questions and debate

we are still not having an honest debate about iraq. why is it that we cannot, even now, thoughtfully engage the arguments for and against bush’s troop surge without accusing one side or the other of trying to gain political advantage? being against the war is a popular position to take, so it is neither brave nor courageous to parrot the poll-driven opinion of others. democrats and those few republicans who have come out against this troop surge can both be accused of trying to gain political advantage by supporting their various non-binding resolutions, and there’s a strong case that could be made for that point of view. we need to get beyond these accusations and have the iraq debate based on a full understanding of the consequences of what we choose to do next in iraq.

democrats are trying their hardest to oppose the war in iraq without taking any steps to end our involvement there. they seem to believe that this is what the american people voted for.  the democrats are misinterpreting the message that was sent in November. the message was that we wanted a plan to win, and that we didn’t believe the current course was headed toward that goal. nowhere in all the votes cast did I see a mandate for de-funding the war. the american people weren’t close to suggesting that the democrats should oppose a troop surge that could be an important measure to stabilize Baghdad, as well as being another step toward the withdrawal of our troops from iraq.

in order to call for the immediate withdrawal of our troops from iraq, several questions have to be asked. those who take this position have to realistically deal with the consequences of taking this action. if iraq degrades into more of a bloody mess than they believe it already is, what then? do we then send troops back into iraq, or do we leave iraq to fend for itself? if so, then it would make more sense to support the surge and to give it a fair chance to work before completely throwing the iraqis to the sectarian wolves.

some examples from history might suggest that we should give the surge a chance to work before completely abandoning the iraq project.

In 1973, a heavily Democratic Congress voted to prohibit U.S. air support for Cambodia’s pro-American army, then desperately fending off the communist Khmer Rouge insurgents. In early 1975, Congress cut off all U.S. military aid for Cambodia.

Predictably, Cambodian government forces were soon defeated by the Khmer Rouge, then backed by Communist China and North Vietnam.

What followed was one of the great horrors of the 20th century – the genocidal slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of 2 million Cambodians, roughly 40 percent of Cambodia’s population.

In 1974-75, an even more heavily Democratic Congress drastically cut U.S. military and economic assistance to our ally South Vietnam, even as the Soviet Union was illegally flooding North Vietnam with heavy weapons. The subsequent North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam overran our ally, took Saigon, and promptly imposed a Stalinist dictatorship that resulted in the deaths and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese.

it’s easy to understand why the democrats are where they are with this war. it has nothing to do with sympathy for terrorists. democrats aren’t evil. they just don’t see the point in supporting a mission that they believe has already been doomed to fail. that’s a legitimate position to take, and it has quite a bit of popular support in the drive-by media and in the public at large. at this point, the only fingers of blame being pointed are at our commander-in-chief, and to a lesser degree, hillary clinton. the democrats don’t want to take any responsibility for this war. they don’t want this war to be their problem, because after all, bush started it, right?

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cause confused

it’s fun to mock the dimbulbs who are usually the voices of the anti-war protests. cindy sheehan, jane fonda, the code pink(os), various hollywood celebs like sean penn, and clueless politicians like dennis kucinich (who once proposed a department of peace)…all of these people have credibility problems because of their statements about our president and about this country. stupid protest chants, over-the-top-signs, and various weirdness are all part of their exercise of our right to free speech. so bully for them.  they have had their say.  now it is our turn to speak our minds, and reject this image that the left wants to paint of the american people and their elected president.

we are not imperialists.  we are not fascists.  those who would say so are blinded by hatred and rage for president bush, and they are no longer able to think rationally about what should happen next in iraq. the anti-war crowd doesn’t really want to know what this country would look like if it were ruled by a dictator who would never be subject to a vote on his job performance.  they don’t want to know what it would be like trying to exercise their freedom of speech in a place where you could lose limbs if you ticked off the wrong person. 

i do not deny that there are valid reasons to oppose the iraq war. we should be able to have this discussion in a calm, rational manner without trying to score political points and without throwing out wild unsubstantiated accusations about the character of this country and about our president. can’t we disagree with the president’s policies without impugning the man’s character? apparently that’s too much to ask from these anti-war protestors.

no concessions

the american people didn’t believe that the president’s current plan for iraq was good enough, and they wanted to force him to try a different approach. that’s part of what happened on november 7th. we obviously need to find a workable strategy for iraq. the ideal plan should be a plan to stabilize iraq, not a plan to surrender control of iraq to its enemies. unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what the iraq study group has in mind. asking for the help of iran and syria with iraq is a questionable proposition at best. at worst, it destroys the possibility that iraq will end up supporting the united states rather than islamic fundamentalist states like iran. if we make the wrong move here, this will end up costing us more than iraq. it will look like surrender to the terrorists we are fighting. it will make us look weak to rogue nations pursuing nuclear programs. if our allies know that they cannot trust us to keep our promises, they will be less likely to stick their necks out to help us with north korea and iran. these are the stakes. this is why iraq is so important.

the proposal goes something like this: iran gives up its nuclear program, stops supporting terrorists, and stops interfering with iraq. we provide some economic incentives and threaten sanctions if iran doesn’t play by the rules. i seriously hope that this kind of deal won’t even see daylight. what are the odds that this could ever work? if you take iran’s president at his word, then i don’t see any possibility that iran will give up its nuclear program. it doesn’t matter what incentives are offered. as far as sanctions are concerned, that didn’t work so well with iraq. there will always be enablers like china, russia, and france, as well as others at the UN, who are perfectly happy to let iran say and do whatever it wants to do.

iran is watching us and it sees the current political situation here in the united states, and our negative attitude toward the iraq project. it would be easy to them to conclude that if they wait long enough, they will get everything they want. that’s the image we are projecting right now. do we really want to depend on the UN to keep iran on the straight and narrow? apparently the IAEA (international atomic energy agency) has found unexplained traces of plutonium and highly enriched uranium traces in a nuclear waste facility in iran. i’m pretty sure the explanation doesn’t involve a delorean and a flux capacitor. it should alarm the international community that the IAEA is depending on iran’s co-operation to determine their intentions.

so where do we go from here? i don’t know, but offering concessions to countries we cannot trust is never the best solution.

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many unhappy returns

short and sweet recap at this point in the game: democrats win the house, senate still undecided, shepard smith is yelling at somebody for some reason.

this was a defeat for republicans, not for conservatism. the american people didn’t give the democrats a mandate for higher taxes, possible impeachment hearings, more moderate judges, amnesty for illegals, or a policy closer to surrender in the war in iraq. they simply believed that the republicans had not met their expectations, so they decided to give the democrats an opportunity to do a better job governing. i just hope that we won’t be sorry that this choice was made.

philip klein:

We will hear a lot of reasons for why Republicans lost this year. We will hear that they lost because of an unpopular war, an unpopular president, a culture of corruption, a traditional anti-incumbent six-year itch and a dispirited base. But one thing is for sure. Republicans did not lose on a platform of limiting the size and scope of government.

Just as this election wasn’t a defeat for conservatism, it wasn’t a victory for liberalism. Democrats intentionally avoided a publicized “Contract With America”-style platform advancing a progressive agenda in favor of making the campaign a referendum on President Bush. The closest thing they had to a platform, “A New Direction for America,” was not a sweeping ideological document, but a laundry list of initiatives such as making college tuition tax-deductible, raising the minimum wage, and negotiating drug prices. Though a Democratic majority will likely roll back President Bush’s tax cuts, they didn’t advertise that in the “fiscal discipline” section of their platform. (It is a testament to how enamored Republicans became with big government that they enabled Democrats to run as the party of fiscal discipline.)

it is what it is. the democrats now control congress. the republicans need to learn that they don’t ever have a blank check from their base to abuse the trust they were given on issues that we care deeply about. i voted for republicans this time, because i thought that the bigger picture (terrorism, iraq) was more important than our concerns about spending and illegal immigration. (i also wasn’t convinced that the democrats would be an improvement in these areas.)

we can’t go to canada. there are few conservative havens in the world. so we need to stay engaged…now more than ever. we can’t give up fighting for what we believe, because the stakes are too high. keep calling. keep writing and emailing your representatives, no matter what their party affliation is. keep your eyes open.

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act locally…

…or the democrats will have won.

why should the nutroots have all the fun? there’s still a battle to be fought on the local level with very worthy candidates. i’ve heard the opposing arguments, and they ring hollow. the stakes are too high to act like spoiled children when we don’t get exactly what we want. why did the conservatives turn out for bush in 2004? was it because of his committment to fiscal discipline? was it because we knew that he would take care of the illegal immigration problem once and for all? of course not. so why are we acting as if someone tricked us? the 2004 election was about iraq, the war on terror, and judicial appointments. those were issues we cared about then. aren’t they still important? the jury’s still out on iraq, but in those other two areas bush has been exactly what we expected. if we put democrats in charge, the whole country will suffer negative consequences, not just those republicans who have stepped off of the reservation. we will reverse programs that ARE working to try to gain an elusive ideological purity that will never be possible in any party. just something to consider.

there are some conservatives still in the republican party. some of them are incumbents running for re-election. some of them are challenging democratic incumbents, which is also an uphill battle. if you are lucky enough to have a conservative representing you in congress who is running for re-election, please don’t sit on the sidelines. do what you can to help them win. all campaigns would appreciate whatever time you can spare, even if it’s only an hour or two. not all of us can donate money, but there are other ways to show our support for those who agree with us on the important issues we are facing in this country.

last night i went to a debate between congressman john spratt (who currently represents south carolina’s district 5) and his conservative republican challenger, local businessman ralph norman. it was great fun to watch. it was also hard to decide who won. the important thing in this debate was that it was a debate about ideas. there were a couple pelosi references and bush references, but i believe that the audience got to hear a clear difference between spratt and norman on policy. i doubt any hearts and minds were changed there, however, since virtually everybody had already decided who they would support before this debate started.

for the record, i have done some unpaid campaign work for norman, and my family has as well. i support ralph norman because he’s the right guy for district 5, not because he’s paying for my endorsement. congressman john spratt is a decent fellow, i’m sure of that, but he has opposed just about everything the people in this district support. for that reason, we should let him get on with the business of retiring after this election. 🙂

you can’t always get what you want
Conservatives Will Regret Putting Dems in Power-tony blankley (RCP)
A Blank Check from America?–thomas sowell (RCP)

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saints and sinners

put away the stones. there are no saints among us, especially in the chattering class of politicians. let’s not pretend that we could even find such a person willing to run for political office today. we know more about those politicians than we want to know, and (may i dare to suggest) more than we need to know. believe it or not, this will not be the first or the last time we elect people with skeletons in their closets. acknowledge the possibility and accept that reality.

let’s start with the premise that there is something about each and every one of us that we don’t want the whole world to know about. we all have dirty laundry that we wouldn’t want to be aired in a public forum. this is even more true of politicians than it is for us. should we care so much about the personal lives of politicians? when does it have any bearing on how well the person would perform in his/her job? i’m not suggesting that when there are obvious ethical violations (like the foley mess, for example), that we need to look the other way and ignore it. i do believe that there’s a serious problem when we are fighting about which politician’s life is less screwed up. leave that garbage to the celebrity gossip columns, and let’s talk about what’s really important to us as a nation. that’s what this election should be about. that’s what the 2008 election should be about.

this election should be about issues, not about personalities. i cringe with each campaign speech mentioning that “san francisco liberal nancy pelosi”, and that our democracy as we know it is DOOMED, DOOMED i tell you…if liberals like her are in control of congress. for the politically engaged, mentions of specific personalities like pelosi may have an effect. for everyone else, they are left with several questions: “ok, so why should we care?” and “who’s nancy pelosi?”

republicans have done an excellent job making the word “liberal” a pejorative term. what they haven’t done successfully is to define what makes liberals dangerous to have in control of congress. that’s where the battle needs to be fought. we need to explain why the other side has the wrong strategy on north korea, iraq, and iran, and that electing them would mean higher taxes and wrong-headed foreign policy.

that should be our focus as we head toward november, because if republicans make the debate about ideas and talk about values, we win.

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why conservatives won’t abandon the GOP

let me say right up front that i am very disappointed with the performance of the republican majority on important areas like spending and illegal immigration. they also could have used their majority to implement needed reforms in programs like social security. they did not. the most stinging indictment i have of the party in power is that they have lost the political will to make tough decisions and fight for policies that are unpopular. they need to be more conscious of doing what is right than doing what is popular with their friends on the Hill. i don’t approve of the way they handled the foley scandal and i think more follow-up was necessary to ensure that foley did not continue contact with those pages. the story of this current congress is missed opportunities. if they retain control, it won’t be because they deserve it.

we are annoyed with republicans for these and other great reasons. is there a viable alternative for fiscal and social conservatives? i don’t believe that there is. if we stay home, here’s the reality that we will have to deal with. if we actually cast votes for democrats, this is what will happen:

  • there will be no spending cuts or tax cuts. there is no reason to believe that democrats will hold the line on spending, and you can kiss any tax cuts goodbye. neither party has the discipline to control spending. i don’t know what would change this.
  • forget any future progress on immigration reform. the republicans haven’t had the political will to do anything substantial on this. we won’t see even token committment to reform under democratic leadership.
  • social conservatives will be even less pleased with the democrats than they are with the republicans. mark foley or no mark foley, the democrats are still the party that generally supports gay marriage and abortion. there is no excuse for how the foley situation was dealt with, as i said, but the democrats have no reason to expect that social conservatives will now embrace the democratic party.
  • we will surrender control of our congress to a party that supports weakening the patriot act, giving increased civil rights and protections to people who want to kill us, and a party that opposes spying on terrorists. in this increasingly scary world, is this the party you want in charge?
  • do we really want the democrats making decisions on judicial appointments? that will be the case if we allow them to regain power.

the republicans haven’t shown that they deserve re-election. the democrats haven’t shown that they deserve power. but conservatives will get much more of what they want by keeping congress in republican hands.

i’m simply going to echo something rush said…if the democrats lose this time, they might as well blow up the party and start over, because the situation has never been more favorable for them.

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absolutes and other unpopular opinions

the problem in this country is not intolerance of diversity. it is the failure to call a spade a spade. it is the failure to accept absolutes. it’s the failure to admit that right and wrong do exist, and that there are lines that have been crossed in this societal free-for-all. not everything is beautiful. not everything should be acceptable. we shouldn’t be afraid to say something if we see something going on that we think is morally wrong.

it’s easy for us to look at guys like former representative mark foley, or barney frank, or some of the other creepy guys previously in congress and condemn them for their behavior. it’s a no-brainer. it’s wrong to abuse your position of authority in this way, whatever the circumstances are. whether it’s with an intern, or a page, or a non-consenting adult, it’s wrong. we should all agree that our representatives, senators, and former presidents have something better to do with their time than scamming on subordinates.

it is harder to admit that we have gone too far in our attempts to be open-minded and tolerant of all kinds of questionable behavior. we don’t want to offend anybody with our beliefs, or make any attempt at all to rock the boat in any way. what are deeply held beliefs worth if they are never expressed? that doesn’t mean hating anyone for a lifestyle choice or a weakness in their personal life. it means caring about someone enough to be honest with them about what you think, even if you know they will disagree with you. it means being willing to lose their friendship if that’s how it turns out.

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both political parties have some explainin’ to do when members of congress face their constituents back home this election year. for the republicans, it’s the excessive, wasteful government spending and their weak committment to dealing with illegal immigration. they also aren’t willing to take unpopular positions and to do what is right for the people they represent. there are too many examples of this.

i believe that most of this can be blamed on the republican leadership, especially senator frist, who has been more than willing to defend the president’s amnesty policy for illegals. i know that in his position, it is hard for him to go against the president of the united states. that’s not a good excuse in this case, however, and when senator frist came here to do a fundraiser, we told him exactly how we felt about this issue. i believe that he got the the message, and the public pressure has forced the changes in policy we are now seeing. is it perfect? not yet. there is still work to do.

for the democrats, they are on the wrong side of quite a few issues. many of them oppose the patriot act, support giving terrorists geneva convention protections and access to american courts, and they also aren’t in favor of spying on suspected terrorists or tracking where their money goes. that’s quite a resume there. many democrats also make very good boogeymen/women…like pelosi, murtha, feingold, harry reid, and john kerry. those are some SCARY democrats, and they haven’t shown that they deserve power either. i’m sure i will hear the argument that not all democrats hold the positions mentioned above. that’s true. it also doesn’t matter because their leadership does hold these positions, and they are the ones controlling the message.

some of my friends on the right are suggesting that all these new republican scandals are conveniently timed to maximize the negative impact it could have on this november’s election. that’s entirely possible. so what? so what if the democrats sat around in a big room somewhere and planned all this? it’s our job to STOP GIVING THEM AMMO to use against us. mark foley made serious mistakes, and he paid the price for them. he did the right thing by resigning. other republicans have made even more serious mistakes, and they have resigned too.

as far as we know, none of these scandals have been made up by the democrats. while the democrats will most definitely use these revelations for political advantage, these things did happen, and those responsible for ethical violations should be held accountable for their behavior. republicans and democrats should expect more of their party and the members of that party representing them in d.c. we have to hold both republicans and democrats to a high standard, and expect them to meet that standard…or they will hear it from us, whether it’s an election year or not.

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why do they hate us?

liberals love to talk about root causes.their pet theory is that there must be a reason why dysfunctional people are the way they are and that it’s never their fault when they do bad things. we must be tolerant and understanding and try to make accommodations for whatever injuries, real or imagined, those people may have suffered. this philosophy creates a society of victims who refuse to take any responsibility for their own life or their own actions.while i don’t deny that life experiences may contribute to bad choices people make, there are still consequences to be faced. this kind of approach may work for your average dysfunctional person, but it’s ineffective in dealing with terrorist scum.

while we are buried in angst over why they hate us, the Islamic extremists are plotting our destruction. those who obsess over the root causes of terrorist hatred are clueless, plain and simple. they believe that if the united states would leave those poor, misguided souls alone, somehow all the terrorists would leave US alone. if you have the opportunity in november to vote against someone with this philosophy, please do it.

there’s no room for negotiation when the people on the other side of the table want to kill you and to kill your allies. how can we possibly give them what they want when what they want is to wipe out entire countries and convert everyone to Islam? it doesn’t matter why they want to wipe out other countries. it doesn’t matter why they want to fly planes into buildings or to blow themselves up. it’s not acceptable or excusable under any circumstances.

we need to stop giving terrorists reasons to question our committment to defeating them. we need to stop making excuses for ruthless killers who behead their hostages with no consideration for what the geneva conventions would have to say about doing that. we also need to ask ourselves why terrorists should get Constitutional protection when they are not citizens of this country, or why the geneva conventions should apply to those who clearly do not follow the rules of engagement.

do we really want to do everything we can to protect this country from another 9/11? it’s easy to look at the actions of senators like john mccain and lindsey graham and most of their democratic colleagues and to have serious doubts about their strategy. the world is watching us. it’s one thing to talk tough. that’s one of our strengths. now our actions have to match our words.