Wednesday, May 31, 2006

SCOTUS Squelches Squealers

High Court's Free-Speech Ruling Favors Government
Public Workers on Duty Not Protected
By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 31, 2006; Page A01

The Supreme Court yesterday bolstered the government's power to discipline public employees who make charges of official misconduct, ruling that the First Amendment does not protect those who blow the whistle in the course of their official duties.

By a vote of 5 to 4, the court ruled that the Los Angeles County district attorney's office did not violate prosecutor Richard Ceballos's freedom of speech by allegedly demoting him after he wrote to supervisors charging that a sheriff's deputy had lied to get a search warrant.

Dissenters on the court, civil libertarians and public-employee unions said the ruling, which extends to all of the nation's public employees, could deter government workers from going to their bosses with evidence of corruption or ineptitude.

But, the court ruled, recognizing claims such as Ceballos's could turn bureaucratic policy disputes into federal constitutional lawsuits, disrupting public administration, clogging courts and making it hard for the government to speak with a single voice.


While I would generally prefer the law to err on the side of whistle blowers I can see the logic behind the ruling. Ceballos made one mistake and that was dissenting in writing. Normally that's something one does only if they feel strongly enough to quit or be fired over it. Otherwise you "voice your concern" in person or on the phone. But maybe my attitude has to do with the fact that I live in Texas which is at at will employment state where employers don't need a valid reason to fire anyone.

Mediators woo Sudan Darfur rebels

By Opheera McDoom
Wednesday, May 31, 2006; 9:26 AM

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Talks intensified on Wednesday to convince two Darfur rebel factions to sign a peace deal by a midnight deadline to end a three-year-old conflict in Sudan's violent west where tens of thousands have been killed.

A May 5 deal was signed by only one rebel faction leader, Minni Arcua Minnawi of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), and African Union mediators gave two other factions until Wednesday to sign or face possible U.N. sanctions.

The day will end at midnight so we still have time and we still wish to see others joining the peace process," said Noureddine Mezni, AU spokesman in Khartoum.

Minnawi, who has returned to his areas in Darfur, told Reuters on Wednesday the others needed to sign up to address their concerns from within rather than remaining out in the cold.

"Let them hurry to sign," he said. "If they join the agreement they can develop things but whenever they are outside they cannot develop the document."

But he said that no changes could be made to the deal.

Abdel Wahed Mohammed al-Nur, the other SLA faction leader, is in the Kenyan capital Nairobi but on Tuesday his group said he would not sign unless changes or additions were made to the text, conditions which the AU and Sudan's government reject.

And the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is being prodded by the Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek in Ljubljana. JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim also says he wants radical changes to the deal before signing.

The two factions say they want more political posts, better compensation for the victims of the conflict and a say in disarming the government-armed Arab militia, who are blamed for much of the violence on the ground.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ethics Spotlight Now on Reid

Reid Accepted Free Boxing Tickets While a Related Bill Was Pending

By John Solomon
Associated Press
Tuesday, May 30, 2006; Page A03

Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.

Reid took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.

A few months after the fundraiser, Reid did sponsor a spending bill that targeted $100,000 to another Abramoff tribe, the Chitimacha of Louisiana, to pay for a soil erosion study for which Ayoob was lobbying. Reid said he sponsored the provision because Louisiana lawmakers sent him a letter requesting it.

Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist, has pleaded guilty in a widespread corruption probe of Capitol Hill. Reid used that conviction earlier this year to accuse Republicans of fostering a culture of corruption inside Congress.


Another Abramhoff donation recipient doing something ethically questionable? Say it ain't so!
The really great thing about the Abramhoff scandal is it gave the press a nice list of lawmakers to keep an eye on. And by the time its all said and done those politicians that are corrupt and probably a few that aren't may find themselves out of office due to their ties to Abramhoff. That would send a message that the American people will not tolerate impropriety or even the appearance of it. And that would do more good than any campaign finance reform bill that is likely to pass anytime in the forseeable future.

Study Suggests Many Parents Fool Themselves About Firearm Safety

This study confirms a few things I recall from childhood so pardon me for lecturing:

In Harm's Way: Guns and Kids

By Sandra G. Boodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 30, 2006; Page HE01

Gun-owning parents who think their children don't know where firearms are kept or haven't handled the weapons without permission may be in for a disturbing surprise.

A new study involving 201 parents and an equal number of their children has found that 39 percent of kids knew the location of their parents' firearms, while 22 percent said they had handled the weapons, despite their parents' assertions to the contrary. Parents who had talked to their children about gun safety were just as likely to be misinformed about their children's actions as those who said they never had discussed the matter.

"Children are really curious and have lots of things in their home that parents have no intention of letting them find -- but they do," said Matthew Miller, associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and co-author of the study in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The gun safety study is the first to compare the responses of parents and their children, ages 5 to 14, who were interviewed separately.

"Adolescents act impulsively, whether or not they have psychiatric problems," Miller said, noting that studies have found that a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide and homicide, as well as accidental shootings. "It's up to parents -- not children -- to provide a safe environment."

He advises parents who don't want to part with their guns to lock unloaded weapons in a place separate from ammunition, which should also be locked. Guns should be accessible only by a key the parent carries at all times. If guns are stored in a safe with a combination, only parents should know the combination.

"You want to make it as hard as possible for your kid to get that gun," Miller said.

Relying solely on strategies that seek to dampen the natural curiosity of a child, such as telling children guns are dangerous, or assuming that a child will be unfailingly obedient and never touch a weapon if he finds one, is ineffective at best, Miller said.


I ran across the place where my mom's handgun was kept when I was 10. Did I tell an adult? No. I would have gotten in trouble for being in my parents room without them being present. Did I pick it up? No. Why? Because to me the gun was less interesting than the Christmas presents I was trying to find.

Guns weren't taboo at my house. I'd been shooting for 2 years at that point. I'd been through and passed state regulated gun safety courses and cleaned a lot of guns by then. So I tended to equate guns with work and studying ie lost play time.

I was taught gun safety by both sets of parents. My son's school started teaching the Eddie Eagle gun safety stuff the article mentions in the second grade. Which is when I started teaching him the hows and whys behind the rules.

Now here is my point. If you own a gun and have kids they will find it. Period. End of story.

Trigger locks are a good way to prevent your child from actually firing the gun but hands on parental education is the only way to remove the desire for them to pick the gun up and goof around with it in the first place. If you can't do that you have two choices: get rid of the gun or put a trigger lock on it, lock the gun up, and then lock the keys up elsewhere. The second option has a side effect of making a gun a lot less accessible for home defense.

For non gun owners the Eddie Eagle method of kids telling an adult whenever they see a gun can work. But parents have to make a point of knowing which houses their kids go to have guns and how they are kept. Parents that are irresponsible gun owners are also irresponsible parents. So your kid doesn't need to be in that house anyway.

Free Gun Locks: Project ChildSafe

Thats it. I'm finished preaching for now.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

And when the wind in the tree-tops roared,
The soldier asked from the deep dark grave:
"Did the banner flutter then?"
"Not so, my hero," the wind replied.
"The fight is done, but the banner won,
Thy comrades of old have borne it hence,
Have borne it in triumph hence."
Then the soldier spake from the deep dark grave:
"I am content."

Then he heareth the lovers laughing pass,
and the soldier asks once more:
"Are these not the voices of them that love,
That love--and remember me?"
"Not so, my hero," the lovers say,
"We are those that remember not;
For the spring has come and the earth has smiled,
And the dead must be forgot."
Then the soldier spake from the deep dark grave:
"I am content."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

House Leaders Concede FBI Right to Search

House Leaders Concede FBI Right to Search
By LAURIE KELLMANThe Associated Press
Saturday, May 27, 2006; 5:03 AM

WASHINGTON -- House leaders acknowledged Friday that FBI agents with a court-issued warrant can legally search a congressman's office, but they said they want procedures established after agents with a court warrant took over a lawmaker's office last week.

"I want to know exactly what would happen if there is a similar sort of thing" in the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said Friday, shortly after summoning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to his office.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., concurred: "I am confident that in the next 45 days, the lawyers will figure out how to do it right."

Gonzales was similarly optimistic. "We've been working hard already and we'll continue to do so pursuant to the president's order," he told The Associated Press.

In an editorial page article in USA Today on Friday, Hastert said he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have directed House lawyers "to develop reasonable protocols and procedures that will make it possible for the FBI to go into congressional offices to constitutionally execute a search warrant."


Awww! But I wanted it to go to the Supreme Court! Why? Because that would have been a lot more interesting to blog about than this.

New Speaker of the House Not Under Investigation?

Hastert, Justice Dept. Dispute Inquiry Story
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006; Page A06

ABC News says federal investigators have put House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) "in the mix" of their corruption probe centering on convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty says the ABC report involving Hastert -- even the "in the mix" language -- is "untrue."

And Hastert, calling the story "absolutely" wrong, is demanding a retraction.

Who's right?

It is highly unusual for the Justice Department to confirm or deny that someone is under investigation. Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said that federal guidelines allow such statements in cases receiving "substantial publicity" and that the decision was based on the guidelines "combined with the inaccuracy of the information."

Brian Ross, ABC's chief investigative correspondent, said in an interview: "I think our story is accurate. We've gone back to our sources, and they believe what we reported was accurate as they knew it. There seems to be some disconnect between what the congressman thinks, what the Justice Department thinks and what the FBI thinks. . . . There may be a semantics issue here as to what constitutes being under investigation."


Semantics? Oh, so its more of a potato/potahto, invade/deliver democracy sort of thing?

AG threatens to Quit Over Raid

Gonzales Said He Would Quit in Raid Dispute
New York Times

WASHINGTON, May 26 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.

Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress.

The potential showdown was averted Thursday when President Bush ordered the evidence to be sealed for 45 days to give Congress and the Justice Department a chance to work out a deal.


In a fictional interview with Dyre Portents Mr. Gonzales said,"If I can't violate the constitution when, where, and how I see fit I am so out of here."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Speaker of the House Under Investigation?

Officials: Hastert "In the Mix" of Congressional Bribery Investigation
May 24, 2006 6:24 PM

Brian Ross Reports:

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government. Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes. The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time. The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

A spokesman for Speaker Hastert told ABC News, "We are not aware of this. The Speaker has a long history and a well-documented record of opposing Indian Reservation shopping for casino gaming purposes."


Hastert has denied the allegations and demanded a retraction and an apology. However Hastert was the single largest beneficiary of Abramhoff's "generosity".

Hastert: No. 1 Recipient of Abramoff Money

May 24, 2006 6:22 PM

From Our Sources:

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, House Speaker Dennis Hastert is the No.1 individual recipient of money from Abramoff and his clients, with a total of $68,300 contributed to his campaign committee and leadership PAC from 1998 to 2004.

Click here to see the list of "Jack Abramoff and his Clients: Campaign Contribution Recipients."

Hastert is up for re-election this November so you can bet this is the last thing he wanted to see in the news.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sudan under pressure on U.N. peacekeepers

By Opheera McDoom and Jeremy Lovell
Tuesday, May 23, 2006; 2:03 PM

KHARTOUM/LONDON (Reuters) - The Sudanese government must agree to let a U.N. peacekeeping force into Darfur within weeks to make sure a peace agreement is applied, African Union commission chief Alpha Konare said on Tuesday.

"In two months' time the rainy season starts. If confidence does not rule again to improve the security situation by then, it could be very bad," he told reporters after meeting

"The credibility of the agreement lies in making sure the undertakings are applied. We must lose no more time. If there is any doubt, everything comes into question," he added.

He was speaking as senior U.N. diplomats began talks in Khartoum to try to persuade Sudan to agree to the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to replace a cash-strapped and ill-equipped African Union (AU) force.

Khartoum initially resisted the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers, saying this would cause an Iraq-like quagmire that would attract Islamist militants into attacking the U.N. troops.

But since the government and the main Darfur rebel group signed a peace deal on May 5, Khartoum has softened its stance.

It says it does not reject a U.N. force but wants to be consulted about its mandate in Darfur -- an ethnically mixed region the size of France, whose people have been swept up by a wave of violence since the rebellion began in 2003.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan telephoned Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to urge him to let a U.N. military planning team into Darfur as soon as possible, chief U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

The Khartoum government has yet to issue invitations or visas to the planning team, despite a deadline on Tuesday set by the U.N. Security Council last week.

full article

FBI Raid Violates Constitution?

The constitutional battle continues as lawmakers assert that an FBI raid on the office of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) (who has been asked to resign his comittee seat) violated the seperation of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branches of government.

Raid Divides G.O.P. Lawmakers and White House
NY Times

Published: May 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 23 — After years of quietly acceding to the Bush administration's assertions of executive power, the Republican-led Congress hit a limit this weekend.

Resentment boiled among senior Republicans for a second day on Tuesday after a team of warrant-bearing agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation turned up at a closed House office building on Saturday evening, demanded entry to the office of a lawmaker and spent the night going through his files.

The episode prompted cries of constitutional foul from Republicans — even though the lawmaker in question, Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, is a Democrat whose involvement in a bribery case has made him an obvious partisan political target.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert raised the issue personally with President Bush on Tuesday. The Senate Rules Committee is examining the episode.

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, predicted that the separation-of-powers conflict would go to the Supreme Court. "I have to believe at the end of the day it is going to end up across the street," Mr. Boehner told reporters gathered in his conference room, which looks out on the Capitol plaza and the court building.

A court challenge would place all three branches of government in the fray over whether the obscure "speech and debate" clause of the Constitution, which offers some legal immunity for lawmakers in the conduct of their official duties, could be interpreted to prohibit a search by the executive branch on Congressional property.


The FBI states that the raid was warranted (no pun intended) as Jefferson and his attorneys had previous refused to comply with a subpoena for those same documents.

F.B.I. Officials Defend Raid on Lawmaker's Office
Amid Uproar on Capitol Hill, Gonzales Says Jefferson Search Was Done Carefully

By Dan Eggen and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 24, 2006; Page A04

Justice Department and FBI officials yesterday vigorously defended a weekend raid on the Capitol Hill office of Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.), arguing that the unprecedented tactic was necessary because Jefferson and his attorneys had refused to comply with a subpoena for documents issued more nine months ago in a bribery investigation.

At the same time, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and other administration officials sought to quell a growing uproar among Republican and Democratic lawmakers, many of whom view the Saturday night search in the Rayburn House Office Building as a clear violation of constitutional language and case law protecting lawmakers from intimidation by the executive branch.


Odds are this is going to the Supreme Court and while I'm no legal scholar I think it will be upheld as a violation of the constitution unless the fact that Jefferson failed to comply with a order from the Judicial branch becomes the key legal issue in which case one of two things will happen:

1: The search will be declared legal since it was enacted due to a failure to comply with an order from the Judicial Branch

2: The court will rule that Jefferson should have jailed for contempt of court until the documents were produced and therefore the search was invalid.

It'll be interesting to see how the court rules as it will set the tone for an administration that has repeatedly pushed executive powers to their (and many say beyond) their limits.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Congress Cries Foul on FBI Raid

It sounds to me like they are crying,"Holy crap! That could happen to me!"

FBI Raid on Lawmaker's Office Is Questioned
Democrat Jefferson Denies Wrongdoing

By Dan Eggen and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 23, 2006; Page A01

An unusual FBI raid of a Democratic congressman's office over the weekend prompted complaints yesterday from leaders in both parties, who said the tactic was unduly aggressive and may have breached the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.), who is at the center of a 14-month investigation for allegedly accepting bribes for promoting business ventures in Africa, also held a news conference in which he denied any wrongdoing and denounced the raid on his office as an "outrageous intrusion." Jefferson, who has not been charged, vowed to seek reelection in November.

Republican leaders, who previously sought to focus attention on the Jefferson case as a counterpoint to their party's own ethical scandals, said they are disturbed by the raid. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said that he is "very concerned" about the incident and that Senate and House counsels will review it.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressed alarm at the raid. "The actions of the Justice Department in seeking and executing this warrant raise important Constitutional issues that go well beyond the specifics of this case," he said in a lengthy statement released last night.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), in an e-mail to colleagues with the subject line "on the edge of a constitutional confrontation," called the Saturday night raid "the most blatant violation of the Constitutional Separation of Powers in my lifetime." He urged President Bush to discipline or fire "whoever exhibited this extraordinary violation."

Many legal experts and defense lawyers agreed with Gingrich. Charles Tiefer, a University of Baltimore law professor who served as solicitor and deputy general counsel of the House for 11 years, called the raid "an intimidating tactic that has never before been used against the legislative branch."

full article

Monday, May 22, 2006

GOP Focuses on Elections While Base Call for Reforms

Elections Are Crux Of GOP's Strategy
Bush Aides Look to Midterm Vote as Way to Reverse Slide

By Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, May 22, 2006; Page A01

Confronting the worst poll numbers seen in the West Wing since his father went down to defeat, President Bush and his team are focusing on the fall midterm elections as the best chance to salvage his presidency and are building a campaign strategy around tax cuts, immigration and national security.

Modern history offers no precedent of a president climbing from a hole as deep as the one Bush finds himself in, and White House strategists have concluded that no staff shake-up or other quick fix will alter their trajectory. In the sixth year of his tenure, they said, Bush cannot easily change the minds of voters whose impressions are fully formed.

Perhaps the most important element of the emerging strategy will be to "move from a referendum to a choice," as Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman put it. Instead of a verdict on Bush, Republicans want to frame the election as a contest with Democrats, confident that voters unhappy with the president will find the opposition even more distasteful.


Hmmm....let me get this right you've had control of the Presidency, The Senate, and The Congress but you haven't delivered on the issues that are of import to your base and raised spending to an all time high?

That may explain this article:

Bush's Base Betrayal
Fury on the Right

By Richard A. Viguerie
Sunday, May 21, 2006; Page B01

As a candidate in 2000, George W. Bush was a Rorschach test. Country Club Republicans saw him as another George H.W. Bush; some conservatives, thinking wishfully, saw him as another Ronald Reagan. He called himself a "compassionate conservative," which meant whatever one wanted it to mean. Experts from across the party's spectrum were flown to Austin to brief Bush and reported back: "He's one of us."

Republicans were desperate to retake the White House, conservatives were desperate to get the Clinton liberals out and there was no direct heir to Reagan running for president. So most conservatives supported Bush as the strongest candidate -- some enthusiastically and some, like me, reluctantly. After the disastrous presidency of his father, our support for the son was a triumph of hope over experience.

Once he took office, conservatives were willing to grant this Bush a honeymoon. We were happy when he proposed tax cuts (small, but tax cuts nonetheless) and when he pushed for a missile defense system. Then came the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and conservatives came to see support for the president as an act of patriotism.

Conservatives tolerated the No Child Left Behind Act, an extensive intrusion into state and local education, and the budget-busting Medicare prescription drug benefit. They tolerated the greatest increase in spending since Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. They tolerated Bush's failure to veto a single bill, and his refusal to enforce immigration laws. They even tolerated his signing of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul, even though Bush's opposition to that measure was a key reason they backed him over Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the 2000 primaries.

For years, congressional Republicans have sold themselves to conservatives as the continuation of the Reagan revolution. We were told that they would take on the Washington special interests -- that they would, in essence, tear down K Street and sow the earth with salt to make sure nothing ever grew there again.

But over time, most of them turned into the sort of unprincipled power brokers they had ousted in 1994. They lost interest in furthering conservative ideas, and they turned their attention to getting their share of the pork. Conservatives did not spend decades going door to door, staffing phone banks and compiling lists of like-minded voters so Republican congressmen could have highways named after them and so there could be an affirmative-action program for Republican lobbyists.

If conservatives accept the idea that we must support Republicans no matter what they do, we give up our bargaining position and any chance at getting things done. We're like a union that agrees never to strike, no matter how badly its members are treated. Sometimes it is better to stand on principle and suffer a temporary defeat. If Ford had won in 1976, it's unlikely Reagan ever would have been president. If the elder Bush had won in 1992, it's unlikely the Republicans would have taken control of Congress in 1994.

At the very least, conservatives must stop funding the Republican National Committee and other party groups. (Let Big Business take care of that!) Instead, conservatives should dedicate their money and volunteer efforts toward conservative groups and conservative candidates. They should redirect their anger into building a third force -- not a third party, but a movement independent of any party. They should lay the groundwork for a rebirth of the conservative movement and for the 2008 campaign, when, perhaps, a new generation of conservative leaders will step forward.

I've never seen conservatives so downright fed up as they are today. The current relationship between Washington Republicans and the nation's conservatives makes me think of a cheating husband whose wife catches him, and forgives him, time and time again. Then one day he comes home to discover that she has packed her bags and called a cab -- and a divorce lawyer.

As the philanderer learns: Hell hath no fury. . . .

Full Article

Which gave birth to web sites like this:

Conservatives Betrayed

And conservative radio talk show hosts saying things like this: (hat tip to Centerfield)


By Doug McIntyre

Host, McIntyre in the Morning

Talk Radio 790 KABC

There’s nothing harder in public life than admitting you’re wrong. By the way, admitting you’re wrong can be even tougher in private life. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. But when you go out on the limb in public, it’s out there where everyone can see it, or in my case, hear it.

So, I’m saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he’s the worst President, period.

I believe that George W. Bush has taken us down a terrible road. I don’t believe the Democrats are offering an alternative. That means we’re on our own to save this magnificent country. The United States of America is a gift to the world, but it has been badly abused and it’s rightful owners, We the People, had better step up to the plate and reclaim it before the damage becomes irreparable.

So, accept my apology for allowing partisanship to blind me to an obvious truth; our President is incapable of the tasks he is charged with. I almost feel sorry for him. He is clearly in over his head. Yet, he doesn’t generate the sympathy Warren Harding earned. Harding, a spectacular mediocrity, had the self-knowledge to tell any and all he shouldn’t be President. George W. Bush continues to act the part, but at this point whose buying the act?

Full apology

And conservative blogger Captain Ed advocating actions like this:

We need to take one piece of advice from Vigurie: stop donating to party-leadership committees. No money to the RNC, the Republican Senatorial or Congressional Campaign Commitees, until that leadership proves its responsiveness to conservatives. We need to redirect those funds to conservative candidates instead, loosening the power that current leadership has on our representatives. If they do not fear the cutoff of electoral funding, they will be less inclined to follow in lockstep behind the spendthrifts. It's this activism that will enable conservatives to take control of the GOP, instead of abandoning it to the people who spend like drunken sailors.

In Closing:

I've already said it here, and here, so I'm just going to summarize it here:

The GOP needs to get back to the basics and deliver what it promises. Otherwise conservatives may just take their ball and their checkbook and go home.


Right Wing Nation

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Today in People Behaving Badly

Not that anyone wasn't expecting this to happen....

Graduates at New School Heckle Speech by McCain

The jeers, boos and insults flew, as caustic as any that angry New Yorkers have hurled inside Madison Square Garden. The objects of derision yesterday, however, were not the hapless New York Knicks, but Senator John McCain, the keynote speaker at the New School graduation, and his host, Bob Kerrey, the university president.

No sooner had Mr. Kerrey welcomed the audience to the university's 70th commencement than the hoots began to rise through the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Several graduates held up a banner aimed at Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican and likely 2008 presidential candidate, declaring: "Our commencement is not your platform." Other students and faculty members waved orange fliers with the same message.

As Mr. McCain came to the lectern, dozens of students and professors stood and turned their backs on him. Many waved their fliers.

At another point, someone yelled, "We're graduating, not voting!"

The heckling continued when Mr. Kerrey returned to the lectern, with one audience member shouting, "You're a war criminal!"

Mr. Kerrey, on stage, had accused the protesters of "heckling from the audience where no bravery is required."

But one graduate, Aisha Nga, 22, of Atlanta, said protesters were not hiding in the crowd. "Bob Kerrey said we weren't very brave, but I think a lot of people who were booing would say it to his face," she said after the ceremony. Like many of her classmates, she wore an orange armband to protest Mr. McCain's presence. In an interview later, Mr. Kerrey praised students for showing restraint. "They could have done all sorts of things under the umbrella of guerilla politics to destroy the event, and they didn't," he said.

full article

Apparently those that took the time to read Senator McCain's speech beforehand skipped over this part:

"Americans deserve more than tolerance from one another, we deserve each other’s respect, whether we think each other right or wrong in our views, as long as our character and our sincerity merit respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the noisy debates that enliven our politics, a mutual devotion to the sublime idea that this nation was conceived in – that freedom is the inalienable right of mankind, and in accord with the laws of nature and nature’s Creator."

Which is a pity, because its apparently a lesson they didn't learn before graduating.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Iran Holocaust Style Badge Story Questionable

The truth behind this story Iran Eyes Badges for Jews has been called into question:

OTTAWA (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quick to condemn Iran on Friday for an anti-Semitic law that appears not to exist.

Harper seized on a newspaper report that said Iran's hardline government would require Jews and Christians to wear coloured labels in public.

The prime minister couldn't vouch for the accuracy of the newspaper report, but he added that Iran was capable of such actions and compared them to Nazi practices.

But western journalists based in Iran told their Canadian colleagues that they were unaware of any such law.

And Iranian politicians - including a Jewish legislator in Tehran - were infuriated by the Post report, which they called false.

Politician Morris Motamed, one of about 25,000 Jews who live in Iran, called the report a slap in the face to his minority community.

"Such a plan has never been proposed or discussed in parliament," Motamed told the Associated Press.

The Post's front-page story, which quoted Iranian expatriates living in Canada, made headlines around the world and was the banner story on the popular Drudge Report website in the U.S.

The story said Iran would require Jews to wear yellow labels on their clothing in an eerie reminder of the buildup to the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler forced Jews to identify themselves with yellow Star of David patches.


Hat tip to Donkelphant

Iraqi Middle Class Fleeing Iraq?

As the NY Times reports this story:

As Death Stalks Iraq, Middle-Class Exodus Begins
In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class.

Reuters brings us this:

Iraq to get unity government

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi leaders have agreed on a national unity government to be presented to parliament on Saturday, officials said, despite failure to reach a compromise on the sensitive defense and interior ministry portfolios.

"The government will be announced tomorrow," a senior aide to Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki told Reuters late on Friday after weeks of wrangling between rival ethnic and religious groups jockeying for power in postwar Iraq.


Which is one of the causes of the problems mentioned in the NY Times article. Hopefully the new Govt can get its act together fast. Am I betting on it? No. Merely hoping.

Iran to Force Religious Minorities to Wear Holocaust Style Badges?

Iran eyes badges for Jews

Law would require non-Muslim insignia

Chris Wattie
National Post

Poll: 26% of Americans are Kooks

Poll: 26% suspect they've been wiretapped
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One in four Americans think it is likely that the government has listened to their phone calls, according to a CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.

The poll results appeared on the day that Gen. Michael Hayden faced intense questions from senators over domestic spying.

The CNN poll found 26 percent of respondents thought it was likely their own communications had been tapped, while 63 percent thought it probable that the government had eavesdropped without a court order on citizens not suspected of terrorist links.

Exactly half of those surveyed said the Bush administration was wrong to spy on those calls without a court order, with 44 percent saying the White House was right.


And in other news Alcoa's stock soared up 52% from yesterday as the makers of Reynolds Wrap announced the release of their new Reynolds Hat....


Basils Blog

Pirates Cove

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blogging for Kinky

Unpaid Endorsement

Kinky rolls 169,574 signatures to Capitol

Isadora Vail
Express-News Austin Bureau

AUSTIN — Bringing his signature flair to the state Capitol, entertainer and gubernatorial hopeful Kinky Friedman turned in 169,574 names to the secretary of state Thursday, well over the 45,500 he needs to run as an independent for governor.

Friedman and other independent gubernatorial hopefuls had until Thursday afternoon to turn in their signatures. He turned in 11 boxes and a DVD equipped with a customized database that proves signature validation.

All were delivered in the "Guv Bug," a bright pink buggy topped with a black cowboy hat that draws a crowd wherever Friedman goes. He was greeted by fans who pushed and shoved to get a closer look, a hug or even a kiss from the musician-turned-politician.

"The new Texas revolution is clearly coming, folks, and it is going to be fueled by young people," he said. "If you are old enough to die in Iraq, then you are old enough to help us fix Texas."

Texas Comptroller and independent hopeful Carole Keeton Strayhorn turned in 223,000 signatures on Tuesday to which Friedman replied, "Of course she had more signatures than we did. She got all of her ex-husbands to sign."

Robert Black, spokesmen for Gov. Rick Perry, said he wasn't surprised that Friedman collected that many signatures. Mark Sanders, Strayhorn's son and spokesman, chose not to comment on Friedman's signatures.

The verification of signatures will take about five to six weeks, despite the verification that the Strayhorn and Kinky campaigns have already done in hopes of speeding up the process.

Scott Haywood, spokesman for the secretary of state, said the verification is still the responsibility of his office. He said if they just took the candidates' data unchecked, it would be "like asking the fox to guard the henhouse."

In order for a signature to be considered valid, the person must be a registered voter who did not vote in the primary election and didn't already sign another independent's petition.

"May the God of your choice bless you and onward through the fog," Friedman told the crowd, his arms outstretched, signature cigar in hand.

This has turned out to be a really interesting race for Governor. Two independent candidates have actually managed to get onto the ballot. Something that has not happened since Sam Houston did it over 100 years ago. If nothing else it is truly a sign of how much voters are tired of the status quo in Texas (and perhaps nationally). Go Kinky!

The Thing That Should Not Be

Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ‘in cold blood’
Navy conducting war crimes probe into November violence in Haditha

NBC News
Updated: 9:27 p.m. ET May 17, 2006

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.

The Marine Corps issued a statement in response to Murtha's remarks:

"There is an ongoing investigation; therefore, any comment at this time would be inappropriate and could undermine the investigatory and possible legal process. As soon as the facts are known and decisions on future actions are made, we will make that information available to the public to the fullest extent allowable."

Full Article

Headlines like that are troubling even if they aren't true. So much of the long term War on Terror is a PR war. Every headline like that is a short term loss. It stirs up anger and resentment both home and abroad, strengthens our enemies, and fuels the anti-war sentiment.

Am I saying that the press shouldn't report on this or similiar stories? No. Atrocities must be exposed wherever they occur regardless of who commits them. But sometimes when you ask good people to do bad things for good reasons lines get crossed. Which is understandable but not always forgivable.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

9/11 Pentagon Video Released "Will Stop Conspiracy Theories"

First video of Pentagon 9/11 attack released
"Watchdog group says video will end 'conspiracy theories' "

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Video showing a plane crashing into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, was released publicly for the first time Tuesday, a judicial watchdog group said.

The Justice Department has handed over tapes showing American Airlines Flight 77 striking the building outside Washington to Judicial Watch, a public interest group that requested the video, the group said.

The video is available on the group's Web site, according to a news release from Judicial Watch.

At least two tapes were released, from different security cameras. The two cameras, from the same Pentagon checkpoint, show the building from different angles.

"Finally, we hope that this video will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77. As always, our prayers remain with all those who suffered as a result of those murderous attacks."

Full Article

Will stop conspiracy theories? I laugh every time I read those words.

In fact it will do the exact opposite.
It will create more conspiracy theories.

Judicial Watches financial records will be poured over, social network charts of their board and major donors will be created, thousands of man hours will be spent analyzing every shred of public information about Judicial Watch and they will eventually be linked to one or more groups seeking world domination (or giant shape changing space lizards) and then all of that will be posted on the internet.

And then one day when I am really really really bored, I will read them and laugh until it hurts.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories Previously Debunked

Popular Mechanics did a great (and very long) article shooting down many of the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11

"Three and a half years later, not everyone is convinced we know the truth. Go to, type in the search phrase "World Trade Center conspiracy" and you'll get links to an estimated 628,000 Web sites. More than 3000 books on 9/11 have been published; many of them reject the official consensus that hijackers associated with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda flew passenger planes into U.S. landmarks."

and so

"To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70 professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine, including aviation, engineering and the military."

When you have a fair amount of free time read the article
Then if you get really really really bored someday you can Google the title of the article and see what conspiracy theories it generated. Of which I can assure you there are many.

Recommended Listening

There is an interview here with author Joel Dyer about how he heard the exact same conspiracy theory from the leader of an American based white supremacist group and later heard it from a leader of AlQaeda and decided to investigate\crash the supposed ruler of the world's annual yearly meeting. It's pretty funny. He also explains the giant shape changing space lizards theory I mentioned earlier.

Since the March 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics the number of sites Google reports for "World Trade Center conspiracy" has grown from 628,000 to 920,000. See for yourself here.

Since my last update the number of sites Google reports for the term "World Trade Center Conspiracy" has grown from 920,000 to 1,690,000

Poll Results : Congress - It stinks!

I'll boil down the numbers after the article and highlight what I consider to be the most interesting points

Confidence In GOP Is At New Low in Poll

By Richard Morin and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 17, 2006; Page A01

Public confidence in GOP governance has plunged to the lowest levels of the Bush presidency, with Americans saying by wide margins that they now trust Democrats more than Republicans to deal with Iraq, the economy, immigration and other issues, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that underscores the GOP's fragile grip on power six months before the midterm elections.

Dissatisfaction with the administration's policies in Iraq has overwhelmed other issues as the source of problems for President Bush and the Republicans. The survey suggests that pessimism about the direction of the country -- 69 percent said the nation is now off track -- and disaffection with Republicans have dramatically improved Democrats' chances to make gains in November.


And here we go:

  • 56% of those polled would prefer to see Democrats take over the house
  • 55% Were open to voting out their Congressional Rep.
  • 52% Democrats not offering a significant change over Republicans
  • 30% Will vote to show opposition to the President
  • 12% Will vote to show support of the president
  • 90% of Dems unhappy with W
  • 70% of Indepedents Unhappy with W
  • 32% Approve of W's handling of the war
  • 47% of Republicans dissaprove of Congress' performance
  • 70% of Dems and Independents dissaprove of Congress' performance
  • 62% Approve of their Congressional Reps performance
  • 52% Plan on voting Dem in the upcoming election
  • 57% Say high gas prices are causing financial hardship
Sampling size 1001
Margin of error +/- 3%

What do these numbers really mean?

Most people believe Congress is doing a craptacular job.
Most people believe that the GOP is doing an even crappier job than the Dems.
Most people believe that other districts congressional reps are crappy.

We conducted our own survey and found that:

100% of those polled believe that after reading the previous poll results Howard Dean put his fingertips together and said,"Excellent."

Sampling size: 1
Margin of error +/- 0%

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

UN Finally Gets off its Keister to Help Darfur

U.N. Passes Darfur Peacekeeping Resolution
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 16, 2006; 12:04 PM

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution Tuesday that would accelerate planning for a United Nations peacekeeping force in Sudan's Darfur region.

The resolution, passed unanimously, also threatens "strong and effective measures" _ diplomatic language for sanctions _ against anyone who stands in the way of a May 5 peace agreement signed by the Sudanese government and Darfur's main rebel group.

According to the document, the council demands that an assessment team deploy to Sudan within a week to prepare for the United Nations to take control of an African Union-led peacekeeping mission now in Darfur.

China, Russia and Qatar agreed to the resolution only reluctantly. They had opposed the fact that it was written under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which means it can be enforced with punitive measures and possibly even military force.

But they signed on after the African Union indicated its own support for the resolution and asked them to join the consensus.

Full article

Its about damn time they did something.

All the Presidents Words and all of the Presidents Men

Couldn't make the GoP unite again....

Immigration Speech Observations

The Washington Post

Bush Rules Out Large-Scale Deportation of Immigrants

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 16, 2006; 3:42 PM

President Bush today effectively ruled out large-scale deportations of illegal immigrants, saying it was "unrealistic" to send home millions of people who have resided in the United States illegally for years.

In comments on border security following his televised address to the nation on the subject last night, Bush also dismissed the idea that his plan to post National Guard members on the U.S.-Mexican border would strain America's ability to wage the war on terrorism and to deal with domestic disasters. He denied that his proposal would "militarize" the border.

In the House, some Republicans have openly denounced Bush's proposed guest worker program as a de facto amnesty that would ultimately legalize millions of people who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas. Bush denies that the proposal amounts to an amnesty, but he has not explained how authorities would enforce a requirement that the workers return home at the end of their stays.


The New York Times

Bush Calls for Compromise on Immigration

Published: May 16, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 15 — President Bush proposed a plan on Monday that could place up to 6,000 National Guard troops along the border with Mexico for at least a year, but he urged Congress to address illegal immigration in a way that maintains the nation's tradition of openness.

White House officials said in a briefing for reporters Monday afternoon that the president was calling for $1.9 billion included in a supplemental budget bill now before Congress to be used for his proposals.

Some of the border state governors, Democrats in Congress, and others immediately raised questions about the practicality of the plan. Mr. Bush's broad approach also drew tepid reviews from some House Republicans and conservatives, whose support he will need as he grapples with a problem that has defied decades of proposed solutions: the continued economic imbalances between the United States and its trading partners to the south.

The reactions underscored the slender line the president is trying to walk between not only Democrats and warring members of his own party who are trying to hammer out legislation, but also between the increasingly powerful Hispanic voters he hopes to recruit to his party and the conservatives who still form its base.


In Conclusion:

Unfortunately for the GOP the presidents plan is a compromise that really pleases none of his supporters to any great extent. Many have pointed out two great weaknesses one being that there is no way to force guest workers to go home after their legal stay has ended and second that it is extremely soft on buisnesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants.

America has had an addiction to cheap labor for a long time. And we need to face that and deal with it. Although if things continue at their current trends China will eventually, at least in the manufacturing sector, fix that problem for us.

The President's plan is a timid step in the right direction. And this close to an election it would have been foolish for us to have hoped for a bold and daring immigration policy. What we received instead was an attempt at appeasement and we won't really know if that worked until November.

However here in blogville the presidents plan has caused much consternation like:

A total meltdown at a team conservative blog and at least one spat between conservative bloggers.

Liberals are most certainly enjoying watching the show. Its like interactive melodrama after all.

Are We Sacrificing Privacy for the Illusion of Security??

Hat tip to Midtopia for this one:

Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.


And now something for the conspiracy theorist in all of us...

Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet.

"I specialized in what's called special access programs," Tice said of his job. "We called them 'black world' programs and operations."

Tracking Calls

Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.

"If you picked the word 'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing."


Doesn't that just make your tinfoil hat tingle?

In Closing

According to a recent poll 51% of Americans disapprove of a massive Pentagon database containing the records of billions of phone calls made by ordinary citizens. I am one of them.

These programs have a huge potential for abuse particularly when it comes to the government whistleblowers and confidential informants. If Nixon had had access to this technology Deepthroat might have never come forward.

How much freedom and privacy are we willing to trade for security? We have this program. We have warrantless wiretaps. Library and Bookstore records were fair game. Do we want UK style video surveilance too? And even if we had all of that would any of it stopped Timothy McVeigh?

The government can't guarantee us total safety. Its an unreasonable expectation. Conversely we shouldn't expect every employee of the government, every government agency, and every administration to always act in the public's best interest. History has proven that to be equally unreasonable.

When is enough enough? Eventually the trade off will come to a point that the freedoms we originally sought to defend no longer exist. And on that day our enemies can safely say,"Mission accomplished!"

Monday, May 15, 2006

W to Deploy Troops to Border to Protect November Elections

Bush Set To Send Guard to Border

Assignment Would Be Temporary; Critics Cite Strain on Troops

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 15, 2006; Page A01

President Bush tried to ease the worries of his Mexican counterpart yesterday as he prepared for a nationally televised address tonight unveiling a plan to send thousands of National Guard troops to help seal the nation's southern border against illegal immigrants.

Mexican President Vicente Fox called to express concern over the prospect of militarization of the border, and Bush reassured him that it would be only a temporary measure to bolster overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, the White House said.

"The president made clear that the United States considers Mexico a friend and that what is being considered is not militarization of the border but support of Border Patrol capabilities on a temporary basis by National Guard personnel," said White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri.

Officials suggested their mission would be to play a supporting role by providing intelligence, training, transportation, construction and other functions, while leaving the actual guarding of the 2,000-mile line separating the United States and Mexico to the Border Patrol. The National Guard would be a stopgap force until the federal government could hire civilian contractors to take over administrative and support functions from the Border Patrol, freeing more agents to actually hunt for immigrants slipping into the country.

Full article

Last time I checked we were at war. Shouldn't we be using those troops to wrap up operations in Iraq and Afghanistan? Even as a stopgap measure this is a bad idea without a immigration reform bill passed. I'm willing to be that this will actually delay the passing of an immigration reform bill until after the November elections thereby allowing the Republicans to appear strong on immigration issues without pissing off Hispanic voters since the Military will only be "on the border" in a supporting role.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

McCain Speech: Opinion Roundup

McCain Speech Opinion Roundup

I took the liberty of removing all of the speech quotes from the articles as it would make for a very repetetive and needlessly long post. A link to the full transcript of the speech will be provided at the end of the page.

Senator May Have an Eye Toward 2008 as He Reaches Out to Religious Conservatives

Washington Post
By Dan BalzSunday, May 14, 2006; Page A04

LYNCHBURG, Va., May 13 -- Six years after labeling the Rev. Jerry Falwell one of the political "agents of intolerance," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) delivered the commencement address Saturday at Falwell's Liberty University, and vigorously defended his support for the war in Iraq while saying that opponents have a moral duty to challenge the wisdom of a conflict that has exacted a huge toll on the nation.

McCain's presence on the campus here was as remarkable as what he had to tell the graduating class of 2006, given his clashes with religious conservatives during his 2000 campaign for president. His appearance continued a rapprochement that has been underway for months with a critical constituency in the Republican Party as McCain prepares for another possible campaign in 2008.

Falwell's visit last September began a process of reconciliation between the two men. "The senator did what I do quite often: spoke out of his emotions and later felt bad about it," Falwell said of that 2000 incident. But in their meeting, he said, "no apologies were asked for or given."


by John Meacham
Newsweek Columnist

May 13, 2006 | McCain’s 'Argument Among Friends'
At Liberty University, the presidential candidate takes on Jerry Falwell with subtlety and grace. It is commencement season, and one of the things that is beginning is the 2008 presidential race, which is among the reasons John McCain’s schedule of addresses is eclectic: the New School and Columbia in New York, Ohio State, and, most notably, today’s speech at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

Observers hoping for McCain to denounce or chastise Falwell under his own roof, so to speak, will be disappointed, but McCain’s remarks repay careful attention, for in fact he did take Falwell on-subtly, and, I think, ably, for subtlety is important in matters of faith and politics. The subject is so charged, so emotional, and so visceral, that minds are often not changed by direct attack but by engaging people with whom one disagrees in language and with imagery they find comfortable and familiar. At Liberty, McCain spoke of war, but the habit of heart he was urging upon his audience and upon the country is a habit that one could bring to any issue of consequence.

We will hear much more from John McCain and his rivals about God and politics and the world as the months go by. The Liberty speech has set a good and generous tone. Let us hope that sense and spirit survives the storm and strife ahead.


Published: May 14, 2006

LYNCHBURG, Va., May 13 — With the Rev. Jerry Falwell at his side, Senator John McCain offered a spirited defense of the Iraq war on Saturday, telling graduating students at Liberty University that victory there was crucial to world security. But Mr. McCain urged opponents of the war to vigorously "state their opposition" in the interest of critical debate on this increasingly unpopular conflict.

Mr. McCain is also the scheduled speaker at the graduation on Friday at the New School in New York. He intends to deliver the same remarks, his aides said, with the expectation that they may draw a less-than-enthusiastic reaction there, given that school's liberal nature. His planned appearance has caused an uproar among students and faculty because of his conservative positions on issues like Iraq.

Notably, Mr. McCain made no mention of his conservative positions on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

Mr. McCain's speech offered pleas for civility to an increasingly divided nation.

Referring to his own brash political ways as a younger man, he said: "It's a pity there wasn't a blogosphere then. I would have felt much at home in the medium."

It says something about McCain that he will be delivering the same message of respect and the importance of civil discourse to two universities that exist at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Its also interesting that he never apologized to Falwell. And while many have accused McCain of pandering to the religious right it may be that Falwell is trying to ingratiate himself with McCain.

You can read my take on Senator McCain's speech here

And a full transcript of the speech can be found on Senator McCain's website.

Other Opinions

Progressive Gold
John McCain, The Great White Hope

Senator John McCain really does think he can be President. The US media and some ' liberals ' (Joe cough, Lieberman) think so too, and are pushing John MCain as Bush's successor, now they've finally woken up to the fact that Bush is batshit crazy. The Uk media too, largely as a result of the reports of BBC koolaid-sipper Justin Webb....

The Politically Incorrect Report
John McCain Receives Protests Over Nothing

Over the weekend John McCain spoke at Jerry Falwell's liberty University where he was greeted with protests of the war and gay rights. Now i will say i was disappointed that John McCain spoke at Liberty University, my discuss for Jerry Falwell is well known, however it's also a good thing that a guy like John McCain who has very different views on Gay Marriage is allowed to speak at Liberty University....

Shades of Evergreen
Hell is Frozen Over

John McCain holding hands and speaking at the school of Reverend Jerry Falwell, who is, as the Senator once rightly stated, an agent of intolerance.

Look, McCain is running for President. I don't think pandering is defined by having a conversation with people you disagree with....

The Daily Dish
McCain the Healer

The speech is, to give my first impression, a truly inspired piece of work. It's funny at times, sharp, moving, sincere, self-deprecating. What it manages to do is something that, sadly, Bush has been unable to do. It manages to argue forcefully for the moral cause of the war against Islamist terrorism and yet to defend the dignity and value of our strong and impassioned debates about it. It's about reconciliation....

Darfur Cease Fire a Sham so Far

Published: May 14, 2006

MENAWASHEI, Sudan, May 12 — It took three months for Fatouma Moussa to collect enough firewood to justify a trip to sell it in the market town of Shangil Tobayi, half a day's drive by truck from here. It took just a few moments on Thursday for janjaweed militiamen, making a mockery of the new cease-fire, to steal the $40 she had earned on the trip and rape her.

Speaking barely in a whisper, Ms. Moussa, who is 18, gave a spare account of her ordeal.

"We found janjaweed at Amer Jadid," she said, naming a village just a few miles north of her own. "One woman was killed. I was raped."

Officially, the cease-fire in the Darfur region went into effect last Monday.

That was three days after the government and the largest rebel group signed a broad peace agreement, creating hope for an end to the brutal assaults that have left more than 200,000 dead and have driven two million from their homes, a campaign of government-sponsored terror against non-Arab tribes in Darfur that the Bush administration has called genocide.


I was really hoping this peace deal would hold.
To stay current on the continuing Genocide in Darfur please drop by the following two blogs
Sudan Watch and The Coalition for Darfur

On John McCain and America

McCain took a lot of flack for accepting the speaking engagement at Pat Robertson's Liberty University and prior to his speech it was my guess that he was pulling the classic Nixonian "Run to the right early, head back to the center mid election season" stratgey. I was wrong. I have no problems admitting that. His purpose was much higher than that. Allow me to highlight a few high points of his speech:

On the war in Iraq:

"I supported the decision to go to war in Iraq. Many Americans did not. My patriotism and my conscience required me to support it and to engage in the debate over whether and how to fight it. I stand that ground not to chase vainglorious dreams of empire; not for a noxious sense of racial superiority over a subject people; not for cheap oil; -- we could have purchased oil from the former dictator at a price far less expensive than the blood and treasure we’ve paid to secure those resources for the people of that nation; not for the allure of chauvinism, to wreak destruction in the world in order to feel superior to it; not for a foolishly romantic conception of war. I stand that ground because I believed, rightly or wrongly, that my country’s interests and values required it."

"War is an awful business. The lives of the nation’s finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer. Commerce is disrupted, economies damaged. Strategic interests shielded by years of statecraft are endangered as the demands of war and diplomacy conflict. Whether the cause was necessary or not, whether it was just or not, we should all shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us. However just or false the cause, how ever proud and noble the service, it is loss – the loss of friends, the loss of innocent life, the loss of innocence -- that the veteran feels most keenly forever more. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes war."

"Americans should argue about this war. It has cost the lives of nearly 2500 of the best of us. It has taken innocent life. It has imposed an enormous financial burden on our economy. At a minimum, it has complicated our ability to respond to other looming threats. Should we lose this war, our defeat will further destabilize an already volatile and dangerous region, strengthen the threat of terrorism, and unleash furies that will assail us for a very long time. I believe the benefits of success will justify the costs and risks we have incurred. But if an American feels the decision was unwise, then they should state their opposition, and argue for another course. It is your right and your obligation. I respect you for it. I would not respect you if you chose to ignore such an important responsibility. But I ask that you consider the possibility that I, too, am trying to meet my responsibilities, to follow my conscience, to do my duty as best as I can, as God has given me light to see that duty."

On the Crisis in Darfur:

"Take, for example, the awful human catastrophe under way in the Darfur region of the Sudan. If the United States and the West can be criticized for our role in this catastrophe it is because we have waited too long to intervene to protect the multitudes who are suffering, dying because of it."

"Twelve years ago, we turned a blind eye to another genocide, in Rwanda. And when that reign of terror finally, mercifully exhausted itself, with over 800,000 Rwandans slaughtered, Americans, our government, and decent people everywhere in the world were shocked and ashamed of our silence and inaction, for ignoring our values, and the demands of our conscience. In shame and renewed allegiance to our ideals, we swore, not for the first time, “never again.” But never lasted only until the tragedy of Darfur."

"Now, belatedly, we have recovered our moral sense of duty, and are prepared, I hope, to put an end to this genocide. Osama bin Laden and his followers, ready, as always, to sacrifice anything and anyone to their hatred of the West and our ideals, have called on Muslims to rise up against any Westerner who dares intervene to stop the genocide, even though Muslims, hundreds of thousands of Muslims, are its victims. Now that, my friends, is a difference, a cause, worth taking up arms against."

On Dissent, Discourse, and Debate:

"We have our disagreements, we Americans. We contend regularly and enthusiastically over many questions: over the size and purposes of our government; over the social responsibilities we accept in accord with the dictates of our conscience and our faithfulness to the God we pray to; over our role in the world and how to defend our security interests and values in places where they are threatened. These are important questions; worth arguing about. We should contend over them with one another. It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis, especially in times of crisis, we fight among ourselves for the things we believe in. It is not just our right, but our civic and moral obligation."

"Our country doesn’t depend on the heroism of every citizen. But all of us should be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf. We have to love our freedom, not just for the private opportunities it provides, but for the goodness it makes possible. We have to love it as much, even if not as heroically, as the brave Americans who defend us at the risk and often the cost of their lives. We must love it enough to argue about it, and to serve it, in whatever way our abilities permit and our conscience requires, whether it calls us to arms or to altruism or to politics."

"Americans deserve more than tolerance from one another, we deserve each other’s respect, whether we think each other right or wrong in our views, as long as our character and our sincerity merit respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the noisy debates that enliven our politics, a mutual devotion to the sublime idea that this nation was conceived in – that freedom is the inalienable right of mankind, and in accord with the laws of nature and nature’s Creator."

"We have so much more that unites us than divides us. We need only to look to the enemy who now confronts us, and the benighted ideals to which Islamic extremists pledge allegiance -- their disdain for the rights of Man, their contempt for innocent human life -- to appreciate how much unites us."

The Complete Speech

McCain raised alot of points that I firmly believe in.

We have to finish the war in Iraq.

The costs of us pulling out or failing are far to high.

America should help stop the crisis in Darfur.

America was born out of a fight against injustice. As such America should always seek to promote justice. However in the case of genocide, the ultimate injustice, we have a fundamental moral obligation to intervene. I'm not saying we should police the world however I do think we have an obligation to play the part of Superman in extreme circumstances ie Might for Right.

Americans should respect each other views.

The left vs right arguement is needed. However the level of disrespect that has reared its head over the recent course of that arguement is hideous. I contend that the fringes of both sides don't love the real America. They love the idea of their America. The "America" they would inflict upon us. Different ideas and the discourse surrounding them are the very lifeblood of America. And on both the far left and the far right I have not seen much of the "I disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it." attitude that has helped make this country great. Political discourse hones America like a whetstone. It is the meat and potatos that has fueled America's evolution. Additionally calling for the silence, particularly the violent silencing, of voices that differ from yours is truly un-American. The insults and threats that plague the current debate in and about America and particularly within the blogosphere must stop, for if nothing else we are all fellow countrymen seeking the betterment of this great nation. That commonality alone should be enough for us to afford each other respect.

In closing:

I like McCain on a visceral level much in the same way that I have never liked W. I am, if nothing else, an excellent judge of charachter. I am probably one of the very few people that believed beyond any shadow of a doubt that W would invade Iraq if elected. I was proven right. In that same way I also believe that McCain would have made a better president than W and will be a more viable candidate than any the Democrats will field in 2008. I believe that I will be proven right again. W has divided this nation in a way that has not been seen since Viet Nam and by promoting tolerance, steadfastness, and respect at what many consider to be one of the most extreme institutions in America John McCain has made one of the first real steps towards uniting this country.