Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Viet Nam, Iraq, and the Future

I just read a Michael Goodwin column on the political fallout of the Iraq War. Goodwin suggests that it is time for GOP elder statesmen to go to President Bush and convince him that his Iraq policy must change. Goodwin analogized the situation to Barry Goldwater going to President Nixon to tell him that his support was gone and that resignation was the only option.

Obviously, the analogy isn't perfect. Bush is not really likely to be impeached. But it has become clear that America is rapidly losing the will to carry on in Iraq (if it hasn't gone so already).

What I find so troubling is the craven nature of our current political "leaders". I truly believe that the majority of members of Congress have always based their votes and public stance regarding Iraq on public opinion, rather than honest beliefs. Mrs. Clinton perhaps best typifies this mentality. Like many Democrats, she did not really support the Iraq War, but she voted for it because she feared a vote against it would be seen as weakness on terror and used against her. Now, with the public overwhelmingly turning against the war, she fears that her Presidential ambitions will be hurt unless she repudiates her original vote.

But just what are Mrs. Clinton and the others who oppose the President's Iraq policy specifically opposed to? There has been a merging of the concepts of strategy and tactics. President Bush's strategy has been to confront terrorists and their state sponsors. It was that strategy that led to invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The tactics of the war, especially in Iraq, have been the problem. The President has, once again, sent our troops into a fight with hands tied behind their backs. I have previously criticized the Administration's tactical failures including letting Sadr hide out in a mosque and pulling back from Fallujah without finishing the job. It amazes me that leaders with an adult recollection of Viet Nam could have made the same mistakes again. Clearly, when our troops are allowed to fight they prevail. When we allow political considerations to prevail over military judgment we do not.

My question is: Do the President's opponents think his strategy is wrong or is it his tactics they reject? If the strategy is correct, then Mrs. Clinton and the others are wrong to repudiate their initial vote of support. Those who want to pull out of Iraq are also wrong. The proper response would be to change the tactics to those with a better chance of success. Most likely, that would mean a large influx of troops.

Oh, yes, but then there's that problem that the public doesn't support the war anymore. Oh well, then, never mind if the best course is to confront radical Islamists in the Middle East. The public has been convinced that the whole thing is a bad idea. There is no public support for the massive troop increase which would be needed to change things. The men and women we lost there appear to have been sacrificed in vain.

I have always believed that the war in Iraq was a vital and proper part of the greater war against Islamist radicals. Liberals in government and the media have always opposed the war as part of their general animosity towards George Bush. The fact that WMD were never found, the constant emphasis on death counts rather than objectives, and the everyday reporting of the war in the least favorable light possible, slowly but inexorably eroded public support for the war. These Bush opponents have done their work too well, however. Now the public has been convinced that the whole war on terror is unnecessary, 9/11, an aberration,not part of a long and continuing clash of civilizations.

The biggest question I now have is whether the "lessons" the country has learned in Viet Nam and Iraq will allow us to ever fight a difficult battle again? Have we reached the point where nothing is worth a sacrifice? Will we now shrink from the responsibility to protect our citizens by promoting a safer world? Are we heading into a period of ostrich-like isolationism? It seems to me that the "pull out now" forces believe we can hide from the world.

We can run from Iraq so that pandering politicians can bolster their run for President. I doubt, however, that we can hide from the tide of Islamic radicalism which is growing larger and bolder with every new sign of our weakness.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!

Given that it's only 22 months until the 2008 Presidential Election, its only natural that I declare my fealty to a candidate.

My man is Rudolph Giuliani. I signed on to Rudy's exploratory committee and made my first donation to his campaign (you can too at ). I will leave it to others to give you line and verse about why Rudy is the man. You can get some of the details in the following story from the "city journal" at .

For me, its very simple. Rudy has the one quality we need in America more than any other.


He doesn't take a poll and then take a position. He sets his sights on a goal and goes for it. He doesn't lose heart when criticized; he doesn't let adversity weaken his resolve.

His handling of the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks showed us what can happen when the right man is in the right place at the right time.

But don't think that 9/11 is the only evidence of his leadership. New York City is a completely different place than it was pre-Rudy. He took a lot of flack for the tough stands he made. Thankfully, he didn't waver.

Rudy was the right man for New York. He's the right man for America in 2008.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Against the Surge: Courage or Posturing?

As you probably know, the Democrats in the Foreign Relations Committee (along with GOP member of the "I'm running for President Sub-Committee", Chuck Hagel) voted to pass a resolution stating that sending more troops to Iraq was not in the best interests of national security. Of course, they all went out of their way to point out that they support the troops in Iraq, just not the mission (and, I guess it goes without saying, the Commander-in-Chief).

Two articles in the past few days have differing takes on the vote. Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, found Sen. Hagel's stance "gutsy". You can read the article, "He's Got Guts", at Diana West had a far less positive view of the proceedings. Her article, "In Limbo on Iraq", was published in the Washington Times. Access her column at

Ms. West finds our policy in Iraq flawed but she has nothing but contempt for opponents to the plan who offer nothing but criticism and platitudes in lieu of alternatives or true opposition. She clearly sees the political opportunism and posturing contained in a "symbolic" resolution. If there is a good reason to oppose the policy, then oppose it. Offer your alternative plan and risk the consequences that result.

Ms. Noonan applauds Sen. Hagel and, by implication, the other Senators who voted with him for his guts and willingness to take an unpopular stand. Unpopular stand? They are criticizing a policy that a wide majority don't like and opposing a President with an approval rating under 30%. Wow, what profiles in courage these people are displaying. It couldn't be that all of these Presidential contenders looked at their weekly polls and crafted the "no risk-no responsibility" resolution that was passed. Gosh, I can really see why this bunch thinks that there's a Prez. among them!

Sorry, Ms. Noonan, I don't get your point at all. I will not applaud Sen. Hagel or his gang of wannabe Presidents for scolding their fellow Senators and Congressmen for not acting sooner or for, once again, saying the President is wrong but continuing to do nothing concrete about it.

When one of these lions of the Senate wants to step up to the plate and take real action with real consequences, let me know. After I get over the shock, maybe I'll consider clapping.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

State of the Union; State of the Fourth Estate

I just read a Ben Stein article about what he called "the media lynching" of President Bush. Its a great article and you can see it by clicking on Repoman's Favorite Places link to RealClear Politics (it was in the RCP morning edition section for Thurs. 1/25; I'm going to learn how to create links, I promise). But read the article; Stein is a serious but humorous writer and I think he's quite right about the media today.

Here's the link:

In fact, I have long felt that our current media is failing us badly. The Founding Fathers believed that a free press was vital to democracy because only informed citizens can truly participate in a republic like ours. Unfortunately, our current media is failing badly to perform the crucial role the Founders envisaged.

Locally and nationally, our main media outlets are increasingly agenda-driven, rather than fact-oriented. I am not writing here regarding editorial pages. Any media outlet is entitled to its editorial opinion. I am concerned about the increasing penchant for "commentary" and "analysis" showing up in what purport to be news stories. Most news outlets are not content to give us facts and allow us to reach our own conclusions. Instead we are pushed towards the conclusions that the "forward-thinking" editors, reporters, and headline writers "agree" we "should" reach.

Yesterday, the President gave his State of the Union speech. As any of you who know me understand, I'm a little down on George W. right now. But, frankly, my expectations were exceeded by what I thought was one of his better efforts. I thought he gave an above average explanation of his Iraq policy. Imagine my surprise, however, when the talking heads immediately informed me of what a "weak", "sad", "ineffectual", "defensive", "plaintive", etc., etc., speech it was. After I listened to the pundits for a while, I thought I must have seen a different speech.

Oddly, though, there was almost no analysis of Senator Webb's "Democrat Response" speech. I waited for some adjectives to describe what I thought was a lame, poorly supported, and needlessly confrontational effort from the rudest member of the Senate. None were forthcoming, of course, because, after all, Webb is an opponent of our misguided President. Thus, his opinions are not to be challenged.

I realize that my views on this topic ought to be taken with a grain of salt because I am a partisan. But the tendency to try to persuade rather than inform seems to have taken over the entire media. Give us facts in the news pages and opinions on the editorial page. We are smart enough to decide for ourselves.

A prediction and a concern.

Prediction: This tendency will be the demise of the "old media". As we become less willing to believe the "facts" in the news, we will seek out other sources of information. If the sources are largely biased on way or another, we will be drawn to sources that we agree with because they will seem more "reliable" to us. The Internet will allow us to flash from source to source for fact-finding and support. Newspapers and magazines will more and more seem out of date and out of touch.

Concern: We will all be more susceptible to demagoguery as we rely more heavily on media sources with an agenda we support. Such sources, never having been "independent," will be more likely to be misused by ideologues of the right and left. Mass media such as broadcast television, weekly magazines, and newspapers, help create a sense of a larger community, with shared ideas and values. The new, specialized, narrow-casting media accentuate our differences. The new media will make us more skeptical and unwilling to accept differing viewpoints.

Jefferson and the rest of the Founders cannot be pleased.

UPDATE: 1/27/07
A quick example of my point about the failure to give us the facts.

In yesterday's Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle, there was a cartoon depicting Pres. Bush entering the "Oilman's Saloon" where two "Big Oil" fat cats were having a drink. One of the bloated oilmen said to the other, "Here he comes again with those ears of his". He was referring to ears of corn the President held in his hands.

The cartoon displayed mainstream media views that (1) "Big Oil" is a gouging, bloated industry, squeezing unfair profits out of poor average Joes like us, and (2) corn-based ethanol will reduce our reliance on oil (particularly, middle eastern oil).

Wouldn't it be nice if the media gave us some facts to support such views? How often have we seen any reports pointing out that the government investigations of the big gas price run-up found no evidence of gouging? How about reports showing that the oil industry has a lower profit margin on sales than most major industry groups? What about the fact that more than 50% of the oil we import comes from Canada and Western Hemisphere sources, not the dreaded Middle East?

If we had the opportunity to read all of these stories, we could figure out which of our politicians were serious and which were posturing. As it is, we have only the side of the story the media wants us to get.

Wal-Mart Redux

I read today that Wal-Mart is planning a new store on West Ridge Road, apparently to replace the store currently in the Elm-Ridge Plaza. It appears that many in Greece believed that this proposed store would mean that Wal-Mart would drop its plans to develop a store in Northgate Plaza. Wal-Mart indicated, however, that it hopes to develop both sites.

As I read the story, I focused on the criticism of Wal-Mart made by the Northgate area residents who oppose the new store. I was struck by the similarity of the arguments against this store to those levelled at the plan to build a Wal-Mart Super Store in Westgate Plaza a few years ago. The basic criticisms deal with driving out small, neighborhood businesses for the giant retailer and alleged reduction in neighborhood property values.

As a resident of Gates who watched the eyesore that was Westgate Plaza replaced by a thriving Wal-Mart and related neighborhood businesses, I can say this criticism is short-sighted and baseless. First, there were precious few remaining small neighborhood businesses in the old Westgate Plaza and surrounding area. The plea neighbors that the Plaza be re-developed with additional small businesses was wishful thinking.

I remember a Town meeting on the proposed development where such points were made. One of those hardy few remaining business owners, Doris Scanlon, (The Plant Lady) remarked that had those complaining neighbors spent more time and money shopping at Westgate, the Plaza might be doing better, but instead, most were shopping at the big stores and malls in other parts of the County.

She understood that without a substantial anchor store, no retail center can really thrive. After the construction of Wal-Mart, the three last holdouts at the old mall, Doris, the tailor, and the Westgate Family Restaurant, all moved into the new retail center, where they have thrived and grown. The property values in the adjoining neighborhood went up, not down.

This is not to say that there are no problems associated with the development of a Wal-Mart, but many of the complaints are just NIMBY rhetoric. Most of the legitimate concerns of neighbors can be met by proper landscaping and buffering, restrictions on hours of certain operations, and efforts to minimize noise and litter. The Gates Town Board, for example, worked with neighborhood groups and Wal-Mart reps to do just that.

Unfortunately, many people are simply afraid of or opposed to change of any kind. Nostalgia for a simpler life is understandable, but it does not substitute for a realistic look at the pros and cons of development. Northgate Plaza has been in decline for many years. Wal-Mart would be a vehicle for restoration.

Further, the opponents of projects like this one or "the mall on Paul", or other "big box' developments are usually rather few in number but long on hubbub. They are strident and noisy and show up at meetings. The fact is though, that the vast majority of town or area residents would benefit from more modern and convenient shopping opportunities. In Gates, for example, there may have been 200 people actively opposed to Wal-Mart. Most of the other 30,000 Gates residents couldn't wait for it to open.

In fact, if you drive along Chili Avenue, by the intersections with Brooks Avenue or Howard Road, take a look at the area. I don't think you'd find too many who would admit they were among the 200 naysayers. I know you won't find many who would try to claim that the current scene isn't a vast improvement over its decaying predecessor. The Northgate area residents ought to take a look for themselves.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blogging Imperative

I started this blog almost by accident as I noted in my "Opening Salvo".

I have enjoyed it immensely, however, despite my initial fantasy of becoming a world renowned (or web-renowned) blogger, I realize that I should not give up my day job.

First, I'm really not so pretentious as to believe that my opinions are so deep and insightful that they must be published and read. I doubt that there would be legions of readers waiting for my next post.

But a bigger issue is simply time and interest. I cannot imagine where some of the really good bloggers get the time to blog. Moreover, I could never produce the output of posts that many of them do. I really don't have an opinion on enough things. The popular bloggers post on every topic in the news. I only post when something stirs me up.

Anyway, I'm going to keep it up because I like it. I hope that there will be an occasional response and occasional debates, but its clearly just for fun. Powerline, have no fear.

GOP Crack-up.

I see more steely-spined GOP members of Congress are joining with the Democrats in opposing the "surge". So concerned are they to get out front with their flight from President Bush, that they are not even waiting for the hearings on the plan. I guess Gen. Petraeus should wear body armor today.

I can't believe it. The GOP was one election win away from splintering the Democrat Party but the Iraq war "failure" has turned things on its head. Now it's the GOP falling apart.

I'll say this for the Democrats, they hung in there. For most of 12 years they maintained party discipline and rarely had a defector. It was only in the past couple of years that their "fever-swamp" liberals were potentially leading them into trouble.

The GOP is another story. McCain, Hagel, Snowe, Warner, Collins, Coleman, etc., etc. At one time or another, one or more of this gang has opposed the President and/or party leaders to show the country that they are above partisan politics. In truth, they are either egotists needing to show us how much more thoughtful they are than the average (read: right-wing zealot) Republican, or craven politicos who value their positions above all else, or both.

The GOP may well be headed back to long-term minority status it suffered through for most of the post Great Depression era. Unfortunately, that status seems well deserved.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is Anybody There?

If you have seen the film version of 1776, you may recall the scene in which John Adams is reading a letter from George Washington addressed to the Continental Congress. Washington's letter is a recitation of the problems he and his troops were having and a plea for supplies, men, etc. It is clear that Washington is approaching desperation and exasperation since all that has been emanating from Philadelphia has been talk. His letter ends with the query..."Is anybody there? Does anybody care?"

I was reminded of that scene and those sentiments as I read the many columns, reports, and analyses of the President's plan for Iraq and the reaction of various politicians to it. Very little of these stories is devoted to analysis of the merits of the plan, its chances for success, or viable alternatives. Instead the reports deal almost exclusively with the politics of the plan. It seems incredible, but as American troops continue to risk their lives for us in Iraq, our so-called "leaders" are maneuvering for political advantage, clearly worried more about the effects on their electoral chances than the lives of our troops or the future security of the country.

Have I missed something? Is the threat from Islamic radicals over-stated? Are Iran and Syria really not that much of a danger to us? Isn't it true that the US has been attacked by Islamic radicals on a number of occasions since the 1970's? Let's see, Iran Embassy takeover, Beirut Marine barracks bombing, 1993 World Trade Center attack, Khobar Towers bombing, US Cole attack, 9/11 attacks; weren't those all perpetrated by Islamic radicals?

I am one of many supporters of the Iraq War and the War on Terror who is quite upset with the errors committed in its prosecution. Our troops have, as seems to happen more and more often, been made to fight with a hand tied behind their backs. Frankly, the failure to really fight the war has left us with few decent options. George W. Bush and his advisors deserve criticism for that.

The criticism of the President and his policy has not, however, been intended to turn defeat into victory over al-Qaida but rather to gain leverage in US politics. The nature of the criticism has led to the fact that the majority of Americans simply want out of Iraq. No one is trying to explain that leaving Iraq will mean only that we will postpone, not avoid, the culture war with Islamic radicals. Nor is anyone trying to explain that our enemies, most notably, Iran, will be stronger and bolder when the next round inevitably comes. Finally, these opportunistic critics are not willing to acknowledge that withdrawal from Iraq greatly increases the likelihood of renewed attacks on our soil.

Is it possible that the Democrats running for President or plotting for increased majorities in Congress, are so focused on ensuring that Bush and the GOP fail, that they are ignorant of the danger? Are the Republicans so desperate to hang on to their seats, trying so hard to distance themselves from a policy that polls say has failed, that they are blinded to the coming disaster? Where are the statesmen? Where are the voices who want to rise above politics and aspire to true patriotism? Where are the leaders who are supposed to protect us and our children? Where is the media raising the alarm?

Is anybody there?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Day of Reckoning Coming for the Gates Blogger

I have become a regular reader of the Gates Blog. It is to the Gates Democrat Committee what Tass and Pravda used to be for the Soviet Politburo.Of course, Lee Strong, the Gates Blogger, would protest that he is merely a neutral scribe, just commenting on what he sees and hears.


Lee is a member, or at least a fellow-traveller, of the Sue Swanton anti-Esposito, anti-GOP gang. He tries to protest his innocence and neutrality, but his posts expose his true feelings.

His latest is the thread he started on the alleged "takeover" of Cable 12 by Greece and Gates. In addition to the drama of calling what's happening a "takeover", the rhetoric in the blog includes breathless fears of government clamping down on public access and control of the content on the airwaves. He notes that he can't get through to Cable 12 to get the facts. I guess he never considered contacting the Town. Of course, his regular readers understand; Ralph and the GOP administration are untrustworthy and wouldn't give him the truth.

The worst item is Strong's comment that "Gates Supervisor Ralph Esposito allegedly holds grudges". Really? Where did Mr. Strong hear that? This is one of many examples of Mr. Strong making unsubstantiated assertions about people and issues he actually knows little if anything about.

I have resisted responding to the errors, cheap shots, and ignorant assertions made on the Gates Blog up to now. This one has pushed me over the edge. I am going to start to post on the Gates Blog. I intend to hold Strong's feet to the fire. Every error will be exposed, every baseless conclusion will be challenged. Swanton, Ross, Strong, and company will no longer get away with attacking Ralph and the GOP administration with insinuation and innuendo.

Look out Lee, Marshall Repoman is coming to the Gates Blog!

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Not-So-Great Communicator

As I scanned the "reviews" of the President's speech on Iraq, it suddenly struck me that Ronald Reagan was able to get his message through to the American people, despite the negative "filter" of the liberal main-street-media (msm), in large part because his communication skills were so well-honed by his acting and public relations careers.

President Bush actually described some rationales for the "surge" which made sense. He did so in such a stilted, stiff, and uninspiring way, however, that I doubt most Americans will remember anything of value from the speech, especially after the msm onslaught that is sure to come. Mr. Bush does not have the rhetorical skills which would allow him to make the articulate and persuasive arguments necessary to keep the American public behind him on the war. In fact, this has been a problem for him since the start.

Despite msm and left-wing critics claims to the contrary, Mr. Bush did always state that the Iraq war had numerous bases, not just weapons of mass-destruction (wmd). Unfortunately, I believe that the President's general inability to clearly articulate those complex arguments led to a decision to focus on the easy ("slam-dunk") wmd argument. This was not a problem of intellect, but a lack of rhetorical and communication skills.

Given the anti-GOP and anti-Conservative biases of the msm, a Republican contender for President has to be a forceful and articulate public speaker, or his/her message will be drowned out. To be successful, a GOP contender has to be be very able to reach out and connect with the public. Like Ronald Reagan, he/she will have to be able to go over or around the msm.

Some Thoughts on Blogging and Baby Boomers

I have been looking at my blog.

Actually, I've been looking at it quite a bit. I've been tweaking my profile and the layout and colors and fonts. I've been trying to figure out how to create links and bring in pictures. I am fascinated with blog mechanics!

All of this is a little surprising to me, since I created my blog just yesterday, and only so I could respond to a post in another website. I just had no idea how compelling blogging would seem.

I have figured it out, though. Its because I'm a Baby Boomer. Clearly, there is no topic a boomer would rather contemplate than himself. Blogging is the natural confluence of a boomer's inexhaustible self -absorption and the infinite reach of the world wide web.

On our blogs, we get to opine about any topic we choose, and at any length. This is true whether our opinions are informed or anecdotal. It doesn't matter if no one reads our writing except ourselves. We can imagine our insightful musings, floating on the ether of the Internet, waiting, like the Dead Sea Scrolls to be discovered by some intrepid archivist. And, if never discovered, more's the pity for the rest of our fellows.

So, I'm hooked on blogging after only a few hours as an official, sanctioned blogger. I will continue to give forth my views and, despite my claim of indifference, I will wait and hope for the blessed day when some third party responds to one of my posts. Until then, I'll content myself with the knowledge that my views are indispensable, at least to me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Opening Salvo

I was just trying to respond to a post on the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Blog. In order to do so, I was led to create a blog of my own!

Well, I've always valued my own opinion more than most, so why not?

By the way, the point I intended to respond to (and I hope I can find my way back to that post) was a remark that there is a decreasing number of high profile conservative newspaper/syndicated columnists. While it is true that many of the old conservative war horses like Safire and Will are going or gone, there really is no dearth of conservative opinion. A quick rundown of the contributors to "The Corner" on National Review online would demonstrate this. The real problem is that newspapers like the D & C are not really interested in serious conservative writing.

Most major newspapers have a liberal bias and agenda. Conservative columnists get a token showing on the opinion page. Moreover, there are no conservative writers or editorialists associated with many papers, such as, the D & C. Safire, for example, was the designated (token?) conservative for the NY Times. His replacement, David Brooks, is a hollow shadow. But that's probably the way the Times wants it. I doubt that the D & C, for example, has any interest in associating itself with any conservative thinker.

Well, my first post!

I don't know where I may go with a blog. Maybe if I "vent" online, it will save my wife from having to listen to my many rants.