Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday Roundup

Allen wrench

Mackubin Thomas Owens sees the same danger to GOP dominance that I do in the candidacy of James Webb versus George Allen for a US Senate seat from Virginia. Of course, Owens is a Republican and I support the Democratic and Libertarian Parties, but that just underscores the obviousness of what we're seeing:

The Democrats are zoning in on an issue (national security) and a constituency (Owens identifies that constituency as the "Scots-Irish," people who are "family-oriented, take morality seriously, go to church, join the military, and listen to country music") that the Republicans thought they had cornered and which they can't afford to lose.

Of course, Owens goes over the top a bit -- he also identifies this Democratic move as a move to "throw off the shackles imposed by, the Daily Kos, People for the American Way, NARAL, and the like." Personally, I think that the two described groups enjoy considerable overlap, and that what's been lacking in the Democratic Party has been the emergence of a set of serious candidates with real credentials and backbone.

This was a void which Wesley Clark tried unsuccessfully to fill in 2004 (an effort which his fans hope he'll continue at). I never thought that Clark was up to the job, and I still don't. But in 2004 Democrats faced a tougher climb. Most Americans didn't yet understand that the war on Iraq was a debacle in progress, that the sacrifices of liberty demanded of them weren't producing any real security, or just how cynically the Busheviks were exploiting the national situation for political gain, even at the sacrifice of national security.

This year, the Democrats have the whip in hand, if they have the guts to use it and the skill to hit Republicans where it hurts most. Allen may win in Virginia (although I wouldn't count on it), but he won't cruise and he won't emerge unscathed. And his, of course, is just the most prominent such race -- "red" districts across the country will be offered a choice between armchair generals and real veterans this November.

Other bloggers on Webb: NoVA Democrat, techn0goddess, J.C. Wilmore, valley iconoclast, Will Vaught, Lowell Feld.

The American Way

Esmay asks: "Where did this cynicism, this paranoia about the government, begin do you think?"

That's a tough one. It's been around a long, long time. I'd say its first really high point would be found in late 1775 with the publication of Tom Paine's lovely pamphlet, or perhaps somewhere around oh, say, July 4, 1776 (Magna Carta wasn't cynical or paranoid enough by a damn sight).

Of course, Esmay's question comes in the context of those who don't give a lot of credence to Bush's "we foiled attacks" stories. That's not really cynicism or paranoia: It's just recognition of the long-established and indisputable fact that when the guy's lips move, he's probably lying.

Just asking, again

Is it time for Dick Cheney to go?

I know -- having him continue in office is bad for the Republicans, and I'm supposed to like things that are bad for the Republicans. His vice-presidency gives credence to the whole "corporate corruption" critique of the administration; he's been an albatross around Bush's neck since the Plame Affair broke; and he may well go down with (or instead of) Scooter Libby. Politically, I'd love to see him stay right where he is, at least until November.

But there's his health, and now there's the shooting. Naturally, the silliness has commenced on that already (although I've yet to see any Burr comparisons), but let's take a sober look at it. As a lifelong shooter, a graduate of the NRA's hunter safety course when I was a kid, and a former Marine Corps marksmanship instructor who has conducted firearms safety training and served as a range safety NCO, I think I have my ticket punched to talk about this:

If you shoot someone, it's not an "accident." Period. It's one of three things: It's intentional, it's negligent, or it's a sign that the shooter is not competent to be handling a gun.

I don't have to like Cheney to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he a) didn't mean to shoot his friend and b) didn't shoot his friend because he was being careless.

But giving him the benefit of the doubt on those two counts narrows it down: Cheney isn't competent. Either he lacks the ability to concentrate his mind to safe handling of the gun, or he lacks the physical ability to handle the gun safely (and doesn't understand that, else his decision to handle a gun in spite of that knowledge would constitute negligence).

A man who's incompetent to handle a shotgun is by definition incompetent to handle a nation's arsenal -- and apart from presiding over the Senate, the vice-president's main function is to stand ready to do exactly that should the president die, be removed from office or otherwise become incapacitated.

Send this guy home, Mr. Bush. If you must do so with ruffles and flourishes instead of in disgrace, by all means have your party. But send him home, for his own good and the good of the country.

Furthermore deponent saieth not ...

... on this from Jaime O'Neill. Hat tip to The Left Coaster.

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