Monday, September 22, 2008

Candor About McCain and Conservatism: "A Conservative For Obama", by Wick Allison

Hi Newshackers,

All the uproar over our failing financial markets, and the political posturing and sloganeering from both parties about it, have focused the mainstream media on "the emerging crisis." I suppose this is to be expected. However, this seems to have obscured coverage of what I think may be the most important political news item I saw in the past week.

Thanks, Ann, for sending me this. Ann doesn't know any Republicans or conservatives, but was struck by the idea of a conservative supporting Obama for President. I was further struck that Wick Allison, the author, is a well-known, dyed-in-the-wool political conservative, a former Publisher of William F. Buckley's National Review, among other conservative bona fides.

I have heard and read occasional news reports speculating that Obama was gaining support among Independents, true pragmatic conservatives, and Libertarians, but until now I have dismissed these reports as just wishful thinking. However, after reading Mr. Allison's post, I'm wondering whether there is more to this trend than meets the eye?

Once you read this posting, you'll see why you should try to get the Independents, Conservatives, and Libertarians you know to read it. Allison reminds us what conservatism really is, and what it isn't. I know a number of people who say they are conservatives and I'm going to try to get them to read this article.



A Conservative For Obama
by Wick Allison

Mr. Allison is Publisher of D magazine in Dallas, Texas, and is a former Publisher of the National Review.

Quotes from Mr. Allison's post:

"But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask."

"...Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read The Federalist Papers."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GOP campaign twisting small-town values

Hi Newshackers,

The title and link above lead to a wonderful Op-Ed letter from the heart of small-town America, that I received from a friend who knows the author. (Thanks, John) Rosemary Weathers Burnham's letter smacks of home, middle American values and hopes, and an innate sense of political hypocrisy when presented with it.

Here are two quotes to encourage you:

"...until the marketing gurus of the Republican presidential campaign launched their "small town USA" spin. Unfortunately, the tinselly "small-town values" glittering in their marketing blitz don't seem to have much to do with the real values of my hometown."

"I wonder, what has happened to our country's sense of decency that even John McCain can't seem to stop referring to his POW experience 40 years ago?", unfortunately, has buried this excellent Op-Ed letter so far from the home page that it's not likely to get much notice. This cross-posting is an effort to see that it does.


Congratulations, Rachel Maddow, & texting acronym hell

Hi Newshackers,

I just sent a fan letter to Rachel Maddow, along with a hot tip about a list of what all those text messaging acronyms really mean. Enjoy.



Hi Rachel,

Congratulations on your new show. I'm a big fan. Keep telling it straight, with courtesy, and inviting guests that make the audience think, and I'm sure you'll be a big hit.

I really liked your guest tonight, Senator Amy Klobuchar. Her ending statement about how her daughter thought she was cool because she was appearing on your show was very real and charming. She thanked you for restoring her coolness, which she had lost because she couldn't keep up with all the chat and text messaging acronyms - and you got it back for her.

Of course, no one who has a real life to live can keep up with them. To aid us out-of-it, non-chatting, non-texting folks, my friend, Lionel, has posted an exhaustive list of these arcana on his blog, Miscellaneous Reports.

Check it out. It's interesting and funny because you can just read the list and don't have to remember them all. Forward it to the Senator, with my compliments, and maybe Kent Jones will be interested, too.

Best regards,

/Dick Jones

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Alaska Women Reject Palin" Rally HUGE!

Hi Newshackers,

Been depressed about how the mainstream media keep characterizing Sarah Palin's outrageous positions and outright lies as being credible statements and normal campaign rhetoric? Here is the antidote to your political malaise!

Visit the Mudflats blog for the headline story, and to see a video and still shots of the recent Anti-Palin rally in Anchorage AK.

Quotes from the Mudflats blog:

"Never have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state."

"So, if you’ve been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage!"

A great, hopeful story.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Is John McCain REALLY a War Hero?

Hi Newshackers,

The mainstream media are finally challenging Senator John McCain's practice of constantly injecting his time as a prisoner of war into every non-related question he answers, and I'm thankful for that slowly emerging trend. There is, however, another mainstream media reporting habit that is much more insidious, and which I have not seen challenged anywhere. It is the continual mis-characterization of John McCain as a war hero.

Calling McCain a war hero gives him powerful political and emotional appeal he does not truly deserve, and it erroneously reinforces public belief that "I WAS A POW" is a valid answer to every difficult question he faces on the issues.

May we all, citizens, Democratic spokespeople, and especially journalists, please stop referring to John McCain as a war hero? He does not meet the commonly understood definition. He is an honored veteran, and he suffered terribly as a prisoner of war, but he wasn't and isn't a war hero. There's an important difference between war hero and prisoner of war that McCain, the Republicans, and the mainstream media have completely glossed over, much to McCain's benefit politically.

Since the beginning of Senator McCain's Presidential campaign, every time one commentator on any news panel refers to his time as a POW, another panelist (often a Democratic spokesperson) calls him a war hero. This happens any time McCain is discussed, and it irks me no end becase I know the difference, and so should the moderators of our public discourse.

Unfortunately, many news people, and even Democratic spokespeople, say war hero simply to differentiate themselves. They say war hero in these situations not because they believe McCain is a war hero, but because it's a bit of conventional wisdom that the media and many people subscribe to, and by saying it, they won't have to say "POW" like the other discussant(s). Even more unfortunately, this careless habit has brought us to the place where, when people hear "POW," they also subliminally hear "war hero."

The media's tendency to mis-use, and then over use, catch-phrases is always dangerous, but it is especially dangerous in this case. The words war hero are magic words, not to be trifled with. They are such powerful words that they must be used correctly, and sparingly, or bad things will happen. They cast a halo of glory over anyone to whom they are attributed.

As a matter of fairness and balance, any person the media calls a war hero ought to be a war hero. Otherwise, war hero will lose all the special meaning it historically holds.

War hero has in the past, and should be, properly reserved for those who, in a blinding instant of pure courage and love of fellow and country, undertook desperate risks without hesitating despite the likelihood they would die doing so. War heroes are Congressional Medal of Honor, Silver Star, and Medal of Valor award winners. They are men like WWI's Sergeant Alvin York, or WWII's Audy Murphy. Men who, careless of their own safety, charged into a hail of bullets and shrapnel to take a key enemy position or to save their comrades-in-arms from death. That's a war hero.

High ranking military leaders occasionally attain "heroic" status through their brilliance in the defense of freedom. Men like Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the Allied western invasion that led to victory over Germany. But this is a symbolic heroism, not the real blood and guts thing. That's why, although he was showered with medals and awards by a grateful America after WWII, and even elected President, Eisenhower never got the Congressional Medal of Honor.

As a war hero, John McCain doesn't measure up!

I certainly honor Senator McCain's loyalty to America during his incarceration in Hanoi, and have sympathy for the horrors he endured. However, in the context of history, which is where the concept of heroism lives and breathes, he was really just another guy fighting for America who was captured during an attack. One of the many thousands of American servicemen captured during Viet Nam.

He endured his torture because he didn't die, and so his only choice was honor or dishonor. Being from a old military family, he could not bear dishonor, so he chose honor. He deserves every American's respect for that honorable and difficult choice. But, deserving respect for upholding the oath of allegiance he swore as an officer, even under such awful circumstances, is not the same thing as being a war hero.

The Great Generation, those we now honor and remember with gratitude, was comprised of men (Mainly, sorry ladies.) who endured despite the horrors of war and the death of good friends. Sometimes they were captured, imprisoned, and even tortured. They fought beside their comrades and served their country for the safety and freedom of us all, without question or expectation of reward.

In my experiences with veterans, those who suffered most in war don't want to remember their war experiences or talk about them. My Uncle John was one of those. I know that, as a Navy Seabee, he fought in the island hopping Pacific campaign against the Japanese. But, I know nothing about his experiences. He wouldn't talk about them. After a number of attempts over the years, I stopped asking. All I know for sure is that my sister, Kathie, asked him about his war experiences once, about twenty years ago. He told her, "I have nightmares enough. There's no reason you should have them, too."

My uncle, and most of these men, never claimed heroism or considered themselves heroes. They were just good people who endured what had to be endured to insure our freedom - and survived because the alternative was death. I don't think John McCain should be allowed to claim a heroism beyond theirs just because he endured, too.

Feel free to honor Senator McCain's military service and loyalty to America. I do. But, war hero? No.

/Dick Jones