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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|About Time, But . . .|
The Justice Department has opened another investigation into leaks of classified information, this time to determine who divulged the existence of President Bush's secret domestic spying program.
The inquiry focuses on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials said.
First of all, "President Bush's secret domestic spying program"?? How many biases can be revealed in one incidental clause?
But, secondly, as much as the entire right side of the blogosphere and, indeed, much of the media, has been clamoring for this very investigation, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for justice to be served. I suspect we'll all still be waiting for indictments at about this time next year.
Which will give us something in common with our Lefty friends, who will still be waiting for that indictment of Karl Rove.
|Notes On "Narnia"|
Finally got around to seeing "Narnia" today with the whole family. And, in what may be the strongest recommendation I can give, THE WHOLE FAMILY LOVED IT! Me, of course; the oldest was very interested and got a lot of the symbolism; the youngest was captured by the talking animals, and stuck with it through the whole 2-1/2 hours; and even the Bewitching Mrs. Best Destiny said afterwards that she would pay to see it again.
Since I can add nothing new to the discussion of the movie itself, I won't try. But let me make a few observations.
First, we saw the movie at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday, and the theater was at 80-85% capacity. In week three of full release. Clearly, the movie has sticking power.
Second, much to my surprise, a huge part of the audience was NOT at the movie with their children. Right in front of us was a 45-year old lady with her mother. Certainly breaks away from any image of a "children's movie"
And, thirdly, looking at the people in the crowd, and the size of the crowd, and the content of the movie, YOU WOULD THINK HOLLYWOOD WOULD CLUE IN HERE A LITTLE BIT!! Memo to studio: you're not in a slump because of the economy, you're in a slump because you make a lot--A LOT--of crappy movies. Make a few more like "Narnia," and your audience will happily shell out the 16 bucks for the ticket, the popcorn and the soda.
|Speaking Of The Courts|
Somebody sitting on one of them can ACTUALLY READ THE FIRST AMENDMENT! [hat tip: CQ]
A federal appeals court has upheld a display of the Ten Commandments alongside other historical documents in the Mercer County, Ky., courthouse.
The judge who wrote the opinion blasted the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the display, in language that echoed the type of criticism often directed at the organization.
Judge Richard Suhrheinrich's ruling said the ACLU brought "tiresome" arguments about the "wall of separation" between church and state, and it said the organization does not represent a "reasonable person."
Heh, heh, heh. "The ACLU does not represent a 'reasonable person.'" Heh, heh, heh.
|Not At All Sure Where To Begin|
This "guest commentary" that the Denver Post saw fit to publish left me speechless.
It's not that it's ill-informed--we're very used to that from the Left; it's not that it follows no discernible line of logic--again, standard fare; and it's not that it is completely bereft of alternative courses of action--that's actually the policy position of Nancy Pelosi.
It's that the Denver Post gave this pointless screed an entire guest column--easily three times the length of your standard letter to the editor.
Just a sampling:
I wonder if that might have anything to do with the fact that all the branches of our military are finding it increasingly difficult to attract young people into their ranks [never mind that re-enlistment among combat units is astronomical]
We are told we entered the war because of faulty intelligence. Then, we discovered that most of this faulty intelligence came from Vice President Dick Cheney's private sources, who were often at odds with our own intelligence services. What was their angle? [Huh?]
Every veteran knows that when the U.S. held the moral high ground on torture, U.S. prisoners expected reasonably humane treatment if captured. What treatment can they expect now? [Umm . . . how about beheading, burning, being dragged through the streets and then hung from a bridge--all of which happened before "Abu Graib" became code. And, by the way, how did that "moral high ground" help our troops in Vietnam? Big help getting out of those rattan boxes eh?]
For that reason, income taxes have always increased significantly during war time. This administration, for the first time in history, declared war and lowered taxes. [Yes, and the economy is growing, unemployment is down, personal income is up--LET'S KILL HIM!]
What is funny about this is that on this same day the local lefty blog has been overrun by the nutter class, also [It is the betrayal of human hope, as all of the oppressed and exploited peoples of Earth that have looked to America as the bulwark of democracy, liberty, and justice, now encounter a vindictive and brutal nationalism and an indifferent, flag waving chauvinism in the American people, who seem to think that only American lives are of any value]. It is very much as if they've come completely unhinged over the last three days, coming to realize that all their screaming isn't doing any good, that the 12-year old public has more sense about security than they do, and that they're about to lose control of the courts.
For my money, devote 12 column-inches every day to this sort of childishness. And then ask the public who they trust to protct them.
|Maybe They Should Call David Boies|
For several days now we have been regaled by tales of great unrest in the Iraqi populace.
At least five Iraqis and a U.S. soldier were killed in violence in Iraq on Sunday as fresh street protests over election results kept up tension that has soured the mood after a peaceful ballot 10 days ago . . .
And so on. The Left--granted, just the ones WAY out there--has latched on to this as evidence that everything is tainted and we can never pull Iraq together through the political process. Well, not so fast:
A senior U.N. official said Wednesday that Iraq's parliamentary elections were credible and the results should stand, angering Sunni Arabs who have taken to the streets demanding a new vote.
Look, anyone who reads this regularly knows I am no big fan of the U.N.; but for them to come out and validate this election says an awful lot about this.
Maybe the Sunnis should take their cue from the Democrats: protest, call in Jesse Jackson, and then get David Boies (remember him? Bush v. Gore?) to argue the case.
Because we all know, what you can't get at the ballot box might just be in reach if you scream loud enough and then sue.
|Oh, Yeah--That'll Help. You Betcha.|
With an almost pitch-perfect comic sense of timing, you get these two stories today:
More than 30 Iraq and Persian Gulf War veterans have entered congressional races across the country as Democrats, hoping to capitalize on their military experience to topple the incumbent Republican majority.
Some centrist Democrats say attacks by their party leaders on the Bush administration's eavesdropping on suspected terrorist conversations will further weaken the party's credibility on national security. . . .
Republicans led the Democrats by 40 percent to 36 percent on questions about which party can keep the country safe, 45 percent to 40 percent on which party can be trusted on national security and 48 percent to 38 percent on "which party can be trusted more to fight terrorism," the DLC said.
The great, great irony is that all of these numbers come out in the wake, albeit diminishing, of Jack Murtha's latest call for a pullout--oh, sorry, an "immediate strategic redeployment." Jack Murtha, of course, is a highly decorated former Marine whose combat credentials are nearly unparalleled. HIS hue and cry on a national security issue did nothing for the Democrats in that regard, why should anybody else's bona fides work that elusive magic?
The problem for Democrats is not their lack of military credentials; their problem is that a good majority of the country recognizes that common sense demands that the President do what is necessary to protect the country, and that the leadership of the Democratic Party--the trio of Howie, Harry and Nancy--is so far out of the mainstream of American thought on this issue that a vote for Democratic leadership is ill-advised, at best, and dangerous, at worst.
But nobody--NOBODY--should disparage or diminish the contributions that any of these 30 have made to American security in the past. But what somebody should do--on the record--is get every single one of them to commit themselves to a position on the Patriot Act, on recent surveillance revelations (and the national security implications of the leaks), and, most importantly, on the Iraq War. And then, you know, see how everything plays out in the next ten months and hold them accountable for their positions.
|Another Offering From Today's Dailies|
Though, sadly, this one much less, shall we say, lucid.
Ed Quillen is, near as I can tell, the resident curmudgeon on staff at the Denver Post. His political leanings go from liberatarian to hard liberal, with little in between.
Take today's offering. He starts out in pretty safe ground:
Congress is supposed to be a deliberative body where laws emerge after discussion, hearings and debate. . . .
The USA Patriot Act is 345 pages long. It's difficult to believe that any member of Congress had time to read it and digest it in a month, and indeed, some said they hadn't even seen it, much less read it. . . .
The USA Patriot Act is 345 pages long. It's difficult to believe that any member of Congress had time to read it and digest it in a month, and indeed, some said they hadn't even seen it, much less read it.
Of course, that'll never happen, but it actually does have the ring of rationality to it. Fairly normal liberatarian/conservative sort of thinking.
And then the pendulum swings WILDLY over to the hard liberal:
let's get real here. What difference do laws make to President Bush?
He claims the authority to arrest anyone, anywhere in the world, as an enemy combatant, and to hold that person without filing criminal charges. He has our government running secret prisons in Europe, a power I haven't found in Article II of the Constitution, which enumerates the authority of the president. His administration claims the power to tap communications without a warrant. He fought to reserve the authority to torture people in U.S. custody. His appointees defend a process of turning prisoners over to other countries for, shall we say, more enthusiastic interrogations.
Laws, treaties, our Constitution - Bush has always been able to find someone who will tell us that he's really acting within the bounds of his office.
Well, never mind a point-by-point refutation: all of these assertions have been soundly smacked down by more gifted smackers-down than I. The point is that the curmudgeonly "voice of reason" is so far detached from reasonability that he doesn't even recognize the need for a smooth segue from normal to deranged.
This is why David Harsanyi is must-reading for subscribers to the Post. Someone needs to be tethered to reality. (By the way, if you haven't read his column on a successful blogger--and, thus, the possibilities for the new media--you should)
|An Important Point On the ID Debate|
I'm not one who gets terribly worked up over the teaching of evolution in the schools--like most things, students get hit over the head with this stuff the whole time they're in "soft America", but still have the wherewithal to come to their own conclusions once they're out in the "real world."
But what does bother me is when the Courts begin to declare what can and cannot be accepted as science, creating their own sort of Scientific Creed. Paul Campos of the Rocky Mountain News makes the point rather eloquently in this morning's paper:
A sure sign that a belief system has triumphed over its opponents is that it stops thinking of itself as a belief system at all. Instead it becomes "what every rational person knows to be the case," or "simple common sense," or, more concisely still, "the truth." In other words, the truly orthodox never think of themselves as orthodox. This allows them to crush all dissent to their orthodoxy with a good conscience, since what reasonable objection could there be to sincere attempts to stamp out self-evident falsehoods? . . .
Another interesting feature of orthodoxy is that it tends to cause a species of mental retardation in otherwise intelligent people.
In the same way that the "science" of global warming has become part of the classroom--without contrary opinion offered--and the same way that liberals choose to ignore the advances of science that SHOULD have changed the rationale for Roe v. Wade, the Evolution Orthodoxy has now entered that realm of liberal thought that is, far more than what the political Right is capable of enforcing, sacrosanct territory in the liberal mind. The unwillingness to entertain the debate is evidence itself of the weakness of the argument, and represents a tragic devolution frrom what "liberal" is supposed to mean.
|Don't Forget Those Unintended Consequences|
This story came from the Monday Washington Times:
The roughly $40 million tax that Democrats in the Maryland legislature levied on the state's health-maintenance organizations soon will be passed along almost entirely to consumers, state regulators say.
The 2 percent tax on HMO premiums, which the General Assembly passed over Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto, will cost a family of four about $200 more a year.
Mr. Ehrlich and other Republican leaders warned last year that the tax would be paid by patients and called it a "misguided tax" from an anti-business, Democrat-controlled legislature.
"Unfortunately, patients in Maryland, not the tax-and-spend General Assembly leadership, are the only ones who will pay for this costly lesson in basic common-sense economics,"
Just remember that the next time your Democratic legislature tries to tell you about the need to "protect consumers from the greed of [fill in the blank]" Remember that their idea of "protection" ultimately is just a round-about way of taking more money out of your pocket and putting it into their coffers.
|Not Sure What To Make Of This|
I took my oldest to see the new "Harry Potter" movie today. It was really quite enjoyable--very well-done, good moments of both drama and humor. And, as an aside, in consideration of both this movie and "Narnia" and "Munich", how is it that writers of children's books get it when so many others fail to . . .or refuse to? That thought struck when, towards the end, Dumbledore makes the observation that a time is coming when everyone will have to choose between what is right and what is easy.
But I digress.
One of the trailers was for the new "Superman" movie due to come out this summer. And, to quote Kallel [inexact quote from memory] speaking of humans:
Their great strength is their capacity for good. But they are lost, waiting to be shown the light. Therefore, I send you to them, my only son . . ."
Are the makers of this film going to try to pose Superman as a Messiah-figure? You know, I don't know the answer to the question, but it really leapt off the screen at me, and I can't imagine that particular choice of words escaped the notice of too many people.
Just a thought.
|No Wonder The Senate Hasn't Gotten Anything Done|
I have no way of confirming this, nor do I have any reason to believe--or to disbelieve--its authenticity. So, with that disclaimer, I would like to reproduce this e-mail notification I got on Friday from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
I write to share good news with you about a new student aid initiative that represents a dramatic step toward promoting math and science education and ensuring Americaâ€™s economic competitiveness in the future. We know that China and India are generating scientists and engineers at a furious pace while America lags dangerously behind. Study after study calls for the government to act to address this problem. Passage of this program represents real action.
The new student aid program I created is called a SMART Grant. SMART Grants will provide $4000 per year to Pell Grant-eligible students who maintain a 3.0 GPA and major in math, science, engineering, technology, or foreign languages critical to national security during their third and fourth years of college. That means a Pell Grant-eligible student will obtain up to $8000 in additional assistance toward the cost of college if he or she chooses to major in those fields. These funds will incentivize more students to major in these time-intensive studies and help America produce the workforce it needs to compete in todayâ€™s global economy. The bill also provides Academic Competitiveness Grants to first and second year students. $750 will go to first year students who complete a rigorous high school curriculum, and $1300 will go to second year students who complete a rigorous high school curriculum and maintain a 3.0 GPA in college. President Bush and Chairman Boehner (R-OH) deserve praise and credit for their leadership on these grants.
I have attached a chart that summarizes the tremendous college savings students can achieve through the SMART and Academic Competitiveness programs. SMART Grant recipients will save up to 75% on their college education!The SMART and Academic Competitiveness Grants are authorized at $3.75 billion over five years and are paid for with program savings included in the budget deficit reduction bill approved by the Senate this morning.
These grants will help sustain Americaâ€™s global legacy as a land of innovation, imagination, and initiative. I invite you to spread the word â€“ please tell students, teachers, parents, and community leaders about SMART and the difference these grants will make to Americaâ€™s students and the country as a whole.
"I write to share good news . . . ." Okay, Senator. How about the good news about renewal of the Patriot Act? How about the good news about breaking through the filibuster on ALL judicial appointments? How about the good news about opening up ANWR to drilling? No?
Of course not. Guess those weren't among his great priorities this session.
|I Bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.|
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
May the joy of the season and the abundant blessings of the Lord rest on you and your family this day, and every day.
|A Little Help Please|
A few years back in the Christmas season there was an episode of "The West Wing" entitled "Holy Night" which featured a performance by a group called the Whiffenpoofs. Or something like that.
Apparently, they are a men's choir from Yale (or perhaps Dartmouth--some Ivy League school), and, at that, are pretty darn good.
At any rate, they sang a version of O, Holy Night, which is the best version I've ever heard, hands down. And I've heard a lot of versions of that Christmas Carol!! By a long shot, it's my favorite Carol, and this version blows me away.
Anyway, I've tried Googling it, and came up empty. I've also tried to find them on the Yale website, to no avail. Could somebody out there help me find a recording of this group?! Please. Just leave any thoughts in the comments.
I appreciate it!
|Yea, I say, Congressman Sensenbrenner!|
Congress gave the Bush administration's anti-terrorism powers one more month of life Thursday, with work finished by a lone senator sitting in the virtually empty Senate chamber. . .
Approval in the House came on a voice vote in a nearly empty chamber after Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, refused to agree to a six-month extension the Senate had cleared several hours earlier. . . .
If I'm reading the politics of this correctly, what Sensenbrenner has done is thrown down the gauntlet one more time for the Senate. By forcing the issue to be resolved next month, he has effectively taken it out of the election cycle of next summer, and he's forced his GOP counterparts in the Senate to have to deal with this shortly after returning home from a vacation chock-full of constituents telling them to get their &$^@@! together.
By the way, I would recommend everybody call their Senators tomorrow and again next week and again the following week to express your frustration with the Senate.
|Is It Possible To Be Prophetic and Completely Wrong At The Same Time|
One of my odd little self-assigned projects of late has been a re-reading of the Federalist Papers. With the contentious debate over Supreme Court nominees since about July 1st, it seemed to me germaine to know exactly what the views of the Founding Fathers were on the Judiciary and the Senate's role to confirm judges. Of course, in the process, I'm getting a retty solid tutorial in American government, the use of language, and persuasive argumentation.
But I digress. . . .
Consider these words of James Madison in Federalist #58:
Those who represent the dignity of their country in the eyes of other nations, will be particularly sensible to every prospect of public danger, or of dishonorable stagnation in public affairs.
And then consider the recent behavior of Senate Democrats.
It seems to me that Madison foresaw the need for members of the legislature to be not just sensible, but, perhaps, alarmed at potential dangers to the country, and also that the potential existed for zero-movement political games.
Unfortunately, James Madison never met the modern Democratic Party.
Sensible to public danger? Hardly. Why else would the Homeland Security Department have been held up because of Union protections; the Patriot Act demagogued and then "killed" in a time of war with a shadowy and clever enemy; and the Defense Appropriations Bill blocked--stagnated--because some Senators would prefer to continue shifting billions of dollars a year to the middle east oil cartels rather than look for oil right here at home.
Perhaps James Madison knew a better class of politician. Harry Reid, or Thomas Jefferson? Nancy Pelosi, or Alexander Hamilton? Howard Dean, or Andrew Jackson? Yeah, I agree . . . not a very favorable comparison.
|Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory|
to be considered an addendum to commentary of "No Senators Need Apply"
Senate Democrats succeeded on Wednesday in killing a Republican plan to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that was part of a massive $453 billion wartime military spending bill that later passed.
and . . .
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday ended a high-stakes impasse and voted to extend for six months key provisions of the anti-terrorism USA Patriot Act set to expire in 10 days.
And I was just starting to feel optimistic that the GOP Senate leadership was starting to show a little real leadership. Tacking ANWR into the Defense Appropriations Bill was a master stroke which also happens to be the correct thing to do; and there is no way that the Democrats were going to live down filibustering the Patriot Act. And keep that in mind: THEY COULDN"T KILL THE PATRIOT ACT, ALL THEY COULD DO WAS BLOCK IT! So the GOP was in good shape with the Dems deciding to take the completely untenable position of blocking the funding for the DOD in a time of war and blocking the Patriot Act during . . . well, a time of war.
AND BILL FRIST BLINKED!!! How does a Majority Leader with a 55-44 advantage continue finding new and infuriating ways to lose?
So we're where we've been all along: our dependence on middle eastern oil is firmly codified while we're blocked from finding our own resources, and the Dems have managed to push six months further down the road the approval of something they hate BUT WHICH WORKS. This lets them make it a huge fundraising thing for the mid-terms, while essentially accomplishing nothing for the country.
Nice Work, Senators Frist, Specter, DeWine, Sununu, et al. Way to go.
Anybody want to place bets on the over/under for donations to the NRSC over the next week? The line begins at $1500.
|Linking Tonight, Not Thinking|
A good point on the Intelligent Design debate--or, more appropriately, the Evolution non-debate.
This should scare you. Keep this in mind as the Senate votes on e-authorizing the Patriot Act tomorrow.
Evidence of echo chamber thinking? You decide (read down to post about NY transit strike).
Illegal? Impeachable? Never has been before.
|A Question, Good Senators|
If a terrorist slips across our Southern border and hooks up with an arms dealer who provides him with high explosives, and then proceeds to live and work in my city until the time is right to set off a catastrophic explosion, which kills my children, how would you say my children's civil liberties have been protected?
Or, let me rephrase . . .
If a terrorist (who we could not hold onto after having him in custody for fear it would be deemed "degrading") slips across our Southern border (which is wide open because you demagogue and then refuse to increase security measures to stem illegal immigration) and hooks up with an arms dealer (who is well-known to the intelligence community but, thanks to "the wall", is unknown to law enforcement) who provides him with high explosives (which came from some place (ahem . .Syria) you refuse to confront, and were paid for from oil money which was in his pocket because your intransingence on ANWAR forced our dependence on middle eastern oil), and then proceeds to live and work in my city (because you refuse to pass a national ID law or force employers to report properly) until the time is right to set off a catastrophic explosion (which he had previously annouced to his overseas benefactors, but we didn't know about it because we're not allowed to listen to overseas phone calls), which kills my children (because he targeted them--because these scum love targeting children), how would you say my children's civil liberties have been protected?
By the way, don't feel bad for the terrorist: his family will be well taken care of because he was allowed to invest in private retirement accounts (which you refuse to allow over here) overseas--in Chile, perhaps.
|A Second War, Joined|
This President, famously, has finally recognized the evil that Islamicist terrorism poses to the Western World, and shortly after the attacks of 9/11 started to finally put the American military into serious play against it (unlike the efforts of his three predecessors).
Now, it would appear the President has finally recognized the danger posed to American interests by the American intelligence bureaucracy:
This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.
After what seems like a four-year endless stream of leaks from the intelligence community--many of them timed to do the most political damage possible to George W Bush--it's about time the administration took them seriously.
Look, if Washington can get its collective panties into a bundle over the revelation of the faux secret identity of Valerie Plame, it should certainly be very worked up over the revelation of a secret airline, top secret prisons, interrogation techniques, and, now, some of our surveillance techniques and capabilities. Why hasn't it been? Well, I suppose the obvious answer--bias against the President--is really the important one. But it's also the inherent mistrust of the USE of American power so ingrained in the bureaucracy, codified by the Church Commission 30-odd years ago, and improved upon by the Clinton administration and its chief bulldog, Jamie Gorelick.
Perhaps a little Presidential kick in the pants can "encourage" the outrage.
|So Many Titles, So Little Time . . .|
I toyed with a lot of possibilities for a title for this post. First was "And the Democratic nominee for President . . .Chuck Hagel!!" Then there was "Wouldn't It Be A Great Irony If Al-Qaeda Blew Up The Senate?" Then was "Would One Serious Senator Please Stand Up?" And, of course, "How To Snatch Defeat Right Out Of The Jaws of Victory." Plus, as well, "I Hate To Play Politics With Something As Serious As This."
But, finally I couldn't settle on just one, so I waffled. Hey! I could be a Senator!
So, to review the days' news, or at least the important parts of it:
:The NYTimes reveals--in front page bold--that the Bush administration approved rules for, and has executed, eavesdropping on civilians for the last few years.
:Among the fruits of that labor, the interdiction and arrest of a bad guy.
Several officials said the eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. What appeared to be another Qaeda plot, involving fertilizer bomb attacks on British pubs and train stations, was exposed last year in part through the program, the officials said.
:Let's not forget, in the four-plus years since 9/11, there has not been a single successful attack on American soil.
:The Senate move to renew the Patriot Act--which had the support of a majority--was blocked by a Democratic filibuster, aided and abetted by four Republicans.
So we do A, with the knowledge of both parties on the Hill, and it leads to a success; in addition, we have in place B, which is obviously working. So as soon as A becomes public knowledge we have a public meltdown (with calls from Specter for an investigation), and on the same day the Senate waffles on B and refuses to allow a vote.
How do you lose a war? Take whatever you have that's working, and stop doing it.
Oh, yeah, and all this just a day after what should be regarded in later years as the pivotal event of the early 21st century, which was relegated to afterthought in one grand sweep of the Times' pen.
:Chuck Hagel needs to stop sniffing the product of the ethanol subsidies. If he thinks he has a PRAYER of being a serious player in the GOP Presidential race in 08, he's deeply--I would say dangerously--delusional.
:I applaud Senator Frist for forcing a vote on this today, and for also not caving in on calls for a temporary renewal. I think he should call for a vote on it every day for the next six months, so that the record is unequivocal and let that record ride into the mid-term elections. Note the two Dems who sided with the GOP on this are from red states, one with a re-election looming: Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Johnson of Nebraska.
I must admit, I had some worries about the Patriot Act when it was first proposed, mostly because of the distinct possibility that at some point it would have been an Attorney General Clinton deciding how to enforce it. But, given that there's NOT ONE single case on record of an abuse of the Act, I'm confident that the administration is using it strictly to enforce the GWOT, and I now support it.
But more importantly, I am appalled at the utter lack of seriousness of the Senate, and in particular Senate Democrats (with their strange dupes), given the state of perpetual war the US finds itself in now. One would have hoped they would have a longer memory, but, apparently, part of the 'progressive' mindset is a purging of anything over four years old.
|Local Coverage Of History|
Out of curiosity, I tried to watch the first ten minutes or so of the three local networks' 10 pm new tonight, just to see how they covered the overwhelmingly positive news out of Iraq today.
Channel 7 KMGH news got around to the story about 6 minutes into the broadcast--I think it was third or fourth in their lineup--and centered their coverage around a middle east studies "expert" from the University of Colorado at Denver. He was introduced as a skeptic of the elections, and the bottom line was his "surprise" at the Sunni turnout and the lack of violence.
Channel 4 KCNC, as of 10:10 when I gave up, still had not gotten around to covering this story.
Channel 9 KUSA, to its great credit, led their broadcast with pictures of Iraqis dancing in the street, and then several minutes of coverage of the great success. While I was flipping to the other stations, I couldn't hear all of the commentary by the anchors, but I heard very little in the way of editorializing and nothing snarky.
I'm not sure who has the highest ratings at 10 pm, but I think its channel 9, which means a pretty decent number of Denverites saw something positive about Iraq lead off the news . That, on the whole, is a good thing. Perhaps even a reason to watch local news again.
Nah. Best still stick to the rebroadcast of "Special Report."
|A Tale Of Two Editorials|
Both the Washington Post and the Washington Times run lead editorials today about the Iraqi vote. If you're wondering where the ideological divide runs, just compare opening and closing grafs from the two.
WaPo: THE IRAQI parliamentary election campaign has offered welcome evidence that the country could yet find stability under a democratic political system. Thousands of candidates and dozens of slates have been vigorously campaigning for the 275 seats in what will be Iraq's first full-fledged legislature. The country's most pressing issues, from the devolution of government power to the human rights violations of the current Shiite-led government, have been hotly debated. In contrast to January's election of an interim National Assembly, a large turnout is expected today in the Sunni-populated areas of Iraq where the armed insurgency is based. Unlike October's constitutional referendum, the parliamentary vote inherently strengthens the cause of a unified Iraq.
The election, however, will not provide a turning point toward stability and American success . . .
WaTimes: President Bush has warned that setbacks are possible in today's Iraqi election, the third and most important of this year's Iraqi elections and the one in which voters choose the country's first full-term and fully constitutional legislature. But that was probably just caution speaking: In reality there is a very significant reason to be optimistic about this election, and that is the Sunni vote.
WaPo: While he can't determine the election results, Mr. Bush can use the full weight of U.S. leverage to press the major Iraqi parties, beginning with the Supreme Council, to choose compromise and a unified Iraq over sectarianism and civil war. Should the administration fail in this objective, there may be no Iraq that American troops can defend.
WaTimes: But today, Iraqis raise the purple finger in salute to the ideal of democracy. Tyrants across the Middle East will shudder. Success for Iraqi democracy means their autocratic days are numbered.
Just in case you didn't know where the divide was. Somewhere between reflexive pessimism and optimism.
|Why Can't Anybody Do The Math For Themselves?|
From the LATimes: President Bush said Monday that the war in Iraq had claimed the lives of 30,000 Iraqi citizens in addition to 2,140 U.S. troops, but that the establishment of a durable democracy there would ultimately justify the sacrifice.
From the AP: In a rare, unscripted moment, President Bush on Monday estimated 30,000 Iraqis have died in the war, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the high price Iraqis have paid in the push for democracy.
From Reuters: U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday about 30,000 Iraqis have been killed since the Iraq war began and predicted this week's election will not be perfect but will be part of a Middle East turning point.
None of these "news outlets" bothered to do a little simple math after breathlessly reporting the sensational number of Iraqi dead. So, allow me:
So far, we have found in mass graves the bodies of roughly 400,000 Iraqis--and that's supposedly the low-end number, and that's only of the ones we know about. So if go with that number, and we know that Saddam was in power for, what, 30 years? That's an average of . . . let's see . . .carry the one . . . 39 . . . . an average of about 13,000 Iraqis killed by Saddam every year. And, like I said, that's just the ones we know about.
So, if the invasion started 1000 days ago (as Brian Williams boldly stated on tonight's news), that means we've been there for . . . let's see . . . about 2.75 years.
SO . . . (I'm going slow for CS) in the normal life of Iraq, pre-invasion, during a 2.75-year span, on average 35,750 Iraqis would have been murdered by Saddam. And that number doesn't include the number tortured, raped, with limbs cut off, the children brutally killed in front of their parents, the wives disfigured in front of their husbands--all for nothing but the advancement of a murderous regime.
On the other hand, the 30,000 who have died since the invasion include the hundreds of brave Iraqis killed at police training centers, killed while standing in line to sign up to be in the Iraqi army, and killed while trying to push forward the cause of democracy.
In other words, the last two-plus years in Iraq have been slightly better than average in death toll, while moving the country a great deal down the road towards self-determination.
Did any media outlets bother to report this? Heh. I'd be surprised if any of them bothered to do the math--assuming they had anybody capable of it (maybe an intern, or a delivery boy, or something . . .)
|Of Tookie Williams|
The news of the day is largely dominated by the impending execution of Tookie Williams, so I feel compelled to comment.
First of all, you should know that I am opposed to the death penalty. Insofar as I am informed by my Faith to understand that I, too, am a fallen man, I do now see how I, or any man, has been empowered to determine the life or death of any man. More importantly, however, I do not see how I could arrogate the right to determine the timeframe for another man to make their peace with God. Once these death-row types have been put in custody and do not represent a threat to society, I see that society has no more interest in pursuing their deaths. In fact, considering all the media circus, the expense of the appeals process, and the possibility of error, it would strike me as reasonable to say that society's interests are NOT served by pursuing the death penalty.
On the other hand, I also don't think there's any reason to think that these people should be afforded any of the courtesies (however meager) afforded them by the current penal institutions. They get fed three squares a day (more than many children in our society); they have access to computers, books, newspapers and other forms of information which keep them connected to society; and they have visitors from the outside world, also keeping them in touch. I see no societal advantage in this.
I would adocate taking all the money saved by NOT prosecuting death penalty cases to build a series of 12x12 holes in the ground, 25 feet deep, in an undisclosed location, in which we can deposit our worst criminals. Artificial lighting, no human contact, limited access to news and information, and a limited library (heavy on the religious texts of the world). Let these people find their way to redemption in whatever timeframe God sees fit to give them. Drop food and necessary sustenance in to them, and let them simply be.
As to Tookie, while I admire his efforts from behind prison bars to discourage gang activity, his "redemption" is rather incomplete. As Gov. Schwarzennegger put it:
It is impossible to seperate Williams' claim of innocence from his claim of redemption.
Redemption requires more than a karmic investment in improving ones' self; it requires contrition. Continuing to maintain his innocence in the face of over 24 judicial rulings against him--some of which relied on eyewitness accounts--borders on laughable, and completely undermines his assertion of redemption.
And, in so far as the state of California has seen fit to coninue enforcing the death penalty, I see no reason of LAW to not kill this man as scheduled.
The rightness of this act is not at issue for me; the rightness of the policy is the key to this case, and somebody's just going to have to do a better job articulating the argument.
In the meantime, I do pray that Tookie's redemption is genuine, and that his soul will rest in peace with the souls of the four innocents he killed, not to mention the thousands killed by gang violence he helped spawn.
|A Suggestion For Senator Frist|
First, some background:
--Harry Reid called its adoption a vote of "no confidence"
--Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: Senate GOP's No Confidence Vote In Bush Driven By Polls
--Democratic Leadership Committee: both parties and both sides of the Iraq debate compromised on the exact language of the resolution, and united on the critical point that U.S. credibility, and the very success of the Iraqi engagement, depend on an immediate change of course by the administration
--Howard Dean: "Two days ago, senators from the president's own party joined their Democratic colleagues in casting a 'no confidence' vote,"
Senator Frist, take a cue from your colleagues in the House: schedule a vote sometime in the short few days you guys work in December to clarify the meaning of the resolution of Nov 17. In short, a nonbinding Sense of the Senate resolution on one question: Does the Senate have confidence that the administration's policies in Iraq will lead to a successful conclusion of the War?
Better yet, schedule that vote for Friday morning--sometime immediately after the Iraqis turn out in the 65-70% range to VOTE ON A PERMANENT GOVERNMENT. Let's see those Republicans go wobbly under those circumstances; better yet, let's see what sort of "courage of their convictions" the Democrats have under those circumstances.
Let's see if the Senate Leader does have some backbone. Any bets, anyone?
|From the Land of Narnia and Snarky Parting Shots--Edited|
[ed. note: having re-read last night's post, I have decided to edit; every once in a while, writing at 2 in the morning is not good]
I rarely read movie reviews, or put a lot of stock in them. But such is my interest in "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" that I read the reviews in both local major dailies first thing this morning. And, just in case you were wondering where the Post reviewer is coming from, here's the conclusion of Lisa Kennedy's review:
Forgiveness transforms. Trusting in the impossible has its own deep and magical logic. Death is not always what it seems. All these notions, of course, have roots in C.S. Lewis' Christian faith. But to its credit and power, the film allows them a reach that exceeds any one religion's grasp.
In other words, thanks for not making the Christianity overt. Of course, at its absolute core, "Narnia" is about the power of self-sacrifice, and no other religion celebrates that the way Christianity does. But it's to the film's "credit and power" that this isn't central to the writers' understanding of the film. I suspect that's more an indication of the writer's lack of understanding than the film's lack of explication. Those with ears to hear . . .
|On A Less Serious Note|
As a graduate of the University of Colorado, one who watched every single home game and Bowl game during my four years from the often-uncomfortable bleachers of Folsom Field and elsewhere, I am still a big fan of Colorado football. So I was very pleased when CU managed to secure the services of Coach Gary Barnett seven-odd years ago.
I am, likewise, unsurprised at the rather abrupt end of his tenure.
Four years of scandals he was able to survive. Slightly above-mediocre play, ocassionally reaching heights of excellence, were enough to keep him in place. Recruiting that forced him to rely on an un-recruited quarterback trying to throw to largely undistinguished receivers would not have been enough to force a change. I suspect that, if that was all there was to worry about, even losing the last three games of this season by a combined score of, like, 312-16 would not have driven him away.
But to lose those three games while accumulating hundreds of yards of penalties, many of them in 15-yard increments, shows that he had lost control of his team. When a team is unable to maintain its own self-discipline in the face of adversity, it shows that the cohesive bonds of 'esprit de corps' have broken down, that student leadership is lacking, and that the sort of fear of failure that usually accompanies success are all missing. And you cannot long maintain a program if those ingredients are lacking.
Whoever gets to take over this program has a lot of housecleaning to get to work on. But as one who witnessed the Orange Bowl victory over Notre Dame in 1991 for the National Championship, I am optimistic that this program can become elite once again. I don't know if it will ever compete for the Title again, but it can be very good.
As for Barnett, I suspect he will find himself in a very good job again shortly, where I expect he will do a very good job. Sometimes a change of scenery is good for everyone involved, and I wish Barnett well.
|Anybody Else Beginning To Sense A Rope-A-Dope?|
For about the last four months the right side of the blogosphere has been generally critical of the weak response of the White House to the political attacks of the Left.
But I think the Left may have gotten too comfortable. To wit:
Jack Murtha: the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth,"
John Kerry: And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women,
Howard Dean: the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,"
And that's not to mention all the inane statements by Barbra Boxer, the ridiculous protest of Hillary Clinton (!) by Code Pink because of her support for the war, and anything said recently by Pilosi or Reid.
In his heyday, Muhammed Ali would cover up and back into a corner and let his opponents waste their energy throwing meaningless punches into his arms for a couple minutes. Eventually, sensing their fatigue, he would come back with a vicious and surgical couterattack while his opponent would keep swinging wildly--out of power and realizing too late their error. Shortly thereafter the fight would typically end.
Don't those statements above reek of "swinging wildly", waiting for the knockout punch? Or is it just me?
Perhaps Karl Rove never went away. [Assume voice of Emperor Palpatine]: "Events are proceeding exACTly as I have foreen."
|I Doubt It Was Me, But . . . |
also known as "I Must Have A Small Gift For The Obvious"
I have been running a periodic series on A new Agenda for The GOP, one which I hypothesize has the chance of leading the GOP out of the forest its been slogging through since July of this year. I started with Border Security, then moved on to Energy Reform.
I also, just this morning (7:26 am, to be specific), called on the White House and the Republican Party to shout the good economic news from the highest mountain.
Well, notice how last week the President spent a day in Arizona at the border and then spent the next three days talking about closing the border. Chalk one up for me. Of course, he also is trying to sell his guest worker program, which I don't really buy, but . . .
And then this morning the President has a presser to talk about the good economic news (8:30 am, to be exact). About damn time. Add to that Sen. Frist et al. having a little meeting to talk about it. Heh, heh, heh.
Slowly, slowly, we may be starting to get control of the agenda again.
Sure helps that the best thing the Dems can come up with for an agenda is "surrender!"
|Time To Open A New Front|
I have been encouraged over the past couple weeks with the President's aggressive defense of the Iraq War, a defense which the most recent FoxNews poll suggests is having a positive effect. Now, it's time come out swinging on the economy:
America's payrolls snapped out of a two-month hurricane-induced funk in November and grew by 215,000, the most since July. The unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent.
The fresh snapshot of the jobs situation by the Labor Department on Friday suggested that employers were feeling much better about hiring now that energy prices have retreated from record highs . . .
In October, payrolls grew by just 44,000, even less than the government first reported a month ago. But September's showing _ a month that bore the brunt of Katrina, the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history _ showed that jobs actually grew by 17,000, according to revised figures released Friday. That's an improvement from the loss of 8,000 jobs previously reported. . .
In November, employment gains were broad based. Construction, retail, leisure and hospitality, education and health services, financial activities and even manufacturing all posted job gains.
The growth in payrolls in November was slightly stronger than economists were expecting.
So, jobs are up, unemployment is holding steady at 5 percent (weren't we once told that's basically full employment?); GDP rose by 4.3% in the 3rd quarter; the deficits are shrinking; and today, I'm going to fill my tank for less than $2 per gallon. It's all good.
When, do you suppose, is this going to get reported? Exactly. Which is why the GOP needs to start swinging on this front. Perhaps a couple high-profile Congressman holding a press conference about the tax cuts, followed by a high-profile administration member saying something about the reckless economic policies of the Dems, followed by the President upping his rhetoric about the economy.
The last two or three rounds clearly go to the Dems, politically speaking; but it's pretty early in the fight still, as long as the GOP gets off its collective backside and starts "swingin' and stingin'."
|The Advantage Of Holding Office|
One of the many, I suppose, is the ase with which you can portray yourself as getting things done, of legislative accomplishments. This is particularly useful when you are running against someone who is not holding office currently.
I bring this up because it occurs to me that in the last four weeks I've probably gotten 4 or 5 emails from Rep. Bob Beauprez, touting his votes in Congress or legislation he's sponsored. This does, at the very least, help him stand out from his GOP gubernatorial primary opponent, Marc Holtzman. The various pressers from Beauprez cover things like Mexican extradition rulings, the deficit reduction act, tax cuts, and his own bill "encouraging" extradition of cop-killers.
It's not real high-profile campaigning, but it is, in my opinion, an effective way to tell your base that you're actually in the field getting stuff done. A pretty important point to make, I would say, as you are trying to make in impression early in an election cycle.
(cross-posted at Holtzman v. Beauprez)
|Then Why Did You Vote Against the Resolution, Ms. Pelosi|
Following the President's speech today before the midshipmen, Democratic leader in the House Nancy Pelosi took to the air to--what else?--criticize. But more than that, she endorsed John Murtha as a man who has "a clear plan, a strategy, to make America safer." Of course, that plan is immediate withdrawl.
In her comments on Wednesday, Ms. Pelosi shifted her publicly neutral stance on a proposal two weeks ago by Representative John P. Murtha for withdrawing troops "at the earliest practicable date." She said she was supporting the call by Mr. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, Vietnam war veteran and early supporter of the Iraqi invasion, because he had "superior knowledge of the subject." She added, "I think many members will now follow his lead."
I suppose it's safe for her, now that the vote has been cast. And, let's all review . . .how did she vote on the Murtha (Hunter) Resolution? Ah, yes--no to an immediate withdrawal. That's right--not even the sort of courage it takes to back up her rhetoric with something so dangerous and insidious as a vote.