You are currently viewing archive for October 2006
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
The stem-cell research debate continues to be disingenuous and a bit sleazy. If the candidates and party leaders who continue to push "stem cells" as a political wedge issue really cared about the afflicted in this nation, they would be more careful to tell the truth. Opportunistic politicians should not promise that the blind shall see and the lame shall walk, if we can just defeat the Republicans and move forward on stem-cell research. They know better.

Here is a review of some of my thoughts on the stem-cell dilemma from a while back:

There is no federal ban on stem-cell research in America. As a nation, we are engaged in an honest debate about when life begins. Until we come to a consensus, we are withholding our common federal money for a procedure that is highly offensive to a large segment of our community. In the meantime, research continues with large amounts of private and individual state funds (the previous post in its entirety).

How does this issue play politically?

Will the people of Missouri see the intervention of Michael J. Fox as a morally superior Hollywood outsider who knows better than the simpletons of the show-me state? Or is Fox a sympathetic and beloved figure who serves as a powerful representation of friends and neighbors in pain? Too close to call.

The biggest problem with the anti-stem-cell-research position is in the complexity and distance of the argument. As I have said before, "life begins in the Petri dish" takes some getting used to. The tragedy of butchering embryos is infinitely more theoretical than a loved one in pain.

The Child in the Well

The fourth-century BC Chinese philosopher, Mencius, argued that man was innately good. As proof, he noted that all of us would react automatically to prevent a child from falling into a well. We would attempt to save a child in danger, not for personal gain (sometimes at personal risk), out of an instinctual desire to save the child.

Regardless of whether the example proves the ancient assertion concerning the nature of man, the scenario is instructive. Proponents of abortion rights must tread lightly on our emotions and sensibilities when defending the right of one person's choice to end the life of another human entity. For we can sympathize with a human fetus living inside one of us. We are disturbed by the taking of these unborn lives; we wince at pictures of destroyed fetuses. Our hearts instinctually react to the plight of these living beings.

An aside: a few years ago, without any prompting from his parents, my son began praying for his cousin who was still in the womb. It was logical for him to acknowledge the personhood of this unborn family member.

The problem with the stem-cell debate is the detachment most of us feel for embryos created outside of the natural process via in vitro fertilization. Most of us do not feel a similar sense of loss when we hear about the destruction of embryos manufactured for the purpose of implanting at some subsequent point. Generally, our hearts do not cry out for the embryonic child in the well.

Indeed, many Americans have no moral compunction against, in the name of procreation, creating many more of these embryos than they can possibly bring to human fruition. It follows logically that these excess embryos must be destroyed. Why are we not troubled by that process?

The anti-embryonic-stem-cell-research position asks for an almost superhuman level of empathy. I frankly admit that the position requires an intense intellectual stretch for me. I am inclined to make it--not because I can honestly say my heart cries out for these suffering embryos--but mainly because so many of the people I respect as ethical and moral ask me to. No matter where we stand on this dilemma, we should understand that this issue is very difficult for most of us.

As for the mundane, I make no prediction as to how this series of unseemly political acts will play out in Missouri and Maryland this election cycle. But it is incumbent on all parties to deal with this volatile issue with sensitivity and honesty.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Many of you know that I spent a few years as a grad student at Tulane. During my New Orleans sojourn, my first congressman was William Jefferson (old money-in-the-freezer-Jefferson). When I moved out of Nola to Metairie, my congressman was Bob Livingston (in line for Speaker but had to fall on his sword because of a sex scandal). We then elected David Vitter (now Senator) in a special election to replace Livingston. Vitter bested a large field, which included David Duke, who placed third, failing to make the run off by a few thousand votes.

An aside: I once stood only yards away from David Duke during that campaign; a chilling experience for another post, perhaps.

Another congressman in my orbit back then was Gene Taylor, from Mississippi's Fourth District, which was just across the river down I-10. Taylor is an ultra-conservative Democrat. He has recently voted against his party and for a fence along the border, the military commissions compromise, warrantless wiretapping and much more. While he is not from the GOP tax-cutting mold, he was the only Democrat who voted for all four articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton in 1998.

Gene Taylor is a devout Roman Catholic representing a Southern-Baptist-dominated slice of Red-State America. He did not vote for Nancy Pelosi for majority leader. Last week, Michael Barone (in this post) raised this question: If the Democrats pick up exactly 15 seats (a possibility), which would give them, theoretically, a one-seat majority, What Will Gene Taylor Do?

More info: Voting record courtesy of the Washington Post and Gene Taylor's official House site.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Some quick thoughts on the GOP ad against Harold Ford in Tennessee:

The ad itself (view here):

If you have not seen the ad (which is highly unlikely), the spot features a series of staged and silly man-on-the-street interviews in which ostensibly common Tennessee voters react to Democratic senatorial candidate Harold Ford.

The ad itself is "campy." I cannot imagine any voter actually mistaking the actors for real people. Some of the gags are actually funny. My favorite is the camouflaged hunter who says: "Ford's right. I do have too many guns."

Of course, the bit that has everyone talking is the squeaky-voiced blonde who claims she "met Harold at the Playboy Club." Then, in the tag, she winks into the camera and whispers, "Harold, call me."

The flap:

Are the Republicans playing on racism in the closing days of the Tennessee canvass? A contest in which more than one pundit has wondered whether this moderately conservative Upper South state was actually capable of sending a handsome black man to the United States Senate. The answer, at this point, is too close to call.

Is this ad racist?

On the Friday political roundup (transcript) on The Newshour, Mark Shields succinctly articulated the consensus reaction of people (mostly Democrats--but certainly not exclusively so) who felt the ad crossed the boundaries of acceptability in American politics:

"[Y]ou've got the blonde girl, and there's a second one where she's topless -- you can't see anything she has on -- and, "Harold, call me," that's playing to one of the atavistic, base fears of the Mandingo black man who's after our white daughters. And that is very much implicit in this ad."

What was the GOP really going for?

Did the Republicans really need to remind Tennessee voters that Ford was African American? It was not like when the Kerry-Edwards team went to great pains in 2004 to make sure that President Bush's socially conservative supporters knew that Vice President Cheney had a gay daughter, whom, evidently, he still loved and had not shunned from the family. Presumably, every person in Tennessee who would vote against Ford for being black knows he is black and is reacting accordingly.

I tend to agree with Rich Lowry, who made the rounds yesterday on NPR and PBS (on the Newshour with Shields) making this point:

"I think [it] was very effective. I don't think it had anything to do with race. I had to do with God and church, because Harold Ford has been running a brilliant, almost flawless campaign in Tennessee, partly based on the idea that he's a choir boy who wants to do nothing else but be in those church pews.

"And the Republicans wanted to get him talking about going to a Playboy party, which is not a big sin in the scheme of things, but it complicates his message. And he has had to address it now. He has been on the defensive responding to an ad which is never a good thing in a campaign."

What about the politics?

The race debate among the Democrats and Republicans is not directed at African Americans or white racists. There is no constituency more faithful to the Democratic Party than African Americans. No need to remind them to vote Democratic. Conversely, most of the Southern racists have been flushed out of the Democratic Party long ago. The ones who remain (a few blue-collar unionists, for example) are resigned to holding their noses and accepting their offensive African-American coalition partners.

The race debate is usually about appealing to conservative-leaning but fair-minded white voters, who are not comfortable with virulent racists. These voters, many of whom are religious people, would not accept an appeal to ancient Southern fears such as Mark Shields described. This explains why the Republicans retreated so quickly in the face of that "racist" criticism. The GOP cannot afford the appearance of impropriety in this regard.

Do GOP ads sometimes appeal to racial stereotypes? Yes. The Willie Horton ad (view here) recognized that many white voters believed that the violent-offender portion of your average prison population was disproportionately black. The famous Jesse Helms ad (view here) in which white hands crumpled a rejection letter because, as the voice over says, "they had to give that job to a minority," played on a belief about quotas commonly held among regular folk. Actually, I would argue that both of those ads were fair game. They both dealt with serious issues and illustrated real positions held by their opponents. Michael Dukakis did sign weekend passes; Harvey Gantt actually favored racial quotas as a way of advancing Affirmative Action.

The Harold Ford ad is much less racial than the ads against Dukakis and Gantt. It is also much less substantive and much more whimsical.

The Ford ad controversy is more about the opposition attempting to characterize the GOP as racists nationally than it is the GOP appealing to racist fears in Tennessee.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
From Gateway Pundit, this story of election fraud in Missouri, specifically St. Louis.

Kansas City officials say this is the most irresponsible and extensive voter registration abuse in Missouri in the twenty five years they have been on the job with the Kansas City Board of Elections. That's saying a lot considering there were 16 convictions of election crimes since 2004 in the St. Louis area alone!

The voter registration fraud is occuring in St. Louis. Gateway Pundit has the UPI article on the fraud, plus links to other sites covering this issue, including a video. Read the post.

I mentioned earlier that I feared voter fraud in St. Louis, a long-time source of corruption that always benefits the Democrats, could hand a close election to McCaskill this year.

I still have a troubled mind going into this election. Big-government, no immigration policy Republicans disturb me. But, I'll not vote Democrat again until the party takes strong steps against voter fraud, from which they have benefitted for years. And, if you post a comment saying that Republicans are just as bad: present proof. The overwhelming majority of voter fraud in the last several years, that I am aware of, has been Democrat related. Perhaps the party needs a new slogan: Democrats: taking over America one activist judge and one fraudulent vote at a time.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I offered my take on the President's press conference yesterday (Wednesday) this morning (Thursday) on Channel 10. Here is a summary of my remarks:

The Politics of Iraq:

Two weeks ago, after a press conference in the Rose Garden, I opined that the President was attempting to seize the agenda and the initiative, hoping to shift the debate away from congressional scandal to issues more favorable to the GOP: the economy and security.

Yesterday, the President all but admitted that the upcoming election would be a referendum on Iraq. It is suddenly apparent to the White House and the Republican establishment that the key to maintaining control of the government is not the economy, domestic security issues or immigration; the real issue is Iraq, which must be addressed to the satisfaction of the American people before Republicans can move on to any other topic.

Why the President?

Ironically, the President has thrust himself into the middle of the debate. This tactic goes against the conventional wisdom [that he is poison for GOP candidates], but Karl Rove and the President himself have great confidence in his ability to win over voters (and they have an impressive track record). The President is appealing directly to the people who like him and want to believe in him. It is a bold political move [but these guys are nothing if they are not bold].

What will happen?

This is a tight election, and I believe it is still a fluid election. Two weeks ago we were talking about Mark Foley and North Korea. Those things seem less pressing today. No one can really say what the tipping-point issue will be in twelve days. The decision out of NJ yesterday regarding same-sex marriage is bound to motivate social conservatives. Democrats cannot be happy about that issue resurfacing at this point.

Do any of those issues matter this year? Or is this all about Iraq?

Iraq, at this point, seems the defining issue. Why? It is the most important foreign policy event of our generation, and we seem to be at the moment of truth. As a result, President Bush is: 1) out in front reaffirming the case that achieving our objectives in Iraq is in the nation's vital national interests; 2) reminding people of the progress; 3) admitting mistakes; and 4) offering confidence that we are making needed adjustments and promising the citizenry that we will prevail.

Of course, the Democratic opposition wonders why this change in rhetoric took so long, calling the new rhetoric "confusion" or a diversion rather than the administration genuinely adapting to new circumstances.

Stay Tuned.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Breaking news: about 3:40 EDT the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its ruling on same-sex marriage. The full opinion is here. pdf file The relevant summary paragraph is

HELD: Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married
heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds
that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed samesex
couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the
civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to samesex
couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.

So, full benefits of marriage, but whether to call it marriage or not up to the legislature. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck . . .
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Two well-reasoned articles released tonight:

Dick Morris & Eileen McGann from the New York Post see the election shifting back to a "toss-up" with the GOP gaining Big Mo:

"The Republican base seems to be coming back home. This trend, only vaguely and dimly emerging from a variety of polls, suggests that a trend may be afoot that would deny the Democrats control of the House and the Senate."

Read article in full here.

And Cait Murphy (Fortune assistant managing editor via explains "Why the Republicans need to lose" this election:

"Power may be corrupting, but it is also addictive. That's why no party likes to lose an election. But the truth is that sometimes a loss is just what is needed to regain a sense of purpose and energy. And that's why the Republicans need to lose in November."

Read article in full here:

Note: Dick Morris is the worst historian I know. I don't trust him as far as I can throw him in terms of his recollections or analysis in re the Clintons. But he is one of the sharpest political minds in the country. If he says the GOP is on the upswing, he is very likely right. And it makes sense. What goes down often comes up. The Dems probably peeked too early.

On the other hand, the Murphy article makes the point that I have been hammering for weeks (months) that the Republicans need to lose for a number of reasons--most importantly, for the health of the Republican Party.

I concur with both of these analysis pieces.

One more thing: damn the torpedoes (and the overwhelming evidence to the contrary); I am sticking with my picks on Talent and DeWine. Mainly, because we will need those guys in the years to come. I predict an attack of good sense will overwhelm the voters of Ohio and Missouri just in the nick of time.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
The Kansas City Star reported today that McCaskill (D) has a slim 46 to 43 % lead over Talent (R). These numbers represent a slight shift in favor of McCaskill. The Star reporters explain the movement thus:

Many see the war becoming the fulcrum upon which elections across the country could turn. Missouri voters now cite Iraq as the campaign’s No. 1 issue, with 22 percent saying it will be the most important factor in determining their vote. . . . . .
Likely voters may be reacting more to increasingly bad news from Iraq than they are to Talent’s sharp attacks on McCaskill’s family finances and handling of her job as Jackson County prosecutor and state auditor. If she has had success in making the campaign a referendum on the White House, she’s been helped by recent developments in Iraq, such as commanders in Baghdad saying attempts to quell violence there have failed. U.S. casualties increased, with October the deadliest month in two years.
Read the article.

Two thoughts: 1. the enemy in Iraq knows the power, and weakness, of the American media--its power to transmit images and its weakness for blood; expect things in Iraq to be bad through election day as the enemy tries to Tet the election. (for those of you too young to remember, the Tet offensive in Vietnam was reported as a major defeat for the US and helped sour public opinion on that war, in reality it was a major defeat for communist forces); 2. I fear a close election in Missouri--St. Louis, a bastion of Democrat strength, has a long and shameful history of voting "irregularities". I do fear a stolen election if the voting is close.

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
By now, everybody knows that the President officially abandoned the "stay the course" rhetoric today. Here is relevant statement excerpted from Tony Snow's press conference:

Q. Why?

"MR. SNOW: Because it left the wrong impression about what was going on. And it allowed critics to say, well, here's an administration that's just embarked upon a policy and not looking at what the situation is, when, in fact, it's just the opposite. The President is determined not to leave Iraq short of victory, but he also understands that it's important to capture the dynamism of the efforts that have been ongoing to try to make Iraq more secure, and therefore, enhance the clarification -- or the greater precision."

More importantly, the policy itself is in flux. James Baker is in the mix, thinking outside the box. Maybe we will bring in Iraq and Syria for multilateral negotiations to end hostilities. Maybe we will overthrow Maliki and install a US-friendly strongman. Yes. Everything old is new again. The neo-cons are out on their collective ear.

Two thoughts pop into my mind: Either 1) the Bush administration finally realized they made a huge strategic mistake, compounded by three-and-one-half years of smaller but equally disastrous tactical mistakes; or 2) the internal polling finally got the better of the political side of the White House and they panicked and went into full retreat. The former is admirable and pathetic at the same time. The latter is mostly pathetic and despicable. Either way, it is poor politics.

How can you tell the American people, two weeks before an election, after almost four years of confident rhetoric, that everything you said was wrong? The other guys were right. Sorry.

Here is the problem with changing your rhetoric at this moment: it confirms what your opponents already believed. It confirms for undecideds that your opponents were right. It demoralizes your supporters.

Of course, the bad news is that the White House is right. Things are dreadfully wrong in Iraq. And I applaud an honest discussion on how to resolve the dilemma in a reasonable way. Can we fix this mess? Probably. But we are going to have to depend on graciousness and charity from the opposition party, which is about to be a much more potent political entity.

It is in the interest of all parties to find a way out of this treacherous foreign policy valley. Much more than domestic political dominance is at stake. Our future is in the balance. As a policy, Iraq can still prove a positive step for the United States, but success will require, as Joe Biden eloquently proclaimed on Fox News Sunday, "a political solution in Iraq and a bipartisan solution here at home."

I pray that Biden lives up to his declaration. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. We are in dire need of statesman willing to give up political advantage, possibly even sacrificing career aspirations, in order to serve American interests.

My hope: we love America more than we love our pride and our parties.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
As the election nears, I sense that we are in a real lull of activity. I am not sure if we are waiting for the next trump card or, perhaps, have all the aces and spades already been played? Are all the money cards now on the table? If so, the last couple of tricks may fall to mid-level hearts and clubs.

Or, switching metaphors, are the two parties like two heavyweight fighters who have punched themselves out in the late-middle rounds and, unable to knock the other out, who intend to stagger around for the remainder of the fight, leaning on one another until the final bell comes? Unfortunately, one of these bloated, undeserving contestants will win a decision.

I am increasingly convinced that there is a great pall descending over the American electorate. Faced with the final reality that the majority must go, and well aware that the minority is ill-equipped to govern, voters are fast becoming disheartened and pessimistic about their future.

What is the next big thing?
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
C-SPAN (Brian-Lamb Friday) spent some time this morning noting that this week, by order of the Republican-controlled Congress, is "National Character Counts Week." Brian featured a story from yesterday in the Washington Post from Dana Milbank, "During National Character Counts Week, Bush Stumps for Philanderer," which refers to President Bush's campaign efforts on behalf of embattled Pennsylvania Representative, Robert Sherwood.

Sherwood, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, etc. For all of us who like to think of the Republican Party as the moral option, these are troubling times.

Although GOP leadership assures us that there is a logical explanation to all this, I am reminded of a passage from one of my favorite novels, Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry.

The setting:

Upon apprehending their erstwhile friend and colleague, Jake Spoon, who has fallen in with a band of bad men and reluctantly participated in a crime spree that included murder and horse theft, our heroes, Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae, former captains in the Texas Rangers, proceed to summary justice for the crew.

Jake pleads his case:

"I ain't done nothing. I just fell in with these boys to get through the Territory. I was aiming to leave them first chance I got."

"You should have made a chance a little sooner, Jake," Augustus said. "A man that will go along with six killings is making his escape a little slow."

And later:

"Ride with an outlaw, die with him," he [Augustus] added. "I admit it is a harsh code. But you rode on the other side long enough to know how it works. I'm sorry you crossed the line, Jake."

Maybe like Jake, the GOP leaders lost track of where the line was; they were "just trying to get to Kansas without getting scalped." Nevertheless, it is time for a change.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
This morning Washington Journal featured Jennifer Duffey and Amy Walter, from the Cook Political Report; for my money, they are the two most knowledgeable political analysts working in the USA today. They are not flashy, but take what they say to the bank. If you have never heard of them, then you should definitely watch more C-SPAN.

Note: The Washington Journal link above will have today's show (Oct. 15) archived for about a week.

In terms of background, Duffey knows all things pertaining to gubernatorial races and senate contests; Walter knows all 435 Congressional districts in minute detail. Generally, Charlie Cook leans right politically, but the Cook report is scrupulously objective and always as on-target as one can be in these matters.

In brief, when pressed to prognosticate, here is what the ladies predicted:

Duffey on the
Senate: 51-49 (she would not/could not say who would be in the majority)
Governors: she predicted a 6-8 statehouse gain for the Dems

Walter on the
House: +17 pick-up for Dems (which would give them a razor-thin majority)

My view:
I think that is about right. I called the House for the Dems two weeks ago. I predict that the Senate will stay GOP. I cannot imagine Kyl losing in AZ. I have already picked Talent in MO (this is an emotional pick; I think Talent is a comer; if he makes it out of this election, he will grow to be an important and revered senator). I am picking Mike DeWine in OH on emotion as well. Duffey has MO and OH as toss-ups. DeWine and Talent would be monumental losses for the country. Therefore, I pick them to win. I hope; I hope.

Review of some of my former picks:

» Read More

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Some of you who read this are political junkies. You know who you are. If you need a ready fix handy by the bed, check out this list of the best insider books on politics on the Wall Street Journal online editorial page today. From city machine politics to presidential primaries to conventions, books guaranteed to get your political high. Here. Anybody out there read any of these books?
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Personally, I don't think the Republicans have earned the opportunity to retain the Congressional majority (can you say "BIG GOVERNMENT"?); and, I do not think the Democrats have earned the opportunity to become the Congressional majority (can you say "NO IDEAS"?) But, in real life we usually do not have perfect choices. Since we are living in a hot period of the nearly 1400-year-long war between Islam and everyone else, the Democrats scare me while the Republicans merely disgust me.

Though Instapundit does not give it a political interpretation, today he offers these observations that might give the Republicans hope. I am assuming that once alone in the voting booth, citizens may do something different than what pollsters predict.

SO WHEN I WAS AT THE MALL THE OTHER DAY, I saw that Eddie Bauer had a prominent display featuring this Disaster Emergency Kit for 2. It's not bad, especially for a car or apartment, though I'd certainly want to supplement it.

But what struck me more than the kit itself was the prominence of the display. Put that together with the fact that Target is marketing survival kits with the American Red Cross, Slate has run a series on disaster survival, and Consumer Reports is pushing disaster preparedness and it looks like we've got something of a trend. (Popular Mechanics is on the job, too, but you expect that from them.) And walking through J.C. Penney the same day I saw hand-cranked dynamo lanterns and radios prominently displayed by the entrance.

It's a trend I approve of, of course, as I think that everyone should be prepared for emergencies. And it's one that's being pushed by government -- my brother recently got a mailing from the State of Ohio telling him he should have a month's worth of food set aside in case of avian flu or other disasters -- but it seems to be more than that. I think that it's something that goes to the Zeitgeist. We know that the world isn't the warm, fuzzy place that it often seemed in the 1990s (it wasn't then, either, but it was easier to ignore that if you tried, and most of us tried). Modest preparations now, of course, can have a big payoff later, so I'm glad to see people giving the subject some thought. Whether or not Eddie Bauer sells many of those kits, everyone who sees them will at least have disaster preparation cross his/her mind.

More on disaster preparedness here and here. Remember, though, it's not just about buying things -- it's about learning things, too.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I appeared on Channel 10 this morning (Thursday) to analyze the President's press conference yesterday (Wednesday).

The gist of my comments:

On the political impact of the Rose Garden press conference:

The President needed to come out and address the very serious situation in North Korea. We expect the president of the United States to come before us in these moments. Moreover, I am not a big fan of viewing all events through the prism of politics. I reject the premise that politics drives all policy. [In fact, I am convinced that this President more often uses elections to leverage policy than he employs policy debates to influence elections.]

On the other hand, having said that, the President, as leader of the Republican Party, desperately needed to drive the discussion back toward issues that are more favorable to Republicans. The President made an aggressive attempt to seize the agenda and the initiative. As the President said time and again on Wednesday, he wants this election to be about the economy and security.


But the undercurrent in this election (in this presidency) is always Iraq. Are we so dissatisfied with Iraq that we turn out the Republican Congress to voice our displeasure with the war? Will we stay the course? Or will we cut our losses and come home? In many ways, this election is another referendum on our policy in Iraq and our vision for the post-911 world.

The Polls:

There is a great paradox in public opinion polling. On one hand, scientifically, the polls are very effective measurements of public sentiment; they can be very accurate in determining what people feel at any given minute. On the other hand, the polls are merely a snapshot. They tell us what people were thinking a few days ago. But that does not really tell us what is going to happen on November 7. This is a fluid election, and momentum is likely to go back and forth several times before Election Day.

[Last week Republicans were convinced that the Foley abomination was having little effect on the election. They were completely wrong and silly to listen to polling data that confirmed what they wanted to believe. This week the Democrats (and the MSM) are convinced that the Republicans are finished; they too are probably much too sanguine about what this week's polling data really means.]

Moreover, much more so than election results, polling tends to register emotion. Americans generally take voting very seriously. The weight of Election Day tends to sober American voters. Polling on any given day one-month out from an election is often wildly inaccurate in terms of predicting winners on the first Tuesday in November.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Somehow I had overlooked these before. Below is the questionaire filled out by each candidate for the Kansas City Star newspaper last summer.

Claire McCaskill (D)
I do not think there are real surprises in her positions. She does sound more hawkish on Iran than some Democrats, but talk is cheap.

Jim Talent (R)
I do not think there are any real surprises in his positions. He is more straightforward than many candidates.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A lot of debating went on this weekend. I caught the Texas 17 in full and some snippets of some others. Here are some quick impressions:

Texas 17. Incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards and Republican challenger Van Taylor: Not much substance to argue over. Mostly petty exchanges. Edwards is a Democrat who votes Republican, which is very frustrating for the Republican challenger. However, standing toe-to-toe with a long-term incumbent raises the status of the challenger. Taylor did not disqualify himself. He raised his visibility. Tie goes to the Republican challenger in a Republican-dominated district, but the advantage still lies with the incumbent Edwards.

Texas Gubernatorial: It is a funny race. I have long believed that the much-maligned Rick Perry holds an almost impregnable position in this campaign. The Democratic nominee, Chris Bell, is virtually unknown--even today. The novelty candidate, comedian Kinky Friedman has not caught fire. Carole Strayhorn, the articulate erstwhile-Republican Comptroller and independent challenger, may be the best candidate all things being equal--but all things are not equal.

Perry is the incumbent Republican in a rock-solid Republican state (last cycle no Democrat won a state office). He has all the money. He has all the connections and corporate support. And he looks marvelous. Perry is a tall former rancher with movie-star good looks. Physically towering over his independent but charismatic competition, and outshining his dull Democratic challenger, Perry seems well-positioned to win his second term as governor of Texas.

Missouri Senate: I saw only seconds of the Talent and McCaskill debate on Meet the Press, but Talent seemed so in control of the facts and the stage, I am going to go ahead and call Missouri for Talent on gut feeling alone (although some of the latest polls say different).

California Governor: I caught quite a bit of the debate between Arnold Schwarzenegger and some guy who wasn't Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Governator is that good. I agree with all the polls that predict Arnold with enjoy a double-digit win. So much for the polls and pundits this time last year that eulogized Schwarzenegger.

Review of former picks:

Pennsylvania: Casey
Virginia: Allen
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Some things that are probably true:

1. Republicans are going to lose the House. If not for Foley, the GOP might have dodged the bullet, but this should do it. In truth, the Republican House deserves to go.

George Will had the quote of the day yesterday:

"If, after the Foley episode -- a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats' delectable sundae of Republican miseries -- the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats, they should go into another line of work."

Losing is probably what we need the most; it will facilitate repentance and revival.

2. The long history of the Republican Party (that goes back even to its Whig roots) as the "moral party" is well deserved; the label is a two-edged sword, but well deserved nonetheless.

The GOP rank-and-file are unique in their standards of conduct. While some pundits and leaders are attempting to blame a well-timed opposition leak for this story (which may be accurate in part), the real truth is that genuine horror and disgust from the Republican masses fired this scandal.

I have a certain sense of pride in my party in regard to our outrage. Regardless of the mistakes of leadership, it is clear to any observer that the party is exacting in its demands for moral conduct.

Are we open to charges of hypocrisy? Yes. Aren't we all? But there is little room for quibbling over the vehemence with which we have pursued this series of indiscretions and violations of our trust.

It amazes me that one month out from a crucial election the GOP faithful are willing to call for the heads of their leaders over a matter of principle. Good for us.

Today I am not ashamed to be a Republican; I am prouder than ever to be associated with the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan.

3. The silver lining: We now have a new standard of conduct for Congress. We will look back on Speaker Pelosi's passionate condemnations of immorality on the part of Republican leadership and replay those sound bites for the next twenty years, holding all parties to the same yardstick.

Barney Frank's next sex scandal will be his last.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I have not seen this in print yet, but I get the feeling that there is a rationale building in GOP circles for not taking action on sexual predator Mark Foley:

We could not take action against Foley because he is a homosexual, and the rules of political correctness precluded further investigation. That is, imagine the angry recriminations and accusations of Republican homophobia that would have emerged if we had pushed Foley on scant evidence.

Unacceptable! Anyone who follows current politics understands that there is truth in that assertion. Quite frankly, the Foley case was a no-win situation politically. Nevertheless, it was a no-brainer morally and ethically. GOP leadership should have done the right thing and taken the heat for the breach in political correctness decorum.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Literally feeling under the weather. Respiratory something. Very tired.

Cannot get over Foley. It gets worser and worser. Don't feel like spinning or fighting. Demoralized. Cannot shake the feeling that this was an open secret. Would be surprised if 1,000 people did not know about this and did nothing.

General Broulard to Colonel Dax: "'re a disappointment to me. You've spoiled the keenness of your mind by wallowing in sentimentality. You really did want to save those men.... You are an idealist - and I pity you as I would the village idiot."

--Paths of Glory

Life goes on. Committees. Classes. Forums. Students. Working on an extended thought piece unpacking some other things. Will return with complete sentences. Clouds will lift. Will be back with fresh perspective.

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Most of the national attention on next month's elections has been focused on Congress. In the day-to-day of governance, and in the nuts-and-bolts of party strength, we should not overlook the state races for governor. The Iowa campaign seems to be in a dead-heat between Chet Culver (D), the Secretary of State, and Jim Nussle (R), an eight-term Congressman. Thomas Beaumont, writing for the Des Moines Register, has a good article today on the race.

One of the points of disagreement concerns abortion: Culver presents himself as pro "abortion rights," while Nussle promises to sign a bill making all abortions, except to save the life of the mother, illegal. Culver is trying to tie Nussle to President Bush, and Nussle is portraying Culver as a big-spender.