Monday, October 30, 2006

Election Predictions 2006

I thought today would be a good day to post my predictions for the 2006 elections to be held next Tuesday. I am going against the conventional wisdom that seems to be running through the media today. I am predicting a small gain in the House by Democrats, and maybe a 3 seat gain in the Senate. At the end of the day, the Republicans will control both houses again. I will be the first to admit that I am biased. I also believe that most of the polling agencies and newspapers are biased as well. I also think that pollsters haven’t figured out how to accurately predict voting patterns since Sept 11, 2001. Keeping all of that in mind, I think we won’t see much change at all in the make up of the new congress.

First, on the National Poll, the Democrats are currently polling at 52.7% vs. the Republicans at 37.6%. Since the United States doesn’t vote for the House or the Senate in a general, national poll, I think this number doesn’t even deserve to be reported. A better indicator might be the local polls. A few months ago, the local polls were showing the Democrats winning 30 to 40 seats in the House and a strong 8 in the Senate. Now, those same polls have tightened up enough to prompt some Democrats to wonder if the DNC will get either the House or the Senate.

Second, voter turn out is usually much lower in the mid terms. In the 2004 and 2000 presidential election, voter turn out was 64% and 50% respectively. However, in the 1998 and 2002 mid term elections, voter turn out was somewhere around 35 or 36% both years. What does this mean? Voters don’t get excited about voting in the mid terms. This is actually quite important, and it isn’t getting as much coverage as needed. Those who actively dislike Bush are going to vote Democrat. Those who actively dislike the Democrats are going to vote Republican. Going into this election cycle, the Republican Party has done a much better job of getting their base mobilized to vote. The Democrats need the middle group of voters; the group that doesn’t consider themselves Republican or Democrat. If there is a low turn out, which I think there probably will be, the Democrats are going to have trouble getting the votes they need. In the 2002 election, a little over half of the people that showed up to vote, voted Republican. If that holds true this time, the Democrats may pick up exactly zero seats.

Either way, if you follow politics at all, this November 7th will be an interesting day. Perhaps only the morning of November 8th will be more interesting.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Book Review: Bankrupt (part two)

As requested, here is a more in depth look at Bankrupt by David Limbaugh. If you haven’t read my first entry on this book, now would be a good time to do that. Domesticateddog asked for more information on the book, and I am always happy to comply with those who leave messages on my site. In order to keep the post small, I will try not to repeat the information from my first review of this book.

Mr. Limbaugh starts with the argument that today’s Democratic Party has no morals, and nothing to contribute to the political discussion of the day. He then uses quotes from many prominent Democratic politicians, and articles from different liberals in the media to support his point. He has broken the book into three sections entitled The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of the Democratic Party in the War on Terror, The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of the Democratic Party on Judges, Values, Race, and the Economy, and finally, The Roots of the Bankruptcy. As weighty as those titles sounds, the book is very easy to follow.

I am openly critical of the Democratic Party, and even I found quotes in this book that shocked me. I mentioned in my previous post that the book is extremely well researched. As an example, if you look up Nancy Pelosi in the index, you will find she is listed on 25 pages in the book. Some of the subcategories within her listing in the index are: George Bush, class warfare, Iraqi elections, Iraqi WMD, and values. In addition to the index, each chapter is meticulously footnoted. Many of the chapters have between 50 and 80 footnotes. Between the index and the footnotes, a skeptic could easily research if Mr. Limbaugh is taking any of the quotes out of context.

The book is 368 pages and as I mentioned earlier, is very easy to read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes to follow politics, or who wants to vote Democrat. I have enjoyed reading the book, and I mentioned that I had gone back to it a few times while researching political information. I wrote a blog on here about President Carter a little while back. As part of my research for that, I grabbed this book and thumbed through the President Carter quotes. I hope this helps, and if you are still not sure, buy it and tell me what you think of it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Book Review: Bankrupt

For my second book review, I thought I would mention a book I recently finished, Bankrupt, the Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today’s Democratic Party by David Limbaugh. I heard about it on the radio and decided to look it up. I was very interested in the book. After flipping through it and looking at the incredibly detailed index and source notes, I decided it was worth reading.

Mr. Limbaugh has decided to describe exactly what the Democratic Party is about, in the words of today’s leading Democrats. Throughout the book, the author describes the real opinions of Democrats like President and Mrs Clinton, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and many others. He uses public quotes the individuals made to illustrate each of his arguments. There are probably many people who disagree with Mr. Limbaugh’s assessment, but it is hard to argue with the words of the Democratic leaders themselves.

The quotations used in the book are extremely well researched. The index is thorough and easy to use. Since reading the book, I have referred back to it several times after reading statements made by certain Democratic leaders. The more you know about any candidate, Republican, Democrat, or otherwise, the better equipped you are to gauge how that candidate might (or might not) represent you.

No matter what your opinion is of the current DNC, you will probably find views you weren’t aware of in this book. Mr. Limbaugh discusses why the Democrats are accused of being against President Bush, even if it means harming Americans. With the challenges that face this nation, it is important to understand exactly where the candidates stand. Before you vote for a Democrat this season, I would encourage you to read this book.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Nuclear Accountability

In an effort to expand the discussion on this thread regarding North Korea, I wanted to discuss the theory of “Nuclear Accountability”. I hadn’t heard about this until I came across an article in the Washington Post. In his article, “We Need a New Deterrent”, David Ignatius describes nuclear accountability as the logical replacement of our current non-proliferation position.

Using this policy, if a dirty bomb of some sort goes off on our soil, the United States would test the area to find where the original nuclear material came from. Once the source was determined, the United States would respond against the original country with “…devastating force.” For example, North Korea gives material to Iran, and Iran gives this same material to Hezbollah to use in a strike against America. A dirty bomb explodes in New York. We test the area and find a nuclear signature of some sort pointing at North Korea. The United States would launch a retaliatory strike against North Korea as if North Korea had launched a nuclear missile against the United States.

I believe this is a good policy, if it is used within the frame work of other policies. Our foreign policy towards developing “nuclear nations” must start with and attempt to spread democracy and work towards nuclear non-proliferation. I am not a big fan of bribes from the United Nations, but we should be at the negotiation table, or have parties that we feel can negotiate successfully with that nation. We should structure any foreign aid to the developing nuclear nation so that our aid is dependent on measurable progress towards democracy. Democracies don’t make war with other democracies.

Should this fail, as it appears to have with North Korea, we should continue to push these ideas, but remind the world of our new nuclear accountability program. In order to keep Iran from joining the nuclear group next, both the United States and the United Nations need to have policies that have teeth against any state that thumbs their nose at the US or UN. Perhaps a clear accountability program, that the United States is willing to follow, is what is really needed to make Iran and North Korea rethink their current nuclear ambitions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Free, Democratic Elections in the Middle East

The Weekly Standard ran a news story on its website a week ago titled Democracy in Yemen. In it, Abigail Lavin reports that Yemen had free, democratic elections in September. The sitting President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, won. He won with 77.2 % of the vote. This is important. Mrs Lavin reports that most “elections” in the Middle East result in the sitting head of state receiving approximately 90% or better of the votes. This is usually because the elections aren’t true elections. In Saddam run Iraq, a voter could place their vote for anyone they wanted. Of course, if the voter didn’t vote for Saddam, they could be shot, raped, or worse. In Yemen, President Saleh opened the election to opposition parties and more than 20% of the voters felt safe voting for someone else.

A few days ago I posted a blog about a book called The Case for Democracy. The author of that book argues that how a nation treats dissent within its borders is an indicator of how democratic that nation really is. While Yemen still has a long way to go, allowing people to vote for a rival political party is a huge step.

Mr. Sharansky argues in The Case for Democracy that the United States must tie the spread of democracy to its foreign policy. Yemen lost its eligibility for incentives from the US because it was perceived to be failing in certain “…political, economic, and social issues.” Holding democratic elections is a step in the right direction. As democracy starts to take hold in the Middle East, the world becomes a safer place. Democracies don’t go to war with each other.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

UN Threatens to Slap North Korea on the Wrist Harder

Earlier today, the UN Security Council voted to impose harsher sanctions against North Korea. From the articles I have seen, this includes the following:

1) A complete ban on the sale of “luxury goods” to North Korea. That means no more lobster tail, fine cigars, or expensive wine for the “Dear Leader”.
2) A ban on the sale of conventional weapons to North Korea. This is limited to major conventional weapons.
3) A demand that North Korea immediately return to the six-nation talks.
4) A promise of no military action from the United Nations.

I am impressed that we actually got a resolution from the Security Council. China has already said it won’t impose the ban on its dealing with North Korea, but at least they voted for it. The US had wanted a ban on all conventional weapons. China and Russia weren’t willing to go along with the total ban, so the resolution was watered down. Ultimately, I am not sure either North Korea or Iran will be very deterred by this resolution.

I was listening to Rush Limbaugh this week. When talking about possible responses to North Korea’s nuclear test earlier in the week, he cited a John F. Kennedy speech about Cuba. President Kennedy (a Democrat) was telling the world what the US would do in response to a build up of nuclear weapons in Cuba. In part, President Kennedy said, “…It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” Rush said that this would be the equivalent of the US saying that any launch by North Korea would result in America flattening North Korea. I think he is wrong. I think the equivalent, and the message President Bush needs to send is this: Any nuclear weapon fired from North Korea at any ally of the United States of America or NATO, will result in a “full retaliatory response” on China.

That might be the only way to really get China on board with a non-nuclear Korean peninsula.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

President Carter joins forces with Kim Jong-il

I believe a certain amount of respect is due to anyone who is able to become President of the United States. I also feel when an ex-president goes to a foreign country like France or Germany and gives an interview critical of the sitting president and of America, that president tarnishes his own reputation. Having said that, I feel it is important to look at the editorial President Carter wrote in the New York Times today.

Mr. Carter states that the only way to resolve the current crises is for the US to run to the negotiating table with North Korea. Once there, the US would, ”…[give] a firm and direct statement of no hostile intent, and [move] toward normal relations if North Korea forgoes any further nuclear weapons program and remains at peace with its neighbors.” Before making a decision on the wisdom of this course of action, I think we should review a few facts.

In December of 2005 the Washington Times ran an article stating that North Korea had produced at least $45 million worth of high quality, counterfeit, $100 bills. Counterfeiting another countries currency is an act of war. This week, after a possible nuclear test, North Korea warned that any increased sanctions or pressure to stop its nuclear program would be seen as an act of war and North Korea will, “…take a series of physical corresponding measures.” These aren’t the actions of a nation that wishes to be part of the larger world community.

Any actions the US takes now will be seen by Iran. Should President Ahmadinejad ever get a nuclear weapon, he will expect the same reaction we now give to North Korea. President Carter would reward North Korea’s actions with a new round of negotiations between Kim Jong-il and the US. If we are to follow Mr. Carters recommendations, what reaction are we to expect from Iran over the next few days? A tyrant has no reason to treat a foreign nation or nations any better than that tyrant will treat his subjects. How would the current regime in North Korea deal with a differing opinion within its own borders from one of its own citizens? Why should we expect the North Korean government to treat any negotiated treaty with the US any differently?

Japan is currently proposing increased sanctions against North Korea. The Japanese appear to be ready to implement those sanctions by Friday, with or without the support of the international community. South Korea has spoken out against the test. Perhaps a better solution might be to seek further sanctions with the UN, participate in sanctions with the Japanese, and to strengthen our relationship with both Japan and South Korea. Kim Jong-il needs to be punished for his actions in open defiance of the world, and not rewarded for them.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Book Review: The Case for Democracy

From time to time I will post a message about a book I am reading or have read. I felt I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t start with a book I read earlier this year. I believe anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in foreign policy, the war in Iraq, or a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine should read The Case for Democracy : The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror by Natan Sharansky and Ron Dermer. I read it and thought it was simply an incredible book. Mr. Sharansky was a political prisoner in the Soviet Union during the 1980’s and, after being released, emigrated to Israel and spent nine years as a politician in a political party he helped to found.

Mr. Sharansky argues that it is in the best interest of the United States to promote democracy wherever it can. Many today claim that democracy can’t work in the Middle East. Some go so far as to state that Muslims don’t want democracy; that it is incompatible with Islam. Mr. Sharansky notes that critics used these same arguments in the ’40’s against democracy in Germany or Japan, and again in the ‘80’s against a democratic Russia. No one wants to live in fear.

Democracies don’t go to war with each other. Mr. Sharansky points out that at no time in history have any true democracies gone to war with each other. The constituents of a democracy only allow war as a last resort, and because of that, they don’t go to war with other democracies.

Regardless of how you feel about the current administrations decisions in Iraq, Afghanistan, or in the Middle East, reading The Case for Democracy will definitely give anyone insight into some of the reasons why those decisions have been made.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Foley Scandal, thus far...

Last night on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes show, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel said, “[the] fact that Mark Foley was gay should have raised questions about more innocuous emails.” I am a little amazed that this isn’t getting any coverage in the main stream media. I can understand why ABC wouldn’t want to air it. They have made a few mistakes with the Foley story in the last few days that now gives them a vested interest in it becoming a big deal. I am a little surprised some of the other news agencies and websites haven’t talked about it. I had to go to a few bloggers (including the Ace of Spades HQ) to find the exact quote after hearing about it on the Bennett in America broadcast this morning.

For a Democratic Strategist to get away with saying what Mr. Beckel said is unacceptable. Imagine if last night on CNN a prominent Republican had said something similar during a Democratic scandal. There would be members in the streets this morning burning Bush in effigy (as we all know, the Democrats believe everything in the world that is bad is somehow Bush’s fault). In stead, very few people even know this exchange took place.

What Foley did was creepy, and disturbing. If he had sent these emails to my son, I would have wanted the police involved. However, with the information we have seen as of the time of this post, no laws have been broken. The Pages he sent the IM’s to were of the age of consent at the time. The emails that have surfaced were creepy, but not illegal. Foley has shown an incredible lack of judgment, he has admitted he needs help, and he has left in disgrace. Unless something new surfaces, this is probably where the story should end. Foley has done the right thing by resigning.

Speaker Hastert has also done the right thing. He has asked, and is getting a full investigation. Unless something new and incriminating surfaces, Speaker Hastert shouldn’t resign. Much like Foley, he hasn’t broken the law. Nothing that has shown up suggests that the Speaker should have done anything more than what he did. If evidence shows up that he knowingly endangered any Page, then throw the book at him. If this evidence doesn’t appear, then anyone calling for his resignation either doesn’t know the facts, or is just trying to create an October surprise in time for the November elections.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Evil Two Party System

I was at a bar this week with a friend. My friend turned to me and said, “I have a problem with the whole two party system.” Anyone who has read editorials in their local paper, has listened to radio talk shows, or even watched a little CNN or Fox News has heard this before. I have read different people attack the two party system for different reasons, but I haven’t seen anyone discuss what I think is the real problem with both Republicans and Democrats.

I believe the two party system in and of itself works. I believe there is a problem when both parties stop being held accountable by the “voting public”. If a representative says something or votes on something that upsets his constituents, I believe his phone and email should get really busy really quick. I remember as a kid hearing people talk about writing letters to the Senator or Congressman, or even the President. I don’t hear that very often any more. How many people reading this right now could get in touch with one of their representatives in the next five minutes if they wanted too?

Until we start calling Democrats and Republicans both on the sunshine they try to give us, I don’t think they will change how they operate. I think both parties would be a lot better off if they had to think about how their constituents would respond if they said something inane in public, or voted for that next big Congressional pay increase.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hello and Welcome

Welcome to my site. This is my first time running a web blog, so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I decided to do this because I love talking about politics with friends and family (and anyone that will listen to me) and I feel more people should be aware of what is happening in the country and around the world.

I hope to post at least two or three times a week. If I find that people enjoy what I write, or like to post comments here, then I will post more often. If you don't agree with something I say, please, let me know. I think the best political discussion is two way.

I am trying to keep this one short, and I hope you enjoy the rest of them.