Monday, February 28, 2005

The Cedar Revolution II

Contrast this post with this one. LGF's post reflects a notion which I find all across the left that the people of the Middle East is full of backward knuckle-draggers who probably will never get past listening to Wahabi prayer chants on their iPods. But the Powerline post shows that there is very little beyond skin tones, hair color and geography that divides real people.

It looks like something very real and positive is going to happen in Lebanon which will continue the historic upheaval that began over two years ago. Expect the MSM and the left to snicker at the bourgeois nature of these changes. They've never respected democracy as it is, which is the topic of a previously-promised post later today.

The boldness of the Iraqis is catching. Stay tuned.

In Defense of Rocket-Man

You know that you're doing well when Kos does something as deeply intellectual as this. Thanks again to Powerline for being what it is.

U.S.S. Jane Fonda

May as well have named this submarine that. It kind of makes as much sense to name a hospital ship the U.S.S. Kervorkian or the U.S.S. Atilla.

I know that Jimmy Carter has taken a beating by conservatives, and I caught a rib from Kos for this post, but the man really did very little good on his watch, and actually dismantled the very Navy which this vessel will serve. He'd never have approved the project.

Jimmy Carter's best days were when he had a hammer and nails in hand and made the homeless into homeowners. It was good work with a strong moral purpose, and he had begun to slip back into my mind as a very good man apart from the mistakes of his presidency. My above linked post should remove any doubt that he was never meant to deal in matters of national security.

Oscar Flop

Caught this in USA Today, courtesy of Powerline. The message that Hollywood sends is that the oscars are less about excellence in film than they are politics, rage and hate towards what America on the other side of the Hollywood sign values.

Rather Depressing

How Dan Rather continues to show his face at CBS every day with anything resembling dignity remains a mystery. And now there's another reason for Rather to remain in bed all day: the bigwigs at CBS don't bother to watch his broadcast.

Walter Cronkite who was Rather's predecessor watches NBC. Mike Wallace watches Peter Jennings at ABC. 60 Minutes creator, Don Hewitt, is also an ABC fan.

It really says something when the bulwarks of your own network don't take it's own news broadcast seriously because they hold the anchor in such low professional esteem. How embarrassing.

The Cedar Revolution?

The people of Lebanon have had their fill of Syria, and despite a ban on demonstrations, the Lebanese are making themselves heard. Because their once and possibly future leader was assassinated, very likely by the bloody hand of Syria.

Of course, Bashar Assad claimed that his nation was essential to peace efforts in the Middle East and Iraq. Which is likely quite true, but probably not in the sense that he means it. Given this and this, it seems that the removal of Syria's influence would ease the way to Iraqi and Mideast peace. And given this development, the question arises as to which other members of Saddam's regime reside in Syria, or what Iraqi hardware Syria is possessing. I somehow doubt that Assad has somehow come around to the War on Terror viewpoint.

The most interesting aspect of this protect, though is that the Syrian troops are not eager to enforce the ban on protests, and the Lebanese are emboldened by recent changes that make their nation appear to be the next to slough off tyranny for representative government. Syria may be losing its resolve. The Berlin Wall is falling.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Speaking of things that aren't pretty...

...this fits into the "Oh the humanity" file.

The Oscars

Given the hour of the post, it's clear that Hollywood's annual ceremony of self-congratulation, the Oscars, is well underway. My wife put it on twice over my objections and oddly enough, both times during Passion of the Christ technical nominations, neither of which won (I mean, duh!).

But I'll make these projections about the event, and you'll have to take my word that I haven't bothered to watch anything else of it.

- Chris Rock will take full advantage of the tape delay.
- There will be much Bush bashing, as a result of the bitterness engendered when the celebrities view these billboards upon their arrival.

And a few non-surprises...

- Abortion will be lauded.
- Celebrities will thank everyone down to the gaffer and best boy.
- The phrase "it's an honor just to be nominated" will be uttered by a winner, as the nominees who didn't win somehow disagree.
- politics will win over substance.

The reason I don't bother watching. These people pat themselves on the back so hard that they break their own arms. It's not a very pretty sight.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Living Dangerously

Liberty Files friend Rodger at This isn't Writing, It's Typing, has a bone chilling post on the particularly creepy scenario of lasering aircraft. It's must reading. The thumbnail sketch is that terrorists may be trying to acquire airliners with handheld surface to air missiles, much like the stinger heat-seeking variety. The plan may be to take out a few planes at various airports, thereby knocking out the airports. Then, once the other planes are diverted elsewhere, in an eagerness to land before exhausting fuel, hit them en masse at the new marshall points. Essentially, it's the hounds driving the foxes to the hunters.

The bottom line is that these are dry runs which it appears are being ignored. Sure, one can claim that it's just the government being hush-hush as they work to circumvent terror plots. But in view of the controversy over air marshall attire, where air marshalls' anonymity is unnecessarily exposed by their dressing in suits, compromising our first line of defense in the air, it is hard to believe that these other concerns are being given the appropriate attention.

Friday, February 25, 2005

On Liars and Cheats

Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics.com, one of my favorite blogs, offers a discussion about lying and cheating. He pits baseball player Barry Bonds a likely steroid user who is on the heels of Babe Ruth's home run record, and University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, on the heels of Osama bin Laden as an America hater, against one another for the award for the biggest liar/cheat. This is a hard one, so I'll evaluate them both in terms of the affect their respective disgraces have on society.

Churchill is about as anti-American as you get without having attended an Al Qaeda boot camp. He hates Americans and all we stand for. Take a look at this post and then this and this by his fellow (and fairly liberal) CU professor, Paul Campos (all courtesy of RealClearPolitics). He lied about his heritage to get into what is a fairly useless position in the ethnic studies department at CU, has limited academic credentials, and applauds the murder of Americans. He has been exposed as a fraud, and he, of course, blames the right. Because, presumably, people in the middle and even on the non-pink left would supposedly side with his Stalinist world view.

But Churchill is not a teacher, he's a preacher. And he pontificates his peculiar message of hate in a department with no real academic value, reserved for angry people who receive six figure salaries to rehash grievances which they never personally experienced. In short, he's a phony. Nobody but a few like-minded fools takes him seriously, and he is more novelty than influence. He entered the national scene as a joke, just as he will leave it.

Barry Bonds is a guy whose baseball card many young kids want. He is a master home run hitter. But there are serious allegations that he did steroids and his response to them is revealing. He won't define the parameters of cheating, much less associate steroid use with it, reminding us of the "no controlling legal authority" argument. Which is like saying that a stop sign is somehow an ambiguous instruction. His red herring that tobacco and alcohol should be greater concerns is curious, given that it is unlikely that any player's performance has ever been enhanced by inebriation or after a cigarette or some chaw. His previous allegation that a trainer slipped it into a cream also falls flat. These athletes make a point of knowing what they are putting on/in themselves. And if Bonds later learned that he was slipped a Mickey Finn, he should have cried it from the mountain tops and implicated the trainer before he was "caught". Because silence implies acquiescence.

But then Bonds played the increasingly dog-eared race card...the cry of the exposed wrongdoer trapped in a truly hopeless and embarrassing position. His use of this tired old phony defense, rather than causing the media (whom he also called liars) to retreat like Dracula at the sight of a cross, only increased the scent of blood in the water. Come on Bonds, we know what's going on.

The race between these two individuals is very close, but I have to give it to Bonds because everyone Ward Churchill is on his face an unprincipled, unpatriotic and largely unintellectual moron. People don't look up to fools like him. But kids did look up to Barry Bonds. When sports figures do drugs in an effort to break the rules to get an unfair advantage, it sends a very disturbing message to young fans. Bonds was going to be a multi-millionaire regardless of how many records he was going to break. Was the sale of his soul and his image worth the extra money?

Spare us the defense Barry. We know what you did. It seems that you're the only one who doesn't.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Feminism Smackdown

I've always enjoyed Susan Estrich's perspective, even though I often found it to be balderdash for the most part.

The Washington Examiner, (courtesy of Galley Slaves), reproduced a rather unpleasant exchange between a fairly belligerent Estrich and a concomitantly irritated and uncooperative Michael Kinsley. Estrich threatens and gets personal with Kinsley regarding his Parkinson's Disease. Kinsley freezes her out.

And then comes this excellent piece by Heather MacDonald (courtesy RealClearPolitics) which puts Estrich in her place. Everyone knows that Susan Estrich is a radical feminist. She also can be a very witty and sensible person, but both of those features are gone in this exchange, revealing a sarcastic and bitter gender advocate.

I can't divide up MacDonald's article as effectively as she did Estrich's rants, but I'll give it a try. Estrich is focused on voices for liberal women, not just women. Estrich thinks that women should get just as much column space as men do, regardless of the merit of the writers' work. But more importantly, she seems to favor women who write about women's issues. And who the heck wants to read about that?

Can't women write about Iraq, Social Security, terrorism, tax policy, federal judges and the like? I don't mean to sound unkind, but seriously, the gender stuff is an isolated cry of days gone by. It is an effort for liberal women to advance an agenda that is more about bitterness towards men and sameness (not equality, mind you) between the genders.

Estrich's vision for women columnists needs to extend beyond leftism and gender politics. Because really, who cares? If women are to be legitimate participants in the marketplace of ideas, people like Susan Estrich need to get past the notion that women writers need to be liberal or primarily concerned with the very limited issues that concern liberal women. Because it would be insulting to say that men command all of the other issues, now wouldn't it?

The Liberty Contageon

I saw this post on Powerline, and it verified to me the correctness of the Bush doctrine. freedom emboldens those who want to be free. Lebanon may be a very little place, but so is its gutsy little free neighbor to the south. And nobody seriously accuses Israel of being insignificant.

Joe Scarborough, quoting John Podhoretz described the Ukrainian Orange Revolution as being an unintended consequence of the liberation of Iraq. And that may indeed be what is happening in Lebanon.

It remains to be seen how the assassination of Rafiq Hariri will play, but it likely will not go well for the Syrians. And you know that they have a fairly indefensible position when they link up with Iran, another nation known to export terror, and which seeks the power of nuclear weapons to blackmail the world.

The bad guys are losing, mainly because the little guy knows that he can count on assistance if he makes a brave choice. Because freedom is a contageon that rises from the ground up and does not require forceful imposition from the top.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

All the subtlety of a sledgehammer

Jonathan Last of Galley Slaves and The Weekly Standard put up this most disturbing post. The lesson being, of course, that publicity invites mockery.

I recalled this class note from my high school alumni update magazine. I saw the young lady's name and knew her to be an acquaintance from the past, so I read. Information has been redacted to protect the silly:

After spending some time in Oregon & California, I finally settled in Philadelphia, PA in 1999. My wife Kathleen [name redacted] & I married under the care of our Quaker meeting in October of 2002 and are excitedly expecting the birth of our first child in early March. (I'm the one who's swelling.) Kathleen works for the National Park Service and I serve as Development Manager for Friends General Conference....

The person writing this was a young lady whom I once took to a dance.

I read it through once, and at the wife part, double-taked with a "What!?!?", and then went through twice to just confirm that I was actually reading what was there. But that's what it said. No warm up at all. The absence of a warning, or even a "back story" didn't help this revelation go down too well.

And the fact that I once took her out was just too funny to my wife, who felt it her place to share it with both sides of the family who now accuse me of somehow causing this. Yet more reasons to leave the seat up at night.

ADDENDUM

Jonathan Last, apparently possessing the same sense of humor as my wife responds this way. I can only respond in kind by saying that he is a very, very bad man who tortures poor Vic Matus in inexcusable ways. I disclaim all fault for my part in the "metamorphasis".

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Judicial Appointments Are Everything

President Bush is about to make a mistake. This Bruce Fein piece says it all. And in light of this, the importance of the judicial appointments issue cannot be understated.

Fein's initial point is that depriving the Democrats of the use of the filibuster, because the filibuster deals with exclusively legislative matters, is permissible, because permitting it as it has been used--to obstruct judicial appointees with whom Democrats do not politically agree--is possibly an unconstitutional breach of the separation of powers. A floor vote would easily confirm each of these judges. But his secondary point is critical.

Bush's legislative agenda cannot trump court appointments. Judges and justices remain on the bench for life. These people will very likely be in a position to affect the law for decades to come. But problems arise when members of the bench forget that the U.S. Congress and state legislatures--the people most exposed to the ballot box--are the law makers. And when judges take it upon themselves to ignore that separation of power, tyranny begins to encroach upon liberties reserved to the people. Judges decide cases on the law, they don't re-cast it. They are bound to the Constitution's four corners. When they step outside that constraint, they become a legislative oligarchy, unaccountable to the people.

I see it all the time as a lawyer. I was in court last week, and watched a judge, despite my comment that he was exceeding his statutorily-granted powers, take action which was outside the jurisdiction of his court. He violated the law, because that seemed right at the time to him. But it's never right. It's never acceptable to set the rule of law aside for fiat. Perhaps a few good men could responsibly exercise such power, but there are many more who would not.

And the Federal bench is no exception. Here are a few names which might jog some memories: John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg--activist judges who rule on what seems politically "fair" not on what the law says. And this is how the left operates its political agenda. They know that there are almost no legislatures, save for that of California, which will enact their agenda. So they try to slip it in through friendly judges. This is a fundamental violation of the way our government operates, and the subject of my next post, but it represents a true threat to our liberties.

The president has a duty to ensure that it is he, not the Democrats in the Senate, who determines the makeup of the judiciary. Because the appointment of strict constructionists--people who read the law written by the legislatures and passed by the executives, and apply it whether they personally like it or not--is the only guarantee that the separation of powers will continue.

Which brings me to the health of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. It amazed all of us that he did not retire last June. It was all the more astounding that he continued in his job despite thyroid cancer and treatment. And if the rumors are to be believed, it will be all the more astounding if he survives the remainder of this term. And when the inevitable occurs, we will almost certainly witness two appointments. The promotion of Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas to Chief Justice and the appointment of a new associate justice.

And then the battle will be joined. Will he appoint people whom we can trust, or will he pick people who will likely fall prey to the same unprincipled judicial advocacy? Because an entire legislative agenda can pale in comparison to the value of a judge who is true to the law--or one who is not.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I Was Young, I Needed the Money

The news of the "Bush tapes" is spreading around, focusing, more than anything on the president's pretty well presumed drug use in his youth. A few reports here and here provide an interesting perspective. Doug Wead, a former Assembly of God pastor seems to indicate that he didn't do any of this for money, but just couldn't resist the historical benefits that releasing these tapes would create. Wead calls himself a friend of the President. Much like Linda Tripp wa a friend of Monica Lewinsky.

Wead believes that the tapes indicate that Bush was a man who rejected his past and and looked ahead to the future, and that they do no damage to the president but more than anything reflect a changed man. True enough, as the tapes offer us nothing new. We all knew that Bush was a trouble maker in his youth. We know he had a problem with alcohol and probably with drugs as well. And Wead did wait until after the election to release them.

But there's something that stinks about this. Wead arranged to have these telephone conversations in states where surreptitious recordings of telephone conversations (between friends or not) are permitted. Hardly a candid and discussion between friends. He also knew that Bush didn't want kids using his bad example as an excuse to indulge in marijuana, which is why he avoided the story

We all knew Bill Clinton smoked pot. He was just mocked for his non-inhaling cover story that seemed blatantly phony. Al Gore smoked pot. Surprise. They were all non-issues.

It seems that Doug Wead thinks that he is somehow doing something good. But his perception is probably unique to him. It will be interesting to see wether he remains on the White House Christmas Card list for 2005.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Being Politically Ill

Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University on January 14, had the gall to spur academic debate.

In a nutshell, he claimed that women seem to be avoiding significant involvement in the scientific disciplines, among others. Relying on scientific data and pulling together several differing opinions, he essentially attempted to spark a debate to create understanding as to why women are not well represented in the sciences (presuming that representation of any kind is necessary in a laboratory, of course). While acknowledging its existence, Summers downplayed the involvement of sex discrimination and seemed to place the disparity more on women's desires to have families and scientific employers' desire to have employees who will be more dedicated to career than distracted by day to day and moment to moment family needs. And he even questioned whether men and women have different aptitudes in different areas. And that made some perpetually unhappy people positively livid.

The issue is very well digested here (courtesy of Powerline).

Many professors walked out, one claiming that it made her physically ill to be present at the event where her excruciatingly bitter orthodox beliefs might be challenged. But I think she was made more "politically" ill.

Summers has since needlessly apologized for what was essentially the primary duty of the head of a major university in the free world. He invited discussion, research, and debate. Read his remarks carefully. He makes very clear that he is not certain whether he is right or wrong.

The reaction of the professors though reveals what many conservatives have long believed, namely that such professors are so hopelessly steeped in leftist political orthodoxy, that they are unwilling or unable to seek facts to understand truths.

So, far from being institutions of higher learning and discovery, universities have become fortresses for the left. Rather than teaching wisdom and constantly pursuing fact and truth, they close their minds to anything but the sexual, pacifist and socialist revolution of the 1960s. So to some degree, students are being graded on how well they talk the talk.

And this is the arrogance of the left. They presume that they are especially enlightened and that they need not explore the veracity of their beliefs any further. Because these people cannot tolerate truth when it conflicts with their dogma. Are these really the minds we want teaching our children? Because they are really politically ill.

ADDENDUM

Excellent reader comment, and while my reader may come from the left, I don't know him well enough to know if he is arrogant or not. And arrogance comes from both sides. It doesn't take a liberal...

The gender debate often misses that thing called science, which may to some degree explain why some of these professors took more than the usual umbridge at this challenge to their inculcated beliefs. I have heard of similar research as the reader quotes which leads me to the biggest fallacy of the gender movement.

Equality does not mean sameness. It does not mean that there should be an equal distribution of men and women in every field. And in fact, it may mean specialties in various physical and mental disciplines where one gender has a markedly greater proficiency than the other. We're made differently, not better or worse. We're meant to accept and enjoy the differences, not resent them.

Slamming Carter

Powerline has what I found to be a chilling post on former President Jimmy Carter, and this ancillary post, providing what I found to be a fairly accurate thumbnail of probably the most dangerous presidency in American history. Even Bill Clinton, on whose watch terrorism flourished, did not fail this horribly.

Under Carter, the Soviets had a real shot at a warm water port in Pakistan (they didn't invade Afghanistan because of its abundant resources, industry, or for a cross-cultural exchange. It was simply the real estate between the USSR and the Arabian Sea), which would have put them in a potentially decisive position in the Cold War. They would have established the Murmansk of the South. With respect to Iran, Carter put the Ayatollah Kohmeni in a position of real power by dealing directly with him rather than dealing at him. Jimmy Carter was no John Kennedy.

On the domestic front, let's not forget the misery index, which is the sum of the unemployment and interest rate. It came into use under his administration. We stood in lines for gas, and I can remember sitting in the car with my parents, waiting to get gas and hearing the grumblings about it. Carter was powerless to tackle any of these economic stranglers.

Upon his retirement, though, I gained new respect for him. He got back to God, he focused on building houses for people who didn't have them through Habitat for Humanity, and really lived a life that any man would love. But then at the turn of the century, Carter began rise again, abandoning morality for more of the madness that came to define his presidency. Prepared to leave a legacy of true goodness and love, despite a really unsuccessful presidency, Carter returned to the international scene and reminded us that when he meddles in world affairs, he lacks wisdom, capacity, and as much as it truly pains me to say it, morality.

The thing that strikes me is his unusual willingness not just to work with thugs, but to prefer their company to the exclusion of America and its allies.

He has always sold himself as a man of principle. This principled man was willing to boycott the Soviet Olympics in 1980 after they invaded Afghanistan. Notwithstanding that bold act of diplomacy, which, while strangely failing to deter the invasion, did guarantee the Soviets a medal sweep, Carter was still willing to cut a deal with the enemy (Check the Powerline link above) in order to get himself four more years. A man of principle indeed.

So principled, in fact that the Carter Center, a project of his designed to ensure the fair conduct of elections, a Keystone Kops gang if there ever was one, supervised and endorsed the results of the 2004 election returning the leftist Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to office, despite the fact that it was pretty clear to everyone that Chavez had tampered with the results of an election which he had clearly lost. Exit polling had him losing by 18%. The "official" cooked results had him winning by that much. The people of Venezuela voted him out, but he illegally worked the results to his favor. The Democrats in the State of Washington have nothing on him. Carter had the ethos to complain about the results and get them overturned, but instead, he defended them. It was an irresponsible and immoral abuse of power on Carter's part. Either he is dim to miss the facts, lacking the wisdom to evaluate them, or plainly immoral enough to look the other way when it is a leftist dictator trying to retain power. The real losers were the people of Venezuela.

And I wonder what the result would have been the result if Carter had been monitoring the Ukraine election? The Orange Revolution might have been squeezed.

Carter's brand of principle is really academic and idealistic cowardice. He'll stand up to a Republican administration in Washington any day. But he won't call evil what it is, nor will he confront it. Rather, he kisses it on the cheek and asks its cooperation. The point is that principle is foolishness if it allows evil to grow. And much evil has advanced on Carter's watch.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Deaning the Party into a Concrete Abutment

There are a few fun posts here and here, courtesy of RealClearPolitics about what Howard Dean's chairmanship at the DNC means. While I've been eager to snicker at the suicidal choice for chairman that he is, it really does remain to be seen whether Dean will allow himself to be transformed beyond late 2003 into the leader that the Democrats desperately, desperately need to get off of the ground. If he can keep his head down and work behind the scenes to keep the Democrats well funded, sparing the irresponsible rhetoric, and making inroads towards the center, he'll be a hero.

But I caught a number of apologists this weekend not talking up Dean, but rather trying to leave the impression that he was not going to be the disaster many expect. Rather underwhelming endorsements, I think. Better yet, the recent signal from Harry Reid that he, not Dean, will be setting Democratic policy, should make very clear that even in-house Dean is viewed as a liability.

The biggest key to any Dean success will quite simply be keeping his mouth shut. The CS Monitor article to which I linked has Dean making references to the New Testament, and claiming that the Democrats are living the principles taught in it. A mistake. It would be wise for Dr. Dean to avoid making references to his prior gaffes, where he placed the Book of Job in the New Testament when asked which of the New Testament books was his favorite. Howard forgot that his mouth, including but not limited to the I Have A Scream speech, is what killed him in January 2004. The chairman in supposed to be an operator, not a blowhard; it's about how they can flip red states in 2008, not simply avoiding the need to control damage by the guy who is supposed to be the party's booster in chief.

His first test will be 2006. If the Dems fail to gain seats in the House and Senate, that would mark three straight elections where they failed to gain when every historical indicator favored their victory. It would signal a true erosion of their party, and would speak poorly of their White House prospects for 2008.

So let's raise our glasses to Howard Dean. It will be an interesting few years. May fortune favor the foolish.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Can We Tax That?

This (courtesy of Drudge) is why people are moving out of California.

Addendum

One of my favorite astute readers strikes again with reason that requires a response. I think everything he said is more or less correct, but my understanding of the marketplace in California is that it is exceedingly expensive to do business there. This won't make it cheaper.

Also, another concern is the less than wealthy. This will force people to look for employment close to home, or to move to be closer to work, rather than having a longer, but still tolerable drive (I used to drive 80 round trip daily from Baltimore to Alexandria VA for 2 years, and it wasn't a huge problem). If it were me, I'd move, just further east, and out of the grip of Sacramento. If their goal is to encourage the use of public transportation, give an incentive to use, not a punishment for failing to do so. Further, the gas tax they have now, such as it is, is a very effective pay-as-you go alternative. You use more gas the more you use the roads.

But the thing that gets me is the whole GPS enforcement. No thanks. I'd rather not announce myself to big brother. California is on the cutting edge of many things. Unfortunately, one of those things is the art of overregulating their citizens and businesses. And enterprise doesn't like to be punished becauce government can't get its financial act together.

Out of the frying pan...

Bashar Assad of Syria suddenly has unwanted attention from a nation whose president has the will and ability to knock off tin pot dictators who support terror and destabilization.

To bring you up to speed, a bomb rocked downtown Beirut on Monday in what appears to have been a successful effort to assassinate former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Hariri opposed Syria's incursion into Lebanon and demanded that they pull their troops, per a toothless UN resolution to do so.

Now we're pulling our ambassador. Bashar Assad may want to remember that he has several U.S. Army divisions next door in Iraq, he has no real army to speak of, and there's nobody ready to come to his rescue.

Stay tuned.

Krugman Should Do Stand-Up

Paul Krugman of the NYT is a reflexive liberal who lives in an insular little world where there is very little room for fact. Check his opinion column today about Howard Dean. Read it more than anything for entertainment value. There is no need to take it seriously given that he opens with a statement like this:
Mr. Dean is squarely in the center of his party on issues like health care and national defense.
True enough that Dean was a bit more of a centrist governor of Vermont. But he is not known that way, and none of his accomplishments in Vermont, such as they are, were touted by him or his supporters last year. People remember the pathological leftist rhetoric and that's why he is so popular. His demands for the repeal of the tax cuts, removal of our soldiers from Iraq, and his questioning of Osama bin Laden's guilt or turning him over to the World Court are all a bit troubling to a centrist.

But this quote issues another question...If Dean is to the center of his party, what in the heck do the people to his left believe, and why on earth would we want to empower a party with people who are actually to Dean's left? Oh the humanity.

Thanks Paul, for another insight into why this party can't get people elected nationally anymore.

Revisionist History

Check this piece from Max Boot in the Weekly Standard. Boot does a pretty solid job of sinking this awful work. The surprise was that he did not hit Regnery Publishing all the harder.

Christians already take a nasty beating in the media, as we saw with John Hinderaker's Daily Standard treatment of Bill Moyers' effort to mock Christianity and Christians in general. But Regnery, carrying the imprimatur of Christianity on it has done a disservice to conservative Christians by publishing a book by a man who appears to be neither. Many excellent works have come out of that house, but the fact that this screed somehow made its way to printing indicates that either the review process is lacking at Regnery, or that someone actually takes this discredited twaddle seriously. Books don't get published accidentally.

One of the greatest concerns that conservatives in general and Christians in particular need to have is who we allow to speak for us. The Republicans were blessed to be divorced from Pat Buchanan and his ilk after 1992, and Buchanan is now widely viewed as damaged goods. Christians are wise to marginalize the likes of Bob Jones University in favor of Franklin Graham and his family. Because loud and sometimes outrageous voices very often become associated with the entire movement and have a powerful steering affect, sometimes with unfortunate consequences. It is the duty of conservative Christians to vocally oppose the extremists who want to be included in our midst. Because Christ was extreme in but one thing: unconditional love of people no matter their station in life. And conservatives need to remember that.

Regnery owes the literate population of America an apology. And they need especially to apologize for the Christian population whom they purport to serve for this disservice which they did to the perception of our faith and for polluting our vision for America.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Jesus Freaks

John Hinderaker of Powerline pens this excellent piece on Bill Moyers' hate toward Christians. The article raises a few concerns.

First, we have yet another journalist who, out of personal political beliefs, has invented facts (also known as lying) to deliberately cast a religious group in a negative light. Not a word from the mainstream media, mainly because they believe or want to believe the very things that Moyers was saying.

But more to the point, Moyers mocked the members of that religious group because they hold to the teachings of their faith. Moyers' only basis for such mocery is that he doesn't believe the teachings, which of course make them hogwash in his arrogant little mind.

The mainstream media is very careful to run to the defense of Muslims, Islam, and even Islamists. Once, they even ran to the defense of Jewish folk and their faith. No longer. Defamation of Christianity, Christians, Jews and Judiasm is not only tolerable, it's chic.

And it's a shame that after blatantly false and remarks like these intended to mock a religion and people whom he hates, Bill Moyers is still given a platform. Becuase bigotry needs very little energy to get started.

Jordan may take CNN with him

As I blogged below, Reese Schonfeld, CNN co-founder this morning on Fox & Friends, tried to clean up the image of his network, but instead, in an offhand remark, may have made things infinitely worse. This was an effort to avoid another Rathergate, but it seems to have backfired.

Dan Rather's failure was huge, but more than anything, it just confirmed the already clear impression that he and his network are hopelessly in bed with the left.

This new revelation from CNN is very different. They are an international news outlet. And the admission that Eason Jordan not only sat on Saddam's purges of his people in order to curry favor with his government, but may have actively worked against the U.S. government by knowingly exposing Iraqi informants could indeed bring down the network.

His resignation was no surprise, but it won't be enough if Schonfeld's remarks were accurate. And why would he say something so absolutely devastating if it weren't for real?

Eason Jordan Now Has Blood on His Hands

Eason Jordan may have gotten U.S. spies/informants killed according to Reese Schoenfeld, CNN co-founder.

Jordan has been breaking new ground in journalistic ethics over the past few years for CNN. First, we discovered through him a few years ago that CNN sat on stories of Saddam's treaty violations for over ten years to position itself favorably with his government. Then we just heard his outrageous claim that the U.S. military was intentionally targeting journalists.

So this morning, on Fox & Friends, Reese Schonfeld tells Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade that Jordan leaked the names of two CIA-recruited operatives while he was in Amman. Knowing that Amman was a "sieve" to Baghdad as Schonfeld claimed, Jordan led Saddam's government to these informants and got them killed. Schonfeld was not clear as to whether these were U.S.-recruited Iraqi informants or actual American operatives out of Langley, but it really makes no difference.

The funny thing is that there is no reason to leak such people's names other than to expose them. Which raises another question of journalistic ethics: were these guys sources of his? And did he, against the canons of journalism, reveal their identities because he didn't like the nature of the help they were giving the U.S.?

This is no longer a case of journalistic bias, but rather treason. This man may have gotten American human intelligence assets killed. Knowing that CNN was complicit in Saddam's illegal activities to get scoops, this report leaves the impression that Jordan may have done this to prevent the government from undercutting Saddam's Iraq and/or to retain CNN's favored position with that government.

CORRECTION:

It wasn't Iraq's treaty violations (although we don't know what CNN knew), but rather the human rights abuses of Saddam upon which they sat. My pre-coffee mistake.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Nutbag Corner

A whole host of stuff on North Korea today. The Bush Administration is refusing one-on-one talks with North Korea. Most wise. For the same reason that Kennedy dealt with Castro by dealing with Kruschev, this is good policy. If we go to a two way talk with North Korea, we will be hit with blackmail. That's the reason Pyongyang wants this arrangement. If we involve Asian neighbors, there is real pressure on Kim (at least more than he would have in one to one talks).

The Chinese especially have a good deal to lose in this. Nuclear power they may be, but economic power is a bit more important to Beijing. The ability to generate hard currency feels a bit nicer than missiles. And a nuclear missile-armed crackpot regime next door really doesn't help with commerce. The other problem being, of course, that China created North Korea; a creature of the bad old days of the early Cold War. the chickens have come in the Year of the Rooster it seems.

On a lighter note, if there is one, would be this. Kim is transferring leadership to his son. The son looks to be a little more western, avoiding the olive military style outfit that his father prefers. But who knows? Of course, the stuff on the banner on the left is hilarious. Kim is not thrilled with his less than adoring portrayal in "Team America". If anyone remembers "The Naked Gun", where Lt. Frank Drebin thrashed a bunch of middle-eastern thug-leaders, they may also remember that the movie was banned in Iran, given that the Ayatollah Kohmeini was singled out for special humiliation. Welcome to the world of free speech President Kim.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Dean - Learning Lessons

Check this out. Howard Dean finally learned to keep his mouth shut before the big moment. I guess Iowa did have its lessons for him!

Congratulations on your coronation Chairman Dean. Condolences to the party you purport to serve.

Deborah Gibson - Letting it all Hang Out

I caught Mancow on Fox and Friends the other morning, when he dropped the bombshell that Debbie (now Deborah) Gibson had posed for Playboy. My presumption of course was that it was a naked posing. This isn't rumor, check her site, where she celebrates her latest photo shoot. Leave it to Mancow to cut through the fluff. He left it by saying that Debbie had more or less demolished the image she had been building for years. And he's right.

Being about her age, I had a crush on her. Debbie Gibson was absolutely clean. She hung very close to family, involved them in her recording and videos, and every interview of hers that I ever heard reflected a young lady with personality, intelligence, and a very positive attitude.

But after the teen years drew to a close, her draw, understandably, was not the same. That's life. So in order to give her career and upcoming album a jump-start, she dropped her clothes and posed for Playboy. But displaying yourself for the benefit of Hugh Hefner has, oddly, never advanced a young lady's career in any significant way. She wants more exposure. She got it, but she also ruined the very family-friendly image she worked so hard to cultivate. If she's trying to appeal to dirty old men, this is the way to do it. But unless she intends dance around a pole in a cheap dive, she may very well have turned off the audience she intended to attract.

And that's a tragedy.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Line in the Sand

North Korea has now declared that it is nuclear-armed. Encouraging. Again, another reason why this nation is at the top of the Axis of Evil. North Korea has abosolutely nothing that the United States or any other nation wants, and yet it arms itself with nuclear weapons to defend itself against U.S. aggressions. Of course, the U.S. would largely ignore the mini-Stalinist state but for the fact that it is developing and may now have the very weapons it claims to have. So it's "need" for such weapons seems to elude logic.

Curiosuly, the North Korean statement in the referenced article, indicates that the North remains committed to the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula. The funny thing is that they are the ONLY government on the peninsula with nuclear weapons. It being clear that the U.S. and other such intimidators would simply lose interest if the North disarmed, it is confising what goal they have in keeping the region on a razor's edge.

But it's pretty clear that Kim Jong Il, the tinpot dictator of that country is interested in keeping a blackmail card on the table. You see, North Korea is a starving nation. It needs food to keep its people alive, so that they can work for the benefit of Kim, and be adequately oppressed for his pleasure. It cannot provide for its people, so in 1994, the Clinton Administration with Madeline Albright at the helm agreed to pay tribute to Kim in order to keep him disarmed. Look how well it worked. Kim used and continues to use all aid sent to his country in order to bulk up his nation's military power, not to feed his starving people who live in squalid conditions. he never meant to keep the agreement.

In any case, the nuclear threat, whether a bluff or for real, is nothing the United States can ignore. With misiles aimed at South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, the U.S. has many allies to defend. And Kim must know that pressing the nuclear launch button against any U.S. ally, or even the U.S. itself, would be a proxy button-pushing against himself.

The lesson? We can't trust dictators. We can only support their removal. An academic foreign policy for eight years brings us to the brink of war. This is the price for naievete.

Trover's Taking all Dean Impersonaters!!

The "Scream Heard 'Round the World" or "I Have a Scream" speech of Howard Dean can get you a prize. If you can imitate it well enough, Trover's the conservative-loved bookstore in D.C. will give you a Howard Dean Bobble-Head doll, with (of course) a suggested $5 donation to a selected cancer charity. If I can get away, I am SO going to do it!!! My wife will likely hide her face in embarassment...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Who Really Pays the Taxes?

It's budget time, and of course, time to pay as much attention to what comes in as goes out. Two excellent pieces came out in the past two days. This one from John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson at Powerline, and this one from Larry Kudlow.

Larry Kudlow puts in pretty plain terms the fact that the Bush tax cuts are working, by noting that just in the past 12 months, individual income tax collections have increased 15%. That's gigantic. And it's the result of a tax cut feeding economic growth.

Hinderaker and Johnson lay out the tax case for personal Social Security accounts, namely that it is a soaking of the rich, given that the middle and lower income Americans contribute very little to the nation outside of payroll taxes, which they will see returned to them in the form of a personal account. But this article, a rare one indeed, argues quite persuasively, that the top 5% of income earners are going to be yoked with an even greater tax burden than before while those below actually bear a smaller one.

The larger point between these articles, but especially the Kudlow article is that supply side economics benefits the taxing and the taxed. More importantly, it is a boon to the untaxed poor, as the rich (also known as "job creators") have more cash with which to hire them as they expand their business enterprises.

The Laffer Curve, maligned by the pro-tax crowd, has been proven in the mid 1960s, the 1980s, and again now. It's principle is simple: If you have taxes too high, you actually erode the tax base from which the economy grows. If you soak the rich (also known as "job creators"), you actually decrease the amount of jobs, and thus cash, floating about in the market. The rich will stay rich regardless, but punishing them out of spite really harms the working class.

The point made by Hinderaker and Johnson, that the diversion of payroll taxes to personal accounts will put a greater burden on the highest 5% of income earners is not to be ignored. And the notion that the federal government may have a greater need for revenue, out of the pockets of the rich of course, after such a plan is equally valid.

The greater point is that the tax system we have is fairly regressive. The highest income earners bear the heaviest tax burden by far. But they're not complaining that much, given that they are significantly more wealthy despite paying a greater share of the nation's needs. So does it make sense to make it more regressive by punishing the rich to pay for further federal outlays, or do we further release the economy to do what it was always meant to do by allowing people to seek personal financial freedom apart from the state, and thus allowing the state to passively benefit from it?

Addendum

I've been asked by a very astute reader to provide some evidence for the validity of supply-side economics. Being a believer in the various macroeconomic principles upon which that economic theory relies, I can provide a few links.

A theoretical/practical analysis by Arthur Laffer himself, a Heritage piece on the benefit of tax cuts on business investment, this from AEI, this piece by Jude Wanniski, this by Mark Skousen, and an entire page of links from Heritage. Enjoy.

I would counsel, however, that every time this policy is tried, it has done the exact same thing. It has released financial burdens on the private sector, which in turn spurred economic activity and growth. That creates jobs and greater wealth at all socio-economic levels. So, while folks end up paying significantly higher taxes in terms of dollars, they never feel it, as they are bringing in way more than they ever could under a higher tax scheme. It's a simple theory, and it's been shown to work.

And while Kudow, Hinderaker and Johnson are not fans of elevated taxes, the claim by the reader that the referenced authors favor an elimination of taxation is a bit outlandish to say the least. Under the Articles of Confederation, the government had no taxing power. It therefore could do nothing. Every reasonable individual recognizes that taxes are a necessary evil. The question remains where necessary ends and evil begins.

As far as the request for a discussion about other forces on the economy, I don't see it being productive, as such a thing would miss the forest for the trees. It could likely go on forever without addressing the major point ,which is that supply side theory works. Economics is loaded with assumptions, and I am not an economist. But I believe in supply side economics in the same way that I believe in gravity. I've seen them both work.

And to be fair to the Keynesians, or demand-side theorists--most of academia and the left love them, despite the fact that these theories have been disproved. Keynesian theory believes that if you pump cash to the poor, that they will spend it and get the economy going. It's a great idea, but it doesn't work. FDR tried it before World War II, and for a very brief time it did work, but the economy crumbled again just before the war because a regime of handouts cannot long last. It is a false propping of the economy by the state, not a self-sustaining process.

Of course, the economy rebounded during the war, but that's because businesses had money from government defense contracts, requiring workers to labor for the war effort. But government involvement in that economy was as a participant, not a subsidizer.

Avoid the urge to stick it to the rich with higher taxes, because the presidents who have put the greatest tax burden on the rich in terms of dollars paid were JFK/LBJ, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. The job creators pay more as they make more.

Addendum II

Ok, time for a few responses. The first three paragraphs of JWB's response are right on, but I can't get past the idea that he thinks the Republicans are pointlessly cutting taxes with a goal of eliminating them. The government can't run on rhetoric alone. It's not about eliminating them, it's about cutting them to the point that the government maximizes revenue without choking off the economy that forms the tax base. A simple look at the Laffer curve indicates that elimination of taxation is not a consideration. Rather it is a means of managing the burden the government places on the private sector so that it does not hamper growth.

Granted, other forces may act on an economy, but it is a bit unrealistic to argue that in the mid-sixties, eighties, and now, that random market forces caused the sustained economic booms that were witnessed each time supply-side economics were implemented. It's just too coincidental.
But if we are to speak of other market forces, this decade provides a perfect example of the positive effects of supply side economics. In late 2000, we began a recession. Then we were attacked by terrorists on our home turf, in the financial and political centers of the nation. The markets were full of anxiety bordering on panic. It was a time for people to buy gold and huddle away in a mountain bunker. Energy prices were and remain quite high. Housing prices continued to climb.

Almost every factor worked against a strong economy, yet those who create jobs had the cash to continue hiring, to the point that the unemployment rate, denounced by Democrats in 2004 as being astronomical, was equal or below that of Bill Clinton's best rate. We are currently hovering near the rate of full employment. Most economists agree that there will always be around 5% of the total workforce which is at any time unemployed.

The only significant factor working in favor of the economy was a lower across the board rate of taxation. Yes, interest rates were low in order to encourage borrowing, but one must have the income to service their debt. They don't get loans otherwise. Those are real indicators of the financial health of consumers and their belief about their future employment prospects. There is an abundance of employment and good wages.

As far as regressiveness goes, I'm pointing out that people are paying more in terms of percentages the higher their incomes. Certainly they can afford it, but should that be the measurement? And I think that was Powerline's point. The counter question is whether it is fair to burden certain individuals more than others simply because they can afford it. Should we resort to a flat tax as advocated by Steve Forbes? One that exempts the low income earners, and which eliminates the patchwork of loopholes in the already incomprehensible tax code? Maybe. There is no right answer.

But as an attorney who has seen the unbelievable nightmare that is the Internal Revenue Code, something needs to change, which is why I support a complete abrogation and simplification of the tax code.

And that leaves us with the Keynesians. Check Kudlow's article. As spending continues to slow, as it is projected to do, the combination of a tight rein on taxes, and a GDP growing at faster than the adjusted 3.3 percent projection we have now (which it seems to be doing), the budget will fall into balance within about 5 years. This is classic supply side.

Now, the articles offered by JWB are excellent to make his point, but there is one fatal flaw. Remember what I said about the FDR recovery & Keynesian theory. It DID work for a time, but it imploded into a brand new depression when the priming of the pump could not be sustained. It is not real economic improvement, but rather a subsidy. Once spent, it's gone, and it does little for durable goods, which really makes the economy run. The tax rebate was indeed Keynesian, but it was not done in a vacuum, and it was only done as a one time deal. The pressure from above was exerted in the form of a reduction in tax rates on the job creators. Keynes is not self-sustaining. Only when the economic needs of World War Two were being addressed did the economy become self-sustaining. The people above needed to hire, the people below took jobs and received money. They spent it on all sorts of things, knowing that a new check was coming. We recovered.

So, economic theory is not perfect, but supply-side theory remains about managing tax rates not eliminating them. It's also about recognizing that the government exists for the benefit of the market, not the reverse.

Thanks for the debate.

Piracy

Anyone surprised by this? Predictable, typical, and inexcusable.

Dean Done Deal--Democrats' Death

Part of me is gleeful at the fact that Howard Dean, the Boca of Burlington, will be the next DNC chair. Of course, part of me is also quite despondent, because one of the best things about the Democrats, at least the Dems of the Humphrey/Scoop Jackson variety, was that they could really give the Republicans a good run for their money. They kept the opposition sharp. And competition is a very, very good thing in that regard.

Barring some unforeseen twist of fate, when Howard Dean ascends to the chair, he will seal the fate of the Democrats well beyond his tenure as chairman.

Everyone who knows that the sun comes up knows that parties don't function without cash and lots of it. Terry McAuliffe knows it. He leaves the party in a very good financial position from where it was in 2000. He could raise funds like few chairmen of the past. As I noted here, Dean could work a real reversal of Terry McAuliffe's financial successes. Without money, the party's engine won't turn over. As many have noted, the internet campaign did very well for Dean. But that was for Dean as an individual candidate. He now has to raise money for a party, and he does not have the same boardroom connections that McAuliffe had and used. In fact, it seems that corporate checkbooks are closing all over America because they see Dean as an inherently divisive character who offers donors little reason to believe that the party will listen to their concerns or that their money will be well spent to the party's development.

Dean also threatens to expurgate moderates because he brings no attractive message. Higher taxes, abortion elevated to a sacrament, gay marriage, irreligion, resigning our sovereignty to the U.N., apologizing for being America, kowtowing to dictators, ignoring the war on terror (or considering it won and done when Osama bin Laden is caught), and beating our swords into plowshares are not ideas that attract the moderate voters who decide elections. Terry McAuliffe did a nice job in warding off sensible folks from the Democratic party, feeding into the left wing cesspool of ideas in 2002 and 2004. It harmed the party in no small way, reducing its presence in the House and Senate and making Bush's reelection more sure.

Dean is no strategist. He is known for blustering his way into headlines by making intemperate remarks which undercut whatever accomplishments he has made up to that point. The party's best strategists are known for, more than anything, being able to quietly operate the party's message and thereby its candidates into a favorable position. "Quiet" is not a term known to Dean, nor to his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe who, also a clown, will go down as one of the worst chairmen from a strategic/message point of view.

By electing Dean, the Democrats are in effect shooing away moderates who are looking for a reason to remain with the party. Without saying so, of course, it will be very clear that his constituents are the Left Coast, university professors, the editorial staff of the New York Times et al, and the U.N. Which speaks volumes about where the party wants to head. Rich limousine liberals. The elite. The glitterati. The "washed". The blame America first crowd. To a very significant degree, the party has become more of a limited interest group made up of the 1960s protest crowd than a national party that welcomes common folk with more moderate ideas.

The Democrats have survived rough times since 1970 largely intact, but this time could be very different. There is a very real perception among voters that the people speaking for the party and most likely to seek and win its nomination are not serious about national security, Social Security, morality, and people's ownership of their own incomes. The sixties never ended for the leaders of this party and its lessons remain unlearned. Despite a solid record of failures for their socialist ideals, they arrogantly continue to advocate them.

So take a good look at the party as it is now. It might look very different four years from now. And the Democrats will have only themselves and Chairman Dean to blame.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Budget This!

And so again, we welcome the pouring of the slop into the trough for the Washington bigwigs to fight over who gets what. Yes folks, it's the budget season.

And I'll make a prediction: unless the president fights his Republican brethren on pork barrel spending, no real progress will ever be made on the deficit.

Sen. Tom Coburn (and former Rep.), has his head on squarely. He sends no pork home. And while in the House, he kept getting reelected, until he decided to keep a promise to limit his term. Hard to reelect a guy who doesn't run. Conversely, former Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle threw tons of money at South Dakota. It didn't save him last year.

It's not about the money. I'd rather keep my own money than have it thrown back at me in the form of a road project. I'd rather see a very regular very slight surplus with well-defended borders and Social Security in a stable financial position than the purposeless funding of a predictable set of dubious projects that puts us in the red every year just so 535 people can keep their D.C. jobs.

Because that's what pork-barrel spending is about. The redistribution of wealth. Every Republican should fear the very idea of it. But they've instead embraced it. They were hired to budget our money wisely, among other things. Instead, they have shown that they can blow cash just as well as their Democrat predecessors ever could.

It doesn't help them get elected. But it sure could be the thing that gets them kicked out.

Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, and Kermit the Frog in Running for 2008 Democratic Nomination

Democrats are having problems with the vision thing. which seems to be caused by their preoccupation with the "hate thing". When all they offer to do is undo Bush because they hate him the message really doesn't carry. So, outgoing DNC chairman, Terry McAuliffe offers a vision, as it were, for packaging a presidential candidate for 2008 in this U.S. News article. The most revealing part is this:

Since the Democrats lack a clear leader and a clear path to the future, McAuliffe believes the party must fill the gap. "The next chair of the party has to begin to do message testing, message development in all 50 states. We need to start today," McAuliffe says. "We can't wait for a nominee in April of 2008 to say, 'OK, what's our message?' We don't have to wait for the nominee. By April 2008, we will know exactly what we have to do in order to win the presidential election."But what if the nominee disagrees with the DNC-tested message? McAuliffe thinks that is unlikely to happen, because the nominee is going to want to win. "If we have done our job for four years of this testing and the polling and doing what we need to do, you're going to have a very good idea of what works and what doesn't," he says. [emphasis mine]

If I read this correctly, and I have, they are already testing the message. So they either know who the nominee will be four years in advance, or more likely, the individual candidate is irrelevant. They need no candidate with a set of values, just a pretty face to download focus-grouped values and then run on them. Even better, his quote implies that, as it is, after clinching the nomination the candidate regularly turns to the DNC for his message.

Color me naive, but the idea of the candidate bringing his or her own personal set of values to the table is still the way it ought to be. Because if the candidate campaigns on a set of generally favored but politically risky policies (like tax reform, social security reform, the war on terror/war on terror-supporting regimes, etc), it is unlikely that he will take the bold steps required to make such visions realities unless he is personally committed to the ideas behind them.

It takes a certain measure of backbone to be a good president, and one must understand that the Europeans, Katie Couric, and Hollywood will likely despise you while you make history, but you must believe and persevere in order to move forward. And only the really brave and scary choices are the ones that change history.

In the 1990s we dealt with a president who said what he needed to say to remain in power. Even his vacation spots were poll-decided. The result was very little good for America, except what was popular at the time. Lack of conviction leaves you with lack of action. We know what a focus-grouped presidency looks like. We're cleaning up after it even today.

Pelosi, scary right-winger

If you ever wondered who it is who is supporting Howard Dean for DNC chair, check this Drudge item out. Pelosi as a conservative. The fact that she is touting "liberal credentials" should clue everyone in to the atmosphere of her district. More disturbing is the fact that an alternative newspaper--you know, the kind that are no-charge, as nobody would really buy them anyway--is being given real attention in this regard.

Only in the San Franciso Bay area.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Mean People

Here's a story of no good deed going unpunished. A couple of young girls, finishing chores and avoiding the party scene, decided to bake cookies to do neighbors a good turn, and they did. Except one old bat who was scared by the late night visit to spread cheer. She felt bad the next day and went to the hospital, suing for her hospital bills, pain & suffering and punitive damages. And she won. She only got her bills at $900.

The girls did a good thing. The old lady wanted to punish them for it. She said that they should not have been out that night because something bad might happen to the young girls. Yeah, like getting sued by an oversensitive mean crab.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Martinez Is In, But This Is Wrong

I've been blogging quite a bit on what I perceive to be a pattern of mistreatment of conservatives who are ethnic minorities. So I see this, and while I'm glad the guy is in, and he took more votes than John Ashcroft (presumably because there were no morons like Jean Carnahan to cast a "no" vote for some whacked out reason), a man with his qualifications should have been treated with much more respect.

In any case, he is now well-positioned to be an excellent Attorney General, and potentially a Supreme Court Justice.

But the left in the Senate hates the very idea of the man. Like Condi Rice, he is a minority who is an American success story sans the Democrats. He didn't need them, doesn't need them, and will never need them. And that just infuriates the left. Minorities ought to be Democrats, ought to reliably vote for Democrats and ought to keep their mouths shut otherwise.

Democrats know only too well that the loss of the white swing voter was devastating. The loss of minority votes is death. So in order to enforce obedience, white liberals ruthlessly pound on conservative minorities who step out of line.

They're finding it to be a losing proposition. Because nobody likes to be told to toe the line the way members of their ethnic group do. Last I checked, we called that racism.

What Else Is New?

In a stunning revelation, the UN Oil-For-Food investigation issued a report which stated that the man who ran it seriously undermined the integrity of the UN. Not wanting to be too difficult here, but doesn't one have to have the thing before it is "seriously undermined"? Just asking.

Drunk Off of His You-Know-What

I've heard of funnelling, but this is completely unbelievable.

My question is this...why bother with sherry? Not like he's going to taste it, right?

Fantasy SOTU

There are many things I would have liked to have heard in the Address last night, and I did hear most of them. But one thing I was sure I would never hear--and of course didn't--was a standard of conduct directive from the president, putting all legislators on notice of what behavior will be tolerable as we tackle Social Security reform, and what will leave you out in the cold. Here's what I hoped he would have said:

Applause

When I came to Washington four years ago, I promised that I would work to create cooperation and comity between the parties in Washington. There are a number of individuals from both sides of the aisle who have been willing to put aside partisanship and do real work, and to those individuals, I extend my greatest thanks and I commend you before the American people. You are truly fulfilling your oaths to work towards what is best for America, and not necessarily what will keep interest groups happy.

But there is only so much I can do to work with individuals who do not wish to cooperate. I am willing to work in good faith to reach agreements that are in the best interests of the American people, but I cannot cross the party divide by myself, nor should it be expected that one side concede all of its principles only to win token cooperation of certain partisans, only so that a program can be called "bipartisan".

And so my message to the Congress is this: we owe a duty to the American people to civilly and diligently pursue the business they have elected us to do. I fully expect that there will be genuine disagreements with certain proposals offered, and I understand that there will be some, who for one reason or another will not support part or all of what is proposed. After all, that is how our government works. However, I will also expect that each and every Member of Congress and the Senate who endeavors to be part of this effort will work towards a solution that genuinely benefits the American people, as opposed to certain special interest groups who are determined to shackle us to the current failing status quo of this program.

And it needs to be understood that bipartisan cooperation requires truthful and civil discourse rather than sensationalized statements by certain individuals who are not getting everything they want in negotiations. This hard work requires that legislators deal with one another in a fair, trustworthy and polite way.

So I challenge certain members who are already opposed to reform: Spare the American people the scare tactics, spare them the false statements in the media, spare the personal attacks, and take a stand for progress, not what is safe in the ballot box. Because we were not elected to make easy decisions to keep our offices, but hard ones which at the time may not seem popular, but which will ultimately benefit Americans. If you disagree, feel free to air your disagreements, as it adds to the discourse that makes this nation great.

But Americans have grown tired of petty partisanship, and of a culture in Washington where wild accusations can fly, and defense of one's self is referred to as an "attack." They've grown tired of inertia to please special interests, and they've grown tired of public exaggerations and demagougery.

These things are not a legitimate part of public discussion, and will no longer be tolerated. Therefore, if you choose the path of the politics of obstruction, it will be a sign to the rest of us and to voters at home that you are not part of the solution, but rather part of the problem which erodes their faith in our system...

Doubtful he'd ever say that, but it would get plenty of attention.

SOTU - Pitch Perfect & A Perfect Pitch

There is only one word for last night's State of the Union speech--stunning.

Bush did things in reverse, by putting foreign policy last which is likely why the speech will go down as a smashing success.

On the domestic side, the Social Security plan was more of an invitation to get work done. Bush didn't just touch the third rail, he danced across it. He outlined a number of proposals, indicating that everything is on the table and that the Congress needs to work to formulate a plan that works, not one that works for the individual legislators and their pet donors. This will be a mess, and I fear that in an effort to keep Democrats and some Republicans happy, we will end up with a bill that is loaded with bells and whistles, but no tires. Bush's decision to take the proposal to the people is wise, as they can keep the heat on the people in Washington to get a real job done.

I was not surprised by the Democrats' booing of Bush's personal account proposal. It's perfectly consistent with the tone which they are keeping nowadays. And it's not a completely foreign thing to the State of the Union, as I recall many a Republican booing Bill Clinton's State of the Unions when Health Care was the main issue. Bush will meet resistance, but the point was made that by 2018, the system will be in serious trouble. Whether AARP and union campaign donations have blinded them to that fact will remain to be seen.

Of course, we heard of tort reform, etc., but I somehow doubt that Bush will spend his capital on tort reform when he can whack social security once and for all.

Of note, Bush is taking an interest in reforming the tax code. I'm taking bets as to whether we will see that at all. Granted, he has studies going on as to how to streamline the code, but I'll believe it when I see it.

And then there was foreign policy. Bush lauded the success we have seen in Iraq, and pointed his finger at Iran, while offering a hand to the people of that nation. But the real Maalox Moment was reserved for Syria. Bush expects changes. The Assads are on notice. Bashar Assad may want to be reminded that the U.S. has bases in Iraq now. And Israel will certainly not be adverse to kicking a little of their renegade neighbor's tail. It's pretty clear that Bush feels he has nothing to lose in breaking up rogue nations. Assad has everything to fear. He can either pull a Musharaf/Khadafi and save himself for the time being, or a Saddam, and be plucked out of Damascus. His call.

But it seems that the fingers being pointed at Iran and Syria are stained blue. Note the lovely young Iraqi lady, Safia Taleb al-Souhail, who was seated with Laura Bush who is a human rights advocate, whose father was murdered by Saddam, her finger still bearing a slight blue tinge. For her, the battle for civil freedom is joined, made possible by the woman seated behind her. Janet Norwood, the mother of Sgt. Byron Norwood who gave his life to liberate Fallujah, was embraced by the the person her son freed.

And then something truly beautiful happened. They got caught.

Sgt. Norwood's dog tags, in his mother's hands, got tangled in Ms. al-Souhail's jacket buttons. For a moment, they were stuck together. That snafu, while unintended, spoke volumes of the linkage between our two people, and the value of the lives lost in the battle for freedom. Two ladies who never would have known one another, but now eternally linked by a man who gave his life to protect both of them, symbolized the value of freedom and how precious and personal that blessing is. It could not have been planned any better.

And so we move along into what may be a very bold year for the Congress and the President--if they're willing to work.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Watch Super Bowl - Don't go there!

Bill Simmons dumps on Jacksonville pretty heavily. For a city with so-so transportation and no significant sites to see, other than an I-95 on-ramp and a view of the ocean, somebody may wish to think about the criteria by which cities are chosen. Yikes.

I'm giving it to the Eagles. Pats are good, but Philadelphia is just way too consistant with a good defense. T.O. likely won't be much of a factor. He had his surgery up the street from me in Baltimore, but people just don't like running on freshly implanted orthopedic hardware.

Fidel to Eagerly Listening Cubans: We Rock, Everyone Else Sucks

This article about Fidel Castro is pretty funny. You know that this dictator is toast when he finds no friends in the EU.

But the most upsetting part of the article is that it was generated as a result of a five-hour speech by Castro. People had to sit through that...talk about human rights issues!

Bush needs to throw down the gauntlet on Social Security (and everything else)

Brendan Miniter offers a WSJ piece on Bush's social Security plan to be unveiled tonight at the State of the Union address. The short of the article is that Bush needs to work with people who will work with him, essentially ignoring calls for so-called "bipartisan" reform.

The notion of bipartisan reform is actually a disingenuous and fairly selfish proposition the way the Democrats are playing it. Its practical meaning is that Bush has to give the Democrats something in order to get their support for his bill. Understand that this does not mean that the Democrats intend to work with the President on various details to ensure that this is the most effective means of keeping social security solvent. Who are we kidding? They want to deliver for their special interest contributors, regardless of whether their efforts lead to a working plan or not. The ultimate in self dealing.

But Bush will do as he has always done for the big plans of his administration. He will bypass the shills in the Senate and sell his Social Security plan directly to the voters. That is where he needs to start, but this bill will not be successful if Bush allows Democrats to continue to play partisan games with him. They did that for the confirmation hearings, treating distinguished people in completely disgraceful ways and demagouging before the cameras.

Its time that certain Democrats learn that Tom Daschle was bumped off as a head-on-a-pike example to unprincipled obstructionists. And if Bush plays this properly, he will be known as the president who saved social security. But he can't let the Democrats run the show.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Dean Antidote

Howard Dean looks like he has the DNC Chairmanship locked up. But this article from Bob Novak provides justification for the Democrats rejecting him as their leader. Howard Dean promises to turn off the big donors. If he goes into 2008 with little in the party coffers, the Democrats may as well lay it down now. If the Democrats come to their senses, it could indeed spell doom for Dean's candidacy. But they have till February 12 to learn that lesson.

I recall my jubilance over the potential of a Dean victory in Iowa. But Dean overplayed his hand and destroyed himself. The more he keeps his mouth shut from now till next Saturday, the more likely it is that he will win. But I somehow think that Dean will make the one comment too many, and we will sustain another disappointment.

But we can still hope...