Politics: March 2006 Archives

Harry Browne

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I just found out Harry Browne died. I was on vacation when he died on March 1, so that's probably why I didn't know.

He's the first person, that I know of, that I've voted for, who is now dead. slashdot.org

Media Matters Doesn't

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I was telling someone that Media Matters is a very heavily biased web site that lacks any credibility. To make the point, I went to the web site and picked the top story, whatever it happened to be. It was After repeatedly reporting Democrats lacked plan, CNN ignored party's new national security strategy .

So here's the facts: the Democrats released a new strategy in the early afternoon of March 29. There was only one short mention of the plan on CNN in the first few hours of the press conference about it, and then a longer segment at 5 p.m.

The plan contained nothing that would significantly improve Iraq, and was a summary of things the Democrats have been talking about for months: screening 100 percent of imported cargo, increasing size of our Special Forces and National Guard, getting better body armor for troops, giving more resources to first responders, and giving more money for veterans benefits.

In the CNN story, reporter Dana Bash talks mostly about the plan in terms of the coming elections, which, of course, is primarily what the plan is about. Harry Reid is quoted extensively in the piece, criticizing Bush. She mentions the Democrats' "broad plan" for security, and says it is "some of the ideas that, frankly, we've heard before" and did not include a "clear plan for Iraq." Both of which are true: actually, I'd go farther and say it is verifiably true that there's no new idea in the plan that the Democrats have not been touting for weeks or months, if not years.

So, Media Matters is lying when it says the new strategy is ignored; it is at best debatable whether this strategy is "new" at all; and it is transparently hypocritical when it criticizes CNN for daring to treat this "plan" in the same way that Media Matters and CNN both treat Bush and Republican proposals that don't say anything new.

See how easy this game is to play? Let's go to the very next story: Going to the very next story, One day after covering GOP attack on Dem national security proposal, NY Times ignores its rollout .

Ah, same basic theme. Let's read on: apparently, this is one of those "true but stupid" statements: the Times gave significant coverage to the proposal the day it was rolled out, and didn't follow up the next day because there was nothing new to report. So there is absolutely no truth to the notion that the Times ignored the rollout of the plan, and in fact, they covered the plan in some depth: they just didn't cover it on a specific day.

And somehow the fact that it was published on March 29 and not March 30 is significant to these people. Probably because these people are simply not reasonable.

Again, I just picked these two stories at random. I am not cherry-picking. There are a few web sites that I simply distrust before I ever read what they have to say. This one is at the very top of that list. slashdot.org

Climate Change

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On This Week this week, Katrina Van Den Heuvel, liberal par excellence of The Nation, was commenting on climate changed, and noted that the chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution called those who question climate change "climate loonies."

He added, "There are a group of people in various parts of the world ... who simply don't want to accept human activities can change climate and are changing the climate. I'd liken them to the people who denied that smoking causes lung cancer."

But he also said that climate change was "very likely" the cause of increased hurricane intensity and frequency, which most hurricane experts think is simply not true.

So he's obviously not infallible on the subject, though she tried to make him seem authoritative.

The fact is, there is global warming. The fact is, we do not know what causes it, and we do not know that it is not part of a normal environmental cycle. There is simply no proof, or even -- to me -- compelling evidence, that humans are causing global climate change.

However, that said, we do know that there are some very good theories explaining climate change, in part, in terms of human acitivity, and that if those theories are correct, and we do nothing, we're screwed. So we should take action, even while not knowing for sure if there is a problem that we're causing, or can correct. slashdot.org

Stupid Immigrants

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There's a lot of legitimate points both ways on this immigration debate. Personally, I oppose any action being taken, of any kind, until the borders are enforced, because any other plan will fail if that does not happen. Obviously, many people disagree with that notion, though I cannot fathom why.

But honest people can have honest differences. However, one sign I saw in the marches this weekend -- spray-painted on a large sheet, held up by several immigrants -- showed how many people on that side of the debate do not care about honesty, and could not care less about U.S. sovereignty or law: "WE DID NOT CROSS THE BORDER / THE BORDER CROSSED US."

Uh, not unless you are a lot older than you look, no, it didn't. And even if it did cross the border of your own ancestors, then your parents etc. would have been born here, and you'd be a citizen, and you'd have no reason to complain about this law, since it is only about illegal aliens.

This sign is saying that it doesn't matter what we want with our country, that because they believe they were here first, they have a right to break our laws and steal our social services. They are, probably, of the same disease that afflicts hundreds of thousands of Southern California Mexicans, believing that California should again become a part of Mexico.

I hope they understand that such nonsensical statements displayed for the rest of the country to see don't help their cause any. Of course, if I am any reasonable judge of what their true cause is, then it makes me happy to see that they are so politically inept. slashdot.org

Iraq was involved with 9/11?

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Can someone find me President Bush, or anyone else in his administration, ever saying Iraq was one of the countries that attacked us on 9/11?

And I will not accept simply juxtaposing Iraq with al Qaeda, comparing them as equivalent or similar threats. That is not the same thing. You can argue that Bush meant to make an implication to that effect, but I will disagree, so don't bother. I want an actual unequivical statement, not what you think is an implication.

Also unacceptable is a quote of someone saying that Iraq and al Qaeda worked together, with Atta meeting Iraqi officials in Prague, and so forth. That is a recitation of intelligence data, it is not an analysis that therefore Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Even if al Qaeda and Iraq did share intelligence, even if they did some training or weapons sales or anything else of that sort, it does not stand to reason that therefore Iraq had anything to do with 9/11.

I think no such statement exists. Prove me wrong.

Now Playing: Dave Matthews - Gravedigger


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Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war vet who lost her legs while serving, is running for Congress in Illinois' Sixth District, as a Democrat. She just won the primary.

The problem is, she does not live in the Sixth District. And no one -- the press, the party officials, the voters -- seems to care.

Looking up Illinois law, apparently they do not require members of Congress to live in the district they're running in. The 2006 Candidate Guide says state representatives and senators must reside in the district they represent, but there's no such requirement listed for U.S. Congress representatives.

I checked my own state, and the relevant law says all candidates for office must be, "at the time the candidate's declaration of candidacy is filed, properly registered to vote in the geographic area represented by the office." But then it continues: "The requirements of voter registration and residence within the geographic area of a district do not apply to candidates for congressional office."

What is wrong with these states? Or is it unconstitutional to add additional qualifications for election to the U.S. Congress, even a simple thing like residency within your district?

I'd never vote in the primary for someone who was not a resident of my district. That's just stupid. Of course, in the general election, you're often faced with a choice between two candidates, and you probably hate at least one of them, so unfortunately, people will mostly end up voting regardless of residency. slashdot.org

Lincoln Was Pro-Slavery

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Mike McGavick, Republican candidate from Washington for the U.S. Senate, has a common view of abortion. He wants to restrict it -- he favors requiring parental consent, banning late-term abortions, no federal funds -- and he believes that abortion is wrong.

But he would not abolish it by law. He wants to get rid of abortion gradually, recognizing the fact that the law of the land protects the right to abortion, and that the people simply won't accept a law banning it.

Many on the far right -- and I don't use that term pejoratively, because I am on the far right -- believe that this means he is pro-choice, that he is no different from current Senator Maria Cantwell (even though, on its face, that's false, as she opposes such restrictions as he favors).

But more importantly, is this a valid position? History may be instructive. A certain other Republican was running for the Senate too, 150 years ago, and he said that slavery should be restricted: it should not be allowed to spread, we should not open up the slave trade again, and so on. But we should keep it safe and legal: don't change the law any time soon, and do protect the rights of slaveowners. He said:

When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it, in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia,-to their own native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope, (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. ... It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge them, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives, which should not, in its stringency, be more likely to carry a free man into slavery, than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an innocent one.

But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more excuse for permitting slavery to go into our own free territory, than it would for reviving the African slave-trade by law. The law which forbids the bringing of slaves from Africa, and that which has so long forbid the taking of them to Nebraska, can hardly be distinguished on any moral principle; and the repeal of the former could find quite as plausible excuses as that of the latter.
There's nothing new or outrageous about a position which recognizes a terrible societal ill, and says we should not abolish it immediately simply because the cure would likely be worse than the disease.

Of course, Lincoln was not elected that year. And when he became President, he could not prevent secession, despite his willingness to keep slavery alive in the South. So maybe this is not the best position to have. slashdot.org
By mistake I saw The Daily Show tonight. Russ Feingold was on.

Feingold lied again, saying they know "there are no legitimate legal justifications" for the NSA wiretapping. That "everybody basically knows it." He's lying. There are several legal justifications, and at least one solid one that has been accepted by the courts previously (inherent authority). And while it's true that the Congress did not intend to authorize wiretaps, that does not mean, as per Hamdi, that the effect was not to authorize them.

Again, I don't know whether the wiretapping is, or should be, legal. But I can't abide by Feingold's lying: he states there is no legal justification, not even a legitimate argument for one, and he's lying.

Enough about that.

Stewart was just his nonsensical partisan self, reaffirming my decision to stop watching some months ago. He can be funny, but the "Republicans are evil" bit -- which he obviously believes, and is not just trying to be funny about -- is real old.

So Stewart showed Republican House Leader John Boehner making a crazy statement about Feingold maybe being more concerned about the safety and security of the terrorists than of the American people.

Yes, Boehner was being stupid.

But then Stewart asks Feingold, "How do you have a dialogue with the administration about real issues when to bring up something like this gets you accused of being in league with the terrorists? And how do you work with a guy like that? How do you not walk past that guy, and give him a poke him in the eye?"

First of all, it was the House leadership, not the Bush administration. Second, and more importantly, Feingold is not trying to have a dialogue about real issues. He is grandstanding over some stupid censure resolution and lying about the motives and justifications for the wiretapping.

And third, how do the Republicans not walk past Feingold and give him a poke in the eye over his ridiculous censure resolution?

Yes, Boehner was -- to reference the journal entry earlier today -- using a stupid straw man to attack Feingold. But a minute later, Feingold made the same basic statment about the Republicans (and has been saying the same thing for awhile): "[the Republicans] are unwilling to admit they made any mistakes ... they don't even respect the law, they don't even care about the idea that we have a system of laws that we should obey."

So Feingold was not only using the same straw man tactic as Boehner, and using it as egregiously (one guy loves terrorists, and the other hates the law), but he also threw a begging-the-question fallacy in there for good measure.

But does Stewart flog Feingold? Of course not. Instead, he agreed with Feingold's use of the same rhetorical device that he said Boehner should get his eye poked over. And after noting that he has no idea about the legal arguments, Stewart concluded, "This feels like some attempt at accountability, and that's what I really like about it."

Which says it all right there. Stewart's an ignorant, anti-Republican hack. But at least he admits it.

I love Stephen Colbert though. His response: "How dare Senator Feingold try to censor the President? This is America! He has every right to speak without being censored! I demand Russ Feingold be formally upbraided through some kind of moral declaration voted on by his colleagues!" slashdot.org

Straw Men

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Wow. kikta just sent me an article that questioned the reasonableness of another article, and man, the original article is a completely unreasonable hatchet job.

It purports to show that Bush uses straw man arguments to tilt arguments in his favor. Now, there's two problems with this article. First and foremost, it is presented not as opinion or analysis, but as straight news, and it simply is not. Second -- as evidence it is not -- it contains mostly half-truths and no-truths.

Her lede is, "Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," President Bush said recently. She concludes the opening with, Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

"Of course"? This is "news"? And her assertion itself is false: we see lots of people assert that every day in the polls, and we see several prominent politicians say it, including John Murtha (who is prominent only because he is saying it, which itself tells you that a lot of people agree with him).

One "expert" the author quotes says, "'some' suggests a number much larger than is actually out there." That's false. It suggests only that the antecedent of "some" is of some importance, which could be a result of a large number, or relative prominence: if John Kerry says it, but almost no one else believes it, that usage is perfectly reasonable.

And there's no requirement to name who you are referring to. As far back as our written language goes, people have argued against other unnamed people (see the Federalist Papers for some good examples). What matters is that the views are being properly represented, not that the proponents are named.

My favorite part of the article, shows clearly that this is nothing more than a partisan hatchet job:

Running for re-election against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, Bush frequently used some version of this line to paint his Democratic opponent as weaker in the fight against terrorism: "My opponent and others believe this matter is a matter of intelligence and law enforcement."

The assertion was called a mischaracterization of Kerry's views even by a Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
What's left out is that Kerry used the same sort of straw man attacks on Bush. All the time. And McCain also said that Kerry's characterizations of Bush were incorrect.

This "news article" isn't. slashdot.org

McCain and McGavick

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I went to the fundraiser last night for U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick (R-WA), at which Seator John McCain spoke.

It was quite good, as far as these things go.

I sat next to an Alec Sr. and Alex Jr., both Washington natives, who also spent a bunch of years living in Alaska. The younger of the Alecs noted that this was similar to Alaskan events they had attended, minus the bolo ties.

U.S. House candidate Doug Roulstone was also there, at the next table over. He's got his own big fundraiser next month: Vice Preswident Dick Cheney will be his guest. It's hard to top Senator McCain, but that'll do it. Cheney and McCain are the two most powerful Republicans in the District of Columbia, after the President. So these two candidates are big-time.

The luminaries made their rounds, shaking hands at each table: former and likely future gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, McGavick, and recently elected state party chair Diane Tebelius. The latter asked me if we'd met before, and I wasn't sure; I know I'd seen her before at various events, but I couldn't recall if we'd actually met. She assured me we had, as she remembered my eyes.

McGavick spoke first, and worked hard to position himself as a moderate, independent Republican, saying that McCain was the perfect example of what he hoped to be as a Senator. He railed against fiscal irresponsibility and pork, and against partisan bickering. He said that such division is not the Northwest Way, that in the Northwest we work together to reach common goals. I wondered, to myself, why then the state legislature is so bitterly partisan.

He took only one real jab at his opponent, incumbent Maria Cantwell, when he said that if he were in the Senate, the Gang of 14 would have been a Gang of 15, and pointed out that Cantwell was in the trenches lobbing partisan bombs.

McCain had a similar message about cutting pork and working with the Democrats, instead of being a partisan jerk all the time, and he certainly has the record to back up both. He criticized the "hysterical" response to the Dubai ports deal, and said we made a bad mistake by rejecting it. He went on to talk about illegal immigration, and I went home and looked up the details of his plan, and I like it more now than I did when I read about it before.

Basically, if I understand it correctly, his plan would be border enforcement first and foremost, he says. Everyone says that. I have yet to see a real proposal for doing it. But after that is where there's a lot of disagreement. Under his plan, illegals can get a work visa for up to six years. There would be heavy penalties for working without one, or hiring someone who didn't have one. If you decide you want to stay after the visa expires, you have to learn English and pay a $2000 fine to apply for permanent resident status, getting a Green Card. Else, you have to go home.

He noted that many Republicans want to deport all illegals, but a. there's no way to do it, and b. that's a terrible political move.

That's going to be a huge issue in the 2008 election (I have little hope it will be resolved before then).

Now Playing: Sting - The Secret Marriage

Blix Wrong

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I noticed this quote yesterday. It's from the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Hans Blix says something which is just totally false:

JIM LEHRER: You said in your book that there were monumental... that's your word... monumental intelligence failures about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. What is the most monumental of all?

HANS BLIX: There are two, there are three monumental. The first one I mentioned, this was the alleged contract between Iraq and Niger on the import of raw uranium. Both the CIA and British intelligence had had that for months. It was referred to by President Bush in the State of the Union message in 2003. And the IAEA was asking to get it and they got it fairly late I think in February 2003. And it took them only a day to establish that this was a forgery. Now, I think with the intelligence agency with all their labs and their techniques, that was monumental that they had not discovered this.

In fact also, we know now that Ambassador Wilson of the U.S. had been to Niger and he had also expressed the view that this was not real. The other one was the British news of something that turned out to be a research essay by an Iraqi student at a university, and this was presented as something new, some new evidence. They had to pull it back eventually. So I think there were things that really were, in my view, rather scandalous.
The problem is, of course, that the forgeries, and what Wilson discovered in Niger, had nothing to do with the British intelligence, or what Bush referred to in his 2003 State of the Union speech.

Not that Blix necessarily should have been aware of this. This was an IAEA matter, and he was not involved in it. But he wrote about it in his book, and jeez, in the summer of 2003 -- 9 months or so before Blix said the above -- when the Wilson thing broke, I was myself questioning whether what Wilson was talking about actually related to what Bush said. Turns out, it didn't.

I wouldn't suggest this should call into question everything Blix says, but it is instructive: do not take analysis, even from experts, at face value. I trust what Iraq war critics like Blix, and Richard Clarke, and others say when they stick to the facts: the who, what, where, and when. But the how and why, I like to think for myself on.


Helen Thomas, Whopperette

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"Journalist" Helen Thomas went after Bush yesterday, finally getting her chance to ask Bush a question. As noted before, her questions are pretty stupid. But this one is stupider than her previous proposals, starting out with: "Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true."

It's bad form to lie in your question.

Many of the reasons given for war were absolutely true: Iraq's noncompliance with UN resolutions (687, the cease fire, and following, up to and including 1441), Iraq's "brutal repression" of Iraq's civilians, its "hostility" toward the U.S., and its ties to terrorist groups (maybe not al Qaeda, but certainly others). Those are all obviously, absolutely, unquestionably, true.

And, incidentally, we still do not know if there were no WMD. Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviewed a former Iraqi general who said his planes flew WMD to Syria before the invasion. I've not believed that Iraq did have usable WMD since Powell's weak UN presentation, and I still don't believe it, but I would not be at all surprised if they did. We simply don't know. slashdot.org

Stupid Studies

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There's a study out that purports to show that whiny kids are more likely to be conservatives when they grow up.

Even if that is true -- and there's no way to know, even if the study was a good one, because the study was done in a specific geographic location where that might be true primarily because of those local factors -- it's not very interesting.

The article references another study, saying, "The researchers reviewed 44 years worth of studies into the psychology of conservatism, and concluded that people who are dogmatic, fearful, intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, and who crave order and structure are more likely to gravitate to conservatism."

You need a study for that? It's obvious that if you have a stronger-than-normal need for structure, in the U.S. anyway, you will tend to be more conservative. And similarly, if you have some stronger-than-normal aversion to structure, you will tend to be more liberal.

But this only describes the fringe cases. I am strong-willed and independent, and have been since at least Junior High. And I do readily admit that some of those personality traits have tended to make me more open to liberal ideas. I am very anti-authoritarian. I think people should be able to do as they please so long as they are not harming anyone else. I am therefore open to some drug legalization, and I support civil unions for homosexual couples.

So why am I not a liberal? Because there's something more important than my personality traits that determines my political leanings.

The article concludes with this:

All of us, liberal or conservative, feel as though we've reached our political opinions by carefully weighing the evidence and exercising our best judgment. But it could be that all of that careful reasoning is just after-the-fact self-justification. What if personality forms our political outlook, with reason coming along behind, rationalizing after the fact?

It could be that whom we vote for has less to do with our judgments about tax policy or free trade or health care, and more with the personalities we've been stuck with since we were kids.
Well, that's getting close to the point, but it is still missing it. It's not personality, it's beliefs.

For example, I believe that individual liberty is a higher principle than helping my fellow man, which is also of great importance to me. But given the choice, I'll choose liberty. That means I don't believe in being forced to help my fellow man, and this therefore informs my views on the welfare state. Further, I believe that the helping your fellow man is best -- most efficient, most productive, most beneficial in every way -- if it is done freely.

There's no objective right or wrong on which is the best way to help people, through government programs or private acts. And I don't pretend otherwise. I do not, as the author claims, feel that my opinion is based primarily on objective analysis: I know full well it is at root based on a subjective, but well-supported, set of beliefs. The analysis of the evidence then fits into that existing framework.

So I am not against the welfare state because of my personality; I am against it because of my deeper beliefs, and subsequent objective analysis. Those beliefs are in part informed by my personality, but far less so than they are informed by my culture and personal experiences. slashdot.org

Anti-Semitic Actors

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I had no idea Gary Busey was an anti-Semite, but he sure seems to be. I'm a month late on this, but maybe you hadn't seen it either.

Busey plays a Jewish doctor who works with American troops to harvest the organs of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, to send those organs to the U.S., UK, and Israel. This is a variation on the age-old "blood libel" of the Jews.

On the other hand, we know Busey is a bit crazy and stupid, maybe he just didn't realize the implications of his role.

And oh my: a BBC article doesn't even mention that Busey's character is Jewish, which is -- as far as Muslims in the Middle East are concerned -- the point! Maybe the BBC author/editor simply assumed that Busey's character being Jewish would be understood by its readers as a given?

The film seems to be bad enough in its libelling of American troops, but that has happened as long as stories have been told. You demonize your enemy, nothing new there. But that an American would participate in the perpetuation of this "blood libel" of the Jews is incredible to me.

I still think he did a great job as Buddy Holly. But as a friend of mine said, I won't be running out to see any of his other movies very soon. That goes for costar Billy Zane as well, who plays a Christian U.S. military commander who feels he is doing God's will by ridding the world of Muslims.

Zane, to his credit, disavows much of the movie's content, pleading ignorance, but come on, how ignorant could he possibly have been? Did he not know about Busey's character harvesting organs? And did he really think his character is representative of any U.S. military commander, or did he think it would not be taken by the Muslim world as representative of most of U.S. military commanders? Did he even think that given who this movie was created by and for, he should maybe have looked more into it? slashdot.org

McCain & McGavick & Me

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It looks like I am going to a Mike McGavick fundraiser this Tuesday night. He's running against Maria Cantwell for the U.S. Senate. Senator John McCain will be the featured speaker.

I went to the Snohomoish County annual Lincoln Day Dinner last month, which features Bush's Secretary of Veteran Affairs James Nicholson. It's only the second time that I know of that I've been around the Secret Service; the first time was in the 2000 campaign when I went to a post-debate rally in Boston, that then-candidate George Bush was speaking at. It was a peewee hockey rink in Southie. We watched the debate on a screen, then Bush showed up for a few minutes.

I doubt McCain will have Secret Service, but next month, there's another fundraiser, this time for U.S. Congress candidate Doug Roulstone, and Vice President Dick Cheney will be speaking. I know Cheney doesn't need Secret Service, because he can defend himself, but I suspect they will be there anyway. slashdot.org
The Washington State Supreme Court has now ruled that if you are a public employee, you can be required -- as a condition of your employment -- to financially support political causes you may disagree with.

Is it mere coincidence that this ruling comes down while the Court has a Democrat majority, the legislature is absolutely controlled by the Democrats, the governor is a Democrat, and the unions in question give the money in question to Democrats?

On top of that, the Democrats greatly increased the size of government this month by spending most of the newfound budget surplus; bigger government means more employees, which means more union dues, which means more campaign contributions for Democrats.

This is likely to be appealed in federal court, on the grounds that forcing workers to contribute to a political party as a condition of employment violates their rights. I hope the Court goes a step further, and says that forcing workers to contribute to unions is a violation of their rights. Let the unions do what they want with their money, but don't force workers to give them money in the first place. slashdot.org

Escape From Iraq

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A lot of pundits are talking about Bush trying to set conditions so he can "escape" from Iraq, because we're "losing" the war, and he finally realizes we need to "retreat."

But nothing significant has changed since the invasion. In the infamous-and-almost-universally-misremembered "Mission Accomplished" speech, far from Bush saying that the "mission" was "accomplished" in Iraq and that we would leave soon -- something that was never said, but most people believe he did -- he actually said:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. ... The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

Now, it turns out the work was even more difficult than Bush figured. But that did not change the exit plan: we would stay until the political structure of Iraq was rebuilt, and could stand on its own. That is still the plan.

It's nonsensical to say that Bush is trying to "escape" by pulling out U.S. troops as Iraqi forces can take control; that is not retreat, that is the definition of success. slashdot.org

Child Rape Politics

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The Washington state Republicans did a phone ad campaign in the 44th District targetting the two incumbent Democrats for their lack of support for tough child rapist penalties.

I think it is a great ad. It sticks to the facts: a child rapist is moving into their community, and the Democrats oppose keeping people like him behind bars for life. People are complaining because people are, in the words of John Lovick, one of the Democrats, "unnecessarily fearful." No, they are not. They are rightfully, justifiably, necessarily fearful. "Scaremongering" is only a reasonable claim if there is not an actual, material, imminent reason to be afraid.

The other Democrat, Hans Dunshee -- always good for a soundbite -- said, "It's that threat (of sex offendeers) that is more important than the politics of it." Right. And this ad lets people know that they refuse to take the threat seriously enough.

Dunshee caps it off with an accusation that the Republican candidates, Mike Hope and Robert Legg, of lying when they said they had nothing to do with it. I know both of them. Saw them tonight, actually, at a meeting of the Evergreen Republican Women, where one of my state reps, Dan Kristiansen, was speaking (I am in the 39th District, which is next door to the 44th).

I can't see either of them lying about this, especially Robert, who's one of the nicest and most honest people I know. He's a pastor and has served in the Air Force for almost 30 years, currently serving in the office of the Inspector General. If he says he didn't know about it, as far as I and the people who know him are concerned, he didn't know about it.

Not that I would care if they did know about it. It's a great ad. I don't care about negative ads when there's something to be justifiably, angrily, negative about. I hate manufactured rage over relatively unimportant issues, but this is an issue most voters have some legitimate outrage about: we are seeing a nearly constant release of violent rapists from prison, and little is being done about it. Frankly, I do not think it is possible to discuss this issue, and what the Democrats did (and didn't do) about it, and not be extremely negative.

Of course, Dunshee can't be taken too seriously; he is the guy who said that "Whatever we do on sex offenders, the Republicans will want to do more. ... If we want to hang them, they'll want to to hang 'em and shoot 'em," disguising the fact that Dunshee did not want to hang them, but let them out of prison after a few months.

The bottom line is that if people were not so upset, the Democrats wouldn't care; and people are only so upset because there is something to be so upset about. In order for their complaints to be taken seriously, they are going to have to convince the people that a. there is nothing to be concerned about or b. the Democrats are doing a good job at keeping child rapists behind bars. As neither is true, they won't have much luck. slashdot.org

Huffington Is Dumb

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On "The Huffington Post," Arianna posted a "blog" purporting to be from George Clooney. It was not. His publicist, according to Arianna, approved it.

There's three major problems with this. First, there's the ethical problem of saying this was written by Clooney, when it was not. No need to belabor the point.

Second, there's the fact that she calls a single entry in a "blog" a "blog." For example, she wrote: "The George Clooney blog that was posted on the Huffington Post Sunday was published only after we received written approval from his representative to do so."

The word "blog" is annoying enough with it being so misused. It's like George Will saying "the magazine I wrote for Newsweek last week ... ." Stop it, it's stupid.

Third, the "Clooney" article itself -- which, again, he didn't write -- was just stupid.

It implies things like suffrage and equal pay for women and civil rights for blacks are "liberal" issues, even though those issues were championed by Republicans long before Democrats, and today those are not "liberal" issues at all.

It says "liberals" believe Vietnam was wrong, even though it was a liberal Democrat war.

It says "liberals" believe Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, even though Bush has for years said Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, and never said anything to the contrary.

The article also whines about McCarthy, perhaps in reference to Clooney's recent movie. Yes, McCarthy was "wrong" in a significant sense, but you have to be able to separate mission from method. McCarthy's method was wrong. I know of no one who thinks otherwise, and that's what Clooney's movie was about. But McCarthy's mission was perfectly defensible: that Communists -- or, in today's terms, radical Islamists -- should not be in sensitive government positions. Duh.

Summary: dumb process, dumb terminology, dumb article. slashdot.org


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I dug out my Thugs commercial and put it on Google Video. It's the one that shows how violent Kerry supporters really were during the campaign. slashdot.org

New Slogans

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Washington has a bill about the right of pharmacists to not dispense pills they dislike (namely, so-called "emergency contraception"). I've come up with a slogan for the pro-choice groups who oppose the bill, saying that pharmacists should be required to provide the medication: "Keep the government out of our lives [unless we are pharmacists]."

Or a slogan for the pharmacists: "My pharmacy, my choice."

And please, all you out there who complain about the "religious right" wanting the government to tell people what to do, remember how this is one of many issues where it is the left, not the right, who wants the government to tell people what to do. slashdot.org

Feingold, You Lost Me

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Russ Feingold was so reasonable during the judicial hearings for Justices Robers and Alito. But now he is going to attempt to censure the President over the NSA wiretaps.

The problem is that the Congress has no authority to say that what the President did in the NSA wiretapping is illegal. The courts have all, in every case, upheld the President's inherent authority to conduct searches without a warrant, and without Congressional authorization. The FISA Court of Review said so as recently as a few years ago, when overturning the lower FISA Court's attack on the PATRIOT act.

Feingold simply lied on This Week today when he said the President's justification for "inherent authority" allows him to assassinate American citizens at will. But that's false, and he absolutely knows it: this is specific to searches alone.

Maybe the FISA Court of Review, and all others who have consistently upheld the President's authority to do this, were wrong. But Congress can't say so. Only the Supreme Court can.

I am still very uncomfortable with the President having this authority; I do not believe any branch of government should be able to operate either openness with the public, or oversight by another branch. I am not saying Bush did the right thing. I am saying that, by all indications, he is doing the legal thing, and Congress has nothing legitimate to say about it.

And I am saying Feingold is simply lying, because he knows he is saying things that are false, just to score political points against Bush, and that's really annoying. slashdot.org

Presidential Candidates

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There was an event in Tennessee today for GOP candidates for President. One pundit on MSNBC said something to the effect of, the Republicans don't like that there is no front-runner. Said pundit is on crack.

This is great. There are lots of good choices, and the Republicans at large love that there are choices, and that their voices have a chance of mattering two years from now, when we go to our primaries and caucuses.

I just attended the precinct caucuses. They were held statewide in Washington on March 7. The location we went to was for a joint caucus for 42 different precincts, each representing hundreds of voters, most of whom vote Republican more often than Democrat. Any voter who chooses to identify himself with the Republican party may attend the caucus, but only six people attended, five of whom are PCOs, and one of whom was a spouse. Why so few?

There are, of course, several significant reasons, including lack of public knowledge. But the biggest reason, and the reason most of the others relates to, is the fact that there's no really good reason for most people to go.

There are only two big races for our precincts: U.S. Senate and the Second Congressional District (the fightin' second!). And for those two races, the state and county GOP have already (either in fact, or close enough to it) endorsed their candidates: Safeco CEO Mike McGavick (former chief of staff of popular former Senator Slade Gorton) and U.S. Navy Captain Doug Roulstone (former commander of the USS John C. Stennis).

The only other reason to go is to vote on the party platform, which most people don't care about.

But in two years, if there is no clear frontrunner, it will be a completely different story. We will have scores of people show up to case their lots for John McCain, George Allen, Mitt Romney, and so on. And don't think for a moment we won't enjoy it, or that we won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen.

For the curious, the precise mechanics for how this works in Washington is that at the precinct caucus, voters in each precinct elect delegates to the county convention and district caucus. All Precinct Committee Officers (of which I am one, elected in the primary in 2004, 110-1) in attendance are automatic delegates. Then, at the caucus of the legislative districts (of which I am the chair, for the 39th District), the delegates elect delegates to the state convention. And at the state convention, delegates are elected to the national convention.

In 2004, I narrowly missed being elected as an alternate to the national convention, even though no one knew me. As district chair, I am likely to be elected as a delegate to the national convention in 2008, where I will get a vote for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, where -- if there is still no clear frontrunner -- my voice, my vote, will actually be of great significance.

And I don't like this? This is great stuff! Who are they kidding? slashdot.org

Abortion and Rape

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I was listening to a pro-choice conservative talk show host the other night who said, essentially, that it is not a defensible position to be against abortion because you think the child in the womb is a life deserving of rights, and to also be in favor of an exception in the case of rape.

He is mostly right, but not entirely so. Some people (I am not one of them) believe that the reason the child's rights take precedence over the mother's is because the mother has already made her choice, when she chose to have sex. She chose to engage in behavior that she knew might result in the child existing, and therefore intentionally caused that child to exist, and has no right to destroy it.

And if you believe this, that the mother already exercised her right when she chose to have sex, and that this is the only reason why the baby's rights take precedence, then it is perfectly reasonable to say the mother's rights take precedence when she is pregnant against her will, such as because of rape.

I don't believe that, but apart from saying "I disagree that the mother's rights can justify killing another person," I can't say the reasoning is false. slashdot.org

Ports Deal Stupidity

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There are many myths surround this apparently defunct deal. It's gotten to be very annoying.

  • We are safer if Americans own critical American infrastructure.

    Yeah, because it's not like Americans would ever commit or support terrorist acts against America, right, Oklahoma City?

  • Muslim Arab companies are more likely to support terrorists than British companies.

    Maybe. This isn't entirely clear. We have put a lot of trust into this particular company, and we've not regretted it. This only means we should perhaps provide more scrutiny (though I am not sure what "more" would be: we should provide as much as is necessary in every case, no matter who it is).

  • But some of the hijackers came from the UAE!

    And the shoe bomber came from London. And Tim McVeigh was from Buffalo.

  • Well, it only highlights the fact that Bush is not taking port security seriously.

    No, but it is being used to try to project that image.

    Worse, it's being used by Congress to project that image, even though the reason our port security is lacking is dearth of funds, which is the sole responsibility of Congress. Despite popular belief, the President does not have any budgetary authority. He presents a budget, but it is essentially worthless. Congress can junk the whole thing and do its own. The fact that the President wastes our tax money on a budget does not mean the Congress has to follow it.

  • At least Congress is listening to the American people for once.

    I heard Lou Dobbs going on about this today: "Someone once said, we're smarter as a group than we are individually." Perhaps, but that assumes that as a group, we are well-informed about the particular issue. As Edmund Burke said: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

    Unfortunately, our representatives betray us all the time: if they didn't, they wouldn't win re-election as often. (Insert renewed call for a Constitutional amendment implementing term limits for the House and Senate HERE.)

Again, I don't know if this deal was a good one, or a bad one. The problem is that neither does pretty much anyone else who is up in arms against it.

But the American people don't care if they are ignorant, as long as they are angry enough, that's better than having facts. It's like the old SNL joke about First Citiwide Change Bank: "How do we make money making change? Volume."

So our representatives saw the writing on the wall: the people will not be swayed by any facts, no matter what they are, and most of them are up for re-election this year, so the deal died. It's that simple. slashdot.org

Line-Item Veto

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I am in principle opposed to a line item veto. That power belongs to the Congress.

However, I am also in principle opposed to federal power being exerted, unrestrained, over domestic matters. The court refuses to enforce the Tenth Amendment.

As such, I am in favor of a line-item veto. Wielded effectively -- as a President McCain would -- it can drastically cut pork.

I don't know how it can pass Constitutional muster though. It's been rejected once already, although even at the time, people said it could be fixed. I hope so. slashdot.org

Federal Funding

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Today the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the federal government has every right to force a school that accepts federal funds to allow military recruiters on campus. It was, of course, the only reasonable decision, as the 8-0 result shows.

And this is precisely why the federal government has no place in domestic affairs, except where necessary. Because when they get involved, they take control. That is how such things work.

Just though I'd point it out. slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from March 2006.

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