Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Did Biden Pull a George Allen?

Betsy asks a good question about Joe Biden's gaffe. I'm speaking of Biden's description of Barak Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

I was stopped at the word "articulate," a word generally loaded with bad baggage. I don't think I even got to the "clean" part. WTH does he mean by that? And here, I thought Joe Biden was only good for plagiarism jokes.

Betsy has the key question about the Biden gaffe: Will he get the same treatment from the MSM as George Allen did for his macaca slip?

Now that Drudge has picked up on this interview, I have to wonder if the media will pay half as much attention to this gaffe by Biden as they do to Republican gaffes. Will the Washington Post run as many stories on it as they did on George Allen saying macaca?

My bet is no.

Bad Tattoos

One more reason I won't ever get a tattoo is that I don't want to end up on the bad tattoo site (via Ann Althouse).

The best part of the pictures is the "WTH were they thinking?!" taglines with them. I laughed so hard and I really needed that today.

Columnist Molly Ivins Dies at 62

Molly Ivins, a thorn in the side of every Texas Republican politician for the last 30 years, died Wednesday from complications of breast cancer.

Ivins wrote for my beloved Fort Worth Star-Telegram for nine years after the Dallas Times-Herald folded in 1991.

I thought it was fitting to use S-T writer John Moritz's obit for Ivins.

Ms. Ivins, the Star-Telegram's political columnist for nine years ending in 2001, had written for the New York Times, the Dallas Times-Herald and Time magazine and had long been a sought-after pundit on the television talk-show circuit to provide a Texas slant on issues ranging from President Bush’s pedigree to the culture wars rooted in the 1960s.

"She was magical in her writing," said Mike Blackman, a former Star-Telegram executive editor who hired Ms. Ivins at the newspaper’s Austin bureau in 1992, a few months after the Times-Herald ceased publication. "She could turn a phrase in such a way that a pretty hard-hitting point didn’t hurt so bad."

A California native who moved to Houston as a young child with her family, Ms. Ivins was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Two years later after enduring a radical mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy, Ms. Ivins was given a 70 percent chance of remaining cancer-free for five years. At the time, she said she liked the odds.

But the cancer recurred in 2003, and again last year. In recent weeks, she had suspended her twice-weekly syndicated column, allowing guest writers to use the space while she underwent further treatment. She made a brief return to writing in mid-January, urging readers to resist President Bush’s plan to increase the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. She likened her call to an old-fashioned "newspaper crusade."

I met Ivins a few times up at the paper and even drank a beer with her once, but would never say I knew her. She was as brash and funny in person (if you like that humor) as she was in her columns.

I can say I liked Ivins much better when I was a liberal than I did as I became more conservative, but regardless, she had an amazing way of turning a phrase.
Her writing flair caught the attention of the New York Times, which hired her to cover city hall, then later moved her to the statehouse bureau in Albany. Later, she was assigned to the Times’ Rocky Mountain bureau in Denver.

Even though she wrote the Times’ obituary for Elvis Presley in 1977, Ms. Ivins said later that she and the sometimes stodgy Times proved to be a mismatch. In a 2002 interview with the Star-Telegram, Ms. Ivins recalled that she would write about something that "squawked like a $2 fiddle" only to have a Times editor rewrite it to say "as an inexpensive instrument." Ms Ivins said she would mention a "beer belly" and The Times would substitute "a protuberant abdomen."

Molly was always interesting to read and we will miss her.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Learning about the Emerging Church...But Don't Forget Your Dictionary

Yesterday, I read this article from on the Emerging Church.

Evidently, this is considered a big movement in Christianity, although I'd never heard of it. The article tries to describe this movement but, I must confess, I didn't feel like I knew any more about the movement after reading it than before. It sounded vague and ephemeral, without doctrine or concrete dogma.

From there, I went to that standby, Wikipedia for a clearer idea of what this church is.

Or is it clearer? Well, the description of the church itself might be somewhat easy to understand (if you know what ecclesiology means). But where Evangelicals disagree with the emerging church becomes more difficult to translate to plain English.

While many Evangelicals have been open to some of the criticisms that the emerging church movement has offered, most seem to have rejected the emerging church movement's views of several key theological themes within their soteriology and eschatology as well as the openness of some in the emerging church movement to alternative lifestyles.

While many Evangelicals have been open to some of the criticisms that the emerging church movement has offered, most seem to have rejected the emerging church movement's views of several key theological themes within their salvation plans and theology and philosophy about the end of the world as well as the openness of some in the emerging church movement to alternative lifestyles.

Sure, it isn't as succinct, but most people don't discuss their denomination's soteriology, they talk about their plan of salvation.

The rest of the article was no easier to understand, but the impression I've come away with is that this is a church with no doctrine and no Truth in the sense most Christians understand. Its appeal to a "postmodern" society is that there is no judgement about belief systems and a large reliance on individual expression of faith through works.

What I like about this theology is that its members tend to be very active in helping people and they believe that faith without works is not enough. What bothers me is that there doesn't seem to be any real doctrinal definition to the movement, which has led to cultism in other movements. I'm still trying to find out more, though.

Silencing Christians in the Public Square

Great Britain is doing the same thing to Catholics there that Boston did to Catholics here: get them out of the adoption business.

Catholic officials told reporters today that the government was engaging in Orwellian strong-arm tactics against the religious freedoms of Christians in attempting to force Catholic adoption agencies to adopt children to homosexual couples.

The comments came in response to yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Tony Blair that British Catholic adoption agencies could not expect an exemption from a new law prohibiting “discrimination” in the provision of goods and services.

“Some legislation, however well intended, in fact does create a new kind of morality, a new kind of norm - as this does,” Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor told BBC Radio 4's Today program.

The forcing of Catholic services to adopt children to homosexual couples can only be aimed at silencing Christians in this area, since homosexual couples can adopt through secular agencies, says Anthony Esolen, editor of Touchstone Christian magazine.
(T)he purpose of legislative tactics to force churches to act against their conscience were specifically and only attacks on the freedoms of Christians.

At the time of the closing of Boston’s Catholic adoption agency last year by a similar legislative move, Esolen pointed out that homosexuals can legally adopt children from secular agencies and could not possibly benefit from the strong-arming of Boston’s Catholic adoption agency.

Esolen wrote, “The conclusion seems inescapable: the Church was given the ultimatum not so that homosexuals would benefit, but so that the Church would be hurt, either by a capitulation that would signal its subservience and irrelevance evermore, or by a curtailment of the freedom of Catholics to practice their faith in the public square.”

This was echoed by Bishop Nichols who said last week, “Catholic adoption agencies do not obstruct adoption by same sex couples.”

“Any such request made to Catholic agencies are referred to other agencies that are able to respond. Granting an exemption to Catholic agencies will not alter the legal rights of same sex couples seeking to adopt children,” Nichols added.

In my opinion, the purpose of these laws is to force Christians to accept and treat homosexual behavior the same as heterosexual behavior, whether this agrees with their religious beliefs or not. It seems that all the talk about accepting everyone's views doesn't really count when you are talking about Christian views.

White House Holds Dossier on Iranian Involvement in Iraq has a story on how the Bush administration has decided not to release a report on Iranian efforts to destabilize Iraq.

A plan by the Bush administration to release detailed and possibly damning specific evidence linking the Iranian government to efforts to destabilize Iraq have been put on hold, U.S. officials told FOX News.

Officials had said a "dossier" against Iran compiled by the U.S. likely would be made public at a press conference this week in Baghdad, and that the evidence would contain specifics including shipping documents, serial numbers, maps and other evidence which officials say would irrefutably link Iran to weapons shipments to Iraq.

Now, U.S. military officials say the decision to go public with the findings has been put on hold for several reasons, including concerns over the reaction from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as well as inevitable follow-up questions that would be raised over what the U.S. should do about it.

Jules Crittenden thinks the main reason for not releasing the report is because of the behavior of the Democrats.
The report goes on to detail exactly how much the Democratic Congress does not what to deal seriously with Iran. I suspect the concerns are not so much with how Ahmadinejad will react or what the U.S. will do about it, but rather how Congress will react, and how it will try to prevent the U.S. from doing anything about it.

The grownups can’t talk about ugly truths in front of the kids, because the kids aren’t ready to handle it.

Dan at Riehl World View thinks this is more a case of saber-rattling to get the Iranians back in line.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Obama Used Cocaine...Does Anyone Care?

Brent Bozell has a column on the media double standard when it comes to drug use.

We have Barak Obama, the media darling of the moment. Obama has admitted that he used both marijuana (we can assume he inhaled) and cocaine, yet no one on the Left seems to care.

Yet since 1999, these same people have touted the story that George Bush used cocaine. Why concern about Bush but not Obama?

The Non-Story Trial the Left Loves

I have to admit that I don't really understand the excitement the Left feels over the Scooter Libby trial.

I mean, here we have a trial based on a guy who might have perjured himself about...what? Patrick Fitzgerald knew early into his investigation that no crime had been committed. He also knew the identity of the leaker: Richard Armitage. He also knew that the leak was inadvertent and that Valerie Plame wasn't a covert agent.

Fitzgerald knew there was no there there. But he persued the case anyway until he found someone in the Bush administration--however tenuous the link--to indict.

And that's why we face the gleeful liberal onslaught of stories on this trial. Huffington Post ran this breathless account of how five--five!--witnesses have contradicted Scooter Libby's version of Leakgate. Firedoglake is running daily summaries of events. Digby is running transcripts.

Maybe this is the way liberals felt about the Clinton impeachment, that it was a minor offense, "just about sex," and that Republicans blew it out of proportion. They think Ken Starr spent millions and turned up nothing but a blue dress.

But aside from the obvious difference (Clinton was president, after all), there are other differences. Like the fact that Clinton did lie to the American people. He misused executive authority. He got other people to lie for him (suborning perjury). Dems may think everybody lies about sex, but Clinton is the first president in history to lose his bar card for it.

What we have here is silliness and stupidity. But since they won't get an impeachment, I guess liberals have to make themselves feel better with this idiotic waste of taxpayer time and money.

"I was thanked for exposing the church."

That's according to Mike Jones, the former male prostitute whose allegations of a three-year sexual liaison with church founder Ted Haggard triggered national scandal and led to Haggard's fall.

Jones attended services Sunday at New Life Church on a reconnaissance mission for his forthcoming book and said he was greeted warmly. Haggard, in an apology to the church, had urged members to forgive and thank Jones for exposing deceit.

"I had read a lot about the church, but there's nothing like seeing it for yourself," Jones said. "It wasn't to rub anyone's face in it by any means. I was wanting to get some perspective, to see where they are coming from, what the magnet is."

Jones had been invited to New Life several times by church members since Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was fired from the church after admitting in November to "sexual immorality"...

"A couple of ladies cried when they were touching me," Jones said. "I was thanked for exposing the church, for helping Ted Haggard. A couple of them said they hoped I get God into my life. And they all said 'God bless you,' every one of them."

But Jones - who came forward out of anger toward Haggard's political stances against homosexuality - said he wasn't impressed on the whole. If the Gospel message is enough, he said, why the loud music and MTV-quality production?

"There seems to be something missing, some realism, in my opinion, because it's so vast, like some kind of self-contained city," said Jones, who said he was raised Methodist but is estranged from organized religion.

I would agree with him there. I don't really understand the whole appeal of the "megachurch" phenomenon. Plus, I really like my service without a lot of bells and whistles or PowerPoint presentations. But that's just me.

I'm glad the congregants of New Life were nice to Jones. I'm sure it has been painful for them, but it is one of our duties as Christians to love everyone.

I found the story via GetReligion, which had pointed out that Ted Haggard's story shouldn't end with his resignation. His story is a reflection of the "mega-Christian" philosophy, and it is good for us all to see how things work out.

Maybe Star Wars Isn't So Ridiculous After All (Or Ronald Reagan Was Right)

"I am sure the American public is going to recognize this, and I am sure they are going to recognize it when they see wasteful money spent on things like Star Wars, which will not work..."

That's from Pete Stark, D-Ca. in the same speech where he was complaining about Republicans shutting out Democrats from the budget process.

It looks like Petey isn't only a hypocrite (I say that pre-emptively, since I don't expect him to call Democrats fascists because they didn't allow Republicans to debate the new budget), he also may be wrong.
Within a year, the U.S. missile defense system should be able to guard against enemy attacks, while testing new technologies, the deputy director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Monday.

The United States activated the ground-based system last summer when North Korea launched one long-range and six short-range missiles.

North Korea's intercontinental Taepodong 2 missile fell into the Sea of Japan shortly after launch but the short-range tests appeared successful, said Brig. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, deputy director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.

O'Reilly said there would be no formal announcement that the system was operational. He predicted the capability to defend against enemy missiles and to continue testing and development work would be achieved within a year.

"It's just a matter of maturation," he told reporters after a speech hosted by the George C. Marshall Institute, a public policy group.

Which intrepid reporter will ask Petey about this one?

Is Nick Cohen Right About the Dark Liberation of the Left?

Last week, I wrote about Nick Cohen's complaint that the left has abandoned its principles because of its anti-Americanism. For Cohen, the best example is Iraq, where he states that because the Left hates America so much, it would rather a ruthless dictator like Saddam Hussein remain in power rather than be overthrown. In short, the Left now supports fascism, Cohen states.

Now Cohen's detractors comment on his book in this piece. The columns are interesting and thoughtful, containing much food for thought. Mostly, though, they don't exactly disagree with Cohen's premise about Iraq.

He is at his very best when he exposes the dishonesty of the liberal press. Here he is on the Independent's report of the murder of the American green party activist Marla Ruzicka by an Islamic suicide bomber in Baghdad in April 2005: 'The piece was headlined, "The senseless death of the woman who fought George Bush", which read as if her murder wasn't a premeditated act by a religious fanatic from the ultra-right but George Bush's fault. Her legacy "should put many politicians in America, and in our own country, to shame," the Independent continued, while carefully - and shamefully - avoiding criticism of her killer.'

This is a true indictment of the MSM. But then the author points out the real problem with Cohen's thesis: that "fascism" in the Western definition of that word doesn't fit what happens in the Middle East where most regimes could be labeled "fascist." How do we determine which fascists we should support?
Cohen erects paper tigers. It is easy to turn over the SWP. The key failing of the book is that nowhere does Cohen seriously engage with the mainstream, anti-war left. Cohen's thesis simply does not begin to apply to the decent and honourable left-wing men and women who opposed the war: Robin Cook, Menzies Campbell, Chris Smith, Frank Dobson, Clare Short, Alan Simpson, Bob Marshall-Andrews, and so many others. These people are not rancid homophobes or anti-semites, reflex America bashers or secret supporters of al-Qaeda. They were perfectly clear-sighted about the horror of Saddam, and nevertheless found it natural as social democrats to oppose the war.

Then Cohen asks: 'Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal left but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo or North Korea?' But precisely the same question must be levelled at Cohen's new-found neo-conservative friends, and with far greater force. Tony Blair, for example, has failed to lift a finger for Zimbabwe, been impotent on Darfur and sucked up to China, a serial failure of principle that raises the deadly question: why the obsession with Iraq?

We could all question why we are concerned with one place of tragedy and not another or why now instead of then. The truth is that Iraq has held a strategic place of national interest for some time now and that is why we concern ourselves with it more than any tragedy in Africa. If Zimbabwe were to suddenly hold some national concern, we would go there. Until then, we probably won't.

I think the analysis is correct that Cohen erects paper tigers. The problem is that the paper tigers come so close to the truth that it is hard to criticize him for it. I look forward to reading the book.

Democrats Unveil Massive Spending Bill

Gotta love the Democrats. When they talk about fiscal responsibility, they mean it. Well, they want you to believe they do. But then they unveiled this huge spending bill and all claims were gone.

Democrats have unveiled a massive spending bill combining the budgets of 13 Cabinet agencies with increases in aid for lower-income college students, while cutting President Bush's funding requests for foreign aid and closing military bases.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Tuesday slammed Democrats' plans to advance the huge $463.5 billion measure through the House on Wednesday without giving Republicans or rank and file Democrats a chance to offer changes in an Appropriations Committee session or on the floor.

Most lawmakers — and the public — were to get their first chances to read the budget tome Tuesday, barely a day before the House was supposed to vote it up or down.

"If we're going to spend $463 billion of the taxpayers' funds, we ought to have more than an hours' worth of debate, Boehner said. "And maybe the (Democratic) majority ought to let Democrats and Republicans offer amendments."

But Democrats such as Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin had little sympathy, saying Republicans wouldn't make tough budget choices before the election and didn't try to clean up the mess afterward in a lame duck session.

Weren't Democrats the ones claiming there was going to be a spirit of integrity, civility, and bipartisanship in this Congress? Oh, yeah! They were:
"It's about the issues that are relevant to the American people's lives. It's a new direction. It's what they sent us here to do," (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi said.

"And we will do it, first and foremost, by making this the most honest and open Congress, in a spirit of integrity, of civility and bipartisanship, and in a way that is fiscally sound."

Well, we already know how long Democrat civility lasts because we've had so many examples of it I'm starting a new category for 'em.

But weren't the Democrats also the ones complaining that they were shut out of the decision-making process? Why, yes, they were!
Ever since the 2002 elections, Democrats have struggled for a unifying message to rally their troops, at least on Capitol Hill. The war and the economy didn't do it fully; too much division within Democratic ranks. But abuse of majority power is something all minority Democrats can agree on, and Friday's events opened a new opportunity to amplify what they believe is a valid complaint.

Democrats lost no time in making it. E-mails alerted journalists to rush to the disputed library in the Longworth House Office Building. Later in the afternoon, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi invoked a rarely used parliamentary device to force a debate on the House floor over the actions of chairman Bill Thomas (R) of California. The debate pulled out all the rhetorical stops: Rep. Robert Menendez (D) of New Jersey compared the incident to what happens in police states that Hispanic refugees flee. Rep. John Lewis (D) of Georgia recalled facing dogs, arrest, and jail as a civil rights activist in the 1960s.

What was the Democrat complaint? That there was no debate on the budget. Hell, Pete Stark of California was so mad, he compared the Republicans to fascists (not like the Bush = Hitler analogy was new then or now):
Mr. Chairman, there are some of us who remember this world in the 1930s, when Hitler suspended the Bundestag to promulgate conservative ideology and not let people speak. It is a shame that the Republicans in the House, Mr. Chairman, have taken up that same ideology and are denying a chance for debate and open discussion of a budget. It does smack of fascism...

Is Petey gonna call the Democrats fascists now?

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Seen This Anywhere Before?

Europe Resists U.S. Push to Curb Iran Ties reads the headline.

European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies, officials on both sides say. The resistance threatens to open a new rift between Europe and the United States over Iran.

Administration officials say a new American drive to reduce exports to Iran and cut off its financial transactions is intended to further isolate Iran commercially amid the first signs that global pressure has hurt Iran’s oil production and its economy. There are also reports of rising political dissent in Iran.

I'm thinking that we should start applying that favorite strategy from childhood: reverse psychology. Let's just tell the Europeans that we love Iran and we fully support their mullahocracy. That will make the Europeans shun them for sure!

Interesting Church/State Question

Get Religion has an interesting post on the controversy surrounding the removal of a cross from the Wren Chapel at William & Mary.

I wrote about the tug-of-war over the cross in this post a while back. My main irritation with the removal of the cross was its historical place at what was originally a religious school. It seemed strange to me that Christian symbols should not be tolerated at a school originally founded as a religious one, which is now a public one.

Terry Mattingly has an interesting question about the controversy:

Why have a cross in a multi-faith, state-funded chapel?

It's a good question and an angle I hadn't thought about before. Mattingly points out that the school doesn't have any other chapel, so students of other faiths must use the Wren Chapel if they wish to hold services.

Commenters there give some interesting responses, ranging from "if they want religious services, build their own chapel" to "students should be able to attend university without religious influence." I'm not so sure I agree with either sentiment.

Because it is a public university, virtually all facilities are supposed to be open to all students. That just makes sense, just as it makes sense for all student organizations to get money from the university if any do. In this sense, it is offensive for anyone to try to exclude students from some space because of their religious faith.

On the other hand, it seems silly to me that someone would attend a school with a religious history and not expect to have to "deal with religion." If you don't want to deal with religion, go to a big, public university that has always been that way. There are plenty of fine secular institutions that have no religious history to deal with. It makes no sense to go to a place with religious ties and then complain about those ties.

So, to answer Mattingly's question, I'm not sure there is a legal reason for keeping the cross in the Wren Chapel once the institution went public. Making the cross removable makes the space more inviting to all students.

I complained about the influence of Sandra Day O'Connor on the decision, but after looking at Mattingly's argument, I think I've changed my mind and agree with the school's decision.

Ginsburg Dislikes Being Supreme Court's Only Woman

According to this article,

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she dislikes being "all alone on the Court" nearly a year after the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor.

Ginsburg, who spoke Friday to an assembly at Suffolk Law School, said she sees more women in law school, arguing before the Court and sitting as federal judges. But there is not enough female perspective on the nine-member high court, she said.

"We have very different backgrounds," Ginsburg said of herself and O'Connor. "We divide on a lot of important questions, but we have had the experience of growing up women and we have certain sensitivities that our male colleagues lack."

I suppose if it is really problematic for her, she could resign and give President Bush another opportunity to appoint a new justice. But somehow, I doubt she will do that.

You never hear Clarence Thomas whine about being the only black person on the court. I wonder why that is?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Vote for Hillary Because She's a Victim?

That's sort of the impression you get from Linda Hirshman's article on Hillary Clinton's run for the White House.

Hillary Rodham Clinton sure got it right when she announced her candidacy for president while sitting on her living room couch. Her success may very well turn on the decisions of millions of women sitting on their living room couches.

Clinton advisers James Carville and Mark Penn have said they're counting on a women's vote (the "X factor") to catapult their client into the White House. They're obviously hoping that a female candidate will get much more support from women and are banking on the "gender gap," the idea, trumpeted by the media and women's organizations, that women believe in liberal policies and will therefore, as rational political actors, support the Democratic Party.

But I have news for Messrs. Carville and Penn: All the gender gap talk notwithstanding, there's no guarantee that Clinton would receive enough votes from women to be elected. I've studied women and women's politics for 20 years, and if there's one thing I know, it's that, except for possibly once in 1996, female voters have not by themselves put anyone in the White House.

I despise anyone who tries to pigeonhole me just because I'm a woman. It's absolutely insulting to hear people say that women will vote for Hillary because she's a woman. Yet, it's equally insulting to hear that women won't vote for Hillary because we see her as competition.

Competition?! Competition for what? Most dysfunctional marriage ever displayed in the White House? Dumbest supposedly smart woman for insulting stay-at-home mothers? Most cynical use of her sex during her debate with Rick Lazio.
LAZIO: Yeah, I'd be happy to. But I want you to be the - I want to get it done right now. I don't want any more wriggle room. I don't want any more evasion. The truth is, Tim, is that Mrs. Clinton has been airing millions of dollars in soft-money ads. It's the height of hypocrisy to talk about soft money when she's been raising soft money by the bucketloads out in Hollywood and spending all that money on negative advertising. Height of hypocrisy. Let's just get this deal done right now.

RUSSERT: Can I give Mrs. Clinton?

LAZIO: Right here, here it is. Let's sign it. It's - it's the New York Freedom of Soft Money Pact. I signed it. We can - we can both sit down together. We can all get all the media in here. We will make sure it's an ironclad deal. And - and I'm - I'm happy to - to abide by anything that we all agree on. But let's get it done now. Let's not get any more wriggle room.

RUSSERT: Mrs. Clinton, do you want to respond?

CLINTON: Well, yes, I certainly do. You know, I - I - I - I admire that. That was a wonderful performance and I -

LAZIO: Well, why don't you just sign it?

CLINTON: And you - and you did it very well.

LAZIO: I'm not asking you to admire it. I'm asking you to sign it.

CLINTON: Well, I would be happy to when you give me the signed letters -

LAZIO: Well, right here. Right here.

CLINTON: When you give me -

LAZIO: Right here, sign it right now.

CLINTON: Well - well, we'll shake - we'll shake on this -

LAZIO: No, no, I want your signature. Because I think that everybody wants to see you signing something that you said you were for. I'm for it. I haven't done it. You've been violating it. Why don't you stand up and do something - do something important for America? While America is looking at New York, why don't you show some leadership because it goes to trust and character.

CLINTON: And - and this new radio ad from the Republican Party using soft money is not part of your campaign.

LAZIO: Oh, well, what are we talking about here? No, let's just put things in perspective.

RUSSERT: We - we are - we are out of time. We have to go out -

LAZIO: Six - six - six, seven, eight million dollars that you've been spending.

RUSSERT: We have to allow - we have to allow time for closing statements.

Yes, indeed, Tim. Make sure there's time for closing statements when Lazio had Hillary on the ropes because she wasn't about to sign anything until she determined what the definition of "is" is (I'm sure Lazio was part of the vast right-wing conspiracy).

I lost any remaining respect for Hillary that day, watching her try to look wide-eyed and shocked--shocked! that Lazio would try to make her put her signature on something she said she was in favor of. Why she practically got the vapors.

According to Hirshman, this is actually the sort of thing that should make us want to vote for Hillary.
[S]he has had the soap opera story of the century with that charismatic, faithless husband. This has made her suffer, something one of the Wednesday women specifically singled out as a reason to support a candidate. Will she be willing to open that old wound to convince potential female supporters that her policies, such as universal child health care, arise out of her concern for women like them, rather than being just the usual liberal agenda?

So, now we're supposed to vote for Hillary because she's a woman who's done been wronged and women are too stupid to decide who they want to vote for based on anything rational? Are they this insulting to racial minorities, or is this the tone we get in the estrogen-heavy halls of Congress these days?

But, of course, Democrats Expect Civility

...regardless of their behavior (see here,here,here,here, and here).

Evidently Dems got the vapors because President Bush called them the Democrat Party.

This one has gotten a little ic-ky for the White House. President Bush said Monday he wasn't trying to disparage the party now running Congress by referring to it as the "Democrat majority," as opposed to the "Democratic majority," in his State of the Union speech.

"That was an oversight," Bush said in an interview with National Public Radio. "I mean, I'm not trying to needle."

Bush's dropping of the "ic" at the end of the word prompted grumbling by Democrats that he purposely got their name wrong.

This is not a new charge. President Reagan used to refer to the "Democrat Party." Democratic leaders have long considered it demeaning when their suffix is omitted, and some of them figured it was no accident in a speech as highly choreographed and rehearsed as Bush's State of the Union.

Bush said he wasn't even aware that he had done it.

I'm not the least bit surprised they get upset when we call them what they are. I mean, they don't like being called "liberals," either.

Like a Cat...

Air America has a new life.

Air America Radio, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since October, will be rescued at the 11th hour by Manhattan real estate developer Stephen L. Green.

Al Franken, the best-known host of the liberal network, will announce his expected departure on his show later today, to explore a run for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota.

I'm not sure what Air America will have to offer without Al Franken. I thought he was the whole network, but then, we don't get Air America here.

Dana has more on the story, complete with comments from the Huffington Post story (I just love comments at moonbat sites. You learn more about them from the comments than from the stories).

Democrat Ethics on Display

Via Brothers Judd, Dems are already breaking the law.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two other prominent Democrats have failed to disclose they are officers of family charities, in violation of a law requiring members of Congress to report non-profit leadership roles.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana also did not report they serve as family foundation directors, according to financial disclosure reports examined by USA TODAY.

All three foundations are funded and controlled by the lawmakers and their spouses, and do not solicit donations from outside sources.

Naturally, they are claiming it was an "oversight."
Members of Congress and top executive branch officials are required to file yearly reports on their personal finances, including any positions they hold with businesses or non-profits. At least 16 other lawmakers from both parties have reported holding similar positions, records show...

Pelosi and other Democrats made ethics and greater transparency of how they do business a top priority in the 2006 elections. When the Democratic-controlled Congress convened Jan. 4, the House changed its ethics rules but did not specifically address financial disclosure forms.

"Political correctness, not Christianity, provides the true moral foundation of American society in the 21st century."

So says Mike S. Adams in his column.

It's not hard to see how political correctness has run amok in our society to the point where virtually every word can have some negative or offensive connotation. Adams goes on to prove it by asking his class to give him a list of words they believe should be banned. The list is both random and predictable, but all of it is hilarious and worth a read.

Healthcare Revolution

President Bush's proposal to make health insurance over $15,000 taxable (and for everyone to get a tax deduction for the first $15,000 of coverage) has rankled more than a few liberals while leaving most everyone else scratching their heads.

This isn't surprising since most of us don't even think about healthcare until something goes wrong and we end up in the E.R. or we're sick and need to see a doctor. And almost none of us worry about insurance unless we don't have it or are about to lose it.

From personal experience, I can say that insurance is a complete racket designed to insure almost exclusively the people who won't be using its services. Don't even try to get insurance if you've had any kind of cancer, even the most treatable kind. You will be blacklisted. Heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol? The same thing. Now it is at the point where you will be subjected to higher premiums simply for being overweight even if you have no negative health symptoms.

Jeff Jacoby has a column that hails the president's initiative as a way of forcing all of us to think more about health insurance and make more of our own decisions. The theory is that if everybody is buying health insurance, the industry will have to offer better, cheaper plans to keep clients.

I'm a little skeptical of this, not because I haven't seen competition work in other areas, but because I think most people are too lazy to actually look for their own insurance or take more common costs (like doctor's visits) on themselves. Are people really willing to pay for their own doctor's visits in a cheaper health plan if they can get their employer to pay it all now? I'm not convinced most people would want to do this.

One Man, One Vote

"One man, one vote"--a concept I love to say because not using the more politically correct "person" drives the moonbats crazy--is the bedrock of the Constitution.

Of course, as George Will points out, the Democrats don't let a little thing like the plain language of the Constitution stand in their way. In this case, it involves giving voting rights in the House of Representatives to Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico when the House is sitting as "the Committee of the Whole."

If these five votes decide the outcome of a vote in the Committee of the Whole, the matter at issue will be automatically revoted by the full House without those five participating. Still, these five faux members will have powers equal to those of real members on everything but final passage of bills, which often is more perfunctory than the process that leads to that. Almost always, all five delegates are Democrats. (Puerto Rico's current resident commissioner is the first Republican in 100 years.)

So, what's the harm? Well, the Constitution clearly designates this responsibility to representatives of "the several States," and by giving voting rights to non-States, it dilutes the power of the real representatives.
Members of Congress today represent, on average, 687,000 people. The population of Guam is 171,000; of American Samoa, 58,000; and of the Virgin Islands, 109,000. The 3.9 million Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and have the right to vote for statehood, which they have rejected in three plebiscites (1967, 1993, 1998).

The 58,000 Samoans pay no federal income taxes, but their delegate will be able to participate in raising the taxes of, say, Montanans. Samoa's delegate will have virtually the same power as Rep. Denny Rehberg, who represents all 944,000 Montanans. Obviously the Democrats' reverence for the principle "one person, one vote" is, well, situational.

Obviously, Democrats don't mind this breech of the Constitution because the areas in question vote Democrat. I wonder if they would be as nonchalant about the Constitution if these delegates were Republicans?

10 Myths of the Iraq War

Excellent post here on 10 myths of the Iraq War. Here's a sample:

1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Several hundred chemical weapons were found, and Saddam had all his WMD scientists and technicians ready. Just end the sanctions and add money, and the weapons would be back in production within a year. At the time of the invasion, all intelligence agencies, world-wide, believed Saddam still had a functioning WMD program. Saddam had shut them down because of the cost, but created the illusion that the program was still operating in order to fool the Iranians. The Iranians wanted revenge on Saddam because of the Iraq invasion of Iran in 1980, and the eight year war that followed.

2-The 2003 Invasion was Illegal. Only according to some in the UN. By that standard, the invasion of Kosovo and bombing of Serbia in 1999 was also illegal. Saddam was already at war with the U.S. and Britain, because Iraq had not carried out the terms of the 1991 ceasefire, and was trying to shoot down coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone.

3-Sanctions were working. The sanctions worked for Saddam, not for Iraq. Saddam used the sanctions as an excuse to punish the Shia majority for their 1991 uprising, and help prevent a new one. The "Oil For Food" program was corrupted with the help of bribed UN officials, and mass media outlets that believed Iraqi propaganda. Saddam was waiting out the sanctions, and bribing France, Russia and China, with promises of oil contracts and debt repayments, to convince the UN to lift the sanctions.

The rest of the list is equally impressive and contains arguments for our liberal friends who argue how we've "lost" the war and that Iraqis were better off under Saddam.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lieberman Wants to Back Best Candidate

Ok, that's not what you're going to see anywhere else about Joe Lieberman saying he might back a Republican candidate in 2008. But that's basically what he was saying.

"I'm going to do what most independents and a lot of Democrats and Republicans in America do, which is to take a look at all the candidates and then in the end, regardless of party, decide who I think will be best for the future of our country," Lieberman said Sunday.

"So I'm open to supporting a Democrat, Republican or even an Independent, if there's a strong one. Stay tuned," said the three-term lawmaker who caucuses with Senate Democrats.

Lieberman got kicked out by the party faithful in the 2006 primaries because he didn't flip-flop on the war. He won his seat as an independent and--gosh!--it sounds like he intends to behave like one.

Frankly, I see no reason for Lieberman to behave any other way. Democrats were despicable about him leading up to the fall elections (including some racist remarks), so why should he be beholden to them? The guy has a 66% liberal voting record, so he isn't gonna turn into a neocon any time soon. I realize that's a far lower score than, say Barbara J. Lee, Pete Stark, or Jan Schakowsky, but he's no Pete Sessions, either.

More Than a Mom

Lisa Nuss at Women's eNews is a bit offended at the language used to describe Grandma Mimi Pelosi and "I Ain't No Tammy Wynette" Clinton.

In her first appearance as a formally declared presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton made the case for children's health insurance. During the event she held the hand of a small girl and kids squirmed in the audience.

The maternal atmosphere recalled a similar recent debut by Nancy Pelosi, when she took up the hammer as Speaker of the House surrounded by swarms of children. The day before, the New York Times ran a photo of her hugging a co-worker's child. A week later the San Francisco Chronicle ran a front page picture with Pelosi sitting next to her granddaughter...

While this nurturing emphasis may win Clinton and Pelosi some publicity points no one should think the media response to this is entirely benign or that it doesn't contribute to a public perception gap about which gender is better left in charge of the children and which with the legislative agenda.

After Nancy Pelosi's historic election as Speaker of the House, the Washington Post described her as a "grandmother of five."

The Post didn't refer to her as a "20-year veteran of Congress," which probably had more to do with her election.

Meanwhile, the Post described Harry Reid, the new Senate leader, as the "son of a hard-rock miner" with no mention of Reid's 16 grandchildren.

Nuss goes on to compare the descriptions of Pelosi and Clinton to other male colleagues. The men are typically described by their career choices or other masculine-sounding adjectives, while the women are described by their roles as wives and mothers.

I object to this dichotomy, as well (see here for an example). My problem with Nuss's premise is that the "we love our children and they define us" label is coming directly from Pelosi and Clinton themselves. It isn't merely that the press is describing Pelosi as grandmother of five, but Nancy describes herself this way. There are plenty of press examples of it (see here, here, and here for examples), but mainly the "grandmother of five" shtick is trotted out by Nancy herself (which is why I identify her as "Grandma Mimi").

It is true that identifying oneself by one's family relations is a new tactic in Washington and it will certainly get one noticed. But is it really going to get Hillary elected president if she is seen holding coffee klatches?

I'm not sure. Hillary is in the worst position a woman candidate could be in. She has a well-publicized philandering impeached husband, she insulted cookie-baking moms in America back in 1992 with her "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas" statement, and sneered at the idea of standing by your man. She came to Washington determined to show an intelligent, career-driven woman could be First Lady, but earned a lot of derision for it.

When she went to the Senate, Clinton has flip-flopped on issues trying to appeal to a variety of constituents from military families to feminists to women and children. Now she wants to convince Americans she's really a nice, smart lady who loves kids. I'm just not sure America will buy it. I think it's insulting to feminists who admire her career and intelligence and it's insulting to Americans with traditional values who don't believe she didn't know about Monica Lewinsky.

In any event, Nuss is right that it's a bit insulting for Pelosi and Clinton to constantly be described as moms and grandmothers. But they brought this on themselves.

They Can't Indict Cheney, So Just Smear Him Instead

I discussed Catherine Martin's testimony on the first day of the Scooter Libby trial in this post the other day. Now, Patterico has more on her testimony from the L.A. Times story that is trying very hard to make people believe it was Vice President Dick Cheney who leaked Plame's name to the press.

For the record, it was Richard Armitage who leaked Plame's name. But that doesn't stop the L.A. Times from doing everything in its power to give the impression it was Cheney and his staff who did the leaking.

First there is the headline: Cheney's Key Role in Leak Case Detailed. Then there are sentences like these:

Cheney dictated detailed “talking points” for his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and others on how they could impugn the critic’s credibility, said Catherine J. Martin, who was the vice president’s top press aide at the time.

Libby is on trial on charges of obstructing an investigation into how the name of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, became public. The government says her identity emerged in conversations Libby had with several reporters. It is illegal to knowingly divulge the name of a CIA employee.

As Patterico points out, it is only illegal to knowingly divulge the name of a covert CIA employee. Which Valerie Plame was not.

As I pointed out the other day, it is nothing new for an entity (be it corporate or governmental) to try to "spin" news in a way that is favorable to it. I would have been more surprised had there been no plan to attack lyin' Joe Wilson's lyin' account of his trip to Niger.

But the main point is that it wasn't Scooter Libby or Cathie Martin or Dick Cheney or anybody else in the V.P.'s office who leaked Plame's name. It was Richard Armitage.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the MSM to get this one right. They're too invested in smearing the vice president to bother with inconvenient truths.

"Let the American forces stay until we can hold Iraq together. Then we will have a party when American forces go.”

That's a quote from Sheik Sattar Bazeaa Fatikhan, who is helping American forces in Ramadi. (Via Patterico's Pontifications)

Patterico had the story six weeks ago from Teflon Don's blog. The Los Angeles Times is now playing catch-up with the story. And it is a fascinating one.

After Sunni insurgents killed his father and four of his brothers last year, Fatikhan declared war against the insurgency.

He convened a summit of about a dozen prominent sheiks. From that meeting came a document called “The Awakening,” in which Fatikhan persuaded all but one sheik to join him in opposition to the insurgency.

The sheiks pledged to encourage young men to join the police force and even the Shiite-led army. The document states that killing an American is the same as killing a member of their tribes. Since the gathering, Fatikhan said, the sheiks have “eliminated” a number of insurgents.

U.S. officials regularly visit Fatikhan, seeking his counsel, showing him the kind of deference one might expect for a leading government official...

Fatikhan ordered his followers to “adopt” the U.S. Army’s liaison to the tribes and give him an Arabic name, Wissam, which means warrior. After the officer, Capt. Travis Patriquin, was killed by a roadside bomb, the sheik ordered that one of the new police stations be named in his honor.

It makes sense to me that we would use any help we can get with combatting the insurgents and stopping the violence. But the government didn't want us working with anyone outside the provisional government (presumably to give it legitimacy).

This, of course, worked about as well as not allowing CIA agents to work with informers who had criminal backgrounds. That bad guys would have a better idea what other bad guys were doing was a minor point to those wanting to keep their hands pristine. And until 9/11, that was our official policy: keep it clean. I'm hoping that the work with this sheik could spread to other areas to quell the violence.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What Makes a Course Acceptable in College?

There's a new battle breaking out in the culture wars between universities and Christian schools: which courses qualify for credit? (via Pandagon).

In a small room at the University of California's headquarters in downtown Oakland, UC counsel Christopher Patti sat beside a stack of textbooks proposed for use by Calvary Chapel Christian School in Riverside County -- books UC rejected as failing to meet freshmen admission requirements.

Biology and physics textbooks from Christian publishers were found wanting, as were three Calvary humanities courses.

"The university is not telling these schools what they can and can't teach," Patti said. "What the university is doing is simply establishing what is and is not its entrance requirements. It's really a case of the university's ability to set its own admission standards. The university has no quarrel with Christian schools."

I'm not sure that's exactly true, at least from the perspective of Christians. Most of us have run into college courses which, if not blatantly anti-Christian, certainly forced students to question Christian tenets and beliefs or ridiculed various aspects of Christianity, often without any balancing views presented. I sat in an astronomy class where a professor told the 500 students in attendance that "anyone who thought life began at conception was stupid." I dropped the course shortly after that, considering that the professor had other, shall we say, dubious distinctions from his past.

In any event, the Association of Christian Schools International disagrees with the University of California and is suing them for religious bias.
Unlike recent court cases...the suit against UC does not pit Darwinism against creationism and its intellectual offspring. Rather, by focusing on courses that Calvary Chapel planned to offer this fall -- in English, history and social studies -- courses that were turned down by UC, it sets competing interpretations of academic merit against each other.

"The university is in a way firing a shot over the bow," said Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., "saying to Christian schools that they may have gotten away with this in the past, but no more. And that will have a chilling effect across the country."

In its suit, the association and its co-plaintiffs objected "to government officials ... dictating and censoring the viewpoints that may and may not be taught ... (in) private schools. ... (They) have rejected textbooks and courses based on a viewpoint of religious faith, for the first time in the University of California's history." The rejections, the suit asserted, "violate the freedom of speech of Christian schools, students and teachers."

The suit is being allowed to proceed against the individual defendants in their official capacities, but not against the state directly because of sovereign immunity (basically, you can only sue the state if it okays it).

The case revolves around English and Social Studies courses which the University of California has rejected as "inadequate" because they were "Lacking necessary course information," and "Insufficient academic/theoritical [sic] content."
Among the courses turned down were a history class, "Christianity's Influence on America"; a social studies class, "Special Providence: Christianity and the American Republic"; and, most contentiously, an English course, "Christianity and Morality in American Literature." None is being taught because of the dispute.

The argument being made by ACSI is an interesting one.
This case is a legal challenge to viewpoint discrimination and content regulation of nonpublic schools’ speech, by the State of California through the University of California. The central issue is whether a state my require not just that particular subjects be taught, such as four years of English, but whether the state may allow some viewpoints and penalize other viewpoints, whatever they may be, in nearly all subject areas. Here, UC has asserted the power to approve or reject history and social studies courses based on whether they teach solely majority viewpoints, or also add minority viewpoints:

The content of the course outline submitted for approval is not consistent with the empirical historical knowledge generally accepted in the collegiate community.

UC has done the same toward science, in rejecting biology courses that present evolution and add religious viewpoints too:

The content of the course outlines submitted for approval is not consistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.

Regarding these allegations, the Court, in ruling on the motion to dismiss stated:

Viewing Plaintiffs’ allegations in light most favorable to Plaintiffs, as the Court must, the Court determines that Plaintiffs have sated a valid free exercise claim. Plaintiffs have adequately shown that they have been put to the choice between providing and taking courses that promote a biblical moral view or complying with the UC’s a-g course requirements.

It's interesting that ACSI is attacking the rejections in areas not science-related. It seems to me that it is a much easier argument to make that this is viewpoint discrimination when you are talking about an English class rather than a biology class.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle article,
In their suit, the schools argue that UC has accepted courses in "The Jewish Experience" and Islam, and also allowed courses in "Military History and Philosophy," "Gender, Sexuality and Identity in Literature" and "Children's Literature." These acceptances, they claimed, undercut the university's rationale in rejecting Calvary's history course as "too narrow/too specialized."...

(I)n a court filing, the Christian schools replied that, "UC would not dare to claim there was no constitutional violation if it rejected courses because of their African American, or Latino heritage, or feminist or environmentalist perspective." And on its Web site, the Christian schools group says, "It's wrong to discriminate against Christians, essentially foreclosing opportunities at State Universities."

It would be interesting to see the texts involved in the courses and compare them to other university textbooks. One of the U of C's objections was reliance on an anthology for one class versus reading the full texts. I'm not sure exactly why an anthology would be considered "not appropriate." Virtually every English course I took in college used an anthology, including a 17th century British lit course. There are times that an anthology makes it easier to get through more materials and introduce more authors and works to students. It seems like a flimsy excuse to me.

The case is still pending, but it will be interesting to see how it works itself through the system. Obviously, a victory by ACSI would give a boost to Christian schools wanting to teach students from that perspective. A victory by the university system would have a chilling effect on academic freedom among Christian schools, given that the California system has more college students than any other.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

UPDATE: Mary, in the comments over at CSPT makes some very good arguments for why the courses might have been rejected.

Why Can't They Answer a Simple Question?

I've been watching the comments over at Common Sense Political Thought to this post by me. The results, sad though they are, are not surprising.

The post (I also posted it here), is about a Fox News poll that asked the simple question Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?

For more than 100 posts, the trolls on that site have bent themselves into pretzels not to answer it.

It's sad, really, when a person can't answer a simple question either "yes" or "no," but I shouldn't be surprised by now that our friends on the Left can't bring themselves to agree with any policy from conservatives. As Nick Cohen said in an article I discussed at this post, the Left's reflexive anti-Americanism trumps any of the traditional liberal positions such as opposition to fascism. Nowhere have I seen such dogged determination to cling to that anti-Americanism as was displayed in that post.

I (and others) asked repeatedly for the trolls to answer the question. Time and again, they responded that the war was already "lost" and therefore it was a "stupid question." It's strange to me that they couldn't give a simple answer to a "stupid question" but chose instead to try to change the subject at every turn.

I knew this would happen, of course, because I've seen it before. Specifically, there was this post at Patterico's Pontifications that convinced me of the dishonesty of the left. The question posed: Who is the bigger enemy? Osama bin Laden? Or George W. Bush?

Amazingly, there were a number of trolls there who simply couldn't bring themselves to say that Osama bin Laden was the bigger enemy (Aphrael was one of the few who did).

Let me make this clear: there are times I disagree with American policy, both domestic and foreign. Sometimes I think it is politically wrong. Sometimes I think it is morally wrong. Sometimes I think it is legally wrong. But at no time would I ever hesitate to state that Osama bin Laden is the bigger enemy and that I want the U.S. to win in Iraq.

And it wasn't even painful.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Do They Want to Quote These Polls?

According to this story, a CBS News polls say 68% of Americans would like to see greater restrictions on access to abortion.

According to a poll by CBS News, 68% believe there should be restrictions on abortion, while 31% believe it should be permitted in all cases. The poll interviewed 1,168 American adults and has a 3% margin of error.

Of those in favour of greater restrictions, 30% believe abortion should be permitted only in cases such
as rape, incest and to save the woman’s life, 12% say just to save a woman’s life, and 5% say not at all.

Wonder if the left will believe that poll.

They Want It Both Ways

Dana at CSPT has an interesting post about the Democrat will to cut and run. His point: it isn't in the Democrats' interest to leave Iraq because then they can't use it as a campaign issue in '08.

Tas at Liberal Avenger is hopping mad that--gasp again!--Democrats are behaving like politicians. That is, they made a bunch of campaing promises they have no intention of keeping.

I can understand tas's frustration. If I had voted for someone expecting them to keep their promises and living up to their party platform, I'd be a little pissed off, as well. Oh, wait. I did do that. And yes, I was pretty pissed off when the Republicans started behaving like politicians, too.

The thing to keep in mind is that it's all politics for these people. Try to figure out how a particular issue will work to the party's advantage and it becomes easier to understand what the politicians are doing.

Take the minimum wage flap. As Dana notes in this post, the Democrats could have had the exact same raise in the minimum wage last year...if they could stomach approving an end to the death tax. But Democrats know which side of the bread they put butter on and it was way more important to demagogue the death tax issue rather than raise the minimum wage for all those poor people they are so concerned about.

Now that Republicans are in the minority, they have absolutely no power to do anything in the House, as Rush Limbaugh has pointed out. Unlike Republicans in the last session, Democrats aren't interested in sharing any power whatsoever with the minority. And without affirmative action by the Democrats in the House, the Republicans can't do anything at all there to alter or block legislation.

This isn't true in the Senate where Republicans can raise Ted Kennedy's blood pressure to dangerous levels every day for the next two years because Republicans can filibuster. It's a wonderful mechanism our Founding Fathers created, and I am hopeful the Republicans will remember how to use it effectively.

Memo to Congress: The President is the Commander-in-Chief

I posted a day or two ago about the fact that Congress has no Constitutional power to direct a war. That the president continues to act as though he is Commander-in-Chief seems to bother some people (also see here, here, and here).

It's no wonder Grandma Mimi Pelosi and Harry Reid have their panties in a wad. The president determined to actually be CiC instead of letting them cut and run. The Constitution only gives Congress two powers: authorization of war (which they did in 2003) and funding.

The Democrats dare not defund the troops for fear of appearing to loathe the military, a characterization that dates from their active anti-war antics during the Vietnam War. It's laughable watching them present non-binding resolution after non-binding resolution when they could do something but are afraid to.

This won't play well with their angry lefty base. But just like watching Ted Kennedy come unglued on the floor of the Senate, it is great fun to watch.

News Flash: White House Communications People Try to Manage News

I assume Dana Milbank has been a reporter in Washington for more years than I worked in journalism (which was about 12 or so). That's why I'm so surprised at this piece in the Washington Post covering the Scooter Libby trial.

It's obvious prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who is doing his best to turn a sow's ear into a really big sow's ear, is trying to circumvent the legal system of our country by tarring Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney without actually indicting them or calling them unindicted co-conspirators. I guess if you don't have a real case to argue, you do the best you can with what you have.

And what Fitzpatrick has is Libby.

Milbank's story about the testimony of former Vice Presidential communications director Cathie Martin is rather pathetic and naive. Or maybe he (and Fitzgerald) just think the public are.

Why do I say that? Because Milbank seems shocked--shocked!--that the vice president's office would try to put the best face on news events or cut off bad spin by Democrats and others at the knees.

There's this passage:

It is unclear whether the first week of the trial will help or hurt Libby or the administration. But the trial has already pulled back the curtain on the White House's PR techniques and confirmed some of the darkest suspicions of the reporters upon whom they are used. Relatively junior White House aides run roughshod over members of the president's Cabinet. Bush aides charged with speaking to the public and the media are kept out of the loop on some of the most important issues. And bad news is dumped before the weekend for the sole purpose of burying it.

It is a bad thing when the people charged with communicating with the press are kept out of the loop, but this isn't the first administration to dump bad news late on Friday afternoon in the hope of burying it. Indeed, this is a well-known tactic.

During the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, bank regulators were notorious for waiting until 6 p.m. or so before releasing the bad news about which S&Ls were being taken over. But Milbank's story makes this sound like an original (and nefarious) plot concocted by the evil Vice President Cheney and his secondhand stooge, Karl Rove.

Then there was this:
At length, Martin explained how she, Libby and deputy national security adviser Steve Hadley worked late into the night writing a statement to be issued by George Tenet in 2004 in which the CIA boss would take blame for the bogus claim in Bush's State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Africa.

I realize Milbank swallowed whole the lie of the left about what President Bush actually said, but for those whose reading skills are sub-par (hi, Phoenician!) I'll say it plainly: President Bush was stating what the British government said it had learned (and a claim backed by other sources). One can't blame Milbank for trying to peddle this lie again--oh, wait. Yes, one can.

But wait! There's more:
But Martin, encouraged by Libby, secretly advised Libby and Cheney on how to respond. She put "Meet the Press" at the top of her list of "Options" but noted that it might appear "too defensive." Next, she proposed "leak to Sanger-Pincus-newsmags. Sit down and give to him." This meant that the "no-leak" White House would give the story to the New York Times' David Sanger, The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, or Time or Newsweek. Option 3: "Press conference -- Condi/Rumsfeld." Option 4: "Op-ed."

Martin was embarrassed about the "leak" option; the case, after all, is about a leak. "It's a term of art," she said. "If you give it to one reporter, they're likelier to write the story."

I'm not sure what Fitzgerald's point is in bringing Martin's testimony in here. That the White House tried to spin issues in ways it favored? That's not new, nor is it illegal. It's not even unethical, at least, not since Bill Clinton's administration. How can anyone complain about spin doctors after eight years of that?

Welcome to Washington, Mr. Kennedy (Or Democrat Civility on Display, Part 3)

I guess Ted Kennedy has just figured out how politics work in Washington. At least, how it works when you are the minority in the Senate.

Kennedy threw a delicious temper tantrum on the Senate floor because Republicans in the minority are acting like--gasp!--Democrats in the minority acted. That is, bottling up legislation and demanding that their amendments get voted on.

The legislation is the minimum wage bill, that feel-good P.R. release Democrats love even though it will have almost no effect whatsoever on the working poor. Republicans have been filibustering it and tacking on amendments that Democrats tax breaks that will make it easier on small business who will bear the biggest part of the cost of a minimum wage hike.

"We have now had amendments that have been worth over 200 billion dollars… Amendments that have been offered. We've had amendments on education of 35 billion dollars. We've had health-savings amendments that will benefit people with average incomes of $112,000… We've had those kinds of amendments and we're looking at the Kyl amendment at 3 billion dollars. But we still cannot get two dollars and fifteen cents -- over two years. Over two years!

"What is the price, we ask the other side? What is the price that you want from these working men and women? What cost? How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business? How many billion dollars more, are you asking, are you requiring?

It's interesting that Teddy Kennedy, who never worked a day in his life and keeps most of his family money safely tucked in offshore accounts away from the IRS, always whines about the little people. I'd love to see how much Kennedy actually donates of his wealth, how much charity he does, and compare that with the life of Riley he lives.

Yet Kennedy considers anyone making $112k to be rich. I guess that's what happens when you haven't been in the real world in 40 years where two educated people can make that much and certainly wouldn't think they were rich (this isn't even touching the qualifier "average incomes of," which means the tax breaks help people with considerably less). Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to describe it.

Now that I've become the civility police, I particularly loved Kennedy's mask slipping here:
"We don’t want to hear any more from that side for the rest of this session about permitting or not permitting votes in here when you're denying it on the most simple concept of an increase in the minimum wage," said Kennedy. "We don’t want to hear any more about that."

No, I'm sure he doesn't want to hear about blocking debate on legislation. Because that would mean Democrats couldn't ram through stupid enemy morale boosting resolutions. But don't question their patriotism, remember. Now you can't question their promised civility, either.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Turning Point in Baghdad

Nibras Kazimi has a fascinating piece in the New York Sun today on the turnaround in Baghdad.

There has been a flurry of press reports recently about insurgents battling American and Iraqi security forces on Haifa Street in Baghdad, and around the rural town of Buhruz in Diyala Province. These same insurgents also claimed to have shot down a Black Hawk helicopter near Buhruz. At the same time, the Americans and Iraqis are declaring a major victory as evidenced by the increased number of dead or captured militants, and the uncovering of massive weapons caches. So, what is going on?

What needs to be understood is the central role that Al Qaeda — or more accurately its successor organization, a group called the Islamic State of Iraq — is playing on these fronts and the diminishing role of all the other insurgent groups.

The wider Sunni insurgency — the groups beyond Al Qaeda — is being slowly, and surely, defeated. The average insurgent today feels demoralized, disillusioned, and hunted. Those who have not been captured yet are opting for a quieter life outside of Iraq. Al Qaeda continues to grow for the time being as it cannibalizes the other insurgent groups and absorbs their most radical and hardcore fringes into its fold. The Baathists, who had been critical in spurring the initial insurgency, are becoming less and less relevant, and are drifting without a clear purpose following the hanging of their idol, Saddam Hussein. Rounding out this changing landscape is that Al Qaeda itself is getting a serious beating as the Americans improve in intelligence gathering and partner with more reliable Iraqi forces.

In other words, battling the insurgency now essentially means battling Al Qaeda. This is a major accomplishment.

The strategy in any war is to demoralize the enemy enough he will want to stop fighting. Part of the theory behind the surge is an overwhelming number of American troops will cause the insurgients to give up. Kazimi says this is already happening.

My hope is that the turnabout will come soon. My fear is that the Senate's silly cut-and-run resolution will not give our enemies the comfort General David Patraeus warned about.

Deleting God

A rookie censor deleted all references to "God" from the airline version of the movie The Queen.

The rookie censor was told to edit out all profanities _ including any blasphemy _ for the version of the movie distributed to Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Air New Zealand, and other carriers.

So the new censor mistakenly bleeped out each time a character said "God," instead of just when used as part of a profanity, said Jeff Klein, president of Jaguar Distribution, the company that distributed the movie to airlines this month.

"A reference to God is not taboo in any culture that I know of," Klein said. "We excise foul language, excessive violence and nudity."

In-flight viewers of the film at one point heard "(Bleep) bless you, ma'am," as one character spoke to the queen. In all, the word "God" is bleeped seven times in the version.

I feel sorry for the guy. He probably thought searching for "God" would catch any profanity. We've all done search-and-replace functions that didn't work very well.

The company, Jaguar Distribution, has sent out replacement tapes for the airlines.

Finally, Justice

This is the most complete story I've seen so far on the arrest of James Ford Seale in one of the last unsolved crimes of the civil rights era.

The article details the efforts of Thomas James Moore to get justice for the killing of his brother, Charles Eddie Moore, and his friend Hezekiah Dee.

According to this CBS News story,

A white former sheriff's deputy who was once thought to be dead was arrested on federal charges Wednesday in one of the last major unsolved crimes of the civil rights era — the 1964 killings of two black men who were beaten and dumped alive into the Mississippi River.

The break in the 43-year-old case was largely the result of the dogged efforts of the older brother of one of the victims, who vowed to bring the killers to justice.

James Ford Seale, a 71-year-old reputed Ku Klux Klansman from the town of Roxie, was charged with kidnapping hitchhikers Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, both 19.

The victims' weighted, badly decomposed bodies were found by chance two months later in July 1964, during the search for three civil rights workers whose disappearance and deaths in Philadelphia, Miss., got far more attention from the media and the FBI.

Thomas Moore had all but given up on justice for his brother's death. Happening in the same time frame as the "Mississippi Burning" murders of three Northern civil rights workers, the deaths of two black men got lost in the shuffle.
But, consumed by the search for the three missing civil rights workers, the FBI turned the case over to local authorities. And a justice of the peace promptly threw out all charges against Seale and Edwards.

In 2000, the Justice Department re-opened the case, but the wheels of justice turn slowly. It wasn't until Canadian filmmaker David Ridgen became interested in the case and dug up more information and informants that things started to look up.

This case is a sad and shameful episode in our history and I am glad that justice will be done before all the participants have died of old age.

Vice President Cheney on CNN

I love this interview Vice President Dick Cheney did with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

BLITZER: Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good President?

CHENEY: No, I don't.


CHENEY: Because she's a Democrat. I don't agree with her philosophically and from a policy standpoint.

I like the fact that Cheney doesn't pull any punches and just says exactly what he means.
BLITZER: All right, there's a lot of good questions -- let's move on to some other domestic issues. The whole notion of your long- time aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- he's in the papers, his lawyer now suggesting on opening day of the trial that he was basically set up by people in the White House to protect Karl Rove, the President's political aide. What do you make of this?

CHENEY: Now, Wolf, you knew when we set up the interview you can ask all the questions you want, I'm going to be a witness in that trial within a matter of weeks, I'm not going to discuss it. I haven't discussed with anybody in the press yet, I'm not going to discuss it with you today.

BLITZER: Are you -- but you've --

CHENEY: Wolf, you've got my answer. You've got my answer.

Too many people try to be clever in an interview instead of just telling it like it is. "No" means no. Or it used to, anyway.
BLITZER: We're out of time, but a couple of issues I want to raise with you. Your daughter Mary, she's pregnant. All of us are happy. She's going to have a baby. You're going to have another grandchild. Some of the -- some critics, though, are suggesting, for example, a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family:

"Mary Cheney's pregnancy raises the question of what's best for children. Just because it's possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father, doesn't mean it's best for the child."

Do you want to respond to that?

CHENEY: No, I don't.

BLITZER: She's obviously a good daughter --

CHENEY: I'm delighted -- I'm delighted I'm about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf, and obviously think the world of both of my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question.

BLITZER: I think all of us appreciate --

CHENEY: I think you're out of -- I think you're out of line with that question.

BLITZER: -- your daughter. We like your daughters. Believe me, I'm very, very sympathetic to Liz and to Mary. I like them both. That was just a question that's come up and it's a responsible, fair question.

CHENEY: I just fundamentally disagree with your perspective.

Too bad Cheney couldn't say to Blitzer what he said to Patrick Leahy.

"Congress has no Constitutional power to micromanage a war."

That from this op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.

To understand why the Founders put war powers in the hands of the Presidency, look no further than the current spectacle in Congress on Iraq. What we are witnessing is a Federalist Papers illustration of criticism and micromanagement without responsibility.

Yes, indeed. The non-binding resolutions proposed and/or passed by Congress are shameful examples of politicians seeking cover. Most of them voted for the war authorization in 2003 but haven't the stomach to defend it now. With their eyes on the 2008 presidential elections, Democrats and Republicans alike are flip-flopping.

Worse yet, they are hiding behind polls that say Americans are weary of war. And yet the reason Americans are weary of war is because of the haranging of Democrats and the relentless drumbeat of negative stories from the press. When you've had three years of "Bush lied, people died" rhetoric, it becomes harder for people to support our goals. This isn't to excuse the ineptitude and bad behavior (such as Abu Gharib) displayed, but there really isn't any excuse for the same Left that used to decry fascism to oppose liberation. But they do.

Now we have the spectacle of Congress trying to micromanage the war, overstepping their Constitutional prerogatives, and making a mess of things to boot.
Their resolution--which passed 12-9--calls for Iraqis to "reach a political settlement" leading to "reconciliation," as if anyone disagrees with that necessity. But then it declares that the way to accomplish this is to wash American hands of the Iraq effort, proposing that U.S. forces retreat to protect the borders and hunt terrorists. The logic here seems to be that if the Americans leave, Iraqis will miraculously conclude that they have must settle their differences. A kind of reverse field of dreams: If we don't come, they will build it.

The irony is that this is not all that far from the "light footprint" strategy that the Bush Administration was following last year and which these same Senators called a failure. It is precisely the inability to provide security in Baghdad that has led to greater sectarian violence, especially among Shiites victimized by Sunni car bombs. The purpose of the new Bush counterinsurgency strategy is to provide more security to the population in the hopes of making a political settlement easier.

Don't expect the Senators to remember that the strategy they now want is the one they rejected last year. That's old news. New news is that they want out--how fast depends on the Democrat talking--and they want out ASAP.
In addition to being feckless, all of this is unconstitutional. As Commander-in-Chief, the President has the sole Constitutional authority to manage the war effort. Congress has two explicit war powers: It has the power to declare war, which in the case of Iraq it essentially did with its resolution of 2003. It also has the power to appropriate funds.
There is a long and unsettled debate over whether Congress can decide to defund specific military operations once it has created a standing Army. We lean toward those who believe it cannot, but the Founders surely didn't imagine that Congress could start dictating when and where the 101st Airborne could be deployed once a war is under way.

Congress won't cut off funds for the soldiers because it would look bad. But don't expect a little thing like the Constitution to get in the way of them trying to run the war.

"Get Over It."

So says Justice Antonin Scalia about the controversial Bush v. Gore decision which determined the outcome of the 2000 election. According to this article,

Three of the five Supreme Court justices who handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 say they had no choice but to intervene in the Florida recount by deciding against Vice President Al Gore.

Comments from Justice Anthony Kennedy and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor are in a book published this week. Justice Antonin Scalia made his remarks Tuesday at Iona College in New York.

Scalia, answering questions after a speech, also said critics of the 5-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore need to move on six years after the electoral drama of December 2000, when it seemed the whole nation hung in anguish awaiting the outcome of the presidential election.

"It's water over the deck -- get over it," Scalia said, drawing laughs from his audience. His remarks were reported in the Gannett Co. newspaper Journal-News.

Yes, it is, indeed, time to "get over it," but don't expect the moonbats to do so.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Religion in the SOTU Speech

GetReligion has an interesting post on the State of the Union speech last night and President Bush's use of religion.

Liberals have long argued that President Bush uses "code language" that supposedly his evangelical base knows and understands to send them messages. I guess the idea is that he is saying one thing but meaning something entirely different, but only "his people" know the real meaning. Such paranoid delusions give me a headache because life isn't usually as complicated as a Tom Clancy novel. For good measure, I give liberals the same benefit of the doubt when someone on the right jumps to the "code language" argument.

What's interesting about Daniel Pulliam's post is the way he points out how little attention in the U.S. the President's religious language got. In one section of the speech, President Bush talks about radical Shia and Sunni Muslims as essentially being different sides of the same coin. That is, they misuse Islam to support their anti-American goals.

Pulliam points out that only the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler discussed this section of the speech in his article.

In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.

According to Pulliam, this angle of the SOTU speech has created enormous distress overseas, but has barely been mentioned in the American press. It seems to me that lumping all radical muslims under one tent is a common tactic but one that will only lead to greater trouble in the Middle East. After all, there are some who say that much of our problem with the Middle East stems directly from our lack of understanding of their history, culture, and religion. Imagery such as President Bush used is only likely to strain those relations more.

Feminism's Triumph: Exterminating Girls (A Woman's Right to Choose, Part 7)

Ran across this article on feminism's legacy via ifeminists.

I've always thought that the saddest legacy of the rise of radical feminism is the way abortion has been used to reduce the number of girls born in third world countries. It's just mind-boggling to me that advocating for women to "have control over their bodies" has led to sex selection abortions that have cost the lives of literally millions of women.

Feminists like to blame this rapidly-worsening situation on “patriarchy,” but that has been around for thousands of years and is less powerful today than ever before. What is new, is the access to abortion in so many places. And this has long been a paramount goal of feminists: To grant the “right to control her own body” to each woman on Earth via unrestricted abortion. That, combined with falling prices for the ultrasound machines that can reveal an unborn child’s sex, has produced the disastrous situation that the Asian world is in now.

And just how, exactly, are men on the whole supposed to benefit from being unable to find wives? By 2020, 30 million Chinese men of marriageable age are expected to be in that situation because of 30 million “missing” young women. Many historians warn that a large number of unmarried men in a society is a recipe for social unrest and war. The kidnapping of women for forced marriage and prostitution is already increasing exponentially in Asia. This is a disaster for both sexes and society as a whole.

The great experiment of feminism, just 40 years or so old as a social force, has produced this wonder: The ever-growing elimination of more and more girls worldwide. And so far, nothing can stop it. Indeed, from the feminist perspective, how or why should it be stopped? If women have a right to an abortion, why can they not exercise it on the basis of sex selection? Is the abortion her choice, or the government’s?

I rarely see feminists discuss sex selection abortions. Indeed, it's difficult to square one's "right to choose" mantra with women who choose to abort their female babies. The argument usually turns on the idea that these women don't really choose to kill their female babies but are forced to do so because of the "patriarchy." But as the author points out, in cultures like China, where the son takes care of the parents in their old age and a woman marries into a man's family (thus abandoning her own), women are freely choosing to kill their female babies because they are simply less valuable.

If the right to choose trumps all (including logical ideas like parental consent and notification), then why would feminists decry sex selection abortions? It's still a woman's body, right?