Category ►►► Unnatural Disasters
September 24, 2007
Cindy Sheehan's Day of Out-of-Tunement Manifesto
I rarely do this, as you know: I rarely link to some piece and say simply "read this." (I'm too in love with the sound of my own fingers typing on a keyboard.)
But here's an exception. Read Cindy Sheehan's Yom Kippur "sermon," delivered at Michael Lerner's Beyt Tikkun "synogogue;" you will be -- if not exactly glad, then at least agape. (Rabbi Lerner is Hillary Clinton's mentor, author of the Politics of Meaning and other works of Socialist agit-prop masquerading as theology.)
My response (I love this) is entirely contained in the list of categories I had to attach to this post.
(Well, one more thing. It has always been my understanding that Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a day for each person to atone for what he, personally, has done wrong -- not "atone" for his enemies failing to live up to his own lofty standards, apologize for all the times America hasn't followed his lead, or wallow in self-righteous indignation that nobody listens to him. 'Nuff said; read the list of categories above.)
June 7, 2007
Hillary's Cloture of Corruption
In an audacious move brazen even by Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-Carpetbag, 95%) standards, she has appointed Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL, 95%) one of her two national presidential campaign co-chairs for Florida.
Alcee Hastings was one of only six federal judges ever to be impeached and removed from office; he was impeached in the House of Representatives and convicted in the United States Senate on charges of corruption and perjury: soliciting a $150,000 bribe to give a lenient sentence -- and return the assets -- to convicted gangsters Frank and Tony Romano, who were found guilty by a jury of looting a Teamsters pension fund.
At Hastings' actual criminal trial, the attorney who received the money and was to have conveyed it to the judge (and who himself was already convicted of bribery) refused to testify, killing the prosecution's case. Hastings was acquitted in federal court.
But that was not the end of it. He was subsequently impeached in the House for bribery and perjury in 1988 on an almost unanimous vote of 413 to 3. Hastings was tried in the Senate the next year, and he was convicted by a vote of 69 to 26 and removed from office.
Among those voting to impeach or convict Hastings are now-Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%), now-Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD, 90%), now-Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-MI, 100%), now-Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Charles Rangel (D-NY, 95%), and now-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- and former co-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, until he was forced to resign after being caught leaking intelligence information to a reporter -- Pat Leahy (D-VT, 95%).
And today, Hillary Clinton decided that the courtroom-acquitted but congressionally convicted bribe-accepting perjurer Alcee Hastings was the perfect person to co-run her presidential campaign in Florida.
Congratulations, Alcee; I imagine you have found the perfect home. (No word yet on whether any of the individuals listed above, or anybody else who voted to impeach or remove Hastings for corruption and perjury, has any thoughts on the matter.)
The other Florida national co-chair of Hillary's campaign is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, 95%), who previously distinguished herself by saying that Republicans who support Israel do so not because they like Jews, but only because they are Hal Lindsey-esque millenarian nutjobs who believe Israel figures prominently in the pending biblical apocalypse:
“I would stack up the Democratic caucus’s position on the support for Israel against the Republican caucus’s any day of the week and be much more confident — and the Jewish community should be much more confident — in the Democrats’ stewardship of Israel than the Republicans’,” she said, “especially if you compare the underlying reasons for both groups’ support for Israel. The very far right group of Republicans’ interest in Israel is not because they are so supportive of there being a Jewish state and making sure that Jews have a place that we can call home. It has references to Armageddon and biblical references that are more their interest. So I would encourage members of the Jewish community to put their faith in Democrats, because our support for Israel is generally for the right reasons.”
Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, I believe you too will find it very congenial in Hillaryland.
Distinguished carpetbagging Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton: Serving up shrill, hysterical partisanship backed by corruption and betrayal of the American people since 1976!
April 9, 2007
Dems: ADM More Important Than Starving African Children
The 110th Democratic Congress -- like the 109th Republican Congress before them -- is more concerned with the profits of Archer Daniels Midland than getting food to starving African Children... and even the New York Times has noticed!
The United Nations World Food program supplies food rations to more than half a million impoverished Zambians, 50,000 of them with HIV or full-blown AIDS. But as American-made drugs gradually make Zambians healthier, they also get hungrier; and the food rations are in danger of running out, leading to possible mass starvation.
Hoping to forestall such a dire outcome, the World Food Program made an urgent appeal in February for cash donations so it could buy corn from Zambia’s own bountiful harvest, piled in towering stacks in the warehouses of the capital, Lusaka.
But the law in the United States requires that virtually all its donated food be grown in America and shipped at great expense across oceans, mostly on vessels that fly American flags and employ American crews -- a process that typically takes four to six months.
For a third year, the Bush administration, which has pushed to make foreign aid more efficient, is trying to change the law to allow the United States to use up to a quarter of the budget of its main food aid program to buy food in developing countries during emergencies. The proposal has run into stiff opposition from a potent alliance of agribusiness, shipping and charitable groups with deep financial stakes in the current food aid system.
And the Democrats in Congress seem to be as deeply in thrall to the lobbyists who represent these special interests as were the Republicans in the last Congress. So much for cleaning up the "Republican culture of corruption" to create "the most ethical Congress in history!"
The United States Agency for International Development [USAID] estimated that if Congress adopted the Bush proposal, the United States could annually feed at least a million more people for six months and save 50,000 more lives.
But the Democrats don't want to do it, and they have a glib argument for doing nothing to clean up the corruption inherent in a program that has become almost a foreign-policy "entitlement."
They claim that "decoupling" food aid from domestic agribusiness would quickly cause support for such aid to wane. But if you break it down, what they're really saying is that they, personally, will not vote for food aid unless it's really disguised corporate welfare for Big Food. After all, what difference does "support" (polling) make on Congress' decision to supply food aid -- unless Congress intends to act as a political weathercock?
Representative Tom Lantos, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, warned last year at a food aid conference in Washington that decoupling food aid from American maritime and agribusiness interests was “beyond insane.” [Can somebody please tell me what, exactly, lies "beyond insane?"]
“It is a mistake of gigantic proportions,” he said, “because support for such a program will vanish overnight, overnight.”
But according to the acting deputy director of USAID, James Kunder, the Bush proposal would affect only 0.5% of U.S. agricultural exports, thus could not possibly adversely affect American agriculture.
It would, however, adversely affect the bottom line of four specific companies which get most of the contracts... and it would also affect a huge percentage of congressional campaign contributions from Big Food. Now that the Democrats are the majority party, they're in line for the lion's share of that "food aid."
So they don't want to upset the gruel-cart:
Over the past three years, the same four companies and their subsidiaries -- Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Bunge and the Cal Western Packaging Corporation -- have sold the American government more than half the $2.2. billion in food for Food for Peace, the largest food aid program, and two smaller programs, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Shipping companies were paid $1.3 billion over the same period to move the food aid overseas, the department’s figures show....
Agribusiness and shipping groups vigorously oppose the Bush administration proposal to buy food in developing countries with cash, which they argue is more likely to be stolen. They say that American food is safer and of higher quality and that the government can speed delivery by storing it in warehouses around the world.
And they defend the idea that federal spending should benefit American business and farming interests, as well as the hungry. Without support from such interest groups, food aid budgets from Congress would wither, they say.
Well, there you are; they know the attention-span of their congressional clients.
I apologize if my sense of humor seems to drive out my sense of serious about this serious problem; but I so clearly remember then-Rep., now Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) shrill denunciation of Republicans as fostering a "culture of corruption." She added the following in an Op-Ed directly after the election:
With their votes, the American people asked for change. They cast their ballots in favor of a New Direction.
They called for greater integrity in Washington, and Democrats pledge to make this the most honest, ethical, and open Congress in history.
It's hard to know what she meant by this. Though of course, the next paragraph makes us a bit dubious that when Pelosi says "most honest, ethical, and open Congress," she is not using the normal definitions of those words found in most dictionaries...
The American people called for greater civility in how Congress conducts its work, and Democrats pledge to conduct our work with civility and bipartisanship, and to act in partnership - not partisanship - with the president and Republicans in Congress. [!]
Judging from the Democrats' responsiveness so far -- responsive to the big-money lobbyists, I mean, as the massive mound of pork larded into the supplemental war-funding bill illustrates -- I would have to stick with what I wrote in that earlier post:
So now we know what the Divine Ms. P. means by "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history." She means a Congress where all the pork and beans goes to the good Democrats, rather the evil Republicans. And now that the electorate has thrown the old bums out, problem solved.
Meet the new boss...
September 23, 2006
VegasBlogging 2: Bin Laden Is Either Dead - Or He's Alive
June 29, 2006
Time to Withdraw From Geneva... If We Can
Hugh Hewitt says that the actual majority decision of the Supreme Court in the Hamden case does not reach quite as far as the unholy quadrumvirate of Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter did: interpreting the 1949 Geneva Conventions to apply to terrorists captured abroad. Specifically, he says that Justice Kennedy did not join that part of the opinion, opting instead for the narrower view that only the procedures of the military tribunals need comply with Geneva, because some of those held in Guantánamo Bay are members of the Taliban, which was an organized militia (as if mere membership meant they couldn't be terrorists).
I don't know if he is correct; maybe it is actually a majority position. But let's assume Hugh is right, and contrary legal commentators are wrong. That still means that the entire war on jihadi terrorism now hangs by the thread of Justice Anthony Kennedy's sanity and common sense... and that that is a slender lifeline indeed.
If that's where the Court, as a majority, stands, then we're still alive; we're on life support but not dead yet. But -- and it's a Big But -- if "Coin-Flip" Kennedy changes his mind and joins with Stevens, we may find ourselves in a true horror movie.
Because of the terrible danger that this may happen, I sincerely believe it is time for the United States to withdraw (by any means necessary) from the Geneva Conventions... if Justice Stevens will even permit the president and Congress to do so.
This drastic reaction is thrust upon us by the plurality's action, led by ultra-liberal Justice John Paul Stevens. There are now four justices who hold that terrorists must be treated as prisoners of war under the conventions.
To arrive at this weird conclusion, they completely ignored Article 4 of Convention III, Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, which defines who is and who is not a "prisoner of war"... and which clearly and unambiguously excludes terrorists. Article 4 holds that:
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy...
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
I do not believe that Stevens ever addressed this provision, which undeniably excludes unlawful combatants, such as al-Qaeda terrorists, from consideration as prisoners of war. He simply dismisses it without discussion and, in essence, declares all unlawful combatants to be legal combatants from now on.
But this clearly was not our intent when we agreed to the conventions. Such unlawful combatants were excluded when we signed, and there's solid evidence we still hold to that exclusion even now.
There was an addition to the conventions, Protocol I, enacted in 1977 that muddied the waters, having the effect of declaring that states party to it must treat even unlawful combatants as they would treat prisoners of war... without calling them prisoners of war.
But because of this very provision, the United States refused to accept Protocol I. We are not signatories to it... shouldn't that alone have convinced Stevens that he was flatly wrong about what we intended when we ratified the original conventions in 1949?
Even the website for the Geneva Conventions itself is at odds with Justice Stevens and his posse:
Combatants who deliberately violate the rules about maintaining a clear separation between combatant and noncombatant groups — and thus endanger the civilian population — are no longer protected by the Geneva Convention.
So how would the terrorists' new status, were a plurality of the Court to become the majority, affect how we must treat them? It would mean, as Stevens argued, we must treat what used to be considered unlawful combatants as well as we treat ordinary American soldiers being tried by courts-martial.
In particular, Justice Stevens, writing for 80% of the majority, opined that Convention III, Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Article 3, applied to al-Qaeda and other terrorist prisoners. Article 3 requires the following:
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons....
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
The latter requires, as a matter of course -- and this is how the quadrumvirate interpreted it -- that any tribunal trying such prisoners must afford them all the legal protections afforded members of the military being court-martialed... including the right to be present, along with the civilian attorney of their choice, for all introduction of evidence, including highly classified evidence exposing methods and personnel of our intelligence-gathering capabilities.
I would think this would also require the production of all relevant "witnesses" that the prisoner demands at his trial -- which could mean yanking from the field every soldier involved in apprehending him, since the capture is certainly relevant to his case.
As one blogsite put it (I wish I could remember which one), that could in theory mean having to undeploy entire units and send them back to the United States for every trial where a clever attorney (Ramsey Clark, for example, who would of course happily volunteer) figures out that rather than disrupt the entire war, we would just drop the case.
This is absolutely nutty, and I cannot believe that a subsequent Court would really enforce that. But we don't have a subsequent Court; we have this one. And this one, under the direction of Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter, and with only the thin reed of Anthony Kennedy preventing it from being a majority of the Supreme Court, has proven that it jolly well might enforce just such a provision... since four justices did exactly that.
All right, so we can't try them by any rational form of tribunal, since we certainly cannot risk exposure of secrets to the attorney provided by al-Qaeda for each prisoner. But the Court did say we could still hold the prisoners for the duration of hostilities. So no problem, right?
Yeah. Sure. Look again at Article 3, section 1, subsection (c):
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
I am sure that the quadrumvirate would hold that this utterly and completely prohibited the interrogation of captured terrorists, no matter where they were captured, where the interrogation took place, or what the circumstances were of the capture. If we caught one of three couriers carrying modified airborne ebola in aerosol containers, we could not, under Hamden, interrogate the prisoner to find out where the other two couriers were.
Certainly nothing more than asking him politely -- certainly not by any method that might outrage his personal dignity. Like, say, waterboarding.
At the moment, I think Congress can redraft the law allowing for tribunals to cover this by requiring a finding by the President of the United States first that a particular detainee is an unlawful combatant anent the Geneva Conventions, and only then can he be tried by the military tribunal. Presumably, this finding would be subject to litigation in the courts; but it's a fairly cut and dried issue, and the test could be written right into the new law.
But that's assuming Kennedy doesn't flip again. If he does, all bets are off.
Simply put, four of the nine justices, through their hysterical and borderline treasonous malinterpretation of the Geneva Conventions, would turn them into an international suicide pact. Stevens sees no "practicable" reasons why captured al-Qaeda terrorists with knowledge of an imminent WMD attack upon the American mainland should not be treated exactly the same as a United States Marine accused of pilfering the petty cash, with all the same rules, protections, and privileges, which includes protection against any form of aggressive interrogation.
So I believe -- purely for defensive purposes -- that it is now time to withdraw from the 1949 Geneva Conventions. It was a good treaty, and it served its purpose; but that was then, this is now.
Wait a minute, Dafydd... what about less drastic measures? If Kennedy flip-flops again, can't Congress just redraft the law to restore our ability to interrogate captured terrorists?
I cannot imagine they could: treaty obligations are considered by the Court the equivalent of constitutional provisions, and they cannot simply be waved away by legislation. No more than could Congress simply pass a law overturning part of the First Amendment. If a majority of the Court ever held that our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions required us to treat captured terrorists like members of our own military in courts-martial, Congress could not simply overrule that finding.
And evidently, they also cannot limit the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. They already tried that... and the Court (the full Court, Kennedy concurring) simply rejected it, notwithstanding the constitutional provision that says Congress has exactly that authority. Article III, section 2, of the United States Constitution:
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
All right; but what would happen if we did withdraw? Wouldn't that be dangerous for our own soldiers?
The second glib response is that if we do withdraw and no longer extend those protections to others, others will not extend them to us. But this is facile sophistry, because the only enemies we're likely to fight now or in the future -- whether Stalinist North Korea or al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups -- already ignore the Geneva Conventions... as the abduction of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, currently being held hostage by Hamas, demonstrates: holding hostages is against the Geneva Conventions.
Those countries that actually do abide by them are precisely those Western nations (like the United States) that would abide by them even if fighting a country that did not... and that we're not going to end up at war with in the first place. And even if we did, we could quickly negotiate a temporary treaty incorporating the Geneva protections for the duration of that war.
There is no downside to withdrawal, because the West has accepted their spirit, as it applies to wars against actual countries. For example, we ourselves adhere to the conventions in our treatment of Taliban and Iraqi insurgents who were captured fighting as armed militias while wearing uniforms and such; we do not apply the same interrogation techniques to them that we apply to captured unlawful combatants, such as terrorists.
Even though some Taliban members are at Gitmo, they are precisely those who behaved as unlawful combatants... which is why I'm not in the least confident that Justice Kennedy grasps the distinction; if he thinks that a terrorist becomes a non-terrorist because he happens to be a member of an organized army, even if he acts contrary to the conventions, then Kennedy could easily fall into Liberal-Land hand in hand with the quadrumvirate. It's a short and slippery slope.
So long as the conventions hang out there, and so long as there is no stomach on the part of other countries to negotiate a new protocol making absolutely clear that terrorists are unlawful combatants and are not covered by the protections of the conventions -- and why should they, especially signatories like Iran and Syria? -- the Geneva Conventions are a ticking time bomb, just waiting for one more Supreme Court justice to turn the plurality into a majority.
But the real question is whether the Court -- Kennedy included -- would allow us to withdraw. Having gone so far, would they go the rest of the way and hold that the conventions are eternal, and that we cannot withdraw even if we choose?
I've been looking and looking through them, and I cannot find any reference at all to withdrawal: nothing forbidding it, but no procedures for leaving, either. If Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter are willing to cripple -- essentially obliterate -- our ability to interrogate captured terrorists; and if even Kennedy considers following the conventions more urgent than surviving the war the jihadis imposed upon us; then I'm sure all five of them would move swiftly to prevent any attempt to wriggle out of the straightjacket by withdrawing from the Geneva Conventions altogether.
Which leaves us in a constitutional crisis: has the Supreme Court actually become "more equal" than the other equal powers? Is the only solution impeachment of justices -- assuming the Court would even allow that?
And would the Democrats, in the last analysis, vote to impeach even if Kennedy were to flip on the critical issue of treating all captured terrorists as prisoners of war? Or would they vote to acquit, sacrificing any hope of winning the war against jihadi terrorism in their BDS-driven need to hurt George W. Bush?
The Court has left us with a dreadful Sword of Damocles dangling above our heads. What are we going to do about it?
May 9, 2006
Playing "Seek the Funding"
Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics blog has a post up that wonders whether Hillary can be stopped. He continues the back-and-forth about whether Hillary can even be nominated (which I don't think she can be), let alone win. But he ends with this puzzling bit:
Then again, Hillary's star power, fundraising, and organization are of a different order of magnitude than everyone else which is why she may end up being "unstoppable."
I've seen this before, many times. It seems an article of faith that if a candidate has enough money, she can win no matter whether the voters like her or despise her.
Why do people believe this? Where is the evidence? The best-funded candidate doesn't always win. Obviously, a candidate who hasn't enough money is at a huge disadvantage... but suppose a conservative candidate in a very conservative congressional district is prepared to spend $5 million, and his ultra-liberal opponent is prepared to spend $100 million, or a billion dollars, or ten billion. Does anybody really believe that the ultra-liberal would be able to buy the election, no matter how much he spent?
How would he buy votes? Would he literally offer $100,000 to every voter to come in, fill out an absentee ballot while the liberal watched, and hand it over for the liberal to mail? Obviously that would be against the law (vote buying is a felony).
How many hours of advertising could a single candidate buy before it begins to be self-defeating? All it takes is a single accusation of "he's trying to buy the election" to make every further expenditure by the liberal become another nail in his political coffin.
Back to the case at hand. Suppose Sen. Hillary is immensely well-heeled, and suppose she's really, really well-organized: how much would she have to spend to win Wyoming, or Texas, or South Carolina? Suppose she blankets the South with three times as many adverts as her Republican opponent, whether it's Sen. George Allen or even Gov. Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney... how much would she have to spend to win that region in 2008?
Even if George Soros signs his entire fortune over to Hillary, and she organizes with the zeal of Joe Hill, will that drag the Midwest back to the Democrats? How about the West, apart from the left coast?
Looking at the map of 2004, the closest states were Ohio (which went to Bush), and Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, which went for Kerry. Some of those states would probably vote for Hillary, the others for the Republican (though it's possible it would be a clean sweep for the GOP): but I can't see any that would be swayed by a huge campaign expenditure.
And any level of organization by Hillary would likely be matched, volunteer for volunteer, and even overmatched by the vigor of organization against her by Republicans. The states will split entirely on the preferences of the voters between Hillary (were she to be nominated) and the Republican, whoever that ends up being.
And those preferences will be affected by what Hillary says and what the Republican says, but not by the amount of money either spends: both their messages will get out loud and clear, and more millions won't make any difference.
But maybe Tom meant she would be unstoppable in the primaries -- though he was responding to a John Podhoretz book, and he clearly meant "unstoppable" on her route back to la Casa Blanca. But it's not even true in primaries: the most heavily funded candidate in 2004's Democratic primaries was Howard Dean -- and he couldn't even make it past Iowa and New Hampshire.
It's the message and personality of the nominee that matters, beyond an obvious funding floor. Clear that hurdle, and what changes votes is who he is and what he says. And Hillary is at a huge disadvantage in both arenas, as I think even Tom Bevan agrees.
Sen. Hillary Clinton - Unnatural Disaster
I do not believe Hillary can be nominated. But even if she were, she would lose. The election would not be a landslide, not a blowout; but I cannot see her stealing any states that Bush won in 2004, though she could easily lose Kerry-won purple states by being generally perceived as screechy, condescending, and dishonest. All of the close states are exactly the sort of reserved, small-c conservative states that would be repelled by Hillary Clinton. While individual cities within those purple states (such as Detroit) would surely support her, the rest of the state would outvote them.
So the real question is not "is she unstoppable," but rather "isn't she unstartable?"
March 30, 2006
Democrats: Real Security Plan part Deux
We continue our thoughtful analysis, using our finely developed sense of serious, of the Democrats' trail-blazing PowerPoint show, titled Real Security... which they evidently intend to be the Contrat Avec l'America upon which they will base their entire November campaign.
The previous installation -- called Democrats: Real Security Plan I, oddly enough -- skipped the Overview and ridiculed... I should say examined the first two categories, 21st Century Military and War On Terror. This post takes a look at the last three.
Real Security: the Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World
Having swiftly solved all foreign policy problems (with the exception of Iraq; see below), the Democrats turn their rapier-like intelligence upon domestic security... which appears to include gasoline. But first, the Department of Homeland Security:
Here is where the Democrats intend to go to town, showing that the "colossal mismanagement" of the Bush administration, to quote Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Margaritaville), has actually made us less secure than before 9/11.
To Protect America from Terrorism and Natural Disasters, we will:
Immediately implement the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission including securing national borders, ports, airports and mass transit systems.
Screen 100% of containers and cargo bound for the U.S. in ships or airplanes at the point of origin and safeguard America’s nuclear and chemical plants, and food and water supplies.
I'm a bit at a loss what they mean here. One can only assume that since the president has gone "A.W.O.L.," to quote the omnipresent party Chairman Howard Dean, the lousy Republicans have let a few containers, originating in odd places around the world, float right past them without being opened and searched. Clearly, 100% success the only standard by which the GOP can be measured, which they could easily reach if they only tried. It's so simple: you just go right in there ("there" meaning "everywhere") and search them.
Unlike the lackadaisical GOP, when Democrats are in charge, they guarantee they will easily obtain permission to search all ports in enemy countries, such as Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, la belle France, Iran, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Tibet (oh wait, Tibet doesn't have any ports; but they might have an airport), looking for cargo containers bound for the United States, so they can open them. Bold, indeed!
Prevent outsourcing of critical components of our national security infrastructure -- such as ports, airports and mass transit -- to foreign interests that put America at risk.
It's not easy to move entire ports to foreign countries, and they don't do it very often. Nevertheless, it's refreshing to see a party step up and declare that the Port of Long Beach will positively not be moved to Abu Dhabi, no matter what the Republicans think. Also, Newark and Dallas-Fort Worth airports will stay right where they are, unless the latter can be persuaded to shift to a nearby blue state.
I actually wouldn't mind if we gave Amtrak to la belle France, though.
Provide firefighters, emergency medical workers, police officers, and other workers on the front lines with the training, staffing, equipment, and cutting-edge technology they need.
This training will personally be delivered by the Democratic caucus, with individual senators and representatives signing up to teach such techniques as use of the water cannon on high-rise structure fires, disaster triage, and baton employment for fun and profit. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has already called "dibs" on teaching the "swarm" technique, which he learned pushing through the scrum of porcine congressmen who unwisely stood between Chuck Schumer and a microphone.
Protect America from biological terrorism and pandemics, including the Avian flu, by investing in the public health infrastructure and training public health workers.
It is a little known but widely recognized fact that building a Harry Reid Memorial Spa and Casino at a local hospital will prevent viruses from mutating into human-transmittable form. "We killed the Patriot Act!" to quote Sen. Reid.
This is the biggie that we've all been waiting for, of course. The Democrats having staked out the "Iraq is in a civil war!" side of the debate, we're anxious to read how they intend to put a stop to it, and to the terrorist violence, and to the "sectarian" violence that has plagued that place for decades.
To Honor the Sacrifice of Our Troops, we will:
Ensure 2006 is a year of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with the Iraqis assuming primary responsibility for securing and governing their country and with the responsible redeployment of U.S. forces.
...To "over the horizon" positions in responsible Tahiti and Belize, to quote Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).
Insist that Iraqis make the political compromises necessary to unite their country and defeat the insurgency; promote regional diplomacy; and strongly encourage our allies and other nations to play a constructive role.
In an environmentally friendly effort to save paper, it appears the thrifty Democrats simply lifted this portion of their plan from the desk of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice... sort of a collegial, communitarian, "help thyself" attitude that I think we would all find refreshing on Capitol Hill. The Democrats' new slogan: "Only be sure always to call it please 'research'."
Hold the Bush Administration accountable for its manipulated pre-war intelligence, poor planning and contracting abuses that have placed our troops at greater risk and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.
Er -- surely the Democrats couldn't possibly mean in this passage that they will hold President Bush responsible via the United States Constitution, Article II, section 4... could they?
If so, this is pretty big news, and I confidently expect a public announcement of their intentions forthwith from Honest Hank.
We already gave you a taste of this last section in our last post; surely you remember how it begins:
To Free America from Dependence on Foreign Oil, we will:
Achieve energy independence for America by 2020 by eliminating reliance on oil from the Middle East and other unstable regions of the world.
Remember, you heard it here first, and you never heard it all from those darned Republicans, who are deeply in hock not only to Halliburton, but also to KB&R and every other subsidiary of Halliburton: the Democrats' plan for independence from Middle-East oil is to eliminate reliance on oil from the Middle East.
One cannot envision a clearer statement than that.
Increase production of alternate fuels from America’s heartland including bio-fuels, geothermal, clean coal, fuel cells, solar and wind; promote hybrid and flex fuel vehicle technology and manufacturing; enhance energy efficiency and conservation incentives.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman, please dust your desk for fingerprints. The Democrats are once again saving entire forests of paper! Though they seem to have lost the Post-It note about building more nuclear power plants -- the only proven-effective, long-term method of generating power without contributing any carbon to the atmosphere.
Given their concern about global warming, I'm sure the Democrats would be wildly in favor of shifting nearly all our electricity generation to nuclear fission plants... one wouldn't imagine they would be hypocrites, would one?
The environment is very important to Democrats, even in the context of Real Security... hence the inclusion of all this energy jazz in what is supposed to be a paper on national security. "Ultimately, part of the solution for the environmental crisis may well lie in our ability to achieve a better balance between the sexes, leavening the dominant male perspective with a healthier respect for female ways of experiencing the world," to quote former Democratic presidential nominee Albert J. Gore.
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean emphatically agrees: "I had a big fight with a local Episcopal church over the bike path." It's a credit to their sincerity that they should be so concerned about saving paper by lifting so many plans and concepts from the Bush administration.
The next section of the Democrats' comprehensive plan for Real Security of the United States -- oh, wait; there are no more sections.
That's all, folks. In tribute to Messrs. Gore and Dean, please turn off your computers after reading the rest of Big Lizards. We won't mind.
March 29, 2006
Democrats: Real Security Plan I
I have waited and waited, with breathless breath, for the Democrats finally to release their long promised "plan" for governance (would it have been too much to expect a Five Year Plan?) I know many of you have been gnawing your fingernails to the white meat, fretting over what stunning surprises they had in store.
Well, wait, fret, and gnaw no longer: Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Even though there is a lot less here than meets the eye, it still takes a bit of writing to translate the "comprehensive plan for providing the American people with real security" into a comprehensive plan for providing the American people with real security.
But I'll do what I can to explicate the grand Contrat Avec l'America that will form the centerpiece of the Democratic congressional campaign strategy in seven months. Bear with me, please; throw no pies at the messenger. Watch your hat and coat.
Real Security: the Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World
Quoted passages are of course quotations from the Democrats' Real Security plan; but I had to retype them by hand, as the text itself is not selectable. Of course, I could have just downloaded the PDF file and copied out of there, but I didn't think of that until just now, when I'd already finished. So if you find a tyop, just ignore it. You know what I mean anyway.
You're not interested. Trust me. You can read it for yourself; and if you do, you'll discover you're not interested in this section. I know what I'm talking about.
Let's jump right to the meat.
To Ensure Unparalleled Military Strength and Honor Our Troops, we will:
Rebuild a state-of-the-art military by making the needed investments in equipment and manpower so that we can project power to protect America wherever and whenever necessary.
For all those who were under the silly impression that Democrats couldn't bore right down and get specific -- eat your hearts out. It's hard to envision a more complete and fully fleshed-out program than this. Stunning in its specificity, it is also incisive to the point of brutality in enumerating the huge gap between the Democratic position and "the failed policies of President Bush and the Republican-led Congress," to quote Howard Dean.
In the great Democratic traditions of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and fully in line with the strong, pro-military rhetoric of Democratic nominees Albert J. Gore and John F. Kerry, the current Democratic plan is to make "the needed investments in equipment and manpower," so that we shall finally have a "state-of-the-art military."
Who could ask for more explication than that?
No longer need we languish behind such technological marvels of military excellence as Canada, Germany, Egypt, and la belle France. At last, we shall be able to hold our heads up among the armies of the world.
Guarantee that our troops have the protective gear, equipment, and training they need and are never sent to war without accurate intelligence and a strategy for success.
No longer will our troops be sent into battle naked except for loincloths, carrying spears and slings, and having received only a scant three days' intense training on the playground monkey bars. Unlike "the same misleading rhetoric and failed leadership offered by Republicans," to quote Howard Dean, when Democrats are in charge of Congress, they will mandate that troops be given diplomatic credentials, video cameras, and spend at least a couple of days on the range practicing their non-violent negotiating skills.
Unlike the Republican leadership -- which is "dangerously incompetent," to quote Howard Dean -- the Democrats pledge never to send troops to Iraq and tell them it's Cancun; and Majority Leaders Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will personally conduct orientation talks before troops depart, explaining to them the Democratic strategy for success: step onto the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport, declare victory, and go home.
Enact a G.I. Bill of Rights for the 21st Century that guarantees our troops -- active, reserve, and retired -- our veterans, and their families receive the pay, health care, mental health services, and other benefits they have earned and deserve.
Strengthen the National Guard, in partnership with the nation's Governors, to ensure it is fully manned, equipped and available to meet missions at home and abroad.
Heh, I'll bet you didn't know that, due to the Republicans' "continued failure to take the steps necessary to protect the safety and security of our communities," to quote Howard Dean, our military haven't been paid for the last six months. The only way they have survived is by winning money from each other in poker games.
But the Democrats are going to change all that. Under the future Democratic Congress, our soldiers will finally receive the "mental health services" they so urgently need to determine why they keep voting for Republicans, such as the "miserable failure" in the White House, to quote Howard Dean. And Harry Reid.
And you probably thought the National Guard was fully manned. The more fool you. Plenty of people have finished their service in the Guard and retired, let me tell you.
But that's coming to an end as soon as the Dynamic Duo, Reid and Pelosi, are in power: starting in January, 2007, the Democratic Congress will enact legislation to make military and guard service permanent, and nobody will be allowed to retire until she is ready for Social Security. In order to ensure an adequate supply of volunteers, they will swiftly enact the proposal of the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), and reinstate the military draft.
To Defeat Terrorists and Stop the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction, we will:
Eliminate Osama bin Laden, destroy terrorist networks like al Qaeda, finish the job in Afghanistan, and end the threat posed by the Taliban.
Well, that takes care of that!
If you demand to know actual operational details of the Osama plan -- and isn't that just what Republicans always object to when Democrats demand to know exactly when our troops will leave Iraq and exactly where and when the next raid on Zarqawi will take place? -- the Democrats will explain and clarify: they'll "just go right in there and get him," to quote Phil Donohue.
Double the size of our special forces, increase our human intelligence capabilities, and ensure our intelligence is free from political pressure.
Now who can argue with that?
- Since the bottleneck in increasing special forces is finding the right men for the job and training them up, the wily Democrats have a plan to cut through all the red tape: they will "double the size of our special forces" by cutting the standards in half.
- They will "increase our human intelligence capabilities" by adding la Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure de la belle France to the Department of Homeland Security, and by subscribing to Le Monde.
- And they'll "ensure our intelligence is free from political pressure" by replacing the contents of questionable (pro-war) conclusions of the CIA or other agencies with "there was no terrorism in Iraq before we went there. None. There was no connection with al-Qaida. There was no connection with terrorism in Iraq itself," to quote Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).
Having taken care of the shadowy intelligence and clandestine aspects of the war, the Democrats MoveOn to the root causes of terrorism itself:
Eliminate terrorist breeding grounds by combatting the economic, social, and political conditions that allow extremism to thrive...
Not, you understand, by implementing democracy; that is part of the "failed policies of the past," to quote Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace). Whoops, my mistake; Minority Leader. Getting ahead of ourselves there.
Rather, the Democrats pledge to take a far more effective step; they will:
[L]ead international efforts to uphold and defend human rights; and renew longstanding alliances that have advanced our national security objectives.
Such as our alliance with la belle France.
Secure by 2010 loose nuclear materials that terrorists could use to build nuclear weapons or dirty bombs.
Translation: all nuclear power plants will be shut down and their fuel transferred to international control at the Hague (piled into one big container, one presumes).
Redouble efforts to stop nuclear weapons development in Iran and North Korea.
As Democratic efforts consist of stern warnings and financial incentives, one must presume that redoubling such efforts means financial incentives will be twice as big.
Next post: we shall finish examining this "bold vision for a safer America," to quote Howard Dean, tackling the Democratic Real Security plans for Homeland Security, Iraq, and Energy Independence -- the last of which includes a brilliant plan that seems never to have occurred to the Republicans, who have instead presided over a "culture of corruption," to quote Howard Dean (and Minority Leader Reid, Minority Leader Pelosi, Sens. Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller, and approximately 40 other senators and 201 other representatives).
A quick tease of the Democrats bold, new plan for Energy Independence:
Achieve energy independence for America by 2020 by eliminating reliance on oil from the Middle East and other unstable regions of the world.
Tune in later today, same Bat time, same Batblog.
February 16, 2006
HillaryCare and Feeding
John Hinderaker over at -- uh... that other blog, I forget the name -- has an interesting proxy-debate between Dick Morris (the man who would bean Hillary, as excerpted by the man who would be a political live wire) and Amity Shlaes (off'n Bloomberg). The subject: how to handle a Hillary without losing fingers.
Reeeallly boiled down, like cooking caramel, Dick Morris says that Republicans should keep pointing out how angry she gets, because Hillary's response to being called angry is to get even angrier. This handcuffs her (now there's a thought!), since her only two modes of campaigning are Yawnery and Shrillery. "It is like criticizing Nixon for being too negative," says Morris; "each new negative he threw hurt him more than the adversary."
On the other hand, Shlaes prefers a more serious campaign (the outdent is Hinderaker, the indent is Shlaes):
Amity notes that even as Hillary was campaigning, the country was sinking into recession. She instinctively opposed President Bush's remedy, tax cuts. But those tax cuts did a great deal of good in New York....McMahon figures that for the six-year period of Clinton's first term New Yorkers will have kept $60 billion that they would have otherwise paid in taxes. Lots of people in New York don't get a Wall Street bonus. This tax cut was their bonus. Deprive them of it, and you limit the bonuses to Wall Street. You favor the rich in exactly the way that Clinton opposes.
Kids, kids, take a clue from Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: the key here is not to pick one approach over the other but to combine your strategies. How about this:
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