Tuesday, January 30, 2007

'Cuz it's "hip"

David Bell's LA Times piece is yet another example of the pontifications of somebody who just doesn't quite get this whole "war on terror" thing. Via Patterico:

IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers
and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks
on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that
six hours after that,there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks hadcontinued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20
million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union
suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help
put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during
the war against terrorism.

It also raises several questions. Has the American reaction to the
attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief
that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time
simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history
provide any insight?


The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who
would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is
not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can
certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite
different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United
Wrong, wrong, wrong! Bell completely misses the point of the War on Terror. He quite accurately assess the situation in stating that, "desire is not the same thing as capacity..." but he misses the connection. Let us examine this further.

The Islamists that want us dead truly do desire our extinction. They don't simply hate us--the people. They don't hate John because he's John or Teressa because she's Teressa. They hate America because it is America: free, equal, (mostly) Judao-Christian oriented, the land of prosperity and opportunity. This is what they hate. Their desire is not to kill a few people, but to destroy the way of life we call American.

But this is more than simply desiring something. I desire a large house, a nice car and the financial freedom to do whatever the hell I want. While surely I work hard to achieve these things, there are certain things that are off the table in my "desire" to achieve these things: I would not steal. I would not murder. I would not bring any harm to others. I would not cheat or do anything to compromise my family, myself or my values. For the Islamist fundamentalist, this restraint does not exist. In the case of those who wish us to be destroyed, for our way of life to eternally parish, they will stop at nothing. Not only would they murder and destroy as a last resort, they would do this as a primary resort. Their mindset is this: achieve our goal at any cost and with any means necessary.

This brings us to capacity. Bell believes the fundamentalists lack the capacity to do real or significant harm. There are a few problems with this view. Firstly, the extent of harm done cannot be measured simply in how many deaths have been accrued. Instead, there are certain other indicators, both measurable and immeasurable, that must be considered. Did the attack do damage to financial institutions? (Think Twin Towers) Did the attack strike a blow against the morale of the enemy? (Say, by striking the heart of the American Armed Forces in hitting the Pentagon.) What symbolism can be drawn from the attacks. (While they were unsuccessful in destroying the White House or Capital, and the fact that the likelihood that even if they had hit the White House of the Capitol they would have killed any "major players," such an attack would have been a symbolic blow to the US).

Secondly, and most significantly, we have to consider the fact that such extremists not only desire our destruction, but they desire the means (capacity) to bring about that destruction. And so we find ourselves in Iraq, wherein we hoped to prevent such monsters as Osama bin Laden from acquiring WMD's which would thus give them the capacity to do large, wide-scale destruction.

The fact that Bell leaves these arguments out of his piece makes me suspicious. I'm no genius (in fact, I can't even spell the word as the Spell Check tool as just underlined it in red...), but even I can see that these are the most basic flaws in Bell's piece. To me, the possibility that Bell was aiming to cause a stink and get some attention must at least be considered. In a time when it has become "hip" to think that 9/11 was a vast government conspiracy which was allowed to go forth (or perhaps even carried out) by our leadership in order to build the ground on which to launch "wars of aggression" in the Middle East, I think it's at least possible that some--Bell included--might just see this as a means to achieve a few minutes in the national spotlight...

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Hallmarks of a Democrat

Hillary Clinton visited Iowa this weekend, causing a big stink in her wake. Video of the most talked about portion of her town-hall style meeting can be seen at HotAir. Yahoo also reports:

Clinton held a town hall-style forum attended by about 300 activists, giving a brief speech before taking questions for nearly an hour. Pressed to defend her vote to authorize force in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, Clinton responded by stepping up her criticism of Bush.

"I am going to level with you, the president has said this is going to be left to his successor," Clinton said. "I think it is the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it."


One questioner asked Clinton if her track record showed she could stand up to "evil men" around the world.

"The question is, we face a lot of dangers in the world and, in the gentleman's words, we face a lot of evil men and what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men," Clinton said. She paused to gaze while the audience interrupted with about 30 seconds of laughter and applause.

Meeting later with reporters, she was pressed repeatedly to explain what she meant. She insisted it was a simple joke.

"I thought I was funny," Clinton said. "You guys keep telling me to lighten up, be funny. I get a little funny and now I'm being psychoanalyzed."

She told reporters that evil men included al-Qaida leader

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden, who remains at large. "Isn't it about time we get serious about that?" she said.


"The height of irresponsibility," spokesman Rob Saliterman said, "would be to cap our troop numbers at an arbitrary figure and to cut off their funding."

Clinton does not support cutting funding for American troops, but does favor that step for Iraqi forces if the Baghdad government fails to meet certain conditions.

Clinton defended the role that Congress has played, saying newly empowered Democrats are beginning to build pressure on Bush to act, but the public needs to be patient.

"We are at the beginning of a process," Clinton said. "It's a frustrating process, our system is sometimes frustrating."

My, oh my. Hillary hit all the major hallmarks of what it takes (at least since the '04 General Election) to be a presidential candidate for the Democrat Party, didn't she?

  • Emulating her favorite fellow senator John Kerr, she botched a bad joke (or, if she didn't botch a bad joke, she was read as having attempted a bad joke).
  • She turned a very serious--in my opinion the single most serious and important--issue into a laughing matter. After all, it is the President's single most awesome responsibility to protect the United States from "evil and bad men" and Clinton turned it into a joke--whether about Republicans, Ken Starr or her husband. This sort of joking is something we should have gotten used to by now, though.
  • Flip-flopper. "I was being serious." "I thought I was funny..." Can she have it both ways? Can she be serious and be funny? No. I don't think so.
Beyond the above outline idiocy, Clinton illustrated yet another contradiction in her views on the war. Consider this: Senator Clinton does not support Bush's troop increase. She does not support a new strategy in Iraq. She wants to "cap" troop numbers and funding at their current levels (thus maintaining the status quo), yet she has the audacity to say this:

"We are at the beginning of a process [...] It's a frustrating process, our system is sometimes frustrating"

Clinton defended the role that Congress has played, saying newly empowered Democrats are beginning to build pressure on Bush to act, but the public needs to be patient.

Certain members of the Congress need to heed this advice: be patient. Bush has acted. That's the reality. He has changed leaders and strategy and initial reports seem to suggest some measure of success.

Hillary says, "Isn't it about time we get serious about [the War on Terror]?"

Yes, it is. It is time that you--Democrats--get serious about the War on Terror. You don't like the Bush policy. Fine. I myself am not convinced it will work. But at the moment it's the best we've got. So either get serious and provide an alternate plan, or shut the hell up.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

More on real foods

From The New York Times via Instapundit:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.


A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat “food.” Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

The advice and science seems so simple, yet so logical. It wasn't that long ago that our ancestors were in much better overall health (even without the benefits of modern medicine) meaning that some development of recent time must be responsible for the shift towards obesity, cancer and diabetes, all of which are controlled, again, by the miracle of modern medicine.

At the beginning of January, I posted a review of Nina Planck's book Real Foods, in which Planck explains the importance of eating real food. In case you forgot, here's a snippet from Planck's site:
Don't you find it odd that the experts blame butter and beef for heart disease, even though heart disease as we know it has only been around since 1912, and we've been eating butter for 30,000 years and beef for 3 million?

Don't you find it funny that the foods in all traditional diets - starting with breast milk - are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, yet people who eat these traditional foods liberally don't get heart disease? Nor are they fat or diabetic.

The experts are mistaken. The so-called diseases of civilization - obesity, diabetes, and heart disease - are not caused by real food. The diseases of industrialization - as I call them - are caused by the foods of industrialization.

What are industrial foods? In the triple epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, the three main villains are trans fats, corn oil, and sugar - not butter and eggs.

In Real Food: What to Eat and Why, I explain why traditional foods such as butter are healthy and industrial foods are not. You'll learn how butter, lard, beef, cheese, eggs, and other foods we've been eating for thousands of years got a bad rap - and why it's a bad rap.

Now I am no purists. While I try to eat mostly organic products, lots of veggies, lean meat and dairy along with some whole grains (mostly wheat bread, organic oatmeal and bran or wheat cereal), I still find myself eating food that contains forbidden products (particularly HFCS). One thing I have noticed, though, is that the more I eat real foods, the less I enjoy eating highly processed foods, artificially sweetened foods. In particular, I can no longer even stomach the taste of white bread. The taste and texture simply make me gag. Sweetened cereal on the other hand--particularly PB Crunch--is another story.

Still, the more I read about the "real foods approach," the more it makes sense, and the harder I try to stick to a mostly real-foods diet. I think these folks are on to something...

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Who's it gonna be?

Even though we have over a year and a half before the 2008 election, it's quite clear that we are simply going to be flooded with hypothetical situations, polls and speculation about who will emerge as the two '08 contenders. Let us, for today's sake (and because of the fact that of those who have declared their intent to run for the Republican nomination, I don't care for any of them more than the other) focus on the Dems.

A new Time poll shows Hillary has a sizable advantage:

Despite the buzz generated by Senator Barack Obama entering the race,
the survey found that Senator Clinton would beat him for the Democratic
nomination by a margin of 40% to 21%.

All the talk about Obama and he still trails by 19 points? It's not look good for a man who is being played up as the new Chosen One. When coupled with this story for CBS which suggests that "many black voters dont' identify with Obama," I can't help but doubt any speculation that he has a real chance of beating Hillary. According to the CBS report:

As CBS 2 political editor Mike Flannery reports, Obama faced questions
about it as he met with a one-time street preacher from New York who's
run for president himself – Rev. Al Sharpton.

Sharpton made
clear that he does plan to keep putting pressure on Barack Obama and
Obama's about-to-be-launched campaign for president. Sharpton
complained publicly that none of the presidential candidates, including
Obama, has worked for what Sharpton called an "urban agenda."

This seems to play into that ideology which is often used to discredit Colin Powell or Condi Rice's contributions to the black community: you just ain't black enough. What does that mean anyway? State Senate President Emil Jones attempts to answer this:

"It does not mean that you have to be on welfare in order to represent
the African-American community," said State Senate President Emil
Jones. "The mere fact that he's a U.S. Senator, the mere fact that he's
a credible candidate running for President, does more for our children
and grand-children than all of them combined."

"Saying you're not black enough is an attempt to discredit him among black voters," said Professor Timuel Black.

That answer still isn't enough for me, but we'll come back to examine that another time...

It seems to be that at the end of the day (unless somebody else declares their intent to run) Senator Clinton has a much better chance to emerge than Obama. Why?

Clinton is such a polarizing force--you either really love her, or you really hate her. The fact is that, while there are democrats--many democrats--that hate her, the majority of Clinton-haters are on the right side of the isle. So it seems logical to me to infer that the most vehement Hillary supporters will be coming out in droves to support her.

On the other hand, Obama's inexperience adds a different element. A friend of mine discussed this last night. He sees to believe that Obama's separation from Washington politics will make him appear less corrupt, that it some how distances him from insider-influence. I see it differently. I think there are people out there (like me) who would vote against Obama because of his inexperience. We need a presidential candidate who has experience, preferably at a national level and on foreign policy issues, who can transition from their current position to the presidency without any major problems. Secondly, I have zero respect for somebody who has nothing on their resume. In other words, Hillary, like her or hate her, has an extensive resume of political positions and public service. Obama? Not so much.

So that's my spin on the democrat primary situation. Please use the comment section and tell me who you see as coming ahead...

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Poetic Truth

A friend of mine showed me this poem on taxes:

Tax his land,

Tax his wage,

Tax his bed in which he lays.

Tax his tractor,

Tax his mule,

Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow,

Tax his goat,

Tax his pants,

Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,

Tax his shirts,

Tax his work,

Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,

Tax his drink,

Tax him if he tries to think.

Tax his booze,

Tax his beers,

If he cries,

Tax his tears.

Tax his bills,

Tax his gas,

Tax his notes,

Tax his cash.

Tax him good and let him know

That after taxes, he has no dough.

If he hollers,

Tax him more,

Tax him until he's good and sore.

Tax his coffin,

Tax his grave,

Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,

"Taxes drove me to my doom!"

And when he's gone,

We won't relax,

We'll still be after the inheritance TAX!!

A kind of shocking look at the sad state of our tax system. Don't think it's that bad? Below this clever poem was a partial list of some of the taxes that exist:

Accounts Receivable Tax

Building Permit Tax

CDL License Tax

Cigarette Tax

Corporate Income Tax

Dog License Tax

Federal Income Tax

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

Fishing License Tax

Food License Tax

Fuel Permit Tax

Gasoline Tax

Hunting License Tax

Inheritance Tax

Inventory Tax

IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax),

IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax),

Liquor Tax,

Luxury Tax,

Marriage License Tax,

Medicare Tax,

Property Tax,

Real Estate Tax,

Service charge taxes,

Social Security Tax,

Road Usage Tax (Truckers),

Sales Taxes,

Recreational Vehicle Tax,

School Tax,

State Income Tax,

State Unemployment Tax (SUTA),

Telephone Federal Excise Tax,

Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax,

Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax,

Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax,

Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax,

Telephone State and Local Tax,

Telephone Usage Charge Tax,

Utility Tax,

Vehicle License Registration Tax,

Vehicle Sales Tax,

Watercraft Registration Tax,

Well Permit Tax,

Workers Compensation Tax.

One person noted that this country still had relative prosperity around 100 years ago, though none of these taxes existed...

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's just too simplistic

Jules Crittenden has written the speech he thinks President Bush should deliever tonight. Somehow, I doubt things will be delivered as simplistic as Crittenden has advocated, even as prudent and correct as such action would be. Some highlights:

Don’t bother standing up or clapping, any of you. I already know who won the election, and I know how you feel.

I come before you tonight not to make amends, not to make it good, curry any favor or find any middle ground.


So what is the best thing I can do tonight? I can tell you the
truth. What none of you want to hear. What you’ve been stopping your
ears to. The ugly truth.

The State of the Union is a disaster. I did my best, but I made mistakes, and my best wasn’t good enough.

We went to war without building up our army, and now, I am trying to make up for that.

But that is not the disaster.

The disaster is that you, Congress and the American people, do not care to fight.


ou didn’t like it when I talked about evil. Sounded too simple, too uncompromising, too moralistic. Too … biblical.

I don’t know what else you call people who fly passenger jets into
office buildings; who rape women in front of their husbands and
children, and execute their opponents in acid baths; who seek to spread
tyrannical and archaic religious regimes that enslave women and stifle
fundamental freedoms. Who want to dominate the world’s primary oil
fields with nuclear weapons.

I call it evil. Works for me.


I will engage evil directly where I find it, in Iraq and in Iran.
With an aggressive and ruthless new strategy and a plan to build our
army as we should have a long time ago, I will show the American people
that we can fight and we can win. I expect that the American people,
though misled by their press and many of their elected representatives,
will see results and will get it. Because the American people are a
people who in the end don’t give up, don’t stop fighting, refuse to
lose, and will choose to win. I have faith in them.

Oh, there’s another one of those words you don’t like.

A nation that is not willing to fight for what it believes in, for
its place in the world, is not worthy of its own ideals. But that is
not America. I now intend to help America restore its faith in itself.
By fighting this necessary fight that we cannot afford to lose.

Well said indeed. I have always stood by the President's use of the word "evil" to describe the Islamists extremists that want to murder us. Though I wasn't there, I fully understand and accept Reagan's labeling of the USSR as "the Evil Empire." Unless we call it what it is, we will never overcome the dark forces that are controlling the actions of our enemies.

More important than continuing the discussion of the evil we face, though, is the will to face it. The President can explain that we face evil, but knowledge of such evil is only half the battle. Here is where the president must shine. He must, as Crittenden as stated, explain that he is not here to discuss middle ground or compromises. He is not going to be a lame duck. He must continue to battle this evil with ruthless determination. The State of the Union depends on it. The state of Freedom depends on it.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Pro-choice? Not anymore. Let's call it what it really is: Pro-Abortion.

I was just getting ready for bed on as the hours of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade come to an end when I decided to clear out the ole newsreader before turning out the lights (it's been a busy day, though my morning class was canceled, and so I have not had the time to sit and read the news...) when I stopped on a truly remarkable post from Sister Toldjah on abortion. It is simply too good not to read. Here are a few short excerpts but please, PLEASE, regardless of your stance on abortion, take five or so minutes to really read this:

The pain for me is that, but also the knowledge that as a young woman finding my way in life, I once advocated the ‘continued right’ for pregnant women to abort their unborn babies. There are fiercely strong elements of both guilt and shame inside me over my old beliefs about abortion, so strong that I can’t write or talk about the issue without being overcome with emotion. I simply cannot forgive myself that I, in my own small way, contributed to the culture of death at one point in my life. It is something I continue to have to work through, not just as a Christian, but as a human being, because you don’t have to be a Christian to understand that abortion is morally reprehensible.


The word “abortion” alone speaks volumes about the procedure, and you can best believe that over the years pro-abortion forces in groups such as NARAL and NOW have sought to reframe the debate by preferring to use the term “pro-choice” more and more rather than “pro-abortion” (Example 1 and Example 2). There is a reason for this, which is evident when you analyze the word “abortion” itself. The word “abort” means to “stop” or “terminate” something and in the case of “abortion” what exactly are we “stopping” or ‘terminating”? Pro-abortionists don’t want you to consider this aspect of the argument because they’d have to admit that you were “stopping” or “terminating” the very maturation of a little life - a human life - where we all began. Thus the attempt at reframing the debate by claiming they are ‘pro-choice’ (or ‘pro reproductive freedom’) rather than ‘pro-abortion.’ They want you to believe it’s not about a ‘aborting a life’ but instead ‘making a choice.’ Right.


The hypocrisy involved in pro-abortion arguments is so obvious that it amazes me that pro-abortionists can make them with a straight face, but make them they do and they’ve gotten away with it for years. For example, you frequently hear and read pro-abortionists exclaim “the government has no business in my sex life” yet these same people advocate that the government does get involved in your sex life, especially if you’re poor and don’t have the money to get an abortion. Then they’re ok with the government getting involved in your sex life - specifically involved in your choosing to terminate the result of your irresponsible sexual behavior via a state-funded abortion. Never ever let a pro-abortionist convince you that they don’t want the government involved in your sex life - they most certainly do. If they didn’t want government involved in your sex life, then they wouldn’t support continued funding for state-sponsored abortions, and they wouldn’t advocate government-approved sex education in the public school system.


Another hypocritical position pro-abortionists take is the one where they claim to promote ‘responsible sexual behavior’ which would be laughable if the issue itself wasn’t so serious. How on earth can you claim to promote ‘responsible sexual behavior’ when you encourage women to feel free to engage in sex with whoever whenever? Whether they are protected from disease and pregnancy or not, it is not - I repeat - not responsible to routinely engage in casual sex, whether you are a man or a woman. Respect for your body comes not in seeing how many people you can share it with, but saving it for the person with whom you intend to share your life. That is the real way to engage in ‘responsible sexual behavior’, not giving in to your every sexual urge with everyone you’re attracted to. Not only that, but with each new partner, you increase your chances of getting an STD, and/or either getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant, and as a result may have to rely on the government to either pay for your abortion, your child, and/or your healthcare. How is that ‘responsible’? You simply do not promote sexual responsibility by giving the green light to engage in frequent casual sex. Taking disease and pregnancy out of the equation does not make frequent casual sex any more responsible. Furthermore, pro-abortionists in feminist groups like NARAL and NOW betray their ‘responsiblity’ argument by routinely blaming the man for everything that happened. Check out some of these bumper stickers on the NOW website.


Probably the biggest logical fallacy involved in pro-abortion arguments is that the baby growing inside a woman’s body is supposedly not yet human because it couldn’t sustain life outside of the womb. I find it beyond comprehension that one pregnant woman’s 2 week old child is another woman’s 2 week old ‘blob of tissue.’ I find it even more incomprehensible that women who have had children can remain ‘pro-choice’, considering they’re not ignorant about when their son or daugther’s life started. It’s either a child or it’s not. In actuality, we really don’t get to decide: once that child is conceived that’s what it is: a child. Why there is a debate about this is beyond me, because everyone single one of us, whether on the pro-life side or pro-abortion side, started off as a ‘blob of tissue.’ Thank goodness that our mothers didn’t view at us the way pro-abortionists look at pregnancy today, eh? A question pro-abortionists are reluctant to answer is: “In retrospect, would you have been in favor of your mother aborting you or your brother or sister when you or they were just ‘blobs of tissue’ if she had wanted to?” It’s easy for them to be pro-abortion when they don’t have to consider the possibility that they or one of their beloved family members could have been aborted at their mother’s ‘choosing.’

President Reagan once famously said: “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” Timely then, and timely now.

There is much, much more on her site. Please read it.

I started to read the David Kupelian book "The Marketing of Evil" before Christmas. I didn't finish becuase a lot of it seemed a little over the top to me. However, one thing that did stand out was the very first chapter in which he addressed the way gay right's activists used marketing ploys to frame the debate in a way that forced the opposition (traditionalists who opposed gay marriage) into a corner. They made it an issue about gay "rights" rather than gay privelages. They force fed us bad science on genetics without accepting any debate on the role of choice in the matter and so on and so forth. It occurs to me after having read Sister Toldja's post that we have been victims of the same thing with abortion: they have framed it as a matter of personal choice, a matter of privacy and a matter of individual rights not being trumped by the government. Yet, as she notes, they have left off their own call for government in sex through sex education and through access to clinics run on government funding etc. etc. She also reminds us that they have phrased their position such that we now call those who support abortoin "pro-choice" (who doens't like choice) rather than pro-abortion. Well not anymore. I will personally no longer use the term "pro-choice." Instead I will say "pro-abortion," because that's what they are. They are supporting an institution which murders millions of children each and everyday. It's disgusting.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

National Pride? Not until after midnight...

From the Herald Sun via Common Sense and Wonder:

Organisers of the Aussie rock festival at Homebush will confiscate any flag or bandana bearing the national symbol at the gate.

Labelling Sydney a hot bed of racism, producers of the Sydney Showground event said it will be the only city in the nationwide event to be subject to the draconian action.

Promoters have already moved the event from the traditional Australia Day gig to a day earlier to avoid nationalistic overtones.

Spooked by last year’s event, which came only weeks after the Cronulla riots, organisers will outlaw flags being brandished as a “gang colour”.

Prime Minister John Howard said the Big Day Out should be cancelled unless organisers reversed their decision to ban the flag. Big Day Out patrons were intimidated and harassed at the Sydney event on Australia Day 2006 by bigoted fans brandishing flags and demanding people pledge their allegiance.


“I am telling people not to bring flags - they are free to get them out at midnight on their way home when it is Australia Day.”

Wanna be frightened? Read the whole thing!

It's funny. I somehow doubt that Urban-Outfitter garb, which has gained much publicity through LGF in recent weeks, would be included on the list of unacceptable clothing.

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The first presidential candidate...

Hehe. Thoughts on a candidate field filled with firsts from Don Surber:

ABC News reported Bill Richardson is running for president. He becomes the first major Hispanic presidential candidate.

He follows Hillary, the first ex-first lady presidential candidate.

Who followed Barack Obama, the first Muslim-fathered presidential candidate.

Who followed Biden, the first hair-plugged presidential candidate.

Who followed Kucinich, the first elfin presidential candidate.

Who followed McCain, the first ex-POW presidential candidate.

Who followed Mitt Romney, the first Mormon presidential candidate since his brain-washed daddy.

And so on and so on.

Can’t we just have a presidential candidate who does not front for some minority group, real or imaginary? You know, someone who runs on qualifications based on something other than chromosome or pigmentation or genetic code.

I think Surber makes a good point. Wanna know something else I'm tired of? Using the word "historic" to describe everything. "It was a historic day on Capitol Hill today as Nancy Pelosi became the first female speaker." Not convnced? Think that really deserves to be described as historic? How about this? "Obama's presidential bid is one of a historic nature?" Oh, that's true because he's, what, black? Muslim (though he doesn't openly embrace this)? Why is that historic? How about this one, uttered this morning on Fox News Sunday: "Hillary Clinton kicked off her historical campaign for the Presidency..."

Now by their very definitions (the fact that they are happening) all of these events are historical so why we have to constantly preface things such as these with the term "historic" or "historical" is beyond me. Does anybody out there have an answer?

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Mark Steyn on the new Iraq poll...

Mark Steyn's new column is up in the Chicago Sun Times. He addresses Obama, the new Iraq plan (and the lack of support for it) and poll numbers on whether Americans want their own troops to win. Some excerpts:

"Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?"

And here's how the American people answered: 63 percent said yes, 22 percent said no, 15 percent said they didn't know.

Let me see if I understand that. For four years, regardless of this or
that position on the merits of the war, almost everybody has claimed to
"support our troops.'' Some of us have always thought that ''supporting
the troops'' while not supporting them in their mission is not entirely
credible. But here we have 37 percent of the American people actually
urging defeat on them. They ''support our troops'' by wanting them to
This isn't a question about whether you think the plan will work,
but whether you want
it to work. And nearly 40 percent of respondents either don't know or
are actively rooting for failure. Which is to say: more dead American
troops and more dead Iraqi civilians. Asked whether they want the surge
to succeed, 34 percent of Democrats answered ''No,'' and so did 19
percent of independents and 11 percent of Republicans. What were the
numbers like for D-Day?

/>Hmm. A fairly daunting statistic, no?

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fred on the Senate's Iraq Position

Fred Thompson brings up a good point at the NRO:

What I can’t see is this nonbinding resolution of opposition. Is it
really in our country’s best interest to signal to the enemy that they
probably only have to wait us out a little longer because congressional
determination to defeat them is crumbling? Doesn’t such a resolution
further diminish our chances for success at the very time our soldiers
are preparing to go into battle? And finally, regardless of our
politics is this the time to announce to the world that our president
is “on his own”?

Well said. Like I said before, maybe the GOP really should consider Fred a viable option for Presidential bid.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Oh good grief

Leave it to the California legislature:

The state Legislature is about to weigh in on a question that stirs
impassioned debate among moms and dads: Should parents spank their

Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, wants to outlaw
spanking children up to 3 years old. If she succeeds, California would
become the first state in the nation to explicitly ban parents from
smacking their kids.

Making a swat on the behind a misdemeanor might seem a bit much for
some -- and the chances of the idea becoming law appear slim, at best
-- but Lieber begs to differ.

``I think it's pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child 3 years
old or younger,'' Lieber said. ``Is it OK to whip a 1-year-old or a
6-month-old or a newborn?''


Beyond the debate among child psychologists -- many of whom believe
limited spanking can be effective -- the bill is sure to face questions
over how practical it is to enforce and opposition from some
legislators who generally oppose what they consider ``nanny

``Where do you stop?'' asked Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, who
said he personally agrees children under 3 shouldn't be spanked but has
no desire to make it the law. ``At what point are we going to say we
should pass a bill that every parent has to read a minimum of 30
minutes every night to their child? This is right along those same


Lieber conceived the idea while chatting with a family friend and legal
expert in children's issues worldwide. The friend, Thomas Nazario, said
that while banning spanking might seem like a radical step for the
United States, more than 10 European countries already do so. Sweden
was the first, in 1979.

I should have expected that this would have ties to some European standard. There was a time after the Revolution when the United States--especially in the arts, literature and music--attempted to differienate itself from Great Britain and continental Europe. Now, though, liberals from New England and California think it's "hip" and important to "be like Europe." Well I don't want to be like Europe. I want to be like America. And I don't want the government--state, local, federal or international through the United Nations--tell me how I must discipline and raise my children when the time comes. Maybe I'm the only one?

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

"IN Disaster, Renewel"

Instapundit hit a couple of days ago on the conference being held in DC this weekend to discuss conservative policy. NRO's Rich Lowry has more:

The Right and the Left tend to have different reactions to losing elections. The Left goes on paranoid benders. The
election was stolen! Dogs kept our voters from the polls! The voting
machines were rigged — and we have the lack of a paper trail to prove
At least judging by the 2006 elections, the Right instead
settles in for a healthy debate about what went wrong and what to do
about it.


The recent history of conservatism is that in disaster there is
renewal. Barry Goldwater’s shellacking in 1964 paved the way for the
conservative transformation of the Republican party. Jimmy Carter’s
1976 victory paved the way for Reagan. And Clinton paved the way for
Gingrich. Will Nancy Pelosi pave the way for something positive, and if
so, whom or what?

Now for me, that last bit is about as useful as those hockey analysts who say, "The last time it snowed on a Thursday in Wichita and it also was sunny in Seattle the Might Ducks scored two goals. So we'll see if that happens again tonight." Sometimes there just isn't a correlation. Still, the promise of something better after two years of Pelosi (as if it could get much worse) is something to grin about.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Proud to be a West Virginian

I am, for the most part, proud to be a West Virginian. What I am not necessarily proud of about being West Virginian is, however, our esteemed Senator Robert C. Byrd. Via Don Surber:

Bob Byrd delivered a 2,079-word speech in defense of earmarks, just in time for the end of the earmarks era. A Washington source said, “Senator Reid has agreed to negotiate with Senator Gregg about the Gregg Amendment. Hopefully there will be enough pressure to force everybody involved to allow a straight up or down vote on the earmark reform amendment.”

Just remember, Byrd delivered the last filibuster before the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed. Mr. Timing.

Although I disagree with much of what Byrd has come to represent, I can usually accept his arguments a little easier because 95ish percent of the time (that's a statistic I have just made up, just for the record) he backs up his position with Constitutional justifications. I'd love to hear his reasons for rejecting the earmark reform movement that has emerged of late.

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What the...


From Reuters:

President Bush has decided not to renew a program of domestic spying on terrorism suspects, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Wednesday, ending an law-enforcement tactic criticized for infringing on civil liberties.

"The president has determined not to reauthorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program when the current authorization expires," Gonzales wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

Bush has reauthorized the program every 45 days, and the current authorization is mid-cycle, a senior Justice Department official said. Gonzales said a recent secret-court approval allowed the government to act effectively without the program.


"Any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," Gonzales said.

He reiterated the administration's position that the surveillance program has been legal, but said the government will now have the ability to act with sufficient "speed and agility."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the new rules approved by the court addressed administration concerns.

"The president will not reauthorize the present program because the new rules will serve as guideposts," Snow said

Sometimes Bush and his administration just infuriate me. He is like the kid that you defend in school all the time. You keep defending him and defending him until you're blue in the face. And what does that kid do to pay you back? Makes you look like a fool.

For the past, what, two or so years since this story broke, those of us who want to be tough on terrorism at all costs have defended Bush's wiretapping program and his right--no, duty--as the President to use "any and all means" needed to prevent terrorist attacks. Even this one. Now, after all that has been said and done, he changes his position. If it was really that easy, why didn't he just do it to begin with. I just don't get it: Why not spare the criticism and just do what is asked from the beginning if you're simply going to cave in the end anyway? Answer me that.

* Update

Michelle Malkin says it better:

This is just...depressing.

Bush administration = Lucy. Bush administration defenders = Charlie Brown.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Oh good

*Updated Again

Just heard on Sirius Patriot's ABC News break that Obama has filed his papers for a presidential exploratory committee. Oh good.

I had a conversation today with a young woman who, in her intro to Poli Sci class, stated that she supported Obama for President. I asked why. She said, "I don't know." I said, "you realize he is basically as socialists." She said, "well I don't even know what he stands for."

What is wrong with people? This is why 'my' generation gets such a bad reputation--because we deserve it when we say we support somebody that we don't even understand...

* Update

Betsy has a few points to ponder on the "new Messiah" (where Clinton was the "old Messiah") of the Left:

It's customary for candidates announcing their run for the presidency to speak in inspiring generalities. So, when Barack Obama announced yesterday, he was full of such generalities such as,
“Our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common-sense way,” Mr. Obama said, speaking in a video address sent to his supporters. “Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions.”
Okay, I'll bite. How does he plan to tackle these big problems. What are his solutions? At some point, he has to move beyond talking about a third way that bridges partisanship. And that involves more than teaming up with Republicans for earmark reform. That's a fine start, but if he votes for everything the Democrats put forward and voted against everything that Republicans and Bush put forward, how does that represent the new nonpartisanship? Is his big difference that he'll vote like a typical Democrat but just not criticize the Republicans while doing criticizing their policies? That's nice, but it isn't any sort of move into a purple America.

Eventually, platitudes will not be enough. Then we'll get a look at how Obama really is different.

Well stated as always

*Updated Again:

Via Common Sense & Wonder:

I have heard that Obama is considering choosing Sen. Byrd as his Vice Presidential running mate to balance the ticket.

Now I have not heard that, and I find it doubtful considering Byrd's age and the "polarization factor" of the 500 term senator. While looking for a source, I stumbled on this:

Senators these days, Byrd cautioned the young Illinois Democrat, become fixated on the White House.

"I remember the advice," Obama said matter-of-factly in an interview with The Associated Press last week. "The importance of senators staying in the Senate."

Apparently Obama isn't listening to Byrd...

The article has a pretty good chronology of Obama's build up to a presidential run, though it is a bit dated (Nov. 06).

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New v. Old Media

West Virginia's very own Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail has a few thoughts on New Media v. Old Media and the roll of blogs and bloggers in keeping the MSM straight:

I have got a great boss who lets me do my thing here. But some of my colleagues, privately, remain skeptical of blogs because there is no editor. Bloggers can write anything, blah, blah, blah.

Glenn Reynolds the Instapundit put another nail in that canard with a post on an AP story by Jim Krane on Monday. The story said, “The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.”

But in fact (and Instapundit cited a Wikipedia entry) the Clinton administration never submitted the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for approval and the Senate voted 95-0 in support of the Byrd-Hagel resolution which rejected Kyoto.

Given the stonewalling over the fake Captain Jamil Hussein — Iraqis have no police captain with that name and AP will not admit it used a pseudonym as a source — AP editors have forgotten to protect their agency’s credibility. They have to work to earn it every day.

Just like the bloggers.

Well. Sorta. Obviously I side to some extent with the bloggers. I am no where in the realm of Instapundit--whom I very much admire--nor Don Surber, or Sissy Willis, or LGF, Powerline and the list continues. However, I suppose that after three + years of blogging, it would be safe to use the term "blogger" in describing me.

Unlike some of the blogger out there, and unlike news-talk Guru Rush Limbaugh, I remain confident that the so called "Main Stream Media" (MSM) has a role to play and remains an important, even if currently less relevant, institution of the United States. That isn't to say that bloggers don't have a role to play. As Surber notes, bloggers like Instapundit and LGF play an important role in correcting misstatements and out right lies published in major news outlets such as the AP.

My problem here is that some members of the blogosphere seem to suggest that because a blogger says it, as, for the most part, independent 'journalists,' it must be true. He even hints that the blogs may be a step above the MSM in the hierarchy of information diffusion. I disagree. Bloggers, myself included, may right wrongs, point out inconsistencies and biases and offer our perspectives which often time contradict those published daily in the mass media, but at the end of the day the majority of us really have no background in journalism. We rarely--aside from LGF or Michelle Malkin, who, by the way, is also a paid media member--break "new news." And so when we examine the role of bloggers from this perspective, it seems a little more clear as to why those who work in the MSM have come to resent and even to hate bloggers. I imagine it goes something like this: "How dare these blogger who have no training or formal knowledge in journalism propose to lob themselves in a group comparable to us. They are not as good as us."

Instead, I propose that we--bloggers--are not "new media" members. We are not some sort of reinvented media that strives to perfect the art of journalism. Instead, we are playing the role as the first independent MSM "watchdog groups" in performing the tasks I outlined above. From this perspective, the role of the blogger becomes more acceptable to me. This more clearly defined role should be what bloggers strive to succeed at. Maybe I'm wrong?

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Monday, January 15, 2007

That's the one I voted for

* Update

Though, as I said before, I was not overly impressed with his speech Wednesday night, President Bush has since gone on the offensive, defending and justifying his adjustments to the Iraq policy, and reminding me of why I supported him after 9/11 and why I voted for him in 2004.

From Ask.com news via Instapundit:

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney say they will not budge from

sending more U.S. troops to Iraq no matter how much Congress opposes it.

"I fully understand they could try to stop me," Bush said of the Democrat-run Congress. "But I've made my decision, and we're going forward."


"We need to look at what options we have available to constrain the president," said Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, a possible White House candidate in 2008. Democrats remain wary, though, of appearing unsupportive of American troops.

A defiant Cheney, meanwhile, said Democrats offered criticism without credible alternatives. He pointedly reminded lawmakers that Bush is commander in chief.

"You cannot run a war by committee," the vice president said of congressional input.

The aggressive White House reaction came as the House and Senate prepare to vote on resolutions opposing additional U.S. troops in Iraq.


Democrats in Congress - along with some Republicans - were unimpressed and frustrated. Beyond promising to go on record in opposition to the president's approach, the Democratic leadership is considering whether, and how, to cut off funding for additional troops.

"You don't like to micromanage the Defense Department, but we have to, in

this case, because they're not paying attention to the public," said Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who helps oversee military funding

Last night on the the FoxNews Channel, Sean Hannity reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) issued a statement saying that it is not his, nor any other congressperson's, responsibility to shape policy; that repsonsibility lies solely with the Presidency. reid did not elaborate on what the role of congress was to by. But judging from past experience and current rhetoric, I would like to propose that congress has written it's own job description for shaping policy and it reads as follows:

Congress shall bitch and complain about every plan President Bush offers. If he leaves Donald Rumsfeld and the orginial cast of characters in place, we will accuse him of listening to his friends. Since he has removed Rummy et. al. we shall explain to the American people that Bush replaces those who disagree with him until he finds a group of people to echo his policy. "Stay the course" is not acceptable. Changing the course is also a bad idea. It shall be congress's role to be happy about nothing and never to approve of anything Bush does. Let it also be known that we will never provide any alternative plans. Period.

That may not be in writting anywhere in the Capitol, but it seems to be something understood by nearly all Democrats and some Republicans--specifically Chuck Hagel.

Despite this credo by which Bush's opposition strive to live by, Bush Co. are staying strong. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday Morning, VP Cheney said that he believed there was "nothing [the Democrats] can do" to alter the new Iraq plan. And that seems to be true. DO not believe for a moment that Pelosi nor Reid will be brave enough to cut funding to our Armed Forces. They may want this war to end, but they want their careers to continue. And so they usually anti-Bush, miserable defeatist rhetoric will continue to stream out of the Congress, but along side it will stream the money needed to continue the war. That's just how it's going to be


Pelosi issued a warning to President Bush, telling him not to "abuse" his power:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, returning to her hometown of San Francisco,
strongly warned today that President Bush "should not abuse his power" with
regard to troop escalation in the Iraq war and said it is the duty of
Congress to "exercise oversight over his power.''

"If the president doesn't have a plan, Democrats will hold him
accountable," Pelosi said in her first public appearance outside Washington
since her election as speaker Jan. 4.

If he doesn't have a plan? Where was she on Wednesday when he addressed the American people and outlined his plan? Still, it gets better:

"We have a plan, and he knows it," Pelosi said today as she was mobbed
by well-wishers following her keynote address at the 22nd annual holiday

If, as Pelosi suggests, Bush knows the Democrats plan, I sure wish he'd tell us. Better yet, maybe he should tell them and they could then tell us?

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Mark Steyn: The Political Comedian

Mark Steyn, introduced to me by dear ole 'Ma, is fast becoming one of my favorite columnists. His mix of humor and political create a poignant and telling column. This week, he takes on Grandmother Pelosi. The whole column is worth a read, but here are a few snippets:

Golly. One only hopes the wee ones understand that, post-coronation, Queen Nancy's ascension to the throne might cut into all this qualitytime. "Gran'ma Got Run Over By Her Reign, Dears,'' as the old song so shrewdly warns. But don't Republicans have families, too? Yes, but let's face it, they creep you out, don't they? If you have the misfortune to be nominated by the Bush administration, your kids getheadlines like ''An Image A Little Too Carefully Coordinated.'' That was the Washington Post's Style Section on Chief Justice John Roberts' moppets: They didn't care for ''the 1950s-style tableaux vivant,'' or the ''freshly scrubbed and adorable'' look from ''a Currier Ives landscape''; they sniffed at the ''seersucker suit with short pants'' of ''towheaded Jack'' and his sister's ''blond pageboy''; they didn't even like the name ''Jack.''


I would wager that, when the young Nancy Pelosi had ''five children in six years,'' a hefty percentage of that parenthood wasn't planned. She is, in that sense, philosophically at odds with her party -- and,indeed, with her congressional district. San Francisco now registers more dogs that it does schoolchildren. Lest you think I'm being my usual homophobic self, I hasten to add that for once I'm not: It speaks well for the Bay Area that they had to embrace the gay life to match

the collapsed birth rates European cities have managed to achieve heterosexually. Nonetheless, at a time when fertility rates call into question the survival of Russia, Japan, Germany, Spain and Italy, the new speaker certainly presents an unusual model: She appears to be a rare example of a woman who truly ''has it all.'' She had five kids and then became the first female speaker in human history, an event (according to the media) women have been waiting for since Caveman Ug

said, ''Hi, honey, I'm home!'' and clubbed the missus over the head for being late with the saber-toothed meatloaf. It's certainly not the career path feminist orthodoxy has commended these last 30 years, but it seems to have brought Pelosi happiness, and at a time of greater

life expectancy it has a certain logic: Have kids in your 20s, go into politics in your 40s, serve as two-term president in your 60s. You can have it all!

I think the GOP should give up trying to demonize Nancy Pelosi. The Botox gags and bug-eyed photos won't work. Tonally, she seems very normal, in ways that, for example, certain presidentially inclined New York senators can never quite manage. But Pelosi's fellow California

liberals and those gushing feminist columnists ought to ponder why ''the most powerful woman in America'' is quite so untypical: What does it say when it's the exception that proves the ruler?

Two-term President Pelosi? Let's hope note...

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Points to ponder

The Anchoress provides us with 10 points to ponder:

10. Life is sexually transmitted.

9. Good health is merely the slowest rate at which one can die

8. Men have two emotions: Horny and Hungry. If he’s not chasing you, make him a sandwich. (Is that true?)

7. Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks.

6. Some people are like a slinky - not really good for much, but you can’t help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

5. Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital dying of nothing.

4. All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

3. Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars,and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?

2. In the 60’s, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

1. We know exactly where one cow with mad-cow-disease is located among
the millions and millions of cows in America, but we haven’t a clue as
to where thousands of illegal immigrants and terrorists are located.

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So much for bipartisanship and returned civility to the Senate

* Update

From The New York Post:

January 12, 2007 -- Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, an appalling scold

from California, wasted no time yesterday in dragging the debate over

Iraq about as low as it can go - attacking Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice for being a childless woman.


Rice appeared before the Senate in defense of President Bush's tactical change in Iraq, and quickly encountered Boxer.

"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price," Boxer

said. "My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young."

Then, to Rice: "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."

The junior senator from California apparently believes that an

accomplished, seasoned diplomat, a renowned scholar and an adviser to

two presidents like Condoleezza Rice is not fully qualified to make

policy at the highest levels of the American government because she is

a single, childless woman.

It's hard to imagine the firestorm

that similar comments would have ignited, coming from a Republican to a

Democrat, or from a man to a woman, in the United States Senate.

(Surely the Associated Press would have put the observation a bit

higher than the 18th paragraph of a routine dispatch from Washington.)

I thought the feminist dream was for strong, single women who put themselves or their jobs or their dreams and aspirations above and beyond traditional family roles? I guess that doesn't apply to brilliant women like Rice. But it really isn't surprising, is it? I mean the fact that Democrats would be so rude and disrespectful is not a new thing. We've seen it before with the head of the DNC delivering a fiery rant about the evils and racists ways of Bush. We've heard it from the 2000 Democrat Presidential candidate as he screamed from behind the podium that "Bush lied to us. He played on our fears." So such hateful rhetoric should hardly come as a shock.

The writer of this article suggests that:

The vapidity - the sheer mindlessness - of Sen. Boxer's

assertion makes it clear that the next two years are going to be a time

of bitterness and rancor, marked by pettiness of spirit and political

self-indulgence of a sort not seen in America for a very long time.

Sadly, it appears that way...


More from Wizbang on this issue

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So much for bipartisanship and returned civility to the Senate

From The New York Post:

January 12, 2007 -- Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, an appalling scold
from California, wasted no time yesterday in dragging the debate over
Iraq about as low as it can go - attacking Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice for being a childless woman.


Rice appeared before the Senate in defense of President Bush's tactical change in Iraq, and quickly encountered Boxer.

"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price," Boxer
said. "My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young."

Then, to Rice: "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."

The junior senator from California apparently believes that an
accomplished, seasoned diplomat, a renowned scholar and an adviser to
two presidents like Condoleezza Rice is not fully qualified to make
policy at the highest levels of the American government because she is
a single, childless woman.

It's hard to imagine the firestorm
that similar comments would have ignited, coming from a Republican to a
Democrat, or from a man to a woman, in the United States Senate.
(Surely the Associated Press would have put the observation a bit
higher than the 18th paragraph of a routine dispatch from Washington.)

I thought the feminist dream was for strong, single women who put themselves or their jobs or their dreams and aspirations above and beyond traditional family roles? I guess that doesn't apply to brilliant women like Rice. But it really isn't surprising, is it? I mean the fact that Democrats would be so rude and disrespectful is not a new thing. We've seen it before with the head of the DNC delivering a fiery rant about the evils and racists ways of Bush. We've heard it from the 2000 Democrat Presidential candidate as he screamed from behind the podium that "Bush lied to us. He played on our fears." So such hateful rhetoric should hardly come as a shock.

The writer of this article suggests that:

The vapidity - the sheer mindlessness - of Sen. Boxer's
assertion makes it clear that the next two years are going to be a time
of bitterness and rancor, marked by pettiness of spirit and political
self-indulgence of a sort not seen in America for a very long time.


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Why not?

UCLA Law Professor Stephen Bainbridge wonders why the GOP doesn't call on the great Fred Thompson to run in '08:

Fred Thompson's had an enviable career: successful lawyer, actor, Senator. Now he's a NRO columnist, weighing in on Bush's latest Iraq speech. Meanwhile, I keep thinking: the GOP did pretty well the last time it chose an actor to run for President. Why not go back to that well and draft Thompson? Compared to the leading choices - the flip-flopper, the old man who's probably a closet liberal, and the guy who probably can't win the nomination - Thompson looks pretty darn good.

Let's see what good ole Wiki has to offer on Thompson:

On November 8, 1994, Thompson was elected to the United States Senate to fill the unexpired portion of the term ending January 3, 1997, left vacant by the resignation of Al Gore, defeating six-term Democratic U.S. Representative Jim Cooper in a landslide which represented the most votes anyone had ever received for a statewide office in Tennessee history up to that point. Thompson took the oath of office on December 2, 1994. Almost immediately upon his arrival in Washington, D.C. ("while I was still unpacking my boxes," as he put it), Thompson was selected by the Republicans to give a reply to a nationally-televised address by President Bill Clinton. This was no doubt due to his acting background, but many pundits saw this as an attempt to groom him for an even larger political role. Thompson was easily re-elected in 1996 for the term ending January 3, 2003 over Democratic attorney Houston Gordon of Covington, Tennessee by an even larger margin than that by which he had defeated Cooper two years earlier. His name was regularly mentioned in the year 2000Vice President alongside the Republican Presidential nominee George W. Bush.

While in the Senate, he was chair of the Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1997 to January 3, 2001 which conducted investigations into allegations China attempted to influence American politics prior to the 1996 elections (See: campaign finance scandal) and January 20, 2001 to June 6, 2001, when the reorganization of the Senate prompted by the resignation of James Jeffords of Vermont from the Republican Party changed the control of the Senate. Thompson then became the ranking minority member.

Considering his stance on Bush's speech last night, as noted by Instapundit, why not go ahead and through his name out there on all the polls:

In his address last night much of what the president said had been anticipated by the media — the additional troops, the understanding that he has with the Maliki government as to their responsibilities and so forth. But I was struck by a couple of things he said that indicated not just a change in tactics but a whole new attitude with regard to what's necessary. He’s taking the gloves off.

And, contrary to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, instead of talking to Iran and Syria the president is taking them on too.

I'll bet that a lot of folks who support the president on this are asking themselves "what if we'd taken care of business this way years ago?"

My mother and I have talked in the past about the possibility of a Fred Thompson Presidential bid and I can assure everyone in America that he has at least one supporter for such a bid living in Augusta, WV. I, too, think that he could fair well, considering the alternatives.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Live-blogging: President Bush's Speech

Not sure if this is how a "live-blogging" session is done, but I'm going to do it as I see fit...

  • As per any time the Pres. speaks in front of the camera, Bush looks nervous.
  • 9:00: Good that Bush notes that Iraq has made progress though it has been overshadowed. Equally of note is the fact that Bush has already acknowledged Iranian influence.

  • 9:02: Bush notes that there has been a variety of input from a variety of sources in shaping the new approach. Again, Bush addresses that US failure in Iraq is a victory for extremists and for Iran. Baghdad is key to victory--a large percentage of violence is centered in 30 mile radius of city. Lack of troops has prevented success in Baghdad, as well as the restrictions for engagement with the enemy.
  • 9:04: The Iraqi government is to implement and deploy 18 army and police brigades to patrol and set up check-points. Majority of US troop surge to work along side Iraqis in Baghdad. US troops will "help ensure success when we leave." Why? How? Political interference prevented US invasion into neighborhoods harboring the enemy? "America's commitment is not open-ended." I hope Bush is serious about this--Maliki must stand up and say that victory must be achieved.
  • 9:08: "America will hold Iraqi government to benchmarks." Security by November? This sounds ambitious...Good to stress importance of sparking the Iraqi economy and political landscape. Reforming de-baathification laws sound similar to what happened in the Antebellum South.
  • 9:09: "We will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces." This is something we have heard before, yet we have not seen much of this reach fruition.

  • 9:10: "We will continue to pursue al Queda and foreign fighters." So far we've talked a lot about al Qaeda. Tribal leaders in the Anbar province are helping defeat the terrorists. We are working with natives here like we did in Afghanistan, no?

  • 9:11: "Defending territorial integrity...begins with Iran and Syria." Bush explains what we already know--Iran and Syria are supporting with manpower, training and weaponry. Bush says we'll "destroy the networks," but how?

  • 9:13: "We will work with others to prevent nuclear Iran..." How? We've not done much on this front thus far.

  • 9:14: "This is the decisive ideological struggle." This is an understatement.

  • 9:15: "Let me be clear, the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience...deadly acts of violence will continue and we must expect casualties to continue...There will be no surrender ceremony." This is something that many still--going on six years after 9/11--do not understand. This is a new enemy and a new conflict unlike anything before.
  • 9:17: "We concluded that to step back now would see the collapse of Iraq...this would cause our troops to stay longer and face an enemy more lethal." Again, this is something many do not understand. Bush pledges to listen to Congress and make changes as he sees fit. Though the likes of Kennedy don't understand this, Bush has outlined exactly how the Congress relates to the Commander in Chief. Kudos to Bush for giving Lieberman a "shout-out."
  • 9:19: "The advance of freedom is the calling of our time." Bush praises the troops and calls for more Americans to work hard to protect the United States. This is one area that Bush has never wavered in--he always articulates his love, admiration and support for the troops he commands.
  • 9:20: "We go forward with trust that the author of liberty will guide us."
I am glad that Bush did not gravel before Congress in his admission of his mistakes. He was convincing and better than usual in front of the camera, but he did not speak with the passion that he has in front of a live audience. More passion always works better for selling an important point.

I also would have liked to have seen more said about the role of Iran and Syria in causing trouble for our troops and for the men and women in our armed forces. The trouble in Baghdad is clearly the fault of insurgents infiltrating Iraq from Syria and Iran with training and weapons provided by Syria and Iran and with intel and support provided by Syria and Iran. That is the single most important point to be made.

Now Dick Durbin is speaking:

  • "Tonight Bush acknowledged that we are not winning the war." He said no such thing...
  • "He has not listened to his top Genderals such as John Abizaid." A few months ago Dems like Durbin were complaining that Bush was only listening to his Generals and not to Congress or other outsiders.
  • Durbin acknowledges that the US has done much ("Giving Iraq so much") at a great cost. "Now it is time for the Iraqis to stand and defend their own nation. The government must prove...[this]" Isn't this what Bush just said? They must meet the benchmarks set forth by Bush et. al.
Durbin said little that was of any substance. He called for the withdrawal of troops rather than an increase to force Iraq to stand up. What if that doens't work? As Bush pointed out, we'll be back in Iraq spending even more money and even more American lives. We must finish the job now.

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But what is to be done?

As I prepare to head back to Shepherd U this afternoon for the start of the spring semester, I thought it would be interesting to post some excerpts from Victor David Hanson on the state of the modern American university. As per usual, this article comes via Instapundit:

I was thinking of all this the other day, remembering the Larry
Summers fiasco, eighty-eight of the Duke faculty weighing in through a
public letter against their own students unjustly accused, the Ward
Churchill mess, and the assorted outbursts of professors since 9/11.

We should at least insist on a little accountability from this
increasingly medieval institution. After teaching some twenty years in
the university and writing about its endemic problems, I keep asking
myself the same questions.

I think Hanson makes a particularly strong point here. There really is no accountability for a tenured college professor. Oh sure, the administration at a university can insist on reviewing a tenured professor but, as we have seen with Ward Churchill, even when a tenured prof. does something disagreeable, there is very little that can be done. Considering the amount of government waste administred by teh federal government for public education, government intervention does not seem to be the way to go. But something must be done.

He continues:

Why? Why? Why?

Why does tuition continue to rise beyond the rate of inflation?

Why does the faculty castigate the free enterprise system that its
own development officers court to ensure competitive faculty
compensation? After all, their much praised socialism ensures
under-funded universities, as we see in Europe where the once great
institutions of higher learning have slipped badly and lack the
resources of a Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Texas, or Berkeley.

Why do such vocal egalitarians stay mum, when part-time faculty and
graduate students often teach classes for a fraction of professors’
pay, in a hierarchical system of exploitation that even the much
maligned Wal-Mart would never get away with?

Why do professors insist after six years on life-long tenure—when
everyone from garbage collectors to lawyers and doctors do not enjoy
such insulation from both the market and accountability about job
performance? If it is for the promise of “academic freedom” and
“intellectual diversity” then the resulting institutionalized
uniformity and mediocrity were not worth the cost. Compare the lopsided
Academic Senate votes about issues extraneous to the operation of the
university from gay marriage to the war in Iraq. There are usually
reminiscent of plebiscites in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Castro’s Cuba
with majorities of 90-100%.

Why when academia is so critical of other American institutions,
from the Republican party and corporations to churches and the
military, does it ignore its own colossal failures? The level of
knowledge of the today’s graduate is the stuff of jokes, exactly what
one would expect once a common shared instruction in science, history,
literature, languages, and mathematics largely disappeared, replaced by
a General Education potpourri of specialized classes in gender, race,
class, and politics masquerading as knowledge-based?

Here, again, I have to agree. I have had more in my own classes about gender and race equality than I have about anything I really need to know. Racial equality should be saved for Civil Rights classes and after-class workshops, not the core around which an education class is built. I have said before that as I approach the finish line (just over a year left before completing my Secondary Ed: Social Studies degree) I don't feel that i have learned much. Oh there are exceptions--such as my Modern European History class I had last year--but for the most part the "knowledge" I have 'gained' as been based on either rout memorization of facts that slipped away upon completing the unit examination OR on the spouting of ideological theories about equality and race/gender relations in education. Seldom have I struggled with theory or with putting together any sort of orginal research. Instead, I memorize the facts or regurgitate the B.S. put forth by professors attempting to advance their own agenda.

All these thoughts I think explain the tragic-comic position of
today’s university presidents who Janus-like must talk like normal
humans when courting alumni donors only to assume alien characteristics
when dealing with their often lunatic faculty. I noticed once that UC
Berkeley administrators always talked about a beloved “Cal” to their
alumni constituents, but always “Berkeley” to their grim-faced faculty,
as if there were two different campuses. And, of course, there were—the
real tragic one of the present, and the idealized lost one of the past.

And there certainly are two universities: one that the donors and parents/prospective students see. This university is the one of higher education, cultural enrichment and of cutting edge knowledge which parents, students and donors would be proud to be affiliated with. Behind the scenese, though, is a university of elitism and bottom lines. The professors, who see themselves as "intellectuals" and therefore above the "common people" seem to believe they are above and beyond any accountability called for by anybody from outside the ranks of teh university system. Simotaneously, the administration--even as its faculty calls for socialistic revolution in the government--operates teh university as a big coorporation similar to one which its staff so detests. The administrations sole concern lies not with the best interests of the students, but instead with the bottom line: "how much money are we making anyway?"

Still, even with all these vary valid points made, Hanson fails to make any recommendations for improvement. I have some ideas, but I'll save those for another time...

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