Sunday, December 31, 2006

What's the Big Deal?

Saddam Hussein has been executed. Incredibly, a host of human rights and far left liberal groups, blogs and personalities have come out of the woodwork to declare this a disaster, a tragedy, a mistake of epic proportions. His death sentence was handed down on Sunday, November 5th. Where were all the Mother Teresa's then? Where was the campaign to save Saddam two months ago?

For some, the fact of his execution is not cause for lamentation, but simply the "rush" to send him to the gallows ("As war criminals go, Bush wins hands down."). Nevermind that he was tried and convicted in a legal system which afforded him rights that he never allowed his own subjects. Nevermind that this man was convicted of ordering 148 men and boys to their death in 1982 in the town of Dujail. Nevermind that Saddam routinely awarded cash gifts to Palestinian suicide bombers (And now, they mourn him). Inexplicably worse, Americans seem to be mourning the Dictator's passing. The New York Times reports the "unease and criticism" around the world because Saddam paid the death penalty for his mass-murder. Predictably, anti-death penalty European leaders were somewhat chagrined at the former Iraqi President's untimely demise, citing their conviction that no one should ever be put to death. I don't recall such idealistic zeal during the Nuremberg Trials where 12 Nazi war criminals were put to death.

I am no flaming right-wing nut job. I don't think we should have even gone into Iraq in the first place, because it seems to have proven a distraction from the overall fight against terror. In fact, other than the terrorist threat to America, I would say that I am near totally at odds with right-wing evangelical dogma. Even some middle of the road conservatives scare me with their excessive flag-waving, tax cutting-but still spending antics. But it does not frighten me as much as hearing a fellow American use their American made laptop, through American made high speed Internet cable, by the grace of American freedom of speech, brought to the at the hands of American Democracy via the U.S. Constitution - expend an ounce of breath to come to the aid of a mass-murdering, egotistical, ego maniacal, fascist dictator.

In fact, whether he is in Heaven right now, or reclining on a bed of needles in Hell while the devil rams a large phallis down his throat, Saddam should consider himself lucky. By all accounts, he was treated well as a prisoner in American custody, a luxury he would not have afforded any of his victims. When he decided that a particular day in court would not fit his schedule, he was not dragged kicking and screaming by the heels, but allowed to remain in his cell.

So let's not try to rationalize Saddam's rule, as Christopher Dickey does in his Newsweek piece, "Death of a Tyrant." Dickey goes so far as to call Hussein's death "ignominious." Apparently, the jolly old chap deserved far better. Was he served a last meal? Did they allow him one last phone call? Couldn't we have arranged to send 72 virgins to his cell prior to the main event? Christ, in a perfect world, the prick would have been stoned to death by the multitude of his son's rape victims.

The stoic and implacable Fareed Zakaria sums up "The saga of Saddam's end..." as "a sad metaphor for America's occupation of Iraq." Why not ask the immigrant communities of Iraqi Chaldeans if they are sad for Saddam? "It was long overdue," said Iraqi native Sami Jihad, 72, a Chaldean Catholic reports the North County Times. In fact, so many Chaldeans were oppressed by Saddam, that there are virtually none left in Iraq, they've nearly all immigrated to the U.S., particularly Michigan.

The overly brainy leftish intellectuals, pundits and Human Rights sycophants need to chill out with their Saddam-remorse-rhetoric. His comparatively humane death on Saturday at the hands of his countrymen, as a result of his trial, should not be lamented, nor should it be rejoiced. Justice was done. We should be content.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dumb and Dumber

What is wrong with these people? I don't mean the Marines now being investigated for Murder... I'm talking about the press. Journalistic malfeasance just doesn't get much worse than this. Three major news websites - The New York Times, Fox News, and CNN show conflicting reports on the number of Marines in question. So please tell me, what's the story? Marines gone berserk, or the Mainstream Media gone totally bonkers, and this time just flagrantly getting it wrong all at the same time?
Even more disturbing, if you had visited last night, you would have read that 24 Marines were arrested. Later in the evening, the Times cut the number to 8 Marines, and now the number sits at 4 (well, for the NY Times it sits at 4... for now).

It's only a matter of time before the New York Times, CNN, and FOX trigger an International incident due to faulty reporting. Media outrage at the Danish Mohamed cartoons has already vindicated the easily offended Muslim community, who seem to have somehow become the protectors of political correctness.
We should all ask ourselves... if the biggest players in the media, with the most money behind their organizations can't get the simple facts right, what hope do they have of hitting the mark when it really counts?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Send in the Clowns, Part II: Giuliani

Giuliani for President... the phrase has been whispered about for years now, well before the current round of press coverage for potential 2008 candidates. It's been talked about before the Draft Rudy Giuliani for President website was established in 2005. Giuliani's Presidential aspirations have been talked about well before this past March when Newsweek did a piece about Giuliani's "revival-style" speeches to pastors. Recall the CBS News headline of December, 2004: "Early Signs Point to Giuliani '08" by Hugh Hewitt. To nip any chance of a Giuliani run in the bud, The Giuliani Time documentary earlier this year sought to quickly diffuse any possibility of his candidacy... it was unsuccessful.

What I love most right now are all the polls... Giuliani vs. Hillary, Giuliani vs. McCain, Giuliani vs. Obama. Why is the press conducting these polls two years ahead of time? There is not a poll in existence that can be trusted to accurately portray a political outcome two years in advance. The only explanation might be the desire on the part of the press to do two things:

1) Fill up what would otherwise be dead airtime as a result of the 24/7 news cycle.


2) Hope to influence the electorate in some way by implicitly showing that Giuliani must be the strongest candidate since he has such high approval ratings.

"America's Mayor," Giuliani was forced into a position that, of course, he did not ask for. In his final months of office, Rudy Giuliani spent his time attending funerals, showing strength, courage and conviction while running the country's largest city. Certainly, he pulled the feat off well. But unlike President Bush, Giuliani had the good fortune and common sense to exit political office and remain behind the scenes, creating a security firm and making bundles of cash. No longer an elected official, Giuliani avoided political gaffes, didn't have to take a stand on many issues, and could sit back and observe as the events after September 11th unfolded in Afghanistan and Iraq. No matter what mistakes the President made, Giuliani basked in warm political sunshine with impunity.

Without taking too much credit away from the former Mayor, he is in a position today to run for the highest office largely due to luck, albeit, not the kind of luck that most people would wish for. If his prostate cancer did not cause him to drop out of the Senate race against Hillary Clinton, he may have won the late Senator Moynihan's seat and been further removed from the events of September 11th in New York City. Or had he more time in office as mayor post-9/11, Giuliani may have displayed a heavy-handedness, or willful disregard of civil liberties in a post-9/11 New York City to foment anger among the Left as well as civil libertarians. Any of these outcomes would have stripped away is halo and diminished his stature.

Yet, Giuliani escaped the microscope, became Time's "Person of the Year" and is now on track to secure a spot on the Presidential ticket, or possibly a cabinet appointment.

Giuliani is not your average politician. He holds liberal views on many social issues, "Giuliani is a Roman Catholic who is pro-choice, favors same-sex civil unions, gun control, and embryonic stem-cell research," yet he is very conservative when it comes to crime, and his hawkish foreign policy stances might be best explained by recalling his ouster of Yasser Arafat from Lincoln Center in 1995.

The former mayor will have no easy road ahead of him, however. He has a long history in public life, one that may come back to haunt him. He's been married three times (which won't appeal to many conservative soccer mom's) and he has at times associated with folks whose reputation is less than clean (Bernard Kerik).

Perhaps Giuliani's biggest problem will be John McCain, the media darling and other front-runner (at the moment) for the nomination. We would all do well to remember that the election is still two years away, and two years can be an eternity for a political candidate. Giuliani will need to watch his step until then, dodge some issues (abortion) and take a harder line on others (gay marriage).

Is Rudy Giuliani the best candidate for the country? Who knows? They're all clowns. But what was it Winston Churchill said [to paraphrase] ... Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others..."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Send in the Clowns, Part I: Hillary Clinton

The war in Iraq is raging, Iran is bubbling, Palestine is splintering from within, budgets are busting, deficits are bursting, Beauty Queens are misbehaving and Presidential hopefuls are dancing... around their decision - or, indecision, to run for the highest office in the land. The press, of course, has been flush with speculation. Not a day goes by without at least one major newspaper running a story on "Senator Barack Obama did this" or "Rudy Guiliani went here" or "John Kerry still hasn't removed his foot from his so-and-so".

The trend of rampant speculation, interviews, Bio's, expert opinion and more, should not be surprising, because - after all, the 2008 Presidential election is a pretty big deal, and given the 24/7 nature of news in this day and age, there is plenty of time to scrutinize and analyze and fantasize about any and every potential, theoretical and hypothetical detail. Do I sound too much like the late Johnny Cochran? My bad.

Onward and upward... it is titillating for political junkies and journalists to speculate about the potential field of candidates. After all, this is the most wide open race since... Carter? Nixon? Ever? The President cannot run again, and the Vice President (almost) certainly will not. The previous Democratic challenger (Kerry) will (hopefully) not run, given his previous failure and repeated gaffes. Further, there is no dearth of candidates on either side of the aisle. A glance at the Democrats alone reveals: Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Vilsack, (Richardson?), (Gore?)... any of which can make the ticket, regardless of the polls. Everyone thought Dean had the nomination in hand... until the first primary.

I will attempt to break down each candidate's chances based on what I have seen so far. Let's start with a Democrat.

To quote Borat: "Wa-wa-wee-wa"
Senator Clinton's HillPac, has millions of dollars on hand. So far this year, it's spent $2,823,249 on Democratic candidates all over the country. This money buys her a lot of power, a lot of fans, and a lot of loyalty. Hundreds of candidates have been on the receiving end of her generosity, and will thus be that much more inclined to back her candidacy. Senator Clinton also has huge name recognition, something money alone can't buy. She has hordes of fans who follow her everywhere she goes. On the flip side, Hillary Clinton is also one of the most polarizing figures in politics. Although the blame cannot be laid entirely at her doorstep, there are as many Hillary-Haters as there are Hillary-Lovers.

Bill Clinton's graceless final term tarnished her reputation and credibility. Certainly, her resume was good enough to get her elected to the Senate in New York, but is she electable in a purple state, where the lines between Democrats and Republicans aren't as clearly drawn? Her tenure in the Senate has been marked by relatively centrist positions on the issues. She continues to push health care initiatives, but she also voted to go to war in Iraq, a weakness her opponents will definitely expose.

Finally, will the electorate trade one political dynasty for another? Is the country ready for Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton? The people may have had enough with the political elite. Americans went to the polls this past mid-term election and voted for change, it is uncertain if they will feel that another Washington insider, who has already lived in the White House, will bring that kind of change.
Senator Clinton still has two years before the fate of her Presidential aspirations is decided. It's certainly too early to predict what will happen. However, there is no question that she is currently the front-runner and most formidable candidate of the Democratic field. Ironically, as is often the case, Hillary's success may depend on events beyond her control; Iraq, the Economy, or any number of variables.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Bush Doctrine, Part Deux

The Iraq Study Group has recently published its recommendations to President Bush detailing how it thinks complete and total disaster may be averted in Iraq. Among its suggestions, the ISG advises the U.S. talk to Syria and Iran order to persuade them to cut down on illegal arms shipments and to stop plaing cross-border musical chairs with terrorists. Generally, the ISG wants to see the U.S. move toward more consensus building.

I am not opposed to the U.S. "talking" to Syria or Iran, per se. That is, simply talking will not hurt anyone. After all, we did open up to the Soviet Union and China, as James Baker pointed out (despite Condoleeza Rice's weak attempts to cast it in a different light). We are now friendly with Vietnam, and in fact proceeding to normalize trade relations with that country.

The U.S. policy of containment was uninterrupted while we sat at the table (or debated) with the Soviets during the 1960's, 70's, 80's and 90's; we kept building our arsenal and working to bolster Democratic Europe.

There are two important distinctions, however. First, Syria and Iran (even combined) are no Soviet Union. Second, they are nowhere near to our equals in terms of global hegemony. These are two points Ms. Rice might have made more clear (if I may be so bold).

So from the beginning, we must ask ourselves: "Is it worth sitting at the negotiating table with a far lesser power?" The question must be asked because power is wielded through perception as much as through military might. The U.S. should think long and hard before granting Syria or Iran the stature its neighbors would surely envy and respect if we agreed to sit at the table with them. In fact, it might send precisely the wrong message to the region. Mullahs, Clerics, Kings and Radical elements will think "If I raise a big stink, finance terrorists and build nukes, I will force the Americans to negotiate with me and wrestle great concessions from them, praise Allah, Jihad, Jihad."

So I have my own recommendation. This may silence the calls to speak with Syrian and Iran, perhaps even discourage them to come to the table with us. Furthermore, if followed, this may even embolden fringe reformists and moderates withing these countries out of sheer terror.

Let's call it the Bush Doctrine, Part Deux, because only a President could make such a bold statement, and frankly, he's not up for re-election, so why not have some fun?

I. Terrorism
A. The United States declares all Islamo-Fascist Terrorists its enemy
B. The United States will stop at nothing to stamp out Islamo-Fascist Terrorism
C. The United States considers nations harboring Terrorists as guilty as the Terrorists themselves
D. The United States will not be deterred by other nation's perception of sovereignty while combating Terrorism
E. The United States is not above sending Special Operations Teams to any country in order to surgically removed Terrorist elements
F. The United States has the capability to shut down sea, air and commerce, which can and will result in devastating economic loss.
G. The United States thinks it is funny that you consider your own fellow Muslims, from a different religious sect, to be 'worse' than us. You self-loathing pricks.

II. Nuclear Weaponry
A. The United States is in possession of many thousands of nuclear warheads, more than enough to annihilate any Terrorist state.
B. The United States will not tolerate the proliferation of Nuclear Arms or technology to any Islamo-Fascist Terrorist Group or Regime.
C. In the event that a nuclear bomb were to explode within United States territory, the United States would immediately assume that Iran and/or North Korea have supplied such weaponry. The aforementioned countries would thus be on the receiving end of an air bombardment of startling proportions, indiscriminate in its scope, save that the payloads reach targets within the border of the aforementioned countries.
D. If the scenario described above took place, terrorists slash Islamo-Fascists worldwide will be comforted to know that their fellow countrymen will also be forced to emigrate from the United States back to their homeland. There they may bask with their comrades and catch some radioactive rays while reading the Koran in the afterglow from the nuclear holocaust-ridden Caliphate.

III. Israel
A. One of the few nations in the Middle East to display discipline, Democratic values and a love of life, any attack on Israel is considered an attack on the United States
B. Terrorists are advised that their time would be better spent studying... to be anything but a Terrorist, rather than searching for Zionist scapegoats.
C. Palestinians should distance themselves from Terrorism, Terrorists, and mainstream Terrorist causes. This will only hinder their struggle for nationhood.
D. Islamic fanatics should keep denying the Holocaust, it's actually great for our side because then your side sounds even more insane, your side loses credibility, your side becomes the bigger laughing stock, your side loses allies, and your side turns more of our Doves into Hawks. Keep up the good work!
E. You can also keep David Duke.

IV. Miscellaneous
A. We beat Left-Wing Dictators, so we will beat Islamic Fascist Terrorism
B. We beat Right-Wing Fascists, so we will beat Islamic Fascist Terrorism
C. We beat the Great Depression, so we will beat Islamic Fascist Terrorism
D. We have a lot more money than you have, so we will beat Islamic Fascist Terrorism
E. We have to be Politically Correct in this day and age, even though you do not. Do not mistake our diplomatic words with ambivalence or pacifism.
F. We have to abide by International Law, even though you do not. Do not make the mistake of thinking that we won't do what it takes if the fate of our country is on the line.
G. We have begun weaning ourselves from fossil fuels, and in the future, that process will accelerate. The United States is rich in labor, innovation and ingenuity, we have survived thus far without sufficient domestic supplies of energy, but we are beginning to generate more and more of our own energy. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of Muslim nations, whose people subsist in near-feudal societies, and are given hand-outs from the State (thanks to windfall oil revenue) on a level not seen in the West since the Roman Empire two thousand years ago.

President Bush will not make this speech, nor will he outline these clauses. However, fanatical Muslim leaders and Terrorists would do well to know that although we have not said it, there would be no hesitation to reciprocate with extreme prejudice if another 9/11 occurred, especially involving Nuclear or Biological weapons.

I'd say it would send Iran and North Korea back to the Stone Age, but they're not too far from it right now, especially in their way of thinking.

As usual, slippery Pete, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has stirred up controversy with his renewed calls to wipe Israel out, and repeated denials that millions of Jews were slaughtered during World War II (despite the evidence, and despite that the German perpetrators of these crimes vigorously affirm the atrocities occurred).

Slippery Pete Ahmadinejad is generating buzz in the short term among the utmost fringe elements of 'Academia' - outcasts and neurotic douche bags. In the long term, he is damaging his country, costing its citizens much needed credibility in the world, and causing the West, the United States in particular, to redouble its efforts to sideline this Muslim country that otherwise could have quite a bit of potential if it had better leadership.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Stop Chewing the Fat

Andrew Roth of the Club for Growth highlights the efforts of Republican Senators Coburn and Demint in trying to limit pork barrel spending during these final days of the Congressional term. I'll give them points for effort, but let's face it... too little, too late.

Where were they six years ago?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What's good for the Spitzer is good for the gander...

Eliot Spitzer today announced sweeping ethical changes once his administration takes office next year.

He will impose a ban on executive employees receiving gifts other than coffee or t-shirts.

He will prohibt former executive branch employees from lobbying the executive branch.

He will not appear in any state-funded commercials.

He will not participate in fund-raisers in the Albany area while the legislature is in session.

He will limit contributions to $10,000, down from $50,000.


And what was Senate Republican Majority leader Joseph Bruno's retort? It is "nonsense" to think lobbyists are buying influence with legislators by contributing to their fund-raisers.

Jim Traficant (D-OH)
Randy Duke Cunningham (R-CA)
Jack Abramoff? (Lobbyist)
Bob Ney (R-OH)
Tom Delay (R-TX)
William Jefferson (D-LA)
Tammany Hall
New York Highest court Chief Judge Sol Wachtler

Perhaps Spitzer is a political opportunist, perhaps he cleaned up wall street in order to make a name for himself and win the Governorship, perhaps he's implementing wide-ranging ethical reform in Albany to advance his career and aspirations for national office.


But if the public will benefit from his self-indulgence, what's the problem?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"The Devil is and always has been a gentleman"

This quote by Diane LaVey, given today's letter from Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seems apropos.

"Give the devil his due" by Cervantes also comes to mind.

"Ahmadinejad to Americans: Stop 'blind support' for Israel" Where does this guy get off? He can "blindly support" Hamas, Hezbollah, Shiite militias, and any other radical Islamic faction that he pleases, but the United States should back off from defending the only stable, Democratic country in the region [Israel]?

Israel is a country that could easily wipe all its neighbors off the map if it chose to... the exact fate Iran's President has been calling for of Israel itself. He should be careful what he wishes for.

But let's return to Ahmadinejad's defense of Palestinian's right of return to their homes in Israel. There is no doubt Palestinians have had a difficult time since the creation of Israel after World War II. Their plight became even worse after the 1967 (3rd Arab-Israeli War) and 1973 (4th Arab-Israeli War), in which the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula were lost in defeat after crushing defeat at the hands of Israel. The Palestinians took up arms with Egypt, Syria and Jordan against Israel and lost. All's fair in love and war, time to move on.

It should be noted that Isreal acted pre-emptively in 1967 in anticipation of an imminent strike from its surrounding neighbors, led by Nasser. It should also be noted that the Palestinians were stateless prior to the creation of Israel; citizens of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt, if they were citizens at all.

So here we are, 35+ years later, and the President of Iran continues to call for a right of return of the Palestinians to the homes they lost when they took up arms and were defeated. I say give them their land back. On one condition. The 200,000 Greeks that were forced out of Turkey between 1923 and 1955 should also be given their homes back. After all, what's fair is fair.

Let's not waste time debating whether the Greeks would want their land back... they would no doubt be reluctant to return and find themselves inundated among a sea of poor Turks. Nor should we be troubled by the fact that the Greeks have moved on, found new homes, and prospered since the Istanbul Pogrom, where thousands of Greeks were forced to flee for their lives. In stark contrast to the Palestinians, whose lot in life seems be relegated to that of a beggar looking for handouts from wealthy Arab neighbors bankrolling their human suicide missions, the Greeks have turned the other cheek and chosen a better path.

Ahmadenijad is one to talk. In his 5 page "open letter" to the American people, he shakes his head, and his finger, at the United States' wasteful spending on war in Iraq. How much better, he reflects, it would be for us to spend our money at home, instead of on the poor Iraqis. In between his deep breaths, no doubt salivating at the prospect of an Iraq free of U.S. influence, ready for Iran to sweep right in, I can't help but wonder about the Iranian people's own plight. Iran, a country run by firebrand ayatollahs and a senile President, who seems determined to squander every extra penny of the country's oil wealth on a half-baked idea to build a Nuclear bomb, despite the fact that 40% of the country lives below the poverty line, and over 11% are unemployed. Mr. Ahmadenijad has somehow determined that his country's interests would be better served by stockpiling weapons.

If the mullahs, ayatollahs, despots, firebrands, zealots, nationalists and terrorists have learned nothing in the past 100 years of fighting, it is this: They have a losing formula. Poor, unstable, uneducated, ideological, fanatical religious regimes with little to no regard for human life, and a long, unflinching memory for venom, hatred and violence (but not, apparently, schooling, pragmatism, learning and prudent thought or restraint) will never win the day.

They will not win against a strong, united, prosperous and progressive Israel. And they will certainly not win against a strong, prosperous, innovative United States of America, which by the grace of its good will, and mild concern with international cry-babies, allows regimes like Iran to exist.

Don't come over here and lecture us, Mahmoud, clean up your own backyard first. Then maybe you can hang with the big boys.

States of the Union

Janet Novack's article in Forbes this month "Watch the States" should raise a lot of eyebrows among State Legislators, State residents, and those who hold power in Washington.

It seems the States are making up for the current vacuum of useful legislation on the federal level. That the States are taking the initiative is just fine by me. In fact, Governors and State Legislatures should go even further. Voters tend to pay less attention to their local, municipal and state government in deference big ticket issues that are covered nationally by our news media.

However, Americans should consider changing their thinking; all politics is local. It may be easier for large states like California to pave the way with legislation given its size and clout, but this does not mean smaller states should back down from setting precedent.

Take, for example, last year's Supreme Court case on Connecticut's right of eminent domain. Eliot Spitzer, New York State's Governor-elect, rode to office on a wave of disgust after the Enron scandal that he used to clean up Wall Street. California, of course has led the way regarding Greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency. The dearth of federal leadership on these issues and others should be a wake-up call for voters.

The fact is that the federal government will not be able to tackle each issue near and dear to the heart of every state in the union, nor should it. Sometimes, Congress does just the opposite (see Terry Schiavo). Perhaps the most pervasive issues that have been wrongly placed in federal jurisdiction are abortion and gay marriage, among others. The national debate on these issues should not be tabled for their sheer divisiveness, or their lack of real or perceived benefit to the interests of the federal government. Rather, neither issue has any bearing to elected officials in Washington, nor do politicians elected to Congress or the Presidency have a legal right to pass laws in these areas.

The tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." It's high time the federal government took another look at the Constitution and used its legislative power as it was intended, not as an antidote, part of a national party platform, political hot button issue, or shallow campaign promise.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Republicans should be rabid environmentalists

Oil is a wonderful commodity. It powers more than 40% of our country's energy needs, and 99% of our automobiles.

But more than half the oil we use is imported. We don't produce enough oil domestically to run our economy, as we know it today. Although we get a great deal of oil from friendly countries like Kuwait, Argentina, Canada and Colombia, we import vast amounts from Libya (3.5 million barrels per month), Saudi Arabia (46 million barrels per month) and Venezuela (44 million barrels per month).

Unfortunately, the United States has little say over how these countries spend the profits they reap from oil. Our best oil trading partners use the funds for infrastructure, debt or education. The worst oil producing countries squander the money, build up their military, or worse - provide material and financial support for terrorists, supply arms, and provide bomb-making know-how.

Terrorists do not operate in a vacuum. They must be fed, clothed, and equipped with weaponry. Mercenaries are hired to train them. A number of powerful figures give them moral support. Their sponsors; mullahs, sheiks and foreign powers, all have one thing in common: oil money. The same fossil fuel that drives our economy also keeps a steady flow of cash in the hands of our enemies. Each time we pull up to a gas station, pops the fuel tank door and slides the nozzle in, the numbers on the pump inch upward. Money changes hands, the gas station takes its cut, royalties are paid to the corporation, and the employees are paid. Yet, before you even pull into the station, before the gas is shipped there, before the oil is refined - money has been deposited in an offshore bank account belonging to a foreign power that uses its own discretion to spend that money.

By the time you've topped off your tank and driven to work, America's oil purchases have already been busy around the globe.

Oil pays Saudi citizens to stay home and read the Koran, focus on prayer, and attend vitriolic diatribes against the U.S. and the West at the mosque. Unemployed men fester in the streets, they resent the state but misplace their anger towards the United States.

Oil windfall profits provide Iran with access to Nuclear technology and equipment.

Oil alone - this single commodity - has the power to drag our country into recession (again).

Oil props up corrupt regimes.

Oil is inextricably linked to Middle East instability.

Oil keeps the U.S. subservient to foreign powers, impairing our sovereignty.

Oil helps bankroll the global jihadi movement.

I'm now going to attempt to connect two seemingly discordant themes here...

Republicans pride themselves on their national security credentials. They are not afraid to stand up to foreign dictators, they never shy away from boosting Pentagon spending, and (when they're feeling conservative enough) strive to promote American independence from world bodies, and outside influences.

Then why in God's name do conservatives continue to bolster the flag-waving pick-up trucks, why ridicule Global Warming as a myth and simultaneously decry fuel-efficiency standards as un-American? Are they insane?

What makes more sense, losing a few thousand car manufacturing jobs due to stringent fuel efficiency standards and higher costs (if that is true) or spending $300 Billion+ to go to war against an enemy that is funded by our voracious fuel appetite? Are we cutting our nose to spite our face? Are we missing the big picture?

We import more than half of the oil we use from abroad. Let's say a quarter of that oil comes from the middle east. If we cut one quarter of our fuel consumption, as tough as it may be initially, we'd have the terrorists by the balls. Their funds would be seriously reduced, Americans would be healthier, less money would be spent at the pump, and our national security would no longer be compromised by our energy needs.

Where is the negative in this argument?

I am frankly shocked that no Republican has grabbed this as a "National Security" Issue. President Bush would simply have to declare a state of emergency, as we're wont to do during every hurricane season, or whenever a creek overflows upstate. With little argument, his fellow Republicans would get behind him and march in line.

But why won't he do that? I still can't figure it out. If a serious energy-saving policy had been proposed in 2001 after the terrorist attacks, the U.S. could have immediately expanded credits for fuel efficient hybrids, closed the loophole for SUV's, and significantly raised fuel economy across the board. In the days and weeks after September 11th, behind the back drop of shared sacrifice, national defense and energy security, the idea would have been embraced without a problem.

No oil or car industry executive would have had the gall to criticize the plan.

The question of job loss can also be turned on its head. For example, research into alternative fuels and energy will create new jobs. Better still, we can use the opportunity to cultivate our own domestic resources, such as oil shale. This monograph can be found on the RAND Corporation website. It details the history of oil shale (or lack of) cultivation in this country. At conservative estimates, if this domestic fuel could be harvested, we would generate 3 million barrels of oil a day at home, drastically cut our imports, and created thousands of new jobs.

Unfortunately, little action has been taken on these issues, due to a lack of political will and foresight. The single greatest failure of the Bush administration has been a lack vision to tackle this issue. We will be paying for this mistake with every dollar that falls into enemy hands.

We're on a road to nowhere

Anyone who has ever heard the Talking Heads song "Road to Nowhere," might have thought of it when reading yesterday's New York Times article that discussed the upcoming shift in power on the Senate Appropriations committee.

The author was quick to point out that little in the way of spending reform should be expected from the Democratic leaders waiting in the wings to take the reigns. Specifically, outgoing Alaskan Senator Senator Ted "Spendthrift" Stevens is being replaced by his good buddy Daniel "show me the money" Inouye. Neither are apologetic about their fiscal lack of discipline; in fact, just the opposite.

It's more than a shame when $5 Billion corporate tax bills morph into $140 Billion dollar "Monstrosities that include billions for fishing tackle boxes, bows and arrow manufacturers, and a host of other special interest tax breaks." If you asked the average American whether we should spend $200 million dollars in Federal money to build a bridge in Alaska so 200 islanders don't have to take a ferry, they'd put down their Shop Rite Brand pasta, set aside their R/C Cola bottles, tuck in their bellies and smack you in the face.

There are so many sad things about pork barrel spending. For one, billions of dollars in tax-payer money gets wasted. Two, most Congressmen do not even officially own up to earmarks they put submit. Third, and saddest of all - is that if all pork barrel spending ceased, Americans would notice and probably be furious. Roads would not be paved, bridges wouldn't be built, office buildings would not be renovated, and expensive new projects that artificially create jobs would not be bankrolled. The government, much like its citizens, spends more than it has.

Our country is addicted to pork. It's a sordid love affair, really. Just like our long-time dependence on oil, MTV, McDonald's and Hollywood. But the problem with pork barrel spending is that it comes from money that our Federal government collects from our own pockets. This money is not highly scrutinized or evenly distributed across the country.

But there may be a solution to bring fiscal sanity within reach of even the least frugal gatekeepers. We can return fiduciary discipline to Washington by following a few simple steps.

Let's use Alaska's "bridge to nowhere" as an example. No reasonable person on the mainland would think for a moment that they should deny these islanders their right to drive a snow plow, pick-up truck or unicycle through desolate forest and over pristine water onto a smooth sheet of fresh tarmac. I certainly do not begrudge them that right. Rather, I would like to make things simpler for these Alaskanislanders.

Why have the Federal government go to all the trouble of collecting the taxes, counting it up, then doling it out among thousands of pork laden bills? Won't this just delay the construction of your bridge? I have an easier way.

First, the federal government should collect fewer taxes from its citizens. This will put more money in people's pockets, and potentially in State coffers if the States should choose to tax their people more. Once drastically fewer dollars flow into the federal government's purse, Congress will have little to no cash to lavish on Congressmen's pet projects. But the States will have more flexibilty to tax and spend more, or not, without fear that their residents are being over-taxed since the Federal government will be taking in far less revenue.

An additional positive, but unintended consequence to this change is that our elected officials can now spend time on issues that they were voted into office to tackle. Issues such as: Welfare reform, Social Security, Health Care, Lobbying reform, Pentagon spending, and generally defending our Constitutional rights.

Now, I don't fool myself for a minute into thinking that this will actually happen; it's far too Utopian, too Jeffersonian an idea to be realistic in today's political climate. Which takes us back to where we began...

Well we know where we're goin
But we dont know where we've been
And we know what we're knowin
But we cant say what we've seen
And we're not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride

Im feelin okay this mornin
And you know,
Were on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go
-Talking Heads

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What else Washington should be thankful for...

Jonathan Martin offers a great list of reasons why politicians should be thankful this Thanksgiving. Read it here.

I've got a few more:

Our elected officials should be thankful for the power of money. This election cycle, $2.8 Billion dollars was lavished on their campaigns.

Politicians should be thankful that there is a crisis in the Middle East. Otherwise, the press might spend more time investigating the numerous ethics violations in Congress.

Here, here! To the lobbyists, who last year spent a record $2.28 Billion dollars, which is sure to be topped once figures for 2006 come in.

Thanks for PAC's - Without this loophole, how else could all that soft money be filtered, washed, laundered and shipped back out with such great efficiency?

Democrats should be thankful for corruption, bribery and sex scandals... they rode the wave from that Tsunami right onto the shores of victory November 7th.
Be thankful the FEC has no balls.

Be thankful (especially Robert Byrd) that there are no term limits in Congress.

President Bush should be thankful that there are term limits. Otherwise he would have a tough decision to run again, and/or a tough election if he did run for re-election.

And lastly, be thankful that global warming is a hoax, because - shit, if it's for real, then we're really fucked, aren't we you lame-duck sacks of shit in Washington?

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Hollywood Vote recently ran a piece in which Rusty Shackleford argued that Jon Stewart should be crowned the Democratic majority Kingmaker, much akin to Rush Limbaugh's role in the '92 Republican victory in Congress.

The article made a number of very good points, noting that Stewart's brand of comedy endears him to his viewers, and spurs them to vote along with his views. This, Shackleford notes, has also resulted in greater voter turnout, particularly among younger voters who watch The Daily Show.

While I agree that Stewart's Daily Show has undoubtedly had an influence on the youth vote, I believe there are other avenues that should be explored when considering the increase in voter turnout amont the young (and old), especially during this mid-term election. Particularly, I would argue that Hollywood's political films have become more pervasive.

I don't mean to sit here and cast judgement in the way Shackleford did with regard to the Daily Show, but rather to highlight some films of note that have likely had a political after-effect.

First, the Michael Moore's of the world held their sway over audiences, particularly the far [anti-war] left. That much is clear. Then there is HBO's K Street, a George Clooney project featuring many prominent Democrats. Most recently, Al Gore has brought us "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary that is clearly intended to galvanize the environmental left, and perhaps convert some middle of the road Republicans concerned about global warming and a lack of government initiative to deal with it.

But aside from these documentaries, Hollywood has recently exploded with an endless number of serious, smarter than average films that each take their own view of politics at home and abroad.

Examples include: Syriana, Goodnight and Good Luck, The Constant Gardner, Hotel Rwanda, Bobby, The Last King of Scotland, United 93, Black Hawk Down, Babel, The Manchurian Candidate, V for Vendetta, Borat, World Trade Center, Traffic, The Thin Red Line, Munich, Jarhead.

Television has also thrown its hat in the ring with shows like 24, The West Wing, Commander in Chief and The Unit.

Of course, Hollywood has always had an appetite for Drama, particularly with a strong, clear social message of right and wrong. The Tom Clancy novels turned films come to mind, such as Clear and Present Danger, which dealt with the limits of Presidential power. The original (now remade) Manchurian Candidate detailed an apparently limitless degree of political manipulation and ambition. Mr. Smith goes to Washington illustrated the clash of the idealist outsider up against a corrupt political system entrenched in money, special interests and patronage.

But recent Hollywood political flicks are different, not just in their increasing prominence. The trend seems to be an increasingly complex, narrow and even ambiguous film, that still entertains and captivates. One example, Syriana, leaves the viewer confused. On one hand, the left leaning film showed the United States government backing a puppet of the moneyed interests, even killing to reach this goal. Yet, the film was not afraid to portray terrorists, hitmen and ideological mullahs as ultra-violent threats that needed to be dealt with. Furthermore, the exchange between Matt Damon and the upstart Prince strongly criticized Arab regimes, along with Western intervention. Overall, Syriana displayed the results of politics trumping reality, particularly when a field agent who is in the know, gets overruled by policy makers in Washington. Perhaps the film bit off more than it could chew, but it did stylistically portray American struggles in the Middle East in a medium that the average Western audience could reasonably digest.

In Black Hawk Down, Ridley Scott achieves something unique for Hollywood. Although his poetic montages, with children running through the streets laid it on a bit thick, the film was anything but typical of Hollywood. First and foremost, Black Hawk Down conveyed a brutal, realistic portrayal of street warfare in an impoverished third world country, with little in the way of plot or political commentary to get in the way of the reality on the ground. The movie focused on the troops and their job defending the United States abroad in a hostile country. Too often, war/political films dwell upon the policy makers; Presidents and Generals. In Black Hawk Down, the soldiers were the stars. The movie's mood and intentions are summed up well in the final minutes, when Eric Bana's Delta Force character (Sfc Norm Hooten) prepares to go back to rescue his fallen comrade:

Eversmann - You going back in?
Hoot (Bana) - There's still men out there. Goddam. When I go home people ask me, they say "Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? Why? You some kind of war junkie? I won't say a goddam word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand, it's about the men next to you. And that's it. That's all it is. Hey don't even think about it, all right? I'm better on my own. Hey we started a whole new week. It's Monday.

In contrast to Black Hawk Down, Jarhead is certainly more glamorous and less realistic, but similar with respect to its focus on the American G.I. The majority of the film seems aimed at grunt humor and misbehavior during down time, but it still brought a version of troop angst to the screen better than many films before it.

The common thread is the seemingly inordinate number of films dealing seriously with politics, especially overseas politics. Each of these films have their own themes, but one thing seems certain to me. The propensity for Hollywood to churn out these smarter, more complex thrillers has captured audience's attention. Perhaps it is still the after effect of 9/11, or Iraq, but young voters are turning out in greater numbers, up 24% from the 2002 mid-term elections, reversing a trend in the opposite direction for many years. Furthermore, 24% of young people under 30 identify themselves as independents compared to 18% of voters over 30.

Hollywood's precise role cannot be quantified. Perhaps it's foolish to believe that more well made political films than normal has had a tangible effect on audiences. After all, the rush of Hollywood Bush-bashing before the 2004 election had little results at the polls. But I would argue that the difference is more subtle, and has come to effect the way we approach films, along with Americans' increasing disdain for our politicians.

It may not be a credit to Hollywood, or to Jon Stewart alone that young voters are more interested in politics. Daily news flashes of body counts in Iraq, effecting family and friends surely takes its toll. But if we are a product of our environment, the influence of cinema over our political mood cannot be discounted, and may be underestimated.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Salute to the Media Whores I

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." Ann Coulter

"You will admit that at least 40 percent of any vote in a Democratic race is humorless feminists." Tucker Carlson

"I believe that global warming is a myth. And so, therefore, I have no conscience problems at all and I'm going to buy a Suburban next time." Jerry Falwell

"If I were president of the United States, I would include Moslems in my presidency." Jerry Falwell
"I think the Moslem faith teaches hate." Jerry Falwell

"It is God's planet - and he's taking care of it. And I don't believe that anything we do will raise or lower the temperature one point." Jerry Falwell

"You want to have two guys making out in front of your 4-year-old? It's OK with them. A guy smoking a joint, blowing the smoke into your little kid's face? OK with them. And I'm not exaggerating here. This is exactly what the secular movement stands for." Bill O'Reilly

"I have often thought that if a rational Fascist dictatorship were to exist, then it would choose the American system." Noam Chomsky

"Well the reason I do that sometimes is because I think it's important not to let people make some sort of inflammatory comment and then try and turn the corner and make it seem like they didn't make that comment - which is what you see on TV a lot, particularly these professional talking heads." Dan Abrams

"Looks like a pretty serious race unfolding." Wolf Blitzer

"Too close to call!" Wolf Blitzer

"Be careful. Journalism is more addictive than crack cocaine. Your life can get out of balance." Dan Rather

"Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy." Dan Rather
"Folks, let me point out something to you, because for a lot of people in Washington, they could not be more surprised if Fidel Castro came loping through on the back of a hippopotamus this Election Night." Dan Rather

"I had someone at the Houston police station shoot me with heroin so I could do a story about it. The experience was a special kind of hell. I came out understanding full well how one could be addicted to 'smack,' and quickly." Dan Rather

"The Michigan Republican primary apparently is tighter than Willie Nelson's headband." Dan Rather

"The reelection of Bill Clinton is as secure as a double-knot tied in wet rawhide." Dan Rather

"They may have turned this up, whether you had the Paula Jones case or not. But again maybe not, but again that's like if a frog had side pockets he'd probably wear a handgun. Dan Rather
They say California's the big burrito; Texas is a big taco right now. We want to follow that through. Florida is a big tamale." Dan Rather

"This race between Dick Swett and Bob Smith is hot and tight as a too-small bathing suit on a too-long car ride back from the beach." Dan Rather

"What I say or do here won't matter much, nor should it." Dan Rather

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Say it ain't so

It's still November, but the chorus of Democrats calling for a withdrawal from Iraq reaches ever new crescendos each day. The distinguished Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has recently flexed his formidable oratorical muscles by adding to the call for retreat.

The Senator, whose military credentials I seem to have misplaced along with my bifocals (I don't have bifocals), feels that the threat of a U.S. pullout, to be followed by an actual U.S. pullout, will prompt the Iraqi government to reach into their trench coats, and produce a miraculous drug, perhaps the product of some alchemy, which will quickly and expeditiously dispatch the foreign terrorists, end the civil strife, and generally just make everything copacetic.

None of this, of course, will happen. Certainly not if rush to pull out of Iraq. Kissinger may have said the war is un-winnable, and he is probably right. But we also have to ask why we are in Iraq right now. Surely, not to win in the conventional sense.

Rather, at the very least our presence in Iraq is a message that the U.S. will not run away from a terrorist threat. Among the many other reasons that can be listed, our military force also remains a thorn in the side of Iranian and Syrian demagogues with hopes of greater influence. The recent assassination of a Christian Lebanese Cabinet Minister is one example.

No, the Iraq War cannot be won in a conventional sense, but it can be lost miserably. But let me be clear... I'm not asking the Democrats to pour more troops into Iraq (that probably wouldn't make much difference). I do not even suggest that we increase spending on the war. But I do request that we muzzle our belligerent isolationist, defeatist attitudes (By we, I mean mostly Democrats) at the very least until the Baker Commission and the independent Senate review are complete.

Democrats, I understand that you have been hungry for power, and eager to leave your mark on American politics after many years in a vacuum... the black hole also known as the minority party. But please just keep your heads screwed on straight and get real, at least for a little while. (Focus on earmarks and lobbyists for now, you can score some quick victories there.)

Standing on stage, pontificating about the ill-conceived war (and it was) and the quickest way out might have won you some votes, and may endear you to your base. But such rhetoric will not help us fight terrorism, it will not strengthen our hand in the region, and will not help us defeat the insurgents in Iraq.

This type of conversation is not good for America. Not right now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Immigrant Song

My maternal grandfather came to the United States over 50 years ago barely speaking a word of English. "Allo," "Spaghetti," "Thank you" and "No" probably rounded out his vocabulary at the time. Not that it stopped him.

He didn't ask for hand-outs, nor did he expect any. Rather, my grandfather knew he would see results for every ounce of effort he applied in the land of opportunity. And that's exactly what he got. Working hard, he raised a family, and assimilated into his new country, slowly learning the language and customs.

Now, I don't mean to dupe the reader into thinking my grandfather somehow transformed into a good 'ol boy who lives for the World Series, double-fists Bud Light, and polishes his red pick-up truck on Sundays. But if there ever was an immigrant story of success, I can proudly point to my grandfather's accomplishments as a symbol of the best that the American Dream has to offer.

Yet another immigrant story awaits us across the pond in Denmark. NPR recently aired a piece entitled "Danes' Anti-Immigrant Backlash Marks Radical Shift." (I don't know about "radical," maybe more like "sensible.")

For years, the Danes, like many other European socialist countries, have doled out a free ride to immigrants in their welfare state. It's common knowledge that anyone with a ticket, a family member or a little luck can collect a government paycheck, courtesy the Kingdom of Denmark.

Well... it seems the free ride is over.

This sea change in Danish immigration policy is evidenced in a new book by Karen Jespersen, [pictured here] entitled "Islamists and Naivists" and in a series of strict new anti-immigration Laws by Denmark's now conservative government.

In her book, Jespersen argues that Islamic radicals have a goal to Islamicize Europe (and, eventually, take it over). She is telling Danes what Americans already know, and what the rest of Europe is perhaps (too) slowly realizing. For more about the rest of Europe, see here.

The Danes' action is a refreshing change from Europeans' typical stance of bending over and taking it from their, poor, hostile, minority Muslim population.

Finally, the suppressed Viking spirit is beginning to shine through. It's about time one of the Scandinavian countries decided they weren't going to take it laying down anymore, or on the chin like the French.

It is now increasingly difficult to get by on government money if you are an unemployed foreigner in Europe. However, things could be much worse, after all; because although Muslim immigrants now wake up to a Europe that is less inviting and less inclined to freely give of its wealth, they should consider themselves lucky. Despite the monetary funds and special privileges that will diminish, Muslims can be fairly confident of one thing: There will be little reason to worry that a horde of Viking Long ships, armed to the teeth with hungry, violent, berzerkers will crash upon their shores to pillage their country of its own wealth, resources and way of life.

But the same may not be said for the homelands of these European Muslim immigrants. They can now see the consequences of war, intolerance, corruption and terrorism from the outside looking in. If European Muslims cannot learn to better conform in their new countries, and adapt to Western living like millions of immigrants before them, they may provoke a less benign response.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Party Consolidation?

An OP-ED piece in today's New York Times argues the most recent election has shown the Republican and Democratic parties have come back and consolidated power after years of attacks from independents.

I agree... sort of.

Democrats do seem to have found their way, clearly enough to regain the majority, though Republicans, as always, have stayed on message (albeit, a losing message).
But I just don't buy the argument that "Today, the parties accommodate only views that run from the middle to the opposite ends of each Spectrum." The author himself cites Jim Webb, the Virginia Senator-elect, who is "outside the party's traditional orthodoxy."

And then there is Bob Casey, Senator-elect of Pennsylvania, who defeated Republican Rick Santorum, #3 in the Senate. Casey is at odds with his fellow Democrats on many social issues; he is pro-life and pro-gun.
What this tells me is the Democrats, in particular, have significantly widened their tent to gain the majority. I don't see any indications of party unity here. They are adapting to win... in some races.
Take, for example the Lieberman-Lamont race in Connecticut. Democrats stabbed their own incumbent, a well respected former Presidential candidate, in the back... for all the good it did them. Lieberman still won a convincing victory by sticking to his message and honestly expressing his views. This race was a huge loss for Democrats, whose candidate was virulent anti-war.
This race proved a weakness in the Democrats' strategy when trying to pander to the party base, as opposed to races such as Virginia and Pennsylvania. It also proved that the country is far more conservative and security minded than many Democrats think. The Republicans weren't voted out of office so much to get us out of Iraq, as they were to clean up a war that has been run incompetently.
Lieberman's victory highlights the continuing threat independents and third parties can pose. Looking to New York, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a Republican, stood by Lieberman when Lieberman's own former party members ditched him.
Democrats' shift to the right in many cases indicates the potential for a serious third party challenge. If Democrats turn left again in 2008, and if Republicans continue a drift to the Right, along with greater Religious Right pandering, candidates like Lieberman, Bloomberg and - Dare I say it - Schwarzenegger, may be positioned to step in and capitalize on the best of what both parties have to offer.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hoyer beats out Murtha for Majority Leader

Good. Great.

The lesser of two evils. Instead of the foaming at the gums anti-war, ethically questionable Congressman, we got the low-key, rakes in tons of special interest money guy.

What is most telling about the outcome is Pelosi's loss of her candidate. The clear inter-party struggle so soon after the election (unless the media just overhyped it, which is entirely possible) does not bode well for the Democrats hopes for unity in the coming months.

Let's hope the rest of their terms has a happier ending than it began.
Looks who's not smiling anymore.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't be Stupid

Michigan's Carl Levin, soon to be head of the Armed Services Committe, has been the leading voice among Democrats for setting a timetable to
withdraw from Iraq.

He needs to chill out.

Talk about a "phased withdrawal" just days after the election is tantamount to surrender, and will embolden terrorists for future, more lethal attacks.

The Democrats need to realize that they don't need to pull out of Iraq to prove the U.S. never should have entered into the conflict in the first place.

Rather, the new Democratic leadership would do well to focus on a clear, concise strategy to win in Iraq, not a hollow retreat victory. If they act too foolishly and quickly, history will not judge them kindly. But if they pull off a sound strategy for victory and stability, they will be rewarded in 2008.

Americans voted the Democrats in for a number of reasons, but primarily for a change in course, a fresh perspective, and new ideas to help the troops and the Iraqis figure out a way to win, entrenched inside a hot bed of sectarian strife.

Democrats should act prudently, and have a little hope. A pragmatic attitude would do go along way in today's atmosphere.

As hollow as a sports related analogy may be, we may be able to learn from a recent development in college football.

Rutgers Universtiy has been known as a hopeless cause within the ranks of College Football's greatest teams; Michigan, USC, Texas, etc. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have gone decades without being ranked in the Top 25, and until last year, hadn't had a winning season since the 1990's.

This all changed last Thursday night as Rutgers (Ranked 13th) defeated Louisville (3rd) to remain undefeated at 9-0. This was so far Rutgers' best start in over 30 years.

What I took away the most from Rutgers season, and from last week's game in particular is this: Never give up.

By half time, Rutgers was down 25-7. The outcome of the game was thought to be a foregone conclusion. Everyone watching, myself included, had completely given up hope that victory was possible.

And then came the second half. Rutgers held Louisville to zero points. The game culminated with a field goal kick to seal the underdog victory.

I watched Rutgers' win Thursday night in New Brunswick, as fans erupted into the streets in disbelief. They waited, they were loyal, they hoped and stuck by their team for years. And Rutgers came through, defeating a 3rd ranked team in spectacular fashion.

What does this have to do with the situation in Iraq? Maybe nothing.

But to any Rutgers fan, or even to someone vaguely knowledgeable about College Football, Rutgers' win represented the impossible; a defiance of the odds... a comeback after things looked so bleak.

And that is the situation we are faced with in Iraq. The American public - Democrats and Republicans alike - need some faith in their troops. They need to find the will to win.

Pulling out of Iraq now may not cost us any more money, but it will not make the Middle East a better place. And I can guarantee that it will not produce victory in any shape or form. The U.S. needs to hit back with the will to win.

Take a lesson from a formerly scrubby Big East Team with little hope for greatness.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Where are the thrifty Republicans?

This Blog from The Club for Growth website says it all about the fiscal discipline of today's Republicans.

Americans can't turn to Republicans for spending restraint, and we cannot turn to Democrats either... will the window of opportunity for a third party continue to grow?

Republicans' poor budget management, coupled with their continued patronage of the religious right to change, alter and mandate social policy (unconstitutional?) will keep the party headed in the wrong direction.

I wouldn't mind some good news...

He kind of looks like a demonic zombie, doesn't he? ->

Tony, Tony, Tony... are you conducting? Whatever happened to your band The Tony Rich Project? I totally loved "Nobody knows it but me," it's a Classic.



You would think to expect some good news from Iran the day after Prime Minister Tony Blair declared the West should search for a "new partnership" with Iran. Think again.
No sooner did the words fall from Tony's lips, than Iran's President jumped on the opportunity to declare a political victory, and the West's submission to his will. I've argued recently that the West should open up a bit to Iran; sell them more of our popular culture, get them hooked on the trinkets of freedom. But let this evolve diplomatically, and through economic channels.
Do not hand the President of Iran a gift in the form of a public speech that he can translate into the vindication of his government's policies. Granted, at the same time, though President Bush and Israeli PM Olmert have reiterated their tough stance against Iran, there will be less focus on these comments, then Blair's.

The bottom line is that the U.S. is stuck in a tough situation. Iran and Syria are supplying weapons, people, and moral support to part of the Iraqi insurgency. Bush and his allies have to somehow figure out a way to calm Iraqi violence; possibly with Iranian, and Syrian help. At the same time, the West has to curtail Iranian Nuclear proliferation, and somehow contain its influence in the region.
This is a monstrous task. Maybe impossible to accomplish. Have such large, competing interests ever been able to succeed in the past?
The United States could not prevent the U.S.S.R. from going nuclear, nor could we prevent them from building the Berlin wall. But we did contain them. The West, led by the United States, landed men on the moon, kept nukes out of Cuba, and opened up China.
In 1970, there were probably not many people that would have guessed by 2006, Russia would be joining the WTO, or that China's red hot economy would continue to open itself to free market capitalism.
We need a healthy dose of pragmatism to deal with Iran. Despite the country's vast oil reserves, its people want more than flashy headlines and firebrand leaders. They want Grey's Anatomy and Seinfeld, they want McDonald's and Saks Fifth Avenue. The average Iranian probably cares less about the actual benefits of nuclear energy than its perception of Iran in the Muslim world of the 21st century.
So what can the United States hope to do? At best, we can use our leverage - our hard and soft power - to reduce the violence in the Middle East and curb Islamic Extremism. At worst, we can remain obstinate and allow Iranian nuclear proliferation and the Iraqi insurgency to spiral out of control.
Either way, it seems... the road leads through Tehran.

A word from the wise...

"I would ban religion completely" says Elton John. Wonderful. Marvelous. How sheik.

Any other canon fodder for the fanatical Muslim zealots, Sir Elton the flamboyantly gay?

You'd think Elton John has lived a tough, oppressed life. Just scraping to get by. It's hard when your live-in lover spends all of your cash and forces you into bankruptcy.

Comments like these - just as much if not more so than "Bring it on" fuel Islamic radicalism, hatred and fear.

Can you imagine if you were a relatively benign Muslim living in the U.K. (some probably exist), waking up this morning to CNN, seeing this clown - a supposedly respected Pop Idol - vomiting this insane, hypocritical garbage.

I don't know whether to think that Elton John's words are more ironic than hypocritical. John, supposedly decrying bigotry, and a lack of freedom of expression, wants to BAN all religion... he should just consider himself lucky not to have been busted by the fashion police.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Conservatives Vs. Republicans

The next two years will be interesting for Republicans in more ways than one. There will be the struggle over what to do in Iraq, and probably the usual rumblings regarding gay marriage and abortion.

But the real political fight may be within the Republican party itself. This article in today's New York Times explores the question of Republican Party identity, and/or Conservative identification.

It's ironic... what I regard as the best aspects of conservatism; indeed the pillars of the conservative movement, have been largely cast aside by the Republican party in recent years.

If the conservatives reign in spending and federal government largess, they can keep the presidency in 2008, and reclaim Congress. Like a child that has been spoiled by its mother, Congress has continued, if not expanded legislative tactics that do not serve the public good. Ear marks and late night amendments to bills are not good for the country.

Instead of continuing to drive through the reform they promised in 1994, Republicans became victims of their enemy's vices. Congress has become ever more dependent on lobbyists, and campaign spending is at an all time high.

These are not victories that conservatives would like to claim. Change is in the wind, hopefully it will blow in the right direction. Whether Republicans can rediscover their conservative soul or not, Americans should be the ones to benefit, not a political party.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth ponders why the Republicans lost the election. He cites in his article that one little discussed reason is spending and government expansion under the Republicans.

In other words, Republicans caught the Democratic Party virus and became their own worst enemy.

Hypocrisy or self-destruction?

Friday, November 10, 2006


(That same Stewart photo Fox News had)

An article posted today by Rusty Shackleford on draws parallels between Rush Limbaugh's perceived influence over the 1994 Republican election victory, and Jon Stewart's role in this month's mid-term election. Read the article here.

Shackleford (I like saying that name in my head... sounds like he could be a wizard out of Harry Potter) made some good points. Shackleford states that Stewart's this year accomplished what Limbaugh's forceful opinion did to galvanize and energize the Republican base in 1994.

And Shackleford is probably right.

But then Shackleford goes on a somewhat long, redundant, repetitive, bitter?, angry little rant detailing Stewart's left-leaning show (no kidding) that made me think, "duh".

But back to Shackleford's argument... which raises maybe more questions than it answers.

1) The age old question - Are people (youth, in particular) drawn to Stewart because he is funny, and then fall for his charm and get converted, or are they initially drawn to Stewart because of their political proclivities to begin in the first place? Let's place that statement in another context:
Do lobbyists contribute to a party because it leans in their direction, or does a
politician lean toward the lobbyist that gives him or her its cash? Because this is the
argument that a lot of politicians and pundits - on both sides - use to defend lobbyists.
2) Second age old question - So Stewart is apparently bringing out scores of young voters (a good thing, though, all in all, right?), but these young voters are ostensibly voting because they are fans of the show, and maybe now feel they need to perform their civic duty, blah, blah, blah. How...ever - Let's take a look at and consider the Cult of Personality... is it even Stewart's politics that sways viewers? Just as likely, viewers fall into Stewart's camp because they love, adore and/or respect him. This would suggest that political beliefs, policy, knowledge, qualifications, etc. are thrown out the window when the ballot is cast. People to vote for the candidate they like. Given the adulation of Jon Stewart, that's exactly what his viewers did. Any role the Daily Show played in the success of Democrats at the polls didn't lie in its ability to present the facts skewed one way or the other. Rather, the Daily Show can be blamed for brainwashing its viewers - into liking Stewart, thus voting his party into office.
I mean... I could be wrong, but it's something to consider.
P.S. - What about 2002 & 2004? Democrats lost those elections badly, but Stewart had already won an Emmy by then.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Now, Now... "

Logging onto and reading this headline, I am reminded of Tarantino's crisp prose, channeled through Harvey Keitel in his "Pulp Fiction" screenplay.

Keitel (The Wolf) retorts to his co-horts Vincent Vega (Travolta) and Jules (Jackson) "Now, now... let's not start sucking each other's... " ah, you know the rest.

Hopefully, I made my point without offending anyone. The fact of the matter is, when the honeymoon wears off, the American public is going to want to see some results. The Baker commission will not provide a miracle drug, a silver bullet. More likely it will supply a shot of adrenaline, at best.

The Democrats shouldn't use this opportunity to grind the war to a halt. Rather, if they defy their critics' expectations (by acting less like doves, restraining spending, holding taxes down) then they will silence their critics.

The best defense is a good offense. Take the Republicans on their own turf. Take initiative. Have a plan for Iraq, and clearly articulate that plan for the American people. If the Democrats can do that, the electorate will reward them in 2008.

If not... if they continue to do what they've always done, instead of seeing the light and changing their ways... then they will wind up like Vince Vega; riddled with bullets, lying dead in a bathtub... instead of like Jules, who changed course and walked away on his own terms.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

D Day (+1)

I'm trying to imagine the scene at Democratic Party Headquarters last night when they received confirmation that the House of Representatives was safely in their hands...

Howard Dean: "Holy Shit!"

Nancy Pelosi: "Wow! How did we do it?"

Dean: "Who cares? We won! Woo Hoo! Yyyyaaaaaarrrrrrggggggghhhhh-aaaaa(gurglegurgle)!!!"

Pelosi: "Will you shut up? ...what are we supposed to do now???"

And so... the Democrats are victorious, as predicted. But the question remains: What will they do?

After years of ranting against Bush, after campaigning as the anti-Bush, will their policy continue to be to do the opposite of what Bush would do? Will they fight him to a stand-still and grind our legislative body to a halt? (Well, in fairness, it was already pretty pathetic).

Americans voted the Democrats in for a change, but not radical change, not spiteful change, and not total change. Americans voted Democrats in to restore a balance of power, to punish the complacent, incompetent Republicans, to send a signal to the President, and hope for something better.

So Ms. Pelosi, et, al...
Don't fly out of Iraq as quickly as you flew into power
Don't heighten the partisan tension
Don't abuse your power
Don't get caught up in scandal
Don't build bridges to nowhere
Don't settle scores
Don't bring up Abortion now
Don't bring up Stem Cells now
Don't bring up Gay Marriage now
Don't get bogged down legislating on social issues
Don't waste months investigating how we got into Iraq on faulty intelligence, that can come later
Don't spend any more money than Bush, which has been a god-awful lot of money


Do your jobs
Do remove America's lips from the teet of foreign oil
Do enact lobbying reform
Do reach across the aisle
Do finish the job in Iraq (and Afghanistan)
Do strengthen ties with our allies
Do grant the States the authority that is reserved to them. Let the States legislate on social issues, the Federal Government has bigger problems to worry about.

Do the right thing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

National Review: Whatever his mistakes

I was always under the impression that the function of journalists, newspapermen, and commentators was to elucidate; shed light on complex problems, investigate the issues and help the public come to a reasoned, well informed conclusion.

I was wrong.

For the latest example of media malfeasance, see The National Review Online's Hussein death sentence Editorial today.

I couldn't tell you much more about the editorial, because I had to stop after reading the byline, since I had just eaten dinner, and bile doesn't mix with Rigatoni.

But let's recap the short clipping I have attached... "Whatever his mistakes in implementation, President Bush made the right choice, with the result that the Middle East and the world will forever be free of Saddam's menace."

"Whatever his mistakes" - $300 Billion Dollars and counting

"Whatever his mistakes" - More American soldiers killed than civilians on September 11th

"Whatever his mistakes" - Destroying International Good Will

"Whatever his mistakes" - Underestimating troop levels

"Whatever his mistakes" - Disbanding the Iraqi Army

"Whatever his mistakes" - Assuming Americans would be greeted as liberators with daisies

"Whatever his mistakes" - Not finding WMD's

"Whatever his mistakes" - Botching the intelligence that Iraq had WMD's

"Whatever his mistakes" - Denying and downplaying inaccurate intelligence

"Whatever his mistakes" - "Bring it on"

"Whatever his mistakes" - "You're with us or against us"

"Whatever his mistakes" - Rumsfeld

"Whatever his mistakes" - Iraqi Looting

"Whatever his mistakes" - Inciting Terrorists and Extremists

"Whatever his mistakes" - Not finishing the job in Afghanistan

Whatever his mistakes, all is forgiven. All those billions of dollars, lies, and lives lost are clearly outweighed by the execution of a dictator who was being contained by American and British No-fly zones, not to mention his own damaging personality and heavy-handedness, which alienated him from virtually all of his neighbors.

Get a clue, National Review.