Politics: October 2007 Archives

Racist candidate for Seattle City Council Venus Velazquez got a second big hit to her campaign when she got arrested for drunk driving. She admits she made "a mistake," but says she wasn't actually impaired. Then how was it a mistake? And if it was a mistake, then why did you emphatically declare you didn't endanger anyone?

Hopefully this train wreck won't get elected, but in Seattle, you never know. She is dishonestly painting her opponent as a Republican, and in Seattle, even being a lying, drunk-driving racist is better than being a Republican.


Historical Revisionism

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Love the war or hate it, or come somewhere in between, but let's get the facts straight.

Senator Webb said last night:

... I think we need some clarity, because what the administration is saying today does not necessarily mean this is what it is intending to do in the near term or in the mid term. And we saw that, really, with all the rhetoric that came out in the invasion of Iraq.

We know now from history that the administration had decided to invade Iraq by September of '02. It got the authorization to invade Iraq in October of '02. And all the way up until March of '03, it was saying that it still wanted to use diplomacy. So let's clear the air here.
That's utter nonsense. We knew Bush's position in September 2002: regime change in Iraq. Bush was explicit at the time:

"The American people know my position," he said. "And that is that regime change [in Iraq] is in the interest of the world."
Bush was clear in September 2002: his intent was that either Iraq change regime peacefully, or we would do it by force. We tried diplomacy to achieve regime change. We offered Hussein the opportunity to comply fully and immediately with UN Resolution 1441; he did not. We offered Hussein the chance to leave Iraq peacefully; he did not. So we used force, just as Bush all along said he planned to do.

Anyone who thinks otherwise just wasn't paying attention.

You can disagree with the policy. You can think he didn't give Hussein enough of a chance. But let's not pretend he didn't do exactly what he said he would do. And when Senator Clinton says she never thought Bush would use the authority she voted to give him, let's not pretend she is being truthful. slashdot.org


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Video of a car thief stealing a "bait car" set up by the Bellevue police.

At the end, you can even see a bullet bounce inside the car. I think it grazed him. He tried to run over two bike cops, and a third cop shot at him in response. slashdot.org

Everything is About 2008

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Nancy Pelosi was talking last week on This Week about the genocide resolution and SCHIP. And she made one thing absolutely clear: everything she is doing is about winning in 2008, mostly by trying to make Iraq even more of an issue than it is. Nothing is about principle or helping people, it's just about attacking our mission in Iraq in order to win in 2008.

Take the genocide resolution. The resolution is essentially meaningless. It doesn't change anything about U.S. policy, and all it does is anger our allies who are helping us in Iraq. That is all it actually does (in violation, by the way, of separation of powers, since this represents Congress doing foreign policy, which is the purview of the Executive).

This was made more clear when Pelosi was asked about a resolution to call Iran's guard a terrorist group. She asked what the point would be. (Answer: to clarify who are actual enemies are, as opposed to the point of the genocide resolution, the point of which is to make an enemy out of an ally.) She said that's not the Congress' job (as opposed to its job being to play historian?). So what's the difference between the two resolutions? The Iran resolution may escalate chances of further conflict, and the genocide resolution will make it harder to continue the existing conflict. That's the difference.

On SCHIP, this is a block grant program: so why not just let the states put their own money into it, instead of taking the money from the states just to give it back to them? The answer is again simple: Iraq. Pelosi's main argument is that her SCHIP expansion costs less than Iraq. If we let states dump their own money into it, Iraq isn't made part of the issue. If you make it a federal issue, then Iraq can be compared to it. That's it, in total. This is why Pelosi says she won't compromise: because if she compromises, SCHIP gets passed, and it's no longer about Iraq.

Everything is about Iraq. It's not about helping anyone. It's all about Iraq, because it's all about 2008.

Next year is going to be UG-ly. slashdot.org

What Did Susan Orr Really Say?

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This Think Progress article about Susan Orr is making the rounds. It contends Orr "called contraceptives part of the 'culture of death.'"

It provides a citation, a 2000 Weekly Standard article. I can't find the article, and no link is provided, nor is any context provided. Here's all we've got:

In a 2000 Weekly Standard article, Orr railed against requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptives. "It's not about choice," said Orr. "It's not about health care. It's about making everyone collaborators with the culture of death."

But in 2000, Dr. Orr said that requiring insurers to cover family planning supplies and services -- a policy that promotes access to contraception in many states and the federal employee health program -- is "about making everyone collaborators with the culture of death." This leaves little doubt about where she has stood on contraception access.
Doesn't seem very clear to me, at all. The first quote provides no hints from the text as to the antecedent of "it," only the article author's claims that it refered to "contraceptives." The second implies disagreement with the first, saying the issue was not contraceptives specifically, but "family planning supplies and services." Although it then also says she is saying that about "contraceptives."

Either way, they give us no reason other than their word to believe it is about "contraceptives" in general, as they claim.

My guess is that she was specifically referring to services or supplies that destroyed (or inevitably led to the destruction of) a biologically living embryo (whether implanted or not), not contraception in general, and that her opponents know this and are lying: saying something knowingly false with the intent to deceive.

But I'd really like to see an actual copy of what she said so people could make up their own mind instead of having to trust Think Progress. slashdot.org
The House passed the federal shield law tonight. Orwellianly, they call it the "Free Flow of Information Act," but it serves to do nothing but restrict the flow of information.

What this law does is make sure that politicians and government officials can say almost whatever they want to the press without any repercussions, while at the same time providing professional journalists -- mere "bloggers" need not apply -- with exclusive access to stories and sources.

It's a game that's been played for a long time, of course, but now they are making it law. In other words, the things most people hate most about journalism are only going to get worse. You will see more and more unsourced stories, from fewer and fewer diverse perspectives, making sure you have less and less information with which to make informed opinions.

But since they talk about it in terms of "fundamental freedoms," which is another Orwellian trick to make you believe the absolute lie that there has ever been a fundamental right of the press that normal citizens do not have, well, I guess we should be happy about it, because, um, it's freedom. And stuff.

Make no mistake: this law is not for you and me. It's for government officials and the press, to give them more "freedom" to help themselves, instead of serving the public. slashdot.org

Graeme Frost

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The reason we allow -- even encourage -- attacking the claims of political opponents from all angles is because we think this is important to democracy: get all of the information out so people can honestly evaluate it.

So when the Democrtats put up a 12-year-old boy named Graeme Frost, who supposedly needs SCHIP for his health problems, to be the poster child for the SCHIP program, giving their talking points, meeting for photo ops with their leaders, and giving the Democratic radio address, why would it possibly be off-limits to criticizing what he says, and what his financial situation is?

Doesn't the same thing that drives us to get out all of the information about everyone else who chooses to be a part of the debate, drive us to get out information about Frost? Why should he be off limits?

The Democrats and his parents chose to put him up there. They have one (or both) of two motivations in complaining about Frost being criticized: either they are against debate, or their plan all along was to put up a child just so he WOULD be criticized, just so they COULD complain about it.

The simple fact of the matter is that if it is valid to question people on the right who insert themselves into the debate -- which Democrats do all the time -- then it is valid to do so of people on the left. Age doesn't matter. Democracy is the goal here.

As to the truth of those criticisms, they were slightly off the mark. They said the kids were in private schools and the two properties the family owned were expensive; the parents counter that the properties were purchased when they were a lot less, and the kids require financial aid.

But that doesn't end the story, of course: they could sell their house, for example. That would get them a lot of money that truly poor people don't have access to. And that well-illustrates the point: we can debate the issue. Should people have to sell their homes, if they can? Why, or why not? It is dishonest and irresponsible to say "we can't talk about things like that! This is a 12-year-old kid!" If you want to thrust the kid into the debate because of his situation, then let's have an actual debate about the facts of his situation.

Attempting to debate the situation of someone who thrusts himself into the debate, where that situation is material to the debate: bad. Telling baldfaced lies about a vet of three wars: good! slashdot.org

Robert Redford is an Idiot, Too

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From The Week:

Robert Redford has a dim view of American politics, says David Hochman in Playboy ... . His cynicism was reinforced when he received a Kennedy Center honor in 2005 and spent an evening hobnobbing with Washington's elite. "Here were sworn enemies, the leaders who beat the shit out of each other all day in public, but the minute those doors closed for the state dinner, the daggers went away and it was one big happy family. I saw former Republican Sen. Bill Frist weaving through the tables, and he came over to Ted Kennedy and start massaging his shoulders and laughing like they were the oldest buddies in the world. Everybody was crossing the aisles and chuckling, and I said, 'Oh, I get it! It really is just a game.'"

So what's wrong with any of that?

Just because the daggers are not out, doesn't mean they aren't there. But also, just because they have knife fights in public, doesn't mean they hate each other.

They have to put up acts. That's politics. They need to pretend they like each other if they don't, for the sake of getting things done. Attract bees with honey and all that. And they need to pretend they don't like each other if they do, because the base expects them to hate each other. How could you not hate someone who hates America?!?!

The only time politics wouldn't work that way is if we didn't have politics. slashdot.org

Hannah Montana Tickets

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On CNN, in a story about Hannah Montana tickets, where ticket brokers bought most of them and are reselling them for hundreds and thousands of dollars, an angry mom says, "it is taking advantage of me and my children."

Why? How? You don't have to buy them, and it's not like anyone had an obligation to put on this concert or make tickets available to you for it at all, let alone at a certain price. If you don't like it, don't but the tickets ... so how are you being taken advantage of?

She went on, "and it's not teaching my kids a good lesson: that you can get what you want if you pay the right price." How is that not a good lesson? Generally speaking, it's true. I think it's a great lesson, about supply and demand of course, but also about priorities and comparative values. Teach your kids, well, we could take a vacation to Europe for two weeks, or buy a huge TV, or get a loaded iMac and iPod, or buy you an all new wardrobe ... or go to this concert.

If you really hate what these ticket brokers did, then organize a boycott of the concert. If no one buys the tickets, the people you are most angry at -- the brokers -- will lose a lot of money. Disney will too, because even though they sold tickets, they will lose a lot in potential merchandise sales, and so on.

This whole thing is a fantastic lesson for kids, if you understand what's really going on and how the world actually works. slashdot.org

Judges and Science

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Me in late 2005, on a then-recent court ruling about intelligent design:

Whether something is science has not one thing to do with the law, and is the purview only of philosophers and scientists, not lawyers and judges. Frankly, this part of the ruling alone should cause scientists and educators who oppose ID to fear, not rejoice.

I elaborated on this fear in the comments:

... this judge just said he has the power to say that no public school may teach any particular subject in science class if he determines, based on whatever he decides to feel at the time, with no legal guidelines, that it is not science. If he decides that quantum theory is not falsifiable, and thus not science, he can forbid teachers from teaching it. This is the power you are saying the judge should have.

In other discussions, I used global warming as an example of something a judge could ban the teaching of, under these same guidelines. Then comes the recent news of the court in Britain that attacked Gore's movie. Granted, it's not the same legal system. But I think my point that those applauding the court deciding science should not have been so happy is borne out by quotes like this from the DailyKos, at the same time:

... the advocates for Intelligent Design Creationism in the Dover case lost their bid to have IDC included in that school's curricula today--and by lost their bid, I mean to say they were utterly eviscerated. ... "The judge ruled unequivocally that ID is a religious idea dressed up in scientific sounding language ..."

And then, DailyKos on Friday about a judge criticizing Al Gore's movie:

The list follows.  I don't believe a judge has the cred to make these judgements [sic] ...

But they did two years ago? Or was that just OK because you agreed with it?

As much as I think scientists are idiots like the rest of us, that doesn't mean I think the courts should be deciding science. And not because judges are also idiots -- they are, of course -- but because science is not a matter of law, and courts have no -- or, should have no -- jurisdiction, except in the very limited sense of forbidding that which by explicit law is forbidden.

So if there's a law that says "incorrect science cannot be taught," which would be a stupid law, since courts and government officials suck at determining such things, then yeah, the court could make such a determination. Otherwise, it cannot, and should not.

This is not about the particular issues and people. Courts should be, as much as possible, blind to such things (hence the famous statue of a woman with a blindfold). This is about the inadequacy of a court to decide on science, and how many people on both sides are picking and choosing their position on that matter based on their preferred outcome. slashdot.org

Scientists Are Idiots

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From NewsHour last night: "Well, the scientific community has had a consensus that human beings were likely affecting the climate for about 10 years, but it's taken a while to convince the general public."

What? When something is "likely," according to "consensus," and you have trouble convincing the public?

Gee. Why do you think that might be? Maybe because people are not easily convinced of things that scientists are not convinced by, either?

Why should anyone be convinced, easily or otherwise, when the facts (as told to us by the IPCC) tell us that we don't know? Why should a scientist even be convinced, when it's the job of a scientist to be skeptical?

Which is, of course, why Gore has helped change the debate: he lied. He pretended the "debate is over." He removed the lack of certainty. He tells us that significant manmade global climate change is fact, rather than what the IPCC tells us, which is that it is merely likely.

It's a clear pattern: if you can't convince people based on the facts, you lie.

That's really why Gore got the Nobel, because he was instrumental in convincing people of something that the science doesn't show, that significant manmade global climate change is fact. He got the Nobel for lying to people. slashdot.org

Al Gore Won the Nobel Peace Prize

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Ahem. Allow me to elaborate.

Whatever you think of the science of climate change, the fact is that this is the first time the Nobel Peace Prize to someone for doing something the effect of which on peace is purely hypothetical.

I would laugh even if this was about climate change. His movie was scaremongering propaganda. But even if it was entirely accurate and fair, it would still have nothing rational to do with "peace." We don't even have a very good idea of the overall effects climate change will have on the physical world, let alone any economic or political effects it may have. slashdot.org

Philosophy of Liberty

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http://www.philosophyofliberty.blogspot.com/ is a neat little movie that discusses liberty.

Feel free to ignore the music. slashdot.org
As quoted on CNN, Barack Obama said, "I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

Over a year ago I did an Ask Pudge episode where I said that many liberals want to "immanentize the eschaton," or create heaven here on earth. Some people chose to lambast me for making that accurate claim.

Not that I needed more examples, but Obama is a good one to add to the mix.

Also not needing more examples of, but adding this to the list of: reasons to vote against Obama. slashdot.org
I started a debate on the proper Christian role for government in charity over at David Kuo's web site. (Click "See All Comments" to see the whole discussion.)

I've talked about this subject in this space before. It's an important discussion because it is a major disconnect and disagreement that many Christians have, and as Christians are having this internal discussion about Christianity and partisan politics, I think we need to go deeper and explore, from a Christian perspective, the fundamental purposes of government.

For example, several of the other people in the discussion to this point have stated matter-of-factly that this is government's job, that there is some government obligation.

While there is obviously a vital role for government in caring for people ...

There is?

And if government reflects any of the values of society, shouldn't charity be one? Perhaps even the predominant one?

Why should government reflect society's values?

Social costs always exist within a society. These social costs can be addressed in numerous ways and through numerous agencies, but they will always arise. If a social cost is being adequately addressed outside of government there may be no requirement for government to take on a role ...

This implicitly states that if the social cost is not being "adequately addressed," then there is a need for government to step in. Why?

Anyway, so I think this is a good, interesting, and important discussion. slashdot.org
The Seattle P-I printed a guest column by writer Dean Paton, who claims that Watada should be able to claim in his court martial that the Iraq War is illegal.

Other geniuses like Sean Penn say the same thing.

But in order for a court martial to allow this defense, it would have to be able to rule that the defense is valid. And if a court martial rules the defense is valid -- that the war is illegal -- that would constitute the military overruling the civilian government, which has determined that the war is legal.

This sort of thing has another name: "military coup."

It's normally the sort of things liberals do not want ... or so I thought. slashdot.org

A (Traumatic) Sphincter Says What?

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In an emergency, timing is critical, but there are no national standards for trauma care. Can anything be done about it?

-- NBC Nightly News promo

Why would we want or need a national standard for such things? Are we incapable of having our own perfectly good local standards? If we are, then by what logic would we think national standards would be any better?

OK, fine, some places don't have good enough care. Why is the solution national standards, instead of local citizens saying "let's fix this ourselves?"

As Fred Thompson said recently:

Before anything else, folks in Washington ought to be asking first and foremost, "Should government be doing this? And if so, then at what level of government?"
In one of the stupidest court rulings in history, a federal judge upheld the ban of an instrumental version of Ave Maria from a public school ceremony because it was deemed religious.

Yes, that is just nonsense. Most of our music today is derived from or influenced by religious music. Which got me thinking ... Pachelbel's Canon is not a religious tune as best I can tell, but he did write a lot of religious music, and we could perhaps perform a service to society if we banned all music based on it! slashdot.org
I know, I've brought this up before, but here we go again. Congress is trying to pass a law that would make crimes based on sexual orientation "hate crimes" under federal statutes.

Dan Savage, syndicated sex columnist, was on Colbert tonight. He said:

The pro-hate-crimes-legislation argument is about pluralism, really, and about how our democracy functions, because when someone targets a person because of their faith, or their sexual orientation, or their race, it's really an attack not just against that person as an individual, but an attempt to terrorize the entire group, to make all African Americans feel insecure, to make all gays and lesbians feel at risk ...

In order to show a crime, you must show two things: first, that the criminal act happened, and second, that there was intent to commit that act. Hate crime laws bypass the need to show that the crime of "terrorizing the entire group" actually happened, or that the accused intended to commit that crime. It takes "hate" as both evidence of crime, and intent.

This is a clear violation of the constitutional right of due process, as stated in the Fifth Amendment.

My argument here is not against adding sexual orientation to hate crime laws, but against hate crime laws themselves. I do have a problem with adding sexual orientation in particular to hate crime laws: even though I disagree with having special protected classes, I believe that if we're going to have such classes, there should be very widespread, long-standing, and institutionalized discrimination against that class that continues to have significant negative effects for that class of people. And I don't think sexual orientation fits that.

Regardless, I am talking here not about that, but about hate crimes themselves. They are unconstitutional, because they pretend that there is evidence of a crime and intent to commit that crime without actually supplying that evidence. slashdot.org

Blacks and Republicans

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This entire discussion about the top GOP candidates for President opting out of the Tavis Smiley debate is being framed from the irrational perspective that by not going to this debate you are disregarding, disrespecting, or otherwise ignoring black voters.

Since when does one particular debate represent all black voters?

And it is even less rational in this particular case, because few blacks vote in the Republican primaries, and those that do don't need a "black debate" to get their information. The ever-unsensible Tavis Smiley demonstrated his disconnect with reality thusly:

... the question for me, Pat is, what do voters of color who happen to be Republican do until the general [election]? They're supposed to be ignored all the way through this? There are black and brown Republicans.

Um ... they do the same thing everyone else does: they watch the many debates, read the web sites, watch the news. Why do they need the candidates to show up to this particular debate? It's so illogical to me I don't even understand what point he is trying to make, other than "hey look at me, I have righteous anger!"

I know lots of black and brown Republicans and independents. Not a single one of them, as best I can tell, have ever said "if only this or that candidate showed up to a forum specifically for black or brown people, then maybe I could get the information I need about that candidate."

And one more point: why does anyone take Huckabee or Brownback seriously when they say they are "embarrassed" that the other candidates didn't show up? Does anyone actually believe they believe that? They were almost surely happy about it, because it gave them more TV time, and a free opening to take a pot shot.

The real reason they didn't show up to this debate was the same reason they didn't show up to the Values Voters Debate: showing up won't help them, and not showing up won't hurt them. It's that simple. 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."

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from October 2007.

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