Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Butcher of Baghdad is Dead

At around 10 pm last night, the murderous life of Saddam Hussein ended, as he faced ultimate justice for his crimes. This is a great thing, as the Iraqi people now have a measure of justice, for the thirty years of rape, murder, and genocide he put his people through. My view on the death penalty is that it should always be an option for the worst criminals, and the most remorseless monsters of the Earth-- in other words, men like Saddam. His death may not change things on the ground, but at least he has faced justice, according to the rule of law, the same rule of law that he denied his own people.

Many have wondered if the trial was really fair, or worth it. The fact is, things were messy, with all the delays, grandstanding, and violence, but he had his counsel. He had his appeals. The evidence was weighed carefully, and a just verdict was laid down by the Iraqi people. The only reason why the outcome seemed inevitable, is because it was-- the evidence against was unassailable.

Some may wonder why even have a trial at all, when we could have just taken him behind an alley and put a bullet in his brain. He still would've been treated better than he treated his own people, but it wouldn't have been the right way. A back alley execution is the sort of thing one would expect under Saddam. Civil governments don't do that sort of thing. It was crucial that he be forced to submit to the rule of law, under Iraqi justice. He was, and now his bloody reign is truly over. Most Iraqis are celebrating. They have every reason to, now that one of the most brutal villains in history has been fast-tracked to Hell.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Post-Christmas Thoughts, Mourning Legends, and Iraq

Before I get into this post, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and hope they have a Happy New Year. We lost a true icon of soul in James Brown, who passed away on Christmas morning. He was the Godfather of soul, and he will be sorely missed. In yet another tragic note, former President Gerald Ford has died at the age of 93. I was born in 1979, so I obviously don't remember his Presidency, but from what I've read and seen, he was a humble man who assumed the mantle he never sought, and did his best to heal the wounds of Watergate. Ford received a lot of heat for his pardon of Nixon, but I suspect he was doing what he thought was right, in trying to heal the country by sparing it an ugly trial. May the verdict of history be just.

Speaking of the verdict of history, Marc Cooper has a piece on soldiers who dissent from the Iraq war, with a particular story of one Lt. Ehren Watada, who has resisted deployment to Iraq. I've written before about soldiers in an all-volunteer military refusing to obey orders. Myabe I'm being harsh here, but I don't find much heroism, or nobility in Watada's actions. He has based his actions on his belief that the Iraq war is illegal, and in his view, a war crime. Simply put, he has no legal or moral footing here. He's just plain wrong. We have 17 U.N resolutions, the Iraq War Resolution, and international law as a legal and moral support. It's one thing to consider the war unwise, or mismanaged. I respect the first position, and basically agree with the second. Things aren't going well. But to say this war is illegal, and thus tar all our soldiers as war criminals is wrong.

To be fair, Watada is not hiding from the charges, and he has agreed to serve in Afghanistan, which he believes in just. The thing is, you don't get to pick where they send you, and he ought to face the judgment for his actions. Some have called this an act of civil disobedience, comparing him to Thoreau and others. Ignoring the legal issues for a second, the moral situation in this case is totally different. Thoreau was resisting slavery. Watada refused to obey a lawful order, and thus violated the oath he swore and volunteered to uphold. Many have criticized the policy in Iraq, yet still did their duty. Heck, I support the policy, so I'm biased, and maybe I just can't see his moral position as legitimate. I just think he's totally wrong on this.

I'll leave it at that, as I now steel myself for the onslaught of false accusations of being an intellectual bag man for the Bush Administration, or in the words of one commenter at Cooper's blog, a peddler of "Malkinesque, war-blogger sarcasm."

Oh, and John Edwards has officially announced he's running again.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Truth About the Iraq Study Group

In an all-too-serious, yet funny spoof version. Zucker's other spoofs were partisan and silly, but this one is on point, not to mention bone-chilling.

H/T: My crew at Stubborn Facts

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jimmy Carter's Latest Dilemma

Former President Jimmy Carter's getting some serious heat for his new book covering the Israli-Palestinian conflict. He prayed with rabbis to try and smooth things over, but it doesn't seem to be working:

The Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix said they wouldn't call for a boycott of Carter's book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," but they also won't suggest that anyone read it.

"I don't know if he gets the evil that we are facing," said Rabbi Bonnie Koppell of Scottsdale.

Carter, 82, was met by a crowd of protesters as he appeared at a book store in suburban Tempe to autograph copies of the book.

He said he chose the title to shine light on the festering conflict and give Americans a different point of view than what they're used to.

"I wanted to provoke debate," Carter said. "I wanted to provoke discussion."

Discussion is always good, but the ideas in his book will suffer rebuke for very legitimate reasons. It appears to suggest that the Israeli approach to the peace process is comparable to apartheid.

The story continues, with this:

Carter's book follows the peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians during his presidency in 1977-1980. He's critical of all players in not reaching a better accord, but he's especially critical of the Israelis. He previously told The Associated Press that Americans are rarely exposed to anything other than pro-Israeli views in the news media.

Really? Are you sure? Was he paying attention during the Lebanon war? To be fair, coverage is infinitely better than in Europe and the Arab world, but is Carter really suggesting the media coverage is overly pro-Israel? I mean, I'd say it's pretty balanced, all things considered. The Palestinians have their say.

Reflections on Pinochet's Death, (and Reflections on the Reflections)

In case you didn't know, General Augusto Pinochet has died, at the age of 91. The old dictator passed away a couple of days ago, and for most, this ought to be good news. It seems that there's an uncomfortable heap of controversy over his legacy. I must confess to not being anything approaching an expert, but it seems to me, after reading the history, that Pinochet's legacy as a brutal dictator, who seized power from the democratically-elected (albeit Marxist) Sal Allende, and then murdered over 3,000 over his people, tortured and brutalized thousands more, committed acts of state terrorism, including acts on U.S soil, and subjected his people to a nearly two-decade reign of terror is valid and undisputed. Even many of his apologists (and they're out and about), admit he was a dictator.

There are numerous sources to check out on Pinochet's legacy. Christopher Hitchens has written a good piece on Pinochet's bloody legacy. Marc Cooper, who was actually Allende's translator back in the day, has a perspective on this you'll not get anywhere else.

As I said before, not everybody's happy that the Captain General is gone. Many of his supporters have taken to the streets, and pledged their support for him at his funeral. Apparently, much like their beloved master, they really do have a soft spot for fascism.

The rightist apologists for Pinochet, at home and abroad, are all over the place. The general pro-Pinochet argument basically goes like this: His free-market economic policies brought prosperity to Chile, and he left Chile better off. His dictatorial regime is excused as a necessary reaction to communism. "Sure he was a dictator, but those damned commies had to be stopped." His despotism, murder, and terrorism are somehow mitigated by his Milton Friedman style economic policies. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't think that markets were usually implemented through bloody dictatorships. Shows what I know. This view is far more prevalent than many realize. Maggie Thatcher saw him as "restoring democracy to Chile." In fact, he was having tea with the Iron Lady right before his 1998 arrest.

Examples of right-wing apology are here, here, here, and a mind boggling one here. These sorts of things get ugly real quick, it seems.

Heck, even the Washington Post gets in on the action.

Look, recognizing the very real and ugly tyrannical legacy of Fidel and other communist regimes is one thing, but to excuse one of the most brutal and criminal dictatorships in Latin America, all under the banner of economic renewal, and a policy of anything goes against communism is wholly misguided.

Glenn Greenwald and others point to the linkage between this and the controversial policy of the late Jeane Kirkpatrick, who passed away just a few days ago also. Her policy, expressed in her landmark 1979 piece "Dictatorships and Double Standards, " essentially argues that right-wing regimes were less repressive than left-wing ones, and that it was good U.S. policy to back any regimes that were anticommunist. This approach was flawed for obvious reasons. I won't go too much into Kirkpatrick's role on this, although Greenwald does capture the prevailed right-wing sentiment on Pinochet clearly: It was all justified to save the country from communism. Many point out how he laid down his power after the plebiscite, which to me is like saying "he raped us for twenty years, and then he stopped. What a guy!" Well, it was the least he could do, after all.

Now, as I said, I'm not an expert, but this whole Pinochet apology and revisionism borders on revolting. I'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hitchens Reviews Coulter's "Godless" Book

Or should I say, eviscerates. I must admit to extracting an almost unhealthy amount of joy out this review. An excerpt:

But then, I have the distinct feeling that people do not buy Ann Coulter’s creed-screeds and speed-reads in order to enhance their knowledge of history or their command of syllogism. She has emerged as a persona because she has mastered the politics of resentment, and because she can combine the ideology of Human Events (the obscure ‘Joe McCarthy was right’ magazine) with the demand of the chat-show bookers for a tall blonde with a very rapid delivery on a wide range of subjects. The cover of this book – which follows the success of its forerunners Treason and Slander: titles that require little elucidation – shows her in a low-cut black dress with a prominent crucifix dangling over a modest cleavage. The needs of showbiz notwithstanding, I cannot fathom the reason for this slight come-hitherishness. Miss Coulter is not married and ought therefore, by her own loudly-proclaimed standards, to be a virgin and to remain so until further notice.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's Here

After nine-months, the much discussed Baker-Hamilton report has been released. I'm not making judgments until I get all the facts. Some people already hear the sound of the sharpening of knives, and others see hope. I'm willing to put aside doubts and look to hope. As I've said, anything that doesn't involve precipitous withdrawal, partitions, selling out to Iran or Syria, or the status quo ought to be on the table.

Talking's good, know what I mean.

UPDATE: I posted the link to the actual report (HT: Centerfield).

UPDATE #2: At the end of the day, it really looks like the knives are being sharpened, folks. The vaunted ISG report appears to be one big staming pile of realpolitik, rhetorical photo-opping, and surrender.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Laughing Matter?

You know, a lot of us laugh at Scientology. We think of it as a cultish phony religion created by a hack 60's sci-fi writer. We laugh. The thing is, if this is all true, then we've no business laughing. Apparently, Scientology may be more dangerous than we thought.

Get out while you still can, Katie! While you still can!!


You must check out this great cartoon, narrated by the late, great Orson Welles. It's timely, topical, and for those who will dismiss it as partisan, heavy-handed liberal tripe, or conservative tripe, they especially need to watch. It sounds the call for all of us. And it's cool!

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Back From Cancun. Back to Blogging

I've had a great vacation, and I've gotten a chance to relax a bit. A lot's happened in the past few weeks though, and I've got a lot to cover, from the much ballyhooed Baker-Hamilton Commision's exposure as possibly being a miserable embarrasment ( a lot of people think so), the tragic death of Sean Bell in New York, the much ballyhooed argument that conservatives are more compassionate than liberals, thoughts on the elections, and the idea some have that Article VI of the Constitution doesn't mean much anymore.

More to come later, most likely tomorrow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Aftermath

Well, as I'm sure you know by now, the Dems have swept it all, taking the House and Senate. It's a great day. It's a shame that one of the new Senators won't be Harold Ford Jr, though. I was really pulling for him. Another day. Another day...Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker, and Harry Reid will most likely be Majority Leader. Joe Lieberman has left poser Ned Lamont in the dust, and he'll caucus with the Dems (because he's a man of his word). The center is rising, folks. Oh, and Rummy is out. Robert Gates has replaced him. He's an old guard guy from the Bush I days. Wait and see. As far as Iraq goes, any ideas that don't involve pulling out early, partitioning the country, or keeping the status quo ought to be on the table.    

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today's The Day. Get Out and Vote.

Nuff said.

UPDATE: My predictions: Dems take House by 15-20 seats, and Dems take Senate by 2 seats. If the GOP does win the Senate, it's 50-50. There you go.

Monday, November 06, 2006

OK, We're Here

I had this big post planned for the elections tomorrow, but honestly, I'm worn out. The fact is, I think the Democrats should win control of at least one of the Houses of Congress, and ideally, both. The question some may ask is, why? How can a pro-war Democrat, who believes in a victory in Iraq, go for the Democrats? This question is harder to answer than it should be, but it's not that hard. I've said this before, but I'll say it once more: I don't believe that putting the Democrats back in power will lead to defeat. I really don't. I know some will point to this, but I really don't think the Democrats are that crazy. I believe that there are enough Dems and moderates to hold the line, so to speak. It's a gamble, but I'm willing to take it.

So, what will they do? For one thing, they'll hold the Administration accountable. The fact is, we need serious policy changes, on the domestic and foreign policy side. I want to win in Iraq, but the "stay the course" plan isn't enough. We need a change in tactics (that of course desn't involve retreat), in order to bring things under control. At the very least, we'll have an opposition Congress, that will force the President to adjust. This isn't just about Iraq. The larger GWOT is involved as well. Detainee treatment, wiretapping, oversight, port security, etc. These things are important. Besides national security, there certain issues that are no-brainers. The GOP-controlled house will never pass a comprehensive immigration bill. The Dems might actually pass a minimum wage bill. Let's not forget spending, and the six-plus years of arrogant leadership. I'll admit, some of these issues are partisan ones, but there you are.

I'm not voting a straight-ticket though. I'm a Marylander, so I'm backing Robert Ehrlich for Governor, and I'm leaning towards Steele for the Senate. I realize that could kill the Dems chances for the Senate, but Cardin's focused far too much on pulling out of Iraq, and I like Michael Steele. He seems like a straight shooter. I'm a bit conflicted.

So, at end the of the day, I'm voting for change, hoping that that change doesn't lead to a defeat. I'm reasonably optimistic. Of course, thay actually have to win the thing first. Nothing's decided, yet.

Either way, get out and vote. Whatever happens, really, the country will survive.

Groupthink and Authentic Intellectuals

I had to link to another great and probing essay by Orson Scott Card, on how groupthink has made somewhat of a havoc of the sciences, particularly with regards to Physics and string theory. He also goes on about how this has affected other disciplines (namely the "Studies" departments, and even the English Departments), and how groupthink affects the culture at large. I really cannot decide what to excerpt, because it is all so good.

I do have to protest a bit though, as I think he was being a bit too hard on the English Departments. Don't get me wrong, I am well aware of the wholesale damage done by thirty years of rampant deconstructionism, postmodernism, Orientalism, multiculturalism, and the like, but the lit theory and comp. lit courses I took were solid. Most of my professors were great, and actually taught me things. None of them seems to be disciples of Theoretics. Exception to the rule, perhaps? Nevertheless, this trend is real, and it is dangerous.

It can be thwarted as well, as he points out.

One Day Away...

I'm planning my election piece for later today (Tuesday morning at the latest), but I wanted to preview with a few thoughts. First off, while this on my mind, I want to be clear that I take no joy in the Ted Haggard situation, nor should anyone. As a Christian, I pray that he will go before the Lord in repentance, and heal the wounds with himself, his wife, and his church. I think this post by David Kuo says a lot. This is beyond politics.

As we all know, arch-murderer Saddam will finally face ultimate justiice for his crimes. For some reason some on the Left keep insisting that the trial was phony, and a U.S. led stunt. I don't really know how to respond, except by pointing out that the trial was legitimate and necessary, and the fact that he will pay is a victory for the Iraqi people. Some are wondering if this will affect the elections, or whether it was timed to do so. Maliki says no, and Bush says no. I believe them, and find the idea a bit silly.

Also, as I prepare my case as to why the Dems need to retake Congress, allow me to present an uncomfortably compelling counter-argument, by Orson Scott Card (h/t: InstaPundit). I don't agree with his overall conclusion, which is basically that a Democratic victory will lead to a defeat in the terror war (if I did, I could not, in good conscience vote for them), but his argument is compelling. He presents a solid case for Iraq, and while he travels far too much into Bush Worship Land, his argument is still worthy of consideration. It's the kind of piece that disturbs your sleep. He's wrong on his view, but he makes a serious argument.

More to come later...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam Sentenced To Death

The Butcher of Baghdad has been sentenced to hang, for crimes against humanity. This goes without saying, but this is a good thing. The monster who murdered millions of his own people, invaded the sovereign nation of Kuwait, and committed wholesale crimes against the free world will finally face ultimate justice.

It is as simple as that.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Last Word on the Kerry Kerfuffle

I'm really hpoing this story will begin to die off now. I see no reason why this should affect the elections, being that it has no bearing on policy. The GOP sure loves a pile on, don't they? As I've said before, I'm convinced now that Kerry didn't mean to offend the troops with his bad joke. He was right to apologize, as he did offend, despite that fact that he didn't intend to. Many of the troops did take offense. He should have apologized in the beginning, as opposed to waiting a day, and ranting like he did. The GOP got a chance to play the phony outrage game they're so good at, and capitalize on the blunder. I still don't think it will hurt that much, but it could still be costly. Kerry will disappear until after the elections, and that is good. And now, for real this time, I am done with this.

My big election piece is coming Monday.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm Not Even Sure What to Make of This..

It seems that Pastor Ted Haggard might have some explaining to do. As with all matters like this, I'm not making any judgments until the facts are out. This could get real ugly, real quick, however this plays out:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The leader of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, resigned Thursday after being accused of paying for sex with a man in monthly trysts over the past three years.

The Rev. Ted Haggard, a married father of five who has been called one of the most influential evangelical Christians in the nation, denied the allegations. His accuser refused to share with The Associated Press voice mails that he said backed up his claim.

Haggard also stepped aside as head of his 14,000-member New Life Church while a church panel investigates, saying he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations."

His accuser, is a Colorado man named Mike Jones, who felt the need to come forward after what he saw as hypocrisy:

Mike Jones, 49, of Denver told The Associated Press he decided to go public with his allegations because of the political fight. Jones, who said he is gay, said he was upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

"It made me angry that here's someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex," said Jones, who added that he isn't working for any political group.

Jones, whose allegations were first aired on KHOW-AM radio in Denver, claimed Haggard paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. Jones also said Haggard snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten his experience.

As I've said, I'm not jumping to conclusions. This does appear to another politically-motivated "outing," although the charges could be true. Who knows. We'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kerry Apologizes.

Sen. Kerry has finally bowed to his better judgment (and a heaping dose of pressure) and apologized for his comments:

"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended," Kerry said in a statement.

This is good news. I'm not naive enough to think this will end things, but at least he's done the right thing, and things can't get any worse. Personally, I still don't think that Kerry intended to slam the troops (heck, even Tony Snow admitted this on O'Reilly earlier), but the fact is that he did, and he was right to apologize. There have been questions as to whether Kerry is anti-military in general. I don't believe so, although there are many who hold this view, especially those who believe he sold out the troops in those hearings thirty years ago. I do think it's clear that Kerry has a personal animosity towards Bush though, and past comments confirm this. The fact is that he doesn't like him. This helps explain Kerry's motivations.

Either way, I'm done with this. Done like Kerry's 2008 Presidential chances.

No Cross on the Chapel?

Just finished reading an interesting post over at Civil Commotion, over the decision to remove the Cross from the 300-year old Wren Chapel, at the College of William and Mary. I am Christian, but don't think you have to be a Christian to find this problematic at the very least. The charter itself establishes the school's history as a school with Christian traditions, and it's not really a violation of church-state separation to keep those traditions. The main argument in support of this change is the fact that this school has become non-denominational, and receives public support:

“In order to make the Wren Chapel less of a faith-specific space, and to make it more welcoming to students, faculty, staff and visitors of all faiths, the cross has been removed from the altar area,” Engimann said.

The cross will be returned to the altar for those who wish to use it for events, services or private prayer. Student tour guides have been directed to pass any questions or complaints about the change on to administrators.

Interesting argument, but wrong. The thing is, if the cross has to be removed except for private sectarian gatherings, what principle allows the cross to remain at all, since the school is non-denominational? Is it non-denominational only some of the time? The logic doesn't hold. The fact is, the cross represents the tradition of the school, much like the name of the city of Corpus Christi, Texas. This ruling by the college seems wrongheaded, and a betrayal of its traditions. Besides, couldn't you leave the cross up, and allow other faiths to use their respective religious items for their sectarian events? Again, this is a wrong-headed ruling.

Don't get me wrong, Bob Felton runs an interesting blog, yet I must say his anti-religious hostility is problematic for obvious reasons.

More on the Kerry Kerfuffle

I posted yesterday about the hot-water John Kerry got himself into the other day about his ill-advised comments. Personally, and it a bit of time to realize this, but I really don't think Kerry meant to insult the troops. It was, in typical Kerry fashion, a stupid move; a bad attempt at making a bad joke. Brendan Loy, who is no Kerry fan, agrees:

I believe Kerry’s explanation. I believe him not because he’s inherently trustworthy; certainly he’s not. But I believe him because it is by far the most objectively plausible explanation for his remarks.

That makes sense, because Kerry has proven before that he has a penchant for poorly executed criticisms of Bush and the GOP, which only manage to backfire politically, especially when he tries to explain them, when a simple "my bad" will do. I've defended him in the past, from the vicious, low-class, and underhanded attacks laid on him by many of his enemies. I tried to explain away the nuances, dodges, and prevarications. A lot of the criticisms of Kerry were over the top, but the fact is, even then, he was unsteady and wobbly. Based on his regrettable support for withdraw..I mean redeployment, I can say that I'm glad he's not President, not that I'm fond of Bush. Honestly, I voted for him based on the situation at the time. Loy continues:

Alas, while the Republican response has been predictably demagogic (Bush called Kerry’s comments “insulting and shameful“), Kerry has done himself no favors with his own response, in which he painted himself as a victim of “right wing nut-jobs” — rather than as a vicitm of his own poorly chosen words — and busted out the tired, irrelevant, logically fallacious “chickenhawk” meme. Instead of going into high dudgeon and defiantly declaring that “I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy,” Kerry should have humbly apologized for choosing his words poorly in a way that caused some people to reasonably but falsely believe he was insulting the troops, and left it at that.

Now the conservative blogosphere is on fire, liberals are wringing their hands, the Republicans think they’ve been handed a gift that can turn the tide next Tuesday, and at least one Democratic congressman is understandably livid: “I guess Kerry wasn’t content blowing 2004, now he wants to blow 2006, too.”

There's not much else I can add. Kerry's 2008 election chances weren't really viable after his defeat in 2004, but they are dead now, not so much based on this incident, for this is really a symptom of the larger problem with Kerry's political character. Kerry's a war hero, and there's no doubting that. He was a hero in Vietnam. The problem is, he seems to be stuck there, and has no clue how to fight the current battle. Also, he's a humorless, emotional black hole. I'll stop there, because it's starting to become a pile on, and nobody likes a pile on.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse disagrees with Kerry's explanation, and thinks he's lying. I still don't think he meant to slam the troops, but as I've said, should apologize for the implication. You know what? I'm worn out with this already. Can someone just tell Kerry to disappear for the next seven days?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Well, When You Put It That Way...

Well, John Kerry's gotten himself into trouble again, after making some remarks at a campaign event that basically appears to call our troops fighting in Iraq uneducated:

Hat tip: Stubborn Facts

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Now, Kerry asserts that he was talking about President Bush, and not the troops. I'm not so sure, and even if that's true, what about the troops who support the mission, or those of us at home who support the mission, including members of his own Party? With all due respect, you did wrong, Senator. You ought to apologize, and for real this time, as opposed to this unhinged rant that looks to have sprung forth from Kos himself. Look, I'm not saying Kerry is anti-military, but the comments he made are stupid and denigrating to the troops. He should apologize, at least for the implication.

I say again, as someone who voted for you in 2004, you need to apologize. You really do. John McCain certainly thinks so:

McCain, in Indianapolis today campaigning for Republicans, calls Kerry's remarks "insensitive, ill-considered" and "unfortunate." More, from McCain's statement: "The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night." More from McCain: "Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country's call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education."

Yes, I agree. As far as the political fallout with regards to the elections a week from now, contrary to Glenn Reynolds' view, I don't think it will hurt that much, and it certainly doesn't nullify the case for a Democratic takeover. Not that Kerry could care.

UPDATE: You know, I think the Anchoress really captures my feeling on this:

There is an art to good politics and there is a rule, too - and it’s a really simple one, but so many politicians can’t follow it, particularly if they have delusions of genius. The Rule goes like this: If you screw up, whether because you’re an idiot, or you’re just having a bad day, or a mic was left on - whatever - and you say something deplorable (even if it just sounds deplorable but you meant it well…) you admit it, you make a joke at your own expense and you apologize - even a half-assed apology will usually do.

And then the whole thing usually goes away.

I mean, this seems to be Kerry's problem. He has this thing where he presents himself as always being in control of his words and thoughts, and when he's not, he tries correcting things, when apologizing and moving on will do. I get that Kerry wants to really start getting tough on his critics, after he sort of let the Swiftvets lay into him, but there is a question of timing, and doing it correctly. As much as I convince myself this won't change the elections, I'm not sure. I mean, they're still talking about this. This will play like crazy over the next seven days. Who knows?

Well, I guess I'll just have to hope the "Liberal Media" does its job then. :)

Friday, October 27, 2006

You Know, On Second Thought...

As far as the much discussed, uber-controversial ad run by the RNC against Harold Ford Jr., I have to say that while the ad is totally ridiculous, misleading, and stupid, it probably isn't racist, or at least, wasn't intended to be. To be honest, I find myself having to strain to see racism in the ad, and while it's very possible (and likely) that racist whites in Tennesee will bow to their racist instincts, the fact that they're racists (and thus have a big problem with Ford dating white women) means that they're not backing Ford anyway. I think Mary Katherine Ham's point was valid, about how these things can get out hand rather quickly. Many have suggested that the hunter in camo was wearing blackface. I have to say, that's a hell of a stretch.

At the end of the day, this isn't Macacas. This isn't Trent Lott romanticizing the golden days of Jim Crow. This is a stupid (and totally false) ad, but probably not racist.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Internet Explorer 7: Firefox Edition

Well, I decided to download IE 7 last night, and I must say that I'm impressed. Leave it to Microsoft to appropriate all the best features of Firefox, and bring them into their mothership. Tabbed browsing, easier image views, add-ons, it's all there. One feature I especially like is the ClearType fonts, which smooth out the text on web pages. There aren't quite enough add-ons yet, but it's still early. The only thing that kind of bothers me is that they really took everything from Firefox, in the kind of way that could lead to lawsuits, if you get my meaning. I suspect though, that Mozilla probably sold the technology to Microsoft, and become part of the Microsoft fold. Who knows. Either way, it's pretty cool so far, and seeing that my system hasn't crashed, I'm sticking with it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Google: Slouching Further Towards Evil?

We already know that Google has been complicit in helping the Chinese suppress free speech, but now it seems that they're trying it over here. There's a new feature in the works that allows websites to control the search results that their users can see (thanks to the Anchoress for the hat tip):

The Google juggernaut has just launched the next step in bringing us a Brave New World, the world according to the Leftists’ manifesto of thought control. It’s a new version of Google Search called Google Custom Search Engine that allows a website operator to add a Google search box to his/her website — and then control what content is being searched, and also the prioritizing of the search results.

In plain English: If you are a proponant of Global Warming, and you want your readers to only be able to find articles supporting your position…well, Google’s gonna help you do that. If you’re pro-life and you want your readers to only be able to find articles supporting your position…well…I think Google is going to help you do that. You can never tell with Google. They may simply decide that your stuff is not the “right” stuff and suppress it.

Yeah, I agree. This is frightening in every way it can be. Regardless of what side you're on, this thing is a threat to free speech on its face. I'll not get into a debate about whether this is being fueled by the Left or Right (obviously some people have already made up their minds), but the impulse behind this move is dangerous at the least, and totalitarian at worst.

Can someone tell Google that they might have to change their motto, "Don't be Evil?" Or better yet, perhaps they could just stop being evil?

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Times Apologizes for Leaking the Terrorist Banking Program Story

Well, sort of. New York Times Public Editor Byron Calame has admitted that he made a big mistake in helping to undermine a perfectly legal, and effective anti-terror tool. He admits that it was a mistake, but basically still thinks it's Bush's fault, because it was Bush's criticism of the NYT that forced him to do it:

…What kept me from seeing these matters more clearly earlier in what admittedly was a close call? I fear I allowed the vicious criticism of The Times by the Bush administration to trigger my instinctive affinity for the underdog and enduring faith in a free press — two traits that I warned readers about in my first column.

So, because Bush hates the Times, he thought it was sonehow justified to take actions that undermined national security? And he's cool with that? Uhh, OK. With all due respect, I'm not one to jump on the "anti-Bush media undermines America" train, but the idea that one would allow irrational Bush hatred to undermine your job, and our national security is just plain nutty. Simply put, the Times blew it beyond measure.

Hat tip: The Anchoress, and Stubborn Facts

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Maybe I'm Misreading This,

but do I detect fear in Sean Hannity's latest rant? I hear the sound of grabbing at straws. Sorry Sean, I won't be staying home. For heaven's sake, man, you've got to calm down.

BTW, my concerns about the increasing influence of the anti-war Left and BSD on the Democratic Party notwithstanding, if I really believed that the Democrats wanted us to lose the war on terror, or wanted to abandon our troops in the field, I wouldn't support them. Period.

Oh, and my big post is still coming...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Well, It's A Start

Heck, I'm sure we'll have a fully-functional invisibility cloak before we know it. Once we've gotten that out of the way, it's on to teleportation.

Becoming the Monster (Or, Has the Left Been Taken Over by Homophobia?)

There is a potentially serious scandal brewing in the these final days leading up to the election. It seems that a prominent Lefty blogger named Mike Rogers has "outed" Senator Larry Craig (R-ID). Craig denies the charges. Apparently, he has a long history of this, and he says he's not done. I don't know about you, but this whole thing, and the idea of using this as a campaign strategy in general is just unseemly, and frankly stomach-turning. For heaven's sake, you'd expect these tactics from the far-right. Why are so many on the Left using that playbook?

It seems that there is a twofold political strategy here: To paint gay Republicans as hypocrites, and undermine GOP support from social conservatives. The GOP's record on gay rights issues, and their consistent campaign of wedge politics notwithstanding, the idea that either opponents of gay marriage are bigots by default, or that if gays support conservative causes they somehow lose their legitimacy is hardly a liberal concept. The way this is being done, it really is McCarthyite (and Rovian). Does the Left really want to go down that road?

After all, is this really how we want to win? With all the obsession over the Foley affair, you'd think Mark Foley is the only reason to vote against the GOP? Are the Democratic idea men really planning this as the slam dunk? Do they really believe this ought to be the focus? The GOP has so many weaknesses right now. Is this all they've got? Come on, people, enough of this.

Besides, this really could backfire, in the short and long term. Glenn Reynolds points out:

Yes, "creepy, gleeful efforts" don't win you many friends or converts. Of course, they're really just meant to demoralize Republican voters and keep them home on election day.
I suspect they'll have the opposite effect. The GOP leadership has managed to alienate much of its base, but this kind of slimy and obviously organized political effort is more likely to encourage GOP voters to ignore the bad stuff and vote Republican as a way of demonstrating their disgust with the creepiness.

Are we prepared to blow the election (and our dignity) with this low-class sleaze? I'm optimistic, so I'm convinced this won't spread past the lunatic Lefty cutthroat fringe, or hurt our chances that much. Let it be known though: The more this stuff increases, the more the Democratic Party (and the country) loses.

Also, I think Captain Ed makes a good point:

People wonder why we don't attract a wider range of qualified candidates for public office. Michael Rogers sets himself up as Exhibit #1. The personal and degrading attacks convince many people to skip the trouble, and the people who do dare to run for office usually wind up experiencing the ruination of their reputations in one form or other. It comes from all sides to some degree, but this ghastly mudslinging really marks a new low.

Yeah. I agree. All this notwithstanding, I've still got a piece coming on why the Dems should win this election. It's gotten a little harder to write. Just a little.

Hat tips: Classical Values and Fern.

UPDATE: If Mike Silverman is right, it's all moot anyway.

UPDATE#2: Secondary reflection leaves me wondering if I might have overreacted as far this being a widespread campaign strategy for Democrats. The evidence does show that this is an isolated incident, and no high-profile Dems are involved with this, so it's not really fair to suggest that this have become policy. That being said, this thing with Rogers is sleazy, the policy in general is sleazy, and unfortunately has support from some Lefties. I'm totally anti-hysteria, though, and I don't want this degenerating into hysteria. At the end of the day, the GOP has truly earned its anti-gay rights rep, but Rovian sleaze tactics aren't the answer.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eyes on the Campuses

I was just wondering what everyone thought about this. It seems to me that we really should consider this as a viable anti-terror tool in the U.S. Assuming that we're real careful (respecting civil liberties, etc), I think it would be a good policy. Considering the very real potential of terrorists using campuses as a breeding ground, it makes sense to at least focus attention there. I don't think this is talking about indiscriminate roundups, or simply hauling people in for controversial views.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Elephant's Fall

Bull Moose comments on the moral collapse of the GOP:

The Moose witnessed the Republican Revolution of '94. He remembers the fervent calls for reform and renewal. Now, the House GOP is rightly staring into the abyss. The Foley revelation is the latest representation of the perversion of power.

It took the Republicans a little more than a decade to achieve what forty years of Democratic rule accomplished - the institutionalization of corruption. The major difference is that the elephant masqueraded as a reformist, moral revolutionary. Hypocrisy is truly the tribute vice pays to virtue. These guys give Elmer Gantry a bad name.

How can fiscal conservatives continue to endorse Republican rule? How can social conservatives embrace a House leadership that neglected to expel a child predator from their ranks? How can reformists applaud the Abramoff Congress?

Indeed. I for one, see this as the coda in a long series of Republican outrages. Not that the Dems are pure, but as far as the last ten years are concerned, the GOP has been worse. They've fashioned themselves as the party of small government, family values, ethics, and have failed on every point. Nobody likes a pile on, but I must say that the GOP has earned this harvest.

The Dems should use this as an opportunity, but not to gloat, or try to coast in on GOP screw-ups. I've said elsewhere that beating the GOP this year is like beating a one armed blind man at football. We need an alternative and coherent vision. The American people deserve it. They deserve better than the GOP. They deserve real leadership.

Maybe This Will Sound Harsh,

But I have little sympathy for deserters. In fact, I have none at all. Last I checked, we have an all-volunteer military. This man knew what he was getting into. It's one thing to disagree with the morality of the Iraq war. It's an entirely different thing to abandon your fellow soldiers in the battlefield. This guy gets a deal, and basically walks? Nope. He deserves to be in jail, at the very least. Paul Hackett was against Iraq, and he didn't desert his men. What's this man's excuse?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Initial Reflections on the Detainee Treatment Bills

I'm planning a more substantive post on this later, but I'm taking cue from others, and letting the partisan dust settle first. Initially, you really should at least skim the text of the Senate bill here, and read a great essay on the proper way to deal with rough interrogations, by Jonathan Rauch, here.

Thanks to the crew over at Stubborn Facts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

When Only Half The Story Gets Told...

From Winds of Change, on the tragically underreported stories of contractors, and the hard work they do in Iraq. You must read this. No need for excerpts. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Honestly, It's Not That Crazy

I'm not one to go out of my way to defend the Bush Administration, but I think a point needs to be made. I guess my support for the Iraq war has something to do with this, but I don't think the fact that Zarqawi was in Iraq, after fleeing from Afghanistan is a small matter. Bush and Cheney have used this in making the case for a Saddam-al-qaeda link, and while we all know that Saddam didn't have involvement in 9/11, or a real collaborative link with al-qaeda, it's hard to ignore the fact that Zarqawi would not have been able to enter Saddam's police state without his knowledge. Meaning, Saddam knew he was there, and allowed him to remain there. Considering Saddam's past as a state sponsor of terror, it wasn't that off the wall to at least consider that as part of a potential future threat. It doesn't excuse the littany of mistakes made in the planning and execution of the war. It doesn't excuse the overhyping and flawed intel. However, when one looks at the big picture, and considers the permanent threat Saddam's lawless regime posed, it wasn't exactly crazy to decide to remove him from power.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11, Five Years Later: We Will Never Forget

Five years ago today, terrorists launched an unprovoked attack on America, killing nearly 3,000 people, and declaring war on the United States. On that day, heroes gave their lives to save lives. On that day, America mourned. On that day, the reality of global terror engaged the world. In the days that followed, America rose to confront its enemies, and defend freedom. America was united. Politics didn't matter. Parties didn't matter. On this day five years later, let us continue to honor those heroes who gave their lives, and those who continue to fight for us. Let us vow to never lose sight of their sacrifice, nor the threat that we face from global terror. Let us strive to commit ourselves to that unity of purpose.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What Must It Always Be America's Fault?

A new book is coming out that basically argues that America's immoral, decadent lifestyle alienates moderates around the world, and thus fosters terrorism. American cultural liberals are to blame, this book argues, and the only way to turn the tide is to embrace more traditional religious values, similar to those affronted Muslim countries.

Why is it always America's fault? I don't know, somebody should ask Dinesh D'Souza.

Hat tip: Red Letter Day

Oh, and I guess this won't help matters.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rest in Peace, Mate

Damn. This is really sad. Sure he was bizarre, but he always seemed like a fun-loving, decent guy who loved his work. You'll be missed, Steve Irwin. You'll be missed.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If You Use The Constitution, They Can't Complain

My views on the current illegality of the NSA warrantless survelliance program are well-established. I think the program needs to be squared with FISA and Congress. However, I've also gone on record as opposing the ruling by Judge Taylor that strikes the whole program down as unconstitutional. My main problems with the ruling are that it goes too far, not providing any legal remedy to square the program with the Constitution, and that the ruling is pure sloppy jurisprudence. Ann Althouse has written a brilliant op-ed in the New York Times (pause for irony), that makes a solid case against the ruling.

Her piece has gotten a lot of heat, from commenters at her own blog, and from commenters at The Volokh Conspiracy. Keep in mind, that she's not defending the DOJ's argument (I don't know her actual views on the program's legality-she never says), but rather criticizing the judge for not providing a clear constitutional response:

Immensely difficult matters of First and Fourth Amendment law, separation of powers, and the relationship between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force are disposed of in short sections that jump from assorted quotations of old cases to conclusory assertions of illegality. Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington, told The Times that the section on the Fourth Amendment is “just a few pages of general ruminations ... much of it incomplete and some of it simply incorrect.”

For those who approve of the outcome , the judge’s opinion is counterproductive. It will be harder to defend upon appeal than a more careful decision. It suggests that there are no good legal arguments against the program, just petulance and outrage and antipathy toward President Bush. It helps those who have been arguing for years about result-oriented, activist judges.

Laypeople consuming early news reports may well have thought, “What a courageous judge!” and “It’s a good thing someone finally said that the president is not above the law.” Look at that juicy quotation from Judge Taylor’s ruling: “There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution.”

But this is sheer sophistry. The potential for the president to abuse his power has nothing to do with kings and heredity. (How much power do hereditary kings have these days, anyway?) And, indeed, the president is not claiming he has powers outside of the Constitution. He isn’t arguing that he’s above the law. He’s making an aggressive argument about the scope of his power under the law.

The President isn't asserting that he's above the law, rather he's asserting that he has inherent authority in wartime to do these things. The argument is a serious one. It's totally wrong, and at war with the Constitution, but it deserves to be approached, and it must be correctly attacked. The problem is, the whole affair has the appearance of an unelected judge, who just happens to be a liberal, who just happens to have been appointed by a Democratic President, and confirmed by a Democratic Senate, overriding the decision of a popularly elected Republican President, in a time of war, based on her own opinion. It looks like she just hid the argument under the robe, and laid down the result she wanted. This is a parody of what right-wingers complain about with so-called "activist judges." It looks like she's a rogue judge trying to attack Bush.

These apppearances matter, because they undermine the trust that the Judiciary has. It only emboldens the partisans. It's not just about how it looks though. Judicial opinions need to be solid, in order to hold up on appeal, and establish good precedent. As critics of the program know, this is about more than just this program. The underlying argument needs to be struck down. This is about more than Bush. It seems like Taylor forgot that. Her point about "hereditary kings" is ironic, because judges themselves are just as suspectible to monarchical tendencies as the Executive, being that they're unelected.

The point to all this is the question of why we should defer to unelected judges in these matters, over the elected Executive. We do, because the Constitution says we do. We do because of judicial review, and airtight legal arguments, based on clear Constitutional support, and not what could be interpreted to be simple Bush-bashing. There is a clear case to be made that this program is illegal, and that Bush exceeded his authority. It needs to made clearly, to withstand scrutiny. That way, Bush supporters can't complain about activist judges, or anti-Bush Democrats, or East-Coast lawyers running the war, or election year stunts, or the usual pro-Bush blather over this. All that won't matter. If you use the Constitution, they can't complain.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Race War Hits Primetime?

As the banner atop this blog attests, I have a big problem with unwarranted hysteria. I don't like to overreact on things. The thing is, this is beyond vulgar. I'm willing to cede that the producers weren't trying to be racist, but this is bad taste, and will only do harm to the culture. I've seen good, controversial shows that tackle the race issue. Black/White was one. I loved that show. This just seems tawdry, exploitative and dare I say, racist:

"Our original idea was simply to have the most ethnically diverse group of people on TV. It wasn't until we got to casting and started noticing this theme of ethnic pride that we started thinking, 'Wow, if culture is still playing such a big part in these people's lives, that's our idea. Let's divide them based on ethnicity,' " he said.

So, the answer is to exploit that ethnic pride, to promote diversity? I don't see that. I see things being made worse. It all seems like racial bloodsport, fueled by crude stereotypes. I mean, maybe I am overreacting. Maybe they'll set things up in such a way that when the tribes merge, it'll be an example of races coming to together. It's possible, but I doubt it, seeing as how the racial tension angle is the whole gimmick here. I'm telling you, this could get ugly real quick.

At the end of the day, it's just Hollywood tripe. I'll not watch it, and I really haven't watched since the fifth season. I prefer The Apprentice (Mark Burnett's other show) anyway. Ratings for Survivor are down to their lowest ever (which partially explains the need for controversial gimmicks), and I don't think this will help.

I wonder though, if this succeeds, what's next? Divide them up by religion? Christians vs. Jews vs. Muslims? Do I even need to elaborate on how that'll end up?

The Moose on the Iranian Threat

Bull Moose returns, with some sharp observations on the Iranian threat to Israel and the West:

Of course, Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but to all liberal democracies. However, Israel uniquely comprehends the immediacy of the Iranian threat. Time is not on our side. While the mullahs may be a few years from obtaining nukes, there is a point of no return in their efforts - and it is soon.

The world, unfortunately, would rather sleep. Sanctions are just so inconvenient. Money is to be made. And diplomacy, regardless of its effectiveness, is holy in the church of the left.

Even though Iran has been showered with generous offers of incentives, the left wants them to be given even more carrots without the serious threat of a stick. Lefties claim they are tough and they are only anti-war when it comes to Iraq, but appeasement is their instinctive impulse when confronted with a national security threat to America or her allies.

But, make no mistake - the recent war with Hizbollah has taught Israel a painful lesson. They cannot afford to slumber while their enemy prepares for a slaughter. In the next war, Hizbolla could be supplied with the ultimate weapon by their patrons in Teheran.

And the writing is on the wall...

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Spike Lee on Katrina

I saw the first part of Spike Lee's Katrina documentary, When the Levees Broke, last night. I was thoroughlly impressed, despite some concerns. I thought it captured all that should be captured, and gave a serious, emotional, and pretty unbiased account of the events. I'd have to say my only real complaint was the intellectually lazy idea once again put forth that somehow having troops in Iraq slowed the National Guard response and cleanup efforts. It was bogus then, and it's bogus now. It doesn't hurt the movie that much, but it was an annoyance.

UPDATE: As expected, the reviews are not all glowing. Many had real problems with the film. Honestly, many of the criticisms are legitimate. Brendan Loy, who basically became the blogger of choice for Katrina coverage, and is actually in the film, had some issues. You really ought to read his post.

Honestly, I still say this is a good film so far. At first, I expected a full-on conspiracy flick a la Fahrenheit 9/11, but I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, you had your conspiracies put out there, which should have been rebutted with alternative arguments. You had copious amounts of criticism of the Bush Administration and the Feds, most of which were legit and accurate. I say most, because some of it was over the top (Harry Belafonte, Sharpton). The point about Condi was problematic. Surely it was in Bad taste to buy shoes during the disaster, but it wasn't really her job to manage the federal response. The point made about other nations (namely Venezuela and Cuba) offering assistance was laughable. Does Harry Belafonte really think Hugo Chavez gives a damn about the people of New Orleans?

Oh, and Nagin's performance ought to have been scrutinized more clearly. He blew it big time, as did Blanco, and the Feds.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Like I Said, A Really Bad Bargain

Well it's pretty clear now that the "cease-fire" resolution is nothing more than a surrender. Apparently, this UN peacekeeping force is going to be harder to put together than many thought. The French, co-authored the resolution (this fact alone ought to raise a red flag), but are now having problems with the way it was written. They're still going to lead the way though-- they've committed about a couple hundred troops. Yep, that's it. You can always count on the French leadership to sell out the Jews, it seems. So, the French have decided to resurrect the Vichy glory days, and the UN has basically said that they're only there to help the Lebanese army disarm Hezbollah, and the Lebanese army isn't remotely ready to even begin disarming Hezbollah. So, another resolution unenforced. Hezbollah won't be disarmed, and Israel loses.

A handful of stand-up nations are doing their duty and sending troops, but will it be enough? The only force that could have really done damage was the Israeli military. but Olmert agrred to the "cease-fire," and there you have it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Really Bad Bargain

As I'm sure you all know, the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict has ended in what is being called a cease-fire. If you ask me, it smells more like a surrender. Per the mandate of the U.N. Israel has accepted a cease-fire that basically gives up everything that they asked for. This whole conflict started when Hezbollah captured Israeli soldiers. The cease-fire is in place, but the kidnapped soldiers are basically forgotten, and Hezbollah is still standing, claiming an "historic" victory. However, Israeli PM Olmert and President Bush call this a victory for Israel. The fact is, this is a loss, a big big one, for Israel, America, and the West.

I hate to think this way, but I can't see how Israel wins with this result. The original plan was to get the soldiers back, rout Hezbollah, and impede their ability to function as a state within a state. Hezbollah doesn't have to return the soldiers, Israel withdraws, and all that's left to disarm the terrorists is a U.N resolution and a peacekeeping force, that everyone knows won't be able to get the job done? It just looks bad. I'm not a pessimistic as Ralph Peters and others, but it looks bad. Remember, all Hezbollah (and other terror groups) need to do to win is to not lose completely. Anything short of a decisive victory becomes a Pyrrhic victory, easily turned into a defeat. Even if Hezbollah was reduced to half their strength, they could still rebuild, if not thoroughly routed. Indeed, they've lost fighters and resources, but how much was really done? Was it enough to justify the loss of Lebanese infrastructure and civilians? I'm not saying Israel shouldn't have fought this battle, or that they're somehow the villain here, but it seems like they didn't have the resolve to take it to the ground. You can't win wars like this with just air power.

The international community pushed this cease-fire. We all know that many international players aren't the biggest fans of Israel aggresively defending herself. Big Daddy Sheik Nasrallah has already said he won't disarm, and laughed off the U.N resolution. He's not impressed, and why should he be? It hasn't worked before.

I am totally pro-Israel, but I think the leadership bungled this. It appears that the leadership didn't have the stomach to do what really needed to be done. The Israeli people are pissed, and they should be. Politically, this is bad for Olmert, not that the politics really should matter. The legendary IDF has been embarrassed, Israel's name has been dragged through the mud, and Hezbollah survives, and is emboldened. The captured Israeli soldiers have yet to be returned. Hezbollah won't disarm, and the puppet masters Iran and Syria watch from the sidelines. I hope I'm just overreacting. Maybe Condi and the diplomats are right. Maybe the "birth pangs" are over. I fear though, that what has been born is a signal to the terrorists that the West doesn't have the stomach to do the heavy lifting, to endure the long twilight struggle. We've got to prove them wrong. We ought to do it now, because eventually, it will come down to our very survival.

OK. I hope I wasn't too hysterical.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

If You Keep Telling People They're Not Wanted, Eventually They'll Leave

Consider the example of now ex-Democrat Brendan Loy:

Okay, I’m calling it. It’s over. Ned Lamont has won the primary. Democrats in my home state of Connecticut have seen fit to give their incumbent U.S. senator, the honorable Joseph Lieberman, the old heave-ho. Get out of our party, the Democratic voters have told Joe. You aren’t one of us anymore.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Lieberman’s fine Senate career is over — he says he’ll run as an independent, and if he does, he may well win. Nor does it necessarily mean that the majority of national Democrats, or even the majority of Connecticut progressives and liberals, agree with the decision that today’s voters made. Connecticut’s largest “party” is unaffiliated voters, who were ineligible to vote in today’s primary, and they have long been big Lieberman supporters. Moreover, even among registered Democrats, it was always going to be more difficult for Lieberman to motivate his contented-but-not-fervent supporters to vote in the same numbers as his rabidly angry critics. Lamont was bound to have a natural advantage in this primary, and Lieberman a natural disadvantage, for the same reason that moderates are almost always at a disadvantage in primaries. (See, e.g., the 2002 GOP gubernatorial primary in California.)

But regardless of all that, the hard reality is that the voters have spoken, and their message was loud and clear: there’s no longer room for Joe Lieberman in the Democratic Party. And alas, tonight’s result will reverberate through the November elections and into the 2008 presidential campaign. It’s really much more than just a single primary in a single state; it’s a shot across the bow of moderate Democrats everywhere. And so, whatever further ramifications this result might have, there’s one thing it definitely means, one result that is officially cast in stone, as of today:

I am no longer a Democrat.

I'm with you, Brendan. I don't really plan on switiching parties yet, because I've never been that much of a party loyalist anyway, and I remain a Dem basically because I agree with them more than the Republicans, and I feel that Democratic policies are better for the country than Republican ones. The fact is, the elite Democrats have been sending the message that has now been set in stone: Moderates like Joe Lieberman are not welcome. You see, Lieberman didn't abandon the Party. The Democratic Party abandoned him, and all of us who have the clarity to place our national security interests above knee-jerk Bush-hatred and the antiquated idiocy of the hard-Left.

Despite all this, I'm still holding out hope. At the end of the day, I still believe in theose time-tested Democratic principles. I'm not leaving. I plan to stay and fight. I'll have to do it from the sort of wilderness I've been forced into, because alot of the Democratic elite has made it clear than there's no room in the tent for people like me. It's not just the war, either. My view that the abject killing of the unborn is not the best plan of action is verboten in the tent. Right now, I'm an independent Democrat. A lone-wolf Democrat. I've been that way for awhile now, as the Dems have increasingly lost their minds.
I must take issue with one point that Loy brought up. While the Dems have proven themselves to be intolerant of any ideological dissent from the Party line, I reject the idea that the Republicans are any better. The bold steps of Rudy, Arnold, and McCain notwithstanding, as far as the base is concerned, neither would make it through.

At the end of the day, neither Party has a big tent, and both have been hijacked by ideologues. Although the idea of the big tent was a uniquely Democratic staple, one that has been slowly undermined over the past ten years, and may have suffered the death blow Tuesday night.

Hat tip: Centerfield

UPDATE: Based on some the comments on this post over at Booker Rising, I think a clarification is needed. Moderates are still welcome in the Democratic Party, as long as they don't openly support the war in Iraq. Heck, the fact that Ned Lamont has a track record of supporting Republicans 80% percent of the time, while Lieberman supports Democrats 90% of the time is proof that even if you vote like a Republican, if you're anti-war, the anti-war Left will back you.

UPDATE #2: It looks like all hope might not be lost.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Well, Anti-War Left, You've Won This Round

Lieberman concedes. He must now run as an independent. The Kossacks must be turning over cars right now. Yet, I'm confident. I tell you, this is not over.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Deluded, and Devoid of Purpose

As I'm sure you all know, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, for the first time in 50 years, relinquished power a few days ago, in order to have surgery. Miami Cubans, and Cuban exiles everywhere cling to the hope that Castro may have finally met his end, despite reports from the government that Castro is stable. Castro's record of tyraany and despotism is undisputed, except in the minds of some. It has always been a talking point of the Right to suggest that the far-Left loves Castro. The sad fact is, for many on the extreme Left, it is true. I'm convinced that this support is isolated on the fringes of the far-Left, despite the right-wing assertions to the contrary. One must wonder though, why are so many self-professed progressives genuinely sad that Castro's reign may actually end?

I've always thought it uncontroversial that Castro is a villain, and the Cuban people were suffering under his boot. Apparently, Castro has a lot more support than I realized. Again I must ask, why do so many on the extreme Left (keep in mind, I'm not talking about mainstream liberals and Leftists here), even in America, sympathize with the cigar-chomping madman? Is it their predictable misguided belief in utopian state socialism? Is it pure anti-Americanism? Some have gone so far as to even deny that he's a dictator. One of the common excuses from this fringe is the fact that Cuba has universal health care, and good schools. Could it be, that these people are so devoid of purpose, that universal health care and litearcy programs are all that matter to them? Are they so devoid of purpose, that they would abandon all commitments to progressivism and liberal democratic principles, and embrace the full-on welfare state, with all the comforts, as long as they don't value their freedom? I suspect it's no different than those on the extreme right, who flirt, often openly with the idea of authoritarian fascism, past and present. Further proof that the extremes of both ends meet somewhere in a soulless void, that aims to swallow freedom whole.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

OK, Now Let's Just Calm Down

I've made clear my support for Israel, and their campaign against Hezbollah, and terror in general. That being said, I cannot figure out this overreaction from Howard Dean, or the boycott of some Congressional Democrats of al-Maliki's speech earlier today. Yes, he criticized Israel, and failed to openly condemn Hezbollah. I understand that. This seems like a major overreaction, one that is gratuitous and kind of irresponsible. The only reason I can come up with as to why some Dems feel the need to lay into the duly-elected Iraqi PM is a general distrust of the Iraq campaign. It's the same overreaction that drove the needless outrage over the "amnesty for Iraqis" nonstory. Frankly, the whole thing reeks of trying too hard. Everyone knows the Democratic Party supports Israel, and condemns Hezbollah. We don't need to rip into our new ally, because of some unfortunate comments, to prove that. Again, I think it all goes back to a mistrust of the Iraq campaign, and a lack of faith in the new government. If Iraqi leaders say something inartful, Dean and crew can then stand up and say, "see, I told you he couldn't be trusted."

Somebody explain to me how this helps Iraq, or Israel for that matter.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

From the "I Need A Break From Serious News" File

Consider this unscientific, highly interesting poll, birthed from a mind that stayed up past 4 am last night. Enjoy!

Which of these methods of settling hot-button political disputes is the least barbaric and undemocratic?
Mortal Combat
Tetris, Best of 7 Games
Test of Strength/Prowess
Test of Wisdom (The Smartest One Wins)
Popularity Contest
Coin Toss
The system we have now.
Free polls from

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Now This Is What I Call A Consensus

The Congress is split and partisan over Iraq, regardless of how you look at it. Fortunately, the Congress is united behind Israel, as this vote shows.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Israel vs. Lebanon (Hezbollah): The War Rages On

As I'm sure you all know, Israel has been engaged in a two-front war, fighting against Hamas in Gaza, and now against Hezbollah in Lebanon. It's pretty clear that Hezbollah is being fueled by jihadist Iran, and Baathist Syria. I'm totally supportive of Israel, and believe that they have a right and a moral duty to defend themselves. It does seem though, that Israel might be going in the wrong direction, in their all-out attack on Lebanon. I'm no expert on this, and I totally understand what Israel is trying to do (responding to unprovoked attacks), but they don't want to heap unnecessary havoc on innocent Lebanese, most of whom are anti-Hezbollah, and even pro-Israel. They've spent months rebuilding after the Syrian occupation. We don't want to lose them as an ally. Honestly, I still place the chief blame on Hezbollah. They started this.

There are great Mideast blogs that cover this a lot better than I can. Michael Totten, our man in the Middle East has been covering this. He has a personal stake in this, for obvious reasons. He is one of the leading voices for informed, unbiased, and insightful coverage of the Middle East. Also, the Lebanese Political Journal has been covering things straight from Lebanon. Get yourself a healthy dose of smart coverage from all sides. Also, let's keep the debate sensible and intelligent, please.

UPDATE: It looks like a cease-fire might be possible. PM Olmert has aid that if Hezbollah releases the captured Israeli troops, stops attacking Israel, and if the Lebanese government puts their troops on the border, this can end. Also, at the risk of appearing to contradict my earlier position, I want to reiterate the Israel is totally justified in their fight against Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the villain of this piece, fueled by the two-headed beast of Iran and Syria. I do think Israel really should focus their attacks on isolated Hezbollah targets, and try not to attack the whole country, but Hezbollah has forced them into this position.

Like President Bush said, they need to stop doing sh*t like this.

UPDATE #2: I thought I'd change the title a bit, to reflect the fact that this war isn't/shouldn't be against the people of Lebanon, but Hezbollah.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tolerance and Intolerance

Filling in for Michael Totten, Callimachus has written a great piece on the Founding Fathers' views on freedom of religion, and how they apply, or should apply today. He does a great job of making the case for religious toleration, with the limit being that one cannot use religious freedom to subvert religious freedom. Read it. I posted a good comment over there, as did many others. As with all heated discussions, there's troll activity.

Anyway, here's what I said:

In my view, there isn't that big of a difference between what the Founders thought, and what Popper thought. It is clear, and the Founders are correct, that they wanted a nation in which people had freedom of conscience, and of religion. The state could not impose one religion or the other, neither could it oppose one's right to freely exercise that religion. The line is clear, though. You cannot use your religion to actually subvert freedom of religion, or any other rights. You can believe that you should, but you do not have the right to actually act on such a belief.

Radical Islamists, Communists, Nazis, etc. can express any ideas that they want under the First Amendment, as wicked as those ideas are. They cannot use those ideas to justify acts that take away others' rights.

Rape, murder, actual acts of treason, etc. are not protected speech, because they violate others' rights. The answer is to confront evil ideas with good ideas, not outlaw them (regardless of any justifications the much ballyhooed Venona Papers supposedly establish). When ideas turn to action, then it's another matter.

As a matter of principle, I think Popper was simply suggesting that it is philosophically impossible to have unlimited tolerance (a fact that the hardcore multiculturalists haven't understood yet). It becomes problematic ehrn you start using the state to fight intolerance (a possible risk with a lot of European hate crimes laws), because you're back to the same problem again.

At the end of the day, the Founders believed totally in religious toleration, up until the point when it is used to undermine religious toleration (through state power, terrorism, etc). That rule ought to still apply today.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Joe Biden's Big Snaffu

Sen. Joe Biden likes to talk a lot. We all know this. Apparently, his mouth has gotten him into some trouble. At a campaign event, while thanking a supporter of Indian-American descent for his support, he pointed out how the Indian-Anerican community supports him, by saying this:

"You CANNOT go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent ... I'm not joking."

Oh, crap. He's stepped in it this time. I needn't explain to you why this was offensive. It clearly plays on the stereotype of Indians working only in convenience stores. Raj Peter Bhakta isn't happy, and has called out Biden. If the name sounds familar, it's Raj from The Apprentice. He's a Republican running for Congress. His blog covers more of the details of this. In case you're wondering, this is true. Biden did say this. There's a video.

Raj was on Hugh Hewitt's show talking about the double-standard, and how some Dems have done this before. In 2004, Kerry compared Sikhs to terrorists, and Hillary made a comment about seeing Gandhi at a gas station.

There's no defending this one. Joe's definitely put his foot in his mouth this time, and may have alienated all the Indian-Americans he claims support him.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sometimes, The Caption Says More Than We Realize

I just couldn't resist this. Beat this caption:

Note to Joe Lieberman: Don't even sweat this. Some of us still have your back.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

An Excess of Zeal? (Or Why The New York Times Screwed Us All Over)

I'm sure you all know about the bruhaha over the NYT publishing a story on a classified Treasury Department plan to thwart terror funding, that was leaked to them by government officials. I've always believed that the press has the right, even the moral duty, the act as a check on government power, and keep the public informed, when they need to be informed, even in wartime. With this, on the other hand, I'm left wondering why they would release this. This isn't the NSA wiretapping story. This isn't Abu Ghraib. This is a terror-fighting tool that is unquestionably legal (they have warrants), and looks to have really worked. Now, it appears that the program may have been blown. The obvious question is, why publish it? What's the public interest?

Now I'm not one to in any way advocate prosecuting journalists for these sorts of things. Legally, the New York Times has done nothing wrong. The same cannot be said of those government employees who leaked classified info. I reject the idea that the press should be somehow suppressed, because as I've said, that undermines the rights of the free press. We don't want to go down that path. I'm left wondering what the Times' motivations are, besides the "public's right to know," and disdain for Bush.

For some, the answer is crudely simple. The NYT has sided with the enemy. I reject that in its entirety. The press generally believes in their role as a check on government abuse. If illegal or possibly illegal things are being done, let justice be done though the Heavens fall, they say. In most cases this is a good thing, but in wartime especially, we need a free and responsible press. Let me be clear:I don't think the NYT, or the press in general has somehow allied themselves with the terrorists. The problem is, they often see themselves as journalists above all else. The public's right to know, as they see it, trumps civic responsibility. If a plan to fight terrorists that works is undermined, so be it. Let's also not forget that Bush isn't really counted as an ally in that realm, and in many cases he's an outright foe. We all know how Bush Derangment Syndrome does a number on rational thought, like all ideological pathologies.

It seems to me that many journalists are so committed to the profession and the institution, that it becomes almost a religious commitment. The fact that a successful anti-terror tool has been compromised is not considered. The fact that this program is 100 percent legal is irrelevant to them. Their excess of zeal, often mixed with established biases, lead to these things happening. Honestly, I could defend a lot of the other stories on principle, particularly the wiretapping story, but this makes no sense. The public interest is undermined, because things that should be secret are now known, and thus compromised. All this being said, I still defend the press' right to inform. While I wish that many in the press would look beyond their zeal for being journalists, and anti-Bush zeal, and consider the effects their reporting might have on the country that buys their papers, any such cure for this problem would be worse than the disease.

While I don't think that it was necessarily the Times' intent to aid the terrorists, that doesn't change the fact that they may very well have.

UPDATE: I've changed my position slightly, regarding prosecution. It seems that they can be prosecuted for publishing this, and now that I think about it, probably should be.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Great Debate, Or A Partisan Ploy?

The House is debating the Iraq War as I write this, particularly a House resolution that essentially rejects a premature withdrawal from Iraq. As a supporter of the war (and therefore an opponent of premature withdrawal), the language of the resolution doesn't really bother me, but the underlying intent is manifestly partisan. This isn't as bad as when the Murtha resolution was "debated," but this whole thing, with such partisan photo-opping, is just unseemly. Let me say again that I firmly oppose a pullout, but I recognize that many people sincerely believe in that position, although they are flat out wrong on the issue. The fact that so many support a premature pullout is regrettable, but this just smells like a stunt.

Democracy Arsenal has a good piece on the politics of this thing, as well as the text of the Resolution.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hollywood, Do Your Duty!

The word on the street is that Deadwood, one of the best shows on TV in a looong time, may not make it past a two-episode fourth season. This is unacceptable. I'm with Bob Cesca. Come on, Hollywood fat cats, do your duty!!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why Zarqawi's Death Is A Big Deal

From Christopher Hitchens:

"For the defeatists and pacifists, these are easy questions to answer. Colin Powell was wrong to identify Zarqawi, in his now-notorious U.N. address, as a link between the Saddam regime and the Bin-Ladenists. The man's power was created only by the coalition's intervention, and his connection to al Qaida was principally opportunistic. On this logic, the original mistake of the United States would have been to invade Afghanistan, thereby forcing Zarqawi to flee his camp outside Herat and repositioning him for a new combat elsewhere. Thus, fighting against al-Qaida is a mistake to begin with: It only encourages them."

I think that (for once) Colin Powell was on to something. I know that Kurdish intelligence had been warning the coalition for some time before the invasion that former Afghanistan combatants were making their way into Iraq, which they saw as the next best chance to take advantage of a state that was both "failed" and "rogue." One might add that Iraq under Saddam was not an easy country to enter or to leave, and that no decision on who was allowed in would be taken by a junior officer.

And this one:

If we had withdrawn from Iraq already, as the "peace" movement has been demanding, then one of the most revolting criminals of all time would have been able to claim that he forced us to do it. That would have catapulted Iraq into Stone Age collapse and instated a psychopathic killer as the greatest Muslim soldier since Saladin. As it is, the man is ignominiously dead and his dirty connections a lot closer to being fully exposed. This seems like a good day's work to me.

Yeah, me too.

How To Deal With Ann Coulter (If You Must)

As I'm sure you all know by now, Ann Coulter's gotten herself into trouble again, over some comments she made in her latest book. I was hesitating to even write this piece (God knows I don't want to increase her book sales), but I had a couple of thoughts. The latest controversy is over some despicable comments about 9/11 widows in New Jersey. In fact, here's what the fuss is all about

Coulter's comment that has perhaps drawn the most attention is an attack on the widows of 9-11 victims, appearing on Page 103 of Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum), and read by Lauer: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

source: Media Matters

I don't know about you, but I'd say that's pretty darn despicable. She's drawn ire from liberals (including Hillary Clinton), and even conservatives. She goes on to call them "harpies," and the "Witches of East Brunswick." Apparently, this is all because they decided to actively support positions that she disagreed with. All in all, pretty vicious stuff. The thing is, this is hardly new. This is the latest in a career of over-the-top slanders, smears, and absurd invective. It's hard to be shocked by this, because it's become her raison d'etre.

The principal defense that her supporters (and they are many) offer up for this latest incident is that she was making a larger point about how liberals supposedly use victims of tragedies to prevent conservatives from attacking their arguments. She uses the term "human shields." She "argues" that these 9/11 widows were using their widow status to advance their argument, and manipulate people. Many who support her in other things but criticized this latest move argued that the point was valid, but it's lost by the poisonous rhetoric. David Horowitz calls her a national treasure. Some say she's a satirist, like a modern-day Mencken or Twain. (You think I'm making this up?) The Colbert Report is satire. Her catalog of attacks are not. After all, she admits that she believes everything she says. Her committed supporters say that she's edgy, tough, and she "tells it like it is." The only problem is, things aren't as she tells it.

The fact is, beneath all the poison and personal attacks, is an argument that really doesn't hold. The last thing her arguments need is to be undermined by her rhetoric. Let's deal with the argument at hand. Certainly, it's true that being a victim of tragedy gives your arguments no more weight in and of itself, but it certainly adds a measure of credibility. It certainly gives the person making the argument more weight as far as their motives are concerned. In the case of the 9/11 widows, one would think the fact that they lost their husbands on 9/11 might explain their commitment. If a woman is raped, couldn't the fact that she was raped explain her commitment to getting rapists off the street? Surely, it doesn't make her an expert, but it would explain her motives. As I've said, the fact that one has been victimized by tragedy, or fought in a brutal war doesn't support the argument by itself, but it ought to protect a person from being called a traitor, or a coward, from attacks like this.

Besides, it's not as if only liberals do it. Conservatives have done it too, and still do, even now. Conservatives have used 9/11 victims to justify their positions. They've used tragedy victims for their agendas. They've used veterans to prop up their arguments. The fact is, both sides do it. Both sides have gone too far. As far as Coulter's style in general, her supporters have defended that too. They say that the Left is worse, and someone has to stand up them. Of course, the truth is that both extremes can be equally vicious. A quick stop on the right side of the blogosphere, or talk radio, or Fox News proves that. For every Michael Moore or Al Franken, there's an Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity.

But at the end of the day, her arguments don't add up to much, except the usual right-wing fluff. Beneath all the venom, there's not much there. Liberals get incensed at her rhetoric, but that's what fuels her. The far-right loves her, and they love the fact that liberals can't stand her. She enjoys this. You see, that's the one thing liberals forget: She feeds off all of this. In fact, all of this controversy really has helped her book sales. It doesn't validate her points, but millions keep buying her books. People have a tendency sometimes to spend money on things they know, or should know aren't good for them. It's like fast food or porn.

There was an incident a while back in which Coulter got herself in trouble before. When her book Slander came out, she got herself in trouble. Many defended her, but as she went further and further, more people were turned off. The thing not to do, is to play her game. Don't shout her down at speeches, and for God's sake, don't throw things. Incivility cannot be overcome with equally uncivil behavior. Also, it makes her a martyr.

The biggest threat to Ann Coulter's credibility, is Ann Coulter. Her own words seal her fate. The best thing to do is ignore her. It might be hard for some, but oftentimes the best thing to do is to let her dig her own grave, and not give her any more attention. In fact, I've given her far too much in this blog post already.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's Official: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is Dead

Coalition forces executed a strike last night, and the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq has been taken out. Hallelujah. A victory for the mission in Iraq, for Coalition and Iraqi forces. It's far from over, but this is a great victory. Keep knockin' em down, brave soldiers, keep knockin' em down.

Zarqawi is dead. May the rat bastard roast in Hell.

The full story is here.

On The Gay Marriage Ban

As you all know, the Senate rejected the Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. I'm not for gay marriage, but I support civil unions, and I oppose the Amendment, because I feel that these issues should be left to the states. Besides federalism, there's also the fact that this amendment is unnecessary. The argument from conservatives is that activist judges have made this amendment necessary. That's their best argument, but it doesn't hold. Under current law, no state has to recognize another state's marriage. These issues, even the issues with the courts, can be worked out locally. Traditional marriage is all-important issue, but the threat has been greatly overblown, at least with regards to gay marriage.

The issue of politics is also important. Don't get me wrong, there are many Americans who really believe this a big deal, on both sides, and in many ways it is. As I've said, the role of marriage and the family are not small issues. Many believe, on moral and religious grounds, that homosexuality is wrong, and marriage ought to be between a man and a woman. These people aren't bigots, and it demeans them and the debate to say that they are. I do feel that many people are being misled for political and ideological purposes, and are being led to believe that the threat to marriage is greater than it is. Also, there are many other issues that are of a graver and more immediate threat.

It's also telling that this issue is being brought up now, right before an election, and the last time this issue was brought up was 2004, right before an election. Both times, supporters knew it wouldn't pass. Are there sincere players in this game? I'm sure there are. It's possible that for some this is a principled fool's errand, but this makes me wonder:

It takes two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress to send a proposed amendment to the states for ratification. The House will take up the issue next month.

Despite the defeat, amendment backers insisted progress had been made because the debate over three days raised the issue's profile and will force candidates to answer for their votes on the campaign trail.

As I've said, these issues are all-important, which makes the politicking and pandering all the more sinister. 45 out of 50 states have statutes or amendments banning gay marriage. The majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. However, the Constitution protects all Americans, and we ought not trample those protections, federalize marriage, and thus undermine the very principles were trying to protect, certainly not for politics.

But let's be civil-- condescension never wins arguments, on either side.