Drudge linked to a very interesting article in The Washington Times today talking about how the House has passed a bill requiring that voters show photo ID to vote by 2008 and provide proof of citizenship by 2010. Ignoring the eight House members who didn’t vote, only four Democrats supported this bill. All the rest of the Democrats, plus 3 Republicans and the lone “independent” (read Socialist), Bernie Sanders, voted against the bill.

The so-called “Voter ID” bill, aimed at stamping out voter fraud, would require voters in federal elections to provide picture identification by 2008 and provide proof of U.S. citizenship by 2010. It was among the recommendations made last year by the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, headed by former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, a Republican.

“Effective voter registration and voter identification are bedrocks of a modern election system,” they wrote in their final report.

But Democrats, siding with groups that work on behalf of minorities and illegal aliens, called the bill a “modern-day poll tax” and said it would place an insurmountable burden on voters and infringe upon their voting rights.

Did you catch the part I bolded? Democrats are siding with people who work on behalf of illegal aliens, saying that this bill will infringe on their voting rights. Let me make this abundantly clear: Illegal aliens do NOT have voting rights! What part of “ILLEGAL” do these Democrats have a problem comprehending? It’s clear that all but three of the Republicans understand this concept.

Rep. Brian Bilbray, California Republican, countered that the real infringement upon voting rights would be allowing fraudulent votes by the dead or illegal “to cancel out legitimate votes.”

Need more proof that Democrats are unwilling to accept that voter fraud is a problem? Glad you asked.

Democrats, who have long demanded reforms to the federal voting process, [But are completely unwilling to actually do anything about it - CM] yesterday dismissed Republican concerns about voter fraud.

“Show me the examples of the problem you’re trying to solve,” demanded Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat who accused Republicans of trying to appeal to the “fear and — yes, perhaps — the prejudices of people.”

A Republican cited a study by Johns Hopkins University that found 1,500 dead people who had voted in recent elections. Mr. Hoyer belittled the study, saying no criminal convictions for voter fraud had been won in any of those cases.

Mr. Bilbray pointed out that such convictions might be obtained if proper identification were required.

“Voter fraud is not something you can come back to after the fraud is committed,” he said. “The person who voted for those dead people is long gone by the time it comes up on the record.”

I’ve written before about voter fraud and what I’d like to see done to combat it. Photo ID is a good step, and proof of U.S. citizenship is absolutely necessary, but there are other steps we can take to protect our votes and the voting process. Yet Democrats are opposing even the most basic steps. But the reason why they oppose it is not hard to understand.

Democrats are clearly in favor of illegal aliens voting and other forms of voter fraud, because they believe it serves their interests.

Adapt or perish.

This is not just a simple catch-phrase. It has been proven often enough to reach the same level of trust as Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity. Here on Earth, that which cannot (or will not) change and adapt will not long survive. A plant that cannot adapt to changing weather will die off in periods of extra rain or sunlight, while those plants better suited to handle changing weather will survive. Several months ago, I hung two potted plants from the front porch overhang without realizing that they were shade-loving plants. While I kept them well watered, the hot afternoon sun scorched them over the passing weeks. They couldn’t adapt to direct sunlight.

People demanded that logging stop in the Pacific Northwest because the northern spotted owl supposedly couldn’t adapt to living anywhere other than in old-growth forests. We discovered that spotted owls were more adaptable than we had thought when they were “spotted” nesting in abandoned Kmart signs. While this says nothing about their taste in stores, it does show that spotted owls can adapt. The dodo and the Carolina parakeet (actually a type of parrot) are two bird species that failed to adapt to humans and the animals they brought with them. The last known dodo died in 1681, while the Carolina parakeet became extinct in 1918. As the glaciers melted and pulled back, the mastodons and many other Ice Age animals failed to adapt to the warming weather and died out. If you look at the entire history of Earth, over 90% of all animal and plant species have failed to adapt. You could say that the default state for any species is to be an honorable mention in some National Geographic article on extinction.

The concept does not just apply in ecological terms. Nations and civilizations must also learn to adapt or perish. History is filled with once-great nations that no longer exist. While not every fallen nation has vanished away, there is a long list of once-powerful nations: Minoa, Sumeria, the Anasazi, the Vikings, Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Hittites, Greece, Troy, China, Persia, India, Rome, the Mayans, the Inca, the Olmecs, the Toltecs, the Aztecs, the Holy Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Spain, France, Holland, England. A people or nation that cannot adapt to changing times tends to fade away. The nations that used bronze weapons were no match for those armed with iron. Nations armed with iron were no match for those using steel. The mounted French knights at Agincourt were no match for the British longbows. It is said that military generals are always ready to fight the last war all over again, but those generals who fall into this trap have not adapted, and they and their troops are likely to perish for this mistake. Terry Pratchett wrote a tongue-in-cheek story of a battle between the Greeks and Trojans where both sides created large wooden horses and waited for the other side to bring them into the city. Humor aside, it is easy to illustrate the horrors of fighting a war unprepared, as when Polish mounted cavalry charged German armored tanks at the beginning of World War II. While I think this act arose more of desperation than from a backward-looking mindset, the results were just as gruesome.

As in war, so in business; a company that cannot adapt will also fail. With the advent of the automobile, buggy-whip makers faced a loss of business. It’s easy to find examples of adaptable and non-adaptable businesses. When The Inkwell, a book and stationery store in Corvallis, Oregon, found that the stationery business was insufficient to stay afloat, the owners expanded into selling home furnishings. Now The Inkwell, despite its odd name, thrives. In the 1980s and 1990s, WordPerfect was the gold standard in word processing software; now it claims only a tiny fraction of market share; Novell’s NetWare was likewise the leading networking OS, but it has lost its lead to Microsoft. Novell, who at one time owned both these software programs, has tried to adapt by branching into Linux software and suing Microsoft. Microsoft will pay over half a billion dollars to Novell to avoid going to court over NetWare’s failure to compete, but Novell is continuing to press a suit about Microsoft having unfairly caused WordPerfect to shrink its market share. Having worked at WordPerfect Corporation during the time it was bought by Novell, I know exactly why WordPerfect failed — not because Word was a superior product, nor because Microsoft shut Novell out with unfair business practices, but because Novell utterly failed to develop and market its own product. If Novell fails to adapt, it too will perish. (I am composing this comment, as I do all my comments, on my trusty copy of WordPerfect. It’s still the best.)

Political parties that do not adapt will fail. The Federalist Party was replaced by the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party. Nothing says that either the Democrats or the Republicans will remain viable political parties forever. If one or the other fails to adapt, it will vanish away. Some commentators are pointing to the recent election as an indication that the Democrats have failed to adapt to the facts of modern life and are still stuck in the 1960s. While this argument rages on, my wife pointed out an interesting set of reactions from the Marxist left:

The Left’s response to 9/11/01:
“Tragedy. Why would they do such a thing to us? Clearly we do not understand them; we are ignorant of their beliefs and traditions and do not yet recognize why they feel they were justified in what they did. Could it be that they *were* justified? As a nation, we must humble ourselves, make an effort to learn about their customs, culture and religious beliefs; only then will we begin to understand why this happened.”

The Left’s response to 11/2/04:
“Terrible, ignorant, backward people did this! They are all bigoted, primitive religious fanatics devoted to a worthless, outdated worldview, and progress frightens them! We realize now that they are all around us, everywhere, and if our way of life is to continue, they MUST be stopped!”

Am I the only one who noticed their logic is just a tad widdershins?

Adapt or perish.

Today is Election Day in the United States. Initially I thought this was a day specifically prescribed by the Constitution, but a quick reread shows that the first Tuesday of November (assuming it isn’t also the first day of the month) is not specified as election day. That was later decreed by Congress. This would explain why several states have come up with the idea of “early voting” this year as a response to the many cries of “disenfranchisement” raised in the 2000 election.

What is disenfranchisement? Rather than the generic definition of depriving someone of a franchise (“Go away, you! This is my McDonald’s now!”), disenfranchisement in this political arena means to deprive someone of the right to vote. There are laws on the books right now that strip convicted felons of the right to vote, as well as the rights of freedom and free assembly, among others. Because of their actions, felons have lost their right to vote. Our laws also disenfranchise another large group of people — non-Americans. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you may not vote in our elections. But give it some time, and you will find that more people will petition that non-citizens be given the right to vote here.

There are people who claim that accidentally voting for the wrong candidate disenfranchised them. Remember the folks in Floriduh? “I’m such a blithering idiot, I can’t follow a simple punch ballot.” Assuming that these people actually were thickheaded enough to pick the wrong guy, they did vote, so they were not disenfranchised. They were just morons. Then there is the often-used lie that a million blacks were disenfranchised in Florida because their votes were not recounted, or because there were over-votes (more than one vote for President on a ballot) or under-votes (no votes for President on a ballot). In each case, the people were allowed to vote; thus their rights were not denied. About the only voters who ran the risk of being disenfranchised were the military voters whom Democrat lawyers petitioned the state to ignore — this from the same people who chanted “every vote should count” later in November. Oh, the irony.

In reality, when Democrats and Republicans say that every vote should count, they mean two different things. Democrats mean that every vote should count by all the people, dead or alive, citizens or not, for as many times as they voted. This is why the dead of Chicago vote again and again, and why Chad Staton got crack cocaine from a NAACP worker in Ohio for filling out 124 false voter registration forms. “Vote early and vote often” is not just a silly phrase for Democrats. Republicans mean that every vote should be counted once, and only once, for every legal voter because that is what the law says. But this idea is too strict and narrow-minded for the Marxist Left. They want their power back, and what’s a little voter fraud between friends as long as they get what they want?

I’ll tell you what I want — I want every American citizen who cares to vote, to vote once and only once. I would not force people to vote. I would not fine people who choose not to vote. But I would strictly prosecute anyone who votes illegally in any way. The first thing I would do is require everyone to register to vote again, making all current registrations null and void. To register to vote, each citizen would have to prove his or her identity with a valid photo ID and proof of U.S. citizenship. When I got my new driver’s license last month, I had to prove I was who I said I was with a valid out-of-state license and birth certificate papers, and having proven who I was, I took advantage of the “motor voter” laws to register right then to vote. But I could have walked down to the county voter registration office and registered to vote with nothing but some proof that I lived in the county. No photo ID or proof of U.S. citizenship was necessary in that office; it would have been easy to fool them. Clearly, proving your identity for a driver’s license is more important in this state than ensuring a clean voter registration roll.

Second, I would ensure that you must be present to vote. This means I would not allow absentee ballots, since unless you are present there is no way of proving you are who you say you are. If you cannot be in your home district to vote, then you cannot vote. The only exception I would allow would be for active military deployed overseas. When a voter arrives to vote, three things would be necessary: a valid photo ID like a current state driver’s license or U.S. passport, proof of citizenship, and proof of registration.

Third, I would ensure that the ballots are not easily tampered with. After proving identity and citizenship, the voter would then sign his or her name to the voter roll and fingerprint both the signature and the ballot. This ballot would be numbered and trackable. Punch-card ballots are too easily tampered with and would not be allowed. Neither would I allow the paperless electronic voting machines being advocated around the U.S. It is too easy for votes to disappear when there is nothing physical to count again if needed. I would only allow optically scanned ballots that the voter completes by filling in the appropriate circle with a pen. These ballots can be read quickly by counting machines, and recounted easily. This system combines the best parts of computer ballot tabulation and the physical paper trail necessary to ensure the honesty of elections.

Finally, I would punish harshly anyone who falsely registers or tampers with ballots. Since these people have tampered with the voting process, one just punishment would be permanent disenfranchisement. It is only fitting, after all.

Sadly, I am realistic enough to know that these steps will never be taken in my lifetime. But I can dream.

So get out there and vote today. If you are registered, and if you do it honestly. If not, let me sincerely invite you to go directly to hell, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

Addendum (11/2/2004): Drudge is reporting some exit poll results before the polls officially close with a caution that these results are very unreliable. If the results are unreliable, and have been historically unreliable, WHY THE #@$% ARE YOU REPORTING THEM! Grrr! If I could, I would ban all reporting of exit poll results until after the polls actually close. You can scream about a violation of your freedom of speech, but I believe that right is trumped by the responsibility of not allowing the election to be affected in mid-polling.

Addendum (11/3/2004): Here I am, awake at 5 am, and looking over election results for the past hour. I am so very glad that President Bush pulled such large numbers to make it harder to repeat the prolonged vote haggling we got in 2000 in Florida. This year it looks like Ohio is the contested state, but with President Bush significantly in the lead, Ohio’s 20 electoral votes should be given to President Bush and seal the election. The only possible snag are the provisional ballots, and while there are currently more than the vote difference between President Bush and Senator Kerry, they won’t matter. Captain Ed points out that Ohio will only swing to Senator Kerry if 100% of the provisional ballots are accepted and if 100% of the accepted ballots go to Senator Kerry. And neither will happen. I hear the fat lady singing, Senator, don’t you?

Addendum (11/3/2004): Apparently Senator Kerry heard her and conceded. This shows some class on his part more than Al Gore. What else can I say but “Four more years!”

Addendum (11/9/2004): There are people who are so sorry that President Bush won. And others who are not sorry. I submitted the following image to the sad-sack crowd, but I doubt it will ever be posted.

Yarr harr harr harr!

Last time I wrote about countries with single or multiple political parties. The American political system, however, is geared toward two major political parties.

George Washington decried political parties, but even before he left office, two parties had formed. To the right, I have outlined how the two major parties have shifted over the years. The first two to form were the Democrat-Republicans, centered around Thomas Jefferson, and the Federalists, centered around John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. Other than the election of John Adams after Washington, the Federalists failed to elect another president from their party. By the 1820s the Federalists had atrophied and disappeared. In fact, all four candidates for president in 1824 were Democrat-Republicans. The Democrat-Republican name was awkward and often shortened to either Democrat or Republican. At the time, the name Democrat brought to mind the mob rule of revolutionary France; it was sometimes used by the Federalists in a derogatory manner. Since the Constitution guarantees a republican form of government, this term was a neutral and vague title, and was generally preferred for use by the party. However, after his election in 1824, Andrew Jackson officially shortened the name of the party to Democrat. At this time, the remaining Federalists and the Democrats who opposed Andrew Jackson banded together to form the Whig party. The Whigs were strongest from 1824 to 1856, and they succeeded in electing four presidents during that time: William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Millard Fillmore.

The modern Republican party was formed in 1856 with a strong anti-slavery plank, and John Frémont, the first Republican candidate for president, ran on the platform of “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Frémont.” This party incorporated many former Whigs, and as the Republican party ascended, the Whig party ceased to exist. With the 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to be elected president. Since this time, the American presidency has passed between the Democrat and Republican parties. There have been numerous third-party candidates, mostly formed around a specific person (the “Bull Moose” party around Theodore Roosevelt, the Reform party around Ross Perot) or an idea or philosophy (Anti-Masonic, Free Soil, Greenback, Socialist), but none of these parties has succeeded in electing a candidate to the presidency or generating long-term support.

The American system works best with two large political parties. This is caused by ballot laws that promote the major parties, but also by the “winner-take-all” method of votes. Basically, winner-take-all means that in an election for a position like mayor, the candidate with the most votes will “take all” — being elected to the mayorship, while the rest get to make concession speeches. This is known as “Single-Member District Plurality” in political science, but other than poli-sci majors and Jeopardy contestants, who really cares? OK, I like Jeopardy, so here’s a great Final Jeopardy answer: “This principle asserts that a winner-take-all election system naturally leads to a two-party system.” If you said, “What is Duverger’s Law?”, you should look at competing against current Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings.

People have made a big deal over Vice President Al Gore getting more votes than President George W. Bush in the 2000 election, but Americans do not elect their president based on the popular vote. The Founding Fathers of the United States were hesitant to create a true democracy, where the majority vote wins, since they knew that system is inherently unstable. Once a democracy learns it can vote itself goodies from the public coffers, the people quickly vote themselves into bankruptcy. It is also susceptible to the tyranny of the majority, where the rights of the few are trampled by the mob.

Rather than the popular vote, the president is chosen by the Electoral College. The individuals in a state are not really voting for a president; they are voting for an Elector who will then vote for the candidate. Each state has the same number of Electors as it has people in Congress. So Wyoming has three Electors for its one Representative and two Senators, while California has 55 for its 53 Representatives and two Senators. In our “winner-take-all” system, the political party whose candidate gathers the most votes gets to select all the Electors for that state, except in Maine and Nebraska where the winner gets two votes (for the Senators) and the rest of the votes are distributed according to the winner of each congressional district. Confused? You can read all the trivia and history about this that your poor eyes can stand at the Electoral College’s website.

With the closely-contested election of 2000, and in pretty much every election cycle, people have discussed getting rid of the Electoral College and shifting to a nationwide election for president based on the majority of votes. While we now have the technology to do this, I believe it isn’t a good idea. First, it would require changing the Constitution, an act not easily achieved. Second, it would negatively affect states with smaller populations. Let’s pick on Wyoming with its sparse population to illustrate this. In our current system, Wyoming’s 3 electoral votes out of 538 is more than three times the percentage of Wyoming’s population divided by America’s population. In an election determined by popular vote, the candidates would only need to campaign in the most populous states and kiss off the smaller ones. But since the president represents all Americans, it’s a good idea to all states from populous California down to meager Wyoming.

Since 270 electoral votes or more are necessary to elect a president, it is critical that a presidential hopeful have the greatest number of votes in each state. In our two-party system, the voters may chose to elect either a Democrat or a Republican for president. A commonly seen corollary of Duverger’s law (and you thought I wouldn’t bring it up again) is the spoiler effect of a third-party candidate, effectively siphoning votes away from one of the two leading candidates. You could make the argument that Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential run pulled enough votes away from George Bush to push Bill Clinton into the lead. This was definitely the case in the 1912 election. Theodore Roosevelt pulled enough Republican voters away to his “Bull Moose” party (officially called the Progressive party) that Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected. You can spend some time (as I did) at Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections site and look at elections such as 1884, 1888, and 1892 when third-party candidates had more votes than the difference between the first two candidates. Had these third-party candidates not run, the numbers had pulled could have thrown the election either way.

My wife asked if there had ever been a third party that managed to get a president elected. In a word, no, and for a tautologous reason: once a third party succeeds in placing one of its candidates in the presidency, it has become a majority party. This last happened 144 years ago when the then four-year-old Republican party succeeded in putting Abraham Lincoln into the White House.

Even though George Washington decried political parties, envisioning the United States running just fine without any of them, parties had already begun to form as Washington left office. As political parties often form around charismatic leaders or a common idea or cause, it isn’t surprising that two parties quickly formed around the ideals of Thomas Jefferson on the one hand, and the beliefs of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams on the other. Once a party begins, it needs some recognizable name and/or symbol to make identification easier. This has led to such symbols as donkeys, elephants and eagles, and such names as Democrats, Whigs, GOP, Greens, PRI, PAN, and ungainly mouthfuls like “Workers World Party” and “We The People, American People’s Party.” (You can see a longer listing of presidential hopefuls at Politics1. My favorite longshot candidates are running on the Socialist Workers Party ticket; even if they somehow got the necessary votes to become President and Vice-President, they could not legally hold office. Roger Calero is not an American citizen, and Arrin Hawkins is younger than the Constitutionally mandated age of 35 years. Talk about a double duh for them.)

Since political parties are inevitable (and sometimes hysterically funny), just how many do we really need? Let’s look at several examples of party systems as they currently exist. In a parliamentary system, as found in most of Europe, it is easy for a small political party to gain a few seats. It is therefore extremely difficult for a single party to gather enough seats in parliament to have a majority and thus gain control of government. To attain this majority, a larger party will sometimes extend offers to smaller parties and form a coalition. You can see this in Israel as the Likud and Avoda parties form alliances with smaller religious and radical parties. Another example is nicely summarized here:

The classic historical example of this sort of multiparty system is France’s Fourth Republic (1946 – 58). In the various elections no party ever came close to obtaining a majority in the National Assembly. Therefore, governments were always the result of coalitions of many parties. These governments would last only so long as they avoided important and contentious issues. When such issues arose (as eventually they must), they would tear the coalition apart and force the resignation of the government. The net result was a government that was incapable of addressing itself to the most pressing problems facing the society. In 1958 the French, under Charles de Gaulle, ratified the Fifth Republic, which provided for a cross between a presidential and a parliamentary system and gave the president a specified term of office and extensive powers.

So if you are of the opinion “that government is best which governs least,” the parliamentary system is for you. As long as no single party gains enough control and coalitions are necessary, the government will be paralyzed, unable to make sweeping changes. Of course, such a country is also paralyzed when it comes to important problems that demand immediate action, such as war. Parliamentary coalitions, in addition to being slow to affect change, also award more influence to the smaller parties than their numbers would ordinarily allow. Since these small parties are necessary to form a coalition majority, they often engage in coalition blackmail, effectively threatening to pick up the political ball and go home; this tactic reduces the coalition below the majority numbers needed. And there seems to be no end of these parties. Check out Italy’s kajillion political parties, for example.

It is possible to go to the other extreme and have only one controlling political party. This is normally the case in repressive governments like China, the Soviet Union, North Korea and Iraq under Saddam Hussein. In these countries, the act of voting is meaningless. Do you suppose Brezhnev or Saddam would have stepped down if the vote had ever gone against them? Fat chance of that!

But it is possible for a real democracy to have one controlling party. Our southern neighbor, Mexico, was led by just such a political party for almost 70 years. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI) controlled federal and local offices in its centralized, authoritarian party. While other political parties existed, they did not have anywhere near the numbers that PRI had. In an attempt to deter some of the re-election concerns which plague and distract American presidents at the end of their first terms, Mexico has decreed that its president may only be elected to a single six-year term. Unfortunately, this law has had unintended consequences; namely, since there is no way they can be re-elected, Mexican presidents have rarely concerned themselves with public accountability during their term of office. The PRI party bosses would select the next PRI president, who would inevitably be elected. (This political tradition only changed in 1999, when PRI held its first-ever presidential primary.) Since Mexico was controlled by a single party, corruption ran rampant. My Mexican friends complained that each president, at the end of his term, would loot the national treasury and flee to another country. Since he knew he would be followed by another PRI president and protected by PRI people in every level of government, he never feared being brought to justice for his actions.

The PRI stranglehold on political control started to fail in the 1980s, as the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party, or PAN) won its first state governorship. This was considered about as meaningful to Mexican politics as the Minnesota governorship of Jesse Ventura was to the USA, but it did indicate changes to come. In 1988, PRI managed to retain control of the presidency thanks to widely-claimed “voting irregularities” (read: voter fraud), but a year later it lost six state governorships. In 1997, PRI lost majority control of the lower house of the legislature, and the mayorship of Mexico City also slipped out of PRI control. Finally, in July 2000, the Alianza por Cambio (Alliance for Change) was successful in electing PAN candidate Vicente Fox Quesada to the presidency. This broke a cycle of PRI presidents unchallenged since 1929.

Thus far I have examined foreign governments, both those run by multiple parties and those controlled by a single party. In my next article I will discuss the American two-party system, its history and its benefits to society.

Democrats are widely recognized as the party championing free speech. You can see this by how the Republicans react to bad press. When Richard Clark published Against All Enemies, Vice-President Dick Cheney condemned it and demanded that national bookstores not carry it. When Michael Moore’s anti-Bush film Fahrenheit 9/11 came out, President Bush sent his lawyers to several prominent theater chains and threatened them with lawsuits if they showed the movie.

Remember that? If you do, you are proof positive that alternate Earths exist. In this reality, it is the Democrats who have attempted to stifle the political speech of their conservative opponents. When Unfit for Command, the book by John E. O’Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, hit the presses, Senator Kerry sent his minions to tell the bookstores they should think of withdrawing the book from the shelves. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group started airing its first ad against Senator Kerry, the Democrats issued letters to TV stations in an attempt to stop the ads.

Senator Kerry is demanding that President Bush condemn the Swift Boat Veterans and force them to stop their ads. Kerry wants this for a good reason — the ads are proving to be extremely effective against his campaign. This coming from the candidate who proudly claimed, “Well, if [Bush] wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: ‘Bring it on.’” When the Swift Boat Veterans actually brought it on, Kerry’s response was to whine about how mean they are: “[The Swift Boat Veterans are] a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won’t denounce them tells you everything you need to know — he wants them to do his dirty work,” Senator Kerry said. Is it far-fetched to think Kerry and other Democrats would muzzle the Swift Boat Veterans and other political opponents if they believed they could get away with it?

Have you noticed the interesting shift in focus with Senator Kerry, President Bush, and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Despite what Kerry’s campaign has claimed, this organization isn’t a front for President Bush. The Swift Boat Veterans are a bunch of Democrats and Republicans who have come together to protect their collective reputation from a man who, thirty years ago, vilified their actions as war crimes before the Senate. The issue is between them and Senator Kerry, but Kerry is trying to bring President Bush into the fray. Kerry has even dispatched some Democrat veterans to President Bush to plead with him to stop the Swift Boat Veterans group. Free tip to Senator Kerry: men fight their own battles. You can stop all of this simply by releasing your records and telling the truth.

But the truth is far from what Senator Kerry wants. How can I say this? Precisely because Kerry refuses to release his full military record. President Bush has done so, but Senator Kerry won’t. Rather than dealing with the facts as they are, he and his liberal friends are calling for their political opponents to stop talking. They are all in favor of their own right to free speech, but when others try to exercise that same fundamental freedom, they call it “hate speech” and try to suppress it. You can sum this up as “free speech for me, but not for thee.”

The Swift Boat Veterans group is a 527, named after the legal code number permitting these third-party groups to exist. Thanks to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform act to stop the spread of “soft money” in campaigns, we now have 527s spending more soft money on this presidential election than they ever did before. Behold Jim Quinn’s First Law in action: Liberalism always produces the exact opposite of its stated intent. Anyway, here’s Senator Kerry complaining to President Bush about the Swift Boat Veterans 527; odd, when the liberal 527s are far better funded. Let’s compare the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against MoveOn.org, a liberal organization. This information is filed data from Aug. 23, 2004.

Swift Boat Veterans
for Truth
MoveOn.org
Contributions: $158,750 $9,086,102
Expenditures: $60,403 $17,435,782

It’s pretty sad to see Senator Kerry get all jittery over the Swift Boat Veterans, demanding that President Bush make them stop airing their ads, when the Swifties have spent barely 3/10 of 1% of the money that MoveOn.org has spent on its negative ads against President Bush. Granted, these numbers are a bit old and the Swifties have picked up more contributions since the first ad aired, but the disparity is still enormous. But that’s not a problem for the liberals. Spending money on their own viewpoints is OK, but heaven help the little guy who tries to speak out against liberals.

President Bush has spoken out against all 527s, saying “I hope my opponent joins me in condemning these activities of the 527 — I think they’re bad for the system.” So far Senator Kerry has refused to do so, and it is financially in his interest to remain mum. After all, the liberal 527s are waging his war for him, and “schlocumentaries” like Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 have provided over $100 million in attacks against President Bush. Don’t wait for the Democrat condemnation. It’s not coming.

The Left has made much of Benjamin Ginsberg, who was serving both as an election lawyer for President Bush and as an adviser for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group, and who has since resigned from the President’s service. But here’s a key sentence from the sixth paragraph: “Lawyers on the Democratic side are also representing both the campaign or party and outside groups running ads in the presidential race.” What? Democrats are doing the same thing?!? But did you hear any of this on the nightly news? Nope. Nor will you hear about these Democrat lawyers quitting due to conflict of interest. If you want to read about the ties between Senator Kerry’s campaign and liberal 527s, you will have to search outside the dominant liberal press, but the truth is available — regardless of how much Senator Kerry doesn’t want you to know about it.

And why doesn’t he want you to know about it? Because the truth is sinking his run for President, and the liberals can’t have that. So it is free speech all day and night for them, but when conservatives exercise the same right, the liberals cry foul. It’s free speech for me, but not for thee.

Addendum (8/28/2004): Captain Ed of Captain’s Quarters Blog sums up the whole 527 brouhaha nicely. You best be reading this fine work.

In a previous Captain’s Comment, I mentioned the turmoil in Texas over redistricting. The law allows for voting districts to be redrawn after each national census, and it has traditionally been the perk of the party in power to draw the new district lines. During the decades of Democrat control of Texas, the Democrats exercised their majority power in configuring the districts as they saw fit. But now that the Republicans are in power, the Democrats are having fits.

After angry words and an attempt to run away, the Democrats in Texas have finally realized that they don’t have the majority power any more, so they can’t ram through the bills that they want. They have already shown themselves to be spoiled children who will take their ball and go home (or to Oklahoma) if things don’t go their way, and this tendency hasn’t changed much in the last little while. Granted, the Democrats are no longer running away to Oklahoma and hiding out there as they did last year; instead, they are going to the courts to stop the Republicans. It just isn’t right that the Republicans get to have the same fun that Democrats had, and the strong arm of the judicial branch is just what the Democrats need to rein in the fun. Only it hasn’t worked.

Many different Democratic groups have filed lawsuits in an attempt to stop the redistricting of Texas, claiming that it harms minority voting rights. A widespread collection of groups has come together to champion the “little guy” in Texas: the Texas Democratic congressional delegation, mental powerhouse Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, fellow Democratic Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas, the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Coalition of Black Democrats, and various other Democratic groups. Actually, they aren’t that widespread after all — they are all liberals. Surprise, surprise!

On January 6, 2004, a three-member judicial panel upheld the redistricting plan put forward by the Republicans. In an amicus brief, the liberals asserted the Republicans were trying to “redraw the state’s congressional districts solely for the purpose of seizing between five and seven seats from Democratic incumbents.” In their finding, the justices responded, “It was clear from the evidence that this assertion is true.” It is true, but that doesn’t invalidate the action. This is the normal “spoils of war” for the winning party. Sour grapes if you ask me, since the Democrats were happy enough to do the very same thing in 1991 when they controlled redistricting.

If things go well in the 2004 Congressional elections for the Republicans, they will pick up a large majority of the Texas seats and strengthen their control of the state. But this is not a foregone conclusion. The Democrats configured their boundaries in 1991 to suit their needs and make control easier, but they lost control all the same. This idea is reflected in the judges’ comment, “In Texas, redistricting advantages can be overcome through the political process. The exchange of political advantage between the Democrats in 1990 and the Republicans in 2000 demonstrates this reality.”

While it is true that the Republicans drew up the new map to benefit themselves, this action was not racially motivated. Contrary to the Democrat claim that redistricting would harm minority voting rights, the court sided with the Republicans and said that the current plan would not harm minority voting rights, nor was the plan crafted with racial bias in mind. In examining the action of placing a large Democratic area of southeast Tarrant County into District 26, the judges said, “The actions were not taken because of race; they were taken in spite of it.” Judges Patrick Higginbotham and Lee Rosenthal said, “We are compelled to conclude that this plan was a political product from start to finish. The myriad decisions made during its creation were made in spite of, and not because of, its effects upon blacks and Latinos.”

I find it very interesting and telling that liberals look at people as groups, not as individuals. To a Democrat, you are Black, Latino, Gay, Female, or some other easily-pigeonholed group. And you had better go along with their idea of how this group should behave and think, or you are an “Uncle Tom” like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or “not Latino enough” like former judicial nominee Miguel Estrada. If you stray from the Democrats’ idea of how your group should think, act and vote, then you cease to be Black, Latino or any other minority group to which the Democrats pander.

This viewpoint is clear when you hear the comments and arguments put forth by Democrats against this redistricting. Judging by their rhetoric, you’d guess there were churches and crosses burning all across Texas. U.S. Representative Martin Frost, a Democrat from Dallas, said, “By judicial fiat, a three-judge federal panel has effectively repealed the Voting Rights Act and turned back the clock on nearly 40 years of progress for minority voters.” Is a person’s right to vote restricted or repressed if that person is part of a minority group in any given area? While I lived in Washington, I was very much in the minority as a conservative. Did that mean my right to vote was somehow thwarted since none of the senators, representatives, or governors I voted for were ever elected? Who said I had the right to elect a person? I don’t. I have the right to vote for someone, and if that someone gathers sufficient other votes, then that someone is elected.

Let’s imagine a ludicrous example: suppose the boundaries for a district were changed in such a way that each district were filled with Republican voters and one lone Democrat. Has the voting right of the Democrat been violated? No. He is still able to cast his vote for the candidate of his choice, just as everyone else can. But to hear the Democrats go on about the Texas redistricting, they seem to think that a liberal candidate failing to be elected to office is somehow an infringement of their rights. And the Democrats will march out of state and launch lawsuits to make sure none but their favorite minorities get to elect their chosen candidates.

But don’t make the mistake of being a minority who doesn’t kowtow to the liberal notion of how a minority person should behave. Then these champions of race and equality will turn on you faster than you can say “Oreo” to Condoleezza Rice.