Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Immigration in Utah and Virginia

Utah's governor should not, in spite of his warning, veto this bill which would deny "undocumented" (illegal) immigrants in-state tution rates at Utah's public universities. The bill does not go far enough insofar as it does not bar illegal residents access to Utah's public institutions of higher learning.

Illegal immigrants should be denied any benefit that implicitly or explicitly permits them to flout this nation's immigration laws.

It does, however, close a loophole that rewarrds Utah's illegal immigrants with the recognition equal to that given to the state's legal residents while granting them a higher preferential status accorded to American citizens or legal non-American residents coming from other states.

Virginia's legislature too, may consider a bill that bars illegal residents in-state tution rates but the state's Democratic Governor, Tim Kaine, may veto it.

Political Correctness in Schools

Legislators in conservative oriented states like Virginia and Utah will once again propose bills designed to dissuade, if not outright ban, high school students from participating in clubs which they and their constituents do not like.

Virginia's General Assembly will consider a bill that requires high school students to obtain their parents' permission before they join any extra-curricular club. For some of the bills supporters, this offers parents who want to guide their children's religious and moral education a say so that their children would not be led astray.

For others, this legislation is crafted to deny public school students from exposure to political and religious beliefs they (the crafters) do not like. Utah State Senator Aaron Tilton (R-Utah), for example, is sponsoring a bill that would empower school administrators who want to limit student participation in politically unpopular clubs like the gay-straight alliances now protected by a court order. Specifically the bill would allow the school to regulate or even deny participation when it is believed necessary to:

(a) "protect the physical, emotional, psychological, or moral well-being of students and faculty" (this could mean anything),
(b)"maintain order and discipline,"
(c) "prevent a material and substantial interference with the orderly conduct of a school's education activities," (which could mean anything that undermines the educational mission or philosophy of the school),
(d)"protect the right of parents or guardians and students" (this claimed rights of the former are strengthened by limiting the claimed rights of the latter), "maintain the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior" (however that is defined, ideological or not),
(e)"ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, regulations and policies or whose proposed charter and proposed activities would as a substantial, material, or significant part of their conduct or means of expression; encourage (i) encourage criminal or delinquent conduct; (ii) promote bigotry; (iii) involve human sexuality; (iv)involve any effort to engage in or conduct mental health therapy, counseling, psychological services for which a licence would be required under state law."

This bill was specifically crafted to deny gay-straight alliances, which no doubt may intrude upon a schools' educational philosophy concerning health, morals, and human sexuality, while protecting religious-sponsored clubs (rejection for this reason is not offered in part e as I labelled it).

Neither bill deserves the state legitures' support. Both bills would discourage students from participating in causes which they believe in at a time when poll after poll shows that young people do not vote. Mr. Tilton's bill in particiular would legitimize the suppression of dissenting or unpopular speech at a time when their high schools are teaching about the Bill of Rights and the right to free speech in particular.

Utah and Virginia's governors should veto these bills should they make it to their desks.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Freedom from the Company

ABC News' "20/20" once profiled a company that banned its co-workers from smoking on their private home and conducted periodic tests to make sure their employees were following the rules. I am not sure if this fertilizer company which Mr. Tom Keane refers to in his op-ed is the one that was profiled but the principle is the same. The employer who bans his or her employees from smoking can ban them from unhealthy (though perfectly enjoyable) eating habits, regulate their eating habits, mandate marital fidelity or safer sexual practices, and maybe even dictate their reading habits (stimulate healthy intellectual exercise).

Libetarians zealously guard our liberties from state regulation but undervalue the civil liberty abuses inflicted upon us from private organizations. Laws forbidding such testing and workplace discrimination ultimately buffer the employees' freedom to live as they see fit when off company time.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Weekend Cartoons

First, Dan Asmussen:

Gay sex sheep scandals. voter approval for ethnopol, the teletbubby epithet scandal, and iphone execution recordings.

Also,

1. John Kerry's botched political education by Dan Wasserman at The Boston Globe.

2. Bush v Ford by Mike Luckovich in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

3. A Thank you letter addressed to Senator John Kerry by Randy Bish

4. The nonbinding resolution brought to you by Mike Keefe and linked to from The Denver Post.

5. Steve Sack believes there is no shortage of political candidates. (from The Courier Journal).

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 PM ET): (a) 2008 Presidential elections - former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) on his presidential aspirations. (b) Debate over the War in Iraq - Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Senator David Vitter (R-Lousiana), former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson of the Council of Foreign Relations and former Clinton advisor Ken Pollack. Moderator is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET):
the war in Iraq (a) Senator and presidential candidate Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) on the Iraq war and presidential politics. (b)Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) on the showdown between Congress and the president and how that may be a precursor of future battles. (c) FOX News Sunday Panel discussion on the State of the Union and the war in Iraq - panelists yet to be posted. (d) Power Player of the Week - yet to be announced. Host is Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET):
how the struggle between President George W. Bush and Congress may be affecting the war in Iraq. Guests to include Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele (R-Maryland), Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and Senator and presidential candidate Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut). Host is Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET):
Iraq and the showdown on Capitol Hill. (a) the battle over the Iraqi war resolutions with the ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Senator and presidential candidate Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana). (b) "This Week: On the Trail" series - Representative and presidential candidate Duncan Hunter (R-California) days after he announced his intention to run. (c) Roundtable discussion on this week's politics with former Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clarke, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, ABC News' White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz, and syndicated columnist George Will. Host is George Stephanopoulos.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:00 AM ET): the plan for Iraq. Guests include Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and Senator Arlen Specter.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): (a) the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam. (b) the Democratic Primary for the White House - Senator John Kerry (D-Massachussetts) bows out and the bet is on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York). (c) Vice President Dick Cheney under attack. Talking heads are Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
(a) State of the Union Address - what the media thought of it. (b) 2008 race - winning the netroots primary. (c) The Rehab Defense - "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington seeks therapy after using an anti-gay epithet. Panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and host Eric Burns.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview of this show but anyone interested in watching this news analyst can check it out on Sunday mornings. Host is Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sundays at 10:00 AM ET): not posted yet. Host is Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): (a) Cold weather in the northeast. (b) Duke Rape Case Update - the recused D.A. faces ethics complaints. (c) 2008 elections - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton v. Senator Barack Obama. Host is Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
(a) Debate - whether a woman should have the right to swear on the Koran. (b) Episode from "24" featuring suitcase nukes - fact from fiction.
Host is John Kasich.

IV. FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
(a) "Waiting for the World to Change" - Diane Sawyer profiles three children who live one of the most dangerous and poorest cities in the United States, Camden. (b) "Cracking a Cold Case" - Harry Phillips reports on the investigation into the 1964 murders of Henry Dee and Charles Moore in Mississippi. Host is John Stossel.

2. "48 Hours" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"The Sweetheart Murders" - 25 years after lovers Sabrina Gonsalves and John Riggins had their throats cut, police look to the birthday gift they were carrying at the time of their murder for new clues. Troy Roberts reports.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): (a) Cover Story - military deserters heading to Canada to avoid Iraq war they oppose. (b) Movies - David Edelstein on Peter O'Toole. (c) History - The Real Mao. (d) Art - Murano Glass. (e) Who's The Boss - Patagonia boss Yvon Chouinard. (e) For The Record - Russ Mitchell talks to Bob Segar on his comeback after his layoff to raise the children. (f) Opinion - Bill Geist on messy offices. (g) Nature - Billy Lake NWR in New Mexico.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
(a) "An American Defector in North Korea" - Bob Simon interviews an American defector living in North Korea 44 years later. (b) "Get Me The Geeks" - Steve Kroft on how our complicated society and new technology make us rely upon the "geeks" and "nerds" from high school. (c) "Brain Man" - Deirdre Naphin profiles the savant Daniel Tammet can eloquently describe the thought process of his brain.

5. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
Eddie Magnus reports on Liz Securro, a rape victim who received a letter of apology in the mail and her renewed quest to seek justice.

V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT

1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): "Public Service Homicide" - Tabloid show "Hardfocus" outs some pedophiles and one of them soon turns up dead in his Upper West Side apartment. The detectives at first suspect the pedophile's neighbor who has an eight-year old daughter but his alibi is confirmed. The detectives and district attorney then turn to the ex-girlfriend before fighting the show producers to reveal the real culprit. Regular Stars include Sam Waterston as Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Connie Rubirosa, Jessie L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as the police chief, and Fred Thompson as the district attorney.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET): Guest host and singer is Ludacris.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 8:00 PM ET): Miller reopens a case that haunted her for some time involving two murders that happened at the same time and the world of methamphetamine. Regular stars include Kathryn Morris as Lila Rush, Danny Pilo as Scotty Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as Willl Jeffries and Tracy Thomas as Kat Miller.

4. "The Valley of Light" (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): a drama special about a young World War II veteran who is troubled by his war experiences and the mysterious stranger who sends him on a journey of self-discovery. Stars Chris Klein and Gretchen Mol. Based on a Terry Kay novel.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

State of the Union

BUSH: "The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk."
- President George W. Bush

No this is not the fight Mr. Bush expected when troops under his orders removed Saddam Hussein from power or the ones his Democratic and Republican Congressional supporters signed onto in order to dismantle the former despot's nonexistent chemical and biological weapons programs. They thought our forces would replace Saddam Hussein with a new pro-American secular government Iraq's people could rally behind.

Saddam Hussein was removed with considerable ease as was expected but the promise to the American people that our troops would be greeted as liberators remains unfulfilled. In his State of the Union last night, the president offered a sobering assessment he denied us from for the last three years.

In his state of denial offered two years ago, Mr. Bush said we merely faced "a remnant of violent Saddam Hussein supporters" and vowed to give the Iraqi government more responsibility over their security "month by month." One year later, the president mischaracterized the Iraqi's vote for sectarian reprsentation as their expressed support for a free and democratic Iraq. "We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for their own freedom and to write their own history," Mr. Bush said.

The Iraqi people were and still are fighting for their freedom but that freedom differed substantially from the secular, multicultural democratic state suggested by Mr. Bush. They were and still are fighting for sectarian representation so their divergent interests would be protected.

These denials cost the president much needed credibility. Had Mr. Bush acknowledged his mistakes, removed discredited Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and proposed a troop surge two years ago, he might have avoided the vote of no confidence given to him last November.

Mr. Bush asked Congress to give his new strategy of gradually bolstering American forces by 21,500 troops "a chance to work" but in spite of his please the president is operating on borrowed time. He will now face a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. Republican Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) , John Warner (R-Virginia), Susan Collins (R-Maine), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), and Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) are beginning to distance themselves from the president's war strategy.

The campaign for the White House will begin in full swing within the coming months as Republican and Democratic candidates stake out positions that would distinguish them from the pact. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a moderate Republican has decided to bolster his conservative credentials by sticking with the president while Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), a strong supporter for the war in Iraq, has opted to align himself with the neoconservatives early on - first by criticizing Donald Rumsfeld and second by calling for a larger troop surge. Theoconservative Sam Brownback distanced himself from the rpesident last week by coming out against the troop surge while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney chose to back it.

On the Democratic side, Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) supports a plan for a troop withdrawal as does Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) the author of a nonbinding resolution rejecting the troop surge. The distinguished senator from Delaware previiously co-wrote an op-ed with Leslie Gelb calling for a political compromise leading to a decentralized Iraqi federal state. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) one-upped Mr. Biden by calling for a binding resolution blocking the troop surge. Former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) disavowed his support for the Iraqi war. While Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) also came out against the troop surge ,she did not apologized for her vote to authorize military force.

Their voices will eclipse Mr. Bush's over time. The president said Congress did vote for failure when they authorized his war, but they and the American public at large believe our chances for success have gone from slim to none. In prior state of the union addresses Mr. Bush said Iraq would assume greater responsibility for its own security only to see it taken away when they failed to act and once again the president conditioned our support on the Iraqi government's largely absent commitment to national reconciliation.

As noted on prior occasions, the PoliticalHeretic would have the president threaten Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with a new Sunni-American alliance should he fail to deliver a fair oil revenue distribution law, constitutional revisions, and the fair distribution of government services. Threats to withdraw our forces from Iraq will only bolster the Iraqi Prime Prime Minister's alliance with Moqtada al-Sadr and his Shia militia but any fight against the Shia militias could weaken their negotiating position.

Mr. Bush's failure to revise his strategy to align it with the political reality in Iraq will deprive him of this last opporutnity to gain in Iraq the peaceful ally he seeks and give his political successor who more than likely will have less invested in a victory the chance to bown down to political pressure, concede and withdraw our forces from the war in Iraq.

On the domestic front the president offered a watered down agenda lthat included no bold initiatives (save health insurance coverage). He called for no new across-the-board tax cuts, no constitutional amendments (this writer's relief) banning gay marriage or flag burning , and no major overhaul in the entitlement programs. The president abandoned his push for private social security accounts, and remarkably promised to balance the budget without a tax increase. Mr. Bush vowed to oppose earmarks now that his party is no longer in power on Capitol Hill and support once again, investment in alternative energy through ethanol subsidies and called for drastic cuts in gasoline consumption that probably can not be fulfilled without a major shift to alternative energy sources in the very near future.

To the Political Heretic's dismay, President Bush reiterated his support for "comprehsnsive immigration reform" offering illegal immigrants an opportunity the chance to work their way to American citizenship other law-abiding foreigners are not granted even after they applied.

The president's emphasis on traditionally Democratic issues like alternative energy and health insurance should not surprise anyone. Donald Rumsfeld once said you go to war with the army you have. For his remaining two years in office Mr. Bush will have to govern with the Congress we the people gave him.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union

One good thing about the State of the Union. The president did not call for a constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and flag burning or for laws further restricting embryonic stem cell research. Obviously he knows that his chances for winning the 2/3 majority needed to send these amendments to the states are even slimmer now than they were when the Republicans held both houses in Congress.

More comments on the State of the Union will follow either later or tomorrow.

The Democratic Response


"With respect to foreign policy this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world. ... On the political issues ­ those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death ­ we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us ­ sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable ­ and predicted ­ disarray that has followed".
- Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia)

The Democratics Party leaders picked the right man to respond to Mr. Bush's speech. Senator Jim Webb did what the opposition should do - offer the American public with a short, clear, concise, and values-based altnernative list of priorities and goals. The junior senator from Virginia did not use his time to cite a laundry list of interest-driven proposals.

Mr. Webb focused on two issues - economic inequality and the quagmire in Iraq. Most Americans have no problem with class differences per se but all want to make enough money to pay the rent or mortgage, their cable, food and their child's college tuition. His focus on this issue is wise. In every state where the American public got to vote on it, minimum wage increase referendums were approved.

His response to the president's war strategy was sharp and to the point. Mr. Bush owed us sound judgement, both in his decision over whether we should go to war and in his decisions on how best to implement his plans to win the war. The president failed on both counts. Mr. Bush had us invade a country that did not have the weapons we all thought it had and then failed to provide for the peace in the aftermath.

Virginia's junior senator did not however, offer us with a viable alternative. Mr. Webb rejected a "precipitous withdrawal" but called for a policy that "takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities" and eventually, Iraq. Virginia's Democratic senator favorably referred to a diplomatic-centered approach similar to the one offered by the Iraq Study Group but left unanswered the questions concerning what we could afford to give up at the negotiating table.

Overall though, the Democratic Party wisely introduced their newest star to the American public. Mr. Webb presented himself as the responsible, thoughtful and candid senator that will be an asset to his party and the senate at large.






I

A Look Back at the Mention of Iraq in Prior State Of The Union Addresses

Posted below are some Iraqi War excerpts from President George W. Bush's prior State of the Union addresses - from the justifications to go to war (some plausible, some not so plausible) to the state of success (ranging from the delusional to the sober). Bold-faced passages my empahsis.

1. "Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

(Applause.)We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch." - >President George W. Bush on January 29, 2002

2. "America is working with the countries of the region -- South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia -- to find a peaceful solution, and to show the North Korean government that nuclear weapons will bring only isolation, economic stagnation, and continued hardship. (Applause.) The North Korean regime will find respect in the world and revival for its people only when it turns away from its nuclear ambitions. (Applause.)

Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth, will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States. (Applause.)

Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction. For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, even while inspectors were in his country. Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons -- not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities.

Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world. The 108 U.N. inspectors were sent to conduct -- were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary; he is deceiving. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses.

Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations. Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. Intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.

Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate, or attack.

With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the America people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes. (Applause.)

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. (Applause.)

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages -- leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained -- by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning. "
- President George W. Bush on January 28, 2003

3. "Since we last met in this Chamber, combat forces of the United
States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland, and other countries enforced
the demands of the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein, and
the people of Iraq are free.
Having broken the Ba'athist regime, we face a remnant of violent
Saddam supporters.
Men who ran away from our troops in battle are now
dispersed and attack from the shadows. These killers, joined by foreign
terrorists, are a serious, continuing danger. Yet we're making progress
against them. The once all-powerful ruler of Iraq was found in a hole
and now sits in a prison cell. Of the top 55 officials of the former
regime, we have captured or killed 45. Our forces are on the offensive,
leading over 1,600 patrols a day and conducting an average of 180 raids
a week. We are dealing with these thugs in Iraq just as surely as we dealt with Saddam Hussein's evil regime.
The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And
America has always been willing to do what it takes for what is right.
Last January, Iraq's only law was the whim of one brutal man. Today, our
coalition is working with the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a basic
law with a bill of rights. We're working with Iraqis and the United
Nations to prepare for a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty by the end
of June.
As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do all
in their power to spread violence and fear. They are trying to shake the
will of our country and our friends, but the United States of America
will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins. The killers will fail,
and the Iraqi people will live in freedom.

Month by month, Iraqis are assuming more responsibility for their
own security and their own future.
And tonight we are honored to welcome
one of Iraq's most respected leaders, the current President of the Iraqi
Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi."
President George W. Bush in his January 23, 2004 State of The Union address.

4. "We will succeed because the Iraqi people value their own liberty, as
they showed the world last Sunday. Across Iraq, often at great risk,
millions of citizens went to the polls and elected 275 men and women to
represent them in a new Transitional National Assembly.
A young woman in
Baghdad told of waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day and
wondering if it might be too dangerous to vote. She said, ``Hearing
those explosions, it occurred to me: The insurgents are weak; they are
afraid of democracy; they are losing. So I got my husband and I got my
parents, and we all came out and voted together.''
Americans recognize that spirit of liberty, because we share it. In
any nation, casting your vote is an act of civic responsibility. For
millions of Iraqis, it was also an act of personal courage, and they
have earned the respect of us all.
One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia
Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country, ``We were occupied for 35
years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. Thank you to the
American people who paid the cost but, most of all, to the soldiers.''
Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's
intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able
to vote for the leaders of her country, and we are honored that she is
with us tonight.
The terrorists and insurgents are violently opposed to democracy and
will continue to attack it. Yet, the terrorists' most powerful myth is
being destroyed. The whole world is seeing that the car bombers and
assassins are not only fighting coalition forces; they are trying to
destroy the hopes of Iraqis, expressed in free elections.
And the whole
world now knows that a small group of extremists will not overturn the
will of the Iraqi people.
We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for
their own freedom and to write their own history.
As Prime Minister
Allawi said in his speech to Congress last September, ``Ordinary Iraqis
are anxious to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as
quickly as possible.'' That is the natural desire of an independent
nation, and it is also the stated mission of our coalition in Iraq. The
new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work in that
country.
At the recommendation of our commanders on the ground and in
consultation with the Iraqi Government, we will increasingly focus our
efforts on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces, forces
with skilled officers and an effective command structure. As those
forces become more self-reliant and take on greater security
responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly
be in a supporting role.
"
- President George W. Bush on February 2, 2005

5. "And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.
First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old
resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized.
Second, we are continuing reconstruction efforts and helping the Iraqi
government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all
Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom. Third, we are striking
terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly
capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every
day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom.

Our work in Iraq is difficult because our enemy is brutal. But that
brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In
less than 3 years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to
liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections.

At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off
terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning
over territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for
victory. I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people. I am confident
in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in
this fight to win, and we are winning.
The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we
make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the
lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels; but those
decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians
in Washington, D.C.
Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq. We have
adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to
reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefited from responsible
criticism and counsel offered by Members of Congress of both parties.
In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good
advice."
President George W. Bush on January 31, 2006

6. And now:

"In Iraq, Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam, the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia, and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

Iraq

">This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

We’re carrying out a new strategy in Iraq: a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we are deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where Al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we’re sending an additional 4,000 United States marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. We didn’t drive Al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

[Background: Mr. Bush outlined his plan to send additional troops to Iraq in a speech to the nation on Jan. 10.]

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it’s time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad, and they must do so. They’ve pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party. And they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation: to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life, to hold local elections and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by Al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country, and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of Sept. 11 and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger."
- President George W. Bush tonight.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET): President George W. Bush's troop surge for the war in Iraq. Guests include Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachussetts).Host is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday on FOX (10:00 AM ET): The Democratic Party's alternative to the president's troop surge political domestic policy. (a)The Democratic Party's alternative, a resolution opposing the troop surge, and the potential for cutting off military funds. Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan). (b) former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on the president's troop surge, the need for public support to maintain the war and the upcoming State of the Union address. (c) FOX News Sunday Panel - the impact of this week's debate on the war in Iraq and a look to the State of the Union address with FOX News Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume, The Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, NPR Senior National Correspondent Juan Williams, and NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson. (d) Power Player of the Week - humor columnist Arch Buchwald. Host is Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET):
the Iraqi government's plan to deliver and the Democratic Party's opposition to the troop surge. Guests to include Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Samir Sumaidaie, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana), former Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers, and Representative Max Walters (D-California). Host is Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): two White House hopefuls talk politics and the war in Iraq. (a) Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) on his opposition to the troop surge and the "compassionate conservative" agenda he would push. (b) Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) on how he could challenge two celebrity status rivals - Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois). (c)"This Week" Classic Roundtable - Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, and George Will debate this week's politics. (d) highlights of Jan Crawford Greenburg's new book on the battle for the Supreme Court and a look inside the White House during the debate over Harriet Miers' nomination. Host is George Stephanopoulos.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:00 AM ET):
Congress v. President over war. Guests to include Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), Editor-in-Chief John Harris of Politico.com, Executive Editor Jim Vandehei of Politico.com, and Congressional Reporter Josephine Hearn of Politico.com. Host is Bob Schieffer.



II. The Weekend Political Talk Shows


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET):
standoff over the troop surge and Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House. (a) the Democratic Plan - a real measure to block the president's plan or mere posturing. (b) Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton trying to upstage rising political star Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois). Hosts are Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
politics, pop culture. (a) Senator Barack Obama and the media - honeymoon over? (b) press coverage over the rescued boys hurting or helping them. (c) controversy brewing over "24" and its hidden message? Panelists are
Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and host Eric Burns.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET):
CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but the Political Heretic posts this reminder for those who'd like to see it. Host is Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
the Democratic Primary for the White House. (a) the big three frontrunners - Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina). (b) former Vice President Al Gore political comback possible. Guests include Howard Fineman of Newsweek, David Brooks of The New York Times, Cynthia Tucker of The Atlantic Journal-Constitution, and Norah O'Donnell (MSNBC). Host is Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday at 5:00 PM ET): star wars? (a) wicked weather continues. (b)the meaning behind China's missile test. (c) Hillary v. Obama. Host is Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET): check back later. Host is John Kasich.

IV. FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS

1. "48 Hours" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Deadly Obsession" - a young woman and her aunt are murdered by someone they knew but there is a question whether they knew of that murderer's secret. Host is Susan Spencer.

2. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
(a) Cover Story - walking. (b) Art - Pablo Picasso and a look at how he influenced American artists. (c) Up and Coming - a profile on a new young and upcoming singer/songwriter, Regina Spektor. (d) Passage - Goodnight Sweetheart. (e) Whose the Boss - Ellen Fisher. (f) Osgood File - hats off. (g) Current Events - famous fueds. (h) Opinion - Nancy Giles on former football star and murder suspect O.J. Simpson. (i) Ender - names. (j) Nature - ice storm in New York. Host is Charles Osgood.

3. "60 Minutes" on CBS (7:00 PM ET):
will be pre-empted by the AFC Football Playoffs game.

4. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
the subway murder of Kendra Webdale.

V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET): check back later.

2. The AFC Championship Game on CBS (6:30 PM ET): New England Patriots v.Indiana Colts.

3. "Without A Trace" on CBS (10:00 PM ET):
the search for an up and coming artist who photographs and paints strangers on the street who are experiencing intense personal moments. Stars Stars Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Note

The Weekend Preview will be added tomorrow and for obvious reasons would not include any feature news programs airing tonight ("20/20") and weekend entertainment show featured tonight such as "Law and Order." Feel free to check out abcnews.com and nbc.com for these and other shows until the weekend preview is posted.

The PoliticalHeretic apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause but a cable outage barred him from his routine bloggin schedule.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

FISACompliance

On the same day he blamed "activist" judges who consider legal cases involving national security, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said the Bush administration would give the FISA court jurisdiction over the National Security Agency's controverisal wiretapping program.

In his letter to Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Gonzalez said "any electronic surveillance that was occuring as a part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court" now that a judge on the FISA court issued orders permitting surveillance when there is "probable cause to believe that" one of the communicants is an al Qaeda agent. He says the order allows the government to conduct surveillance of international communications if there is "probable cause" that one of the parties is a member or associate of al Qaeda or another associated terrorist organization.

Since the administration merely refers to an agreement without noting what is stipulated we don't know if the FISA Court legalized Mr. Bush's surveillance program as a whole or if he will have to return to the FISA Court for more warrants. Representative Heather A. Wilson (R-New Mexico)who sits on the intelligence committee says the agreement made between the FISA Court judge and the administration does not include the level of civil liberty protections found in FISA though no elaboration over which sacrificed rights is offered.

The president's shift in strategy can be attributed in part to his party's losses in the mid-term elections this Novemember. Since the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the president's claimed power to spy on international calls, the Bush administration might be trying to undercut the rationale for holding the meetings. His supporters may urge Democrats wary of losing a partisan battle to move on now that the president will subject his program to judicial scrutiny.

Mr. Bush's decision to comply with FISA is welcomed by the PoliticalHeretic but the president's penchant for ignoring the laws that inconvenience him should not be let off the hook. The hearings must proceed. Mr. Bush must account for his refusal to consult with Congress or seek this agreement with the FISA court earlier and he must be called to task if as expected administration officials refuse to describe what specifically they won got which made the president agree to submit his program to FISA's jurisdcition.

An administration that refuses to answer these questions while suggesting that it now has the "flexibility" needed to conduct this war on terror should not be afforded the benefit of the doubt if it once again breaches the trust it now asks from the FISA court.

al-Maliki

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the United States can withdraw 50,000 American troops from Iraq within the year (3-6 months) if accelerated its arm shipments to his government.


What al-Maliki is really saying:
(1) that he either does not care for or cannot rely upon Mr. Bush's plan to bring stability and would like us to leave soon. (2) that he will side with the militias in their quest to crush the Sunni insurgency and seeks the weapons that would be used to crush it. al-Maliki has no confidence in the president's ability to protect him. Mr. Bush's credility to do so was undermined once his party lost control on Capitol Hill so al-Maliki's political future lies now with the Shia militias.

What the PoliticalHeretic Recommends: (1) forget about if we cannot marginalize al-Maliki. He obviously lacks (this notwithstanding) the political will needed to save his country from its pending destruction and (2) we must switch sides - no political solution is possible if the Shia, who are and will be in the majority into the distant future, can impose their will upon the Sunnis and Kurds. Neither group would accept a Shi-run Iraq. These Shia, fearing Kurdish and Sunni rebellion, will look to the Iranians as their natural allies and their neighbor will comply. Our allies (most notably the Saudis and the Egyptians) back the Sunnis. Condition Mr. Bush's troop surge (and substantially increase his commitment) on his commitment to focus his efforts on (1) stemming the flow of arms along Iraq's borders and (2) shift our focus to the Shia militias.

President George W. Bush's strategy isn't working yet the opposition's plan for a withdrawal won't either. Mr. Bush is right about one thing: Conceding Iraq to genocidal and perhaps regional warfare isn't an option. We must deny Iran any opportunity it may gain from Iraq's political instability from moving west; we must deny anti-American terrorists the safe haven they lost in Afghanistan, and we must contain this civil war before it engulfs the whole region.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Illeal Immigration Setback in Texas

Say what?
If you by law have not been invited to live in this country. If by law you are now allowed to reside in this country, then how by law are you entitled to tenant rights?

Eminent Domain Under Fire In Virginia

Virginia's General Assembly may restrict the state and local governments from invoking eminent domain this year. It is considering no less than three (competing?) constitutional amendments - HJ 714 (which worbids its declared use for economic development, transfer of ownership to a private property, or an increase in tax revenue), HJ 722 which explicitly limits its transfer to a public agency, a public utility or railroad company, and to eliminate blight which threatens the public health or safety while barring the said uses described in HJ 714. HJ 723 would limit eminent domain takings to those required "for public use" (defined as a good or service used by the public in general) or eliminate blight.

The PoliticalHeretic favors HJ 722 since it explicitly lists the rare occasions when Virginia and its subdivisions can take privately-owned property away from its owner. It does not have the somewhat confusing qualifiers found in HJ 723, which, like HJ 714, merely bar certain justifications used to redistribute private property.

All three however, are favored over HJ 708 (which merely instructs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to review eminent domain practices in Virginia), and HB 2954 (which defines "public use" to allow acquisitions to be owned or occupied by Virginiaits subdivisions, or public utilities). Ohter property rights bills can be found here.

Forcing homeowners, small businessmen, (or even large corporations) to sell private property to another private developer (say one who contributed to the winners in a city council) is wrong and must be stopped. The General Assembly should restrict its use to several clearly-defined uses (school/hospital/library construction/expansion, road/railroad work, airports, power plant construction, sewers/reservoirs, and open space preservation.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Verbal Humor

Main Street, 100 block, near Leesburg, 5 p.m. Jan. 1. A woman was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest.

So if she didn't resist the arrest she would not have been arrested?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Cartoons

Dan Asmussen:

The real controversy behind al-Maliki's decision to rush Saddam Hussein's execution and, the Kooky Corner brought to SF readers before Christmas.

To Immigration Control Setbacks

Just before he left office, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed onto a plan to use the state police to arrest illegal immigrants. The former Massachussetts governor was trying to burnish the conservative image for his White House bid. If he wanted to, Mitt Romney could have signed onto this agreement far earlier though in all fairness he did establish his anti-illegal immigrant credentials earlier by vetoing legislation providing illegal immigrants an opportunity to seek college tuition relief.

His successor, Governor Deval Patrick, unfortunately, decided he will repeal the state's agreement with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and seek deportation hearings only when an illegal immigrant is convicted of commiting another crime. Their unauthorized entrance into this country alone should warrant a report to immigration officials and their removal from this country.

Meanwhile, California Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger said he will cover illegal immigrants in his universal health care plan. He said the state, through the taxpayer, already pays for the illegal immigrants' stay in the emergency rooms so efforts to require them to pay for health insurance or help subsidize their plan might save the taxpayers money. His assertions are questionable (the illegal immigrants are too poor to pay for their own healthcare so they more than likely will have it wholly subisidized by the state) but the governor's plan to include them should be stopped even if his claims could withstand public scrutiny.

The state does of course provide illegal immigrants, like all human beings, with subsidized emergency care if they have no health insurance because they have a right to life. Denying a person in dire need of medical treatment is tantamount to murder.

In choosing to provide them with health care, however, California's governor implicitly affirms the illegal immigrants' intention to flout the law and remain in this country. If this proposal is signed into law it would normalize their status and make a mockery of the federal government's declared if imperfectly (or negligently) enforced enforced laws designed to protect our borders and regulate immigration into and out of this country.

Just a Reaction

This excerpt from a gay marriage article in The Boston Herald caught my eye:

Ray Flynn, who founded Catholic Citizenship, said he’s “uncomfortable” that the debate has devolved into two sides screaming at each other from opposite sides of the street in front of the Statehouse.
“There’s so much division and anger,” he said.


Poor Mr. Flynn. He is "uncomfortable" because the debate over gay marriage is turning into the shouting match between two opposing camps that take this issue personally. Perhaps the founder of Catholic Citizenship would feel much better if he took a moment, stepped back and acknowledged that his rights, social standing, equality, and personal is not the one being debated by the people in Massachussetts.

Some Reactions to the Plan Posted in The National Review

1. "But what is troubling for me—and this is embedded in your question—is that the political objectives that this troop surge is intended to achieve remains opaque. We don’t know with any clarity exactly what the new political objectives that the administration is trying to achieve are." - General Charles Boyd in his interview with The National Interest

Further down, Mr. Boyd said the following:

"The senior military officers have challenged their political masters repeatedly to define for them the political objectives that the administration is trying to achieve. Establishing a troop surge is about a fourth-order question, and the military people have tried to focus their political masters on answering the first three questions before they determine how many troops, and for how long. Those first three questions are: What is it you’re trying to achieve now politically? What is your strategy to do so? And how do you think you’re going to go about maintaining enough political support at home to be able to achieve those objectives through this strategy?"

2. Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations on his own picks up on a point this observer wrote about on Thursday:

"If our troop increase is temporary, insurgents and militias have an incentive to wait us out by hiding their weapons, melting into the civilian population and reemerging as soon as conditions improve for them. The administration has argued that even a temporary respite in Baghdad could create political momentum and catalyze reconciliation. Yet Iraqi politicians are not fools—if the surge is temporary, then they know perfectly well that the same gunmen are simply waiting for the United States to leave and that nothing fundamental has changed in the Iraqi security calculus.

And if so, then it is hard to see why vulnerable Iraqi politicians would be willing to take risks for reconciliation without a promise of a continuing U.S. presence to protect them and their constituents if they do. In short, if the U.S. presence is known to be temporary, then so will be any reduction in violence. Real progress toward reconciliation would require the offer of a sustained, long-term U.S. presence in exchange for compromise."

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
the troop surge for the war in Iraq. (a) National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on the troop surge. (b)an interview with four senators on the war strategy - Senator and White House hopeful Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), and Senator Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska).
Host is Tim Russert.
2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET):
the Iraqi troop surge and the latest standoff with Iran. (a) an exclusive interview with Vice President Richard Cheney. (b) FOX News Panel - the Democratic Party's agenda in Congress analyzed with FOX News Managing Editor Brit Hume, The Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, NPR Senior National Correspondent Juan Williams, and NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson. Host is Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (11:00 AM ET):
Congressional support for/opposition to the proposed troop surge and its chance for success/failure. Guests to include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Senator Cark Levin (D-Michigan), Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Former Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Host is Chris Wallace.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): the war in Iraq and health care. (a) National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on the president's 21,500 proposed troop surge in Iraq. (b) Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California) on his universal health care proposal. (c) Roundtable discussion - George Will, Katrina vanden Huevel,Fareed Zakaria.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:00 AM ET):
the plan for Iraq. Guests include Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois). Host is Bob Schieffer.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET):
Iraq. (a) Bush v. Democratic Congress. the Democratic Congress' plans. (b) the Iraqis - getting tough on insurgents? Hosts include Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): (a) The New Way Forward - press coverage on President George W. Bush's new plan for the war in Iraq. Check back later for more. Panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and host Eric Burns

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but the Political Heretic posts this reminder for those who'd like to see it. Host is Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
(a)President George W. Bush's credibility - can he lead us through the last stages of the Iraq War and is Iran next? (b) Election 2008 - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's chances after supporting the war. Guests to include Dan Rather of HDNet, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, Andrew Sullivan of Time Magazine and The New Republic, and Katty Kay of the BBC. Host is Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): (a) Iran's President meeting Venezuela's president. The Duke Rape Case - the latest twist on this case. Host is Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
(a) Rosie and David Behckham really like from the point of view of a handwriting expert. (b) the ex-con who breaks into your house to prove that you really are not safe. Host is John Kasich.

IV. FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
(a) the unraveling of an amazing hoax. (b) dieting - focusing on the waist more than the weight. Host is John Stossel.

2. "48 Hours" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Murder on His Mind" - the trial of murder suspect Stephen Stanko, a man who claimed a brain defect on the brutal murder spree. Correspondent Troy Roberts reports.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
Cover Story - "Bad Cars:" Detroir automobile makers seek a comback from the three Japanese car makers Americans have been going to for better quality cars. (b) Almanac - George Wallace's inaugural speech of 1963. (c) The Collectors - African American art. (d) The Movies - the best performances of 2006. (e) The Envelope Please - Judy Dench. (f) Monumental Problem - Washington, D.C. losing space to build monuments. (g) For the Record - Bob Segar back on the road performing after a 10-year hiatus. (h) Opinion - Ben Stein on the minimum wage. (k) Geist - weather summit. Host is Charles Osgood.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): (a) Iraq war strategy - President George W. Bush sits down with Scott Pelley in his first interview since giving his speech. (b) The Duke Lacrosse Rape Case - Leslie Stahl speaks to the forensic expert hired by the District Attorney and the defendants' parents. (c)Commentary - Andy Rooney

5. "CNN Presents" on CNN

6. "Dateline NBC on NBC (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET): a repeat. the story of twin sisters and how one goes undercover and takes on her missing sister's identity to find out what happened. Keith Morrison reported.

VI. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT

1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): "Charity Case." - a husband, wife, nanny and two children stop for ice cream while Bianca, her husband and son (adopted from Africa) wait outside. Gunshots are fired, killing Bianca's husband. The gunman, who happens to be the biological father's cousin is caught. Further investigation leads D.A. to conclude that the adopted son is really the son of Bianca's assistant, leading him to search for the real adopted son. Guest stars include Jennifer Beals as Sofia Archer and Anna Chlumski as Nanny Mary Calvin. Regular Stars include Sam Waterston as Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Connie Rubirosa, Jessie L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as the politce chief, and Fred Thompson as the district attorney.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET):
Guest host is Jake Gyllenhaal and musical guest The Shins.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
returns live on Jan. 21. Stars include Kathryn Morris as Lila Rush, Danny Pilo as Scotty Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as Willl Jeffries and Tracy Thomas as Kat Miller.

4. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sundat at 10:00 PM ET): "Eating Away" - the search for a competitive eating champion who won $5,000 prize for stuffing his face with chili. Stars Stars Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

The President's Speech

1. "The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail." - President George W. Bush in his speech to the nation last night.

2. QUESTION: Can you define what success will be then, sir?

I mean, if you don't know how long it will be, I know one of the things over the last few months the president was saying, "We're winning in Iraq. We're winning in Iraq." Suddenly he didn't think we were.

So how do you define success? How do you know if it's not working? Certainly, there will be a period where it's bloodier, more violent, but at what point do you really know it's working?

GATES: Well, let me take a crack at that and then invite Condi to comment.

I think that what we will see over time is a lessening of violence in Baghdad. If this strategy is successful, over time we will see a lessening of violence in Baghdad.

We're going to be, to a certain extent, the prisoners of anyone who wants to strap on a bomb and blow themselves up. But if the environment in Baghdad improves to the point where the political process can go forward, where the reconciliation process can go forward, where an oil law can be passed for the distribution of the revenues from the oil sales, where provincial elections can go forward, and where the government is actually beginning to make its writ felt outside Baghdad and we see the government of Iraq beginning to operate more effectively -- I think all of these things -- as the president said last night and as I suggested this morning, it isn't going to be like anything we've experienced before in terms of when we'll know whether or not we're being successful. It's going to take a little time, and we will probably have a better view a couple of months from now in terms of whether we are making headway in terms of getting better control of Baghdad, with the Iraqis in the lead, and with the Iraqis beginning to make better progress on the reconciliation process."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the press briefing this morning

All war supporters' eyes were on President George W. Bush as he delivered his first formal address to the nation since Democrats wrested control of Congress last week. The president, we were hoping, would offer us a new strategy designed to win the peace in Iraq and restore the credibility he squandered by ignoring and downplaying the facts on the ground in Iraq.

The president failed on both counts. As expected, the president said he will send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq to (for the most part) supplement the Iraqi forces Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki would commit for the supposedly evenhanded pacification of Baghdad's streets while other.

Mr. Bush's continued faith in Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Iraqi government's security forces is misplaced. Mr. al-Maliki has close ties to Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shi'ite cleric whose 60,000-plus Mahdi army is credited/blamed for the sectarian violence in and around Baghdad. Iraq's prime minister did not, in psite of his promises, distance himself from al-Sadr.

Last month, al-Maliki ordered American forces to abandon their search for a missing American soldier and lift the siege on Sadr City let alone dismantle his militia. And last week he bowed down to Shia pressure and resisted our leaders' pleas to postpone Saddam Hussein's execution. The very Iraqi police and military force Mr. Bush would rely have, as the Iraqi Study Group which the president mentioned in passing, been corrupted by the infiltration of Shia militiamen and criminal elements.

The president offered the American public no reason to believe al-Maliki will change his political calculations now and rid his country of the militias undermining the "national reconciliation" efforts called for by the Iraq Study Group. The Iraqi prime minister, who to this day relies on Mr. al-Sadr for support, would have no reason to abandon him for a thorougly discredited president leading a country through a war it is seeking to extricate its forces from.

Prior efforts to pacify Baghdad's neighborhoods have failed, Mr. Bush suggests, because (a) we did not have the minimal troops needed to "clear, hold, and build" neighborhoods once occupied by Sunni insurgents or Shia militiamen and (b) because we did not have the the authority to go after Moqtada al-Sadr's militamen. American forces, it is suggested, may have enough troops to "clear" a given neighborhood of these violent elements but once they left the Sunni insurgents or Shia militiamen would return.

His assertions will not withstand the public's scrutiny because they are not grounded in the reality that Iraq's sectarian crisis is now primarily a political problem. The president had, on prior occasions, significantly bolstered American forces in Baghdad and to no avail. Whether the 21,500 troops succeed in clearing territory held by Sunni insurgents and Shia militiamen or not, they will eventually leave. Iraq's Sunni insurgents and Shia militiamen once again will settle in territory they evacuated when Americna forces entered their neighborhoods so the the cycle of violence will continue.

The Iraqi war must primarily be solved at the negotiating table and nothing in the president's speech suggested we will provide the leverage required to bring the two sides who have no incentive to negotiate to the table to do so. The Sunnis have no reason to negotiate from their politically impotent position and the Shia have no reason to compromise with the political faction which believe they could subdue with some ease.

Coalition forces alone can force the two groups to the negotiating table if but only if they side with the Sunnis. (Siding with the Shia could also increase the likelihood of the public's desired withdrawal but at a high costs - (a) growing Iranian influence in Iraq and (b) offend the Sunni-dominated allied countries we would need to rely upon to check Iran's growing influence in the Middle East).

If an American force substantially larger than the one Mr. Bush promises to commit to Baghdad narrowed its focus to the al Qaeda forces in Anbar (and not Sunni insurgents in general) and Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army, al-Maliki might have the breathing room he needs to distance himself from the extremists and make the comprimises necesary to win over Iraq's moderate Sunnis.

Mr. Bush however failed and since he refused to link his "augmentation" (as Secretary of State Dr. Rice would refer to the surge) in American troops to a revised political strategy as such, the war's chief supporters and the American public in general is left with the gnawing sensation that the president is offering us more of the same - an escalation remininescent of one proposed by General William Westmoreland in Vietnam.