Monday, April 28, 2008

MEET THE DISTRESSED: RUSSERT INTERVIEWS DEAN


I can only imagine how poor Howard Dean feels these days. If you didn't see Sunday's Meet the Press interview (I missed it, as well), read the transcript here (link). Some excerpts:




MR. RUSSERT: So your personal view is that even if someone has won more elected delegates, if you think the other person would be a stronger candidate against John McCain, you'd opt for the other person?



DR. DEAN: Tim, that is not my personal view. My personal view is, I am the chairman of this party, we have a set of rules that have been in place for a year and a half, and I am the person who's in charge of upholding the rules whether I like them or not. Are there some rules I might change next time around? Yeah, maybe so. But right now we're focusing on the rules we have. Look, that's all we've got. No--I feel like I'm the referee here at the NCAA finals. You know, you make some calls, but if you stick to the rules and do the right thing according the rules, you're going to end up with a decent process. And that's what we have to do.



MR. RUSSERT: The rules are the superdelegates do not have to...



DR. DEAN: That's correct.



MR. RUSSERT: ...abide by the vote, vote of the electorate.



DR. DEAN: Right. And I might--that's correct--and I might add that never in my time as going to these conventions, which has been back to 1980, have I ever seen that not happen. I've never seen a situation where the, where the unpledged delegates didn't essentially end up voting the same way the pledged delegates did.




Howard Dean is such a clown, it's hard to believe he was the last Democrat "phenomenon," before Barack Obama. Russert gives him a good grilling. Here's a good example of Dean's "dodging" technique:




MR. RUSSERT: So I'm--I want to focus on this unity question because when you talked to the NAACP in 2005 you were talking about black and white Americans. And you said, "The one thing the Democratic Party will never do, we'll--we will never divide Americans to win elections. We'll never do that." And black Americans heard that and listened to it, and they point to this, Governor. In 2004 here is the black vote: Bush 11, Kerry 88 percent. In 2000: Bush 9 percent, Gore 90 percent. And now many African-Americans, Congressman Clyburn and others, are saying, in effect, if Barack Obama ends this contest with more elected delegates and the superdelegates decide, "Well, you know what? We're not going to nominate him. We're going to opt for Hillary Clinton," what will black Americans do? What will black Democrats do who have been the most loyal component of the Democratic Party?



DR. DEAN: You know, I--this is, this is pretty hypothetical. There's a lot of if, if, if, and you and I have both raised teenagers and we both know you don't answer too may hypothetical questions before you get in a lot of trouble. So, you know, if, if, if, if. The, the--we don't divide people. The Republicans have scapegoated minority groups for a long time. First they pointed the fingers at African-Americans by calling what--affirmative action as a quota system. Then they pointed the finger at gay Americans with an anti-gay marriage stuff on all the ballots where gay marriage was already illegal anyway. Now they're pointing the fingers at immigrants and, by extension, Hispanic and Asian-Americans. We don't do that in this party. Now we happen to have an African-American candidate and a woman candidate, and clearly those groups of folks who have historically been disenfranchised in our political process have their favorites because there's an emotional pull towards those candidates. See, at the end of the day, we have to bring that together, and as I said at the opening of the show, the most important person to bring those folks together is the person who doesn't win.




He repeatedly tries to point blame and responsibility on to others, whether Republicans, or his party's nominees. He is the weakest national party leader the Dems have had in my lifetime. Read the whole transcript, for an insight into bad leadership skills. NBC ought to have called the show "Meet the Distressed" this Sunday. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ban Public Sector Unions From Making Political Contributions


Imagine that you could "contribute" money to your employer, in return for benefits well beond the amount you pay them. It sounds like a good deal, until the company goes bankrupt. That's what would happen in the free market, but when the employer is a local, state, or the federal government, they raise taxes to cover the cost. This is the situation when public sector unions are allowed to contribute money to political campaigns.



In NY State, public sector unions hold vast power over the political process, and the state is going bankrupt. All of the politicians who appoint the people to negotiate with the unions are recipients of union money, and "support" in their elections. Does anyone else see anything fishy about this?



Citizens have the right to lobby the government, for any reason. Businesses, unions, and just about any group of citizens are allowed to contribute to, and lobby government officials for any cause. The problem is that whereas a union nornaly is in negotiation with a private company over wages and benefits, public sector unions are in negotiation with government officials.



Their involvement in politics is unethical. It's one thing for a business, an environmental, group, or a private sector union to lobby for beneficial regulation. It's different when the people you are lobbying are your bosses, and you hold political power over them.



There are many facets to this issue, of course. The title of this piece is one of many ways to control wasteful spending by our governments. I'll be exploring the merits, and problems of this position in future posts. I'll leave you with two excerpts from George Will's latest column:




After 1962, when New York City signed the nation's first collective bargaining contract with teachers, teachers began changing from members of a respected profession into just another muscular faction fighting for more government money. Between 1975 and 1980 there were a thousand strikes involving a million teachers whose salaries rose as students' scores on standardized tests declined...



...In 1976, for the first time in its 119-year history, the National Education Association, the teachers union, endorsed a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, who repaid it by creating the Education Department, a monument to the premise that money and government programs matter most. At the NEA's behest, the nation has expanded the number of teachers much faster than the number of students has grown. Hiring more, rather than more competent, teachers meant more dues-paying union members.




Indeed, public sector unions are the only "growth" that unions can claim, recently. NYS JUDGES are thinking of starting a union, for cryin' out loud!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CLINTON SPANKS OBAMA IN PA: OPERATION CHAOS "ON SCHEDULE"


Sen. Clinton's strategy of trying to win the popular vote total, as well as the large "Democrat-leaning" general election states was surely bolstered by her decisive win in PA Tuesday night. She was outspent by a huge amount, and Obama was leading in at least one pre-election poll. If I can make a betting analogy, the line was "coming down" on her win margin. Last week, it had to be "double digits," but by Monday, the "line" was down to 7, because of a few screwy polls that threw the averages off.



Obama and Clinton both probably had access to better polling, which showed Clinton winning around her actual margin of victory, which was 10%. That's why Obama was in Indiana Tues. night. This win cements the ongoing success of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos," which is an effort to make this primary as chaotic, divisive, and damaging to the Democratic party, before the general election.



Before you start laughing, or getting ticked off, think about this: there were around 200,000 Republicans who switched to Democrats leading up to this primary. I'm sure a percentage of them voted for Obama, but I wouldn't trust any "exit poll" for that information. Either way, Sen. Clinton won by just over a 200,000 vote margin. Republican "covert agents" had to be a part of that margin. (I wish I could be one of them, even though Nora Ephron calls them "racist White men" - see Charles Signorile's post for link and good analysis.)



Democrats are getting what they asked for, when they created their primary nomination process. Hillary will fight until the end, on every front. No one can dispute that this is the most interesting primary race in recent history, and the precedents it breaks. I'm just sitting back, and enjoying the show.



This is a struggle for control of the Democratic party, between the Clintonistas, and MoveOn.org, which backs Obama. The funny part is that Sen. Clinton is the "moderate" in this fight, while Sen. Obama continues to have a growing list of "anti-American" supporters. While he can't control this, it is a legitimate area of inquiry. I'm not saying Sen. Clinton is any better; I just know what to expect from her. (Pardons of FALN terrorists, etc.) If she's OK with that, I shudder at what things Pres. Obama would contemplate. (Jimmy Carter redux.)



PS: Of course, I'm biased for Hillary, because my girlfriend is in the tank for her. We'll argue enough in the general election, so it's a good thing that I suport her primary candidate, whatever my motivation. GO HILLARY! (see WAR MACHINE image)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection; ACLU Upset


This is crossposted, with permission, from STOP THE ACLU. It was written by my buddy Jay. My take on this is at the bottom, in boldface.



The ACLU were at the frontlines on bringing this to through the courts. Their position is to abolish the death penalty completely, so any argument they made on the "cruelty" of the lethal injection mode was only to set up for a greater argument to have the death penalty completely abolished. It was a pre-cursor towards setting a precedent. It comes as no surprise that the dissenters were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.




Voting 7-2, the conservative court led by Chief Justice John Roberts rebuffed the latest assault on capital punishment, this time by foes focusing on methods rather than on the legality of the death penalty itself. Justice John Paul Stevens voted with the majority on the question of lethal injections but said for the first time that he now believes the death penalty is unconstitutional.



The court turned back a challenge to the procedures in place in Kentucky that employ three drugs to sedate, paralyze and kill inmates. Similar methods are used by roughly three dozen states.



Death penalty opponents said challenges to lethal injections would continue in states where problems with administering the drugs are well documented.



The case decided Wednesday was not about the constitutionality of the death penalty generally or even lethal injection. Instead, two Kentucky death row inmates contended that their executions could be carried out more humanely, with less risk of pain.



The inmates "have not carried their burden of showing that the risk of pain from maladministration of a concededly humane lethal injection protocol, and the failure to adopt untried and untested alternatives, constitute cruel and unusual punishment," Chief Justice John Roberts said in an opinion that garnered only three votes. Four other justices, however, agreed with the outcome.



Roberts also suggested that the court will not halt scheduled executions in the future unless "the condemned prisoner establishes that the state's lethal injection protocol creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain."



States can avoid this risk by using the three-drug procedure approved in the Kentucky case, Roberts said.




Of course the ACLU are upset:




The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, Baze v. Rees, an appeal by two men on Kentucky's death row. The ACLU argued that the controversial execution practice has been facilitated by the excessive secrecy surrounding the development and implementation of lethal injection protocols in most states.



The following can be attributed to ACLU Legal Director Steven R. Shapiro:



"The Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment was meant to embody evolving standards of decency. Properly understood, the standard should prohibit a method of execution that creates an unnecessary risk of excruciating pain. The Supreme Court today held otherwise and, in the process, upheld a lethal injection protocol that veterinarians in nearly half the states, including Kentucky, are prohibited from using when putting our pets to sleep."




Straight from the ACLU playbook. They embody the typical liberal...advocate of the "right" to kill innocent babies, defenders of guilty criminals. Good to see the Supreme Court used common sense, though Steven's opinion is worrisome.



From Chris:



I don't like Jay's "wrap-up" paragraph, because he invokes other issues that the ACLU is involved with. He was right, however, in asserting that their overall goal is the abolishment of the death penalty, and this was an opportunity for them to advance that cause. I would have pointed out that people on the left often care more for animals than humans, so the "veterinarian" comment was particularly funny. They know how to play to their target audience, I'll give them that.



I wonder if the methods of "putting pets to sleep" that ARE acceptable in Kentucky, and "nearly half the states" would be contested by the ACLU, if used by the state to execute prisoners. Somehow, I don't think that the ACLU would support them either. They just wouldn't be able to use such ridiculous rhetoric, in their press statements.



On the actual issue, I agree with Justice Roberts' conclusion. If you rule that "maladministration" of a procedure constitutes "cruel and unusual" punishment, then feeding inmates might be ruled unconstitutional, if it causes them suffering or sickness. There are remedies for "maladministration" of the death penalty injections, but ending lethal injection is too sweeping a judgement for the court to make.



This gets back to my oldest criticism of the ACLU. They find it easier to change, create, or destroy laws through the courts, instead of through legislative means, with popular support. STOP THE ACLU, and legislation through torts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hillary's "Crown Royal"

In a previous post (on my NEXTLEAV blog), I said "Now, I just hope Hillary's not having too many 'adult beverages.'" On cue, she gives us this image (link) of her, downing Crown Royal at "a bar." Again, I can't fault her. I'd be grateful for a "free drink," in her circumstances. Sometimes I think that my "offhand" comments are a little too prescient, but it's funny when I can directly highlight them this way. Of course, this whole post is "tongue in cheek."

PS: I'm not an advisor to Hillary's campaign, though perhaps I should be.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Bigmouth Strikes Again:" Sen. Barry O'Blarney

For your consideration, another quote from the fictional Sen. Barry O'Blarney:




"You go into some of these urban areas in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of big cities across the nation, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Sen. O'Blarney said.



"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns and gangs and antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-white sentiment, or anti-police sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," he said.




Would you vote for the fictional Sen. O'Blarney? How does his quote compare to the real Sen. Obama's quote:




"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama, an Illinois senator, said.



"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," he said.




I'm not going to vote for the real Sen. Obama, because he is a "big time" liberal, and I disagree with his policy positions. This post is an example of him using "identity politics," and turning it around, to show how offensive similar phrasing can sound, when seen from a different point of view.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Random Thoughts and Questions" from LEAVWORLD


I'm no Dr. Thomas Sowell, but he's one of my greatest influences. He makes me think, and I give him honors for that. To Dr. Sowell: "Thank you, sir," and pardon my ripping off of your "random thoughts on the passing scene" title. Think of this as an amateur "homage." I hope everyone who reads this gets a laugh, or a serious thought.



Mort Kondracke's latest column is about the problems in our education system. The problem with mister Kondracke's column is that it doesn't once mention "discipline," which is the the root cause of the US' lag behind the rest of the industrialized world in education. What good is "accountability" for teachers and principals, if there's no "accountability" applied to the the students? (read it here)



Congress is browbeating Ambassador Crocker about Iraqi "political progress" during the "surge." The US Congress itself has been dithering on reform of Medicare, general health care, Social Security, energy, immigration, and many other huge issues for decades. I would remind Congress that the formative years of any nation emerging from tyranny are bound to be filled with missteps, as our own nation's history clearly illustrates. The Iraqis are moving faster on their domestic political front than our Congress did in the 1700's, or our current day.



At work, I call everyone "sir," "ma'am," or "miss." I don't expect my customers to reciprocate, though many do. I got an apology from a customer tonight, after he complained about my "attitude." He didn't realize, until we had a little "argument," that his calling me "homeboy" was not the way to initiate a professional conversation. For the record, I bust chops on people who call me "dude," as well (sometimes worse). I try to treat all people the same, especially when giving lessons in etiquette.



Back to education: The US could benefit by expanding the "exchange student" program to grade schools, preferably with eastern Europe.. Unlike in the '70's, when foreigners came to the US for a "good" education, we need to send our kids overseas to get any "real" education, today. Plus, foreigners who are exposed to the "hate the US" ideology taught in our educational system will see through the propaganda, unless they're from nations that already echo it (Belarus, or Russia, for example). Either way, it's a "win-win" idea. There's no way any eastern European nations will teach them to hate America as much as our own public schools do.



The taking of Okinawa cost around 20,000 US servicemen's' lives, and over 107,000 Japanese lives. There were 36,000 US non-death casualties, according to a PBS documentary (link). How does Okinawa compare to Iraq, and why do we still have a large base there, over 50 years later? Okinawa was one battle, in a long war. Which presidential candidate sees Iraq in a proper context to a worldwide war on Islamist terrorism, and the states that support it? Further, how does this "worldwide" war compare to the "cold war," in regard to our international policy?



Germany never attacked us, except for our shipments of arms to Britain. Saddam never attacked us, except for firing missiles daily at our planes, which patrolled the "no-fly" zone. Saddam also attempted to asassinate our president, and violated 14 UN sanctions, the last of which authorized use of force. With luck, this will be taught to children in US public schools, 50 years from now. I don't like to rely on "luck," preferring to fight for the truth to be told.



A funny thing happened to Hillary, and Obama, on the way to the White House. They found out that plenty of white men are put down, ripped off, and discriminated against, as well, and for no racist or sexist reason. Life is tough, and some people of every race and gender just scrape to get by, no matter how many "advantages" others think they have. What's more, they need these people's votes, if they want to win the election.



I'll close with these words of wisdom from Dr. Sowell himself, from his latest "random thoughts" column (link): "Senator John McCain could never convince me to vote for him. Only Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can cause me to vote for McCain." I'll add that it will be my pleasure to vehemently disagree with, and criticize the president I voted for, should he be elected. That is the American way. It doesn't mean I "hate" him.



See my previous post, "Two Old Black Men: The Wisdom of Drs. Williams and Sowell." (link) Here's a "gift" from Dr.Williams: a "Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon Granted to All Persons of European Descent. (link to official certificate). Ya gotta love this country, however crazy it seems!

Friday, April 04, 2008

WIDE-RANGING FALLOUT FROM SPITZER'S "DIRTY TRICKS" SCANDAL, Pt. I: OVERVIEW


It's been hard to keep up with all of the developments following the fall of Gov. Spitzer. This story isn't just about "client 9," or sex with hookers. It's about a pattern of abuse of power, starting from "day one." Those who aided and abetted his abuses are now feeling the heat, in the fallout from last year's "DIRTY TRICKS" scandal (link to my last post on it). This is a brief overview of the different ongoing investigations.



We'll start with Albany DA David Soares. In addition to the problems with his current investigation (link), the State Investigations Commission is "investigating the investigations. We are seeking to determine the efficacy of the various investigatory efforts," according to SIC Chairman Alfred Lerner (link to NY Post story). This is something LEAVWORLD has been calling for, and I'm glad to see it happen.



Next, and potentially bigger, is AG Andrew Cuomo's investigation into the NY State Police. Gov. Paterson has given him subpoena power, and granted him authority for a full investigation of political corruption in the State Police. This predates Spitzer, but was exposed by his use of the State Police to spy on Sen. Majority Leader Bruno. Cuomo's investigation is already being compared to the Knapp Comission, of "Serpico" fame (link to NY Post story). AG Cuomo can ride this one right into the Governorship, if he does it right. That motivation gives me confidence in the thoroughness of his investigation.



There are several other loose ends yet to be tied up, such as the Albany Times-Union/NY Times angle, and all of Spitzer's co-conspirators, many of whom are resigning their state positions.(link NYP). There's also the question of the predecessor to the SIC, which apparently did no investigation, while claiming to. I'll be following up on all of these, and more, in successive posts. I hope you stay tuned, because each aspect of this scandal is exposing different types of corruption. "Exposing it," in itself, won't end it, but it's a start. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

HILLARY: WAR MACHINE!


This summer's REAL blockbuster! You're getting a look at the "rough draft" here.