Friday, December 30, 2005

Democratic Wisdom

Yes, odd as that may seem for a headline on my blog, Senator Barack Obama indeed expressed some serious wisdom this year, as quoted by Time magazine columnist Joe Klein.

"Whenever we (Democrats) exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose," he wrote to liberal blog the Daily Kos.

Obama was referring to the vilification of John Roberts during his Supreme Court nomination hearings, but I think he nails the fundamental problem for the Democratic Party pretty much every time its members open their mouths.

They've lost their way,, they have no message, and they spend the majority of their time running around shrieking "Bush lied!"

If others in his party heed his wisdom, there may be hope for them yet.

But I'm not counting on it. Hillary in 2008!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

U.N.. Endorses Iraq Election Results

A senior United Nations official says Iraq's recent parliamentary elections were credible and the results should stand, the Associated Press reports.

Sunnis immediately protested.

Saaay...these Iraqis really ARE getting the hang of this democracy thing.

Monday, December 26, 2005

They printed my letter!!! Part...Whatever

In the News Times yesterday morning. (Sorry, I didn't blog on Christmas)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Saddam's Chutzpah

Oh my goodness, that Saddam Hussein -- he's quite the comedian, complaining in court that the White House is a bunch of liars and he was tortured by the Americans.

Laughed so hard, milk came out of my nose. And I wasn't even drinking milk at the time!

Saddam claims the U.S. lied about his possession of WMD. Well, he could have easily proven them liars by allowing U.N. inspectors to do their jobs. Oh, but that's right -- then they would have quickly uncovered his hidden WMD assets, as described in the Duelfer report, wouldn't they?

Remember? He said he didn't have any of it left.

One word. Eight letters. Starts with a "B."

As to the claims of torture, here's a guy who considered things like gouging out people's eyes and or using electric drills on them perfectly acceptable means of extracting information and confessions. And raping 12-year-old girls? Well, that was just a good evening's entertainment as far as he was concerned.

What a funny guy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dems on Domestic Snooping: Do as we say...

Democrats all in a dither about a Bush order allowing spying on terror suspects in the U.S. after 9/11.

I guess I would be concerned about it too -- if I was a member of a violent terrorist organization.

The usual band of Congressional naysayers (Pelosi, Boxer, Rockefeller, etc.) are expressing the usual concerns, calling for investigations, asking for documents to be declassified and so forth in their sudden expressed concern about this practice.

Except, apparently it was okay when President Bill Clinton did the same thing 10 years ago. And Jimmy Carter too, in 1979.

Gosh, and nobody had even plowed any airplanes into buildings or anything yet!

If that's not the biggest "shut your big fat face," I don't know what is.

Thanks to the Drudge Report for posting the Clinton and Carter documents. I'm not a huge fan of Matt's, but you can't argue with the original source text and credit to him for posting it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

NOT the case against the war

Quite possibly the worst argument I've ever read for immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

And I'm not talking about John Murtha here.

From my local paper's op-ed page yesterday.

This thing is so riddled with factual errors that I can't believe this guy is smart enough to take himself to the bathroom.

I'll have to violate my self-imposed moratorium on writing letters to the editor and respond.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Jack Anderson: RIP

Columnist Jack Anderson passed away yesterday, after a 19-year battle with Parkinsons.

I recall reading his columns as a college student -- he always seemed to have his nose under someone's tent. I heard speak at my university, and I think many of my fellow students were surprised by his strongly conservative viewpoint -- totally dissed the Eastern Bloc and Cuba.

A bit flamboyant, and a bit of a grandstander, Jack was a believer in the power of the press uncovering dishonesty.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Election Forecast:: Partly Sunni

More than 10 million Iraqis were expected to cast ballots today in the third major election this year in that country, the Chicago Tribune reports.

They said it couldn't be done -- that democracy couldn't work in Iraq. And yet for the third time in 12 months the Iraqi people have proven them wrong.

Most notable about this election is the high voter turnout among the Sunni minority, which had ruled the country under Saddam. Disenfranchised after his ouster, the Sunnis largely snubbed the first two elections and supported the terrorist insurgency.

Now that the insurgency seems to be ineffective, Sunnis and their leaders are apparently understanding that if they want a say in how Iraq will be governed they have to participate in the process.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Patriot Act:: Paranoia Vs. Reality

It was a frightening prediction the civil libertarians made. Armed with the Patriot Act, jackbooted federal agents would have free rein roust anyone suspected of terrorism, kicking in doors after midnight, tapping phone lines and rifling through business documents and library records.

Library records! No longer would a three-year-old be able to check out a copy of "The Pokey Little Puppy" without falling under the shadow of the Feds.

Except not, reports National Public Radio.

In a story broadcast yesterday, NPR details how federal agents report finding it extremely hard to obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the body set up in the mid-70s to oversee intelligence-related search and seizure requests and prevent abuses.

The Feds complain that getting requests for warrants through the Office of Intelligenc Policy and Review is nearly impossible -- the office sets exceedingly high standards of proof to ensure that civil rights are protected.

And the number of library records requested under the Patriot Act. Nada. None. Zip. Zilch.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Williams Execution: Repentence, Redemption, Forgiveness

Stanley Tookie Williams, convicted of four murders in 1981 and founder of the bloody drug gang the Crips, was put to death by lethal injection this morning, Reuters reports.

To the end, Williams' supporters proclaimed his innocence and asked for clemency.

Innocent he certainly wasn't -- the evidence against him in the four killings is regarded as overwhelming. And as founder of one of the most notorious gangs in U.S. history, Williams was responsible for tremendous death and destruction, most of it within his own community.

Still, while in prison Williams tried to redeem himself. While never admitting to the murders, he renounced the gang life, even writing children's books warning kids about the dangers of being a gangsta.

The question is, what is the price of public redemption and forgiveness? Did the good he did in prison outweigh the bad? Or was the mere change in the attitude of his heart enough? And who can really know the heart of a man, other than God?

Williams plight reminds of another notorious public figure who underwent a similar conversion. Former Alabama Governor George Wallace was one of the most venomous racists to ever hold public office in the United States, consistently pursuing a segregationist agenda through the 1960s and early 1970s that included a run for president.

In the mid-1970s, after an assassination attempt that left him in a wheelchair and a spiritual conversion, Wallace repented of and renounced his racist views. He sought the forgiveness of those who he had persecuted and in his last term as governor appointed a record number of black Alabamians to state government posts.

Some accepted his repentence, others did not, and he died in 1998 just as much a controversial figure.

I wonder what those who sought clemency for Williams thought of Wallace, if they thought of him at all.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Iraqi's Optimistic: BBC Doesn't Agree With Own Poll

The majority of Iraqis say their lives are good and getting better, although security remains a major concern, a new poll conducted on behalf of the BBC, ABC News and other media organizations -- none of them too crazy about the U.S. strategy, I might add.

Pollsters Oxford Research International spoke with 1,700 Iraqis from all regions, and found that 71 said their lives are very good, and 64 said they think things will continue to improve for them personally. Sixty-nine percent said they think overall conditions Iraq will continue improving.

Fifty-three percent called the security situation bad, while 44 percent characterized it as good -- an interesting contrast.

Only 10 percent said getting the U.S. out of Iraq is a top priority, with 57 percent said restoring public security should be tops.

BBC News said that according to their own World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds, the findings are more in line with the kind of arguments currently being deployed by President George W Bush. They said he added that that critics will claim that the survey proves little beyond showing how resilient Iraqis are at a local level - and that it reveals enough important exceptions to the rosy assessment, especially in the centre of the country, to indicate serious dissatisfaction.

Interesting way of saying they didn't get the results they wanted from the poll, so they have to come up with a way of mitigating them with a "some critics" comment.

Can you say "arrogant"? Sure you can.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Service Diss

Everything aflutter today over at Althouse regarding an NY Times article stating -- oh my goodness -- some churches won't hold services on Christmas Sunday this year.

I'm going to stay with my answer -- this is a classic media rolljob.

Take a preconceived notion, add some sloppy and incomplete reporting, throw in a dash of someone who is offended (yeah, like THAT'S hard to do in this society) and PRESTO: instant controversy!

And an opportunity to smack the churches for being hypocritical.

The implication is that this is a result of the megachurch phenomenon. But the little church I attended as a kid -- which never saw more than 125-150 members -- made the same decision 25-30 years ago.

Ann and company are smarter than this -- I'm surprised they're falling for it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Miami Airport Shooting

A tragic event, that was probably unavoidable in the world we live in today.

Many will try to hand out blame -- some to the man who was shot, some to the marshals.

But there are a couple points of clarity that I think are indisputable:

-- When someone on an airplane tells you he has a bomb, you believe him;

-- If he fails to stop when you tell him to, you shoot him.

To do otherwise is to court a far greater loss.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Daily Torture Roundup

That's what this starting to feel like. But there's an awful lot of news about it.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice reiterated America's position that we do not engage in torture of terror war detainees (and from what I've seen, we don't), although her remarks failed to quiet global critics.

In the meantime, most people in the U.S. Britain, France and South Korea think torture is okay if warranted by the circumstances, an AP-Ipsos poll shows.

A German citizen held as a terror suspect by the U.S. claims he was tortured and files suit.

And testimony continued in Saddam's trial, with additional witnesses detailing tortune and abuse.

Saddam refused to attend the hearing today, complaining that among other things he hadn't been allowed a change of clothes in three days. Meanwhile, one of the men testifying in the trial said he'd be forced to wear the same pajamas he was arrested in for nine months while in jail.

Finally, if anyone needs a reminder about how brutal Saddam's regime was, take a read through this British government report on torture and abuse in Iraq under Saddam, if you can stomach it.

One thing is clear -- when it comes to this torture stuff, we Americans a real amateurs compared to Saddam.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Torture at Abu Ghraib

No, not by U.S. forces. Witnesses in Saddam's trial recounted harrowing torture at the notorious prison by the dictators henchmen, Reuters reports.

One female witness said she was stripped naked, given electric shocks and beaten.

Oh well, at least they didn't take pictures of her -- that would have been humiliating.

Others talked of being confined in horrible conditions. Many testified behind screens and used voice modulators to conceal their identifies, fearful of reprisals.

Saddam, meanwhile, whined that the trial is unfair and told the judges to go to hell.

"You first," I'm sure they were all thinking.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Saddam Not Afraid

Saddam Hussein said today during his trial that he is unafraid of being executed, Reuters reports.

"I am not afraid of execution," he said, adding "execution is cheaper than the shoe of an Iraqi."

And all I could think was: "There, now isn't that working out nicely? Who says the Iraqis can't agree on anything? He's not afraid to die, and the Iraqi people aren't afraid to kill him."

Fortunately for Saddam, he'll likely be spared execution by some of the grisly methods he employed for the task while in power.

Death by decapitation

Death by beating

Death by being tossed into a vat of acid

Death by being thrown into a shredding machine

Personally I'm opposed to the death penality, and I'm willing to extend that prohibition even to Saddam.

I'd rather see him thrown back into the hole was captured in and kept there for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, Saddam amused himself at his trial by alternately yelling at and taunting the judges and lawyers, and chuckling as one man recounted torture and abuse.

"I swear by God, I walked by a room and ... saw a grinder with blood coming out of it and human hair underneath," Hassan told the court.

You can read more here.

Anybody still think this wasn't a good idea?

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Music of Politics: Does the House need a Hall?

From my daily newspaper, the News-Times of Danbury, local of musician of previous fame to run for Congress.

This is worth reading through -- chock full of bumbling on both sides of the aisle. But the upshot is this.

Singer-songwriting John Hall, formerly of the band Orleans, discovered last year that the Bush Campaign was using the hit "Still The One" at campaign events. Hall, a long-time liberal (he was one of the artists behind the "No Nukes" concerts in early 80s) immediately protested to the media.

Now he's running for Congress in a district so Republican he has a better chance of being struck by a bolt of lightning than actually winning.

Some object lessons for all here.

First, political campaigns really ought to do a better job of vetting the politics of the musical artists whose songs they use on the road, or risk looking stupid. You didn't see John Kerry cranking up Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," now didja? (Not to say the Kerry campaign didn't do plenty of stupid things.)

Second, instead of immediately making a spectacle of this by complaining to the media, Hall could have simply called the Bush campaign and asked them to knock it off. Unless he was bent on making a political spectacle of the whole thing.

Perhaps he did -- it's not clear from the article. But basically nobody likes a tattle-tale or a whiner.

It would seem to be a huge mistake for Hall to run in this race though -- he has absolutely not shot at all. It would probably be better if they Democrats conserved their resources for races where they can win, and don't think the GOP hasn't noticed.

"We encourage Democrats to spend as much money there as possible," said Ed Patru, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "It's probably the second fastest way for them to waste money. Flushing it down the toilet would be faster."

Let's hope Hall doesn't make the second mistake Democrats seem to make regularly anymore -- talking about what they're against instead of what they are for. "Bush sucks" is not a political platform.

I used to hear John play with some regularity when he and I both lived in the Hudson Valley (where I grew up). I've always enjoyed his music, and while I don't always agree with his political views, I think he's pretty sincere. Seems like a nice guy, too.