Here's one for you…

…from the PRC
I just read this on Washpost: China Releases 3 Internet Writers, but Convicts 1 Other.

The story begins:
BEIJING, Nov. 30 -- China released three Internet essayists who were detained a year ago for criticizing the government, including a college student in Beijing whose arrest on subversion charges had attracted international attention, a human rights group based in Hong Kong reported Sunday.
The story dwells on Liu Di, a.k.a. "Stainless Steel Mouse," because she was evidently hip to the counter culture thaang. She was mercifully released.
The same day, a court convicted a fourth writer charged in the case, Jiang Lijun, of subversion and sentenced him to four years in prison, his lawyer said.
The story says nothing else about this Jiang. It hypes Liu.


I was asked to and I joined Bloggers for Iran, another repressive state, so there we'll be watching that theocratic lockbox.

UPDATE: I found THIS on Jiang. He's evidently an associate of Steel Mouse, but he was convicted but the mass appeal of the West freed Liu. I'm happy for her, but I don't like the idea of Jiang spending four years in the Lao Gai.

Democrat Arrogance Keeps Bush off Ballot

I had not heard this mentioned in a while, and I had assumed the problem had been solved. This evening, I found THIS POST from Left Coast Conservative, and he links a Thomas Roeser column in the Chicago Sun Times letting us know that the problem is still extant.

State law in Illinois requires that the ballots be certified the August before an election. The Republicans will not have their convention, thus won't have an official nominee, until September. This means, all things staying the same, the GOP candidate for President of the United States will not be on the November ballot in Illinois. This despite the fact that the Republican candidate for President of the United States will be the President of the United States. (Unless either John Anderson or John McCain tries to pull something.)

Roeser concludes:
Nobody asked me, but I say there should be no compromise: no give on the fines, no give on already-lenient election law. Let the unsurpassed arrogance of power stand. It will carry a backlash. Which means that those who so eagerly will do anything to color Illinois Democrat-blue for president, may confront a voter rebellion brimming with disgust. If Bush has to fight for Illinois on a write-in with one hand tied behind his back, he just could win. TV screens on Nov. 2, 2004, could show Illinois swabbed in Republican red -- to match the burning embarrassment on Democrats' faces.


Who is Afraid of Howard Dean?

The Dems are, granted, but the Republicans are not. At least we shouldn't be.

The Washpost's Dana Milibank relates in today's paper [story] that the RNC has pointed out that Dean is second in all national polls, to no one in particular.

A CBS poll earlier this month showed OTHER leading Dean, 15-percent to 14-percent. Granted, that's doubtlessly within the poll's margin of error, but OTHER is still the nominal frontrunner. Or do I speak to quickly? As Milibank wrote:
The RNC also pointed to a Fox News poll finding Mr. Not Sure with a 4-percentage-point lead over Dean, a Los Angeles Times poll showing Mr. Don't Know at 37 percent, more than tripling Dean's 12 percent, and a CNN/Time poll putting Mr. Not Sure/Other's support at 32 percent to Dean's 14 percent.
To Milibank, it's a goofy joke, but to a serious political observer, it is a clear indication that it's naïve to declare Howard Dean the Democrat nominee. And, clinging to my original thesis, it's too early to count out candidate John Edwards.

The piece was light in nature and a fun read, though. Here's another, this about the deranged general:
Let's hope Wesley K. Clark comes up with a program for national dental care. The retired general's forces report giving out more than 15,000 Clark bars in the past 10 days. Meanwhile, Clark, who has had his share of Thanksgivings with the troops, spent the holiday in Little Rock as the guest of Peter Stevenson, identified by the campaign as a descendant of Pocahontas.
I tried Googling Mr. Stevenson using a myriad of appropriate search terms, and the closest I got was the following, from the January 17, 2002 online edition of the "Jewish tabloid" USAJewish.com:
A SCOT has been jailed for a year on terrorist charges in the United Arab Emirates after telling an air hostess her airline "needed a bomb put under it to wake it up". Peter Stevenson, 49, a businessman living in Kuwait, was found guilty in a Dubai court of threatening to blow up a Cathay Pacific plane while drunk.
The online tabloid references the London Daily Telegraph. This Peter Stevenson is evidently from Scotland and thus is not likely the descendent of a Native American princess.

Oh, well.

Historians as Political Commentators

On CBS' Face the Nation this morning, host Bob Schieffer had as guests three historians to "look at the President."
Robert Dallek, author, "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963"; David Maraniss, author, "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America, October 1967"; Garry Wills, author, "Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power."
The show was really awful, and it was not related to history. These three leftist historians were on the show to berate a current President and his ongoing Administration, as if they could provide some special insight which a standard journalist could not. Journalists at least cover the present.

Schieffer declared that the "country is more divided than ever," and he blamed President Bush: you either love him or you hate him. Wasn't this the case with Clinton?

Marannis said that the President's trip to Baghdad was something he needed, because the visit to the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln "blew up in his face." The speech, however, was not a success only to that same small segment of the population who did not want him to land on the aircraft carrier and tell the troops that they had accomplished their mission, liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein. These people seethed from the time the visit was announced.

Schieffer interjected of the Baghdad Thanksgiving Day visit: "I think it was a very important thing."

Gary Wills opined that the President blew a tremendous opportunity, after 9-11, to unite the world in the struggle against terrorism, to make it a global effort instead of a unilateral one. The truth is that it has been a global effort since day one, with President Bush uniting the world in the fight against terrorism. Countries throughout the world, from France to the Yemen, are actively involved in this.

Wills complained that the President could have made the world see that the war on terror was not one between the terrorists and the United States, but rather the terrorists against the entire world. Mr. Wills, I fear, has been living in a cave. The civilized world knows that the terrorists are at war with the civilized world. The terrorists are attacking everywhere, they are being rounded up everywhere, they are being investigated everywhere, they are being tried everywhere -- and they are being stopped everywhere.

Dallek agreed with Wills' statement: "It's wise. It's on the mark."

These buffoons obviously pay no attention to the world around them, and Schieffer did not do his job and at least question Wills' venomous and boneheaded statement. (I'd call it an outright lie, but I am giving Wills the benefit of the doubt of being clueless.)

Schieffer asked: "Is this Vietnam?"

All historians agreed: only in that "the government is manipulating the truth." The only thing I see the government doing, however, is reporting the actual progress which is being made in Iraq. Not dwelling solely on the negative is not a form of manipulation of the truth.

These people, including the host, live in their self-made box.

Example. Schieffer talked about Bush's poll numbers then said: "yet nobody seems that happy… well, many people don't seem that happy with the Bush Administration." He said nobody seemed happy, and that is what he meant to say. And he was correct. Nobody in their box is happy with the Bush Administration. Outside the box, he's doing fine.

Gary Wills was not finished. He advertises himself as an objective historian, but he the Left's prime Historian of Propaganda and Enlightenment. (I am not in any way equating the American Left with the German National Socialists. I am comparing only the use of lies to make a case.)

Wills accused the Bush Administration of "ravaging the environment" and of "giving in to the pharmaceutical companies" and to the oil companies. Dallek agreed that the President this Administration set a new historical standard for being "in the pocket of business."

Finally, Wills blames Ralph Nader. You see, he asserted, had Nader stayed out of the race in 2000, Al Gore would have won even more convincingly and we would not have a Bush Administration. (He disregards the electoral college. Not sure where that ranks him amongst the best-selling historians.) He stammered that we have "the Nader War, the Nader Justice Department, and the Nader Patriot Act."

This was really amateur, name-calling stuff, led by Wills and backed with the "me-toos" of Dallek. Marranis stayed out of it.

I've been covering the Sunday Morning shows in the Rightsided Newsletter for five years, and this is much a cross between the banal and the vicious as I can recall. It's difficult even to laugh.

At least those inside the box agree with each other, independent of any semblance of an honest answer.


It made it...

This afternoon's Rightsided Newsletter, the review of the Sunday shows, has been delivered to Inboxes across the nation and the world, and if you do not yet subscribe but want to read it. it can be found RIGHT HERE. (You can subscribe elsewhere on the site; just click on return at the bottom of the newsletter).

I mentioned Lieberman's support for the President's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, but I neglected to repeat what Wes Clark said on CNN's Late Edition: "I think it was absolutely the right thing fgor the commander in chief to do." He spoke of the import of such things, especially on a holiday, but how it does not make up for blah, blah, yack.

Later in this space, I will discuss this morning's Face the Nation, on which three best-selling "historians" and host Bob Schieffer had at the Bush Administration. It was not pleasant, and it probably should not have aired if CBS wanted to pretend to any sort of objectivity.

The Sunday Talk Shows

"If it's Sunday…"

The lineup on CBS's Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer> gives me a queasy feeling. I fear they're doing another JFK retrospective, which would be unfortunate, but Schieffer might also try to put the President's Baghdad jaunt into historical perspective. His guest will be Robert Dallek, the author, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963; David Maraniss, the author of They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America, October 1967; and author Garry Wills of Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power. It's not time to put Iraq into any sort of final context, as it is not finished, so God help us if they do.

"If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press." That's their line.... I saw host Tim Russert praise Tom Brokaw at some taped event on C-SPAN at about midnight lat night, so I don't know. … Russert will talk to Mike Allen of the Washpost, one of the reporters who went to Baghdad with the President. He'll also talk to Doris Kearns Goodwin, whom they insist on calling a "Presidential historian" -- instead of a plagiarist. He's got his usual roundtable stooges: Dana Priest, Robin Wright, and Bill Safire.

Steph's guests on ABC's This Week include the Mullah of the Moderates, Senator John Breaux (D-Louisiana), and Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. This discussion will not doubt be the Medicare Reform Act, as Breaux helped write it -- from his position as Sultan of the Centrists -- and Lott voted agin it after being pressured into voting for cloture. Steph also talks to candidates Kucinich, Sharpton, and Mosley Braun, lumping the three who poll below Edwards, getting them over with in one motion.

CNN's Late Edition with Wolfgang Blitzer promises to be painful. Sure, he talks to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar (R-Indiana). He also talks to candidate Wes Clark and former candidate Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida). Lugar was a Presidential candidate in 1996, so perhaps it's time for the band to strike up the Theme from Barney the Purple Dinosaur.

On Fox News Sunday, we're promised Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and candidate Joe Lieberman. I can't see the point.

But I will review and analyze these shows and their guests for this afternoon's free Rightsided Newsletter. You can subscribe by visiting the web site or by sending a blank e-mail to rsn-subscribe {AT} topica.com.




Bush in Baghdad: Pakistani Coverage

Some amusing stuff from a Pakistani web site called The Daily Times. Their motto is: "Your right to know. A new voice for a new Pakistan." They have the same military dictator calling himself a President and remain the new hideout for Osama bin Laden, but they really dig their new press, I assume, which they are consciously modeling after the New York Times.

Try this one: Bush in Baghdad compared with Bob Hope. It quotes from five letters-to-the-editor in Saturday's Times, and all were negative.

The letter referenced in the headline was quoted thusly:
David Angel of California writes, “Bravo to the president and our brave armed forces for facing the ‘thugs and assassins.’ If only he and they were more focused on facing terrorists. In the administration’s pursuit of whatever lofty goal was accomplished by visiting Iraq Bob Hope-style, I wonder if any thought was given to the rationale for this war effort. Eradicate the terrorists; everything else is window-dressing.”
The Pakistani piece concludes:
However, some of the correspondents, though in a minority, praise the President for his gesture and the courage and concern it shows for the American fighting soldier.
Naturally. It was an anti-American, anti-President Bush paper. What's the Daily Star's excuse?

Since it would not be objective to report on the letters to the Times without posting the positive letters as well, though that is exactly what the Pakistani site did, here are the letters they did note include.

From Atul M. Karnik of Queens:
Politics apart, President Bush's gesture of braving security risks to visit troops in Iraq highlighted the Thanksgiving Day spirit. Our women and men in uniform put their lives at stake so that we may enjoy the privileges of a safe and free society. Mr. Bush, on this ultrasecretive and historic mission, has conveyed the American people's feelings of deep gratitude for the soldiers' valor and sacrifice in upholding our cherished ideals of liberty, justice and equality for one and all.
From Herbert W. Stark of Messapequa:
I've had many disagreements with President Bush and his administration's policies and consider him a member of the Republican right wing. But he did the right thing by displaying extraordinary courage in visiting our brave servicemen and servicewomen in Baghdad.
The last one was positive with an asterisk.

My wife told me this afternoon: "It doesn't matter what we think. He didn't do it for us."

If you want to know what the Sunday Morning talking heads said about it, I review the Sunday Morning Talk Shows every Sunday in the free Rightsided Newsletter. It should be out early Sunday afternoon. To subscribe, just visit the web site or send a black e-mail to rsn-subscribe {AT} topica.com. I'll then visit your Inbox after the shows.


Internet Sales Tax

I just got back from the HobbsOnline A.M. blog, where there is an "Interesting" post about Internet Christmas sales. It seems that they're forecast to be about $291 per person in Nashville, or about half the average budget. And many people say they shop on the Internet because there is no sales tax.

The argument on the blog is that because Internet sales are interstate commerce, they cannot be taxed by the State of Tennessee. The customer is on a machine in one State, while the "store" is another machine in, probably, another State.

Not so loud! Congress can implement a tax -- the moratorium has expired -- and deliver a portion of the collected revenue to the States as block grants with all the federal strings. Imagine all the nifty social programs Congress could fund with their share of the stash.

Keep all governments away from the 'net.

He also has a post from last Wednesday about Allah and the Judeo-Christian God. He thinks they are not the same. As I've said, I do not either, and the reason is not at all complex. Judaism and Christianity are messianic religions -- Judaism promising a messiah, and Christianity being based on the Messiah who has already come as Jesus Christ. There is no messiah, promised or present, in Islam. Mohammed did not arrive to redeem anyone or to create a covenant. Moslems believe that Mohammed was a Prophet of Allah, speaking words from Allah.

I'm putting this blog in my blogroll.


Congressional Black Caucus

AP reports that the CBC will no longer focus on blacks-only issues; rather, they will concentrate on general liberal issues. Why? According to the article:
Largely due to redistricting, some blacks are now elected from majority-white suburbs, Southern farmlands or thriving business hubs, forcing the caucus to refocus its mission. The agenda is still shaped by the liberal causes of urban black American, but no longer is limited to them.
So they are conceding that blacks no longer need them to speak for blacks. Mission accomplished, good work CBC. There quest is at an end.

Nope. They're sticking around as a blacks-only outfit to push the same liberalism as white liberals, specific to no one. Yet they are exclusive

Representative Gregory Meeks (D-New York) explains, "It [Congressional Black Caucus] is a name-brand in Congress that's as good as Coca-Cola."

The Congressional Black Caucus should now disband, but the power is keeping them on long after their purpose has admittedly been served.

This puts them at odds, however, with other black leaders, like the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who is still inventing dreams from the Reverend Martin Luther King, things Dr. King was going to do when he achieved his goals.

HERE is a list of the lot of them.


Hillary Does Baghdad

The New York Times' Ian Fisher trumpets it this morning under the headline: Yesterday, Hail to the Chief; Today, Hail to the Senator. "Hail to the Senator"? Is that a song? Did anyone hail Hillary, or did her icy presence bring the hail and sleet by itself?

To read all but the fine print, Hillary flew triumphantly into Baghdad Friday to tell the troops how appreciated they were. Fisher compared her visit favorably with that of the President and stressed her opinions on transfer of power, etc.

He mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed -- the State's REAL Democrat Senator -- was with Clinton in Iraq.

He wrote that the Iraqis didn't really care about the visits, but he equated the President's visit with Hillary's when he said that most American soldiers "seemed buoyed by the visits." Bouncing in the water? What is he writing?

He wrote that some Iraqis were still complaining that President Bush had not taken the time to meet with them, but he concluded that it was not safe for the President to do so. The final paragraph:
Since Mr. Bush declared major combat over on May 1, 184 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, according to the military's Central Command in Florida.
"Major combat operations," Mr. Fisher. The President said that "major combat operations" were over. No more drives north, no more encircling Baghdad, no more seizing bridges.

And she's not running for President. (If she were, the Dems would have to concoct a "Stop Hillary" movement much in the way that they're evidently discussing a "Stop Howie" one. She could not win the general election.)


The State of the Democrat Party

The Democrat Party has been leaderless since before President Bill Clinton was impeached. Yes, Clinton stayed on as titular head for a few years, but he did nothing to lead them. After he left office with half the contents of the White House broom closets in two, the party spat him out. He has been one of the hangers-on, paid occasionally enthusiastic lip service but privately wished-away by those with a future for the party in mind.

As it stands now, the Democrat Party is led by a loose coalition of interest groups and loose-shooting money men. The abortion lobby and their ilk tell the Democrats to block judicial nominations, enviro-interests tell them to block energy legislation, the Bush-haters tell them to block all and sundry.

The party has no leader. DNC Chairman Terence McAuliffe stays on because there is no one to toss him out and no one to take his place.

The Washington Times ran a Donald Lambro piece this morning -- Dean raises party's anxiety disclosing that some in the Democrat Party are concerned that Howie Dean, with his loud-mouthed anti-war rhetoric -- might actually win their party's nomination. He talked to former Clinton lackey Leon Panetta:
"There is concern about how does [Dean´s antiwar campaign] play out a year from now? How can you compete with President Bush on the national security front? There is some concern about whether Dean can rise to the occasion on this issue," Mr. Panetta said.

"This country wants to know that whoever is elected president understands the importance of protecting our national security. While there may be one path to winning the nomination, it's a very different path to winning the presidency," he said.
However, the path to the nomination leads through the same areas of the country, often in open-primary, where national security is a concern. That's partly why I have held that Dean will not win even his party's nomination.

Lambro also writes:
Many party insiders believe that Mr. Clinton encouraged retired Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas to enter the race in an effort to stop the more liberal Mr. Dean from winning the Democratic presidential nomination and to maintain his own de facto control over the party's political apparatus to help his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, run for president in 2008.
This is dreamworld stuff. Clinton is not the de facto head of the Democrat Party. He could be considered to be so de jure, as the last elected president of the party who is not out building houses, but he has no control.

Anyway, Lambro continues with a Gephardt staffer talking about a potential Stop-Dean movement in the party:
"There's plenty of talk about Dean being the front-runner among Democrats who want to make sure the nominee is someone who can run in every area of the country, and people are not sure if Dean fits that bill," said Jim Demers, a Gephardt campaign strategist.

"We have seen all of the candidates ratcheting up their attacks on Dean and I think that is going to get more intensive as we get closer to the primary elections," Mr. Demers said.

"We have to stop the front-runner, so [anti-Dean TV attack ads] would certainly play into that scenario," he added.
Basically, that's: "We're going to attack him anyway."

But there's also this:
"Thus far, there is no organized stop-Dean movement, though people talked about it privately" at last week's Democratic debate in Iowa, said an adviser to another presidential candidate, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "But the fact that there has been so much talk about it speaks to a growing pause and concern in the Democratic electorate."
Who is to initiate this "Stop Dean" movement within the Democrat Party? The interests who for all intents and purposes run the party's legislative wing might just support Dean's liberalism. McAuliffe at the DNC cannot, and there is the question of who would listen to him if he did.

This will take an agreement between the campaigns of the other frontrunners if it is to be organized. Certainly Al Gore could instigate this, giving him the elder party statesman role he is said to so crave.

In all actuality, they don't need to do a thing. Dean might hang-on to his race until the convention, but he is not going to win the nomination. And whomever does is not going to win the general election. There is no compelling reason for Americans to jettison their captain with the ship engaged in battle.


The President in Baghdad, III

Good morning. It seems Washpost staff writer Mike Allen -- With Iraq Trip, an Afterglow, but Uncertain Aftermath -- has tried to analyze the President's Thanksgiving troop visit, and he's done so not in a section labeled "OPINION AND ANALYSIS." He does this by attributing notions to unseen strategists and political officials, but at least he identifies having spoken to former Gore girl Dona Brazile.

Allen attributes this to strategists:
The trip triggered a debate over whether Bush's short-term image-polishing might help secure long-term popularity. Strategists in both parties said that by confining his visit to the friendly military setting, Bush avoided criticisms that might have followed a trip featuring high-profile visits with Iraqi officials or reconstruction sites. They said the president may have won a political reprieve at a time when Americans are showing increasing skepticism about the U.S. occupation of Iraq and strategies for ending.
He made a point about a debate over whether a short term boost will help the President's longer term image, but then he drops the thought. If the debate has been triggered, what are the two sides saying? I want to know what these strategists from both parties think about this long term/short term dichotomy.

Not really.

Was it the talk of the table on Thanksgiving? I had to bring it up well into the meal at my father's house, and most of them had heard. No big deal. (I'm a student of politics not because of my upbringing.) The sentiment at the table was just how good the bird was. Father had thrown it in the oven at some low temperature at an ungodly hour in the AM, and the Turkey was a testament to tenderness.

Bottom line: it put the President on the ground with the troops in Iraq on a holiday. President Bush is not a disengaged and impersonal President, who sends the enemy a few long-range missiles and leaves to play golf. It's an important image to project, especially for the longer term, because it is not a per se image being projected. It was President George W. Bush being President George W. Bush.

One thing strikes me, if I may digress. Unlike a past president, who looked awkward and unsettled in military gear, this President appears natural and comfortable. People who know him will tell you that this is natural, and it would almost have to be.

But here is Mr. Allen's "debate amongst strategists of both parties":
The 33-hour foray carried political as well as logistical risks, however. Bush's aides engaged in temporary secrecy and deception about his whereabouts, and Democrats said it might make it easier to portray his administration as driven by visual images. Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist who managed Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000, said the journey is likely to temporarily enhance the administration's image as "the most scripted, most disciplined White House in the history of America," but could haunt Bush in the long run.
Failed Democrat strategist Brazile offered the Dem side and Allen concocted the counterpoint in his head and built his "debate" on sand.

For the visit to be a mere image for the masses -- like Clinton forming the cross of rocks on the beach at Normandy -- a few holes would have had to have been plugged. He would get the image from the press, and it was unwise to leave many in the press grumbling at their exclusion of he wanted this to be a show. And since some of his remarks were directed to the Iraqi people, should he not have had a few representatives there? Be as inclusive as possible. Part of his rap is "unilateralist." He should have taken along a U.N. representative to share in the show as a sign that they were involved too, that the U.N. cared a lot.

This from today's Hartford Courant:
Normally, Bush's nine major challengers have instant biting responses to everything he says and does. This time, reaction from the candidates, if it came at all, was restrained, full of warm words for the president's gesture, despite the reminders that the war's aftermath has been costly and messy.
Actually, the words were not warm and the downside of the situation was stressed, but the Dems' Buzzflash crowd -- those loyal Dems uneducated in politics but eager to help out on their own initiative -- were spewing apace. (The name of Karl Rove is being invoked often, but as I'd said, this one was too good for Karl.)




"Bring 'Em On."

The left, from the candidates to the pundits, are not looking at President Bush's Thanksgiving with the troops in Baghdad as the act of a leader and a commander in chief. The one act which I think defines the Bush Presidency in microcosm is being treated by the left as a sideshow and a distraction.

Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush, a man with one of the best pair of eyes in the blogosphere, has put together a review liberal reaction to the trip: The Troops Praise Bush, Liberals Bash Him.

And be sure to subscribe to the free Rightsided Newsletter for a review of what is said on the Sunday shows. Russert's already got them lined up for Sunday's Meet the Press:
Mike Allen of The Washington Post and the pool reporter on the President's trip to Baghdad, Iraq; David Broder of The Washington Post; Doris Kearns Goodwin, Presidential Historian; Katty Kay of the British Broadcasting Company; Dana Priest of The Washington Post; William Safire of The New York Times, and Robin Wright of The Washington Post will appear on this Sunday's "Meet the Press with Tim Russert."
(To subscribe to the RSN, visit the web site or send a blank e-mail to rsn-subscribe [AT] topica.com.)


Sour Grapes from CNN

According to a brief story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN folks have their bowels in an uproar because FNC was taken on the President's trip to Iraq and they were told to go home, that was no more news.
"We're all for the president boosting the troops however the White House feels is appropriate," she said, according to the newspaper [Washpost]. "But apparently the White House put together its own group of people to accompany the president on this trip, and we're real interested to learn their reasons for doing that."
The Washpost's Howard Kurtz reveals that the New York Times was also outraged:
But Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that "in this day and age, there should have been a way to take more reporters. People are perfectly capable of maintaining a confidence for security reasons. It's a bad precedent." Once White House officials "decided to do a stealth trip, they bought into a whole series of things that are questionable."
Cry me a river, etc.


Good job, Pervez

We have this from the AP: Clinton Praises Pakistan in Terror Fight:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (news - web sites) praised Pakistan's role in the war on terror during a meeting with Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the state-run news agency reported Friday.
The next time you hear Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton snipe at the President "failing to capture bin Laden," remember that our intelligence says he is holed up in the mountains in Pakistan.

When Senator Clinton compliments a world leader, it is prima facie irrelevant. It is covered by the Associated Press because she is a media celebrity, not someone of more import than Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island). I wonder what Senator Reed, with Clinton in Pakistan, said of Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf.

Sex and the San Francisco Mayoral Race

The San Francisco Chronicle today tells us about their upcoming runoff election for the position of mayor. This will determine who succeeds the current mayor, former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

The candidates are Matt Gonzalez, 38, and Gavin Newsom, 36, so they will be trading an aging mayor for a much younger one. But here's where we have to get into the intricacies of San Francisco politics. The Chronicle puts it this way:
And then there's the fact that both are major hotties.

Whatever their positions on the issues, Newsom and Gonzalez have put sex appeal back into local politics.
For issues, the paper calls Newsom "politically moderate," while another San Francisco paper has dubbed Gonzales: "the Socialist Stud."

The chick who wrote the Chronicle piece, Jane Gandahal, describes Newsom as "Tom Cruise" and Gonzalez as "Al Pacino," then discusses men she has dated who resemble them. And the opinions of other women about the candidates:
It was also true, they noted, that these two types fit better into two scenarios: Type A being a Serious Relationship Candidate, and Type B being someone with whom you could perhaps have An Affair to Remember.
Sorry, girls, but I'm not running.

This, I think we're required to assume, is political reporting.


Blix Trix

Good morning. In a story I found posted at 3:43 this morning, Reuters tells us that Blix Says Hopes U.S. Learned a Lesson in Iraq. Speaking to the Belgian daily De Morgen ["The Morning"], the man we referred to as "Mr. McGoo" spat:
"The United States is on the ground, they can't leave now. But...they don't have much experience in reconstructing a country,'' said Blix, the former Swedish foreign minister who for 16 years headed the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"They will need the United Nations a great deal. I hope the Americans have learned their lesson and recognize the need for cooperation."
It seems Hans is more myopic than we thought. The United Nations has very little "experience in reconstructing a country," while the United States "reconstructed" a continent. And Japan.
Blix is putting together and heading a new commission against weapons of mass destruction, paid for by Sweden and supported by international think-thanks.
That's one way to prevent crazed dictators from developing and using WMD: open a Swedish commission. Does Sweden have Security Council approval for this little Blix commission of hers?




Tracking Down Hillary

On FNC early this afternoon, Newsweek's latex-snipe Eleanor Clift stated that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) was also in Iraq. My first thought was: "You know, that's a lot of Secret Service in a war zone." (The President has his, and the former first lady has hers. So does Chelsea, but one assume she stayed home baking cookies.)

Hillary was a Kabul. The Reuters story contained the inevitable:
The former first lady, who has ruled out running in next year's U.S. presidential campaign but held out the possibility of doing so in 2008, stopped in Kabul to meet U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai before heading to the U.S. military headquarters at Bagram to the north of Kabul.
The press is obsessed, as if that answer mattered.

Senator Clinton will not enter the race in 2004. I think she and Bill might like to give it a go in 2008, perhaps, and thus they would prefer a throwaway, like a Kerry or a Dean, next year. That would guarantee them an open White House for her in 2008.

I doubt she'll run in 2008, though I doubt she probably cannot admit as much now.

Anyway, Hillary was in Afghanistan with Senator Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat. She was convinced that we would win and that we should stay the course. She also second-guessed the military commanders in Afghanistan: "I believe we need more troops. I don't think we have an adequate number of troops to do what needs to be done."


The President in Baghdad

I was listening to Poulenc, writing fiction, when my wife walked in the room and told me that the President was in Baghdad. It's a singular thing to be snapped from a universe of your own creation to the real world in an instant with word that something instantly identifiable as wonderful has happened.

My first thought was: "God, that man is incredible!" My next thought, naturally, was to blog it, throwing whatever sundry thoughts I had onto the web.

I watched Fox News Channel, and there was Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, whom I called a "latex-snipe" in a Rightsided Newsletter special which went out earlier, declared that the Democrats would not accuse the President of making the trip for political reasons until he started using it in political commercials.

What kind of doltish campaign team would not use footage of their candidate doing his job so perfectly? Clift knows this. It was rewarding, though, to see how much she hated that this had happened. Wasn't he supposed to stay home and say "nucular"? Like latex, she coagulates when exposed to air.

Clift later snidely complimented the "James Bond" manner in which the trip was carried out.

What are they going to say?

Let's first look at Saddam Hussein and his retrograde Ba'athist dead-enders. There was the President of the United States of America jetting into his airport to speak to his troops. It's over, Saddam. If his handlers told him about the President's visit, how did they do so? Remember, the news they give him is what we heard from Baghdad Bob for a few weeks last April. What does Saddam think of his chances for chasing American troops from Baghdad?

Let's look at the remnants of al Qaeda, who boasted that they kept the U.S. President in a box, away from his troops. Big, tough, strong al Qaeda cannot keep their own diapers dry.

Let's look at noisy people from candidate John Edwards to Sunday talking head Bob Schieffer, who rant that Baghdad is unsafe for our troops. The President of the United States flew into the middle of their "quagmire."

Politically, this was too good for Karl Rove. This was the President, probably telling his people that he wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner with the troops. I assume their were some Administration nay-sayers -- there always are -- who didn't see the perfection of this simple but complex gesture. It works.

How can you crassly accuse a man of using the troops for political purposes when his visit was the perfect sign of support for those troops?

I know. I have to think like the Dems: INTERNATIONALIZE IT! They could say that it was a good thing the President did, but that he should have taken Kofi Annan.

Here is a link to Drudge Report, wherein is listed what happened when during the President's trip to Iraq. It's good stuff! HOW IT ALL WENT DOWN: DETAILED REPORT OF BUSH'S SECRET TRIP

The President in Iraq

This morning, Air Force One -- this one probably a C-17 -- landed at Baghdad International Airport. We thought he'd be spending his Thanksgiving safely with his family at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, but the President of the United States flew into a war zone to spend a few hours with the troops.

On a purely political level, I had commented that this group could not come up with something dramatic as "President Bartlett" (West Wing) marching to the Speakers office to quibble about a government shut down. This is beautiful. The West Wing character did not walk to Capitol Hill for political reasons, and it seems President Bush wanted to travel to Iraq to see the troops. On Thanksgiving.

Now, he did not take his usual pool of reporters -- those assigned to cover him -- along to Iraq, as their absence from Crawford would have made it all too obvious; instead, he took some Washington-based reporters

He had to have made this call himself, against the "best advice" of various advisors. To me, it's the difference between an administrator and a leader, and President Bush is a leader.

I have to eat. More on this as it sinks in.


In Defense of Medicare Reform

In defense of Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003, recently passed, it is that it takes an issue from the Dems and helps in the President's reelection effort. I asked Dr. Christina Jeffrey, the former House historian, if she agreed.
Yes, it will because it overcomes the biggest criticism which the Dems have, to wit, their ad hominem attack that Republicans don't care. Newt made that his big effort; Pat Buchanan too. The Dems have so lowered the tone of politics that it's just a food fight. Dems call us names, and we try to prove we aren't: nazis, klansmen, baby haters, and exterminators of old people. This is all to take the attention away from the fact that we have all the answers and they have none! (And they are baby killers to boot!)
There it is, perfectly.

The Dems have nothing but name calling and obstruction. And fear. But Christina points out that there are other ways with which we cold deal with the Democrats, "if we had better leadership in the Republican Party--especially men and women more skilled in the ancient art of rhetoric. … Where is Cincinnatus when we need him?"

(Perhaps we should ask Senator Byrd. He knows the whereabouts of every Roman dictator and statesman, and he regales the C-SPAN2 audience with such tales at every opportunity.)

In another e-mail, Christina concludes:
Bottom line, it takes two to play the Dems game. The Republican excuse, "we don't have the media" is wearing thin--we have enough media if they would say and do what needs to be done, instead of always playing the Democrats' game.
Well, it takes only 40 to block cloture. Next year -- an election one -- is going to be difficult. It's time for the GOP to get an idea. And a plan. And act.


Happy Thanksgiving to You

Every day should be a personal day of thanksgiving, but on this national day, we can be proud as a nation. Some people do not want to hear this, spending their time criticizing how unfair, how cruel, how arrogant, and how… well, unilateralist we were.

As a nation, we have been blessed by what our forefathers have given us on which to build a nation: our Constitution, our system of governance, and our faith. They are by far the most excellent in the history of the world, never mind what George Soros and Howard Dean claim. They have another agenda, and achieving it requires attempts to tear down and to denigrate. Be thankful for Soros and Howie, as well. They are a reminder of what we do not have to be.

Here is President George W. Bush's Thanksgiving Day proclamation. Be thankful that we have the right man in the right office at the right time in our nation's history. And thank God for the United States of America.
President's Thanksgiving Message

Proclamation by the President: Thanksgiving Day, 2003

Each year on Thanksgiving, we gather with family and friends to thank God for the many blessings He has given us, and we ask God to continue to guide and watch over our country.
Almost 400 years ago, after surviving their first winter at Plymouth, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to give thanks. George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War. Since that time, our citizens have paused to express thanks for the bounty of blessings we enjoy and to spend time with family and friends. In want or in plenty, in times of challenge or times of calm, we always have reasons to be thankful.

America is a land of abundance, prosperity, and hope. We must never take for granted the things that make our country great: a firm foundation of freedom, justice, and equality; a belief in democracy and the rule of law; and our fundamental rights to gather, speak, and worship freely.
These liberties do not come without cost. Throughout history, many have sacrificed to preserve our freedoms and to defend peace around the world. Today, the brave men and women of our military continue this noble tradition. These heroes and their loved ones have the gratitude of our Nation.

On this day, we also remember those less fortunate among us. They are our neighbors and our fellow citizens, and we are committed to reaching out to them and to all of those in need in our communities.

This Thanksgiving, we again give thanks for all of our blessings and for the freedoms we enjoy every day. Our Founders thanked the Almighty and humbly sought His wisdom and blessing. May we always live by that same trust, and may God continue to watch over and bless the United States of America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 27, 2003, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage Americans to gather in their homes, places of worship, and community centers to share the spirit of understanding and prayer and to reinforce ties of family and community.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth.




Free Speech and Censorship

They who produce crap loses with crap. Something like that. The Hollywood hit piece The Reagans, starring Barbara Streisand's husband Jimmy as the President, will be aired on the cable channel Showtime on Sunday. And according to a CNN SHOWBIZ, piece, they've excised the sickest line of them all, the one in which Streisand's husband as the President says of AIDS patients, "They that live in sin shall die in sin." (The Producers say the picked it up from Edmund Morris's bio of Reagan, which was an admitted work of fiction anyway.)

Censorship! Free speech! First Amendment! All these nifty things the amorphous "RIGHT WING SQUAD," or whatever the heck we are these days, evidently seeks to squelch.
"The film being taken off the air ... appears to be an attack on free speech," said [actress Judy] Davis, who plays Nancy Reagan. "We don't like what we suspect you might be saying, so we'll do everything in our power to remove it from a major network so people can't hear what you're saying."
Ms. Davis, Everything to which we objected was actually a part of the film. You said it. CBS acknowledged and canned your attack piece.

Free speech involves the right to object. Is a public demand that the local convenience store chain take Hustler magazine off the racks an attack on Larry Flynt's free speech rights?

Free speech. "Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech." Congress has made no law.

CBS had every right to air that nonsense, just as the Reagans had every right to object, to ask that it be pulled. But, alas, the President cannot object. Those dastardly dullards did not have the decency until the man was in the ground before attempting to dice him. A lot of us did not want to sit their quietly while this was done. We exercised our free speech rights and sent much of the film to the cutting room floor and banished the rest to the entertianment netherworld of cable.

I'm in the mood right now to listen to Bach's B minor Mass. And I'm of the mind to have me some jellybeans.


The Government's Operating Budget

The White House won with the Medicare reform bill [blog post]. The White House won on the FCC rule governing in how many markets an owner can own a station [blog post]. Now the government has to fund itself for the fiscal year beginning… began on October 1. The Dems have been counting White House victories, there are too many of them in the appropriations, and they now plan to block it for that reason. Fine.

Members of Congress -- both Houses -- are being forced by the leadership to return to work on December 8, but some on the Hill don't expect a vote until after New Years Day.

The President was insistent on its demands -- including matters of overtime pay, federally financed private school vouchers for District of Columbia students, food labels, and gun background checks -- and the bill also contains something for just about everyone. (It is how support is built.) And the FCC rule.

This from an ABCNews.com piece on the matter:
Under the measure, the Education Department would get $56 billion, which is $2.9 billion or 5 percent more than last year's total. Also included is $2.4 billion as a first step in President Bush's five-year initiative against AIDS in poor nations; $33.8 billion for highway construction, $4.5 billion over Bush's request; and $28.6 billion for veterans' health care, $1.6 billion above Bush's plan.

Congress and Bush already have enacted legislation [a Continuing Resolution (CR)] temporarily financing agencies through January.

The bill's $373 billion price tag is money Congress must approve each year. It includes money collected from special taxes for highway, mass transit and aviation projects. Overall, it covers $820 billion in total spending mostly for programs that automatically spend their funds without congressional decisions needed.

The United States government, the visible part, has become a grand political theater.


The Anti-Spam Bill

The elected mob of Senators, waving pitchforks, had passed the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 last month. The House passed a different version several days ago. The Anti-Spam bill went back to the Senate, where they made some changes to the House-passed version and passed it. The revised version now goes back to the House, currently in recess until December 2, for passage. Then the White House has said that they will sign it.

As obnoxious as Spam is, our federal government has somehow given itself the power to regulate it. Why? And why are these lawmakers, divided on issues like stopping terrorism and supporting our troops in Iraq, so unanimous about this? Because Spam is annoying and people are disgruntled. Disgruntled people demand that their government do something or other about whatever has crawled up a cavity.

It's whimsical democracy, carrying pitchforks and torches and demanding that the witches be burned.


This is a Wictory Wednesday post

Wictory Wednesday comes along only once a week, and it's that time of week when we should be thankful that Al Gore is not our President and that, if we all pitch in, John Edwards or any of the rest won't be.

You can become part of the campaign to reelect President George W. Bush by donating your time as a volunteer. Click RIGHT HERE to be directed to the page where you can become a Bush Team Leader, an official part of the campaign. You can also join by donating at the campaign's SECURE SERVER. You can make a habit of visiting Political Annotation on Wednesday and sending the President a few dollars every week.

Wictory Wednesday, the concept and the implementation, is the product of the fertile mind of Poli Pundit, and here is the official Blogroll of the Willing, those who've taken the time and space to spread this important word:

And be sure to visit the Miller's Time weblog today for a glance at what is happening on the Wictory Wednesday Blogroll blogs.



The Television Audience-Reach Limit

Our government ought not to be involved in any of this. What percentage of the television audience can a particular ownership reach with its signals? On Monday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) reached a deal with the White House which would set the limit at 39-percent. This sounds arbitrary, but there is a very good reason why the limit is to be set at precisely 39-percent. It's just that no one knows what that reason is, and if the extraterrestrial beings which do know why it's 39-percent were to tell us, they would have to kill us with their guns which shoot green plasma rays.

Okay, it's ridiculous. Here's an article from Hollywood Reporter.com: Dems raise roof over deal on 39% audience reach. That is a particularly bad headline, as it was the Republicans who raised the roof, from 35% to 39%. But it's all semantics.
Sen. Fritz Hollings accused the GOP of reneging on an earlier agreement among the House and Senate negotiators that set the cap at 35%. Hollings is the senior Democrat on the panel's subcommittee that doles out funds to the FCC along with the Justice, Commerce and State Departments.

"The Republicans' decision to make the broadcast ownership cap 39% was no 'compromise' at all. It was a total violation of the conference agreement. Both houses included the exact same wording," the South Carolina legislator said on Tuesday. "The Republicans went into a closet, met with themselves, and announced a 'compromise.'"
That's the way it's done, Fritz, you old dinosaur you.

There's a provision in the bill which requires the FCC to review the ownership provision ever two years -- instead of four -- so Fritz needn't fall about himself with anger.

Or Byron Dorgan, also mentioned in the article:
"I, and others who have fought so hard to overturn these rules, will not sit quietly by while the White House insists on provisions that are counter to the public's interest," he wrote. "If the identical provisions which were approved by the House and Senate, and by the Conference Committee, are altered, it will provoke a major battle, at least here in the United States Senate."
The solution, Byron, is to stop regulating such things. Congress is not empowered to do so by the Constitution, and at least a stretch of a First Amendment case could be made that they are prohibited from doing it.

We want the airwaves!
UPDATE: According to a piece I happened upon in the New York Times, for what it's worth, it's this provision which has Democrats ticked enough to hold up the remaining $820-billion in federal spending. The bill, that is. They vowed to crash Washington in December for the second consecutive year to work at something. That looks iffy, so we could be looking at another CR. Or they could pretend their on the West Wing with that theatric.

Medicare Bill to Pay Illegals' Hospital Bills

The AP, via the web site of the Long Beach News-Journal, tells us that some $1-billion dollars will be doled out to emergency rooms in various border States over the next for yearsto pay for the emergency medical care of illegal immigrants. This is courtesy of today's Medicare Reform bill.

The House's main anti-illegals crusader, Representative Tom Trancredo (R-Colorado), posits that illegals will now cross the border for medical treatment: "If you build an illegal alien entitlement program, they will come." The problem with that statement is that it is already federal law that the hospitals have to treat the illegals -- and "unfunded mandate," of sorts -- and they have already been coming. This is why Congress critters from Arizona, California, Texas and New York had been seeking $1.46-billion in federal reimbursement in a separate bill which never saw the floor and now looks to be irrelevant.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) argued: "Immigration is a federal issue and the responsibility of the federal government and I'm glad to see some positive response on behalf of taxpayers." Cornyn, in essence, is saying the federal government is finally going to pay the bill rather than make the taxpayers continue to do so. That mode of thought is actually very creepy. It is similar to the argument that a tax cut is a government expense.

This is that with which faced.


Third Quarter Economic Growth

Everyone but the standard-issue Democrat had to celebrate last month when the rate of growth for the third quarter of this year was put at 7.2-percent. It has been revised to an 8.2-percent rate of growth, this after a 3.3% rate in the second quarter. This marks the largest rate of economic growth for America since the first quarter of 1984, according to published reports. However, the Reagan Information Page lists Q1 1984 growth at 7.4-percent. Going by these figures, President Bush's 3Q 2003 GDP growth is the highest since Ronald Reagan's 10.9-percent in the second quarter of 1983.

Whatever. The economy is doing well. Both consumer and business spending have increased drastically. There are fewer factory jobs, but overall unemployment is down slightly.

The Dem 9 can harp about the "jobless recovery," and I think they're ingrained enough garbage about the economy being terrible when it wasn't half bad to cruise on that nonsense. They have the constant cry to internationalize the war, but there really is not much they have on President Bush that can stick.

This means that the back 8 will have to focus on Howie Dean more for now, while Dean figures out whether or not he was a strong supporter of NAFTA. (This changes almost weekly.)


Medicare Reform Passes: A Campaign Boost

Bush/Cheney '04 received what could be a substantial boost today, as the GOP-led Senate approved, 54-44, the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003. It is identical to the House version (H.R. 2473), which is said to resemble the other House version, H.R. 2469. (It's a big bill. It could be anything at this point.)

This is from a USA Today story:
Under the legislation, seniors would be eligible beginning next year to purchase a Medicare-backed discount drug card at a cost estimated at $30 a year. The administration estimated the card would mean savings of between 15% and 25% off retail prices; critics argued those numbers were wildly inflated.

Beginning in 2006, the legislation would allow seniors to purchase coverage for their prescription drugs. GOP officials estimated the drug insurance premium would be $35 a month, with a $250 deductible. The coverage would pay 75% of costs after that until a recipient's drug costs reached $2,250. After that, there would be no drug coverage until a recipient's out-of-pocket expenses reached $3,600, or roughly $5,100 in overall prescription expenses. Above that level, insurance would pick up roughly 95% of costs.
So our government becomes larger and more expensive, but the GOP has co-opted another Dem issue as we near an election season.

Kennedy complained that the bill, which passed over his personal pledge to stop it, will shove seniors "in the cold arms of the HMOs." Daschle called it a "bailout for the HMOs and insurance companies." That's insipid rhetoric which misses any semblance of a real point, but at least the towering figure of Ted Kennedy has been knocked over.

The Republicans needed Trent Lott, a sworn enemy of big government, to vote their way on cloture Sunday, to get the bill to a floor vote. It was bigger than the bill: this was about the President's reelection and the leadership strength of Frist. Here's this from the AP:
With five senators clustered around Lott, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, an architect of the legislation, did most of the talking. At another point, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.,and Grassley talked to Lott very intently. The Mississippi Republican kept on shaking his head.

The Republicans still were short of votes for cloture.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., also took a turn, gesturing with great emphasis to try to pry loose Lott's vote.

After nearly half an hour, Republicans still were two votes shy. Then, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., cut the shortfall to one.

Finally, Lott walked slowly up to the front of the Senate, pointed his thumb up without fanfare -- the 60th vote -- and walked briskly out of the chamber.
He did the deed then washed his hands. Both he and Graham voted against the bill on Tuesday, though, but the GOP did not need 60 votes to break Kennedy's filibuster. Only 51 for passage.

Earlier this month, Senate Dem Whip Harry Reid of Nevada, when whining about the upcoming marathon judicial debate the Republicans had planned, accused Frist of "mismanagement" and referred to him as a "rank amateur."

According to the AP article linked above, when entering the Senate chamber Monday morning, Senator Lott "politely declined [a reporter's] request to talk about Frist's first year as leader."

Welcome to President Bush's Great Society. Perhaps he'll cut this out domestically in his upcoming second term.


Anglo-French Joint Press Conference

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac held a joint press conference In London yesterday following the yearly Anglo-French Summit. Here is a question from one of the Brits:
There will be a state visit to London and a state visit by the Queen to Paris, and it will be a good opportunity for you to have good Burgundy and Bordeaux wines in Buckingham Palace that apparently President Bush was not interested in last week. My question is: do you believe, President, that the British taxpayers will really need to spend millions of pounds to prevent you from hearing what the British public have to say, just as millions of pounds were spent last week to isolate the American President from the local environment? Given the Entente Cordiale and the events in Iraq, perhaps you would like the people of Britain to say something rather different?
First, the President of the United States did not turn his nose up at French whine because it is French; rather, the man does not drink. Secondly, the police were on hand during President Bush's recent stay in London to protect the public and their property from the mobs and the mob mentality, which is destruction. That question was an editorial.

The French government can be constructive. This from an answer by President Chirac concerning Syria:
We have had an engagement with Syria which has been an attempt by us to make sure that they play as constructive and positive a role as possible in the Middle East.
And this from the Beirut Daily Star online regarding the response from some Lebanese lawmakers to a French call for Syria to withdraw her troops from the Lebanon:
[Lebanese MP George] Najm accused the French legislators of being “manipulated by Israeli and US interests that are working to separate Lebanese and Syrian relations in order to target and weaken Lebanon and deprive its Islamic resistance from preventing the resettlement of Palestinians in Lebanon.”

Beirut MP Nasser Qandil said that a number of French MPs were often influenced by the Zionist lobby.
This is for public consumption in the desert. If someone, even a Frenchman, suggests that the Arab states do something other than run roughshod over Israel, they are labeled a part of the "Zionist lobby." The masses then blame this evanescent lobby instead of fingering their own inept and corrupt leadership.

Here come the Saracens.


Dean, a serious contender?

Maybe. At least candidate John Kerry, still acting as if he were in the race for the Dem nomination, is attacking the attacker.

Good morning. His campaign issued a press release yesterday, featuring the words of former Senator Max Cleland (D-Georgia) who left three limbs in Vietnam. From the release:
At a time when young Americans are being killed and wounded by President Bush’s failed policy in Iraq, we don’t need another governor who ran from going to Vietnam and leading our country. We cannot afford to have a leader who weaseled out of going to Vietnam on a medical deferment for a bad back and wound up on the ski slopes of Aspen like Howard Dean."
That's strong stuff, but Kerry's desperate and Dean did run away from going to Vietnam.

If the question seems naïve, it's not. I do not think Howard Dean will or even can win the Democrat nomination. I think he is an apparition based on media hype from reporter's who think they know something




Iraqis Approve Power Transfer Timetable

This from the BBC:
The Iraqi Governing Council has written a letter to the UN Security Council setting out a timetable for a return to self-rule.
The letter confirms a series of dates and deadlines agreed by American and British officials earlier this month.

It also calls for a new UN Security Council resolution.

The letter, written by current council President Jalal Talabani, confirms the intention to elect a new transitional government by the end of June 2004.

The body will then make preparations for a constitutional convention and ultimately general elections before the end of 2005.
Now if we can just get Howie Dean to sign off on it...

No More Mad Babs?

The Fox News site has an interesting piece about the GOP targeting Senator Babs Boxer of California in 2004: GOP Targets Boxer in Effort to Win Over California. We knew this a year ago, but as the gears are about to grind, here's the deal according to Fox.
"The recall and victory of Arnold Schwarzenegger has motivated the party and they are clearly going to focus on next year and carrying that momentum forward," said Dan Allen, spokesman for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"[Boxer] is extremely vulnerable," said media strategist Sheri Annis, who worked with Schwarzenegger in his successful referendum campaign for after-school program funding in 2002. "The Republicans just need to put up the right person."
They drag in the ubiquitous Stu Rothenberg to tell us that this isn't a recall, Boxer isn't Davis, etc., etc., tell us something we didn't know.
It’s a potential long shot until the Republicans get a candidate who shows some pizzazz or fund-raising ability" said Stu Rothenberg, political analyst and editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.
Pizzaz. Okay, Stu's telling us that the GOP needs another Arnold-like figure. I think so too. Boxer's been in there for twelve years. She's "Year of the Woman," remember? (I met my wife in 1992, and that's the only thing that little slogan means to me.)

Let's get some names. The big one, according to the Fox piece, is David Dreier, the Republican Congressman who represents California's 26th district and led Governor Schwarzenegger's transition team. It might be me, but Congressman Dreier looks an awful lot like actor Fred Dreier, who is most famous being the original actor cast in the "Sam Malone" role in the 1980's sitcom Cheers.

That's beside the point, though. The media says Congressman Dreier is a star -- yay! -- but I knew that long before they figured out who he was. (He came to Washington, if I recall, on the 1980 coattails.) But Dreier says he is quite happy representing the CA-26, but he is not indispensable to the California delegation. This from a October 22piece in The Hill:
So far, no one on Capitol Hill is complaining about Dreier’s absence [while heading Schwarzenegger's transition team]. The congressman also heads California’s 20-member GOP delegation.

“David could just spend all his time in California and he wouldn’t be missed at all, the way we are proceeding around here,” ranking Rules Committee member Rep. Martin D. Frost (D-Texas) said.

Frost added that Dreier would be more needed when the committee takes up spending and energy bills later this year. Schwarzenegger becomes governor in mid-November — and, presumably, Dreier’s tenure as transition chief ends at the same time.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) added: “He’s a single man, so that always helps.”

Dreier missed an Oct. 1 Rules Committee meeting about a commerce report while he was campaigning for Schwarzenegger, Maney said. Dreier also missed floor votes Sept. 30 and Oct. 1-2, including the conference report on the partial-birth abortion ban.
He could win, so we'll see how Karl Rove is with twisting another arm, if that is what he sees as the answer.

Fox throws up one more name, that of Representative Darrell Issa. Issa's the man who funded much of the recall petition drive only to quit the Question Two election before he had even put his name on the ballot.

Darrell Issa, a.k.a. "Jihad Darrell," is an Arab American who has cozied with the Syrians, the Lebanese, Yassir Arafat, and Hezbollah. At least that's how Debbie Schlussel saw it in the linked article, and one never knows. Issa said that he was duped into making pro-terrorist quotes, and I have to agree. When he called the Palestinian bombers a legitimate resistance outfit, I think he might have just been trying to see the side of the people in the place from whence his family came. It's a common dynamic.

Boxer would eat him alive.

Who? Who does the California GOP have? Tom McClintock is not more exciting than was Boxer's 1998 opponent, Matt Fong (who beat Issa in the primary election that year). Why not run Fong again?

The ultimate candidate would be the Ronald Reagan of forty years ago.

Then again, there's always Danny Ball.

Okay, perhaps not. Would you vote for Dennis Miller?


Motion to Invoke Cloture…

…on the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1.

Ted Kennedy's filibuster attempt on the Medicare bill failed [U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote]. In fact, after all his bluster and stern threats, carrying with it the weight for his umpteen decades of seniority, it fell flat.

Now we have to see what Parliamentary tricks the Dems are ready to unveil. (This will be their own "Nuclear Option.")

The vote was 70-29-1. (Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican, did not vote.) The President has Jumpin' Jim Jeffords on his side on this one, despite the fact that this is one of the more flagrant examples of the GOP arm-twisting which he so decried when he bolted.

Anyway, the Republicans voting against cloture were Vermont's Linc' Chaffee -- a Republican, I fear, only because his daddy (the late Senator John Chafee was one -- the ever-maverick John McCain of Arizona, who is obstinate about party lines, and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, who has been busy establishing himself as the new maverick.


The House Doesn't Like Spam

"Boob bait for bubbas." I borrow the phrase from the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-New York) to describe the anti-spam legislation which passed the House of Representatives today. It's an idiots' bill for pitchfork and torch carrying crusaders who "gotta do sumtin' 'bout it dammitall!" And they pass an Unconstitutional law.

The Senate passed the bill [BLOG POST and BLOG POST] in the last week of October, 97-0. On Saturday, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act passed the House, 392-5. The two bills are slightly different, so the Senate is expected to pass the House version quickly and send it to the President for his signature. This being an election year, and Spam being universally reviled, he'll sign it.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-Lousiana) complained that Spam "makes regular email checking a seemingly endless hassle." Ban hassles, ban inconvenience, and the unattractive and the unpleasant.

We have lawmakers who cannot reach near unanimity on whether or not to financially support our troops overseas in Iraq, or to rebuild Iraq to keep it out of the hands of our enemies, but they can unite, pumping their fists and snarling, to attempt to proscribe e-mail marketing.

The bill proscribes using fake return addresses, using misleading subject lines, and clandestinely gathering addresses from Web sites in or for Spamming purposes. It also requires an opt-out mechanism for those who do not wish to receive the e-mail.

It cannot be enforced and there is no one to enforce it, but it looks good to constituents who know only that they don't like Spam, dammit, and mutter-mutter-curse-curse.

Boob bait for bubbas.


Seniors are Political Pawns

From the December 8 issue of Fortune magazine, their web site carries a partial transcript of an interview they conducted with AARP CEO Bill Novelli. Here's the section I found most interesting:
Q: Still, your critics are accusing you of selling out seniors. Are you?
A: Actually, we're doing the exact opposite. These critics say that this is going to bring the downfall of Medicare. AARP champions Medicare. We would never do anything to harm it.

Q: So why is Ted Kennedy attacking the bill?
A: The truth of the matter is, I'm not sure. I have tremendous respect for Ted Kennedy, and he wants Medicare legislation. He wants drug coverage. I thought that he would support this bill, and maybe he still will.
By harming the bill, the Dems harm President Bush. They want to smack the President, so they attempt to off the bill. And they get the "historical champion of the seniors," Ted Kennedy, to do it for the Party. If fact, I think it more likely that it was Kennedy's plan.

Kennedy would be a natural friend of any plan to further enlarge a federal program, but he wants to be the guy doing it. He wants it to originate from his party.

Next question
Q: Are you worried about long-term fallout with the Democrats?

A: Yes. When this is over, we're going to have to mend some fences. We're a nonpartisan organization, but we see these people as our once and future friends.
They are not a nonpartisan organization by any stretch, and they are bipartisan only when the Republicans attempt to legislate like Dems.

What will today bring?




Shevardnadze Gets the Hook

My wife thought I should write of this. If you want to read about Ted Rall or Jacko, someone's writing about it somewhere. This one is long overdue.

On the Feast of St. George.

Eduard Shevardnadze joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1948. He worked his way up the ladder of power, like all good Soviet apparatchiks, joining the powerful Communist Party Central Committee in 1976. In 1985, he became a member of the Soviet Politburo and the Foreign Minister to the last Soviet dictator, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. He resigned his posts in 1990, having seen the writing on the wall and following where the power led.

He was elected President of the Republic of Georgia in 1995 and again in 2000, leading the country to corruption, oppression, and economic misery. (By coincidence, Schevernadze has been praised in the past by former President Jimmy Carter, who wasn't technically corrupt, did not per se oppress anyone, but had the misery thing down pat.)

Secretary of StateColin Powell gave the United States opinion that the elections had been fraudulent. (Candidate Wes Clark, speaking on Face the Nation today, claimed that Don Rumsfeld was brought in at Defense to counteract Powell at State. But then again, Wesley is a bit mental.)

The Georgians seized the day on the Russian Orthodox Feast of St. George, the patron saint of Georgia, to storm the Parliament building and hand Shevardnadze his walking papers. This came after meetings between the Shevardnadze, the opposition, and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, whom we remember as a close ally of the poet Dominique DeVillepin, foreign minister of France.

The interim President of Georgia is former speaker of parliament Nino Burjanadze, who has spoken with Powell. Opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili said that Shevardnadze will not face trial for corruption. Elections are due in 45 days.

Fireworks over Tbilisa, and no blood in the streets. When Shevardnadze seized power in January of 1992, it was behind a 5,000-member paramilitary force. On Sunday, he lost control of the interior ministry's troops and quit in time to prevent disaster.

What does this mean to domestic U.S. politics? Probably not much, unless the Dem Nine start accusing President Bush of having propped Shevardnadze up to distract Americans from something or other. It's just a heads-up to my fellow Reaganites out there. The revolution is still underway.


What more can one say…

...about Joltin' Joe Lieberman?

He was a guest, briefly, on Wolfgang's Late Edition program early this afternoon ET. Said Blitzer: "He was once the presumed front-runner." Sure, but too much of the media's use of the term "front-runner" is a deal with presumption. Lieberman was the only guy still in the race who had been an actual nominee for national office. And…?

Nothing. Lieberman was leading in national polls when they were absolute name recognition. (They still are today to that extent, but with many fewer people.) Blitzer showed him national poll after national poll, taken recently, it which Lieberman was trailing both Dean and Kerry. Lieberman pointed out that each was within the margin of error, and that his own polls showed him leading.

Blitzer showed a clip of Howie Dean, in an interview setting, blaming Kerry, Edwards, Dean, and Gephardt for letting the President invade Iraq without asking the tough questions. I saw it with my own eyes: Howard Dean smirked. While President Bush smirks slightly in a best friend manner, Dean smirks like the who knew that no matter what you said, he was the one who ultimately assigned the TA to give the grades.

He defended his vote to invade Iraq, saying that Saddam was a "homicidal maniac": "He was an enemy of stability in the Middle East." If by "stability" Lieberman meant status quo, he was wrong. Ousting Saddam upset the status quo and altered the calculus of the Middle East.

He wants the United Nations to assume control over the "civilian security" in Iraq.

He regrets it, he says, but he has to oppose the Medicare bill. Blitzer asked him if he'd skip campaigning to oppose it, and he said he was skipping an event.

He's joining Teddy Kennedy's filibuster. John McCain had indicated on ABC's This Week that he would also be joining the filibuster, though he made no statement other than a "sure" in answer to the question from Steph.


Wes Clark on Face the Nation

He began the show by complaining about the new RNC ad [BLOG POST] running in Iowa. Wes said it violated the President's pledge not to use September 11 for political purposes and struck at the heart of democracy by suppressing the right to free speech. It's a critical part of democracy, a right of every citizen, to speak out against their government.

Lost on the clueless Clark was that it is also the right of every citizen to speak out in favor of the President and to criticize those have used the war on terrorism as a tool to attack the President and win the Dem Presidential nomination.

Clark demanded that the RNC take the ad off the air. The man is a would-be censor, not the kind of person we'd want as President.

He also went into the typical Dem fit about people impugning the patriotism of those who disagree, etc.

[It's a good political ad, and HERE it is again.]

He disagrees with the decision by the Bush Administration not to allow the TV networks to use the returning bodies of soldiers killed in Iraq as tools to weaken support of the war. Clark said that they should be seen on television, "so we can honor them."

Schieffer mentioned an interview a few years back which Clark had with NBC's TODAY show co-host Matt Lauer, in which Wes said that Don Rumsfeld was an excellent choice as Secretary of Defense, ready for the job. In a more recent interview with CBS's Dan Rather, Wes said that Rumsfeld was unqualified and that he "wouldn't have picked him" as Secretary of Defense.

Clark responded that Rumsfeld was still living in the Cold War, when you had to attack all of your enemies. Clark vastly misstates the atmosphere of the Cold War in such a way that he is 100% incorrect. During the Cold War, we did not attack our all of our enemies, and neither did the Soviet Union. The two nations did not attack each other. Geopolitics was on eggshells.

Clark is a liar and a buffoon.

Clark explained that if he would have had a chance to sit down and interview Rumsfeld, he would not have chosen him. He did not cover himself.

Schieffer brought up his flip-flop on Iraq. Clark explained: "It's a complicated series of issues … I handled the question badly."

Yes, he saw Saddam as a threat, but not as an immediate threat to the United States, he told Schieffer. He also told Schieffer that he "never saw evidence that he was a threat." Then he told Schieffer that he saw Saddam as a threat to the U.N. Security Council.

Gay marriage? Wes supports gay civil unions. As for the marriage qua marriage: "I think that's an issue for the churches, the synagogues, and the State legislatures." Working together, Wes?

Mid-February at the latest.


Two Quotes

The Rightsided Newsletter is now in the Inbox of subscribers and posted to the web site, and I promised two interesting quotes from this morning's Sunday shows before I got into Wes Clark on Face the Nation and Joe Lieberman on Late Edition.

The first comes from former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, recalling for host Schieffer on FTN , for the kazillionth time, that day in Dallas 50 years ago, wiping a tear, etc. Schieffer asked him what he thought the lasting historical legacy of Kennedy would be. (Though it has been 40 years, and the history books have been written.)

Cronkite said that Kennedy was in office for only a few years, so it has to be the Cuban Missile Crisis: "That will be the sole achievement of the Kennedy years." Come to think of it, what else did Kennedy do besides begin the conflict in Vietnam? I think when Kennedy becomes a fading memory, he will be remembered for being assassinated.

Some do remember him now for cutting taxes, though.

The other quote is more humorous, I thought, than anything else. Host Schieffer was doing his closing bit whining about all the screen-time Jacko has been getting of late. Schieffer said: "I think Michael Jackson is a creep. I don't want to know anything about him."

There's nothing like honesty.


If it's Sunday…

Tommy Daschle is listed as the lone guest -- "the lone gunman," this weekend -- on NBC's Meet the Press this morning. My wife, however, tells me that Mary Matalin and James Carville will appear on the show. They are entertaining, if nothing else, but we'll see what Tim Russert does this morning. He might opt to give Daschle the full hour to be soft-spoken.

Candidate Wes Clark will be the lone guest on CBS's Face the Nation, probably part of Bob Schieffer's "watch the Dem candidates decide who they are this week" series. Clark will attack President Bush and call for the internationalization of various things. Wes has got this jihad thing going.

On Steph's show, ABC's This Week, he'll talk to Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy. McCain is one of the leading Senate opponents of the President's Energy Bill, while Ted Kennedy is planning to filibuster the President's Free Drugs bill. Also , he'll talk to Representatives Lynn Musgrave (R-Colorado) and Barney Franks (D-Massachusetts). Franks is know primarily for being gay, so it is likely they will talk about last week's Massachusetts supreme court ruling.

Wolfgang Blitzer's guests on CNN's Late Edition will be Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), candidate Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut), Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), and Representative Jane Harman (D-California). Since it is CNN, Blitzer might wish to discuss Jacko.

Also this week, we'll begin reviewing the first hour of FNC's Weekend Live with Tony Snow. I'll cover them all for the Rightsided Newsletter, free, to which you can subscribe by visiting the web site or by sending a blank e-mail to rsn-subscribe@topica.com.




The Senate Debates Health Care

The Senate debated the Health Care bill today, and Minority Whip Harry Reid has promised that 15 Dems will speak tomorrow morning for 1/2 hour each. I saw part of the debate, and I suppose it was indicative of what is happening.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) declared that the AARP was run by "big wigs" beholden to Newt Gingrich. He railed on and on about Gingrich, taking his "wither on the vine" comment of almost a decade ago as far out of context as anyone else has.

Senator Zell Miller (D-Georgia) recently wrote that national Dems like the Clintons, Daschle, McAuliffe, and Pelosi ought not to campaign for Dems in the South. They could do much more harm and no good. The same applies for Gingrich and Republican-sponsored legislation. The GOP leadership should beg Gingrich to stay home and keep his mouth shut next time. (Maybe they can talk him into moving overseas.)

Harkin declared: "The AARP… has brazenly betrayed the wishes of its members on this bill." In fact, he said that 80% of AARP members vehemently oppose the bill. Later, he argued that the Republicans were forcing the bill through so fast that seniors did not have the time to read it. Which is the Republican argument: that those who oppose the bill haven't read it.

Political statements? Harkin rebuffed arguments that government cannot create jobs for people by relating that his father worked for some gawdforsaken New Deal program that President Roosevelt II threw together. He praised New Deal socialism as an example of government giving jobs to people without recalling who is paying those people and how their money is extracted. (Taxpayers pay, and the money is taken by force.)

Harkin also praised President Truman for his Fair Deal. He attacked President Bush, however, for what he called the "Big Deal." This means, he told the massive C-SPAN2 TV audience: "The bigger you are, the better the deal." (Would someone implore Senate staffers not to try to be clever?)

He said that social security was in so much trouble "because they squandered the money in tax cuts." A government cannot squander that which does not belong to it.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) talked of how many times they had attempted this reform and failed. "Of course the bill is not perfect; compromise never is." But he at least understands the Dems: "It's easy to see why [they object] if what you want is socialized medicine."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R- Tennessee), whom Senator Hatch allowed to speak and conduct some business in the middle of his own floor speech, said that he hoped that "the senior Senator from Massachusetts" would not carry through with his threat to filibuster. Kennedy needs 40 other Senators to block the measure. With the AARP and their media machine on their side, the GOP should be able to successfully portray the Democrats as obstructionists. If they handle it correctly, which should not be difficult, they could spread the label to the Dems' treatment of judicial nominees.


This and other matters will be discussed on the Sunday shows tomorrow morning, and I'll review and analyze them for the free Rightsided Newsletter. I'm expanding my coverage this week to include the first hour of FNC's Weekend Live with Tony Snow. To subscribe, visit the web site or send a blank e-mail to rsn-subscribe@topica.com. Stay ahead of the curve.


A Political Question…

The question, I guess, would be: Why? Reading a Hartford Courant story about candidate Carol Mosley Braun -- Low on Funds, But Not Hopes -- I happened upon the following paragraph:
The former Illinois senator is pinning much of her hope on the rainmaking and policy skills of her campaign manager of only a few days, Patricia Ireland. Ireland, who headed the National Organization for Women from 1991 to 2001, has known Moseley Braun since the 1970s, when they were comrades in the unsuccessful effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
Okay, why?

Policy skills? Well, Ms. Ireland did help foster 1992 as the "Year of the (Leftist) Woman," but that fell apart and the momentum died. Women are rarely, these days, elected because of the sex; rather, they win on their own merit.

She fought hard for all forms of abortion on demand, and this fell apart. She fought hard for the "Equal Rights Amendment," and this died. NOW is taken less seriously now than it was before she assumed control of the organization from one Molly "Hatchet" Yard in 1991.

Rainmaking skills? Her results are hardly excellent, which is what one needs to be considers a political rainmaker.

Last month, Ms. Ireland was fired from her position as head of the YWCA after she attempted to turn the Young Women's Christian Association into a ultra-leftist, radical, pro-about advocacy group. Said YWCA Chairwoman Audrey Peeples in a press release at the time:
"We have the deepest admiration for Ms. Ireland's dedication to women's issues and social justice, but the YWCA has proved to be the wrong platform for her to advocate for these issues."
This is madness. The Dem field is a mess, from top to bottom.


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