Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Tim Russert Story

My mother made sure I kept track of current events while growing up, and tuning in to NBC Nightly News became an unbreakable habit.

Every weekday I watched Tom Brokaw report on the news of the day and was proud to call him my anchorman. Always on hand to dive into all things political was Tim Russert, forever introduced as the "NBC News Washington Bureau Chief and Moderator of 'Meet the Press.'"

Tim was constantly stepping into the Nightly News arena with a facial expression that said he was ready for battle. I suppose it was the kind of halo you'd see surrounding people of all traits when they had everything they had to say ready on a steady train of thought.

As someone who has a phantom smile that shows itself when listening to all things political, I always wished Tim would join me in showing a sign of the inner jubilation that came with another entertaining day of partisan combat.

I'm not sure exactly when, but around the age of twelve I developed a new unbreakable habit (one that came about as a result of my inability to stop myself from talking back to the television). Every day when he was introduced on the Nightly News I'd automatically sit back and say, "Smile Tim." Enjoy the political goings on.

But Tim never did, he stuck to the professionalism that was the instinct he had for everything he did. I'll terribly miss his commentary on politics, family and am saddened that he'll be absent from the national stage in this important election year that keeps getting more entertaining as we go.

Last Friday night, Tom Brokaw asked all of us to toast a drink for "Brother Timothy." As I did I said, "Rest in peace Tim" and for the last time said, "Smile Tim." You will truly be missed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Joke has me seeing red

Another day, another improper association of the color red with the Republican Party.

This from Jonathan Martin's blog at
A classic bit of color from the senator's arrival in the Holy City and an off-schedule stop: Senator McCain’s chartered JetBlue Ebraer 190 landed right on time at 10:30 a.m. Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, dean of the Virginia Capitol press corps, joked: “He should be flying Jet RED.”
Oh, the humanity.


...this photo is currently featured on Bobby Jindal's campaign website. I haven't noticed it anywhere else, not in any newspaper or on any television network, and just might be the only picture of all the prominent guests invited to Sen. McCain's Sedona, Arizona home late last month.

NC man touched by Mike Huckabee

It's 3:00am and this story is a headline writer's dream:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Bass-playing Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee didn't get enough support to win his party's White House nomination, but he is sure to have the vote of a fellow Republican he saved from choking at the weekend.

"Oh, he's my best friend. I'm indebted for life," Robert Pittenger, who is running to be elected lieutenant governor of North Carolina, said after Huckabee helped him expel a piece of food jammed in his throat on Saturday

Huckabee, who earlier this year ceded the Republican presidential nomination to John McCain after a spirited dark-horse chase for the nod, told Fox News on Monday he didn't think twice when he stepped in and gave Pittenger the "Heimlich Maneuver" -- pressure on the abdomen to dislodge the food.

"I just happened to look up and I saw somebody patting on the back ...I knew that the worst thing you can do is pat someone on the back if they're choking," Huckabee said, noting that he had taken emergency medical training when he was younger.

"I just simply said, 'Excuse me," to the person to whom I was speaking, got up, walked over, pushed the person aside who was patting him on the back, and, you know, did not even think about being rude, just said, 'Excuse me,' and reached around Robert, gave him the Heimlich maneuver three or four times, the item dislodged, and he was fine.

"And I went back and sat down and went on with my business."

"I didn't want to see, you know, this incredibly very valuable political career cut short by a piece of chicken," he added.

Other headlines coming across the wires: "The Huckabee Maneuver," "Heimlich Huckabee," "Huckabee saves choking politician," "Mike Huckabee saves a life- and it's a Republican's!"

My lame joke that I'll soon regret: It is the hope of this blog to remind Republicans from time to time that red as a color associated with socialist/communist/liberal causes and that blue is a truer representative of conservative, free market capitalism. I do not however, condone Republicans becoming blue in the face.

Anyway, my hat's off to Gov. Huckabee!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Was the Sedona Summit a smoke screen?

Word has it via Kevin Aylward at WizBang, that A. B. Culvahouse, former Reagan administration counsel and head of Sen. McCain's V.P. search committee, has been spotted in Juneau, Alaska.

Unless Culvahouse was sent to personally deliver the bad news to Sen. Ted Stevens that he is not under consideration for the second spot on the GOP ticket, the visit is a shot in the arm to Gov. Sarah Palin's chances of becoming McCain's running-mate.

The visit also raises the possibility that last weekend's Sedona Summit was a cover for Culvahouse's search for V.P. finalists. The outing, which included Gov. Charlie Crist, Gov. Bobby Jindal as well as former Gov. Mitt Romney, attracted scores of media attention as rumors spread that McCain was sizing up potential running-mates. But if Culvahouse was conducting his own interviews under the radar at the same time, the Sedona story might have been nothing more than an effort to grab free media attention.

If so, job well done!

This is outstanding news that hopefully will ring true. I don't believe McCain could get away with simply picking a safe consensus conservative running-mate (as much as we'd like to see one as the heir apparent), the media and the Democrats would cast such a choice as further proof that McCain has abandoned his maverick roots.

But Palin could cover both the right and the center. She can fulfill the role as someone acceptable to the party base (pro-life hero, lifetime NRA member, etc.) while still playing to McCain's strengths as a budget hawk and anti-establishment Republican, gaining support from independents in the process.

Cross your fingers.

Sorry Ted.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Keep Iran Isolated

Much has been made lately about Sen. Obama's plans to talk directly with the Cuban and Iranian governments.

Today the New York Times ran a story on their web page highlighting another important issue to consider: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to lose power at home.

Highlights of the story:
TEHRAN — A rival to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected by an overwhelming majority as speaker of the Iranian Parliament on Wednesday, a strong signal of growing impatience with the president’s economic policies and a possible sign of a political shift in the country.

The new speaker, Ali Larijani, who resigned as the country’s nuclear negotiator in October over differences with Mr. Ahmadinejad, is a conservative and an ardent advocate of Iran’s nuclear program, but is seen as more pragmatic in his approach and perhaps willing to engage in diplomacy with the West.

He is considered close to Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final word on state matters. Mr. Larijani remained Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative at the Supreme National Security Council despite his October resignation.

Analysts said that Mr. Larijani’s victory could not have been possible without the support of the ayatollah and that Mr. Larijani might serve as a balancing force against Mr. Ahmadinejad’s radical policies.

“His election is a very important sign that suggests change,” said Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst in Tehran. “His election would not have been possible without the consent of the leader and this shows that Mr. Ahmadinejad is losing his support.”
This follows Ahmadinejad's party losing a round of local elections in December of 2006 and Iranian legislators once considering a proposal to move their presidential election up a year earlier, potentially delivering an early exit for the now unpopular leader.

While it would be a lie to think that Larijani, should he challenge the sitting president in 2009, would govern any different than Ahmadinejad when it comes to the development of nuclear resources for Iran, this offers a strong rationale for keeping Iran isolated.

Direct negotiation with Iran will aid whoever is seen as the head of government. Non-intervention from the United States will ensure that Ahmadinejad is not rewarded an international platform to defend and support his country's nuclear program, a certain way to boost his popularity at home, and would not put the U.S. in the position of negotiating with a man openly hostile to our ally Israel.

It would be a mistake on Sen. Obama's part to open a dialog with any high level Iranian figure. By maintaining our policy of isolating Iran we can speed the defeat of Ahmadinejad in the June 2009 election and open the door for a new, pragmatic president to come to the negotiating table.

Sen. McCain is right to follow this course. The U.S. must not empower Ahmadinejad and should only negotiate on our terms with leaders we can work with.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Getting America Moving Again: Part 1

You know the more I think about it I realize that the Iranians have their act together. It's a hard thing to admit.

But with Iran continuing its proxy war against us in Iraq after successfully waiting for the Israelis to blink in Lebanon last year and with their newfound alliance with Chavez in Venezuela, you get the drift that they're truly forming a bloc against us both in the Middle East and on our own continent.

With the presidency of George W. Bush winding down, his successful relationship with Pakistan is the only lasting inroad we've made, save for the obvious example of Afghanistan. We still are holding out for some form of victory to be salvaged in Iraq, to be determined we hope before next year comes to a close.

One of the more underrated questions that the next commander in chief will have to answer is what kind of lasting alliance can be held together to combat not only terrorism, but the governments who support them and the conditions that create them.

Enter John McCain and what I have frequently called one of his most important, and painfully underreported, speeches presented during the campaign.

Here's an excerpts from his address to the Hoover Institution back on May 1st:

"We should...start bringing democratic peoples and nations from around the world into one common organization, a worldwide League of Democracies.

This would not be like the universal-membership and failed League of Nations' of Woodrow Wilson but much more like what Theodore Roosevelt envisioned: like-minded nations working together in the cause of peace. The new League of Democracies would form the core of an international order of peace based on freedom.

It could act where the UN fails to act, to relieve human suffering in places like Darfur. It could join to fight the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and fashion better policies to confront the crisis of our environment. It could provide unimpeded market access to t hose who share the values of economic and political freedom, an advantage no state-based system could attain.

It could bring concerted pressure to bear on tyrants in Burma or Zimbabwe, with or without Moscow's and Beijing's approval. It could unite to impose sanctions on Iran and thwart its nuclear ambitions. It could provide support to struggling democracies in Ukraine and Serbia and help countries like Thailand back on the path to democracy."

The dangers of the 21st century will crush the shoulders of current international institutions unless we have an organization that can act swiftly and without the gridlock continually shown in the United Nations. A new world body that uses economic gains and prosperity as an incentive for recognition of basic human rights and freedoms could create a permanent shift against tyrants. And a quick, mobile allied military could act against terror attacks and genocide when needed.

It is an idealist goal, but one I feel is to be achieved through a realistic strategy. I'm proud that Senator McCain has a concrete plan to fight our enemies on all fronts.

You can read the speech here.