You are currently viewing archive for December 2008
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Due to the elevation of its junior senator to the presidency of the United States, Illinois state law requires its governor to appoint a qualified candidate to fill the open seat for the remainder of the term, terminating with the regularly scheduled canvass for senate in 2010. Yesterday, the duly elected governor, Rod Blagojevich, appointed, Roland W. Burris, longtime Illinois public servant, to represent the people of the Prairie State. In ordinary times, this would all be pro forma and not much of a news story. But these are no ordinary times.

Backed up by the President-elect, Senate Democratic Leadership has drawn a line in the sand, forswearing to block the appointment, arguing that Governor Blagojevich, as a result of his recently discovered perfidy, is unfit to make the selection.

From the Senate Democratic Leadership:

"This is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus."

Statement in full on PDF here courtesy of C-SPAN; interestingly, this statement is not available as of this writing on any of the usual Senate websites.

Democratic Leadership is wrong. It makes no sense to block a legitimate replacement appointment solely because of his indirect relationship with a politician about whom you are feeling guilty and politically vulnerable.

Burris is a qualified candidate in terms of the Constitution, which admittedly does not set a very exacting standard: 30 years of age, nine years a citizen of the United States, and a current resident of Illinois. More significantly, as all parties acknowledge, Burris is also an eminently qualified candidate in terms of reputation and political experience.

There is no reason to believe that Burris cannot effectively represent the people of Illinois. Harry Reid and his boys ought to take a deep breath, admit that Blago outfoxed them--and then stand down.

Granted Blagojevich is most likely a bad guy, which Harry Reid and company knew long before Patrick Fitzgerald made the man a pariah. What changed exactly? Legally, not much. This governor, who remains unindicted (at this point he faces only a criminal complaint), has all the formal power he did before December 9th.

UPDATE: Just now USA Patrick Fitzgerald asked for a 90-day extension to indict (breaking news via USA Today here). Really, what in the Sam Hill is going on with this case?

Thus far the Illinois legislature has not gotten serious on impeachment, nor have they enacted legislation that would have placed the replacement decision in the hands of the voters (legislation which Blogojevich had promised to sign). The common wisdom holds that the Democratic-run Illinois state senate balked upon considering the possibility that a special election might favor a Republican candidate in this atmosphere.

So, in the absence of action on the part of the legislature, the governor reasonably argues that he has an obligation to move forward.

According to the Constitution, the Senate reserves the right to refuse service to anyone it pleases. But this may well be a case in which the institutional "right" conflicts with right and wrong, and the fine print may not be in keeping with the "spirit of the law."

Bottom line: Harry Reid and company need to hold their noses (for public consumption), seat Burris, and move on.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
There is a growing sense that the 111th Congress will not include a Senator Kennedy from New York.

Why? The reasons are numerous and growing every time Caroline Bouvier Kennedy (Schlossberg) faces the people and the media. She is not impressive. She is going South fast in terms of public opinion, and even the press corps is starting to feel uncomfortable with her. As improbable as it might have seemed a week ago to deny this heir apparent to America's favorite political dynasty, it is increasingly evident that the ascension is a non-starter.


Ironically, deliciously, the "Palin Standard" is gaining currency--not with the mainstream media, who continue to exist in a tortured state of denial concerning their journalistic malpractice in 2008, but with the less-pedigreed class of politician watchers. Inquiring minds want to know: what makes Caroline qualified for high office? What are her positions on the issues? What has she been doing over the last thirty years? How often has she voted? How does she respond to the bright lights and rapid-fire questions from the Fourth Estate? How many times does she say "you know" in a three-minute interview?

In fact, she is quite unlike Sarah Palin? She is not nearly as experienced, as likable, as telegenic, or as articulate as the Alaska governor.

Caroline supporters were counting on a "stuff job." They believed they could make the locals choke down this decree from on high--and smile during the process. Evidently her backers have not given up on that strategy, but things are tough and getting much tougher. Even more troublesome for her campaign, she is not responding to adversity like a champion. She really is "deer caught in the headlights" unprepared. My sense is that she is about to fold like a house of cards.

Even if her partisans are successful in thrusting her upon the Senate, she will face more of the same. In fact, one might plausibly argue that the best thing for what ails Republicans right now might very well be a brittle and tongue-tied heiress in the Senate as a symbol for the new Democratic Age.

But those Democrats are smarter than they used to be. This about-to-be President, whose support will be absolutely essential if Kennedy is to prevail, seems to understand when to pull the trigger on dead weight.

I could no more renounce him than I could renounce...wait a minute...hold I was saying, I renounce him.

I have a strong hunch that Caroline is about to go away.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
During the the most disquieting white-knuckle moment of Campaign 2008, in an attempt to explain his loyalty for his controversial pastor, Barack Obama famously served up his white grandmother as an analogous relationship:

a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

On second thought, maybe the late Mrs. Madelyn Dunham and her notorious prejudice against black men was not so misplaced.

From the Wall Street Journal today:

WASHINGTON -- Murders of African-American teenagers have risen 39% since 2000 and 2001, according to a report due out Monday.

Homicides in which blacks ages 14 to 17 years old were the victims rose to 927 over the two-year period of 2006-07, the last years for which statistics are available, compared with 666 during 2000-01, according to the study by criminal-justice professors at Boston's Northeastern University. The 39% increase is much greater than the rise in overall homicides, which jumped 7.4% from 2000-01 to 2006-07.

In all seriousness, one of my central hopes for a Barack Obama administration is this: as an African American president, he will have the resolve and credibility to deal with this long-festering American tragedy of urban violence, which, up until this moment, for reasons of political correctness and our tortured racial past, has been an unutterable and untouchable societal quagmire.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A lot to say here--but nothing you haven't already thought for yourself.

I tend to think most of the Obama-Blago connections are not especially damning (at least, relatively innocent on the "Chicago scale"). Moreover, a press corps not frothing at the mouth in pursuit of a president is refreshing--and I think a necessary change in our political culture.

Having said that, coming from where we've been, you must get a chuckle out of this relationship between the Fourth Estate and their hero.

Pretty funny stuff.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
The voters chose a slogan not a plan,
an image, not a man.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The most logical explanations for Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama's secretary of state are the ones we already know:

1. She is capable.
2. She is an international superstar.
3. She qualifies as a moderate voice in the Democratic Party foreign policy establishment.
4. The "Team of Rivals" thing makes for good PR.
5. Multiplication is better than division; that is, Demo Party healing.

On the other hand, for your consideration, here are two wild (but unfortunately mutually exclusive) scenarios:

1. Obama knew well that the publication of the Clinton Foundation list of donors might disqualify Hilary as a nominee, which would make O look like a gracious winner and, as an added bonus, forever end the political career of a dangerous rival. Truly Machiavellian.

2. As we now know that Princess Caroline wants the New York Senate seat, is it possible that Barack paid back his vital early supporter by rotating Hillary out of office into the cabinet, clearing the field for the next installment of the Kennedy Dynasty?

Neither conspiracy scenario is likely--but good for a chuckle.

19/12: The Gay Mafia

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The term "Gay Mafia," as it has come to be used by arts and entertainment insiders, does not fully or accurately capture the influence (or methodology) of gay activism on current political debate. The extreme harassment exerted by the gay lobby in certain parts of this country is more like the violently persuasive peer pressure and economic coercion employed by the old White Citizen's Councils of the Deep South during the post-Brown years.

However, our common usage of Mafia, thanks to Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, connotes a more fiendishly implicit brand of influence. "We will make him an offer he can't refuse." "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes." The Corleones are deadly, but they have style, and they are charmingly indirect, and they are polite (as they shoot you in the back of your head).

But the Gay Mafia is not subtle. The Gay Mafia is screechingly "in your face." "Gay McCarthyism" or "Gay Fascism" strikes me as an even more accurate label. Like the McCarthyites of old, too many gay activists are not so worried about the facts. Just turn up the volume and start screaming accusations.

This exchange between Ray Suarez and Harry Knox (an official from the Human Rights Campaign) on last night's Newshour on PBS with(out) Jim Lehrer, discussing the announcement that Rick Warren will deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration, is emblematic:

HARRY KNOX: [W]e were profoundly disappointed in the president-elect's pick because he chose someone who is a divisive person, who has attacked our community and attacked our families, families like mine, and called us every horrible thing he can think of.

And that's the person that the president-elect has chosen to represent all of religious thought in America on this most important symbolic day, this very first day of his administration.

For us, it was a real slap in the face that the person who associated people like me and my partner, Mike, my husband, Mike, with bestiality and polygamy and pedophilia, of all things, would be the person that the president-elect would choose.

Say what? Are we talking about the same Rick Warren? Soft and fuzzy, "purpose-driven," compassionate evangelical Rick Warren?

More Harry: This is a person who has fundamentally disrespected people like me on every occasion that he had opportunity. He has, in fact, leveraged homophobia to get ahead in his career. And this is like putting an anti-Semite at the first part of the program and then saying, "Well, we're going to add a rabbi at the end. Won't all the Jews be happy?"

This is the worst possible choice the president-elect could have made. This is a divisive choice, not one that brings America together.

Either you are with us, or you are a Nazi. What bothers me most about the debate over "gay rights" these days is the "intolerance." Too many front-persons for the gay agenda behave like Harry Knox.

There was a time when I was inclined to support gay rights, certainly civil unions, and, at times, even the possibility of gay marriage. I am much less sympathetic to the cause these days. Why? My hunch is that the marriage debate is merely a means to a more significant end. I worry that the Gay Civil Rights Movement is intent on settling for nothing less than total equality, enforced by federal "civil rights" legislation directed at rooting out "discriminators" and "homophobes," wherever they may be.

I am happy to have a public conversation in which "reasonable people can disagree without being disagreeable," to quote the President-elect, but these guys are looking to steamroll the debate by stridently shouting down any dissenting opinion.

I am growing more and more frustrated with the not so "velvet" intimidation.

NOTE on Recent Influences: many thanks to the recent piece by Francis Beckwith in First Things, which helped me to coalesce my thoughts on this matter.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In light of a former Iowa governor ascending to the head of the Department of Agriculture, I offer this brief basic point:

As a general principle, I am against burning food as fuel.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I am not going to spend a lot of time defending the legacy of George Bush. In short, the history of his tenure as president is complicated. He was a well-intentioned man who faced a whole slew of nearly intractable problems. From those unenviable circumstances he often attempted to pick the least disastrous alternative available. He won some, and he lost some. He was sometimes courageous. He was sometimes comically imbecilic. He was sometimes both. But he was never an incompetent, or an ignoramus, or a fascist--regardless of what a host of otherwise intelligent people erroneously asserted.

It is too cliche to assert that "history will judge him," but there is absolute truth in that old saw. For the rest of our lives, partisans (and that includes journalists and academics) will argue vehemently over him. Then, generations from now, disinterested historians will attempt to view him from different perspectives and judge his administration against the context of all the current and subsequent history we cannot know in our time. Then the historical-industrial complex will endlessly revise themselves in an atmosphere of decreasing popular interest to generations to whom the name George Bush will only conjure up only the faintest recognition.

If the world continues to turn, and the United States continues to exist as a free nation, all of this will inevitably come to pass--with or without my commentary.

Secondly, I am not going to waste my breath explaining how the mainstream media employed an egregiously unprecedented double standard in its coverage of the candidacy and/or the presidency of Barack Obama. Either you have eyes to see that--or not. But, at this point, who cares?

Much more importantly, we face a real crisis, mostly of our making, in the here and now.

Barack Obama was duly elected through a process all good Americans hold sacred. He is the only president we have for the next four years, and the next four years are "make or break" for the good ole USA.

If it makes the other side feel better to blame all the bad news that's fit to print on George Bush, whatever gets them through the night. But don't waste my time with those increasingly irrelevant distractions, and don't bend history to justify your lopsided political ideology.

We don't have time for that old parlor game. We cannot afford the luxury of blind partisanship anymore. It is time to put away childish things. All good men need to come to the aid of their country. We need to be wide awake and committed to watching one another's backs as we fight our way out of this extremely precarious position.

In brief, in terms of this president, I have a few reasons for hope:

1. Barack Obama is a smart fellow.
2. He has every reason to love America.
3. He has every reason to believe America is the land of the possible.
4. He has two children.

He has a lot of reasons to reject the pablum of his old New Left cronies and lead us as a nation into a new era of responsibility and common sense. Such a feat will not be easy, but he is uniquely positioned to accomplish that unlikely task.

A few days ago I was asked to define Obama's top two priorities. I said:

1. The Economy. Understand that the party is over. Work out a sustainable plan for the USA going forward. Basic problem: we cannot be all things to all people. We can no longer believe that the key to economic success is spending every dime available and then some. The Keynesian Interlude is finally over. This will be an incredibly hard transition--but, providentially, Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to bear this bad news. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Barack can explain our new reality to a nation in need of tough love.

2. Foreign Policy. Barack inherits one war he does not like that is going well and one war he has promised to win that is unwinnable. He must find a way out of this personal quagmire (and we must help him--support him--as he backs off his campaign promises). Accepting our hard-won victory in Iraq, we must set a new sustainable foreign policy. We must learn from our mistakes. Again, we cannot be all things to all people. We must reconcile ourselves to the limits of American power. We must pick our spots wisely.

As I have said before, may God bless America. May God bless this President.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few quick thoughts on the bizarre shoe-throwing incident at the President's press conference in Iraq. Full story here in the Washington Post.

1. The President demonstrated his celebrated athleticism in deftly avoiding the shoe projectiles at short range. Watch the video. Those things are coming in fast (especially shoe number one; by shoe number two, the shoe-hurler seems to have lost his nerve and, obviously, his best chance to catch the President by surprise).

2. I appreciate the President's good humor in the face of the attack and the ensuing chaos. In slo-mo, he actually looks amused by the oncoming brogan. Afterwards, he graciously takes the whole affair in stride, smiling and offering a friendly Texas, "don't worry about it," to his embarrassed hosts.

3. Not surpisingly, most of the reporting today is emphasizing the exhiliration on the "Arab street" and the parallels to the fall of Saddam. We are being told that the shoe-thrower, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, is now a big hero to many Iraqis.

FTR: while some stories have security forces beating the assailant, on the video, I could not detect any blows cocked or landed. However, one can hear the journalist-turned-protester wailing in an almost comical way as he is wrestled to the ground.

Notwithstanding, my guess is that before this is all over, the story will be that President Bush cried like a woman while his valiant attacker stoically faced the wrath and power of the Infidel Empire.

So it goes.

The Good News: as of 20 January, all of these folks are going to love us.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few quick observations regarding Fitzmas:

1. Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true. Three years ago all good little Democrats went to bed on Christmas Eve hoping for a Patrick Fitzgerald bill of indictment directed at their favorite villain: Karl Rove. It never came. But this Holiday Season, ironically, the "Fitzmas" finally arrived, with a whole slew of "complaints" against the Democratic Party home-state governor and erstwhile ally of the President-elect.

2. For all the newly initiated politicos brought into the system on the Obama wave, who only know what the mainstream media reported during the last election cycle, this disclosure that "Chicago Politics" has a seamy side must feel quite jarring. Really? You mean Illinois has a political history between Honest Abe and the Agent of Change? Surely, our national redeemer, fully man but also fully divine, must be as horrified as we are at this revelation.

In truth, all things considered, Barack Obama is looking relatively good in all this. After all, he never offered anyone a million big ones in unmarked bills for a political favor, the bad guy called him an "m-f-er" for not playing ball, and it looks like no Obama insiders are implicated in the dirtiest of the deeds. On the other hand, this is not good for the President-elect.

Obama and his team necessarily joined the stampede of Chicago politicians running to microphones to proclaim their absolute shock to discover that there was gambling in the backroom of "Rick's Café Américain." Frankly, that scene bordered on the ridiculous. Give the Obama Gang credit for not being in total cahoots with this fellow--but let's be serious. We know they were all swimming and drinking from the same water hole. There is going to be some blow back from this scandal. There are undoubtedly people and political associations that link Obama and his brain trust to the crooks (Tony Rezko comes to mind, for starters).

True, Obama has a complicit media still running interference for him, but this fiasco is going to cost him some credibility and equity with the adoring prObama press corps. This is no where near the beginning of the end of the honeymoon--but it is a weight on the scale that will inevitably shift at some point in the public life of Barack Obama from adoration to contempt.

3. Give Patrick Fitzgerald some credit for keen political instinct. I have little doubt that everything alleged in the "complaint" is true and accurate (in the aggregate), but it feels rushed. The timing is suspect. Why? We all know that the insider speculation has had Obama shutting down the pesky US Attorney bulldog. Fitzgerald just became a household name again. Buttressed by his Scooter Libby "bonafides," and elevated once again into the public consciousness as the ultimate no-nonsense "honest as the day is long" lawman, Fitz just made himself bullet-proof. The SOB is now much too famous to sack.

Obama is going to have to live with Fitz as long as Fitz wants to sniff around Chicago. At this point, there is really no guessing what he might find there--but you can bet there are a lot of prominent Chicago politicians sleeping uneasy this week.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From Chris Cillizza and the Washington Post:


"Sarah Palin: While Chambliss' winning margin suggests he would have won whether or not Palin stumped for him on Monday, the Alaska governor's high profile swing through the state is sure to be cited by her backers as evidence of her political potency as talk of 2012 heats up."

That reportage on the big win in GA is pretty mild compared to many other analyses.

Bottom Line: Sarah Palin rocks.

As for the advice from Democrats to drop Palin like a bad habit (for our own good), I think the GOP is likely to say "thanks--but no thanks."

Sarah is here to stay. The girl's a rainmaker.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Gates, Clinton, and Jones.

What about Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, and Susan Rice?

If Holder is no great AG, it won't be the first time we have had an incompetent or a lightning rod or both at that position. Remember, JFK quipped that he was giving the position to his younger brother to get him some experience. Here is a list of AG's. My bet is that Holder will NOT be the worst ever.

Does it really matter who runs DHS? Homeland security strikes me as the ultimate boondoogle (to quote a friend); that is, the star-crossed agency is the epitome of a bloated and ineffective government solution to a vital problem, originally and primarily designed as a CYA.

Susan Rice? Is she related to Condi Rice? Seriously, folks, ambassador to the UN is not exactly where the rubber meets the road in American foreign policy.

But Gates, Clinton, and Jones. In that order:

1. Much more than we had a right to wish for in arguably the most vital department of the government.

2. Much better than the alternatives (Kerry, Richardson, and/or Biden).

3. Marine. Not every Marine is Chesty Puller--but it's a better place to start than Les Aspin.

Are there going to be some egregiously offensive (to us) cabinet picks? Of course. But, then again, we lost. That is one of the unhappy consequences of losing elections.

03/12: Jeb?

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Today, potentially, marks the beginning of the return of Jeb Bush.

Perhaps this post I composed a few years ago (Sept. 2006) is worth revisiting (albeit hilariously un-prescient on several key points):

Is Jeb Bush finished as a Prospective President?

Right now, if the public opinion polls are accurate, the American electorate holds President Bush in such low esteem that anyone associated with his administration seems tainted. No one is mentioning Alberto Gonzales as a potential governor and future presidential candidate. The recent boomlet for Condi Rice for 2008 has fizzled, partly as a result of her non-interest, but more importantly because the affairs of state seem so dismal. And Jeb Bush, once "the next in line" in the Bush dynasty, seems suddenly and completely finished as a prospective president. Is he really?

Maybe not. Jeb Bush continues to be an extremely popular person (and eminently electable candidate) in a very important state. Also, the death of Jeb Bush's viability assumes the permanence of disdain for Bush-43.

The only thing certain about American politics is that nothing is certain.

George Herbert Walker Bush lost in 1992 with 39 percent of the popular vote. At that point, for most Americans, Bush-41 epitomized an inept, insensitive, and detached failed leader. Almost immediately, Americans felt guilty for their poor treatment of this good American.

An aside: I always get a chuckle when Democrats profess their great admiration for George Herbert Walker Bush. I suspect some of that is just talk, and some of it is a rhetorical foundation for criticizing the son, but I think to myself: we could've used some of that kind-spiritedness in '92. One possible lesson: you don't win elections extending your hand across the aisle and impressing the opposition as a decent and competent fellow.

How did guilt over handing George-41 his walking papers help the son? As more citizens came to believe that the elder Bush received a raw deal, the younger Bush grew in stature as a candidate for governor of Texas and then for president. Many Americans felt the Bushes deserved a second chance.

Assuming that the current President Bush has bottomed out in terms of public opinion (it is hard to imagine things getting worse; even in the current polls, he seems to be slightly on the upswing); assuming Iraq continues to be very bad for the foreseeable near term--but then settles finally into a lackluster stability, George Bush and his team will rebound a bit in the minds of Americans. After four (or eight) years of Clinton-44, there will be a natural reappraisal of the second Bush presidency. At that moment, Jeb may very well emerge as a familiar fresh face.