Tuesday, June 28, 2005

President's Speech

I only caught parts of the speech, with putting the kids to bed and also watching the NBA draft and baseball, but what I saw left me underwhelmed. (I should state that in general Bush's speeches leave my underwhelmed -- I just don't like the way he speaks or his physical demeanor during his speeches, they both seem very pedestrian to me.)

Unless I missed something major, this really appeared to be more of a effort to fight off sagging poll numbers than an announcement of any concrete plans or new ideas about Iraq. Heavy on noble purpose and support the troops, light on how exactly we can win and get out. My guess is that those on the right will love his speech and the left will hate it. I also would guess that this speech will do little or nothing to move the needle on the polls, except for a possible short term (one week) bounce.

Bottom line: I don't think the public will feel significantly better about what is going on over in Iraq after this speech, and won't feel any better about America's chances to get out of there in the next few years.

[Update - I did, of course, really appreciate his section on WMDs, his apology for misleading the nation and how even though the intelligence was wrong this was still a worthwhile endeavor. What, he didn't say that? Are you sure? Must of been a dream.]

Monday, June 27, 2005

10 Commandments

The High Court has limited their public display in public buildings. 5-4 decision.

[UPDATE - The Court split on the two Commandment cases. Upheld the display at the Texas Statehouse.]

Big Supreme Court Day

Ten Commandment cases, file sharing and a possible retirement, or two.

Here is something to read to set the mood for a possible Rehnquist retirement.

To keep yopurself abreast of the developments (expected at around 10:00 am) visit SCOTUSblog or The Volokh Conspiracy.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Caesar's Wife*

According to the Washington Post, Doc Hastings, the new head of the House Ethic Committee, failed to properly report a trip to Canada that cost over three thousand dollars. Apparently the Congressmans' defense is that "the check is in the mail." (His staff claims that the report was sent, but that it was apparently lost in the mail.)

As I detailed below, the only reason that Doc Hastings was named Chairman is because he was controllable by Tom Delay. But having been appointed, for whatever reason, you would assume that he would want to be above reproach. Even though this is appears to be an oversight, it does help to emphasis the contempt that the Delay House Republicans (which is not all House Republicans, but certainly most of the ones in power) have for the rules.

Delay Republicans live by the motto "I am the federal government." In other words, the rules are for little people.

* Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. - Julius Caesar

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Thank Goodness

From the AP:

The House on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment sponsored by California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag, a measure that for the first time stands a chance of passing the Senate as well.

This is of course, extremely necessary to combat the epidemic of flag burning that this country is in the midst of. You can hardly walk down the street nowadays without some hippie radical burning the flag in their front lawn. Thank goodness Congress has finally acted to combat this scourge.

Of course, now they may want to investigate Duke's $700,000 bribe from a defense contractor. Having solved one burning issue, I am sure that that they will get right on the public corruption issue.

Once Upon a Time . . .

9/11 was supposed to be off limits for political attacks.

I guess Karl Rove decided that three and a half years is enough.

"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."

A Thankless Job

There can be no doubt that being the head of the House Ethics Committee is a thankless job, even in the best of times, which these certainly are not in the US House of Representatives. However, there is a certain irony that the member who was chosen to replace the last chairman is now talking about stepping down, according to this New York Times story.

Doc Hastings replaced Joel Hefley because the GOP leadership was upset that Hefley admonished Tom DeLay on a few occasions, and appeared to actually take his job seriously. Hastings is now complaining about Democratic obstructionism of the committee, yet the only reason that he is the Chairman was so that he could "control" the ways the committee "investigated" certain members.

I have no doubt that the Ethics Committee could be doing its job tomorrow, if it were allowed to do so in a bipartisan and meaningful way. But then Hasting wouldn't be really doing his real job then, would he.

Ralph Reed

McGhee thinks that Reed should drop out of the race for Lt. Gov of Georgia in light of the damning emails about him, Jack Abramoff and using Indian money to fund an anti-gambling campaign. (But really the money he used was non-gambling money from the Indians -- you know from the jewelry they sell on the side of the road.)

Personally, I would prefer that he safe in the race and get trounced. Either way, it is likely that the noxious little weasel will be gone for a while, but certainly not for good.

Friday, June 17, 2005

5,000 hits

I have not posted much in the past few days due to heart surgery in my family that turned out to be slightly more complicated than originally thought, but a small milestone for this modest blog was reached at some point today, the 5,000th hit.

I thought that was worth noting, and thank you for your visits.

Normal ramblings should resume shortly.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Michael Jackson is . . .

Not Guilty on all charges.

It was a weak case and the prosecution was basically depending on the jury convicting him because he is a freak.

Didn't work.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Lack of Scandal Fatigue

The Carpetbagger Report appears to be suffering what can only be called "lack of scandal" fatigue. He has good points however, especially about the government deciding to take less than a dime on the dollar on the tobacco settlement.

One can only imagine what the Congress' reaction would be if the President's name were Clinton.

Some Excellent Advice on Iraq

This letter to the President from Congressman Harold Ford is spot on. I only hope that someone in the White House bothers to read it.

June 3, 2005

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I just returned from a two day trip to Iraq with several colleagues, including U.S. Senator Joe Biden and Vice-Chair of the House Armed Services Committee Curt Weldon. We spent Memorial Day weekend meeting with our troops, military leadership and Iraqi government officials, lending our support for their collective efforts to bring stability and democracy to Iraq. On a patriotic note, it felt good being with the bravest and finest fighting force in the world on Memorial Day.

I was pleased that morale was high among our troops. Every soldier we encountered was proud of the progress being made by the military and the Iraqi people. Moreover, the Iraqi government officials we met were deeply appreciative of our efforts from the Prime Minister to the Speaker of their Parliament to the Chair of the Constitutional Drafting Committee to the new Defense Minister.

However, there were concerns expressed by many. First, it appears, contrary to Secretary Rumsfeld's and your assertions, that the training of the Iraqi military and police forces and the restoration of basic services, including electricity and water, is moving at a slower pace than projected. Second, the pernicious influence of Iran and Syria in encouraging and sponsoring terrorism in Iraq is on the rise. Third, the tension between the Sunnis and Shiites is not lessening, which is detrimental to the efforts to draft an acceptable constitution. And finally, U.S. credibility and stature still lag in the Middle East, despite the noble efforts and sacrifice of our military and the generosity of the American people.

These are not easy times as you know Mr. President. Your steadfastness and tenacity in fighting terrorism should be applauded. But, support for your administration's policies in Iraq is below 45 percent, meaning more Americans disagree with your handling of it. This is combined with a 40 percent approval rating for your handling of the U.S. economy. If I might be so bold, let me make a few suggestions.

First, you and Secretary Rumsfeld should stop overstating our success in Iraq because it overshadows and diminishes actual progress being made in Iraq.

For example, the Pentagon has repeatedly, and now I know erroneously, told Congress and the American people that Iraqi military and security forces are being trained at a rapid rate. The facts are different. Only 3 of the 107 battalions that have to be trained for Iraq to be able and ready to defend itself are up and standing. The misrepresentations by your administration undermine the American people's confidence in our efforts in Iraq, damage support for the war and make it harder for those of us in Congress who support staying and finishing the job in Iraq to maintain our support.

In short, a big part of the answer to this challenge is first to allow the military leadership on the ground in Iraq to offer assessments of our military progress, not civilian suits at the Pentagon. Furthermore, serious thought should be given to sending Iraqi police trainees to training academies in Europe and the U.S. This could slow down even more the process, but I believe it could improve the training and ensure that forces are ready upon completion of the training. And, more assistance is needed for our Army and Marines who are charged with cleaning the streets and sewer systems so that essential services, like water and electricity, can be delivered. In many ways, the delivery of these services is the only tangible measure the Iraqi population has of our success since the capturing of Saddam Hussein. Much work needs to be done on that front.

Second, an honest appraisal of Iran and Syria's influence in Iraq is needed. Every senior Iraqi government official we met assailed Iran's growing involvement in fomenting insurgent activity in Iraq. However, to my surprise, U.S. intelligence and military officials in Iraq flatly rejected the Iraqi government's position on the matter. I trust you know this, but somebody is wrong here. It is not in the interests of U.S. national security for Iraq and the U.S. to be so far apart on this subject. Frankly, I am inclined to believe the Iraqi Defense Minister and Speaker of the Parliament. Something as fundamental as reconciling intelligence and analysis between us and the Iraqis requires immediate attention. Your intervention with your administration is warranted on this point, Mr. President.

Third, the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution must involve Sunnis and Kurds for it to be accepted as the nation's guarantor of freedom and fairness for all, like our own Constitution is. Sending an international team of legal scholars from America and other leading democracies to assist and consult with the drafting committee would help greatly. Our Constitution's endurance is due largely to its unyielding protection of basic freedoms for all, especially the minority in this country. We have to export that concept to Iraq.

And last, U.S. credibility and our moral authority need rebuilding. Mr. President, with all due respect, if you devoted one-third of the time you did trying to convince the country to privatize Social Security to traveling the world to promote this nation's time honored values and urging a re-engagement with the world community, America would win back a great deal of her prestige and moral authority in the eyes of the global community. I recognize and support our nation's responsibility to act when our security interests are threatened even when others won't join us. Yet, there is tremendous value in being engaged with the world.

It makes it easier to win international support for U.S efforts to sell U.S. goods around the globe, fight terrorism, expand political reform in Africa and reduce the spread of HIV and other diseases in corners of the world crying out for help. Moreover, a re-engagement with the world led by you will make foreign travel to the United States more attractive, which would bolster our economy, and simultaneously create safer conditions for international travel by Americans.

Again, thank you for your time and attention Mr. President. You remain in my prayers.


Harold Ford, Jr.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jane Galt Explains . . .

Washington (state) Verdict

Despite having voted about 8 months ago, and having a new Governor for the past 6, the citizens of Washington state can finally know that they will not have another gubenatorial election for another 3 1/2 years. (You can read the story here.)

Judge John Bridges ruled that, despite the fact that the election was not perfect, there was no evidence that the problems material effected the outcome. The ruling makes perfect sense to me, no election is perfect, especially a close one.

You can be sure that the people over at Sound Politics will be outraged, but the ruling will probably come as a relief to the majority of citizens in Washington state who probably will be glad to put this behind them. (Although there will certainly be an appeal to the Washington Supreme Court.)

Friday, June 03, 2005

What is With Kansas?

A Kansas state Senator, Kay O'Connor, has announced that she is running for the Kansas Secretary of State. Why do I care?

Well, because in 2001 she was reported telling people that she wouldn't have voted for the 19th Amendment, and does not support it. (In case you forgot, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.)

Is it safe to assume that she will not be seeking many votes from women? Do you think that revoking women's sufferage will be part of her platform? Would it be before or after her commitment to stop the teaching of evolution in Kansas schools?

Not All GOPers are Demonizing Mark Felt

Robert George gets Ken Duberstein to call "a hero." George also goes after fellow conservatives Noonan, Stein and Buchanan for their perversion of history. (My words, not his.)

I agree with George an awful lot for someone with which I seem to have diametrically opposing political views. You can reading his blog here, he also posts at The Huffington Post.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Watergate, Nixon and Mark Felt

(I have been going back and forth with Mark English over at Political Capital about Mark Felt and Richard Nixon and their respective roles in the President's downfall, as well as the similarity between Linda Trip and Ken Starr, and much of the below comment is the result of this back and forth.)

In the past few days many of the Nixon apologists (Buchanan, Ben Stein, Novak, Peggy Noonan, and I would assume Liddy, as well) have been trying to tar and feather Mark Felt for being Deep Throat. They blame him for Nixon's downfall, and for every other bad thing that happened in this country (or the world) after his resignation.

Felt may not have been a hero (although Linda Tripp has certainly been portrayed that way by the same people who are decrying Mark Felt) but he was certainly not a villain. He had no good options when he came aware of the crimes (yes, crimes) that were being committed by the White House. And importantly, the information that he gave Woodward and Bernstein turned out to be true, he wasn't making things up in a revenge plot.

Noonan goes so far as to blame Felt for the rise of Pol Pot and the deaths of children, blithely ignoring any role that Nixon himself played, or for that matter, those around him that should have stood up and argued against his paranoid delusions played. In her words, Felt may not have known exactly what would become "[b]ut oh the implications".

Isn't that exactly what could be said of people like Ms. Noonan, who facilitated Nixon and his crimes?

Let the Games Begin in Ernest

Southern Appeal reports that Rehnquist will retire in about four weeks.

If you thought that the Nuclear Option fight was fun, just wait for this.

(Of course, Bush could diffuse the entire issue, by nominating a respected, but still conservative jurists. But I'll put dollars to doughnuts that ain't gonna happen.)