Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Partisanship, Who Needs It?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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

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


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:


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 :


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.


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


."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.

The Honor Roll

The Honor Roll is a place where I plan to recognize currently serving Politicians and Government officials that I think have done well in serving our nation in one regard or another. The list will likely add and drop members as time goes on.

Being on the list doesn't mean I agree with them on every issue, in fact I oppose some of the views of these folkes passionately, but I think their presence in office has been of great benefit overall. There are sure to be a few on my list that will ruffle anyones feathers no matter what their political orientation, that tells me the list is a good one.

Honor Roll

Robert Byrd
Tom Coburn
Thad Cochran
Kent Conrad
Susan Collins
Russ Feingold
Jeff Flake
Lindsey Graham
Daniel Inouye
Walter Jones
Jon Kyl
Mary Landrieu
Joe Lieberman
Carl Levin
Richard Lugar
John McCain
Ben Nelson
Mark Pryor
Ken Salazar
Olympia Snowe
Arlen Specter
John Warner

D.H. Lawrence on Ben Franklin

From Michael P.F. van der Galien's blog comes a thought provoking
piece D.H. Lawrence on Benjamin Franklin.

"The perfectibility of man, dear God! When every man as long as he remains alive is in himself a multitude of conflicting men. Which of these do you choose to perfect, at the expense of every other?"

Just like men, institutions are multitudes of conflicting men. Do the faces which they seek to project really recognize the inner working?

Ranking the Presidents

John Silveira posted a great article in Backwoods Home Magazine back in 1998 entitled "Who were the best...and worst U.S. Presidents? " which approaches the issue from a different point of view than that of most partisan commentary.


“If you want an activist President, you’re probably a Democrat,” he said, “although you may also be a modern-day Republican. If you want a President who leaves the people alone, you’re probably an old-time Republican, a 19th century Democrat, or—and this is more likely—a modern-day Libertarian.”

"Molon labe !"

Place: Ancient Greece, the pass of Thermopylae
Time: 480 BC


An Army of Persians under Xerxes, king of Persia, seeks to subjudgate all Greece under his rule leading an army over a million strong face off against a force of just over 5,000 Greeks spearheaded by 300 Spartans under Leonidas defending their homeland. Xerxes has just asked the Greeks to give up the fight and surrender their weapons.

Leonidas responds:

Μολὼν λαβέ (Molan labe), "Come and take them!"

Place: The United Stes of America
Time: 2007 AD


Partisan politics has taken over good governance with the two major political parties squared off in an adversarial role, each trying the gather as many as possible under their banner to make political war on the other. Those both outside and inside the groups are asked by the warring elements of each to put aside their deeply held convictions and support one side or the other without reservation on all points.

The response is still the same

Μολὼν λαβέ

And thus a blog is born.