Friday, November 28, 2003
There are, in my opinion, three defining moments thus far in the presidency of George W. Bush – hereafter referred to as ‘W’. The first came as he stood in the wreckage and carnage of Ground Zero and spoke to the world through a bull horn. “I can hear you,” his voice crackeled through the speaker. “America can hear you. And the people who knocked these buildings down are gonna hear from all of us, real soon.”
Simple words, stated by a man who speaks resonating eloquence in simple words understood by everyone. He has an ivory towered academic vocabulary, of that I have no doubt. One does not earn degrees from Yale and Harvard by being a simpleton.
The next came as a resolute president stood before a joint session of congress in late September 2001. Holding a police shield of a fallen NYPD patrolman, he stated that “we will not falter, and we will not fail.”
The last, and most recent came as he stood before 600 or so troops from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Infantry Division yesterday in Bagdad. Yes, for those of you in a turkey induced coma, W took his show on the road yesterday and landed Air Force One in Saddam’s backyard. He spent part of his Thanksgiving with the troops as the first American president to visit Iraq and the first one in recent memory to visit a war zone.
Hey Saddam, can you hear me now?
W’s speech can be found here. Again, high use of simple language. The guy knows what he’s doing.
There were other politicians in Iraq yesterday, most notably the pseudo-Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. I call her a pseudo Senator because I’ve spent more time in New York then she has. Hillary is running for president, she just won’t tell us when. But its evident in everything she does. She’s kind of like that senator from the movie The American President, but she doesn’t say the words, “I’m Hillary Clinton and I’m running for President.” That’s ok, Hillary. We get the message.
Well, yesterday, the American President went to Bagdad. He came, he saw, and yes, he conquered. He was in his element, with his troops, as their Commander in Chief. There is another scene from The American President where the President, played by Michael Douglas, has had enough of the whining of the aforementioned Senator. He comes to the press room, and after ripping the press a new collective hole, states that he is the President.
That’s what W did yesterday. His visit should remind everyone, especially Hillary that he is George W. Bush, and he is the President.
Can you hear me now Hillary?
Here endeth the lesson.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
If you read the papers and the commentary contained therein, lest the major media outlets be accused of actually reporting ‘news’, you may come to the conclusion that the earth is on the verge of spinning off its axis and hurtling headlong into the sun. And, if you read further, you will no doubt find the cause of this impending disaster is the fault of none other than W, with a little help from both houses of the Republican controlled congress.
To read the pages and websites it is easy to assume they have been written by people who spend most of the day sucking on pickles.
I for one, choose to look at the bright side of the picture. Yes, there is one. For a glimpse, I quote from David Brooks’ piece in today’s New York Times:
The drop in crime rates over the past decade is nothing short of a miracle. Teenage pregnancy and abortion rates rose in the early 1970's and 1980's, then leveled off and now are dropping. Child poverty rates have declined since the welfare reform of the mid-1990's. The black poverty rate dropped "to the lowest rate ever recorded," according to a 2002 study by the National Urban League. The barren South Bronx neighborhood that Ronald Reagan visited in 1980 to illustrate urban blight is now a thriving area, with, inevitably, a Starbucks.
The U.S. economy has enjoyed two long booms in the past two decades, interrupted by two shallow recessions, and perhaps now we're at the start of a third boom. More nations have become democratic in the past two decades than at any other time in history.
In his forthcoming book, "The Progress Paradox," Gregg Easterbrook piles on the happy tidings. The air is cleaner. The water is cleaner and we are using less of it. Our homes have doubled in size in a generation and home ownership rates are at an all-time high. There are now fewer highway deaths in the U.S. than in 1970, even though the number of miles driven has shot up by 75 percent.
See? I told you there was a bright side.
So, as we gather around tables across the nation, to feast upon the bounties of this great land, and of course to watch hours and hours of football, let us also reflect upon the blessings we have. In October 1789, George Washington signed the first proclamation of a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.
(signed) G. Washington
This coming Thursday will mark the 214th anniversary of this truly American holiday. Give thanks for what you have, however little or much that may be. Give thanks for those who are far from home, who may be gathering around a camp stove and an MRE. They do what they do so you may live as you like.
“Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9
Here endeth the lesson.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
On Dennis J. Kucinich (take two):
To borrow a line from a dear friend – You. Are. Mentally. Damaged.
I feel I must take it up on myself to call this man what he is. Bonehead. I could use other phrases, all of which are justified, but I choose not to.
Kucinich was interviewed in today’s Washington Post. The Post, for some odd reason, continues to tout this sorry excuse for a congressman as a viable presidential candidate. This clod is barely physically viable. His intellect is questionable at best. His knowledge of world realities is downright laughable. He is downright laughable.
Today, he said, and I quote, “U.S. military action against Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was not justified and has proved to be a "disaster" and a "nightmare.” He continued to spew nonsense, to the point that I begin to wonder if the reporter had to stifle a fit of uncontrolled laughter. I personally would’ve been on the floor.
I have a few questions for Mr. Kucinich.
What would be a justified response to the cold blooded murder of 3,017 US citizens on our own soil? Should we build a campfire on Ground Zero, invite Binny Laden, Saddam, and their collective band of thugs to come sing Kumbya? Are you truly that dense? These people came into our house and killed our people. 3,017 people died in a truly horrible manner that I cannot bring myself to here describe in words. Perhaps you need to watch the bodies falling from the WTC. Then again, your thick skull might prevent the images from being seared into your mind as they have been in all of ours.
To Mr. Kucinich’s nonsense, I answer with W’s eloquence yesterday in London:
“Those in authority, however, are not judged only by good motivations. The people have given us the duty to defend them. And that duty sometimes requires the violent restraint of violent men. In some cases, the measured use of force is all that protects us from a chaotic world ruled by force.”
We live in a world governed by the aggressive and effective use of military force. Peace is not the absence of armed conflict. Peace is achieved by victory over those who seek to do evil unto others.
Mr. Kucinich, you world of shifting morals, equivocation, and appeasement is not one in which I would like to live. And, in case your thick headedness prevents you from properly interpreting polling data, few people want to join you on your quest for that world.
Here endeth the lesson.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
On the al Qaeda - Iraq link:
There is no link between Saddam's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda. There is no link between Saddam's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda. There is no link between Saddam's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda.
Seems to be the modus operendi for critics of any effort to connect the two. Say a lie long enough and emphatically enough it should become the truth, right?
Check out the two part Stephen Hayes piece in the Weekly Standard. Be prepared to read for awhile and you may actually have to put some critical thought into it. I know it may be painful, but suck it up. Part 1. Part 2.
There endeth the lesson.
Friday, November 14, 2003
As I write this, there is a talk-a-thon going on across the river in Washington. Seems the Republican led Senate has finally decided to use the filibuster rule against a bunch of whining left wing liberal Democrats. Good for them.
I have but a few points to make on this issue.
First, I’m tired of the whining. W has made judicial nominations, as is his constitutional responsibility and duty. Then Senate has a constitutional duty to advise and consent to these nominations. This duty is what the filibuster is all about.
A filibuster is a Senate legislative tool that allows one or a group of senators to hold the floor and talk about anything they want for any length of time. Over the history of the Senate, this rule has been used many times, often going on for hours and days at a time. The late Strom Thrumond holds the record for his action, talking non-stop for some 24 hours with out even a bathroom break. His was a cast iron bladder.
In order to end a filibuster, 60 votes are required. Democrats are using this tool to block, at last count, four qualified jurists from taking the federal bench.
There are constitutionally mandated actions that require 2/3 super majority votes. Treaties, Constitutional amendments, adding states, are some of these actions. No where in the constitution is 60 votes required to confirm judicial appointees. I checked. So did the Senate Parlimentarian.
Democrats claim they are doing nothing they have not already seen the Republicans do. They claim Senate Republicans blocked several Clinton nominees from taking the bench, and they are just following the example they saw.
Sorry guys, no dice.
You see, Republicans ran the Senate for all but two years of Clinton’s sorry excuse for an administration. Running the joint means you set the rules, you decide what comes up for a vote, even who gets a hearing. It is the right of the *majority* to do this. All Clinton nominees that were reported out of the Judiciary Committee received a Senate vote. Most were confirmed. Some were not. That’s the way it works. Not one Clinton nominee reported out of committee was filibustered on the Senate floor. Not one. I checked.
So, my dear Democrats, stop the damn whining. Especially you, Mr. Leahy. If you want to set the agenda, you need to be in the *majority*. If you want to be in the *majority* you need to do something you haven’t done in a very, very, long time.
Win some elections.
That’s how a representative republic works.
Here endeth the lesson.
On the Political Game of Football:
It was a cold day in Green Bay. You see, Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers had just lost a game at Lambeau Field to their arch division rivals, the Chicago Bears. Lombardi was not happy. Anyone who knows football knows that when Lombardi was not happy, nobody was happy.
Legend says Lombardi ripped his team up and down for all the mistakes they had made. Blocking, tackling, running, passing, kicking. He then informed his team they would not be going home that Sunday afternoon. They would, in fact, return to the field for a practice session. They would, he said, break the game down to the basic fundamentals of football. He then climbed onto a bench and, holding aloft a football, stated the following phrase:
“This, gentlemen, is a football.”
Football and politics, are games of momentum. If you make no progress, the defensive team wins the game. It is really that simple. It is my humble opinion that the Democratic Party is playing defensive political football.
If you read, and one can only hope you do, you will find W is making progress. It may not be much, something like averaging 2-3 yards per running play. Unemployment is down. Factory orders are up. First down. Move the chains.
Every now and then, W breaks a big play. 3rd Quarter economic numbers came back the best in 15 years or so. He…could…go…all…the…way!! Touchdown. Do a little dance.
The Dems do get the ball back. The only problem is, when they do, the fumble, bumble, and otherwise screw themselves up. Note Howard Dean. He wants to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup windows. Wesley Clark – Even dumb southerners should vote for me.
Unsportsmanlike conduct. 15 yards and loss of down for Dean. Clark – Alienation of constituency. 20 yards.
Keep it up guys. And while you do, just remember, W is going forward. It may be in three and five yard chunks, but he’s in the end zone more than you. As long as that remains constant, be sure to keep your lecture circuit contacts warm.
Here endeth the lesson.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
On the path to peace, stability, and most of all, victory:
The inspiration for today’s blog comes from the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men”. Jack Nicholson received an Academy Award Nomination for his portrayal of Marine Colonel Nathan Jessup. In the now famous “You can’t handle the truth!” scene, Jessup gives a short soliloque explaining the sometimes ugly reality that is security.
In today’s conflict, there is no shortage of those who would criticize the brave men and women whose job it is to provide for the defense of this nation. The means they use, by far the most humane in the history of warfare, are decried as barbaric, inhumane, and unfair.
Would someone please tell me where it is written that war is humane and fair? Patton declared that the object of war is “to make the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.” War is inherently unfair. That being said, the only solution to war is victory. To that end, I quote the fictional Marine Colonel:
"Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg?
I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.
You don't want the truth because, deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand at post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to."
Those who would criticize the tactics of those involved in fighting have rarely, if ever, taken a weapon to stand a post. They would not put themselves in harm’s way nor do they have the courage to take a principled stand on anything that matters.
War is not pretty. It cannot be sanitized for your protection. Unless you are prepared to wage war in an impossible fashion, put a sock in it. Either that, or get a gun and man a post.
Here endeth the lesson
Friday, November 07, 2003
On progress in the Arab World.
One commentator at a time. Fawaz Turki is coming around.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
On Barbara Streisand:
Babs has again opened her mouth and put a pair of million dollar shoes in it. Seems that the hit piece “The Reagans” was deep sixed by CBS after a firestorm of criticism rained down upon the network.
Babs has a great voice, don’t get me wrong. But when she spouts off about anything other than music, she leaves herself wide open for shots I feel it my civic duty to take.
Memo to Babs:
You mentioned many things about the CBS miniseries. You correctly stated it is a drama and not a documentary. Bravo. You failed, however and quite obviously, to mention that your husband plays the Gipper in the series. Sorry, Babs, need to be a little more subtle there. Could you not just as easily have said “my washed up actor-husband could’ve used the derivatives to pay some bills?”
Next, you went to great lengths to trot out the First Amendment and cry “Censorship”. Sorry, Babs, can’t let you slide on that one. Here is the text of the amendment for the record:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Freedom of speech is protected under the Constitution. You are free to say what you want, when you want, and where you want – for the most part. The State may take no action to prevent you from doing so. State sponsored censorship, in most but not all cases, is against the law.
Now, Babs, the state took no action to prevent your husband’s show from being aired. No soldiers showed up at the CBS Burbank Studios to prevent the show from being seen. You, and your husband, were not censored by the state in any way, shape manner, or form.
What happened was the result of many people, not a small group of right wing activists as you claim, made their displeasure regarding the series known to CBS and the advertisers that would have supported the show’s airing. We have that right Babs. Guess what? That’s constitutionally protected as well. Funny how that works.
One more thing about the First Amendment. Every one has the right to speak. They can say whatever they want. The right to speak does not in any case guarantee the right to be heard. We don’t have to listen to you, Babs. And, just so you know why nobody really gives a flying flip about your husband’s mini-series, it’s because we’re not.
Here endeth the lesson.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
A spokeswoman for Syria’s foreign ministry today called on the United States to pull its troops from Iraq, citing the chaos and terrorism ‘rampant’ in the country. See her comments here.
Is this woman frigging insane? Her name is Bushra Kanafani.
Memo to Ms. Kanafani: You represent Syria. In case you’ve been in England for too long, your country is run by a dictator and terrorists run freely in the streets of Damascus. The truth of this statement is obvious to anyone with half a brain cell. Your country finances terror. Your country harbors terrorists. There is much evidence to support the claim that Saddam loyalists have found safe haven in your cities. You claim we have found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Could that be because the aforementioned weapons are sitting in your back yard? Do you really want to open up that can of worms?
Or perhaps I should shorten my memo to a sound byte: Do you feel lucky?
People who live in glass houses should not dance around naked in the living room.
Here endeth the lesson.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
On Election Day:
Its election day in my neighborhood. This means that I must find the place where I am to vote and, even though I’m not greatly informed on the candidates, cast a ballot for the people who run my city and county. I will do so, even though it isn’t very convienent for me to do so. Its my civic duty. More importantly if I do not vote, I believe I’ve forfeited my right to complain. Can’t have that now can we?
I have but one observation on the difference between the two parties in my county. There are Republicans and Democrats. Although by the signs and mailers I’ve seen and received, there are Republicans and “Bi-partisan leaders”, or “Mainstream Values”, or “For All the People”. Not one sign or mailer identifies the candidate as a Democrat.
Now I admit I live in a fairly conservative district. But I have one requirement for casting a vote for somebody – even if its only the schlep that runs the water district. If you’re a Republican, tell me – and I must say, all of the Republican candidates have stated their party affiliation – prominately and proudly in most cases. If you’re a Democrat, have the courage to state that fact. Don’t hide behind progressive labels. If you have to hide your party affiliation, you my fellow county resident, aren’t qualified to represent me – even as the dog catcher.
Here endeth the lesson.
Monday, November 03, 2003
On Zell Miller:
Senator Zell Miller (d-GA – note the little “D”) has done something really phenomenal. He has taken the democratic party to task on its many failings as a national party. If he was running in to represent me, I’d vote for him even though he sits on the opposite side of the aisle from my principles. He’s written a book “A National Party no more” in which he makes points I’m sure are felt by many mainstream democrats across the country.
He also has a column in the Wall Street Journal in which he endorses President Bush in the 2004 election. Now you can say he has nothing to lose by doing so because he’s leaving the Senate next year anyway. This is true, but the bridges Zell is burning are really shedding some light on the course of the Democrats as a party.
Zell says that he has “voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and has voted for every Democratic presidential candidate the 12 cycles since then. My political history to the contrary, this was the easiest decision I think I've ever made in deciding who to support. For I believe the next five years will determine the kind of world my four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren will live in. I simply cannot entrust that crucial decision to any one of the current group of Democratic presidential candidates.”
I won’t try to add much to Zell’s comments. He has stated the truth far better than I can ever do. After all, I’m a Republican and damn proud of it. But if guys like Zell are effectively leaving the party because it has drifted so far to the left, the democratic party as an institution is in very serious trouble.
Here endeth the lesson.