Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Abu Ghraib... Still With Us

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) made a very eloquent and compelling speech concerning U.S. human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, on this, the one year anniversary of Abu Ghraib.

Drudge has the full context of his speech.

Essentially, Kennedy indicts the administration dealing with this scandal, and the war at large. He further blames the Republican Congress for abdicating their responsibility to hold the Executive branch accountable. He then calls for an independent commission to get to the bottom of this.

It is a very well-written speeach. Rarely do I find myself agreeing with Kennedy, though, his motives aside, he puts to the forefront an issue we must deal with.

Let the spin and political fallout begin.


House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TEX) has been under scrutiny from the mainstream press for some shady dealings with lobbyists. I have not yet commented on this, because I didn't see how this was a story.

All of Congress is in bed with special interest. We all know that. For skeptics: CBS News Article

"The PoliticalMoneyLine study reviewed 5,410 trips taken by 605 members of the House and Senate. Democratic lawmakers had the edge, taking 3,025 trips, to 2,375 trips for GOP members.

The No. 1 trip-taker in dollar terms was Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the
House Judiciary Committee. Sensenbrenner took 19 trips valued at $168,000.

In contrast, DeLay finished 28th by taking 14 trips valued at $94,568. "

If DeLay were the only one involved, I'd be worked up. As it is, so many of our representatives are entangled with lobbyists that throwing DeLay out wouldn't do a whole lot. Now if there's a way we can impeach everyone in Washington, let me know where I sign up.

Until then, I'm not getting all emotional.

I've harped on this before, and I'll harp on it again. Without term limits, we are never going to have even a vaguely accountable Congress.

Remember the "Contract With America"? Newt Gingrich mobilized conservatives. Republicans were elected throughout the country, taking over the House of Representatives, promising to balance the budget.

They did that then, but a lot of them are still there, and a Republican House won't balance a budget for Bush like they did under Clinton.

Power corrupts...

Monday, April 25, 2005


World Net Daily is reporting some bad news. Seems Iran just might be planning a bit of an attack.

The good news is, gas prices are down for the moment. Yahoo Article

Thank goodness. Americans will be happy to know that our SUVs will be a little cheaper to fill, at least for the time being. Now, onto the real story...

"Iran is not only covertly developing nuclear weapons, it is already testing ballistic missiles specifically designed to destroy America's technical infrastructure, effectively neutralizing the world's lone superpower, say U.S. intelligence sources, top scientists and western missile industry experts.

The radical Shiite regime has conducted successful tests to determine if its Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead can be detonated by a remote control device while still in high-altitude flight."

Here's the really bad part:

"Scientists, including President Reagan's top science advisor, William R. Graham, say there is no other explanation for such test than preparation for the deployment of Electromagnetic Pulse weapons--even one which could knock out America's critical electrical and technological infrastructure, effectively sending the continental U.S. back to the 19th century with a recovery time of months or years."

Makes those rolling blackouts seem rather quaint Californians, huh? Oh, and the good news is, North Korea has this capability, too.

This should cause Ridge to raise the terror threat to the orange M&M. Or was it yellow? I always confuse these things.

We'll just have to watch and see how this plays out. I would personally like to avoid a war with either Iran or North Korea, or both. Hopefully the neo-cons have sobered since Iraq and will be less likely to throw us into another war.

Until then, I'll keep my eyes on the gas pumps. After all, it's very important that we have cheap gas with the possibility of being transported back to the 1800's looming in the distance.

On one hand, a little while without power could build some character. Our soft consumerist, entertain-us-at-all-costs society could probably use it, but I'm rather fond of electricity. The thought of spending "months to years" without it worries me a bit.

Maybe I'll just move to Hawaii.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

More Money For Iraq War

For those who may have forgotten, we are still engaged in a war over in Iraq. To fund that war, Bush recently asked Congress for 81.9 billion dollars.

Yahoo Article

The House thought that this would be too much, and gave Bush less money, only 81.4 billion. Fortunately for those of us who care about fiscal responsibility, the more closely contested Senate wouldn't even give Bush 81.4 billion. They held the line at an even 81 billion.

Thanks senators.

It seems that Bush gets whatever he wants when it comes to spending. This newest bill will push the amount of money spent in Iraq to over 300 billion dollars. That's a large price tag for a misguided foreign policy.

If Congress remains adamant on spending like drunken sailors, something must be done. Our representatives know that most of them will never see any real threat for re-election. Let's provide a threat. It's called term limits, and it's one way we can be sure that Congress provides the neccesary check to Presidential power.

The founding fathers built a series of checks and balances into our government to prevent abuses of power. While no system is perfect, a few reforms will lead to a more accurate realization of the founders' vision.

It's high time we voted out the incumbents who show such blatant disregard for our hard-earned money. The era of balanced budgets is over only because we continue to elect tax-and-spend liberals from both parties who have no sense of fiscal responsibility.

The Iraq war is a failure, and we need to move now to cut our losses and bring American troops home. Spending more money isn't helping. A failed policy is a failed policy regardless of how much is spent implementing it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Homeless People Need Gyms Too

This is one of those stories that would be hilarious, except that it's true. Out on the left coast, some of our elected officials in a particularly uninspiring burst of absurduty have decided the homeless need a new shelter.

Christian Science Monitor Article

"The $17 million state-of-the-art facility boasts a full-sized gymnasium, library, playroom, hair salon, education center, and professional kitchen. "

In L.A., where the shelter is being built, the biggest problem confronting homeless people is that they have messy hair and their abs aren't toned.

There is a reason that homeless people are where they are. Sure, the policy-wonks like to tell us, we could all become homeless, that we're all one paycheck from living on the streets.

This is simply not the case. Even conservative estimates show a majority of homeless people living with a drug or alcohol problem. Many others suffer from mental illness. This is not to say that these people are less deserving of a home, only to more adequately understand the problem so we can find a solution.

If a crack addict doesn't get clean, he won't be able to hold down a job and keep a stable home. Our goal should be to get the homeless clean so that they can become productive members of society. Allowing them to wallow in their condition and be rewarded for it--most Americans don't get to use a free gym--only serves to perpetuate the problem.

Advocates argue that the gym provides a way for those recovering from substance abuse to exercise. Can someone please tell me why they couldn't just walk outside?

Let's put feel-good idealogy aside and deal with the problem at hand. Coddling the homeless is a counterproductive philosophy.

This "shelter" is an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars and an ineffective measure. The fact that this was even considered is asinine. The fact that they went ahead and built it shows just how out of touch some of our representatives are.

Pope Benedict XVI

Despite clamoring by the American press for a more modern candidate, the conclave of cardinals has selected German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to be the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

My Way News Article

Ratzinger, who will take the name Pope Benedict XVI, is renowned for his staunch conservatism. The new pope will not rewrite catholic opinion on sexuality, as some had hoped and others feared.

I wish to offer my congratulations to the conclave for choosing a holy man to lead the church. May the prayers of the faithful be with Pope Benedict XVI as he takes on this important role.

The nomination of Ratzinger is an excellent choice. He will continue to make sure the church stands for all it did under Pope John Paul II. It is good that the Church sees the folly of giving up what she stands for to gain popularity.

The Roman Catholic Church has taken the correct position on sexuality, reaffirmed by the Bible countless times. If she changes to a more modern view, she will have lost what she stood for.

What good for a man to gain the whole world if he forfeit his soul? - Matthew 16:26

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tax Code

Reagan is credited with joking about the tax code, as line one asked how much money you made, and line two told you to send it in. If only it was that simple.

Americans spent 6.6 billion hours doing their taxes this year. MyWayNews Article That's a long time.

The tax code is needlessly complicated and needs to be reformed. While I am in favor of scrapping the whole IRS and instituting a more equitable national sales tax, any move to simplify the current tax code should be embraced.

Each year, the tax code is complicated further as more and more exemptions are added to the long list. The exorbitantly wealthy can spend the time neccessary to take the shortcuts to avoid paying all their taxes. The middle class has no such luxury, and is left with the bill.

If we are going to stick with our progressive tax system, let's at least make it simple enough that the government gets the tax dollars it is due, and those evading taxes can be prosecuted under the law. As it is now, fraud goes by all the time as no one understands the code, even the IRS.

As an example, last year this time, thousands of Americans claimed a slavery exemption. No such thing exists. Similar things happen every year.

It's high time we simplified the tax code, a measure that should have bipartisan support.

Maybe next year it will only take us 5 billion hours.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Capitalism and Consumerism

Saving Aeneas had an interesting post recently, which is not to say that most of his posts aren't interesting. He took an Article which delved into that most elusive of human emotions: happiness.

From his post:

"The political implications of this are obvious. There’s far greater merit in helping those at the bottom than giving more to the ones who already have so much.

Basic healthcare for everyone is better than the best healthcare for a few.

Public education for all does more good than private education for those who can afford it.

The guy who works at MacDonald’s gets a lot more joy from a $2 increase in the minimum wage than your average CEO would get from a new Ferrari."

Capitalism leads to, or perhaps is inseperable from consumerism. Though I am a free-marketer, I despise rampant consumerism. The article was interesting, but not necessarily surprising. Things do not make us as happy as we think they will, and most things don't make us happy at all.

This doesn't mean we are allowed to prevent people from drowning in their unhappiness. Humans are to remain as free as possible, which is why the capitalism system works best. They should be free to pursue this happiness in any ways they see fit--without inflicting harm on another of course. If they cannot attain this happiness, this is not the fault of the government, but rather a basic and incorrectable flaw in human nature.

As noble as it may seem to let the government make us happy, this is neither practial, nor proper. Providing services for some, eliminates the means for others to pursue their happiness.

What right do we have to determine when someone's capital is not necessary for them to keep? Put another way: how can we allow the taxing of one man, to pay for another's happiness? Does the end: making the first man happy, justify the means: preventing the second man from becoming happy?

These are not easy questions of course. Happiness is something mankind will always wrestle with. Yet, without a doubt, we have the knowledge of the system which best allows for happiness.

Jefferson had it right all along, "we are endowed by our creater with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

China and the Marketplace of Ideas

"Ideas are more powerfu than guns. We do not let or enemies have guns. Why would we let them have ideas." - Joseph Stalin

The Chinese government has taken at least this Stalinist expression to heart. New York Times Article An estimated 50-60 thousand villagers protested the pollution coming from a nearby factory. It's tough to farm when the air is unbreathable.

The government's response? "There were conflicting reports of injuries, and Mr. Lu said two elderly female protesters were gravely injured after being run over by a police vehicle."

How nice.

In a related note, the Chinese government continues to prevent access to certain internet sites. My Way News Article "The government is effective at limiting discussions about Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, Tianamen Square and other topics deemed sensitive."

Sensitive. That's a good one.

Still, it's nice to see the Chinese starting to rise up a little bit. Eventually they'll get sick of working for fifty cents an hour and we can count them among the fully industrialized.

Ideas are powerful things, and surpressing them doesn't make them go away.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Hillary Clinton

According to the Drudge Report, a new book about Hillary Clinton is expected to come out this fall. Ed Klein is supposed to give us all the dirty details on the former first lady.

Says Drudge: " ... the coming sales pitch for 'THE TRUTH ABOUT HILLARY What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President' reads: 'Just as the swift boat veterans convinced millions of voters that John Keryy lacked the character to be president, Klein's book will influence everyone who is sizing up the character of Hillary Clinton..."

As a conservative, I dislike Hillary because she espouses a socialist mentality--remember her healthcare plan?--but most conservatives seem to think that if Hillary gets into the White House the world will end.

Please. She can't be that bad. We survived Bill just fine.

I don't know enough about the book yet to determine if it will be a brilliant expose or a partisan hack-job, though Klein is decribed as "liberal". My bet is it will fall somewhere in-between, sell millions of copies and have very little influence.

These kind of books tend to preach to the choir. Hillary is enough of a polarizing character that most Americans, especially the ones who vote, have their minds made up on her already.

In timing with the book, according to World Net Daily, a national campaign has been started to STOP HILLARY NOW. Mrs. Clinton is up for re-election for her Senate seat in 2006.

Like I said, these people really don't like her. Here are some revealing quotes:

"This is not merely a race for New York. It's a race for America"

"Stopping Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most important thing you and I can do as Republicans in the next two years. You could say it's our duty as Republicans."

Uh huh.

The duty of Republicans is to start fielding candidates who actually stand up for conservative ideals. George Bush is doing just fine losing this "race for America" with the help of a complacent Republican Congress.

Looks like 2008 is going to be the most important election of our lifetimes... again.

I can't wait.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Talking About My Generation

I usually avoid commenting on social issues, but this one got to me. My Way News Article

"One in five U.S. teenagers say they have engaged in oral sex, an activity that some adolescents view as not sex at all and certainly less risky than intercourse, a report released Monday said.

The survet of 580 children with a mean age of 14-1/2 found 20 percent said they had engaged in oral sex, compared with 14 percent who said they had engaged in sexual intercourse.

In addition, one thirs of the multi-ethnic 9th graders surveyed said they intended to have oral sex within the next six months and nearly one-fourth planned to have intercourse during the period."

Three cheers for the sexual revolution. We are now so liberated, it's just wonderful. In a day and age when 7 out of 10 blacks and 4 out of 10 whites are conceived out of wedlock here in America, I'd say we we need to re-evaluate our take on human sexuality.

In a related note, the Pope has been criticized for his controversial stance on birth control. See, the Pope encourages abstinence as a foolproof method of birth control. Silly old man, we can't practice self-control anymore. This is the new millenium. Get with it.

Plain and simple, ninth graders should not be having sex. If I'm old-fashioned for saying this, so be it. I am disgusted at the culture we live in, and especially at the members of my generation who seem to have boughten into the "if it feels good, do it" lie.

It would be nice if people would act responsibly once in awhile, but such things are naively idealistic.

The death of the West approaches.

Minuteman Project's "Success"

The Minuteman Project is under way. For those who haven't heard, the Minuteman Project is a group of Americans who are taking time to guard parts of the Arizona/Mexico border in an effort to curb illegal immigration. They feel, as do I, that our government has been complacent in border security.

The Minutemen have reported eighteen arrests. World Net Daily Article

Please hold your applause.

I don't want to seem like the eternal pessimist, but we should take this with a grain of salt. A big grain of salt, as big as the holes left in our southern border. Estimates put the number of illegals in this country between 8 and 10.5 million, with between .5 to 1 million more entering in recent years.

Let's see, detaining 18 per day, 365 days a year, carry the one... I'd say the effect is negligible.

I am whole-heartedly in favor of the Minuteman Project. They are operating under the scope of the law, and are trying to do what the United States military should be doing.

It's just that they're trying to hold back the sea with a broom.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Follow-Up to a Follow-Up

For whatever reason, I failed to read the comments to my Liberal Tolerance post. Thanks to Saving Aeneas for pointing my attention to some "conservative tolerance".

Progressive.org Article
Pandagon.net Article
Daily Kos Article

Then I was told to quit whining, which was not what I was trying to do.

All I ask, is that we try to keep colleges and universities forums for discussion. Whether conservative or liberal, people should be given the respect they deserve. If what someone has to say is invalid, civilly state why this is so. If civil discourse is impossible, simply ignore the closed-minded speaker. Shouting and salad dressing make poor alternatives for tactful discourse.

Which is one of the few things we should all be able to agree on.

Amnesty for Illegals, Brought to You By... Republicans?

Amnesty for illegals is advocated frequently enough, but rarely by Republicans. Bush caught a lot of flack, at least in some conservative circles, for a push for amnesty during his first term. It appears the Republicans have done it again. Washington Times Article

Senator Larry E. Craig, and Idaho Republican, wants to grant amnesty to the estimated 500,000-1,000,000 illegals working in the agricultural industry.

Wake up Republicans! Quit worshipping at the throne of capitalism and look our for our nation's well-being. If we continue to allow whoever gets in to stay, our Republic will collapse. Don't let big businesses demand for cheap labor cause us to cease to exist.

One would think that after September 11th, we'd be a little more leary about who we let in. Apparently not. Despite outcries for border control, such as the Minuteman Project (Fox News Article), the Republican Party has shown where at least some of her members stand.

Hopefully, there are still enough Republicans who will vote against this nonsense.

Liberal Tolerance (A Follow-Up)

First it was Coulter and Kristol. Now it's Pat Buchanan. Netscape Article

This is simply an update on liberal intolerance at American University's. I'm still waiting for a liberal to be showed this lack of respect by conservatives in a similar incident.