The purpose of this blog is to get readers to think about the complex (or perhaps simple) issues I write about.

The primary topics will revolve around politics and society as a whole, but a mixture of sports opinion may be thrown in from time to time.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Thanks For Your Time, Sarah.

It was recently announced that Fox News decided not to renew their contract with Sarah Palin as a "Fox News Contributor" and thus, her last official appearance on the Network was December 19, 2012. 

Dear Sarah,

I wanted to write a letter of thanks and admiration for your contributions to the GOP and the conservative movement writ-large. Like most Party-regular conservatives, my fondest memories of you were your early stops on the campaign trail in 2008, (of course I am talking pre-nightly news interviews). To be totally honest, you had a right to become who you became over the course of that campaign, if it weren't for your speech at the Republican Convention, I likely would not have supported the GOP ticket in 2008. While I hate the term "Maverick" to describe John McCain or yourself, your book following the defeat, specifically its title, "Going Rogue" perfectly summarizes how I came to love you so quickly, as many on our side did in 2008.

You were a political nobody in terms of Beltway knowledge, a hockey mom and popular governor, until the Beltway press was unleashed on your history. An "outsider" in every since of the word. As the race wore on, and by the time the stock market crashed and your ticket tumbled, you never fell out of favor with me. I was eating all the red meat that your existence in politics was throwing my way. As you exited the stage on election night, I knew that America-who had already grown tired of you was going to get more of you regardless of that disposition. In the American Media Tradition, Fox News snapped you up as a contributor and you used your new found political celebrity to overexpose yourself in the only way one can these days.

Indeed I thought you would bring value to the conservative movement writ large and specifically the emerging Tea Party. As your influence on the 2010 midterms took shape, I had already fallen out of love with you. I don't know whether the media's portrayal of you had finally gotten to me, or I couldn't just handle seeing you so overly exposed. To your credit, you were (and still are, I am sure) the biggest believer in yourself, but once the midterms of 2010 were over, and I started crunching the numbers, I began to see something in you I never wanted to see.

In 2010 and up until recently you've stormed the country campaigning for anyone and everyone who would pay your fees. I admire your entrepreneurship in that regard, but your demeanor and rhetoric and the message you put out came with a humongous cost to the Party you clearly don't care about, but also the thing you seem to care about most, the conservative movement. Your involvement in the primaries led to the re-election of Senator Harry Reid in Nevada, and gave credence to an argument-in-practice that continues to haunt the conservative movement to this day.

What I am referring to is your brand's notion that the most ideologically pure candidate must win every Primary Election despite of what will happen to them in the General. If there is one thing I can't stand about conservatives like yourself is that they see the conservative movement through a rifle's scope instead of a pair of binoculars. This notion that conservatives must cut off their noses in spite of their face to better the cause is one that you've given way too much value to. It is what caused Christine O'Donnell to be the Party's standard bearer in the 2010 Delaware Senate Election, instead of the highly-moderate Mike Castle who would have won in a landslide. What this type of argument-in-practice does is say, "I would rather take pride in having elected a liberal who will vote my interests 0% of the time, than a Republican who would vote my interest at least 50% of the time."

As you head back into moderate irrelevance, I would beg you to think about researching the conservative movement in this country. If you've done a good job, you'll know that it is a movement that will eternally be fighting the institutional headwinds you already know exist (Media, Institutions of Higher Education) and thus cannot be burdened by the self-inflicted headwind that takes shape as the search for ideological purity. Hopefully when you come to terms with this as the reality of our burden, you will remind yourself that the conservative movement can only be moved through legislative action, and not from large crowds of people who scream from the sidelines.

I appreciate what you've brought to American politics, and you won't soon be forgotten. But the only way for you to stay relevant is to make better choices, both in terms of who you support and your oratory for the conservative cause as a whole. Do you need to support a Mike Castle? No, but you need to realize that those people with an "R" behind their name if elected serve the conservative movement far better than those who get elected with a "D" behind their names. 

Take some time to find yourself, the person who you really are, not what your time in politics has made you. Trust me, conservatives like myself fell in love with the Sarah Palin who was shocked to be called upon to run as VP, not the shameless, self-promoting human talking points purveyor you've become. Look at history, read Edmund Burke, read William F. Buckley, and spend as much time on the National Review as you do reading letters from your supporters.

If you don't make your way back, enjoy your life with your fantastic family in the beautiful setting in which you live. You have much to be thankful for, and I thank you for the lessons and zeal you have given me during your time in national politics.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why We Will Never See Gun Control That Works

Tomorrow the President will trot out in front of members of the news media and their television cameras with a large group of children, as he conveys his Executive Powers on the issue of gun control. Plenty of people who follow politics on a daily basis have submitted their thoughts on what actions the President will take, but who cares what they guess right? All that really matters is that he'll be giving the "speech" while using children to convey the image that they are the ones down-range of legal firearms.

As a gun owner, I cringe at the thought of any new gun restrictions or restrictions on the ammunition the guns require to work properly, but I equally cringe at the messaging on both sides of the debate. First up is my side. The NRA and "The Gun Lobby" have not struck the right notes with their tried and tested, but woefully inconsiderate "the best way to stop mad gunmen is more sane gun owners." Instead of having an honest debate about guns, gun safety, and yes, even some gun control, the gun advocacy groups tend to always re-direct blame in the wake of tragic events that involved gun violence. It's as bad or worse on the Left, who were the first to advocate strict new gun control measures before the country even had a body count on the Sandy Hook massacre. In general the Left's views on guns and gun control are born out of ignorance of guns and gun ownership which in my view, woefully puts their position at a disadvantage before entering in to any meaningful debate. Once they get there, their lack of understanding of our nation's gun culture (the various types of guns, and their use) makes it hard for a serious dialog to take place even with the most open-minded gun owners and their representation.

Accuse me of being an ignorant idealist, but it is my belief that the entire debate regarding the ownership or possession of firearms, regardless of type, capacity, etc would be greatly benefited if both extremes firmly acknowledged their positions. Gun proponents would thus need to openly admit and acknowledge that all guns, but specifically semi-automatic weapons which include handguns and tactical "Assault" rifles are machines designed with the purpose of inflicting death by their use. Additionally, gun proponents would need to acknowledge that their position is that the Second Amendment should stand completely, and any change to it is not acceptable. Gun opponents before anything else should acknowledge that they are opposed to the private ownership of semiautomatic and automatic firearms, period.  Additionally, the anti-gun side should be willing to acknowledge that a gun obtained through illegal means kills just as many people as one obtained legally. But above all the Anti-Gun Left should acknowledge this through transparent advocacy for the elimination and replacement of the Second Amendment with a new, 28th Amendment to the Constitution. And both sides need to agree that there is no conclusive evidence that gun restrictions or lack thereof have any impact on the prevalence of gun violence in our country.

Even if those idealistic parameters were satisfied (which I don't pretend to think they ever would be), the result of such a debate-should it take place in Congress with the idea of new legislation in mind, would likely be no action. The reason for that is simple.

There is a gun for just about every person in this country (about 350 million guns) with most estimates putting the number of guns per owner at around four. Even if we could get both sides of the debate to openly acknowledge that criminal use of firearms to kill people is a result of intent to kill, not the means to do so nothing short of a strict revocation of the 2nd Amendment followed by a nationwide effort to confiscate through an organized "buy out" program, the guns from the gun-owning public would work to dramatically reduce the number of murders committed by guns. Many in the anti-gun camp suggest this is doable as it was done in Australia in 1996 and 1997. The catch? The country had less than a million guns to collect. 

Make no mistake, whatever the President does tomorrow in terms of using Executive Authority to inhibit the rights of gun owners, current and prospective neither they or will any actions Congress chooses to take or not take will have a positive affect on gun violence in this country. The reasons are numerous, but the main reason is well detailed. The sheer amount of guns currently owned, the mindset of gun owners, and the possession of the knowledge that anything short of a detailed revocation of our Second Amendment Rights will do nothing to curtail mad men from obtaining the means to kill people.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Why Right Now Sucks

If I am being honest, I actually meant to have filled this page (and inevitably your Facebook feeds) dozens of times in the wake of the election. In fact I have come to my online word-processor and written in this space at least six times, but none have made it to publish, simply because I find myself rambling on whatever topic I chose to discuss.

Likewise, the severity and frequency of my medium-rare political Facebook posts have been effected for the same reason as why nothing has come from this page since the presidential debates. The election results knocked me down severely and though I have long since "gotten back up," the funk I am still in, leaves no end in sight. Right now, sucks. It's terrible, being a Republican is one thing, but I am more than just a Party hack, I am a conservative and right now sucks for me.

I haven't watched a glimmer of news since election day, and the primary reason for that is because I cannot stand to look at President Obama or hear him speak. I don't want to talk about him either. And I am not avoiding the news simply because of the President's re-election, no. I am avoiding the news because my funk is derived from the very real concern that I must spend the next four years living in a country with this President and his like-minds bloodletting this country, only to then hear about how I am a racist idiot for having such a concern.

As a result, it becomes highly unusual to remain a "Happy Warrior" because as I eluded to earlier, I've used the time since the election not to write, but to reflect, and such reflection has yielded only the negative connotations for the reality of our (we conservatives') past and equally poor connotations for our future. That is:
Conservatives never truly win. Those like me who want to see government constrained
have never seen such a goal realized. Our only victories come through "close losses." 
The largest reason for this is institutional, as even the brand we associate ourselves 
with, in the institution, only talk our game before their feet grow lukewarm and cave on 
our most important priority. 

As for our future, we conservatives (even those with institutional powers) are told to sit in "timeout" on the sidelines while the President and his institutional next-of-kin continue to re-sculpt our Republic through public policy designed to bring the sort of societal transformation where Social Justice and its child,"Equality of Outcome" mold our children's views on the role of the institution of governance. 

Right now sucks because the challenges we face as conservatives are very near. Those whose convictions would battle ours if given life, are attempting to expedite a challenge Tocqueville's wisdom. While the next four years will be four of the toughest years our country has faced in decades, the exceptionalism of our institution will inevitably prevail out of the darkness being cast upon it now. 

As conservatives, we have never fully tasted victory but we battle because we alone have the undying breeze of History at our backs. History proves that the path being traveled now by our President and his cajolers in Congress is unsustainable and when the dream of destroying our exceptionalism through an ever increasing largesse from the public treasury collapses in on itself, only we will be trusted to restore faith in the institutional privileges our Founding Fathers defied despotism to achieve. 

And that, is why right now sucks a little less. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Instant Reaction from Last Night's Debate

First I want to say that the "town hall" format may have made its last appearance, or certainly its last appearance for the time being. I don't know whether the pugnacious exchanges that began in earnest are a symptom of our politics in 2012, or more due to the fact that it is clear each gentleman has absolutely no respect for the other.

I thought Candy Crowley (and CNN by-proxy) did her (their) best to help Obama out. Practically all of the questions were softballs directed in the path of Obama, designed to put Romney on the back foot. Not to mention, a vast majority of the questions seemed unoriginal insomuch as they didn't exactly indicate "indecision" from those who were asking them. Her "help" on Libya where she asserted the President was "right" in calling the attack in Benghazi a terrorist attack, was inappropriate and devoid of the facts.

On the whole, I think the debate was a draw. Expectations were naturally low for Obama following the first debate, and while I think he did a markedly better job the second time around, he spent most of his time arguing against Romney, not laying out his vision for the next four years. Conversely, it was Mitt Romney who did the most looking ahead, though his best moments (and there were several-don't let the media fool you, today) were when he was prosecuting the President's dismal record over the last four years.

What should not get lost was the fact that though most "insta-polls" had given Obama the "win" in each of them, practically the same amount of people thought the debate was "a draw." I have come away thinking it was a draw-with Obama taking the style points, and Romney taking the points on substance.

I am not sure if last night will serve to shift momentum back into the President's favor. If anything, Romney did a good job in continuing to prosecute the President's record, even though that will get lost in media coverage today.

The President has to get to 50 percent support in polls in the swing states if he is going to win. Right now he's not really close, and Romney is gaining on him. I don't see last night's debate changing the current trajectory. The debate was feed for each party's base to chomp on, not much more.

The American voting public typically does not like to see its politicians verbally sparring with each other over anything, and that is all they got in last night's debate. There are 20 days left until election day, and I think this thing will go down to the wire, and I don't think the third debate matters much, if at all in shaping people's opinions of these candidates.

Bottom line? After last night, I think there are probably fewer undecided voters in America. The question is who those undecideds are breaking for...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Expectations and the Second Presidential Debate

Tonight, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will meet in New York for their second of three presidential debates. Since the first debate, Mitt Romney has erased the President's leads in almost every National Poll conducted this week, and has torn into Obama leads in several key swing states, even overtaking him in a few. So before tonight's "Town Hall" debate forum, where audience members will ask the candidates questions directly, each campaign is trying to manage expectations for their candidates.

For the Obama Campaign, the message seems to be simple: tonight, the President will need to be assertive in his answers to the questioners and resolute in his prosecution of any perceived "Romney falsehoods." Such expectations are admirable, but a town hall debate does not typically allow for candidates to go after one another's records. Town hall debates place an emphasis on  style more than substance. If Barack Obama spends the night lecturing the audience about his perceptions of Mitt Romney's message, he may do more damage to his likability. 

Flatly, the expectations for the President are nothing short of, "score a decisive win." Now of course, the win won't have to be that decisive because the press has been clamoring for something positive to report about the President since the hours before the first debate. I feel that if the President holds serve, most media outlets will treat mediocrity as a "win" in a thinly veiled attempt to resurrect the President's lifeless campaign. The consequences of a "loss" may be too widespread for the President to recover from, even with one debate remaining. 

Going slightly "outside the lines" of the Obama team's expectations for the President, I think there has been a largely unmentioned problem, and that is what the President actually has to do, to score the win tonight. The way I see it, his base wants him to go on the offensive against Mitt Romney, and call out some of his "lies"-really taking him to task over some of the assertions they feel Romney has been able to "get away with" since the last debate. While those less-ardent Democrats will want him to score the win on the merits of his answers alone. To me, that's two very different versions of what a "win" for the President looks like tonight. 

The problem with the former is monumental. The Obama Campaign, and the President himself take pride in his likability. They know that many of the President's support from independent voters lie on the fact that they perceive him to be generally, a nice guy and by-and-large do not want to see him "going negative" on Mitt Romney. The problem with the latter approach, is that the President will have to halt some of the momentum that has been at Romney's back for the last 12 days. In order to do that, he will have to draw a stark contrast between he and Romney, and do so with plenty of specifics, not all of which will come off as "friendly." Whichever route Obama decides to take tonight, neither will be an easy path to achieving a victory as perceived by the most important audience-the undecideds. 

For Mitt Romney, expectations are high for a completely different reason. His debate performance 12 days ago that has resulted in a huge surge of support that has born itself out in all of the recently polling data, has created the expectation that he can and should win tonight's debate. What Romney must do with his performance tonight is attempt to solidify all of the support he has received since the first debate. 

It will not be as easy as it sounds. He will likely have to "think on his feet" tonight, as he knows the tenuous position his opponent is in. The way Mitt Romney can do this is to make sure he quietly and calmly responds to any of the barbs that come is way from the President, in a respectful, but commanding nature. 

Mitt Romney has already laid the groundwork for a November upset with his first debate performance. He was able to cast himself as a likable leader, who is clearly fit to be the President. What he has to spend tonight doing is making sure people realize that the first debate was no fluke, that he indeed has the demeanor and know-how to be the next President. 

While many pundits have suggested that a town hall style debate benefits the more likable Obama, Mitt Romney needs to prove that he isn't the "Romney-bot" many of his opponents have spent months trying to cast him as. This presents a huge opportunity for Mitt Romney in my opinion. By getting to interact with voters directly, he can illustrate the compassion that few have gotten to see.

It seems as though the expectations coming out of the Romney camp before tonight's debate are all about the confidence they have in their candidate. Whereas the entire nation seems to know that the President must win tonight's debate, most seem to think that expectations for Romney are simply to deliver another solid performance, and let the chips fall where they may. Deep down, I think the Romney campaign knows that another decisive victory can start him down a clear path to victory on November 6, but they should be careful. 

For Romney, he must remember that there is another debate-that this is the second of three, and there is still the foreign policy debate which will play itself out in the gigantic cloud of "Benghazigate" that surrounds this White House. All Romney has to do tonight is continue the narrative that came out of the first debate-that he is an able leader, capable of handling our nation's biggest issues. 

If Mitt Romney can do that, even if the President gets some good shots in along the way tonight, the Romney campaign can see the second debate as one of the final "notches" in the proverbial belt on their way to the White House. If the President cannot score a decisive victory tonight in the eyes of the voters, not the Beltway Press, "Mittmentum" will become a snowball rolling down a hill, and it won't stop until about midnight on November 6. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why The GOP And The Dems Should Be Careful About The VP Debate

I'll admit it. When I found out in the wee hours of the night (morning?) back in August that Paul Ryan had been selected to become Mitt Romney's running mate, I was ecstatic. I could barely get to sleep. Not the least of the thoughts that crossed through my mind when thinking about "ah, the possibilities" was the fact that Joe Biden, the guy who has his foot in his mouth more than it isn't, has to debate "Rhetorical Boy Wonder." I was thrilled.

Obviously my glee at the prospect of watching the debate between the politician who has a political career that totals the years that his opposite number has been breathing air on this earth (42 years) was shared by many on my side. This prospect was also looked at with some concern by liberals and moderate-but-reliable Democrats and understandably so. But in the 2 months that have passed since the Ryan selection, only one side's feelings have changed.

It is Democrats who seem to be cautiously optimistic which could not have been said before their guy coined the phrase "Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive!" But since then, and the party conventions that followed, I've gotten the sense that Democrats are not exactly dreading this VP debate much at all. Conversely, Republicans tend to have hardly tempered the enthusiasm for this debate since the Ryan selection was made. Some on the "Professional Right" have definitely started to be less-boisterous about Ryan's rhetorical ability, but "the base" who look upon Ryan with adoration, have not wavered in their blood-lust excitement for this week's debate.

On the right, most believe that Ryan will win easily, as he has been well and truly crowned the best rhetorical orator-for-the-cause member of the Republican Party. The tend to think of Biden as his caricature, which he all to often plays into, and most in the GOP base believe that's the Biden who will be debating their young prince. They, and pretty much the majority on the right are making a grave mistake.

The Joe Biden that will be up on stage with Paul Ryan in Kentucky this week will not be the guy who jokes about ethnic stereotypes, or makes unforced rhetorical errors steeped in ignorance, it will be the Joe Biden that has been "doing this" for the same amount of time Paul Ryan has been alive. In 2008, he wasn't facing any sort of real competition in Sarah Palin, but he managed to show how adequate a politician he is. His years on some of the most esteemed committees in the Senate has built up a resume and a knowledge base that few in this country possess.

What's more is the fact that a debate stage will not "give way" to a Biden gaffe. The "silly" Biden who tends commit gaffes, typically does so when he is either incredibly comfortable in the environment in which he is speaking, or he's trying to relate something serious with something that is not serious. A debate stage brings nerves, but there isn't really another politician with the savvy Biden possesses, and I think that is already advantage Biden. Ryan will most assuredly be nervous, regardless of the amount of preparation he will have done.

So the right needs to be careful, and start thinking about this debate not in terms of how badly Ryan is going to beat the Vice President, but if he can score the rhetorical points we all think he can, while looking Presidential at the same time. The GOP excitable need to tamper their expectations because they are astronomical right now. They need to come down to earth and understand that Joe Biden isn't Joe the Plumber.

Oddly enough, I think the Left has begun to create terribly high expectations for the Vice President in this debate. I follow many of the "Professional Left" on Twitter and their views seem to be summed up in Howard Fineman's piece today. Their expectations have increased not because they think Biden was already up to the task of debating Ryan in a meaningful way, a way that can get to a clear cut victory, but because of the President's terrible debate performance against Mitt Romney last week.

Fineman essentially asserts that it will be Biden's job to erase the gains made by Mitt Romney in his debate against the President. Going as far to pontificate that it will be Biden's job to refute what the GOP Presidential candidate had said during the Presidential Debate. While many on the Left's expectations lack such specificity, that seems to be the general feeling on the Left-Romney's lies in the debate need to be rebutted and it starts with Joe Biden in his debate. While I think it's a good idea to make the case that what Romney said was incorrect politically, it cannot be lost on Team Obama that a debate performance is as much about style as it is substance.

What I mean by that is, if Joe Biden spends the better part of two hours answering questions posed to him or his counter part by talking about the Presidential candidate and not Paul Ryan, people will likely see that as a dodge of some sort or worse, political hackery.

It almost seems as though as the expectations from the left for Joe Biden in this debate have morphed from "We might want to watch through our fingers" all the way to, "Not only does he have to win, he's got to win and make up for the President's terrible performance as well." I'd tell them that the President still has two debates left to right his ship in that regard, Joe Biden will already be putting enough pressure on himself-and I think he thinks he will do well.

To both sides, I'd say we should all just forget expectations. We already saw where big time expectations can lead in the wake of the first debate. Let's watch, then analyze what could have, or should have been said afterwards.

Monday, September 24, 2012

When I'll Write Mitt Romney Off

Polls! They are everywhere, and it's nearly October of a presidential election year, so there is no need to explain why they saturate cable airwaves on a twenty four hour basis. What you see in them is simple. A glimpse into one small window of the electorate in the even tinier windowpane of time. It's no wonder then, why the numbers they produce are ever-changing and ever-conflicting with one another.

In the most immediate polling following the Republican National Convention, a poll or two had Romney at 49 or 50, beating the President by two. Since the Democratic National Convention was just days later, and was by all accounts far more well done than its counterpart, the president saw a decent four-to-five point bounce in the national polls that he was able to ride for about two weeks. A double-'gaffe' from Romney in back-to-back weeks didn't help his overall standing in the polling data nationally, but it didn't appear to hurt him much, either. In fact, it's likely that his comments regarding the Administration's fumbling of the policy around the attacks in Libya that killed four of our foreign service members may have helped level him off with the president following the phasing out of the DNC bounce.

Conventional wisdom around this time of election seasons is that "national polls don't really matter" and state polling data should be more heavily weighted. In that case, the President seems to be claiming leads or expanding leads in just about all of the recent polling done among the "swing states." Each poll varies in its sample size, sampling errors, and the demographics its samples, but I think it's safe to say that if the election were held on the best Tuesday of 2012 (my birthday, tomorrow) Mitt Romney would probably lose the popular vote something like 46-49 and would probably lose the electoral count 235-303. Luckily for the former Governor, the race still goes on, and election day isn't for another six weeks.

What I find funny is the amount of Democrats, and members of the media who have written off Romney's chances at the White House following the most recent trend in the polling. Perhaps since they both have had such a large hand in some of the outcomes of the polling (generally polling data this far out is only reflective of what those people are hearing at that moment) it's not very surprising that they're prepared to declare the race over. Now I could wring my hands of the things I wish the Romney campaign were doing differently, and I do think in their M/O of "Caution" during this campaign season--they are relying far too heavily on this being a referendum on the president rather than being "the choice" that takes us in a different direction, but I will not write his candidacy off. There are still six weeks left.

Six weeks is a long time in politics. There are exactly two jobs reports still to be produced for public consumption before the election on November 7. There are three televised debate on the major networks that still have to play out. There are several hundreds of millions of dollars still to be spent on negative advertising from both sides. Basically, all is still to play for.

I will admit, in the last six weeks, it's Mitt Romney that still has to make the uphill climb. President Obama is teetering on top of the hill. Somewhat surprisingly, the right-track/wrong-track polling is shifting in Obama's favor despite an economy that sputters along and the job forecast remaining bleak. Almost all of the polling demographics seems to favor a large Democratic turnout come November, basically the same Democratic turnout from 2008. I highly doubt that turnout will be as large as the polls seem to suggest.

Mitt Romney has two chances to help people visualize what a Romney presidency will look like. The first two debates will be crucial for him to separate his agenda from Obama's failed agenda, and the agenda he will hope to pursue if re-elected. His last chance will come as a result of things that are completely out of his control. I firmly believe that the crisis in the Middle East, and more on the forefront-the two remaining jobs reports can bring undecideds or wavering 2008 Obama supporters to his side on November 7.

The morning of election day, the election will probably be a foregone conclusion. No one in modern history has won the presidency going against the polling the day of the election. With the last jobs report coming the Friday before election day, the race could turn as late as Sunday. But for now, even though Romney trails by a handful of percentage points nearly everywhere, Obama's leads have not been mobile, and he is not polling above 50-percent anywhere. Surely, it's the President's to lose, but you won't hear me writing off Mitt Romney's chances until November 6th, if at all.