Friday, February 06, 2004

Surprising display of intelligence

Sometimes W almost seems like a president. He has just appointed an independent committee to investigate the intelligence failures surrounding the WMD search in Iraq. It is headed up by a Democrat (Chuck Robb) and a Republican (Laurence Silberman). Committee members include Lloyd Cutler, Clinton's former WH counsel, and Sen. John McCain.

This is a great move. In appointing prominent Democrats to the panel, he deflects any charges of partisanship. Adding McCain furthers this, as everyone knows he isn't W's water-carrier. And if (actually, when) they discover the CIA botched this, W can fire George Tenet, a Clinton appointee. Very smart political maneuvering.

And the truth is, the CIA did botch the intelligence. At least in overstating the readiness of Hussein's WMD supplies. Yes, Hussein could have made the stuff in no time flat. It isn't hard to grow anthrax produce mustard gas. But there is nothing to indicate that he was ramping up production.

In no way does this critique mean I am against the war. I think it was justified simply on the basis that Hussein made Iraq too unstable in a volatile region. I don't like Syria either, but at least Assad is smart enough to keep to himself. Hussein started two wars in 10 years. And it also helped to get Libya to give up its WMD. W may be botching the reconstruction to a degree, but taking out Hussein was the right thing to do.

First we shoot him, then we stab him, THEN we kill him

The abduction of 11-year old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota, Florida has come to a sad conclusion as her body was found not far from the car wash from which she was originally abducted. The piece of human garbage who abducted her, Joseph P. Smith, currently sits in jail. Brought in for questioning about the abduction, he refused to help police. Now charged with murder, we can see why he was so reluctant. Here's a picture of the scumbag:

It is for predators like this that the death penalty exists. There is nothing to be gained by jailing this man for life. He has commited a sick and vicious crime. He has proven that he cannot exist within society. So he should be removed. People say we shouldn't play God. This isn't playing God. This is justice. The second he ended this little girl's life, he forfeited his own. Will his death bring Carlie back? Of course not. But at least we'll be secure in the knowledge that this waste of oxygen can never do this again.

He is whatever you want him to be. Except honest.

The "animatronic Lincoln" (thanks Mickey Kaus!), good old Senator Botox, gets a proper vetting in this column from Howie Carr. Carr can be a windbag, and some of his positions I disagree with. But as someone who lived in Boston almost 10 years, I can say he's got Sen. Botox down to a "t". He's an arrogant jerk who poses as a common man but lives a pampered lifestyle thanks to the heiresses he marries. Obnoxious and rude, he is practically a shadow in the Senate. Why? Because he has the uncanny ability to position himself on an issue so that no matter which way the wind blows, he can say he was on that side all along. Of course, this means he can't actually COMMIT to anything. Heaven help us if he took a real stand, because I believe that is what happens when the fifth trumpet blows at Armageddon. He sails his yacht in private, denounces "millionaires" in public, and donates less money to charity than people who earn less than half of his senator's six-figure salary. "Do you know who I am?" Yes I do, John. You're a flaming jackass.

It'll get really scary if there's another break-in at the Watergate

Republicans used to be pretty reliable about holding down federal spending. They used to talk about limiting the size of government. They used to try to reduce the deficit. But apparently the Big W has decided that is all a bunch of bunk. Federal spending is at it's highest level since the Nixon years. Why? Buying support for the war. Which is maddening because if he took the time to properly reframe the argument (removing a source of instability in the Middle East, new democracy, along with Jordan they could become the central hub of a moderating influence through the region) he could regain support. But W is like the kid in class who doesn't want to do his homework, so he pays the smart kid to do it. W doesn't want to take the time to go through all the work of convincing people and learning things. So he'll gain his support by spending federal dollars until the money presses break down from overuse. Never have I seen a president who so willingly seems to avoid trying to gain knowledge and hates to work at forming consensus. He and his clique basically ignore everyone else. So now we have a deficit that is growing, a medicare plan that further drains the federal till, and a policy in Iraq that seems positively Rube Goldberg-ian. And W doesn't care. A war and limitless federal spending...the spirit of Nixon lives on.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

A specal "All-Sleaze" posting!!

The high road to Sleazeville

As John Forbes Kerry pretends to be a populist on his way to the Democratic nomination, let's backtrack to Iowa for a moment. After his shock win, he talked about how his message had been well received by the voters of Iowa. You thought he was talking about his message of standing up to Bush and being a leader, right? No, he must have meant this message instead. Seems 'Ol Botox Eyes (his name from now on) had some staffers making calls to voters accusing Dean of everything from "environmental racism" (which must mean no rights for raccoons) to using babies for skeet targets. Of course the Botox campaign denied encouraging this, blaming it on a rogue staffer. Only problem is that numerous other voters received similar calls. That's nice. Let's talk about the issues unless we're losing. That's one hell of a message.

How to abuse your government post in three easy steps

1. Help author and pass a controversial Medicare plan that gives billions of dollars away to the drug industry.

2. Resign from your position and take a job with a drug interest that benefits from the new law.

3. Sit back and watch those dollars roll in!!

Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) must have that routine memorized. He announced recently that he will not seek re-election after this year and will step down from his Chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 16. He claims it is for health reasons. Not likely. Try it's because he received an offer to head the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade group that represents drug giants like Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. And this is after he helped pass the Medicare prescription drug bill. Gosh, no conflict of interest here, huh? It shouldn't be a surprise since he comes from the "Big Sleazy", whose penchant for corrupt officials is rivaled only by Rhode Island (mayor as felons and multiple governors arrested for graft keeps them in the top spot. Go Little Rhody!!). But never has it been so blatant. He may as well have stood on the floor of the House while a PhRMA rep shoved $100 bills down his pants. Maybe he did. I don't watch too much C-Span.

I never accepted favors from ... oh, you mean THAT contractor

Last, but not least, a shout out to the governor of my home state, Connecticut. Y'know, the rest stop between Boston and New York City. Anyway, Gov. John Rowland gave the State of the State address last night to tepid applause. Why? Oh, little things like accepting favors from state contractors, lying about it and then admitting he lied in a state-wide address. Add to that being the subject of a federal graft investigation and facing possible impeachment, and you can see why a lot of people, Dems and Reps alike, want him to resign. This is really the first time in ages where something like this has happened in Connecticut. I guess we're jealous of Rhode Island having all the cool criminals as leaders. We look over there and say "Why can't one of Hartford's mayors be an ex-felon who beat his ex-wife's boyfriend half to death with a fireplace log?" (That would be Buddy Cianci, Providence's favorite son and current prisoner, by the way.)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I think the T-Bird springs fewer leaks

This is for everyone who thinks that we should normalize relations with Cuba. This is for everyone who chooses to ignore how Castro brutalizes his own people. This is for every single hollywood pea-brained jackass who thinks supporting Cuba is doing their people some good.

Cuba is such a lousy place to live that people are desperate enough to flee in a '57 Buick that was converted into a boat.

What marriage is really about

I want to preface this by saying that I am happily married with a young son. I am saying this so everyone understands that I have no hidden agenda or vested interest in the decision passed down today by the Massachusetts Supreme Court on gay marriage. For those of you who missed it, the Court ruled that civil unions are not equivalent to marriage and that gay and lesbian couples must be allowed to marry in the state, with all the benefits and responsibilities thereof.

Good. I am glad someone has finally said something that needs to be said in this country. There is NO reason that two adults who love each other should be kept from marrying each other.

This decision will undoubtedly cause mass hysteria in many parts of the country, who equate gay marriage with Armageddon. And no doubt religious conservatives will call for the "sanctity of marriage" to be preserved, and various commentators will say we're one short step from polygamy and incestuous marriages being legalized.

Of course, these doomsayers are completely and totally insane.

Two men or two women getting married and benefiting from that relationship affects these bigots how? What personal impact does it have on them? Does their house fall down? Their car's engine seizes up? Food doesn't taste as good? What actual, measurable negative impact will gay marriage have on society? None. People won't start fornicating in the city streets and wearing leather chaps while quoting Walt Whitman simply because two men who love each other have the audacity to actually want to legally commit to each other for life.

The people who claim the "sanctity of marriage" is at risk miss the point entirely. If a man cheats on his wife (as numerous conservative political and religious individuals have), is that marriage still sanctified? If a man beats his wife, is that marriage still sanctified? I say no. Because the sanctity of marriage isn't bestowed by the gender of the two adults coming together. The sanctity of marriage is formed by the love and respect the two people share for each other. As long as that exists, then that marriage is sanctified. Being a gay or lesbian or heterosexual couple doesn't add or subtract to the strength of the marriage. How they act and treat each other is what counts.

And the "argument" that allowing gay marriage will open the door for the recognition of polygamy, incest, bestiality et al. is even more ridiculous. What we are talking about here is allowing two non-related adultsto marry one another. It's not a redefinition of marriage. The fact that they may be the same sex is irrelevant. The key here is "not related", not the gender. Otherwise, you are essentially arguing that marriage is a contract entered into for procreation. So what if a women is barren or a man impotent? They can't have children. Should they be allowed to marry one another or someone else? If you believe gender, and by extension procreation, is the essence of marriage, then the answer is "no". Of course, that is as stupid as keeping gay couples from marrying.

And for the love of God, please do not start talking about how the Bible condemns homosexuality. I could easily fill another page talking about how anti-gay bigots have twisted the Bible to fit their agenda. I simply leave this part of it with two statements. One, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about the evils of homosexuality. It is an admonishment against being inhospitable and not being kind to strangers. Two, Jesus never said one word about homosexuality. If it is such a sin in the eyes of God, I think his Son would have said a few words on the topic.

So what does the ruling mean? That's the million dollar question. It could become moot if the Mass. Constitutional Convention passes a "one man, one woman" clause and it gets passed by the citizenry on the 2006 ballot. Of course, since gay marriage has to be instituted by mid-May, that'd leave a year and a half of marriages that could be...voided? Grandfathered? Who knows? On a national level, the actions of the MA court could force other states to recognize gay marriage. Under Article IV, Section I of the US Constitution, "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state." In other words, a gay couple married in MA must be recognized as married in Kentucky, Texas and every other state.

I must admit I am not a big fan of the judiciary setting public policy. It really isn't their arena. But there are times when society is so gridlocked or divided that it needs a shove in the right direction. Nationally we had Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Now this ruling in MA forces us to tackle another important issue. And it's about time.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

All the news that’s fit to squash

Quick, what do you think of when you hear “Clear Skies?” If you can ignore the gnashing and wailing from the granola lobby, you’d think of the Bush proposal to eliminate air pollution. The proposal calls for reducing air pollution on a national level and allowing industrial facilities to trade reduction permits. The Democratic nominees, newspaper editorialists from the New York Times and granola lobbyists have jumped all over it for months, saying it weakens the current Clean Air Act.

Come hither the National Resources Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences. It has just published a report on air pollution, saying that while air pollution is declining, the most effective way to reduce it is to…pursue a multi-state approach and allow industrial facilities to trade reduction permits. In other words, exactly what the Bush plan calls for.

After getting over the shock that Bush is actually proposing something to help the environment, you’d think that these previous opponents would either acknowledge their error or at least not bring it up again. Oh, wait, that would be in Bizarro America. Here, the candidates still decry the measure, the Times buries the piece in the bowels of the front section, and the granola-heads…well, who really takes them seriously?

Two things come to mind. One, the reason no one is admitting that the Bush plan would work, and in fact are lying about its’ effect, is because the Democrats would have NO shot in 2004 if Bush scored a progressive environmental victory. The second is more interesting. A multi-state approach to pollution with industrial facilities trading reduction permits should sound familiar. That is essentially what the Kyoto Accord was about. However, what wouldn’t work on a global level can work on a national level. The key being that the economic effect is reduced. The negative impact that Kyoto would have on our productivity and production in the global market is reduced dramatically when the same concept is applied within our borders. It like how communism works on a small scale, but is a national bust. In a single household, people share the benefits of work (food, clothes, etc.) although not everyone shares the work. Nationally, millions of people starve or get executed, and a dictatorship forms.

The point being: All these left-wing organizations, editorialists and politicians LOVED the Kyoto Accord. They hailed it as the salvation of mankind. But when a Republican president proposes the same plan on a national level? Horrors!! We’ll all be wearing gas masks and mourning the death of the last tree in twenty years time!! I am not, in any way, a Bush-ite. But this plan is valid. It improves the health of the country. That should be the only thing anyone cares about.

Monday, February 02, 2004

I’ll never be mistaken for Sam Rothstein

Super Bowl XXXVIII will probably go down as one of the greatest games of all time. And boy, was I off on the score. Well, I was close to the Pats part, but who’d have thought Jake Delhomme would channel Brett Favre? Must be something in the Cajun water. But all’s well that ends well, I wisely didn’t place a bet on the spread, and now the Pats have a set of shiny bookends for the trophy case.

It’s not just the language, old bean

Churchill once said that the US and UK were “separated by a common language.” Well, in the sports arena we were treated to another way in which we differ. In an English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Aston Villa, a fan ran onto the pitch to berate Leicester goalkeeper Ian Walker. Walker understandably was upset by this and repeatedly shoved the fan away until security and the officials could arrive. And while the fan was rightfully banned for life from the stadium, Walker actually had to sweat out the possibility that HE would get in trouble. Thankfully, the governing body for the Premier League decided not to punish him.

Contrast this with the Super Bowl last night. As the second half was about to begin, a man dressed in a referee’s uniform stripped down to a g-string and proceeded to run around the field. Until Patriot linebacker Matt Chatham dropped him like a wet sack of noodles. Did he have to sweat a fine or suspension? Heck no! In the US we understand that if a fan is stupid enough to run onto the field, he gets what he deserves. Personal responsibility and all that.

But we don’t mind the corpses

Showing that he has nothing better to do with his time, Michael Powell, Chairman of the FCC, sent out a statement calling the Janet Jackson breast-baring incident "deplorable", and that a full investigation is forthcoming.

What a waste of time. First of all, she had a pastie on. So it wasn’t a naked breast. But the bigger issue is this. On all the networks, you can find shows that give us killings (CSI), bloody corpses( Law and Order), scenes of torture (Line of Fire, 24), and other similar scenarios. All of which, if you believe, like Michael “Charles Coughlin ” Powell, that “Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better”, are much more shocking and damaging to children. And he has nothing to say about any of that. I am not advocating censorship of any sort here. I am a firm believer in the ultimate censor being personal choice and a remote for the TV. I’m just try to show the utter foolishness of Powell’s decision. It’s a breast. Get over it.

Defending the indefensible

While I am a strong supporter of our efforts in Iraq, I am continuously dismayed and disappointed over Bush’s refusal to acknowledge that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the kind of friends you can do without. The latest revelation is that the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, acknowledged he transferred nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. To do something like this in a nation where the military is so entrenched in the government means that some official, somewhere, approved of this. This “ally” of ours is the source of some of the most rabid Wahabi followers in the world, and now acknowledges this. And do we demand a rectification of the situation? No. We just smile, say they are trying to help, and pretend they aren’t knifing us in the back. Which just encourages this type of behavior. So we trumpet our successes in Libya, and rightfully so. But if we don’t rectify these problems we are having with out “allies”, then our successes will be for naught. BTW, anyone care to bet that bin Laden (remember him?) is hiding somewhere in Pakistan?

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