McCain Slams GOP: “Lost Our Way as a Party”

Senator John McCainArizona Senator John McCain, along with fellow-Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, unleashed on the Republican Party today, noting their shortcomings and saying that there was little to differentiate between them and Democrats when it came to massive federal spending:

“I think if this were not an odd-numbered year, we would have great difficulties,” said U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

[…] “If the election were tomorrow, we’d be in trouble,” agreed Graham, who said the party must work to cut spending.

“If we really want to do well in 2006, we need to have fiscal discipline like Republicans campaigned on,” he said. “We have lost our way as a party. Our base is deflated and taxpayers don’t see any difference between us and the Democrats.”

Graham said the party has to again reach the voters.

“You don’t have to stop being conservative, you got to start connecting,” he said, adding “we need to adjust and if we don’t adjust, we’re going to be in trouble.”

With both Republicans and Democrats getting burned in recent polls, it may already be too late to turn the ship around for the GOP. McCain, on the short-list for possible 2008 presidential candidates, may be better off defecting to a third party in 2008, considering his views on spending and limited government may be closer to that of the Libertarian Party or Constitution Party.


Russia’s New Nuke may Nerf U.S. Missile Defense

Russian warhead (file photo)Last November, Russian president Vladimir Putin promised a warhead that according to analysts would be “capable of defeating any space-based defense system.” In a recent flight test of a new warhead, Putin delivered on that promise with new technology that allows the warhead to change course during flight. From the Washington Times:

The missile booster fired for a shorter-than-usual duration in placing the dummy warhead and re-entry vehicle into space. The warhead then dropped down to a lower trajectory and was able to maneuver.

Kremlin officials were quoted in Russian press reports as saying the new warhead was designed to thwart the new U.S. missile-defense system of interceptors deployed in Alaska and California.

The U.S. missile defense shield has been under scrutiny in the past for budget overruns and failure to hit even non-maneuvering target missiles. However, the recent news indicates that the whole endeavor may have been for naught — as the Russian response may spark a new anti-missile arms race.

The estimated cost of running the defense program was last fingered at $830 million per month.

Previously on Hammer of Truth:
Missile Defense Test Fails . . . Again
Pentagon: These Missiles were made for Launching…
Missile Defense Test Thwarted by… Clouds?
Russia: Putin Hedging Bets with New Nuke Program


Dubya Finally Finds Some Kindred Spirits

With the continuing decline in his domestic approval ratings, one should not be surprised by news reports coming from Mongolia indicating Bush’s popularity with the locals. The Australians already know his game, and report that he skipped out of Rosa Parks’ recent funeral in order to escape being booed.

The International Herald Tribune reports it this way:

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — If you are an American president in need of just a few hours of temporary political asylum – no debate about Iraq, no Chinese leaders stiff-arming the U.S. agenda, and plenty of adulation – here is the solution: Come to the endless steppes that Ghengis Khan made famous.

For those not up on their history, Wiki provides us with this refresher course:

Destruction and effects on civilians

Genghis preferred to offer opponents the chance to submit to his rule without a fight, but was merciless if he encountered any resistance: in such cases he would mercilessly attack the population of the resisting cities leaving engineers, submitted troops, artists, spies and human shields to survive. There also were instances of mass slaughters even where there was no resistance, especially in Northern China, where the vast majority of the populations had long histories of accepting nomadic rulers.

Genghis’ conquests were characterized by wholesale destruction on an unprecedented scale and radically changes in the demographics of Asia. Over much of Central Asia Indo-European Persian-speakers were replaced by Turkic speakers. According to the works of Iranian historian Rashid al-Din, the Mongols killed over 70,000 people in Merv and more than a million in Nishapur. China suffered a drastic decline in population. Before the Mongol invasion, China had 80 million inhabitants; after the complete conquest in 1279, the census in 1300 showed it to have roughly 60 million people. How many of these deaths were attributable directly to Genghis and his forces is unclear.

One might think that Dubya and Genghis have a lot in common, such as their love of empire or general ruthlessness. There are some striking differences between the two, though. To begin, Kahn’s military personnel file is significantly more complete than Bush’s, with no one year gap in his Air Guard Calvary service records. Additionally, Genghis Kahn had a true love of horses, unlike the American fake tin star president. As reported in the International Herald Tribune article:

Gift horse? No thanks.

Bush may love Texas, and love his ranch, as he reminded Mongolians Monday when he stood in their Parliament and compared their land to his. But his enthusiasm does not extend to another Mongolian passion – horses.

When the U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was here a month ago, the Mongolians presented him with their highest honor: a beautiful gelding that he named Montana. When the White House caught wind of this tradition, they knew they would have to head it off at the pass, so to speak. “There aren’t any horses at the Bush ranch,” one of his aides noted. “At least none that he rides.”

Despite the common history of ruthless empire building, it seems that even the Mongols could begin to hate Bush as much as we do when they get to know him a little better.


Know your Exits: Bush’s Door Gaffe

Bush presidency definedA press conference in China turned humorous Sunday when Bush was unable to escape tough questions by simply walking out of the room. After being irked by one reporter who asked if he was “off his game” and requested a follow-up, Bush responded “No you may not,” and turned to a pair of double doors stage left. Problem was, both doors were locked (video link, high quality vid).

The president, aware of the obvious humor, stood comically still for a moment in front of the gathered reporters before saying “I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn’t work.”

Normally, this would merit a chuckle at our not-so-suave-in-chief, but the phrase “exit strategy” just seems to fly out of everyone’s mouth. Now, I’m not one to try and draw some parallel between Iraq and this event, but this just strikes me as a Gerald Ford falling down the airplane stairs moment.

Will this event become the historic caricature of the Bush presidency?

Update: I imagine the caricature version would be something similar to the humorous Saturday Night Live Funhouse skit cartoons. Audio is from some random old Bush speech about staying the course in Iraq. On screen, he tries various methods of opening the door (from putting a foot up on the other door and yanking on it violently to chopping on it with an ax to the crescendo of blowing the door up with dynamite).

And speaking of SNL, be sure to watch this weekend’s opening skit and Weekend Update.


Donald Trump for President

Donald TrumpA recent post by Jake Porter got me thinking. Ross Perot might be out, but Donald Trump seems like a suitable replacement.

Trump on Iraq and Osama:

“What was the purpose of the whole thing?” Donald Trump asks in an Esquire interview. “Hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs?”

“Tell me, how is it possible that we can’t find a guy who’s 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?” Trump said. “Can you explain that one to me? We have all our energies focused on one place – where they shouldn’t be focused.”

That same article suggests Trump is a Republican, but his donations to Democrats trumps those to Republicans by a small margin. Personally, I think he would make an excellent Libertarian candidate.


$500 Million Tax Dollars to “Secure” Sahara Desert

A mere $500 million will be spent to make us all safe from the Sahara Desert:

The U.S. government will spend $500 million over five years on an expanded program to secure a vast new front in its global war on terrorism: the Sahara Desert.

Critics say the region is not a terrorist zone as some senior U.S. military officers assert. They add that heavy-handed military and financial support that reinforces authoritarian regimes in North and West Africa could fuel radicalism where it scarcely exists.

I wonder which of Bush’s cronies will be the recipients of this huge waste of money.


Rumsfeld Reports, You Decide

According to this report (audio available), Donald Rumsfeld claims that the treatment political prisoners detainees receive in Guantanamo Bay is both excellent and professional.

DONALD RUMSFELD: The situation in Guantanamo Bay has been looked at by literally hundreds of journalists, by hundreds of members of the United States House and Senate, by the International Committee for the Red Cross, which has been there since the outset, and has in fact physically been located there during much of the period.

Uniformly people who go there come away saying that it is being handled in a highly professional manner and that the treatment that’s being provided people in Guantanamo Bay is excellent.

In this context, my definition for uniformly means loddy doddy everybody. To the best of my knowledge, Rustam Akhmiarov is indeed a somebody, and ISN tells his tale:

Ahmiarov said he was studying Arabic at the Islamic university in Karachi when he was picked up by the Pakistani police and imprisoned. He claimed he was given no explanation for his arrest and no official charges were brought against him.

After three weeks, he claimed, he was handed over to US officials for a sum of US$5,000. He said he was then taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan where he spent six months in what he described as a “concentration camp”, and was later allegedly transferred to Guantanamo for a further 18 months.

He told ISN Security Watch he was kept in solitary confinement for months on end and interrogated on an almost daily basis.

“All they wanted me to do was to confess to being a member of al-Qaida, or incriminate someone else,” he said.

Ahmiarov claimed he was subjected to a variety of torture techniques, including the administration of mind-altering drugs.

“I was beaten, and I saw other people being beaten. I was subjected to torture by cold and by insomnia, and by mind-changing medicines, and dogs as well,” he claimed.

Eventually Akhmiarov was turned over to Russian authorities and released, as no evidence was found against him.

To give Rummy the benefit of the doubt, let’s consider his complicity in the Abu Ghraib tortures. Perhaps by Rumsfeld’s standards Dr. Mengele was truly “professional”, and the medical care he provided was indeed “excellent”.


“Libertarian” the In Vogue Adjective

On the radio, the TV and throughout the blogosphere I have noticed an increase in the use of the word “Libertarian.” But, it seems that whenever the word is used it is to associate the political philosphy with some other THING. On the radio I heard someone being referred to as a “CIVIL Libertarian.” On TV a few days ago someone pointed out that the perspective of one commentator was “Libertarian THINKING.” I read articles about Scalito’s “Libertarian STREAK” and then there is the “Libertarian WING” of conservatism.

I find it curious that media personalities toss around the “L” word to describe characteristics of conversation or to label specific aspects of their idealogy and not as a reference to the philsophy as a whole.

When and why did “Libertarian” become such a popular adjective?! Does this use of “Libertarian” hurt or help the party’s constant effort to “get the word out?”

I do find some satisfaction when the politicking pundits use my party’s label as a reference to behavior or actions that reflect the Constitution. Then again (putting on foil cap) the conspiracist in me feels that the Democrats and Republicans are slinging the “L” word around to suade anyone considering the Libertarian party that they share the same political beliefs… maybe that’s just me.


Marijuana Deranged Pit Bulls Injure Six

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

This is not a joke. From the Chicago Tribune:

Toxicology tests are being done on the bodies of three pit bulls shot after they mauled two children and four adults to determine if the dogs ingested marijuana found inside their owner’s home, authorities said Tuesday.

The dogs’ owner, Scott Sword, 41, of the 6600 block of Hawthorne Drive near Cary, has been charged with felony possession of marijuana and misdemeanor production of marijuana plants, said McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren.

On Nov. 5 police handling the dog attack found five harvested marijuana plants growing in Sword’s back-yard garden and more than 30 grams of marijuana in his home,Nygren said.

The dogs, which were killed by police, were sent to a veterinary laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they are being tested for drugs, specifically marijuana, said Edin Mehanovic, the county’s animal control administrator.

If the dogs ate marijuana, police want to know if it may have contributed to their vicious behavior.

The only joke is that the Reefer Madness Syndrome is still alive and well in the United States. That is unless “killer weed” caused the dogs to get the munchies and chase after a bag of human Fritos.



Litigious Society: Not so Fast Mr. Balko

Radley Balko of The Agitator has an otherwise good post up detailing the scandal of how a couple was raided by SWAT after being tipped off by an feuding family member. It’s pretty screwed up how the police warrant-shopped around until they could get the raid approval. On that, Balko is — as usual — on top of his game. What’s problematic is his litigious solution:

Here’s hoping the Davises get at least the $12.5 million the Gallardos got. Perhaps a bankruptcy will convince North Richland Hills’ inept public officials to a) exercise some oversight over its jacked-up police department, b) rethink the policy of sending the SWAT team after nonviolent offenders, and c) put some accountability mechanisms in place when things go wrong in the future.

No Treason chimes in by noting the money isn’t free:

Why would that work? The money won’t be coming out of the pockets of these people, it will of course be paid out of tax revenues. And a public bankruptcy won’t show up on their individual credit reports.

I was instantly reminded of a recent South Park episode on litigation (sexual harassment lawsuits), but the moment of clarity sums it up nicely (and humorously):

[The courthouse. Closing arguments begin.] […]
Petey, the Sexual Harassment Panda: Listen to me: when you sue somebody, it hurts everyone. You sue for money, but where do you think that money comes from? From the schools, from taxes, from the state. From you. [The courtroom is silent, listening] There’s no such thing as free money. When you sue somebody, you take money away from parks and schools and charities, and put it in your own pocket. And that makes me a sa-a-a-a-ad panda. [reactions are seen in the faces of various people in the courtroom, even in Gerald’s face.]

Bearded man: I’m a sad panda, too.

Man 1: I’m a really sad panda. I didn’t know we were doing all that damage. This is all that damn lawyer’s fault! [people get angry at Gerald Broflovski, Kyle’s dad]

Man 2: [rises] Yeah! Let’s sue the lawyer!

All: [rising] Yeah!

Gerald: [approaches Petey and the boys] No! Don’t you see? Th-the panda’s right. Boy, what a great message he has! When you sue people, you just end up causing a lot of problems for society. Uhwell, I’ve really learned something today. All I could see was the millions of dollars coming to me and I didn’t care about where the money came from. Well, I’m no longer doing sexual harassment lawsuits in schools! They’re too vague and two easily corruptible. Thank you, Sexual Harassment Panda!

Petey: “Don’t Sue People” Panda.

Gerald: Yeah, well, whatever, sooo let’s sue anyone again. Okay, come on, guys. Let’s go get some ice cream!

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West Virginia: Drunk with Power

West Virginia grain alcohol banWest Virginia banned high-proof grain alcohol sales this week, citing bogus concerns by college officials that can be summed up by simply saying they don’t think people should be able to get drunk on the cheap (“you’ll notice that people don’t drink grain at a cocktail party”). Forget that college is where most people learned the Zen of Ramen noodles and note that they didn’t cite any actual cases of abuse.

Rogier van Bakel of Nobody’s Business retorts on the ban:

I’m sure it’ll be a terrible blow to college bars and frathouses everywhere, because now the kids have nothing to get drunk on. Except gin, vodka, bourbon, Jaegermeister, and about ten thousand other widely available alcoholic beverages.

Yeah, but now they’ll have to actually go buy a cleaning agent to remove the permanent marker scribbilings off their buddy in the morning.


Who Really Owns the Internet?

It is almost as if recent headlines are holding a conversation. PCWorld asks, “Who’s Running the Internet?”

“US Retains Control of Internet – for Now” is the answer provided by CNSNews.

The immediate issue at stake was whether the United Nations should wrest control of Internet domain names from ICANN, but seriously deeper issues were being debated, too. From CNSNews:

In an outcome that has drawn mixed reactions, more than 170 governments at a U.N. summit in Tunisia have agreed to leave the U.S. effectively in control of managing the Internet, while also setting up a new Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to enable governments, businesses and other “stakeholders” to discuss public policy issues.

In response to the control issue, the LA Times is not in total agreement:

Not that the federal government wields much power over the Net. Its influence is essentially confined to the mundane but important issue of how domain names are assigned.

The BBC sees it differently, though:

In the days leading up to the Tunis summit, the US had loudly indicated that it was not prepared to make concessions.

Indeed, it adopted a very hard line by even questioning its commitment to independence for country-code domains such as Britain’s .uk domain.

Without a credible threat, the US was able to maintain its position and ultimately force everyone else to deal.

To be quite clear, any government (or private entity for that matter) has the ability to establish its own “Internet”, either by using the current technical protocols or by establishing new ones. There are no technological or significant economic constraints prohibiting any country or transnational group of people from seceding from the ICANNet. The obvious downside to such a secession would be the loss of benefits derived from association with the larger body — but that is always the price to be paid with any secession attempt, be it interpersonal, technical or governmental.

While I’ve certainly had some problems with ICANN over the years, the surrender of Internet name and numbering control to the United Nations is indeed scary. They managed to sneak in a new bureaucracy at this summit. As with all Leviathans, one can expect the IGF not only to discuss, but also to eventually regulate public policy issues. Any such regulation will necessarily mean a loss of freedom on the Internet. The BBC column clearly indicates one dismal future view of international Internet regulation:

Not only does the Tunis agreement address many global concerns, but it also points to the future of the internet governance debate.

Armed with these provisions, countries will look to the newly established governance forum as the venue to raise grievances and pursue continued reform.

Although the US suggests that the governance forum is non-binding and relatively powerless, it actually appears to look much like WSIS itself.

Both are multilateral, multi-stakeholder, non-binding, UN created, and able to address a wide range of internet and technology policy issues.

Notwithstanding its limitations, WSIS succeeded in putting internet governance squarely on the map.

As its obvious successor, the governance forum has the potential to emerge as the platform to allow for a continued emphasis on internet regulation concerns.

Delegates may have resolved the issue for now, but the debate appears to be far from over.

The implications are Orwellian, at best. Little Brother is already burdensome with respect to Internet regulation, and the global community wants place all the power in the benevolent hands of Big Brother. To turn even a miniscule amount of control over to the UN is tantamount to allowing Kofi Annan to take just a little bit of one’s virginity.

While ICANN may have a limited amount of control over how we arrive at our favorite Internet destinations, we go there voluntarily and they have no control over the content once we get there. To conclude the conversation between headlines, the LA Times could not have stated it better when it said, “Hands off the Net”!


Where’s Ross Perot?

We had Michael Badnarik in 2004, but nobody listened. How many more times will you vote for big government before you wake up and say no more.

Walker’s not the only one saying it. As Congress and the White House struggle to trim up to $50 billion from the federal budget over five years – just 3% of the $1.6 trillion in deficits projected for that period – budget experts say the nation soon could face its worst fiscal crisis since at least 1983, when Social Security bordered on bankruptcy.

Without major spending cuts, tax increases or both, the national debt will grow more than $3 trillion through 2010, to $11.2 trillion – nearly $38,000 for every man, woman and child. The interest alone would cost $561 billion in 2010, the same as the

Read full story.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Shane Cory writes:

I know it’s just a title for your site’s latest entry but Ross Perot has dropped out of politics for good. I spoke with Russ Verney a few weeks ago and Ross has created a private hospital to treat Iraq war veterans that the government was failing to assist.

Here’s a link to an older story about Perot being honored for his assistance of Vietnam Veterans.


Bipartisan Bickering Leads to More Deaths in Iraq

While Democrats and Republicans continue their petty bickering, Americans continue to die in Iraq. Both sides had the opportunity to vote on a withdrawal resolution offered by Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania. Hoping to embarrass the Democrats, Republicans took Murtha’s resolution and basically stripped it down to the following words, “It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.”

The AP reported:

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said the resolution was intended “to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Not to be outdone, Pelosi decided to continue increasing the amount of body bags flown back from Iraq:

For those reasons, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent word to the rank-and-file to vote with the Republicans against immediate withdrawal of American troops.

While the wording of the resolution is in keeping with the views of a majority of Americans, both major parties sent their message loudly and clearly to the American people: We don’t care if your children continue to die in Iraq, so long as we don’t lose any political power.

According to the BBC:

Stephen Hess is another renowned Washington scholar who has served on the White House staffs of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, and advised Presidents Ford and Carter.

He says the current level of argument has reached a “miserable point”.

“One side says ‘you are liars’, the other says ‘you are traitors’ – it doesn’t move the debate very far,” he told the BBC.

My observation is that the lines are blurred, and there is no real difference between those called liars and those called traitors.

UPDATE: Sen. John Kerry continues the bipartisan battle of sound-bytes while continuing to support our continued presence in Iraq. ABC News reported just today:

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., says U.S. troops do not necessarily need to be pulled out of Iraq right away, as a senior Democrat suggested this week, but they need more leadership from the Bush administration.

“What we need is a little more commander-in-chief, and a little less campaigner-in-chief,” Kerry said in an exclusive interview on “Good Morning America Weekend Edition.”

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Rethinking My Views on Intelligent Design

Flying Spaghetti MonsterI’ve already applauded the Kansas Board of Education for their recent decision to teach intelligent design. Thanks to their innovative approach to teaching science, we no longer have to fear that our children will be taught heretical ideas like the earth revolving around the sun or that seafaring dinosaurs weren’t created on the fifth day.

I felt that I was alone in my beliefs until I ran into the website of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster today. Like me, they strongly believe in teaching intelligent design theory. In an open letter to the Kansas School Board, they write:

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

They even provide scientific evidence to back their claims:

What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I’ve learned a lot since visiting their website. In addition to finally understanding how the world was really created, I also now know that “global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s.”

I’d like to take this time to thank the brave people in each and every school system which has closed the door to scientific methodology. It is truly refreshing to be free of the burden of free thinking, objective reasoning and empiricism.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: As long as we’re talking about funny creationism being taught, don’t miss out on the Genesis Creation Museum. You’ll learn that the T. Rex chased Adam and Eve out of Eden and see how children naivelly played with dinosaurs under a waterfall (and were quickly eaten, which is why they never made drawings or tools from dino bones).

More recent related article here.


FEC Affirms First Amendment Rights for Bloggers

Free SpeechIt is not often that you will catch me writing anything positive about the Federal Elections Commission. Today is an exception. The FEC unanimously issued an Advisory Opinion 2005-16 today, opining that blogs have the same rights as other forms of media.

At issue was whether blogs are to be exempted from campaign finance laws. The FEC Opinion states:

According to the House report on the 1974 amendments to the Act, the press exception made plain Congress’s intent that the Act would not “limit or burden in any way the first amendment freedoms of the press . . .” and would assure “the unfettered right of the newspapers, TV networks, and other media to cover and comment on political campaigns.”

The opinion came as a result of a request for an advisory opinion submitted by The FEC determined that online political commentary is clearly not considered a campaign contribution.

Thus, because Fired Up is a press entity, and neither it nor its websites are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate, the costs Fired Up incurs in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial on its websites are exempt from the definitions of “contribution” and “expenditure.” The Commission notes that an entity otherwise eligible for the press exception would not lose its eligibility merely because of a lack of objectivity in a news story, commentary, or editorial, even if the news story, commentary, or editorial expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for Federal office.

William Ernest Hocking perhaps said it best with, “Where men cannot freely convey their thoughts to one another, no other liberty is secure.”


Senators try to Kill Patriot Act Renewal


A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders Thursday they will try to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination Senate-mandated protections against “unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance” in a House-Senate compromise.

“If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law,” GOP Sens. Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold and Ken Salazar said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees. [emphasis added]

Score one for rational lawmaking. I’m actually hoping they get the cold-shoulder on this so it will become big news and more senators will back them.

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Poll: Utter Disapproval with Bush/Reps/Dems

A new poll indicates bad news across the board for Bush, Republicans and even Democrats — from Political Wire:

President Bush’s job approval continues to fall, “touching another new low for his presidency,” according to the latest Harris Interactive poll. “Bush’s current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August.”

“Vice President Dick Cheney’s approval ratings slipped to 30% this month from 35% in August.”

However, Democrats also saw “one of the biggest dips in approval” in this poll. “Only a quarter of Americans polled give Democrats a positive rating in the latest poll, compared with 31% in August, while Republicans’ approval ratings fell to 27% from 32%.”

The 34% Libertarians need to win any 3-way elections is looking more feasible with each new poll, now we just need some star candidates and the money machine to back that up.


Bingo-playing Terrorists

Evidently the Department of Homeland Stupidity Security thinks that “terrorists” are going to infiltrate your local Bingo hall. Kentucky has been awarded a grant to protect it’s vulnerable citizens from this imminent threat.

But to some, the idea of protecting bingo halls from terrorists is nonsensical.

“It’s almost ludicrous,” said Rick Bentley, a Henry Clay High School sports booster as he volunteered last Thursday at a noisy, smoke-filled Lexington bingo parlor. “The thought would never even enter my mind.”

As a side note, the article presents an interesting factoid about Bingo:

With more than 1,300 organizations licensed to raise money through gambling, charitable gaming raised $51 million in 2003.

This could be a good way for your local Libertarian organization to raise some money. Given that being a Libertarian probably makes you an enemy of the state by default, you might as well give the DHS something to do with their free time.

Kudos to


A Freshman’s Perspective on the Pledge.

Larissa came home tonight and told me that they were instructed to recite the Pledge of Allegience today at school. She said they had not been required, before today, to participate. She stood as instructed, but did not hold her hand over her heart or speak out loud. Her reason? “The pledge” means nothing today. She said that she did not feel like the patriotic intent was there. We spent some time discussing whether patriotism was to be loyal to a country, or if it was truly an inclination to be loyal to the individual self while protecting the freedom of another’s inclination. She explained that requiring the pledge has dulled its meaning. She, of course, knows that “under God” was not originally written, and she knows that America is very far from the spirit which inspired the words. She acted, in my opinion, very much as she should. She was contemplative and she dug deep into her own thoughts to determine why she would be required to recite words for good measure. She wondered why her pledge rather than her acts would make her a good person; an American. She questioned authority-respectfully. She questioned her role and she broke from the herd.


Alaska Bridges Gap to De-funding..

Alaska - bridge to nowhere

The Club for Growth informs us the notorious bridge to nowhere ($223 million in pork) has supposedly gotten the axe, yet the money still goes to Alaska to spend as they see fit:

However, this can only be seen as a small victory. The millions of dollars allocated for this pork project will go to the Alaska state government for them to spend as they see fit — instead of the money going to the Katrina relief effort — or, heaven forbid, back to federal taxpayers.

Radley Balko appropriately calls it “smoke and mirrors” and remains skeptical:

It’s a cheap stunt by the GOP to deflect public criticism that doesn’t really change much of anything. All the conference committee did was remove the earmark for the bridges. Alaska will still be getting the same obscene amount of money from the federal government, it’s just that the state won’t be required to use it to build those two particular bridges. It’ll be up to the executive and the state legislature to decide how to spend it.

He notes that the money could very well still end up funding the bridge (though it’s not unreasonable to suspect the new bureaucratic overhead will have a toll).

Frankly, I think we should take some victory from the buzz it’s generating — enough to get PorkBusters (wikipedia) some well deserved media attention and raise the public consciousness on federal pork handouts.

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GOP Memo: Terrorist Attack Will Save Us!

Words cannot express how unbelievably upsetting this is. I hope and pray this memo is a hoax. But considering that the PNAC paper called for a “New Pearl Harbor“, I won’t put it past them.

This memo scores a hefty 8.5 on the “What the hell were they thinking” meter. The key words are emphasized:

A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and “restore his image as a leader of the American people.”

The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”

I believe this fits this definition perfectly.

2 A person of a rapacious, predatory, or profiteering nature.

For these guys, another 9/11 is a wet dream. Their constituents will run to them for protection, while simultaneously forgiving them for screwing up the economy, our liberties, and frankly anything they touch.

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American POWs: Still Alive?

POW signThis is not late breaking news, but more of a problem that our elected servants in Washington find kind of embarrassing and of little concern.

It’s been painfully obvious for many years that many of our nation’s soldiers that put their lives on the line, were left in Vietnam and Korea. Family members trying to find real answers are met with nothing but bureaucratic red tape. A concerned relative writes:

Two of the major corrupt politicians he wants to expose as liars and two-faced traitors, in what he calls the “biggest military cover-up in the history of our country,” are former Presidential candidate and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former Vietnam POW declared a national hero.

“He’s no hero,” said Dumas, 74, in an extended conversation this week from his Connecticut home. “He’s anything but a hero. Ask why he had the Senate, through Kerry’s influence, seal all his POW records in Vietnam? He had these records sealed for life and is hiding the true story of how he sided with the North Vietnamese to save his own skin.”

Even Ron Paul is calling for an investigation. I agree, it’s long overdue.

While I’m adamantly opposed to this war in Iraq, I certainly would forgo immediate departure to pick up all the remaining soldiers before leaving. Pretending they don’t exist is sooo dick, particularly when the administration is bemoaning the lack of recruits and the need to invade most of the Middle East.

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