Monday, December 17, 2007

The Hillary Playbook and How to Counter It

Because I am a junkie of politics I subscribe to email lists of all persuasions. As such, I found myself on Hillary Clinton's email list. (This started initially when I wrote her an email about the absurdity of her mortgage bailout. Because I needed to put my name and email in my address I found myself on her list) Here is an email I just received from her campaign.

Running for president means asking a lot of people to put their faith in you -- and putting your faith in a lot of people. You've never let me down, and my promise to you has always been this: if you put your faith in me, I will fight for you every day when I'm president.

When I get to the White House, I'll end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. I'll stop the cowboy diplomacy and Bush's war on science. I'll reverse the attacks on our Constitution and civil liberties. I'll ask the Congress to send me everything that Bush vetoed, like stem cell research and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

From day one, I'll be fighting for you, because America needs a clean and decisive break from seven years of George Bush. Not one of the Republican candidates is capable of making that happen. They're all promising four more years of the same failed policies. They see Bush's failure in Iraq and want to continue it. They see failure of leadership on the economy and want to repeat it. They see his assault on civil liberties and the disgraces of Guantanamo and want to carry them on.

Now, since this is meant for Democratic primary voters we can disregard the digs at Bush and look merely at the substance of what Hillary is saying.

She first says this about Iraq...

I'll end the war in Iraq?

My question is immediately when. Here is what Hillary Clinton said in a previous debate about pulling out of Iraq.

"It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting,"

She went on not to commit to pulling out of Iraq before her first term were to end. Thus, while she gives her supporters the impression that she makes pulling out of Iraq a priority, she also doesn't even commit to pulling out of Iraq until after 2013. This dichotomy of positions is so easy to attack that I don't know where to begin. This is of course perfect for any advertisement. Also, depending what she says in any debate, her other position can also be used to bludgeon her.

Then, Hillary points out that Bush has conducted a war on science and mentions stem cell research. Here, like most Bush opponents on this matter, Hillary simply mischaracterizes Bush's position on the matter. Bush is not and never has been against stem cell research. In fact, the Bush administration has been funding stem cell research since 2001.

In a much-anticipated decision on what he called a "complex and difficult issue," President Bush on Thursday night said he would allow federal funding of research using existing stem cell lines.

Bush said there are about 60 existing stem cell lines in various research facilities -- cell lines that have already been derived from human embryos.

The president stopped short of allowing federal funding for research using stem cells derived from frozen embryos, about 100,000 of which exist at fertility labs across the country.

The question for the Bush administration always involved EMBRYONIC stem cells. Clinton doesn't say EMBRYONIC stem cells but rather an all encompassing stem cell research. Bush's position is that he doesn't want the federal government to fund research in which human life is created solely so that it can be destroyed and studied. Since this is a much more difficult position to attack, folks like Clinton try to inaccurately paint Bush as against stem cell research altogether. In this situation, as in any in which someone is not saying something accurate, Hillary needs to be confronted with the truth and see how she deals with it then. First, she must be held accountable for her mischaracterization of Bush's position. She isn't the only one and at this point I am sick of everyone mischaracterizing Bush. If you have to mischaracterize your opponents, then how strong can your position be?

Second, Clinton has to be confronted with this...if she is all right with science creating life solely so that it is destroyed, at what point does she see science as going too far? Is she against cloning for instance? After all, there are a lot of exciting possibilities in cloning? If she has no problem creating life to destroy in the name of science, why would she have a problem with cloning life in the name of science? Where would scientific research stop and morality and ethics start in her administration?

Next, she says that she would end the so called assault on civil liberties and mentions Gitmo by name. Since she doesn't specifiy which assualts, we can only assume that she means things like enhanced interrogations, warrantless wiretaps, military tribunals, and of course Gitmo altogether. Since she finds Gitmo so especially obscene, my first question would be where those prisoners would go. Most of their home countries don't want them. Does she plan on trying them in our own federal system? Does she understand that terrorists routinely kill the friends and families of those that they see as turning against them? Does she understand that any witnesses against any terrorist in any open court would immediately have their lives threatened? Given that, how exactly does she expect any terrorist to be convicted in any federal court?

As for enhanced interrogations and warrantless wiretapping, this creates another opportunity to paint Hillary as weak on national defense. First, I have always found the entire debate about warrantless wiretapping to be quite absurd. I don't know any other time in the history of warfare in which the President needed a judge's permission to spy on the enemy. Thus, proclaiming that the Commander in Chief is destroying civil liberties because he is spying on the enemy without a judge's permission is to me absurd. On a political level, it can be painted, rightfully so, as weak on national defense. Most of the Republican candidates have, rightly so, not identified what techniques they will and won't allow because then you are telegraphing that to the enemy. By coming out against Bush, as she has, Clinton has in fact told the enemy what she won't use. Because she sees anything outside basic police interrogation protocol as an erosion of civil rights, the enemy can prepare for the basic interrogation techniques that she will allow. This gives Republicans yet another chance to paint her as weak on national defense.

Now, anyone of us that knows Hillary knows that this is only scratching the surface as far as attacks on her, however since she has chosen to highlight these things to her supporters we can assume that these are her priorities, and this is how these priorities ought to be countered.

Boiler Room - Telemarketing Scene

Passing Along Some Vital Information on Illegal Immigration

I received this email from Numbers USA over the weekend.

Without explanation, Congress has stripped away $3 billion in desperately needed funds to build the Border Fence that it approved last year and to provide for other border security.

That's right—without telling the public, Congress is pulling the plug on the U.S.-Mexico Border Fence that it voted for with such enthusiasm last year (just before they asked voters to re-elect them).

Help us turn this petition into a national overnight phenomenon. Time is critical—Congress will finalize this funding question before Christmas!

Now, it is important to emphasize again, as Numbers points out, that the fence and its funding was voted on late in the session in 2006. At last check, about eleven miles out of thousands had actually been built.

The fence has become a sort of cause celebe for opponents of tough measures against illegal immigration. Their rallying cry comes in this statement from Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona.

You show me a 50-foot wall and I'll show you a 51-foot ladder at the border. That's the way the border works

That sort of statement is what I refer to as a strawman arguement. No one is claiming that the border fence will keep out everyone that tries to come in. It will however keep out a lot of them, and that is the point of anti illegal immigration legislation. Everytime I hear this statement, I always point out that a Mexican migrant is going to look awfully funny walking around the desert with a fifty one foot ladder. There is no one hundred percent full proof way of keeping illegals out. If we put together a human wall, someone might ride in in a tank. That doesn't mean that methods aren't effective even if some smart person has figured out a way to theoretically get around them.

The border fence near San Diego is proof that the fence works.

Before the fence was built, all that separated that stretch of Mexico from California was a single strand of cable that demarcated the international border.

Back then, Border Patrol agent Jim Henry says he was overwhelmed by the stream of immigrants who crossed into the United States illegally just in that sector.

"It was an area that was out of control," Henry says. "There were over 100,000 aliens crossing through this area a year."

Today, Henry is assistant chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector. He says apprehensions here are down 95 percent, from 100,000 a year to 5,000 a year, largely because the single strand of cable marking the border was replaced by double -- and in some places, triple -- fencing.

Both houses of Congress voted on and approved this fence and the President signed it. If laws aren't followed through on, then our government is nothing more than a banana republic. This is unacceptable and I hope everyone rises up and demands that Congress follow through on what they started.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The warriors - come out and play

Is There a War on Christmas?

That was the question asked by the Chicago Sun Times in their editorials section. Andrea Sarvady argued that there is no war. Like most secular progressives, she made Bill O'Reilly the issue in her arguement that so called war on Christmas is overblown.

It's the "war" Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly and his "cultural
warriors" battle every December, trying to save Christmas. Frothing at the mouth for hours of air time, O'Reilly extrapolates from various church vs. state skirmishes and politically correct marketing efforts that there is a national conspiracy to eradicate Christmas.

It's ironic, because what this avowed patriot is actually railing against
couldn't be more American: the First Amendment.

Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, explains the guiding principle -- simply, to "treat people of all faiths or none with fairness and respect." Therefore, holiday programs "shouldn't make any students feel excluded or identified with a religion not their own." Religious music shouldn't dominate a choral program, but can be included. Public seasonal displays should contain both secular and religious elements.

This is a peculiar perspective for several reasons. It starts with her peculiar interpretation of the first amendment. Here is the text from the Constitution...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Now, I must have missed the part where it is against the first amendment to make someone feel uncomfortable. Second, Christmas is a federal holiday. Now, Ms. Sarvady would apparently have us celebrate this FEDERAL holiday without any mention of it anywhere in public. Third, O'Reilly isn't against displaying religious symbols from all the holidays of the season. He just feels as though Christmas shouldn't be singled out and not displayed. Here is how he put it.

The usual Christmas deniers are appalled the ACLU is not going to sue anybody this year. And that's because they lose almost every time they drag Christmas into court. And even those pinheads are tired of wasting money.

In Wisconsin, the state assembly has voted to restore the name of the
"Christmas tree" to the "Christmas tree". That's because they changed it to the "holiday tree". On Capitol Hill, the House voted yesterday 372 to 9 to recognize the "importance of the Christmas tradition and to condemn bigotry against Christians." And those who voted against that Ackerman and Clarke of New York, DeGette of Colorado, Hastings of Florida, McDermott of Washington state, Scott of Virginia, Lee, Woolsey, Stark of California.

So all over the country, the sights and signs of Christmas are on display. Few department stores are telling employees not to say a "Merry Christmas." And the Taliban like oppression of the holiday has largely ceased, but the SPs are not happy about that.

Sarvady's arguement totally falls apart for me with these next two points...

Some school and city officials choose to excise the holidays completely in order to avoid offense. Haynes, a consultant to school districts, feels that year-round education on various religions is a more effective way to mitigate the "December Dilemma."

Though well-versed on all sides of the issue, he still doesn't understand the attack on more all-encompassing greetings like "Happy Holidays," saying: "People who use that expression are just trying to be kind."


One of the more insidious aspects of this trumped-up "war" is an eagerness to blame everything on what Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council calls "overzealous secularist officials." Clever. Pretend the separation of church and state matters only to secular leftists and the rabid right won't sound like they're trying to propagate a religious crusade.

Isn't it amazing how someone supposedly stands up for the first amendment in one breathe and then finds nothing wrong with schools taking away everyone's ability to express their religious beliefs in the other? How exactly is this in keeping with either the letter or the spirit of the first amendment?

Some school and city officials choose to excise the holidays completely in order to avoid offense...

I guess in the world of Ms. Sarvady taking away every religion's right to express itself is protecting the first amendment. Like I said, I didn't know that offending someone was a violation of the first amendment. Then Sarvady uses this strawman arguement.

Pretend the separation of church and state matters only to secular leftists and the rabid right won't sound like they're trying to propagate a religious crusade.

What's clever is pretending as though the separation of church and state is anywhere in the Constitution. The phrase the separation of church and state is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. In fact, it was first used in a letter by Thomas Jefferson

The phrase "separation of church and state" is derived from a letter
written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a group identifying themselves as the Danbury Baptists. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Jefferson writes:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." [7]

This so called wall is not and never has meant to be to stop any and all religious expressions in the public square. The first amendment is supposed to keep Congress from favoring one religion over another. Now, some might argue that making Christmas a federal holiday violates that principle, however that is found nowhere in Sarvady's arguement. Since she knows that removing Christmas as a federal holiday is frankly a non starter, she makes all of these other arguements. Arguements that only make sense in the alter universe of the secular progressive.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Crisis in California

That seems to be the word all around the internet. The buzz is rolling in from all over the place.

Arnold Schwarzenegger will declare a fiscal state of emergency in California after badly miscalculating the deficit condition in the Golden State. Last August, he predicted that the state would have a $4.1 billion reserve at the end of this fiscal year, but a legislative analyst predicted in November that California would have a $10 billion deficit. Schwarzenegger now says it's even worse than that:

Here is another view.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January to reduce an anticipated $14 billion budget deficit, pressuring lawmakers to fast-track spending cuts and other solutions. The Republican governor has signaled that he wants to cut spending across the board in state programs, while Democratic leaders have said that both spending reductions and tax increases need to be considered...

Let's get a sampling of California bloggers... First, here is a self described "progressive"

Well, this puts a damper on our ever-so-sunny outlook in Sacramento.
Spending will likely be slashed, but when are we going to address the real problem? We can't keep going on this boom/bust budget roller coaster that we are riding. Maybe we can appoint John Laird as our fiscal administrator. Trust me, things would be way better than they are now. Laird for Fiscal Overlord '08!

Conservatives in Calis blogging world are no less happy...

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger is about to declare a fiscal emergency thanks to a complete mishandling of the budget by he and the legislature: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January to give him and the Legislature more power to deal with the [...]

Hard to spin this as anything but a problem from the Governor, but stay tuned...

40 Year Old Virgin Sex Ed Scene