The Powell vision, to the extent he articulated it, was “sharing the wealth,” “close Guantanamo” and “be inclusive.” I would offer this thought for those who wish to steer the Republican party in a dramatically different direction – your message can’t be, “why can’t Republicans be more like the Democrats” and then be surprised that people charge that you’re a closet Democrat.
The charge against Powell isn't so much that he's a closet Democrat. That would imply that he pretends to be a Republican, but secretly is more closely aligned with the Democrats. Fact it: This simply isn't much of a secret. The charge against Powell is more that everything he publicly supports makes him a Democrat; he just hasn't admitted it yet.
Does anyone else find this convenient? Both McCain and Obama were able to publicly support the plan, though Obama hemmed and hawed some in the debate, but neither one of the had to actually go out on a limb and vote for the dumb thing because the bill failed in the House.
This stunt is designed to challenge the "censorship" of the Internal Revenue Code. You see, churches, like all other organizations exempt from taxation under Sec. 501, are not allowed to engage in political advocacy if they want to maintain their tax-exempt status. This has, from time to time, been labelled government "censorship". The author of the piece I quote claims it violates the first amendment.
Except that it doesn't. There is absolutely nothing in the tax law that prohibits any kind of speech. What the tax law does do is offer certain types of organizations that Congress has defined as being formed without a profit motive for the public good an exemption from taxation as a matter of legislative grace. If it were not for this provision, every non-profit, including churches, would be subject to income taxes.
In exchange for this rather wonderful benefit, Congress asks these organizations to make some trade-offs. One of those trade-offs is to refrain from partisan political activities. Whether you think this is good policy or not, the idea that it's "censorship" or violates the First Amendment is just loony. Censorship is taking active steps to prevent certain viewpoints from getting out. The First Amendment provides:
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.
Presumably the author thinks that stripping tax-exempt status from churches violates either the establishment of religion clause (though I doubt this) or, more likely, the freedom of speech clause. How, exactly though, are either clause violated here? Certainly denying tax-exempt status doesn't lead to an establishment of religion. Nor does it prohibit the free exercise of religion. Even if you believe that supporting a candidates is part of your religion, no one's telling you that you can't do that. There just saying that if you do, you can't be exempt from tax. Being exempt from tax isn't a right, it's a privilege that Congress doesn't have to offer. The same goes for the free speech clause. No one's telling you what you can and can't say. They are saying that if you perform certain types of speech, we're not going to give you this benefit.
Again, you can reasonably differ on whether or not this is good policy, but offering people a benefit if they refrain from certain activities isn't censorship or a violation of their rights. It's making a deal with them. If they don't want the deal, that's fine. They can do whatever they want.
If these ministers believe that speaking their mind is more important than their congregation being exempt from tax, then they should give up their tax-exempt status. These people though want the benefits of the deal without doing their part.
Update: Glenn Reynolds makes a similar point. He would deal with the whole issue by chunking tax-exempt status completely (or keep it for only those providing direct services). Personally, I find the idea of taxing churches distasteful, but that's hardly a policy position.
As this story points out, Conservatives, me included, aren't exactly upset. Ted Stevens is a blight on the conservative party. His constant porking has made a joke of us too long. I don't know if Stevens is guilty, though I suspect he is, but I sure hope this means we can finally be rid of him.
When the First, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments speak of “the right
of the people” to free speech and to be free from unreasonable searches
and seizures and so on, no one interprets these as collective rather
than individual rights.
In fact, Stevens' dissent in Hellerdoes claim that our first amendment rights to assemble and petition the government are, in essence, collective rights.
Stevens claims that contemporary commentators are largely useless because 1) they discuss the 2nd amendment and Article VII of the English Guarantee of rights and because 2) they appear to be unfamiliar with the drafting history of the 2nd amendment.
Stevens 1st argument is especially illustrative. He had previously claimed that Article VII has little use because it was worded differently and written at a different time. However, faced with the fact that contemporary commentators often expressed the view that 2nd amendment was the logical progression of Article VII utterly fails to consider the possibility that this might mean that his view of Article VII is wrong and instead concludes that contemporary commentators are worthless on the subject.
His presents no evidence that those writing soon after the 2nd was ratified had no understanding of it's history. Given that, this statement seems to be based on nothing more than that they reached different conclusions than he did. I also find the proposition, common among academics, that we understand more about what was "really" going on in some time in the past than did those who experienced it to be incredibly arrogant.
What is important about Blackstone is the instruction he provided on reading the sort of text before us today. Blackstone described an interpretive approach that gave far more weight to preambles than the Court allows. Counseling that “[t]he fairest and most rational method to interpret the will of the legislator, is by exploring his intentions at the time when the law was made, by signs the most natural and probable,” Blackstone explained that “[i]f words happen to be still dubious, we may establish their meaning from the context; with which it may be of singular use to compare a word, or a sentence, whenever they are ambiguous, equivocal, or intricate. Thus, the proeme, or preamble, is often called in to help the con-struction of an act of parliament.” 1 Commentaries on the Laws of England 59–60 (1765) (hereinafter Blackstone). In light of the Court’s invocation of Blackstone as “ ‘the preeminent authority on English law for the founding generation,’ ” ante, at 20 (quoting Alden v. Maine, 527 U. S. 706, 715 (1999)), its disregard for his guidance on matters of interpretation is striking.
It is not Scalia, but Stevens, who ignores Blackstone's guidance. As quoted by Stevens himself, Blackstone counsels that preambles be used to resolve meaning, "whenever they are ambiguous, equivocal, or intricate. Stevens argues at length that the preamble must be read to confine the possible meaning of the operative clause because failing to do so would render the preamble without meaning. The Blackstone text he quotes, however, seems to say that the purpose of a preamble is to help resolve ambiguity and offers not other interpretive usage of preambles. Interpreting ambiguity is valuable and using a preamble solely in this way clearly does not render it without meaning.
Scalia, on the other hand, argues:
That requirement of logical connection may cause a prefatory clause to resolve an ambiguity in the operative clause (“The separation of church and state being an important objective, the teachings of canons shall have no place in our jurisprudence.” The preface makes clear that the operative clause refers not to canons of interpretation but to clergymen.) But apart from that clarifying function, a prefatory clause does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause.
It sems to me that Scalia is taking the exact same view on preambles as Blackstone, they serve to resolve ambiguities and nothing else. (It should be noted that elsewhere Stevens claims that Scalia is inventing a whole new system of interpretation by requiring "only" a logical connection between the preface and the operative clause. Scalia, however, is clearly using this test to articulate the exact same interpretative position proposed by Blackstone and praised by Stevens.
A good 9-10 pages of Stevens' dissent is spent looking at all the different proposed languages set forth for the 2nd amendment and then concluding that because Madison chose not to base his language on proposals that more explicitly protected civilian usage, that he MUST not have had any intention to protect civilian usage.
This statement is not based on any historical evidence whatsoever. Stevens is apparently capable of reading the mind of a man who's been dead a VERY long time. I'm impressed.
There are any number of reasons Madison might have chosen this particular formulation. It is, for one, far simpler and more elegant than other proposed variations. For all we know, this could have been his reasoning. He could have felt that additional commentary on what exact usages were protected was superfluous since he had already stated that the right "shall not be infringed".
Attempting to discern what was intended by what was not said is always dangerous and claiming to be able to read the author's mind to determine his underlying motive for NOT saying something is shear hubris. (And yes, Scalia does a bit of this as well, but it's tangential in Scalia's argument and is a fundamental cornerstone of Stevens' dissent.)
Although the abstract definition of the phrase “the people” could carry the same meaning in the Second Amendment as in the Fourth Amendment, the preamble of the Second Amendment suggests that the uses of the phrase in the First and Second Amendments are the same in referring to a collective activity. By way of contrast, the Fourth Amendment describes a right against governmental interference rather than an affirmative right to engage in protected conduct, and so refers to a right to protect a purely individual interest.
I know I've seen similar comments elsewhere, but just who does Stevens think is going to be "infringing" on the right to keep and bear arms or to assemble or to petition the government? Santa Clause? The Tooth Fairy?
ALL rights protected in the Bill of Rights are rights "against governmental interference." That's the whole stinking point!
Good grief. So apparently, the right to petition the government is only "sort of" an individual right.
In the First Amendment, no words define the class of individuals entitled to speak, to publish, or to worship; in that Amendment it is only the right peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, that is described as a right of “the people.” These rights contemplate collective action. While the right peaceably to assemble protects the individual rights of those persons participating in the assembly, its concern is with action engaged in by members of a group, rather than any single individual. Likewise, although the act of petitioning the Government is a right that can be exercised by individuals, it is primarily collective in nature. For if they are to be effective, petitions must involve groups of individuals acting in concert.(Emphasis added)
So, because you're unlikely to be all that effective petitioning the government on your own, that's not "really" what the right was meant to address. This is important because Stevens' analogizes this "sort of" thinking to the 2nd.
Similarly, the words “the people” in the Second Amendment refer back to the object announced in the Amendment’s preamble. They remind us that it is the collective action of individuals having a duty to serve in the militia that the text directly protects and, perhaps more importantly, that the ultimate purpose of the Amendment was to protect the States’ share of the divided sovereignty created by the Constitution.
Stevens, then, appears to take the position that you have neither the right to petition the government or to fight to insure "the security of a
free State" unless you have a bunch of people helping you. In essence, he's arguing that because you're unlikely to succeed without help, that this is the only legitimate way to try at all.
"What we're talking about is a one-half percent income tax surcharge on incomes above $1 million," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., a leader of the Blue Dog group. "So someone who earns $2 million a year would pay $5,000. ... They're not going to miss it."
So, it's OK to tax people if "they aren't going to miss it"? By the same logic, if someone breaks into a celebrity's home and steals some paintings from a little used room, is that OK? They're not going to miss it! No one even uses that room!
Three small-town eighth-graders in Minnesota were suspended by their principal for not standing Thursday morning for the Pledge of Allegiance, violating a district policy that the principal now says may soon be reworded to protect free speech rights.
This is absolutely ridiculous. There's no sensible justification for this.
No matter what you may tell others (i.e. "I'm basically a good person."), there is something at the core of your being that seems to stain even your best intentions. Like Gollum in the caves of Tolkien's trilogy, it dwells within the heart and mind of all. Rarely does this beast reach full ferocity and manifest itself so publicly in some heinous act of cruelty or depravity. But it crouches at the doorstep for each of us, insinuating itself into our daily lives.
The distance between you, or me, and Eliot Spitzer is not so great as we would imagine, or wish.
The difference between me and Eliot Spitzer is largely this: I have never been elected governor of New York.
Knowing we face a common threat, I don't dance at his downfall. I weep. Yes, I mourn for his demise, even though it may politically benefit my ideological comrades or the cause of conservatism.
I also pray. I pray for the Spitzer family, for the prostitutes who have sold their souls into opulent slavery, for the federal agents who labored at the distasteful task of uncovering the tawdry tale. I pray that justice might be done, and that each person involved would find the mercy I have found -- unmerited mercy that relieves me of my false confidence, and places my hope in the only world figure who ever successfully navigated the perils of power, both publicly and privately, because he alone had no inner-Spitzer.
However, my lament is not that libertarians outnumber conservatives (though that does cause me concern) but rather that our collective failure to understand what constitutes a conservative philosophy or worldview is preventing us from increasing our tribe.
While not the subject of his post, this sentence from Joe Carter's introduction to a series of posts on conservatism caught my eye. While I have frequently heard libertarians lament that in the uneasy alliance between libertarians and conservatives, that the conservatives had them quite outnumbered, I don't remember ever hearing a professed conservative express concern about being outnumbered by the libertarians.
This makes me wonder about terminology. How, exactly, should these terms be defined? Self-identification, comparison to some "standard" of conservative or libertarian thought, or something else entirely?
Certainly, in the blogosphere prominent self-identified libertarians seem to vastly outstrip prominent conservatives. However, in America as a whole I somewhat doubt, based solely on my own experience and observation and no research whatsoever, I doubt that this would be true. (Although this analysis of one poll, indicating that only 20% of people polled purported to even recognize the term libertarian, would tend to back me up on this.)
Of course, how people identify themselves and even how some others ID them is hardly dispositive. I've certainly seem some people refer to themselves as "conservative" whose actual political beliefs would more than strain the definition of the word. For that matter, I seem to recall some leftist (No, I'm not going to try to find the link. Just too lazy.) calling George Bush a "radical libertarian" right after the 2004 election. (That probably rates as one of the most absurd things I've ever heard, but there it is.)
Still, I wonder how many others would take the position that "conservatives" are outnumbered by "libertarians"?
KABUL, Dec 27 (Reuters) - A senior United Nations official and another from the European Union left Afghanistan on Thursday after the government ordered their expulsion, accusing both of holding talks with the Taliban and for paying cash to the group.
The expulsions have caused a diplomatic row between the government and key aid agencies who fear the loss of two such experienced Afghan hands could hinder reconstruction and development efforts.
So, apparently aid groups are concerned that the loss of two "experienced Afghan hands" may hinder reconstruction. That didn't sway the government though. This might have something to do with their personal reasonable belief that when outsiders hold unauthorized talks with the government's, you know, enemies that this might lead to other things blowing up. (I expect their especially concerned about the cash payments.)
PHOENIX — Police in suburban Scottsdale have begun routinely asking for proof of citizenship from every suspect they arrest and turning those who are in this country illegally over to federal immigration officials.
The procedure was started Oct. 15, a result of the September killing of Phoenix police officer Nick Erfle by an illegal immigrant, Erik Jovani Martinez.
Scottsdale police had arrested Martinez on a misdemeanor charge 16 months earlier but they released him then because they didn't know he was an illegal immigrant who had been twice deported.
Erfle's killing "caused us to look at what were asking suspects," Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said. "If we arrest someone and then find that we called ICE (Customs and Immigration Enforcement) and they put a hold on them, then we know they have been deported and are back again."
Oh how I wish the UK Parliament and US Congress would spend less time on implementing laws to abridge our liberties and more on how to prevent 170 foot tall radioactive fire breathing saurians from stomping on our cities and destroying our skolzandhospitalz.
I certainly sympathize with this thinking. I remember studying the writing of the Texas Constitution in my government classes. The Texas Constitution lays out the legislative session so that legislators meet infrequently and are actually barred from passing legislation part of the time they are there. The reason for this is that the writer's believed that neither life nor liberty was safe while the Texas legislature is in session. (Paraphrasing) This is a view still very much alive.
A WEST Australian medical expert wants families to pay a $5000-plus "baby levy" at birth and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 a child.
Writing in today's Medical Journal of Australia, Associate Professor Barry Walters said every couple with more than two children should be taxed to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child's lifetime.
Professor Walters, clinical associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia and the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, called for condoms and "greenhouse-friendly" services such as sterilisation procedures to earn carbon credits.
When obstetricians speak of "population control" I start getting very worried. I will say, i like this response:
Australian Family Association spokeswoman Angela Conway said it was ridiculous to blame babies for global warming.
"I think self-important professors with silly ideas should have to pay carbon tax for all the hot air they create," she said.
SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean factory chief accused of making international phone calls was executed by a firing squad in a stadium before 150,000 spectators, a South Korean aid group reported. Public executions had declined since 2000 amid international criticism but have been increasing, targeting officials accused of drug trafficking, embezzlement and other crimes, the Good Friends aid agency said in a report on the North's human rights. In October, the North executed the head of a factory in South Pyongan province for making international calls on 13 phones he installed in a factory basement, the aid group said. He was executed by a firing squad in a stadium before a crowd of 150,000. Six people were crushed to death and 34 others injured in an apparent stampede as they left the stadium, the aid group said.
Lovely. Just keep this in mind when you hear people extolling the virtues of communism. (And yes, some people still do.)
I had planned to do a post today comparing the rash of stories of environmentalists getting sterilized to the Shakers. However, someone beat me to it. (Via InstaPundit.)
Of course, the Shakers eschewed sex for reasons of religious purity. These new environmentalist want to keep having sex, they just don't want to further populate the planet with us evil humans. While the Shakers weren't motivated by self-loathing, it wouldn't bother me if these radical environmentalists end up going the way of the Shakers. Certainly they won't be perpetuating their beliefs the old-fashioned way.
Oh please. Responding to Kos's assertion that Karl Rove was a good choice to offset Kos at Newsweek because Rove was a "movement" conservative, Sam at Save The GOP comes back with this:
Now real conservatives know that George Bush is not one of them and Karl Rove played Natasha to his Boris. Sure Rove deserves credit for pulling off some miracles in 2004, getting Bush reelected and orchestrating the southern sweep of the Senate by Republicans, but a movement conservative? Please.
Where was Karl Rove advising Bush when he was signing away at earmark after earmark? Where was Karl advising against the biggest expansion of government in American history, in the form of Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and Campaign Finance Reform? Sure, Rove was sleek. He was able to get social conservatives to the polls with marriage protection amendments, but where was his fiscal brilliancy, the lack of which lead to the Congressional cleansing we witnessed a year ago?
The idea that Rove is part of the conservative movement is patently absurd. Rove is a Republican strategist, but I have yet to see him do anything that indicated he had any allegiance to the conservative movement. His actions have always been those that were politically expedient. If he thought conservative principles would work for him, he'd use them. If they got in the way of his goals, he chucked them.
A ROOKIE drug dealer has been spared a jail sentence because of his fear of imprisonment.
Kym Sidney Tyrone O'Hara last week faced a 25-year prison term for selling $700 worth of ecstasy and methylamphetamine to friends at Port Lincoln in 2003 and 2004.
But Judge Barry Beazley said the "hard working and highly motivated" 22-year-old's "fear of imprisonment" and his sporting abilities would lead him to reassess his life.
If fear of prison is such a deterrent (and it should be), then shouldn't the judge want to amplify that fear, both in the current defendant and in every crook who hears about this case? By letting this guy off he is certainly not doing either. All he's done is told crooks that if they get caught, they should pretend to be really scared.
Joe Carter makes, what I think, is an unfair comparison between two speeches. First he quotes at length from from a speech President Bush made at the March for Life about his opposition to abortion and federal abortion funding. Then he says this about the State of Union address:
Of course, the answer is "The Audience." Joe seems to be implying (although I could be wrong) that there is some sort of inconsistency between the President making a big deal about his opposition to abortion at an anti-abortion event and not mentioning it at all in the State of the Union address.
I simply don't believe this is true. When addressing pro-life activists, there is no doubt that they want to hear the President's views on abortion. However, the purpose of the State of the Union is to:
... from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient ...
In the first speech Joe quotes, Bush makes three main points:
His opposition to abortion in general and his desire to "expand legal protection to every life, including early life."
His opposition to partial birth abortion.
His opposition to public funding for abortion.
Unfortunately, the President there are limits to how much the President can say in a speech and he has to prioritize. Like it or not, he obviously felt that there were other matters more important to the State of the Union than these. I personally don't like it, but I find nothing inconsistent between saying he holds these positions and not including them in the State of the Union. That's not entirely unreasonable since, as I understand it, the federal government does not currently provide funding for abortion and the chances of passing laws to expand legal rights to fetuses or ban partial birth abortions with the current Congress are nil.
I don't like it, but I don't believe the dichotomy Joe implies exists. Joe is usually ruthlessly logical, so I find this jump of reason strange on his part.
Washington - A former Congressman from US President George W Bush's Republican Party was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for accepting bribes in return for influencing legislation and providing other favours.
Despite Democratic claims to the contrary during the last election cycle, Congressional corruption is hardly a Republican only affair. Still, I have no problem with Ney being listed as a Republican. It's pretty typical to list current and former members of Congress by party affiliation. I have occasionally noticed that D's sometimes disappear from Democrats when they get in trouble, but that's another story.
I'm more interested in the totally gratuitous insertion of President Bush's name into this story. Why mention President Bush here? The only reason I can think of is to link him in the reader's mind to the corruption. I realize that this story was written for foreign readers so I suppose you might argue that they are reminding their readers who Republicans are, but that seems, at best, a pretense.
I was over at Right Wing News reading his post about how the Republican's have faced down the Democrats hypocrisy on the minimum wage by forcing them to include American Samoa. He finishes by saying:
If 40% of the work force in American Samoa does actually end up losing their jobs because of a minimum wage, that will be a terrible thing, but it will also be a concrete example of the sort of damage that liberal economy policies cause in people's lives.
I must admit that my first thought when hearing that Republicans had forced Samoa under the same roof was, "That will show them." After I thought about it a little, it occurred to me that if we're correct about the impact the minimum wage has on companies, it's virtually certain that a lot of people in Samoa will lose their jobs.
The rot, not surprisingly, has reached Hollywood. For example, in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas caved to the fashionable anti-absolutism that comes with Bush hatred by having a young Obi-Wan Kenobi proclaim, “Only a Sith lord deals in absolutes!” Translation: Only evil people see the world as black-and-white. This signaled that Lucas’s descent into hackery was complete, since it was Lucas himself who originally explained that the entire universe is divided into light and dark sides.
Longtime New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis captured the thought nicely a few years ago when he said that a primary lesson of his entire career was that “certainty is the enemy of decency and humanity in people who are sure they are right, like Osama bin Laden and John Ashcroft.”
Whenever I hear people say such things, I like to ask them, “Are you sure about that?” When they say yes, which they always do, I follow up by asking, “No, no: Are you really, really certain that certainty is bad?” At some point even the irony-deficient get the joke.
Goldberg goes on to explain that what these people really hate isn't certainty, but people who are certain of things they disagree with.
Via Instapundit, I hear that Frank Keating is thinking about running for President.
Having lived in Oklahoma through a good portion of Frank Keating's governship of Oklahoma, let me share my thoughts on this idea: Ain't going to happen. Let me share one of the many reasons. When this happened, (fourth story) my first thought was, "Now I know for sure Frank Keating will never be president."
(AP) — The president of the Oklahoma Education Association says a quip
Gov. Frank Keating made about a deadly way to deal with the teachers
Keating was asked by someone Monday night at Oral Roberts University
what he considered the best way to deal with an Oklahoma education
union, he paused and grinned and said ‘‘Homicide."
Former transportation secretary and San Jose mayor Norm Mineta will
join the likes of Ronald Reagan, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and
other well-known leaders Friday when President Bush bestows on him the
nation's highest civilian award.
At a White House ceremony, Mineta and nine other luminaries will
receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- an award to honor those
who have made an ``especially meritorious contribution'' to the
security or national interest of the United States, to world peace or
to other significant cultural endeavors.
According to a news release issued by the White House, Mineta
``worked to improve the security of our transportation system and
restore our confidence'' in air travel after the terrorist attacks of
Mineta, who presided over such idiocies as "random" searches of grandmas, infants, and nuns to avoid looking like we were profiling young arab men is getting a medal?
A company has found a way to turn liberal guilt directly into profit:
SAN FRANCISCO - Jill Cody used to feel guilty whenever she drove her
car or flew on an airplane. She worried about pumping heat-trapping
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
Francisco company called TerraPass to offset emissions from her car
and air travel by investing in wind power and reducing farm pollution.
"I'm part of the solution, not the problem," said Cody, who sports a
TerraPass decal on the decade-old Lexus she drives about 6,000 miles a
year. "Now I don't feel guilty when I drive my car."
And that's what it really comes down to. She feels guilty, however she doesn't want to change her behavior, so she'll pay someone else to change their behavior instead.
Much later in the story, I found this gem.
Backers say carbon offsets can help make people more conscious of
climate change — and show policymakers that Americans want the
government to take action to stop global warming. Experts say the
atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gases is leading to extreme weather,
melting snowcaps, species extinction and rising seas.
I really don't understand this part. How on earth do consumers tell the government that they want the government to do something by doing it themselves? Doesn't that do just the opposite: show that government action isn't needed because the market is taking care of things itself?
You know, we've got serious trouble brewing in Venezuela:
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's leftist President Hugo
Chavez on Sunday promised hundreds of thousands of supporters he would
win a resounding victory in his December 3 reelection bid he describes
as a challenge to Washington.
"We are confronting the devil, and we will hit a home run off
the devil next Sunday," said Chavez, who ruffled feathers in October by
calling President Bush the devil in remarks at the United Nations.
"On December 3 we're going to defeat the most powerful empire on earth by knockout," Chavez said.
That a South American President is campaigning using language that makes it sound like he's running for President of Iran should be scaring people. That it appears to be playing is seriously disturbing. That Chavez's rallies look like something out of the Castro play book may be the most disturbing by far:'
Donning red like most of his supporters, Chavez delivered a two-hour
speech marked by his signature combination of fiery leftist rhetoric
and crowd antics typical of pop music concerts.
He spent nearly
ten minutes trying to see which of four groups of demonstrators could
cheer louder -- then told them all to be quiet.
"Whoever talks first will turn into a donkey," he thundered, only to break into his unmistakable giggle.
I honestly haven't spent enough time and energy tracking what's going on down there to even pretend to know what the motivating factors are or how we could realistically diffuse this madness, but I sure hope someone's working on it. I have no idea if Chavez believes this garbage, but I have no doubt that some of his supporters do. And there's only one logical course of action if you believe the leader of a foreign country is the devil incarnate and it ain't good.
I'm finding it pretty hard to be optimistic about the next two years. The Republican party doesn't appear to have learned their lesson and the Democrats are busy reverting to their idiotic form:
Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after
turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means
Committee has his way.
Rep. Charles Rangel,
D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from
launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover
potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.
no question in my mind that this president and this administration
would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that
was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of
Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their
communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said.
Of course, the fact that Rangel is chairman of Ways and Means is disturbing enough. The fact that he's willing to trash our defense capabilities (the last few year have made it pretty clear that that a volunteer force is vastly superior to a drafted one) on the theory that the only reason politicians supported the war is that they're a bunch of selfish b******s who advancing selfish goals says a lot about him. It's apparently never occurred to him that maybe they thought they were doing the best thing for the country. If it had, he'd no that they'd be willing to do that even if the personal risks were greater.
Jonah Goldberg touches on some of the reasons the GOP was nuts to make Trent Lott Senate Minority Whip:
The boys and girls in the clubhouse seem to think that what happened to
Lott was unfair. “He apologized, and he paid a serious price for it,”
Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe said. Maybe so. But so what? It’s not about
him. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Lott is a bad face for the Republican
party. Period. Full stop. If that’s unfair to Trent, boo hoo for Trent.
Somebody buy him an ice-cream cone.
Besides, the idea that
fairness to Lott should supersede what’s good for the Republican party
is of a piece with precisely the sort of back-scratching, log-rolling
mentality that got the GOP in trouble in the first place. It bespeaks a
mind-set that says, “Well, Senator so-and-so voted for my pet project,
so in fairness to him, I’ll vote for his.” Nowhere does this
calculation figure in the good of the country.
Lott’s rehab is a nice story — for Lott. But it’s hard to see how it will have a happy ending for the rest of us.
Personally I was thrilled when Lott was booted from his leadership position. Not because of his ridiculous Strom Thurmond blow-up (it was bad, but overblown), but because he'd proven mostly incompetent. This was the man who foolishly worked out a compromise with Tom Daschle allowing equal committee memberships in the Senate when they had the votes to take over. Daschle repaid this kindness by convincing "Jumpin" Jim Jeffords to leave the Republican party and caucus with the Democrats as an independent only a few months later. Yeah, that worked out well.
Goldberg concedes that Lott would be good as Whip, but I am by no means convinced. He may do good at "whipping" up more pork, but that's about it.
The Classic Version
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his
house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks
he’s a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come
winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or
shelter so he dies out in the cold.
The Modern Version
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his
house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks
he’s a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and
demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed
while others are cold and starving. BBC, ITV and Sky show up to provide
pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to video of the ant in his
comfortable home with a table filled with food. Britain is stunned by
the sharp contrast. How can it be that, in a country of such wealth,
this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Republicans won their majority in 1994 by offering the American people
an idea, manifested with a promise. The idea was limited government.
The promise was the contract with America. They never got around to
fulfilling the promise. And when they gave up on the idea, the American
people gave up on them.
This is really no surprise. The fact that many of the Porkbusters prime targets were Republicans and that Ted Stevens put one of the "secret holds" on the earmark transparency legislation should have been a big tip-off. I'm a registered Republican, but I have no real loyalty to them. I have a loyalty to Christian and Conservative ideas and the protection of our country. The Republican party has pretty well abandoned Conservatism, plays lip service to Christian ethics, and has proven to have poor follow-through on security the last few years.. I'd gladly trade them for anyone else, if there was anyone else to be had.
Nothing against Guatemala; as banana republics go, I suppose it's
better than Venezuela, ruled as it is by the commie thug Chavez. But
the real issue is that the Security Council is no place for affirmative
action. It is supposed to be about preventing wars and nuclear
proliferation and such. Oh, North Korea? And Iran? And India and
The whole mess, a 15-member Security Council, which
spends a lot of time jawing, should remind us as to why the United
Nations is a time whose idea is long past. Time to pull the plug at
Turtle Bay; perhaps turn those nice big buildings into affordable
Jonathan Adler has an interesting post on why he chose to specialize in environmental law:
On the other hand, because environmental concerns are ubiquitous,
environmental law itself can pose a serious threat to individual
liberty. Today, environmental protection is probably the only
intellectually respectable basis for urging policies that amount to
central planning. As I see it, the stakes are enormous on both sides,
making this a challenging and important field, and one that is worth
far more serious attention from those who generally prefer limited
I agree that those who value limited government and personal liberty eschew the field of environmental law at their own peril. Like it or not, this is where the fights are being waged and if we refuse to engage in the fight we cannot be heard.
Then he says something that always irks me:
For those who are curious, I caught the trout on a fly rod using flies
with pinched barbs, and all fish were returned to the river properly so
as to ensure their survival. I don't fish for trout any other way.
Well I do. Of course he doesn't elaborate on why he doesn't fish any other way, but most of the people I've come across who make a big deal about catch-and-release do so because they think they're being good to the fish or because it's better for the environment. The latter argument is kinda hard to deal with one way or the other, but the former I find to be just awful.
It's hard to imagine something more tramatic for a fish than being hooked through the mouth, jerked around, and yanked out of the water on a line and then having the hook pulled out of the mouth. I just can't morally justify this action unless my intent is to eat the fish. Performing these actions purely as a means of entertainment is unfathomable to me.
Again, I have no idea what Adler's specific motives are, but his statement reminded me of something that always rubs me raw.