You may think that we are moving into Autumn, and while that is true here in the United States, we are also moving into election season. Most of the primaries are over, so the political hopefuls will be busy bombarding everyone with their pleas for our votes.

Some people running for office are going to say things to which other people will take exception. People may even say that their comments are lies, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some people call for certain advertisements to be banned and silenced. I have a problem with banning political speech. If you object to what someone has said, the proper response is to speak up for yourself, not to call for the other person to be silenced.

And speaking of silencing other people, as I walked to work this morning I just happened to notice that there were five political signs lying on the ground. I don’t remember any strong winds blowing over the weekend. Strangely enough, only signs for Republican candidates had been uprooted. Discriminating wind? Or an example of people trying to silence the free speech of people with whom they disagree?

Any time the topic of silencing free speech arises, I think Andrew Klavan of Pajamas Media seems to sum it up best:

In case you didn’t have enough already, here is yet another reason why I don’t look to Hollywood for scholarly political analysis:

Woody Allen has a strange take on the democracy that allowed him to become rich and famous.

Uh, no. The United States is not a democracy. It is a representative Republic. There is a difference, but one that is obviously missed by the writer of the article.

In an interview published by Spanish language newspaper La Vanguardia (that we translated), Allen says “I am pleased with Obama. I think he’s brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him.”

But wait – there’s more!

The director said “it would be good…if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly.”

Do you think President Obama could get the trains to run on time if given unlimited power?

I have no desire to see anyone become a dictator in this country, even a conservative Republican whom I support 100%. I want the government to do just those few things it is supposed to do, as outlined in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and nothing else. Simply put, I’m an adult, and I don’t need some government parental-figure telling me what I should and should not do. But I’m not an immature Hollywood celebrity who desires someone else control his every decision.

Phil over at The Clue Batting Cage *plug plug* linked to an online news quiz. It’s short with just a dozen questions by the Pew Research Center, so it shouldn’t take you long.

 

I got a score of 12 out of 12. Does that make me super smart? Heck, no. But I will say that I don’t get my news from either the TV or print. I get my news from the radio and online. Make of that what you will.

12 out of 12

They published a breakdown of the twelve questions that’s worth reading. I found the breakdown of correct answers between Republicans and Democrats to be interesting. (I have blanked out the answers. No peeking.)

Republican/Democrat differences

10 out of 12 questions were answered better by Republicans, and one question was a tie. In only one question did Democrats answer better than Republicans. So if we take this small sampling and project it to the leadership in Washington, which party has a better grasp on reality?

Tomorrow is election day around the U.S. Since it is an odd year, the races are local in nature for the most part because local races are pretty odd. Federal elections for Representatives, Senators, and Presidents happen on the even years because they are even odder than local races.

To explain every political commercial you will ever see, here is Uncle Jay:

Recently I found two fun quizzes that are well worth taking. The first, which is only 12 questions long, tests how well you keep up with current news. You can find the Pew Research Center’s news IQ quiz here. I got all 12 questions right, but I try to follow the news. And I’m fairly atypical because I don’t watch the news on TV. I sometimes get my news on the radio, but the vast majority of the time I get my news from online sources, both national and international sites. Because I read and hear my news more than I watch it, I have noticed that I don’t often recognize political pundits when they appear on TV. But I can live with that.

The second quiz also comes from the Pew Research Center. This quiz, which dates from 2005, has 25 questions to determine your political stance. It separates differing test results into nine different political personality types. Based on this quiz, I come up as part of the Enterprisers group. According to the profile of types, “Enterprisers follow news about government and politics more closely than any other group, and exhibit the most knowledge about world affairs.” That would explain why I aced the first quiz.

So, how did you do with the quizzes?

The other day my niece asked me if I were planning on voting for Sen. Obama for President. I answered that I would not. She asked me why I didn’t plan on voting for Obama, so I explained that I couldn’t vote for him for two reasons. First, he doesn’t have the experience as an executive that I believe is necessary for a President. I told her that I wouldn’t choose someone to lead a large company who had no experience leading other companies first. Likewise, I couldn’t support Obama for President when he has no executive experience and when he has yet to serve out his first term as a Senator. The position of President is too important to experiment on people whom we can only hope have the skills and temperament necessary to handle the job. Then I explained that Obama’s political philosophy is the second reason why I couldn’t vote for him.

Which brought me to the question I was faced with — how to explain the difference between liberal and conservative political philosophies in a way that would make sense to an 11-year-old?

I explained to her that the two political philosophies differ fundamentally in how they view people. To liberals, Americans are children who need to be taken care of by the government; to conservatives, Americans are adults who are able to take care of themselves. And I prefer to be treated as an adult.

A day later a caller asked Glenn Beck what it means to be a conservative. Here was his response:

To be a conservative is, in my definition, is somebody that believes in the power of the individual, somebody that believes, please let me make my decisions, that I have a right to succeed and not be penalized for it. I have a right to fail and have no one run to me if I don’t want them to run to me. A conservative believes I have a right to manage my family, I have a right to discipline my family in the way I see fit, as long as it is not criminal. A conservative believes I have the right to worship God, I have a right to worship the God of my understanding, and I do not have the right to jam my version of God down anybody else’s throat or my version of no God down anybody’s throat. A conservative believes live and let live. That’s what a conservative believes. A conservative believes in the smallest amount of government, the smallest government you can get without anarchy. That’s what a conservative believes.

While I agree with that, I think it gets a little wordy. I prefer the way Jim Quinn, another talk show host, defines liberals and conservatives:

For a conservative, freedom is the solution to the human condition, and government’s job is to ensure the people’s liberty. And every new life is a potential source of creativity and wealth. For a liberal, government is the solution of the human condition, and government should force everyone to behave as it sees fit. And every new life is a potential problem and burden to be taken care of.

And that’s simple enough for an 11-year-old to understand.

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that speaks volumes in just three lines. The problem is that one word turns the whole bumper sticker into a pile of peacenik propaganda and not something I could support. Here’s a quick HTML rendition of the bumper sticker:

HONOR THE DEAD
HEAL THE WOUNDED
END THE WAR

I certainly believe in honoring our dead, particularly our military dead. As our national anthem says, they stood “Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.” And we are forever in their debt for their ultimate sacrifice. I certainly cannot argue with the call to honor our dead.

And I certainly believe in healing our wounded. Since our military men and women have placed themselves in harm’s way for us, we as a nation have the responsibility to heal them when they are wounded. Shoddy care for our wounded is a stain on our nation’s honor, and it is a stain on our government’s honor, both on the elected representatives and the faceless bureaucrats who manage our military’s care centers. And it is not acceptable. If I were President, I would submit a budget to Congress that placed a higher priority on taking care of the health of our military.

But it is the last sentence that twists the previous valid statements into craptastic peacenik propaganda. Notice that it says “END the war,” not “WIN the war.” It’s a trivial task to end any war if you’re willing to run away from the fight. If we were to run away from Iraq, *poof* the war would be over, and these useful idiots could link their arms and sing “Kumbaya” in onanistic joy.

Morons.

Contrary to what the bumpersticker crowd would have you believe, merely ending the war will not result in lasting peace. Only winning a war results in peace. I explained how this works a year ago:

Peace comes through winning the war and making the loser beg to sit at the negotiation table. Peace does not come from going to the negotiation table and signing some documents, unless the war has already been fought and won. Don’t believe me? In an attempt to appease the Germans, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sat down at the negotiation table with Hitler, but there was no peace. Germany annexed the Sudetenland that same year, invaded Poland the next, and invaded the rest of Europe by 1940. That was no peace. But after Japan signed the terms of surrender on the USS Missouri, there was peace between the U.S. and Japan for more than 60 years.

I’ll take real and lasting peace through victory any time.

I want peace. Peace is preferable to war, but as long as there are zealous Islamic nutjobs willing to kill men, women, and children to further their goals of a world-wide Islamic state, we will not have peace. We may have brief lulls between fighting, but we will not have peace.

While I don’t put bumper stickers on my car, and I doubt I ever will, the following is a bumper sticker that I could agree with 100%:

HONOR THE DEAD
HEAL THE WOUNDED
WIN THE WAR

We have an early crop of Presidential hopefuls springing up, but none all that exciting. Since Vice President Cheney has already said he won’t run, there will be no clear leaders for either the Democrat or Republican presidential candidates this year as we normally would with an incumbent President or Vice President running for the office.

What makes a good President? Well, the Constitution explains that the President is the chief executive of the country, so the President had better have good executive skills. There is no way any one person could juggle all the responsibilities of a modern American President, so a successful President ought to be able to delegate responsibilities to competent staff. But regardless of how few or many people there are to help with duties, the President is the chief executive who has to make the really tough decisions.

So what is the best way to prepare to be an American President? For the rest of this article I’ll look at the last 19 Presidents — the ones who have served from 1900 to the present — and take my calculations from their numbers. Of these 19 men, six were Vice Presidents first (G. Bush, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Truman, Coolidge). So is being a Vice President the best way to train for the job of President? I guess that would depend on the President. Some Presidents have included their V.P.s in the day-to-day workings of the Presidency, and others seem to have tolerated the office of V.P. as a necessary evil. John Nance Garner, twice Vice President under FDR, is reported to have said that the job of Vice President was “not worth a bucket of warm piss,” although the newspapers substituted the word “spit” to protect the tender eyes of their readers.

Of the six former Vice Presidents, four gained the office of President via death or resignation (Ford, Johnson, Truman, Coolidge), while two were elected President after having completed two terms as Vice President first (G. Bush, Nixon). Going solely by these numbers, you’re twice as likely to become President because of death or resignation than you are by showing how much you have learned in the Vice President slot.

What about being a Senator before running for President? Judging by the number of Senators who have announced their candidacy or who are expected to do so, you’d think the Senate would be the best place from which to launch a Presidential run, but recent history doesn’t back that theory. Only five of the last 19 Presidents had served in the Senate first (Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman, Harding), but of these five, only two left their Senatorial positions to become President (Kennedy, Harding). The other three served as Vice Presidents first. Ignoring the long odds, a Senator is a legislator and not an executive, so serving as a Senator doesn’t necessarily train one to be a good Chief Executive. This fact alone could explain the relatively few modern Presidents who were formerly Senators, and it also explains why I’ve not been excited about any Senator who runs for President.

Since the office of President is an executive position, it makes sense that people elect proven executives to that office. This could explain why so many state governors have been elected President (G. W. Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, F.D.R., Coolidge, Wilson, T. Roosevelt, McKinley). That makes nine the last time I counted them — nearly 50% of our Presidents since 1900. And whether the state is large or small, the office of Governor is an executive position. With all else being equal, I would prefer a candidate with proven executive experience over a legislator any day (but when do we ever have two candidates that are close to equal in belief and position?).

And now to prove how badly I cannot predict elections from 18 months out, I will now give my predictions for 2008. This prediction assumes (and it’s a big assumption) that there are no major upsets such as a shooting war breaking out with Iran or anyone else, another major terrorist attack on the U.S., or new revelations about the candidates popping up between now and Election Day 2008. Looking at the current crop of Democrat candidates for President, I have to give the nomination to Senator Clinton. Of the current crop of hopefuls, she has the greatest capability to raise money for her campaign, and she has the best name recognition. On the other hand, I think her biggest obstacle to being elected is her name recognition.

Of the current Republican candidates, I think it will be either Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Both candidates have more executive experience than the Republican Senators who aspire to be President.

I can’t predict who would win if it came down to a race between Senator Clinton and Mitt Romney. She would have to overcome the large group of people who actively dislike, if not outright despise her. He would have to overcome the “I can’t vote for a Mormon!” hang-up some people have, although the argument sounds so 1960s to me. But I have to believe there are fewer people with a Mormon hang-up than there are with a Hillary hang-up.

I know I’d be much happier with another Republican in office, so maybe that’s coloring my prediction.

My wife calls it a sign of the apocalypse, but at long last, Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! has posted something! Bill charts the course of a new book he is working on, and he begins with a great simile for our current situation: looking at maps. Here is a part where he explains part of the problem with the current political debate.

There was a time, an age ago, where the differences between what we call the Left and the Right seemed more or less academic; maybe the distance from one high-rise tower to its twin – close enough to see the coffee mugs and family photos on the other side’s desk.

Then something happened.

Now we peer across a divide so wide that we can no longer see the other side; where the residents of the opposing camps as not viewed as having a difference of opinion so much as being considered insane.

Two worldviews this opposed cannot both be right (although they could both be wrong). I was about to write that one of them must be closer to the truth, but I stopped myself, for often people will define truth as conforming to their ideology, rather than the reverse. But surely one of these positions, must conform better to reality, to the evidence, for anyone with an open mind to see?

Which one? And how do we tell?

Read the whole thing.