Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito, SOTU, and Cindy Does it Again

Today was one of those whirlwind political event days where we were treated to the confirmation vote of now Justice Samuel Alito(only the 110th in our nation's history, second most select company behind the Presidency) and the State of the Union address. I really have very little to say since I happen to believe such speeches are political spectacles and not actual policymaking events. I guess that is me being cynical.

Alito

I was glad to see Samuel Alito confirmed. I think he is a level headed judge who will practice restraint and interpret laws based on what the Constitution actually says. I think he has proper respect for precedent but will not be bound if a case opens the door for interpreting law in a different light. Regardless of what the Democrats think, I do not believe Alito will bring minorities and women in submission to white male power nor do I think he is set to hand President Bush a license to run a dicatatorship. Yes he and Roberts are conservative, but that's what happens when you win elections; you get to choose people of similar ideology to serve in such capacticies. Besides, at some point a Democrat will get elected and nominate a liberal which will keep the court fairly balanced.

I did find it interesting that for all the talk over the past six months about how weak the President was politically with sub-50 approval ratings and various storms brewing in and around the White House, his Administration did manage to get a conservative judge confirmed to the court by a decent margin. Either the President is not was weak as we think or the Democrats are even worse off that the President.

SOTU

I watched the speech because I enjoy the pomp and historical signifigance. I thought it was a good speech for Bush in terms of oratory. I always approach such speeches cynically even thought I support Bush for the most part. The high points for me were: permanant tax cuts, reducing the deficit(especially line item veto), tough stance on terrorism, Iran, and the war in Iraq, and the Social Security commission(though we all know these kinds of things always go nowhere). The low points were any and all education initiatives, healthcare initiatives, and the energy plan. I do think education is important but how much money are we going to pour into it and still watch the public schools get worse. Also, I think healthcare is important but again how much money is the Federal government going to hand out on this issue. I agree with the oil dependency line, but suggesting ethanol which is not an adequate alternative is silly and pretty much a throwaway line just so everyone can cheer about ending the oil dependency.

I did not see the Democratic response which was given by newly sworn-in Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. I choosing a state level Democrat is telling. One, he is a young and fresh face to most Americans which makes him more captivating and he is from Virginia, a Bush state, which means he is likely to be a moderate Democrat. Secondly, I think Democrats in Congress, particularly ones in the Senate have almost no credibility at this point, especially after the Alito confirmation. The Democrats know if they trot out the same troupe of politicians who have been seen so many times, it is an immediate turn off to the viewer. This was a fairly smart move for the Democrats.

Cindy Sheehan

As it turns out, putting Tim Kaine up there was the only smart move the Democrats had all night. Cindy Sheehan, anti-war protester and thug dicatator sympathizer, was given a gallery pass by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, of--wait for it--California! Of course Sheehan could not pass up such a monumental opportunity to make a complete fool of herself by getting arrested for revealing an anti-war slogan on a T-shirt she had on under her coat. Protests and shirts with such messages are forbidden inside the House chamber and after being warned she refused to answer and was subsequently arrested.

Once again, I am sorry this woman lost her son, but she is way, way past the point where that is even relevant to the kinds of things she does now. I honestly think her fifteen minutes are up, but no one else seems to agree. Also, I wonder where she is getting her PR or political advice from. The best thing she could have done was stay in her seat because the networks would have put her on the air probably five times during the speech. I mean they showed Hilary Clinton at least that many times, so I can assume Sheehan would have gotten the royal treatment from ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN. Instead of sitting tight and being a presence in the room, a reminder of what she stands for and a counterpoint to Bush's message on the war, she becomes a news blurb and a mockery. Not that I mind, because I have absolutely no respect for this woman and I think she is expoiting her son's honorable sacrifice for this nation and she is allowing herself to be used by some of the worst elements of the Democratic party. She just does not seem to get that while support for the war is spilt in this country, I find most people think what she does crosses the line between respectful disagreement and outright hatred against the nation itself.

So to sum up: Alito=Good. Bush speech=Mix bag of nuts, which means I like the peanuts and cashews, but not so crazy about the almonds. Cindy Sheehan=Clueless and at this point somewhat pitiful. Which means I hope she does run for Senate because the entertainment vaule would be fabulous.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Parody News Article of the Week

Bush to Skip State of the Union

White House: Will Focus on Shredding the Constitution Instead

Washington(THC)-The White House has announced that President George W. Bush will skip tommorrow night's annual State of the Union address in an effort to keep with current Administration plans to "shred the Constitution"

"It became clear to us that we should do more than simply focus on the Bill of Rights," said White House Press Secratary Scott McCellan. "The feeling among many of the President's advisers was that we needed to discard as many Constitutional provisions as possible. This one was seen as fairly important because the last thing you want in a facist regime is a leader revealing information on the state of the country."

The U.S. Constitution requires the President to address Congress as to "information of the State of the Union." McCellan indicated that since the White House was already destroying so many other portions of the nation's founding document Bush decided to ignore the requirement. Bush advisers hopes this will hasten the decline of the United States into a corporation-run facist regime bent on oil conquest, subjagting minorities, and killing puppies.

"The President has made it clear that we should not rest until each and every Constitutional provision is stricken down in favor of what his father referred to as the 'new world order.'" McCellan said.

Opponents of President Bush, who have long been critical of the Administration on issues such as the Patriot Act and the recently exposed NSA domestic spying program, were alarmed at this particularly radical move by Bush officials.

"This is just another stunning example of the Bush Crime Family's repeated crimes against the US Constitution and the American people - crimes that are dissolving this nation's 230-year-old attempt at self-government." said Air America Radio personality Mike Malloy.*

In the Senate, Democrats also cited the nomination and inevtiable confirmation of appeals court judge Samuel Alito as clear evidence that Constitutional rights such as "the right to an abortion" and "the right to filibuster judicial nominees" were under direct assault from conservatives. Bush officials brushed aside such criticism saying their overall plan called for the revocation of non-existent Constitutional rights first which should make discarding the actual written ones a little easier. As for the nomination of Alito, one high ranking Bush adviser pointed to the liberal model for jurisprudence.

"If we learned anything at all from the Democrats, it is that the courts really make destroying a 217 year old document much easier to accomplish. Besides there is only so much Congress is willing to do on its own."

As for the usual opposition response, network presidents have offered the full two hours to the Democrats. Party officials gave early indications that Sens John Kerry, Joseph Biden, and Hillary Clinton have accepted the offer and will engage in a spirited effort to outflank each other as they attempt to kowtow to the far left fringe of their party.

*Actual quote from Air America website just to show that the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction(or fits right in).

Copyright, 2006





Saturday, January 28, 2006

Clinton Loves a Good Filibuster

Senator Hillary Clinton(D-NY) has announced her support for a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Clinton seems to believe that Alito does not "advance the principles of Americans" blah-blah-blah.

This is a fairly transperent move on Clinton's part, so much so that even the NY Post article indicates it is an appeal to her liberal base. John Kerry has already been here and this ploy by Clinton is intended to keep herself from being outflanked on the left by other potential opponents in the 2008 Democratic primary. In short, Clinton needs to reassure the folks over as Kos and Air America that she has not gone off to live in Centristville. She needs to pick an issue here or there to show her liberal bona fides and since this issue is pretty much decided, she can appease that particular bloc in her own party by jumping on board with a radical albeit futile opposition to Alito.

And here I was think we were only in 2006.

Senator Sheehan?

Cindy Sheehan is now mulling a run for the U.S. Senate in her home state of California. Sheehan is considering challenging Dianne Feinstein, for her vote on the war and her failure to call for immediate withdrawal.

Not that I think this would happen, nor do I believe she would win, but this would be nothing but pure hijinks and embarassment for Democrats on a daily basis(or every time she opens her mouth, whichever comes first) And this coming from a woman who is currently in Venezulua and said she supported Hugo Chavez's "resolve against my government"

Maybe it's just me, but I do not think people who take the side of a foreign government against us should be U.S. Senators.

Friday, January 27, 2006

John Kerry is Clueless

Former Democratic Presidential candidate and current Massachusetts junior Senator John Kerry has called for a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Of course the strange part of this story is that he did not make this announcement from the floor of the Senate but from Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. Even stranger than that is according to all of the head counts currently made public there are not enough vote to sustain the filibuster. According to ABC News, 52 Republicans and 3 Democrats have signaled an intention to vote for Alito. Outside of that, another five senators have stated they would not support a filibuster. In fact, Democractic Minority Leader, Harry Reid is even on record as saying the votes are not there for this manuver to succeed.

So how does Kerry benefit from proposing a filibuster which will be defeated on the very first cloture motion? This is clearly a move to seek favor from the far left elements of his own party.

John Kerry has not ruled out a second run for the Presidency in two years and he may be attempting to cobble together a support base ahead of the Democratic primary season which essentially starts in earnest in 2007. This line of thinking, coupled with his recent appearance on the liberal blog The Daily Kos makes it appear as if Kerry is attempting to establish himself a bloc of support on the far left of the party. It is clear that Hillary Clinton has moved to moderate herself(probably feeling that the far left is a shoo in for her no matter what) and felt it necessary to stay flexible on her positions in order to make the transition to a general election a tad easier. Of course Clinton has to worry about re-election to the Senate in New York, which is no small feat. Kerry on the other hand has plenty of time coalesce some kind of base which will support him in a Democratic primary. Some of the Kos Kids as well as The New York Times have called for a filibuster on the grounds that Alito is too extreme for America. Kerry seems to be merely answering that call, if only symbolically, to garner the support of these entities and others. This kind of ploy is also fundraising paydirt and may simply be an effort to stir up donors to give to the party so they can win elections and prevent these kinds of "radical conservative appointments" from occurring. Wow! What a novel idea! Actually governing by winning elections outright instead of by name calling and obstructionism!

One final point Kerry must have missed is that many of the on-the-fence "Red State" Democrats may be leaning to confirm since there is now sufficient political cover to entertain such votes. If it was down to the wire on the vote for cloture or even confirmation some of these Democrats from conservative states would be under tremendous pressure to either buck the party and enrage the voters at home or vice versa. Now that no such pressures exist, I expect some of those undeclared votes to follow the poll numbers of their respective state, much like Democratic Senator Robert Byrd did when he realized that West Virginians largely favored Alito.
Kerry, on the other hand is only worried about one constiuency: himself.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The West Wing: Martin Sheen's Personal Soapbox

During my brief sickness I viewed Sunday night's episode of The West Wing which I had on tape. I enjoy TWW for the process it shows not so much the politics since everyone on there is unabashedly liberal. This episode was even more so as we were treated to a nuclear accident in California which illustrated two issues:

1. How a President is supposed to run a disaster. In this case by taking full charge of the operation, listening to all the advice of the experts and making all the decisions right down to asking whether or not the Red Cross had anti-radiation medicine available. President Bartlet(Martin Sheen) also crushed all state and local resistance to evacuation plans from the get go and basically steamrolled them in assuming control of the disaster. It was clearly aimed at Bush as a criticism of his role in the Katrina disaster. I also think they were not totally wrong in having the President play such a take charge role in overseeing the Federal response. Of course in TWW-World, many of the standard rules of reality are left out for the sake of dramatic effect. During the Katrina disaster there were a variety of state and local issues, including the total buffonery of LA Governor Kathleen "$500,000 Office Remodeling While My Constituents are Homeless" Blanco and New Orleans Ray "Chocolate City" Nagin. The action or rather inaction of both of these figures complicated the response effort. Yes, FEMA Director Michael Brown was also a buffoon, and yes, Bush should have returned to D.C. from Texas, but the situation was not as clear cut as TWW's nuclear disaster. In the case of nuclear accidents, the Nuclear Regulartory Commission can take control of the plant and shut out all other entities.

2. The show was vehemently anti-nuclear to the point of intellectual dishonesty. Though I would need to research it, I am pretty sure Martin Sheen is rabidly anti-nuclear power. The Republican Presidential candiate on the show, Arnie Vinick, Senator from California(played by Alan Alda) stated in the debate episode that nuclear power was completly safe and even lobbied for the opening of the plant in question 25 years prior. Bartlet was adamant about the horrors of nuclear power, as was Democractic candidate Matt Santos and his people even to the point that Press Spokesperson Donna Moss asks the totally asinine question: Why do they put these plants near population centers? Bartlet channels Martin Sheen at one point and rails about how pumping a nuclear reaction 20 times more powerful than the bombs that hit Japan can in no way be safe. He rails against the failures of Federal regulations and how much damage an accident can cause.

Now, I live 20 miles from a nuclear power plant and if there was an accident and the wind is blowing northeast, I might have a problem there. Then again, I cannot think of the last time I thought about that plant, except when I went fishing there with a friend some 13 years ago. In the history of nuclear power there have been two accidents: Three Mile Island in PA and Chernobyl in Russia. I tend to take Chernobyl from the equation given the state of things in the USSR such as lack of funding, which I do not believe are reflected here in the U.S. In the case of Three Mile Island, the core actually experienced a partial meltdown which was contained. The crisis went on for about four days and at one point pressured radioactive steam was released from the auxillary building(something which also happened on TWW). Eventual testing showed, that despite releases of radiation into the atomosphere, 2 million people in the area received about 1 millerem of exposure or about 1/6 of the amount one gets from an x-ray. There were no long term effect found from the accident even though there was an actual meltdown.

Where TWW erred, in my opinion, is presenting a nuclear accident in such horrific terms as though the world were coming to an end. Barlet at one point speaks of the potential for a whole generation of children with thyroid cancer. Basically it was classic fear mongering to advance a political/environmental agenda. I think all energy sources have problems. Coal and oil produces serious pollution and recent news has reminded us that those who work to produce these particular sources routinely die in their work. Solar and wind are too costly to produce and not that reliable. Geo-thermal and hyro-electric only works in certain area. Nuclear, while emissions free, is riskier in nature and there is an issue of nuclear waste which cannot be negated in a reasonable debate. In other words there are no easy answer so please dispense with the pointless scare tactics.

So to sum up, The West Wing, should stop trying to hock Martin Sheen's personal political leanings. They should also be a bit more realistic in there election story since I am not sure all the states which were firmly Vinick states would necessarily jump ship over an issue like this. The episode was about peddling fear over nuclear power and it was done so without an ounce of intellectual honesty or consistency.

Update: I was talking to a friend last night who pointed out that European countries have been using nuclear power for much longer than the U.S. and have not had any major accidents either lending more anectdotal evidence to the idea that it is a relatively safe source of power.

Out from Under the Weather

Two days of sickness kept me from my computer and seeing much news, here is a rundown on what I picked up thus far today:

Samuel Alito seems to be heading towards confirmation with a tinge of Democratic support. Robert Byrd(WV-D) and Tim Johnson(SD-D) are going to vote yes and Joe Lieberman(CT-D) is voting no which can be translated as follows:

"I need to get reelected in my home state and poll numbers there seem to show that my constituents approve/disapprove of Alito, so I better appease them if I want six more years"

--

I saw some of the Senate debate(if you can call it that, I call it monologues designed to either praise or bash the nominee) on C-SPAN2 during my incapacitation. Democrats keep talking about how Alito has ruled against the "little man"

I am wondering if this is the same "little man" which Democrat-leaning unions like the AFL-CIO are supposed to be protecting only to have their kickback enriched leaders call for a strike which deprives the actual workers of income while they use their exessive union dues to fund Democratic causes in election years and fill the pocket of crooked individuals.

I also wonder if it is the same "little man" that race baiting by people like Ray Nagin and pandering by Hilary Clinton has kept down as they pursue programs like affirmative action, a welfare state, and chocolate cities.

Just wondering.

--

I am also wondering what this "mainstream" Democrats keep going on about and how it is that a party which is in the minority in Congress and out of the White House gets to define the "mainstream." If being against abortion is "out of the mainstream" then I know many people who fit that characterization. Of course I also remember that perhaps the Left does control the definition of the "mainstream" since they do control most of what is produced on television.

--

Oprah Winfrey apparently decided that truth was, well, the truth and rightfully condemned author James Frey for his outrageously embelish--er--fictional account of his alleged travails with drugs, booze, and the criminal justice system. Frey has also admitted that the report on the thesmokinggun.com website is "mostly true." Of course this does not come without an excuse according to Frey he used the lies as a "coping mechanism." Whatever dude.

On the other side of the issue, this kind of news that Oprah Winfrey was "duped" as she said has to come as a shocking, perhaps life altering missive to many of her followers. This is another preening example of how everything this woman spouts is taken as gospel truth by millions of people. This kind of revelation must be like a seisemic shockwave in their belief system. Especially if this spoof news article at The Onion contains any truth(and most good humor does)

Monday, January 23, 2006

More Belafonte

Via the Washington Post, Harry Belafonte continued his flight from reality with this statement in a speech at the Arts Presenters Members Conference:

"We've come to this dark time in which the new Gestapo of Homeland Security lurks here, where citizens are having their rights suspended,"

"You can be arrested and not charged. You can be arrested and have no right to counsel,"


I am waiting for someone on the left to stand up and condemn Belafonte for his persistence in making such intellectually dishonest statements. Citizen having their rights suspended? Homeland Security is equivalent to the Nazi Gestapo? People are arrested with no rights to counsel? Since 9/11 I am aware of once case where an American citizen was treated in this manner and it was Jose Padilla, who has been accused of plotting to set off a bomb. He was declared an enemy combatant and held without charges for three years and recently was transferred to court and indicted. Yes this was a grave miscarriage of justice but on the other hand this is one incident. There are no other documented cases of goverment agents behaving in the manner Belafonte describes nor are there rampant cases of U.S. citizens being deprived the rights granted to them by the Consitution.

Some on the left say facism is running rampant and we have entered a dark time where the U.S. Constitution is in shreds and that the Republic is at an end. Sorry, you are going to have to show me some proof on this issue and not the rantings of virulent hatred from an irrelavant man.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Michael Schiavo Remarries

Not that this was a surprise nor should he be looked at negatively, but Michael Schiavo married his longtime girlfriend, Jodi Centonze a little over 10 months following his first wife, Terri Schiavo's death last march.

I can imagine one of the first things he will do is get dear Jodi to sign off on a living will and DNR order, complete with signatures from her whole family as well as sign affadavits that they are aware of her wishes.

Gratuitous Duke Bashing

Duke finally lost Saturday 87-84 to Georgetown at the MCI Center in D.C. Here is J.J. Redick at the conclusion of the game when Duke turned the ball over before getting a shot off.













Microphones near the court picked up this from J.J.:

Oh come on ref! He had to be within a foot of me! You know the rules: Any defender who comes within 12 inches of me is called for a foul! Obviously you did not attend Coach K's referee orientation prior to the game. He will be waiting in the dressing room to plunge his hand into you chest and pull you beating heart from it. That'll teach ya. Now if you will excuse me, it is time for me to go write a poem.

On the brighter side, North Carolina topped Florida State in a nailbiter in Tallahasse: 81-80.

Friday, January 20, 2006

First Tobacco, Now Junk food

Over the past few years there have been various attempts to attack fast food and junk food in general for spread of obesity in America. The latest salvo in the war on junk food comes from the Center for Science in the Public Interest who is threatening to sue Kellog's and Viacom(owner of Nickelodeon and Spongebob Squarepants) for advertising junk food to children. The vehicle for the potential lawsuit, which would be filed in the Massachusetts(no surprise there!), is Sherri Carlson, a mother of three children who said:

Are Pop Tarts and Fruit Loops really part of a nutritious breakfast as they claim in their ads? I think not.

While that may be true to some extent, I would like Sherri to tell me who does the grocery shopping and feeds the kids in her house? Are her children going down to the store and buying Pop Tarts on their own? Are they having a tantrum because they see the commercials and demand the food be bought? No matter what the case, if this woman is doing her due diligence as a mother, who cares if the kids watch 30 minute informercials on the great taste of sugar cereals, the decision whether they get that kind of food or not lies with her or her husband(if there is one) This is another case where personal responsibility has been abdicated and we have some parent screaming, "It is not my fault the children eat junk food, it is the evil corporation advertising to my impressionable children!" No, Sherri, it is your job to teach your children how to eat healthy, it is your job to make sure they get the rights kinds of food, and it is also your job to make sure they do not spend so much time in front of the television.

My advice to Sherri Carlson is to buck up and be a responsible parent instead of attempting to the government and courts to do it for you. I have two children and my job as a parent is not dependent on how much evil the world puts in front of my children. My job as a parent is about guarding them from that evil by giving them the tools to make the right decisions, and until they are old enough to make those decisions on their own, I will make it for them. I also establish control over them and establish rules to govern their behavior so they can learn how to function in the world. Contrary to what Hilary Clinton may think it does not take a village to raise a child...an idiot maybe...but not a child. That role is vested with the parents alone.

Side Note: Sherri Carlson is also wrong in her assertion that Kellog's is advertising their products to be a nutritious breakfast, which would indeed be false advertising. The line that is always used is "part of a nurtitious breakfast" which a show of the ceral or Pop Tart next to fruits, eggs, toast, and juice. This further lends to the idea that it is the parent's responsibility to not just give them a Pop Tart eat but augment that which healthy food as well.

Update

Boston.com had a more detailed article which among other things shows CSPI to be a serial purveyor of frivolous lawsuits. Pertaining to the current attack on junk for, here is an excerpt:

Jacobson said parents have primary responsibility for making sure their children eat healthy foods, but he said they need help.

''They need some protection from these predators," he[Michael Jacsobson] said. ''What kid isn't going to fall victim to this advertising and demand they eat the products. Maybe the parent will say no the first time or the first 20 times, but they don't want to always be saying no to their children."

Sherri Carlson, a Wakefield mother of three, said she agreed to be a plaintiff in the case because her children watch television and routinely ask for the junk foods they see advertised.

''I try to be firm, but I do have to compromise a lot and make exceptions," she said. ''I try to make unhealthy foods a treat rather than part of a regular diet."

Actually I think the less help we get from the government on raising our kids the better, just look at public schools. Anyway, the big problem here is that they are afraid parents are made out to be bad guys for saying no too much? Again, it is the responsibility of the parent to take whatever course of action necessary to protect your children. Filing a lawsuit against a coroporation for advertising in the free market just because you do not want your child to see junk food advertised and in turn put you in the position to say "no" to them is so absurd it hurts. And for CSPI director Michael Jacobson to assert the parents do not always want to be saying no to their children flies in the face of common sense. If my child asks 20 times to go play in the street I will say no each time. Should I get to sue the city and state to bar traffic from coming onto my street so I can say yes sometimes so my children can play in the street? Of course not, it is stupid and people like this need to spend there time and resources actually addressing these problems instead of tying up the courts in an effort to gain goverment control over personal aspects of people's lives.

As for Sherri Carlson? Well cry me a river! That is how kids are and if you do not like them watching commercials then turn off the television or have them watch DVDs or at the very least suck it up and do some actual parenting. Having been a parent over three years now I can safely say the more times I say "no" the better off my children will be as they grow up.

Sources:

WIStv
Michelle Malkin
Boston.com

Thursday, January 19, 2006

He's Baaaaaaacccckkkkk!!!!

Osama Bin Laden surfaced from some barren cave on the Pakistan border with his Sony tape recorder and offers us an oral taunting today(sorry no pictures lest the CIA or FBI pick up on some clue, thanks to the media for telling the world about that tactic too!) Anyway, Osama offered a truce in respect to Iraq and Afghanistan since the evil Bush is fighting an unpopular war in an effort to fill the coffers of war profiteers in America. Wait a minute, I think I read that on Al Franken's blog, must be a coincindence. He also said that if Bush continues his "lies and oppression" then we should apologize to innocent victims of the war and the promise to never interfere in the world again. Seems like I read that on a liberal blog somewhere too. These are not good idealogical bedfellows the Left currently finds themselves on the same page with now is it? Osama even went as far as to cite polls in America and tauted the struggles Bush has had in maintaining high levels of support for the war effort which I think tends to lend some credence to the idea that some of the criticism from the Left does indeed serve the enemy and more care should be taken to couch those criticisms properly. The terror leader also indicated that the reasons there have not been any attacks on the U.S. mainland is because they were simply preparing and not due to any particular actions the Federal government has taken to prevent those attacks.

What does it all mean:

1. I think the fact he came out and provided some sort of explanation about the lack of direct attacks on America speaks volumes. I happen to believe that the current defense posture has everything to do with the lack of attacks and Osama, in his need to rationalize it in his favor is either completely delusional or answering criticisms from among his own camp. Anytime a person attempts to rationalize something like this it is pretty clear the opposite of what they say is true. The U.S. has done an excellent job of keeping the homeland safe and the war in Iraq has also centered terrorism elsewhere.

2. The fact that Osama says things which are strikingly similar to the rhetoric of Cindy Sheehan and the like is chilling. Of course I will not go as far as to call Liberals traitors and anti-American for their views(though some of them do not hesitate to do the same in reverse) I think Osama is picking up on the flow of Bush hatred and using that in his own speeches to form some kind of idealogical commonality. Some of the common themes found in most of the speeches given by people like Cindy Sheehan, Harry Belfonte, and any contributor at the Daily Kos are:

A. Bush lied
B. Bush is oppressing people
C. The war is being fought to enrich American corporations
D. Bush is fighting an unpopular war from which we should withdraw immediately

The similarities are unmistakable and it illustrates the necessity of carefully crafting criticisms of the war as not to provide people like Osama with ammunition to use against us is messages like this. Dissent is fine, but the virulent rhetoric of the Left is now being displayed by the #1 enemy of the State. It is clear that rhetoric needs to change to a more productive tone which address the real issues not spew more hatred at Bush

3. Osama is still alive, though I think the choice of audio denotes two things: The first is he wants to provide as few clues as possible about his location and video tends to provide such clues. Secondly his health may not be good and any video would show that he may not be up to par which could give the impression he may die soon.

4. The truce offer was intended to have multiple effects. One is that it moderates his position in the Arab world. He points to both Iraq and Afgahnistan as placed to be rebuilt which seemingly show his concern that these two countries rise to their feet again acting as though he cares for those countries. He also knows the U.S. will reject any offer that does not include his head on a platter so he can only gain from a PR standpoint by offering it. Of course I also think that a person who, on one hand boasts, about certain victory and unstoppable attacks, then offers a truce must be in a poor tactical position. If his side will win no matter what, then why offer any truce, why not step up and carry out said attacks or step up the insurgency to hasten the U.S. defeat? The simple answer is that things are not going as well as he thinks or projects. This is all part of a game of deception intended to further shake the Arab world and make them less trustful of the U.S.

If nothing else, Osama continues to show himself to be a masterful player in this game. However I also think that is about as much as he is capable of doing at this point. While he bloviates about being able to easily overcome our defenses and how preparations are ongoing, real facts show that we are regularly killing their top leaders and plan after plan is foiled or at least the ones they publicly release to us, there may be others we are not told about for obvious reasons. I think the best thing we can take from hearing Osama again is to remember 9/11 and stay focused on the task at hand and continue to battle those who hates to create a more secure America.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Letter to Harry Belafonte

Dear Mr. Belafonte,

While I can only speak for myself, I must tell you I am constantly disturbed by many of your recent public statements. A few years ago I dismissed your overtly racist remarks in calling Condelezza Rice and Colin Powell "house slaves" as the rantings of a bitter liberal despite the absolute hatred you appear to be showing members of your own race, hatred that even many whites do not cast in their direction. And a few weeks ago I brushed off the ludicrous statement that President Bush was the world's greatest terrorist while standing next to a man, Hugo Chavez, who is nothing more than a two-bit thug dictator. However your last statement made in my own backyard at Duke University requires a thoughtful response. Your speech was full of the same old liberal rhetoric we have heard about a "dishonorable war." Yes the line which caught my eye was when you said:

It is an act that has driven fear and terror into the hearts of the American people. What is the essential difference in quality of our humanity for those who would do the cruel and tragic deed of flying an airplane into a building and killing 3,000 innocent Americans and those who would lie and lead the nation into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands? [Duke News]

Now I do not presume to speak for others and I would ask that you not speak for me either. I do not know of nor do I feel the "fear and terror" you reference in your speech. I am comfortable that Bush has taken the actions needed to safeguard America and as far as I am concerned my civil liberties are exactly the same place they were on January 19, 2001. I also do not draw the incredibely short sighted moral equivalency that you do in regards to Osama Bin Laden versus George Bush. While it is evident the reasons for war are not as clear as we origianally thought, I do not recall you making such outlandish statements about a "dishonorable war" when Bill Clinton went into Kosovo. Nor did I hear you complain when the Democrats engaged in the same sabre rattling over Iraq Bush has done. The terrorists on 9/11 acted out of delusional religious beliefs which compelled them to kill anyone who does not fall in line with their worldview. I have yet to see Bush engage in a war of that nature, contrary to what the bloggers on fringe liberal websites might think. Yes, the war in Iraq has been mismanaged and but where is your righteous indignation for insurgents who would blow up women and children from their own country. Cindy Sheehan has called them "freedom fighters" much in the same way George Washington was, but the history I read does not include Washington setting of bombs in civilian areas. Have civilians died in Iraq by our hand? Yes, but not intentionally and not as targets of a war against their way of life and their freedom. No, the real fear and terror I feel is that people like you who use racism as a weapon to further a political agenda and who appease thugs dictators like Hugo Chavez, will one day attain real power and drive this country in the wrong direction. I fear that people whose moral compass is so fogged and the boundaries between right and wrong are so skewed will one day ascend to a position where their radical ideas can do real harm. Yes, Bush has made many mistakes, but I pray he will never make the mistake of listening to people like you whose agenda only serves to weaken America with moral bankruptcy, relative truth, and the oppression of those who believe differently than yourself.

Sincerely,

A Concerned American


American Idol Detour

***We interrupt this news and politics oriented blog for an American Idol commentary***

The world's most popular talent contest American Idol returned for another season last night and I took it in along with my wife(she's a big fan). Once again I marveled at the absolute ignorance and general lack of self awareness or dignity of most of the contestants. The lengths people go to embarass themselves is amazing and one would hope that someone would give them an honest critique of their performance before permitting them to be a potential target for Simon Cowell's acerbic(and most likely scripted) insults.

Well, let me back up a minute. There is no doubt that American Idol is a reality TV show which by definition means it is a carefully crafted reality versus an all access, raw footage reality like say Cops or the news. One example of this included the grandmother who said she would give the judges a piece of her mind if they rejected her grandson's horrible singing. Of course they obliged us with Simon Cowell leaving the audition room during a break, with security, and walking right past the waiting(and rejected) contestants. This of course produced a "confrontation" carefully instigated by host Ryan "Waiting for Dick Clark to Retire" Seacrest. The confrontation was contrived and about as spontaneous as breathing.

That being said, a smart viewer can actually figure a few things out. One, as my wife pointed out, is that when they show extensive footage of a contestant's personal life or hometown, then it is a safe bet, that person is going to Hollywood. Common sense simply dictates that AI is not going to waste sending a camera crew to Hoosierville, IN to film a contestant if they had not already been chosen to go to Hollywood. Also, it is very difficult to tell to what extent the certain bad singers are being egged on or even paid to exaggerate their defense of themselves as bad singers or even the outlandish reactions we get from them. In fact the show led off with a guy who claimed to be able to sing in three pitches, two of which are not even technical musical terms. He then was given a second chance to comeback and then we were treated to footage of him singing to people on the stree with Seacrest in tow to get a critique of his singing. Sure, maybe the guy stood in line for five hours and he really believes, as he said, that "he is so good it cuts off circulation sometimes" However, I have a hard time believing he acted this way of his own volition, which would be disturbing in and of itself considering he was not that good of a singer. Of course if that was the case, then Fox and AI are even more disturbing in their actions for manipulating the guy to act in this manner for the camera. My opinion: 10 to 1 he was an actor or 50/50 he was not but got paid anyway to exaggerate his behavior.

This is the real clincher of shows like AI and some of the worst reality based programming out there is how far the producers go to exploit people who are too ignorant to know they are being used. We saw numerous cases of people who could not sing, if Simon had taken a gun out and pointed it at them threatening to pull the trigger if they missed one note. What's more is that following these horrid performances Simon provided the entertainment value by comparing their singing to a cat or someone's aunt or some such nonsense as that. And while a great deal of crafty editing goes into shows like this, there are real instances where rejected contestants come out in a profanity laced tirade proclaiming themselves to be better than people who made and that one day they would be sorry that they rejected them when they reached stardom on their own. These are people are so far out of touch with reality that they think they can actually become famous in a business where the odds of even being discovered are remote already. It also should be noted that AI producers take X number of people from the 10,000 or so that stand in line. Of that number, they automatically take people they know have no prayer of getting past the judges but they do anyway because no one wants to tune in just to see the good ones. The bad ones make for compelling entertainment because, as NASCAR has proven, we enjoy the wrecks far more than the race itself. And if not, then why does the southbound lane of the interstate always slow down for a wreck on the northbound side? Simple, we enjoy wrecks, disasters, and general mayhem any way we can get it. AI provides that in droves, albeit, on a smaller scale.

Based on that the question begs to be asked: If aiding and abetting stupidity, self-delusion, or general insanity were a crime, how many indictments would we have against AI creator Simon Fuller and Fox? And how many of us would be indicted for conspiracy for watching it and speaking our own insults as we watched it? We laugh, we give them ratings to the tune of a 29 share, we talk about it with our friends and push daggers into these people 100 times more than what they received from Simon or the general experience. On the other side of the coin I am also a believer in a person being responsible for their actions. These people should know better and some of the reactions we get are comical because they act as though they have not been watching this show for the past four years and should know exactly what they are getting into when they sign the release forms to appear. Then again, Fox and AI have full intent of exploting people who, while they should know better, for some reason do not, and on some level that makes them morally bankrupt. So maybe the best thing is to turn it off and wait until the Hollywood section of the show when the best singers start singing. And perhaps friends and families of these poor deulsional folks should step up and be a real friend. As I told my wife during the second season, I want to got to AI auditions and sell T-shirts which say: "Friends don't let friends go on American Idol"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More Ray Nagin

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who seems to be a little quicker thatn Pat Robertson about major public relations gaffes apologized today and then subsequently stuck his feet back in his mouth. Try this one on for size:

How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about" [CNN]

OK. Now, is there any doubt left who was primarily to blame for the Katrina debacle. What is he talking about anyway? I think Jerry Seinfeld's use of the black and white cookie is a much better food related example of racial unity than chocolate milk:

The key to eating a black and white cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet, still, somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie. All our problems would be solved.

Here, here Jerry, here, here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Shoe on the Other Foot

How many times has it happened where Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell has gone on national television and proclaimed that God is punishing someone by sending a hurricane or a stroke or presumes to speak for God on matters of His justice in this world? And how many times has the mainstream media, the liberals, and others derided them for those remarks and took the opportunity to impunge Christians everywhere as fundamentalists wackos?

The answer of course is it happens all the time which makes me wonder what the general reaction to a portion of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's speech given today:

As we think about rebuilding New Orleans, surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country. Surely he’s not approval (sic) of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also.

Now, first of all I think anyone who assumes that God is actively punishing mankind for presents sins apparently missed most of the New Testament. As a point of proper theology, when Christ died and rose again to establish the Church he essentially declared judgment to be on hold until the completion of the events of Revelation. In other words, the Church Age, is an age of grace. Sin may have consequences, but judgment is on hold in lieu of the redemption work of Christ. So anyone who goes around proclaiming God's punishment for voting out pro-creationist school boards or adopting homosexual marriage or going to war in Iraq is flat wrong according to basic Christian theology.

Secondly, I will be watching to see how far the Left and the media goes to castigate Ray Nagin for this statement considering how absolutely insane they get when someone dares to claim that God speaks to them and also claims that God is doing something within the realm of this world. However, since he criticized the Iraq war Nagin will get a great, big, fat, free pass on his remarks.

So to sum up. Proclaming God's punishment in current events is wrong theologically. Being a right wing relgious figure and proclaiming God's punishment is not only wrong theologically but gets you ridiculed by the press and the Left. Being a left wing non-religious, black mayor proclaiming God's punishment while criticizing Bush and the war is still wrong theologically but gets a free pass from the media elite. Double standards are a sight to behold.

Side Note: The whole message is really quite appalling. Nagin goes through a series of events which allegedly happened during the Katrina disaster and presumes to state how Martin Luther King, looking down from heaven, would feel about that which arrogant in and of itself. He complains about the people marching across the bridge out of New Orleans only to be met with attack dogs and soldiers firing maching guns. Since I was not there I cannot say one way or the other if that happened and the media was totally unreliable. However such descriptions no doubt recall the 1960's and many of the events that occured during the civil rights movement involving white soldier and black protesters. Nagin also refers to Black America and also desires New Orleans to be a "chocolate city" I am really unsure how that is not racism pure and simple. The last I checked we have one America with many different groups. Racism is not just a problem of whites discriminating against blacks it is also a problem of blacks isolating themselves in a separate culture and community which is exactly what Nagin proposes. If a white person had suggested created a vanilla city, the cries of racism would ring well into the night. A black mayor calls for a "chocolate city" and it is OK? Go figure. Nagin did make a good point about blacks needing to do better with forming whole families and taking control of their lives and community with self responsibility. However, that is very much lost in the cornicopia of race baiting, parroting of the liberal agenda, and presumptious spokemanship for the now deceased Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sources:

Michelle Malkin
WWL

Al Gore?

I thought he left us a while back. Anyway, he made a speech today which he derides Bush and the NSA program as an example "that America's Constitution is in grave danger" Essentially what we have is another Democrat delivering a doom and gloom alarmism speech. While I have no problem with Democrats holding the President accountable on issues like this to keep everything balanced I have yet to see one iota of evidence that some of the wartime powers the President has assumed have created blanket infringements on civil liberties and privacy. Also when you consider the numerous actions taken by Roosevelt, Wilson, and Lincoln during other periods of war which were far more invasisve than any thing Bush has done, the debate takes a rather disingenious ring. In fact Roosevelt was in his fourth term as President and assume unilateral control over many aspects of the American economy and even imprisoned Japanese Americans as threats to the Republic. In my mind he came much closer to a dictatorship than Bush is at this time.

Another aspect of Gore's speech was the referencing of actual illegal wiretapping of Martin Luther King and others during the Edgar J Hoover days of the FBI. This is purely for dramatic effect to incite the Left and also make the connection that Bush is doing the same thing now as was done then: spying on Americans for political gain. There is no evidence that is the case and Gore is irresponsible to imply it. Gore also quotes a Yale Law Dean Harold Koh who basically says that if the President thinks he has the power to torture then he also has the power to commit things like genocide, slavery, apartheid, and summary executions. Interesting quote especially in light of it being MLK day he raises the prospect of slavery and apartheid as though these are two issues presently being struggled with in the United States. This is again another effort to incite people on the Left and imply that Bush has an evil agenda.

Throughout the speech Gore couches everything by acknowledging the threat of terrorism and calling for a greater role for Congress in fighting the war. However the overall tone of the speech is one of sheer panic with lots of buzzwords and warnings that the the Constitution is in danger of being use as toilet paper in the Bush White House. By the end of the speech Gore suggests that hearings should be called and whistleblower protected, which as I noted in my last piece, is an interesting position: It is OK for whistleblowers(who are likely to be career workers and elected by exactly zero people to serve) to break the law for what they pereive is the good of the country but the President who has the endorsement of 60 millions Americans and was duly elected to the office should be impeached even though he was doing what he thought was best for the country in his role as Commander-in-Chief. I am still not clear how that works so perhaps he will explain it at some point.

On a side note I found two lines by Gore to be absolute screamers in light of the Clinton Impeachment:

"A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government"

If that is the case, then why on earth did Gore not support convicting Clinton for lying to the grand jury over the Monica Lewinsky affair? Oh wait, never mind.

"Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads."

Is that how that works? It seems to me when Ken Starr and the Republicans did this it was derided as a "vast right-wing conspiracy", the politics of personal destruction, and partisan wrangling at its worst. There must be different rules I am not aware of then.

The bottom line for me is that the President should be able to wage an effective war on terrorist and protect the country. He should be able to work with Congress and get the laws adjusted to attack the new threat. In the absence of that, he still has a responsibility to defend the country and had he not done so and an attack occurred no one can reasonably believe that "I was following the law" would be a valid defense. I can only imagine the kind of loopholes the opposition party could find if the situation were reversed as a result of an attack. And the suggestion of hearings only serves the purpose of attacking the party in power. If anything such hearings should be conducted to explore what ways the laws can be modified to help the war effort and address the concerns people have about Presidential power not as a means of taking down the leadership in a political game of chicken.

We are at war here and the less political baiting we do at each other and the more we work together to put all the best weapons in play to defeat this enemy, the safer we all will be. And it should not matter which party is occupying what seats of power for that to happen.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jonathan Alter: Dictatorship in the Making...

...or something like that. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter wrote this week that since Samuel Alito is deferential to Executive power, we are perliously close to Bush asserting more authority than the U.S. Constitution grants and he will effectively "castrate Congress" While I have come to expect this sort of panic inducing logic from the fringe Left, I was a little shocked to see it had made the mainstream media. Alter basically asserts that the President, in wartime, has sought to expand the role of the Executive on the basis of his role as Commander-in-Chief. He contends that Alito would be the kind of Justice to basically tell Congress to take a hike and follow the assertion that the President may break the law, if the circumstances of war neccesitate it. Here is my breakdown:

1. I am still not entirely convinced the Bush broke the law when he ordered the NSA to wiretap. I have read numerous opinions on the subject and cannot find one definitive work which address it succinctly. That being said, let us assume that Bush did break the law in ordering the wiretaps. Based on all the information, the wiretaps were of limited scope and dealt with known connections to terrorist phone numbers. The wiretaps were not used to win an election or destroy dissidents but rather it would appear that they were employed to gather intelligence against a group of people who decided a long time ago they were not going to play by any sort of rules much less laws. In light of this was Bush correct to order the wiretaps? Yes, and if it prevented attacks, then a moral imperative has also come home to roost as well. The question then becomes one of whether or not breaking the law is acceptable in some cases where the law is insufficient or circumstances dictate it to save the nation. Abraham Lincoln had no qualms about suspending habeus corpus to keep Maryland out of the Confederacy, but history has judged he was correct to do so because the Republic mattered more than the laws of the Republic. Now, those on the Left will cry foul on this logic saying that no one is above the law and for them I would point no further than the fervent defense of those individuals who leaked the NSA program in the first place. The New York Time has so much as said that those who broke the story were patriots and protecting the country from Presidential power run amok. Just so we are clear on the issue, the President used his Constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief to order the wiretaps and in doing so may have stepped on a law which was not in the Constitution and that is a problem. However, a former NSA employee goes to see a NY Times reporter and gives up the details on how we might be tracking terrorist and he gets hailed as a patriot for having the courage to stand up the Orwellian dictators in waiting. I am not sure how that logic works other than it is based on the intent of the individual and in arguing that a whistleblower is exempt from the law, you have made the case the President is exempt as well because in both cases they both were intending to save the country. The problem is the whistleblower, abetted by the media, announced to every terrorist how we were listening to them so it is possible they all went out and bought disposable cell phones in order to beat the system. Nice going guys.

And on a side note, if Bush had opted to not do the wiretaps and we were hit again, how many times over would the media and the Left bash Bush for not protecting America? How many times would the NSA program be heralded as something that could have been implemented to save Americans but was not? And is there anyone who actually believes that if Bush were to say he was following the law as a defense to that criticism it would hold any water at all? No one, but I digress.

2. Alter's second contention is that this whole process is about stripping Congress of its Constitutional authorities. I think is a stretch in the sense that if Congress would actually step up and use its Constitutional authority, the President would not need to step up and do it for them. Congress is painfully slow to do anything and in the words of Chancellor Palpatine from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith "The Senate is much too unfocused to fight a war" Now while I have no desire to see the rest of the movie played out here in America, Palpatine's point applies here: 535 people split into two major parties with their own factions are incapable of moving with any speed or consensus. Alter suggests that FISA could have been amended and I think that to be a pipe dream in itself, especially considering you would have to tell 535 Congresspeople and their aides what you were doing it and who really believes they would keep a lid on it. The Patriot Act, whether you agree with or not, is a fine example of how Congress cannot get their act together on anything meaningful to the war on terror. Of course I am not advocating castrating Congress, but in light of the events which occured on 9/11 and based on what we saw this week in the Alito hearings, I am not sure anyone with common sense can expect the Congress to manage the hunting down of terrorists in any productive manner. Aside from that, Congress has a lower approval rating than the President by about 20% at this point and though I do not think following polls is an adequate defense it does illustrate what little faith the public has in the institution. Part of the Congress' problem seems to lie not so much with what the President is doing but with their own incomptetence and the lack of public trust in their abilities to handle any crisis.

3. Alter further explores the issue of Congress' lost power by quoting James Madison to make the point that Congress should handle matters of war not the executive. I think Alter needs to research his history a little. According to this article by The Independent Institute, Congress could do far worse for themselves and declare war as the Constitution perscribes. Of course in doing so, it was give the President almost unfettered power to do whatever he likes to the economy and to civil liberties. According to the article the notion of declaring war was toyed with during the Kosovo crisis and ultimately shot down because of the power it places in the hands of President. If Alter and the Left think what President Bush is doing is bad now, take a look at this:

President Wilson created the War Industries Board, which spawned scores of committees that took control of various industries. He also created the Committee on Public Information, better known as the Creel Committee, after its chairman, advertising executive George Creel.

The Creel Committee subjected Americans to a massive campaign of pro-war propaganda. It recruited scholars to write pro-war articles and entertainers to make pro-war statements. It even recruited religious leaders to preach pro-war sermons.

At the same time, Wilson suppressed dissent by having the Post Office deny the privilege of the post to hundreds of newspapers and magazines. Many went out of business.

Thousands of resident aliens were summarily arrested and deported. These included not just Germans, but suspected Communists from many countries.
Some who were arrested but not deported languished in jail until President Harding freed them in 1921—three years after the war ended.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution permits the federal government to suspend the writ of habeas corpus “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” This permits the president to arrest and detain anyone without trial for indefinite periods.
The U.S. faced little threat of invasion in World War I, but the clause has been interpreted to apply during time of war.

In World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt held captive more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans, whose loyalty was suspect solely because of their Japanese heritage. Many were U.S. citizens.

FDR also took even fuller control over the nation's economy. He instituted the same controls Wilson did in World War I and added to them comprehensive wage and price controls, nationwide rent control, rationing of many consumer goods and central planning of production.

Here you have two Democrats exercising even greater power and more egregious infringements upon personal privacy than Bush has ever thought about. Can you imagine the uproar if Bush had a board recruiting pastors to preach war sermons? They went ballistic over padding Iraqi newspapers with good news. What is even more chilling is the wholesale interference with the free market and the economy which is no doubt every Democrats dream to take the corporations and have them shift their wealth down to the poor, but I digress.

The bottom line is I think the any expansion of Presidential power has been measured and reasonable, especially in light of past Presidents in a time of war. I have seen very little credible evidence that Bush or any other member of the Administration has abused any expanded powers. If the intent is the measure by which we judge the validity of law breaking(and the NY Times in their defense of whistleblowers suggests that it is) then there is very little wrong with the President's use of certain weapons to further the fight against terrorism. Ideally we would like the President to work with Congress, make the proper adjustments to the law, and use that to keep Americans safe. However, the present state of Congress negates any reasonable possibility that these kinds of compromises can be achieved and even if they were, it could not be done in secret. As for the assessment of intent, I think it is important to monitor such expansions of power to make sure they truly remained aimed at the bad guys and at no point do they unduly infringe upon the very people they intend to protect. I ultimately think Alter is practicing journalistic alarmism. I happen to think the Bush Administration has acted with good intent in whatever powers they have taken on. It is not like anyone in Congress, especially those on the other side of the aisle were actually offering anything other than cricticism with intent to destroy. I think the American people can accurately ascerain intent and in any event, the Bush term effectively ends in 2008 with absolutely no evidence he intends on overthrowing the Consitution.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Photo Caption of the Week













Senator Kennedy: And you know Judge Alito I have seen some fish about like this in the Chappaquidick River. It is a great place to, you know, drive you car down to, do some fishing or even go swimming.

Senator Leahy(thinking): I wonder what kind of hand lotion he uses?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The New McCarthyism

During the 1950's an obscure Senator from Wisconsin named Joseph McCarthy launched a campaign to seek and destroy Communist sympathizers in the U.S. Government and various other parts of the culture including the entertainment industry. McCarthy, operating on the widely accepted "Domino Theory" sought to destroy any vestiges of Communist connections lest the U.S. be taken over. The culmination of this campaign resulted in committee hearings where he attacked people, movies, and books, anything which had the potential to influence people in favor of Communism. McCarthy's downfall came when he went after the military. Former World War II general and sitting President Dwight Eisenhower put a stop to what had become a witch-hunt. McCarthy was later censured in 1954 and by 1957 he was dead.[Source: CNN] While I hesitate to place anyone or anything on the same level as those dark days in the early 1950's, what was witnessed this week during the Senate Judiciary Committee, in my opinion, comes as close to the activities of McCarthy as we have seen in a very long time.

The confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice, especially one as qualified as Samuel Alito, should be focused almost solely on his ability as a judge and his knowledge of the law and U.S. Constitution. However, since Alito's confirmation was a foregone conclusion considering the 55 seat majority enjoyed by Republicans, the Democrats on the committee launched desperate attacks on the nominee in an effort to paint him as being "out of the mainstream" In the case of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, the attacks went even further. Kennedy spent most of his questioning grilling Alito on his association with a conservative alumni group at Princeton called Concerned Alumni for Princeton (CAP). Based on all the media accounts, CAP, which ceased to exist in 1988, protested the use of affirmative action, protested the entrance of women at the formerly all men's Ivy League School, and even went to bat for the ROTC amid the anti-war rants of the Vietnam Era. According to Alito it was his concern for the ROTC that led to his initial association. The sticking point came from his 1985 job application with the Reagan Administration when he noted it as evidence of his philosophical commitment to conservative values. People for the American Way listed CAP's transgressions in details and they are, in some cases standard conservative issues. Opposition to women admissions into Princeton is obviously a wrong stance to take. However, opposing affirmative action for minorities is common among conservatives. Based on their summary it seems that CAP was advocating maintain Princeton's "traditions" and that meant no women, only qualified minorities, and ensuring the sons of alumni were granted admissions. Were they out of the mainstream? I would think so because in some instances they were flat wrong. Now, fast forward to the present where Alito, who based on his testimony, can recall very little about his membership in the organization. Yes, he did put it on an application to serve in a conservative Justice Department and needed very much to show his conservative bona fides to get hired. Some call that beefing up the resume and most people do it. Senator Kennedy and others have decided that Alito's connection to the group, albeit extremely tenuous, illustrates how Samuel Alito really feels about minorities and women. So Kennedy, instead of using the better part of his time to ask relevant questions about Alito's judicial belief, practically interrogates Alito on the issue. In all fairness, I think a few clarifications of his association were probably in order given some of CAP's undesirable writings. However, Kennedy is not interested in a clarification; he is interested in smearing the judge.

From his opening statement, Kennedy had one goal and that was to label Samuel Alito as a racist. In his opening remarks, Kennedy stated:

In an era when America is still too divided by race and riches, Judge "Alioto" has not written one single opinion on the merits in favor of a person of color alleging race discrimination on the job. In fifteen years on the bench, not one. [Washington Post transcript]

Which would be fine, if it is was not a blatant lie. According to the Committee for Justice Alito has ruled on numerous cases involving minority complainants and on more than one occasion has ruled in favor of the minority person. Kennedy does not care to be bothered with the facts. Why? Because according to Kennedy, Samuel Alito is a racist! As Kennedy raised the CAP issue, he launched into a lengthy exchange with Alito where he read whole sections of old CAP publications and asked Alito if he had ever read that or if he agree with it. Why? Because according to Kennedy, Alito is a racist. Kennedy repeatedly brought up issues, CAP writings, and various events involving CAP to try and ascertain if Alito had some connection with CAP. Alito denied any connection other than the very basic one found on his 1985 job application and through each and every question concerning some of the more radical elements of CAP, Alito categorically denied them, even at one point saying they could not even be identified as conservative views. Of course in Kennedy's mind, Alito is a racist, so there must be something there and even after the blanket denials and full clarification by Alito, Kennedy offered this gem:

But I have to say that Judge Alito -- that his explanations about the membership in this, sort of, radical group, and why you listed it on your job application, are extremely troubling. And, in fact, I don't think that they add up. [Washington Post transcript]

Kennedy is troubled. Why? Because he thinks Alito is a racist. He also thinks that if he can get that label to stick, the game is over; everyone goes home because being labeled a racist is almost the same as being called a Communist in the 1950's. I will be the first to say that racism on any level should not be tolerated. However in this case Kennedy is not concerned about racism or what might happen if someone with racist views gets a seat on the Supreme Court. Kennedy is interested in destroying a qualified candidate to the Court because racism is a hot button issue and because the way the political picture has been painted, it is easy to believe that a conservative can be a racist because according to many elements of the Democratic party, including DNC Chairman Howard Dean, the whole Republican party is racist. This was a smear in same tradition as Joseph McCarthy. It was "guilt by association" where based on one relationship a person gets lumped into a certain ideological group. It was cheap shot and a desperate tactic because a case could not be made based on the merits, so Kennedy and his party decided the best way to deal with it would be to ignore the truth and attack the man with nothing. And how do we know it was nothing? The CAP records were made available following a testy exchange between Kennedy and Senator Arlen Specter and they did not include Alito's name anywhere in them. Why? Because regardless of what Kennedy thinks, Samuel Alito is not a racist.

It was shameless display coming from someone who was raised in a rich New England family who by default it elitist in every way. It is shameless considering that a member of Kennedy's own party, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, was a card carrying member of the KKK in its hey day and whose involvement with the group far exceeded any connection Alito had to CAP. It is shameless when one considers that there is honest-to-God racism in the world and racists who spout virulent hatred and light of that Kennedy chooses to trivialize it by making it a political weapon aimed at an honest man. When the end finally came, the facts exposed Kennedy to be the spiteful and bitter man that he is and his story was "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"(MacBeth, Shakespeare).

What we witnessed during these confirmation hearings was not much different than what McCarthy did by bullying witnesses on the slightest connection to some great evil and based on that lives were destroyed, people lost their livelihood, and nothing was accomplished. Confirming Justices is serious business and effects the next 30 years of judicial decisions in this country. The time of the nominee and the American people should not be wasted on bush league political tactics in place of actual debate on the issues. Such is the state of modern American politics. And thanks to Ted Kennedy, McCarthyism found new life again and as a nation we are all harmed because of it.

You Mean This Isn't Even Necessary?

Delaware Senator Joe Biden told ABC News that it would be best to discontinue any future confirmation hearings given the unwillingness of nominees to answer questions(and in my opinion all of the rabid political attacks and obvious showboating by comittee members). He suggests sending all nominees straight to the full Senate for debate and vote. This is a great idea, except Biden cannot take full credit for it because it happen to be the way it was for the first 136 years of the Republic. The article noted:

That was once standard practice. Until 1925, Supreme Court nominees were not expected to testify before a committee, and their nominations were sent straight to the floor, according to the Senate Historical Office.

So this "dog and pony" show is not even necessary to confirm a Supreme Court Justice? Then why have it all? Why note revert back to old practice which served the nation just fine for nearly a century and a half? At least that way if any Senator wants go out and act like a moron attacking a nominee with baseless accusations he/she will be doing so on the Senate floor where not that many people are watching anyway.

Of course I still think my previous proposal of having sitting Justices question the nominee would garner some excellent insights.

Ted Kennedy. Has. No. Shame

The Biblical book of Genesis tells us that after God created Adam and Eve that they were naked and they were not ashamed.

Given Ted Kennedy's behavior during the Alito Confirmation Hearings he should go ahead and disrobe to complete the effect.

It is not like he would be any less dignified than he is right now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Alito Confirmation Hearings

Following the scenes we witnessed during the confirmation hearings of Samuel Alito before the Senate Judiciary committee today, it is evident that some level of reform is needed in the process. The display today was nothing more than partisan politics gone widely awry coupled with blatant hostility on the parts of the Democratic Senators. The confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice had sadly devolved into partisan warfare with matters as trivial as the nominee's very brief association with a now defunct organization 34 years ago becoming the focal point of the whole day. The issues taken up by Democrats in attempting to derail the confirmation of Alito do not center on his views, his judicial philosophies, or anything related to what beliefs he holds concerning the U.S. Constitution. No, the Democrats are there to sling mud and launch the worst possible character assassinations against a man who, based on what is known, is one of integrity.

The problem here is the anger and madness liberals harbor against anything associated with a conservative agenda. I do not recall this kind of virulent criticism as it related to Clinton nominees in the 1990's who were each clearly leftist in their judicial leanings. However, when the current President offers a nominee who reflects a more conservative philosophy, which was seemingly validated by the 60 millions Americans who voted the Administration back for a second term, the Democrats act as though Bush was seeking to overturn the Constitution. Winning elections and being in the majority means that you get to nominate the Justices to fill Supreme Court vacancies. If the Democrats want to run the Senate, nominate and confirm judges who agree with their views then they should actually go out and win an election or two. That is how it is done in our political system, not by smearing good candidates with baseless attacks and not by usurping the powers of the Constitution by conducting filibusters of judges you do not happen to like. As it was so aptly put on the TV show The West Wing, "Being in power means everybody else can take a seat for four years."

As for the process itself, I think the time has come to remove some of the highly charged political elements from the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice and make the hearings about judicial reasoning and Constitutional issues. It is clear that a Justice on the Supreme Court should be a judicial genius with a very complex understanding of the law and how the Constitution should be interpreted. The problem in the current process is that we have Senators who have little or no understanding of such issues testing the nominees it usually degenerates into a lot of dancing around the question by the nominee and bare bones political attacks from the Senators. In fact it is my estimation the nominees are usually ten times smarter than any one of the Senators on the committee and any discussion of law would be pointless since the Senators are incapable of keeping pace. Being nominated to the Supreme Court is the only job I know of where you are actually interviewed by people who are not qualified in the field in which you are seeking a position.

The solution to this broken system would be to maintain a portion of the current format, while adding a new wrinkle which would permit the nominee to really expound upon jurisprudence in all its complexity.

Day 1: Opening Statements-Senators still get to "sermonize" and the nominee can offer his views to open matters up.

Day 2: Senators ask questions being limited to 30 minutes apiece. If Senators so choose to give time to each other or what not that is fine. The purpose here is to keep the bloviation of certain Senatorial windbags down and actually focus on asking questions so the nominee can answer.

Day 3: Each party would pick 1-2 sitting Supreme Court Justices to come to the hearing and question the nominee. This particular wrinkle would have tremendous benefits. The first is the nominee can actually discuss his philosophies with people who actually are on the same level. If Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas were each posing questions and debating the finer points with Alito it would be far more enlightening as to what Alito actually believes. This also would force Presidents to make sure they sent a qualified person up there lest they get buried alive when it came time to face their potential future colleagues in a question and answer session. Senators would be allowed to interject to ask for clarifications but for the most part the Justices would quiz the nominee.

Day 4: Witnesses if needed, followed by closing statements

Day 5: Committee debate and then vote.

If the committee votes the nominee to the full Senate, the Senate then has three days to debate and then give the nominee an up or down vote. A filibuster would be wholly prohibited on all Supreme Court nominations. All told the hearings should take no more than 10 days to complete.

It is time politicians in Washington begin paying more attention to the actual issues involved in such matters at judicial nominations and strive to find a process which makes the nominee speak to his beliefs and philosophies. For all the hot air we get from Senators about the courts not being political places and how Justices should not be partisan or biased, they sure do a great job of making the process of confirming Justices exactly those things.

Monday, January 09, 2006

You cannot make this stuff up...

On AP:

NEW YORK - Meet the latest children's author, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and his Portuguese Water Dog, Splash, his co-protagonist in "My Senator and Me: A Dogs-Eye View of Washington, D.C."

Ted Kennedy has a Portuguese WATER Dog and he named it SPLASH!?!?!?

This is almost as funny as when he was complaining about "water torture" being used by American troops during the Alberto Gonzales confirmation hearings. It is almost like he does this stuff on purpose just to flaunt in people's faces that he got away with depraved indifference homicide at Chappaquiddick.

One blogger I read had these absolutely hilarious titles for future Ted Kennedy children's books:

Possible Other Ted Kennedy Children Books:

-- Clifford the Big Red Hot Dog Tastes Great with Mustard and Scotch.

-- Incurious George and the Missing Weapons of Mass Destruction

-- Booze Clues

-- If You're Old Enough To Read This, My NARAL Friends Didn't Get Their Money's Worth

-- Dora Explores the Chappaquiddick



Time Magazine: Framing the NSA Leak Story

Time magazine made no pretentions about how they feel about the NSA survellaince program when they asked on the front cover of the Jan 9 edition:

Is George Bush Spying on You?

(I would respond to that by asking: Are you in regular contact with known terrorists, Al-Queda members, or dialing numbers connected to known terrorists? If so, then yes, the NSA, not George Bush, is listening to your internationa calls trying to determine if you or the person you are talking to might be planning something nasty)

The follow-up headline for the article inside went even further(no pun intended) asking the question:

Has George Bush Gone to Far?

It is obvious Time has deftly picked up on the talking points from the left by framing the issue over the NSA's surveillance of phone calls between persons/citizens in the U.S. and known terrorist phone numbers abroad as though the President is spying on Americans. It should be noted that first of all, Bush is not personally spying on Americans or anyone else for that matter. The inclusion of George Bush in that statement cast the President as some kind of Orwellian dictator who is personally listening the conversations of ordinary citizens in an effort to control their lives or punish them for dissent. Although we are still in the dark about many of the techinical details, the best information points to the use of computers to scan target transmissions for keywords and compile it for review as in any intelligence gathering operation. Bush, the NSA, the DOD, nor the CIA are "spying" on Americans as much as listening for threatening information which might be used to thwart an attack. While I am a staunch small government advocate, I do not see where using previously gathered information on terrorists phone numbers to scan calls destined for those numbers in an effort to see if someone is planning another 9/11 is outside of the scope of the Federal government in its role as defender of the naiton. The second aspect is the personalization of the line by making the reader feel as though they are being spied upon. Since I never make international calls I can assume I have not been eavesdropped upon unless there is more than we are being told. The inside headline also frames the President as though he is running amok with Presidential power and this time he has crossed some sacrosanct line. I have seen no evidence that we are perched upon some slippery slope on the verge of being thrust into rabid 1984-esque government surveillance.

The problem with the framing of the issue in this manner is it has nothing to do with the real issue at heart: the legality of the program. I have read numerous pieces on both sides about whether or not the program was legal. Based on my reading of the issue, I think the program falls on the legal side, though there may be aspects of it which cross certain legal thresholds. The other problem with framing the issue this way is the way Time chose to put it on the front cover the same way US Weekly splashes headlines like: "Jessica Walks Out on Nick." Passing customers in the grocery store see the headline and assume because it is on the front cover of Time assume it must be true. Most Americans are not news/political junkies. They capture their news in small bits from a daily newspaper, the network or cable news(which are both routinesly liberal in spin and presentation) or what they see on a magazine stand while waiting to check out. For Time to cast the issue in such a light, with provactive words inviting images of 1984 and "Big Brother" is grossly irresponsible and a cheap tabloid trick in an effort to raise sales.

Time should have asked questions which carried greater neutrailty and were more on target as to the actual issue at hand. By asking questions like this, they lay out certain premises and establish them as fact which must then be consequently rejected. In the article Time makes every effort to confirm the original premise that a power abusing Bush is spying on Americans. The author engages in crictizing the Bush administration as power abusers and ones who completely disregard Federal courts and laws in a mad rush to gain more power.

If someone wants a startling example of Orwell's 1984 they should look no further than Time magazine and the "newspeak" quality of the articles therein.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Who is the Bigger Nutjob?

Candidate #1: Pat Robertson

Pat endeared us with so many memorable quotes in 2005 and it is nice to see he is keeping up the pace in 2006. In wake of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke which left the 77 year old Israeli leader close to death Robertson took to the airwaves to proclaim that Sharon may be experiencing God's judgement since he gave land back to the Palestinians. Robertson cites a fragment from Joel as basis for this claim saying:

"The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' God considers this land to be his. [Breitbart]

The verse Roberston refers to is Joel 3:2 which refers to a coming time when God will judge the nations for their treatment of Israel. It is perhaps a reference to the final judgement of man since it follows chapter 2 which details "the Day of the Lord" which is a phrase that denotes the final reckoning of God's justice on the earth. The problem with Robertson's interpretation is he is making the leap that this judgement is perpetually and individually meted out which is patently off base. Robertson also asserts that God has claimed the land is His and should not be tampered with by man. Actually, Scripture is clear the the whole earth belongs to God and everything in it since (1) He is Creator of all things and (2) is says so in Psalm 24:1. Using the now fulfilled covenant God made with ancient Israel as a backdrop to assert that the leader of the modern state of Israel is being punished for actions he took in a political conflict stretches even beyond were I am sure a lot of pro-Israel, dispensationalist theologians would go.

Candidate #2: Louisana Governor Kathleen Blanco

Governor Blanco is the absolutely inept chief executive of Lousiana who during the Hurricane Katrina disaster set new standards for inaction and lack of emotional fortitude. She has done pretty much nothing but scream at the Feds for their lack of response(some of which was deserved) even though her own office and people failed to do their jobs properly. The latest complaint to rise from Baton Rouge is that Louisana is not getting its fair shake when it comes to the $11.5 billion in Federal relief money. Blanco is asserting that Lousiana suffered 70% of the damage from Katrina, but so far has only received 53% of the money or $6.2 billion. Two issues here: (1) While I have not been there, the 70% she is claiming may be a little high. I have seen footage of Mississippi where the eye of the storm actually hit and they were completely wiped out. New Orleans for the most part took mostly flooding from the failed levees and while I am sure that incurs a huge cost as well as any other wind damage they may have had. The people in Mississippi had whole houses blown away. Maybe I am wrong, and I have not been there, but I am not so willing to take on face value the assertion that Louisana needs more money because...(2) Blanco just spent half a million dollars renovating her office and others in the State Capitol.
Just so we are clear, you just endured massive devastation from a hurricane so instead of using every available dollar of state taxpayer money to offer relief to the very citizens who paid it, you decide it is better to use the money to give yourself and your staff new offices.

You know what Governor Blanco, until you learn how to properly spend your own money, I do not want you to get another cent of mine.

Candidate #3: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

First he denied the Jewish Holacaust. Then he said that Europe should carve out a chunk of land and put the Jews there. Now he is saying he hopes Ariel Sharon dies from his stroke. What strikes me the most is the level of hatred these people fall, especially when it comes to Israel. Denying that a 6 million person near-geneocide which has been substantiated by history is already a clear sign that you are not operating in the same reality with the rest of the world. Now, he is publicly wishing for the leader of another country to drop dead. And this guy is on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons! You know, I think the liberals were right, we should never have gone to Iraq, we should have gone it Iran instead.

So, who is the bigger nutjob? Well, grossly misrepresenting God and the Bible does not make you crazy, it just makes you a heretic. And asking for a government handout despite your own failed fiscal management is sorry but not insane. No, the safest bet is always the fundamentalist, Islamic, facist leader of a Middle Eastern nation. Denying history and wishing death on someone are fairly advanced signs you might be certifiably insane.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

BCS Championship

Just finished watching the Rose Bowl...

Texas 41
USC 38

Best. College. Football. Game. Ever.(Well at least of the games I have actually watched)

The Sore Loser Quote of the Game goes to USC QB Matt Leinert who is in his postgame interview said the following:

"I still think we're a better team, they just made the plays in the end"

Uh, no Matt, when the #1 and #2 teams play each other as undefeateds in an end of season championship game, the winner is widely considered to be the better team. Especially since the Texas kicker missed two easy field goals and an extra point which could have essentially put the game out of reach for your guys. Maybe we should cut Leinert a little slack since he was accosted by reporters less than five minutes after seeing his team's 34 game win streak and national title hopes dashed but to suggest, after losing a game pitting the two best teams in the nation, that your team is still the better team shows a severe lack of class in my opinion.

On a side note, this is a common line for losing players and fans: We are a better team, but X, Y, and Z. However there are situations where it rings hollow. It might be true when you are talking about a much lower ranked team beating a higher ranked team. If an undefeated team loses to a team with two losses to teams the undefeated school may have beaten, this line of thinking is true to some extent. When you are talking about #1 vs #2 and both are undefeated the statement becomes a contradiction. To say you are better, but they made the plays is illogical because if you were truly better, your team would have made the plays or you would have been able to stop them from making the plays. Perhaps it is much ado about nothing, but it bugs me when someone cannot step up and give proper credit.

Also, forget USC RB Reggie Bush and forget Matt Leinert. I will take Texas QB Vince Young any day of the week. While Bush and Leinert may have had the media hype and the Heisman trophies, Young was clutch, unstoppable, and he did it with style.

And one final note, yes Vince Young's knee was down and they should have taken the TD off the board in the second quarter. And we also know that Reggie Bush gave Matt Leinert an illegal push into the end zone against Notre Dame to win that game back in October. The lesson here? What does around comes around.

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