Saturday, March 31, 2007

Just Some Iran-Britain Updates

Some of the latest developments in the British-Iranian standoff.

and of most interest, here.

But especially this one.

The money quote from the last link:

"What is now becoming clear is that the taking of the hostages was planned well in advance by members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps who used the ongoing new year holiday in Iran and the absence of their rivals to go into action. 'Striking at Britain is a good way of winning big Brownie points, both at home and with the Arab constituency more broadly in the region,' said Dr Ali Ansari, of St Andrew's University, a respected Iran expert.

It is likely that the Revolutionary Guards are holding the hostages, suggesting their release will be the result of negotiation among players within the Iranian state as much as externally. The minister Beckett has been talking to may not even know of the hostages' location."

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY POLITICAL INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
attorney firings, the budget and the war in Iraq. (a) Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on the US Attorney firings and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez' future. (b) House Chairman of the Ways and Means Charles Rangel (D-New York) on the budget, potential tax increases, a showdown with the president over the war in Iraq, and his new book. Host is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET):
(a) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and White House candidate Joe Biden (D-Delaware) on the US Attorney firings and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez' future. (b) FOX News Sunday Panelists Brit Hume of FOX News, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio will talk about the latest news in the 2008 race for the White House. (c) Power Player of The Week - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin. Host is Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" (11:00 AM ET): showdown over Iraq and the upcoming 2008 presidential elections. Guests to include Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), former presidential candidate Reverend Al Sharpton (D-New York), David Ignatious of The Washington Post, CNN correspondent Michael Ware, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, CNN Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield, and CNN correspondent Joe Johns. Hosted by Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET):
the US attorney firings, the war in Iraq, and a presidential candidate.(a) Headliners - Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) of the Senate Judiciary Committee and White House counselor Dan Bartlett on the US attorney firing controversy. (b) former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Wisconsin Governor, and current presidential candidate Tommy Thompson (R-Wisconsin) on the state of healthcare in the United States, the Iraq War, and his presidential ambitions. (c) Roundtable - Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, ABC News' chief Washington correspondent Martha Raddatz and syndicated columnist George Will on this week's politics. (d) Voices - Baltimore Orioles shortsop Cal Ripken Jr on his new book and the life lessons he learned while playing baseball. Hosted by George Stephanopoulos.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET):
the US Attorneys firing controversy and the Iraq War funding vote. Guests to include Senator and Vice Chair of the Democratic Conference Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bob Schieffer hosts.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): investigations and cancer. (a) Showdown - Democrats out for blood. (b) White House spokesman Tony Snow vows to fight cancer. Commentators are Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
coverage on the British captives and cancer announcments. (a) the standoff between Iran and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - are the media playing into Iran's hands? (b) Cancer in the News - how the media handled Elizabeth Edwards' and Tony Snow's public announcements. Panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Neil Gabler, Jane Hall, 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 it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts which are offered on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is moderated by Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Iraq War showdown and 2008 presidential elections. (a) Political Showdown over Iraq War Funding - whether George W. Bush or the Democratic-controlled Congress will come out on top. (b) US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez fall out - whether his failings and the US attorney firing controvery in particular will hurt the Republican presidential candidates in 2008. Commentators will include columnist Joe Klein of Time Magazine, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, Senior Editor Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs Correspondent Janine Zacharia of Bloomberg News and host Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND NEWS PROGRAMS

1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): not posted yet. Check back later. Anchored by Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland w John Kasich" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
not posted yet. Check back later. Hosted by John Kasich.

IV. FEAUTRE WEEKEND NEWS PROGRAMS


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): (a) Barbara Walters Special - former New York City Mayor and presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York) and his third wife, Judith Nathan, sit down with Barbara Walters to discuss her involvement in his political decisions. (b) Pharmacy's filling out Prescriptions - Brian Ross looks at the pharmacys letting high school students with no training dispense your prescription drugs. (c) Tragic Pharmacy Mistakes - Brian Ross reports on the case of Alexandra Gehrke. (d) Tyrone Brown's homecoming - the robber who was sentenced to life in prison after violating probation for smoking a joint, is released.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"The Ghost of David Coffin" - a rich young businessman (David Coffin) is murdered and almost all of the evidence destroyed. The suspected killer would run for Governor of California. Report by Maureen Maher.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET): (a) Cover Story - A Shot in The Arm: Martha Teichner reports on the benfits, risks and controversies surrounding vaccines. (b) Almanac - smoking ad ban. (c) Cartoons - New York cartoonist Roz Chast. (d) Movies - David Edelstein on Will Ferris' movies. (e) History - Clifford Irving and Richard Gere: Erin Moriarty talks to Richard Gere about his role playing Clifford in "The Hoax." (f) On Broadway - "Jersey Boys". (g) Opinion - Mo Rocca on presidential candidates. (h) Ender - Stave Puzzles.
4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): (a) "Under The Influence" - Representative Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) sits down with Steve Kroft to talk about the pharmaceutical lobby's successful attempt to pass the prescription drug bill. (b) "A Not So Perfect Match" - Leslie Sthahl on the investigations into family members when the DNA evidence leads law enforcement to believe that a family member and not their suspect committed the crime. (c) "The Age of Warming" - Scott Pelley visits a glacier that is melting in Antarctica. (d) Commentary - Andy Rooney

5. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET): "The War Within" - Christiane Amanpour on the fight for young British Muslim's minds.


6. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET): Edie Magus reports on the escaped convict who was caught with the deputy warden's wife after spending more than a decade on the run.

7. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
(a) Dennis Murphy sits down with the widow who was once treated as a murder suspect after dating a new man soon after her husband died. (b) "Thief of Hearts" - Keith Morrison reports on a con artist and the women he used.
V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): an arson turns into a homicide investigation after autopsy reveals victim was murdered before the fire was started.
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): Rainn Wilson of The Office, guest hosts with musical guest Arcade Fire.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET): "Stand Up And Holler" - Cold Case Squad enters the world of high school cheerleading after an anonymous confession to a 1997 murder of a 16-year old girl is found in a modern art exhibit. 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.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Supplemental Funding Bill: A Way Forward

President George W. Bush will veto the supplemental emergency bill because it in no small part orders the president to withdraw American troops from Iraq by a set date. Mr. Bush and his advisors believe any set timetable for a US troop withdrawal will bolster the enemy (more like enemies) now vying for power in Baghdad and Iraq in general.

They offer a plausible argument. Mr. Bush's troop surge may be working. Prime Minister Maliki's government now backs our effort to go after terrorists from all factions and Moqtada al-Sadr's militia is holding back. A precipitious timetable for a US troop withdrawal, however, might set our efforts back. Iraq's political factions, they note, might choose to wait us out and use the limited time that we are still in Iraq to bolster their forces for the time we are gone and they vie for power.

House and Senate Democrats offer an equally plausible rationale for their support of a troop withdrawal. Mr. Bush grossly mismanaged a war that now, four years since it began, appears unwinnable. Iraq is rife with sectarian violence. The lull in sectarian violence is due to a shift in strategy. Shia militias, fearing outright confrontation with American forces, have decided to wait us out. They believe no American forces could solve this political feud so it makes sense, from their standpoint to set a timetable for a withdrawal.

Presidebt Bush can (and in this political writer's opinion, should) veto any bill containing a timetable for an American troop withdrawal. While no American troops this country is ready to commit will help us win the war in Iraq their presence may be enought to fight to a draw. We may not be able to win Iraq but we can save it.

The Democrats can but probably should not press Mr. Bush to withdraw American troops jsut yet. They do no have the votes to override the president's veto. Time might prove them right. The public's impatience with Mr. Bush's war strategy will grow if the president fails to stabilize Iraq.

The House Democrats' emergency supplemental legislation can offer Congress and the president away out of the impasse. Congress can and probably should, press Mr. Bush to offer a progress report on the Iraq government's progress on a national reconciliation package. Should the pesident fail in his efforts to stabilize Iraq or should Iraq's coalition government fail to implement the national reconciliation reforms proposed by the Iraq Study Group among other groups by August they can renew their push for a withdrawal.

They have already laid the groundwork by setting the conditions for our continued commitment to Iraq - Iraq's efforts to implement a hydrocarbon law, demilitarize Iraq's militias, and set a firm date on provincial elections for starters. Should the national government implement a new hydrocarbon law or pass constitutional reforms designed to win moderate Sunni support or begin the process for disarming Shia militias, the Democrats could suspend their campaign for a US troop withdrawal and reward Iraq's national coalition government with a renewed commtiment to Iraq's stability.

For his part, the president should reach out to Congressional Democrats and submit to them and to the American public monthly briefings outlining Iraq's progress to implement reform. He should pressure Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to enact a national reconciliation reform package that includes some if not all of the listed provisions. Mr. Bush should know his time for salvaging Iraq is short. His successor may not have the commitment to see this process through and sign onto a precipitious timetable for a withdrawal. By reaching out to Congress the president might regain the public support he squandered in the last four years.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Election News

Former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney may have some trouble courting the anti-tax increase Republican base.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Supplemental Funding Bill: Earmarks

The bill House Democrats narrowly passed last week includes a number of provisions that have nothing to do with the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Senators should remove these provisions before the bill reaches President George W. Bush's desk for his threatened veto.

Included in HR 1591 are subisides for milk ($283 million), peanut storage ($74 million), spinach handlers and growers ($25 million), farmland restoration ($20 million), aquaculture ($5 million), hurricane-damaged livestock aid ($15 million), and unknown amounts (but "as needed") to crop producers and the livestock industry.

The House also voted to appropriate $120 million to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration for shrimp/mehaden fish studies, and $60.4 million to the National Marines Fishery for distribution to Indian tribes, fishing communities, and small businesses associated with the fishing industry.

These measures were added to help the particular businesses recoup losses they incurred following droughts, natural diasters, or public health scares. The $25 million spinach subsidy, for instance, was added to help spinach handlers and growers to recoup losses suffered when their product was contaminated by E. Coli. while the $5 million (actually $65,400,000 if we include the authorized Commerce Department handout) aquaculture subsidy was given to compensate for the economic losses sustained as a result of an October 24, 2006 Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service prohibiting the importation of specified Canadian fish.

None of these "compensation" packages are justified. The spinach and aquaculture industries should not be rewarded with taxpayer funded handouts when the government orders them to halt the sales of their potentially harmful products. Money given to those who failed to protect the public from their products should be put towards a stronger inspection regime so that public health hazards like these do not come up in the future.

In general, Congress should not subsidize agribusiness owners and their employees when they have a bad year. Crop growers know they are at the mercy of the weather before they entered the business. Florida's citrus producers, for example, know a hurricane could destroy their crops, and cut into their profits. Some businesses will thrive while other businesses would not. No taxpayer would expect the government to bale an unsuccessful restaurant or retail store out if it failed to make a profit.

The House also set aside $500 million for Wild land Fire Management. The House Democrats would not at this moment know what it wild flire management it would need to budget for since they (and nobody for that matter) could reliably predict the cost and start of the next wild land fire. The House should have put this in escrow for wherever there was a budget shortfall. The scare from the avian flu has subsided for now.

Particularly egregious are the House set asides purportedly added to combat a future avian flu pandemic. House Democrats appropriated $13,193,000 (divided among three Department of Interior agencies) for the targeted surveillance of wildlife birds for the avian flu and $969,650,000 towards the development and purchase of anti-avian flu vaccines, anti-virals, necessary medical supplies, diagnostics and other surveillance tools.

Avian flu research can be justified for public health reasons but the bulk of the $900 million + seat Department of Health and Human Services set aside can be spent on the construction of privately owned facilities that would be used for such research.

Democrats rode into power as the fiscally conservative party. They were going to outconservative the Republicans. In this emergency supplemental, however, the House Democrats showed they have no problem squandering tax payer money to help lucrative businesses.

If the Senate refuses to strip these earmarks from the bill, President Bush should follow through on this promise to veto this bill.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Supplemental Funding Bill: Iraq War Restrictions

Three months after they took power on Capitol Hill, House Democrats narrowly psased a bill setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. While the bill has no chance of surviving President George W. Bush's threatened veto, its supporters could use the crafted bill (or maybe the relevant part) to make their case against an open-ended commitment.

HR 1591
imposes restrictions on military operations conducted within Iraq until March 8, 2008 - the latest in which the president and the Department of Defense would have to win the war in Iraq before they must begin to withdraw Amerian troops from Iraq.

Two restrictions obstensibly would protect American units combating fatigue in Iraq. Military units would have to certify that they are "fully mission capable" fifteen days before they are deployed to Iraq. The second obstensibly protects the troops from unlimited extensions to their tour of duty. Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard personnel could not have their tour of duty extended beyond 365 days while Marine Corp, and Marine Corp Reserve couldn't have theirs extended beyond 210 days.

In his press conference yesterday, President Bush defiantly promised a veto should the Senate pass it and accused the Democrats of engaging in "an act of political theater." The Democrats, he said:

"...voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq. They set rigid restrictions that will require an army of lawyers to interpret. They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal without regard for conditions on the ground. And they tacked on billions for pet projects that have nothing to do with winning the war on terror. This bill has too much pork, too many conditions and an artificial timetable for withdrawal."


His accusations do have some merit. The military restrictions crafted obstensibly to protect ill-equipped, underprepared, and war-weary American troops from egregious extensions in their tours of duty do no such thing. The troop withdrawal provision would come before the 365 day extension limit expires and a provision in the bill preserving the status quo in troop deployment until January 27 renders the 210 day extension obsolete. President Bush could also switch troops fighting in the Afghan theater of operations to Iraq and vice versa without providing the troops any respite because these restrictions apply to the war in Iraq alone. (Troops serving in South Korea, Europe, or Afghanistan were offered no such protection to come home).

With all due respect, the other accusations (save for the pet project part which will be dealt with tomorrow or Monday) fall through. Mr. Bush, no less so than the Democrats who voted for this bill, have "voted to substitute their judgment for that of the military commanders on the ground in Iraq." He replaced General William Casey Jr. with General David Petraeus earlier this year after he all but came out against a troop surge.

The Democrats in the House know we are losing the peace for Iraq and, rightly or wrongly, have set an arbitrary date for us to, as they would put it, "cut our losses" before we squander our combat readiness needed in future military operations across the globe. Their bill includes two separate deadlines, one which would be implemented if the Iraqi National Government successfully meets the political benchmarks we would impose upon it and one that would be implemented sooner if it refuses to step up to the plate. The president is required to submit two reports - one by the end of July and one by the end of October.

If the Iraqi Government commits a substantial and uncompromised Iraqi Security Forces deemed necessary to stabilize Iraq, if it gives that force the Americans the full authority to go after Shia and Sunni terrorists, if it makes headway in crafting an oil revenue distribution law and if it establishes a militia demilitarization plan the troops would stay longer.

Mr. Bush would then have to submit a new report in October certifying Iraq's success or lackthereof of meeting the other benchmarks. If the Iraqi National Government meets those benchmarks, the withdrawal would begin in March but its failure to meet them would lead to an immediate 180 day withdrawal.

The president had four years to stabilize Iraq and the Democrats, noting his failure to do so, used their constitutional powers to question his war strategy. Mr. Bush could, and probably should veto this bill if for no other reason than to reject the pork that was attached to it and because the House overstepped its authority by regulating how troops are deployed to Iraq.

But he is running out of time. He can no longer say with any credibility that Democrats have not given him and the troops figting under him "a chance to succeed" or a "chance to win." They had it four years ago. Mr. Bush had one more chance to win his lost credibility back by proposing a new strategy. This strategy could have included a modest troop escalation combined with political negotiations or a massive one designed to suppress the Baathist insurrectionists, al-Qaeda terrorists, and Shia militias now denying Iraq's hapless and complacent citizens the peace they seek.

He did not, and so long as he does not provide the American people with a plausible, let alone rational basis for any hope for change in direction, the Democrats could legitimately use the benchmarks used in this legislation as its guide to decide when our troops ought to leave.

Transgendered Person Fired

A smaller number spoke in favor of firing him, including one man who said Mr. Stanton had made Largo “the laughingstock of the whole country. - an excerpt from this story concerning a city manager fired because he wants a sex change.

And what does his transgendered nature have to do with his management skills? No. Mr. Staonton did not make Larog "the laughingstock of the whole community" - the ones firing him did that all by themselves.

Gay Marriage v. Adopting a Partner

The New York Times editorial board's argument can be refuted easily by noting that civil union laws are crafted so that gays do not have to resort to the ingenuitive schemes like the one implemented by Thomas Watson Sr. and Patricia Ann Spado. Gay couples in New Jersey are specifically granted every right straight couples take for granted save the right to have their relationships recognized as "marriages." The writers at The New York Times should do the gay rights advocates a favor and either (a) use the logic they employed correctly to address gay couple recognition in particular and not marriage per se or (b) refer to the logic used to extend marital protection to gays in Massachussetts.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Key Troop Limit Provisions

The following is taken from the House funding bill which President George W. Bush promised to veto:

SEC. 1901. (a) Congress finds that it is Defense Department policy that units should not be deployed for combat unless they are rated `fully mission capable'.

(b) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be used to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the chief of the military department concerned has certified in writing to the Committees on Appropriations and the Committees on Armed Services at least 15 days in advance of the deployment that the unit is fully mission capable.

(c) For purposes of subsection (b), the term `fully mission capable' means capable of performing assigned mission essential tasks to prescribed standards under the conditions expected in the theater of operations, consistent with the guidelines set forth in the Department of Defense readiness reporting system.

(d) The President, by certifying in writing to the Committees on Appropriations and the Committees on Armed Services that the deployment to Iraq of a unit that is not assessed fully mission capable is required for reasons of national security and by submitting along with the certification a report in classified and unclassified form detailing the particular reason or reasons why the unit's deployment is necessary despite the chief of the military department's assessment that the unit is not fully mission capable, may waive the limitation prescribed in subsection (b) on a unit-by-unit basis.

SEC. 1902. (a) Congress finds that it is Defense Department policy that Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units should not be deployed for combat beyond 365 days or that Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve units should not be deployed for combat beyond 210 days.

(b) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be obligated or expended to initiate the development of, continue the development of, or execute any order that has the effect of extending the deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom of--

(1) any unit of the Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard beyond 365 days; or

(2) any unit of the Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve beyond 210 days.

(c) The limitation prescribed in subsection (b) shall not be construed to require force levels in Iraq to be decreased below the total United States force levels in Iraq prior to January 10, 2007.

(d) The President, by certifying in writing to the Committees on Appropriations and the Committees on Armed Services that the extension of a unit's deployment in Iraq beyond the periods specified in subsection (b) is required for reasons of national security and by submitting along with the certification a report in classified and unclassified form detailing the particular reason or reasons why the unit's extended deployment is necessary, may waive the limitations prescribed in subsection (b) on a unit-by-unit basis.

SEC. 1903. (a) Congress finds that it is Defense Department policy that Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units should not be redeployed for combat if the unit has been deployed within the previous 365 consecutive days or that Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve units should not be redeployed for combat if the unit has been deployed within the previous 210 days.

(b) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be obligated or expended to initiate the development of, continue the development of, or execute any order that has the effect of deploying for Operation Iraqi Freedom of--

(1) any unit of the Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard if such unit has been deployed within the previous 365 consecutive days; or

(2) any unit of the Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve if such unit has been deployed within the previous 210 consecutive days.

(c) The limitation prescribed in subsection (b) shall not be construed to require force levels in Iraq to be decreased below the total United States force levels in Iraq prior to January 10, 2007.

(d) The President, by certifying in writing to the Committees on Appropriations and the Committees on Armed Services that the redeployment of a unit to Iraq in advance of the periods specified in subsection (b) is required for reasons of national security and by submitting along with the certification a report in classified and unclassified form detailing the particular reason or reasons why the unit's redeployment is necessary, may waive the limitations prescribed in subsection (b) on a unit-by-unit basis.

SEC. 1904. (a) The President shall make and transmit to Congress the following determinations, along with reports in classified and unclassified form detailing the basis for each determination, on or before July 1, 2007:

(1) whether the Government of Iraq has given United States Armed Forces and Iraqi Security Forces the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, and is making substantial progress in delivering necessary Iraqi Security Forces for Baghdad and protecting such Forces from political interference; intensifying efforts to build balanced security forces throughout Iraq that provide even-handed security for all Iraqis; ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces; eliminating militia control of local security; establishing a strong militia disarmament program; ensuring fair and just enforcement of laws; establishing political, media, economic, and service committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan; and eradicating safe havens;

(2) whether the Government of Iraq is making substantial progress in meeting its commitment to pursue reconciliation initiatives, including enactment of a hydro-carbon law; adoption of legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections; reform of current laws governing the de-Baathification process; amendment of the Constitution of Iraq; and allocation of Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects; and

(3) whether the Government of Iraq and United States Armed Forces are making substantial progress in reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq.

(b) On or before October 1, 2007, the President--

(1) shall certify to the Congress that the Government of Iraq has enacted a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis; adopted legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections, taken steps to implement such legislation, and set a schedule to conduct provincial and local elections; reformed current laws governing the de-Baathification process to allow for more equitable treatment of individuals affected by such laws; amended the Constitution of Iraq consistent with the principles contained in article 137 of such constitution; and allocated and begun expenditure of $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis; or

(2) shall report to the Congress that he is unable to make such certification.

(c) If in the transmissions to Congress required by subsection (a) the President determines that any of the conditions specified in such subsection have not been met, or if the President is unable to make the certification specified in subsection (b) by the required date, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq and complete such redeployment within 180 days.

(d) If the President makes the certification specified in subsection (b), the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq not later than March 1, 2008, and complete such redeployment within 180 days.

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act are immediately available for obligation and expenditure to plan and execute a safe and orderly redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq, as specified in subsections (c) and (d).

(f) After the conclusion of the 180-day period for redeployment specified in subsections (c) and (d), the Secretary of Defense may not deploy or maintain members of the Armed Forces in Iraq for any purpose other than the following:

(1) Protecting American diplomatic facilities and American citizens, including members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

(2) Serving in roles consistent with customary diplomatic positions.

(3) Engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach.

(4) Training members of the Iraqi Security Forces.

(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 50 percent of the funds appropriated by title I of this Act for assistance to Iraq under each of the headings `IRAQ SECURITY FORCES FUND', `ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUND', and `INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT' shall be withheld from obligation until the President has made a certification to Congress regarding the matters specified in subsection (b)(1).

(h) The requirement to withhold funds from obligation pursuant to subsection (g) shall not apply with respect to funds made available under the heading `ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUND' for continued support for the Community Action Program and Community Stabilization Program in Iraq administered by the United States Agency for International Development or for programs and activities to promote democracy in Iraq.

SEC. 1905. (a) COORDINATOR FOR IRAQ ASSISTANCE- Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall appoint a Coordinator for Iraq Assistance (hereinafter in this section referred to as the `Coordinator'), by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, who shall report directly to the President.

(b) DUTIES- The Coordinator shall be responsible for--

(1) Developing and implementing an overall strategy for political, economic, and military assistance for Iraq;

(2) Coordinating and ensuring coherence of Iraq assistance programs and policy among all departments and agencies of the Government of the United States that are implementing assistance programs in Iraq, including the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice;

(3) Working with the Government of Iraq in meeting the benchmarks described in section 1904(b) of this Act in order to ensure Iraq continues to be eligible to receive United States assistance described in such section;

(4) Coordinating with other donors and international organizations that are providing assistance for Iraq;

(5) Ensuring adequate management and accountability of United States assistance programs for Iraq;

(6) Resolving policy and program disputes among departments and agencies of the United States Government that are implementing assistance programs in Iraq; and

(7) Coordinating United States assistance programs with the reconstruction programs funded and implemented by the Government of Iraq.

(c) RANK AND STATUS- The Coordinator shall have the rank and status of ambassador.

SEC. 1906. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds in this or any other Act may be used to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
the fallout over the fired US attorneys. (a) former US Attorney David Iglesias and former US Attorney John McCay. (b) Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania). (c) former Senator and former White House aspirant Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey) on his new book "The New American Story." Host is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET): check back later or tomorrow. Chris Wallace hosts.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET): check back later or tomorrow. Hosted by Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): (a) Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) on the war in Nebraska, the US Attorney firings, Iraq War spending, and his possible run for the White House. (b) Classic Roundtable discussion featuring Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, George Will. (c) Lisa Ling on taking care of girls. Host is George Stephanopolous.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET): the US Attorney firinng controversy and president's obligation or lackthereof to have his aides testify before Congress. Guests to include Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), former US Attorney H.E. "Bud Cummins III, and columnist David Brooks of The New York Times.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET):
(a) Congressional investigations launched by the Democrats since they regained power on Capitol Hill. (b) Election 2008 - former Senator John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth Edwards move up.


2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): Iraq - four years later. Commentators are 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 it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts which are offered on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is moderated by Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): 2008 Democratic Race for the White House. (a) Senator Hillary Clinton's frontrunner status - did she peak? (b) former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina). Commentators will include political reporter Patrick Healy of The New York Times, MSNBC reporter Norah O'Donnell, Gloria Borger of CBS News and US News & World Report, and moderator Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND NEWS TALK SHOWS


1. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET):
Check back later or tomorrow. Anchored by Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
check back later or tomorrow. Hosted by John Kasich.

IV. WEEKEND FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS

1. "20/20" on ABC: "Enough." (a) John Stossel and Christopher St. John on the Chicago restaurant that took on unruly children. (b) John Stossel and Eric Hanan on Maryann Reid and her's "Marry Your Baby Daddy" crusade against out of child wedolock. (c) John Stossel and Melissa Cornick on the town that confronted the police about to put down a wounded dog. (d) John Stossel and Myrna Toledo cover Arkansas State Legislator Dan Greenberg's effort to ban politicians from naming buildings after themselves. (e) John Stossel and Frank Mastropolo report on New York Knick Stephon Marbury, creator of the "Starbury" sneaker line.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): a double feature. (a) "Deadly Ride" - 35 years after Jane Mixer, a law student is murdered (by a serial killer it was presumed) everyone is in for a shock. Reported by Maurren Maher. (b) "Dark Side of the Mesa" - a mother and son disappear and the investigators uncover something disturbing about the family. Reported by Susan Spencer.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
check back later or tomorrow.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): (a) Bob Simon reports on an admitted British born Muslim terrorist recruiter who now renounces his ideological compatriot's violent tactics. (b) Lesley Stahl reports on the controversy surrounding DNA testing and the investigation into any number of family members that follows. (c) Morley Safer talks to former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski.

5. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 and 11:00 PM ET): "Grady's Anatomy" - a look at the real life medical resident drama at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):

2. "Saturday Night Live on NBC (Saturday at 11:29 PM ET): Live with Guest host Peyton Manning with musical guest Carrie Underwood.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): "Offender" - a father of a raped and murdered 6-year old boy threatens the cold case squad to investigate by pushing registered sex offenders off buildings each day. 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): "At Rest" - Samantah looks for her missing sister alone until Jack insists upon getting the whole team involved in the investigation. Tess Harper and Molly Price guest star. Regulars 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.

Or Maybe Not

Okay, so I jumped the gun. The former Senator and Vice Presidential running mate did win he and his wife some positive media coverage which is warranted given Mrs. Edwards' condition and his decision to confront it head on. Mr. Edwards knew the media would be singing a different tune had this information been leaked by someone else while he tried to cover it up.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Self Defense Common Sense

"I do not believe that the law should require me to wait and decide if someone who is breaking into my home or office or attempting to hijack my car intends to harm me or a member of my family," - State Sen. Jeff Wentworth as quoted in The Washington Times

Well, the laws should be revised to allow homeowners to use deadly force when an intruder enters or is trying to break into the home. Home dwellers should not have to find another exit or evade an intruder who makes it inside so these burglars, robbers and potential murderers forfeit their right to life.

But the logic only extends so far. A driver in most situations can hit on the gas pedal or if need be put the car in reverse. (Should the assailant who is trying to hijack the car jump in the way any damage done to him or her should not fall on the driver.) The chance of hitting an innocent bystander go up when this state senator's right to self-defense is invoked at a shopping center, a YMCA camp, the mall, the town center, or downtown.

Just a Question

Why should people who by law shouldn't even be living in this country be entitled to Medicaid?

John Edwards

So who will fill in as the Democratic Party's alternative to the two frontrunners should the former senator from NOrth Carolina drop out?

And now for some unwarranted and tasteless speculation: Will the senator drop out to care for his sick wife or is that only a pretext used to hide his failure to gain any new traction in a race where Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Hillary Clinton (D-New York) sap all of the energy in the media spotlight.

Immigration Enforcement Skepticism

"On one side is an immigrant who is eager to work and who says she never thought she could be stealing from a real person; on the other is an American down on her luck who says she does not know how her personal information came to be exchanged on the black market." excerpt from an article in The New York Times

oh but Eloisa Nuñez did and is rightly now paying the price.

One would hope this crackdown will continue long after President George W. Bush signs onto a "comprehensive immigration reform" package.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Attorney Links

These documents were linked to Courtesy The New York Times.

One passage taken from an e-mail Kyle Sampson sent on December 19, 2006 regarding Tim Griffin's appointment as Bud Cummins' replacement:

"The only thing really at risk here is a appeal of the AG's appointment authority. We intend to have DOJ leg affairs people on notice to work hard to preserve this (House members won't care for this; all we really need is for one Senator to object to language being added to legislative vehicles that are moving through). There is some risk that we'll lose the authority but if we don't ever exercise it, then what's the point for having it? (I'm not sure that Tim was the guy on which to test drive this authority but know that getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.)"

Mr. Sampson was referring to an unknown provision in the misnamed PATRIOT Act giving the president, through the attorney general, the right to appoint provisional federal attorneys for an indefinite period.

Congress, inadvertently or not, all but ceded away its right to confirm the president's nominees, fearing they would be smeared as ACLU liberals if they voted against the PATRIOT Act and the president's adminsitration, knowing they had a compliant Congress, inserted this provision that had nothing to do with terrorism surviellance, into the bill.



"

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Huntington's Disease Article

The following quotes/passages were taken from this Huntington Disease article found on the online edition of The New York Times.

1. “And I’d want someone who could handle it. If, by some twist of fate, I do get married and have children, at least we know what we’re getting into.” - Katharine Moser, who is afflicted with Huntington Disease


Ms. Moser and any future husband she marries might know what they are getting into, but their children will not until, alas, it is too late.

2. "No one quite knows why this DNA hiccup causes cell death in the brain, leading Huntington’s patients to jerk and twitch uncontrollably and rendering them progressively unable to walk, talk, think and swallow. But the greater the number of repeats, the earlier symptoms tend to appear and the faster they progress."

Just another reminder that the quality of one's life can be just as important as the state of being alive. Those who oppose assisted suicide and abortion should ponder that thought a little more before forcing someone to live with this and those who believe a woman has a "right to choose" should ask if they have any obligation to the pre-natal homo sapien growing in the mother's womb. Would not If their answer is "yes," they do have such an obligation, then their whole argument on letting a mother do whatever she wants to her unborn baby falls apart.

Ceding Logic Part 2

A solution in search of a problem. Could not the government seize guns from those who use it for illegitimate purposes? Of course so why on earth was this legislation needed?

Ceding Logic

Say what?

Where's the logic in that?

Simple Questions for Political Candidates

1. “"Well I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.” - Senator Hillary Clinton's principled stand defending gay people from the sexual immorality charges levied against them by Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman Peter Pace.

Oh but don't be too harsh on her. Afterall, when confronted, Hillary Clinton issued a clarification acknowledging to all that her remarks "sounded" evasive (as opposed to "were evasive"). Don't forget, her focus was on the ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy she would like to abandon in favor of full inclusion.

2. "I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters, ... "That's probably a good tradition to follow."
" - Senator Barack Obama on Peter Pace's remarks. Right. It's "probably" but not necessarily, a good idea to keep your opinions to yourself if you are are a public official if speaking out requires you to impugn the moral integrity of those dying while fighting your battles. But only "probably."

3. "Hillary and Barack have made very public overtures to religious Americans. They are trying to figure out how progressive Democrats can also make appeals to Americans of faith. It's a work in progress." - gay Democrat Steve Sanders as quoted in that same Newsday article.

So what is the "work in progress?" Abandoning gays for "Americans of faith" or the staunch defense of gay people from those who would disparage them? Take your pick.


4. "“Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.” - Senator John McCain on AIDS and Sex-Ed funding. This must be Senator John McCain's reprise role for Vioe Admiral James Stockdale who once, during a vice presidential candidate debate asked "who was he" and "why was he here."

wow.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
Four Year Annivesary of the War in Iraq. Guests to include Former Representative and writer Tom Andrews (D-Maine), former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas), Richard Pearle of the American Enterprise Institute, and Representative and retired Vice Admiral Joe Sestak (D-Pennsylvania). Host and moderator is Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET):
federal prosecutor firings and the Iraq War Resolution Vote. (a) Exclusive interview with former U.S. Attorneys Bud Cummins and David Iglesias. (b) Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) on the judge firings. (c) Senator John Kerry (D-Massachussetts) on the Iraq war. (d) FOX News Sunday Panel Discussion - to be posted (e) Power Player of the Week - to be posted. Host is Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET): Iraq War Strategy Choices Ahead - Guests to include National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Representative John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania), former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinki, former NATO Allied Supreme Commander and Retired General General George Joulwan, The New York Times chief military correspondent Michael Gordon, former DIA Intelligence analyst and retired Colonel Pat Lang, CNN Political Contributor James Carville, senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, and Human Events Editor-at-large Terrey Jeffrey. Host is Wolf Blitzer.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET):
federal prosecutor firings and the war in Iraq. (a) Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Senator Jon Cornyn on the firing of federal prosecutors and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez' chance of surviving the political heat. (b) National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on the war in Iraq. (c) Roundtable discussion on this week's politics with Time Magazine's Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney, Democratic Strategist and ABC News consultant Donna Brazile, ABC News' Claire Shipman, and ABC News' George Will. Host is George Stephanopoulos. (d) Voices - Law and Order star Sam Waterston on his strong support for Unity 08 presidential centrism.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET):
the war in Iraq, Walter Reed scandal, and the firing of US Attorneys. Guests are Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Secretary of State Robert Gates. Host is Bob Schieffer.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS

1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): Topics are the war in Iraq, federal prosecutors, and Congress. (a)the war in Iraq - the Democratic Congress' effort to limit the president's surge in Iraq. (b) U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his chance at political survival. (c) March Madness on Capitol Hill. Commentators are Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): (a) US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez under fire in the media. (b) YouTube to remain your tube? (c) election 2008 - why the Democrats cancelled their debate on FOX News. Commentators are 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. Host and moderator is Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Check back later. Host and moderator 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) winter weather ends travel plans. (b) Alberto Gonzalez v Capitol Hill. (c) new Anna Nichol details. (d) booted "American Idol" contestant Brandon Rogers. Host is Julie Banderas.

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

IV. FEATURE NEWS PROGRAMS


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
(a) Exclusive - Barbara Walters interviews Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. (b) unbelievable stories about people who survived kidnappings. Host is John Stossel.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Time For Truth" - Correspondent Bill Lagatutta reports on former Green Beret doctor Jeffrey McDonald's claim of new evidence proving him innocent of murder.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
(a) Cover Story - Cynthia Bowers looks at how one makes it on the FBI's "most wanted" list. (b) Almanac - the worst tornado. (c) A Very Good Year - Charles Osgood speaks to Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the owner of some wine that produces interesting wine labels. (c) The Movies - David Edelstein looks at movies critics hate but moviegoers love. (d) Sunday Passage. (e) A Postcard from Tokyo. (f) Birds - pidgeons. (g) Curtain Going Up - Liev Schrieber. (h) Opinion - Ben Stein on the market. (i) Ender - memory. ) Host is Charles Osgood.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): (a) The Killings in Haditha - Scott Pelley looks into the Haditha murder killings that led to charges against Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich. (b) Simon Cowell - Anderson Cooper profiles "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell.

5. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET): an ill American father meets a loner somewhere in Arizona's wilderness and one of them turns up dead while the survivor claims self defense. John Larsen looks at what happened.

6. "Dateline NBC (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): "Honey, you're on hidden camera." - Josh Mankiewicz goes across the United States to report on the husbands' reaction after their wives, competing for their husbands' attention, secretly records them watching sports at their families' expense.

7. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET):
- Death Squads. The kidnapping, torture, and murder conducted by secret gangs in Iraq.

V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
wealthy party boy turns up dead and the investigation leads to a corrupt video business. 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):
Host is tv actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and musical guest "Snow Patrol." Dreyfus is best known for playing "Elaine" on "Seinfeld."

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET): "A Dollar, A Dream" - a murder of a woman found at the bottom of a river leads the detectives to a cold case involving a homeless family living out of their station wagon. 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):
"Connections" - search for a teenager girl last seen while being followed by a male teen who passed her a lewd note near an internet cafe. 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, March 15, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

"One day, he refused a vice principal's order to leave a student commons area where he was reading Albert Camus, and the police were called. The next day, he remained in his seat while others stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and was sent to the principal's office. He described it all in a mini-treatise -- "This is a story of a high school senior who refused to bow down in submission before an authority . . . ." -- he posted on the Internet." excerpt from The Washington Post story

The court's decision to hear the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case doesn't bode well. There is a good chance that the Supreme Court will overturn the 9th Circuit's ruling in Mr. Joseph Frederick's favor.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Democratic Party and FOX News

Last week, Nevada's State Democratic Party cancelled a debate it was going to co-host with FOX News in August after the latter company's president Roger Ailes made some "comments" about one of their presidential candidates that "went too far." Mr. Ailes was accepting a First Amendment Leadership Award on Thursday. During his acceptance speech, the Fox News Channel president poked some fun at the French army, Britney Spears, Bill Clinton, and the current president, George W. Bush.

The "comment" which the state party and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) used to cancel their debate with FOX News was a joke:

"And it is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, 'Why can't we catch this guy?'"

The senator from Nevada and that state party officials say Mr. Ailes was poking fun at Barack Obama's Middle Eastern terrorist-sounding name but Mr. Ailes could easily have been poking some fun at Mr. Bush's ignorance. The president's inattention to detail, and failure to admit the obvious are known to many and the perception that he is ignorant at best has been reinforced in "Saturday Night Live" skits dating back to the president's first debate with former Vice President Al Gore.

Mr. Ailes comments, probably sealed the fate a of a deal that was on its way out. Liberal bloggers affiliated with MoveOn.Org and Daily Kos repeatedly questioned the state party's decision to let the conservatively-biased FOX News Channel co-sponsor a Democratic primary debate in August. Representatvies from MoveOn.org believe FOX News is a conservative-leaning and not the "fair and balanced" news organization it likes to cast itself as.

FOX News no doubt tilts its coverage to the right. Its talk show hosts with one notable exception, lean conservative but there are reporters on FOX News who can offer fair and balanced coverage. Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly do slant their news programs to the right but they would not have been offered the chance to moderate the debate. If FOX News wanted to cast itself as a "fair and balanced" news organization, it would have invited someone like Chris Wallace to moderate the debate and he has no problem getting Democrats to appear on his show to defend their views.

If they wanted to, spokesmen for the conservative leaning FOX News Channel could point to presidential debates from the past, where one news organization hosted the debate in which a group of journalists from equally biased news organizations (The New York Times, The Washington Post, or PBS) took turns asking the each candidate questions. Their biases did not disqualify them from hosting or asking the prospective nominees or presidents questions.

The state party's decision to bow into the liberal blogger's demands was unfortunate. The party should be fighting for every vote it could get. FOX News offered the Democratic Party a chance to speak to the American people who watch that news channel and tell them why they should vote for them. Their decision to pass this chance up was politically imprudent and potentially insulting to the typical FOX News viewer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"Is there a "straight" way to translate Arabic? Is there a "gay" Farsi? ...

...I have come to realize that "gay" is an artificial category when it comes to measuring a man or woman's on-the-job performance or commitment to shared goals. It says little about the person."
- former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) in The Washington Post

"As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn on, the Pentagon has had to lower its recruitment standards. "Moral waivers," granted to Army recruits with misdemeanor and felony convictions, nearly doubled between 2003 and 2006. One such recruit, Pvt. Steven D. Green, stands accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her and her family. Meanwhile, the Defense Department purged 11,077 troops -- including 322 desperately needed linguists -- from its ranks between 1994 and 2005 simply because they were gay, although the pace of expulsions seems to have slowed as the military's needs outweighed its moral scruples." - The Washington Post editorial board


I don't think we can, as the editorial board of The Washington Post, suggests, speak of a right to serve in the armed forces per se. Admitting openly gay soldiers into the armed forces does pose a significant challenge for heterosexual men who may feel uncomfortable being eyed by a group of men who they feel may hit on them. The U.S. Armed Forces do have a rational basis to ban gay Americans from joining the army, navy, marines, and air force.

We do, however, need more troops. Diverting National Guard troops that can respond to natural disasters and protect our borders overseas, granting "moral waivers" to felons who want to serve, extending tours of duty to those who desperately want to spend some quality time with their families, and letting older less fit soldiers serve makes no sense.

The challenge posed by letting gays openly serve in the military is not insurmountable. Gay and straight Americans can be quartered separately and required to bathe at different times of the day if not given separate bathing facilities. A comprommise that provides straight soldiers who feel uncomfortable with gay soldiers potentially eyeing (their fear) them with some relief while allowing the military to keep the linguists and manpower it desperately needs is desireable and preferable to the status quo.

Edwards' Undue Credit from Daily Kos

Daily Kos is giving former Senator and current White House aspirant John Edwards some undue credit for being the first to drop out of a scheduled primary debate scheduled for this August. (The Nevada State Democratic Party was going to let FOX News Channel co-sponsor and carry the debate but cancelled it under pressure from liberal groups outraged over its conservative media slant and FNC President Roger Ailes' joke poking fun at President George W. Bush's ignorance and Senator Barack Obama's Middle Eastern sounding name).

John Edwards had nothing to lose by dropping out of a debate run by a conservative leaning news organization. The presidential aspirant knew he might gain some traction from the liberal base ( is he courting knowing full well that the two frontrunners he is hoping to catch up to, Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Hillary Clinton (D-New York) could not afford to do so unless they both mutually agreed to do so. The frontrunner that backed out would have given the other a free ride to at minimum skewer his or her closest opponent's record and at maximum pull ahead (or further ahead).

The former senator from North Carolina did not offer the public that same profile in courage when two anti-Catholic writers came under fire for their writings on their own web sites. Mr. Edwards first planned to fire them but then backed down. (He may have pressured them to resign behind the scenes but trying to have it both ways is not a profile in courage).

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Weekend Preview

Highlights: WWolf Blitzer will interview two White House hopefuls (Joe Biden and Mike Huckabee) as well as Iraq's foreign minister on the Iraq Security Conference while Tim Russert has the Bush administration's point of view from Ambassador Khalizad.

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (10:30 AM ET):
Iraq Baghdad Conference and this week's politics. (a) US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalizad on the Baghdad Conference between the United States, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. (b) Roundtable discussion on election 2008 and the political fallout over Walter Reed and the "Scooter" Libby verdict with Michael Beschloss, Michael Duffy, Ted Koppel, Dana Priest, and moderator Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (10:00 AM ET): the war in Iraq and the Scooter Libby verdict. (a) "Law and Order" Actor and former Senator Fred Thomspon on the Scooter Libby verdict and the testy relationship between the conservatives and Republican candidates. (b) "Out of Iraq" coalition leader Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California) on the disappointment liberal activists have with the Democrats for not getting the troops out of Iraq. (c) FOX News Sunday Panel discussion on the impact the Scooter Libby verdict will have on the White House and the latest on the debate on the war in Iraq. Panelists to include Brit Hume of FOX News, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson of NPR and Nina Easton of Fortune. (d) Power Player of the Week - jazz pianist and compose Billy Taylor. Hist is Chris Wallace.

3. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (11:00 AM ET): the Iraq Security Conference and the new Iraq Security Plan. Guests to include Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Senator and White House presidential candidate Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), former Arkansas Governor and White House presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas), CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider, Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile and former Bush speechwriter David Frum of the American Enterprise Institute.

4. "This Week" on ABC (10:00 AM ET): latest troop withdrawal proposal and an inhospital living environment at Walter Reed (a) Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) on the latest U.S. troop withdrawal proposal. (b)former Senator and former presidential candidate Bob Dole (R-Kansas) on the controversy at Walter Reed. (c)Roundtable discussion on this week's politics with Torie Clarke, Fareed Zakariah, David Corn, and George Will. (d) Voices - Loretta Lynn on being honored for talking about women's issues. Moderator George Stephanopoulos hosts.

5. "Face The Nation" on CBS (10:30 AM ET):
Iraq War, treatment of US veterans at Walter Reed, and the Libby Verdict. Guests to include Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York), Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri). Host is Bob Schieffer.

II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET): (a)Scooter Libby Verdict: "Scooter Libby" isn't a lame-duck yet. (b) the Democratic Party and the anti-war left. the anti-war left on the Democratic Party's Iraq War troop withdrawal strategy. (c) election 2008 and Giuliani - prominent conservative evangelical who takes aim at former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York).

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):
(a) Libby Guilty: news coverage on the Scooter Libby verdict. (b) Walter Reed Scandal: fallout continues from The Washington Post investigation. Commentators are 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. Host and moderator is Howard Kurtz.

4. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Bill Clinton and Richard Cheney. (a) fall out from the Scooter Libby scandal - Vice President Richard Cheney's assets or a problem weighing George W. Bush down. (b) Bill Clinton's potential role as the first First Man should his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, win the election 2008 presidential election. Commentators to include Howard Fineman of Newsweek, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, Katty Kay of BBC News, David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and moderator Chris Matthews.

III. OTHER WEEKEND POLITICAL/NEWS SHOWS

1. "Heartland" on FOX News (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET):
pre-empted this weekend.

2. "Big Story Weekend" on FOX News (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): nothing posted. Host is Julie Banderas.

IV. FEATURE NEWS SHOWS


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
(a) Brian Ross reports on the Ghana native Eric Amoako, a former internet scammer himself, turns on his comrades. (b)Jeffrey Kofman on Briny Breezes' transformation from poor "trailer parks" to multimillionnaire living. (c) Lynn Sherr, Lynn Redmon, and Christopher St. John report on the Oct. 13 1997 murder of Julie Rea Harper's son.Mrs. Harper was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 65 years in prison but was released on parole and granted a new trial. Is she, or a serial killer, responsible for her son's death.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Dangerous Reunion" - Susan Spencer reports on the case of former cheerleaders were targeted for murder by a former classmate.

3. "CBS Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET): (a) Cover Story - Stop the Presses: a look at how The Chatanooga Times Free Press is adapting to the new medium for reading the news online and the reporters who have cast their lot with the internet over print. (b) Sunday Almanac - Johnny Appleseed. (c) Art - Chuck Close: Anchor Charles Osgood profiles artist Chuck Close. (d) Our Man in Paris - Poland or Polynesia. (e) Sunday Passage. (f) Mr. Mayor: Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl: Joie Chen pays the 27-year old mayor a vist in the first installment of the program's "Mr. Mayor." (g) Nature: Animal Kingdom. (h) The Cable Guy: David Steinberg - Correspondent Bill Whitaker profiles standup comedian David Steinberg. (i) Opinion - Mo Rocca on fine print. (j) Bill Geist: Roller Skating Seniors - Bill Geist heads to Montvale New Jersey to watch senior citizens skate to organ music.

4. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): (a) "The Widows of Harlan County" - Bob Simon interviews Melissa Lee, the wife of one who died in the coal mines of Harlan County, about the region's biggest employer's safety practices. (b) "Left Behind" - Scott Pelley reports on Iraqi translators, construction workers and office help who want to move to the United States to avoid persecution now that they are perceived as "collaborators." (c) the anthrax case - Lesley Stahl reports on "person of interest" Dr. Steven Hatfill's efforts to turn the tables on the FBI. (d) Andy Rooney.

5. "Dateline NBC" on NBC (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
Sarah James reports on "ordinary woman" Melinda Elkin's quest to clear her husband of the rape and murder of her mother and the rape of niece through CSI techniques that land her in trouble with the state, police, and prosecutors.

6. "CNN Special Investigation Unit" on CNN (Saturday at 8:00 PM ET): "Fatal Journey" - the crash of a bus transporting the Bluffton University baseball team on I-75 near Atlanta, Georgia. What went wrong and what could have prevented this accident which claimed the lives of the bus driver, his wife and four team players.

V. WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT

1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): actor gets arrested for drunk driving and reveals his religious prejudice. 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):
Drew Barrymore guest hosts with musical guest Lily Allen.

3. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
"Shuffle, Ball Change" - Detectives uncover the bones of a teenage boy who was presumed missing since 1984. 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):
"Deep Water" - investigators search for a missing senator and have to contend with her powerfule, meddlesome father and the news media. 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.