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5851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 21, 2007, 10:30:13 PM
I highly recommend listening to Charlie Rose interviewing NY Time Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns on Tues. July 17:  Sorry I can't find a transcript.  Burns argues very persuasively that American military forces are an inhibitor, not a provocateur of the violence in Iraq and that there will be a cataclysmic escalation of violence if the Americans forces leave.  He acknowledges there is also enormous cost and makes no judgment on the issue of withdrawal.  He says: " After all, I'm a reporter."  He calls the issue in congress an agonizing, agonizing decision.
5852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 20, 2007, 01:31:39 PM
Scolding of Crafty aside, I found this source/link: Ralph Peters, NY Sun,

The political point goes both ways regarding military service.  I find it petty when used in that context.  Maybe the author is having some fun or getting revenge with the people who tortured Bush who did serve and Cheney who used college deferments like most who could.  Obviously it is not a prerequisite for Democrats as none of the front runners served nor for Republicans. I agree. I believe in civilian rule of the country and our military. I wish the cheapshot artists would check the candidates for competence on economic issues as closely as they check for military service.
5853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 19, 2007, 12:29:41 PM
I heard General Petraeus interviewed on the radio yesterday and found it to be a worthwhile listen or read for what is happening there right now.
Audio link (34 minutes)here:
5854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: July 18, 2007, 11:37:51 AM
I find it interesting to review pre-9/11/2001 writings about risks and preparedness with the benefit now of hindsight. This is from the Journal of the Air Force Association, December 2000. In the 1990s we were basking in  the so-called 'peace dividend' which meant world war risk was gone and preparedness for a couple of regional conflicts was adequate.  Then we cut drastically below those levels. 

 "Ten years ago this month, DoD officially began transforming its Cold War force into the Base Force. A military that long had been preoccupied with global war started shedding 500,000 troops and focusing on regional conflicts.
This step-pushed hard by Gen. Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-came only after a major Pentagon struggle, one ably chronicled in "The Development of the Base Force: 1989-1992" by Lorna S. Jaffe of the JCS Joint History Office.
As Jaffe's 1993 study showed, the changeover was painful and hard-fought. The four service chiefs opposed the cuts. President Bush's Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney, did not approve the plan until convinced he could reverse the drawdown. Powell himself saw the Base Force as the minimum required for superpower responsibilities.
After taking office in January 1993, the newly elected President, Bill Clinton, launched his own defense review. The outcome was the elimination of 300,000 more troops, six more Air Force wings, two more Army divisions, and 150 more Navy warships. It marked the end of the Base Force."
5855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 18, 2007, 11:06:11 AM
The North Koreans shut down a known reactor and the South Koreans delivered oil to them.  The difference between this and the Clinton agreement is that this administration is reacting with caution, acknowledging that other covert reactors may still exist.  Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright reacted with an end zone dance that could have made Randy Moss blush.

What I fail to grasp is why a rogue NK is useful to China in 2007. 

National Security Director Steven Hadley on Fox News Sunday:,2933,289361,00.html

"It's a first step in implementing an agreement that was reached last February, which is part of an overall framework of a year ago September, and under that framework, they need to give up their entire nuclear program."

[Understood. But what effect — what practical effect does the shutdown at Yongbyon have on their ability to continue to produce nuclear devices?]

"It means they will no longer be able to process to produce the plutonium from which they — of those nuclear weapons that are made out of plutonium.  We have concerns they may have a covert enrichment program. That will be the next subject of discussions..."

[And that's a uranium deal, right?]

"This is basically enriching uranium to the point where it can be used for nuclear weapons."

[Harder to do than with plutonium, correct?]

"Harder to do. We've had concerns they have a covert program. They at one point admitted that program.  But the route that they have used to date is the reprocessing route. That will be shut down. That route will be cut off, assuming these facilities are shut down.  We will then pursue to work through toward disabling, ultimately dismantling that program, getting a full accounting of what they've been doing with any covert enrichment program, and finally getting them to turn over any nuclear materials from which nuclear weapons have or could be made."
5856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 18, 2007, 05:56:54 AM
I think this is the article you were posting,  I don't understand either China's strategy or Stratfor's analysis of it.

China: Fearing a U.S.-North Korean Thaw
July 16, 2007 20 42  GMT


The six-party nuclear talks are slated to resume July 18 in Beijing now that North Korea has shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. Before then, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will hold a bilateral meeting with North Korean chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan. The recent progress on the North Korean nuclear issue is raising new concerns in Beijing, sending it on a mission to reclaim its influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship.


Now that North Korea has shut down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the six-party nuclear talks have been set to resume July 18 in Beijing. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will meet one-on-one with North Korean chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan before then.

Signs that Washington and Pyongyang might begin a series of bilateral security talks, coupled with the recent progress on the North Korean nuclear issue, have caused China some concern, prompting Beijing to seek to restore its influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship.

China has hosted the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, publicly calling numerous times for dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington. While Beijing sought to avoid another war on the Korean Peninsula, it knew such a scenario was very remote. It used its ties with, and influence over, North Korea to help manage Chinese relations with the United States, using its role as mediator and facilitator of the talks to reduce U.S. pressure on China in other areas.

However, the growing rift between Beijing and Pyongyang and the decline in North Korean reliance on Chinese exports steadily have eroded Beijing's ability to command obedience from Pyongyang. North Korean oil imports from Russia's Primorsky region via deals brokered through Moscow, for example, have risen precipitously in recent years. And while China still exerts influence over North Korea, Chinese oil stoppages no longer hold the bite they once did.

The long delay between the Feb. 13 agreement and North Korea's shutdown of Yongbyon was not a big problem for Beijing. While it did show some limitations of Beijing's ability to manipulate North Korea, it kept Washington looking to Beijing to keep North Korea in line. But the rapid shift -- just three weeks -- from the return of North Korean funds deposited in Macau's Banco Delta Asia (long a sticking point in the six-party process) to Pyongyang's announcement of the shutdown has left China concerned that the process is moving out of its control. Pyongyang's offer of direct bilateral defense talks with Washington and Washington's relatively positive response to this have magnified Chinese fears.

North Korea's offer of direct military talks with the United States, something that could be part of -- or a supplement to -- a peace accord between the two nations, sidesteps China's role as facilitator. China remains a signatory to the 1953 Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War, along with North Korea and the United States. (South Korea refused to sign at the time.) Washington's positive response, as well as rumors that the United States is even considering normalized relations with North Korea -- or at least a liaison office in Pyongyang -- is adding to China's sense of isolation.

For China, this is more than just the short-term issue of using North Korea's latest crisis as a lever in U.S.-Chinese relations; North Korean nuclear crises come and go. Rather, there is a deeper concern in Beijing regarding a true U.S.-North Korean rapprochement. North Korea is a critical component of China's buffer strategy. China has significant land borders and so has created a system of buffers to protect the heartland around the Yellow, Yangtze and Pearl rivers. This buffer zone was created over the course of China's history and includes Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet, among other parts of China. It offers strategic depth and supplements China's defense forces with natural barriers.

Historically, China viewed Korea as part of this buffer zone, even if it was not formally part of the Chinese nation. During the Korean War, the fear of losing North Korea as a strategic buffer to U.S. forces triggered Chinese intervention. And while Washington is currently not threatening to march up to the Yalu, China's need for North Korea as a strategic buffer remains strong. A saying used by the Chinese during the Korean War maintains that relations between China and North Korea are as close as lips and teeth: When the lips are gone, the teeth get cold. When North Korea ceases to be a friendly buffer state, China accordingly gets nervous and feels vulnerable.

For Beijing, helping the inter-Korean reconciliation process was not much of a concern. For geographic and economic reasons, a unified Korea would more than likely shift toward China -- but a U.S.-friendly North Korea is a different story. And even if it is unlikely that Washington and Pyongyang will make immediate friends and become close allies, Beijing is worried that it is losing control of the process, and thus its ability to shape its own strategic environment.

Beijing is now looking for a way to reclaim its influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship. One method will be to press for four-party talks on shaping a peace accord. These talks would include China, the United States and the two Koreas, drawing on Seoul's similar concern that it is being left out of the U.S.-North Korean process. This would also help keep Russia out in the cold as far as influence over the six-party talks is concerned. Another means by which Beijing could address this issue would be to offer support for South Korean attempts to resurrect the North Korean economy by tying existing economic activities on the China-North Korea border to those on the inter-Korean border (such as the inter-Korean Kaesong industrial complex).

However remote, the threat Beijing perceives from any sign of a U.S.-North Korean rapprochement is very real. Hence, China's primary goal at the talks beginning July 18 will be to reclaim influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship.
5857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 17, 2007, 02:00:21 PM
I don't know what happened to Paul Craig Roberts but I liked him better before.  He enjoys the by-line of working for Reagan and the WSJ in the past but didn't get those jobs by advancing the types of views he writes now for and for 911 conspiracy sites.  His impeach-now view would make sense if he backed up his Bush staged the terrorism claim with a shred of evidence. No matter what actions Bush does or does not take with Iran, we aren't going to be in a "dictatorial police state" next year.  The '08 elections will be held on schedule, and it was misguided Jihadists, not an American conspiracy, who brought down the towers. JMHO.
5858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: July 17, 2007, 12:16:44 PM
Chavez losing popularity:

Proposals for the unlimited reelection of President Hugo Chávez, the possibility of establishing a Cuba-like political system and the ''violent'' clash with Washington are rejected by most Venezuelans, according to a new poll unveiled Friday.

The poll by Hinterlaces, a Caracas think tank that carries out surveys and analysis for private clients, also showed that Chávez's popularity has dropped 13 points since November, from 52 percent to 39 percent.

Hinterlaces' figures indicated that the average Venezuelan is increasingly rejecting Chavismo's ideological agenda in key areas such as the rights of private property and the country's shift toward Cuban-style socialism.

''More than a revolution, what Venezuela is living is a process of democratic maturation and the remodeling of its political culture,'' said Oscar Schemel, president of Hinterlaces, which correctly predicted Chávez's landslide reelection in December.

The political interests of today's Venezuelans are ''the opposite of extremist speeches'' not only by Chávez, but also by his radical opposition, Schemel added.

He said Chávez's radical stances ''seem to run counter to the key ideas and meanings of the sociopolitical culture of Venezuela'' and are generating resistance among Venezuelans.

The latest Hinterlaces poll, which consulted 990 people in five major Venezuelan cities in May and June, showed the following results:

• 63 percent rejected unlimited presidential reelection.

• 47 percent opposed the establishment of socialism.

• 85 percent opposed Cuban-style socialism.

• 86 percent rejected the idea that ``to be rich is bad.''

• 87 percent supported private property.

• 75 percent rejected the ''violent and rude'' confrontation with Washington.

• 81 percent said the country needs new leaders.

Since his December reelection the leftist Chávez has stepped up his efforts to move Venezuela toward ''21st century socialism'' and pushed for a constitutional change to allow unlimited presidential reelection.

Hinterlaces first asked respondents whether they supported unlimited reelection in February, obtaining a 61 percent negative response. Other polling companies have obtained similar results.

The rejection of Chávez's ideological agenda shown in the polls ''has been consistent in the nine years of Chávez government,'' said Carlos Escalante, director of the Miami-based Inter-American Center for Political Management.

Escalante added, however, that he found it paradoxical that ``people don't want to look like Cuba, and prefer private property and keeping their freedom, yet each day the positive evaluation of Chávez remains high.''

The poll's release came one day after the pro-Chávez president of the national legislature, Cilia Florez, attacked what she called an attempt to ''manipulate the proposal for presidential reelection,'' saying it was not for indefinite reelection but rather ''continuous'' reelection.

''If a president has been running a country correctly and the people are satisfied with that rule, we cannot take away their opportunity to reelect that president,'' Florez said at a news conference.

5859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 17, 2007, 11:24:19 AM
Replying to a couple of recent posts here:

"Is he (Dick Morris) suggesting the individual cap gains should be taxed at the same rate as income?!?" - I think he is comparing her to the further left positions of Obama and Edwards.  Also, I think 50 states tax capital gains same as ordinary income (a crime IMO); the states were laughing to the bank when the fed rate was cut.

"Does anyone know what rate corporations pay on cap gains?" - 35% vs. 15% individual:


Commenting on the Richard Viguerie piece attacking Fred Thompson as no conservative leader:

First evidence shown is his former support for McCain Feingold, terrible legislation.  He now agrees at least parts of that were a mistake.  To me that was already the biggest issue that I disagree with Fred on, so the criticism provides no new light and skips intentionally the fact that he has had second thoughts.

Viguerie admits Thompson is more conservative than Giuliani, McCain or Romney.  From a conservative point of view, isn't that the point.  He goes on to show how Thompson with his moderate friends can't be painted into a far-right corner.  Isn't that the rest of the point - winning.

Thompson isn't pro-life enough? He's running against Giuliani - prochoice.  Then against Hillary Clinton most likely.  The President's role in this is to appoint good justices.  Seems to me both Giuliani and Thompson would do that.  Thompson played a leading role with the John Roberts confirmation.

A ho-hum career in the senate.  Yes, each vote can be picked apart.  Likewise for Hillary and Obama.  Great senators have different skills and strengths than great Presidents.  Thompson didn't find a permanent place for himself in the senate even though he could have easily won another term.  At 8 years he is still on par with his likely opponents.

I noticed the anti-Thompson opinions have picked up since both Rasmussen and Zogby show Thompson slightly edging Giuliani in their latest polls.  All before announcing.

I find that Thompson has quite a gift for expressing conservative views unapologetically. Viguerie says he doesn't have prominent conservatives in his inner circle.  In that case, like Reagan, it must be Thompson himself writing his own very clearly articulated conservative views.
5860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 07, 2007, 12:52:13 PM
I refuse to believe that a congress with an approval gap 7 points worse that Bush, coming into an important election season, that can't seem to get anything done on anything will pass freedom of speech barring legislation that will prohibit the broadcast of a No. 1 show like Rush Limbaugh for example, and make joke balancing like they lamely attempt on Jay Leno to be the law.

That it used to be the law does not prove that this genie can be put back into the bottle.

I don't find compelling Roger's argument that successful shows pick the dumbest liberal caller in order to defeat that view.  In fact, these shows are loaded with real clips of liberal politicians in power, in their own words, with context largely preserved. Not with balance or equal time, but their views are discussed at length.

Missed in his analysis, it seems to me, is that the media was NOT balanced under the the last freedom of speech banning doctrine.  Rush's success and now so many others is based on the fact that a very widely held viewpoint, roughly called conservatism, was and still is under-expressed elsewhere.

Nor do I find compelling that statements like Michael Savage saying "Liberalism is a mental disorder" require a response.  I first do not put him in a category with conservatives.  And second, if I was a liberal strategist, I would not encourage prominent liberals to get on his show and raise his stature and balance.  I listened to enough Air America to know that either side can digress their message to that level, but the answer is already well stated in this thread - turn the dial, not try to regulate the hatefulness or opinions you find to be misguided.
5861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: July 07, 2007, 11:06:00 AM
VDH wrote about the threat to civil liberties this past week.  Always a worthwhile read IMO.
July 02, 2007
The Real Threat to Civil Liberties
By Victor Davis Hanson

A common liberal complaint against the Bush administration is its supposed trampling of civil liberties. The Patriot Act, wiretaps, and Guantanamo supposedly have undermined our freedoms--or so we are warned ad nauseam by liberal watchdogs.

True, we have not received any detailed analysis or cost/benefit ratios of how many deadly terrorist plots have been circumvented by these new controversial measures. The administration's past defense of tough interrogations abroad of suspected terrorists sounded to many a lot like an endorsement of torture-light. In any case, as the danger of another 9/11 fades after almost six years, the public seems to be backing off from such anti-terrorism measures--at least until another such mass murder takes place on our shores.

But at least the Patriot Act passed both houses of Congress with wide public support. In contrast, there are a variety of other assaults on personal freedoms, due process, and the sanctity of the law that leftwing moralists not only ignore, but often seem to endorse--as if the liberal ends should justify illiberal means.

First, take illegal immigration. Not only have we neglected to enforce federal immigration statutes, but also local communities, due to pressures from Hispanic lobbyists and tacit approval from employers, have passed local codes barring arrests of suspected illegal aliens.

Tens of thousands of regional and local government officials, along with law enforcements, have taken the law into their own hands by simply deciding not to enforce it.

Both employers and aliens--the former for profit, the latter with the expectation of ethnic solidarity and support--have simply flaunted the law with impunity. We don't talk about massive fraud in our Social Security system due to false names and numbers used by illegal aliens, but only in pragmatic terms of whether such flagrant disregard ultimately puts more into the system than it takes out.

The result is one of the most grievous examples of civil disobedience in our nation's history--with 12 million de facto exempt from the law. In fact, we haven't seen state and local government defy federal laws in such blatant fashion since the Jim Crow days when the states of the Old Confederacy were openly insurrectionist.

Second, every bit as dangerous as wiretaps are prosecutors who manipulate the law, either for personal, ideological or political reasons. And here too reappears a pattern in which perceived political liberalism seems to trump adherence to the spirit of the law.

In the so-called Duke rape case, now disbarred District Attorney Michael Nifong withheld evidence in his holy crusade to convict three innocent Duke Lacrosse players--in hopes of appeasing the lynch mob of local black activists and self-righteous university professors. But even before evidence was adduced--all exculpatory to the defendants--liberal forces had tried and convicted the falsely accused in the media in furtherance of their own leftwing race, class, and gender agendas.

In the case of Valerie Plame, a special prosecutor was selected to find out who outed supposedly covert status at the CIA. The common liberal allegation was that administration lackies had stooped to hound a CIA employee for the anti-war politicking of her husband Joe Wilson.

But very early on in Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald's investigation, two inconvenient truths emerged. Ms. Plame was not a covert agent as envisioned by the original mandate of the special prosecutor. And second, the culprit who disseminated knowledge of her employment in with the CIA was almost immediately revealed--former State Department official Richard Armitage.

But no matter. Armitage was out of office and had voiced misgivings about the Iraq war. Thus his early conviction would have earned little public attention, but might instead have ended the investigation before it could snowball in the daily press.

So Fitzgerald barreled ahead anyway on a new mission to satisfy the partisan lust for high-value scalps--hoping to find some top administration official guilty of something else in the growing labyrinth of competing testimonies.

Presto! Scooter Libby, Chief of the Vice President's staff was found to have offered contradictory evidence, and thus convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. We tend to think of smooth Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald as far more professional than the buffoonish Nifong. Maybe. But as was true of Nifong in the Duke rape case, Fitzgerald knew of information that might be fatal to his case--that early on Richard Armitage confessed to the leak--and yet neither apprised the public nor shut down his investigation.

Prosecutors pick and choose what charges to bring. When they either act unprofessionally or beyond their mandates, they have enormous, unchecked powers to undermine the very legal system that employs them.

Everyone has their own particular complaint about the modern Supreme Court's propensity to legislate new rather than interpret existing laws. But two years ago this June, they dismantled much of the constitutional protections of the right to hold private property.

In the Susette Kelo case, the court gave state and local officials unchecked rights of eminent domain to expropriate her house. The property was not condemned for a necessary bridge or public highway. Instead it was seized for "urban redevelopment"--even when the property in question was not blighted, and the urban renewal project was of questionable viability.

City officials were delighted. Their stock and trade have been to confiscate properties, sell them in sweet heart deals to wealthy insider developers--and paper over the entire shanigan with utopian rhetoric about helping the underclass.

Fourth, most recently Democrats have discussed reinstating some sort of "fairness" doctrine aimed at regulating talk radio. They are furious that the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, Michael Savage, and a host of other conservatives dominate the AM airwaves--while Air America, Jerry Brown, Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo, and other liberals have failed utterly to carve out a comparable audience in the marketplace of ideas and entertainment.

Once again, liberal civil libertarians are not so liberal about free speech when it is a matter of the public not buying into their own progressive agendas. We should remember that the public is free to choose--and advertisers respond accordingly--about what they wish to hear. Apparently, whiny sermons by nasal-droning elites about the illiberal nature of the yokel middle class is exactly what most on their way to work do not wish to endure.

Of course, conservatives likewise lament the imbalance of left-leaning public radio and television, the major networks such as NBC and CBS, the predominantly liberal print media, universities, the entertainment industry, and foundations. But the difference is that for the most part they are not calling for the government to mandate "fairness" by empowering federal bureaucrats to curb the liberal biases of these institutions.

It is stereotypically easy to identify authoritarians who seek restrict civil liberties during war in the name of "national security." But it is much harder to take on crusading special interest groups, district attorneys, court justices, and liberal Senators who ignore, twist, or subvert our constitutional freedoms under the liberal clarion call of helping minorities, stopping the war, or championing the underclass.

If we are to lose our civil liberties, it won't be all of sudden due to Patriot-Act zealots in sunglasses and flattops, but rather insidiously and incrementally by egalitarian professors, moral crusaders, muckraking journalists, and government utopians all unhappy that constitutional justice is too little and too late for their ever impatient desire to ensure heaven on earth.
Victor Davis Hanson
5862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 19, 2007, 06:12:35 PM
Tough, but vulnerable - a pretty good LA Times article on why Democrats are leaning toward Hillary.  I'm just the messenger here; I won't be voting for Hillary.

Excerpt: "Scars can become marks of distinction, and for those assessing her, some of Clinton's darkest White House moments now add to her character. Murphy and others saw her failure to overhaul healthcare less as an indication of flawed political judgment than as valuable preparation for a rematch.",0,2765403.column?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

The tough, but vulnerable, front-runner
Hillary Clinton's experience puts her on top of the Democratic field, but her own caution could bring her down.
June 13, 2007

Detroit — AFTER WATCHING Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) juggle pointed questions before nearly 1,000 union members here Saturday, it was easy to imagine how she might pull away from her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. But it was also possible to see how she might stumble on the way.

Clinton's performance at the town hall meeting — part of a series that the AFL-CIO is conducting with the Democratic candidates to help determine whether it will endorse one of them this fall — was solid but not gripping. She sounded expert on some answers but evasive on others. And she didn't erase all doubts. Yet most people in the crowd were impressed — in ways that suggest Clinton's early lead in the polls rests on a solid foundation of confidence in her qualifications.

As the first woman to be a serious contender, Clinton might have confronted skepticism about her credibility as commander in chief, especially during wartime. But that's the dog that hasn't barked in the Democratic race. Primarily because of her years as first lady, it appears Democrats view her as more prepared for the presidency than her (male) rivals.

That's evident in national polls comparing Clinton with her top opponents, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll asked Democrats which candidate was the strongest leader, could best handle a crisis and had the best experience for the presidency. On all three questions, more respondents picked Clinton than Obama and Edwards combined. Women preferred her most, but men also favored her on those tests.

Those personal assessments, more than any policy position, buttressed Clinton's support at the town hall meeting too. Harry Murphy, an African American who organizes for Unite Here, the textile and hotel workers union, said that although Obama "needs to get his feet a little wetter," he believes that Clinton "is tested … [and] already knows the system." Clinton's admirers see her as not only experienced but tough. Margaret McCormick, a teacher who was visiting from Louisville, Ky., liked Edwards' message but was leaning toward Clinton because "when Hillary's backed into a corner, she does not give an inch." Joe Mazzarese, a United Auto Workers organizer, expressed the thought more pungently: "If I was going to get in a fight, even in a war, I'd want her on my side."

Scars can become marks of distinction, and for those assessing her, some of Clinton's darkest White House moments now add to her character. Murphy and others saw her failure to overhaul healthcare less as an indication of flawed political judgment than as valuable preparation for a rematch. Even more striking was this observation from Elaine Crawford, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local that hosted the meeting: After watching Clinton hold her balance during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she's certain Clinton can manage anything the presidency throws at her. "That was a personal glimpse of how she handled herself under tough personal pressure," Crawford said. "So I wouldn't be afraid of her making those tough decisions for the country."

Clinton also effectively portrayed herself as a fighter for those in need — an argument that resonated especially with the blue-collar women listening. And she benefited from residual good feelings about her husband's presidency among Democrats, drawing applause at almost every reference to the 1990s.

Yet Clinton still excels more at the prose than the poetry of politics; there was more energy in the room when she arrived than when she left. Several in the crowd worried about whether she can win a general election — partly because they doubt that America will elect a woman, but mostly because they fear that Republicans will reprise old scandal allegations against both Clintons.

Some of these activists also questioned whether she (and her husband) sufficiently represent the party's liberal base. Usually that sentiment manifests in skepticism about her stance on Iraq, but here it translated into a barbed question about her service, from 1986 to 1992, on Wal-Mart's board of directors.

The most worrisome sign for Clinton at the meeting was her own caution. Asked whether she would support higher automotive fuel economy standards — an overdue idea that the autoworkers have joined the auto companies in fighting — Clinton implied that she would but never directly answered. Nor, while talking tough on trade, did she ever acknowledge how much the American auto companies' miscalculations have contributed to their decline. Both answers contrasted badly with Obama, who, during a recent Detroit speech, forthrightly endorsed better fuel economy and chastised the companies for building too many cars consumers disdained.

With such timidity, Clinton risks sharpening one of her detractors' best weapons — the charge that calculation, not conviction, is her compass. Front-runners dislike risk, but in her case, the riskiest move may be playing it safe.

Ronald Brownstein, LA Times
5863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 18, 2007, 11:41:17 PM
Here is a short podcast audio of Fred Thompson taking on Harry Reid regarding comments and policies in Iraq. Not exactly a fair fight IMO.  Besides calling Harry Reid on the carpet, he is obviously practicing his aim for Hillary where the same points would apply. Click the link at Powerline and click play. Just takes a couple of minutes.

For a negative story on Fred Thompson, see George Will from last week:

Will says Thompson is 99% charm, 1% substance.  I disagree.  I think it's the opposite.  He has been speaking out very frankly on the key issues of the day.  Will's only example that Thompson lacks substance:

"Thompson expressed a truly distinctive idea about immigration. Referring to the 1986 amnesty measure that Reagan signed into law, he said: "Twelve million illegal immigrants later, we are now living in a nation that is beset by people who are suicidal maniacs and want to kill countless innocent men, women and children around the world."

Maybe that quote and context is inarticulate or he failed to explain his thought, but I think plenty of people can see a potential connection between unchecked entrances and our next catastrophe.
5864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: June 18, 2007, 06:12:58 PM
Gen. David Petraeus with Chris Wallace on Sunday.  It was too long to post, but here is the link:

I found it relevant and helpful. To me, he seems like a straight shooter giving the good and the bad as he sees it.  Unlike a post I just read, I'm pulling for the coalition government, supported by the Americans, to win the war, and to win the peace.

5865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: June 16, 2007, 01:31:17 AM
Getting back to what Denny (Captainccs) wrote, thank you very much for the first hand explanation.  Your recap of recent history is very helpful. 

My understanding and recollection is that the recall vote was going against Chavez 40-60 in exit polls but tht Chavez vote won by 60-40on the state count,a 40 point swing.  International observer Jimmy Carter declared the results good to go.  Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell quickly recognized the result. 

Curious what your take on that was and wondering if anyone has seen Powell express any second thoughts.
5866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 16, 2007, 12:55:52 AM
CCP,  I'd like to answer that from my perspective and Rog can add his own.  I think it is one of the great issues where right and left could agree and work together to eliminate it. In usage I think corporate welfare means any break whatsoever that any business gets that isn't available to all others.  Examples might be incentives to drill for new oil or tax credits to buy insulation or solar panels.

In the realm of regular welfare, you might count cash payments and even non-cash subsidies as welfare, but probably not an education or health expense deduction.  In that sense I think I see what CCP might be getting at, that the term isn't particularly precise or analogous.

In a perfect world it would be nice to get rid of all preferences and then tax every dollar of income at a proportionally lower rate.  I'd like to see us move in that direction. On the individual side, the mortgage deduction is a good example.  It certainly is well intended and claims great results - we have record high rates of home ownership.  At the same time it encourages debt and means that every other dollar has to be taxed at a higher rate.

The opposite viewpoint IMO is expressed in any one of Bill Clinton's State of the Union speeches.  Basically he gave us 40-60 minutes each year of non-stop ideas for targeted tax break after targeted tax break on top of an already train-car sized tax code. 

If I wrote the next tax code, I would try to fit it onto one side of a cocktail napkin.  (Free trade agreements should be shorter.)

5867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 14, 2007, 11:06:29 PM
Jumping in with my 2 cents, I would put a distinction between single women and single moms.  I doubt single women who are childless are less educated or much poorer than male counterparts.  I found CCP's title to be provacative: "girls can marry a guy to take care of them - or vote for the Hillary". Not speaking for him, but it could be interpreted generously to mean that some women find a man of equal or similar income to her own, they take care of each other, live well as we know it, travel, buy and furnish a nice home, raise children, invest, pay for college, heath care, cars, insurance, retirement, etc. Single women as a group see more of a state role in financial security, particularly in health care and retirement security even if they have high incomes.

Single moms might be most likely to appreciate laws that force businesses to give time off with pay for childbearing as well as likely to support programs such as child support enforcement, welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing, WIC, free school lunches,and most safety net programs  There are plenty of exceptions I'm sure; I am a single Dad raising a daughter and my personal views certainly don't fit that description.

The conservative argument as I see it is that assistance skews the incentives and removes responsibility from individuals.  As an inner city landlord, I have seen families hide the father to qualify for a program and had pregnant applicants point out how their income will go up after the next baby is born.  Where you find multi-generational poverty, you tend to find women who see government as the provider of security more than the (missing)husband/father and you tend to see the man who passed on that responsibility filling his time and energy with less desirable activities. Crime and prison statistics seem to bear that out.

Yes, a single woman might be more likely to support current abortion law that requires no input whatsoever from the unborn's father.  I have no data but doubt that pro choice passions trump pocketbook issues for most ordinary, single women.
5868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 14, 2007, 06:16:58 PM
[WSJ editorials have] "open contempt for...restraints on wealth accumulation".  Well said, me too!  Smiley
5869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: June 14, 2007, 01:52:16 PM
The Prime Minister of Iraq wrote an op-ed published yesterday in the WSJ, posted below.  Very worthwhile read IMO.  First my comments on the previous 2 posts here.

My conclusion from the Strat piece, if they are correct, is that the Americans are now allied with the Sunni, Shia and Kurd political leaders and populations along with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security forces, and are fighting against mainly foreign jihadists and Shia militias. Sounds like the political side is going well but violence continues because the enemy believes that continuing war is  their victory.

The Gore video is amazing.  He strongly attacks Bush I for being soft on Saddam in years prior.  It is perhaps easier to understand as a 1992 Clinton attack piece in the general campaign with the VP candidate with his 'hawk' credentials delivering the attack. Amazingly they weakened Bush for raising taxes when they would raise them more and for being soft on tyrants when they would be softer.  Masterful political selling if deception is your product.

Here is the Prime Minister of Iraq from yesterday:

Our Common Struggle
America had its civil war. Why expect freedom to come easy to Iraq?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq--Americans keen to understand the ongoing struggle for a new Iraq can be guided by the example of their own history. In the 1860s, your country fought a great struggle of its own, a civil war that took hundreds of thousands of lives but ended in the triumph of freedom and the birth of a great power. Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation signaled the destruction of the terrible institution of slavery, and the rise of a country dedicated, more than any other in the world of nation-states then and hence, to the principle of human liberty.

Our struggle in Iraq is similar to the great American quest, and is perhaps even more complicated. As your country was fighting that great contest over its unity and future, Iraq was a province of an Ottoman empire steeped in backwardness and ignorance. A half a century later, the British began an occupation of Iraq and drew the borders of contemporary Iraq as we know them today. Independence brought no relief to the people of our land. They were not given the means of political expression, nor were they to know political arrangements that respected their varied communities.

Under the Baath tyranny, Iraqis were to endure a brutal regime the likes of which they had never known before. Countless people were put to death on the smallest measure of suspicion. Wars were waged by that regime and our national treasure was squandered without the consent of a population that was herded into costly and brutal military campaigns. Today when I hear the continuous American debate about the struggle raging in Iraq, I can only recall with great sorrow the silence which attended the former dictator's wars.

It is perhaps true that only people who are denied the gift of liberty can truly appreciate its full meaning and bounty. I look with admiration at the American debate surrounding the Iraq war, and I admire even those opinions that differ from my own. As prime minister of Iraq I have been subjected to my share of criticism in that American debate, but I harbor no resentment and fully understand that the basic concerns of Americans are the safety of their young people fighting in our country and the national interests of their society. As this American debate goes on, I am guided and consoled by the sacred place of freedom and liberty in the American creed and in America's notion of itself.

War being what it is, the images of Iraq that come America's way are of car bombs and daily explosions. Missing from the coverage are the great, subtle changes our country is undergoing, the birth of new national ideas and values which will in the end impose themselves despite the death and destruction that the terrorists have been hell-bent on inflicting on us. Those who endured the brutality of the former regime, those who saw the outside world avert its gaze from their troubles, know the magnitude of the change that has come to Iraq. A fundamental struggle is being fought on Iraqi soil between those who believe that Iraqis, after a long nightmare, can retrieve their dignity and freedom, and others who think that oppression is the order of things and that Iraqis are doomed to a political culture of terror, prisons and mass graves. Some of our neighbors have made this struggle more lethal still, they have placed their bets on the forces of terror in pursuit of their own interests.

When I became prime minister a year and a half ago, my appointment emerged out of a political process unique in our neighborhood: Some 12 million voters took part in our parliamentary elections. They gave voice to their belief in freedom and open politics and their trust imposed heavy burdens on all of us in political life. Our enemies grew determined to drown that political process in indiscriminate violence, to divert attention from the spectacle of old men and women casting their vote, for the first time, to choose those who would govern in their name. You may take this right for granted in America, but for us this was a tantalizing dream during the decades of dictatorship and repression.

Before us lies a difficult road--the imperative of national reconciliation, the drafting of a new social contract that acknowledges the diversity of our country. It was in that spirit that those who drafted our constitution made provisions for amending it. The opponents of the constitution were a minority, but we sought for our new political life the widest possible measure of consensus. From the outset, I committed myself to the principle of reconciliation, pledged myself to its success. I was determined to review and amend many provisions and laws passed in the aftermath of the fall of the old regime, among them the law governing de-Baathification. I aimed to find the proper balance between those who opposed the decrees on de-Baathification and others who had been victims of the Baath Party. This has not been easy, but we have stuck to that difficult task.

Iraq is well on its way to passing a new oil law that would divide the national treasure among our provinces and cities, based on their share of the population. This was intended to reassure those provinces without oil that they will not be left behind and consigned to poverty. The goal is to repair our oil sector, open the door for new investments and raise the standard of living of Iraqi families. Our national budget this year is the largest in Iraq's history, its bulk dedicated to our most neglected provinces and to improving the service sector in the country as a whole. Our path has been made difficult by the saboteurs and the terrorists who target our infrastructure and our people, but we have persevered, even though our progress has been obscured by the scenes of death and destruction.

Daily we still fight the battle for our security. We lose policemen and soldiers to the violence, as do the multinational forces fighting along our side. We are training and equipping a modern force, a truly national and neutral force, aided by our allies. This is against the stream of history here, where the armed forces have traditionally been drawn into political conflicts and struggles. What gives us sustenance and hope is an increase in the numbers of those who volunteer for our armed forces, which we see as proof of the devotion of our people to the stability and success of our national government.

We have entered into a war, I want it known, against militias that had preyed upon the weakness of the national government and in the absence of law and order in some of our cities, even in some of the districts in Baghdad, imposed their own private laws--laws usually driven by extremism and a spirit of vengeance. Some of these militias presented themselves as defenders of their own respective communities against other militias. We believe that the best way to defeat these militias is to build and enhance the capabilities of our government as a defender of the rights of our citizens. A stable government cannot coexist with these militias.

Our conflict, it should be emphasized time and again, has been fueled by regional powers that have reached into our affairs. Iraq itself is eager to build decent relations with its neighbors. We don't wish to enter into regional entanglements. Our principle concern is to heal our country. We have reached out to those among our neighbors who are worried about the success and example of our democratic experiment, and to others who seem interested in enhancing their regional influence.

Our message has been the same to one and all: We will not permit Iraq to be a battleground for other powers. In the contests and ambitions swirling around Iraq, we are neutral and dedicated to our country's right to prosperity and a new life, inspired by a memory of a time when Baghdad was--as Washington is today--a beacon of enlightenment on which others gazed with admiration. We have come to believe, as Americans who founded your country once believed, that freedom is a precious inheritance. It is never cheap but the price is worth paying if we are to rescue our country.

Mr. Maliki is prime minister of Iraq.
5870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 13, 2007, 11:09:31 AM
Crafty, I have also been a huge fan of the Journal and for me also it is/was always because of the editorial page.  I was first referred there by my college economics professor, Walter Heller, who made us read his contributions there in the mid-1970s.  I peeked around a little further and found that he was only on their Board of Contributors only because of his dissenting view; the the main editorials made far more sense to me.  Heller was chief economist for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and was poised to take that role for Ted Kennedy who nearly beat Jimmy Carter in the 1980 primaries with a platform of gas rationing and national health care.  (Sound like liberals 28 years later)  Meanwhile Robert Bartley and his staff at the Journal were all over the underpinnings and advancement of supply-side economics and writing editorials like the classic 'Keynes is Dead', which claimed that if inflation and unemployment can worsen simultaneously, they could also be solved simultaneously.  They were right.

I assume that Murdoch is a market, media and investment genius and wouldn't buy Dow Jones just to squander the brand names of Barrons and the WSJ. The Journal has always maintained a very real firewall between its newsroom and its editorial page so the changes in the newsroom don't alarm me.
5871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: June 08, 2007, 06:38:55 PM
The key phrase to me was not the news in the news story, that the opposition was voicing opposition, it was the background information that concerns me:

"Congress, which has granted Chavez the power to rule by decree..."

I will look into the points you made and I hope others will post, especially Denny, who is there.  By his cartoon post that shows Chavez speaking on all channels, I don't think he agrees with you, but hopefully we will get a first-hand account in his own words.
5872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela on: June 08, 2007, 12:00:56 PM
I didn't see an English language thread for Venezuela, so I hope this can be a place to exchange information and views.

It's nice to see Denny (captainccs) post.  I remember his wisdom on investing and life posted elsewhere.  I was concerned for his safety when I saw a gap between posts of Chavez dissent on his site at 

I wonder what people in Venezuela can or should do to get their country back, and I wonder what people in the U.S. and other countries can or should do to help.

Here is a Reuters (English) version of the Douglas Barrios story since I can't read the Spanish version. Click on the link to include the protest photo with the story.

Students Take TV Fight to Venezuela Congress

Reuters,     Jun 07, 2007

Thousands of students and university rectors and professors march for freedom of expression in Caracas. (Photo)

CARACAS—Students took their 11-day-old protest over President Hugo Chavez's shutdown of the last nationwide opposition television station to Venezuela's Congress on Thursday, in a rare appearance by the opposition in the legislature.

Addressing the 167-member body, where there have been no opposition lawmakers since 2005, student leader Douglas Barrios said daily demonstrations against the closure of RCTV would continue.

"Today our classes are in the street," he said in remarks that were broadcast nationally.

At one point, Barrios took off his T-shirt in the signature red of Chavez, saying Venezuelans could refuse to wear the government uniform—a reference to the opposition's charge that Chavez intimidates people into displaying support for him.

The closing has become the rallying cry for a nascent pro-democracy student movement that critics of the president hope can help fill a void left by a weak opposition in the polarized OPEC nation.

Congress, which has granted Chavez the power to rule by decree, organized a debate over the station's closure between pro- and anti-government students and the government required all Venezuelan television and radio to broadcast the session.

The anti-Chavez students—part of a mainly middle-class movement that has at times drawn tens of thousands onto the streets—walked out after the first pro-government speech, complaining the event was politicized.

They were escorted past Chavez supporters outside by security forces with anti-riot shields. Some were driven off in a troop carrier.
5873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 07, 2007, 12:59:56 AM
Thanks for the Newt speech.  I would like to read it closer and offer my comments later.

Here is a new Obama speech.  Near as I can tell he is going after the Edwards' 'Two Americas' theme. He says he has new ideas, but blames American poverty on the war, and mainly supports expanding federal programs in order to 'strengthen the family'.  In the end it all comes back to what I would call socialized medicine. Also, by my read, he is saying he has God on his side, then mentions Pat Robertson in the next breath.
(Post was too long; read the speech at the link, if interested.)
5874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: June 07, 2007, 12:34:59 AM
Brian,  I appreciate your correction on the 'October Surprise' post, but then you re-posted the unsubstantiated smear from wikipedia. At the link, wikipedia makes clear that they don't have a source to cite for its validity. They are the messenger, not the source and they are saying that they don't have a source.  Or a second source.  I stand by what I wrote that there is "no credible mark in history tying the Reagan campaign to delaying the release of the hostages". 

You posted: "
President Bush participates in Satanic rituals at a place called the Bohemian Grove.  Every year in July a group of all-male prominent business, political, media types meet for two weeks to conduct global policies, take drugs, dress like woman, and have sex among other things." 

Sorry I don't watch the videos, but I am not aware any credible information that Bush has taken drugs since being elected to anything or has ever partaken in gay male sex.  If he had, it would affect my view of him morally but not establish a conspiracy in my mind for anything beyond drug use and gay sex.

I get absolutely no red flag from knowing that George Bush and John Kerry both went to Yale.
"George W. Bush '68 [was] President of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity ...John Kerry '66 [was] President of the Yale Political Union...Members of DKE and the YPU do not often cross paths on campus."

"Shouldn't it be a red flag when some of the most powerful people meet and there is no media converage? "  - No flag for me.  I wish they would talk. 

"Is it too far fetched to consider that our President has more allegiance to a secret society such as Skull and Bones than to the American people?"  - Yes, it's too far-fetched, and it reminds me of the cheap argument that Bush and Cheney would rather enrich a fews friends they worked with for a few years than do their very best for the American people.  I just don't equate making mistakes or choosing policies different than I would choose with having bad motives and the wrong interests in mind.

I joked for years that cold viruses are bottled and released by cold remedy companies.  I don't happen to believe that, and I certainly don't believe Don Rumsfeld favors an American Bird Flu outbreak because of a stock he owns.  Good grief, what in his behavior makes anyone think he needs the money that badly.  God Bless his right to invest in public health oriented, biotech stocks. If his ownership is a public fact, then I assume the investment was made with full disclosure. That kind of accusation should make every rational person afraid to enter public life, IMHO.

Back to the first example - if Reagan had negotiated with the Iranians to hold American hostages LONGER, wouldn't they later want to humiliate him with proof of that treason, to put it lightly.  Sorry, I just don't buy it.

In each story there just seems to be something missing.  What were Bush and Kerry conspiring to do? I don't believe Kerry was conspiring to lose. Why would he?  What other evil act did the 1980 Reagan campaign commit to make anyone believe they would risk siding with hostage takers holding Americans.  Important people have met in the wilderness setting you refer to in California, I don't see it as a cause of globalization or anything else.

I believe that you 'could go on and on' , but even if one of these loose strands turns out to be true, in my view that wouldn't validate the rest of them. They are not tightly interwoven.   - respectfully, Doug.

5875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Geo Political matters on: June 04, 2007, 10:01:50 AM
Adding to the questions and challenges that GM posted, I disagree with the  'October surprise' part of Brian's post:

If you will recall during the Iran Hostage Crisis, Ahmedimjad was one of the captors.  The hostages were released on the 444th day after Regan’s inauguration.  This is known as the 'October Surprise.' A deal was supposedly made between the terrorists and the Regan administration (Karl Rove) to NOT release the hostages until after Regan defeated Carter in the election!"

The wikipedia statement admits it lacks a citation.  The phrase 'October surprise' was supposed to be the opposite - the incumbent would time some major event, such as the negotiated release of the hostages, with the final weeks of the campaign to steal the momentum.  There is no reference to Karl Rove at the link and no credible mark in history tying the Reagan campaign to delaying the release of the hostages. 

The hostage crisis was the captors fault.  The fact that America was incapable of solving it was a symbol of the weakness that Reagan was running against.

5876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: June 02, 2007, 11:49:23 AM
Note: It's nice that the system warns of a new reply while typing. CCP covers the Newt story well but I'll put this in anyway FWIW.  I agree with CCP that it seems to be a run for President strategy.
"What did [Newt] say about Rove"

Marc, my comments slipped back a page on the 2008 Presidential thread, but the link is here of Newt ripping Bush and Rove in the current New Yorker.  6 pages or so of disgruntled party faithful, but worth the read.

Not in the that article, but Delay's book says Newt couldn't keep focus, kept jumping to new ideas.  I think Dick Armey said of Delay that he combined his solid conservatism with earmarks and pet spending for members' reelections.  My comment was that all those negatives seem to hold some truth, though I love all 3 of them when they stick to their principles.    - Doug
5877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 01, 2007, 02:10:54 PM
This could go under humor or politics or just left alone, but I'll stick it here for the media perspective.  I saw Al Gore on the PBS News hour yesterday.  I'm no linguist, but when Gwen Ifill tried to pin Gore down on whether we were lied into war, Gore said that Bush made an "explicit implication...",  I couldn't help but wonder where that slip would have been re-broadcast if Bush had fumbled those words.  Probably all over Letterman, Leno, etc., maybe the NY Times.

I found the PBS transcript and emailed the tip to OpinionJournal, who did the following piece ripping Gore pretty badly with it yesterday, and gave me a credit at the end for the tip.

Assaulted Nuts

Is Al Gore a genuine intellectual, as he would like us to believe, or is he just pretentious à la John Kerry? He has a new book out called "The Assault on Reason," and we suppose reading it would shed some light on the question. But life is short.

Here's an excerpt from an interview Gore gave Gwen Ifill of PBS's "NewsHour":

    Ifill: You write of a "determined disinterest" in learning the truth, on the part of the Bush administration on pre-war intelligence. You accuse the White House of an "unprecedented and sustained campaign of mass deception," very strong words. And you say that President Bush "outsourced the truth." Are you suggesting that President Bush deliberately misled the American people when it comes to the Iraq war?

    Gore: Well, there was certainly a coordinated effort in the White House and in the Department of Defense simultaneously to convey the image of a mushroom cloud exploding over an American city and to link it to a specific scenario, the very strong and explicit implication that Saddam Hussein was going to develop nuclear weapons and give them to Osama bin Laden, and that would result in nuclear explosions in American cities.

"Explicit implication," huh? How do you know it wasn't an implicit explication? Such slipshod thinking leads one to think that Gore does have more in common with Kerry than with, say, Pat Moynihan.
5878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: June 01, 2007, 01:45:18 PM
Peggy Noonan column below rips Bush for breaking the conservative coalition into pieces.  As a conservative, the truth hurts.  For her, it started in Jan 2005 with the the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world.  For me it began with the partnership with Ted Kennedy for an expanded federal takeover of schools.  By the time the Medicare prescription drug entitlement came around I was only a Republican if faced with a choice like Kerry (or Hillary), otherwise homeless.  Even when he makes the right decisions, like tax cuts or perhaps Iraq, he can't explain them, so public support flows to the opponents. Noonan makes the obvious point on immigration - do the first part first.

Too Bad
President Bush has torn the conservative coalition asunder.

Peggy Noonan, WSJ
Friday, June 1, 2007 12:00 a.m. EDT

What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker--"At this point the break became final." That's not what's happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the "Too bad" governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.

I suspect the White House and its allies have turned to name calling because they're defensive, and they're defensive because they know they have produced a big and indecipherable mess of a bill--one that is literally bigger than the Bible, though as someone noted last week, at least we actually had a few years to read the Bible. The White House and its supporters seem to be marshalling not facts but only sentiments, and self-aggrandizing ones at that. They make a call to emotions--this is, always and on every issue, the administration's default position--but not, I think, to seriously influence the debate.

They are trying to lay down markers for history. Having lost the support of most of the country, they are looking to another horizon. The story they would like written in the future is this: Faced with the gathering forces of ethnocentric darkness, a hardy and heroic crew stood firm and held high a candle in the wind. It will make a good chapter. Would that it were true!

If they'd really wanted to help, as opposed to braying about their own wonderfulness, they would have created not one big bill but a series of smaller bills, each of which would do one big clear thing, the first being to close the border. Once that was done--actually and believably done--the country could relax in the knowledge that the situation was finally not day by day getting worse. They could feel some confidence. And in that confidence real progress could begin.

The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.

One of the things I have come to think the past few years is that the Bushes, father and son, though different in many ways, are great wasters of political inheritance. They throw it away as if they'd earned it and could do with it what they liked. Bush senior inherited a vibrant country and a party at peace with itself. He won the leadership of a party that had finally, at great cost, by 1980, fought itself through to unity and come together on shared principles. Mr. Bush won in 1988 by saying he would govern as Reagan had. Yet he did not understand he'd been elected to Reagan's third term. He thought he'd been elected because they liked him. And so he raised taxes, sundered a hard-won coalition, and found himself shocked to lose his party the presidency, and for eight long and consequential years. He had many virtues, but he wasted his inheritance.

Bush the younger came forward, presented himself as a conservative, garnered all the frustrated hopes of his party, turned them into victory, and not nine months later was handed a historical trauma that left his country rallied around him, lifting him, and his party bonded to him. He was disciplined and often daring, but in time he sundered the party that rallied to him, and broke his coalition into pieces. He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering.

Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.
5879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 30, 2007, 10:33:10 PM
CCP, I see your post came through as I was writing - looks like our observations overlap...

I like David Gordon's site and I appreciate the link to maplight.  It's important to track money and watch over the people's representatives as closely as we can.  After that, I just don't follow their logic to its conclusion.  For example, if a pro-life organization gives to a pro-life congressman, or a trade group gives to a free trade supporting congressman, and they vote in the way that they already said they would vote, what have we uncovered?  It seems that this system needs to track at least one more variable, such as changing a position in correlation with timing of the money in order to support the claim that "money buys votes".

Quoting the original post: "I probably sound absurdly naive here. But truth is, I can't quite figure out why these contributions are even legal."

My answer:  Likewise, maybe I'm missing something, but let's say you have a legitimate business and the regulators are considering legislation that you think is unwise, unfair and would devastate or destroy your investment and lifework.  This kind of thing happens all the time.  Shouldn't you have the same right to vote, to speak, and to contribute to campaigns that everyone else has?

Let's take his example: "You find out that on H.R.5684, the U. S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, special interests in favor of this bill (including pharmaceutical companies and aircraft makers) gave each senator an average of $244,000. Lobbyists opposed to the bill (such as anti-poverty groups and consumer groups) coughed up only $38,000 per senator.  Surprise! The bill passed."

I've admitted my pro-free-trade views, so forgive me but I have no idea why an anti-poverty or pro-consumer group would oppose a free trade agreement with Oman or how they would justify soliciting money from their members to oppose the sale of American, life saving medications into a friendly foreign market or even into a questionable one.  In my view, it's too bad a pharmaceutical or aircraft maker feels they need to contribute to a campaign for the right to sell American products overseas.  The fact that there is more money on one side of the issue doesn't tell me anything about whether of not money changed a vote or whether or not the greater public interest got a bum deal.

I'm not saying there is no corruption of motives, but money also plays a positive influence.  We saw recently a roomful of Republican candidates debate, share the stage and microphone and receive equal time, no matter how little support they really had.  It takes serious amounts of money to run for high office and mount a winning campaign, so contributions raised are one indicator of which candidates are connecting in the campaign. As they see they aren't connecting, some hopefully will drop out voluntarily along the way.  If anti-special interest people want campaigns to be public financed in equal amounts, then we might see a hundred or a thousand candidates share the stage and demand equal time. 

Don't we spend more money getting out the message on laundry detergent than we do on candidates and positions on public policy?

If we could get the money out of politics, we would then have the pundits, editors and news anchors controlling the message.  Some might think that would be better.  I don't.
5880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: May 30, 2007, 11:25:58 AM
CCP,  Strange story.  In my narrow mind it would be the parents asking the school to watch what the kids are eating while under their watch.  The parent-child-public school relationship keeps getting twisted.  Now the school (or village) raises the child and the parents play a limited role. (?) My current perspective comes from sex ed taught in coed classes to 6th grade.  They send my daughter (now 7th grade) home with family discussion questions to fill out, where I might think the teaching should come from the family and the questions go to the school to make sure they aren't undermine what we teach. 

Your comment on the NJ Gov. is funny.  I saw him advocate seatbelt use on a national commercial last night.  Choosing more salad and less pizza is nice if it is market driven, and Orwellian if mandated.  Maybe we can have surveillance cameras over the salt shakers - ok, this isn't very funny.

The role of the 'state' in obesity is inevitable if we accept the idea that the state is responsible for our health care.  It was supposed to be a joke that after tobacco the government would go after fast food...

Back to the science, please expand on your idea that the answer to obesity will come from medicine when you get a chance.
5881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 30, 2007, 10:40:31 AM
Gingrich rips the Bush Administration

(First, a poll update: Rasmussen has Romney passing McCain, just slightly,for second place of the Republicans.)

Gingrich picks a fight with the White House. If interested, read The New Yorker article "Party Unfaithful - the Republican Implosion" for context.  I understand the strategy of separate from Bush, but I don't follow him on all the details.  Basically he attacks Rove for a bad strategy in 2004, but in 2004 Bush added 25% to his 2000 vote and held the house and senate.  To me it would make more sense to criticize everything they did after successful reelection.  As we look back now at the Gingrich congress, there is plenty of open criticism between Newt, Delay and Dick Armey, among others.  Unfortunately, each point has some validity IMO.  (I see Newt as a policy and strategy expert; I don't see him as a future President.)
Excerpt from the article, regarding Newt: "...he blames not only Iraq and Hurricane Katrina but also Karl Rove’s “maniacally dumb” strategy in 2004, which left Bush with no political capital. “All he proved was that the anti-Kerry vote was bigger than the anti-Bush vote,” Gingrich said. He continued, “The Bush people deliberately could not bring themselves to wage a campaign of choice”—of ideology, of suggesting that Kerry was “to the left of Ted Kennedy”—and chose instead to attack Kerry’s war record.

The only way to keep the White House in G.O.P. hands, Gingrich said, would be to nominate someone who, in essence, runs against Bush, in the style of Nicolas Sarkozy, the center-right cabinet minister who just won the French Presidency by making his own President, Jacques Chirac, his virtual opponent."

Bush could have run on tax cut success or on getting another shot at re-making social security, but the issue of the day was war, and backbone on war was the weakness of his opponent.  Bush needed to win on that question in order to ever have any say on the rest.
5882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 26, 2007, 07:18:44 PM
"Amazing how this CBO study received absolutely no coverage and amazing that the Republicans have not made use of it.
Perhaps Newt Gingrich, who certainly had a big hand in the welfare reform, will use it if he runs"

Agreed. Welfare reform and also capital gains rate cuts were the two big accomplishments of that congress, causing the great economic expansion to continue in this country.  I think most people, via our media, remember Newt for the shutdown (Clinton's fault) and his "whither on the vine" remark (which had to do with a obsoleting a bureaucracy, not cutting off our grandparents) and they remember Clinton for a great economy (where credit should go more to Newt and even Reagan).  I already read the rapid response of liberal bloggers to this study saying these numbers are skewed because the start date of 1991 was a recession year.  (You might recall - that wasn't much of a recession.)  The Democrat candidates pick stats that start at the height of the bubble to show what little progress has been made.  You just exposed which numbers the media will latch onto.

IMO, public policy has a (limited) interest in watching out for the well being of the poorest among us, but no legitimate interest in the so-called 'widening gap' which means putting limits on success. 

5883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes, Dutch Drug Policy on: May 26, 2007, 06:29:29 PM
Crafty and all, My two cents of personal experience with the Dutch system.  Amsterdam had a nice reputation for being mostly free of violent crime because of so-called legalization of prostitution and drugs, but I was attacked there while walking down a city street in December 1991.  As the article suggests, hard drugs and trafficking were still illegal and so the associated crime still existed, like anywhere else.  I can only speculate on my attackers, but they were not Dutch.  People there who I told the story to believed them to be "North Africans" and most likely feeding a heroin habit or involved in trafficking.  Short story is that they did not get any money from me, but I did need my head stitched up afterward in a Dutch hospital.  Wish I had been traveling with one of you that day.
5884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 24, 2007, 02:53:15 PM
The Poor in America keep getting Richer

"Among all families with children, the poorest fifth had the fastest overall earnings growth over the 15 years measured."

The poor have been getting less poor, according to a new study by the Congressional Budget Office.  On average, CBO found that low-wage households with children had incomes after inflation that were more than one-third higher in 2005 than in 1991.

The CBO results don't fit the prevailing media stereotype of the U.S. economy as a richer take all affair -- which may explain why you haven't read about them:

    * Among all families with children, the poorest fifth had the fastest overall earnings growth over the 15 years measured.
    * The poorest even had higher earnings growth than the richest 20 percent.
    * The earnings of these poor households are about 80 percent higher today than in the early 1990s.

What happened?

    * CBO says the main causes of this low-income earnings surge have been a combination of welfare reform, expansion of the earned income tax credit and wage gains from a tight labor market, especially in the late stages of the 1990s expansion.
    * Though cash welfare fell as a share of overall income (which includes government benefits), earnings from work climbed sharply as the 1996 welfare reform pushed at least one family breadwinner into the job market.

Earnings growth tapered off as the economy slowed in the early part of this decade, but earnings for low-income families have still nearly doubled in the years since welfare reform became law.  Some two million welfare mothers have left the dole for jobs since the mid-1990s.  Far from being a disaster for the poor, as most on the left claimed when it was debated, welfare reform has proven to be a boon.

Sources: NCPA, CBO, and WSJ Editorial, "The Poor Get Richer," Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2007.
5885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: American Politics on: May 23, 2007, 01:39:11 PM
The Great Forgotten Debate
Forty years ago, Reagan taught RFK a lesson that ought to be remembered.
By Paul Kengor
National Review referred yesterday to this historic debate with excellent  commentary and context:

You can read the text of the debate here:

My take, rather than a win or a loss, was that the answers from the two main players were far more civil than we see in the arguments of today.
5886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Proposed mex-us-can currency called Amero on: May 18, 2007, 02:06:57 AM
Brian (and anyone interested), 

First, a note of appreciation that disagreements here are discussed so respectfully, sticking strictly to persuasion and substance.  We draw different conclusions but I find a lot of agreement with your underlying points.

You are correct that the federal gov't operated in the past by taxing trade.  I grudgingly concede that point and would always prefer to be on the side of the founding fathers.  Our constitutional structure changed drastically however in 1913 with the 16th amendment giving power the feds to tax all income.  Prior to that, the federal government had very few possibilities to raise money.    In their wisdom, they saw the income tax as a box of snakes not to be opened.  Today, there is no real chance of going back andrepealing the 16th IMO.  Accepting that reality, I want the income tax to be wider in coverage and lower in rate and I oppose almost all other taxes.

China and Mexico are hugely important questions today for trade policy.  Less important, but symbolic is our relationship with Cuba.  As I see it we have limited options with trade law:  a) no trade, b) no restrictions, or c) a complex set of taxes and regulations where the governments each set rules, levy taxes and make prohibitions.  I support a version of b) no restrictions with limited exceptions, certainly those you mention of slave labor and restricting technology sales that weaken our national security.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I see you as an advocate of small government who favors c) a complex set of taxes and regulations governing cross-border trade.  If we assumed in theory that a complex, perfect set of rules could level the field, correcting unfairness related to labor laws, pollution and other differences between the countries, I would still argue that our bumbling bureacracy could not and would not find that mix of policies.  Instead they would over-tax, over-regulate, and make things worse.  Case in point would be the income tax.  In theory it's a great way to raise the small amount of money that the federal government actually needs to carry out its constitutional functions and not place an excessive burden on anyone.  But it grew into a 13,000 page formula that puts an anchor on our economy and raises more money than all of the states and localities combined.  So now we (partially) fund a thousand and fifty separate federal social spending programs that were never envisioned by the founders, taxing us just because they can.  No, IMO the regulators, taxers and bureaucrats are not capable of taking an imperfect playing field and applying just the right mix of taxes and regulations.  It's even worse in trade policy because over-taxation and over-regulation cause retaliation from the other side and vice versa.

Slave labor exists in China and real, personal liberties are absent in China, but much of China has economic liberties and in some areas they have more economic liberty than here including lower tax rates for example.  Opening trade with China has not led to the overthrow of the oppressors, while the opposite policy with Cuba and North Korea has also not led to the overthrow of their oppressors.  So the policy choice IMO becomes based on what gives us the most influence in that direction and what benefits the people of each country the most.

Mexico is another unique example and their economy continues to be dysfunctional.  During the negotiations for NAFTA, it was debated whether they benefit more than us, but they were phasing out high tariffs and we were phasing out low tariffs.  My view is that anything that helps build wealth and industry in Mexico short of stealing from us is in our own best interest. 

If I recall correctly, NAFTA as a printed document was a foot thick.  If I wrote a free trade agreement it would fit on a cocktail napkin.  We don't have an all-other-things-held-constant economy to compare, but I think the phaseout of tariffs had a slight net-positive impact on both economies.  Mexico still lacks enough wealth to demand US goods and that hurts us as well as them.

For every example of jobs or services going to foreigners, there is a story of business won around the globe for the Americans.  Strangely, the more jobs we lose, the more jobs and income we grow in total.  Trade is all about specialization and utilizing comparative advantage.  America is the best at many things, but not at low-skill, high-labor content manufacturing.

Quoting: "Bush made a visit to India, he gave away nuclear technology to that country"... "And let us not forget the fact that just because we are allied with someone today does not mean we will be friendly with them tomorrow.  Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind."   - In the first part, I think that's true.  India has a complex relationship with key nations in the world. For example, we are cooperating with their enemy Pakistan.  They are fighting our common enemy, al Qaida.  Their consumers are competing with us to buy oil in the global market, and they have flirtations and issues with our strategic competitors of China and Russia.  I don't know why we would give them anything free, but getting more energy around the world to come from nuclear sources is good in certain ways, such as replacing the use of fossil fuels and lessening dependency and currency flow to bad places like Iran.  Our being there is a way to try to keep the nuclear technology from going toward weaponry.  Also I imagine that most nuclear energy technology relates to the safety systems.  It is certainly in everyone's interest to have their nuclear plants built to US standards and not in the mold of the Soviet's Chernobyl.  Past cooperations with Iraq and Afghanistan had to do with (IMO) a past policy of containment of the Soviet Union, which turned out to be an amazing accomplishment.

"China owns a large majority our national debt."   - True, I believe, but not all bad.  Our debt should be smaller and our deficit should be gone, but the main cause is excessive federal spending and the main solution is to stop doing that.   Tradewise, we enjoy the purchasing power benefit from low cost goods and we enjoy a capital infusion benefit while they hold our paper.  As a potential enemy, China could conceivably bring down the dollar or the US economy.  The other side of the same coin is that our paper is their largest holding.  They lack enough diversity in their investments.  Why would they collapse our dollar or our economy as that would most certainly collapse theirs.  Even a point of inflation or a devaluation of the dollar brings down the value of their investment.  In other words, their interests just keep getting more closely tied to ours because of an open trade relationship.

Yes, we see more transactions around the world turning to the Euro.  We have been spoiled for quite some time having the only real world currency.  Yes, the nations of Europe traded away some sovereignty to elevate the EU and I think many are questioning that today.  But rather than compare European integration with the US and Mexico, I would compare it with Indiana's relationship with Ohio and Minnesota's relationship with Wisconsin.  For 200+ years we have had easy trade across our internal borders, whereas in Europe, if you reach out the same distance you have crossed several borders.  The language changes, the telecom standards were different, the currencies were different, postage, you name it.  They might not even drive on the same side of the road.   Here we can hop on the interstate or send a box with UPS and not give it a thought.  IMO Europe is trying to match what we already have rather than leading the world in a new direction. The Euro has had a successful launch.  In the long run maybe it is good for the US to have a worthy competitor for currency.  The European economy, OTOH, has underperformed and their slack is hurting our exports.
5887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Proposed mex-us-can currency called Amero on: May 14, 2007, 12:12:14 PM
Interesting post, thanks for bringing up a number of issues for discussion.  In general, I am pro-free-trade both for economic growth, but also I believe the right to buy and sell goods and services is a basic economic liberty.  Reasonable exceptions for me are fine and would include national security concerns or preventing support for slave labor, etc.

If you believe as I do that the USA is the greatest nation on earth, then by definition all trading partner nations are flawed to some extent, even worse than us.  We still should allow transactions between consenting adults unless harm is caused, like selling technology to enemies, etc.

Be careful with labels.  Globalization in terms of economics is a fact and I think beneficial.  Loss of sovereignty is another matter.  Weve lost enough control over self government to Washington from the states and local jurisdictions and should not give any conrol over our nation to international bodies.

I think the federal reserve is a system that has performed well at least since the stagflation of the 1970s.  I dislike certain players and disagree with certain moves of the Fed, but the overall record has generally been good IMO.  I favor a single currency for the nations of North America called the US Dollar. That choice belongs to the others.  Economies of the Far East have done very well tying their currency to the dollar.  Canada has its pride and Mexico is not even an ally of the US right now, so other than cross border trade and wanting them to solve their own problems, I wouldn't tie our nations together any closer.

"A world currency and a 'new economic order' are also part of the elites plans for global governance." - Again, I think a distinction can easily be made between allowing global trade and losing national sovereignty.  Yes there are elites who envision global governance and they are already starting by proposing global regulations and 'global' taxes (on the 'rich').  They should be opposed aggressively at every turn.  A better strategy is the so-called association of democracies where we could make voluntary agreements and cooperations with countries that maintain certain minimal levels of human liberty and decency.

5888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 08, 2007, 11:38:42 PM
McCain is my least favorite of the leading Republicans running, but I'm posting this piece anyway written by Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, posted at the  candidates forum.  Pawlenty is co-chair of the McCain campaign and making his attempt to explain to conservatives why he supports McCain.  The posts that follow Pawlenty at that forum seem to focus on disapproval with a) McCain Feingold, b) gang of 14, and c) immigration.  I would add that he was a huge opponent of tax rate cuts, though his view has changed somewhat since.   - DM
Conservative Case for McCain   by Gov.Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)

"The 2008 Presidential election presents the Republican Party with a new opportunity to chart its future. For the first time in decades, a sitting president or vice president will not be a candidate to lead our country.

How will Republicans respond to this challenge?  Hopefully, by selecting a strong, tested national leader of uncommon courage.

History has shown that Americans elect their president based on the times and the challenges confronting our nation.  America is being tested in momentous ways, both domestically and internationally.

The times are calling out one of the finest public leaders in the modern history of our country – John McCain.  Like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, he powerfully expresses conservative principles in a common sense way.  John McCain’s unwavering courage, candor, character, and demonstrated willingness to take visionary risks to do what is right are all in the tradition of these great Republicans.

The next president will need all of these attributes and more in confronting the challenges we face both at home and abroad.

The pressure from the left to give up on Iraq will be immense.  We need a president whose life is a testament to fortitude under fire and courage in the face of challenges.  John McCain is a living example of such experience and leadership.

We need John McCain to keep America safe and strong.  Under President McCain, America will never surrender to the threats of extremists.

That same toughness will be required in addressing key issues at home.  The Republican Party spent twelve years in control of Congress, yet failed to curtail run-away spending.  For more than 20 years John McCain has been an unwavering voice on behalf of hardworking, taxpaying Americans.  He has been a lonely voice for spending restraint in the nation’s capitol and the leading advocate for “earmark reform.”

We also face an impending crisis in Social Security and Medicare.  As recent history has clearly illustrated, solving these issues will require almost unending political will.  Senator McCain’s record makes it clear he’s not afraid to tackle these challenges.

And you wouldn’t know it by listening to the mainstream media, but John McCain has been rock-solid on critical moral issues.  He campaigned hard for Arizona’s amendment to protect traditional marriage and has been consistently pro-life throughout his career.

It is often said that the best sermons are lived, not preached. Newsweek once wrote, “McCain’s character has withstood tests the average politician can only imagine … He may be the last of his kind.” I hope you will join me in supporting him."
5889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 08, 2007, 03:55:28 PM
I am closer to Newt than any of the others on the issues.  He loves to say "This is not about Newt Gingrich."  Once he enters the race it is about him and he has high negatives, plenty of enemies and very little crossover appeal IMO.  The 1994 Republican takeover of congress was amazing.  They had some great accomplishments in the majority such as capital gains rate cuts and  welfare reform, while constrained by an opposing president.  Other important things never got done such as reforming the budget process and rules.  Tax cuts are still limited by false forecasting methods that were never ended at CBO.

Unfair as it is, I think Giuliani or even McCain might get a pass on past marital issues where Newt will forever be punished, mostly because of the timing of his in relation to the Clinton impeachment (which wasn't even about infidelity).

CD wrote: "...stupidities of McCain-Feingold Act (Shame on McCain and the US Supreme Court!"  - Agree wholeheartedly!  The name alone is a clue, partnering with Feingold on campaign rules or Kennedy on education policy is a sign you are headed in the wrong direction from my point of view.  Shame on Bush for signing this when he already made clear that he saw everything flawed in it. 

I wish those in politics or on the court who don't like the constitution would go through the process of amending it rather than arbitrarily declaring which rights and provisions we have outgrown and are no longer operative.

5890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: May 05, 2007, 12:04:19 AM
Thanks for posting.  The act is called:"Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007".  - I'll keep an open mind to arguments otherwise, but my first reaction is that denying firearms and explosives to dangerous terrorists is a good idea (obviously), that the word "arbitrary" would mean the denial could be done without revealing sources and methods, and that the criteria would not require legal threshholds such as preponderance of the evidence, that would also require disclosure.  The Attorney General hopefully has good motives, and some oversight: congress, the President and the next election.  I think I'm as big a liberty fanatic as anyone, but I recognize that a serious enemy wants to cause serious carnage here. 

Like the FISA/surveillance issue, in the best case a tragedy is averted.  In the worst case an innocent person has accidental contact or communication with an offshoot or a contact of an alleged terrorist organization and might find that communications looked at or in this case that someone from Washington is blocking their ability to buy a firearm or or to buy expolsives.  I strongly support the "shall issue" wording of concealed carry permit laws, but see this an exception, as you should have with a felon, a psycho or 'an arbitrary block' signed by the Attorney General of the United states.  I don't don't see that as the end of second amendment rights.
A friend of mine owns a quarry of very hard rock that is broken form the ground with explosives.  He was questioned after the Oklahoma City bombing about whether anyone had ever approached him for explosives.  Post 9/11 and in the context of suicide bombers that can't be deterred with death penalty or any other law enforcement after the fact, I would hope that preventive policies are in place and from my point of view that their hands are not tied.
Meanwhile, here in the west suburbs of Minneapolis I received from law enforcement today a registered letter threatening serious legal consequences against me because my tenant has a vehicle in his private driveway with a sticker that is no longer current.  I guess I'd rather have them hunting terrorists.

5891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: May 03, 2007, 12:09:01 PM
Crafty made the following comment as part of a preface to an editorial on a current homeland security proposal:

"... but a President who chose and stands by an Attorney General who doesn't belive that habeas corpus is a Constitutional right has credibility problems of his own too."

Crafty, can you expand on what you meant.  I searched and found what you are likely referring to - the following exchange between Gonzales and Sen. Specter in a committee meeting this January:

Gonzales: There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away. ...

Specter: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in cases of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's an invasion or rebellion?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas. Doesn't say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except...

Specter: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.


I'm not an attorney, but wondered if Gonzales was making a correct technical point while creating a public relations blunder, or is there a real difference in views here.

In the US Constitution under the heading of 'Limits on Congress'  I see the only reference: "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

To the untrained eye, it would seem that a) the right of habeus, to not be detained long without charges filed, is presumed in the constitution, b) the limit placed is on Congress and not on the Commander in Chief in wartime, and c) the context of the threat of terrorism against public safety at this moment in time might persuasively be argued to comprise a "Rebellion or Invasion".

Presuming a right by reading the limits placed on it in the constitution didn't cut it in the (faulty) Kelo decision allowing taking of private property to give/sell to other private concerns.   I think it was the Justice Thomas dissent that pointed out the irony and tragedy that they couldn't have even entered or searched without permission or a warrant and they couldn't have gotten a warrant without probable cause, yet the majority ruled that they could take title and demolish it.  I wouldn't want to bet my life on presumed rights under activist judges.

Look forward to reading the thoughts of others on this.

5892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: May 03, 2007, 12:04:08 AM
Regarding the VDH piece just posted.  That is a great read from start to finish IMO.  Looking past the question of Baghdad, wouldn't it be nice if we tried this strategy toward world peace:

"Let Brazil export duty-free ethanol; drill in Anwar and off our coasts; build 20 or so nuclear reactors to replace natural gas and power batteries at night of small commuter cars; up the fleet average gas mileage; develop oil tar and oil shale; use alternative energies—and do all that inclusively rather than in an either/or strategy, and we can collapse the world price, and with it the strategic importance of this dangerous, dysfunctional, and ultimately irrelevant part of the world."

Considering the trillion dollars and thousands of lives going into war right now, isn't it amazing that we can't even agree on taking these simple steps to empower ourselves and depower the thugs of that region.
5893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Virginia Tech Shooting... on: April 20, 2007, 12:43:26 AM
This personal account is from an Oakland Univ. Prof in Michigan.  I find it analogous to the advance concerns about Cho and to illustrate CCP's comment about not know which sociopaths will be dangerous and which just have strange behaviors.

Op-Ed Contributor (NY Times)
The Killer in the Lecture Hall

Published: April 19, 2007

Rochester, Mich.

THE sticky note on my door was wiggling. It was a gift from a student.

Glued to the middle of it was a cockroach.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that I was an unpopular professor. To the contrary — according to student evaluations, I might as well have had a sign on my forehead that said “Kindly.”

I was told later that the cockroach was a symbol of love from — well, let’s call him Rick. Rick had recently moved into the lab across the hall from my office, where he spent the night in a sleeping bag under one of the benches.

Rick, who had been a student for more than a decade, sometimes whiled away his time discussing guns and explosives with some of the more munitions-inclined faculty members. He admitted that he kept his basement stocked with a variety of “armaments.”

Sometimes I wished I had an armament, although, like Virginia Tech, my university does not allow firearms on campus. I wished that because, not only did Rick attach love-cockroaches to my door and live across the hall from my office and possess a small armory, but Rick watched me all the time. Sometimes he followed me out to my car — just to make sure I was safe.

When I complained about Rick to the dean of students, I was told there was nothing to be done — after all, “students have rights, too.” Only after appealing to that dean’s boss and calling a raft of fellow professors who had also come to fear Rick’s strange behavior was I able to convince the administration to take grudging action; they restricted his ability to loiter in certain areas and began nudging him toward the classes he needed to graduate.

In a strange way, I could see the administration’s point. Rick looked fairly ordinary, at least when away from his sleeping bag and pet cockroaches. It must have seemed far more likely that Rick could sue for being thrown out of school, than that I — or anyone else — could ever be hurt. The easiest path, from their perspective, was to simply get me to shut up.

Many professors have run across more than their share of Ricks. At least one Virginia Tech professor noticed that Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people on campus on Monday, was potentially dangerous and did her best to warn the administration and the police. (So did at least two female students.) But there is only so much a teacher can do — “students have rights, too.”

It’s a simple fact that, for every deranged murderer like Mr. Cho there are thousands more oddballs just below the breaking point. I know one quasi-psychopathic incompetent, for example, who remained on the campus payroll for over a dozen years simply because his supervisor was afraid of being killed if he was fired.

It’s long been in fashion to believe that people are innately good, and that upbringing and environment are responsible for nasty personalities. But research is beginning to show that mean, sometimes outright evil behavior has a strong genetic component. Some of us, in other words, are truly born bad.

Researchers at King’s College London have recently determined that if one identical twin shows psychopathic traits, the other twin, who coincidentally shares precisely the same set of genes, has a very high probability of having the same psychopathic traits. But among fraternal twins, who share only half their genes, the chance that both twins will show psychopathic traits is far smaller. In other words, there is something suspiciously psychopath-inducing in some people’s genes.

What could it be? Medical images of the brain give tantalizing clues — the amygdala, the “fight or flight” decision-making center of the brain, may be smaller than usual, or some areas of the brain may glow only dimly because of low serotonin levels. We may not know precisely what set Mr. Cho off, but we are beginning to home in on the unusual differences in certain neurochemistries that can make people act in bizarre and dysfunctional ways.

Still, the Virginia Tech shootings have already led to calls for all sorts of changes: gun control, more mental health coverage, stricter behavior rules on campuses. Yes, in a perfect world, there would be no guns, no mental illness and no Cho Seung-Huis. But the world is very imperfect. Consider that Britain’s national experiment with gun-free living is proving to be a disaster, with violent and gun crime rates soaring.

In other words, most of the broad social “lessons” we are being told we must learn from the Virginia Tech shootings have little to do with what allowed the horrors to occur. This is about evil, and about how our universities are able to deal with it as a literary subject but not as a fact of life. Can administrators and deans really continue to leave professors and other college personnel to deal with deeply disturbed students on their own, with only pencils in their defense?

Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering at Oakland University, is the author of the forthcoming “Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend.”
5894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: April 19, 2007, 11:29:02 PM
Dick Morris makes a good headsup about the potential for crossover vote to swing the primaries on one side or the other, but I wouldn't predict that the either race will be decided that early or that a crossover would be effective.  I think both sides will be contested.  I'd rank myself as very high on the dislike-Hillary scale, and I can't imagine risking a crossover and adding momentum to a Obama or Edwards campaign when both are to the left of Hillary on paper.

If the Democratic race wraps up early, moderate Dems might crossover to vote for the moderate R, but that would be a sign that they would also support him in the general election.   Extreme leftists could try to help the weaker Republican.  But all the R candidates seem to be pro-war which is not moderate in these times, and trying to pick the other side's weakest candidate is a losing proposition.

So it's independents that hold the balance as they so often do.  Except for the war issue which could change in a year, Republican candidates seem to be positioned more to the center while the Democrats seem to be in a race to the left.

For the general election there is the possibility of a third party spoiler, depending on who feels unrepresenting when the nominations get resolved.
5895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: April 10, 2007, 12:00:02 PM
GM, Thanks for that. I was hoping to draw out why you felt that way and I likewise agree with your points.  I see most of the failures coming from the cumbersome nature of this huge democracy with our limits on power and multiple viewpoints trying to exert itself.  The electorate can't fully support the mission when the leaders are sloppy and inconsistent in explaining it.  Authorization of congress for the Iraq war would not have passed with bipartisan support without the promise to take it to the security council.  The approval of the security council would not have happened without framing the justification in terms of WMD and violations of the UN's previous resolutions.  The Iraq mission would not have bogged down so badly had we not given Saddam months and months and months to clean up weapons sites and prepare for an insurgency that would outlive him andif the enemy didn't know that support erodes with every American they kill.  The Syrians and Iranians cannot seriously feel militarily threatened by America when they see the quagmire in Iraq, the disapproval polls, and the anti-war momentum broadcasted continuously.  In the face of all that I guess I have even more admiration for the resolve of the leaders of this effort, though again, not their ability to communicate.  I think the above explains why Pakistan, Syria and Iran no longer feel heat from the promise that "either you are with us or you are against us".

I agree whole heatedly with your point about borders. National security is the reason IMO to support borders enforcement as tight as you so graphically describe. lol.  I am pro-free-trade, pro-legal-immigration and pro-guest-worker etc, but only in the context that America chooses and controls the numbers and needs that we fill with approvals for legal entry.  How can we possibly invest so much in security - hundreds of billions or trillions(?) of dollars, lose our right to walk from the ticket counter onto an airplane etc, and then have no idea who, why, where from, or how many people are entering our country???  Up here (MN) we joke about those pesky Canadians procuring our medical services and infiltrating our hockey games.  Other places they may complain about Mexicans.  But when we allow an illegal industry to flourish to the point of becoming organized crime, how can we not think we are also welcoming the next wave of terrorists?

Border politics, they say, is tricky.  You can't risk offending today's Hispanic-Americans or future voters who my be legalized along the way.  To me, an Hispanic American citizen is one of us,  not a minority.  I find it condescending to think people of certain origin cannot see a connection between border control and national security.  (Comments welcome)

5896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: April 10, 2007, 01:21:52 AM
GM, interesting comments.

 "dems (with a few exceptions) think the global jihad is just some neocon conspiracy..."

It is true that the vocal left put more energy into blaming Bush etc. than blaming the enemy for our troubles.  They also pretend that nothing was the matter in Iraq before 'we' went in and messed it up.  There was a Hillary parody on Saturday Night Live illustrating that everyone knows and accepts that all these statements and positions on Iraq and the so-called war on terror are just what is necessary to win power.  It's is doubtful that these wroters oppose her, so I take their underlying message to be that everyone understands the silly anti-war and anti-American-power rhetoric is just saying what is necessary to get nominated and elected. The same people would expect that she or others would be thoughtful and responsible leaders AFTER being elected.  In other words, getting to power is more important than fighting the enemy only because they are out of power.  If they were in power they would fight the enemy.  That theory is tested with the changeover of power in congress.  As a party, Dems have the possibility to vote for an immediate end to all funding of the hostilities they allegedly oppose.  But as they get closer to power they back off of their own rhetoric.  Through Google news I found evidence from our favorite source - world socialist web site: "

In a declaration of support for an extended and open-ended US occupation of Iraq, two leading Democratic senators (Carl Levin, Chuck Schumer) told national television audiences Sunday that under no circumstances would the Democratic congressional majority cut off funding for the war."


Meanwhile on the other side:  "The republicans are fighting a half-assed war against the global jihad"

My first reaction:  I think the Republican problem has been more about inability to communicate rather than lack of resolve or action.  My God, they formed a coalition and took down the Taliban almost instantly after 9/11.  They killed, captured and interragated terrorists as fast and aggressively as possible up to the point of drawing heavy criticism from all directions and are still doing it.  They largely shut down the financial networks that suported terror.  They took down Saddam Hussein including the cumbersome hurdles of securing  congressional and UN security council approvals.  We have the  Patriot Act and the surveillance program and whatever other protection and enforcement programs we don't even know about. 

Saddam was cowering in a rat hole while the Americans marched freely above.  The central, former leadership of al Qaida can't so much as use a telephone to make a call, and Iran is right now isolated from its last protectors on the security council.

Critics ask the question: WHERE is Osama hding?  I see the more telling questions: Where is Saddam now and WHY is Osama hiding???

I share your frustration, but I wouldn't characterize the efforts as half assed.  JMHO.

5897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: April 09, 2007, 04:39:10 PM
My opinion is that the labels ARE helpful even when exceptions are available.  Pelosi is the highest ranking Democrat.  Can't we just all talk and get along is a philosophy from her side of the aisle - primarily.  Bush, not these few congressmen, was chosen to represent his side of the aisle to run for Pres and lead foreign policy if elected.  The Bush policy for the most part seeks to avoid adding stature to thugs like Assad and Ahmedinajad and for the most part I agree.

In hindsight(IMO), the valid correction - that a few R's were included and the fact that labels don't tell the whole story - could have been added to the discussion without blame for omission.  FWIW, I have seen CCP dish out plenty of criticisms at either side of the aisle at his own choosing.
5898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: April 09, 2007, 01:31:14 PM
Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT wrote this for the upcoming Newsweek issue.  Comments and criticisms on the science and data he references are encouraged.  I've read and posted his work previously.  My observation with this is that it seems mainstream news organizations (NY Times recently, now Newsweek) are suddenly scrambling to publish alternative views as the previous overselling is becoming more obvious.  I find it humorous that he now discloses his funding in his credentials as that has been the only previous criticism I have seen of his work.

Why So Gloomy?

By Richard S. Lindzen
Newsweek International

April 16, 2007 issue - Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.
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A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year's report earlier this month). Indeed, meteorological theory holds that, outside the tropics, weather in a warming world should be less variable, which might be a good thing.

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There's even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half. Overall, the risk of sea-level rise from global warming is less at almost any given location than that from other causes, such as tectonic motions of the earth's surface.

Many of the most alarming studies rely on long-range predictions using inherently untrustworthy climate models, similar to those that cannot accurately forecast the weather a week from now. Interpretations of these studies rarely consider that the impact of carbon on temperature goes down—not up—the more carbon accumulates in the atmosphere. Even if emissions were the sole cause of the recent temperature rise—a dubious proposition—future increases wouldn't be as steep as the climb in emissions.

Indeed, one overlooked mystery is why temperatures are not already higher. Various models predict that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the world's average temperature by as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius or as much as 4.5 degrees. The important thing about doubled CO2 (or any other greenhouse gas) is its "forcing"—its contribution to warming. At present, the greenhouse forcing is already about three-quarters of what one would get from a doubling of CO2. But average temperatures rose only about 0.6 degrees since the beginning of the industrial era, and the change hasn't been uniform—warming has largely occurred during the periods from 1919 to 1940 and from 1976 to 1998, with cooling in between. Researchers have been unable to explain this discrepancy.

Modelers claim to have simulated the warming and cooling that occurred before 1976 by choosing among various guesses as to what effect poorly observed volcanoes and unmeasured output from the sun have had. These factors, they claim, don't explain the warming of about 0.4 degrees C between 1976 and 1998. Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence, and simulation hardly constitutes explanation. Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn't account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300. They tried to expunge the medieval warm period from the observational record—an effort that is now generally discredited. The models have also severely underestimated short-term variability El Niño and the Intraseasonal Oscillation. Such phenomena illustrate the ability of the complex and turbulent climate system to vary significantly with no external cause whatever, and to do so over many years, even centuries.

Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.

Moreover, actions taken thus far to reduce emissions have already had negative consequences without improving our ability to adapt to climate change. An emphasis on ethanol, for instance, has led to angry protests against corn-price increases in Mexico, and forest clearing and habitat destruction in Southeast Asia. Carbon caps are likely to lead to increased prices, as well as corruption associated with permit trading. (Enron was a leading lobbyist for Kyoto because it had hoped to capitalize on emissions trading.) The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem. The conclusion of the late climate scientist Roger Revelle—Al Gore's supposed mentor—is worth pondering: the evidence for global warming thus far doesn't warrant any action unless it is justifiable on grounds that have nothing to do with climate.

Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.
© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.

5899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: March 29, 2007, 02:32:09 PM
Crafty, I agree with you on Rudy. Wrong to my taste on too many issues to support him in the primaries, but I will certainly join up if/when he secures the endorsement.  I also oppose gun control, but if I favored it and was President, I hope I would be principled enough to propose amending rather than stomping on the constitution.  Rudy has talked the talk on strict constructionist judicial appointments, but that contradicts his own position on gun control and on a mother's right to choose. 

Back to tax issues, in the 2000 campaign John McCain opposed candidate Bush's tax cut proposal.  Now McCain says make most of them permanent and Rudy sounds like he may go further into cutting and simplifying. And those are the moderates (RINOs). That is a step forward IMO. Still, McCain is feuding with Club for Growth (who I recently joined) over his previous anti tax cut votes.  It is not just the 'no' votes, but the rhetoric that helps gives credibility and cover to the left.  Specifically, McCain words and votes were cited often by the Dem here in our most recent senate race to demonstrate that she wasn't some extreme leftist.

Club for Growth Calls on McCain to Apologize for Tax Votes

Washington - The Club for Growth called on Senator McCain to renounce his 2001 and 2003 votes against the Bush tax cuts and apologize for his vocal class-warfare-laced opposition to them.

In 2001, Senator McCain was 1 of only 2 Republicans to oppose the Bush tax cuts (Roll Call #170, 05/26/01) and 1 of only 3 Republicans in 2003 (Roll Call #196, 05/23/03).  He even went so far as to adopt the class-warfare rhetoric of the Senate’s most liberal Democrats, arguing in a 2003 Face the Nation interview that “the reason why I opposed the last round was because the—what I felt was a disproportionate favoring of the wealthiest 1 percent, 10 percent of Americans.  If that's continued, obviously, then I wouldn't support that.”
5900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: March 29, 2007, 01:46:10 AM
Checking in here with two items:

1) Rumor that Steve Forbes is joining the Rudy Giuliani campaign at a high level policy position, per 'Pajamasa Media'; the news story so far is just that Forbes is endorsing Giuliani:

Forbes advising Giuliani is great news from my point of view.  In previous campaigns I found Steve Forbes to be my best choice on policy positions but not charismatic enough to carry the message or win the votes.  Giuliani isn't my first choice candidate, but as things sit today, he has the best chance of winning the nomination and getting elected.  He needs the best advisors possible to help nail down the specifics of his proposals and to successfully frame the arguments.  Steve Forbes on tax policy makes sense IMO--

2) I recommend a long piece this week from the Chicago Tribune on Ill. Sen. Barack Obama:,0,445780.story,1,605874.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed,1,605874.story?page=2&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true
 They pursue the angle that his real story isn't exactly as he wrote in his books.  I would read these just from the point of just getting to know one of the key players entering the national stage.
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