Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford

It's always big news when one of the small group of former U.S. presidents dies. This explains much of the attention given to the passing of Gerald Ford. Yet I was still somewhat surprised by it. Ford always seemed to me (someone born in the final days of the Ford administration) to have left a small mark on America. And in spite of all the tributes from his friends and colleagues, I still generally believe this.

However, I do think Gerry Ford made a significant contribution to the Republican Party through the pardoning of Richard Nixon and, for that, some of us should now shower praise. Firstly, don't believe the hype. The Nixon pardon was the right move by Ford in every possible sense of analysis. It was right for America and it was certainly right for the GOP. Additionally, I think the Nixon pardon actually helped Gerry Ford in the 1976 election and it later saved the Republican Party for Ronald Reagan to follow.

Could you imagine Ford in the White House running as a Republican in the fall of 1976 with Nixon on trial across town in a DC courthouse? Could you imagine Reagan out on the campaign trail as a Republican in 1980 with Dick Nixon doing time in the slammer in a Camp Fed prison? We know how the media works, right? It was even worse in the wake of Watergate. The GOP would have been smeared by association with Nixon (even more than they were) and that taint would have taken a generation or more to shake.

Ford took a short term hit in popularity with the pardon, but it soon gave his party (and himself) a longterm gain. Watergate was over. Nixon was gone. And everyone had to move on. And the media and the Congressional Democrats couldn't stand it! That's why they blasted Gerry Ford. And, in a sense, I think it also explains the excess of tributes now as many have realized over time (aided by their collective defense of Bill Clinton) that their words and actions against Ford were nothing but ugly partisanship -- the very thing these same crusaders were supposively fighting with Watergate.

So good for Ford. He deserves to go out on a high note. He lived a good life and aided the betterment of his country. America, and certainly we Reagan Republicans, should be grateful for his decision.


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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Outrage

In a move that surprised few analysts, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong dropped rape charges yesterday against the 3 Duke University students whose lives have been devastated for the past 9 months by this ridiculous circus. The overwhelming body of the evidence consistently revealed that no rape could have occured on the night in question. That's right -- there's no forensic evidence, no witnesses, no DNA, no workable timeline, nothing! The accuser had been hired to perform as a stripper for a party thrown by the lacrosse team. More than likely, she was performing naked for dozens of drunk college kids and her feelings were somehow hurt by comments from a rowdy crowd filled with alcohol and strippers. Imagine that? Crudeness does not a rape make.

Less severe charges remain pending, but look for them to be dismissed too. To sum it up....firstly, shame on Mr. Nifong for bringing these unfounded charges to a grand jury and feeding the media frenzy that surely would follow. Shame on Mr. Nifong for pursuing such a case with absolutely no corroborating evidence of any kind. Shame on Mr. Nifong for waiting 9 months for his office even to interview the stripper/accuser at which point she (naturally) changed her story. And shame on Mr. Nifong for dismissing the charges in piecemeal mere days before Christmas hoping to soften the blow as people's attentions were otherwise distracted by the holidays.

Finally, shame on the accuser -- Krystal Gale Mangum -- for letting your hurt pride shamefully and criminally tarnish the lives, academic pursuits, and athletic careers of these young men. It is people like you who sadly cause victims of real rapes to keep silent and allow true violent criminals to go unpunished.


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

STOP THE PRESSES!!!

SHOCKING new researchreveals that even after 6 years of W, Americans are still by and large warm-blooded creatures!


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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rep. Bob Barr (L-GA)?

I always liked Bob Barr because, right or wrong, he's never been afraid to take an actual stand for that in which he believes. Afterall, this quality is far too rare in Washington. I'd love to see old Bob Barr break the 2 party wall and make it back to Congress as its first Libertarian representative. Sure, it's a long shot. And Barr says he's not interested in running for the House again. But this independent would welcome it and thinks it just might be possible in the right suburban district in the very red state of Georgia.

WASHINGTON -- A former Georgia congressman who helped spark President Clinton's impeachment has quit the Republican Party to become a Libertarian, saying he is disillusioned with the GOP on issues such as spending and privacy.

Bob Barr, who served eight years as a Republican congressman before losing his seat in 2002, announced Friday that he is now a "proud, card-carrying Libertarian." And he encouraged others to join him.

"It's something that's been bothering me for quite some time, the direction in which the party has been going more and more toward big government and disregard toward privacy and civil liberties," said Barr, 58, a lawyer and consultant living in Atlanta. "In terms of where the country needs to be going to get back to our constitutional roots...I've come to the conclusion that the only way to do that is to work with a party that practices what it preaches, and that is the Libertarian Party."


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The ugliness of politics

NB: I wrote this post last evening at the Cranky Con:

Earlier this evening, when it was reported that Senator Tim Johnson had a stroke, my initial reaction, after "that's so sad" was, "hmmm, South Dakota has a Republican governor. That could be interesting." Immediately I was repulsed by my own gut, political reaction. A human being possibly could be dying, and I was contemplating the political rammifications.

What's even sadder, I was not the only one. A cursory glance through my blogline headlines showed that just about every political blog had mentioned the story, and most were discussing the possible political fallout. The Kos Kids were praying for Tim Johnson - not because they valued him as a human being, but because the Democratic majority in the Senate was possibly imperiled. Conservative bloggers were speculating as well.

I suppose that it's just the nature of being a political - what, observer? We're so obsessed with politics that the only thing we can possibly think about are the politics of a man dying. It's probably not completely irrational or abnormal, but it's sad that politics weighs so heavily on our minds that our first thoughts upon hearing the news that a Senator has possibly had a stroke is to think about politics. Quite frankly, it's pretty disgusting. And I take little solace in the knowledge that I was not the only one whose first thoughts were of political matters.

As it turns out Johnson appears okay and didn't have a stroke after all. That's great news. And I'd like to think that the first thought of everyone hearing that news is, "Good for him." But we all know that it probably wasn't the first thing that entered a lot of our heads.

Politics truly is an ugly business sometimes.

Addendum: I just want to add, that I'm not singling anyone out. Repeal has written a post below regarding the issue, and I'm in no way criticizing him for that. I had to go to the Hill today for a briefing and we passed George Washington Hospital, where Johnson is right now, and there were a gaggle of press people outside. And everyone in the car - all "political" types - commented on it, and it has been one of the primary things we're all talking about. In the end, it just saddens me in a way that while a human being's life is in the balance, politics has to be our primary focus. Again, it can be a really ugly, de-humanizing business sometimes.


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I think I saw this on the West Wing...

Not at all taking away from the real serious health problems facing Sen. Tim Johnson, but since the media jackals are already making hay, I thought I'd raise the issue in our little forum here....

In the event that Johnson cannot continue to serve (and you can bet that Reid and Pelosi are watching Weekend at Bernies on loop right now...and yes, I am going to hell for that one) , does our political climate permit the GOP to guide SD's Republican Governor Mike Rounds to nominate someone like Sen. Johnson's challenger (and SD's former Senator, uber-social conservative John Thune), or does the GOP have to at least appear to err on the side of magnanimity and choose a right-leaning Dem (i.e., someone more like Sen. Johnson, who although I don't know well, can't imagine is too far left)? Apolitically speaking as possible, would appointment of a Republican be a complete affront to our Democratic process, or a shrewd and totally fair (based on the relevant law) way for the GOP to capitalize on this "opportunity."


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Real "Activist Judges"

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/nyregion/14courts.html?hp&ex=1166158800&en=fe3c9a6838c497f1&ei=5094&partner=homepage


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Those Multiple Choice Pop Quizzes Sure Are Tough

I've learned better over the years than to overrate these kind of anecdotal stories. However, they're still fun. And if the Bush presidency has taught us one single lesson, it is that perhaps it'd be a good idea if we elected wiser, better informed politicians to office in our government. Sadly, initial indications are that this batch of Democrats may not be much better. We'll see. But shame on Incoming Speaker Pelosi for not selecting the more-qualified Rep. Jane Harmon or better-informed Rep. Sanford Bishop for this critical House chairmanship.

Incoming House intelligence chief botches easy intel quiz

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam - Sunni or Shiite - Reyes answered "they are probably both," then ventured "Predominantly, probably Shiite."

That is wrong. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organization and views Shiites as heretics.

Reyes could also not answer questions put by Stein about Hezbollah, a Shiite group on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations that is based in Southern Lebanon.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Government Spending Antidote

Since I’m strapped for both time and the desire to post more substantively, I’ll simply reprint this little gem from former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) on “pork-barrel” spending.

“If the Senate voted this afternoon on building a cheese factory on the Moon, I would no doubt vote against it. But if the Senate decided, in its collective lack of wisdom, to build a cheese factory on the Moon, I would want engineers from Texas to design that cheese factory. I would want a construction company from Texas, since we have the best construction companies in the world, to build that cheese factory. If we were going to use milk from earthly cows, I would want milk from Texas cows to be used to make the cheese in the factory on the Moon, and I would want the celestial headquarters for it in Texas. But am I for a cheese factory on the Moon? No.”

I welcome you all to comment away at this one.


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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Go Gators!



Though this post concerns college football, it's certainly politically charged. Because even in this landmark election year of 2006, no vote will be more important than the forthcoming poll to determine the contestants of this year's national championship game. And no matter how things shake out with the BCS tomorrow, the good fans of either Florida or Michigan are gonna be pissed. And that's a shame. That said, the Florida Gators clearly deserve the shot at the BCS title. They won the toughest conference in America and did it going 12-1 against the toughest schedule in America. Plus, they rock. Case closed.

So congrats to Coach Meyer and the 2006 SEC Football Champion University of Florida. And, remember, if you ain't gator, you're just gator bait!


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Friday, December 01, 2006

Clancy to make a comeback?

Those of us that sorely miss Tom Clancy's older work (and think he's kinda lost in the desert without the coldwar), may find encouragement in recent goings on with Mother Russia:

"EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso voiced concern about the case. "We have a problem with Russia. In fact, we have several problems. Too many people have been killed and we don't know who killed them," he said on Thursday. "

On a serious note, I thought it would interesting to get this forum's thoughts on this topic, particularly: (1) is Vlad really brash enough to be knocking off enemies at will, knowing there are no real consequences or enforcers thereof (e.g., Hariri in Lebanon)?; (2) what, if anything can really be done abou this issue, and with Russia generally given its new found energy-based power; (3) did Mr. Barroso go out on a limb, or should be joined in castigating the Kremlin by the US--in particular--and others (n.b., that Chirac was to dine in celebration with Vlad the other day)?.


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What Makes a Civil War?

I know my Iraq stuff rarely gets the crowd going anymore. But I continue to bang the drum because I believe the issue will define our time much like Vietnam did the post-Kennedy 1960s. Perhaps they'll do so for different reasons. Yet each also represents a time when America grew too big for its britches and was reminded that even our military influence on the world stage has its limits.

Back to today's issue. For me (and the 65% of like-minded Americans according to the latest polls), the idea of President Bush still failing to identify a civil war from the violence in Iraq is almost comical. Indeed, it has lead to headlines of "Delusional or Dedicated." I won't delve into that question (though I do think it's a combination of both). Yet, upon further consideration, I can hardly criticize Bush for not identifying an Iraqi civil war today since it's perfectly consistent with all prior failed visions for the Middle East.

You see, remember how President Bush and his advisors told the American people starting back in 2002 that we "fight them in Iraq so that we don't have to fight them here?" How many times did we hear those very words in State of the Union addresses alone? And to this day, Bush continues to state that the war in Iraq is actually fueled by al Queda -- and that it's NOT a power-struggle between distinct sects for dominance in an artificial vacuum created in the heart of the Middle East, as most experts describe the conflict.

So if Bush were now to join the overwhelming majority of Americans who see our presence in Iraq as somewhat analogous to policing a civil war, then that would mean our troops are fighting Sunni insurgents and Shi'a deathsquads in order to prevent the Sunni and Shi'a civil war from being fought here in America!

Absurd? Sure. But as long as 2+2 still makes 4, then Bush's own words indicate a real fear that some Sunnis in New Jersey may declare war on a few Shiites in Detroit! Scary stuff. Perhaps they could just settle it with a good Nets-Pistons basketball game and our troops in Iraq can start coming home? I won't hold my breathe, but my money would be on the Pistons!


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