Evolution may favor religious diversity, but the tail does not wag the fish.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Geography Lesson

Robert Bork on Fallout from Miers Withdrawal: [WPost]

"Chicago, Ill.: Is it possible that the Miers withdrawal will embolden Democrats and New England Republicans to band together against the next well-qualified originalist or conservative nominee?
Robert Bork: I think it's highly likely that the northeast Republicans and quite possibly Sen. Specter will band together against a nominee that might be suspected of wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade. The northeast Republicans are often called moderates. They are in fact Democrats, if not in name, certainly in substance."

It would be interesting to see the new electoral map of the United States, if prevailing ideologies could have their sway. If anything else proved the point this week, the Republican Party, often famed for their discipline, formed their own form of a circular firing squad. Mr. Bush poked the eye of the Senate for treading too close to his "red line" of executive privilege. The Senate, who in a bi-partisan way, seemed willing to go forward with hearings for Harriet Miers, bristled at the stunning example of how an angry contingent of the Republican right-wing (often confused as simply being Mr. Bush's conservative base) had made their voices heard and made Mr. Bush cry "Uncle."
Mr. Bush can certainly find new ways to renew his affair with his base and may very well nominate someone else even more divisive who may make it harder for Democrats to keep as quiet and controlled as they did this time around. And this may indeed be the way we go. Mr. Bush has proven to be tenacious and surprising in his results when pushed into a corner.
With the indictment of I. Lewis Libby on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements in the CIA Leak and Karl Rove left hanging as an exposed flank in the investigation, one could make a case that the time is ripe for Mr. Bush to show his famous turn around tenancity. But so far, he's left town, feigned a deaf ear to reporters and offered them some "head fakes".
So get ready. Who knows what else will be coming down the pike.

Other Stuff:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Froomkin and Fitzmas

The Cheney Factor [WPOST]

Fitzgerald is expected to wrap up this week, possibly tomorrow. Libby and Bush senior adviser Karl Rove are widely seen as most likely to be indicted.

This may all be a bit of inside the beltway baseball. I've been around the blog world long enough to know that many people who are staunchly Republican have no idea who Karl Rove is. And as a VA resident, currently embroiled in a tight gubernatorial race, I know of red patriots who are hot on the death penalty issue and Tim Kaine's catholicity, but probably have not connected any faith based analysis to Mr. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers.

So it seems entirely appropriate that while the clock ticks away on Plamegate an entirely new season of politicking called Fitzmas should ensue.

The ground has already been softened and expectations lowered so that the American public can grasp that our public servants, leaders, and administration aren't necessarily criminal in their actions. But they certainly are incompetent (think FEMA's Micheal Brown), dishonest and callously misleading (think WMDs), and ethically questionable (think Tom DeLay, Bill Frist).

So if Mr. Bush or his crony matrix end up on the news with eerily familiar sound bites of "I am not a crook" and you're thinking this is deja vu all over again...believe it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

VA Election: Divide and Conquer

Kilgore's Ads Make No One Look Good (Washington Post)
"Few Virginians put the death penalty, abortion, guns or gay adoption even close to the top of their concerns, yet those issues are at the heart of Kilgore's campaign."

Heading into the homestretch of a close but somewhat sleeper gubernatorial race (the only other off-peak election is in NJ), Jerry Kilgore has been blessed with an enormous Republican war chest, raised by little volunteer RNC helpers like Karl Rove and Mr. Bush. Add to that, Jerry's resounding refusal to not go negative in the last weeks of the campaign, and you have the makings of state politics writ-large.

Jerry was on the wrong side of local decisions to open a day-laborer site in Herndon. But the national uproar helped fuel his stand. And while Marc Fisher of the WPOST observes that the top concerns of Virginians, especially Northern VA residents are issues of fiscal discipline and transportation, you'd be surprised how Jerry's "tough on crime" demeanor plays to supporters.

And that's what's truly horrifying to me as a resident and voter. Jerry's simplistic Attorney General style believes criminals ought to be punished and those who take innocent life and leave behind scarred victims have no share in his "culture of life" view. But I have a hard time squaring this bravado with his waffling position on abortion. So much so, that in the final Gubernatorial Debate this past week, Jerry seemed to think that people who seek abortion are taking a life, so presumably they also are deserving of this vengeful ire. Imagine, from the doctor's office to death row?

Fisher's article gives credence to the Republican game plan of divide and conquer. Paint Tim Kaine as different than Mark Warner over the death penalty and disrupt his claims to be Warner's logical successor. I don't doubt the difficulties in pulling that off, but I am not as certain as Fisher that this issue isn't a red-herring, but really is red meat for at least the voters in my district.

We shall find out on election day if VA's flag waves blue or red. For now, I stand appalled at the strength and conviction it takes to say: I want to punish and kill more people than my opponent. That just makes me see red.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

BushSpeak: Evil Disconnect

President Bush's Speech [New York Times]
"Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals.
I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and Al Qaida attacked us anyway.
The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse."
In an argument beyond circular logic, Mr. Bush made his "important" speech on terrorism at 10:00am, when most of us in Washington were simply at work. But I agree that Iraq certainly became an excuse.

Mr. Bush went on to use the argument that Russia was still attacked by terrorists even though they did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, which further begs the question of how one can possibly measure related effectiveness between our presence in Iraq and the broader war on terror.

And while Mr. Bush's description of the enemy is accurate in its murderous detail, it does not then follow that a military response is the solution for twisted humanity gone awry.

Mr. Bush did offer some impressive statistics:

"Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious Al Qaida terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three Al Qaida plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more Al Qaida efforts to case targets in the United States or infiltrate operatives into our country."
Later that day, NY would be put on terrorist alert due to new intelligence that was of contested value.

Politically, the speech was meant to bolster flagging support for the War in Iraq, a cloud of possible indictments approaching Karl Rove in the Valerie Plame CIA leak and double indictments of Tom DeLay for conspiracy to launder and actual laundering of campaign monies. It also follows in the wake of Katrina and the government's lackluster response.

But on the social import of the President's speech, there is a gathering consensus that we are basically against terrorists who are clearly evil. It is important to note though, that this isn't just because WE say so. We are also starting to hear Muslim condemnation of such acts too. And we must continue to steadfastly remain against evil to ensure "freedom's victory."

I'd be a fool to argue with that kind of logic as well as one to not point out the huge disconnect between agreeing that evil is bad and the host of social policies (if war can even be politely called that) that get subsumed under that agreement. But it's nice to have the company.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Public Trust Busted

Buying of News by Bush's Aides Is Ruled Illegal (NYT):
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.
In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated 'covert propaganda' in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.
The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the public relations campaign had been known for months. The report Friday provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities.
Mr. Williams had been paid by PR company Ketchum Inc. on request from the Education Dept. for favorable columns and TV spots regarding the No Child Left Behind Act. Further investigations revealed government commissioning of articles praising the administration for its work on increasing science literacy and praise for Medicare. The reports did not disclose that they were paid for by the government.
Although these findings come with no penalty:
the accountability office said on Friday: "The failure of an agency to identify itself as the source of a prepackaged news story misleads the viewing public by encouraging the audience to believe that the broadcasting news organization developed the information. The prepackaged news stories are purposefully designed to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public. When the television viewing public does not know that the stories they watched on television news programs about the government were in fact prepared by the government, the stories are, in this sense, no longer purely factual. The essential fact of attribution is missing."

This news may not be as shocking as the indictment of Tom Delay, this week or the SEC investigation of Bill Frist, though Congress had worked to further clarify the propaganda ban and Mr. Bush had signed it into law in May. But, as Daniel Shore of NPR said on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, "This hasn't been a happy week for Republicans."