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Rocky Mountain Alliance of Blogs, 2.0
My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|With Heavy Heart
Received the news today that my nephew, age 2-1/2, has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. And my sister in law is now six months into her second pregnancy.
Any prayers would be sincerely appreciated and welcomed. My brother and his wife have great Faith, and they will continue to serve the Lord through this, but they will need help. If anyone has an angel they can loan. . .
|Again With The Economics of Emotion
Yesterday, based on strong earnings numbers, the stock market fell sharply; so today, on solid if not spectacular GDP news, the stock market again fell sharply; this after last week when the stock market fell sharply after Greenspan spoke optimistically about the economic recovery.
Please--and I'm not just saying this here--somebody explain to me the psychology of the investor class. Sure, I get that fear about the prime lending rate is driving this; what I don't get is how continued good news is only met with fear.
It's like being in the Democratic National Committee.
|I Was Going To Lay Off This, But. . .
I've posted at some length in recent weeks about the difficulties "Catholic" politicians are having reconciling their Faith and their politics--particularly where the abortion issue is concerned. I had more thoughts on this over the weekend, but decided to lay off the issue.
Then I heard the tape on Hugh's show of Nancy Pilosi speaking to the March to Save Women's Lifestyles over the weekend. While I have not been able to unearth print media coverage of her speech, I believe I heard her say: "I am a mother of five; a grandmother of five; and a devout Roman Catholic.. ." before she went on to laud the virtues of being able to end an inconvenient child before birth. This, just days after the Vatican actually went on record saying priests should deny communion to politicians who take pro-abortion positions in public life.
Strangely, this isn't the most offensive piece of rhetoric from the event last weekend. That distinction goes to Gloria Steinem, who, according to the CNN article accused Bush of squandering international good will and taking positions so socially conservative that he seems -- according to Steinem -- to be in league with the likes of Muslim extremists or the Vatican.
Now, last time I looked, equating the Taliban to the Vatican was, well, a bit over the top. Of course, this little piece never made the evening news, and as far as I can tell not a single one of these "devout Roman Catholic" politicians has demanded that Steinem retract the statement and apologize for this. And I'm not holding my breath that they will.
Because, of course, in the public life of these people politics is the end-all, be-all, easily trumping such trivialities as their Faith. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that these people feel comfortable ignoring their Church's teachings--those are, at best, a secondary concern in their lives.
What originally got me going on this was the idea that a Christian who does not advocate Christian positions in public life is, at best, a weak Christian. I realize I'm dancing close to a knife's edge of judgementalism here, but bear me out. I'm not talking about advocating the agenda of the Moral Majority or of Focus on the Family or the Catholic Church--I'm talking about using your Faith and your belief in efficacy of Christian teachings as a guide for the public decisions that you make. The inheritance of the believer is a responsibility and a Hope that their belief will guide their actions to lead them to glorify God in their daily life and bring others to God's Glory. Faith is not an attribute that can be removed when you walk into the Senate chambers like an overcoat--it is either a central part of your makeup or it isn't.
Again, though, I'm not here to sit in judgement over others--God's given me quite a list of responsibilities, and that is not one of them. However, when politicians invoke their "Faith" as a way of innoculating themselves from criticism, I do have a right to call them on it, when they give nothing more than lip service to their Faith.
So when Nancy Pilosi proclaims her Catholicism at a pro-abortion rally that features a comparison of the Vatican to the Taliban, I think people ought to ask a few pointed questions. And I'll start: Ms. Pilosi, given the Church's unambiguous stance towards pro-abortion politicians and your unwillingness to confront anti-Catholic bigotry, will you cease identifying yourself as a Roman Catholic before audiences who may be better disposed to hear your message if they think they share Catholicism with you?
|So Now He's Actually Throwing This Out
So Sen. Kerry feels today is an appropriate day for him to attack the President for his National Guard Service. But just over a week ago, on "Meet the Press", Kerry defended his own Purple Hearts by saying "It was the Navy's decision, and they made that decision, and I agree with it."
So, Senator, was or was not the decision to award Honorable Discharge the purview of the Air National Guard; and, if they indeed did deemed young George W. Bush fit for such, why would you question that decision? If the Navy's decision is just, and the ANG's is questionable, are you implying that the ANG is a less respectable or honorable organization? How else would you explain the blitheness with which you dismiss the service of the President?
Oh, my kingdom for one decent journalist following John Kerry around? These seem like patently obvious questions to ask, and not really that hard to squeeze in somewhere.
By the way, I would like to officially welcome Charlie Gibson to the ranks of the vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.
|Reflections On A Sermon
Dr. John preached on Sunday about Ephesians 1, and in particular the passage that deals with the inheritance of believers in the Kingdom. He dwelt in particular on the aspect of Hope that accompanies Faith, and related this story:
In his travels with his ministry, he had occasion to work in Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University, which has an extremely high population of foreign students. He had the opportunity to ask many of the foreign members of his congregation what they thought of America and of Americans, having lived among them for some time, and he said that the most common response was along the lines of "You Americans seem to be born with a belief that you can change the world--that you can make it better. This is an unusual concept for us."
This story brought together in my mind several thoughts about America's role in the world, and the vision of the two candidates for President. I believe that it is true that the world looks down on Americans, in much the same way that jaded, "experienced" members of corporations look down on energetic young employees. There is, for some, a naive charm in the youthful idea that one person can change the world; for others, this is a point of great irritation and annoyance. It is as if the one person who tries to change the world is a reminder to the "veterans" how they sold out and gave up on their own dreams. I think much of Europe, France in particular, views America in much the same way--naive and slightly irritating.
And I also think that the reason Europe was so comfortable with Bill Clinton, and would be much more comfortable with John Kerry, is that these people do not have the hopeful vision that the world can be changed--the best they hope for is to "manage" the world. That is why the U.N. plays such a prominent role in Democratic foreign policy--it is a body that "manages" world events, but has no power or willingness to shape them.
I think most Americans have a fairly optimistic picture of what America can accomplish when it puts its mind to a task, but that number gets smaller and quieter every day. Just like in the corporation the young punks learn to curb their brashness and even learn to sell out, Americans often are not comfortable with the power that they hold if they would embrace it.
This is a striking difference between these two candidates--one who offers a vision of America's future based on boldness and Hope, and one who offers a vision of regret and supplication. Those of us who believe in the first vision need to continue articulating it in every forum possible--Hope is powerful, and people will come to it.
My wife and I had the night to ourselves, and so we went to see "A Man On Fire".
Good movie. Not a feel-good movie, to be sure, but enthralling. Denzel Washington gives his typical great performance, and the little girl steals every scene she is in.
On the down side, this movie, which had the makings of a great story of redemption, at points dipped perilously into being a simple revenge movie. And a long one, at that--2:30. The darkness in the soul of Denzel's character was not balanced by enough light in the story to keep the repeated episodic revenges interesting. However, the supporting cast was strong, the setup for the plot was well-done, and the atmosphere was palpable.
I would give this a qualified recommendation. Very violent, with sustained periods of heavy intensity. NO children, please. And don't expect it to spark lively conversation. Probably best suited as a rental in six months.
|Two Related Stories--At Least In My Mind
First, of course, is the Pat Tillman death in Afghanistan today; second, then, is the optimistic re-enlistment numbers the military is reporting.
How are they related? Because, in my mind, they both say volumes about a generation of young men and women that just a few years ago were the "victims" of the public education system. Both stories, one in a very personal way and one in a very statistical way, relate the reality that young Americans have in them the stuff of heroes--courage, valor, honor. What their parents may have lost touch with because of the 60s and 70s (note I say "may"), but which their grandparents had in abundance, this generation is touched with in heartening ways.
Most of my brothers in the RMA have written tonight about Pat Tillman, as have the gents at Powerline--good reading. My take is that, in the case of this gifted athlete, we recognize the grave sacrifice he made today that many others have made on other days; but in his case in particular, we also recognize the sacrifice he made two years ago to walk away from a multi-million dollar contract. He gave on both ends, and we owe him--and all those like him--a debt we can only repay by (as Tom Hanks said in "Private Ryan") deserving this.
Prayers for his soul and for his wife and brother (who is still in Afghanistan).
|Fuels Trains Collide, Explode, Killing Perhaps Thousands
And in response, the first move of the North Korean government is to cut international phone lines.
My first response to this story was "I wonder what the radiation readings are like downwind." Couldn't help it. Sure, in and of itself it's a horrific tragedy. . .
But in North Korea who knows what could be travelling on trains through population centers?
|Re-election On The Back Of The Economy
This, by Donald Lambro, seems too optimistic to me. . .
If next month's Labor Department employment report is anything like March's blowout jobs numbers, look for a 10-point lead in Mr. Bush's election polls and forecasts of larger gains for the GOP in the House and Senate.
. . .but is pointed in the right direction.
I think the Dems may have overplayed their hand in the last two months. First the book by O'Neill/ then the book by Clarke; then the 9-11 Commission; then Bob Woodward's book; the launch (and subsequent power outage) of Air America; all the while every Dem seeming almost gleeful every time they talk about the "chaos" in Iraq. The American people are able to recognize a systemic effort to beat up on someone, and when the gist of the beating up doesn't match their opinions of the beat-ee, there's a backlash. That's how I explain the recent bump in the President's poll numbers.
Well, that and John Kerry is back from vacation and talking again.
And again. . .
and on, and on. . .
|More From the Archbishop
In his second such letter in as many weeks, the Archbishop has again preached the importance of Catholics making moral choices when they go in the polling booth.
I cannot improve on his Emminence's own language, so I'll just paste some crucial grafs.
We're always obligated to follow our consciences. But, if we're serious in our Catholic faith, we also need to acknowledge that conscience does not "invent" truth. Rather, conscience must seek truth out, and conform itself to the truth once discovered — no matter how inconvenient. Conscience is never just a matter of personal opinion or private preference. It never exists in a vacuum of individual sovereignty. It is not a pious alibi for doing what we want, or what might get us elected. . . .
America's Founding Fathers did not say, and never intended, that religious faith should be excluded from civic debate. They intended one thing only: to prevent the establishment of an official state church. A purely secular interpretation of the "separation of church and state" would actually result in the "separation of state and morality." And that would be a catastrophe for real pluralism and the democratic process.
|Explain This To Me
So today the bad guys blow up kids and throw a feint/ambush at the Marines in Fallujah. Kids. On their way to school. 18 of them, last count. Ten Kindergarteners.
So why, exactly, are we so damn concerned about the delicate sensibilities of the Arab street? Why, exactly, are we demonstrating such restraint in and around Fallujah? As near as I can tell, the "Arab street" doesn't give a damn about the lives of children and innocents going about their day; what makes us think the "Arab street" will rebel against decisive action against the people who kill their children?
Up is down; down is up. One of the so-called "moderate" Islamics had better make themselves known to the American media or the stereotypes are going to harden like cement.
Is it just me, or did anybody else notice the sudden arrival on the scene of officials and electeds telling the public to "butt out"? First Tom Kean says members of the House of Reps should stay out of his business, then Ken Salazar tells the Archbishop to stop trying to influence votes.. . I don't think its news that politicians are arrogant, but usually they hide it better.
|Kerry On Russert
Or, as I like to say, a cure for insomnia.
I watched about the first 30 mins of the interview this morning--I didn't have the stomach for any more. But a couple of things stuck out. You can read the transcript yourself here--its much better than listening to the drone.
Kerry:I was the one who pointed out they failed to use our forces effectively in Afghanistan. We had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora. Rather than deploy the 10th Mountain Division or the 101st Airborne or the Marines, rather than use the best military in the world to go kill the world's number-one terrorist, what did we do? This administration held them back. They sent the Afghans up into the mountains who a week earlier had been on the other side, and they let him escape.
So, rather than enlist our allies and trust their knowledge of the area and share intel and bring them along. . .we should have been unilateral and pursued with all vigor our own ends and to hell with them. Interesting position, Mr. Senator.
Russert: You "voted to authorize military action but has accused President Bush of rushing into war, [but he] said he will cease his complaints once the shooting starts. `It's what you owe the troops,' said a statement from Kerry. `I remember being one of those guys and reading news reports from home. If America is at war, I won't speak a word without measuring how it will sound to the guys doing the fighting when they're listening to their radios in the desert.'"
Are you concerned that you're sending the wrong message to the troops by not showing solidarity in terms of the war in Iraq? And have you broken your pledge?
SEN. KERRY: No, I haven't. Because, number one, I did adhere strictly to that through the period of the success of the war, when we finally had taken control of the country.
A word leaps to mind: WEASEL.
RUSSERT: The Boston Globe reports that your commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibberd has suggested that you perhaps didn't earn your first Purple Heart and question whether you should have left Vietnam after six months. In order to deal with those kinds of issues, when I asked President Bush about his service in the Texas Guard, he agreed to release all his military records, health records, everything. Would you agree to release all your military records?
KERRY: . . .I know what happened. And the Navy 35 years ago made a decision and it's the Navy's decision and I think it was the right decision.
[full disclosure: there is some cutting and pasting there, but I think its largely insignificant]
So, just to be clear, Senator: a decision that one branch of military made 35 years ago about your record is sufficient for you and you accept that decision. So would you now go on record encouraging your subordinates to accept the decision of the Air National Guard regarding honorably discharging a young George W. Bush, and tell them to stop questioning his service?
The more I see of this guy, the less I like him--and I was pretty well-disposed to dislike him before. Really, I hope there are a number of debates so the public can see what a jerk this guy is.
|The Israelis Killed Rantisi
Two words: nice shot.
|Appendix on Affirmative Action
A few weeks ago the state Senate debated an anti-affirmative action bill, which it defeated. Today I saw this quote and had to share it (from this story).
...When student and faculty activists struggle for cultural diversity, they are in large part battling over what skin color the rich kids should have.
A right-wing politician? A student activist? No. An English professor, Mr. Walter Benn Michaels.
|Looking At The Bigger Picture
This is chilling: WMD Attack Foiled in Jordan (courtesy of Powerline). Speculation of 20 thousand dead had the attack been successful.
Hindrocket asks a great question about the origin of the chemicals. I wonder, even though the target was the American Embassy, how many of those 20,000 would have been Muslims? Maybe, what. . .18,000?
Don't for a moment begin to believe the fallacy that the extremist Muslim end of this operation is targeted specifically at America because of America: it is mindless, nihilistic violence for the sheer glory of the violence.
And the only way to end it is to kill them.
|The Catholic Thing
I touched on this briefly a couple nights ago, and was able to catch a bit of Dan Kaplis' discussion of it this morning. I need to expound a little further on my thoughts from the other night.
On Thursday, the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, wrote a letter in the Denver Catholic Register; the key point is this:
Candidates who claim to be 'Catholic' but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness,. . .
"They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.
"And real Catholics should vote accordingly."
In response, Pete Coors, a Catholic, said this to the Rocky through his campaign spokesperson:
"(Coors) believes the archbishop was correct in his opinion and he believes in the sanctity of life - he's pro life.
Bob Schaffer, also a Catholic, did not respond to calls from the papers but has a history of being anti-abortion.
And Ken Salazar, also a Catholic--and a one-time seminarian--had this to say:
The archbishop can have his point of view as leader of a church, but I think when the archbishop tries to influence the outcome of elections and get involved in government and directing voters, he's gone beyond the line of what should not be breached in our American democracy, where we believe fundamentally in the separation of church and state.
What is really most troubling about Salazar's response is the intimation that those in places of religious responsibility are being undemocratic when they speak out on issues. I wonder, Mr. Salazar, where you stand on the idea of the "Rev." Jesse Jackson actively campaigning for candidates; for that matter, what of the practice of Democratic candidates speaking from the pulpit (as John Kerry did four weeks ago in St. Louis) to a congregation in a campaign-style "sermon"? The idea that a person who is charged with the spiritual and corporal well-being of hundreds of thousands of believers is obliged to stay uninvolved in politics is offensive. And the leap of logic that concludes that a person of religious responsibility speaking out is a breach of the Establishment Clause betrays an appallingly low level of understanding of that Constitutional principle and the role of the public in the debate.
To say the the Archbishop is "going beyond the line" is trying nothing more than to silence the voice of opposition to his opinion. Did the Attorney General have similar qualms when the Ministerial Alliance played a central role in the debate over the punishment Officer Jim Turney received for the shooting of Paul Childs? Of course not. And it is not only the right, it is the duty and obligation of men and women of the cloth to try to guide their flock. Note that the Archbishop did not speak out specifically against a candidate or a party; he spoke out on an issue. For Ken Salazar to call that undemocratic is fundamentally flawed.
Ken Salazar seems to be presented with a choice. This is a choice I am familiar with. Ten years ago I fell in love with a woman who is divorced; Catholic teaching holds that, short of an annulment, for me to marry her would be a sin, and would make my life incompatible with remaining a Catholic. I chose to leave the Church and start a family and a life with the bewitching Mrs. BestDestiny. Ken Salazar is capable of making the same choice: to claim membership in something that you do not believe in is hypocritical and deceptive. I will not be so arrogant as to advise him in this matter--that is between him, his priest, and God.
But when he tries to stifle the debate on a central issue, that is between him and the whole public. And on that point, I would advise him to show due deference to his spiritual leader and, in short. . .
put a sock in it.
I note with some dismay that posts I've attempted twice today are not showing up. I also note a very quiet night on the RMA front. Related? perhaps.
Sadly, I know next to nothing about how this technology works, so I'm hoping its just coincidence and some of my fellows are smart enough to have a social life on Fridays.
Read this. Send it to your friends. Post it at the watercooler.
Then ask yourself if 9-11 would have happened had we taken this opportunity when it was offered.
Read this. Send it to your friends. Ask why 9-11 really happened and where the culpability lies.
|I Was Wondering When He Would Speak Out
Archbishop Chaput does not disappoint. Read his letter here.
Not a lot of gray area. Mr. Kerry. Mr. Salazar. Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Daschle. Mr. Leahy.
When I get the chance, I think I'll e-mail copies of the Archbishop's letter to the above-named persons. Wonder what kind of a response I'll get.
|Sometimes I Think We Just Don't Get It
So here's Tom Kean rushing to defend Jamie Gorelick's role on the 9-11 Commission:
Several of Gorelick's colleagues on the commission rushed to her defense, characterizing her as qualified and nonpartisan, and complaining privately that she was ambushed by Ashcroft.
"We don't want to get in a fight with the attorney general, and I hope he doesn't want to get in a fight with us," said commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey. But "people ought to stay out of our business."
I posited the idea a few nights ago that we--the Right--cannot continue to act as if the Dems will act according to the best interest of the country. So while the Left screams for Scalia to recuse himself because he happened to be on the same hunting trip as the Veep, the Right (with a few notable exceptions) bends over backwards to defend someone who is intimately involved in the minutae of an ongoing investigation.
Until we actually choose to join the battle, we deserve the results we get.
|Civic Duty Week
After attending the caucuses two nights ago, tonight I went to a public meeting held by CDOT to discuss the completion of the C470 Beltway around the northwest leg of the city.
The meeting was very well attended, with an estimated crowd of 250, and a great many of them had things to say. And though the general thought process was along the lines of "not in my backyard" (well represented by the Golden contingent in the group), there were some very good questions asked.
To my thinking, Denver's infrastructure is woefully inadequate to sustain the type of growth we've been seeing over the past two decades. And just looking around the neighborhood, I can honestly say that the building is far outpacing the infrastructure. So it seems like a no-brainer that we will--if not already do--need to complete the beltway around the northwest quadrant. And, while I understand the concerns of Golden residents about increased traffic through their city, I see few alternatives to swinging this road as far up against the hills as possible--in other words, right along the existing 93 corridor through Golden.
One amusing--and intriguing-- model has the final leg of the beltway tunneling underneath north and south Table Mountains. I'd like to see the cost figure on that one, though I like the concept. What the heck? What's another giant hole in the earth?
|On a Lighter Note
When Patrick Roy announced his retirement last spring, the collective gasp from the Avalanche faithful was audible clear out here in Arvada.
I took a slightly different view. Having just watched the Avs lose three straight to the mighty Wild from Minnesota, and having seen at least two of those, if not all three, completely stolen by the goalie, I wondered aloud "when was the last time Patrick Roy actually stole a game for the Avalanche?" Not that he wasn't great--it had just been a while since he single-handedly beat another team.
So it felt very good last night watching David Aebischer stop 41 shots (or was it 39 with two getting through?) while standing on his head to get the Avalanche a big road victory over Dallas. And what greater way to end the affair than with a rookie firing a skills-competition caliber shot over the shoulder into the upper corner of the net?
Not too exercised about anything tonight, so I'll just share this . . . .
It's sad that it has to be said, but I, for one, am both surprised and very thankful that Israel did not suffer any successful terrorist attacks during Passover.
|Report From the Caucuses
I went to my precinct caucus tonight. I like the idea of getting involved, and an interesting conversation actually sparked up. I just threw out a hypothetical to spark it: imagine Attorney General Hillary Clinton. With the power of the Patriot Act.
Officially, I'm agnostic on the Patriot Act. I think, on balance, if it forces the FBI and the CIA to talk to each other--hell, I'd just be happy if the counter-t part of the FBI talked to the law enforcement part--then that's a good thing that makes my daughters safer. However, that is all within the context of this President and this Attorney General. I'm a little more worried about others who may someday hold those positions.
I'm happy to entertain other opinions on this.
|Where's the Coverage
I heard on Hugh's show (aside: maybe the guest hosts should add "in absentia" to their radio moniker to give them a really easy to remember acronym: the Northern Alliance Radio Network In Absentia--NARNIA) all sorts of firebombs from AG Ashcroft to the 9-11 Commission.
But I haven't heard a bit of coverage of that from the news. Surprised? Hardly. But these were pretty big firebombs--especially the revelation of Com Gorelick's "fecklessness" (I love when I can bring back someone's own words to hammer them) regarding FBI procedures. I would expect that there would be at least a little bit of coverage--even just spin.
The depth of the conspiracy to end this President's term is deep, indeed.
|Did I Just Hear This Right?
Chris Matthews on Hardball just asked "Did President Bill Clinton approve a policy to assassinate Osama bin Laden? Contrary to opinion about his weakness, did the President take out a contract on the terror mastermind?"
I think the obvious answer is. . . wait for it . . . SO WHAT!!?! He never bothered to pull the trigger when he had him in his sights, so what difference does it make if he had a policy to take him out.
It's like the DeNiro gangster character in "Analyze This" and "That": nothing worse than a gangster-Hamlet. Picture Clinton in the Oval Office, film from the Predator still playing on the VCR:
"To shoot, or not to shoot: That is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the ongoing
Slings and arrows and explosives of outrageous fortune--
and al Qaeda--
Or to lash out, and by opposing, end them.
Hey, Hill. . . what's our exposure to litigation in the World Court if I shoot and miss? Should we send Madeleine over and see if we can arrange some sort of sit-down? Maybe I could swing over after meeting Kim il in Korea."
I think the point is NOT who talks about what, and who has what policies--the point is who does something about it. So far, the only people who have taken action are President Bush, Sec. Rumsfeld, and AG Ashcroft.
|Could Somebody Please Explain Logic to Economists
This from the lede of the story on the MSNBC website:
Stocks fell sharply Tuesday, as unexpectedly strong economic data eclipsed some upbeat earnings reports and sparked fears that the Federal Reserve could tighten credit sooner than expected.
So, good news spurs . . . fear and a massive selloff? Huh?
No wonder I put so little stock in budget projections of ten years into the future.
|My Favorite Weekend
Even if Easter hadn't been this weekend, tonight culminated my favorite week of the year in very fine fashion.
Starting last weekend with the Final Four, progressing to Opening Day, from there to the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a big DU victory in the Frozen Four, a great Masters win for the big lefty, and the Nuggets showing a little guts to get two wins in the last three days to earn their first playoff spot in a decade.
And the Broncos traded Deltha O'Neill--addition by subtraction!
I know I was down on the sports scene just two weeks ago. But last week was really a great week of sport.
I got this e-mail over the weekend from the Coors campaign.
Pete Coors will officially announce his campaign for the U.S. Senate in a 7-city
tour around Colorado beginning Tuesday, April 13 and ending on Wednesday, April
14…Tour stops include Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Greeley, Fort Collins,
Grand Junction, Durango and Alamosa…YOU'RE INVITED TO JOIN THE COORS TEAM AT
ANY & ALL EVENTS!
TUESDAY, APRIL 13
9:15 a.m. Colorado State Capitol
200 East Colfax, Denver
11:45 a.m. Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
215 S. Tejon Street, Colorado Springs
2:45 pm Lake Elizabeth Pavilion
200 W. 1st Street, Pueblo
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14
7:45 a.m. Weld County Court House/East Steps
915 10th Street, Greeley
9:45 a.m. Old Town Square
Downtown, Fort Collins
11:45 a.m. West Star Aviation (Grand Junction Airport)
796 Heritage Way, Grand Junction
3:15 p,m. Double Tree Hotel
501 Camino Del Rio, Durango
5:30 p.m. Inn of the Rio Grande
333 Santa Fe Avenue, Alamosa
I wish I knew that he stood for more than just a self-financed Senate seat. I'm not saying I can't support him--this seat is too important to write off any viable Republican--but near as I can tell he runs a good business that makes a decent Irish Red and every once in a while sends the smell of hops wafting over the northwest suburbs.
Guess I'll find out a little at the caucus tomorrow. Maybe.
I try to tune in to at least a little of Enid Goldstein's show every day (KNRC, noon - 3); I consider it intelligence gathering and an opportunity to occassionally sharpen the rhetorical foil against the blunt instrument of her wit.
So today I tuned in to see if logic was able to prevail and the real contents of the PDB laid to rest. Sadly, no. Her invective was firmly focused on "Bush should have known!! Bush didn't do enough!! It's their fault!!" Of course, her solution was to "have more meetings" because those had been successful uncovering the millenium plot. Never mind that the millenium plot was brought to life because of one border security guard's intuition and blind luck.
So expect this topic not to go away any time soon--logic has no ability to sway the blind hatred of these people.
But just to be clear: 9-11 is the fault of Osama bin Laden; the only logical way to disrupt 9-11 would have been to disrupt his ability to breathe. And, of course, we missed that opportunity on more than one occassion back then. . .
|More on Dr. Rice's Thursday
I just finished the transcript of Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission. Much good analysis has been written about this, so I won't go too deep on that point. But I would like to bring out a few of the things that have not gotten play in the mainstream media.
Dr. Rice: there was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. . .
And indeed, in the briefings with the Clinton administration, they emphasized other priorities: North Korea, the Middle East, the Balkans. . .
Subtle, maybe too subtle, but important to point out. And let's keep in mind that one of those priorities was going to hell on the Clinton watch (the Middle East) and the other two, it turns out, were only ephemeral successes that have since been exposed as going to hell.
Dr. Rice: We were in office 233 days. And the kinds of structural changes that have been needed by this country for some time did not get made in that period of time . . .
But structural reform is hard, and in seven months we didn't have time to make the changes that were necessary
Again, you have to start thinking back to the work of the Church Commission and wonder why the Clinton administration didn't start the process of breaking down these barriers after 1993 when it became clear that the homeland was not safe.
Dr. Rice: And after September 11th, Dick Clarke sent us the after-action report that had been done after the millennium plot and their assessment was that Ressam had been caught by chance. . .
I don't think it was shaking the trees that produced the breakthrough in the millennium plot
Never underestimate the value of being lucky. Coming in to 9-11, clearly, we were not lucky, and the system was working against us being capable.
Com. Gorelick: Now, you say that -- and I think quite rightly -- that the big problem was systemic, that the FBI could not function as it should, and it didn't have the right methods of communicating with the CIA and vice versa.
But I think the question is, why, over all of these years, did we not address the structural problems that were there, with the FBI, with the CIA, the homeland departments being scattered among many different departments? And why, given all of the opportunities that we'd had to do it, had we not done it?
Umm . . . yeah. Duh.
Com. Gorelick (D): Were you briefed on Operation Infinite Resolve that was put in place in '98 and updated in the year 2000?
Because as I read Infinite Resolve, and as our staff reads Infinite Resolve, it was a plan that had been tasked by the Clinton administration to the Defense Department to develop precisely analogous plans. And it was extant at the time.
And what is quite clear from that paper is that, from the time of Presidential Directive 62, which keeps the Defense Department focused on force protection and rendition of terrorists and so forth, all the way up through the period when we take office, this issue of military plans and how to use military power with counterterrorism objectives just doesn't get addressed . . .
And, again, commissioner, what were the dates on those plans? And who would have been responsible for addressing those. . .
Sen. Kerrey(D): You've used the phrase a number of times, and I'm hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future.
You said the president was tired of swatting flies.
Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al Qaeda prior to 9/11?
RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was...
KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted?
Well, I think, Mr. Senator, that when the President of the United States speaks in first person possessive it often refers to the office and to the country. So when he says he's tired, he means he thinks that the approach of his predecessors was inadequate to the task and had shown a remarkable lack of accomplishment.
Sen. Kerrey: Please don't filibuster me. It's not fair. It is not fair. I have been polite. I have been courteous. It is not fair to me. We've all heard that clip, with it's applause, but what you may not have heard is what the Senator said just ten seconds later:
Let me ask you another question. Here's the problem that I have as I -- again, it's hindsight. I appreciate that. But here's the problem that a lot of people are having with this July 5th meeting.
You and Andy Card meet with Dick Clarke in the morning. You say you have a meeting, he meets in the afternoon. It's July 5th.
Kristen Breitweiser, who's a part of the families group, testified at the Joint Committee. She brings very painful testimony, I must say.
But here's what Agent Kenneth Williams said five days later. He said that the FBI should investigate whether al Qaeda operatives are training at U.S. flight schools. He posited that Osama bin Laden followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots, security guards and other personnel. He recommended a national program to track suspicious flight schools.
Now, one of the first things that I learned when I came into this town was the FBI and the CIA don't talk. I mean, I don't need a catastrophic event to know that the CIA and the FBI don't do a very good job of communicating.
And the problem we've got with this and the Moussaoui facts, which were revealed on the 15th of August, all it had to do was to be put on Intelink. All it had to do is go out on Intelink, and the game's over. It ends. This conspiracy would have been rolled up.
And so I...
Huh?? What was that. . .oh, I see. He needed the camera to stay on him for a little while, and, as he learned in the Senate, the best way to accomplish that is to . . . wait for it. . . filibuster.
Com. Roemer (D): So why aren't you doing something about that earlier than August 6th?
We have talked to the director at the time of the FBI during this threat period, Mr. Pickard. He says he did not tell the field offices to do this.
And we have talked to the special agents in charge. They don't have any recollection of receiving a notice of threat.
Nothing went down the chain to the FBI field offices on spiking of information, on knowledge of al Qaeda in the country, and still, the FBI doesn't do anything.
Isn't that some of the responsibility of the national security advisor?
Dr. Rice: The responsibility for the FBI to do what it was asked was the FBI's responsibility
While that seems self-evident to everybody outside the beltway, it's remarkable that this question was asked of Condi Rice and not the then-head of the FBI. What else is becoming self-evident as this process proceeds is what an enormous mistake it was to keep the Clinton holdovers in their positions when this administration took office.
Com. Thompson (R): I'll tell you what I find remarkable. One word that hasn't been mentioned once today -- yet we've talked about structural changes to the FBI and the CIA and cooperation -- "Congress."
Congress has to change the structure of the FBI. The Congress has to appropriate funds to fight terrorism. Where was the Congress?
Hmm. Wonder why that little clip never made it to the nightly news.
Dr. Rice Because the real lesson of September 11th is that the country was not properly structured to deal with the threats that had been gathering for a long period of time.
Let's hope the commission can keep its eye on the ball long enough to recognize this lesson, and to advocate a continuation of systemic changes (such as the Patriot Act) that make it easier for the country to recognize threats, coordinate responses, and protect American citizens.
What do you suppose the odds of that are?
A little while ago I got done watching "Homeland Security" on NBC. Not a great movie, even as far as TV movies go. But the cast was credible and . . .
Much to my surprise it was respectful of the efforts of those who first formed the Department of Homeland Security. It wasn't a predictable diatribe about civil rights and atrocities abroad. And it wasn't simplistic. It dwelt in gray areas and showed the handicaps that we face in this fight and how real success in this arena can't be gained by the old rules.
Still, not a great movie. But not bad after bloating on Easter feasts.
My brother, the Navy pilot, makes a very good point about Moqtada al-Sadr to argue against a direct assassination attempt. He thinks we should just wait him out and kill his followers because. . .
This is one case where the message will be stopped because all the messengers end up dying.
I like the logic. It further marginalizes this guy without giving him the status of martyr.
I see on Debka (for what it's worth) that we're now negotiating for this guy to go into exile in Iran. Not sure I like that--he'll live to fight another day. But, it seems, my brother is on the right track.
|"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again." Then they remembered his words.|
|A Matter of Priorities
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
I have not had time to read the transcript yet--though I will--and I didn't have the opportunity to see any of it, so my comments will be based solely on the coverage on the nightly news. But a few things really stood out:
First, clearly my hope that Rice would be a silver bullet to take down Clarke and the partisans on the commission was overly rosey. She did just fine, she's an impressive woman, and compared to Kerrey and ben Veniste she was a paragon of restraint and articulation. That said, this is what the delay was for? I'm neither convinced that her testimony was worth the "principle" of fighting the stream of opinion nor that any of the maneuvering had any upside whatsoever for the administration. This appears to me to have been pretty badly bungled.
Secondly, remember when Rick Lazio walked across the stage and confronted Hillary with a campaign pledge? Remember how he was attacked for looking like a bully? I wonder where those pundits were this afternoon.
Third, where the hell are the Republicans on this committee? Did it really catch them off guard that the Dems would take this opportunity to pick at this administration? Were they not prepared to set Dr. Rice up with good moments to shoot at the previous administration, Clarke, Albright, et al.? Why wasn't one of the Republican partisans willing to take a moment to point out Bob Kerrey's inconsistencies on the Iraq war? Where were they? I swear if we lose this next election its because we don't--or we refuse to--understand the nature of the opposition.
Fourth, does this display of raw partisan interest start to make it clear what we're facing? As inept as John Kerry is as a candidate, the entire weight of the mainstream media coupled with people like Ted Kennedy who will say anything and be treated deferentially, mixed with the willingness of the left to go over the top could--and will--have a cumulative effect on this President's approval. I thought the first few ads the President ran were effective, and they seem to have had some effect in the polls in the battleground states, but its time to take the gloves off. If the Dems will make raw partisan hay over 9-11, then so whould we.
As one of my colleagues said in relation to another topic, its time to impose the "Chicago Way" on this campaign. The only--ONLY--way the Dems will learn where the boundaries of good taste and propriety exist is if they get beaten. And badly.
|Oh, Yeah . . .
Another upside to the current uprising: the revelation of the Iranian involvement in this. Much better now than later.
|I Know Which Victory Party I Want To Go To
Gov. Owens announced today that Pete Coors would enter the fray for Ben Nighthorse Campbell's Senate seat. He went on to say that he intended to speak to Bob Schaffer to see if Schaffer intends to stay in the race.
This is a bizarre twist on an already strange story. The thing that seems obvious is that the powers that be do not really want a Schaffer-Salazar race, for whatever reason. That makes me think somebody's seen some numbers (or has a story) that they don't like.
Or, and I hate to be cynical, is it just that somebody at the national HQ has told Colorado not to expect much financial help, so find someone who can fund their own candidacy. The only reason I think that is that the two people that the Governor has pulled out of his hat--Liniger and Coors--are both very wealthy.
I don't really have a dog in this fight yet. I'd like to see some numbers that indicate who has the best chance of winning and keeping this seat, but I suspect it will be weeks before that happens.
|Probably Not Original, But. . .
I tend to think that what is going on in Iraq right now is a good thing. Think of the alternative: would we prefer three more months of relative peace so that in July--when the U.S. isn't in control--all this hell breaks loose? I tend to think that what we have right now is an insurrection; what we would have had in three months is a civil war. Sadr and the nihilists in Fallujah overplayed their hand, came out of the woodwork, and brought down the wrath of the exterminators.
I also think sticking to the June 30 deadline--and saying so loudly--was a brilliant tactical move. I think it might have forced their hand.
Are 30 American deaths acceptable? Of course not. And we should all say prayers for them every night. But I think you hear in the voice of the generals giving the briefings an air of confidence and preparedness and relief to be shooting at the bad guys instead of chasing shadows.
But I tend to take the optimistic view of things.
|Rockies In First Place
And I was worried about the pitching staff. . .6-2, seven innings out of Shawn Estes--good start.
If only we could unbalance the schedule and play 110 games on the road and only 52 at home. Our starters might have a prayer of making through the year.
|We Killed Yamamoto. . .
I'm curious. If, whenever we thought we knew where he was, we dropped a bomb on Saddam, then what's the hesitation to drop a bomb on Moqtada al Sadr? The last word I heard today was that he was holed up in one of his palaces--not in a mosque. Of course, his house is right next to a mosque, but from the pictures I've seen it looks like we could take out the house without even getting much dust on the mosque.
Of course, this idea is subject to rapid intel changes. He may move to the mosque, he may be elsewhere. . .I'm just saying--let's end this guy.
Oh, and while we're at it, let's shut off all the roads from Iran into Iraq for a few weeks. All we need is for the mullahs to try a live experiment of their nuclear program in Iraq.
So, Mr Clarke. The Clinton administration had "no higher priority" than rolling up al Qaeda and ending them.
From the last Congressional Security Briefing (courtesy Wash Times):
The Clinton administration's final national-security report stated that its reaction to terrorist strikes was to "neither forget the crime, nor ever give up on bringing the perpetrators to justice."
Except, I suppose, you know, when somebody offers TO HAND OVER THE LEADER OF THE TERRORIST ORGANIZATION TO YOU. But perhaps that's too harsh. If only we'd seen him, gotten a good fix on himm so we could. . . oh, no, no, no. WE DID THAT, TOO!
You know, we should ask for these guys to be put in charge of the recruiting investigation at CU. We'd be virtually guaranteed a BCS in the years to come.
|Change of Plans
Here I was, all set to post a radical idea for the restructuring of K-12 education, when the events in Iraq make the whole exercise seem, well, silly. I guess if I scold some for taking their eye off the ball, I need to keep it there, as well. So the education post will wait for another day.
In the meantime, be sure to keep the troops and their commanders in your prayers tonight.
|Light Posting Tonight
Frankly, a little too busy today to pull together too many coherent thoughts. So I'll just put up some stray thoughts and go.
The conventional wisdom is starting to say that the Dick Clarke affair has not hurt the President. But remember: this is a twelve-round fight. In the second round, it's easy to say that the big roundhouse that deflects off your shoulder didn't hurt you. But in the tenth round, when that shoulder is throbbing and making it hard to keep your guard up, that big swing-and-a-miss in the second begins to look a little more important.
I watched parts of the Avalanche game today, between trips up the ladder and what-not. Another come-from-ahead loss. I swear, between the lack of apparent will to win on their part, the late-season swoon of the Nuggets, and the impending start of the Rockies season, I'm contemplating some serious sports hibernating. Even the Final Four, as interesting as yesterday's games were, hasn't really managed to hold my attention. Just hand the remote to the wife and wake me up in August.
|On A Lighter Note
It's Saturday, and I actually got to spend some time sitting on the couch with the wife tonight. Sadly, what we spent our time doing was watching "Mona Lisa Smile." So bad. Not just inane dialogue and pointless angst about the fate of women 50 years ago. They even managed, by dressing her down, to make Julia Roberts nearly unwatchable. Nearly.
The obvious parallels to "Dead Poets' Society" were blatant, ill-disguised, and cheap. But somehow, the difficulties of young men trying to find an individual voice through the inspiration of a talented teacher had resonance; the limitations on the choices of women (barren academic success vs. marriage and family, however hollow) is so irrelevant in today's world that I wonder why this attempt was even made.
I know. . .this was the first movie intended to reach the markets of recently liberated Afghanistan. That's it!! Women with freedoms and choices and the right of self-determination--how novel!!
And this was supposed to compete with "The Return of the King"? Puh-leeze.
|Yes, Well, What We Meant Was. . .
The Wash Times today has an interesting editorial on the dependence of the Democrats to unregulated money. Some of the smarter pundits noted a couple years ago, when McCain-Feingold passed, how it had the potential to work badly against the Democrats. Seems they were right. To quote:
The Republican hard-money advantage significantly expanded in January and February. The Republican National Committee raised $48 million during the first two months of 2004, four times what the DNC raised. Collecting nearly $10 million during the same two months, the GOP Senate campaign committee more than doubled the take of its Democratic counterpart. And the Republican House campaign committee's $16 million effort for January and February was nearly five times what the Democratic House committee raised.
Unable to compete in the hard-money arena, Mr. Kerry and his fellow hypocritical Democrats, assisted by liberal interest groups, have once again become addicted to soft money.
'Hypocritical.' Hmm. Interesting adjective, don't you think?
|New Respect for C.S.Lewis
Over the last few weeks I have been reading the C.S.Lewis parody "The Screwtape Letters." I posted once before on a quick impression one of the early ones made on me, and now that I have completed it, I will post at greater length.
The book itself is a compilation of the mythical correspondence between Screwtape, an Administrative level devil, and Wormwood, his apprentice who is charged with the corruption of a single soul in England at the onset of World War II. As parody, it must be understood not to be taken literally; in fact, the author himself writes "Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle."
That said, this is a remarkable work of prescience. Many of the "techniques" Screwtape attempts to confer upon Wormwood have actually been recognizable patterns of thought in recent memory. I am sure that Lewis is merely commenting on trends that he noticed in his own lifetime, but it is remarkable that this is so relevant 60 years after it was written.
Most interestingly, I found myself constantly making mental references while I was reading to the current political season. Believe me, I set out to read this as a meditation on good and evil and humor; I had no desire to mire myself even further in the political world. But it intruded.
As an example: In letter 29 Screwtape writes
"We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, the Enemy [God] permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important in human eyes that all our work is ondone,. . .In peace we can make many of them ignore good and evil entirely; in danger, the issue is forced upon them in a guise to which even we cannot blind them."
Sound familiar? In the late 90's it was fashionable to seek international approval and a sense of colleagiality about employing military efforts, and at that, only when it could be accomplished with a minimum of loss of life--in other words, with a minimum investment of courage. Even when the most obvious of atrocities is being perpetrated on the world (the Iraqi gassing of the Kurds, evidence of which was confirmed in 1993, and the Rwanda genocide), we managed to justify not getting involved, though the obvious courageous thing to do would have been to step in.
Even the big news of the last cycle confirms cowardice in its ascendancy. When asked why President Clinton never contemplated direct action when video of Osama was in his hands, Richard Clarke replied in part "you have to remember that this was a President who was accused of a 'wag the dog' scenario when he employed force on prior occasions." In other words, because his political courage was insufficient to rise to the necessities of his responsibilities as the Commander-in-Chief of the United States.
He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or hones or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky. Without taking the obvious shot at the "chastity" piece, let us consider the actions of the firefighters and police in the wake of 9-11, and the public perception of the same in the months prior to that day. Remember, in the summer of 2001, the only time you heard the police in the national news was when they were being accused of being racist and brutal, particularly in Cincinnatti. It seemed as if the Thin Blue Line was under assault from every quarter, often just for doing their jobs. Thankfully, that changed on September 11.The country was able to recognize and applaud the real courage of men and women who make your safety their vocation. The country acted as if having seen that courage for the first time in many years, and to continue in that lucidity as a President talked to emergency personnel and threw a pitch from the most exposed location on earth (the mound at Yankee Stadium) within days of that horrific event. In natural fashion, that adoration transferred over to the troops who went and did the country's business in Afghanistan.
Contrast that recognition with the words of John Kerry thirty years ago. This from a man who had been in combat, served with men doing their country's business, and who had little relish for their jobs, much less for the disdain of a public that could not find it in their political myopia to recognize their service. Such a betrayal by John Kerry could be contemplated if anything in his public life since demonstrated the kind of courage that a conscientious objector would carry with them. Unfortunately, Sen. Kerry has developed a laughable habit of avoiding taking courageous stands on nearly every issue since. Or, to be more accurate, to take two contrary stands on nearly every issue since.
Sadly, how quickly we slip back into old habits--Screwtape would be proud! In a later letter he extols the virtue of not stepping out from the crowd or being excellent, on the grounds that corruption of the spirit to be as small as everybody else is a deliciously simple form of damnation.
Sounds like the United Nations.
|Just a Quick Note on the Rice 9-11 Speech
I haven't said much about the Left's 'big' news that Condi Rice was going to give a speech on 9-11 that talked mostly about missile defense and little about terrorism, mostly because I don't care. Nor do I think most Americans really care. Nor do I think that focusing on missile defense in any way diminishes our ability to focus on terrorism
But, just for the record, let's remember that only 5 months prior to 9-11 the BIG news story was the collision of an American EP3 surveillance plane with a Chines warplane, which was then being held in Chinese territory.
Yeah, ya gotta take care of the cockroaches; but when the dragon just singed your hair, it's a good idea to keep it on the radar screen, as well.
|Your Turn Soon, Fellows
Hard to laud the good jobs news without noting that two of the RMA-ers are very recently jobless. Hold the Faith, gents--He will provide.
|The Jobs Are Comin', The Jobs Are Comin'
Finally, the laggingest lagging indicator started to tick up, beginning to finally close the door on the Clinton/9-11 Recession.
In a related development, the Kerry campaign released an add today about the disappearance of jobs. This guy's got all the timing and sense of the moment of Chris Webbber when he played for the U of Michigan.
|So Much For That Theory
Spanish officials found a 26-pound bomb planted on the tracks of their high-speed rail line Friday. Important graf:
Interior Minister Angel Acebes said it was too early to say who planted the bomb. However, authorities believe it was placed at the scene Friday because the bag was dry and the ground was wet, and a 450-foot-long cable attached to a detonator looked new.
Guess the whole idea of placating the terrorists by announcing a pullout from Iraq and a softening of the stance against the Basque separatists didn't quite pan out.
Maybe, just maybe, the bomb failed because the people left behind after the massive sweepup of suspects were so incompetent that they just couldn't put the darn thing together right. Boy, I sure hope those poor guys being stored down at Gitmo can go free soon so real competent terrorists can get out and put those weapons together right.
|She Says It Better
Peggy Noonan, in her inimitable prose, says about Fallujah what I was trying to say last night. Only she says it better. What a surprise.