Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Thursday, September 18, 2003

It’s a good thing he’s a lefty!

Otherwise a statement like this would cost Ted Rall his job:
It's unfortunate that drivers must worry that their SUVs are being targeted by insulting stickers and Molotov cocktails, but one thing's for sure: It couldn't be happening to a more deserving group of people."

Yep, if you own an SUV, you deserve to have it firebombed, and you are a selfish, dangerous monster, and responsible for most of the things wrong with the world. For more details on the actions Rall speaks of so approvingly, read the LA Times piece.

Let's examine Rall's piece a little closer, and see what other idiocy spews forth.

Ecoterrorism expert Bron Taylor of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, says that ELF believes "that ecosystems have an inherent worth that cannot be judged in relation to human needs, that human actions are bringing the earth toward mass extinctions, and that political action is insufficient to bring about the wholesale changes needed."

Taken at face value, most Americans agree with the "elves."

Really? Most Americans favor the use of ecoterrorism to promote a marginal agenda? I'd love to see a source on that. Rall references an LAT survey (without a link), but the bits he pulls out only backs up the importance people put on the environment, not support for ELF's terrorism. And it is terrorism, not vandalism. As Rall himself says:

The idea is to make SUVs as unfashionable, and as scary to own, as fur became after the PETA-inspired spray-paint attacks of the '80s.

The goal is to scare you away from pursuing an action that Elf, and by his approval, Rall, disapproves of. Sounds like terrorism to me.

The United States produces more greenhouse gases, both per capita and overall, than any other nation, making it largely responsible for climate change.

As I've pointed out before, the facts do not support his conclusion. Yes, we emit more so-called greenhouse gasses than anybody else, but, because of our vast expanses of green spaces, we absorb more than we emit. In fact, the US is a net absorber of greenhouse gasses. Europe, on the other hand, is the worst of the net emitters, as they have virtually no green spaces left, and are highly industrialized.

The environmental crisis is, hands down, the most important matter facing humanity today. Who cares about peace in the Middle East if the region is under water, stricken by famine or choked by dust storms

Let's rephrase the question: Who will care about global mean temperature 150 years from now if the world blows up in 4 years in a thermonuclear exchange triggered by a complete breakdown in the Middle East? Histrionics are rarely a good substitute for reasoned analysis, but it makes for good sloganeering for weak minds.

They're (SUV's) the sole reason we dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol (news - web sites) to reduce greenhouse gases. SUVs have got to go.

Really? And you have quotes to back that up? And here I thought it was about the tremendous drain Kyoto would have placed on the US economy, the fact that Kyoto would not actually reduce global greenhouse emissions, and that some of the worst emitters, ie developing nations, would be exempted from compliance, that doomed the treaty. I guess that's what I get for actually reading the damned thing.

Finally, there's this:
In an ideal world, American consumers could be convinced to do the right thing through an appeal to logic with public service messages like the "What Would Jesus Drive?" TV campaign, but the kind of people who would buy a car that increases the risk to other motorists in an accident can't be reasoned with. They're selfish and stupid.

You can hear the sneer in his voice, dripping with condescension. If we don't know what's best for us, thenn by god, he and his allies will make sure we learn it.

What an ass.

I drive an SUV, and I enjoy the hell out of it. I do go off road from time to time, and have the dents and scratches to prove it. It's kept me on the road in snow and ice, hauled furniture and groceries, not to mention several kids, has 186,000 miles without any major repiars, and has in general been a great vehicle. It's primary use, however, is as a commuter vehicle, which I guess makes me selfish and stupid. Of course, my SUV gets 30 mpg, so maybe I'm not so stupid after all. But I am selfish. I worked for it, I paid for it, and I'll drive it. And if I decide to trade it in on an H2 (like I'm going to blow a year's pay on a car) then by god, I'll drive it as well.

(Hat tip to Right Wing News)

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Truth in Advertising

How's this for confusing?

Lobbyist and political consultant James Carville is in a TV show on HBO, playing a lobbyist/political consultant named James Carville, who advises presidential candidates for the primaries. In the show, his partner in the consulting firm is his wife, played by Mary Matelin, his wife and consulting partner in real life.

These Hollywood types are so creative, aren't they?

In the pilot episode, Carville, the character, is advising a presidential candidate named Howard Dean, played by presidential candidate Howard Dean, in how to answer questions during a primary debate. Carville suggest the line "If the percentage of black folks in your state was determinative of your record on civil rights, Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King." Later in the episode, footage is aired of Dean, the character, using the line to general applause and laughter. Here's where it gets tricky. The footage came from the actual debate in which Dean, the candidate, participated with the other 8 democratic contenders.

So we have a fictitious line, generated by a fictitous consultant said by a fictitous candidate in a real debate. Or is it a real line offered by a real candidate in a fictitous debate?

Where's Michael Moore when you need him?

Jokes aside, this is simply "The War Room" meets "The West Wing." I guess they figure they can script real life, avoiding those inconvenient concepts of "truth" and "reality."

Posted by Rich
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Clark Rides to the Rescue!

The Democratic Party is saved. No longer will they have to fear being ravaged by the Dean extremists, as General Wesley Clark USA, Ret. has joined the race for the Democratic nomination for President.

In a move echoing the Shwarzenegger campaign, Clark has been fairly quiet about what he actually stands for. We know he was against invading Iraq, although we don't know what he thinnks we should do now. We know he doesn't like a bad economy (Sharp guy, that General!), but we don't know what he would do about it, or what he would do differently from the other candidates.

We do know that Michael Moore supports his candidacy, which tells me all I really need to know about the General. But, in the interest of fairness, I decided to dig a little deeper. What does Clark stand for? What is his vision for America?
Clark on taxation:
The tax cuts weren’t fair… the people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. In other words, it’s not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don’t have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life. When you have more money, you have room for the luxuries and you should—one of the luxuries and one of the privileges we enjoy is living in this great country.

I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation.

I think the first requirement for a presidential candidate is a firm grasp of American ideals. Last time I checked, America was not founded on the principle of progressive taxation. In fact, the idea of a direct tax (income tax) was anathema to the Founding Fathers, and specifically prohibited by the Constitution. Taxes on trade ie, tariffs and sales taxes, were supposed to fund the government. This was specifically intended to limit the size and growth of the federal government.

Clark believes a progressive income tax was a founding principle of this country.

The tax cuts weren’t fair… the people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more.

Socialism at it's finest! "To each according to his needs..."

Clark believes that because they need the money, the gov't should design its tax policy to make sure they get the money, even if they don't pay taxes!

Clark on the Environment
Human beings do affect the environment and all you have to do is fly along the Andes and look at the disappearing glaciers down there and you recognize that there is something called global warming and it's just getting started as China and India modernize.

OK, add scientific illiteracy and logical fallacies to Clark's list of qualifications. The glaciers disappearance does indicate that the earth is warming. It does not indicate that human activity has anything to do with it. Additionally, glaciers are nowhere near their minimums of the Middle Ages, at which time Greenland actually lived up to its name.

Clark believes human activities are the primary cause of global warming.

Clark on Iraq
"Everything I said about Iraq has turned out to be correct," the retired Army general averred in a telephone interview several days ago. He rattled off the concerns he voiced before the invasion: Iraq didn't pose an imminent threat to the United States; it wasn't directly linked to the war on terrorism; an invasion might make the terrorism problem worse; there wasn't an international coalition supporting the war; America had other ways to contain Saddam Hussein.

Each of those concerns has been demonstrably proven to be false. Iraq has been definitively linked to terrorism, particularly the first attack on the WTC
We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the ’90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW and CW, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved. The Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the al-Qaeda organization.
We know, for example, in connection with the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq after the attack of ’93. And we’ve learned subsequent to that, since we went into Baghdad and got into the intelligence files, that this individual probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven.

As for the risk of terrorism increasing since the war, I simply point out that no US targets have been hit, in marked contrast to the years leading up to 9/11. An undeniable escalation of terrorist activity on US soil and against US targets has been halted in its tracks.

But Clark believes we're at a higher risk.

Enough already!

The only reason Clark is in the race is that some dems have finally realized that it isn't the economy this time, its the security of the US that's at stake, and that the voters fully appreciate that fact. They're hoping that Clark can sway the moderates by running as a strong national security candidate, and appease rabid fringe of the party with his Socialist ideology.

And they may be right. Given that he'll have the Clinton machine backing him, he stands an excellent chance of winning the nomination. But will that give him the Presidency? Probably not. By and large, people are happy with the job Bush is doing, and, barring some disastrous turn in the Middle East, will favor staying with the incumbent. But at least the dems will have salvaged their parties relevancy by avoiding a Dean campaign which would virtually annihilate the dems as a political force for a generation.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, September 15, 2003

No surprises here…

The 9th has decided to intervene in California's recall, and overrule the State Constitution. Not a really big surprise since the 9th has issued some of the most boneheaded opinions in history, but will the SCOTUS overrule?

I doubt it very much.

Looking at it from a political standpoint, since it is clear that the law no longer counts, there's no upside for the SCOTUS to get involved, and a major downside.

Why don't I think the law counts? Because this decision by the Ninth is simply a continuation of the liberal courts ignoring the law in favor of their ideology. As an example, remember the Nevada State Supreme Court ruling that when the people of Nevada voted to require a 2/3 majority to approve a tax increase, they didn't really mean it. The court went on to enable a liberal governor to force a monumental tax increase down the throats of the people of his state.

So much for government by the people. Now it's government of the people, by the courts, for the liberals.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, September 12, 2003

Fresh Meat for the Democratic Grinder

It looks like Gen. Wesley Clark is going to run for President.
He's told friends he's leaning strongly toward entering the contest, he's contacted potential campaign advisers, and he's asked for political advice from many party veterans. The 58-year-old former NATO (search) commander could shake up the crowded field.

Supporters say they've gotten pledges for more than $1 million if Clark enters. With just four months before the first votes are cast, though, Clark would be far behind some of the other candidates in organizing his campaign, raising money and building support in the early states. His earliest allies would be from former President Clinton's Arkansas-based political network.

With the Clinton era dream team behind him, lack of money would be no problem; the Chinese are always ready to lend a helping hand to their friends.

Clark has the opportunity to blow the field away. The primary season is 4 months away, and as I noted earlier, most dems don't even know who is running. The injection of Clark into the mix gives dems a chance to wake up the base and get them involved. If Clark can position himself as to the right of Dean (not too hard; Stalin was to the right of Dean), anti war but pro American (a little tougher, but he may be able to pull it off with his resume), and can articulate a sound National Defense policy (tough, since the energized dem base reject the need for one) he just may steal the nomination, and give Bush a very tough race.

Of course, these are some very big "ifs." It's easy to look good before you run; its looking good while you're running that's tough.

One thing's for certain; the primary just got a lot more interesting.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Democrats Debate…sort of.

So the Democratic candidates for President got together for a debate last night. Funny that some ardent liberals didn't even know about it. Must be a blind spot getting in the way.

While there were some funny soundbites during the debate, it was most notable for two things. First, nobody said anything of substance. On second thought, I guess when you're talking about politicians, that isn't very notable at all. The second was how few people know or even care about who is running for the Democratic nomination.

From a poll conducted a couple of weeks ago, 67% of likely Democrat voters couldn't name a single candidate. (Scroll down to CBS News poll dated Aug 26-28. And 4% of those who could name a candidate named one who isn't.

A candidate, I mean.

Howard Dean may be happy, since he has the highest name recognition, at 12% among Democrats, but don't get your hopes up Howie, the most recent Zogby poll (top of the same page) and Times/CNN poll (next one down) shows that despite your meteoric rise, you're still in a statistical dead heat with Kerry and Lieberman.

And just think, he hasn't even faced any tough questions yet, other than, "What's you favorite song?"

Now that's information vital to know when selecting your Presidential candidate! Actually, it does point out the utter banality of the Democratic slate of candidates. As Nick Gillespie points out, not one of the candidates has anything fresh or compelling to say. Howard Dean was against the war, but supports finishing the job. OK laughing boy, tell us what you would do differently if we put you in charge. If you're going to do the same thing, why the hell should we change drivers mid-stream? Until a liberal comes up with an actual, you know, idea, you can expect the "ho-hum" attitude to continue.

Posted by Rich
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Enough is Enough!

I've tried to refrain from political commentary over the past few weeks, since it rarely accomplishes anything other than irritating those who disagree with me. I don't think I've changed a single mind yet. However that restraint has done little or nothing to mend any fences, and I no longer have the patience to sit and suffer fools in silence. So, whether or not I change any minds, or convince any fence sitters, by God, I'll know that at the very least, I've injected a few facts back into a debate which increasingly lacks them!

We'll start with an easy target, Mr. Paul Krugman, who was featured on Fresh Air today. Mr. Krugman continually took President Bush's administration to task for using bad math to back up their budget. In one part, he states that his first awareness of the inconsistency of the Bush Plan was during the campaign, when Bush proposed privitizing a portion of the Social Security program. According to Mr. Jrugman, Bush proposed allowing workers to put about 1/6 of their Social Security contribution into a private account, rather than in the general fund. The problem with that, according to him, is that current revenues are used to pay current recipients, and by taking out 1/6th of the total contributions, there wouldn't be enough money left to pay the current recipients. He also claimed that Bush never answered questions about how the government planned to make up the difference.

Oddly enough, he had answered his own question about 30 seconds before, when he announced that the Social Security collections were running about 25% over disbursements. In other words, allowing people to keep control of 1/6th of their contribution would have reduced revenue for the general fund by 16.7%, meaning that collections would still exceed disbursement by 8.3%

For a guy who complains about Bush's math abilities, he seems to have some glaring weaknesses himself. Must be that liberal blind spot. Interestingly enough, during the campaign, Bush did say, on more than one occasion, that the privatization funds would come out of the surplus collections. I guess Mr. Krugman played hooky that day.

Next we have our old friend Mr. Robert Reich, who's current shtick is crying about farm subsidies, as a commentator on Marketplace.(audio link)

Reich believes we need to end farm subsidies and allow developing nations to sell us our food at a substantially cheaper price. This, he says, is good for everyone. They get money into their economy; we get cheaper food. There are only a few farmers here anyway, he says.

OK, isn't this the same character who claims that the service sector will be America's key industry in the future? I seem to recall him using that logic to justify NAFTA, even when it was costing jobs:
Small high-tech firms, business services and personal services, such as hospitals, hotels and retail services, inevitably will provide the backbone of most local economies in the future

In other words, now that he has exported manufacturing jobs through NAFTA, he's willing to export our farming industry as well. For those of you at home keeping score, we would be dependent on other nations for energy, food, and manufactured goods. It seems his dream is to make America dependent on the rest of the world for virtually every necessity of life.

Does this sound like a good idea to anyone out there?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, August 11, 2003

More hypocrisy on the left.

I know, no big surprise. But this is a particularly nasty case.

Bubba has a new laundry list of complaints about the Bush administration up at his place. Since I dealt with most of these at length before, I'm not going to put y'all to sleep again. My answering post is here if you want to go have a look.

But what set me off was a comment by gttim on this post which reads:
My wife is probably the only first lady that ever killed anybody.

My response was, "That's a new low."

Tim couldn't seem to grasp why I felt that it was a low blow, so I wrote the following comment, reposted here for your entertainment.

I meant 'new low' for this website. Extreme lefties have been all over Laura Bush for that incident since the campaign; I just never expected to see that kind of trash here.

You're smearing the President for something that happened to his wife 15 years before she was even his girlfriend.

Like I said, a new low.

Here's the relevant piece from the AP:
Laura Bush

and the relevant quote:

"An abbreviated version of the report concluded neither Douglas or Bush could be blamed for the accident, the Post reported."

Now left wing loons use the tragedy to score points off the President.

Here's VeryProudDem:
"This is what the Bush family is all about...get away with murder all the time.
Laura, the stepford wife, gets away with murder."

Of course, Laura wasn't even dating Bush at the time, but we'll neglect that little fact to smear Bush.

Here's cyr330:

"murderous wench
I'm sure she did it on purpose; she murdered him, because he had broken things off with her."

cyr, who has never even met Laura Bush, knows her well enough to attribute motivations to an accident which happened 40 years ago! She'd make an excellent fortune teller!

And SoCalDem:
"It was her ex boyfriend and it was in daylight.. What are the odds of that being a accident?"

Yep, everybody knows that accidents only happen at night. To make things even worse for SoCalDem, he gets the "daylight" bit wrong as well. According to the police report, quoted here, the accident occurred after 8 PM on Nov 6. Now that might be considered daylight somewhere near Antarctica, but not anywhere in Texas.

What truly amazes me is the hypocrisy here. Libs howled over Limbaugh saying Chelsea was ugly, but feel perfectly comfortable calling Laura Bush a murderer for an accident which happened 40 years ago, and using that charge to smear the President, who wouldn't even meet her for 15 years.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A Dark Day for Democrats

Bill Clinton has sold them out.

Clinton appeared on Larry King Live last night and had this to say about Iraq, WMD, and the SOTU speech:
First of all, the White House said -- Mr. Fleischer said -- that on balance they probably shouldn't have put that comment in the speech. What happened, often happens. There was a disagreement between British intelligence and American intelligence. The president said it was British intelligence that said it. And then they said, well, maybe they shouldn't have put it in.

Let me tell you what I know. When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.

He goes on to say:
We should be pulling for the people of Iraq. We can have honest disagreements about where we go from here, and we have space now to discuss that in what I hope will be a nonpartisan and open way. But this State of the Union deal they decided to use the British intelligence. The president said it was British intelligence. Then they said on balance they shouldn't have done it. You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president. I mean, you can't make as many calls as you have to make without messing up once in awhile.

There you have it from the big dog himself. The "16 words" were based on British intelligence, which the Brits still stand by.

Bush didn't lie. Clinton left open the question of whether it was poor judgment to use the intel, but that is a valid point of contention.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

One last time, for old times sake.

SKBubba, a man I know and respect, has catalogued what he sarcastically calls a list of Bush accomplishments. It is quite a recitation of machiavellian manipulation combined with boneheaded incompetence designed to make a liberal's toes crack with outrage.

There's only one slight problem.

Much of it is wrong, some of it is out right deceptive, and whatever kernals of truth the list contains are drowned out by the blast of bias and venom.

There are legitimate issues for the libs to oppose Bush; I even share some of them. But when they are enveloped in spurious attacks characterized by distortion and misinformation, their legitimacy is lost in the noise.

Let's take a look at the list, item by item, and see if we can find those kernals of truth. Hang on; it could be a bumpy ride.

The Bush Administration Record of Accomplishment (so far):

  • Engineered a coup in conspiracy with brother Jeb in Florida to take office
    Unfounded. This issue has been discussed exhaustively over and over again. There simply isn't the evidence to prove a conmspiracy which would have to stretch over several years, be able to pinpoint the key state in an election 2 years away, and put the mechanisms in place to effectively steal that state. The ballot recounts showed Bush won. The overvotes were not counted in accordance with the law of the state of Florida, it being impossible to determine voter intent when two valid votes exist. The purging of the voter rolls is a questionable area, but considering that more connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida have been documented than between Republicans and ChoicePoint, and we know how credible liberals find that connection.

  • Administration made up of former executives involved in illegal arms sales, trading with the enemy in violation of U.S. law, and corporate financial scandals, and their companies are now profiting from war
    Distortion of the facts, if not an outright lie. Halliburton was convicted of selling arms to Iran, however, Dick Cheney was not a part of the company when the ofense occurred. For an exhaustive discussion of Halliburton past and present, go here, and follow the included links.

  • Stonewalled Federal judge requesting files in relation to White House official's involvement in corporate finance scandal
    Bush acted in accordance with advice from the White House Counsel, advice which mirrored that produced by the Clinton White House when similar demands were made. Protecting Executive privilege is a legitimate function of the President. If you believe that power is being abused, you'll have to come up with evidence.

  • Representing party of smaller government and less Federal spending, creates largest bureaucracy in U.S. history and supports largest entitlement spending program in U.S. history
    True, but incomplete. Much of the expansion in social spending comes from compromise with the liberals in Congress, in order to pass a budget. Is it a wise tactical move to criticize a president for advancing your agenda? As for the largest bureaucracy, 9-11 has something to do with that, although the effectiveness of that bureaucracy is questionable, and a legitimate campaign issue.

  • 26% loss in Dow Jones Industrial Average, 48% loss in NASDAQ, 33% loss in S&P 500, trillions in wealth wiped out.
    For these numbers to be meaningful, you'd have to show causation, identifying specific actions of the President which caused the loss in market value. This will prove difficult, since the market peaked prior to the election, and most analysts attribute the drop to the collapse in tech stocks after the dot com bubble burst. Add the effects of 9-11 to that downward pressure, and there's not much blame left to attribute to Bush. Add to that the fact that the market has bottomed and is rebounding and the market becomes a very weak issue.

  • 9% increase in consumer debt to all time high of $1.74 trillion
    Misleading and meaningless. Obviously, with rare exceptions, consumer debt as an absolute number will increase over time, as the number of consumers increases over time. However, let's take a closer look at the numbers and see how Dubya rates among recent presidents. During Dubya's first two years, consumer debt rose 10.4%. By contrast, during Bill Clinton's first two years, consumer debt rose a whopping 22.8%, and 21.6% during his second two years. He fell off his stride during the first half of his second term; consumer debt rose a modest 11.1%. He closed strong, though, finishing up with a 17.6% gain. Going back to Bush the Elder, I found that he had an increase of 6.9% during his first two years, and a decrease of 0.2% to finish up. By these numbers, it looks like Dubya has cut the rate of growth of consumer debt by nearly 50%. You can run against that if you'd like, but it might be difficult.

  • 25% increase in overall bankruptcy filings, 8% increase in business filings, 26% increase in personal bankruptcy filings
    This chart shows that the bankruptcy rate has been increasing at a steady pace since 1984, allowing for the effects of economic downturns. This table gives the numbers behind the chart, and shows that the bulk of the increase (19%) occurred during the first year of his term, when reverberations from the dot bomb, Enron, and Worldcom were still ravaging the economy. It is notable that bankruptcies were up only 5% during the last full year. The question becomes this: What effect does the President have on the filing of personal bankruptcies?

  • Two and a half million jobs lost and counting

  • Unemployment claims at eight year high, nearly nine million people out of work
    Looking at the statistics from the Bureau of labor, we see that again, the majority of job losses came during the peak of the recession during Bush's first year. The rate of job loss has dropped to nearly zero, and most economists are predicting a strong second half. 16% of corporate CEO's are expecting to hire new workers during the next 6 months, up from 9% last month. Should the recovery continue and grow stronger, it will be very difficult for dems to run on. But you're welcome to try.

  • Record budget deficits, $450 billion and growing
    Record by number, but not as a percentage of GDP, which is a more informative number. However, given the events of the last two years, running a deficit is not altogether unexpected. In fact, back when Newt was running his Contract with America, of which one of the primary planks was running a balanced budget, dems were livid, claiming they needed the ability to run a deficit in times of economic downturns or war.

  • Proposed tax cut could pay for hiring all nine million people out of work and pay them $80K per year instead of benefiting wealthy
    Gross factual error. This canard has been demolished before, but for those weak in basic math:
    9,000,000(unemployed)X80,000(salary)X10(years for the tax cut to produce savings of 350 billion)= 7,200,000,000,000

    or 7.2 trillion dollars. Even using the dem's assumption that the tax cut will save 850 billion over the next ten years, it is clear that the statement above is flat out wrong.
    But it goes further than that. Notwithstanding the math error, the characterization that this tax cut benefits primarily the wealthy is also wrong, as discussed here. I'm getting a 50% tax cut, and I'm not wealthy by a long stretch.

  • Gutted clean air regulations, allowing utilities and factories to continue polluting the atmosphere

  • Rolled back wilderness protections, opening up wilderness areas to logging, mining, other development

  • Rolled back wetlands protection, reducing or eliminating regulations prohibiting pollution of wetlands
    Bush is not as strong on the environment as some would like. The accusations here are valid, but are they important? Most surveys rate the environment well down the list of priorities when it comes to picking a President.

  • Proposed school vouchers to take taxpayer money away from public education and give it to wealthy families to send their kids to private schools
    More distortion. The vouchers are not earmarked for the rich, but to allow families to pull their kids out of underperforming schools. Wealthy families already send their kids to private schools. Saying that vouchers are a sop to the rich is simply invoking class warfare in a area where it doesn't belong. As for vouchers, I have my doubts about whether they will work, since I don't believe the failure of our educational system is due to a lack of money, but it least it provides alternatives where there were none.

  • Worst terrorist attack in history, worst attack on U.S. soil occurred on current administration's watch, mounting evidence of numerous warnings that could have prevented it

  • Administration stonewalling investigators and attempting to suppress report of intelligence and law enforcement failures leading up to worst terrorist attack in history
    The evidence is clear with advantqage of hindsight. I'm still waiting for anyone to show that there was evidence that would create a reasonable suspicion of 9-11, and detail reasonable measures that would have prevented it. Given the difficulties Israel has had supressing terrorism, even with their restriction on civli liberties, I'm skeptical that such reasonable measures exist. As for the so-called stonewalling, I've seen nothing different from any other administration protecting itself from a partisan witch hunt.

  • Made speeches promising more funding for shipping container inspections at U.S. ports to look for nukes and other WMD, then eliminated funding from budget
    Valid point

  • Passed sweeping laws violating individual civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution
    Actually, Congress passed the laws. If the laws do violate civil rights, a point which is a legitimate concern, I expect to see several SCOTUS challenges in the near future.

  • Holding hundreds or thousands of prisoners without probable cause, charges, or access to legal counsel
    Valid point. Whiule I understand the motive, and the concerns, I cannot support holding people, particularly American citizens or legal immigrants indefinately, and without counsel.

  • Allowed North Korean sale of Scud missiles to Yemen
    So? The sale was legal. What pretext did we have to stop it?

  • Conducted illegal preemptive unprovoked military invasion of sovereign state resulting in hundreds of military casualties and thousands of civilian deaths, deceived Congress and UN Security Council to justify
    Malicious distortion of the facts bordering on lies. Military action was authorized by the US Congress, and by the UN. Additionally, extensive violations of the terms of the cease fire from the Gulf War provided all the provocation required for resumption of hostilities. As for deception of Congress and the UN, Colin Powell's presentation to the UN provided confirmation of info provided by UNMOVIC and Hans Blix. If evidence exists of Bush deceiving Congress, it has yet to be found. We've heard claims and counter claims, but no proof either way. Once again, if you make claims of malfeasance, the burden of proof is on you.

  • Proposes sweeping cuts in veteran's benefits, instructs Veteran's Administration to deceive veterans with regard to benefits available

  • Pissed off the Dixie Chicks

  • Made deal with Iranian terrorist organization
    Problematic, but pragmatic.

  • Dressed in fighter pilot costume and flew military jet to aircraft carrier for stunt landing and political fundraising/campaign event despite having ticket pulled and being grounded for failing to take required physical and drug test and being AWOL from post during Vietnam conflict
    More distortion of fact. This charge too has been dealt with extensively here, and here. He was not AWOL as his home command knew where he was, and he wasn' grounded for missing his physical; he didn't take his physical because he was serving in a non flight status at the time.

  • Declares victory, yet soldiers die in Iraq every day, half the country has no electricity or water, attempts to install democracy failing miserably, Saddam and his alleged WMD cannot be found, neither can Osama
    More distortion, accompanied by an egregious mistake or an outright lie. President Bush has never declared victory in Iraq. He has declared an end to major combat, which is accurate. He has also said that Iraq remains a dangerous place, which is also accurate. Attempts to bring democracy to the Iraqi people are proceeding as a steady pace, in spite of continued opposition from Saddam loyalists. BAghdad and other cities have Iraqi city councils, and the nation as a whole has a newly constituted governing council. Considering that the US rebuilding of Japan took 7 years, I'm not ready to declare failure in 7 weeks.

  • Unable to get assistance from France, Germany, or India to provide troops for additional security and peacekeeping in Iraq
    No surprise here. france and Germany have no intention of helping the US, as their primary focus is becoming the center of an anti US cabal. They want to counter US power. With that aim, the best diplomat in the world wouldn't get help from them. Yes, Chirac said he'd be willing to send French companies in to help with reconstruction, with the price that the new Iraqi gov't would honor french oil contracts made with the Hussein regime. I don;t think the US would endear themselves with the Iraqis by allowing accomplices of the Hussein regime to continue raping them.

  • Proposes development of tactical nuclear weapons in violation of 1992 Senate ban
    Proposing is not a violation of the ban. I disagree with tactical nukes, but it is an option that should be discussed.

  • Proposes privatization of Medicare disguised as prescription drug benefit, rejected by Congress
    This is a legitimate campaign issue, since it reveals two different philosophies for preserving Medicare benefits.

  • Tax cuts already passed would fund health insurance for all 43 million uninsured Americans, including nearly ten million uninsured children
    Again, this reveals two different philosophies. By stimulating the economy, Bush hopes to employ more people, allowing them to get their own insurance, rather than simply providing the insurance, which provides no economic stimulus and creates no jobs.

  • Pushes legislation to eliminate overtime pay for up to eight million American working people
    More distortion. The legislation, according to giov't estimates, may cost up to 2 million people their overtime, at the same time making it available for about 2 million more. The 8 million number is a liberal estimate. The issue is legitimate, but it would have been nice to see the whole issue explored, rather than just part of it.

  • Admits phony intelligence on Iraq nuclear program, but maintains it was technically not a lie because some other guy said it and he was just repeating it
    More distortion. The quote was: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." As of today, the Brits still stand by that claim, indicating that they had evidence beyond the forged documents. I'll be interested in seeing that evidence.

  • Claims two trailers used to make helium for balloons and some junk buried in some guy's rose garden are "proof" of Iraqi WMD programs. 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent still missing. Trots Rumsfeld out on Meet the Press to claim these are small things that can be easily moved and hidden, holding out his hands to illustrate something the size of a Mason jar, a magical Mason jar that can hold 63,000 liters or 500 tons.
    More distortion, combined with lack of knowledge. The claim that the trailers were used to make hydrogen for artillery balloons, even if accurate, does not preclude the fact that the trailers could be used for the production of chemical weapons, which makes them a banned item. The presence of high speed centrifuges, integral to a uranium enrichment program, buried under a scientists rose garden, along with his testimony that they were being hidden for use when the inspections ended are in fact proof that hussein maintained a nuclear program in defiance of UN resolutions, including the cease fire.

    25,000 liters is about 6,600 gallons. The standard gasoline tanker holds 12,500 gallons. Obviously, it would be very easy to move two gasoline tankers or hide them in thousands of miles of desert. Or slip them over the border into Syria.

  • Expands Department of Homeland Security terrorist fighting activities to include spying on American citizens suspected of posessing child pornography
    Valid point

  • Pushes legislation to limit medical malpractice claims to $250K, even if an incompetent doctor kills your wife or cuts off your legs instead of removing your appendix
    Not true. The legislation does not limit compensatory damages, only punitive damages.

  • Installs new Senate majority leader with ties to health care industry to shepherd through legislation benefiting corporate insurance and pharmaceutical pals
    Putting people in place to advance his agenda.....and this is wrong why?

  • Pushes legislation to limit bankruptcy protections for consumers targeted by predatory lenders, but proposes no reforms for rogue corporations such as Enron that blow off creditors, employees, and investors at pennies on the dollar
    from the chart referenced above, note that while persoanl bankruptcies have grown as a staggering rate, corporate bankruptcy rates have remained fairly stable, actually decreasing slightly over time, even as the number of businesses increased. The rise in persoanl bankruptcy vs the relatively stable corporate bankruptcy rates indicates abuse of current personal bankruptcy laws. Reform is clearly needed.

  • Pushes legislation to fund faith based social programs, Congress rejects it, Bush issues executive order to allow Federally Funded local and state programs to hire or fire based on religion or ideology and to promote religion as part of delivering services
    Valid issue. Again, this represents a difference in philosophy.

  • Declines invitation to NAACP convention, but sends videotaped greeting to Southern Baptist Convention, calling them faithful servants and praying for them, while they adopt a policy that "homosexuals can find freedom from this sinful, destructive lifestyle" by accepting Jesus as their savior
    Since when is the President not allowed religious freedom?

  • Comments on Supreme Court homosexual rights decision, declares "marriage should be between a man and a woman"
    As did others, including Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, and John Kerry

  • Files amicus brief with Supreme Court urging them to strike down Affirmative Action programs, celebrates Strom Thurmond's "remarkable life" and says he was a friend
    The amicus brief concerned the University of Michigan admissions programs. The court partially agreed with the brief, striking down the undergraduate admissions process.

  • Plans on spending $200 million plus to get re-elected against challengers the GOP says are unelectable
    Just because the money's raised doesn't mean it will be spent. Besides, campaign bravado is one thing; the campaign is another altogether.

    So there we have it. Several hours spent digging for facts and analysing claims, and what do we have left? A few legitimate issues buried in a morass of anger, venom and distortion of fact, along with a little innuendo to liven up the mix.

    Dems are making the same mistake reps made with Clinton; the primal scream of fury drowns out the sound of any truths that may be expressed.

    The title of this piece is The Last Time for a reason. These charges have been placed on the President time and again, and refuted time and again. I don't expect to change any minds with this, but from here on out, when the list is thrown up, I, and anyone else who wants to, can just link to this and end the debate.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Senate filibuster rules changing

The GOP controlled Senate is taking steps to loosen the deathgrip Democrats have taken on the throat of Bush Judicial nominees. In a 10-0 vote today, the Senate Rules committee voted to approve an amendment to Senate rules which decreases the number of votes needed to end a filbuster each time a vote is called.

Interestingly, no Democrat member ofthe committee showed up to vote. Unfortunately for them, unlike in the Texas legislature, running and hiding wasn't enough to stop passage of the measure. Democrats deny that they boycotted the vote.

Next, the measure must go before the full Senate, although Majority Leader Frist has not said when he'll bring it up.

There's a game of brinksmanship going on here. The Dems are using the filibuster in an unprecedented effort to derail a sitting President's judicial nomination. Their opposition is not based on the worthiness of the candidate; Estrada for example got the ABA's highest rating. It's nothing more than partisan politics Now that the dems went nuclear, the reps are prepared to do the same, weakening the use of filibusters to block judicial nominations. While this measure is limited to judicial nomination filibusters, the threat to the filibuster in general is clear.

The minority party has two means of maintaining influence, compromise or obstructionism. Unwilling to compromise, gridlock has become the weapon of choice for the minority party. By limiting the ability of the minority party to obstruct the work of Congress, they may be forced into a more conciliatory mode of operation.

Frist is not eager to escalate the fight; the delicate balance of power between majority and minority is not toyed with lightly. But when excessive force is applied in one direction, it must be countered with a like force, or the balance is destroyed.

Dems now have a choice to make. Allow the nominations to proceed to the full Senate, and make their case there, or risk a permanent loss of power for the minority party.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, May 09, 2003

Ending gridlock in the Senate

The Washigton times is reporting that Sen Bill Frist will introduce a plan to end the filibuster against 2 judicial nominees:
Currently, 60 votes are required to break a filibuster, which is also called invoking cloture. The resolution, co-sponsored by several senators, will require 60 votes only in the first attempt at invoking cloture. In each attempt after that, the vote requirement will drop by three until it reaches a simple majority of 51 votes.
This rule change will apply only to executive nominations, not legislative business.

This is a hard one to call. A filibuster is one of the few tools which allow the minority party to retain some power in Congress, and nowhere is that more important than in making lifetime judicial appointments. A simple majority vote can determine the judicial balance for the next 20 years or so, with a ripple effect reaching even further.

On the other hand, the Constitution specifies that a simple majority is all that is required for confirmation. By holding up the process through filibuster, the dems are circumventing the Constitution, albeit legally.

To make matters more interesting, the rule change was introuced by a Democrat, Zell Miller of Georgia, and was based on a proposal by two more Democrats, Joe Leiberman and Tom Harkin. Of course, Lieberman and Harkin introduced the idea when the reps were in the minority and blocking democratic judicial nominees.

Applying my acid test to the idea, "Do I want the other side to have this power when the tables are turned?" I feel uneasy. Which is more important, filling judicial vacancies, or maintaining the integrity of the filibuster?

Unlike some of you, I kinda like gridlock. The more those yahoos argue and bicker with each other, the less chance they have of doing something that limits my freedom. Unfortunately, there are some things that have to get done, and judicial appointments is one of them.

In the end, it comes down to getting the job done. Both parties have demonstrated over the last 16 years or so that they will do anything to frustrate the other, not always out of conviction, but often out of spite. Moderates on both sides are forced by their party leadership to toe the line, resulting in bitter partisan battles without hope of compromise.

Is this "nuclear option" a reasonable solution? Perhaps not, but in a time when reason has deserted the Senate, maybe unreasonable measures are the only solution.

Posted by Rich
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DNA database expansion

If you want to smack Bush around, try doing it when it matters. Here's a good place to start:
A Bush administration plan to expand federal DNA databases by compelling virtually anyone arrested to give up their genetic code has sparked debate between supporters who say it will solve more cases and critics who insist it is too intrusive.

Notice that it says "arrested", not "convicted." Basically, a busted tail light could get you into a DNA database. Heck, an accusation of loud partying could do the same.

Do you want a national database containing the DNA of every US resident?

I don't.

Talk about an invasion of privacy, not to mention the destruction of the whole, innocent until proven guilty thing.

You want to fight about something, fight about this. It's like I told Bubba, you waste all your energy and outrage on dubious claims of personal flaws and you miss the 2x4 that's going to smack you right between the eyes.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, May 08, 2003

More hypocrisy from the left…

Some democrats are accusing President Bush of grandstanding by holding his speech on the USS Lincoln.
"To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech," said West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd (search) on the Senate floor Tuesday. "I do question the motives of a deskbound president who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech."

Hmmm. I seem to recall another President doing a similar bit of grandstanding, kneeling contemplatively on Omaha beach on the 50th anniversary of the landings. As I recall, he truly was a "deskbound president", who did not serve in the military, and in fact lead protests against it during his days at Oxford.

Did Sen Byrd question his motives, or is his doubt reserved only for republicans?

Folks, it's politics. It's all about the photo op. It's also about good theater, and Bush flying out to the carrier was good theater, just as Clinton biting back tears on Omaha Beach was good theater.

But, we do have to consider the source in this case. Sen. Byrd has long been known as a man of intemperate outbursts, and opinions which, to be charitible, vary from the mainstream. A few examples:

"There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time. I'm going to use that word. We just need to work together to make our country a better country, and I'd just as soon quit talking about it so much."
March, 2001
"The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia" and "in every state in the Union."
"[I'll never fight] with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

Note: the last two quotes came several years after Sen Byrd claims to have left the Klan.

Yep, he's certainly a man I'd turn to if in search of a moral compass.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, April 14, 2003

Machiavelli or Moron?  You make the call!

Isn't it fun, seeing how the left paints President Bush with either brush, depending on it's utility? Sometimes we hear that Bush is too dumb to be president; we make fun of his malapropisms when he speaks extemporaneously, as if that is an indicator of his intelligence. We hear how he wasn't a good student, although he did graduate from Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business School.

Other times, we hear about Bush, the Dark Prince of American Politics, leader of a global cabal designed to subjugate us all in abject slavery. Every move he makes is plotted on at least three levels, advancing hidden agendas, while only appearing to be a bumpkin. That those hidden agendas often work at cross purposes never seems to bother the DUpes very much. They hint of counter conspiracies and cover ups, and mutter about misdirection.

This irrational hatred of the man is leading otherise intelligent people into realms of lunacy formerly occupied by whack jobs like Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski.

Let's have a breath of reality for a minute, OK?

George W Bush is not the most articulate president we've ever had. Deal with it. He's not a Rhodes Scholar, but he's no moron either. He's a man of above average intelligence, but not exceptionally so. He's been moderately successful through his talent for picking able men and women to be his aides, then allowing them to do their jobs. Pity more people can't learn that lesson.

Neither is he a student of The Prince or Sun Tzu. He's not some puppeteer, guiding the world into a design of his choosing. The giveaway is simple. He does what he says he's going to do.

And he makes it work. Hard to be sneaky when you're up front like that.

I was going to go into a long list of foreign policy successes, but the Columbia Law Review did a better job than I could, sI'll direct you there instead. Link via Instapundit

Now I do have some problems with some of the actions the Bush Administration has taken, notably the entire Homeland Security Dept. It is overkill, unnecessary, and takes an unnacceptible chunk of our freedoms. But do I think that some forces behind the Bush Administration orchestrated or allowed 9-11 to occur in order to pass the Patriot Act? Nope.

While there are forces leading us to a reduction in our freedoms, those forces are based on human inclinations, not attributable to one man, or even some global cabalist conspiracy, but to all men, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, but that's a post for another time.

Posted by Rich
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