Saturday, June 30, 2007

Glasgow Attack Question

The PoliticalHeretic is not an expert but has a question: why would a police officer take a man they consider a dangerous terrorist they still considered dangerous to a hospital and force the hospital to empty its beds of its patients? Why not treat the terrorist at the scene of the incident or at an undisclosed unpopulated area?

I don't know. Maybe the British know more than we know since they dealt with IRA bombings in the past but the transfer to a nearby hospital seesm questionable.

And how did a renegade vehicle get so close to the airport terminal? Roadblocks should be instituted at every airport barring cars from the terminals with visitors forced to take shuttle buses from the distant parking lot to the terminal after being searched or frisked.

Whatever the case, no deaths are being reported as of yet, which is good news.

Our hearts, well wishes, or prayers (if you are religious) should go out to the British as they deal with terrorist attacks like the one committed in Glasgow and the one attempted in London yesterday.

The British have been with us in nearly every war we fought recently - the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq II. They deserve our support.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Weekend Update

Sorry but there will be no weekend update thiw week.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bush Concedes Defeat on Immigration Bill

It looks like President George W. Bush won't squander anymore political capital on the immigration bill. He said Congress must show it could come together and pass something while it is in sesssion (one would presume Bush was referring to something which he'd sign since Congress did pass several anti-Iraq War resolutions) and specifically referred to energy reform and the budget.

Blogging over the weekend will feature my comments as to why this bill deserved to go down in defeat and the possible improvements in the bill that would have made the amnesty provisions more bearable.

One Plan B to Iraq

Replace the Iraqi Government now in place.

But with whom? and how will that new government be better positioned to forge a coalition among Shi'ite, Kurd, and Sunni?

The PoliticalHeretic still likes his own idea - Fight for a stalemate. If neither side could vanquish the other, they'll be forced to negotiate.

The Democratic Swing Voters in the Senate

Like Ms. McCaskill, Mr. Tester said the federal government was doing a poor job of enforcing immigration laws and could solve much of the problem by enforcing what is already on the books. Ms. McCaskill also says the government should make a statement by jailing some business leaders who repeatedly hire illegal immigrants, a step she said would be a powerful deterrent. She is also troubled by aspects of the measure that would make it harder for family members to join legal immigrants. excerpt from The New York Times

Now, it is hoped they will break from their party and kill this monstrosity.

The fact that the senate voted to weaken the REAL ID portion requiring states to issue secure driver's licenses goes to show there is no desire to enforce our immigration laws.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fit for Print But Not To Air:6

"If you cared that much about them, you wouldn't have us stay in Iraq and you would be doing a lot better job at Walter Reed, and you would be seeing to it that veterans would be getting the kind of help and support they ought to be getting," - Senator Chris Dodd as quoted in the Portsmouth Herald, reminding his audience that there is a difference of opinion as to how we'd be supporting the troops.

Bush and Iraq: Losing the Faith

“The one real disappointment is that the Iraqi government has not stepped up and fulfilled what we think is the role that they need to play" - Senator Richard M. Burr (R-North Carolina) as quoted in The New York Times

President George W. Bush can warn the American public of the dangers we face if our troops are withdrawn from Iraq all he wants. Yes, if we leave now the Iraqi, the sectarian strife will in all likelihood intensify as Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurd seek to fill in the political vacuum created with our departure while Iraq's neighbors side with their favorite groups vying for power. Yes, by toppling Saddam Hussein from power we have made Iran stronger.

The American people are losing their patience, however. Mr. Bush has offered the public a costly war that seems to have no end. He says we should give the surge time to work. The three major factions vying for political power however may be seeking to wait us out. No military force which the American public is willing to sacrifice could bind what the Iraqis themselves are not willing to hold together.

In its report, The Iraqi Study Group suggested we make make our future commitment to Iraq contingent upon the Iraqi government's ability to meet certain political benchmarks - the constitutional review promised to the Sunnis, a de-Baathification law reform, an oil revenue sharing law, an agreement to postpone the referendum over Kirkuk's political status, new provincial election date timeline, and the disarming of Iraq's militias. To date the Iraqis havn't passed, let alone implemented any of these recommendations so there is no reason to believe they have the political will, let alone the ability, to save their country from itself or the neighbors that will violate its territorial integrity to protect their own national interests.

Unless Mr. Bush can offer the American public with a Plan B or, in the alternative, show the current plan is working, the cause (stabilizing Iraq) won't outlast his term in office. He has given the public no reason to believe this war is still winnable and he apparently will not settle for the more reachable political stalemate I have in the past proposed. Our time, money and lives are being squandered on a flawed policy.

The American people will not stand for it, and the Congressmen and women will not stand for it. Senators George Voinavich (R-Ohio), Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), John Warner (R-Virginia), Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), and Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) no longer believe in this war. They may not want to break from their president but those who are up for re-election know they stick by him at their own peril.

If No Detention Centers, How Punish Transgressors?

"One of the worst amendments comes from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. It would impose mandatory detention of all people who overstay their visas. It’s a huge overreach that threatens to swamp the detention system, filling already-strapped prisons at great expense and inevitably leading to more abuses and deaths. And because it takes away the power of officials to decide who poses a genuine threat and who doesn’t, it would undermine efforts to catch and deport the truly dangerous.

The cells would be full of people who shouldn’t be there: asylum seekers, the elderly, pregnant women, the sick and those ensnared in paperwork mistakes. Children, like the kindergartners in inmate scrubs walking the halls of a federal detention center outside Austin, Tex. Day laborers, like those in suburban Brewster, N.Y., whose arrests were hailed by a mayor who spoke proudly of his community’s “zero tolerance” for people unlawfully playing soccer in a schoolyard."
editorial from The New York Times

and how else do the writers at The New York Times suggest we deter illegal immigration? Pay them to stay in their country?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lawrence v. Texas: Righting a Wrong

Four years ago today, the Supreme Court righted a wrong it committed by upholding a Georgia sodomy statute in 1986.

"To say that the issue in Bowers was simply the right to engage in certain sexual conduct demeans the claim the individual put forward, just as it would demean a married couple were it to be said marriage is simply about the right to have sexual intercourse. The laws involved in Bowers and here are, to be sure, statutes that purport to do no more than prohibit a particular sexual act. Their penalties and purposes, though, have more far-reaching consequences, touching upon the most private human conduct, sexual behavior, and in the most private of places, the home. The statutes do seek to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals.

This, as a general rule, should counsel against attempts by the State, or a court, to define the meaning of the relationship or to set its boundaries absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects. It suffices for us to acknowledge that adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons. When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice. ...

... The rationale of Bowers does not withstand careful analysis. In his dissenting opinion in Bowers Justice Stevens came to these conclusions:

“Our prior cases make two propositions abundantly clear. First, the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice; neither history nor tradition could save a law prohibiting miscegenation from constitutional attack. Second, individual decisions by married persons, concerning the intimacies of their physical relationship, even when not intended to produce offspring, are a form of “liberty” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Moreover, this protection extends to intimate choices by unmarried as well as married persons.” 478 U.S., at 216 (footnotes and citations omitted).

Justice Stevens’ analysis, in our view, should have been controlling in Bowers and should control here.

Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled."

Once again,

Thanks Kennedy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

North Korea Negotiations

"Yongbyon's dismantlement would indeed be a breakthrough. But months already have passed since the North missed the initial deadline for suspending operations at the reactor, with no consequence other than additional U.S. sweeteners. Mr. Kim seems adept at exploiting American impatience for a breakthrough. During its last weeks the Clinton administration was drawn in by North Korean hints about a deal on its missile program, and it dispatched Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang for what became a grotesque propaganda windfall for Mr. Kim. The missile deal never came close to materializing.

Given the threat posed by a loathsome dictatorship apparently armed with nuclear weapons, the Bush administration is right to explore whether Mr. Kim's promises of disarmament are serious this time. But it should stop making one-sided concessions to a regime that has, as yet, not shown it will do more than pocket them."
editorial from The Washington Post

Hello. Did anyone see this coming? Of course, the North Koreans have no reason to comply when every act of intransigience wins them more concessions.

"The president should resist any pressure to lift its economic sanctions and insist upon the enforcement of the UN imposed miliary sanctions. The North Koreans defied the international community when it detonated its nuclear device. Lifting the sanctions erases the penalty imposed upon a country that had conceded nothing of substance after defying the international community with its display of nuclear power." - the PoliticalHeretic, last November and here.

Fit For Print But Not to Air: 5

"Asked if he thinks the war is lost, Biden said it will never be won on the basis the president has stated. But he thinks it is still possible to achieve a loose federation that is not a threat to its neighbors, not a haven for terrorism and that is secure in its borders. That can only happen if the international community puts its imprint on it, and though Biden didn’t say it, that can only happen with a new president. It may not be Biden, but he has been right enough long enough about this war that his views deserve to be heard." - Eleanor Clift in Newsweek making a case for Biden's views, if not his presidential bid

Well, he's "he has been right enough long enough about this war that his views" that we should consider him a viable presidential candidate.

Those who opposed the war from the start might think differently, given his vote to authorize war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Then again, they can't treat him differently when Senator Clinton voted the same way.

Morse v. Frederck: Quotes

1. "We need not resolve this debate to decide this case. For present purposes, it is enough to distill from Fraser two basic principles. First, Fraser’sholding demonstrates that “the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings.” Id., at 682. Had Fraser delivered the same speech in a public forum outside the school context, it would have been protected. See Cohen v. California, 403 U. S. 15 (1971) ; Fraser, supra, at 682–683. In school, however, Fraser’s First Amendment rights were circumscribed “in light of the special characteristics of the school environment.” Tinker, supra, at 506. Second, Fraser established that the mode of analysis set forth in Tinker is not absolute. Whatever approach Fraser employed, it certainly did not conduct the “substantial disruption” analysis prescribed by Tinker, supra, at 514. See Kuhlmeier, 484 U. S., at 271, n. 4 (disagreeing with the proposition that there is “no difference between the First Amendment analysis applied in Tinker and that applied in Fraser,” and noting that the holding in Fraser was not based on any showing of substantial disruption)." Chief Justice John Roberts Jr, writing for the Court

2. "Two cardinal First Amendment principles animate both the Court’s opinion in Tinker and Justice Harlan’s dissent. First, censorship based on the content of speech, par-ticularly censorship that depends on the viewpointof the speaker, is subject to the most rigorous burden of justification:

“Discrimination against speech because of its message is presumed to be unconstitutional… . When the government targets not subject matter, but particular views taken by speakers on a subject, the violation of the First Amendment is all the more blatant. Viewpoint discrimination is thus an egregious form of content discrimination. The government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction.” Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U. S. 819, 828–829 (1995) (citation omitted).

Second, punishing someone for advocating illegal conduct is constitutional only when the advocacy is likely to provoke the harm that the government seeks to avoid. See Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U. S. 444, 449 (1969) (per curiam) (distinguishing “mere advocacy” of illegal conduct from “incitement to imminent lawless action”)...

... "Reaching back still further, the current dominant opinion supporting the war on drugs in general, and our antimarijuana laws in particular, is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student. While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs. The ensuing change in public opinion occurred much more slowly than the relatively rapid shift in Americans’ views on the Vietnam War, and progressed on a state-by-state basis over a period of many years. But just as prohibition in the 1920’s and early 1930’s was secretly questioned by thousands of otherwise law-abiding patrons of bootleggers and speakeasies, today the actions of literally millions of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana,9 and of the majority of voters in each of the several States that tolerate medicinal uses of the product,10 lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by those in the majority is silencing opponents of the war on drugs." Surely our national experience with alcohol should make us wary of dampening speech suggesting—however inarticulately—that it would be better to tax and regulate marijuana than to persevere in a futile effort to ban its use entirely." - Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the dissent

3. " Because public schools were initially created as substitutes for private schools, when States developed public education systems in the early 1800’s, no one doubted the government’s ability to educate and discipline children as private schools did. Like their private counterparts, early public schools were not places for freewheeling debates or exploration of competing ideas. Rather, teachers instilled “a core of common values” in students and taught them self-control...

...Today, the Court creates another exception. In doing so, we continue to distance ourselves from Tinker, but we neither overrule it nor offer an explanation of when itoperates and when it does not. Ante, at 10–14. I am afraid that our jurisprudence now says that students have a right to speak in schools except when they don’t—a standard continuously developed through litigation against local schools and their administrators. In my view, petitioners could prevail for a much simpler reason: As originally understood, the Constitution does not afford students a right to free speech in public schools.

Because public schools were initially created as substitutes for private schools, when States developed public education systems in the early 1800’s, no one doubted the government’s ability to educate and discipline children as private schools did. Like their private counterparts, early public schools were not places for freewheeling debates or exploration of competing ideas. Rather, teachers instilled “a core of common values” in students and taught them self-control."
- Justice Clarence Thomas arguing for school censorhip rights across the board in his concurring opinion.

4. "I join the opinion of the Court on the understanding that (a) it goes no further than to hold that a public school may restrict speech that a reasonable observer would interpret as advocating illegal drug use and (b) it provides no support for any restriction of speech that can plausibly be interpreted as commenting on any political or social issue, including speech on issues such as “the wisdom of the war on drugs or of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.” See post, at 13 (Stevens, J., dissenting). ...

... The opinion of the Court does not endorse the broad argument advanced by petitioners and the United States that the First Amendment permits public school officials to censor any student speech that interferes with a school’s “educational mission.” See Brief for Petitioners 21; Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 6. This argument can easily be manipulated in dangerous ways, and I would reject it before such abuse occurs. The “educational mission” of the public schools is defined by the elected and appointed public officials with authority over the schools and by the school administrators and faculty. As a result, some public schools have defined their educational missions as including the inculcation of whatever political and social views are held by the members of these groups.
- Justices Samuel A. Alito in his concurring opinion, in practice negating the ruling he joined, arguing for a distinction based upon the risk speech may have on school violence.

Morse v. Frederick

Today the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling protecting a student's right to a unfurl pro-drug messages at school sanctioned events. Joseph Frederick, then a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School (in Juneau, Alaska) was suspended by his high school's principal after he unfurled and refused to put away a "Bongs 4 Jesus" banner at a school-sanctioned trip to an Olympic Torch relay. In its ruling, the Court said school districts could ban speech that advocates illegal drug use because it believes the schools have an "important - indeed compelling" interest to do so. "Drug abuse can cause severe and permanent damage to the health and well-being of young people ..."

Chief Justice Roberts' opinion (the Court opinion) by itself could have been read as a sweeping endorsement for school censorship and had Justice Samuel Alito not written a concurring opinion negating its effect, students' free speech rights would have been obliterated.
He cites approvingly from the Court's prior ruling in Bethel School District v. Fraser “the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings and marginalizes its ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist. (e.g. "Kuhlmeier does not control this case because no one would reasonably believe that Frederick’s banner bore the school’s imprimatur. The case is nevertheless instructive because it confirms both principles cited above. Kuhlmeier acknowledged that schools may regulate some speech “even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school.” Id., at 266. And, like Fraser, it confirms that the rule of Tinker is not the only basis for restricting student speech.")

Chief Justice Roberts is not, in this opinion, upholding bans on any speech high school officials deem harmful to student. He properly confines his focus to illegal drug use advocacy and tries to distinguish it from :

"Even more to the point, these cases also recognize that deterring drug use by schoolchildren is an “important—indeed, perhaps compelling” interest. Id., at 661. Drug abuse can cause severe and permanent damage to the health and well-being of young people:

“School years are the time when the physical, psychological, and addictive effects of drugs are most severe. Maturing nervous systems are more critically impaired by intoxicants than mature ones are; childhood losses in learning are lifelong and profound; children grow chemically dependent more quickly than adults, and their record of recovery is depressingly poor. And of course the effects of a drug-infested school are visited not just upon the users, but upon the entire student body and faculty, as the educational process is disrupted.” Id., at 661–662 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). ..."

and here:

"Thousands of school boards throughout the country—including JDHS—have adopted policies aimed at effectuating this message. See Pet. for Cert. 17–21. Those school boards know that peer pressure is perhaps “the single most important factor leading schoolchildren to take drugs,” and that students are more likely to use drugs when the norms in school appear to tolerate such behavior. Earls, supra, at 840 (Breyer, J., concurring). Student speech celebrating illegal drug use at a school event, in the presence of school administrators and teachers, thus poses a particular challenge for school officials working to protect those entrusted to their care from the dangers of drug abuse."
The reasoning he uses, however, to justify bans on illegal drug use advocacy could be used to justify bans on any message it deems incompatible with the messages it espouses to protect students from harm.

School officials, however, could use his reasoning to legitimize censorship of any speech they deem harmful to students. School officials could ban students from promoting cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating habits, premarital non nonmarital sexual habits (Utah's ban on gay-straight clubs), and religious beliefs that stigmatize those who do not conform to them (one need only look at one school district's attempts to ban one student from wearing an anti-gay t-shirt).

Students who support drug legalization could easily point to our society's respect for one's right to smoke cigarette smoking, alochol consumption, and unhealhty eating habits. Alcohol and nicotine could be just as addictive and just as dangerous. Excessive drinking can cause death. Cigarette smoking may cause lung cancer. Unhealth eating habits lead to obesity, chronic illness and poor esteem. The case against the drug use they support is severely undermined by the society's tolerance of habits that are nearly if not just as harmful.

Justice Roberts said "student speech celebrating illegal drug use at a school event, in the presence of school administrators and teachers, thus poses a particular challenge for school officials working to protect those entrusted to their care from the dangers of drug abuse."

Not it does not. Nothing prevents school officials from refuting that message in future school assemblies or inviting pyschologists, health professionals, and police officers in to campaign against drug use. Nothing prevented like-minded students at the Olympics torch relay from displaying an anti-drug use banner of their own.

Students in civics classes across America are taught about our republican government, federalism, the separation of powers among three co-equal branches of government, and the constitution. Had Roberts won, the students who are forced to list the Bill of Rights would not have been given the right to exercise the first of them.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fit For Print But Not to Air: 4

In other campaign news, Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) will make campaign visits to Amherst, Nashua and Manchester on Saturday and Rochester and Concord on Sunday. Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) called for a complete U.S. troop withdrawal pullout. His claim that the real diplomatic negotiation could begin once we leave, however, is doubtful. The Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish factions more likely will use that opportunity to kill each other grabbing whatever oil rich territory they can get for their own political fiefdoms.

The questions reporters should be asking him are:

(1) if the country falls into further disarray, and the bloodshed between the three major factions escalates, what will the United States do to contain it in Iraq? Can we?

(2) What specifically will he offer (and what could he offer more like it) to keep the Turks out of Iraqi their cooperation on an Iraqi political stabilization plan?

(3) Why would the three major factions listen to our solutions once we are gone? What would give the most powerful group the incentive to negotiate when the U.S. troops that could threaten to back the weaker parties leaves?

or, is the case for stabilization or, --- forgid, regional stability, hopeless?

Gilmore Breaks from the Pack on Iraq

"I believe we cannot just abandon Iraq," he wrote. "I believe the only realistic alternative -- the least bad option, if you will -- is a limited deliberate drawdown of our military men and women and a redeployment of the forces remaining in the region to areas where they can more efficiently and effectively carry out a clearly defined mission.

"American interests come down to protection of our national security, protection of Israel's right to exist and averting, if possible, a general war in the Middle East, nuclear or otherwise," Gilmore said. "The current policy, in which we seem to be acting as an occupier, is detrimental to those goals."
- former Governor Jim Gilmore, becoming the second formerly pro-war Republican candidate to break with the president on Iraq.

So now the question is, what would the former governor from Virginia do to avert regional warfare in the Middle East? How would he contain the civil war which Iraq's regional neighbors would be tempted to enter on behalf of their favored party? How many troops should stay and what would their mission be if the civil war gets worse? Would the remaining troops be pulled out if Shi'ite, Sunni, Kurd, and Turkomen fought street for street for their share of the spoils? Would they stay?

Idiotic and Petty Opposition to Gymn Membership

Gay Virginians won a rare victory when Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell said he will not challenge the University of Virginia's decision to extend gymn membership access to non-married couples (i.e. gay couples). McDonnell said the policy does not violate state laws forbidding government bodies from offering health insurance to domestic partners or civil union spouses.

(Warning: Sarcasm Follows)

The University's gay couples, I'm sure, will be dancing in the streets, marking this important cornerstone in civil rights tha will culminate in gay marriage. Tears will be shed as they watch their significant others jog on the treadmills or lift weights for $270 a year.

One man, however, isn't pleased. The honorable Del. Robert G. Marshall (R) of Prince William, fearing this would expose young families to such perverse activities as treadmill sodomy and three-way weightlifting thinks the university is providing gays with special privileges it wouldn't normally give to those who want to invite their pets to the gymn.

"What if you want to give the benefit to your pet? Does your cat get to go to the gym?," he rhetorically asked?

Right. Your house poodle may want to lift weights or jog on the treadmill.

The Weekend Preview


1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Congress, Michael Bloomberg. (a) Congressional approval ratings - Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) weigh in on the senate's chances of passing an immigration reform bill and one defunding the war in Iraq. (b) FOX News Sunday Panel - Brit Hume of FOX News, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams of National Public Radio, and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's interest in the race for the White House. (c) Power Player of The Week - Baltimore Orioles Star Cal Ripken Jr.

2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Immigration Reform and a political roundtable. (a) Immigration Reform debate between Pat Buchanan and Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois). (b) Political Roundtable - David Broder of The Washington Post, John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal, Gwen Ifil of PBS, and Roger Simon. Hosted by Tim Russert. This show is re-aired on MSNBC at 10:00 PM ET.

3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topics This Week - immigration reform bill. (a) Sunday Exclusive - Senator Edward Kennedy on the immigration reform bill under consideration. (b) Sunday Exclusive - Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) offers a response on the immigration reform bill under consideration. (c) Roundtable discussion - (d) Voices - former Frasier star and Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce on alzheimer's. (e) Sunday funnies. Hosted by George Stephanopoulos.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topic This Week - election 2008 and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's potential impact on the race. Commentators will include Law and Order star and Unity 08 spokesman Sam Waterston, political consultant Ed Rogers, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, and John Harris of Hosted by Bob Schieffer.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - a new offensive in Iraq, the troop surge's effectiveness, and an interview with Vietnam's president.


1. "The Beltway Boys" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - Michael Bloomberg, George W. Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. (a) Michael Bloomberg - quitting the Republican Party and possibly running for president. (b) George W. Bush - avoiding lame duck status. (c) Hillary Rodham Clinton - trouble with some liberals. Co-hosted by Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News Channel (Sunday at 6:30 PM ET): Topics This Week - Taliban Graduation and a spoof of the Sopranos. (a) Taliban Graduation - ABC News footage. (b) Hillary Clinton's attempt to spoof the Sopranos. Co-panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler and host Eric Burns.

3. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Hillary's war stance, Michael Bloomberg potentially in the race. (a) Hillary Clinton - criticizing the war without appearing weak on terror. (b) Michael Bloomberg - his chances as a third party candidate. Guests to include Rick Stengel of Time Magazine, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post Writers Group, David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times. Hosted by Chris Matthews.

4. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.


1. "The Big Story Weekend" on FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - the searc for a missing mom and Paris Hilton. (a) the search for the missing mom continues. (b) Parish Hilton - whether she will be released on Sunday. Hosted by Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): Updates for this show have not been forthcoming on show's home web page but if there is once it will be posted here as well. This show is hosted by John Kasich. Hosted by John Kasich.


1. "20/20" on ABC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - home buying and bad neighbors. (a) Toxic Neighbors - a look back at a feud between John Belushi v. Julie Newmar over a fence. (b) Home buying - the buzz words to look for in ads. Hosted by John Stossel.

2. "CNN Special Investigations Unit" on CNN (Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - "Danger: Poisoned Food." Hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

3. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET):
Topic This Week - "Secrets In The Sand" - young woman is shot to death and the husband is shot four times. Question of whether he, himself pulled the trigger. Reported by Harold Dow.

4. "CBS News Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET):
Topics This Week - (a) Cover Story: Plastics - billions of plastic bags a year consumed, nonbiodegradable water bottles. Reported by John Blackstone. (b) Almanac - New Jersey colony established in 1664. (c) Movies - David Edelstein comments on "Ratatouille." (d) Design: Child's Play - Correspondent Joie Chen talks to the experts on the best playground design for children. (e) Passage - topic to be determined. (f) Buzz on Bees - Correspondent Martha Teichner on the life of bees and where they all have gone. (g) The Back Story: Waitress. (h) Summer Song - Sting. (i) Opinion - Celebrity Candidates. (j) Geist: Sexpresso - Bill Giest on the latest tactic in the cofee wars - scantily clad baristas and drive-thu coffee stands.

5. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - ostracized soldier, Holocaust survivors, and sperm donors. This is probable repeat. (a) Exposing The Truth - Joe Darby lives in fear of his and his family's life after turning his fellow soldiers in for the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. Reported by Anderson Cooper. (b) Family Ties - fertility science techniques bringing children in contact with the anonymous sperm donor fathers. Reported by Steve Kroft. (c) Hitler's Secret Archive - three Jewish survivors look at their own Holocaust records for the first time. Reported by Scott Pelley.


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Actress and her mother are found dead. Murder? Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistand District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jessie 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):
Obvious a repeat since the season ended. Guest host is actor Zach Braff with musical guest Maroon 5.

3. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 8:00 PM ET): "The Calm Before" - the search for a man emotionally and financially traumatized by Hurricane Katrina. Stars Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgad.

4. "Cold Case" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 PM ET):
"Sandhogs" - bones of sandhog miner Donavan is found, and team suspects man's disappearance was caused by murder. Stars Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush, Danny Pino as Scott Valens, John Finn as John Stillman, Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera, Thom Barry as William Jeffries, and Tracie Thomas as Kat Miller.

5. "Without A Trace" on CBS (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET):
"Watch Over Me" - social worker who disappears after removing a 7-year old from the home of her troubled parents. Stars Anthony LaPaglia as Jack Malone, Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson, Enrique Murciano as Danny Taylor, Eric Close as Martin Fitzgerald, and Roselyn Sanchez as Elena Delgad.

Abortion in the Extreme

"Most Americans fall somewhere between the extremes of “never” and “no problem” when it comes to abortion.

What polling can’t capture and politicians won’t hear is the voice of the nun I interviewed who considers herself pro-choice — and has been disciplined by her diocese as a result — because she does not think abortion is wrong for rape victims. Or the voices of the many women I spoke to who hold far more expansive views yet call themselves pro-life. Most people differentiate between a fetus in the early weeks of development and at nearly full term, and draw the line at a procedure that Democratic Senator Pat Moynihan regarded as infanticide."
- Melinda Henneberger in The New York Times

Now, if only the Democratic candidates would listen. Could they back parental notification laws that give parents the same consultative opportunities they would have for any other procedures performed upon their daughters? 24 hour waiting periods? informed consent? The pro-choice advocates' agnostic rhetoric will only hurt them in the long run, as I have said here and here.

In their laudable effort to protect woman's rights, bodily integrity and personal autonomy, abortion rights activists have shortchanged the fetus' purported rights in the process. It is a childless-centric approach which fails to address in any meaningful way the moral worth of the fetal being residing within the pregnant mother. And because of that, "pro-choice" advocates will be ill-prepared when they participate in the future debates concerning genetic testing and genetic engineering.

"Nowhere is this indifference more obvious then when we are dealing with the hypothetical case of the crack-addicted pregnant mother. The outrage that any "pro-choice" person would feel if a pregnant woman gave birth to a crack-addicted baby boy (or girl) or declined to have an abortion would be understandable if he or she believed that her obligation to the child outweighed her right "to choose." If they were really "pro-choice" abortion rights activists would have to side with the pregnant woman no matter what. If the mother wanted to have an abortion they would protect her right to do so. If she wanted to keep the child they would have to support that as well, even if the child was born drug addicted, physically deformed, or mentally retarded as a result of her drug addiction.

If however, the abortion rights activist says the fetus is being wronged and entitled to some justice or protective intervention from the state, his or her case for "choice" is undermined. The pregnant woman who has a right to kill her fetus because she has the "right to choose" can certainly opt for the alternative course and bring the child to term even if it is expected that she will give birth to a crack-addicted, physically-defective and/or mentally retarded one as a result of her actions."

and here,
"If given the chance, and by necessity, the obligation to do so (as I believe it must) the state could set up a tier system which weighs the interest of a fetus to life to its potential interest as a fully grown human with a minimum quality of life. The pending debate over genetic testing and re-engineering might force the public to exercise discretion and balance the sometimes competing interests between a life and a quality of life (or in the alternative, the avoidance of an unbearable life).

The public might decide that a pregnant woman may be forced to carry her fetus to term if her own life is not threatened and the quality of the fetus' life is predictably bearable but forced to abort the fetus if it has a disease that would cause it unnecessary suffering, and give her the option of choosing what to do if here life is threatened or the nature of the disease's threat to the unborn's quality of life is in doubt. It may decide to give the pregnant woman the right to regulated "choice" up to the point of sentience and prohibition with exceptions thereafter. Or it may adopt what is essentially an absolutist position favored by one of the two opposing camps.

The debate will be intense and the distinctions between those diseases which are bearable and which ones are not may be too fine or blurry to say beyond a doubt. But that is to be expected. A teacher of mine once said that the world is gray, not black and white. I agree, but it is gray because it is hard to decide where it is black and white."

Campaigning Through Donations to The Poor or Campaigning for the Poor?

"Of course, it sent Senator Edwards around the country to do this. How else could we have engaged tens of thousands of college students or sent 700 young people to help rebuild New Orleans? It’s patently absurd to suggest there’s anything wrong with an organization designed to raise awareness about poverty actually working to raise awareness about poverty." ” Jonathan Prince as quoted in The New York Times

According to this The New York Times report, former Senator and current presidential candidate John Edwards used Center for Promise and Opportunity funds (a tax-exempt non-profit obstensibly created to help the poor) to pay for his expenses while campaigning for the poor (and simultaneously keeping his name in the news - campaigning in Iowa, making appearances on tv, meeting corporate executives, etc).

Proving he used the non-profit's money to defray the costs of his political campaign would be extremely difficult since he could say he was campaigning for the anti-poverty cause but this does appear unseemly. The Center's money should be spent at the local level by its regional directors for anti-poverty programs. Spending donor money on a potential candidate's campaign trips tarnishes its repuation as a non-profit charity.

Mr. Edwards should forgo the use of the Center's money until the election season is over.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


"A 73-year-old man who failed his 10th grade high school exams for the 39th time vowed Friday to try again next year in the hopes that an education will improve his job and marriage prospects." - excerpt from this news article from The Washington POst


Realism in the Middle East and Two Illusions

The editorial writers at The Washington Post seem to get the picture.

Illusion 1: Separation Means a New Chance At Reviving the Peace Process

"But reports of his telephone conversation with Mr. Bush on Tuesday suggested he may mainly wait for Israel to make concessions, such as removing soldiers and settlers from the West Bank or negotiating the creation of a Palestinian state. While there are some steps Israel could and should take, such as releasing prisoners, this is more wishful thinking. Israel's security services fear that a reduction in West Bank checkpoints would lead quickly to terrorist attacks, while the politically enfeebled Mr. Olmert can hardly be expected to dismantle entrenched Jewish settlements or agree with Mr. Abbas on issues such as the final disposition of Jerusalem."

Illusion 2: Containing Hamas Through Separation

"The most dangerous illusion to emerge from the U.S.-Israeli discussions is the idea that Hamas can be isolated in Gaza while Mr. Abbas is built up in the West Bank. The Palestinian president is unlikely to abandon the 1.5 million people of Gaza to a de facto military and economic siege. If he does, Hamas will use its own forces to ensure that the West Bank also is ungovernable or to start a new war with Israel. As repugnant as its terrorism and ideology are, Hamas won a free election and still has the support of a large part of the Palestinian population. It cannot be abolished by decree, and isolation will only make it more radical and more dependent on sponsors in Syria and Iran."

Not that I haven't pointed this out:

"Whatever demarcation Israel and its western allies will impose may not be recognized by the Palestinian people, let alone the established rival authorities set up in the West Bank and Hamas. Palestinians in the West Bank may swear their allegiance to the ruling Hamas party in the Gaza Strip and vice versa. Hamas may blame the Jews in general or the Israelis as a whole for occupied territories' partition, formenting more hatred in the region."

No. Those hoping beyond hope for peace in the Middle East will have to wait a long time. All we could do is hope that moderate Israelis and Palestinians will lay the groundwork for the future talks they will at some point have in the distant future.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sounds Weird

“We are thrilled to have them appear together for the first time” - Kathleen Strand, talking about Hillary and Bill Clinton's plan to campaign together in New Hampshire next month.

Gee, and I thought they were married.

"Don't Ask, Who Cares"

This may be old news to those who follow these issues but former Representative Bob Barr now believes gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Mr. Barr, once again has aligned himself with those whose practices he does not like. Now if only we could get the Christian right and the secular left, particularly those still in power, to defend their opponents when their rights are threatened.

Enter Michael Bloomberg?

"We do not have to settle for the same old politics. We do not have to accept the tired debate between the left and right, between Democrats and Republicans, between Congress and the White House. We can and we must declare a ceasefire - and move America forward.

"While a ceasefire is essential, it must also be followed by change. Real change - not the word, but the deed. Not slogans, but a fundamentally different way of behaving - one built on cooperation and collaboration. And it is needed now - because more than ever, Washington is sinking into a swamp of dysfunction." - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a conference in California

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was leaving the Republican Party and registering as a political independent, fueling speculation that he will run for the White House as an independent even though the self-made billionnaire said "nothing has changed" and "has no intention" of running. Mayor Bloomberg has done little to quash the speculation. He may, as some guests on tonight's edition of "Hardball" suggested, biding his time to see who the Democrats and Republicans pick as their nominees. One commentator said Mr. Bloomberg probably won't run if he faces Senator Barack Obama who, it is said, appeals to voters on all sides of the political spectrum but may get in if the Democrats pick the more poloarizing Hillary Clinton.

One pundit said Mayor Bloomberg could hurt Rudolph Giuliani's campaign for the White House as journalists compare and contrast both of their records as New York City's last two mayors.

Should he enter the race as an independent, Bloomberg could take votes away from Republican and Democrat alike (though more so from the Democrats) for different reasons. Democrats who don't like Hillary Clinton will be drawn to his liberal credentials. Mayor Bloomberg supports abortion rights, gay marriage, stricter gun control bans, a liberal immigration law like the one proposed by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain, his successful push to ban smoking in New York City's bars and his proposed "congestion" fee for commuters driving onto New York City's crowded streets. Republicans who vote against their party's nominee will generally come from the northeast's suburban communities. The Republicans in these communities support generally support environmental regulations, abortion rights, gun regulations, and gay rights. They would like his push to reform the public school system in New York City without pushing for school vouchers and his call for bipartisanship.

Mayor Bloomberg says the Republicans and Democrats, too consumed with placating their voting base, have offered no solution to the entitlement reform, health insurance, education, the environment and the war in Iraq. Should he offer an innovative platform of his own, he might appeal to the Republicans, Democrats, and independents who do not subscribe to the checklist politics offered by today's Republican and Democratic candidates.

Bloomberg: The Text

I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city.

A nonpartisan approach has worked wonders in New York: we’ve balanced budgets, grown our economy, improved public health, reformed the school system and made the nation’s safest city even safer.

We have achieved real progress by overcoming the partisanship that too often puts narrow interests above the common good. As a political independent, I will continue to work with those in all political parties to find common ground, to put partisanship aside and to achieve real solutions to the challenges we face.

Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology. Working together, there’s no limit to what we can do.
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-New York)

Abbas' Recognition

It didn't take Israeli, American, and European Union officials long to back Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the power struggle that for now led to the Palestinian territories' de facto partition into a Hamas-led Gaza Strip and Fatah-led West Bank. Israli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government will release frozen Palestinian tax funds while European Union promised to renew its ties to the Palestinians and transfer "urgent economic assistance" through channels Hamas could not use.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said President Bush backed Mr. Abbas "legitimate decision to form an emergency government of responsible Palestinian citizens, "welcomed" Salam Fayyad's appointment as Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's replacement, and resume humanitarian aid offered to the Palestinians before Hamas ousted Fatah from the Palestinian Authority's Legislative Council.

Dr. Rice said the administration will help Fayyad's government manage the "up to 86 million" given to bolster the territories' security forces and give $40 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to ease the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Our Secretary of State dismissed any notion that the United States was backing Palestine's de facto partition but she sidestepped questions conerning any U.S.-backed push to retake the Gaza Strip from Hamas and a recommitment to the peace process.

Mr. Abbas apparently told U.S. President George W. Bush that he wants to the now defunct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks revived. Peace talks might bolster his standing within the Palestinian community but calls to pressure the Isralis back to the negotiating table are premature. Hamas may solidify its control in the Legislative Council in the national elections Mr. Abbas would have to call for in two months and Hamas-led fanatics may overrun Fatah security force guardposts in the West Bank, forcing moderates from power in the West Bank.

The P.A.'s president no doubt selected the right man to win American, Israeli and European Union's support - Salam Fayad. Israelis think he is the Palesitnians' most reliable negotiator. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should return the favor and pledge to meet or send a high ranking official to meet with the new government. While future peace talks at this point seem premature, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators should implement trust building mechanisms that would eventually help the negotiations get back on track. Israeli negotiators would cede more land to the Palestinians if they believed Abbas and the moderates would keep the peace in the lands they under their control. Palestinian Authority negotiators might be willing to arrest suspected terrorists if the Israelis suspended ongoing settlement expansion projects in the West Bank.

Just a Reminder

"Since Bush came in, we've added a lot of Wal-Mart and McDonald's jobs, but you can't support a family on that," - likely voter Dean Dobson, as quoted in The Des Moines Register

Mr. Dobson told the reporter he likes Mr. Romney's appeal to the conservative [heterosexual] "family values" platform and plans to vote for him should Republican voters select him as their presidential nominee.

Some people take from but to not subscribe to everything on the conservative and liberal political menus.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thought For The Day

"A concern I have had is that, and both General Petraeus and I have articulated it, that there are two clocks, and the Washington clock is running a lot faster than the Baghdad clock." Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, on "Meet The Press" on NBC.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Weekend Update

Sorry to all the viewers out there looking for a weekend update this weekend since the PoliticalHeretic will be visiting family out of state. He wishes everyone a happy and safe weekend. The PoliticalHeretic thanks his viewers for their loyalty and patience and promises to return to his regular blogging on Monday.

Gay Marriage Preserved!

How fitting that this vote took place during gay pride month.

Had the anti-gay crowd opted to constitutionalize civil unions in their gay marriage ban they might have gained the 50 votes needed to put it on the ballot. It's their loss and our gain, in spite of our reckless and premature push for gay marriage in a state where amendments could easily make it on the ballot, they lost big time.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Postive Spin on the Palestinian Partition

The positive spin on Hamas' victory in the Gaza Strip.

"The de facto division between Gaza and the West Bank would allow Israel to maintain its boycott of Hamas in Gaza while utilizing the emergence of a political partner in the West Bank for the first time in many years.

In this context, Israel should consider strengthening Abbas by transferring funds, renewing free movement for trade and lifting constraints on cooperation with Fatah members.

For its part, Hamas may find that its victory over Fatah is only the beginning of its problems. The group will need to deal with a hostile international community, tension with Egypt, internal ideological divisions and provision of services to Gaza's civilian population. Similar to King Pyrrhus, whose victory over the Romans was so costly that his men were later defeated, Hamas may find that though it won the battle, it has ultimately lost the war."

Hamas' victory in the Gaza Strip may no doubt come back to haunt them. The militants have given the Israelis, their Middle East neighbors, the Europeans, and the United States the excuse they need to cut funds that could be funnelled to the militants.
Moderates who want to support the Palestinian nationalist movement can now do so without aiding terrorists associated with Hamas.

Questions, however, remain. Whatever demarcation Israel and its western allies will impose may not be recognized by the Palestinian people, let alone the established rival authorities set up in the West Bank and Hamas. Palestinians in the West Bank may swear their allegiance to the ruling Hamas party in the Gaza Strip and vice versa. Hamas may blame the Jews in general or the Israelis as a whole for occupied territories' partition, formenting more hatred in the region.

Chris Matthews At His Best and At His Worst

First, at his best:

"Twenty years ago, the Senate passed Simpson-Mazzoli. I worked on the Hill at the time. They basically legalized everybody in the country illegally. The word went out south below the border, If you get into America, North America, and you stay here long enough, eventually, they‘ll legalize you, so just get up there -- 12 million people did that. If you legalize everyone here who‘s now illegally, those 12 million, won‘t you have 30 million coming up illegally because they‘ll have gotten the word, Just hide from the government long enough to stay available, and the United States will eventually legalize you. Isn‘t that the message you‘re sending, if you do it Bush‘s way?"

Now if he could only let his guests answer (or more likely dodge) the question so he could issue a follow-up that undermines their argument.

At his Worst, the subject - Fred Thompson.

"Does he have sex appeal? I‘m looking at this guy and I‘m trying to find out the new order of things, and what works for women and what doesn‘t. Does this guy have some sort of thing going for him that I should notice?"

Ana Marie Cox doesn't find him attractive but who knows. Will he show us his waist line or give us a sneak peak at his underwear?

What's the point? No pun intended.


Fit For Print But Not To Air: 3

Former Wisconsin Govermor Tommy Thompson visited Bedford where he portrayed himself as an experienced, innovative governor who has and will govern. Governor Thompson said he wants the election to focus on health care and specifically, the choices we as citizens can do to bring health care's rising costs down. Governor Thompson said he hopes to do well in the straw poll (that two frontrunners will not participate in) and use the earned media coverage that would follow to catapult him into first place. (Don't count on it. That "earned media" which he believes he is not yet entitled to is required to offset the advantage "front tier" candidates like Senator John McCain of Arizona, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney have. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said he wasn't too pleased with the questions he was asked at the primary debates so far. Former Senator John Edwards said he wnn't look for "yes men" in his Cabinet while comapaigning in Exeter but if this poll is correct, he has a long campaign ahead of him. Senator Sam Brownback reiterated his support for a culture of life and won some unwarranted praise from a conservative who wrongly attributed to him the idea of a three-way partition of Iraq. Representative Tom Tancredo, meanwhile has not strayed from his anti-illegal immigration message, winning him John McCain's disapproval.

Election quotes of interest:

1. "I'm good with ideas," - former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, reminding us that he isn't bad with ideas.

2. "If you don't do anything, it's de facto amnesty. It's silent amnesty." - Senator John McCain, forgetting that border enforcement would be a divergence from the status quo.

3. "Look at what immigration has done here in the United States. The fact is that the country's growth has been to a large extent the result of immigration, both legal and illegal." - Representative Tom Tacnredo speaking like an environmental activist. Tommorw he might speak about the immigrants' inability to purchase hybrid cars.


New Poll

Former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney apparently is gaining some traction among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in New Hampshire according tothe most recent CNN /WMUR poll. Likely primary voters give neither Romney, or his two closest competitors an edge on leadership quality while McCain scores some points for taking politically unpopular opinions but Romney outscores the others in likeability. Self-identified conservatives are leaning towards Romney while moderates are leaning towards Senator John McCain or former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giualiani. Mr. Romney scores well among older voters, and Catholics (maybe its the Mormon sympathy factor?), while Giuliani wins the younger generation (who generally don't vote) and the secularist Republicans/independents (not a major constituency in the Republican Party as a whole).

The likely Republican primary voters who were polled say the war in Iraq and illegal immigration concern them most but this isn't surprising. Republicans generally don't vote for a candidates pushing for new entitlement programs (like health care) and New Hampshire voters probably don't expect terrorists to launch an attack in their predominantly rural state. A significant number of voters (23%), however said they were concerned about some unmentioned "other issues." How this translates into votes is anybody's guess.

No one was asked to name the "other issue" that concerned them most nor were any of the likely voters asked what, if any issue, is leading them to back one of the candidates.

Nearly 1/2 of the respondents said they did not watch the full debate which is odd, given that 40% said they were "extremely interested" in the New Hampshire primary conducted in January. Go figure.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Palestinian Infighting and the Roadmap to Nowhere

"The two-state solution has finally worked," a Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip commented sarcastically. "Today, all our enemies have good reason to celebrate." - from The Jerusalem Post

"On Sunday, Hamas military forces captured 28-year-old Muhammad Swairki, a cook for President Mahmoud Abbas's presidential guard, and executed him by throwing him to his death, with his hands and legs tied, from a 15-story apartment building in Gaza City. Later that night, Fatah military forces shot and captured Muhammad al-Ra'fati, a Hamas supporter and mosque preacher, and threw him from a Gaza City high-rise apartment building. On Monday, Hamas military forces attacked the home in Beit Lahiya of Jamal Abu al-Jadiyan, a senior Fatah official, captured him, and executed him on the street with multiple gunshots. On Tuesday, there were reports of additional killings of individuals not involved in hostilities." from The Jerusalem Post

Any hope moderate Israelis and Palestinians had in reviving the stalled Middle East peace process initiated by late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is quickly fading. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not have Arafat's nationalist credentials - credentials he earned fighting his people's Israeli occupiers. Now Hamas party, which ousted Fatah as the ruling party in territory wide legislative elections last year, is poised to oust Fatah loyalists from its security posts in the Gaza Strip.

The battle for the Gaza Strip will have no short term effect on the Middle East peace process in the short term since the Israelis have no intention of negotating with a Palestinian administration that cannot uphold its end of the bargain.

Yasser Arafat didn't confront Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or any would-be supporter of terorism. He balked when the Israeis demanded the arrest of Palestinian militants it held responsible for commiting acts of terrorism on Israeli soil, and allowed armed shipments into the Gaza Strip, forfeiting the limited trust Israelis placed in him.

Like his predecessor, Mr. Abbas pointedly refused to arrest Palestinian militants and instead opted to broker a cease fire between the Israelis and Palestinian militants. He at first succeeded but no one capitalized on that success, a depriving him of the political capital he could then take back to his people. President George W. Bush was too bogged down in the Iraq War to pressure the Israelis to return the favor and the Israelis themselves did not believe the cease-fire would hold.

The Israelis are by no means blameless. Israeli prime minister after prime minister refused to halt settlement expansions in the West Bank Palestinians hoped to claim as their own in future negotiations but to their credit, they did, under the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, disband the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas capitalized on the Israeli pull out, attributing the Israeli troop withdrawal to their armed resistance and refusal to negotiate. Voters, frustrated with the government's incompetence and corruption, gave Hamas control in the National Assembly. Hamas legislators have no reason to negotiate with the Israelis. Their opposition to Israel's right to exist sets them apart and their opposition to negotiations deprives Mr. Abbas and Fatah from capitalizing on a political victory that bolsters their nationalist credentials.

They are now solidifying their control in the Gaza Strip while Fatah bolsters its support in the West Bank. Mr. Abbas can longer claim he speaks for the Palestinian people at large at the negotiating table. He can not offer Israelis the guarantee of any cease-fires, let alone the peace this as well as future Israeli administrations will need in order to extract further territorial concessions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dilemma - Catch 22: the Iran/US Setup

"A war between the "crusaders" and the "Safavids" would benefit the jihad against both groups: by pitting two of its worst enemies against each other, the Sunni Arab jihadi community would be killing two birds with one stone. Al Qaeda would especially like a full-scale U.S. invasion and occupation of Iran, which would presumably oust the Shiite regime in Tehran, further antagonize Muslims worldwide, and expand al Qaeda's battlefield against the United States so that it extends from Anbar Province in the west to the Khyber Pass in the east. It understands that the U.S. military is already too overstretched to invade Iran, but it expects Washington to use nuclear weapons. Baghdadi has told Sunnis in Iran to evacuate towns close to nuclear installations.

The biggest danger is that al Qaeda will deliberately provoke a war with a "false-flag" operation, say, a terrorist attack carried out in a way that would make it appear as though it were Iran's doing. The United States should be extremely wary of such deception."The United States should be extremely wary of such deception. In the event of an attack, accurately assigning blame will require very careful intelligence work. It may require months, or even years, of patient investigating to identify the plotters behind well-planned and well-executed operations, as it did for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1996 attacks on the U.S. barracks at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton were wise to be patient in both those cases; Washington would be well advised to do the same in the event of a similar attack in the future. In the meantime, it should, of course, continue do its utmost to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and from fomenting violence and terrorism in the Middle East by using tough diplomacy and targeted sanctions. And it should not consider a military operation against Iran, as doing so would only strengthen al Qaeda's hand -- much as the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have.
- Bruce Riedel in Foreign Affairs

Of course the question would be how much time the president thinks the public would give him before he must respond "as swiftly as is prudent" (using one presidential candidate's terminology).

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Weekend Preview

Well, I started this on Thursday anyway. This won't be revised to include further updates since I will be leaving for the weekend. Commentary will continue on Monday. Hope you all enjoy your weekend.


1. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 8:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton. (a) Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (R). (b) Jeff Gerth and Don Van Hatta Jr. on their new book "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton." This show is re-aired on MSNBC at 10:00 PM ET).
Hosted by Tim Russert.

2. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Check back here later. This show is re-aired on the FOX News Channel at 6:00 PM ET. Hosted by Chris Wallace.

3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topics This Week - election 2008, immigration reform. (a) "On The Campaign Trail" Series - Senator John McCain on the immigration reform bill and the war in Iraq. (b) Roundtable on this week's politics (probably immigration reform bill and the two debates hosted by CN) with ABC News Consultant Torie Clark, Time Magazine's Jay Carney, ABC's Claire Shipman, and George Will. (c) Voices - check the web site later or tomorrow. (d) Sunday Funnies. Hosted by George Stephanopoulos.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):
Topics This Week - Check back here later. Hosted by Bob Schieffer.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Check back here later. Hosted by Wolf Blitzer.


1. "Beltway Boys" on the FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - Check back here later. Hosted by Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

2. "FOX News Watch" on the FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET): Topics This Week - Paris Hilton in jail/out of jail and other unannounced topics to check back here later. Co-panelists include Cal Thomas, Jim Pinkerton, Jane Hall, Neil Gabler and host Eric Burns.

3. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - the Democratic Party's faith and the Republican's immigration problem. (a) Democratic Party's electoral prospects by appealing to faith. (b) divisions within the GOP over immigration reform. Panelists to include Katty Kay of the BBC, Joe Heilemann of The New York Times, Michelle Norris of NPR, Howard Fineman of Newsweek and host Chris Matthews.

4. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET): CNN doesn't offer a preview for this show but anyone who is interested in watching it can tune in on Sunday mornings at the posted time or read the transcripts that are posted on CNN's web site. "Reliable Sources" is hosted by Howard Kurtz.


1. "Big Story Weekend" on the FOX News Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - Check back here later. Hosted by Julie Banderas.

2. "Heartland" on the FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9:00 PM ET): Updates for this show have not been forthcoming on show's home web page but if there is one it will be posted here as well. This show is hosted by John Kasich. Hosted by John Kasich.


1. "20/20" on ABC on (Friday at 10:00 PM ET): Topics This Week - Murder for a Prom and Princess Diana. (a) Motive behind minister's murder might rely upon son's desire to attend his own prom. (b) "The Diana Chronicles" - Tina Brown's story of the late Princess of Wales. Hosted by John Stossel.

2. "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (Saturday at 10:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - "Dark Voyage." - aspiring actress dies under mysterious circumstnaces. Reported by Bill Lagatutta.

3. CNN Special Investigations Unit on CNN (Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 PM ET):
Topic This Week - "The War Within." the battle for young British Muslims' minds while the war in Iraq inflames the extremists. Hosted by Christiane Amanpour. Note: This show, according to this schedule, will be aired at 11:00 PM ET while CNN replays the Democratic forum on politics and faith (between Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards) and the highglights from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

4. "CBS News Sunday Morning" on CBS (Sunday at 9:00 AM ET): Topics This Week - Check back here later. Hosted by Charles Osgood.

5. "60 Minutes" on CBS (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET):
Topics This Week - Barry Diller, the no fly list, tsunamies. (a) The No Fly List - list includes the Bolivian president, dead people, those with common names and others who more than likely would not partake in terrorism. Reported by Steve Kroft. (b) Barry Diller - profile on the one who started HSN and QVC is making it big on the internet with and Ticketmaster. Reported by Leslie Stahl. (c) The Sea Gypsies - the Mokens on Southeast Asia know what the sea receding leads to - tsunamies. Reported by Bob simon. (d) Commentary - Andy Rooney.

6. "Dateline on NBC" on NBC (Sunday at 7:00 PM ET): Topic This Week - DNA Evidence. young man sentenced to death row for fingerprints but new evidence may clear him. Reported by Keith Morrison.


1. "Law and Order" on NBC (Friday at 10:00 PM ET):
Pedophile and Vigilantes. Outed pedophile is murdered. Regular stars include Sam Waterston as Executive Assistand District Attorney Jack McCoy, Alana De La Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Jessie 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 11:30 PM ET):
Repeat. Actor Alec Baldwin hosts with musical guest Christina Aguilera.

3. Tony Awards on CBS (Sunday at 8:00 PM ET): The 61st Annual Tony Awards.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Debate Line

If anyone missed the debate you could it here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Winners and Losers in the Republican Debate

The Winners

1. Senator John McCain: The senator from Arizaona found his voice and spoke passionately in favor of the war in Iraq twice, in the beginning of the debate and then when asked by a member of the audience who lost a relative in the war in Iraq. His support for the immigration bill probably won him accolades from those who, whether they disagree with him or not on this bills since he is taking the unpopular position within the Republican base. Since he performed above expectations he is a clear winner.

2. Former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani: The mayor offered a few one-liners. He poked some fun at his religious liberalism when interrupted by lightning strikes, offered a diplomatic answer to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"," and blamed the media for its perceived anti-Iraq War bias. Giuliani's ironic humor showed through when he pointed his finger up (to, it is presumed, his God) after he lost his mike.

3. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: Performed below expectations and could not match Giuliani's tact and humor or McCain's passion. Mitt Romney used the questions to regurgitate his platform.

4. Senator Sam Brownback: Doesn't have the charisma his conservative rival Mike Huckabee has. Continues to insist that he is proposing a three-way divide among Iraq's Kurdish, Sunni, and Shia ethnoreligious factions when in fact Senator Joe Biden and Leslie Gelb proposed it first.

5. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:
By now it should be clear to all who watch these debates that Mike Huckabee outperforms all of the other misnamed "second tier" candidates vying to be the conservative alternative to the media's presumed frontrunners. His praching definitely helped him in these debates.

6. Representative Tom Tancredo:
Came out a loser in this debate. Too petty and too hostile towards immigrants (the legal kind included).

7. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson:
Like Senator Sam Brownback, the former Governor has broken from his party on the war in Iraq in so far as he believes in a political solution involving Iraq's separation. Republican primary voters will probably stick with Bush's troop surge plan, however so the governor won't get credit for his plan. His joke on Mr. Bush's relationship with the United Nations and the international community in general fell flat.

8. Representative Duncan Hunter: Generally does good in these debates. Offers himself as the more palatable standard-bearer for those who oppose illegal immigration. Offers the protectionist trade policies.

9. Former Virginia Governor James Gilmore:
Did nothing to break through.

10. Representative Ron Paul: Did pretty good, winning the spectators' applause on several occasions. Brought up an interesting point about the illegal immigration debate - if there were no entitlement programs, the resentment would be far weaker since the illegal immigrants would not be raiding something American citizens seek.


For What It's Worth

Quotes from the Republican Debate

Transcripts can be found here.

1. Plan for Iraq

a. "But the issue is, is that we’ve got to put forward now a political plan. And that’s something I’m going to introduce tomorrow, a political plan to create a three-state solution in Iraq — a Kurdish state, a Sunni state, a Shi’a state — because Iraq is more three groups held together by exterior forces." - Senator Sam Brownback in last night's debate.

Comment: Senator Brownback is misleading the public into thinking the plan to divide Iraq into a Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni mini-states is his idea. By suggesting that he is introducing the legislation, the public would think this split is his idea when in fact Senator Joe Biden has been pushing for this plan B months long before Brownback got involved.

b. "I am convinced that if we fail and we have to withdraw, they will follow us home. It will be a base for al Qaeda, and we will be facing greater challenges and greater sacrifices than that already made by Matthew Stanley and his family.

There is no doubt in my mind that this will become a base for terrorism, there will be chaos in the region.

And when Senator Clinton says this is Mr. Bush’s war, that this is President Bush’s war — when President Clinton was in power, I didn’t say that Bosnia, our intervention there was President Clinton’s war. When we intervened in Kosovo, I didn’t say it was President Clinton’s war."
- Senator John McCain (R-Arizona)

"It’s not, and I want to tell you, thank you for your brother’s service and sacrifice to our country. We are proud of you and your endurance, and we’re proud of your sacrifice.

This war — I’m going to give you a little straight talk. This war was very badly mismanaged for a long time, and Americans have made great sacrifices, some of which were unnecessary because of this management of the — mismanagement of this conflict.

I believe we have a fine general. I believe we have a strategy which can succeed, so that the sacrifice of your brother would not be in vain; that a whole 20 or 30 million people would have a chance to live a free life in an open society and practice their religion no matter what those differences are.

And I believe if we fail, it will become a center of terrorism, and we will ask more young Americans to sacrifice, as your brother did.

This is long and hard and tough, but I think we can succeed. And God bless you."
- Senator John McCain again.

c. "The first thing the president should do is demand the al-Maliki government to vote as to whether or not they want the United States to stay in Iraq. We’ve been there four years. Give the government the responsibility of voting. If they vote yes, how are they going to help us win this war? And if they vote no, we should redeploy our forces outside.

Secondly, there are 18 territories in Iraq, geographically defined. Those 18 territories, just like 50 states in America, should elect their state leaders. And if they do so, the Shi’ites will elect Shi’ites, Sunnis will elect Sunnis, Kurds will elect Kurds. And you know something? People will go to those particular territories and you get rid of the civil war, internecine.

I would like to have the oil revenue proceeds — very quickly —— oil revenue proceeds split: one third to the federal government, one third to the states, and one third to every man woman and child, and that will get everybody a stake in their country."
- former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson

d. "Well, Wolf, you know, I read that NIE report, and I held the briefings before we made the vote to go in. I’d invited everybody, Democrat and Republican, to get the classified information.

And this depends — the turnover of the security apparatus depends on one thing — reliable Iraqi forces. You got 129 Iraq battalions; we’ve trained them up. We’ve got a lot of them in the fight. Over the next three to four months, we need to get them all in the fight, get them that combat capability. When they’re combat- hardened, we rotate them in, we displace American heavy combat forces off that battlefield, and Americans come home."
- Representative Duncan Hunter

Comment: well, we tried that, for a while now, ceding to the Iraqis patrols to no avail, forcing us to bring more troops in.

e. "However, if it is apparent that we cannot, then we have to do and tell the Iraqis the exact same thing that Benjamin Franklin said when he came out of the convention in 1787 and somebody said to him, “Dr. Franklin, what have you given us?” And he said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” It is exactly that time and it is exactly that thing that we have to say to the Iraqi government. We have given you this. We bought it with our blood and sweat. It is now up to you to keep it." - Representative Tom Tancredo.

2. Immigration Reform
"No. No, because that bill — probably the fence was my weakest reason for doing that, but for other reasons — to enforce the law — was important, and border security is important. And we’ve talked about amnesty, which I’m positively opposed to.

But one thing that has not been mentioned here, which I think is very, very important — if you subsidize something, you get more of it. So — we subsidize illegal immigration, we reward it by easy citizenship, either birthright or amnesty.

But we force our states and our local communities to pay for the health care and pay for the education. Why wouldn’t they bring their families? And because of our economic conditions, we do need workers. But if we had a truly free market economy, the illegal immigrants would not be the scapegoat. We would probably need them and they would be acceptable, but because of economic conditions, they have become the scapegoat."
- Reprseentative Ron Paul

b. "Abraham Lincoln defined what an American is better than I’m going to be able to do it or Congressman Tancredo or anyone on the stage. Abraham Lincoln, who fought the know-nothing movement, said being an American is not whether you came over on the Mayflower or you came here yesterday. How much do you believe in freedom? How much do you believe in freedom of religion? How much do you believe in freedom for women? How much do you believe in the right to vote? How much do you believe in the rule of law?" - Rudolph Giuliani

c. "No, I disagree with that. I think that there are a number of people that we should welcome into this country. And it’s — certainly engineers and doctors and scientists that we may need legally coming here. What we need to do is to have a border that is sealed and the same kind of process that we have to go through if we go into a stadium. We go in one at a time and we have a ticket. That’s the only thing I think Americans really are asking us for is a sane, sensible system that’s based on the idea that if you come here, that you come here through the same process that we would be expected to go through if we went to another country, which is not happening today." - former Arkansas Mike Huckabee

d. "We need to enforce our borders. There is indeed a special path, it’s especially hard, it’s eight to 13 years.

My friends, we know what we’re talking about is the latest wave of migrants into this country. We have to stop the illegal immigration, but we’ve had waves throughout our history. Hispanics is what we’re talking about, a different culture, a different language, which has enriched my state where Spanish was spoken before English was.

My friends, I want you the next time you’re down in Washington, D.C. to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite. You’ll find a whole lot of Hispanic names. When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today, you’re going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background. You’re even going to meet some of the few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they’re willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation."
- Senator John McCain

Comment: Well, what of the gays whose names are now on tombstones?

e. "We talk about all the immigration reform we want, and what it’s got to get down to is this: Are we ready for a timeout? Are we actually ready to say, “Enough is enough”? We have to stop all legal immigration except for the — for people coming into this country as family members, immediate family members, and/or refugees. Are we willing to actually say that and say enough — is it — we have got to actually begin the process of assimilating people who have come in this great wave of immigration. The process of assimilation is not going on.

And how long? How long will it take us for that — for us to catch up with the millions of people who have come here, both legally and illegally, and assimilate them? I’ll tell you this. It’ll take this long: until we no longer have to press 1 for English and 2 for any other language."
- Representative Tom Tancredo
3. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

a. "No, actually, when I first heard of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, I thought it sounded awfully silly. I didn’t think that would be very effective. And I turned out to be wrong. It’s been the policy now in the military for what, 10, 15 years, and it seems to be working. And I agree with what Mayor Giuliani said: that this is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on. I wouldn’t change it at this point. We can look at down the road." - former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Comment: Did Mitt Romney ever flip-flop to the left in this election season? No. Is it a coincidence? Hmmm.

b. "We have the best-trained, most professional, best- equipped, most efficient, most wonderful military in the history of this country, and I’m proud of every one of them. (Applause.) There just aren’t enough of them. So I have to rely on our military leadership, who — in whom we place the responsibility to lead these brave young Americans in combat as we speak.

So I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. It is working, my friends. The policy is working. And I am convinced that that’s the way we can maintain this greatest military. As much as revere the “Greatest Generation,” as much as love my own generation, this is the very best. Let’s not tamper with them."
- Senator John McCain

c. "This is not the time to deal with disruptive issues like this. Back in 1994 we went through this and it created a tremendous amount of disruption. Colin Powell, I think, was still the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before he left at the beginning of the Clinton administration. He came to the view that this was a good policy. And I think in time of war, in a time where we’re trying to deal with this transition to a new kind of warfare that we have to be fighting — and we haven’t gotten all the way there yet, we need a hybrid army, we need to look at nation-building as part of what we have to teach our military — I don’t think this would be the right time to raise these issues." - former New York City Rudolph Giualiani.