Peace through victory - the American way.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Good News In San Diego Election Results

The results are still unofficial because some 24,000 absentee ballots still need counting but they are looking good so far for voters opposed to Donna Frye. (Click here for results.) In this primary election Frye was only able to muster 43 percent of the vote. A full 50 percent of the vote went to Republican candidates. The remaining 7 percent of the vote was split between the candidate favoring bankruptcy now, the libertarian, the populist radio show host, and some fringies.

WIth voter registration favoring Democrats over Republicans 39 to 33 percent, Frye was only able to muster 4 percentage points over that base, while the Republican candidates got 17 percent over that base.

Obviously, turnout makes all the difference in these elections because the partisan percentages of voters casting ballots will differ from the registration percentages. But the key points to keep in mind with this result are that Frye sought to win a majority in this election not just the lead, the Democratic Party in San Diego is pushing her candidacy hard, and still all she could muster was a measly 4 percentage points over her base.

A lot can happen between now and the runoff in November but as of today the prospects are looking better for Frye to lose.



Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Supreme Court's John McKinley Seat Gets A Nominee.

Not much seems to be known about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. He looks a bit like Dan Quayle but he comes across as more substantial than the former Vice-President. His clerking for Chief Justice Rehnquist and working in the Reagan Administration suggest he's going to be a more reliable conservative vote on the Court than was Sandra Day O'Connor. The President, unsurprisingly to those who voted for him, appears to have done what he promised his supporters he would do during the campaign: nominate a conservative justice for the court.

Another aspect of this nomination is that the President avoided the trap of consecrating O'Connor's seat as being a woman's seat. With this choice George W. shows once again that he is not at all like his father George H.W. The first President Bush fell into the affirmative action trap that there is an African-American seat on the court with his appointment of Clarence Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall.

The President also avoided the trap of viewing O'Connor's seat as necessarily belonging to a moderate or swing voter like O'Connor as the Democrats have been arguing. The historical problem with the Democrats' argument is that the seat O'Connor is vacating is not hers alone; 9 justices held the seat before her and their philosophies were hardly uniform.

Among the justices who preceded her are the great and the not so great: John Archibald Campbell who sided with the majority in the Dred Scott decision; David Davis, who was appointed by President Lincoln in 1862 but still went on to write Ex Parte Milligan, the historic case that limited the right of the Executive branch to try civilians in wartime in military courts in areas where civil courts remained operative; John Harlan, the famous dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson; and Owen Roberts, the Hoover appointee who was the lone Republican on the Supreme Court for a long time during the Roosevelt era. The others are Potter "I know it when I see it" Stewart, a swinger like O'Connor, Harold Bitz Burton, Edward Sanford, and Mahlon Pitney, not exactly giants in the field.

But the first justice to hold this seat was John McKinley, appointed in 1838. He is remembered today not for being a swing voter or a moderate but for being a champion of state's rights.



Monday, July 18, 2005

A Tipping Point For San Diego's Democrats.

San Diego's Democratic candidate for mayor picked up an endorsement from a Democratic state official, Treasurer Phil Angelides. This is not the first such endorsement Donna Frye has received.
"Three weeks ago, Frye was endorsed by Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. The two endorsements signal the probability of strong support from statewide Democratic interests if Frye is in a Nov. 8 runoff election."
(Click here for San Diego Union Tribune story.)

The mayoral campaign is nominally non-partisan. Candidates run on their own not as party standard bearers. But that doesn't mean local politics is free from partisanship. Frye is the only Democratic candidate in the mayoral race. At a work lunch last week every one of my colleagues said they were voting for her. No surprise there; all were Democrats and they tend to toe the party line.

San Diego is changing from a Republican to a Democratic city. The 9 member City Council has 6 Democrats. Well, the 6 member City Council has 4 Democrats, now that the Republican mayor has resigned and two Democratic council members have been convicted of crimes and are likely to be out of office soon. The city's voter rolls show that the Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters 39 percent to 33 percent. (Click here for registrar's report.)

This mayoral race is a test of the strength of the new Democratic dominance in San Diego. The election is going to be a partisan affair. Frye will have a very hard time getting Republican votes because of the ill feelings many still have over the aftermath of the last mayoral election when she refused to concede despite receiving fewer votes than the winner. Instead she allowed her followers to pursue a divisive and meritless lawsuit that sought to have invalid write-in ballots be declared legal votes. Not coincidentally that suit was only dismissed when Mayor Dick Murphy agreed to resign.

Frye is pretty much guaranteed to reach the primary by holding Democratic voters. The big question for her is whether she can win in the two-candidate runoff in which she will have to reach beyond the 39 percent of the electorate that belongs to her party. In order to win she's going to have to appeal to that 22 percent of San Diego's voters who decline to state a party when they register.

Given Frye's large party base all she has to do to win is carry half of the non-partisans. She has a very good chance of winning the election. The Republican candidates Jerry Sanders and Steve Francis both trail her in the polls. They start from weakness with a party base of only 33 percent of the electorate. Sanders has run the least partisan campaign of the two so he could have more appeal to non-partisan voters but there is little about him to motivate Republicans to support him. On the other hand, Francis has run a bread and butter anti-tax, anti-spending Republican campaign. He could energize the party base more than Sanders but his partisan appeal is less likely to lure non-partisan voters.

The numbers paint a bleak picture for Republicans hoping to hold on to the mayor's office. To win the Republicans have to hold all their voters and take nearly all of the independents or they have to peel off Democratic voters from Frye. That's probably not going to happen because the Democrats are going to go all out to put Frye into office. Here's what San Diego County's Democratic Party website (website here)says about the mayoral election:
"Democrats from here in San Diego to Sacramento, even to Washington, need to be looking at the bigger picture in the race for mayor of San Diego.

"As you know, Donna Frye is poised to be the city's first Democratic mayor in 13 years. That's important to the Party for two reasons. First, because we want our values represented on issues like affordable housing, a living wage, environmental protection, open government, and so many other matters where Councilmember Donna Frye has shown her commitment.

"Second, having a Democrat in charge at City Hall is important because it would deprive Republicans of their only big-city mayor in the state. Regardless of what happens in the 2006 gubernatorial election, the Republicans will be desperate for a candidate for governor in 2010.

"Let's assume that following the 2006 General Election, Democrats continue to hold the statewide offices we now have and that we regain the Secretary of State office. Let's also assume the Democrats have maintained control of both houses of the legislature and therefore the high-profile legislative-leadership positions.

"If we Democrats hold all those positions going into the 2010 election, where do the Republicans go for a candidate for governor (or for that matter any statewide office)?

"The Republicans from Sacramento to D.C. are desperately looking at the mayoral special election in San Diego because they are looking down the road to 2010. We need to do the same and deny them their future gubernatorial candidate by electing Democrat Donna Frye now."

The bigger question for Frye and her party is not whether they can win the election, it's whether they can manage the city and bring its finances back into order after they win. It's no coincidence that San Diego's descent into fiscal ruin has come as a Democratic majority has emerged on the City Council. San Diego's problems all stem from overly generous contracts given to city workers. Those problems are not going to go away easily because those same workers' unions are the power base of the council members and because the unions are in no mood to do anything but fight to keep their benefits, the taxpayers and the city be damned.

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy is looking like a better option every day.



War Of The Worlds Nonsense.

As a science fiction movie fan and a fan of the classic movie, War of the Worlds, I've been looking forward to seeing Steven Spielberg's new version of the movie. Now after just reading this story in USA Weekend from a month ago (here), I'm not so sure.

"After 9/11," Spielberg says, "'War of the Worlds' is [again] a reflection on how scared we are. This movie turns American families into refugees; it's something America has never experienced."

Okay. No problem there. But then there's this quote from the movie's writer, David Koepp.
"You can read our movie several ways," says screenwriter David Koepp. "It could be straight 9/11 paranoia. Or it could be about how U.S. military interventionism abroad is doomed by insurgency, just the way an alien invasion might be."

So there it is. Despite the cute weasel word "could" it's clear that this movie was intended by the writer to be an allegory attacking the US liberation of Iraq. And not just the Iraqi war, but "9/11 paranoia." In other words, the American people are overreacting to the 9/11 attacks. There's no real threat from terrorism. The threat is all in our paranoid minds.

What smug nonsense.


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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Nukes Or Mullahs But Not Both.

The Iranian regime continues to send signals to the West that it has no intention of giving up its program of enriching nuclear fuel. It doesn't get much clearer than this statement by Iranian negotiator Ali Agha Mohammedit:
"No proposition will make us give up the enrichment cycle. We won't give up this right even if [the Europeans] give Iran every economic, political and security assurance."
(Click here for article.)

There is little the West can do to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands. Iran has smart and capable engineers and it's only a matter of time until they develop the means to build their own bomb. Nuclear weapons technology is like the proverbial genie that has been let out of the bottle and can't be put back in. The way to deal with a problem like that is not to go after the genie. It's to keep the genie out of the wrong hands.

The West's position on nuclear weapons in Iran should be clear. No mullahs with nukes. The way to accomplish that is not to negotiate with the current Iranian government to try and persuade them not to develop the technology to build their own bomb. The way to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the mullahs in Iran is to get the reins of government out of the hands of the mullahs. The answer to the Iranian nuclear problem is regime change. The West needs to be prepared to do whatever it takes to get the mullahocracy out of power. Whatever it takes.



Amnesty's Misguided Response To The London Bombing.

The same day the Islamists targeted and killed civilians in London in their continuing war against the West, Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the atrocity. (Click here for statement.)

The statement starts out well enough by condemning the attacks but then it goes wrong at the end with this final sentence:

These attacks must stop. Those responsible must be brought to justice in proceedings which meet international standards.

It's true these attacks must stop. But treating those responsible as criminals who must be prosecuted in a court of law is not going to get the job done. Also Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty. Trying the terrorists who ordered these attacks and putting them in prison instead of executing them is not going to be enough either.

We are in a war. The July 7th terrorist attacks on London were not criminal acts; they were acts of war. Amnesty doesn't accept that fact. The people responsible for these attacks, not the suicide bombers themselves obviously but their leaders and fellow jihadis, need to be tracked down and killed. That's what you do to your enemies in wartime. You seek them out and you kill them. Those that do get captured should either be sent to Gitmo to spend the rest of the war there, no matter how long it takes, or to be tried in a military tribunal and executed, if appropriate.

Once Nazis were a terrible threat to peace. Nazis today are pathetic jokes lacking the power to do much of anything. When Islamists become like Nazis today then we'll have won the war. Once that day comes, the terrorists captured during this war can be released. Until then, they can do their praying behind bars.



Sunday, July 03, 2005

Cheering The Troops Rather Than Spitting On Them.

It's been a typical Independence Day weekend so far: a barbecue party on Saturday and a baseball game on Sunday. One truncated conversation at Saturday's barbecue was also typical in this time when American troops are again fighting for freedom abroad. The conversation turned to the war and a Vietnam veteran mentioned how much it hurts him to see the kudos and ovations that soldiers returning from Iraq receive from the public today. He mentioned the pain he felt upon returning from Vietnam at the treatment he and his fellow vets received from the public back then. A woman agreed that the treatment the Vietnam vets received wasn't fair since the war wasn't their fault; it was the fault of the politicians who sent them there.

Unfortunately, the conversation immediately moved to other topics to avoid an uncomfortable political debate on the merits of the Vietnam war and the war in Iraq. Unfortunate because the vet's comment on the praise for the soldiers today was so puzzling. It would be unseemly to try and analyze the feelings behind the vet's remark; but not the assumption behind the woman's statement that somebody needed to be blamed for US involvement in Vietnam and that the politicians were to blame for the treatment the soldiers received.

The most bothersome thing about today's anti-war types who view everything through the prism of Vietnam is that they have not bothered to rethink their position in light of the events that happened after the US pulled out. The flight of the boat people, the fall of Cambodia and the continued tyranny in Vietnam demonstrate that the US was right to fight in Vietnam and that the US was on the right side. These events demonstrate that the people who opposed the Vietnam war were wrong to do so. It's not a tragedy that we fought in Vietnam; the tragedy is that we lost.

It's not the fault of the politicians who sent the troops to Vietnam that the country treated the troops so badly when they returned from the war. That blame lies with the the people who treated them that way and with the anti-war activists who demonized the troops as baby-killers and a band of barbarians worthy of Genghis Khan, to recall one infamous remark of Senator John Kerry.

The one good thing the current band of anti-war activists has done is to state over and over that though they oppose the war they "support the troops." It's a hypocritical position to take because it's not possible for them to "support" the troops while opposing the troops' mission. There are several ways to support the troops. One way is to support their mission politically so they can accomplish their job. Another way is to literally support the troops by, for example, sending them letters, care packages, or helping their families here at home. A person who politically opposes the war and doesn't lend literal support to the troops can't claim to "support the troops." In fact, they are opposing the troops. They may care about the troops and want them to come home from combat alive but that's a very differnt thing from supporting them.

In general the anti-war activists' claim to "support the troops" is a cheap and self-serving statement they make in order to maintain their credibility with the general public. Nevertheless, the result is that even the war's opponents don't abuse today's troops and America's soldiers are generally well regarded.

All this is a roundabout way of getting to this. The San Diego Padres organization has for years set aside a section of seats on Sunday day games for Navy and Marine recruits to attend with their units. The Navy recruiting base is closed here now but the Marines still train their recruits in this town. This is a long-distance picture of the Marines who attended today's game. (Click photo to enlarge.)

In the past many fans would not stand or applaud when the troops were honored at the games. Things are different today. Below are two photos of the fans at the game waving the flag and giving the Marines a standing ovation while the Marine Corps Hymn plays over the loudspeaker during a break in the game. (Click photos to enlarge.) Here's to the Marines on this Independence Day. We couldn't have it without them.