Thursday, October 21, 2004

A Sorry State of Affairs

Instapundit links Reason Online's presidential poll, and I have to say that with a few notable exeptions, I have never read such a pathetic disdain for the political process that sustains this country. Person after person talks about protest votes, voting against people, 3rd party picks, no differences between the candidates, and all sorts of other apolitical whining.

It's thinking like this that leaves the political process so vacant in their eyes. People who are principled like this, with the exception of the few anarchists and politics haters, are exactly who should be in the political process. Most seem to be frustrated libertarians, but it's attitudes like this that, as Glenn Reynolds says in his post, don't endear people to them. But more importantly, it's these attitudes that will prevent them from ever being satisfied even the least bit with the system of government our Founders bequeathed to us. Our government requires participation and input to work correctly and well.

This is not to say that they're not right about a lot. Has government grown out of control? Without question. Are the choices of candidates occasionally frustrating? Certainly. Are there myriad problems with the political process including (but not limited to) corruption, insincerity, ineffectiveness, and insufficient respect for the Constitution? Absolutely. But to me, these are all reasons to get more involved, not less. It just disgusts me that so many ostensibly intelligent people have given up so completely on politics in America. I can understand the disgust with the two main parties, but as Eugene Volokh wisely writes, "I certainly find plenty to disagree with the Republicans even on those topics, but if I waited for a party with which I agreed on everything or even almost everything, I’d be waiting a long time."

I'm a staunch Republican, but I'm a conservative/constitutionalist/libertarian mush of principles first, and a GOPer second. I support Bush, but he's not my ideal candidate, and never was. But he's much preferable to a McCain, a Gore, or a Kerry and he still stands for many of my principles, though certainly not all. That's why I'm intensely frustrated with Orrin Hatch, who I think is generally right on about many domestic and foreign issues, but I cannot abide his horrible laws about the internet. That's why I supported Pat Toomey, a principled conservative, in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary over the essentially liberal in all but party Arlen Specter. That's why I respect John McCain (though my frequent complaints about him don't reflect that) for his service and many of his views, but would never vote for him because he is a media darling first, and a conservative second.

Still, I find it is much better to work within a party and a government that on balance I like the majority of the time than to just declare it all hopeless and disconnect, to let the country drift in some awful direction.

Read the whole Reason piece, so you can see just how bad this disconnect is with the people it interviewed. Of course, don't miss the few gems, including Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, PJ O'Rourke, who was very clever in his responses (and should be worshipped for writing in "Chairman Meow" on a ballot), and Dave Kopel. Yes, they are all voting for Bush, but they also stood out beyond that.

Despite the problems, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many people named their favorite president as Calvin Coolidge, who was a hero of Ronald Reagan's. I also admire the choices of the few people who put FDR, George washington, or Abraham Lincoln. I was a little disappointed that not one person picked TR or Ronald Reagan, or even JFK. Fortunately, there were no Clintons, Carters, or LBJs. As much as I admire Eisenhower and Jefferson, I think they're too easy to pick for populist reasons. I would have applauded anyone with the guts to say Jackson, Madison, Truman, or GWB.

Rock the Vote????????????

A evangelical group has started a tour called Redeem the vote whose goal is to promote conservative ideas in the way that rock the vote does liberal. Jim Cavizel is one of the primary movers behind the group and is helping to not just get vote registration but make a better effort at voter turnout. It is nice to see a voter group focusing on getting turnout as a part. The Rock the Vote tour that came to Lehigh was a dismal failure with 200 people in attendance. Now this is due to many reasons mostly on the rock the vote side. There was no advance notice of bands and no big names were present to draw a crowd. The sheer liberalness of the group is just abominable and MTV in general pisses me off. I wish they would stick to music videos like they originally were and it will take an MTV 3 before we see it again. Like ESPN they will diverge from their original goal and need a new station( see ESPNU). Regardless of this new group has registered 70,000 people and hopefully will show a higher turnout rate than the more liberal Rock theVote!!

News Items

Not a very long post on these next two but just items in the news

The fact that both sides have lawyers ready to go in Florida and around the country really just disturbs me and I think both sides should be condemned for it. This was not the way our voting system was intended to be and while I think this early voting is a terrible idea of unequal proportions there is nothing at this point that can be done except hope for the best.

Fregans are the next item. This is an anti consumer group who goes dumpster diving for food and other goods. These people are not poor but they want to show how the waste in America is. Personally I think they are nuts and should just get a real life but it does not really matter much at this point.

PA Senate Debate

On Sunday of pacing break the candidates for PA Senate held a debate and raised some interesting points. I will break it down by candidate for simplicities sake.

Elizabeth Sommers: Libertarian Candidate. This woman looked like a tanned zombie with botox. She was very scary and actually succeeded in making Arlen Specter look almost human. She spouted a whole lot of nonsense and was basically ignored by all the other candidates. I did not see the beginning of the debate but for the entire 45 min that I watched she was not once acknowledged by any candidate there.

Joe Hoeffel: This is the democrats candidate who spent all of his time attacking Arlen Specter and pointing out how this man has done nothing but use pork barrel spending and attach his name to bill’s that mean nothing. At one point specter said the only bill Hoeffel had initiated was naming a post office to which Hoeffel replied he would rather have that record than Specters.

Arlen Specter: This man once again came off as a complete and utter idiot who simply made a fool of himself. He quoted statistic after statistic and his only defense on the steel tariff was a quote of himself which Hoeffel did a nice job of making Specter look like a fool for that. Specter tried to paint himself as the conservative of the group but his answers were as flip flopish as John Kerry.

Clymer: not the best public speaker of the group but the one who made the most sense. He always referred to his opponents on the left (Specter and Hoeffel). I think this man could cost specter the election and he will be getting my vote. He would be a great deal more effective if he was a better public speaker. He points out many of the blatant pork barrel spending by Specter and the foolish health policies of both Specter and Hoeffel. Needless to say if you are looking for the conservative look no further.

I Love This Analogy

Critiquing another litany of complaints by Andrew Sullivan taken right out of the liberal laundry list, Steve of Secure Liberty makes this analogy about Bush and the rest of the world believing Iraq had WMDs: "To fault Bush for acting on that information is like faulting Columbus for believing that India lay to the west of Europe. In both cases, good things came from bold action, even if the initial premise proved to be wrong."

The rest of Steve's post is good reading, and even moreso is the Instapundit post that linked to Steve, which looks at the different prisms through which mainstream media reporters and bloggers view Iraq.

George Will Brings Some Sanity

He has an excellent column today about all the nonsense surrounding voting that stems from Florida. Will nails it by discussing the responsibilities of voters, rather than the various rights being claimed for them all over the country.

Money quote:

Can liberals accept that an undervote usually reflects either voter carelessness, for which the voter suffers the condign punishment of an unrecorded preference, or reflects the voter's choice not to express a preference? No, otherwise they would not be liberals: obsessive about rights, blind to responsibilities.
The link goes to the Washington Post, which requires registration, but it should be up on soon, so try there later.

Moronic Controversies

Apparently, the Kerry campaign is complaining about the news that Dick Cheney got a flu shot. If you're asking yourself, "So?" congratulations, you are sane. The Kerry people whine about the administration talking about a shortage and then, horror of horrors, using some of the vaccine for itself. They also took issue with Bill Frist and John Snow getting shots. Hannity pointed out that they seem to have missed the fact that Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer got shots as well.

But more to the point, the man is the Vice President, for God's sake. I mean, really, that should end the argument right there. He got a flu shot because he's next in line to the presidency! The President should get one, too, (although he said he won't) along with the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leaders in the House and Senate. These people don't get shots because they're richer or more powerful than you or me; they get shots because they are the duly elected leaders of our government. Their good health is important to the security and effective governance of our country! If they want every member of Congress and the Cabinet to get one, too, go for it!

And even if that's not sufficient justification, Cheney has a heart condition! Bill Clinton rightfully got one because he just had major surgery. This is just ridiculous.

In fact, more people are worried about flu shots simply because there's a shortage of vaccine and the media keeps harping on that with panicked news stories. The hysteria over all of this is exacerbating what is not a major crisis. People need to get a grip and focus on one of the thousands of other critical issues in the next two weeks. Whether or not the Vice President got a shot is not among them.

Today's Experiment: Operation Clark County... FAILED

Well, the letters from British Bush-haters began pouring into Clark County, Ohio recently and the residents are none-too-happy to be told how to vote by foreigners, according to a story in the Telegraph.

The first letters to be made public all urged Clark County voters to reject Mr Bush. As he watched the reaction of friends and neighbours, [Dan] Harkins was delighted.

He is the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, and his neighbours' reaction was outrage. "It's hysterical," laughed Mr Harkins, showing off sheaves of incensed e-mails and notes from local voters.
As I suspected, this is demonstrating the world's, but especially Europe's, fundamental misunderstanding of Americans. They do not look kindly on others telling them what to do, and especially on outsiders telling them how they should cast their votes. Americans may not always appreciate their right to vote, but average Americans (not ultra-liberals or elitists) value American independence. Unlike Jimmy Carter, most Americans believe strongly in the values of the American Revolution: liberty, republicanism (small-r), governments deriving their powers from the "consent of the governed," and independence. This is why people do not look positively on John Kerry's French Connection, nor Teresa's multi-lingual cosmopolitanism, nor on the Guardian's efforts to sway American votes using British letter-writers.

This is not to say that people can't hold valid opinions on foreign elections. I strongly support John Howard and Junichiro Koizumi. I also tend to support the Tories in Britain (though I have nothing but admiration, respect, and gratitude for Tony Blair), the conservative coalitions in Germany (the name of whose recent opponent to Schroeder I forget), the DPP in Taiwan and the more conservative party in Canada (whose name I also embarassingly forget at the moment). However, I can't imagine actually writing letters to voters in those countries, urging them to vote one way or another. And even saying that, the Guardian readers in Britain are welcome to write to whomever they want, it's just that Americans in particular do not look kindly on such advice, and it seems that their plan has backfired.

I think the irate Texan in the story summed things up pretty well:
Across America, the Guardian project has sparked disdain from the Right, and dismay from Kerry campaigners. Coverage in the US media has stressed the risks of offending voters. Furious e-mails have reached the Guardian, such as this one from Texas, stating: "Real Americans aren't interested in your pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions."

(Via Power Line)

Super-ultra bonus props to anyone who can identify the reference in the title of this post.

The Other Senator from Pennsylvania

Yesterday, Senator Rick Santorum visited my alma mater during a prayer service and talked to the students about pro-life issues. I wanted to go, but I had class in the morning. I had a very important question to ask him, which I think I will do via e-mail.

One of the three questions he was able to take centered on stem cell research and he said a few things I didn't know before:

1.) The way he described the different "lines" of embryonic stems cells to the kids was that around the country, there are 3,500 "kits" of these embryonic stems cells currently available for research. Of those 3,500, scientists have only been using 500 and he made it sound like there's no reason why the other 3,000 couldn't be used.

2.) According to Santorum, the government has not banned further use of embryonic stem cells. It just decided not to federally fund it, and there's a big difference between preventing further research and refusing to give scientists some of my tax dollars for that little project. Given the way the media hypes it up, I thought Bush had said no more new lines, not "we aren't going to fund more research". Of course, I would still prefer banning it to not giving it any money.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Remember Those "Foreign Leaders?"

Kerry seems to be getting one ringing endordement after another. First, the North Korean state media started ripping on Bush, then the world-renowned bitter anti-Semite, Matahir Mohammad (I'm certain I didn't spell his first name correctly), former Malaysian prime minister came out in favor of Kerry. Jaques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder both look favorably on him and now he's got that most coveted of endorsements, Yassir Arafat.

And at the same time Kerry is getting endorsements from thugs and terrorists, those he is ostensibly courting are rebuking him. Vladimir Putin thinks it would be a mistake to not re-elect Bush and the Poland has grown tired of Kerry's constant denigration of its role in the War on Terror. Australians re-elected John Howard and Afghanis re-elected Hamid Karzai (yes, elected!). France and Germany have confirmed they will not send troops, no matter how many summits Kerry holds. Meanwhile, international peacekeepers in Haiti have complained that Kerry's praise of the ousted corrupt Aristide has increased the violence of his supporters, hoping that a Kerry victory would enable his return.

So Kerry has demonstrated the ability to gain the praise of the dregs of the global community, alienate those he hopes to draw closer to, and misjudged people who already support him. Yeah, I want this guy running US foreign policy.

On the other hand, maybe he should be worried about the people at home who support him, like Jimmy Carter.

I wonder...

Is it just John Kerry who is incompetant, or is it his entire campaign staff? Could anyone in his campaign possibly be thinking straight when they let him start speaking French in front of a crowd in Florida yesterday? I mean, it's conceivable that Kerry is this out of touch, since he seems to be when it comes to everything else, but come on, out of Mary Beth Cahill, Begala, Carville, Lockhart, etc, SOMEbody must have realized that this was a horrible move.

France was not a popular country among Americans before the Iraq war and oil-for-food (aka UNSCAM), but it has since become dismally unpopular. Now, there are plenty of hardcore leftists out there who love France, usually the types who can be seen an anti-war protests waving Palestinian, Cuban, or North Korean flags, and they make up a portion of his base. Well, they're part of the base of Bush-haters, as opposed to Kerry supporters. But Kerry doesn't need to appeal to these people. Kerry needs to appeal to the mystical "undecideds" and "swing voters." In case nobody in the Kerry campaign has figured it out, speaking French is NOT the way to appeal to John and Jane Voter.

Americans as a whole have a dim view of Europe (unless you're a Richard Holbrooke would-be EUrocrat or snooty "Americans are so dumb" UNophile type) and an even dimmer view of foreigners telling us what to do. That seems to be Europe's goal as of late, and most people, especially in fly-over country, are not sympathetic to that idea. So, this is really Kerry shooting himself in the foot.

But what makes this even more amazing are the obvious (and correct) Republican efforts to paint John Kerry as the "Frenchurian Candidate" (credit to Rush Limbaugh). Without even opening his mouth, Kerry sort of exudes the aire of a snobby French leader, so to have French come out of it... really not helpful. People already are leery of his wife, who speaks 5 different langauges on the stump. If you'e going campaigning in the US and you want to show your foreign langauge prowess, speak Spanish, because it's probably marginally more endearing to Hispanic voters than it turns off people who just don't want to hear that. But to go and speak French, the language of probably the most reviled nation in the United States today, after Iran and North Korea, is just politically moronic.

Perhps, though, it's that Kerry and his advisors really are this detcahed and blind. Hugh Hewitt described Kerry on his radio show today saying, "He is so oblivious of the ordinary rhythms of America." That is exactly the problem that most people who don't follow the issues have with Kerry. He just did a wonderful job of reinforcing that. Personally, I'd like to encourage this practice. I think Kerry should open every speech with a little French. But why stop there? He could campaign with big pictures of de Gaulle and Chirac, French flags and berets and bread everywhere.

Still, though, what the hell were they thinking?