Wednesday, August 30, 2006

AMSOL "Controversy" Revisited

When I last wrote about the Ave Maria “Florida controversy,” the most relevant fact seemed to be that no move would be possible before 2009. I assumed that meant that not much would be happening in the months to follow. Boy, was I wrong.

Being half-way across the country, I’m not dialed-in to the day-to-day happenings in AMSOL land, but luckily I have the well-written Which Ave Maria blog to keep me informed. The author (Torgo) is, I believe, an AMSOL alum. Thus he's automatically high on my list for having chosen to go to a new law school for reasons of principle over self-interest (there’s always risk going to the new school when the older schools have the established alumni networks, judges, respected diplomas, etc.). Kudos to him.

Unfortunately, he seems to have fallen into some of the traps that the insurgent portion of the faculty set for him. I can’t blame him though, it’s only human nature. I’d probably have done the same thing if I spent everyday with these professors, who are (I’m sure) by and large virtuous men and women with brilliant minds. They would be my intellectual guides as well as my personal mentors. That’s how it’s supposed to happen. What’s not supposed to happen are those same professors using their students as pawns in their attempt to stick it to the boss. Luckily, I’m located far away and my only connection to the situation is reading the occasional thread and posting the occasional observation. I think it’s a little easier to see the lay of the land from my vantage point, but I’ll leave that to the reader to determine (yes, this means you, Beasty, D.C., and SHK).

If you read my earlier post on the issue, my problem with the people who are opposing the move to Florida is not that they oppose it. The feasibility study is being done, and the final decision won’t be made by the Board for some time. So there’s ample opportunity for people, both pro- and con-, to make their opinions known. My problem is the disingenuousness of the manner in which (some of) the anti- group is opposing even the consideration of a move. The disingenuousness manifests itself in a few different ways:

1) Ad-hominem attacks. On Tom Monaghan, the Dean, and the Board (for more on this, see 5c below).

2) The refusal to accept the Board’s judgment: for instance, ignoring the Board’s competence (and, if I may say, the high caliber of its members), and placing a greater emphasis on winning than allowing a deliberative process to play out. In fact, they seem to view the process as a farce and the move as a fait accompli. Perhaps that’s because, like me, they see there’s probably more merit in moving than staying, but perhaps it’s because they just think the Board members are Tom's automatons (for more on this, see 5c below).

3) Conspiracy theories. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m far away and can’t get myself as worked up as those who are close to the situation, but why do I feel like the X-Files theme should be playing whenever I read one of these deeply cynical posts about the Administration? The anti-move contingent seems less concerned with the merits of the move, and more concerned with the fact that they’re going to lose because the cards were stacked against them. The old smoke-filled room argument. You know, since the faculty, alums and bloggers who are against the move can’t kill the process and stifle debate by the Board, there must be dark forces at work. I think these guys need to break out of their current social circles and just go out and enjoy the sunshine. Hey, bet there’s some nice sunshine in Naples, not like those cold, grey, Ann Arbor winters.

One of the things I love about the conspiracy angle is the way that the conspiracy is apparently so complex that the conspirators can't even get their story straight. On the one hand, we now learn, when Tom wanted to stay in MI, they were singing Michigan's praises. But once they were rejected by Ann Arbor township, they were no longer singing Michigan's praises. See, they said Michigan was good before but now are changing their tune (never mind they had to find an alternative because they got screwed by AA Town). And look, now it turns out Plymouth township might have wanted them! Never mind that we have less information on the details of that proposal (transportation logisitics/cost of land/zoning issues/location) than we do on the Naples, Florida proposal. Tom and the Board should have approved any Plymouth Township proposal sight unseen! Oh, the hypocrisy.

4) Obfuscation. The three tactics above are being used in lieu of actually having a rational, constructive debate about the merits of the move. I tried to make some of the points about the merits in my first post, and I haven’t seen or heard anything that refutes them. OK, in all fairness, “I haven’t seen or heard” means strictly in Torgo’s posts, since he’s the only one writing coherently on the topic right now. And I can’t blame him that he doesn’t care about refuting me, he’s got bigger fish to fry.

OK, there was this sarcastic jab about only old people living in Florida, but I guess the fact that Collier County, Florida is growing faster than Washtenaw County, Michigan puts a damper on the fun. If one were to compare the population growth of Florida statewide against Michigan statewide, it would be ridiculously lopsided, so I won't even bother.

There was also this rightly argued post stating that, for a business, a move can be a money-losing endeavor. Of course, since Mr. Monaghan is already willing to lose millions of dollars to make AMSOL the best school it can be, the question of whether the move is a "money-maker" is the wrong question.

So seriously, what is the motivation of the anti-Florida contingent that is both so powerful to drive them to the tactics discussed above, but so unmentionable that it never makes it into print? Perhaps the fact that the faculty and their surrogates realize they’re merely arguing for a subjective preference or their own convenience—something that hardly justifies the scorched earth tactics they’re employing?

5) Scorched-Earth Tactics. Since I’ve already brought it up, this is perhaps the most tell-tale strategy of them all. All the other tactics might have been expected, but this one shows that, as far as the anti-move process gang is concerned, a damaged school is better than a relocated school.

As best I can make out, here's the "anti-" gang's logic:

a. We won’t bother to debate the merits, since that’s obviously not what’s driving us.

b. We won’t tell you what is driving us, because our subjective preference is clearly not reason enough to stop the debate on the merits of a move, so…

c. We’ll obfuscate. First we’ll distract you by using nasty names. We'll tell you that Mr. Monaghan's either a "blasphemer or an idiot." That the Dean has a "contraceptive" and "abortion"-like mentality and is "Stalinist". If that doesn’t do the trick, we’ll outrage you with implications of back room dealing. You've been had! There’s a conspiracy, and you’ve been used like a puppet as part of their "consistent plot." If that doesn’t get your blood up, we’ll tell you that the people making the decision (Board) are incompetent and a bunch of stooges (just don’t look at their C.V.’s). OK, we’ve done all of that. Dang it, they’re still thinking of moving the school, now what do we do?

d. Simple. Sink the ship with everyone on board. This law school will self destruct in 5 seconds. We'll write emails saying the law school should schism and call it a successful few years. We'll write open letters blasting the school's failed leadership (never mind the amazing accomplishments that have been made in an incredibly short period of time). We'll intimate that the Board and Administration have knowingly or negligently been violating ABA standards, with the lingering and unspoken threat that the ABA is or will be informed of this fact. (and what if that leads to AMSOL’s accreditation being reevaluated? If they cared, they wouldn't be flagging these items in a public forum and have gone public with the consultant's findings.) Lastly, we'll drive away prospective students by creating a civil-war atmosphere and then claim: “the students are leaving!” Either we’ll win, or we’ll press the self-destruct button.

In light of these tactics, it’s not surprising to see the "anti-" gang spilling lots of ink to rationalize what they’re doing.

Allow me to paraphrase:

Us? Against the mission? Noooooo! You’re the ones, Board, who were audacious enough to consider moving to a brand new facility, in a brand new Catholic town, in the same community with a sister institution, in a beautiful location, without giving students and faculty veto power over the decision. If you’re willing to even discuss a move, you’ve forced our hands: make Falvey the Dean or we'll engage in a rebellion (break up the school / threaten a faculty walk-out / steer prospective students elsewhere / bad-mouth the school on the net).

I think it's important to point out that there is a constructive way to oppose a potential move to Florida. The faculty could send a private letter to the board of non-support, and candidly state that not all faculty members will be willing to go [I know it's a little pointless now that they've already issued an open letter revolting against the administration and drawing the enitre community into picking sides, but it would have been nice]. Students could write petitions to the board stating why they oppose the move. Opponents of any stripe could write pieces explaining why the law school would be less effective at educating lawyers in Ave Maria, FL, than Ann Arbor, MI. Get the Board the information, then stand back and let them do their job. The vilification, threats, blind nay-saying, and dumping on the very institution they profess to care about, by contrast, is not productive.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bright and Uncommenty

As it's been bright and uncommenty, I feel the need to goad our friend. Here's a nice article about forced conversion to Islam in response to the capture of the Fox journalists.
Friday, August 25, 2006

2008 GOP update

Mitt Romney's momentum is building.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Consumption Tax

I liked the discussion about consumption tax so much, I felt the need to post about it. I found this objective description of consumption tax on an economics site because I couldn't think of much If a downside. It turns out, there isn't much of one. Let's take a look:


  • Increased tax base. As SheaHeyKid points out we can collect from organized crime and illegal aliens.
  • Simplified tax code
  • Discourage those on public assistance from buying luxury items (See Fredo's comment)
  • Encourages savings, especially for those who should save
  • Taxes what you take out rather than what you put in
  • Good for the environment? Discourages disposable products?


  • (Help me out here)

Here's a decent criticism of it. The author mostly criticizes the VAT, which is obviously a bad idea since many Europeans do it. He also misses the key point of exclusions for necessities.

Hey, who knows? Maybe we could even reduce the size of the IRS!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Warms the curmudgeonly heart

Here's a great story that goes against expectations. A college basketball player putting parental responsibility ahead of his own ambitions. Mr. Hayles is real hero so we'll probably never hear of him again. After all, if Trey Wingo can't get a catchy call out of it, the media has no use for him.

Hat Tip: Duke Basketball Report
Friday, August 18, 2006

Be Like Mike Pat

This article by Pat Buchannan succinctly summarizes what is wrong with today's Republican party.

  1. Policing the world
  2. Big government
  3. Facilitating illegal immigration
  4. Allowing enormous trade imbalances

Until recently, I've not registered with any party because wanted to keep an open mind and not just vote Republican as a knee-jerk reaction. I'm considering registering as a Republican now so I can vote in primaries and do as much as one vote can to bring the GOP back to classical conservatism. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sir Winston

There has been no English-speaking political leader in the last 100 years who could stir the spirit more than Winston Churchill. For no reason in particular, I felt like sharing a few of Winston's rhetorical gems. While these aren't necessarily his more profound quotes, they show off his great (and salty) sense of humor:

"I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."

"If you are going through hell, keep going."

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

"The substance of the eminent Socialist gentleman's speech is that making a profit is a sin, but it is my belief that the real sin is taking a loss."

"This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read."

"Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose."

"I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."
OK, and a couple of profound quotes as well:

"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me."

"Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others."

"Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on."

"When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite."

"There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies."


A review in the MSM (OK, sort of: the Washington Times) that is not only positive, but absolutely glowing, for a book by Patrick Buchanan. His new tome on the threat of illegal immigration is, according to Tony Blankely, a must read. I'd probably have read it without the review (since I've read many of his others, e.g., The Great Betrayal, A Republic Not an Empire, Death of the West), but it's nice to see his work getting the due it deserves.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sen. Allen steps in it

Sen. Allen seems like a reasonably conservative Senator. I have no reason to oppose the possibility of an '08 Allen presidential candidacy other than my subjective sense that he comes across a bit flat. But as the Real Clear Politics blog points out, the recent kerfuffle over Allen's allegedly racist comments is quite revealing.

Witholding judgment on whether his words were, in fact, racist, merely insensitive, or actually justified, Sen. Allen's lack of awareness of how his statements would be used raise the question of whether he has the political sense to run a successful presidential campaign. Here's how RCP saw it:

More on Allen

Over at TAPPED there's a further discussion of this Allen "macaca" comment. I've got to say, the more I hear, the more I think this looks really bad for Allen. For one, Allen speaks French, which makes it quite doubtful he didn't know what the word meant.

You can also read the rest of what Garance Franke-Ruta has to say at TAPPED about the uses of the word.

That he said this on camera -- on a camera being held by his opponent's staffer -- well, this guy is simply beyond stupid.
BTW, for an interesting perspective on the merits of the "racism" claim, the RCP blog had another interesting entry here.
Friday, August 11, 2006

Conceived in the USA, Made in China

Look around your house. What portion of the products you own was made it China? If you're like me (I'm ashamed to say), it's a large percentage, especially electronics. America's growth was once fueled by our amazing manufacturing capacity. Our endurance through two world wars was in part due to our ability to produce just about everything we needed ourselves. We now have a huge trade deficit, especially with China. We import $100 billion more worth of goods from China than we export to them. We don't know and don't care where the products we buy are made. There is no thought about where that money will end up. There is no thought about who will have a job making the things we use and who won't. There is no concern that we will be unable to produce the goods we might need should we get involved in another war like WWI or WWII.

Why did this happen? Some will try to tell you that we've evolved and we are now a nation of knowledge workers - that we produce ideas. I have a different opinion. I contend that much of this came about because of institutional intervention in free market. Labor unions once played an important role in opposing abuses in industry and improving safety. They have devolved into organizations that artificially raise the price of labor through extortion and promote mediocrity. Minimum wage is another example of instituitional meddling in the free market. Our frien(D)s will tell you it will give the people who earn the least a higher income, when in fact it just leads to more unemployment. It's effect is to artificially raise the price of labor, which causes businesses to employ fewer people because of the expense. I recently read an article (that I can't find to properly cite) that cited the unemployment statistics in France as evidence of this. France has a high minimum wage and a much higher unemployment rate than we do. Furthermore, the unemployent rate among those who typically earn minimum wage (workers from 18-25 years old) was something like 23%! This article added evidence of this in our own country. Some time after the minimum wage was instituted, the market price for labor was well above the established minimum. Miraculously, during this same period, unemployment was at record lows! When will people figure out that regulations on a free market often have the opposite effect than was intended?

Code Red

On top of the busted UK-US terrorist cell, the missing Egyptians, and the Arab-Americans busted for terror-abetting in Ohio, now Drudge is reporting two more incidents of suspcious behavior with possible terrorism links.

First, a case in Ohio, that took place last week. According to this article, it is likely connected to the other Ohio case chronicled yesterday.

Next, a case in Michigan involving three men of Palestian descent. Again, the M.O. is accumulating ridiculous quantities of cell phones. Suspects are being held awaiting the arrival of the FBI for further investigation.

Things seem mighty, mighty suspicious. A lot of activity at one time.
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Islamist treason on the home front?

One of the largest arab communities in the U.S. is Dearborn, Michigan, which, as RedState points out, some journalists have taken to calling "Dearbornistan." Local Michiganders have often wondered if the homogenous arab population there would make it a logical hiding place for foreign terrorists in the U.S. Now comes news that some American-born Muslims, raised in Dearborn, have been arrested in Ohio on terrorism-related charges.

The article states,

Each was charged Wednesday with money laundering in support of terrorism. Prosecutors added a second felony charge on Thursday of soliciting or providing support for acts of terrorism. The two also were charged with a misdemeanor count of falsification.

Abulhassan and Houssaiky admitted buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeast Ohio, sheriff's Maj. John Winstanley said. They sold the phones to someone in Dearborn, Winstanley said.

They two also had airplane passenger lists and airport security information when they were stopped on a traffic violated on Tuesday...

...The laundering charge alleges the two laundered between $5,000 and $25,000, Vessels said.

Whether the cell phones were being sold to ship the profits to our enemies, or even more deviously, were being stockpiled for use in a terrorist operation, these two are enemies of America and Americans. They are actively supporting an enemy that is killing our troops abroad, and may be involved with groups that wish to kill civilians here at home. That's treason in my book, and if I remember correctly, that entitles them to--where is it here--(flipping of pages)--ah, yes, here it is: the death penalty.

Of course, the America-hating press and the Islamist sympathizers can be counted on for the ususal inanity:

Family members of both men came to court with newspaper clippings showing they played high school sports in Dearborn.

I suppose I should feel better knowing that budding young terrorists learned the difference between a curveball and a slider. Somehow, I don't.

The lawyers take the cake though:

Their attorneys, contending the men are being targeted because they are Arab-Americans, entered not guilty pleas for them on the misdemeanor counts. Judge Janet Dyar-Welch set a preliminary hearing on the felony counts for Tuesday.

"These are all-American kids that unfortunately, in this day and age since 9-11, have names that call them into question," said Rolf Baumgartel, attorney for Houssaiky.

How to respond, how to respond. How 'bout this one: F*** you Rolf!

Yeah, I know, you're a lawyer and you've got a job to do protecting your clients. But I suspect you're still an American, Rolfy. Love your country enough to be an ethical attorney, and to not slander it in the defense of your clients. Don't equate terror-interdiction with institutionalized racism. Don't insult people who think the phrase "All-American" means something more than, "blows up women and children with gusto." If you can't find an argument to defend your client that doesn't involve using the language of deception and sedition, then maybe, just maybe, your clients deserve to swing.

But enough of the little picture, lets place this arrest (and the recent story about the missing Egyptians) in context. This country has no business allowing Muslims in. Period. Not as citizens. Not as permanent aliens. Not as guest workers. Not for a freakin' vacation.

I'm sure there are lots of Muslims who are fine people. Here's hoping that most of the American citizens who are Muslims fit that description (and I personally know a few who do). But some substantive percentage of the global Muslim population are anything but fine. Some percentage of them self-identify as enemies of America. They support our downfall, both economically, socially, and militarily. Some of them are willing to engage in the fight themselves.

I don't know what that number is: 5%? 10%? 25%? I do know this: the number is a lot higher than the 0.1% that most liberals would like to have you believe. Let the celebrations in Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran on 9/11 assure you of that. But whatever the percentage is, we need to protect ourselves from this group. Pretending that it's racist to keep out a group, 5% of which seeks your destruction, is just a form of national suicide.

Note: While I broke my own language guidelines in this post, the dishonesty of the defendant's attorneys absolutely called for it. Insulting the same people who would have been these terrorists victims, by calling them racist, is beyond the pale. These types of race-baiters don't understand that we view law-enforcement officers as our friends and co-citizens. Not an oppressive force.

Update: Check out the comments, where ManBeast offers an interesting poll that deals with the percentages I offered above. The situation is more bleak than I thought.

Kristol a conservative?

Pat Buchanan doesn't think so. Patty B and his magazine, American Conservative, have been bashing neoconservatism as an illegitimate descendant of Reagan conversatism for years now. Kristol's recent Weekly Standard article on Lieberman provided Buchanan an opportunity to do more of the same. Buchanan delivers a powerful and thought-provoking rebuke of the neocon crew. He also sheds light on neocon priorities and leaves you asking the question, does the Weekly Standard deserve its status as the most influential conservative publication?

In a lead editorial, the Weekly Standard called on Bush to fire Rumsfeld and make Joe Lieberman secretary of defense. And the Pentagon is only to be a stepping stone.

Rhapsodizes editor William Kristol, "Is it too fanciful to speculate about a 2008 ticket of McCain-Lieberman, or Guiliani-Lieberman ... ?"

In short, the Weekly Standard wishes to see, on a Republican ticket and a heartbeat away from the presidency, a proud liberal Democrat who supports partial-birth abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, gay rights, affirmative action, reparations for slavery, gun control, higher taxes on the top 2%, distribution of condoms in public schools and driver's licenses for illegal aliens.

What does Joe oppose? School prayer, the American Legion's flag amendment, Sam Alito, drilling in the ANWR and any phase-out of death taxes.

Last year, Joe's rating by Americans for Democratic Action was 80. The ACLU gave him an 83, the NAACP an 85, the AFL-CIO a 92, LULAC a perfect 100. In 2004, Joe got a 100 rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League and a zero from National Right to Life. His American Conservative Union rating was zero. His Christian Coalition rating was zero. The National Rifle Association, which grades by letters, gave Joe a big, fat "F."

But as long as you support war in Lebanon, war in Iraq and a "war-fighting Republican Party," in the Weekly Standard's phrase, you get a pass on everything else. Beat the drum for permanent war for global democracy and against Islamo-fascism, and all other sins are forgiven you.

Such is the state of conservatism, 2006.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Joe Lieberman (I, CT)

So, it has come to this: the Dummy-crats have become so beholden to their left wing nuts that they have forced Lieberman's departure from the party. Not surprising though, see my earlier post "Party of two..." in which I prophetically used him as an example.

Here is a very interesting commentary on this turn of events, shockingly from Time (gasp!) of all sources:,8599,1224692,00.html?cnn=yes
Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Rudy Watch: Rudy Giuliani - RINO and CINO?

Found a blog that's a great head start on the 2008 GOP Presidential race.

Of course, by head start, I mean for people who aren't psycho like me and SheaHey. We've been engrossed in the 2008 election cycle for a year already.

As a New Yorker with enormous respect for Rudy (as a mayor), I still can't deny the points Nate is making on his blog: Rudy, on social issues, is conservative in name only.

If you believe natural law precludes the government from endorsing the killing of the unborn, from redefining marriage to meet the whim of our increasingly secularized electorate, and from allowing the destruction of the weak (embryos) for the gain of the strong (post-born), Rudy is not acceptable. He cannot be differentiated on these issues from most Democrats, and these are the most telling issues of our era.

Rudy was a great crime-fighter and bureaucracy-tamer when NYC needed it most. But he's the wrong Presidential candidate for conservatives.

In which I choke on my own disbelief

I'll admit it. The MSM got one half right.

You may recall the "reporting"/wishful thinking/intentional distortion of the MSM after the Mexican election. I discussed it here and here.

Well, today I happened to find a link to an article in the L.A. Times, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? An acknowledgement that Obrador is a "sore loser."

In the L.A. freakin' Times.

Note that to be a "sore loser" you must first be a "loser," which I guess makes Calderon a "winner," which I guess means that Calderon didn't defraud his nation. After all, if there were penumbras or emanations pointing to fraudulent behavior, the MSM could never admit that Obrador was the "loser."

Not that I'm fully satisfied. The LAT could have gone a step further and spoke truth to demagoguery. They could have pointed out that the socialists were too quick to point the finger of corruption, to bring their nation to a standstill, to threaten public safety, to jeopardize the public good for their own political gain. They further could have pointed out their own complicity in the stunt. And the shared complicity of most of the MSM, who were all too happy to report anything that echoed of, 'Republicans are corrupt corrupters who corrupt within a culture of corruption.'

Instead of getting completely above board, the Times glossed over the instability of the past month. Had the shoe been on the other foot, and conservative protesters had shut down roads and businesses in Mexico City for the better part of a month, I'm sure we would have been reading the most outlandish estimates of the effect on the Mexican GDP. And then reading the anecdotes of kids unable to get to their schools through thousands of fascists, rowdy drunks creating an 'atmosphere of violence and intimidation,' and so on. Instead we got this:

if Lopez Obrador only convinces a fraction of those who voted for him that he is the victim of a rapacious fraud, he can still do the country a great deal of harm.

As though the fact that he called the duly-elected President-elect a liar and a cheat, and left thousands of fellow citizens to question the validity of their own government, is water under the bridge so long as he stands down now.

And what of the fraud allegations? I had surmised the charges were unsubstantiated a month ago when my faux-MSM report concluded as follows:

To this point, Al-A.P. has not obtained objective analysis of whether the videotapes -- the alleged evidence supporting Obrador's fraud claims -- are authentic or not (if we had been able to confirm fraud by Calderon's supporters, it would have been the headline).

Sure enough, buried deep (magma deep) within today's LA Times story, was this little tidbit:

A video purported by Lopez Obrador in mid-July to show ballot stuffing in the state of Guanajuato was discounted by a representative from his own party. He replied, in typical fashion, by questioning the integrity of his party's representative

I know, I know. I shouldn't expect too much at once. Baby steps.

At least there was a belated admission that a conservative can win an election without being a cheat. Speaking truth to truthiness, so to speak.

These are not the Egyptians you're looking for...

So says conservative goddess Michelle Malkin, and I agree. Why worry? I'm sure the FBI is just tracking them down because they left their textbooks in the airport. Oh, and if you're traveling from JFK, don't eat the dates.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Party of two, your table is broken

It is clear that the U.S. has sadly fallen prey to the dark downside of the two-party system. As George Washington and John Adams presciently warned, politicians ought to be wary of the inclination to serve the party rather than the country. This is an unfortunate consequence of the two-party system, and the inherent tendency of human nature to 'draw sides' and seek competition. Rather than making decisions guided by Republican (or Democratic) principles, politicians now almost universally make decisions solely on what's best for the Republican (or Democratic) party. Politicians owe us more: they should serve the common ideas which caused them to form a party in the first place, rather than serving the party itself.

We can look at numerous examples of this gross neglect and failure on both sides of the aisle. As a Republican, I tend to focus inward on my own party's shortcomings. Several items come to mind, such as the excessive (and growing) budget and trade deficits. Didn't the liberals used to be the 'tax-and-spend' party? I'm not sure that 'cut-taxes-and-spend' is much better. Perhaps those in the federal branch should look to the example set by Gov. Romney of Massachusetts, where he has simultaneously cut taxes and balanced the budget.

It has also recently become fashionable for politicians or those in the political arena to state that they were against post-invasion occupation of Iraq, or at least against the plans in their present form. I am a strong believer in the credo that the time for debate is before the war, not during. However, subscription to this position precisely demands then that we have that much more vigorous debate and discussion before the war, so as to guarantee that we will have the right plan heading in and not need to bicker amongst ourselves (presenting a weak face to the enemy) after the fact. Why weren't the voices louder from those people who were sufficiently educated in the matter and in a position to speak out? Was it because they simply were unsure of their position, that we might need double the number of troops to secure the peace post-invasion, or that occupation by UN / NATO, rather than US, forces might be more appropriate? Or was it because they wanted to remain 'good soldiers' for the Republicans, and not break rank with louder voices in the party? Most people were in agreement that the goals of Saddam's removal and search for WMD were justified, and that portion of the plan worked well. However, there was strong disagreement from numerous qualified experts (Pentagon, State Department, Army, CIA, etc.) as to what would be required post-invasion to secure the peace. Their position was correct, yet squelched. Again, politicians should look to serve the country and people, not the party.

Our friends across the aisle are of course no better and in fact worse, since at least the Republicans have a concrete platform of ideas, beyond the simplistic "We're not republicans" mantra of the Dems. The minute someone speaks from a position of principle and breaks with the party, they suffer an enormous, unjustified backlash. Just ask Joe Lieberman and the price he is paying for supporting the Iraq war. And even the Dems have to realize that their policies of hand-outs do not actually ever result in improved quality-of-life for anyone - they simply perpetuate the situation and lock-in a guaranteed group of underachievers. This of course forces continued reliance on hand-outs, solidifying the Dems base, which is probably their ultimate motivation. A Dem politician truly interested in improving the "plight of the underclasses" would do so by raising the bar, enforcing higher standards, and truly effecting change. Of course, once that happened those people would no longer be reliant on the Dems, thereby destroying their base and consequentially making that truly beneficial policy a non-starter.

Ultimately, the country would be best served if politicians simply voted based on the principles which caused them to form parties (and get elected) in the first place, rather than simply being beholden to the party itself. Unfortunately, this is not human nature, and is the dark other side of the two-party system.


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