28 February 2008

Global Warming Hoax Or Not . . .

OK, I get it.

  • The debate isn't "over" with over 400 prominent scientist recently questioning the validity global warming.

  • Al Gore's film is filled with misinformation.

  • The latest satellite data is actually showing record ice in the Arctic.

  • Satan doesn't tempt us to buy bottled water just so we increase waste.

  • Drilling in Alaska won't destroy the entire state and would help their economy.

  • One volcanic eruption produces more greenhouse gas then every car on the planet.

  • Warmer climates are not about to strike, bringing tidal waves and giant snakes.

  • Water doesn't disappear forever.

  • Failing to recycle won't cause machines to rise against their makers.

I get it. I just don't care.

For me, conservation and environmentalism is not about global warming or impending planetary destruction. It's just that I would rather live in a clean, green place than a dirty one. I'd rather not smell exhaust everywhere I go. I want my kids to see the same Alaska that my dad saw. I think alternative fuels would be a great thing for so many reasons. I don't find factories belching smoke very attractive. I like to drink clean water. I'll take my steak medium rare -- hold the hormones.

Does environmental stewardship of the planet have to revolve around cataclysm scenarios? How about taking care of the planet just because it'd be a nicer place to live.

McCain vs.Obama (al Qaeda in Iraq)

Talking heads and bloggers have been tittering like Tinkerbell at a Wendy sighting over McCain and Obama's recent exchange concerning Iraq. It started when Obama responded to a debate question about the President's right to go back into Iraq after removing troops . Obama replied, "If al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad."

McCain caught the comment and delivered his response from Texas. "I understand that Senator Obama said that if al Qaeda established a base in Iraq that he would send troops back in militarily. I have some news. Al Qaeda already has a base in Iraq. It's called al Qaeda in Iraq."

In Ohio, Obama shot back, "Well first of all, I do know that al Qaeda is in Iraq. That's why I've said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets. But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq."

While this was a fun little exchange, what I've enjoyed the most is the reaction that I have seen in the press and on the web, particularly from a host of fellow moderates and liberals, claiming some sort of verbal victory for Obama. Didn't they notice that the Illinois Senator never addressed the issue that McCain was pushing to the fore? Didn't they wonder why the candidate who claims to be about the future scurried to the past to deftly deflect defending his position on Iraq?

Here is what we now know about Senator Obama's rice paper logic concerning Iraq.

  1. One of his primary promises of the campaign is that he will bring the troops home.

  2. He recognizes that al Qaeda in Iraq would be a bad thing. So bad, we might need troops there.

  3. He admits that al Qaeda is already in Iraq.

So, Senator, the troops . . . do they stay or do they go? We all know that neither you nor John McCain were calling the shots to send them there, but that's irrelevant now. The troops are there. Al Qaeda is there. What would you do as President? Can we have an answer Mr. Obama?

Barack Obama is certainly engaging, but the way his answers to fundamental questions twirl and spin, corkscrew and pitch into conflicting quips and sense-free soundbites have me wondering who is coaching the guy on foreign policy, Barnum or Bailey?

27 February 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008)

Rest With God

"There is an inverse relationship between reliance on the state and self-reliance."

"I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

"I would like to electrocute everyone who uses the word "fair" in connection with income tax policies"

"Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views."

"Back in the thirties we were told we must collectivize the nation because the people were so poor. Now we are told we must collectivize the nation because the people are so rich."

"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said."

"I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it and one is the feeling that I haven't just been sitting on my ass all afternoon."

"We are so concerned to flatter the majority that we lose sight of how very often it is necessary, in order to preserve freedom for the minority, let alone for the individual, to face that majority down."

25 February 2008

Compassionate / Christian / Carnivore

A few years ago my father-in-law recommended Robin Cook’s Toxin. After reading the novel’s horrific tale of animal cruelty and processing of diseased beef, I was unable to eat meat for a full four hours . . . which is saying something for me. The recent images of Hallmark Meat Company workers abusing cattle brought a sobering reality to Cook’s book. It’s difficult to watch the video footage without second-guessing the merits of being a carnivore. I love tasty meat, but who could stomach that?

I just read an article by one of my favorite theologians, Greg Boyd. While I have not taken the step of becoming a vegetarian, he has a powerful take on the Christian's call to response concerning abuse in the factory farm industry. Check it out here.

Vote Barack Huckabee in 2008

My seven-year-old son has decided to endorse Barack Huckabee for President. His older brother employed nine-year-old wisdom to explain that there is no such person, but I’m not so sure about that. Perhaps the younger boy’s connection between the two comes from that otherworldly insight we often get from children.

I will not be the first to point out a similarity between Obama and Huckabee, but I find the point worrisome enough that regurgitating the thoughts of others is worth the Clintons accusing me a plagiarism. Of course, I’m not suggesting that their politics are all that similar -- Obama has been rated the most liberal Senator in America while Huckabee is so conservative that he probably hates NASCAR because of all those left turns. What I and a host of internet voices are talking about is the cult of personality.

Nothing can get the blood pumping like a pulpit pounding politician. And when their speeches seem to take on spiritual significance even a hardened heart may skip a beat. It’s not about substance. It’s not about understanding. It’s about belief through belonging. Both men have attracted a loyal following of folk who want to be a part of something they hope is significant. In fact, “hope” is the operative word as it draws the discontented to demagogues. Granted, Obama has attracted larger numbers of the discontented, but he has also out spent every other candidate while Huckabee’s folk are holed up in shabby rent-a-dump campaign fronts (sans Che Guevara posters). But money is irrelevant when there is hope. As long as they follow that powerful personality and belong to something perceived as greater than themselves, they can believe. They can hope.

There have been great people who have provided hope through both charisma and content of action -- Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., The Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Teddy Roosevelt . . . the list could go on. But I don’t think that we are seeing that today. And I’m afraid that there are many who can not or will not see the difference.

As for my son, he has made his decision. He is for Barack Huckabee and I can’t find fault with his choice. It certainly brings him a sense of hope and belonging and demonstrates the same level of political acumen and maturity that I’m hearing from many of those actually registered to vote. And now that he’s made his decision, where does he send that .25 cent campaign contribution?

23 February 2008

Should Huckabee be?

Should Mike Huckabee drop out of the race? It's the second most frequently asked question at Republican gatherings (the first, of course, is: "How old are these bagels?") My answer is a resounding NO! (As for the bagels, it's best that you don't ask).

We all know that Iron Mike's chance of gaining the nomination is roughly equivalent to Keanu Reeves giving an acceptance speech at the Oscars, but that doesn't mean he couldn't play an important role that might have an impact next November. First of all, his campaign presence keeps McCain in the news after every primary. A winner needs somebody to defeat. If you took away the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters' "hidden ball trick" would just seem sort of silly . . . or at least sillier. Secondly, Huckabee's identification as the conservative candidate contrasts nicely with McCain as the moderate maverick, which should make the Arizona Senator more appealing to independent voters when the general election rolls around. As long the Campaign ads stay positive, the Republican race that isn't a race should prove more benefit than hindrance to the victor.

So stay in the race as long as you can, Mike. Be there for the troops. Be there for a new Republican party. Be there for Keanu Reeves. Just be.

To Cross The Aisle With John McCain

I always thought that I had a pretty good sense of direction. It's in my blood. After all, my Viking ancestors crossed the ocean in rowboats and somehow found the Vinland they sought on crisp Canadian shores. But apparently my Scandinavian senses are underdeveloped . . . which explains why I miss the melodic mark whenever I belt out Varjojen Virta on a Ram's Horn. You see, some time during the past few years some heavy hitters in the GOP changed direction and, unlike Leif Erikson, I'm still paddling around trying to figure out what happened.

It was only 8 years ago (that's 56 years to any clever blogging Border Collies reading this post) when I heard my friends on talk radio promise an end to the divisive politics that sustained the Clinton White House. And while I hadn't supported Dubya during the primaries, I believed that he could reach across the aisle and get things done. He had strong bloodlines, he was a man of action, and he had that endearing thing that he does to the English language. What's not to love? Then there was the way he corralled both Republicans and Democrats while he was Governor of Texas. If he could get those self-determined Cowboys and girls working together, how hard would it be for him to reach across the aisle in Washington after 8 years of Clinton conflict?

We all know now that, beyond the wake of 9/11, Bush failed to deliver the unity promised by his "compassionate conservatism." We all accept that. We all move on.

What troubles me now is the reaction from ultra-conservatives to the fact that John McCain actually has reached across to "the enemy." Some of the same people who touted Dubya's ability to unify now criticize the fact that McCain has actually done it. He's considered a traitor to the cause because of McCain-Kennedy, as if he didn't wash his hands afterward. His participation in the bipartisan Gang of Fourteen is thought more shocking than Tony dancing with Maria in West Side Story. Come on, John! When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dyin’ day.

I obviously missed the turn so somebody tell me, when did finding common ground become so distasteful to us? Of the three remaining Presidential frontrunners (McCain, Clinton and Obama . . . sorry, Mike) only John McCain has a chance to break down some of the walls of Washington. Only McCain has the moderate appeal and collegial respect to successfully cross the aisle when necessary. Is that really such a bad thing?

21 February 2008

Ode to the New York Times . . . John McCain . . . and Rush Limbaugh

Confess, I must, to Limbaugh
I do not send support
Acerbic wit and rants aside
The facts he can distort
But when ideal conservative
Is accurate and true
I do not hesitate my voice
To send this man his due

He told us liberal media
Would turn on John McCain
The moment young Republicans
Began to call his name
The New York Times came forth today
To prove that Rush was right
And publish news from years ago
As if it were last night

"The sources are impeccable"
At least that's what they claimed
But now we know it's just two men
Disgruntled and unnamed
The implication was, of course
That John had strayed from Cindy
And taken money he had scorned
With voice both loud and windy

A closer look reveals to us
The story is but hollow
With quotes and hints and dirty stints
Impossible to follow
The question we must ask The Times
Is what inspires such rage
To take a thinly sourced op ed
And print it there -- Front Page

18 February 2008

Susan Sarandon Catches Obamamania

If you ever watch Tavis Smiley’s show on PBS you may have caught Susan Sarandon explaining why she is supporting Barack Obama now that John Edwards is out of the race:

“. . . I'm going to back Obama." Said Sarandon. "But I hope -- I think that he, as a symbol, has really excited people, and he's definitely confusing to everyone who really hates America for hating Muslims because a name like Obama and a black man, they're probably going to go "Oh, wait a minute -- What?" It's kind of like when you're out on the line for freedom to have an abortion and you're incredibly pregnant. They just can't quite figure it out. So I think he definitely has convinced people that he stands for change and for hope, and I can't wait to see what he stands for.”

Call me old fashioned, but I always thought that you were supposed to back a candidate AFTER you see what they stand for.

Of course, I guess it really doesn’t matter what Obama stands for as long as he has a name that confuses radical extremists who apparently only hate America because we hated them first. Perhaps Sarandon has given us the key to winning the war against terror: confuse them with our names. Or perhaps what Sarandon is really telling us is that if Bill Clinton hadn't shown such hatred toward Muslims, terrorists wouldn't hate us so much and would have never bombed two embassies, the USS Cole and taken their earlier shot at the World Trade Center during his presidency. Or perhaps if more incredibly pregnant women marched for pro-choice causes . . . OK, I admit it. I'm not exactly sure what point she is trying to make; I take great comfort in that fact.

16 February 2008

You Racist!

How many times do you think Republicans will hear that if Barack Obama gets the Democratic nomination for the presidency? I can hear it already. Every time you criticize his inexperience or voting record Democrats will claim you’re only doing it because he’s black. And don't bother pointing out that his mother was white. Every time you mention his lack of substance they’ll label you a hate-monger. They will obscure his many faults with the smoke and mirrors of accusation. It’s a favorite tactic of the left. Remember calling Cindy Sheehan a nut job and being told you’re callous for not believing everything she says because she lost her son. How about when you pointed out that John Kerry flip-flopped and they said you were disrespecting war veterans. Or the time you said that Nancy Pelosi looks like a deflated Betty Rubble bobo doll and you were tagged “anti-ugly.” Listen, it won’t matter if you love Condi. It won't matter if you admire Colin Powell. It won’t matter if you wish J.C. Watts would run for president. It won't matter if you've never had a racist thought in your life. It won't even matter if you are an African America. If you disagree with Barack, they will find a way to deflect your criticism through implied racism.

How do you fight it? Start by asking your accuser to explain some of Obama’s positions on a variety of issues. When they stutter over the lack of specifics and begin babbling sassy slogans about him "standing up for change and the future," calmly explain that you are not a racist, that they are a misguided mud-muddled wank and calmly walk away.

15 February 2008

Why I'm A Moderate Republican

I like rhinos. If I were in a scrap and needed somebody to have my back, well I feel pretty confident a rhino could cover me. But you drop that "H" and confidence drops along side it. And when my more conservative Republican friends call me a "RINO" I know what they're saying: "You're a Republican In Name Only and you don't have my back."

The problem with being a moderate Republican is that we come in all flavors with the possible exception of non-fat French vanilla. There are moderates who are conservative on fiscal issues, security/defense and education but moderate on social issues (hand in the air). There are moderates who are a tad liberal when is comes to spending but staunchly conservative everywhere else (Hello, Mr. President). In fact, you could look at virtually any issue and find Republicans with a moderate leaning on that specific topic while maintaining mostly core conservative roots. Yes, of course, there are also some real RINOs who lean to the liberal every chance they get.

Now, I happen to be a social moderate because I think the GOP was founded on reduced government intervention, which means that we don't send Uncle Sam peeking into wombs or bedrooms . . . kind of a creepy image if Uncle Sam is still sporting a goatee and that star spangled top hat. It's not about morality. It's about the government's role in our lives. But regardless of where you're moderate, the beauty of Republicanism is that there's room for all of us.

The Dems claim to be the party of diversity and will happily point to their current Presidential nominees as proof -- a woman and an African American man. Oh, sure they look different; she resembles a rabid warthog suffering from anal seepage and he's, well, sort of cute once you get past the ears (um, at least that's what my wife says). But when judging true diversity we need to peel away the shallow measurements of skin and gender. (Please, as tempting as it is, no comments that we should try it literally with these two. That would be wrong.) What are they like on the inside? How ideologically diverse are they? I have little doubt that if anybody could figure out what Obama actually stands for, the answer would be clear. They both want to turn this country into the People's Republic of America. Not a very diverse party when it comes down to it. I mean, when is the last time we saw a prominent Democrat who was pro-life? Who wanted to lower taxes? Who didn't champion excessive gun control?

Now look at the crop of Republicans who recently took a run at the nomination. Ron Paul is against the war, Rudi Giuliani is pro-choice and supports gay marriage, John McCain has his campaign finance reform, Mit Romney raised taxes and Mike Huckabee has a really funny name. Now THAT is diversity! THAT is the Republican Party. THAT is America.

Adding My Voice To The Din

I doubt that you are asking yourself why I decided to start a blog. I expect you will not wake up at 3:00 am in a cold sweat, shaking your spouse (or "significant other" if you are living in sin) to consciousness in an attempt to get help answering the question, "Why is Paul blogging about politics?" Nor will you flag down the closest uniformed guy with a badge to pose that age-old question about khaki elephants. So, given your apparent lack of interest I will give you the short version.

Me: "I should start a blog."
My Wife: "Go Ahead."
Me: "I mean it."
My Wife: "I'm sure that you do."

And here I am.