Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Continuing Story of Our Banana Republic

A year after the voters amended the State Constitution to rebalance the powers between the three branches of government, the Legislature still is violating the law by not getting its members off most boards and commissions. Common Cause of RI details the problem and offers solutions as reported in the ProJo today. (requires free registration to read some articles) Read and weep.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thousands Standing Around

Like the average middle class father that any senescent man my age would be, I have children flying back to campus after the long Thanksgiving Day weekend, and on one of the most heavily traveled days of the year.

As a person in business, I travel a great deal myself, and am personally very familiar with the TSA drill, that is the routine dealing with the Transportation Safety Administration (also known in other circles as "Thousands Standing Around"), those folks who do thorough examinations of 90 year old white Anglo ladies as they wheel chair up to the metal detectors.

My poor teenage daughter was the victim tonight. Mistakenly carrying a tiny pair of scissors designed for clipping nails, she was thoroughly investigated and given a tongue lashing for having the audacity to bring something like that in her carry on bag. The insanity of it all.

Please kindly TSA man, be looking for young to middle aged Middle Eastern men with back packs and beards, and leave the poor little old ladies and teenagers alone.

I had grave doubts when Congress insisted on a Federal work force for these inspectors. There is huge, post office - like inefficiency in what they do. Not to mention the insanity of checking out people from every walk of life, including people like me, who travel frequently, and who are thoroughly inspected every time we travel.

Tonight, as I watched my daughter writhing through the labyrinth, I saw a completely free lane off to one side. Evidently, they keep one lane free for pilots, I guess, and other VIPs. There was one or two TSA officials at this post doing -- you guessed it -- absolutely nothing, while hords of people banging into one another, shoes a-flying, like chaff, are stuffed into the other lanes.

Please, someone, deliver us from this insanity. I see this as another injustice foisted upon us by our enemies - the terrorists, who indirectly coerced our ingenious officials to concoct this mess for us average folk. Only, in this case, I have to admit that the enemy has turned out to be ourselves.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Order in the Court

No, not the Supreme Court, Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts. It was there that John Kerry just recently served as a jury foreman in a civil case. The jury rejected the plaintiffs' case in what has to be a huge setback for the trial lawyer's lobby. It was not revealed if Kerry voted first for and then against the plaintiffs in a highly nuanced analysis of their argument. His fellow juors seem to have liked him and he says he learned a lot. We'll be watching...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Could it be? The murderous al-Zarqawi has finally gotten his just deserts? HT: ABC News and Michelle Malkin. And this on the day when the Projo's lead Sunday editorial, headlined on the front page of the paper version (and now nowhere to be found on was "Why we can't find and kill al-Zarqawi."

Well, ahem.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Little Levity for the Weekend

I planted some birdseed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.

I had amnesia once -- or twice.

I went to San Francisco. I found someone's heart. Now what?

Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.

If the world were a logical place, men would ride horses sidesaddle.

What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?

They told me I was gullible ... and I believed them.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto a freeway.

Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

One nice thing about egotists: They don't talk about other people.

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.

What was the greatest thing before sliced bread? Hmmmm?

My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.

How can there be self-help "groups"?

Is there another word for synonym?

Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all"?

The speed of time is one-second per second.

Is it possible to be totally partial?

What's another word for thesaurus?

Is Marx's tomb a communist plot?

If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.

It's not an optical illusion. It just looks like one.

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Who are you?

No, not a CSI victim, although as time goes on it looks like the trend will be for more and more dissection. What is at question is: Who is the Republican Party? Christie Todd Whitman weighed in with a book and an appearance at the Brown (party on!) Bookstore yesterday as recounted by the Providence Journal.

It isn't surprising, of course, that the Bush Administration is considered conservative even though is has done hugely non-conservative things like attempted nation-building, boosting tariffs, expanding entitlements, and outspending liberals. Neither is it surprising that actual conservatives will get blamed for it. Look for the voters to be bamboozled by this propaganda and elect just the folks who will make it worse. The problem isn't the "fundimentalists" or "religious right" who are just reacting to the trampling they have taken for decades, its the opportunists like CTW who try to advance the liberal-lite philosophy. You know, bad ideas just not so bad as the really radical left and taken at a slower pace.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why we went to war in Iraq- according to Bill Clinton

Bryan Preston, filling in for Michelle Malkin provides an enlightening outlook on the war in Iraq - courtesy of Google. Click Here to read the various reasons we went to war - over 3.2 million of them - from Bill Clinton himself.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Why We Chose to Fight in Iraq

From Jonathan V. Last's "The Last Word," his regular letter to The Weekly Standard subscribers on the President's recent remarks on the war in Iraq and those who cavalierly believe that he lied about WMD to justify a war he purportedly didn't need to fight:

Finally, the president has taken the gloves off. In his speech this morning at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, President Bush stood up and gave what his supporters have been waiting for: a forceful, articulate speech about the war on terror, the centrality of Iraq, the nature of Islamic radicalism, and the irresponsibility of critics who deliberately distort history as a means to furthering their political arguments. It's an important speech; you can read it in its entirety here. But here are some highlights:

At this hour, a new generation of Americans is defending our flag and our freedom in the first war of the 21st century. The war came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001. That morning, we saw the destruction that terrorists intend for our nation. We know that they want to strike again. And our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity; we will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won.

In the four years since September the 11th, the evil that reached our shores has reappeared on other days, in other places--in Mombasa and Casablanca and Riyadh and Jakarta and Istanbul and Madrid and Beslan and Taba and Netanya and Baghdad, and elsewhere. In the past few months, we have seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London and Sharm el-Sheikh, another deadly strike in Bali, and this week, a series of bombings in Amman, Jordan, that killed dozens of innocent Jordanians and their guests.

All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness--innocent men and women and children who have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet, while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology--a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. . . .

First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, their "resources, their sons and money to driving the infidels out of our lands." The tactics of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter of a century: They hit us, and expect us to run. . . .

Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country--a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. And now they've set their sights on Iraq. In his recent letter, Zawahiri writes that al Qaeda views Iraq as, "the place for the greatest battle." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. We must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war against the terrorists.

Third, these militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. Zawahiri writes that the terrorists, "must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq." He goes on to say: "[T]he jihad . . . requires several incremental goals. . . . Expel the Americans from Iraq. . . . Establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq. Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq." . . .

Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions in Iraq--claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom--and, yet, the militants killed more than 150 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of killers--and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this road--that this is the road to paradise--though he never offers to go along for the ride.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We have seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg and Margaret Hassan and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I don't feel your pain . . . because I believe you're an infidel." And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims. . . .

These militants are not just the enemies of America or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and they are the enemies of humanity. And we have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before--in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination--and they wish to make everyone powerless, except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, to control every aspect of life, to rule the soul itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing a future of oppression and misery. . . .

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate--who had access to the same intelligence--voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges.

Bush touches them all. He names the enemy in the war on terror--Islamic extremism; he explains the radical Islamist goals and explodes the bogus notion that their aggression is somehow provoked by the West; he draws the correct parallels between the new and the old totalitarianism; he makes the case for the centrality of Iraq in the war on terror; and he chastises those who engage in dishonest criticism (while supporting the rights of those who are engaged in criticism of the honest variety). It's a home run.

If there is anything missing from this speech, it's a slight expansion as to what he means by the "rewriting of history." One of the tropes which has become common-place is the idea that the war in Iraq was justified in the whole by the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. To demolish this myth, I refer readers to the New Yorker--certainly no hot-bed of Bush support--and this piece by Nicholas Lemann. Here's Lemann's contemporaneous summary of the rationales for war in Iraq:

Has a war ever been as elaborately justified in advance as the coming war with Iraq? Because this war is not being undertaken in direct response to a single shattering event (it's been nearly a year and a half since the September 11th attacks), and because the possibility of military action against Saddam Hussein has been Washington's main preoccupation for the better part of a year, the case for war has grown so large and variegated that its very multiplicity has become a part of the case against it. In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular. . . .

Yet another argument for war, which has emerged during the last few months, is that removing Saddam could help bring about a wholesale change for the better in the political, cultural, and economic climate of the Arab Middle East.

The next time someone tells you that the administration lied America into war with the main pretext of WMDs, send them to the New Yorker.

And let's hope that President Bush will continue to aggressively make the case for Iraq in the weeks and months ahead.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fake, but accurate

Want to make an ironic statement about the MSM? Wear this shirt.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Zogby has liberal US Senator Jon Corzine ahead of Doug Forrester in NJ, but Corzine is polling under 50%. Will it be a bust for Republican gubernatorial races on Tuesday?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

It's Getting Dirtier in MD

A Black blogger from New York who runs a left-leaning blog created a depiction of US Senate candidate and MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in minstrel makeup. He also condemned Steele last week as a "Simple Sambo." See post below. Instapundit wonders if it will affect the election. I say it will end up backfiring, and in the end I predict the retort will be "that's Senator Sambo to you sir," from the first Black US Senator in MD history. Wait and see.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Politics of Racism

The Maryland senatorial race sinks further and further into the mud. Recall how the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Commitee illegally obtained the credit report of MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a black republican running for the open US senate seat next year? Well, the rhetoric is heating up. From todays Washington Times:

"Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black.
"Because he is a conservative, he is different than most public blacks, and he is different than most people in our community," she said. "His politics are not in the best interest of the masses of black people."

"During the 2002 campaign, Democratic supporters pelted Mr. Steele with Oreo cookies during a gubernatorial debate at Morgan State University in Baltimore. "

Michelle Malkin is now tracking this. How far into the gutter can the democrats go??

Anchor Rising serves up some great observations on the cryptic anti-Italo-American-Catholic bias at the Projo: here and here.

Michael Barone also has an excellent piece in US News & World Reports on the problems with Roe, even for the left.

Michael Barone thinks US Senator Jack Reed (D - RI) won't dare vote against Alito. I don't know about that. HT: C. A.

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