Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Political Correctness gone crazy

A hair salon owner is being sued for religious discrimination after refusing a Muslim teenager a job as a stylist because she wore a headscarf?


Story here:

Whats next a Muslim woman suing for being refused a job in a shampoo commercial?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cry Baby Limbaugh


Rush Limbaugh on his show:

"McCain sort of halfway threw me under the bus by saying "if" what Limbaugh said as reported is correct, blah, blah, blah, then it's disgusting and horrible and so forth and so on."


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The man condemend someone who would call real soldiers phonys and stated that he would have to look at the real remarks before he decided whether he thought you actually said them. Not giving you Carte blanche to be defended no matter what came out of your mouth isn't throwing you under a bus. Is it a wonder that a man with the exceptional service record of Senator McCain would jump to the defense of real soldiers who were rsking their life for their country rather than a blowhard pundit who avoided serving due to a cureable ingrown butt-hair? You should be kissing McCain's butt for fighting the war you hid from, he suffered in that POW camp while you were nice and safe and you have the nerve to say this about him when he makes a statement to defend the troops first. That is the difference between a man and a wittle boy. Grow up Rush!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Americans For Polarization


From Andrew Sullivan's site:

reader writes:

You wrote:

"[Obama] detects an enormous weariness among Americans about their internal divisions in a time of war..."
There seems to be an assumption that politicians are divided, but Americans wish to be more united. The problem is: we are the divisions. There is no "us" (citizens) and "them" (national politicians). The pols reflect our divisions.

This is not to say that Obama's gamble isn't worth taking, nor that what he is doing isn't noble. Obama is an exceptional man for all of the reasons you have articulated on your blog. But I am not convinced that Americans want to be brought together. They may not want things to be as divided as they are now, but we still are divided on many key issues. And we're divided on what we should care about: economics vs values, for instance.

Remember: It was just 3 short years ago that 61 million people voted for GWB --- well after it was evident that his presidency was a disaster.

The fact is, Hillary vs Rudy may be exactly what the electorate wants.



Sullivan concludes:

It seems to be what Bush wants.


This may well be the case, if so I can't think of a greater tradgedy for America.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove's Legecy



Andrew Sullivan is spot on:

"While he spins. The man's legacy is a conservative movement largely discredited and disunited, a president with lower consistent approval ratings than any in modern history, a generational shift to the Democrats, a resurgent al Qaeda, an endless catastrophe in Iraq, a long hard struggle in Afghanistan, a fiscal legacy that means bankrupting America within a decade, and the poisoning of American religion with politics and vice-versa. For this, he got two terms of power - which the GOP used mainly to enrich themselves, their clients and to expand government's reach and and drain on the productive sector. In the re-election, the president with a relatively strong economy, and a war in progress, managed to eke out 51 percent. Why? Because Rove preferred to divide the country and get his 51 percent, than unite it and get America's 60. In a time of grave danger and war, Rove picked party over country. Such a choice was and remains despicable.

Rove is one of the worst political strategists in recent times. He took a chance to realign the country and to unite it in a war - and threw it away in a binge of hate-filled niche campaigning, polarization and short-term expediency. His divisive politics and elevation of corrupt mediocrities to every branch of government has turned an entire generation off the conservative label. And rightly so. It will take another generation to recover from the toxins he has injected, with the president's eager approval, into the political culture and into the conservative soul."


This man was one of the Chief Architects/Archvillians of dividing our nation along partisan lines sacrificing the temendous spirit of unity following the 9-11 attacks for a politically partisan agenda. Seeing him depart is a relief and the day shuld be a national holiday.

Now if only we can remove the rest of these archvillians, David S. Addington, Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney.....

Thursday, August 9, 2007

An Unpatriotic Company


Johnson and Johnson has done the unimaginable, flied a lawsuit against the Red Cross.

Details here.

Excerpt:

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which uses a red cross as its trademark, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the American Red Cross, demanding that the charity halt the use of the red cross symbol on products it sells to the public.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, marked the breakdown of months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, and prompted an angry response from the Red Cross.

“For a multibillion dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statute ... simply so that J&J can make more money, is obscene,” said Mark Everson, the Red Cross president.



This is the organization that provides relief to Americans and folkes around the world in time of crisis and supports the efforts of our troops, and has provided care packages for our soldiers when captured by an enemy. For Johnson and Johnson to sue over the trademark is petty. I wont be buying any of their products until they issue a formal apology to the Red Cross and the American people. I call on anyone who reads this to do the same as your patriotic duty.

Until we see American soldiers getting a Johnson and Johnson care package in a war and Johnson and Johnson starts responding to natural disasters, I say to hell with their products.


Contact this unpatriotic company and let them know how you feel here.

http://www.jnj.com/contact_us/index.htm

Also I've begun contacting those that sale their products. Eckerd's, WalGreens, and CVS have been contacted so far, and I'll begin working on Grocery Store Chains as well.

UPDATE: More info about this can be found here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Greenwald lays into John Yoo





The Flip-Flopping partisanship of Yoo exposed here.

You get him Glenn.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Last Real Reporter?


Gleen Greewald interviews with Helen Thomas

Excerpt:

HT: Two weeks after he became President in the first term, President Bush dropped into our press room, and held an impromptu news conference. He went down the front row, and I was sitting in the front row, and every reporter asked about his pending tax cuts.

But when he got to me, I said: "Mr. President, why don't you respect the wall between church and state?" And he said: "I do," and I said: "No, sir, you don't. Otherwise you would not establish, for the first time in history, a religious office in the White House." And he drew back, and I said: "you're secular." So we had this dialogue.

That afternoon, I got a call from Ari Fleisher, the White House Press Secretary, saying: "What's the idea of blindsiding the President"?


I like a reporter who will blindside the President, whether I agree with a President or not, they should be accountable for all their policies at all times, not just what they want to be held accountable for and when.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Conservative wants to Impeach Cheney


From Slate we have this story.

Excerpt:

Under Dick Cheney, the office of the vice president has been transformed from a tiny acorn into an unprecedented giant oak. In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III. The most recent invention we know of is the vice president's insistence that an executive order governing the handling of classified information in the executive branch does not reach his office because he also serves as president of the Senate. In other words, the vice president is a unique legislative-executive creature standing above and beyond the Constitution. The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney's multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.


Personally an impeachment trail is not the one I really want to see Cheney brought to, I prefer a criminal one. But maybe its best if this doesn't happen while Bush still has the power to grant pardons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The VP, his attorney and Presidential Power


This article from the Washington Post, is the best summation I've seen about these issues and the Executive branch process, figured I'd share. I thought even those here who don't share my views of these acts might want to read about the processes and workings of the Executive branch.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Agree Mr. President But.....



I agree with the President that it has been drug out for political reasons, but.... that has alot to do with DOJ footdragging and a lack of cooperation by the Whitehouse in providing documentation and witnesses to testify under oath. If the Whitehouse and DOJ had been more forthcoming and cooperative this affair may have already been concluded. Yet for political reasons this cooperation and disclosure has been denied. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Harry Reid Scores!

No more dodging Senate confirmation on political appointees for the Bush administration. Read here.

I hope the practice is continued after 2008 no matter who is elected, the recess appointment process has been abused for too long.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ron Paul Supporter Fire Back

A video which expresses Ron Pauls real argument, and not the "Strawman" that Rudy Giulaini sought to errect.




I'm not for Paul's isolationism, but he brings issues forth that need to be addressed and not answered with rhetoric aimed at avoiding the issue and evoking a 9-11 talking point. Giuliani is desperate to evoke 9-11 as many times as he can to divert the audience from his policies on abortion, gun control, business connections with mafia figures, Saudi Arabia, Hugo Chavez, etc., and his total lack of foreign policy experience.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Case For GITMO

From Boston Legal,



hattip Andrew Sullivan

Michele Malkin Fearmongerer


From the New York Post Michelle Malking doing what she is know for read here.

Except:

Eight years ago, at the Clinton administration's behest, this nation welcomed refugees escaping a genocidal regime whose military spread fear and brutalized its people. Eight years later, we have a homegrown jihad plot targeting a base that symbolizes the best, the brightest and the most compassionate our military has to offer.


I invite Malkin to show a connection between these refugees and the terrorist suspects of Ft. Dix. other than the fact that they are of the same racial mix. She should show where these despicable men were admited under the government program, or how they were given these kindnesses and betrayed our trust.

There is one problem however, she can't because these are illegal aliens who were not part of that program. She tries to point the finger and say that no matter what kindnesses we do for these people they are likely to stab us in the back and ties the tens of thousands of refugees who legally arrived here due to the kindness of the American people in with terrorist. Its simply balderdash and inflamatory fear mongering propaganda from Malkin. I wonder what she would have done during World War II when people looked at her Asian ancestory and wondered if she were a sabeteur, because she sure sounds like the people who condoned the Japanese American internment camps with this piece of propaganda.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Olbermann: Giuliani and the Politics of Fear



Olberman is spot on. A shame, Rudy is probably the closest a Republican candidate will come to my views on many social issues. But National Security, a sense of democrcracy without fear mongering, decency, and integrity come first. I'm going back to McCain, hes experienced, stands strong on the terrorist issues and understands bipartisanship and what it takes to bring a divided nation together rather than throw out words that keep us apart.

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In other news Terrorism incidents are up. Read here.

I wonder how much higher Rudy thinks they would be with a Democrat as president.....

Sunday, April 29, 2007

McCain making good sense again.


Fox News interviews John McCain and its beginning to look like the Straight-talk express may be back on track. Good answers about government, McCain-Feingold, the War on Terror, and all while keeping it free of mud-slinging. I've been a McCain supporter for quite some time and its nice to see him getting back to Straight-talk and away from trying to make a statement about standing behind a failed President, even if the policies he is standing behind are appropriate we need to see the Straight-talker be more than a yes man from time to time and not allow Bush's failures to cast their shadow on him by not doing so.

Excerpts:

WALLACE: Senator, you talked about torture. Former CIA Director Tenet now says that the intelligence that they got from harsh interrogation techniques against some of these big Al Qaida types, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the intelligence they got from them using, reportedly, things like water-boarding, extreme temperatures, was more valuable than all the other CIA and FBI programs.

Were you wrong? I mean, this is the CIA, former CIA director, saying this. Were you wrong to limit what CIA interrogators could do?

J. MCCAIN: A man I admire more than anyone else, General Jack Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, battlefield commission, told me once — he said, "John, any intelligence information we might gain through the use of torture could never, ever counterbalance the image that it does — the damage that it does to our image in the world."

I agree with him. Look at the war in Algeria. Look, the fact is if you torture someone, they're going to tell you anything they think you want to know. It is an affront to everything we stand for and believe in.

It's interesting to me that every retired military officer, whether it be Colin Powell or whether it be former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — everybody who's been in war doesn't want to torture people and think that it's the wrong thing to do. And history shows that.

We cannot torture people and maintain our moral superiority in the world.

WALLACE: But when...

J. MCCAIN: And that's a fact.

WALLACE: But when George Tenet says...

J. MCCAIN: I don't care what George Tenet says. I know what's right. I know what's morally right as far as America's behavior.

WALLACE: But if I may, sir...

J. MCCAIN: Yes, sir.

WALLACE: ... when George Tenet says we saved live through some of these techniques...

J. MCCAIN: I don't accept it. I don't accept that fundamental thesis, because it's never worked throughout history.



Spot on!

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WALLACE: Governor Romney, Mitt Romney, outside the Beltway, but obviously an opponent of yours, says that you flipped — said it today, you've flipped on taxes, you've flipped on ethanol, you've flipped on Roe vs. Wade.

First of all, how do you feel about being called a flip-flopper by Mitt Romney?

J. MCCAIN: Well, look, I'm not going to respond to that. I'm simply not going to respond to it. I'm not into that now and I won't respond to it.


Class, it has been so missing from politics lately.

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J. MCCAIN: Before we get into any of those specifics, you have to know that anyone who gets out front on this issue without sitting down and negotiating with everything on the table will get nowhere.

And so I will do what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did. I will sit down with the Democrats. We will look at the options on the table. We'll call in the smartest people that we can find, and we'll reach an agreement.

If I take a position on any of those issues right now, one, it doesn't work. And second of all, it's got to be the product of bipartisan negotiations where people sit down across a table from one another.


Bipartisanship, such a lovely word, and McCain has the history ala Gang of 14 to back it up as more than rhetoric.


The complete interview is here

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?


Lee Iacocca on Leadership:


Excerpt:

Had Enough?

Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.

My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to—as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.

Who Are These Guys, Anyway?

Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them—or at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.

And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.

Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?


Follow the Link above to read much more scathing criticism from the former Chrysler CEO.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Falilure in Generalship



Photo: Failed French General Maurice Gamelin

A friend on a political discussion board posted this article by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling and I just had to post it here.

A Falilure in Generalship


Excerpt:

Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America's generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.



I'll do more commentary later as I'm still digesting much of what Yingling writes, but this piece just has that quality that screams TRUTH and is a must read.

Edit:

Added the Maurice Gamelin photo as I am reminded of him.

Gustave-Maurice Gamelin



Gamelin's failures to respond to German aggression directly led to his own country being invaded. Relying overly much on the Maginot Line, he was caught by surprise when the German invaders bypassed the line and attacked through the "impenetrable" Ardennes forest. To make matters worse, he was at best unfamiliar with modern mobile warfare. His mindset was (as with many other prominent world military leaders, of course) that of WW1. "Combat tanks are machine to accompany the infantry", he said to his officers. "In battle, tank units constitute an integral part of the infrantry.... Tanks are only supplementary means.... The progress of the infantry and its seizing of objectives are alone decisive." He was similarly unprepared to deal with the German aerial attacks. "There is no such thing as the aerial battle", he told the French air forces only even after seeing the success of the Luftwaffe in Poland, "there is only the battle on the ground."

I doubt that the US generals were so inept as Gamelin, but rather simialr to those of Gamelin's subordinates who saw past his limited vision but kept their silence with disasterous consequences. Only Rumsfeld deserves to be compared to Gamelin himself.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Buying the War


Something everyone should watch

Bill Moyers "Buying the War"

Now I think the Democratic plan for a definitive timetable is unwise, I I did and still do support the toppling of the Saddam regime in Iraq through use of US Military force. My reasoning was never based on WMDs or Al Queda ties but upon the attrocities perpetrated on the Iraqi people by Saddam and his failure to comply with UN resolutions. I do think, however, that the American people were intentionally lied to in order to crete the momentum for the war. I have no problem with the War itself, other than the gross mismanagement of it. Had General Shinseki's plan been used instead and competent leadership overseeing it I feel it would have been greatly sucessful. But I have nothing but distain for the administrations "snakeoil" approach to selling the war, and an equal distain for most of the press who bought into it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Limited Blogging for next 2 weeks

Will be otherwise occupied during most of my spare time till end of the month.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


MSNBC reports:

Spy chief wants expanded powers

McConnell signals more aggressive posture on surveillance authority

Excerpt

According to officials familiar with the draft changes to FISA, McConnell wants to:

Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States. “Determinations about whether a court order is required should be based on considerations about the target of the surveillance, rather than the particular means of communication or the location from which the surveillance is being conducted,” NSA Director Keith Alexander told the Senate last year.

Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails — such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.
Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge.

Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with Bush’s terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.

Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies.

McConnell, Alexander and a senior Justice Department official will appear at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on April 17 to discuss whether to amend the FISA law. Chad Kolton, McConnell’s spokesman, declined to comment on the director’s proposals.


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I say give him what he wants with one caveat. The laws need to be clarified and written in stone. Maybe some of these proposed changes would aid them in their work and help protect citizens.

The one caveat? Have a congressional oversight committee have the very same rights in regard to their offices and homes. If there is the least suspicion they were overstepping their rights, this group could bug their offices, break into their homes and offices and retrieve computer files etc. And use any such evidence for criminal proceedings if they were in violation of the clarified new law. Seems fair.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The 5th and The Truth


The NYT reports on Monica Goodling's resignation

Excerpt:

Democrats had hoped that Ms. Goodling would provide details about the role of Karl Rove, the chief political adviser to President Bush, in the firings of the prosecutors. After refusing to testify, she also declined a Democratic invitation to answer questions in a private interview.

“Attorney General Gonzales’s hold on the department gets more tenuous each day,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the judiciary panel, said this afternoon. He has been among the most persistent critics of Mr. Gonzales.


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Maybe it was the pressure she didn't want to deal with, maybe she was hiding something, or maybe it was the asking of whether she would also take the Fifth regarding the internal Justice Department investigation.

Remember the comment of Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington Law School:

"It's a very clever question, because if she does not invoke the Fifth [for the internal Justice Department investigation], then she obviously has a fundamental contradiction in her legal position. She would basically be saying that despite having a high-ranking position in the Justice Department, she will not cooperate with a coequal branch... Congress has oversight responsibiilty over the Justice Department, over Monica Goodling. It would be an obvious contradiction with her job description."

Maybe that's why this has never happened before. "I believe she might be the first sitting Justice Department official in history to invoke the Fifth." Normally, he said, "the price of invoking the Fifth in this context would have been to end her career in government service."



That seems the most likely to me, but it could well be either of the other two individually or in conjunction with this third reason. One thing is certain, and that is finding out her version of events will likely prove more difficult if not impossible. As long as she is on firm legal ground I can't fault her for taking the 5th, it is her undeniable right, it just doesn't help the image of the department, or the American people's trust in our justice system.

Unfortunately, if she is innocent of wrongdoing there could well be a temptation of anyone who did act improperly to blame it on her, a price I guess she is prepared to pay. They say the Truth will set you free", but in the case of politics that seems not to apply according to Goodling's lawyer, I'm not convinced.

I still think that if her testimony becomes needed, the Congress should offer her immunity and ask her to testify, she could still refuse but her motives would become even more suspect if she did.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Bush Outfoxes Congress....or Not


More partisan maneuvering *sigh*

From Mary Ann Akers at the Washington post on the President's recess appointment of Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium.

Excerpt:

To fight the Fox appointment, Democrats are questioning the Bush administration's plan to have Fox serve in a voluntary capacity -- receiving no pay for his duties as ambassador. This is an important legal technicality, as federal law prohibits "payment of services" for certain recess appointments. However, if the recess appointee in question agrees that he or she will take an unpaid position and not sue the government at a later date for compensation, then the appointment can go forward, at least as the White House sees it.

So as long as Fox -- a multi-millionaire -- agreed not to sue the Bush administration later for not paying him, the White House would be comfortable with giving him an unpaid, "voluntary service" recess appointment as ambassador to Belgium.

But here's the rub that makes Democrats view Bush's recess appointment of Fox as a major-league no-no: Federal law prohibits "voluntary service" in cases where the position in question has a fixed rate of pay, as an ambassadorship does. That's how the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the Democratic-controlled Congress, interprets the law.

In other words, according to senior Democratic Senate aides, the salary is a "statutory entitlement" and cannot be waived. While Fox would not be receiving a salary, he would still be entitled to live in government-owned housing and receive other benefits due any ambassador.

"How to reconcile this clear conflict between the pay restriction, which says that Fox cannot be paid, with the voluntary services provision, which says that the State Department cannot accept voluntary services from Fox?" queried one senior Democratic aide who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the matter.

"That is the $64,000 question," he added.


---------------------

At a time when America could use some good willed bipartisanship, the administration continues to antagnonize the Democrats, and while I respect their desire to fight back over this, I just have to wonder is it really worth the fight this time? It isn't like the Ambassador to Belgium is likely to make a huge impact in the next year an a half.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Accountabilty is Due


George W. Bush VFW Speech - August 21, 2000

“The facts are stark and the facts are real. . . Our men and women in uniform love their country more than their comfort. They have never failed us, and we must not fail them. But the best intentions and the highest morale are undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, and rapidly declining readiness.”

". . .these are signs of a military in decline and we must do something about it. The reasons are clear. Lack of equipment and material. Undermaning of units. Overdeployment. Not enough time for family. Soldiers who are on food stamps, and soldiers who are poorly housed. Dick Cheney and I have a simple message today for our men and women in uniform, their parents, their loved ones, their supporters: Help is on the way!"

"A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam. When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."

"To build morale in today’s United States military we must keep faith with those who have worn the uniform in the past. We must keep faith with America’s veterans. . . And keeping faith also means giving our veterans first-rate health care and treating the veterans with dignity. . . So chaotic is the process there is now a backlog of nearly one half-million claims. This is no way to treat any citizen, much less a veteran of our armed forces. The veterans health-care system and the claims process will be modernized, so that claims are handled in a fair and friendly way."

"In my Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs will act as an advocate for veterans seeking benefit claims, not act as an adversary. Veterans who once stood in the line of fire to protect our freedom should not have to stand in the line of a bureaucracy that is unwilling to help them in their claims."

—George W. Bush VFW Speech - August 21, 2000
----------------------

His own words, he must be held accountable


hattip Bushfailed

Monday, April 2, 2007

3 cheers for Coburn, 3 Boos for Coleman, Lott and McConnell


Robert Novak reports


GOP Switchers

GOP switchers The Senate's top two Republicans, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Trent Lott, voted against their GOP colleagues Wednesday on a motion to cut extraneous spending from the Iraq emergency appropriations bill. They did so to help Sen. Norm Coleman, who faces a tough run for re-election from Minnesota next year.

The motion by reform Sen. Tom Coburn would have eliminated $100 million to provide security for the 2008 national party conventions. With Republicans meeting in Minneapolis, Coleman (a former mayor of St. Paul) made a strong pitch to retain the money.

The Coburn amendment was supported by 37 of the 49 Republican senators. But McConnell and Lott opposed it for Coleman's sake. It lost, 51-45.

Nothing Creates Bi-Partisanship Like Corruption




The Washington Post reposts on some unusual support for Congressman Willian Jefferson.

Excerpt:



Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), former House minority leader Robert
Michel (R-Ill.) and Scott Palmer, former chief of staff for Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), are among those who have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, backing Jefferson's argument that the controversial FBI raid on his office last May was unconstitutional.

Gingrich was forced to resign over ethics issues, and Palmer got ousted over the Mark Foley cover-up, is it any wonder these guys can identify with "Dollar Bill" Jefferson? At least Michel seems to have a less suspect motivation.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes

From the Museuem of Hoaxes:

Here is an example:

.#20: 15th Annual New York City April Fool’s Day ParadeIn 2000 a news release was sent to the media stating that the 15th annual New York City April Fool's Day Parade was scheduled to begin at noon on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the release, floats in the parade would include a "Beat 'em, Bust 'em, Book 'em" float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray "themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence." A "Where's Mars?" float, reportedly built at a cost of $10 billion, would portray missed Mars missions. Finally, the "Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism" float would feature John Rocker who would be "spewing racial epithets at the crowd." CNN and the Fox affiliate WNYW sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street at noon only to discover that there was no sign of a parade, at which point the reporters realized they had been hoaxed. The prank was the handiwork of Joey Skaggs, an experienced hoaxer. Skaggs had been issuing press releases advertising the nonexistent parade every April Fool's Day since 1986.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

The South Could Sing A Different Note


MSNBC reports on the issue of whether or not the 1956 Disney film "Song of the South should be re-released.

Excerpt:


But the movie remains hidden in the Disney archives — never released on video in the United States and criticized as racist for its depiction of Southern plantation blacks. The film’s 60th anniversary passed last year without a whisper of official rerelease, which is unusual for Disney, but President and CEO Bob Iger recently said the company was reconsidering. The film’s reissue would surely spark debate, but it could also sell big. Nearly 115,000 people have signed an online petition urging Disney to make the movie available, and out-of-print international copies routinely sell online for $50 to $90, some even more than $100.


I grew up in the South and saw this film as a young child, seeing nothing wrong with it at that early age and not reconizing the signifigance of the issue involved at that time. Now, however I see how it could be taken in a negative sense, with its depictation of african-americans as happy servants and such. That being said, I see no reason to hide from history and try to pretend that it never happened, these things need to be brought out into the open to be seen and to be discussed. If "political correctness" is used to stifle discussion then the open mindedness that the PC movements wish to cultivate is swept under the rug with everything else.


What is needed is the re-release of this historic film, but it not need be released as is, this is a perfect opportunity to put it in its historic context. Imagine an opening commentary by a well respected black history specialist or a leader from the NAACP who could point out the good and questionable qualities of the film. Such an opportunity would be very informative and when placed along with the film itself provide a context that could easily be viewed. Instead of criticism of such a release, black leaders should work with Disney to capitalize on the opportunity and make the movie sing an all new tune in harmony with modern times.


But such commentary should not merely denounce any racist undertones of the film, but should also point out the films merits. The stories told for example were not the invention of slave owners, but of the slaves and former slaves themselves, and are as much a part of black history and heritage as the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and should be embraced as such, rather than being attacked as racist expressions. Yes "tar baby" can be incredibly racist and insensitive, but it is not such of its own accord, just by its usage. So when Uncle Remus tells his tales in the movie, he is not promoting racism, but instead demonstrating how intelligence can overcome a difficult problem as in the case of the briar patch as opposed to how unthinking reaction will get you deeper into trouble as in the part about of the tar baby, lessons that trancend the rascist backdrop of the era.


We must take the good and seperate it from the bad in our own minds, and use the thoughful commentary of experts to aid in this. Should we sweep everything under the rug, we lose much history and heritage and lose the chance to learn from the past, as a lesson is to be learned from both its good and bad points.

The 5th Labor


Donald C. Shields and John F. Cragan report on Political profiling and partisanship.

Excerpt:

Data* indicate that the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven (7) times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops.


The Bush administration has put a cloud of doubt over the Justice Department that will take years to dispel. Given the importance of the Rule of Law to our way of government, this greatly tarnishes our society as a whole. The only way to revive the confidence of the American people will be non-partisan investigations with full cooperation and tranparency from government officials. Anything less will do little to restore the lost faith of Americans in government anytime soon.

I am reminded of the 5th labor of Hercules,to clean the Augean stables in a single day. The amount of dirt and filth amassed in the uncleaned stables made the task surely impossible. However, Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth.

We need a Herculean effort, and shovels wont do to clean out the filth in government, we need to start diverting rivers and clean out the mess in one big rush, if we try to do it piecemeal it will only, like the stables, recreate itself.

Hypocracy


The White House is at the partisan game yet again, Think Progress repost on Republican trips to Syria that have recieved no White House criticisms.

Excerpt:

Here’s what the White House isn’t talking about:

Republican Reps. Aderholt and Wolf are currently visiting Syria. According to a congressional official on Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) staff, Aderholt and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) are currently visiting Israel and Syria.


Republican Rep. Hobson accompanying Pelosi on Syria visit. Speaker Pelosi will be traveling with a contingent of members of Congress to Syria. The delegation includes Reps. David Hobson (R-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV)


Moreover, as the AP reports, “Earlier this month, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey held talks with a senior Syrian diplomat on how Damascus was coping with a flood of Iraqi refugees, the first such talks in the Syrian capital for more than two years.”


Do they really think that they can get away with such blatant hypocracy and not be called about it? If his approval rating was 60% he might....maybe.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Daily Dish Out

Andrew Sullivan lays into David Brook's NYT column at his bolg at the Daily Dish. This is pure gold so no short excerpts this time but a full posting of Sullivan:

Fisking Brooks

It's been a while since I did a good fisking, but David Brooks' column today angered up the blood. He's a friend. I mean no personal animus. He's a good guy. But I think he is deeply, deeply wrong about what ails conservatism. David's column is in italics. (Sullivan's are in bold, my addition for easier reading) My responses aren't:

There is an argument floating around Republican circles that in order to win again, the G.O.P. has to reconnect with the truths of its Goldwater-Reagan glory days. It has to once again be the minimal-government party, the maximal-freedom party, the party of rugged individualism and states' rights. This is folly. It's the wrong diagnosis of current realities and so the wrong prescription for the future.

So far, nothing but rhetoric and cliches from David. "Rugged individualism"? Why the "rugged"? Why not just freedom to live one's life as one chooses, as opposed to the way in which David's allies in the religious and authoritarian right want to boss us around?

Back in the 1970s, when Reaganism became popular, top tax rates were in the 70s, growth was stagnant and inflation was high. Federal regulation stifled competition. Government welfare policies enabled a culture of dependency. Socialism was still a coherent creed, and many believed the capitalist world was headed toward a Swedish welfare model.

In short, in the 1970s, normal, nonideological people were right to think that their future prospects might be dimmed by a stultifying state. People were right to believe that government was undermining personal responsibility. People were right to have what Tyler Cowen, in a brilliant essay in Cato Unbound, calls the 'liberty vs. power' paradigm burned into their minds — the idea that big government means less personal liberty.


But bigger government always means less personal liberty. This is simply a fact, not an opinion. The trade-off is always there. It may be worth it in some instances - which is why I'm not a libertarian. But it is simply true that every dollar taken by the government is one dollar less for you and me to spend on what we decide is best; every freedom removed or infringed by the government is one less for you and me to enjoy. You can defend the trade-off, and should at times, but please don't pretend it isn't there.

I'm a small government Goldwater conservative, but I think compulsory high school education is worth the trade-off of freedom. I think universal healthcare insurance is an infringement of liberty, but since we have committed to providing emergency healthcare for all, it's a trade-off worth making for fiscal and moral reasons. Small government conservatives don't want to abandon government. We want it small - but strong and focused on what government really ought to do. And we have learned from experience that the bigger government is, the less effective it often is; and the more confusing and massive it is, the less accountable it is.

We currently have a government planning to go to Mars, heal broken marriages, and build bridges to nowhere - and also one that cannot wage a war competently, cannot respond to a hurricane adequately, and cannot enforce borders. Is it too much to ask that it get the basic things right before embarking on grandiose schemes to make us all feel more secure in amorphous ways? The lesson of our time is the utter incompetence and dysfunction of government at all levels. The solution to this is not to enlarge government, but to remove from it what it shouldn't be doing, and focus like a laser beam on getting it to work right on the essential tasks no private entity can do.

But today, many of those old problems have receded or been addressed. Today the big threats to people's future prospects come from complex, decentralized phenomena: Islamic extremism, failed states, global competition, global warming, nuclear proliferation, a skills-based economy, economic and social segmentation.

And more government is the answer to all this? "Complex, decentralized phenomena" require clumsy, bureaucratic big government to solve them? When did David Brooks become a closet liberal? (Answer: in the 1990s.) What we desperately need is smaller, better government: a more effective use of military and intelligence to contain and deter Islamist terror, freer trade, effective education (which is best innovated at a local not federal level), a simple, serious carbon tax to foment private sector innovation in new energy technology, and shrewder diplomacy. This isn't big government. A Reaganite government could do all these things, after tackling the middle class welfare state that is slowly strangling the capacity of government to operate solvently at all.

Normal, nonideological people ...

Please. This is a straw man. Everyone who differs from David is ideological and abnormal?

... are less concerned about the threat to their freedom from an overweening state than from the threats posed by these amorphous yet pervasive phenomena. The 'liberty vs. power' paradigm is less germane. It's been replaced in the public consciousness with a 'security leads to freedom' paradigm. People with a secure base are more free to take risks and explore the possibilities of their world.

I'm sorry, but the security-before-freedom is and has always been central to small government conservatism, not the Christianist-dominated welfare state Bush has created and Brooks helped defend. None of us who believe in maximal freedom and minimum government believe the government should not be dedicated to security. In fact, it's the over-extension of government that has helped take its focus off security. I'd love to end farm subsidies, pork, the mortgage deduction, and to means-test social security - and spend the money saved on securing our ports and borders, rebuilding hollowed out necessities like FEMA, increasing the size of the military, and providing universal health coverage through the private sector. And all of that is compatible with small government conservatism.

People with secure health care can switch jobs more easily. People who feel free from terror can live their lives more loosely. People who come from stable homes and pass through engaged schools are free to choose from a wider range of opportunities.

But government has no business and no competence in creating "stable homes". That's the role of families, churches, local leaders, relatives, synagogues, mosques and all the institutions of civil society that David seems to want to be replaced or guided by government. Brooks "national greatness" isn't conservatism; and it never was. It's statism, overlayed with religious sanctimony and imperial ambitions.

The 'security leads to freedom' paradigm is a fundamental principle of child psychology, but conservative think tankers and activists have been slow to recognize the change in their historical circumstance. All their intellectual training has been oriented by the 'liberty vs. power' paradigm. (Postwar planning in Iraq was so poor because many in the G.O.P. were not really alive to the truth that security is a precondition for freedom.)

Well yes on the latter. But providing basic law and order is not what we are discussing in America. I might add I find it amazing that in an era when habeas corpus has been suspended for many, when the government is wire-tapping phones without a warrant, when U.S. citizens are "disappeared" without charges for several years, and when torture has been introduced as a legal government tool, David is actually charging that the problem with the liberty vs power paradigm is that it is outdated?? It has never been more relevant. It is Brooks who is stuck in the past - some time in the late 1990s when the intellectual experiment that created the Bush administration was in its infancy. The authors of that experiment should, to my mind, be leery of venturing out in public, not defending "no U-turns" in Bush conservatism.

The general public, which is less invested in abstract principles, has been quicker to grope its way toward the new mental framework. As a Pew poll released last week indicated, the public has not lost its suspicion of big government. Most Americans believe government regulation does more harm than good. But they do think government should be more active in redressing segmentation and inequality. Almost all corporations, including Wal-Mart, have extraordinarily high approval ratings. But voters are clearly anxious about globalization.

The Republican Party, which still talks as if government were the biggest threat to choice, has lost touch with independent voters. Offered a choice between stale Democrats and stale Republicans, voters now choose Democrats, who at least talk about economic and domestic security.


Hmmm. I wonder why many Independents have become turned off by the GOP? Could it be that David's project of bringing in a cohort of religious zealots has tarred the GOP as a bunch of intolerant, bossy bigots? Could it be that the massive spending, debt and entitlement splurge has alienated fiscal conservatives in the Perot mode? Nah. It's the libertarians fault, isn't it? In my view, the obvious reason voters now pick Democrats is the astonishingly awful legacy - foreign and domestic - of Republican power under the aegis of Brooks's philosophy. If you have to choose between two big government parties, dedicated to taking care of everyone, why not pick the brand that knows how to do it and actually believes in it? And the one that isn't patently mean-spirited toward gays, immigrants, and non-evangelicals?

The Bush Republicans, following David's advice, have exploded spending, loaded massive debt onto the next generation, taken pork to record levels, and passed a biggest new entitlement since the Great Society. They've increased spending faster than anyone since FDR. Meanwhile their actual effective governance has been a shambles. Of course voters prefer Democrats when they have to pick between fundamentalist, insolvent, incompetent big government and secular, solvent big government. I sure would.

The Democrats have a 15 point advantage in voter identification. Voters prefer Democratic economic policies by 14 points, Democratic tax policies by 15 points, Democratic health care policies by 24 points and Democratic energy policies by 20 points. If this is a country that wants to return to Barry Goldwater, it is showing it by supporting the policies of Dick Durbin.

No, they're simply registering that the Brooks experiment in turning the GOP into a religious, statist party for cronies and incompetents has been a disaster for Republicanism and a catastrophe for conservatism. Given no true conservative alternative, voters have gone back to the Dems. Brooks was an intellectual architect of both visions - massive intervention abroad, and warmed-over socialism at home. No wonder the conservative coalition has fallen apart, and people are now backing Democrats.

The sad thing is that President Bush sensed this shift in public consciousness back in 1999. Compassionate conservatism was an attempt to move beyond the 'liberty vs. power' paradigm. But because it was never fleshed out and because the Congressional G.O.P. rejected the implant, a new Republican governing philosophy did not emerge.

The classic dodge: national greatness conservatism - big spending at home, big wars abroad - wasn't tried and therefore didn't fail. Please. It was tried, David, with bells on, and it has failed so spectacularly you need glasses with neocon thickness not to see it. In fact, its manifest failure may consign conservatism to the political wilderness for a generation - and has deeply increased the security dangers America now faces.

The party is going to have to make another run at it. As it does, it will have to shift mentalities. The 'security leads to freedom' paradigm doesn't end debate between left and right, it just engages on different ground. It is oriented less toward negative liberty (How can I get the government off my back?) and more toward positive liberty (Can I choose how to lead my life?).

Goldwater and Reagan were important leaders, but they're not models for the future.


And Bush and Cheney are? I know who I'd pick. Until the GOP thoroughly purges itself of the impulses of the Bush era - impulses enabled and supported by Brooks - they're finished. And they deserve to be.

---------------------------
Andrew, you can be one of my 300 Spartans anyday, you've definately got the warrior spirit and a distain for partisanship. A well done frisking of a well deserving piece. I share your view of Conservatism and mourn for the direction that my party has taken since the days of Goldwater and Reagan.

Should Churches Be Taxed?


While looking into this issue a bit I can across an interesting idea at Blogcritics Magazine on the subject from back in 2004:

Excerpt:

I believe that the tax-exempt status of a religious institution should be proportional to its nondenominational charitable activities.

For example, a church that spends money on fancy cars for its preacher should be taxed on those expenses. A church that runs a soup kitchen but requires its beneficiaries to pray for their supper should have to pay tax on the portion of its income used to run that soup kitchen. A church that owns its building and uses the facility for both worship services and charitable deeds should be taxed according to a formula, the same way a person can deduct home office expenses from his income taxes. Better financial minds than mine could come up with the formula.

I like this idea as it does not punish purely non-profit activities, but requires that the profitable ones take up their fair share of the tax burden that the rest of us share. Like the writer I don't profess to be a great financial mind, but I don't think I'd be taxing any soup kitichens just because they charged money. After all they could charge money in these cases and still not be making any profits, and in many cases actually losing money. I would have no problem, however, in taxing them on profits made on such activities after a certain profit margin was reached.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The New International Face Of America



Michael Young at Reason Magazine profiles of next United Nations Ambassador.

Excerpt:

Describing Khalilzad as a "neoconservative" may be simplistic. In an interview published on Monday to mark Khalilzad's departure from Iraq, the New York Times used the term unhesitatingly. But then one remembers what Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, had to say about the man with whom he worked closely in supporting the Afghan mujahideen between 1979 and 1980: "He is a broad-minded pragmatist and an insightful strategist."

Personally I think he will do a good job. He has a demonstrated record of accomplishment in Afganistan and Iraq under the toughest of conditions. I'm no fan of Neoconservatism, and I don't think Khalilzad really fits into the mold as precisely as some would like to suggest, since he seemed to put reality above idealology in his middle east assignments. Perhaps he is a Neocon mugged by reality. His quiet backroom arm-twisting is what as needed rather than Bolton's abbrassive in your face style. We definately need a bit more arm twisting in that organization given recent developements

The Greatest Show On Earth? No, But I'll Take It.


Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and Dahlia Lithwick of Slate magazine have upgraded the chances of Attorney general Alberto Gonzales losing his job.

You can read about it here:

Gonzo-MeterAlberto Gonzales, like cheese, stands alone.

Excerpt:

So, it looks like Bob Novak was right when he said that Gonzales stands alone. Oh wait, maybe Bush is still standing behind him—but that doesn't help him all that much, because it seems the president stands alone, too. So there you have it. Two lonely guys and a flushing sound.

You know its bad when the National Review Online tells a Republican appointee that it is Time To Go
Excerpt:

What little credibility Gonzales had is gone. All that now keeps him in office, save the friendship of the president, is the conviction of many Republicans that removing him would embolden the Democrats. It is an overblown fear. The Democrats will pursue scandals, real or invented, whether or not Gonzales stays. But they have an especially inviting target in Gonzales. He cannot defend the administration and its policies even when they deserve defense. Alberto Gonzales should resign. The Justice Department needs a fresh start.

It will be interesting to see what course this scandal runs, and there seems to be question about if it will run or not. Partick Leahy pretty much assured us of that with his announcement yesterday.
"In case anybody's thinking of shortchanging it that way, I have a message for them: We'll finish this investigation before we'll have any confirmation hearings for a new attorney general,"
With the FBI scandal, the GSA slideshow affair, and this scandal going, looks like Congress is running a three ring circus, We will just have to wait and see how talented the animal trainers are, and how many end up getting out of the clown car. I'd really enjoy seeing the administration have to jump through some oversite hoops for a change. Personally I think we may be in for a good performance.

When the Circus comes to town usually there is an elephant walk to start off and draw more viewers, this time is not an exception. I've got my Craker Jack ready and am ready to applaud.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Ugly Face of Partisanship

Disgraceful



The place where I first saw this story,TPM Muckraker has more

Political Extremism According to Richard Jeni

Richard Jeni passed away on March 10th, he will be missed, but he still gives us laughs.

He spares neither the left, the right, or the center. I like it!

Neoconservative Honesty


A reader of Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish writes:

Excerpt:

However, the biggest single mistake neoconservatives made was that we placed our faith in the abilities of what has turned out to be a singularly incompetent administration. In the mission's basic planning, forecasting, and execution, this administration has almost uniformly made the wrong choices for Iraq's stabilization and progress. What the leftist and media critics get wrong about Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush is that they screwed up by going in halfhearted and without demanding real sacrifice upfront from the American people. Rumsfeld sacked the Chairman of the JCS for speaking honestly and saying correctly that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops over several years to truly "win" Iraq. That should have been a red flag to us all. But conservatives and a lot of moderates rallied around Bush and Co. because of the unfair attacks from the left and the media, whose objectivity was never in evidence, and in doing so we ratified and enabled every bad decision Bush and Co. made in Iraq.

This is nearly identical to what I feel about the situation, and Sullivan says the same. I disagree with the writer on one point, that of an unfair attacks by the left and the media coverage. The coverage was generally supportive of the administration initially, and shifted over time as blunder after blunder was made. If I have one criticism for the press, it was that they were too supportive early on and that a bit more critical reporting post 9-11, pre invasion might have better served the public. The press is biased of course whether your talking CBS or Fox, but there is nothing unfair about them being critical, that is the job of the "watchdog" of government.

But we are in in now, and we need to fix the mess we created, so I'm against a pullout before the job is complete. I don't excuse the administration for getting us into a bad situation, but I don't think the Democrats have the right plan either. I think what we need is not the Democratic solution or the administration (Republican) solution, but something in between, involving no timeline but a set of performance standards that are linked to funding. in all areas except those which relate to protection and care for our soldiers.

The movie 300, the PG version

I know its a bit silly, but it fits the theme.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Road Less Traveled




The NYT reports on the failure of the Senate GOP to have a time line for withdraw attached the the war funding bill

Senate Backs a Pullout Date in Iraq War Bill

A few observations:

The votes of Chuck Hagel and Gordon Smith crossing over to the Democratic Party side more than mitigated the departure of Joe Lieberman's crossing to the right side of the aisle. After the election in 2006 many saw Lieberman as being in the driver's seat and playing the role of Kingmaker for legislation. This it turns out is not really the case. His vote on many issues still may well be the pivotal one, but he doesn't occupy that seat alone sharing it for the moment with the two aforementioned GOP senators and Democrat Ben Nelson who had voted against the withdrawal just two weeks ago.

It will be interesting to see if Chuck Hagel is afforded the same warmth from the left that Lieberman has received from the right. Conservatives will surely pile on their criticisms of Hagel, just as Liberals had demonized Lieberman prior to the 2006 election for his stance on the War in Iraq. Additionally it will be interesting to see if right-wing supporters will propose giving Hagel whatever he wants like they claimed the left would have to do for Lieberman's vote.

Finally, will there be a recognition that there is a viable center position that desires a compromise and doesn't see the issue in black and white that most have tried to portray it as and has led to this legislation. If the administration had put in place a little more performance standards for continued funding of some projects, had been less resistant to oversight, or had been a little more up front about the situation from the beginning perhaps that may have been recognized, but now that it has come down to such bitter confrontation will any be able to look past and see the middle course and realize that it is not always a medicine that is reluctantly taken, but the better cure.

The President will most certainly veto any time line bill that reaches his desk, the response of Congress to this will be a lot of finger pointing and accusations, but after that it is uncertain what will occur. Will the White house be willing to compromise to the middle ground, reaching out to the opposition and offering some concessions? Will the Congress offer to remove the time line in exchange for some other concession? I doubt it, but there is always hope.

Robert Frost wrote of the road less traveled:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference
The two roads that lie before us are not that of "Stay the Course" and "Cut and Run" they are the roads of "Partisanship" and "Cooperation", and should the one less traveled by be taken, it may well make all the difference.

Partisanship starts with "P", so does "Pork"

Partisan politics and Pork spending are all tied up together, both based around the need to get elected. Here is a Prime example of a pork laden bill courtesy of Liz Mair at GOP Progress

Liz writes:

What the hell all of this is doing in a defense bill, I have no idea:

$24 million for funding for sugar beets.
$3 million for funding for sugar cane (goes to one Hawaiian co-op).
$20 million for insect infestation damage reimbursements in Nevada, Idaho, and Utah.
$2.1 billion for crop production losses
$1.5 billion for livestock production losses.
$100 million for Dairy Production Losses.
$13 million for Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Program.
$32 million for Livestock Indemnity Program.
$40 million for the Tree Assistance Program.
$100 million for Small Agricultural Dependent Businesses.
$6 million for North Dakota flooded crop land.
$35 million for emergency conservation program.
$50 million for the emergency watershed program.
$115 million for the conservation security program.
$18 million for drought assistance in upper Great Plains/South West.
Provision that extends the availability by a year $3.5 million in funding for guided tours of the Capitol. Also a provision allows transfer of funds from holiday ornament sales in the Senate gift shop.
$165.9 million for fisheries disaster relief, funded through NOAA (including $60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath Basin region).
$12 million for forest service money (requested by the president in the non-emergency FY2008 budget).
$425 million for education grants for rural areas (Secure Rural Schools program).
$640 million for LIHEAP.
$25 million for asbestos abatement at the Capitol Power Plant.
$388.9 million for funding for backlog of old Department of Transportation projects.
$22.8 million for geothermal research and development.
$500 million for wildland fire management.
$13 million for mine safety technology research.
$31 million for one month extension of Milk Income Loss Contract program (MILC)
$50 million for fisheries disaster mitigation fund.
$100 million for security at the Presidential Candidate Nominating Conventions
$2 million for the University of Vermont

Thanks, Democrats...
Liz is right, none of this belongs in a defense bill, the practice of loading bills full of unrelated items to garner support is probably one of the greatest contributors towards partisanship and bad government. Even provisions of bills that wouldn't stand a chance of being passed by themselves suddenly manage to make it through the process and often the Congress has little idea what they are actually voting into law as the smaller items get easily lost in the monsterous mass of documents that such bills end up becoming.

But the blame doesn't go solely to the Democrats, Republicans have been practicing pork for a long time as well. It is just fashionable to hypocritically attack the opposition and hope that the public's memory can't go back a few mere months.




Conservative Land of the Lost

From Neil Boortz :

WHY PEOPLE THINK CONSERVATIVES ARE IDIOTS

Sorry .. it's true. Liberals love to paint conservatives as being ignorant, stupid, obtuse, mindless, irrational and, on occasion, retarded. For the most part leftists use this "stupid" tactic in order to avoid actually having to intellectually engage with someone who thinks differently than they. After all ... you really don't have to consider the opinions offered by someone who disagrees with you if you can successfully and falsely brand them as ignorant.

Sadly ... many conservatives seem to have dedicated their lives to lending credence to the left's "conservatives are idiots" claim. You will remember several weeks ago I told you about one Georgia Republican (former Democrat) legislator whose campaign chairman sent out some memos and letters promoting legislation to outlaw the teaching of evolution in government schools. The letter referred the reader to the website of "The Fair Education Foundation, Inc." In this website --- and I'm not kidding you here --- you will learn that the Earth stands still in space ... not even rotating ... while the Sun and everything in the universe rotates around the earth every 24 hours. Think I'm kidding? Check it our for yourself.


Well .. there's more. Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells us about another website, this one run by Andrew Schlafly, the son of Phyllis Schlafly. Conservapedia pushes the creationism theme with revelations that dinosaurs and humans roamed the Earth at the same time. You'll also learn that atheism has led to a large increase in bestiality. But once again you'll learn that not only is the Earth standing still, but it's actually flat ... and sitting still in space while everything revolves around it.

Tell me .. how do you counter the "conservatives are ignorant" argument, and how do you manage to recruit more people to the cause of lower taxes, less government and more individual responsibility when you have people running around loose calling themselves conservatives, getting elected to office as conservatives, and running websites as conservatives all the while telling us that the earth does not spin on its axis and does not revolve around the Sun .. and that everything in the known universe revolves around the Earth?

If true conservatives really want to expand their philosophy and mount a sustained movement that just might save individualism, freedom and economic liberty --- they had better jettison these zealot nut-cases .... and FAST.

This all sure makes me glad to be a Libertarian.

Neil is correct, both Liberals and Conservatives love to paint their political opponents in simplistic terms that don't come close to being applicable, but its also the duty of these groups to jettison the members of their group who do fit the description. Maybe with the most extreme of the "moonbats" and "wingnuts" gone from the discussion, a true discourse focusing on open debate and atmosphere of mutual respect and a commitment to get things done can start to become a reality.

There are few Ideas in Idealogues


The L.A. Times reports on Republicans and global warming, and how the GOP seeks to stifle the debate.

Excerpt:

Meanwhile, Republicans who do believe in global warming get shunted aside. Nicole Gaudiano of Gannett News Service recently reported that Rep. Wayne Gilchrest asked to be on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio refused to allow it unless Gilchrest would say that humans have not contributed to global warming. The Maryland Republican refused and was denied a seat.

Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), both research scientists, also were denied seats on the committee. Normally, relevant expertise would be considered an advantage. In this case, it was a disqualification; if the GOP allowed Republican researchers who accept the scientific consensus to sit on a global warming panel, it would kill the party's strategy of making global warming seem to be the pet obsession of Democrats and Hollywood lefties.


There you have it, expertise and dissent are pushed aside for ideologues without credentials, and for partisan politics and pandering. The debate on global warming is far from decided, but do we really serve anyones interest by supressing a candid debate.

This also reminds me about the Nancy Pelosi treatment of Jane Harmon regarding the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, where partisanship trumped expertise in a vital area.

Then again supression of ideas is what the partisan politics of the far-left and far-right are all about, why should we be surprised?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Stonewalling


Excerpt:
."I have decided to follow my lawyer's advice and respectfully invoke my constitutional right," Monica Goodling, Gonzales' counsel and White House liaison, said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Looks like someone in the Bush administration has at long last recognized Constitutional Rights.

The Dirty Dozen

I put up a Roll of Honor earlier to recognize good service, so I figured I'd put up a Dishonor Roll to be its companion. The Roll of Dishonor will focus on those currently serving politicians and officials who really need to go. Since there are so many I decided to only include the top 12. The President and Vice President are exculded from consideration as they were elected by the entire nation.

Roll of Dishonor.

David S. Addington
Kathleen Blanco
Alberto Gonzales
Alcee Hastings
James Inhofe
William Jefferson
Jerry Lewis
Alan Mollohan
Hal Rogers
James Sensenbrenner
Bill Young
Don Young

If you don't know why you should want these people out of office, I wont bother to explain. Just do your own research and come to your own conclusions. You might not agree with all of them, but chances are you will agree with most and want to see at least a couple in jail.

Just say No to the Nanny State

The Candy Counter: Georgia Set to Ban Sales of Marijuana-Flavored Lollipops to Kids

Seems incredibly silly to me to outlaw a flavor. The candy does not actually contain any harmful ingredients, so treating it the same as substances that do actually contain items deamed harmful is not a good policy. It should be treated like root beer, another harmless product that simulates drug usage. Don't believe me? just look at all the advertising and the imagery involving foamy mugs of root beer as opposed to glasses of it. No great harm has ever come of this marketing of root beer. Next thing you know a nanny state will seek to ban root beer and toy guns saying that they lead to alcoholism and violent shootings. Barbie will be forced to get breast reduction due to parents being pressured by their teenage daughter that they want breast enhancement surgery. The list could go on and on.

The issue is similar to the complaints about the use of cartoon characters to market to kids. Do kids generally purchase the breakfast cereals on their tables, or the snacks in their lunchboxes? No parents do. The problem isn't with companies advertizing to kids, it with parents who cave into the kids throwing temper tantrums if they can't get the product they want. If parents would actually begin to take responsibility, and take the time to instruct their children about why they do things, lay down the law on who makes the descisions, and discipline the children for improper behavior when they throw tantrums, then and only then will we come anywhere near being able to make a serious impact on these issues.

I don't need the government to protect me from advertising, I'm quite capable of making up my own mind about what I see. Parents should instruct their own kids in morals and good judgement and not rely on the government to do so. They should also be more involved in the lives of their kids and take the time to understand the environment that the kids live in as well as getting together with other parents to collectively address issues in their communities pertaining to the children. There are all sorts of civic and religious groups that can be mobilized for protests and boycotts. If mommy and daddy are too preoccupied with their own lives to do so, they should have thought about that before making babies.

So if your kid buys a pot lollypop and you don't like it, look in the mirror first.