Saturday, February 17, 2007

First Rule of Fight Club: There is no Fight Club

So let me get this straight. Democrats can't cut off funds for the surge and for troops in Iraq because it would be politically unpopular to pull the rug out from under the troops and the President. The only way to force a withdrawal without suffering politically is the 'death of a thousand cuts.'

You don't make it obvious what you're doing; you make it appear that your real goal is to ensure readiness and fairness. And you're really careful to keep repeating that your goal is to protect the troops. If it so happens that the administration can't carry through with the surge under these conditions, so be it.

To make this work, here's a suggestion: don't have the leader of the effort do an interview on a liberal anti-war website, explaining that this is just a ruse - and the real point is to force a redeployment to other locations (like Okinawa, I guess):

Stepping up his campaign against the White House, Murtha, chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, told Tom Andrews, a former congressman-turned-activist, in the online interview that he would attach so many conditions to an upcoming spending bill for Iraq that the Pentagon would not be able to find enough troops to carry out the president’s “surge” plan.

The Andrews group, the Win Without War Coalition, is part of a larger federation of anti-war groups sponsoring the site...

“This vote will limit the options of the president and should stop the surge,” Murtha predicted of next month’s floor fight over the wartime supplemental appropriation. “We’re trying to force redeployment [of troops outside Iraq], not by taking money away but by redirecting it.”

Repeat after me, Mr. Murtha:

'We are NOT trying to force a redeployment. That doesn't even enter into our thinking. This is about supporting our troops. We're shocked SHOCKED to learn that the Bush administration can't find a way to execute foreign policy without leaving troops untrained, unprepared, and vulnerable. But really, this is NOT about the surge.'

Do you see the subtle difference?

Here's another bit of advice: don't say things like this:

“We are looking at the possibility of putting language in the bill that says you can’t go into Iran unless you have authorization [from Congress],” Murtha said.

I know you've only been in Congress a few decades, but statutory language doesn't supercede authority granted in the Constitution. If the Constitution confers on the President the authority to attack, then no law can circumscribe it.

If on the other hand, the President seeks an authorization from Congress, then that obviates any previous language saying an authorization was needed.

To put it kindly, your language is irrelevant, no matter how you look at it.

Gee. I can't for the life of me figure out why the Democrats didn't make this guy Majority Leader.

Friday, February 16, 2007

McCain Sings Streisand

I had missed this - completely. Never heard of it. But as far as I'm concerned, John McCain just went up about three notches in my eyes.

Once again, it's about making the right enemies. You may not love John McCain, but if you find yourself consistently arguing on the same side of an argument, you're going to appreciate him more.

Hat Tip: Best of the Web

More Great NASA Video

Take a virtual tour of the grandest canyon in the Solar System: Mars Mariner Valley

Republicans Trying Again in California

The Politico notes that political sands in California may be shifting a little. As Republicans think about Governor Schwarzenegger, and consider the possibility of McCain or Giuliani as the nominee, they think their chances in California might be a little better next year.

The piece makes for interesting reading, and includes a shocking chart. Would you have guessed that the Republican Presidential nominee has done successively better in California in each of the last 4 Presidential elections? I guess victory is right around the corner.

OK, maybe not.


Read about the woman in the photo. Did you know she is identified, still alive, and still paying tribute to our men and women in uniform?

On the Iraq Resolutions

I note that the folks over at the Corner are wondering what will happen to the House and Senate resolutions on Iraq, if they are sent to his desk.

The House resolution at least, is in the form of a concurrent resolution. Such measures do nothing more than express 'the sense of the House.' They are not sent to the President.

The Senate has given its resolution a proper number. It is S. 470. It's basically nothing more than a 'sense of the Senate,' but it does change one reporting requirement - so it's 'real' legislation.

However, I've heard no indication that the House intends to change course, and adopt the Senate legislation - instead of sticking to the wholly meaningless path they're on now.

Update: As I think about it further, I can't imagine that Congressional Democrats will choose to send anything to the President's desk. If they do, he will veto it, and the ineffectual nature of this exercise will be demonstrated again. The Democratic leadership doesn't want to add emphasis to their impotence.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Giuliani & Abortion

Ace characterizes Giuliani's position on abortion:

He's basically parrotting Bush's position, which is, felicitiously enough, my position, and a principled, coherent position to take on the issue. Put strict constructionists on the court to adjudicate not legislate new dubious rights, and Roe may or may not fall, and then the states can decide on the question (and three quarters of states will be pro-choice to one extent or another, meaning women seeking abortions in a pro-life state will have to face the grim decision of a back-alley abortion or buying a Greyhound ticket to Chicago).

This is very close to how I put it a little while ago.

Giuliani is stating no position on Roe vs. Wade, but he's swearing up and down he'll nominate strict constructionist judges. My guess is that he wants conservatives to anticipate a post-Roe world. Ace has done exactly that. I did that too. It's clearly a pretty good bet that lots of other conservatives will as well.

Eventually someone will call him on it. That is, if Giuliani goes around everywhere saying 'I have no opinion on Roe, but I'm going to appoint judges like Scalia, Roberts and Alito,' and his conservative supporters go around saying 'I can live with states setting policy on abortion,' someone is going to put two and two together. I mean, can Rudy succeed by saying 'I have no position on Roe,' while his supporters all see him as practically promising an end to Roe?

Also, credit to Ace for noting that Giuliani's position on abortion really doesn't seem all that far from Bush's. They both support some federal restrictions on abortion (partial birth and parental notification, notably). They both favor strict constructionist judges. And both have made clear their intention not to pursue policies to dramatically reduce or eliminate abortion. There remain open questions that might make clear that they do differ in important ways (taxpayer financing, coverage in health plans, and other potential questions), but until Giuliani defines his views more clearly, I don't see a big difference.

A rose is a rose is a rose. Bush describes himself as pro-life; Giuliani as pro-choice. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're all that far apart - in terms of practical effect.

White House Declares War on Earmarks

OMB made it official today:

Section 112 of H.J.Res. 20 explicitly affirms this, noting that any "language specifying an earmark in a committee report or statement of managers accompanying an appropriations Act for fiscal year 2006 shall have no legal effect with respect to funds appropriated" under the joint resolution. For agencies funded by the CR, this means that unless a project or activity is specifically identified in statutory text, agencies should not obligate funds on the basis of earmarks contained in Congressional reports or documents, or other written or oral communications regarding earmarks. While the Administration welcomes input to help make informed decisions, no oral or written communication concerning earmarks shall supersede statutory criteria, competitive awards, or merit-based decision-making, as set forth in Section II below...

Agencies shall fund activities based on authorized, transparent, statutory criteria and merit-based decision-making (including competitive awards). Federal funds shall be expended only for purposes where the CR grants authority in law for this spending or where there are other authorities in statutes to provide this funding. In particular, agencies subject to the CR are advised to fund activities within each account in accordance with authorizing law, using statutory criteria, such as funding formulas, eligibility standards, and merit-based decision-making. In the application of authorized discretion, each agency shall use transparent and merit-based determinations to achieve program objectives, consistent with the purpose of the statute and Administration policy (including the President's Budget).

Fighting this out on a CR with relatively limited earmarks means that most of the fight will occur behind the scenes. But appropriators recognize that it holds precedent for the regular appropriations cycle, so you can bet they will take it seriously.

Senator DeMint had this to say:

“The President handed American taxpayers a huge victory today by stopping all of the backdoor earmarks Congress requests hidden in reports and through secret emails and phone calls,” said Senator DeMint. “Government agencies now have clear instructions to ignore these congressional earmarks which do not have the force of law. Federal agencies can now use these funds to advance their core missions and serve true national priorities. Without this guidance from the President, thousands of wasteful earmarks worth billions of dollars could have continued even though they were never actually written in our bills or signed into law.”

Read the whole thing.

Democrats Like Business Lobbyists, but Love Unions

Roll Call ($) reports that Congressional Democrats are improving their coordination with K Street.

As Congressional Democrats firm their grip on power, they are opening a regular channel of communication with corporate lobbyists.

Leaders from the new majorities in both chambers have begun meeting twice a month with K Street allies to keep them apprised of their agenda and strategy.

The huddles, organized by the centrist think tank Third Way, are bringing together as many as 80 lobbyists to hear updates from Democratic leadership aides...

Unlike their predecessors in the GOP, Democratic leaders face the challenge of juggling two key but regularly conflicting constituencies: business and labor. While members of those two camps found a few areas of agreement during the previous Congress — most notably on pension and immigration reform — they are ramping up for battles on big-ticket items this year. They already have locked horns on a minimum-wage hike and foresee major clashes over health care, trade and union-organizing measures.

And while Democratic leaders are keeping corporate interests attuned to their plans, they are closely coordinating with labor unions, whose backing helped restore the party to power. On Wednesday, presidents of about a half-dozen major unions met with majority leaders in both chambers to discuss their priorities. Twenty-two Senators, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), turned out for one meeting. Union officials got a separate audience with a full complement of leaders on the other side of the Capitol, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), according to those in attendance.

No one can serve two masters, for he will love the one and hate the other. It's pretty clear whom the Democrats love, and members of the business community go in with no illusions about the support they will or won't receive.

But it's nice to know that once again, while the Democrats promised to change Washington, they're closely coordinating with the representatives of about 12 percent of the workers in the US - most of them government employees. Undoubtedly, these are some of the folks helping John Murtha bleed US forces abroad. Wonder what they'll get for the effort?

New York-New York?

Taegan Goddard notes that Republicans and Democrats rate Giuliani and Clinton - respectively - as the most electable candidate of their party in 2008. Both lead their closest competitors by wide margins.

While both face serious challenges in their party's primaries, this perception is going to push primary voters hard. Each side will see that the other's perceived leader is a real threat to win, and that will make it harder to vote with their hearts, rather than their heads.

All You Need to Know About the Federal Budget contained in this graph from Robert Samuelson:

You frequently read about the growth entitlement spending, but did you know that in 50 years, it had grown from 22 percent to 60 percent of federal spending? Or that spending on defense had done the reverse? Further, when you hear about the extraordinary increase in cost of debt service, remember that it has increased only slightly (as a share of federal spending) since 1956.

Samuelson says:

The table shows the rise of the American welfare state. In 1956, defense dominated the budget; the Cold War buildup was in full swing. The welfare state, which is what "payments to individuals'' signifies, was modest. Now everything is reversed. Despite the war in Iraq, defense spending is only a fifth of the budget; so-called entitlement payments to individuals are almost 60 percent -- and rising. In fiscal 2006, the federal government spent almost $2.7 trillion. Social Security ($544 billion), Medicare ($374 billion) and Medicaid ($181 billion) dominated. There was $199 billion more for payments to the poor, including the earned-income tax credit and food stamps, among others...

The welfare state has made budgeting an exercise in futility. Both liberals and conservatives, in their own ways, peddle phony solutions. Cut waste, say conservatives. Well, network-TV reports of $20 million federal programs that don't work may seem -- and be -- scandalous, but like Amtrak they're usually mere blips on the total budget. For its 2008 budget, the Bush administration brags it would end or sharply reduce 141 programs. But most are microscopic; total savings would be $12 billion, or 0.4 percent of spending. Worse, Congress has previously rejected some of these cuts.

Liberals have their own cures. Cut defense, some say. OK. In 2006, military spending (including the war in Iraq) totaled $520 billion, slightly less than Social Security. If it had been halved, the savings would have just covered the deficit ($248 billion). Little would be left for new programs. Raise taxes on the richest 1 percent, say some. OK. The richest 1 percent pay about a quarter of all federal taxes. In 2006, that was about $600 billion. To cover the deficit would require about a 40 percent tax increase. Needless to say, neither proposal is politically plausible...

It might help if Americans called welfare programs -- current benefits for select populations, paid for by current taxes -- by their proper name, rather than by the soothing (and misleading) labels of "entitlements'' and "social insurance.'' That way, we might ask ourselves who deserves welfare and why.

The 'good' news is, while entitlement spending is accelerating downhill, it's headed for a wall. The growth in welfare spending will be unsustainable in my lifetime, and these programs will come crashing down. I've said in the past that it argues for the 'defenders' of these programs - largely Democrats - to take their problems seriously and try to solve them, rather than continue demagoguing.

But if they choose not to, the only possible outcome is plain to see.

The Science of Godzilla

Galley Slaves links a post on this critical topic. The startling conculsion? Godzilla is not all that realistic:

Little heard of here in the west is the interesting area of Kaiju-biology (Kaiju means monster). To see the sort of thing that kaiju-biologists get up to, go here (please do, you won't regret it). It is said on some Godzilla websites (here for example) that Kenichi Yamane wrote a thesis on Godzilla's biology, focusing in particular on Godzilla's eventual demise (in the 1999 film Godzilla vs. Destoroyah) by way of radioactive meltdown. The cutaway pictures above and near the top are - apparently - taken from this thesis. It might not surprise you, however, to find that Yamane is not a real scientist, but one of the main characters of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. In fact, Yamane is the adopted grandson of the Dr Yamane from the original Godzilla movie of 1954.

How does Godzilla generate radioactivity? Apparently its stomach has mutated into a new organ: the plasma gland [I've always argued for the plasma gland -- the Editor]. Radioactive particles rise from here to be expelled via the mouth during combat, and excess radioactivity is also passed into the dorsal scutes at the same time 'not unlike the overflow guard in your ordinary bathtub', apparently (according to here: this is where the adjacent image comes from). Thanks to its plasma gland, Godzilla continually generates new radioactivity as a source of power, discharging the excess via the scutes and a duct leading to the mouth. This also means that Godzilla doesn't need to eat, and that must be a good thing when you weigh over 24,000 tons. There are other speculations on Godzilla's biology, including on cell structure, and on the mysterious substance known as Regenerator G-1 and allowing him unparalleled regenerative abilities.

Find this topic fascinating? You need to check out movie physics.

Conversely, if you find today's posts tedious... well - it's not like you're paying me for the content.

Cleopatra: Not a Knockout

There are some facts that are better off lost to history. Like the fact that Cleopatra was apparently as ugly as sin, for example:

Two of history's most famous Valentines are gently debunked today by analysis of an exceptionally well-preserved Roman coin, which gives the lie to the fabled beauty of Cleopatra and the manly features of her lover Mark Antony.

Far from possessing the classical looks of Elizabeth Taylor, or the many other goddesses who have played her on stage and screen, the Egyptian queen is shown with a shrewish profile while Antony suffers from bulging eyes, a crooked nose and a bull neck.

Debated for centuries, but with little effect against a tide of romance backed by Shakespeare, Delacroix and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the faces of the couple have the stamp of authenticity on the silver denarius found in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was coined in Antony's own mint to mark his victories in Armenia in 32BC, achieved with the help of Cleopatra's one undoubted attraction, her money.

Sometimes Accidents Are Lucky

Like this one:

Her carefully cultured cells were dead and Katherine Schaefer was annoyed, but just a few minutes later, the researcher realized she had stumbled onto a potential new cancer treatment.

Schaefer and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York believe they have discovered a new way to attack tumors that have learned how to evade existing drugs.

Tests in mice suggest the compound helps break down the cell walls of tumors, almost like destroying a tumor cell’s “skeleton”...

“I made a calculation error and used a lot more than I should have. And my cells died,” Schaefer said.

A colleague overheard her complaining. “The co-author on my paper said,’ Did I hear you say you killed some cancer?’ I said ‘Oh’, and took a closer look.”

They ran several tests and found the compound killed ”pretty much every epithelial tumor cell lines we have seen,” Schaefer said. Epithelial cells line organs such as the colon, and also make up skin.

It also killed colon tumors in mice without making the mice sick, they reported in the journal International Cancer Research.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Democrats Bid Lieberman Farewell

Looks like I was premature when I suggested that just because Democrats refuse to use their authority to bring the war to an end, they did not have a plan. Apparently they figure 'why end the war by ending it, when we can instead embarrass the Republicans some more:'

Murtha, the powerful chairman of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, will seek to attach a provision to an upcoming $93 billion supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. It would restrict the deployment of troops to Iraq unless they meet certain levels adequate manpower, equipment and training to succeed in combat. That's a standard Murtha believes few of the units Bush intends to use for the surge would be able to meet.

In addition, Murtha, acting with the backing of the House Democratic leadership, will seek to limit the time and number of deployments by soldiers, Marines and National Guard units to Iraq, making it tougher for Pentagon officials to find the troops to replace units that are scheduled to rotate out of the country. Additional funding restrictions are also being considered by Murtha, such as prohibiting the creation of U.S. military bases inside Iraq, dismantling the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and closing the American detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

I doubt that the Democrats will be able to put lipstick on a pig. They can couch their proposal in terms of 'readiness,' but as they sell their case to the American people it will still sound like cutting off needed support for troops in the field.

Further, one has to remember that Joe Lieberman has a veto on everything that the Democrats do - particularly with regard to Iraq. If they intend to starve the effort on the vine, it will have to come with his consent. What's the likelihood that he allows such a measure to come to the floor of the Senate?

I suppose Democrats can always threaten to gin up the grassroots and threaten him with primary opposition the next time he runs for re-election.

Yeah. That'll work.

Toward a More Civil Congress

Keith Ellison continues to make an impression in Washington. And the Democrats take another step toward changing how DC works:

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes it is his right as a Muslim to be sworn into Congress with the Quran. But apparently, the freshman lawmaker doesn’t believe it’s Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-Colo.) right to smoke a cigar in his congressional office.

Ellison’s office called the Capitol Hill Police on Tancredo last Wednesday night as Tancredo was in his office smoking a cigar. The lawmakers have neighboring offices on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building.

Tancredo was still stunned a day later. “It’s very bizarre,” said Tancredo, who has never met Ellison. “Seemed to me not a good way to say hello.”

And let’s face it. Calling the cops on a colleague takes the cake for the nerviest behavior so far among members of this year’s freshman class of Congress.

This is how it all went down. On Wednesday evening, around 6 p.m., Tancredo was preparing for his trip to Mississippi. And as he so often does, he was unwinding with a cigar.

Soon enough, however, a police officer walked in to check on the smoke. The officer told Tancredo that the officer came because he was required to do so and not because the officer wanted to. The officer had already told Ellison that Tancredo was permitted to smoke in his office. The visit was more a formality.

Tancredo said he would not stop smoking in his office. “Heck, no!” he said. “If he [Ellison] would have [had] the courtesy to say something I’m sure I would have been more accommodating to his wishes.”

To help keep his office free of impurities, Tancredo has three air purifiers. And he has no plans to meet Ellison anytime soon. “I’m sure we will, but I’m not going to make a point [of it],” the presidential hopeful said, adding that he supported Ellison’s right to be sworn in with the Quran.


Obama: Leadership Through Ambivalence

It's great to have a President who offers inspiring speeches and lofty rhetoric. Unfortunately, it seems critics may have been right when they said it was all that Barack Obama has to offer:

For example, in 1997, Obama voted "present" on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. He also voted "present" on SB 71, which lowered the first offense of carrying a concealed weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor and raised the penalty of subsequent offenses.

In 1999, Obama voted "present" on SB 759, a bill that required mandatory adult prosecution for firing a gun on or near school grounds. The bill passed the state Senate 52-1. Also in 1999, Obama voted "present" on HB 854 that protected the privacy of sex-abuse victims by allowing petitions to have the trial records sealed. He was the only member to not support the bill.

In 2001, Obama voted "present" on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted "present" on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the "Audacity of Hope," on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the "born alive" bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote "present" on the bills instead of "no."

And finally in 2001, Obama voted "present" on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.

Just call him the 'anti-Rudy.'

This is really going to cause a serious problem for Obama on the campaign trail, and I suspect it may be enough to cost him a shot at the nomination. This paints a picture of a candidate unwilling to make tough decisions. Even if terrorism is not the primary concern of voters on election day, people will want a President who will lead on tough issues.

Update: I realize that perhaps I should have expanded on my comments.

The Democrats in 2008 seem to be trying to nominate 'an electable candidate,' and one who'll be credible in a time of war. This failure to take stands on serious issues hands a significant issue to Hillary (and Edwards). They'll note that Kerry lost largely because he was never able to explain his stance on Iraq, and what he meant by 'I was before the $86 billion before I was against it.'

Well, Obama doesn't even know how he stands on abortion, gun control, and sex crimes. And this indecision didn't occur 20 or 30 years ago; these votes were only a few years ago. These will constitute valuable attacks in the primaries - and they'll serve to remind primary voters of Obama's inexperience.

Plus, Obama will now have to go back to NARAL and the NEA, and pledge fealty again to their legislative agendas. That won't help the 'different type of politician' image he has cultivated to date.

This may not kill Obama, but I suspect his campaign just got a lot more challenging.

"Swingers" Offers Dems Lessons on Iraq

The Hill covers the debate on the non-binding resolutions being considered in the House and Senate on Iraq. Ms. Pelosi brings to mind the old adage that you don't need to fear the bite of the dog that barks:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told her colleagues and the country yesterday that the non-binding resolution disapproving of President Bush’s troop surge is only the first step in congressional action on Iraq, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is taking steps to bring the same measure to a vote in the upper chamber.

“In a few days and in fewer than 100 words, we will take our country in a new direction on Iraq,” Pelosi said in her floor speech on the measure. “A vote of disapproval will set the stage for additional Iraq legislation which will be coming to the House floor.”

So war opponents can rest assured: this non-binding resolution - which couldn't win a majority in a Democratic-controlled House without fixing the debate - is only the start. Democrats will do much more. They won't cut off funds and force a withdrawal, because the political price would be too high. So they're stuck with non-binding efforts. And they'll bark very loudly about doing more, and hope that it satisfies the netroots.

While Republican Leader John Boehner has gotten his share of criticism in the early going, he gets credit here. Perhaps he was reading Rudy Giuliani when he said:

Boehner called the measure a “political charade,” adding that “non-binding means non-leadership. It’s not accountable. And I don’t think it’s the right message for our troops.”

After promising change, it's amazing how feckless the new Democratic majority is. With control of Congress and the purse-strings, they're left debating meaningless resolutions that don't command majorities, and wondering how to accomplish more.

Perhaps they need to watch Swingers (language warning):

Trent: You know what you are? You're like a big bear with claws and with fangs...
Sue: ...big ****ing teeth, man.
Trent: Yeah... big ****in' teeth on ya'. And she's just like this little bunny, who's just kinda cowering in the corner.
Sue: Shivering.
Trent: Yeah, man just kinda... you know, you got these claws and you're staring at these claws and your thinking to yourself, and with these claws you're thinking, "How am I supposed to kill this bunny, how am I supposed to kill this bunny?"
Sue: And you're poking at it, you're poking at it...
Trent: Yeah, you're not hurting it. You're just kinda gently batting the bunny around, you know what I mean? And the bunny's scared Mike, the bunny's scared of you, shivering.
Sue: And you got these ****ing claws and these fangs...
Trent: And you got these ****ing claws and these fangs, man! And you're looking at your claws and you're looking at your fangs. And you're thinking to yourself, you don't know what to do, man. "I don't know how to kill the bunny." With *this* you don't know how to kill the bunny, do you know what I mean?

So the Democrats continue poking, and wonder what to do about the bunny.

Update: Another possibility is that their inability to get anything done has a medical solution.

Found: Aggressive, Unpleasant, Green Bridezilla

Mary Katharine Ham has a great post on brides who go overboard being green. Don't worry though, they'd never do anything to make you uncomfortable:

It's like dramatic irony. So amusing to hear them talk about recycled invitations and organic three-course meals without realizing that it's the market they dislike so much and the Western prosperity the market grants them that allows them to reduce their "evironmental footprint" in such silly ways.

How Green Was My Wedding, the NYT headline cried-- a borderline challenge to the rest of us not refined enough to use soy-based unity candles in our ceremonies. But here's the part that gets me. Here's a run-down of Kate Harrison's dream wedding:

Kate Harrison’s idea of a fairy tale wedding goes something like this:

Gather more than 150 friends and relatives at an organic farm for a prewedding day of hikes and environmental tours.

Calculate the mileage guests will travel and offset their carbon dioxide emissions by donating to programs that plant trees or preserve rain forests.

Use hydrangeas, berries and other local and seasonal flowers for her bouquet and the decorations, instead of burning up fuel transporting flowers from faraway farms. Design an organic autumnal menu (same reason). Find a vintage dress to avoid the waste of a wedding gown that will never be worn again.

“It’s well worth it to start your life together in a way that’s in line with your values and beliefs,” said Ms. Harrison, 28, a graduate student at Yale, who is to marry in October. “You don’t want this event that is supposed to start your life together to come at the expense of the environment or workers in another country.”

Now, Kate is welcome to celebrate her day of lurve exactly as she wishes, and it doesn't hurt at all for it to reflect her values and beliefs. It's a statement about what she and her intended (presumably, although he may just be going along for the ride, as many grooms do) think are important, and if Gaia wants to bless the wedding, then so be it. But this part, I gotta take issue with:

Call Ms. Harrison the anti-Bridezilla, whose wedding is all about the planet, rather than “all about me.”

Read the whole thing. It's great.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ted Olson Endorses Rudy

When is the Presidential election again? It's like, 2 months from now, right?


Theodore Olson, the stalwart conservative lawyer and former solicitor general for the Bush administration, told the Spectator he will be supporting Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid.

"I admire his character, his capacity for leadership, his instincts, and his principles," Olson said over the phone this afternoon. He said he will help Giuliani raise money as well as offer advice on legal issues and domestic policy matters that involve constitutional questions.

Olson and Giuliani have been longtime friends since serving in the Reagan Justice Department from 1981-1983, when Olson was assistant attorney general in charge of the office of legal counsel and Giuliani was associate attorney general. Olson said they met with Attorney General William French Smith every morning and worked closely on a number of issues.

The support of Olson should help Giuliani in his quest to win over social conservatives who remain skeptical of his pledge to appoint strict constructionist judges.

"I've known him for 26 years and we've talked about this many times," Olson said. "He feels very strongly that people like Justice Scalia, Chief Justice Roberts, Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas, are the type of people that he would put on the court…I'm quite convinced that this is a genuine viewpoint that he has..."

Killing Time at the Mall

This is pretty funny. Very mild language warning:

I suspect my wife would be pretty angry if I did this.

Make sure you hang around for the barking.

Romney Encapsulates His Problems

In his announcement venue and speech.

Leaving aside the historically interesting but currently morally irrelevant point that Henry Ford embodied some of the more conventional prejudices of early 20th century America's Main Street business community about Jews (as though there were any location on the planet untouched by some human sin), the real problem with Romney's announcement is that he's looking backward for inspiration, but choosing a venue which emphasises the things about the past which bears least resemblance to our current challenges--the technology of the past, and the organisations which were built to exploit that technology, rather than focusing on the timeless lessons of human nature to be extracted from history as more seasoned campaign stagers do--for instance the Obama Camp's official launch in Springfield, IL, under the omnipresent shadow of Abraham Lincoln.

While Romney has far more personal connection both to the auto industry and Michigan manufacturing in general than Obama does to Springfield, the choice of the Ford Museum does not provide any conceptual momentum to any of Romney's campaign themes. Ostensibly, the Romney campaign ties Romney's commitment to "innovation and transformation" to the venue of Dearborn, but the predominant image in the average American's mind of the auto industry today is 180 degrees away from those qualities. The routinely staggering losses at the U.S. auto manufacturers coupled with their stylistic timidity no longer evoke the enthusiasm of the hot-rodding days of the Baby Boomers' heyday. The GTO, Charger and Mustang of the 1960's have not been transcended by new designs, rather they have been resurrected as nostalgia pieces, selling a halcyon past redesigned as sedans (with the Mustang's honorable exception); adolescent boys spend their free time absorbed by electronic devices today rather than rebuilding manual transmissions or installing aftermarket superchargers.

More than just image is at stake here, though. The industrial management model embraced by the Big Three since the 1920's is exhausted, and the bill for the crony capitalism embodied by the incestuous dealings between the auto companies, the UAW and Michigan politicians of both parties, has now come due in full with the imminent retirement of the Baby Boomers who compose the overwhelming majority of the Big Three's employees. The most salient tie which exists today between the Romney camp and Detroit is the urgent need for the Big Three to get out from under their overly-generous retiree health care obligations, and Romney's touting of his management expertise in implementing the massive welfare-state universal health insurance entitlement in Massachusetts. If this is the predominant image Romney wants us to take away at the start of his campaign, every fiscal conservative in the party needs to hold tight to his wallet.

Linking one's stated campaign themes of innovation and transformation to the current state of affairs in Detroit is a staging challenge doomed to failure. Does the Romney campaign really want to hitch Romney's perceived technocratic competence to the flailings of the industry in which losing less than $8 billion a year is perceived as accomplishment?

Rep. Charlie Norwood

Congressman Charlie Norwood has passed away. Our prayers and condolences are with his family and loved ones.

Picture of the Day

This Toughbook earned the name.

More on Duke Lacrosse

America has read a lot about the Duke Lacrosse program over the last year or so, but not much attention has been paid to the story of this alumnus of the program:

Fallen LI soldier a 'friend to everyone'
Newsday Staff Writer

With an undergraduate degree from Duke, a top LSAT score and a laser-like focus, Jimmy Regan would have succeeded in whatever he wanted to do in life.

Instead of taking a scholarship to law school or a financial services job, Regan followed a calling to the military, where he became an Army Ranger and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and two in Iraq, family members said.

Regan, 26, was killed in Iraq last week, though no other details of his death have been released, said Jayne Evans, a family spokeswoman. With mourners filling the Regan home in Manhasset yesterday, friends and family fought back tears in describing the young man -- known to family and friends as "Jimmy" or "Reges" -- each of them called their best friend.

After graduating from Duke, Regan turned down a job offer from UBS, a financial services company, and a scholarship to Southern Methodist University's law school to enlist in the Army, where he passed on Officer Candidate School to focus on becoming a Ranger.

"He said, 'If I don't do it, then who will do it?'" said Regan's fiancee, Mary McHugh, a medical student at Emory University who, like scores of others at the Park Avenue house yesterday, wore Regan's high school graduation photo clipped to her shirt. "He recognized it as an option and he couldn't not do it."

Army Sgt. James John Regan was born June 27, 1980, in Rockville Centre. He graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, where his lacrosse skills earned him a scholarship to Duke. There, while earning a bachelor's degree in economics, he played midfield on two teams that won conference championships and one that reached the NCAA semifinals.

Regan enlisted in February 2004 and spent three years in the Army, earning a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and several medals marking his service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He went to the Army's language training school and read about the countries he patrolled, but remained humble enough to make his three sisters laugh with a Borat film-character impression or explain the region's centuries-old conflict to his mother, Mary Regan, when he was home for Christmas.

He was "a best friend to everyone he knew," said his youngest sister, Michaela, 16.

Regan's stint in the Army was to end in February 2008, and he and McHugh planned to marry the next month. They were to move to the Chicago area, where her family lives, and he was going to become a social studies teacher and coach lacrosse.

Though Regan died in combat,, his family's support for the Iraq war remains strong. Criticism of it, either in the media or by politicians, serves to undermine the effort, said Regan's father, who is also named James Regan.

"What is written in the papers and what is being politicized out there by our candidates is undermining our service," said James Regan, a senior vice president at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a Manhattan financial services investment bank.

"These gentlemen that are out there are mission-focused," he said of the troops. "They're trying to do the best job they possibly can. There have been mistakes made, why even list them? ... You cannot put men in the field of battle and then change your mind and go out as a whip-dog. Let the men do their job."

In addition to his parents and sister, Jimmy Regan is survived by two other sisters, Maribeth, 25, of Manhattan and Colleen, 20, of Manhasset. Funeral arrangements were pending. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

The family has established a scholarship fund in his name. Donations should be sent to the Jim Regan Scholarship, c/o Chaminade Development Office, 340 Jackson Ave., Mineola, N.Y. 11501.

I've highlighted a phrase that sounds a lot like the rationale used by a close and dear relative to explain why he went to Iraq. Fortunately, he came home and is doing well. He too, is a superb role model - worthy of trust and confidence.

Remember stories like these when some Democrat again says - as you can be sure one will - that our volunteer military attracts no one but dead-enders.

We thank Jimmy Regan for his dedicated and selfless service. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones.

Mahmood Ahmadinejad: Blogger

I was told yesterday that Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad has a blog. I didn't believe it until I searched and found it myself. Am I a latecomer to this?

Strangely, Ahmadinejad seems friendlier toward Christians than the much-discussed Amanda Marcotte. (I wonder if John Edwards can hire him as the campaign blogger):

My sincere congratulations to everyone for the Glorious and Auspicious Birthday of Divine Prophet - confirmed and authenticated by Gabriel, the angel of Divine revelation - the Obedient of Almighty God,
Jesus Christ, the Messiah (peace be upon Him)

He was a messenger of peace, devotion and love based upon monotheism and justice. He was raised in His Mother’s hand – Virgin Mary (peace be upon her) – that Almighty God stood her as impeccable and exalted her above the women of the world. The Mother and the Son that in the Divine Sight are reputable and prestigious. And they are positioned by God – The All Wise- at a sublime level.

There's great stuff in the comment section:

Dear Dr. Ahmadinejad, Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I am English and have a very different way of life from yours, of course. Even though I do not observe any religion, I and many like me try to live a life with high principles. Do you think we could all live together peacefully in this world if the Americans stopped aggressive interference in other countries? I would like to think so.
ID ulil amri

congratulation Mr Ahmadinejad! you are very loved by many people all over the world
CZ KateĊ™ina xxx

Dear Mr. Ahmadinejad. Your blog is wonderful!! I want to tell you, that you are good president. Dont believe, that people in Europe are against Iran and you. Most people are with you, but our government are against, cos they are bus-boys of USA. I support you, you ideas are good. I with you. Good luck.
US Phantom Justice

President Ahmadinejad, I appreciate your faith in the people of my nation. It is difficult even for me, a citizen, to imagine that we Americans may have some inexpendible virtues to offer the world. God bring America and Iran closer rather than further

Feel free to add your greeting to the President.

Hat Tip: MEF

Cool Mind Trick

Fooled me.

On Earmarks, Bush Challenges Dem Congress

Congressional Democratic leaders have spoken in encouraging terms about earmark reform, even if they have not entirely lived up to those words so far. When forced to complete the FY07 appropriations cycle at a spending level that didn't allow much earmarking, they limited earmarks. (Although contrary to their rhetoric, they did not eliminate them).

Now as they prepare for the 2008 fiscal year, it seems that a return to business as usual is likely. However, with the support of some leaders in the House and Senate (people like Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn and John McCain), the Bush administration seems ready to push for dramatic reductions in the power of Congress to earmark funds.

Here's the latest:

Members of Congress quietly have been calling federal agencies demanding their pet projects still be funded weeks after they swore off pork-barrel spending, the Bush administration says.

In response, administration officials have signaled they ignore many of those requests -- a move that thrills fiscal conservatives who have called on the president to take that step. But it's likely to irk congressional spending committees because it may threaten 95 percent of pork-spending projects, or "earmarks..."

Even stronger assurances have been made privately by top administration officials to Republican lawmakers who have been pleading with President Bush for the changes, congressional aides said.

"We may have totally changed the paradigm on how the federal government spends money," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, who has led the congressional fight on the issue. "For years, the risk has been on the agency side -- if they don't comply they're going to lose their budget. Now the risks shift to the member..."

Last week, Mr. Bush declared open war on the report earmarks, bringing a foot-high stack of the add-ons with him to a speech in Manassas.

"Let that sun shine in. It's called transparency," Mr. Bush said. "If the members of Congress think it's a good idea, then they ought to vote it up or down and then send it to my desk so I know full well that there's been full scrutiny in Congress..."

Lawmakers are waiting to see whether Mr. Bush follows through.

"Killing an earmark is like trying to kill a snake -- you never know if it's dead or not. But I think we've got it surrounded," Mr. DeMint said.

Mr. Bush has also challenged Congress to cut earmarks in half, but he can't say what that target number is because disagreement exists on what an earmark is.

Rob Portman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, has directed agencies and departments to catalog all earmark requests, and defined them as spending requests from Congress that circumvent the normal competitive process...

This is a welcome change. However, it will cause a major fight between Congress and the administration, if Bush follows through. Republican lawmakers who support the President on this can expect retribution - but it won't be the sort that attracts major headlines. Rather, expect appropriators to fight this one quietly, but vociferously.

Giuliani's Big 'Get'

According to Roll Call, Congressman David Dreier is set to announce his support for Rudy Giuliani:

Rudy Giuliani, fresh off a weekend visit to California, is set to nab the support of one of the Golden State’s most influential lawmakers as sources confirmed that Rep. David Dreier (R) is expected to endorse the former New York mayor’s 2008 GOP presidential bid.

Dreier, the ranking member on the Rules Committee, is chairman of the state’s GOP delegation and his extensive ties to California’s lucrative business community make him one of his party’s leading fundraisers. He also is extremely close to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).

Meanwhile, one of Giuliani’s top advisers was in Washington, D.C., Monday for meetings with his inner circle of House supporters.

Roy Bailey, a founding partner at Giuliani’s New York firm and a former finance chairman of the Texas Republican Party, is heading up the former mayor’s 2008 fundraising effort.

Among those who met with Bailey were GOP Reps. Mary Bono (Calif.), Peter King (N.Y.), Vito Fossella (N.Y.) and Pete Sessions (Texas), who are heading up the former mayor’s outreach efforts in the House...

Dreier has played a key role in the state’s internal Republican politics for years, from redistricting to choosing statewide nominees...

One of Giuliani’s biggest impediments to winning the nomination next year is his moderate views on social issues.

While Dreier is a leader of the California party’s moderate wing, he disagrees with Giuliani’s stance on abortion and other social issues. However, the Congressman is in line with Giuliani on issues of national security, taxes and free trade...

As Roll Call notes, Dreier is influential within the House GOP. More importantly, he is the quintessential 'pro-growth' Republican. Since his election in 1980, he has been an extremely consistent voice in support of lower taxes (especially capital gains taxes), reduced regulation, and reduced trade barriers. If Dreier is on board, it means that business (and folks like the Club for Growth) will be very happy with Giuliani's economic agenda. Further, it's very clear that Giuliani is making dramatic inroads among California Republicans - and is probably far ahead of Romney and McCain on that score.

With regard to abortion, it may be a bit much to say that Dreier and Giuliani disagree. Dreier generally gets 'passing grades' from anti-abortion groups, but that's never been a prominent issue for him. He's partial to the idea that regulation of abortion is largely a state issue. However, Peter King and Pete Sessions will be strong Giuliani boosters among pro-life House Republicans.

Update: Also, Brendan Miniter looks at one issue where Giuliani may be able to appeal to social conservatives:

Mr. Perkins has publicly predicted that Mr. Giuliani's support will evaporate once voters learn more about him. And Mr. Giuliani's track record, both political and personal, may hurt him in the primaries. He's been divorced twice, opposes banning abortion, supports gun control, and for a time as mayor lived with two gay men and (as Time magazine noted recently) their frou-frou dog, Bonnie. None of this will endear him to the party's values voters. But it also may not be what tips the scales in the primaries.

Take South Carolina. The state's influence in presidential politics has only grown since it derailed Mr. McCain's Straight Talk Express in 2000. Two weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani made a trip to the state and struck a chord by speaking to a burning issue in South Carolina--a fight over school choice. This probably won't make the national evening news, but today some 5,000 people--many of whom are black and live in poorly performing rural school districts--are expected to descend on the state capitol in Columbia to rally for school choice. After lobbying their elected leaders, they plan to leave behind chocolates for Valentine's Day embossed with the words "another voice for school choice."

Mr. Giuliani delivered his South Carolina speech to several dozen conservatives. One woman who attended told me she wonders whether electing a president who successfully took on the mob in New York is what it will take to finally break through the entrenched education political culture. Christian conservatives make up the core of the school-choice movement in the state. If they come to the conclusion that Mr. Giuliani is on their side and has the leadership qualities to achieve lasting and meaningful change, he may prove a surprisingly strong contender.

School choice isn't as prominent an issue as abortion or gun control, but it may prove a valuable 'rebuttal point,' when Giuliani opponents assert that he's too liberal on social issues.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Rudy's Weaknesses

The Smoking Gun posts the 'opposition research' paper that Rudy Giuliani's own campaign team prepared for his New York City mayoral run in 1993. The point was to prepare for the attacks that were likely to be coming from the Dinkins team. All copies were supposed to be destroyed, but apparently one or more survived.

I've not had a chance to look at it closely, but what I have seen makes for interesting reading. I was not aware of the circumstances surrounding Giuliani's first marriage, but they sound... interesting:

The confidential 450-page report, authored by Giuliani's research director and another aide, was the campaign's attempt to identify possible lines of attack against Giuliani and prepare the candidate and his staff to counter "the kinds of no-holes-barred assault" expected in a general election rematch with Democratic incumbent David Dinkins. As he tried to win election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Giuliani needed "inoculating against" the "Reagan Republican moniker," the vulnerability study reported. "

The Giuliani campaign should emphasize its candidate's independence from traditional national Republican policies." The final six words of that sentence are underlined in the study.

Additionally, the Giuliani report noted that the candidate needed to make it clear to voters that he was "pretty good on most issues of concern to gay and lesbian New Yorkers" and was pro-choice and supported public funding for abortion. "He will continue city funding for abortions at city hospitals. Nothing more, nothing less." Giuliani's stance on these issues, of course, may leave him vulnerable today with an entirely different electorate.

The campaign study was obtained by The Village Voice's Wayne Barrett in the course of preparing "Rudy!," an investigative biography of Giuliani. In its preface, the study notes that it is "tough and hard-hitting. It pulls no punches." Perhaps that is why Giuliani, as Barrett reported, ordered copies of the vulnerability study destroyed shortly after it was circulated to top campaign aides.

He surely could not have been pleased to read that his "personal life raises questions about a 'weirdness factor.'" That weirdness, aides reported, stemmed from Giuliani's 14-year marriage to his second cousin, a union that he got annulled by claiming to have never received proper dispensation from the Catholic Church for the unorthodox nuptials. "When asked about his personal life, Giuliani gives a wide array of conflicting answers," the campaign report stated. "All of this brings the soundness of his judgement into question--and the veracity of his answers."

Some of this will undoubtedly serve as a useful 'how-to' for primary opponents, so it's in Giuliani's best interest to get it out there early. And while there is some odd stuff in here, it's likely that things like 'He will continue city funding for abortions at city hospitals. Nothing more, nothing less,' will cause more problems than stuff about marrying one's cousin.

Hhmm. Guess there's no way to say that without it sounding strange.

Anyway, I may comment more as I get the chance to look through more of it.

Space Shuttle Returns to International Space Station

And NASA has a cool photo gallery up of the preparations.

Lieberman Gets It. And, He Takes a Shot at Kerry

Michael Goldfarb picks up on something many have missed. While speaking to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, he had this to say:

I cannot speak about the global war of ideas without also acknowledging our struggle in Iraq.

I understand the frustration and anger that the Iraq war has created in America and toward America throughout the world, but I ask that those feelings not blind us to the larger truths about the enemy we are fighting, and about our shared interest in its defeat.

We are fighting in Iraq against the same violent ideology of radical Islam that NATO is fighting in Afghanistan and against which so many of our societies are struggling worldwide. The asymmetrical war of ideas I have discussed is irretrievably bound up in the outcome of the war in Iraq, as our common enemy keenly appreciates-at times it seems, better than we do.

As we have seen in Iraq, America is capable of mistakes large and small, but we are a principled nation, not a pariah nation.

Surely principled in the sense that America remains the indispensable nation in the fight for freedom throughout the world, precisely because we are willing to put our powers-economic, diplomatic, and, yes, military-in pursuit of our principles. But we have not and cannot act alone.

President Putin said yesterday that there is -one single center of power-in the world today. He is correct.

But that power is not the United States. It is the power of freedom.

Freedom speaks all languages and knows no borders. Walls and prisons cannot contain it, and totalitarianism cannot defeat it.

But the cause of freedom does not belong to one nation alone. On the contrary, the greatest triumphs of democracy in the twentieth century were achieved by the strength of our alliances, including particularly NATO.

Today once again our community of democratic nations faces profound challenges, and we have encountered disappointing setbacks.

But these challenges must call us now to remember who we are and what we stand for and to summon the will to defend both.

Rather than falling victim to doubt or exhaustion or division, let us sustain and strengthen our faith in all that binds and animates us-the values of freedom and tolerance and justice and democracy. Let us move forward, united and confident in our ultimate victory-the victory of freedom.

It's clear once again, that Joe Lieberman is the only Democrat who 'gets it.' Ultimately, the battle in Iraq is but one theater in a war of ideas - testing whether the west is committed to freedom and pluralism, or whether they will sit idly by while fascism expands its global reach.

On another note, you have to think that Joe Lieberman is having a great time right now. If revenge is a dish best served cold, he's passing out plates left and right. He knows he can criticize his Democratic colleagues at will, since they need him to retain the Senate majority. And by winning re-election over their opposition, he's shown he has no need of them.

I suggested many months ago that Lieberman would end up voting for Republican control of the Senate. If that is his intent, he could hardly paint a more enjoyable scenario than by castigating his Democratic colleagues at every turn, and then voting to switch control.

Romney to Run for President?


I have received secret intelligence that one Mitt Romney - former Governor of Massachusetts - plans to run for President in 2008. For those who have not heard of him, Mr. Romney is a Republican.

Anyway, despite the fact that this is a well-kept secret, I have learned that he will announce his candidacy tomorrow morning at 9:00am Eastern Time.

You can view the announcement here.

House Dems (Again) Break Promise; Refuse Open Debate on Iraq

The House Democrats came to power promising to restore openness and deliberation to the House of Representatives. It is amazing how swiftly and completely they have broken that promise.

I've chronicled how the Democrats have refused to allow discussion of Republican bills and amendments. Now as they prepare for a vote on the Iraq war, House Democrats want to make sure there's no honest debate, since they would probably lose. Rather, they're going to make sure that the House can debate only their proposal:

A House vote on Iraq this week will be limited to the question of supporting President Bush's troop escalation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Sunday.

Hoyer's comment drew a vehement objection from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who said House Democrats had promised to allow a vote this week on a Republican alternative opposing a cutoff of money for the war.

Hoyer, D-Md., said such a vote would occur later.

"Live up to your word," Boehner told Hoyer. Democrats, Boehner said, "won't even let us have a substitute. ... Give us a vote this week."

Recall the reaction last week, when Senate Republicans voted to continue debating Iraq and the surge, rather than be railroaded into voting only on the one proposal Harry Reid wanted them to. This is a snapshot from memeorandum last Tuesday:

House Democrats are now making it clear, before the 'debate' ever starts, that they are going to block an open debate, and refuse to allow Republicans to present their side for discussion.

Do you expect to read a raft of headlines throughout the major media, criticizing Democrats for their cowardice?

Neither do I.

Disgusting Partisan Response About Seriously Ill Politician

Conservatives wishing ill toward South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson? No - it's nothing to do with that.

Rather, it's a Georgia Democratic official behaving in a disgustion fashion toward Congressman Charlie Norwood. Jeff Emanuel covers it at Red State.

Why MSM Gets Stories Wrong

Patterico helps us understand why the Washington Post blows it:

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post has some interesting advice for journalists:

  • Don’t assume anything administration officials tell you is true. In fact, you are probably better off assuming anything they tell you is a lie.
  • Demand proof for their every assertion. Assume the proof is a lie. Demand that they prove that their proof is accurate.
  • Just because they say it, doesn’t mean it should be make the headlines [sic] . . .

He also advises “reasonable speculation” about hidden Administration motives.

Note that Froomkin is not merely advising general skepticism of all sources, which would be an admirable journalistic trait. He actually advises journalists to “assume” that Administration positions are lies.

The implicit corollary is that journalists should “assume” that Administration critics are telling the truth. And indeed, the Froomkin Doctrine calls for suspension of skepticism when the source is an Administration opponent:

  • Give voice to the skeptics; don’t marginalize and mock them.

There’s nothing there about being skeptical of critics’ assertions, or demanding evidence from them, or speculating about their motives.

I’m all for skepticism, but this isn’t skepticism. This is anti-Administration bias, pure and simple, dressed up as skepticism.

It's amazing that liberals in the media are so blind to their own biases. You would think there would some mild realization that this is the perfect demonstration of why they cannot be trusted to get stories right.

Why Giuliani is Doing Well

Captain Ed offers two notes that help clarify the matter.

Plus, as a friend commented recently, there aren't many people who would throw a $10 million check back at a Saudi prince.

Jack Bauer: Pizza Delivery

This is probably the best '24' spoof tape done yet. Well put-together & very funny. Watch it when you have 6 minutes to spare:

Tim Johhnson Preparing for Re-Election

From the 'bizarre' department. Despite the welcome improvements in the condition of Senator Tim Johnson, there is no sign that he will return to his Senate duties soon. Nevertheless he is preparing (or others are preparing on his behalf), for his re-election run next year. Roll Call ($) says:

In what may be the strongest signal yet that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) will run for re-election in 2008, at least seven of his Democratic Senate colleagues are organizing big-ticket fundraisers in the coming weeks to help him fill his campaign coffers as he continues to recover from emergency brain surgery.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman and Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and five other prominent Democratic Senators are hosting the D.C. events that begin Wednesday and run through March. Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.) is organizing the Wednesday fundraiser in a private office at 101 Constitution Ave. NW, with Reid holding an event on Thursday at a private home on Capitol Hill.

“A number of Senators are holding fundraisers for Tim,” said Drey Samuelson, Johnson’s chief of staff. “We’ve been really touched by the outpouring of support from different Senators...”

“We are excited about the prospect of him running again, and we are doing everything we can so if he chooses to do that, he will be in an excellent position to do so,” Samuelson said. “We’ve gotten calls from different folks who said, ‘Anything we can to do to help, we’re happy to host a fundraiser for you.’”

A Democratic operative with ties to South Dakota politics said the upcoming rash of Johnson fundraisers is a clear indicator that he is preparing to run for re-election and that he understands he cannot afford to waste any time filling his campaign accounts. “This is essentially what Tim would be doing himself if he were able to,” the source said. “It is absolutely right to view this as a pretty strong signal to everyone that he is operating under the assumption he’s running for re-election...”

I guess it's the nature of American politics today that supporters and allies are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the anticipated re-election of a candidate who is uncertain to be able to resume his duties.

Iraq Pretzel Logic and a Sensitive Question

The Washington Post this morning is all aflutter over 'Barack Obama's first misstep:'

Sen. Barack Obama, circling through Iowa on Sunday before returning here on Day 2 of his presidential launch, challenged his Democratic rivals to lay out specifics for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and declared that the thousands of lives lost so far in the war had been "wasted."

The senator from Illinois later said he regretted his choice of words, telling an interviewer that he meant the troops' sacrifices "have not been honored" by an adequate policy.

But Obama indicated in his earliest steps on the campaign trail that he considers Iraq a central distinction between himself and the rest of the Democratic field.

Obama opposed invading Iraq from the outset and has proposed a deadline of March 31, 2008, for removing troops from the country. He called Sunday for other candidates to explain their exit strategies. In particular, he said, he did not see an explicit blueprint for redeployment from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), the early Democratic front-runner.

Leaving aside for a moment the discomfort of saying that any life was 'wasted' - particularly that of someone who volunteered to risk his or her life for the protection of others - is it not fundamental to the Democratic argument on Iraq that those lives were wasted?

Obama said:

"We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged -- and to which we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted..."

"I'm proud of the fact that I was against the war from the start," he said minutes later, drawing a rousing response from the audience as he called the war a "tragic mistake..."

Obama's website notes:

Before the war in Iraq ever started, Senator Obama said that it was wrong in its conception. In 2002, then Illinois State Senator Obama said Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the United States and that invasion would lead to an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

Now 'to waste' is a relatively simple concept. If some 3,000 people have lost their lives in a war that was wrong in its conception, never should have been authorized, and never should have been waged, is it not correct to say those lives have been wasted?

By asking the question, I mean no disrespect to any member of our military - living or dead, active or retired. But if if Obama believes these lives have been wasted - as it appears to me he does (and many other Democrats do), why can he not say so? Is it not a greater indictment of the policy of the current administration to assert that the President has wasted the lives of our men and women in the Armed Services?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where's My Flying Car?

People have been asking that question since the Jetsons, at least. (It's been asked more than 1 million times, according to a google search). At last, the answer has arrived.

You can be forgiven by the way, for thinking that this is your flying car. It's actually the Toyota FT-HS Rocket - which you may soon be able to get for about $35K.

Now if I can just get my domestic ape, I'll be set.

Someone Always Takes it Too Far

You know, I didn't complain about Wikipedia. But this is too much.