You are currently viewing archive for February 2007
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In light of the Stock Market uncertainty, I am reprising this analysis piece from the summer:

From July 2006:

I refuse to push the panic button on the economy, and I hate Vietnam parallels, but a growing chain of events gives me cause for concern.

The stagflation and misery of the 1970s arrived, in part, as a result of the belief that we could have "guns and butter" without sacrifice. During an extended and expensive overseas military expedition, the US attempted to leverage the Vietnam War and the Great Society with little concern for revenue. At the same time, American manufactures suffered from an increased period of competition from emerging industrial nations. And, finally, the American economy, heavily dependent on foreign oil, suffered mightily from the rise of OPEC, which attempted to punish the United States for its support of Israel.

I firmly believe that history does not repeat itself--but sometimes the present is eerily reminiscent of the past.

We are in the midst of a protracted and expensive military engagement, a huge event on which we are divided but strangely detached. We continue to run-up budget deficits to pay for the war and our pampered national lifestyle. Our manufacturers are in much worse shape than thirty-five years ago, evidenced by our ever-increasing trade deficits and changing labor reality. Add Israel and oil to this equation, during a time when we are more dependent on foreign fuel than ever before, and there are serious reasons for concern.

You have heard my numerous exhortations in the past to stay the course in Iraq. I am not backing away from that line of thinking. But there is real danger ahead. Although the President's approval ratings in general (and on Iraq specifically) have turned dismal, his initiative in the Middle East has moved forward despite its diminishing popularity (mainly because Iraq seems disturbing but peripheral to most Americans).

Added commentary: The above is obviously much less true in the early months of 2007 than it was last summer.

But an economic crisis would end all that. A deep recession would completely break America's will for war. The Iraq commitment survives precariously on the crest of this fortuitous economic wave. If this economy is as fragile as some have speculated, then the support for the war is just that tenuous.

More added commentary: Even more so today, an economic downturn would bring the war effort to a panic stop.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Guest Blog: Tocqueville

I am interested to see Hugh Hewitt agreeing with me that John McCain is toast and for the reasons Hewitt cites:

The GOP base has a trust issue with McCain, one that flows from the 2000 campaign, McCain-Feingold, the Gang of 14, the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, the September 2006 derailing of the Republican end-game strategy.

McCain is fading, and not because of his age or energy level, but because the GOP electorate has to absolutely believe that the next president will be as committed to victory as Bush has been. Senator McCain's avoidance of new media has been reinforcing the impression that he is unwilling to provide the assurances he needs to in order to regain the trust he has repeatedly broken with the GOP electorate over the years. There is time to turn that around, but Senator McCain is not making the effort, an effort that would begin by a relentless courting of the base rather than the Hardball/Meet The Press audience. Every week that Senator McCain delays launching that effort is a week in which the mayor and the governor gather more pledges and momentum. The big three could be the big two by Memorial Day.

Simple fact: McCain cannot win a head-on with Giuliani and perhaps is hopeless against others.

Giuliani hasn't the political and malodorous traits that pervade McCain (I can't stand him) and I doubt the public cares about The Mayor's divorces.

HH offers no insight on how important McCain's support and (supposed) supporters will prove in tipping the balance among whatever contestants remain. Also, lurking is the question whether McCain's neutralization might induce an entry by someone else.

Cited by Hewitt, here is Dick Morris's take.

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
As the Democratic primary intensifies, it will be interesting to see if anyone raises the religion issue with Obama. If he becomes the Democrat candidate, then I am sure his church membership will be an issue.

According to his official bio sketch on the website Obama '08, he and his family "live on Chicago's South Side where they attend Trinity United Church of Christ."

Regular readers of this blog have heard of the UCC before, arguably the most liberal American denomination. Official website here. Positions include support for abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

Trinity UCC, the congregation named by Obama's website as the family church, is truly an interesting church. The official church website features an outline of the continent of Africa upon entering the site. (more below)

» Read More

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Earlier I linked to an article from Newsweek that explored Hillary's Christian faith a bit. Later I posted on the way the article had been written in a way friendly to Hillary.

Now, a few more thoughts.

Does Hillary have a geniune Christian faith? On the one hand, I cannot see into her heart, and, Jesus will be Judge on the Last Day, not me. So I cannot and will not claim infallibility on the question. On the other hand, Jesus said that we are to make provisional judgments in this life. We are to judge trees by the fruit they bear.

The question we can address is this: is Hillary Clinton's behavior consistent with the Christian Faith? I have my doubts. She has been part of the Clinton "hit machine" for years now. The Clinton team has responded to any allegation by smearing and attempting to discredit all accusers and witnesses. Not Christian behavior. I also have my doubts that the windfall she made in futures trading was on the up and up. And, where were those documents before they were found in the presidential living quarters. This does not sound like Christian honesty. She also, as Dick Morris noted recently, finds it impossible to say "I'm sorry." She's stubborn. Not very good Christian behavior.

I am not perfect and do not claim to be. Again, I do not claim to know the depths of Hillary Clinton's heart. But this tree does not seem to bear good Christ-like fruit.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Positive stories about Senator John McCain are increasingly rare (he seems to be on the MSM and conservative media hit list), but Dan Balz in the Washington Post offers a reprieve from the new template:

"In Limbo in Washington, McCain Comes Alive in Iowa"

"But as he campaigned across Iowa this weekend, there were flashes of the old McCain. During town hall meetings in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, he staunchly defended his position on the war, decried a Republican Party that he said has lost its way and punctuated question-and-answer sessions with his particular brand of humor" (read the full article here).

FYI: I watched this appearance on C-SPAN, and the Senator was everything Balz asserts. He was honest, funny, self-deprecating and appealing. All of these traits are signature McCain. When he is on his game, he is very becoming. McCain is still the candidate to watch, if things improve in Iraq.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The Washington Post sees it like this:

"Senate Republicans for a second time blocked a symbolic attempt by Democrats to reject President Bush's troop increase yesterday, but GOP defections were higher than before, suggesting Republican cracks as the Iraq war dominates Congress's agenda" (read the full story here).

FYI: The Republican defectors:

John Warner (Va.)
Chuck Hagel (Neb.)
Gordon Smith (Ore.)
Norm Coleman (Minn.)
Arlen Specter (Pa.)
Olympia J. Snowe (Maine)
and Susan M. Collins (Maine).

Here are a few things that the Post and much of the mainstream media missed:

1. Most news agencies erroneously reported Democratic unanimity--but Joe Lieberman voted against the Resolution.

2. The most under-reported story of the week: the real division in Washington is developing among Democrats, and it involves how far Congress should go in undercutting the President's control of this war. A large number of Democrats are looking to defund the mission, or at least apply enough budget pressure on the President and the army to cripple our capacity to continue. The so-called Murtha Plan envisions a "slow bleed" strategy to end our military operation in Iraq. But not all Democrats are ready to go that far.

» Read More

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
3:22 PM

The House approved a resolution "disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq" by a vote of 246 to 182.

Here is the roll call break down from the Clerk of the House.

Here is an interesting cross section from the Washington Post.

Notes of interest:

1. Texas 17 representative, Chet Edwards (D), voted in favor of the resolution to disapprove the President (see his statement here ).

An aside: the above is a bit of a shock to me. My guess is that this may make Texas 17 a bit more competitive next time around. It all depends on what happens in the next eighteen months--but this may give the next Republican candidate something to hang his (or her) hat on. Previously, Congressman Edwards has been nearly 100 percent supportive of the President on these types of questions.

2. Only two Democrats broke ranks: Gene Taylor, MS (whom I have written about previously here) and Jim Marshall, GA (see his statement on his website here). The two defecting Democrats, not surprisingly, were Southerners. The breakdown by region shows that the South was the only section of the country to vote with the President. Where I come from...

3. Seventeen Republicans defected. The Washington Post had been predicting 30 to 50 all week. Seventeen represents less than 10 percent of the Republican delegation. The "less than expected" number is a moral victory for the President and probably improves his position in the impending showdown over funding.

Now what?

16/02: Bush is Back?

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Today from David Broder in the Washington Post: "Bush Regains His Footing"

Broder does a fine job articulating some things I saw in the President's press conference Wednesday:

Broder: It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case.

I was struck by this yesterday, and Broder notes today the President's use of the Patraeus confirmation, the conciliatory tone toward his opponents in Congress:

And third, by contrasting today's vote on a nonbinding resolution with the pending vote on funding the war in Iraq, he shifted the battleground to a fight he is likely to win -- and put the Democrats on the defensive. Much of their own core constituency wants them to go beyond nonbinding resolutions and use the power of the purse to force Bush to reduce the American commitment in Iraq.

But congressional Democrats are leery of seeming to withhold resources from the 150,000 troops who will be fighting in that country once the surge is complete; that is why they blocked Republicans from offering resolutions of their own in the House or Senate pledging to keep financing the war. Democrats did not want an up-or-down vote on that question, but Bush has placed it squarely before them.

Read all of Broder here.

My review of the press conference here.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Much is being made of the diversity of the leading Democrat presidential candidates: a white man, a white woman, and a black man. Agreed, there is some diversity there. But, overlooked in the media is the diversity among Republican presidential candidates. Henry Payne at NRO makes the case :

'08 race for president a winner on diversity," declared the lead A1 headline in a Jan. 21 Detroit Free Press story about the Democratic field. Let's review the top three candidates:
* a lawyer now serving in the Senate;
* a lawyer now serving in the Senate;
* a lawyer who served in the Senate.

Now for the three Republican frontrunners:

* a naval officer, Vietnam veteran, and POW now serving in the Senate;
* a businessman who founded Bain Capital, one of the country's most successful investment firms; president of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City; governor of Massachusetts, 2002-2006;
* a lawyer who served as associate attorney general, 1981-1983; U.S. attorney for New York South District, 1983-1989, prosecuted major organized crime and Wall Street insider trading; served as New York City mayor, 1994-2001; named Time's Man of the Year, 2001 for his leadership in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York City; founded an investment and consulting firm, 2004.

In addition, as Payne points out, the Republican big three vary from the Republican platform far more than the Democrat big three vary from their party's. Article here.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Jay Tea from Wizbang on the unserious Democrat posturing in a dangerous world. What he said.

I fear we are falling under the long shadow of short politicians.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
On Style:

The President was confident, funny and in command of his facts. In terms of tone, he was also conciliatory and gracious toward the opposition party. He was, in fact, articulate in his explanation of the common ground shared by American public servants of all stripes.

The quote: "we [are people] willing to put our families through the grind of politics [because] we wanted to serve our country, [and] we care deeply about what takes place in Washington, America and the world."

On Iraq:

More of the same: he did not call Iraq the "central front" on terror, but he made it clear that the fight against terrorism hinged on the fight for Baghdad: "if we fail there, the enemy will follow us here."

He described a violent enemy who will stop at nothing to win: "these are people that will kill innocent men, women and children to achieve their objective...."

The President reaffirmed his dissatisfaction with the status quo, but he reaffirmed the strategy of "clear, hold and build." He attempted to embrace the Baker-Hamilton, Iraq Study Group findings. Embracing the argument that his "new way forward" is the necessary precursor (creating "political breathing space") for the new direction recommended in the Study.

On Iran:

He held his own. We'll see what happens.

On Politics:

The President was careful to call his opponents patriotic and well meaning. But he hammered at the paradox of a unanimously confirmed commander on the ground in Iraq, David Petraeus, and a Congress working to disavow the general's strategy: "Later this week the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution that opposes our new plan in Iraq -- before it has a chance to work."

The President conceded that the non-binding resolution of disapproval would pass the House--but he laid the groundwork for his case against any substantive legislative action to limit funds on the plan he is carrying out.

Bush: "Our troops are counting on their elected leaders in Washington, D.C. to provide them with the support they need to do their mission."

He is setting the stage for the coming debate over funding, which is the real showdown. And, for a president with an approval rating in the mid-30s, presiding over a four-year military debacle, he is actually in a fairly good position to win the next round in the now-ongoing battle with the opposition-controlled Congress.

The press conference in full here.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer

Disapproving of the decision of the President announced
on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional
United States combat troops to Iraq.

Resolved by the House of Representatives:

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

The first day of the proposed three-day debate in the House of Representatives over the above resolution proved that there really was no need for debate.

We certainly need more oversight; we need better leadership. We are in desperate need of hard-headed, rock-ribbed and bipartisan realism. We would all be served well by a rhetorical ceasefire. But clearly thirty-six hours of speeches from the well of the House restating four years of hackneyed and partisan talking points will not prove helpful.

One thing is certain: not one person in Congress will change their mind as a result of this debate.

The Democrats:

False and misleading...failed administration...civil war...we support our troops...George Bush is the only person in America who thinks this plan can succeed...this is a first step to defunding this awful war...this is not a first step to defunding this awful war...our troops are heroic and we support them...wrong war, wrong time, wrong place...sectarian violence...end of the line for a tragically flawed policy...I knew all along this was a bad idea.

The Republicans:

See anyone of my myriad schizophrenic posts on the subject (some options here and here).

In a C-SPAN interview from Sunday, President bushed defined "noise" as Washington chatter. "Everybody in Washington likes to talk," he said. Amen.

But the Democrats have a couple of things right: 1) the war is a mess and 2) the buck stops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Having said that, now what?

One other note: the news coverage seemed ho-hum. The debate did not seem to be the lead anywhere. Most people still seem more concerned with Anna Nicole Smith.

One last note: C-SPAN has an excellent resource for listening to individual speeches here.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
It is not just conservative, Republican-leaning religious folk who are upset with John Edwards for keeping two hateful bloggers on his campaign. Democrat-supporting Roman Catholics also are upset and vocal. LGF has the story.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In case you missed it, the biggest story in Washington this week was the advent of a powerhouse player in the United States Senate.

Why were Harry Reid and his Sancho Panza so angry, to the point of throwing adult-sized temper tantrums?

They had been had. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell quietly outflanked the Majority Leader and his minion with a maneuver of sublime adroitness. As the world anticipated the advertised spectacle of George Bush receiving his comeuppance at the hands of the newly crowned emperors of the world's greatest deliberative body, something funny happened on the way to the forum.

The Plan.

The Democratic-controlled Senate, with the help of several celebrated Republican defectors, contrived to move a non-binding resolution chastising the President for his general ineptitude and, specifically, castigating the troop surge he and his generals are implementing.

What Really Happened?

McConnell insisted that a statement of this magnitude would require a 60-vote threshold (fairly commonplace in the modern Senate). He also insisted that the Upper Chamber consider a minority-backed non-binding resolution affirming the Senate's intention to fund the war regardless of the non-binding resolution disavowing the troop increase.

The problem for Harry Reid?

The non-binding resolution attacking the President likely did not have sixty votes. The non-binding resolution affirming funding likely had a comfortable excess of sixty votes. So, instead of a public spanking of the President, Leader Reid was likely to preside over a public endorsement and major victory for the President. Reid was forced to pull the plug on the debate.

No wonder Reid and Dick Durbin were so red in the face. Even if you did not read this story in the mainstream media, make no mistake, McConnell made his bones this week, even while maintaining his signature gracious smile and temperate tone. He may not be Everett Dirksen (or he may be), but he is head-and-shoulders above our recent congressional leadership. He will be fun to watch in the years to come.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
What he said. Here. Link from the Rott.

God bless you Joseph Lieberman.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Newsweek has this article on Hillary's Christian faith. I have no comments for now, but do note the friendly tone taken by the writer.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution clearly provides that "the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States." Article I, Section 8 of said document clearly provides that "the Congress shall have declare raise and support Armies" and control the "appropriation of money" to support the troops in the field (my emphasis).

Generally, we think of the executive and legislative war powers as complementary. But what happens when the two branches are no longer in accord. To what extent can one branch (Congress) employ its authority to withdraw the nation from war?

Walter Dellinger, current Duke University Law School professor and former solicitor general in the Clinton White House, and David Rivkin, a former Justice Department official in the Reagan Administration and consistently articulate defender of current war-on-terror policies, discussed that dilemma this morning on C-SPAN's Washington Journal (view entire program here).

For background:

You may read Dellinger's opening statement to the Senate Judiciary (here), which he revealingly titled: "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War."

You may read Rivkin's equally revealingly "Constitutional Warp" (here) online at the Wall Street Journal, if you are a subscriber.

A brief excerpt of Rivkin for flavor:

"Congressional efforts to limit the exercise of these powers [commander-in-chief] in Iraq by, for example, purporting to limit the number of American troops there...would be unconstitutional, even if linked to an exercise of Congress's own appropriations power."

Rivkin and Dellinger agree that Congress has the Constitutional authority to end the war by defunding it. But they disagree as to whether Congress can lawfully designate money for approved actions only and/or "cap" the number of troops deployed in the theater.

It is an interesting argument.

However, in a much more practical sense, Congress as a whole is currently displaying the folly of delegating the conduct of the war to the legislative branch. For disparate reasons, which include studied logic, political calculation and "gut" feelings, a vast majority of Congressman are convinced that Iraq is a failed policy, which must be curtailed sooner or later, and sooner is better.

Notwithstanding, the House of Representatives is in a holding pattern, waiting for the Senate to come to agreement on a non-binding resolution expressing displeasure with the war and the President's proposed troop "surge." House Leadership is hoping that Republican defectors in the Senate will pave the way for Republican dissenters in the lower chamber.

But the power struggle in the Senate between presidential hopefuls jockeying to appear the most sagacious and statesmanlike or the most responsive democratic legislator or both has thus far produced a plethora of press conferences, dramatic sound bites and passionate rhetoric but very little of substance. Senators are hoping to come to some sort of consensus by the middle of the month. At that point, the House can begin their procedures. Notwithstanding, the Senate did take a break from posturing and "bloviating" to approve unanimously a new commanding general to implement the President's proposed action, which they plan to collectively disown at their earliest convenience.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, the President is going forward on his plan announced last month with all deliberate speed. By the time Congress has an official opinion, the executive and the armed forces will be deeply committed to the new strategy. In effect, Congress will voice a non-binding expression of their belief that the military operation to which we are already committed will not work.

The bigger point, however, is that the Senate specifically, and the legislative process in general, is designed to go slow. No student of the Constitution or American history would argue otherwise. Can we survive this war or any war in which the day-to-day operations are dependent on the efficiency of the Senate?