Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fred Thompson

There have many inaccurate reports of an official announcement of a Fred Thompson candidacy. In April, Robert Novack speculated that Thompson could announce any day. Then came a report that Thompson would announce on the Fourth of July. Then it was late July, or maybe August. Now the consensus is that Thompson will announce around Labor Day.

Fred Thompson has been criticized by many for his reluctance to firmly step into the presidential race. His slowness has been attacked as evidence of an unwillingness to commit himself to a presidential run. Others present it as evidence that he lazy. It seems that few actually agree with his decision to delay the start of his campaign.

Fred Thompson, however, knows exactly what he is doing. A look at Rasmussen Reports' week by week polls show that Thompson has maximized the momentum for his campaign.

He started his campaign with 14% of the vote, about ten points behind front runner Rudy Giuliani. (It makes one wonder what would have happened if another social conservative candidate, such as Mike Huckabee, had waited to announce instead of jumping straight into the race). Nearly all of his support came from Giuliani voters, which is a bad sign for the Giuliani campaign. He stayed in about ten or fifteen pointed behind Giuliani for about two months, during which time many writers and bloggers frantically urged him to run before his support evaporated. Thompson hinted very strongly about running, and that cut Giuliani's lead to six points. When Thompson officially launched his campaign website, he was propelled to a virtual tie with Giuliani, all without spending a dime. Thompson's campaign has lost little momentum in the ensuing months, and he remains tied with Giuliani, all without spending anything. Early entries tend to wear out their welcomes. Fred Thompson is doing the right thing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Vick

Michael Vick pled guilty recently to several dogfighting related charges. No one can dispute the sheer cruelty of what he did. It takes a special kind of person to be a dogfighting king (and Vick was a major name in the dogfighting world)- the individual must cruel, cold-hearted, and at least a streak of sadism in his make-up. Vick is, quite simply, and cruel man, and deserves a severe punishment.

Some have argued that Vick's skin color have made him a target for the media. There seems to be little evidence for this, and it is a good rule of thumb that if even Al Sharpton doesn't think something is racist, it probably isn't.

But these people miss a larger point; does Vick deserve the anger directed towards him? While I suppose that opinions may differ, I believe that almost anyone would have to agree that dogfighting demonstrates such a lack of moral fiber that repugnance would be the only possible reaction. Michael Vick does not deserve the respect of any decent person.

Michael Vick has hardly been a gentleman for any portion of his career. In 2004, two men were arrested for selling marijuana out of a truck owned by Vick. Later in 2004, two of Vick's friends were seen on a security camera stealing a Rolex from an airline security employee. In March 2005, Sonya Elliot claimed she had contracted genital herpes from Vick (her lawsuit was settled out of court). And then in 2006, Vick gave the finger to some disgruntled fans. So Vick is hardly a class act.

Vick may not a good man, but while Vick deserves some punishment, I believe that the one that will be meted out to him is far too harsh. At this point, Vick will have to spend at least three years out of football. His sentencing is scheduled for December 26, which will keep him from playing during this season. His sentence will probably include at least a year in prison, making his time out of football two years, and the probable one year suspension after that will make three. After three years out of football, will any team want him? Especially when you consider the dark cloud he is leaving under. A three year suspension is simply too harsh.

When you consider the lenient sentences given to other NFL players who have committed far worse crimes than Vick, the excessiveness of his sentence is apparent. Ray Lewis was charged with murder in 2000 with two friends, and plea bargained to a count of obstruction of justice. Although all were acquitted, Atlanta police still believe that Lewis' friends were guilty. Ray Lewis was not suspended.

Neither was Leonard Little, who killed a woman while driving drunk. He had to serve 19 days in jail, and was given an insignificant eight game suspension.

Vick should have the book thrown at him, but it should be remembered that there are NFL players who have done far worse, and gotten a far lighter punishment. This should be taken into account when Vick is punished for his reprehensible crime.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rooting for Hillary

According to this story, many Republicans (including Karl Rove) are rooting for a Hillary Clinton primary victory. They think that she is unelectable becuase of her percieved extreme left-wing views, and high unfavorable rating, which I have said for a while now. The story says:

"Asked if Clinton being the nominee would improve his party’s chances both nationally and in Indiana, Howard County (Ind.) GOP Chair Craig Dunn got excited. “Absolutely, absolutely!” he exclaimed animatedly, grinning widely. “We’ve never elected a president of the United States who started off with 45 percent unfavorable ratings!”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Michelle Obama and the Newark Killings

Many conservatives are saying that Michelle Obama took a shot at Hillary Clinton by saying that: one of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values, is he somebody that respects family, is a good and decent person? So our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House."

Sounds like an implicit criticism of Hillary, huh. In spite of Barack's denial that his wife meant to attack Hillary, the accepted interpretation is that Michelle is going after Hillary, since Barack is afraid to.

The accepted interpretation is wrong, or at least improbable. What Michelle Obama said next is revealing: "So we've adjusted our schedule to make sure that our girls are first, so when he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning. I get the girls ready. I get them off. I go and do trips. I'm home before bedtime." Seen in context, the quote can be read very differently.

The execution style slaying of four Newark college students by an illegal immigrant gang member has caused many to question Newark's "sanctuary city" policy. It is doubtless true that a crackdown on illegals would have prevented these murders, it seems to me that the focus should also be on the fact that the leader of the killers was out on bail for the rape of a five-year-old girl. The amount of bail? A paltry fifteen thousand dollars. The judge who let him out on the streets should be blamed as well as our immigration policy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Look At Media Bias

While most people see the mainstream media as liberal, many progressives see the media as having a conservative bias. Some, such as Michael Moore, point to the media's support of the Iraq War as evidence of their bias, and others argue that the media has failed to take Bush to account for his many alleged crimes. The archvillian for liberals is Fox News, but they believe that the other major TV networks and news outlets have a conservative slant as well.

Conservatives, of course, have long seen the mainstream media as a staunch opponent. They point out that many supposedly impartial hosts have long histories of liberal views (Katie Couric), or have worked in the administrations of Democratic Presidents (George Stephanopoulos). They point to the fact the news anchors seem to treat activists for conservative causes as extremists, while liberal activists are treated with respect.

Balancing these claims, it is interesting to note what each side sees as legitimate examples of bias. If one side pushes forth a collection of weak, unconvincing examples, while the other featured blatant demonstrations of media bias, then it would be safe to say that the one side would have the better case.

Media Matters is the preeminent liberal media watchdog organization. It was founded by David Brock, former self-described "conservative hit man" and liberal convert. (In other words, not Mr. Honest).

The Media Research Center is the top conservative media watchdog. It is run by Brent Bozell, whose father was one of the founders of National Review.

I decided to compare the top three (I would have included more, but it would have made for a very long post) examples of media bias from each of these sites, and see if the allegations of bias from one were markedly stronger than the other. I only included mainstream, allegedly impartial news sources, such as newspapers and TV networks. I didn't include criticisms of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or other ideological media figures.

One of Media Matters' examples of bias was the fact that the AP included the optimistic O'Hanlon/Pollack New York Times op-ed regarding Iraq in a recent piece about the op-ed and its potential impact on the politics of Iraq, but didn't mention the August 19 New York Times op-ed written by seven disaffected U.S. soldiers expressing the belief that the war cannot be won. The AP article was mostly about the O'Hanlon/Pollack op-ed, and the serviceman op-ed was somewhat beside its point.

Its second criticism was of Tucker Carlson for "[wondering] if weighing in on a political question such as this doesn't squander the awesome moral authority that these guys (the soldiers who wrote the aforementioned op-ed piece) already have", without mentioning that the fact that the piece was written in response to the O'Hanlon/Pollack op-ed, which had nothing to do with what Carlson's was trying to say.

Allegation number three was the fact that the Washington Post reporting that the group Freedom's Watch was going on the offensive against Democrats with an ad aimed at Republicans, since it apparently targeted Republicans who sided with the Democrats. Wow, that's some media bias. Is that really the best Media Matters can do?

The Media Research Center criticized CNN's Jack Cafferty for implying that it could only be fear of losing his bid for the Presidency (like he ever had a chance) that is making Chris Dodd express disapproval at a possible Bush impeachment, the New York Times for making allegedly bogus claims about wiretaps, and jumped on Katie Couric for suggesting that it would take higher taxes to fix the America's decaying infrastructure in the wake of the Minnesota bridge collapse. The last is a little weak, but the others are very blatant displays of journalistic bias. Out of Media Matters' top three stories, there was not one that could be called a true example of media bias.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Romney and Abortion

Mitt Romney has come under attack by Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, and others for his deviations from conservative principles. He has been accused of flip-flopping for political reasons, and not being a true conservative. Both of these are quite unfair to Mitt.

Whatever may be said about his motivations for changing his position on abortion and gun rights (Romney did not change on gay marriage), Romney did not flip-flop a la John Kerry. Flip-flopping implies changing your position on a issue constantly, something that Romney has not done. The way his oppenents are applying "flip-flop", any candidate who changes his mind on any position should be considered an indecisive "flip-flopper".

Romney did not flip-flop, but many consider his policy changes to be a little too conviently timed. He suddenly became pro-life in 2004, the year in which he Republicans starting looking to '08- and also the year in which "values voters" were seen as a crucial voting bloc. It must make the most trusting person a bit suspicious when suddenly Romney becomes pro-life.

A look at his record clarifies his position a little. In 2002, he was personally pro-life, but effectivly pro-choice. In 2005, he vetoed an embryonic stem cell research bill and a bill providing emergency contraception to rape victims, both gutsy pro-life moves. However, in 2006 he opposed Roe v. Wade, but said he wouldn't tamper with abortion laws. In the same month, though, he declared he was pro-life. All of his utterences since then have indicated he was pro-life.

It appears that although Romney's abortion comments look a little shaky from the pro-life standpoint, they do seem to hold up. In my opinion, he would help the pro-life cause in America.

Although I realize that I have been writing about Romney a lot lately, I have not suddenly jumped on the Romney bandwagon (nor am I so arrogent to suppose that many people would particulary care or even notice if I did). I am simply trying to defend Romney from what I think is unfair media coverage. Romney is good presidential candidate, and he deserves better than he has gotten from many in media.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mitt and Mormonism

Mitt Romney has complained that his Mormon religion has received far too much attention from the media, with good reason. A Google search shows that the word "mormon" appears in over twenty percent of the web pages featuring his name. Every single article or news story, it seems, refers to his religion prominently. He had a 60 Minutes interview during which Mike Wallace asked him whether he had had sex before marriage. Has any other candidate ever been asked a question like that?

The Reverend Al Sharpton implied that Mitt Romney didn't really believe in God during a debate with Christopher Hitchens (I couldn't decide who I wanted to win that debate). Although Al Sharpton could be called the Teflon Preacher, it is hard to imagine him getting away with such a slur about Rudy Giuliani of Sam Brownback's Catholicism.

The media has focused on every deviation of Mitt Romney's record form the teachings of the Mormon Church. But it ignored the that Rudy Giuliani, who calls himself a Catholic, completely and inexcusably ignores the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion, homosexuality, divorce, and birth control. Rudy Giuliani is a very unfaithful Catholic, but has been criticized for it very rarely. Romney deserves the same treatment.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Barack Obama's Bright Idea

Let it never be said that Barack Obama is antiwar. In a bewildering surprise attack today, he suddenly announced that sending troops into Pakistan to eliminate terrorist targets would be a part of his hypothetical Presidency. "Diplomacy" has been the watchword of Obama's anti-terror proposals up to this point, but it appears that Obama thinks that we ought to attack another country.

Obama has been one of the harshest critics of the Iraq War. His objections to the war are that we unilaterally invaded a country that was no threat to us, gave the minions of Osama bin Laden the war they wanted, and that the war ruined the reputation of United States among the different countries of the world. A war in Pakistan would be different, of course, because this time the invaded country would not only be a non threat, it would also be one of our allies in the war against terror. I do not wish to even start to imagine would this would do to our diplomatic efforts.

I really can't imagine why Barack Obama thinks that sending troops into Pakistan wouldn't cause guerrilla attacks like the ones in Iraq. Saddam, at least was a murderous dictator, and in addition was a secular leader, as opposed to an Islamic theocrat. Pakistan is a more or less peaceful democracy, and would arouse sympathy in any radical Muslim who was turned off by Saddam's brutality. Pakistan is seventy percent Sunni, which happens to be the sect we are fighting in Iraq. An invasion of Pakistan would almost certainly end any hopes may have had of forming an alliance with the Sunni's, or at least persuading them to stop shooting at us.

This state of affairs would have the nearly inevitable result of a Muslim world with the Sunni sect firmly against America, and the Shi'a sect shakily allied with us. The Shi'a by the way, represent less than fifteen percent of the Islamic world.

Also, Pakistan has nukes. Maybe Obama is naive? I don't often agree with Hillary (who described him that way after the recent Democrat debate), but she is definitely right there.