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Monday, October 31, 2005

There was quite a bit of infighting in the Republican party over the Miers nomination. Will the choice of Samuel Alito assuage that?
President Bush, stung by the collapse of his previous choice, nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito on Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify his conservative allies. Ready-to-rumble Democrats warned that Alito may be an extremist who would curb abortion rights.

This bit of editorializing by the AP in a news story isn't quite accurate. Bush isn't (or shouldn't be) "mollifying" his conservative allies; he is (or ought to be) keeping his campaign promise of a judge in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. Democrats may not like the idea the Bush is keeping this promise...
So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.

...but that's to be expected. And Alito is known for being polite, but don't expect that to mollify the folks who didn't like Bolton for his temperament.

But it looks like conservatives, far from splitting from the party as many a Democrat was hoping, are sticking to principles.
Abortion emerged as a potential fault line. Democrats pointed to Alito's rulings that restricted a woman's right to abortion. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Republican who supports abortion rights, said that Alito's views on the hot-button issue "will be among one of the first items Judge Alito and I will discuss."

In a political twist, Republicans who helped sink Miers' nomination rallied to Alito's side.

Of course...
A leading Democrat who backed Miers led the attack against Alito.

...but that's to be expected.
The fight to nominate Alito, a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1990, is one step in Bush's political recovery plan as he tries to regain his footing after a cascade of troubles _ including the indictment of the vice president's chief of staff _ rocked his presidency.

Some folks (including a commenter at Stones Cry Out) had suggested that this "rocking" would make getting this kind of nominee through, including the possible use of the "nuclear option", politically impossible. I have a feeling, though, that Bush's presidency hasn't been "rocked" nearly as badly as the AP or Democrats think.

No, the Republican party is as tight as ever, even if the President occasionally needs a reminder of who played a huge part in getting him to the dance.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger News Network and Comments welcome.)

Remember; indictments aren't convictions. Based on what TIME reporter Matt Cooper is saying, these indictments may amount to little or nothing.
On Aug. 23, I had a tuna sandwich and gave a deposition in Abrams' Washington office about the conversation. The Wilson part that really interested Fitzgerald was tiny, as I told TIME readers. Basically, I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife having been involved in sending him to Niger. Libby responded with words to the effect of, "Yeah, I've heard that too."
I was surprised last week that the Libby indictment even mentioned me. But apparently his recollection of the conversation differed from mine in a way that led the prosecutor to think he was lying. As for me, I still have no idea if Libby or anyone else has committed a crime. I only know that if there is a Libby trial, I'll testify truthfully and completely, as I did before the grand jury.

It'll be interesting to hear what the major difference is, why Fitzgerald thinks Libby is lying and not Cooper, and even if there really is a substantial lie in there at all from either party. Unfortunately, it's sounding like the trial might be labelled "classified", so we may not get these answers.

Friday, October 28, 2005

When the UN accuses you of corruption, that's pretty sad.
THE controversial MP George Galloway and one of Scotland's leading companies were last night facing the threat of prosecution after they were named in a devastating United Nations report into the Iraq oil-for-food scandal.

The report identified Mr Galloway as a political beneficiary of the oil-for-food programme and concluded that thousands of pounds from companies involved in oil deals with Saddam Hussein's regime were paid into the Mariam Appeal which Mr Galloway chaired and which funded his anti-sanctions campaigning.

It accused the Glasgow-based engineering company Weir Group of paying $4.5 million in kickbacks to Saddam's regime in return for contracts, and of refusing to co-operate with the inquiry.

Galloway was the face and the voice of the anti-war movement in the UK. Keep that in mind as this charge is prosecuted. Perhaps he had a good reason for not wanting Hussein removed from power.

Actor George Takei, who played Sulu on the original "Star Trek", has come out as a homosexual. That's his business, but I noted an interesting quote from him in the article.
"The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay," he said. "The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young."

Indeed. Consider what you believe now to be "unthinkable", and realize that, the fewer taboos and standards we have as a culture, what is "unthinkable" now will very likely be the norm in the near future. Deconstructionism is taking us there.

Dubya's poll numbers may be down, but that's not translating into any help to Democrats. Looks like most of the country is sick of the whole government in general.
A just-released political survey by George Washington University contains bad news for Democrats and Republicans because it lays bare a public seemingly disenfranchised with both major parties.

The Battleground poll – unique for its inclusion of top Democrat and Republican pollsters – shows a definite slide in support for President Bush and the GOP. But the survey contains little good news for Democrats as a viable alternative.
While a Republican retreat in the polls normally means good news for Democrats, there is little evidence Americans are enamored with the opposition party, survey results indicate. On a host of issues – Iraq, homeland security, the economy – Democrats don't fare much better, the poll indicated.

"There is a real void right now in terms of what the alternative is. And right now, Democrats suffer from the fact that Americans are disillusioned and distrustful of government in general," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told Voice Of America. "They tend to be feeling more negative about the Republicans, but not particularly positive about the Democrats."

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - LARGE SCALE MODELS OF THE AT AT STAR WARS WALKER [#21 on Yahoo! Search]

All the rumors have Patrick Fitzgerald announcing something about the Plame investigation today, so I thought I'd get this in now.

Considerettes Prediction: None of the charges will relate to outing an undercover CIA operative.

I say this because Valerie Plame had been driving to and from the CIA's Langley, VA headquarters for over 5 years before this "outing", and thus wasn't undercover by any means at the time of the Robert Novak column. No undercover operative would do that. Besides, if that really was an issue, Novak would have been one of the targets for participating in the "outing" even more publicly. News article, opinion columns and blog posts keep referring to her as "undercover" when she was nothing of the sort, but it does make for better news copy or pundit fodder.

What charges we do get will relate to the investigation itself; things like perjury or obstruction of justice. Those actions, while they are serious and should be prosecuted to the fullest, and while certainly many a pundit will point to them as "proof" that the "outing" was a crime, will not speak at all to the "outing" itself.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

UPDATE: Right so far.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bryan Preston at Junkyard Blog has a post up on the admission that some documents were forged by France to dupe the Americans and British into thinking it was evidence for going to war, in hope that when the forgery was revealed it would halt it in its tracks. He asks a pointed question with regards to the Plame affair.
In his anonymous whisper campaign to Nick Kristoff and in his own op-ed of July 2003, Wilson pulled a switcheroo between these documents and the infamous 16 words in the President's SOTU address of January 2003, claiming that his trip to Niger had debunked those 16 words. But the 16 words were not based on those documents, but rather on a British finding that they stand by to this day regarding Iraqi interest in purchasing yellowcake uranium from Niger.

Is it possible that Wilson pulled the switcheroo for the same reason that Martino created the documents in the first place--that he had paymasters who wanted him to? This next section is highly speculative, but intriguing. If the French could pay an Italian to make the documents to undermine the case for war before hostilities ensued, and we have the forger's confession that they did, why couldn't the French pay an American to use them to smear the Bush administration once hostilities had been underway for a few months?

Don't expect that this information will be brought out by Fitzgerald's investigation.
It may be asking too much of Fitzgerald to include anything relating to the origin of those fake Nigerian documents in his investigation--the story linked above is a little over a year old. Had you heard of it? Has the press made a big deal of it, and have the Democrats treated that story in anything resembling good faith?

The answer, of course, is "No".

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Supreme Court. While I was on the fence about this, I have to say that I'm quite relieved that she's done this. Given speeches and remarks she'd made in the past (but post-conversion to Christianity, by the way), she didn't sound very much like Scalia and Thomas, as the President promised. Let's hope the next nominee fulfills that promise.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Democrat National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged party members to “restrain their joy” during nationwide celebrations of the 2,000th American fatality of the Iraq war, “out of respect for the untold thousands who have been killed by our troops.”

“These American military dead are not just names on a list,” Mr. Dean said. “Behind many of those names we can feel the loss of the grieving families of Arab freedom fighters who mourn their dearly-departed insurgents.”

Yeah, it's part of a satire piece from ScrappleFace, but just wait for the big brouhaha Democrats make over the loss of 2000 soldiers in the liberation of 25 million who now have their own Constitution. It will, of course, be couched as a memorial of sorts, but what will remain unspoken is that without those 2000 brave men and women, Saddam would still be in power, people would be dying in Iraq at a rate higher than during the war, and self-government would still be a pipe dream.

UPDATE: Cox & Forkum have a great cartoon on this topic.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Iraqi Constitution referendum results are in, and it passed by a wide margin; 78 to 21 percent. Two provinces were expected to vote "No" in big numbers, and one was too close to call before the referendum.
Two provinces had already been confirmed to have voted heavily "No" -- 96 percent in the insurgent stronghold of Anbar and 81 percent in Saddam Hussein's home region of Salahaddin.

But the final results announced on Tuesday showed that a third, "swing," province of Nineveh, had voted by only 55 percent against the constitution, short of a two-thirds majority.

Way to go, Jonah!

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is urging Democrats to sign a petition to get Republicans to return Tom DeLay's "dirty money". Of course, there's been no court case yet, so whether it's dirty is yet to be seen.

However, this money has already been declared "dirty".
Former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance, a North Carolina Democrat, was sentenced to four years in prison on Oct. 12 for conspiring to divert taxpayer money to his friends and family through the charitable organization he founded in 1985.

But almost two weeks later, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee still has not returned the thousands of dollars in "dirty money" that Ballance contributed to the DCCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee wants everyone to know.

The NRCC said based on press reports, it appears that the DCCC has no plans to return the $29,500 that Ballance contributed to its coffers.

And Ballance isn't the DCCC's only "dirty money" contributor. The NRCC noted that third-quarter Federal Election Commission reports show the DCCC has not yet returned $5,000 donated by a Chicago attorney who pled guilty to attempted extortion.

Just last month, the DCCC said it would return contributions from donors who plead guilty but it isn't happening, the NRCC said.

The Democrats of Oz. Pay no attention to the piles of dirty money behind the curtain.

In 1955, Rosa Parks decided that she preferred to sit right where she was sitting. That one simple act became the spark that exposed the shame that was personal and institutional racism in our country, and started us on the path to setting that straight.

Rosa Parks died last night at the age of 92. Her contribution to the American conscience should not be forgotten. She was rewarded by being able to see the results of the stand she took by sitting.

We have come a very long way since that day in 1955. Racism is not dead, to be sure, but it has become marginalized. We will never be completely free of hate or fear, and as such we will never be completely free of racism; it's part of the sinful nature of mankind. Only God can remove that from individuals. What helps, though, is being able to call it what it is when it rears its head.

What doesn't help is when the term "racism" is used to label things that have nothing to do with it. This cheapens the term and removes from it any relevant meaning and force. It also reverses the proper marginalization of those who are true racists. "If they call that 'racist', then what I think isn't all that bad."

We can honor Rosa Parks by combating and marginalizing true racism. She took a stand, and so can we.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Homespun Bloggers Radio, Program #10, released!

Homespun Bloggers Radio hits 2 milestones; our 10th show and our first since starting podcasting. We have some of our regular voices, some old voices returning, and a new voice, not to mention music from the band of one of our own Homespun Bloggers.
  • Tom Carroll, of MuD&PHuD and founder of Homespun Bloggers, starts off with a welcome and some thanks to folks for listening and contributing.
  • Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblogium brings the London Report; a tale of two Davids, and the latest from Open Europe. Also appearing on HBR is his band, "Growing Old Disgracefully".
  • Yours truly talks about my "discovery" of podcasting, and mentions some of my favorites (as listed below).
  • Derek Gilbert, of the blog Weapon of Mass Distraction and the podcast Peering Into Darkness, reads between the lines in regards to avian flu preparations.
  • Amelia Latella, granddaughter of famed commentator Emily Latella, speaks out on the California ban on phishing.

You now have 3 ways to listen to HBR:
  1. Streaming audio (click here or on the HBR button on the left for the current shows, or click here for some of the recent previous shows)
  2. Download the show (click here )
  3. and now the Podcast (click here or on the "Podcast" graphic on the left, copy the URL into your podcast software)

Homespun Bloggers: If you're interested in participating, E-mail me at "frodo at thepaytons dot org". It's open to all members. All you need is a PC and a microphone!

Visitors: If you'd like to get on the air with HBR, just join our band of bloggers and you're eligible. (And immediately getting over 280 links to your own blog ain't so bad either!)

Friday, October 21, 2005

If Al Franken speaks on the radio, and no one is tuned in to hear him, does he make a sound?

Arbitron is asking that question in Washington, DC, where Air America has no measurable audience. In such a liberal bastion as DC, you'd think they could draw some kind of audience. But AA can't even manage that.

Don Surber, a blogger who linked to this post on Stones Cry Out, has made a good point about the Coburn amendments.
The idea of cutting the fat in the federal budget to pay for hurricane relief is admirable. But bloggers and the senator are going after the wrong cuts. They are going after federal highways spending.
This is not general fund money -- this is federal highways money. It comes from gasoline taxes. We went through this in the Clinton administration. The public does not want its gasoline taxes to be spent on non-transportation purposes.

Yes, cut the pork. But this money was collected to make the highways safer. The showboaters should be forced to never, ever drive on a federal highway again or to use the DC Metro or any other public transportation supported by gasoline taxes.

Now, I'm as much for cutting the pork as the next conservative, but Don's observation has merit. Bad behavior by senators notwithstanding, are we now declaring that any and all money the feds collect should be considered one big slush fund?

It's possible that, with the speed of change these days, we're expecting that problems should be fixed immediately, and that the behemoth that is the Federal Government should be able to turn on a dime. But ships of state can't just do that, and in this case perhaps they shouldn't. This is a much larger issue that one bill's pork and it needs to be dealt with in that manner. If we want all the rules broken because we want results now, we're deliberately invoking the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The long-term answer to this is to cut the amount of money going to the federal government as a whole. Then you'd have less pork overall; not just in transportation bills. A smaller federal government in general may not bring the Kos folks on board as much as they were for the Coburn amendment, but it's the right way and the responsible way to do it. Fiscal responsibility isn't a knee-jerk reaction to a specific situation that invites abuse in the future. Instead, it's a policy and a philosophy that needs to be implemented in all areas of government.

If nothing else, I think the Coburn amendments were extremely useful for getting the issue on the table. Again, hissy fits by senators from Alaska notwithstanding, a vote to kill the Coburn amendments shouldn't necessarily be read as a vote against fiscal responsibility. But now that the issue is at the fore, it needs to be pushed, and pushed hard, without tearing down the checks and balances within government.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - "the sizzle of the hamburgers" [#2 on Google].

OK, as odd phrases go, it's not really all that odd since the phrase appears in full in a post from last June while I was cooking hamburgers on the outdoor grill. But it is interesting that someone searching for that phrase wound up at a mostly political blog. It's also interesting that I'm #2 of only 2 pages on the entire web (according to Google) that has that phrase. The other is more of a personal diary.

First comes the fence...
The Egyptian authorities have begun to surround the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh with a 12-mile-long security fence to prevent terror attacks similar to the July bombings that killed 63 people, including 11 British tourists.

The fence is the key element of Egypt's attempt to restore Sharm's reputation as a world-class holiday resort.

...then come the cries of "apartheid", just like when Israel built a fence for a much less commercial purpose; to keep itself and its residents alive, not to keep any resort reputation.

Except that we're not hearing any such cries, no do I expect us to hear any. These sorts of rules and outrages are solely for Israel, it seems.

It's the "separation of church and state"* run amok. Some folks think that a kindergartener's artwork can constitute a breach of the Establishment clause.
Officials at a New York state school may have violated the constitutional free-speech rights of a kindergarten student who included an image of Jesus in his homework assignment, according to an appeals court decision.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan remanded the case back to a federal district court Monday for further consideration.

Antonio Peck, who attended Catherine McNamara Elementary School in Baldwinsville, N.Y., as a kindergarten student during the 1999-2000 school year, included an image of Jesus and other religious elements in a poster created in fulfillment of a homework assignment on the environment.

The student reportedly was expressing his belief that God was the only way to save the environment.

School officials rejected one version of the poster and then obscured a portion of the second version when it was placed on display at an assembly, citing concerns over its "religious" nature.

Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based public-interest law firm, filed suit over the second poster.

"To allow a kindergarten poster to be displayed for a few hours on a cafeteria wall, along with 80 other student posters, is far from an establishment of religion," said Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel. "To censor the poster solely because some might perceive a portion of it to be religious is an egregious violation of the Constitution."

This is religious censorship, plain and simple. The circuit court agreed.
In its opinion, the 2nd Circuit panel said the district court "overlooked evidence that, if construed, in the light most favorable to Peck, suggested that Antonio's poster was censored not because it was unresponsive to the assignment ... , but because it offered a religious perspective on the topic of how to save the environment."

The misreading of the First Amendment and the misreading and canonization of one line from a letter from Thomas Jefferson have thus criminalized a 5-year-old's expression of religion, which, ironically, goes entirely against the Free Exercise clause.

There are bunch of teachers and administrators that need to re-take civics class.

* Not a constitutional principle

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

John Stossel deals with some dangerous gun (control) myths. A snippet from one of them:
What if it were legal in America for adults to carry concealed weapons? I put that question to gun-control advocate Rev. Al Sharpton. His eyes opened wide, and he said, "We'd be living in a state of terror!"

In fact, it was a trick question. Most states now have "right to carry" laws. And their people are not living in a state of terror. Not one of those states reported an upsurge in crime.

Why? Because guns are used more than twice as often defensively as criminally.

There are loads of myths in this area of policy, and Stossel takes on some of them quite well. And it was nice to know that in a year or so, according to federal law, I'll be off the hook for being in the Second Amendment's state militia.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Is the world a more violent place than it used to be? Not really, says this study.
Widespread fears about a world in a perpetual state of war are unfounded, a study says today. It emphasises that the number of conflicts between nations, civil wars, battle deaths, coups and genocides has been falling steeply for more than a decade.
The authors say there are 40 per cent fewer armed conflicts than in the early 1990s. Between 1991 and last year 28 wars for self-determination began but 43 were ended or contained.

In 1992, when the Yugoslav wars of secession began, there were 51 state-based conflicts around the world. The figure dropped to 32 in 2002 and 29 in 2003. The arms trade declined by a third from 1990 to 2003 and the number of refugees fell by 45 per cent between 1992 and 2003.

In 1950 each conflict killed 38,000 people on average. By 2002 that had dropped to 600.

However, the report, which was funded by five nations including Britain, says that the potential for a major upsurge in violence remains.

"The risk of new wars breaking out or old ones resuming is very real in the absence of a sustained and strengthened commitment to conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building," the authors say.

Most of the data gathered ended in 2003, the last full year for which statistics were available. That means that most of the deaths caused by the war in Iraq are not included. But by the standards of the bloodiest conflicts since the end of the Second World War, the deaths in Iraq are relatively few. About 27,000 Iraqis and Americans have died.

While war deaths are always tragic and to be avoided, this study shows that such death are indeed dropping, hysteric from the Left about perpetual war notwithstanding. It also shows that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in more results for less casualties, which ought to be good news for everyone, especially since it makes further wars less likely as potential aggressors know we mean business.

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - draft a mail for employees on their late coming to office [#2 on Yahoo! Search, beating out Andrew Sullivan at #3]

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Democrats, in Georgia this time, prove once again that they'd rather have more voter fraud than less.
A federal judge in Rome today issued an order suspending a new state law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls for the upcoming November municipal elections throughout Georgia.

U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy granted the injunction to lawyers for Common Cause of Georgia, the ACLU, the NAACP and other groups who challenged the law that requires Georgians to purchase a state-issued photo identification before voting.

The plaintiffs, Murphy found, have shown there is a substantial likelihood they will ultimately prevail in showing the photo ID requirement "unduly burdens the right to vote" and "constitutes a poll tax."

Murphy, in a 123-page order, said he had great respect for the Georgia Legislature, which passed the law earlier this year. "The court, however, simply has more respect for the Constitution," Murphy added.

A free ID, provided by the state, is a poll tax? Respect for the Constitution includes allowing vote fraud to continue unabated? Just keep this in mind when you hear Democrats complaining about vote fraud in the future (and even from the past).

It's about time.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department aims without exception to expel all those who enter the United States illegally.

"Our goal at DHS (Homeland Security) is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions.

"It should be possible to achieve significant and measurable progress to this end in less than a year," Chertoff told a Senate hearing.

Whether this is just posturing or an actual goal, it's good that at least someone in the administration is saying this. Now let's, y'know, do it.

Bryan Preston has a review of the book "No More Christian Nice Guy". An excerpt:
Modern Christian men, argues Coughlin, have grown up with an image of Jesus as always patient, longsuffering, deferrent and even obsequious and effette. This softheaded, soft-focus Jesus is a false image that removes the very masculine character of Christ's leadership, thereby giving Christian men a false understanding of their role in life and church. Christian men cannot be effective leaders if they're afraid that Christ discourages them from being men. Coughlin argues that the Christian Nice Guy who is a product of this false, emasculated Jesus is unwilling to stand for truth, to battle wrong and to make waves. Ultimately, the Christian Nice Guy lives in fear that he'll upset someone, and so he takes no action even when he sees clearly that something must be done, and perhaps even knows what that something is.

Christ never lived that way. He picked fights with the Pharisees to expose their hypocrisy, used sarcasm to mock their false holiness and their stinginess, and even went on a rampage in the middle of the temple in order to correct gross misconduct. Christ never feared that his actions might upset someone, and in fact at times went out of his way to say upsetting things in order to advance truth.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Amazing? Nah, just business as usual.
The United States has expressed "amazement" at a United Nations invitation to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to address a hunger conference in Rome on Monday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

"I find it amazing they've invited Mr Mugabe to speak at the 60th anniversary, who in a way has done so much to hurt the hungry, and who has absolutely turned his back on the poor," said Tony Hall, US ambassador to the UN food agencies in Rome.

"I find it amazing. What can he possibly say to us at the conference, when he has done so much to hurt his own people? Food has been used as a weapon against his own people," Hall said late on Friday.

This insanity brought to you by the same world body that allowed Libya to chair their Human Rights Commission and pre-war Iraq to preside over their Conference on Disarmament. Folks, the UN isn't a house with a few broken boards and needing a new paint job; it's a termite-infested tenement who's residents can't (or won't) tell the difference between a drug dealer and a telephone repairman, and will cheerfully let them both in. The best thing to do is bulldoze the whole contraption and start again, hopefully with a new landlord that has a better respect for the property.

It's broken. There is no "fixing" it.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

A major victory over the weekend in the war in Iraq.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that initial assessments indicate Iraqis had probably approved a controversial constitution, although the turnout alone showed the fragile new political process has taken hold despite a deadly insurgency.

"There's a belief that it has probably passed," Rice told reporters traveling with her, based on accounts from people in Iraq who are seeing preliminary vote tallies. At least 63 percent of Iraqis voted Saturday, she said, an increase of about 1 million voters over the first democratic election in January for a transitional government. Much of that increase, she said, comes from the higher participation of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslims.

The violence also was lower and produced fewer lethal attacks than in January's vote, she noted.

The victory, to me, was the fact that the voting took place, and no "insurgency" was able to stop it or put it off. In fact, the terrorists seem to have pretty much given up on trying to stem this tide. Whether or not the constitution is ratified, this in and of itself is a major victory against those who think that leaving Iraq alone to stew in racial and religious hatred while headed by a guy who killed more people per month than they seem to remember was better than the current state of affairs.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Ever since getting the podcast set up for Homespun Bloggers Radio, I've been getting into the whole podcasting scene. (Well, just a small slice of it, actually. As with most things on the net, once you notice something new, turns out there's a boatload of if out there already. So it is with my "discovery" of podcasting.)

I downloaded iPodder for Windows (there are also Mac and Linux versions), and I started my way through the forest. I've been pulling down money management, a bunch of computer-related ones (my occupation), some Christian music, and some TV-related ones ("Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica") and, of course, a number of political ones. Some of my favorites are:

I pull down a lot of others, but these are the ones I gravitate to. There are 3 or 4 other political ones (most from the right, but one rebroadcast of a radio show from the left), and of the amateur ones, Shelley definitely does the best. I'm sure it takes more time to put it together (including a good group of clips from TV audio that she'll respond to), which, I imagine, is why she doesn't produce them as often as the guys who record their shows from their cell phone.

It's an interesting decision, going either for better quality and fewer releases vs. quick-and-dirty but more releases and hence more topical. We all have day jobs, so you have to find the time. Putting together Homespun Bloggers Radio is like that only more so. The folks who contribute have to find time to put together their segment, and I have to find time to produce and distribute it. But Shelley does a good job due to breaking things up with the audio clips and with an engaging presentation. A podcast of a guy or three sitting in front of an open mike who are obviously not entirely prepared other than having a topic isn't a real quality show. Shelley's got it figured out, though, so give her a listen if you're looking for someone on the Right for your MP3 player.

(Not to mention that all of our HBR contributors are from the Right as well, although that's not a requirement by any means. We working on variety.)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I feel like I'm playing a double-agent Devil's Advocate regarding the Miers nomination. Color me a definite fence-sitter. Here's my current question:

Matt at Stones Cry Out said he's having trouble trusting the President because of other campaign promises he's broken. I'm with him on that count. However, now we're being asked to trust him with a judicial nomination, so let's compare apples to apples. Dubya's not asking for a general "trust me", he's asking for a specific one with this nomination.

So the question is; considering the group of judges he's already nominated to the federal bench, are you happy with that batch, and if so, do you have any reason to think he's doing something different with the Miers nomination?

Bop on over to Stones Cry Out (where this is cross-posted) if you want to comment. (Someday, I may actually change my old, dusty Blogger template to one that allows them here.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Now that the Palestinians have Gaza, it's becoming a breeding ground for terrorism.
Reports Syrian-based arch-terrorist leader Ahmed Jibril, widely blamed for the infamous 1998 Pan Am airplane bombing over Lockerbie, is planning to set up shop in the Gaza Strip are accurate, a senior Palestinian official told [WorldNetDaily].

A Jibril associate had claimed to a London newspaper the move was prompted by Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, but senior Lebanese officials told WND recent clashes between Jibril's group and the Lebanese army may be to blame.

"Jibril has told us he is interested in moving to Gaza since it is now Palestinian controlled," said a senior Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He is a living hero to most Palestinians and we don't have a problem with him coming back."

Jibril is founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, mostly active in Israel in the 1970s, when it carried out scores of large-scale terror attacks that killed more than 50 Israelis. PLFP also perpetuated terror attacks in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, and bombed a Swiss airliner in flight in 1970, killing all 47 passengers and crew members on board.

Jibril has been accused of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and took credit for sending a shipment of arms to the Gaza Strip in 2001, vowing to send more weapons to the Palestinians.

And there are folks who think they deserve more land?

I heard a good observation from one of Bill Bennett's guys on his morning talk show (either Jeff or Seth, I forget which one). He first noted the recent report about an al-Qaeda internal memorandum that got intercepted.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials call a letter from al Qaeda's No. 2 man to its leader in Iraq "chilling" because of how "calm, clear and well argued" it is in urging preparation for a U.S. departure from Iraq.

This was from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had lived in Iraq at least a year before the war. Bennett's guy noted this point, since those who didn't want Iraq to be liberated contended that there were no terrorists in Iraq. Further, at the time Colin Powell was making the case for war with Iraq, analysts thought that the two organizations--al-Qaeda and Zarqawi's group--were rivals, and thus claims that Hussein was courting bin Laden were false.

But let's remember first that this is the Global War on Terror, not just on al-Qaeda., and terrorists were in Iraq long before we got there (and don't forget Abu Nidal). Secondly, this very high-level collaboration in "calm, clear" language doesn't sound like one rival to another.

The liberation of Iraq was the right thing to do, the snookering of the entire world on the WMD situation notwithstanding.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

There's a good diary (promoted to "article") on suggesting why Harriet Miers may be the best nominee, given the current climate. The writer, "bamapachyderm", suggests that Bush may be playing the long game with the Miers pick. Via a plethora of linkage, he lays out the idea that this pick may have been made with an eye to the possible retirement of Justice Stevens. In short, if Stevens saw a die-hard conservative pick for the O'Conner seat, he would be less likely to decide to retire under a Bush presidency. However, if Stevens felt that Bush would choose a moderate, he may be more willing to step down sooner over health issues.

In the comments, "Winter Soldier" gives some further analysis, noting that (among a dozen other observations) of the judges that Bush has picked for the federal bench, there's "not a single Souter to date!" He even notes how the Miers pick fits Sun Tzu's methods for dealing with an adversary.

Are Bush and his advisors playing the long game; looking ahead farther that we are? It's quite possible, and these posts make a strong case for it.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Looks like the 60's redux anti-war protest a couple weekends ago was a bust. In a 97-0 vote (with 3 not voting), the Senate passed a bill appropriating billions more for the Iraq war effort. "Yea" votes included John Kerry, who can now say he voted for funding the war before he voted against it before he voted for it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I've been negligent in keeping up with the Homespun Blogger Symposium questions, and the one this week is something I've touched on before. The question is:
This week President Bush is kicking around the idea of increasing the role of the US armed forces in reacting to major natural disasters here at home. This seems to be pushing up against the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 pretty hard. This law prevents the US military from acting in a law enforcement role within our borders. Following the Civil War, it made sense to provide a sense of sovereignty to the states that had law behind it from enforcing an overbearing federal government from wrongly using federal troops in a domestic role.

What are your thoughts about this mission creep for our military, especially in a time when we're at war with a major portion of our forces engaged?

I don't see the difference between a federal government wrongly using federal troops in 1878 vs wrongly using them in 2005. The issue of Posse Comitatus is not to prevent the Feds from doing the right thing with them once in a while, but preventing them from doing the wrong thing with them ever. Once you open that door, as governments are wont to do, they will not give up that power. Disaster relief, as wonderful an idea as that may sound now, will be the foot in the door for wider misuse of that power in the future.

And it's not like the states don't have access to federal troops if they ask for them. The governor of Louisiana was quite tardy in her reaction, but we shouldn't penalize the other 49 governors and give the Feds the ability to commandeer the process just because of one's mistake. The meaning of the Interstate Commerce clause has been expanded beyond all recognition. Just imagine what would happen if that same fate befell the Insurrection Act. Do you think the federal government, under any party, will reign itself in? (Hint: The guys who wrote the Constitution said "No".)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

This sounds like the beginning of a horror movie.
A cargo plane carrying small amounts of flu virus crashed on railway tracks near Winnipeg's city center Thursday, killing the pilot but missing buildings and vehicles, authorities said.

The research samples of frozen influenza and herpes viruses were destroyed in the crash and ensuing fire along with other freight, Federal Express spokeswoman Karen Cooper said.

Al Gore on the Media; that was then...
In fact, our first self-expression as a nation - "We the People" - made it clear where the ultimate source of authority lay. It was universally understood that the ultimate check and balance for American government was its accountability to the people. And the public forum was the place where the people held the government accountable. That is why it was so important that the marketplace of ideas operated independent from and beyond the authority of government.

The three most important characteristics of this marketplace of ideas were:

1) It was open to every individual, with no barriers to entry, save the necessity of literacy. This access, it is crucial to add, applied not only to the receipt of information but also to the ability to contribute information directly into the flow of ideas that was available to all; 2) The fate of ideas contributed by individuals depended, for the most part, on an emergent Meritocracy of Ideas. Those judged by the market to be good rose to the top, regardless of the wealth or class of the individual responsible for them; 3) The accepted rules of discourse presumed that the participants were all governed by an unspoken duty to search for general agreement. That is what a "Conversation of Democracy" is all about.

...this is now...
It did not come as a surprise that the concentration of control over this powerful one-way medium carries with it the potential for damaging the operations of our democracy. As early as the 1920s, when the predecessor of television, radio, first debuted in the United States, there was immediate apprehension about its potential impact on democracy. One early American student of the medium wrote that if control of radio were concentrated in the hands of a few, "no nation can be free."

As a result of these fears, safeguards were enacted in the U.S. -- including the Public Interest Standard, the Equal Time Provision, and the Fairness Doctrine - though a half century later, in 1987, they were effectively repealed. And then immediately afterwards, Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves.

Al used to be against any government intrusion into the "marketplace of ideas", but now he bemoans the lack of government intrusion, suggesting that it is the government's job to ensure some ideas get play when the marketplace rejects them. What intervening experience brought about this remarkable flip-flop?

Actually, it was just the passing of about 5 minutes.

These two quotes are from the same speech Al gave to a media conference in New York. He's all for the marketplace of ideas, until the marketplaces chooses conservative voices. It only shows that he doesn't care one bit about the marketplace; he wants government backing of his opinion. In language that supposedly is simply against large media conglomerates, his only solution is forcing those conglomerates to air money-losing shows. Liberals have bemoaned the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, and while they outwardly promote the marketplace of ideas, they see how the marketplace has rejected them, and long for the good ol' days when the government held the people accountable instead of when "the people held the government accountable". Al Gore preaches the latter, but wishes for the former.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger News Network and Comments welcome.)

I've lived in New York (upstate and Long Island), Cleveland, Pittsburgh, a few places in New England, went to college in Kentucky and have lived in Georgia since graduation. So I was interested in this little online test of what kind of American English I speak. The results are about what I expected; that I don't really have a specific accent (I think).

Your Linguistic Profile:

75% General American English

10% Dixie

10% Yankee

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - automatic flush principle [#2 on Yahoo! Search]

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A spy in Cheney's office:
Oct. 5, 2005 — Both the FBI and CIA are calling it the first case of espionage in the White House in modern history.

Officials tell ABC News the alleged spy worked undetected at the White House for almost three years. Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, was a U.S. Marine most recently assigned to the staff of Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I don't know of a case where the vetting broke down before and resulted in a spy being in the White House," said Richard Clarke, a former White House advisor who is now an ABC News consultant.

Federal investigators say Aragoncillo, a naturalized citizen from the Philippines, used his top secret clearance to steal classified intelligence documents from White House computers.

While there is evidence that he stole documents while working for the Bush administration, the trail may go back even further.
According to friends, in addition to his work for Cheney and Gore, Aragoncillo claimed he also worked with President Clinton and Condoleezza Rice when she was the national security advisor.

This will be huge.

The nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court has really caused a back and forth in the Republican Party. The site has good views from both sides of this. Check out these entries:

And these are just the most recent entries. Some may see the debate going on (competing articles as well as in the comments) as bad for the Republicans, but I disagree. When Bill Clinton was President, there was not nearly the objective criticism of him by Democrats as Republicans are willing to have of someone in their party. When Clinton signed NAFTA, for example, there was a bit of a murmur, but not much. I've always thought that conservatives were more honest about their beliefs; less party-driven and more principle-driven. This debate is confirming that.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The military news out of Iraq continues to be bleak. Unfortunately, according to those on the ground there, it's only bleak because the media covers it that way. Via The Gun Guy comes word that LTC Tim Ryan has some choice words for how things are being covered.
All right, I've had enough. I am tired of reading distorted and grossly exaggerated stories from major news organizations about the "failures" in the war in Iraq. "The most trusted name in news" and a long list of others continue to misrepresent the scale of events in Iraq. Print and video journalists are covering only a fraction of the events in Iraq and, more often than not, the events they cover are only negative.

His in-depth article recounts the successes in Fallujah and Najaf, comparing Fallujah to WWII victories.
Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.

Imagine if the papers in the 1940s all cried about the death and destruction of the French countryside rather than cheering the fact that the Bad Guys were being beat back.

Even when he tries to get the good news out, Western media rebuff him.
I have had my staff aggressively pursue media coverage for all sorts of events that tell the other side of the story only to have them turned down or ignored by the press in Baghdad. Strangely, I found it much easier to lure the Arab media to a "non-lethal" event than the western outlets. Open a renovated school or a youth center and I could always count on Al-Iraqia or even Al-Jazeera to show up, but no western media ever showed up – ever.

LTC Ryan has much, much more to say on misleading headlines, the big picture, minimizing the enemy's moral failings while overemphasizing ours, reporting on events not witnessed, and aiding & abetting the enemy with their best weapon; bad news.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

What factor in teenage life multplies the suicide rate by a little under 3 times for girls and by around 6 times for boys?
But there was another statistic that should have gotten parents' attention but which was similarly ignored, namely, that there seems to be a direct link between teen sexuality and teen depression. A study by the Heritage Foundation, in-turn based on the government-funded National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, found that about 25 percent of sexually active girls say they are depressed all, most or a lot of the time, while only 8 percent of girls who are not sexually active feel the same.

While 14 percent of girls who have had intercourse have attempted suicide, only 5 percent of sexually inactive girls have. And whereas 6 percent of sexually active boys have tried suicide, less than 1 percent of sexually inactive boys have. The report challenges the previously held notion that teens become sexually active in order to self-medicate their own depression.

And lest you think it's possible that the sexual activity was the result of the depression...
"Findings from the study show depression came after substance and sexual activity, not the other way around," says researcher Denise Dion Hallfors of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed data from a national survey of more than 13,000 teenagers in grades seven to 11.

(Emphasis in original.)

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who comments on this study in the linked article, believes that the first priority of parents--even before food and clothing and even love--is to protect their children. As he notes, all the watering and nurturing in the world won't revive a dead plant ripped up from its roots.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

The Pope tries to reclaim the language.
In a message to over 250 Catholic bishops at the Vatican today, Pope Benedict XVI said it was hypocritical to exclude God and religion from public life.

"A tolerance which allows God as a private opinion but which excludes him from public life, from the reality of the world and our lives, is not tolerance but hypocrisy," the pope said in the homily he gave at a three-week-long synod's opening mass in St Peter's Basilica. "When man makes himself the only master of the world and master of himself, justice cannot exist. Then, arbitrariness, power and interests rule."

In practice in America, it's not just "god" in general that "tolerance" folks are against; only that regarding the Judeo-Christian God. Sensitivity to others abounds, but not for the religion of most Americans.

And indeed the words about shifting standards ought to be common sense. Unfortunately, it's not all that common. When there is no higher standard, there is no standard. This goes for ethical law as well as civil law. Just ask the folks in New London who lost their property to the highest (tax) bidder.

At the scene of the Kuta bomb, bodies lay covered by bloodied blankets as police moved among crowds of onlookers using torches to pick their way through the gutted interior of the bomb-damaged restaurant.

In the hours following the attacks, the bodies lay on the darkened streets amid the shards of shattered glass, their last indignity covered by bloodied blankets.

Nearby lay more corpses, stretched out on the sand or placed roughly on the tables of the fish cafes which were turned into impromptu mortuary slabs by the actions of the bombers who ripped apart the night in this jewel of Bali's tourism crown.

Supposedly, according to those who have been trying to get into their heads, these terrorists are against the United States' Mideast policy. Is that why they keep bombing the largest Muslim country in the world? Should Indonesians start asking "Why do they hate us?" Or maybe, just maybe, it's more emotional than political with them. Maybe they hate us just because. Just because we're not them. Just because we don't believe the things they do or in the way they do.

Maybe it's their problem, and not ours to figure out. Their only weapon is force, and that's the only response to it. Unless you want them to continue their ways.