Friday, November 30, 2007

The true compassionate conservative

Question is, is he a true conservative?



My friend Jon at Crushliberalism, while intrigued by Huck's support of the Fair Tax, thinks he's not, and the mere thought of a Dubya reprisal is enough to just say no.

Me? Like Glenn Beck, I'm still on the fence for a number of reasons. But I do find Huckabee the most genuine-sounding of all the candidates running. The jury is still out as to whether that genuineness is live or memorex.

On the surface he makes good horse sense. I've been telling my kids for years that capitalism unchecked by personal morals or ethics is dangerous to a civilization. The Founders certainly seemed to echo that concern, at least one of them.

That said, having the market decide things is ultimately less evil than having some self-serving bureaucrat or politician do it. I'm not real sure where Huck comes down on that question yet, but many religious conservatives sometimes feel compelled to lean towards a big government solution when push comes to shove, ie, Katrina. The compassionate side takes over, which can also apply to illegal aliens and trying to understand and reason with al Qaeda. At such a point they are nothing more than a liberal in sheep's clothing.

Take his advocacy for a national smoking ban. Not a smoker and never have been, but I cringe at the idea of having the government pass a law banning such activity on the street corner or inside a home. I'm not sure Huck feels that passion.

And while the Fair Tax sounds great it's probably the one big carrot he's throwing to the right to overcome his weaknesses in other areas, knowing it'll never come to pass. When Congress eventually shoots it down that will provide some cover when he eventually has to raise taxes. "Well, I tried to pass the Fair Tax", etc.

Despite all that I'm still torn. Mitt seems too perfect and Rudy just the opposite, and Fred is having trouble overcoming his dull lack of passion. McCain is just never gonna do it. Sometimes I think it might benefit America to have a moral leader like Huckabee, presumably somebody who is just left enough to bring the country back together. Then reality sets in--this man is an ex Baptist preacher, just think how the militant gay and abortion rights advocates will go after him. But a genuine man of principle, a potential statesman president, is mighty attractive.

Conspiracy frenzy

Another shocking display of unprofessional reportage. It's pretty clear that once it became known that the suspect who took hostages at Hillary headquarters in New Hampshire was mentally unstable and a conspiracy theorist the race was on among cable and bloggers to find out the brand of nutter he might be. Such is the state of things in America today.

The nonsense wasn't limited to cable and bloggers, though. As the situation was unfolding Rush Limbaugh hinted that Hillary and Bill never do anything by accident, ie, they just might be involved in a publicity stunt. While the Clintons might be perfectly capable of high trickery, to suggest they planted some guy with a fake bomb who then took hostages is pretty conspiratorial itself.

Not to be outdone, after an initial name was floated by a witness the HuffPo actually tried to contact the erroneous suspect, this after just complaining that right wingers had been "stalking" the You Tube Democrat plants. Real champions of privacy they are.

All along the guy was in contact with CNN, still stinging from the You Tube debate criticism. They haven't released the content of those conversations, in other words, we still don't know whether he's a right wing kook or a left wing kook. We can only guess, knowing how the wind blows down there in Atlanta.

Ironically, our mystery conspiracy suspect was in the news in New Hampshire back in March because he was protesting the following intrusion of privacy by the local police:
The plan: checking car doors, and if unlocked, leaving behind a warning flyer.

"It's an outrage, it's an absolute outrage," said Eisenberg in one report. He claimed the intrusion into his Chevy violates the Fourth Amendment, and raised such a fuss that his picture appeared in a local newspaper.

"That's a crime. They violated my civil rights and the rights of many citizens in this city that are not even aware of it," said Eisenberg, who was now asking state and federal authorities to investigate the Rochester police.

Sounds like a reasonable beef from a man with a lot of problems. But to the gotcha artists, just another potential tool.

MORE 12/1/07

A lot is being made out of this AP story. Geez, it's hard to believe this could have been a choreographed stunt as Rush suggested, but c'mon. Do we need to keep a watch on how the justice system treats this guy, or monitor whether he makes a Hsu-like donation?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

UBL- it was really me!

Poor Usama bin Laden. Every time he puts out an audio he has to compete with the twoofers for ownership of 9/11.

His sheikhness put out another audio today and after reminding everyone that he alone--not Bush--downed the towers (don't forget, it's OK to lie for Jihad) he got to his point:
"The American tide is ebbing, with God's help, and they will go back to their countries," he said, speaking of Europeans. Bin Laden urged Europeans to pull away from the fight.

"It is better for you to stand against your leaders who are dropping in on the White House, and to work seriously to lift the injustice against the believers," he said, accusing U.S. forces and their allies of intentionally killing women and children in Afghanistan.
Surely timed to the recent uprisings in Paris. Bin Laden is probably trying to reach the growing disaffected Islamic masses of Europe thinking he can pressure them to the streets like ala Paris and put pressure on their governments and indigenous populations to say uncle. Obviously, fracturing NATO would put tremendous pressure on us, but the fact he's switching battlefields strongly suggests we're making progress in Iraq, especially after his last effort.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You Boob Tube debate

Live blogging to all three readers, who are probably watching themselves! Oh well, this debate could be fun, irritating, or boringly stupid. Here goes.

First of all, Charlie Crist the most popular governor in America? Who knew? Wait, says who?

Candidates announced ala the All Star Game. Paul might have gotten a tad more screaming but not by much. CNN is leaving some awkward pauses at the beginning. Mitt Romney laughing too much at the snowman. Guess he knows they've canned it.

No electric shocks from Cooper. No laughing at that, they must remember their sniper series. Song was pretty good. First question for Rudy, and it's a zinger..

--

This back and forth between Mitt and Rudy is laughable. Who's the worst on immigration? Mitt makes his point about subcontractors. He's coming out strong. Booing for Rudy. Ouch. And now the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn asking Fred to pledge against amnesty, and he's quietly scoring. But he still looks old.

--

McCain- illegals are 'God's children, too'. Tell it to the people killed by illegals. Or Jim the Reno flag cutter. Tancredo is shining on his only passionate cause. Now Duncan Hunter actually reminds us he's done something. Neither can win.

--

Question to Huck, about illegals again, and smacking him where it hurts. 'Academic Challenge Scholarship' was put into perspective by Mitt "he fought for it" and "it's not your money". Pow. Mike--they earned it. Ok, but where does that line get drawn, sir? And doesn't that serve as an incentive to come here illegally?

--

OK, here we go. Finally a Q for the Paulster, and on the NAU! And he takes the ball and runs with it, exposing all the conspiracies, including the NAFTA highway. If not for his isolationism (and that's what it is) he might be the man.

--

Mitt advocates elimination of pork. Maybe he's trying to get back in good graces with the Muslims! Rudy wants to cut the federal workforce in half but through attrition. Who could argue with that (other than the federal unions)?

(CNN is picking decent, good questions. Bravo so far).

Fred on cutting the fed budget--'target rich environment'. Fred reminds everyone he's actually putting out plans, although he wouldn't specifically name the programs he'd cut. The Paulster lists them, "Dept of Energy, Education and Homeland Security". Oh, and brings all the troops home.

Huck- to loud applause - kill the IRS, bring on the Fair Tax. Heeeeee's back. McCain does not. And he's starting in on Paul's isolationism. Boooooos. Mark it--first mention of Hitler at 7:42 PM CST.

--

Grover Norquist made it on the air. Will everyone pledge to cut taxes? All but Fred, John and Dunc (not to Grover). Smart. Never get boxed in.

As to cutting farm subsidies, blah blah.. oooh, Anderson Cooper just hit Rudy with the money story. Rudy says he did nothing wrong. Shocking.

After saying they wouldn't let kids make adult points, CNN now allows an adult to use their kids as a prop vis a vis the Chinese lead toys. Tanc says he'd just go ahead and nuke Chiner. Dunc agrees. Wait.... maybe I misheard.

--

Fred, that meanie. Huck, "when they're kicking you in the rear, that means you're still out front". That continues to be the impression of both men--Fred's a tough conservative and Huck's a fighter with a heart who's been maligned but keeps swinging. These little intangibles are important.

As the commercials roll, it's clear that nobody has taken the lead in this event as yet. And CNN is not screwing it up yet. Well, maybe Rudy would disagree.

--

Gun control guy-- score! (although Duncan reminds him of his gun safety rules). Rudy is ambushed yet again. They're making him backpeddle on gun control, then right to Freddie, who continues to flog. But he won't divulge his favorite gun or its whereabouts. McCain doesn't carry--he's done it before. Dunc is literally glowing talking about his arsenal while Rudy and Mitt don't own or carry.

--

Doctor Paul is thrown the abortion question and waffles a little on the answer by throwing it back to the states. Says he never seen a medically necessary abortion. Surely some of the Paulnuts' mouths are hanging open at this point, wishing they could get refunds on their donations.

Question from Memphis on the death penalty!(it's not me). "What would Jesus do?" Huck- some crimes are just too heinous. "Jesus was too smart to run for public office". Deflect, score!

Dallas wise guy: "do you believe every word" of the Bible? Again they pick on the mayor first. Non-literal answer. Huck is scoring on this as would be expected. The more face-time Hucks gets, the better he does, even if he's not a true conservative.

--

Iraq time, and the first question used is by a woman named Yasmin, who continues the canard that Bush has ruined our image by fighting back against terrorism. Rudy fires first and fires a howitzer, at the Dems. About time. McCain advocates for continuing the surge, and for never surrendering to AQ. "Let us win". Finally Duncan Hunter smacks down Yasmin's propaganda. Never apologize. Never surrender. Hoorah.

Now cometh the waterboard.

Using McCain as an instrument against the others with his torture background, smart. McCain is sorta pandering to the moderates here but making sense. Yet he abstained from voting on Mukasey, who wouldn't admit waterboarding is torture. Thompson is strong on Iraq. And Paul sounds like an idiot.

--

Paul is getting boo'ed over what he calls our interventionism, loudly, and for good reason. Tancredo, as airy as he is, picks up an easy cheer. Let's get something straight--nobody is in favor of interventionism per se. We should control ourselves and continue being the beacon on help and hope. But giving up on the world or refusing to protect the American public is not an option.

Ah, the first CNN cheap shot with the Cheney caricature. Fred finally scores a laugh out loud moment. But his charisma is still sadly lacking.

--

The gay General, ooh, another sucker punch. Hunter deflects to Powell. Weak--he's Mr. Military. Cooper reminds Mitt of his previous advocacy of gay service, then we watch as Mitt wilts trying to explain why he doesn't still believe that. Pretty bad.
CNN is bizarrely letting the gay general filibuster because of his devious effectiveness. Their followup with the Log Cabin Republican then backfires with Huckabee's answer.

And Huckabee answers the space program question well, at least gets a laugh. He's winning this debate.

--

Wow, a rebel flag question. Interesting. Mitt displays some southern hate. Fred is more qualified to talk, and he says the right thing.

And Paul's commercial is bat-crap scary.

--

Paul's answer on infrastructure goes back to Iraq. Of course. McCain is shaking his Sharpie! No pork! No pork!

On to a question for Ron Paul about whether he'll run as an independent, quite a good one. He says no but nobody believes him.

All in all, I'd say Huckabee won.

UPDATE 11/28/07


Bill Bennett just dropped a bomb on air--the gay general is on Hillary's gay steering committee. And Anderson Cooper was shocked, shocked.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tag team

Morris is predicting a negative turn for Hillary but it certainly looks like the campaign has already popped open a can of Bill and hit the spin button:
MUSCATINE, Iowa — Hillary Rodham Clinton will bring America "back to the future," husband Bill says, promoting his own legacy in public life almost as much as his wife's presidential campaign.
He's being coy--the future is already happening. After skillfully laying low for six years the master is back out there BS'ing up a storm while their political machine has installed handy campaign fundraising laundromats across the countryside. Deja Vu all over again.

Indeed, the spin is so obvious even the AP can't ignore it:
He seemed to rewrite history at one point, telling the crowd that he opposed the Iraq war "from the beginning."
Back to the future? Yep, come to think of it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Liberty and security

Naomi Wolf is on the book trail promoting her new novel called "The End of America" (oddly, Pat Buchanan has also written a book about the end of America, but for different reasons). Here she is explaining herself to John Kasich:



Her construct essentially relies on the old warning attributed to Ben Franklin about liberty versus security. Michelle Malkin discussed this last year, pointing out how these folks misinterpreted Franklin as such:
"Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither"
To be precise, the quote reads:
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"
Essential and temporary being key words. The top quote suggests an absolutism Franklin probably never intended. But it serves the cause so well, though! I think Franklin probably inserted the qualifiers to suggest a balance as he was a practical man. Jefferson's thoughts about the matter have been on the sidebar of this blog since the beginning.

With the above in mind, how come we never hear people like Wolf lambasting Hillary and the liberals for trying to guarantee 'social security' at the expense of liberty, such as with universal health care, government funded retirement or welfare? Seems the Franklin construct works just as well.

MORE 11/26/07

O'Reilly was bloviating tonight about this Seattle Intelligencer guest editorial suggesting Bush and Cheney's impeachment. My feeling on this? Bring it on!

What I mean is, all those charges could be argued sufficiently by Constitutional attorneys or members of the intelligence community, which might actually put a lid on some of it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Sabri files, part 2

This is an update to a previous post regarding the infamous CIA mole within Saddam's inner circle, Naji Sabri.

The last post was triggered by a flurry of activity surrounding the outing of Sabri as the mole. The story pretty much disappeared until Clinton operative Sidney Blumenthal resurrected it recently in hopes of providing Hillary some cover for her Iraq war resolution vote. We've also since seen a memoir from George Tenet speaking of a high level source.

For those not following along in 2006, NBC reported that Sabri was recruited as a CIA mole during a trip to the UN in 2002 (to denounce Bush's warmongering), eventually agreeing to speak through a French cutout. This deal was presumably arranged by the CIA station chief in Paris, a man who'd simultaneously been sending cables to HQ denouncing the Niger uranium story. Interestingly, Sabri would not talk of stockpiles.

Matter of fact we seem to have three versions of what he talked about, 1) NBC said he talked of no bioweapons, some chemical shells, and a hopeful nuke program when sanctions were lowered, 2) Tyler Drumheller, CIA station chief in Germany, described it as nothing, and 3) Sabri himself, who said the whole thing was a fabrication.

Then there's Tenet, who would talk of a mystery source who provided corroborating information. While it's largely a fool's errand to try to make sense of what a spook says in the first place, let's press on, warning in hand. In his book, on page 329, the former DCI describes a "very senstive, highly placed source in Iraq" who was funneling info to the highest levels of CIA. Presumably this was Sabri, although maybe it was someone else? He goes on to say on page 330:
"Every once in awhile, doubts would creep in about why so much of our evidence was indirect or why it had been so long since inspectors had found something. Right about then, this source would pop up with something incredibly specific that would not only affirm our intelligence but eliminate the doubts we might be having"
Let's assume it was Sabri--the public seems to be left with two choices--either he was telling the truth to help promulgate the myth that Saddam had WMDs when he really didn't, which is the bizarre storyline we're supposed to now believe; or he was telling what sounded like the truth hoping it would help thwart an attack. Events on the ground seem to back up his story especially considering the 500 chemical-tipped shells found buried but with no other programs.

What NBC didn't focus on was the fact Sabri, while saying Iraq had nothing to the international community, was in effect telling CIA that Saddam was in material breach and if left to his devices would go much further. A casus belli, or using the American vernacular, a slam dunk.

This is likely why Mr. Sabri, a high-ranking Ba'ath official, only appeared on a get-out-of-jail-free card and not one of the deck of 55 most wanted. Notice he didn't engage in the post-war insurgency like other former regime members, such as Izzat al-Duri. Check out this BBC interview in March 2003, which seems to foretell his future:
As the minister spoke to me, I realised with mounting alarm that the Egyptian singer was crooning the 1970s disco hit by Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive.
He laughed at that, since the interview occurred after he had evacuated Iraq. He now lives as a teacher in Qatar.

Sabri was also telegraphing the future when interviewed by the BBC in 2001. After spewing out a line of America-is-at-fault rhetoric that would make Ron Paul envious, he slipped in that Saddam had been preparing for an invasion "for the past 11 years". One only has to consider the dabblings with al Qaeda or his training of insurgents at Salmon Pak to understand the strategy, which has worked pretty well until just lately.

Finally, last we checked Stephen Hayes was speculating that Langley had come into possession of some floppies taken directly from Sabri's offices after the invasion:
One day after the floppy disks from Naji Sabri's office manager were passed to a representative of "another U.S. government agency"--presumably the CIA--the recipient reported back that the find was "a treasure trove." That was the last that any of these officials have heard about the recovered documents.
Tenet would know whether such floppies exist and if so, what they contain. And he ain't sayin'.

Hey, what's going on here?

Call it my skeptical nature but it appears the distancing from all things Bush has begun. Our junior Senator Bob Corker recently threw his audience for a loop with this:
"I was in the White House a number of times to talk about the issue, and I may rankle some in the room saying this, but I was very underwhelmed with what discussions took place at the White House,"
Corker seems like a sincere guy so it's hard to tell what his motive here was, but it's something he didn't have to say. There's always the possibility this was a device of sorts to test the waters. In 2000 Al Gore was advised not to run on Clinton's record and surely the same has been discussed within the GOP regarding Bush. Corker is a backer of ex-Senator Thompson's bid for president.

Speaking of the big guy, he was on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace this morning and the sparks were really flying. To Fred's credit there were some at Fox who were less than enthused with his coming-out party on Leno concurrent with their presidential debate, so maybe he's got a point.

Or maybe he's just trying to paint himself as an independent, fearful of being too closely tied to a perceived right wing network. There's always the remote possibility he was trying to stir up some headlines for a campaign that has fallen flat (partially a product of his own initial strategy). Truth be told, I think it was honest frustration. As he tried to remind Wallace, he's the only major candidate to put forth serious policy proposals, only to have most of them ignored.

Whatever the case this exchange does seem to illustrate one facet of Fred's personality that might hurt him down the line--he really doesn't take criticism very well. We'll have to wait and see if the other candidates try to poke a sharp stick at that potential soft underbelly.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Side tracks

Two genres of southern music came out of the late 60s/early 70s; southern rock and country rock. The grandpappy of country rock has to be this guy..



"Faithful follower of Brother John Birch", heh. As for southern rock, the Allman Brothers paved the way but by far the most famous act was Lynyrd Skynyrd. While not a huge fan I did like a lot of their stuff, and even some of the offshoot material like this effort from surviving members Gary Rossington and Allen Collins:



.38 Special came along about the same time and had a very melodic sound that was perfect for rock radio, and also featured a Skynrd connection with Donnie Van Zant, the brother of the late Ronnie, in the band. Here's my favorite from them.

Kind of an aside, but back in the day the talented Todd Rundgren once commented to a reporter from a music magazine that southern rock players were "dumb and stupid". Can't find the quote now but in looking around I did learn that Rundgren helped to raise Liv Tyler and also has a son named "Rebop", and another son who plays shortstop in the Florida Marlins organization.

9/11 conspiracy poll

Well, this is rather interesting:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found.
The poll was run by Scripps-Howard with help from Ohio University. A similar poll conducted last year found 'only' 36 percent believing that government officials allowed the attacks or ignored warnings. Wonder where these polls were in the 90s asking whether the 1993 WTC attack or the Oklahoma City bombing were inside jobs?

Anyway, are 2/3rds of Americans really troofers or were the poll questions just worded funky? Hard to say, since we don't yet have the actual questions or the age distribution of the poll respondents. The Post described it thusly:
Sixty-two percent of those polled thought it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials turned a blind eye to specific warnings of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Emphasis added. If indeed the poll question said "specific warnings" then 2 out of every 3 people are in the least uninformed and at worst dumbasses. There were no specific warnings about the attack.

There was a heightened level of chatter through summer 2001 (something that anyone working around aviation can attest to) but nothing specific enough to allow for direct mitigation. This is largely a 20/20 hindsight thing--browse the NTSB accident database and you'll see story after story where crashes occurred despite adequate foresight. Human beings are prone to such things.

Hard to say whether people answered thinking 'ignored warnings' simply meant incompetence, not complicity, but the key here seems to be the large increase over last year, all things being equal. Here's my free WAG on what it might mean.

Ron Paul has wild support among younger voters, who recently raised an astounding amount of cash for him online. He's been doing a hamster dance around the edges of trutherville for several years now. The net itself is replete with sites containing not only theories, but claims of unambiguous truth about 9/11 being an inside job. We've also seen a handful of celebrities 'come out', like Rosie, who proclaimed her trutherism, complete with their web site addresses given on mainstream TV.

The Bush component is a no-brainer--during the past year we've seen several high profile administration buddies fleeing the White House amidst the Libby scandal coming home to roost. This only fuels the "Bush lied" meme, especially since the man himself will not do justice by publicly dispelling it (and isn't likely to anytime soon). Of course that's part of the conspiracy. Then again, if he came out and strongly denied everything it would also be part of the conspiracy.

In defense of conspiracy theorists we've all seen declassified documents emerge after countless decades only to that suggest that hey, the government indeed does cover up things at times. Many are also sure they've seen UFOs, and Ruby's assassination of Oswald was pretty convenient. I've explored the TWA 800 case here on many occasions. And consider that Americans were not told at the time that Samuel Byck's motive for his attempted hijacking of a Delta DC-9 from BWI airport in 1974 was to crash the plane into the White House and kill Nixon. In Woodward's first book, Bush was quoted as saying he would be honest with the public, but not "brutally" honest about the specific nature of certain threats.

But while it's one thing to believe the feds are covering stuff up for our own good it's quite another to have 62 percent actually believe the government is working against us. If that number is correct it doesn't bode well for the future of the country should we get attacked again (or shall we say, when).

More specifically, it can be said that America is suffering from her own success in counterterrorism these past six years. The lack of attacks since 9/11 has produced in some the notion it was only an isolated incident. Such fantasy plays directly into the hands of those who would blow us up. If the bad guys were to reasonably believe another attack wouldn't bring us together but rather continue to fracture us as a nation, with 60 percent immediately blaming our own government for any new attacks, well, to use a basketball term, it's a free throw.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Taser troubles

Well, we have another tasing incident, this time in Utah during a traffic stop. In case you haven't seen it (?):



Story.

Anybody who's been stopped in a speed trap, whether real or imagined, knows the frustration. In a way this video is a tutorial of what not to say when pulled over--and why--but at the same time it's exactly what many of us want to do (but know better)--a fantasy come to life.

Seems clear the officer's "taser train" left the station too soon, but let's for a second consider his perspective. A traffic stop isn't a debate. Not very many officers would react well to a driver ordering them around and this guy was demanding they drive back to the speed sign and investigate before he would consider signing the ticket. That's normally not a good strategy. Ever. The cop never knows whether the person arguing has just robbed a convenience store and killed the clerk.

That said, the man's naive belligerence doesn't excuse this officer's behavior. You Tube is littered with taser dash cam videos, mostly from situations where a person was under the influence and hard to manage or dangerous/hostile. This man was none of the above and clearly didn't deserve a zap with thousands of volts. Heck, his wife was pregnant--if that's not one of the ultimate mitigating circumstances, what is?

And while I'd be quick to agree that many of our nation's law enforcement officers are unsung heroes, they're also human. The perception is that some drift into an "us versus them" mindset where everyone is an enemy combatant until proven innocent, ie, the above example of the convenience store. Surely that comes from dealing with bad people all day long, so it's nothing sinister, but it can certainly foster the silly notion that America is hurtling towards a police state when events like this one come to light.

Something else to be considered here is a kind of generational psychology. Some of the younger folks today have a "challenge everything" mindset, probably a result of growing up in the information age. It's a replay world. Such a mindset can be good but it can also lead to pursuits like 9/11 trutherism or the desire to lob pies at speakers they don't agree with.

It's almost as if the driver thought of himself as an NFL coach challenging a penalty flag in the big game and he simply couldn't understand why the ref (the officer) wouldn't go over and take another look. Most of us know from personal experience that any encounter with the police is no comparison even if it's just a minor incident.

Anyhow, here's a way the driver could have handled the situation:

"Sir, I don't believe I was speeding back there. I understand you're just doing your job so I am going to sign the ticket but after you release me I'm going to return back to the scene and take pictures so I can challenge this in court". Quite possibly the officer would have said, "fine, have a nice day". The cop was correct when he said the side of the road is not the place to litigate things. Once you're cited, you're basically screwed until a judge throws it out.

MORE 11/23/07

From a forum populated by law enforcement..
I guess times have changed. We had a ton of people who refused to sign their citation, but I can't remember ever tasing one. Normally we could convince them that if they didn't sign the citation we had no choice but to arrest them. The majority of the time they would sign without any physical force. I didn't see where this guy even tried to convince the motorist to sign. In my opinion he tasered him pretty quick.
That sounds reasonable. Browse some of the other comments for a full perspective.

MORE 11/23/07

Utah Highway Patrol statement. Did the motorist actually have a "question authority" bumper sticker?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. May you be overwhelmed with home, hearth and bird.

This post started as was an attempt to write something profound about the day--it's certainly one of my favorite holidays--but in the process I came across some things heretofore unknown, some of which are represented in this quiz, take it or leave it. For instance, did you know president Jefferson really didn't like holiday proclamations very much (hint)? Better yet, for a truly profound read just direct your browser here because my post is about to go downhill fast.

Beer. For some reason my grade school teacher never taught us about the role beer played in the settling of America, in particular with the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock. The beer story has actually been going around a long time, publicized back in the war years by Budweiser. Some might even say the Pilgrims must have been drunk to take port in Massachusetts when North Carolina or Virginny was a waiting option (the story goes they ran out of brew and dropped anchor at Plymouth) but now there's some dissent on the matter.

Sure, it's unlikely beer itself caused them to trek inland, meet Squanto (Tisquantum), learn to grow maze, discover the pitfalls of socialism and start Thanksgiving to give thanks to God and the Indians for saving them, but still, it was there. As Ben Franklin once mused, beer was proof that God loved us and wanted us to be happy. He also said, "early to bed, early to rise", obviously suggesting he was no advocate of getting sloppy drunk as he was, in all ways, a practical man according to his Almanack.

How does any of this relate to Thanksgiving? Well, other than pointing out our sometimes distorted view of the past, the Pilgrims, and beer, it really doesn't. So much for being profound. Oh well, have a great day.



ht Right Truth

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh, those youthful indiscretions

Maybe the reason Barack is gaining on Hillary in Iowa is his ability to come across as honest about his past:
"I realized that alcohol was beginning to crowd out my energies and could crowd, eventually, my affections for other people....When you're drinking, it can be an incredibly selfish act."
Excuse me, that quote was misattributed to another politician. Here's what Barack actually said:
"You know, I made some bad decisions that I've actually written about. You know, got into drinking. I experimented with drugs," he said. "There was a whole stretch of time that I didn't really apply myself a lot. It wasn't until I got out of high school and went to college that I started realizing, 'Man, I wasted a lot of time.'"
OK, admittedly not the same. But close. What are the odds a nominee or president Barama would get the same treatment from the right that Bush has received from the tolerant left regards those past dalliances?

Rudy's recent defense of Barack, although refreshing and well answered, is actually cross-purposeful--it keeps Obama's image strong against main rival Hillary while it paints Rudy himself as sympathetic, understanding and forgiving, which will surely come in handy when his own youthful indiscretions blowback into view at some point (we already know about his older indiscretions).

Although these confessions sometimes have an air of truth we all know they're largely part of the game, so allow me a golf analogy here. When playing the Masters at Augusta National (a very difficult course) many pro golfers employ a strategy of not making the big mistake, ie--they know they're going to make bogies (little mistakes) here and there but it's that 9 or 10 on one single hole--the disaster hole--that can single-handedly torpedo their entire tournament.

Such a disaster hole in politics might amount to an 11th hour allegation of past drug or alcohol abuse not reported, or perhaps some sexual deviance or a belief in the flying spaghetti monster, especially after the candidate spent countless hours showing his/her family values, etc. In other words, anything to make the golden boy or gal look like a hypocrite. Best to begin early by chipping away at that card, which Bush did so well (which later got him through the 11th hour DUI charge) and which Barama is trying to do right now.

Actually, all this talk of unloading past sins made me think of this rather raunchy parody of a mythical Oprah tell-all, aired earlier in the year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What happened

In what might be the biggest day since Jason Leopold's announcement that Karl Rove had been indicted, Rawstory tingled the liberal nation with a tantalizing smoking gun today:
"There was one problem. It was not true," he writes. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."
So says Scott McClellan, former White House press secretary in an upcoming new book called "What Happened".

Since we've only been treated to one snippet from the book it's pretty safe to say it's the most Bush-bashingest of them all. Just like the pre-publication brouhaha in front of Alan Greenspan's book, whereupon our beloved elder statesman of fiscal policy claimed the Iraq war was all about oil (which he later clarified as the actual book came out) it appears the same thing is happening here.

The publisher throws out an incendiary quote and watches the fair and balanced liberal media and their blog sucker fish jump on it, whereupon massive free publicity is distributed to all. And OK, even outposts like this one carry it (although without said publicity). Can an appearance on 60 Minutes be far behind? Larry King? Oprah? The View?

Heck, for all we know this is the real McCoy for the left. Let's whip things up by pointing out all the 'rats' who've recently jumped overboard, including Fran Townsend, Tony Snow and even trusted old friend Karen Hughes. Maybe those frog marches were not just dancing sugar plum fairies (can we say that?) after all.

More likely it's the same old crud, different day. The Bushitler brand has done absolute wonders for book sales and internet hit counts worldwide so why stop now? As to actual judgment of content, well, perhaps waiting for the book might be, in the parlance of an elder statesman by the name of Bush, prudent.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Maybe Paul is right about the CIA

Ron Paul has called for the abolishment of the CIA. He bases that mainly on the blowback theory, saying we brought all this war on terror stuff on ourselves by our meddling in the affairs of other countries in the first place. One look at the Blind Sheikh case (or his friend Ali Mohammed) might be enough to convince some (ht Clarice at JOM).

But most rational folks would not suggest such a radical course of action in a world full of snakes, and you can add me to that group. However, that doesn't mean there aren't issues. Take the odd case of Nada Prouty, which seems to bolster the Paulsian theories. A native of Lebanon, Prouty gained US status via a sham marriage then proceeded to become a special agent for the FBI, later moving to the CIA due to her fluency in Arabic, this despite some of her family connections:
August 2002: Prouty's sister, Elfat El Aouar, and her brother-in-law, Talal Khalil Chahine, attended a fundraising event in Lebanon where the keynote speakers were Chahine himself and Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah. Chahine sat to the right of Fadlallah, a position of prominence in the Middle East, spoke from the same podium as Fadlallah, and conferred with him privately.

Sheikh Fadlallah had previously been designated by the U.S. government as a specially designated global terrorist based upon his status as a leading ideological figure with Hizballah. Fadlallah issued the fatwa (religious ruling) authorizing the US Marine Corps barracks bombing that took place in Beirut on 23 October 1983. 299 military personnel and 6 civilians were killed.
Prouty recently pled guilty to several charges involving immigration fraud and will be processed out of the CIA, or so we're told. What media coverage this is getting has played up her sister's marriage to a Hizballah hotshot and her subsequent snooping to get information about him and her own family members. Some analysts say she was just looking out for her family. Others are less certain.

Was she a Hizballah mole? Our overall relationship with them remains a mystery, despite all the Americans they've killed over the years. For example, we still haven't been able to capture Mohammed Ali Hamadi, or even explain why Germany let him go to begin with. And surely Prouty's brother-in-law might know a little about this man. After all, Imad Moughnieh
is wanted for his alleged role in the kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s, and suicide attacks on the U.S. Embassy and a Marine base in Lebanon that killed more than 260 Americans
Prouty's brother-in-law has been seen rubbing elbows with the Imam who issued the fatwa for that horrific truck bomb. Meanwhile Debbie Schlussel has been all over this story from the get-go, and says Prouty's family is Druze, which could explain a few things.

One thing not being sensationalized is that her publicized conviction would seemingly blow the cover of her former CIA contacts in the Middle East. Guess without involvement by the administration it's not a big story, since the Repubs could just as easily say it was the Clinton administration that hired her, so it's doubtful we'll see her 15 minutes extended via a Waxman hearing.

As to her background check, it's distressing to think the FBI could have missed a sham marriage in her past--it simply had to be known. Maybe the Feds, and later CIA, thought Proudy could get them closer to some of these Shia terror leaders or dangerous ideologues that are making Lebanon a mosh pit of international terrorism at the moment. Maybe they were watching her closely all along. Maybe we should give the benefit of the doubt to the countless thousands of intel professionals risking their lives daily to protect America. Maybe.

Or maybe a semi-attractive, articulate, multi-lingual female with the potential to improve somebody's resume hoodwinked our made-dominated services and eventually injured the country. After some of the events leading up to 9/11 that certainly must be considered. If so, perhaps it's time to gut the present CIA and re-invent a new one under a new name.

MORE 11/21/07

This seems topical.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Run for the hills

A little pressed for time right now but couldn't help blogging up a quick post on this article, which summarized the IPCC's latest global warming doomsday report. According to them we've got a lot to look forward to:
Arctic: Greenland ice sheet will virtually completely disappear, raising sea levels by over 30 feet, submerging coastal cities, entire island nations and vast areas of low-lying countries like Bangladesh

Latin America: The Amazon rainforest will become dry savannah as rising temperatures and falling water levels kill the trees, stoke forest fires and kill off wildlife
"Virtually completely disappear". Interesting choice of phrasing. They also said the ocean is 30 percent acidified and will be completely toast by the end of the century if action is not taken. At least they didn't say 10 years, like Ted Danson did a decade ago. Such hyperbole is the reason nobody takes these things very seriously. These Hollywood goonballs need to understand they hurt their cause by lying.

But there you have it--we're pretty much doomed. Oil is so deeply embedded into nearly every facet of the world's economy that it would be impossible to change in any short period of time due to the impact on the 3rd world alone. Add politics and terrorism and it's a longshot to ever think the world could come together to "fix" this "problem" fast enough to correct climate changes, assuming the current changes we're seeing are primarily the fault of mankind.

I think everyone knows that. The reason detailed solutions are never offered alongside these reports is the same reason Bush has rejected Kyoto--the only solution seems to be for capitalism to 'virtually completely disappear' and be replaced with a Gore-like body that would determine who could do what, when and where, making Bush's trashing of the Constitution appear as child's play. Yep, there's a major fork in the road coming and the next president will make the choice. The future of the Republic, or perhaps the world, may hang in the balance. No pressure there, eh?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Of shoe bombs and such

Instapundit today provided a link to a report that trumpeted the following news:

"U.S. Thwarts 19 Terrorist Attacks Against America Since 9/11"

The piece went on to list the 19, most of which weren't anything on par with 9/11, but the first stands out:
A British citizen and self-professed follower of Osama bin Laden, Reid allegedly hid explosives inside his shoes aboard a flight from Paris to Miami and attempted to use a match to light the fuse in his shoe. The explosives were strong enough to cause damage to the plane if detonated. Caught in the act, Reid was apprehended on board the plane by the flight attendants with the assistance of passengers. FBI officials then took Reid into custody after the plane made an emergency landing at Boston's Logan Airport.[2]
No quibbles with this account, just an observation about how the alleged plotter of that attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, described it during his admission of guilt statement earlier this year:
4. I was responsible for the Shoe Bomber Operation to down two American airplanes.
Emphasis added to point out that only one shoe bomb attack has been reported so far. He said two. Was it a mistake? Was it thwarted?

The only thing that comes to mind is the crash of AA 587 in November 2001, which many initially thought was terrorism. Subsequent investigation seemed to point towards the pilot simply overflying the airplane due to what was deemed an encounter with "wake turbulence", which ultimately caused the tail to fall off.

Perhaps KSM made a mistake or simply exaggerated his prowess. Whatever, it's unlikely we'll get an explanation anytime soon.

The eyes have it

Didn't see the debate live but in looking over the post game highlights Hillary won. Big. Her eyes had that look of a competitor on the playing field when they suddenly realize their competition is inferior. Should have occurred during the first debate with that accompanying cast of clowns, reminiscent of the team thrown out to lose to the Globetrotters, but it's a work in progress.

The seminal moment might have been her snappy "no" to the drivers licenses for illegals question (following Obama's horrible pleading reply) after days of equivocation. Bill and the gang were surely high-fiving. Somebody needs to nominate that for the political duplicity hall of fame.

Speaking of Bill, no need to challenge anyone to a duel--Hillary's virtue was not besmirched. And as to the spin room follow-up, Howard Dean crystallized the Democrats' priorities in 2008, which appear to be retreat and socialized medicine.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ho, ho, ho, mate

The war on Christmas has officially begun. In case you missed it, the first story about offensive yuletide traditions bubbled out from down under, where "Ho, ho, ho" was banned for usage by street Santas because it could be seen as a slur to "women":
Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday
Actually, that sentence itself should be offensive to all women not named Velvet Jones. And we thought only their Imams were crazy.

It's early, but I think this calls for a can of Larry...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What's the matter with a hero?

Not a new question, of course.

Since 9/11 we've only seen one Hollywood blockbuster sympathetic to soldiers, Blackhawk Down, and that's probably because the event in question occurred during Clinton's term. We had United 93 but that dealt with citizen heroism.

There's been a lot of press over the poor box office on the recent spate of anti-war movies, including Mark Cuban's "Redacted". Let me just say, Bill O'Reilly and others are right to hit the streets in protest of that movie. It's not about freedom of speech more than about the safety of our forces these Hollywood people purport to support.

Making a movie like Redacted, which showcases a bad bunch of apples, when troops are still in harm's way amounts to a de facto support of the enemy. While the intent might have been to show the Muslim/Arab street and Europe that all of America doesn't stand behind Bushitler, the target audience will not get that message. Not all enjoy our open and free media.

But I think Redacted is only part of a larger trend to neutralize the notion of the American hero in general. Scorsese's "The Departed" paints heroes and happy endings as quaint echoes of the past, perhaps not the best example but another reed in the bog. Many in the younger generation might be OK with this, preferring it to phony baloney feel-good fables of the black and white past. Fine, as long as they understand the reality of good versus evil and realize the enemy is crystal clear about who represents evil.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Plantgate

Another day, another Hillary embarrassment. Sure has been a rough patch for her lately, partly self-induced, as in this staged question controversy. Today the plant suggested she wasn't the only pot in the room.

Sometimes one just has to stand back and marvel at the raw arrogance of politicians. In a world bathed in YouTubes, PDAs and iPhones all plugged into high speed internets the ability to embarrass has never been greater. It's as if some are still stuck in their father's political world of newspapers and winking reporters.
He then opened a binder to a page that, according to Gallo-Chasanoff, had about eight questions on it.

"The top one was planned specifically for a college student," she added. " It said 'college student' in brackets and then the question."
What's stunning is that they actually keep hard copy evidence of such shenanigans, something that could be inadvertently left behind in a hotel room, campaign hall, taxi, etc and fall into enemy hands.

If the questions are scripted the natural question is whether the answers are also scripted. Perhaps [answer 43] "George Bush". [answer 1] "Vast right wing conspiracy". [answer 75] "xenophobia", etc? Knowing the questions going in obviously allows the candidate to rehearse answers to maximize the notion they can think on their feet.

Admittedly it's doubtful this kind of crowd management is unique to the Clintons. Bush staffers have long been accused of trying to micromanage "town hall meetings" to prevent real voters from asking damaging questions and becoming the stars of the event, ala Taser Bro. Bush was even accused of having a radio receiver taped to his back at one of the debates. Who knows? There are professionals who try to crash such events for obvious reasons. Politics is hell.

But no question there must be a level of paranoia amongst the staffers about the uncontrollability of such events, which are crucial to making the candidates seem open, honest and engaging. One might think the risk of getting caught would overwhelm that fear but maybe there was a presumed notion the MSM would be there at the rescue? Or maybe it was the comforting idea the stealth candidate, aka "Rhett", stands at the ready in yonder bullpen to put out the fire.

WHEN IT RAINS.. 11/13/07

Well, if this is correct perhaps the DNC oughta rethink that Fox News boycott. How could it be any worse than being questioned by Hitler and Blitzer?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bush's 180

It should be no surprise someone dredged up comments made by Bush while Governor of Texas during Veterans Day 1997, whereupon he defended his skydiving dad for not chasing the Hammurabi Division back into Baghdad in 1991. Matter of fact, it's surprising it's taken so long. But it's also quite interesting, since Cheney is already on record as saying the same thing in 1994.

Surely Kos is busily planning his next summit to discuss how this revelation might alter the current PNAC/world domination narrative. Not surprisingly the stock answer coming from Bush central is the "paradigm shift created by 9/11", unsurprising since Bush himself has spoken of it many times while in public. Cheney has also said as much (when not confined to his secure location).

But if we can just for a moment suspend any disbelief, this story begs a rather curious question--was the 180 a result of 9/11 or something more? The precision with which both predicted what might occur during an invasion was stunning in its clarity, meaning both knew very well the pitfalls of going in, including the certain political pitfalls.

Now, with our newfound knowledge that both were actually endowed with gravitas usually reserved for college professors and liberals on message boards, can we therefore surmise they also might have guessed that things like TSPs, GTMOs and secret prisons would go over equally as well with the voters? I think so.

That both were willing to take those risks suggests less that Bush entered the presidency leading a secret cabal to take over the world and more that our knowledge of the entire WoT and Saddam's role therein might resemble an iceberg as seen from the surface. Or maybe they were lying back in the 90s. Odd that similar 180s have taken place within the Democrat party as well, in reverse of course.

The leaker speaks

The definition of internecine is "of or relating to conflict within a nation, an organization, or a group". Many have used the term to describe what happened to the Bush administration during the CIA leak case.

One of the primary players was finally interviewed about his role yesterday. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage appeared with Wolf Blizter on CNN Late Edition, whereupon he agreed with Valerie Plame that leaking her name was indeed "foolish". Among other things.

Similar to Sandy Berger's reputation as a disorganized bumbler, we've been told that Armitage was a 'gossip'. That should say something about the issuance of top level security clearances, if true (and that's a big if). Certainly his admission to Blitzer leaves the gossip meme intact but he also repeated a claim to have never seen a covered agent listed in print. This leaves the Plame mystery intact as well.

The document he's referring to was the fabled INR memo, prepared by his own bureau in response to the initial anonymous Joe Wilson columns showing up in the Times and elsewhere before Novak's column hit the fan:
The description of Wilson's wife and her role in the Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA was considered "a footnote" in a background paragraph in the memo, according to an official who was aware of the process. It records that the INR analyst at the meeting opposed Wilson's trip to Niger because the State Department, through other inquiries, already had disproved the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. Attached to the INR memo were the notes taken by the senior INR analyst who attended the 2002 meeting at the CIA.
Sounds rather interneciney. There seem to be a lot of footnotes--like the fact Joe Wilson and Marc Grossman both graduated from UCSB the same year and worked at State in areas where they would have had contact.

The Woodward leak has also been relegated to near-footnote status. Here's a reprise of Armitage's gossipy conversation (transcript here). Notice he says the CIA would not be hurt, nor would State (on the mention of Yellowcake in the State of the Union) and mentions Condi in conjunction with it. Tenet would later say it was left in the speech by one of his top analysts by mistake, if you care to believe in fairy tales.

Too bad we don't have a recording of that pivotal February 19 meeting in the bowels of Langley because so many things seemed to transpire--Valerie introduced everyone; the unnamed State staffer claimed INR had already debunked the yellowcake claim; and CIA branch chiefs decided to send Joe to Africer anyway. Who knows, there might have been a few quips made that would clear everything up, such as who would take blame should Saddam's weapons not turn up, or what they really thought of the White House.

But we're left to settle for information received through leaks to people like Andrea Mitchell, who was not heard from at the Libby trial despite her involvement with just about every top player. Consider this:
1. In June who had the classified INR report, details of which she leaked? We know Carl Ford and Marc Grossman of the State Department had it. Anyone else? No one in the White House is known to have seen if before the 2d pressing on July 7 when for mysterious reasons instead of putting a cover letter on it, Grossman caused it to be reprinted with a new date and more broadly distributed.
The funny thing is Armitage apparently saw the first printing on June 10 since he immediately leaked to Woodward, yet we're to believe Colin Powell didn't discover his own agency's feelings about Saddam until reading the second memo on Air Force One on July 7. This was the same guy who stood in front of the world several months earlier at the UN with a simulated anthrax vial in his hand. All quite strange and interesting and twisted.

But perhaps more interesting were Armitage's thoughts to Wolf on pressing world issues. At various intervals of the interview he said:

  • We should talk with Iran (not Bush, but Rice)
  • Pakistan isn't as scary as people are saying and their nukes are safe
  • Iraq is getting better but we're not winning
  • The war on terra is a misnomer, should be "extremism"
  • The war on extremism is causing us to project poorly to the world at the expense of other more important issues
  • Terrorists (or should it be extremists?) win when we deny them habeas corpus and use torture on them
  • Extreme Terrorists aren't an existential threat unless they get WMDs
Quite similar to the Iraq Study Group participants and others less hawkish. Funny, on looks alone you'd more suspect a "bombed back to the stone age" type of personality. Ironically he told Blitzer he never said that, not even in a gossipy fashion. Guess looks can be deceiving.

MORE 11/12/07

Video here.

As Bryan said, 'foolish' was the word used to describe the actual leaker yet criminal is normally thrown around when describing the Bush crowd. Weird. Of course, the whole thing is weird.

What comes across in the video that doesn't in the transcript are the facial tics, flinches and gestures Armitage made when Blitzer introduced the segment. Not sure if that's abnormal with him--maybe O'Reilly can get the body language lady to take a look. More likely the story will sink back to the bottom due to the concrete life jacket it's been saddled with. Even Tom Maguire has lost interest.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hip, hip, hooray

Google has apparently come to their senses over the notion of honoring vets. Congrats and a big hip, hip, hooray--even if they did use vintage style American helmets and not the modern kind used by our troopers since the Gulf War.

And likewise, cheers and thanks to ALL vets, including those of my own clan currently serving (and you know who you are!).

Speaking of honoring the fallen, the National September 11 Museum and Memorial traveling road show stopped at Memphis this weekend, and yours truly took a look-see. You can read all about it on this crackerjack blog or click the picture below to visit their site.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Side Tracks

How about some Tom Petty..



We go from 70s to 80s. Pay attention to the players on this one.



You didn't think we'd forget this one, did ya?



Trying to keep the embedding down, but you might want to check out this offbeat little ditty featuring help from Johnny Depp, who played a rebel without a clue. And his girlfriend had a tattoo, too.

cheers

ONE MORE 11/10/07

A song for everyman.

Modern pragmatism

According to the Politico, this was somehow a surprise:
A Nov. 1 survey of 400 18-to-29-year-olds showed the New York senator held a surprisingly large lead among young voters who identified themselves as Democrats. Clinton led her nearest competitors, with 54 percent, followed by her Illinois counterpart, with 24 percent, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, with 8.4 percent.
Even the most liberal new math would still suggest the low end of this survey were between 8 and 11 during the finger wag and between 3 and 6 when Hillary stood by her man (sorta) on 60 Minutes.

Politico thinks this indicates a sort of pragmatism, completely at odds with Hillary's own radical past. They may be right. The only true revolutionaries in the field are Ron Paul (who is neither a Democrat nor Republican), Mike Gravel, and Dennis Kucinich. Even 18 year olds know Dennis is a little out there. So what's attracting them to Hil? Is it the Botox? Nay--the likely nail strike:
Voters of all ages also cite President Bill Clinton’s tenure as a reason for supporting the former first lady.

Uriel Tapia, 23, of Columbus Junction, Iowa, said, “Both my parents went for [Bill] Clinton two times, and they’ve said good things about him. Just as she helped out during his presidency, he would be at her side.”
Hmm. Perhaps the young voters are impressed with the brilliance of their attempt to end-run term limits or perhaps they believe in the utopian world of Waldo:
Maybe if Gore showed this much life in 2000 his presidency would be wrapping up soon, there would be peace on earth, and Ellen's hairdresser would have her dog back.
Ms. Tapia went on to opine further:
“I don’t know that this country needs another man president.”
Well, except for Bill. Or maybe Al. But anyone want to give odds on whether she'd say that if Condi Rice were running? Race is only an issue for older men afraid of losing power, right?

So OK, pragmatism explains it. Frankly, it's hard to understand how today's 'yoots' could have ever forgiven this:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pork barrel blues

Perhaps all we need to know about the water bill Congress just rammed through by overriding Bush's veto is this:
Some of the items in the bill stretched the "essential" label. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) took issue with a new visitor center in the bill for Morgan City, La. (the town already has two), and $8.5 million for "beach nourishment" at the Southern California site of the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.
Now admittedly, some of these sand castles are elaborately crafted and quite beautiful but in the end they are made of sand and will disappear. Sounds like a fitting euphemism somehow.

The WaPo's Dana Milbank reported that Congress's victory actually brought the warring parties together for the first time in a while. Guess nothing beats a pork barrel victory party (hopefully that's not offensive to Muslims). It's likely no coincidence that former Bush adviser and emissary of Satan Karl Rove picked today to remind everyone of the horrible record this Congress has amassed as they approach their one year anniversary. Good try Karl, but no cigar.

Milbank's message will resonate more with the press, ie: "Bush learns an important lesson: don't mess with lawmakers' pet projects". But the real lesson is this: Reid and Pelosi were never serious when they whined before the election about Bush spending too much. They were just whining. And posturing. That's what they do. In the end, their success is measured in racks of homeward bound bacon (hopefully that's not offensive to Muslims).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

John Coleman, global warming, and ICECAP

John Coleman, who used to be a very popular national TV weatherman in the 70s and 80s, started the Weather Channel. At the time people thought he was a little loopy. Now he's setting himself up to be called loopy (or worse) again by proclaiming that global warming is the "greatest scam in history". He'll soon be given the Dr. Gray treatment and called a carbon shill, but that's not the interesting thing here.

The website he posted on is called ICECAP. From the info page it's supposed to be non-partisan promoter of the free exchange of ideas. Hard to say, but we do know the site is run by a real scientist, a man who was the initial director of meteorology at TWC, one Joseph D'Aleo. He's got some interesting ideas about what's causing some of the temperature swings, one of which is termed Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). From his paper:
Even before the PDO was discovered, climatologists had noted that an event called the “Great Pacific Climate Shift” occurred in the late 1970s with a major shift in Pacific ocean temperature regimes. It turns out the PDO mode went from predominantly negative as it had been since 1947 to positive and remained so most of the time since.
D'Aleo must clearly remember the brutal winter of 1976-77 that caused the Ohio River to freeze in some sections. Several years later scientists were speculating that water temperature anomalies in the North Pacific were to blame, but somewhere along the way that theory got lost in the woodwork. Glad to see it's returning--maybe we'll see a free exchange of ideas on it.

OK, probably not.

MORE 11/16/07

NASA has some interesting news about the Arctic as South America continues to suffer from one of the coldest winters in decades. But the IPCC says we've got to act, and act now. Confusing.

Taking Heat

One book about the Bush administration that didn't get much press was Ari Fleischer's "Taking Heat", kind of ironic since he was Bush's first press secretary.

One of reasons for this stealthiness was the lack of any juicy morsels about Joe Wilson or Val Plame, or dirt on other White House staffers or the prez himself. Or maybe it was because the book largely focused on the back and forth between himself and the White House press corps (Helen Thomas) along with some not-so-flattering comments about media bias in general, not exactly the recipe for flowery praise from those very same people. But there were a few surprises.

It's been a tenet of conventional wisdom that Bush held an apparent lack of understanding of the sectarian divisions in Iraq and the middle east. Fleischer recounts a meeting Bush held before the invasion with some Iraqi dissidents living in the states, beginning on page 298:
"The Sunni-Shiite conflict is top-down driven," one of Bush's guests said, implying that, without Saddam playing one group against the other, the prospects for internal peace were not as daunting as they seemed.
This is interesting for several reasons, one, that Bush knew about the possible sectarian problems before going in, and two, that Saddam used the groups against each other to his own benefit just as his minions did by attacking the Golden Mosque of Sammara in 2006, an attack carried out by Abu Musab al Zarqawi under the banner of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. There's probably a lot we don't know about al Qaeda yet.

Finally, Fleischer points to the day Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel visited the White House (February 27, 2003) before combat operations began. Wiesel told Bush,
..if the allies had intervened in 1938, World War II and the Holocaust could have been avoided.
Few networks covered that event, yet Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela's comments a month earlier got plenty of press. Little wonder.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tag team term

Andrew Sullivan asked today whether Bill and Hill should admit they are actually a two-fer:
Clinton H, it seems to me, needs to be asked publicly if her candidacy is, as her husband described his in 1992, "two-for-one." Will her husband be given an official position in the administration? Will he be co-president again? Is he running with her? What role would he play in office again? These are completely legitimate questions about the content of a third and possibly fourth term for the Clintons.
Despite Glenn Reynolds' recent warning that Sullivan cannot be trusted, this looks like a no-brainer to me. I've wondered the same thing of late.

Adding fuel to the fire, today Rush Limbaugh played a possible slip o' the tongue that occurred on CNN's Situation Room Tuesday in which Mrs. Clinton said:
That's what I'm gonna try to do as president again.
It's about 3:25 of the clip, if you can't stand to watch the whole thing. To heck with the illegal drivers licenses, someone should explore this question at the next debate, if not sooner.

MORE 11/9/07

This analysis seems pertinent:
In his extended remarks, the former President also explained that Hillary deserved credit for the magnificent job creation and budget surpluses during his two terms; the collapse of the Palestinian peace talks occured only because her invaluable advice went unheeded; and one of his great regrets is that he didn't listen more carefully when she made the case for aggressively pursuing Osama Bin Laden.

MORE: I 'fess up - he didn't really say those other things. Yet.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Planet Dennis

One might think a bill to impeach the sitting Vice President of the United States of America might warrant front page coverage on the major news sites in America. Sadly, no.

Here's a screen shot from the WaPo at 9:20pm CST. Here's the NY Times a few minutes later. And here's Keith Olbermann's network several minutes after that. Nothing jumps out. Gee, anything to do with the Dems getting thoroughly snookered?

Ironically or not, the WaPo had a feature on a new planetary system being discovered. Maybe, if they need some names, they can use Dennis or Kucinich. And if there's any moons, well, "moonbat" might be an appropriate honorarium. Hey, maybe this was the real meaning behind the comet!

By the way, the move by the GOP to force the Dems to either put up or shut up on this matter, in which they decided to do the latter, outed our local Representative Steve Cohen. Way to go, Mr. Steve. That's the kind of courage we've come to expect from Congress.

The matter with Fred

What's up with Fred? This phrase is being uttered a lot lately, matter of fact I just heard it on local radio on the way home. And someone at work recently posed the question, "what will it take for Fred to gain traction"? My answer, "more hair". Perhaps a sneaky toupee application during the holidays is the answer, since in America, media perception means everything!

Actually, there's nothing wrong with Fred. Some think he's seriously in jeopardy of being fatally pigeon-holed as "lazy" by the professional political pigeon holers in the media, hardly more evident than this London Telegraph piece, which matter of factly states:
During a 20-minute, meandering speech, Mr Thompson – who has long been accused of being lazy - joked about rearranging his campaign schedule the previous evening so he could watch the New England Patriots play the Indianapolis Colts football game on television.
Imagine the media inserting the phrase "who has long been accused of being a liar" in a column on Hillary? That's part of the challenge Thompson faces.

But gasp, apparently even some in the GOP believe politicians should eat, sleep, drink and breathe politics, and if they don't it represents a character flaw or sheer laziness. Personally I want my president to have at least some interest in the Pats-Colts, thank you.

See, there's a difference between slow and being lazy. Some get that, some don't. The tag comes much easier for a big southern guy like Fred, since up north nobody is called "slow" unless they have a disability. Down south it's a way of life for many. As Thompson said at the debate, it's hard to look at his distinguished resume and call him lazy.

But the media is mighty powerful and they've already poured their sack of conventional wisdom concrete around Fred's feet like a newly set post hole. We know how most of the media votes. The best and only way to scuttle such a tactic is to make an end-run by generating a fan base, which comes from distinguishing himself to the voters by pointing out his conservative bedrock. He's starting to do this now.

But it's more than putting on the face. He's got to do a better job of perception management, such as with his newly resigned aide Phillip Martin. This area is a huge vulnerability so far. Too many folks have come and gone from Fred Central, perhaps perplexed themselves about his slow ways or perhaps showing an inability to pick the right people, which will be needed if he wins.

Whatever the case, Martin's departure tends to paint Thompson as a fat cat insider same as the rest, which is why Ron Paul raised 4+ million from the skulls o' mush on the internet (even though his foreign policy is a game of let's pretend). Fred is good with folksy ads, but it's doubtful one saying, "like most Americans, I too employ a few ex-felons in trouble with the IRS.." would go over too well. Even though Hillary was actually hob-nobbing with a Chinese felon with an outstanding warrant; and even though she's in favor of voting rights for ex-felons, it doesn't matter in perception world.

So, with the media loaded for Fred Bear, and Fred Bear himself perceived as not loaded for bear, perhaps he won't end up getting the nomination in the end. Voters may opt for a more "energetic" type like Mitt or Rudy despite their flip-flops. If Fred fails let's hope he does it on his own terms. After all, what's more nauseating than watching a candidate change their personality just to get elected?

Monday, November 05, 2007

The meaning in the comet

Just a little burned out on the news at the moment. It seems the whole world is taking a turn for the deep end, made evident by the meltdown in Pakistan where it appears Musharraf has taken Shakespeare's words to heart.

Mustang, who blogs at Social Sense and sometimes comments over at Poli yy, summed up the situation thusly:
And here we have the perfect dilemma; a nation founded on democratic principles, paying an extraordinary sum of money to a military dictator, in order to keep radical Muslims from seizing power and creating an Islamofascist state, and then aiming a nuclear weapon stolen from western technology at a nation founded on democratic principles.
No wonder Bush didn't have much to say about it. To the decider's defense, there ain't a lot of cards left for him to play--the Dick Armitage card has already been used.

That's why the mysterious exploding comet is intriguing. In times past such a heavenly occurrence would have been huge news, with wizards working OT trying to explain to the Kings what the hell was going on. Today's wizards work for cable news or the State Department and are seemingly just about as inept as in days past.

But comets are indeed strange events, and sometimes strange things happen around them. Who can forget the murderous Hale Bopp? Hopefully our present visitor doesn't trigger anyone to act as gruesomely stupid as that one did.

In all seriousness, the world is a mess right now. Blame it on Bush or the Islamists or the Pope or Hitler (or Tim Russert), but when viewed in totality the convergences are staggering. With a world full of problems whomever wins in 2008 will have their work cut out, an almost impossible task even for Billhill. Yet today we saw millions of devalued bucks flowing to Ron Paul, whose entire platform seems to be to ignore the world and hope it goes away.

Admittedly, there is a certain appeal to that thinking right now, but it is just Monday.