Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm Getting Out Of California Before Civilization Collapses on Monday

Well folks, it looks like gay marriages start in California on 16 June and boy am I glad I'll be safe and far away in El Salvador. That's right - on Friday I leave for El Salvador, a land where the country's Catholic and Pentecostal faithful will make no allowance for such immorality, which must be why El Salvador is a land known for security and prosperity.

So on 16 June, as the first gay vows are exchanged and civil order collapses, and chaos reigns and Californians tear and devour each other's flesh, just rest assured that your fearless blogger will be safe in El Salvador.

Disclosure: I really will going to El Salvador on Friday, so you really may not hear much from me over the next two weeks. I really do not think I will return to California to find a a silent, debris-strewn wasteland (28 Gays Later? Sorry, I couldn't resist, and it's my blog anyway.) Apparently that's what some people (Dobson and about five other guys) think will happen. They're still not quite clear on the details of the homopocalypse, but they can post below if they like.

As a conservative, I believe countries run best when people are for the most part allowed to make choices about their own lives rather than being told by their government what to do. Being able to marry who you want to is about the most important choice you'll make in your life. And Republican judges agree with us progressive conservatives too. Think I'm missing the point? I invite you to make your case below.

Tim Pawlenty: Presumptive VP?

Pawlenty's hit rate in the GOPVP Index (i.e. Google News search on "McCain [potential VP surname]") jumped from 813 from 6 days ago to 1143 as of 10 minutes ago, a 41% jump. Jindal was up from 2,494 to 2,727 (9%).

Pawlenty would be another excellent choice, and I would love to see another real Nixon-Reagan Republican jump over Jindal and make him less attractive as a VP contender, because I want McCain to win. Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic even goes so far as to say Pawlenty "is probably going to be McCain's running mate".

Chavez Knows His Game in Colombia Is Up

Chavez is a thug, but he's not a total moron. This is the reddest-handed he's been caught so far directly supplying FARC, the narco-guerillas who effectively hold part of what says "Colombia" on maps. Recall that there was a threat of war between Colombia and Venezuela more recently, before, because it was discovered that Venezuela was directly financing Colombia rebels - and that was announced by Interpol, not the U.S.

Why the antagonism against Colombia? Colombia has an American-friendly government, and Chavez has made his career by building an anti-American axis in Latin America, with Cuba, and to a lesser extent Bolivia and Ecuador, though you don't hear Evo Morales spewing foaming-at-the-mouth anti-US rhetoric like Sr. Super-Peligroso Chavez. Chavez may score points in some quarters with his one-liners but most of the time they fall flat, as in the time my personal favorite monarch King Juan Carlos of Spain told Chavez to shut up on live television last November.

In Venezuela Chavez has "liberated" his people from U.S. influence by doing things like, for instance, making it illegal to criticize him (ask his ex-wife) or publish embarassing statistics about his destruction of the economy. It also means being one of the few nations to support China's purges in Tibet that wasn't a direct Chinese satellite state. In any event, after this latest fiasco, Chavez knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on, and what's more knows it's clear he's behaving more imperially with other Latin Americans than the evil Americans. So at the drop of a hat he hangs FARC out to dry and backs off his de facto invasion of Colombia. If I were a Latin American who had admired Chavez for his stand against U.S. imperialism, I would start to wonder whether Chavez was driven by actual Bolivarian, pan-Latin idealism, or just cynical self-aggrandizement. After all, Japan had its "Asia for Asians" policy in the early 1940s, and we saw how well that worked out for China, Korea and the Philippines.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another Voice of Reason Questions Emperor Obama's Clothes

In the Economist:

For what America's voters, and the world's fascinated spectators, have not had so far is much of a policy debate. Yes, there were bone-aching arguments between Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton as to whose plan for health care would work best. And yes, Mr Obama refused to endorse Mrs Clinton's bad plan for a gas-tax holiday. But on the whole, it has been a policy-light contest for the simple reason that there was very little to choose between the two Democrats either on domestic or on foreign policy. Small wonder, then, that the Democratic race focused on character more than content.

And also, this excellent blurb about McCain:

And the end of [the GOP primary process] was surely the right result. In John McCain, the Republicans chose a man whose political courage has led him constantly to attempt to forge bipartisan deals and to speak out against the Bush administration when it went wrong. Conservatives may hate him, but even they can see that he offers the party its only realistic hope in November.

Very Telling: The Words of a Hillary Democrat

The SF Chronicle interviewed Hillary supporters to see if they would have any trouble switching to Obama. One Hillary Democrat they interviewed was described as a "government budget analyst", someone who (even if a Democrat) is likely to base positions on facts and figures, not sentiment. Her statements reveal the problems his camp will face once he's getting hard, substantive numbers-and-facts questions from conservatives:

The thing when Barack preaches about change, he never says what change he's talking about. So when Hillary talks about change, she has real solutions and real goals. Barack talks about change as an abstract, ethereal, moving idea, without solid points. And John McCain can talk about change as well with solid points, without this fluid idea that hasn't really coalesced into anything real.

Clinton was "the most qualified candidate that's come out of the Democratic camp," and said she is "saddened" that Obama is the nominee because he is "not equipped to lead our nation. It has nothing to do with his age. It's his inexperience and naivete."

For the whole article go here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

U.S. Diplomats Detained and Badgered by Zimbabwean Forces

And these are the guys that China is shipping guns to? The real question is, are we even surprised? Maybe this little situation will wake up Americans to the behavior of a dictatorship that's becoming China's favorite colony in Africa (after Angola). "...[US diplomats] were stopped at a roadblock just north of Harare, the capital, [State Department spokesman] McCormack said. The U.S. ambassador in Zimbabwe said police slashed tires and grabbed phones, and that 'war veterans' threatened to burn the vehicles with the officials inside."

I'd previously pointed out how Robert Mugabe, as he welcomes colonization (and ships filled with guns) to Africa, is doing his best to make Zimbabwe into a real-life Legion of Doom, playing host to legitimate villains like Mengistu, who he recently refused to extradite to Ethiopia for war crimes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama: Style Over Substance

This, in an AP article that the SF Chronicle carried:

"The [world's] excitement was less about Obama's foreign policies — which remain vague on many fronts — than a sense that the candidacy of a black American with relatives in Africa and childhood friends in Asia marks a historic moment. 'He has a very appealing persona — elegant, fluent, strings lots of sentences together into paragraphs. But in terms of (his) actual policies towards the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, China, Europe — actually, we don't know.'" Reminding anyone of an idealistic Jimmy Carter?

Where foreign policy is concerned, we need more than eloquence. We need experience.

The most ominous quote in the article to me is: "A Chinese scholar said that while he did not expect major changes in U.S. foreign policy, an Obama White House would have a very different tone to a Bush one. 'He will bring new energy into America's domestic politics and foreign policies,' said Zhu Feng, deputy director at the Center of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University in Beijing. 'It's a good choice for the Democrats.'" Doesn't it give you a little pause when orthodox Chinese political scientists are praising your candidate? One wonders if the candidate is, perhaps, Manchurian.

On a lighter note, my wife likes to say that Obama would be a great talk show host, which is to say, not a great president.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

So: Another Embarrassing Ballot Measure Thanks to California Fundamentalists

So, the Extend Government Interference Into Married Life Act will officially be on the California ballot in November. Perhaps I'm misguided, but I fantasize that once, just once, before this decade is out, the GOP will put a measure on a ballot that isn't an irrelevant molehill-made-mountain put on there to shop for votes from the paranoid and unstable elements in the party. And I'm getting a little nervous that McCain keeps using all the right social-conservative code words (in this case "judicial fiat"); I keep telling myself he's just winking at the extremist wing of the party to keep them quiet.

If you don't click through to this editorial, just read the closing sentence of the article: "Since [Prop 187 was overturned] only one Republican candidate has won a statewide election for president, governor or U.S. senator in California. That lone GOP exception is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which may be why he categorically opposes the Marriage Protection Amendment." Maybe we shouldn't assume these kinds of ballot measures are good for conservatism.

3 Reasons Why Choosing Jindal for VP Would Be a Disaster

1) Bobby Jindal is a willing and vocal mouthpiece for the anti-education and anti-medicine lobbies and he's more than willing to sacrifice America's technological edge in international trade for some wishy-washy bleeding-heart moral agenda. That alone should be enough to convince anybody.

2) Bobby Jindal is an extremist (and an elitist Rhodes Scholar to boot, just like Bill Clinton). If John McCain is going to beat Barack Obama, he needs the center. With Jindal, they flee to Obama in droves. With Jindal, I flee to Obama. Yes, it's that bad. On the other hand, the religion-as-government maniacs will either vote for McCain or not vote at all. They're not going to vote for Obama if McCain picks a VP they don't like. (Want to see some hilarious religious extremist belly-aching?)

3) And (most offensively) if anyone has the thought that "If we have a minority guy on the ticket, then minorities will automatically divide their vote between him and Obama" - forget it. It doesn't work that way, and people will see through it.

So, John: by all means have Jindal stumping for you. Have him raising money for you. But for God's sake don't have him on the ticket.

One Way of Measuring VP Interest

There are doubtless many better predictors of who McCain might pick as VP than who comes up more frequently on a Google News search with McCain [potential VP surname], and of course how prevalent the person is in the news even separate from VP rumors will affect the total. But these numbers are interesting nonetheless:

The short-list:

Romney (good guy): 6,081

Crist (good guy): 2,781

Jindal (very bad guy): 2,494
(Interestingly, fewer hits than McCain Lieberman! Perhaps Americans aren't as swayed by a McCain-Jindal ticket as extremists would have us believe?)

Honorable mentions - good guys:

Rice: 1,809

Pawlenty: 813

Ridge: 533
(Non-quantitatively, I've sensed a recent uptick in Ridge mentions relative to the others)

Fiorina: 433

Richard Burr: 385

Rob Portman: 141

Honorable mentions - bad guys:

Lieberman: 2,600

John Thune: 354

K. B. Hutchinson: 289

Mel Martinez: 287

Mark Sanford: 178

Haley Barbour: 75

Sarah Palin: 50

So, if I'm John McCain, here's my problem: I have to win the center and a few key states (like Florida) if I want to beat Obama, but I can't risk alienating the religion-as-government wackos too much (who don't seem to understand that not voting for McCain is the same as voting for Obama - great thinking guys!)

So, if I were McCain, I would start leaking rumors that I'm going to pick someone who's not even pro-life (like, say, Tom Ridge). The anti-education, anti-medicine special interests start foaming at the mouth.

Then when I pick Charlie Crist, he doesn't seem so bad.

Bob Barr, Carpet-Bagger Extraordinaire

I've never been so disappointed with the Libertarian Party as I am right now. I just came from the California June Primary where I voted for the one LP candidate on the ballot, but that's not why.

In its better days, the LP has provided a voice for progressive-minded conservatives who felt the GOP had been hijacked by a small group of special interests, destroying free market capitalism under the guise of a moral agenda. By providing a home for that huge number of Americans who want limited government intrusion in our economic and moral lives (perhaps a silent majority?) the LP has always had the potential to be a spoiler - which, despite what grumblers in the media may say, is a good thing - because it forces the heads of the two major parties to at least consider incorporating the interests of real Americans that have boiled over into third parties, lest a smooth victory be threatened by third parties splitting their vote. This is what smaller third parties do. They might not be able to put someone in the White House, but they can certainly send messages to the parties that do. Just ask the Democrats. In 2000 Gore lost Florida by what, 5,000 votes? Nader got 90,000. Nader was never going to the Whitehouse, but the Dems knew after that that the Greens had them by the short-and-curlies.

Unfortunately, the Barr-Root ticket that the LP has selected serves neither as an alternative voice to the special interest/moral agenda crazies on the far right fringe of the GOP (because until 24 months ago Barr was one of them!), nor does this choice serve as a means to force either party to sit up and take notice of issues they'd rather ignore. I'm 100% in favor of the LP continuing to accept Republican and Democratic defectors, but sometimes those defectors really are just carpet-bagging careerists, and Bob Barr is a much more ham-handed carpetbagger than most. I'm also quite happy for politicians to change their positions when new facts become available to them, but Barr's recent conversion to Libertarian stances on some of the LP's traditional but superficial issues (like marijuana legalization) is a little too well-timed.

In short, all the LP in its current position can do is lose the election for McCain, WITHOUT challenging the major parties to adjust any of their positions, because Bob Barr and the people who voted for him are largely GOP refugees fresh in from wrecking that party with their irrational agenda. Bottom line to progressive conservatives: 2008 isn't the time to vote Libertarian, because it'll lose the election for McCain, and the LP hasn't put a progressive conservative on its ticket anyway.