Thursday, September 27, 2007

Has Rush Limbaugh finally gone too far?

Unfortunately, I think not...

From Media Matters

During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers." He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, "Mike from Chicago," who said he "used to be military," and "believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq." Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as "Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington," that "[t]here's a lot" that people who favor U.S. withdrawal "don't understand" and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, " 'Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.' ... 'Save the -- keeps the troops safe' or whatever," adding, "[I]t's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people." "Mike" from Olympia replied, "No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media." Limbaugh interjected, "The phony soldiers." The caller, who had earlier said, "I am a serving American military, in the Army," agreed, replying, "The phony soldiers."
He's going to come away from this free and clear. He left enough weasel/wiggle room in his statement to say that he meant that liberal groups are either hiring soldiers to voice dissatisfaction with the war or are using people dressed as soldiers (which is illegal) to promote their antiwar agenda. Given the fact that during the previous call he claimed to have the authority to decide who is and isn't a real Republican I have no doubt that he also believes he has the jurisdiction to judge the whether or not one's honorable discharge is valid or not. If he truly believes that then apparently the Viagra is going to the wrong head.

I'm certain that Mr. Limbaugh will survive this scrape at the cost of a few listeners and live to bloviate another day. However if he continues to push the envelope at the current rate he has been he may very well end up with in a slot on satellite radio some day. That of course would require
his sponsors to start pulling their ads due to public outcry ala Imus. While no such campaign has been successful so far, one can always hope.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ron Paul Video Contest

Ron Paul supporter known as Treg is ponying up four grand to shell out as prize money for the best Ron Paul promotional video submitted by Nov. 5 2007. Odds are Treg will discover much in the same way Heinz did that when you run a contest for commercials that the quality of content varies wildly and may not always be appropriate. However this is just another shining example of the innovation and dedication of Ron Paul's supporters. If any of the front runners were capable of drumming up this level of interest from their supporters the election would be all over save for the ballot counting.

Now what do you want to bet that the winners donate at least a portion of their prize money to Ron Paul?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

GOP Not Participating in Minority Debates is Pure Folly

I'm not one to buy into or promote stereotypes which is why when the front running GOP candidates pulled a no show at the NAACP debates I didn't post about it. Additionally when the same candidates blew off the debates hosted by Univision I didn't post about that either. (They also all blew off a conservative Christian forum in Florida around the same time.) However now that they have all opted out of the PBS debates at a historically Black college we officially have the beginning of a pattern. While many may attribute the worst possible motives to this behaviour I see other more likely and more logical reasons.

Number one being that by and large the GOP has written black voters off much in the same way the Dems had previously written off the South. Meaning that the numbers have shown that spending time and effort elsewhere turns out a greater number of voters or wins more districts. However in regards to the Hispanic debates I see another motive altogether. Simply put the odds of having to answer really tough questions about immigration are about one hundred percent. In a debate like that the odds of you having a better answer than the guy after you (who had more time to think) go down drastically. Given the strong anti-illegal immigrant sentiment amongst certain subsections of the GOP base actively engaging Hispanics or seeming sympathetic will invariably swing their votes to another candidate. Additionally given the fact that Hispanics are not a solid voting block there is no guarantee of a decent return for ones efforts. So by not engaging Hispanics the GOP front runners avoid losing votes from the base.

The problem with this "its all about the numbers" strategy is that it puts short term individual gains ahead of long term party growth. Couple that strategy with the fact the GOP leadership has in the past exploited racial strife in order to turn out white voters and the Dems have free reign to paint the Republicans as the little tent party. Now I'm no marketing expert but it seems to me that allowing your competition to define your public image isn't the best way to be successful. In order for the GOP to be viable in the long term it must take steps to engage minority voters even if it costs them votes from members of the base. Because given current demographic trends those members of the base that have been lifting them up will soon turn into an anchor that drags them even further down.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Privacy Vs Security

Over at Donklephant Justin Gardner has had some rather interesting posts regarding privacy abuses under current US Anti-Terrorism laws. I'm practically Libertarian about privacy. Largely I think that stems from growing up in the middle of nowhere with so much privacy that we could have sun bathed naked on the front lawn and nobody would have known coupled with the fact that I'm an only child. I'm just used to more privacy than most Americans. On that note it was largely The Patriot Act and the ease with which it could be abused that started me down the path to become a blogger. Since the Patriot Act it's only gotten worse. Take for example this article from the WaPo:

The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to assess the security threat posed by all travelers entering the country. Officials say the records, which are analyzed by the department’s Automated Targeting System, help border officials distinguish potential terrorists from innocent people entering the country.

But new details about the information being retained suggest that the government is monitoring the personal habits of travelers more closely than it has previously acknowledged. The details were learned when a group of activists requested copies of official records on their own travel. Those records included a description of a book on marijuana that one of them carried and small flashlights bearing the symbol of a marijuana leaf....

The DHS database generally includes "passenger name record" (PNR) information, as well as notes taken during secondary screenings of travelers. PNR data -- often provided to airlines and other companies when reservations are made -- routinely include names, addresses and credit-card information, as well as telephone and e-mail contact details, itineraries, hotel and rental car reservations, and even the type of bed requested in a hotel.

The records the Identity Project obtained confirmed that the government is receiving data directly from commercial reservation systems, such as Galileo and Sabre, but also showed that the data, in some cases, are more detailed than the information to which the airlines have access.
Now combine that with this short list of abuses of current anti-terrorism law:
  • FBI apologizes to lawyer held in Madrid bombings: Link
  • Homeland Security saves America by busting a toy store owner for legally selling a Rubik’s Cube knockoff: Link
  • FBI invokes Patriot Act for Criminal Copyright Infringement: Link
  • Though warned in 2001 to use this power sparingly, FBI agents issued more than 47,000 National Security Letters in 2005, more than half of which targeted Americans: Link
  • Drug-tunnel bust aided by controversial provision of USA Patriot Act: Link
  • FBI Improperly Used Patriot Act to Gain Information on Citizens, Justice Department Says: Link
  • Search Records Requests under Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional: Link
  • Police invoked the Patriot Act when surreptitiously entering and searching a home or office without notifying the owner 108 times during a 22-month period, according to a one-page summary released by the Justice Department: Link
  • Police Log Confirms FBI Role In Arrests of anti-War Protesters: Link
  • Patriot Act smackdown: Librarians 1, FBI 0: Link
  • FBI Papers Indicate Intelligence Violations: Link
  • After 9/11: The War on Immigrants: Link
  • Patriot Act report documents civil rights complaints:
  • ACLU, Muslims sue FBI over mosque surveillance: Link
  • Patriot Act used to round up “eco-terrorists.”: Link
Now stop and think of everything you've ever said via phone, IM, and email that you'd prefer to remain just between you and its intended recipient. Because if we don't draw the line soon, given the current march of technological innovation, eventually every argument with a girlfriend, every reaction to news of the death of a loved one, every remembrance of "how good last night was" will be on file somewhere. Now what bureaucrat do you trust with that?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Now Appearing At

Pete Abel has invited me to contribute at Central Sanity. I of course said yes before Pete had a chance to come to his senses/sober up/get back on his meds/or any combination thereof. Since Central Sanity is one of my daily reads needless to say I'm pleased as punch to be posting there.

Ron Paul Girl

Ron Paul Girl - Click here for another funny movie.

It'd be better if it kept to the Obama Girl formula. Then we could have some sort blogosphere "Candidate Girl" web primary. Hmmm...

h/t The Daily Dish

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thompson Ties Giulianni

From the AJC:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After officially declaring his candidacy, U.S. Senator Fred Thompson moves ahead of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. One-third (32%) of those who say they will vote in a Republican primary or caucus will vote for Thompson while 28 percent will vote for Giuliani. Much further back is John McCain, who continues his downward slide with 11 percent saying they would vote for the Arizona Senator, and 9 percent who say they would vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

On the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Clinton continues to build on her large lead. Just under half (46%) of those who would vote in a Democratic primary or caucus would vote for the former First Lady while one-quarter (25%) would vote for Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Former vice president candidate and North Carolina Senator John Edwards is further back with 14 percent saying they would vote for him. No other candidate is in double digits.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 2,372 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive(R) between September 6 and 14, 2007. This survey included 769 adults who expect to vote in a Democratic primary or caucus and 504 adults who expect to vote in a Republican primary or caucus. Like all polls conducted well before an election, this should not be read as a prediction. Rather, it is a snap shot of the presidential "horse race", at an early stage in the race.

A pretty impressive start for Fred Thompson. However one has to wonder that given his lack of a stances on the issues of today how much of this initial burst of support will remain once his positions become clear. It seems to me that much of his support comes from the followers that believe he represents their point of view. I'm willing to bet that after the first two debate or two we see Giulliani eke out a ten percent lead. Any takers?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jackson Vs Obama

Former civil rights leader and self appointed spokesman for all Black Americans Jesse Jackson recently accused presidential hopeful of "acting like he's white" in regards to the case of the Jena Six, stating that "If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena."

I think the fact fact that Obama is not acting like JJ is actually one of his strengths. Jackson could never stop being an activist long enough to be a serious political candidate. He has always tended to focus on incidents rather than issues which ultimately worked both to his detriment and marginalization. Obama, love him or hate him, on the other hand has focused on the bigger picture and avoided swooping in uninvited for photo ops and sound bytes. In fact I posit that part of Obama's success has been the fact that he has focused on the forest rather than the trees.

As for the "acting white " comment its as ridiculous as it is offensive. As neither of Obama's parents are American blacks and his family isn't lacking in much financially its unfair to measure him by the same stick one would use on oh say Tavis Smiley. While I have no doubt that he has experienced discrimination repeatedly I strongly doubt that he was immersed in Black culture from birth and that (and his parents good fortune) separates him from your average Black American. Additionally JJ's comment reflects an attitude that I've seen used amongst black coworkers as a form of peer pressure to enforce conformity and given the difference in the levels of performance I've seen between the speaker and the target it always seemed to me to mean one thing, "Stop that, you're making me look bad."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Public Campaign Financing

One of my all time favorite blog posts by me is An Open Letter to America which is about the merits of publicly financed campaign. I've always felt that it had really good mix of righteous indignation, passion, common sense, and wasn't too badly written. I bring this up now because as The Nation points out there are currently two bills on The Hill that if passed would make public campaign financing law.

From the Nation:

With the nation's first billion dollar presidential campaign, pay-to-play scandals occurring at breakneck speed (think Jack Abramoff and Norman Hsu), results in elections that are flawed by suppressed votes and machine error (and a War that Stays the Course despite the millions who went to the polls in November 2006 with a demand to end it), the public has had it with politicians who don't listen to them, care about them, or respond to their concerns. This climate of discontent has led to a rethinking among champions of public financing and clean elections about how to channel their efforts into a larger, more holistic pro-democracy movement. The key question for these reformers is this: how do we fashion a movement that taps into voters' frustrations and captures the imagination for a cleaner, more democratic way?

Certainly there is good momentum in this direction. In Congress – where, for example, the entire Alaskan delegation is either under indictment or soon will be and the pressure for constant fundraising is unsustainable – there is a convergence of democratic values and ideals and more pragmatic considerations wrought by fundraising fatigue. ("The result of this nonsense is that almost one-third of a senator's time is spent fundraising," former Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings wrote in a Washington Post op-ed lat year.) There are two excellent bills with impressive co-sponsorship, the Durbin-Specter Fair Elections Now Act (S 1285) and in the House, the Clean Money, Clean Elections Act of 2007 (HR 1614). Both bills would allow candidates who show a qualifying level of support and opt-out of further private contributions to receive public funding. According to Senator Durbin, "Support is increasing for the idea of public financing in fair elections: seventy-four percent of all voters support public financing… 80 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Republicans, and 78 percent of Independents."

I support publicly financed campaigns because ideally they'll allow anyone who has drive and quality ideas to run for office without having to erode their principles in order to get elected. So please take some time today to think of someone that you've met that deserves to be in office, read/skim HR 1614, and then consider bugging your congresscritter about it.

h/t to TMV

Another One Bites the Dust

First Chuck Hagel declares he's not running for reelection (or anything else), then former Senator Lincoln Chafee bails on the GOP, and now its Congressman Jim Randstad.

From the Star Tribune

Citing fatigue and political isolation, U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad triggered a scramble by potential successors with a surprise announcement Monday that he is retiring from Congress next year after nine terms.

Ramstad, 61, had barely finished announcing his decision when at least five potential candidates declared an interest in going after his seat while other potential hopefuls were mentioned.

And even though the Third District in the Twin Cities' western suburbs has been supremely safe for him, Ramstad said there's no guarantee it will remain so for a Republican successor.

He said he has grown tired from the relentless physical grind of service in Washington and weary of being a lonely centrist in an increasingly polarized legislative body.

Looks like the GOP has begun to hemorrhage moderate politicians in addition to moderate voters. Should this trend continue it'll mean that the GOP will remain the minority party for a long time to come. If the Republican party doesn't reengage the middle over the next few years they'll have to wait for the Dems to screw up as big as they did and then we'll end up with a much more radical Grand Old Party running things. Hopefully they'll pull out of this nosedive in time to bring back divided government sometime around 2012.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Iraq War Was About Oil?

Alan Greenspan thinks so...

From the UK Times

AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil.

In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican whose 18-year tenure as head of the US Federal Reserve was widely admired, will also deliver a stinging critique of President George W Bush’s economic policies.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle East. more


Greenspan later clarified his statement in an interview with the WaPo:

Greenspan, who was the country's top voice on monetary policy at the time Bush decided to go to war in Iraq, has refrained from extensive public comment on it until now, but he made the striking comment in a new memoir out today that "the Iraq War is largely about oil." In the interview, he clarified that sentence in his 531-page book, saying that while securing global oil supplies was "not the administration's motive," he had presented the White House with the case for why removing Hussein was important for the global economy.

Well its a much more plausible theory than the far left's theory that we were trying to grab all the oil in Iraq. Greenspan is at least a highly reputable source. Even if one disputes the veracity of Greenspan's statement one cannot deny that oil security is of import. However in my opinion if its that important then we should be making a bigger push towards energy independence.

Now if we could only take a break from arguing about global warming long enough to actually work together to achieve this goal in a rational manner we'd all be better off.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Does Anbar Need Reevaluation?

First there's this..

From the BBC:

Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, 37, led what was known as the "Anbar Awakening", an alliance of Sunni Arab tribes that rose up against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

US President George Bush met and endorsed the sheikh last week in Iraq.

The White House, which has held up the movement in Anbar province as an example for the rest of Iraq, condemned his assassination as "an outrage".
However that meeting may have actually been causal in his assassination. Over at The American Prospect Marc Lynch writes:
While Americans celebrate their cordial relations with certain tribal shaykhs, the insurgency's leaders publicly fumed that the fruits of their victory might be snatched by undeserving interlopers. The widely disseminated pictures of President Bush shaking hands with Sattar Abu Risha, the epitome of such illegitimate bon vivantes, were likely his death warrant.
Additionally he goes on to point out that while here Abdul Sattar Abu Rish claims to have told W "that his people had achieved in four months what the American military could not achieve in four years." and that Abu Rish is not alone in speaking or seeing the situation in Anbar this way:
In their literature and public rhetoric, the Sunni insurgency has already defeated the American occupation -- which is why the Americans stopped fighting them and came to them for help in fighting al-Qaeda. One discovers virtually nothing in this literature of the American conceit that our forces wore them out or forced them to come to the table.
If Lynch is speaking truly then what we've been seeing in Anbar is a short term gain that will ultimately prove to have a high long term cost. That is, of course, provided that the US military leaders aren't aware of that. So ultimately the real questions to ask are "Who is using who?" and "Who is spinning the real situation to their people?". I'm hoping that the answers to those questions are simply "Us" and "Them" but the simple fact of the matter is, that in order to find out, all we can do is wait and to quote Tom Petty, "The waiting is the hardest part.".

h/t to Memeorandum

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Petraeus, The Surge, and The Choices

Petraeus' report essentially confirms what independent journalist/blogger Michael J Totten saw in his recent trip to Iraq. In some places the surge is working and in some it isn't. We can hem and haw all we want about the surge but the simple fact of the matter is that there isn't going to be a significant decrease in troop levels until after W is out of office. Even then the draw down of forces is in my opinion likely only to be enough to prevent genocide in Iraq which means we'll still have a significant number of troops there for years to come.

With those being the most likely options we as voters have a limited number of choices either one crosses their fingers and prays the surge works, one can demand the immediate withdraw of all forces knowing that it'll take two years to accomplish won't be done while W is in office and knowing that we'll probably have to retake Iraq's only port to do it since the Brit's pulled out of there and that a genocide may follow, or one could continue to support the war despite the fact that its been badly run save for what progress the surge has brought.

As for me, I'm crossing my fingers. Odds are though if we can't get it right this time around we never will.

The Issue - The Blog Newspaper

If you haven't already checked it out The Issue bills itself as the blog newspaper. Essentially the site pulls key posts from many major blogs (...and me. I don't know why. Maybe they were drunk when they added me or there could be pity involved...) and organizes them in a simple and attractive manner similar to the format of an actual newspaper. Additionally I have noticed that the stories it carries are usually different than those found on Memeorandum so its well worth checking out. So you may want to add them to your rounds when looking for items worth posting about.

They Like Me!

Yesterday it was Central Sanity and today its apparently my turn to win the coveted Blog of the Day award. I would like to thank the BOTDA Academy, my Mom, The Misses and most importantly those of you that take time out of your day to read my opinions. Thanks!

9/11 Year 6: A Plan of Action

Last year I posted 9/11 Reflections and Rage and here it is a year later and ya know hat? I'm still pissed for roughly the same reasons. However I know that not much is going to change until we have a new POTUS. Its sucks, but that's what its going to take. However, the Senate and the Congress have changed hands and one thing I mentioned last year hasn't changed. The 9/11 memorial at the WTC site still hasn't been built.

So this year rather than go on a great big rant and/or analysis on the failings of various elected representatives I propose this; We, meaning you and I and few of your friends and some of their friends etc etc etc, light a fire under the asses of our elected representatives to get it built. All we have to do is is pester our political "leaders" endlessly by sending them a short simple message endlessly.

You can find their email addresses here.


Dear Congresscritter (fill in name),

It's been six years since 9/11 and we still haven't managed to build a monument to those whose lives were taken on that day. I respectfully request that you do whatever you can to expedite the building of the World Trade Center Memorial. Thank you for your time and attention.


Your name
Your address

Then drop a line to a few of your friends encouraging them to do the same and email a few of their friends.

If we as a country can't gather the collective will to permanently honor those that died six years ago today then this country is truly in sorry shape. Maybe it's just the optimist in me but somehow I am certain that we have what it takes to at least come together and get this much done.

x-posted at Donklephant, Political Grind and Blog Critics

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Blogger Resource

Are you covering the/a candidate this election season? You may want to check out Wonkosphere to see what the buzz is. It's sort of like Memeorandum save that it only covers the buzz on candidates and the most popular articles of the day about them. It's an excellent site save for the fact that they link to me. But don't hold that against them after all "track hundreds of blogs and web sites per day ... Our patented ... text analysis technology identifies posts that matter, not just posts that are popular. If you're tracking individual candidates, our unique analysis will show you their share of buzz in conservative and liberal blogs, highlight the most representative posts, and tell you whether the tone of discussion about your candidate is trending up or down."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Shock and Ewww

Looks like has finally gone off the deep end with its new full page ad.

From The Swamp
Petraeus 'Betray Us' ad is group's 'shock and awe'

The ad's text is an indictment of Petraeus in which they do everything but call the general a serial liar:

General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war
with the facts. In 2004, just before the election, he said
there was “tangible progress” in Iraq and that “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward.” And last week Petraeus, the architect of the escalation of troops in Iraq, said, “We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress.”

Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed. Yet the General claims a reduction in violence. That’s because, according to the New York Times, the Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. For example, deaths by car bombs don’t count. The Washington Post reported that assassinations only count if you’re shot in the back of the head — not the front. According to the Associated
Press, there have been more civilian deaths and more American soldier deaths in the past three months than in any other summer we’ve been there. We’ll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased. But we won’t hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed.

Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows: Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war. We may hear of a plan to withdraw a few thousand American troops. But we won’t hear what Americans are desperate to hear: a timetable for withdrawing all our troops. General Petraeus has actually said American troops will need to stay in Iraq for as long as ten years.

Today, before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us.

The Standard boils it down like this:

Let's be clear: is suggesting that General Petraeus has 'betrayed' his country. This is disgusting. To attack as a traitor an American general commanding forces in war because his 'on the ground' experience does not align with's political objectives is utterly shameful. It shows contempt for America's military leadership, as well as for the troops who have confidence in him, as our fellow soldiers in Iraq certainly do.

General Petraeus has served this country for over 35 years with honor, distinction, and integrity. And this is not just about General Petraeus. After all, if General Petraeus is "cooking the books," then the entire military chain of command in Baghdad, and all the staff, military and civilian, who have been working with General Petraeus are complicit, since Petraeus did not write his report in isolation. They are all, apparently, 'betray[ing] us.'

MoveOn has been moving further and further left for the past few years but now they have finally dove head first across the line that separates activists from hacks. I'm curious how many (if any) elected representatives will distance themselves from MoveOn after this. If the Dems have any plans on maintaining power over the next three years they had better start shuffling away as soon as the elections are over. Otherwise they'll prove themselves to be as partisan and as useful as the party they deposed.

Ron Paul Wins Maryland Straw Poll

If Ron Paul can could win states the way he wins straw polls he'd be a shoo in.

From the WaPO:

Ron Paul Takes the Ribbon in State Fair's GOP Straw Poll

A curious thing happened this year at the Maryland Republican Party booth at the State Fair: A GOP presidential straw poll was won by Ron Paul, the idiosyncratic congressman from Texas who is a fierce critic of the Iraq war.

Perhaps just as curious was the Maryland GOP's decision to trumpet the results in a news release last week with the headline: "Maryland GOP Presidential Straw Poll Is a Big Success; Grassroots Candidate Wins Surprise Upset."

According to the release, Paul received 263 votes, and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (for whom Republican former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is toiling) was second with 220 votes. (Ehrlich received three write-in votes.) Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson-- who had yet to declare his candidacy -- finished third with 188 votes. No other candidate cracked 100 votes. more
I doubt that Ron Paul will get the nod from the GOP however I'm certain that campaign managers will be studying Ron Paul's tactics for years to come. Additionally he's doing a better job of promoting Libertarian ideas than the Libertarian party is in my humble opinion. Finally he's doing an excellent job getting disheartened citizens engaged/re-engaged in the political process. And if the GOP takes what he's been able to seriously they'll discover that some of the old principles the party was founded upon are new again.

For the three latter points Ron Paul is hereby awarded the Crapomatic Institute's highly prestigious "Way to Go" Award. Said award will be mailed to his campaign HQ in a week along with its prize; a fabulous federal debt note bearing the likeness of Abraham Lincoln or a digital equivalent of equal value. Congratulations Dr. Paul.


Mr. Dyre42,

Thank you very much for your donation of $5.00 to the Ron Paul 2008 Presidential Campaign.

Your donation will allow us to expand and grow our campaign.

We depend on donors like you to help us spread the message of freedom, peace and prosperity through Ron Paul’s candidacy.

Thanks for being a part of the campaign!

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Is China quietly dumping US Treasuries?

From the Telegraph:

Is China quietly dumping US Treasuries?

A sharp drop in foreign holdings of US Treasury bonds over the last five weeks has raised concerns that China is quietly withdrawing its funds from the United States, leaving the dollar increasingly vulnerable.

Data released by the New York Federal Reserve shows that foreign central banks have cut their stash of US Treasuries by $48bn since late July, with falls of $32bn in the last two weeks alone.

"This comes as a big surprise and it is definitely worrying," said Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas.

"We won't know if China is behind this until the Treasury releases its TIC data in November, but what it does show is that world central banks are in a hurry to get out of the US. They don't seem to be switching into other currencies, so it is possible they are moving into gold instead. Gold is now gaining momentum across all currencies and has broken through resistance at 500 euros," he said.

While the greenback has been resilient over recent weeks - even regaining something of a 'safe-haven' role as banks scrambled to buy the currency to cover dollar debts - most experts believe that America's $850bn current account deficit will eventually cause the dollar to resume its relentless slide.

If China is dumping bonds the real question in my mind is why? I've spoken before on the dangerous possibilities our gargantuan debt to China leaves us open to. If the TIC data shows that China is in fact dumping bonds you'll suddenly see our "leaders" kick into high gear to change our countries financial habits in order to avoid a total economic poop storm.

h/t to Obsidian Wings

Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act

From the AP:

Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act

A federal judge struck down a key part of the USA Patriot Act on Thursday in a ruling that defended the need for judicial oversight of laws and bashed Congress for passing a law that makes possible "far-reaching invasions of liberty."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero immediately stayed the effect of his ruling, allowing the government time to appeal. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said: "We are reviewing the decision and considering our options at this time."

The ruling handed the American Civil Liberties Union a major victory in its challenge of the post-Sept. 11 law that gave broader investigative powers to law enforcement.

The ACLU had challenged the law on behalf of an Internet service provider, complaining that the law allowed the FBI to demand records without the kind of court supervision required for other government searches. Under the law, investigators can issue so-called national security letters to entities like Internet service providers and phone companies and demand customers' phone and Internet records.

In his ruling, Marrero said much more was at stake than questions about the national security letters.

He said Congress, in the original USA Patriot Act and less so in a 2005 revision, had essentially tried to legislate how the judiciary must review challenges to the law. If done to other bills, they ultimately could all "be styled to make the validation of the law foolproof."

I'm no fan of the patriot act. I read it shortly after it was passed and helped research a legal brief on it (I was dating a law student.) and the whole thing is one big slippery slope in my opinion and

I've voiced my opposition to my elected representatives numerous times. Fortunately one of the true beauties of America is that when bad legislation is passed its citizens have a manner of recourse to overturn it. Its a slooow process but it works. Hopefully this part of the Patriot act will be off to do a final farewell performance with Justice John Roberts and the Supremes.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thompson Finally Announces

From the NY Times

Thompson Declares His Candidacy for President

DES MOINES, Sept. 5 — After months of false starts, staff shake-ups, and questions about the seriousness of his intention to run for president, Fred Thompson rolled out his presidential candidacy this evening with a two-pronged, guerrilla-style entry into the race that sought to take the spotlight from his Republican opponents as they squared off in a debate.

Choosing “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” to declare “I’m running for president of the United States,” Mr. Thompson said, “I don’t think people are going to say, ‘That guy would make a very good president but he just didn’t get in soon enough.’ ”

Mr. Thompson’s announcement, which has been expected for months, was released to reporters about an hour before the other Republican candidates took part in a Fox News-sponsored debate in the early primary state of New Hampshire. But as if to poke fun at his opponents, he ran an ad, titled “Debate,” that appeared directly before the Republican candidates took their places to face live cameras in a much more traditional political ritual.

In a dark suit with the backdrop of an American flag, Mr. Thompson said in the advertisement: “On the next president’s watch, our country will make decisions that will affect our lives and our families far into the future. We can’t allow ourselves to become a weaker, less prosperous and more divided nation.”

He then directed viewers to his Web site,, where he will give details of a platform and his reasons for entering the race.

In choosing to announce his candidacy on the couch next to the jovial Jay Leno during the taping of “The Tonight Show” this evening, Mr. Thompson was following the example of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, who chose that venue to declare his candidacy for governor of California.

And so Thompson's hat is finally in the ring. Now all he has to do is come up with a platform and prove that he has what it really takes to lead the country despite having less legislative experience than Barack Obama.

Craig Flip Flops on Resigning

From the AP:

Sen. Larry Craig is reconsidering his decision to resign after his arrest in a Minnesota airport sex sting and may still fight for his Senate seat, his spokesman said Tuesday evening.

"It's not such a foregone conclusion anymore, that the only thing he could do was resign," Sidney Smith, Craig's spokesman in Idaho's capital, told The Associated Press.

"We're still preparing as if Senator Craig will resign Sept. 30, but the outcome of the legal case in Minnesota and the ethics investigation will have an impact on whether we're able to stay in the fight — and stay in the Senate," Smith said.

Craig, a Republican who has represented Idaho in Congress for 27 years, announced Saturday that he intends to resign from the Senate on Sept. 30. But since then, he's hired a prominent lawyer to investigate the possibility of reversing his plea, his spokesman said.

Craig was a no-show Tuesday as Congress reconvened after a summer break and it wasn't clear whether he'll return at all since deciding to resign over his guilty plea in a sex sting this summer at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport...

I held out about posting about this till now mainly because the circumstances that led up to Craig's arrest really weren't conviction worthy. Strange and questionable but not criminal. However his decision to plead guilty followed by his apparent decision to recant his resignation do show the beginnings of a pattern of poor judgment. I say this primarily because given the facts of the arrest a third year law student probably could have gotten the charges dropped. Additionally declaring one's resignation and then recanting is exactly the kind of hypocrisy that the public would expect from someone who holds themselves up as a "family values" political leader who then goes and solicits sex in a public lavatory.

However it also occurs to me that had the GOP not already been rocked by sexual and other scandals as of late then Craig might not have been so quick to plead guilty . After all in the court of public opinion there are no dismissals.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

RIP: The Beer Hunter

From Reason Magazine:

Michael Jackson, who died last week at the age of 65, made a career of sharing his enthusiasm for the world's myriad beer styles with people who were accustomed to the bland, indistinguishable lagers that dominate the U.S. market. Eventually enough of them shared his enthusiasm to support a microbrew revolution that has brought real diversity to bars, restaurants, and grocery stores throughout the country.

Farewell oh mighty Beer Hunter. Your service to your country is duly noted and much appreciated. I raise my glass in your honor.

Obama Vs Hillary - The Musical

Funny though, I would have thought that Clinton's singing voice would have been shriller somehow.

H/T The Daily Dish

Of Note

The Glittering Eye picks up where I left off on the recent hacking of Pentagon.

Kevin Sullivan has an excellent post about what we realistically can and can't do about Iran.

Michael J Totten has had an article published about a group of Kurdish exiles planning to overthrow the Iranian government.

Finally at Midtopia Sean Aqui is Back in the Saddle again.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Chinese military hacked into Pentagon

From the Financial Times:

The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American ­officials.

The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack.

Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army.

One senior US official said the Pentagon had pinpointed the exact origins of the attack. Another person familiar with the event said there was a “very high level of confidence...trending towards total certainty” that the PLA was responsible. The defence ministry in Beijing declined to comment on Monday.


Sami Saydjari, chief executive of Cyber Defense Agency and a former Pentagon cyber expert, warns of the potential for terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, to attack the financial, telecoms, and power sectors.

To underscore the threat, he notes that no cyber red team – hackers enlisted to attack systems to help identify weaknesses – has ever failed to meet its objective.

Gregory Garcia, the assistant secretary for cyber security at the department of Homeland Security, says the number of cyber incidents reported to the department’s computer readiness team so far this year is 35,000. That compares to 4,100 for the whole of 2005.

I've spoken on this before but we really need to get our ducks in a row when it comes to national network security. I know why the problem hasn't been fixed and thats cost and lack of political will. Nothing will be done until after something major happens. Unless the govt currently has some sort of network security Manhattan Project going on odds its up to the private sector to provide a solution. Needless to say a company that can provide a significantly more secure OS or an adaptive and/or reactive firewall stands to make billions. Ultimately its just a matter of time before one or the other happens.

Additionally its too easy to paint China as the villain here. Anyone capable of cracking our network could have just as easily cracked theirs and launched their attack from a compromised Chinese govt computer. Without inside confirmation that the hacking was by the PLA we'll never be one hundred percent certain. (However we have to treat the attack as though the information downloaded is in the hands of China.) We have in essence moved into an IT cold war in which an individual or group can be as much of a threat to our networks, financial sector, or infrastructure as any state. Now isn't that a comforting thought?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Spiders Create Texas Sized Web

From the AP:
Spiders create giant web

Entomologists are debating the origin and rarity of a sprawling spider web that blankets several trees, shrubs and the ground along a 200-yard stretch of trail in a North Texas park.

Officials at Lake Tawakoni State Park say the massive mosquito trap is a big attraction for some visitors, while others won't go anywhere near it.

"At first, it was so white it looked like fairyland," said Donna Garde, superintendent of the park about 45 miles east of Dallas. "Now it's filled with so many mosquitoes that it's turned a little brown. There are times you can literally hear the screech of millions of mosquitoes caught in those webs."

Spider experts say the web may have been constructed by social cobweb spiders, which work together, or could be the result of a mass dispersal in which the arachnids spin webs to spread out from one another. more

Or maybe it was created by one Texas sized spider....

North American Banana Spider discovered and photographed by The Misses by the garden shed this weekend.