk radio's anti-McCain sentiment hurt Romney, but knowing the mainstream media, it won't matter because they'll say talk radio hurt Romney and proved how ineffective it has become. It's total spin, but it cannot be denied that talk radio may not have done itself any favors prior to Super Tuesday. Ideologically, they were being consistent with their beliefs, which is admirable considering the man they were criticizing has been anything but consistent. From a public relations standpoint, though, it will prove to be a boondoggle for so many talk radio hosts to go after McCain and fail to move the electorate like they used to do.

As promised, I'm going to step away from these types of blog posts at this point because things are pretty much settled for the Republicans and going to be settled for the Democrats soon enough. Now, I'll go back to my true strong suit.

Writing blog posts making more references to "Gigli" than there were people who actually saw the movie.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why Democrats Want McCain to Win the GOP Nomination on Super Tuesday

It's conventional wisdom that the Democrats won't have a clear-cut front-runner coming out of Super Tuesday, but that John McCain could sew up the Republican nomination with enough victories. And no one is cheering more for McCain to wrap it up tonight than the Democrats.

Before you start emailing me wondering what I've been smoking and where you can score some for this weekend, there are a number of reasons why Democrats are hoping McCain does well enough to knock out Mitt Romney. Here are a few of them.

1) Democrat surrogates can start undercutting McCain. We've already seen the initial stages of the attempts to derail the "Straight Talk Express." The Hill and the Washington Post have already published pieces talking about how McCain isn't exactly Mr. Popular in the halls of the Senate. If McCain takes a commanding lead in the delegate count after tonight, watch for more of those stories to come out.

2) More face time for Democrats. Once the Republican nomination is pretty much determined, the media have no need to pay attention to the presumed nominee as much as they did during the campaign. With the Democrats still battling, the media have an easy choice to make. Follow the fighting and reject the Republican.

3) A Republican crisis of conscience. It's no secret that McCain's as popular in the GOP as Michael Moore at an all-you-can-eat buffet. If he's the nominee, the Republican base will have to struggle with voting for the party's nominee or voting their conscience. Given the number of Republicans who have said they won't vote for McCain under any circumstances, an extended time to mull over this situation will cause many Republicans to stay conflicted and break up the current Republican Party as we know it.

4) More time to paint McCain as corrupt. This could go under the first point, but it deserves its own spot because it's one of those things that could destroy McCain's Presidential hopes. Look back at McCain's history in Congress and you'll see a lot of questionable actions that could easily be turned into an attack ad by the Democrats. And just like with the negative news stories mentioned earlier, don't be surprised if some of these stories of corruption start to leak out "all of the sudden."

5) Gives McCain more time to mess up. Give any politician enough time and they will screw up. Whether it's a big problem or a small gaffe depends on the circumstances. If McCain's the nominee and he messes up, I guarantee the media will be there to cover it, analyze it, spin it, and repeat it for days on end. If McCain wins the public relations side of the primary process tonight, the countdown clock towards McCain's screw-up will start.

6) The big question: Can McCain be "swift boated"? Since the 2004 election, Democrats have been looking for an opportunity to nail a Republican with what they perceive that Bush did to John Kerry. With McCain, Democrats will have the chance to get one back for their side. McCain's military hasn't been delved into yet, but trust me Democrat operatives will be, looking for anything to sink McCain.

There are probably others that I didn't mention, but it's clear that Democrat strategists are rubbing their hands together and hoping John McCain makes short work of the rest of the Republican field on Super Tuesday.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Twain Said It Best...

If you listen to segments of the media, it doesn't look good for Republicans and conservatives right now. Some say the Reagan Revolution is dead. Others say conservatism in general is dead. Some say talk radio is losing its influence and is going to be dead. Of course, the American left has been saying this for years, but when you have conservatives saying and believing it, should we take it seriously?

Not so much.

To me, the power of the conservatives has always come from the people. Ronald Reagan touched many people and still is a motivating force in their lives. That's why the Republican candidates were falling over themselves to try to claim the "Reagan Republican" mantle early on. The fact it's not talked about right now is not proof that the Reagan Revolution is dead. When you have Barack Obama talking at least somewhat positively about Reagan as a transformative force in politics (and getting attacked by Democrats for it), it's clear the spirit of the Reagan Revolution is alive and well.

Whether conservatism is dead is another situation where people may be jumping to conclusions. After Election 2006, many people made the mistake of assuming that Democrats winning meant the country was moving to the left. In some races, you could make that argument, but in a good number of races, it was a Democrat running on a more moderate to conservative issues that tilted the balance in those races. The new Democrats in the House especially were more conservative than the Nancy Pelosi wing of the party, which made for some interesting votes to say the least. So, conservatism isn't dead, either.

That leaves talk radio. To say talk radio is on the verge of demise because of what some have said is its declining influence is to ignore the facts. The Republican candidates know talk radio still has some sway with the people or else they wouldn't appear on their shows. When Rush Limbaugh talks about supporting Mitt Romney and people talk about it, talk radio is still relevant. When Mike Huckabee goes after Sean Hannity in speeches, talk radio is still relevant. When Glenn Beck gives air time and space in his online newsletter to the candidates, talk radio is still relevant. When Democrats take time in their speeches to attack talk radio hosts, talk radio is still relevant.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of the Reagan Revolution, conservatism, and talk radio have been greatly exaggerated. It is wishful thinking to think that the outcome of a single election or a single set of circumstances would derail these movements. No matter how much the left and some segments of the right want the Reagan Revolution, conservatism, and talk radio to wither away and die, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

If Brattleboro Wasn't Enough... Berkeley, California, has to prove that they're just as asinine as Brattleboro, Vermont, is.

By a vote of 6-3, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday to tell a U. S. Marines recruiting station in the city that it "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders." Along with that, the Council voted to determine whether its law against sexual orientation discrimination could be applied to the Marines because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Oh, and it gave the green light to anti-war group Code Pink to protest in front of the recruiting station as a means of disrupting the Marines' jobs. In fact, the Council gave Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting from noon to 4 PM once a week.

Okay, where do we begin on this one? There are so many problems with the City Council's decisions that it's hard to pick a starting point. So, let's start with their proclamation that the Marines aren't welcome in Berkeley.

The big question that has to be asked here is what harm is being done by the Marines recruiting station. Does the mere presence of such a station created a hostile environment or promote illegal activity? Contrary to what the Berkeley City Council and the Code Pink crowd believes, it doesn't. Being against the current war effort is not a grounds for preventing Marines from recruiting people to serve on the basis of public nuisance.

However, it can be argued that Code Pink's activity does create a hostile environment by inviting the harassment of the Marines and other people in the neighborhood. The story from the Contra Costa Times website has a quote from a business owner who said the Code Pink protestors were are "aggressive, take up parking spaces, block the sidewalk with their yoga moves, smoke in the doorways, and are noisy." Hmmm...sounds like Code Pink is violating more than a few laws there and is much closer to a public nuisance than the Marines are. Sounds to me like the public in the area disagrees that the Marines are the unwelcome ones.

Next, we have the "don't ask, don't tell" policy being seen as discriminatory. Well, I hate to break this to you, Berkeley City Council, but the Marines didn't come up with that policy. That was initiated by the federal government by one William Jefferson Clinton. The Marines, in this case, are following a lawful order issued by the Commander In Chief, i.e. the President. The Berkeley City Council can urge that this lawful order be changed, but it cannot bring a legal remedy against the Marines for a violation of civil law. And considering the Council is focused only on the Marines and not the entire U. S. military (who must also follow "don't ask, don't tell"), the Council's focusing on the Marines could be considered an attempt to intimidate or harass, which could be against the law, but it certainly hypocritical of the left in Berkeley.

Then, there's the Council granting Code Pink a parking space and a free sound permit. Considering no other group might be allowed those same accomodations, that is certainly a violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law. Would the Berkeley City Council be so nice as to allow a pro life group to set up shop in front of an abortion clinic and give them a free parking spot and a free sound permit? I doubt it. But it should be pointed out that pro life groups have been targeted for restraining orders requiring them to be well away from abortion clinics, and the American left has seen nothing wrong with it. A double standard, mayhaps? Most definitely, and an unconstitutional double standard at that.

In short, the Berkeley City Council overstepped its bounds, ignored the laws on the books, and violated the Constitution's equal protection clause. And all because a majority of the City Council is against the current war effort. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a clear abuse of power. I hope the Marines stay put and turn the legal dogs against the Berkeley City Council, or at the very least that enough citizens are outraged at this that there would be a massive wave of anti-incumbancy fore each and every member of the Council who voted in favor of this travesty. Failing that, perhaps there would be another mechanism to address this situation, like if the city's laws allow for the impeachment of City Council members.

Either way, I'm reminded of a line from a Stealer's Wheel song.

Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you

Given the clowns in Berkeley and the jokers in Brattleboro, VT, I'm glad I'm stuck in the middle of the country.