Thursday, November 1, 2012
Daniel J. Summers
In recent US Presidential elections, legislators typically lose to executives. Going back to 1952, this hasn't always been the case, but since 1976, whenever a legislator has opposed an executive, the executive has won. As clarification, legislators are people who develop and pass laws; listed below is an impressive array of Representatives and Senators. Executives are people who are responsible for enforcing laws and for the direction the organizations they lead take; mayors, governors, and military or business leaders fall into this category. These two jobs are different branches in our government, so a legislator running for President, the chief executive office, is an attempt at branch-hopping. (This isn't wrong - it's just an observation.)
In 1952, Eisenhower, a military leader (executive), defeated Adlai Stevenson II, a former governor - twice.
Kennedy was a legislator, his 1960 opponent was Nixon, whose only executive experience was as Ike's VP, so this was legislator v. legislator.
Kennedy's VP, legislator Johnson, assumed the presidency when Kennedy was assassinated, and defeated legislator Goldwater in 1964.
Nixon then defeated former-mayor-turned-legislator and Johnson VP Humphrey in 1968, and legislator McGovern in 1972.
With Nixon's resignation, legislator-turned-VP Ford lost to executive Carter in 1976.
Executive Reagan defeated executive Carter in 1980, and defeated legislator-turned-Carter-VP Mondale in 1984.
Reagan's VP, George H. W. Bush, does not neatly fit into our categorization. He was a legislator-turned-VP, but he also served as the director of the CIA for the last year of Ford's presidency, an executive position. However he's categorized, he defeated executive Dukakis in 1988.
In 1992, executive Clinton defeated Bush, and he also defeated legislator Dole in 1996.
Legislator-turned-VP Gore lost to executive George W. Bush in 2000, who went on to defeat legislator Kerry in 2004.
2008 brought legislator v. legislator again, with Obama defeating McCain (a rare pairing of legislator for President with executive for VP).
This brings us to 2012, where legislator-turned-President Obama faces a challenge from executive Romney. Of course, presidential political patterns are made to be broken, but they remain interesting just the same. This breakdown doesn't fall neatly into one party or the other; both vacillate between nominating executives and legislators, sometimes choosing legislators over executives in the primary elections.
(And, just a quick note for Joe Biden - if Obama wins a second term, things don't look too good for you. Pure legislators-turned-VP (Ford, Mondale, Gore) have done even more poorly than legislators running for the presidency.)
The Cain Administration filled the role of First Lady 43 years ago
There have been some other “flashes” in the primary season so far, but each of them occurred after the candidate announced. Cain was one of the first declared candidates, and every time he talks, his numbers go up. One of the complaints many of us had in 2008 was that we felt that John McCain was selected by the media rather than elected by the people. “He's electable,” they said, “unlike these other guys…” To an extent, this is the prevailing narrative surrounding Perry and Romney; the former isn't electable, while the latter is.
The media doesn't want to acknowledge Cain, because he causes some problems in their view of the way politics in America works. (If the name wasn't already taken, maybe we'd call them “inconvenient truths”...) Let's take a look at these; rather than liabilities, these are strengths that will not only force conversation on these issues, but areas in which he resonates with the average American.
1. He's black
As a Democrat, this is a plus; as a Republican, this must mean that there's something wrong! (Yet we're the ones who are called racists - go figure.) Republicans have been pilloried as racists (or worse) for not supporting various Democrat candidates over the years - Jesse Jackson, Geraldine Ferraro, Barack Obama - with claims that we didn't support them because they were black or female. Why the “impartial” media amplifies these ridiculous claim is probably a bigger topic than we have time for here, but they are willing accomplices in painting the party of Lincoln as racists. Only in the affirmative-action-addled mind is one's race or gender a plus (if you're a minority) or minus (if you're a white male).
The media simply cannot abide a black man with a broad base of Republican support. I honestly believe that their minds are so steeped in their fantasy view of the world that they can't wrap their minds around this. This is a plus for him; his story of challenge-to-success is both authentic and inspiring. There was great celebration around Obama's election, which proved that racism was over; a week later, we started with the stories about how he was in danger because these racists wouldn't accept a black president. There is no appeasing these race-accusers; refuting their claims via our actions is the only thing that will may silence them.
2. He's successful
This blows up the media narrative as well. He isn't a low-to-medium-performing “diversity” hire (hired solely for his skin color), he has used his own education and work ethic to rise to the top. Through his two turnaround-CEO roles and his leadership of the National Restaurant Association, he has shown that you can get tangible results if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and do some hard work. While our current president was fomenting and organizing rage against the establishment (you do know what a “community organizer” does, right?), Herman Cain was working hard, making his businesses profitable, and stimulating both the national economy and the personal economies of his company's employees.
We should have known what we were in for, starting with the “present” votes in the Senate. Then, on to the ridiculously-named “Office of the President-Elect” (it's called a “transition team”), the job-killing health insurance mandate, two stimulus plans (plus an attempted third in the name of jobs) - I'm hard-pressed to think of a single program that the current administration has attempted that has actually made things better. It's time for a leader with proven results.
3. He's electable
I think that the media doesn't know what that word means. Bob Dole and John McCain? Electable. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush? Unelectable. Yeah, that must be in some AP style guide somewhere, that mandates the opposite use of that word. Maybe it's like with your kids, where they don't seem to hear the words “not” and “don't,” choosing instead to do whatever it is you just prohibited.
This narrative on electability is just laughable. The media cannot see through their bias to understand what the average American actually wants. They want jobs. They want to be successful. They want to see their neighbors successful. They want to be able to make decisions for their family without the interference of a heavy-handed government. This is exactly what Herman Cain brings to the table, and stands in stark contrast to the current administration.
So - if you're expecting the “news” to inform you on Herman Cain, you're going to be waiting a while. If you think I'm off-base, research him and see for yourself. If you agree that the above sounds good, let's get together and work to make sure that Cain's success is so huge that even MSNBC can't ignore it!
UPDATE: Today's Wall Street Journal has an article called “Taking Cain Seriously.” It summarizes Cain's qualifications quite nicely.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Daniel J. Summers
Yes, in 100 days I've gone from “skeptically optimistic” to hoping that 3 terms of Republicans can stem the tide from 4 years of our current administration. For all of the left's making fun of Bush, and VP Biden's history of gaffes, who knew that the current administration would make them look downright composed? It's Amateur Hour at the White House, and our kids get to pay billions of dollars for us to watch!
Economics: F (only because F- isn't technically a grade)
You would think that this would be the current administration's strong spot, seeing that they won the election last year based on the crappy economy (or so they'd have you believe). Yes, the fiscal irresponsibility of the final year of the Bush v2 administration looks miserly compared with this stimporkulus and budgets we're being asked to finance. The graph to the right gives an illustration of the impact of the current budget, compared to budgets under Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2. Just as the New Deal lengthened the Great Depression, these artificial attempts to “fix” the economy are actually doing it more harm. Then they label those who are against it as dangerous - but more on that later.
National Security: D-
This one was not an F due to his quick response to the Somali pirates who had captured the captain of a US ship. Regarding the F/A-22 cutbacks, these were being discussed even in the previous administration, and even so, the “cutback” still result in more airplanes being built and delivered to fill the order. I don't really have a good feeling one way or the other. The F/A-22 has been in work a long time, and had a lot of money already. To throw that away, when we used its predecessor for over 30 years, seems foolish to me. However, with the services merging more and more operations, perhaps it's smart to have a plane that's built to specifications from all interested parties. Time will tell. The release of the CIA memos, though, was a bad move, which I discuss in the next subject below.
And, the release of the CIA memos has made us look even worse. We have people hyperventilating on both sides over whether waterboarding is torture. The ones who do us harm know that they don't have to do anything for a while, because we're doing it to ourselves. What the administration doesn't seem to have thought through is that, though in this country, it may be easy to pin all that on the Bush administration, to the rest of the world, it's still “America” that did it. And, if they know that we don't have the stomach for it (would it really have been that out-of-line to put a caterpillar in a room with a terrorist?), their job is easier. The CIA agents are demoralized, and the enemy is emboldened. Call it what you will - naive, oblivious, amateur hour - it's dangerous, and it's made our country weaker because of it.
And, to those hyperventilating - if you're ever captured by them, you'd better pray that waterboarding is the worst thing they do to you. Because we're humane, we've come up with ways to make people think that they're being tortured, when they're really not. Torture has lifelong implications to your health and mobility; John McCain can't lift his hand above his shoulder - that didn't come from waterboarding.
(Even the decision to stick by the Iraqi withdrawal timetable couldn't raise his grade in this subject.)
I believe I covered Obama's revocation of the Bush executive orders regarding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. (I've bolded the important parts, because I'm sick and tired of the liberal “You're opposed to science!” mantra. No, we're not - we're opposed to the government paying for research that destroys unborn humans, especially when it has shown no signs of finding anything, but other, similar, non-lethal-to-the-donor research has. (And, check out #1 under "Adult Stem Cell Advantages.") What you fund, you get more of - fund more experiments on dead babies, you get more dead babies. I happen to be against dead babies, born or unborn.) When Obama rescinded that executive order, he also rescinded one that allows funding of ethical experiments. A good analysis of what that means is here.
He gets a pat on the back for supporting traditional marriage; however, I think that battle is lost. The demise of marriage came not from non-traditionalists, but from people who decided that a promise of forever can be undone by a piece of paper signed by a judge.
Well, he's got a solid 0.2 GPA headed into day 101 - nowhere to go but up, eh?
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Daniel J. Summers
This is part 2 (either way you read it) in this year's “2008 Year in Review - The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous” series. The bad things are things that either were bad, or will be in the future. All opinions are mine, obviously, and you are welcome to adopt them as your own. :)
Where do I begin? There was not much about this election that I liked. The campaign was way too long. The Republicans nominated the wrong guy. The outcome was bad. I've already covered Sarah Palin's treatment in the “Ridiculous” entry. My biggest problem with this election was how it was spun. It's safe to say that the majority of Obama voters didn't know what they were voting for; how could they, when he wouldn't get any specifics? His campaign of “hope” (who doesn't want to have hope?) and “change” (which would have happened either way) struck me as a focus-group phrase that got way out of control.
Then you have the last few months of the campaign itself. First, there was a hurricane at the same time as the Republican convention, with people saying “How can they have a convention at a time like this?” Next came the “crisis” that had been brewing for years in the sub-prime mortgage market. McCain foolishly decided to suspend his campaign to deal with it, which gave Obama the chance to make the speech where he said “A president has to deal with more than one thing at a time” (which is very, very true). It seemed the Republicans were “darned if they did, darned if they didn't” during this cycle! Personally, I thought that both things should have continued on schedule.
Then, there was “Joe the Plumber,” roundly ridiculed for asking a question that elicited the “spread the wealth around” response from Obama. All of a sudden, we have all these reports popping up. “His name isn't even Joe!” (as if they've never heard of someone who goes by their middle name) “He doesn't even make enough money to have to pay more!” (which didn't matter - he one day wanted to make that much money) “He's not even a licensed plumber!” (but was working towards that - all part of his plan to better his life) In the end, a government worker was dismissed from her job for digging up dirt on Joe using government resources. (Speaking of government, an organization called ACORN submitted thousands of voter registrations, hundreds of which were found to be fraudulent. However, the governments continued to accept these registrations from them, and courts ruled that they could be accepted.)
Regarding the actual outcome, I'd describe myself as skeptically optimistic. Obama's selections for his cabinet haven't been quite what I would like, but I didn't really expect that they would be; however, they're not nearly as left-leaning as he could have made them. He does seem to be actually trying to govern towards the left side of the middle. I can't help but think that maybe he outsmarted everyone in the Chicago political machine, where there's as much corruption as there is snow off the Great Lakes. Could it be that he joined their machine to use it to get to the top, only to jettison it once he got there? We'll see.
RIP, Tim Russert and Tony Snow
People die - that's part of life. However, this year saw the somewhat-unexpected deaths of both Tim Russert, long-time anchor of Meet the Press, and Tony Snow, Fox News anchor and former White House spokesman. Both these men had a gift for journalism, and were not afraid to ask balanced questions of their interview subjects. I remember Tim Russert's expert analysis in both the 2000 and 2004 election seasons, opening the 2000 election coverage saying “Florida, Florida, Florida” and the 2004 coverage with “Ohio, Ohio, Ohio” - both the eventual states that decided the election. And, I remember Tony Snow as the first anchor of Fox News Sunday, as Fox decided to get into the Sunday morning political show alongside Meet the Press on NBC and This Week on ABC. (Am I old if I remember the latter as This Week with David Brinkley?) Tony also did an excellent job as spokesman during Bush's second term, deftly handling the questions he was asked, and clearly expressing the intents and desires of the administration. (If only GWB would communicate that clearly…)
Terrorism Reminds Us that It Isn't Gone Yet
This was a pretty quiet year on the terrorism front - Iraq is going well, the surge seems to have stamped out the final pockets of resistance, and rival factions are now participating in the democratic process. Afghanistan has been hit-or-miss, with a bit of instability still there as this year draws to a close. However, in late November, terrorists struck in Bombay, India, killing over 100 people, citizens of several different nations. This was a stark reminder that the quiet that we have experienced did not happen by chance, and that we need to keep our nose to the grindstone to protect our nation.
Wings of Wind Crash
We've enjoyed the International Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque the past two years. On the final Friday this year, the balloon Wings of Wind crashed into some power lines, catching fire. Both pilots jumped from the balloon, fearing that the fuel tanks would explode. One survived, one did not. It was the second year in a row that there has been a fatality at the Fiesta, but this one touched our family somewhat closely, as Michelle and Jordan had spent Thursday evening set up right by that balloon, and talking with its' pilots and crew. Then, to add insult to injury, a truck belonging to the balloon crew was stolen before they left town, causing them to lose their pictures of that week. (I hope that whoever stole that truck gets some special attention from God over the next year.) Keep the family of Stephen Lachendro, the pilot who perished, and Keith Sproul, the primary pilot and the pilot who survived, in your prayers.
So, there are some of the things that I thought were bad about this past year. What did you think was bad?
Monday, December 29, 2008
Daniel J. Summers
This past year has been one of the most eventful years I can remember in the recent past. Continuing a now 3-year tradition, this is the first of three posts that comprise “2008 Year in Review - The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous.” I post them in reverse order, so that they make sense when reading them in the archives.
So, let's look at that the things that went beyond bad (AKA ridiculous) this past year…
Sarah Palin's Treatment
In August, John McCain announced his running mate - a virtually unknown Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. However, she was not unknown to those of us in conservative circles (even if we thought her name was pronounced PAL-inn instead of PAY-lin). In fact, I still credit Cassy Fiano with being prescient on this - she posted about her way back on June 23rd. We knew her story, her accomplishments, and her attitude. Although this was her first national campaign, she already had a nearly 20-year career in governmental leadership. With the opposing party running someone with 120-some-odd days in a legislative office, one would think that she would be dealt with on her merits.
But, as we all know, that's not how it went down. From day 1, she was called inexperienced. Remember this press release from the Obama campaign, released the day her selection was announced?
Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies - that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same.
And, it didn't stop there. The women who get attention from the media, AKA radical feminists, piled on, calling her everything but a woman. I'm not lumping the Saturday Night Live satires in with this; they spoof everyone, and they invited both McCain and Palin to be on the show (and they both did a great job). Her experience was ridiculed, her wardrobe maligned, her children jeered - and the list at this point is charitable. Rumors swirled that Gov. Palin's special-needs child was actually borne by one of her daughters, fathered by her husband; and the rumor of her daughter Bristol's pregnancy, while proved true, was played to make her look like a backwards hillbilly redneck. It was all truly despicable, which is why it leads this year's list.
Don't Taze Bail Me Out, Bro!
Government interference in the private sector came to a head this year in a bad, bad way. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, entities that helped provide “sub-prime” mortgages (a euphemism for “loans people can't really afford”), were providing these loans the same way they were in the late 1990's, at the crest of the Internet wave. I remember a scare after 9/11, when the housing market really went south - but, we didn't learn from that. Banks continued making loans they had no business making, to people who had no business seeking out such loans to begin with, for real estate that, contrary to the view of some in this country, is not an entitlement.
The bubble burst! (surprise, surprise) With the downturn in the economy (which even Bill Clinton understood - “It's a crisis of confidence”), banks were having to foreclose on these loans to get their money, and people were being evicted from their homes (technically “the bank's houses” at that point). I'm not completely heartless - losing a home stinks; but, the true heartlessness was letting them get it in the first place. Politicians demagogued the issue - how many times did you hear “Owning a home is the American dream!” - and people bought it, literally. With lots of foreclosures and slow sales, this snowballed from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Lehman Brothers and AIG, and soon we heard about impending financial collapse.
Fast-forward to November - the “big three” auto makers say “Hey, we need a bail-out too!” The CEO for GM actually apologized for their making crappy cars (in a manner of speaking). The cause in this case is related in mind-set to the mortgage problem - an entitlement mentality. The United Auto Workers union had strong-armed these companies into providing compensation packages for their employees that, given their sales and profits, were unsustainable. The UAW refused to match packages that are successful for Toyota, Hyundai, and other manufacturers outside of Detroit, and Congress refused to give them money (quite possibly the best thing this current Congress has done). The Bush Administration has opened up money design for financial loans for these companies - we'll have to see how that pans out into 2009; GM and Chrysler took it, Ford did not.
The biggest problem with all this is something I've been saying for years, which was only confirmed when I took my Microeconomics class last year. Government interference in free markets only causes problems. Oppressive regulations suppress innovation, and incentives create bubbles that cannot be sustained. So, in my opinion, the best way out of this is to let the bubble burst, clean up the mess, learn these important lessons, and move on. These packages, whether you call them “stimulus” packages or “bail-outs,” what they really are is rewarding irresponsible behavior, by taking money from those who have been more responsible.
The 2008 Olympics
No, I'm not talking about Michael Phelps' ridiculous display of athleticism. :) This is more for China and its show. The opening ceremony was certainly impressive, to the point of being creepy. Fake fireworks? Isn't this the land known for it's fireworks? Just because communist countries get Olympic games doesn't mean that I have to like it - I remember the USSR games in 1980. But, to watch the coverage of these games, you wouldn't know about China…
...except for their women's gymnastics team. Although the IOC eventually determined that all of their team members were 16 years old, I'm not buying it. However, I'm glad they tried it - it brought their “reality is what we say it is” style of heavy-handed government to the attention of many, many people.
Burma Refuses Aid after Cyclone
In the spring, a horrible cyclone hit Burma (AKA Myanmar), a nation in southwest Asia. Aid workers and aid began to pour in from all over the world, only to be rebuffed by the militaristic governmental dictatorship. Visas were held up or denied for many aid workers, and the government refused to allow aid to go directly to the people; rather, it mandated that all aid be given directly to the government, for it to distribute.
This is absolutely ridiculous. Even when nearly half a million (yes, that's 500,000) of its citizens have lost their lives, the government continues to keep a stranglehold on this country. By not allowing aid into the country, the after-effects of disease brought on by contaminated water only added to the death toll. Even today, the country is still stiff-arming offers for aid, insisting that things are back to normal. I'd rather live through 100 Obama presidencies than live one day under a government like that!
What did you think was ridiculous in 2008? (Just a note - I'll have the 2008 election in the “bad” entry…)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Daniel J. Summers
I haven't been this disgusted with my fellow Americans in 16 years.
For those of you who voted McCain / Palin, congratulations on seeing through the empty platitudes while not overlooking the past of our now President-elect.
PUMAs? Where were you? I'm gonna call you PUMAMAs. You gave up on your principles just so your party would be in power. Luckily, Sarah Palin came and saved your bacon; otherwise, you'd have set women's achievements back nearly a decade.
To blacks who voted for Obama just because he's black - fine, you've had your achievement. Next time, let's drop the identity politics and pay attention to policies, okay? Why you, as a voting bloc, continue to blindly support candidates who placate you during the campaign then keep you suppressed the rest of the time, is beyond me. A sinking tide brings down all ships.
To the media - thanks for nothing. Your objectivity, long in question, is now completely gone. You should hope along with those in talk radio that the Fairness Doctrine is not resurrected, as you're now in jeopardy of falling as far to the left as Rush Limbaugh is on the right.
I'm praying that, for the next four years and two months, each one of the nine Supreme Court justices enjoy the best health of their lives.
And, to my fellow Americans who voted for Obama - I truly hope you get the change you deserve.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Daniel J. Summers
Wow - last night's speech was the best TV I've seen all year. To quote John McCain…
Don't you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States!
Yep - you did. One reason that this allays some of my fears regarding McCain is that this gives us the first indication of the type of person he will choose to help him run his administration. Had he chosen Lieberman, or another one of the names on his “short list,” there would have been little to assure conservatives that his administration would govern and nominate conservatively.
And, just for fun, some memorable moments from the Honorable (notice how few stories use that title?) Sarah Palin's speech…
You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.
Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involved. I guess - I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.
I might add that, in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they're listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening. No, we tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.
While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over-the-top. I put it on eBay. I love to drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor's personal chef, although I got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her.
Our opponents say again and again that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems, as if we didn't know that already. But the fact that drilling, though, won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.
We need American sources of resources. We need American energy brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers.
(After that applause break, I was waiting for her to come back and say “legal American workers” - but alas, it was not to be…)
(speaking of Obama) But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or even a reform, not even in the State Senate. This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word “victory,” except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot ... when that happens, what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet?
America needs more energy; our opponent is against producing it. Victory in Iraq is finally in sight, and he wants to forfeit. Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay; he wants to meet them without preconditions. Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights.
Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election: In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers, and then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change. They are the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners or on self-designed presidential seals.
Harry Reid, the majority of the current do-nothing Senate, he not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee. He said, quote, “I can't stand John McCain.” Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man.
My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery.
For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words. But for a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
Here's part 2 of the 3-part series “2006 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous.” While part 1 dealt with items that are bad on a ridiculous level, there is nothing humorous about these happenings during 2006.
I covered this in depth with my post “Why the Republicans Lost” earlier in the year. Now, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are going to be in control of the legislative branch. While our nation can survive, this does signal the end of many meaningful reforms. Immigration enforcement, strict-constructionist judicial nominees, and meaningful energy reforms are all distant memories. In their place we'll get amnesty for illegal aliens, judicial activists, and economy-crushing minimum wage increases.
The majority of Americans don't seem to understand that the latter is a ploy by union workers, who want raises but are contractually tied to a level above minimum wage. When it goes up, their pay goes up. However, businesses only have money as they collect it from their customers - increased payroll expense will only drive prices higher, at which point the buying power of the new minimum wage is about the same as the buying power of the old. Higher minimum wage levels also reduce the number of entry-level jobs held by students and retirees - I'm really surprised that the same party who panders to seniors and says that everything they want to do is “for the children” is in favor of such a move.
The Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld established that military tribunals could not be used to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This ruling, in effect, gave unlawful combatants official status, and required that they be given access to our justice system. President Bush asked Congress to clarify rules for detainee treatment, leading to what some have dubbed the “Terrorist Bill of Rights.” During debate on this and other bills throughout the year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and others were adamant about adding “no torture” language into bills. Techniques such as water-boarding (where a person feels like they're drowning, but they really aren't), which had been used to extract intelligence that prevented attacks, were now no longer allowed.
This is a trend that I hope and pray does not continue into 2007. We Americans are gracious to our enemies, sometimes to a fault. But, there comes a point when we need to realize that they are our enemies. When they take up arms against us, when they align themselves with organizations that have, as their stated goals, the destruction of our nation - if we capture you, expect to be made to talk.
Eight Marines have been charged with murder and other charges relating to an incident in the Iraqi town of Haditha. These men were part of a patrol in this city, when their patrol was attacked with an IED (improvised explosive device). After the IED went off, they were also receiving hostile fire from both sides of the street. As their training taught them, they laid down suppressive fire to remove the casualties that they had taken, then launched a counter-offensive to kill the insurgents that had inflicted this attack on them.
Once the shooting had stopped, some of the Iraqis in that town began complaining about the counter-offensive, saying that the people who had been killed were innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the attack. These stories were often contradictory, but that didn't matter to the folks here who never miss a chance to broadcast bad news. The link above is very lengthy (and the other information it links are also lengthy), but it is a detailed analysis as to what happened that day, and how it is being prosecuted. Even an embedded CNN reporter does not believe these allegations.
This is disgraceful, and I hope that the court-martial comes out in favor of these dedicated Marines. “War is hell” isn't just a quip - it's reality.
With current concerns over terrorism, and nukes that Russia can't find, two nations hostile to the United States declared their nuclear capabilities this year. North Korea has been testing missiles (although these tests were, by all accounts, an abject failure) and nuclear warheads. Iran claims that their nuclear capability is only to be used for power. Why do I not trust Iran? Let me count the ways… They are the primary supplier of personnel and weapons for the insurgency in Iraq. They teamed up with Syria to support Hezbollah in their attacks on Israel earlier this year. They hosted a holocaust denial conference. And that was all this year!
All nations have a right to defend themselves. However, when these nations have proved themselves hostile to us and friendly to our enemies, we must demand that they pursue their defense using conventional weapons.
That is certainly not all of the bad things that happened this year, but I believe they are some that will have the most enduring impression on our world and our nation. Next up - the good!