Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Flip-Flop, or Hypocricy?

I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton’s willingness to go into a state she doesn’t even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn’t imitate it.

- Alan Keyes, 2000

Talk about quick witted and thinking on your feet:

As reported by MSNBC:

Aug. 7 – It didn’t sound like a hard question. After George W. Bush delivered a tepidly received address to a convention of minority journalists, a Native-American editor from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer asked, “What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century?” As president and a former governor, the journalist said, Bush had a “unique experience, looking at [the issue] from two perspectives.” The president fumbled. “Tribal sovereignty means that—it’s sovereignty,” he stammered. “I mean, you’re a—you’re a—you’ve been given sovereignty and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity.” As Bush rambled, looking like a schoolboy unprepared at the front of the class, many of the hundreds of Asian, black, Native American and Hispanic journalists gathered before him…well, snickered.

Good thing he’s got a solid grasp on this stuff.

A 140 year old term, still current

After the Civil War,vast numbers of politicians, almost entirely republicans, moved from the North to the South, seeking to take advantage of the reconstruction period to grab their slice of political power. They were termed “Carpetbaggers” after the cheap suitcases they carried their belongings in as they hurried south.

It makes you wonder what kind of luggage Alan Keyes uses, as he hurriedly moves from Maryland to Illinois, hoping to establish residence so he can run for the senate.

And now this…

Despite the squealing from the administration to the contrary, I don’t think any thinking person now doubts that the raising of the “Orange Alert” for the financial districts last week was politically motivated. The data was 3-4 years old, there was no indication of date or timing at all, and the timing was obviously intended to disrupt any positive spin from the Democratic convention.

Now CNN reports:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — The effort by U.S. officials to justify raising the terror alert level last week may have shut down an important source of information that has already led to a series of al Qaeda arrests, Pakistani intelligence sources have said.

Until U.S. officials leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan to reporters, Pakistan had been using him in a sting operation to track down al Qaeda operatives around the world, the sources said.

Maybe I’m a cynic, but it this is either both complete incompetence and utter disregard for one of our “allies” in the so called war on terror, or clear evidence that the administration puts politics above their professed concern for that war.

Take your pick.

Oh, and American dead total is now 930. That counts only american military, by the way, not the contractors and mercenaries that the military is counting on to such an extent in this war. Shouldn’t those numbers be published too? Strangely, I suppose, they are very difficult to find.

Still no WMD.

Accurate or slip of the tongue? We’ll never know….

As reported today by CNN:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said.

“They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

I guess at least he got that right….

It’s not politics…

Bush proposes an intelligence czar in accordance with the 911 commission report. Unfortunately, the details aren’t thought through, and bilaterally congress, and the actual commission, argue that this needs to be planned much more thoroughly with more sweeping changes, than the president recommends. Apparently he gave this a few seconds thought while getting back on his mountain bike after landing on his head.

Tom Ridge claims the recent rise to “Orange Alert” in the financial districts of New York and New Jersey wasn’t politically motivated, after it is revealed that the information which led to the alert is as much as four years old, and none more recent than last January, and no timeframe or date was indicated. If this isn’t politically motivated, why weren’t those details released at the same time as the headlines about the alert were splashed all over the pages?

A letter to the editor in the August 3rd NYT:

To the Editor:

I live in northern New Jersey and work in Midtown Manhattan, near the Citicorp Center. I was listening carefully to Tom Ridge’s warning, as the sites he was mentioning for possible attacks basically encompassed all of my daily life. Then he said, “We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president’s leadership in the war against terror.”

I realized that I was listening to a paid political announcement and turned the radio off. The credibility of the announcement had been reduced to zero.

John Morley
Ridgewood, N.J., Aug. 2, 2004

It seems the only “intelligence” czar we need is someone to find it, somewhere, in the administration.

Oh. And the military death toll in Iraq is now 920, 85% of which were after the famous “Mission Accomplished” photo-op.

Still no WMD.

Who is the biggest “Flip-Flop” artist?

By Bill Mitchell, from the CNN website:

It’s July 30th

I’m not sure why my entries here have dropped off so dramatically. All of them have been either one of two categories, political or personal. Politically, I continue to be amazed and astounded at the incompetence, and audacity, or the current administration. So much so that I feel as though I am becoming numb to it. Reagan was originally termed (I believe) the teflon president, because nothing he did stuck to him. W has surpassed this by an incredible margin. What has happened to the Plame investigation? Someone in government deliberately exposed an American spy for political purposes, threatening not only them but all the contacts they had made, and we hear nothing of it. We go to war under false pretenses, and it is OK because Saddam Hussein was a “Bad Guy” anyway, and we’re better off without him. Nevermind that the world is full of bad guys who we manage to live with, without spending 900 American soldier’s lives, 125 billion dollars, and all the good will this country has managed to accrue worldwide. We have lost 1.1 million american jobs, and the ones we have managed to create are low-paying garbage, and an administration official cracks that people should just take prozac. Take home pay has declined for the last two years, and we are forecasting another record deficit. Any of these things out to be enough to bring down a President, but somehow the Bush administration just ignores it, the press ignores it, and the great unwashed hoi polloi of American voters buys into it.

If that’s not depressing, what is?

Personally, and speaking of depression, things have been not so good. I have been slipping into a depressive state over the last few months, and didn’t feel it coming on until recently. Last January I cut out some anti-depressant medication, and just got the doc to get me back on it. I hope it helps.

I think what would get me out of this more than anything else, though, is finding something to do that felt worthwhile. My current paying job has been junk work for years. I am the company handyman, and get thrown at any garbage project that comes along. Usually this means trying to do something in 3 weeks or so, with no clue as to background, and no chance to investigate the problem well. I feel used, and as though I have no opportunity to actually get involved and contribute to anything.

Over the last few months I have written what may be the best piece of software I’ve ever done. Unfortunately, it’s a competition management package for homebrew competitions, which has a US market of maybe 50 copies or so. ;) What this has done, at least, is prove to myself that I can still write software, given the opportunity. What I have no confidence in, at all, is that the management of my company can actually find us work to do. I can do my job, I have no evidence that he can do his.

I’d love to go independent, change careers, or just change jobs, but the responsibility of providing for education and support of my family is overwhelming. I can’t risk jeopardizing that responsibility for the possibility that I might be better off emotionally. This is often referred to as “golden handcuffs,” and boy am I caught. In eight years the twins will be out of college. I may be able to change careers then, if I manage to live so long.

In personal news, I did just get back from scout summer camp. Fun. I didn’t go last year, which was the first year I’d missed in eight or so. It was just as much fun, and passed just as quickly, as it did before. I was so proud of my troop. They earned an average of 4.8 merit badges per scout, and had no partials, or incompletes. What really impressed me was how scouts supported each other. If one had finished a badge, he went to help his friends who hadn’t. There was cooperation everywhere in helping to get things done. Late Friday, as a few where struggling to complete the work for one tough badge, others were there to cheer them on. On Saturday morning, as I was waiting in line to talk to counselors about badges, other scouts with no issues were there as support to help their friends. That, in it’s ultimate essence, is what scouting is about, and they really excelled.

My boys are going back for another week, kind of a family tradition. More impressively, two other kids from the troop are going with them. I’ve never been associated with a better group of kids, and I challenge anyone who likes to complain about american youth to come get to know these guys. It will show you what american youth is really all about.

OK I’m tired of writing. At least this is an entry, with a little more than usually dismay over the leadership of what ought the greatest country on earth.

A July 4th NY Times editorial

Their George and Ours

Published: July 4, 2004

When they first heard the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, New Yorkers were so electrified that they toppled a statue of King George III and had it melted down to make 42,000 bullets for the war. Two hundred twenty-eight years later, you can still get a rush from those opening paragraphs. “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” The audacity!

Read a little further to those parts of the declaration we seldom venture into after ninth-grade civics class, and you may feel something other than admiration: an icy chill of recognition. The bulk of the declaration is devoted to a list of charges against George III, several of which bear an eerie relevance to our own time.

George III is accused, for example, of “depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury.” Our own George II has imprisoned two U.S. citizens — Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi — since 2002, without benefit of trials, legal counsel or any opportunity to challenge the evidence against them. Even die-hard Tories Scalia and Rehnquist recently judged such executive hauteur intolerable.

It would be silly, of course, to overstate the parallels between 1776 and 2004. The signers of the declaration were colonial subjects of a man they had come to see as a foreign king. One of their major grievances had to do with the tax burden imposed on them to support the king’s wars. In contrast, our taxes have been reduced — especially for those who need the money least — and the huge costs of war sloughed off to our children and grandchildren. Nor would it be tactful to press the analogy between our George II and their George III, of whom the British historian John Richard Green wrote: “He had a smaller mind than any English king before him save James II.”

But the parallels are there, and undeniable. “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power,” the declaration said of George III, and today the military is indulgently allowed to investigate its own crimes in Iraq. George III “obstructed the Administration of Justice.” Our George II has sought to evade judicial review by hiding detainees away in Guantánamo, and has steadfastly resisted the use of the Alien Tort Claims Act, which allows non-U.S. citizens to bring charges of human rights violations to U.S. courts.

The signers further indicted their erstwhile monarch for “taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.” The administration has been trying its best to establish a modern equivalent to the divine right of kings, with legal memorandums asserting that George II’s “inherent” powers allow him to ignore federal laws prohibiting torture and war crimes.

Then there is the declaration’s boldest and most sweeping indictment of all, condemning George III for “transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.” Translate “mercenaries” into contract workers and proxy armies (remember the bloodthirsty, misogynist Northern Alliance?), and translate that last long phrase into Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.

But it is the final sentence of the declaration that deserves the closest study: “And for the support of this Declaration . . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Today, those who believe that the war on terror requires the sacrifice of our liberties like to argue that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” In a sense, however, the Declaration of Independence was precisely that.

By signing Jefferson’s text, the signers of the declaration were putting their lives on the line. England was then the world’s greatest military power, against which a bunch of provincial farmers had little chance of prevailing. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t kidding around with his quip about hanging together or hanging separately. If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.

They signed anyway, thereby stating to the world that there is something worth more than life, and that is liberty. Thanks to their courage, we do not have to risk death to preserve the liberties they bequeathed us. All we have to do is vote.


Talk about Custer’s last photo-op

Just in case you haven’t noticed, more than 5 times as many American soldiers have now been killed since Bush stood on the deck of the carrier and announced “Mission Accomplished” as before that date. Talk about Custer’s Last Photo-Op.

If you are keeping score –
American soldiers killed: 851.
American soldiers wounded: 4950.
Cost of the war to date: $120 Billion
Weapons of Mass Destruction uncovered: 0.
Connections between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda proved: 0.