Monday, June 30, 2008

Life Is Good

Ok I didn't brag when we got a Wii for free (wedding present), And I didn't say a thing when I bought a new 32" LCD HDTV for 300$ (open box deal). But today I can't help it. I just got a 50" rear projection HDTV for free. My in laws upgraded to a 50" Sony LCD HDTV and gave us their old set. This happened to occur one day after The Misses bought Rock Band for the Wii which means we get to play it Texas style.

So far this year I've gotten a wife, a step son, inlaws that I like who upgrade a lot, a free Wii, a new daughter, a new car, and a free giant HDTV. And I have beer. Life is good.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tagged

Over at The Big Stick Progressive Conservative tagged me with a Six Word Memoir tag. Having previously completed one voluntarily I could ignore but I could use the link love. So here goes..

"So much cheese, so little time."

Alternately I could have substituted the words beer, sausage, meat, or toys for the word cheese in that one.

So now for the five people to inflict this tag on. This looks like a job for the reciprocal link blogroll!

I tag:

Internet Ronin from the blog of the same name

Rotus also from a self named blog

Kel from The Osterley times

The Arm at Crinch Pin

Blame Chilly from On the Bricks

Now for the instructions...

1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4 .Tag five more blogs with links

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

SCOTUS Strikes Down DC Handgun Ban

Pretty much as suspected.

From SCOTUSblog:

Answering a 127-year old constitutional question, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have a gun, at least in one’s home. The Court, splitting 5-4, struck down a District of Columbia ban on handgun possession.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.

In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the Court nullified two provisions of the city of Washington’s strict 1976 gun control law: a flat ban on possessing a gun in one’s home, and a requirement that any gun — except one kept at a business — must be unloaded and disassembled or have a trigger lock in place. The Court said it was not passing on a part of the law requiring that guns be licensed. It said that issuing a license to a handgun owner, so the weapon can be used at home, would be a sufficient remedy for the Second Amendment violatrion of denying any access to a handgun.

Well that settles that. DC will have to change it laws to allow licensed handgun ownership for most of its citizens. I'm glad that SCOTUS went on to get rid of the clause requiring that all handguns in the home must either be disassembled or have trigger locks. Ready access is needed for home defense and that clause would have applied even if the gun was stored in a fingerprint accessible gun safe which makes it overly prohibitive. This ruling goes a long way towards settling the militia argument against personal handgun ownership however and in that regard its a landmark decision.

Odds are in addition to strict liscencing requirements on handguns we'll see DC pass a law on the types of handguns one can own effectively making smaller and cheaper hanguns (anything under .38 caliber) illegal to own. And I for one have no problem with that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

SCOTUS Strikes Down Death Penalty for Pedophiles

That had to be an unpleasant ruling to make.

From the AP:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday outlawed executions of people convicted of raping a child.

In a 5-4 vote, the court said the Louisiana law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in such cases violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. ...

The Supreme Court on Wednesday outlawed executions of people convicted of raping a child.

In a 5-4 vote, the court said the Louisiana law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in such cases violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. ...

The Supreme Court banned executions for rape in 1977 in a case in which the victim was an adult woman.

Forty-five states ban the death penalty for any kind of rape, and the other five states allow it for child rapists. Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas allow executions in such cases if the defendant had previously been convicted of raping a child.

The court struggled over how to apply standards laid out in decisions barring executions for the mentally retarded and people younger than 18 when they committed murder. In those cases, the court cited trends in the states away from capital punishment.

On a purely emotional level I'm supportive of the death penalty for child molesters and the death penalty as a whole in theory. I've mentioned before given the fact that we have executed innocent people, that those that can afford better lawyers tend avoid the death penalty more often then those who can't, and that the death penalty is costlier than life in prison I'm for scrapping it altogether. And given national trends and recent SCOTUS rulings on this issue its only a matter of time before that happens.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Iran To Go Nuclear In Six Months?

Its possible says IAEA chief Mohamed ElBarade in a recent interview...

From the Middle East Media Research Institute:

If It Wants To Produce Nuclear Weapons, Iran Would Have To "Leave The NPT, Expel The IAEA Inspectors, And... It Would Need At Least Six Months to One Year"

Mohamed ElBaradei: "If Iran wants to turn to the production of nuclear weapons, it must leave the NPT, expel the IAEA inspectors, and then it would need at least... Considering the number of centrifuges and the quantity of uranium Iran has..."

Interviewer: "How much time would it need?"

ElBaradei: "It would need at least six months to one year. Therefore, Iran will not be able to reach the point where we would wake up one morning to an Iran with a nuclear weapon."

Interviewer: "Excuse me, I would like to clarify this for our viewers. If Iran decides today to expel the IAEA from the country, it will need six months..."

ElBaradei: "Or one year, at least..."

Interviewer:"... to produce [nuclear] weapons?"

ElBaradei: "It would need this period to produce a weapon, and to obtain highly-enriched uranium in sufficient quantities for a single nuclear weapon." [...]

That goes a long way towards explaining Israel's recent war games However ElBaradei warns against a preemptive strike at this point noting that such action would cause Iran's nuclear program to go into high gear with popular support.
ElBaradei: "Much worse, because a military strike would mean, first and foremost, that even if Iran does not produce nuclear weapons today, it would implement a so-called 'crash course,' or an accelerated plan to produce a nuclear weapon, with the agreement and blessing of all the Iranians - even the Iranians living in the West."
Israel however is interested in seeking to prevent even the testing of a nuclear weapon. Which definitely adds a sense of urgency to the situation. As a result we and our Middle Eastern allies are preparing for Iran's response to such an attack...

Possible scenarios include:

A terrorist attack on the Saudi oil port of Ras Tanura, an export point for oil bound for Asia. Saudi and American officials have in the past disrupted Al Qaeda plots on the facility, such as an attack on the Abqaiq oil processing plant near Dammam, Saudi Arabia, that killed two guards.

A naval assault on the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf. Iran still has warships equipped with Russian-designed Shkval torpedoes that it could fire at American vessels. Another possible attack would be suicide boat sorties similar to the one that bombed the USS Cole.

The commencement of a new round in the war between Hezbollah and Israel, with Hezbollah firing its Shihab missiles into Haifa and possibly the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv.

Hezbollah or Iranian intelligence terrorist operations on soft targets, such as shopping malls and community centers, in third countries and possibly even America.
A renewed effort to stir an uprising in Iraq through Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army or the special groups controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Its becoming apparent that our ten year time line for Iran having nuclear weapon capabilities is getting shorter. We need to seriously ramp up international diplomacy and sanctions against Iran if we are to succeed in preventing military actions against Iran.

With the presidential elections less than five months away this should be a major issue to consider when choosing a candidate because should such an attack be carried out on Iran the war in Iraq could suddenly take a sharp turn for the worse and gas prices will very likely skyrocket possibly sending the US economy into a deep recession. McCain's promise to continue our current policy towards Iran gives me cause for concern. After all when the last time you settled a disagreement with someone by not talking to them?

I swear if I could cherry pick from McCain's and Obama's positions I could build a perfect candidate.

Thanks to Center Face for linking to this post.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Woman as McCain's Veep?

Over at the Politico David Kuhn takes a look at the few options McCain has for a female VP...

Sarah Palin

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may be nationally unknown, but in her state she is nothing short of a political phenomenon.

Palin, 44, would add youth to the GOP ticket. As governor she has shown a willingness to veto some of the state’s large capital projects, no small plus for fiscal conservatives. But it’s her personal biography, which excites social conservatives, and reformist background that might most appeal to McCain.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina has an up-by-her-own-bootstraps success story, having worked her way from a start as a young secretary straight through the glass ceiling to become Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive from 1999 to 2005. She presently serves as the chair of the organization tasked by the Republican National Committee with preparing the party’s crucial get-out-the-vote operation. It’s no symbolic post, but a crucial position for a party facing an uphill presidential contest.

Along with eBay.com CEO Meg Whitman — who has also been brought up occasionally as a long-shot GOP vice presidential prospect — Fiorina is one of the most prominent female executives of the last decade.

Kay Bailey Hutchison

Last week Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, the longest-tenured female Republican senator, joined McCain for a fundraising sprint in the Lone Star state. Hutchison, who until recently headed the Senate Republican Conference, now serves as chairwoman of the Republican Policy Committee, two top Beltway party posts.
I don't think there are enough angry Clinton supporters that are willing to vote for McCain to pick a female VP. It'd be a pretty crappy consolation prize. Additionally there is the question of what these three will bring to the table. After all Texas is already a GOP stronghold, Alaska has only a very small number of votes in the electoral college, and HP became more profitable after Fiorina was fired. As noted in the article it would however get McCain massive attention from the press and additionally would do a bit towards improving the GOPs image. Those two things could also be achieved if McCain picked Bobby Jindal however. Odds are McCain is going to pick whoever can bring the most voters to the ballot boxes in a battleground state.

Of those whose names are curretly being bandied about as potential VP candidates Charlie Crist fits that bill the best.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zealot or Nut?

I'm just going to totally bypass the separation of church and state issues in the article.

From the AP:

Ohio board votes to ax teacher accused of branding


COLUMBUS, Ohio - The school board of a small central Ohio community votedunanimously Friday to fire a teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs despite staff complaints and using a device to burn the image of a cross on students' arms.
...
Freshwater used a science tool known as a high-frequency generator to burn images of a cross on students' arms in December, the report said.
Its really easy to write the guy off as some sort of religious whackjob unless you pay particular attention to this line:
Freshwater told investigators he simply was trying to demonstrate the device on several students and described the images as an "X," not a cross.
In other words it never actually occurred to him that burning stuff into his students skin was a bad thing. My verdict? Just a nut. Although odds are in his mind he's in the clear due to the golden rule.
Its always disturbing to see the loophole in that teaching spring to life.

McCain/RNC Raising More Money than Obama/DNC

There has been a lot of fuss lately over Obama opting out the publicly financed campaign system and some of it is justified given the current lack of anti-Obama 527s. However the most likely reason for his decision is this...

From the LA Times' Top of the Ticket

McCain may lag in money, but RNC outraises the DNC by 5 times

Led by chairman Mike Duncan, the Republican National Committee ended May with 13 times more money in the bank than its Democratic counterpart, and raised five times as much money in the same time frame.

As The Times' campaign finance guru Dan Morain points out, the sums are significant as presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain squares off against the far more richly-funded Sen. Barack Obama for the last 136 days of the general election campaign.

Based on the numbers so far, the Republican Party appears poised to act as the financial equalizer in the fall campaign. The RNC disclosed that it ended May with $53.5 million in the bank, compared to $3.9 million for the Democratic National Committee, which is headed by Howard Dean.

So had Obama opted into the publicly financed campaign system he would have hamstrung himself financially. So while there is much to be said for keeping your word there is something to be said for realizing the facts of the situation and adjusting your course accordingly. Literature is rife with characters that stick to their word even when its to their detriment. They are usually referred to as tragic heroes and generally speaking make for a better read than a president.

h/t to TMV


Thanks to Memeorandum and The Undercover Centrist for linking to this post.

Friday, June 20, 2008

TGIF

No theme I just love this song

Space Lord by Monster Magnet

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obama to Opt Out of Public Financing

Its a sticky situation...

From ABC's Political Punch:

In a web video to supporters "the people who built this movement from the bottom up" -- Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, announced this morning that he will not enter into the public financing system, despite a previous pledge to do so.

"We've made the decision not to participate in the public financing system for the general election," Obama says in the video, blaming it on the need to combat Republicans, saying "we face opponents who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we’ve already seen that he’s not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations."
On the one hand Obama has managed to comply with the intent of public campaign financing by collecting tons of small donations. On the other hand he did say that he would use the public campaign finance system in the general election. It is however important to note that there is a certain amount of "he said she said " when it comes to what each campaign is claiming the other said. What we have here is the monetary equivalent of a disarmament agreement. If one side or the other refuses to disarm themselves of party or 527 money the whole deal is off. What I want to know is who refused to forgo one or the other. However given the fact that the meeting mentioned in article took place without any neutral observers we may never know the facts. However given the fact that McCain has been a champion of camapaign finance reform while Obama has complied with the spirit of publicly financed campaigns I'm going to write this off as a non-issue until something can be proven one way or the other.

Thanks to Memeorandum and Divided We Stand for linking to this post.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Huckabee Agrees With Me?

If only on the course the GOP should take during this presidential election.

From the AFP:

Former US presidential contender Mike Huckabee urged his fellow Republicans on Wednesday not to denigrate Democrat Barack Obama, saying they should celebrate the historic moment of a black candidate.

"Republicans will make a fundamental if not fatal mistake if they seek to win the election by demonizing " Huckabee told a news conference on a visit to Tokyo.

Its good to see that there is someone in the GOP establishment who can see the forest for the trees. I said it earlier this week but I'll say it again if the GOP uses the tactics of the past rather than battling Obama on the field of ideas they risk becoming a permanent minority party. All Obama has to do is give them just enough rope for them to hang themselves.

Thanks to Memeorandum for linking to this post.

So Sue Me

Recently the AP Newswire sent cease and desist letters to several lower tier bloggers threatening legal action because the bloggers had their quoted articles. They have since backed away from that and have instead insisted on payment from anyone that quotes more than four words from one of their articles. Its total BS. I'm not going to pay the AP one dime. Ever.

What the AP fails to understand is that given the way search engines work the more bloggers link to their posts the more traffic their site receives thereby increasing their ad revenues. They are in essence shooting themselves in the foot. Additionally I don't think they can win such a case in court. It wasn't that long ago that the AP had a script set up on their site that displayed links to blogs that cited their stories. Hence by turning around and suing those that they encouraged to link to their material they would in effect be guilty of attempting to entrap those same bloggers.

I may not be a lawyer but I know BS when I see it.

Thanks to Memeorandum, Locomotive Breath , and ShortWoman for linking to this post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Obama Giving the GOP a Golden Opportunity?

Having given this election a lot of thought it occurs to me that Obama presents the GOP with golden opportunity. A chance to "rebrand" themselves. Additionally having read Obama's policies I can say that they are light on the specifics. Obama is essentially selling Americans a dream. If the GOP could pressure enough of its high profile members to tackle Obama respectfully on the issues rather than using the tactics that have worked in the past like fear mongering, exploiting racial polarization, attack ads, and whisper campaigns they might be able to beat him and in the process shed many of the negatives associated with the GOP, win back many independents, and become a party that is defined by what they are for rather than a part that is defined by what they are against.

However given the that maxim "If it ain't broken don't fix it." is part of the core of conservative thought I don't see the GOP doing anything differently anytime soon. The fact1 that the Clinton campaign used many of the same tactics in the primaries and lost I'm betting that Obama is counting on more of the same from the GOP and is expecting the same results in the general election.

Thanks to The Big Stick for linking to this post.

1: Changed the word "given" to "the fact" because I'm picky sometimes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Other Other Beginning of the End

The British launched the first satellite in the Skynet network.

With the launch of a new communications satellite, the British military has completed a highly advanced network that will allow robotic military units to be controlled at long range. Sound vaguely familiar? They actually named the thing Skynet. When the T-1000s come knocking, keep an eye out for the "Made in UK" sticker.

Skynet 5 is the latest iteration of a global communications system deployed by the British Armed Forces. The final satellite in the system was launched this week, and will allow high-bandwidth telecommunications between British forces located anywhere in the world. In addition to voice communications, it will allow data transfer and the remote control of robot airplanes, one of which is called "The Reaper."

How long before humanity is crushed under the metal heels of a robotic army? That depends on which happens first the network becoming sentient or some power hungry madman using it enslave mankind. The first scenario can easily be avoided by making Windows Vista its operating system. As for second scenario sometimes its just best to let sleeping dogs lie.

And now a word from our sponsor:



Hat Tip to OTB

Thanks to Memeorandum for linking to this post.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Six Cent Solution or The Facts About ANWR


Recently their have been a lot of calls from Republican politicians to open up ANWR for drilling in order to lower gas prices. Having done my homework on this issue I believe that those that are doing so are either ignorant of the facts or have an ulterior motive that has almost nothing to do with lowering gas prices.

ANWR is estimated to be able to produce two million barrels of oil a day. Since America uses about 20 million barrels a day thats a pretty impressive amount. The problem is that that the Alaskan pipeline can only transport 2.1 million barrels a day and its already moving an average of 650k barrels a day which means its remaining capacity for carrying oil produced from drilling at ANWR would be 1,450,000 barrels on average. Thats still a good bit. However the additional problem is that since crude oil's price is set by a world wide market that currently consumes roughly 90 million barrels a day. So even if all of ANWR's oil is used only by Americans (say through a clause in the drilling rights lease) then it would only offset an equivalent amount of imported oil (a good thing) however it would only represent a 1.6 percent increase in global supply thereby resulting in an equal price drop. With gas currently at four dollars a gallon that would only equal a 6.4 cent per gallon decrease in prices at best1.

Don't get me wrong. The one real benefit of drilling in ANWR would be significantly decreasing the amount of foreign oil we consume thereby decreasing the amount of money we pay to oil producing nations that support terrorism. That alone makes it an idea worth discussing. But any politician that tells you that drilling in ANWR is a real solution to lowering gas prices either doesn't have their facts straight or are beholden to certain campaign contributers. (You can find out which here)

*Update*
The DOE thinks that drilling ANWR would have even less of an effect than I predicted. Net savings? Seventy five cents a barrel.

Thanks to The Moderate Voice, EconoPundit, SUV Mama, The Glittering Eye, Newshoggers, Right Wing News, The Q and O Blog, WeOpEd, and Memeorandum for linking to this post.

1: Sentence edited for clarity

Blogger Food Drive Wrap Up *Updated*

The Blogger Food Drive has officially ended. I'm pleased to say that we did better than the pessimist in me predicted. While we didn't do as well as the optimist in me hoped. We did well enough that I'll do it again next year. We raised enough to provide seventy pounds of food and I'll cover the fees Paypal took out and throw in a liitle extra so that we get a nice round number. The final receipt will be posted this Friday however the blogroll of supporters is already on the sidebar.


***Update***
Below are the promised receipts and photos. I actually bought all the one pound bags of beans in WalMart and had to buy the more expensive two pound bags at HEB in order to meet the required goal. I also threw in five extra pounds to make it an even eighty pounds.



Bean Drive
Yes, it was a lot of trouble to go through for a bad visual pun.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

World Bank to Save the Tigers?

Isn't this a bit outside of their mission?

From Reuters UK:

A World Bank report warned that "if current trends persist, tigers are likely to be the first species of large predator to vanish in historic times."

"Just as with many other challenges of sustainability, such as climate change, pandemic disease, or poverty, the crisis facing tigers overwhelms local capabilities and it is one that transcends local borders," Zoellick said.

"This is a problem that cannot be handled by individual nations alone, it requires an alliance of strong local commitment backed by deep international support," he added.

Zoellick said the World Bank would convene a series of discussions with countries, conservationists and the private sector to mobilize funding for tiger conservation, and launch studies on how better to protect the cats.

The World Bank chief said there were examples of where tigers had been brought back from the brink of extinction, such as in Russia and Nepal, but added that saving the world tiger population would not be an easy task.

"All those concerned may not agree but this does not mean we should stand on the sidelines and do nothing," he said.

Personally this seems like an effort outside of the World Banks expertise. Don't get me wrong, seeing tigers become extinct would be a travesty. But is the world bank the best organization to spearhead the charge for their recovery? I'd rather see the World Bank give a grant to the World Wildlife Fund rather than try to do it themselves. After all the WWF has a lot of experience in this area. I do however their efforts pay off. After all a world with tigers is cooler than a world without.

Ron Paul to Hold Protest Convention

Just when you thought he was gone...

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Ron Paul plans his own convention

Maverick GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has booked an arena in Minneapolis for a "mini-convention" that could steal some of John McCain's thunder just days before he accepts the Republican nomination.

A Paul campaign aide said the Texas congressman hopes to pack about 11,000 supporters into the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 2, which coincides with the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in neighboring St. Paul.

Paul, 72, will announce details for the rally Thursday at the start of the Texas Republican Convention in Houston.

The campaign hopes the daylong event will "send a message to the Republican Party," Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton tells the Tribune-Review.

"There is a growing surge of people out there just craving" for a return "to traditional American government, limited government that places personal liberty first and places an emphasis on personal responsibility and essentially gets out of the way after that," Benton said.
Personally I hope he gets the number of attendees he's seeking. The GOP has strayed so far from its roots that its needs a wake up call or two and if nothing else some of the ideas Paul's campaign exposed have real value. Hopefully he'll be able to keep enough of supporters politically engaged so that the message will outlive the messenger.

Monday, June 09, 2008

McCain Still Pushing For Gas Tax Holiday

You'd think that considering how well that worked for Obama's last opponent he'd have dropped the subject by now.

From CNN:

McCain resurrects call for gas tax holiday

WASHINGTON (CNN) – With gas prices reaching a national average of four dollars a gallon — a record high — John McCain is planning to resurrect his call for a national gas tax holiday, which became a staple of his stump speech in late April and early May.

A McCain aide told CNN's Dana Bash on Monday that the Arizona senator planned to plug the gas tax holiday in public statements throughout the day as a message to voters that he understands the plight of working families in a tough economy.

Before a fundraiser in Richmond, Virginia on Monday, McCain mentioned the gas tax holiday in remarks to a smaller event for about 40 high-dollar donors. "That was derided by Sen. Obama and others as a gimmick," McCain said, but added that working people and truckers would appreciate it.

"I don't pretend that it's an answer to our energy problems," he said.

I think Senator McCain needs a crash course in economics. Since the tax money is used to fund infrastructure projects decreasing the amount of spending on them will cost jobs and further erode our transportation system. That is unless one plans on engaging in deficit spending by borrowing money (probably from China) to replace the lost tax revenues. If Senator McCain were playing this smart he'd have his advisers come up with a plan to strengthen the American dollar thereby making gas more affordable. Sure it isn't going to be as sound byte worthy as "twenty extra gallons in every tank" but it would shore up his apparent economic weaknesses which may do more for him in the long run.

Thanks to Center Face for linking to this post.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Today I turn a number lower than forty. And what I want for my birthday are a pair of size ten and a half Heelys. Which they don't make. Bummer.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Things I Have Learned

If you are going to roll a cart containing nearly fifty one pound bag of beans through a crowded WalMart expect a lot of jokes at your expense.

Friday, June 06, 2008

McCain Waffling on Warrantless Wiretaps?

The other day I stated,"I will vote for whichever candidate I believe will restore the balance of power away from "the imperial presidency"." Today the NY Times reports that when it comes to warrantless wiretaps McCain's position is the same as W's...

WASHINGTON — A top adviser to Senator John McCain says Mr. McCain believes that President Bush’s program of wiretapping without warrants was lawful, a position that appears to bring him into closer alignment with the sweeping theories of executive authority pushed by the Bush administration legal team.

In a letter posted online by National Review this week, the adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said Mr. McCain believed that the Constitution gave Mr. Bush the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and e-mail without warrants, despite a 1978 federal statute that required court oversight of surveillance.

Mr. McCain believes that “neither the administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the A.C.L.U. and trial lawyers, understand were constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin wrote.

And if Mr. McCain is elected president, Mr. Holtz-Eakin added, he would do everything he could to prevent terrorist attacks, “including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution.”

Although a spokesman for Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, denied that the senator’s views on surveillance and executive power had shifted, legal specialists said the letter contrasted with statements Mr. McCain previously made about the limits of presidential power.

In an interview about his views on the limits of executive power with The Boston Globe six months ago, Mr. McCain strongly suggested that if he became the next commander in chief, he would consider himself obligated to obey a statute restricting what he did in national security matters.

To me this issue says a lot about what a candidate's attitudes are in regards to the powers the office president holds. The devil is in the details on this however. The wiretapping program is currently legal and has to be authorized by Congress every six months and as I said previously:
Critics fear that the new law is too broadly worded, an end to privacy, or is likely to be abused. I'd argue that privacy is frequently not guaranteed when communicating with citizens of other countries. Additionally in an age when terrorists are frequently ahead of the curve in using the internet to their advantage there are scenarios when time could be of the utmost import. However I in no way, shape, or form trust any administration permanently with the powers this law grants. But as long as this law requires approval every six months and the law is continually refined in the process I'll concede that it may be a necessary tool in order to prevent terrorist acts on U.S. soil. But once it ceases to serve that purpose or is used for another end I'll be among the first to advocate scrapping it.

TGIF

Just a theme, just a theme....

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I'm Certifiably

Progressive?

Over at The Big Stick Progressive Conservative has pronounced me A Board Certified Progressive in the Teddy Roosevelt sense of the word. Which is actually how I think of myself when it comes to politics. In fact I even said as much in my bio over at Poligazette. I used to refer to myself as progressive until Democrats started borrowing the term.Over the years I've been labeled a liberal, called a conservative, and listed amongst libertarians. So kudos to PC for getting it right.

Since one good turn deserves another I think its time I hand ouit an award that I've been sitting on
for a while..DWSUWF's Pissant Provocateur award aka The Pissy.

First the recipients:

Progressive Conservative
at The Big Stick

Kevin Sullivan
at The Independent Liberal

Kranky Kritter at Centerfield

Sideways Mencken from the blog of the same name (Kvetch all you want but its supposed to be all about you, remember?)

Now the qualifications that led to the award:

"1. The award recipients are pissants – i.e., they're not the biggest bloggers in the 'sphere, they're not Kos or Hewitt or Sullivan, but they make up in attitude what they lack in size/readership.

2. They are provocateurs – i.e., they provoke other people into thinking about and responding to subjects they might not otherwise think about and respond to.

3. By virtue of the first two traits, they advance the intrinsic value of a government that is closely, evenly divided between partisans, so no one party has outright control of the outcomes, recognizing that (a) divided government honors the check-and-balance intent of the founding fathers; and (b) divided government tends to work better; reference the Reagan and Clinton years versus the Carter and Bush #43 years."

and finally the rules:

The Rules of the Partisan Pissant Provocateur Award:

  1. Copy and link to this post (meaning these rules and the Award icon).
  2. Reflect on five bloggers who cause you to gnash your teeth when reading their posts, but who you nevertheless feel compelled to return to and read time and again. Write a short sincere (or not) paragraph about each one.
  3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
  4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
  5. Put the award icon on your site.
  6. Did I mention you should link this post?
Congratulations!

A Quick Thought on The Democratic Primaries

I think its a real pity that the dreams of the equal rights movement had to go head to head with with the dreams of the civil rights movement in the same primary. Neither deserved to lose.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Few Thoughts on the Nominees

I've made no secret that I wanted to see Obama and McCain become the nominees of their parties. In fact I donated equally to both of their campaigns to help ensure that happened. I did this largely because I both of them have qualities that are admirable and I want a presidential race that is about the issues rather than one that is about slinging mud. Although had Hillary not been a Clinton (and ran a cleaner campaign) I could have just as easily supported her instead of Obama. But I just couldn't see where swapping control of this country from one family to another again would be in the country's best interest.

I've given this race a lot of thought. And while I'm prone to vote in favor divided government on principle I must admit I also really like what having Obama as president would say about America. However I also live in a very red state. So unless McCain screws the pooch Texas will be there for him come election day. I therefore could vote for Obama knowing that my vote would be wasted. But again I strongly believe in the principle of divided government and my voting record shows that. I've voted against the majority party in every single presidential election since I've been old enough to vote.

So I've worked out a compromise with myself. Given the power grabs by the current administration I will vote for whichever candidate I believe will restore the balance of power away from "the imperial presidency". And if neither McCain or Obama are willing to do that then I'm voting for Bob Barr in protest.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Obamanee

With Obama winning Montana and not losing too badly in South Dakota it looks like he wrapped the nomination up. Of course that is provided that the super delegates that talked to the AP don't change their minds...

AP tally: Obama effectively clinches nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House.

Campaigning on an insistent call for change, Obama outlasted former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a historic race that sparked record turnout in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial divisions within the party.

The AP tally was based on public commitments from delegates as well as more than a dozen private commitments. It also included a minimum number of delegates Obama was guaranteed even if he lost the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.

While there has been no concession speech from Clinton as of yet she did go on record today as saying she'd take the VP Slot if it was offered. So is Obama the Nominee? Not officially but I'd bet a paycheck on it. John McCain's campaign sent out an email tonight declaring Obama the winner:

My Friends,

Tonight, we can say with confidence the primary season is over, and the general election campaign has begun.

Each American faces a decision this election and the choice between my candidacy and Senator Obama's could not be more clear. This is a change election. But the choice is between the right change and the wrong change; between going forward and going backward.
Looks like the longest primary season in history is finally over. Cue the music...


The Passing of a Legend

Once in a blue moon an artist emerges and becomes a dot on the time line of their chosen medium. Today one of those innovators, Bo Diddley, passed away....

From the Houston Chronicle:

Bo Diddley was a musical innovator who helped forge the sound and contributed to the style of rock 'n' roll. He sported a trademark fedora, played an iconic square-shaped guitar and from it he extracted a deep, rusty reverb and a peculiar playing style that influenced generations of players.

Diddley died Monday of heart failure at his home in Archer, Fla.; he was 79. He'd been in ill health for much of the past year, having suffered a stroke and a heart attack in 2007.

...

"He was by far the most underrated of any '50s star,'' says producer Phil Spector. "You listen to those (reissued box sets) and the rhythmic invention, the consistent high quality of imagination and performance, the excellence of the writing, the power of the vocals - nobody else ever did it better or had a deeper, more penetrating influence.''
...
Who Do You Love? is among his most covered songs, a touchstone for an entire generation of '60s rockers looking to put their own spin in the blues. It has been covered on live and studio recordings by the Rolling Stones, the Band, the Doors, Townes Van Zandt, the Jesus and Mary Chain, George Thorogood and Cross Canadian Ragweed.
...

He was born Ellas Otha Bates on Dec. 30, 1928, in McComb, Miss. He was raised in Chicago by his mother's cousin and took her last name, going by Ellas McDaniel. In Chicago he played music in church and on street corners. His handle was either the handiwork of childhood classmates, as he once stated in an interview, or flipped from the diddley bow, a homemade instrument of African descent shaped roughly like a guitar with a single string and played with some implement in a slide style.

Just like the name, he was known for making up his own way of playing the guitar, and also for creating his own instruments.

His first single was the Bo Diddley/I'm a Man, released in 1955. His music during the late-'50s and '60s - on the Chess and Checkers labels - defied easy categorization. There existed obvious elements of blues and gospel, but it's resistance to easy categorization made it something other.

He made a handful of landmark albums in that same era including Bo Diddley, Go Bo Diddley and Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger. Toward the end of the '60s, he also made some fiery blues recordings with Muddy Waters and Little Walter.

By the 1970s, performers were influenced by those influenced by Diddley, rather than by the guitarist himself.

He enjoyed a late-career rediscovery through a novelty appearance in Nike's Bo Knows campaign featuring athlete Bo Jackson.

It created a fresh awareness of Diddley, who was victim to poor management during his hot years. While he made his most influential recordings, Diddley was paid flat fees and didn't see royalties for his most important work.

His last recording was the A Man Amongst Men, released in 1997 and later nominated for a Grammy. He earned a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys in 1998.

Diddley was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

If you don't understand what all of the fuss is about the long and short of it is this; He brought rhythm to the forefront making Rock and Roll and we know possible. Additionally his rhythms became one of the cornerstones upon which Rock was built. So while by todays standards his early music may seem quaint previously there had been nothing like it under the sun. I hope that Bo Diddley receives in the afterlife the rewards he was so long denied in this life.

P.S. Mr Diddley while you're there could you put in a good word for Skip James?

From YouTube:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Clinton Campaign Capitulating?


Obama needs only forty two delegates to wrap up the nomination. Odds are tomorrow he'll pick up fifteen more from the South Dakota primary. In response to both the recent Michigan / Florida Decision by the Dems and the math it looks like the Clinton campaign is gearing down. Bill Clinton announced today that he will no longer be stumping for his wife, the campaign has asked that all volunteers submit their outstanding expense receipts for reimbursement, and finally they are dropping staff members. Sounds like the beginning of the end doesn't it?

Additionally the Telegraph reported yesterday that Clinton has been offered the Secretary of Health as a consolation prize/olive branch:

The former First Lady would get the chance to pilot Mr Obama’s reforms of the American healthcare system if she agrees to clear the path to his nomination as Democratic presidential candidate.

Senior figures in the Obama camp have told Democrat colleagues that the offer to Mrs Clinton of a cabinet post as health secretary or to steer new legislation through the Senate will be a central element of their peace overtures to the New York senator.

Here's the lay of the land as I see it. If Clinton opts to continue all of the way to the convention she loses. She'll come across as being a divider rather than a uniter and shoots herself in the foot.
Converesly if she accepts the compromise, bows out, and actively stumps for Obama she beefs up her resume and is in an excellent position to either run against McCain in 2012 or run when Obama's finished. Yes there is an age issue but she's younger than McCain and if Obama bombs she'll have that whole I told you so/Experience thing going for her. I'm guessing that she steps aside. I may not be a fan of Hillary Clinton but I do give her high marks for intelligence and shrewdness. If I'm wrong I'm wrong about her decision then it will prove that all of those negative assertions that Andrew Sullivan has been making about her are in fact 100% correct. And if thats the case then she's the last person we need running this country (excluding Pat Robertson of course).

Credit Where Credit is Due

As you may recall I used to have a Schmap widget at the top of my sidebar that showed who won which state during the Dem primaries. I took it down once it became apparent that the race would be decided by the super delegates. A couple of days later I got an email from Emma at Schmap asking why I had taken the widget down. I explained and added that if they ever came up with a widget that the tracked polling data of the two nominees I'd install it on my sidebar.

A month passed....

I received another email from Emma stating that they had such a widget and that they'd be happy to customize a widget for me. I asked for red, white, and blue one and not only did they design it within a few days they even created a mockup of my site to show me what it would look like.

Kudos to Schmap for having a good product and proactive customer service. I hereby officially award Schmap the Crapomatic Seal of Approval. Remember folks, if its not Crapomatic its just crap.

Now if only someone would design a Crapomatic Seal of Approval for me.