Friday, September 30, 2005

Final Score 78-22

I guess I was somewhat pleased with the voting results on Judge (now Chief Justice) Roberts’ nomination. I wanted it to be as close to unanimous as possible – a sign that Democrats would only stand in the way of a truly objectionable nominee. So 78-22, with 22 Democrats voting yes and 22 voting no, shows fairly strong support for Roberts. And in case a Democrat wins the White House, they haven’t set an impossible standard for future nominees.

What disappoints me though are the Democrats with presidential ambitions who voted no on Roberts (Clinton, Biden, Kerry...). I understand the reason – moderates believe they need to appeal to the base to actually have a chance at winning the nomination – but that doesn’t make it any easier for a moderate like me to feel any better about supporting them. I guess I’ll have to keep waiting for someone to show me that they make logical decisions even when the base is pressuring them to be overly passionate and irrational. But as long as they keep this up, they can expect to continue to be on the losing end of votes on Supreme Court nominees.

More Bussing

Wake County, NC is seeing dramatic increases in scores on standardized tests (Hat tip, Ambivablog) thanks to a program of economic integration where no school would have more than 40% of its students from low income families. Wake County was able to implement this program because the county has a long history of using bussing for racial integration.

What this shows is that improving educational achievement can be accomplished by changing the educational environment for low income students. It also shows though that merit based programs like No Child Left Behind, that financially punish schools for poor performance, are missing the point. Schools in urban areas are not failing because of poor management, they are failing because of the significant environmental problems the students face each day.

Hopefully the country will pay attention to this study. Economic integration may not be possible everywhere, but innovative solutions like this that truly understand the problems children face in receiving an adequate education will continue to move us in the right direction - so long as there is the political will to try grand policies.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Madame President

“Madame President”… Wow. There is such a nice ring to that phrase. I often wondered what the proper title would be. It is Mr. President, so perhaps Mrs. President? But see, that would not work, because Mrs. originates from the word mister’s, and obviously – this woman would belong to no man (not that any women do, or should).

But I digress.

I will admit: when I first heard that ABC was coming out with a show about the first female president, starring Gina Davis, I almost choked on my over-sweetened cup of coffee. I gagged when I heard that the first show about the first female president of the (so-called) biggest democracy in the world was going to be focused on “her family and the challenges of balancing a family with the presidency.” I mean – what the fuck?!!

C’mon, folks. Nobody advertised The West Wing in that manner. Nobody said, “Well, this is going to be a show not so much about the politics and struggles of the American presidency, but about what happens outside the Oval Office, in Bartlett’s family life.” Blah! Nobody would have turned on NBC to watch that show!

And so I was very disappointed and not excited at all about this new show that, once again, defined women’s roles as primarily familial. I could just picture Gina Davis baking cookies for her Cabinet meetings, and chasing a rambunctious toddler around the Oval Office: “Hold on, sweetheart! Mommy has to change that diaper before the 10 o’clock meeting with Kofi Anan!” Again – blah!

I must say, though, I was SO pleasantly surprised when I saw the last half-hour of Commander-In-Chief this past Tuesday night. Yes, there was talk about family. Yes, there were issues with her kids, and her husband who had to adjust to his “first man” status. But that was not the main focus.

When I heard the words “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States” and saw Gina Davis walk into the room… I can’t even describe it. Chills went all through my body! Madame President…. A woman president… My eyes teared up, and I don’t really remember myself actually breathing during her entire speech to Congress.

So some may say it’s not the most fabulously written show. Some may dislike Gina Davis. Some may… whatever!

The thing that is most important to me is that there is a show taking the idea of a female president seriously. Women and girls all over the United States need to see it. They need to hear the words “Madame President” on a regular basis. They need to visualize, if only through the confines of their TV screens, a woman sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. They need to see it, and they need to believe it. They need to believe that it is possible.

I don’t think that most men will truly understand this sentiment. The words “Mister” and “President” seem almost naturally conjoined in our world. We never have to pause to appreciate or understand what they really mean. It is the status quo. It is the norm. Men didn’t have to fight for it to be so. It just fell in their lap. (White men, I should say.)

If nothing else, I hope that Commander-In-Chief starts putting “Madame” and “President” together more often in our everyday vocabulary. This needs to be more than a dream; it needs to be a reality.

We are still waging a war – political, social, cultural, economic - to put “Madame President’ into the White House. Let Commander-In-Chief help us spread our battle cry.

Burn Baby Burn

Were you ever curious as to how piss poor John Kerry's presidential campaign became in 2004? To the delight of Donks looking to win back the White House in 2008, now you can!

(Tip o' the hat, The Reaction)

I'm Mad As Hell and I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore

Frank Cagle is on a tear. . .

In 2006, all Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be up for reelection. They ought to be turned out in droves. Their conduct for the past six years has betrayed every promise they ever made about smaller, less-intrusive government and fiscal responsibility. They passed tax cuts, which in the old days meant less revenue, thus less government. But then they have passed one pork-laden bill after another. They have created new entitlement programs, and they have spent the Treasury dry. There are a few Republican House members who have insisted that savings be found to pay for hurricane relief. They are being “Hammered” for being heretics.

[snip]

If you Republican House members move quickly, maybe some of the people who traditionally vote Republican will stay with you. Otherwise, there will be no reason to keep any of you around. You see, you weren’t elected just because people like Republicans. You were elected because you are supposed to believe in something. If you insist on spending down our Treasury like a drunken Powerball winner, they don’t care what you call yourselves. You are a bunch of self-righteous, arrogant hypocrites. If you keep this up, some of us are going to get mad.


Somehow, Evil Glenn's Porkbusters movement is starting to stir the real small-government types out of their dogmatic slumber. They expressed plenty of disappointment with Bush and with Congress, but it seems 200 billion for New Orleans (which was meant to be a PR coup) somehow passed their line in the sand. They've only become more enraged at the complete unwillingness of many R members, including DeLay, to actually do what common sense demands.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sheehan Continues to Unimpress

For Cindy Sheehan, her extremist pedigree of rants about Zionist Wars and the amorality of waging war on the Taliban obviously wasn't enough. She had to go one better and declare John McCain, who was kind enough to meet with a woman with extremist and socialist ties, a "warmonger." Bull Moose has the details, and thinks Sheehan should apologize. I think this is going to prove to be the final event that seals Sheehan into irrelevance.

Indicted

The Hammer gets screwed.

Coalition for Darfur: Anarchy and the U.N.

As Darfur descends into anarchy, the United Nations appears unable to do any more than express concerns and continue to ask the parties involved to cease their violent attacks.

After rebels
attacked and took control of the town of Sheiria last week, the Sudanese army said it was prepared to retake the town, to which the rebels replied that they would "repulse anything from the Sudanese government's army."

The upsurge in violence forced thousands more out of the villages,
swelling the ranks of the internally displaced that already numbers nearly 2 million.

As the violence was raging, even the UN's own Special Representative Jan Pronk, a man who tends to see everything in Sudan through rose-colored glasses, was forced to
admit that the violence was spiraling out of control. He was joined by the US government, which stated that the "uptick in violence ... is of concern to us" and the UN's genocide advisor, Juan Mendez, who acknowledged that Khartoum had done little to disarm militias or end the "culture of impunity" that exists in Darfur.

Pronk went on to state that the UN must give the Sudanese government and rebels an ultimatum to compel them to reach some sort of peace agreement and even made the
startling admission that, thus far, the UN has utterly failed to deal with Darfur
Pronk said that when the Darfur conflict began U.N. humanitarian officials agitated for the Security Council to take up the conflict, which it refused to do.

A "massive force" was needed [in 2003] then to guarantee security but instead several thousand African Union troops and monitors had to carry the burden. And now the council needed to plan for how to keep the peace in case a peace deal was signed.
Pronk was quoted elsewhere as saying
He said the war situation in Sudan was "everybody's failure" and could have been avoided if the international community had acted quickly.

How could the present day situation have been avoided?

"I think there should have been intervention in 2003," Pronk said, adding that while the occurrence of genocide in the country was debatable, "There was mass slaughter of people. It needed humanitarian intervention."
Of course, the international community did not act quickly, nor are they acting quickly now.

In fact, while Darfur burned, the BBC
reported that American and British intelligence officials, along with representatives of the UN, China and 12 African nations were in Khartoum discussing cooperation on counter-terrorism operations in the region.

Hosting the conference is part of a sustained diplomatic push by Sudan to shake off its pariah status ... When the opportunity for this second regional conference on counter-terrorism came up, Sudan competed for the right to host it ... The decision of the CIA to agree to come to Sudan shows the pragmatism of the intelligence community against the continuing political desire of America to punish Sudan for what has happened in Darfur.

Khartoum continues to work to "shake off its pariah status," with Sudanese Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed publishing an op-ed in the Washington Times today claiming that "After two decades of brutal civil war, Sudan is emerging as a reminder that engagement, dialogue and intensive diplomacy can resolve seemingly intractable problems and permit a country to look to the future with optimism."

Meanwhile, the violence and anarchy Khartoum unleashed is now
spilling over into neighboring Chad, a country that is already host to an estimated 200,000 refugees from Darfur.
A group of unidentified armed men in military uniform crossed into Chad from Sudan early on Monday, killing 36 herders and stealing livestock, the Chadian government said.
The violence, in addition to threatening the people of Darfur, is also threatening the relief work that sustains them, as U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland noted yesterday
"If it (the violence) continues to escalate, we may not be able to sustain our operations for 2.5 million people requiring life-saving assistance," he said, adding: "In Darfur, it (aid distribution) could all end tomorrow. It is as serious as that."
As Eric Reeves never fails to remind us, in December 2004, Egeland warned that 100,000 people could die a month if humanitarian organizations are forced to suspend operations in Darfur.

Despite all of this, Pronk still managed to recently
declare that progress was being made on implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South and on efforts to reach peace in Darfur.

Such a statement is utterly feckless and shameful.

As Gerald Caplan, author of "Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide,"
wrote last week
But what we are learning from Darfur, which we never remotely imagined, is that even naming a genocide is an utterly inconsequential exercise in hot air ... despite the apparent concern of many western leaders, despite the pressure from elements of civil society, the catastrophe in Darfur is explicitly allowed to continue ... As always, everything takes precedence over the suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of distant, exotic others. It won't be the last time."
After two years, 400,000 deaths, and an estimated 3.5 million now entirely dependent on humanitarian aid, it must be stated that the UN and every one of its member nations have failed the people of Darfur and, in all likelihood, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Judd Apatow Wisdom

It's like a few years ago, I heard ELO had a new album, and I was very excited to get it. It was truly awful. Such things make me scared for myself. Is there a moment after you have had some success, where you are no longer good at what you do, but you think you are still the shit? That is a truly terrifying thought for me. I can wake up in a cold sweat fearing one day I won't be funny at all, and everyone is afraid to tell me.

Refund Please

El Wapo goes medieval on the congressional delegation from Louisiana for proposing a bail out pacakage to the tune of $250 billion. Since the whole Porkbusters meme is gaining so much steam, I see no reason NOT to start a parallel movement. For everyone who donated money to the Katrina relief effort, it's well within our rights to request a return of our money. With billions of dollars potentially being sent to the pelican state's coffers, I shall claim that I contributed via a larger-than-necessary portion of my taxes in 2010, which undoubtedly went to some hurricane victim's flatscreen television.

Shooting First

Yesterday, Florida's "Shoot First" law went into effect. Before I comment on this, I want to make two things clear. First, I am a pretty broad supporter of second amendment rights. I am highly skeptical of gun control, but I acknowledge that in some purely pragmatic situations it should occur. For instance, I don't believe that military-grade weapons should be able to be sold to civilians, and that some weapons (of this type) can be banned. I believe the second amendment says people have the right to own guns, rifles, maybe even some assault rifles. I don't believe it says people can stroll down the street looking like this though. That is plain crazy.

Second, I believe in self-defense. I think the state of affairs in Britain where people are arrested for trying to fight off burglars in their own houses. People have a right to defend their persons if threatened. That being said, Florida's "Shoot First" law is likely to cause some real tragedies and goes too far. The notion that the law says if someone "feels" threatened, either themselves or their property, they are within their legal rights to use deadly force. Double-yoo-tee-eff were they thinking? Self-defense in the United States is a tricky thing, but usually the thought is that if you killed someone in self-defense you need to have some objective proof that you were in fact in danger. Not with "shoot first!" It makes it all subjective, which if courtrooms have shown one thing with insanity defenses, results in a circus. What if you "feel" threatened by the police? What if you "feel" threatened by the foreign tourist who doesn't understand english? What if you "feel" threatened by the color red? And then we introduce that the same thing applies to property too. . .The use of deadly force in any context needs to be taken more seriously than this. The number of homicides that will happen because people are confused and don't understand someone shouting at them in fear (not that you're even required to warn someone under this law before you shoot them dead) will be daunting. People will end up in a "It's coming right for us!" mentality like Uncle Jimbo. This is not the way to strengthen self-defense laws, this is a way to weaken them by reducing them to hyperbole and placing everyone in danger, and giving everyone the right to shoot their way out of that perceived danger.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

40 Year Old Liberal?

I have been told that you get more conservative as you get older. In fact, a really funny joke that I heard (that I probably tell way too often) says that if you are a 20 year old Republican you have no heart, and if you are a 40 year old Democrat, you have no brain. Now I have always maintained that this would not happen to me; that I am a (moderate) liberal, through and through. But sure enough, after reading this article, I found myself another step closer to switching parties.

Truth be told, I don’t think my politics is changing. I am just reacting to the recent stupidity of the Democrats (which many of us on this blog have been commenting about for a while). I cannot comprehend why Democrats would boycott a chance to ask former head of FEMA Michael Brown tough questions about his role during the Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery. By having only a few Democrats at the hearing, Brown was able to direct most of the blame towards the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans – both Democrats. Not that I don’t think they deserve their fair share, but Brown shouldn’t be given a free pass to duck all responsibility. Wait a minute; he wasn’t really given a free pass. Nope, he was questioned by Republicans, who came off looking like the only ones who are truly interested in understanding the poor response to Hurricane Katrina. Although it is unclear from the article if the Republicans actually grilled Brownie, at least they were there to posture and give the appearance that they are investigating this.

If I could only teach Democrats one thing it would be that voters don’t want to see this political nonsense. Instead they want to see that their elected representatives care more about understanding and correcting problems than in settling old scores.

Inconceivable!!

About 200,000 "lefty nutjobs" gathered in DC this past weekend for some good ole fashioned anti-Bush demonstrations. I was there, too. I had to go. My people were calling to me: What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now! And how about: This is what democracy looks like! (crowd repeats) This is what democracy sounds like! (crowd repeats) This is what democracy acts like! (crowd repeats) Yeah!

Ah, indeed, far too much time had passed since I exercised my right to peaceful assembly! Since July 2004! Rome, Italy. Bush was in town visiting, and a few thousand folks thought they'd take to the streets. Damn, those Italians sure know how to throw a protest! Drums, signs, flags… Huge trucks carrying DJs, turntables, blasting music down the crowded streets. Can you imagine? Local radio stations supporting an anti-Bush protest? Oh, those crazy Europeans! Always so fucking unconventional.

But, let us talk about here and now. The protest this past Saturday.

The highlight for me, by far, was spotting the actor who plays my favorite movie villain – Vizzini in The Princess Bride. Yup, folks, my friend the Saguaro Empress and I somehow ended up standing right next to Wallace Shawn!! I did not want to pester the man with Ohmigod, can you say ‘Inconceivable!’ for me? Just once? Pretty please? But others had no such reservations. We tried our best to appear absolutely nonchalant about our famous co-protester, but poor Vizzini ended up being accosted by several rabid fans nonetheless, and Inconceivable!! rang out from the crowd on a few occasions.

So as homage to the man who tried to take on the ever-so-handsome Westley a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts, I shall now proceed to list a few things that I perceived to be completely inconceivable to me as a participant in the protest, and more importantly, as a citizen.

1. George didn’t even have the guts to stick around DC this weekend. Our Commander-in-Chief, tail between his legs, ran scurrying down to Texas under the pretense of "monitoring Hurricane Rita efforts," while his wife kept the DC hearth warm. No wonder her approval ratings are higher than his.

2. For all the anti-war protesters at the march, I was surprised at the lack of pro-war protesters showing up. Yup, there was a Bible-thumping looney who told us through a megaphone that we were all sinful and going to hell for protesting the war, but other than that… I remember the March for Women's Lives in April 2004. Anti-choice protesters almost lined the entire route. Now that’s what I call interactive democracy.

3. Even though there were more anti-war protesters, the Monday morning front page cover of the Washington Post Express had a picture of parents of a fallen soldier at a pro-war demonstration. Okay. I see how it is, Mr. Mainstream Media. Bring it on!

4. Ninety-one percent of DC voters voted against Bush in the 2004 presidential election. When the protesters gathered to march AGAINST Bush in 2005, it was those same DC voters who footed the bill for anti-protest security. Man, does it suck to be a voter in DC! Not only do you get to have a president you didn’t vote for, but he moves in next door, and you get stuck paying his security bills, too!!

5. I read in the news that this was the largest anti-war protest since the U.S. invaded Iraq. Some say it is the biggest anti-war protest since Vietnam. How sad. Are we only getting gutsy now? How long did it take us – two and a half years of needless death and bloodshed? Gosh, talk about slow on the uptake, my fellow Americans.

Inconceivable!

Kinda Kinky, But No, It's Not Me

A friend of mine sent me a link to the item excerpted below and asked, somewhat seriously, I think, if it was I who posted the ad. No, for the record, it wasn't.

I prefer being spanked.

Reply to: anon-100252781@craigslist.org
Date: 2005-09-27, 8:59AM EDT


Ladies, if you're single and living in DC, you're almost certainly a liberal. At the very least, you hate Chimpy "Smirk-Smirk" McBushitlerburtonazi. After all, he and Cheney and their Halliburton cronies caused two huge hurricaines, lied about Iraq, want to tell you what you can do with your uterus, etc. Not only that, he defeated that windsurfing Frenchman in the last election.

I've got a great way to get out your frustrations: slap me around. I voted for the man twice, and I think he's awesome. Seriously, you can slap me in the face as much as you want. Let's meet for coffee in a safe, public place to talk it over.
  • this is in or around Cap Hill & Downtown
  • no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Flawless Victory!

I'm kind of ashamed to link to a Christopher Hitchens piece, but oh well. When you're at a crunch at work, you got no other choices but to borrow from others. In effect, he summarizes all the problems I see with the antiwar movement and its weekend activities in one brutal slice. The characters running this are just so unscrupulous and so shady that they have no claim to moral legitimacy of any kind. And Hitch tells us why. Here we go.

I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across "International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper—to mention only two radical left journalists—who have exposed "International ANSWER" as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism.

The group self-lovingly calling itself "United for Peace and Justice" is by no means "narrow" in its "antiwar focus" but rather represents a very extended alliance between the Old and the New Left, some of it honorable and some of it redolent of the World Youth Congresses that used to bring credulous priests and fellow-traveling hacks together to discuss "peace" in East Berlin or Bucharest. Just to give you an example, from one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well, I can tell you that the Worker's World Party—Ramsey Clark's core outfit—is the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary. The WWP is the direct, lineal product of that depraved rump. If the "United for Peace and Justice" lot want to sink their differences with such riffraff and mount a joint demonstration, then they invite some principled political criticism on their own account. And those who just tag along … well, they just tag along.

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

This group and coalitions brings out everything bad about left-wing politics in the same way that Pat Robertson brings out everything bad about right-wing politics. It's the reason that the effort is fronted and run by such loony bin hysterics that the antiwar movement cannot really catch the fire it might have been able to from the beginning. Even though I don't agree with the objectives of the antiwar movement, I desperately believe that we need one. We need a legitimate movement to challenge, critique, and denounce the mistakes made in the Iraq War, to remind us of it, to push politicians and everyone else to try harder. Unfortunately, the current antiwar movement not only doesn't seem capable of such things, they don't have any such goals. They are just plain stuck on stupid.

Down With Interest Groups

I think the Roberts nomination should cause us to reflect on the current state of judicial nominees specifically and partisan politics generally. It has been noted, mostly by Republican Senators, that Justices Scalia and Ginsberg received nearly unanimous approval from the Senate, and both are on the far end of the spectrum in their respective beliefs. What has changed since then that someone like Roberts, far less extreme than Scalia, would not garner near unanimous support?

At first glance one could blame the Democrats, because they are the ones voting against Roberts. But I don’t think anyone honestly believes that Republicans would be giving unanimous support to a Supreme Court nominee if it was coming from a Democratic President. Republicans would feel pressure (similar to what the Democrats face) to block a nominee that might support gay rights, abortion, and separation of church and state.

The obvious cause then is the interest groups (and I don’t pretend that I am saying anything ground-breaking or original). Right now politics is so divisive because we have interest groups that are so self-righteous they are willing to severely punish any politician that actually votes against them. This creates strong party discipline at the expense of clear decision-making and strong character. And this is definitely the case on both sides of the isle.

I have heard people blame the McCain – Feingold Campaign Finance Act, which was well intentioned but appears to have strengthened the interest groups at the expense of the general public. When the interest groups have as much power as they do, good decision-making is lost. Most of us with a clear head can see this. We can see it in the Roberts nomination, but we can also see it in arguments about the Iraq War and many other debates facing the country.

I keep saying that I expect a major blow-up soon – that the middle will take back politics in one fell swoop. But in reality, I hardly believe that will happen. I hope for it more than anything – but deep down I just expect politics as usual to continue. And when this happens, we will see Democrats with no good ideas facing Republicans without good ideas. We will see the candidate that is the lesser of two evils win (like we did in 2004). And in that case, I am not really sure if I care whether it is a Republican or a Democrat.

Mike Brown LIVES

Via TMV

"Perhaps we should have known better than to believe it when Michael Brown was forced out at FEMA.

CBS News' Gloria Borger is reporting tonight that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has rehired Brown, the former head of the agency who resigned in ignominy this month for overstating his qualifications and underperforming in relief efforts.

Borger writes that Brown will serve as "a consultant to evaluate it's response following Hurricane Katrina." So does this mean that his salary will be less than or greater that it was before he resigned? And even more importantly, why is this guy getting another cent of taxpayers' money?

[Update 5:20 PM Pacific]: The AP's Lara Jakes Jordan adds more to the story.


Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks, said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke.

During that time, Brown will advise the department on "some of his views on his experience with Katrina," as he transitions out of his job, Knocke said.
Not too bad of a deal for "Brownie," though it's not entirely clear how much the American public benefits from him continuing to receive a full paycheck."


Mike Brown, sullying the name of consultants everywhere. I don't know about the rest of my colleagues, but this consultant is beyond disgusted. Shame on you Mr. Brown for wasting taxpayer money with these 'consulting fees' of yours. For shame.

Oh Jesus God NO

It's official. The Donks are completely out of ideas. I quit.

Anyone?

Mr P. and I have discussed that we would vote for anyone other than Senator George Allen of VA if he ever ran for President. However, I think I found my limit ... Ben Affleck. It turns out there's a desperation move by VA Dems to get Affleck to run for Senator against Allen.

Hmm, actually, nah. I would rather have "Benator" than crazy ass George. Yeah, Affleck was in Gigli but he was also in Dogma.

Monday, September 26, 2005

ABC's Anchor Search

Okay, everyone, list your fantasy pick to succeed the late Peter Jennings. My fantasy pick would be Lunchbox, assuming he could adapt his unique JPB-style to newscasting.

But back to reality. ABC should seriously consider going out-of-network and snagging John Seigenthaler from NBC. Seigenthaler has the look, sound, and demeanor of an evening newscast anchor, and from what I've seen, plays most of the news pieces he's done on NBC Nightly News on the weekends pretty much straight down the middle.

And yes, I did offer similar advice to CBS a while back.

As a dog returns to his vomit...

... so George Soros returns to blowing wads of cash on a risky political scheme.

Billionaire financier George Soros hosted a fundraiser for Senate Democrats last week at his Manhattan home, making his first foray into politics after spending $25 million of his money in an effort to defeat President Bush last year.

Soros gathered about 60 of his friends and acquaintances in his Upper East Side home Thursday to hear a presentation from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to a knowledgeable source. The event raised an estimated $250,000 for Senate Democratic candidates.

Better than Sheehan

The antiwar movement and the left continue to select the shrillest and most inaccessible figures imaginable. I especially love the "Bush is the symptom, Capitalism is the disease Revolution is the answer" placards that were all over C-Span at this weekend's rally. And these people expect to convince the 51% who voted for Bush that they're right?

In any case, they ignore a family and a man DoD made a propaganda fest out of and who could provide a much more accessible rallying point. A family that if the antiwar movement could line up behind, they would score a panoply of points and tether and anchor their cause to an unmoveable and recognizable rock. Bonus points: in this case there is more than documented evidence DoD and the Administration lied. But the details are even better.

“There have been so many discrepancies so far that it’s hard to know what to believe,” Mary Tillman said. “There are too many murky details.” The files the family received from the Army in March are heavily censored, with nearly every page containing blacked-out sections; most names have been deleted. (Names for this story were provided by sources close to the investigation.) At least one volume was withheld altogether from the family, and even an Army press release given to the media has deletions. On her copies, Mary Tillman has added competing marks and scrawls — countless color-coded tabs and angry notes such as “Contradiction!” “Wrong!” and “????”

A Chronicle review of more than 2,000 pages of testimony, as well as interviews with Pat Tillman’s family members and soldiers who served with him, found contradictions, inaccuracies and what appears to be the military’s attempt at self-protection.

For example, the documents contain testimony of the first investigating officer alleging that Army officials allowed witnesses to change key details in their sworn statements so his finding that certain soldiers committed “gross negligence” could be softened.

Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author.

Unlike Cindy Sheehan — who has protested against President Bush because of the death of her son Casey in combat in Baghdad — Mary Tillman, 49, who teaches in a San Jose public junior high school, and her ex-husband, Patrick Tillman, 50, a San Jose lawyer, have avoided association with the anti-war movement. Their main public allies are Sen. John McCain, RAriz., and Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, who have lobbied on their behalf. Yet the case has high stakes because of Pat Tillman’s status as an all-American hero.


Pat Tillman, the NFL star. Pat Tillman, the hero. Pat Tillman, a man who served his country even though he disagreed with the military on the war. And Pat Tillman, whose mother Mary Tillman was lied to. And Mary Tillman, who has support from some Republicans in her effort to find out the truth about her sons. It makes so much sense its startling. It's a real emotional tear-jerker, and captures so much about what is wrong with the incompetence of the DoD in waging the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan. . .and yet, the Left will never latch on to this. Ever, ever, ever. Why? Because it makes too much sense. And I doubt Mary Tillman is willing to stand on stage and cry out that Bush should be tried as some sort of war criminal. And that's the extreme message they're going for.

Hat tip, Mr. Sullivan.

On the Subject of Crazy People and Protests

Smash has firsthand reporting, including pictures and sound recordings, of quite a nutty one in California. I weep for the antiwar movement's credibility when I see things like this.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sacrifice for the Team

In Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, the San Francisco Giants were two innings away from winning the World Series. All that was left was for Rob Nen to do what he did all season - shut down the opposite team's best hitters. This article gives the background behind the double Nen gave up to Troy Glaus that gave the Anaheim Angels a one run lead, and eventually the win, in Game 6 (the Angels went on to win Game 7 the next day, stealing the World Series from the Giants). The article shows that this wasn't a Mitch Williams or Dennis Eckersley type story. It is a must read for any sports fan about ultimate sacrifice for the team, and playing on borrowed time.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tragedy in the Ring

Although I certainly don’t advocate for an end to boxing, tragedies like this one remind us how dangerous the sport really is. Unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done to make it any safer. Each boxer knows the risk they face upon entering the ring – but that doesn’t make it any less depressing when one dies from their injuries.

Freedom in the Midst of Disasters

A surfer off the shore of Galveston, Texas, was arrested Friday for not adhering to evacuation orders and surfing the large waves created by an approaching Hurricane Rita, according to a Local 6 News report.The man, who was not identified, was taken into custody by police after coming out of the surf.

Look, is it really necessary to arrest people for being incredibly stupid? Am I wrong to think it's not only asinine but an affront to individual liberty that a surfer gets his ass tossed in jail because he decided to ride the waves rather than get out of Dodge (only to get stuck in never-ending traffic) during an evacuation order?

It seems pretty simple to me: warn the public to get out, because if they don't, they can't be guaranteed timely, if any, emergency, fire, or police response by the authorities. Then let the chips fall where they may for those who take that chance.

Choose Wisely

So there's the big antiwar protest this weekend. I've gotten numerous emails about it on all the (D) listservs I've been on. Everyone, even moderate D's (who are anti-war, of course), see it as a big tent coming together type deal of sensible people coming to try to end the war. What they don't understand, though, is that it is being run, organized, and put forth by these nutjobs (this piece is by David Corn, yes, David Corn, of the superliberal The Nation, and it is a thorough denouncing of this group). That's right: A.N.S.W.E.R. The protest will be attended by a lot of neophytes, and will likely be quite a large event. But make no mistake, this isn't some level-headed peace march. ANSWER is much more nutty and extreme than that. I don't have problems with antiwar protests. I don't think, especially in the Iraq situation, that's its particular extreme, or "treasonous" as so many would like to label it. Its dissent. But run by these people it's dissent of a particularly rabid, moonbat type.

Dems tethered themselves to Cindy Sheehan for awhile. And it worked, and most Dems didn't see a problem with it. Mostly because the MSM was extra kind to Sheehan and didn't choose to dwell on the moments when she called the killers of her son "freedom fighters" and that Casey died in a "Zionist War" and that she wanted immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and found that war just as immoral as Iraq. In other words: they got lucky that Sheehan wasn't really called out for the nutjob she was. As ANSWER gains strength and support amongst mainstream liberals, they're going to need a lot more luck to hide what ANSWER really believes in: views, stances, and demands that would not only terrify almost all of middle America, but should do the same even to lefties and liberals who understand their insanity. My message: one should be careful about one's company, and the causes one anchors oneself too. What seems like a perhaps sensible, mainstream war protest is unlikely to turn out so, and is going to support a lot of madness many people shouldn't want anything to do with.

Ol' Dirty Bastard or Baby Jesus?

You really have to respect a political scientist when he couches his political predictions in Wu-Tang Clan speak. It's even more impressive that Larry Sabato is the culpable party. Is Larry's newfound fondness of the RZA, GZA, Method Man and co. due to his addiction to Charlottesville's 91.9 Boom Box rap show every weeknight? Or is it because, deep down, he's always been a softy for Shaolin and all its inhabitants? Unfortunately, we'll probably never know the truth, but I surely regret never taking one of his politics courses back in college, what with all the Wu-wear he was probably hiding under those suits of his.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Up Against the Wall

A Bush nominee being criticized is nothing new. . .unless it's being done by The National Review. And this is no aw shucks criticism. They want her nomination removed. LET THE MUTINY BEGIN! Between this and the Porkbusters Movement (goading NANCY PELOSI into action as the greatest fiscal conservative in Congress no less), real conservatives are finally fighting back, and over stuff criminally neglected that actually matters to us all. Power to them.

Let the negative ads begin

So today was the first day I noticed negative ads in the Virginia Governor's race. Thank goodness. I was tired of those cheesy ads of Kaine with a classroom of kids.

Trainwreck. . .Thy Name Be X3

CHUD has the latest on the mess the next X-men movie is becoming. I don't think any Director on earth has the ability to do this kind of madness, and with Brett Ratner at the wheel we can be sure that none will ever attempt it again. I just want to know why the hell they've decided to bring in OMEGA RED, AVALANCHE, SCARLET WITCH, a bunch of madeup X-men no one's heard of, MULTIPLE MAN, and still try to squeeze Sentinels and Dark Phoenix into the story. This is sounding a lot like Batman and Robin.

Faith and Fear

This article highlights both my fears about the far left, and my faith in some of the more clear-thinking liberals. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he will support the nomination of Judge Roberts to fill Rehnquist’s vacancy on the Supreme Court. Here is what he said:

"I know this won't be popular with many of my constituents," the senior Democrat, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, said in an interview, after praising Judge Roberts as a "man of integrity" in a speech on the Senate floor. "But I really didn't come here to win a popularity contest."

I can’t tell you how much it relieves me to have at least one Democrat (with more to come hopefully) make the right decision both in general and for the long term health of the party. In order to court moderates, Democrats need to show that they will only vote nay on nominees that are truly objectionable. And even though I expressed caution at some of his earlier memos (Prince assures me they were lawyer jokes) he did a pretty good job of convincing me through his testimony that he will make a good chief justice. What I don’t understand is why more Democrats can’t show the same deference to Bush’s nominee that Republicans showed to Justice Ginsberg – her nomination was nearly unanimous. And let me also say that Senator Kerry continues to prove why he doesn’t deserve to be President as he plans to vote against Roberts.

But it is the rhetoric like the following that truly scares me:

Indeed, Mr. Leahy's decision brought a rebuke from Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, who has been among those leading the charge against Judge Roberts. Mr. Neas called the decision "inexplicable, and deeply disappointing," and warned that if Judge Roberts overturned or rolled back decisions on women's rights, abortion rights, environmental protections and other issues of importance to Democrats, "Senator Leahy's support for Roberts will make him complicit in those rulings."

If Judge Roberts rolls back decisions on women’s rights, Senator Leahy is not to blame, nor is he complicit. The American people are responsible for this because they elected President Bush with the full knowledge that there was bound to be some Supreme Court vacancies on his watch. It frustrates me to no end hearing statements from the far left or far right that say anyone who isn't on their side is complicit in ruining America.

Evil Incarnate

As per Mr.Sun's request, I link to his post bringing you the true face of evil.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fun With Google Earth: Where Does My Local Terror Suspect Work?Go

The Muslim school at which a College Park terror suspect works. Just enter the following into the location search field and hit the button. I used this because the street address was a few hundred feet off. This also works with Google Maps.

"39.0148307092678 -76.91143569286906"

More Incompetence

This is an interesting graphic. In his order for a FEMA response prior to Katrina hitting, the President only included the land locked parishes. You know, the parishes not touching water.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Privatize the Porn Patrol

Jason Feifer at HappyScrappy has a humorous take on the Justice Department's directives on fighting porn:

September 20, 2005

Get ready for "Gretta Does Guantanamo"

wanted-osamajenna.jpg

The FBI is setting up a new squad to attack one of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's "top priorities" -- but it's not terrorism or corruption. It's porn. And, oh no, not child porn. Just regular ol' legal, by-adults-for-adults porn.

I feel safer already. I mean, who knows when one of these porn stars might come by and kidnap me, and make videos of me in which I'm blindfolded and breasts are held against my head? Who knows when a porn star might get on a bus or subway line, or walk into a crowded nightclub, and then blow everyone in sight? Who knows how many of these porn stars have pilot licenses, and could just spread those wings at any time? This is a risky world we live in, and we have to take every threat seriously.


This led me to thinking. If we MUST have federal agencies scoping out obscene adult porn on the Net, isn't this prime federal real estate for privatizing to contractors? If so, I volunteer the services of myself and the other members of this blog to stamp out smut, for a reasonable, negotiable fee, of course. Al, ole buddy, give us a call, or better yet, just show up in person to our next happy hour at Big Hunt in DuPont.

What An Ass

Are the Donks f'ing retarded?

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada announced today that he will vote against the confirmation of chief justice nominee John G. Roberts Jr., a sign that party leaders want to build a sizeable bloc of opposition in next week's floor vote.

Reid, an anti-abortion moderate from a swing state, is the type of Democrat that the Bush administration hoped would vote for Roberts. Reid's announcement, to be detailed in an afternoon Senate speech, is partly designed to encourage other moderate Democrats to oppose the nomination.


Seriously, do they LIKE losing? Do Dems strive to be a minority party for the foreseeable future? Are they gutless, completely beholden to every interest group they supposedly represent? This vote was an absolute no-brainer, strategically AND realistically. I hope Reid is alone in his sentiment (somehow I DOUBT IT), as he and the Botox Zombie (Mme. Pelosi) have shown remarkably little in the way of alternatives to the current incompetence propogated by the ol' GOP nimrods in power.

What an ass, indeed.

Wanted: Dynamic Leaders

The more I think about the 2006 mid-term elections and the 2008 elections, I really wonder what kind of candidates will come forward. Neither party should really be proud of who is serving them right now. The Republicans (both our President and in Congress) seem to know nothing about fiscal responsibility. The mix of high spending and low taxes is fun in the short term but could cause serious problems in the future (and we should be very concerned with who is buying our debt). There are also significant management issues that GOP faithful should be worried about including Hurricane Katrina and an Iraqi state that at times looks to be on the verge of collapse.

The Democrats on the other hand don’t seem to be able to shift the voters’ confidence in their direction. Talk about Iraq has mostly focused around timetables for pullout and constant complaining about going to war for the wrong reasons. But they also have no ground to criticize the poor fiscal management of the Bush administration and Republican Congress since they are just as guilty of high spending and adding more pork to already overloaded appropriations bills. In fact, their only solution is to raise taxes on the rich, which will not do enough unfortunately to deal with the extremely high deficits we are looking at right now. And Democrats have plenty to be ashamed of with Hurricane Katrina as well.

Add on top of that an ever growing level of partisan bickering over everything from abortion and judicial nominees to dying with dignity and lobbying scandals and it is a wonder if anyone will be re-elected. A number of moderates are predicting that voters are tired of the politics as usual and may start moving towards consensus-builders and dynamic leaders. If any emerge, you can bet I’ll be one of the first on board their bandwagon. But if the elections don’t produce any such candidates, I think I will find it harder and harder to stay energized and enthusiastic about a political atmosphere that seems to be producing far too few good ideas and valuable leaders.

RINO Droppings

I invite everyone to come up with snarky titles to promote RINO Sightings every week. Sorry for being a day late.

Since When Do Credentials Matter?

I brought up the issue of Bush administration patronage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it looks like it needs to be mentioned again. Julie Myers is being nominated to head the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement agency and her resume is a little light. Although she has had some administration experience, the jump from managing $25 million and 75 employees to $4 billion and 20,000 employees is significant. Now I realize that I only have the information that I read in the article, and she might have qualifications that are unknown to both me and the press. After all, Myers and Michael Chertoff were able to change the mind of Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) who was skeptical during hearings. So they could have demonstrated her wonderful credentials in the private meetings, right? Maybe she is actually the best person to head this highly troubled organization and turn it around. But for some reason I highly doubt that. It looks like just another egregious abuse of patronage by the Bushies – appointing the niece of the Chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a high level administrative position. Unfortunately this one will not slide by as easily as Brown’s nomination did.

Flipping the Byrd

Holy Constitutional issues, Batman. I doubt even uber-patriots will find the following acceptable (Received via email):

As the Assistant G-1 for Civilian Personnel, I am pleased to announce "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day." Public Law 108-447 designates September 17 of each year as "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day." This law was mandated in response to a proposal introduced by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) to strengthen our patriotism.

In accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations (H.R. 4818), Public Law 108-447, Division J, Title I, Sec. 111; amends Section 106 of 36 U.S.C. "(a) The head of each Federal agency or department shall - (1) provide each new employee of the agency or department with educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution as part of the orientation materials provided to the new employees; and (2) provide educational and training material concerning the United States Constitution to each employee of the agency or department on September 17 of each year."


Proof positive that none of our civil servants EVER passed civics 101 in middle school.

Kelo goes to Congress

National Review's Eric Pfeiffer blogs today about the Senate hearings on federal legislation to curtail the effects of Kelo v. New London. Hats off to him for covering an issue the MSM see as a yawner.


Kelo: More Provocative than 10 Commandments?
09/20 12:11 PM

I just returned from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing “Investigating Taking of Homes and other Private Property” in response to the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision.

The seven rows of public seating were filled to capacity, with virtually every free inch of backflow space taken up as well. The majority in attendance are opposed to the Kelo decision, as witnessed by their “Hands off My Home” t-shirts. Six Republican from the committee were in attendance, including Chairman Arlen Specter, Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn and Sam Brownback. The only Democrat in attendance was ranking member Pat Leahy.

Senator Cornyn was actually the first to testify before the committee, describing what he called an issue that has “brought together people across the ideological spectrum” in opposition to the Court’s decision. Cornyn noted, “I have received more phone calls and mail on this than decisions concerning the 10 Commandments.” Cornyn also noted his introduction of Senate Bill 1313, co-sponsored with Democrat Senator Bill Nelson and 28 co-sponsors, which seeks to limits Kelo’s reach.

The Most Magnificent Defeat Ever

Besides maybe Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Don Young, master of multi-million dollar ice-bridges to nowhere named after himself, lost his bid to become Homeland Security chairman. Thank Gawd. Seeing as how DHS has already been a pork bonanza in granting a lot of local police and Governors security-related slush funds, Don Young would've only made it worse. Who knows what kinds of maniacal things he could've justified in the name of Homeland Security to bring more pork to Alaska. Perhaps counter-terrorism training for Caribou? Bomb detectors in Alaskan native villages? A Terrorist-Threat Integration Center for Juno? It boggles the mind. The man deserves to be impeached for the egregious waste he slips in every piece of legislation, and I can rest safer at night knowing he's not going to have his grubby mitts on our security money.

Evolution Schmevoltion

An article in Sunday’s New York Times talks about a new book by the Dali Lama in which he embraces science. To see a major religious leader take such a position is inspiring. After all, too many religious leaders disparage science. But despite his openness, we shouldn’t get too carried away.

But when it comes to questions about life and its origins, this would-be man of science begins to waver. Though he professes to accept evolutionary theory, he recoils at one of its most basic tenets: that the mutations that provide the raw material for natural selection occur at random. Look deeply enough, he suggests, and the randomness will turn out to be complexity in disguise - "hidden causality," the Buddha's smile.

This sounds familiar (and the NY Times article suggests this also) to arguments for intelligent design. The Daily Show had a week long segment last week called Evolution Schmevolution which basically mocked those who refuse to believe in evolution. Although I didn’t catch the whole segment, one aspect was interesting: Jon Stewart convened a panel of experts to defend evolution, intelligent design, and creationism. Although the creationism expert came off silly, the intelligent design expert wasn’t as scary as I expected. He didn’t deny the merits of evolution. Instead he merely said that there are aspects of the world around us that suggest an intelligent creator. And more than that, he was willing to work within the scientific framework to investigate or prove this.

While I have no problem with the Dali Lama writing a book on science and religion, nor do I have a problem if religious experts want to investigate God’s hand in nature, I have to admit I don’t see the point. Science is about exploring the world around us and trying to understand nature’s law through intense research. Religion on the other hand is about faith that there is something more out there – a belief in something that cannot be proven but only felt. Many people both learn about nature’s laws and also have faith in a God. But why so many feel the need to actually mix the two baffles me. Trying to use science to prove the existence of a higher being – or conversely trying to use your religion to disprove science – ruins both science and religion. But maybe there is a little of doubting Thomas in all of us that wants a little more proof that there is something more out there. But the moral of Thomas' story is that we shouldn't need proof - we should have faith.

Want to Know About the Afghani Elections?

Look no further.

Hat tip, Carnival of the Liberated.

Monday, September 19, 2005

That's a Good Little Poser!

Sometimes the right wing of the blogosphere is full of incisive commentary that those on every side should look at and absord. It's often smart, and full of biting and independent criticisms. A lot of the time, though, it's a bonanza of talking points hysteria and poser madness that can make the most shilling moments of the Daily Kos look enlightened by comparison. Take the recent rampage of manufactured outrage from Powerline about some apparently heretical (at least that's the idea you would get from reading this tirade) remarks by Bill Clinton on This Week. Here's a summary of what Bill Clinton said here.

Now, this is fairly typical criticism. It's not only watered down from what liberals have said, but it's a mishmash of things even Republicans have said (though probably not all in one sitting). But apparently Power Line has decided it's much worse than that. First of all, they open their piece with the following choice lines:

This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship. Consistent with that belief, former Presidents of both parties have stayed out of politics and have avoided criticizing their successors. Until now. The Democrats appear bent on destroying every element of the fabric that has united us as Americans.


I find this not only laughable but the most hypocritical bunch of nonsense I've ever heard. The stately line that "this has never happened before" is such a piece of fiction that I can't help but laugh. Former Presidents not criticizing their successors? That would've been a bit tough for Grover Cleveland, who not only had such a "successor" between himself and HIMSELF when he ran, but also for Teddy Roosevelt, who actually ended up running against a "successor," Taft, under the Bull Moose ticket. But Powerline loves to forget history. Especially within its own party. Memory gets in the way of making sweeping statements about the last 200 years. Also, of course, a blog like Powerline and its brethren can feel free to blast the unholy shit out of Clinton and blame him for every problem that happened during the Bush Administration and somehow Clinton is to cling to his "patriotism" and stay above "partisanship" while he's endlessly attacked by said unpatriotic partisan hacks. And if you want an example of said attack, Powerline feels free to provide you with one in its intellectually dishonest rebuttal of Clinton's criticism of Bush on Iraq:

This attack was false in every respect. The invasion of Iraq had the support of dozens of nations. The UN's inspections could never be "completed," but the UN itself had reported that large quantities of WMDs remained unaccounted for. On the other hand, Clinton's suggestion that there was "no real urgency" about the situation in Iraq was probably sincere, as it typified Clinton's approach to terrorism: he perceived no urgency after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, or after al Qaeda's attempt to simultaneously destroy a dozen American airplanes over the Pacific in 1995; or after the attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998; or after Saddam's attempt to assassinate former President Bush; or after Saddam repeatedly tried to shoot down American aircraft; or after the Cole bombing in 2000; or after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and converted it into a training ground for anti-American mass murderers; or after any number of other provocations.


Hmm, could that be because there was a certain Republican Congress that decried every one of Clinton's attempts to use his military as "global social work" (thanks to Felonious Monk on that one) or "wagging the dog?" Of course not! Perish the thought! But then again, if Clinton was a good patriot he would grin at such partisan snipes and say "of course I caused 9/11!" Oh, I think I've stumbled onto John Hinderaker's wet dream.Because responding to criticism by partisan hacks is so unpatriotic and so partisan. What did Clinton criticize Bush for? Some things many members of his own party have at this point (although Powerline would probably dub them heretics, RINOs, or worse.) Not enough troops. Not as urgent as other hot spots. The international support and UN inspectors lines are old hat by now, and despite all of Powerline's fantasizing no WMD's appeared. Powerline wants to deny what in retrospect are genuinely legitimate criticisms of Bush's choice to go to war. And while some of it is hindsight, it is still a reality.

But where is Powerline reaching the most? Clinton had this to say about the budget:

On the US budget, Clinton warned that the federal deficit may be coming untenable, driven by foreign wars, the post-hurricane recovery programme and tax cuts that benefitted just the richest one percent of the US population, himself included.

"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts," he said.

"We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

Clinton added: "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense."


Powerline fumbles this nonsense in response:

More lies. As Clinton well knows, the Bush tax cuts benefited all taxpayers. And by historical standards, the current deficit is relatively small as a proportion of GDP, and is dropping.

Again and again, President Bush has tried to work with the Democrats as if they were loyal Americans first, and partisans second. He has treated Bill Clinton with a friendship and respect that, candidly, is disproportionate to Clinton's meager accomplishments. Again and again, the Democrats have rebuffed Bush's overtures and taken advantage of his patriotism and good faith. Clinton's politically-motivated tissue of lies and distortions is just the latest example out of many. But it is unprecedented, coming from a former President. That is a sad thing: the latest wound inflicted on the body politic by the Democratic Party.


First of all, this last paragraph is too fictional to even bother talking about. Because we all know Bush has been such a uniter and has never done anything partisan and has always been about hugs and kisses with the opposition party and has never done anything polarizing at all. Mmmm hmm. But the first part, the typical farce uttered by sell-out conservatives about how its no problem the government is a maniacal spendthrift that seems determined to dye us all with red ink splashes for the next few coming generations, is especially sad. While it might be comforting to a supply sider to talk about how these tax cuts have somehow benefited everyone, they can't so easily also ignore the fact that the historical increase in discretionary spending that even puts the later years of Clinton to shame and is starting to approach LBJ's Great Society is a huge demand side stimulus. The fact that government spending has gone up and up and up and up and up IS, in fact, pumping even more money into the economy that's having an impact too. So all of it can't be attribute to tax cuts, a good portion is attributed to the unsustainable binge of tax cuts plus runaway spending. But Powerline would probably love to join Felonious Monk in a chorus about their being no fat left to trim in the federal budget. If you're not upset about the budget, you're just not paying attention.

Oh, I missed the fact that Powerline was upset because Clinton was disappointed with "the authorities" for their response to Katrina, and even though he said that included State and Local Officials he put SOME, SOME of the responsibility on Michael Brown and FEMA! How partisan! Let's not forget the Weekly Standard was even critical of FEMA for a couple of minutes.

So did anyone hear anything in Clinton's comments they haven't heard before? I sure didn't. And it was pretty tame. When Lindsey Graham is talking about Iraq being another Vietnam, when John Podhoretz says some Republican budget nonsense is indefensible, and when Bush himself actually admits his administration's response to the Hurricane wasn't all that great. Gee, Bush attacked himself! Does that mean Bush lost his sense of patriotism and succumbed to partisanship in attacking himself? Or was it actually a mature moment in a maturing administration?

Now wonder even The Weekly Standard doesn't have full faith in the constructiveness of the right-wing "new media" sometimes. What Bill Clinton said was tame and watered-down versions of old streaks of criticism you hear from Democrats in a more rabid form and disgruntled Republicans in the same form. It, in fact, had a few grains of truth to it. And that Powerline is so insane to lash out in blind, hyperbolic fury smacks of one thing: desperation.

Reconstructing Cheney

Psy Ops = Market Niche?

Expertise FOR SALE.

Just Say Hell No to Repeal of Posse Comitatus

Dan Flynn, a former Marine and exposer-extraordinaire of politically correct follies and fallacies in academia, rips the proposal that Posse Comitatus should be revoked:

Repealing the Posse Comitatus Act gives the federal government more power at the expense of the states--and the residents therein. As if it's not bad enough that presidents send troops to Lebanon or Somalia without Congressional approval, presidents will now be able to invade Michigan. And what effect will all this have on the armed forces? Instead of training to kill the enemy, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines will now prepare for additional, amorphous missions. Quelling riots? Policing? Hurricane relief? Drug enforcement? Anti-poverty efforts? When the government uses the military for domestic purposes, the military either ceases to act as the military or it acts as the military. Neither is a pleasing option.

Part of being a free citizen is doing what you want so long as it presents no harm. When I served in the Marines, the appropriate response to the orders of fellow Marines of a superior rank was "Yes, sir." Now that I have made the transition from part-time to full-time citizen, the appropriate response is "Get lost." There are other appropriate responses, some not printable, but all suggesting the same sentiment: I am a citizen of a free country, not a banana republic. Don't tell me what to do.

We have gone from a citizenry jealous of its liberties to a citizenry generous of its liberties. Some call this progress.

United They Stand

The Shiites don't take no shit:

Hundreds of thousands of Shiites descended Monday on the holy city of Karbala, paying tribute to one of their most revered religious figures in what Iraqi officials called a defiant pilgrimage despite threats by militants.

[snip]

Just days before this celebration, al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in a recorded message, declared an "all-out war" on Shiites and others deemed American collaborators. But Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi said Monday such threats would only "strengthen the defiance" of Iraqis.

Abdul-Mahdi said the Shiite pilgrims heading to Karbala were the "biggest (example of) defiance in the face of threats by al-Zarqawi," according a statement released by the Iraqi presidency.

The explosives cache found near Karbala was discovered late Sunday on farm land on the outskirts of the city, said police spokesman Rahman Mishawi.

Three "non-Iraqi Arabs" were arrested, Mishawi said, along with a man armed with several hand grenades who was caught walking with a procession of pilgrims.

Authorities were taking no chances this time.

Karbala police Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Hasnawi said that the city had been closed off to all vehicles since Friday, and that about 6,000 police and Iraqi army troops were deployed throughout the city. Policewomen would search female pilgrims, and nonresidents were required to obtain prior approval from authorities before being allowed to check in to hotels, he told The Associated Press.

Officials said they expected more than 1 million people to gather for the celebration marking Imam al-Mahdi's birth in 868 A.D. According to Shiite tradition, he vanished without a trace and will return before Judgment Day leading the faithful in a battle for a true and just Islamic state.


I can never cease to be amazed by the courage of the Iraqi people, and by the vicious bloodlust of Zarqawi. I think I know which side will win in the end.

The "America Sucks" Right

Killer New North Korea Policy Revealed

And that policy is? Copy Clinton! And it worked. ..

North Korea on Monday agreed to stop building nuclear weapons and allow international inspections in exchange for energy aid, economic cooperation and security assurances, in a first step toward disarmament after two years of six-nation talks.

The chief U.S. envoy to the talks praised the breakthrough as a “win-win situation” and “good agreement for all of us.” But he promptly urged Pyongyang to make good on its promises by ending operations at its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon.

“What is the purpose of operating it at this point?” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. “The time to turn it off would be about now.”


What does this do? It buys us more time. That's all Clinton could do with the situation, and Bush has found himself straightjacketed into the same one. The problem is North Korea has a heavy deterrence: namely the ability to destroy Seoul and much of South Korea with conventional weaponry at the onset of any attack. This makes taking military action against them difficult without South Korea, and possibly Japan given their missile capabilities, taking a massive loss and possibly the loss of entire cities.

So, you're left with: stalling. That's what Clinton's "Framework Agreement" of 1994 was about, and it looks like Bush has revived that same agreement, even though his administration held such contempt for it before. Flipflop? I suppose so. But Bush doesn't have many choices in this case. The military options are highly limited, and way more dangerous and risky than in most other global hotspots. The best one can hope for is a collapse of the Kim Jong-il regime, which has proved itself bizarrely resilient so far.

Life Imitates "Art"

Face/Off!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Happy Birthday US Constitution

No government of man is perfect, nor is any constitution, but for 218 years today the US Constitution has served us pretty well. In commemoration of this anniversary, Congress back in the day designated it Citizenship Day, and last year designated it Constitution Day, thanks to an amendment to federal legislation authored by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). But I have a question for the good senator, how does this self-declared lover of the Constitution defend his tenure in the world's greatest deliberative body considering his "state" is an unconstitutional fiction?

Senator Byrd, on this Constitution Day, sir, I submit to you Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution, "no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress." As we all know, West Virginia was unconstitutionally admitted as a new state by the Congress during the War Between the States, but Virginia, albeit in rebellion against the United States, was still required to give legislative permission to give up the western counties in order for West Virginia to legally emerge as a new state of the Union.

Why do I bring this up now? Quite simple. I say to the good people of West Virginia, shake off the bondage that shackles you! Dissolve your unconstitutional state and rejoin your eastern brethren in the Old Dominion.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Attack of the Red Ink

Me linking to the Heritage Foundation is the definition of irony (Back in the day, I lumped the Heritage boys, the Cato killers, and the AEI blowhards into the same Right Wing conspiratorial group). An $873 billion debt to be financed by a 37% increase in household tax burden? Not in my country.

Help Out Felonious Monk

Evil Glenn is trying to help Tom DeLay find some of that sought-after fat in the federal budget with a reader poll. I say "All of the Above!"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Succeed Where Carter Failed? Or Just Plain Pull a Carter?

I once had a conservative friend who said about Jimmy Carter: "The guy was useless as President, but he's been pretty decent since he left office. He's actually done some good, so I don't mind the guy." This was in reference to Jimmy Carter's work with Habitat for Humanity, and some of his international peace efforts (though he explicitly stated Carter had no business interfering with North Korea). What is important about this sentiment? It was datestamped September 2002. . .in other words a decent chunk of time before the Iraq War, which obviously caused some senile spring in Jimmy Carter to pop loose and lose his mind.

Well, Bill Clinton is out there and he's convening a global poverty summit, and it's an effort that sounds suspiciously Carter-like. Although Condi will participate in this strutfest. It marks one of Clinton's more ambitious moments since leaving office, and it's a good time to take a look at his post-Presidency legacy. I am, of course, a completely slanted Clinton fan. He probably came closest to representing my ideology than any other President (except maybe Truman). But that aside, he's been a classy guy so far. He had his partisan shill moments at the 2004 Dem Convention, but in doing so gave the most effective speech and rallying cry a Democrat ever had in the four years since he'd left office. Aside from that, he's been doing the rounds fundraising for the tsunami, and now for Hurricane Katrina, in his extra special love-affair with George H.W. Bush (which the grating oddness of still makes me have a WTF moment every time I see the commercials. . .). In this bad season he's taken some steps to try to actually achieve some degree of bipartisanship, even taking moments to praise the Big W.

So so far so good. Clinton is using some of his residue of political capital and leadership to put on an international summit to get some action on poverty. Again, so far so good. Everything is looking up for Slick Willy. But, of course, there's one thing that could make him go the route of Jimmy Carter and unravel all his good actions so far: Hillary. If Hillary runs in 2008, then Bill will be reduced to a sludgy attack dog and we'll spend at least another year watching his character getting savaged and all the old fights that have been lurking in the background come to the fore. Someone who was a Dem and is slowly transforming into what could be a decent historical representative of his party will be reduced to a polarizing symbol yet again. In short: it's yet another reason the Dems shouldn't want Hillary to run in 2008. Spare Bill the pain. He's trying to do good things, and he doesn't deserve this bullshit.

Judge Roberts Is No Constitutional Astronomer

Erick, an attorney who blogs at RedState.org, says conservatives shouldn't be too worried about Roberts's answer on Griswold v. Connecticut and the right to privacy:


I caught a clip of John Roberts's testimony from Day Two of the hearings and found this statement a bit interesting:
I agree with the Griswold court's conclusion that marital privacy extends to contraception and availability of that. The court, since Griswold, has grounded the privacy right discussed in that case in the liberty interest protected under the due process clause.

That is the approach that the court has taken in subsequent cases, rather than in the (inaudible) and emanations that were discussed in Justice Douglas' opinion.

And that view of the result is, I think, consistent with the subsequent development of the law which has focused on the due process clause and liberty, rather than Justice Douglas' approach.

My educated guess is that the inaudible part was the word penumbras. What is interesting about this is that, as Roberts goes on to say in so many word, he agrees with the conclusion of Griswold, but not the rationale behind Justice Douglas's opinion, which relied, in part, on emanating penumbras from the 9th Amendment.

That Roberts seems to reject that foundational bit of 9th Amendment doctrine should be refreshing to conservatives. In fact, as Roberts points out, he prefers using the "liberty interest protected under the due process clause" as opposed to those alleged rights emanating from the 9th Amendment.

Roberts does not answer the question of how expansive he sees the liberty interest, and we are left guessing. But, that he seems to have not bought into the penumbras of the ninth amendment is reassuring.

Oliphant Dismisses Conservative Gripes about Kelo

[Hat tip: Brent Baker @ Newsbusters.org, the blog of the Media Research Center]

PBS Analysts Ridicule Eminent Domain Concerns of Conservatives and Talk Radio Hosts

Posted by Brent Baker on September 15, 2005 - 12:37.

During PBS's coverage Wednesday of the Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, analysts ridiculed the concern of some conservative Senators over the Supreme Court's recent eminent domain ruling and mocked the role of naive talk radio hosts. During a break at about 4:45pm EDT, Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant was befuddled by "the vigorous nature of this opposition to a rather mundane eminent domain case from New London, Connecticut, this Kelo thing. I mean, as you know, this issue has been around for decades, especially connected with urban renewal." New York Times columnist David Brooks pointed out that "talk radio exploded on this issue, and it was a big popular issue." That prompted NewsHour reporter Ray Suarez, host of the roundtable, to take a slap at talk radio: "Well, when eminent domain was remaking the face of cities across America, there really was no talk radio, and that may be a big change in the United States." Also, in his Tuesday column, Oliphant proposed that while Roberts may know the law, "there is almost no evidence of his understanding of justice."

Heartbreaking

This WaPo article on the chaos at the NO Convention Center was gut-wrenching. It was a complete and utter breakdown of, well, everything and everyone. No post could do it justice. Just read it, and think about the picture it paints.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Don't Know How I Missed This

I rather like Mr. Sun's questions for Roberts the best. A Sample:


Is it true Nicholas Cage stole the Constitution, or did I get that all confused?

Fantasy Draft -- Peyton Manning or Randy Moss?

Do you see dead people, and by that I mean the founding fathers. I sure hope so.

Who let the (Establishment) clause out? Who? Who?

How many megapixels would the Founding Fathers recommend I get on my next digital camera?

Is there a constitutional right to privacy that protects a woman's right to choose the family car, because I am sick to death of these lame-ass minivans.

What is the funny feeling I get when someone raises the issue of dudes marrying dudes? (Rick Santorum only)

Prince Got His Wish

It looks like somebody (Senator Brownback) was listening when Prince said he would ask Judge Roberts about the Kelo decision. Roberts did not give an answer as to whether he thought it was rightly decided, but he did say it was appropriate for Congress to pass legislation limiting federal funding for projects that use eminent domain in the broad way that Kelo allows.

Coalition for Darfur: A Meaningless Pledge

Some are hailing the inclusion of language regarding a "responsibility to protect" in the draft declaration on UN reform to be discussed during the three-day summit being held in New York.

The "Responsibility to Protect" is, according to the seminal report on the topic
[T]he idea that sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe, but that when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the broader community of states.
The report, and the idea, were generated by the international community's ignominious failure to intervene in situations such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The thinking was that it was necessary to shift the debate away from a "right to intervene," which carries serious implications for the cherished idea of national sovereignty, and toward a "responsibility to protect" those people in danger.

After much debate, compromise and rewriting, the final text included in the draft declaration came out looking like this
The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapter VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case by case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to help states build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assist those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.
Nowhere has the Security Council or the UN member states actually pledged to do anything. This section carries no legal obligations; rather, it merely reiterates that the UN has a responsibility "to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity," which something hey already an obligation to prevent under the Genocide Convention.

Note also that it doesn't say that the UN has a "responsibility to protect" but rather a responsibility ... to help protect" those at risk. That is a big difference.

As such, it is a little difficult to share Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's excitement
But a Canadian-inspired initiative highlighting the world's responsibility to protect threatened people and prevent genocides is a clear move forward, Martin said.

The doctrine "essentially says that if Rwanda occurred today that the United Nations would act," he said, referring to the genocide that took an estimated 800,000 lives in the African country in the mid-1990s.
Considering that there is "another Rwanda" currently taking place in Darfur, why are we to expect that suddenly the UN is going to take seriously its "responsibility to protect"? Has the UN failed to act thus far solely because it lacked this one resolution? The UN has resisted acting on Darfur for two years and there is absolutely no reason to believe that this recognition of a theoretical "responsibility to protect" will have any impact on the legal or political concerns that have thus far prevented action.

If the UN and its members truly believed in the "responsibility to protect," they would be protecting the people of Darfur, not writing resolutions vaguely promising to act when Darfur-like situations arise in the future.

Donkey Checklist

Botched response to Hurricane Katrina, CHECK.

Gas and energy prices in the stratosphere, CHECK.

Insurgents reasserting themselves in Iraq, CHECK.

More pork in the budget than at Lunchbox's luau, CHECK.

White House poll numbers in the toilet, CHECK.

Add to that list:

Health care costs, outpacing inflation yet again, CHECK...

The GOP-controlled Senate killing a popularly-supported independent investigatory commission...

CHECK and CHECK. I think it's high time for the Donks to take a crack at this whole 'leadership' thing.

Pledge of Allegiance Ruling

Breaking News: A Ninth Circuit federal judge just ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. This on the second day of Judge Roberts's testimony. Wow, Karl Rove couldn't have planned it better himself.

The Big Scare

So John Dickerson at Slate totally copied me. I'm not that bitter, but it's an important meme that SOMEONE should pick up on and that would resonate politically in the current environment. The whole point of Republicans invoking 9/11 at the beginning of every sentence out of their mouths is that it's all about fortifying and preparing the country, and showing leadership in times of crisis, and being proactive in response to terrorist threats. Well, we've been caught with our pants down. Our vulnerabilities are out there, we didn't show leadership in the crisis, and everything from the local to the federal government was behind the curve and reactive.

And now there's news of what Iran has studiously learned from this. (Hat tip, Sullivan). This debate is one we need to have. Of course Republicans don't want to have the debate within their party or with each other because it would require criticizing the President, which the chips Tom DeLay and Karl Rove implanted in their brains won't let them do. So we're left with the increasingly pathetic and shrill Democrats, who can't climb out of a class-consciousness stupor and who, when they try to have a debate about this, will be accused political exploitation and for dissing "The Great Leader" in a time of crisis by a parade of Republican yes-men and charlatans who are too afraid of their own party to bring up the issue themselves. Notwithstanding the whole issue of 9/11 political exploitation, but alas, that's the case. But this is a debate we need to have. Our enemies have learned a valuable lesson from this, and it's a lesson that works in their favor.