Friday, September 29, 2006

Lincoln Chafee: Terrorist Rights Advocate of the GOP

Lincoln Chafee has jumped with both feet into the Terrorist Rights Movement. Not only was he one of four GOP Senators to vote in favor of the Specter-Leahy amendment (which would endow terrorist and military detainees with unprecedented habeas corpus rights), but he was the only Republican to vote against the final bill. This places him fully outside the GOP ‘Big Tent’ and squarely in the Leahy-Kennedy-Kerry segment of the political spectrum. It’s especially egregious since this is the most important issue of our time, the General War on Terror.

As for perspective on his re-election, Michael Barone observes that “Sen. Lincoln Chafee won his GOP Senate primary in Rhode Island by a 54-to-46 percent margin over Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey. That's an unimpressive margin for an incumbent senator.” Polls show that Democrat challenger Whitehouse is still edging out Chafee. Any surprise may very well be based on how many disgusted Republicans cross over to vote for Whitehouse.

Read his whole article on Chafee’s race and also discover why the National Republican Senatorial Committee has been raising ire rather than funds from the base.

An excellent observation from Jay Nordlinger

From his Impromptus column:

Donald Rumsfeld received a rare and prized endorsement on Wednesday when Jimmy Carter said, “I think he’s one of the worst secretaries of defense we’ve ever had.” That must be a relief to Rumsfeld. For, as they say, “consider the source.”
That about says it all…

Thursday, September 28, 2006


One of my favorite Bill Cosby bits has always been ‘Tonsils.’ Little Bill was taken to the doctor with a “bad sore throat” and the doctor informed him that he had tonsillitis and they had to go. Bill, of course, whined and complained; the doctors response was perfect…’Look, son, your tonsils sit at the back of your throat with tanks, bazookas, machine guns and hand grenades and attack anything bad that comes into your throat. *Bang! Boom! Blam!* Well in your case, your tonsils have lost the war. In fact they’ve gone so far as to join the other side. And they’re going to kill you if we don’t take ‘em out!’

Not a perfect quote, but close enough.

Well, the Republican party is facing much the same difficulty; we have our own set of tonsils in the form of Lincoln Chafee. In short, it’s time to throw him over. One ‘symptom’ of Chafee-itis is the lack of support that the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC) has had in raising funds from the base. In my own case, all my meager donations that would normally be sent to the NRSC during this election cycle went instead to Chafee’s primary opponent. Instead of money, NRSC chair Libby Dole received a letter saying I’ll do nothing that will contribute to Chafee’s campaign. Other bits and pieces of news I’ve come across have reflected the trend (here, here, and here).

A few questions and objections can be anticipated…

Aren’t you cutting off your nose to spite your face? Not really. The GOP has had a huge majority and done surprisingly little with it. The constant tripping over the likes of Chafee turns what should be expected in legislative results into mush. That’s one big reason why we’re having problems this election in the first place, and why the base isn’t contributing to the NRSC like it has in the past. The GOP base expects results from all the hard work it took to get a 55 seat majority.

But thanks to GOP obstructionists like Chafee, we still have well qualified judges that have been stalled in the nomination process for years, no energy policy that includes retrieval of our own domestic resources, economy-growing tax cuts that STILL have not been made permanent, etc. etc. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, ‘Never have so many accomplished so little for so long.’

Won’t that make it more difficult to keep the Senate this year? Well, yes, it probably will. Like the tonsils above, taking them out does hurt! It’s more difficult to swallow afterwards and you feel more miserable than you did when you were sick. But there are two considerations here; the post-operative pain passes, and you eventually become healthier as a result of going through the discomfort of removing what was REALLY hurting you.

Secondly, other ‘mavericks’ might notice that repeatedly going against the party grain has actual consequences. When push comes to shove on important issues, I’d rather have 53 Senators that can be counted on than 50 Senators plus 5 prima donnas flitting about elsewhere (usually in front of TV cameras and microphones).

But what’s wrong with having a few mavericks around? It’s not so much a matter of ‘being’ as ‘how much.’ The balance between being a maverick and supporting your party is a zero-sum game; if you’re 75% maverick, that leaves you only 25% Republican. At some point the maverick becomes a liability. An arguably good mathematical tipping point would be 50% of the issues that most concern the base.

But isn’t the GOP supposed to be a big tent? We are. And we’ll still be. The misconception here is that Chafee is in the tent.

Let’s remember a few things about the ‘big tent’ theory…it’s nice be ‘diverse’ and all that, but parties are meaningless unless they stand for things and everyone inside the tent needs to be sufficiently supportive of the party’s positions or the tent collapses. “A house divided” and all that.

Why pick on Chafee? There’s been a wonderful debate in the conservative side of the airwaves and blogosphere between Michael Medved (keep Chafee) and Hugh Hewitt/Dean Barnett (dump Chafee, here and here). I won’t rehash their arguments, but Hugh’s are more thorough, forward-looking and convincing. One of his reasons is that eventually, no matter what, the GOP is going to find itself in a much closer Senate chamber. As we’ve seen, when the Senate is 50-50 or 51-49, the GOP’s most left-ward member calls the tune. Based on his voting record (according to American Conservative Union ratings), Chafee is most likely to be the next Jim Jeffords when the opportunity arises. He couldn’t even bring himself to vote for Bush during the last election, ridiculously writing in his father, G. H. W. Bush.

To be sure, the Senate leadership hasn’t helped, here. I doubt that Chafee has been called into a conference with the leadership and said, ‘Look, we need to count on you for a few things here or you can’t count on us when it comes to tight primaries or general elections.’

Chafee won against your candidate in the primary. What are you going to do with your “normal contributions?” I’ll be sending them to his opponent, Sheldon Whitehouse (contribute here). Some will probably go to Joe Lieberman as well.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Holes in the Hatch

By the way, I notice that gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch has an ad out as well, complaining about a 50% increase in tuition over the past four years (I'd like to see the paperwork on that...). He wants to close a $300 million ‘tax loophole’ that allows companies to avoid paying taxes on overseas operations, dedicating the 'resulting income' to higher education.

My first reaction is “Gee. I don’t see him complaining about the GREATER than 50% increase in my property taxes over that same period!” And I can't even apply for a taxpayer-funded grant to pay for it. No offsetting reduction in my state income tax liability, either…

But one also can’t avoid the fact that such a proposal will make Minnesota a less desirable place for businesses to settle or expand and hire all those college graduates he wants to educate.

Get Me Re-Write!!

In a continuation of being his own worst enemy, Mark Kennedy is televising a new ad called ‘Done.’ For the first time he’s trying to draw attention to the rising crime rate under Amy Klobuchar’s sorry tenure as Hennepin county attorney. The backdrop for the ad is her own words saying that “The best way to look at someone to see if they’re going to do good work for you is to see what they’ve done in the past.”

But the ad is terrible! There’s no voice-over, just text in a bad, blotchy font flashing over the screen with background sound akin to fingernails on a chalkboard; three big no-nos all wrapped in one package. It doesn’t make you so much upset with Klobuchar’s bad record as it does with the persons who made and approved the ad.

On the basis of Klobuchar’s advice, the producer should be fired!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mark Kennedy: Adrift and Sinking

An interesting post today on the blog site Kennedy vs. The Machine where some interesting stats and facts are pointed out:

- Among sitting Senators, Dayton is the 5th most disapproved of by his constituants.
- Klobuchar hasn’t said how she’d differ from Dayton’s voting record.
- Coleman has an approval rating of 51%.
- Coleman is identified with Bush policies 98% of the time.
KvM correctly points out this should spell trouble for Klobuchar. But it’s Kennedy who’s in trouble, his fortunes getting worse over time. KvM avoids saying why; they’re better at exposing flaws in the opposition than in their own candidate’s campaign.

A U of M poll shows that Minnesota voters are thinking most about education (23%) and health care (23%), two issues that Kennedy doesn’t seem to be addressing. Terrorism is down at 5%. Given that these numbers are in such stark contrast to national trends, and that the poll’s internals are not available lead me to be skeptical about the poll itself.

Kennedy’s positioning doesn’t seem to be helping, and his ads may hold a key to the problem. One ad boasts about his opposition to Bush proposals and how half the house Democrats supported one of his legislative efforts. Even worse, he makes it sound like Republicans are for draining and filling wetlands and against pension reform. His opposition to ANWR fuel recovery, bashing of oil company profits and alternative fuel promotion doesn’t seem to be helping him any.

One possibility stands out; it would appear that Kennedy has misjudged the necessity of ‘running away from Bush.’ The more he has run away this year, the lower his poll numbers go. Or perhaps he’s not addressing the issues correctly, or his approach is just coming off as phony and opportunistic. But my guess, after viewing his ads, is that he’s trying to sound more like a Democrat while dissing Republicans. If you reliably vote Republican, that's not going to warm you to the candidate. And if you’re going to vote for a Democrat, why not vote for the real thing?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fliers from the Fair

When I was at the State Fair I did a bit of flyer collection…or what one friend of mine calls “information." Most of it was political this year, and I was perusing the handouts regarding the highway transportation question that would amend the state constitution. Two handouts were generally prevalent, a card (about 2 inches by 4 inches) and a larger flier, about three times the size of a standard postcard.

What both these sources fail to mention is that the amendment would force the state to spend no less than 40% of such revenues on public transit and not more than 60% on roads. I don’t think the oversight is accidental; voters might have reason to shy away from constitutionally mandated budget formulas such as this.

The larger flier is even more misleading when it states that “the amendment will provide balanced investments in rural and metro communities.” The amendment codifies no such thing, just as it doesn't codify any money being spent on roads or in outstate Minnesota.

I’m STILL voting no . . .

The Envelope Please...

Perspective of the week – The oft-echoed criticisms and blasts of Bush for not yet having gotten Bin Laden in the mountains of Pakistan are laughable, when you consider that Clinton and his administration looked for 4 long years for Eric Rudolph, an American, in the mountains of ..... North Carolina!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Bad Week for the Democrats . . . Again.

The belief that the Democrats now have an easy shot at taking over one, and maybe both houses of Congress have faded to such an extent that it’s becoming apparent in overseas newspapers (it might a bit longer for the current evidence to sink into DNC bastions like The Star-Tribune).

Let’s start with the two speeches at the U.N. by Ahmadinejad (Iran) and Chavez (Venezuela). They both have been spending the week bashing Bush in the same way Democrats have, even using the same words. This is a problem; when dictators and nuts from abroad tour your home turf sound exactly like your political party, people will notice! Congressman Charlie Rangle was the first to recognize the problem and step to the nearest microphone saying ‘Don’t bash my President while you’re in town.’ Not with his usual fire and passion, but it was there. Nancy Pelosi was next on the damage control bandwagon, distancing herself from Ahmadinejad and Chavez, as did Chuck Schumer.

I’d love to see some enterprising Republican organization produce an ad that alternates Ahmadinejad’s and Chavez’s comments with those of Democrats like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, etc. It would be quite instructive.

Problem two: Bush has made a deal with McCain and Company on the terrorist detainee bill (see the post of 9/18, ‘Going out of our Way…’). As a result, the focus will now shift from a GOP harassed by factional obstinacy to a terrorist detainee bill that the Democrats will have to take a stand on, but don’t really want to.

Friday, September 22, 2006

About to be Taken For a Ride

There’s a Constitutional amendment on the ballot in Minnesota this year that will force all taxes received from the sale of vehicles and fuels to transportation spending. Right now, only 53% of such tax revenue goes towards transportation. It has wide support, based on the very real perception that the roads need a lot of work.

But there are always devils in the details. The amendment would force the state to spend no less than 40% of such revenues on “transit” and not more than 60% on roads.

This verbiage presents a problem. Theoretically, all the money could be budgeted for light rail and none for roads. Also, the amendment assumes that 40% of those funds can, at all times, be spent more wisely on mass transit than on roads. This, of course, is preposterous. Mass transit has a way of being a money pit. Rare is the system that meets ridership expectations while staying within projected costs. But under this amendment, that 40% of cash just might HAVE to be spent on a possible boondoggle rather than repair or build a needed road. A Constitution shouldn't require bad spending.

Not to mention there could be a ‘balance’ problem of spending in the metro area vs. ‘outstate’ Minnesota. Where else are you going to spend mass transit dollars besides in and around the Twin Cities?

We also can’t forget about the 47% of affected funds that will no longer go into the general fund. There are sound arguments to be made for dedicating vehicle and fuel taxes to transportation. I tend to favor that myself. But if that money will no longer go to the general fund it will have to come from somewhere. Will my gas tax be lowered while income tax is raised by an equivalent amount? Quite frankly, I smell an excuse for raising taxes further on down the road (no pun intended) with no offset elsewhere.

The proposed amendment is a good idea in a bad and near permanent package.

I’m voting ‘No.’

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kennedy's Problems

Yesterday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published results from a recent North Star Poll showing Republican Senate candidate Mark Kennedy losing to Democrat Amy Klobuchar by 56 to 32.

Now this particular polling outfit has a history of wrong calls. Some national commentators have referred to it as the leading example of a ‘broken’ poll. On one three-way Governors race they not only called the wrong winner but blew the second and third place result as well!

A recent Gallup poll mentioned in the article shows a 10-point lead for Klobuchar. Probably a lot more accurate, but still a big problem 50 days out from the election.

So why is Kennedy having such a hard time? It’s not like he’s readily identified with Bush, bucking the White House on ANWR energy recovery, for one. In fact, to my mind, he’s not really identifiable for any one issue or series of stands. As a result, he hasn’t energized the Minnesota GOP base. The few TV spots that I’ve seen so far have been of the ‘nice guy’ touchy-feely kind of thing.

If Kennedy wants to get things going, he’s going to have to start carving out an identifiable right-leaning niche for himself. One good place to start would be support of the NSA surveillance bill that’s currently making its way through the Senate committee works right now; it would codify historically accepted (and court tested) warrentless telephone surveillance. Klobuchar wants a ‘warrant only’ policy when it comes to eavesdropping on terrorists. But the public generally supports warrentless wiretaps from Al Qeada sources into the U.S.

Terrorism is back at the top of the list of voter concerns. Kennedy can and should use that to his advantage.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Going out of our way to Defeat Ourselves

I read a very good article a couple months ago about how we not only have to watch for the enemy without during war time, but also the enemy within. In this case, ‘the enemy within’ referred to those who espouse actions clothed in righteousness, but assuring defeat. This comes mostly due to speaking from a political position (if I can find the link again I’ll post it).

While it might require expanding the definition of that article, I’d like to include under the umbrella of this ‘enemy within’ four people I would not heretofore have guessed fit the description: Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, John Warner, and General Colin Powell. All four have staked out public positions that will unquestioningly weaken our ability to counter the terrorist threat, thus weaken our resolve to fight it until we reawaken to an incident that will make 9/11 look like a dress rehearsal.

The major points from the ‘Fatuous Four’ are these: we have to abide by our treaty obligation under the Geneva Convention when dealing with terrorist detainees because

1) We’re signatories to the agreement, so are bound by its principles
2) The world will think less of us if we don’t, and
3) Our solders will be treated badly if we don’t treat Al Qaeda prisoners well.

Let’s briefly deal with these in turn.

First, the Geneva Convention covers prisoners of war who meet very specific criteria. Among other things, the solders in question must have identifiable rank as part of a hierarchical command structure, be uniformed, and bear their weapons openly. Terrorists are not covered by the Convention by definition; they do none these things. In short, the U.S. is not a signatory to any agreement requiring specific treatment of terrorists like Al Qaeda.

Second, I have to wonder who in the world Colin Powell is worried about when being concerned about how we are viewed by other countries. I suspect Europe in general and Germany and France in particular would rank high on his list. He seems to spend a lot of time there these days and may have caught the ‘EU world view disease.’ At any rate, I’m not too concerned about how many of the above mentioned nations view us. Not only do they seem reluctant to defend their own cultures (witness the Islamic riots in France’s last year), but said countries also celebrate dictators (i.e., Fidel Castro) who practice methods far more questionable on mere dissidents than we imagine using on terrorists. And let’s not forget that many in some of Western Europe’s most outspoken ‘angels’ had lucrative financial dealings with Saddam Hussein before his fall from power. To paraphrase columnist Mark Steyn, you don’t conduct a war to the applause of the gallery.

Third, do we really expect that Al Qaeda to treat our soldiers well, even if we house detainees in the nearest Hilton and only use interrogation techniques that extend to “Pretty please with sugar on top?” No, they will torture and/or lop off the heads of any soldier they capture; that is what their philosophy teaches them to do.

A last thought; our brave men and women in uniform know what they face if captured. The least we can do as a nation is resort to every means short of REAL torture (defined as the infliction deformity or excruciating pain) to get information that will prevent such capture or loss of life, both military and civilian.

The ‘Fatuous Four’ want to criminalize the act of placing panties on the head of a murderer in order to glean life-saving information (It’s “degrading”). Such a warped view is proof that they have lost sight of the real world.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Envelope, Please...

Useful Idiots of the Week - The Presbyterian Church and Harvard, for inviting former Iranian President and terrorist promoter Khatami to speak at their institutions for the sake of "dialogue." Never mind that, given his history, Khatami would rather throw his hosts into jail (if not put them to the sword), eschewing any pretense of 'reaching out for understanding.'

Flip-Flop of the Week - Connecticut Democratic Senatorial candidate Ned Lamont, for supporting incumbent Senator Joe Leiberman's rebuke of Clinton's behavior in the Lewinski scandal while it was occurring, but who now finds the rebuke a wrong-headed "media spectacle." (h.t. Power Line)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

To Understand a Madman

I was logging on to the internet and noticed the following news headline from my ISP…”Saddam saw Al-Queda as a threat.”

After searching my memory banks overnight I woke up realizing ‘Well, yeah!’ I mean so did lots of Arab countries. That’s why the Saudis bribed Bin Laden to leave the country, and why the Sudan offered him to Clinton (who turned them down).

Aside from questioning the accuracy of the article, working with Al-Queda while viewing them as a threat is a very Sun-Tzu thing to do (“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”). It also fits with the old Arab proverb “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Both had/have a much more intense interest in wiping Israel off the map (to name one) than any disagreement they might have with each other.

But Saddam was far too upstanding a guy to stoop to such subterfuge, right?


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Independent Non-Thinking.

Today saw the first debate between Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates; Pawlenty (R), Hatch (D) and Hutchinson (I). Coverage on the local news provided what was probably the non sequitur of the event. Hutchinson criticized Pawlenty of ‘creative accounting’ saying if the Sarbanes-Oxley law applied to the States, Pawlenty would be under indictment.

So…this is apparently what passes for ‘non-partisan intellect’ – Pawlenty is guilty of malfeasance because he violated a law that is NOT applicable.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rethinking the Klobuchar Question

After some consideration, I changed my mind slightly on the question that Democratic Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar (and all democrats running for U.S. Senate) should be asked regarding the letter that their presumptive leadership sent ABC last week. The question should be as follows: "Given the content of this letter, will you support the re-election of this leadership should you win your race for Senate?"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Yesterday and Today

Like many, I was listening to a few 9/11 retrospectives yesterday. One commentator, recalling his reaction on that day reiterated his belief that “The United States will never be the same.” I’m not so sure. Prior to 9/11/01 we were a people inwardly focused, with a large segment of the population (or one might simply say ‘leadership’) not willing to recognize that there is ‘evil’ in the world, even when it directly confronts us.

On 9/12/01 there were many who all of a sudden seemed to wake up and realize that, yes, evil did exist. Some were still in denial, calling it ‘senseless' and a 'tragedy’ (9/11 was neither of those things). But it seems that this was newfound recognition of ‘evil’ was merely stated, not actually believed as part their world view. Now, many of these folks, and too much of the nation, appear to have returned to a 9/10/01 mentality. We are too much the same today as before the twin towers fell. George Bush is denounced by some with greater frequency and conviction than the terrorists.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Thanks again to friends on 9/11

On a day when America pauses to reflect on the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, it is also useful to remember and thank those who assisted our citizens as well, such as individuals in Canada, England, Germany, etc. whose hospitality assisted stranded American travelers.

And let us also not forget those who joyously celebrated; the ‘Arab streets’ that we’re told (from time to time) must be ‘understood’ and ‘reached out to.’

Sunday, September 10, 2006

This Week's Winner...

I have no idea if this “…of the week” award will actually succeed in being a weekly thing, but it struck me as a fun thing to do, so here goes the (I think) first installment:

Line of the Week – "Ah, if only the Democrats were as focused attacking the terrorists as they now are attacking ABC." – Anonymous (found here)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A bad week for the Democrats

I heard a number of times through the summer that Congressional Republicans will be in deep trouble come election time this year. Around Labor Day it seemed that the talking point for the Democrats was that there would be a "tidal wave" sweeping Democrats in and Republicans out of Congress (or so sayeth the DNC Chairman, Howard Dean on MSNBC).

My gut reaction is that when such sweeping statements are made so far in advance of an election, they’re not likely to come true. As if on cue, three self-inflicted wounds by the Democrats may very well make things a tad easier for Republicans:

- The Senate Democrat leadership sent a censorship letter to ABC over the upcoming ‘9/11’ miniseries (see previous post)
- The Democrat incumbent in New Jersey is having growing legal troubles, putting the Republican challenger into the lead (read the story here, analysis here)
- Clair McCaskill, the Democrat trying to unseat Missouri’s Senator Jim Talent, went ‘nutters’ this week saying "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black" (story here).

Not good things to happen the first week that people REALLY start paying attention to the political landscape. This is not to say that the election is becoming a cake walk for the GOP, but (to turn the old phrase) with opponents who act like this, who needs supporters?

Go here for a Democrat view questioning the tidal wave theory.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Democrats vs. The 1st Amendment

Given that Minnesota has a Senate race this year, this is quite interesting and the Democratic candidate, Amy Klobuchar, should be asked about it.

The upcoming ABC show 'The Path to 9/11' has the Senate Democrats in a tizzy. So much so that they've sent a letter, signed by each of the leadership, to ABC. The most interesting part is as follows:
"Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program."
You can read the full letter (and another analysis here). I particularly love the part about "countless schoolchildren" being "deeply damaged."

This is a thinly veiled threat to take legislative action, perhaps up to and including license-pulling, if ABC doesn't tell the 9/11 story the Democrats way. Should ABC be scared? I don't think so. Even if Democrats take over Congress this year will they actually pull ABCs broadcast licence? Hugh Hewett's take on this strikes me as the 'Occam's Razor' comment of the day:
"I suspect the extreme reaction of the Senate Democrats is based on the sudden recognition that the fall campaign will be waged on the single issue of which party is serious about national security."
Read his full post here.

Ms. Klobuchar needs to be asked "Would you have signed this letter?"

This says a great deal about the Democrats. ABCs response will say even more about the network.

Other links about this story can be found here, here, and here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"...and they're off!"

There just aren't enough Minnesota Republican blogs, are there. Are there? Well, let's see if we can make this thing work...

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