Sunday, December 30, 2007

Me, Sic Transit

Electability , like legacy, is an inanity. It’s a mark against us, that they get so much air play. It has no meaning. It has no existence. And more than half the experts are wrong about its presence. Did Michael Dukakis really have more “electability” than Gary Hart? Or did they both lack it and nobody caught on? Who was more “electable”, Gore or Bush the Younger? Did Carter and Bush the Elder possess “electability” and then lose it?

Any of these guys could win in 2008. And all of them could lose. Certainly none of them, and nobody across the aisle, has seized America as unstoppable necessity, the one whose election will legitimize our electoral process, whose defeat would indicate a failure of the American system. The voters are about as settled as five-year-olds at a pool. Nobody is going to capture the nomination without a majority of voters throwing over their current stated position. There’s no basis to declare X has the loyalty of the base, and will grab the independents--but Y does not. X, Y and Z haven’t even got a third of the partisan vote tied in.

Let’s cease arguing that the Force is with McCain or Romney or Giuliani--and get back to what we expect a President to do for America in 2009.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Getting the Old Time Religion

I'm seeing a lot of complaint about how much of the election cycle is given to faith and religion and who's got it and who's faking and who's a kook.

There's really not much earthly matters they can discuss intelligently. Immigration? Energy? War? The budget? I guess they can't come right out and say "It depends who controls Congress, and by what majorities"...but they might as well.

2008 is about winning the power to make whatever quid pro quo is possible for four years, and staking out a position in advance isn't the way to bargain. We didn't have to end up here as a country, but the organized parties insist it be run that way.

And looking ahead, if the value of being a "Republican" or a "Democrat" doesn't mean anything in terms of votes on legislation or policy, but just a sharing of campaign cash...then the power of the two main parties cannot be sustained, in the long term. The reason a state governor or state legislator has to be one of the two Big Parties is to tap into their national organization and campaign chest and voter pool.

But if Ron Paul can go out and raise $6 million dollars online, and fellows like Schwarzenegger can make hay of opposing the national party on almost every issue--then we'll see more state elections become nonpartisan contests. Not all, perhaps not most, but it will become increasingly possible. And that undermines the notion of a "Democrat voter" and a "Republican donor". It will make federal elections more vulnerable to independent challenges.

Should be an interesting century.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Planning for Defeat in Iran

From Newsweek, a depressingly stupid tale:
It has been a tough few years for the old Washington foreign-policy
establishment, the sort of moderate, non-ideological types who were reared to
believe that partisanship stops at the water's edge. [Secretary of Defense]
Robert Gates gives them hope that the pendulum is swinging back, that it is
possible to forge a foreign policy by consensus and common sense and not wishful
thinking or righteous zeal.

Right now, Gates is seen as the best insurance that the Bush
administration (read: Vice President Cheney) will not leave a legacy of ashes in
Iran. According to many former and current government officials who have
conferred with Gates publicly and privately, he takes the conventionally
accepted view that Iran should not be allowed to build nuclear weapons. He
pointedly refuses to rule out military force while calling for more-effective
economic sanctions. But the secretary of Defense has also told associates that
bombing Iran would create chaos in the oil region, unleash terrorism on Europe
and possibly the United States, and serve to strengthen, not weaken, the fragile
and fractious Iranian regime—while only postponing for a year or two its nuclear
ambitions.

To avoid that scenario, Gates has used his considerable bureaucratic
skills to lower the temperature on Iran. He has cautioned military commanders in
the Gulf to guard against the risk of accidents that might give a provocation
for war—the capture of a pilot, say, or a collision at sea. In recent weeks U.S.
commanders in Baghdad have intentionally sought to praise Tehran for being more
cooperative in Iraq. According to two separate sources who declined to be
identified discussing military plans, Gates has also pared down strike options
against Iran, cutting the targets to its nuclear facilities alone. It is a
mistake to make too much of this—the military is constantly being asked to
devise new options for civilian authorities. But Gates has also allowed the top
brass to make public their qualms about attacking Iran, which makes it that much
harder for the White House to steamroll them. This is classic Gates: no noisy
confrontations with the likes of Cheney, just low-key, pragmatic steps to avoid
sparking a conflagration.

This is wishful thinking of the worst sort.
If Iran is not stopped from building nuclear weapons, they will do so.
A nuclear Iran will "create chaos in the oil region, unleash terrorism on Europe and possibly the United States, and serve to strengthen, not weaken, the fragile and fractious Iranian regime" with impunity.
Faced with a nuclear Iran, nobody will give a damn whether the DoD was run with a pragmatic smirk in the final years of the Bush Administration. Not the American people, not our former allies among the Gulf Arabs, and not the phony cowards Gates is smooching up to. After that strategic failure, the best he can hope for is historical anonymity, and let the blame fall on President Bush.
Our strategic goals cannot be achieved by inertia and inaction. That is what the Democrats desire, and Gates seems ready to give it to them.
We are very badly served.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, I peek out to wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

I tried to find video of the President visiting the troops in Iraq in 2003. It appears to have vanished from the Internet. Sad.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Down the Memory Hole

Still here, btw. Just focusing my consciousness on work and school atm.

The NYT did a ten-page article on how evangelicals aren't solidly Republican. A lot of direct quotes. A lot of mention about how they feel betrayed by the Bush Administration. The war is given as a big reason; also runaway spending, the environment, and racial issues.

Not one word about illegal immigration.

Which leaves the evangelical Right oriented right alongside the readership of the NYT...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Novak: 38% Is Too Strong To Ignore!

A really pathetic column, even for Robert Novak. Don't count Rudy out--he's got 27% of churchgoers behind him!

"The most surprising recent national polling result was an answer given by Republicans who attend church weekly when Gallup asked their presidential preference. A plurality chose Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic who in 1999 said: "I don't attend regularly, but I attend occasionally." Their choice raises deep concern among prominent conservative Republicans who feel it would be a serious mistake for leaders of the religious right to scorn the former mayor of New York...In an aggregation of 1,690 interviews with Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in four Gallup surveys during August and September, Giuliani led with 27 percent (to Fred Thompson's 24 percent) among those who said they attended church once a week. Even more startling was the result of interviews with adult voters without regard to party preference. Among churchgoing Catholics, Giuliani led with a plus-38 favorable rating (trailed by Sen. John McCain with a plus-29 and Clinton bringing up the rear with a minus-9)."

Does Novak consider President Bush to be mighty, with those kinds of numbers?

I know there's the expectation that if nominated, the ranks would swell. But Giuliani could double that 27% and still only get about half the religious vote.

The strongest arguments against Rudy Giuliani, are the lame, lying, phony arguments put up for him by his "friends". It's no secret what Robert Novak thinks of the religious Right, and it makes me more certain what Giuliani would do to us.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Moron of the Year

Or possibly of all time.

BOSTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A Washington taxi driver faces a criminal charge
because he joked about being a member of al-Qaida to an airline worker in
Boston.
Ermiyaf A. Asfaw, an Ethiopian national, was returning to Washington from a visit to his girlfriend Saturday when an Air-Tran check-in employee asked him about stickers on his luggage from Dubai. He told her he had been in the United Arab Emirates.
"No. I'm al-Qaida. I'm with them, and I'm here to blow things up," he said when she asked if it had been a trip for business or pleasure.
Asfaw has been charged with making a false bomb threat. A judge set bail Monday at $1,500.
"This airport is not going to tolerate this type of behavior," said Phil Orlandella, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority. "This type of action is completely dumb."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Haeresis

One thing you hear about Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky from just about everybody, is how brilliant and fair and sound he is as a legal scholar, even if he does sound off as a liberal moonbat.

I'm not so sure.

The furor over Chemerinsky's nomination, retention, and dismissal as founding Dean of the UC Irvine law school continues. The Los Angeles Times continued to write on the UCI cha-cha on September 14, 2007 [boldface added]:


The criticism [contra Chemerinsky] included a letter from the California Supreme Court criticizing a Chemerinsky opinion piece in The Times.
In an interview Friday, [California Chief Justice Ronald M.] George said Chemerinsky made a "gross error" that was "very troubling" to the court in an Aug. 16 article that criticized U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales. [UCI Chancellor Michael V.] Drake offered him the job that same day.
George, an appointee of Gov. Pete Wilson, said that Chemerinsky wrote incorrectly that only one state, Arizona, provided lawyers for death row inmates who want to file a constitutional challenge, known as a habeas corpus petition, to have their sentences or convictions overturned.
George said he was surprised Chemerinsky would make such a mistake. The court asked Court Clerk Frederick K. Ohlrich to write a letter to the editor to The Times to correct the piece.
"None of us could understand how somebody, let alone someone who is very bright and a fine legal scholar, could get that wrong," George said. "It had nothing to do with his philosophy. I certainly feel he is an outstanding legal scholar and a fine advocate."
...George gave a copy of the letter to [prominent Orange County attorney Tom] Malcolm.
Malcolm said he gave the letter to Drake. "It disturbed him, but I don't think it was the reason for his decision." Chemerinsky was angered by the letter when told about it by The Times.
"If the justices sent a letter to UC Irvine with the goal of influencing the dean process, that's inappropriate," he said.
He also stood by his article. "My op-ed was accurate in saying California does not comply with the federal standards for providing counsel to those on death row in their post-conviction proceedings, and Arizona is the only state deemed in federal district court to have met the federal standards."




His August 16, 2007 op-ed [boldface added]:


Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales is about to adopt an unnecessary and mean-spirited regulation that will make it harder for those on death row to have their cases reviewed in federal court...It's at this stage, which includes habeas corpus petitions, that serious flaws in trial are often exposed, including the kind of mistakes that lead to the execution of innocent people.

Almost no states provide counsel in these crucial proceedings. So the 1996 law laid out this deal: If a state starts providing lawyers to capital defendants, it will get the benefit of a shorter, six-month statute of limitations.

So far, only Arizona has complied. Other states have decided that it's not worth the expense.

...Gonzales, it has been widely reported, is about to certify California and other states as being in compliance with the 1996 law, in essence just giving them the six-month statute of limitations. But these states have done nothing that this law requires. Everywhere but Arizona, death row inmates still have to pay for their attorneys (unlikely), get pro bono representation (difficult) or represent themselves (unwise). Any "certification" is a lie.




Here is the relevant section of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996
:

Sec. 2261. Prisoners in State custody subject to capital sentence; appointment of counsel; requirement of rule of court or statute; procedures for appointment
`(a) This chapter shall apply to cases arising under section 2254 brought by prisoners in State custody who are subject to a capital sentence. It shall apply only if the provisions of subsections (b) and (c) are satisfied.
`(b) This chapter is applicable if a State establishes by statute, rule of its court of last resort, or by another agency authorized by State law, a mechanism for the appointment, compensation, and payment of reasonable litigation expenses of competent counsel in State post-conviction proceedings brought by indigent prisoners whose capital convictions and sentences have been upheld on direct appeal to the court of last resort in the State or have otherwise become final for State law purposes. The rule of court or statute must provide standards of competency for the appointment of such counsel.
`(c) Any mechanism for the appointment, compensation, and reimbursement of counsel as provided in subsection (b) must offer counsel to all State prisoners under capital sentence and must provide for the entry of an order by a court of record--
`(1) appointing one or more counsels to represent the prisoner upon a finding that the prisoner is indigent and accepted the offer or is unable competently to decide whether to accept or reject the offer;
`(2) finding, after a hearing if necessary, that the prisoner rejected the offer of counsel and made the decision with an understanding of its legal consequences; or
`(3) denying the appointment of counsel upon a finding that the prisoner is not indigent."




"A finding that the prisoner is not indigent". Means-testing. A state legislature, or Supreme Court, can restrict the offer of a government-paid lawyer to the "indigent", and it can set up a scheme to determine who is "indigent".

My point here and now is not whether Dr. Chemerinsky is totally wrong about the 180-day statute of limitations rule, or its likely effects, or the process of certified compliance.

My point--and that of the California Supreme Court--is that his opposition has crossed a line into misstatement of federal law, and misrepresentation of California as out of compliance with that law. And he continues to do so, in another op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2007:


"What was it about my views that was too controversial? Only one example was mentioned: an Op-Ed article I wrote on these pages criticizing a proposed regulation by then-Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales to shorten the time death row prisoners have to file their habeas corpus petitions. There are more than 275 individuals on death row in California without lawyers for their post-conviction proceedings. The effect of the new rule would be that many individuals, including innocent ones, would not get the chance to have their cases reviewed in federal court.

...The truth is that a person's politics should play no role in the decision to hire them for a faculty or administrative position. All that matters is that the individual be committed to creating an institution where all viewpoints will be respected and flourish. That is what academic freedom is all about."



I would add the proposition that the nominee be practically sound in their field of discipline. Chemerinsky has not been. This is not the first rabble-rousing op-ed where he abuses his authority as a legal scholar to promote a false, but politically favorable, conclusion.

"Arizona is the only state deemed in federal district court to have met the federal standards"--well sure, if Arizona is the only state that anybody sued federally over their compensation mechanism under the 1996 Act.

I think Chief Justice George did get one thing wrong, when he said "None of us could understand how somebody, let alone someone who is very bright and a fine legal scholar, could get that wrong,...It had nothing to do with his philosophy." I can guess why a liberal opposes means-testing, and it does have to do with his philosophy.

So there we stand, with Erwin Chemerinsky defiantly wrong, and telling everybody from the California Supreme Court on down where to go. Do we need that sort of thing at the University of California? No!--Berkeley has already got Angela Davis, and seniority hath its privileges.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Andrew Sullivan Gets Sloppy

Surfing around I became aware Andrew Sullivan wrote a piece for the Atlantic that is become infamous on the left side of the Net. It's titled "Verschärfte Vernehmung" and it breathlessly concludes:
Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The
methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
To arrive at this startling indictment, Sullivan quotes from a Gestapo memo on "sharpened interrogation":

4. The sharpening can consist of the following, among other things, according to circumstances: simplest rations (bread and water); hard bed; dark cell; deprivation of sleep; exhaustion exercises; but also the resort to blows with a stick (in case of more than 20 blows, a doctor must be present)

Sullivan also mentions that "waterboarding" and hypothermia were later added to the roster. He lists several accounts from Norway, where hypothermia and other "enhanced interrogation" techniques were used, described as torture, and death sentences handed down.

Sullivan wants to draw specific attention to the definition of torture handed down by the Norwegian court:
Notice the classic, universal and simple criterion used to define torture in 1948 (my italics): "In deciding the degree of punishment, the Court found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious physical and mental suffering on their victims, and did not find sufficient reason for a mitigation of the punishment in accordance with the provisions laid down in Art. 5 of the Provisional Decree of 4th May, 1945. The Court came to the conclusion that such acts, even though they were committed with the connivance of superiors in rank or even on their orders, must be regarded and punished as serious war crimes."
Sullivan's point is clear: these activities are so heinous as to be indefensible, condemned historically as capital crimes.

But the conclusion of the Norwegian court was in fact, quite the opposite.

Following the link Sullivan provides, the study reveals that the Norwegian Court was considering violations of Norwegian law by German occupiers:
Art. 228. He who commits an act of violence against another person or in any other way inflicts bodily harm on him, or is an accomplice to such an act, will be fined or sentenced to imprisonment for a period of up to six months. If the act has resulted in some injury to body or health or considerable pain, a term of up to three years imprisonment can be inflicted and up to five years if the act resulted in death or grave injury. . . .
Art. 229. He who causes harm to another person’s body or health, or ;puts another person into a state of helplessness, unconsciousness or any similar state, or who is an accomplice to such an act, will be punished by a term of up to three years and up to six years if the act has resulted in sickness or disability to work lasting more than two weeks, or permanent injury, and up to eight years if the act has resulted in death or considerable injury to body or health. . . .
Art. 232. If an act mentioned in Arts. 228-231 was premeditated and carried out in a particularly painful way or by means of poison or other similar substances which are highly dangerous to the health, or with a knife or other particularly dangerous
instrument, a term of imprisonment must always be inflicted. Life imprisonment may be inflicted for crimes against Art. 231 carried out under the same conditions. For crimes against Arts. 228-229 the term of imprisonment fixed by those paragraphs can be increased by a term of up to three years.
The presiding Norse judge, Larssen, applied the logic of a Judge Skau in a previous case, that violations of Norse law by the occupying power were punishable retroactively as war crimes.

Skau, in handing down death sentences for crimes for which prewar statute provided merely imprisonment of four to six years, or in lethal cases, life, engaged in a breathtaking piroutte of legal activism: The Norse government being in exile, had been forced to take a hiatus on the passage of criminal law. Had the government been aware, prewar, of the wartime excesses of the Quisling regime, it would have been harsher on violation of the three Articles. And in any event, since these crimes were committed in time of war, they were war crimes; and since previous armies historically punished war crimes with death, they were now (in 1948 Norway) punishable by death, despite the lesser statutory penalty.

So that's the historical record behind Sullivan's "reporting": A judge found these actions punishable by a retroactive, blanket death penalty provision, when committed by German occupiers. It was not the horror of "torture" in and of itself that drew the death sentence, but its role as a crime of conquerors against a vanquished people. The Norse made clear, in fact, that there could possibly be a mitigation of the offense.

It would be hard for them to be more contrary to Sullivan's own position on Bush's "torture".

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Birthday Musings

Wow! A lengthy hiatus.

I've been very very very busy. I should be busy now, on my term projects, but I'm snatching a few hours of leisure before returning to the grindstone.

The weather is dreadful, the worst smeltering smelly heat since the big fires of 2003. The crew coming off the racetrack had a few guys suffering from heatstroke. Hopefully it will rain or blow over or something soon.

Within a few weeks I'll be free between classes and hopefully will have more regular internet access.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Connecting the Dots?

A few weeks ago some European netpals rubbed my Yank nose with this one:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Pentagon cannot track about 30% of the weapons distributed in Iraq over the past three years. The Pentagon did not dispute the figures, but said it was reviewing arms deliveries procedures...The GAO reached the estimate - 111,000 missing AK-47s and 80,000 missing pistols [emphasis mine CB] - by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records maintained by Gen Petraeus of the arms and equipment he ordered. Deputy Assistant Defence Secretary Mark Kimmitt told AFP the Pentagon was "reviewing policies and procedures to ensure US-funded equipment reaches the intended Iraqi security forces under the Iraq program".
Oh those feckless GIs!

Or maybe not. Saw this on Drudge today:
Analysts believe PJAK is the fastest growing armed resistance group in Iran. As well as the 3,000 or so members under arms in the mountains, it also claims tens of thousands of followers in secret cells in Iranian Kurdistan. Its campaigning on women's rights has struck a chord with young Iranian Kurdish women. The group says 45% of its fighters are female. Iranian authorities regard the group as a terrorist outfit being sponsored and armed by the US to increase pressure on Iran. On a recent visit to PJAK camps in the Qandil mountains the Guardian saw no evidence of American weaponry. The majority of its fighters toted Soviet-era Kalashnikovs. [emphasis mine. CB] In an interview Biryar Gabar, a member of the leadership committee, said the group had no relations with the Americans, but was "open to any group that shares our ideals of a free federal democratic and secular Iran."
I'm making a huge leap in the dark here, but it's interesting to speculate ...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

False Histories

My coherent thought--such as it is-- in my free time-- such as it has been-- has been given over to homework lately. Which is what I'm paying for. The job has been bustling so much I stagger out the door each day, which is what I'm paid for. So I suppose this is normal and good. The blog has suffered, though. (Or not, if you don't like how I think.)

Drowsily browsing the Web, I've noted the emerging False History of Iraq. Let me give an example:

It is significant, for example, that a Defense Intelligence Agency team received orders to find links between al-Qaida and Hussein. That there were none was ignored. Key adviser Paul Wolfowitz's immediate reaction to Sept. 11 was "war on Iraq." Anarchy in that land was all but assured when the Iraqi army was disbanded against urgent advice from our people in the field. That meant that a huge number of competent military men, most of them no lovers of Saddam, were rendered unemployed -- and still armed. How was this disastrous decision arrived at? People directly involved said it came as an order from administration officials who had never been to Iraq.

That's Roger Ebert, huge critic of the war, reviewing a war policy flick.

Let me give another example:

A few months ago, the American people, discouraged by an American War effort that was clueless and ineffective, wanted to abandon the Iraqi people to whatever Hobbesian fate might await them...Since David Petraeus took over operations in Iraq, America has had a clear and coherent strategy...Kristol said
words to the effect of, “2006 was a disastrous year in Iraq, and for the President and Rumsfeld and Casey to have allowed it to degenerate as much as it did then almost excuses the voters turning Congress over to the Democrats in November.”...Alberto Gonzales is still sadly the attorney general, but David Petraeus has removed the stench of incompetence and indecision from the Iraqi theatre...With a disastrous war effort afoot, emotional political appeals to bring the troops home immediately had some resonance and made at least a little sense...When a war is being mismanaged (or non-managed) as the Iraq War was for
an extended period, the accompanying stumbling serves to accredit a reactionary sort of peacenik politics that thinks it would be a swell thing to have tea with Ahmadenijad and Kim Jong Il.

That's Dean Barnett, huge supporter of the war, reviewing the Democratic Party.

Ebert feels the whole war is one big snafu, and Barnett speaks with the "I'm With You" pragmatism of the center-right. But there's something seriously wrong when supposed opponents frame their opinions around the same falsehood: In 2006, the United States was losing in Iraq.

Let's move through the list. The 9/11 Commission, which finished deliberating over three years ago, denying it 36 months of captured Al Qaeda records and operatives, did not find "no links" between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Bin Laden's #3, said there were. The Czech intelligence service said there were. Mukhabarat archives said there were. That the 9/11 Commission chose to find those facts insufficient proof of an Iraqi conspiracy to further 9/11 is a quotable, arguable conclusion; but it doesn't erase the links themselves. Just as it is historical fact that Hitler met with Indian separatists to discuss a revolt in the British Empire, and historical fact that nothing came of the meetings. The links are there, the policy is not.

It would be news to the Kurds and other minorities of Saddam's Iraq, that the Iraqi army by and large "did not love Saddam". Their apathy didn't stop them slaughtering tens of thousands of opponents of the regime. The history of six continents demonstrates what happens to states whose armies have older, deeper loyalties than the regime. I still can't understand why it's soooo dumb not to have hired assassins and snipers, because obviously they're just violent over being unemployed! Saddam's Army did not radiate an aura of respect that quelled crime nonviolently: they killed people. What Ebert is lamenting, basically, is a failure of neofascist repression.

As for Wolfowitz's "immediate reaction"--perhaps, but this is part of the wider "Rush to War" lie that the Left loves to spin. If Saddam had done a Ghadafi for the Security Council, today he might be a bigger "strategic partner" than Musharraf. The war, up until 2003 itself, was not inevitable, and its the "Warmonger-in-Chief" who spent a year on the diplomacy of "Saddam's last chance".

Barnett, in another post, raked Paul Bremer over the coals for blocking Baathists from holding office--another popular "self-evident truth". But History relates that Paul Bremer held authority in Iraq from June 2003 to July 2004. Uday and Kusay Hussein were not killed until July 2003, and Saddam himself was only captured in December 2003. Was Bremer supposed to fill Iraq with open conspirators for the fugitive "President of Iraq"? Or was he just supposed to retain independent administrators as "at-will" hires, to be fired once it was safe to bring in the real government of Iraq?

Such questions are in poor taste in 21st century America, they challenge the voter to give serious thought to objective answers, instead of just presenting a head on a pike to boo at. Do that often enough and you find yourself with an "agenda". How 20th century.

2006 was not a year of defeat for the United States, or absence of policy, or the brink of defeat. 2006 was a year where our plans and allied efforts didn't work as well as what weve tried in 2007. That is sufficient reason not to repeat what we did in 2006. It is not a sound basis to slander the war Administration as "clueless, ineffective, incoherent, disastrous." That is not just. The political machinations, the Surge, are possible because of the tremendous good we achieved in 2006. We turned over local administration to Iraqis. We not only allowed them to sell oil contracts to countries like France--we helped them do so. We kept training and arming Iraqi forces who are today fighting for victory. How big a Surge could we scrape up if we still had to maintain direct control of 18 military districts? Again, a tactless question. Just ignore it as a right-wing koan.

Not only is it unjust, it is also dumb. Considering foriegn opinion, postcolonial Africa is full of winners who had worse decades than what the Coalition and the Iraq state suffered. Egypt lost 13,000 troops in two months of the Yom Kippur War, and had to give land back, and they celebrate it as a victory. Such nations are not going to be impressed by American kvetching over our low losses securing national borders and a friendly government. Considering domestic opinion, I can't be the only American who remembers Barnett & Co. speaking just as enthusiastically about Rumsfeld and Casey prior to November 2006.

I think I know, and share, what the center-right wants to achieve, but is the Memory Hole really a tool of the New and Improved GOP?

Truthfully remembering the world as it was, is part of having real integrity. And nothing good comes of surrendering integrity.

Monday, July 30, 2007

UnThink

My living memory of the Carter Administration was a very rude man who interrupted Sesame Street twice in one day. I was too young, thankfully, to fully appreciate the lack of intelligence to which we were subject.

Walter Mondale offers an example:
Through his vast government experience, through the friends he had been able to place in key positions and through his considerable political skills, he has been increasingly able to determine the answers to questions put to the president -- because he has been able to determine the questions. It was Cheney who persuaded President Bush to sign an order that denied access to any court by foreign terrorism suspects and Cheney who determined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Rather than subject his views to an established (and rational) vetting process, his practice has been to trust only his immediate staff before taking ideas directly to the president. Many of the ideas that Bush has subsequently bought into have
proved offensive to the values of the Constitution and have been embarrassingly overturned by the courts. The corollary to Cheney's zealous embrace of secrecy is his near total aversion to the notion of accountability. I've never seen a former member of the House of Representatives demonstrate such contempt for Congress -- even when it was controlled by his own party. His insistence on invoking executive privilege to block virtually every congressional request for information has been stupefying -- it's almost as if he denies the legitimacy of
an equal branch of government. Nor does he exhibit much respect for public opinion, which amounts to indifference toward being held accountable by the people who elected him.
Whatever authority a vice president has is derived from the president under whom he serves. There are no powers inherent in the office; they must be delegated by the president. Somehow, not only has Cheney been given vast authority by President Bush -- including, apparently, the entire intelligence portfolio -- but he also pursues his own agenda. The real question is why the president allows this to happen.

Once it becomes clear that the President allows it to happen--that it is, in fact, delegated power from the elected President--where's the extra-constitutionality? If Cheney does not volunteer to obey the polls, Congressional committees, and staff, how is that unconstitutional unaccountability, if he's accountable to the President who assigns him his roles? This smacks of the old Chinese saw that revolt against the Imperial government was necessary to "rescue" the Son of Heaven from his advisors.

Where does the Constitution specify the internal process for floating policy trial balloons? Doesn't a wartime Administration have an obligation to keep tight rein on hypothetical amendments to intelligence operations? Apparently not; apparently a commitment to the constitution requires such measures be floated beyond "immediate staff".

There have not been "many" reversals of the Administration line, and most of those that have been issued by trial courts are still on appeal. Not among them, to my knowledge, is a single reversal of an executive privilege claim by the President--not Cheney, but by Bush covering Cheney's office. Where's the judicial support for Mondale's outrage over Cheney's secrecy?

It's just more of the circular reasoning of BDS: What Bush & Co. are up to is dangerously wrong, because it's being done by Bush & Co.

Friday, July 20, 2007

About Damn Time

(AP) Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton D-NY speaks
before a meeting of the...Full Image He added that "such talk
understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume
enormous personal risks."
At last. It shouldn't be left to Dick Cheney, during an election year, to point out that wartime leaders have an obligation to our country and our allies for their conduct.
Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called Edelman's answer "at once outrageous
and dangerous," and said the senator would respond to his boss, Defense
Secretary Robert Gates.

We'll see, shortly, if this Administration has the political will to carry out the war at home that must be fought for the sake of Iraq.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer

And the days and nights slip by in a blur of quick naps and chores.

I'll blog when I have something intelligent and original. Hopefully at least once a week.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

And Still No Outrage...

At least, no organized outrage.

Pelosi and Reid and Lugar are mobilizing for another "lose the war" drive. The House and Senate GOP are going to have to think for themselves, and act for the country, instead of waiting for somebody else, anybody else, to make it safe to stand up for victory in Iraq.

Committment against the defeatists is going to count for a lot more than waiving jail time for convicted aides.

Friday, June 29, 2007

So Where's the Outrage?

Lugar and Voinovich want to take a knee to Al Qaeda. They want what Murtha wants, for the same reason that Murtha wants it. They're against our side. They're stumping for defeat.

Where's the outrage?

Republicans had no problem nailing traitors to the wall when they came with a (D). Now what?

I'm an independent now because I saw this coming some weeks back. The Party of Lincoln can't stand for anything. You can't be for victory and sustain defeatists. And until the Republicans purge the party of such scum, I won't stain myself with that (R).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fooey!

Center for American Progress says talk radio is conservative by squashing local, independent radio.

FOOEY!

Check Appendix C. KFI-AM Los Angeles is rated as having 13 hours of "conservative" talk a day, and ZERO "progressive" talk.

Ha!

Bill Handel has the #1 rated show in the morning drive in Los Angeles, he has 1 hour more than Rush Limbaugh, and he rants daily against Iraq, stem cell limitations, the Department of Justice, the entire Republican Party, and the Christian Right. "Zero"??

If they ignore the #1 guy in the #2 market, what else got swept under the rug?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Anniversary Retrospective

"Blogging From the Moon" as I once said, I don't much notice the passage of the seasons.

I actually did post on the Third Anniversary of Tan Horizons, May 14th 2007, without realizing it was the Third Anniversary.

Full of lukewarm coffee, I'm reading through my entries over the last three years. Fairly entertaining. I'm struck by how rarely I hit my stride these past years since working the graveyard shift. The fact that I don't have home internet this year is another millstone.

To help celebrate I'm going to throw out an old chestnut from the draft pile. I started writing this almost two years ago, December 5 2005. I never got around to coherently completing it. It's called Lock Up The War Room.
The clearest legacy of the Clinton Presidency is the War Room, a
General-Staff approach to electioneering. Just as the Prussians revolutionized
warfare with kriegspiel, continual exercises and experimental
models of transport, supply and tactics leading to the development of a
coherent, comprehensive war plan, so the War Room ran continual focus group
tests, surveys and polls, and regular press releases for disparaging the
opposition and floating policy trial balloons, for the control of Image and
creation of a successfully popular Message.

The development of satellite cable, national talk radio, and the Internet
made a conscious approach to the totality of campaigning necessary. The War Room
approach benefits candidates by offering maximum exploitation of the running
political commentary of the 21st century.

The pace and product of the War Room also fulfills the business needs and
professional focus of the 21st century media. As a perpetual broadcaster of
news, the media enjoys the fresh material for discussion the War Room provides.

The focus of the material also perfectly suits the media. Ideally, the
Washington press corps can intelligently cover every federal responsibility;
practically, they are not competent to understand most policy debates, let alone
explain them. The War Room's reduction of every policy to a poll result permits
the media to cover war, civil engineering, Social Security, industrial
emissions, or appropriations limits in the same way: in terms of public opinion,
institutional activity, or shifts in the social hierarchy of power-- areas where
the Washington press corps presumes expertise. The failure of the New Orleans
levees is an example; the reports of the engineers as to why the levees
collapsed is not given the attention paid to Congressional hearings, personnel
shifts in federal agencies, and poll results as to whether federal or local
leaders are more trusted.

Note the ease with which political analysts move from War Room to media
punditry. Dick Morris is performing the same role for his syndicate, as he did
for the President. The product his ruminations as columnist is identical to his
advice as counselor.

The Clintonian War Room seemed so successful that it was retained beyond
the 1992 election, as a tool for enacting the incoming President's legislative
agenda. In this role, despite partisan monopoly on the institutions of federal
government, the War Room failed miserably. It did continue to help the President
maintain high approval ratings. President Clinton preferred such high ratings to
enactment of an ideological platform, and the War Room retained its prominence.
Increasingly, it determined not only how and when to propose policy, but
increasingly, which policy to propose.

The War Room--so well adapted to modern media, and linked to a two-term
Presidency, has been retained by the GOP in its hour of power. Thus it is no
accident that the GOP, which shares the popular mandate and institutional
control that President Clinton enjoyed in 1993, fails to translate these
strengths into a successful legislative agenda. They have adopted a strategic
tool that is almost completely unsuitable for that purpose.

The War Room fails to advance legislation because it fails to appreciate
the personal qualities of salesmanship, intuitive empathy, and leadership. The
War Room's chief myth is that superior organization is to compensate for a lack
of such qualities or to minimize their impact on public opinion. It tends
towards reaction rather than direction of public opinion.

Salesmanship is the art of promoting an emotional connection between the
customer and the promoter, so that a business commitment is forged. Successful
business cringes from the old “it sells itself” approach. Ignoring emotional
appeal, and relying on the customer to perform intellectual analysis of the
values of the product compared to its cost, loses customers who could have been
persuaded into a sale.

No person ignorant of the basic need for emotional appeal is going to get
anywhere close to a War Room. Yet, we see candidates urged to “conserve
resources” and avoid “wasting money” on audiences that the experts judge to be
lost causes. Any California Republican can see the lean harvest reaped by such
an approach.

Another attribute undervalued by the War Room is intuitive empathy. Lord
Salisbury, the British Prime Minister, once marveled at Queen Victoria’s
“extraordinary” ability to know what her subjects expected of her
governments—which he found remarkable, as she had no practical experience of her
subjects to guide her. No human being can possess perfect empathy, but it’s
significant how deeply it’s appreciated and prized. In all fields of human
endeavor—from politics, romance, scholarship, sports coaching—nothing strikes so
deep an emotional chord as the unsolicited, sincere affirmation of our inner
values by someone else.

The problem is maintaining that sincerity while trying to regulate and
systematically generate that spark of empathy on a broad level, on an consistent
basis. It’s nearly impossible, and is the reason people want legal protection
against telemarketers calling them at all.

Am I arguing in circles? Politicians must bond emotionally with voters but
not strive to do so? Am I demanding the impossible?

No.

The bubble of 21st century celebrity hype must be exploded, and politics
needs to regain the distinction between being liked, and being respected. It
must remember that Americans place different demands on Larry King and on the
Senators he interviews. It must recall the value of leadership.

Margaret Thatcher defined leadership as the “absence of consensus”. This is
often misunderstood as arbitrary, unilateral reasoning. Margaret Thatcher knew
better. Leadership is not about reserving all debate or effort into one central
authority figure; leadership reserves the power to decide.

The American republic was set up to give the nation indirect control of
decisions. The voters have always understood that they will not directly control
the great issues of their lives. We have developed a method by which they can be
resolved peaceably through proxies. In return for


And there it rested. I see I also saved a couple of links for use in the final essay. One's to a Dick Armey op-ed calling for the sort of leadership I still long for. The other is to a Washington Post piece by Jonathan Rauch that I found horribly despicable at the time; it called for Bush to bail on Iraq in 2005 to avoid a midterm defeat, based on poll numbers.

We all know which way my former party has decided to jump. It's still falling.

We're starting to hear that the war in Iraq is "politically unsustainable". I hear that as if a heat wave is coming through: nothing you can do about it but hunker down. There's very little salesmanship left in U.S. politics; we're each left to rationalize our own reasons for nervous twitches towards one party line or the other.

I'd feel much, much better about the 2008 race if somebody were even talking about working towards building a bridge between the Presidential and Congressional races. That isn't on the table, for some reason. As I blogged before the 2006 election, Republicans will talk about anything but the use of power, if they win.

The final, inalienable freedom: the freedom to fail. We're building a heathen culture around that one. I'm reminded of the guy who sued the transit authority for being electrocuted while urinating on the tracks. Nobody could tell him anything, and everybody else is responsible for the consequences.

However, a positive note, as I blogged before: all political issues are people problems. Get different people, solve the problem.

Happy Third. Excelsior!

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's Amnesty, Governor

Gov. Janet Neapolitano of Arizona, in the Washington Post:


No one favors illegal immigration.

Well, there's plenty who want an open border without regard to immigration law, and there's people who want immigration law to give everybody a green light, so I'm not sure that's true.

For 20 years our country has done basically nothing to enforce the 1986
legislation against either the employers who hired illegal immigrants or those
who crossed our borders illegally to work for them. Accordingly, our current
system is, effectively, silent amnesty.

Up until a few years ago our government was running sweeps of urban employers to halt illegal immigration. There's been a surge this century in illegal immigration, in part because the Bush Administration refuses to do what works, and in part because the government of Mexico is wholeheartedly supportive of the idea. So again, I don't think that's true.

We haven't caught the arsonists who torch the hills of Southern California each summer for the past few years; that failure doesn't amount to "silent amnesty".
· A man in the United States illegally was pulled over in Phoenix and charged
with driving under the influence. Immigration officers arrested him, his wife
and their 19-year-old son, who were also here illegally. An aunt says that their
12-year-old daughter -- who is an American citizen -- cries every day for the
family members who had to leave her behind. This is a fair immigration system?

Yes. Immigration policy doesn't resolve custody. They are free to bring their daughter back home with them.
The Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency has sent several top-ranking
students from Arizona State University to a camp in Eloy, Ariz., to await
deportation to countries they have never lived in. The students have earned top
marks, have never been in serious legal trouble and by all measures are primed
to become productive members of our economy. This is a wise immigration policy?

No. They should have been deported long before they started consuming state educational resources.
A team from an Arizona high school that has a high percentage of immigrant
students went to Upstate New York in 2002 to compete in a science fair. After
winning the top prize, the students crossed into Canada to see Niagara Falls --
and were stopped at the border when they tried to return. After nine hours of
interrogation they were allowed back into the United States, but a years-long
legal battle ensued over whether they should be deported. We spent precious law
enforcement resources on these high school students rather than on combating
putative terrorist threats or, indeed, on infectious tuberculosis carriers. This
is good homeland security?

Excellent, if they're questioning everybody as they should be doing, even high school students. Aren't the custodial adults responsible for abiding by all federal and state laws on their field trips? They did understand they were leaving the United States, did they not?

Don't label me soft on illegal immigration.

Why not? You seem willing to grant exceptions to immigration law at every turn.
It is fundamentally unfair and unrealistic to suggest that our system remain as
it is and ignore the 12 million who ran the gantlet at the border and managed to
find work in our country. It is not "amnesty" to require these individuals to
earn the privilege of citizenship, as have the millions of immigrants who came
before them.

I accuse her of being buttery-soft on illegal immigration because once they "run the gauntlet" and land in America, she wants them left alone. Congress can "require" they pursue citizenship, but as she's well aware, million of "immigrants" want nothing to do with Los Estados Unidos except to earn its dollars, and the whole point of "comprehensive reform" is to rewrite the laws to ignore those 12 millions.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Aloha

My new voter registration card came in the mail today. Party registration: REP.

I'm going to have to correct that. IND. I thought I'd already fixed it.

There's millions of words I could write as to Why, but brevity is the soul of wit: Duty. The usual modern American politician professes none.

Oh please, as if that's new. Well it is, fairly new. New as the War Room and the ticker-tape polling. The idea that you'd spend half-a-billion dollars to get elected, and then, having won a majority and a supermajority and darn near omnipresence, balk because weekly polls don't show the American public as a whole demands you do it the way you promised. Move the rocks out of the road and they'll roll. Somebody else, some national entity other than the Republican Party, must do the heavy lifting.

Fine. I'll go join that outfit, that ragtag bunch of misfits on a mission, where-ever they are, and wear their label. Conservative will do for a start.

Go check out hughhewitt.com or captainsquartersblog.com or powerlineblog.com or anywhere else the center-right hangs out. Soak up the zeigeist in the comments pages. It's almost entirely negative, cynical, hypocritical. I've lost the sense that Republicans, as a whole, are even trying to do their best for their country. The best is the enemy of the good. Better the lesser evil. The lesser evil is still evil, and good enough isn't.

And that's just the voters. The politicians are something else. Because they don't care. Because they don't have to. They are the Party. I had the delusion that it was about Me, and hundreds of millions of voters like me. I was sure wrong about that! It's about the careerists. We couldn't do anything (were we going to do anything--which we're not) without the sacrificial lambs who hold office. It's lucky for us we can even find the thousand guys willing to bear the burden of federal office.

I see plenty of others fed up too. For them it's Amnesty III. For me the camel's straw is the war. The conditional committment to the war. That, in and of itself, whether or not we keep fighting, is foully disloyal. It's slam-dunk unpatriotic to say, Keep fighting and I'll get back to you whether I'll let you win. And if it were anybody but Traitor (R), they'd be denounced for the defeatist swine they are. But Traitor (R) is our joe, and inviolate. That's sacred. Loyalty to the troops and our allies, and our honor, is optional: we may, or may not, sit in that section of the stands within the Big Tent.

The Big Tent is too crowded and smells like elephant dung. I prefer the fresher air outside.

Brevity. I will spurn Reagan's 11th Commandment, to do full honor to the Ten. As a man. As an American. Not a sheeple.

And if anybody knows some guys eager to actually solve runaway judges and a shrunken military and proliferation and the housing bubble and fuel inflation and terrorism and taxation and earmarks and criminal speech and soft bigotry of low expectations and Aztlan and illiterate grads and traffic and organized sports-crime, and Senatorial privilege, Arab doubt, European certitude, popular socialism and everything else I thought I was confronting by voting Republican, there's a vote available.

It's my duty.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wrong, and Dumb

From the Washington Post:
May 26, 2007, 11:51PMMedical experiments to be done without patients'
consentFive-year project aims to improve car crash, cardiac, other
treatments
By ROB STEINWashington Post
The studies are being conducted by
the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, a network that includes medical centers
in Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Dallas, Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee,
Toronto and Ottawa and around Iowa and British Columbia. WASHINGTON — The
federal government is undertaking the most ambitious set of studies ever mounted
under a controversial arrangement that allows researchers to conduct some kinds
of medical experiments without first getting the patients' permission.
The
$50 million, five-year project, which will involve more than 20,000 patients in
11 sites in the United States and Canada, is designed to improve treatment after
car accidents, shootings, cardiac arrest and other emergencies.
The three
studies, organizers say, offer an unprecedented opportunity to find better ways
to resuscitate people whose hearts suddenly stop, to stabilize patients who go
into shock and to minimize damage from head injuries. Because such patients are
usually unconscious at a time when every minute counts, it is often impossible
to get consent from them or their families, the organizers say.
The project
has been endorsed by many trauma experts and some bioethicists, but others
question it. The harshest critics say the research violates fundamental ethical
principles.
The organizers said the studies are going forward only after an
exhaustive scientific and ethical review by the National Institutes of Health,
which authorized the funding in 2004, and the Food and Drug Administration,
which approved the first phase about a year ago and the second phase six months
ago.
The first experiments, involving nearly 6,000 patients, focus on people
who are in shock or have suffered head injuries from a car crash, a fall or some
other trauma.
About 40,000 such patients show up at hospitals each year, and
the standard practice is to give them saline infusions to stabilize their blood
pressure. For the study, emergency medical workers are randomly infusing some
patients with "hypertonic" solutions containing much higher levels of sodium,
with or without a drug called dextran. Animal research and small studies
involving people have indicated that hypertonic solutions could save more lives
and minimize brain damage.
The next experiment, which will involve about
15,000 patients, is designed to determine how best to revive those whose hearts
suddenly stop beating. About 180,000 Americans suffer these sudden cardiac
arrests each year.
Emergency medical workers often shock these patients
immediately to try to get their hearts started again. But some do a few minutes
of cardiopulmonary resuscitation first. Researchers want to determine which
strategy works better by randomly trying one or the other — both with and
without a special valve attached to devices used to push air into the lungs
during CPR. That study is expected to start next month.
"We will never know
the best way to treat people unless we do this research. And the only way we can
do this research, since the person is unconscious, is without consent," said
Myron Weisfeldt of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is
overseeing the project. "Even if there are family members present, they know
their loved one is dying. The ambulance is there. The sirens are going off. You
can't possibly imagine gaining a meaningful informed consent from someone under
those circumstances."
Before starting the research at each site, researchers
complete a "community consultation" process. Local organizers try to notify the
public about the study and gauge the reaction through public meetings, telephone
surveys, Internet postings and advertisements and through stories in local
media. Anyone who objects can get a special bracelet to alert medical workers
that they refuse to participate.
The project proceeds only after also being
vetted by a set of local independent reviewers known as an institutional review
board. Another group of independent advisers known as a data safety monitoring
board will periodically review the study for any signs of problems.
Despite
such oversight, some previous similar projects have sparked intense debate. Most
recently, a study testing a blood substitute called PolyHeme was criticized for
putting patients at risk without consent.
In fact, concerns raised by the
PolyHeme study and others prompted the FDA to launch a review of the entire
program that permits experiments to be done without consent in emergency
situations.
"The ethics and policy concern is how you balance the
streamlining of research to get the best information to treat patients against
the moral imperative to get consent," said Nancy M.P. King, a bioethicist at
Wake Forest University School of Medicine. "The emergency consent exception is
supposed to carve out a very narrow window. What's been happening is that narrow
window seems to be expanding."
Some bioethicists say the new research is more
ethical than some of the earlier studies in several ways, including that
patients are not being denied highly effective therapies. Most patients who
receive the current treatments do not survive.
"I understand why there might
be concerns, but I think ethically this is permissible," said Arthur Derse, a
bioethicist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, which refused to participate in
the PolyHeme study. "The treatments we currently have are
unsatisfactory."
But others say that the studies could be done by finding
patients or family members who are in a position to provide consent, even though
that might make such studies more difficult.
"This just seems like lazy
investigators not wanting to try to get informed consent in situations where it
is difficult to get it, so they say it is impossible," said George Annas, a
Boston University bioethicist. "I don't think we should use people like
this."
Annas was particularly disturbed that children as young as 15 might be
included in the research.
"Suppose a 15-year-old child is in the back of a
car that is in a terrible accident," Annas said. "The EMTs arrive and say: 'We
are doing an experiment with two techniques. We think they are about equal. Is
it okay if we flip a coin to see how we treat your son? Or would you rather we
just give him the treatment we think is best?' Unless you think all parents
would have the EMTs flip a coin, consent here is necessary."
Others are
concerned patients may be getting experimental therapies that could turn out to
be inferior to standard treatments.
"The most promising experimental medical
interventions have often been shown to be less effective than standard
treatment," said Kenneth Kipnis, a University of Hawaii bioethicist.
The
"community consultation" process has also come under fire.
"Community
consultation is intended to be a collaboration with the community of potential
subjects, not just letting them know what the plan is," said King, the Wake
Forest bioethicist.
But Weisfeldt at Johns Hopkins said the critics would be
unhappy under any circumstances.
"Some people object to the whole concept of
doing any study whatsoever without permission," Weisfeldt said. "We try to
explain all the layers of approval we've gone through and that this is the only
way we can do the kind of research that could save many more lives in the
future."
I have long suspected that the whole purpose of the discipline of "bioethics" is to rationalize a Yes to whatever scientists can conceive.

On my driver's license is a little printed sticker. It came with my license. There's a blank for the sticker on the laminated card. I choose to be an organ donor, so I put the little sticker in the little blank. I gave my consent in advance. If I change my mind, I remove the sticker.

That's how you get your consent. But that would probably be too difficult for the researchers. For their convenience, thousands of Americans will be unwitting guinea pigs in mortal experiments.

That's wrong. And by presuming that federal regulatory permission somehow voids state medical malpractice and civil liability laws, it is also breathtakingly stupid.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jimmy Carter, BDS Sufferer

Or rather, we're all suffering from his Bush Derangement Syndrome.

In what way does "pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered" a "radical departure" from Nixon's bombardment of Laos and Cambodia, and Reagan's invasion of Grenada and bombardment of Tripoli and deployment to Beruit?

Plenty of people jump up to argue that America's "basic values" were upheld by selling out Taiwan, killing Allende, and backing the Shah with no questions asked. But from what I recall, Jimmy Carter won the Presidency by vowing not to do that crap.

I guess the difference is, thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter could embarrass a Republican incumbent by denouncing realpolitik, and today, he imagines he can embarrass one by applauding it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

"The Iraqi government is a huge disappointment," Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN'S Late Edition
on Sunday.
"So
far, they've not been able do anything they promised on the political side," the
Kentucky Republican said, citing the Iraqis' failure to pass a new oil revenue
bill, hold local elections and dismantle the former Baath Party of Saddam
Hussein. "It's a growing frustration."
"Republicans overwhelmingly feel
disappointed about the Iraqi government," he added.

What good does whining like this do? Reinforce support for the Republican Party in the Senate?

I don't say this won't get one single vote for Republicans next year. It won't be much more than that, though.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hoes Down?

Lively bickering over at Captain's Quarters regarding prostitution. Ed's agin it.

Some people think legal prostitution works out just fine in other countries. I think that may be because American commercial geniuses haven't been permitted to 'bring it into the 21st century'

Homeowner: Hello?
Telemarketer: Good evening, Mr. Johnson?
Homeowner: Johansen.
Telemarketer: I'm Nancy from Horow, how are you this evening?
Homeowner: We're eating dinner right now.
Telemarketer: [chuckle] Great, well I just wanted to call you and tell you about our new Horow Hotel that is opening downtown.
Homeowner: I really don't think we'd be interested.
Telemarketer: Horow Hotel is a comprehensive sexuality experience for the whole family! Horow Hotels have stimulated thousands of partners to new heights of creativity through our deluxe
Homeowner: [click]

or this

TV Texan: FRIENDS ARE YOU TIRED OF BEING TURNED DOWN EVERYWHERE ELSE? BAD CREDIT OR NO CREDIT? COME ON DOWN TO TV TEXAN SEXSHOP AND SEE THE DIFFERENCE! I WILL HAVE YOU IN ONE OF THESE FABULOUS VEHICLES ENGAGING IN LAWFUL CONSENSUAL INTERCOURSE WITHIN MINUTES! CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S DEALS!...

to say nothing of those nutty passersby walking into the lobby and asking if your company provides legal prostitution services. Oh well, whaddya gonna do? Send people to jail for it?

Back before the Strip started putting up air-conditioned skyways, one had to share the curb with legal--or at least, unrepressed--prostitution and its advertising and its hawkers. It wasn't considered a draw. Legal sexwork is one of those Good For America, But Not In My Backyard issues.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Minor Jolt

I've been out with the flu; I'll post on things political in a few days.

While flat on my back I reread "Starship Troopers" for maybe the twentieth time. I've recommended it to others who've never read Heinlein and used it as the topic of impromptu essays at various schools over the years. I think I first read it at the age of 12. "Twentieth time" may be an undercount.

Reading it in one sitting this week, I was struck by a flaw in Heinlein's writing, or it seemed a flaw: Rico talks about Man's traits versus those of the etees, but he doesn't know whether they'll prove superior. He doesn't know the ultimate outcome of the war.

At first, I put this down to editorial error by Heinlein, as if he didn't write the ending until the very end, and so left these open-ended questions in the text by mistake.

Then I considered that Heinlein is probably the finest craftsman of science fiction ever, and asked myself how this could be a deliberate authorial decision? Easily--Rico doesn't know the outcome of the war, because Rico doesn't make it.

Reread that last chapter, with the introductory verses on sacrifice. Note how it ends with an interruption. Note that it's followed by a posthumous Medal of Honor citation. There's even some foreshadowing, where Rico maintains much earlier how much morale is helped because "the last thing in a Trooper's ears before the drop, possibly the last thing he ever hears, is the sound of a woman's voice wishing him luck."

I've read the book over twenty years and this never occurred to me. I've become convinced I'm right, because it resolves that annoying "glitch" and it gives the whole discourse a real nobility, the dignity of a last will and testament, instead of another space opera. As I write this I think on most of Heinlein's other works, and how often a major character dies nobly, and I'm sure I'm right. A minor slap in the face by a great author I've misread for years.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jeremiad

  1. The level of US military commitment is reasonable and sustainable over time given our population and economy. Whether the US military gets the appropriate level of funding isn't certain, but it's not because we don't have it.
  2. The level of violence in Iraq has been tolerable and endurable. It has not prevented the development of the Iraqi state. It has not prevented the recovery of the Iraqi economy. There are dozens of examples in Africa of more furious, destructive warfare than Iraq.
  3. "National security"--our ability to ship passengers and goods freely within our borders by air, rail, truck, or boat; our existence in open cities without curfew or checkpoint; depend on Muslim governments hunting down their own people on our behalf. Their commitment to this dangerous and difficult chore hinges on respect for American retaliation if they don't, and respect for American support if they are attacked from within while they do so.
  4. Abandoning Iraq to internal revolt funded by Iran and Al-Qaeda will end twenty years of US presence in Central Asia, as everyone from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia realizes the US government is more likely to blame internal politics for failure, than commit our awesome power on behalf of a beleaguered ally. Out of Iraq means Out of Afghanistan, Out of Pakistan, Out of Kuwait, Out of Qatar, Out of Dhubai, Out of Saudi. Iran and Saudi Arabia will forge a consensus alright--the rise of a nuclear OPEC.

  5. This is the reality and the metaphysical whine that you, or millions, or even most Americans, really don't want to face up these things is not "reality". Calling on Iran and Russia and China and Europe to save us by conferring legitimacy is not reality-- they are adamant that the USA become just another regional power and grant them their own spheres of influence, and ANY request--famine relief to Africa, antiterrorism, disarmament--is going to be filtered by their primary goal of clipping the wings of the American eagle.
  6. So long as Americans insist true wisdom comes from taking whatever comes, our country fall into steeper decline until you are forced, literally compelled for your very lives, to fight for a world that is "safe for democracy".

Monday, April 09, 2007

Well...

What can I afford to do about it?

Not much, at present.

We'll see what I can do over a month. Meanwhile, unless I keep sneaking onto the internet at work, there will be more hiatus.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Life without Home Internet

Lame.

We'll have to see what I can afford to do about it!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Damned If You Do...

"Every time you get more memos, or more communications between the White House
and the Justice Department, you get more facts that don't look good," said Rep.
Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "The White House
either hired a bunch of incompetent U.S. attorneys to start with, or hired a
bunch of competent U.S attorneys that were incompetently fired."

Spare me the blather about the political hacks running this White House. I can see them right here in the House of Representatives.
Emanuel doesn't know whether anybody should have been removed, or not, but he's going to Blame Bush for it.
The President needs to fight this one out if it takes two years. Let the Democrats go into 2008 insisting on the inability of any President to determine the quality of work done by their underlings. Something tells me they don't really have the stomach for it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How Dare She?

How dare Ann Coulter hijack the CPAC conference?

Doesn't she realize the critical role of CPAC in butchering the conservative agenda to fit the mild-liberal anointed by the GOP pollsters? The election is only twenty months away!

ABC News is actually bleeping her comments. I guess the only thing she can do is pull a duck-dive, and enter therapy...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Times They Are A Changin'

It's been a busy few weeks here!

I'm moving. It'll be a cute, cozy little pad out in Highgrove. Once I'm in Highgrove I believe I will start posting under my own name again. When I get around to posting, what with my workweek and the burdens of school.

I am also become an initiate of a BlackBerry. When I cashed in my New Every Two rebate and threw in an extra $200 of my own, I was thinking this thing might eventually be of real use to me down the road as a paralegal. I didn't expect how useful it could be to organize everything in the immediate present! And with the internet added, I can actually use it instead of a wireless card for my PC. That would more than make up the price of the data plan. And I found there's an application on Handango.com that would let me run an Office clone on my BlackBerry. Must...not...splurge...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pull the Other One

American Spectator says fmr. Solicitor General Ted Olson backs Rudy:
The support of Olson should help Giuliani in his quest to win over social conservatives who remain skeptical of his pledge to appoint strict constructionist judges.

"I've known him for 26 years and we've talked about this many times," Olson said. "He feels very strongly that people like Justice Scalia, Chief Justice Roberts, Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas, are the type of people that he would put on the court…I'm quite convinced that this is a genuine viewpoint that he has."

When asked about differences conservatives have with Giuliani on issues such as abortion and gay rights, Olson said: "Rudy's views on many, many issues are going to be very compatible with people in the conservative political community and the political legal community.
Skepticism is putting it mildly. I am openly hostile to the maneuver to undermine the pro-life plank of the platform. It's not as if we haven't walked down this road before. We put up guys like Specter and McCain, and instead of tolerating their dissent from the majority opinion, we were called on to celebrate their outreach.

If Rudy wins, he will work for legal abortion, and we'll be told the lie that everybody understood he was free to follow his conscience. I already hear the mantra that he's too important to this country to be sidetracked over petty concerns (we've got this far without a Giuliani Presidency) or that national security can't be sacrificed for abortion politics (only opposites to pro-choice Republicans) or that abortion is a loser (Bush won 59,000,000 votes two years ago).

I'm well aware too many Republicans like legal abortion, and welcome any opportunity to impose the logic of the "super-duper" precedent on the country. Pretending we're going to lose to Al-Qaeda if we don't cave on abortion is just lame.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Actual Nominations are Just a Formality

Robert Novak this week:
Republicans feel withdrawal of troops must begin in the next six months for their party to have any chance at retaining the presidency in 2008, and a Bush Cabinet member -- not associated with national security -- made that same assessment to me last week.
An unknown person cannot defeat an unknown person two years from now, unless we BUG OUT!!

To make the six figure salary of a national party analyst, do you really have to believe that crap, or could you get by just spewing it?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

False Outrage

Drudgereport.com has this disgusting ESPN story on a man locked up for "consensual" sex with a minor.

Outrage at the sentence? I'm outraged that ESPN considers a law punishing people for having sex with 15-year-olds is "archaic".

I remember when somebody asked Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda about Darryl Strawberry's drug use. And Lasorda said, I feel for him, but he does it to himself. Nobody puts that stuff into him. He does it. He chooses it.

Nobody forced this 17-year-old to go to a Days Inn and do booze and pot. Nobody forced him to invite 17 and 15 year olds over for an orgy. Nobody forced him to abandon the 15 year old butt-naked and make her call for help.

And nobody forced them to videotape it either.

And nobody forced him to turn down a plea deal and go for acquittal in front of a jury.

Genarlow Wilson is paying for that stupidity, and it's up to the people of the state of Georgia to decide how hard he oughta pay.

But I really object to ESPN telling me so what, big deal, some 15-year-olds are "instigator"s, they're sluts, use 'em and lose 'em. We've got no right locking up our football stars for plowing 10-year-olds.

Fooey.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Democrat Response

Didja notice:

The President talked about radical Islam and vowed to stop it. Webb talked about President Bush and vowed to stop him.

Webb completely forgot that in October 2002 Dems DEMANDED a chance to vote for war before the November elections. Will Senator Webb now denounce their "reckless" warmongery?

SENATOR Webb is asserting the power to set the diplomatic and military agenda based on previous PRESIDENTS?

As Capn Ed noted: Senator Webb considers the Korean War to have ended in 1951? (Or does he propose Bush declare an armistice and leave an Army in Iraq for 60 years of sentry duty?)

"Regional diplomacy" can't mean Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey--we're already talking with them about Iraq. So who does that leave...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vulture Politics

"What Congress Can (And Can't) Do on Iraq

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey
Tuesday, January 16, 2007; Page A19

Congressional Democrats (and Republicans) who oppose President Bush's decision to send additional American troops to Iraq may frustrate his plan, but not -- as suggested by Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn -- by imposing 21,500 strings on the 21,500 new troops. Just as there are constraints on the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief, there are limits on Congress's ability to direct presidential action. In particular, Congress cannot use its power of the purse to micromanage the president's execution of his office. Indeed, although the prosecution of the Iraq war looms large in today's political discourse, the consequences of substantive decisions related to the war are dwarfed by the imperatives of protecting the integrity of the core rules governing interactions between the executive and legislative branches, which are rooted in our distinctive constitutional fabric.

This constitutional fabric features two coordinate political branches, with unique responsibilities and independent legitimacies. Thus, even if one assumes that, as critics allege, the November election results were a call for disengaging from Iraq, efforts by some congressional Democrats to chastise the president through a resolution of "no confidence" in his Iraq policy have no place in our constitutional culture. The Framers did not establish a parliamentary system.

This does not mean, of course, that Congress is powerless. It could -- if the leadership mustered veto-proof majorities -- immediately cut off funding for U.S. operations in Iraq. Alternatively, Congress could refuse to pass new appropriations once the current ones expire. The refusal to pay for particular policies -- whether in war or peace -- has been the most important check on executive power in the Anglo-American political tradition, dating to the British Parliament's ancient insistence on the right to seek redress of grievances before voting supplies (i.e., money) to the monarch. Under our constitutional system, however, the power to cut off funding does not imply the authority to effect lesser restrictions, such as establishing benchmarks or other conditions on the president's direction of the war. Congress cannot, in other words, act as the president's puppet master, and so long as currently authorized and appropriated funding lasts, the president can dispatch additional troops to Iraq with or without Congress's blessing.

The precise line between congressional and presidential authority is sometimes unclear, and no court has jurisdiction to rule on the issue. The analysis, however, is straightforward. When the two political branches exercise their respective constitutional powers in a way that brings them into conflict -- a scenario clearly envisioned by the Framers -- the relevant constitutional principle is that neither branch can vitiate the ability of the other to discharge its core constitutional responsibilities. Just as the president cannot raise his own funds (by obtaining loans unauthorized by Congress, for example), the legislature cannot attach conditions to federal spending that would destroy the president's authority to direct the military's tactical and strategic operations. This balance makes perfect sense; if Congress could closely direct how the executive branch spends appropriated funds, it would vitiate the president's core responsibilities as chief executive and commander in chief, transforming him into a cipher. This outcome would fundamentally warp the Framers' entire constitutional fabric.

To maintain the integrity of this original design, the Supreme Court has long ruled, in such cases as United States v. Klein (1872) and United States v. Lovett (1946), that Congress cannot attach unconstitutional conditions to otherwise proper legislation, including spending bills. As explained by Professor Walter Dellinger -- President Bill Clinton's chief constitutional lawyer at the Justice Department -- "[b]road as Congress' spending power undoubtedly is, it is clear that Congress may not deploy it to accomplish unconstitutional ends." This includes restricting the president's authority as commander in chief to direct the movement of U.S. armed forces. In that regard, Dellinger quoted Justice Robert Jackson -- who said while serving as President Franklin Roosevelt's attorney general: "The President's responsibility as Commander-in-Chief embraces the authority to command and direct the armed forces in their immediate movements and operations, designed to protect the security and effectuate the defense of the United States."

Although this system may seem unsatisfactory to those who disagree with President Bush's Iraq policy, it has two great virtues. First, it bolsters the Constitution's fundamental design -- the separation of powers between the coequal branches of government. The Framers vested executive authority in a president for a reason. As Alexander Hamilton explained in the Federalist Papers: "Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks." Second, requiring Congress to exercise its power in dramatic ways ensures political accountability. If Congress believes the war is lost, or not worth winning, it must take responsibility for the consequences of forcing a U.S. withdrawal. Otherwise, it must leave the president to direct the war and to bear responsibility for the decisions he has made and will make.

The writers are Washington lawyers who served in the Justice Department during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush."


Democrats are talking about caps and limits on the number of troops and they won't get it. They can't even get a majority behind a straight non-binding resolution calling for an end to the war, the resolution they're drafting now just talks about how more troops isn't the answer.

What they're after is more about getting the President to choose to use his powers to lose the war.
David Ignatius in the WaPo:
"With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Emanuel plans to use Bush's Iraq speech to pose what amounts to a vote of "no confidence" in Bush's leadership -- framing the new strategy as a congressional motion and voting it up or down. Emanuel is certain that Bush's strategy will be voted down and that a sizable number of Republicans will join the Democrats in rejecting the military escalation. Rather than try to restrict funds for the troops (which he sees as a political blunder that would delight Republicans), Emanuel instead favors a proposal by Rep. John Murtha to set strict standards for readiness -- which would make it hard to finance the troop surge in Iraq without beefing up the military as a whole. The idea is to position the Democrats as friends of the military, even as they denounce Bush's Iraq policy...Don't look to Emanuel's Democrats for solutions on Iraq. It's Bush's war, and as it splinters the structure of GOP power, the Democrats are waiting to pick up the pieces."

Which Limbaugh denounces as "vulture politics".
I think the Democrats have already flubbed this one.Rasmussen shows his numbers are about level since April 2006. The speech of Jan 10 has a slight dip that has come back. The bulk of the opposition to the troop "surge" is basically disbelief that the Iraqis will honor their part of the bargain, which Maliki insists they are doing, saying they've arrested 400 Shiite militia this month and letting Americans arrest Iranians.

Since Bush's speech police recruitment in Anbar province is thousands rather than dozens.

Al-Masri has ordered Al-Qaeda fighters out of Baghdad because US troops proved in Fallujah that they know how to win at house-to-house combat.

The Democrats are counting on things like that not to keep happening, and for violence in Iraq to mount. They are rooting against the United States, and that's becoming more and more apparent.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Boneless Wonders

Bill Kristol is as disgusted as I am with our Congress in action.

Sen. McCain and Sen. McConnell are proving themselves worthy of the respect thrown at too many empty suits with the title "Senator".

Hattip: Powerlineblog.com

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Big Fat Sitting Duck

January 5, 2007 President George W. Bush The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President:

The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.

The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.

Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction. Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war

in Iraqis to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.

Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.

In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abiz aid, our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq:

"I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future."

Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement. In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.

Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close. We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq. We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success. We appreciate you taking these views into consideration. Sincerely, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Speaker Nancy Pelosi


Bare days after taking power, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are calling for America to lose the war.

This Sunday, she was on TV arguing the President must present all future bills to Congress in two nice columns, one for supporting a stalemate, and the other, costs involved in pushing on for victory. Even Sen. Biden balked at that, calling such "micromanage(ment)" "unconstitutional".

In which he is right. Congress cannot pay for a Navy IF it visits Japan and not Australia, or a Marine Corps IF it doesn't go to Iraq. That is no part of the House's decisions, and it is interesting that Pelosi is once again getting ahead of herself.

Sadly, Sen. Biden is probably more aggressively defending this Administration that some Republicans. I find it hard to visit powerlineblog anymore, they are so eager to embrace the Democrat version of a war with one last chance remaining for "victory". No matter what we achieve in Iraq in the next two or three months, the Democrats will demand a pullout. Speaker Pelosi has put herself on record, that the war has already cost too much and offended too many people, and can't go on anymore. France isn't going to like us any better regardless of what happens in Ramadi, and yahoos are going to keep making bombs somewhere in Iraq for some time to come--just as the Symbionese Liberation Army kept on chugging until the bulk of the members got shot down like dogs.

This letter is a huge misstep, and shows Nancy Pelosi is not quite ready for primetime. She will not be able to easily withdraw such an ultimatum, or expect the press to ignore a Speaker the way they could ignore a gaffe by the Minority Leader. It is doubtful she has the whole of the House Democrats behind an immediate reckoning, and as Sen. Biden makes clear, she didn't bother to line up the Senate Democrats behind a precipitate showdown. I expect when the President finally gets through with his little vacation and resumes his duties as a wartime President, that he will shut her down cold. For a time.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Let The Circus Begin

The Donks begin with a President promising potential vetoes, and Cindy Sheehan screaming them off their podium. The Senate meets secretly in a committee of the whole, I assume to figure out how to bloviate more genially.

My eye remains on the prize, denied and delayed by a Republican majority, and almost assuredly not to be had under a Democrat Congress. I can yelp and holler though, and will do so just as loudly as when I made up that "circular firing squad."