Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Update on The Weekend Update

1. Face The Nation on CBS (Sunday): The Bush administration and the war in Iraq. Guests include Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president.

2. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on CNN (Sunday): President George W. Bush's response to the warnings concerning the expected Iraqi insurgency. Guests include Dan Bartlett, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) of the Foreign Relations Committe, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalizad, Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinksi and former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Dr. Henry Kissinger.

3. CNN Special on CNN (Saturday evening and Sunday): Inside look at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

4. The Chris Matthews Show on CNBC (Sunday): (a) the political fallout from Bob Woodward's new book on the president's war in iraq. (b)past racial epithets' effect on the polls. Guests include David Gregory of NBC News, Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Joe Klein of Time Magazine, and Julia Reed of Vogue Magazine.

5. Heartland w John Kasich on FOX News (Saturday night): pre-empted by a special.

6. FOX News Special: "Why He Fights" - an 'exclusive' on what motivates Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld.


7. Big Story Weekend on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday evening):
(a)Former Representative Martin Frost (D-Texas) on the effect Representative Mark Foley's (R-Florida) resignation will have on the battle for Capitol Hill. (b)Retired Air Force Major General Burton Moore on Bob Woodward's new book.


8. Big Story PrimeTime on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday night):
(a) the reaction to former President William Jefferson Clinton's outburst on FOX News. (b) Bob Woodward's new book 'State of Denial,. (c)conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

9. CBS Sunday Morning on CBS (Sunday): (a)"Color Us Green" - our growing awareness about environmental issues. (b) Almanac - "The Honeymooners" debut. (c) The New Season - music. (d)Inside Style: Dorothy Draper as the Martha Stewart interior decorator of the 1930s and 1940s. (e)"Madam Justice" - interview with US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (f) interview with Larry King.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dan Asmussen

Khalid Shaikh Muhammad pregnant and the new lax airport security rules for this week's "Bad Reporter."

Followup on Gay Rights Bills in California

Mixed verdict: Governor Schwarzenegger signs a bill to help train prosecutors to specifically combat "gay panic" defense strategies, and signs a bill reaffirming a ban on sexual orientation-based housing discrimination then vetoes AB 606, which mandated tolerance education training for teachers in every school district.

Court Watch

Labor unions may be in for a scare. The Supreme Court will hear two appeals made on behalf of public employees who want the unions to ask them for special permission before their union fees are spent on political causes.

Illegal Immigration

Immigration war in the spotlight. Edison, NJ may bar its police officers from informing federal officials of any resident's immigration status while Lakewood's debate over a muster zone (meeting spot) for its day laborers continues.

Menendez in Trouble?

Senator Robert Menendez (NJ-D) and challenger Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-R) are in a tight election race. The increasingly Democratic state, overwhelmed by corruption fatigue, may hold their noses and vote for Kean if Mr. Menendez cannot put this issue (an alleged shakedown made by one of his friends though Menendez denies any involvement), and

The Weekend Preview

A. THE SUNDAY MORNING POLITICAL INTERVIEW SHOWS


1. Meet The Press on MSNBC: (a) Senate Election Debate Series: Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Representative Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). (b) Pakistani Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf on the war against al Qaeda and alleged bombing threat made against his country.

2. FOX News Sunday on FOX News: (a)Representative Jane Harmon (D-California) and former Speaker of the House and presidential prospect Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) on last week's Bill Clinton interview. (b)the facts on the war on terror.

3. This Week on ABC: (a)White House Advisor
Fran Townsend on homeland security, intelligence reports, and the path to war. (b)Sunday Exclusive 1: Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) on the war on terror and the war in Iraq. (c)Sunday Exclusive 2: Representative John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) on the war in Iraq, the midterm elections and the war on terror. (d) Sunday's Roundtable: George F. Will of ABC News, Former Pentagon Spokesperson Toni Clarke, ABC News Political News Director Mark Halperin, and ABC News Consultant Donna Brazile. (e) Sunday voices - U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall on his first work as the nation's poet.

4. Face The Nation on CBS: update later

5. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:update later.

B. THE POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. Beltway Boys on FOX News (Saturday evening):
(a) Congressional election political horse race - safe seats that can turn (b) the comback kid - Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger (R-California) up for re-election.


2. FOX News Watch on FOX News (Saturday evening):
(a)Chris Wallace's Bill Clinton interview - press and late-night comedy coverage. (b)Football player Terrell Owens - suicide report circus. (c)world leaders as pitchmen for books in the United States.


3. The Chirs Matthews Show on CNBC (Sunday morning):
update later

D. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL/NEWS TALK SHOWS:


1. Heartland on FOX News (Saturday night):
update later

2. Big Story Weekend on FOX News (Saturdays and Sundays):update later

3. Big Story PrimeTime on FOX News (Saturdays and Sundays):update later

E. WEEKEND FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS

1. 20/20 on ABC (Friday night):(a) Love at First Site: Terri Irwin on her late husband "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. (b) Gender Gap: Transexual neurologist Ben Barres'firsthand account on the smale/female brain differential. (c)Gender Gap: Actress and former playmate of the year Jenny McCarthy and sex therapist Laura Berman on the the male/female orgasm differential. (d)Hollywood's Ethnic Stereotypes: Italian mob figures and the Asians who never kiss on screen. (e) Promotion storyon 20/20's Lynn Sher's new autobiographical book "Outside the Box:" her career.

2. Dateline NBC on NBC (Friday): "To Catch A Predator" series goes to Petaluma, California. Part one.

3. Dateline NBC on NBC (Saturday): Two brothers murdered in different ways at different places on the same day.

4. CBS Sunday Morning on CBS (Sunday):


5. 48 Hours on CBS (Saturday night):
a moral dilemma - Jim Morel on his friend's secret confession to the murder of an 84-year old lady. Police ruled her death an accident at first.

6. 60 Minutes on CBS (Sunday evening): (a) Bob Woodward - claims president's administration has not told the truth on Iraq. (b)Area 25 of the brain - stimulation to treat clinical depression. (c) teenage obsession with bum hunting.

7. CNN Presents on CNN (Saturday, Sunday): "The Town That Fought Back" - Bay St. Louis, Miss. post-Katrina.

F. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT

1. Saturday Night Live on NBC (Saturday night): Season Premiere with Host Dane Cook and Musical Guest "The Killers."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Military Detention and Miliary Commissions

The Supreme Court of the United States gave President George W. Bush's war detention policy the cold shoulder because he did so without obtaining the approval from Congress. Yesterday, the House voted for the Military Commission Act of 2006, which gives the president nearly evertying the two-term president wanted. The senate will vote for a similarly worded bill tomorrow.

Once this bill is signed into law, administration-designated alien "unlawful enemy combatants" can be held inedefinitely without the right to a speedy trial or means to a chance to contest his or her status as an enemy combatant.

Those who are granted a right to a hearing will be stripped of the Miranda warnings and the right to challenge their war detention status in civilian courts. Evidence can be admitted even when the "degree of coercion" used to obtain it is disputed. The protections from self-incrimination found in section 831 of the Uniform code of Miliary Justice that every American and alian alike takes for granted can now be challenged. The Military Commission Act of 2006 includes specifically removes and then adds a protection from self-incrimination. Hearsay evidence which has "probative value" (whatever that means) can be admitted unless the "party opposing the admission of the evidence demonstrates that the evidence is unreliable or lacking in probative value." The burden of proof clearly falls upon the accused, who must prove that he or she is not guilty of the alleged war crimes that lead to his or her death or life sentence in prison.

Most ominously, this provision suspends the writ of habeus corpus for alleged "unlawful war combatants" indefinitely. Claims that we held enemy combatants prisoner until prior wars ended do not justify the indefinite detentions carried out and now legislatively legitimized here.

Prior wars had a clear starting and ending point, with a declaration of war, an invasion, or a declaration of hostilities as its beginning point and an armistrice, truce, cease-fire, or peace treaty as its ending point. They were largely fought on battlefields, where a captured soldier's participation was never really in doubt. Those who committed war crimes were tried and then either executed or imprisoned.

Here no such degree of certainty is warranted. There is no one battlefield with army pitted against army so the accusations justifying one's indefinite detention are in doubt and since there is no recognizable point at which this war ends, the president can deny the prisoners their day at court (or, if they are innocent) their liberty until they die.

And the president wants to bring liberty to the Middle East?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Partial Lift on Ban

I don't quite get this. Fearing that a terrorist would make a bomb from common house-hold items and liquids while on a plane, U.S. officials banned gels, aerosols, and liquids from the carry on luggage. Now, six weeks later, American and Canadian officials will partially lift the ban. Shampoos, medicines, hand lotions, baby foods and lip gloss will now be permitted. What changed between now and then to earn this partial lift on the ban? Either the terrorists could have used these items for make-shift bombs then and now or they could not then and now.

Did the officials yield to pressure from complaining passengers who felt inconvenienced by the total ban? These passengers could brush their teeth, add lipstick, and apply hand lotions before and after they arrive at the airport, and they won't be taking baths and showers at their seats.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Update on the Weekend Update

1. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: (a) the war on terror and the search for Osama bin Laden with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.Ar (b)Debate the key political issues for the week with Senator len Specter (R-Pennsylvania) and Representative Jane Harmon (D-California). Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, former U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Republican strategist Matthew Dowd, and Democratic Strategist Stan Greenberg.


2. The Chris Matthews Show:
(a) the Muslims' rage: any cause? (b) former President William Jefferson Clinton as a global star. Guests include Katty kay of the BBC, David Igniatious of The Washington Post, Irshad Manji, and Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post.


3.Big Story Weekend:
(a)latest on the woman whose unborn baby was torn out. (b)Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' comments - any outrage?


4. Big Story PrimeTime:
(a)Venzuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attack the United States. Debate - should we stop funding the United Nations? (b)latest on the E. Coli spinach scare. (c) "Enemies" author Bill Gertz.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pakistan and the "Stoneage" Bomb Threat

Ina memoir set to release soon, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, claims that he was threatened into backing President George W. Bush's invasion of Taliban-led Afghanistan. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, official who purportedly issued the threat of bombing the country back into "the stone age" to Pakistan's intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed one day after al Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked four planes and crashed three into the the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (The fourth crashed in Pennsylvania after some passengers decided to confront their hostage takers).

Mr. Armitage, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and President George W. Bush to varying degrees denied the threat. Mr. Bush said he "was taken a by the harshness of his words" (but not his claim) and otherwise claimed ignorance. "All I can tell you," Mr. Bush is quoted as saying on CNN, s that shortly after 9/11, Secretary [of State] Colin Powell came in and said President Musharraf understands the stakes, and he wants to join and help root out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens."

President George W. Bush is shifting the focus to his former Secretary of State and his assistant. This shouldnot surprise us in the least. Mr. Powell and Armitage no longer hold positions of power in the White House, so he can shift the blame to the two people who are no longer involved in sensitive negotiations.

The former secretary of state also broke with the president on the treatment of "enemy combatants" held by the CIA for interrogations. For his part, Mr. Armitage let news reporters accuse his president's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, of masterminding a scheme to out CIA agent as the wife of anti-war critic Joe Wilson when he himself leaked that information to anti-war conservative columnist and reporter Robert Novak. The president had no reason to protect them.

Both former statesmen and Bush officials denied the claims emphatically. Mr. Armitage said he would not threaten Mr. Musharraf since he could not back that up but he did pressure the Pakistani leader into backing the US in its invasion of Afghanistan. "I told him," he is quoted as saying in The Washington Post, "that for Americans this was black or white, that Pakistan was either with us fully or not. It wasn't a matter of being able to negotiate it."

Since the president did not use nuclear devices on Afghanistan, he probably would not have authorized their use on Pakistan and Mr. Armitage would not have discredited himself without first winning some backing from the president.

The Pakistani leader, for his part, has surived several assasination attempts so this claim might have been released to buy him some time, particuarly since he made his truce with the militants now that he failed to capture them through military force has failed.

Mr. Bush appeared unfomfortable when questioned about the Pakistani's claim but this claim really doesn't hurt his public image. Most Americans, this political blogger included, would approve of any combination of carrots and sticks needed to win the Pakistani government's support in the pending war for Afghanistan, particularly when their country shares a porous border which fleeing terrorists may repeatedly cross to evade capture. The news may win al Qaeda some more support from those who were already pre-disposed to hate the United States.

Such accusations will reinforce the anti-American position many Arabs, Palestinians Iranians, and Pakistanis are already predisposed to believe. But these people would find some reason to encourage their children to join in the anti-American jihad sooner or later.They burned effigies when we backed Israel once it launched its retaliatory strikes against Hizbollah, and when we invaded Iraq and they will continue their attacks so long as we back the more accommodating authoritarian and dictatorial regimes in the Middle East.

This revelation says more about the Pakistani president than it does Mr. Bush. The president's hawkish credentials have been reaffirmed. This news may even when him the support of an increasingly skeptical voting public. Mr. Bush's threat, if in fact it was made, worked and that is important when the opposition has no one who offers an equally decisive and plausible approach to the fight against radical Islamists. Voters might compare that to the largely unsuccessful and potentially futile neogiations with Iran and North Korea, and France's diplomatic capitulation on potential Iranian sanctions.

President Musharraf, however, may have damaged himself politically. The radical Islamists may not be appeased. They fought and won a major political concession from a wekaned president who could not deliver for the U.S. president he purportedly was pressed to back in return for little that could buffer support for him back at home.
The radical Islamists may claim he is too weak to lead their country and blame him for exacting no concessions from the White House. They could also point to his callous "buy the book" response to questions concerning his accusations and accuse him of profitting off of the U.S. president's alleged threat to incinerate the Pakistani people.

Dan Asmussen

Hugo Chavez and the cola wars for this week's Dan Asmussen cartoons.

The Weekend Preview

A. The Political Interview Shows


1. Meet The Press:
Note - "Meet The Press" will be aired at 1 pm ET. (a) Former President William Jefferson Clinton on his efforts to bring political and business leaders across the globe to discuss solutions to some of the tougher political problems - poverty, religious & ethnic conflicts, energy, and world health - through the second annual Global Initiative summit. He will also share his views on the war in Iraq, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the midterm elections and the 2008 presidential elections. (b) Afghani President Hamid Karzai on the war on terror, the Taliban's insurgency in southern Afghanistan, and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

2. FOX News Sunday (FOX News): (a) Former President William Jefferson Clinton on the Global Initiative, the upcoming mid-term elections, and his wife's presidential aspirations. (b) Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) on the war detainee compromise and how it will affect the war on terror and the midterm political elections. (c) Sunday panel discussion on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' anti-American remarks at the United Nations and the other headline political news events for the week. Panelists include FOX News Managing Editor Brit Hume, The Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes, NPR Senior National Correspondent Juan Williams, NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson.

3. Face The Nation: the war in Iraq, the compromise on war detention policy, and the upcoming political elections. Guests include Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) of the Armed Services Committee and The Washington Post's national political editor John Harris.


4. This Week:
Full guest lists and topics not up yet but Senate Majority Leader Bill First (R-Tennessee) will talk about the midterm Congressional elections.

5. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: guest list and topic discussion is not up yet. Will update when known.

B. The Political Talk Shows


1. The Chris Matthews Show:
will update when posted.


2. The Beltway Boys:
(a) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - Can the Republicans deny her the House Majority Leadership. (b) The Connecticut Senate race - Democratic nominee Ned Lamont goes negative against incumbent Senator Joe Liberman.


3. Fox News Watch:
(a)Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - did the media treat them as stars? (b)the pope, Muslims, and the media. (c)former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey's book tour.

C. Other Hard News Programming Shows

1. Big Story Weekend: not updated yet.


2. Big Story PrimeTime:
not updated yet.


3. Heartland w John Kasich:
(a)the pope's comments on Muslims - will he apologize when he meets with Muslim leaders? (b)young voters, their views, and the role of technology. (c)fugitive, child porn suspect and former Benet Ramsey murder suspect Jon Karr</span> may walk free.

D. Feature News Programs


1. CBS Sunday Morning: a look at the college admission process for 2010. (b) Sunday almanac - Dr. Seuss. (c)the New Season on TV - Scott Battaglio on TVGuide. (d) Photography - Weegee. (e)Art - Ruth Duckworth. (f)Postcard from Beijing - Peking Duck. (g)Sunday Profile on Natalie Cole and her new album "Leavin." (h)Ben Stein on defense spending and riches. (i)veterans at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (j) whales in Alaska.


2. 48 Hours:
Season premiere. Aspiring actress Ashley Barnett boards Carnival cruise ship Paradise, then dies within 24 hours. First interview with boyfriend Geoff Ginsburg.

3. 60 Minutes: Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice on the racial bigotry her parents unsuccessfully tried to shield her from. (b)Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says we threatened to bomb his country if he didn't help the United States in its war against Afghanistan. (c)Dr. Anna Pou denies mercy killing charges.


4. Dateline NBC (Saturday):
Paris Hilton police videotape interview -what she was told about a crime committed against "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis.

5. Dateline NBC (Friday): to catch a predator series continues.

6. 20/20: (a)prescription drug methadone's is deadly. (b) name as an impediment to getting a job. (b) Bill O'Reilly on his new book.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Geneva 3: Moderates/Mavericks Not United

1. The We're Still Negotiating Attitude: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement:

“The parties continue to share ideas with each other. Like all negotiations, this is and will continue to be a back-and-forth exchange of thoughts and proposals. I look forward to continuing to work with the White House and my Senate colleagues on addressing this important issue facing our nation. We share the President’s goal of enacting legislation preserving an effective CIA program to make us safe, upholding Geneva Convention protections for our troops, and passing constitutional muster.” from his web site


2. The Adamant One:
Washington, DC ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement after the President’s press conference on the Military Commission Act of 2006:

“I respect very much the President’s unwavering determination to protect America from terrorist attack. Our government has no more important obligation than to ensure the security of its people. The President has diligently discharged this solemn responsibility. And that is why we have in place the array of activities aimed not merely at weakening, but at vanquishing international terrorism. In this intelligence-intensive war on terror, we must be able to acquire actionable intelligence quickly from those committed to our destruction.

“Our intelligence personnel must have the ability to interrogate captured terrorists, and to do this they need clarity as to what is legal and what is not. The Senate Armed Services Committee legislation, for the first time, spells out nine activities that would constitute criminal conduct by the CIA in the War on Terror. It also protects CIA personnel and their families from being sued for performing their duties, and states that only American law – not foreign law – will be used to create civil or criminal liability.


“But the protection our personnel require is not limited to freedom from lawsuits and unjust criminal prosecutions. They also need – and deserve – the undiluted protections offered since 1949 by the Geneva Conventions. For this reason, I oppose unilaterally reinterpreting in law Geneva Common Article 3. Weakening the Geneva protections is not only unnecessary, but would set an example to other countries, with less respect for basic human rights, that they could issue their own legislative “reinterpretations.” This puts our military personnel and others directly at risk in this and future wars.

“Our CIA interrogators are on the front lines of this conflict, and I respect their service. There is nothing in our bill that would require the closure of the CIA’s detainee program. Our legislation protects them from unfair exposure to criminal and civil liability. And it maintains intact international obligations that protect their rights. To do any less risks our reputation, our moral standing and the lives of those Americans who risk everything to defend our country.” from his web site

3. The This Is Good Attitude:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today issued the following statement on legislation passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday by a vote of 15 to 9.

“I strongly support the legislation passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. It is essential we demonstrate that our Nation will maintain our longstanding obligations as a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. For the safety of our own troops, we must hold our armed forces and intelligence officers to the same standard we expect the international community to hold theirs. Furthermore, the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency are doing all they can to keep America safe, and we must ensure they have both the tools and the clear guidelines they need to effectively do their jobs. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I believe the legislation offered by Senators Warner, McCain, and Graham is the best path to achieving our goals of protecting our brave men and women is harms way, while protecting our nation against terrorism.” from her web site

President George bush might win this political battle yet.

"I Am An Iraqi Kurd"

from June 20 edition of "Larry King"

"There are so many factors in Iraq and the three principle tribes, when you're asked what are you? Do you say first an Iraqi or do you say first a Kurd?

TALABANI: I'm an Iraqi Kurd.

KING: You're an Iraqi first?

TALABANI: Yes.

KING: And would all of them say that?

TALABANI: Well those who believe in nationality of Iraq will say the same. We have, of course, different kinds of people. Some of them they say I'm Arab before saying that they're Iraqis. Some will say that we are Kurds before being Iraqis. But I, personally, I believe that a united Democratic Iraq is in the interest of all population of Iraq, Kurds, Arabs, Shias, Sunnis, Turkomans, I say this of all of us. We can get benefit from this united democratic federated Iraq better than anything else."

Democratic Behavior

Voters in California recalled former Governor Gray Davis (D-California) after two years after they re-elected him after they learned of their state's larger than expected fiscal crisis. Hungarians are calling for their prime minister's resignation after a tape with his admission to lying surfaced. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, humbled by his constituents' staunch opposition to the war in Iraq, promised to step down by the end of the summer at his colleaguees' behest. Frustrated by their government's failure to provide for the Palestinian people's needs, voted Hamas into power. New Jersey's cynical residents, suffering from higher income, sales and property taxers, have not removed their incumbent legislators from power.

Immigration

That's right. First, border control, then, if need be to get the border security, a limited amnesty program. It would be nice if they had the votes and if not, continued their push for stringent border security measures after the elections.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Liberal Warning His Own


"We are entering an age of unchecked nuclear proliferation and, it seems likely, nuclear terrorism. There is, therefore, no future in which aspiring martyrs will make good neighbors for us. Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.

Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game."
- Sam Harris in The Los Angeles Times

Ouch.

Why? Why are the liberals, as Mr. Harris says, "rendering themselves increasingly irrelevant"?

1. "We are entering an age of unchecked nuclear proliferation and, it seems likely, nuclear terrorism. There is, therefore, no future in which aspiring martyrs will make good neighbors for us. Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies"

2. "There are books, films and conferences organized around this phantasmagoria, and they offer an unusually clear view of the debilitating dogma that lurks at the heart of liberalism: Western power is utterly malevolent, while the powerless people of the Earth can be counted on to embrace reason and tolerance, if only given sufficient economic opportunities.

I don't know how many more engineers and architects need to blow themselves up, fly planes into buildings or saw the heads off of journalists before this fantasy will dissipate. The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world's Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam. This leads them to rally to the cause of other Muslims no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This benighted religious solidarity may be the greatest problem facing civilization and yet it is regularly misconstrued, ignored or obfuscated by liberals."


3."In their analyses of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, liberals can be relied on to overlook the most basic moral distinctions."

How so? By equating Hamas' and Hizbollah's purposeful bombing of civilian targets with that of Israel's retaliatory strikes that lead to the unintentional civilian deaths (note Israel's leaflets warning of attacks and compare that to Hizbollah's lack thereof). By morally equating a potential release of convicted Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israeli prisoners with the kidnapped Israeli soldiers who were captured on internationally-recognized Israeli soil.


4. "Given the degree to which religious ideas are still sheltered from criticism in every society, it is actually possible for a person to have the economic and intellectual resources to build a nuclear bomb — and to believe that he will get 72 virgins in paradise. And yet, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, liberals continue to imagine that Muslim terrorism springs from economic despair, lack of education and American militarism."

Yeah. Some liberals know what we are fighting against. The editorial writers at The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, and The New Republic get it. Christopher Hitchens gets it. Senators Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman get it. Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch gets it. U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair gets it.

It's a shame more don't.

Mr. Bush's Sense of Justice

'With these prosecutions, we will send a clear message to those who kill Americans: "No longer (sic) how long it takes, we will find you and we will bring you to justice."' - President George W. Bush

"I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world:The United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values. I have not authorized it and I will not authorize it." - President George W. Bush in the same speech

"Arar, now 36, was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York on Sept. 26, 2002. He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released, the Canadian inquiry commission found." - excerpt from this article in The Washington Post about an innocent Canadian Muslim beaten and locked in a coffin-size


Though he never went to Afghanistan, Mr. Arar was forced to confess to al Qaeda training at an Afghani camp. If President Bush had his way, people like Mr. Arar may never get to see, let a lone contest, the evidence used against them at their military tribunals, and if Mr. Bush had his way, the tribunal would admit their confessions into evidence and any hearsay (say the eyewitness testimony of another al Qaeda suspect who was forced to lie naked in a frigidly cold cell) would be admitted.

Election 2008: Senator Kerry Speaking to Religious

Senator John Kerry unsuccessfully ran in the 2004 presidential election though me might run for president. With that in mind, the PoliticalHeretic has decided to link to his speech as published in The Washington Post to keep within the election 2008 record for later.

Colin Powell Quote on Torture

"If you just look at how we are perceived in the world and the kind of criticism we have taken over Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and renditions," Powell said in an interview, "whether we believe it or not, people are now starting to question whether we're following our own high standards." - excerpt with quote by former Secretary of State Colin Powell found in The Washington Post

Monday, September 18, 2006

Major Setback in Diplomatic Efforts With Iran

Through Resolution 1696, the United Nations Security Council demanded that Iran suspend its " enrichment-related and reprocessing activities" and "calls upon" that state, to, "without further delay, to take the steps the IAEA Board of Governors' needs to verify Iran's stated peaceful intentions.

The Security Council's commitment to global security, however, is only as good as its members' commitment to global security. Its position as a force for global security is compromised when China, Russia, or anyone of the five permanent members of the council, uses its veto to protect a nation it has close ties with from action designed to force it into compliance.

The August 31 deadline for Iran's compliance has passed and while the Iranians have provided the IAEA access to some of its nuclear facilities, the IAEA Board of Governors had condluded that "it has not addressed the long outstanding verification issues or provided the necessary transparency necessary to remove uncertainties associated with some of activities" nor has it "suspended its enrichment related activities" or "acted in accordance with the provisions of the additional Protocol."

French President Jacques Chirac has now dropped his demand that Iran freeze its nuclear enrichment activities before any further negotiations begin and has now called for a two-step process where they two sides will "first find an agenda for negotiations and then start a negotiation."

Iran's intransigience and Mr. Chirac's subsequent acquiescence should not startle us. Resolution 1696 merely "expresses" the Security Council's "intention ... to adopt appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the United Nations" to persuade Iran into compliance. It explicitly "underlines that further decisions" (negotiations) will be required before any such actions taken. The Bush administration has for now ruled out for now, military force and has instead pushed for the strong economic sanctions China and Russia oppose and will not back.

Absent a threat of force or the economic sanctions referred to in Chatper 41, Iran has no incentive to comply with Security Council Resotluion 1696. Its government can survive with or without a UN or US-proposed economic package. The theocratic-run Iranian administration could hold out and demand more once it is in possession of a nuclear bomb of its own making.

Recognizing this, Mr. Chirac may be trying to win the Russian and Chinese support that has been lacking but needed to keep Iran at the negotiating table before it is too late.

Unbeknownst to us (and maybe even the French), however, is whether there will be anything left to bargain over once the "agenda for negotiations" is completed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dan Asmussen

President Bill Clinton wasn't shooting at Monica Lewinsky without the bomb burkhas.

The Weekend Preview Update

As promised, an update on the preview.

1. Face The Nation (CBS): The War on Terror five years after the September 11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Guests include Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Governor George Pataki (R-New York) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York).

2. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (CNN): Domestic security five years after the September 11 attacks, and the war in Iraq. Guests include Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Senator and former (and prospective presidential candidate) John Kerry (D-Mass) of the Foreign Relations Committee, Afghani Ambassador to the U.S. Said Jawad, UN Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown, Iraqi National Security Advisor Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, assistant director to the FBI for public affairs John Miller, terrorism expert Brian Jenkins of the RAND Corporation.


3. The Chris Matthews Show (CNBC):
(a) the president's war on terror political strategy. (b) how Mayor Rudoph Giuliani's heroic image will fair in a 2008 presidential campaign. Panel include Richard Engel of NBC News, Katty Kay of the BBC, Gloria Borger of CBS News, and Tucker Carlson of MSNBC.

4. Heartland w John Kasich (FOX News): (a) the controversy over ABC News' 9/11 docudrama. Debate between 'Bankrupt' author and conservative columnist David Linbaugh and former Clinton special assistant Laura Schwartz. (b) Ron Goldman's father on why he is asking for the rights to O.J. Simpson's image. (Mr. O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders for two people, including Ronald Goldman).

5. Big Story PrimeTime (FOX News): (a) Countdown to the mid-term elections with Representative and Senate candidate Katherine Harris (R-Florida). (b) the ABC News' docudrama on September 11. (c)the teacher and students President George W. Bush visited on the day of the attacks. (d)'Godless' author conservative columnist Ann Coulter. (e) former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York).

6. Big Story Weekend (FOX News): (a)Lauren Bacall and Blythe Danner. (b) congressional insight into the most contested and hottest mid-term elections.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Weekend Preview

The News Making Interview Shows


1. Meet The Press (MSNBC):
Vice President Dick Cheney on the war in Iraq,
the 5th year anniversary of 9-11, and the mid-term Congressional elections.

2. FOX News Sunday (FOX News): (a) Secretary
of State Condoleeza Rice
on the War on Terror, (b)DNC Chairman Howard Dean on the Democrats' mid-term Congressional election victory strategy, (c) paying tribute to those who died on September 11. (d)Roundtable discussion.

3. Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (CNN): No update
yet. Will add a short blurb on this when posted.

4. This Week (ABC):(a)Five years later a discussion with the 9/11 Commissioners - Tom Kean, Richard Ben-Veniste, Jamie Gorelick, and John Lehman. (b)Roundtable discussion with George F. Will of ABC News, Fareed Zakariah of Newsweek, White House correspondent Martha Radditz of ABC News, and Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation.(c)Voices segment on 9-11 widower Dr. Gene Steuerle.


5. Face The Nation (CBS):
no update as of yet but will post later.



The Talk Shows

1. The Chris Matthews Show (CNBC): will post later.

2. Beltway Boys (FOX News): (a) their predictions on the mid-term Congressional elections. (b) whether President George W. Bush sharpened his message on the war on terror.

3. FOX News Watch (FOX News): (a) whether news coverage on 9-11 has changed since the event first occurred. (b) the flap over ABC News' 9-11 mini-series and the Clinton saga. (c)a review of Katie Kouric's debut on "CBS Evening News"

Other News Programs


1. Heartland w John Kasich (FOX News):
not updated yet. Will post later.

2. Big Story PrimeTime and Big Story Weekend (FOX News): neither updated yet.


Feature News Programs


1. CBS Sunday Morning (CBS): How things changed since 9-11. (a) where things stand. (b)photography Joel Meyererowitz. (c)architect Santiago Calatrava. (d)Hi-tech to the rescue. (e) Toby Keith's music.

2. 48 Hours (CBS): the babysitter did it?


3. 60 Minutes (CBS):
(a) the firemen, police officers, construction workers and others who are now ill because they breathed in the debris from the World Trade Center. (b) the children who lost their parents five years later.


4. 20/20 (ABC):
the widows club, among other stories.

5. Dateline NBC (NBC):
murder on the beach.

California's Two Gay Rights Education Bills

Last month California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Nondiscrimination in State Programs and Activities Act, which bars sexual orientation-based funding in any program conducted, administered or funded by the state government or any state agency. His support infuriated many theoconservatives so the "governator" bowed down to pressure and vetoed a bill amending state law to forbid local education boards from adopting any textbook or instructional material that would "adversely affect" people on account of their perceived or actual sexual orientation. State law already offered such protections against race, ethnic, religious, gender, and disability-based harm.

This bill, unlike the one he wisely vetoed last month, didn't mandate gay affirming textbooks. In his press statement, the governor says the "adversely affects" phrase was "too vague" without offering gays any protection not already covered by the state's antidiscrimination laws. Health curriculums which emphasize abstinence until marriage, however effectively marginalize gay students in the classroom by their failure to even consider their intimate and emotional needs. State Senator Kuehl's law, by mandating non-bias instructional materials, would have shifted the state's emphasis back to the "safer sex" message that can apply to those of homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual orientation alike or, in the alternative require such districts to in some ways accommodate for students whose sexual orientation leads them to seek relationships with the people they cannot legally marry.

Two other bills await Governor Scwarzenegger's veto or signature. AB 606 (The Safe Place to Learn Act) would enhance the students' protection from sexual-orientation based harrassment in public schools by mandating the establishment of a state harrassment policy model (or handbook) which the local school districts would have to post and offer material to help their staffs effectively idenfity and confront sexual orienation-based harrassment and document all discrimination complaints in their districts.

AB1056 would establish a Tolerance Education Pilot Program run by the State Board of Education. The state board would select 10 schools that apply to run such a program as a part of their social sciences curriculum and give them $25,000 to run it provided that, at the end of three years, they submit a report detailing their use of the funds and the effectiveness of their program.

To no surprise to the PoliticalHeretic, anti-gay theoconservative Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for Children and Family has called upon Governor Scwarzenegger to veto AB 606 and AB 1056, on the grounds that both would amount to homosexual indoctrination but the grounds for such objections are premature.

AB 606 mandates sensitivity training for the teachers charged with protecting and educating their students but no such training or classes is imposed upon the students. Parents already have the right to pull their students out when such topics are addressed. Properly drafted, a state model would offer public school teachers guidance as to how they should balance a gay student's right to a harrassment-free learning environment with their peers' free speech right to voice their objections to homosexuality. Vetoing this bill could undermine the state's legitimate effort to provide each of its public students with a harrassment-free learning environment. The PoliticalHeretic believes this is a good bill that the governor should sign and hopes Mr.Schwarzenegger invites representatives from the GLSEN and religious conservatives to work with the state to set guidelines everyone could live with.

AB 1056 is deficient to begin with. California, in its efforts to protect the rights of its diverse residents, can ask its schools to offer elective courses that look at the controversies surrounding each disfavored group's claim for liberty and equality and it can offer a mandatory course in how people with opposing beliefs and practices are expected, in a democratic and free society, resolve those disputes.

AB 1056 goes much further, at least for those left in the schools that choose to participate. It mandates instruction in tolerance, which is defined as "attitudes and behaviors which convey respect toward individuals and groups" and not just the "passive allowance or indulgence of the beliefs or practices of another individual" we may or may not like. The proposed law moreover would encourage school districts to work with the civil rights groups that fight for the marginalized groups while not encouraging such consultation with those on the other side of the debate. Schools, however, are learning establishments where students go to hone their reading and math skills, and get introduced to the laws of nature, this country's founding and its relation with the other citizens of the world and it the various peoples who have populated it and claimed to make it their own.

The gay rights struggle has a place in our history, and a place in the political debate today. It has a place in legal studies because future and present battles over gay marriage, and the broader movement for gay equality will be tested in the courts and debated within state legislatures and town halls across the nation. Courses in religious study, too, have a place in the school system for similar reasons. The civil rights and social gospel movements were inspired by it. Religious minorities struggled for the freedom to practice it, and many voters are motivated by it.
But these courses should be introduced with caution.

School districts should expose the students to the controversies and the debates concerning their roles within the broader political debate. The state should not hire them to act as their messenger on a sensitive, heated topic.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

North Korea Op-ed

Carrots but no sticks?

Okay. Let me get this straight. President Clinton promises to help the NOrth Koreans build two lightwater nuclear reactors in return for the dismantling of its nuclear weapons program and weapons inspections. This plan is scuttled by the Bush administration after North Korea's efforts to continue its program are discovered. The North Koreans promise to return to six party talks. They do so, then they leave. They announce that they have nuclear weapons, return to the talks, then leave. They turn down South Korea's offer to provide for their energy needs. And the authors of this op-ed say we are the ones who are abandoning the neogiations.

Hmmm. What planet are they on?

Talk is no good if there is no threat to back it up. Why, the authors say, should we resort to sanctions when they historically don't work? Well, the negotiations aren't working. The North Koreans may confirm that they have the bomb by performing a nuclear test underground. So what? We are already treating it as a hostile nuclear power. They may perform more tests but will they bomb American, South Korean, or Japanese soil? Let's hope they use their Taepadong.

The President's Third Speech

The United States Supreme Court may have chastised President George W. Bush on his war detention policies three times, but he gave no indication that he was sorry in today's speech at the White House. The president staunchly defended his right to detain indefinitely as war combatants those the military captures on the battlefield and those American law enforcement agents apprehend on American soil anc claims that the Supreme Court, in granting federal courts the authority to hear Guantanamo Bay petitions in Rasul v. Bush, in affirming an American citizen's right to challenge his then indefinite detention as an "enemy combatant" in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, and in requiring the president to seek Congressional approval for enacting war tribunals for those enemy combatants it eventually would like to try in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Bush and his subordinates have repeatedly attacked The New York Times and other media outlets for its disclosure of controversial investigative tactics that may or may not have specifically been authorized by law. (The administration sidestepped the FISA court's jurisdiction by approving wiretaps on the calls of suspected al Qaeda terrorists made to those in a foreign country and this, howeover limited in its scope, was contested by some within the administration that wanted the authorization expanded to include calls made within and to others in the United States. Its investigation into some Muslim charities' finances also made it to the front page of The New York Times. The Washington Post takes credit for being the first to report on the then-alleged and now confirmed CIA interrogation techniques.

Editors and reporters for these papers must relish this latest twist in the president's tactics for now the man who has repeatedly criticized them for their no trickery, let alone torture, was used when Abu Zubaydah fingered Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as one of the masterminds behind the September 11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and told vital information concerning two unknown planned but later thwarted attacks. Mr. Bush says the interrogation tactics changed after Mr. Zubaydah refused to disclose more.

The president says the new investigative "procedures were tough and they were safe and lawful and necessary" but did not get into the specifics because he did not to divulge any information uncaptured terrorists could use to adapt to the new interrogation techniques. But we can guess that at best they included at minimum the legal scare tactics used on "Law and Order" and other fictional legal tv show and worst, the waterboarding, barking dogs, and other presumed threats to a captive's life.

Sometime after these tactics were employed, we got the snowball affect. Mr. Zubaydah turns on Ramzi Binalshibh, a suspected Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed accomplice (among others) who then turns on Mohammed, who then rats on Majid Khan, who then names Hambali and down the line. Note that Sheikh Mohammed knew of Khan's capture before he ratted on him. Note too that captive Hambali fingered his brother and the remainder of his cell only after he was confronted with the news of their capture.

One need only guess on tactics employed but from what the president himself said, some critical information was obtained only after the terrorists thought they had no hope in seeing their homicidal plans successfully executed. So ends the president's claimed need for secrecy and without, for that matter, casting aside the doubt that such "tough" but "safe," "legal,"techniques were "necessary" tools for the investigation.

The president is now required to ask from Congress the authority he was rebuked for stealing from it. He now asks Congress to establish the military tribunal show trials that he established without it or the federal court's approval and cynically announces those whom would be the first on trial. The president hopes that those charged with drafting the laws would bow down to pressure and give him what he wants by naming with whom any such guidelines are adapted to protect, those whom public the public is expected for good reason good reason, to hate as if that were by itself a reason to withold from them the legal protections we would give to the "average joe." (Note that we offer suspected murderers, even serial killers these rights even though many of us would hate them).

Note too- that's if these accusations hold true. The president's own words notwithstanding, justice isn't served when those accused of serious crimes are denied the right to refute the evidence used to justify their incarceration. The procedures he would have adopted would amount to little more than those offered during a grand jury proceeding, but at least those are held to determine if a trial should take place.

Republican senators John Warner of Virginia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Republican presidential hopeful John McCain of Arizona are purportedly offering a different resolution that will allow the suspects to see and consequently, refute (if they are innocent) the evidence that could potentially send them to death row. They must not back down. This right is fundamental to the rule of law and right to a fair trial, particularly when some of the evidence was obtained through unreliable hearsay and dubious measures that lead terrorists to lie if they want what they consider torture to stop.

If, as the president says, these terrorists are guilty and they have the evidence from the snowball effect desribed several paragraphs above, juries will have no problem convicting them and sending these people to death row. (The PoliticalHeretic opposes capital punishment but fear not, juries will vote to kill several if not all of these terrorists they find guilty). And the defendent's right to confront his accusers and the evidence used to convict them will be useless if it is strong. If the evidence does not hold up in court, then the defendent probably shouldn't have been incarcerated in the first place.

In spite of all this, Mr. Bush has the audacity to claim that "we're" and The PoliticalHeretic quotes "fighting for our way of life and our ability to live in freedom." He says we're fighting for the cause of humanity against those who seek to impose the darkness of tyranny and terror upon the entire world. And we're fighting for a peaceful future for our children and our grandchildren."

Yes we are. But enacting show trials meant to convict people without offering them the means to refute the evidence used against them is inimical to freedom. Denying them access to their lawyers, as the president at first attempted to do, is inimical to freedom. Holding American citizens and non-citizens prisoners indefinitely within prisons as "enemy combatants" without the right to challenge their status is inimical to freedom. Justifying waterboarding and other techniques designed to make the detainees fear death amounts to an act of terror and doing all of what was just cited without even the consultation, let alone approval of the Constitutionally-mandated authority, leads to a "darkness of tyranny."

It's too bad, but in the fight for "our way of life" and "our abiity to lead in freedom," President George W. Bush is on the wrong side.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Conservative Case Against Constitutional Amendments

1. There are Two Sides to The Gay Marriage Debate

"Partisans see only one side of a profound
controversy when in fact there are two. It is not wrong for gay citizens to wish to
share fully in the life of this country, to partake of its most basic and sacred institution, and to experience the intimacy, bonding and devotion to another that only an institution such as marriage can bring. To embrace this view one need not believe that sexual infidelities will disappear but only that many gay couples will make good on their vows and lead fuller, richer and more productive lives as a result.

That, however, is hardly the end of the matter. Marriage between male and female is more than a matter of biological complementarity -- the union of the two has been thought through the ages to be more mystical and profound than the separate identities of each alone. Without strong family structures, there will be no stable and healthy social order, and alternative marriage structures might weaken the sanction of law and custom necessary for human families to flourish and children to grow. These are no small risks, and present trends are not often more sound than the cumulative wisdom of the centuries."
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III.


2. Amendment Would Bar Future Generations From Establishing Own Moral Codes


"To use the Constitution for prescriptions of policy is to shackle future generations that should have the same right as ours to enact policies of their own. To use the Constitution as a forum for even our most favored views strikes a blow of uncommon harshness upon disfavored groups, in this case gay citizens who would never see this country's founding charter as their own." Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson in the same op-ed.

3. No One Can Be Sure

"In fact, the more passionate an issue, the less justification there often is for constitutionalizing it. Constitutions tempt those who are way too sure they are right. Certainty is, to be sure, a constant feature of our politics -- some certainties endure; others are fated to be supplanted by the certainties of a succeeding age. Neither we nor the Framers can be sure which is which, but the Framers were sure that we should debate our differences in this day's time and arena."

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson's makes what essentially is the conservative argument against the constitutional amendment. The people, through their legislators, can make value judgements as to what they consider acceptable and what they do not consider acceptable behavior. (For the record, the PoliticalHeretic does not believe this claim has any validity in a free state that is bound to respect liberty and equality). By proposing and then passing into law an amendment to their constitution, Virginia binds future generations to a set of policy prescriptions they may not consider wise or fair, just as the Supreme Court in 1972 bound future generations to respect a woman's right to have an abortion.

(Again, the PoliticalHeretic does not fully buy into this argument. In a country which binds itself to the the respect of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," some things by necessity must be out of bounds. We don't allow racist bigots to enact legislation re-instituting Jim Crow laws or slavery nor do we allow male chauvinists the power to bar women from voting and corporate executive jobs. As Judge Wilkinson however points out, there are two sides to this issue and neither sides' victory denies the losing party liberty or for that matter equality rightly understood. Gays don't need marriage to be intimate or bond provided that sex and marriage are not bound together (and thanks to a series of court decisions beginning with Griswold v. Connecticut and last upheld with Lawrence v. Texas the two have been disconnectied. And straights may (at worst) but may not need to bar gays from marriage to protect theirs. (The PoliticalHeretic strongly doubts it).

Mr. Wilkinson's commentary will cause advocates on both sides to challenge his credibility as an unbiased judge. He clearly rejects the argument that homosexuals have a right to gay marriage in a time when such a case may actually be considered by the court on which he sits and he clearly

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Thought Provoking

The New York Times this Sunday published this thought-provoking article on genetic testing. It is a must-read.

Immigration Proposals

It's unfortunate, but the prospects for real immigration reform, the kind first proposed here, has no chance of passing.

Casey v. Santorum

from the Meet The Press debate between Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) 1. and State Auditor and Democratic challenger, Bob Casey (D-PA).


The War

1. MR. RUSSERT: But knowing what you know now about the weapons of mass destruction, the primary rationale for the war, would you believe that the Iraq war was a war of choice or a war of necessity?

SEN. SANTORUM: I believe that it was a war of necessity because it—they are a—they were a threat. It is important that we are in the, the Middle East right now and, and confronting this broad war that we are involved in against Islamic fascism.

The bottom line is that we are now five years, almost, from September 11th. No one gives anybody credit for the fact that we have not had a serious—any kind of terrorist attack in this country. The reason we haven’t is because we’ve taken it to them where they are. We’ve taken it to them. We’ve disrupted their networks, not just in Afghanistan, but we have—remember, the president’s speech on the, on the night several weeks after 9/11 talked about we were going to go after terrorist organizations and sponsors, state sponsors of terrorists. There is no question Iraq was a state sponsor of terror, and we went after them. We had legitimate reason. The United Nations said that they weren’t complying. We thought at the time that they had weapons programs. We had bad intelligence. But you know what? I’m not—I don’t play Monday morning quarterback. That’s not, that’s not what you do here in Washington, D.C. You take all the information you have, you make the best decision you possibly can. And based on the information we had, there is no question that Iraq should, that the Iraq war should’ve commenced.


My thought:
How does that square with the attempt made by Islamic fundamentalists to board and hijack American jetliners last month? They were home-grown terrorists? Did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq deny them the means and opportunity to plan a raid upon us from friendly soil and if not, how could we assume that we are any more effective on uncontrolled and hostile territory?

2. MR. RUSSERT: Let me also ask about the funding. Earlier in the week I had said that Democrats had not sought to cut off the funding. In fact, Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and 17 other Democrats have called for the End the War in Iraq Act of 2005 to cut off funding for the war. Would you vote to cut off funding?

MR. CASEY: I don’t think we can, Tim. I’m not ready to abandon this mission; I think a lot of Americans are not, either. What has to happen in Iraq is what you’ve, you’ve not seen. We need new leadership. We don’t need a deadline—a timeline; we need new leadership. And part of that leadership, I think, involves a couple of things. Let me just go through four of five of them.

One of them is a question of accountability. Our troops have been accountable with their lives, and yet a lot of politicians in Washington haven’t been held accountable. You know the, the work of Thomas Ricks, who wrote a book recently based upon his, his work at The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. In that book he lays the blame squarely on the Congress failing to hold the Bush administration accountable. Accountability, I think, means replacing Donald Rumsfeld—Rick and I disagree on that—it means finding out how and whether we were lied to with regard to intelligence.

The second thing we need, I think, in Iraq, in terms of a new direction is to make sure that we have clear and measurable benchmarks. Not just from the president, but from the Iraqis as well. What is the plan that the president can tell us about with regard to disarming the militias? What is the plan to bring oil production above the pre-war levels? All of that kind of accountability and clear benchmarks.

And thirdly, I think what’s happening in Iraq should tell us that we need to transform the mission on the ground. There’s no reason why American soldiers have to continually lead, lead on the ground, and, and go ahead of the Iraqis. The Iraqis need to take over and take on some of these street patrols, patrols in Baghdad and so many other places.

And I think also, Tim, I’ll conclude with this: We need to rebuild the American military. We need to have more Special Forces. I’ve called for a doubling in the number of Special Forces. Senator Santorum apparently doesn’t agree with that. It’s the right thing to do.

And I would just ask Senator Santorum: Donald Rumsfeld, I’ve called for him to be replaced, Rick. Where do you stand on that?

My comment: Senator Casey's bushspeak must be disheartening for Democrats. How many times did he use the word "accountability" in the same paragraph and what plan did he offer to counter Mr. Santorum's "stay the course" message? He says we need accountability. Duh. He says we need new leadership. Okay. He says we need to develop some "clear and measurable benchmarks" without offering some of his own, he calls for the rebuilding of the military - in particular the special forces. Okay but that does nothing with respect to answering the question about our plans in Iraq unless he is suggesting more counterinsurgency tactics and he is calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, something many staunch war supporters including some at the neoconservative The Weekly Standard, have implicitly and explicitly suggested.

3. MR. RUSSERT: Specifically, what would you change in Iraq? In Iraq, what would you do differently?

SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the plans that my opponent has laid out in some of his speeches and I’ve laid out in mine are basically the same thing the administration is trying to do. You’re trying to get the Iraqis take—to take control of their—of the security situation, which we are trying to do. We are trying to get international cooperation to get money in there. We’re trying to improve their quality of life. We’re trying to stabilize their democracy and make sure their constitution is defended.

I mean, all of those things are things that I think everyone would agree that we are to do. The question is, is you have some, you have, you have sectarian violence you talked about, fomented by Iran, that we are not addressing. So the question is, how do we, how do we cure Iraq, focus on Iran? We need to do something about stopping the Iranians from being the central destabilizer of the Middle East.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you put more troops in Iraq?

SEN. SANTORUM: I don’t know if it’s a question of more troops or less troops. You get—I, I think the focus should not be Iraq, should be Iran.

My comment: So what do you suggest we do concerning Iran, Mr. Santorum?

oh wait. There's more:

SEN. SANTORUM: And again, I go back to Iran. What—a big problem I have with this administration is it hasn’t been tough enough on Iran. It should not have let Khatemi come into this country and be at Harvard today. It should not have negotiated with the Iranians on their nuclear program. They’re stringing us along and they’re going to continue to string us along. We need to pass the Iran Freedom of Support Act, my bill that I introduced two years ago. I offered that on the floor of the United States Senate.

MR. RUSSERT: Should we launch a military attack against Iran?

SEN. SANTORUM: No, I think what we have is an opportunity—and again, my bill says this—to go after them by using pro-democracy forces within Iran, also pro-democracy forces outside, and to do something to crack down on that regime with additional sanctions. That’s the one-two punch. The administration so far has opposed me on that.

MR. RUSSERT: No military option. No military option.

SEN. SANTORUM: That’s part of the—that’s part of the other 2 percent he doesn’t agree with me on.

My comment:Okay. But who will agree to economically crippling sanctions and if that and the U.S.-inspired coup d'etat which does or does not develop change Iran's policy towards its Iraqi neighbor, what then?

4. MR. RUSSERT: Let me pursue that, because when President Clinton took troops into Kosovo, this is what you said. “President Clinton is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill defined objective and no exit strategy. He is yet to tell Congress how much this operation will cost. And, he has not informed our nation’s Armed Forces about how long they will be away from home.”

Do you believe you should have the same standard for President Bush? He should give a defined objective, he should give an exit strategy, he should give a cost, and he should give a timeline for Iraq, just as you were demanding President Clinton give for Kosovo?

SEN. SANTORUM: No. Because, because Kosovo and, and Slobodan Milosevic were never a security threat to the United State of America. No way. There—I mean, it wasn’t even close.

MR. RUSSERT: But these are men and women at war.

SEN. SANTORUM: We had, we had—excuse me—we had no business, in my opinion—and I felt this today—we had no business going in—into that area. We had no national security interest. We are up against an enemy that every single day in the streets of Iran they’re out talking about how they want to destroy the United States, how they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. We can sit back and say they’re not a real threat, we can sit back and play games and, and, and pick apart the administration’s strategy, or we can focus...

Good comeback. The case for the war in Iraq was and is still far stronger than the case was for the war in Kosovo so the need to insist upon an exit strategy at the outset was much stronger than the case for one at the outset in this case. We nevertheless are entitled to an exit strategy or, in the alternative, some insight into the president's new objectives since we are no longer winning this war. The president owes it the taxpayers who are funding this war, to the parents, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and partners who go to bed every day thinking about their significant others fighting on the ground, and those who are now risking their lives in combat.

5. MR. RUSSERT: You think he’s a great president?

SEN. SANTORUM: I think he’s been a terrific president, absolutely.

MR. CASEY: Tim, what—I think what the people of Pennsylvania expect and deserve is someone who’s going to be independent, truly independent. That voting record shows very graphically he hasn’t been independent. Being a rubber stamp for the president of the United States is not the best—in the best interest of the people of America. Especially...

MR. RUSSERT: But have the Democrats sometimes been obstructionist, and opposed everything that Bush proposed?

MR. CASEY: I’m sure, I’m sure they have. But, but I’m talking about the way I approach it as a U.S. senator, to be independent. And I think, Tim, when you have two politicians in Washington that agree 98 percent of the time, one of them’s really not necessary. We could have, we could have a machine have that kind of vote. We need someone who’s going to be truly independent, who has the character and the integrity to stand up to his party and his president, especially at a time of war.

my comment: Does Mr. Casey truly want us to believe that he sees no use in having two people with the same opinion in Washington? Can not both have different skills needed to get the same job done? Senators do more than vote - or well, at least they should do more than vote.

Fiscal Issues/Entitlement Programs

1. MR. RUSSERT: Let me find out how you would implement something that you’re promising the voters of Pennsylvania. Here’s a Casey campaign ad about our budget.

(Videotape, Bob Casey campaign ad):

MR. CASEY: I believe in a balanced budget. Government should live within its means, like any small business.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: How would you get a balanced budget?

MR. CASEY: It’s not easy, Tim, but here are the steps we should take. First of all, when it comes to the budget, what’s missing principally is a lack of fiscal responsibility, you know that. We’ve gone from about two, 236 of, of surplus down to 296 in deficit. We need some fiscal discipline. One of the ways that we do that, I believe, is to repeal the tax cut for people making over $200,000 a year. That alone, that, that change alone, in addition to an estate tax change, could get you a trillion. About 730 billion on...

MR. RUSSERT: Over 10 years.

MR. CASEY: Over 10 years, that’s right.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, but, but if you rolled back the top 1 percent, it’s about $56 billion in a year. Our deficit is 200...

MR. CASEY: That’s true, Tim, absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: How you going to balance the budget? Which, which programs you going to cut?

MR. CASEY: Tim, you can’t, you can’t balance a budget in one year. They’ve put us in such a fiscal hole, it will take many years. I hope it doesn’t take 10 years, it took...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, but give me a couple ideas. Which programs would you cut?

MR. CASEY: Tim, there are a lot of things. I—in, in state government, I’ve already done this. Sometimes you, you try to limit the number of, of consultants, that’s one idea. Sometimes you limit the size of, of, of the federal government. I’ve already done that in state government. There are a lot of ways. Especially some, some tax loopholes, off-shore tax loopholes that are in there right now.
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There are lots of ways to cut. But the first thing you have to do, I think, is—and let me just outline these quickly. First of all, the tax cut. Over 10 years, if you repealed it for 200,000 and up, you could get $730 billion. The second thing, on the estate tax, if we set the general estate tax exemption level at $3.5 million for an individual, 7 million for a couple, maybe even carve out a $5 million exemption for family farms and businesses, you could get a savings just on that alone of $300 billion over 10 years. You’re already at a trillion. It’s a step along the way. A corporate welfare commission, over—conservatively over 10 years could get you 200 billion. And finally, you’ve got to make sure that we have a pay as you go strategy, just like a family has.

MR. RUSSERT: But Mr. Casey, let, let...

My comment:So what programs were you goiong to cut Mr. Casey?

2. MR. RUSSERT: But let me show you reality. Here was the budget, as you mentioned in 2001, a surplus of some $261 billion. And now a deficit—now it’s a deficit of $260. That’s the next chart. And our debt has gone from 5.7 trillion to $8.5 trillion. Senator Santorum, you voted to increase that debt every single time.

SEN. SANTORUM: Well, let me just say this. First up, I don’t know how Mr. Casey by, by, by changing the, the estate tax to provide more exemptions is going to save money. The fact of the matter is that that would cost money over, over the long term, not, not save money. The death tax snaps back to the old death tax in 2011, and if he made changes, it would cost, literally, hundreds of millions—probably $100 million just to do the changes that he suggested. So it doesn’t save money, it costs money. But that’s OK because I’m for not, not taking more people’s money when, when they die. So maybe we, maybe we agree on that. Although he said he would have voted against any changes to, to lower the death tax.

My comment: Thank you for not answering his question as to why you voted for measures that increased the debt.

3. MR. RUSSERT: Let’s go back to the chart where Social Security and entitlements are such a huge part of our budget. They asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, he said that’s where the money is. Look at this pie chart. Social Security and Medicare and other entitlements make up 52 percent of our federal spending. It dwarfs defense and non-defense and interest on the public debt. There are 40 million people on Social Security and Medicare. There’s going to be 80 million in the next 15 years. Life expectancy is—used to be 65, it’s now approaching 80. We all know it.

Senator Santorum, when you ran first for the Senate in ‘94 you said, “You can raise taxes, you can cut benefits, or you can push back the retirement age in the future.” You also said this to—in La Salle University, “It is ridiculous if we have a retirement age in this country of age 65 today. ... Push it back to at least 70. ... I’d go even farther if I could, but I don’t think I could pass it.” Will you push retirement age back because of the huge influx of baby boomers?

SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, everybody in Pennsylvania has seen that quote because it’s been out on every advertisement, but...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, you said it.

SEN. SANTORUM: I did say it. I said it to a group of students at La Salle talking about them in 1994 and I’ve had 12 years in the United States Senate and I haven’t introduced or voted for anything like that because I, I think that there’s a better way. And, and, and the alternatives at the time, as you heard me lay out, were either raise taxes or cut benefits or push back the retirement age.

I think there’s a third option now that I have been an advocate for which my opponent opposes, and that’s personal retirement accounts. I have a three-step concrete approach to dealing with Social Security. Number one, pass the Social Security Guarantee Act, which I’m the author of, which says that if you’re born before 1950, your benefits cannot be changed and your cost of living increases are guaranteed. Number two, stop the raid introduced by Jim DeMint which says take the surplus that’s coming in right now and actually put it into individual accounts so people have ownership of this surplus instead of the money being taken and raided to pay for, for current government expenditures. So number two is to stop the raid, give people their own personal accounts that, that will actually be there to pay for them down the road. And number three, give younger workers the opportunity to have personal retirement accounts. Those personal retirement accounts will grow faster and produce more than what the government, “investment in Social Security,” thus making up the difference between the two.

My comment: Step 1 would actually increase at worst and do nothing at minimum, to save the social security program. Assuming you dont have the votes for the pesraonal retirement account idea suggested by President George W. Bush, what then? What programs go and/or what taxes are raised? And whose to say that the retirement accounts will grow and not decrease in value or grow beyond the rate in inflation?

4. MR. CASEY: Here’s what we’ve got to do on Social Security, Tim. You need a step by step process. First of all, we know that the best remedy for Social Security in addition to a lot of other challenges is economic growth.

SEN. SANTORUM: And that’s why we won’t raise taxes.

MR. CASEY: And you know, and you know what? A lot of—and I’m not willing to, to say that this, this issue...

MR. RUSSERT: But something that’s 52 percent of the budget, approaching 70 percent of the budget. You’re going to grow your way out of it?

MR. CASEY: You—that’s part of it, Tim. That’s only part of it. You—you’ve got to—one of the ways you return to fiscal responsibility is making sure that we repeal that tax cut for the top 1 percent, that’s part of it.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, but we’re talking about Social Security.

MR. CASEY: That’s, that’s part of funding it.

SEN. SANTORUM: That top 1 percent has helped create the jobs that we’ve had over the last three years.

MR. CASEY: That’s part of funding it. Don’t interrupt me, Rick. That’s part, that’s part of how you grow it. Tim, here’s—I think that paying for Social Security over the next 75 years is a problem. I’m—I don’t, I don’t agree with your premise. I don’t think you’re talking about a crisis. The crisis is what he just outlined. The crisis...

MR. RUSSERT: But would you, would you be open to...

MR. CASEY: The crisis is privatization.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you be open to raising retirement age? Or perhaps a means task? Or looking at COLAs?

MR. CASEY: Tim, if we had, if we had a commission that recommended all of those steps, they would have a tough sales job on me. Because here’s what I know and here’s what a lot of people in America know. This is a problem but, but not a crisis, because the assumptions for the next 35 years are based upon a growth number of 1.8 percent, a—I think a far too low and far too pessimistic growth. We need...

MR. RUSSERT: So, so double the people on Social Security and Medicare, and life expectancy approaches 80, and the solution is do nothing?

MR. CASEY: No, no, the solution is...

MR. RUSSERT: Grow our way out.

MR. CASEY: Growth, return to fiscal responsibility, make the estate tax changes. In other words, get on the path to fiscal responsibility. Tim, we didn’t have a problem with Social Security in the ‘90s because we had a—we had good growth, and I think that’s one way to do it. I am just not willing to accept...

My comment: another "plan," if it can be called that, based upon an optomistic economic future - that economic growth will surpass the costs in social security based upon increased life expectancies, and rising health care costs. I guess Mr. Casey will say the surpluses will also be used to pay off the debt (oh wait, he already said that), and pay for the health insurance for the uninsured. By the way, how would Mr. Casey encourage economic growth if he is repealing the tax cuts to cut the deficit.