Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eminent Domain Update

The Institute for Justice will be joining in the appeal launched by a group of Long Branch neighbors fighting to save their houses from the city which intends to sell that land to a developer who would build condos.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

California's Forward Looking But Controversial AntiDiscrimination Law

Some gays won't consider this a milestone given the legalization of gay marriages in Massachusetts but in some ways the Nondiscrimination in State Programs and Activities Act California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed into law yesterday far surpasses it.

SB 1441 (now Chapter 182) bars sexual orientation-based (classified as heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual) discrimination in any program or activity conducted, operated, administered, or financed by the state and/or a California state agency, including any religious or non-religious private company that receives financial backing from the state. Organizations which choose to discriminate on this account presumably would have to forgo state funding.

To this date, California offered its gay and bisexual residents some limited, noncontroversial protections that most heterosexuals take for granted. The Unruh Civil Rights Act, for example, bars public accommodations and business establishments from discriminating on account of one's race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender, disability, medical condition, or marital status. The state's Fair Employment and Housing Act, too, forbids sexual orientation-based discrimination.

But Chapter 182, unlike these laws which are commonly found in the northeast and midwest, treats anti-gay animus like sexism, racism, religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination California deems abhorrent. The state considers its commitment to sexual orientation-based equality as fundamental and vital to the state's interests as race-based and gender-based equality - so fundamental in fact that it will bar funding for otherwise worthy programs and activities when such discrimination is practiced.

Religious conservatives, understandably are fuming because Christian social service organizations which proselytize would be denied funding they may now get from the state if they do not abide by the state's prohibition against sexual orientation-based discrimination. Some principled libertarians who believe this may infringe upon social service workers' First Amendment religious exercise may object as well.

They might appeal in state and federal courts and collect signatures to overturn this precedent-setting law in a referendum or proposition. Their First Amendment religious exercise claim would have some merit since the state is conditioning their aid upon their accpetance of recipients they consider non-repentent sinners but the claim is weaker now then it was before The Supreme Court dismissed purse power coalition in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights where it suggested, fund witholding is not enoughto sustain claims of constitutional rights infringement when participation in a funding program is optional. Seek public financing and you are bound by the terms set by the donor or loaner. Add to that their acquiescence to federal and state laws that already conditions such aid on their promise to treat "saved" and unsaved" souls equally (The Christian organization that services the Jew or the Muslim and vice versa).

The Political Heretic believes they might have a stronger case if they use Section 104Section 104 (Charitable Choice) provision of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act of 1996 signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. California's new law may conflict with this provision:

c) Nondiscrimination Against Religious Organizations.--In the event
a State exercises its authority under subsection (a), religious
organizations are eligible, on the same basis as any other private
organization, as contractors to provide assistance, or to accept
certificates, vouchers, or other forms of disbursement, under any
program described in subsection (a)(2) so long as the programs are
implemented consistent with the Establishment Clause of the United
States Constitution. Except as provided in subsection (k), neither the
Federal Government nor a State receiving funds under such programs shall
discriminate against an organization which is or applies to be a
contractor to provide assistance, or which accepts certificates,
vouchers, or other forms of disbursement, on the basis that the
organization has a religious character.
(d) Religious Character and Freedom.--
(1) Religious organizations.--A religious organization with
a contract described in subsection (a)(1)(A), or which accepts
certificates, vouchers, or other forms of disbursement under
subsection (a)(1)(B), shall retain its independence from
Federal, State, and local governments, including such
organization's control over the definition, development,
practice, and expression of its religious beliefs.
(2) Additional safeguards.--Neither the Federal Government
nor a State shall require a religious organization to--
(A) alter its form of internal governance; or
(B) remove religious art, icons, scripture, or other

in order to be eligible to contract to provide assistance, or to
accept certificates, vouchers, or other forms of disbursement,
funded under a program described in subsection (a)(2).

The religious organizations could argue that this law imposes upon states that seek federal aid cconditions which deny them the right to impose restrictions on those which it seeks to use state money. (This law, however, can be and should be challenged on First Amendment religious establishment grounds).

But whether they succeed or not, (The Political Heretic will leave that up to the courts to decide) the governor should be commended from gays across the political divide. Gay marriage legislation, while nice, does not commit the state to eradicating prejudice. This law, if applied, would.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Iraq: The Political Front

Two positive developments in the northern Iraq:

(1)The U.S. State Department is sending retired Air Force General Joseph Ralston, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, to the Middle East as a special envoy to help the Turks and Iraqis fight the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party). The PKK is an ethnonationalistic insurgency group fighting for predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern region of Turkey. Since the PKK guerrillas have conducted cross border attacks from the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, the Turks have requested permission to enter Iraqi territory if the Iraqis and Americans do not contain them. Better late than never.

(2)Iraq's Kurds, fearing such an assault and the destruction such a war may lead to, may be distancing itself from the PKK's strategy if this PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) official's statement and sentiments are widely shared by the officials within the regional and local governments as well. This official carefully distanced himself from the PKK's tactics, which include acts of terrorism and its insurgency without repudiating its political aims.

If the Kurdish use their Persh Merga to deny the PKK access to and from Turkey, the war between the Turks and its Kurdish rebels can be contained and the threat of a far broader regional war over the Kurdish regions, Arab-populated Iraq, and the other reigonal powers that would sponsor one of the political factions vying for power in Baghdad, minimized. Denying the cross border access may strenthen Turkey's political hand enough to force the PKK to the bargaining table. The Turks already have an incentive to negotiate: the Kurds in northern Iraq already won de facto independence.

Irony: The Death Penalty

On Sunday, three prisoners held in the cell block reserved for the worst offenders stabbed a 59-year-old death row inmate in the throat, cheek, and head. A St. Quentin spokesperson said, "it was definitely an attempt to murder him."

The man was sentenced to death after he was convicted for the killing of several people during a 1983 robbery. We don't know if the man had exhausted his appeals and consequently has no chance of having a court overturn his sentence but let's assume, fo r the sake of argument, that he fought an unsuccessful legal battle all the way up to California's Supreme court and the United States Supreme Court refused to grant him a hearing. Let's also, for the moment, assume that no governor would ever grant him a pardon or clemency.

In otherwords, there is no doubt that the state will put him to death on the scheduled day. Had the three conspirators succeeded, they would have killed someone that the state already planned to kill. So what did they do wrong? Why does the San Quentin spokesperson call their attack an attempted murder while the state would call the very same act a death penalty?

Immigrant Smuggling

Given the added financial costs imposed upon the hospitals, public schools, and ultimately the American taxpayer for every uninsured illegal immigrant that enters this country, Mr. Armando Rangel-Rodriguez' 15-year sentence for the smuggling of 100 + illegals is too light. He got at most 6 2/3 years for each illegal immigrant he smuggled into our country, Maybe Congress should double or triple, or even quadruple the penalty.

Long Punishment

Now if more sentences like this were handed down we'd have no need for Megan's Law and similar legislation that purportedly helps us protect our children by requiring notification whenever a dangerous sexual predator moves in to the neighborhood.

Monday, August 28, 2006

More on the Iraqi people's "objectives and their dreams"

"The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society." - President George W. Bush

Well, so which of these two groups, if either, represents their "objectives and their dreams" for a "democratic society? And do the Kurds want to be a part of this "democratic society" or do they want to have one for their own?

Chris Matthews' Missed Opportunity on Santorum and the War in Iraq

Last week on "Hardball," Chris Matthews asked Senator Rick Santorum, a conservative Republican incubment up for re-election this Novemeber, to reconcile Vice President Richard Cheney's early statements connecting Saddam Hussein with al Qaeda and President George W. Bush's recent statement no one in his administration suggested that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Later, to bolster the president's dubious claim that the Iraqis are united behind one "objective" and one "dream," the senator offered the following response to Chris Matthews' question:

MATTHEWS: Why are we losing 3,500 Iraqis a month if they‘re all working together. They‘re shooting at each other, Shi‘a against the Sunni, the Sunni against the Shi‘a. If they‘re shooting against each other, how can they be part of what you call a common theme? They hate each other, the Shi‘a and the Sunni.

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, they do hate each other, but what I think we know is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And you see Shi‘a and Sunni working together in a lot of different areas of the world to attack the West, to attack Israel, to attack whatever the case may be.

And so, no, I would disagree with you. Yes, there certainly are internal problems. This is not a very simple and clean approach. But there is clearly—if you see not only Sunni and Shi‘a working together against the West, but when you see them engaged with...

MATTHEWS: OK. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

SANTORUM: ... North Korea, Venezuela and a whole bunch of others, you know you‘ve got a serious problem.

MATTHEWS: Senator Rick Santorum, you just said the enemy of my enemy is my friend. You and the Green Party of Pennsylvania. It would be helpful to you to have a large Green Party turnout to reduce the support for the Casey campaign.

So, Mr. Santorum says the Iraqis are united by one thing - their hatred toward the United States, its government, and its soldiers. Great. Chris Matthews, too pre-occupied with the Santorum campaign's political strategy to divide the liberals who want the vulnerable conservative Republican ousted, forgot to ask Santorum why we should help those who hate us settle their political differences so they can turn around and fight against us.

For his part, the senator should keep his mouth shut and let other pro-war supporters speak for the cause.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

President Bush's Press Conference On The War in Iraq

The PoliticalHeretic apologizes for the slow response to what in this day and age are considered old stories but hopes to blog on a daily or almost-daily basis now that the ongoing site maintenance project is completed. But, anyway:

Last week President George W. Bush held a press conference in which he answered White House reporters' questions concerning the cease-fire agreement between Lebanon and Israel and the war in Iraq. Public confidence in the president's military strategy have waned considerably since American troops first invaded Iraq and toppled its dictator, Saddam Hussein. Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, lost his state party's primary over his continued support for the war in Iraq and he is in danger of losing in the general election if the latest polls accurately reflect that state's voter's mood. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), a staunch war supporter, has distanced himself from the president's military strategy and suggests now that the voting public was misled into thinking this would be an easy victory.

If the war's supporters hoped that Mr. Bush would take this opportunity and offer the voting public a strategy to regain its confidence in the ongoing war effort, they should be severely disappointed. The president must convince the voting public that he has a strategy to win the war in Iraq if the voters are going to repudiate those who disagree with him at the polls.

In response to one reporter's question concering a change in strategy the president said the following, which can also be found on the White House's web site:

"The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. The tactics -- now, either you say, yes, its important we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the President. That would be a huge mistake. It would send an unbelievably terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks. It would embolden Iran. It would embolden extremists.

No, we're not leaving. The strategic objective is to help this government succeed. That's the strategic -- and not only to help the government -- the reformers in Iraq succeed, but to help the reformers across the region succeed to fight off the elements of extremism. The tactics are which change. Now, if you say, are you going to change your strategic objective, it means you're leaving before the mission is complete. And we're not going to leave before the mission is complete. I agree with General Abizaid: We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here.

"The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams." No it is not. A strategy refers to the means by which a planner, in this case, Mr. Bush, successfully accomplishes his goal. The president responded to the question by providing the reporter with his goal - and worse, one that is undefined and supported by a premise that is consistently undermined, in the voting public's mind, by the facts on the ground.

Notwithstanding the president's lofty visions, Iraq is embroiled within a civil war in which the principle parties vie for their own competing and in some cases, opposing "objectives" and "dreams." Shi'ite militia vies with Shi'ite militia for power in Baghdad and the Shi'ite regions while retaliating against the Baathist Sunni insurgents seeking to reclaim power and al Qaeda terrorists using Iraq as a terrorist training camp. In the north, Kurds, hungry for an independent sovereign state to call their own, are pushing the Shi'ite, Sunni, and Turkomen Iraqis out of Kirkuk so they can claim the Kirkuk oil fields for themselves.

Mr. Bush has not told the American public which faction and consequently, which faction's "objectives" and "dreams" we should back, nor did he, in the alternative, offer a strategy to get theprincipal factions behind a workable compromise. Should the president fail, he or his successor may be pressured into a premature withdrawal, leaving the factions at the mercy of their more powerful Turkish, Syrian, Saudi, and Iranian neighbors.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Weekend Preview

As usual, a preview of who will be on and what will be discussed on the weekend talk shows. Primary topic is Hurricane Katrina and the progress report on the on-going reconstruction and recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The News Interview Shows

1. Meet The Press
(MSNBC): Hurricane Katrina. (1)New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on the city's accomplishments and struggles following Hurricane Katrina. (2)FEMA Director style="font-weight:bold;">David Paulison on the recovery efforts and the city's preparedness for another hurricane. (3) Roundtable discussion with Robert Novak of The Chicago Sun Times, Al Hunt of Bloomberg News, Kate O'Beirne of The National Review, and Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post on election 2006, the big races to watch for, and the issues on the voting public's mind.

2. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (CNN): (a) Violence in Iraq and (b) Hurricane Katrina. Guests include Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) of the Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) of the Armed Services Committee, Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding Donald Powell and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D).

3. FOX News Sunday (FOX News): (a) Lessons from Katrina as viewed by Don Powell of the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding and New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas. (b)Other guests include Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Steve Case.

4. This Week (ABC News): Hurricane Katrina and Pluto's demotion.(a)Former FEMA Director Michael Brown on Hurricane Katrina and how things went all wrong. (b) Senator Mary Landrieu on the rebuilding efforts. (c)Gulf Coast Rebuilding Coordinator Don Powell on what those in the Mississippi region who struggling to recover can expect from the government. (d) Roundtable discussion includes Donna Brazile of ABC News, George F. Will of ABC News and The Washington Post, and former White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace. (e)Bill Nye, "the Science Guy" on Pluto's demotion to "dwarf planet."

5. Face The Nation (CBS): Hurricane Katrina. Governor Haley Barbour (R-Mississippi) and FEMA Director David Paulison.

The Talk Shows

1. The Chris Matthews Show (CNBC): (a) the fall out if The Democratic Party retakes Congress. (b) How Senator and presidential aspirant John McCain (R-Arizona) will campaign on the Iraq War. Pundits include Norah O'Donnell of NBC News, Howard Fineman of Newsweek, Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, and Michael Duffy of Time Magazine.

2. FOX News Watch (FOX News):
the mid-term elections and the Ramsey murder case. (a) the media frenzy over JonBenet murder person of interest John Mark Karr. (b)the press on Hurricane Katrina one year later. (c)Tom Cruise being portrayed as a media victim or media star. Regular pundits are Jane Hall, Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Neil Gabler and host Eric Burns.

3. Beltway Boys (FOX News): (a)Predictions for the 2006 mid-term Congressional elections. (b) why Senator John McCain is distancing himself from the president on the war in Iraq.

4. Heartland (FOX News): the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, illegal immigration, and national security. (a) Jon Benet Ramsey's former pageant rival reflects on the death of her friend and the latest developments in the investigation. (b)interview with Patrick J. Buchanan on illegal immigration. (c)interview with Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen on national security. (d)Actor Tommy Chong.

5. Big Story PrimeTime and Big Story Weekend (FOX News): (a) Big Story Weekend - (1)whether the mid-term elections will be decided by the war in Iraq. (2)the head of the New Orleans zoo and aquarium on the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. (b) Big Story PrimeTime - (1) Former FEMA Director Michael Brown on the lessons we should have learned from Hurricane Katrina. (2) Pat Buchanan on illegal immigration. (3)whether the evidence supports John Mark Karr's confession to the killing of JonBenet Ramsey.

Feature News Shows

1. CBS Sunday Morning (CBS):
a re-broadcasting of the May 13, 2006 show. (a) Cover Story - Martha Teichner returns to her hometown in Michigan and gives a progress report on the lives of the women who live there. (b) Higher Calling - profile of Mother Dolores, a former Hollywood Actress who was engaged to get married, give that life up to be a nun. (c) You Go Girl - profile of the leading drag racer of the day, Melanie Troxel.

2. Dateline NBC (NBC):
"The Education of Ms. Groves" - a documentary on the experience and challenges of first-year English middle school teacher Ms. Groves. Ms. Groves was recruited by an education-focused group "Teach for America," an organization that selects some of the most accomplished graduates to teach in low-income school districts.

3. 48 Hours (CBS): Live (a) Barry Minkow a former con-man and evengelical minister makes amends by investigating fraud. (b)interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on the reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Katrina and his controversial comments regarding the World Trade Center. (c)scientific clues as to what may determine one's sexual orientation.

4. CNN Presents (CNN):
"In The Footsteps of Bin Laden"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Pill

Privacy rights and abortion rights activists won a rare victory when the Food and Drug Administration approved Barr Laboratories' application to have Plan B, an abortificient pill,sold over the counter for adults. Minors would still need a prescription from the doctor before they can acquire the pill. Comments will follow on the weekend or early next week.

Not a Planet

I wonder what Stephen Colbert will do now that scientists have downgraded Pluto from planet to "dwarf planet" since its orbit overlaps Neptune's.

Just a Note To My Readers

The PoliticalHeretic has not done any blogging this week but as you can see he decided to accept the free Blogger beta upgrade in part, so he can add search labels to most if not all of his posts (this would be one, for instance, that won't have a label).

Readers who want to refer to back articles on, say my thoughts, analysis, and links on Iraq, can look to the right and click on "Iraq" to do so and those who want a far wider search on my posts on "foreign policy" in general, the so-called "war on terror," or the culture wars, gays, abortion, or free speech, can do so as well.

This is, however, a time consuming process and unfortunately the PoliticalHeretic is only half done. Dan Asmussen's cartoons will be posted on Friday and the weekend preview as well but the blogging through to the end of this week will be light if at all.

Expect a return to blogging Monday.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The War on Terrorism: What Bush Has Undermined

This is what the "New Middle East" President George W. Bush has backed won for the United States. Perhaps someone within the administration should be reading more George F. Will. He did not. The president listened to those who said this would be a cake-walk. He listened to the neoconservatives who said the Iraqis would greet us as liberators and vote a pro-Western secular politician into power.

He bought into the advice from those who said we can win the war and peace with the air force and subsequently could not press the factions vying for political supremacy to the negotiating table before things got out of control. Now he gave the anti-war activists and even worse, the Chomskyite anti-imperialist and peacenik factions the credibility they for good reason lost after Islamic jihadists crashed two airplanes into the Twin Towers, a third into the Pentagon and a fourth into a field.

What has Mr. Bush's push for democracy won us? Militant Islamists in the Palestinian territories, and a "pro-western" but hopelessly inept government in Lebanon. The Kurdish secessionists in NATO ally Turkey were inspired by the de facto victory Iraq's Kurds won for themselves with our acquiescence. Turkey's pro-Western administration now has nothing to show for its support or acquiescence. It has not been invited into the European Union and the PKK terrorists fighting for an independent Kurdistan at Turkey's own expense can now hide in the Iraq's Kurdish zone. The anti-AmericanIslamists in Saudi Arabia and Egypt can use the president's own talking points to bring down the pro-western moderate autocratic regimes in oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Thank Mr. Bush for this fiasco. Maybe his successor will remember to go in with everything we have or, failing that, not go in at all.

Olmert's Administration Won't Last

Say goodbye and good riddance to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The recriminations following Israel's unsuccessful (and yes, their analysis, as opposed to the ones offered here and here, is the correct one) campaign to rid Lebanon and themselves of Hizbollah. has started. The peace process is dead. His predecessor's unilateral withdrawal campaign is dead and, unless France,Italy, Germany, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States or some other country that has that the Israelis could trust to disarm Hizbollah.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dan Asmussen

While the United States Constitution is arrested, Boy George is sent to clean up Lebanon.

The Weekend Preview

The Political Interview Shows

1. Meet The Press: (a) Senator John McCain (R) of the Armed Services Committee on the war in Iraq, terrorism of politics, and the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Lebanon. (b) Retired General Barry McCaffrey, The Wall Street Journal columnist John Harwood, and Dr. Vali Nasr - author of "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future."

2. Face The Nation: Iraq, the war on terror and politics. Guests include Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut and independent candidate for the senate) and national political reporter Jim VanderHei of The Washington Post.

3. This Week: (a) Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Lebanon. (b) British Home Secretary John Reid on the latest developments on the foiled airplane terror plot and the British authorities' investigative techniques. (c) Roundtable discussion between Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, syndicated columnist George F. Will, The Washington Post's Robin Wright, and Middle East affairs expert Reuel Gerecht.

4. Fox News Sunday: (a) Commercial air travel security with Representative Pete King (R-New York) of the Homeland Security Committee, former head of security for the Israeli Airport AuthorityRafi Ron, and former Presidential Counterterrorism Advisor Rand Beers. (b) Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) on the developments at home and abroad on the war on terror. Questions will include America's investigative tactics and whether they are, as the president asserts, thwarted by requirements to seek warrants from FISA and those who oppose techniques authorized by the Patriot Act, the fragile cease-fire in Lebanon and the major sticking points that may thwart it and the war in Iraq. (c) Sunday panel includes Fox News Managing Editor Brit Hume, The Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, Roll Call Executive Editor Morton Kondracke, and The New York Times reporter Anne Kornblut. (d) Power Player of the Week is Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner.

5. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Whether the now one-week old cease-fire in Lebanon will hold. Guests have yet to be announced but the promise is to have top Israeli and Lebanese officials speak for their side.

Political Talk Shows:

1. The Chris Matthews Show: (a) the president's own confidence in the Iraq war is debated. (b) the Connecticut Democratic Primary as viewed as a proxy war overIraq. Guests include Dan Rather of HDNet, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, Katty Kay of BBC, and Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times.

2. Beltway Boys: (a) Republicans and Democrats playing politics over national security, accusing each other for being soft on the war on terror. (b) whether Hizbollah won the cease-fire.

3. Big Story Weekend and Big Story PrimeTime: (a) Big Story Weekend - (1) whether the police have a strong case against John Mark Karr, a person of interest caught for the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. (2) Congressional insight into some of the hottest political races this fall. (b) Big Story PrimeTime - (1) whether the evidence supports John Mark Karr's confession to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. (2) whether the cease-fire between Israel and Hizbollah in Lebanon will hold.

4. Heartland: Steven and Marlin Aisenberg tell their side of the story over Baby Sabrina's disappearance, a case in which her parents turned into prime suspects. (b) The latest in the JonBenet Ramsey case.

5. FoxNews Watch: (a) News coverage on the cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon. (b) the Ramsey parents as former murder suspects in media circles (c) crediting U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for thwarting the latest terror plot.

Feature News Programs

1. Dateline NBC: (a) Friday show -blaming food marketing or ourselves for obesity. (b) Saturday show - the Katrina Montgomery murder investigation re-started after the suspected killer is tricked out of hiding.

2. 20/20: (a) missing models in Namibia. (b) John Stossel's "Give Me A Break" segment on lawsuits on "summer's greatest pleasures."

3. 48 Hours: a man who surived two murder attempts dies under mysterious circumstances.

4. CBS Sunday Morning: (a) Cover story - some intriguing facts on the bee's life. (b) Almanac - the longest frisbee toss. (c) oak trees. (d) postcard from France - two winemakers.

5. 60 Minutes: (a) the anti-aging medicine industry (b) interview with Hirsi Ali, creator of the controversial movie "Submission."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lebanon and France's Not So Credible Threat

However, she and other French officials have increasingly said that working out the mandate of the enhanced force is crucial before settling on a number of troops to contribute. - excerpt from The Jerusalem Post, in reference to the Chirac administration's new doubts about its commitment. On France-2 television, Allie-Marie said the French would lead the force through February.

Let the negotiations over the second draft resolution begin. The French, now committed, threaten to back out but how credible can their threat be? They wanted this cease-fire and they caved into Lebanon's (excuse me, Hizbollah's) demands for a Chapter 6 (as opposed to a Chapter 7) UN Resolution and for a two-resolution solution. The French cannot back out without undermining their negotiation credibility. They committed themselves to put the troops in to enforce this cease-fire and Israel no doubt in part consented to it knowing that the French, and not just some Indonesian and Malaysian troops representing countries with no relationship with Israel, would protect them. If they don't back down, Israel could reverse course, keep its troops in Lebanon and re-start the war it lost - something France wanted to end from the very beginning.

And will the Americans cede to the French a leading role in negotiations again if the French back down? Don't count on it. Their one and only card was the promisee of French peacekeepers.

French officials are of course right. The United Nations has to provide the multinational force with a clear, long-term mandate and rules of engagement if this cease-fire is to hold. Will the force have the authorization to intercept weapons shipments entering Lebanon? Will it do what the Lebanese so far have agreed to not do and seize Hizbollah's arms while blowing the tunnels up?

The U.S. president and his administration originally called for a one-resolution solution that would have included the rules of engagement France now seeks. Had they sided with us on that point their negotiating position would have been stronger. While everyone save Hizbollah wanted a way out of this crisis, the Lebanese government itself would have suffered the most from the continued warfare since risked its very own collapse.

Now we see the fruits of Israel's premature cease-fire and the questionable cease-fire resolution ultimately backed by the United States and France. We have arrived at the moment of truth. The Lebanese will not forcibly disarm Hizbollah and indeed, to win their backing, they have promised to leave their weapons and tunnels alone, providing the guerrillas who live in southern Lebanon the means to re-start this war at any time of Nasrallah's choosing. No clear rules of engagement were made regarding the multinational force's authority to respond to attacks, weapons shipments, and disarmament. France is backing its negotiating position up with an undeliverable threat while Hizbollah backs its with a credible threat.

If this war is not re-started soon, or if Lebanon's administration refuses to switch sides and disown Hizbollah, the terrorists may win the "peace."

Lebanon Cease-fire: The Key is Sovereignty

"Terrorism acts outside the jurisdiction of states and subverts their stability. It is elusive because it isn't accountable in the usual political sense. It is hard to exact a price from terrorists. Embargoes do not affect them, treaties do not bind them, and elections cannot remove them. It turns out that the way the Bush administration is framing the problem has limited utility. The problems in the Middle East do not turn on a question of democracy versus terrorism. They are really a struggle between governability and chaos. The antidote to terrorism is therefore not always instant democracy. It is orderly sovereignty." - Gadi Taub in The New Republic

The Lebanon Cease-fire Deal: tt's About Syria

"If the current effort is to be different, we will need a credible international force shaped by real, not symbolic, missions and a new approach to Syria -- one that gives the Syrians a reason to calculate their interests differently." - Dennis Ross in The Washington Post

Good idea. Threaten Syria with economically crippling sanctions for non-coo0peration and entice them with money and the Golan Heights if they crack down on Hizbollah. But will President George W. Bush actually talk to them? Will the French go along with the threat of sanctions for noncompliance and even if they would go along, can they deliver the other European countries' sustained cooperation?

Resting In Peace

“Not dead, they’re snoring.” - a 911 dispatcher, after the line goes dead while speaking to a 32-year old trapped on the 83rd floor of the second World Trade Center Tower on 9/11.

Rowan School District

"For the board to have approved that, it would give it a legitimacy," he said. "... We listen to the community and the community doesn't want that in South Rowan." - Chairman Bryce Beard of Rowan-Salibury School Board of Education in North Carolina, explaining why some students have a right a constitutional right to assemble on campus grounds for their cause while others do not. (Hat tip goes to, where I first read about this story).

"In part, that's because of the contortions, legal and otherwise, required to formulate a policy that was clearly devised in response to one particular group yet cannot appear to be so narrowly construed if it's to withstand legal review. One of those contortions involves labeling the Gay/Straight Alliance at South Rowan High as a "sex club," which is akin to calling the Bingo Club a coven of gambling addicts. Another contortion involves the stretching and straining of legal precedent, which has previously held that such policies can't be enforced unless schools disband practically all extracurricular clubs." - the editorial for The Salisbury Post

"When a school allows extracurricular clubs, it's all or nothing. They can't discriminate ... They can't pick and choose." - Jennifer Rudinger of the ACLU.

So does the First Amendment say anthing which would suggest that a government-maintained institution can deny the ideologically-driven members of one particular movement asssociation/assembly rights offered to those of another movement? Nope. Not if the First Amendment, as the Supreme Court of the United States has consistently ruled, applies to state and local public institutions as well and not if the freedom to associate and assemble to fight or advocate for a cause means anything, the powers that be have no authority to limit those rights to those supporting the favored cause.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hizbollah, Bush, and Olmert

Brilliant move. By hiding among Lebanese citizens, Hizbollah forces Israel to bomb the Lebanese citizens' homes, schools, stores, and places of work. Israeli armed forces distribute fliers, warning the residents to leave but still wins the public's hatred for every Lebanese woman and child killed during the air raids while the Arab community and the United Nations blames Israel "disproportionate" attacks launched in relaliation for Hizbollah's raid upon Israeli soil. The United States, fearing the collapse of an essentially useless and unstable "ally" it claims as its one success story, caves in to the demands for a cease-fire. Then, having forced Israel to kill their own neighbors, the terrorists win their lasting devotion by rebuilding what the Israeli forces destroyed. Go figure.

Had the Lebanese Shi'ites turned their Hizbollah guerrilla neighbors into the proper authorities in the first place, there would have been no Hizbollah raid into Israel and consequently, no need for retaliatory strikes. And yet the world considers them innocents and blames Israel. Go figure.

Why did the Israelis drop the leaflets warning Lebanon's Shi'ites to flee to the north, offering Hizbollah a chance to prepare for the next air raid, when they were going to lose the public image war anyway?

What a revolting development. and now Hizbollah says it won't disarm unless the caves and tunnels it uses to transport its weapons and soldiers to the front lines against Israel remain untouched. This is the peace Olmert's air offensive won for his country? This is the negotiated settlement U.S. President George W. Bush fought for? With victories like this, he should endorse "Defeatacrat" Ned Lamont.

Farber's Replacement

Fitting, that on in the same day New Jersey Attorney General Farber resigned, MSNBC would do a profile on one of her potential replacements.

New Jersey's New Attorney General?

New Jersey's Attorney General, Zulima B. Farber, resigned in disgrace yesterday after an investigation conducted by former Appeals Court Judge Richard J. Williams concluded that she violated her own department's code of ethics. The former attorney general, herself a former lawyer who focused on legal ethics, rushed to the scene of her live-in boyfriend who was caught driving with a suspended license after he stopped for a routine seatbelt violation. The officers at the scene attempted to void the tickets, presumably at her request, but a judge would not permit it.

Former Governor James McGreevey nominated her to the State Supreme Court in 2004 but dropped her nomination after her poor driving record was made public - 13 speeding tickets, 3 drivers' license suspensions, and 4 bench warrants out for her arrest. (The former governor himself would later would resign in disgrace after his nominee for the state's Homeland Security, an Israeli citizen who was denied FBI security clearance, filed a sexual harrassment suit against McGreevey. That lawsuit eventually was dropped).

Corzine presumably picked him to appeal to the Hispanic community though some nepotism played a role too. Hamlet E. Goore's (the live-in-boyfriend Farber drove to the scene for) was then-Senator Corzine's deputy chief-of-staff.

Like her predecessor, McGreevey appointee Peter Harvey, Mrs. Farber could not match U.S. Prosecutor Chris Christie's record in combatting New Jersey's state-wide political corruption. While he is far from finished, Mr. Christie has arrested high profile committeemen in Monmouth County - his latest, a councilman in Long Branch, has just resigned in disgrace. Farber had yet to arrest one public official for abusing his or her constituents' trust.

Her resignation is long overdue. Corzine said she was raising New Jersey's ethical standards by leaving. Farber was "doing what ordinarily would not be required for a lapse of judgement."

No, one would presume not if 20 "lapses of judgement" is not enough to deny a political appointee the highest law enforcement office in the state.

Campaign Blooper

Oops. This definitely is a no-no and someone on the campaign will be if getting an ear-full.

Meade, Kansas and A Rainbow Flag

“It’s hard enough to keep your kids on the straight and narrow without outside influences like that,” she complains. “We stay in a small town to stay away from the crap like that that’s happening in big cities,” she said, calling homosexuality “biblically wrong.” - Vicky West of Meade, Kansas reminding us that for some people, the wrath towards anything homosexual trumps the sentimental non-gay related value two parents attach to the flag given to them by their deceased pre-teen son.

“If he wants to fly that thing, let him fly it,” Helms said. “I don’t have a problem at all because I know the story behind it.” - Charles Helms, as quoted in the same article. But what if he didn't know of the story behind it? Would he let the Knights keep their flag up on display or would they suport those who cut it down?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lesson from Connecticut Primary: Bipartisanship and "Triangulation" Over?

"That's because while Lamont's victory is a promising development, it marks the beginning of the end for an old favorite of Washington insiders: the tactics of triangulation. Originally employed as a survival strategy by a Democratic president in the wake of 1994's Republican revolution, the policy of seizing the political middle ground no longer makes sense in an era when any attempt at bipartisanship is understood as a sign of Democratic weakness and exploited accordingly.

Had triangulation worked, we'd be in a different moment. But for six long years, it hasn't. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton has seen the writing on the wall in recent weeks, criticizing the Bush team's Iraq fiasco by publicly confronting Donald Rumsfeld, calling on him to resign and demanding that troop withdrawals from Iraq begin soon.

With triangulation passing, a new era of bolder, principle-driven politics can begin. Lamont's success should be the opening salvo in a 90-day campaign to establish the clear-cut differences between Democrats and Republicans. Most independent voters, like Democrats, want change, but many of them aren't sure yet whether Democratic candidates are capable of giving it to them. Now's the chance to seize that mantle." - Eli Pariser in The Capital Times

Well, if Senator Joseph Lieberman makes a comback by forging a coalition of Republicans who think their candidate has no chance, independent centrists, and a sizable portion of Lieberman Democrats who are willing to break party ranks to vote for someone they believe his votes are Democratic enough, the era of of "triangulation" and its more respectable formulation - bipartisan government - will be spared. If Lamont loses, the ideologues who voted for him would be repudiated and taught a lesson - go back to the middle.

Senator Lieberman lost his supporters in Washington but it can be regained if they watch Connecticut voters in general put him back in office. The friends he easily lost he can easily regained, particularly when both parties will be vying for his support if control in the senate depends upon one vote.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The New York Daily News on Senator Lieberman's Political Talking Point: Well Put

"Next to offer a clarifying truth was Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose independent contest against Democratic nominee Ned Lamont has become the symbol of the debate over the war in Iraq. Said Lieberman: "If we just pick up, like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them, and they will strike again."

Remarks like that are why Lieberman has fallen out of favor with Democrats whose animus toward a war badly fought has robbed them of common sense. They also reveal the emptiness of Lamont's insistence on withdrawing by a deadline. "Wow," he said, when informed of Lieberman's statement by The New York Times, after asking to have it read back twice. "That comment sounds an awful lot like Vice President Cheney's comment on Wednesday. Both of them believe our invasion of Iraq has a lot to do with 9/11. That's a false premise."

What's false is the idea that the issue is how the U.S. got into Iraq rather than how to fight our way out of that benighted country, leaving behind a functioning government. To Lamont, it seems not to matter that by packing up we would be ceding the territory to, among others, Al Qaeda, brothers in arms to the British would-be bombers." - The New York Daily News on Senator Lieberman's comments following the arrest of 20 + terrorist suspects associated with a plot to blow American airlines oversease.

Right. The fact that al Qaeda or any other anti-American terrorist organization was not using Iraq as a staging ground or battlefield while Saddam Hussein was in power is besides the point. Once we removed him, groups that had no chance of vying for power were able to do so. If we leave Iraq now, the civil war will escalate and potentially draw its neighbors into a wider regional conflict as they battle to protect the ethnic group they claim to patronize.

The Turks may side with the Turkomens in every dispute they have with their Kurdish rulers in the north, in part because of their claimed ethnic ties and in part to further weaken their Kurdish enemies that would inspire Turkey's Kurdish population to rebel. The Saudis may join in to protect the Sunnis from a domineering Shi'ite government while the Iranians back the Shi'ites. The fragile three state confederation will break apart and in turn each of the pieces may break a part as the infighting between competing militias continues.

Al Qaeda, in the mean time will not deprive itself of the opportunity we unintentionally gave them by removing Saddam Hussein - the chance to regain for themselves the training ground and base of operations they lost in Afghanistan (and may potentially regain).

Connecticut's Democratic base may think we errored by invading Iraq. They may think President George W. Bush and those from both parties who voted for the authorization to use force should be punished in the polls but their call for this premature withdrawal must be rejected. The Iranians (and for that matter, al Qaeda) may not have been waging their war against the United States and its allies in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in power but that is besides te point. They are doing so now.

From the Frontline: Our Northern Border

"It's pretty much common knowledge there's 20-plus known terrorist cells in Montreal, and Montreal is 45 minutes away from us," said Dick Ashlaw, the U.S. Border Patrol's agent-in-charge here. "We have caught individuals with affiliations to known terrorist organizations."

He declined to offer further details.

But federal and local authorities worry. "My biggest nightmare is someone coming to this country and doing something horrible and tracing [their entry] back to this county," said Derek Champagne, district attorney for Franklin County on the northern New York border where the reservation is located." - excerpt from The Buffalo News

Friday, August 11, 2006

Iraq Panel in Foreign Affairs

1. "I would also want to stipulate that the distinction between "over there" and "over here" has become, since September of 2001, somewhat fungible. It isn't clear to me in what sense one can "withdraw" from anywhere, let alone Iraq. Too many people seem to adopt a quasi-Berkeleyean position, to the effect that if something crashes and we are not there to see it, it is not "really" happening. A crashed Iraq would not at any stage have posed the Bishop's soothing dilemma, any more than did (or would) a crashed and imploded Afghanistan. If there is still a "water's edge" in our politics, I am not sure where it is to be found." - social democrat columnist Christopher Hitchens in Foreign Affairs. Mr. Hitchens was responding to those who said (a) we entered a war that we should not have entered and (b) we should leave now.

One thing Mr. Hitchens leaves out (and I say this as one who believes we had every right to invade Iraq and as one cannot abandon Iraq to its fate) is the fact that we are not just fighting Baathists and al Qaeda. Two Shi'ite militias, an inept Iraqi national military force, and the Kurds which he supports are there as well. Note, too, that the Kurdish state which he seeks will also suffer the same fate now imposed upon a quasi-independent Sunni and quasi-independent Shi'ite state. Better that all three groups unite behind a federal government which respects their autonomy than advocate for the self-determination of any one group. Justify self-determination for one group and the loser of the remaining groups will be fighting for it as well. And if the Kurds seek it, why not would the Turkomens in Kurdistan not seek it?

2. "t's true that a full-blown Iraqi civil war now seems increasingly inevitable no matter what course we take, but that's not the worst that could happen. The worst that could happen is a full-blown Iraqi civil war with the U.S. military caught in the middle. At that point, our options would be to either take sides and become a tacit party to a near genocide, or stand by helplessly while Iraqis slaughter each other in our presence. That would be devastating not just for Iraq and the Middle East but for America's prestige and its future freedom of action as well.

Sometimes there's simply no good answer, and at this point, staying in Iraq is doing far more damage to our standing in the world than a careful withdrawal ever would. Withdrawing from Vietnam didn't destroy America's standing in the world, withdrawing from Algeria didn't destroy France's standing in the world, and withdrawing from Lebanon didn't destroy Israel's standing in the world. It was staying too long that did the damage." - Kevin Drum in Foreign Affairs.

Well, except that we had no Vietnamese suicide bombers crashing jetliners into American skyscrapers. Vietnam's communists had a limited objective - rule Vietnam. Today we have terrorists who will establish training camps in countries that either too weak or too supportive to stop them. If we leave, the terrorists might ultimately gain a new training camp. At best, Iraq's breakup will destabilize the region as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, and Iran intervene to protect their own national interests and the people they are obligated to protect (the Turks as the Turkomens' protector against the Kurds, the Saudis for the Sunnis, and the Iranians for the Shi'ites).

3. "But Washington is not likely to summon that leverage through hollow strategic threats. A better strategy -- perhaps the only remaining alternative -- would be for the United States to accelerate its mediation efforts and do so with international assistance. Washington needs and, at this critical juncture, can obtain the active partnership of the United Nations and the European Union to help the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and other senior U.S. officials broker political compromises.

A combined diplomatic effort by the United States, the un, and the eu, working in close coordination and speaking with one voice, might well engage all the relevant actors and gain the leverage to extract concessions from them on key issues. One crucial actor with whom un or other mediators could talk -- but who will not talk with the U.S. occupiers -- is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, still the most widely revered Shiite religious leader in Iraq and still a vastly underestimated force for moderation and compromise. But there are many others who might respond better to coordinated international appeals and to the financial and political incentives that the United States and Europe could together provide. A critical element of this approach would be for the U.S.-un-eu team to bring into the negotiations, at the right moment, the Arab League, which has developed ties with a number of political actors in the Sunni resistance and thus could offer them credible assurances and induce them to compromise.

U.S. and international mediation must begin by facilitating the work of the Constitutional Review Commission. This commission, which was conceived just before last year's October 15 constitutional referendum but has yet to be formed, is to be appointed by the Iraqi Parliament and given four months to recommend amendments to the constitution; those amendments will then have to be adopted by a simple parliamentary majority and approved by another referendum. This process was established because the current constitution has not been able to garner a consensus and is thus not viable. The document leaves Iraq with an extremely weak central authority. And it implicitly splits control over future oil and gas fields between a new Shiite superregion containing 80 percent of the country's oil and gas resources and a Kurdish region that, once it incorporates Kirkuk, will contain the other 20 percent." - Larry Diamond in Foreign Affairs

More can be found at the magazine's web site. I encourage all - those who want to "stay the course," those who want to withdraw those who support neither - should read these essays.

Dan Asmussen

Profiling terrorists, and photo altering (trust me, this last one cannot be missed).

The Weekend Preview

The News Making Talk Shows

1. Meet The Press: (a) Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on the foiled airplane terrorist plot. (b) discussion on the terrorist plot and security five years after the World Trade Center bombing with Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 commission. (c) Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman on Senator Joseph Lieberman's Democratic primary loss and his vow to fight for his seat as an independent Democrat.

2. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer:
(a) the latest on the foiled terrorist plot and the safety of the United States from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. (b) the latest news on the crisis in Lebanon and Iraq. Other guests to include Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) of the Armed Services Committee, Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Lebanese Ambassador to the United Nations Nouhad Mahmoud, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Retired General George Joulwan and Vali Nasr, author of "The Shi'ite Revival" and expert for the Council on Foreign Relations.

3. Fox News Sunday:
(a) Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) of the House Intelligence Committee on the foiled terrorist plot. (b) Senate Democratic Primary Winner Ned Lamont on what his upset victory over incumbent Senator Joseph Lieberman says about the state of the Democratic Party, on what his election suggests about the attitudes of the voters in the primary and those in general towards the calls for a withdrawal from Iraq. (c) Roundtable discussion on the Hizbollah-Iraq war and broader war on terrorism includes William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams and Elizabeth Shogren of NPR, and columnist Charles Krauthammer of The Washington Post. (d) Power player of the Week is Lt. Colonel Barbara Springer of Walter Reed Medical Center.

4. Face The Nation: The war on terror and politics. Guests include Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, Senator and Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) of the Intelligence Committee, Representative Jane Harmon (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee, and the Democrat's nominee for the senate Ned Lamont.

5. This Week: (a) Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff on the foiled terrorist attacks and the impact on our national security with terrorist suspects still at large. (b) Two exclusive interviews with Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-Arizona) weigh in on the foiled terrorism attack, the Bush administration's tactics to fight the war on terror, and Ned Lamont's upset victory in the Connecticut Democratic Primary. (c) Roundtable discussion includes former Labor Secretary of State Robert Reich, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, and syndicated columnist George F. Will. (d) Latin musician "sensation" Jon Secada talks about the Cuban-Americans' "complex" relationship with their homeland.

The Pundit Talk Shows

1. The Chris Matthews Show: (a) The partisan political war: Republicans' surveillance talking points v. Democrats' Iraq war talking points. v. Democrats' (b) Will Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton recant her Iraq war vote? This weekend's pundits include Chrystia Freeland of The Financial Times, Howard Fineman of Newsweek, Elizabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, and Michael Duffy of Time Magazine.

2. Fox News Watch: (a) terrorism in the news. (b) Reuters says Beirut photo was doctored. (c) the media's role in Representative Cynthia McKinney's and Senator Joseph Lieberman's Democratic Primary losses.

3. Beltway Boys: (a) the intra-party battle between the anti-war leftists and the hawks within the Democratic Party. (b) Hillary Clinton adjusting her message on national security, Representative Cynthia McKinney's Democratic Primary loss.

4. Heartland: (a) the foiled terrorist plot - the terrorists' al Qaeda links and plot's 1995 origins. (b) the latest in the Israeli ground offensive and the cease-fire.

5. Big Story Prime Time and Big Story Weekend: (a) Big Story Prime Time - (1) the Israeli ground offensive and (2) the connection between al Qaeda and the British terrorists. (2) Big Story Weekend - the same topics.

Feature Programs

1. 20/20: Eric Cooper, husband who duped 10 wives into believing he was the navy hero, is charged with tampering with a government document.

2. 48 Hours: Doris Angleton, wife of bookie Bob Angleton, is murdered in her home.

3. CBS Sunday Morning: (a) "slacking" as an American past time. (b)The Sunday Almanac-The Berlin Wall, (c) Patti Lupone's show business career.

4. 60 Minutes: (a) interview with Iranian President Ahmadinejad on Hizbollah, the lack of relations between his country and the United States, Israel, and Bush's foreign policy. (b) interview with Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report.

5. Dateline NBC: the story of Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller, a suspected sexual predator. (b) on Friday - curing Turrette syndrome with surgery, (c) on Saturday - Don Moringiello's trial for the murder of his wife, (d) on Sunday - a discussion on the Christian concept of hell with retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, and President Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Strict But Necessary Measures At the Airport

"Passengers may take through the airport security search point, in a single (ideally transparent) plastic carrier bag, only the following items. Nothing may be carried in pockets.

- Pocket size wallets and pocket size purses plus contents (for example money, credit cards, identity cards etc (not handbags));

- Travel documents essential for the journey (for example passports and travel tickets);

- Prescription medicines and medical items sufficient and essential for the flight (eg, diabetic kit), except in liquid form unless verified as authentic;

- Spectacles and sunglasses, without cases;

- Contact lens holders, without bottles of solution;

- For those travelling with an infant: baby food, milk (the contents of each bottle must be tasted by the accompanying passenger) and sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight (nappies, wipes, creams and nappy disposal bags);

- Female sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight, if unboxed (eg tampons, pads, towels and wipes);

- Tissues (unboxed) and/or handkerchiefs; - Keys (but no electrical key fobs).

All passengers must be hand searched, and their footwear and all the items they are carrying must be X-ray screened.

Pushchairs and walking aids must be X-ray screened, and only airport-provided wheelchairs may pass through the screening point.

In addition, all passengers boarding flights to the USA and all the items they are carrying, including those acquired after the central screening point, must be subjected to a secondary search at the boarding gate. Any liquids discovered must be taken from the passenger." - The Guardian

These security measures should not be loosened under any circumstances and every major international airport should adopt this set of proceduress as their own but these measures alone do not suffice. These measures protect the passengers from an incident that occurs while the the plane is in the air but they would not protect those left at the airport.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Say What?

So what's the connection between same-sex coupledom and men raping little girls and boys and women raping little girls and boys? I can't believe there are journalists who believe these issues cannot be separated from one another.

Still Senator Lieberman for Connecticut

Connecticut's Democratic primary voters handed incumbent Senator Joseph Lieberman a stunning but narrow defeat and selected political novice Ned Lamont to be their representative in the Novemeber elections. The former vice presidential running mate for presidential nominee Al Gore vowed to continue his fight for his political career and run as an independent though many Democrats and Democratic-leaning newspaper editorial boards may pressure him to bow out.

Senator Lieberman for obvious reasons will resist that pressure if it is at all possible and the voting public should dismiss those calls for his concession as well. Partisans call those who run as independents when they lose the primary "sore losers" because they sought and then reject the decision made by the party voters.

But political candidates do not and should not be expected to cave in to the demands of the party. While he lost his battle to represent his party in the upcoming November elections, Senator Joseph Lieberman can appeal to a higher authority - Connecticut's voting public as a whole - and he could do that because (a) Connecticut allows candidates to run as an independent after losing the primary and (b) senatorial candidates are elected by and consequently must appeal to their state's residents as a whole.

Mr. Lieberman can appeal to the state's moderate Republicans, independents and those Democrats who voted for him. Ned Lamont and Senator Lieberman essentially split the Democratic vote in half. While most will eventually vote with the Senator Lamont, Senator Lieberman might take a significant minority of his supporters with him.

Ned Lamont won yesterday's primary in no small part because he positioned himself as an opponent of a now unpopular war that we are losing while his primary opponent would not back down from his support of this war conducted by an inept administration that has no backup plan for winning it. If Plan A (in this case, invade Iraq to enact regime change) is not working, the voters would expect a backup plan (Plan B) and if the administration cannot offer them that alternative, the opposition could get away by offering Plan C (in this case, retreat/withdraw/cut our losses/quit/negotiate/etc.) Mr. Lamont had no viable plan to win the war in Iraq during this campaign those who voted in the primary ultimately decided that he didn't have to.

Cutting our losses in Iraq, they have indicated, beats "staying the course" when "staying the course" means losing. Had this war been fought differently at the outset, had more American troops been sent at the outset, had they secured the stockpile of weapons, had they not de-Baathized the military, and had they fought al Saydr's milia head on rather than wimp out to avoid bloodshed we might have won this and ultimately save American and Iraqi lives. We did not however and the president has still not made the necessary case for more ground troops nor has the president threatened to take sides and resolve this dispute in one of the parties' favor.

Viewed that way, their vote for Lamont made sense. But the longstanding repercussions from this vote won't be good if their champion wins in the November election. Gone is the reward and incentive for bipartisan cooperation. Senator Lieberman's willingness to reach out to the other side of the political aisle, particularly on matters of national security did him in in spite of his otherwise liberal Democratic voting record on domestic issues. Partisan purity is to be expected while compromise and independence discouraged and looked at with suspicion.

More ominously, the leading Democratic candidates for the White House and the Democratic candidates across the nation in general will ultimately will be pushed to the left on national security issues in general, depriving this country of the unity it will need to win this war on terror. Connecticut's primary voters in effect sent anti-American jihadists and terrorists in general a terrible message.

he Democratic primary voters in Connecticut told the terrorists we will not fight to the death - that, ultimately, we do not have the resolve or the will to fight against those who will sacrifice their own and their children's lives to destroy us. Cause more bloodshed, cause more Democrats to abandon ship, and eventually we will give up and let the hapless Iraqis battle it out over themselves while the Sunni-led Syrians, Shi'ite governed Iranians, and Kurdish-threatened and Turkomen-supportive Turks prey upon the political factions now fighting over their country's future.

This message which Connecticut's primary voters ultimately sent must be repudiated by the state's voters at large. The cause for both, bipartisan governance and more importantly, an assertive American defense policy can only be vindicated by Senator Lieberman's re-election even if that means he is re-elected as an independent Democrat. If he does so, the moderates would have dealt these nay-saying primary voters two seriously needed blow: (1) briding the political divide and not partisan inquisitions win elections and (2) their resolve to win that which we started is firm.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quotes from Those Supporing Lieberman

Virtually every Connecticut daily endorsed Senator Lieberman but the strongest arguments for the Democratic voters' continual support is made by The New York Daily News and The New York Post.

"But even if Lamont has grown into a committed anti-war activist, he has no clue what to do. He's a complainer, not a leader. On June 22, Lamont's campaign manager said he would have voted for a Senate plan calling for phased redeployment from Iraq - but wouldn't necessarily vote for the John Kerry plan calling for a hard July 2007 deadline for withdrawing. The next day, the candidate himself said he would have voted for both resolutions. As recently as Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press," Lamont proxy Jim Dean admitted he didn't know how his man would have voted. Remember, Iraq is the central issue in this race.

One thing is certain: Lamont spends most of his time channeling the anti-war, withdraw-now crowd. They would hail a Lamont victory as the dawn of a new day. And far beyond Connecticut, that would put the face of retreat on the party of FDR and Truman.

Never mind that pulling out could let Iraq turn into a terrorist training ground that would make pre-9/11 Afghanistan look like Disneyland. Never mind that it would scuttle the chances of building a stable government that could one day counter the forces of Muslim fanaticism. Never mind that it would hand Iran a victory and do grave damage to American credibility in the world. ...

... In this case, if they choose Lamont over Lieberman, Democrats in Connecticut will be losing a leader. And they'll be gaining a man who is at best a cipher and at worst a shameless panderer on matters of central importance to American security." - The New York Daily News

As Lieberman knows, rogue regimes and terrorist groups must be confronted and defeated - not schmoozed.

Many Democrats used to feel this way, too. But they've either lost patience or become overly partisan.

Tonight's result has serious national implications: A Lamont victory would likely send even more Democratic pols scurrying for cover on Iraq and signal a far-left takeover of that party on the scale of the McGovern debacle in 1972.

But if a Lieberman defeat also portends widespread voter retreat from an aggressive approach to fighting the War on Terror, it will send a dangerous signal that Americans lack resolve - that their national will can be broken if the situation grows difficult." - The New York Post

And Martin Peretz of The New Republic has more in The Wall Street Journal.

"Now Mr. Lamont's views are also not camouflaged. They are just simpleminded. Here, for instance, is his take on what should be done about Iran's nuclear-weapons venture: "We should work diplomatically and aggressively to give them reasons why they don't need to build a bomb, to give them incentives. We have to engage in very aggressive diplomacy. I'd like to bring in allies when we can. I'd like to use carrots as well as sticks to see if we can change the nature of the debate." Oh, I see. He thinks the problem is that they do not understand, and so we should explain things to them, and then they will do the right thing. It is a fortunate world that Mr. Lamont lives in, but it is not the real one. Anyway, this sort of plying is precisely what has been going on for years, and to no good effect. Mr. Lamont continues that "Lieberman is the one who keeps talking about keeping the military option on the table." And what is so plainly wrong with that? Would Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be more agreeable if he thought that we had disposed of the military option in favor of more country club behavior?

Finally, the contest in Connecticut tomorrow is about two views of the world. Mr. Lamont's view is that there are very few antagonists whom we cannot mollify or conciliate. Let's call this process by its correct name: appeasement. The Greenwich entrepreneur might call it "incentivization." Mr. Lieberman's view is that there are actually enemies who, intoxicated by millennial delusions, are not open to rational and reciprocal arbitration. Why should they be? After all, they inhabit a universe of inevitability, rather like Nazis and communists, but with a religious overgloss. Such armed doctrines, in Mr. Lieberman's view, need to be confronted and overwhelmed.

Almost every Democrat feels obliged to offer fraternal solidarity to Israel, and Mr. Lamont is no exception. But here, too, he blithely assumes that the Palestinians could be easily conciliated. All that it would have needed was President Bush's attention. Mr. Lamont has repeated the accusation, disproved by the "road map" and Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza, that Mr. Bush paid little or even no attention to the festering conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And has Mr. Lamont noticed that the Palestinians are now ruled, and by their own choice, by Hamas? Is Hamas, too, just a few good arguments away from peace?

The Lamont ascendancy, if that is what it is, means nothing other than that the left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont. As I say, we have been here before. Ned Lamont is Karl Rove's dream come true. If he, and others of his stripe, carry the day, the Democratic party will lose the future, and deservedly."

Mr. Lieberman for the Primary

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore Jr. chose Senator Joseph Lieberman to serve as his running mate six years ago. The vice president correctly thought he could enhance his party's reputation and appeal to minority voters by selecting the first Jewish person for the second highest constitutional office in the land. Had it not been for a 5-4 Supreme Court vote blocking a state-wide recount in Florida's voter ballots, Senator Lieberman could have been our vice president.

Today, however, the junior senator is in the political fight of his life. Ned Lamont has pulled ahead because (a) he opposes the unpopular war in Iraq that Senator Lieberman voted for and (b) because Lamont's failure to provide his own solution will not hinder him in his quest when the voting public believes Lieberman and the President themselves have no plan. Though conservatives and moderates have lost their confidence in this war, the liberals who will vote in tomorrow's primary are the most firmly committed to a withdrawal deadline. Campaign advertisements inaccurately compare Lieberman to President George W. Bush. Ned Lamont's supporters played upon the infamous kiss given by the president htey loath.

Anyone who has followed Senator Lieberman's record should know this comparison is grossly inaccurate. The senator from Connecticut has consistently voted with the party's liberal base on gay rights, environmental issues, abortion rights, and labor issues.

He opposes and voted against oil drilling in Alaska and a nuclear waste depository located in the Yucca Mountains in Nevada. The League of Conservation Voters, citing his efforts to bloc drilling in Alaska and his support for the Endangered Species Act, has endorsed him in the primary.

The senator supports a minimum wage hike, has voted against the 2000 marriage tax deduction, the elimination of the death tax, the $1.35 trillion tax cut passed in 2001 and the tax cut extension passed in May. Mr. Lieberman voted fo the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, as did most Democrats. He supports the illegal immigrant "amnesty" bill co-sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain which, if passed, would provide "undocumented" workers a chance to obtain full citizenship rights.

He voted against the partial birth abortion bans, putting him to the left of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Joe Biden and against a predominantly Republican-led effort to overturn former President Bill Clinton's veto of one such bill. The senator from Connecticut repeatedly voted with the other members of his party to lift the ban on privately-funded abortion procedures at military facitilities and for legislation to include abortion in federal health insurance policies. His firm support for abortion rights won him the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America in the primary against Ned Lamont.

On issues of importance for the gay and lesbian community too the senator has a liberal voting record. He co-sponsored legislation extending hate crime legislation protection to gay and lesbian victims and legislation protecting gay and lesbian workers from employment discrimination. Though he voted for the misnamed "Defense of Marriage Act," Senator Lieberman voted against the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage twice.

Mr. Lieberman won his "notorious" (as liberals would describe it) independence streak for his assertive stance on national security issues, and his public rebuke of Hollywood values and his collaboration with Bill Bennett to advocate for decent programming. Senator Lieberman supported v-chip legislation designed to give parents the power to block violent and sexual programming from their children and co-sponsored the "Decency Enforcement Enforcement Act" which raised the fines on "obscene" and "indecent" legislation.

Mr. Lieberman voted against Samuel A. Alito's confirmation but joined 11 Democrats and Republicans in forging a compromise on the filibuster, depriving the extremists on both sides the partisan meltdown they hoped for.

On national security issues the senator has voted for the Patriot Act and the Republican version of the Homeland Security Act after the Democratic version which protected union workers fell through and cost the election of several Democratic incumbents including Vietnam war veteran McClelland of Georgia. His vote for the misnamed Patriot Act in 2000, unfortunate though it was, cannot be pinned on him alone since Senator Russell Feingold alone voted against it.

Senator Lieberman supported the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and both wars against Iraq - first when it invaded a sovereign country and then when it refused to allow UN weapons inspectors full and unlimited access to its own country. He joined Senator John McCain in pressing for a ground troop commitment when the air offensive against Serbian forces did not dampen their resolved push for control over the Albanian-dominated Serbian province of Kosovo and he not surpisingly supports Israel's retaliatory strikes launched against Hizbollah.

His primary opponent criticizes him for his support of the second Iraq war and calls for the eventual withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. To his credit, the senator from Lieberman has not backed down and belatedly offers the Democratic primary voters the question they should be asking Lamont - if the American troops withdraw, as he recommends, what if anything can or should the United States do to deny Iran the control over the Shi'ite controlled regions of Iraq and for establishing for itself the Shi'ite fundamnestalist crescent connecting Hizbollah-dominated southern Lebanon to Iran?

Mr. Lamont says we should never have entered the war because there were no chemical or biological weapons found. We were, he noted, led into a war based upon at best, grossly inaccurate intelligence and at worst, manipulated facts and lies from the administration. The Democratic primary challenger has yet to offer his constituents the criteria he would use before he would authorize military force or offer them the alternative we should have chosen, particularly in an era where many ideological groups whose members cannot be deterred because they are ready and willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause and particularly in an era where the countries that can be "contained" can skirt around the feared responses by using such terrorist groups as their proxy fighters (Iran with respect to Hizbollah for instance).

But this, unfortunately, may not bother Connecticut's voting public enough to vote for Lieberman. Challenger Lamont may have no viable plan C (pull out) but President George W. Bush and Senator Lieberman offer them no plan B (political pressure and/or more troops) fo substitute for the unworkable plan A ("stay the course.") They may call it a wash. If the voters believe no one has a plan, they might punish those who were the first to come up with the bad plan (invade, then "stay the course"). Even if it isn't a wash. The question they should be asking the candidates is when our national security mandates elective warfare. The candiates' responses to impasses in North Korea and Iran would deserve more attention than the comparison between one candidate's vote for a war and the other's opinion of that war made in hindsight with some indication of the result long after it was started.

The president's strategy in Iraq has to date failed miserably. Sunni insurgents continue to bomb Shi'ite neighborhoods while Shi'ite militiamen kill Sunnis. Kurds forcibly remove Turkomens from the Kirkuk region. Militias have infiltrated Iraq's inept police force and the United States by moving its armed forces into Baghdad to quell the fighting trained Iraqi troops have been unable to control. Iraq's political situation is just as grim. The Kurds, Shi'ites and Sunnis have yet to make revisions to the constitution that carves their mutually shared state up into three or more weak mini-states which will be the bordering states' mercy.

But the burden for these failures lie with the president, his secretary of defense and the generals on the ground more than any senator who voted for this war. Had the American-led troops secured the munition depots that were raided, Connecticut's Democratic primary voters would not be attacking Mr. Lieberman so vociferously for his support for the losing war.

Lieberman, like most senators (Democrat as well as Republican) who voted for this war, did so on the grounds that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons. They did so based upon false information in part but also in part because the former dictator gave them every reason to believe the president when he refused to comply with the demand for unfettered access for weapons inspectors, and his past conduct which included two wars that he started (his invasions of Kuwait and Iran) and his attack upon the American fighter jets patrolling the no-fly zone.

Connecticut's Democrats should pull the lever for Mr. Lieberman. His voting record is firmly in line with their values on the core domestic issues and the urge from many to punish him for his vote for an improperly executed war by supporting a candidate who benefitted from hindsight is seriously misguided.

Should he lose in the primary tomorrow, the senator should follow through on his promise to continue his fight for his political career as an independent candidate. and make his case to the greater Connecticut voting community. The public in general would benefit from his ability to rise above the partisanship in Washington. The Democrats in particular, for the national security credibility he brings to a party that the public in large part distrusts even more than the Republicans. His loss, however, will bolster those who seek the ideological purification of the Republican and Democratic parties and strike fear in those who from time to time may wish to think their way through an issue before yielding to the party line. In government such independent thinking should be encouraged. On national security issues; it may even be vital.