Sunday, July 31, 2005

Comment of the Day

I'm on a short vacation/business trip in Tampa, Florida this weekend, through Monday, so the posting will be light. However, I had to share this comment I recieved because I found it interesting.

"The DLC is the "GOP Lite" wing of the Democratic party. These people have NO vision for America, and it's a lack of vision that's cost the party elections.

A hard left agenda will not win elections, this is true. But a populist agenda will. The party needs less Bayhs and Vilsacks and more Deans and Feingolds.

The Democratic party doesn't need to go extreme--it just needs to become more, well, liberal. It needs to be more than GOP Lite or the Party that Isn't GOP."

I have a few questions for this person. First, what does it mean for the Democrats to become more "liberal?" What is a "liberal" vision? Will that vision play in the "red" parts of the country? And how is that different from a hard left agenda?

This person's critique of the Demcratic Leadership Council is interesting. Like many on the liberal wing, this person thinks that the DLC is "Republican Lite." But what does that mean? That might be a somewhat true if you are comparing the DLC-type Dems to Republians in the mold of the Republican Main Street Partnership, but it sure isn't if we are talking about the hard right of that party occupied by Rick Santorum or Tom Delay. I don't think anyone could confuse a centrist like Bill Clinton with, say, Sam Brownback.

The thing is, the centrist agenda of Clinton was what got the Dems back in the White House after 12 years. Al Gore could have ran on that sucessful agenda, but veered left and lost the White House. John Kerry wasn't that much better. Both men went to the party's liberal base and neither had a vision for America.

I guess what I find interesting is liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans tend see their centrist brethern as traitors. Centrist Republicans are called "RINOs" or "Republicans in Name Only," while centrist Democrats are called "Republican Lite." Neither epithet is helpful. I think both are loyal to their parties, but they are not willing to have ideology become a straight jacket.

I just don't think the "Dean" strategy is going to work for the party. It might fire the party loyalists, but it won't sway the middle. I guess my view is that the liberal base needs to stop seeing Centrist Democrats as traitors and find ways to work together to build the party again. Otherwise, don't expect to win the White House anytime soon.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Longshot

Charging RINO picked up an interesting op-ed from former New York Senator Alfonse D'Mato on not counting out Governor George Pataki should he run for the White House in 2008. It's interesting that last night in a chat with moderate friends, one commented that Pataki had no chance since he was pro-choice and pro-gay. Even Charging RINO thinks it's a long shot.

Maybe. But you know the Centrist movement within the GOP isn't going to get anywhere with that kind of thinking. If we think that a moderate has no chance of winning the GOP nomination, then we will make sure that prophecy is fulfilled. We as moderates are sometimes too weak willed to see a future when the party will move back to the center. We tend to think the far right is way too powerful for us to challenge them.

But if that's the case, then maybe we should leave the party. I'm not willing to do that because I dare to dream that the GOP can change and that it will change. Maybe it won't be Pataki, but his campaign would lay the groundwork for moderate movement in the way that Barry Goldwater laid the blueprint for the conservative movement fourty years ago. One loss today might mean a big win tomorrow.

Christians Behaving Badly

This morning, I came accross to examples of people who profess to being Christians and yet acting very differently than the person they claim to follow. First off is a report that far-right Christian activists have succeeded in gathering enough signatures to put an initative to repeal the state of Maine's Gay Rights Law on the ballot this November. On the news of acheiving the required signatures, Tim Russell of the Christian Civic League of Maine said, "Praise the Lord."

I find it sickening to give God praise for a ballot measure that would say it is okay to fire someone from a job, deny them housing or even a hotel room simply because they are gay. That isn't the Jesus that I worship. I don't think he's any better than some segregationist ala the 1950s who thought it was okay to do these same things simply because someone's skin is black.

In a related case, as an African American who is gay and also a devout Christian, I have experienced first hand how predominantly black churches can be incredibily homophobic. Just one example is a, ahem, "sermon" given by the Reverend Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, DC. I never thought I would say that a sermon might be too graphic for some listeners, but this sermon was just that. Here is some of the tamer portions:

“… We live in a time when our brothers have been so put down, can’t get a job, lot of the sisters making more money than brothers. And it’s creating problems in families. That’s one of the reasons our families’ breaking up. And that’s one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians. You got to be careful when you say you don’t need no man. I can make it by myself. Well, if you don’t need a man, what’s left? Lesbianism is about to take over our community. I’m talking about young girls. My son in high school last year, trying to go to the prom, he said, ‘Dad, I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. There ain’t but two of them straight and both of them are ugly. I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom.’

Oh and it gets worse. This is the kind of stuff African Americans who are gay have to put up with in churches accross the nation. It's a dirty little secret in the black community, but homophobia is a problem and it's a problem we as black people must face head on. We who have known what it's like to be discrimated against, should not be trying to oppress another group. And please don't say, "It's in the Bible" because white segregationists used that excuse.

On a brighter note, The Washington Blade has an excellent piece on predominantly African American churches that have welcomed gays and lesbians. I'm glad to see this and hope it becomes a trend.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Quote of the Day

"...let me say this about our friends who are now Republicans but who do not identify themselves as conservatives: I want the record to show that I do not view the new revitalized Republican Party as one based on a principle of exclusion. After all, you do not get to be a majority party by searching for groups you won’t associate or work with. If we truly believe in our principles, we should sit down and talk. Talk with anyone, anywhere, at any time if it means talking about the principles for the Republican Party. Conservatism is not a narrow ideology, nor is it the exclusive property of conservative activists."

Ronald Reagan, speaking at the 4th annual CPAC Conference, February 4, 1977.

The Vital (Republican) Center

Charging RINO reports on centrist Republican hero, Christie Todd Whitman's comments about the GOP's hard right turn. As usual, Ms. Whitman tells it like it is. She says via The Denver Post that the current leadership tends to view anyone that isn't 100 percent in agreement with them as evil and labels them a "RINO" or "Republican in Name Only." Predictably, her comments have upset the far right. Here is what Gary Bauer head of the conservative group, American Values recently said:

"There's something strange about that 'center' Whitman seems to support," he wrote. "What exactly is she talking about? The 70 percent of Americans who want marriage to remain between one man and one woman, or the 28 percent who support homosexual 'marriage,' as she does? Is it the 75 percent of Americans who oppose partial-birth abortion, or the 25 percent who support it, as she does? ... It seems that the 'center' she is referring to is actually the base of the Democrat Party!"

Whatever, Gary. It's interesting that the extremists in both parties think that anyone who doesn't agree fully with them is somehow actually part of the other party. Moderate Republicans are called RINOs and moderate Democrats are branded as "Republican Lite." In response to people like Bauer, Jeremy over at Charging RINO has this to say:

My post from last night regarding the Santorum/Brownback wing of the GOP (and the excellent followup comments) was the first of what I fully expect will be a long series of discussions over what route the Republican Party will choose over the next couple of years. Will we continue allowing those with a "much more narrow definition" (to put it nicely) definition of Republicanism to run the show? Or will we opt for a new direction, perhaps epitomized by a revitalized centrist wing? I hope, of course, for the latter - and will do all in my power to make it so.

I plan to do my part as well. But the argument is not just moderates on one side and conservatives on the other. There are many thoughtful people who are more conservative than they are moderate who are also upset at the current hard right drift. One commenter to Jeremy's post writes:

The thing is, Charging, I'm not a RINO. I'm probably best described as an old-fashioned conservative, or maybe a neocon, or a libertarian, or some weird mix of all of those. Anyway, the point is, if the GOP nominates someone like Brownback, they're finished, as people like me will bolt. And there are lots of us.

The problem is, the current Republican Party came together 20 or 30 years ago with a few common goals, and now most of those goals have been accomplished. We got rid of Communism, we cut taxes, we saved capitalism, we ended the Nanny-State-Left's attempt to socialize and secularize our society, and we at least got people talking about privatizing government services.

In that sense, success has been our undoing. With our common goals accomplished, we Republicans have a lot less in common than we once did. The war on terror is a lot different than the struggle to end Communism, and we all disagree on how best to fight it. The coming Boomer retirements will bankrupt the social safety net, and we don't really know how to address it. The global economy demands a better education system, and instead GOP governors are cutting education. We're the richest country in the world and we can't even make sure everyone has health care or the highways are maintained. The debt keeps growing. And while we stopped the libs from imposing their values on us, we now have a fight in the party between those who want to impose conservative values on the nation and those who think government shouldn't impose any values on anyone.

The point of all that is, the GOP really has to step up to the plate if it wants to address the many problems before our nation today. I don't know if it will, and its saving grace is the fact that the Democrats are just sort of a token opposition these days. Eventually, there will be a better way. For now, let's just hope our party doesn't nominate Brownback.

There are a lot of problems facing our nation today and the GOP seems incapable of addressing them. Look at Gary Bauer's statement. There was no talk about health care, or the growing debt, or the war on terror or the impending crisis in social security and other entitlements. His statement was about gay marriage and partial birth abortion, and he acts as if these are the issues Americans lay awake at night thinking about.

This is ludicrious.

The GOP is starting to have a debate on where it's heading. Will we be a party that is obessed with gays or will we be a party that adheres to our first principles of pragmatism, prudence and equality?

Moderates and thoughtful conservatives must gird themselves for the battle at hand. The future of not only our party, but our nation is at stake. I plan to do my part, will you?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dying for Love, Literally

Being gay in the United States isn't easy, but it's getting better. But there are places where being gay is deadly. In Iran, two gay young men were executed because they had sex with each other. It seems that members of Iran's parliment are aghast that the rest of the world is so upset at them. They think they should be congratulated. So says one legislator:

"Instead of paying tribute to the action of the judiciary, the media are mentioning the age of the hanged criminals and creating a commotion that harms the interests of the state," said ultraconservative deputy Ali Asgari in a quote published by Iran Focus.

"Even if certain Web sites made a reference to their age, journalists should not pursue this. These individuals were corrupt. Their sentence was carried out with the approval of the judiciary, and it served them right," he said.

They didn't steal anything. They didn't murder. They were accused of rape, but many think this was trumped up. And yet, they were considered "criminals."

This is the sign of a backwards state and they are far from being a democracy. Real democracies don't kill citizens because of who they love.

You can see photos of the hanging here.

Barbaric. Just truly barbaric.

Update:Log Cabin Republicans issued a press release on Tuesday condemning the execution.

But Does it Play in Topeka?

I've said this before. There is a lot of ink spilled about the growing war taking place between centrist Republicans and what former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman calls "social fundamentalists." The media is now starting to pay attention to the battle going on within the Democrats between centrist Democrats and what is best described as the "Deaniac" wing of the party.

The Democratic Leadership Council, the leading centrist Democratic group has been holding it's annual meeting in Columbus, OH. A Press Release shows what the DLC is up to as the nation prepares for mid-term elections in 2006. I thought some of the comments were very interesting. For example, here is a quote from outgoing DLC head, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, giving a shot accross the bow to his more liberal compatriots in the party:

"The challenge that we face as a party isn't what a lot of the elites inside the beltway like to talk about. It's not about semantics. It's not about finding the right metaphor. It's not about framing. It's understanding the profound changes that are shaping our future, appreciating the challenges that those changes are creating in the course of people's daily lives, and harnessing our values to forge an agenda to empower our people to meet those challenges and to make the most of those lives."

He is taking aim at people like linguist George Lakoff who think that if liberals simply change their language, then they will win elections. Bayh argues that what is needed is understanding the times we living and then coming up with policy to fit.

The current DLC head, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsak, said that anger alone will not lift the Democrats from their current electoral funk.

He also warned Democrats against the political vices of unfocused anger, a purely negative message, and an ideologically rigid refusal to listen to what the public wants, saying we cannot "just hold our breaths until red states turn blue."

Speaking of Democrats who are holding their breath, I came accross an interesting post from liberal (but actually smart) blogger Marc Cooper. He writes about a recent series of meetings that took place around the same time the DLC was meeting in Ohio. He writes:

On this past Saturday, 350 meetings and rallies were held across the U.S. in which -- it seems-- Democrats closed themselves off in auditoriums, read from the now sacred Downing Street Memos, chanted "Impeach Bush!" and repeated to themselves, once again, that Bush is a liar and that he certainly lied us into Iraq.

He then links to a group called, Progressive Democrats of America that describes what went on during those meetings. You should read the summary in its totality, but here are some quotes. First:

Throughout the nation today, we saw crowds of people in red and blue states chant "Impeach Bush!" at events with political leaders not yet ready to use the "I-word." It would seem that the much-maligned American Public is way out ahead of many political insiders.

Crowds at the event in Montgomery County, Maryland asked, "Why is it so hard to get a Democrat from a solidly Democratic district to introduce articles of impeachment? What are they waiting for?"

In fact, since the Downing Street Memo was leaked to the British press in early May, PDA has stood side-by-side with Congressman John Conyers and other key members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to put the wheels of impeachment in motion. PDA was the first progressive organization in the nation to support the letter Conyers authored and co-signed by 133 members of Congress demanding that the President address the troubling issues revealed in the Downing Street Memo. PDA generated the first 100,000 citizen signatures on the petition supporting the Conyers letter and enjoined its allies and partners across the progressive political spectrum to create a coalition of support. Just this week, Congresswoman Barbara Lee submitted a "Resolution of Inquiry” on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives calling on the Bush administration to produce information to answer questions raised by a series of classified British memos that suggest that pre-war intelligence was fixed in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Given the administration's defiant silence in the face of these Congressional actions, these are the first critical steps on the road to impeachment.

The massive public demonstrations organized today provide further political will to move that process forward. At the Detroit event with Congressman Conyers, when constitutional law professor Bob Sedler asked the crowd if Bush had committed impeachable offenses, the whole room shouted, "YES!"

So, while the DLC is looking to crafting new policy to fit the times, PDA is interested in impeaching the President. If it didn't work for the Republicans, it isn't gonna work for you. It gets better:

"Twelve peacemakers from NE Ohio gathered at the Community Center of Newton Falls (zipcode 44444) to hear a dramatic reading of the Downing Street memo and engage in a lively discussion of local peace events and social justice issues. The entrance to the Community Center is prominently marked by a memorial to four young men from this small town who lost their lives in the War in Vietnam. We felt their spirit among us crying out to a new generation: the politicians lied and we died! Honor the dead -- reveal the truth and stop the war!"


"Twelve peacemakers from NE Ohio gathered at the Community Center of Newton Falls (zipcode 44444) to hear a dramatic reading of the Downing Street memo and engage in a lively discussion of local peace events and social justice issues. The entrance to the Community Center is prominently marked by a memorial to four young men from this small town who lost their lives in the War in Vietnam. We felt their spirit among us crying out to a new generation: the politicians lied and we died! Honor the dead -- reveal the truth and stop the war!"

Or this one in Louisville, Kentucky submitted by PDA field blogger Judy Munro-Leighton:

"On this blistering hot day, the Louisville Peace Action Community (LPAC) held its DSM Day event at a busy intersection in a working class neighborhood in Louisville's south end.

"We had about 40 people with signs & petitions and we had great visibility--thousands of cars saw us and many, many pedestrians talked to us. In our group we had an 82-year-old nun & several babies.

"We also had a visit from 'George Bush' on a megaphone telling people NOT to read the Memo, because he didn't want them to know the truth. He sounded as stupid as ever.

"We had an overwhelmingly positive response and were glad to find a good new intersection for future actions. After two hours in the blazing heat, we hit a local watering hole for a round of congratulations and good laughs. The truth will prevail."

This obersvation sounded very self congratulatory, as if "the people" get their message. But what I picked up is a lot of sound and fury, and you know what that means.

Listen, if the Dems want to win, they have to craft policies that will play in Middle America. They need to be speaking to Topeka and Tulsa, not Ann Arbor and Berkely. The DLC approach is the best approach becuase it has ideas and policy and, well it's winnable. This was what won Bill Clinton two terms. The hard left approach has won nothing.

These are the options for the Dems: they can choose to be winners or righteous losers. It will be interesting to see which wing wins come 2006 and 2008.

No Fourth Term for Pataki (Maybe)

Jeremy over at Charging RINO reports that New York Governor George Pataki is pretty much set to NOT seek a fourth term as governor of the Empire State. This might mean that he will make a run for the presidency come 2008. Pataki is a centrist Republican's dream: pro-choice, pro-gay rights, tough on crime. He's got my vote should he run in '08.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Cosby Republicans

Booker Rising has a great post about how the GOP can reach out to African Americans. Webmaster Shay Riley calls these people "Cosby Republicans" after the famed comedian's rant last year concerning values in the Black Community. Riley thinks there are many "old-school" blacks who are fiscally moderate and socially conservative. They may not be crazy or downright hostile to gay marriage, but they want to see a social saftey net for the poor. Here is a quick defintion of a Cosby Republican:

Black folks know old-school blacks: they are no nonsense folks; live in neatly trimmed city bungalows or growing suburbs; pay their taxes on time, go to church - and I do mean church, as this is a fervently Christian crowd - every week if not several times a week, and believe in strong family values and that education is the black person's ticket to success. They may have grown up poor, but are now working-class and often middle-class. Old-school blacks believe in helping out the less fortunate - it is this subgroup which makes black Americans among the most generous Americans, per capita, when it comes to charitable contributions and volunteerism - but they want folks to at least meet them halfway in improving their lives. They often help out their less fortunate relatives, so they have firsthand experience in this area. Along with concerns about moral issues, it is this point of the Republican Party's plank that has some appeal to them.

While there are some parts of it I wouldn't agree with (I am gay, so I support gay marriage or civil unions) I think this has some promise. Of course, for the GOP to become an option for African Americans, they have to accept some social programs.

All in all, it a good idea. One of the reasons I became disenchanted with the Democrats is because they view blacks as victims. That was not what I was taught growing up. I was taught to be proud of who I am. I think many black folk are tired of being told by black radicals that we should feel helpless and mad about the legacy of racism. We are proud of who we are, because as bad as this nation has treated us, we still rise. If the GOP can tap into this part of the electorate, they might actually give the Dems a run for their money concerning the black vote.

Quote of the Day

This quote is so good, I have to post it in its entirety (almost):

Look, of course people are going to use Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed if you look at what a lot of these terrorist statements say they use both Iraq and Afghanistan incidentally. Often people just talk about Iraq, but they use both of them. They will use Iraq to try and recruit and motivate people. They will use Afghanistan. Before Iraq and Afghanistan, and 11 September, which happened before those two things, they used other things. But I think most people understand that the roots of this go far deeper. And in any event where does this argument take us in the end. And I want to make one thing very clear to you. Whatever excuse or justification these people use I do not believe we should give one inch to them, not in this country and the way we live our lives here, not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, not in our support for two States, Israel and Palestine, not in our support for the alliances we choose, including with America, not one inch should we give to these people. And I want to say this to you, and I may offend people when I say this, but I am going to say it nonetheless. 11 September for me was a wake-up call. Do you know what I think the problem is? That a lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep again. And we are not going to deal with this problem, with the roots as deep as they are, until we confront these people at every single level. And not just their methods, but their ideas.

Let us just take this issue of Iraq and expose it for a moment. Frankly the obscenity of these people saying it is concern for Iraq that drives them to terrorism. If it is concern for Iraq, why are they driving a car bomb into the middle of a group of children and killing them. Why are they every day in Iraq trying to kill people whose only desire is for their country to become a democracy. Why are they trying to kill people in Afghanistan. Why are they trying, every time Israel and Palestine look as if they could come together in some sort of settlement, they go and wreck it. Why are they killing people in Turkey. What is their excuse there, or in Egypt, or in Saudi Arabia. They will always have a reason and I am not saying that any of these things don't affect their warped reasoning and warped logic as to what they do, or that they don't use these things to try and recruit people. But I do say we shouldn't compromise with it. I am not saying anyone says any of these things justify it, but we shouldn't even allow them the vestige of an excuse for what they do. That is my answer to that.

That was UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at a press conference today. As I have said before, Iraq and Israel/Palestine are all important issues, but the terrorists are not as interested in those issues as one would like to think.

Shortly after the 2001 attacks in the US, I recieved a newsletter from a Christian peace organization I used to be involved in. It included a letter from a Baptist minister in Arizona who basically blamed 9/11 for the policies of the Bush Administration and for the US actions at the UN conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa in August of 2001.

I found such reasoning ubelieveable, to say the least.

What if these bombers were Christian fundamentalists? What if they blew up gay discos and abortion clinics? Would there be talk of wondering if they have a point? No. We would want justice and damn the reasons for the bombings. Such indiscriminate killing is beyond explaination. And this is what happened with bomber William Eric Rudolph who did just what I've described.

So no, let's not bomb Mecca, but let's not try to somehow excuse the terrorists, either. No reason is worth killing innocents. None.

When you Drive an SUV, you drive with Osama

Two years ago, I bought a Volkswagen Jetta with a Turbo Diesel engine. I bought it because it places less greehouse gasses. I also bought it because it has a great gas mileage. I get about 38mph in the city and 44mph on the highway. Better gas mileage means I'm filling up less. (It also helps that I bus it to work.)

My Jetta is a very safe car. It has eight airbags. Eight. It also has a sidebar to protect you from side crashes. Why am I telling you this? Because the common excuse from lawmakers whenever there is talk of increasing fuel inefficiency, that we will make unsafe cars. My Jetta shows that reasoning is pretty damn false.

Why am I talking about my Jetta? Because I read a Washington Post article this morning about Congress again declining to raise fuel economy standards. The Energy Bill making its way through Congress will not do much to combat our growing thirst for oil and our appetite for oil from other countries is growing, not slowing.

The article notes we get 58 percent of our oil from abroad. Fifty Eight percent. We are getting our oil from places like Saudi Arabia, where oil profits can be used to fund terrorism that affects us. We are way too dependent on a volitile region of the world.

If the Bushies are serious about combatting terrorism, one simple way is to not rely so much on the Middle East for oil. We can do that by conserving. We can't win this war on terror if we are driving big SUVs that get crappy gas mileage.

Shame on the Adminstration and Congress for not taking a stand for efficiency. It's good for the environment and good for national security.

Monday, July 25, 2005

How I Would Respond to Terrorism if I were President

For the last few weeks, whenever I've talked about the Left and Terrorism, a fellow blogger by the name of Brian has been challenging me to present my own solutions to the war on terror. So, to satisfy his curiosity, here it is:

Military Force should be one method of dealing with terrorism, but not the only one. When President Bush invaded Afghanistan in 2001, I fully supported him. We had just been attacked. Bin Laden had a strong base in Afghanistan, sheltered by the Taliban. We were able to disrupt his network and maybe prevent other attacks. Sometimes the only way to stop terror is to send in the troops.

However, the military should never be the only tool. It's an imprecise tool; kind of like using a sledgehammer to get at a fly. It works when the target is clear, as it was in Afghanistan, it is not as good when the target is murky as in Iraq.

Intelligence must be used. We need to have strong intelligence both within the US and without to keep a tab on suspected terrorists. Yes, we must do it while respecting civil liberties, but do it we must. I support having a national director of intelligence as requested by the 9/11 commission and also giving the FBI more power to do some intelligence of its own. Again, this has to be done with some sense of respect to our Constitution, but we need to have intelligence to stop cells from doing their foul deeds.

We must cooperate with other nations. If the attacks in Madrid and London have said anything, it is that we in the US are not alone. President Bush needs to drop his go it alone approach and work with other nations in stopping terrorism. This would come through the sharing of intelligence, and joint military operations if need be. Al Queda is a threat to the known world, not just America.

The use of diplomacy. No, I don't mean talking to the terrorists; they're a lost cause. I mean trying to steal the thunder from those who use Islam to persue their facist agenda. That means the US has to get more involved in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and get both sides to the table to deal. Bush 41 played hardball with Israel and there is nothing that says Bush 43 couldn't do that as well. Writer Tom Friedman has talked about closing down the "Arab Basement," the place where terrorists are created. To do that, we need to get at some of the issues afftecting the region, such as the Palestinians. It won't stop the terrorists, but it will give them one less fig leaf to hide with.

So that is my plan. Hmmm, Dubya's job is open come 2008....

Responding to a Critic

Whenever I've talked about terrorism and how many on the Left make excuses, I usually get a response from someone named Brian. I haven't responded because I had hoped my views were clear not just a parroting of the Bush party line.

Here are his latest comments:

I agree and have written as much ( freedom-fighters-murder-18-iraqi-kids.html for example).

However, it would be nice if you recognized that terrorism doesn't happen in a vacuum. Foreign policy decisions have consequences. The US invaded and are occupying the (formerly) sovereign country of Iraq. Justified or not, this has consequences.

The US offers unconditional, unquestioning support for Israel. Justified or not (and I'm a firm believer in Israel's right to exist and that it's used as an easy scapegoat by Arabs but that its occupation is wrong), this has consequences.

I agree that fighting terrorism is not as simple as withdrawing from Iraq, cutting links to Sharon's government and suing the terrorists for peace. However, you need to stop pretending that the belligerent foreign policy plays absolutely no role. You need to stop pretending that neo-imperial bullying has absolutely no legitimate relevance whatsoever to resentment in the Arab world, even if it's overblown by domestic regimes for their own reasons.

Imperialism has consequences. Imperialism is very messy and very costly. There's a reason the French and the British and the Portugese got out of the empire business. As long as the US is in the empire business, we will be vulnerable; it's that simple. This isn't making excuses. It's stating time-tested reality.

Terrorism will not be defeated by blowing the most extreme elements to bits. Extremists thrive or shrivel based on the support and cooperation they receive from non-extremists.

Terrorism will be defeated by winning over the moderates and starving the extremists of the oxygen they need.

First, I never have said that terrorism takes place in a vacumn. Yes, the US does need to consider being a better broker in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. But as was stated in a newspaper column earlier, the seeds of 9/11 were sown at least five years before 2001. That goes back to 1996, when yes, things were not perfect, but Israeli-Palestinian relations were a bit better than they are now. In the long run, being a more objective broker in this area will give away an excuse from the terrorists, but it wouldn't stop the terrorists cold. Britian has taken a more evenhanded approach than we have, and that didn't give them a pass.

Then there is Iraq. I have said, over and over at this blog, that invading Iraq was wrong. I think the talk of "imperialism" by some on the left is going overboard, but still, we should not have invaded unless we had good evidence. And yes, invading Iraq has created a new reason for Al Queda to spread terror. but again, changing policy won't solve things. If we leave tomorrow, what would happen to Iraq. My guess is that it would become a failed state, the perfect place for the terrorists to base themselves and to plan more attacks.

Changing policy will go a long way to starving the terrorists of "reasons" to attack. My argument is that saying the terrorists are doing what they are doing because of these issues isn't really true. They are using legitimate issues as a cover, they aren't interested in changing policy. What they are interested in is wholesale slaughter. There is no difference between them and someone like William Eric Rudolph, the confessed Olympic bomber.

So, yes, Brian I want the US to have a more objective policy towards Israel/Palestine with the goal of the Palestinains getting a state. They deserve it, and Israel needs to get real. I think Iraq was a mistake. And I think we should try to find ways to change policy. But I don't think we can stop them by simply giving in to their "demands," because they really aren't demands-they are just excuses to the terrorists and we need to realize that.

What if they were Pro-Life Extremists?

Columnist Deb Saunders Has an excellent column on what I've been talking about recently concerning terrorism. Here's a taste:

Imagine, as I've written before, if anti-abortion terrorists began killing innocent civilians and said they would stop only if the government outlaws abortion. (After all, if terrorism wins for Islamic extremists, why shouldn't U.S. extremists adopt it?) The Left would not fault pro-abortion policies. The Left would not blame the government for legalizing abortion. The Left -- correctly -- would denounce the terrorists, the violence and any attempt to extort policy by threatening innocent lives.

I would add that if there were a spate of bombings of black churches by the Klan, I doubt that the Left would be making excuses for them.

I don't think all liberals of leftists think this way. But it would be nice if we saw the terrorists in the same light.

The Story That Isn't?

Charging RINO has a worthwhile post about how the media might be playing up a story concenring Judge Roberts that may not be a story at all, at least not yet.

Several media outlets are talking about certain records concerning the judge and about how the White House haven't released those records. The problem is, there is very little evidence that the White House is with holding records and very little evidence that the Dems are demanding them.

Alan over at the Yellow Line, has some choice words for a media too used to reporting partisan fights:

This kind of shoddy journalism feeds right into the wants of interest groups determined to turn what should be a civil nomination process into an all-out war. In fact, I would not be surprised that the "document issue" was manufactured by left-leaning interest groups in an attempt to invent a crisis. The fact that the media would latch on to such a non-story is incredibly disappointing.

Would such groups contrive a story? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Let's let the nomination process happen and let's let Roberts get a fair hearing so that we can determine if he deserves to be the next Associate Justice on the High Court. Stop with the shoddy journalism.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Why they Hate Us: Beyond Excuses

You might remember in a previous post that I talked about how some people tend to think that the recent spate of bombings in London are because of Britian's role in Iraq and that the terrorists are really using that issue as well as the Israeli/Palestinian issue as an excuse. Well, writer Oliver Roy does a damn good job in shooting more holes in that theory. He first talks about the excuses given shortly after 9/11: the reasons that tragedy happened was because of the US role in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Roy responds:

Were they then driven by the plight of the Palestinians? It seems unlikely. After all, the attack was plotted well before the second intifada began in September 2000, at a time of relative optimism in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

He then blows some more holes in the whole "if-we-leave-Afghanistan/Iraq-and-solve-Palestine-then-they-will-leave-us-alone" theory, by wondering why certain elements are missing:

if the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine are at the core of the radicalization, why are there virtually no Afghans, Iraqis or Palestinians among the terrorists? Rather, the bombers are mostly from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Egypt and Pakistan - or they are Western-born converts to Islam. Why would a Pakistani or a Spaniard be more angry than an Afghan about American troops in Afghanistan? It is precisely because they do not care about Afghanistan as such, but see the United States involvement there as part of a global phenomenon of cultural domination.

He then goes toward the root of the problem: Muslims living in the west who feel "rootless:"

What was true for the first generation of Al Qaeda is also relevant for the present generation: even if these young men are from Middle Eastern or South Asian families, they are for the most part Westernized Muslims living or even born in Europe who turn to radical Islam. Moreover, converts are to be found in almost every Qaeda cell: they did not turn fundamentalist because of Iraq, but because they felt excluded from Western society (this is especially true of the many converts from the Caribbean islands, both in Britain and France). "Born again" or converts, they are rebels looking for a cause. They find it in the dream of a virtual, universal ummah, the same way the ultraleftists of the 1970's (the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Italian Red Brigades) cast their terrorist actions in the name of the "world proletariat" and "Revolution" without really caring about what would happen after.

So the real question isn't as much about foreign policy than it is about finding ways to intergrate Westrenized Muslims into the larger Western society. One of the themes you hear over and over again in Western Europe is how disconnected some young Muslims feel from the larger society. We in the West have to find ways to solve that. If we are the multicultural societies that we claim to be, then we must try to make Islam and Muslims part of the picture, because it isn't happening now. We must find ways to answer this alienation among youth, or we will see more of these assaults in the near future.

The Record on Roberts

The Washington Post has a worthwhile editorial on Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts. The editorial shows that at least on the surface, Roberts is not the radical that liberals should fear. Here is one quote:

The D.C. Circuit is among the more collegial federal appellate courts in the nation. Despite a broad political spectrum among its judges, dissents are rare. Its judges generally work far harder than do the justices to achieve consensus. Judge Roberts has been in no sense an outlier. He has neither dissented much nor provoked much dissent, and where he and other judges have disagreed, there have generally not been substantial ideological overtones to that disagreement. According to one analysis of his voting record, he has agreed with Judge David Tatel -- perhaps the court's most liberal member -- 94 percent of the time. This reflects both the relatively apolitical nature of much of the court's caseload and the fact that Judge Roberts -- and, for that matter, Judge Tatel -- is appropriately sublimating his political views to apply the law.

The Post does have some concerns over his views concerning interstate commerce, but even there, they give him some leeway:

There is really only one opinion Judge Roberts has written that potentially signals anything of serious concern, and that is the first one he wrote while on the court. The opinion is troubling because it suggests a too-narrow view of Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce -- the constitutional backbone of the modern regulatory state. Judge Roberts questioned whether the commerce clause of the Constitution is broad enough to permit the federal government to protect an endangered species that lives within a single state. But it would be a mistake to read too much into this opinion. Because of the procedural position of the case, Judge Roberts merely sketched his concerns and was careful not to pass judgment on the merits of the matter. The decision may be suggestive, but it hardly commits him to a particular philosophy as a justice in this important area.

Of course, the nomination hearings should shed some light on Roberts judicial philosophy. It's my hope that Roberts is more a conservative in the mold of Kennedy or O' Connor and not another Scalia or Thomas. The signs, at least at this point, point to the former and not the latter.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

James Doohan, RIP

Okay, most of you don't know this, but I love Star Trek. Love it.

I've seen all the movies, all the series and read many a book. The chacracters from the Original Series, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov, were a part of my life growing up and still are. As they all age and start to die, a little bit of me dies as well. It's sad to know that DeForest Kelly (McCoy) is no longer with us, having died in 1999. And now we have the news of James Doohan, aka "Scotty" died yesterday after a long struggle with Alzhiemers.

It's interesting that Doohan's death has garnered so much attention. I've seen articles in the Washington Post, heard a story on NPR, and there was an obit on ABC. On the surface, he was a television actor, that's it. But he was also part of a TV show and later franchise that was groundbreaking. And Scotty was the guy that made the Enterprise work; the calm in the midst of a storm. Maybe my best episode with Scotty is not one from the Orginal Series but from the Next Generation, entitled "Relics" where Scotty is trapped in a transpoter loop for 75 years and ends up in the Next Gen era. It's a great episode.

Godspeed, Scotty.

Another RINO Blogger

I wanted to introduce people to yet another Centrist Republican blogger. Chris Battles is a young gun who is a student at Ohio State. Being that my alma mater is Michigan State, I am suppose to not like Chris, but since he is a fellow RINO, I can let that pass.

Happy reading!


CNN and the BBC are reporting there have been at least four explosions on buses and the Underground in London today. I've heard of one injury at this time.

As they say, this is developing...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How the Left is Overplaying It's Hand

A good friend of mine thinks the Left is over-reacting when it comes to the Roberts nomination. I tend to agree and so does Alan over at The Yellow Line. He has an engaging post about how liberal reaction to Roberts is telling more about them than it is about Roberts.

I won't repeat what Alan said, but I do want to make a point on one ground. Alan shares a statement from the group, which accuses him of being a "corporate lawyer" who supported all these evil things from, limiting environmental protection to not allow Congress to defend the Voting Rights Act.

Okay, hold on. Anyone who knows a thing or two about lawyers know that even if they defend a company accused of say poisioning the water, that doesn't mean they agree with it. In many cases, the firm is one of several that are counsel to a corporation. To the firm, that is a client and they have to argue their case. I've known corporate lawyers who are big lefties who still agrue cases for large multinationals.

In short, just because Roberts was a corporate lawyer who argued cases that MoveOn didn't like, that doesn't necessarily mean that he agrees with what they might be doing. He had a job to do and he did it. This is not like the movies where corporate lawyers are seen as evil and callous people who are nothing more than corporate shills.

I also have a problem with MoveOn immediately branding Roberts as "right-wing." We don't really know that much about this guy. It's a little early to start pegging him as an extremist. But I tend to think MoveOn would oppose anyone Bush put forward. Heck, he could have nominated Jesus and they would have found something to kvetch about.

They way that some on the left tend think, a more conservative court would spell the end of freedom. Well, we've had a conservative court for about 15 or so years. In that time, Roe hasn't been overturned, partial-birth abortion laws have been struck down, sodomy laws were overturned as were laws restricting the rights of gays. Heck, even affirmative action still stands. The Court may not be the vanguard it was during the era of Earl Warren, but it is hardly curtailing our liberties either.

Finally, instead of wasting money on a Court battle, maybe some of these groups need should spend money and time to get liberal majorities in Congress and the White House. If they want a more liberal Court, they should work on getting a liberal President, instead of throwing rocks.

I'm not saying these groups shouldn't be critical. But Bush picked a nominee that will be hard to oppose. Save your money and let's give Roberts a fair hearing. If what they hear isn't pleasing then they can criticize. But for now, maybe they should focus on 2006 and 2008.

John Roberts: The Reaction

Andrew Sullivan has some interesting viewpoints from others regarding the choice of John Roberts to the nation's highest court. Some on the right look on his lean record as a sign that he is a blank slate aka David Souter. Here is what conservative blogger Daniel Flynn writes:

Republicans have tried the blank slate route before. That's the Supreme Court pick whose opinions are unknown--perhaps even to himself. What did it get the GOP? David Souter, for one. President Bush has twice been elected president, and his party controls 55 Senate seats. If he really is a social conservative--let's face it, this is all about Roe v. Wade--why should he operate from a position of weakness and nominate a consensus candidate? While Roberts is neither the consensus candidate nor 2005's David Souter, his views on Roe v. Wade, at least, are unknown. Is a crapshoot the best conservatives can do? On the other hand, the Democrats refused to confirm him when George H.W. Bush nominated him to the bench, and took two years to confirm him when George W. Bush nominated him to the DC Court of Appeals. Perhaps the Democrats know something that we don't. Time will tell.

Polipundit isn't happy either. Then there is Ann Coulter who says:

Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever.

It means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said:

“In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-93 Term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States.”

And it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted. We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter. I believe their exact words were, "Read our lips; Souter's a reliable conservative."

Finally, lets ponder the fact that Roberts has gone through 50 years on this planet without ever saying anything controversial. That’s just unnatural.

If a smart and accomplished person goes this long without expressing an opinion, they'd better be pursuing the Miss America title.

Finally, a more saner view comes from Jeffrey Rosen. It's on the New Republic so it's subscription-only, but Sullivan does have some good money quotes that gives an insight into Roberts judicial temperment:

Top of his class at Harvard Law School and a former law clerk for Rehnquist, Roberts is one of the most impressive appellate lawyers around today. Liberal groups object to the fact that, in 1990, as a deputy solicitor general, Roberts signed a brief in a case involving abortion-financing that called, in a footnote, for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. But it would be absurd to Bork him for this: Overturning Roe was the Bush administration's position at the time, and Roberts, as an advocate, also represented liberal positions, arguing in favor of affirmative action, against broad protections for property rights, and on behalf of prisoners' rights. In little more than a year on the bench, he has won the respect of his liberal and conservative colleagues but has not had enough cases to develop a clear record on questions involving the Constitution in Exile.

On the positive side, Roberts joined Judge Merrick Garland's opinion allowing a former employee to sue the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for disability discrimination. He pointedly declined to join the unsettling dissent of Judge David Sentelle, a partisan of the Constitution in Exile, who argued that Congress had no power to condition the receipt of federal transportation funds on the Metro's willingness to waive its immunity from lawsuits. In another case, however, Roberts joined Sentelle in questioning whether the Endangered Species Act is constitutional under Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce. The regulation in question prevented developers from building on private lands in order to protect a rare species of toad, and Roberts noted with deadpan wit that "the hapless toad ... for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California," and therefore could not affect interstate commerce. Nevertheless, Roberts appears willing to draw sensible lines: He said that he might be willing to sustain the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act on other grounds. All in all, an extremely able lawyer whose committed conservatism seems to be leavened by a judicious temperament.

Sullivan goes on to say that this is a shrewd choice and I agree. What we seem (and I stress, seem) is a person who is conservative, but is not a true believer. It's interesting that Rosen provides a view that makes Robert seem more moderate than what some on the left are saying.

Will this choice move the court to the Right? I think so, but the question to ask is what kind of right? If Roberts is a movement conservative whose vote we know before the case comes before the Court, then that's a bad sign in my view. If he is a conservative that takes a more mainstream approach without veering to the far left, then that is much better. Listen, despite all the talk about how conservative the Court has become compared to say, 40 years ago, this court has done some good things especially gay rights cases like striking down Colorado's Amendment Two and sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. From the outset, I don;t see Roberts wanting to rollback gay rights or abortion rights for that matter.

Again, I'm witholding judgement until the hearings. But it does seem that Bush picked someone who is might be similar to Sandra Day O'Connor, conservative and pragmatic as well as keeping an open mind. Again, time will tell.

And the Winner Is....John Roberts

About the choice of John Roberts as the next Supreme Court justice: I was a little thrown off balance since all the rumors were about Circuit Judge Edith Roberts. At first glance, it seems that Roberts is a conservative, but not the ideologue that the far right wants and not in the mold of Antonin Scalia. Contrary to what the left thinks, I don't think being a conservative is a bad thing. What matters to me is that any justice thinks about the cases brought before him or her and decides based on the facts and not what is the most ideological opinion. We have in Roberts a legal mind that has recieved a very acceptable rating from the American Bar Association.

Was this the choice I would have wanted as a centrist Republican? No. But as Jeremy over at Charging RINO said in a post this morning, it could have been worse. The President could have picked someone that is an indeological firebrand that would have assured a nomination fight in the Senate such as Bill Pryor. Bush didn't do that. He picked someone who as Jeremy said will raise the level of intellectual discourse in the High Court. Rogers has a lot of Democratic and liberal friends, so this might blunt any effort by the left to slow or block hid nomination. It is troubling, in my view that he signed on to an opinion as deputy solicitor general under Bush I where he said that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. However, working in a legal environment for a year, I am aware that as a lawyer he was representing a client that didn't support Roe. In short, it doesn't give a whole view of his outlook on abortion rights.

I'm also disturbed by how some groups on the left and right have already made their judgement on Rogers. The Human Rights Campiagn, NARAL, and People for the American Way have already issued screaming press releases. On the far right, we are seeing predictable support from the likes of the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, and the American Family Association have all come out in favor of Roberts. I think both sides are jumping the gun. We don't really know much about Roberts yet and it would be better to hold judgement until we get the full story as confirmation hearings begin.

I did also check some Centrist Republican groups such as Log Cabin Republicans, and Republican Majority for Choice have issued more cautious statements, which I think is the right approach right now.

On the surface, a good pick. But like many, I will be listening to the confirmation hearings to listen to what Rogers has to say. I'm hoping for a more pragmatic conservative, but only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Why I'm not a Member of the NAACP

John Cole has an interesting take on New York Times columnist Bob Herbet's screed regarding GOP National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman's apology at the NAACP annual convention. Herbert lists a long line of GOP crimes against blacks and basically knocks the apology.

John does a good job of fisking Herbert and also gives a good explaination of Ronald Reagan's kick off speech for President in 1980 at the Neshoba, Mississippi County Fair-the same county where the three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.

I'm not a big fan of the NAACP these days. They have ciriticzed the President for not visiting over the years and yet they engage in some of the most vitrolic lashing of the President. Why would you go where you know you will not be welcomed?

I'm not saying that the NAACP should never criticize the President or the Republican Party. That is their right. But you can't expect Bush to come and speak to a bunch of people who don't just not like him, but detest him. I've long said Bush needs to build bridges beyond his far right base, but the NAACP has to start acting like a bipartisan organization that is willing to at least give the president a listen.

Is the GOP perfect when it comes to racial relations? Nope. Mehlman was right to apologize for the "Southern Strategy." He should have also thrown in Willie Horton too. But let's not forget that the last Democratic president was no saint either. While campiagning for President, he flew back to Arkansas oversee the execution of black inmate who had such a substandard IQ that he saved his last meal thinking he would come back later. Clinton also denied lowering the sentences that would have equalize the penalties for crack and powder cocaine (people using crack cocaine, used mostly by blacks, was punsished more severly than powder cocaine, which is used mostly by whites).

When it comes to African American organizations, I have more respect for the Urban League which is trying to actually solve problems affecting African Americans, than the NAACP, which seems more interested in scoring partisan points than in solving problems.

Gay Waterboy for the Right

It is not easy being a gay Republican. The first thing I've heard other gays tell me is that being a gay Republican is akin to being a Jew for Hitler.

That always bothers me. No, it angers me. In the years I've been involved with Log Cabin, I've worked hard to gay rights. I've lobbied legislators and been a voice for inclusion. I know many gay Republicans who are working hard to fight what some have called, the last respectable prejudice.

So, it's rather dismaying to see that the lead spokesman for anti gay GOP Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)is gay. He was recently outed by a gay blogger. Not only is he gay, but he stands by his boss. Robert Traynham says about Santorum:

"Senator Santorum is a man of principle. He is a man who sticks up for what he believes in. I strongly do support Senator Santorum."

Santorum has a history of attacking gays. In 2003, shortly after the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas, the Pennsylvania Senator compared consensual gay sex to bigamy and incest. Here is the memorable quote:

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything..."

Santorum is standing by his gay spokesman, calling him an "exemplary staffer" and a "trusted friend [and] confidant to me and my family." He then chides those who have outed him.

I don't agree with outing. It does nothing to advance gay rights. What is the story here is that Mr. Traynham is working for a man that is actively trying to curtail his rights. People will look to him as an example of all gay Republicans who basically kow tow to the far right. He is an embarrasment.

As for Santorum, it's nice that he considers Traynham an fine person. But I'm at a loss to explain why he is then so willing to treat Mr. Tranyham with such "respect" and yet won't allow him to be an equal in the eyes of the law.

It's a bad situation all around.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Republican sources say the President is narrowing the lists of likely Supreme Court nominees, so says this morning's Washington Post. The sources also say that Bush might announce his pick this week.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

RINOs On The Rampage Watch

I'm starting what I hope will be a frequent catalog of moderate Republicans who stand up to the far right. The first post is about a feud between two Republicans over global warming. House Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert, a moderate and stauch evironmentalist has demanded that House Engery and Commerce Chair Joe Barton call of an investigation on three scientists who have tracked the planet's sudden rise in temperatures. Because two Canadian researchers have disputed the findings, Barton is calling on the three Americans to justify their findings. Barton notes this is necessary because:

"this review because this dispute surrounding your studies bears directly on important questions about the federally funded work upon which climate studies rely."

Boelhert's response was that his committee is the one that has jurisdiction over climate change, and that Barton is bullying the researchers because he don't like what they are saying. Boehlert notes in a letter released yesterday:

"My primary concern about your investigation is that its purpose seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them, and to substitute congressional political review for scientific review. This would be pernicious."

I don't think there is any doubt in my mind that Barton is trying to scare the scientific community and also please the oil and gas industry, of which he has jurisdiction under. Barton already has his mind made up and he is going to make sure that the scientific community fall in line.

Kudos must go to Representative Boelhert for standing up for scientific inquiry. I can't tell you for certain that climate change is happening. But I do know that I've seen enough studies to show that something is happening and it's better to implement policies that can stem the tide the damage instead of doing nothing. Plan for the worst and hope for the best should be a conservative motto.

I worry a lot about what would happen if we don't do anything and climate change does begin to dramatically change the planet. I was reading an article by local meterologist, Paul Douglas that presents a chilling scenario of what life would be like in Minnesota 30 years from now in a world ravaged by climate change. (It's not available online at this time, but if I find it, I will share with you all.) It's a world where it's not unusual to have 100-plus days and where there are more tornadoes which are more violent. The land of 10,000 lakes is losing lakes. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Yes this is just one person's view and it could be said to be a bit over the top. We have no idea what the climate will be like in 30 years. However, do we want to take the chance. The GOP says it cares about children and values, but then why is my party so willing it seems to gamble the future of their children? What if we do see dramatic climate change. Does the GOP want to be remebered as the party that did nothing when it had a chance?

I'm thankful for Republicans like Sherwood Boehlert and hope there are more who are willing to stand up for the future and for the earth.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Yes, we know that Rhenquist is staying on. Some think he's clinging on to power, but hey, these are lifetime appointments and he can stay on until they carry him out in a pine box, it's his perrogative.

What is of more interest, is a bipartisan letter sent by four Senators, including the Ladies from Maine, moderate Republicans, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. They are calling for Sandra Day O'Connor to reconsider her retirement from the high court and consider Rhenquists' job (when that opens up, I guess).

Their reasoning is that they want to avoid what very well could be a messy confirmation fight.

It's an interesting letter and does have a point. But, their hopes in having the first female Chief Justice may or may not happen, depending on Rhenquist.

It would be nice if O'Connor would rescind her decision to retire, but I'm not so sure that will happen. She has an ailing husband to attend to. I can understand not wanting a messy fight since the far right is rattling the sabers. I don't want to see that either. However, this doesn't HAVE to be the case if lawmakers and partisans would back off and let the President make his choice and allow the Senate to advise and consent. I'm not saying no hard questions should ever be asked; I'm just saying the naked agression we are seeing on both sides is not helpful to the body politics.

But it would be nice if O'Connor hung on for a little while longer.

Your Government at Work

Charging RINO has worthwhile post about a disgusting exchange among Senators debating a Homeland Security bill. Well, they were supposed to be debating that, but somehow it went waaaaaaaaay of the tracks and became an argument about the Valerie Palme affair. Never mind a staunch ally has just been through a devasting terror attack. Nevermind that New York Police are teaching transit riders how to spot suicide bombers here on American soil. Susan Collins, one of the few "grownups" in the Senate had this to say:

"Mr. President, last week we saw the terrorist attack on an ally. Our country faces very important homeland security challenges. We have been in the midst of debating important public policy issues - how best to secure mass transit or to prepare our first responders. I cannot believe the Senate has diverted from that important debate - a debate important to Americans all across this country - and instead of finishing up the Homeland Security bill, we have diverted to debate these issues.

We should not be doing this. This is exactly why the American public holds Congress in such low esteem right now.

We should be focusing on the national security and homeland security challenges facing this Nation. We should not be engaging in this debate. I, for one, am going to vote no on both of the amendments."

This shows how far off track our leaders have become. Everything is a partisan war. We have a bunch of hacks in Washington, not leaders. Kudos for Senator Collins for seeing what the Senate is truly there for: to work for the good of the nation, not to put a feather in their partisan hacks.

There is never a good time for this kind of sorry "debate," but especially not now, when we need to make sure we can prevent such attacks as those that have happened in London and Madrid. Shame on the Senate for their lack of leadership.

A pox on both their houses, I say.

"Justice Sunday:" The Return

Remember, "Justice Sunday?" If not, lemme refresh your memories. Several luminaries on the religious right hosted an event a megachurch in Kentucky that basically took aim at the Democrats for picking on so-called "people of faith," meaning extreme conservative judicial nominees.

Well, it's back.

Charging RINO reports that the next installment of this politically rally masquerading as a religious event will take place on Sunday August 14. Here's a list of who's invited:

The scheduled speakers' list is a rogue's gallery of all our favorites: James Dobson, Zell Miller, Chuck Colson, Phyllis Schlafly, William Donohue, and Tony Perkins, among others. Country singers Lee Greenwood, Jet Williams and Rebecca St. James will perform. Said Perkins of inviting elected officials, "It was pretty hot last time for them, so I don't want to put them on the spot again" - but he admitted that organizers had not decided whether to invite political leaders or not.

As before, these guys are claiming they are the true believers trying to save the country from ruin. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, is quoted as saying:

"People have to understand, this is not just about a process, this is about the future of the country, it is about our families, it is about the freedom of religion."

They way Perkins and many others on the religious right talk, you'd think the government is ready to start closing churches. I've got news for ya, Tony. There are worse places to be when it comes to exercising your faith. (I think I might share my trip to China and my observations of religious freedom there in a soon-to-be published post.)

I also agree with what the press secretary for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said:

James Manley, an adviser to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, welcomed the telecast, arguing that invoking religion in a political fight was more likely to hurt Republicans than to help them. "Faith is not a partisan issue," Mr. Manley said.

The more the far right acts like the bufoons and bigots that they are, the more this hurts the GOP. And maybe that will help spell the end of their chokehold on my party. One can hope.

If you want to see the kind of "values" Tony Perkins holds dear, you might want to check out this post from April of this year.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pataki for President?

The New York Times is reporting that New York governor George Pataki is testing the waters for a 2008 Presidential run, meaning he may forego running for a fourth term as state executive in 2006. He is going to a meeting this weekend of the National Governors Association which happens to take place in Iowa, the first caucus in the nation.

As the paper suggests, this would be a big test to see if a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights and gun control could win the GOP nomination.

What is refreshing is that Pataki, who is also very gay friendly, isn't planning to ditch his moderate views on social issues to please the far right. As the article notes:

Mr. Pataki, asked about any problems he might have as a moderate trying to win the party's nomination, asserted that that would be less of a problem than some analysts suggest, particularly in the face of what could be a very intense presidential contest in 2008. But, he said, there was little he could do about moderate stances without which, his aides said, he would not have been elected to three terms as New York governor.

"You don't change your philosophy or tilt your beliefs to suit a particular electorate," he said.

Unlike Mitt Romney in Massachusetts who seems bent on twisting himself to please the far right, Patki is who is he is and he doesn't think it will be a big problem. I tend to agree. The far right is only as powerful as people allow it to be.

It seems like 2008 might be a year that moderates will be looking foward to if McCain, Hagel, Guliani and Pataki decide to run.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

War of the Worlds, Part Two

I remember living in London through the Provisional IRA bombing in the 70s. I saw the very first car-bomb explode against the Old Bailey in 1972. There was no warning that time, but after a while a certain etiquette developed.

And, even as I detested the people who might have just as soon have blown me up as anyone else, I was aware there were ancient disputes involved, and that there was a potential political solution.

Nothing of the sort applies in this case. We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

Christopher Hitchens pretty much sums up what I was talking about yesterday. The terrorists who have attacked New York, Washington, Madrid, London and other places around the world, are not interested in addressing political issues, but about imposing a totalitarian agenda. It is a case of religious fundamentalism, faith-based violence that brokes no compromise.

If you want another example, read this story about the killer a Dutch filmaker last fall. The words are chilling.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

War of the Worlds

In conversations with my liberal friends (and they are truly my friends), I sometimes hear the complaint that if only the US wouldn't be in Saudi Arabia or had a different policy on Israel or wasn't in Iraq, that Al Queda would leave us alone.

Again, I love my friends, but I think they are naive.

I think that they tend to see Al Queda operating in the way terrorists did before the 1980s. Back then, terrorist had some cause, such as liberating a country or freeing some people in prison. It could be brutal yes, but you could see that terror was being used a political tool. (I'm not saying this was a moral method, I'm just telling that is what it was used for.) The purpose was to bring a government to do something.

But al Queda is not about that. There is no political purpose to them. This kind of terror is faith-based and that type of terror doesn't believe in negotiation; only punishment. Most of my liberal friends are correct in spelling out the dangers of Christian fundmentalists, but seem to miss the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism. My guess is that they are afriad to be accused of bigotry. But there is nothing wrong with condeming those who use religion for evil purposes, be they Christian or Muslim. It is still blasphmemy.

Ronald Bailey has an excellent article spelling out how al Queda has problems with the US and the wider West not simply for our policy, but because we are.

More on this topic later...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Profiles in Republican Courage, Part Two

Something historic has happened in Oregon. Just months after the state's citizens passed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, the state Senate passed a civil unions bill. The Republican angle here is that two Republicans were among the sponsors. Take a gander at the floor speeches of Senators Ben Westlund and Frank Morse. When you read these speeches, I remember two principles that the GOP seems to have forgotten: freedom and equality. These two heroes remind us that is what this is all about. It's also wonderful to read Mr. Morse's speech because of the positive religious language.

It's very likely the bill may stall in the House where the Republican speaker has vowed not to bring it to vote. Another voice of intolerance may win this battle, but with these two brave men and Russ Potts in Virginia, the war for gay equality, especially in the Republican party is far from over.

A Profile of Republican Courage

"We're all God's children. I don't think that they ought to be precluded from adopting a child ... I know of several situations in which a gay person adopted a child and [was] just a very loving, caring parent.."

-Devout Methodist and registered Republican, Russ Potts, who is running for Governor of Virginia.

Potts view on gays in general:

"I can't imagine that a gay person gets to the pearly gates of heaven and this loving, benevolent God is going to deny that person a place in his kingdom because he or she is gay."

What a refreshing view, to hear a Republican speak compassionately about gays instead of beating us up with the Bible.

You can find out more about Russ Pott's bid for governor, by going here.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bush's Court Record in Texas

The Washington Post has an interesting story about how as governor of Texas, Bush nominated judges who were more pragmatic than ideological. Here's a quote:

In Texas, legal analysts across the political spectrum said Bush employed an open process that reflected how he presented himself as governor -- a pragmatist willing to build consensus. That approach had the effect of bringing many moderates and minorities to the bench. He made four appointments to the state Supreme Court, and legal observers said that moved the very conservative court closer to the center, appeasing consumer groups.

"My impression was that he kept the hard-line Christian right at bay back then," said Richard Murray, a political science professor at the University of Houston. "He relied heavily on an organization that could get good people identified first and foremost. There wasn't much of an ideological test."

One would hope this is a sign that Bush will nominate an O'Connor or Kennedy instead of Scalia or Thomas. But I'm not so sure. Governor Bush is not the same as President Bush. As Governor, he was more of a moderate worked in a bipartisan manner. He was not in the pocket of the Christian Right back then. However, in 2000 (remember his visit to Bob Jones University) and in 2004, Bush and the GOP bent over backwards for the far right. He might do so again for the Supreme Court pick, since this is the Religious Right's holy grail. We shall see.

I don't know, but sometimes I wonder if there is something in the water in DC. With both Clinton and Bush, we have seen governors who while not moderates, were consensus builders come to Washington and become beholden to the extremes. Clinton came in as a centrist, but his first two years in the White House showed more of a move to left. Everyone thought that Bush would govern from the center because of the closeness of the 2000 election. That didn't happen. I'm starting to think that something is keeping these leaders from governing like they did as governor and forcing them to kow tow to the extremes instead.

Is it just me?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Standing With the United Kingdom...

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The London Attacks

May our prayers and thoughts go out to London, still reeling from the string of morning rush hour attacks to the their transportation system. The BBC Online is the best place to get the most up-to-date reports.

Also, Charging RINO is doing a great job of blogging updates.

May God be with us all in these troubling days.

Update:Oxblog has a detailed report of the attacks. Also, check out Jeff Jarvis who has a list of London bloggers giving updates.

Update: The Associated Press, CNN, ABC News and CBS News are reporting the death toll is now around 40.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Can Capitalism Save Africa?

I've been listening to all the talk about relieving the debt of African countries. A lot of people with good hearts (such as all the Live 8 concerts) think that if we give more aid and forgive all the debt, then Africa would be a wonderful place.

I have to ask, why is it that Africa is always seen as a charity case? Why is it that there is always talk of more aid as if aid alone is going to solve all the hunger and poverty in Africa? Do people not think that black people can't turn their economies into powerhouses like many Asian countries have done such as South Korea?

At some level, I've always believed their is a sort of benign racism going on in regards to Africa. There seems to be sense that Africa can't help itself, can't solve it's own problems, has to rely on a benevolent West for its survival. It's that whole Rudyard Kipling, "White Man's Burden" updated for the 21st century. Black people can't lead economies is the underlying thought (tell that to South Africa).

The thing is, aid is not going to help if it goes to corrupt governments who go and enrich themselves. It also bypasses civil society, that part of any African nation that isn't government controlled.

I guess my belief is that if China and India can lift hundereds of millions out of poverty, than so can the African continent. It is resource rich, and does have a resourceful people.

By way of Andrew Sullivan, Washington Post writer Anne Applebaum talks about how the simple Live 8 message might resonate with people, it's not what will change Africa. Here is the money quote:

among those who work seriously on Africa, it has long been clear that what Africans need isn't only cash, which can be stolen or wasted, but the opportunity to trade their way out of poverty, just as Asians did over the past several decades. Yet the current regime of agricultural tariffs, quotas and export subsidies, whether for American cotton or European sugar, so reduces the price of African agricultural products that African farmers cannot compete. Each European cow costs taxpayers $2.20 a day, while half the world's population lives on less than $2 a day. Withdraw the subsidies for the cows, and Africans might even be able to make competitive cheese.

In short, what the West needs to do is not give more money to inept African governments, but instead get rid of subsidies that keep Africans from selling on the world market.

New York Times columist, Nick Kristof echoes that trade and not aid given to badly run governments will save Africa:

Liberals may also put too much faith in aid itself. What Africa needs most desperately are things it can itself provide: good governance, a firmer neighborhood response to genocide in Sudan, and a collective nudging of Robert Mugabe into retirement.

Plenty of studies have shown that aid usually doesn't help people in insecure, corrupt or poorly governed nations. Indeed, aid can even do harm, by bidding up local exchange rates and hurting local manufacturers.

All that said, in the right circumstances aid can be tremendously effective, especially in well-governed countries - Mozambique is an excellent example. And Mr. Bush's new push to help Africa is smartly designed, targeting problems like malaria and sex trafficking, where extra attention and resources will make a big difference on the ground.

Finally, there is an great National Public Radio Interview with Geogre Ayittey, an African-born professor of economics at American University. He is basically saying what I've just said, only better. His interview can be summed up in one sentence:

The solutions to Africa's problems lie in Africa, not in Live Aid Concerts.

Are you listening Bob Geldolf?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Stem Cells: The Battleground of the Republican Civil War

It's interesting to see that after years of seeing moderate Republicans cower in front of the far right, it's nice to see that more and more are fighting back.

The Washington Post has a worthy article about Richard Mahoney, the former CEO of Monsanto and lifelong Republican. He is for stem cell research and made at how some current leaders in the GOP have come out against stem cells.

What's interesting is that the story talks about how stem cell research is the one area where rifts in the GOP show. Here is a money quote:

The battle between Mahoney and his cohort of old-school Republicans -- typified by the business elite and the country club crowd -- and the new guard -- typified by rural and suburban social conservatives in the vast swath between the state's two major metropolitan areas -- underscores the emerging schism in the party.

Much in the same way that free trade splinters the Democratic Party, stem cell research exposes ideological cracks in the GOP. Those cracks are giving Democrats hope of regaining power in states such as Missouri that have trended Republican of late.

If MTV were trying to highlight the issue, it could do a "Celebrity Death Match" between two of Missouri's favorite sons: socially moderate former senator and U.N. ambassador John Danforth and socially conservative former senator and U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft.

What is heartening is that unlike other moderates, Mahoney has no intentions of leaving the party. He says:

He didn't want to talk details, but he said he's working with a group of business and academic leaders to get an initiative on the ballot in Missouri next year to explicitly allow public and private funding of stem cell research.

And he warned me not to interpret this as a sign that he was through with his party.

"What was I supposed to do last year, vote for Kerry?" said Mahoney, joking that he might have been the only person in his native Massachusetts to vote for Richard Nixon. "I don't think so. ... No, I'm a Republican. But I don't have to work hard for them or give them my money, either."

It's good to see someone who is working to bring the party back to the sensible center. It does give me hope.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

SCOTUS Updates

Somehow, I think you will be seeing the acronymn "SCOTUS" a lot in there near future. Here's the SCOTUS Update for today:

I've heard of people trying to draft someone to fun for President, but never for a Supreme Court Justice. Nevertheless, that's what is being done for Fifth Circuit Court Judge Ed Prado. The folks at are trying to persuade the President to nominate Prado who is a moderate and a Hispanic from Texas. He was nominated to the Federal District court by President Reagan in 1984 and nominated by President Bush to his current job.

You have to hand to these guys for trying to get a Centrist to replace O'Connor. Kudos to them for this. Will the President listen? That remains to be seen. has a great post dishing some advice to the President about picking the new justice. It's a conservative viewpoint that is far from ideological. For example:

He should neutralize, not mobilize: In 2004 Bush and Rove accurately gauged that there were enough conservatives in America for a conservative Republican to win the White House by way of a conservative campaign. As I noted time and again at my blog, his strategy was to mobilize these conservatives, to bring them to the polls in numbers not seen ever before. I imagine that many around Bush believe that the mobilization strategy could work just as well for this Court vacancy. I could not disagree more. Such arguments fail to take into account the structural nature of the United States Senate.

If it comes down to a fight between right- and left-leaning interest groups, and the GOP and the Democratic base, the left will win. Pure and simple. The reason for this is that the fight is not in the Electoral College, but in the United States Senate. There is no institution in the world, in the history of the world, that is designed so explicitly to protect the minority and the status quo. Right now, the Democrats are in the minority and an eight-member Court is the status quo. If Senate Democrats strongly desire that this remain the case, it will remain the case. They have too many resources at their disposal to obstruct if they wish to obstruct. For instance, if those left-leaning interest groups convince forty senators to stop a nominee, regardless of the political costs they might face, they will filibuster and Bush will lose. Worse, if those left-leaning interests groups appear to divide the Senate, enough moderate Republicans might abandon Bush's cause for the sake of bringing “unity” to the Senate and of gaining political capital for themselves. Senator McCain has excelled at this tactic.

What Bush must do, then, is neutralize the left. Give the Senate a nominee who places groups like Moveon and People for the American Way in a difficult position. They will oppose Bush regardless of whom he appoints because they want Bush to lose. However, the correct nominee will minimize their ability to influence potential opponents in the Senate. If these groups cannot present to Senate Democrats a politically compelling case to oppose the nominee, Bush will see fewer opponents in the Senate and therefore get a nominee past the minoritarian roadblocks he faces.

This might mean that the American right will be disappointed. They might want a nominee who boldly and unequivocally states his affinity for the Rehnquist/Thomas/Scalia wing of the Court. If Bush's goal is to extend his power, he cannot appoint such a person because the right cannot help him -- not in the Senate.

On the more ideological side is the blog which is definitely for those who like their meat raw. Here's a quote from a recent

entry. This advice is the exact opposite of the one above:

You [meaning President Bush] and the nominee will get hammered and vilified no matter whom you pick. If the nominee were the reincarnation of both John and Thurgood Marshall, the press would portray the nominee as another Roger B. Taney. So, Mr. President, my recommendation is that you just pick the most conservative, qualified, and youngest nominee that you can. Forget the critics since there is no one you could nominate that wouldn’t excite the leftist base. They have been gearing up for this battle for four years and their fund-raising depends on raising a fuss. There is no way that they will defer to Bush’s choice. So, swing for the fences, Mr. Bush. Your base is there for you.

Finally, for a more balanced perspective, there is
Supreme Court Nomination Blog, a project of SCOTUS Blog. One of the most recent posts is one making a convincing case that the President will nominate Priscilla Owen, recently confirmed to the Fifth Circuit. Here is a sampling of why they think this is a possibility:

although Owen has a conservative record easily substantial enough to satisfy concerns of the most conservative elements of the President's base, she doesn't have the paper trail on divisive issues that might produce a genuine public groundswell of opposition. Owen has taken conservative positions in abortion parental consent cases, a question on which Republicans believe they hold the upper hand politically. By contrast, Judge Jones is on the record as opposing Roe itself. Judge Brown's speeches could be employed to paint her as an extremist.

Happy reading.

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