Friday, September 28, 2007

Rudy Is Pathetic

Does anyone believe Rudy anymore? Apparently, he had to take that cell phone call from his wife while he was explaining that he believed in gun rights because of 9/11, because of 9/11. He is liar and a panderer, and a megalomaniac. Other than that, he's great. A friend, who is going to vote for Rudy, once told me that he knew Rudy would be tough on terrorists because what other candidate would you want to have next to you if a mugger was approaching. I thought, well I'd rather have Mike Tyson, but he shouldn't be President.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

Update: I forgot to add "shameless."

Michael Medved Said What?

Michael Medved has written one of the more astonishing pieces at Townhall, in which he explains that . . . wait for it . . . slavery wasn't so bad and the United States gets too much blame for having allowed it until the mid-19th Century. I kid you not. There have been good responses to it at Sadly No, and Mahablog (which led me to the column). But to be honest, I think the best reaction is "What the Hell? Are you nuts? What are you smoking? Are you feeling ok? Are you joking? What's gotten into you? Have you lost your mind? When did you last speak to your therapist?"

Conservative SCHIP Response

I sent a link of my earlier SCHIP post to David Freddoso, who contributes to the Corner. I know nothing about him except that he opposes the SCHIP expansion and writes for the National Review. He responded:

I'd say that parents are in charge of their children, and health care is a private choice. If the govt wants to say otherwise, they can start taking children away from bad parents who make the money and won't insure them.

In fact, the parents have to enroll them anyway if they're going to be on SCHIP, it's not like the kids have any say in it anyway.
I was a bit confused by the last sentence, as I thought SCHIP was meant to be an incentive to enroll your children in a health insurance program and I responded:
No matter who is providing the insurance to the children, a private
company or the Government, the parents have to enroll them. But the
question is who pays. Why not make it cheaper for a financially
reluctant parent to get the child (who has does not have what you call
a "private choice") insurance. Obviously, if a parent is going to
take no action to protect his children, the options are limited. I
just wonder what do we say to children who, through no action on
their own part, have no insurance because of financially strapped or
skinflint parents. Sorry? It seems a pretty meager response.
Freddoso had the simplest (and most confusing) response:
I don't want to subsidize bad parenting, that's all.
I think he misuses the term "subsidize" and said:
Actually, subsidizing bad parenting would be paying people not to
insure their children. What SCHIP subsidizes is good parenting; that
is, insuring your children.
His final response was:
Government pays because they won't -- in that sense, you subsidize bad parenting.

What next? Are we going to give parents a food allowance in case they decide not to feed their kids?
Well I think we do the latter in the form of Food Stamps, WIC, and other programs. But anyway, I think Freddoso's final e-mail was a good example of Right Wing thinking about social programs. I am not suggesting the Government should pay because the parents won't; that would be classic Socialist thinking. I am suggesting the Government pay because the children need health care; that is classic social responsibility. No matter what Freddoso thinks, a responsible community ethic encapsulated in a democratically chosen social program is not the first step to the USSR.

And by the way, I looked up "subsidy." The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as "Monetary assistance granted by a government to a person or group in support of an enterprise regarded as being in the public interest." The enterprise the Government is supporting through SCHIP is health care for children - not bad parenting.

Sammon Swimming Upstream II (Part 2)

It was my original intent to write five pieces on the five excerpts from Bill Sammon's new book "The Evangelical President" found in the Washington Examiner - a free, daily, commuter paper in D.C. But after reading all five, I concluded they all share the same inherent quality - no actual journalistic analysis or questioning of anything by Bill Sammon.

The excerpts remind me of a portion of a 1996 speech by Al Franken wherein he discusses Bill Bennett and his "Book of Virtues." In the speech, Franken says:

Would you please, all of you in the press, stop calling him a best-selling author? He is a best-selling compiler. (Scattered laughter.)
Now in fact, I was reading "The Book of Virtues" the other day. It includes George Washington's Rules of Civility, and Rule Number 12 is if someone mistakenly calls you a best-selling author -- (laughter) -- when all you are is a market-savvy compiler of writings that are in the public domain, it is immodest not to immediately correct the person by saying, "I'm sorry, but you mistook me for a writer. I am, in fact, a compiler."

Bill Sammon, at least in the excerpts from his book, is not a journalist - he is a "a compiler" of the Administrations opinions and apologias. For example, in the third excerpt, entitled "White House misjudged how presidential campaign would radicalize Dems against Iraq war," Sammon simply quotes Administration officials who allege that Democrats have opposed the war in Iraq for political reasons. Sammon takes as gospel Chief of Staff Josh Bolten's claim that:
“A lot of us probably underestimated the potency of presidential politics in all of this. The need of every candidate to remain in good stead with the Democratic Party’s left wing has pretty dramatically dragged not just the candidates, but the whole party to the left.”

Similarly, in excerpt four, headlined "Pork projects, scandals doomed GOP’s majority in Congress, say White House officials," Sammon does not challenge the Administration's ignoring of the Iraq war's influence on the 2006 election. The best he can do is point out that some GOP politicians wondered why Rumsfeld wasn't canned prior to the election. But, of course, Sammon responds with an unanalyzed quote from Bolten explaining the wonderousness of our Dear Leader:
“It would have looked like the cheesiest political maneuver on the planet and would have undermined something that the president cherishes, which is the confidence of the military, up and down the line. He cherishes that, and it’s something that I forget about often, but he always reminds us as he’s working on a speech draft. He says, ‘I’m talking to not just the American people here, but I’m talking to Iraqis, I’m talking to our enemies, and most importantly, I’m talking to our troops when I give a speech. If anybody’s listening to what I say about the war in Iraq, it’s got to be them.’ ”

I also encourage you all to read the fifth and final excerpt about the President's faith, how it supports him, and how his opponents (and Muslims) misunderstand it.

So, I now suggest the Washington Examiner change Sammon's title from "Chief White House Correspondent" to "Chief Compiler of White House Talking Points."

Dog Bites Man

Clarence Thomas has gone public. The stunning news? The real issue at his confirmation hearings was . . . abortion! He says:

That was the elephant in the room... That was the issue. That is the issue that people are apparently so upset about . . . [That is the issue] that you determine the composition of your Supreme Court and your entire federal judiciary, it seems now."
What insight after 16 years on the court.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Don't They Understand?

Currently in the Congress there is a lot of arguing about the SCHIP program. Now, I will be the first to admit that I don't understand everything about the program - other than it grants health care coverage to children. My understanding of the debate is that some on the Right feel that an expansion of SCHIP is unnecessary because the families of some of the new beneficiaries can afford health coverage themselves. But doesn't that miss the point? Children cannot buy their own health insurance. What if the parents in a middle class family, upper or lower (according to Investors Business Daily the expanded SCHIP will cover children in families of four making under $83,000/year) choose not to spend the money on coverage. Maybe they have a small business and do not feel they can afford the insurance? What if they are deeply in debt? Or what if the parents are simply callous and do not care about their children's well-being enough to spend the money?

In short, I wish to remind those who do not want to expand SCHIP because a family might be able to afford health care for its children, that it also might not choose to do so - and there is nothing the children can do about it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sammon Swimming Upstream II

How did I miss this? My favorite White House Correspondent has written a book: The Evangelical President. And it is my pleasure to announce to you - the Washington Examiner is posting excerpts. Now, were you to assume that the softball "reporting" Sammon engages in was just a cover for the hard-hitting journalism needed for a good analysis of a Presidency, you would, alas, be wrong.
Let us look at the first (of five) excerpts in the Examiner. It is entitled "President predicts GOP will keep control of White House after 'tough race' in 2008." Shocking, isn't it, that a leader in the Republican Party would predict a Republican victory.

But what does the excerpt actually say? Does it explain why the President believes the Republican strategy and platform will be better? No. It is, for the most part, an opportunity to air the Republican talking points against Senator Obama. My favorite quote is from an anonymous "official" who says Obama has "a laziness, an intellectual laziness." No wonder he wants to remain anonymous. He'd be laughed out of Washington, D.C. In fact, a full 13 of the 26 paragraphs consist of the President and the unnamed official slamming Obama. The next five paragraphs, offer the Republicans a chance to trash Senator Clinton.

Thank you Bill Sammon, for such an insightful look into the Republican opinion of the leading Democratic candidates. I'm just glad we didn't get another Republican take on John Edwards.

Health Care Bleg

Since my sister has so kindly forced many of you to read It's Better Left Said (or at least link to it), I thought someone might be able to help me with a long standing question I have. The argument I see most commonly made against universal health care is that it results in "long lines and waiting lists." Perhaps. But it always seemed to me that the long lines were caused by the addition of millions of potential patients to the system. So what "long lines and waiting lists" really means is that some people who can afford private health insurance who used to get treatment quickly would now be replaced by some people who could not afford private health insurance. Am I wrong? Is there another cause I am missing? I am no expert on health care and insurance, and am curious.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reasons For My Concern

I just updated my post on the use of the term "dictator" to explain why I think its misuse matters.

Cheney's Mania

I recently saw a t-shirt that reads: "See Dick. Run!" This shirt and Who Are You To Accuse Me accurately express my feeling toward our VP.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Is It A Duck?

It is popular these days to call Ahmadinejad a "dictator." See
here, here, and here. But he is not a dictator. Ahmadinejad has only as much power as the mullahs in Iran give him. He is the President of a theocracy, not a dictator. I am not alone in this analysis. Ezra Klein, MSNBC, and even the CIA agree.

I bring this up only because "dictator" is the misused word of the year. Hugo Chavez, for example, is commonly called a dictator. See this and this. Granted, he has been taking on powers and taken actions that seem to be leading to a dictatorship, but I don't think he's there yet. The CIA labels Venuzuela a "federal republic." I find it odd when people skewer Chavez and Ahmadinejad with the "dictator" label, but let Pervez Musharref off the hook - although the CIA also calls Pakistan a "federal republic." I guess we are back to the Realism of the 70s and 80s - at least he's our dictator.
Why does it matter? As I just wrote to Andrew, who continues to call Ahmadinejad a dictator,

Why do you persist on calling Ahmadinejad a dictator? It gives the American people a faulty conception of the power structure in the Middle East. It gives the impression that if we take out Ahmadinejad that the Iranian government will fall, like in Iraq. But it is fundamentally wrong and dangerous to think so. If Ahmadinejad had a heart attack tomorrow, another nutjob would take his place. I think you are unintentionally aiding the Cheney’s of the world by giving that impression. If Ahmadinejad is a dictator like Saddam, we can invade and just do the post-war planning better. Iraq becomes our lesson. But, in reality, if we oust Ahmadinejad, there is still a very organized (and not completely unopopular) structure that will fight us. Cheney does not need your help.

Authoritarianism From the Right

I have been wondering lately whether the Right Wing is more susceptible to modern Totalitarianism than the Left. Jonah Goldberg would likely disagree, but I wonder. To oversimplify, the Right Wing seems to be more open to Government control of moral values, and less open to Government control of economic systems; whereas the Left has the opposite leanings. In the modern world, dictatorships appear to be more likely to come from a moralist authority, and not an economic one. China is a womderful example of a moral dictatorship, with a lessening of economic control. Robert Reich eloquently points out the Capitalism of China combined with the authoritatianism of its Government. As he puts it, in the war between Communism and Capitalism, "Capitalism won hands down." Is it possible that the US is, through Right Wing control of the Executive - and complacency of the Legislative branch - in danger of reaching a simlar (although distinctly American) situation. The Right Wing is clearly much more concerned with the loss of economic rights than the loss of civil rights. See, for example,the terrified response of some conservatives to the Kelo v. New London decision, as opposed to their equally terrified response to the possibility of civil rights for gays. It seems to me that if the Right Wing had its way, we would have an unfettered market economy combined with what Andrew Sullivan might call a Christianist state.
I am led to this worrisome thought by the Right Wing's unthinking adherence to the "World According to Bush." Apparently, the Right Wing's capacity unquestioningly to accept authority is large. Consider Fred Barnes' hagiographic opinion regarding the President's place in history. The Right Wing is unabashedly fond of executive power in times of war - even an undeclared war against a tactic like "terror." Note Andrew McCarthy's statement:

In wartime, in response to threats against the body politic, all the might of government would be embodied in the president. This alone would ensure that if an adept enemy took unanticipated action, the nation could swiftly respond; or that if the enemy exhibited some sudden vulnerability, the nation could quickly capitalize. It was how wars would be won.
I don't know about you, but that scares the s*** out of me.
So here's what we have. A world-view accepting of Government control of morality but not government control of economics, and blindly accepting the authority of its "Dear Leader." Are we heading towards an autocratic theocracy? No. Are we in danger of giving up many basic human rights so that an economic elite can flourish? You bet.

Rudy and Guns

I know I'm a little late on this one (boy, the blogosphere moves fast), but is anyone taking Giuliani's claim reagrding gun rights seriously? He said:

I also think that there are some major intervening events — September 11, which cast somewhat of a different light on the Second Amendment, doesn’t change it fundamentally but perhaps highlights the necessity of it.
That's just ridiculous. Does he think some pistol packing citizen would have shot down the planes on 9/11? Or does he think that we should be permitted to carry heat on airplanes to stop terrorists?

How exactly does 9/11 change one's view of the 2d Amendment? It is scary to think that a potential president thinks there are significant parallels between national defense and self defense. If I believe my neighbor is building up a collection of guns, should I be able to invade his house, occupy it, and instill my personal values on him and his family? Especially if I've asked him to destroy those guns on a number of occasions? In Rudy's world, why not?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ahmadinejad, Ground Zero, and Iraq

I agree with everything Mahablog says about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's proposed visit to Ground Zero and Columbia. Just one other thing I want to mention. Ahmadinejad's request has allowed the Bush administration to once again link 9/11 and Iraq. See, we can't have Ahmadinejad visit Ground Zero becasue he is fighting us in Iraq. Obviously, if he understood the magnitude of 9/11, he wouldn't be fighting us in Iraq.

You can argue that Ahmadinejad should not be allowed in the US because he is complicit in the killing of Americans in Iraq. But once you let him in, his actions in Iraq have no connection to Ground Zero and 9/11.

Everything Old Is New Again

The 21st Century version of the Pina Colada Song.

They Were Against The Troops Before They Were For Them

Just before adopting the amendment discussed below, the Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Senator Boxer. It noted attacks on Senator Max Cleland, Senator John Kerry, and General Petraeus, and then said:

It is the sense of the Senate--

(1) to reaffirm its strong support for all of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces; and

(2) to strongly condemn all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, by any person or organization.
Forty-seven senators voted against the amendment (46 Republicans and Russ Feingold(!?)). I guess they didn't like supporting all the troops and veterans, only those who were criticized by a liberal organization exercising its constitutional right to free speech.

Senate Repudiation of MoveOn.Org

I know I said that I would have nothing more to say regarding the ad regarding General Petraeus, but I lied. Yesterday, the Senate amended the Defense Appropriations Act to state:

It is the sense of the Senate--

(1) to reaffirm its support for all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, including General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq;

(2) to strongly condemn any effort to attack the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces; and

(3) to specifically repudiate the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group
Does anyone else feel a tad uncomfortable with a branch of the Federal Government officially and specifically repudiating the contents of citizens' free speech? I have no problem with individual Senators criticizing's ad, but with the above amendment, the Congress (if passed by the House) has stated that it is the official policy of the Government that one specific excercise of free speech is off limits. Is it a violation of the First Amendment? I don't think so. But it does make me cringe a bit.

Sunnis vs. Iran and Iraq

Andrew Sullivan has a very good post suggesting that Bush and Cheney are preparing for a potential invasion of Iran. He says:

It's back to the 1980s. Instead of backing Saddam against Iran, we're now in danger of backing the Iraqi Sunnis, in league with Egypt and Saudi Arabia ... against Iran.
I have one addition to Andrew's post. It should read:
It's back to the 1980s. Instead of backing Saddam against Iran, we're now in danger of backing the Iraqi Sunnis, in league with Egypt and Saudi Arabia ... against Iran
and Iraq. We are arming the very people who will, as Andrew points out earlier in the post, fight the Shia Iraqi majority as soon as we leave. So, while Andrew is correct that Cheney is always looking for new ways to screw up the Middle East - it is even worse than Andrew concludes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brooks and Gates

I've been listening to today's Pentagon Briefing on CSpan. The issue of David Brooks' interview of Defense Secretary Gates was discussed. The critical quote in the Brooks' column was

I asked him whether invading Iraq was a good idea, knowing what we know now. He looked at me for a bit and said, “I don’t know.”
When pressed as to whether that meant Gates thought it was a mistake to invade Iraq, the spokesman said that Gates did not mean he thought getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a bad idea, but that, knowing what he knows now, would he have done everything the same way, the answer was he does not know.

What an amazing statement! Assuming the invasion of Iraq was appropriate, how can he not know if he would have handled the aftermath differently. It is genrally accepted that the occupation of Iraq has been a disaster. The answer to "would you have done something differently" has to be a resounding yes. To say "I don't know" is either a lie to protect the President's precious little insular world, or incompetence. I think Brooks should have asked Secretary Gates which it was.

OJ Mania

We have officially hit rock bottom. Yesterday, while flicking through channels, I noticed that Fox News had on the helicopter pilot who followed OJ's white Bronco during the famed "chase." He was commenting on OJ being released on bail. Insane.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fox News and Fuhrman's Chutzpah

Back in 2005, Newshounds noted the rehabilitation of Mark Fuhrman on Fox News, so I won't go into it. But I have to say, it takes a lot of chutzpah for Fox to put Fuhrman on the air to analyze the current armed robbery case agains OJ Simpson. Let's not forget that Fuhrman was caught lying on the stand during OJ's murder trial about using racial epithets. As one of the lead (if not the lead) detectives on the murder case, his lying and racist language was very harmful to the prosecution's case. So now he's analyzing the case against the very person he was instrumental in letting go in the first place. He would seem to have an incredible conflict of interest.

I have the same problem with Ron Goldman's family being called upon to comment on the armed robbery case. Is theere any way they can be unbiased analysts?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brilliant Move By Bush

It hurts me to say it, but I think the nomination of Judge Mukasey to be Attorney General is a stroke of political genius. The Democratic leadership in the Senate is saying this shows "a new attitude" on the part of the White House. Even some normally skeptical bloggers seem to think it makes a difference who the new Attorney General is.

Let's keep clear heads people. Mukasey will be Attorney General for just over a year. Do we think this administration will allow a short-term lame-duck Attorney General put some checks on its power grabs? They will do whatever it takes to get what they want. If Judge Mukasey puts up a stop sign, what makes anyone think they will pay attention? Basically, this seems like a nice gift to Judge Mukasey, and it allows the administration to claim it is being reasonable. Count me as a skeptic.

Gonzalez and Rove Should Have Fired This Guy

Florida Assistant US Attorney

Scientific Wonders

Just thought we should take a moment to marvel at the wonders of science. Do you remember the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. They landed on Mars in January 2004, expected to last for three months. Now, 44 months later, they have just weathered a Martian dust storm, and are continuing to function. They have given NASA scientists strong evidence that there was water flowing on Mars, and therefore, a possibility of life. Kudos to all involved. I know it is not an anniversery of the Rovers or anything, but each day they still work is an increidble testament to the people who built them, put them there, and keep them going.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

White House Assesment of the Surge

I just wanted to suggest that everyone read the White House Benchmark Assessment report. Everyone has been so obsessed by the Petraeus/Crocker testimony, that we seem to have missed the administration's own words regarding the Surge. I hope to have more to say later, but I just wanted to make a couple of general points. Just as in the Initial Benchmark Assessment report from July, even where the administration has determined that there has not been sufficient progress, no changes to strategy have been recommended. See for example the discussions of the oil law and provincial elections on pages 13 and 15. Also, there are a couple of benchmarks in the new report for which the only progress mentioned pre-dates the initial report - not exactly a continuation of success. I am also intrigued by the two benchmarks (amnesty and disarming militias) which the administration claims cannot be assessed becasue "preconditions" for achieving those benchmarks have not been met. (pages 15-16). Isn't that just a way of saying no progress has been made? Surely, progress towards the "preconditions" is progress towards the benchmarks. Finally, for now, note that all of a sudden we are presented with a new strategy - "bottom-up" reconciliation. Until it was clear that we had no real success on the "top-down" reconciliation front, we never heard anything about this "bottom-up" idea. Do you think it may be a desparate attempt by a lame-duck President to justify the only remaining policy of his that anyone gives a damn about? Just a thought.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More Laura

Also, why is it that Right Wingers are allowed to suggest we need to change our culture and society so that potential Islamic terrorists won't hate us, but when some non-Right Wingers call for changes to American foreign policy so that potential Islamic terrorists won't hate us, its called appeasment? Laura has now joined forces with Dinesh D'Souza, who so eloquently blamed 9/11 on liberals such as "Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, George Soros, Michael Moore, Bill Moyers, and Noam Chomsky," and with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who convincingly blamed 9/11 on "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America."

So, in the end, the lesson of the Right Wing is that if you criticize the President and want to examine American policies that might have resulted in a certain amount of hatred towards our country
you are an appeaser; but if you think Britney Spears videos lead to terrorism, and that we should, therefore, reexamine the merits of our popular culture, you are a patriot.

For more discussion of Laura Ingraham's theories, check out Who Are You To Accuse Me.

Rigth Wing Morality vs. Right Wing Economics

Laura Ingraham has a new book which "provides a riotous, take-no-prisoners journey through our besieged culture and gives us a battle plan to re-make it anew, the way the Founders intended - strong, patriotic, pro-family, and unapologetically God-fearing." I haven't read it, and don't plan to. But I have heard her hawking the book recently, and it occurs to me - when did the Right Wing decide it didn't like the free market?

This morning (maybe lasty night) I heard Laura say that we need to stop the exportation of our crass culture or else Muslims in the Middle East will want to kill us (ok I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist). But isn't our popular culture actually a result of what people will watch and buy, in other words, of the free market? It is the market that guarantees that the highest rated TV shows are drek like Grey's Anantomy and Two and 1/2 Men. It is the market that makes Internet porn an incredibly lucrative business. Laura, the reason you are losing the "Culture Wars" is that Americans apparently like crap.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coulter and

Ok. This is my last post regarding the ad. But I have one thing to say to all these Right-Wing politicians, websites and blogs that are demanding that every Democratic politician from Harry Reid to the local dogcatcher distance themselves from the ad. (See this, this, and this).

Mahablog has a great post pointing to a number of times Right Wingers have called Democrats "traitors." And I don't remember anyone requiring the Republicans distance themselves from the statements. I have one addition to Mahablog's list: Ann Coulter. She wrote a book that, in essence, accused all Democrats and liberals of treason. Yet she continues to appear on Fox News (including, strangely, Your World - a business show) , and get invitations to gatherings such as the CPAC convention. I can only assume some brave soldiers in Iraq, and some Generals are Democrats - maybe even liberals. So only insulted one person in uniform; Ann has insulted thousands. I assume that all Republican candidates will now distance themselves from Ann Coulter.

Great General, Great Prop

I have a great deal of respect for a General who takes on the incredibly difficult job of leading our troops in Iraq. And from all accounts, General Petraeus is a smart man who knows his history and tactics. I don't disagree that the ad is unwise and unwarranted. However, even ardent Petraeus supporters must admit that his appearances on Hugh Hewitt's talk show and Fox News make him fodder for political criticism. Petraeus should just have kept himself out of the policy-making debate and made his presentation. Instead he allowed himself to be used in the debate as a political prop. Does anyone think that General Petraeus chose Hugh Hewitt and Fox News on his own? As Andrew insinuates, this has Rove's (or his henchmen's) fingerprints all over it.

Sammon Swimming Upstream

A new discussion of Bill Sammon, "Senior White House Correspondent" for the Washington Examiner, and occasional Fox News analyst. Today, the Washington Post , the
New York Times, and even Sammon's past employer all report that the President (who, if Sammon was not aware, lives at the White House, where Sammon is a "Senior Correspondent") will definitely endorse the Petraeus plan on Thursday. So what does our intrepid correspondent report on? Hilary Clinton fundraising. Well, you say, he must have had the scoop earlier. But yesterday's column was about the ad regarding Petraeus. To be fair Sammon did report almost a week ago that President Bush might withdraw troops. But when it can be reported with certainty, Sammon is examining a liberal website and a Presidential Candidate's fundraising. Could it be that our hero is more interested in questioning liberal or Democratic actions than actually reporting on the White House?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Olbermann's Loses Any High Ground, But No Worse than O'Reilly

Apparently, in Playboy Magazine, Keith Olbermann says that Fox News is worse than the KKK and Al Qaeda. What an idiotic thing to say. However, the Right Wing response is just as idiotic. For example, Sister Toldjah wonders where "are all those liberals are who were outraged by the likes of John Gibson last week for comparing some of some of KO’s blatherings to the words of Osama bin Laden." I am guessing they are with all the conservatives who were outraged by the likes of Bill O'Reilly comparing DailyKos to the KKK and the Nazis (around 4:50 in to the video).

My Reaction to Petraeus and Crocker


Anbar and the Surge

One major claim of those advocating the continuation of the surge and a large American footprint in Iraq is the success in Anbar. They say that the Surge led to the Sunni insurgents in Anbar to side with the coalition (read: U.S.) against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Here is the slide Petraeus used as proof:

But look! Attacks in Anbar began to decrease in November 2006, when it became clear the Dems were going to be in power and the war was reaching an end game. Could it be that the Sunni insurgents realized that the enemy when we left was going to be the Shiites AND al Qaeda and they needed, quickly, to use us to rid themselves of at least one of them. That would bolster the argument that a deadline might actually help pressure Iraqis to get off their asses and do something.

NOTE - I've changed the link to be more reliable.

surprise (sense the sarcasm)

Well Petraeus and Crocker are testifying. Yesterday it was the house, today the Senate. And guess what? Everything is going peachy because of the surge. Who could have guessed the testimony would be so positive? Oh wait. I did! Here (third reader comment) is my e-mail to Andrew Sullivan on May 24, 2007.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Does He Have Any Idea What His Position Is?

Back to the debate. Giuliani was asked whether college students should be permitted to pack heat (ok Wendell Goler said "carry weapons" but I'm going for drama). Giuliani answered:

I think states have a right to decide that. I mean, states have a right to decide their gun laws. The second amendment grants you the right to bear arms.

We have a federal system. A lot of these issues work in America where we have people of different views and different conscience because we are a federal system. We allow states to make different decisions.

Wha? His position appears to be the general federalist conception of letting states do as they will. But what's with the third sentence? If I have the right to bear arms, federalism is irrelevant. So I presume he paraphrased (and over-simplified) the 2d Amendment in order to prove to the skeptical right-wing of his party that he knows what it says. He can't claim as his own the right-wing's absolutist position on gun rights, however. If he tried to adopt the absolutist position, he would be labeled a Romney flip-flopper. So instead we get his self-contradictory answer.

Exciting New Political News


Or Is This Scarier?

Huckabee when answering a question regarding Iran:

But what I'm saying is, when a president is elected president, he's elected president to make decisions that are going to be basically balanced between two immovable things that ought to govern every decision he makes. One is the Constitution, that he's sworn to uphold. And the other is his own conscience and

Wrong Governor! Very wrong! the only "immovable thing" in your balance is the Constitution. If the Constitution requires a President to waiver on his conscience and character, he must do so. What we see here, folks, is Executive Activism of the worst kind.

Scariest Moment of the Debate?

Here is a comment from Mitt Romney advocating the wiretapping of mosques:

And I hear from time to time people say, hey, wait a second. We have civil liberties we have to worry about. But don't forget, the most important civil liberty I expect from my government is my right to be kept alive, and that's what we're going to have to do.

But isn't that an argument for any and all violations of civil liberties? Is it ok for police to search random houses? Sure, according to Romney, because it might keep us alive - the most important civil liberty, against which all other civil liberties can fall. It would have been nice to have one of the Fox News panelists ask him which civil liberties are inviolate.

What war are they talking about?

I watched a bit of the Fox News republican debate last night (in between checking Red Sox scores and watching anything else that caught my fancy) and had some thoughts that I will post as time permits.

First, I cannot tell what war these folks think we are fighting. In one sentence just about all of them (save Ron Paul, and to some extent Brownback) will say we cannot lose the "War in Iraq" by signaling our "surrender." But in the next sentence they will all say the War in Iraq is simply the current main front in the "Global War on Terrorism" or the "Terrorists' War on Us" or whatever moniker they choose for the day. The contradiction in the two formulations is apparent in that it is entirely appropriate to change strategic or tactical plans and abandon one front of a multi-front war without surrendering in the larger conflict. It is like leaving the Phillipines during WWII. No one thought leaving that field of battle meant we had surrendered to Tojo. Therefore, under the second formulation, leaving Iraq is not a surrender in the "War on Terror;" it is simply a realization that facts require a change in plans. So which is it guys? Maybe, if they want to stick with their "GWOT" formulation, they can argue that Iraq is an important battlefield in the war, but they cannot say that leaving Iraq is a surrender in the war I think they think we are fighting.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


A hearty congratulations to Andrew Sullivan on his nuptials! Mazel-tov!

Gone for a while - but I'm back

I had a hearing in Tampa, and no ready access, so I was gone for a little bit. Some takes on the news:
1. Democrats need to be very careful about their reaction to the Larry Craig situation. The fact that he was soliciting gay sex is not something they should talk about. In fact, now that Craig is resigning due to pressure from Republicans, the Dems should start asking why Senator Vitter (Rep. LA) is still in the Senate. It seems to me its just because Vitter is straight and Craig, apparently, is not.
2. If I hear one more person tell me that the surge is working because "Al-Qaeda is on the run," or because "the Sunni tribes are aiding us," or because some politicians in Baghdad have agreed to agree sometime in the future, I am going to scream. We are currently the only thing preventin a full Civil War, and appear to be only delaying the inevitable. If and when Al-Qaeda in Iraq is gone, do you really think the Sunni tribes will be all smiles with the Shia? Do you really believe Moqtada Al-Sadr is ordering his people stop attacks on the US troops so he can hand flowers to the Sunnis and the Maliki government when we leave. The Iraqis are just biding their time - which they have and we don't.
3. We ahve heard too much about the "Petraeus Report" (actually written by the White House) and not enough about the GAO report which will be much more negative. The "Petraeus Report" will be written by political hacks, based on information provided by people with a reason to argue that eveything is hunky-dory. The GAO has no reason not to be evenhanded. Of course, the Repubs will say that the GAO cannot be trusted because it is the investigative arm of Congress. But we should all keep in mind that it is a non-partisn body, and no ones's career at the GAO, or reputation is hanging on the contents of the GAO report.
4. Remember when the surge was announced? Obsidian Wings has a great post pointing out the change in rhetoric regarding benchmarks and the fallout if they are not met.