We’re far from done examining the Democratic platform, but as I’ve found out most of what I need to know on my principal issue and as this experiment is taking WAY longer than I had hoped, and as I’m having trouble properly critiquing the Dems when I’m only being exposed to their side, we’re moving on to the Republican platform and the wonders it may have in store for us, and how Americans may assess both parties’ platforms. The first thing I notice, aside from the longer length (which is really due to more page breaks), is that the Republicans, at least superficially, make their platform read more like a book. In addition to the PDF I’m working off, you can also read the platform as a series of HTML pages, and in the PDF everything is in a two-column format. The Democrats appear to use Times New Roman for their preamble, and a web-style form where extra spacing, not indents, mark paragraphs; the Republicans use a more stylish font and use indents to mark paragraphs. The preamble comes before the table of contents and reads more like an introduction than the summary-cum-speech the Democratic preamble reads like, and the table of contents lists just each part and not a full outline of each part like the Democratic platform.
But what about the preamble itself? Like the Democrats, the Republicans proclaim their platform
the product of the most open and transparent process in American political history. We offer it to our fellow Americans in the assurance that our Republican ideals are those that unify our country: Courage in the face of foreign foes. An optimistic patriotism, driven by a passion for freedom. Devotion to the inherent dignity and rights of every person. Faith in the virtues of self-reliance, civic commitment, and concern for one another. Distrust of government’s interference in people’s lives. Dedication to a rule of law that both protects and preserves liberty.
To this list, there is not really a good equivalent in the Democratic preamble; there are a couple of lists that come close but perhaps the best example may be the preamble as a whole, or maybe its own first paragraph. I would quibble with a couple of things – I don’t want an overly optimistic patriotism that fails to recognize certain flaws. Other than that all of this at least sounds good, but again, can we trust the Republicans to bring any of it? And I’m not sure our “faith in the virtues…” is particularly well placed at this moment.
The Republicans are no less scared of taking a shot at the Democrats as the Democrats are of taking shots at Bush:
We present this platform at an uncertain point in time. Our country remains at war and committed to victory, but reckless political forces would imperil that goal and endanger our nation. In the economy and in society at large, it is a time of transformation. But the American people will meet these challenges. Even with its uncertainties, they embrace the future, but they are also too wise to rush headlong into it. We are an adventurous, risk-taking people, but we are not gamblers. A sound democracy trusts new leadership but insists that it demonstrate the old virtues: the character and the command that, in times of conflict and crisis, have led the Republic through its trials.
The Republicans proclaim their foundation on “proven truths and tested wisdom” and that the platform “shows what the American people can accomplish when government respects their rights, conserves their resources, and calls upon their love of country. It is not a tribute to bigger government.” (Man, for a party that was in power for 12 years in Congress and the last 8 years in the presidency, they sure do love their small government tack!) These sort of even emptier platitudes continue for a while, including proclaiming themselves “a party – as we are a nation – of mavericks” and “the one party that speaks to all Americans – conservatives, moderates, libertarians, independents, and even liberals.” This sort of thing continues for a while, with no overview of the current situation or overview of what the Republicans are actually proposing, as in the Democratic preamble. It does end “[w]ith gratitude for eight years of honorable service from President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the Republican Party now stands united behind new leadership, an American patriot, John McCain” and an invocation to the Almighty.
So I’ll move right along into Part I, “Defending Our Nation, Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace”. Unlike in the Democratic platform, parts aren’t given numbers so I’ve added them. It’s telling that the Democrats start with the economic crisis and helping the American family, and the Republicans start with military matters.
Three decades ago, in a world as dangerous as today’s, Americans of all stripes came together to advance the cause of freedom. They had witnessed the wreckage of inexperienced good intentions at the highest levels of government, the folly of an amateur foreign policy. And so, in defiance of a world-wide Marxist advance, they announced a goal as enduring as the vision of Isaiah, to “proclaim liberty to the captives,” and summed up America’s strategy for achieving that end in a timeless slogan: Peace through strength – an enduring peace, based on freedom and the will to defend it.
That goal still requires the unity of Americans beyond differences of party and conflicts of personality. The rancor of past years must now give way to a common goal of security for our country and safety for our people. For seven years, the horror of September 11, 2001 has not been repeated on our soil. For that, we are prayerfully grateful and salute all who have played a role in defending our homeland. We pledge to continue their vigilance and to assure they have the authority and resources they need to protect the nation.
The last sentence is the only really “overview” part of this brief introduction.
“Defending Our Nation”: “The Current Conflict Abroad”: “Our first obligation is the security of our country.” There, I’ve affirmed it. Keeping us safe keeps everyone safe to enjoy everything else.
The waging of war – and the achieving of peace – should never be micromanaged in a party platform, or on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives for that matter. In dealing with present conflicts and future crises, our next president must preserve all options. It would be presumptuous to specify them in advance and foolhardy to rule out any action deemed necessary for our security.
Um. Okay. I get your point, but can I get at least a broad idea of what approach you’d take? Would you favor diplomacy first, or just charge in with guns a-blazin’? Are you really willing to throw out any principles if it’s “necessary for our security”? Come to think of it, you don’t really make the point that it would be dangerous to “specify them in advance”, so you’re basically saying, you don’t have a plan and you’d just like to do whatever you want. After the unpopular Iraq war, how can we trust you with that power? Or is this like the Democrats and the economic crisis?
“Homeland Security”: “The security of the country is now everyone’s responsibility,” proclaim the Republicans. “The fact that eighty percent of our critical infrastructure is in private hands highlights the need for public-private partnerships to safeguard it, especially in the energy industry.” I’ll keep this in mind; I can certainly see the thinking behind it.
Along with unrelenting vigilance to prevent bioterrorism and other WMD-related attacks, we must regularly exercise our ability to quickly respond if one were to occur. We must continue to remove barriers to cooperation and information sharing. Modernized 9-1-1 services must be made universally available and be adequately funded. We must be able to thwart cyber attacks that could cripple our economy, monitor terrorist activities while respecting Americans’ civil liberties, and protect against military and industrial espionage and sabotage. All this requires experienced leadership.
All well and good – you better make sure you do respect Americans’ civil liberties, is all I have to add. Presumably the “experienced leadership” line is taking a shot at Obama.
“Terrorism and Nuclear Proliferation”: Man, the Republicans are not shy about taking shots at Democrats:
The attacks of September 11, 2001 were a pivot point in our national experience. They highlighted the failure of national policy to recognize and respond to the growth of a global terror network. They should have put an end to the Democrats’ naïve thinking that international terrorists could be dealt with within the normal criminal justice system, but that misconception persists.
Um… first of all, 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch. Whose “failure of national policy” was it? And since the terrorists weren’t even pursued prior to 9/11, how did 9/11 prove they couldn’t be “dealt with within the normal criminal justice system”? There’s a point to be made that “international terrorists” should be dealt with internationally, but the Republicans don’t really say so, so for all I know they just want to deal with terrorists or even people they think might have a tiny chance of being terrorists however they want.
“The gravest threat we face – nuclear terrorism – demands a comprehensive strategy for reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles and preventing proliferation. The U.S. should lead that effort by reducing the size of our nuclear arsenal to the lowest number consistent with our security requirements and working with other nuclear powers to do the same.” Sounds all well and good. “In cooperation with other nations, we should end the production of weapons-grade fissile material, improve our collective ability to interdict the spread of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, and ensure the highest possible security standards for existing nuclear materials wherever they may be located.” Again, can’t argue with that.
But that is not enough. We must develop and deploy both national and theater missile defenses to protect the American homeland, our people, our Armed Forces abroad, and our allies. Effective, layered missile defenses are critical to guard against the unpredictable actions of rogue regimes and outlaw states, reduce the possibility of strategic blackmail, and avoid the disastrous consequences of an accidental or unauthorized launch by a foreign power.
Ooo…kay. I’ve heard bad things about the effectiveness and expense of such schemes. But we do need to protect against, say, an unprovoked, out-of-nowhere attack from North Korea, not let ourselves be blackmailed, and not let dumb mistakes start World War III. The middle option, and to some extent the first suggests just the opposite of what the Republicans had proposed in the previous paragraph – improving our military power – but mistakes could happen (although World War III hasn’t started yet) and I’d like to make sure we have a strategy. I’ll see if the Democrats propose anything that might actually work.
But oh look! We have an answer to at least the first! “Better Intelligence – the Key to Prevention”: “Intelligence is America’s first line of defense. We must increase the ranks and resources of our human intelligence capabilities, integrate technical and human sources, and get that information more quickly to the warfighter and the policy maker. The multi-jurisdictional arrangements that now prevail on Capitol Hill should be replaced by a single Joint Committee on Intelligence.” All very well and good, though I don’t know what the real impact of creating a “Joint Committee on Intelligence” would be.
Intelligence is Key to Fighting Bioterrorism and Cyberterrorism
Bioterrorism and cyberterrorism, once the stuff of science fiction films, are immediate threats to our nation’s health and safety. Our food and water distribution systems require special vigilance. By the same token, a well-placed cyber-attack could cripple our economy, shut down our energy and transportation systems, wreck our health care delivery systems, and put millions of lives at risk. Although our country has thwarted new terrorist attacks since 2001, those threats do persist. That is why our reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was so vital, and why the Democrats’ opposition to it was so wrong.
This makes it sound like the GOP reformed FISA to improve our intelligence agencies’ ability to stop bioterrorism and cyberterrorism, a laudable goal, and nothing more. But without details, I don’t know if there aren’t good reasons for the Dems to oppose it.
“Immigration, National Security, and the Rule of Law”: “Immigration policy is a national security issue, for which we have one test: Does it serve the national interest? By that standard, Republicans know America can have a strong immigration system without sacrificing the rule of law.” Which means we can continue letting in the immigrants that make this country great, but presumably we aren’t letting in criminals and terrorists. Or, as they put it later, “terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs”. So of course the first subheading is “Enforcing the Rule of Law at the Border and Throughout the Nation”, which lets you know where the GOP’s real priorities lie. Still, this subheading talks about laudable goals: “allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people. We simply must be able to track who is entering and leaving our country.” I don’t disagree with any of that, although if they’re perfectly innocent and not a threat to our sovereignty they shouldn’t just be kicked out.
Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration.
So the Republicans are all about enforcing the law. Support our border agents, fence ourselves off, “secure our ports of entry”. “Reducing and reversing illegal immigration” might hint at a disdainful attitude towards immigrants. Rather than track down the bad apples that would undermine the rule of law, the Republicans just want to seal ourselves off. This perhaps becomes especially pronounced in the next paragraph:
Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents. As long as jobs are available in the United States, economic incentives to enter illegally will persist. But we must empower employers so they can know with confidence that those they hire are permitted to work. That means that the E-Verify system – which is an internet-based system that verifies the employment authorization and identity of employees – must be reauthorized. A phased-in requirement that employers use the E-Verify system must be enacted.
It’s clear that the Republicans’ concern is not solely with the rule of law. Crack down on illegal workers whether they want to destroy America or not – and their employers as well. “Those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents” I’m okay with cracking down on, but let’s also make it less necessary. It’s also clear from the bit about E-Verify that by “employers” in the first sentence the GOP means employers who knowingly employ illegals, presumably out of fear those employers are trying to undermine the “rule of law”. Never mind that those illegals might be contributing to our economy. I agree with the whole E-Verify bit but I think I see it very differently than the Republicans see it.
“The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay – and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult.” Of course due process should be in place here, but if someone is convicted with a crime serious enough to warrant deportation of course we should do so. “It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry.” Of course, but maybe we should find out why people overstay their visas instead of renewing them if they need to. “It means imposing maximum penalties on those who smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S., both for their lawbreaking and for their cruel exploitation.” Agreed, but what do you mean by “maximum penalties”, and are you willing to scale it to the level of exploitation? For example, if a bunch of people form a cooperative to sneak across the border, is there any “exploitation” here?
It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences, including the denial of federal funds, for self-described sanctuary cities, which stand in open defiance of the federal and state statutes that expressly prohibit such sanctuary policies, and which endanger the lives of U.S. citizens. It does not mean driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, nor does it mean that illegal aliens should receive social security benefits, or other public benefits, except as provided by federal law.
So much for states’ rights! Seriously, the idea that it’s OK to be an illegal alien in some places and not in others is kind of ridiculous (not to mention, really does undermine the “rule of law”), but I would think what would be needed is some sort of reform that reduces the demand for such cities. Rewarding illegal aliens is not exactly okay, but shouldn’t we have a process for verifying them and making them legal? I mean, when I think of a “strong immigration system” I think of a system that welcomes the world’s detritus with open arms, “your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” but still puts them through a system that keeps the country safe and secure, allowing immigrants to contribute to the American economy without undermining our security. Or am I just stuck in the 19th century?
“We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people’s rejection of en masse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government’s past failures to enforce the law.” “Assume legality first and ask questions later” certainly is not a good idea, but it seems that “the federal government’s past failures to enforce the law” is part of the reason some people are proposing amnesty, because it would take forever to process all the legalization requests. Here’s a thought: How about if we work to help Mexico improve its economy and living standards, so we’re no longer half of one of the largest disparities in living standards across a border on Earth and so we don’t have the entire population of Mexico looking to hop the fence?
Fortunately, the Republicans are also at least willing to pay lip service to my idea of a “strong immigration system”, because the next subheading is “Embracing Immigrant Communities”, and it’s full of the sort of empty platitudes you’d expect from people campaigning for immigrant votes. Here are the actual points of policy: “Both government and the private sector must do more to foster legally present immigrants’ integration into American life to advance respect for the rule of law and a common American identity. It is a national disgrace that the first experience most new Americans have is with a dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy defined by delay and confusion; we will no longer tolerate those failures.” Amen! “In our multiethnic nation, everyone – immigrants and native-born alike – must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women.” Ideally, yes please!*
One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation, while welcoming the ethnic diversity in the United States and the territories, including language. Immigrants should be encouraged to learn English. English is the accepted language of business, commerce, and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of cultural integration, that our schools provide better education in U.S. history and civics for all children, thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum.
Ah, here’s a way to say “we support immigration” while still scoring political points! I smell an undercurrent of “durn forinners and their durn gib’rish”. Ideally, if English “has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America”, immigrants would learn English of their own accord. This ties in with what the Democrats were talking about with regards to multiculturalism and learning new languages. I can tell the Republicans are probably greatly concerned about the Democrats’ proposal for children to learn at least one other language.
So let’s see… I hope we can all support the Democrats’ proposal for increased funding for bilingual “English Language Learner” classes. But should we also ask our own kids to learn one other language? Dems would say we should in order to compete in the global economy, Republicans would say it would undermine English’s central status as our national, “unifying” language. But nothing says everyone has to learn Spanish; some people could learn French, some German, some Japanese, some Farsi. English could remain the one language that unifies us all as Americans, but at the same time we can also compete and trade with nations that aren’t part of the British Commonwealth.
The last sentence is certainly something no one could disagree with if they consider themselves patriots, although hopefully the US history lesson is a bit deeper than “we’re so great, we’re greatly greatly great”. This subheading ends with a thank-you to immigrants in the military, and how it’s a reminder to “the institutions of civil society of the need to embrace newcomers, assist their journey to full citizenship, and help their communities avoid patterns of isolation.” I’m not sure how that squares with all the roadblocks the Republicans threw up in the first subheading.
(*=trying to stifle guffaws of laughter)
Finally: “Welcoming Refugees Our country continues to accept refugees from
troubled lands all over the world. In some cases,
these are people who stood with America in dangerous
times, and they have first call on our hospitality.
We oppose, however, the granting of refugee status on the basis of lifestyle or other non-political factors.” What? What does this even mean? Are you saying that if someone is kicked out of, say, Saudi Arabia because they’re gay you wouldn’t grant them safe haven? Or does it mean something else? Because if you’re saying that, you’re kind of breaking the spirit of our reputation of welcomeness for the sake of paltry political disputes… I hate to bring Hitler into this sort of discussion, but it’s kind of like refusing to take in refugees of the Holocaust…
“Supporting Our Heroes”: Unlike the last section, this section contains an introduction of sorts, trying to take credit for “the best-manned, best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led military in the world” and accusing Clinton of “neglect[ing] and under-fund[ing]” it. “Our Armed Forces today are modern, agile, and adaptable to the unpredictable range of challenges in the years ahead. We pledge to keep them that way.”
“Providing for the Armed Forces”:
The men and women who wear our country’s uniform – whether on active duty or in the Reserves or National Guard – are the most important assets in our military arsenal. They and their families must have the pay, health care, housing, education, and overall support they need. We must significantly increase the size of our Armed Forces; crucial to that goal will be retention of combat veterans.
No one, certainly no patriot, would disagree with the first two sentences, but “significantly increase the size of our Armed Forces”? “[R]etention of combat veterans” that just want to go home? I thought pacifists would hate the Democratic preamble, but this makes the Dems sound like kumbaya-chanting hippies! Didn’t the Republicans already make our military “the best-manned… military in the world”? Why do they feel the need to add more people to “our Armed Forces”? I really want to find out what it is that makes the Republicans think we need to boost our military even more because I don’t want some sort of militaristic bully as a home country and I want a reassurance the Republicans want peace. And this is in their public party platform? Really, what is it?
Injured military personnel deserve the best medical care our country has to offer. The special circumstances of the conflict in Iraq have resulted in an unprecedented incidence of traumatic brain injury, which calls for a new commitment of resources and personnel for its care and treatment. We must make military medicine the gold standard for advances in prosthetics and the treatment of trauma and eye injuries.
Absolutely agreeable from top to bottom, but you haven’t exactly answered my question… “We must always remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice; their families must be assured meaningful financial assistance. It is the solemn duty we owe and honor we give to those who bravely don the uniform of freedom.” Again, completely agreeable.
National Guard and Reserves
We pledge to maintain the strength of the National Guard and Reserves and to ensure they receive pay, benefits, and resources befitting their service. Their historic role as citizen-soldiers is a proud tradition linking every community with the cause of national security. We affirm service members’ legal right to return to their civilian jobs, whether in government or in the private sector, when their active duty is completed, and we call for greater transition assistance from employers across the nation to smooth their return to the work force.
Once again, completely agreeable, though the significant presence of National Guard troops in Iraq is a cause for concern.
The all-volunteer force has been a success. We oppose reinstituting the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service. We support the advancement of women in the military and their exemption from ground combat units. Military priorities and mission must determine personnel policies. Esprit and cohesion are necessary for military effectiveness and success on the battlefield. To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America’s Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.
I can’t help but wonder if “through compulsory national service” is a shot at the Democrats’ attempts to mandate community service. If so, it’s actually a decent point. Not sure whether I like or dislike the exemption of women from “ground combat units”. For the most part, the last couple of sentences sound good, saying we need camaraderie to have the strongest military we can, but I’m not sure how government policies can benefit that goal – and the one specific they provide, “the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service”, is kind of scary. That, like the need to exempt women from “ground combat units”, is a real difference of opinion and it’s probably on shakier ground.
“Fulfilling our Commitment to our Veterans”: “To military personnel who have served honorably and then retire or leave active duty, we owe a smooth transition to civilian life. Funding for the programs that assist them should be sufficient, timely, and predictable and never be subject to political gamesmanship.” As always seems to be the case, I can’t disagree.
Economic Opportunity for Veterans
Returning veterans must have access to education benefits, job training, and a wide variety of employment options. We want to build on the bipartisan expansion of the GI Bill by encouraging private colleges to bridge the gap between GI Bill education benefits and tuition costs. We will strongly enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act so that returning veterans can promptly return to their former jobs. Our existing “veteran preference” regulations must lead to real action, not hollow promises. We encourage private businesses to expand their outreach to the veterans community, especially disabled veterans.
All sounds good, assuming there isn’t anything insidious behind it, and while “veteran preference” sounds like a version of affirmative action, if you’re a patriot you probably think it’s a fair one.
Veterans’ Health Care and Disability System
We will hold the VA accountable for tangible results and steady improvement of its services. The VA must become more responsive and more efficient by eliminating its disability backlog and reducing waiting times for treatment. To ensure that the VA provides veterans with world class medical care, both at its own facilities and through partnerships with community providers, we must recruit the next generation of highly qualified medical professionals.
I hope you have a real plan to make the VA more efficient that doesn’t involve shortchanging veterans receiving treatment. I’ll keep in mind that you want top-flight medical professionals to go to the VA; can’t quite remember if the Dems took a stand on where the best doctors should go when they were spouting off about health care. “Where distance or crowding is an obstacle to traditional
VA facility-based care, our veterans should be
provided access to qualified out-of-network
providers.” And of course, the Republicans’ solution to everything, as always, is privatization! To be fair, this talks about cases where the VA isn’t available anyway, so ideally veterans would get the next best alternative. “We call for greater attention by the VA to
the special health care needs of women veterans,
who will comprise an even larger percentage of VA patients in the future.” Sounds fair enough, though ideally the VA is already making plans.
“The VA’s current disability compensation formulas need to be restructured and modernized. Those who have borne the burden of war must have access to training, rehabilitation, and education. Their families and caregivers deserve our concern and support.” For a patriot, the last two sentences make sense, but I’m not sure what you think is wrong with the current formulas for these purposes…
We pledge special attention to combat stress injuries. There must be adequate counseling when veterans return home – for them and their families. They should have ongoing professional care, whether in a VA facility or closer to home, so that the natural and usually temporary responses to the horrors of war do not become permanent conditions. We recognize the need for more mental health professionals who can give the highest quality treatment to our veterans.
This may be one of the most important parts of VA care, so I applaud this sentiment as well. The mental and psychological scars of war may be as bad if not worse than the physical scars. This heading ends with applause and a call for support for non-profit organizations that provide their own help to “veterans and their families”.
The last subsection is very short so I’ll plow on even though it may put this post further past 5,000 words than it would have been short of that number if I had stopped before talking about veterans, if that makes any sense. “Procurement Reform”:
The military’s partners are the men and women who work in the defense industry and civilian sector, supplying the Armed Forces with weapons and equipment vital to the success of their mission. To ensure that our troops receive the best material at the best value, we must reform the defense budgeting and acquisition process to control costs and ensure vigorous and fair competition. We will not allow congressional pork to take the place of sound, sustained investment in the nation’s security.
Ah yes, once again big praise for the private sector, specifically the infamous military-industrial complex! Actually “control[ling] costs” is very important because I’ve heard too many horror stories about no-bid contracts resulting in poor treatment for our men and women in Iraq, but “control[ling] costs” is the closest the Republicans come to recognizing those shoddy conditions and their cause. Well, and “vigorous and fair competition” presumably means no more no-bid contracts either. But do we really need to change the system or just install controls to prevent bypassing it? And is it telling that this issue gets a single paragraph?
Hopefully with just this one post, and the first two for the Democrats, you already see a significant difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats hit the ground running with as many social issues as they can shake a stick at, with a very long section on health care reform. Republicans are all about national security and our military. We’ll see what happens when both parties dabble into each other’s fields later in the week. As for how long we’re going, we’ve made it to what Acrobat calls page 13 of 67, so we could be good for five parts… but a significant number of those pages contain nothing of substance. Stay tuned.