Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Debating Democrats

I watched part of the Democrat debate tonight, and had a few observations. First, Hillary's image looks really, really bad to me. For all the talk about her being the first women president, he comes across as pretty masculine. It's like how drag queens managed to stop looking like men, while not really looking like women. Except the other way around.

John Edwards reminded me just why he comes across as a bit too slick. In addition, he made at least two fairly major and easily avoided factual errors. While complaigning that we aren't looking out for our children anymore, he tried a little compare and contrast with the "previous twenty generations." I assume that he means the previous twenty generations of Americans, but given that a generation is around twenty years, and the United States is only a little older than 200 years, something seems wrong with his math.

His second mistake wasn't really unique to him, but rather a liberal urban legend. He stated that the Founding Fathers created this country so that all the power wouldn't be in the hands of the rich, so that the poor would get any opprotunity. Which is fine, except a) the Founding Fathers rarely refered to America as land of financial opportunity, and b) many of the controversies surrounding the founding of our government revolved around the question of whether or not the people are too stupid to play a large role in government. (If Hillary is elected, I would be inclined to say yes, they are.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ricard Dawkins and Religion

Recently, I browsed Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. It is obviously intended to be atheism's answer to Christianity (specifically Christianity, Dawkins suggests that the Eastern religions are more lifestyles than religions. They aren't.) Dawkins wants atheists to call themselves "Brights", and even goes to far as to approvingly mention an atheists version of the Ten Commandments, which he copied from a website. (I guess it was just too hard to think of his own).

Dawkins never explains why atheists would want commandments (the root of commandments is command, and who is giving the command?), but holds them up as proof of the superior desirability of the atheist philosophy. His commandments are:

(1) Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
(2) In all things, strive to cause no harm.
(3) Treat your fellow human beings,your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
(4) Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
(5) Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
(6) Always seek to be learning something new.
(7) Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
(8) Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
(9) Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
(10) Question everything.

If this is the best atheists can come up with, then that movement really can't reasonably claim the title of "Brights". Of these, numbers five through nine are more truisms then commandments; they are so obvious as to hardly need stating. Number ten doesn't really mean anything- it seems straight out of Catch-22. (Should we question whether we should question everything? Also, if we are to question everything, then these commandments are pretty pointless, aren't they?) Numbers one through four can be summed up as "the Golden Rule stated four different ways."

Richard Dawkins is widely respected expert on evolution. While his philosophical ideas are endorsed only by a minority, everyone is the scientific world acknowledges his knowledge of biology in general, and evolution in particular. Given these credentials, you would except him to have a better understanding of evolution.

Dawkins believes that any differences between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom are differences of degree, not type. The goal of an animals life is to pass on as many of his genes as possible. The fitter the animal, the more genes it passes on. That is how evolution works- the genes of the strongest are passed down.

"Doing unto others" doesn't aid in that endeavor in the slightest. Helping others, if looked at from a strict standpoint of survival, is nearly always a mistake. Considering that fact, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins should try to get his moral beliefs in line with science. Quite simply, either evolution or Dawkins' moral beliefs are wrong. Evolution isn't*, so Dawkins is.



*By the way, I have read most of the creationist arguments against evolution. They don't hold up. Here are some good articles regarding evolution and creationism. I don't agree with everything this person says, but he does make some good points.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Grading the Candidates

There has been a lot of debate in many conservatives circles about the conservatism of the leading Republican presidential candidates. (Example). While everyone's ideas of a qualified candidate differ, I decided to take all five leading Republicans, give them each a score from 1 to 10 on five major issues, and see which candidate won. The issues were: domestic issues (such as crime, guns, and immigration), foreign policy, taxes and spending, social issues, and electability (which isn't an issue, but is important). A grade of five is the "average" grade on the issue among Republicans.

Guiliani

Domestic issues- His performance in New York City was off the charts. From what I have read, crime there was incredibly bad, and Rudy made New York into a safe place. However, he has passionately supported gun control. He also made New York into a santuary city for illegals.
Grade-7
Foreign policy- His views on Iraq seem solid, as do his overall views on the war on terror. His crimefighting experience will be an advantage in the fight against Al-Qeada.
Grade-6
Social issues- Pro-abortion, pro-gay rights. Not so good.
Grade-1
Taxes- He cut taxes in New York city, and seems like a good fiscal conservative.
Grade-5
Electability-He trailed Hillary in the polls in his Senate race, and had to pull out in part because a messy affair. However, his 9/11 performance and nearly universal name recognition will probably help.
Grade-6
Total score-25

Thompson
Domestic issues- As a Senator, he really didn't have an extensive record in this area. He seems very pro-gun. His immigration plan is the best of any candidates.
Grade-8
Foreign policy- He seems to have solid view on Iraq, and the war on Terror in general. He recently issued a statement supporting a free Cuba, which I like.
Grade-5
Social issues- He was pro-abortion for a while, then suddenly and without any fanfare turned pro-life in 2000. Now, however, he seems to have converted pretty solidly to the pro-life cause.
Grade-5
Taxes- Thompson has said that "the U.S. tax code is broken" and supports "dissolution of the IRS as we know it". Sounds good to me.
Grade-7
Electability- Thompson projects a pretty good image when he is doing well, and a very bad image when doing poorly. He has done poorly, for the most part, since he jumped in the race. However, I think we should view this as a few early bumps in the road, and not as a sign of things to come. Every candidate has made gaffes in the beginning- the difference is, they made their back in May when no one noticed.
Grade-4
Total score-29

McCain
Domestic issues- Very bad on immigration, would probably be tough on crime, and is good on guns.
Grade-3
Foreign policy- Was the first to call for a surge, which makes him look very prescient. However, favors closing down Guantanamo Bay and giving the prisoners there rights.
Grade-8
Social issues- Against abortion, against gay rights.
Grade-5
Taxes- He opposed Bush's tax cuts, and still doesn't like them. However, he does favor keeping them. Claims to want to slash spending.
Grade-4
Electability-He wouldn't project a great image, nor a terrible one. His life experiences might give him an edge against Hillary, who has never done anything.
Grade-5
Total score-25

Romney
Domestic issues- he seems to have the standard GOP line on most domestic issues.
Grade-5
Foreign policy- he seems to have the standard GOP line here too.
Grade-5
Social issues- he seems to have the standard GOP line here too. (Expect he suddenly converted two years ago).
Grade-5
Taxes- seems to have the standard GOP line here (can you sense a pattern?), except he seems to spend a lot of time explaining how even though he raised taxes sometimes, it was for a good reason, and he cut other taxes, and he likes cutting taxes. His story seems to make sense, but also seems to just barely hold together.
Grade-4
Electability- He is handsome and articulate. Unfortunately, he also looks and acts pretty robotic.
Grade-5
Total score-24

Huckabee
Domestic issues- he is protectionist, compassionate (in the expand welfare kind of way), is a health nut himself and do his best to make you one too, and seems sympathetic to illegal aliens. On the plus side, he is pro-gun.
Grade-2
Foreign policy- he doesn't seem to have a real vision of the world. I like his Iraq plans, but in the advent of a crisis, I'm not sure he understands the world situation enough. He does defend the Iraq war well though.
Grade-4
Social issues- if abortion was the only issue on the table, Huckabee would win the nomination hands down.
Grade-10
Taxes- he got an F on spending from the Cato Institute. He does support the FairTax, which would abolish the IRS.
Grade-2
Electability-Huckabee is amazingly articulate. He is probably the best natural politician out there. When I hear Huckabee talk, I want to rush out vote for him, even though he is not really qualified. I know that intellectually, but emotionally he appeals to me very strongly.
Grade-7
Total score-25

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fires in California

The news coming from the California wildfires is painful and hard to take. The destruction of so many homes is a real tragedy. However, even in the midst of this disaster, the response of everyone involved in the situation does give hope.

The response to Katrina showed the worst side of America. City government was incompetent- Ray Nagin left dozens of schoolbuses in the city instead of using them to evacuate because he couldn't find drivers. Yes, it apparently takes extensive training in Ray Nagin's world to drive a schoolbus. The state government was incompetent - it wasn't just New Orleans that was devastated by the hurricane. And the federal government was perhaps the most incompetent of all. They arrived late, did a poor job, then threw money helplessly and uselessly at the problem.

The residents of New Orleans weren't any better. Most of the chaos at the Superdome and elsewhere in New Orleans was sensationalistic exaggeration. (Remember that the the media suggested cannibalism took place there). However, the Superdome was still pretty awful. Looters ran wild in New Orleans. Even some policemen joined them, or simply fled their posts. In addition to a weak government response, the people of New Orleans broke under the pressure. Today, two years later, New Orleans is still reeling from the hurricane.

However, the response to the California wildfires is representative of what is best in America. Here both the state and federal responses have been very effective. There have been no reports of firefighters shirking their duty, as in New Orleans. On the contrary, there are numerous reports of dedicated firefighters working 48 hours straight. They are living proof that not all of our heros are in Iraq.

Equally uplifting is the response of the individuals forced to evacuate. The number of reported lootings is in single digits. Qualcomm Stadium is far from the hellhole of the Superdome- here, cooperation and aid for the needy reign. The California wildfires, though tragic and heartbreaking, are a testament to the real spirit of America.


A brief note. One of my favorite bloggers, Bill Whittle, wrote back in September of 2005:

Only a few minutes ago, I had the delightful opportunity to read the comment of
a fellow who said he wished that white, middle-class, racist,
conservative (jerks) like myself could have been herded into the Superdome
Concentration Camp to see how much we like it. Absent, of course, was the
fundamental truth of what he plainly does not have the eyes or the imagination
to see, namely, that if the Superdome had been filled with white, middle-class,
racist, conservative (jerks) like myself, it would not have been a refinery of
horror, but rather a citadel of hope and order and restraint and compassion. (I edited out some R rated language)

The whole post is very, very good and worth reading, and the events in California seem to confirm his hypothesis.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When Tom Tancredo entered the race for the White House, he never expected to win. Instead, he used the resulting exposure as a way to draw attention to the problem of illegal immigration. (That is why he brings up the issue in every one of his debate answers). However, I think that now he can rest assured that there is at least one Republican who will fight against illegal immigration.

Fred Thompson's immigration policy is exactly what conservatives have been pushing for months. In addition to the standard promises of no amnesty, a larger border patrol, and a border fence, Fred also supports harsh penalties for sanctuary cities (like Rudy Giuliani's New York) and verification that employees hired are legal residents. In addition, he also is in favor of ending the practice of giving legal status to relatives of people already here, something no other Republican supports. Tancredo can drop out of the race - there is now someone who will fight against illegal immigration.

(For the record, I checked Giuliani's and Romney's sites for their positions on immigration. Here is Romney's, and here is Rudy's.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Republican Primaries

The presidential race is starting to take shape. The Democrats, of course, will nominate Hillary Clinton. In the race for the Republican nomination, however, the outcome is still wide open.


There are four GOP candidates who have a chance of winning the nomination: Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. Rudy Giuliani leads the race, and is running on the fact that he was "America's Mayor" in the weeks following 9/11, the excellent job he did as mayor of New York, and on the fact that he will be "electable" in a race against Hillary.


The fact that Rudy Giuliani is a liberal regarding social issues will almost certainly hurt his race against Hillary- even if most social conservatives support him, there will almost certainly be a large number who will not. Also, many people ignore the fact that Giuliani already has run a campaign against Hillary. Hillary won, as Giuliani dropped out of the race. In fairness to Giuliani, it should be noted that prostate cancer played a large role in his decision to end his candidacy, but it should also be noted that his affair with Judith Nathan (now Judith Giuliani) also played a role. Even before he dropped out, however, Clinton was having her way with him in the polls.


Fred Thompson's campaign is truly remarkable, given that his initial support came almost entirely from the grassroots. He has a record as a true conservative, and he has managed to position himself as an alternative to Giuliani in a way that no other GOP candidate has been able to.


However, his campaign has been a bit weak. Reports of laziness can be attributed to a hostile media, but there is no denying that his speeches have been unexciting, and his debate performances, while acceptable, haven't been lights out. His speeches seem to full of platitudes and truisms, as opposed to any real policies.


Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are certainly long shots for the Republican nomination, but not that long. Romney, is particular, has run a very solid if not spectacular campaign. His leads in Iowa and New Hampshire definitely put him in excellent position to quickly build momentum once the primaries start. His conservative positions are right in line with prevailing conservative thought, but he seems to have arrived at them all within the last two years.


Mike Huckabee could win possibly win Iowa if he gets massive support from social conservatives, and if he manages to build a lot of momentum from Iowa, he could barely possibly win other states, and just gather enough for the nomination. Its not very likely, but that's why they call him a long shot. Some of his positions, however, would hurt him in the unlikely event that he somehow got enough momentum to be a threat to any of the true frontrunners.


Huckabee seems to be under the impression that government should help out those in need. While this is fine for individuals, and most agree that it is permissible in truly desperate cases (such as starving children), most conservatives believe that it is not the role of government to provide charity. This softheartedness in Huckabee has led him to suggest that the plight of illegal aliens and that of slaves are somehow comparable, to suggest a nationwide smoking ban, and to commute the sentence of a convicted rapist, who then raped and murdered a woman. Furthermore, he received failing grades from the Cato Institute for his fiscal policy.

So, the Republicans have as frontrunners Rudy Giuliani, a social liberal, Fred Thompson, whose campaign seems to be losing ground, Mitt Romney, a very recent convert to conservatism, and Mike Huckabee, who seems to be a proponent of the welfare state. None of the these candidates are perfect. In fact, I would venture to say that two of them are unacceptable to conservatives- Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. (Although in fairness to Huckabee, he does support the FairTax now. I don't know much about it, but it sounds a bit implausible as a tax policy. It would, however, lower tax rates.) The other two, Thompson and Romney, have flaws, but are acceptable. I would add to the acceptable list John McCain, despite his many flaws. He is, at least, barely (just barely) acceptable to all the wings of the Republican party. The Republicans, if they want to win in 2008, should nominate one of those three.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Random Thoughts

Just a few random thoughts.

Rush Limbaugh is one of my favorite conservatives, and it is due in part to his influence that I take the time to blog and think about the issues. I think its amazing that his Harry Reid Smear Letter got 2.1 million in an Ebay auction. I also think that it great that Rush will match the winning bid for charity- how many other celebrities have donated that much at a single stroke?

On a related note, Harry Reid's attempt to take credit for the plan is pretty despicable. He is literally acting as if putting the letter up for auction was partly his idea. Seriously. Of course, he had nothing to do with it, it was all Rush's idea. Despicable as his attack was, I am sure that there are some college age sons and daughters of fallen heroes who are glad that Reid made it.

Mel "Amnesty" Martinez is resigning as RNC chairman, and none to soon. Maybe this time they will appoint a real conservative? Michael Steele would do a great job.

More poverty stricken Chinese are donating money to Hillary. Next time you are in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, don't bother with a big tip. The waiters already have enough money to max out their donations to Hillary.

Rudy Giuliani obviously makes an effort to remind everybody of 9/11 every chance he gets. That's fine, he did a good job, and he's entitled to be proud of it. John McCain, however, rarely references his experiences being tortured at the hands of the Viet Cong. I would expect him to mention it more, since it is a great and inspirational story.

Congress upheld Bush's veto of the SCHIP yesterday. That is truly great news. I hate any sort of socialism, and that bill was leading us down the path to socialized medicine.

By the way, liberals, pointing out that a family in which no member works full time, has three nice cars, and makes 82,000 a year might not exactly be desperate for health care isn't "attacking" them. That is what many liberal bloggers have been accusing Michelle Malkin of doing. Of course, nobody should be surprised at vicious and untrue attacks by liberals.

What's Bill Gates doing posting on the Huffington Post? I didn't think he was a liberal.

Have a great weekend!

Violence in Pakistan

Yesterday, Islamic extremists targeted former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as she returned to Pakistan. They didn't get her, but they did kill over one hundred thirty-five other completely innocent people. Those killed and injured are, of course, in my thoughts and prayers.

While I don't want to sound like Michael Moore here*, I do think it is incredible that these terrorists have so little regard for human life. At least in Iraq, these have the bad excuse of knowing that they are killing people of the opposite sect. In Pakistan, for all they knew they could have been killing people who agreed with them about Bhutto. While the slaughter of innocents who disagree with you is monstrous, it does have historical precedent. But I can't think of any other group in history who staged protests by murdering dozens of completely random people.


* For those of you who may have forgotten, Michael Moore's response to 9/11 was to complain that Al-Qaida didn't target the right people, since New Yorkers didn't vote for Bush. Apparently, Moore thought that if they had targeted, say, Nevada, their attacks would have made sense.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Islamo-Nazis?

There is a considerable amount of discussion in conservative circles comparing radical Islamic fundamentalists to Nazis. While this comparison is probably a bit hyperbolistic, there is more credence to this line of thought than most people know.

Amin al-Husseini was the leading Islamic radical of the forties. He was a major player in the fight against the idea of a Jewish state. Yasser Arafat considered him a "hero" and fought under him. Al-Husseini spent the entire length of World War II in Berlin as an honored guest of the Nazis.

While this is only one Arab extremist, it does reveal an interesting and too little-known link between the Islamic radicals of today and the Nazis of yesterday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Legislating Defeat

I am usually willing to give political figures the benefit of the doubt regarding their motives. I have assumed that for the most part, the Democrats were simply incompetent and shortsighted on the issue of Iraq. They may have tried to milk it for political gain, but I did believe that most Democrats, if given the chance, would not actively sabotage the war effort.

But now, it seems apparent that congressional Democrats- the rank and file, not just a few far leftists- are indeed working for America's defeat. Although they ignored the surges beneficial effects, and tried to smear General Petraeus, I did not think that they would sink to actively attempt to undermine the effort.

It is obvious to anyone who has any knowledge at all of the Iraq War that it is mostly a political war. Militarily, the U.S. has destroyed Al-Qaeda- we have killed over 55,000 insurgents. If the U.S. is defeated, it will be because the political situation there is unstable and unmanageable, not because our losses will by so high as to be unsustainable.

In order to achieve a political victory, it will obviously be necessary to enlist the aid of, or at least not antagonize unnecessarily, Iraq's neighbors such and Iran (and the Democrats don't have much of a track record on Iran) and Turkey.

Although Turkey doesn't get much attention from the media, Turkey is a reasonably powerful country- and a key part of our supply line to Iraq. Turkey is one of our few Middle Eastern allies. In fact, the is only one major bone of contention between the two countries, and that is the subject of the Kurds- we support them, and the Turks don't.

Now, given that the Turks play such a large role in the politics of the region, it seems that it would be an easy decision not to unnecessarily antagonize them. Even the most naive individual could see that.

Congress, however, is frantically trying to pass a resolution condemning Turkey for genocide against the Armenians- ninety years ago. Apparently, the Turks object to the claim that they were responsible for genocide- they claim that while they allowed it, they didn't actually order it, or some such dumb explanation.

Even though the Turks might be a bit oversensitive about the subject, there is absolutely no need to suddenly condemn them for something that happened nearly a century ago. The Turks seem to agree, as the Turkish ambassador indignantly left the country after the bill was introduced.

Such a reaction was fairly predictable. The Democrats don't have to believe that entering Iraq was a good idea. They can believe that an immediate pullout would be the best course of action. They cross the line, however, when they start legislating defeat. They may see the Iraq War as Bush's War, but that does not give them the right to sabotage.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jews in the Modern World

Recently, Vanity Fair put out a list of the worlds most powerful people, which raised eyebrows as over half of the people included were of Jewish descent. Considering the proportionally tiny number of Jews in the world, this is a truly remarkable achievement.

It is made all the more amazing when you consider the the incredible prejudice that has been a part of Jewish life in the for the last five hundred years. It is almost certain that, in that space of time, the Jews have had to absorb the most injustice and hatred.

Most races that have been discriminated against have been feared by the uneducated masses because of their different and seemingly odd culture. The Jews were, of course, hated by the common people, but were also defamed by the most educated and intelligent. These included some of the most intelligent and respected minds in history, including Ciero, Voltaire, H. L. Mencken, Thomas Edison, Richard Wagner, and many, many others. This odd alliance of hate by the elite and underprivileged makes the Jewish race almost unique in the history of racial prejudice.

Furthermore, nearly all the movements and regimes and that stood against any group of minority included Jews on their undesirable list. The Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi's, the Soviets, and the Inquisition all share one group in common whom they hated- the Jews.

Throughout history, nearly all of those who hated Jews shared the same reasons: Jews were greedy, acquisitive, and privileged swindlers. Wherever they gained any measure of prosperity, they were accused of using their "clannishness" to help out only other Jews, while leaving Gentiles out in the cold. If a Jew was successful, he was nearly always hated.

It would be expected that such hatred and discrimination would leave Jews in the position of eternal victims- after all, no other group has been discriminated against nearly so much. (If anyone is wondering, blacks haven't experienced half the travails the Jews have suffered- the discrimination they faced in America is mild compared to what discrimination in, say, Nazi Germany meant). On the contrary, Jews have become perhaps the most successful people in America. This example of a race triumphing over adversity should inspire everyone- Jew or non-Jew.

The experiences of the Jewish people should serve an example for other groups that have experienced discrimination, such as African- Americans. While blacks have been brutally discriminated against, and still face discrimination today, I think that perhaps black leaders should attempt to shake off the apathy that many blacks seem to feel.

I can understand that being denied a promotion or a job on the basis of one's skin color can be disheartening. But the history of the Jewish race shows that success in a white (or Islamic, or atheistic) world can be achieved. Blacks should try to emulate their success, not sink to perpetual victimhood.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore's Peace Prize

Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his allegedly powerful pseudoscientific slideshow presenting the "dangers" of global warming. In addition to the fact the the Nobel Peace Prize now officially has nothing to do with peace, this now could mean that Gore will consider another Presidential run.

If he does, Hillary Clinton will be hurt. Gore is now looked to as a great philosophical guru by the left. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is seen as an "electable" candidate. If Gore gets in, he will destroy Hillary's much worked for "aura of inevitability", and apart from that, Hillary has very little. In addition, Gore has been a more or less clean slate on Iraq, giving him the luxury of waiting to see what is the popular position to take on the war, then taking it. In addition, Gore has a rather pleasant personality, unlike Hillary, with her screeches and cackles. If Gore runs, he would give the Democrats a nearly perfect Presidential candidate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Giuliani or Romney?

The conventional wisdom has Rudy Giuliani leading the Republican pack. Mitt Romney, with his strong early leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, is seen as number two. Most of these people see Fred Thompson as somehow inadequate.

I won't disagree with anyone who says that Fred Thompson isn't exactly bursting with energy. It is undeniable that his many of his policies are poorly defined. But he far better than Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney.

Rudy Giuliani did a very good job as major of New York. He slashed crime and made the city livable. Many New Yorkers revere him. But he is not a good presidential candidate.

His deviations from the conservative line are well documented. He is pro-abortion, and anti-gun. In addition, New York under his leadership was a sanctuary city for illegals.

In addition, Hillary Clinton's supporters have to be salivating over a Giuliani-Clinton race. Rudy Giuliani has been married three times. His kids don't speak to him. There is his infamous crossdressing skit on Saturday Night Live. The Clintons, who are masters at this game, will use all of these mistakes with devastatingly skill.

Giuliani's social positions will also hurt him. Although a possible third party doesn't seem to be on the horizon, Giuliani will almost certainly lose a significant number of votes because of his support for abortion. Given the Republicans precarious position, any loss of votes would be disastrous.

Mitt Romney is not the answer either. His conservative credentials are pretty strong, if you ignore the fact that he seems to have picked them up two years ago. However, he has won one election in his entire political career. Furthermore, his governorship of Massachusetts, while solid, was not exactly a rousing conservative success. He didn't make any mistakes in Massachusetts, but he didn't have many stirring victories either.

Romney's image may also be a problem. While he is handsome, and articulate, he seems very scripted and artificial. During the debates, he looks positively robotic. While Hillary isn't exactly cuddley, the GOP still would be wise to nominate someone who doesn't look and act like a robot.

If Mitt Romney is nominated, I will vote for him with a light, if not enthusiastic, heart. If Rudy is nominated, I will vote for him on the theory that half a loaf is better than none. However, if either Rudy or Mitt is elected, the Republicans will stand a good chance of losing the White House. I don't know if Fred Thompson is the answer. But I am almost sure that Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney aren't.

UPDATE: Ann Coulter has just written a column attacking Fred Thompson. Her critism:

In 1999, Sen. Fred Thompson... vote[d] against removing Bill Clinton from office
for perjury.

That's it. That is Ann Coulter's entire case against Fred Thompson. If one mistake is enough to sink someone's campaign, why not go after Rudy on abortion rights?

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Third Party?

There is some talk by social conservative leaders about running a third party candidate if Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination, since Giuliani is pro-abortion. While I am no Giulaini supporter, this talk is, in my opinion, misguided.

Social conservatives have had a chance to nominate someone who is truly pro-life. Mike Huckabee is engaging, smart, and funny- and has gotten almost no fundraising support. Mitt Romney, although a late convert, is pro-life, and some conservative Christians refuse to support him because he is a Mormon. Fred Thompson is a social conservative, and James Dobson has slammed him not once, but twice. If Dobson doesn't like Giuliani, then maybe he should stop bashing Thompson, Giuliani's main rival.

In addition, the purist approach doesn't work. In 2000, thousands of Florida liberals voted for Ralph Nader, who they saw as more of a "true liberal" than Al Gore. Gore lost Florida by a few hundred votes. Were these liberals happy that they make their point? No. On the contrary, they blamed Nader. (Although perhaps pundits like Michael Moore, who told Florida voters to vote Nader, should get more blame). And the purists didn't even make their point, as 2004 candidate John Kerry wasn't any more liberal than Gore.

There are plenty of true social conservatives to support. We should support them, and not support a disastrous and futile third party run.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Death of Mark Daily.

Christopher Hitchens has recently written a very moving article about a brave young man named Mark Daily who, after reading an article by Hitchens regarding the morality of invading Iraq, made the decision to enlist. He enlisted with the specific purpose of going to fight for the liberation of Iraq, joining one week after the invasion started. Less than three months after his arrival in Iraq, he was killed in a roadside blast whiling riding in a Humvee. Another Humvee was intended to take the lead position in the convoy, but as the Humvee was not properly armored, insisted on taking the lead. Although his Humvee was armored, it was no match for 1,500 pounds of high explosive. Mark Daily was a great loss to the Army, and to the world.

He was a great loss to the world because he was, even apart from his army service, was a very fine young man. According to his family, he would not let others be bullied in school, won an online argument with a neo-Nazi (not that that is particularly hard), and joined the army expressly to liberate the people of Iraq. His death was a great loss.

Hitchens, by his own account, felt a bit responsible for Daily's death as an article he wrote influenced to his decision to join. He got in touch with Daily's family, and they kindly invited him to go with them when they sprinkled their son's ashes along his favorite beach, as was his request.

While this story is definitely sad, it is also a uplifting. Daily is resting in peace, where he wanted to be buried, and he fought a good fight in Iraq. He saved the life of others (including that of one man who had seven children) in his death, and he was a first-class soldier. In my Christian worldview, and most others, Mark Daily led a full life, one that he can be proud of.

The only worldview in which Daily is not a hero is Hitchens own, if he followed it to its logical conclusions. If we postulate that there is no afterlife, from Daily's point of view, the world ended the day he died. And what had Daily accomplished? He had fought to save the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator, but he got nothing for it. (Remember that Hitchens assumes there is no afterlife).

Most religious people do good deeds in the hope of experiencing a desirable outcome in the afterlife. But Hitchens assumes Daily will have no afterlife. Some believers are holy enough to do good deeds simply for the love of God. But Mark Daily was a atheist, and if he was a believer Hitchens see his belief as illogical.

I find it odd that Hitchens can writes so movingly and well about a man whose action he should find illogical. While I am sure that he would disagree, I see this tenedancy as evidence that, despite his best efforts to eradicate belief, Hitchens still reasons from a religous standpoint in matters of the soul.



A quick notes. I would read Hitchens' recent article in Vanity Fair about his reaction to Daily's death (link), as well as his original article (link) that inspired Daily to enlist. These are both brilliant articles. In addition, Mark Daily's MySpace page (link) is worth visiting.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dictatorship in Burma

I would just like to point out the continuing crackdown by the government of Burma on the innocent Hindu monks. Christopher Hitchens has written a very good (expect of the antitheistic part) article about the situation.

Also, Hitch has also written a brillant article about Iraq. There is no one who writes better about the Iraq War.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fred Thompson on Hannity and Colmes

Fred and Jeri Thompson appeared on Hannity and Colmes tonight. Fred sounded good, and I got a better idea of who he is and what he is like.

Fred Thompson, depending on your point of view, is either amazingly arrogant or reassuringly confident. To listen to him tell it, after he retired from the Senate, he was through with politics, but after he had two children, he started thinking about the world they would grow up in. In the wake of 9/11, he saw a need for a strong President, and if you want something done right, do it yourself. I suppose that this shows his confidence in his ability to do the job, but it seems that his primary reason for running is a bit different from most. Most candidates say that they are looking out for America, and think that they can provide effective leadership. I'm not sure that Fred's reasoning is worse than the others, but it is a bit unusual.

Fred also defended Rush Limbaugh. While this may seem like a no-brainer from a Republican candidate, it apparently isn't. Fred Thompson is the first and, as I write this, the only Republican candidate to express support. Rudy Giuliani hasn't said anything about the affair, and John McCain said that he disagreed with Rush if Media Matters was correct in their interpretation. Mitt Romney, incredibly, condemned Rush as soon as the story broke. It's not like everyone was waiting for Mitt's opinion on this matter, so not waiting at least a few days is incredibly stupid politically, not to mention the incredible unfairness of his condemnation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Democrats and Iraq

The Democrats have been wrong on everything about Iraq. Everything. Sadly, they think that they should be put in charge of ending the war. Given their abysmal track record on Iraq, the Democrats have no business running any part of the war.

The Democrats started their embarrassing string of poor predictions when they jumped on the "Iraq is an immediate threat" bandwagon. While almost everyone in Washington agreed, it still doesn't speak volumes about the Democrat's superior competence regarding the war. They were just as incorrect about the state of Iraq's WMD program as the Republicans were.

Soon after the initial invasion ended, the Democrats and mainstream media warned of a Vietnam style quagmire. (Now you tell us). Since we were fighting a guerrilla war in Iraq, this line of "reasoning" (such as it was) went, that pretty much close enough to Vietnam, and the war was therefore unwinnable. There are a few gaps in that logic, the most obvious being that in Iraq, there is no draft, which brought Vietnam to its end.

The Democrats also suggest that the war in Iraq is creating more terrorists, and pulling out would would cause a warm feeling of goodwill to flood the Middle East, and those who are bearing arms against would... probably go attack Israel, but at least they wouldn't be hitting us.

These folks seem to be forgetting Somalia. After we withdrew from Somalia, Osama bin Laden said: After leaving Afghanistan, the Muslim fighters headed for Somalia and prepared for a long battle, thinking that the Americans were like the Russians. The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat. And America forgot all the hoopla and media propaganda ... about being the world leader and the leader of the New World Order, and after a few blows they forgot about this title and left, dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat."

If we assume that the school of thought that says we are creating more terrorists is correct, then the United States is in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-don't-position.

However, this view, is likely only half correct. The Iraq War is probably creating more terrorists. If we leave Iraq, though, we have no guarantee that Al-Qaeda will end their attacks, quite the contrary. Al-Qaeda is not happy with the fact that we are in Iraq, but their main problem is with our culture, specifically the fact that we are not Islamic. Pulling out of Iraq will not pacify them.

Of course, the liberals also famously (and infamously) predicted that the surge will be a failure. While this misconception has been debunked in enough places to render a point by point debunking unnecessary, it is interesting to note that the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq in September has reached the lowest level in fourteen months.

The latest incorrect liberal opinion is the idea that the fact that their constant calls for surrender do not influence Al-Qaeda. Of course, they are wrong on this, too. Osama bin Laden chided the Democrats for not pulling out of Iraq. And it may be nothing more than coincidence, but the second and fourth deadliest months in 2006 were September and October, the months immediately preceding the election. These months represented the highest two month casualty rate of that year. This violence of course, played into the Democrats Iraq rhetoric.

The Republicans have not been particularly competent on the issue of Iraq. But the Democrats have been much, much worse. If a Democrat wins the Presidency, his or (more probably) her handling of Iraq would almost certainly be disastrous.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Few Fundraising Notes

Much has been made of the superior fundraising skills of the Democrats, who have raised double the amount that Republicans have raised this quarter. However, these stats are a bit misleading. The Democrats have basically two candidates (Hillary and Barack) who have a chance of getting the nominiation, and most of the party has gone to one of these candidates. The Republicans have four candidates with a shot at the nomination, and it is likely that many Republican donors are holding off on their donations until the GOP race starts to comes into focus.

In a related note, Barack Obama has more donors than Republican candidates combined. Sounds impressive, huh? Until you realize that Obama includes as donors everyone who has bought anything from his campaign, including keychains and bumper stickers. By using this creative counting method, Obama inflates his donor totals into a much more impressive number.