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At least one source is already calling the early box office for Sicko "healthy" ($1.3 million in 441 theaters on Friday).

UPDATE-2: Weekend total: $4.5 million to finish at No. 9. nationwide (full story here via

An aside: these numbers are approximately five-times weaker than the opening for Fahrenheit 9/11--but still very strong for a documentary.

Considering the pre-opening publicity for the film, which began in earnest a month ago, the high profile of the filmmaker, and the plethora of positive reviews, no one should be surprised at the initial interest in Michael Moore's latest offering.

Having said that, my hunch is, in the end, Sicko will fall well short of expectations (however, even if my prediction comes to pass and the picture goes South, don't hold your breath for much critical press coverage).

The feature-length documentary is receiving a big push from the studio and a first-class ride from the film-reviewing fraternity, many of whom are big fans of Michael Moore's politics and like-minded in their basic assumptions about America, big business and evil Republicans.

However, my prediction is that Sicko will not have legs. Once the usual suspects see the film (and go back and watch it again a few times for the team),* who else is really going to care about this film?

In general, American filmgoers are not fans of the documentary genre. In terms of style, if you have seen one Michael Moore film, you have seen them all. Why would Joe Sixpack and family spend thirty-some dollars to go see a serially angry and malcontented demagogue deliver a heavy-handed and patronizing harangue dripping with sarcasm and a depressingly redundant deep-seated cynicism?

In the bluntest terms, it is unlikely that the work will ever appeal to anyone other than the axis of American liberalism (Hollywood, the mainstream media and academia). One great irony is that the biggest fans of this film will be an elite echelon of Americans who actually enjoy the best health care in the world. Even more ironic, there are actually very few of these ostensibly compassionate humanitarians who will be willing to give up their own premium personal care to stand in line in some national health system so that the "unfortunate" might have more access. In the most practical sense, they are as much against "leveling" as William F. Buckley.

In the end, the hype around Sicko will prove to be another self-indulgent exercise of the American Left. Without seeing the picture, I can already tell you that it is a frontrunner for an Academy Award. Barring a late entry from Al Gore, Michael Moore should have a clear path to another statuette. On the other hand, Moore, who too often listens to his own press and the retinue of fools who encourage his antics, is still not a major player in American politics. He is a major player in Hollywood--but he carries very little weight (no pun intended) in fly-over country.

*UPDATE-1: This exhortation from the Daily Kos explains some of what is happening in re the weekend numbers:

Quoting Kos poster "hopesprings":

So if you want to see SICKO stick around and move into more and better venues, go see it this weekend. If you want all of America to be able to see it easily, go see it. See it again. And tell your friends to see it.

Will the campaign generate enough momentum to attract a wider audience? We'll see. But I stand by hunch.
Category: Media and Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the homepage of Congressman Mike Pence (R) Indiana:

Prohibits FCC From Reviving Fairness Doctrine

Read the full press release on Congressman Pence's website here.

What Happened?

Pence's amendment to the 2008 Financial Services Appropriations bill prohibiting funds from being used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose the Fairness Doctrine passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 309-115.

Is this a big deal?

Not really. The story did not make a big splash. I heard about it on Washington Journal this morning. Having searched the Post and the Times and then Google, the most prominent mention of the amendment I can find is in the Hill. You may read the well-crafted and informative article here.

As the Hill points out, the bill speaks to the 2008 budget, and "there is little danger of the FCC restricting conservative radio while George W. Bush is president."

According to Pence, he intends to "introduce the Broadcaster Freedom Act to ensure that the victory we experienced on the House floor today extends to future generations."

I am less optimistic about that legislation.

Needless to say, the overwhelming vote for the Pence-Hensarling-Flake Amendment may not tell us much, as it was an opportunity to appeal to talk radio listeners without consequences. However, it is instructive to note that over 100 Democrats voted for the bill, which tells me they don't need a weather man to tell which way the wind is blowing in their home districts.

As I said a few days ago in this piece (you may review the entire post here), I am not greatly alarmed by the Democratic saber-rattling on this issue.

Quoting myself:

Such a move would incite a massive popular revolt that would dwarf the grassroots rebellion engendered over immigration. There has never been a more democratic apparatus in American political culture than talk radio, and fly-over country loves and appreciates this conduit to the centers of national power. Perhaps it is true that America grows more apathetic everyday--but an enormous portion of the remaining fighters and patriots listen to talk radio. Red-blooded, Red-State America can be mobilized in a single afternoon.

Dianne Feinstein and Hillary Clinton are foolhardy, indeed, for introducing this hot button subject into the arena. On the other hand, we should not look a gift issue in the mouth. If they want to threaten the conservative base with this scenario--let's kick it around.

Looks to me like Mike Pence and company are wisely kicking it.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
John Podhoretz writes today:

"[T]he parlous decision to revive the dead immigration bill and fight for it, only to see it go down to defeat again, was an act of political suicide from which this White House will not recover."


"[A]s someone out of step with my fellow conservatives on the issue, as someone with a very liberal view of immigration, including illegal immigration...the more I read about the bill, the more it was clear to me it was an unholy mess and that the nation would be far better off without it."

With regret, I agree wholeheartedly with both assertions.

Read the full Podhoretz piece here.
Category: Courts
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
On Saturday, C-SPAN will carry John Roberts in the morning (tentatively scheduled for 9:30 EDT); he will address the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference and review the major decisions of the current Supreme Court term. Following the chief justice's remarks, a roundtable discussion will offer analysis. Discussants set to appear include Duke Law's Walter Dellinger and Akin Gump's Tom Goldstein.

Please note this handy resource from the court's website cataloguing the opinions issued during October Term 2006 here.

On Sunday, 1 July, Michael Barone will be the guest on C-SPAN2's ("Book TV") In Depth, the once-a-month, three-hour interview with a prominent person of letters. Generally, In Depth is a "can't lose" proposition--but Barone seems especially promising. The right-leaning Barone is well known for his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics and his cogent analysis.

Overview of In Depth here.

Specifics about the upcoming discussion with Michael Barone here.

Thanks to Tocqueville for pointing me to the John Roberts programming.
Category: Frivolity
Posted by: A Waco Farmer

Francisco Franco and Immigration Reform 2007 are still dead.

Update: in re Immigration Reform 2007: the reports of its resurrection were greatly exaggerated.
I have ridiculed Good Morning America mercilessly over the course of my brief career as a blogger. No apologies; they have deserved every word of derision--and more. But, fair is fair, and this morning the GMA crew shocked me with their spin on the Elizabeth Edwards story.

This morning's program featured a live interview with Mrs. Edwards. Before Chris Cuomo began his questioning of the candidate's wife, he introduced a critical analysis piece by Jake Tapper as preface. Perhaps cynical or "unfriendly" is a more precise characterization of the report.

The phrases "political stunt" and "Coulter cash" kept coming up. The report questioned the timing of the clash with Coulter (we are up against a contributions accounting deadline) and the hypocrisy of denouncing Coulter but also unabashedly making use of her comments to raise desperately needed "cash" for the campaign.

These are obvious points--and dead on. But you can understand my surprise that they saw the light of day on GMA to be used against a Democratic politician.

You may read the Tapper piece here and also view the subsequent interview.

The line of questioning did not get any easier for Mrs. Edwards. After an obligatory and awkward compliment ("Mrs. Edwards, you are looking robust, today"), Cuomo played a longer clip of the Coulter comments on GMA that initiated this round of name-calling.

The original GMA (6-26) segment here via YouTube.

Note: I am posting the 7:23 full version (not the fifteen second clip that made the rounds). Ms. Coulter alludes to a Bill Maher comment in which he suggested that we would all be better off if Dick Cheney died in a terrorist attack. For what it is worth, you will note that Chris Cuomo did not seem to sense that Ms. Coulter had stepped over the line.

Cuomo to Edwards: "Hearing the quote in context, are you still angry?"

Mrs. Edwards responded with a litany of clichés and indirect answers.

A verbal mosaic (my interpretation of Mrs. Edwards's comments):

--Yes (I am still angry).
--Coulter is evil and she must be confronted
--I don't know or care what Bill Maher said; I am talking about Coulter
--What about the 9-11 widows?
--What about Hillary's "chubby legs"?
--We must stop Ann Coulter--not for us, but for the children

Cuomo: "Is this a political stunt?"

Mrs. Edwards:

--not self-interested, completely altruistic
--must make bold stand for future of America

Cuomo: "Was this a ploy to raise money on the eve of an important fundraising deadline?"

Mrs. Edwards:

--nothing to do with money
--had no idea it might help in polls or fundraising
--only for the children
--Just like I spoke out against racism in the South, I am speaking out against a similar evil

Wow! I was shocked. What had I witnessed?

Later: GMA ran a long puff piece on Hillary Clinton's female staffers: "Hillary Land." It was all cute stories, laughs and pictures of Hillary holding babies.

Now I was less impressed with GMA. Am I too cynical? If so, I cannot help myself. But it dawned on me suddenly why GMA was grilling Mrs. Edwards like she was the wife of a GOP candidate. Could it be that there is room for only one uber-mother in this campaign?
Tony Blair is no longer Prime Minister of Great Britain. I feel melancholy and a bit less safe. He was a person of great strength and character. I felt confident with Blair steady at the helm of the British ship of state, our oldest ally and our next of kin in the international community.

Now he is gone. Perhaps, in time, Gordon Brown will earn our trust and admiration as his predecessor did. We can only hope. But not tonight. Tonight we face the fear of the unknown--an untested new partner in a treacherous moment.

I am also sad for Blair, who drew a raw deal from his home folks. Politics is a funny business. Although Blair resurrected his party's viability and proved a wise and judicious leader, he lost the confidence of his constituents. No one was more articulate or more sincere in defending unpopular policies than Blair, but it was to no avail. For all the pundits and disgruntled conservatives who sigh in exasperation with the President's inability to make his case on Iraq before the American electorate--I say look at Blair. Would it have made any difference?

Finding the right words to say goodbye. Language is an inadequate form of communication, especially so when one wants to speak from the heart and praise a person of heroic proportions. I am at a loss to explain my sense of dread at his passing from the public stage. I am unequal to the challenge of expressing of my depth of feeling for "our PM."

Now the next chapter. Good luck Tony Blair in the new task before you. It is an impossible charge that no mere mortal could accomplish. Having said that, I wish you well and I hold out a modicum of hope that you can make a positive difference.

Godspeed to our right honorable friend.

Painfully aware that my words are insufficient to convey the greatness and genuineness of the man, let me leave you with his parting words.

Blair on politics:

"Some may belittle politics, but we who are engaged in it know that it is where people stand tall. Although I know that it has many harsh contentions, it is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster. If it is, on occasions, the place of low skullduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes. I wish everyone, friend or foe, well. That is that. The end."

Hear, hear.
Category: Media and Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I recently received this gem from Tocqueville:

Don Luskin at the blog "The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid" (among the best out there) reminds us of this idiotic Paul Krugman (a redundancy) quote (it's hard to pick just one), which would hover near the top of any list of the greatest idiotic quotes of all time (the collection of which is perhaps a worthwhile project and we already know where to look):

"I predict that in the years ahead Enron, not Sept. 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society."

--Paul Krugman, January 29, 2002

Wow! How does a lame clown like that get to be a lead columnist at a newspaper that claims some authority? Don't you just love the New York Times? If it weren't there to prove that it exists, I would never credit a mere report of its existence.

Thanks, Tocqueville.
Liberal candidates, columnists and bloggers all across America are asking two questions this morning:

One officially: why do so many media outlets give so much face time to the vituperative queen of calumny, Ann Coulter?

One unofficially: how can we best publicize and exploit the actions of Ann Coulter to our advantage?

As for the latter question, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of candidate for president, John Edwards, with the aid of Chris Matthews, knocked one out of the park last night on Hardball.

This morning the leftwing blogs are all abuzz with the big political score. Shakespeare's Sister here is typical with this headline: "Elizabeth Edwards Smacks Down Ann Coulter." And this encouragement: "Go get her, Elizabeth." On Coulter: "she really is a soulless beast."

An aside: Over at Shakespeare's Sister, evidently, they really hate hate speech, so much so that there is a warning to friendly commenters not to call Coulter a "tranny."

What Happened on Hardball?

In an extremely cheesy and clumsily orchestrated moment worthy of Jerry Springer, Elizabeth Edwards called in to the show to confront the longtime John Edwards tormentor (view the YouTube here).

Mrs. Edwards, are you there? A pause. Is she there? What will she say? Wow! This is great TV.

"Stop the personal attacks!" Mrs. Edwards says. All these personal attacks are ruining the country.

An aside: is Mrs. Edwards calling for a new standard by which candidates and prominent figures should be judged? If so, she is advocating a revolution. How much ad hominem will need to be stricken from the record in re George Bush? And the next GOP candidate?

Does Ann Coulter have a point?

It is incumbent on candidates of personal tragedy to avoid making said tragedy a central part of their campaign. Elizabeth Edwards is battling a form of incurable cancer. John and Elizabeth Edwards tragically lost a young son.

Are the Edwards's prone to converting their tragedies into political capital? As Coulter pointed out, they are currently using Coulter's comments on their website to raise money. Does this "unplanned" attack, of which Mrs. Edwards claims the candidate knew nothing, play well? I think it does. Is it a publicity stunt? Who knows.

An Aside: The assertion that the Edwards brain trust did not approve this call into Chris Mathews stretches my credulity.

Is Ann Coulter a soulless beast debasing our political dialogue?

Quoting myself, quoting myself, quoting myself (this actually goes back to March of 2006):

"I think [Ms. Coulter] is often uproariously funny and sometimes very insightful, but I also think she can be crude and mean-spirited. Although I give her credit for outwitting Katie Couric (in all seriousness, that was a bravura performance), I think Coulter is something akin to our Maureen Dowd (funny, attractive, possessing a rapier wit but lacking compassion and judgment). Ann Coulter, for me, will forever be the woman who judged John Roberts unfit for the Supreme Court and attempted to reinvent Joe McCarthy as a great American hero."

In a nutshell: Ann Coulter is serially inappropriate and often completely erroneous.

She drew sufficient ire from conservatives following the last run-in with Edwards. Back then I refused to sign the Conservative Bloggers Anti-Ann Coulter Online Petition for reasons you may review here.

Having said that, my guess is that conservatives, many of whom are still waking up to this blow-up (in general, we are not regular Hardball viewers or Ann Coulter watchers), will, in fact, rally around the right to say intemperate things and react against the staged-hit aspects of this particular encounter.
Category: US in Iraq
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the floor of the United States Senate on the evening of June 25:

Senator Richard Lugar, (R) Indiana, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"I rise today to offer observations on the continuing involvement of the United States in Iraq. In my judgment, our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond."

Read the full speech here.


"The prospects that the current surge strategy will succeed in the way originally envisioned by the President are very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate."

"The current debate on Iraq in being driven by partisan calculations...[and does not] addresses our vital interests...."

"[We must all] make adjustments to [our] thinking. Each of us should take a step back from the sloganeering rhetoric and political opportunism that has sometimes characterized this debate."

"[W]e do have viable options that could strengthen our position in the Middle East, and reduce the prospect of terrorism, regional war, and other calamities. But seizing these opportunities will require the President to [change policies, and i]t will also require members of Congress to be receptive to overtures by the President to construct a new policy outside the binary choice of surge versus withdrawal. We don’t owe the President our unquestioning agreement, but we do owe him and the American people our constructive engagement."

The Plan? Read the full speech here.

In a nutshell:

1. In terms of the timetables, admit that the Iraqi reality does not conform to the domestic American political reality.

2. Redeploy, refresh and rebuild.

3. Protect American vital interest in four basic areas:

--no safe haven for terrorism

--prevent regional instability

--check the rising influence of Iran

--restore American credibility and influence in the region

The surge is not working.

Key Quote: "Its failure, without a careful transition to a back-up policy would intensify our loss of credibility. It uses tremendous amounts of resources that cannot be employed in other ways to secure our objectives. And it lacks domestic support that is necessary to sustain a policy of this type."

Total withdrawal is a disaster.

--risks a wider regional conflict stimulated by Sunni-Shia tensions
--severe blow to U.S. credibility
--potential for armed conflict between Turkey and Kurds
--exposes our loyal Iraqi friends to retribution
--refugee flows
--economic and development projects currently underway
--Iraqi territory will be used as a terrorist base.

Withdrawal more complicated than the slogans imply.

Key Quote: "An immediate withdrawal aimed at getting out of Iraq as fast as possible would take six months. A carefully planned withdrawal that sought to preserve as much American equipment as possible, protect Iraqis who have worked with us, continue anti-terrorist operations during the withdrawal period, and minimize negative regional consequences would take months longer."

4. Downsize and redeploy (to areas outside of Iraqi urban areas as well as outside of Iraq)

5. Replace the sagging military strategy with a diplomatic offensive

6. Solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and reduce dependence on Persian Gulf oil

In conclusion:

We must change policy. We must come together.

End coverage of speech.

A couple of questions immediately arise in my mind:

1. I suspect the hand of Robert Gates in all this. Is the President behind this monumental speech from the Senate floor? If so, it is a very positive development.

2. If this signals that the President is willing to consider a "thoughtful Plan B," are the Democrats willing to forego political advantage to save the country?

UPDATE: Lugar's current analysis does not ignore the reasons why we are where we are. Here for your review is my previous summary "Restating our Rationale for War."

Also, for extended Bosque Boys conversations on our policy in Iraq click here and scroll down.
Category: Media and Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
"Let not your heart be troubled."

This is an oft-repeated Sean-Hannity-ism, which he offers up to frantic callers predicting the end of the world (or, worse, the end of GOP dominance in Washington).

However, these days it is Sean who is convinced that the sky is falling, and he has a whole host of prominent conservatives ringing the same note.

Why is Sean Hannity so frazzled? The Democrats are attempting to resurrect the "Fairness Doctrine," which would end conservative talk radio as we know it.

Sean, let not your heart be troubled.

I completely agree that the old "Fairness Doctrine" (which was definitely doctrinaire--but not at all fair) stifled conservative opposition. I agree that a return of the erroneously titled "Fairness Doctrine" would mean a mortal blow to free speech in this country. And I agree that the Democrats would re-enact the hated ancien regime in a heart beat--if they could.

But now the good news--they can't. Not now. Not for a long time. Maybe not ever.

Regardless of Trent Lott's intemperate remarks recently, it is nearly impossible to imagine a United States Senate so dominated by Democrats in which legislation to reinstitute the "Fairness Doctrine" could muster anywhere near the sixty votes needed to pass. And, while a more significant worry might be a Clinton-44 FCC re-regulating the airwaves, such an attempt to capture the conservative genie and return it back to the bottle would face a dubious judiciary chocked full of free-speech-supporting conservative appointees.

Most importantly, such a move would incite a massive popular revolt that would dwarf the grassroots rebellion engendered over immigration. There has never been a more democratic apparatus in American political culture than talk radio, and fly-over country loves and appreciates this conduit to the centers of national power. Perhaps it is true that America grows more apathetic everyday--but an enormous portion of the remaining fighters and patriots listen to talk radio. Red-blooded, Red-State America can be mobilized in a single afternoon. I pity the fool who takes them on.

Dianne Feinstein and Hillary Clinton are foolhardy, indeed, for introducing this red meat subject into the arena. On the other hand, we should not look a gift issue in the mouth. If they want to threaten the conservative base with this scenario--let's kick it around.
More notes on the "6th Annual Making of America Issue" of TIME Magazine, which features a "new take on JFK."

The special issue asserts that we have much to "learn from JFK." In addition to understanding "how to lead in a dangerous world," and "what candidates should say about faith," we can also come to understand, through a careful study of the 35th president, exactly "why civil rights can't be compromised."

I am critical of TIME and this project in terms of editorial judgment, methodology and objectivity. You may read those introductory comments and a skeptical appraisal of TIME's hagiographic depiction of Kennedy as a foreign policy visionary in my previous post here.

Part II (from the TIME headline): A Slow Road to Civil Rights:

"As President, Kennedy initially moved cautiously on segregation. But by the spring of 1963, he knew that more was needed."

Read the article (by Robert Dallek) in its entirety here.

Dallek's thesis:

"[The] Kennedys—John and [Bobby]—have been given too little credit for progress on resolving America's oldest and greatest social divide. Even if J.F.K.'s passion for the cause came late, it made it possible for his successor, Lyndon Johnson, a white Texan, to become the architect of desegregation."

Dallek, a noted public intellectual and celebrated biographer of JFK and LBJ, seems in a good position to offer special insight and perspective on this topic.

However, Dallek's account omits events absolutely essential to a full understanding of the story (events, unfortunately, that conflict with his thesis). His negligence is so egregious, in fact, that the narrative comes very near to historical malpractice.

Dallek rightly prefaces his reappraisal with the admission that "historians have tended to believe that little more than political cynicism ever animated John Kennedy's response to civil rights."

Dallek further acknowledges:

Kennedy was reluctant to support civil rights legislation before his election (Civil Rights Act of 1957) and afterwards.

Kennedy ignored civil rights in his famously idealistic stirring Inaugural Address.

Kennedy broke a campaign promise to civil rights leaders to sign an Executive Order to desegregate federally financed housing.

Kennedy pleased segregationists with his judicial appointments, most of whom were likely to maintain the racial status quo in the South.

In 1962, Kennedy offered only tepid support for a crucial demonstration in Albany, Georgia, and he tarried too long before intervening to protect James Meredith at Ole Miss. Then 1963 began with the President's flat refusal to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill.

Dallek rightly characterizes Kennedy as less than a "moral crusader" on the issue of civil rights, more interested in counting Southern votes than righting racial injustices. Dallek characterizes him, "more of a civil rights opportunist than a passionate convert to the cause."

But all that changed, according to Dallek, as a result of the "crisis in Birmingham, [which] changed his mind about the imperative of civil rights, and thus was born Kennedy's real legacy on this front." According to Dallek, the barbarity of the white power structure in Birmingham unleashed on the black demonstrators (attack dogs, fire hoses, cattle prods, etc.) precipitated a Kennedy epiphany. The South will never reform itself, Kennedy decided. "The only solution Kennedy saw," reports Dallek, "was a major federal civil rights statute that outlawed segregation in...public accommodations."

Kennedy then rushed to make a national speech addressing the crisis on 11 June 1963 in which he called civil rights a "moral issue" and proposed a bill, the essence of which would, indeed, become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kennedy's heart, Dallek asserts, now "trumped any self-serving political calculations."

Dallek's glorious conclusion:

"Although Kennedy's assassination five months later deprived him of the chance to sign the civil rights bill into law, he had finally done the right thing. That its passage in 1964 came under Johnson's Administration should not exclude Kennedy from the credit for a landmark measure that decisively improved American society forever. Although J.F.K. had been slow to rise to the challenge, he did ultimately meet it. That gives him a place in the pantheon of American Presidents who, in his own words, were profiles in courage."

Wow! That is high praise worthy of Ted Sorenson.

What does this article neglect to mention?

1. Kennedy's "political calculations" were not wholly absent from these deliberations. Convinced that Barry Goldwater would gain the Republican nomination in 1964, the Kennedy brain trust was already writing off the Deep South. A civil rights bill was not political suicide for a campaign looking to win moderates in the heartland and cognizant that the formerly "Solid South" was increasingly hostile.

2. Kennedy's epiphany was less than complete. By the summer of 1963, Kennedy was convinced that nothing greater than a watered-down version of his bill had any chance in Congress. Moreover, the President used all his powers of persuasion (unsuccessfully) to convince civil rights leaders that a March on Washington in support of the legislation that summer was a horrible idea.

3. By the fall of 1963, the bill was dead. The March on Washington had been a monumental success (contrary to the President's pessimistic predictions)--but Kennedy had failed to bring Congress to a legislative consensus--not even the "watered-down" variety. With the election coming in 1964, a civil rights bill looked extremely unlikely for a long time to come.

The truth is that full honors rightly belong to Lyndon Johnson for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act the following year. True, Johnson employed the ultra-emotional moment of national mourning to leverage Congress into finishing the work of the "martyred President," but credit LBJ, the former majority leader, for his legislative genius and commitment to securing these monumental steps toward equality.

Why did Dallek allow himself to be a party to this egregious mischaracterization of events? Good question. The events omitted in the TIME encomium are covered in Dallek's 2003 much-acclaimed Kennedy biography, An Unfinished Life.

A bad edit? I can only hope.

My worst fear is that Robert Dallek would be willing to pervert his sacred responsibilities as an historian to get along with the in-crowd.

As for TIME, my contempt grows stronger with each article. Next: "The Catholic Conundrum: Kennedy's 1960 campaign as a master class in how a candidate of any faith should address questions about religious belief."

Read my earlier critique (Part I) here.
I received the "6th Annual Making of America Issue" of TIME this week, which features a strikingly handsome portrait of John F. Kennedy.

An aside: please note the absence of any computer generated tears a la the Ronald Reagan cover from a while back.

The Cover Text reads:

What We Can Learn from JFK:

How to lead in a dangerous world;

What candidates should say about faith;

Why civil rights can't be compromised.

Quick Thoughts:

1. Before reading one word of the coverage, I was disturbed that TIME has now published six special issues celebrating essential Americans in this series, and they have not yet featured George Washington. All five of the previous choices have been respectable (Ben Franklin, 2nd year, and Abe Lincoln, 4th year, were stellar), but Jefferson before GW--and now JFK? Come on. Does anybody over there have any respect for American history?

An aside: The team at Newsweek seems to have a much better handle on the essence of our national story.

While I agree with TIME managing editor Richard Stengel's assertion that the study of history is a two-way conversation between the past and the present, I am always suspicious of persons who manipulate history as a cudgel to achieve current political goals. Without having read all of this issue, the exercise seems more concerned with exposing the faults of figures, policies and philosophies currently out of favor with TIME rather than offering a critical retelling of the Kennedy years.

2. I like JFK. I always rank him as an extremely talented president. However, he was only in office for 1,000 days. Yes. I understand his afterlife is more important than his life span. However, the list of untapped monumental figures who cast a shadow over the American political landscape is long and much more distinguished than JFK. FDR? Andrew Jackson? Ronald Reagan?

3. Even more disturbing, looking at the table of contents, the editors seem to be checking their healthy historical skepticism at the door.

First TIME Article: A Warrior for Peace:
"His Presidency included some of the tensest moments of the cold war, but he was convinced that our true power came from democratic ideals, not military might" (story here).

According to TIME, the 1960 Campaign forced Kennedy to play the role of a hawk on the Cold War, although he and his family had long since come to understand that war was unnecessary and "stupid." But facing Richard Nixon in 1960, who TIME calls "one of the dirtiest fighters in the American political arena," JFK decided to fight fire with fire. "Kennedy had no interest in becoming another Adlai Stevenson," TIME reports, "the high-minded liberal who was easily defeated in back-to-back elections by [a] war hero. JFK was determined not to be turned into...a punching bag for two-fisted GOP rhetoric."

So, according to TIME, Kennedy lied. Inventing a "missile gap" and disingenuously "championing the cause of the Cuban 'freedom fighters,'" Kennedy secured election, which TIME implicitly condones (a justifiable means to a necessary end). Once in office, the "Warrior for Peace" assiduously battled his hardliner generals to bring sanity to relations with our noble but misunderstood Soviet adversaries.

Embattled, the President leaned on his only two friends in the administration: his brother Robert and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, who, like him, sought "non-military solutions" to the "most dangerous moment in human history," the Cuban Missile Crisis. While the Washington hardliners pushed for a nuclear showdown, Kennedy courageously resisted the intense pressure from his military advisors. TIME blithely accepts the speculation that only Kennedy's steady hand averted a catastrophe which would have reduced "a vast swath of the urban U.S. within missile radioactive rubble."

Of course, all of this is very much in dispute, and it also begs the question: would the humane Soviets leaders, who only wanted to do the right thing, really have brought down nuclear cataclysm on American cities and innocent civilians?

What of Vietnam? Again, JFK was caught in a vise between his insane military leaders and politics. With every intention of withdrawing from South East Asia after his reelection in 1964, the President let us get a little bit pregnant in Vietnam--but always fully understanding, according to TIME, that the war was unwinnable, and unalterably determined to get us out.

Later, according to TIME, "Lyndon Johnson was able to [disingenuously] portray his own deeper Vietnam intervention as a logical progression of JFK's policies." But TIME and Robert "McNamara know the truth: Kennedy would have withdrawn."

As proof of Kennedy's overall sincerity, TIME reports that his Soviet adversary, Nikita Khrushchev "broke down and sobbed [upon hearing] the news from Dallas in November 1963." TIME relays that Khrushchev saw JFK as "a real statesman" and together, Khrushchev believed, "the two men could have brought peace to the world."

Again, TIME feeds all their reportage through the assumption that Khrushchev was our friend and only Kennedy et al were wise enough to understand this now apparent fact of history. It is the same logic that credits Mikhail Gorbachev with ending the Cold War while Ronald Reagan looked on red-faced in his befuddlement and early-onset Alzheimer’s.

In a single declaratory sentence: This is bad history. SHAME on TIME.

The other pieces:

"A Slow Road to Civil Rights: As President, Kennedy initially moved cautiously on segregation. But by the spring of 1963, he knew that more was needed."

This also looks like a ridiculously facile and convenient reading of history--but it will have to wait until I have another moment to engage. As will the story on Kennedy's Catholicism, which also strikes me as overblown and too finely engineered to speak authoritatively to present politics. Until next time.
Category: Media and Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few notes on this story from yesterday, which has been worked hard on the blogosphere and talk radio:

The MSNBC headline: "Journalists dole out cash to politicians (quietly);
News organizations diverge on handling of political activism by staff."

The text of the article here.

My quick reactions:

1. A misleading lead. Although the lead offers one CNN reporter who contributed $500.00 to John Kerry in 2004 and one Forbes editor who gave $2000.00 to Republicans and one more Dow Jones editor who gives money to, we do not learn that Democratic giving outnumbers Republican 125 to 17 until the last sentence of the third graph. The lead and headline imply a sense of proportionality that the facts do not bear out.

2. Later on we learn that many of the great liberal-leaning news orgs (NYT and CBS, for example) absolutely ban political contributions. An obvious inference (although it is never stated explicitly): even with the liberals trying to tamp down the glaring disparity in political giving, THE DEMS STILL OUTNUMBER THE REPUBS 125 to 17.

3. Why have liberal-leaning news orgs soured on political giving? Not because there is anything wrong with supporting the candidates you really want to win. No. It is a matter of perception.

Quoting the article:

"First came the conservative outcry labeling the mainstream media as carrying a liberal bias. The growth of talk radio and cable slugfests gave voice to that claim. Finally, it became easier for the blogging public to look up the donors."

Why? They've been caught.

And this sublimely revealing response from the Times (within the story):

"Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributors, any political giving by a Times staff member would carry a great risk of feeding a false impression that the paper is taking sides."

The Times doesn't want to feed the false impression that a huge majority of their objective reporters are partisans. Priceless.

4. PR over substance. The simple answer for the knotty public relations problem confronting left-leaning news orgs seems to be concealing their biases by outlawing personal contributions to candidates. However, with all due respect to the Orwellian logic of the New York Times, this self-imposed ban will in no way reduce the prevalence of liberal reporters spinning the facts through the prism of their core beliefs and political agendas; it will merely give us one less tool with which to hold them up to critical evaluation.

5. After a decade of close scrutiny, I am surprised the liberal-leaning media did not shut down this embarrassing window into their inner workings long ago. I guess they just could not help themselves.

Note: Thanks to Tocqueville for pointing me to this story early on yesterday morning. My delay in weighing-in is my own fault. And, frankly, I have not followed all the blogging and commentary on this, but I can imagine that many observers have had similar reactions.

Previous Bosque Boys conversations concerning politics and media:

What Liberal Bias? (here)


The Genius and Humor of Fair and Balanced (I'll opine, you decide) (here).
Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
As many of you know, I have a semi-regular gig on our local CBS affiliate offering political analysis. In the wake of the Bloomberg announcement yesterday, KWTX-Channel 10 [Waco, Texas] called me in to discuss Campaign 2008. Our conversations are usually fairly general, but, just in case anyone is interested, here is a synopsis of the exchange (and a few additional facts and some further analysis):

1. An unprecedented National Primary. Texas (along with Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio and Vermont) will hold its primary on 4 March 2008. Front loading? Think again. Thirty-eight states will have already held primaries by that date.

FYI: A 2008 Countdown:


14 Iowa Caucus
19 Nevada
22 New Hampshire
29 South Carolina & Florida

The Mother of all Super Tuesdays is 5 February, in which 23 states, including California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, will conduct primary elections.

Although it is possible that the nomination will still be in doubt after 5 February, it is unlikely, if recent history is any indication.

More importantly, and this part is relatively new, what we have, in fact, is a national primary on 5 February. What does that mean? The candidate with the best organization, enough money to mount a campaign in 23 different venues and an appealing message that transcends a few specific locales will secure the party standard.

In other words, gone are the days of concentrating on a specific state (e.g., Iowa, NH or SC) and making a big splash and gaining momentum from an unlikely victory. That is, Jimmy Carter-style insurgencies are now impossible.

The candidate with the best national organization? Democrats: Advantage Mrs. Clinton. Republicans: we'll see.

2. The role of Texas in the general election? If Texas is in play for the Democratic candidate in October and November, it means a national landslide. Over the last few state election cycles, no Democrat has been elected to statewide office. There is no redder state in the Union that the Lone Star State. Having said that, nobody knows anything. Looking down the road, I would not bet the house on any outcome this time around.

3. Pandering to the base. For most of American political history, it has been necessary for candidates to craft positions that attract true-believers who make up the base of their parties early on, and then tack to the middle for wider appeal in November. Campaign 2008 is no exception. Candidates who skip the first step do so at their own peril.

Mrs. Clinton spent an entire senate term positioning herself as a moderate (even as a hawk on defense and terrorism) so that she might win the hearts and minds of movable security moms. Now she is paying the price and trying to appear just enough of a lunatic to propitiate the left wing of the Democratic mainstream. She will not make it with the "nutroots"--but, thus far, she seems to be striking an acceptable balance among her party stalwarts, who, for a number of reasons, want to vote for her in spite of her uncomfortable Iraq history.

John McCain, perhaps a viable general election candidate, never found a way to overcome the suspicions (even hatred) emanating from the conservative base of the Republican Party. Immigration was the final nail in his coffin.

What of Rudy? Thus far, Rudy has defied the conventional wisdom that a pro-abortion, soft on gun control, double-divorcee cannot appeal to the Republican base. The base is not attracted to his liberalism--but they are considering forgiving his apostasy because they admire his bravura in the aftermath of 9-11 and his sincerity. Rudy is a straight-talking, hardliner and pragmatist. It is an attractive combination, and he continues to lead the national polls among Republican primary voters.

Of course, the advent of Fred Thompson changes everything. All bets are off until we see if Fred is the "Mr. Right" the GOP is searching for.

4. How big is immigration? The grassroots rebellion over immigration is huge. It is more than powerful enough to preclude any reform legislation in the near term. However, immigration has not played a large role in recent elections. No Democrat lost a job in the last midterm election over a stance on immigration. But some hardliner Republican challengers failed to gain traction concentrating on the issue, at least one hardliner incumbent, J.D. Hayworth, lost his seat in Arizona, and the jury is certainly still out as to how this volatile issue will play in a national election.

I don't expect immigration to be the issue that saves Republicans in 2008.

5. The defining issues of 2008? All roads seem to lead back to Iraq. Currently, our frustration in Iraq has cast a pall over the American people. Huge numbers of Americans voice disapproval with the President. The ongoing lack of success in Iraq permeates all other programs, initiatives and governance with an air of incompetence and impending doom. No matter how encouraging some of the traditional economic indicators appear, voters continue to complain that we are on the wrong track in overwhelming numbers.

All roads lead back to Iraq, which is why 2008 could be a disastrous year for Republicans. Although recent polls indicate that Americans are also frustrated with Congress, we generally hate Congress but love our Congressman. Don't look for those numbers of general disapproval to presage a massive turnover on Capitol Hill.

On the other hand, voters quite often punish a President and his party for poor decisions and leadership. Get ready to get punished.
Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Will Michael Bloomberg run for president in 2008?

My answer, like my answer to whether Chuck Hagel will run for president (the question of the day a few months ago) is...

Who Cares?

Bloomberg was a Democrat, then a Republican and now an Independent.

Who Cares?

Bloomberg is a media mogul and current mayor of New York.

Who Cares?

Mark Halperin, chief political correspondent for Time Magazine, and a smart fellow, seems to agree that this is a media-driven story. But Halperin at least entertains the possibility of a run.

An aside: these days you need a big ego and a lot of money to run for president. In that sense, Bloomberg is a viable candidate.

Halperin asks: Would Bloomberg Have a Chance?

Full story here.

Short answer: None whatsoever.

Can he have an impact?

Perhaps. Halperin believes he is more likely to help Republicans, if he wages a serious campaign. I agree.

However, I am hyper skeptical that he will actually mount a campaign. We'll see. At some point, this race is going to take shape, and all these novelty acts are going to recede from the discussion.

Six years ago I would have been hard-pressed to identify Michael Bloomberg. Six years from now, I suspect, it will take a furrowed brow and a pensive moment to remember exactly who he was.
Category: Something Personal
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Important Prefatory Admission: I am a community college history teacher by day.

Making use of his line-item veto power, Texas governor, Rick Perry unilaterally struck from the budget over $126 million in Legislature-appropriated revenue designated for health benefits for community college employees.

Why? According to Governor Perry, community colleges falsified their appropriations requests (relevant portion of Perry's veto message here).

Sounds like a case for the Attorney General. Is this a scandal? Should we expect indictments, trials and jail sentences?

Not likely.

First Perry asserted, "institutions come to expect pork as a permanent way to support operations. They rely on pork to sustain operations above levels they can safely expect from equitable formula funding...appropriate to maintain an academic program or physical facility."

Perhaps. I suppose reasonable people might disagree on that proposition--but, then, Perry aimed his veto pen at health benefits for community college personnel (not exactly the "bridge to nowhere").

Perry, evidently, is shocked to find that "community colleges have [been] using millions of state dollars annually to pay the benefits of non-state paid employees."

Perry is reinterpreting the long-established status of community college personnel and applying a budget rider prohibiting expenditure of General Revenue funds for non-state employees. But this action completely ignores a long history of partnership between the state and the community colleges. In other words, we have all done business this way for decades. As the percentage of Texans attending community colleges continues to rise, the governor is suddenly and arbitrarily turning his back on the premise that we are all in this together.

As Representative Warren Chisum, Republican from Pampa and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee points out, "[community colleges serve] over half of the higher education enrollment and [receive] not even a third of the higher education budget."

My other beef with Perry:

This line item veto, applied after the conclusion of the legislative session, denies our duly elected representatives the opportunity to right this wrong. The Texas legislature will not be back in session until the spring of 2009. This is a cheap shot and a dirty trick, and it violates the principles of balanced government. Unfortunately Governor Perry's edict is the final word.

Moreover, I resent the accusation in the fine print. If, indeed, community colleges practiced malfeasance, Governor Perry could have asserted his charges in an open and honest way, instead of obfuscating his real purposes (whatever they may be). Let facts be submitted to a candid world. But, instead, the governor fired off a shot from his perch and then ran for cover, not returning calls or offering further comment to subsequent queries.

Again, for those of you who don't read italics (above), I am personally invested in this dispute. And for those of you who don't read between the lines, I am livid. Having said that, and admitting my emotional attachment, I am very disappointed in my Republican governor for whom I voted.

As for the bigger picture, all of this points to the problem with conservative government. We are all for cutting spending until our ox is gored. More on this greater dilemma in the days to come.
We have pointed out the dangerous drugs exported by China. Now the NYT has this article on dangerous toys made in China that are being recalled. (Thanks to Photognome.) This excerpt.

The latest recall, announced last week, involves 1.5 million Thomas & Friends trains and rail components — about 4 percent of all those sold in the United States over the last two years by RC2 Corporation of Oak Brook, Ill. The toys were coated at a factory in China with lead paint, which can damage brain cells, especially in children.

Just in the last month, a ghoulish fake eyeball toy made in China was recalled after it was found to be filled with kerosene. Sets of toy drums and a toy bear were also recalled because of lead paint, and an infant wrist rattle was recalled because of a choking hazard.

Chinese companies make the American "Robber Barons" of the 19th century look like upstanding "Captains of Industry."
Tying up some loose ends:

1. For weeks now, I have been calling on the President to end the current immigration reform debate, as it is unlikely to produce a workable compromise and more likely to precipitate the destruction of the Republican coalition.

2. I officially pronounced Immigration Reform 2007 dead on June 8th. I stand by that call. Although the President and the Senate leadership seem determined to resuscitate the ill-fated patient, the bill is brain-dead. Keeping it alive by unnatural means will only prolong the tragedy.

Moreover, I have grown tired of talking about this particular incarnation. No more posts from me on this bill.

A big problem remains, however, which will continue to fester. We will need to address it in the future, which is why I have continued to talk about the important issues and ideas surrounding the greater question.

In the spirit of the next debate, I do want to leave you with this brief explanatory note from Football Coach in aid of his excellent post, "California: Still the Promised Land," from a few days ago (review here):

Why am I more fearful of the "solutions" than the problem?

Quoting Coach:

• Building a wall will make it harder to get in illegally, but it won't stop it. Desperate people will take desperate measures. Remember the Haitians and Cubans?

• Sending all the illegal aliens back to their countries will seriously impair our economy. A significant amount of the work done in the service, food, and agriculture industries is done by these workers.

• If some kind of “guest-worker/visa” system is put in place, I shudder to think what kind of bureaucracy will be set up to accommodate it. The social security administration and DMV are bad enough, and they deal with people who are motivated to come forward and get something done. How inefficient and expensive will a “Dept. of Guest Workers” be?

End Quote.

One other note: Immigration and Gay Marriage

Although it may not look like it, we are moving toward a renewed discussion of gay marriage (at least on this blog we are). I see an analogy between immigration and gay marriage.

As you know, I believe the most exigent problem in American culture is the loss of a unifying narrative. That is, we no longer celebrate the distinctiveness and elevating elements of our national history, which causes all sorts of problems--not the least of which is a nagging sense that we are an amoral, self-interested imperial force promoting evil and destruction in the world. We are in a civil war over how we will perceive ourselves. A hint: we will be what we decide we are.

I am frustrated with cultural conservatives who have allowed us to slip into this crisis of uncertainty, seemingly willing to accept this moral sickness as a permanent condition. On the other hand, these same cultural conservatives, desperate to fight the fight on some level, pounce on the issue of illegal immigration, suddenly awake and convinced that our cultural survival turns on the ability to turn away and deport illegal aliens. The irony: so many cultural conservatives want to blame the influx of new arrivals for a national crisis of belief, decades in the making, and one that we have allowed to take root.

How is that analogous to gay marriage?

We have a separate moral crisis in America concerning marriage and families. Cultural conservatives have allowed the dangerous deterioration of family values, again, leaving our national community in critical condition. But, now, cultural conservatives, seeking to avoid accountability for their own actions and poor stewardship, seek to blame proponents of gay marriage, at best a fringe movement, for the crisis we confront.

Again offering a hot-button issue as a magic bullet to place our collective souls on the road to recovery, cultural conservatives are doing mental gymnastics to avoid responsibility for a crisis we tacitly helped to create. Let's begin our revival by removing the motes from our own eyes.

May God Bless America—and may he grant us “firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, [and] let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds.”

Other Bosque Boys conversations:

Immigration. Click here and scroll down.

Same-Sex Marriage: Click here and scroll down.
Photognome points us to this article from CNN on an exhibit of personal papers from Isaac Newton. The papers show a man of science motivated by deep faith.

Science and religion are not intrinsic adversaries. That idea comes from the French philosophes who had their own anti-Christian agenda.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Approximately fifteen years ago, back during the waning days of the George H. W. Bush (41) presidency, back when the glow of the great victory over Saddam was dimming, and the remaining intractable challenges of the Middle East were re-emerging, I remember a cartoon:

The political cartoon, and I don't remember the artist, pictured the administration as a football team with President Bush as the quarterback, and his Secretary of State, James A. Baker, the running back. The cartoon depicted the moment following a straight-ahead dive into a brick wall labeled "Peace in the Middle East." Baker has had his bell rung, stars are circling his helmet, which has been knocked askew.

Surveying the field, and to the disbelief of the rest of the team (especially the running back), the QB says: "Same play guys!"

When I think of George W. Bush (43) and his insistence on bringing back the immigration reform, I think of that cartoon--only this time, the future of the Republican Party is carrying the ball.

As I have said for several weeks (and this coming from a conservative who is extremely liberal on immigration):

I am increasingly of the opinion, for reasons of political survival, that the President and his coterie of GOP pragmatists should pull the plug on this immigration offensive, retreat and regroup.

We (America) have a serious problem, which we are not addressing. Instead, we (conservatives) are having an internecine bloodletting in which too many of the most severe national challenges are obscured by pernicious abstractions. Although it is in our power to come up with something workable, I fear that we are more likely to do nothing, perpetuating the status quo that brought us our current crisis, beating ourselves into critical condition in the process.

What is the President up against? Today the brick wall is the core constituency of the Republican Party: Cultural Conservatives.

Please consider this email I received from a dear and sincere friend and patriotic American (who clearly does not read my blog):

Quoting a concerned American:

"Forward this to


"Then go find your senators website contact page, copy and paste the following list. And of course send it John McCain.

"To: President George W. Bush, (or Senator ...)

"Where’s the fence????????

"As a concerned citizen, I believe illegal immigration is a national security crisis of the highest order and also poses a long-term threat to the American way of life. I am calling on Congress and the President to:

"#1 -- Secure our borders. As first priority, America must stop the flow of illegal immigration by investing all necessary resources in securing our borders. Also, existing immigration laws must be enforced as an essential component of our Homeland Security.

» Read More

Category: From the Heart
Posted by: an okie gardener
Last week Wednesday afternoon my wife and I headed north out of Apache for a week and a half. We had not needed to get our "papers" in order nor go to the local government functionary for permission to travel.

Near sundown that evening we drove through the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in north Oklahoma. Beautiful. We have altered much of our landscape, but, at least have the wisdom to preserve parts of it.

That night we stayed in a motel in Chanute, Kansas. A couple obviously born in India checked us in. We still keep the doors open for legal immigrants, they are a boon to our culture, our economy, our nation.

We ate supper the first night and breakfast the next morning in small-town cafes. The people, staff and customers, were friendly. The food was good. Along the way the wheat was turning, the line of harvest somewhere behind us advancing north.

The roads, overall, were excellent. Even the 30 plus miles of gravel in and around the Tall-Grass prairie were servicable. And no one checked our travel documents at the Kansas line.

From Michael (website here):

"C-SPAN Blacklists Savage's Speech!"


Michael Savage claims that C-SPAN censored him when they opted not to show his acceptance speech at a Talkers magazine award banquet, where he was honored with the "Freedom of Speech Award," which he describes as "the paramount award of the event."

Comparing the snub to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's closing down TV stations, Savage intimated that C-SPAN and Brian Lamb (CEO), along with his big media conspirators, are out to silence him.

He has suggested that his listeners write, call and email C-SPAN to voice their indignation with this brand of liberal McCarthyism. And Savage's fans have responded, inundating C-SPAN with abusive protests, some of which Brian Lamb featured on Washington Journal this morning (link here --6-15-07).

Savage is also trying to sell a DVD of the speech for $20.00 on his website. "See the video too hot for left-wing C-SPAN!" hawks one of his links. More information about the incident is promised on another link, although you must wade through offers to buy a "liberalism is a mental disorder" coffee mug and a "Savage Nation" ball cap before you arrive at the less-than-satisfying explanation.

Who is Michael Savage?

According to Talkers, Savage has over eight million listeners per week and is in third place overall behind Rush and Sean Hannity (view complete list from the magazine here).

From his own site:

"[Michael Savage is] an explosive conservative radio talk show host, who continues to dominate the airwaves with his brash commentary and unapologetic solutions. The 10 million listeners who tune into Savage each week can't be wrong!" (the full self-congratulatory, self-promoting bio here).

Is anyone actually buying this story?

The so-called Free Republic weighs in (link here):

"C-SPAN, which claims to be nonpartisan and nonideological, was there and carried most of the speeches. But for some reason, it blacklisted Savage's speech accepting the award.

"Why would a nonideological network do this? More liberal media bias, obviously. C-SPAN has now willingly made itself part of the liberal effort to suppress freedom of speech in this country."

Once again: WHAT!?!

The truth is, of course, Brian Lamb and C-SPAN have provided the most unrestricted forum for conservative intellectualism in the brief history of electronic media. All the while, they have provided a similar forum for liberal ideas, but with much less impact, as liberal thought already had numerous esteemed channels to disseminate messages.

I think and write about media and politics a lot. How do you categorize C-SPAN? Liberal? Alternative? Public? None of those really work. C-SPAN exists in a league unto itself. C-SPAN attempts to show all points of view without editorial comment. C-SPAN is fundamentally conservative in the ultimate Jeffersonian libertarian sense ("give the people light and they will find the way"), but the relatively unwatched mother lode of political information remains the only completely pure source of unvarnished news.

Brian Lamb is a national treasure, and his brainchild, C-SPAN, is the most positive development in American political culture during the last half-century.

What Actually Happened:

Brian's explanation this morning: Savage was not there. He sent a video acceptance speech to the Talkers banquet. C-SPAN elected not to show the video, but C-SPAN offered to come and tape a live speech or cover his radio show for airing at some future date.

Free Republic confirms this account of the events:

Michael Savage, Freedom Of Speech Award: NO SHOW (Savage Skips Own Award Ceremony) (link here):

Quoting a Free Republic post:

Again underscoring his ultra- reclusive nature, the "Savage Nation" host unexpectedly failed to appear at a ceremony where he was to pick up an industry honor.

Selected to receive this year's Freedom Of Speech Award at the New Media Seminar held over the weekend in New York City, Savage instead substituted a hastily- made YouTube- style home video.

Who is Michael Savage really?

I am tempted to hoist Savage on a few of his favorite petards: he is a bum; he's garbage. Sorry. Could not resist the temptation.

Actually, Savage is a person of great intelligence and talent. His comedic timing borders on genius. He is truly an independent voice (wild card is probably more accurate) in the conservative movement (broadly construed), and he is a brilliant communicator.

Unfortunately, he is a sloppy thinker and a boorish bully.

If you don't have enough sense to figure out that C-SPAN is not the enemy, you are not worthy of a single listener. In the past, I have listened to him casually for a chuckle (and sometimes even a belly laugh)--although never when my young sons are in the car with me.

An aside: Fodder for a future post. Should we judge talk radio hosts by how well they model behavior for my boys. That is, would we want our children interacting and debating like the person to whom we are listening on the radio? If the answer is no, perhaps we find another station.

Anyhow, no more Michael Savage on my dial. I am giving up this guilty pleasure.

Brian Lamb or Michael Savage?

Not a tough decision. Michael Savage is dead to me.
While I reject the usual attempts to compare the Iraq War with the Vietnam War, there are some disturbing parallels.

In Vietnam the Soviet Union and China supplied arms and amunition to the NVA and thence to the Viet Cong without real penalty. In Iraq today the Iranians provide arms and ammunition without real penalty. And, it now is becoming apparant that China is willingly and knowlingly supplying the war material that will be used against U.S. and coalition troops. See this article.

Both of these nations must be made to pay a steep, steep penalty for their actions. Iran perhaps militarily. China economically. Unless we take quick and serious action, the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq will continue to develop.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Please consider this reflection from an old friend (biographical info below).

Guest Blog: Football Coach

Each October, the Christian high school that I teach at takes the entire freshman class on a week-long canoe trip down the Colorado River. It is part outdoor education, part religious retreat, and part Deliverance. Because of my commitments with football, I am usually unable to go. However, that was not the case in 2000. On that trip, the naturalist assigned to my group had recently graduated from Brown with a degree in Anthropology. She was proud of the fact that she hadn’t shaved or washed her hair in over a year and her biggest worry at the time was who to vote for (she wanted to vote for Nader instead of Gore, but was afraid she was throwing her vote away). Needless to say, we had some interesting discussions.

On one of the days, her nature lesson involved the water resources and management of the river. At the time, California was taking most of the water from the river to use for irrigation (most of the drinking water for southern California comes from northern California). The agreement between the states that had a claim to the water (primarily Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah) was almost up and each entity was jockeying for position. Of course the naturalist painted the picture that big, mean, California was taking more than her share. When she finished, one of the students asked if the other states would let California continue to have water from the river. When the naturalist did not answer, my response was “If they want to continue to eat they will.” Since California grows most of their food, it was an obvious statement, and that is, in fact, what has happened.

What does this have to do with the immigration problem? The answer is still the same. California grows most of the food, particularly fruits, vegetables, and dairy. To keep prices reasonable, agriculture relies on cheap labor. While I don’t know the exact numbers, most of the planting, growing, and certainly the harvesting is done by illegal immigrants. It seems an easy solution to send all of the illegal immigrants back to their country of origin, but who would grow the food? Are we really willing to pay $6 for a head of lettuce and $10 for a gallon of milk? We don’t like paying over $3 for a gallon of gas. If Reagan’s “trickle-down” theory of economy was effective, it would make sense that it would work in reverse. If food prices increased significantly, eventually it would drive up other prices.

To add to the problem, land in California is at a premium. Unlike many areas of the country that rely on agriculture, people want to live in California making land expensive. I know that will upset some people in other parts of the country, but there is a reason why Nebraska, Iowa, and others travel well to bowl games, while the California schools do not – who wants to leave southern California in December or January to go to San Antonio, Orlando, or Memphis? It has even become necessary for certain California counties to have restrictions on what percentages of land can be developed, leaving a certain percentage that has to be left to agriculture.

I don’t know what the solution is, but it isn’t an easy one. I’m not convinced there is a problem.
~~Football Coach

Football Coach Bio:

» Read More

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the Washington Post:

Judge Won't Delay Libby's Prison Term for Appeal

"A federal judge today ordered I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to report to prison within weeks to begin serving a 30-month sentence ...."

"U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton rejected defense attorneys' request to allow Libby to remain free on bond while they appeal his conviction for perjury and obstructing justice."

"Walton...said he disagreed with defense attorneys' contention that Libby's trial had generated a series of close legal questions and judicial rulings that might well be reversed by higher courts."

Full story here.

Already today, I have heard repeatedly on several different media outlets this chestnut of conventional wisdom/analysis/punditry/blather:

"President Bush will not pardon Libby because the political fallout will be too intense."

WHAT!?! Are you kidding?

This is the same George Bush who refuses to budge on Iraq against the backdrop of a disapproval rating in the mid-60s; he continues to support Alberto Gonzales in the face of increasingly vocal consternation; and he intends to resubmit the bone-crushingly divisive and destructive (to Republicans) comprehensive immigration reform.

But, we are told that he is skittish about some bad press over a Libby pardon?

That is completely ridiculous. Seriously, even if you weren't the most stubborn person on the planet, how much lower can any president expect to dip than 29 percent approval?

In truth, a Libby pardon would bring his numbers back up. Bush's steep decline is the result of GOP anger. A Libby pardon, and the ensuing firestorm among the mainstream media and Democrats in Congress, would re-energize the formerly faithful.

But I predict he will not pardon Libby. Why won't he do it?

My Speculation: it is mostly a desire to not be Clinton. Of all the things that have gone to hell for Bush, he still sees himself as superior to his predecessor in terms of modeling virtuous behavior.

In Bush's view, pardons and vitriolic attacks and procedural assaults on the justice system are Clintonesque. I am afraid Bush is going to let Scooter fry--rather than compromise this principle.

Of course, it is easier to hold to your principles when other people are going to jail. I would not be shocked if the President found a way to alleviate Libby's suffering (commutation has been floated as a moderate measure). On the other hand, I would be surprised if Bush pardoned Libby Clinton style.
Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Off the wire via Breitbart:

Mass. Keeps Gay Marriage Ban From Voters


"BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday blocked a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage from reaching voters, a stunning victory for gay marriage advocates and a devastating blow to efforts to reverse a historic 2003 court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage."

View the full Associated Press story here.

14/06: String Fever

Category: General
Posted by: an okie gardener
If you need a break from politics and serious issues, check out this site. String Fever is a UK performance group that combines good musicianship with goofyness. I especially recommend the History of Music in Five Minutes. Thanks to photognome.
Leslie Moonves is in the public eye today castigating the masses for their "vitriol" and "sexism," blaming rampant prejudice against women news anchors for the plummeting ratings for the CBS Evening News (story from the Financial Times here). It seems an appropriate moment to reissue my review from last fall.

October 8, 2006

Katie Couric arrived at CBS News a few weeks ago in a big way, making news as well as reading it. Her ratings initially spiked, then dived, then leveled and now may be inching up. We will continue to watch as the story unfolds, but the decision to hand over the CBS Evening News franchise to Couric exists within a larger framework of the Feminization of American News Culture.

Some positive observations on Katie Couric (although, admittedly, I have not watched her newscast much):

1. The voice over of Cronkite. I am thrilled every time I hear Walter Cronkite say: "the CBS Evening News..."

2. The "Free Speech" segment. It is innovative. At least it is something new in the way that everything old is new again. The commentary at the end of the newscast hearkens back to the days of Eric Sevareid adding his perspective to Cronkite's newscast. Of course, the segment is designed to be light and popular; thus far, it certainly lacks the erudition and penetrating analysis of Sevareid.

3. The leg shot at the end of the show. One of these days, undoubtedly, we will look back and all agree that Mary Hart was a great pioneer in broadcast journalism. Although I am distressed that Couric seems to be wearing more pant-suits.

Some cranky (crankier) observations:

1. Couric contorts her face into an uncomfortable and unattractive mask when she segues into serious news.

2. The good news in that regard is that serious news is not nearly as prevalent as you might think on a network evening news broadcast. There is a lot of time for good-natured banter and teasing of colleagues and cute cajoling of newsmakers. In an interview with New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Tom Kean, in the midst of Democratic scandals in the state, Couric focused on Kean and whether he wanted President Bush to visit him. "Come on now," she giggled, persisting in several humorous attempts to portray Kean as running away from the President in a blue state. It was all very cute--but not very Cronkite-ish.

3. Some of the copy seems better suited for a satire of a bad news program. For example: After watching a four-year-old drum phenom on You Tube, Katie intones: "drums not your bag? [cue film of a bagpiper] Maybe these are. More after we pay the piper."

Serious question: Why not just cut to the chase and offer Oprah Winfrey the franchise?

I stand by my observations. Link to original post: here.

FOR FURTHER READING. Another Bosque Boys post on media (here): The Genius and Humor of "Fair and Balanced" (I'll opine, you decide).
Category: American Culture
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Oh, the things you will hear; oh, the things you will see...

watching network morning TV.

This morning on GMA:

In between stories about the "hottest bachelors," clothing that provides the "best UV protection," Michael Moore, Tina Brown on Princess Di, promoting the new Nancy Drew movie and deciding how long dropped-food can sit on the ground and still be edible--the mood turned serious.

Dateline: Tyler, Texas. GMA reports:

"Would you watch a former swimsuit model read the evening news?

"Fox is betting you will. The network's new reality show Anchorwoman...stars former model Lauren Jones, who is trying to make it as an anchor at KYTX-TV, the local CBS news station in Tyler, Texas."

Additional info: "Jones isn't just a former model. She's also a former soap star and World Wrestling host."

"While few people deny the buxom blonde is pleasing to look at, many are outraged that someone with no reporting experience has been put in the anchor seat for the sake of entertainment."

They are "making a mockery" of our profession, exclaims an irate competitor (full story here).

The GMA on-air crew was aghast, huffing repeatedly at how some are willing to compromise journalistic integrity for the sake of entertainment and glitz.

Shame. Shame.

Next, we will be right back with Sam Champion on the beach with Miss USA in her bikini...

Oh what power the gift would give us, to see ourselves as others see us...
Category: Courts
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Last month we very briefly discussed the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber case in which the Supreme Court ruled against a female plaintiff claiming salary discrimination based on gender (you may review here).

This week, Stuart Taylor, the brilliant, implacable and incorruptible legal journalist discussed the case in his column for the National Journal.

Quoting Taylor:

This headline ["Injustice 5, Justice 4'"], borrowed from a New York Times editorial, pretty well sums up the news media's portrayal of a May 29 Supreme Court ruling (here) [PDF] that an Alabama woman suing her former employer for sex-based pay discrimination had not filed her claim within the congressionally prescribed time limit.

Taylor examines the media bias in reporting the decision as well as an enlightening discussion of the ruling itself. Read the full article here.

Another Taylor quote to whet your appetite:

Are Alito and company really such heartless, pro-discrimination brutes? Hardly. Ginsburg's dissent was well put. But Alito had the better of the argument as to congressional language and the Court's own precedents, in my view. And as a policy matter, it's far from clear that justice would be better served by the Ginsburg approach of opening the door wide to employees who, like the plaintiff in this case, wait for many years to claim long-ago -- and thus difficult to disprove -- pay discrimination.

Excellent. Thank you to Tocqueville for passing this along.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
As the euphoria wears off from the thrilling victory against the President's immigration reform, and the reality sets in, we shall come to see that not much has changed. We are where we were.

Today Tocqueville points us to a Thomas Sowell column (here): Bipartisan Betrayal: “Where is the fence?”

Although he probes some telling subjects, I would argue that even Sowell, one of the most incisive thinkers in the conservative movement, is still in fundamental denial concerning the reality of the moment.

Sowell writes:

With immigration, as with other issues, the most important decision is: Who is to make the decision?

Important point. Sowell uses this truism to launch into an assertion of American sovereignty. But the more practical answer to his question of who?--is the Congress of the United States.

America is sovereign, and the will of the people, in theory, should drive the process to regulate the flow of immigrants, secure our borders and establish procedures for naturalizing would-be Americans.

The rule of the people is fine in theory--but, even in theory, we are not a direct democracy. Popular sovereignty is filtered through a complex political process, which is the product of a constitution and centuries of rules and traditions and personalities.

In reality, all federal legislation is dependent upon party interests, composition of the Congress, timing, leadership, media, awareness, and much, much more. Making law is an art--not a science. More telling, it is an "art of the possible."

What is possible?

Take a look at yesterday's vote on Alberto Gonzales (roll call here). Although the Gonzales question is completely unrelated to immigration, the vote is, nevertheless, instructive. When push came to shove, there were 38 Senators willing to stand up to the grandstanding Democrats. Take a look at the list (roll call here once again).

My suspicion is that most of those thirty-eight Republicans are not fans of Gonzales; we know that they are fairly disenchanted with the President. But there they were, casting their "votes of confidence" like fearless patriots of a embattled cause. In essence, these are your stalwarts. These true believers are most likely the full extent of the "cultural conservatives"* on immigration in the United States Senate (plus or minus one or two).

I noted recently the logical fallacy of reading the polling data that indicates only 22 percent of Americans supported the late immigration bill and then assuming that 78 percent are for the cultural conservative alternative (sealed borders and no amnesty for the twelve million illegals). It is also naive to assume that last week's victory in blocking the reform bill in the Senate (where it takes sixty votes to legislate) is tantamount to building a coalition for positive action acceptable to cultural conservatives.

One more thing: as for the will of the people. The people have not demonstrated an employable interest in a hard-line immigration package. Yes, there is polling; there is talk radio; there is anger among certain segments. But the power of the cultural conservatives on this issue has yet to be demonstrated at the ballot box.

Reminder: Republican leadership in the 109th Congress, beset by scandal, dissatisfaction on Iraq and fiscal malpractice, sacrificed serious discussion of solutions to place all their hopes for survival on immigration as an emotional issue to save their rotten skins. The strategy proved a dismal failure.

I will believe immigration "hardlining" is an effective electoral strategy when I see it. Or, perhaps when Tom Tancredo rises above 1 percent in the national polls. I don't say all this because I think politics should drive policy (in fact, I bemoan that GOP mistake every chance I get). But elections matter in that they carry "mandates." So far, there is no electoral mandate for hardcore immigration action; as a result, there is little chance for cultural conservative success in passing legislation.

Sowell points out that we, in fact, have a current policy of open borders and de facto amnesty.

Sowell blames both parties and avers:

Neither wants to risk losing the Hispanic vote, though it is doubtful whether all Hispanics are in favor of open borders.

That strikes me as a facile explanation. Why?

1. Historically, Hispanics have not shown themselves especially active voters. Isn't this much ado about not much?

2. Lets assume Sowell has a salient point: It may work for Democrats, but it seems an oddly indirect strategy for Republicans. Hispanics have always leaned Democrat. Instead of trying to legitimate, activate and then convert Hispanic voters, why wouldn't the GOP prefer to just round them all up and shut down the borders--if the issue was merely about elections and stopping immigration was an option. Instead of hoping for the best, we could kill the problem in its cradle.

I tend to think the motivations here are much more complicated and less sinister than Sowell suggests. Let me think about it for a while; I will try to return to this question at some later date.

Sowell attempts also to address some of the more familiar arguments for immigrants:

The first of these frauds is the argument that the economy “needs” illegal immigrants to fill “jobs that Americans won’t take.” Both parts of this argument ignore the most obvious three-letter word that is left out: Pay.

Virtually any job is a job that Americans will not take, if the pay is low enough. Nor is there any reason for pay to rise if illegal immigrants are available at low pay.

This is true enough on its face. If we paid enough to have our lawns mowed and our toilets cleaned, I suppose we could recruit college graduates from wealthy families to do these jobs. But is it really in our interest to initiate a massive restructuring of salaries?

A dirty little secret: low-skilled workers have been essential to our increasingly pampered, high-powered, low-inflation existence over the past few decades.

There is an important humanitarian question in all this: are we willing to exploit the most unfortunate among us (granted: the victims are complicit in all this) in order to maintain our elevated lifestyles? By the way, this is a potential point of agreement among cultural conservatives and soft-hearted liberals. Cultural conservatives should pursue this possible alliance.

More Sowell:

Then there is the “family reunification” fraud which claims that we cannot in good conscience keep out the families of illegal immigrants who are living in the United States but must let those families reunite.

Of all the cultural conservative demands, this one disturbs me most. Have a heart. Let people in or don't let people in. Give them a path to citizenship or don't. But if someone is good enough to be an American citizen, have some compassion for the basic human need for family. I don't see that brand of cultural conservative thinking as at all traditional.

More Sowell:

The grand fraud of all is the claim that we must have “comprehensive” immigration reform — that is, simultaneously deal with border control and the legal status of illegal immigrants already here.

There is no logical reason why these two issues must be dealt with together, though there are political reasons why elected officials want to do so. Passing border laws described as “tough” gives Congress political cover when they legalize the illegals.

Historically, comprehensive solutions have always proved the necessary glue for divisive legislation. Comprehensive solution is the highway of compromise, the bridge over impasse. Neither side is ever willing to accept defeat on the promise that compensation will come later at some unspecified date. Too often later never comes. Neither side trusts the other in this case, and there is no reason to trust. Get it done sooner rather than later--but neither side is going to take a bullet on this issue without getting something tangible in return.

Finally, from Sowell:

Last year, the sop to the American people was the promise of a fence on the border. This year, the big question is: “Where is the fence?”

This is the reality. There is no fence. There will be no fence. There are not enough votes for a fence. There is not enough will for a fence.

Deal with it. Accept it. Try to change it. But wishing and wailing are not constructive solutions.

*Note on language: For lack of a better word, and as a result of my conversation with Tocqueville, I am referring to conservatives who are against liberal immigration reform as cultural conservatives.
From the Washington Post:

This article. Thanks to the Rott.

An excerpt:

The insurgents who kill our young soldiers are ruthless, but we have sometimes been cautious in our response. Take the question of targeting bomb makers: There may be an unlimited supply of explosives in Iraq, but there is not an unlimited supply of people who know how to wire the detonators. In 2004, CIA operatives in Iraq believed that they had identified the signatures of 11 bomb makers. They proposed a diabolical -- but potentially effective -- sabotage program that would have flooded Iraq with booby-trapped detonators designed to explode in the bomb makers' hands. But the CIA general counsel's office said no. The lawyers claimed that the agency lacked authority for such an operation, one source recalled.

I am not sure I can respond to this information without a torrent of obscenities. But, I'll try. "War is hell." Just make sure that it's hell for the other side. If that means using our lawyers as walking IED bait, then so be it.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
My Mantra for Campaign 2008: Nobody Knows Anything.

On the other hand, George Will knows more about politics than most, and he is smart enough to ask intelligent questions. Will writes today in Newsweek to caution against Thompson mania, reminding us that we still have much to discover about the stately and celebrated senator from Tennessee.

Anyhow, Will offers several points and rhetorical flourishes worth noting:

1. Some say he is the Republicans' Rorschach test: They all see in him what they crave. Or he might be the Republicans' dot-com bubble, the result of restless political investors seeking value that the untutored eye might not discern and that might be difficult to quantify but which the investors are sure must be there, somewhere, somehow.

A bit off the subject, but this borrowed gem applied to Ronald Reagan and his recent posthumous rebirth as a near-great president with gravitas is priceless and absolutely true:

2. "The four stages of the highbrow treatment: first, he was derided, then ignored, then accepted, then discovered."

And then this paragraph in which Will agrees with my analysis from a while back is perhaps my favorite (and, truth be known, a compelling reason for this post; if you don't toot your own horn--who's gonna do it?):

3. When the resolutely uncharming John McCain ran in 2000, only four of his Senate colleagues supported him. Thompson was one. Today Thompson is John McCain without McCain's heroism, Vesuvian temper and support for the current immigration legislation. Although Thompson presents himself as a strict constitutionalist and an advocate of limited government, he voted for, and still supports, the McCain-Feingold law, which empowers the government to regulate the quantity, content and timing of speech about government.

Read the full version of Will here.

Don't get me wrong. I still like Fred and remain fairly optimistic. But Will makes an important point. Nobody Knows Anything.
Every Friday afternoon, NPR's All Things Considered features a sports-week wrap-up conversation with Wall Street Journal sportswriter Stefan Fatsis. Last week, Fatsis and Rebecca Roberts chatted mostly about Jason Giambi and the ongoing tragedy concerning the use of performance-enhancing drugs in MLB (listen here).

They also commented briefly on a story in the Seattle Weekly in which a Boston Red Sox fan trespassed against a code of conduct (heretofore unknown to him or me) for guests at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners.

The Code:

Foul/abusive language or obscene gestures

Intoxication or other signs of impairment related to alcohol consumption

Displays of affection not appropriate in a public, family setting

Obscene or indecent clothing

Any disruption of a game or event, including throwing of objects or trespassing on the playing field or other restricted areas

Sitting in a location other than the guest's ticketed seat

Fighting, taunting or making threatening remarks or gestures

Smoking or the use of tobacco products, in any form

Fans are issued Red Cards for "abusive behavior," which is a final warning before removing the violators from the arena without refund. An entertaining story and worth the read (here).

Fatsis referenced the Sports Law Blog, which had weighed in on the issue with their post "Speechless in Seattle" (here and more here).

Quoting Sports Law Blog (abridged):

"[F]an-conduct policies have been the major focus for my arguments about the [First Amendment] constitutional protection for "cheering speech."

"The Mariners essentially are trying to enforce civility norms in a public space--something that the First Amendment does not permit."

End quote.

Wow! Let's hear it for the Rights Revolution. We now have the right to get drunk and be obnoxious at the ballpark; it's in the Constitution!

The NPR discussants laughingly made the point that this story reinforces West Coast baseball versus East Coast baseball stereotypes.

I love West Coast baseball.

» Read More

Category: Campaign 2008.3
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Yesterday, based on a conversation with some local Democrats, the Okie Gardener reported from Iowa:

"They had the following thoughts: (1) Anyone the Democrats nominate in 08 can beat the Republican candidate, except Hillary. So, Hillary must not be nominated. (2) When the dust clears Edwards will be the strongest candidate for the Democrats to put forward."

My Reaction:

First: My Mantra: Nobody knows anything.

Having said that, I think Hillary can win it all. She can be beaten if we get the right candidate, we play it smart, we get a couple of big breaks, and the stars align.

I think the local consensus that the Gardener encountered provides more insight into what is happening on the ground in Iowa--than a truly national judgment.

Edwards is working very hard in Iowa. His ambition to be president hangs on his success in the Hawkeye State. He cannot afford to lose there. He cannot afford to be out-campaigned there.

If Iowa Democrats were not leaning toward Edwards at this point, frankly, there would be no reason for Edwards to be away from his home and family.

In re Edwards: I have been reluctant to acknowledge his viability. To my mind, he lacks the seriousness to be President of the United States.

An aside: I felt the same way about Bill Clinton. I liked him (he fascinated me), but I considered him the kind of person one dated but didn't marry. Infatuation over true love. A host of Democrats famously saw George W. Bush as lacking "gravitas."

Of course, the obvious moral of those two stories: anything can happen. Nobody knows anything.

The Gardener reminds us:

"In politics perception helps to build reality. Nobody knows anything, but what people think they know matters. Hillary is in trouble in Iowa, not that it matters as much as it did with the current primary schedule. From my conversation, it would seem that she is in trouble with Iowegeans because they fear she is not electable."

The Gardener articulates a key point, and I agree completely. Objectively, it is easy to envision a scenario in which Edwards emerges.

As I have said, Edwards is banking on Iowa as a momentum-building, watershed moment in the race.

It is not a stupid strategy. Stranger things have happened.

As for Hillary in trouble, all of this is day to day. Nobody knows anything. But I'll pose this question, if you were running for president, who would you rather be than Hillary right now?

In terms of the importance of Iowa, I refer back to the Gardener's "perception and reality" formula. Iowa is only important as long as Iowa can convince the country and the candidates that Iowa is important.

I am not unsure how meaningful Iowa will be this time around. But as I have said before, I would darn-sure rather win the Iowa caucus or straw poll than lose it.

For more thoughts on Campaign 2008, click here and scroll down.
Tomorrow our denominational assembly will vote on whether or not to adopt the Belhar Confession provisionally for a period of two years. After the two years we would vote on whether to adopt it as part of our church constitution. The Belhar confession comes from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. One of our Reformed sister communions adopted this statement, that elevation of origins or differences to an absolute status is wrong and contrary to the Gospel.

Today, in large measure due to the efforts of Christian leaders in South Africa, the nation has been able to end apartheid without a bloodbath. Thanks be to God.

Sometimes things work out better than we hope. God is at work in our everyday, in the messy events of history. And sometimes we see signs of the coming kingdom.

At our denominational meeting--and we do not use quotas, each classis (local group of churches) sends delegates--I have met and talked with African Americans, immigrants from India and Taiwan and Brazil and the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, Korean-Americans, all elders or ministers of Word and Sacrament in our denomination. Thanks be to God.

Our outgoing president spoke concerning God's future, and the need to anticipate it and work for it now. He closed his remarks with a poem by Langston Hughes, written in 1940.

When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
and big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

Audacious hope in 1940, closer to reality today. Thanks be to God.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
I cannot vouch for these, I can only report that they were expressed on the floor at our national denominational meeting this week:

"When I die, I want to be buried in Chicago so I can remain politically active." Charlie Rangel.

"Good government is no substitute for self-government." Gandhi.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Some on-the-ground reporting. From a conversation with a small group of Iowa Dems, including an elected official active in the party at the state level.

They had the following thoughts: (1)Anyone the Democrats nominate in 08 can beat the Republican candidate, except Hillary. So, Hillary must not be nominated. (2)When the dust clears Edwards will be the strongest candidate for the Democrats to put forward.

But, as Farmer comments, repeating his 2008 Mantra: Nobody Knows Anything.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
I am blogging this week from the General Synod meeting of the Reformed Church in America. We have been kept so busy that my production is low, but maybe tonight which they have promised will not last until 11pm.

At supper last night I talked politics with a layman from Illinois, a black elder from south of Chicago. I asked him about excitement for the current presidential candidates. He reported that he has not seen much excitement for any of the Republican candidates. His guess is that Rudy might have the most support, but that many are troubled at the thought of putting a man with his personal baggage (he's on his third wife) into the White House. He also reported that there has been some talk about "that Mormon candidate." (Romney)

On the Democrat side, he stated that Obama has generated a lot of excitement. He has heard Barak speak in person and compares his oratorical skills to those of MLK. And, he said that Barak mesmerizes crowds in Chicago and in the south counties of the state. But, he is not sure if Obama can beat Hillary for Illinois delegates, since she has lots of support as well. Edwards has not lit any fires of support.

These are, of course, the opinions of one man. But, a man well-connected in his community and politically aware.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A lot has been said about the Rasmussen poll and his analysis: "Why the Senate Immigration Bill Failed" (full article here).

Quoting Rasmussen:

"The immigration bill failed because a broad cross-section of the American people are opposed to it. Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters are opposed. Men are opposed. So are women. The young don’t like it; neither do the no-longer-young. White Americans are opposed. Americans of color are opposed."

End quote.

Continuing our "Immigration Reform 2007 is dead. Now What?" conversation (see here):

Let me posit that many of us are making an erroneous leap of logic in the aftermath of the great grassroots rebellion on the Right (over which even I am heartened).

We keep hearing that only 22 percent of Americans were for the immigration compromise. Some of us seem to infer from that statistic that, conversely, 78 percent of America is with us. That is a shaky assumption.

The bill was defeated, which as I said, if nothing else, illustrated that conservatism remains independent and not without a modicum of residual power in American politics. This is a good thing. We are right to take heart from this fact. In life, we should take pleasure in small victories.

On the other hand, nothing much has changed. We have proven that we can stop a flawed immigration compromise--but we are thousands of miles away from having the power to secure the legislation we desire.

We are still faced with the same choice: compromise or maintain the status quo, which means de facto amnesty.

We can all yell: "secure the border and enforce the law" until the cows come home--but I am not expecting George Bush to suddenly convert to the Tancredo position. I don't expect Hillary Clinton to be very friendly to us either.

I guess we can hope for Fred Thompson. Why not? This is the part of the season when hope springs eternal. I suppose anything is possible, but what is Plan B?
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
On May 18, taking our cue from the immigration compromise bill put forth with much ballyhoo and great optimism, we resumed a long-running discussion concerning immigration and acculturation on this blog.

I compliment our readers and contributors for stepping up to the democratic task of engaging national politics on an individual level. I am extremely proud of the conversation we had here. Kudos to the Bosque Boys community.

Having said that, we are where we were:

In fact, what I said on 18 May, "Immigration Comes Home to Roost" (you may review that post here) seems to me appropriate still:

1. For political reasons, Republicans passed on their best opportunity to craft meaningful immigration legislation back when they ran Washington (109th Congress).

2. The Political Strategy failed miserably. A hard line on immigration could not save the dismal Republican majority in 2006.

3. Choosing politics over policy in 2006 risked that nothing got done on immigration for a long time.

4. Doing nothing (then and now) means de facto amnesty and affirming a status quo that almost all of us agree is unacceptable.

5. On May 18, the Republican House and the conservative grassroots woke up to find themselves on the outside looking in, befuddled and angry.

Today they are still on the outside looking in--but much happier as a result of derailing the latest bill. I give conservatives credit for a bravura performance in mobilizing against this legislation. If nothing else, conservatism illustrated its independence and residual power in American politics.

Okay, most of the above is water under the bridge. But many of the problems then are still the same today.

Where Are We Now? I am not sure much has changed since 20 May when I wrote about a "tangled immigration dilemma faced by conservatives" (the full post here):

1. Our system of regulating immigration (especially immigration from Mexico) is so dysfunctional as to be non-existent.

2. We have no idea how many illegal aliens we are currently hosting in our nation, but most credible estimates indicate somewhere around 12,000,000 undocumented persons.

3. If we do nothing, immigration will continue to exist as an unrestrained force of nature, disturbed only by market variables.

4. The hard-line stance of many conservatives (an impermeable fence, massive deportations, an army on the border capable of maintaining complete security, etc.) is not politically possible in the foreseeable future.


The Democrats control both houses of Congress. They are content to allow the current system to continue unmolested.

The Republicans are divided on the issue between nativists and market-oriented, Wall Street Journal type conservatives, who believe that a large segment of the undocumented (illegal) population are essential to our economy.

The rest of America is mostly divided, ambivalent or apathetic; there is no national consensus for action at this moment.

5. Doing nothing means the continuation of a regime all of us (conservatives) can agree is bordering on disastrous.

6. We cannot get everything we want. We cannot even decide on what it is exactly that we want.

For the record, here is what I [still] want:

--secure borders (as much as that is possible)

--national ID cards

--tough penalties for employers who employ illegal workers

--some humane system for allowing workers from Mexico to work for American employers as the need arises

--some humane system for allowing a larger percentage of those workers to become American citizens, recognizing our special relationship with Mexico and other neighbors to the South

What to do?

Join the process with reasonable expectations and honest intentions. Let's get in the game and help solve the problem.
Unbelievable. The U.S. Senate has voted down the Cornyn amendment to bar terrorists and gang members from immigration amnesty. Story here.
For the previous verses, see this post and links.

Another root cause of Mainline decline: Liberation Theology separated from biblical teaching.

Liberation Theology, in a nutshell, is a way of looking at Christian doctrine that emphasizes God's "preferential option" for the poor. The Old Testament prophets over and over again proclaimed God's watchcare for the widow and orphan, and judged Israel's society on how well the weak got the justice they deserved. On the flip side, the wealthy frequently were castigated and were condemned as oppressors of the poor. See, for example, the prophet Amos. In the New Testament we find Jesus more often among the poor and outcast than among the rich; and he did say that the last shall be first, and that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. The Apostle Paul describes the early Christian church as made up of not many mighty. Liberation Theology emphasizes justice for the poor and weak of society, including the global society. We should not be content to wait for heaven when we die, we should work to make this world now look more like the kingdom.

And, since we tend to understand things, including Scripture, based on our background, Liberation Theology has emphasized the ways in which the rich (individuals and nations) distort the Bible message in order to remain comfortable. Indeed, Liberation Theology(s) teach that the poor and weak have better insight into God's teaching than do the rich.

So far, so good. However, . . . (more below)

» Read More

Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Last week I said that I was increasingly of the opinion, for reasons of political survival, that the President and his coterie of GOP pragmatists should pull the plug on the immigration offensive, retreat and regroup.

Obviously, more so now than then. Fold your cards and wait for the next deal.

What continues to frustrate me most about the immigration debate?

We (America) have a serious problem (immigration), which we are not addressing. Instead, we (conservatives) are having an internecine bloodletting in which too many of the most severe national challenges are obscured by pernicious abstractions. Although it is in our power to come up with something workable, I fear that we are more likely to do nothing, perpetuating the status quo that brought us our current crisis, beating ourselves into critical condition in the process.

Last week I listed three "realities" that opponents to immigration reform generally ignore. The post precipitated a frank and constructive discussion. You may review that post and comments here.


The angst over immigration (a serious problem) clouds and distorts an even more important discussion concerning who and what we will be as an American nation. We are in the midst of a national crisis, but it is not a direct result of millions of underclass Mexicans entering the American bloodstream. The real problem is that we are not prepared to assimilate them properly. That is, Hispanics are not killing the traditional process of assimilation; the traditional process of assimilation and American inculcation is dead.

The real solution: FIX THE PROBLEM OF ASSIMILATION, which means educating young people (not just immigrants) to be good Americans. What is a good American? A good American is a functional citizen; patriotic and loyal, yes, but, more than that, a person who apprehends the essence of our national inheritance and our collective responsibility to posterity.

Ten days ago, Tocqueville directed me to this Rod Dreher post (here), entitled "ferocious differences," in which Rod explained how Mexicans and Americans are not like one another.

Dreher recounts the story of "a fourth-grader in a local school [Texas Metroplex]-- a Hispanic boy, the son of Mexican immigrants who can't speak English...[who offered up his] favorite figure from history: Santa Anna, the villain of the Alamo."

Dreher continued: "It was striking to me because this first-generation Texas boy had completely inverted the founding myth of Texas. And by 2020, say the demographers, Hispanics will be the absolute majority in Texas. How will Texans of the future think about Texas, when the villains and the heroes of the Alamo are reversed?"

Tocqueville is a big fan of Rod Dreher, as am I (albeit to a lesser degree). Dreher is always thoughtful, compassionate and logical. But he makes the increasingly common mistake of conflating the issue of who they are with who we are. Admitting that "the Mexicans that come north will be chewed up by the dynamism of capitalism, in time" [emphasis mine], Dreher correctly reminds us that this wave of immigrants possess "a lot more psychological resources with which to resist assimilation" (which include a unique sense of history, "contiguity to Mexico" and the "overwhelming numbers" of culturally similar fellow travelers).

Once Again: the Dreher post here; it really is a great read.

Can the power of the American story overcome the culture and history of a Mexico that they are leaving behind? Of course! As Dreher asserts, integration and assimilation will happen naturally over time.

However, the process needs our specific attention and action. We must approach the acculturation of these immigrants with a plan of action. We must inculcate these groups with traditional American values. In ordinary circumstances, this would not be a daunting task. Immigrants are generally inclined to see the good in our system and our history--or go home.

The Greatest Danger.

However, we must also acknowledge that we are in an all-important fight for cultural hegemony in which our enemies are not external; they are us. We are currently atop an educational complex run amok. Instead of imbuing students (immigrant and native-born alike) with a history that values "one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," our system is busy poisoning these optimistic immigrants with an alternative narrative of exploitation, pessimism and victimization.

A point that Dreher considers within his post--but does not emphasize--is the twenty-first century reality of American-born Americans steadily losing touch with our own myths. My question for Rod: what were the Anglo kids in that class saying, many of whom, no doubt, possessed deep genealogical roots back into the era of the Texas Republic? My guess it that they were relatively uninterested in Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie or William Barret Travis.

More over, the identification of Santa Anna as an heroic figure is not a Mexican myth. Mexican history portrays Santa Anna as an inept scoundrel. The notoriously dictatorial and deceitful Santa Anna provides a figure only an anti-American academic could love. My guess is that the sanctification of Santa Anna in the case Rod mentions emanates from the bias of the fourth-grade teacher rather than the domestic Mexican-American culture of the student.

Our most serious national problem is that we are surrendering our sense of American exceptionalism and goodness. We are no longer teaching and believing in the grand experiment in self government based on the ideals of justice, opportunity and a republican subordination of self to community. We are no longer celebrating our national morality.

More than anything else, we need to guard and fight for our culture where it is most at risk: universities, pop culture, and government. We can easily assimilate 25 million immigrants from Mexico over time--if we stay faithful to a traditional unifying American narrative. The greatest security threat of our time rests in failing to pass on our national inheritance to the 100 million American-born citizens who are right now deciding who they are and what they want to be.

Recognize that ACCULTURATION is the key to security. Recognize that promulgating a narrative that takes apart the single unifying principle of a nation is suicide.
Yesterday on the Sean Hannity radio show, Frank Luntz (celebrity Republican-leaning pollster) pronounced John Edwards the winner of the latest Democratic debate (BTW: he calls last night's GOP bout for Romney, more on that story here on RCP).

Luntz's analyses are based on focus groups working dials to register their approval for the candidates and what they are saying in real time.

My point: Luntz called Barack Obama the surprise loser in the Democratic debate. Although this goes against the conventional wisdom, fund-raising contest results and the latest national polling, I AGREE with him.

Obama seems to be stiffer and less-practiced than he was when he entered the race five months ago. As someone who was intrigued by Obama, I am increasingly uninterested in and unimpressed with him.

Obama is sharp, charismatic, handsome and black--but that alone is not enough to lift him past Hillary Clinton. The Obama-juggernaut was always a long shot that needed flawless political acumen and stimulating oratory.

I am not seeing that. A few months ago, I could not take my eyes off him. These days I am mostly bored by him.

More Bosque Boys thoughts on Campaign 2008 here (click and scroll down).
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gaypatriot has this update on the woes of the Log Cabin Republicans (say it loud, I'm a gay Republican and I'm proud).

At a guess, I would think that Rudy might be the candidate to benefit most from their efforts, if they were able to act.
Gateway Pundit is doing great coverage of the Prague Democracy Conference. We need to keep fighting the good fight.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Farmer has been doing good work fast on heavy issues. This post is a mental break. This link will take you to an interview with a star of early 60s pop, Ray (Paul) Hildebrand. Originally from Texas, now living in Kansas. Photognome is aquainted with him and sent the link. A couple of interesting bits below.

Q - And that led to...?
A - More tours. More of the same. They wanted us to become a nightclub act. That was the only thing you did then. I didn't particularly want to and that's part of my story. After they started training us, and getting some people who wanted us to pull away from the major and go big time with RCA Records, I got confused. I didn't know what to do and I just left. (laughs) I just took off one time and just became a missing person for awhile.
Q - What happened to Paula? Did she find someone to take your place?
A - When I took off, it was on a Dick Clark tour. It was a 3 week tour. About a week and a half into it, I kind of flipped out. These people wanted us to go to Philadelphia at the end of the tour and start a new life, I wasn't gutsy enough to say no, or wait awhile, I'm not ready. They had all the big numbers and painted all the big pictures. In my heart, I just felt I couldn't do that, that way. And so, I just took off. She stayed on the tour and finished the tour. Dick (Clark) sany "Hey Paula" with her. He'll never forget that.
Q - He was your stand in?
A - Yeah. I'm not sure of how much of the other stuff he did, but, maybe it was just "Hey Paula". But, she finished the tour and was angry at e, as well she should be. I was so immature at the time. But, I went up to Oregon with some friends and haulded hay for awhile, which I'd done the year before. I came back and sort of took it on the chin, and went back and started working for old Major Bill. That might have been a mistake, but, it was the best I had at the tkme.

In one British interview the Beatles were bumped to give this duo time. No one knows the future.

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
All the rule of law guys must be in love with Reggie Walton right now.

Scooter Libby lied under oath. He got his day in court. Now he is going to jail.

End of bitter sarcasm.

Bill Clinton. Sandy Berger. O.J. Simpson. Probably William "Cold Cash" Jefferson.

Why? What happened?

Somebody give me a thoughtful answer.

One caveat: no explanation may characterize Scooter Libby as the absent-minded professor. The ludicrous memory defense is how we got into this mess.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
"What Next for Congressman William Jefferson, Representative from New Orleans, Louisiana?"

This was the question of the day this morning (6-5-07) on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.

After a brief summary concerning the ninety-four-page, sixteen-count indictment, some excerpts from the Washington Post and Times-Picayune editorials (both of which call for the resignation of Congressman Jefferson), C-SPAN's Steve Scully went to the phones:

First Caller from New Orleans, Louisiana:

What about Bush? Why not impeach Bush? He is the biggest liar of all time.

1. Bush stole the election twice.

2. What about Iran-Contra? Bush lied us into Iraq; he has blood on his hands.

3. He is busy smuggling illegal Mexicans into this country for free labor.

We re-elected Jefferson because we know he is going to help the people recover from Katrina. Why not concentrate on Bush and all his lies?

Steve Scully (interrupting with some facts): how do you feel about your hometown newspaper calling for the Congressman to resign? What about the $90,000 in the freezer?

Caller: How do you know the FBI did not plant that evidence? Let me tell you something, darling. This is just another subversion tactic by Bush to make us forget about Iraq and all of his misgiving with Iraq and Halliburton and he and Cheney. Investigate Bush and all his lies.

Steve: Thank you very much.

The next caller offered a salient point: with a jury pool consisting of people like the caller from New Orleans, Congressman Jefferson has every reason to believe he can beat the rap in court in a community in which 57 percent of the registered voters reaffirmed their loyalty to Jefferson and everything he represents.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
rac•ism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

na•tiv•ism: the policy of protecting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants.

Is the wave of popular revulsion against the immigration compromise among Republicans fueled by racism and/or nativism?

If you ask the opponents of a comprehensive compromise, they mostly say no. Most take profound umbrage at the suggestion.

I have argued that this debate is not really about illegal immigration; it is, in fact, about who and how many. That is, we could end the problem of illegality by waving our magic legislative wand. Therefore, "law and order" is not at the core of our emotional standoff; rather, our fight concerns the future of our culture as determined by the composition of the next generation.

The opponents to this particular immigration compromise have diverse reasons for their opposition. However, among the grassroots revolt is a vast multitude of Americans who believe that Mexicans are not educable and/or absorbable because of cultural differences and/or their limited capacity for ambition, comprehension and self-improvement.

Are these particular voices of skepticism racists? Are they nativists?

Part of the problem with this debate is that the label racist and nativist have become vile epithets.

Culture of Intolerance for Intolerance.

We live in a curious moment in time in which our collective rhetoric claims that we prize nonconformity, critical thinking and dissent. Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Certitude is tantamount to ignorance. Truth is in the eye of the beholder.

On the other hand, the forces of nonconformity and tolerance exert enormous peer pressure on public figures and private individuals to conform to the ideology of tolerance. So much so, intolerant dissenters put their livelihoods and tranquility at risk when they question the creed of tolerance.

Examples: academics who suggest that Asians score higher than persons of African descent on standardized tests are immediately suspect (at best) or ostracized (in the extreme). Woe to the politician who suggests that a larger percentage of African Americans go to prison for any reason other than systemic racism built up in our nation over the course of four hundred years of oppression. Race and abortion? Race and single-parent families? Race and wealth and poverty? You get the picture. All taboo subjects in our current climate, unless you tow the party line.

Moreover, "racism" has become the most powerful condemnation in our society on the personal level. You meet a person at an event who seems perfectly engaging and affable, but someone whispers in your ear: "he's a racist." A look of revulsion comes over your face. You take an extra sip of your drink because it suddenly takes great effort to get your food down. You begin to plot your immediate exit strategy, and you make sure you avoid eye contact with this person for the duration of the engagement.

Understanding that "racism" has become the deadliest of political poisons, conservative proponents of the immigration compromise should never have brought up racism or nativism as political cudgels with which to beat their brothers in temporary opposition--no matter how relevant the charge.

The Fair Solution: We should allow racists and nativists to make their case in the simplest terms in a non-hostile environment. I disagree with the assumption that White Europeans are inherently superior stock for democratic citizenship--but it is a reasonable argument for which serious people can produce reams of evidence from all kinds of disciplines including history, the social sciences and the hard sciences. It is a claim that is eminently more defensible that the 9-11 conspiracy theory. Why not let the racists and nativists have their day in open court?

But that is impossible. So, the folks who might ordinarily make their case in clear and logical terms must cloak their arguments in professions for "law and order," anti-terrorism warnings and outlandish projections concerning the budget and the already doomed and despised social safety net.

Of course, as I have said many times before, the most frustrating thing about this debate is the misdirected fury and dread. The anti-illegal-immigrant impulse is actually a manifestation of the completely understandable frustration with a changing culture, but, unfortunately, currently it has no place to surface other than stalking horse issues.
Timeless wisdom from Merle Haggard:

Wish a buck was still silver.

It was, back when the country was strong.

Back before Elvis; before the Vietnam war came along.

Before The Beatles and "Yesterday,"

When a man could still work, and still would.

Is the best of the free life behind us now?

Are the good times really over for good?

Are we rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell?

With no kind of chance for the Flag or the Liberty bell.

Wish a Ford and a Chevy,

Could still last ten years, like they should.

Is the best of the free life behind us now?

Are the good times really over for good?

The year was 1982. Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we were on the cusp of an American renaissance. Has the last twenty-five years been a aberrant up-tick in a longterm decline? Or, is it within our power to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off once again?

» Read More

My Mantra: Nobody Knows Anything.

But everybody says Fred Thompson is going to get into this race within the month. Let's assume they are right.

Where are we? And what does the advent of Thompson mean?

John McCain continues to spin his wheels in the soft, wet turf of the Republican primary. Although he presents legitimate conservative bona fides, the stalwarts within the movement cannot forgive his transgressions concerning campaign finance reform, a weak stomach on tax cuts and, now the final mortal blow to his chance at the nomination, his politically disastrous position on the current immigration reform.

Mitt Romney continues to raise a lot of money, look good on TV, perform well in the debates and court conservatives. Nevertheless, the former-Massachusetts governor has not captured the imagination of the nation, the party or even insomniac C-SPAN junkies. Significantly, Hugh Hewitt and Dean Barnett like him. No matter, he still looks like an also-ran to me.

Rudy continues to lead in the polls. He continues to enjoy respect and admiration from almost every Republican in America. However, we continue to ask the same question: can he overcome his unorthodoxy regarding abortion and gun control? Multiple marriages? Rudy is a long shot--but I tend to think he is a viable candidate. I think he could win the national primary in January and have as good a chance as anybody else to win in November.

Newt Gingrich continues to offer brilliant ideas and canny directions from the sidelines, desperately yearning for the fans to demand his insertion into the game. Will they? Probably not. Will he strap on a helmet and run onto the field of his own accord? Maybe--but I am betting against it. He is smart enough to avoid a humiliating rebuff. The race would need to be in near chaos this fall for Newt to have a chance.

Fred Thompson continues to grow in strength as a shadow candidate. He is a conservative (which is what is needed, we are told constantly). He is actually a taller and statelier version of McCain.

However, watching Thompson tonight on C-SPAN speaking to Republicans in Virginia, I am reminded that he is not as smooth as most of us are expecting. He is not Ronald Reagan--not even close. Of course, Ronald Reagan was a 100-year candidate. Thompson can hope to be as good as Clinton or Kennedy, with some practice, which is not too bad.

Also, to Thompson's advantage, his rougher-than-expected style will cut against the expectation of a glitzy movie star. He is going to run as a populist, conservative, log cabin (in the c.19 sense) kind of man of the people speaking common sense in plain language. It is a time-tested winning persona.

What might happen? Thompson may jump in here next month and rout the opposition. We'll see. On the other hand, some revelation, some concern about his health, some revealing gaffe, or just the fickleness of the modern electorate may cut his lofty stature down to size. Nobody knows.

If Thompson wins the nomination, can he win in November? Yes. Unlikely--but not impossible. The Democrats have the inside track. For myriad reasons, it is a Democratic year. A lot of extraordinary things must happen between now and the fall of 2008 for the Republicans to have a chance. But nothing is set in stone at this point. Stranger things have happened in American politics.
LGF has the roundup from Pakistan where the strengthening and assertive radical Islam is sending women back to the Dark Ages. Girls' Schools are a preferred target.

Cultural Relativists have been telling us that all cultures are equal. My response: don't construct a philosophical house you refuse to live in. I don't know of a single politically correct American who would move to Pakistan to live in an area controlled by Islamists.
From the NYT. Poison Chinese toothpaste found here in the states. Link from Drudge. Previous post.

Over 100 years ago in this country we set out to ensure consumer safety through food and drug inspections and standards. Now we are losing that guarantee with cheap imports. Viva free trade.

UPDATE: China seems to be handling things in its usual way: belligerently going on the offensive and blaming the U.S. for blowing things out of proportion. Story here.
This story should be huge. A reporter for TIME magazine in Vietnam, a man also used by several other western news agencies and reporters, was a communist agent who fed information to North Vietnam and fed propaganda to news agencies. Lind from Instapundit.

Unfortunately, it will be a cold, cold day in hell before the Sunday morning talk shows fixate on this topic, or CNN devotes extensive time to it.

Think about it: the American media was largely responsible for public opinion turning against the war in Vietnam (e.g., the Tet Offensive which was a stunning defeat for the Viet Cong and NVA was portrayed in the Western press as a stunning defeat for us). And in the midst of the reporting from Vietnam was a Vietnamese communist agent.

How many of the stringers and reporters used in the Middle East today take their orders from Islamic radicals?
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
The AP has this story listing the faith memberships of the presidential candidates.

We have discussed the church membership of some of the major candidates before here and here and here. Also, I consider Mormons to be members of a New Religion Historically Related to Christianity, not Christians. My explanation here.
The State of Oklahoma currently has an ad campaign to attract applicants for the Highway Patrol. I also notice more and more big-city police departments advertising for officers, even spending money out-of-state. And, as almost everyone knows, we have trouble attracting and keeping people in teaching.

When I was growing up the Highway Patrol did not need to advertise. They turned people away. They had stringent physical requirements including height. And, of course, only men need apply. Teaching openings also attracted lots of applications.

What's going on? In my view, a root cause of the present hiring difficulty is that positions of authority in America are difficult positions.

On the formal level, we hold teachers and especially law enforcement personel to standards of perfection. If your child does not learn it's the teacher's fault. If every last detail of procedure is not followed in enforcing the law, then woe to the officer from the political bureacracy and the courts. Meanwhile, the rights of students and criminals have been so expanded that little leverage remains.

On the informal level social attitudes work against the idea of authority. As a society we do not raise our children to submit to proper authority because it is the right thing to do.

Partly this situation results from the loss of metaphysics/religion from the public square. If we do not understand the universe to have hierarchy, then authority over others seems purely arbitrary. If we accept the notion, and our society does, that the individual is the supreme good, then authority is a concept without real meaning.

The cure? Parents, teach your children well.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few years ago I called in and reached my hero, Brian Lamb, on a Friday morning installment of Washington Journal. Oh, happy day! Anyhow, Brian, no doubt sensing my ecstasy, asked me a few questions, and I told him about myself and what I did (teach American history) and eventually offered up a theory of how C-SPAN represented a Jeffersonian version of democratic conversation as opposed to a Hamiltonian preference for government by elites.

As I was the last caller for the segment, Brian's in-studio celebrity pundit guest followed me directly. It was John Podhoretz, and he immediately declared the last caller from Waco an "amazing call" and went on to elaborate on my suggestion. It was at that point that I realized Podhoretz was an exceptionally astute observer of people and ideas.

In all seriousness, I like Podhoretz, and he is right on the mark today:

The lesson of the cascading crises for this administration in its second term is a simple one: These crises would have been avoided if it hadn't been for the failure to secure victory against the insurgency in Iraq.

Read the essay in its entirety here.

You may say that this is so obvious as to not warrant a column--but Podhoretz offers several salient points worth considering and this conclusion:

Bush has almost no political capital left with his own base, as the immigration debacle indicates. All his base wants is victory in Iraq.

And it's all he should have wanted, too. But he was seduced by the argument that victory in Iraq could be secured through political progress and not through force.

If you begin a war, you have to win the war. Nothing else matters. Nothing else.

I agree 100 percent. I have long said that the key for President Bush is winning in Iraq. Do that and everything comes together.

One other connected anecdote: This is obviously the week (perhaps even the day) when the worm turned for George Bush. That is, even his friends deserted him in droves this week. Such is life for a President. Such is life.

But the difference between success and failure is often pretty thin, turning on a moment or a decision or a bounce of the ball.

I am reminded of the movie Wall Street, when at the height of his success, Bud Fox listens as his sales manager assures him with a fatherly arm around his shoulder: "From the day I laid eyes on you, son, I knew there was something special about you."

Later, when the federal agents come to take Bud Fox away for illegal doings, the same sales manager spits out with vehemence: "From the day I laid eyes on you, boy, I knew you were no good."

Today it seems that the world of punditry knew from the very beginning that George Bush was no good.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I am increasingly of the opinion, for reasons of political survival, that the President and his coterie of GOP pragmatists should pull the plug on this immigration offensive, retreat and regroup. Notwithstanding, there are serious perils in that strategy.

What frustrates me most about the immigration debate:

We (America) have a serious problem, which we are not addressing. Instead, we (conservatives) are having an internecine bloodletting in which too many of the most severe national challenges are obscured by pernicious abstractions. Although it is in our power to come up with something workable, I fear that we are more likely to do nothing, perpetuating the status quo that brought us our current crisis, beating ourselves into critical condition in the process.


1. We have full employment in the United States of America. We also have millions of illegal undocumented immigrants in our country laboring and contributing to the economy. If we could find a way to erase those millions of workers, our economy would surely suffer.

An aside: I say "if" because I am skeptical of our ability to track these folks down and remove them, but, more significantly, I am certain that we don't have the will, even if there were a way.

Undoubtedly, Mexican immigration (illegal and otherwise) drives down wages. However, no Americans who want to work are displaced by immigrants. Americans who want to go to school to train (or retrain) for better opportunities are not blocked in that pursuit as a result of immigrants.

2. There are jobs Americans won't do. Any person who quibbles with that truism is a demagogue. Granted, the emotionally charged statement points to a major social problem: Too many Americans no longer believe in the dignity of labor.

But McCain is right: there are not many white, black or brown Americans who will pick lettuce in the hot South Texas sun for twelve hours a day, six days a week to scratch out a meager living. Most of us would starve rather than clean other people's toilets. Teenagers no longer get summer jobs hauling hay, working on the highway or mowing lawns. College kids don't bus tables anymore. The Puritan work ethic is long gone as an essential component of the American ethos.

Again, this observation points up a dangerous cultural weakness (completely distinct from the immigration crisis), which should be addressed. I concede, however, that our current system of immigration seriously contributes to this worrisome national condition. If any anti-illegal-immigrant advocates addressed this loss of work ethic, they would have my full attention. But no one is willing to take on this taboo subject. This simple fact of modern American life is a vital moral issue that we serially ignore.

3. Stop with the Slogans. Secure the border? Sure. Of course. Let's go ahead and balance the budget and win the war in Iraq, as long as we're tossing down bromides.

Fences and armed forces patrolling the border in itself will not solve our problems. Even if we could build a twenty-foot fence the length of the border, we would still need to deal with the millions of illegal (and much more relevant, undocumented) aliens living and working in America. We would need to set up a system that faced the realities of a changing marketplace, holding employers to account without driving them out of business with mindless regulations based upon unrealistic expectations. We need a comprehensive solution (admittedly a slogan) that includes border security as a necessary component.

Also, we ought to be realistic about "amnesty." Amnesty is necessary. The problem is not amnesty. The problem is enforcement of a workable plan. be continued.
Category: Immigration
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Tocqueville and I disagree sharply on immigration. He has been collecting highlights from the discussion on the web against the "compromise" bill, as well as contributing an outstanding original piece to our discussion yesterday (read here).

Today's haul of op-ed pieces seems especially fertile and noteworthy. It strikes me that we are fast approaching the moment of truth. The fruit of Tocqueville's efforts:

1. Peggy Noonan: President Bush has torn the conservative coalition asunder.

"What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future."

"This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place."

"The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they 'don't want to do what's right for America.'"

"They are trying to lay down markers for history. Having lost the support of most of the country, they are looking to another horizon. The story they would like written in the future is this: Faced with the gathering forces of ethnocentric darkness, a hardy and heroic crew stood firm and held high a candle in the wind. It will make a good chapter. Would that it were true!" (read the column in its entirety here).

2. Charles Krauthammer: Get in Line, Einstein

"[T]he campaign for legalization does not stop at stupidity and farce. It adds mendacity as well. Such as the front-page story in last Friday's New York Times claiming that "a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status."

"Sounds unbelievable. And it is. A Rasmussen poll had shown that 72 percent of Americans thought border enforcement and reducing illegal immigration to be very important. Only 29 percent thought legalization to be very important. Indeed, when a different question in the Times poll -- one that did not make the front page -- asked respondents if they wanted to see illegal immigrants prosecuted and deported, 69 percent said yes" (read the op-ed in its entirety here).

3. Hugh Hewitt: Can Any Immigration Bill Be Saved?

"At this point I take out my Harriet Miers Fan Club charter membership card and put it on the table: This push for this bill is a disaster, Mr. President. Much much worse than the Miers nomination on which you had many good arguments, or the ports deal, on which you had fewer. On this issue there is no place to stand, and you are asking your friends in the Senate to go down fighting for a bad bill.

"It is a bad bill because no one believes the government can conduct millions of background checks (many spokesmen for the bill don't even pretend to know where the paperwork will go!). No one believes the bill will halt the next 12 million. No one believes you are going to assure the fence gets built. No one believes that the employer verification system will get done or work when some half-assed version of it does get done. No one believes that the probationary visas don't automatically convert illegal aliens with few if any rights into Due Process Clause covered legal migrants, with a Ninth Circuit ready and waiting to keep them here for decades" (read the entire post here).

4. Jim Pinkerton: An Optimistic Prediction:

"On immigration, the GOP finally exorcise(s) itself - rejecting the president's not-so-well-disguised amnesty plan. Whereupon Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential prospects [are] blown away; the Arizonan...disappear[s] in a dust-devil of four-letter insults aimed at fellow Republicans.

"Opponents of the 2007 immigration bill, led by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), force a series of votes on hot-button issues: Should English be the official language of the United States? Should illegal aliens be able to collect Social Security benefits? Should bilingualism be protected? Should dual citizenship with Mexico be expanded?

"In each instance, The New York Times counsel[s] the Democrats to vote in favor of "sophisticated" open-borders liberalism. And, of course, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), each hungering for The Times' presidential endorsement, [are] eager to please. But the "Reagan Democrats" - the folks who had elected populist Democrats such as Jim Webb and Jon Tester to the Senate in 2006 - [are] not so pleased.

"So when the Republicans finally [find] their voice on immigration, the Reagan Democrats [are] re-Reaganized. Finally, Republicans [are] speaking about realism and the national interest, always a winner for them.

"The Democrats [try] to fight back, using the health care issue, but the GOP [is] ready with a response, pointing to moderate health plans enacted by Republican governors from Massachusetts to California.

"Finally, late in the '08 campaign, the Democrats attempt to energize their own small base, endorsing gay marriage and repeal of the Patriot Act."

It [doesn't] work. The Republicans, nominating a ticket free of any close association with the outgoing administration, [win] a comfortable victory.

It could happen. Read all of Pinkerton here.

Thanks again, Tocqueville for your diligence on this issue.
I have not been happy that we have had talks with Iran, especially that we started on Memorial Day. But this post on Wizbang makes me feel somewhat better.