ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cisneros

Interesting comparison betweena "straight news" story in the WaPo and an editorial in the Wall Street Jounral (requires subscription). Which article has more information?

From the WaPo:

The Senate agreed yesterday to cut off money to the decade-long investigation of former housing and urban development secretary Henry G. Cisneros, which has cost nearly $21 million.

Legislation that provides money for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan includes an amendment sponsored by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) to stop spending by June 1 on the probe led by independent counsel David Barrett. A report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress's investigative arm, shows Barrett spent $1.26 million during the six months ending Sept. 30, 2004. The largest expenses were for salaries and benefits and contracted services.

Cisneros admitted in 1999 that, when being considered for a Cabinet job, he lied to the FBI about how much he paid a former mistress. Cisneros, housing secretary from 1993 to 1996, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was fined $10,000.

President Bill Clinton pardoned Cisneros in January 2001.

"This is the most unbelievable waste of taxpayers' money I've ever seen," Dorgan said. "It's been 10 years since the investigation started, six years since the subject of the investigation pleaded guilty and four years since the subject was pardoned." He predicted the measure will have little trouble becoming law.

The Washington Post reported this month that Barrett was close to completing the investigation and issuing a report. Barrett prosecuted Cisneros on a single misdemeanor and then focused on pursuing possible obstruction of justice and other charges against people connected to Cisneros.
Here's the interesting tidbit from the WSJ... ifyou don't have a subscription, you should get one ASAP (click here)
This would have the practical effect of making sure that Mr. Barrett's report never sees the light of day. After 10 long years and $21 million, don't they think taxpayers deserve to see what the special counsel has learned?

We should add that any blame for this delay lies mainly with Mr. Cisneros's lawyers at Williams and Connolly, who have filed more than 190 motions and appeals; one single appeal took some 18 months to deal with. The 400-plus page Barrett report has been largely done since last August, and awaits only a requisite period for review and response by those named in its pages. The only thing threatening a hold-up past June are further defense motions seeking still more delay.

So what don't Democrats want everyone to know? We're told that early on the Barrett probe moved away from Mr. Cisneros and his mistress and focused on an attempted cover-up by the Clinton Administration, especially involving the IRS.

Back in the early '90s Mr. Cisneros was considered the rising savior of the Democratic Party in Texas. "So there were people who wanted to save his political future," a source tells us. To that end, when the IRS began investigating him for tax fraud an extraordinary thing happened: The investigation was taken from the IRS district office that would always handle such an audit and moved to Washington, where it was killed.

"Never in the history of the IRS has a case been pulled out of the regional office and taken directly to Washington," our source continues. This information was originally provided to Mr. Barrett, some years into his investigation, by a whistleblower in the IRS regional office with 30 years of experience.

Using his subpoena power, Mr. Barrett also found that the IRS would not have been able to kill the case on its own. It had to have cooperation from the Justice Department, particularly the Public Integrity and Tax divisions. We're told Mr. Barrett beat back several attempts by Justice to squelch or otherwise limit his investigation, and that a lot of important names from the Clinton era appear in the report. One key figure is likely to be former Clinton Administration IRS Commissioner Peggy Richardson, a prominent Texas Democrat, and a friend of both Mr. Cisneros and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
[...]
Yet now three highly partisan Democrats want to de-fund this probe and prevent publication of the report. "There is no other way to characterize this but as obstruction of justice," a source tells us, noting that Congress has never before tried to step on an Independent Counsel investigation like this. Surely given the ethical history of the Clinton years, the public deserves to see the report and judge for itself whether the IRS and Justice Department were misused for political purposes.
My question is this.... why are they blocking the investigation now that we're about to have a report released? Why not let it run its course? If we've sunk $21M on the investigation and it takes another 500k to have the report produced, why kill it now? If it was a stupid investigation in the first place, why didn't the Dems use their political capital to kill it then?

There seems to be some discrepancy between the two articles as to whether this amendment actually passed the Senate. I'll see if I can find more details.

Oh, and WHAT IN THE HECK is this amendment doing in an bill that provides funding for operations in Iraq??? Come On... ridiculous.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"Slave" Ship...

This has got to be a joke. No way that this would get very far. At 3 miles, its visible from shore, and every news outlet will be doing a story complete with helicopter shots of the ship and interviews with the AFL-CIO and the International Telecommunication's Union.

And the headline won't take long to write (see title above).

Followed by pickets around the businesses that actually used the SeaCode's services. And whats the benefit over traditional outsourcing to low-cost countries? None that I can see.

***UPDATE***
This is real... at least according to this Forbes magazine article. Interesting thing is that they'll be paying more than Indian programmers would earn in Bangalore, so I'm not sure what the benefit is. If you're a customer of these guys, you could get the same mid-quality code out of India for 1/3 of the cost and not have the "slave ship" tag associated with it.

Two San Diego entrepreneurs have come up with a very literal twist on offshoring software development jobs. This pair wants to get their hands on a 600-cabin cruise ship and park it off the coast of El Segundo, Calif., just over the 3-mile border that marks international waters. They'll pack the boat with engineers who will write code day and night.

The two founders of SeaCode, David Cook and Roger Green, are confident their plan will float. All they need to do is classify their workers as "seamen," so that they're protected by international maritime laws that skirt the need for those pesky immigration visas. The workers will fly in and out of Los Angeles International and board the ship with a sailor's card from the Bahamas, where the ship likely will be registered. This lets the company avoid U.S. payroll taxes on the foreign coders. Cook, a former supertanker skipper, plans to dock in Long Beach once a month to resupply and dispose of waste.

Programmers--sorry, seamen--hired from places like India and Russia would have their own cabins, work eight- or ten-hour stretches on either a day or night shift and have the rest of the time to sleep, play shuffleboard or take a water taxi to shore. Cook imagines a four-months-on, two-months-off work cycle. Take-home pay will be about $1,800 a month, compared with $500 per month for an experienced engineer in India. "We're not a slave ship," says Cook. Adds Green, "It's like the International Space Station."

SeaCode's pitch is that it will still charge the same rates as developing-world firms (Green says Indian firms hide behind amazing markups) while offering clients freedom from killer flights to India, Israel and other faraway destinations to check in on projects. Work will also get done faster with two shifts. "Try to get American software engineers to work at night," says Cook.

Cook and Green, who used to be chief information officer at chip-equipment manufacturer Cymer, have already raised an undisclosed amount toward a $10 million ship. Their backer is Barry Shillito, a San Diego angel investor and former assistant secretary of defense. Right now the two are close to making an offer on a 34-year-old boat called the Carousel, currently steaming around the Canary Islands. Says Green: "We're looking for a couple of anchor clients."

As much as it sounds like a joke, the plan could work. "Nothing tells me that it's flatly prohibited," says San Francisco maritime lawyer James Walsh. That's because a "seaman" can be defined broadly as anyone who works on a vessel. But don't count on locals to be happy about a colony of programmers floating just over the horizon. "It's not my prerogative to tell them to take a hike. I'll leave that to the Coast Guard," says Kelly McDowell, mayor of El Segundo.
One thing to take from this is the lengths to which entreprenuers will go to avoid paying payroll taxes. Hmmm, seem to recall Dems talking about increasing those last time I checked...

By the way, give me 5 years and offshoring to India won't even be on the radar screen - given our demographic trends.

I also happen to go against my party on Bush's guest worker program. The way I see it, if you make legal immigration within the NAFTA countries easier, it accomplishes two goals:
  1. It reduces illegal immigration as most would rather wait a week or two to be an official guest worker - and this allows the Border Patrol to actually focus on the illegals that we should be concerned about (criminals/terrorists, etc).
  2. If they're here legally through a guest worker program, you won't have business paying them less than minimum wage (which they're able to do if they're able to threaten deportation). This puts the guest worker on a level playing field (from a skills standpoint) as low-skilled US workers.
I'm probably out of step with the majority of gopers... but I see that there's a reason for the guest worker program.

My one concern is the balkanization of America which would occur if English isn't the lingua franca... Right now, there's an incentive for Hispanics to learn English (as they'll earn more if they do), but as their percentage of the population increases, there'lll be less of a need to learn English - and the split will turn into something similar to what we see in Canada, with a large section of the country threatening secession.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Who says Blogs can't break news?

Hmmm

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

I don't get it...

I just don't get it.... Has Santorum, R-PA advocated sodomizing dogs? Or is the joke that Santorum doesn't like sodomy?

H/T: Powerline

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Wishing for something that wasn't going to happen

Jay Tea over at Whizbang has an excellent analysis of all the handwringing about the "Missed Opportunity" by choosing Ratzinger as pope.

While, I'm not Catholic, my wife and daughter are, so pretty much any church service I attend these days is a Catholic Mass. As Jay says, what the detractors wanted from the Church just was Not. Going. To. Happen.

And I want to add, that a more conservative Church, does not necessarily mean that the Church will drive away membership. As Jay points out, a majority of Catholics don't live in the United States.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Bloggers impact

Glenn links to the Masthead article that describes bloggers and their impact on the MSM. As Glenn notes, "somebody gets it".

How true.

I especially liked the following part:

To the CBS brain trust, Johnsons pulsing visual must have seemed the proverbial beating drum, drawing links from all corners of the Internet and demonstrating in utter simplicity that Dan Rather had been conned.

In those days when Rather was still stonewalling, you had to marvel at the confidence of the bloggers. They knew what Dan did not-that he and his network would ultimately blink.

I remember that so well from the scandal. That they were forgeries was so obvious. I know the St. and I were instant messenging each other with the latest denial coming out of Black Rock. The stonewalling and equivocating and rationalizations only made it worse, as outlined in the article and in Hewitt's excellent book, Blog.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Missing in action???

Hey St., have you seen Penelope around? Haven't heard much from her lately. I'm sure it has nothing to do with this dropping 2 days ago.....

So Penelope, you going to the concert? Who you taking with ya? Got any backstage passes? You be a good girl and tell us how it all goes.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Judges

Priscilla & Janice Rodgers Brown (or if you're a lib (and prone to looking at everyone according to their ethnic/racial group), a woman and an African-American woman) are both extremely qualified for the job. They both have received the American Bar Associations' highest ratings which used to be one of the main considerations in the past (see Scalia nomination process).

SO, LET'S VOTE ON THEM!!!

My comments throughout the AP story.

Showdown Nears Over Bush Judicial Nominees
Apr 21, 12:49 PM (ET)
By JESSE J. HOLLAND

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans on Thursday moved closer to a showdown with Democrats over filibusters of President Bush's judicial nominees, sending two judges under dispute to the full Senate.

The GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on identical 10-8 partisan votes gave its approval to Texas judge Priscilla Owen and California judge Janice Rogers Brown, who were nominated by Bush for lifetime judgeships on the regional U.S. appeals courts, the nation's second-highest courts.
Does AP normally mention "lifetime" appointments when they disuss judges?

Owen wants to work on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and Brown wants a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. They were blocked from confirmation by Democratic filibuster threats during Bush's first term but were renominated by the president after he won a second term in November.
They want the jobs? Did they ask Bush and then he appointed them? I thought the President nominated them and then re-nominated them

Democrats say they will block the nominations again because they are too conservative. "They deserved to be rejected before," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "They deserve to be rejected again."
Ahhh, they're too conservative... Unfortunately, you don't provide advice & consent on someone's "political beliefs," you provide advice & consent on their judicial capabilities.

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has threatened to ban judicial filibusters to stop Democrats from blocking the judges again, and has been working to secure the 50 votes he needs from his Republican caucus to make the rules change.

It requires 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster.

In an attempt to make Republicans reconsider that plan, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has vowed to slow or halt Senate action on much routine business if Frist follows through with his threat to force up-and-down votes in which nominees could be confirmed by a bare majority of the 100-member Senate.
Hey, that's fine with me if they shut the Senate down... not exactly a rip-roaring, fast paced institution in the first place. Oh, and if they do... I think the first order of business should be to introduce a bill to increase pay for troops...

Republicans defended Owen and Brown, saying they were fine judges and Democrats broke with Senate tradition by threatening to filibuster their nominations.

Owen "deserves to be confirmed and she deserves the professional courtesy of an up or down vote," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who served on the Texas Supreme Court with Owen.
Meanwhile, Chuck Shumer (D-NY) said "VOTES?!?! WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING VOTES!!! --- seriously, we fear votes"

GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Brown's home state, said Brown was the type of judge the country needs, who has "a reverence for our Constitution, who will approach these issues with independence, an open mind, a lot of common sense, a willingness to work hard and an ability to communicate clearly and effectively."
No wonder the Dems are blocking these nominees....

Brown now serves on the California Supreme Court.

Democrats have promised to continue to block the nominees they held up during Bush's first term. Democrats blocked 10 judicial nominees from confirmation through filibuster threats. Three withdrew and Bush renominated the rest.

Democrats called Brown and Owen judicial activists who should be stopped before they get lifetime appointments. "The nomination of Janice Rogers Brown is a prime example of a nominee who sees the federal bench as a platform to advance her own extremist views," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

And Owen "is an example of a judge who is very eager to make law from the bench," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee's top Democrat.
Yeah... enforcing a law that requires parental notification for a 14 year old (except in the case of incest) is activist... it would be activist for the justice to override the democratic process

North Carolina judge Terrence W. Boyle, a former aide to retired Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who expected a committee vote as well, was held over after Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., requested extra time to review some of his rulings as a U.S. District judge. Boyle was never filibustered by Democrats because his nomination was blocked in committee by then-North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

Another of Bush's blocked nominees, Idaho lawyer William Myers, already has been approved by the Judiciary Committee. But conservatives would rather see the final showdown come over Brown, Owen or U.S. Appeals Court Judge William Pryor, who was given a temporary appointment by Bush after he was blocked by Democrats.

Pryor's nomination is expected to be advanced by the Judiciary Committee next week.

Conservatives during the last Congress accused Democrats of being anti-minority for blocking Brown, who is black; anti-women for blocking Owen, and anti-Catholic for blocking Pryor.
yep, they did... and the Dems would've made the same accusations if the roles were reversed. If you don't think so, you're an idjit.

Activists plan a similar tactic this year, with Frist planning to deliver a taped message to Christian conservatives on April 24 saying Democrats are "against people of faith" for blocking Bush's nominees.
I look forward to the showdown....let's just hope that the GOP has regained its spine in time.

Brian adds:
St., you did it again. Just as I'm about to comment, I look and there you're already talking about the subject. Let me add my two cents. I just got finished listening to Hannity's 3rd hour, and he had Dick Morris on. Hannity was all for the "nuke it" option, wheras Morris thinks that would be disaster for the Republicans in the polls. I tend to agree. I think the MSM will howl to the moon about how the Republicans have trashed the constitution. Mr. Smith goes to Washington, will be the image of the day, but in reverse. They'll talk about how the Republicans are just for graft and are dictatorial, etc.

Dick's solution is simple. Make Reid, et. al. actually filibuster. Nothing gets done till the nominee is voted for. The 60 votes everybody is talking about is to end the filibuster. Fine. Let the Dem's shutdown the government over Judges. Then the argument is focused on the judges themselves. What is so wrong with them that they shouldn't be confirmed? As you point out in the AP article above, the answer is basically, "they're conservative". Judges was an issue in the 2004 campaign, and certainly factored into Daschle losing his seat. Let the Dem's shutdown the Senate on the confirmation process, not the "rewriting of the Constitution".

Either way though, some action has to be done. This will not wait until 2006. If the Dem's are able to run out the clock that long, then its over for Bush's term. As you can see with the Bolton nomination, the Dem's are jockeying for the left side of their party as they fundraise for '08. They will not give up. The longer we wait, the worse it is for the administration, and the country.

Update (Brian)
: Looks like the folks at Powerline had similar thoughts.
The next election is a year and a half away. If the Republicans in the Senate aren't willing to buck the polls now, when will they be? And how can anyone think that a delay in pursuing the Constitutional option will cause the poll numbers to turn around? It won't. It will merely be perceived as blood in the water that causes the Democratic/media attacks to intensify.
[...]
I agree that poll-based fear should not deter the Republicans in this instance. It also occurs to me that if the Republicans could make the Democrats actually filibuster Owen or Brown for an extended period, the public would conclude (a) that the Dems have had their opportunity for full debate and/or (b) that such debate, when undertaken by the Democrats, isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lincoln Dedication Speeches

President Bush and the two Senators from Illinois (Durbin / Obama) gave speeches yesterday to commemorate a new Lincoln library & museum in Springfield, Illinois.

I haven't been able to find the actual speeches yet, but the following excerpts are interesting to compare/contrast.

Bush compares Lincoln's situation with the NYTimes today with his own (humorous):

Bush also noted that Lincoln wasn't always the darling of the press.

"In a small way, I can relate to the railsplitter from out West because he had a way of speaking that was not always appreciated by the newspapers back East," the president said, generating laughter. "A New York Times story on his first inaugural address reported that Mr. Lincoln was lucky 'it was not the constitution of the English language and the laws of English grammar that he was called upon to support.'

"I think that fellow is still writing for the Times," Bush said.
Bush discussing spread of freed and universality of Gettysberg Address:
President Bush, a Republican like Lincoln, also is a wartime president, and his speech drew parallels between Lincoln's effort to expand freedom in the United States and Bush's own goal to expand freedom in the world.

"Americans have no right or calling to impose our own form of government on others," Bush said. "Yet, American interests and values are both served by standing for liberty in every part of the world. Our interests are served when former enemies become democratic partners, because free governments do not support terror or seek to conquer their neighbors. Our interests are served by the spread of democratic societies, because free societies reward the hopes of their citizens, instead of feeding the hatreds that lead to violence."

Durbin making an inappropriate remark (good thing he doesn't have an R after his name):
However, Durbin may have gone too far on the levity scale when he retold a story about the late federal Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz of Chicago, whose collection of Lincoln books is included in the presidential library's holdings.

"Judge Marovitz used to say that his mother believed that President Lincoln was Jewish," Durbin said. "After all, his first name was Abraham, and then, to confirm it, she learned that John Wilkes Booth shot him in the temple."
What the ???? I'm sure the consituents in Illinois are proud. I only wish I could've been there in person to hear the crowd's reaction.

Obama makes an attempt to slam Bush, but misses the mark:
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said Lincoln's life illustrated "a fundamental element of the American character, a belief that we can constantly remake ourselves to fit our larger dreams."

But Obama also made much of Lincoln's self-doubt - which may have been a subtle way of taking issue with the certainty of tone Bush has taken during the Iraq war.

"Lincoln was not a perfect man nor a perfect president," Obama said. "By modern standards, his condemnation of slavery might be considered tentative, his Emancipation Proclamation more a military document than a clarion call for justice. He wasn't immune to political considerations. His temperament could be indecisive and morose."

Still, Obama said, "perhaps because of a painful self-awareness of his own failings," Lincoln kept his moral compass in ending slavery and holding the nation together through civil war.

"He did not equivocate or duck or pass the challenge on to future generations,"
Obama said.
Instead of an attack on Bush, this looks to me like a criticism of our previous president, who had moral failings (but certainly never admitted them), who kicked the can down the road, who was indecisive and always prone to political considerations.

But, to the larger point: Does Obama really want to characterize the Emancipation Proclamation as a politically motivated document that was too timid? Lincoln certainly held off on the proclamation, primarily in fear of alienating those on the other side (who were wrong). Its issuance certainly isn't an example of reaching out to the other side and moderating your tone. It's timing, just 2 years after Lincoln's inauguration, was perhaps delayed by political consideration - but its message and meaning certainly was radical for the times and against the conventional wisdom. Many of Bush's proposals today are characterized in much the same way today. I wonder what a Gallup poll of the Proclamation would've shown?

Obama makes the case that standing up for truth and liberty, despite the political considerations, is the only action that a President should take. Any politician that reads the polls every day and makes decisions solely based on the political calculus of the day will only preserve the status quo and become a minor player in US history (I'm talking about you, Bill).

***UPDATE***
Interesting "thoughts" on the topic from DownLeft here. Course, this blogger doesn't mention a word of Obama or Durbin's gaffes (in my opinion) and jumps on Bush for saying exactly what he's doing.

Not sure how an elected Iraqi government developing their own form of democratic government and constitution is imposing US-Style government on a country... unless you don't agree with the premise that all people have certain inalienable rights (yadda yadda) and that the best way to achieve that is through a democracy (or democratic republic). What if the Iraqis end up with a French-style democracy, Downer? would that still be an imposition of US-style institutions on the Iraqis? It's up to the Iraqis to decide now that they don't have a tyrant killing hundreds of thousands of them year after year. And many more people are recognizing that they too should determine their own form of government. Or is this just some Chimpy-Bush-McHitler black op?

Downer also gauges the crowds response here.

Don't worry, Downer... 25 - 50 years from now, you'll look back on this period and realize that you were in a cloud, as many "clinton haters" have awakened from their cloud of hatred (and now recognize him as simply irrelevant historically).

***UPDATE 2***
Downer compares this photo (which Downer finds offensive) with Durbin's remark (which Downer thinks was hilarious).


Huh??? Not sure how you can equate proper dress (apparently a borrowed military subzero coat) for a snowstorm with joking about a bullet to the head of one of our Presidents. The other folks in the picture seem to be bundled up as well. (Frankly, I'd be offended if I saw them without clothes...) And I don't seem to recall any Gaskammer jokes by Cheney, but hey... I'm not twisted with hatred. I wonder if Downer would laugh about a Kennedy "bullet in the head" joke?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Poor Al Franken

What will Al do? I mean, Air America can't buy an audience. Perhaps they could resort to socialist roots and force people to listen to Air America... for their own good. Oh, wait... They've got nutjob Hinchey on the prowl to do just that (from the LATimes):

Successful talk radio is conservative for three reasons:

• Entertainment value. The top conservative hosts put on snazzy, frequently humorous shows. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, observes: "The parody, the asides, the self-effacing humor, the bluster are all part of the packaging that makes the political message palatable." Besides, the triumph of political correctness on the left makes it hard for on-air liberals to lighten things up without offending anyone.

• Fragmentation of the potential audience. Political consultant Dick Morris explains: "Large percentages of liberals are black and Hispanic, and they now have their own specialized entertainment radio outlets, which they aren't likely to leave for liberal talk radio." The potential audience for Air America or similar ventures is thus pretty small — white liberals, basically. And they've already got NPR.

• Liberal bias in the old media. That's what birthed talk radio in the first place. People turn to it to help right the imbalance. Political scientist William Mayer, writing in the Public Interest, recently observed that liberals don't need talk radio because they've got the big three networks, most national and local daily newspapers and NPR.

Unable to prosper in the medium, liberals have taken to denouncing talk radio as a threat to democracy. Liberal political columnist Hendrik Hertzberg, writing in the New Yorker, is typically venomous. Conservative talk radio represents "vicious, untreated political sewage" and "niche entertainment for the spiritually unattractive," Hertzberg sneers.

If some liberals had their way, Congress would regulate political talk radio out of existence. Their logic is that scrapping Air America would be no loss if it also meant getting Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Bennett off the air.

To accomplish this, New York Democratic Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey has proposed reviving the Fairness Doctrine to protect "diversity of view," and John Kerry recently sent out some signals that he too thought that might be a good idea.

Under the old Fairness Doctrine, phased out by Ronald Reagan's FCC in the late '80s, any station that broadcast a political opinion had to give equal time to opposing views. A station running, say, Hannity's show, would also have to broadcast a left-wing competitor, even if it had no listeners.





Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Pope Benedict XVI

Congratulations to Il Papa. I'm not Catholic, but it's good to see that the Catholic Church isn't going to get wishy-washy on us.

What I really like most is while they were waiting for the announcement, ABC radio was getting "insight" from commentators and all of them said that Ratzenger was a no-go, because he was just too hard line. They just don't get it... BTW, the coverage on ABC radio up to the announcement was just ridiculous speculation. They had zero information, but were talking at length about how the cardinals were eating well and that that improved the collegiality between the cardinals, resulting in a quick vote. What pap!

They all have frowns on now... I'm sure statements like this and the following just have the relativists cringing:

The cardinal presided over the congress "Christ: Way, Truth and Life" at the Catholic University of St. Anthony here.

Q: Some interpret the fact of proclaiming Christ as a rupture in the dialogue with other religions. How can one proclaim Christ and dialogue at the same time?

Cardinal Ratzinger: I would say that today relativism predominates. It seems that whoever is not a relativist is someone who is intolerant. To think that one can understand the essential truth is already seen as something intolerant.

However, in reality this exclusion of truth is a type of very grave intolerance and reduces essential things of human life to subjectivism. In this way, in essential things we no longer have a common view. Each one can and should decide as he can. So we lose the ethical foundations of our common life.

Christ is totally different from all the founders of other religions, and he cannot be reduced to a Buddha, a Socrates or a Confucius. He is really the bridge between heaven and earth, the light of truth who has appeared to us.
***UPDATE - 5 secs after posting***
Yep.... The Left has already gone whacko. This post shows Il Papa as the Emperor from Star Wars.

and this - HOW LONG UNTIL THIS GUY DIES?!?!

and this
- Pope is a Nazi (Godwin's Law in full effect)

***UPDATE 2***
Michelle Malkin, Wizbang, and Willisms talking.

It's GREAT to see CBS News (and DU for that matter) taking consolation that Ratzenger is 78, so... you know... he'll croak soon enough and THEN we can get a progressive Pope!

Wouldn't be surprised if CBS just keeps its teams in Rome to wait for his death. "We're now into Day 135 of Ratzenger's ultra-conservative papacy... And the Pope still appears to be in good health. *sigh* Only time will tell whether the world will be freed from this radical departure from intolerance and join the 21st century."

***UPDATE 3***
Nazi Conspiracy uncovered here. (Ratzenger was Hitler Youth, Prescott was a Nazi, Bush is a fascist, etc, etc) Sadly, no mention of Rove (or Gannon), as I could invoke ARC's 1st or 2nd Law.

And the Kossacks weigh in here. Seems to be a consensus here from the Left. Pope Benedict is a very, very bad man.

BTW, anyone think that the nets' coverage of this selection process was a bone to the "Values Voters"? They probably felt like they could satiate those of us in the Red States that are "dumb" and cover some religion. Unfortunately for them, they take the opportunity to push for a "progressive" Pope, which is ludicrous to anyone who lives outside of Manhattan.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, April 18, 2005

Democratic Party or Communist Party USA?

Ok, I've come up with a new game for Another Rovian Conspiracy readers...
Submit a comment with your vote!

So, LET'S PLAY.... DNC or CPUSA?

Did the DNC/MoveOn.Org or the Communist Party USA make the following arguments regarding:

Social Security (Note - some editing to remove obvious terminology - original will be restored when quiz is over)

The debate around Social Security is broad. In this report, the following five areas are addressed.

1. The phony crisis -- Financially, social security is sound for the indefinite future, and it would even be possible to increase benefits.

2. The real crisis -- the federal government may face multiple budget and fiscal crises in the next decade. The republicans will try to resolve these crises by imposing harsh austerity programs on the working class, including attacking social security.

3. The economic and ideological stakes -- The attack on social security is a republican attempt to realize immediate and long-term profits, and also to shift the ideological climate decisively to the right.

4. Private investment accounts -- these would greatly undermine both the retirement security of the working class and the financial health of the nation.

5. Secure the future by securing the present -- A program to meet the immediate needs of the people -- education, housing, healthcare, energy, environment -- will lay the best material base to guarantee retirement security in the future.
Use comments to vote!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Hey, We're Not Republicans

The Twinkie-Meister oliver willis posted this a while ago, but is pushing this "grand narrative"

The pieces are all there, folks, and like Chris says - it's time to pull them together.

1 The Republican party is the party of Washington fatcats and DC insiders.

2. Republican leaders like Tom Delay will break the law in order to prolong their political careers, no matter the consequences.

3. Republicans are trying to privatize social security and cut benefits in order to curry favor with their billion dollar friends, while Democrats remain focused on preserving social security's promise to generation after generation.

4. Democrats have worked with Republicans to approve more judges than Republicans did with President Clinton, yet they're dead set on ramming judges significantly out of America's mainstream down our throats. The judiciary is too important to cede all control to one party.

5. The only solution to this, and other messes now being created and made worse by the Republicans, is to elect Democrats.
Summary: Hey, We're not republicans, vote for us!

Of course, this is all predicated on things going poorly for America... And what person outside of the beltway will rally to the call that "Hey, we're not as bad as the GOP under Clinton when it comes to judges!" (Not that I agree with that statement - I seem to remember 2 Supreme Court vacancies filled by Clinton... and 4 of 12 current active judges on the Federal Court of Appeals.

The Dems really need to come up with some ideas... Unfortunately for them, the last idea they had that the electorate agreed with were modifications of GOP policies (see welfare reform). Saying Republicans are scary and warming up New Deal policies just won't work anymore...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Such Ignorance

This is why the Left just can't be trusted with economic policy. David Sirota, of the Center for American Socialists Progress, just doesn't "get" free trade, although the issue has been pretty much settled unless you are a Naderite. David cheers on Evan Bayh for his willingness to block the nomination of a free trader a Bush Administration post and suspects that he's doing this for his '08 presidential run. It certainly is a sign of our times with there really is no such thing as a free trade liberal that makes up the party's base. (Where are you, Slick Willie?)

I was totally behind Clinton/Gore's position on NAFTA and the balance sheet for creating the Free Trade Zone is clearly in the black, although the original promises made by its proponents (increase in jobs) was a misleading - free trade does not create or destroy jobs, it reallocates them. However, history has proven time and time again that free trade works and the cost of protectionism is never understood by its proponents.

  1. Question: Who was the last "Protectionist" President of the United States?
    Answer: Herbert Hoover

  2. Question: When he signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, what was the result?
    • A - Protection of American Jobs
    • B - Deepening of The Great Depression

    Answer - B
Here's an snippet of idiocy from David Sirota:
At first glance, President Bush's nomination of Rep. Rob Portman (R) to be the new U.S. trade representative may seem like an encouraging sign. Portman, after all, is from Ohio – a state ravaged by corporate-backed free trade deals. As one study shows, Portman's state has lost more than 52,000 jobs because of our unfair trade policy. Naturally, then, you'd expect him to have a particularly good grasp at how America's current trade policy is hurting our country.

Instead, though, Portman has been one of the most outspoken advocates for this disastrous trade policy. As a senior member of the congressional committee that oversees trade policy, he has supported every major piece of free trade legislation that's come before him, while pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industries that push these deals. These trade deals have been deliberately swept clean of any provisions to make sure our trading partners adhere to wage, environmental and human rights standards, thus forcing Americans to compete in a race to the bottom with some of the most desperate workers on the planet.
Race to the bottom??? What happens when a foreign country's wages increase to our standard? Do we stop trading with them? (Did we stop trading with Japan or did our wages decline to levels of the Japanese in the 70s when their cars were beating ours in the marketplace? Do we still trade with Canada? England? Germany?) What Sirota is calling for (forcing Chinese wages to be increased to meet US wages) is ridiculous. First, Chinese workers are less productive than US workers and thus command a lower wage. What happens if you increase their wages, but get the same productivity? Mass unemployment as businesses refuse to pay extra for the same prodcutivity. Why is it that the Chinese are paid wages lower than the US? Exploitation by the US Corporations? No, it's because they're not as good as the US workers (and also that the US manufacturing worker has artificially high wages thanks to the unions).

Is the Indian outsourcing of call centers really problematic? 10 years ago, HelpDesks here in the US were proving grounds for green techies and they bitched & complained about them 24 hours a day. They HATED those jobs... and now that they're being performed by a guy in India, what do you think the green techs are doing now? They're performing more complex and more valuable tasks in the IT industry. Given the demographic trends of our country, outsourcing of IT to India won't even be on the radar screen in a few years...we will have more consumers than producers in this country and will have to rely on immigrants (see Guest Worker program by Bush) and foreign outsourcing.

Sirota and his buddies on the Left could use a simple Econ 101 class from their local community college. Or they could just listen to some of their favorites from the Clinton era, such as Paul Krugman (now of the NYTimes)or Alan Blinder (former econ advisor to President Clinton), who demonstrate here, here, and here that free trade benefits all participants. This has been proven time and time again throughout history.

Here's a list of measurements showing progress throughout the world as free trade has increased.

If Krugman and Blinder don't satisfy, try this from Greenspan... or this from Jagdish Baghwati (Krugman's professor):
Far too many of the young see capitalism as a system that cannot meaningfully address questions of social justice. Many of these youthful skeptics seem unaware that socialist planning in countries such as India, which replaced markets system-wide with quantitative allocations, worsened rather than improved unequal access. Such socialism produced queues that the well connected and the well endowed could jump, whereas markets allow a larger number of people to access their targets. Capitalism is a system that, paradoxically, can destroy privilege and open up economic opportunity to many -- but this fact is lost on most of the system's vocal critics.

THE PERILS OF EDUCATION

Many of today's young, virulent anticapitalists experienced their social awakenings on campuses, in fields other than economics. English, comparative literature, and sociology are all fertile breeding grounds for such dissent. Deconstructionism, as espoused by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, has, with its advocacy of an "endless horizon of meanings," left the typical student of literature without anchor. Derrida's technique is to deconstruct every political ideology, including Marxism. Typically, however, it is capitalism that becomes the focus of these efforts, not Marxism. And this process often has nihilistic overtones, with the paradoxical result that many of its followers now turn to anarchy.
Message to Sirota - In our lifetime (assuming current events continue and Nader & is ilk never win the presidency), we will see a Global Free Trade Area, benefitting all countries.

As Adam Smith put it in 1776:
It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy... If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage.
Now, only a fan of PolPot of Mao could argue with that statement...

***UPDATE***
I should've read Sirota's bio before asking him to reconsider his protectionist stance. This sheds some light on why it's so easy to make fun of him:
Author Bio

David Sirota is a progressive political strategist who is currently writing a book on the middle-class economic squeeze for Crown Publishers. He was formerly the chief spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee and, before that, the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Bernie is the only member of the Socialist Party in US Congress. Sirota's from the far, socialist left of the political spectrum. So, he probably doesn't believe in capitalism or free markets domestically, much less when you're talking about trade with other countries. This also explains why the Center for American Progress sounds sooo much like this group. Heck, if you go out to the DNC website, I'm sure you'll see parallel takes on the issues of the day. I s'pose that Bush does look like an ultra right winger when you're that far to the left. When Clinton/Gore, Krugman, and Blinder are "right wingers" to you, it's probably best if you never get political power.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

John Fund on Poverty

John Fund's message in this article: Teaching people how to fish (and forcing them to do it when they're ready) is better than just giving them fish.

[...]
Aid to Families With Dependent Children, the entitlement that the 1996 law reformed and renamed (it's now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), was only a small part of the federal government's "poverty Pentagon." The 1996 reforms notwithstanding, the rest of federal welfare spending is bigger than ever and still operating in ways that discourage work and foster social ills.

Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, reports that direct federal welfare payments now total only $10 billion a year. But they are dwarfed by spending on such items as food stamps, which go to 23 million Americans at a cost of $27 billion a year.

Medicaid is the major source of health care for 42 million people at a cost of $300 billion a year. Housing subsidies go to 4.5 million families. The misnamed Earned Income Tax Credit is actually a government subsidy of up to $4,300 a year for low-income families. Total annual cost: more than $37 billion. Government audits have found that nearly one-third of recipients don't actually qualify for the checks they get.

All told, there are more than 80 federal benefit programs. Like the pre-1996 AFDC program, nearly all have no limits on how long someone can remain on them. All of these programs do good, especially in keeping people fed and housed. But the impersonal government dole does nothing to cure the poverty of the soul that keeps so many mired in self-destructive behavior.

As welfare expert Marvin Olasky has observed, "the major flaw of the modern welfare state is not that it's extravagant with money, but that it's stingy with the help that only a person can give: love, time, care and hope." In his book "The Tragedy of American Compassion," Mr. Olasky tells the fascinating story of America's early social workers. In battling poverty a century ago, they held that compassion required both warm hearts and hard heads. They believed antipoverty programs worked only when local communities were actively involved, and that such programs were truly compassionate only when they stressed personal responsibility.
If you really want an in-depth analysis of how government is less effective than private charity, I recommend that you read Olasky's book, The Tragedy of American Compassion. It may be a couple of years old (originally published in 1992), but its information is still valid. Certainly not a summer/pool book, but you'll have a better understanding of how we got to where we are with regard to welfare and where we should be.

President Bush' Faith Baith Initiative (which scares the bajeebers out of the Left) is primarily based on Olasky's analysis. BTW, you'll be interested to note that it's shown that as tax rates and spending on government welfare programs increase, charitable contributions decrease (an example of the "crowding out" effect that is part of any Econ 101 course). Charitable contributions (as a percentage of income) in high tax states such as NY are 20% of what they are in the South.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Adobe Systems gets Macromedia

Oh, Great.... Now when I want to view a PDF file, I'll be prompted to install 18 different apps instead of just adobe ones.

;-)

Adobe Systems Buys Macromedia In Stock Deal
Pact for $3.4 Billion to Create Software Giant, Set Stage For Possible Microsoft Battle
By DENNIS K. BERMAN and DAVID BANK
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 18, 2005; Page A1

Adobe Systems Inc. announced the acquisition of Macromedia Inc. for $3.4 billion in stock in a deal that will bring together the software of two companies with broad resources to distribute documents, video and other media to personal computers, cellphones and hand-held devices.

The transaction, part of the long-expected consolidation in the software industry, also could set the stage for an anticipated showdown with Microsoft Corp., of Redmond, Wash.
[...]
Adobe, founded in 1982, is the creator of Acrobat and the ubiquitous portable document format, or PDF, for electronic documents; its Adobe Reader software is installed on nearly every personal computer. Thirteen-year-old Macromedia has successfully carved a niche with its Flash and Shockwave software, used by artists and corporations alike to deliver video, animation and Web conferencing.

Bringing so much highly popular software together could strengthen Adobe in an anticipated battle with Microsoft. Besides having their respective software widely distributed in the PC market, each has also begun to penetrate the market for cellphones and hand-held devices. Separately they already had their software in more types of products than market leader Windows.

Microsoft already regards PDF's success as a long-term threat. The next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn and due out next year, is expected to include features to move documents around companies and the Internet, and aimed at eliminating the need for PDF.
Interesting that Microsoft is still playing defense against software designed in the '90s.

Subscription required for full-article, but well worth the price of admission.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Taxes

Larry Kudlow has interesting info regarding the issue of taxes (as friday was April 15). Unfortunately, I think the numbers probably are less in our favor as tax day fades from memory. However, I think a great way to encourage a low tax rate would be to hold elections on 4/16, the day after taxes are due. Although, since many people think that their refund is actually government sending them money (and not a refund of overpayment to the government sans interest), perhaps this wouldn't work.

How about we combine moving the election date (or the tax date to the 1st wed in November?), we also remove the practice of withholding by employers? Have everyone send in their taxes quarterly or annnually... There'd definitely be a tax revolt if they actually saw the taxes they pay.

Here's Larry's post:

Scrap the Tax Code!
Today is April 15th tax day and all week long the stock market has been plunging. I wonder if there is a relationship.

Are people selling stocks to pay their tax bills? According to a recent Harris poll, 55 percent of Americans believe taxes are too high. Only 33 percent believe they are about right.

What should folks pay for federal, state, and local taxes? 41 percent think 10 percent to 19 percent should be the maximum percentage. 23 percent think the top tax rate should be 20 percent to 29 percent. And another 20 percent think only 1 percent to 9 percent. That means 61 percent believe they should pay less than they do now.

Meanwhile, 77 percent think the federal tax system should be completely overhauled or needs major changes. What kind of changes? 33 percent prefer a flat rate income tax with no deductions. 19 percent favor a national sales tax. Would folks be willing to give up some deductions for a simpler tax system? 54 percent say yes. Should everyone pay the same tax-rate? 54 percent say yes.

Last year 44 million Americans -- that’s one third of all taxpayers paid no federal income tax after deductions and credits. But, according to the Harris poll, 59 percent believe everyone should pay some tax to the government.

As for me, I would scrap the present code and replace it with a flat tax system where tax forms would be no larger than a 5x8” index card. All income should be taxed at one low rate, preferably no higher than 20 percent. Saving, investment, capital gains, dividends, estates, and corporate investment shouldn’t be taxed at all. This simple, honest, fair, and flat tax code would spur growth, jobs, and wealth creation for all Americans.
I'll go for that!

***UPDATE***
Kudlow has an interesting linuep on this afternoon's show, discussing taxes (Arthur Laffer, not Larry Laffer) and bloggers. His show is becoming must see TV if you want to get info on economics and politics.
-- The Wall Street Journal's Tom Herman, on last-minute, legal ways to skirt the IRS

-- a market segment with Andy Kessler, columnist for the Wall Street Journal

-- Dr. Art Laffer, chairman of Laffer Associates, on the flat tax

-- Rep. John Linder of Georgia, on the fair tax

-- Bloggers Austin Bay, Roger L. Simon, and Wonkette, on John Bolton and the UN
Show airs at 5 EDT on CNBC.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Nucular Constitutional Option

Seven at Three Bad Fingers is leading an effort to convince the GOP Senators to pursue every available means to get a vote on judicial nominees. If we don't make a stand this year, the Dems will ride the fillibuster through to '08.

Email the Senators and let them know that we're out here and will support them if they protect the Consitution.

Here's where anyone can post an open letter to the Senators.

Here is Seven's Open Letter to John McCain (Democrat Republican-Arizona)

Here is a list of contact info for each Senator, grouped according to their current stance on this issue (as compiled by Seven at Three Bad Fingers):

Republicans Acting Like Democrats:

Fence Sitting Senators:Senators Believed Reliable:

Click here to see Seven's original Call to Arms for other bloggers.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sinister Neocon Conspiracy Initiation Ceremony

Mark Steyn's been infiltrating the VRWC again....

His latest column (as are all of his columns) is a must read.

So vast battalions of America's ''public servants'' sit around all day cross-examining each other about some guy's unacceptably aggressive body language. He put his left hand in! His left hip out! In, out, in, out, he shook them all about! It's the hot dance craze we all do at the Sinister Neocon Conspiracy Initiation Ceremony:

''Ev'rybody's doin' a brand new dance now
C'mon, baby, do the loco-Bolton!''

If he doesn't get the nomination, he's got the makings of this summer's novelty hit, Neoconga No. 5:

''A little bit of fingering of my hips
A little bit of sneeriness on my lips
A little bit of rolling of both my eyes
A little bit of petulance in my sighs
A little bit of starting to almost mock
A little 'You so totally do not rock'
A little bit of memo on your desk
A little bit of you makes me Hulk-esque!''

As usual he illuminates the absurdity of the left. And the take no prisoners attitude to ideology. First Bolton was unkind to the UN, so he was unfit. When that didn't work the stories of his need for "anger management" come out of the woodwork.

Personally, as Mark points out, it's time for a little anger at the UN. Maybe that would get it to shape up and stop running sex rings, or financing terror campaigns.

***UPDATE-St Wendeler***
Relevant passage regarding Bolton's "dressing down" of a subordinate:
So I was interested to hear about the kind of violent Boltonian eruptions that had led Boxer to her diagnosis. Well, here it comes. (If you've got young children present, you might want to take them out of the room.) From the shockingly brutal testimony of Thomas Fingar, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Intelligence Research:

Q: Could you characterize your meeting with Bolton? Was he calm?

Fingar: No, he was angry. He was standing up.

Q: Did he raise his voice to you? Did he point his finger in your face?

Fingar: I don't remember if he pointed. John speaks in such a low voice normally. Was it louder than normal? Probably. I wouldn't characterize it as screaming at me or anything like that. It was more, hands on hips, the body language as I recall it, I knew he was mad.

He was ''standing up'' with ''hands on hips''! Who's he think he is -- Carmen Miranda? Fortunately, before Bolton could let rip with a ''pursed lip'' or escalate to the lethal ''tsk-ing'' maneuver, Fingar was able to back cautiously out of the room and call the FBI anger management team, who surrounded the building and told the deranged diplomat to come out slowly with his hands above his hips.
[...]
As for the job Bolton's up for, what would make Barbara Boxer and Joe Biden put their hands on hips? Child sex rings run from U.N. peacekeeping operations? Sudan sitting on the Human Rights Commission while it licenses mass murder in Darfur? Kofi Annan's son doing a $30,000-a-year job but somehow having a spare quarter-million dollars to invest in a Swiss soccer club? There are tides in the affairs of men when someone has to put his hands on his hips and toss his curls. And, if the present depraved state of the U.N. isn't one of them, nothing is. Unlike most of the multilateral blatherers, John Bolton is hip to that.
Man, Libs are such wussies...
***END UPDATE***

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian