Wednesday, February 28, 2007

John Edwards Coverage

He may not be getting any press time in the national media but former Senator John Edwards (D-Iowa) does get some horse race press coverage in The Des Moines Register.

Take it while you can. This might be the last we hear of him since the national coverage revolves around Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois).

The Weird Crime Hour

1. So do we know what car Nicole Uribe bought (or was going to buy) for this?

2. On May 21, Salinas told police, she arrived to find her employer in a rage over a messy refrigerator. After hurling the carrots at her, Tepper hit the Philadelphia resident on the head with a telephone handset, pulled her hair, broke her glasses and tried to push her down the stairs.

When Salinas tried to flee, Tepper grabbed her purse and took out $800, thought to be Salinas' pay.

"You're not calling anyone," Tepper allegedly told Salinas. "I'm important, you're nothing. No one will believe you."
from The Philadelphia Inquirer

But no word on whether the victim is an illegal or legal immigrant.

3. the knife throwing (ninja?) girlfriend? Perhaps the boyfriend knew what he was getting. into.

4. Paying gas with video games!

5. Typing while driving.

Nuclear Free?

Read this.

Just a Dig At Our President

Perhaps we could ask NATO allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to help us defeat the Taliban.

Catch the Illegal Immigrants

"It’s almost enough to make us nostalgic for streaking and sitting on flagpoles. College students from Michigan to Florida have found a new way to get attention, offend others and make a right-wing statement all at once. It’s a game with a name that says it all: “Catch the Illegal Immigrant.”

The game is a variation on hide and seek: one player poses as the immigrant, and everyone else tries to find that person. There’s a prize, usually $200 or less, which is not much, but enough to celebrate the cheap exploitation of a fellow human." - The >New York Times editorial board in the Tuesday, January 27 edition.

Police officers, border patrol agents, and members of the National Guard who aprehend those who are not authorized to work or live in this country are not exploiting their captives; they are doing their job, which requires that they enforce this country's immigration laws. Like a tenant who did not sign or renew his or her contract with the landlord, the illegal immigrant can expect to be forcibly removed.

The editorial board for The New York Times harshly condemns college students who support immigration law enforcement through these "catch the illegal immigrant" games whereby one student poses as an illegal immigrant while others seek to apprehend him or her for an "award "(usually not $200). They were not exploiting or calling for "the exploitation of a fellow human being."

Participants played this game to remind their peers that illegal immigration has more to do with law enforcement than civil rights. The editorial board and the spectators at such events might have caught on had the would-be apprehenders dressed themselves up like police officers or border patrol agents.

Speaking of rewards check out the comments.

Dumb Bill Watch

This bill was replaced by one requiring parental permission.

Utah's Tyranny of the Religious

Utah's governor should veto this bill which was clearly written to deny students the right to form extracurricular school clubs that promote messages school administrators do not want. Utah's school children, unfortunately, will grow up thinking there is no First Amendment protection for those whose views are deemed unpopular or unorthodox or detrimental to the "psychological, or moral well being of students and faculty."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Vilsack's Departure

Former Governor Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) thought he was presidential material but the voters from across the nation won't get a chance to hear what he would add to the debate over this country's future because (a) the journalists never considered him a first tier candidate unlike Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Barack Obama (D-Illinois), (b) the two presumed frontrunners have raised the funds necessary to saturate the media airwaves while, and (c) the former governor himself dropped out today.

Our political system is broken. How a first-term two-year senator with no executive experience governing a state (or at least a large city) and no background in realpolitik and diplomacy would get more name recogntion and front tier red carpet treatment from the press over governors with more experience (former Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa, Governor and former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and Senator Joe Biden) is beyond me.

So-labelled second and third tier candidates don't stand a chance with the press coverage accorded to them. The occasional interview on "This Week," "Meet The Press," and "FOX News Sunday" can make up for the bombardment of press coverage surrounding Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani. Voters almost never hear from Representative Dennis Kucinich, Representative Duncan Hunter, Senator Sam Brownback, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, or Senator Chris Dodd. Though former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Joe Biden do get interviews from the press, the commentary that follows and over the course of the week do not factor them into the political race.

We can and have to do better. Reporters should not, as they have done to Senator Joe Biden, selectively determine if and when to cover their campaigns. If they focused less on the horse race and more on the campaigns perhaps candidates like the former Governor of Iowa would have a fighting chance.

Election 2008 Links

Before "Meet The Press" eliminates these links in the forseeable future or another candidate drops out of the race - the transcripts for some of those running for the White House. The PoliticalHeretic apologizes for any inbalance in coverage but some candidates (like former Governor Huckabee) get virtually no regular press coverage. Senator Dodd, too gets no press coverage and was given virtually none on "Meet The Press" (he was competing for air time with three other senators) so again, the PoliticalHeretic apologizes for the lack of coverage provided here.

1. Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) on January 7, 2007 with some key quotes on:

a. political solution: "My view is we have one chance to not lose Iraq, and it rests in not repeating the mistakes we’ve made. It made sense to surge 60,000, 70,000, 100,000 troops before there was a civil war. "There is now a civil war. You need a political solution before you can get a physical solution. Unless Maliki is willing to deal the Sunnis in so they abandon the insurgency, unless the Sunnis are willing to allow, under the constitution, the Shia to control their local districts like the Kurds do, there is no possibility, none, with 500,000 American forces there."

b. troop surge a prescription of failure: "Think of this, we’re going to surge 20-, 30-, whatever the president says, thousand troops into Baghdad again, a city of six million people, six million people where civil war is raging. We’re going to have our troops go door to door in 23 neighborhoods. We’re going to keep them out of Sadr City where, in fact, we are not—we’re told hands off because Maliki is dependent upon Sadr, the Mahdi army. This is a prescription for another tragedy. If we want to make sure we don’t lose Iraq, don’t use the last bullet in our gun here, prove ourselves to be impotent, and embolden every sector of the Iraqi population to conclude we are incapable of affecting outcomes there. That’s my worry about doing the same thing again."

c. Congress and War Powers: "But there’s not much I can do about it. Not much anybody can do about it. He’s commander in chief. If he surges another 20, 30, or whatever number he’s going to, into Baghdad, it’ll be a tragic mistake, in my view, but, as a practical matter, there’s no way to say, “Mr. President, stop.”

2. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) on January 14, 2007:

a. troop surge: "No, no one’s suggested pulling out quickly here. This is a Rubik cube we’re talking about. We’ve seen this in other places in the Middle East. The idea, again, is 17,000 young Americans injected into the city of Baghdad of six million people with Sunnis fighting Shias, Shias fighting Sunnis, where you have Baathists and you have insurgents and maybe some al-Qaeda elements, all of this competing for power in that country, and expecting this increase, what we’re talking about here, to solve that problem, I think is terribly misguided.

There is an alternative here. There are—there are functions which our military can perform. Every single officer I talked to in Baghdad three weeks ago, including the junior officers who’re on the ground doing the job every day, tell us that this is a huge mistake, that there are functions they can perform. Border security, training in the Kurdish areas, the counterterrorism activities—these are jobs they can do. As one young captain said to me from West Point, “I’m sending 19 year olds in a humvee down on patrols where their only mission is to get shot at or blown up. There’s no other mission I have for them.” He said, “How can you sustain that much longer?”"

b. Doubts about Maliki: "The Maliki government said almost a year ago that they were going to control the militias, they were going to bring security in the country, they were going to deal with a revenue-sharing law, they were going to bring services to the people of that country. All of these five goals they set out, none of—none of which have been even closely achieved in that period of time. What makes us think at this particular junction that 17,000 more people, young men and women, injecting them in a city that’s being ripped apart by, by sectarian violence is going to sort that out?

We need to move to a different strategy. The emphasis needs to be on robust, muscular diplomacy, deal with regional leaders, insist upon the kind of political leadership inside the country, and then ask our military people to do the border kind of security, the training that can be done, the counterterrorism activities, but get them out of these major urban areas and insist that the 300,000 Iraqis, those, those 10 divisions, those 36 brigades and 118 battalions which we’ve trained, to assume that responsibility in their own country."

3. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) on January 21, 2007:

a. on the troop surge: "I am concerned about it, whether it is sufficient numbers or not. I would have like to have seen more. I looked General Petraeus in the eye and said, “Is that sufficient for you to do the job?” He assured me that he thought it was and that he had been told that if he needed more he would receive them. I have great confidence in General Petraeus. I think he’s one of the finest generals that our military’s ever produced, and he has a proven record on that. He wrote the new Army counterinsurgency manual. But do I believe that if it had been up to me would there have been more? Yes, but one of the keys to this is get them over there quickly rather than feed them in piecemeal as some in the Pentagon would like to do today."

b. on the advice against troop surge: "From the beginning, many of us knew that it was a failed strategy. It was based on the mistaken belief that the Iraqi army and police would be able to take over the responsibilities far more quickly than they were able to. And after the bombing of the Shia mosque, the, the crisis accelerated, and we saw and are seeing a steady deterioration of the situation. And if we continue it as we are, within months we would see a total breakdown in Iraq. We cannot afford it, in my view, as I said.

Baghdad is a city of six million people—two million Sunnis, four million Shia. We would see a bloodletting in Baghdad of—that would make Srebrenica look like a Sunday school picnic. We can’t expect Americans to sit outside Baghdad or outside the borders and watch such a thing go on. It was a failed policy; it was pursued too long. We now have a new strategy headed by one of the finest military people we have, and I believe we can succeed.

c. Congress and War Powewrs: "I don’t see any place in the Constitution where that kind of authority is granted to the Congress. The Congress can cut off funding. And if my colleagues believe that they’re going to send young Americans to die in an unwinnable situation, it seems to me that their conscience would dictate that they cut off the funding for the entire effort. And the—this resolution is basically a vote of no confidence in the men and women we are sending over there. We’re saying, “We’re sending you—we’re not going to stop you from going there, but we don’t believe you can succeed and we’re not willing to support that.” I don’t think the troops would find that an expression of support."

4. former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) on January 28, 2007:

a. Would not Vote Against a Troop Surge: "I think that’s a dangerous position to take, to oppose a sitting commander in chief while we’ve got people being shot at on the ground. I think it’s one thing to have a debate and a discussion about this strategy, but to openly oppose, in essence, the strategy, I think that can be a very risky thing for our troops."

b. exchange with Tim Russert on Tax and Government Policy (this is an actual one-on one interview with a candidate as opposed to the above links which included candidates in debates on the war in Iraq):

a. he main reason for the drop was his insistence on raising taxes at almost every turn throughout his final term.” And The Club for Growth, another conservative think tank, wrote this: “About Gov. Huckabee, the Club for Growth ... is adamant. ... They say he raised taxes five times—a gas tax increase in 1999, the cigarette tax hike, tax increases in 2004, a tax on beer and a tax on nursing homes.” That’s a tough record to sell to a Republican audience in primary states.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, it shouldn’t be if they look at the real record. I—I’ve said, and I think one of the reasons they’re mad at me is because I said I gave them an F on their grading capacity. I was the first governor in the history of my state to ever lower taxes, the first one in 160 years. We lowered a total of 94 different taxes and fees. We did things that streamlined and made government more efficient. But we were under a Supreme Court order to raise revenue for our schools. We did it, but with the insistence that we wouldn’t just raise money, we would raise standards and expectations, and we did. And Education Week now says that we have some of the most improved schools in the nation. That’s real progress, Tim, and I make no apology for wanting to improve education for the kids of our state. Did we raise taxes on fuel? Yes, but 80 percent of the people voted on it because it was on the ballot. So it wasn’t that I raised it. I joined with 80 percent of the people in my state to improve what was the worst road system in the country.

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think you got to be very careful. I, I wouldn’t propose any new taxes. I wouldn’t support any. But if we’re in a situation where we are in a different level of war, where there is no other option, I think that it’s a very dangerous position to make pledges that are outside the most important pledge you make, and that is the oath you take to uphold the Constitution and protect the people of the United States.

b. Exchange on Religious Faith and the Presidency: "MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask you a couple things that you said earlier in your political career. “Huckabee ... explained why he left pastoring for politics. ‘I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.’” And then this: “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.” Would you, as president, consider America a Christian nation and try to lead it as—into a situation as being a more Christian nation?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think it’s dangerous to say that we are a nation that ought to be pushed into a Christian faith by its leaders. However, I make no apology for my faith. My faith explains me. It means that I believe that we’re all frail, it means that we’re all fragile, that all of us have faults, none of us are perfect, that all of us need redemption. We are a nation of faith. It doesn’t necessarily have to be mine. But we are a nation that believes that faith is an important part of describing who we are, and our generosity, and our sense of optimism and hope. That does describe me.

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say...

GOV. HUCKABEE: I’m appalled, Tim, when someone says, “Tell me about your faith,” and they say, “Oh, my faith doesn’t influence my public policy.” Because when someone says that, it’s as if they’re saying, “My faith isn’t significant, it’s not authentic, it’s not so consequential that it affects me.” Well, truthfully my faith does affect me. But it doesn’t make me think I’m better than someone, it makes me know that I’m not as good as I really need to be.

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say “take this nation back for Christ,” what does that say to Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists? What...

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, I think I—I’d probably phrase it a little differently today. But I don’t want to make people think that I’m going to replace the Capitol dome with a steeple or change the legislative sessions for prayer meetings. What it does mean is that people of faith do need to exercise their sense of responsibility toward education, toward health, toward the environment. All of those issues, for me, are driven by my sense that this is a wonderful world that God’s made, we’re responsible for taking care of it. We’re responsible for being responsible managers and stewards of it. I think that’s what faith ought to do in our lives if we’re in public service."

c. Abortion: "Well, I always am going to err on the side of life, Tim. I believe life is precious. But I think the issue for many of us who are in the pro-life camp—and I have been since, you know, I was a teenager. This is not something that I’ve been all over the board on, it’s consistent. It’s because of my view that God is the creator and instigator of life. But I think those of us in the pro-life movement, we have to do also some growing and expanding. We have to remind people that life, that we belive it begins at conception. It doesn’t end at birth. And if we’re really pro-life we have to be concerned about more than just the gestation period."

d. Abortion Follow Up - Punishment: "MR. RUSSERT: But if you outlawed abortion, what would happen to the doctor who performed an abortion? What, what would happen to the woman who had an abortion?

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, I think the question is, would I sign the bill in South Dakota? Do I think it’s the best only bill that ever could be signed? The question still comes back to this is a debate that’s been so divisive, and what we really need to be doing is having the discussion center around how can we create a culture where people value and celebrate life. The fundamental difference between the United States and our enemies in terror is that, regardless of whether one is considered pro-life or pro-choice, the one thing that—that is unique to America, or certainly characteristic of America, is that we celebrate life. We believe in it; we cherish it. We may have different definitions of it, what it means and how extensive we want to protect it. But the enemy on the other hand celebrates death. That’s where we need to bring this debate, is to remind ourselves that we still are a nation that elevates the concept that life is precious and important. And I hope that we can center on those topics rather than on the, the fine points that sometimes separate and divide.

e. Exchange Over His Attitude Towards Gays: MR. RUSSERT: You said this to the Des Moines Register: “Let’s face it. In our lifetimes, we’ve seen our country go from ‘Leave it to Beaver’ to ‘Beavis and Butt-head,’ from Barney Fife to Barney Frank.” Why, why include Barney Frank, a gay congressman, in that reference?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think it was a matter of a rhetorical device to talk about the different cultural shift that we have, and it wasn’t any particular attempt to be derisive of him. But, but there has been a huge cultural shift in this country, Tim. And I think that’s why many Americans are seeking leadership that has a positive and optimistic spirit, that wants to take this nation—what I call vertical politics rather than horizontal.

I just completed a book in which I talk about the difference between horizontal politics, where everything is left or right, everything is liberal or conservative, everything is Democrat or Republican. I think the American people are hungry for vertical politics, where we have leaders who lift us up rather than those who tear us down.

MR. RUSSERT: But some would suggest by including Barny Frank in that

reference you are tearing a gay man down. You’re against gay marriage, you’re

against gay civil unions. Is—do you have a problem with gay people?

GOV. HUCKABEE: No. I have a problem with changing institutions that have served us. And I, I think I would rather characterize not what I’m against, but what I’m for. Before we change the definition of marriage to mean something different, I think our real focus ought to be on trying to strengthen heterosexual marriages because half of them are ending in divorce. That’s a real problem in this country. There are a lot of kids who are growing up in a very, very confused and conflicted world because—not because we have same-sex marriage, but because we’re seeing a real failure in the tradition heterosexual marriage. That’s where our focus needs to be. Because if we want to end poverty, get a kid through high school, let him grow up in a stable, two-parent home and make sure that that child doesn’t have a child before he’s 21 and has a full-time job. That’s a 93 percent chance that child will never grow up in a single day of poverty if those are the criteria.

GOV. HUCKABEE: So we ought to be working more to build strong families rather than just to create new versions of them.

MR. RUSSERT: Should gay couples be allowed to adopt children?

GOV. HUCKABEE: That’s a question that, that I think, again, goes back to the heart of what’s best for the child. Unfortunately, so much of this argument has been framed about what, what the same-sex couple wants. But the real question needs to be child-focused, not couple-focused. And, Tim, that’s true for whether the couple is same-sex or whether they’re heterosexual. In our state, as in most, the criteria for adoption is always what’s in the best interest of the child. That ought to be what’s front and center.

MR. RUSSERT: So is it in the interest—best interest of the child to have a gay, gay parents?

GOV. HUCKABEE: That’s a question I’m not sure that, that we have a positive answer to. And until we absolutely could say it, then, then I—I’m always hesitant to change those institutions.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that you’re born gay or you choose to be gay?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I don’t honestly know. I really don’t. I think there are—there are people who would argue vociferously on both sides of that. But I think that the point is, people are, are who they want to be, and we should respect them for that. But when they want to change the institutions that’ve governed our society for all the years of recorded human history, then that’s a serious change of, of culture that we, we don’t just make readily or, or hurriedly. It has to be done with some, some deep thought."

5. former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina) on February 4, 2007:

a. Why He Was Wrong on Iraq: "For the same reason a lot of people were wrong. You know, we—the intelligence information that we got was wrong. I mean, tragically wrong. On top of that I’d—beyond that, I went back to former Clinton administration officials who gave me sort of independent information about what they believed about what was happening with Saddam’s weapon—weapons programs. They were also wrong. And, based on that, I made the wrong judgment. I, I, I want to go another step, though, because I think this is more than just weapons of mass destruction. I mean, I—at the—I remember vividly what I was thinking about at the time. It was, first, I was convinced he had weapons of mass destruction. That’s turned out to be completely wrong and false. I had internal conflict because I was worried about what George Bush would do. I didn’t have—I didn’t have confidence about him doing the work that needed to be done with the international community, the lead-up to a potential invasion in Iraq. I didn’t know, in fairness, that he would be as incompetent as he’s been in the administration of the war. But I had—there were at least two things going on. It wasn’t just the weapons of mass destruction I was wrong about. It’s become absolutely clear—and I’m very critical of myself for this—become absolutely clear, looking back, that I should not have given this president this authority."

b. troop funding: "What I would do is, is say we’re not going to fund an escalation of this war. That’s what I think we should do. I would not cut off funding for the men and women who are part of our troops and serving in, in, in Iraq."

c. solviing this crisis requires political engagement: "But the basic foundation for the violence is very clear, which is why I and others, the Baker group, determined that the only solution is not a military solution, but a political resolution, a political reconciliation. So the starting place for me in analyzing what we should be doing in Iraq, to create the—create the greatest chance for success—and I’ll caveat what I’m about to say with what you just read and what is in the rest of that N.I.E. report from, from this week, which is the conditions are horrendous in Iraq. Not—and there—what’s basically happened is there’s a political track and there’s a security track, and they’re terrible on both fronts. So everyone recognizes this place could go chaotic no matter what you do, and I’d be the first to say that.

But the question is what do we do to try to get the Maliki, Shia-led government to bring the Sunni in, so as to have a buy-in to a long-term, stable government? What do we do to get the Sunni, disorganized as they are, leadership to try to contribute to a buy-in to the—to, to a political reconciliation? And the president’s plan is we put 20,000-plus more troops into Iraq. I think all that does is enable the continued bad behavior, political bad behavior that we’ve seen over the last few years. What we need to do instead, in my judgment, is to shift this responsibility to them. It is the most likely way to create this political reconciliation.

Now, the argument by Senator McCain and others would be as long as the condition on the grounds—and that’s what you—on the ground is as bad as it is—and that’s what you just read from the N.I.E. report—is as bad as, as it is, political reconciliation is impossible. I think they’ve got it exactly backwards. I don’t think there’s any chance that these two groups are going to reach any kind of reconciliation until they feel imminent responsibility. We cannot continue to prop them up.

Now, I would add that I think it would be foolish for the president of the United States, if we go through this process—I mean, what I think the process should be is withdraw, as you pointed out, one piece of it, 40-, 50,000 troops now from the more secure areas of Iraq, continue to draw down American troops, combat troops over the course of the next 12-plus months, make it clear to the—to the leadership, both the Sunni and, and Maliki and, and the Shia that they’re going to have to take responsibility for this. And finally, engage not just our friends in that region of the world—the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians—but engage directly with Iran and Syria, because both Iran and Syria have an interest in Iraq not going totally chaotic. I mean, if you just look—for a moment, just think about Iran. They’re in a situation where—and by the way, we—it should be pointed out that Iran has actually participated in support—while they have done some bad things, they provided supplies, equipment to these Shia militia. On the other hand, they have been fairly supportive of the Shia-led government in, in Iraq.

So what is Iran’s interest in this? Iran’s interest is first of all in not having, you know, a million-plus refugees coming across their western border, which could clearly happen with an all-out civil war within Iraq. Their, their second interest is they are Shia, Shia-dominated country, Iraq is a Shia-dominated country in a Sunni-dominated Muslim world. They’re about 10 to 15 percent of the Muslim world. So if this thing were to actually go completely to pot and to spill over, and it became a broader Middle East conflict, they are very much in the minority. And I can assure you they understand that. So we have leverage in dealing with Iraq. Similar leverage, leverage with Sunnis. They don’t want to see the refugees coming across their border—Syria, I’m sorry. They don’t want to see the refugees coming across their border; they’re Sunni not Shia. But they also have an interest in not seeing this thing go chaotic. But they will never participate in stabilizing the country as long as we are the occupying force there."

d. costs for universal health care: MR. RUSSERT: Universal health care, noble goal, but that’s 47 million more men, women and children. How much would that cost and what kind of plan would you propose?

SEN. EDWARDS: It’d cost between 90 and 120 billion a year once it’s—once it’s fully implemented. I will, on this show and tomorrow, be laying out details of a universal health care plan. Basically, we start with the problem, which are—we want to get—make sure that the 47 million people who don’t have health care coverage are covered immediately. Second, we want to do—deal with the costs that middle class families, who may have health care coverage but are worried about paying for it, worried about keeping it. Premiums are up 90 percent, literally 90 percent just over the last few years. So I want to do something to bring costs down for others. And we want to create some efficiencies that allow competition. And, and then finally—here, here’s the bottom line. We want to make sure everybody’s covered, we want to help middle class families with the costs, we want—we want to try to create competition that doesn’t exist today. And I think the best, most effective way to do that I—which is what my plan will be as I lay it out tomorrow, is we take the 46 million, 47 million people who don’t have health care coverage, we expand Medicaid, we provide subsidies for people who don’t have coverage. We ask employers to play a bigger role, which means they either have to have coverage, or they have to buy into what we’re calling health markets."

"... MR. RUSSERT: Would you be willing to raise taxes in order to help pay for this?

SEN. EDWARDS: Yes, we’ll have to raise taxes. The, the only way you can pay for a health care plan, from 90--that costs anywhere from $90 billion to $120 billion is there has to be a revenue source. The revenue source for paying for the plan that I’m proposing is, is first we get rid of George Bush’s tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year. This plan, in and of itself, creates some efficiencies and helps to reduce the cost of health care globally in America. And then, finally, we need to do a much better job of collecting the taxes that are—that are already owed. And a very specific example of something we should do, we should have brokerage houses report the capital gains that, that people are incurring, because we’re losing billions and billions of dollars in tax revenue, and billions and billions of dollars from capital gains not being reported.

MR. RUSSERT: But you’d be willing to increase taxes to provide health care?

SEN. EDWARDS: Yes, absolutely."

e. The Entitlement Programs: "Yes. Well, we have a huge challenge on this front. I think the starting place is Medicare, not Social Security, simply because Social Security is stronger, longer—significantly longer than Medicare. So let me, if I can, start with, with Medicare. You know, the, the—Medicare has very serious short-term, intense financial problems, and there—and there are things we can do that we’re not doing, which is—we ought to have much better chronic care management than we have today. We ought to be investing in a serious and systemic way in preventative care, which we’re not doing today. And we have significant fraud and abuse in the Medicare system. It’s—every study that’s been done demonstrates that. So I think there are things we can do to strengthen Medicare. And we ought to be using like, for example, in my universal health care plan, we create these health markets which require providers to, to compete against each other. We ought to be using the power of the federal government to negotiate better prices in Medicare. And it was a—it was a foolish thing, in the Medicare prescription drug law that was passed, which I voted against, to not allow the government to use its market power to negotiate better prices. And those are all things we can do that will help, help strengthen Medicare.

e. gay issues: MR. RUSSERT: It’s next up after Nevada. Gay marriage. You said this: “ It is [a hard issue] ... because I’m 53 years old. I grew up in a small town in the rural south. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church and so I have a belief system that arises from that. It’s part of who I am. I can’t make it disappear. ... I personally feel great conflict about that. I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. I think from my perspective it’s very easy for me to say, gay civil unions, yes, partnership benefits, yes, but it is something that I struggle with. Do I believe they should have the right to marry? I’m just not there yet.” Why not?

SEN. EDWARDS: I think it’s from my own personal culture and faith belief. And I think, if you had gone on in that same quote, that I, I have—I, I struggle myself with imposing my faiths—my faith belief. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, I was baptized in the Southern Baptist church, my dad was a deacon. In fact, I was there just a couple weeks ago to see my father get an award. It’s, it’s just part of who I am. And the question is whether I, as president of the United States, should impose on the United States of America my views on gay marriage because I know where it comes from. I’m aware of why I believe what I believe. And I think there is consensus around this idea of no discrimination, partnership benefits, civil unions. I think that, that certainly a president who’s willing to lead could lead the country in the right direction on that.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe you’re born gay?

SEN. EDWARDS: I, I, I think that—I, I, first of all, sexual—I’m not an expert on sexual orientation. I, I think that, that, there’s a real possibility that people are born gay, yes.

MR. RUSSERT: You don’t believe—do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?


MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that openly gay men and women should be able to serve in the military.


MR. RUSSERT: And you would do that as president?

SEN. EDWARDS: Absolutely.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Weekend Preview


1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
(a) Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) of the Armed Services Committee on the Democratic Senate's plans for the president's troop surge in Iraq. (b) Political Roundtable on the election 2008 campaign with Dan Ratz, Maureen Dowd, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Byron York. Host and moderator is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET):
Iraq, Iran, Baby Amilia, and the Obama/Clinton fight. (a) Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the Iraqi troop surge, the diplomatic steps the U.S. could take to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear enrichment program, and the timeline the president has to stabilize Iraq given the British withdrawal and the Democratic Party's efforts to push binding resolutions through Congress. (b) interviews with two of this country's influential state governors - Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas) on his decision to mandate HPV vaccines for cervical cancer and Governor Ed Rendell (D-Pennsylvania) on his plan to expand health insurance coverage in his state. (c) a report on the controversy surrounding Baby Amillia's premature birth at 21 weeks. Will it raise questions concerning fetal viability in the ongoing abortion debate? (d) FOX News Sunday Panel - Fred Barnes and William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams of NPR, and Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times on the Democratic Primary intraparty fight between Senators Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and the British timetable for withdrawal.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET): How the United States should respond to the new chemical weapons insurgents are using and the British withdrawal. Guests to include Iraqi National Security Advisor Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Representative Jane Harman (D-California) and Representative Duncan Hunter (R-California). Host and moderator is Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): (a) Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Iran and her recent trip to Iraq. (b) Former President Jimmy Carter on the Middle East and the 2008 race for the White House. (c) Roundtable discussion. (d) Voices - Patrick Dempsey on finding help when fighting cancer. Host and moderator is George Stephanopoulos.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET): Guests to include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California) and former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina).


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): (a) Clinton v. Obama: the trash talk's effect on the campaign. (b) Hillary Rodham Clinton's "mistake" causing tension. (c) why Senator John McCain is blasting the administration. (d)Iran - tension mounts as country does not back down in nuclear inspection standoff. Commentators are Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
(a) Courtroom Circus - the media and drama in Judge Larry's Courtroom during the Anna Nichol Smith burial dispute. (b) Hillary v. Obama - media picking sides? Commentators include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler, and moderator Eric Burns.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview of this show but anyone interested in watching this news analysis show can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time. Host and moderator is Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
(a) Obama v. Hillary: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton vulnerable? (b) a new Democratic Resolution on Iraq. (c) Roadmap to 2008: boom or bust? Commentators to include Norah O'Donnell of MSNBC, Dan Rather at HD Net, Michele Norris at NPR, Jim Cramer of NBC and host and moderator Chris Wallace.


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday at 5:00 PM ET): nothing posted yet. Anchorwoman is Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): nothing posted yet. Host and moderator is John Kasich.


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 9:00 PM ET): A John Stossel Special on fear. (a) Terrified of Terrorism - something to worry about but not too much? (b) Fear Junkies - those who actively search for danger. (c) The Surprising Risks of Playing Safe - the unintended consequences of safety measures. (d) Facing Fears - the people who worry about everything.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Caught In The Crossfire" - the case of Charla and Darren Mack. Couple divorce, Darren blames Charla for abuse and Chalra ends up deat in Darren's garage. Correspondent Troy Roberts reports.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
(a) Cover Story: Show Biz - Tracy Smith on celebrity business ventures. (b) Sunday Almanac - Hollywood policing itself. (c) The Movies - David Edelstein on the overlooked Oscars. (d) Japan - Iwo Jima plays Japan. (e) Fashion: Nam Kempner's Closet - Correspondent Rita Braver looks at the late socialite's art collection held at the Costume Institute for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (f) The Cable Guy: Keith Olbermann - Correspondent Susan Spencer profiles the host of a 1 hour nightly political and entertainment news show on MSNBC. (g) The Envelope Please - Jennifer Holliday. (h) Commentary: Mo Rocca on past Oscars. (i) Geist: So You Want To Have A Star: Bill Geist goes through the application process used to get a star on The Walk of Fame.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
(a) Dissension in The Ranks - Correspondent Lara Logan reports on the 1,000 members of the United States military publicly came out against the war in Iraq by signing a petition to Congress. (b) The Nazi Deception - Correspondent Bob Simon reports on the town the Nazis used to "prove" they were treating their Jews nicely. (c)Bill O'Reilly - Mike Wallace clashes with FOX News host and frontman Bill O'Reilly.

5. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
Inside the Legal Battle - was the legal battle over Anna Nichol Smith's remains turned into a media circus by the judge? Interview with Dan Abrams of MSNBC and Miami Defense Attorney Roy Black.

6. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 3:00 PM ET): MLK Papers: Words That Changed A Nation:" - the Wooddruff Library for Morehouse College releases to CNN Special Investigations Unit thousands of documents written and edited by Martin Luther King Jr, including his sermons, pencil edited statements. The Special Investigations Unit examines them and interviews the late civil rights activists' closest friends.


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): "Murder Book" - the publisher of a highly controversial book is found murdered. Detectives Ed Green and Nina Cassady investigate further to see if this was a random homicide or connected to her work. Guest stars Bobby Canavale. Regular stars include Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Detective Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET): Live with host Rainn Wilson from "The Office" and musical guest Arcade Fire.

3. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
"Stolen" - the team searches for a five-year old and the abductor after being tipped off by the kidnapper's 12-year-old son. Regular stars include Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Mariane Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

4. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Rampage" - the case of two teenagers who committed suicide after coRegular stars include Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scotty Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.

5. "79th Academy Awards" on ABC (Sunday at 8:00 PM ET):
The Oscars are hosted by Ellen Degeneres this year.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

School Harassment

No kidding.

The money quote:

"... a school district’s “first imperative must be to do no harm to the children in its care. A board of education must take reasonable measures to assure that the teachers and administrators who stand as surrogate parents during the day are educating, not endangering, and protecting, not exploiting, vulnerable children." - Supreme Court of New Jersey Chief Justice Zazzali.

This should be a no-brainer but for some reason many teachers, administrators, and parents are content to "let boys be boys" or "girls be girls" and repeatedly harass their weaker and more vulnerable peers. (School officials said they told first time offenders that such harassment was "inappropriate.") Note that in this case the harassment started in the 4rth grade and continued until the student left the public school distrtict in high school. His attackers were told that their bullying was "improper" and in some instances suspended. At what point does a student forfeit his or her right to a public education for repeatedly harassing classmates? The victim's mother followed up with school administrators. No, the harassers' behavior wasn't just "inappropriate." It was unacceptable. Toms Rive Regional District offered to pay for the victim's attendance at a private s school but the other students who forced him to leave stayed, and probably found a chance to pick on someone else.

In related news, Iowa's legislature is debating legislation expanding its school district's harassment protection to verbal and physical assaults on one's sexual orientation.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Iraq:: Future Exit For The British

Prime Minister Tony Blair (Labor-UK) had been one of the most eloquent and forceful supporters for the war in Iraq but tomorrow he he ie expected to lay out a plan for his troops' withdrawal from soutbern Iraq. Mr. Blair apparently will offer his country a timeline for the complete withdrawal of Britsh troops by 2008, which gives U.S. Presideng George W. Bush some time to test his stratey for winning the peace in Iraq.

His announcement may, however, be used by anti-war opponents to undermine the president's push for a troop surge. Mr. Blair's promise to gradually withdraw his country's troops from Iraq, anti-war opponents would assert, could negate any positive effect Mr. Bush hoped to gain through the troop surge. The clamor for a U.S. troop withdrawal will only intensify as British trroops withdraw and the civil strife continues.

Monday, February 19, 2007

They Are Not American

The PoliticalHeretic doesn't know what he finds more offensive - The New York Times' pro-amnesty position or its assertion that such illegal immigrants are American.

The illegal immigrants who momentarily "slipped out from the shadows of American life," are portrayed by The New York Times' editorial writers as the victims of this country's tough immigration rules. "Hopelessly fixated on toughness, the immigration debate has lost its balance, overlooking the humanity of the immigrant," The New York Times claims. "There is a starkly diminished understanding that hospitality for the stranger is part of the American ethos, and that as much as we claim to be a nation of immigrants, we have thwarted them at every turn."

They ultimately may want our elected officials in Washington, D.C. to repeal this country's immigration laws and let anyone who wanted to enter this country do so. We are somehow expected to act as a good samaritan for any and all who come from countries that cannot provide for their health needs.

But no state would be expected to do that since their resources are limited. The burden for any new immigrants who may enter the country would fall on residents who live there and pay the taxes raised to provide for their own services and well being. Public officials are entitled and expected to balance the wants, needs, and desires of those seeking entrance into and access to the privileges offered in any given state with the rights of those who already live there and pay into it.

Preference for access can and should be given to those seeking political asylum, refugees fleeing civil strife, family reunification, those who know our language and respect our democratic values and those who, because they have a rare skill or adequate money, wouldn't burden the typical American taxpayer. Consideration should only be accorded to those who respect this country's immigration laws and apply for such access through the normal legal process.

Western Europe's secular social democratic-oriented people have to contend with the radical and poor anti-assimulationist Muslim communities within their midst.Those Muslims do not respect Europe's pro-feminist, multicultural and secular values and may one day seek to overturn them. The United States, for its part, is struggling to preserve its entitlement programs that many believe will go broke if left unchanged.

The New York Times portrays the illegal immigrant's plight as a blight on our civil rights record, as if these people are entitled to civil rights protections granted to racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the United States.

"State, county and local officials," the editorial writers said, "have picked up where they left off last year, introducing bills to get tough on illegal immigrants. They cannot control federal policy, so they try other ways to punish those they see as unfit neighbors, to stifle their opportunities, extract money, expose them to legal jeopardy and otherwise inflict suffering, in the deluded hope that piling on miseries will make them disappear." Illegal immigrants, as The New York Times asserts with apparent disapproval, are viewed as "unfit neighbors," who may yet be treated as "one huge class of criminal suspects." It then unfairly links the concerns immigration restrictionists have with the Ku Klux Klan's hateful, "intolerant" rhetoric.

For the reasons stated above we don't owe these illegal immigrants anything save a trip to their legal residence. The United States didn't do anything to owe the illegal immigrants who came here.

We did not, as we did with the African Americans' descendents, buy them. tear them away from their home and families, and sell them to southern plantation owners. We did not sign treaties respecting their sovereignty and then forcibly remove them from their lands as we did to the Native Americans and we did not, as we did with certain religious minorities in this country, fail to live up to the Constitutional obligation to respect their right to exercise.

The illegal immigrants came here at their own volition, knowing full well they could be shipped back to the country of their origin if they were caught without a green card. They knew they could not get a steady job where proof of residency would be needed and they knew such jobs could be obtained if they applied for and were granted working visas, permament residence status, and eventually, citizenship.

Had they been granted working visas or permament reseidence, the illegal immigrants would be entitled to most if not all of the constitutional rights gvien to born and naturlized citizens alike. They would not, as The New YOrk Times claims, have their DNA collected and sotred in a national database. It says:

our Justice Department wants to expand routine DNA collection to include detained illegal immigrants, creating a vast new database that will sweep up hundreds of thousands of innocent people. DNA, far more than fingerprints, is a trove of deeply personal information. Its routine collection from law-abiding citizens is considered an outrageous violation of privacy rights. In the belief that illegal immigrants lack such rights, DNA swabs and blood would be collected even if a detainee is not suspected of a crime.

Except that these detainees, by self-definition are suspected of commiting a crime. They entered this country without our government's said permission. They broke the rules others who came here before them and those this country turned away did not. OUr leaders in Washington should look beyond the misguided and unbalanced editorial published in The New York Times. The illegal immigrants are not and should not be granted the right to call themselves American citizens.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Weekend Preview


1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
the Iraq War troop surge resolutions. (a) reaction from White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. (b) reaction from Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island). (c) Veteran correspondent Richard Engel returns from Iraq to give his insights. Host is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET): (a) Senator Carl Levin on the latest developments on the Iraq war resolutions and Representative John Murtha's (D-PA) binding resolution limiting troop deployments. (b)former House Speaker and prospective presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) on the U.S. intelligence pointing to Iranian involvement in Iraq and the effect the nonbinding anti-war resolutions will have on troops deployed in Iraq. (c) FOX News Sunday Panel - 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 talk about the possible breakthrough deal with North Korea. Host is Chris Wallace.

3. "CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET):
2008 Presidential elections - winning the west. Guests to include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Governor and presidential candidate Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico), White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, former Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R-Maryland), Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, and magician Penn Jillette. Host is Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET):
(a) "On The Trail" - former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on his chance to overcome doubts about his conservatism and Mormon faith to be the Republican nominee. (b) Roundtable Discussion - Katrina vanden Heuvel, George Will, and Fareed Zakaria. (c) Voices - Michael Douglas on teaching children to talk to each other.

5. "Face The Nation" (10:30 AM ET):
Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), Josephine Hearns of The Politico, and Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times on Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. Host is Bob Schieffer.


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): (a) the Democratic Party's "slow bleed" strategy. (b) Republican race for the White House - former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Senator John McCain in trouble? (c) Democratic Race for the White House - Senator Barack Obama and the press. (d) Russian President Vladimir Putin's outburst. Commntators are Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): (a) whether the North Korean deal helps the president deal with the press. (b)Mitt Romney - the media focus on his Mormon faith. Commentators include panelists Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler and moderator Eric Burns.

3. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview of this show but anyone interested in watching this news analysis show can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time. Howard Kurtz hosts this show.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):
President George W. Bush (a) President George W. Bush - what he can still accomplish in his last two years. (b) Iran - potential war with Iran. (c) 2008 race for the White House - George W. Bush's influence. Commentators to include Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, David Brooks of The New York Times, and Gloria Borger of CBS News, and US News & World Report.


1. "Big Story PrimeTime on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): check back later. Host is Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): Pre-empted. Host is John Kasich.


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): "Promises, Promises" - (a) Dr. Tim Johnson on Provilgil as a wonder drug that curbs excessive sleepiness as a wonder drug or empty promise. John Stossel and Frank Mastropolo on the fine print in the ads. (c) Samantha M. Wender on bargain hunting for designer bags - distinguishing the real things from the fake.

2. "48 Hours" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"The Biggest Gamble" - Correspondent Erin Moriarity goes through the videotapes that show Christie William leaving a California casino gambling with the man she left with before she disappeared.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
The Money Issue. (a) Marketing - Joie Chen reports on the businesses that survive only becauses they deliver on the "new and improved." (b) Design - Serena Altschul talks to those who are involved in making our money down to the first sketches. (c) Gold. (d) Japan: Robots. (e) Second Life: David Pogue looks at the online university classrooms, online shopping and the internet in general. (f) Entrepreneurs - Anthony Mason profiles Robert Sillerman. (g) Advertising - GEICO. (h)Merchandising - Department Stores. (i) People - Rita Braver profiles the man behind CNBC's "Mad Money." (j)The Good Life - Zen retreat. (k) The Millionaire - Anthony Mason compares what millionaires could buy now to that which they got 50 years ago. (l) Cashless Society - Allen Pizzey looks into what heads of state do when they need fast cash. (m) Opinion - Ben Stein. (n)Bill Geist - the provocative tactics used to sell coffee in Seattle. (o) Nature - buffaloes in the snow.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
(a) Correspondent Bob Simon profiles Kurdistan, the pro-American and relatively stable part of Iraq that seeks to go its own way. (b) Diagnosis - Autism: Correspondent Leslie Stahl talks to the researchers looking for the earliest signs of the disease. (c) Hillbilly Rock Star - Anderson Cooper reports on Kevin Chesney.

5. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 8:00 PM):
the Milkshake Murders - two brothers who die of which one's death is a mystery.

6. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 3:00 PM ET):
- How to Rob a Bank


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Melting Pot" - a successful actress and mother is found hanging dead in her New York City apartment and Detectives Ed Green and Nina Cassidy are determined to prove this was not self-inflicted. Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, Milena Govich as Detective Nina Cassidy, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.

2. "Saturday Night Live" on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET):
Justim Timberlake as host and musical guest.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
Lilly and the cold case squad re-open a 1981 case involving the murder of a Yuppie couple after an accidental fire is found to be caused by a bomb. Regular stars include Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scotty Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.

4. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET): a water plant foreman disappears hours after his life is threatened by a long-time employee he laid off.Regular stars include Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Mariane Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgado.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


1. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. forces hunting down militant networks that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and that some of the material used in the devices were made in Iran.

“That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this,” Pace told reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. “What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers.”
- from an MSNBC report issued earlier this week

Is there any reason why President George W. Bush would think the American public would trust in his judgment or his assessment as to what the facts are?

2. "We don't know . . . whether the head leaders of Iran ordered" it.

"But here's my point," he added. "Either they knew or didn't know, and what matters is, is that [the weapons] they're there."
another MSNBC report

Yeah right. It's that simple. The fact that the weapons are in Iraq is enough to determine how we should respond to Iran and the extent of the Iranian government's knowledge should have no bearing on how we should respond to it.

That's what Mr.Bush would have us believe anyway.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Joint Statement: Six-Party Talks on North Korea Disarmament (February 13, 2007)

Envoys from the United States, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea said they reached an agreement on the "initial" steps for North Korea's denuclearization. According to the joint statement released yesterday, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) agreed to freeze and "seal" the Yongbyon nuclear reactor it had already agreed to shut down in 1994 as a part of its agreement with the Clinton administration, reinvite IAEA inspectors to "conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications as agreed to between the IAEA and the DPRK" and "discuss with other parties a list of all its nuclear programs" within the next sixty days.

In return, the UDRPK's neighbors and the United States promised to supply it with 50,000 tons of heavy fuel. The United States and Japan would also agree to bilateral talks aimed at resolving their political disputes with North Korea as well.

The six parties would negotiate over the remaining 950,000 of the promised 1,000,000 tons of heavy fuel promise, the complete declaration of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, and the "disablement" of its remaining nuclear facilities, in a second round of talks.

State Department officials say this agreement is an important diplomatic breakthrough. "The six parties have now taken a promising step in the right direction, ... ... towards a broad and comprehensive effort not only to denuclearization the Korean Peninsula," Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said. Christopher R. Hill. the assistant Secretary of State, said "it is an excellent draft."

The agreement reached this week is not the important diplomatic "breakthrough" or "excellent draft" portrayed by our State Department, for it made little headway in getting the DPRK to move beyond the flawed agreement it made with former President Bill Clinton. U.S. negotiators extracted two specific and consequently undeniable concessions from the North Koreans - a commitment to "seal" the Yonbyon nuclear reactor and a promise to let the IAEA inspectors verify compliance - but these were already conceded in 1994 and their promise to "seal" the Yongbyon reactor would be rendered meaningless if the North Koreans could "unseal" it when negotiations stall. Nothing in the agreement requires Pyongyang to permanently shut the facility down so the North Koreans are free to sell it for a higher price later.

DRPK officials have balked and suspended their participation in six party talks before and until recently with impunity. Dr. Rice says the U.S. and the DPRK's neighbors will force North Korea into compliance but history is not on her side. South Koreaan, Russian, and Chinese officials blocked every American and Japanese effort to push for tight, regime-crippling economic sanctions.

North Korean compliance in suspending the nuclear program at the Yongbyon reactor, as we later found out, did little to hinder its efforts at acquiring nuclear weapons. Last year, the DPRK conducted nuclear tests in a sparsely settled mountainous region near its border with Russia. U.S. officials referred to theese tests as "an act of provocation" and referred the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

DPRK officials have committed themselves to a "complete declaration of all nuclear programs" and the "disablement of all existing nuclear facilities." In exchange, the other parties will provide North Korea an equivalent of up to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil. Readers should not think the six parties have settled on a quid pro quo, for the North Koreans only agreed to "discuss with other parties a list of all its nuclear programs as described in the Joint Statement."

The DPRK was not as of yet required to account for its nuclear program. Its negotiators may insist upon a larger share of the "up to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil" before it fully discloses its nuclear program. State Department negotiators may do their best to block those efforts but there is no guarantee that Chines, South Korean, and Japanese negotiators would back them during those negotiations.

North Korean officials could always take a payment, withdraw from the six party talks when negotiations stall, and re-open its nuclear faciltiies (or at minimum continue the remaining undisclosed nuclear programs), knowing full well it could return to the talks once their latest "emergency relief" funds run out.

Some Democrats are now chastising President George W. Bush for signing onto this agreement that he could have struck years ago. They are right, for DPRK officials had no reason to reject it. Had the State Department extracted from the North Koreans a promise for the full accounting of its weapons up front and a promise for IAEA inspections up front with an agreed upon timetable for a fuel oil/nuclear disarmament exchange this might have been a good deal and the administration should not have signed the United States onto this joint agreement for the State Department gained nothing from this deal. At minimum, our negotiators should have waited until the North Koreans promised to "dismantle" and not just "seal" the Yongbyon facility.

Joint Statement: Six-Party Talks on North Korea Disarmament (February 13, 2007)

Pasted below is the Six Party Talk Joint Statement posted from The Washington Post yesterday.

I. The Parties held serious and productive discussions on the actions each party will take in the initial phase for the implementation of the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005. The Parties reaffirmed their common goal and will to achieve early denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and reiterated that they would earnestly fulfill their commitments in the Joint Statement. The Parties agreed to take coordinated steps to implement the Joint Statement in a phased manner in line with the principle of "action for action".

II. The Parties agreed to take the following actions in parallel in the initial phase:

1. The DPRK will shut down and seal for the purpose of eventual abandonment the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility and invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications as agreed between IAEA and the DPRK.

2. The DPRK will discuss with other parties a list of all its nuclear programs as described in the Joint Statement, including plutonium extracted from used fuel rods, that would be abandoned pursuant to the Joint Statement.

3. The DPRK and the US will start bilateral talks aimed at resolving pending bilateral issues and moving toward full diplomatic relations. The US will begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism and advance the process of terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to the DPRK.

4. The DPRK and Japan will start bilateral talks aimed at taking steps to normalize their relations in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration, on the basis of the settlement of unfortunate past and the outstanding issues of concern.

5. Recalling Section 1 and 3 of the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005, the Parties agreed to cooperate in economic, energy and humanitarian assistance to the DPRK. In this regard, the Parties agreed to the provision of emergency energy assistance to the DPRK in the initial phase. The initial shipment of emergency energy assistance equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO) will commence within next 60 days.

The Parties agreed that the above-mentioned initial actions will be implemented within next 60 days and that they will take coordinated steps toward this goal.

III. The Parties agreed on the establishment of the following Working Groups (WG) in order to carry out the initial actions and for the purpose of full implementation of the Joint Statement

1. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

2. Normalization of DPRK-US relations

3. Normalization of DPRK-Japan relations

4. Economy and Energy Cooperation

5. Northeast Asia Peace and Security Mechanism

The WGs will discuss and formulate specific plans for the implementation of the Joint Statement in their respective areas. The WGs shall report to the Six-Party Heads of Delegation Meeting on the progress of their work. In principle, progress in one WG shall not affect progress in other WGs. Plans made by the five WGs will be implemented as a whole in a coordinated manner.

The Parties agreed that all WGs will meet within next 30 days.

IV. During the period of the Initial Actions phase and the next phase - which includes provision by the DPRK of a complete declaration of all nuclear programs and disablement of all existing nuclear facilities, including graphite-moderated reactors and reprocessing plant - economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO), including the initial shipment equivalent to 50,000 tons of HFO, will be provided to the DPRK.

The detailed modalities of the said assistance will be determined through consultations and appropriate assessments in the Working Group on Economic and Energy Cooperation.

V. Once the initial actions are implemented, the Six Parties will promptly hold a ministerial meeting to confirm implementation of the Joint Statement and explore ways and means for promoting security cooperation in Northeast Asia.

VI. The Parties reaffirmed that they will take positive steps to increase mutual trust, and will make joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia. The directly related parties will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum.

VII. The Parties agreed to hold the Sixth Round of the Six-Party Talks on 19 March 2007 to hear reports of WGs and discuss on actions for the next phase.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Question for the Democrats

"If I were running for the presidency, I might call my position "a mistake" and bray about being misled. But it was really a lapse in judgment. For reasons extraneous to this particular column, I thought the war would do wonders for the Middle East and that it would last, at the most, a week or two. In this I was assured by the usual experts in and out of government. My head nodded like one of those little toy dogs in the window of the car ahead of you.

So I do not condemn Clinton and other Democratic presidential candidates -- Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and John Edwards -- for voting for the war because I would have done the same. I fault them, though, for passing the blame to Bush as the guy who misled them. They all had sufficient knowledge to question the administration's arguments, and they did not do so. Not a single one of them, for instance, could possibly have believed the entirety of the administration's case or not have suspected that the reasons for war were being hyped. If they felt otherwise, they have no business running for president."
- liberal columnist Richard Cohen in The Washington Post.

and the question he would Senator Clinton?

"Too often when a candidate throws his hat into the ring, he tosses principle out the window. Yet this is precisely what we want in a president -- principles and the courage to stick to them. Instead of Clinton saying she had been misled by Bush and his merry band of fibbers, exaggerators and hallucinators, I'd like to hear an explanation of how she thinks she went wrong and what she learned from it. I don't want to know how Bush failed her. I want to know how she failed her country."

Don't wait for the answer Mr. Cohen.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hillary's Repositioning Problem

Pro-war social democrat Christopher Hitchens reminds us why Senator Hillary Clinton cannot blame President George W. Bush for faulty intelligence without including herself.

Some Delusional Thinking

"She's not gonna need it," said Warren, a 30-year-old land surveyor from Rescue, Calif., about 28 miles from Sacramento. "I'm a good parent. I tell her what's right and wrong." - Mr. George Warren quoted in this excerpt from The Los Angeles Times article on a bill in California's legislature that would mandate HPV vaccinations to protect them from cervical cancer

and we know children who "know" (whatever that means) "what's right and wrong" (whatever that is) will always opt for the former when given the choice.

Some Delusional Thinking

"She's not gonna need it," said Warren, a 30-year-old land surveyor from Rescue, Calif., about 28 miles from Sacramento. "I'm a good parent. I tell her what's right and wrong." - Mr. George Warren quoted in this excerpt from The Los Angeles Times article on a bill in California's legislature that would mandate HPV vaccinations to protect them from cervical cancer

and we know children who "know" (whatever that means) "what's right and wrong" (whatever that is) will always opt for the former when given the choice.

War Resolutions

"I call it the status quo resolution. It basically says 'Don't do something' without saying what we should do." - Representative Chris Shays (R-Connecticut), describing the nonbinding resolution that will be voted on within the House of Representatives this week. Mr. Shays, once backed the president and supported this war but turned against it before November's elections.

But Shay and his colleagues in the Republican Party are right. The Democratic Party has offered no alternative to get us out of this war because its members either have one or lack the courage to propose the one they might be thinking of. The Senate and the House of Representatives can assert their authority and end this war, just as it could have asserted its authority to start or reject it. Skeptical Democratic and Republican legislators in both houses could, if they wanted to , push through legislation gutting the funding necessary to continue the war while passing a resolution withdrawing its support for the war.

Our Senators and Representatives won't do that yet however. They don't want the Bush administration blaming them for the massive slaughter that could follow once the last American troops leave Iraq nor do they want the blame for losing this war (one war, the Vietnam War, is more than enough for them).

Democrats won both houses in large part by running against this war. The time has come to put up or shut up. Force this obviously clueless president who has no idea how to extricate our forces from Iraq or win this war, to alter his strategy for winning this war (like Senator Biden) or bring the troops home. Passing meaningless nonbinding resolutions do nothing for the troops going back to their second and third tours of duty in Iraq. They don't save Iraq from its descent into a bloodier civil war or from Iran's growing influence and they don't save the taxpayers the money squandered on what the Democrats now believe to be an unwinnable war.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

National Intelligence Estimate

The latest National Intelligence Estimate offers the American public nothing new since it largely summarizes findings published by the Iraq Study Group without dwelving into the details that are found in that report which was released after the Democratic Party retook the House of Representatives and the Senate.

President George W. Bush's supporters will use the National Intelligence Estimate (PDF File) to support their claim that we cannot leave because doing so may force Iraq's neighbors into Iraq's civil war.

A more comprehensive analysis is offered by the Department of Defense (warning - PDF format)

Intriguing Philosophical Debate

BeliefNet is carrying an online debate about religion between Andrew Sullivan, a gay nonconforming Roman Catholic and Sam Harris, an atheist. Mr. Harris believes people who otherwise might be intelligent inevitably suspend reason by clinging to unproven and in some cases disproven religious assertions. Mr. Sullivan does not find logic and religious faith incompatible. He believes the former could inform and strengthen it. Though his viewpoint is not popular, Mr. Harris so far offers the stronger of the two argments but then maybe my bias is getting in the way and Mr. Sullivan's personalization of it (the "I's and one rant entry can get annoying) may be contributing to that. By all means read the whole dialogue, which starts here.

"The problem, as I see it, is that moderates don’t tend to know what it is like to be truly convinced that death is an illusion and that an eternity of happiness awaits the faithful beyond the grave. They have, as you say, “integrated doubt” into their faith. Another way of putting it is that they have less faith—and for good reason. The result, however, is that your fellow moderates tend to doubt that anybody ever really is motivated to sacrifice his life, or the lives of others, on the basis his heartfelt religious beliefs. Moderate doubt—which I agree is an improvement over fundamentalist certitude in most respects—often blinds its host to the reality and consequences of full-tilt religious lunacy. Such blindness is now particularly unhelpful, given the hideous collision with Islamic certainty that is unfolding all around us.

Second, many religious moderates imagine, as you do, that there is some clear line of separation between extremist and moderate religion. But there isn't. Scripture itself remains a perpetual engine of extremism: because, while He may be many things, the God of the Bible and the Qur'an is not a moderate. Read scripture more closely and you do not find reasons for religious moderation; you find reasons to live like a proper religious maniac—to fear the fires of hell, to despise nonbelievers, to persecute homosexuals, etc. Of course, one can cherry-pick scripture and find reasons to love one's neighbor and turn the other cheek, but the truth is, the pickings are pretty slim, and the more fully one grants credence to these books, the more fully one will be committed to the view that infidels, heretics, and apostates are destined to be ground up in God’s loving machinery of justice.

"How does one “integrate doubt” into one’s faith? By acknowledging just how dubious many of the claims of scripture are, and thereafter reading it selectively, bowdlerizing it if need be, and allowing its assertions about reality to be continually trumped by fresh insights—scientific (“You mean the world isn’t 6000 years old? Yikes…”), mathematical (“pi doesn’t actually equal 3? All right, so what?”), and moral (“You mean, I shouldn’t beat my slaves? I can’t even keep slaves? Hmm…”). Religious moderation is the result of not taking scripture all that seriously. So why not take these books less seriously still? Why not admit that they are just books, written by fallible human beings like ourselves?"
- Sam Harris, am atheist, debating Andrew Sullivan at

"So you allow for a space where the logic of science and of materialism does not lead us toward truth, but may even mislead us about it, and lead us away from it. This is a big concession, and it undermines the certainty of your entire case. Such an argument must rest on a notion of ultimate truth that is deeper than science, beyond science. It must rest on a notion that allows for the rational legitimacy of my faith.

It might even include an appreciation of other modes of rational discourse that are not empirical in origin or form. Take, for example, the question of historical truth. You rely in your books on a lot of historical facts to buttress your empirical case. But these facts are not true - and could never be proven true - by the scientific method that is your benchmark. There are no control groups in history. There are no experiments. But there is a form of truth. Discovering that historical truth is the vocation of a historian - and it is a different truth than science, and reached by a different methodology and logic.

Similarly, mathematics can achieve a proof that has no interaction with the physical world. It may even be the closest to divine truth that human beings can achieve. But it is still logically separate from empirically verified truth, from historical truth, and even from the realm of human consciousness that includes aesthetic truth, the truths we find in contemplation of art or of nature.

My point here is to say that once you have conceded the possibility of a truth that is not reducible to empirical proof, you have allowed for the validity of religious faith as a form of legitimate truth-seeking in a different mode."
- Andrew Sullivan, a nonconforming Roman Catholic, defending moderate faith on BeliefNet.

The debate will continue. Mr. Harris promises a response next week after giving Mr. Sullivan's last post some more thought. One point before Mr. Harris responds - what Mr. Andrew Sullivan inaccurately attributes religious belief to philosophical inquiry.