My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Still Chugging Along

In case you missed it, the government revised last quarter's GDP numbers upwards yesterday.

The economy logged a solid 3.8 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2005, a performance that was better than previously thought and a fresh sign the expansion is on firm footing.

The new reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, marked an improvement from the 3.5 percent annual rate estimated for the quarter just a month ago and matched the showing registered in the final quarter of 2004.

You know, if for some reason you missed the GOOD news on the evening news or in this morning's paper.


Now They Invoke Tet

You knew it was only a matter of time before the Left went all the way into Vietnam Syndrome by invoking that most-poorly-of-reported historical events: the infamous Tet Offensive. And, this morning, they have arrived. From the Chronicle, via a local Lefty site:

....(Bush') insistence that the best way to "honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission,'' reminded some of the words used to advance an unpopular war a generation ago.
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson sought to rally Americans behind the Vietnam War two months after a major Viet Cong offensive on the Vietnamese Tet holiday, a violent outburst that moved public opinion against the war. There are some striking rhetorical similarities between that speech, which Johnson delivered from the Oval Office, and Bush's speech Tuesday night at Fort Bragg.

-- Johnson said: "Their attack -- during the Tet holidays -- failed to achieve its principal objectives.''

Bush, talking about the insurgents in Iraq, said their "savage acts of violence ... have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives.''

-- Johnson said the American presence "has always rested on this basic belief: The main burden of preserving their freedom must be carried out by them -- by the South Vietnamese themselves.''

Bush said: "The best way to complete the mission is to help Iraqis build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.''

-- Johnson told the American people: "The heart of our involvement in South Vietnam ... has always been America's own security.''

Bush said: "Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it. And it is vital to the future security of our country.''

For those of you educated in modern American history classrooms, here's a little historical FACT to go along with your morning screed:

The Tet Offensive was a series of battles in the Vietnam War. It was a major offensive by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC or NLF) beginning on the night of January 30-31, 1968, T?t Nguyên Ðán (the lunar new year day). It involved military action in almost every major city in southern Vietnam and attacks on the US firebase at Khe Sanh. The NVA suffered a heavy military defeat but scored a priceless propaganda victory. . . .

The NLF and the NVA [Vietcong] lost around 35,000 men killed, 60,000 wounded and 6,000 POWs for no military success. The US and ARVN dead totalled around 3,900 (1,100 US). But this was not the conflict as the US public saw it. Without there being an active conspiracy the US media reports were extremely damaging and shocked the American public and politicians. Apparently the depth of the US reaction even surprised the North Vietnamese leadership, as well as delighting them.
[emphases mine]

Anybody else recognize the erie similarities? Tet happened many years before the U.S. abandonment of the South, an abandonment which would have never happened had public support in the U.S. been strong, or even neutral, with respect to the war.

But here's the playbook, recycled now for all to see: combine a difficult, guerrila-style warfare with shallow media reporting, add a dash of protest and PR bungling by an administration, throw in a few high-profile attacks for the media to take pictures of, and eventually you have defeat. At least that's what the loony Left, led by its hippie-cum-CEO leadership hopes for.

The difference this time around is twofold: the new media, and a President who will stand by the troops. Oh, yeah, and don't forget free elections in Iraq and a Constitution. Those might make a difference, too.

Quick Take On The President's Speech

I just finished watching the re-broadcast of the speech, so I haven't had time to read it or do any serious thinking about it. So I'm gonna just throw out a few first thoughts, and paint over them later.

First impression: not much new here. Pretty strong, pretty forceful, well-engaged on this topic, but for those of us who have been paying attention this is all old ground.

Second thought: too nice. He had a section on "some would have us. . ." I kept waiting for "Some would have Iraq likened to Vietnam, calling it an 'inescapable quagmire; to them I say, not only is your history wrong regarding the condition of Vietnam after twenty-six months of American engagement, but your impression of what is happening on the ground in Iraq is poorly informed. In Iraq, we have captured or killed thousands of our most dangerous enemies in the world; in Iraq, we have gotten past an installed temporary government which has been replaced by a freely elected government after 8 million Iraqis stood up to the terrorist threat and voted on January 31; in Iraq, we now have a legislature which is putting together a constitution, which will govern Iraq for the first time in its 5,000 year history; in Iraq, we are in the proces. . . In Vietnam, 40 years later, there is STILL not . . ." And so on. You get the idea.

The point is, I believe he articulated his case (again) and layed out the rationale and roadmap (again); but by failing to directly engage the critics of the war and its execution, he left a lot of room for them to continue banging the drum. Probably a missed opportunity.


Supreme Court Follies

I was going to reserve comment on the Supreme Court rulings in the Kentucky and Texas Ten Commandments cases until I had a chance to actually read the rulings.

And then I saw that there were SEVEN of them.

Seven. Out of nine Justices, seven of them decided to write about Kentucky.

And then I noticed that the judges split their positions on the two cases--okay, to be fair, Justice Breyer split his position on the two cases.

And then I decided not to waste my time on these decisions. Why? Because these really settled nothing.

If every case of a display of religious icons is subject to a case-by-case review, then the Court will be very busy. VERY. And no one can know with any certainty at all which way the Court will go on any given case.

This decision actually does guarantee one thing, I suppose. It guarantees that the ACLU will be in business for a long, LONG time.

I think this muddle of a decision may also make it easier for the President to push for strong conservatives to replace any and all retiring Justices.


The First Salvo?

I was just glancing at my Denver Post this morning, when this headline cought my attention: "Appeals Judge Has Appeal--To Some" When the first words out of the subtitle were "Michael McConnell", I assumed this piece, by Alicia Caldwell and John Aloysius Farrell, was going to be some sort of hit piece on somebody who has been widely mentioned for an appointment to the Supreme Court.

Was I right? Well, in a carefully crafted way--YES. This piece is silly. The opening seven paragraphs are unimportant enough, containing only this useful piece of information:

He was endorsed by hundreds of his fellow law school deans and professors, including prominent liberals like Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe and Yale's Akhil Amar.

The Senate, which was then in Democratic hands, approved his nomination by acclamation.

But then it digresses into an explication of his positions that could have easily come from the desk of Ralph Neas or Patricia Ireland. It tries very hard to establish that he will not be supported by the "militant conservatives" (I wonder who those would be?). Read:

And among some militant conservatives, "there is a suggestion he will be too independent," said Georgetown University law professor Mark Tushnet.

Indeed, an examination of McConnell's record leads some conservative activists to fear that he could be "the next David Souter," the Supreme Court justice who was appointed by the first President Bush but often joins more- liberal justices in their decisions.

"Judge McConnell is every bit as hostile to conservative legal principles as Souter turned out to be," wrote lawyer Andy Schlafly on the conservative website WorldNetDaily.

But then it goes on to list his positions: worked at the Reagan Justice Dept, is a member of the Federalist Society, and is a member of the Evangelical Free Church; has defended Bob Jones Univ and the Boy Scouts, and wrote that Roe v. Wade reasoning was "an embarrassment to those of us who take constitutional law seriously." He also supports the use of government money for church groups to institute federal aid programs, and supports school vouchers.

Sound like a onservative's conservative.

But Farrell and Caldwell just have to try to drive that wedge in there.

On other issues, McConnell's record proves to be equally nuanced. McConnell opposes a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. He is against mandatory school prayer. He thinks the question of assisted suicide for terminally ill patients should be left to state "experimentation" and regulation.

McConnell spoke out against the impeachment of President Clinton, and criticized the reasoning behind the Supreme Court's decision in Bush vs. Gore, which made George W. Bush president in 2001. He has written, in the Harvard Law Review, that a public hospital may not forbid doctors to perform abortions on its premises.

When a group of gay and straight students at a Salt Lake City high school met administrative resistance when they tried to form an extracurricular club that would meet on school property, McConnell supported the students - just as he had defended Christian students in Washington state who wanted to meet after school in an empty classroom as a Bible study group.

In a 1992 law review article, he criticized a Supreme Court decision on government Christmas displays. He noted how the court struck down a display that featured only Christian symbols, but upheld another display in which a nativity scene was surrounded by secular symbols.

Now, I would grant that none of these decisions are a conservative's dream, BUT THEY ALL FIT WELL WITHIN THE STRUCTURES OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. If THIS is the evidence that conservatives might not support McConnell, then I would submit that he will be widely supported by everybody on the right.

And do these "controversial" positions add to his support from the Left?

The leaders of several prominent liberal groups - People for the American Way, the Alliance for Justice, Americans United for Separation of Church and State - say they will urge Senate Democrats to filibuster his nomination if McConnell is selected.

Ah. That alone should tell you that it's not the conservatives who are queasy about McConnell.

And it makes you wonder just why would Farrell and Caldwell write this piece?

Don't strain too hard.

Good News

Jim is on the mend, and promises to resume blogging as his energy and situation allow. He has been through quite an ordeal, and it is a blessing that he will soon be able to rejoin this little community of bloggers.

If you get the opportunity, go visit his site, and send him well wishes via his comments buttons (though I warn you--his spam filter is a BIT touchy :))


This Could Set A Bad Precedent

An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 officers and operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency on charges that they seized an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and flew him to Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said Friday.

One hopes that the Italian judicial system never gets a full tryout on this case. Sadly, at a time when the most valuable assets in the War on Terror are the men and women in the field and in the shadows, this sort of thing only discourages the proper deployment of those assets. And, sadly, Europe is the one place that most needs those types of assets. Just ask Spain. Or The Netherlands. How about England, who has shut down how many terror cells in its own land?

No, this one act by a judge who wants to feel good about himself today could easily lead to the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands in Europe and beyond. Is it worth it?

By the way, just to show where the folly of this episode is leading, read this paragraph:

Mr. Nasr, who was under investigation before his disappearance for possible links to Al Qaeda, is still missing, and his family and friends say he was tortured repeatedly by Egyptian jailers.

If he's still missing how can his family and friends know that he was tortured repeatedly by his . . . Oh, never mind.

Advise and Consent

So the Senate Democrats have written to the President to encourage him to seek their advice on any Supreme Court nominees he might be considering.

I have an idea: Have Scott McClellan announce from the podium of the White House Press Briefing Room that the President has presented to the Democrats a list of six names, from which he has instructed the Democrats to settle on two; from these two, he will make his choice for appointment to the bench. THAT fits the requirements of Advise and Consent, while at the same time preserving the President's right to Appoint.

But, more importantly, this sets the stage for the public relations battle that is bound to come. It seems that, now that Prisilla Owens and Janice Rogers Brown have been confirmed, the case for an "extraordinary" circumstance that would apply to all six of his choices crumbles rather dramatically. That accomplished, the President could concentrate on exposing the fraud that the Democrats arguments have become, having shown an extraordinary--and, I might add, extra-Constitutional--willingness to consult.

That could also set the predicate for the President to claim the bad faith of the Dems, and then go ahead and appoint whomever he chooses, with full expectation in the right of nominees to get a fair up-or-down vote. Which, of course, means the Constitutional Option.

I look forward to this confirmation battle, if for no other reason than to see the full political operation at work . . .assuming the White House rolls out its political operation. Said operation was weak prior to the election, has been weak on Social Security, has been weak on John Bolton, was largely weak with regards to the circuit court nominees. I guess maybe I'm just waiting to see if the White House still HAS a political operation. I'm taking some heart in Karl Rove's comments, and moreso from the defense of his speech by George Pataki and Mitt Romney. Perhaps the Republicans do still have some fight left in them.


Gotta Give 'Em Credit For Chutzpah

The six Democratic senators from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut signed a letter to Mr. Rove demanding that he apologize. At a press conference yesterday to announce the letter, the four from New York and New Jersey said Mr. Rove should be fired if he doesn't apologize by today.

"There's a certain line that you should not cross, and last night, Karl Rove crossed that line. He didn't just put his toe over the line; he jumped way over," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York.

A certain line? Seriously? Does that line include using "miserable failure" to describe the Commander-In-Chief? Does that line encompass the great girth of Ted Kennedy saying the "torture chamber of Saddam Hussein are open again under new management--U.S. management"? Does that line mark a place that Howard Dean sprints past on his way to saying that he "hates Republicans"? Does that line demark the point where it's inappropriate to link U.S. treatment of prisoners to that of Hitler or Pol Pot?

Oh, and speaking of that . . .

None of the leading Democrats who criticized Mr. Rove yesterday called for Mr. Durbin to apologize for his own remarks, with some even specifically refusing to comment when asked.

Asked yesterday about the different reactions, Democrats would say only that Mr. Durbin's eventual apology sets the stage for Mr. Rove to do the same.

There are, of course, some pretty important distinctions. One, Durbin is an elected representative of the state of Illinois, and the number two man in the Democratic leadership in the Senate; Karl Rove is an unelected, non-confirmed political advisor to the President. Two, Durbin's assertions bear no resemblence to reality, while Rove's all reflect some aspect of liberal philosophy as practiced over the last four years. Three, Durbin stonewalled for ten days before his "eventual apology", Rove has had barely 48 hours to deal on this point (though I don't think any apology is forthcoming).

But more importantly, what is wrong with the Democratic Party that their first instinct is to say "he's being mean to me and should apologize" rather than to articulate a clear, concise and unequivocal defense of their position? Is it that their "position" is all over the map, as John Kerry so aptly demonstrated last year?

Or is it actually that the Democrats would prefer a law-enforcement response, a defensive posture, and a diplomatic approach to Islamic extremism, in which case they can only agree with Rove's assessment?

Sen. Kennedy Speaks

Ted Kennedy described the current situation in Iraq today as "a seemingly intractable quagmire." His statement was quickly rebuked by both Donald Rumsfeld and by Gens. Casey, Myers, and Abizaid.

But, just for a little historical reference point to go from, I've dragged up some numbers from a PBS site called Battlefield: Vietnam. As I'm making these side-by-side comparisons, understand that I'm using basically a two-year time frame--Iraq dating from March 2003 to the present, Vietnam dating from February 1965 (beginning of Operation Rolling Thunder) to the end of 1966.

American combat troop levels:

Vietnam: 385,000
Iraq: 150,000

American combat deaths:

Vietnam: at least 6,000 (and that just for 1966!!), though I cannot find an exact number
Iraq: 1,700

Opposition leadership:

Vietnam: still alive and leading operations from Cambodia and elsewhere
Iraq: Saddam in custody, his sons dead

Political progress:

Vietnam: none
Iraq: popular elections held; Constitutional convention underway

Political support at home:

Vietnam: still strong, but wavering (particularly after 1968 Tet)
Iraq: wavering

Political effects at home:

Vietnam: none--Johnson elected in '64 claiming "why would I send our boys 9,000 miles away to fight in jungles . . ."etc; in secret, he was already planning war strategy for post-election
Iraq: difficult to assess, but in spite of 18 months of war George Bush re-elected by a comfortable popular margin while increasing Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress

I am not trying to say that the costs of this war are, at this point, unimportant or even negligible--every American soldier killed in Iraq is tragic. But for Sen. Kennedy to begin to equate Iraq with Vietnam--which is where the term "quagmire" got it weight--is both ludicrous and irresponsible. And I'm not just saying that from a political perspective; look at the scoreboard.

If only THIS Kennedy had listened to another Kennedy who was willing to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."


I'll Play Along

One of the local Lefty websites has posed the question to its readership “What do we stand for?” Joshua has already done good work writing up some of the obvious “beliefs” that we, on the right, see them espousing. And while it would be amusing (not to mention easy) to continue on the same path, I have chosen to articulate what I believe in, right alongside my impression of what the Left stands for. And I thought a good point of departure for this little exercise might be the quintessential American statement of beliefs: the Bill of Rights. Note: not all of the amendments work for this little exercise, so I’ll limit myself to those that do. (Lefty Stands in italics)

AMENDMENT 1: I Stand For the free exercise right of all persons to express and to act upon their Religious Beliefs in any setting, forum, or manner as they see appropriate, within the limits of the law; further, I stand for the entirely appropriate recognition by state, local, and private entities of the Judeo-Christian heritage which informed our founding fathers and which is the basis for our system of laws.

We Stand For the free exercise of Religion, as long we don’t have to hear, read, see or in any way be exposed to another person’s beliefs, or be subject to them making decisions informed by their beliefs; further, we stand for the need of our public institutions to expose and inform our citizenry of Religious traditions which are NOT of the Judeo-Christian heritage, and to enforce on the public an artificial and arbitrary balancing of institutions to reflect the variety of Religious beliefs, though not the plurality of believers.

I Stand For the right of citizens, the press, and private institutions to say, write, publish or otherwise express whatever they feel, think or believe, so long as they do not endanger the public or damage national security; I further believe that the limit on restrictions and repercussions of speech applies only to governmental bodies, not to private citizens and organizations.

We Stand For the right of government to decide what is and is not dangerous in speech, thought, and activity, and to impose whatever limits and sanctions upon whatever individuals and organizations are necessary to establish a respectful, diverse and fair society.

AMENDMENT 2: I Stand For the right of citizens to responsibly keep and bear firearms; consistent with maintenance of public safety, certain types of weaponry should be limited to military and police personnel.

We Stand For the right of the government to decide who can be trusted with what types of firearms.

AMENDMENT 5: I Stand For the right of individuals to own property, and not to be subject to seizure for public use, even when said public use is for private redevelopment deemed beneficial to the community

We Stand For the right of the government to use, purchase, seize, or otherwise take control of land for whatever purpose it deems necessary, the private ownership of land and property being the primary means of perpetuating the economic disparities evident in society

AMENDMENT 6: I Stand For the right of persons to a speedy and public trial, excepting when said persons are engaged in acts of war against the United States, and can be expected to take up arms against this country again.

We Stand For the right of all persons to a speedy and public trial, in spite of the possibility of open trials damaging national security

AMENDMENT 8: I Stand For the proposition that, the American Justice system serving a necessary punitive function in society, “Cruel and Unusual Punishments” do not include discomfort, denial of internet access, cable television, or advanced education, or incarceration that limits contact with the rest of humanity

We Stand For the proposition that no person is so irredeemable, no crime so heinous, that the perpetrator should not have treatment consistent with the earliest possible return to society, except when that person’s crime may involve racism, sexism, religious bias, or other attitudes inconsistent with a diverse society (except when said racism or religious bias is directed at the majority groups in American society)

AMENDMENTS 9 and 10: I Stand For the right of the people, through its electoral processes and legislatures, to define and determine those rights not enumerated specifically in this Constitution.

We Stand For the right of the Court System to determine and invent those rights not enumerated in this Constitution.

I have a feeling this won't be the last post on this topic.


For Once, I Agree

The Denver Post lead editorial this morning goes a little something like this:

After three strikes, John Bolton is not quite out as President Bush's nominee as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But the time has clearly come for the president to call the bluff of Bolton's Senate critics by releasing information they have sought about his actions.

Democrats have promised an up-or-down vote after they receive that information. Bush should give them what they've asked for - it seems germane - and hold them to their word.

This is what I counselled a couple days ago, after the latest failure of the Senate to fulfull its Constitutional duty. But where I part with the Post is their assumption that the Senate Democrats will hold to their word. Unfortunately, we've seen the Dems consistently move the bar to different locations on the game board, and I can sympathize with the administrations frustration and desire to stop playing this childish parlaimentary game.

Unfortunately, the children seem intent on holding on to their ball and not letting anybody play until the admin acquiesces on this. So give them what they want--BUT START THE FULL-COURT PR PRESS NOW. It's time this administration stopped bumbling around with the public relations game and took their case directly to the people and forcefully called the Dems hand.

This has become, in my eyes, just another instance in which the administration has been left way behind in the all-important PR wars. Sometimes it seems as if they haven't had an effective strategy (with, of course, the notable exception of the election) since Karen Hughes left the administration a couple years ago.

Schism In The Offing?

The Episcopal Church has been roiled in a controversy for the last couple of years over the ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and, apparently, the consecration of same-sex marriages in one province of Canada. The full church, in its meeting in Nottingham, England, called on the U.S. and Canadian branches to explain themselves.

The tough stances taken by its North American wings, particularly the U.S. Episcopalians, fly in the face of official church policy, which declares homosexual sex as "incompatible with Scripture" and flatly rejects homosexual ordinations and same-sex unions.

The contentious issue of homosexuality leaves the Anglican Communion facing possibly the biggest crisis in its 400-plus year history -- and yesterday's moves will do little to ease the fears of many Anglicans that a major split between its liberal and conservative branches is inevitable.

As far as it goes, this seems to be pretty much an internicene struggle, which only interests me in passing. But what did grab my attention was a quote that pretty much sums up what appears to be the issue with gay-marriage advocates:

It was left yesterday to Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam of New York to launch the Episcopal Church's defense. She insisted that her wing of the church believes that "a person living in a same-gendered union may be eligible to lead the flock of Christ."

"We believe that God has been opening our eyes to acts of God that we had not known how to see before,"

Did not know how to see before because it never occurred to us to deny Scripture to justify what we want to do. And before anybody goes and says "Jesus never talks about homosexuality," let me say this: true, but he does reaffirm in Matthew 19 the teaching from Genesis that marriage is the "reason a man will leave his father and mother, and become united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." So to make the case for gay marriage, its religious proponents have to claim sudden, non-Scriptural enlightenment.

But just as interesting is this quote:

"We're up against a winner-take-all approach that does not brook any dissent and will slowly but surely stifle it," said Chris Sugden, leader of the traditionalist Anglican Mainstream group.

Which, of course, we've also discovered to be true in the political arena. "Does not brook any dissent and will slowly but surely stifle it."

Again, this particular struggle only obliquely interests me. But it does still shed light on issues in the culture at large.

Where Are The Democrats?

asks, of all places, the Washington Post.

THE DEMOCRATS are positively giddy over their success in foiling President Bush's Social Security plan. As a political matter, perhaps they have reason to cheer: Polls show Americans dubious about his proposed changes, and the president appears suddenly open to solutions that do not include his signature personal accounts. Yesterday he blessed a plan by Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) to introduce a Social Security bill that tackles solvency and does not offer personal accounts. (He'll do that in a separate measure.) But after the confetti settles, Democrats need to ask themselves: Now what? Having beaten back private accounts, as it appears they have, is it enough to keep sticking their fingers in their ears while saying "no"?

Well, no. . . they could keep yelling "la la la la I am not listening to YOU"

Like An Epilogue Without A Story UPDATED

Wednesday morning's Rocky Mountain News carries the story of Dick Durbin's (non-)apology on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Actually, it just carries the AP version, but whatever. . .

Under fire from Republicans and some fellow Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures.

"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," the Illinois Democrat said. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."

What strikes me as funny about this story is that if you do a site search of the Rocky Mountain News, using the words "Dick Durbin Guantanamo Bay" (I tried to be as broad as I could) you get ZERO hits. Actually, not true--you get the one editorial from over the weekend, but you get zero reporting of the original incident.

A quick search of the Denver Post website turns up the same thing--zero references to the original Senate speech. The Wednesday edition is not available online yet, so it will be very interesting to see if the Post pulls the same act.

The point is that without the context of the original speech, the calls for an apology at the time and subsequently, and the week-long stonewalling by Durbin, Average Joe reading the paper will look at the headline, maybe read the first few paragraphs, and say to themselves "okay. No biggie--what's next?" When in reality, of course, this IS BIG, and Durbin did a nice job playing it out for as long as he could. The MSM is complicit in hiding the full story of this outrage, and that, more than anything they actually say or that Dan Rather tries to get away with, reveals the bias that has enable the explosion of this new medium.

And until the MSM understands that, it will continue to be the target of much ire.

UPDATE: As near as I can tell from its website, the Denver Post is not running the story this morning of Durbin's apology. If anybody actually gets the Post (which I do not), and has seen the story, please let me know.

If this is the case, then at least the Post is consisitent in its coverup.


Um, How'd They Study THIS?

Scientists have identified why physical touch is so important to men during sex and why women must be at ease with their partner to reach orgasm. . .

The results of what are believed to be the first positive emission tomography (pet) scans of individuals carried out during orgasm were presented to delegates at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology yesterday.

pet scans during orgasm?

I really don't think commentary is necessary.

Vietnam?? Really?? Try Asking The Pros

USA Today has an interesting interview today with two soldiers currently serving in Iraq who were also in Vietnam. Their perspective is illuminating.

If there are parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, these graying soldiers and the other Vietnam veterans serving here offer a unique perspective. They say they are more optimistic this time: They see a clearer mission than in Vietnam, a more supportive public back home and an Iraqi population that seems to be growing friendlier toward Americans. . .

"I knew we were going to lose Vietnam the day I walked off the plane," says Miles, who returned home this month after nearly a year in Iraq. Not this time. "There's no doubt in my mind that this was the right thing to do," he says.

The looney Left can continue to bang on the drums of anti-war, anti-military protest as long as they want, but eventually reality will have to intrude. At least a little bit.

Strange Convergence

The Op-ed page of the Washington Post contains two oddly matched columns. The first, by E.J.Dionne, is predictable in its "Iraq bad, Cheney foolish" meme.

The most damaging document supporting this claim is not secret, and remains one of the most important artifacts of the prewar debate. It is the transcript of "Meet the Press" from March 16, 2003, in which Vice President Cheney gave voice to the administration's optimistic assumptions that have now been laid low by reality.

When I have more time, I'll come back and dissect Dionne's rantings. But for now, I will direct your attention to the second op-ed, arguing a different point:

A year ago, in Resolution 1546, the U.N. Security Council set out the timetable that Iraq, with the assistance of the United Nations and the international community, was expected to fulfill. The Brussels conference is a chance to reassure the Iraqi people that the international community stands with them in their brave efforts to rebuild their country, and that we recognize how much progress has been made in the face of daunting challenges.

Elections were held in January, on schedule. Three months later the Transitional National Assembly endorsed the transitional government. The dominant parties have begun inclusive negotiations, in which outreach to Sunni Arabs is a major theme. A large number of Sunni groups and parties are now working to make sure that their voices are fully heard in the process of drafting a new constitution, and that they participate fully in the referendum to approve it and the elections slated for December.

Indeed, just last week an agreement was achieved to expand the committee drafting the constitution to ensure full participation by the Sunni Arab community. This agreement, which the United Nations helped to facilitate, should encourage all Iraqis to press ahead with the drafting of the constitution by the Aug. 15 deadline.

And who, you might ask, authored this view of Iraq to contrast E.J.Dionne? Why, none other than Kofi Annan.

No Vote For Bolton

The U.S. Senate, in its wisdom, has again failed to come up with the votes to decide on whether or not to vote on the nomination of John Bolton.

As an aside, does anybody else wonder if someday, in the event we have to explain ourselves to aliens, they would look at how the Senate works and just decide then and there to obliterate us?

At any rate, the vote was 54 for cloture, 38 against cloture, with eight Senators not voting.

Not voting?? On something as important and, apparently, controversial as this?!?

Yep, that's right. Here's the roll call, and here, to make it simple, is the list of Senators who did not cast a vote in this great debate:

Burns (R-MT)
Coleman (R-MN)
Feingold (D-WI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Levin (D-MI)
Thune (R-SD)

I know John Thune is playing politics with his vote on this one, but Connie Burns and Norm Coleman? That is surprising and disappointing (though, of course, they could have a good reason related to being in twn for the vote or something). But, even if these three hold form, that gives the GOP only 57 vote, three shy of what is needed. And, of those on the list, I don't see any likely defections, though I suppose Tim Johnson could be pressured by his constituents to change his vote. Still not enough.

At this point, I sincerely hope this President decides to hold firm and fight for this nomination. Start putting the ball back in the Dems hands--let them have what they want, but only under very controlled and very public circumstances. For the whole world, call their hand and make them show their cards. Those of us paying attention out here know that the Dems are acting in very bad faith, but it's time to just make a mockery of them and their tactics.

By the way, the Colorado delegation split its vote, Allard yea, Salazar nay.


I'm Sorry, But . . . WHAT???

The CIA may know where Osama bin Laden is . . .

but “When you go to the question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you’re dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play,” Goss said. “We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways.”

That kinda bugs me. I thought they were either with us or . . .

You know what? GO GET HIM. KILL HIM. And apologize later--perhaps a couple hundred million in extra foreign aid.

Colorado Quarter Design Narrowly Defeats Minnesota

According to polling at Radioblogger , the Colorado Quarter wins, despite the best efforts of the Minnesotans, and their subsequent, Chris Lehane-like whining.

We've been counseled to be gracious in victory, and that should be easy enough. I just have one quick observation:

Duh. Mountains vs. Lakes . . .


Maybe Durbin Will Understand THIS

Sen. Richard J. Durbin's comparison of the treatment of al Qaeda prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Nazi and Soviet gulag atrocities was sharply criticized by constituents and newspapers in his home state.

Mr. Durbin's accusations drew a storm of voter complaints in Illinois, his home state, editorial rebuke by its biggest newspaper and an uneasiness in his party over the potentially damaging political fallout. One state Democratic operative called the charges "inflammatory."

The fiercely negative reaction forced Mr. Durbin late Friday to say that he regretted making the comparison, but his remarks remained a source of discomfort for a party whose leaders have been on the defensive lately over heated and sometimes personal charges they have made against the Republicans and the Bush administration.

Nah. Probably not.

Two Birds With One Stone?

I wonder if, in the discussion of raising the retirement age, anybody has considered what that might do for the employment rate.

Think about it--if older workers stay in their positions longer, the promotion of the middle-aged workers will be delayed, which will have a domino effect on down the ranks of workers. One possible outome is that students--teenagers--will have a more difficult time finding non-labor jobs. That will likely have to accept working for low wages in difficult conditions while earning their way to a more . . .

Oh, wait a second. Aren't those the same jobs that are today filled by illegal aliens? These are the jobs that Americans are unwilling to do?

I don't know for sure if my analysis is correct. God knows I'm no economist. But if there's even a tiny shred of legitimacy in my thinking, wouldn't that take away the one good economic argument in favor of illegal immigration?

Of course, it will never happen. It requires two things: people to work longer, and people to be legal. Two things the Left can never abide.

Movie Review--Addendum

Oh, yeah--as disappointed as I was with "Return of the Sith", I was stoked by a preview I saw . . .wait for it . .

"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe"--due out in November. It LOOKS like a very good rendering of the tale. I can only hope that whoever is doing this (and I did not recognize the name) treats it with the same care that Peter Jackson treated "The Lord Of The Rings." Like I said, from what I saw, it LOOKS very good.

Just In Case You've Forgotten

In all the kerfuffle over Guantanamo Bay, I think it's entirely possible that we've forgotten who and what we're dealing with. So the New York Times (of all places) provides us with a little reminder.

Marines on an operation to eliminate insurgents that began Friday broke through the outside wall of a building in this small rural village to find a torture center equipped with electric wires, a noose, handcuffs, a 574-page jihad manual - and four beaten and shackled Iraqis.

This is not particularly news--we've found torture chambers throughout Iraq, and it's never a pretty picture. But we've never found someone who could give us a first-hand account.

He was having a lunch of lettuce and cucumbers in the kitchen of his home in the small desert village of Rabot with his mother and brother. An Opel sedan pulled up. Two men in masks carrying machine guns got out, seized him, and, leaving his mother sobbing, put him in the trunk of their car.

The drove to the house here. They taped his face, put cotton in his ears, and began to beat him.

The only possible explanation for the seizure he could think of was his time in the new Iraqi Army. Unemployed and illiterate, Mr. Fathil signed up after the American occupation began.

But nine months ago, when continuing working meant risking the wrath of the Jihadists, he quit. In all, 10 friends from his unit have been killed, he said. So have his uncle and his uncle's son, though neither ever worked as soldiers.

The men tended to talk in whispers, he said, telling him five times a day, in low voices in his ear, to pray, and offering him sand, instead of water, to wash himself. Just once, he asked if he could see his mother, and one of them said to him, "You won't leave until you are dead."

Mr. Fathil did not know there were other hostages. He found out only after the captors left and he was able to remove the tape from his eyes.

The routine in the house was regular. Because of the windows, it was always dark inside. Mr. Fathil said he was fed once a day, and allowed to use a bathroom as necessary in the back of the house.

When marines burst in, one of the captives was lying under a stairwell, badly beaten. At first, they thought he was dead.

The others were emaciated and battered. Mr. Fathil had fared the best. The other three were taken by medical helicopter to Balad, a base near Baghdad with a hospital.

But he still had been hurt badly. Marks from beatings criss-crossed his back, and deep pocks, apparently from electric shock burns, were gouged in his skin.

The shocks, he said, felt "like my soul is being ripped out of my body." But when he would start to scream, and his body would pull up from the shock, they would begin to beat him, he said.

Oh, well . . .see--they let him use the bathroom. Guess that would make them better than Gitmo.

I wonder if they refused to turn on the air conditioning while he was a captive--now THAT would have been inhumane.

Iranian Elections Rigged

The race for the presidency in Iran was thrown into turmoil on Saturday when the third-place finisher accused conservative hard-liners of rigging the election and cutting him out of the runoff vote next week, which will be between a former president and the conservative mayor of Tehran.

Gee, who'd a figured?


Meanwhile, In Europe . . .

. . .half a million (estimates) will take to the streets in Spain today to protest the impending passage of gay-marriage legislation.

Spanish bishops will lead what is expected to be a 500,000-strong protest today against a government-led reform that will enable homosexuals to marry and adopt children.

The controversial march pits the Catholic Church against the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. It has divided bishops and revived the country's historic division between Catholicism and the Right on one side, and secularism and the Left on the other.

No comment, just keeping an eye on the culture wars. Oh, yeah, and this tiny factoid which needs to be entered into American debate:

The impending legislation, which has one more parliamentary hurdle to clear in the senate before becoming law by the end of the summer, would be among the most liberal in Europe and comes as the Socialist government also seeks to liberalise divorce laws.

Spain will be the third country in Europe, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to approve gay marriages.

Okay, I'll go ahead and comment: is it at all surprising that enabling gay marriage comes in the same breath as weakening the bonds of traditional marriage? This, of course, betrays the Big Lie that the American Left is spouting with regard to gay marriage. Just something to keep in mind.

The Rocky Wades In

The silence of the MSM on the Dick Durbin rant has been palpable. So I was happy to see the Rocky Mountain News try to deal with the issue in the Saturday edition.

Or so I thought.

The editorial leads off simply enough. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin says interrogation techniques at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay prison remind him of the Nazis, Soviets and Khmer Rouge.

Amnesty International dubs Guantanamo the "gulag of our time."

And it draws the appropriate conclusion shortly thereafter. Are the critics' assessments of Guantanamo correct?

The short answer is no. But the more complicated answer is that while such critics exaggerate - sometimes obscenely and slanderously so -

Which is all well and good. It spends a bit of time dissecting some of the specific charges about Gitmo--effectively and sometimes forcefully.

But then it goes soft on the whole deal right at the end.

Just because some critics are fools, however, hardly means all criticism is foolish. . . while those techniques never descend into torture, they involve routine humiliation and serious psychological and physical stress that clearly violate the standards for treatment of prisoners-of-war laid down in the Geneva accords.

The Bush administration correctly points out that many enemy combatants don't qualify as prisoners-of-war under the official definitions, but it had also said it would adhere to the Geneva standards even for enemy combatants. It's hard to reconcile that pledge with the interrogation techniques used on at least some prisoners at Guantanamo.

The other matter the administration has not satisfactorily addressed is how long it intends to hold the detainees. . .

We simply don't believe that's acceptable for a nation that prides itself on honoring the rule of law.

This position from the Rocky surprised me and disappointed me. I suppose its easy to slip back into a September 10th mindset--at least for the 48%, it is.

It's also very disappointing that this is the only editorial mention of Dick Durbin's slander in either of the Denver papers this week.

Movie Review: Revenge of the Sith

I know, I know. . . what took me o long? Well, let's just say that as the only SciFi fan in the family, getting out to see a movie has to be a "crime of opportunity."

And speaking of "crimes of opportunity," can we talk about Lucas' script?

But first, there WERE some very good things in this movie. To begin with, the scenic design was striking, at times breathtaking--Lucas has quite a gift for creating a setting. And I thought the swordplay was pretty interesting, though I'm going to have to go back when it comes out on DVD and study it--I could have sworn that several of the sequences repeated themselves. But I could be wrong. I also thought the performances by principles far outstripped the script, though that was never going to be that big of a challenge. In particular, I thought Hayden Christiansen had some fine moments, and the chemistry between his Anniken and Ewan MacGregor's Obi-Wan was very believable. And, of course, the John Williams score was, predictably, excellent.

But I, unlike many reviewers, did not see the descent of Skywalker as all that compelling or believable. And, sadly, that is the whole point of the movie. Lucas did a fine job setting up the "moment"--all the motivations were in place, the conflict was plausable, the need for action clear. And then, suddenly, as soon as Anniken makes the spur-of-the-moment decision to block Mace Windu's strike (oh, come on--if you're still reading this, you've already seen it, and I'm not ruining anything), he instantly loses all vestige of good. It's just not plausible to me that the tipping point would be that remorseless, that unsurprising, or that complete that he would go straight from that act to the murder of children. Not buying it.

And once that critical moment fails in its purpose, nothing else really matters. Even a pretty good performance by Natalie Portman as a conflicted lover fails to re-center the movie on its central axis.

Overall, a B-. A very good concept, and entertaining, but not particularly effective.

By the way, I barely noticed the political overtones, and I was looking for them. I think it's obvious what Lucas was trying to say, but the "delivery" was pretty ineffective.

On Durbin

First of all, let me just say that Dick Durbin's comments on the floor of the Senate, and his subsequent non-apologies and weasels brand him forever as an intellectual lightweight and a moral imbecile. If you haven't heard his comments, I direct you to Radioblogger for transcripts.

But while we're all justifiably outraged and busy calling for censure of the Democrats #2 elected official, I think it would be wise to look at the big picture.

Think about all the lunacy that has come from the Left lately: Kennedy likening Abu Graib to Hussien's torture chambers, Dean's lunatic "I hate Republicans" etc, and now Dick Durbin. What do they have in common? These are all fairly important members of the Democratic hierarchy who are completely safe in their positions. Kennedy will never be beaten in Mass, nor will Durbin in Illinois, and Dean is either insignificant or quite carefully placed.

But none of the lunacy is coming from anybody with Presidential aspirations (would the real Hillary please stand up?) or people in tough re-election positions (Conrad in N.Dakota, to think of one). Now, I know some of you are thinking "What about Harry Reid" and "Just think back to Bobby Byrd", and I know there are exceptions. But Reid has to do some of this as leader of the opposition, and I'm pretty sure Byrd is senile, anyway, so. . . .

But that's not the point. The point is that I think the safe people are executing a carefully crafted campaign to move the bar of acceptable discourse SO far past "the line," that the people who need to SEEM moderate and credible can do so just by being themselves. It's the same approach as a martial artist takes getting ready for combat--do so much deliberate abuse to your shins and forearms in preparation that when you get smacked a few times in the fight it doesn't seem like much. Think of the whole Demoratic Party as that fighter, trying to innure itself to the trials of a difficult general election by being so outrageous that just about any claim made later is mild in relation.

Watch this play out. I predict that things will be fairly quite for a few months, but then somebody else will venture out onto the ledge--just to see how far they can push it.


More Educational Thoughts

A couple days ago, I blogged about a group coming together to "demand" that Denver schools do something about the gap between minority test scores and Caucasian test scores. Today, I saw an article about a school system that has made remarkable progress in that regard.

First, the data:

Most remarkable has been minority student progress. While the percentage of white third-graders reading at or above grade level has increased to 78% from 70% in 2001, the percentage among Hispanic third-graders has climbed from 46% to 61%, and among blacks from 36% to 52%. Graduation rates for Hispanic students have increased from 52.8% before the program started to 64% today; and for black students from 48.7% to 57.3%. Minority schoolchildren are not making such academic strides anywhere else.

This is astonishing progress, and is the sort of thing that should be getting widespread coverage. So why isn't it?

The saga began in 1999, when Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law the first money-back guarantee in the history of public education: the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Under the program, whenever a public school receives two failing grades on Florida's academic performance standards, state educational officials come into the school with a remedial program, and the students are allowed to transfer to better performing public schools or to use a share of their public funds as full payment of private-school tuition.

Oh, that's why. Because it involves school accountability, the possibility of school choice (the "V-word", as the article describes it), and, oh yes, a Republican Governor pushing the reform. That last reason is, of course, the main one for the lack of interest in the MSM.

What's sad about this, and what is really the point of the article, is that this reform may come crashing to an end because the Florida Supreme Court may reject that tradition by denying the constitutionality of, and thereby ending, the most promising educational progress for minority schoolchildren in the U.S.

Who in the world, you might ask, would want to bring an end to this success story?
The usual cast of characters that has opposed parental choice programs in other states--teachers unions, the American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way Of course.


Well, Duh

Rep. Bob Beauprez will attempt to amend the foreign aid bill to withhold aid from countries that refuse to extradite cop-killers.

Rep. Bob Beauprez wants to block $66 million in aid to Mexico if the country will not hand over accused cop-killers without strings attached.

Beauprez, an Arvada Republican, has joined forces with Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., on legislation inspired by the May 8 killing of Denver Police Detective Donald Young.

Their bill, expected to be filed this week, would cut off foreign aid to any country that fails to live up to extradition treaties in cases involving suspects accused of killing federal, state and local law enforcement officers.

While we're at it, let's attach a rider dealing with government personnel advising illegal immigrants on effective approaches to getting into our country.

Bolton In, Annan Out

At least, that would be the case if the Opinion Journal Online folks had their way.

All of which is to say that while the U.N. is approaching its nadir, there is also an opportunity here to make a fresh start. From what we've seen of it, the Gingrich-Mitchell report offers a far more useful blueprint for reform than the one recently given by Mr. Annan. We are particularly impressed by its demand for a permanent Independent Oversight Board to prevent future Oil for Food scandals; for more effective mechanisms to prevent Rwandan-style genocides; for the creation of a democracy coalition within the U.N.; and for an end to Israel's second-class treatment within the organization.

Above all, the prospective combination of Mr. Bolton's arrival to the U.N.--and Mr. Annan's departure from it--suggests an organization with the potential to be taken seriously by the United States. With this month being the 60th anniversary of the creation of the U.N., we can hardly think of more auspicious timing.

When Everybody Says You're Drunk . . .

And, no, this is not one more salvo in the great Quarters War.

What I'm referring to is the insistence of the Left of thrusting the Downing Street Memo into the public consciousness. A few days back, I took apart the memo, with my assessment of why it's unimportant. But, just in case you don't find me credible, maybe the Washington Post can convince you.

Bloggers have demanded to know why "the mainstream media" have not paid more attention to them. Though we can't speak for The Post's news department, the answer appears obvious: The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002.

Ha!! Take that, and . . .

And the memos provide no information that would alter the conclusions of multiple independent investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, which were that U.S. and British intelligence agencies genuinely believed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and that they were not led to that judgment by the Bush administration.

Take that!!

Oh, just in case you thought the WaPo was coming to its senses, never fear: they do slip in one gratuitous shot at the administration:

A British official is quoted as saying that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Yet it was argued even then, and has since become conventional wisdom, that Mr. Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration spokesmen exaggerated the threat from Iraq to justify the elimination of its noxious regime. Emphasis Mine.

Conventional wisdom, eh? Didn't think they could get through it without one shot, did you?


Governor Owens' Future

I think the timing is aout right to start considering the future of our Governor. Once at the top of the list for 2008 Presidential aspirations, he seems to have lost some of his luster after the legislature went Dem and then he cooperated on Referendum C. I think, based on my limited contacts, that state GOP-ers are understandably . . . what's the word? . . bothered by Ref C, and I think the national people are starting to notice, as well.

Then something happened. Gov. Bill Owens sort of dropped off the national radar and now faces perhaps his toughest task: persuading Colorado voters to give up $3.1 billion in tax refunds over the next five years to help bring the state out of the red.

Owens will be doing his lobbying alongside Democrats, who took over both houses of the Legislature this year for the first time in 44 years. The two sides worked together to come up with the November ballot proposal, something that angered more conservative members of the GOP.

A Sane Voice On Social Security

I think John Tierney may be the only person in the MSM willing to look at Social Security with a view to "what is" rather than "how will this play?". Once again, today Tierney has penned an impolitic but very smart piece on one aspect of Social Security reform.

In the Social Security debate, the notion of raising the retirement age is the elephant in the room, as Robin Toner and David Rosenbaum reported in The Times on Sunday. Both liberal and conservative economists favor the change, but politicians are terrified to even mention it to voters.

While he doesn't back up that assertion about economists, it certainly passes the "smell test." But even more importantly, he backs up the idea with a reasonable argument:

Americans now feel entitled to spend nearly a third of their adult lives in retirement. Their jobs are less physically demanding than their parents' were, but they're retiring younger and typically start collecting Social Security by age 62. Most could keep working - fewer than 10 percent of people 65 to 75 are in poor health - but, like Bartleby the Scrivener, they prefer not to. . .

With the help of groups like AARP, the elderly have learned to fight for the right to retire earlier and get bigger benefits than the previous generation - all financed by making succeeding generations pay higher taxes than they ever did themselves.

The result is a system that burdens the young and creates perverse incentives for people to retire when they're still middle-aged. Once you've worked 35 years, more work often yields only a tiny increase in your benefits (sometimes none at all), but you still have to keep paying the onerous Social Security tax, which has more than doubled over the last half century.

Anybody trying to keep an eye on this debate should read Tierney every time he writes.

Oh, Yeah--This Will Help

The gap between black students' scores and the Denver Public Schools average has grown or stayed the same since 2002 on more than half of the 22 state exams administered last year in reading, writing and math.

A group of the city's black leaders gathered Monday to demand an explanation

Maybe I'm just too jaded by watching two decades of Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton-style grandstanding on racial issues, but it seems to me that "demanding" an explanation from the school district goes a long way towards pushing responsibility AWAY from the students, parents and community. This, from the same people who I'm quite certain would fight tooth and nail to prevent the schools from taking just the sort of steps it really needs to take to close that gap--that is, early intervention, ability-grouping, and serious remediation with a sincere focus on achievement, not emotional well-being. Of course, this course of action is one that, I'm sure, would be decried as "disproportionately stigmatizing black children."

For anyone seriously interested in data-driven approaches to closing achievement gaps and increasing achievement all around, one organization that I know of which is doing excellent research on the topic is the Education Trust, which you can find at this link.

Why do I think this is likely not to be helpful? Reading further, you find out that

But 2004 and 2002 racial breakdowns of CSAP data provided Monday by the district showed that the gap grew between black students' proficiency rates and the district average on nine of 22 reading, writing and math exams. It stayed the same on five more.

"Seems like parents have given up," said news conference participant Menola Upshaw, president of the Denver Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "Teachers have given up."

On a more positive note, black students now score at the district average on fourth- and ninth-grade writing.

They exceed the district average in fourth-, sixth- and ninth-grade reading.

Which, if I'm doing my math right, means that the gap closed on eight of twenty-two tests; it also begs the question (rather than a demand) what are they doing well on those levels where they exceed the district. Also, if the NAACP assessment is that everybody's goven up, then her demand must be that the bureaucracy do something--isn't that always the solution for liberals?

I wonder why they don't ask the parents what they think should be done? Could it be that they're afraid the answer will be "give me choice?"; could it be that they're afraid that, in a district that is 57% Hispanic, black parents would prefer that their children go to a school where English is the primary language, and that maybe--just maybe--that might contribute to higher achievement in reading and writing?

Can I Get Another Excuse With That Order, Sir?

I'm not entirely sure what the net effect of this ruling is going to be, but I think it does illuminate the bias that the Colorado Supreme Court operates under.

A diabetic man who attacked his wife with a hammer and then drove over her should have been able to defend himself by claiming he was suffering from low blood sugar, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court said that insulin-induced hypoglycemia may, depending upon the circumstances, constitute a defense of involuntary intoxication and be used to show that a defendant isn't responsible for his actions.

So far, so good. I could see how a person would not have capacity to make responsible decisions if they were intoxicated, and if that were to happen involuntarily, then. . .

Unfortunately, that's not really where the jurisprudence on this issue ends.

The Colorado Supreme Court has previously ruled that a defendant can become involuntarily intoxicated by ingesting large quantities of cough drops. And the Colorado Court of Appeals has found that someone can become involuntarily intoxicated by overdosing on prescription drugs.

Really? So, voluntarily putting too many cough drops or prescription drugs in your mouth constitutes involuntary intoxication? I wonder if that defense would hold up if I were to, say, have a couple of drinks at dinner, but for some reason don't eat my meal, which would lead me into an unintentional state of intoxication? Let's just see if the nice officer who pulls me over buys that defense.

Does it matter? Why would this be different than, say, an insanity defense?

Someone found insane is committed to the Department of Human Services while someone who is found to be involuntarily intoxicated is "held morally blameless" and is returned to society, Bender said.

Oh, yeah. I guess that's a little different.

While this story, from the Post, does quote the 4-3 majority opinion in a couple places, I find it interesting that it does not quote the dissent at all. The Rocky Mountain News story does quote the dissent briefly, noting that the defendant had failed to follow doctor's instructions.

Think it might matter a little who gets to be the next governor? While it's true that the threshhold for proving involuntary intoxication is fairly high, the fact that the Court leans in this direction and has so in the past should give pause to those of us who prefer criminals pay for their crimes.


Prayer Request

Many of you have been following the trials and tribulations of Jim. Unfortunately, after a series of steps forward he seems to have been afflicted with a setback (yes--I think that's the right choice of words). Please, if you are so inclined, include him and his family in your prayers.

Back To Work. . .er, Blog

Been a bit remiss of late in the posting department. Between teaching at Vacation Bible School, having two contracts come due, and both girls having their dance recital last week (two nights plus a dress rehearsal), last week was pretty much wiped out for me. So, to both of you who check in on this site regularly: sorry.

So I'll re-enter the fray by bringing your attention to this op-ed in the Rocky Mountain News this morning. As reluctant as I am to point out the obvious deficiencies in our political opposition's approach, this article is well worth the read. It starts thus:

Recent national polling figures tell us support for Republicans nationwide is dropping. This is no surprise considering the volatile price of energy, ongoing economic jitters and the continued carnage in Iraq.

What is surprising, however, is that not only are Democrats not benefiting from this apparent decline in GOP popularity, but also their numbers are dropping as fast, if not faster.

And concludes thus:

This lack of an overarching narrative must appear to voters as though Democrats are just supporting certain issues and programs to win votes; that there is no overarching philosophy or belief system underpinning their positions except the desire for more government programs to appease select constituencies. . .

Until the Democratic Party and its affiliated institutional constituencies sit down to figure out a complete recipe for chicken soup, Democrats should not expect to benefit much from the GOP's sagging poll numbers.

I was thinking about this earlier today, as I contemplated continuing an earlier post about "what I would do if I ran the Democratic Party", and it struck me that the Democrats actually have some internal contradictions that may make it impossible for them to ever be viable nationally. Particularly what I was thinking about was the incompatible reliance on environmental groups and labor unions--how can a party reconcile the call for lower emissions and higher fuel efficiency with the need to keep the automakers' union fully employed? And this is just one of many internal contradictions that seem obvious and rife within the ranks of the Democratic Party.

What is, at this point, clear, is that the Democrats seem content to run against the GOP. That even means, where necessary, simply falling back on stall tactics to appear relevant.

What is, at this point, UNclear, is whether or not the GOP will be able to find a way to capitalize on this oppositional incoherence. A few relatively insignificant accomplishments in Congress may mean something nationally; the apparent willingness to roll over on core issues may be very damaging locally.


On The "Downing Street Memo"

I keep hearing a smattering of chatter about this document, some on the left calling it the "smoking gun" that proves that the administration fixed the intelligence around the preconceived notion that going to war in Iraq was the best course of action. So I decided to take a crack at the memo and see just what it contains. The memo itself can be seen here.

First of all, be aware that the "memo" is the minutes of a meeting held by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, with several top officials of his cabinet. As such, it is one person's distillation of the conversation of several persons, limited by that person's ability to remember, to transcribe, and to impartially reflect what was said in the room.

Who, you might ask, is this "one person"? Turns out it is, according to the Times, one Matthew Rycroft, a "Downing Street foreign policy aide." What diplomatic or intelligence rank does this "aide" hold? That is never stated, nor is it ever explicated why Rycroft is in this meeting or is taking the minutes. Is it possible that a "foreign policy aide" is a nice title for a secretary? Who knows? But it is clear that Rycroft did not contribute to this meeting, and the original adressee of the memo is David Manning, who at the time was a foreign policy advisor to the Prime Minister.

And when did this meeting happen? July 23, 2002. Keep this in mind.

Okay, enough of the preliminaries. What does the memo say? In short,

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

First of all, I have no idea who "C" is. Is this like the code name of a James Bond character, like "Q" or "M"? In the cc: line of the memo is a simple entry "C", so I assume this is somebody everybody within the government knows. A quick look through a couple UK websites didn't illuminate the identity of this person, and I don't have the patience to go through it in any more detail. But I digress . . .

--The point is, without knowing who "C" is, we have no way of assessing the accuracy of the information he/she presented to the meeting.

--"Recent talks in Washington" could have been with senior administration officials, or it could have been with a third-tier functionary at the State Department.

--Likewise, a "perceptible shift in attitude" may be the assessment, by "C" of the mood of the people he was talking to. It does not, however, present any factual data to back up his claim regarding the inevitability of war.

--"Bush wanted to remove Saddam . . ." Yes; and so did President Clinton, persuant to the 1998 Legislative Declaration, signed into law by the then-President, declaring the need for regime change in Iraq.

--"But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy" Which is a pretty neat trick, since that would involve ex post facto alteration of years worth of U.S. intel, not to mention British, French, German and U.N. intel, all of which painted a picture of an Iraq in possession of WMD. And besides which, this still provides absolutely ZERO factual evidence of said "fix."

--"The NSC had no patience. . .and little enthusiasm. . ." Again, according to whom? Is this based on high-level discussions with the top-tier personnel at the NSC, or is this the assessment of the "mood" of the place? "C" cites no immediate contact person, cites no factual evidence, cites no specific occassion. In fact, presents no evidence at all to back up his assessment.

In short, what the Downing Street Memo is nothing more than one person's view of the contents of a meeting at which an unnamed person cited unnamed contacts and vague conversations of which he/she summarized according to his or her own perceptions. It is the same thing as if I wrote down the "minutes" of a conversation I had with my brother, the Naval Aviator, and several of his friends, and then tried to submit it into a legal proceeding as evidence of the real policy of the Pentagon. No specific source, lots of opinion, and all based on, at best, third-person accounts.

THAT is why this memo has gotten so little play in the US. Because it is meaningless.

By the way, note that the date is some eight months before the invasion--an invasion whose most eloquent advocate was Tony Blair. If this were really reflective of UK policy or thinking, wouldn't that 8 month lull have been enough for Blair and Straw et al. to shift the public record to a more "accurate" version? At the very least, wouldn't Blair have moderated his rhetoric to reflect the opinion of "C"?

And, one more thing: how trustworthy can we find a document that has at the top of it "This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents."? One has to wonder when super-sensitive documents get leaked whether they are actually super-sensitive, or just planted to act thusly.


Where's Sen. Salazar on This One? UPDATE AND BUMP AND UPDATE

The arrest over the weekend of Raul Gomez-Garcia, the assassin of Denver Police Officer Donny Young, has brought to light some of the utter folly of U.S.-Mexican extradition treaties.

Mexican authorities will not return Raul Garcia-Gomez to the United States unless prosecutors agree to spare him from execution and life without parole, the Mexican consul in Denver said Monday.

Juan Marcos Gutierrez-Gonzalez, consul general of Mexico in Denver, stressed the cooperation between Mexican and U.S. authorities that resulted in Garcia-Gomez's arrest Saturday night.

"We are now having one of the best moments of Colorado-Mexico relations," he said.

But the consul said recent court rulings in his country prevent the extradition of suspects facing either of the United States' harshest penalties.

A longstanding treaty between the U.S. and Mexico specifically bars extradition in death penalty cases. Mexico's highest court recently expanded the limits, rejecting extradition for cases in which life without parole was a possibility, Gutierrez-Gonzalez said.

Okay, fine. Silly treaty, but I'm sure we are subject to many of these. What can be done about it?

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., is calling upon Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to intervene directly to expedite the extradition process.

"The murder of Detective Young has touched many Coloradans who respect and appreciate the service performed by law enforcement officers," Allard wrote in a letter to Rice that was released Monday. "Many of my constituents view this extradition case as a test of our nation's ability to hold accountable illegal immigrants who commit crimes in the United States."

Now, I realize it's pretty early, and maybe our junior Senator doesn't know how such things work. And it's also just as likely the Sen. Allard is braying at the moon. But this issue touches on many issues which Ken Salazar, Hispanic (who DID play that card during his campaign), former State's Attorney General, who should be running point on many immigration-related issues, should be strong on.

This is one particular case that is right in Sen. Salazar's wheelhouse, and his silence on the issue is, well, disappointing. Perhaps he's too busy brokering silly deals in back rooms of Washington halls of power to deal with issues his constituents care about.

UPDATE: I heard on the news tonight, though I can't find the link at this time, that Sen. Salazar has sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General's Office and the office of the Mexican Consul General requesting expedited extradition. Or something like that. Honestly, the news was on in the background, and I only heard the story with about half an ear. If some of the details are off the mark, I apologize. The point is, Salazar HAS gotten himself involved in this story.

UPDATE II: here's the link to the Salazar story.

Sad, Really

Ben already beat me to the line about "when everybody says you're drunk, sit down," so I won't have to go through that for you.
However, when someone is trying to make up a fake rivalry, and to do it he goes through extensive logical gymnastics such as saying

Normally, I would have responded with a round or two of counter-battery fire, but at this point, mercy seems to be in order.

and then following up less than twenty-four hours later with a weak, not very funny, and ad hominem attack such as this one, you have to worry about the stability of the author.

It forces one to ask: Chad, the Elder, the Howard Dean of the Northern Alliance?

On Medical Marijuana

The U.S. Supreme Court sent the hopes of medical marijuana users up in smoke Monday, but Colorado authorities say local patients who rely on the drug have no need to fear arrest.

The high court said federal law, which outlaws all marijuana with rare exceptions, trumps the "compassionate use" laws in Colorado and 10 other states.

To do this, the Court--with the strange alliance of Justices Souter, Breyer, Ginsberg, Stevens, Rhenquist and O'Connor--had to extend the federal power to regulate such issues through the Interstate Commerce Clause. While this has a long history of being the most elastically-interpreted part of the Constitution, this is still a bit of stretch (no pun intended).

Mind you, I am no fan of medicinal marijuana. But I've also been prescribed controlled substanced, as has my wife, to manage pain, and, frankly, they've had side effects that were far less pleasant than those of marijuana. If this truly is a medicinal thing, then it doctors should have this shot in their bag.

But, more importantly, this strikes me as the sort of thing for which the several states should be perfectly capable of regulating for themselves when there is truly very little threat of the substance in question being sent over state lines or, in fact, used in any way for "commerce."


Rich Lowry Goes On A Rant

Thanks to RealClearPolitics, I ran across this column by Rich Lowry. Again, not hard in the way of facts and figures, but, while it will infuriate you to learn what Planned Parenthood is up to these days, it is very amusing just to read the contempt dripping from Lowry's able pen.

To sample:

Why would a feminist organization not be eager to cooperate in a fight against the sexual exploitation of young girls? Well, Planned Parenthood represents that wing of the feminist movement billed as ''sex positive.'' Although that phrase doesn't quite capture it. Planned Parenthood is developing the ''statutory rape-positive'' wing of feminism.
These feminists are unwilling to pass judgment on any sex in any circumstances, don't care if parents are cut out of the equation entirely, believe the right to an abortion trumps any other consideration, and embrace a notion of privacy so sweeping it includes men who have, under law, raped their young sexual partners. If only Michael Jackson were interested in girls instead of boys, he might, in the right circumstances, have a friend in Planned Parenthood.

Totally worth the read.

On Public Schools and The Real World

I'm always happy to read when somebody wants to put a little accountability for this country's education debacles back in the laps of some of the OTHER people who deserve it. And, while nothing substantive is in this article, it is worth the read just for the "pulling-the-tail-of-the-tiger" quality it conveys. Just to sample:

Did I really think we'd fit in at a school so posh that stolen wallets are considered a fabulous extra benefit of diversity? By that point, I was so dazzled by the five years of Latin and glamorous aura of Gatsby-like privilege that I wasn't thinking. . .

No, when it comes to living in a parental fantasy and, we're talking about my generation. And public schools won't improve until even pseudo-populist parents like that TV writer, whose children are somewhat sheltered from bad classrooms and worse teachers, face facts.

Funny, Refreshing Candor

John Aloysius Farrell, of the Denver Post, has filed a report on the "Take Back America" conference in today's edition. I'll just post a few of his grafs, which I found quite hilarious.

American liberals staged a revival meeting here last week, arriving at the near unanimous conclusion that their path to power rests in telling voters what the Democratic Party stands for ... if only they could figure it out themselves. . .

Parodied by foes as a fussy elite, here was a pillar of the Democratic base: white, educated, anti-war, trending female, receptive to gays. There were few black or Hispanic Americans and fewer, if any, Republicans. . .

Modern American liberalism was forged a century ago, when labor leaders joined progressives to combat the robber barons of the industrial age on behalf of the common man. The movement ultimately settled in the Democratic Party. It was hugely successful, in part because the party had a simple identity.

"They were the party of working people," said historian Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?"

But by the mid-1960s, much of liberalism's work was done. Women had the vote. Children no longer worked in sweatshops. Progressive taxation was secured. Union men and women earned good wages and benefits. Racial discrimination was outlawed. Social Security and Medicare eased the hardships of old age.

Just as Democrats were poised to weave the last corner of their safety net - national health care - they lost their focus. They shifted their attention away from the economic interests of working families and to the causes of social liberality. They cast themselves (with the aid of their Republican opponents) as elitists, out of touch with average Americans. . .

That makes economics the key: It bridges Democratic divides and exploits Republican divisions.

But the Democratic establishment "is absolutely determined to not let that old-school economic populism back in the door," Frank said. "They would rather lose elections. And they do. They lose and they lose and they lose."

Allow me a moment of schadenfreud. Okay, that's done. Now, let's take a look at the GOP leadership in the Senate and sober up a bit.


A Voice Of Reason

A little stir has been started in the Alliance by this writing by Chad, the Elder:

By the way, if the granola crunchin', tree huggin', snow boardin', Coors swillin' bloggers from Colorado want to participate in some sort of a challenge with us, we say (in a John Kerryesque voice), "Bring It On."

I hasten to remind my brothers that we should be slow to escalate this foolishness. After all, The Elder is a confirmed drunk who is only now beginning to emerge from the long, hard Minnesota winter.

And, if I may edit, isn't one of the three great rules "Never get involved in a land war in Minnesota?" We should be prudent in our approach to this challenge.

Besides which, until and unless the Elder emerges from the Minnesota State Fair, with its assortment of fried delicacies (fried candy bars!?!?!) without a major cardiac event, we should just let nature take its course. Later, we can tapdance on the grave of this challenge.

On The Jobs Number

Yes, I, too, was disappointed with yesterday's 78,000 number, far below what economists had expected at 180,000. On the other hand, there is the very real effect that interest rates are likely to stay down because of this, and it's hardly an indicator of any weakness in the economy overall.

But, you don't have to listen to me--listen to Larry Kudlow:

On the surface, today’s 78,000 increase in nonfarm payroll jobs looks weaker than expected in the May jobs report. But surface conclusions are often misleading. The household survey, from which the 5.1 percent unemployment rate is derived, supplied 376,000 new workforce entrants. Over the past three months the household survey has increased by an average of 444,000 per month compared to 158,000 for the established business count.

According to Bear Stearns economist John Ryding, on a payroll-adjusted basis (excluding self-employment and adjusting for multiple job holders), household employment rose 210,000 in May and has averaged 372,000 per month over the last three months. So there’s still a good deal of labor-market strength despite today’s headline weakness. Year-to-date non-farm payrolls are averaging 180,000 per month, on track to deliver 2.2 million new jobs this year, the same total as 2004. Households, on the other hand, are tracking year-to-date at a 2.6 million annual rise, much stronger than last year’s 1.7 million total.

And, yet, there's more:

Though mainstream economists and reporters pay scant attention to the fiscal-policy influence on jobs and incomes, the fact remains that since President Bush’s supply-side tax cuts went into effect in mid-2003, non-farm payrolls have grown by 3.5 million with household employment gaining 3.9 million. Unemployment has dropped to 5.1 percent from 6.3 percent. Average quarterly growth in real GDP has advanced by 4.4 percent annually. The economic power of lower marginal tax rates on household incomes and capital formation is still misunderestimated, to re-coin a phrase.

So, there!

Thoughts On The Senate Deal

I've been giving a lot of thought over the last few days to the "deal". Not the mechanics of it--many other much more-qualified commentators have hashed out this aspect of the deal.

What interests me are the motivations of those involved.

First, how about the chief architect: John McCain. My theory, and it's not original, is that John McCain is now positioning himself as "King of the Senate." I think he must know at theis pint that there's no way in the world that he's ever going to be the GOP nominee for President, and no third-party candidate has a chance of winning, so my guess is he'll content himself to be more-or-less in charge of the "world's most deliberative body."

But, what's to lead anybody else in the Senate to sign on to his chancellorship? Lindsey Graham, who also gets the nomination for "most absurd statement in defense of this act", is a long-time McCain supporter who is seen in the background of many McCain activities, has old ties which explain him. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Graham thought he might have been a Vice Presidential candidate on a McCain ticket. Delusional? Certainly. But Senators do that to themselves quite a lot. Besides, I think Graham has a bill going foreward to reform Social Security, and I bet he'd love to be known as the man who "saved Social Security."

But what about Mike DeWine of Ohio? Simple foolishness? The desire to be somebody important? He hasn't been around long enough to care about the old traditionalist views of the Senate, and there's probably going to be a price to pay in his home state.

John Warner of Virginia? I guess he's part of the grand old tradition of the Senate, which I suppose is also why Robert Byrd is a part of this charade.

I guess Ken Salazar of Colorado laid a pretty good claim to the middle by signing on to this, but he's probably going to make more of his base angry than to please moderates with this, so . . .

Olympia Snowe? Susan Collins? Lincoln Chaffee? These are people who really don't seem committed to any particular philosophy, anyway, so for them, maintaining "comity" could certainly be an important consideration.

So, again, that leaves us with wondering why certain Senators would sign off on John McCain being in charge of the Senate. I think, in the near future, that will be a very interesting dynamic to watch. McCain toured with the President trying to sell his Social Security plan, he made a statement in favor of John Bolton, and he voted to confirm Priscilla Owens. These are three crucial votes that could, if he stays with it and follows through, could strengthen his standing within the GOP. So why do something as foolish as broker this deal?

Well, for one thing, John McCain has never shown the sort of political instincts that tend to make up men who get elected President. For another thing, he's also never shown any great philosophy other than "McCain first".

Like I said, interesting to watch in the near future.

Three Stories I Couldn't Care Less About

A military inquiry has found that guards or interrogators at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba kicked, stepped on and splashed urine on the Koran, in some cases intentionally but in others by accident, the Pentagon said on Friday.

So, what. . . I suppose because of this that now Islamists will regularly have protests in which they'll burn the U.S. flag. Oh, no . . wait. . . they do that already. How about, they'll strap bombs to their children and send them . . .no. How about, they'll fly airplanes and drive cars laden with. . . no, that too. Or maybe what they'll do is take the prisoners that they have and behead them on tape and broadcast it for the world to see. Oh, no, can't do that one either.

As one caller to Hugh Hewitt asked this week, I wonder what the Islamists say about incinerating copies of the Koran in the middle of a service by blowing up a mosque. Because, of course, this is one of the latest routes the terrorists have gone in their quest to spread carnage and destruction across as wide a swath of the world as possible. So don't come to me with crocodile tears for the "mistreatment" of Gitmo prisoners based on splashing urine--sometimes by the prisoners themselves--on copies of the Koran.

A former FBI official claims he was "Deep Throat," the long-anonymous source who leaked secrets about President Nixon's Watergate coverup to The Washington Post, his family said Tuesday.

W. Mark Felt, 91, was second-in-command at the FBI in the early 1970s. His identity was revealed Tuesday by Vanity Fair magazine, and family members said they believe his account is true.

A few days of "was he a hero?" later, and frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Now, given I was not around in the Watergate era--er, excuse me, I was 4 years old in 1973--but I can't imagine that anybody outside of Washington or the MSM echo chamber cares about who this guy is. Never mind that nobody's bothering to ask why the number two guy at the FBI was leaking to the WaPo rather than woking through the chain at DoJ.

And, thirdly:
Saddam Hussein's morale has plummeted as the gravity of the war crimes charges he faces sinks in, the judge who will oversee his trial said, and an Iraqi regarded as a top terror leader was arrested Saturday in northern Iraq.

Aww. Poor baby.

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?