Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oh, Whew!

Just when it seemed that the Democratic 2008 Juggernaut would be infallible this election cycle, along comes Joe Biden, just to keep things interesting.

Thanks, Joe! We'll be listening!

Don't Make Me Pull This Car Over!

I think I've figured it out.

I'm not expecting any huge cash awards. Please don't bother notifying the Nobel committee, or even recommend me to the Pulitzer bunch. I'm just a workin' Joe doing my part for the greater good.

One thing that has truly boggled my mind since joining the Blogosphere nearly three years ago has been the levels of poisonous invective that have been reached in many of the discussions I've read. Or even participated in, for that matter.

No one is immune, apparently. Michelle Malkin can, in her own way, be just as spiteful and (dare I say?) mean-spirited on certain issues as the people who regularly write nothing but hateful, sexist, and racist posts about her. Kos and his infamous Kids are widely known for profanity-laced writing of the sort that we used to ban from classrooms back in the day. Used to be that newspapers would bow their heads in shame if they allowed language like that to appear in one of their "responsible" publications, but now they seem to relish the nastier attitudes that are extant throughout the current political dialogue.

So what happened, and why do we allow this sort of thing to continue?

One might argue that this sort of dialogue is a waste of bandwidth. Why clutter our servers with so many words that have absolutely no chance of resolving anything of any real importance? The "I hate you; you hate me" meme that we find in 95% of the comments on any given blog are useless. I don't think they even serve any therapeutic purpose other than to demonstrate the apparent lack of any real education on the part of the commenters (as adjudicated by the number of misspelled words and grammatical errors). As one former boss once told me, there's no reason to use profanity in order to do business. (This lesson has actually only recently been learned in my company. Profanity is finally frowned upon by enough upper managers that I hear much less of it in today's environment.)

So here's my theory. I grew up in what would be considered by many to be a "large" family. There are five of us siblings, and I'm the old guy on this totem pole. Five more different personalities you couldn't hope to find anywhere. As a kid, I ruled with an iron fist (almost literally, really). I was the tyrant. My brother, the middle child, was the class clown. My sisters had differing levels of sweetness, but each has had their own method of conflict resolution with varying degrees of success.

Dialogue in this large-ish family pretty closely resembled what we see in the blogosphere (and politics in general) today. Lots of accusations thrown around with little or no proof to back them up. Very little attempt to truly understand the other person's perspective. If I was annoyed with my brother (which I often was), then he was just wrong and that was all there was to it. If one of my sisters dared to enter my Sanctum Sanctorum (I could tell because one of my dirty clothes mounds had shifted slightly to one side) then there was hell to pay. Explanations were for the weak.

Then we grew up.

We dearly love each other these days. Oh, I may not agree with everything they say or do, but I'm also mature enough to understand that I don't have to. In fact, they probably think of me as more of an old fuddy-duddy than my past life would seem to have indicated. I have not only become conservative in my old age, I have become very conservative. But I believe they still love me all the same.

So what we have here, in the Blogosphere, is a large family (like mine, only larger by a factor of about 100 million) waiting to grow up. Really. That's the only reason I can see for the whole "neener, neener, neener" voice I come across on so many blogs today.

Nowadays when a sibling of mine tells me something with which I may not agree, I will very politely listen, perhaps make a comment or two, but largely leave them to believe what they will. If it's something I happen to feel strongly about, then I'll let them know. Politely. Hopefully without leaving the other one feeling like they have a big red "A" sewn on their chest. And the next time we talk, we'll still be the same loving brother and brother and/or sister that we've always been. I also - contrary to what you may see in my writings - have learned enough to know when I don't have the answer. And I've even had to admit that to my siblings at various times over the years.

It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

So here's my thought, for what it's worth. Let's try treating our blog-family like just that. A family. We all breathe the same air; we have many of the same needs; we probably even share more goals than we're likely to believe based on the discussions we're not having right now. If we need a time-out, we take one. Then we can return to the discussion without accusing each other of having genetic abnormalities or deviant sexual proclivities.

It's something to look forward to.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Kerry Doctrine

Without getting into the whole "new world order" conspiracy (one of very few conspiracies to which I give any credence), John Kerry's remarks on Saturday during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland go a long way toward showing Kerry's true stripes. Here's the telling quote:
"We need to do a better job of protecting our interests, because after all, that's what diplomacy is about," he said. "But you have to do it in a context of the reality, not your lens but the reality of those other cultures and histories."

Kerry criticized what he called the "unfortunate habit" of Americans to see the world "exclusively through an American lens."
Because, of course, any American view of the world has got to be the incorrect one.

What really bothers me here is his statement that the context of "reality" cannot be our own lens but the lens - or "reality" - of other cultures and histories.

So let's examine those other cultures and histories a bit closer so we can zero in on Kerry's perception of "reality." Kerry wants our refusal as a government to officially recognize the "problem" of global warming, our refusal to clean up Africa's AIDS problem for them, and our Kerry-generated status as an "international pariah" to be the talking points.

Let's start with the idea that Kerry made the "international pariah" statement in conversation with a former leader of a nation that has long been considered an "international pariah." Iran has been at or near the top of our National Spit List since storming our embassy, kidnapping American staffers, and holding them hostage. As a nation we "officially" support Israel, but Israel itself has long held the "pariah" moniker since the days of one of the shortest wars on record. Shucks, if you want to split hairs about it, Israel has been a pariah since Joshua wiped out half of Palestine. Egypt is currently considered a pariah by most other Arab nations for even bothering to speak to Israel, let alone having any diplomatic ties with them.

So we're a pariah. We are a powerful nation, and it is impossible - no matter how dedicated a diplomatic corps you may have - to please everyone. We're always going to be a pariah to someone. Japan will always be suspicious of us because we don't want them to kill marine mammals. Canada will always be mad at us for keeping them in a frozen meat locker north of the border. Mexico will love us when we let their citizens work here and spend their money there, but hate us when we talk tough about closing the border. Pick a country. I'm sure you'll find some reason for hating our collective guts.

The AIDS pandemic is a tough problem, of course. No one wants to see people suffer, and it certainly requires some concerted efforts by those with means to combat it. But will we ever be able to support these efforts to the complete satisfaction of everyone? Of course not. As a nation, we're already spending money we don't have on any number of issues, both domestic and foreign. In terms of straightforward aid and comfort, there is no other nation on earth that approaches our level of monetary and other aid to those less fortunate than ourselves. With that in mind, it is likely that whatever money we provide to AIDS must be shared with countless other research projects, assistance programs, and monetary bail-outs that we have provided over time.

One of our real problems, of course, is that we are currently spending money we not only don't have, but are having to make up as we go along. At some point this economic bubble is liable to burst, and with it will go any funding for AIDS, marine mammals, global warming, and starvation. Even were we to completely de-fund our entire defense budget, it wouldn't be anywhere near enough to satisfy all of the monetary demands being made by [pick your favorite cause] activists.

Global warming is a huge problem. There's the warming itself, which means that I may be living on potential beach front property within a few decades, assuming the Big One doesn't get me first. I live about twenty miles from the beach on a steady slope, but my mean elevation is still only about fifty feet above sea level. Aside from that, though, is the question of what's really to blame for this warming trend. Yes, there's an awful lot of evidence that some of this may be a man-made problem. However, there's just as much evidence available to indicate that this also could just be part of the earth's own natural cycle of warming and cooling, and we're about to enter the next phase of melting the polar caps, which will then lead to the next cycle of cooling that will finally give me bragging rights when talking with Minnesotans. Whom to believe? John Kerry? Al Gore? Rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth scientists who are looking for more grant money? Meanwhile, we as a nation are apparently supposed to foot the hefty bill of guilt being levied against us by the same nations who gave us the Industrial Revolution in the first place. That's gratitude for ya.

Looking at the world as a whole, I find absolutely no ideals of true international community that people like Kerry seem to believe exist. There isn't a nation on earth that doesn't have at least some blood on its hands, and for many of the nations that Kerry seems to idolize, their blood is still as recent as only a few decades ago. Yes, John, I really want to see the world through their lenses.

With these remarks in an international forum, Kerry once again ably demonstrates just why he has become the irrelevant former presidential contender that he is today. We don't need a man in the White House whose only considered actions would be to cry "mea culpa! mea culpa!" while tearing down our sovereignty as a nation. Because, "new world order" conspiracy or not, that appears to be what John Kerry really wants.

He wants a new set of lenses.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wingnuts v. Moonbats

Fetching Jen and I don't always agree. Some of her positions in the last election with respect to our ballot initiatives here in California I just couldn't get behind, but my disagreements with her have always been amicable. (This is strictly a one-sided relationship, I hasten to add - Jen and I do not truly communicate other than when I troll her blog and make an occasional comment.)

I find her commentaries to be just a little more saucy than my own, but largely she holds the conservative torch fairly well. This is all to the good. She fully understands what she believes and has no problem stating that in her writing.

I have to say, though, that my attraction to her blog has less to do with what she's written, and more to do with the comments she gets from a few anonymous lefties.

It's altogether too easy to paint these characters with the same stroke of the brush. Reading their comments, one would gather that they have been well indoctrinated by the Kos Machine. That is to say, they spend more time making MTV-spawned personal attacks against the author ("You stink.") and less time arguing her more salient points ("You don't like Kerry. You stink."). Then, of course, they wait for guys like me to jump in and accuse them of just that so they can take the Victim POV and claim that we are all shills of the Limbaugh/Hannity/O'Reilly triumvirate. (Did I mention that I never watch or listen to any of these gentlemen?)


One such commenter to this post, wherein Jen links to some older commentary by Mark Steyn, went so far as to imply that we didn't get it. He (I'm assuming this is a "he") was only "poking fun" at Jen, apparently. I guess my own sense of humor is impaired enough that I didn't immediately see just how funny such zingers as "Boy, you are nothing but negative energy. Are you like this around your kids?" really are. Is this the sort of thing that Conan says? I've never watched the man, so I couldn't say.

But Mr. Anonymous went on to make (finally!) what I believe was his only money quote:
Sad actually, but the liberals were always more interesting since they are the ones who questioned authority and the status quo, kind of like some dudes 200 years ago who dared question a monarch.

To which I can only say: Dude, you'd really be surprised just how "right wing" those who questioned that monarch truly were.

The Shape of Campaign 2008

We are well into the official start of the 2008 Media Wants Clinton campaign, and I must say that things to this point have been entirely predictable. Right now Clinton's primary advantage seems to be that the more liberal elements (read: the vast majority) of the traditional media really want to make this an "epic" campaign. They need this to be all about a tough-minded woman(!) with a strong socialist agenda(!) fighting her way into the White House, seemingly against the odds.

Unfortunately her primary disadvantage is that those same liberal media outlets can't seem to agree on just what, per se, Ms. Clinton's agenda truly is. Is it the idea that a modern feminist can reach the pinnacle of male-dominated power? Or should it be that a moderate/liberal/moderate/whatever Democrat can return the country to the sound traditional values of destroying both the traditional American family and countless unborn children?

Sorry. Cheap shot, I know, but where Hillary is concerned I just can't help myself. For my own part I really could care less whether a woman becomes President of the United States. Big whoop. Just because we'd have a female chief executive wouldn't make the Europeans hate us any less. In fact, the primary difference between Hillary and Bill is that Hillary is only slightly more likely to land Air Force One wherever her favorite hairdresser might happen to be. That and the fact that she will probably have learned from Bill's lessons on proper intern care and keeping. Otherwise, I would fully expect to see a continuation of whatever agenda Bill never finished when he had the office and Hillary was probably creating behind the scenes anyway.

No, far more worrisome to me is that pesky social agenda of hers. In foreign policy matters, her stance on Iraq is what it is, and I can't see her getting in Iran's face, either. Likewise North Korea. Lots of saber-rattling, I'd like to bet, and lots of "dialogue," which is what career politicians do that allows bad guys to build and test weapons designed to make our property values plummet for the next hundred years or so. Business as usual on the foreign front.

But the real damage another Clinton presidency would wreak is in our domestic policy. Support of gay marriage is a given in a Clinton-II presidency. "Right to choice" (read: slaughter of unborn children) and entitlement programs galore are the spawn of a Clinton administration.

This is not to say that these policies wouldn't have a champion in any other Democratic candidate. My fear is that Clinton would see her presumed victory as a mandate from nature; the voters elected a woman to this office, which by extension means that they want me to enact these policies. Now. Hillary has shown herself to be at her energetic peak when she's grappling with social legislation, and I can't see that changing in the White House. I can't help but think that anyone else would show at least some restraint before crumbling our society.

The other part of my fear, of course, is that the Republicans will find themselves unable to create a significant challenge to whomever floats to the top of the Democratic ticket next year. I certainly am crossing my fingers for Mitt Romney, if he's the choice to counter McCain. "Anyone but McCain" is my campaign slogan for the coming election. I've written previously about Romney's real challenges as a candidate, hoping against hope that I will be proven wrong and that he really can stay above the political fallouts that seem to beset anyone who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If Giuliani runs, that will only cement my support for the Romney campaign because at that point Romney becomes the only "true" conservative in the field. We certainly can't pin that label on John McCain. Rudy is really just a Democrat in a conservative-looking suit, so I can't see him carrying the banner for the party, either.

(Notice that I do not call Romney a "pure" conservative. I have mentioned before that there are no "pure" conservatives or liberals anymore. Just those that lean way over to one side of an argument or another. It may appear to be a semantics problem to you, but it makes perfect sense to me to differentiate between "pure" and "true" when describing political ideologies. Here at the Woundup, "pure" means someone who stays on the conservative side of every issue, no matter what that issue may be. A "true" conservative, on the other hand, stays conservative on enough issues to be well identified as a conservative. I may be splitting hairs, but when you have hair like mine you tend to split 'em rather than lose 'em.)

For these reasons I do not look forward to the coming campaigns with any gusto. Maybe I'm just getting old and tired, but a body can only take so much of a steady diet of hateful rhetoric between candidates before we just want to line them all up against a wall in front of a firing squad.

Besides, with John Kerry not running this time, where will we turn for entertainment?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Boxer Insults Rice? Big Hairy Deal.

Goodness gracious me. In what is sure to become the next way-overblown non-issue in American politics, Barbara Boxer (for whom I hold absolutely no respect or affection) appears to have insulted Condoleezza Rice yesterday.

I mention this only because suddenly I'm getting hit after hit from people who've been searching the net for articles related to "boxer insults rice," and I found it hilarious that I was getting hits since I hadn't yet written about this incident. In fact, had I NOT gotten those hits I probably would have left this where it firmly belongs: in the realm of "nothing to see here, folks."

Given the reports as published so far, I'm guessing that Boxer should be taken at face value on this one. She probably really was just trying to assert that neither she nor Rice are truly in a position to understand the "real" cost of our war, as measured in human terms. Boxer has no children or grandchildren that are currently eligible to be "sent" to war. Rice is a single woman who also would not experience that sort of personal loss (potentially, of course).

On the surface, the comments by Boxer seem insensitive at worst. Yet bloggers, columnists, and conservative apologists are already lining up to decry the comments as "insults," or "flash points."

Where Boxer blew it was in stating the obvious: She really isn't in a position to understand the "cost" that she was attempting to put in human terms. Only families who have loved ones in that conflict have that perspective. (The fact that a large majority of those families support what their loved ones are attempting is telling. Congress just isn't listening.) In short, when Boxer says things like that, we get the feeling that her empathy for families of the military is really just concern that she's gonna lose more voters before the next election.

Who among us can really say what that cost ultimately will be? I have a son-in-law in the military, and even though he is in no danger of being deployed to Iraq, he does occasionally have to see the casualties of the conflict in his work. That by itself can be traumatic, but how can we possibly measure even that apparently "small" cost?

Short answer: we can't. And neither can Congress.

Did Boxer insult Condi Rice? Perhaps. Is this something to get excited about?

Hey, wake me when it's over.

By the way, the mystery of the search hits lies with a post I'd written just about a year ago. It was actually meant to be a humorous scan of Drudge reports for that day, wherein the most excitable piece of news (according to me, anyway) was a scandal at Krispy Kreme. Included in the "fluff" I chose to pass over was "Boxer insults Rice." Funny thing is, I don't even remember what the alleged insult was at the time, although it may have had something to do with Martin Luther King. Anyway, that's why folks keep popping in here today.

Just wanted to give them something a bit more substantive to come away with.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

They Obviously Had It Coming

So it turns out that members of a Yale barbershop group were attacked while on tour in California. So far, so good. Barbershoppers are regularly attacked in California, where diversity is not so much celebrated as it is mandated. But here's the money quote from the article:
Members of the a cappella Baker's Dozen were performing at a party in San Francisco at the new year when their rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" apparently sparked taunts and threats from fellow partygoers.
Oh, for heaven's sake. What were they thinking? They sang the "Star Spangled Banner?" In San Francisco?? They may as well have put on George Bush masks and paraded down Market Street! Of course they were beaten up!

Had they worn Ché berets and sung "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," no one would have batted an eye.


No One Is Surprised

Heavy sigh.

Drudge points to this article indicating that Democrats in Congress (surprise!) are attempting to block President Bush's proposed increase of troops to be deployed in two critical areas of the Iraqi war.

I am willing to concede the following points:

1. The war has gone on long enough.

2. No one wants to send more troops.

3. Beefing up troop counts in critical areas certainly smacks of dragging this war out longer than might otherwise seem necessary.

Having said all that, however, I also would state the following:

1. Trying to force a timeline for pull out at this point in the conflict only strengthens al Qaeda's position and does nothing to ensure stability in the area.

2. Proposing, as Kennedy has done, that we only allow more troops to be sent in if there are guarantees to pull troops out is a ludicrous thought. Kennedy's proposal further dilutes troop strength in areas that today may only be marginally stable.

But, hey. The Dems are in control now. If they want to block Bush's proposal, so be it. I just hope they're ready to answer the inevitable questions when we finish pulling out of the region and terrorism seems to plague us still. The question will ultimately shift from "why are we there?" to "what did leaving accomplish?"

I'd suggest a good marketing campaign.

New Jersey to (Finally) Allow Idiots to Vote

or, "Haven't They All Been Elected to the State Legislature Already?"

(H/T: Dave Barry)

It isn't often that a state political machine offers insights to its inner workings. Heck, once upon a time someone told me that California is a state run by liberals for the benefit of other liberals, but I've never really believed that. I mean, I sure as heck don't know what goes on in Sacramento, and neither, I suspect, do the politicians.

Anyway, via Dave Barry's blog we find this beautiful peek "behind the scenes" in New Jersey. Apparently, the only way the current vacuum bag of leaders can stay in power is if they allow idiots to vote. Thus, they must remove the restrictions against "idiots" from their constitution so that those with certain mental illnesses will be allowed to vote.

I'd say we should adopt such a policy here in California, but I'm pretty sure we've been allowing them to vote here for decades.

Please don't get me wrong: I have nothing against those with mental challenges, per se. I'm just dying of curiosity to see who in New Jersey will make the determination as to who would be eligible (or ineligible, for that matter) to vote in their state.

This just screams out for discrimination lawsuits.

Oughta be fun to watch.