The March to War? Syria Update
WorldTribune.com is reporting that:
"the Bush administration has drafted contingency plans for bringing military and economic pressure against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Officials said the administration has determined that diplomacy has failed to resolve U.S. concerns that Syria has been working to destabilize the interim government in Iraq."
The administration maybe laying the ground for a future case against Syria.
Lets look at the key points
1. Saddam's WMD may have gone to Syria before the War
2. Syria may have helped out the terrorists inside Iraq to attack US forces
3. Syria may have Tested WMD in Sudan.
The case is building!
This is an update to This and this post.
Nicole at Potomac Ponderings has more information including a good article from Newsweek
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" -Edmund Burke
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
The March to War? Syria Update
Gratuitous Babe Shot!
This picture comes from Reuters. The caption reads: "A girl displays her home made t-shirts supporting U.S. President George W. Bush at a campaign rally in West Chester, Ohio, September 27, 2004." Incidentally, that rally had over 50,000 people in attendance!
Gob Bless America!
Monday, September 27, 2004
CNN.com - Bush apparently leads Kerry in pre-debate poll - Sep 27, 2004
You have to love this CNN article about the new Gallup poll: Bush apparently leads Kerry in pre-debate poll That is the title of the article! "apparently leads Kerry?" "appears to be leading Democratic Sen. John Kerry among likely voters?" My god, are they trying to soften the blow of this poll! This is funny! But remember, DON"T GET COCKY! This election is not over yet!
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Update to my previous post on Syria testing WMD in Sudan
This story, from Middle East Newsline backs up the claim made by Die Wield last week that Syria used WMD in Sudan:
"WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The U.S. intelligence community has determined that Syria deployed weapons of mass destruction in Sudan's rebel Darfour province.
U.S. officials said the CIA has obtained what it deemed reliable information that Syria used a range of air bombs and perhaps rockets filled chemical and biological weapons in the war in Darfour. They said the BW and CW were used in Sudanese military attacks against African villagers in Darfour.
"The U.S. intelligence community has clear evidence that Syrian weapons and experts arrived several months ago and tested the operational use of a range of biological and chemical weapons in Darfour," an official said. "The results were devastating."
The officials said Syrian BW and CW were deployed in fighting in Darfour in June and July. They said hundreds of people were killed in the attacks, which appeared to mostly comprise of bombs being dropped by parachute from Sudanese Air Force An-24 air transports."
I don not know how reliable Middle East Newsline is, I have never heard of them. But if this is true, I wonder if President Bush is going to drop the WMD bomb in his speech to the UN tomorrow? Can this be the October surprise Early?
Hat tip to Potomac Ponderings for finding this story!
Friday, September 17, 2004
What's Senator Kerry's Problem?
If This poll is to be believed, then Kerry may be in trouble.(Once again, don't GET COCKY!)
Many have pontificated as to why Kerry has slid in the polls since his convention. Was it the Swift boat ads? The Rathergate story? The well run GOP convention? The lack of coverage due to hurricanes?
I believe that none of these are right. The problem is the Kerry campaign itself. The swift boat ads would have had little or no effect if Kerry had addressed the allegations early on and often. Instead, he let the allegations fester and finally when he did address it, it was a rather weak response. I think the American people saw weakness in Kerry by the way he responded. It was not the substance of the ads that hurt Kerry but the weakness and disjointed nature of his reaction that hurt him. The American people are viewing this election through the prism of a post 911 world. The swift boat ad was a test of Kerry to see how he would respond when challenged; he failed the test.
Throughout this general election, Kerry has not given the impression of person in command. More then a person's position on issues, the American people want a CIC to be a person whom they believe to be in charge. Kerry has given the impression of perhaps a nuanced and thoughtful person, but not a decisive leader and commander. The American people do not what a person who would take two weeks to make a statement after an attack on this country. They want a person who will say while the buildings are still burning, that "these people are wanted dead or alive." Kerry has given the impression, by the way he has handled his campaign, that he would be weak in response to an attack, disheveled when challenged, indecisive in his vision while lacking resolve to carry out a long term objective.
Remember that a national campaign is a test to see how a person can command a large number of people to achieve an objective.(its the first and only large scale executive experience that many candidates get) When a campaign is often off message, indecisive in its answers, and late in its responses, the American people may conclude that these characteristics may carry over to the person's presidency, and in a post 911 world many will conclude that decisive and fast is better than indecisive and slow.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
On Monday, the assault weapons ban expired touching off a new round of debates over the limitation of firearms.
The interesting thing about this debate is the fact that the Second Amendment of US constitution has not been incorporated to apply to state action. This means that the second amendment does not apply to state action and the only limitation on state legislation regarding firearms is their own constitution and the state judicial opinions interpreting it. In essence, if a state has interpreted their constitution to mean that individuals do not have a fundamental right to bear arms, or that the state has a compelling interest in limiting firearms, then they can place strict limitations on gun ownership. That being said, why was the Assault weapons ban needed? If a state can take more draconian measures in limiting firearms than can the Federal government, why must the Federal government, constrained by the second Amendment, get involved in limiting these weapons?
There is also another aspect to this debate. In order for states to carry out the provision of the Federal AWB, the Federal Government must provide funding to do so. If not, its consider an un-funded mandate and not enforceable. This leaves the AWB in the realm of federal enforcement, not the state. In essence, it makes a new federal crime the owning, sale or transportation of these weapons. The question remains, why does this need to be a federal crime? I do not have the answer, but the net effect of the AWB lapsing will have a negligible effect on law enforcement since state still have the ability to limit the same weapons that were banned by the AWB.
This is interesting and tragic if true:
"In June of this year Syrian special forces have used chemical weapons against the Black-African population of Darfur. The action in which dozens of people died, occurred in arrangement with the Sudanese government, a conclusion Western Secret Services have reached. This is supported by reports of eyewitnesses which were published in different Arabian media.
Judging from the documents of Western Intelligence services in possession of die WELT, Syrian officers have met representatives of the Sudanese army in May of this year in a suburb of Khartoum. The conversations dealt with the question about how to expand the military collaboration. According to Secret Service information the Syrian delegation has offered Sudan a closer cooperation in the area of chemical warfare. The sources furthermore say that it has been suggested to test the chemical agents on the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Because in May Khartoum was in peace negotiations with the rebels, the Sudanese delegation apparently advised to test the agents on the Black-African population. To do that at least five airplanes of the Syrian civil airline Syrian Arab Airlines were flown from Damascus to Khartoum. Aboard were specialists of the Syrian University for Chemical Warfare including engineering equipment."
This story provides a frightening picture of the war on terror especially when you view it in light of the underreported possibility that Iraq may have shipped WMDs to Syria prior to the war. This is still an unproven allegation, but if true, it WILL have a rippling effect on the War on Terror.
I was one of those people in the camp that believed that Iran might be the next target in the war on Terror. Now, I am moving towards the Idea that Syria may be next. I can see the case now if this allegation is true:
Ladies and gentlemen, Prior to the war of liberation for Iraq, we stated that Saddam had WMDs. Subsequent searches and investigations have turned up no stockpile of WMDs in Iraq. We have since learned through interviews, satellite photography, ground samples, and documents, that the Iraqi government moved its stockpile of WMD to Syria prior to our invasion of Iraq. Further intelligence has revealed that the Syrian government has transported the illegal Iraqi WMDs to Sudan. There, they have used it to help an evil regime carryout its goal of genocide. Both the Sudanese and the Syrian people deserve to live without fear of Baathists dictators using WMDs to control the population. That is why I have ordered the bombing and invasion of Syria.
You can fill in the rest. This is just a thought on how the war on Terror may proceed from this point if this story is true.
Remember this map:
Kudos Rantburg and to Steve for this story!
Welcome all you Vodkapundit readers, and thanks to Steve for the link. If you get time, check out the main page.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
You spin Me round round...
Last night Dan Rather and CBS News responded to the alegation that documents used in his "piece" on the president's National Guard service were fakes.
There are many problems that remain with their story and responce:
1. The Washington Times: reports that "A handwriting expert says the two""A handwriting expert says the two signatures
on purported Texas National Guard memos aired by CBS News this week are not those of President
Bush's squadron commander, as asserted by "60 Minutes."
2. ABCNEWS.com states that:
" Retired Maj. General Hodges, Killian's supervisor at the Grd, tells ABC News that he feels CBS misled him about the documents they uncovered. According to Hodges, CBS told him the documents were "handwritten" and after CBS read him excerpts he said, "well if he wrote them that's what he felt."
" Hodges also said he did not see the documents in the 70's and he cannot authenticate thedocuments or the contents. His personal belief is that the documents have been "computer generated" and are a "fraud".
3.The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugar coat" President Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written.
4. CBS's response did not address the concerns of the late Lt. Col's Son that these appear to be fake Nor did they address the concerns of His Widow that the memos were out of charicter for her husband.
5. CBS's claim that the superscript appears in other documents appears to Fall on its Face also.
6. In addition, the The daughterof Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes, the subject of Dan's interview, states that :
"I love my father very much, but he's doing this for purely political reasons. He is a big Kerry fund-
raiser and he is writing a book also. And [the Bush story] is what he's leading the book off with. ...
He denied this to me in 2000 that he did get Bush out [of Vietnam service]. Now he's saying he did."
7. Finally, they still not have addressed the problems with the memo statedHere a>, Here, and Here
Here is how I see this playing out:
CBS will claim that their "Sources" and their forensic investigators stand by their claim that the documents are authentic. Other News organizations and the blogsphere will parade their experts showing that they are forgeries. We now have a stalemate and it is up to the public to decide which experts to believe, kind of like how a Jury decides whether to believe the plaintiff's expert or the defense's experts in a liability case. The problem is, the issue will soon become muddled with so many opinions that public will not care and a resolution will never come about. I did not expect a CBS admission, even if they are fake, because they loose more from that admission then if they fight it and confuse the issue thereby confusing the public so most people will become bored with the issue and forget about it. The ONLY way this thing will be resolved is by a Criminal investigation.
Year three since War was declared on America
Three years after that sunny Tuesday that stunned a nation, life has continued. Only those who had a personal loss still have the feeling of pain and hurt that the rest of us felt that day. It is Cliché to say that 9/11 changed the course of the Nation because there seems a desire to revert to 9/10 thinking, because on 9/10 we were safe, we did not know that bad men in desolate places were trying to kill us, we were not at war. The realities of life that were so evident on 9/11 have faded into distant memory. Reality has been replaced with partisan finger pointing, blame, and a desire to "fix the problems" that led 911 so we can revert back to 9/10. Its easier to blame ourselves for what happened that terrible day because we know and understand our own shortcomings, our own weaknesses, and our faults, its this self reflection that makes us great. Its much more difficult to contemplate why so few can despise so many and take human life for a hate we can not comprehend.
Though self reflection can be an attribute, it can also be a curse when it is allowed to transform into self indictment. Our nation, unlike others, finds that it is easier to blame ourselves for events that transpire. Perhaps it is the arrogant belief that some have that our government should be infallible and be capable of protecting us from all threats all the time. Perhaps is the faith that evolved over 228 years of relatively few attacks on our country. What ever the answer may be, the fact is that self indictment is not an appropriate response when confronting an evil that does not seek a strategic goal, but rather seeks to end our way of life. While Self reflection examines institutional concerns that may or may not have made it easier for the attacks to have occurred, self indictment seeks to place blame on ourselves for a tragedy and does not address that fact that the people we face would have attacked regardless of bureaucratic policies.
Today should not just be a memorial for those lost on 9/11, but for all those who have died since that opening volley of the century's first great war. The greatest tribute that we can leave for the 3000 people that died 3 years ago, the 1000 soldiers that have died in Iraq, and countless soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines that have died in Afghanistan is a world that is better for their sacrifice. We can leave a freer world, a more democratic world, a more just world. With these goals, victory is assured because free democratic nations do not attack other free democratic nations. When other nations treat their people with dignity, we are safer because people satisfied with their position in their society do not fly airplanes into buildings.
This day represents many things to many different people, a failure of government, a declaration of war, a loss of a loved one. What ever it signifies to you, do not forget that 3000 people died for no other reason than the fact that they lived in this country. It is important realize that the US government did not kill these people, President Bush did not kill these people, President Clinton did not kill these people, Islamic Fascists did. Believing that fault rest in us is easy but it does not provide a long-term solution to the actual problem. We must avoid allure of quick resolution that self indictment creates because it does not provide lasting solutions to the threats we face. We should understand that pursuing a goal of short term satisfaction rather then long term peace could be the greatest disservice that we could do to those that have lost their life since 9/11.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
"That is the sound of inevitability"
An interesting thing is occurring on the Internet today. It appears that Some perceptive Free republic poster(look at post 47) noticed that the "NEW" documents that CBS and the Boston Globe used in their advocacy pieces on Bush's National Guard Service used
" a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman.
In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts.
The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used monospaced fonts."
This suggested that the document were forgeries.
For the most comprehensive rundown on this story look at Power Line, the Blog that Broke this story!
Now, the AP is reporting that the son of the late officer who reportedly wrote the memos questions their authenticity and Stephen Hayes, of the weekly Standard, has had experts looking at the documents and they have determined that they were not made in 1973(these experts are willing to put their names behind their analysis, unlike CBS's)
Finally, Glenn Reynolds has a lot on the story and is reporting that Nightline will be doing a story on the "forgeries" tonight.
I think we are witnessing a coming of age for the Internet. The story itself is interesting, but who has been driving the story may be the most important thing to come out of this whole mess!
DRUDGE is reporting that CBS NEWS executives have launched an internal investigation into whether 60 MINUTES aired fabricated documents!
This is getting interesting!
The lovely Annika is distraught(to say the least) about the circumstance surrounding this mess and Wizbang is calling this "FONTGATE"
The question is what did Terry McCaulife know and when did he know it?
And who said the politics was not a spectator sport!
I love this stuff!
Nice shooting kid, Now DON"T GET COCKY!
Some of the recent polls look good for the president, But ITS STILL WAY TO EARLY TO CELEBRATE!
The ABC news Poll shows President Bush with 52 percent support and Kerry with 43 percent, Ralph Nader 2 percent.
The CBS News Poll Shows Pres. Bush with 48% support and Kerry with 39%(this was registered voters)
I do not put much stock into polls. There are to many variables that can effect the out come. My tinfoil hat side thinks that the Main stream Media polls are trying to make the race appear a shoo-in for Bush so that people who may have some differences with Bush may feel more comfortable voting for a 3rd party out of principle. Its a crazy thought, but giving this election cycle, and the MSM's near advocacy reporting on behalf Kerry, I would not put it past them.
I tend to think the race is closer to what Rasmussen is reporting, rather than the one reported by the Main Stream Media polls. But that's just me.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
If at first you don't succeed, Try, Try, Try, Try again!
You can tell its fall, the leaves on the trees are turning, there is a crisp chill in the air signifying the coming of winter, and the AWOL birds are all over the "main stream Media"
Lets look(AGAIN) at why Bush WAS NOT AWOL. First lets look at what FactCheck.org had to say about it:
"After graduating from Yale in 1968, Bush escaped conscription and possible combat duty in the then-raging Vietnam War by getting into the Texas Air National Guard. During the next four years Bush served the equivalent of 21 months on active duty, according to the Globe account, including more than a year of flight training. The Globe quoted Bush’s flight instructor, retired Col. Maurice H. Udell, as saying "I would rank him in the top 5 percent of pilots I knew.”
The Globe also said:
Those who trained and flew with Bush . . . said he was among the best pilots in the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. In the 22-month period between the end of his flight training and his move to Alabama, Bush logged numerous hours of duty, well above the minimum requirements for so-called "weekend warriors.""
"Bush moved from Houston to Alabama in May of 1972 to take part in the unsuccessful Senate campaign of Republican Winton Blount. Bush was supposed to report for duty at the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery Alabama. But the unit’s commander at the time, retired Gen. William Turnipseed, was quoted by several news organizations as saying he had no recollection of Bush showing up. "I had been in Texas, done my flight training there. If we had had a first lieutenant from Texas, I would have remembered," the Globe quoted him saying.
The Globe quoted Bush as saying through his spokesman Dan Bartlett that he did recall reporting for non-flying duty in Alabama, performing “odds and ends” under supervisors whose names he could not recall."
"The fact is Bush was honorably discharged without ever being officially accused of desertion or being away without official leave."
Next, there are the statements by JOHN "BILL" CALHOUN A former member of the ALABAMA AIR NATIONAL GUARD who attests to the fact that he worked with George Bush in the Alabama National Guard. He states:
"OK, it was either May or June. We had received a call from his commander, asking if he could make his drills with us. My boss there, Colonel Tarmsee (ph) brought him in, told him he was going to be there, and he actually reported in to me. He signed in on each drill. And a drill weekend was two days, a Saturday and Sunday. He would show up at 8:00, like he was supposed to. He signed in. He stayed there all day, and signed out, and he did that both days. And this was up through October, which as best I could remember would have been the last drill, because I know he left to go back to Texas before the election that he was working in."
He went on to say:
"First, there's probably as many people now that come forward and said they saw him there at some point as have come forward and said they didn't see him. I can say I saw him there, and I know he was there. I talked to him. Occasionally we'd eat lunch together. The people that -- I have heard no one say he wasn't there. They just said they didn't see him, which was not unusual, with 200 or 300 people on base and him not being a pilot flying our aircraft, he would not be around our pilots. So that's one thing.
The documentation which I have seen -- and like I said, all this information has come to me in the last three days when the records were released. All I can say is this was normally done with a phone call from a commander to commander to make a drill with another unit. And when -- the paperwork may come later. You may be there two or three months before paperwork, and you may never get any paperwork. But he did -- we did make him sign in, which is what our records required. And these were sent to administration, our pay, and they were supposed to be reported on his unit, because normally, he would not have been paid with us."
Finally, and the most persuasive, is this letter written COL. WILLIAM CAMPENNI. He does a great job explaining what it was like serving in the TANG at that time. Here are some excerpts:
"George Bush and I were lieutenants and pilots in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), Texas Air National Guard (ANG) from 1970 to 1971. We had the same flight and squadron commanders (Maj. William Harris and Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, both now deceased). While we were not part of the same social circle outside the base, we were in the same fraternity of fighter pilots, and proudly"
"If you check the 111th FIS records of 1970-72 and any other ANG squadron, you will find other pilots excused for career obligations and conflicts. The Bush excusal in 1972 was further facilitated by a change in the unit's mission, from an operational fighter squadron to a training squadron with a new airplane, the F-101, which required that more pilots be available for full-time instructor duty rather than part-time traditional reservists with outside employment.
The winding down of the Vietnam War in 1971 provided a flood of exiting active-duty pilots for these instructor jobs, making part-timers like Lt. Bush and me somewhat superfluous. There was a huge glut of pilots in the Air Force in 1972, and with no cockpits available to put them in, many were shoved into nonflying desk jobs. Any pilot could have left the Air Force or the Air Guard with ease after 1972 before his commitment was up because there just wasn't room for all of them anymore."
"Excusals for employment were common then and are now in the Air Guard, as pilots frequently are in career transitions, and most commanders (as I later was) are flexible in letting their charges take care of career affairs until they return or transfer to another unit near their new employment. Sometimes they will transfer temporarily to another unit to keep them on the active list until they can return home. The receiving unit often has little use for a transitory member, especially in a high-skills category like a pilot, because those slots usually are filled and, if not filled, would require extensive conversion training of up to six months, an unlikely option for a temporary hire.
As a commander, I would put such "visitors" in some minor administrative post until they went back home. There even were a few instances when I was unaware that they were on my roster because the paperwork often lagged. Today, I can't even recall their names. If a Lt. Bush came into my unit to "pull drills" for a couple of months, I wouldn't be too involved with him because I would have a lot more important things on my table keeping the unit combat ready."
"First, there is no instance of Lt. Bush disobeying lawful orders in reporting for a physical, as none would be given. Pilots are scheduled for their annual flight physicals in their birth month during that month's weekend drill assembly — the only time the clinic is open. In the Reserves, it is not uncommon to miss this deadline by a month or so for a variety of reasons: The clinic is closed that month for special training; the individual is out of town on civilian business; etc.
If so, the pilot is grounded temporarily until he completes the physical. Also, the formal drug testing program was not instituted by the Air Force until the 1980s and is done randomly by lot, not as a special part of a flight physical, when one easily could abstain from drug use because of its date certain. Blood work is done, but to ensure a healthy pilot, not confront a drug user."
For more information on the AWOL lie, go to HobbsOnline and especially look at the was Bush AWOL section
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Cheap shot!(because Kerry makes it SO EASY)
At a stop at Canonsburg, Pa Kerry said:
"Everybody told me, 'God, if you're coming to Canonsburg, you've got to find time to go to Toy's, and he'll take care of you,'" Mr. Kerry said, dropping the name of a restaurant his motorcade had passed on the way in. "I understand it's my kind of place, because you don't have to - you know, when they give you the menu, I'm always struggling: Ah, what do you want?"
He then went on to say:
"He just gives you what he's got, right?" Mr. Kerry added, continuing steadily off a gangplank of his own making: "And you don't have to worry, it's whatever he's cooked up that day. And I think that's the way it ought to work, for confused people like me who can't make up our minds."
First, and the most obvious, is do we really want a person who has problems deciding what he wants to eat let alone deciding how he stands on the issues of our day to be Commander in Chief of the nation? Nobody has ever accused Kerry of being decisive.
Next, by stating that he is "confused" and can't make up his mind, is he admitting that all the GOP commercials painting him as a flipper are true?
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Yesterday I attended President Bush's first campaign stop after his acceptance of the nomination in Scranton, PA. Here are a few of the pictures I took:
There were many speaker prior to the president taking the stage, here are two:
Congressman Don Sherwood(top) and Senator Rick Santorum(bottom)
Here is a picture of the First Couple entering the stage area(top) and Laura introducing the President(bottom)
Here are two pictures of the President during his speech
Finally, here is a picture of the two leaving the stage. I did not take any pictures of the President shaking hands(upon reflection I should have) I guess I was a little overwhelmed by the fact that I got to shake his hand.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
The Ghost of Jackson!
Glenn Reynolds and others have brought up a good point comparing Zell's speech to THE JACKSONIAN PERSUASION. It then dawned on me, Zell's little encounter with Chris Matthews where he, in essence, challenged him to a duel was not the rantings of a crazy, wild-eyed, old man, but he was just continuing to channel Jackson considering Jackson did have an affinity for the duel himself!
Considering Zell is a student of history and a former History professor, it would not surprise me if Jackson was not only on his mind when he wrote the speech, but also when he delivered it, and it seems in follow-on interviews. So Is Zell saying, the Bush administration heir apparent to the JACKSONIAN PERSUASION?
Great Great TV!
Tonight Zell Miller defended Michelle Malkin's honor by challenging Chris Matthews to a duel! Not really but he did bring up the EXCHANGE(ambush) between Malkin and Matthews that caused a bit of an uproar last week! Mattthews' standard tactics were called into question and he was told to throw down or shut UP.
Perhaps my friend's concerns over the lack of civility in politics are justified......naaaah
I was waiting for this!
Rock," he said, "sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock," he said, "but I'll know about it and I'll be happy."
(Photo taken by Matt at Blogs for Bush
who is blogging at the RNC convention)
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
I was just watching Hardball and Chris Matthews posed the question to the panel "Why is GW going to Scranton PA, its a Democratic town?" One of the panel jokingly responded, it has the most bars per capita in the nation to which Matthews said it is an Irish town! Matthews should know, he spoke at the Graduation of my alma mater, the University of Scranton, last year. Being that Scranton is my hometown, and I am part Irish, I can attest, after much research, that Scranton, in fact does have the most bars per capita in the nation! Then the panel turned serious and answered the question correctly, these are Conservative Democrats, the Bob Casey Democrats, these people are more likely to vote for Bush than for Kerry. After calling about 3000 people in the NE PA region with the Bush Campaign, I can attest to the fact that many democrats in the area are voting for BUSH!
Last night, Laura Bush delivered one of the better political speeches by a spouse in quite some time. She help to shape the image of the president by offering her experiences and intimate details into the workings of the man. The speech was about the President, Not about her.
Contrast that to Teresa Heinz Kerry's address before the DNC. The speech was centered around her experiences not the senator's. The purpose of a spouse's speech before a convention is to humanize the candidate, not to state the first lady's credentials. That is why Laura Bush's speech has received a much more positive initial response than THK!
A Long time, very good, friend of mine, has recently started his own blog. He tends to lean towards the liberal side and has some concerns about the current state of the election and something I recently posted.
First, the post he finds troubling in no way advocates ending the free speech OF ANY GROUP. It simply points out the rank hypocrisy of people who believe they have a right to be heard while at the same time advocating that one media outlet, who does not always report in a manner consistent with their views, should be taken off the air. These same people, wile under the guise of Free speech assault GOP delegates, attack police, and disrupt live TV shows.
Second he seems to believe that politics has degraded to such a state that intelligent discussion in no longer attainable. He states:
"Both sides resorting to personal attacks and misleading half-truths/lies, partisans on either side ending friendships over political differences. "I can't be friends with someone who supports killing babies." "I can't be friends with someone who wants to strip gays of their civil rights." "You guys want to fight pre-emptive wars of convenience and take their oil." "You guys support terrorists and hate freedom." It's just worrisome. Whatever happened to intelligent people having differing opinions?"
I personally have not seen individuals ending friendship over the current political battles. But the fact is, bitter partisan battles have been part of the political culture for the entire history of this nation. Heck, Hamilton and Jefferson use to insult each on a consistent basis under assumed names in weekly papers, Burr and Hamilton took part in a duel, in which Hamilton died, because Hamilton questioned his honor, and Lincoln was often referred to as a back-country monkey. These things are not new and did not signify the end of the nation.
Third, he draws a comparison to the deep political divides that existed over slavery and the current divides that exist over social issues today. He seems to believe that the current nature of politics is the result of the religious right.
" I'm beginning to see parallels to an earlier black-and-white (literally) moral issue: slavery. The individuals in charge became completely polarized - either slavery was a positive good or a horrible evil, each side ignoring the practical and historical issues and difficulties facing the other. Was slavery wrong? Yes. Would ending it immediately have caused an incalculable amount of social, political, and economic upheaval? Yes. Lines were drawn, it became a zero-sum game, and there ended up being no room to manuever and compromise. The country then proceeded to tear itself apart in the Civil War."
He goes on to say:
" I see a similar divide forming on social issues, specifically abortion and gay rights. Is it at the same boiling point, same level of severity? No. Could it rise to that level? I don't know."
The current debate over social issues is argued mainly in the courts. This is most likely the cause of much of the bitter, sometime hostile, political debate. I believe that both sides feel powerless over their respected positions since most of the decisions will be decided not in the great hall of the state legislator, or even the National legislator, but by 9 unlected judges. This brings the campaigns for the presidency and the senate to the forefront since the president nominates and the senate confirms the judges that will decide the nature of our rights. This I feel is the crux of the problem. Hamilton once said "Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike." That is why I believe that If state legislators, directly elected by the people, were able to define, based on what is best for their constituency, what should be the law with respect to abortion or gay marriage, then every group has an equal opportunity to be heard, and their arguments vetted and voted on. History has proven this to be the best possible solution to divisive social issues. The best example is the recent sodomy debate. When State laws banning sodomy were first reviewed in the early 80's, there were 30 or so states that banned it. When the Supreme Court recently reviewed sodomy laws, there were 13. Those 17 or so states struck the laws not by court action but by legislative action. Those states had the debate and resolved in a manner their constituency was conformable with. There were no riots, no break down of civil society, just debate and resolution. When weighty issues are decided by elected officials, bestowed to the people, the results are more palatable then decrees from an often misunderstood branch of government. Since the Supreme court decided the fate of the sodomy laws in the remaining 13 states, the issue has become polarizing and divisive more so then ever.Jefferson exemplified this point best when he said: " It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression...that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary;...working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped."
The fact is, the country is in a transitional period. Every transitions period in our nation's history, be it the Revolutionary War, the battle over slavery, the progressive era, or the discontent of the 60's has been characterized by deep political divides. Out of those dark struggles a better nation has ALWAYS emerged. I tend to believe that the cause or the result of a battle is sometimes not nearly as productive as the struggle itself. Avoiding the battle often leads to pent up frustration and an explosion of deeply rooted individual beliefs. Sometimes a battle is best NOT avoided because it may result in far greater consequences. Change is hard and I would not be so presumptuous as to claim I know where the current transitional period will take us, but if history is road sign to the future, the results will be a better nation.
Finally, my friend has concerns over that fact that he finds himself falling into the bitter partisan trap with things I have written or have said. He comments that:
"there have been times when I've found myself saying, "Wow, we see the world in two completely different ways...and yours scares the living shit out of me. Are you really that short sighted and callous?"
I believe that the weightiest of issues are best decided buy mutual zealous advocacy. That sometimes, what a person is saying, is not nearly as important as the fact that the discussion is occurring.
I must admit that I enjoy the fight, I revel in discussing with people whom differ from my point of view. Having a point of view and the willingness to debate it is the foundation of our great country. The resolution to the debate is not nearly as important the debate itself. My friend cites the Civil War as an example of what happens when strong lines are drawn and compromise is no longer attainable. I disagree, it was not the fact that two strong diverging points of view existed, nor was it the fact the that those who were willing to comprise, like Clay, were no longer leading the political debate that lead to the war. It was the fact that both sides REFUSED to continue the debate. As long as debate continues, no mater how vitriolic, bitter, or uncivil, the hope remains for resolution. When the debate ends, if the issue is not resolved, then there is cause for worry. But then again, I am an optimists!