Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

GLAD IT'S NOT MY KID

So the kid gets dragged by his Dad to a George W. Bush rally. Instead of being happy to meet the president, he spends the duration of Bush's 45 minute speech looking bored enough to die. On top of that, it was all captured on camera, and David Letterman (who can still suck it) has been running it to death all week. Can you imagine if that were your kid? Good-bye political career! Though, I can't imagine too many 13 year olds that would be happy to play the stillness game for 45 minutes. (also be sure to check out the slide show, for some great pictures of yawning, stretching, and watch checking)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

REPUBLICAN DEFICITS VII

As you can see there are alot of these Republican Deficits" posts inspired by James' orginal article. Probably the best way to follow the arguments is to start at the bottom and read up. Also Post V makes a bit more sense coming after Post VI. The following should be last, for now...

James in response to Seth's statements found in Post IV...

"You seemed to imply that campaign contributions lead to corruption.  otherwise why complain about which companies gave to the republicans?  no, the democrats whore out their agenda to their biggest contributors.  look at kerry's remarks about saving jobs from going overseas by new regulations to prevent outsourcing.  and who is funding him?  the unions.  of course, and who blocked regulations that would allow companies to trade pollution allowances like a commodity and decrease the overall levels of pollution?  the democrats, who were whored out by the pollution regulation industry, the industry that stood to lose money.  once again anecdotal evidence is a paltry way to present a convincing argument, it won't work on me.  for every one industry that gives to the republicans to have their intersts represented, there is another to give to the democrats.  for every one citizens group that gives to the democrats there is one to give to the republicans.  remember when the democrats blocked tort reform because they are in bed with the trial lawyers?
 
finally, soft money is not a loophole that needs to be closed.  soft money is a means for private individuals to express their political speach.  the supreme court has recognized this and its time for the electorate to realize that they cannot tell people how much they can or cannot give to a politician.  it is about individual rights.  and because soft money involves individuals, it doesn't have very much to do with large corporations (who would feel no restraints in contributions without soft money) at all."
REPUBLICAN DEFICITS VI

After further reflection on James' links Seth proclaims Fuzzy Math...

"Figures Don't Lie But Liars Can Figure

First of all, using 2002 statistics warps the results because it was a mid-term election in which 65 percent of the open seats in Congress, the Senate, and gubernatorial elections were Democratic and many of these were uncontested or heated primary campaigns. You have an argument for incumbency money, but not for partisanism. Because legislation is too difficult to control, most major contributors looking for a political bailout prefer to use the more subtle executive brach. Why stop a law from getting passed when you can just stop it from being enforced? Because of this, the 2000 election should be better representative of what to expect in 2004, another presidential election.
 
I also want to point out that when you look at your list of "corporations" most of those that gave to Democrat were not corporations but unions - the largest representing hundreds of thousands of low to low middle income Americans. A union is not "Big Business." AT&T, Verizon, Halliburton, Clear Channel, et. al. are what we mean by "Big Business." The unions are in essense a conglomeration of millions of workers who try to offset the donations of each of these fat cat corporate givers.
 
It also tallied up the total given by the company and ALL OF ITS EMPLOYEES. This means that when it counts Viacom, a lot of the money going Democrat is really independent contributions from music artists on Viacom music labels. This further distorts the numbers to appear as if the Democrats were getting big cuts from these companies. Also, I can't speak for these numbers because they don't reference everything, but I've seen Republican figures on campaign contributions use a trick before that I highly suspect is involved with this one. Basically, by adding "all of its employees" when figuring corporate donations, you're counting their union fees. Therefore, as far as these figures are concerned, you're counting the money that union workers gave out twice - once as part of the union and again as part of their company, thus grossly over-exaggerating the amount that Democrats bring in.
 
Even though these are tweaked worse than an Enron report, they still show one other thing that I found of interest: look how much the wireless companies are giving! Perhaps the cell phone industry is turning into today's version of the turn-of-the-century's Railroad Companies."

To which James replied...

"why should a mid-term election warp the results at all?  Half of all congressional elections are mid-term, therefore it is just as viable as an indicator as presidential election years.  all of the house of representatives and 1/3 of the senate was up for election, just as in 2000 and just as it is this year.  i fail to see how that changes anything.  is there that much of a difference between 2002 and 2000?
 
second, unions are big business.  they rake in millions of dollars from their member and then spend that money on campaign contributions without the consent of any of their members.  it is un-democratic.  unions give solidly to the democratic party regardless of whether they actually represent the voting desires of union members.  and i think i have already demonstrated in previous arguments why the republicans are more the party of blue collar workers than the democrats.  it is no different than microsoft giving money to republicans regardless of whether that is the wishes of their employees.  at least fat cat corporations whom employ millions of low and middle income people don't pretend to represent their best interests and then sell them up the river with embezzlement and fraud, they are at least honest about it.  as the Great Barry said "unions are the death of american industry".
 
finally, how many union employees work for viacom that viacom is counted twice?  really, i didn't see any major unions represented in any of the "fat cat corporations".  was GM on the list?  No.  in fact, counting employees would help inflate the republican numbers, not the democrat.  just look at the companies."

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

REPUBLICAN DEFICITS V

Even Pigpen weighs in on Seth's "tirade"...

"His role call of the who's who in consumer commodities is ill news. Seth blah-blahs on about corporate America yet still supports said businesses and is thus a hyporcite.

He listens to clear channel stations (most radio is).

He drives, therefore indirectly using Haliburton services and products.

Microsoft and Bell Telephone are self explanitory (To stick to his guns he should suspend all use of Microsoft goods and services)

I'll also pose this arguement:
The AFL-CIO and UAW are more detrimental to American citizens than the likes of Enron and Haliburton any freakin' day of the week. Talk about economic greed...boo-yah! Except it will never be veiwed as such because the unions hide behind the "blue collar American worker." In the meantime they are lining, not only their pockets, but the Democratic cofers too, with forced contributions taken from said blue collar worker, all while under the guise that they are over worked and under paid. Have any of you been to an assembly plant and actually seen how little work these unskilled people actually do in a 9hr day? I won't list a daily schedule unless you want, but it's pretty lazy. Why do you think an automobile costs $5000-6000 to make but cost me $29000 to buy. It's because the dip-UAW-shits I graduated with are down at Lear making $27.00/hr to push a button that Homer's "drinking bird" could do! This is the demographic that John Kerry is champion-ing because they are so "down trodden?" Yes Greenville and now JCI are terrible things and I feel for the people that have lost jobs, but come on, Bush did not order Electrolux or JCI to move jobs to Mexico, nor did he plot against the workers, only to then light a cigar with their pink slips. The era of robber barons is long gone. Pig Pen out!"

On top of that, Ole Tondar used to be UAW as well. Nothing pissed me off more than when the propaganda magazine (no better way to describe it) "Solidarity" came in the mail. Our house would get 3 copies (and probably still does) because at one time or another we all were comrades under the sickle and hammer, err, I mean the UAW. I remember as a kid going to Union picnics and being forced to wait in a long line to tour (in exchange for the "free food" my Dad's union dues would buy) what I called the "Brainwash Mobile." This was a 4 room semitruck trailer/museum that would travel the country glorifying collective labor (Young Tondar almost lost a hand learning the valuable lesson about not touching the Union's museum displays one year). Even as a kid this always struck me as borderline communism that they would take money from my dad to pay for this crap (I always had to bring a friend and we would then bring home tons of ice cream and brats, "they owe us"). But what strikes me as weird today is the UAW's unquestioning commitment to the Democratic party. The whole idea behind an interest group is to allow your voice to be heard by presenting the possibility that you may swing your vote the other way. But unfortunately the Democrats and union bosses are tucked into bed so tightly together, workers are left with little advocacy. Are Democrats really keeping jobs in America? What's the word Governor Granholm? What say you, Mr. NAFTA, Bill Clinton? UAW money goes to keep you in employed, yet you couldn't find a way to return the favor for blue collar America?
REPUBLICAN DEFICITS IV

From James...

"Technically speaking, both parties are supporters of big business, but the democrats put on a facade.

the democrats and republicans are both shifting their coalitions.  However, they both require huge sums of money to win election campaigns.  do you really think that big business doesn't contribute to democratic candidates?  tirades and anecdotes don't change the numbers and how they break down."

To which Seth replied, with a further tirade citing more anecdotal evidence...

"Simply receiving money from big corporations does not alone make for corruption. Many businesses realize that by giving tons of cash to political parties, they're likely to find friends in government when they need them. Most actually give the same amount to both parties.
 
But there's a large gap between the level that such contributions play out in the policy set forth by either party. The Republicans whore out their entire economic and environmental policies to big business, and it shows when the biggest offenders of Monopoly, Trust-Building, Environmental and Energy Compliance, and shady business practices start only giving money to the Republicans. Your Microsofts, GMs, and other big companies will always give money to both parties and yes, both are guilty to a degree of looking the other way when these companies commit offenses. The Media Conglomerates and drug companies, among others, are especially guilty of this quid pro quo to fuck the average Joe.
 
But the gross offenders (the three biggest polluters in the country that Bush let off the hook, Clear Channel, Halliburton, et. al.) know that when they've stepped too far over the line, the Democrats aren't going to bail them out anymore. As for the Republicans, they're ready and willing to take their money for a campaign donation and then return it ten-fold in public funds or, in the case of the chief executive, in the cessation of any current federal legal actions against them. Democrats can only try to make this money up from union support.
 
When you use this as your measurement, it becomes pretty clear that the consensus bad guys feel more comfortable with Reagan and President Bush than any previous administration or campaign. It's not the Congressional idealogues on either side who rake in the cash, it's the guy who makes it most apparent that the money will go furthest.
 
Figures cannot lie, James, but liars can figure. The true measure of an elected official is their policy, not their campaign money. Limiting the degree to which your party responds to the campaign contributions it received is not a facade; it's what we should expect from our politicians.
 
Take the issue of campaign finance for an example. Receiving a large contribution from General Electric or Viacom and then voting in favor of Campaign Finance Reform is noble and gutsy, not a cover-up. On the other side, these media conglomerates (who take home all of that campaign cash in the end anyway) know that the minute they hold back equal cash for the Democrats, they can expect a campaign finance amendment to hit the floor in a matter of minutes. Still, most Democrats in Congress are in favor of closing up the soft money loophole while most Republicans are not.
 
Until we pass that reform, Democrats need to keep accepting money from the devil or the Republican machine will run them over as it did for two decades before Teddy Roosevelt came along. For most Democrats, it's a constant ethical balancing act to keep the election money available and still serve their constituents.
 
As for the Bush administration and many Republicans, as evidenced by their gross actions in recent years (see "tirade"), whoring policy out to corporate interests to get elected is, well, just business."
CONDI WILL TESTIFY II

During the last day besides looking for a job I tried to find the legal answer to Seth's question about why Condoleeza Rice would now be allowed to testify. But since I am lazy, I'm not going to site any sources, so like a Seth rant, you will just have to take my word on it. But hopefully my logic should speak for itself.

First, the 9/11 hearings were created by an act of Congress to get to the bottom of what went wrong to prevent a future repeat of that terrible day. On the one hand, the hearings will reveal failure on the part of the Bush, and if it's not completely partisan the previous 8 years of the Clinton Administration as well. Afterall who was President during the early stages of this war when the WTC was first attacked in 1994, during the bombings of our embassies in Africa, the apartments in Saudi Arabia, and the attack on the USS Cole. But hopefully on the other hand, these hearings will also put to rest any leftist rumour that Bush was behind the attacks so he could carry out his invasion of Iraq. I hope that someday history will praise these hearings, so we don't have the conspiracy theories similar to the one that FDR knew about Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen.

However, as for the Constitutional argument presented by the White House, it actually is highly credible. First remember that the President is Commander in Chief of the armed forces. And since the first and most important job of any government is to protect its citizens this lies squarely with the executive branch. To do this the President must have the best advisors giving the best advice, without any fear of Congressional oversight or political bickering. Afterall, the Founding Fathers could easily see how our Congress would become the bickering political mess that it is and always has been. One only had to look at the battle between big and small states in the Continental Congress, or the politics that often took place back in the Brittish parliament.

The worry from the executive branch is that if non-senate appointed advisors (different from the official cabinet members Sec State, Sec Def, etc.) can be held responsible to a politically elected body, it easily could taint what they say and prevent the president from getting the best possible advice. For example, picture a scenario where the President must weigh the option of assasinating a foreign leader, or launching a pre-emptive war where many innocent people may die. A National Security advisor must do what is in the best interest of security and let the President and Attorney General worry about legality issues or how to explain this one to the Congress and the American people. Since Condi is still serving the President the Congress cannot allow her to be held responsible to the elected politicians. Otherwise it would politicize national security to a dangerous volatile point, putting it nearly directly in the hands of people (such as in the Pelopansian Wars of Athens and Sparta). This is very far from what the Founding Fathers had intended when creating our Republic (remember we are not a true democracy and nor would we want one). The compromise reached between the Current White House and Congress however, does recognize the uniqueness of 9/11 (worst attack on American soil) and allows open dialogue without an Article 1 (Congress) encroachment on Article 2's (the president) national security responsibilities. So in conclusion, Condi can tell her story without setting a precedent that undermines our Constitution.
HAD IT COMING

Oh boo hoo, poor Chris Weber is being booed by the fans in Sacramento, and his fragile little ego just can't take. Well ole Tondar says, 'good for them.' Everybody should be booing that son of a bitch after what he did to UM basketball. I hope he is booed everynight and that the Kings lose every game.
SOLUTION FOR N. IRELAND

From Seth...
 
"Now that the Irish themselves have decided to outlaw smoking, the Irish are crossing the border into the United Kingdom to light up. Border cities have already noticed an economic upswing from increased patronage to their bars. So long as the money keeps coming in from the Irish nicotine-addicts - and most of it is going to strictly Irish pubs, mind ye- them Nerthern Irish, see, they ain't compalin' so much no more 'bout being a' part a' England."
IDIOCIES OF THE LEFT

This Ron Rosenbaum essay is a bit old but it's still very true. It's about the idiots on the left that will not condemn the evils of the Soviet Union and believe that the United States is the most horrible nation in history. These immoral idiots are exactly the liberals Seth was talking about after he went to the anti-war rally on the University of Michigan campus. Thanks to the war on Iraq this vocal minority has infiltrated the Democratic party and forced them hard to the left, where it will be very difficult to win any mainstream elections.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

IDLE HANDS AT THE DEVIL'S HIGHSCHOOL

Back in highschool did you ever wonder why the smart kids weren't more popular? Probably not, if you yourself were popular. But now that you're older take the time to read this Paul Graham essay that examines the social hierarchies in American high schools. In it he seeks to find out what exactly is wrong with highschool kids. His conclusion is that students have too much time on their hands but since they are forced to stay in school all day it creates a prison-like society...

Money quote: "From what I've read, the society that the prisoners create is warped, savage, and pervasive, and it is no fun to be at the bottom of it. In outline, it was the same at the schools I went to. The most important thing was to stay on the premises. While there, the authorities fed you, prevented overt violence, and made some effort to teach you something. But beyond that they didn't want to have too much to do with the kids. Like prison wardens, the teachers mostly left us to ourselves. And, like prisoners, the culture we created was barbaric."

It's a rather lengthy piece but worth the read.
MORE ON ROOSEVELT DEFICITS

From James...

"Well, i disagreed with the article, but on a few different points.  i don't disagree about republicans having much different party ideals today than they did 150 years ago, but then again so do the democrats.  remember that the republican party passed the first billion dollar budget over 100 years ago.
 
fdr's new deal was modeled after the "fair deal", but remember that olde' teddy was a republican.  he most likely took the term from the addage applied to lincoln, unless of course the web site is lying.
 
at any rate, the article is a bit misleading on many fronts.  fist, the little graph that they display showing debt is not adjusted for inflation.  if it were, the world war 2 years would far outshine all others in terms of debt.  it also doesn't show economic growth, which is an important factor.  pure debt is not as important as the ratio of debt to gdp, really.
 
the character of the article seems to be biased against, of all things, a federal banking system.  see the following quote "To remedy the first defect, national bank issues of U.S. bond-secured currency replaced state bank notes. To remedy the second defect, stringent reserve and capital requirements, oversight, and regulation by the Comptroller of the Currency were conditions for national bank charters. Unfortunately, the remedies did not work as intended by the architects of the national banking system. Instead, the system was characterized by monetary and cyclical instability, four banking panics, frequent stock market crashes, and other financial disturbances".  here the author tries to show the federal banking system as a failure.  in reality the return from a federal system to a state controlled system of "pet banks" by andrew jackson was a colossal failure, resulting in a horrible depression.
 
though the republicans were once the party of big business, today that mantle falls on the democratic party.  in 2002 the democrats received more campaign contributions from big businesses and wealthy elites (trial lawyers), despite the fact that bush has a gigantic fundraising warchest.  the democrats and republicans are both parties built on coalitions that often shift.  since neither party is built on ideology, over time the parties have become very different to the party that they were years ago.  hence bush looks alot like roosevelt (except for the veto thing).  and then bill clinton takes the republican agenda of reforming welfare and reducing government spending (the era of big government is over he said) only a few years after desperately trying to push one of the biggest increases in entitlement spending ever with a nation health care plan.  hence dole called clinton a "convertable dodge".
 
one thing about the article that really disturbed me is the way he exonerated william jennings bryant and the gold standard by blaming the monetary crisis on the federal control of banking.  the truth is that gold and gold/silver standards don't work because they appreciate in value too fast to make a reliable standard for currency, hence our floating exchange rate.

also, i would like to add that lincoln in fact fit the picture that the article paints of him.  during the height of the civil war lincoln gave away millions of acres of federal land to anyone who cared to stake a claim.  the farms of the north weren't empty, and the cities weren't pining for workers.  immigrants were flooding into the north faster than grant could grind them into corpses.
 
its also ironic to note that during one of america's most progressive periods, when the 13th 14th and 15th amendments were passed, america also proceeded on one of its most vicious campaigns against native americans in US history.  i find the prospect of enlightened progress to be a myth.  the positives of reconstruction were negated by the atrocities of the indian wars.
 
on a final note, the idea of deficit spending in order to stimulate economic growth is a cornerstone of keynsian economics and a topic that is hotly contested today.  the author could have mentioned that a little.
 
at any rate its well known that margret thatcher's neo-liberal economic policies were the model for which reagan modeled his presidential agenda, which formed the "new conservative" republicans.  i don't believe that bush is spending enourmously in order to go back to republican roots.  i don't even believe that he is a kenysian who wants to run deficits in order to stimulate economic growth.  rather, i believe he is a shrewd politician who wants to take the democrats agenda away from them by passing bills that they would have supported (such as perscription medication reform).  as frank said, bush is "more clinton than clinton".

To which Seth replied...

"James-
 
Hold on a friggin' minute: you actually think the DEMOCRATs are today's party of Big Business?
 
Whose connebriated figures are you referencing here? Big business IS the Republican Party! Their fiscal policy has barely changed from Reagan (and Hoover's) failed Trickle-Down Economic Theory which does nothing beyond pump public funds into major corporate shareholders' purses. Which Party do mega-polluters pour millions of dollars in campaign funds into so that when the official is elected, all EPA investigations and suits suddenly disappear?
 
Which Party had Enron Executives funding every statewide campaign in Texas - including President Bush's kickoff ceremony for 2000 - right before the same executives who had partied with the president secretly sold off their company's stock and left their workers and shareholders destitute? Why do you think the Republicans were getting that money?
 
Which party developed the military-industrial complex - allowing public money for defense to be directed to Halliburton and others like them who charged the federal government far over normal prices for their goods before using a good share of their profits to fund more of that party's campaigns? What happened to that $49 billion recently approved to fix Iraq? Did it not go to a company of which the Vice President was formerly the CEO that is now under investigation by Congress for overcharging?
 
Which national candidate for president did Clear Channel Entertainment just raise $30 million of hard money for as they face FCC charges of holding a monopoly in the music industry? And which party annually gets massive donations - far greater than their opponents - from Fox, Viacom, Disney, and other media giants walking a fine edge on FCC violation (and, more often prosecution).
 
When medicare prescription benefits came to a party-line split in the Senate, why were Republicans so intent on making sure that the Medicare program couldn't have a say in controlling drug prices? Why was is so important to them to shove through a privatized insurance structure that has been raising the price of Medicare for the government at a staggering rate since 1998? Why was the GOP so opposed to importing drugs from Canada to control prices, even after Canada made the kind gesture of passing similar legislation to buy our drugs? Could it be because Pfizer and other drug companies were pouring millions into re-election campaigns of numerous Senate Republicans and the president?
 
Which President imposed massive steel tarriffs after mega steel corporations pledged to win seats in swing states for his party, and how many small businesses are now paying the price for it (those who use steel and also those struck by the E.U.'s counterswing).
 
You think the Democrats are the party of big business? Which party vigorously pursued monopoly charges against Microsoft and successfully broke up Bell Telephone, even though both companies contributed equally to both presidential campaigns?
 
Which party struck down a clause from the Airline deregulation bill to limit the market share an airline could have in one airport, allowing United, Northwest, and Delta to build hubs in various cities, then charge whatever they pleased, limiting business travel and squeezing commerce across the country? Then, after Sept. 11, which party pushed through a massive payout to these same airlines to "keep them afloat" during a national panic? They still fired their workers, flew half the planes they used to, and charged twice as much for tickets. So where'd that money go? You'll see it resurfacesoon soon in key battleground states as 30-second spots trying to convince the voters they didn't just get screwed.
 
You point to NAFTA and other trade agreements that Clinton signed but leave out the fact that most Republicans were the ones pushing those plans while the Democrats as a party were split.
 
What will be the next sweeping public agenda from the Grand Old Party? To find out, simply check Bush's re-election war chest and see which bills the American people have left to pay."

Actually, the Democrats are the party of big businesses that often donate to campaigns through lobyists, unions, PACs and other soft money routes. The Republicans are the party of small business and rely on the standard $2000 donations from many many sources. Despite the high profile examples to the contrary it makes sense when you really think about it. Can Democrats really rely on their voting demographics of welfare queens and pot smoking college students to fund any kind of major campaign. Donations flow into the democrats because its smart money to hedge your bets and make sure you have some influence with the socialist leaning opposition party. Besides if Seth were right the Democratic party would resemble a successful Ralph Nader campaign that shuns corporate intervention in American politics. However, the sad truth is that both parties are guilty and our two party system inherently creates a government that is up for sale.
LINK OF THE WEEK

It's not exactly as great as the Bum Wine Linky Dink. But check out these naughty foods sent to me by Angie.
CONDI WILL TESTIFY

From Seth...

"Condi is going to testify, provided there's a "promise" that this won't set a precedent.
?
The Bush administration fought tooth and nail to stop Condoleeza Rice from testifying in public. What I want to know is, why?
?
Let's get this straight - I'm not asking this as a rhetorical question to drum up anti-Bush sentiment. But there seemed to be no case whatsoever for her not to testify to the 9/11 commission. The precedent argument was retarded; senior White House advisors have been called to testify before Congress many times in recent history, beginning with Lyndon Johnson's "brainy boys" going before a panel to justify their actions in Vietnam.
?
The spin they've put on this saga up until now has been "she wants to testify but can't because of the constitution." But the Separation of Powers outlined in that document doesn't say anything about one side delivering public testimony to the other. Even the intent of the Framers cannot be defined as such. If you read the Federalist Papers, it's very clear that Monroe and Madison wanted Congress to be the strongest branch, not the executive. Revolutionaries still stinging from monarchical rule would have had no qualms about the executive's people being questioned by a roomful of representatives.
?
Back to Condi, this whole thing is such a mystery. Some Democrats were pegging her a month ago as the next Clarke, O'Neill, or Whitman to run screaming from the administration, draft a tell-all, and find herself the next target of Bush's unparalleled-in-American-history?smear machine. It's one of those secrets that everybody knows that Rice will not be around should Bush win re-election. On the other hand, the other secret everybody knows is that Rice has been from day one a Bush supporter through and through.
?
There's no answers to any of this.
?
-Is it because of the Constitutionality? No, as we discussed. Anyone with half a brain knows there's nothing to this line except some sort of cop-out that the American people might be willing to digest. And besides, when did Bush start worrying about the Separation of Powers, or did he just gloss over the parts where it says the President is the executive, not the legislator. And just how would Hamilton, Madison, and Monroe feel about the president appointing the commission that investigates him?
?
-Is it because Rice's testimony will reveal secrets essential to national security? It's possible, but nobody expects her to divulge things like the name of her contact who has infiltrated al Quada, and if this were the fear, the administration would be saying that instead of this whole separation of powers media strategy.
?
-Is it because her story won't hold water??This is what's being thrown around some Democratic circles, based on the fact that Condi (along with Rumsfeld) was the one who said that Clarke was "out of the loop" before Tenet and Powell said differently in their testimonies.
?
-Is it because she doesn't want to commit purgery? This is what the other politico-minded people I know tend towards, in some form or other. Out of the people who have testified, Clarke's accusations really stand as the most believable. But Rice can't turn around and admit in an election year that her boss just wasn't the tough on terror guy he is today before Sept. 11 (I don't see what's so surprising about this. NONE OF US were tough on terror people, except the "hair on fire" folk like Clarke that Rumsfeld spoke of). Perhaps Condi's strong religious convictions simply preclude her from lying under oath like her co-workers. Of course, there's a lot of presupposition that goes into this argument, which makes it all the more dubious.
?
-Is it because she's going to write a tell-all and thus doesn't want to lie for Bush right now? I doubt this. First of all, Condi's probably not going to break ranks, even after she's out of the White House. Second, unlike Clarke, who's job it was to warn the administration of terror threats, Rice's job was to decide when to act. If the administration failed to stop Sept. 11 even though they could have, it's her fault for not acting on the intelligence they had. Plus, the administration is doing most of the fighting to prevent her from testifying, so obviously they're not trying to help her hurt them somewhere down the line.
?
-Is it because they don't think she'll pull off the lie? Again, a fun question for Dems to ask but we know Condi is more capable than her boss at public speaking.
?
-Does the administration automatically go into protective mode? It seems like Bush White House policy to run a campaign rather than let someone else make a decision. They've fought this process every step of the way, refusing to allow it at first, then doing it only if they could appoint the commission, then holding back testimony, etc. This would certainly fit with the administration's tendency to stubbornly insist that they're right, then attack those who call them into question, then actually find out what's being questioned in the first place. However, it's a pretty bad strategy in an election year. Had they agreed to the commission and given up all the access that they're now granting anyway, this whole thing would have been done by now - and we're still months away from the election. The only foreseeable reasons to hold off this long, I'm guessing, is the continuing possibility of finding WMD in Iraq or Osama in Afghanistan (making the administration impervious) or making sure the commission coincided with the release of Clarke's book so that they could play off his testimony as a promotion or make it so he only made it to one news cycle. Otherwise, if this is the reason, it would mean a lot more hubris than even I supposed existed in this White House.
?
-Is it because they actually want Congress to change the precedent to not have sitting advisors to the president testify? This is the most likely scenario I can see, but it still has its holes. They know there isn't a precedent that can help them keep officials other than Condi away from Congress, but by getting Congress to sign a letter saying they won't make this set a precedent, perhaps they're actually setting one in opposition. This makes sense because the one thing the adminstration seems to not want to do is have Bush and Cheney themselves appear before the commission as if they're on trial. They're also likely fearful of other Clarkes still on the payroll who could be outed if this became a trend. However, this is also a weak strategy as fighting an investigation during an election year can only call the president's credibility into question.
?
So here we have a lot of questions, but no answers. The only thing we can be sure of is that Rice's testimony will not reveal anything damaging about Bush. Why would it, when the White House is running the show."

Why does any argument of Seth's have to break down into into an ad hominem challenge of ones intelligence for not understanding Seth's liberal truth?

"Anyone with half a brain knows there's nothing to this line except..."

If you believe in a universal truth does this make all Jews and Moslems idiots for not being able to understand the saving grace and the eternal truth of Christ the Savior? (Can you tell I'm reading alotta theology these days?)

Monday, March 29, 2004

THE OBLIGATIONS OF FACT

Check out this piece from the NYTimes on the logistics of writing columns. Of course he stresses the importance of checking facts. But let's see if anything changes. Somehow I doubt there's not a man alive that can fact check the egos of Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd.
POOR KARL ROVE

Over the weekend an immigrant group stormed the yard of Bush advisor Karl Rove to protest for more freebies for non-citizens. I think this is horrible. You may not agree with Rove or President Bush, but to track down a public figure and protest him in the privacy of his own home with his family present, is taking advantage of your first amendment right. Personally I now hope Bush does exactly the opposite of whatever these rude mob demands. Like a bum that will "Wrestle for food," this is just not how it is supposed to work.
BRITNEY UNHINGED

In her attempt to win over an "older" audience Britney Spears' new show is just downright sleazey. I'm actually kinda worried about her. Between the kiss and the marriage it seems that she is in a mental freefall. At the rate she is going, I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up dead from a drug overdose in a few years.
SETH ON REPUBLICAN ROOSEVELT

Seth's response to the article below...

"This is a very interesting article that echoes a lot of the ideas I've been putting out there concerning the history of the Republican Party and its roots as something very different that the modern GOP. I caution, however, that the author left out some important details to make his case sound better.
 
1. Those Leftist Republicans - The Republican Party did form out of the Whigs, in part, but it's important to remember that Lincoln's party changed drastically when the South got back into the electorate. Republicans pulled off the upset victory right before the Civil War because the Democrats were split between the North and South. However, immediately after the war, the ultra-liberal Republican-controlled Congress was passing sweeping social legislation - including the 14th through 16th amendments. During reconstruction, after a very terse relationship with Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, the Congressional wave of liberal activity was slowed in the election of a rather laissez-faire Ulysses S. Grant to the White House. Basically, during Grant's administration and the Gilded Age that followed, big business managed to corrupt the Republicans. The author made it sound as if this was part of the GOP's founding.
 
2. Dipping Deep into our Pockets - To blame the early Republicans for deficit spending or reshaping the economy is like saying Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for World War II. The Civil War blew the country apart. Thousands of farms and businesses had been vacated and ruined. Millions of freed slaves were entering the job market, as were the increasingly heavy influx of immigrants. And on top of all of this was the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Facing a war of that magnitude followed by a complete restructuring of the economy, I can't imagine how anyone would expect Lincoln not to deficit spend. I should note, as well, that most of the early Republican bureaucracy, including the first federalized banking act, were put in place to aid reconstruction, not just help big businesses. The author also left out a key difference between Lincoln and his GOP successors: after Grant, none of them ran a deficit. When the robber barons took the reigns in the latter half of the 19th century, much of their concern was in deflation of the dollar and maintenance of a strong foreign trade rate (to sell manufactured goods back to Europe). A larger deficit, unless tempered by the Fed, invariably leads to inflation - something the millionaires and lenders didn't want to see.
 
3. The "New Deal" was Franklin Roosevelt's play off of his cousin Theodore's "Square Deal." He was not referencing Lincoln, nor is there much likelihood that the article referenced in the story gave Roosevelt the idea.
 
4. I think the author does present some very powerful points - specifically in the means by which the Whigs manifested themselves within the new Republican coalition. His strongest point, in my opinion, was that the Gilded Age Republicans opened themselves to rent-seeking. This type of corruption has truthfully been quite evident in the GOP since 1870, although he fails to mention that this was to varying degress. Among Republican presidents, Nixon, T. Roosevelt, Coolidge, Eisenhower, and Hoover in his better days all managed to avoid becoming slaves to interest - at least as far as we know. Reagan, Ford, Harding, Taft, McKinley, both Bushes, Hoover in 1931, and the string of Ohio Republicans after Grant, on the other hand, were consistently accused of playing favorites among major financial backers of their campaigns. My point is, while they may come in clumps, this variance in post-Civil War GOP Presidents' corruption seems to suggest that, while present, such ties with major campaign backers does not signal that "Favoritism for big business has always been a hallmark of the Republican Party." Rather, I see the Republican honeymoon with Big Business as basically representing a fallback - as it's only evident in parts of the GOP. They didn't need Big Business to get Eisenhower, Coolidge, Nixon, or Hoover in office. Teddy Roosevelt actually ran on a platform of trust busting and then came back to undo his successor Taft when he thought the rotund commander-in-chief had gotten too cozy with the robber barons. As far as Big Business going to bed with the Republican Party, there's a major difference between the Gilded Age politicians who were bought off by the robber barons and George H. Bush, President Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney, who actually rose to power from that mercantilist background.
 
Overall, I appreciate that the author is trying to find some better explanation for the Bush Administration's departure from the basic tenets of Conservatism. I see the connections he's trying to establish between the president and corruption in the 19th century GOP but I don't think he can apply them with any regularity to every Republican administration since Lincoln. What he leaves out is actually the more important part; the middle class. The GOP of today is a coalition of both the big business corporate types and sections (including religious) from the modern middle class - which basically makes the party half manufacturers and half consumers. This, at least more so than some nostalgic reconnection with its history, I think accounts for most of the fiscal irresponsibility of the last three Republican administrations. Although many GOP congressional members run on small government, President Bush, George H. Bush, and Reagan ran on the platforms of defense, lower taxes and promoting the economy - specifically the fortunes of the corporation. Reagan and President Bush both compounded their red spending with aggressive military spending - Reagan in attempting to modernize the armed forces and Bush in two successive wars. Basically they're trapped by a constituency of wealthy voters who want lower taxes, even wealthier corporate donors who want get out of government regulation, a flagging economy, and a nation of independent votors who require a much higher standard of national defense after Sept. 11. The 21st century Republican Party isn't just a rebirth of Gilded Age protectionism; they face a different electorate and a world with very different problems - concerns that they're unfortunately equally bad at addressing."

Sunday, March 28, 2004

WAS ROOSEVELT A REPUBLICAN?

From James...

"An interesting historical perspective on the republicans and democrats.  Maybe some people will be switching party affiliations soon."

Maybe, but I think the Reagan Revolution took better hold of the party. Bush and the current Congress have faced a national tragedy, a war, and a recession, all requiring deficit spending. I would be concerned if this fiscal irresponsibility continues into a second Bush term. Also it should be pointed out that the graph that shows deficits and surpluses in hundred millions is going to be skewed against Bush because of the size of the current US economy and budget. I would like to see a graph with similar data but shown as a percentage of GDP. That would actually show how big Bush's deficits are compared to Roosevelt, Nixon, and Reagan.
NOT THE BEST CATHOLIC

John Kerry claims to be a Catholic. He attends mass and still receives Holy Communion. However, as a Senator he supports abortion and has not "opposed every law that attacks human life." Many, including the Arch-Bishop of St. Louis believe this disqualifies him from being a true Catholic. But in true arrogant Kerry fashion he responded; "I don't tell church officials what to do, and church officials shouldn't tell American politicians what to do in the context of our public life." However, if somebody were ever qualified to lecture on morality in politics wouldn't that be the church? Check out this piece from Time that discusses John Kerry's incomplete Catholic worldview. In many ways both the Republican and Democratic parties stray from the teachings of the Church. But since abortion is the hot button issue for many Catholics, I don't see how Kerry can carry this demographic the same way the other Catholic JFK did.