Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday roundup and branding -- the Gazette, and beyond...

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Best of the conservablogs: Again, Mike over at The Last Best Place has a roundup of highlights from the right-thinking Montana blogs. Think dextrous, not sinister -- please, for the sake of the children.

Montana educational suit-filers taking a fall break: Normally, at this time of year, the Montana Quality Education Association would already have a lawsuit working its way through the courts, suing the state of Montana for supposedly inadequate educational funding.

They are going to take a hiatus -- not because the 25% increase in funding in the last couple of legislative sessions is adequate, but because they want to work with the governor and the legislature. What a concept.

It probably helps that the governor is a Democrat and that the educational establishment is probably worried about doing anything to hurt the chances of Democratic legislators at the polls in 2008. Got to get those priorities straight -- there's apparently more to education than money. Except when Republicans are in charge. In which case, sue away!

Rehberg votes for Iraq withdrawal reports: Finally, a sensible bill requiring the President to report on withdrawal issues such as troop numbers and inventories. This is well within the role of Congress, since Congress needs such information in order to know how to fund the effort in Iraq that it has authorized the President to pursue.

There are no timetables for withdrawal -- and there shouldn't be. Rep. Rehberg's vote reflects an accurate assessment of what Congress's role should be in the Iraq war.

Huckabee strong in Iowa: Among likely Republican caucus-goers who have definitely made up their mind, Huckabee ranked #1 in a DeMoines Register poll. He ranked 3rd overall in the poll. So far, Huckabee has been running the kind of flawless stealth campaign that Fred Thompson's supporters hoped he would, and he is exhibiting an ability to communicate on the stump that only Rudy Giuliani can rival. Combine that with the bit of life breathed back into John McCain's campaign, and the GOP race just gets more interesting.

In a recent radio interview, former PA Senator Rick Santorum (rumored to be heading for a gubernatorial run) noted that something that was thought to be a relic of the past -- a brokered convention -- is actually a live possibility in 2008.

Ed Kemmick's City Lights: Praising the "Candidates Gone Wild" night recently held in Missoula, we learn that:

The soiree featured a DJ in an Afro wig spinning rap songs, a television meteorologist cracking jokes, one candidate singing a Bob Dylan song and all of the candidates doing a chicken dance. That and a full bar, too.

A cabaret troupe from Virginia City used song-and-dance numbers to provide biographical sketches of the candidates, and Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" played every time the candidates got on or off the stage.

So might having a DJ in an Afro wig playing rap songs be the missing link that Republican gatherings have been looking for as we try to reverse our recent electoral disappointments? Can Kemmick promise good, positive press for the GOP if we do this? We're about ready to try anything. GOP leaders are eagerly awaiting further advice.

Kasparov out to check-mate Putin: In a somewhat overwrought New Yorker piece, we learn more of Garry Kasparov's attempt to politically take on Vladimir Putin. As much as anything, the piece is a reminder of just what impotent forces self-important intellectuals really are in the political sphere. Kasparov is a great chess player, perhaps the greatest of all time. And his innate intelligence is beyond question.

But his politics seem to be naive at best, and his manner seems to have divided the opposition more neatly than Putin could hope for.

After all of the lengthy analysis and inside baseball of the piece, it ends with quotations from Russians who reflect the clear majority opinion in that country right now -- namely that they want Putin to stay. He has brought a measure of economic and social stability to Russia that it hasn't experienced since the rape of the economy by the "free market" barons under Boris Yeltsin.

It is not the business of Americans to pick the leaders of other nations but rather to learn to deal with them, and the fact that many on the right are falling back into old Russo-phobias here in the U.S. is unfortunate.

More to the point, it is self-contradictory, since American conservatives seem convinced that the struggle against Islamic terrorism is the most important issue facing our nation.

One can see why Kasparov would cut a romantic figure for most New Yorker readers, fitting right in with retrospectives on Jack Kerouac such as the one found in the same issue.

But for the pragmatic, it is Putin himself who remains an untapped ally in a country that has faced a militant Islam along most of its vast southern border for centuries.

"We've been here before" -- Iran this time: It is truly amazing that there are those beating the drum for war against Iran just as America is trying to stabilize things in Iraq enough to make a face-saving withdrawal (does anyone thinks that Republicans who are not on the editorial staff of the Weekly Standard are hoping for anything more than a modicum of stability and an eventual quiet withdrawal?)

But here we go again. And again, there are few voices on the right that dare say anything too negative, although the demeanor of the GOP presidential candidates generally reflects a business-like "we need to clean up the mess" attitude.

The American Conservative is one of the few places to find openly non-interventionist foreign policy expositions coming from the right. Ben Stein at the American Spectator is another who favors acknowledging that our troops won the war in Iraq and bringing them home.

From the American Conservative:

After all, we’ve been here before. Asked about Iranian activity in Iraq, spokeswoman Maj. Alayne Conway conceded that the U.S. military has not captured any agents, but “just because we’re not finding them doesn’t mean they’re not there.” She might have been reading from the script Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld used when he warned about Iraq’s phantom chemical and biological weapons: an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.


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