Sometimes, you win, sometimes, you lose, sometimes, it rains...
Some notes on my underused blog about the elections...
Republican clouds have silver linings.
- It is the opinion of this writer that the nation is best served when we have effective Republican stewardship in the House and Senate. I'm not sure we've had that lately. Having the House and Senate in play makes BOTH parties better. If each party cannot take power for granted, this is a huge improvement over them simply swapping uncontested control of patronage and the purse every decade. Each party needs to govern like their survival depends on it.
- Much success for Democrats came from recruiting quality, middle of the road candidates. Many pro-gun, pro-life, low-tax Democrats won. Which is good. America needs a vibrant and viable Democrat party. Having moderates succeed helps pull the Democrats back to the middle, it empowers existing moderates in the party, and makes it harder for Republicans to merely run someone just barely better than a fringe nutcase.
- The Democrats now have a stake in success. I'm sure many have felt that Iraq and the War on Terror have been a bludgeon to beat them over the head with, since they have no voice in the policy on either. Now that they hold sway, thought barely in the Senate, it means they will have a vested interest in American success. I think this will allow many Democrats to "come home" on vital foreign policy issues.
- It looks like Wilson has hung on in New Mexico. Which is fantastic, because I've never seen a less competent person running for Congress than Madrid looked in her debate. Simply incompetent. It was closer than it should have been, and those voting for her really need to ask if it's worth putting a nitwit in office simply because they have your same party affiliation.
- George Bush matters again. This is contrary to initial wisdom, which is often not very wise. But Bush with Republicans in Congress had simply become a target for Democrats, with no real ability to do anything except take an egg to the face. Hard to believe, but Bush got a big donut hole after 2004. His energy went into Social Security reform which his own Congress simply ignored. His ability to move his agenda was dead. Now, Democrats have an operating majority but can't move anything without Bush's approval.
Bush is back in the game.
UPDATE: Not the only one looking at the cloudlining today...
Mel says - them Jews killed Jesus, ya know...
Do we even have to link to the stories about Mel Gibson's drunken Jew-bashing? We don't like talking about it, but it is worth noting, for one reason.
And that is... alot of folks went out on the line - many of them Jewish - defending his movie, The Passion Of The Christ, against charges that it was anti-Semitic. Michael Medved in particular came out to defend Gibson.
Well, what a nice little stunt to pull when others have defended you from charges of being anti-Semitic - get slobbering drunk and rant incoherently about those pesky Jews.
Of course, Mel probably doesn't care, despite his statement expressing his regret at his frothing Jew-baiting drunken tirade. After all, Medved is just a Jew...
Harry Reid receiving lesson others haven't learned from...
Harry Reid, formerly beneath-the-radar Senator from Nevada, has taken a hit at home from his new high-profile in the Democratic leadership. His favorability dropped from 53 to 43, while his unfavorable rating shot up from 25 to 39. The number of respondents who see him unfavorable has ballooned over 50% since the last poll.
Here's what we said about the appointment of Reid back in February '05:
Listening to Democrats bemoan that they "should have done more" to protect Daschle is a riot. Done what? Issue a strongly worded memo? The fact is the Democrat Party has one role in government now - obstructionist - and they have now chosen TWO successive leaders who hail from states that George W. Bush carried in the last election. The political price to pay is obvious, ask freshly unemployed Tom Daschle, and Democrats should have known better than to pick another languid Senator from a Republican state. The party leader can't be vulnerable at home for executing the only strategem you have available.
We stand by this words, as fresh today as back then. Perhaps nobody wanted the post, and Reid figured his career was winding down anyways, he'd just won re-election, so why not take a shot at a high profile and walk that leadership plank. Perhaps his fellow Democrat Senators were happy to push him out on it. Whatever the reason, he's walking the same plank Tom Daschle did, and there's the same sudden drop at the end of it.
You cannot choose as a partisan leader to lead you nationally a person who will be vulnerable locally. Your leader must be free to speak to your parties national agenda, and that cannot run roughshod over their consituents agenda. Nevada is not as Republican as South Dakota, but it is a red state, and you can't carry your parties banner without coming home with ink on your hands.
That ink better match your states color on the map, or you are tempting fate with a career in the Speakers Bureau with a "former" next to your elected title...
(Hat tip: Polipundit)
Another bit of brilliance pilfered on the Internet...
I love being the leading wave - even if we're a mere drop of it. You may recall the takeoff we posted of "Everyone Knows It's Cindy" based on the Association song of a similar name, and how later Rush Limbaugh started playing a song of the same name - of course, we claim no fame as source to such, just a little pride at being ahead of that curve. But look - it's happened again...
Having posted a similarly themed piece mere days ago with the exact same title, we once again will carry a small parcel of satisfaction at being on that leading edge once more. As global warming goalposts are moved to the field of global climate change, expect this issue to keep heating up. Heh, get it, heating up? How piquant!
This new piece expands on how alarmist hysteria doesn't help the debate - which we concur with wholeheartedly. What we know about climate change must be seen in the same context of what we don't know about it - the climate is a massively complex system that we are just beginning to try to comprehend. Honest debate that respects reason and holds conjecture at arms length will be key to making wise decisions regarding environmental policy. Alarmists in a panic will not serve the issue well...
As if on cue, another cold front blows in on Global Warming...
A sudden outbreak of common sense finds another article on the web about global cooling, warming, changing - let's cut to the quick:
The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming.
Ahem. Global warming certainly creates problems, but it also comes with unusual benefits - extended growing seasons, increasing the amount of arable land, the amount of liquid water available as rainfall and usable runoff. But global cooling does not. Global cooling shortens the growing season, reduces the amount of arable land, affects the kinds of crops that can be grown due to intolerance of frost and temperature dips, and locks fresh water out of the ecosystem as ice. Indeed, global cooling will have a far greater negative impact on humanity that global warming.
Enjoy the beach now...
An ill wind blows... much of it hot air...
Each day brings new challenges, new opportunities, and any more, new proof of man's destruction of the fragile planet we reside on. Case in point - it now appears our air may be getting too clean for our own good. But what should be apparent is that the hysterical claims of environmentalist activists have muddied the waters and the debate to a point where everything is in a haze.
For a while, there was a tendency to construct evidence to argue for a linear trend - there was a direction, a symptom, and a fate awaiting us. Early on, scientists warmed us of the dramatic global cooling the earth was about to experience. Certain, they were, of this trend, verifiable, and surely with anthropic causes - we were driving too many unclean cars, using too much deodorant, being a general nuisance to Mother Nature. Claims were made of impending glacialization and a new Ice Age. Reaching a fever in the late 60's and the 70's, we were sure to be wearing parkas in the Panhandles soon. Except - they were wrong. Temperatures stopped falling, and started rising.
Which, of course, brought us to global warming. Now that temperatures were rising, discounting global cooling, they provided a new pony to ride, global warming. Oddly, the same factors responsible for our impending frostbound gloom were now the same factors responsible for global warming - cars, Secret anti-perspirant, secret anti-Earth pollutant clans.
Except the data still doesn't always match up. Record highs here, record lows, drought, abundant rainfall, spring-like winters, snow in April... and new concepts like global dimming threaten to overturn the entire agenda.
The solution? Simple. Now, you hear not claims of global cooling, or global warming, but merely climate change. The benefit to those promoting this concept is - any deviation is proof, all changes from expectation can be couched as proof under one overarching, overbroad term. Too warm today? Climate change. Too cold? Climate change. Snow melting? Climate change. Too much snow? Climate change. Hurricanes? Climate change. Drought? Climate change. Why move the goalposts yourself when with a fuzzy concept, Mother Nature does it for you?
Every day, somebody seems to experience a record high temperature - or a record low. This might seem remarkable. Except... there are 365 chances at a record every year, and as most places haven't been taking the temperature reliably for more than 100 years, you should EXPECT, just from the tiny sample size over the predictive range, to get at least a handful of records every year. And let's remember what this record is - the most extreme temperature humans have recorded during a one hundred year period, on a planet with a climate history of a billion years. Do you REALLY think yesterday was the hottest this spot on the planet has ever seen? Or just that YOU'VE seen?
Global climate change as a legitimate serious subject strikes me as much a mythological pursuit as any moonbarking done by the earliest homo sapiens - an attempt to comprehend in limited, anthropic-bound terms an almost unlimited, infinitely complex system. While we grapple with how much heat load is carried by my Speed Stick, the enormous rock we inhabit is tilting, moving, changing it's orbit ever so slightly, influencing the amount of solar energy the planet receives from that giant, glowing ball in the sky, the one thing that really influences just how warm it is in Fairview.
I'm not sure why we are so fascinated by our own observations - as if changes in the earth's climate are both unique to us and our time, and furthermore only due to our presence.
Let's also be clear that human activity certainly influenes our immediate environmental surroundings - simple logic dictates accepting this fact. The city of Phoenix is a heat island that remains over 100 degrees well into the night - midnight. Looking across Los Angeles is like staring into a bowl of pudding. Lakes dry up from river diversion or overuse. Yet on a global scale, these are the tiniest of occurances. When discussing something as large as changing the temperature of the entire planet, we rarely entertain the notion that we aren't driving it, instead just along for the ride.
Look at the long view - say, here. Most people looking at that graph can see the trend. Is it just possible that we are not the masters of our demesne, rather that the demesne retains mastery over us?
Being a proponent of a clean environment is it's own merit - cleanliness does not need the threat of hazardous waste to be a virtue. More efficient automobiles, with cleaner engines, make sense without the threat of Hell on Earth. Efficiency always makes more sense than inefficiency. Being a steward of the environment doesn't require scaring the Hell out of everyone.
"Hey what's a four letter word for snatch? Grab. Oh right...right. Whoopsie!" - Stuck On You
The advent of Thanksgiving can mean only one thing: the Christmas shopping experience has begun. And Thanksgiving Day football can mean only one thing: the advent of the Christmas sale commercial.
Now I decided to watch these commercials with a critical eye - will anyone have the brass tacks to actually mention the reason behind the season? The answer, largely, and sadly, is no.
There are cars with ribbons on them. A big red one on a Lexus. Why? PLEASE, tell me why you are giving someone a car with a ribbon?
The euphemisms thrown out now are just vague PC chicanery.
Special time of year, the season for giving, holiday sale, this holiday season, blah blah blah. Every commercial wants you to buy something for an unspoken reason, or wish you a good time on your unnamed celebratory day.
Radio Shack actually had the nerve to have a kid mention wanting something for Christmas - bonus point given!
Do Botswanans get upset when they see a St. Patricks Day Parade? Or are single people victimized by St. Valentine's Day? Are the childless stricken down in the street on Mother's Day? Then good grief, our Jewish brothers and sisters won't pass out if they hear a good old fashioned "Come drop loads of dough on an overpriced diamond for your wife for Christmas!"
Christmas isn't a national holiday anymore, it's a financial quarter...
UPDATE: This is what Christmas is now about...
And MORE! Hark, the herald angels sing...
Everytime you push a shopper to the floor to get to one of the last X-Box 360's at Wal-Mart's "Super Holiday" sale, you make Baby Jesus cry...
So Jimmy, what do you want for winter solstice?
In a relevatory public service announcement, Bill O'Reilly recently did research (let's be honest - the staff did the research) on stores that will not be using the words "Merry Christmas" in their upcoming advertising. Which would, I reckon, not be a problem, were these stores not marketing items for Christmas gifts.
Christmas is now the holiday that dare not speak it's name.
Yes, apparently, the malls will be filled with Holiday shoppers looking for Holiday gifts during these stores Holiday sales.
Let's get this straight - these stores will be selling everything from Christmas trees to Christmas ornaments to the Christmas gifts to be nestled underneath said Tannenbaum without actually mentioning Christmas. In fact, it's likely the only holiday sale where they don't actually name the holiday, instead giving us this euphemism of "happy holidays", which they don't trot out any other holiday of the year...
I plan to attend a Holiday sale at one of these stores. I wonder if the exchange might go something like this...
Can I help you sir?
Yes, thanks, alot of people here huh?
Yes, well it IS the holidays, and we're having our Holiday Sale.
Yes, I see, I need some colored dye.
Yes, for eggs.
Dye to color eggs?
Yeah, you guys are having a holiday sale, right?
Yes, but we only carry that around Easte-
Okay, forget the dye - I need a costume.
Ah, yes, a Santa Cl-
A Pokemon costume. Or a witch. Or Donald Trump.
I'm sorry, we only have those around Hallow-
Okay, nevermind, I need some small flags.
Yeah, flags, red, white, blue, come on, you have -
Sir we only carry those around Independ-
Okay, FINE, I'll settle for one of those heart shaped boxes of candy.
Candy, yes, well we have candy -
- but not in a heart shaped box.
Okay, what shape is the box?
Um, well, a boot.
Well, yes, a stocking to be more precise...
I don't need a BOOT, I need a heart, what is -
Sir, we only carry the heart shaped boxes around Valentin-
Okay, now look lady, you SAID you were having a holiday sale -
- okay, so where is the damned colored dye?!?!?
Isn't Easter a Holiday?
Yes, but not THIS holiday.
Well then what Holiday are you selling things for?
Well, we aren't supposed to say precisely, sir -
Aren't SUPPOSED TO SAY? Is this a game?
No, sir, we...here, do you see those green trees with lights?
Okay, well that's a hint - it's the holiday where you get a tree, and -
You're having a bloody Arbor Day sale?
NO, sir, PLEASE, think of an old Man -
NO, sir, red costume -
Costume? Halloween? We just had...
NO, SIR, think brightly colored -
LIGHTS! SIR, not Easter, we only sell those on Easter! Think baby -
Sorry, I bought my Christmas gifts where they were having Christmas sales...
Someone better be sure to tell these stores what the root of the word 'holiday' is...
Bush gets everything he wants, nothing he doesn't...
When the President announced John Roberts name on Monday night, he didn't announce a nomination, he announced the next Associate Justice.
With Rehnquist apparently only leaving the court in a pine box, this will be the only nomination this summer. And with the selection of Roberts, Bush has all his bases covered. Flout conventional wisdom of choosing a woman to replace O'Connor? Check. Pick a conservative justice to appease the conservative base? Check. Pick a nominee the Senate is going to be loathe to reject? Check. Pick a nominee that seems to be precisely the kind of man Bush himself is drawn to? Double check.
Roberts has strong personal assets. Speaking extemporaneously seems a strong suit. Roberts and his wife seemed to strike an almost throwback appearance to 70's whitebread middle America - during cuts between he and his wife, I thought my television had dialed 1973. Roberts has very strong intellectual credentials, and general approval from his peers of all political stripes. Expect his strong intellect to come through at his confirmation hearing, to the benefit of himself and the President.
This nominee will have 55 votes from Senate Republicans. We know that some Democrats will oppose his nomination - Chuck Schumer didn't like him the first time around. And he won't again. (UPDATE: Read all about that here). The Democrat playbook here is going to be to exact a political cost from Bush, make him expend energy supporting the pick, as well as re-establish their bona fides with hard core abortion rights advocates that frankly don't have anywhere else to go regardless. But this is not a nominee they can outright defeat. Some have noted that he was approved on voice affirmation and this conveys some sense of a concensus pick, but this is not an accurate reading - had a recorded vote occurred, a solid 20+ Democrat Senators would have opposed him.
And fillibustering is flirting with disaster - the American public doens't really notice when you fillibuster a Circuit Court judge. They do notice when there are only 8 black robes instead of 9 on the first Monday in October. Democrats would be best served to simply use harassing tactics, not attempt to dynamite the tracks with a fillibuster. Not only will they lose, they will do so spectacularly, and frame an issue that will hurt them for the midterms in 2006.
By fighting the good fight, Democrats can energize their base for the midterms. By trying to derail the entire process, they will only succeed in tying themselves to the tracks...
You can have his gavel when you can pry it from Rehnquist's cold, dead hand...
As both national parties continue to lock and load for the upcoming nomination to succeed Justice O'Connor, we may get two, two, two nominees for the price of one, as Chief Justice Rehnquist heads back to his reserve suite at the local hospital.
There cannot be much doubt that Rehnquist has seen his last Supreme Court term. Given his health struggles, it's frankly unfair to the Court and thost petitioning it to continue, with his repeated health crises creating the possibility of delays and even forcing a possible tie verdict if Rehnquist were rendered unable to finish his term.
If the Bush Administration has an inkling of this, it may be wise to hold back on the announcement of the first nominee. If Rehnquist announces his departure very soon, the White House has a chance to send three nominations to the Senate at once - two new Justices, and a new Chief Justice. This would allow the President to put forward a very strong hand, and a nominee the Democrats may oppose can draft off of a less controversial nominee.
For instance, the President could nominate a Senator for cover, a strict conservative for punch, and nominate Scalia for Chief Justice of the United States as the kicker. We think the nomination of a Senator is a seriously effective innoculator - our favorite would be someone like Orrin Hatch, though his age at 71 may make his name less attractive. He's a doubtless conservative, served on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a law degree, and as a respected Senator, is a guaranteed grease-in for the slot. Scalia is ill-considered by the left, but his intellectual prowess is well known on both sides, and having already been confirmed, he is unlikely to draw serious opposition. Which leaves the other nominee - here, Bush can go to his base, and choose a strong, strict constructionist. Or, he can choose someone like Ted Olsen, former Solicitor General.
The Democrats would be in a hard position - the public isn't going to tolerate a Supreme Court fillibuster that keeps a justice off the bench in November, no matter how loudly the Democrats scream about Roe v. Wade. Now, they might take the opportunity to make a stand against the least favored nominee. But, the nominees together will have momentum, momentum that will be difficult to oppose effectively. Democrats are best advised to keep the powder dry on these nominees, and make a stand when Ginsburg or Stevens retires. The public will be in a far more receptive frame of mind when a liberal member of the Court leaves, isolated from other Court events, and the natural momentum will be working in the Democrats favor, not against.
However, the Democrats must be sure should they decide to make a stand. John McCain reportedly told a fundraiser that
"'during the campaign, President Bush said he will appoint judges who will strictly interpret the constitution... thinking anything else is either amnesia or ignorance... elections have consequences... whomever he nominates deserves an up or down vote and no filibuster... and an up or down vote is what we will have."
If the quote is accurate, it's first and foremost a brilliant move by McCain. There will be no better way for McCain to confirm his conservative Republican bona fides than going to the mat over a conservative Supreme Court nominee. Frankly, he can guarantee his nomination in 2008 were he to do it. It also fits McCain's personality to a tee - McCain may be more fungible in his politics than some conservatives, but he prefers to retain power in the House and Senate. Pragmatists like McCain want to retain the power to affect issues in the legislature rather than the courts. It also spells doom for the Democrats, who have in the past been happy to let McCain develop as something of a marker of the rational middle - it can work to make Bush seem off to the right, but in this case, will work effectively to put Democrats on the wrong side of independent voters.
And don't rule out Fred Thompson as a possible nominee, the former Senator from Tennessee. He was chosen to head up the nomination process for Sandra Day's replacement. If you'll remember, Dick Cheney was selected to help head up the Vice Presidential nomination process as well...
The Supreme Court releases a pair of utterly irreconcilable decisions...
In it's anticipated avalanche of rulings, the United States Supreme Court has rendered decisions regarding displays of the Ten Commandments in two cases that are likely to leave the country head tilted with a collective "Huh?"
In the worst of all possibilities, the court has decided that there is an inherent problem with the display of the Ten Commandments in McCreary County v. ACLU, except where there is no intent to display them as a religious device as in Van Orden v. Perry.
Surely they jest...
Are we all talking about THOSE Ten Commandments? The Commandments given by God to man written in stone tablets? Religious device? How on earth can a display of tablets etched by the finger of God be anything BUT a religious device? Are we to pretend we don't know or understand the source of the writing, as if it were the product of infinite monkeys with infinite chisels? For crying out loud, the very first one is "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other Gods before me".
Now, this of course didn't escape some of the Justices - John Paul Stevens of course sees the very first commandment as rendering the entire set as a religious document - and he is correct. He is also, of course, as looney as a moonbat for advocating that the display of this text on public grounds is an establishment of religion forbidden by the First Amendment. There is a clear difference between acknowledgement of religion, and advocacy of religion. Showing the code of laws upon which nations of Western Civilization have based their moral and legal codes for thousands of years is no more an establishment of religion than the State putting in a bike path is an establishment of a requirement to learn to ride a bike.
In the end, this case is likely to be a mere placeholder until the court swings left or right - basically, that the court reserves the right to decide piecemeal when a display of anything with a religious connotation or source is "too" religious.
This is a sad state of affairs, how badly mangled the First Amendment to the Constitution has become. Let us read the first clause together:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
This has been tortured to mean that the public square must be purged of any acknowledgement of religion - lest we be seen establishing that there is religion, much less any particular one. Now how this group of purportedly wisened folk can read these words - a clause regarding the Congress using it's Legislative authority to establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion - to decide that a courthouse cannot display a copy of the Ten Commandments is, like their decisions today, beyond comprehension.
There is no tenable connection between the purpose of the First Amendment and how it is used today to move God away from the center of American life and replace it with the State.
Reports of my demise have been only mildly exaggerated...
How else to say it? I've been in recovery for overblogging, and only now am beginning the 12th step - reblogging. Frankly, post election, a sort of malaise about politics and world events has grabbed hold and made political goings-on seem rather meager.
The last couple months have felt like the long deep breath before the plunge. As great effort is expended on rather small things, I've felt disinclined to take part in discussions without great merit. The great evil of our times lies dormant now, as we worry about freakish black men who dress like Captain Crunch or fillibustering circuit court nominees, or whether a UN that is in desperate need of hard charging housecleaning can tolerate a hard charging housecleaner. I worry that these are the days we will forget when that great challenge of our times awakens. Terrorism and the wars against the West will not forever sleep.
Without further adieu, let's catch up on some things...
Michael Jackson - as we predicted, the only way Jackson was going to get convicted was if the jury was a ringer. And it wasn't. In this kind of case, it comes down to credibility, and the accuser and his family have none. This jury was quite ready to believe that Jackson took advantage of children. But in order to make that leap, the testimony has to be believable. Instead, the accuser and his family came across like grasping ogres, especially the mother. Alot of breathless outrage has come from certain television types (read Nancy Grace) that is almost fanatical - how can they find him not guilty? It's just like OJ or Robert Blake, some say - except it utterly is not. In those cases, we know without a doubt that a crime was committed - we have the corpses to prove it. In this case, the crime itself is in doubt, which brings it down to a case of credibility of witnesses and strong corroborative evidence. There simply wasn't any.
Fillibustering judges - this is one of the most poorly understood issues of our time. When people start making charges or claims of (un)constitutionality, watch out, because few really know how to read the document. Some Republicans claim that fillibustering judges is somehow unconstitutional - this is hard to understand as the act is clearly not proscribed in the document. Some Democrats claim that fillibustering is their constituitional right - which it is only in the same vein that locking yourself in your bathroom and writhing nude in green jello is a constitutional right. Here is the straight skinny - the manner of approving judges nominated by the President is a matter entirely in the control of the Senate itself. If the Senate wants to allow fillibustering of judges, it may. If it wants to disallow fillibustering, it may. If the Founders wanted to require a super-majority in the Senate to approve judges, it would have delineated that in the document, as it does for other Senate functions such as overriding Presidential vetoes or ratifying treaties. Thus, the argument that a fillibuster applies to a judicial nominee isn't unconstitutional, merely extra-constitutional. It is up to the Senate itself how to proceed in these matters. The fillibuster is an internal housekeeping mechanism that can be controlled by the Senate as they see fit.
John Bolton - why isn't this guy confirmed yet? This is an embarassment for the White House and shows a real disconnect from what should be a powerful doubleteam with the Republican Legislative branch. Not only is Bill Frist a very unremarkable Senate leader, he is unable to move the President's business in the Senate. When the White House let Trent Lott twist in the wind in order to get a friendlier, more pliable hand in the Senate, it traded in a Senate mover and shaker who they had to deal with for a guy who'd make any deal with them but has yet to prove he can move or shake the Senate to the President's tune. Bolton is an acceptable nominee who has been approved with little fanfare in the past by the Senate. If the President wants him through, he needs to revamp the White House communication mechanisms and make a forceful case. Go on television, announce you are tired of the delays, that your opponents are acting in a cowardly manner, and they need to make their speeches, make their cases, take the vote, and move on with the people's business.
Flag burning - does the United States House of Representatives have nothing else to do but spend time on this pointless amendment? Do we really need to look like hysterical reactionaries who cannot tolerate the stupidity of others who desecrate symbols? Are we just like the Islamist fanatics who rioted and killed because
Rendition/torture/Gitmo - are you serious? This is almost to silly to discuss. Let me get everyone in on the dirty little secret - in every war this nation has ever fought, if you were captured and considered to have high value intelligence, whatever was needed to get it from you was done. Period. Folks, let's stop the handwringing and the compunction convention and grow up. Bad men hoping to do bad things are out there, and when they are captured, and we believe there is strong evidence that they are holding information that threatens the lives of Americans, they are going to get the rough stuff. Anyone who disputes this is fanicifully disengaged from what the United States and the West will be facing in the future. Here's the question you want to ask those who cannot bear the notion that someone might have a boot in their ass in Guantanamo: if, on September 10th, you had captured Mohammad Atta, leader of the 9/11 hijackers, and believed he had knowledge of an impending attack that might kill Americans, would you authorize all measures to obtain the information? Anyone who answers "no" is putting their personal compunctions above the safety of Americans. It's one thing to risk your own life for one's contrition, it's another thing to risk the lives of others for it.
The Bush Administration, Part II - I've never seen a more potent machine grind to a halt faster than the Bush Administration early in it's second term. A critical lesson has not been learned - you use your political momentum to push items and issues across the finish line in your direction, you don't exhaust it to merely get an issue moving. The Bush Administration insistence on expending it's energy on moving Social Security reform has indeed got that issue moving - but the Administration has no energy left to keep the issue moving, or move it in the direction they seek. The President should have merely put the issue on the agenda, made some speeches, and let the issue slowly gather it's own momentum. Instead, the issue is moving but with nobody left with energy to move it, it's going to slowly lose momentum until someone comes along to give it another push. This loss of energy has meant the Administration doesn't have the political juice to push hard on other topics. We have long bemoaned the state of White House communications. We hoped the return of Karen Hughes would remedy the situation. It has not. Scott "Revenge of the Nerds" McClellan is putting the nation to sleep on a daily basis with his defeated soft selling of the President's policies. The White House has Senator Frist milquetoasting it up in the Senate, whereas the House is still an area the White House can move it's agenda but only because of the more dynamic nature of that body.
President Hillary Clinton - puhLEEZ. The poll that was released showing the purported electability of Hillary Clinton was one of the most tortured scenarios and use of polling ever seen. It purpoted that 30% of conservatives would vote for her. HUH? Look, we like Hillary as a Senator from New York - she's been a centrist, competent, well spoken, smart lady. But she is utterly unelectable at the national level. Perhaps this poll fulfilled a few dreams on the coasts of a return of Bill and Hill to the House, but... no. First - when did the White House become a dynastic office? We're getting to be like Pharoahs, with the rule of Bush the Elder, followed by Clinton the Naughty, pharaoh Bush II, and the rule of Clinton of the Nile. Enough, we don't want Jeb Bush in 2008, we don't want Hillary Clinton in 2008. Yet for all of that, it really comes down to this - what state did John Kerry lose in 2004 that Hillary Clinton is going to win? It is simply an untenable argument to state with a serious face that Hillary is a competitive national candidate. If Hillary was smart, she'd attempt to come in on the undercard...
We had other little observations during our absence - Microsoft helping China censor it's internet access (obscene), taking private property in order to pave the way for someone else's private property (obscene), the idiocy of Senator Dick (earned that moniker) Durbin alluding US policy and actions toward genocidal acts of Communist regimes (obscene)... it's this kind of malodorous nonsense that makes one long for a good book and a news-free night.
But can he save Democrat electability? Irresistable force meets the immovable object...
New DNC head and improvised explosive device Howard Dean has begun laying forth some of his ideas for how to improve the electoral chances of his party. The party that has tried to make hay marginalizing religious Christian voters may soon try to set up a political tent in the temple in a new gambit for voters of faith.
"We need to talk about Christian values and how they're Democratic values...Jesus taught to help the least among us. He spent his life reaching out to the disenfranchised. The Democratic Party is the party of that value, not the Republican Party."
There is room for debate as to the veracity of Dean's statement - does throwing money at the disenfranchised, or biasing the rules in their favor, equal a Christian call to alms for the poor. The larger problem is that there is no room inside the party for voters who vote primarily on matter of social concerns informed by faith. The Democrat party is an association of factions, rather than merely a big tent party, and as a result, it is both empowered by, and in thrall to, those factions. The abortion rights lobby and feminist lobby are big players in the party, and they are there to deliver their votes in return for the party delivering support on their issue - abortion rights. The party cannot internalize millions of rural Christian voters who may be drawn toward more progressive tax structures and pro-union pro-farm policies but will ultimately bring a strong anti-abortion rigor to the party.
Additionally, the Democrat party has become home to secular America - and having an active voice in the party's disdain for faith, are a driving force behind the attempts to characterize President Bush as a religious nut - the folks who bring you the lawsuits behind banning the words "under God" from the pledge, references from God from the public square. They are singularly happy in the Democrat party, because the party itself doesn't have a faith - in fact, any true faith, not as it relates to God, but because it has become an amalgamation of interests, it's become merely a wholesale dogmatic catalog, versus the doctrinal faith of the Republican party. The Republican party is caricatured but also strenghtened by it's straightforward doctrinal beliefs - pro-life, pro-defense, lower taxes, less government. Those who come to the party occassionally differ on a facet of the doctrine - normally abortion - but share the overarching tableau of belief - there is a coherent vision of faith in a set of beliefs.
The Democrat party lost this when it changed into a coalition party - the constituents tend to be strongly committed to their core issue or issues, and only the party by extension and to the extent it can deliver support back to the issues. From environmentalists to abortion or gay rights activists, they support each others causes not out of belief but out of commiseration - there is nothing about abortion rights that naturally extended to support of a ban on Arctic fuel exploration. As a result, the Democrat party can only expand in a zero-sum manner - you cannot add pro-life voters without yielding the support of core abortion rights voters.
Dean has indicated a willingness to try and talk around this problem by concentrating on shared values when he says "We're going to look at what we have in common, not what divides us" - and his strategy is right, but it's a strategy of a big tent party applied to a coalition party.
Dean's words would seem like wisdom were the Democrat party serious about moving back toward mainstream electability - changing back to a big tent party. It is in fact Republicans who are using religion to bring in support to their party, attempting ot make inroads in traditional religious black neighborhoods and with pro-life Hispanic Catholics. It is argued that the Republican party is infact itself in thrall to the religious conservatives - but they have correctly noted there is no alternative for those voters, as they are surely not going to vote Democrat, and when big issues are on the table such as abortion or gay marriage, will not stay home either. Bush has special dispensation with this group, himself publicly conscious about his own faith, and that carries a great deal with those voters who may be wary of more pragmatic policies.
As to Who Would Jesus Vote For... neither party has a monopoly or claim to divine inspiration on policy. Is Jesus more fond of Republican limited government and self reliance? Or is he more fond of Democrat progressive policies a hand out to those in need? Only a fool would offer an answer, and Lord knows there is no shortage of those around...
John "Oliver Twist" Edwards makes some noise, but does anyone hear him?
John Edwards has made some published remarks, scattershooting on topics from Terri Schiavo to the 2008 election.
Edwards is frankly not terribly relevant these days - a one term Senator who never caught on in the primary election cycle and didn't much help his ticket in the general cycle is not really a deep reservoir of notable thoughts.
Of the 2008 election, he thinks the notion that Hillary is the Democrat front runner is "ridiculous". Interesting, because in 2008 Hillary will have been re-elected to the Senate, an accomplishment Edwards wasn't up to the task of, and as an ex-first lady and power broker in the Democrat party, it doesn't take much math skill to add all of that up.
Little Lord Fauntleroy goes on to remark that he would have voted against the nominations of Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzales for State and AG respectively, and would oppose the nomination of John Bolton as UN Ambassador. Which begs two remarks - the first one being that he could have voted against them if he'd had the sack to run for re-election to the Senate rather than run for the White House as a pretty-boy lightweight with no resume or executive branch experience. The second one is - since when did the Senate assume it was it's job to merely vote on party lines for candidates? You'd think, considering the fact the President was just re-elected a few short months ago, that he could choose his cabinet and expect general acquiesence from the minority party except in extraordinary instances.
Edwards is another political zombie - a man whose political career is dead but occassionally moves about and acts like it's alive...
The court system in action...
But is that fair? I mean the Roman Emperors gave us bread and circuses. The courts gave us a circus, but wouldn't give Terri Schiavo any bread...
Who hid this lady's Xanax and au pair?
Newsweek has published the most entirely insufferable examination of motherhood ever penned, a woman's midlife crisis manifesto. Not to put too fine a point on it...
This excrable work is devoid of any real useful information - rather, it seems to be about and directed to recovering OCD patients masquerading as parents.
And I wondered: Why do so many otherwise competent and self-aware women lose themselves when they become mothers? Why do so many of us feel so out of control? And?the biggest question of all?why has this generation of mothers, arguably the most liberated and privileged group of women America has ever seen, driven themselves crazy in the quest for perfect mommy-dom?
The post-feminist angst practically drips from the screen. This isn't about motherhood, this is about raising little Chauncy Uppercrust in the wealthy suburbs in between trips to the day spa, where prep-school bred wives bemoan how their station in life didn't turn out like they'd hoped, or career trackers who found out life with kids isn't like the Enjoli commercial.
I heard of whole towns turning out for a spot in the right ballet class; of communities where the competition for the best camps, the best coaches and the best piano teachers rivaled that for admission to the best private schools and colleges. Women told me of their exhaustion and depression, and of their frustrations with the "uselessness" of their husbands.
Who does these things? No doubt, the moneyed set who raise their kids with their wallet. You know the kind - they've got a DVD player and screen installed in the Ford Exxon Valdez Escalade where their kid never has to go anywhere without staring at the idiot box - a permanent admission to Short Attention Span Theater. Makes it much easier for Mommy Dearest to talk on her cell phone if little Chauncy is watching "Bug's Life" comatose in the back seat. Hey, beats talking to the little tyke I guess...
Much of the rest of the article is a blackboard-scraping bleat about how life didn't turn out the way the author thought it might. This is Earth - welcome.
Life was hard. It was stressful. It was expensive. Jobs?and children?were demanding.
Yes, more insightful bon mots. But let's examine the real crime:
And the ambitious form of motherhood most of us wanted to practice was utterly incompatible with any kind of outside work, or friendship, or life, generally.
Looks like Chauncy is interfering with Mommy Dearest's social calendar. This is the ocean swell beneath this entire article... the obsession to achieve perfection while maintaining the temple to one's own id - which is incompatible with the human condition. You can't live a perfect life for yourself, and vicariously through your own child's status in the local child hierarchy, at the same time. Most people know this. But the tragedy queens in this article really do feel the weight of the world:
So that, as I write this, I have an image fresh in my mind: the face of a friend, the mother of a first-grader, who I ran into one morning right before Christmas. She was in the midst of organizing a class party. This meant shopping. Color-coordinating paper goods. Piecework, pre-gluing of arts-and-crafts projects. Uniformity of felt textures. Of buttons and beads.
The horror... the horror!
I mean listen to the overwrought, obsessive-compulsive angst in the words - color-coordinating, uniformity, pre-gluing. It's a school project for crying out loud, get some glue, gold paint, and macaroni, and GET OVER YOURSELF.
Let's get the payoff as she carries her cross to Calvary:
There were the phone calls, too. From other parents. With criticism and "constructive" comments that had her up at night, playing over conversations in her mind. "I can't take it anymore," she said to me. "I hate everyone and everything. I am going insane."
Again - total irrationality, passed off as banal maternal transpirations. Can't take it anymore? If you feel like screaming "Get a life lady" at the screen - you aren't alone.
And after all of the complaining and handwringing, what is the author's solution?
You guessed it - shift her burden to others.
We need incentives like tax subsidies to encourage corporations to adopt family-friendly policies.
Family friendly? Like providing uniform felt textures? I mean this little bit of sloganeering sounds innocuous enough - and like most good slogans, it's presented in such as way as to preclude disagreement, I mean who would be against family-friendly policies?
We need government-mandated child care standards and quality controls that can remove the fear and dread many working mothers feel when they leave their children with others.
Well sure, let's get the people who run the Post Office to set the standards, eh? Let's absolve you, the mother, from the responsibility for evaluating who you dump your kids off with while you head to the club for your 1:30 tennis lesson with Vitas.
And, I hate to say, day care is already regulated. We can't regulate that you'll get Mrs. Doubtfire for your au pair.
We need flexible, affordable, locally available, high-quality part-time day care so that stay-at-home moms can get a life of their own.
Again - get someone else to watch my kid. This is becoming pathological - get a life of their own? The author wants to maintain her status as Our Lady Of Leisure, while simultaneously winning Mother Of The Year, and all of the high praise and notice that entails. Ain't gonna happen.
I lived in France before moving to Washington...
SWEET GENTLE JESUS! Here it comes... why can't the US Government be my childs au pair, like the French government was?
...and there, my elder daughter attended two wonderful, affordable, top-quality part-time pre-schools, which were essentially meant to give stay-at-home moms a helping hand. One was run by a neighborhood co-op and the other by a Catholic organization. Government subsidies kept tuition rates low.
First of all, no, lady, government didn't keep the rates low, it kept YOUR rate low while passing the additional costs on to the rest of the French people. But here we are again - someone else is responsible for her kids now. Shouldn't there be a bill in Congress calling for Mary Poppins to be available to all over-stressed self-obsessed angst-riddled part-time mothers out there?
Because that's what she wants - to turn being a mother from a full-time job into a part-time one.
Hate to inform you - it doesn't work. Passing the burden you feel is too heavy to others is a specious solution in the first place. Besides, this zero sum solution means someone has to pick up the tab - unless you expect the rest of us to pick it up.
One last glimpse at the post-Wellesley sydrome, complete with call to economic redistribution:
In general, we need to alleviate the economic pressures that currently make so many families' lives so high-pressured, through progressive tax policies that would transfer our nation's wealth back to the middle class.
First of all, the high-pressure that seems to come forth in the article is performance anxiety coupled with a princess complex. Uniformity of felt? Secondly, how did this diatribe on motherhood logically conclude in a call to income redistribution? The author isn't changing soap tablets in the men's room urinals - so spare me the Little Match Girl routine.
For all of the posing and bemoaning, the payoff is for someone else to watch her kids while she goes out and blows her government check down at the Nordstrom day spa.
Folks - kids aren't easy. They are hard. And nowhere will you will find a greater advocate for mothers maintaining their own pursuits and interests as equal to that of their children than right here. But when you have a child, you determined you were ready to make room in your life for both of you. And that doesn't mean the rest of us are the ones to pick up the slack when your unattainable level of vicarious success through your child invariably collides with your desire to live the life of the idled wealthy.
And for God sakes, nobody gives a damn about the uniformity of felt...
UPDATE: The always erudite and readable James Lileks has a great take on this article - I particularly enjoyed his abrupt rendering of perspective to the lady who "hates everyone and everything".
UPDATE AGAIN: Genius.
Does the Democrat party qualify?
It's a moot question perhaps - any time someone performs an election post-mortem, the very word intonates the presence of a dead body. Martin Peretz has a lengthy examination of the American Left, here (subscription only, blech), that postulates that if the left isn't dead, it's closing in on room temperature.
Peretz sees the death as a sort of atrophying of the mind - there are no big ideas or thinkers on the left. This is true, somewhat, but it's also a function of the Democrat party having held establishment power so long - you grow accustomed to defending it against new ideas. Having assembled a powerful lobby from civil rights to abortion rights, it's hard to see any argument without those lenses. So yes, new ideas have come from the right - neccessity was the mother of invention.
It is in this light that this kind of melancholy should be examined - change will occur within the Democrat party, just as it did in the Republican party. The patient isn't dead - just in need of a transplant.
We checked the carton - the expiration date for tenure has come and gone...
Every once in a while, a university professor says something so outlandish and ridiculous that it deserves meritorious mention for one thing - it makes people wonder why it's nigh impossible to fire a university professor, despite often being paid from the public purse.
This time, of course, it's the raving lunatic from Colorado who analogized those who were killed in the World Trade Center with the Nazi head of the Gestapo's Jewish section.
While not having spent alot of time in New York, we're fairly certain that widespread gassing and extermination of Jews was not actually occurring at the World Trade Center. That sort of thing normally makes the news.
Having established that the professor in question is certifiably insane - or at least certifiably inane - it would not seem too much trouble to stop paying this person to instruct eager young minds using the public's tax dollars. But then again, the founding fathers never envisioned tenure.
Well, actually they did envision it - reviled it in fact. In fact, they rebelled against it. The King was tenure - power unaccounted, taxation without representation. There simply is no place in modern society for unaccountability. While dangerous in the form of a head of state, it is nonetheless equally corrupt in other positions - where there is no accountability, there is invariably corruption. Corruption need not take the form of a pilfered wallet - it is often found in corrupt concepts of worth and power, of values and hierarchies.
It is estimated that of the some 800,000 professors nationwide, a mere 50 or 60 lose their jobs. This number is preposterously low.
Academic freedom must not be defined as the freedom to say any damn fool thing one pleases. Freedom has never been defined as an utter lack of strictures on responsible behavior, nor from consequence for one's actions, carried out or merely uttered aloud. Tenure is couched under the concept of freedom to teach free of possible political reprisal - the damned fool thing theory. Damned foolish things do not deserve the aegis tenure provides. There is no system on earth that works best when responsibility and accountability is removed from the process. The public has a right to know what is being said and done in their name, be it a President, or a professor.
Tenure should provoke freedom of thought, not freedom from it.
Harry Reid has been minority leader for like a month, and he's already being mugged for his lunch money...
Senate Democrats are demanding the White House stop attacks on the new Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, as if he was Fredo in the boat with Al Neri.
``It says to the president, `You will not intimidate us','' said Schumer, who likened the attacks on Reid to political knee-cappings.
Nothing exposes weakness like protestations of strength. The fact is that the Democrats put Reid, a fairly milquetoast Senator from a Western, Bush-carried state, into a position where he's the lightning rod for Democrat policy. Out of power at every level of government, the only place they can effect outcomes is in the Senate - and that is as a blocking agent. They cannot steer the agenda, only try and derail it. Very unenviable.
Listening to Democrats bemoan that they "should have done more" to protect Daschle is a riot. Done what? Issue a strongly worded memo? The fact is the Democrat Party has one role in government now - obstructionist - and they have now chosen TWO successive leaders who hail from states that George W. Bush carried in the last election. The political price to pay is obvious, ask freshly unemployed Tom Daschle, and Democrats should have known better than to pick another languid Senator from a Republican state. The party leader can't be vulnerable at home for executing the only strategem you have available.
If this is happening after just a few weeks, wait until there is actual legislation pending... someone may have to send Harry to school with a note from mother...
Someone check the lid, Ted Turner has gotten out of his again...
Ted Turner managed to evade his medical caretakers and found his way to a NATPE convention, where he made some incendiary remarks about the object of his contempt, Fox News Channel, making some sort of inane allegorical reference between FNC and the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany.
Where to begin with this idiocy... do all popular events or movements all reflect the rise of Naziism in Germany? Why, because they are popular? By that bid of inbred logic, the rise of Trivial Pursuit and the hula hoop and American Idol all shadow the same rise in popularity that Naziism enjoyed in Germany. But Naziism isn't defeined by popularity, Ted, it is defined by a xenophobic anti-Semitic nationalist socialism that attacked the free nations it adjoined and liquidated wholesale those who were deemed untouchable races. So, other than that, I guess it reflects Fox News...
Allow me to venture an alternative explanation for Ted Turners invective toward Fox News Channel - FNC is kicking CNN's ass in the ratings on such a regular basis that it's no longer even a competitive contest. The lowest ranked nightly show on FNC routinely beats the highest ranked CNN show of the evening.
The real question is - what has Ted Turner done of late to make anyone think this idiot is worth listening to? Other than merge Time Warner with AOL in the biggest boondoggle in business history. Oh, and he also started the Goodwill Games... which I think are now carried on ESPN 8, "The Ocho"...
Some put him back in his box, and nail the lid shut...
A few folks think they can fix the Democrat party, despite being cracked themselves...
As if rushing to the wheel of the Edmund Fitzgerald, several Democrats are seeking to helm the foundered DNC, from Howard Dean to Martin Frost to Tim Roemer.
Let's set the table - the Democrat Party is reeling. Having lost four straight years now, their lines are broken, and morale is shoddy. This isn't always the best time to make rash decisions about leadership. And yet... something must change.
The rank and file Democrat establishment both loves and hates Dean. They love his politics and his fire, from his anti-war grist to his primal scream. There is a reason he picked up so many early endorsements, including Al Gore's. But it is the same firebrand style that they have calculated is not a winner for Democrats. They fear Dean, fear the road he will take them down, and fear he will furhter marginalize the party.
Huh? Exactly what has been so great about the party the last four years? This party already loses, big, at every level.
Republicans are glib about Dean, but they shouldn't be. They make a mistake to dismiss him so easily. Dean's anti-war rhetoric isn't so different from many conservatives who view Iraq as empire building, or it's occupation as the wrong application of American power. Dean is well spoken, and can move his supporters to action.
Both parties seem to underestimate Dean, and chalk him up as fringe. But this is a dangerous tack to take. Dean may be more potent a DNC leader than many imagine. His competition is somewhat weak - Tim Roemer doesn't seem high profile enough, and Martin Frost has the appeal of an expended condom.
If the DNC chair goes to Dean, nobody can say it won't be interesting...
The only time Ted Kennedy should open his mouth is to stick a gin bottle in it...
Senator Ted Kennedy, faking a moment of clarity at the National Press Club, offered his analysis on various matters of the day ranging from the 2004 election, to the new Senate members, to the future of the *hic* Dema...Demi.. Demma... *hic* ...err his party.
Ted Kennedy still gets mileage because his last name is associated with politics, both good and bad, tragedy, and Americana. He is often given gravitas as the Democrat "old lion", old defender and avatar of his party. Well, I've seen Animal Planet, and you know what happens to the old lion? He gets eaten by a pack of hyenas. While you'd figure the National Press Club is as close to a pack of hyenas as the old Democrat lion was bound to encounter, they did not take the opportunity to devour him. Perhaps they should have.
Kennedy has fallen into the same trap many Democrats have - replaying a not so close election over in their minds so many times they don't see the forest anymore, just trees. Kennedy noted how a swing of just 60,000 votes in Ohio could have given Kerry the state. True. But a swing of 60,000 votes in Pennsylvania could have given Bush the state. Instead of recognizing what is, Kennedy is fascinated by what if.
"We were remiss in not talking more directly about them about the fundamental ideals that guide our progressive policies," he said. He added that Kerry's loss also showed that Democrats must communicate better with voters on issues of deep conscience, including abortion, without yielding the party's support for a woman's right to choose.
This is the kind of thinking that Kennedy and other old lions of the left think will return their party to glory - not that their positions are wrong, or out of favor, but they simply didn't explain their enlightened positions to the unwashed masses. Nobody accuses Bush of being an effective communicator - how does that guy keep winning elections and bleeding the national ranks of Democrats?
Kennedy also called for greater federal support for college costs, saying every student who is admitted to college should be guaranteed the cost of earning a degree.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you reason for the grotesque costs of higher education in this country - quod erat demonstratum. Name a single thing in capitalist society that will be kept a reasonable cost if you told the seller that whatever they charged, someone would guarantee it's purchase. If I put a tin pot on eBay, it might sell for five dollars - but if I was told that whatever I charged - five, ten, ten-thousand - the federal government would guarantee the cost - why would I sell it for less than the most I could charge? While the cost of education is a whole blog topic in itself, it is government subsidization of costs that is driving the cost of eduction up.
Kennedy also mangled the name of the Democrats' new star, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, calling him "Osama bin ? Osama ? Obama."
Another round for the house, on Ted...
Howard Fineman scores a bingo on CBS and the mainstream media...
Howard Fineman of Newsweek/MSNBC has a fine article on the imminent demise of what one might call the big media mafia.
The big media mafia behaved in a similar manner to a traditional one - it controlled it's market, attempted to shut down the competition, and exacted a price from those who found themselves in it's territory. News became something not journaled or reported, but rather lensed. And by the time the media that grew up in the 60's and 70's came of age, they considered themselves part of the story, with a responsibility to correctively lens not only how news was covered, but what was considered news at all.
This culminated in a press that clearly removed any mask of non-partisanship. CBS was the worst, as we've documented here - using 60 Minutes as a launching platform for endless attacks on the Bush administration. The NY Times no longer was content to be a liberal paper on the editorial page, it is now front to back a paper of record for the left - the result is nearly a month of breathless Abu Ghraib stories on the front page.
Fineman saw this... and more:
"...the last thing the [media] needed was to aim wildly at the President ? and not only miss, but be seen as having a political motivation in attacking in the first place. Were Dan Rather and Mary Mapes after the truth or victory when they broadcast their egregiously sloppy story about Bush's National Guard Service?"
Bingo. Truth or victory? As concise a statement about the movitations of the CBS News organization as I've read.
Bush plans big, Republicans plan small...
Discussions are beginning to bubble around President Bush's audacious plan to begin restructuring Social Security by allowing younger workers to partially opt out into a hybridized private retirement system. And while Bush is readying to lead the charge, a number of Republicans are readying to sound retreat.
The goal of this plan involves two sides of the same coin - greater returns for investors, which will require fewer outlays from Social Security. The problem is that the government has been spending out of Social Security for ages, and is addicted to stealing from the piggy bank. Additionally, Social Security pays out far more per beneficiary than it takes in - this, coupled with the age old problem that foretells the doom of a democracy - that once the public determines it can vote themselves largesse from the treasury, they will do so unerringly until the collapse of the system. This is of course seen in the "third rail" nature of Social Security politics - huge groups feel irretrievably dependent on the system, therefore they will never allow reform of the system.
So, you have a system that is treated like a trove of ill-gotten booty by representative and represented alike, and it will take a great deal of effort and courage to make a change to this system.
Some Republicans, especially blue state Republicans, are antsy about how the proposed reforms will expose them politically next year. Well sure, but let me help you with this - you're a Congressman, you will ALWAYS have an election next year. This is an excuse for inaction?
Consider this remark from Republican Congressman Rob Simmons, surely an avatar of political courage if one has ever been heard:
"Why stir up a political hornet's nest . . . when there is no urgency... when does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then."
Now that's leadership. Note to Simmons - maybe you ought to lose your seat next year, at least a Democrat from your district will fight for what might be right, rather than just cower over his seat, hoarding his precious gains.
My first day back, and I run into this craven ne'er-do-well...
Russ Vaughn has another composition worth reading...
Russ has a knack for making a point in rhyme, and its almost always a well made point in a well made rhyme. Here's his latest... think of him as Dr. Seuss with combat ribbons.
?Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.? George Orwell
There?s a character trait that?s decided by fate
Comes ?sadly? to many, far too faint, far too late.
They won?t face the aggressor, stand up to his ire
They have not the will to fight his fire with fire.
So they bend over backwards to see all sides as fair,
Till they?re faced with dragon breath fire in their hair.
Like our brethren in France, who?d know better than we,
Yet seem never to learn, seem doomed never to see.
Yes, it seems there are some who?re determined by fate,
To possess not the courage to step up to the plate,
Who shrink from all threat because nothing?s worth war.
But how can they know lest they?ve been there before?
Thank God some have courage, the will, yes, the grace,
To stand for the shirkers, stand strong in their place.
Thank God we have stalwarts who?ll stand for us all,
Who will rise to the challenge at their nation?s call.
The faint-hearted, who fear, whose reaction is flight,
Have no comprehension of those who will fight.
To hide their own trepidation they attempt to demean
The rough men, who defend them, as barbaric, obscene.
Yet these rough men stand ready, hard weapons to hand,
To put placaters behind them, draw a line in the sand,
To preserve for the peaceniks what they won?t defend,
So their own unearned freedom won?t perish, won?t end.
To appeasers, rough men are coarse government tools.
To rough men, appeasers are dumb delusional fools.
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
If someone invented Bernard Kerik's shenanigans, nobody would believe them...
Abortive nominee for DHS Secretary Bernard Kerik is enjoying an avalanche of salacious detail in his hometown papers, something he richly deserves for asking the Bush Administration to walk out onto the plank with him.
Having copped a plea to numerous adulterous affairs, Kerik is immolating any potential public career in full view. Apparently, the only people who didn't know that Kerik had more dirty laundry than a roadside hourly motel was the White House.
And what a touch of class Judith Regan turned out to be - witness this bit of white trash opera:
Months into the affair, Regan got a call at her office from Kerik's other mistress, correction officer Jeanette Pinero. Until then, Regan didn't know Pinero existed.
Pinero had found a love letter from Regan in the swinging bachelor pad Kerik kept in Battery Park City, and wanted Regan to know she'd been Kerik's lover for a decade.
Fiery Judith shot back, "I don't feel as f---ed as I did before you called. You're more pathetic than I am."
While Regan is said to have "flipped out" over the call ? "She's very territorial: 'What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine,' " ? it did not kill things entirely.
Then less than a month later, she learned Kerik's wife was pregnant.
"She did the math," said a pal.
Did the math? Kerik apparently was laying more pipe around New York City than the 214th Local Union, but that didn't end it for Judith. But he was still sleeping with his wife - how gauche! She did the math on that...
This is the last time anyone takes a job reference from Rudy Giuliaini at face value, let me tell ya...
Bernard Kerik won't be head of Homeland Security...
Bernard Kerik abruptly withdrew his name from consideration for DHS head, citing confirmation concerns surrounding his employment of a domestic worker that may or may not have been handled per Federal Statute 10-1243 mark 3 substroke J chapter 4 paragraph 19 clause 2.
While possible that this is indeed the reasoning, earlier reports cited possible concerns over business transactions related to his work at Taser Corporation. And this is just as the FBI begins it's background check. Is the nanny story just a goat to look at while the other livestock go unmolested? Time may or may not tell. But surely Kerik had to know this was going to be a problem before now, and surely the White House did a cursory question and answer session with him about things like this before announcing his candidacy for the office.
Something is fishy.
Regardless of the reasoning, another declared nanny problem begins to beg the question - do any of these people raise their own kids? No wonder nobody in Washington wants to seal the border - they'd have to spend time with their children if they did...
What kind of punk deserts from the Salvation Army?
In a move of corporate PR insanity, Target stores will no longer allow the Salvation Army to ring their bell for charitable collections in front of Target stores during the Christmas season.
Target had long made the Salvation Army a lone excpetion to the no-soliciting rule at their stores. Now this is the thing about exceptions - it's easy to have just one. They get more difficult as you make more of them, because the criteria between exception and rule becomes convoluted and subject to more breakdowns. But Target had stuck with just one - and it's an organization doing unqualified good work.
Until now, that is. Apparently, a great number of requests - scratch that. Requests will be made, regardless of the policy. No, apparently cowardice and cowing to legal department prattle has driven Target to stop allowing the Salvation Army on it's premises.
Target is, in a sense, a victim of the axiom that we are often punished for our kindnesses. Stores like Kohl's, Home Depot, etc. don't allow anyone to solicit, and hence aren't in a position to remove a nicety that was once granted.
However, a kindness retracted can be worse than one never extended. Kicking some guy to the curb for ringing a bell to collect money for charity is corporate Scroogism at it's worst. And with the culture war creating a hair-trigger response on both sides, anything that seems to sanitize Christmas against charity and meaning, and oh by the way, Christ, is going to create a skirmish.
Some have mentioned that they've "heard" that some people find the bellringers intrusive somehow. Intrusive? A guy ringing a bell? It's hard to believe someone will spend 5 minutes finding a parking spot at Target only to be irritated to the point of red, itchy inflammation by having to walk by a guy ringing a small bell. But far be it from us to deny someone their right not to hear a chime...
This was brought home in my house directly. My wife, a devoted Target shopper for years who finds proximty to Wal-Mart anathema, isn't the sort to join email chains or the latest fad protest because someone used a bad word on TV. But when she heard about this, and received an email linking to bantarget.org, she decided a one-family ban would do. So, she paid off our Target card, and returned recently with a carload of Wal-Mart items. She despised the experience, but expressed that if not her, then who? For us, Target is mercada-non-grata.
If Target is facing a suit, then fight it. The public goodwill would be in their favor. But the bullseye is on them now, and they put it there...
Peter Beinart finds the bullseye on the donkey...
As post-mortems continue to emerge on the failed Democrat campaigns at every level in 2004, Peter Beinart has absolutely nailed their problem - and their solution, all with one shot.
To clarify the problem, Beinart harkens back to a previous crisis in the Democrat party - their struggle for identity in the post-Roosevelt era. The problem, as he astutely clarifies, is how those who would accomodate communism, not oppose it, viewed their opponents:
"...they refused to make anti-communism their guiding principle. For them, the threat to liberal values came entirely from the right. To attack the communists, reliable allies in the fight for civil rights and economic justice, was a distraction from the struggle for progress."
Indeed - the threat from their own countrymen was far greater in their eyes than that posed by Soviet totalitarianism and expansionism. This correlates nicely to today - the Democrat left consists of those who think John Ashcroft is a greater threat to America than Al Qaeda. This is not an exaggeration. They see America under siege not in a physical way, but merely metaphysical, where the threat to America is not material in the form of death and destruction from terrorists, but rather a threat to the progressive idealism of what America is by Republicans.
This is, without question, patently silly. But they are such a force in the Democrat party - because much of their traditional constituencies such as blue collar men have abandoned them - that they steer not just the nominating process, but the entire party and any national image, hard to the unserious left.
In order to regain viability, they must decide which they desire - relevancy, or fealty to groups that swell their numbers but destroy their viability. The Democrats in the past chose to purge the accomodationists from their party to engage a healthy anti-communist platform that manifested itself in the hawkishly anti-communist Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Only after Viet Nam did the re-infiltration of dovish accomodation begin back into the Democrat party.
The hard left is unelectable. The Democrats would do well to let them be unelectable without them....
It's time to put an end to the fillibustering of judges...
In what appear to be his first major policy comments as Minority Leader, Senator Harry Reid has indicated he's not so inclined to play nice with others on judicial appointments as may have been thought.
Majority Leader Bill Frist has shown a conciliatory - but what increasingly looks like a tendency to be flannel-spined - approach, indicating he would go to Reid and simply ask for an up-or-down vote.
The time has passed for this pretend statesmanship - Reid will feel pressure to make Senate Democrats relevant, and that will come through the fillibuster. Advice and consent should not involve the ability to spike via a minority through inaction.
If Democrats want more say on judicial nominees, they need to win more elections...
Outgoing HHS chief wonders why terrorists haven't gone after US food supply, wink wink...
Outgoing Heath and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has been losing sleep over the nation's food supply and it's susceptibility to terrorism.
Apparently, despite increases in food inspections, only a minute amount of food entering the US is inspected. But this is unsurprising - you cannot test it all, and even testing some is not adequate if you want a 100% prevention rate.
Food inspectors test for more than terrorist devices - they test for bugs, disease, etc. One would expect that short of inventing exploding grapes, the kind of operation to achieve large scale results via food contamination is likely beyond Al Qaeda's ability to coordinate. But a small scale operation is far more actionable. To prevent, say, a dozen grapes with cyanide entereing the US, we'd have to inspect 100% of all imports, which is simply not possible considering the volume of foodstuffs imports for a nation of 300 million people, at least at the cost point American consumers have come to expect to pay.
Now mind you, you can create nationwide panic with just a few contaminated items - poisoned Tylenol, anyone? But Al Qaeda never has seemed to grasp that aspect of terrorizing a populace - and thankfully they don't seem inclined to try.
Folks... this is the future of government health care...
It didn't take long for the flu vaccine shortage to get politicized. And they were right - we didn't get a flu shot, but the discussion about it sure is making us sick.
Since Kerry has been in the habit of blaming every leaky faucet and burned out light bulb in America on Bush, it's not too surprising that like the stock market or the shortage of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the convenience store, this flu vaccination shortage too is the work of Bush Administration incompetence.
It's hard to discuss the topic with those enticed by the argument that the rooster makes the sun rise - that since Bush is President, and we don't have enough, it naturally follows that it's his fault. But examining the underlying truth shows that Bush isn't to blame - in fact, we are, with our own good intentions.
In 1993, the US passed the 'Vaccines for Children' program - I mean how could you vote against it? It was designed with the best intentions, as most bricks on the path to socialized medicine are, to make sure vaccinations were available to poor and underpriliveged people. The government would buy a substantial portion of the vaccine at a fixed price - of course, a price fixed well below market value - and distribute it.
Well, we now see the results. When the government price-fixes, everyone loses. There are now just two producers of this vaccine. Is it any wonder? I can get an endless supply of erection medicine, but cannot get a flu shot.
This surely wasn't the goal of the bill - but should we not have seen this coming? Price controls and central planning have never met the needs of the market. In this case, government involvement in supply and pricing does what it nearly always does - stifle innovation, production, and leave us the bare minimum. When the vaccine supply in Britain showed contamination, that was it - there were no competing suppliers, nobody looking to make money on this product who could step into the void.
This is the future of government involvement in health care. Some have called for government control over such vaccines - yeah, that's what we need.
If anyone thinks the people who run the DMV would be good at making sure we have a bountiful supply of vaccines...
Another talented work from Russ Vaughn...
While we crank out the weekends articles, enjoy this pajamagram from Russ...
No Mourning for Mainstream
Ah, once so grand you owned this land,
With your wisdom you did ply us,
Until old dears this election year,
You at last unmasked your bias.
Yes, once were you our only view,
No challenge did you face.
You had your say and called the play,
?Til the Blogs got in the race.
We?d like to see fair honesty
But our breath now we?re not holding
Because we know how really low
Are the odds of that unfolding
So what is left when we?re bereft
Of hearing truth from you?
We?ll place our bet on the Bloggers? net
To let the truth come through.
That pajama?d host really wants to roast
Your assets that?s for certain.
To debunk the myth of your monolith,
On your act to drop the curtain.
Alas old dears, you?re done we fear,
Your dynasties doomed to tatters,
And ?tween the coasts your opinions toast,
About anything that matters.
- Written by Russ Vaughn
New dirt on the Bill O'Reilly - Andrea Mackris tale, that doesn't really help anybody...
Information is starting to drip out about the O'Reilly lawsuits - and when we say drip, think... slime - and when all is said and done, this information is likely to leave everyone fairly covered in it.
As we noted during our first write-up on this event, many of the allegations and incidents lend themselves to corroborative testimony - records, witnesses, recordings. Well, the NY Daily News has our first bit of third party fame-grasping, someone who's tale seems to support O' Reilly, but isn't likely to really be good for anyone.
The biggest question about this account - that of a restauranteur - is how was he in a position to testify to the facts he claims? I have eaten in many restaurants, and never had occassion to detail my personal life with the ownership, much less the extent of my phone dalliances with Bill O'Reilly. This is not to say this is untrue information; however, credibility demands that the person testifying have a credible connection and avenue to the information being testified about.
Even if true - that Mackris really dug O'Reilly and engaged in intimate conversations with him - this helps Reilly's defense, but hurts his image nonetheless. This is the kind of third-party account you may welcome at first, to move the news momentum against your opponent - but later regret if it reveals a pattern of seedy behavior, at least for a 55-year old married man who makes his living as a straight-shooter.
When this is all said and done, everyone will look dirty, no matter who is right or wrong - you can't mud wrestle a pig and look otherwise...
UPDATE: There's tapes! Or at least O'Reilly's lawyers think so. The only think less appealing to hear than O'Reilly talking dirty to Andrea Mackris is maybe live audio from a slaughterhouse. And maybe not even that...
UPDATE PART DEUX: Drip drip drip... slime aplenty. The NY Post is reporting some unattributed, unreliable, unconfirmable, but let's-print-them-anyways dirt on Andrea Mackris and her time at CNN. Check soon - it'll archive out shortly into NY Post oblivion...
UPDATE AGAIN!: And now Drudge has seen her finances... in debt pretty heavily it appears, so I guess the phone hanky panky was okay then...
Bill O' Reilly may have over-bloviated...
The employee, a producer named Andrea Mackris, attributes some fairly racy statements and actions to O'Reilly, the most popular talking head on cable news. Many allegations of phone conversations and phone messages may be open to corroborative proof, such as phone records, recordings, or first-hand witness accounts.
O'Reilly's best defense may be the credibility of the accuser - who in her allegations reported untoward statements by O'Reilly before leaving Fox for CNN - but later, she returned to Fox to work with Bill. This makes the "hostile work environment" argument much tougher to prove.
There is something however that unforunately rings true about the allegations - while nobody can ascertain at this point whether these incidents occurred or not, you cannot listen to O'Reilly interact with women, both on television and radio, and not occassionally have your skin crawl with what comes across as sexualized patronizing - be it remarks about how females guests look, or how he treats female guests like Lis Wiehl on his program. We have noticed this on occassion, and filed it for future reference. Now we have something to refer to.
When Bill says he's Looking Out For You... you might need a restraining order.
The US missile defense system is about to go online - just in time for the election...
It has taken a long time from start to finish, but the first reasonable incarnation of SDI or "Star Wars" will be brought online shortly.
The fact that's it is not often called "Star Wars" anymore demonstrates how far the technology and the public mindset about missile defense has come. First conceived by Ronald Reagan as the Strategic Defensive Initiative, the first real bump in perception came from the first Gulf War, when Iraqi Scuds were facing off against US Patriot missiles. While not particularly effective, defending against inbound ballistic missiles no longer seemed beyond feasability nor was there an unthinkable scenario needed to require it.
With the collapse of the ill-considered agreement with North Korea that has allowed them to obtain nuclear weapons capability coupled with an ambitious missle project, America faced a new threat - a nation with nuclear weapons, with long-throw weapons capability, and with a fairly odd and unpredictable government. More dangerous in fact is the precarious nature of North Korea - gripped by famine and stagnation, this totalitarian state is under enormous strain to keep from collapse. Leaders faced with such may seek nuclear blackmail or may simply act unpredicatable or provocatively.
Now, what was once scoffed at - a missile defense to protect the United States - has an obtainable goal and real purpose. Rather than defeat thousands of inbound Soviet weapons, the defense system need only initially protect against a single or small number of weapons, a far more realistic target.
During the Bush/Kerry debate, Bush mentioned Kerry's opposition to missile defense but did not strongly take the opening provided. When the discussion turned to Iran, Bush had what he needed - the opening to say the US is working to contain Iran and North Korea, it must be prepared to defend itself, that nuclear technology is not a genie we can put back into the bottle, and that efforts to stop the spread of nuclear technology must not be all the US depends upon. We cannot leave to hope that others will not obtain nuclear technology and the means to deliver it, and that we must be prepared to defend the American people with a system that is new, but surely showing promise and at the least, better than harsh words or a threat of sanctions.
Whether Bush has the political dexterity to press this against Kerry on a national stage is another question...
Left hand red-state, arm and a leg blue-state...
In an oft repeated bit of pablum, occupants of "blue-state" America increasingly bemoan that they are victims of a great unfair redistribution of income. As Andrew Sullivan calls it, "the red states have been draining the resources of the blue states dry for a very long time."
This is a nonsensical notion borne of elitist urbanite hubris.
Where do blue state residents suppose their food is grown? Cars are assembled? Power is generated? Military is based? These tasks require great amounts of space, large road infrastructure, and often direct spending by the federal government. Goods and services move between the coastal blue states across thousands of miles of rail and roadway, expensive to build and maintain but more than offset by the enormous profit of trade routing between the states. Urban centers may produce excess taxes, but they are not self sufficient, requiring influx of foodstuffs, consumables, fuel and energy - all of which require a great deal of land, low margins, and generally higher federal spending to facilitate.
Now add in the artificial wage and property value inflation in blue state Gotham, which creates artificial tax bracket creep, and you have people in blue states doing the SAME work as those in red states, but are paid more simply to meet the higher cost of living in urban America, like the 1300 square foot 60 year old house in San Francisco that runs for $325,000. The costs are higher, the pay is higher, but the tax rate isn't graduated for location, so you pay far more in taxes proportionally than someone living in a red state in the same relative income class.
Nobody seems to mind pumping oil out of Alaska, as long as they don't have to pay any more than the raw cost of extraction. Nobody minds extremely low cost, high quality foodstuffs, as long as they just have to pay open market costs for wheat. Nobody minds F-16s running CAP over your city, as long as they don't have to pay to pave the runway out of state...
This federalist democratic republic works because every state gives and takes. Blue states enjoy the benefits of an urban lifestyle, without the power plant, the cornfields, the unsightly 25 miles of hurricane fence around the Air Force base, the huge corrugated car assembly plant - at the cost of higher prices. The rural farmer may not pay as much in taxes and get more in highway funds than you, but he can't get tickets to Fiddler On The Roof, see the travelling Jasper Johns exhibit, take his wife to shop the latest DKNY fashions, go see professional baseball...
It's give and take, an economic symbiosis that is more than just net gain/loss on federal taxes. Urbanites need to stop worrying about what everyone else might be taking of theirs, and look around for a moment in awe of what they have available to them because of someone making a living in a red state.
Blue state lifestyle could not exist without red states...
Florida should have it's own Hurricane Channel...
Another weekend, another hurricane.
Another weekend we'll be watching idiot newsmen on an ocean walk leaning against the wind and rain, watching shots of an uprooted tree, watching footage of corrugated siding flying off a convenience store overhang, watching an interview in a candlelit room with some idiot who decided to "ride it out".
With four storms in less than two months, expect to start hearing ever increasing comments about people rethinking their state of residence, and complaints from non-Floridians about picking up the tab.
This last bit is increasingly aggravating. Californians wonder why they have to pay for Florida hurricanes, Oklahomans wonder why they have to pay for California earthquakes, Nevadans wonder why they have to pay for Oklahoma tornadoes, New Yorkers wonder why they pay for any of it, including roads in Nevada, never bothering to wonder where the wheat for their bread is grown, the oranges for their juice, the steel for their fire escapes, or anything else they consume...
Every state takes something, and contributes something - except Rhode Island...
Swaggart needs to be called home... where's a 900 foot Jesus when you need him?
Just when you think you've managed to convince the world that people of faith are not puritanical bigots, along comes a puritanical bigot to prove us wrong.
See if you can stomach this:
"I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry...And I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died."
Gee, do you think God would fall for that one Jimmy?
Having spent alot of time defending people of faith and the influence of God in their life and politics, this is a gut punch. A gut punch to all attempts to make sure that those whose faith informs their beliefs and political values are treated with respect and dignity and not dismissed as Luddite cranks.
Alot of talking has occurred regarding the tolerance of murderous terror in many corners of Islam, and many have been the calls for the rank and file to speak out loudly and clearly and toss out such people from their midst - and rightly so. Should we not demand the same here? Should not everyone associated with his ministry demand more than a throw-away apology? Shouldn't Christian leaders denounce such amazing talk as to kill a fellow man for merely looking at you? Does any of Swaggart's statement strike anyone as Christ-like in the least?
One would suspect that if a woman ever looked at him "like that", and attempted to get Swaggart to violate the Sixth commandment, he'd kill her too and tell God that she died.
No, wait a minute, he got busted with a hooker TWICE, what was I thinking...
CBS finally gives the weakest of apologies...
Finally convinced that their stonewalling was untenable, CBS today weakly admitted they "cannot prove that the documents are authentic" in their train wreck report on Bush and his service in the National Guard.
This is the meekest, most mealy-mouthed apology imaginable. There are few things that can be proven with absolute certainty, but the documents CBS used were certain fakes. Furthermore, the reliance in any part on Bill Burkett, a discredited hack who has claimed to be around more Bush shenanigans than a gardener, blows CBS credibility out of the water. Burkett was the source Rather called "unimpeachable"?
More must come out on this story - first, who was the source for these documents. There is no claim of privilege in the pursuit of a crime, and forging government documents surely must qualify. CBS has no ground whatsoever to protect it's source, period - that bridge was burned when CBS set fire to it using forged documents as a wick. Secondly, and tangental to the first, what connection or collaboration occurred between CBS and the DNC/Kerry campaign. It is hard to imagine anyone at the DNC or the Kerry campaign being so utterly inane as to involve themselves in this - when someone is going to tar and feather your opponent, you don't carry the tar for them. Touching this would be a zero gain, but stranger things have happened.
Supposedly, an internal investigation is going to occur to determine precisely why a poorly vetted and ill-considered political hit piece was run two months before election day. Let us save you the trouble - the story fit the political perceptions of the CBS News producers and reporters, and so was never pursued with an inquisitive eye, simply because it fit what they considered to be prima fascie truth. They'd no more question the authenticity of documents stating President Bush was a priviliged party boy who shirked his duty in the ANG than they would a document stating the sky was blue - both fit their basic perceptions and understanding of the world.
This isn't a close call, it's as if someone found a K-Mart tag on the Shroud of Turin...
That pills alright with me...yeah... hey hey HEY HEY!
Setting a bar that will be hard to meet for years to come, funk singer Rick James was found to have died with more drugs in him than a Walgreens.
Ever since Elvis gave up the ghost on the commode with a cocktail of drugs in him, we seem to be reminded every few years of just what mind-emptying fame does to people. From Jim Morrison to Rick James, fame and the resulting unbinding from the ordinary weight of the world seems to destroy people. Perhaps it's a warning, a marker in the road, to make us wonder just what in the hell people are thinking, and it helps to keep the rest of us on solld ground. Though we still would take our chances with fame and fortune, and have to agree with Tevye that if it's a curse, may God smite us with it and let us never recover...
The man who recorded Give It To Me Baby sure wasn't shy about taking it once you gave it to him...
The Washington Post answers our request, and gives us the proof...
Here's what we asked for:
More telling would be examination of known-good documents from the same office, to evaluate their makeup - are they kerned, line spaced uniformly for the width of the page, do they use the same typeface, share the same abbreviation, scriptings, and decimalizations (1st Lt. or 1st LT). This should be very easy to do - to put the matter somewhat aside, produce a known, verifiably authentic document from the same office showing the same characteristics.
And the Washington Post delivers here.
This should about do it. One of these documents is consistent with a 1972 typewriter - and one isn't. Examining the formatting - the signature left aligned, no superscript, no decimal point after abbreviations (such as Lt), fixed width type, date format - exposes how very, very different these two documents appear, and if the government likes anything, it's conformity. The signature is also clearly different. The authentic document has characters that seem to float a bit, with each having somewhat different strike heights which are typical of a typewriter. In fact, these documents are so different in style and appearance that it boggles the mind how anyone can imagine they came from the same group, and how CBS could continue to coyly declaim that their authenticity is merely "questioned".
CBS clearly stepped in it, and it wasn't pudding...
UPDATE: Another WP disassembling of the bogus ANG documents, devastating in detail...
CBS story loses in straight sets...
Completing the outright refutation of the CBS Bush/Guard story, ABC has released an interview with the man who was reportedly asking for a "sugar coat" on Bush's ANG record.
CBS was always on shaky ground with this story. Any time you rely on the words of a dead man, you ask for trouble - and in this case, the words were in documents that turn out to be outright frauds. CBS, reeling from the pressure, produced an interview with Killian's secretary (though reports from the Killian family indicate she was one among a pool of typists) who could do little more than answer leading questions with perception and feelings, such as this one responding to a question asking if Bush received preferential treatment:
?I'm going to say that he did. I feel that he did, because there were a lot other boys in there in the same way."
THIS constitutes corroborating evidence? She has no evidence, direct or indirect, but offers a hunch based on guilt-by-association? Look, it takes no great stretch to imagine that being the son of George Bush helped get you into the ANG, but neither is there any proof, a single shred, that he got in when he should have been excluded.
Now Gen. Staudt has come forward to say that he didn't pull strings, because none needed to be pulled - it's not as if Bush failed his entrance exams, or had a wooden eye. Staudt also said Bush was a fine pilot - borne out by many of the other appraisals on file. He also rejected any notion that he made attempts to create favorable conditions for Bush, a full year after he retired - which verifies in statement what could be assumed by logic, that retired officers don't maintain sway over their old unit a year after the fact.
The only remaining question is how this entire episode damages CBS News, 60 Minutes, and Dan Rather.
It will be a while before anyone watches a CBS News report without a raised eyebrow...
Clinton feels your pain, Bush shows his pain...
While comparing and contrasting politicians almost always does a disservice to both, the last two President's both connect on an emotional level with voters. Part of the appeal both of George Bush and of Bill Clinton is their ability to be tangible and approachable to voters - George's down home, comfortable arm-around-you charm, Bill's jovial care and ease of putting himself on your side.
Clinton was able to demonstrate empathy spectacularly, as nary a soul who met him doubted that he cared about their concerns. Clinton could "feel your pain", or let you know he cared, or tell you your concerns were his concerns, and it was uncannily believable to all comers. It didn't matter how sincere Clinton really felt, he could immediately empathize with your troubles, bite his lip, and put his hand on your shoulder, and tell you he understood. Brilliant, and masterful.
Bush sympathizes in a different way, at the core of who he is. Bush cannot master political emotion - he isn't that good a politician. But he feels and experiences raw emotions in real time - uncontrolled, untempered. His acceptance speech was no exception. Speaking of the loved and lost, it was clear Bush carried a heavy emotional load, his eyes welled and his expression grimaced with the struggle to maintain composure. Bush does not feel your pain for your loss, he feels his own pain for your loss. A subtle difference that is not as useful politically, but is rarely contrived.
In this campaign, only Kerry's running mate possesses a similar ability to connect emotionally with voters. Time will tell if that connection does Edwards well in future runs. For this election, he can't carry the emotional load for the ticket, but neither can Kerry, and it makes his task that much harder.
Some people need a reason to protest - these people just need a place...
The usual suspects and ne'er-do-wells have begun gathering in New York for politically justified nudity, disobedience, and general hooliganism.
Let's cut to the quick - most of the people getting naked on 8th Avenue aren't wilting violets who are overcoming social dogma to take a stand. They are exhibitionists who have found notoriety taking their fetish and combining it with a political issue. Is the world of AIDS research advanced by their nudity? How about the plight of the homeless? The uninsured, the poor, the hungry, precisely who is really aided by some T & A on a New York street?
Traffic is snarled by protesting bicyclists who get bonus points for braving the impatience of NYC cab drivers, business disrupted by having a sit-in - again, not protest as raising a voice, but protest as prankish stunts a frat house might do, which manifests itself in gloryhounding for cameras. It's a prank with a cause, and therefore, justifiable at least to those inclined to see traffic snarling and business disruption as matters of free speech that trump the rights of all others who have to put up with it.
The next level of protests - destruction of property, trespassing, and so forth, will also be justified by those inclined to ascribe social outrage to the same behavior you'd spank a child for.
Would 8 people holding pickets be newsworthy? No. But 8 people holding their privates are. Or are they?
Most folks more interested in telling you how to discipline your kids than in disciplining their own...
As Hillary's proverbial village takes an interest in raising your kids, it also seems interested in passing judgement on how you raise them. The most recent bit of public pablum in this area is the practice of "hot saucing" an unruly mouth.
The idea is to let the child, guilty of some sort of oral behavioral violation such as spitting, cursing, or lying, get retributive feedback right at the source with a little tabasco sauce on the tongue.
This of course sends the overweeing social scientists into a conniption. Boston family therapist Carleton Kendrick hoity-toitily blathers thusly:
"There's no room for pain and humiliation and fear in disciplining healthy children," Kendrick said. "I think it's a rather barbaric practice to say the least."
Barbaric practice to say the least? Now that barbarism is off the table, what word is he reserving for hitting your kid with an iron pipe?
What other forms of barbarism are we to fear? The chemical poisoning of washing the kids mouth out with soap? The lasting damage of malnutrition from the famine of going to bed without supper?
There is a very fine line between society protecting children who cannot protect themselves, and society interfering with a parent raising a child in a manner they see fit and as they themselves were raised. It's a net positive that teachers and public safety workers err on the side of caution to make sure kids are in a safe environment. Nobody ever died from having social services stop by to make sure everything was okay - the truth can't be said for the opposite.
But the arrogant presumption it takes to decide for others what is and isn't approriate discipline is the sign of a unhelpful busybody, always there with the tweezers for the splinter in your eye... the punishment is not harmful, not damaging, and frankly elegantly appropriate for the nature of the infraction. It's not as if they are spraying the kid with mace for getting a B- on their report card.
Raising a child is a responsibility that is a parents alone. There will always be plenty around to tell you how to do it - in-laws, busybodies, neighbors, teachers, counselors - and free advice is normally worth what you pay for it. When the child grows into an unruly and troubled young man or woman, the Boston busybody above isn't going to be there to pick up the pieces. Few of the people dispensing free advice will be around to do the heavy lifting when things go wrong for a troubled young adult.
You are your childs best chance to get it right. If it means tabasco sauce, a bar of Ivory on the tongue, a night of going without dinner, a butt whoopin' for being out of line, restriction for breaking the rules, hand cramps from writing "I will not..." a hundred times - whatever it takes, do it, because your child get's one go-round to get things right before having to learn in the School of Hard Knocks.
Personal experience speaks when telling you that tabasco sauce works. While we must report that the adult recidivism rate is fairly high, children do find the punishment very attention grabbing. The punishment for the crime? A drop of tabasco for every letter the bad word had.
Hence, !#$@#%^!@#$ was out of the question...
Why Colorado might fail the electoral college exam...
An underreported but ominous ballot initiative in Colorado may be the first real challenge to the electoral college system, and George Will gets out the big lumber to put the wood to the proposal.
Far be it from us to analyze George's analysis, but he's on the money. The electoral college mechanics - going through the rigamarole of choosing electors, etc. - those indeed are aged anachronisms. But the underlying principals of a federalist election based on the majorities in states is elegant, and has served this nation brilliantly. The people of the states vote, and the states choose the President.
Those decrying the 'undemocratic devaluation' of their vote because they live in a state that is solidly for one candidate or another need only examine the 1992 election, where a proportional representation model would have let the House of Representatives choose the President.
If that's not taking their vote and throwing it away, what is...
The assault weapons ban is about to expire, expect an increase in drive-by bayonetings...
Unless something happens - which in Congress in an election year would be an aberration - the poorly named 'assault weapons ban' will expire in a timely death, an example of law aimed at political appearance over practical benefit.
Few things generate more misunderstanding than what this ban actually is. Ask most folks who don't own a gun, or even many who do, if they think "assault weapons should be off the street", you'll get uniform agreement - because you've created a spiked question with "off the street", which intonates illicit possession, and because most people frankly don't know what this ban actually does.
Most people think the ban keeps the weapons the military uses, say an M-16 that is standard issue to US ground forces, "off the streets", which to the average citizen is likely to be seen under the aegis of a "machine gun". Well no, those were actually banned in the 30's when the Thompson machine gun got such a reputation for mayhem during the criminal sprees surrounding Prohibition.
In fact, this bill really aimed at appearances - those things that look like milspec gear. So - a rifle with a removable clip and a pistol grip is legal - but if you add a bayonet mount - that's right, as if during that bank heist the bad guys are going to yell "Fix bayonets!" and charge Fort Wagner - the same gun is illegal. Why? Well... because politicians wanted to be seen as "doing something" about gun crime.
A spokesman for U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth said of the ban "that gun violence, not gun ownership, should be the focus of legislation that affects our Second Amendment rights".
Amen, lady, and pass the ammo...
Hurricane hits Florida hard... and it's Bush's fault...
Hurricane Charley came ashore and hit central Florida hard, and now, the government is responding - or else.
Some of the questioning during the early hours seemed to blame Jeb Bush for not evacuating the entire state, lest someone be responsible for their own safety should the hurricane come ashore. Early predictions of a Tampa hit were off the mark, as the storm hit further south, and the Governor responded that those areas were indeed given evacuation orders.
When the President arrived, he was asked if there was a political component to his visit - what is he supposed to say to that? "Yes, I can't stand this state, but I need the votes so I better get down here" or "I couldn't get here fast enough after Cheney unveiled his secret hurricane machine and how it could make me look Presidential in a disaster situation"?
Much was learned after hurricane Andrew in 1992 - foremost was that before you fix the power, the housing, or the water, the first thing people normally want fixed is the blame...
Governor McGreevey is gay, cheated on his wife - that's the good news...
New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who announced his resignation on Thursday, attempted to frame his troubles and departure around his affair with another man, and his identity as a homosexual - an attempt to burn a fire break before the real inferno roils up.
McGreevey has been embattled lately for a myriad of reasons - from a brutal tax policy to election fundraising corruption. But the coming firestorm, apparently involving pending legal action from a former employee who McGreevey moved from position to position in an apparent bout of overt sexual cronyism, is what this resignation is about - not his affair, nor his sexuality.
McGreevey decided to set off this bomb in public so he could shape the effects, rather than have it go off and simply leave him as a casualty. While some have lauded his candor, this was a transparently self-serving move - he's painted himself as a tragic, sympathetic figure who has failed his wife, and grittily reveals his personal sexuality in full view of the public.
That is a crock.
McGreevey revealed these things not because of the weight on his conscience, but because they were about to be revealed for him. That is not forthrightness, that is calculated political massage.
This could be hard on George H.W. Bush's boy...
As two storms brew in the Atlantic with their eye (brilliant meteorological pun intended) on Florida, an impending natural disaster harkens back to a previous storm, and a previous Bush campaign.
While certainly in a stronger position than his father, President Bush has been running a similarly lackluster, directionless campaign, with poor communications from the White House and a squandered lead. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew came ashore in Florida, and then President George H.W. Bush's response drew criticism from Floridians and others which continued his campaign's death spiral.
It's too early to know the fortunes of what will occur in Florida - with Jeb Bush as governor, expect no official recriminations, and with the lesson learned prior, expect a pro-active response to Florida from the White House. But the weather has a mind of it's own, and with two storms, Bonnie and Charley (why resist the natural Clyde when naming this storm?), it just might be that another hurricane, with another Bush, may have another impact on a Presidential election.
Porter Goss in from the cold, on to the hot seat...
The President has nominated Congressman and former CIA employee Porter Goss to try and clean up the mess at Langley in the wake of the departure of George Tenet.
Democrat response has been mixed, though Florida's Bob Graham, a respected voice from the Democrat field in such matters, has given his fellow Floridian a warm appraisal. Anyone filling the very hot seat at CIA will be hard pressed to find universal acclaim.
Lost in the discussion of leading the CIA in the wake of bad WMD intelligence in Iraq and a failure to synthesize information to prevent 9/11 is that the CIA is an architectural dinosaur. This agency was born of the Cold War and built for decades to infiltrate, subvert, and provide internal security against, the Soviet Union. Everything about the agency and it's direction was based on assumptions of the enemy - everything from language to sureveillance techniques to satellite imaging were aimed at investigating and penetrating a large nation - not a shadowy group of terrorists. From tapping an undersea cable inside Soviet waters, to inserting NOC and recruiting agents, the CIA became a very effective tool, that became obsolete when our enemy changed from an enormous nation to a shoestring group with no ties to any particular region or resource base.
The greatest need at Langley is a major re-imagination of how the CIA is constructed in order to maintain current advantages in national espionage while developing the new resources and strategies that will allow for dealing with extra-national threats.
Right hand red, left foot yellow...
Financial buildings in New York and Washington were singled out for special scrutiny as the government released information that they have been cased for a possible terror attack.
This brought the usual burst of insanity from Howard Dean, who immediately insinuated that the threat was publicized for political purposes, the timing to coincide with... well, Kerry's crucial visit to Wisconsin? Kerry wisely distanced himself from such cockamamy notions.
The messenger just brings the message, he doesn't write it, nor time it, simply deliver it, but he often bears the brunt for it's contents... in this case, Tom Ridge and the DHS are, as has so often been explained, damned if they do, and if they do not. I am certain however that Secretary Ridge will find a more restful slumber knowing he said too much, rather than too little.
Some have decried Ridge and the DHS as the Boy Who Cried Wolf. It's important when making the accusation to remember the story, not just the moral - there indeed was a wolf...
Democrat shills focus on timer, not on bomb...
As the hamhanded theft of material from the National Archives by Sandy Berger unfolds, the feebly offered deflection defense accusing this information of being 'timed' in it's release is being parroted by the usual suspects - Carville, Lockhart, Begala, the usual flacks.
This time-dishonored tradition - when caught red handed and with no defense, accuse the accusers - ignores a few convenient facts. First, that Sandy Berger himself could have released the information to everyone - including the Kerry campaign, which might feel sucker-punched over this - and controlled the timing and tenor of the information himself. The information was bound to come out - proclamations that he thought it was going to be handled quietly and discretely intone that nobody would ever know, which is laughable. Berger should have leaked this information himself - which is inside-speak for coming clean in public.
The second component to the bogus indignation of timing is the facetious notion there would ever be a time when the information would come out and not be subject to the charge. Any later - and surely the tune would be the information was designed to disrupt the election, an October surprise. Any earlier, and it's an attempt to deflect attention from Abu Ghraib, or the 9/11 Commission hearings, or the Iraq handover, or the crisis in Fallujah... in other words, no time would be immune from the timing charge, which exposes it's fallacious foundation...
Rather than looking desperate to try and defend a man caught with more federal notes in his drawers than a Vegas stripper, Democrats should let the bomb go off - and just keep their distance from it...
Linda Ronstadt is Leaving Las Vegas, under escort...
Falling into the same treacherous waters as other entertainers, Linda Ronstadt decided that several thousand people who showed up for her concert in Las Vegas really wanted to hear her wax poetic about Michael Moore, resulting in scores of aggravated concert-goers and an escort from the premises.
Self importance really is an ugly thing, and the entertainment industry has a fatal dose of it. The only reciprocal example might be Linda calling the plumber, who instead of snaking out her commode decides to sing "Blue Bayou". Or going to dinner, and rather than the specials the waiter croons "You're No Good"... no one is particularly interested in hearing her politics. The hotel manager's response was pitch perfect.
Not leaving well enough alone, Ronstadt compounds her error by revealing herself to be a, well, intolerant jerk:
"It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know."
Well excuse the !$@! out of them, huh Linda?!?!
Remind us again - who is the party of intolerance? We lost our crib notes...
Does any industry operate like this? Does your waiter come to your table thinking "Damn, if I get another Libertarian it's going to ruin my day!" Does your gardener think "Maldiga, espero que yo no obtenga otro Demócrata!"
Looks like Linda hit the buffet before she left town...
Arnold wants you to hear him now, believe him later...
The Democrats in the legislature, immediately going into full victim mode, decried his remarks as "sexist and homophobic".
In other words, they reacted by acting like girly men...
First Plame outed, now Wilson outed as partisan hack...
An outstanding column in NRO reviews the overwrought Valerie Plame affair, and revisits the Niger/Iraq uranium link that was famously excoriated in the press after Bush remarked upon it in the State of the Union address.
The entire Plame affair has always been much ado about nothing. Wilson, with a flair for political overdramatization, used a Democrat party apparatus desperate to sieze on anything to bring the President down a notch or two, and used a media with the same goal but imbued with the always effervescent desire to "uncover" the truth in a heroic fashion, to perpetrate his own fairy tale version of events.
Wilson, so apparently entranced by his own vainglorious miasma, made it all about him - his wife was the target of a secret retaliatory strike for him having dared to "tell the truth" about Iraq and Niger (how heroic!), his selection for the mission never being related to his wife's position at CIA (apparently his savoir faire was what attracted others to choose him), and he only had touched the holy grail of truth in Niger.
Problem is, nearly everything he said was incorrect. First, his wife did recommend him for this mission - and that should end any speculation that Valerie Plame was some sort of vital deep cover NOC operating in CIA. What vital CIA asset would offer or allow her husband to go on a high-profile mission so easily traceable to her? It's preposterous on it's face. And it puts the further lie to the notion that somehow, a smear campaign was concocted that 'outed' her in order to get back at Wilson for daring to speak truth to power. Fact is, what Novak reported was right - administration officials were explaining why a partisan hack was doing such important work, and their only defense was - well, his wife at CIA involved in WMD said he'd be the perfect guy.
Insidious criminal intent? Or ass-covering? You be the judge...
Being treated like a King becoming the rule...
If you ever wondered what the light at the end of the tunnel was, it's a flashlight glaring down toward the sewer that has become modern political life.
Between Richard Riordan losing his mind and treating a 6-year old girl like a drunken patron at a Don Rickles concert, and the Hollywood left demonstrating their utter lack of class and common sense at the fundraiser from Hell, one has to wonder - are there any adults left in politics?
In California, someone needs to check Richard Riordan's prescription list - he's got some kind of imbalance. The governor is reluctant to fire a man who supported him and made his election easier - but there is no place in politics for anyone who lights off on a six-year-old girl, much less who is the Secretary of Education. Compounding the ignorance festival is the behavior of the NAACP - who of course launched into full frontal assault mode when they heard the little girl was named Isis and her mother named Trinity. Apparently, their conclusion that such names were certainly that of black Americans was wrong - the child is a young blonde white girl - and they dropped their mobilization effort, indicating treating children this way was acceptable for white kids.
The only person using any common sense appears to be the child's mother, who incredulously put the hypocrisy of the NAACP into perspective, and announced that as far as she's concerned, it's over with, no need to get a lawyer and "sue to pay her therapy bills".
That kind of common sense could have been used at the Democrat fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall, where the increasing radical left base of the Democrat party could, for a price, turn the Hall into the Radio City Echo Chamber. I'm not sure who is using who at this event - are the politicians using the stars for their money, or are the stars using the politicians to feel they actually matter in the realm of important things? Regardless, it's likely to be shown that the combination of moneyed Hollywood liberals and moneyed Washington liberals is the greatest show on earth. With vulgarities and insults aplenty, the Kerry campaign isn't releasing it's tape of the event, though expect either a contraband copy or pressure to mount to show what really happened.
If it was worth taping, it is worth viewing...
Don't you forget...
Bill Clinton's new book is getting mostly negative reviews, lines and gawkers in urban Democrat havens, and now comments from the subject of his most notable in-office foible - Monica Lewinsky.
Monica reminds us of what Bill Clinton doesn't - the immediate days around the story that broke on the Drudge Report during which the White House smeared, discredited, and otherwise pushed her under the bus. While Monica very charitably calls this "defending the Presidency", we won't mince words - it was a despicable attempt to destroy a young woman who represented a political cost in a calculation, no more and no less.
None of this is of course recounted in either of the Clintons' books - Hillary's or Bill's. For his part, Bill does remind us how focused he was on terrorism and Osama Bin Laden, apparently going so far as to look for Bin Laden in Monica Lewinsky's vagina...
Figuratively and literally...
Each piece is detailed and richly written. While not forgiving Hitchens for his ill-considered article on Reagan, he does an admirable job exposing Moore for what he is - a propagandist. Sullivan for his part gets to the heart of Clinton's reticence to own his faults and misdeeds.
We won't be providing our own reviews - Moore's work merits precious little attention, and Clinton's book has been resoundingly panned, and with 900+ pages, demonstrates the maxim that volume is no substitute for substance.
The Times uses Reagan for shoot and scoot cover...
Approaching ignorable status, the NY Times still can't find any real connections between Reagan and American resurgence in the world, but does see Reagan as their anti-NRA champion.
I don't recall seeing the Times Editor at the Reagan ceremony in Calfornia, but I do recall seeing Charlton Heston...
The Times piece, conventiently prepared for cagelining here, is a cornucopia of mistatements about gun control. We particularly enjoyed the fearmongering rhetoric of "bullet-spraying semi-automatics" - a semi-automatic requires one trigger pull for each round discharged, they clearly are attempting to conflate automatic weapons, banned in the days of Prohibition - as well as the appeal to mercy of "proven, life-saving provisions" - a claim utterly specious and logically fallacious. Unless the Times has data on how many drive-by bayonetings have been prevented...
Reagan did support the Brady Bill, and so do we - background checks just make good sense, and with technology, these checks are normally instant, adding accountability to the gun sale and reasonableness to gun laws. But Reagan also penned a very profound essay on the role of firearms in American life, including an impassioned defense of gun ownership as a check against government tyranny. Something the Times surely cannot possibly imagine...
The Times might actually stumble upon the real Reagan, if they stopped looking for him in their own mirror...
Only the NY Times can connect OJ Simpson and Ronald Reagan...
In a move only the NY Times could make, columnist Frank Rich manages to find a nexus between OJ Simpson and Ronald Reagan, via televised coverage.
(And no, we aren't linking it, because it isn't really worth your reading, though those with a fair amount of intrepidity and strong stomach can certainly navigate the NY Times site to find it)
No, the Times can't find the connection between Reagan and victory against Communism, can't find the connection between reduced taxes and reform and economic growth, can't find the connection between Reagan's unabashed optimism and America's two decades of resurgence - no, the Times only sees OJ's white Ford Bronco in the Reagan funeral motorcade.
It takes real effort to conflate such things, to warp reality around a mindset. Kudos...
What Reagan's passing means for the outlook of America...
In a life filled with meaning, and one that defined the modern Republican party, Ronald Reagan has bestowed a few last gifts to the causes for which he fought for so long.
Modern America has a very short memory. Few recall the antipathy directed at Reagan by his opponents, against his stalwart opposition to the Soviet Union and his refusal of accomodation, toward his moral clarity, toward his willingness to confront evil by calling it it's own name. This week, we are reminded what he stood for, and fought for, and accomplished, despite catcalls of opposition, fear and compunction - standing for what was right, unwaveringly, did more to achieve victory in the Cold War for the side of freedom and liberty than lifetimes of accomodation ever could dream.
Reagan's words come home like truth - and his optimism about human dignity and freedom, his unwavering belief in the native goodness of the United States and it's people, has been seen this week during a time of trouble, a time of uncertainty, and of political bitterness. As America seems unsure, his passing has come at the right time, for when better to hear his words of hope, of certainty of the dawn to come even in the darkest hours, of belief in America's destiny to be a great country, a beacon lit and not to be extinguished.
America needed to hear these words again, and now, and not from someone in power or seeking it, but from someone who took America through the final throes of a long journey in a bitter peace and cold war, and with his confidence, sustained the American people to overcome and achieve. Expect his overwhelming optimism to inspire Americans to embrace the current growing economy, to embolden it's resolve against terror, and to see brighly the reflection of America that Reagan always, unwaveringly saw with his own eyes.
Expect to see a subtle but notable change in the American outlook, for the near future. Expect a change in right track/wrong track, a change in consumer confidence, a change in approval of the current President. This is Reagan's last act as a Republican - to in his death remind his party where it has come from, what it has stood for, and that perserverance in the face of adversity is rewarded when the cause is right, and just. And as an American - to remind the nation of it's calling, and of it's destiny.
There is no doubt that as Reagan completes his final journey, he will be welcomed by a loving God, in who's arms a decent and humble man need not feel unworthy. He also joins the heavenly halls of the greatest fathers and defenders of this nation, of Lincoln... Washington... Roosevelt... and in whose renowned and mighty company he will be embraced with great ovation.
As You Were. As I want you to be. As a friend. As an old enemy...
Some have noted that those passing through the capital rotunda to pay their respects to Ronald Reagan aren't observing a strict dress code.
Reagan was a stickler for formality in the Oval Office, but never refused an outstretched hand of welcome from any American. Part of knowing what was important, and what wasn't, grounded Reagan, and you can be sure he appreciated so many wishing him well on his last departure from public life. No jacket required.
Got Reagan on my money and my money on my mind...
There is a notion abounding to honor the recently passed President with his visage on prominent American currency.
We like the idea - within reason. Not on the $1 nor the $5 - Washington and Lincoln already got gipped when their birthdays were merged. But the $10 and $20 - Hamilton and Jackson are figures less prominent than the times that have since gone by.
Allow this space to be recorded as the first place to note that the new bill, whatever it's denomination, will be called a 'gipper'.
Tenet is out... but who is in? And yes we know how to spell tentative...
CIA Director George Tenet is finally leaving office - none too soon for some.
Tenet has been long predicted to be released from office on numerous occassions - 9/11, State of the Union flap, Iraq WMD, ad infinitum. The political chattering classes have of course much to say, but little worth hearing, on the subject. From the beginning of a domino of resignations, to being 'pushed out', to the 'real reasons' he's retiring now, all is an attempt to substitute the frame for the picture.
Frankly, Tenet is likely leaving during a lull in a continuous storm - there will always be something on the horizon, some reason to claim he's getting out while the gettings good. So with WMD behind him, and 9/11 reports ahead of him, now is the time to hit the road.
Replacement mentions quickly turned to Porter Goss, retiring from the Congress and former CIA agent himself. But don't be surprised if the name Giuliani starts to pop up for this and other post vacancies that arise. Giuliani could use the national exposure and work on his resume for 2008...
The current generation fails to learn the lessons of the greatest generation...
Long a pet peeve, US students show a stunning lack of knowledge about the most formative event of the last 100 years - the Second World War.
It's somewhat unfair to criticize solely the current generation - in offices around the nation, one could ask the simple "Name three countries the US fought in World War Two" and for the most part is unlikely to hear two out of three correct answers, at least not without an avalanche of wrong answers preceding. GenX is hardly more enlightened than GenNext.
What they do appear to be learning about World War Two are social aspects - segregation of the armed forces, Japanese internment camps, and gender worplace integration. While certainly germaine to the discussion, they most certainly are ancillary to the War itself.
World War Two holds valuable lessons, but only if taught. Where is the emphasis on national socialism? On appeasement? Do today's students know that but for the appeasement of Germany, some perhaps 35+ million people may not have perished? Do they understand the context of peace at any price, of "peace in our time"? Do they understand unconditional surrender and the Allies insistence upon it? But for that, would there still be a Nazi government in Germany, a military oligarchy in Imperial Japan? Do they know about Roosevelt's insistence on helping the Allies despite domestic pressure? Do they know the full context of the politics of the war?
Lessons paid at so high a price must be taught, it is far too soon for them to be forgotten.
World worries about regional instability... the region being under Al Gore's hat...
Former Vice President Al Gore continued to uncork at a moveon.org function in New York. The picture is priceless.
It's been a long journey for Al, from a conservative pro-life Senator from a conservative state like Tennessee to a maniacly ranting fringe left also-ran from a liberal state of dementia.
Gore signed his political death certificate when he didn't have the brass tacks to run against Bush again, and has continued to slide off the planet ever since. There was a time Gore could at least fatuously claim that he was the guy who should have won the 2000 election. Running in 2004 and getting beaten would remove the bloom from that plastic rose, so he stayed out, instead giving an early endorsement to the equally paroxysmatic Howard Dean. As his candidacy and relavancy become more bygone, Gore's rhetoric and mannerisms become more fevered with every display.
An interesting question will be his speaking arrangements at the Democrat National Convention. At the current rate, Gore is going to be wheeled out on a dolly wearing a straightjacket and Hannibal Lecter face restraint...
The poster child for avoiding government run health care at any cost...
A Utah woman has finally had hear skull re-attached, after waiting four months for the surgery. This is not a joke.
One of the frequent points made by those opposing a government run system are the long waits for elective and non-emergency surgery in countries with government-managed health care. If an article like this doesn't bring home what that future will look like here, it should.
But didn't this happen here? Yeah... with Medicaid, which is... government-managed health care.
Solving the high costs of care in this country requires addressing the undergirding cost factors - paperwork and process, ridiculous litigation, regulatory overload, pharamaceuticals cost subsidized by the open US market - and not by looking for Uncle Sugar's deep pockets.
We're from the government, and we're here to help you by deciding when and how we can re-attach your skull...