May 31, 2006

Sensenbrenner: Congressmen Are Above The Law

More on the search of Rep. William Jefferson's Capitol Hill Office from the Washington Post:


The Justice Department yesterday vigorously defended the recent weekend raid of Rep. William J. Jefferson's Capitol Hill office as part of a bribery investigation, asserting that the Democratic lawmaker attempted to hide documents from FBI agents while they were searching his New Orleans home last August.

The government questioned in a 34-page motion filed in U.S. District Court here whether it could have obtained all the materials it had sought in a subpoena if it had not launched the surprise raid on Jefferson's congressional office May 20. According to the government filing, an FBI agent caught Jefferson slipping documents into a blue bag in the living room of his New Orleans home during a search.

"It is my belief that when Congressman Jefferson placed documents into the blue bag, he was attempting to conceal documents that were relevant to the investigation," FBI agent Stacey E. Kent of New Orleans stated in an affidavit that was part of the government's court submission. The document was filed in response to Jefferson's lawsuit demanding that the government return to him documents seized during the raid on his Capitol Hill office 11 days ago.

Robert P. Trout, Jefferson's attorney, said he would refrain from commenting pending further review of the government's documents. Meanwhile, the recent FBI raid spurred new tensions between Congress and the administration, as a House committee chairman vowed to interrogate top Justice Department officials.

Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said he wants Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to appear "up here to tell us how they reached the conclusion" to conduct the raid, which Sensenbrenner called "profoundly disturbing" on constitutional grounds. The chairman also said that his committee "will be working promptly" to draft legislation that would clearly prohibit wide-ranging searches of lawmakers' offices by federal officials pursuing criminal cases.

Sensenbrenner if a fucking idiot, and quite frankly, I am ashamed to say that he is a member of the Republican Party.

For as much of a pathetic exuse for a political party as the Democrats may be, the Democrats should have no problem in the midterm elections - the Republicans are doing as much as they possibly can to hand over the House and Senate to them.

This asshole goes even farther than Hastert did (at least Hastert tried to rely on an existing constitutional provision to support his ridiculous assertion that Congressional offices are "no-search zones"). Not only does he ludicrously claim that there was a constitutional violation, but instead, he also vows to have his committee draft legislation to officially and explicitly make Congressional offices off limits to law enforcement personnel.

I have an idea. Rather than working on such legislation, why not try to actually work on the nation's business? You know - solving the judiciary problems that your committee should be working on??

Why not just come out and say that Congressmen are above the law? Let's stop tap dancing around the issue. Because, after all, that is what this is about... make no mistake about it.

Too Many White Musicians

Jabari Asim's column in the Washington Post criticizes National Review's list of the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time:

WASHINGTON -- If "American Idol" didn't completely satisfy your appetite for gimmickry, you might consider turning to National Review. A recent issue offers its handy list of the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time.

The list is intended to be provocative because rock is often considered a focal point of progressive sentiments. What I found far more striking, however, was the relative whiteness of the artists. Exactly when did rock 'n' roll, once the province of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, become so white? The only black band listed is Living Colour, whose "Cult of Personality" is less a praise song to conservatism than a blast at egotistical leadership of any political stripe.

The National Review list suggests that blacks have become little more than a footnote to a cultural phenomenon they are largely responsible for creating -- or, more plausibly, that black conservatives rarely express themselves via rock songwriting.

This passage points out the relative hypocrisy in discussions of race. Mr. Asim, who is black, essentially laments that the list contains a disproportionate number of "white" musicians. Can you imagine the uproar if, for instance, Mr. Asim were white and had instead lamented the inclusion of so many "black" musicians?

May 25, 2006

WaPo: Uproar Over FBI's Search of Jefferson's Office Is Overblown

In an editorial today, the Washington Post gets it right:

THE UPROAR over the FBI's search of Rep. William J. Jefferson's congressional office is understandable but overblown. A demand yesterday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that the Justice Department return the papers it seized goes way too far. Constitutional provisions designed to protect lawmakers from fear of political retribution, such as the speech-and-debate clause, counsel restraint and caution in circumstances such as these. They do not transform congressional offices into taxpayer-funded sanctuaries.

No one wants to have FBI agents pawing through lawmakers' files. Prosecutors and agents need to exhaust other avenues of obtaining evidence before doing so. If a search is required, they must take care not to trample on lawmakers' privileged activities

It's not yet possible to make determinations about whether these principles were followed in the apparently unprecedented search of Mr. Jefferson's office. But the material for which agents searched had been under subpoena for eight months; Mr. Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, resisted complying. Under those circumstances, seeking judicial approval for a search warrant is more reasonable. And while the "Saturday night raid," as Mr. Hastert called it, sounds melodramatic, it's less disruptive than having FBI agents in the House during normal business hours.

Mr. Jefferson was, according to the search warrant affidavit, caught with cold, hard cash: Agents videotaped him taking $100,000 in $100 bills from a Northern Virginia investor working undercover and then found $90,000 of it in his freezer. This was no fishing expedition.

Congress is not, nor should it be deemed to be "above the law". Moreover, Congressional offices should not be deemed to be "no search zones". Otherwise, can you imagine the lawlessness and corruption that would ensue?? It would make the Abrahamoff scandal look trivial.
If any one of us had refused to comply with a subpoena, we would be in jail. Yet, Jefferson was allowed to ignore his subpoena for over eight months?? Makes little sense to me.

Come to think of it... can you imagine what Congress would say if someone ignored a Congressional Subpoena?? They would find the person in contempt of Congress and have him put in jail.

These assholes can subpoena any executive branch employee to be present for days of ridiculous hearings on any subject or investigation that the Congressmen may deem appropriate. Of course, given their new found respect for separation of powers, I think that Congress would understand if a President refused to allow his subordinates to appear before Congress for "hearings".

Just a thought.

Madonna: Jesus Wouldn't Mind My Stunt

This is interesting:

Pop superstar Madonna has hit back at criticisms the crucifixion stunt on her Confessions tour is disrespectful to Christians, arguing her motives are honorable.

The singer sparked a religious backlash on the first night of her Confessions tour in Los Angeles when she mounted a 20-foot-high mirrored crucifix and sang "Live to Tell."

But the 47-year-old claims the iconic image was only employed to spur audience members to donate to her AIDS relief charities.

She tells the New York Daily News, "I don't think Jesus would be mad at me and the message I'm trying to send.


"Jesus taught that we should love thy neighbor."

Accompanying the stunt were images of Third World poverty, which were flashed across huge video screens at the venue, and a reminder that 12 million African children are now orphans because AIDS has killed their parents.

Look, I am not a Christian, so I will leave it to others to argue over whether it was offensive or should have been done. However, I really, really am not sure what the connection is between third world AIDS and a millionaire pop singer pretending to crucify herself on a stage... anyone out there help me figure this one out???

Dixie Chicks Blast "The View"

This is funny:


Country trio The Dixie Chicks have infuriated the hosts of TV talk show "The View," after claiming they were "above" appearing on the show.

The band is very selective about which programs they appear on to promote their new album, Taking the Long Way, and say they hope to emulate their musical and political hero Bruce Springsteen.

In an interview with Time magazine, frontwoman Natalie Maines says her new motto is, "What would Bruce Springsteen do?"

Band member Emily Robison adds, "Not that we're of that caliber, but would Bruce Springsteen do 'The View'?"

After reading the article, angry "View" co-host Joy Behar ripped up the offending interview live on air Tuesday, declaring, "They're ... not doing ... 'The View.'

"It's one thing to diss the (George W.) Bush administration, it's treason to diss 'The View.'"

The show's moderator Meredith Vieira fumed, "We are furious. This is obnoxious, obnoxious.

"We started these girls -- back in 1998, they couldn't get arrested. We were one of the first national shows to give them a platform, because they deserve a platform -- they are incredibly talented performers."

Maybe I was wrong about the Dixie Chicks. I wouldn't want to appear on the View either!

Seriously, though...Sorry ladies, but you are not even close to Bruce Springsteen. You are supposedly on a "come back" after having self-destructed your career a few years ago. One would think that you might welcome the exposure that this national T.V. show would offer. Just a thought.

Gregg Easterbrook Takes On "An Inconvenient Truth"

This is interesting:


An Inconvenient Truth comes to the right conclusions about the seriousness of global warming; plus we ought to be grateful these days for anything earnest at the cineplex. But the film flirts with double standards. Laurie David, doyenne of Rodeo Drive environs, is one of the producers. As Eric Alterman noted in the Atlantic, David "reviles owners of SUVs as terrorist enablers, yet gives herself a pass when it comes to chartering one of the most wasteful uses of fossil-based fuels imaginable, a private jet." For David to fly in a private jet from Los Angeles to Washington would burn about as much petroleum as driving a Hummer for a year; if she flew back in the private jet, that's two Hummer-years. Gore's movie takes shots at Republicans and the oil industry, but by the most amazing coincidence says nothing about the poor example set by conspicuous consumers among the Hollywood elite. Broadly, An Inconvenient Truth denounces consumerism, yet asks of its audience no specific sacrifice. "What I look for is signs we are really changing our way of life, and I don't see it," Gore intones with his signature sigh. As he says this, we see him at an airport checking in to board a jet, where he whips out his laptop. If "really changing our way of life" is imperative, what's Gore doing getting on a jetliner? Jets number among the most resource-intensive objects in the world.

This raises the troubling fault of An Inconvenient Truth: its carelessness about moral argument. Gore says accumulation of greenhouse gases "is a moral issue, it is deeply unethical." Wouldn't deprivation also be unethical? Some fossil fuel use is maddening waste; most has raised living standards. The era of fossil energy must now give way to an era of clean energy. But the last century's headlong consumption of oil, coal, and gas has raised living standards throughout the world; driven malnourishment to an all-time low, according to the latest U.N. estimates; doubled global life expectancy; pushed most rates of disease into decline; and made possible Gore's airline seat and MacBook, which he doesn't seem to find unethical. The former vice president clicks up a viewgraph showing the human population has grown more during his lifetime than in all previous history combined. He looks at the viewgraph with aversion, as if embarrassed by humanity's proliferation. Population growth is a fantastic achievement—though one that engenders problems we must fix, including inequality and greenhouse gases. Gore wants to have it that the greener-than-thou crowd is saintly, while the producers of cars, power, food, fiber, roads, and roofs are appalling. That is, he posits a simplified good versus a simplified evil. Just like a movie!

May 24, 2006

Dixie Chicks Want No Part Of Country Music

From CNN.Com:



NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Billboard) -- Disappointing airplay for the first two singles from the new album by the Dixie Chicks exposes a deep -- and seemingly growing -- rift between the trio and the country radio market that helped turn the group into superstars.

"Taking the Long Way," due out May 23, is the band's first album since singer Natalie Maines sparked a major controversy in 2003 by declaring that she was ashamed to hail from the same state as fellow Texan President George W. Bush. Radio boycotts ensued, and many fans abandoned the band.

The first single, "Not Ready to Make Nice," peaked at No. 36 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, beginning its descent after just seven weeks. The second single, "Everybody Knows," is now at No. 50, down two places in its fourth week.
Not Ready to Make Nice" performed only slightly better at adult contemporary radio, peaking at No. 32 on the AC chart and falling off after six weeks.

From the beginning of the album rollout, the Dixie Chicks were eager that their songs be worked to radio formats beyond country. The album was produced by rock veteran Rick Rubin, whose credits include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down and Johnny Cash.

By picking the defiant "Not Ready" as the first single, they've reopened a wound that was particularly deep for country radio fans, and left many country programmers with the burning question: Why on earth would the band choose to do this?

After hearing the album, WKIS Miami program director Bob Barnett says he was "excited about the opportunity to introduce some great Chicks music to the listeners." But the group's decision to come with "Not Ready" as the lead single left him "stunned, especially in light of the fact that, when asked, programmers and consultants that listened to the project were virtually unanimous in saying we should put the politics behind us and concentrate on all this other great music we were hearing."

KUBL/KKAT Salt Lake City PD Ed Hill criticizes the song's "self-indulgent and selfish lyrics."

Barnett played the song for a week, but pulled it after listeners called to say it sounded like the Chicks were "gloating" or "rubbing our noses in it," he reports. "We didn't need to pick at the scab any longer."

He and other country programmers were upset that the group chose to launch its new album with a single that rehashed all the angst of three years ago.

Of course, Natalie Maines has said that this is all according to the Dixie Chicks' plans:

The Dixie Chicks and reps from their label, Columbia Records, declined to participate in this story. But -- at least as far as Maines is concerned -- the drop-off at country radio was part of its plan.

Maines was quoted in late January on EW.com, before the single went to country radio, saying: "For me to be in country music to begin with was not who I was ... I would be cheating myself ... to go back to something that I don't wholeheartedly believe in. So I'm pretty much done. They've shown their true colors. I like lots of country music, but as far as the industry and everything that happened ... I couldn't want to be farther away from that."

Maines also said, "I don't want people to think that me not wanting to be part of country music is any sort of revenge. It is not. It is totally me being who I am, and not wanting to compromise myself and hate my life."

At KNCI Sacramento, California, the Chicks' music weathered the 2003 controversy only to be pulled as a result of Maines' new Entertainment Weekly comments, coupled with poor scores in local music tests.

"When an artist says that they don't want to be a part of that industry, it made our decision a no-brainer," program director Mark Evans says. "There are too many talented new artists dying to have a song played on country radio, so I'd rather give one of them a shot."

Yeah right. On second thought, maybe it is part of their plan and they are really, really stupid.

The Dixie Chicks, who are unquestionably a very talented band, are also unquestionably a country music band. There is no other way to look at it. Sorry, but slide guitar, the fiddle and banjo are not prominently used in any other musical genre. While the Dixie Chicks did enjoy some cross-genre success with their music being played on "pop" radio stations as well as "country" radio stations, anyone that has listened to their music will tell you - they are, at their core, a country music band.
The Dixie Chicks may enjoy some support from non-country music fans that may allow them to sustain themselves, however, will those fans be there for the long haul? Or, will the Dixie Chicks be forced to transform themselves into a band that they are not?
I am used to musicians and actors being liberals and espousing views that are not similar to my own. As such, her comments, while I felt they were in poor taste and classless, did not really bother me too much. However, I can understand how they might have affected others. I can understand the anger.
As a previous fan, I have listened to their new album and it really didn't do too much for me. Maybe it will grow on me, but I am not holding my breath. Their new single, Not Ready To Make Nice, showed a real, immature contempt and anger that did nothing but leave me rolling my eyes.

According to Dixie Chick Martie McGuire, the Dixie Chicks don't need country music fans - they want what they perceive are "cool fans":

"I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," Maguire said. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."

Why insult your fanbase? Many Dixie Chick fans are, at heart, country music fans. Why insult the people in your industry? Because, they are stupid.
The Dixie Chicks may continue to do well on iTunes, but that is not going to sustain them for very long. Radio play was instrumental in bringing them to millions and ensuring their cross-genre success.

No matter how the "left" wants to spin this issue, however, this is not a "free speech" issue. Everyone - even the Dixie Chicks - has every right to speak their mind and to pontificate as to their political views (no matter whether they are right, wrong or ignorant) without fear of governmental interference or punishment. However, what happened to the Dixie Chicks is not governmental interference or punishment - there is no governmental action that is infringing on their ability to speak.

Rather, this is a free market issue. The Dixie Chicks have the right to say they hate President Bush and country music fans - but their is no corresponding right that guarantees that, by doing so, there will be no economic ramifications. The Dixie Chicks must consciously understand that, by espousing their political views, country music fans, who do not share or support their views, may choose not buy their music or attend their concerts and country music stations may exercise their right not to play the Dixie Chicks' music on their radio station.

Congressional Hypocrisy

Democratic Congressman William Jefferson's office on Capitol Hill was searched by the FBI in connection with the bribery case being made against him.

At a very odd time to practice bipartisanship, several Republican Congressman challenge the FBI's ability to search Representative Jefferson's office:

Displaying bipartisanship for one of their own, House Republican leaders are expressing concern that the FBI's search of the Capitol office of Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson crossed the constitutional boundary between the White House and Congress. Tuesday, House Majority Leader John Boehner called the weekend raid "the Justice Department's invasion of the legislative branch" and predicted the issue would "end up across the street at the Supreme Court." Read all about the ramifications of the raid — which one blogger calls "The Shot Heard 'Round The Hill" — from The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Hill.

Bullshit.

The FBI had every right to search his office. I need not get into a real constitutional analysis, because, quite frankly, there really is no serious separation of powers issue.

However, let's look at this from a common sense standpoint. What these assholes are alleging is that no executive branch agency (i.e., no FBI, no SEC, no ATF, no DEA, etc.) officers may search a Congressional office. Congress is corrupt now. Can you imagine what it would be like if law enforcement agencies could not enforce our laws there? Bribery over the table. Congressional brothel? Drug dealing on the floor? Sky's the limit!

Yet, these assholes can subpoena any executive branch employee to be present for days of ridiculous hearings on any subject or investigation that the Congressmen may deem appropriate. So, its o.k. for Congress to investigate the Executive Branch, but the Executive Branch cannot investigate Congress? Yeah, that makes sense.

The Real Lies

Read all of this column by Pat Wehner at OpinionJournal.com, which completely debunks several of the Democrats' big lies.

With respect to the Democratic "lie" that Bush lied to get us into the Iraq War:

The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war. "There is no question [the Bush administration] misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq," according to Ted Kennedy. Jimmy Carter charged that on Iraq, "President Bush has not been honest with the American people." And Al Gore has said that an "abuse of the truth" characterized the administration's "march to war." These charges are themselves misleading, which explains why no independent body has found them credible. Most of the world was operating from essentially the same set of assumptions regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities. Important assumptions turned out wrong; but mistakenly relying on faulty intelligence is a world apart from lying about it.

Let's review what we know. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the intelligence community's authoritative written judgment on specific national-security issues. The 2002 NIE provided a key judgment: "Iraq has continued its [WMD] programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

Thanks to the bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission, which investigated the causes of intelligence failures in the run-up to the war, we now know that the President's Daily Brief (PDB) and the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief "were, if anything, more alarmist and less nuanced than the NIE" (my emphasis). We also know that the intelligence in the PDB was not "markedly different" from that given to Congress. This helps explains why John Kerry, in voting to give the president the authority to use force, said, "I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." It's why Sen. Kennedy said, "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." And it's why Hillary Clinton said in 2002, "In the four years since the inspectors, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program."

Beyond that, intelligence agencies from around the globe believed Saddam had WMD. Even foreign governments that opposed his removal from power believed Iraq had WMD: Just a few weeks before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wolfgang Ischinger, German ambassador to the U.S., said, "I think all of our governments believe that Iraq has produced weapons of mass destruction and that we have to assume that they continue to have weapons of mass destruction."

In addition, no serious person would justify a war based on information he knows to be false and which would be shown to be false within months after the war concluded. It is not as if the WMD stockpile question was one that wasn't going to be answered for a century to come.

Or, how about the Democrats' lie that the Bush administration pressured the CIA and other intelligence agencies to find that Iraq was a threat:

The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments. Earlier this year, Mr. Gore charged that "CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House . . . found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases." Sen. Kennedy charged that the administration "put pressure on intelligence officers to produce the desired intelligence and analysis." This myth is shattered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's bipartisan Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Among the findings: "The committee did not find any evidence that intelligence analysts changed their judgments as a result of political pressure, altered or produced intelligence products to conform with administration policy, or that anyone even attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to do so." Silberman-Robb concluded the same, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. . . . Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments." What the report did find is that intelligence assessments on Iraq were "riddled with errors"; "most of the fundamental errors were made and communicated to policy makers well before the now-infamous NIE of October 2002, and were not corrected in the months between the NIE and the start of the war."

The mainstream media, which is essentially a lap dog for the Democratic Party, has chosen to not challenge the Democrats when they make such outrageous attempts to revise history. They should be ashamed. Serious journalists, my ass...
As for the Democrats, it shows that they are more serious about playing politics than either defending our country or, what the hell, being honest.
Read it all.

May 22, 2006

Democratic "Culture of Corruption"? - Part V

This is interesting:

A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer.
At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company's deal for work in Africa.

As Jefferson and the informant passed notes about what percentage the lawmaker's family might receive, the congressman "began laughing and said, 'All these damn notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking, as if the FBI is watching,'" according to the affidavit. ...

As for the $100,000, the government says Jefferson got the money in a leather briefcase last July 30 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington. The plan was for the lawmaker to use the cash to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian official — the name is blacked out in the court document — to ensure the success of a business deal in that country, the affidavit said.

All but $10,000 was recovered on Aug. 3 when the FBI searched Jefferson's home in Washington. The money was stuffed in his freezer, wrapped in $10,000 packs and concealed in food containers and aluminum foil...

Two of Jefferson's associates have pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges in federal court in Alexandria. One, businessman Vernon Jackson of Louisville, Ky., admitted paying more than $400,000 in bribes to the lawmaker in exchange for his help securing business deals for Jackson's telecommunications company in Nigeria and other African countries.

The new details about the case emerged after federal agents searched Jefferson's congressional office on Capitol Hill Saturday night and Sunday. The nearly 100-page affidavit for a search warrant, made public Sunday with large portions blacked out, spells out much of the evidence so far.

The document includes excerpts of conversations between Jefferson and an unidentified business executive from northern Virginia. She agreed to wear a wire after she approached the FBI with complaints that Jefferson and an associate had ripped her off in a business deal.

Jefferson's lawyer, Robert Trout, contended that the prosecutors' disclosure was "part of a public relations agenda and an attempt to embarrass Congressman Jefferson. The affidavit itself is just one side of the story which has not been tested in court," Trout said in a statement.

The affidavit says Jefferson is caught on videotape at the Ritz-Carlton as he takes a reddish-brown briefcase from the trunk of the informant's car, slips it into a cloth bag, puts the bag into his 1990 Lincoln Town Car and drives away.

The $100 bills in the suitcase had the same serial numbers as those found in Jefferson's freezer...

But, according to the Democrats, it is only Republicans that are corrupt....I am soooooo confused.

May 18, 2006

Neil Young's Sales Not Doing Well

Neil Young's anti-Bush album is not doing too well in stores:


Funk-rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers topped the U.S. charts for the first time in its 22-year history on Wednesday, while Neil Young's tirade against President Bush failed to do much for his sales.

The veteran Canadian rocker's "Living With War" opened at No. 15 with sales of 60,000 units in the week ended May 14, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. His last album, "Prairie Wind," started at No. 11 last September with 72,000 copies sold its first week.

John Murtha Slanders U.S. Troops

From Expose the Left:


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let me ask you Mr. Murtha to give us some details about that. Draw us a picture of what happened at Haditha.

REP. JOHN “JACK” MURTHA: Well, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. One Marine was killed and the Marines just said we’re going to take care – we don’t know who the enemy is, the pressure was too much on them, so they went into houses and they actually killed civilians. And, and –

MATTHEWS:—was this My Lai? Was this a case of – when you say cold blood Congressman, a lot of people think you’re basically saying you got some civilians sitting in a room around a field and they’re executed.

MURTA: That’s exactly it.

This is fairly irresponsible. The investigation into this particular incident is still on going.

It is one thing to disagree with the war, or seek our withdrawal. But, to allege that our soldiers are no better than crazed killers is beyond the pale. If the investigation proves that a soldier acted in such a manner, then fine... condemn him. But, can't he just wait for the facts??? I would expect this sort of behavior out of the kids at DailyKos or Democratic Underground, but not a U.S. Congressman.

And the Democrats wonder why the military vote for Republicans....

May 17, 2006

Jodie Foster Piles On

Jodie Foster, who was invited to give a commencement speach, took the opportunity to speak her mind about the Bush Administration:
The U.S. "squandered" the goodwill and sympathy other nations offered after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Foster said. She also criticized officials for the "disastrous and shameful" handling of Hurricane Katrina.
Yawn.

A Look At The Liberal Movement

An interesting post from the Environmental Republican:


Hitchens is rightfully appalled that the left he was once a central figure of has disintegrated to an anti-American/anti-democracy group that will cozy up to the most ruthless of dictators and become said dictators apologists. You can rattle them off, Chavez, Castro, Milosevic, Hussein and Hezbollah. They are all supported by todays sorry excuse for an ideology that was once intelligent and thoughtful but is now reactionary and debased....While I don't profess to being a liberal--far from it actually--the right side of the blogosphere is closer to the liberal movement of the middle part of the last century than todays "progressive movement" is. While we are pointing out daily the abuses wrought on the people of Darfur, China, Iran and in the past Rwanda, "progressives" are writing made-up stories about Karl Rove indictments and praising Hezbollah as Noam Chomsky did last week.

If Bill Clinton had freed 50-million people from barbarous oppression as Bush did, we would've given him the praise he deserved (instead he bombed the Iraqi nation for the duration of the impeachment trial and stopped the day the trial did). These people were subject to rape, stoning of homosexuals and imprisonment for uttering a bad word about their "leaders" even in the privacy of their homes. Sadly, todays left can't bring themselves to applaud the freedom they now have. Instead they point out the lack of electricity or count the American military dead with glee. (Update: a great example of how these people think can be found here via this site who, again, linked with glee.)

How did the true liberal movement digress to the grotesque state they now have become?

There is no argument that would suffice in protecting wanton criminals who rule through brutality and fear.

The neo-liberals in this country--out of shame most likely--defend the tyrannical dictators by comparing them to Bush and in some circumstances saying that Bush is worse. Who could be so intellectually dishonest as to even conceive of that analogy?

Great post, but even better point - what happened to the Democrats?
The Democratic Party that I knew (and was previously a member of) was the party of human rights. It was the Democrats who were most vocal about torture and death dealt by cruel dictators in far away places. It was the Democrats who were most passionate about providing assistance to our fellow human beings. It was the Democrats who passed the Iraqi Liberation Act (thereby making regime change in Iraq an official U.S. governmental policy). The Democratic Party that I knew was not the party of isolationists that they would seem to be today.

May 13, 2006

College Professor Quits Over Condi Rice

Steve Almond has quit his job as an adjunct professor English at Boston College for a fairly bizarre reason. Evidently, Condi Rice is giving the commencement address:

He chose to quit by "open letter" in the Boston Globe:

An open letter to William P. Leahy, SJ, president of Boston College.
DEAR Father Leahy,

I am writing to resign my post as an adjunct professor of English at Boston College.

I am doing so -- after five years at BC, and with tremendous regret -- as a direct result of your decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the commencement speaker at this year's graduation.

Many members of the faculty and student body already have voiced their objection to the invitation, arguing that Rice's actions as secretary of state are inconsistent with the broader humanistic values of the university and the Catholic and Jesuit traditions from which those values derive.

But I am not writing this letter simply because of an objection to the war against Iraq. My concern is more fundamental. Simply put, Rice is a liar...

...I cannot, in good conscience, exhort my students to pursue truth and knowledge, then collect a paycheck from an institution that displays such flagrant disregard for both.

I would like to apologize to my students and prospective students. I would also urge them to investigate the words and actions of Rice, and to exercise their own First Amendment rights at her speech.

My first reaction? This guy must be independently wealthy. Who else would quit a job over such little provocation.
Why not have her speak? This woman, whether or not you agree with her political views, is incredibly intelligent and has accomplished much in a very short time. I personally find her fascinating.
My favorite part? His exortation to his students to "exercise their own First Amendment rights at [Condi Rice's] speech". In other words, the students should shout her down and be disrespectful while she speaks. What about Condi Rice's right to freedom of speech? What about those who would like to hear her speak? What ever happened to college being a "marketplace of ideas"?
What is he teaching his former students? He is teaching them to not respect the viewpoints of others. He is teaching them that the only views that matter are those that you agree with. College sure has changed.
One of the most often touted rationales for college's use of affirmative action is "diversity" of viewpoints and experiences. Yet, it appears that if you are a Republican, you deserve not to be heard...
You know, it wasn't too long ago that the idea of an African-American Secretary of State was unthinkable. It wasn't too long ago that the idea of an African-American commencement speaker was unimaginable. We, as a country, should be proud that our society has become more integrated and racism - while it still exists - has diminished greatly.
The funny thing is that, if Condi Rice was a Democrat and some idiot professor decided to quit because she was going to give an address at Boston College, the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Cynthia McKinney and others with so much invested in race-baiting would have tripped over eachother to be the first to proclaim that this professor was nothing more than a racist. I doubt we will hear a word from them.

Patrick Kennedy DUI Cover-Up? Another Interesting Update

This is getting even more interesting....:

Capitol police in Washington, D.C., investigating U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s early-morning car wreck have been told by witnesses that the Rhode Island congressman was at a Capitol Hill bar before the crash, the Herald has learned.

A source close to the probe said witnesses have told detectives that Kennedy was at the Hawk & Dove before he slammed his Ford Mustang into a security barrier near the U.S. Capitol. The source added that cops are continuing to seek evidence to confirm that Kennedy was at the watering hole.

The Herald reported last week that a Hawk & Dove hostess said the 38-year-old pol is a frequent customer and was drinking in the bar before the May 4 crash. Kennedy has denied he was drinking, blaming the accident on a cocktail of prescription painkillers and sleeping pills. He has since checked into a Minnesota rehab.

A Kennedy spokeswoman declined comment. A Capitol police spokeswoman also refused comment, citing the ongoing probe.

The crash sparked a furor within the Capitol Police Department after angry patrol officers said higher-ranking cops blocked them from giving Kennedy a sobriety test. Police union head Lou Cannon said two watch commanders on duty the night of the crash have been transferred.

A police report on the 2:45 a.m. crash cited alcohol as a factor, describing Kennedy as slurring his speech, being “unsure” on his feet and having red and watery eyes.

Kennedy told cops he was on his way to a House vote, even though Congress had adjourned three hours earlier.

The source said detectives are still trying to track down a woman who Kennedy claims he was with before the crash.

Anyone that actually believes he was "sleep-driving" should have their heads examined. Either they are incredibly naive, a Democrat trying to "spin control" or actively in the Kennedy payroll. There is no doubt in my mind that he was driving under the influence and, upon being stopped by police, was the beneficiary of a police cover-up.

On a side note, it is disconcerting that the police have been unable to track down the woman. Chappaquidick Part II?

May 11, 2006

Howard Dean: Anti-Gay Marriage?

This is too funny:
Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean has contradicted his party's platform and infuriated gay rights advocates by saying the party's platform states "marriage is between a man and a woman."

Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network, erroneously stated that the party's 2004 platform says 'marriage is between a man and a woman.' Christian conservative Pat Robertson is host of the program.

"The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says marriage is between a man and a woman," Dean said May 10 during a "700 Club" program hosted by conservative Christian leader Pat Robertson on his Christian Broadcasting Network.

Democrats Clash On Spending Strategy

More trouble in paradise:


Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and the leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have clashed angrily in recent days in a dispute about how the party should spend its money in advance of this fall's midterm elections.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is leading the party's effort to regain majority status in the House, stormed out of Dean's office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session.
The blowup highlights a long-standing tension that has pitted Democratic congressional leaders, who are focused on their best opportunities for electoral gains this fall, against Dean and many state party chairmen, who believe that the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up -- even in states that have traditionally been Republican strongholds.

Emanuel's fury, Democratic officials said, was over his concern that Dean's DNC is spending its money too freely and too early in the election cycle -- a "burn rate" that some strategists fear will leave the party unable to help candidates compete on equal terms with Republicans this fall.

Emanuel declined to talk about his meeting with Dean but was blunt about his concern that the DNC is not managing its resources wisely.

"This is a historic opportunity, and we can't squander it," Emanuel said.

Although Dean has proved to be a more impressive fundraiser than some skeptical Democrats once thought -- the DNC has taken in $74 million since the start of this election cycle in 2005 -- he has also been a prolific spender. Disclosure forms for the first quarter of this year showed the party with about $10 million in cash on hand. The Republican National Committee, by contrast, has raised just under $142 million this cycle and has about $43 million on hand.

Anyone that has read this website knows my thoughts on Howard Dean - they never should have made them the leader of the DNC. This is yet another clear example of his incompetence. The Democrats got what they deserve.

Good News From Iraq

This is interesting:

In one document as released by the U.S., an unidentified al-Qaeda member writes that the influence and power of Iraq's Shiite majority cannot be taken lightly, especially in Baghdad, "particularly when the power of the ministries of Interior and Defense is given to them, compared to the power of the mujahedeen" in the city.

The document says that the Baghdad cells are capable of only "hit and run" operations, leading the public to conclude that "the Shiites are stronger in Baghdad and nearer to controlling it, while the mujahedeen . . . are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the Shiite government." . . .

The strategy document complains that "the strength of the brothers in Baghdad" is based mostly on car bombs and "groups of assassins lacking any organized military capabilities."

The writer complains that the Americans and the Iraqi government forces "were able to absorb our painful blows," raise new recruits and "take control of Baghdad as well as other areas, one after the other."

"This is why every year is worse than the previous year, as far as the mujahedeen's control and influence over Baghdad," the document said.

I doubt that this will be in the New York Times.

May 10, 2006

Liberals Attack Richard Cohen

Last week, Richard Cohen wrote about how he though (and I agreed) that Stephen Colbert's jokes about President Bush at the White House Correspondent's Dinner were not funny and somewhat rude.

Well, the left did not take kindly to it. Evidently, Mr. Cohen experienced what he termed to be a "digital lynch mob":

Within a day, I got more than 2,000 e-mails. A day later, I got 1,000 more. By the fourth day, the number had reached 3,499 -- a figure that does not include the usual offers of nubile Russian women or loot from African dictators. The Colbert messages began with Patrick Manley ("You wouldn't know funny if it slapped you in the face") and ended with Ron ("Colbert ROCKS, you MURDER") who was so proud of his thought that he copied countless others. Ron, you're a genius....
Usually, the subject line said it all. Some were friendly and agreed that Colbert had not been funny. Most, though, were in what we shall call disagreement. Fine. I said the man wasn't funny and not funny has a bullying quality to it; others (including some of my friends) said he was funny. But because I held such a view, my attentive critics were convinced I had a political agenda. I was -- as was most of the press, I found out -- George W. Bush's lap dog. If this is the case, Bush had better check his lap.

It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me. If I did not like Colbert, I must like Bush. If I write for The Post, I must be a mainstream media warmonger. If I was over a certain age -- which I am -- I am simply out of it, wherever "it" may be. All in all, I was -- I am, and I guess I remain -- the worthy object of ignorant, false and downright idiotic vituperation.

What to make of all this? First, it's not about Colbert. His show has an audience of about 1 million -- not exactly "American Idol" numbers. Second, it marks the end of a silly pretense about interactive media: We give you our e-mail addresses and then, in theory, we have this nice chat. Forget about it. Not only is e-mail too often a kind of epistolary spitball, but there's no way I can even read the 3,506 e-mails now backed up in my queue -- seven more since I started writing this column.

But the message in this case truly is the medium. The e-mails pulse in my queue, emanating raw hatred. This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That's when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations. I can appreciate some of it. Institution after institution failed America -- the presidency, Congress and the press. They all endorsed a war to rid Iraq of what it did not have. Now, though, that gullibility is being matched by war critics who are so hyped on their own sanctimony that they will obliterate distinctions, punishing their friends for apostasy and, by so doing, aiding their enemies. If that's going to be the case, then Iraq is a war its critics will lose twice -- once because they couldn't stop it and once more at the polls.

I am no Cohen fan, but he makes some good points.
I certainly do not have even .00005% of the circulation that Richard Cohen does, but when I wrote that I agreed with his column, I, of course, experienced similar "wrath" of angry Democrats through comments on this blog as well as through e-mail in my hotmail account.

For what its worth, I like Stephen Colbert - especially his Daily Show work. I just think that this particular performance fell flat. Rather than acknowledge that different people may have differing opinions, I was told that I "have no sense of humor". As proof, one particular reader told me to conduct a "Google" search to find out that the consensus was 50-1 that he was funny. Real genius.

Look, many of the people who believe that Colbert's routine was funny, are those with a visceral dislike for President Bush. People are entitled to their opinion as to President Bush, but I wonder - was some of the instant support for Colbert merely support for another anti-Bush person? Maybe so.

What Cohen, a liberal columnist, is now "experiencing" is what I have been writing about for over a year - the nastiness of political discourse in this country and the radicalization of the American left.

When I first started this blog, my intent was to start a discussion as to what I saw as a disappointing trend in the Democratic party. A party of ideas, which I had belonged to for the entirety of my "political life", had become devoid of substance and had to devolved into the anti-Bush party. Rather than pushing legitimate progressive ideas, their platform was defined as the opposite of whatever Bush was doing.

So, the "discussion" has yet to occur. Another reason for my last "sabbatical" from blogging.

May 08, 2006

Democrats: We Will Launch Investigations, But We Are Not Out To Impeach Bush

This is very reassuring (sarcasm intended):


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats will launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration if they take control of Congress in November but are not out to impeach President George W. Bush, a top Democrat said on Sunday.

House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would hold hearings on the use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war and investigate the high price of energy and prescription drugs if they win the extra 15 seats they need for a House majority in the mid-term elections.

But Pelosi denied Republican claims that her party would move quickly to impeach Bush.

"I said we'd be having hearings on the war, we'd have hearings. But I don't see us going to a place of impeachment," Pelosi said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. "Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It is about checks and balances."

Rather than having hearings on the Iraq War or President Bush, wouldn't Congress' time be better utilized by holding hearings on new legislation to make America better?

Why the obsession with pre-war intelligence? The answer is twofold. First, The Democrats want to bring down President Bush, who they largely view as a greater enemy than Osama Bin Laden. Moreover, they continue to re-fight this issue because the Democrats want to re-write history. The Democrats, who largely supported military intervention in Iraq in 2003, want Americans to now believe that the Democrats were duped into supporting military intervention.

See, this is why the Democrats have not controlled Congress for many years. The Democrats continue to be fixated upon bringing down George Bush as opposed to implementing a new legislative agenda.
Regardless, maybe the Republicans should listen to this as a "wake-up" call. Do you really want to spend the next 2 years fighting Congressional inquiries that amount to little more than attempts to create scandals? No matter how much of a disappointment the Bush administration has been (whether it be disagreements with their handling of immigration, judical appointments, the prosecution of the war, etc.), Republicans need to focus on maintaining their Congressional majority.
Update: Nancy Pelosi will not rule out impeachment:

Democratic leaders, increasingly confident they will seize control of the House in November, are laying plans for a legislative blitz during their first week in power that would raise the minimum wage, roll back parts of the Republican prescription drug law, implement homeland security measures and reinstate lapsed budget deficit controls.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in an interview last week that a Democratic House would launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration, beginning with the White House's first-term energy task force and probably including the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Pelosi denied Republican allegations that a Democratic House would move quickly to impeach President Bush. But, she said of the planned investigations, "You never know where it leads to."

A Muslim Sorority

From the Washington Post:


Greek letters gleamed from a satin banner hanging at the front of the room, sequins flashed on little purses, and one woman holding a gold brochure blushed crimson, trying to explain why she liked the idea of this new group. Another widened dark eyes lined with kohl, watching everyone closely.

Tasmim Anwar smiled and said, with a little gush, "I am such a sorority type of girl."

And -- long before the first Gamma Gamma Chi rush in Maryland was over -- a student had politely interrupted to ask if they could break for maghrib , a sunset prayer. The women, draped in dark scarves, knelt to praise Allah in a hallway at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Greek life. These women came curious about a new kind of sorority, one that could change stereotypes of Muslim women, one based on Islamic beliefs: no drinking, no socializing with men...

So they came to this new kind of rush, some covered head to toe in dark abayas , some with scarves pinned carefully around their heads and strappy four-inch heels, some with hair loose and jeans tight. Like so many Americans, most of these women don't fit into any easy cultural niche; they've been blending and balancing all their lives.

And some wondered aloud whether this most American of college traditions might be too tricky to pull off.

"I'm curious to see how that will be, that balance," Anwar said.

Like most Greek organizations, Gamma Gamma Chi wouldn't turn people away just because they're different -- it would be open to non-Muslims as well -- and it would have social events for women.

But no drinking, clubbing or hooking up.


Not sure how this will work. There are no Muslim fraternities and they are not allowed to socialize with men, so no exchanges would be possible. They do not drink, so no parties. Sounds like a real good time....er, not. But, to each its own.

May 05, 2006

Iran - A "Crucial Test" For the United Nations

Newsday's editorial today opines that Iran will be a "crucial test" for the United Nations:


In addition to the obvious need to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, the diplomatic effort now going on at the United Nations will be an important, even crucial, test for that body itself. If the Security Council cannot enforce its own findings, its value will be severely diminished.

The coordinated push by the United States and the European Union for a Security Council resolution to punish Iran with international trade sanctions faces stiff opposition by two veto-bearing council members: Russia and China. The draft resolution, generated by Britain and France with strong U.S. backing, began to circulate earlier this week. This level of U.S.-European cooperation hasn't been seen since the end of the Cold War.

But unless, by whatever diplomatic pressure Washington and the EU can summon up, Moscow and Beijing are persuaded to go along with the resolution or at least abstain from voting against it, Iran will be free to do as it pleases. If that happens, the UN will have been proved impotent to act collectively in its primary function, maintaining the world's security. In that there would be echoes of the failed League of Nations.

The U.N. already took this particular test on several occasions, and each time it has failed miserably. Need some examples? How about the 14 U.N. resolutions on Iraq WMD's, which were ignored and never enforced by the U.N.? How about Darfur? That matter has been hopelessly deadlocked in the Security Council. How about Bosnia? The U.N. wouldn't do anything, so NATO was forced to act. I could go on and on...., but I am sure that you get the point. The composition of the Security Council has ensured that the U.N. has only intervened in two conflicts since its inception.

At most, the only action that the U.N. will ever take are the imposition of economic sanctions...which, of course are rarely effective. Not to mention that the corruption within the U.N. virtually guarantees that they will be circumvented(See the Oil for Food Scandal).

The U.N. is the League of Nations.

Another Take on the Moussaoui Verdict

An interesting column from Daniel Henninger at Opinionjournal.com:

Defenders of Moussaoui's life sentence say he will "rot in prison." Perhaps in a better world Zacarias Moussaoui would share a cell with Hannibal Lecter. But if our moral betters aren't going to let Saddam's torturers rot in Abu Ghraib, if they aren't going to let the CIA's most important al Qaeda captives rot in "secret" foreign prisons, they certainly aren't going to let Moussaoui rot in Florence, Colo. He will be treated more than well.

Not to mention the Moussaoui trial itself. We arrive at the end of these interminable trial circuses of procedural delay and then claim "the system works" and "justice" has been done. No, it has done damage to the normal idea of justice. He saw the game early on and made a mockery of it. Moussaoui achieved a two-year delay in his trial by demanding to interview al Qaeda detainees. But our moral betters insist that the whole lot of Guantanamo detainees be given access to this same system of justice. They would diminish and crush it.

The odds were strong, as Moussaoui's lawyers knew and the government's should have known, that 9 of 12 jurors would vote that Moussaoui's childhood was "dysfunctional" and "mitigating." This is the therapeutic vocabulary that the West has developed to explain anything in the years from the postwar period to, say, September 11.

For quite awhile after September 11, we were a people united in the war on terror. By now we have let the adrenal pleasures of political fighting over the presidency dissipate the difficult emotions of staying united against a real enemy. The war in Iraq has contributed, but you can't lay it all off on Iraq. The ambiguity of the Moussaoui jury is a portent. See "United 93." It is very difficult. It should be.

Good point.

Charles Krauthammer: The Holocaust Part II

Charles Krauthammer has an important column in today's Washington Post:

For 2,000 years, Jews found protection in dispersion -- protection not for individual communities, which were routinely persecuted and massacred, but protection for the Jewish people as a whole. Decimated here, they could survive there. They could be persecuted in Spain and find refuge in Constantinople. They could be massacred in the Rhineland during the Crusades or in the Ukraine during the Khmelnytsky Insurrection of 1648-49 and yet survive in the rest of Europe.

Hitler put an end to that illusion. He demonstrated that modern anti-Semitism married to modern technology -- railroads, disciplined bureaucracies, gas chambers that kill with industrial efficiency -- could take a scattered people and "concentrate" them for annihilation.

The establishment of Israel was a Jewish declaration to a world that had allowed the Holocaust to happen -- after Hitler had made his intentions perfectly clear -- that the Jews would henceforth resort to self-protection and self-reliance. And so they have, building a Jewish army, the first in 2,000 years, that prevailed in three great wars of survival (1948-49, 1967 and 1973).

But in a cruel historical irony, doing so required concentration -- putting all the eggs back in one basket, a tiny territory hard by the Mediterranean, eight miles wide at its waist. A tempting target for those who would finish Hitler's work.

His successors now reside in Tehran. The world has paid ample attention to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel must be destroyed. Less attention has been paid to Iranian leaders' pronouncements on exactly how Israel would be "eliminated by one storm," as Ahmadinejad has promised.

Read it all.

Patrick Kennedy Cover-Up - Update

From the Washington Post:


"Following the last series of votes on Wednesday evening, I returned to my home on Capitol Hill and took the prescribed amount" of the two medications, the 38-year-old congressman said.

"Sometime around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote," the statement continued. "Apparently, I was disoriented from the medication. . . . At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol."

Kennedy, a six-term congressman, said that Capitol Police officers told him to park his Ford Mustang and drove him home. "At no time did I ask for any special consideration," the statement said. "I simply complied with what the officers asked me to do

Medication? Really?! That's a good one. Even if this were true, which I am highly skeptical of, he had no business driving after taking Ambien - it's a sleeping pill!!! He still made the decision to drive a motor vehicle after taking drugs that diminished his ability and capacity to do so... Moreover, I believe that you can still be guilty of DUI in most jurisdictions if you are under the influence of a drug as opposed to alcohol. Anyone know what the law is in D.C.?

Looks like I am not the only one expressing skepticism:

Lou Cannon, president of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1, expressed skepticism.

"The timeliness of the statement says everything," he said. "It took up to 10 o'clock," or 19 hours after the 2:50 a.m. incident, to offer the expanded explanation.

Good point.

Patrick Kennedy DUI Cover-Up?

Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy may have had some help covering up what should have been a DUI:


Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashed his car near the Capitol early Thursday, and a police official said he appeared intoxicated. Kennedy said he had had no alcohol before the accident.

Kennedy, D-R.I., addressed the issue after a spate of news reports.

"I was involved in a traffic accident last night at First and C Street SE near the U.S. Capitol," Kennedy said in a written statement released by his office. "I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident. I will fully cooperate with the Capitol Police in whatever investigation they choose to undertake."

Kennedy appeared to be intoxicated when he crashed his car into a barrier on Capitol Hill early Thursday morning, said Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Cannon, who was not there, said the officers involved in the accident were instructed by an official "above the rank of patrolman" to take Kennedy home.

No sobriety tests were conducted at the scene
....

A letter written by a Capitol Police officer to Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin said Kennedy appeared to be staggering when he left the vehicle after the crash about 3 a.m. The letter was first reported by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Kennedy said he was late for a vote, officer Greg Baird said in the letter to McGaffin. Baird is acting chairman of the Capitol Hill chapter of the FOP police union. The last vote of the night had occurred almost six hours earlier.

Kennedy, the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and his staff declined to discuss any further details of the accident. The congressman took part in House votes Thursday.

Capitol Police did not immediately return phone calls for comment. They issued a one-line statement saying they were investigating a traffic violation that occurred early in the morning at that location.

Baird wrote McGaffin that two sergeants who responded to the accident conferred with the watch commander and were ordered to leave the scene.

He said that after the officers left, Capitol Police officials gave Kennedy a ride home.

Kennedy spent time at a drug rehabilitation clinic before he went to Providence College. He has been open about mental health issues, including being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

So, the guy was staggering, appeared drunk and was lying about a non-existent House vote, but the police didn't perform field sobriety tests or arrest him on suspicion of driving under the influence?? I guess there are advantages to being a Kennedy...
There should be a full investigation into this matter.

May 04, 2006

Howard Dean Fires Gay Outreach Advisor

Howard Dean has fired his party's gay outreach advisor:

Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean on May 2 fired the party's gay outreach advisor Donald Hitchcock less than a week after Hitchcock's domestic partner, Paul Yandura, a longtime party activist, accused Dean of failing to take stronger action to defend gays.

Dean immediately hired gay former Democratic Party operative Brian Bond to replace Hitchcock, according to DNC spokesperson Karen Finney, who called Bond a "proven leader."

Bond served from 1996 to 2003 as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a bipartisan national group that raises money and provides training to help elect openly gay candidates to public office.

"It was not retaliation," Finney said of Hitchcock's dismissal. "It was decided we needed a change. We decided to hire a proven leader."

Hitchcock declined comment Tuesday night except to confirm that Dean informed him May 2 through a surrogate that he had been terminated. He said he was considering consulting an attorney to decide whether to contest the firing.

"This is retaliation, plain and simple," said Yandura. "This shows what they think about domestic partners."

Yandura said Tuesday night that Dean was using Hitchcock as a "scapegoat" for problems of Dean's own making.

"All I did was ask questions about what the party and Dean are doing about its GLBT constituency, Yandura said. "I have yet to see any answers."

Hitchcock's dismissal came after Yaundura created a stir among party activists, both gay and straight, by sending an open letter on April 20 to gay Democrats criticizing Dean and the party for not getting involved in state ballot measures seeking to ban gay marriage.

Personally, I think Yaundura's criticism is fair and likely correct.

Richard Cohen: "Stephen Colbert Was Not Funny"

Richard Cohen was not amused with Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondent's Association Dinner:

The commentary, though, is also what I do, and it will make the point that Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Rude is not the same as brash. It is not the same as brassy. It is not the same as gutsy or thinking outside the box. Rudeness means taking advantage of the other person's sense of decorum or tradition or civility that keeps that other person from striking back or, worse, rising in a huff and leaving. The other night, that person was George W. Bush.

Colbert made jokes about Bush's approval rating, which hovers in the middle 30s. He made jokes about Bush's intelligence, mockingly comparing it to his own. "We're not some brainiacs on nerd patrol," he said. Boy, that's funny.

Colbert took a swipe at Bush's Iraq policy, at domestic eavesdropping, and he took a shot at the news corps for purportedly being nothing more than stenographers recording what the Bush White House said. He referred to the recent staff changes at the White House, chiding the media for supposedly repeating the cliche "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" when he would have put it differently: "This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg." A mixed metaphor, and lame as can be.

Why are you wasting my time with Colbert, I hear you ask. Because he is representative of what too often passes for political courage, not to mention wit, in this country. His defenders -- and they are all over the blogosphere -- will tell you he spoke truth to power. This is a tired phrase, as we all know, but when it was fresh and meaningful it suggested repercussions, consequences -- maybe even death in some countries. When you spoke truth to power you took the distinct chance that power would smite you, toss you into a dungeon or -- if you're at work -- take away your office.

But in this country, anyone can insult the president of the United States. Colbert just did it, and he will not suffer any consequence at all. He knew that going in. He also knew that Bush would have to sit there and pretend to laugh at Colbert's lame and insulting jokes. Bush himself plays off his reputation as a dunce and his penchant for mangling English. Self-mockery can be funny. Mockery that is insulting is not. The sort of stuff that would get you punched in a bar can be said on a dais with impunity. This is why Colbert was more than rude. He was a bully.

I am not a member of the White House Correspondents' Association, and I have not attended its dinner in years (I watched this year's on C-SPAN). The gala is an essentially harmless event that requires the presence of one man, the president. If presidents started not to show up, the organization would have to transform itself into a burial association. But presidents come and suffer through a ritual that most of them find mildly painful, not to mention boring. Whatever the case, they are guests. They don't have to be there -- and if I were Bush, next year I would not. Spring is a marvelous time to be at Camp David.

I agree.

NY Daily News: Moussaoui Verdict Is An Abomination

The New York Daily News is not happy with the Moussaoui verdict:

Zacarias Moussaoui will live. This is not justice. This is an abomination. This is a reprieve from hell for a soul who deserves an eternity in flames no less intense than the infernos that brought down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

That Moussaoui will suffer the tortures of damnation after a life in prison is of no comfort. No matter how entombed in concrete and steel he is, Moussaoui will breathe the air that Al Qaeda denied to almost 3,000 murder victims. Until, to his everlasting surprise, he is greeted not by willing virgins but by a vengeful maker.

It is deeply dispiriting that an American jury yesterday failed to impose the death penalty on a terrorist who came to the United States with plans to hijack a jetliner and fly it into the Capitol or the White House - and who knew that other conspirators were planning to hit the twin towers. Those facts alone justified capital punishment.

I agree.

Peggy Noonan on the Moussaoui Verdict

Peggy Noonan is upset with the Moussaoui verdict:

I happen, as most adults do, to feel a general ambivalence toward the death penalty. But I know why it exists. It is the expression of a certitude, of a shared national conviction, about the value of a human life. It says the deliberate and planned taking of a human life is so serious, such a wound to justice, such a tearing at the human fabric, that there is only one price that is justly paid for it, and that is the forfeiting of the life of the perpetrator. It is society's way of saying that murder is serious, dreadfully serious, the most serious of all human transgressions.

It is not a matter of vengeance. Murder can never be avenged, it can only be answered.

If Moussaoui didn't deserve the death penalty, who does? Who ever did?

And if he didn't receive it, do we still have it?

James Lileks on Gas Taxes

Yet, another classic from James Lileks:

Nothing better exemplifies the world-turned-upside-down madness than the response to the gas "crisis." If the GOP was intent on educating the public, it would explain obscure concepts like "supply" and "demand" and how this big country called "Chi-na" has been sopping up more liquefied dinosaurs than usual. Also, we don't build enough refineries, and thanks to the greenies we can't drill anywhere Steven Spielberg might see the rig from his house. And he has houses everywhere. But who cares? Man up, ya crybabies! We're Americans. Let's go poke holes in Mother Nature's noggin and hoover up some light sweet crude so we don't have to rehash this drivel next year.

The actual GOP response? Hundred-dollar rebates. Cash money, friend, just for drivin'. We feel your pain: Here, have some money we borrowed from someone else. How's your Starbucks bill looking this week? Caramel mocha lattes add up, we know, and perhaps we can spot you a twenty (as long as you'll agree you're addicted to caffeine) and let Congress mandate 25 percent ethanol in your morning cup.

Rebates! If there's anything that exemplifies the nanny-state mentality, it's driving up the federal armored car and pitchforking sawbucks out the back. For a moment the nation braced for the Democratic response — if it had been true to form, the rebates would have been twice the size, adjusted for income, paid for with a tax on those chrome fish emblems Christians like to stick on their cars, printed on recycled paper with soy ink and introduced at a press conference featuring a leading liberal strategic theorist like Susan Sarandon, who would use the opportunity to complain that Karl Rove has been giving her movies one star on Amazon.com review sites.

As it happens, the Democrats saw a nice issue left on the ground, picked it up and gave it a close look: hmm. Tax relief. Crazy, but it just might work. And so we had the Republicans throwing money at the problem, and the Democrats proposing a moratorium on gas taxes. You almost expected Bill Frist to propose alternate fuels based on embryo stem cells.

May 03, 2006

Howard Dean: Voters Are Morons

Indiana has enacted a law which requires the use of a photo I.D. in order to vote. This makes sense to me, and quite frankly, should be acceptable to anyone concerned about preventing voter fraud (e.g., voting multiple times, voting as deceased individuals).
However, Howard Dean believes this law is merely another Republican attempt to disenfranchise the poor, minority, elderly, rural, disabled and student voters:

To: National Desk

WASHINGTON, May 2 /U.S. Newswire/ — Voters across Indiana headed to the polls today for the first time since the state's voter I.D. law took effect. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement:

"Indiana voters today became the first in the country to head to the polls and confront Republican efforts to use unfair voter identification laws to keep legitimate voters from casting their ballots. I applaud Hoosiers who headed to the polls today in the face of an unfair law that disproportionately prevents poor, minority, elderly, rural, disabled and student voters from being able to exercise their most fundamental right as Americans-the right to vote.

Evidently, Mr. Dean must believe that the poor, the minorities, the elderly, the rural, the disabled and the student voters are too stupid to get a photo I.D. There really is no other explanation. Really. How hard is it to get a photo I.D.?

George Clooney and Darfur

Note to actor, celebrity dissident and bon vivant George Clooney: Don't get a moral high from the puff-piece media's bravura reviews of your soliloquy at last week's "Save Darfur" rally in Washington. Your international education remains grievously inadequate and incomplete.

A glitterati actor advocating military action in a very hard and chaotic corner of our planet should consider the following details.

Yes, the dictatorship repeatedly launched genocidal attacks on tribal rebels. Indeed, the dictator exploited tribal rivalries to attack dissident bases and split opposition leadership. The dictatorship murdered men, women and children by the hundreds of thousands, despite objections by the United States, Great Britain and the United Nations. The dictatorship fueled its war with billions in petrodollars, while tens of thousands of children and elderly citizens lacked basic medical care
True, most of the regime's victims are Muslims. Russia, China and France played ambiguous political roles, because of financial interests in the region. And deplore this sad fact: Efforts made by international military forces to protect the vulnerable ethnic groups from the regime's depredations were limited and insufficient.

The dictatorship maintained contact with terrorist organizations. In retrospect, the dictatorship may not have produced weapons of mass destruction -- but as the secretary of defense said, given the regime's track record for mass murder and terror, he'd still order the attack.

I have just described Sudan. For readers who may not know the geography and demography, a terrible genocide directed by the Sudanese government is occurring in Sudan's western Darfur region. George Clooney essentially wants the United States and United Nations to invade Darfur to stop the genocide.

However, I've also sketched Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Clooney and his clan object to the coalition war in Iraq.

Hypocritical? Inexcusably hypocritical, but all too typical of the Hollywood left and their elite media pals.

The parallels between Sudan and Iraq are striking and informative. Substitute Sudan's Darfurian tribes for Iraqi Shias and Kurds. The international forces in Darfur are hapless African Union peacekeepers, who spend their time trying to avoid ambushes. In Iraq, the United States and Great Britain tried to protect the Kurd north and Shia south with air patrols -- it didn't work. Saddam's terror contacts among secular and sectarian terrorists were numerous. Sudan harbored Osama bin Laden. As for the WMD, recall the Clinton administration's strike on the Khartoum pharmaceuticals plant suspected of producing nerve gas. Former Clinton SecDef Bill Cohen still defends the attack. He didn't want to run the risk that terrorists would acquire WMD from a rogue tyranny. The Bush administration didn't want to run that risk with Iraq....It's not that I don't think Darfur demands international action. It does. I do not come to that conclusion lightly, for I began writing about Darfur in February 2003 at StrategyPage.com -- well before Darfur broke as a cause celebre. (The Feb. 26, 2003, report notes that the Sudanese government had armed Arabized tribal militias, and now Darfur's "rebel" Zaghawa and Fur tribes were fighting back.)

Russia and China, however, block U.N. action in Darfur. NATO could provide troops, but watch the reaction when "U.S. and European colonialists" invade sovereign Sudan -- that's assuming Clooney convinces France and Germany to participate. Al-Qaida will show up -- bin Laden promised that last week -- so expect a hard slog.

He makes some really good points.

Look, I often criticize celebrities that get involved in politics and pretend to be "experts" on whatever cause that they have chosen to champion. I do, admittedly, get irritated by celebrities that believe experience in television or movies makes them more intellectual or intelligent than those leading the country.

I do believe that, in this particular situation, George Clooney is using his celebrity for a good cause - to provide publicity to a very horrible situation (quite frankly, it is about time - the slaughter in Darfur has been going on for years.)

However, by now, it is clear that "world opinion" or "bad publicity" is not going to stop the genocide in Darfur. George Clooney's efforts, unfortunately, are going to amount to nothing.

So, what are the other options? Negotiations? Not going to work. Military action? Sorry, but George Clooney has been telling us for four years that military action is not justified in Iraq (a country in which human rights atrocities were committed on a daily basis), so why should he now favor military action in another part of the world for a similar reason?
Well, George Clooney will never be forced to confront this hypocrisy. Military action is very unlikely.
The U.N. is reluctant to classify the situation as a genocide and the matter is hopelessly deadlocked in the U.N. Security Council. No country has indicated a real willingness to commit troops and intervene militarily.

Should the U.S. intervene? Yes. Will the U.S. intervene. Not likely.

The Democrat's reaction to the Iraq war has essentially guaranteed that the Bush administration will not likely intervene. Since March of 2003, the Democrats have created an environment that would discourage any further military intervention. The Democrats have worked hard to turn U.S. public opinion against military interventions and toward isolationism. Quite frankly, they have been pretty successful at doing so.

The anti-war liberals (the majority of the Democratic party - or at least the most vocal) would never get behind a military intervention in Darfur - or would they? For the last four years we have been told that war is the ultimate evil and that the ends (freeing people from oppression) are not justified by the means. After all, Saddam Hussein was responsible for the torture and deaths of millions of people. Yet, the anti-war liberals will never acknowledge that the invasion was justified on that basis alone. Rather, they have attempted to argue that Bush somehow lied about WMD's to get us into Iraq and, as a result, the entire operation should have never occurred - regardless of the side benefit of freeing millions from tyranny and oppression.
We have been told by the Democrats, including George Clooney, that the U.S. cannot be the world's policeman, that democracies are not workable in the third world and that we cannot solve all of the world's problems - so why bother?

For four long years, I have listened to lecturing from Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and Cindy Sheehan that the casualties we have suffered in Iraq (which are light by any honest historical analysis or comparison to other historical conflicts of similar nature) are too heavy, not justified and warrant our immediate withdrawal. If we intervened in Darfur, it is very likely we would suffer similar casualties. Would the Democrats complain and criticize the administration for getting us into an "unwinnable war" or a "quagmire" in Darfur?

If the Democrats do support an intervention in Darfur for humanitarian reasons, then the Democrats would need to explain the inherent contradiction with their position on Iraq.

Democrats and Family

An interesting column from Caitlin Flanagan at Time.com:


But despite all that, there is apparently no room for me in the Democratic Party. In fact, I have spent much of the past week on a forced march to the G.O.P. And the bayonet at my back isn't in the hands of the Republicans; the Democrats are the bullyboys. Such lions of the left as Barbara Ehrenreich, the writers at Salon and much of the Upper West Side of Manhattan have made it abundantly clear to me that I ought to start packing my bags. I'm not leaving, but sometimes I wonder: When did I sign up to be the beaten wife of the Democratic Party?

Here's why they're after me: I have made a lifestyle choice that they can't stand, and I'm not cowering in the closet because of it. I'm out, and I'm proud. I am a happy member of an exceedingly "traditional" family. I'm in charge of the house and the kids, my husband is in charge of the finances and the car maintenance, and we all go to church every Sunday. . . .

Most of the 60 million people who voted against George W. Bush have lifestyles more like mine than the Democratic Party would like to admit. Most of us aren't the Hollywood elite or the nontraditional family. Many of us do what I do, which is go to church on Sunday, work hard and value my marriage. ... The Democrats made a huge tactical error a few decades ago. In the middle of doing the great work of the '60s--civil rights, women's liberation, gay inclusion--we decided to stigmatize the white male. The union dues--paying, churchgoing, beer-drinking family man got nothing but ridicule and venom from us. So he dumped us. And he took the wife and kids with him.

And now here we are, living in a country with a political and economic agenda we deplore, losing election after election and wondering why.