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.

U. Penn President apologizes for photo

The President of the University of Pennsylvania apologized for this photo taken on Halloween, in which she is seen standing next to a student dressed as a suicide bomber. The article in the Jerusalem post here.

But let's back up a second here... The Penn President clearly exercised poor judgment by posing for the picture, since she is a public figure. She may have really been slightly confused by the costume, and in the moment turned and smiled for the camera. She apologized, fine.

The student (of Syrian descent) should be criticized for being senseless and stupid. Maybe throw in a cursory FBI background check, just for good measure (seriously).

But let's keep our heads screwed on straight here... We've got kids dressed up as Hitler, Saddam, Bonnie and Clyde, Charles Manson and many more heinous villains of history. We should tone down the hysterics.

Even idiotic college students have first amendment rights. They deserve they're freedom of expression, and to be pilloried by the offended.

10 Stories

Fred Barnes wrote an interesting article in the Weekly Standard about "ten other storylines to follow on Election Day"

I present my own ten storylines to follow:

1) Will loyal Democrats be able to wrestle their conscience, or will they re-elect State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, whose illegal use of a state employee to chauffeur his wife was an ethical breach that he was censored for by the a State Ethics panel. He should not be re-elected. At least Spitzer did the right thing and withdrew his support of the man.

2) How many televisions will be stacked behind Wolf Blitzer as he "counts down" the close of the polls tomorrow? One can only wait with giddiness and thinly disguised anticipation for the crystal clear insight he will provide on Election Day. Who knows, he may even reveal himself as Wolverine's father, sans the adamantium skeleton.

3) Will Saddam's death sentence provide a last minute reprieve for embattled Republicans? It shouldn't, because it doesn't change anything on the ground in Iraq. It's somewhat of a moral victory, given that his trial has seen judges ousted or killed, witnesses intimidated, defendants thrown in and out, and probably by now the world's most notorious pajama clad dictator.

4) Since Karl Rove predicted the Republicans would hold the House and Senate, I can't wait to hear his excuse on Wednesday.

5) After winning the House and possibly the Senate, my giddiness and thinly disguised anticipation for Wolf Blitzer's inevitable Election night Tom Foolery and Ballyhoo will only be trumped by my childish giddiness and anticipation of the hollow promises and platitudes bound to come from the Democrats' mouths when they attempt to state what they will [fail to] do with a mandate from the people.

6) Who will be the next Republican to come out of the closet on Election Day? Oh come one, we all know these things come in three's: Foley, Haggard, and... (I can only speculate, but Orin Hatch is one dapper dresser)

7) John Kerry will eat a baby on live television, possibly throwing the election for the Democrats.

8) Terry Schiavo's ghost will come to haunt Bill Frist's dreams this Election Eve. Senator Frist will run from his home in Tennessee to the shores of the Atlantic, riddled with insanity, and then choke to death on sand and jellyfish. Terry Schiavo will have her revenge. Her spirit is enraged at the irony that Congress voted to keep her alive, but also denies Federal funding for research for Stem cells that may have one day cured her. (It's a stretch, but wasn't it fun)

9) John Kerry show up to vote in military fatigues, and then throw a handful of medals that he stole from some Vets into a crowd of supporters, the pins piercing their hearts. (REMIX)

10) Oprah Winfrey will declare her candidacy for President. Dr. Phil will be her running mate, although his ties to lobbyists will cause her to eventually distance herself from him and declare she will not have a running mate, for she is Oprah, the Alpha and Omega, the Yin and the Yang, the Peanut Butter and the Jelly. She will hold office from her studio, solve world hunger, balance the budget, end affirmative action, and retrieve Amelia Earheart's wreckage from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Oprah's opponents will be powerless against her; not only because of her domineering will, not only due to her gentle demeanor, not even because she has mastered the application of her eye-liner. Oprah will reign because she knows that her loyal fans will stop at nothing to get their fix of sweet, sweet Oprah. You thought free cars for everybody was something? How about free health insurance? Don't worry, the advertisers will pay for it.

I wouldn't want to be that guy

I thought this was an arresting picture, worthy of being posted.

From the Chicago Tribune:
Knocked down
An Ethiopian Jew shields himself from a horse after he was knocked down by a mounted police officer during a demonstration in central Jerusalem, Israel, on Monday. He and others were protesting alleged discrimination saying they had donated blood but it was discarded because they were from Africa.

That Katherine Harris, she's such a kidder!

Scroll down to the bottom of The Washington Post's 'The Worst Challengers of Campaign 2006' and read the piece on Katherine Harris for a laugh.

Beware the dangers of trying to invoke your religious or pseudo religious beliefs while campaigning.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More VDH... Overstating and Missing

HH: And what does the enemy think, both of John Kerry and this week's brouhaha, and also about these University of Pennsylvania pictures?

VDH: They think that we are a wealthy, affluent, leisured society that doesn't have a moral sense, that are corrupt, that are godless, and that they are zealots. They believe in a hereafter. They have a more pure view of human experience, and that we hide behind our technology and our sophisticated weapons, and we're not able to get down and dirty with them and fight for what we believe in. They believe that we don't know who we are, if we're better than the alternative. And they think in the long war that this is becoming, they're going to outlast us. So when they see a John Kerry say these things, or they see a Dick Durbin, or they see a picture like this, they say a-ha. You see? We're winning on the battlefield, because these people do not want to support this long war. They don't believe in it.

If this is true, and I don't necessarily dispute Victor Davis Hanson that the United States can certainly be a bloated, morally deficient world of reality TV, superstar movie adorement and obsessive desire for greater corporate profits... if this is true, then shouldn't VDH be out there on the picket line with a foam board banner outside NBC, ABC and CBS studios decrying reality TV?

Wouldn't it logically follow that primetime television shows such as 'The Bachelor', 'The Bachleorette', or even 'Grey's Anatomy' further the Islamo-Fascist agenda by proving that Americans are "morally bereft" and that we have only narrow interests, leaning to a prurient nature?

Shouldn't he be calling for the shut down of our corporate media celebrity cult of personality?

No? Because if not, then I'm not exactly sure what he is saying... the terrorists believe we are morally inferior, lacking, etc. Fast forward... the Democrats vindicate the terrorist's views?

What am I missing? I don't understand. Please forgive me.

VDH should start by calling for a boycott on the Britney Spears midnight wedding trysts in Las Vegas, the 'Who wants to be a millionaire' game shows, the 'Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator expose's.'

Because it's our freedom that VDH is calling into question. And it's our freedom that the terrorists take issue with.

So maybe, VDH, you might start with some domestic introspection, or at the very least appeal to our Christian roots and request some restraint. Because the terrorists are wrong - they have no right to tell us who we are or what we should say, express or stand for.

But look at our culture - If you were to look at our popular culture, who are we, and what do we stand for?

I don't have any answers, but neither does Victor Davis Hanson.

New York State's Pathetic State of Affairs

New York will have a new Governor, that much is certain. Eliot Spitzer will be the next Governor, that much is [99%] certain.

What is not yet clear is whether Spitzer will bring significant change to a political system possibly more broken than Washington's.

As The Economist explains, the task will not be simple.

al-Jazeera: Coming to a satellite near you

al-Jazeera television will debut al-Jazeera international, in hopes of reaching a larger, wider audience with its Arab perspective on world events.

Read more here.

Victor Davis Hanson, Hugh Hewitt, Islam, The Left, Kerry, and Run Like Hell

Here's an exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Victor Davis Hanson, in a recent interview:

HH: I want to talk about Kerry, but before we do, during the last segment, when I was replaying Mark Steyn from the first hour, I was sent an e-mail, and I went to the Democracy Project. I've linked this at And there are pictures posted there of a Halloween party at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday night at the President's house, at which a student showed up dressed as a suicide bomber with a Kalashnikov. And the pictures are just very disturbing. And the President of the University of Pennsylvania appears alongside a suicide bomber and is laughing. Your comments, Victor Davis Hanson?

VDH: Well, I saw that, and again, I think it's emblematic of this endemic problem on the left, that they don't really see that we're in a war, they don't really see that there's a moral difference between suicide bombers and people who try to deliberately kill people, and people in the war who have collatoral damage by accident, when they try to target terrorists. So I mean, it's a problem we're having, these Freudian slips. John Kerry didn't mean to slur soldiers, but he has a problem. And when he makes a mistake, and he makes a gaffe, that's the type of things that comes out. It reveals a deep-seated distrust, just like Kennedy, just like Jay Rockefeller, just like Senator Durbin, just like all of these people when they have these outbursts, and they lapse into sort of a stream of consciousness. What you expect to come from them is a 1960's deep distrust of the United States socio-economic and military system. And then they do silly things, such as President Gutmann, who was provost at Princeton University, allowing a picture of her with a suicide bomber. They just don't have the same antenna that most of us do.

Okay... So what I'm wondering is, what is their opinion of the Brooklyn Teen who showed up at school dressed in a Hitler costume, including a Swastika? I don't hear any griping about that. Was the high school teen an agent of the left? Did his lefty teacher make him do it? Was it a joke, a gag? Why make an issue about a [probably] drunken college moron? I dressed as Superman for Halloween, does that mean I stand for Truth, Justice, and the American Way? (It just so happens I do, but WHATEVER)

This should be a non-issue for VDH or Hugh Hewitt, they have better things to talk about, like Kerryism. That argument is more legitimate.

For some reason I get this inkling, this whiff of a hint that Hewitt set up Hanson to go on a rant about the status of America's collegiate elite [pandering to his viewers?]. Hanson teaches at Stanford. My feeling is that he's allergic to the noxious scent of incense that probably permeates the clothing of most of his stoned out students, but get real. Drawing the conclusion that a student has no morals because he dresses as a suicide bomber for Halloween?

Tasteless, lacking class, dumb. Each one of those adjectives more accurately describes the Princeton college student. For all VDH knows, the student is a card carrying Republican. But I won't hold my breath and wait for them to talk about that High School Hitler student.

Instead, I would have liked for VDH's to preface his comments with: "While the United States has by far the greatest University system in the world, responsible for churning out graduates who keep our country at the top of the economic heap, driving innovation at every level, attracting top talent from around the globe, and giving us so many sequels to "Girls Gone Wild, etc, etc."(Okay, maybe not that last part, but you catch the drift)

Slow down and take a deep breath, VDH. You've made the jump, the foray into political discourse from your Academic roots... don't go partisan nut-job on us yet.

Now, I know what you're thinking: What does the 'Run Like Hell' mean in your heading? I'm glad you asked. During the ING New York City Marathon on NBC, Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell was played during interludes. Great song. Brilliant.

Priest burns himself to death over Islam

A german priest killed himself in protest to Islam's spread in Europe and his perception that Christian Europe is not acting.

This presents an interesting quandry for the West.

  • Write the priest off as a nut-job to appease Muslims?
  • Downplay the incident?
  • Or use his death to begin a frank and open discussion about the real and perceived threats to Europe that can and will result from past, present and future muslim immigration.
[See: Slain dutch filmmaker, French riots, British terror attacks by homegrown muslims... the list goes on.]

The priest's manner of suicide also brings to mind the buddhist monks who took their own lives in the same manner to protest the Vietnam War. I'm sure it comes as a relief that the priest did not commit this act in opposition to the Iraq War or U.S. policy, since that would only further serve to strain cross-atlantic relations.

Gosh, I never thought I'd be saying this, but ... hopefully Germany will move to the right on this issue...

Kerry is an ass

John Kerry... why did I vote for you? I should have written myself onto the ballot.

Not because you should have won the election.

Not because you gave us four more years of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, budget deficit spending, soft power squandering, military blundering, pork barrel-been-in-office too long Republicans.

Not because you repeated Dukakis' tank photo op missteps in the form of wind-surfing and snowboarding.

Not because you married up.

Not because you proposed that we pull out of Iraq [Which in and of itself is enough of a reason why you're an ass]

Not because you voted to invade Iraq [Which is also in and of itself enough of a reason why your'e an ass]

Not because the doubts regarding your military record and achievements may hold some validity.

Not even because of what you said about the troops - regardless your real meaning.

John Kerry, you are an ass because as another weak-kneed incumbent, with the levers of a Party machine at your behest, I still have no clue what alternative you represent to George Bush. I sort of had an idea when you ran against Bush, but any doubts I had were overshadowed by my conviction at the time that we needed a change.

I'm no longer willing to accept a flawed candidate that may be closer to my position on the spectrum, but ironically suffers from a lack of political savvy the President possesses. You have missed the boat and the opportunity to state a clear and concise platform.

John Kerry, you are an ass because like many Democrats, you have no vision, no grand plan for the future. You, like many other Democrats, run under the "We're not Bush" banner, so "vote for us". That doesn't cut it anymore, and it won't cut it in 2008, so think harder.

Or better yet, please do not attempt to run again.

John Kerry, you have turned yourself into a lightning rod for the Right. At its mere mention, your name generates more venom than Hillary's in Republican circles, and within the Republican party base.

John Kerry, you are George W. Bush. You are Bush's doppleganger. Face the facts.

John Kerry, you are not a centrist. You will not provide the strong national security leadership tempered by domestic restraint that this country needs.

You will rule as all Presidents have since Nixon... overreaching your constitutional limits, overlegislating, overacting in front of the cameras, underperforming, and underestimating what the average American citizen wants.

You will spend as much, if not more than Bush (which says a lot), you will continue outdated government programs or expand them, and you will comment and legislate on issues reserved to the states (But in your defense, so have many many Presidents before you).

You wouldn't be bold, you wouldn't be brave, you would not be original. How do I know this? You have already demonstrated your lack of political talent in more ways than one. Why should we expect more? Why should you deserve a second chance?

Please go back to the fantasy world from which you came. Crawl back into your own psyche, sitting in a leather chair, staring at the picture of JFK on your desk in loving adulation. But this time please come to the realization that you are not JFK, you will not be JFK, and then stay indoors and accept your lot in life.

P.S. - Thanks for the Big Dig, too. It was overly ambitious, heinously overbudget, and is still falling apart; much like your Presidential campaign Past, Present, and Future.

Dear Jon... Carry

Since this picture has made little to no play on the major media outlets, I'm posting it here. It's already been posted on many other alternative media sites.

Although what Senator Kerry meant vs. what he said is still a matter up for debate, there can be little doubt as to the effect his poorly chosen words have had on at least some American Service Members.

This is how the U.S. unveils a new fighter jet

There is no sultry model for the unveiling of our military weaponry, but the presentation is still impressive.

The crowd applaudes as the F/A-22 Raptor was officially unveiled during a dedication ceremony at Langley Air Force Base, Va., on Feb. 11, 2005. The 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing at Langley is the first operational squadron to use the F/A-22 Raptor. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dawn M. Bolen. - Courtesy D.O.D. website.

This is how China unveils a new military jet

Wow... is this the Jacob Javits Center? Nope...

Oct. 31: A model poses next to China's L15 advanced trainer after the unveil ceremony of the plane at the 6th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai. - Courtesy, Fox News

Isn't the U.S. supposed to be the shallow, superficial, morally bankrupt marketing whore? Apparently not.

Some good news from Iraq

Saddam is getting the noose; shiites are happy, sunnis are upset. The former President broke out into a series of rambling shouts about allah, the people, America and apple pie. At least somehow they were able to get him out of his pajama's and into a suit.

But the bottom line: a dictator gets his due.

Despite the good news, the New York Times felt it necessary to temper any buoyancy in feeling with three skeptical articles: G.O.P Glum as it struggles to Hold Congress, Anger Joines Grief as Marines' Family Feels Misled, and an AP article titled Snow Denies Saddam Trial Scheming.

Let's just try to be happy about the verdict for a minute.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Why does NPR feature Reynolds?

Curiously, National Public Radio had a feature on Tom Reynolds, running for re-election in upstate New York. I almost can't help but wonder why Reynolds, of all candidates, was picked for astory on 'Incumbent Power'. Was it just an excuse to drop his name in connection with the Foley scandal?

Congress, Incumbency and our Electoral System

For all the deep unhappiness that polls show with Congress, Mr. Bush, his party and the Iraq war, only about 10 percent of House races could be considered even remotely competitive. That figure stands as a reminder of the enduring power of incumbency, and of how a dominant party can protect itself by drawing Congressional districts that serve as bulwarks during stormy seasons. There are 34 incumbent House members and one senator running for re-election unopposed. – The New York Times

Could it be: More money in politics
- 1976 Campaign Funding: $171 Million
- 2000 Campaign Funding: $528 Million

More than likely, the parties themselves are inherently corrupt and corrupting. And the American people suffer.

"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all." --Thomas Jefferson to Francis Hopkinson, 1789.


"John Kerry, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the 'blame America first' crowd, they want to blame Iraq on the president, (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and everyone else," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, referring to his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate. "Why don't we blame it on the terrorists, the people who killed 2,000 people here in New York? Let's not blame it on everybody else. – Courtesy Fox News

Um... 2,000?

2,000. Huh.

Check your numbers, Congressman.

And further... blaming the President for failure cannot be equated to 'blaming America' anymore than alcohol and childhood molestation can excuse pedophilia.

But I'm not grouping all Republicans with the Foley scandal, not even most of them - not any of them in fact. If as a politician, you take issue with an opponent, then counter your opponent, do not regurgitate a bland generalization, grouping hundreds of members of one party together. I wouldn't do it to you. Remember: You're not a perv just because one of your party members can't keep it in his pants when children are around.

Congress Sucks

Americans' opinion of the people they chose to run the country is in the tank, with polls showing vast disillusionment with the war in Iraq, mounting cynicism because of sexual improprieties and alleged corruption on Capitol Hill and throughout Washington, D.C., growing pessimism about the War on Terror, fears the economy is benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor and exhaustion from all the partisan rancor. – Fox News

Money: What, me worry?

“We believe that you know how to spend your money far better than the federal government does,” Mr. Bush said, again to applause. “That stands in stark contrast to the Democrats, who want to take more of your own money because they think they can spend it better than you can spend it.” - courtesy The New York Times

Spending, spending... I wouldn't brag if I were him: Reason, Another Reason, And Yet Another.

Maybe just stick to military history?

Victor Davis Hanson, an intelligent, often thoughtful voice against backing down to terrorism and the meekness of our foreign allies in Europe seems to have lost his mind in his latest article in National Review.

A few snippets:
"... never how many terrorists we have killed" [Oh no? Try here, here or here, for starters]

Among his reasons to defend the war:
"Yes, the Middle East is “unstable,” but for the first time in memory, the usual killing, genocide, and terrorism are occurring in a scenario that offers some chance at something better. Long before we arrived in Iraq, the Assads were murdering thousands in Hama, the Husseins were gassing Kurds, and the Lebanese militias were murdering civilians." [What are we supposed to read into here, that since they were getting killed, why should it matter if we're now responsible for some of the killing? What kind of moral justification is that?]

"Blame is never allotted to al Qaeda[Really?], the Sadr thugs, [No?] or the ex-Baathists[You sure?], only to the United States, who should have, could have, or would have done better in stopping them, had its leadership read a particular article, fired a certain person, listened to an exceptional general, or studied a key position paper." [Or maybe just done its homework]

"The Reaganism that rejected Cold War realpolitik and risked brinkmanship to bring down a rotten and murderous Soviet Empire was considered both the wiser and more ethical stance, as even Democrats reformulated their opportunistic criticism after the fall of the Berlin Wall." [Did Reagan invade Russia?]

"The U.S. Senate and House voted for war in Iraq, not merely because they were deluded about the shared intelligence reports on WMD (though deluded they surely were), but also because of the 22 legitimate casus belli they added just in case. And despite the recent meae culpae, those charges remain as valid today as they were when they were approved: Saddam did try to kill a former American president; the U.N. embargo was violated, as were its inspection protocols [The same U.N. that everyone bashes?]; the 1991 accords were often ignored [Like Israel?]; the genocide of brave Kurds did happen [Like Christians in Darfur are being killed, Tibetans, Colombians]; suicide bombers were being given bounties [How many other regimes also apply?]; terrorists, including those involved into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, were given sanctuary by Saddam[We give sanctuary to at least this one criminal]; and on and on."