Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sandy Berger

Sandy Berger, the former Clinton national security advisor is back in the news. He is supposed to appear in federal court tomorrow to plead guilty to taking some classified materials from the national archives. Yahoo Article

He claims it was "an honest mistake". I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.

Some of these documents still haven't turned up. "The materials related to a 2000 report on how government reacted to the terror threat prior to the millennium celebrations."

I have two questions. First, what was in these documents? Second, why is Berger willing to take the fall for Clinton? They had to have contained something pretty important to get Berger to not only take the documents, but to remain quiet about their contents.

If convicted, Berger could face up to a year in prison and a fine of $100,000. I can't help but admire the loyalty he has for Clinton.

I realize, I'm just reading the talking points from the Republicans. In seriousness though, there is a lot that is fishy about this case, and if it's not that big of a deal, Berger should let us know. Until he comes clean, the Republicans are going to have another reason for going after Clinton.

That happens to be a favorite past-time of Republicans, and this one seems more well-founded than a lot of past criticisms. Berger is guilty, and he's going to catch much needed flack for it. Clinton then, is guilty by association, until people get bored of this story at least.

An honest mistake? Come on Berger. What's really up?

"Intelligence" Agencies

As if there was any remaining doubt, it appears American intel was "dead wrong" in their assessments of WMDs. My Way News Article This is not to say Iraq did or did not have WMDs, but that our intelligence, despite the untold billions we spend on it, is ineffective.

A presidential commision "...recommended dozens of organizational changes". What would we do without presidential commisions?

Reading Bill Gertz's book Breakdown would have given us the same conclusions, a full two and a half years earlier. Below is an exerpt from Publisher's Weekly (from regarding the Gertz book:

Gertz supports his argument that the intelligence community has "lost sight of its purpose and function" with interviews, news clips and almost 100 pages of government documents, some partially classified (a National Security Agency report reproduced within contains little but the date and the designation "TOP SECRET UMBRA"-the rest is "withheld at the request of U.S. intelligence officials"). He points a very stern finger at the FBI, the NSA and the CIA, "where preservation of the agency's budget takes precedence over its performance."

Thus far, Bush has failed to reform the intelligence idustries in any significant way. This is disappointing, to say the least. It behooves us all to have intelligent services that runs smoothly and effectively.

Gertz points out that we didn't have a single spy in Iraq between the end of the first Gulf War and the start of the second. How about we change that Bush. Next time we try to invade a country--for WMDs or whatever--maybe we'll have the foresight to be thorough with our intel gathering.

I'm not hopeful though. It's been politics as usual at the CIA and FBI, and it will continue to be until we elect a leader who is serious about reform.

In what seems to be a growing theme here, I'm calling on Bush to learn from history... again. Our failure at Pearl Harbor didn't prevent the failure on September 11th. What other failures await us?

I'd rather not find out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Liberal Tolerance

"Conservative pundit" William Kristol was hit with a pie while making a speech at Earlham college. The Indianapolis Star In a related note, heckling and standing ovations interrupted Ann Coulter, another conservative, while she was speaking at Kansais University. The Lawrence Journal-World

These are not isolated incidents. David Horowitz tells similar tales of his experiences on campuses across the country. Tolerance only applies to those who share a similar viewpoint.

This is not an indictment against all liberals. Some liberals are quite tolerant of conservative viewpoints. These are, as a general rule, the actions of a few bad apples. Quite a few bad apples, at quite a few campuses--while Earlham is known for its Peace Studies program, KU hardly sounds like a bastion for liberalism.

It is also true that some conservatives are downright intolerant of liberal ideas. Still, I can't think of a similar incident involving a liberal speaker. Feel free to correct me.

If we had diversity of thought in today's universities, incidence like these would be fewer and further between. This is not at pandemic levels, but it is still worth drawing attention to.

It is true we are a divided nation. When our emotions run so hot that we cannot even listen to the other side, we have problems. A little open debate is a good thing in our free society.

Even for someone as close-minded as Ann Coulter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Professors Are Liberal?

Conservatives are proven right... again. You'd think we'd get sick of it. According to the Washington Post and a survey by two political science professors from the University of Toronto, the American college faculty leans to the left. Way to the left.

Don't take it from me. "College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says."

"The professors and instructors surveyed are, strongly or somewhat, in favor of abortion rights (84 percent); believe homosexuality is acceptable (67 percent); and want more environmental protection "even if it raises prices or costs jobs" (88 percent). What's more, the study found, 65 percent want the government to ensure full employment, a stance to the left of the Democratic Party." It's safe to say that this crowd isn't in favor of massive tax cuts and doesn't belong to the NRA, but I'm just speculating.

In sum total, 72% of national faculty were liberal, compared with 15% for conservatives. The difference grow at the "most elite" schools where it is 87% to 13%.

That's about as fair and balanced as Fox News.

There's nothing in and of itself wrong with having a liberal faculty, but we're fooling ourselves if it is assumed that professors will not allow their worldview to influence the way the classes are taught. It's inevitable that biases creep into everything we do.

So our institutes of higher learning become hotbeds for leftist thought. Those with a college education tend to vote more liberally. Perhaps there's a connection.

In today's age of tolerance and acceptance, our colleges and universities should embrace diversity of thought and acceptance of alternative ideologies. Provide a forum for open debate and let students come to a conclusion on their own. There's nothing wrong with adapting a liberal mindset.

Sooner or later, everyone comes to see that the conservatives were right... again.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Iraq Pullout?

According to Robert Novack of the Sun Times claims that Secretatry of State Condoleezza Rice will push for removal of U.S. forces in Iraq, even if things aren't "perfect".

Iraq has proven costly for the United States as casualties have mounted to over 1600 and over 200 billion dollars have been spent. The sooner we get out of there, the better, provided Iraqi security forces can take over for us.

While Bush would love to stick around until democracy is running smoothly--as the neo-cons promised would happen quickly--he must soon face reality. What's done is done, and the time is quickly approaching to give the Iraqi people their country back.

The interesting part will be the coming political fallout. Will Bush heed the cries of the neo-cons for a Wilsonian spread of democracy and continue with the agenda he set out in his State of the Union speech? Or will he learn the lesson from Iraq: war is the high price of empire?

Despite protests to the contrarty, an engaged isolationism works. An interventionist neo-con policy will only serve to destroy this country. As Madison penned many years ago, "Such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

In other words, avoid war at all costs or incur
a violent death. It is time we toss aside this notion that we are to be the noble policeman of the world. Let's leave Iraq and avoid such mistakes in the future.

Bush must learn from history, or risk driving this once mighty Republic into the ground.

The Intelligent Blogger’s Guide to Communism and Socialism

I'm posting this on my blog and this one in the interests of education.

By the title of this piece, I don't mean to say that anyone who takes issue with it is not 'intelligent'. Rather, it's a reference to the old George Bernard Shaw book The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism.

For about a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, no one mentioned Communism at all. It looked like neo-liberal economics had won us the Cold War and would provide us with unlimited prosperity forever. In recent days, however it has become common for even middle-of-the-road economists and business-review writers to insert an awkward hymn to free enterprise in their articles, even when discussing less-than-momentous issues such as the local sales tax or whether the minimum wage should be $6 or $7. Some of those economists are simply paranoid. Others are scared.

Yet scared of what? Left unsaid in all this is a coherent conception of what communism is, both as a system of organizing labor and a philosophy. Instead, communism is simply the great evil Other, the thing our Enemies believed in, but we, as good Americans, did not. Fascism is much the same; people know fascism is bad, but they don’t exactly know what it is or why it lead to such terrible things. But that’s an issue for another day.

So what is communism?

Most people would respond that it can be summed up in the phrase ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Marx was fond of that expression, but he also said “If communism can be defined in a single sentence, it is: the abolition of private property, or capital”. All means of production which were once privately owned would revert to public – not State – ownership. Education, transport, and communication would be free. All industry would also be organized into co-operative ventures known as syndicates where the factories, the workshops, the farms, etc.- would be placed under the democratic control of those who worked them. Smaller items such as clothes, furniture, jewelry and so on would be counted as personal,not private property, and would in any case lose their rarity, and thus their value. Once all this was achieved, the state would be irrelevant, and simply wither away as people ceased to support or take notice of it.

To give you an idea of what that would be like, think of the National Mall in Washington DC. All the museums and monuments are free of charge. Why? Because they belong to the American people; to all of us. It is this kind of spirit that communism tries to spread in all parts of society.

Various sub-divisions of the Marxist branch of political thought include:

Communism – Officially expresses contempt for representative government (though they often run for office anyway), seeking instead to establish the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, where the working class would take total control, and what is to be done with the old order is not quite clear. In my opinion, the weakest and most easily abused part of Marx’s thesis.

(Democratic) Socialism – Attempts for a peaceful and democratic shift away from capitalism, while slowly re-organizing society along the way. It can be encapsulated in old Clause IV of the British Labour Party Constitution, which states that its goal is “To secure for the workers by hand and by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.”

Democratic Socialism is often but inaccurately used interchangeably with Social Democracy, aka Welfare Statism, though social democracy always seeks to leave the capitalist system running for the time being, but takes a large proportion of the income generated and redistributes it in the form of public services (health care, free education, unemployment insurance, trade union rights, etc.) from the top down, instead of the bottom up, which is the usual way. Social democracy operates on the idea that there are enough resources in the world, even under capitalism, to keep everyone in at least modest comfort and security

I personally am not a communist; I’d define myself as a social democrat who thinks syndicalism is worth a try. Even so, these are important concepts to understand.

These three schools of political thought rarely see eye to eye, and so one is sometimes faced with the spectacle (In Italy and France especially) of the Communists and Socialists achieving large majorities in parliament but being unable to form any kind of working coalition.

What constitutes any one of these parties varies widely from place to place, and to declare ‘communism’ a defunct and dangerous ideology because of the actions of the Communist party in this or that country is somewhat akin to denouncing democracy because you disapprove of the American Democratic Party.

The biggest objection to this system is the one raised by Churchill, who said that ‘No socialist system can be established without a political police; some form of Gestapo.’. To many, the whole system just seems too forced. In a free-market society, surely there is less coercion? It depends on what counts as ‘coercion’; if you include farmers being forced off their land, tenants kicked out of their homes, people left to waste away from starvation or lack of medical care, and soldiers sent to fight unnecessary wars, then there’s still plenty of coercion to be found in capitalistic societies. The most common form of exploitation – one so pervasive we barely even notice it anymore - involves Marx’s theory of ‘surplus labor value’, the idea that workers work harder and produce more but don’t get richer because their bosses steal the profit. This one is rather hard to deny, as it is the idea on which all modern commerce is based.

If you’re going to bring up a ‘Gestapo’, think for a moment about the function of the police force and the prisons. They say that possession is 9/10 of the law; probably that’s an understatement. How many are in prison because they didn’t respect private property? Drug use (government monopoly on a substance), armed robbery, theft, extortion, embezzlement… Under a socialist system, there can’t be theft on a massive scale if everything is cooperatively owned, nor on a small scale if commodities are provided to whoever wants them.

Yet what of the sociopaths; the child molesters, the rapist, the murderers? A good question, and most socialist thinkers admit that some form of containment and rehabilitation apparatus would need to be kept in place even in the most equal society. Still, emptying 90% of the prisons would be a marked improvement.

Under any form of government, of course, people are going to be forced to do things they don’t want to do, but how often and to what degree can vary widely.

So, how have these principles worked in the real world?

Attempts at state communism:

Russia – Originally, the Russian Revolution was founded on a system of soviets, or councils, composed of workers, peasants, soldiers, and scholars holding control at all levels (local, regional, industrial etc.). Lenin made the system meaningless by forbidding non-Bolsheviks from taking part in the soviets, and Stalin went even further in his program of mass collectivization and state control. Most workers and farmers, however, were committed to the idea of worker control and resisted, leading to mass starvation and the purging of dissidents. After WWII, the Soviet Union extended its influence across eastern Europe, forcing all local economies to serve the needs of Russia. A planned economy was far too clumsy to deal with such a large region and such diverse issues, and the whole system fell apart in 1989.

China – Under the control of the right-wing Kumintang rents had gone up, the Japanese had ravaged the country with impunity, and disorder reigned in the countryside. The Chinese Communists promised to put in end to that, and to deal with the crippling poverty so endemic in China. In the beginning, they did. The first 5-year plan was a great success, but Mao embarked on a number of ill-conceived programs such as the Great Leap Forward, which forced millions of farmers to do industrial work in which they had no skill or training. In 1966, Mao found his influence slipping and launched a ‘Cultural Revolution’ to root out ’imperialist influence’ and dissent. Exactly how many died and were imprisoned is unknown, but it undoubtedly runs into the millions. In 1976 Deng Xiaoping took control and began a program of encouraging foreign investment and economic development Now, China is what could better be called ‘state capitalism’, with millions of people forced to work in slave-labor conditions to work in factories and assemble goods for China’s mammoth manufacturing sector. The CCP refers to this as a ‘socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics’, whatever the hell that means.

North Korea – I’d hesitate to call this ‘communist’ in any sense of the word, as no aspects of the philosophy are recognizably present. I think N. Korea should be filed under ‘Psychotic Dictatorship.’

Attempts at social democracy:

Britain – After World War II, the returning soldiers decided that they’d had enough of war, unemployment, and poverty. Public planning and enforced egalitarianism had kept Britain going through the war, and now it would sustain them in peace also. Clement Attlee was swept into power and immediately went about forming a ‘mixed’ economy where state-owned businesses and public services existed along with private enterprise. Quoting Blake, he declared “I shall not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, till we have built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.” It was an act of renewal that re-built the country from the bottom up.

The United States – During the Great Depression, president Roosevelt pushed through a series of redistributive programs, most notable Social Security, which was instrumental in saving millions of the elderly and infirm from poverty. After WWII, the GI bill assured American servicemen of a college education, laying the groundwork for the rise of the American middle class. During the 60’s, Lyndon Johnson attempted to revive the Reconstruction through a program of civil rights and expanded social programs, including Medicaid and Head Start. Lately, all of the above programs have come under attack on the basis that they value the welfare of poor Americans over America’s corporate interests.

Sweden – The Welfare State to the max. Fee education, free health care, old-age pensions, and far more. Sweden has one of the highest taxation rates in the world, but also the highest standard of living. Nu, so who said there wouldn’t be trade-offs?

Attempts at ‘real’ socialism:

Israel – When Israel was founded in 1948 by an alliance of socialists and liberals, one of the most striking features of the new nation was the preponderance of kibbutzim, cooperative agricultural/manufacturing communities where ‘Israeli’ culture was stressed over Judaism, and children lived separately from their parents. During the 1970s, unfortunately, someone had the bright idea to try and standardize the kibbutzim, ruining their independent character and leading to a dramatic decline in kibbutz populations.

Spain – At the beginning of the 1930s Spain was under the control of an alliance of Anarchists, Socialists, communist, and middle-class liberals united against the military mutiny led by Francisco Franco. Of these groups, it was at first the Socialists and the Anarcho-syndicalists who had the greatest influence, and George Orwell describes the society they were building in his book Homage to Catalonia:

[W]hen one came straight from England the aspect of Barcelona was something startling and overwhelming. It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle… Every shop and cafe had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized; even the bootblacks had been collectivized and their boxes painted red and black. Waiters and shop-walkers looked you in the face and treated you as an equal. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared. Nobody said 'Senior' or 'Don' or even 'Usted'; everyone called everyone else 'Comrade' and 'Thou', and said 'Salud!' instead of 'Buenos dias'. Tipping was forbidden by law; almost my first experience was receiving a lecture from a hotel manager for trying to tip a lift-boy. There were no private motor-cars, they had all been commandeered, and all the trams and taxis and much of the other transport were painted red and black… And it was the aspect of the crowds that was the queerest thing of all. In outward appearance it was a town in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist. Except for a small number of women and foreigners there were no 'well-dressed' people at all. Practically everyone wore rough working-class clothes, or blue overalls, or some variant of the militia uniform. All this was queer and moving. There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for.

Alas, the Soviet Union had decided that, if there was going to be a Communist revolution in Spain, they wanted to control it. So, they gave military aid to the Spanish Communist party (the P.S.U.C.) in return for suppressing the Anarchists and Socialists. With the Communists fighting their allies and the bourgeoisie collaborating with Franco, the internal strife was sufficient to give the Spanish Fascists and their Nazi backers the upper hand. Democracy didn’t return to Spain until 1975, after Franco’s death.

Paris – The Paris Commune, which ruled Paris under a system of participatory democracy for the brief period from the end of March 1871 to the end of May of the same year, was Marx’s ideal. During its short reign, rents were reduced, the death penalty abolished, work hours limited, conscription was ended, established widow’s pensions, separated Church from State and granted more equal legal status to women. It was all too good to last, and almost immediately after it was founded the Paris Commune was attacked by French troops fighting on behalf of their Prussian rulers. Yet the Commune lives with us today in its song the Internationale, the anthem of socialist parties every

Arise, you workers from your slumbers
Arise, you wretches of the earth.
For reason in revolt now thunders
And a better world’s in birth.
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses no more in thrall
We'll change henceforth the old tradition
We have been naught, we shall be all.

So comrades, come rally
For this is the time and place
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction
On tyrants only we'll make war
The soldiers too will take strike action
They'll break ranks and fight no more
And if those cannibals keep trying
To sacrifice us to their pride
They soon shall hear the bullets flying
To the generals on our own side.


No savior from on high delivers
No faith have we in prince or peer
Our own right hand the chains must shiver
Chains of hatred, greed and fear. When we fight, provoked by their aggression
Let us be inspired by life and love
For though they offer us concessions
Change will not come from above.


Capitalism is the best system for generating wealth. But it’s not a system that, unmoderated, human beings can live in. Even in its less radical manifestations, the principles of socialist thought are responsible for most of good one finds in society. The goal of socialism should never be anything other than to free everyone from hunger, poverty, infirmity, and alienation. Libertarian capitalists claim that a generous spirit of Christian giving is all that is sufficient to care for the downtrodden of society. Laying aside the Marxist character of many Christian texts (though I suppose one might refer to the Christian character of Marxism) charity is not systematic, and its chief concern is not to improve the welfare of the suffering but to assuage the conscience of the philanthropist.

If that is your primary concern, it is impossible to see the United States after the New Deal, Britain after the introduction of the Welfare State, Israel after the founding of the secular Marxist nation (and even China, Russia, Vietnam and Cuba in the brief years right after their respective revolutions) without being overwhelmed by the fact that this is better. People had decided that they didn’t want to be governed by a gang of criminals and gamblers anymore; they simply want to live their lives without interference, which is what 99% of them would be doing anyway if the State hadn’t come along and interposed its own will. Since then, of course, there has been decay and strife, yet it is hard to find someone who wants to entirely go back to things the way they used to be.

Needless to say, this represents a very biased and simplified view of what are incredibly complicated issues. Feel free to use the links below for more information:

The Communist Manifesto
Communism on Wikipedia
The Socialist Internationale
The Principles of Communism

And for the opposition:

Crimes of Communism
The Museum of Communism

Border Relations

I don't often post about the U.S. soccer team. To be blunt, I couldn't care less about them. That being said, something interesting happened when the U.S. team traveled to Mexico.

Fox Sports Article

"The crowd booed the U.S. national anthem and a spattering of fans chanted "Osama! Osama!" before play started, and shortly after Lewis' goal."

How tactful.

See, maybe it's just me, since, I have the audacity to think America is the greatest country on God's green earth, but this is worrisome. I don't even expect Mexicans to be thrilled with us, but I don't think it's too much to ask them to show some respect for their northern neighbors.

We let in many millions of Mexicans a year--both legally and otherwise--and it doesn't have to stay that way. It would be interesting to see their reaction if we scrapped NAFTA and actually enforced our immigration policies.

While it may be fair to say that businesses dependence on cheap labor will prevent us from having any kind of immigration reform, this story is still important. I think it is safe to say that American policies are not overtly anti-Mexican. Sure there are issues, but I wouldn't list Mexico as one of the countries most harmed by the United States.

Yet they still hate us. Interesting. Could it be that global hatred of the United States is something that exists irregardless of Bush's foreign policy?

When it comes down to it, we'd like to get along with everyone, but this utopia falls far short of reality. So we make the best decisions for us, and let the world think of us what they will.

Still, it couldn't hurt to secure the borders.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Roast the Environmentalists

I personally am all for this proposal:

With all the fuss over global warming, we should circulate census forms asking each person if they believe humans are causing global warming. If they believe, we should cap the amount of gasoline they use per month. If they over-use, they should be taxed for the damage they are doing to our planet.

All the false show-environmentalism I see everywhere should evaporate fairly soon.

If anyone objects, I ask you: Why are you burning fossil fuels? And why do you hate mother nature?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Universal Healthcare

According to a recent USAToday Poll, "8 in 10 in the poll said it is more important to provide health care coverage for all Americans even if it means higher taxes, than to hold down taxes but leave some people uncovered."

Oh how times have changed. In a recent piece, Larry Elder bemoans the entitlement mentality many Americans now have. He then tells this story:

Congressman Davy Crockett [Whig-Tennessee] told a reporter in 1834 that he learned about limited government the hard way. Crockett, back from Washington, D.C., where he had voted in favor of $20,000 relief for victims of a large Georgetown fire the previous winter, encountered a local constituent plowing his field. The farmer, giving Crockett a cold reception, admitted voting for Crockett previously, but said, "You had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again." The farmer then lectured Crockett on the Constitution, demanding to know where the document grants the authority to give away public money in charity.

Crockett was lectured over the spending of twenty grand due to a fire. Today, only two out of ten offer a similar lecture due to the untold billions spent on a carte blance entitlety.

Americans today just don't seem to care about whether or not the Constitution even allows a "universal"--read: socialist-- healthcare system. Despite the governments abysmal record at solving problems, the American people seem willing to trust the government to run this massive system.

What has happened to us? We have either forgotten, or outrightly ignored our great Constitution. Why have we rendered as obsolete a document that has guided us so well these last two hundred plus years? There are no simple answers.

Another historical lesson: a woman approached Benjamin Franklin as he was leaving what was to be called the Constitutional Convention. She asked him what kind of government we had. "A republic," he replied, "if you can keep it."

As Americans allow the government a larger role in our lives, our republic will begin to fade. Healthcare may seem like a good idea today, but twenty years from now, the people may sing a different tune. Prudence calls us to limit the government's power, or lose the republic.

I'd just as soon keep it.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Dean is Wrong... Again

Howard Dean was in Canada recently, spreading his message: "The majority is on our side. We need to figure out how to talk differently about these issues."

Toronto Star Article

May I suggest an alternative hypothesis?

I realize Dean isn't going to admit that he's wrong on the issues, but to say that "the majority is on our side" sounds a bit far-fetched to me.

Consider the evidence: Bush is widely recognized, however falsely, for destorying the Clinton boom. While unemployment was historically low, there was a sense that all this "out-sourcing" didn't loom well for the economy. The Dow and Nasdaq were much lower than when Bush took office, and Bush's tax cuts had created few jobs.

Then there was Iraq. Popularity for Bush's war has diminished from the beginning, and he was far short of a mandate when it started. Historically, the two most important factors in a presidential election are the economy and war, or lack therof.

Yet Al Gore was unable to ride the Clinton economy into the White House. John Kerry then faltered four years later against a President who wasn't all that popular.

Maybe it's not the message. Maybe, the people of this country are just more "conservative" than Dean thinks. Maybe Americans identify with that simple cowboy from Texas because of his message.

For now, Americans seems to prefer to associate with the elephant. After all, aside from eight years under Clinton it's been almost thirty years since the last Democrat occupied the White House.

Dean can spin it anyway he wants, but Americans aren't quite ready for socialism just yet. If the majority were truly on his side, one would think his party would win once in awhile. As it is, his party, and his ideas, are esteemed by a minority in this country.

All the rhetoric in the world won't change that.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Roast the Chickenhawks

I personally am all for this proposal:

At the beggining of any major US military atcion we circulate census formers asking each person if they support said action. If they do, and are fit enough, they should be immediately drafted in the armed forces. If they are unfit, their tax rate should be doubled, to cover the cost of the war.

All the false show-patriotism I see evrywhere should evaporate fairly soon.

If anyone objects, I ask you: Why aren't you in Iraq? And why do you hate the troops?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Republicans Leadership and Terry Schiavo

A judge has ordered that Terry Schiavo's feeding tube can be removed, and last minute efforts by Congressional Republicans have, thus far, failed to save Terry's life. It appears that the clock has finally run out on Schiavo, although it's not over until it's... over.

MyWayNews Article
MyWayNews Article II

According to Peggy Noonan (Noonan Editiorial), the Republicans could see some backlash on this one. After all, the Republicans are in charge of the White House, and have majorities in both the House and Senate. If with all this power they still can't manage to save Schiavo's life, it speaks volume of Republican leadership.

This is a big issue to a large segment of the Republican base. For on social issues, the religious right has let it be known that they are staunchly pro-life. Terry deserves to live. Agree or not, one has to pay attention. Pro-lifers are passionate about their cause, and expect their leaders to hold the same passion.

Will this be the final straw for Republicans? That is, will pro-lifers leave a party that is, quite frankly, not as commited to life issues as they are? Only time will tell, although the religious right has been extremely loyal, and a mass exodus would be a surprise, if completely warranted.

The Republican party has sold principles for power. When the base finally understands this, they will leave.

And the Republicans will have only themselves to blame.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Oil Prices and ANWR

Crude oil has surpassed 56 dollars a barrel for the first time ever. Some reports have the price reaching as high as 80 dollars a barrel by summer's end.

Yahoo Article

Who benefits from these high prices? I don't wish to lump myself with anyone who would suggest a conspiracy here, but the question is still valid.

Recall during Bush's first term when he tried, unsuccessfully to persuade Congress to allow drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Suddenly crude oil prices are skyrocketing and gas prices nation wide are averaging over $2.15 per gallon.

When prices escalate this summer, Congress may find itself less reluctant to give Bush the go ahead. Hit Americans in their pocketbook and they will act. If gas tops 3 bucks a gallon, preserving the Arctic will suddenly seem less important than filling up that SUV.

Bush may find getting Congress to approve drilling in ANWR a tad bit easier this time around.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Conservative Activists?

Eventually, Rehnquist has to retire. The Nixon appointed Supreme Court Justice has been there for what seems like forever. All signs point to the current Chief Justice stepping down following this Supreme Court session. When that happens, watch out.

The Democratic Party is going to do everything they can to prevent Bush from appointing an "activist" judge.

Time out. A conservative activist judge would do what? Overturn Roe vs. Wade as judicial activism? Last I checked the Constitution was silent on abortion. Ergo, it's a states issue.

Recently a conservative court--seven out of nine justices were appointed by Republicans--ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional for minors. Justice Antonin Scalia, who is rumored to be in line as the next Chief Justice, was upset with the court.

Yahoo Article

Scalia blamed the five justices who came down against the death penalty for using "evolving notions of decency" as their reason for making a personal decision. He wondered aloud why the citizens would want nine lawyers to decide the fate of this country.

So let me get this straight. Scalia, who is arguably the most conservative judge on the bench is perturbed that justices have used their power for personal gain. He urges a more hands off approach. What's the threat from a conservative judge?

A conservative justice is not an activist one. She would allow the legislative process to do it's work. In other words: let the people decide the rules that govern them.

The Supreme Court has become a battering ram for liberal social revolution. Despite fears to the contrary, conservative justices are not going to stage a counter-revolution. As long as conservatives continue to play by the rules--read: actually bother to use the Constitution in decisions--liberals will get their way on the social front.

The high road is a lonely one.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Illegals, Power Plants, and Other Harmless Things

Call them xenophobes, but Michael Savage and Pat Buchanan may be right. Lax border control will one day hurt this country badly, and the evidence of our vulnerability is here.

Washington Times Article

Illegal aliens were able to gain employment at a Florida nuclear facility using false social security numbers. Representative Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican is clamoring for action.

According to the Times: "...the incident illustrated the need for the Senate to pass the REAL ID act, which passed the House in February and sets national standards for the use of driver's licenses in federal facilities -- an incentive for states to make sure applicants are in the country legally."

Not bad, but here's a better idea: don't let the illegals into the country to begin with. Put U.S. armed forces on the border. If we don't have sufficient numbers to do this, we may need to quit over-extending U.S. troops.

Corporations demands for cheap labor have paralyzed the government from doing it's duty to protect the borders of the United States. Perhaps this will serve as a wake up call to our representatives. Being a stooge to special interests ensures reelection, but it's a poor excuse for civic responsibility.

Maybe being hit again will be the only thing that will wake this country up. Until we secure our borders we will not be safe. And while absolute safety is only an illusion of a utopian society, it's still a good goal to strive for.

Instead of trading liberty for safety--read: Patriot Act--we should encourage any measure that increases safety without diminishing liberty. Enforcing laws restricting immigration is a neccesart measure for any country, and one that we should not take to so lightly.

Unless we're not bothered with illegals in nuclear power plants. If that's the case, keep fiddling, but I assure you Rome is burning.

This Is Important?

I am a fan of baseball, and I'm troubled about recent allegations of steroid use among a number of players. Still, I'm a little surprised that Congress sees this as an important priority.

There has to be something else for our representatives to do, right? I don't know, how about social security? There's always healthcare. Or, if they're all feeling really productive, they could always balance the budget.

But no, in today's day and age, steroids are too serious an issue for Congress to ignore. Apparently, our representatives on the Hill can't sleep if a problem exists that the Feds don't have their hands in.

MyWayNews Article

Seven players, including Sosa and McGwire--though strangely not Bonds--have been subpoenaed and, at least according to one Congressman, may face jail time if they fail to show.

The reasoning behind this massive waste of time: "baseball's steroid problem was part of a growing public health crisis that threatens children." Ah, yes, the classic, "it's for the kids" card. I'm not sure when it became government policy to worry about children's role models. Last I checked, that wasn't covered in the Constitution.

Not that we care about that archaic document anymore.

It'd be nice if our representatives, I don't know, did something important and/or useful for a change. I'll try not to be unduly idealistic.

Maybe I should just be happy, they're not actually "working". When that happens, they end up spending our money. I'd rather keep mine.

After all, baseball starts in a couple of weeks and I don't have tickets yet.

Name Calling

Here's something from one of my fellow bloggers:

His "A Brief Look at the Right-Wing Media" post is, well, slightly less than provacative.

So Loyal Achates is a bit more liberal than I am. His qualms with the "right-wing media" are valid. On both sides of the aisle, there are going to be partisan hacks. But does that mean that conservatives are "mentally ill", "crypto-nazis", "whores", etc.?

Such claims are mindless and absurd. It does no good to resort to name-calling. If the right-wingers are as he claims, he shouldn't even dignify them with verbal abuse.

Much like the hand-ringing over Michael Moore by talk radio pundits, the hosts expose their fear of Moore's power by even talking about him. If Moore's rhetoric is made up of lies, than it will be ineffective. Calling Moore fat and stupid is a waste of time and a classless act.

All of this finger-pointing gets in the way of what both sides should want, but secretly don't: an open and free dialogue on the issues. Unfortunatley, most of us would rather cling to our own biases and paint those who diagree as ignorant boobs than explain why they are wrong.

If you diagree with me, you're stupid.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dean Update

I can't say I agree with him, but my respect for Howard Dean is growing. In Jackson, Mississippi as the new chairman of the DNC, Dean said, "The way we're going to win elections in this country is not to become Republican lite. The way we're going to win elections in this country is to stand up for what we believe in."

I wish the Republicans would try that. Although our perspectives are different by quite a bit, I agree with Dean that the Republicans and the Democrats are all too similar.

The Democrats have always enjoyed spending taxpayer money on social programs, at least since FDR. Why then have the Republicans balked on their principles to try to outspend the Dems?

We don't need another Democratic party. The party of Lincoln and R
Eisenhower and Goldwater, has always accepted the task of being the more fiscally responsible party. Has Bush forgotten, or does he believe, as does Cheney, that "deficits do not matter."

Deficits do matter, and so do principles. If Dean rallies the Democrats and usurps Republican power, the Republicans will have only themselves to blame. And though I'm not rooting for him, it is nice to have a leader, who at least claims to stand up for what he says.

One can't help but respect that.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

(Lack of) Responsibilty

The latest evidence of a lack of personal responsibility in America is here.

Teens in Orlando are participating in "garage jumping". Participants vault themselves between private garages some eighty feet above the ground.

And surprise of surprises, someone fell. Fortunately, the teen--the fourth or fifth to fall--was not killed. Unfortunately, his family proceded to hire a lawyer.

Apparently, this is not the fault of the cretin who almost fell to his death. Instead, it's the fault of the owners of the private garages as well as the city of Orlando.

We live in a relatively free society. As such, there are ample oppurtunities to maim oneself however one chooses. It is not the government's role to protect us from ourselves. It is not the owner of the garage's repsonsibility to prevent kids from behaving as fools.

Yet, even though most would agree that this is an absurd and frivolous lawsuit, the garage owner will settle. Even though he is not in the wrong, it is cheaper to settle than to fight it out in court, even if he wins. Score one for the lawyers, again.

Here's an idea: let's find a way to dismiss frivolous lawsuits. Either allow the judge to toss them out, or provide a legal recourse. If the defendant is exonerated, he should be allowed to countersue the lawyer. Overly frivolous lawsuits should result in the loss of the ability to practice law.

Only drastic measures will stop this cultural abdication of personal responsibility.

State's Rights

Last Friday, Howard Dean was in Kansas. As the newly elected DNC Chairman, he was giving a speech about the current political climate.

Dean also talked about the Republicans "diversion" on gay marriage. Yet Dean also reaffirmed the Democratic position on abortion. "The issue is whether women can make up their own mind instead of some right-wing pastor, some right-wing politician telling them what to do," Dean said.

Here's the connection: both abortion and gay marriage are issues that should be decided, not by the federal government, but by the states. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it give the federal government the authority to weigh in on social issues. However, the Constitution does have a much overlooked Amendment called the 10th: "
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people".

Personal preferences must be set aside, for the greater good. When states are the arbiters of social debate, if one does not agree with the principles of a particular state, one has the freedom to move.

Although I am pro-life and anti-gay mariage, I am just as against an Amendment on gay marriage as I am against the courts decision that states cannot make illegal abortion.

The Constitution was never intended to apply to the states. Here's Jefferson on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: "Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in any religious discipline has been delgated to the General [federal] Government. It must then rest with the states. "

I think it's fair to assume Jefferson interpreted the Constitution correctly. Not that it matters. State's rights left with the Confederacy, and with it, the most under-rated compromise ever brought into existence.

The Constitution has brought us this far. Why have we ceased to listen to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers? Perhaps Dean and Bush know better how to govern this great land.

My money still rides on Jefferson.