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.
Foreign Affairs: F
How many ways are there to mess this up? Maybe we should bow to another head of state. Maybe we should give the Queen of England an iPod with your speeches? How about giving 25 Region 1 DVDs to someone who can only legally play DVDs from Region 2? Maybe we could use the term “England” to tick off a good portion of one of our strongest allies. And these are the people who made fun of Bush? Maybe they should've left some folks from the White House Protocol Office on staff to train the new folks. I know that it was Kerry's slogan and not Obama's, but isn't this the party that wants to make us “respected around the world”? Ignoring years of tradition and protocol is not the way to make that happen.
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.)
Domestic Affairs: F
Janet Napolitano is a joke. "Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there." "Crossing the border is not a crime…." Tax Day Tea Party protesters are dangerous right-wing extremists, and they could easily recruit returning combat veterans. I don't feel that our homeland is very secure - I feel that this department is now being run as a playground for political paybacks. Then there's Hilda Solis, the Labor Secretary confirmed because the Republicans just got tired of fighting. I saw one interview on TV where she must've claimed “but we've only been here 5 weeks” about 7 different times. That's not the way a leader talks. An amateur hour two-fer.
Social Affairs: F
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?
Thursday, November 9, 2006
Daniel J. Summers
A friend asked me today, “Why do you think the Republicans lost?” It's a good question; one I'm sure will be asked in many strategy sessions across the country. I have my theories - and they are as follows:
The Republicans abandoned the principles for which they had been elected.
Campaigning on a platform of smaller government, a balanced budget, and more accountability, Republicans swept into power in 1994. Each of the 10 planks of their Contract for America were brought up for a vote, and many passed. Through the years, though, the '94 freshmen have lost their zeal; and, in many cases, have gone the other way.
Although there is a segment of the population known as “values voters,” values are important to most voters - people vote for folks who they feel share their values. The class of '94 were elected based on these values - and, as they have drifted towards the center, they have alienated the base who elected them. The middle of the road is where they've moved - and often, this is where you find roadkill. If folks wanted people to govern by polls, they would vote for Democrats. When folks vote for Republicans, they expect people who will stand by their principles. This is a good segue to the next point…
Republicans have participated in the very corruption they decry in the Democrats.
Jack Abramoff. Mark Foley. These are names that, until recently, we hadn't heard. And, in both cases, they were people involved in activities that no one has any business involved in. Jack Abramoff was connected to people of both parties - but this association only seemed to hurt Republicans. This goes back to the principle thing - when you elect people who you know have no principles, then expectations are low. However, when you elect someone who claims to share your principles, and is found to be corrupt, there is a valid charge of hypocrisy. The problems in the Republican party are, I believe, nowhere close to the “culture of corruption” that the Democrats have been trying to spin. However, even one corrupt Congress-critter is one too many.
I hope that this will open the eyes of some Republicans who may be considering doing things that would cause shame to the party if they were revealed. It is noble to be someone who cleans up corruption - we need more of those sorts of people. But years of good can be erased by one hypocritical action, which causes observers to question the previous successes, and make assumptions about the group as a whole.
Republicans acted like they were afraid of success.
President Bush won in 2000 - every recount has borne that out. The Senate was split 50-50, which meant that Vice-President Cheney held the tie-breaking vote, which meant that the Senate was in Republican control. Rather than assert that power, they agreed to a ludicrous “power-sharing” agreement with the Democrats - joint chairmanships, etc. Later in 2001, "Jumpin'" Jim Jeffords changed from a Republican to an Independent, which actually changed the control of the Senate.
In 2002, this trend reversed, and the Senate was once again in Republican control. But, numerous judicial nominees were held up in committee, or filibustered on the floor. Republicans had the majority, but they would not flex that muscle to get things accomplished. We're still several judges short in the Federal system; and through these filibusters, the reputations of some of the smartest jurists of our time have been sullied.
When President Bush won re-election in 2004, along with keeping a Republican House and Senate, we heard about all this “political capital” that he now had, and how all these policy initiatives were going to get through. What we got was a half-way done Medicare prescription drug benefit, and no meaningful Social Security reform at all. We also got a limp noodle response to border security, port security, and endless rhetoric about the war in Iraq.
I hope that the Republicans will watch how the Democrats run the House and (likely, as of the time I'm writing this) the Senate over the next two years. They need some lessons on how to govern when you have the majority.
Republicans allowed the Democrats and the mainstream media to frame the debate.
In a debate, there are underlying assumptions. Many times, the one who controls these will make them more favorable to their position. It's not an underhanded thing; everyone does it, and it's often the most contested part of a debate. If you can't agree on the problem, how can you agree on a solution? In this election cycle, nearly every issue was framed from the Democrat point of view.
The biggest way to combat this is with education. This was illustrated in vivid detail by the Amendment 2 debate in Missouri. Michael J. Fox recorded ads supporting the Democratic candidate (now Senator-elect), and the state Constitutional amendment. To hear him spin it, if you vote yes for amendment 2, people with Parkinson's disease will be healed! In actuality, the amendment was actually a right to human cloning.
And, even the issue of stem cell research isn't debated honestly. It is not illegal to perform embryonic stem cell research today. The issue is over who pays for that research - these researchers want the taxpayers to pick up the tab for their work. And, while embryonic stem cells have yet to show any promise, adult stem cells and cord blood stem cells have - and these can be obtained without the destruction of their donor human life. It' education like this that would make these issues lose their resonance with voters. The key is to educate the electorate on each of these issues - not “I'm for it, he's against it”, but real, substantive education on why the view held by the more educated one is the one to hold.
I'm mad. While this 6th-year election is not as bad as others over the past 50 years, it's still bad. And, the most frustrating thing is that these losses were preventable! Had the Republicans stuck to their beliefs, governed with the mandate they had been given, educated the voters, and kept their noses clean, we would probably be talking about 30-seat gains for the party. Instead, what chance they had to do what the people had elected them to do is gone.
One of the sentiments that was heard was that Republicans needed to be taught a lesson. When Republican control is restored in 2008, I hope that they will have taken good notes over the past 2 years, and will be ready to do what we the people want them to do.