A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

November 11, 2008

Thank you Veterans

Another Veteran’s Day.

As a public employee I am off today.  This is one Federal Holiday I feel I have earned.  I am a veteran and am proud of my service to my country.  However, I realize that that sentiment should be replaced by another.  I am a veteran, and I am lucky to be one. 

I learned that sentiment from my son. 

My son is said something along these lines shorly before he left to serve you, his fellow citizens in the United States Army.  More on that later.

I am not a great family historian, but I do know that my family has served its fellow citizens by serving in our nation’s armed forces.  I could become at this moment altruistic, but I won’t.  They served for their own reasons.  I could also wax utopian and have the attitude that service in the military is not a good thing because war is evil.  Of course war is evil, and so service in the military is not a redeeming panacea that frames human character.   Serving in the military has as a goal ending the life of an enemy, so any military service is a necessity of evil.  The word necessity should be the word which catches our eyes.  In case any have unrealistic fantasies out there, it’s a rough world out there, filled with people who don’t like us – and I write this knowing that the “thems” in their own context are an “us”.

I will not at this time go too far afield and talk about patriotism.  Let me just give the short version and say that one of the most maddening phrases, songs, and attitudes I hear is the one “Proud to be an American”.  It’s not because I disagree with the policies of our country, overly lament the national errors our forebears have made, nor disagree with the concept that America on the whole has been a force of good.  I just think the statement is stupid.  One has no basis to be “proud” of something they had no control over.  I’m happy or lucky or even blessed to be an American would be a much more accurate and intellectually honest statement.  My son’s statement back this summer reminded me of that.

My relatives have served our nation from their arrival in the 1840’s.  From the Civil War, World War One and Two, Vietnam and today my family members have worn the uniform.  I am lucky that I have such people in my family who sacrificed so that our nation was torn in two was sustained.  I am lucky that today when there are many who still do not wish our nation well, my son in his words, “gets to stand up for his country”.

I also was lucky to serve, but my service pales when I consider that my Uncle Peter Smith served as a Doughboy in France in World War One.  I am shamed of my “pride” in my own service when I consider that my grandparents had four sons – my Uncles Jim, John, Frank and James – all serving in World War Two.  I can’t imagine the daily prayers, hopes put on hold, and fears that they experienced, until recently when I have begun to have maybe a concept of what they faced.  My Uncle Jim’s vessel was torpedoed three times in World War Two, my Uncle Frank was 17 years old when he was a casualty at Omaha Beach spending much of the rest of his life in pain reliving that horrible day from his adolescense, my Uncle James spent much of his 20’s island hopping while in the USMC, including involvment in Bloody Tarawa.  When faced with this level of service to their country, my “pride” is indeed pathetic, and I indeed was lucky to have served as a Paratrooper. 

My son enlisted this past summer.  In his words, he is lucky.  My son had many stumbles as an adolescent, and like many parents today, I was impotent to stop him on his own path to ruin.  Luckily for me when he was spiraling downward, he and my wife caught him.  God was also most kind to my son, and my son much to my joy recongizes the mercy that was given to him.  However, my son did not have a clear direction and needed one.  He had also done many things that while forgiven, only time could heal the wounds and the breaches of trust done to them.  This was a real family crisis.  There were little places he could turn.  At 19 he knew he didn’t want to go to college.  He also knew that he didn’t want a job working at a deli, Walmart, 7-11 etc.  He considered moving to the Midwest with his mother, but didn’t wish to do that either.  In the past he would have run from his responsibility.  I also knew I had to help him. 

I picked him up one morning and laid out the thin options he had before him.  I added one, that I don’t regret, but knew that doing so, was not without risk, and mentioned service in the armed forces.  I told him I would go with him to the recruiter and asked him to respectfully listen to what they said.  He shocked me when he said he would do so.   Even though I had been in the Army I mentioned the Coast Guard, Air Force and Navy.  I am sure that you all know why I would mention these first.  He said, No, but he would visit the Marines and Army recruiter.  I said that the Guard or Reserves would be a good option.  He was silent.

We went to one recruiter.  My son, despite his lack of belief in himself qualified for every MOS offered by the Army.  Many of these had lucrative bonuses and sounded as if they were made for my boy.  My boy who would drive me wild with his shouts of joy and anger as he played Gears of War and Ghost Recon – becoming one of the best in the gaming world at them.  He listened, respectfully and said “No”.  I broached the Reserves and the Guard, he was faster than the recruiter when he said, “No”.  In six months I’ll be in the same boat as I am today.  Even the recruiter was silent for a moment at that one.

When he asked what he wanted to do he looked at the recruiter and me and said, I want to do what m dad did.  I want to jump out of planes and be a real soldier.  I have never felt such pride and fear in my life at a statement.  You see, although I belatedly realized that I am lucky to have served in the Army, and yes as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, I believe that my son was proud of me.  I asked him if he was sure.  I mentioned all the things that he could do with his ability scores.  My son who is as stubborn as I am replied, “If doing that was good enough for you, it’s good enough for me”.  I will admit that tears filled my eyes upon hearing that.  Tears of fears and of gratitude, that my son was indeed proud of me.

One day shortly before he departed for basic training, AIT and Jump School we spoke.  I told my son how proud I was of him for his decision to serve his country in a tough time.  He didn’t say much and then looked at me.  “Dad”, he said, “I’m lucky”.  I’ve screwed up my life a lot, but now I get to serve my country.”.  Even as I reflect upon this months later I am moved by his thoughts. 

I will echo them.

I am lucky that I was given the opportunity to serve my country in some small way.  I have been repaid richly for the minor investment I made.

I am lucky that I was born into a family who like thousands of other families in our nation demonstrated courage and a willingness to serve their country.

I am lucky that I have a son who also serves his country.  I will also be proud of him and his choices. 

Those who may come upon this post, please also reflect upon how lucky you are. 

I also ask you to join me in a daily ritual that I have as I ride to work, I pray for my son, and for thousands of other sons and daughters.  I pray that those who have wives and children will be kept emotionally close to them as they serve me.  I pray that God will be merciful to my son and the other sons and daughters who are indeed volunteering to be in harm’s way – for my safety.  I pray for my wife and my son’s mother (that one is not always an easy prayer) that they will be at peace with their child’s choice.  Then  I offer a prayer of gratitude that I amso lucky to have such people as our fellow citizens, our neighbors, our parents and grandparents, and our sons and daughters that watch over me.

Proud – not really.  Lucky – most definitely.

November 9, 2008

Opinion: Why President Elect Obama Won

Here is my analysis of a few key factors that elected our new President.  First just a few points.  This was not a landslide, not even close.  While Mr. Obama has in my view a clear mandate, he still has 46% plus who remain unsold.  However, gathering 52% is a good sign for his administration.  Secondly, statistically speaking he did NOT inspire people to vote more than in past elections.  The percentage of the voters relevant to total population was statistically insignificant in 2008 than 2004 and 2000. 

1) Ability to stay on message.  This is called by Jim Collins “The Hedgehog Principle”.  Hedgehogs in the business and political world have the ability to stay focused and on message.  They know what they do well and they make that their selling point.  The Obama campaign was highly disciplined.  Other than the occassional gaffe that he made against certain radio show commentators, which hurt him in all probability, the campaign, also helped by media which did not press the stories, would not allow themselves to be taken off their message, which was simple.  The message was, things are bad, we can bring about change.  The changes sought were tied to the current dissatisfaction the country has with the Bush Administration, but was generally short on details.  This was picked up by many as being vapid.  However, give credit to the Obama Campaign handlers.  They made a choice to keep him away from town hall venues and press interviews where he could be hurt.  I believe his relatively poor performance at Saddleback showed their wisdom in this and solidified their resolve not to let events they couldn’t control, such as the economy alter their message of change.  If anything they took the events handed to them and used the events to be an echo of a broad theme.

2) The financial debacle.  One of the things that in contrast to Sen. McCain’s reaction of “I must do something” was that the Obama handlers used the event to broadcast their theme.  This was in disregard to many of the inconvenient facts – the much of the problems of the banking mess were caused by policies created under President Carter and greatly expanded under President Clinton.  The correlation picked up by some in the media – mostly print – of ties to Fannie and Freddie and high ranking Democrats never was picked up.  Obama stayed out of the fray but framed the fray to buoy his premise that “change is needed”.  It worked.  While the crisis was not cooked by campaign, the decision to stay outside the mess initially showed him being detached, and that is not always a bad thing as it is more objective.  Many polls showed that McCain was gaining traction and had a slight lead up to this point.  This was caused in part by some slips by the Obama campaign, the momentum of the GOP Convention – which was effective, and the initial excitement of Sarah Palin into the foray. 

3) Ability to appear credible.  Sen. Obama’s largest hurdle was to keep the excitement of his base, youth and left to left of center Americans and expand his credibility to John and Mary Q. Public who are Center to Center Right.  America was seen, and most identified themselves as “Conservative”.  There is one bit of news that shows this to be true, at least socially.  California’s repudiation by the voters of same sex marriage – in a year where the left and center left continued to show their appeal over right and center right candidates by a 15% point margin – indicates that even among “blue states” there is a cultural position of maintaining the status quo.  Although he fared badly at Saddleback, and any objective reporting of the event along with the shift of pubilc sentiment alludes to that, the fact that Sen. Obama was visibly comfortable with the Evangelical community is important.  There is a reason.  Although politically many ” ‘Black’ Evangelicals” are left and left of center, culturally many of them are right of center – to include school reform (vouchers, NCLB) and most notably views on homosexuality  This allowed those Evangelicals who are more Centrist and whose interpretation of their Christitanity leads them to value social activism and bread and butter issues highly – such as The Soujourners – to ally with Mr. Obama.  Obama also showed a shift – and it was a major one – during the debates.  Stating that “conditions on the ground” would dictate American policy in Iraq was startling and far more hawkish than anything he or any other Democrat had said during the primary season.  This combined with his statements of expanding the war in Afghanistan and putting pressure on Pakistan took away the “wimp factor” in many.  Mr. Obama’s shifting to the center from the hard left of the Democratic base is as old as politics.  Run to your base in the primary, tack to the mainstream in general election.  It will be interesting to see how he governs.

4.  Weariness of the Bush Administration.  This is the real reason why Sen. Obama won the election.  I will not offer conjecture if Sen. Clinton would have fared better, but I think it would have been about the same.  By all counts this was the nation speaking with their ballots of their dissatisfaction with Iraq policies and the numerous failures of the Bush Administration – and there are many to bring to light.  The Bush Administration started losing this election with their victory in 2000.  Fifty percent of the nation was not happy with that result.  President Bush did enjoy many political and policy victories.  NCLB will remain with the nation in some form for many years.  Efforts to change the political and social framework in Africa will also remain.  Also, it is likely that US policies in the Middle East will remain in some form and that the “War on Terror” will be funded with many of the policies once opposed by the Dem base suddenly accepted.  The NYT reported about GITMO on Wednesday and it was amazing how suddenly GITMO was no longer the first level of Dante’s Hell.  
However, the many debacles of the Bush Administration including the handling of the Iraq War after the initial objectives had been achieved, the perception and reality of the “out of touchness” that the President had whether it was by not listening to then NSA Rice message to “Get back to DC NOW” or the realities and perceptions of the sluggishness of federal response to Katrina.  Throw in the perceptions of ABU and you get the picture.  Most reasonable people understand that the POTUS does not have a big say in economic trends.  They either benefit or take blame from the markets, but what Presidents can do is frame perspective.  Whether or not the latter is Mr. Bush’s fault – although many have viewed him as a “lame duck” since ’06, the people’s loss of confidence in the outgoing administration was in many ways deserved.  Sen. McCain had to fight against a skilled opponent and his own Party’s brand label.  Even Sen. Obama wouldn’t have been able to overcome those factors.

Summary:  All of this is prologue.  The interesting part to watch will be to see how Mr. Obama governs as President Obama.  If a President Obama is able to do as well as he did with the first three points in his administration it will likely enjoy success and populrity.  However, he won’t have George Bush to kick around after the first few months.  The onus will be on him and Congress to truly bring about policies that unite America.

I also believe he will shift back towards the left from the smaller moves he had made to the Center.  In many ways he should if you believe as I do he had a mandate.  The media and the Dems were correctly criticial of the Bush Administration – particularly from ’00 to 06 in not being inclusive.  I have a feeling the same will happen, and in some ways that troubles me as I am more Centrist than either the Bush or forthcoming Administration will be.

While I don’t believe he will make the US a “Socialist” country, I would be shocked if policies that favor Big Government a la New Deal and Great Society are not reintroduced.  There are other concerns that are shared.  Mr. Obama’s declaration of a “Civilian Defense and Security Force” equal in footing and funding to the US military is as vague as it is troubling.   I also think that this administration will be as partisan as President Bush’s was partisan, as President Clinton’s was partisan.  

Some things won’t change.  That is something you truly can believe in.

May 17, 2007

Senate Bill to Defund Fails – Backed By DEM POTUS Candidates

From the AP.

WASHINGTON — Anti-war Democrats in the Senate failed in an attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq war on Wednesday, a lopsided bipartisan vote that masked growing impatience within both political parties over President Bush’s handling of the four-year conflict.

Don’t you love it when news reports editorialze. Make up your mind if you want to report or offer commentary!

The 67-29 vote against the measure left it far short of the 60 needed to advance. More than half the Senate’s Democrats supported the move, exposing divisions within the party but also marking a growth in anti-war sentiment from last summer, when only a dozen members of the rank and file backed a troop withdrawal deadline.

“It was considered absolute heresy four months ago” to stop the war, said Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, author of the measure to cut off funds for most military operations after March 31, 2008.

While there is a rise in the sentiment towards defunding and withdrawl, it seems that the Democratic Congress and Senate are still torn in two between a growing shift towards the hard left of their base, which is for immediate withdrawl “by any means necessary” and those who seem to have managed to have kept some level of sanity and understand that an immediate withdrawl would be a disaster of the highest order for the United States from a policy standpoint within the region, as well as for Iraq in its struggle to come to some semblance of order.

Ironically, the vote also cleared the way for the Democratic-controlled Congress to bow to Bush’s wishes and approve a war funding bill next week stripped of the type of restrictions that drew his veto earlier this spring.

If this does develop, it will be a fairly large political victory for the Administration. While the sentiment against a prolonged stay in Iraq is strong and rising, at the end of the day – or at the end of the Bush Presidency – it is still very likely that the United States will have troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Once the US invaded, it owned the problems of this country, and it there is no reason to believe that just as there are troops in Kosovo, South Korea, and Germany long after our military engagement ended, the same, for better or worse, is true about Iraq.

Democrats vowed in January to force an end to the war, and nowhere is the shift in sentiment more evident than among the party’s presidential contenders in the Senate.

For the first time, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and Joe Biden of Delaware joined Sen. Chris Dodd in lending support to the notion of setting a date to end U.S. participation in the war.

Clinton, the Democrats’ presidential front-runner in most early polls, has adamantly opposed setting a date for a troop withdrawal, and she gave conflicting answers during the day when asked whether her vote signified support for a cutoff in funds.

“I’m not going to speculate on what I’ll be voting on in the future,” she said at midday. But a few hours later she said: “I support the … bill. That’s what this vote … was all about.”

This is a rather signficant development. All of the major contenders for the Democratic nod are now lined up four square in the anti-war posture of the base. For Senator Clinton, who for the most part has split her votes with and against the Administration it seems that her shift towards the left is to guard against a double flank movement by Sen. Obama and former Sen. Edwards. One thing is for certain, this vote will help her with the base, but may hurt her in the general election. While the base is all for getting out – NOW – the rest of the country wants to get out, and to do so by defunding the troops may not sell well with Blue Dog Democrats.

May 16, 2007

The GOP SC Debate Who Won – Who Lost

First off – This debate was multitudes better than  MSNBC.  Chris Matthews, whom I don’t hate, made the debate too much about him, and the format and questions were significantly better.  One thing that was still wrong is that there are about four or five too many in the pack.  However, the law of natural selection will weed out the field, it’s just taking too much time!

Here are some comments and the grades on the debate in no particular order.

Sen. McCain –  Strong on Iraq – “They’ll follow us home”.  The taxcuts – which he opposed – need to be permanent.  He is strongly opposed to “enhanced interrogation”.  He got a good laugh on his drunken sailor line.  He also showed a good deal of faith in the bipartisan working together of Congress – which has been lacking for awhile in Washington.  All in all, he seemed much less caffeinated than the last debate, and offered some answers.  Some of them just won’t sell to the base.  He and Romney got into a nice little tiff, which was encouraged by FOX.  Overall I’d say a solid B.

Gov. Thompson – Boy, you can tell this guy was a former health and human service guy, I mean his answer on stem cell research was thorough.  He would “require” Iraq to take certain steps with regard to forming provinces and a federation – but I’m not sure that the President of the US is able to write the system of government for another country, but it’s not a terrible idea.  The guy just doesn’t have pizzazz.  I think he’s hit his arc as a Secretary in the Cabinet, but at least he didn’t put his foot in his mouth as he did last time.  Grade of C and time to go home.

Gov. Romney – Didn’t get to hog the mike as he was allowed to on the MSNBC debate, but did well.  He is being painted as a lib and some of the base will likley remember this – and it may hurt him.  Sen. McCain’s comment about changing positions by year or office is meant for him and was a pretty good zinger.  He wants to put benchmarks on the economy and that idea sounds fairly good.  Not as good as last time and he took a few hit.  B+

Sen. Brownback – I have to say that I really “hated” his answer on abortion with a rape victim.  I know some may like his view, but I find it rather offensive.  I liked some of his remarks concerning energy have merit.  He would like to see more consensus with Iraq between Republicans and Democrats, which I would like too, as well as having a million dollars in my account.  He didn’t hit any out of the park, and his numbers won’t go up.  I just don’t see him as the next President.  Grade of C and time to go home.

Rep. Tancredo  – He was a good deal less nervous tonight, but still seems a bit on the squirrely side.  He would like to see some real cuts in Medicare and shelve NCLB.  He gets a good yuck on the conversions with Road to Des Moines when compared to Road to Damascus.  Much better than the first night, but still has no chance to win.  His campaign will die out from lack of oxygen.  Time to go home with your C+.

Mayor Giuliani – He was much better on the abortion issue with articulation of a clear policy – which we all knew.  He talks about his differences with Sen. Clinton on economic issues.  When it came to terrorism and defense he hit the ball out of the park and spanked Rep. Paul pretty soundly.  The crowd livened up and you can tell he was pretty angry at the remarks of Rep. Paul.  This will be the headline and the soundbite when he stepped in – not polite, but showing leadership.  He also had to love it when Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney were sniping at each other.  A very good night for Rudy, and he’ll get a bump after a few tough weeks.  B+/A-.

Rep. Paul  – Well the Fox snap phone poll has him winning, which shows you how unreliable those phone in polls are.  He is very different and very libertarian with regard to Iraq.  He may score points with some by saying US policies are part of the 9/11 equation, but that will not sell with the base.  At this time he is just serving comedic value. He may be toast with the base, but his non-GOP views may help him as a maverick, but he has no chance at all, not that he ever did.  Grade D and probably a note to go home.

Rep. Hunter –  A lot of the NAFTA and Free trade gang will hate this guy because he doesn’t want to tank our economoy to prop up Communist China.  I like this guy!  I like that his son was in Fallujah – speaks volumes about him.  He feels that Iraqis are starting to bear more of the burden of the war and this will increase.  I think he’s bucking for Sec Defense job. B+

Gov. Huckabee – The guy has a way of working the audience; I guess it comes with the preacher territory.  He scores the yuck of the night with the John Edwards haircut joke,  and makes a few pointed barbs with abortion and Giuliani’s position.  Overall he does well, he relates to the people well and may stay around after this debate.  Grade B+

Gov. Gilmore – Don’t send us to a website unless it is mine!  Gov. Gilmore takes the attack mode, going after the front runners labeling them as “Rudy McRomney”.  All this does is allow the front runners to have the opportunity to defend their positions.  He doesn’t really answer the questions too directly, and for that he may have hurt himself.  Grade D+ and a note to not come back to class.

Who helped themselves   Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter

Who got hurt Rep Paul, Gov. Gilmore, Gov. Thompson, Sen. Brownback, Rep. Tancredo

Who stayed pat – Sen. McCain, Gov. Romney

Hopefully, the field will be seven with four going out, and a presumed entrace of Sen. Thompson for the next round.  We’ll see.

May 11, 2007

Nothing to Fear but Polls Themselves

From an article by Bill Kristol

The 1990s were a silly time. But that decade did produce, at its close, an impressive pair of vice presidential candidates–Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. Both spoke up last Thursday as the congressional debate over Iraq reached a new low.

Vice President Cheney was asked on Fox News about concerns that the Iraq war was hurting Republicans. “We didn’t get elected to be popular,” Cheney said. “We didn’t get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican party.”

Well, that’s good, because you didn’t get popular, but the American public is fairly fickle. I remember this quote by Howard Fineman, now a regular Bush basher, “We had controversial wars that divided this country. This war united the country and brought the military back.” I don’t think he’s gonna requote that line with Chris Matthews anytime soon.

This was a just rebuke to the 11 Republican congressmen who had visited the White House the day before. They had two purposes in mind: to tell President Bush that the Iraq war was harming the GOP, and then to tell the media that they had visited the White House to convey that message. The media are primed to reward Republicans for defecting from the White House on the war. The on-the-record star of the meeting was Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia. “People are always saying President Bush is in a bubble,” Davis told the Post. “Well, this was our chance, and we took it.”

But what chance did they take? How did they help the president deal with a crucial foreign policy challenge? Davis “presented Bush dismal polling figures to dramatize just how perilous the [Republican] party’s position is, participants said.” Polling figures!

The chance they take is losing their seat, and this is regrettable, because it seems that the DNC Caucas is determined to basically take a much larger chance by pulling out of Iraq.

Do the Republicans who want Bush to cut and run really think they would benefit if Iraq were to blow up, with U.S. troops helplessly standing by watching the slaughter, the full spectacle of American defeat unfolding before the American people? Here is a fine posture for a Republican to assume in 2008: I voted for the war, and then I voted for the surrender. Who in their right mind would vote for such a person?

As for the Democrats, they are in a way less abject. Most of them simply believe the war is lost, or that it should be lost, and want to throw in the towel.

This won’t play with the American people, but it will do one thing. If you think that Vietnam cost the country credibility, pulling from Iraq will guarantee that America is a laughingstock in the Middle East. Bin Laden’s words of America is a “paper tiger” will be remembered. These people who are our adversaries are not living in the comfort of air conditioned homes where being overweight is a national health problem. They are patient and merciless, and they do have a goal of obliterating our culture. The Democratic Party needs to remember that, and the American public who have the backbone of overcooked spaghetti also need to be reminded of that also.

Only one Democrat–now an “independent Democrat”–called them on their vote: Joe Lieberman. As the members of his party voted for defeat, he took to the Senate floor to plead for full funding of our troops: “Only a couple of months ago, the Senate confirmed a new commander to implement a new strategy in Iraq, General David Petraeus. That new strategy is now being implemented, and it is achieving some encouraging, if early, signs of success. . . . Yet, now many in Congress would pull the plug on this new strategy and thwart the work of our troops before they are given a fair chance to succeed. I am aware that public opinion has turned against the war in Iraq. . . . But leadership requires sometimes that we defy public opinion if that is what is necessary to do what is right for our country. . . . Al Qaeda itself has declared Iraq to be the central front of their larger war against our way of life. . . . Our judgment can be guided by the polls and we can withdraw in defeat. [But] no matter what we say, our enemy will know that America’s will has been broken by the barbarity of their bloodlust–the very barbarity we declare we are fighting, but from which we would actually be running.”

I think Sen. Lieberman needs to be renamed, “Fighting Joe”. If anyone was a victim of the mealy mouthed, gutless milksop cry babies in our country, it is Joe Lieberman. However, if that is now the majority of what this nation is composed of, we may as well pull the troops back home, because this no longer a nation worth fighting or dying for.

May 8, 2007

Newsweek Poll – Bush Approval at 28% – Dem Candidates Trounce GOP

Results from the Newsweek Poll:

May 5, 2007 – It’s hard to say which is worse news for Republicans: that George W. Bush now has the worst approval rating of an American president in a generation, or that he seems to be dragging every ’08 Republican presidential candidate down with him. But According to the new NEWSWEEK Poll, the public’s approval of Bush has sunk to 28 percent, an all-time low for this president in our poll, and a point lower than Gallup recorded for his father at Bush Sr.’s nadir. The last president to be this unpopular was Jimmy Carter who also scored a 28 percent approval in 1979.

The poll goes on to show all Democratic candidates with fairly good leads over all combinations of GOP candidates, which is quite contradictory to all of the other polls being let out over the past few weeks. Another startling number was 71% of those polled felt the country was going down the wrong track. If all of these things are true, it would seem that the blue tide that came over the country in November was just a bit of undertow compared to a tsunami brewing in ’08. That may not be the case.

The mystery of polling is never to be discerned in the raw numbers, the factors that make up a poll are the way questions are framed, and who was asked the questions. The latter is always the most important, and this poll, registered Democrats composed nearly 50% more of the field than registered Republicans. While the Democrats do enjoy a slightly higher registration than Republicans, it is not a 50% majority.

Democrats were 36%
Republicans were 24%
Independents were 37%
Others/not interested were 3%

The polls sample was horrifically skewed. The poll also failed to expose demographics by age, gender or racial affiliation.

I’m not saying this poll is good news for the GOP, and anyone who has eyes which are open knows this, but this poll, is one of the worst constructed polls I have ever seen, and I’ve seen more than a few.

Rasmussen has been conducting tracking polls for years on daily approval, and Bush’s approval comes in between 37-40% the past week, which is a signficant difference. By the way, Rasmussen was very close on ’00 and hit ’04 and even the midterms dead on. He’s simply the best pollster out there, and his numbers show GOP candidates much closer than Newsweek’s poll.

This poll seems made for the MSM, particularly MSNBC. Now, I try not to complain too much about MSNBC’s bias, but remember Chris Matthews (former Carter Speechwriter, former Tip O’Neil aide, former Muskie and Moss aide) and Tim Russert (former aide to Mario Cuomo, and Sen. Moynihan – whom I happen to admire) bring a wee bit bias into their presentations. Newsweek’s editor, Howard Fineman is a regular contributor to their shows, as well as Kieth Olberman.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say that MSNBC is doing all the can to act as the Democratic Press Release Committee – but I guess that they would say the same thing about Fox.

🙂

Compromise Bill to Fund War in Phases

A bill is being prepared by House Democratic leadership to send to the floor.

• Congressional Democrats working on new $95.5 billion war funding bill
• Half of funds would be available immediately; vote required on remaining funds
• Bill does not contain deadlines for withdrawing troops from Iraq

This bill has the potential to be met with rather wide bipartisan support.  While the bill doesn’t require a deadline or timetables, it would require the President to report to Congress in July upon the Iraqis progress with meeting certain benchmarks.  The Democrats measures may be gaining some momentum as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) address lagging support among House Republicans.  However, this was stated that it would be timed with General Petraeus’ report regarding progress of  “The Surge”.  A bit more than half of the troops needed for planned operation are in place.  It is believed by many that July will see intense fighting as the heavy brigades will be deployed in various key sectors believed to be Al-Qaeda areas of influence.  Pressure is being put on anti-war legislators to oppose this bill, and not accept any bill which doesn’t immediately call for an immediate pull out.

In a conversation with a friend of mine who has some of the inside story, the plan in July is to make these contested areas “One big Fallujah”.

Time is clearly not on General Petraeus’ and President Bush’s side.  Signficant promise will need to be seen by late Summer in cleaning up Iraq, or it is not likely that the Congress Republicans will stand in line in support of the Iraq policy.

May 4, 2007

GOP Debate: Internals of Survey USA Poll Strengthen Giuliani’s Hand

I had posted about this poll last night, now with the internals the decision is clear, the first “scientific” poll has Thursday night as a big win for Rudy Giuliani. Here are how the internals bolster this support.

I have highlighted the demographics considered signficant in GOP elections.

Who won the debate:

All Giuliani 30% Next was Romney at 16%

18-34 Giuliani 21% (1) McCain 15%

35-54 Giuliani 34% Hunter 12%

55 + Giuliani 31% Romney 19%

White Giuliani 31% McCain 15%

Black Giuliani 32% Hunter 15%

Hispanic Giuliani 39% Romney 13%

Asian Gilmore 16% Hunter 11%

Conservative Giuliani 32% Romney 16%

Moderate Giuliani 32% Romney 13%

Liberals 24% Gilmore 11%

Republican 33% McCain 17%

Democrat 34% Romney 12%

Independent Giuliani 19% Romney 13%

Pro Life Giuliani 26% Romney 16%

Pro Choice Giuliani 33% Romney 11%

Vote GOP in Primary Giuliani 30% McCain 17%

Vote DEM in Primary Giuliani 33% Romney 10%

May Vote in Primary Giuliani 25% Romney 15%

By any stretch last night was a knockout win for Rudy, at least with the voters.

GOP Debate: Forget “Who Won” – Who Lost? Answer Fred Thompson

Well, the snapshot GOP debate is over and rather than mull over who are the winners I’ll go out on a limb, and disagree with many blogs when I make this assertion, Fred Thompson is the Big Loser. You may argue, how could he lose, he wasn’t there. If you did that, you just gave the reason. His absence here was notable, and it will hurt him.

The adage of out of sight out of mind must be remembered. There will be some likely shifting in the polls from the debate. My feeling is that Romney will pick up a few points from his anemic 10%, but where will it come from is the important question. There are a few sources, but there is no bigger source than the non candidate Fred Thompson who is around 15% in most polls, and Former Speaker Newt Gingrich who has about 8%, but I don’t think Newt is a viable candidate and he’s smart enough to know that he can’t win. He’s far too polarizing a figure.

So, that makes Fred Thompson as the most likely source to lose support, and it will go to Mit Romney who spoke articulately and clearly on a number of positions. I also think that when the dust settles, it is not likely that Giuliani will lose any ground, and will probably pick up a few points. Senator McCain is also hard to figure. On the one hand he spoke his voice, but he also seemed edgy and a bit too agressive for the format. He constantly went over his time, and I have a feeling that the base, that isn’t too enamored with him as it is, and is looking for reasons to vote against him, which may be unfortunate, I see him staying pat, but Romney closing in, and possibly losing ground to Giuliani. He could find himself in third place after this debate, which would be a disaster for his campaign.

However, former Sen. Thompson’s non participation and non announcement reinforce a perception about a dispassionate person, who does not feel a fire to run. That doesn’t bode well, as people want a Chief Executive who wants to be there.

Survey USA Poll: Giuliani Beats Opponents in Debate

A poll of 317 viewers watching the debate were asked to rate the performance of the candidates:

Rudy Giuliani 30%
Mitt Romney 12%
John McCain 11%
Jim Gilmore 8%
Duncan Hunter 7%
Sam Brownback 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Tom Tancredo 4%
Ron Paul 2%
Tommy Thompson 2%

UPDATE: Drudge report is having an interactive poll, but it does allow for multiple voting, so pretty worthless.

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