Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't Fall For It

While President Bush and Senator McCain change their tune on domestic drilling, conspicuously during an election year, I am recalling what will be considered the "conservative case" for a McCain presidency.

Ever since the Christian voting bloc became synonymous with the Republican Party, the GOP has used the issue of judges to keep them with the party. This is due, of course, to the righteous anger over the legalized killing of the unborn since 1973. The rationale goes something like this: We need to support pro-life presidential candidates because then they can nominate strict-constructionist judges who believe life begins at birth and with a fifth justice the Roe v. Wade atrocity will be confined to the dustbin of history. But this is the old carrot-and-stick approach to keep "values voters" with the Republican Party, many of whom might not otherwise vote Republican.

Expect this trend to continue this election year as the conservative coalition is more fractured than it was four or even eight years ago. When President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, a woman with precarious abortion views, the values voters were pounding at the White House doors with torches and pitchforks. The president, realizing that his most indispensable constituency was in revolt, withdrew the nomination and social conservatives got the far more acceptable Sam Alito.

Senator McCain's abortion views themselves are quite murky. The man voted in 1993 to confirm the ACLU-minded Ruth Bader Ginsburg and has since said that he is in no rush to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Some say that since he became the presumptive nominee, Senator McCain has hardened his pro-life position to get the religious vote. That may very well be true and it may very well get Mr. McCain elected. But mark my words: Once he gets in there, President McCain will not lift a finger to halt the slaughter of innocents. First and foremost is the Democratic legislature he will face as president. Democrat majorities will increase this year, the only question is by how much. True, there is an increasing number of pro-life Democrats in Congress, but it is nowhere near enough to off-set the Pelosi wing of the party, essentially making Senator McCain's views on abortion irrelevant. Second, John McCain is beholden to the liberal media and can be guaranteed to buckle when he gets asked tough questions about his Supreme Court nominees. And if they grill him, expect President McCain to then nominate someone more appealing to his cronies in the media. Third, it was not very long ago (1999-2000) that John McCain referred to those Religious Right leaders not as people whose hearts are in the place yet confuse the City of God with the City of Man, but as "agents of intolerance." And just what is the biggest issue for these Religious Right agents of intolerance?

So, Mr. McCain might be making pitches to pro-life voters this year, but it will come to nothing. Even if he (or any devoted pro-life president) nominated a judge dedicated to the sanctity of human life, it will not get anywhere until after Republicans recover from the Bush years and begin to gain majorities in Congress again.

If you plan to vote for Senator John McCain because he might be the one to overturn abortion, consider that a wasted vote.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Timothy J. Russert, Jr. (1950 - 2008), R.I.P.

When one reflects on the liberal media establishment and its bias, the late Tim Russert was one who could be skipped over in the laundry list of liberals and elitists.

A devout Roman Catholic and honest newsman from Buffalo, New York, Mr. Russert was a loyal, but fair liberal. When the knock-offs in both the network media and cable news channels brow-beat candidates or surrogates of one party, they tend to lob softballs to the other. This was a practice lost on Tim Russert. My 2008 candidate of choice, Dr. Ron Paul, faced tough questions on "Meet the Press" when old quotations of his were dug up. The treatment was the same for Vice President Cheney, Senator Kerry, and Senator Clinton. He was a rare Mainstream Media man who could turn off his partisan switch in exchange for an honest and probing interview.

Known for his famous white dry-erase board on election nights, Mr. Russert also began writing on topics that excluded his journalistic endeavours. In 2004 he came out with a splendid autobiography, "Big Russ and Me," a tribute to his still-living father and the environment in which the younger Russert grew up. He was reared with a knowledge of God and the importance of the family, a value instilled in him from Big Russ and one that he passed down himself. Far from the image of a standard liberal, Tim Russert had great reverence for the importance and cohesion of the family.

The lighter side of Tim Russert appeared before the Buffalo Bills played in the fourth and final of their consecutive Super Bowl appearances in January 1994 against the Dallas Cowboys. Before the game, he made a plea (or perhaps a prayer!) on television to God for the Bills to be delivered at least one Super Bowl victory after enduring heartbreak for three straight years. When the Cowboys prevailed over Mr. Russert's hometown team, it was reported that Tom Brokaw approached him and said, "Sorry, God must be a Southern Baptist."

Mr. Russert leaves his wife Maureen and son Luke. Prayers are extended to his family for strength and perseverance in this difficult time. In the words of Thomas Jefferson when he was nominated to replace Benjamin Franklin as American minister to France, "I cannot replace Mr. Franklin. I can only succeed him." Likewise, no one can simply replace Tim Russert, a man of great eloquence and good humor.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Barack Obama and Free Speech

Are candidates' wives off-limits in a political campaign? Well, it depends. Candidates' wives (or husbands, as the case may be) are usually respected so long as they stay in the background, support their spouse, and don't rock the boat. Here, Jackie Kennedy serves as a good model. This typically applies to candidates' children as well.

But what if a spouse starts to sound off on controversial topics and tries to dabble in political musings? It's one thing to stand by the man no matter what but it's something entirely different when the spouse questions the integrity and character of the nation itself.

The blog is of course talking about Mrs. Michelle Obama, who earlier this year announced that she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. Keep in mind that this also means Mrs. Obama was not proud of her country until she had a great chance to become First Lady. Let us also not forget that she admonished America because her husband could get shot at the gas station just because of the color of his skin. Never mind that the same is also true for white men, Hispanics, Asians, and anyone else of a discernable nationality, but that is for another time.

Now that Republicans are taking aim at Mrs. Obama, which Mr. Obama has not taken lightly by even issuing a threat: "But I do want to say this to the GOP. If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful. . . ."

Viciously attacking a candidate's wife is ungentlemanly, to say the least. But a candidate's wife is also a part of the candidate himself. And if that spouse says something harsh, offensive, or controversial, they should be expected to receive criticism and/or questions about it. It's the treatment that Uncouth Ruminations expects of itself. Besides, what about a society where public officials (or their surrogates) can say anything without being subject to any questioning or criticism? The word I believe best describes this is communism.

By no means is this an assault on the First Amendment. Remember, one has the right to say what they want but that does not immunize them from scrutiny. So why are Senator Obama's feathers ruffled over something seemingly so inconsequential? One expects the husband to defend his wife, but Mr. Obama's language sounds threatening and cynics like yours truly could interpret it as the Leftist senator's desire to suppress dissension.

Consider: Barack Obama also infamously stated recently that when he's president people won't be able to drive their SUVs anymore, keep the air conditioner running as much as they'd like, or eat out at fast food places as much as they'd like. Don't take it from me, but I have a difficult time "coming together" with a person who tells me what I can drive and what I can eat.

But Senator Obama's snap over the reaction to his wife's rhetoric is quite revealing. The Candidate of Change appears to have pretty thin skin. That's not a great asset for someone that's supposed to "heal our nation's wounds."

This kind of makes the mind wonder, if the country "changes" under a President Obama, will it be because people will finally decide to stop being selfish and unconditionally love each other? Or will change be imposed on us?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Democrats, the South, and vice presidents

So Jim Webb said something "sympathetic" about the Confederacy. That a descendant of a Confederate officer and a Virginian could dare say anything sympathetic about the Civil War South is not really earth-shattering news. Here's another blockbuster: American blacks admire Martin Luther King, Jr.

What Webb said was that the southern cause was laudable. Re-read that again if you need to. He says it was a laudable cause, not "Slavery was right" or "I want all the southern states to secede again and burn Washington for revenge against Sherman's 'March to the Sea.'" After all, the Confederacy was not just about slavery. Southerns were passionate about what they perceived as an over-reaching and intrusive federal government that they believed was abusing its powers.

But this babbling is not about slavery. Discussion of that abhorrence is for another day. So I ask, why is this issue about the Confederacy such a big deal?

Barack Obama has serious problems in the South, that's why. Well, at least in southern states that don't have a majority of black constituents. The South is important for Obama because Democrats who don't win the South don't win the presidency. When their party lurched to the left and became gun-controlling elitists, they lost the South to the GOP. Democrats are making inroads in the South again, in large part because they are running candidates who are pro-life, protectors of gun rights, and are church-goers. In other words, the Dems swiped the issues that got Republicans elected in the South for the last generation and the old Confederacy is beginning to turn blue again.

So why are both parties dumping on Jim Webb? The Republicans actually have a good reason to be ablaze. When Webb was elected in 2006, it was at the expense of George Allen, another Virginian who said sympathetic things about the Confederacy himself and admitted to having Confederate memorabilia. Hardly grounds for treason but it was enough to sweep out one of the GOP's top political fighters.

As for the Democrats, Webb has credentials that play well in the South. While the senator is pro-choice, he is also a Second Amendment enthusiast and has executive bona fides from his days as Ronald Reagan's Navy Secretary. But the Democrats are also invested in racial politics and political corretness that no one can utter a word about the South or the Confederacy that does not label either its participants or descendants as moral reprobates. No one can honestly believe Jim Webb looks at our nation's (Yes, our nation, because at one point there was slavery in all of the states of the Union) "peculiar institution" with loving and reminiscent affection. The Confederate military was populated by farm kids, the college-educated, Christians, and yes, even some moral reprobates fighting to save the institution of slavery.

But now the Democrats are backing themselves into a corner with their nominee. Jim Webb probably won't be able to be VP because of this "racial baggage" and "Civil Rights quandry" and on top of that, Ohio Democratic governor Ted Strickland said in so many words that he would definitely not accept the VP nomination. And on top of that, Obama's chief in charge of finding that elusive VP, Jim Johnson, resigned under pressure due to some dubious ties to financial corporations, just another in a long line of contacts and friends who show Obama's poor judgment. The closer he gets to the general election, more people who could be his vice president keep falling from the pack for one reason or another.

It's 3am and a phone rings. "Hello? Hillary? I need someone to run as vice president with me."

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Veepstakes

Now that the presidential campaign has officially begun, the obvious question of who our Democratic and Republican nominees will choose as their right-hand man (or woman) will dominate the headlines and pundits.

Today, lets take a look at some of the Obama options. As it seems like Hillary Clinton will finally concede the Democratic race to Obama, the question arises as to whether Barack Obama will select her for VP. The Clintons' and their cohorts will campaign hard for her to get the #2 slot but none of the smart money is on this bet. As we all know from this campaign and earlier ones, the Clintons' are a set. Buy one, get one free. Before the primaries began, there was some (albeit idle) concern about whether Bill Clinton would be essentially a co-president if his wife won. Now if Hillary Clinton ends up as vice-president, so does Bill. After the Cheney years the vice presidency has new powers and Bill, as surrogate vice president, would not hesitate to dip into them. The vice-presidency has virtually no constitutional powers so on paper this really should not be a dilemma. Remember, pseudo-despots like the Clintons' are not governed by paper, they are governed by ego and the lust for power. Circumventing the Constitution was never a major concern for Bill when he was in the Oval Office, so why would it concern him as co-vice-president? So, a President Obama would also have to contend with the power struggle. While he's president, there would be two others who simultaneously thought they were the president. If Obama has any political smarts then he will not name Hillary his VP. Unless he wants to end up in the testicle lockbox.

There are murmurings that our potentially second black president might pick John Edwards, Bill Richardson, former Georgia senator Sam Nunn, Virginia senator Jim Webb, or current Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius. Edwards has that arm-candy VP appeal that worked so well for John Kerry and more importantly he knows how to smile and look good.

Bill Richardson might prove himself worthy having had more federal government experience (Secretary of Energy for 3 years and 14 years in the House) and more executive experience (5 years as New Mexico's governor) than Obama would have after 8 years.

Sam Nunn is a former Georgia senator who was known as a somewhat conservative Demorat. Obama may want to snag this guy because he's also in consideration for McCain, as Jonah Goldberg at National Reivew Online suggested. Picking a southern man would also help Obama paint himself as the uniter so many people are still hypnotized into believing. It's not coincidence that the only two Democratic presidents post-JFK were southern boys. Contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a compromiser and could not be expected to name a Republican for his ticket. In this area, Sam Nunn could be the closest Obama can come.

Or maybe Jim Webb. Webb is a former marine, former Republican with time in the Defense Department and Secretary of the Navy for President Reagan. Webb is from a red state, Virginia, and a gun-owner who can appeal to the Reagan Democrats that McCain desperately needs. And a Republican who can't win Virginia is as good as dead. He is also a fighter, someone who might complement Obama well who all too often has appeared weak.

Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius has appeal, if for no other reason, because she is a woman. But Obama would be smart to pass on her and any other woman this election year in spite of all the charges of sexism that have been issued. He will certainly be pressured to pick a woman because of the sexism charges, especially after liberal icon Geraldine Ferraro was thrown overboard for essentially telling the truth about Obama's most indispensable quality. But, picking a woman could also backfire as a shallow move, unless it's Obama's selection of Hillary Clinton. After all, Hillary was supposed to be the first woman president. If (God forbid) something happened to President Obama, and another woman became the first woman president, expect a full-out revolt from the Clinton wing of the party. The Hillary feminists already feel that Obama stole the nomination from her because people wanted to vote for a black man more than they wanted to vote for a white woman. If another woman sneaks into the presidency before Hillary, cover your head and anything else valuable because there will be a civil war.

So, expect Obama to pick someone older and wiser and who brings little baggage with them. Joe Lieberman would have been a good selection if he wasn't already McCain's BFF. It will likely be someone, like Sam Nunn or Jim Webb, or someone who has been around and has more government experience than Obama, which, of course isn't asking for too much. Nunn or Webb are smart people who would be good choices for Obama. Then again, Obama hasn't shown too much wisdom in picking his friends, why might his VP be any different?

A Day of Remembrance

As another non-monumental (not being a 20th, 40th, or 60th anniversary) D-Day comes and goes, there should be relatively little surprise that the day went generally unnoticed. It dominates the headlines when it's a big year like the 60th anniversary but not the 64th. Maybe next year.

The day does, however, seem a little different this year. With recent books, notably Pat Buchanan's "Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War" and Nicholson Baker's "Human Smoke," there is an air of revisionism regarding the Second World War, America's Holy War. These books have already received a wave of criticism and even hatred for daring to question some of the justifications and actions of the Allied nations during the "Good War." New interpretations of past events are good for history and great for historical discussions. Chewing over a supposedly closed case, World War II, is good for the mind, but more importantly it keeps us from deifying the mortal men who participated in the events.

The D-Day invasion was the most daring amphibious assault in military history. Opening up a second front in the great European war guaranteed the eventual defeat of Hitler. Calais, France was the most narrow point of the English Channel and the obvious place for a landing. Normandy was selected instead, increasing the element of surprise. While not an overwhelming and completely one-sided victory, it was successful enough for the Allies to gain a foothold on Western Europe. 11 months later, Hitler was dead and the war in Europe was over.

I make this appeal on this D-Day anniversary because I fear that many people still confuse criticism of the leaders of nations involved with animosity toward the troops themselves. That millions of young men fought heroically for their respective countries is really beyond dispute. They were millions who demonstrated bravery and courage many of us cannot imagine. And those who honorably served deserve respect everyday, not only on D-Day, Pearl Harbor Day, or Memorial Day.

I write this day because the day itself is far too politicized, even when it is barely recognized.

Elitist liberals from John Kerry to Barack Obama criticize our country's Republican leadership and condescend the troops themselves. Republicans and self-described conservatives insist the leadership is beyond question and that criticism of the administration is tantamount to treason. Meanwhile, both groups don flag lapel pins and "Support the Troops" paraphernalia, which are themselves acts of condescension. Republicans regularly use the troops as a shield against criticism while they fund a war that bankrupts the country. Democrats condescend and disparage the military coming and going. Republicans invoke patriotism against war critics and behave in a way that suggests that enthusiasm for the war in Iraq corresponds with loyalty to the state. Not even all soldiers agree on the war. Some support it and others don't. But all honorable soldiers do the calling of a soldier: their duty.

So, I say that today we should be thankful for the service rendered by our troops, those who have answered the call. But don't politicize it, Left or Right. Deriding the military from the Left is just as disgraceful as the Right when they use the troops as their litmus test for patriotism. D-Day was the beginning of the liberation of Western Europe and a turning point of the bloodiest war in history. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.