2014 update: The challenge is searching for the middle ground and the facts upon which I can draw my own conclusions. I read two different on line or email postings every day. One from Real Clear Politics and the other, Politico. It is not that they are entirely in the middle, but that is the closest I can come. I do give great credence to fact checkers,especially those in the Washington Post. I often use all of these for links to the original report or sources and look at those sources myself. You will see me post those same links to original reports on this blog so that you can draw your own conclusions . I take most polls regarding issues with a grain of salt because so much depends upon how and what was asked. I have been in politics too long...writing, conducting, and making use of them...to rely on just one or the other. Even Gallup has gotten it wrong and others are overtly slanted to one ideology or another. They do it by being selective about who they poll and how the question is worded. On media, I miss Chuck Todd's daily rundown; he has a truly great grasp of the political goings on in the country. I know he got a better assignment on broadcast news, but I miss his insights. I have become a fan of Michael Smerconish on CNN. He often comes closest to a good balance between the extremes.
On foreign policy, I have never held any official position but I am a policy wonk since my high school days. I admit to being a bit right of center on foreign affairs since so much of my early life was conditioned by being a close hand observer of life in the Cold War. I am a believer in Real Politics, concurrence of self interest, and who holds the power. The world is not a democracy. Intervention and aggression are matters of asking what is in our national interest and smart politics is knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. I detest chauvinistic chest thumping and prefer Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly but carry a big stick". I do believe that democracy is the best way for a country to be peaceful and prosperous internally and externally..but that the form of democracy is what Thomas Friedman calls a "liberal" one...free press, free assembly and speech, fair and honest elections. I believe developing that liberal democracy takes time and doing it at the end of a barrel of a gun held by a force inside or outside the country is not the way.
My knowledge of foreign policy is based upon my own personal contacts, experiences, and family experiences...all of which are extensive and very grass roots. I have been married to a refugee from the Balkans, gone to school in Europe, and our children have similar experiences...one married to a European and another, an international investment banker, who has many stories to tell. We travel to Europe to visit friends and family nearly every year. The conflict between religions and culture played out in the Balkans has been a fascination, intellectually and emotionally, over most of my life, and flavors much of my writing.
I am by nature a lover of a good debate and it gives me great pleasure to craft a point of view and make a case for it. I also know that when you take a position in public , someone may disagree and try to personalize it. ...and frankly, I do not mind controversy and I respect well crafted, factual rebuttals. It just inspires me to write more.