View from the Center

A political blog that examines issues from the author's viewpoint somewhere near the right side of the center. Touches on current events, policy and more.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Torts Case Appears in Miers Battle

A case from our Torts class (Fisher v. Carroussel Motor Hotel, 414 S.W.2d 774 (Tex. Civ. App. 1967)) has appeared in the debate over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. It seems Justice-designate Miers wrote a law review note on the subject.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Some Domestic Issues...

There are some domestic issues I do agree with.

1. Social Security Reform -- I don't know how to fix it. I wish I did. The simple fact is that the current system is not sustainable. I'm not planning on ever seeing the money from my checks again, because I know the system has to change. My dad draws a social security check and it's critical to my parents financial state. However, I recognize that with the retiring boomers the system just doesn't work. It's been morphed from a system for keeping the very old among us from living in poverty to trying to provide a retirement for all of us. When the retirement age was set, it was longer than the average life expectancy. We have to come up with a plan. The short-term costs will likely be large and painful, but long-term something has to be done. We can't just pretend it will get better.

2. Tax Reform -- I tend to think the tax system is broken. I'm not sure how to fix it either (I don't pretend to have all the answers or even most of them). I do think that loopholes do need to be closed. I do think that the tax code needs to encourage savings and investment. I do think the tax code needs to be progressive, but must not reduce incentives for innovation, hard work and earnings.

Long time no post... catching up.

It's been some time since my last post. I'm glad Bush won the election. I voted for him despite my state and county's overwhelming support for Kerry. I appreciate the calls for unity from both Bush and Kerry. Both the victory and concession speeches were good I thought. I do hope that Bush and his team don't misread this victory. I supported Bush because I think the war on terror is the most important issue facing us and I think he's right on it. However, I don't agree with all of his positions and policies. I think that is probably the case with a lot of voters. I've always felt comfortable being a Republican because I felt the party made room for those like me. Groups like the Republican Youth Majority (http://www.rym.org -- it's a terrible site) have reinforced that belief. I hope that Republicans recognize this and do not make an effort to squeeze moderates out of the party.

The recent conservative outrage over Arlen Spector's comments make me more concerned about this. Fifty-nine million Americans did not endorse the Republican party platform, but we picked the issue most important to each of us and cast a vote for Bush on that issue. I am comfortable with my vote as I'm sure most of my fellow Bush voters are with theirs. However, I have a deep respect for much the left stands for, even if I often think their specific policies are wrongheaded or misguided. I think the vast majority of Americans probably fall somewhere near me on the political scale. If Republicans choose a moral crusade based on their victory and what I feel are likely extremely flawed exit poll information, they may drive me and millions more like me away. The statements of some elected Republicans, such as Jim Demint and Coburn worry me. I find intolerance in the name of religion to twist the purpose of the Bible. I hope that they moderate their tone. I hope that as a moderate, I can continue to be comfortable with my Republican label.

Good Job Growth Numbers

Payroll jobs jumped by 337,000 in October... which is great news. With revisions, we now count 450,000 more jobs than were initially reported in September. With the benchmark revisions due out in February, it looks like all of the jobs lost during the recession and stagnant economic period following will have been regained by the time Bush leaves office. I'd expect some more revisions over the next couple months that will make the numbers look even better--similiar to GWB's father.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

WMD Missing? Is it a big deal?

The press is making much of the new report from the U.S.'s chief weapons inspector in Iraq, which determined that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction and had not attempted to produce any since 1991. Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily has an article with photos of what they believe to have been a mobile bio-weapons lab that was found in Iraq. The story contains a breakdown of the components in the trailer and details the facts relating to how unlikely any use other than bio-weapons would have been for such equipment.

Regardless, I think the press is burying or missing the bigger issue. The report also states that the sanction regime on Iraq was "unsustainable." Further, the report concluded that Saddam intended to pursue WMD once the sanctions were lifted. The argument that the Bush administration took their collective eye off the ball to go after Iraq is necessarily weak. A continued deployment in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other countries designed to contain Saddam might have avoided an immediate war, but it would have also continued to tie up troops that would be needed for engagements in either Korea or Iran.

Also, I find it ironic that Hans Blix has determined that with a couple more months the weapons inspectors could have determined that Saddam had no WMD. Inspectors for 12 years (including, of course, the years that Saddam blatantly disregarded UN sanctions requiring his cooperation and the presence of inspectors) were unable to determine conclusively that Iraq did not posses WMD. Furthermore, his position ignores the fact that his last report to the UN prior to the UN invasion stated that Iraq was not fully cooperating.

Additionally, the media (and Hans Blix) are ignoring the requirements of the cease-fire agreement that ended the first Gulf War and the subsequent resolutions. They required Saddam to prove that Iraq had disarmed. All of the requirements were placed upon him, none of them required the U.S., the UN or any other nation or body to prove that he did possess them. His actions which concealed this apparent reality and his failure to fully cooperate with the inspections regime left him in violation of these UN resolutions. The UN's failure to act on Saddam's flaunting of the UN resolutions and its recent inability to even provide sanctions against Sudan for its murderous actions in Darfur only reinforce the belief that the UN is a toothless body.

The media’s attempt to blame the Bush administration for this failure of intelligence seems ridiculous. The intelligence services of Britain, France, Spain, Germany, the United States and other nations all agreed that Saddam was harboring WMD. The difference is that President Bush, Spain’s PM Aznar, Tony Blair, John Howard, and our other allies in Iraq had the courage and conviction to act against what most nations agreed was a cruel dictator who possessed weapons capable of killing thousands or millions of his own citizens or citizens in neighboring countries.

One can’t help but wonder if the unwillingness of France and Russia to act on their own intelligence relates to the oil-for-food program corruption. Saddam was able to siphon off over $11 billion intended to feed Iraqi families for use in smuggling weapons components into Iraq—including weapons systems. Coalition troops have found missiles in Iraq with ranges in excess of those allowed by UN sanctions.

Further, arguments that Iraq weakens our position with North Korea are superfluous at best. U.S. intelligence believes that North Korea developed its first nuclear weapons prior to Bush taking office. This makes any form of military engagement in the Korean peninsula highly undesirable. North Korea has the ability to deliver weapons, conventional and otherwise, into major cities, such as Seoul and Tokyo. Casualties among civilians and U.S. military forces in the area would dwarf those in Iraq. The key to success in dealing with North Korea is China. As North Korea’s primary ally, they are in a unique position to force North Korea’s hand. It is essential that the U.S. continue to insist that China play its role in resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

The choice presented to the U.S. and our allies was to remove a threat to world order or to maintain a status quo system that was “unsustainable,” though partly effective. To allow a cruel tyrant, whose regime murdered thousands or more of its citizens, who murdered tyrants, who used chemical and biological weapons in the past, or to remove him and move on to a new front in the war on terror? Today, we are still in a battle for the future of Iraq—fighting alongside freedom loving Iraqis and soldiers from other nations. It has always been the U.S. role to serve as a beacon of freedom to the world, a symbol of the power of self-governance and rule by the people. When has the United States ever measured what is right and just by the number of lives or the money it takes to achieve those goals.

I, for one, am proud to see the United States stand up for the freedom of repressed people. I, for one, am emboldened that we take the security of those burdened by the terrorist actions of others as seriously as our own security. I, for one, am sure in my belief that freedom will win over fear.

Friday, September 10, 2004

P.O. Box not real?

The address on the letterhead from the Bush Guard memos is:

P.O. Box 34567
Houston, Texas 77034

However, according to the U.S.P.S., P.O. Box 34567 in Houston Texas is in zip code 77234. You can enter the P.O. Box and City, State here yourself and see what you get...

There is a possibility that the Zip Code has changed since 1972, but this is also on the U.S.P.S. Site:


ZIP Codes for PO Boxes usually do not change, though the ZIP+4® will likely
include a code in the plus four that designates the actual PO Box. For further information regarding this, contact the local Post Office™ will have that information.

Not to mention the strange sequential numbers...

UPDATE: It appears that others have confirmed that this is the actual address used for the Air National Guard at that time. It appears a zip code realignment occurred in Houston changing the zip codes.

Oh, Really?

This from a chat today with WashingtonPost.com Chief Political Correspondent:

Terry Neal: This is a fascinating story. I have to confess, it's not a something that I've been working on, one way or another. So I don't have any insider information that I can offer you on the question of the authenticity of the documents. If the documents are proven to be fake, I'm sure it will play right into the hands of people who believe there is a vast left-wing conspiracy in the media to bring down the president--this despite the fact that the media was also who raised the issue about the documents' veracity in the first place. (see the front-page story in the Washington Post today by Michael Dobbs and Mike Allen) I don't know what's going to happen. But if the documents do prove to be forged, it will demonstrate more than anything else that even good journalists can be fooled too.

I'm sure the folks over at Free Republic, Powerline, Little Green Footballs, INDC Journal and Instapundit would be shocked to know that media uncovered the forgeries. Who knew? Certainly, not the Chicago Sun-Times. The word has gone out... circle the wagons, defend the fort, the Blogs are coming, the Blogs are coming!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

AP Shocked People Notice Bogus Story; Big Media on the Case

OK, maybe it's not big media... but at least someone who shows up as News on Google is looking into the AP booing claim... It looks like at least one reporter from MichNews.com is working to get to the bottom of the AP booing scandal... it's good to see there are some good reporters still out there. If only the AP cared about journalistic credibility and integrity as much... Also noticed, the piece points out that the Knight-Ridder wire carried a similar phony account...

UPDATE: Richard Roeper at the Sun-Times also notes the correction.

UPDATE: The Modesto Bee saw fit to publish a correction.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Washington Post in Denial?

According to the Washington Post, the speech failed to sway undecided voters, but it looks like it swayed not only undecided, but also Kerry voters according to the latest Newsweek and Time polls. Futher, an MSNBC focus group found 13 of 21 undecided voters went for Bush after the speech. Not to mention the two liberal suberban dwellers Allah cites at AllahPundit.

Clearly every undecided won't be swayed, but to pretend that none were seems just plain ridiculous. Maybe they are living in the world where everything goes their way. The fact that their front page seems to not mention either the Time or Newsweek poll is very interesting and seems to support this belief.

UPDATE: I thought maybe they only report Washington Post-ABCNews Polls, but a Google search of Washington Post new stories found stories mentioning Zogby polls, CBS polls, and CNN/USA Today/Gallop polls. It's even more interesting when you consider that The Washington Post Company owns Newsweek.

UPDATE: Beldar notes that the LA Times has a completely different take than the Washington Post... "Convention Helps Bush Gain Undecided Voters" The media seems confused.

11 Points It Is...

A two day poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for Newsweek seems to confirm the Time Bounce... 52% - 41%. This is just registered voters and not likely voters, but it's a big jump from the poll at the end of July which was 49%-42% for Kerry.

It looks like America agrees that Bush's speech was good... He received a 5 point bump between the two days of the poll from 49% - 43% for Bush on 9/2 to 54% - 38% on 9/3 after the speech. That's a whopping 16 point advantage after the speech! Very importantly, the poll found Bush leading among Independents, 45% - 40%. He also leads among women (50% - 43%). He leads in every age bracket, except those 18-29, where he is tied (45% - 45%).

Even without Nader in the mix, Bush still holds an 11-point lead (54% - 43%). 53 % said they want to see Bush reelected... the HIGHEST PERCENTAGE ever in the poll (since November 2002).

This lead probably won't hold up through the two months left until election day. However, this has to have the Kerry camp terrified.

Friday, September 03, 2004

More Media Bias (at the AP)

A scandal is (or should be) brewing over at the AP over a report run on their wire that the crowd at a Bush rally booed when President Bush said former President Clinton were in their thoughts and prayers. The report went on to say Bush did nothing to stop it. After complaints from some who were at the rally, that there was no booing. The AP retracted the story and ran an almost identical version without the claim of booing. Glenn Reynolds has picked up this scandal and has the wire story and corrected story on InstaPundit. It looks like this isn't the first time this reporter has had problems.

The problem with the AP story is that as of 10:15 PM Google News had 44 stories citing the crowd booing. I see one story from an NBC affiliate in Chicago saying:

"The Associated Press originally reported that the mention of Clinton's name brought boos from the crowd, but the AP retracted the report citing uncertainties about how to characterize the crowd's reaction."

This is only half a correction--the fact is the reporter made it up. This reporter is the only addition I hope we see to the unemployment rolls next month. This level of bias is unacceptable and much more rare than the bias usually present in the media (slightly tilted stories, misleading labels, unfair coverage levels, and ignoring stories that challenge the liberal view).

UPDATE: Reynolds has a letter from a reader whose neighbors attended the rally and said that "there was no way to mistake their cheers for boos." The reader continued, "This AP story is one of the most blatant examples of press bias I have seen..." I couldn't agree more.

11 Points?

Clearly the President is seeing some sort of bounce... All the convention polls show some sort of shift to Bush. Rasmussen now has Bush with the largest lead he's had in months-- 49% vs 45%. A MSNBC focus group in Ohio seemed to go for Bush. Allah notes two liberal Cleveland suburb dwellers are sounding a lot like Bush voters as well. I think this goes back to my statement that voters will choose security come election day.

Of course, the big bounce comes from the Time Poll. It shows Bush leading 52% - 41%. Now, I hope it holds, but part of me thinks this is some sort of anomally in the data. It seems AWFULLY strong for Bush. The other numbers are interesting too... Bush leads Kerry on the economy by 2 points (49%-47%), Iraq by 12 (53%-41%), terrorism by 21 (57%-36%), taxes by 9 (49%-40%), and commanding the armed forces by 15 (54%-39%). This has got to have the Kerry camp scared.

Be sure to read this article in the SF Chronicle. Allah points out that this may be the ebst postscript to the conventions. I have to agree... This piece hits the nail on the head in a lot of ways.

My Take on the President's Speech

I know that no one has been waiting with baited breath for my analysis of the President's speech, but I'm going to give it anyway. I wanted to give it some time to sink in, before I posted, so I could contrast my initial reaction with a more measured one.

Initially, I felt the President made a strong case for a second term and made me feel better about casting a vote for him. His speech touched on many important (and politically astute) issues, before moving into a stirring speech on America's role in the world and closing strongly with an emotional segment that served to humanize him. Overall, he seemed more confident and comfortable in his presentation than I've ever seen him, except, possibly, immediately after 9/11.

My reaction a day later, is pretty much the same. I felt his presentation had more depth than Kerry's acceptance speech and did a much better job of laying out the goals of a second Bush term than Kerry did the goals of a first Kerry term. The petulent response of Kerry to the speech later that night only served to underline this belief.

The Speech

Bush starts with a brief tribute to the heros of 9/11. It was a nice intro given the video tribute on Bush and his reaction to 9/11 that was skillfully narrated by Fred Thompson.

Bush rolled through his family, pointing out what I think only helps him with women--the women around him. Laura is very popular with all the women I know and the Bush twins, I think, remind a lot of women of who they were (or wanted to be) in their 20s. Barbara was always more popular than George H.W. Bush.

A quick reference to Reagan, clearly a hero of the party and we're off to the future.

Bush presents a laundry list of domestic programs under the theme of reorienting government to help people achieve individual greatness.

"I believe this nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership. And that is why, with your help, we will win this election. " -- Come election day, I think this could be prophetic. I think this is very true for a lot voters. These voters may not like Bush a lot, but when it comes times to pull the lever, push the button, check the box, or punch (completely) through the chad... they will be voting for the candidate who they think most represents someone terrorists will be afraid of.

The section on reorganizing work rules is one I know a bit about and Bush hit the right issues. Many of the problems today are from old work rules that unions work to protect, but that hold back workers in the changed dynamic of today's workforce. Kerry seems willing to promise that old industrial jobs will come back... Bush recognized the truth that these jobs are gone forever and that government must help those workers and the workplace adjust to a new reality that will be more prosperous than the one we left behind. The flex-time issue is extremely popular--especially with women. Politically astute policy. Stephen Green seems to agree.

The section on trade sounds very free-trade, but is balanced with the use of 'fair,' a word passed about by those advocating a return to economic protectionism. I think Bush is a free-trader at heart. If I was a cynic, I might suggest the steel tarrifs were a very well calculated move to try to steal steelworker votes. Bush and his advisors most likely knew the WTO would make them withdraw the tarrifs, but he gained political capital by trying.

Everyone hates paying taxes... every one hates the paperwork...

The speech seems to be optimistic on most things...

"I know that with the right skills, American workers can compete with anyone, anywhere in the world. "

Partial privatization of social security for young workers... probably not a bad political move... I wonder who picks up the bill when they lose everything with bad investments... but, regardless, I think with a lot of young individuals controlling the money they see disappear from their paycheck is probably popular.

"Soft bigotry of low expectations." -- Great line. This reminds me of my high school golf coach would argued against affirmative action by telling African-America students that he believed they were as smart as white students and that they could do just as well and achieve just as much. He would tell them that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton didn't think they could--parents didn't like that very much.

Speaking in Spanish--one line, but clearly more important the languages rattled off by THK at the D convention. This one was of more substance (arguably) and in a much more important language than French or Portuegese in terms of votes.

Students do need more education. The Employment Policy Foundation has a lot of evidence that America is heading toward a skilled labor shortage because of lower numbers of college graduates in the younger generation. Even a two-year degree means significantly lower unemployment rates and higher pay.

Bush used humor effectively in his speech. Particularly at the end. The line here about Kerry was funny...

"He's proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending so far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts."

Bush and his speechwriters make a brilliant maneuver to gloss over some of his most contentious (and least compassionate) sections.... abortion and gay marriage. I'm glad he doesn't dwell on them, because they are weak positions that are difficult to defend. To a certain extent, it is the judiciary's job to be activist. They have always been the branch that protects the minority at the expense of the majority. Claiming they are legislating from the bench is disingenious in this historical light.

Bush segues nicely into foreign policy.

Overall, Bush reminds us of what we have gone through and makes a fairly effective case for his response to the threats he feels we've faced. He makes the decision to go to war with Iraq seem a heavy one, answering critics who complain he rushed to war. He also effectively reminds us of the decade of sanctions Saddam had defied before the action. The case for ward was made much more strongly in this speech than in earlier ones by being more honest about the benefits of an established democracy in the Middle East.

Bush quickly mentioned some of the successes his administration has had... Pakistan is now a stronger ally of the United States, though we still have disagreements. Relations with Libya have warmed as a result of the calculated decision to declare and disband their nuclear weapons program. Afghanistan has been pulled out from underneath Al Qaeda as a training ground.

The foreign policy theme places off of the domestic theme--increased freedom and liberty. He harkens to America's historic role as a beacon of freedom spreading liberty around the world. Pope John Paul VI in 1967 challenged Christians, "If you want peace, work for justice." True justice can only be had in countries where sovereignty rests with the people and not the government. Bush is outlining an ambitious goal of promoting peace through the spread of liberty and democracy. Bush: "Because of you, the world is more just and will be more peaceful."

Bush blasts Kerry over his vote against funding the $87 billion appropriations bill for military spending. Kerry's nack for putting his foot in his mouth hurts him here.

Bush pays tribute to the allies helping in Iraq and Afghanistan. He takes Kerry to task for referring to our allies as a "coalition of the coerced and the bribed." It is important that Americans realize that while we shoulder the majority of the burden, particularly in Iraq, many countries are providing support or troops that are important to our efforts there. The U.S. effort in Iraq can not possibly be accurately described as "unilateral." Bush's ability to make this personal by thanking the soldiers personally makes his point even stronger.

Bush presents his sweeping vision of the U.S. as a bringer of liberty. He speaks in inspiring tones about the power of liberty. He mentions specifically Palestinians, Israel, the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq. He emphasizes equality and justice as part of liberty.

America has done this kind of work before, and there have always been
doubters. In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a
journalist wrote in the New York Times wrote this: "Germany is a land in an
acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. European capitals are
frightened. In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials
doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that
they admit has failed," end quote.

Maybe that same person is still around, writing editorials.

Brilliant. The Times isn't going to endorse him anyway. Some people (and papers) insist that the glass is half empty and can never see the half that is full.
Bush warns that achieving his vision will not be easy. He notes that
America has always been willing to sacrafice for the freedom of others.

This moment in the life of our country will be remembered. Generations will
know if we kept our faith and kept our word. Generations will know if we seized
this moment and used it to build a future of safety and peace. The freedom
of many and the future security of our nation now depend on us.

And tonight, my fellow Americans, I ask you to stand with me.

I thought the speech was done as this point and it wouldn't have been bad if it was. Bush goes on to a bit that admits his weaknesses--bluntness, swagger, and his verbal gaffes. I think this is good--it's hard not to forgive someone for the faults they recognize. Plus, bluntness and swagger (confidence) may not be seen as big faults by many. I'm not the only one who thinks this self-deprecating humor was effective.

The rest of the speech was an emotional comment on 9/11. This sort of brings the speech full circle, without spending the entire speech dwelling on the tragedy. The end of the speech is soaring--"our tested and confident nation can achieve anything."

Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for
freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America. And tonight, in this
place, that dream is renewed.

That's my take... overall a very strong speech and terrific speech for Bush. We will see how the rest of the country takes it. Instapundit thinks it was good, but not great (though great for Bush). Libertarian Stephen Green thinks he's more comfortable in Bush's America than Kerry's...despite Bush's faults. Professor Bainbridge described parts of it as "almost Reagan-esque" and "Probably the best speech I've heard a Republican presidential candidate give since Reagan's prime." Allah says "four points, no more, no less."