Friday, December 31, 2004

reflections on 2004

With the end of one year and the start of another, I would like to wish every one a happy new year. 2004 has been an interesting year. Republicans solidified their hold on the House, Senate, and the White House. Democrats are reeling as they try to determine what direction their party will take. It's been a good year for conservatives, but it's no time to revel in complacency. That's why we have this blog.

Kris and I came up with the idea for this blog after we decided we need to express our political opinions and outrage. It all started after he read my first entry on my now-defunct blog railing Al Gore for his ridiculous (still ridiculous to this day) remarks about the President.

Many months and words later, this blog has developed into hopefully an insightful and provocative forum of political discourse. We promise to be back in full-swing with the start of 2005. The President and Congress have some very tough issues to tackle, such as Social Security reform, tax reform, and future Supreme Court appointments. And it's not too early year to look ahead to the 2006 midterm electoins. It's going to be a politically-charged year and we hope you're there with us every step of the way.

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Holiday Stuff

Hello Everyone,

I hope that you all are having an excellent holiday season. On behalf of all of the writers here at the blog, I would like to extend our warmest wishes this time of the year. We've had a great year and a tremendous start into this blogging universe. As 2004 ends I cannot help but think how fortunate us on the "right" have been this year with the reelection of President Bush and the increased House and Senate majorities. There is still much work to be done though and don't let this election give you a false sense of security. The upcoming battles are all uphill. But until we get a new Congress and the President is inaugurated please accept our apologies for not being around the blog that much. After a tough campaign season and our various positions around the country we're exhausted. So for the next couple of weeks expect limited activity here as we gear up for the return of the 109th Congress on January 4th. But trust us when we say that we will be back in the new year. Again, I hope everyone's holidays go well and that everyone stays safe as their travels take them to different parts of the country and world.

With Warmest Regards,

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Monday, December 13, 2004

One More Thing...

Okay, I know I said I'd be gone for a while but I just couldn't resist. After reading this article I was reminded of a favorite bumper sticker that an esteemed Professor of Government showed me, "If it weren't for double standards, liberals wouldn't have standards at all." Now, please take this with a grain of salt and don't attack me; after all, I'm just kidding around. But sometimes I guess double standards become so blatant that someone needs to point them out. A Democratic Councilmember in Lancaster, PA (...I think....) has ordered that a local farmers' market merchant take down his picture of President Bush from his booth. When the gentleman politely refused the Councilmember threatened legal consequences for the refusal, citing the fact that our country needs time to heal after this painful election. You know Democrats can be all for free speech (or I'm sorry "freedom of exprssion"), including the dreaded activity of burning flags, but then something like this comes along and suddenly that expression is subordinate to their own political desires. I know that you don't want to be seeing Bush's face after this election, trust me I wouldn't want to see Senator Kerry had he won, but respect that man's right to put the picture up. He is certainly not hurting anyone and underniably exercising that First Amendment right that matters so much to the people of our country.

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More On McCain

You know I've always thought that McCain would start lobbying for 2008 early but this is ridiculous. Just as the dust settles from a campaign in which McCain vigorously supported Bush, it now appears that he's ready to denounce Rumsfeld. Look I'm not a huge fan of the way Rumsfeld has run the war, but who does he think would do a better job? Probably none other than good ol' John McCain himself. Oh well, it's probably just a ploy to distance himself from the Administration. Ah John McCain, how long do you intend to make the lead up to the 2008 campaign? Probably just about as long as John Edwards...that's for another day though.

On a separate note: Don't expect much from me over the next day and a half...too many exams...

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Saturday, December 11, 2004

A Humble Return

My Dear Friends,

Today, I return to this site after several months of service to my country. I am grateful for the continued vigor with which the other bloggers posted in my stead. I am also overwhelmed by the results of the election this November. Republicans everywhere must be celebrating what is a clear electoral mandate for a conservative agenda.

And yet, as the befuddled media try to stammer out some explanation for an election that defied their now thwarted realities, I must remark that they have still got it wrong. According to exit polls, 22 percent of voters chose moral issues as the most important issue upon which they were voting November 2. So what do we hear? "The radical religious right was out in full force. Jerry Fallwell and his cronies showed up to repress minorities and impose their religious values upon the world." It’s a comforting thought for the liberal elite: this was an anomaly; it will pass.

Fortunately, they are incorrect. Despite the great joy that Democrats everywhere felt during the very forgettable 90’s, no Democratic Presidential candidate has won a majority of the popular vote in the past 28 years. Even in 76, Carter only won 50.1%. The Presidency is a responsibility that naturally favors Republicans. Trusted to lead the nation, the President must be able to make tough calls based on what he believes; it is difficult for a party of moral ambiguity to produce a strong and resolute leader. Similarly as Chief defender of the nation, a party that believes in national pride and strong defense surely has an institutional advantage.

Sure, in addition to this, there are issues that motivate voters, and most voters probably do not gravitate to any great extreme. Indeed, the pundits on the right are far too willing to claim a shift in the political ideology of the country. It is a conservative revival, they argue. In the quest for mandate, they are unwilling to face reality any more than their more liberal counterparts.

The country has moved to the left. Just look for a moment to what is in the national political dialogue. There is a serious national debate about whether the United States has the right to defend itself without the consent of other nations. There is a serious national debate about whether our country should recognize a homosexual relationship equally to a marriage. There is a serious national debate over whether nudity during a family sporting event should be allowed on the public airways. Even if we give the benefit of the doubt that these are serious legal or philosophical debates with valid points on either side, it is remarkable that our country, and more specifically common decorum, has evolved enough over the years that these issues actually are issues.

So, as I return to “Defending What is Right in America” I look to my fellow bloggers and to our readers, and I congratulate you all in your role in an important election, but also I implore us all not to abandon the greater cause in the trivial pursuit of any single battle. The trees are all around us, let us not forget why we entered the forest in the first place.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bush says no to tax hike for social security

President Bush made it clear that he would not raise taxes to finance Social Security reform. That pretty much shoots down any support for Sen. Lindsay Graham's (R-S.C.) proposal to raise the limit of the 12.4 percent payroll tax from the current $87,900 limit. Graham's plan is interesting, but it seems like more of an attempt to appease Democrats than anything else. Reaching across the aisle is admirable, but a tax hike is not going to win any votes from the Republicans. It will be interesting to see how the White House sells its approach to reform (as of now, it looks like the US will do some debt restructuring-- Gov. Schwarzenagger of CA is quite familiar and adept with that). It won't make sense to a lot of people and you can bet Democrats are going to sell this as the end times of fiscal solvency, but let's wait and see what the President has up his sleeve.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Intelligence "Reform" Bill

The House of Representatives voted yesterday, 336-75, to pass the so-called intelligence reform bill. While I do agree that our intelligence community needds serious re-evaluation and reform, I do not agree to such a fundamental restructuring of the intelligence agencies and organizations in such a short time-span. Worst of all, the reform bill proposes to consolidate power under a single national intelligence director. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich offered this question, which I think is appropriate to consider: (roughly paraphrasing) if it was human and structural error and negligence that led to the intelligence failure, why would we want to channel that responsibility and burden upon one person?

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So Long Secretary Snow

Not surprisingly there appears to be more shake ups on the horizon in the Bush Administration. A White House source recently commented that John Snow won't be around much longer (no more than a couple of months). Of course the Wall Street Journal already has its list of recommendations out, some of which thoroughly impressed me. I agree with the sentiments of the WSJ that Secretary Snow, while a steadfast Bush ally needs to be doing maybe just a bit more grandstanding in the coming months/years. America's economy while clearly moving in the right direction has many uncertainties left, including a ever-weakening dollar, and the Treasury Secretary needs to be out giving an assuring and knowledgeable voice on where we go from here. Senator Gramm was the WSJ suggestion that impressed me the most, given his lawmaking credentials and his affinity for tax cuts. I've had the pleasure of meeting the Senator and hearing him speak on issues including the economy and each time I was thoroughly floored by his knowledge and expertise (though I guess it's not too difficult for me to be floored in th realm of economics!). I know he's been a bit of a deficit hawk in the past, but let's face it, his knowledge of economics is really unparalleled by most politicians and the fact that he was one of the main proponents for the 2001 tax cuts makes his case even better. We'll see if John Snow does leave, but if he does we could do a lot worse than Senator Gramm for his position.

From today's WSJ: (Just in case you don't have the online subscription)

In addition to expertise, Mr. Bush needs a Treasury Secretary who has the stature to fight the White House tendency to make economic choices for short-term political reasons. We rather doubt that a Bill Simon -- Gerald Ford's Treasury man -- would have lost a fight over steel tariffs the way Mr. O'Neill did. When White House economist Greg Mankiw spoke the truth about "outsourcing" earlier this year, he was all but placed into the witness protection program. And Mr. Snow hasn't helped his stature in the markets by refusing to resist the White House preference for a weak dollar in the name of reducing the trade balance. If he thinks differently, we wish he'd say so...

One exception is Phil Gramm, who can hit to all economic fields. As a former Senator, he knows the ways and wiles of Congress. As a trained economist, he has credentials on policy and finance. We first heard of him 30 years ago when he wrote an op-ed for us on how price controls on oil had created Jimmy Carter's "energy crisis." No one would be better as a salesman for Social Security, which he spent years trying to reform as a Senator. Mr. Gramm has sometimes been too much of a balanced-budget fanatic for our tastes, but then again a voice for spending restraint wouldn't hurt after the past four years.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pearl Harbor Remembered

Well I guess no one every accused the DNC of having class. Today is a day to remember fallen heroes, not play partisan politics.


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Monday, December 06, 2004

why just Ukraine? how about Iraq?

Great commentary from Charles Krauthammer in Friday's Washington Post. Sorry I forgot to blog that on here. The link's above, but read it if you have the chance (free subscription required). I'll let his words speak for themselves; here's an excerpt that really captures the problem between the general European mindset and American neo-conservatism/power realists.

The Europeans essentially believe, to paraphrase Stalin, in democracy on one continent. As for democracy elsewhere, they really could not care less.

They pretend, however, that this opposition to America's odd belief in spreading democracy universally is based not on indifference but on superior wisdom -- the world-weary sagacity of a more ancient and experienced civilization that knows that one cannot bring liberty to barbarians. Meaning, Arabs. And Muslims. And Iraqis.

Hence the Bush-Blair doctrine of bringing some modicum of democracy to the Middle East by establishing one country as a beachhead is ridiculed as naive and messianic. And not just by Europeans but by their "realist" allies here in the United States.

Thus Zbigniew Brzezinski, a fierce opponent of the Bush administration's democracy project in Iraq, writes passionately about the importance of democracy in Ukraine and how, by example, it might have a domino effect, spreading democracy to neighboring Russia. Yet when George Bush and Tony Blair make a similar argument about the salutary effect of establishing a democracy in the Middle East -- and we might indeed have the first truly free election in the Middle East within two months if we persevere -- "realist" critics dismiss it as terminally naive.

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A Republican for Higher Taxes? And NO It's Not McCain...

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) came up with an interesting idea and I haven't quite had time to digest it yet. How much do I worry about Social Security will soon be weighed against how much I hate taxes. Graham's proposal would increase the payroll tax limit of approximately $88,000 to close to $200,000 (the tax rate is 12.4%). The program if enacted would help fund almost completely the transition to partial-privatized Social Security. Of course there's always a catch, and here's where it gets interesting. Workers 54 and younger would have the option of saving approximately 4% of their Social Security payroll tax and placing it into private accounts that would be theirs forever. The increased tax would then apply to those workers who choose not to opt into the new system and decide to stay with Social Security. I guess there's a reasonable argument to be made that staying with the old system, while people should be able to do so, is really staying with a broken invention (it's not smart in the long run). I'm sorry if my explanation doesn't do Senator Graham's proposal justice, but nonetheless it is an extremely interesting idea. Now, if there's one thing I hate it's taxes but these taxes could be proposed as limited (not everyone is subject to them) and unfortunately a necessary evil as Social Security will soon become insolvent. Who knows if this proposal will actually go anywhere; I doubt the Republican-led Congress would ever want to vote on higher taxes. But Bob Novak is right to point out that if Bush is to achieve his primary second-term goal, Social Security reform, he'll need some bipartisan cooperation and we all know how difficult that will be to come by. So I say good luck to the President on a very worthy cause and good luck to the Senator on a proposal that I'm not fully sure of yet.

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More on Thomas

Apparently Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has no love for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In a "Meet the Press" interview this weekend Reid commented that Thomas was an "embarassment to the Supreme Court" and that his "opinions are poorly written." Funny thing is Reid later commented that he would support Scalia's promotion to Chief Justice. While I do think Bush is too smart to nominate Scalia, already in his 70's, to the Court's top spot, this does present an interesting option. If the Senate Minority Leader pushes his support behind Scalia we might not have a fillibuster. Just an interesting thought to ponde; though my money is still behind Thomas!

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Eminem is a Moron

I never particularly like Eminem, but I always did think that he could write clever lyrics. Now he has gone too far. In his video Mosh, which was meant to galvanize young voters through obssesive play on MTV, he, how original, bashes Bush. By the way, Marshall, did it work? Did young people get pissed off enough and listen to you and go out and vote? Uh, no, they decided to stay at home and watch their precious MTV that was telling them how horrible Bush is. In fact only 17% voted, so, in fact you are nothing but a joke and a failure.

You are very immature too. You couldn't beat them at the polls, so you redo your video to have a KKK-like army, yes i said it, the only difference is the hoods are black not white, storm the State of the Union. There you precede to give Dick Cheney a heart-attack. Bravo! You must feel so big right now, you sure got them! The fact is, you are a loser plain and simple. If you were half the man that Dick Cheney was you would die of a heart-attack from the sudden increase in brain size.

I'm also sure that you did your homework on the issues. Oh wait, you took the celebrity route and thought that a simple, as you put it so cleverly and eloquently, "Fuck Bush" would help you sell a few more records. I could kick your ass in a policy debate any day of the week. So next time, if you really want to make a difference how about a little education. Oh sorry, I forgot you need to be able to read to get that, oops.

You can see the asinine video from a link on his website,


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Friday, December 03, 2004

Overblown reaction or righteous disgust with the omnibus?

My apologies for not blogging as often as I should be.

The recent omnibus appropriations featured a provision allowing the chairmen and staffers of the Appropriations Committees in the Senate and House to view Americans' tax returns. Of course this caused a huge ruckus in the media, as certain Congressional members crusaded to denigrate the institution and the appropriations process. While these members are right to lambast just how ridiculous jamming all of our spending provisions into an omnibus bill is, "slipping" in such a provision is, well, pretty darn normal in the budget process. I am more than certain that there are far more ridiculous and wasteful projects inserted into the bill than this.

Read the article I linked about what exactly the controversial provision entailed. You'll find that this measure was blown up out of proportion. And while inserting such language is common in Congress, it's just as common for members of Congress to magnify a particularly minute issue to champion their vaunted crusade to rail against the institution of Congress itself.

In other words, this is politics at its norm.

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Kerik to Head DHS

For a Department and Adminstration that Democrats accused of not funding first responders enough, President Bush chose former NYC Police Chief as the new Secretary to replace Tom Ridge. But in all seriousness I'm not excited or dissappointed by Kerik's selection. I congratulate him and wish him the best at heading the important department; he's more than qualified.

On a separate note, blogging as you've noticed has been slow and will continue to be slow for the next couple weeks. Everyone loves exams and that's what we've all got to deal with. Bear with us and thanks again for reading.

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