Archives

You are currently viewing archive for February 2009
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Today the President announced the intended withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

While I am grateful that he seized this moment to salute our military and briefly recognize the most-overlooked hero in the recent happy turn of events in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, the President took great pains NOT to characterize the wind-down to this six-year conflict as anything resembling success.

Even as this President inherits a world in crisis, ironically, we can point to Iraq as one of the few areas of the world in which the situation on the ground is greatly improved over its condition eight years previous. President Obama can rest a little bit easier each night knowing that Iraq no longer poses a grave threat to American interests or regional security; in fact, the new Iraq, incredibly, today stands out as one of the few bright spots in an extremely troubled Middle East.

An Aside: the implicit trade off seems to be that President Obama will allow Secretary Gates and Generals Petraeus and Odierno to hammer down the hard-won victory in Iraq--as long as no one mentions that inconvenient fact publicly. We'll take that deal.

One more thing: for years we have heard the opposition harangue President Bush over the cost of the war in terms of blood and treasure.

The human cost has been high (over 4250 American soldiers killed in action).

However, the projected trillion-dollar price tag for the transformation of Iraq, relative to the events of the past month, suddenly seems like a drop in the bucket.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I have said before that Bobby Jindal is likely to be the next Republican elected president of the United States. Some of the bloom came off his rose this week, but c'est le vie politique. Climbing the greasy pole is, by definition, not easy; the journey to the Oval Office is not usually a rocket ship to the moon. No matter, the youthful governor of Louisiana continues to impress me as the most articulate and dynamic young face in the GOP, and, reminding you that nobody knows anything--and that goes double for me, I stand by my prediction. Having said that, for myriad reasons, he should not be our candidate for 2012.

Who's it going to be? Mitt Romney, who gave a rousing speech today at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Why?

He is ready and willing. Defeating an incumbent Obama will be a daunting task in 2012 (I say impossible). Most ambitious Republicans will be hanging back to position themselves for the better window for victory in 2016. For a number of reasons (age being one of them), Romney will be reluctant to sit out a cycle. Moreover, if the planet does not slip off its axis between now and then, he will also be in position to finance his own campaign, if necessary.

But that won't be necessary. Romney emerged from 2008 as the conservative favorite in the race. Conservatives had to hold their noses as John McCain, the epitome of center-right Republicanism, won the nomination and went on to lose the General Election in a big way. Never mind that 2008 was a year so poisoned for Republicans that a resurrected Abraham Lincoln would have faced an uphill battle, the McCain campaign proved to many that moderation is a losing hand. Right-wing Republicans will rise again during the next cycle, arguing that it is time to run an ideologically pure movement conservative. Romney now fits that bill.

Romney is a handsome man and a talented orator (albeit with some limits). He exudes an aura of confidence and competence on economic issues. Right now, we think the next election will center on the economy (of course, conventional wisdom held for a long time that the previous election would turn on progress in Iraq--ooops). Mitt Romney can present a cogent and compelling case for conservative fundamentals.

Any Republican candidate is likely to lose the next election. Romney probably has a better chance than most of pulling off an upset. If he does not, he will run with integrity and vigor--and we won't waste any of our promising young guns in a brave but fatal charge against Cemetery Ridge.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
As I was fairly early on the scene with my assertion that the Senate should seat Roland Burris, I feel obligated to join the castigation chorus post haste.

I associate myself with these remarks from the Washington Post :

"Mr. Burris should resign."
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Poor Judd Gregg.

What was he thinking?

That seems to be the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question. Actually, I know exactly what he was thinking. The country is in trouble. Our party played an indispensable role in getting us where we are. Can I be part of the solution?

The old system has broken down--so much so that my party seems wholly disconnected with our traditional principles and original raison d'etre. Does this president from the other side of the aisle see the folly of his caucus--as I see the folly of my own? Can we come together and do the right thing for the country, transcending the old rules and creating a new political paradigm imagined long ago by the framers?

Okay. You guessed it. I am talking about me as much as him.

What was I thinking?

Judd and I were desperate--and desperate people do desperate things.

Why so desperate? After decades of Republican ascendancy, the electorate snatched away the keys as the country lurches toward our most lethal national crisis since the Civil War. Team Pelosi seems absolutely intent on pressing the accelerator to the floor as we approach the on-coming cliff, happily reminding the world that George Bush pointed us in this direction.

What to do? The Republican brand is busted, and it will be decades before Americans begin to forgive and forget the great GOP betrayal. What can we do right now?

Frantic questions in real time: what if this fellow really is something different? What if his plea "to be my president too" is sincere? What if he is smart enough to realize that Nancy Pelosi only wants to drive us off into the abyss? What if I could be one of the courageous statesmen who helps him inaugurate an entirely new American era?

I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and...


In the end, Judd Gregg and I could not coexist in a coalition in which Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman call the shots. Somebody had to go. Unfortunately, it was us.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Link from LGF.

This is funny right here, I don't care who you are.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Last week I commented with suspicion on the move by Obama to bring the decadal census under the control of the White House. Here. Imagine if it were a Republican White House and the Census was reporting to Karl Rove. The MSM and fellow-travelers would be having a fit.

John Fund in a Wall Street Journal essay offers his thoughts.

Here are excerpts:

"There's only one reason to have that high level of White House involvement," a career professional at the Census Bureau tells me. "And it's called politics, not science."

. . .

Mr. Chapman worries about a revival of the effort led by minority groups after the 2000 Census to adjust the totals for states and cities using statistical sampling and computer models. In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Department of Commerce v. U.S. House that sampling could not be used to reapportion congressional seats. But it left open the possibility that sampling could be used to redraw political boundaries within the states.

Such a move would prove controversial. "Sampling potentially has the kind of margin of error an opinion poll has and the same subjectivity a voter-intent standard in a recount has," says Mr. Chapman.

Starting in 2000, the Census Bureau conducted three years of studies with the help of many outside statistical experts. According to then Census director Louis Kincannon, the Bureau concluded that "adjustment based on sampling didn't produce improved figures" and could damage Census credibility.

The reason? In theory, statisticians can identify general numbers of people missed in a head count. But it cannot then place those abstract "missing people" into specific neighborhoods, let alone blocks. And anyone could go door to door and find out such people don't exist. There can be other anomalies. "The adjusted numbers told us the head count had overcounted the number of Indians on reservations," Mr. Kincannon told me. "That made no sense."

The problem of counting minorities and the homeless has long been known. Census Bureau statisticians believe that a vigorous hard count, supplemented by adding in the names of actual people missed by head counters but still found in public records, is likely to lead to a far more defensible count than sampling-based adjustment.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Note to Republicans:

To get an idea of where we are, try to wrap your mind around this calculation:

This fellow is incredibly likable and the most telegenic American politician since Reagan. He is smart and light on his feet. Even when he is patently disingenuous and/or obtuse, he is engaging and appealing.

Multiply these qualities by the fact that the media love him and are invested in his success.

What does it add up to? This is going to be a long and frustrating eight years for partisan opposition.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Quote from one of my favorite colleagues (an ultra insightful giant of a man, center-right in his politics):

"I feel like my man lost, but we still won the election."

I have happily shared that sentiment. Until now.

The Bad News: we finally lost the election this week.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Can't anybody play this game?

Tax problems, tax problems, tax problems. Obama's process for nominations seems even more incompetent than Jerry Jones on draft day.

Here is another good one: David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General. The man has argued against anti-pornography filters at public libraries and other cases for pornographers, plus pro-abortion advocacy.

Seems to me that Obama needs to raise hell with his vetting group, fire some folks, and bring in competent people for his nominations team.

Wizbang has more.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
According to this report in CQ Politics

The director of the Census Bureau will report directly to the White House and not the secretary of Commerce, according to a senior White House official.

The decision came after black and Hispanic leaders raised questions about Commerce Secretary nominee Judd Gregg ís commitment to funding the census.


What could possibly go wrong in bringing the 2010 Census more under the control of a White House Administration with ties to ACORN?

My guess is that we will see another push to create the decadal census numbers used for Congressional apportionment based on models, rather than hard numbers. In the past the claim has been made that the Census Bureau regularly undercounts urban areas and minorities. To make up for this supposed shortfall, it has been advocated that estimated numbers be used. Here is a PBS NewsHour segment from 2001.

Sounds like a way to strengthen Democrat representation at the state and federal level.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
No difference. We could have gotten this Nancy Pelosi stimulus from President Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, or John Edwards. Nothing original about scare tactics and name calling.

It was a wonderful couple of weeks to imagine a new day. It was fun to believe in a post-partisan transformational leader for a fortnight.

I deserve all the clucking coming my way from my conservative friends.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Fact: Barack Obama possesses a world-class intellect and appears to be one of the coolest political operators to ever sit behind a desk in the Oval Office.

Fact: the President has assembled a "best and the brightest" caliber team of economic advisers.

Fact: we face an economic day of reckoning in which government action is undeniably necessary to avoid cataclysm.

Question: how in Heaven's name did Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Charlie Rangel, and the balance of the usual Left Coast liberal suspects draw the assignment to write the trillion-dollar stimulus package?

I have been holding my fire, waiting patiently and confidently for the "miracle in the Upper Chamber," in which the new President quietly goes bipartisan and deftly disposes of the Pelosi abomination. But we are getting a bit close to the edge. The new rhetoric from the White House is a bit scary.

If we come out of here, in the face of this national crisis, with nothing more than an anachronistic big-spending, big-government, 1960s-style liberal appropriations package, with some added anti-Republican class warfare rhetoric as the icing on top, I will be crushed--and mad.

I know this is early--but it is not too soon to assert that President Obama is at a major crossroads. The content of this massive stimulus bill will determine the character of his administration and the future course of the United States of America. Good God, I hope he gets this right.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
The Gallup people are releasing on their web site some 2008 data broken down by state. Included are political party affiliation, and the importance of religion.

Adults esponding positively to the question "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" :

TOP TEN
Mississippi 85%
Alabama 82%
South Carolina 80%
Tennessee 79%
Louisiana 78%
Arkansas 78%
Georgia 76%
North Carolina 76%
Oklahoma 75%
Kentucky, Texas (tie) 74%

BOTTOM TEN
Vermont 42%
New Hampshire 46%
Maine 48%
Massachusetts 48%
Alaska 51%
Washington 52%
Oregon 53%
Rhode Island 53%
Nevada 54%
Connecticut 55%


No real surprises here. I myself put more emphasis on measured behaviors such as church attendance and giving, but I think this poll has value in a general way. One thing that stands out to me is how high the positive responses were in the bottom ten states. By the standard of Western Europe, even Vermont would seem a hotbed of religious fanaticism.

Here are the top and bottom ten Democrat Party states with the Dem party advantage

TOP DEMOCRAT STATES
District of Columbia 75%
Rhode Island 37%
Massachusetts 34%
Hawaii 34%
Vermont 33%
New York 27%
Connecticut 26%
Maryland 26%
Illinois 24%
Delaware 23%

BOTTOM DEMOCRAT STATES (or, top Republican states)
Utah -23%
Wyoming -20%
Idaho -15%
Alaska -11%
Nebraska -7%
Kansas -2%
Alabama -1%
Arizona 0
South Carolina 0
3-way tie 1


No real surprises. Note that the Top and Bottom Ten in each category have a slight correlation. None of the Top Ten states on the importance of religion is a Top Ten Democrat state, and two are Top Ten Republican states. None of the Bottom Ten on the importance of religion is a Top Ten Republican state, and four are Top Ten Democrat states.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
During some pretty uncomfortable confirmation hearings, when faced with questions of delinquent taxes hurriedly brought current in the face of his impending nomination as Secretary of Treasury, the supporters of Tim Geithner argued that he was supremely and uniquely qualified for the position. That is, with the economy in free fall, the brilliant Robert Rubin-Lawrence Summers acolyte, Bush-appointed chairman of the Fed Bank of New York, and a man who inspired confidence on both sides of the aisle, was the only person suitable for the most critical position during the most precarious financial crossroads since the Great Depression.

For the most part, Republicans held their fire and passed on the opportunity for partisan gain, quietly believing that Geithner was much better than any other choice they could ever expect from an Obama administration. Too much was at stake. Irony be damned, some commentators observed wryly, his nomination was just "too big to fail."

Now, Tom Daschle, nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services secretary, faces some unsavory tax questions of his own.

Just a few days ago, Mr. Daschle amended his 2005-07 tax returns and paid $128,203 in back taxes and $11,964 in interest. The corrected returns reflect additional income for consulting work, the free use of a corporate limousine, and erroneously declared deductions for charitable contributions.

The devastating line that is making the rounds:

"A limousine liberal who refused to pay taxes on his limousine."

Is Tom Daschle too big to fail
? Yes and No.

Surely, no one would argue that Mr. Daschle is anything close to "uniquely qualified" to run Health and Human Services, or, for that matter, even that the Department was somehow essential to the health and happiness of our republic. Surely, we can move forward and prosper as a nation--even without the experienced hand and comforting voice of the former senator from South Dakota.

But there is something else. Tom Daschle himself is a big man in politics. He has a lot of powerful friends in high places. The Senate is generally inclined to protect members of its incredibly exclusive club, especially when we recall that Daschle was not just a member, he was club president (one-time Senate Majority Leader).

In addition, Daschle and President Obama enjoy a special relationship. Just as the good people of Illinois were electing a new junior senator back in 2004, the misguided South Dakota electorate was cashiering a Minority Leader. Exercising his uncanny ability to hitch himself to the right star, the outgoing senator insinuated his staff into the office of the incoming senator on the rise. Theirs has been a very close friendship ever since--with Daschle swinging early support over to the insurgent Democratic candidate early on in his quest for the nomination. No question, President Obama is certainly indebted to Daschle.

Not surprisingly, news reports from the White House have the President unequivocally sticking by his man.

Many are asking: what would have been the reaction from the other side, and from the mainstream media, if this had been President Bush's nominee?

I have consciously avoided that brand of question over the last few months. Why? The answer is usually too obvious for a serious reply. But, more importantly, most of us agree that the treatment of President Bush at the hands of his partisan opposition and the mainstream media was unconscionable--and damaging to the American political fabric.

So, it is very important to me that we do not adopt a standard for dealing with this President that we know in our hearts is manifestly disruptive and unconstructive.

A better question: what would we expect from our side? What would we accept as a fair reaction to a Republican president's nominee in similar circumstances.

By that standard, this Daschle situation stretches our sense of charity and offends our sense of fairness. This nomination sends all the wrong signals. Even as the President scolds Wall Street for double-standards, he seeks to raise his tax-evading friend to high office. This nomination--coming as it does on the heels of some other recent ethically murky moves that we have let pass--leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

Tom Daschle: NOT TOO BIG TO FAIL.

Nice man--maybe. Innocent mistake--probably. Nevertheless, at this juncture, the administration should withdraw this nomination. If not withdrawn--the Senate should not confirm.