"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Friday, November 12, 2004

A Smart Democrat Strategy

If Democratic leaders start listening to Dan Gerstein, the Republicans will find it a lot harder to win elections.

Then again, if Democrats start listening to Dan Gerstein, the Democratic Party will become worth losing to again.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Thank You, Veterans

My wife's a teacher, and she got her kids involved with something called Letters To The Front. It's a contest where people write 100-200 word letters to service members; after the judging, all the letters will be delivered to U.S. military personnel. I wrote one, but I'm gonna miss the deadline. So I'll post it here.
Dear Service Member,

I just want to say thanks for keeping my little boy safe. He’s just turned one year old, and his world is getting bigger and bigger every day. He doesn’t yet know the word “enemy”, nor does he know the words “war”, “pain”, “sacrifice”, or “death.”

But just because he doesn’t yet know these words does not mean they are not real. Indeed, they are real; my little boy already has enemies who seek to inflict pain and death upon him. They declared war on him and all such innocents like him.

Yet he is protected by people he does not know and may never meet—like you. Right now you are sacrificing for him, putting yourself on the line and facing hardships and dangers so he doesn’t have to.

I don’t know who you are, but when it comes time to teach my son the meaning of the words “sacrifice”, “honor”, “courage”, and “hero”, I will be telling him about you.

Thank you for your protection and service and the meaning you pour into the words that will protect my little boy.
Find a veteran and thank them today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

In Praise of John Ashcroft

John Ashcroft is resigning as Attorney General.

This man will go down in history as one of the top Attorneys General we've ever had. The challenges he's faced in his tenure have been tremendous and unprecedented. He changed the mission of the Justice Department on the fly from prosecuting crimes already committed to preventing terrorist acts by nabbing the culprits before they could strike. He's weathered the howls of hatred and bigotry with grace and toughness. His shoes will be hard to fill.

In 2000 when he was running for re-election to the Senate and his opponent Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash three weeks prior to the election, Ashcroft graciously suspended all campaigning for a week and then finished with a muted campaign. It cost him his Senate seat as hard-core Democrats and sympathetic voters elected Carnahan with the full understanding that his widow Jean would be appointed to the job. Though there were grounds to challenge the election (including a situation where the polls in Democrat-heavy St. Louis were kept open longer than the rest of the state), Ashcroft did the classy thing and let it go, in part to spare Jean Carnahan. Al Gore should have showed such class.

He was then appointed Attorney General and headed to his confirmation hearings, where the legendary collegiality of the Senate swiftly disappeared in a vicious, personal character attack on the man from the Left (spearheaded by that viper Patrick Leahy). It was the beginning of the Left's apparent indignation at the President thinking he had the right to be conservative. Again, Ashcroft handled all the bilious unfair attacks with grace and class.

He has been unfairly mocked throughout his tenure. He was labeled a prude for the curtain in front of a semi-nude statue, although he didn't know about it (it was purchased by an aide as a cost-cutting move; see Jay Nordlinger.) He was reamed for asking that criticism be responsible instead of wild; for that he was called a new McCarthy. Liberals have screamed about his enforcement of the Patriot Act, even though his Justice Department only did what the Congress had authorized them to do. The Left howled about Ashcroft poring through library records when there wasn't a single instance of that clause being used. The source for all these wild claims seems to be nothing more profound or uplifting than sheer bigotry.

And what has he done under this withering storm of hatred? Simply transformed an often ineffectual agency into the domestic defense front that we've needed in this war on terror. He followed the Rudy Guiliani model for cleaning up crime and terror: hit 'em on the little stuff so they can't pull off the big stuff. We haven't had a terrorist attack on our soil in over three years--which NO ONE expected--and much of the credit must go to John Ashcroft.

A final note: John Ashcroft is the most important person I've ever met in person. My wife and I had taken our cousins to Silver Dollar City, a theme park in Branson, MO. They have tours of a cave there on the premises, and we were taking the last tour of the day. As our group began to file through the door, I noticed a man holding back with a couple of others. It was John Ashcroft. As the last people were filing through the door, I stepped forward and spoke to him briefly and shook his hand. I was surprised to find he wasn't much taller than me (and I'm quite short.) He was quiet and gracious but kept to himself, and I let him; he deserved a bit of quiet, ordinary hometown time where he could just enjoy himself like anyone else, I thought.

This was in August of 2001. I had no idea just how important this man would become. But he's come through with flying colors, and I admire and honor him for it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Counties, Not States

There's been a lot of significance (and a lot of vitriol) aimed at the red-blue divide in the country. But the country is divvied up as red and blue states. It's even promoted some stupid talk about secession, for heaven's sake.

Part of this, I think, is made possible by the notion that all those weirdos live far, far away (no matter what side you're on.) But look at the red/blue county map from USA Today. At least for the Blue team, those weirdos are far closer than you think. Even in the blue "states", most of the counties are red. In the red states, most of the counties are red. In fact, it looks like there are only six or seven states where blue counties outnumber red ones.

A couple of observations arise from this. First, the red/blue state thing casts it a regional divide; the red/blue county approach clearly makes it an urban/non-urban divide. Second, it puts the lie to the notion that the blue states can live without the red states. Maybe so, but can the blue counties live without the red counties? Who will feed the cities? Who will fight for the cities? Where will they train?

Finally, it suggests that while the red counties know a lot about the blue ones (because they're cities, and virtually all media emanates from or is centered around cities), the blue counties don't really know the red ones, even though they're often in their own back yard. Of course, part of the point of living in a city is that you usually don't have a back yard. Maybe it's no wonder they have difficulty getting their minds around the metaphor; after all, walled cities aren't that far in Western Civilization's past.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Change of Pace

A dear friend of mine on the other side of the aisle wrote this as a letter submission to the Washington Post. While I think he falls prey to some of the concerns I've posted, it's still a civil call to work together. I liked it, and he's letting me post it. Enjoy.
Dear President Bush,

Congratulations on your victory. I supported Sen. Kerry, but the
race is over. It is no time to get on with the important bits. Once
again you are taking the reins of a deeply divided nation. In 2000
you ran as a "uniter" platform. Mr. President, now more than ever we
need you to live up to that promise. You will never face another
election, so there is no longer a need to find wedge issues or
shamelessly pander to the fears of Americans. There are too many
problems facing our nation to pursue issues which strike a sour note
to nearly half of the electorate.

America has spoken, and now we need to hear from you. Talk to us
more. Let us ask you questions, and do us the common courtesy of
answering them to the best of your ability. Secrecy in a democracy
does no one any favors. There are many of us who do not trust you,
and what respect we have is for the office of the President, not the
person. You have the ability to lessen the animosity. And it just
doesn't come just from the lunatic fringe, but from a large portion
of the populace. The majority has spoken, but the margin was slim.

Over the course of the next four years, you are going to ask much of
your fellow Americans. You are going to ask us to shoulder a growing
deficit. You are going to ask more of us to join the military. You
are going to ask us to participate in and support at least one more
military action. You are going to ask us to bear rising fuel and
medical costs. Americans are a remarkable group of people, who can
accept most any burden, but we need to have well articulated and
verifiable reasons to do so. FDR got the country to accept the
rationing of just about everything during WWII. He did it, not by
Executive Order and veiled causes, but by convincing the people it
was the right and necessary thing to do. Convince us that the
burdens we are going to have to bear are truly necessary and we will
shoulder them with lessened grumbling. Keep up the current
stonewalling and spin and be ready for the unrest and protests.

For the next four years, I will probably disagree with many of your
policies and positions. That is my right. I'll probably complain a
lot and loudly. Again, my right. But this I promise you, I will at
least think before I react. Please return the favor and don't simply
dismiss the opposition, on occasion we do have some good ideas

During your second term you will be asked to nominate at least one
Supreme Court justice, and ask someone new to step up as Chief. What
the court needs both in new membership and as a leader is moderation
you should not look only for conservative views. Find people who are
middle of the road. Each side of an argument has merit, and neither
side has the monopoly on being right. It is the job of the Supreme
Court to act as a check on both our lawmakers and enforcers. It is
the forum by which citizens have their last chance to argue
unpopular positions, and to try and counter unfair laws and
enforcement policies that may have started with good intentions, but
are now outmoded or have been implemented in a unfair or prejudiced
manner. It is not a place that should be made up of only one point
of view. Think outside the box, if you will, and find candidates
that are fair and believe in freedom and justice, not ones who are
slaves to partisan ideology. All branches of the government must
serve the entire population, not just those that agree with the
dominate party.

As for the rest of the world, an olive branch or two would be
improper. We happen to be the biggest kid on the block, but that
doesn't give us the right to ignore the rest of the world. And our
position at the top did not come from a divine mandate or as a
foregone conclusion. Mighty nations have fallen before, and no one
nation can stand against the world. Find ways to repair our
relations and reputation in the global community. We may not need
the approval of the world to protect ourselves, but we do need them
to buy our goods and services. Mary Poppins said, "A spoonful of
sugar helps the medicine go down." Keep this in mind when dealing
with the rest of the world. Like it or not we cannot fight WWIV by
ourselves. We need friends and willing allies that can and will
provide more than token assistance. Cowboys tend to live and die
alone, where farmers usually are surrounded by friends and family.

Finally, I respect your depth of faith. It is one of the few traits
you have shown that we share. We do not share your religion, or its
beliefs, but we do share the depths to which we believe. I am not
going to try and force my face onto you. Please do the same. It is
the responsibility of our religious communities to instill in us
morality and ethical behavior, not the government. If faith is your
guide, do not let it blind you to other possibilities. No one belief
system has all the answers, there wouldn't be so many if that were
so. But one thing most of the share is the Golden Rule. Treat me how
you want to be treated. Filter your words and actions through that
and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results, I always am.

I am trying very hard not to be a sore loser. There are many places,
Mr. President, that I disagree with your policies and some of your
positions and opinions frankly repulse me. For good or ill you are
again my President. I will support you as I am able. It is your job
to lead, support, and protect all Americans. Over 53,000,000 people
voted for you, it is within your power to turn the rest of us from
the Opposition to the Loyal Opposition. Give cooperation and
toleration a shot; we might all be surprised at the results.

Congratulations again on your victory. You have for more years, use
them with more wisdom and compassion than you did in the first.

Your Fellow American,

Friday, November 05, 2004

Slarrow Flashbacks

I thought I'd throw a little something out there to head into the weekend. Below I've linked to pieces I wrote during this campaign season. Some I got right, some I got wrong, but all of it was fun to write.
Hope you like 'em.

How Bush Will Govern


I've already noticed some liberals and Democrats comforting themselves with the notion that Bush won't be very conservative in his second term. Whether it's denying he has a mandate or thinking he has to "heal" a "divided" country or fancying he's concerned about his legacy, they seem to have talked themselves into thinking that he's not going to do what he said he would. (They made much the same mistake in 2000.)

This is just a heads-up for those out there who might be thinking this: Bush is going to govern like he won, not like he lost. That means he'll reach out to the other side to get support for his own proposals. Democrats will have three options at this point: support his proposal wholeheartedly, negotiate for some modifications they think will improve it, or reject the overture entirely. (They tried the third option way too much over the past term. That's part of the reason why they lost.)

The option Democrats do not have is the following: Bush coming to them asking their help in implementing their version of a bill or plan. He has the majority, he has the worldview, and he has the power; he doesn't need any of that from Democrats. Bush will come to Congress seeking cooperation, not permission.

That's not to say he won't reach out or be willing to compromise or swap political favors in the old Washington way. What it does mean is that he plans to call the shots, and Democrats who don't think that's what he'll do need to wake up to reality real fast. If they do this, they can work with the President to strengthen America, criticize the President when he needs it and when they need to protect the interests of their own supporters, and lay the groundwork for successful challenges for political power in the future.

If they fail to realize this and expect to be treated like the party in power, they (and the country) are in for more bitterness, disappointment, and political loss. The President let them badmouth him and act like the division was all his fault in his first term. I don't think he'll let them get away with it in a second.

Bush won. He'll act like it. Just don't be surprised, shocked, or offended when he does.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Who's The Better Politician: W. or Bill Clinton?

Clearly, it's George W. Bush.

The implications of Tuesday's elections are starting to sink in. Nationally, the Republicans proved to have stunning strength, although Democrats seem to have done pretty well at the state level in various regions. Clearly, the President had coattails, and they will help him govern and implement his agenda this year.

This leads me to conclude that George W. Bush is a tremendous politician. I base that on two things: (1) his ability to get people from his team into office, and (2) the ability to get his agenda or policy items passed into law.

Bush entered office in 2000 with a 50/50 Senate and a House that had been bleeding Republicans. Yet he was able to pass his signature policies in the first several months like a tax-cut plan and No Child Left Behind. Even after Jim Jeffords switched parties, Bush was able to win Congressional approval for his plans, including the vote giving him authority to take care of Saddam Hussein (passed, if you recall, when Tom Daschle was Senate Majority Leader.) He also got a 15-0 resolution from an unwilling (if not downright hostile) U.N. Security Council.

He picked up Congressional seats and helped Republicans win back the Senate in 2002, an unprecedented move. He then implemented another bold round of tax cuts, conducted a war according to his terms, and passed a Medicare prescription drug benefit. And now he's been re-elected to another terms, bringing with him a House majority of about 30 seats and a 55-44 Senate majority.

So, in four years, this man has set the terms of the debate, won passage for his plans against determined opponents, and gotten more of his team into power. This is the mark of a masterful politician.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand, lost Congress, lost governorships, and lost state legislatures. His home state even abandoned his vice president in 2000. Clinton had few signature accomplishments. The 1993 tax plan was his but little else; even the vaunted welfare reform was largely the Republican plan. The interventions in the Balkans were waged largely without either general Congressional or international approval. A number of his proposals were issued by executive order because he couldn't get them through the legislative body. In terms of campaigning for candidates after his exit from office, his track record is spotty at best. The man simply wasn't a very successful politician.

Now, Bill Clinton has the greatest political skills of his generation, but he has made little impact with those skills. His skills were sufficient to keep his approval ratings high, even in the midst of impeachment, but they were inadequate to actually do anything.

In contract, Bush's political skills are widely mocked, causing some to even think he's not that bright. His approval rating dropped thirty points over two years. And yet look at what he's accomplished. Regardless of what one thinks of the merits of his proposals, what he says he'll get done, he gets done.

Now we get to watch him for four more years. I wonder if people will start to appreciate how good he is at his job before it's all said and done.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

What Comes Now

Well, that's a relief. George W. Bush will be our president for four more years.

What does this victory mean? First of all, I think it deals the terrorists a harsh blow. Up until yesterday terrorists thought they could see a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is now the oncoming train of the impacable foe of terrorism, George W. Bush. I think this hurts recruitment more than folks may realize just yet.

Bush's election also caused a lot of consternation overseas, which is wonderful. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet just how huge a gamble several foreign leaders took by opposing Bush either through obstruction or noncooperation. Because of the predictable nature of our elections, some of them may have taken the risk that they could work against Bush and not get punished for it should he lose this election. Well, he won, he's here for four years, and the gamble has failed.

What this means, I think, is that Bush will set the terms in a way many don't expect. Michael Hirsh has an article for Newsweek thinks that Bush will moderate his tone internationally. I agree...but not for the same smarmy, condescending reasons Hirsh offers. Hirsh sprinkles his article with "Bush must do this" and "Bush has to do that", which is kind of amusing since this is some journalists telling the leader of the free world what he must and must not do.

I think Bush will moderate his tone not because he is forced to by the demands of foreign leaders but because he knows he has more time. To my mind, Bush has pressed as hard as he has because he thought this policy was necessary for the continued safety of America, and he didn't know if he would be around to finish the job. He couldn't afford to play the stalling games international dithering is so famous for; he had to create a situation that would demand a particular response whether he was the president or someone else was.

In other words, I think the President tried to chart a six-year course that he himself was guaranteed to steer only two years. Now that he has been reelected, though, I think he has the option to pursue a more relaxed approach. He can afford to be more lenient to international demands (if he chooses) because the extra term lets him cement the course of action so that it becomes settled bipartisan policy (as Jay Bryant suggested in that article I linked a couple of posts down.)

It would not surprise me that once again his critics have misunderestimated Bush, thinking his approach was a stylistic or character flaw instead of the necessities of sacrificing temporary international appeal for the long-term future security of his country. Remember, his closest friends keep telling us that Bush uses his intelligence to hide his intelligence. I think this is another case of that.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Riding The Storm Out

My, what an interesting afternoon it's been. Skewed and phony exit polls, reports of tire slashings for campaign vans, reports of Republicans' registration mysteriously vanishing from the voter rolls in Democrat-controlled precincts--and it's not yet quittin' time on the East Coast!

(All the above can be found, I think, at the excellent National Review subsites: The Corner, The Kerry Spot, and Battlegrounders. NRO's home page also does a great job of letting users peek on these subsites; that's some nice coding there.)

Despite the wild swings that come from not enough information, I remain fairly confident. The fundamentals, I think, have always been in Bush's favor. I only hope the Democrats don't cheat so much that they steal the election like they tried to do in 2000. (Oh, that may rile some folks!)

But I also remain on an even keel. I was thinking about this last night as I put my sleeping son into his crib. It struck me that I would do the same thing tonight and tomorrow night and the night after that. I would do that regardless of who won or indeed if I knew who won.

While I firmly believe a Kerry presidency would increase our danger and harm our economy, who's the president isn't the sum total of my life. So I'll go home tonight and get the computer set up with lots of Opera browser windows and be set to refresh them frequently. But once that's set up, my wife and I will play with our little boy in the living room and try to teach him how to say more words. I'll probably leave the computer on when I go to bed in order to recheck things in the middle of the night when he wakes up, but I don't plan on staying up until 3:00 am.

Whatever happens, I'll get up tomorrow, get dressed, and go to work. I hope those folks going nuts over the fluctations of fragmented information remember that they'll do the same. Life goes on, regardless.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Calm Before The Storm

Well, it's finally here. The campaigns are about finished, and the election is tomorrow.

I happen to think Bush will win with an electoral vote in the 290 range and a popular vote win of 3-5%. But I don't know. It's just too hard to measure out there these days, especially since it seems some of the underlying assumptions pollsters have seen to be getting clobbered. This is the first presidential post-9/11 election, and I think the models have to see an election before they can adjust to the new reality. But I could be wrong.

Still, I'm relatively serene. I'll vote tomorrow and encourage others to vote for my guy, but the election is out of my hands. It will be as God wills, not as I will, so I will leave the anxiety aside. Oh, I'll still follow the returns tomorrow night pretty faithfully and keep track of the news and commentary, but I've got some living to do, regardless of who wins. I can only do what I can do.

That said, here's a good statement of why I hope Bush wins: cementing the Bush Doctrine. It's from Jay Bryant's column today at Townhall.
"Moreover, Bush had the intellect to see beyond the tactics, and the strategy, and perceive the imperative new grand strategy of American foreign policy – a bedrock commitment that would replace the successfully concluded Cold War. I have called it the secularization of Islamia.

This is a much broader objective than the defeat of terrorism, and Bush understood that from the beginning. He also understood it would be hard. It would involve setbacks and detours, one of which was the absolute necessity of a regime change in Iraq. It would result in people screaming at us, protestors protesting, pointy- headed intellectuals wagging their fingers. Just like the Cold War. And just like the Cold War, he saw that we would win, if we only had the fortitude to stay the course.

Electing John Kerry this year will have the same effect on this grand strategy that electing Henry Wallace in 1948 would have had on the Cold War. But given another Bush term, the new policy may well become settled bipartisan (and public) understanding."