Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 Days of Obama 2: The GOP

The last election saw the Republican party beat down, cussed out, and given a wedgie by the electorate. And it was all well deserved. The party of the Contract with America became just like the party it had deposed. After the election, pundits spent a lot of energy and ink on what they need to do to return from the wasteland.

Did they listen? Signs suggest they might have done just that. The Republicans in Congress have worked hard to not just oppose but to counter-propose on just about every issue that's come up. They offered a different vision on the stimulus and on the budget and at least tried to have a conversation about the bailouts. Not that any of it had any impact.

Meanwhile some Republican governors have tried to highlight the difference in their approach to governing from the Washington Democrats by refusing at least some of the "stimulus" money offered to states. That's putting your money where your mouth is. And it will probably cost at least one of them his job.

Has it done any good? Not really. First, the media pays little attention to out-of-power Republicans. If their counter-proposals get no air time, they will be of little use. They're going to have to figure out a way to get their message out despite that. Of course, this is the age of the alternative media -- Fox, Drudge, blogs, twitter, etc; they should be able to make some headway, but they've got a lot of work to do.

Second, when they call the president or congressional Democrats on spending, the voters will rightly think them hypocrits. They are going to have to work very hard to earn back the people's trust -- or wait for the Dems to make such a mess of things that people are ready to vote for anyone who isn't a Democrat.

In the meantime, they should take every opportunity to remind the voters -- and the president -- of Mr. Obama's promises of bipartisanship. Of course it was just a campaign promise, but there are a lot of people who need to learn that Barack Obama is just another politician.

I give them a C+ for lots of effort with little results.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

100 Days of Obama 1: The President

So it’s the time when people rate how a president has done in his first 100 days in office. How can a conservative rate an unabashedly liberal president? Well, if it is done carefully, I think it can be done fairly.

The operative question is, “what did I expect”, or maybe “what did I fear?”

From that perspective, the Obama administration hasn’t been the train wreck it could have been. He’s allowed continuity with the last administration in handling the war, he hasn’t pulled the all the troops from Iraq, he’s increased the troops in Afghanistan, and he’s left wiggle room in the closing of Guantanamo.

Though he’s certainly not pro-life or pro-gun, he hasn’t pushed for FOCA or new gun controls. Yet. And many of his cabinet appointments are far less liberal and far more responsible than they could have been.

Beyond that, well, he’s a Democrat, so there have been few real surprises.

He ended the Mexico City policy and sort of funded ESCR. Well, he pretty much promised that up front. The European Apology Tour, though irritating, was hardly surprising. His “stimulus” was a typical liberal response to any problem – give money we don’t have to people who produce nothing and expand government power and influence.

The death of the post-partisanship wasn’t surprising – every politician claims to want to bring a new tone to Washington; the swing voters require it. The only surprise is that they still believe anyone.

The only real surprises have been the dismissing of corporate officers as if they were government employees (I really didn’t expect that kind of gall) and the administration’s passive approach to this new flu (of course, this is still fairly new).

If the rest of Pres. Obama’s term is as quiet as the first 100 days, we’ll be lucky. Broke, but lucky. Unfortunately all signs suggest he’s only getting started. My rating? C (You can decide whether that stands for "could be worse" or "conservative bias.")

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Headlines 4/28/09

4Specter says he's switching from GOP to Democrats
Inconvenient, but long overdue. Maybe now the Republicans can run a Republican for the Senate.

4US reaction to swine flu more muted than elsewhere
Serious question: Would it be the same if this mess was originating in Canada?

4Lawmaker wants border closed over swine flu
The one Democrat willing to put public health over politics.

4Evening Newscasts Have Covered Obama More Than Bush & Clinton Combined
Slobbering love affair or economic crisis? Why choose?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Punishing Experience

This weekend my wife and I rented Punisher: War Zone. We usually see superhero movies, so this was a natural for us to pick up.

The movie has a good story that draws you in and makes you care about the characters. It even manages to make the villain seem like a half-way decent guy at times causing some sympathy for him. The film made good use of the "new guy" character to give the viewer the Punisher's backstory without a slow lead-in origin story or an information dump at the beginning. With compelling characters, lots of action, and a couple of interesting, but not earth shattering, plot twists, all in all, it's pretty good drama and a fun story.

But all was not well. I'm casually familiar with the Punisher from my comic book reading days, so I expected it to be a bit rough, but I didn't expect what we got. The violence was unnecessarily -- even unrealistically -- gory. We're not talking slasher-flick levels, but still it was bloodier than it could have been -- clearly bloodier than the previous Punisher film.

Also, the language was completely unnecessary. In a movie about gangsters, you should probably expect an f-bomb or two, but its use was almost constant. We will occasionally watch movies that the kids might find scary and simply send them to play in their room, but for this one, I kept turning the volume down lest they should hear all the swearing. Absolutely, positively not family friendly.

Though we did enjoy the movie, if I'd had the good sense to read a review, I might not have rented this one. I certainly wouldn't do it again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What is Torture?

With the release of the "torture memos," the media is acting -- and has for years -- as if what is "torture" is obvious to everyone.

If a prisoner refuses to tell us what we want to know, do we just let it go?
"I'm pretty sure he knows where the bomb is, but he won't tell me no matter how much I beg, so I guess we're stuck."
Or do we try to convince him?

Most people would agree, "America doesn't torture." Some would make exceptions, but they definitely want them to be exceptions, not the rule. And it doesn't really matter who it's being done to, what they were doing when we caught them, or what we think they're going to do, before we decide what we're going to allow, we need to answer one fundamental question:

What is torture? How agressive do you have to be before it constitutes torture?

How far is too far? Let's don't pretend the answers to these questions are obvious.

Let me suggest a few guidelines:

4If it happens every day in football practice, it probably isn't torture.

4If it's something guys with Greek letters on their sweaters do to each other, it probably isn't torture.

4If it happens in boot camp, it probably isn't torture.

4If it involves non-stinging/biting insects, it probably isn't torture.

4If a Vanity Fair columnist voluntarily undergoes a procedure, it probably isn't torture.

Removing tongue from cheek, though, what is torture?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Headlines 4/17/09

= Obama aims to get dread out of tax deadline day
...with a simpler form:
1. Enter gross income ______
2. Send to IRS

= Obama to seek ratification of arms treaty with Mexico
Because new gun laws are easier than controlling the border.

= EPA finds greenhouse gases pose a danger to health
Now we can have ruinous anti-CO2 laws without all of that silly democratic debate.

= "Bailout" spending in historical perspective:
It boggles the mind.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Maritime Justice for Pirates

"Sharpshooters firing from the fantail of a U.S. Navy destroyer killed three pirates holding an American cargo-ship captain in a lifeboat, ending a five-day ordeal that unfolded amid a surge in piracy off Somalia’s coast."

After two years of talking about the intrinsic good of multilateralism and his recent European apology tour, my hopes for a show of strength from Pres. Obama were low, but I'm pleased to see that when push came to shove he didn't call the lawyers or the Security Council but the SEALs. God bless him, those SEALs, and Capt. Phillips.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama BOWED to Saudi King?!

You can't make this stuff up.

Pres. Obama bowed to Saudi King Abdullah at the G20 meeting.

It's about 50 seconds in. (Click here to see on YouTube.)

When did American presidents start bowing to foreign kings? I'm almost certain we fought a war to stop that practice. I've resisted the trend to combine the president's name with the word amateur, but this almost begs for it -- and that's being charitable.

(HT: Michelle Malkin)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Headlines 4/2/09

Hmm it's been a while. Things appear to be slowing down finally.

=Obama tax pledge up in smoke
Along with his pledges on postpartisanship, transparency, and fiscal responsibility, but who's counting?

=Oh, apparently him: The President Is 'Keeping Score'
So are we, Mr. President, so are we.

The Obama ego:

=What Does One Get a Queen?
The gift of O, apparently. A narcissist's ipod: pictures of you and speeches from me.

=Military strained by Obama trip
Because you can't go to a summit without taking the entire population of Washington.
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