Democrat From Kentucky

Democrat from Kentucky
We promote fair and honest political discussion from all sides of the ideological spectrum While my own opinions and my contributors tend toward a more progressive view, that's not always the case. I ask people to comment freely and openly to promote fair discourse.
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Previous Posts

A long time coming
Happy 2007
Mark Foley: SICK SICK SICK!!!
Looks Like Lamont Levels Lieberman?
Oil Prices in the tank
Clinton Reams Rummy
A long time...
Chandler/Abramson in '07?
A new poll



May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
August 2006
October 2006
January 2007
June 2007
September 2010
Current Posts
EU Wants Info On CIA Prisons Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It looks like the European Union (EU) has sent an official letter requesting information about the CIA prisons. The Washington Post provides some really good information.

The administration has a lot to answer for. Working under the assumption they have done all this, they've violated multiple international laws and in all honesty should be held accountable. The problem comes down to who pays for the crimes? It's pretty clear the U.S. wouldn't recongize the authority of any international body. The interesting issue will be if other nations decide to levy sanction at us through the Security Council or something like that. I may be overshooting a bit here but I'm also wondering how we deal with this. If these prisons happened, I think it's fair to say they'd qualify as crimes against humanity.

Would an individual or individuals be held accountable? Maybe one of our executives? I think that would push us to the brink of war. Like I said though, this could be overstepping things a bit as very few nations have clean hands in something like this. I doubt China or Russia could make a convincing argument against the U.S. on this although tye've probably laughing at us right now. It makes me ashamed of my country to be honest...very ashamed.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:49 PM

Diebold Is Out of North Carolina

Diebold, the company known for their electronic voting machines may be in for quite a time. The state of North Carolina kicked them out.

A hat tip to TechDirt for info on this one

Many people have complained for sometime that electronic voting machines are just as easy to tamper with as any other voting method. A recent law in North Carolina requires all vendors of electronic voting machines to open up the source code of the computers up to voting officials in the state. Diebold refused to do it. The only other option for Diebold was to remove themselves from the market if they didn't wish to comply.

Doesn't sound too fishy does it... no not at all. With any luck, others will start looking at this and consider requiring Diebold to open up their code. As the The Register points out, transparency is the only way to get fair elections.

posted by Stithmeister @ 9:26 PM

Draft Ken Lucas Movement Gathers Steam

Ken Lucas, the former congressman of the 4th district and now occupied by Geoff Davis, may run again for Congress. When he ran, he ran on term limits. He said he would be there for 2. He ended going 3, realized he needed to stick with his pledge as much as possible and bowed out. In recent months, a number of northern Kentucky Democrats have been trying to persuade Lucas to get back in and run against Davis in 2006. Davis ran against Lucas in 2002 and lost.

Lucas had said last week he wasn't interested. This week he reaffirmed that position but also said never say never in politics. Why did all this come about. The Dems in Northern Ky. have put on a relentless campaign to get him back. They've been calling, writing letters, etc. They've really put forth a major effort.

The other part of this is money and he'll have it. Right now, no one's paying much attention to the Northern Ky. race. If Lucas jumps in, the district comes into play majorly. The reason is Lucas' former campaign manager, John Lapp, is now the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

posted by Stithmeister @ 9:16 PM

Hoder Denied Entry Into The U.S.

A Canadian citizen, originally from Tehran, was booted from the U.S. because of his blog. The rule is Canadians can stay in the U.S. for about 6 mos. They can't set up residence though. This fella commented on his blog he was based out of New York because he thought it sounded cooler than Toronto.

He heads back for small amount of time and then tries to ride the bus back. He's stopped at the border and grilled. The Border Patrol guy starts grilling him, reading his blog, etc. Sees a copy of Newsweek from the friend he was staying with in NYC and see it's addressed to the guy. Based on that, he's booted out of the country. He'd only been in the U.S. for a month.

The guys name on the net is Hoder, he's a member of the Committee to Protect Bloggers.

posted by Stithmeister @ 2:04 PM

Miami University hit For Domestic Partner Benefits Tuesday, November 29, 2005

KyDemocrat had a post on her Democratic State blog today stating she received a letter from Miami University stating the university was being sued. The reason is Miami offers domestic partner benefits for its employees. Since Ohio recently enacted an amendment to their state constitution prohibiting gay marriage in all it's forms.

State Rep. Thomas Brinkman Jr. elected to file a suit on behalf of the state. Miami is a top notch institution and believes domestic partner benefits are needed in order to attract top notch talent to work at the university. Brinkman feels otherwise.

The toughest part of this issue is that it's the classic wedge. They had people voting in 2004 who'd never voted the Amish. They never vote and they have a culture of not voting but they can't "let them fags get married."

I don't know the wording of the amendment so I don't know how this works. If the amendment states that no household arrangement other than traditional male/female marriage qualifies for anything, there may be a problem.

In any event, there may not be a solution other than hope the current employees were there before the amendment was passed in which case they may be protected by being grandfathered in. No ex post facto you know.

posted by Stithmeister @ 7:39 PM

Stormtrooper Manuevering

I've noted that Florida seems to be the testing ground for lots of rather frightening ideas. Medical Service Experiments previously and now a new idea... Letting Law Enforcement do practice runs on Storm Trooper tactics.

The full article is presented below:

Baltimore Sun

Anti-terror shows of force planned
MIAMI // Miami police announced yesterday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant. Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats. Police Chief John Timoney said there was no specific, credible threat of an imminent terror attack in Miami. But he said the city has repeatedly been mentioned in intelligence reports as a potential target.

What I foresee is an attempt at Shock & Awe: Police State Style.
It also will do a good job of 'Conditioning' the public to accept such activity. Once you are surrounded by a group of heavily armed police officers and are commanded to provide an ID Card, you will learn to meekly provide it. Failure to do so will cause a great degree of discomfort and will provide an object lesson to others watching. After several such object lessons, you will be more than happy to provide whatever is requested as the Storm trooper.. uh, Officer, ask "Papers Please!"

posted by Greymagius @ 12:47 PM

Va. AG Recount

Rick Howell comments on the recount proceedings for the Va. AG race. Republican Bob McDonnell appears to be winning but each recount revises the numbers down further each time. Right now, as it stands, there is only 323 votes difference out of the 1.94 million cast. Democratic Senator Creigh Deeds is the opponent and it's expected that he will request a recount. McDonnell is also an acolyte of the Pat Robertson school of politics so some should probably be worried. It's also not a stretch to expect this man to go for the governor's mansion the next time around either if he wins.

Some watchers are calling this closest statewide race in Va. history so this is something significant. The Washington Post has a good write-up on the situation.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:37 AM

More Lawmakers May Be Up Abramoff Creek

It looks like lawmakers on both sides of the aisle could be in deep kimchee regarding possible "donations" to the respective lawmakers' causes. The AP is reporting this morning of a number of legislators in both the House and Senate receiving money from the Louisiana Coushatta Indiana in exchange for letters of recommendation and a word on their behalf.

A lawyer for the Louisiana Coushatta Indians told The Associated Press that Abramoff instructed the tribe to send $5,000 to Sen. Byron Dorgan (news, bio, voting record)'s political group just three weeks after the North Dakota Democrat urged fellow senators to fund a tribal school program Abramoff's clients wanted to use.

The check was one of about five dozen the Coushattas listed in a tribal ledger as being issued on March 6, 2002, to various lawmakers' campaigns and political causes at the instruction of Abramoff, tribal attorney Jimmy Fairchild said Monday.

Many of the recipients were lawmakers who had just written letters to the Bush administration or Congress supportive of Abramoff's tribal causes, documents show.


Dorgan's staff said Dorgan believes the letter was drafted by Sen. Conrad Burns (news, bio, voting record), R-Mont., who also signed it and got similar donations from Abramoff's clients in the same time frame.

For instance, the Coushattas' check ledger shows the tribe on March 6, 2002, wrote checks for $5,000 to Dorgan's political group, called the Great Plains Leadership Fund, and $25,000 to Burns. That money ultimately landed in Burns' Friends of the Big Sky political group, records show.

Other checks listed as being issued that day were made out to groups or campaigns associated with Sens. Trent Lott, Mary Landrieu, Harry Reid and John Breaux and Reps. Tom DeLay, Charles Taylor and Pete Session, all of whom wrote letters favorable to Abramoff tribal client causes, the ledger shows.

Those lawmakers, like Dorgan, have denied any connection between the letters and the donations.

"The suggestion in the story that I may have supported that school construction program because of Jack Abramoff or because of campaign contributions from Indian tribes is clearly and despicably wrong," Dorgan said.

We've got to do better than this. Of course Abramoff wouldn't be a successful lobbyist if he didn't work both sides of the aisle.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:23 AM

Gift Ideas For Christmas Monday, November 28, 2005

For folks doing their shopping online this year, please check out the links. They list some great book and if you go to the site, there is just about anything you could want with some great pricing too. For every purchase, you'll support this blog.

For a great idea, I'm currently reading Jimmy Carter's "Our Endangered Values." It's quite the interesting read as Carter discusses his problems with fundamentalism in the U.S. and the world and how one can be LIBERAL, humanist, and a Baptist.

You can also find "Freakanomics" in there. It's liable to offend you slightly but it's got some incredible and eye-opening analyses of a number of topics upto and including abortion. It make you made but it's well reasoned and honest.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:13 PM

Democrats Reaching Out To Veterans

Newsweek has a good article in this week's issue discussing the Democratic strategy of recruiting veterans to run for office. The "bloody shirt" is a tried and true political tactic, having worked for George Washington and still being a valid tactic today.

In recent years, the administration attack dogs have done a decent job of taking the bloody shirt out of the equation but some think now might be different. The first to feel this punch was Senator John McCain when he ran in 2000. The Bush campaign successfully questioned his patriotism despite the fact he served his nation in a distinguished manner and suffered as a POW in Vietnam. They questioned the patriotism and sacrifice of Max Cleland of Ga. The man lost three of his four limbs in Vietnam and the asked if he made any worthwhile contributions. When the Murtha Marine spoke out against the war, they called him a coward.

The Democrats are going to try it again. Veterans have a moral authority to challenge the administration on the war and their policies. Even as the administration starts cutting and running from the criticism, so much so that they are talking about exit strategies finally, it goes to show we need to get them out of office. The Democrats need to press the advantage and keep it up so the Republicans can't look for an opening. All the Dems need to do is emphasize the mistakes and corruption rampant throughtout the party and they could grasp victory.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:58 PM

Open Minds, Open Topics

Open topic... have at it.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:55 PM

Canadian Government Falls

After 17 mos., the Canadian Parliament must reshuffle the cards again as Prime Minister Paul Martin and his Liberal Party received a no confidence vote from the other three parties. The vote came after scandal rocked the Liberal Party.

This will be the first holiday election since 1979 and the elections for every member of parliament are expected to be held on Jan. 23rd. The Liberal Party was a fragile minority government.

Martin has had a tough time dealing with Washington first because he opted not to support the Iraq war and second because he pushed through successful gay marriage legislation.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:34 PM

Fascism Is Coming?

A recent article in the Toronto Star online edition. I have to say I will try and pick up this book. The writer, Paul Bigoni, goes into detail about how the current social and economic situation in North America look remarkably like those in German and Italy before Der Fuhrer and Il Duce came into power. He notes many similarities and how much of the system has been under construction for quite some time. The only thing I scratched my head about was the term neo-liberals and using it to refer to the Bush, Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney.

He drew a lot of comparisons between the two ages and quoted Thurman Arnold, the head of the Anti-Trust division of the Dept. of Justice in 1939:

"Germany, of course, has developed within 15 years from an industrial autocracy into a dictatorship. Most people are under the impression that the power of Hitler was the result of his demagogic blandishments and appeals to the mob... Actually, Hitler holds his power through the final and inevitable development of the uncontrolled tendency to combine in restraint of trade."

Arnold made his point even more clearly in a 1939 address to the American Bar Association:

"Germany presents the logical end of the process of cartelization. From 1923 to 1935, cartelization grew in Germany until finally that nation was so organized that everyone had to belong either to a squad, a regiment or a brigade in order to survive. The names given to these squads, regiments or brigades were cartels, trade associations, unions and trusts. Such a distribution system could not adjust its prices. It needed a general with quasi-military authority who could order the workers to work and the mills to produce. Hitler named himself that general. Had it not been Hitler it would have been someone else."

I recommend reading the article. It's frightening but it needs to be read. I only hope it gets more play in the blogosphere. I just wish the pansy American media would run something like this. But then...they're part of the problem aren't they.

This was an era eerily like our own, insofar as economists and businessmen constantly clamoured for self-regulation in business. By the mid 1920s, however, self-regulation had become self-imposed regimentation. By means of monopoly and cartel, the businessmen had wrought for themselves a "command and control" economy that replaced the free market. The business associations of Italy and Germany at this time are perhaps history's most perfect illustration of Adam Smith's famous dictum: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."


Neo-liberals call relentlessly for tax cuts, which, in a previously progressive system, disproportionately favour the wealthy. Regarding the distribution of wealth, the neo-liberals have nothing to say. In the end, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. As in Weimar Germany, the function of the state is being reduced to that of a steward for the interests of the moneyed elite. All that would be required now for a more rapid descent into fascism are a few reasons for the average person to forget he is being ripped off. Hatred of Arabs, fundamentalist Christianity or an illusory sense of perpetual war may well be taking the place of Hitler's hatred for communists and Jews.

Neo-liberal intellectuals often recognize the need for violence to protect what they regard as freedom. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times has written enthusiastically that "the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist," and that "McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15." As in pre-fascist Germany and Italy, the laissez-faire businessmen call for the state to do their bidding even as they insist that the state should stay out of the marketplace. Put plainly, neo-liberals advocate the use of the state's military force for the sake of private gain. Their view of the state's role in society is identical to that of the businessmen and intellectuals who supported Hitler and Mussolini. There is no fear of the big state here. There is only the desire to wield its power. Neo-liberalism is thus fertile soil for fascism to grow again into an outright threat to our democracy.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:24 PM

Duke Cunningham (R-CA) Resigns

Long time Republican congressman Duke Cunningham of California resigned from his seat today after pleading guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy after admitting to taking millions from defense contractors for steering business their way.

Apparently, he took all kinds of gifts and money and after saying repeatedly he did no such thing, he finally fessed up and said he'd lied, cheated, and stole from the American taxpayer. I feel like there should be a beer commercial like "real men of integrity" or "Mr. I took a yacht from a defense contractor!"

Chris Cillizza over at his Washington Post blog spoke the truth in saying that Democrats certainly aren't immune but the Republican situation is much more dire as it has directly affected the leadership of the party in the House.

Something else to consider will be Michael Scanlon testifying. He's already nailed Bob Ney (R-OH) and it's hard to guess where he'll finger next, if anyone. One has to think that there will be others though, maybe even Tom Delay, especially since Abramoff(Scanlon's partner in crime) was Delay's right hand man and Scanlon was right beside him.

While some suggest Duke Cunningham won't change much within the party, the problem the Republican's face is the entire corrupt image thing that continues to build. Cunningham just added a lot of fuel to that fire and one can only hope the Democrats can take advantage of the situation.

posted by Stithmeister @ 7:38 PM

Trimming the Fat Sunday, November 27, 2005

An article in today's Courier Journal talks about the "pork" often seen in spending bills. Right now Congress is under much scrutiny because recent spending bills include thousands of projects all over the country, including nearly a billion to our home state of Kentucky. Many feel like we should be more fiscally conservative on both sides of the aisle.

The problem we run into is how do we decide what projects are worthy and which aren't because most districts need the projects. They represent some sort of development for a part of a district. It oculd be a environmental, it could be education, economic development or a myriad of other issues.

What most people see is that we're passing all these projects yet we don't have the income to to support such ventures, particular as we wage a war, try to clean up the Gulf Coast AND try to cut taxes for the wealthier groups of people in this nation. Nobody likes taxes, pure and simple. That's part of the price one pays to live in our society. However we have to achieve balance. In most cases (though not all), these projects are important. Where do we get the money to pay for these without sending our economy further into the whole than it already is?

During WWII, FDR increased taxes. We needed more money in the coffers to fight the war. Unfortunately, Bush hasn't figured out that in order to balance the books, he needs to bring in more than he spends. Increasing taxes on the fantastically wealthy is the only way to do it. Some argue that the wealthy shouldn't be taxed that high because they will spend the money and cycle it back into the economy, the problem is they don't. If there was a way to guarantee it would go back into the economy, then I'd say do it but we can't so taxes is the only way.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:48 PM

Bob Ney And Bribery Charges Saturday, November 26, 2005

It looks like Bob Ney (R-Ohio) is being investigated for bribery charges. Earlier this week, lobbyist Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty in a deal in which he has been talking to the justice department. It looks like he's fingered Ney in this investigation.

The case comes from high-powered lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Scanlon, both people who used to work for Tom Delay. While it looks like charges are going to be levied and against Ney, according to WaPo, Delay and others are being looked over pretty thoroughly. Senator Conrad Burn (R-Montana) and Rep. John Doolittle (R-Ca) are also in the hot seat.

The connections run deep it would appear. While they say there's no connection, Both Delay's and Doolittle's wife benefitted from their relationship with Abramoff. Doolittle's wife received payments and Delay's wife worked for a lobbying firm who received referrals from Abramoff... talk about a conflict of interest.

An attorney for DeLay, whose wife worked for a lobbying firm that received client referrals from Abramoff, said there was no connection between her work and congressional business. A spokesman for Doolittle, whose wife received payments from Abramoff's lobbying firm, also said there was no connection with her husband's position. Burns's office has said his actions were consistent with his support for improving conditions for Indian tribes.

This scandal continues to get deeper and one truly wonders who else it will touch. These powerful lobbyists have deep roots throughout the congress. It remainst to be seen whether they will roll over on others, including Delay or if Ney is the lamb heading for the slaughter.

posted by Stithmeister @ 12:24 PM

Bill Nightbert, Ernie Fletcher and the Scandal For All Seasons

These scandals started some months ago as the AG's office took up the case of hiring questions in the Fletcher administration. The AG office charges Fletcher broke all kinds of rules hiring a lot of people he did, there were lots of political appointments, more than there should've been. Particularly since a number of the jobs required testing and other formalities for employees to get hired. Then he fire people to replace them with his and they weren't supposed to be able to be fired.

The AG's office indicted several,, the administration pardoned them without a trial and then the AG's office reindicted them. One of the names caught up in that scandal was Bill Nighbert.

A good editorial this morning in the Herald-Leader had a good criticism of the administration and how Fletcher continues to improve the fortunes of those who've already been indicted. Things like this not only make one continue to question the ethics of the administration but also the sanity.

If example is the essence of leadership, we're not sure what Gov. Ernie Fletcher is hoping to convey by promoting Bill Nighbert from acting to permanent secretary of the Transportation Cabinet.

The message that comes through is that Fletcher couldn't get anyone better.

Nighbert, who has been acting transportation secretary since March, is under indictment for violating the state's Whistleblower Act for allegedly threatening and retaliating against a female employee who testified to the grand jury that's investigating administration hiring practices. Nighbert earlier was among the indicted covered by Fletcher's blanket pardon.

As head of transportation, Nighbert will be responsible for a huge bureaucracy with a long tradition of lax ethics, outright corruption and abuse of contracting programs for minority- and women-owned businesses.

Almost all of the alleged hiring violations have been in Transportation, and under Fletcher, the cabinet has a dismal record for hiring minorities and women. Nighbert once explained this by saying the hiring goals were "just pipe dreams we put on paper."

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:58 AM

Bush And the War Friday, November 25, 2005

A great article in the Post this morning discussing Bush's dilemma about Iraq. He's working more and more towards the ever popular no-win scenario.

Bush's historical burden is that there is no recent precedent for a leader using persuasion to reverse a steady downward slide for a military venture of the sort he is facing. Only clear evidence of success in Iraq is likely to alleviate widespread unease about the central project of this presidency, public opinion experts and political strategists say.

Me thinks Bush should start listening to Scowcroft and his old man. They are battle hardened veterans both in real war and in politics. They could help him recover because Rove and the others have dug him into a whole. I hate to see all this happening from the viewpoint that America looks worse and worse.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:40 AM

A Grand and Glorious Thanksgiving Thursday, November 24, 2005

I would like to wish a safe and happy Thanksgiving for all my readers and the guests who are just visiting. If you're traveling, be careful, if you're home stay warm and eat massive quantities. What's a religious holiday without a little gluttony.

posted by Stithmeister @ 2:58 AM

NJ Governor Won't Be Senator

Acting N.J. Governor Richard Codey said he wasn't interested in being appointed to the vacant senator's slot as the current Senator Corzine assumes the governor's job. Codey cited disruptions for he and his family as the reason for not running.

The Washington Post said:

-- Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey announced Wednesday he is not interested in filling the remainder of Gov.-elect Jon Corzine's U.S. Senate term.

Codey has hinted that he wasn't interested in going to Washington, though he's enjoyed widespread popularity since replacing Gov. James E. McGreevey, who resigned after a gay sex scandal a year ago.

By law, Corzine must vacate his Senate seat when he becomes governor in January. The person Corzine appoints will serve in the U.S. Senate for a year, until a regular election for the six-year term is held in November 2006.

Codey, 58, made his announcement Wednesday during a visit to a food bank in Hillside.

He said becoming a U.S. senator would disrupt life for both him and his wife Mary Jo.

This is probably a dissappointment for many NJ Dems but it will show Corzine's first test as governor. He needs to pick a candidate that can do the job for the next year but also someone strong enough to win in 2006 elections.

posted by Stithmeister @ 2:33 AM

Bob Woodward: One of the President's Men Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Back in the early 70s, a massive scandal broke out around the White House and the administration. Some of you may have heard of it. It became known as Watergate. The entire administration was riddled with scandal as a newspaper, the Washington Post broke the story and put the screws to Richard Nixon. Two reporters, young and vigorous, put much on the line to go after this story.

These two, Woodward and Bernstein, became legends. They were the standard many journalists shot for. They were embroiled in a national scandal of the highest order and they brought it to the light and in so doing brought down a well respected American president. They were soldiers for the free press. Woodward stayed on with the Post for decades, he's still there as a matter of fact. But the one time legend, the standard bearer for a free press, has become nothing more than a mountpiece for the administration. He gave up his integrity to be on the good side of the administration.

He witheld information from crucial sources, including his own bosses. He knew the routine, he'd been through this stuff almost since the beginning of his career. Media Matters covers details of his book, "Plan of Attack." They cover a lot of details he left out or misinterpreted. He let the administration express their view point.

What happened to the guy who put the screws to the American presidency 30 years ago? Many in today's progressive movement hold a fair amount of idealism. Many are young and have distinct sense of right and wrong. Bob Woodward was one of the heroes. He was a boomer who many thought did things right. Unfortunately, he's not even close.

When he spoke to Larry King on Monday, he defended his objectivity. The problem is, in most cases, objectivity is impossible. I took a lot of journalism classes when I was in college. I worked as political journalist covering Kentucky's legislature during the 2005 session. It's darn near impossible to stay objective and I didn't even really know these people. I certainly had my political opinions but I learned quickly the way you phrase a question, the way you emphasize certain things will help determine the answer you get. Your choices of words, your grammar, all of that can determine the meaning of the story. If Woodward were being the hardnosed journalist he should be when our country is at war, he would've been relentless in his pursuits. Instead, he made it easy on the administration officials. In making it so easy on them, he had a hand in the deaths of all those soldiers in Iraq who went to war based on bogus intelligence from a corrupt and bogus administration. The one time hero is now the very same thing he fought against so many years ago.

In his quest to be on the inside, he forgot about the outside.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:36 PM

Jose Padilla - Unintentional Martyr?

It's always strange when one sees an event like this happening. Jose Padilla is stuck in a Navy brig in South Carolina, devoid of his constitutionally guaranteed rights as an American citizen because he was labeled an enemy combatant by President Bush in 2002.

Then Attorney General John Ashcroft said Padilla wanted to set off a radiological dirty bomb. Now, he's been indicted by the current AG, Gonzalez, and the charges have nothing to do with dirty bombs. It's about conspiring to murder individuals overseas. He was held for three years in a military prison in South Carolina. The new indictment doesn't even mention the dirty bomb.

So what does this say about our country? What does it say about the administration? Should the president have unlimited authority in a situation like this? The answer is a resounding NO.

The current administration has consistently worked to strip away the rights guaranteed to us by the constitution. That document guarantees us certain rights and Bush, Cheney and others seek to undermine. Sure Padilla may not be quite the upstanding citizen. He's got a record of being a gangbanger. But this type of thing needs to end. Every time we do something else, it's a more dehumanizing. I used to think we were slowly eroding our rights. Now it looks to be moving along rather speedily.

I make no bones about it. I'm an idealist and an optimist. Perhaps it makes me a bit naive as well but government's don't have to operate like this. We can protect our nation without stripping away the principles we were founded on.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:49 AM

Lobbyist Indictment Update Tuesday, November 22, 2005

According to TPM Cafe, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) is in real trouble. Apparently Scanlon fingered Ney as part of the casino mess. Me thinks this could get a bit bigger.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:46 PM

Delay Has Problems

A deep southern bow to the young lady atMajikThise for this one coming from the Hotline blog.

Tom Delay lost another round in his criminal indictment in attempting to get the charges dropped. It doesn't look good considering Speaker of the House Denny Hastert told him that if this isn't fixed byt January, elections will have to be held. I'd say it's both the sake of the agenda and the elections.

How long this will drag out isn't known for sure but if the Republicans want a shot at doing well in 2006, they either need to get Delay off the hook ASAP or cut him loose completely because while's he's an exceptionally astute albeit crooked politician, he's starting to pick up an exceptional amount of baggage. It could get much worse if the Abramoff/Scanlon scandal goes back to him and it's entirely possible it will.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:34 PM

You Might Be a GM Executive If...

If you don't have to take responsibility for your shortsightedness.

If you can lay off thousands of workers multiple times a year after you already shaft them on insurance rates

If you lack vision in developing your automobiles and don't have sufficient insight to innovate for the future

If you put all your eggs in the SUV basket

If you didn't think the price of oil would screw with your sales

If you didn't take a massive paycut and worry about losing your own job either.

General Motors announced yesterday they would cut 30,000 jobs and close all or part of 12 facilities. The main reason is to help deal with Japanese automakers like Toyota who're moving up in the world. Toyota is the number 2 automake in the U.S.

It's odd. GM has more selection, more labels, product lines etc. The problem is most of their lines are the wrong product. It's all SUVs. They placed all their eggs in the the back end of a Yukon and they can't afford to drive it now.

This will butcher he economies in the communities these plants are in because these types of jobs usually pay well and industry goes up around them. Whole towns will dry up.

Competition is only part of the reason though. Like so many others in corporate America, they lack vision to out-hustle their competitors. GM and Ford both could build the vehicles they need to build. They just didn't have enough foresight to notice that fuel prices wouldn't last forever. One would think as much money as they companies spend on marketing and advertising, they'd have some to spend on R&D so they could not only figure out what people want to drive but have enough things in planning stages to make modifications as need be. Heck, it wouldn't surpise me if Toyota tried to buy GM in a few years. The people in this country are willing to work but the executive management in corporations, just like in politics, have to be willing to look into the long term, not a year or two down the road but 6 or 8 down the road and 10 or 15 down the road and even further. They just don't have it.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:18 PM

Mike Weaver Campaigning In Owensboro

Representative Mike Weaver kicked off his campaign in prime 2nd district territory, Owensboro. Weaver is originally from the Daviess County area, growing up in Livia. He currently lives in Radcliff. The Messenger-Inquirer

Weaver had a couple of cheerleaders in former governor and U.S. senator, Wendell Ford and former governor and current state Senator Julian Carroll. When Weaver was in the Ky. National guard, his platoon leader was Senator Ford.

Weaver has his work cut out for him running against an 11 year incumbant but he believes a win is possible. Lewis is one of the weaker candidates out there right now.

Jerry Lundergan says this one's receiving the full attention for the 2006 race and it's possible. Lewis hasn't brought in the kind of money others have and the second district is expensive to run in, covering a number of TV markets including Louisville.

Political heavyweights have lost against Lewis before though. Former Senate President Joe Prather ran and lost in 1994, powerful Senate Majority Leader Joe Wright won and lost in 1996.

The seat was held by the late William H. Natcher, a legend in Congress. He was elected when Harry Truman was president and was there until 1994, dying in office. He never missed a roll call vote in his entire history.

Another race the party should concentrate on his Geoff Davis district. Davis is weak and could be beaten with the right candidate and it probably wouldn't take that much effort. Unfortunately, Nick Clooney couldn't put it together, mostly because it was entirely too liberal for the region. A moderate could win though I think.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:35 PM

Murtha And The War Monday, November 21, 2005

It's always tough for man to face up to reality and stand for his beliefs. It's all to rare to see it in congress. But the Murtha Marine is doing it now. He's started a war in Washington over the war in Iraq. Even Cheney was careful to step around Murtha in his speech slamming the rest of the Democrats who want to get out of Iraq. A great article in Newsweek goes into decent detail.

I'm sure he had a very difficult time with this decision because as a rule, marines really like being marines. Their job is tough and sometimes nasty and they do it with pride. Murtha did it for almost four decades and he's saying we can't win this war without reinstating the draft. He's saying we're part of the problem in Iraq.

There's no question wars are expensive. At one time, wars could even be good for the economy because they stimulated some big industry. It's not the case anymore. It's becoming a drain. The vision of "Pax Americana" will have to wait a while longer.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:07 PM

Don't Be Such A Schmidt

The right 'ornery Representative Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), who barely won the seat in a brutal special election earlier in the year is currently breaking the law. How you might ask. Mark Nickolas at Bluegrass Report kindly pointed out some problems she has on her re-election site. The problem is it violates campaign rules explained in detail in manuals put forth by the U.S. House of Representatives. Keep in mind this is why political leaders are supposed to maintain a separate headquarters from their actual work offices.

Here's the quote he pulled:

In reproducing such materials, the campaign must remove all official indicia, such as the official letterhead from a press release that the congressional office had issued, and any references to the address or telephone number of the congressional office. The name of any congressional staff contact that appeared in the material as issued originally must also be deleted. Subject to the same requirements, such materials may also be posted on the Member’s campaign Web site.

Now takes a look at her site. She violates a number of rules including carrying the official seal and linking back to her congressional site. Keep in mind this is the woman who initially suggested the Murtha marine was a coward.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:28 PM

Ariel Sharon On His Own

A little international news as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon quit the political party he helped to found. Likud, the rightwing hawkish party in the Knesset currently controls one third of the body. Sharon leaving the party will create some holes for leadership but the part is sure to lose some ground as Sharon loyalists follow him to the new centrist party he's creating.

Sharon was traditionally a hawk and some might even argue a war monger of sorts as he helped to drive the settlements in Israel, many of which were considered illegal. He's now the one leading a movement to tear down some of those settlements, creating strife in his Likud party.

In the end, Sharon is an old soldier. He carried a big stick and rattled the cages of many of the Palestinian militants. It appears to have made progress. I think he'll continue to act like and old soldier. Right now he's regrouping and I think he might just come out ahead.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:05 PM

Delay Aide Pleades Guilty To Conspiracy

Michael Scanlon, a former aide to Tom Delay (R-Texas) and partner to lobbyist and othe former Delay aide Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy. It looks like Scanlon made deal though because the justice department looks to be widening it's investigation multiple congresspeople. It's going to be hard to say who's going to get caught but one has to figure Scanlon is going to finger someone.

Abramoff is already in a lot of trouble of his own. Whether or not he's cooperating is unknown. Delay's name is sure to come up again and again. He's also got all he can handle in Texas right now. Another name that popped up in the AP via the Washington Post is Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio).

Both Scanlon and Abramoff, as competent, knowledgable lobbyists, knew how to spread it around so to speak so both parties are going to suffer some fallout I think. It's somewhat reminiscent of Kentucky's own Wal Mart version of this, BOPTROT. The reason I make the Wal Mart reference is because these local legislators were bought off incredibly cheaply.

In any event, this isn't over by a long shot and if the time is just right, it could the big stuff could hit in about March of next year and really create havoc with the election season. These folks live in interesting times.

posted by Stithmeister @ 9:44 PM

New readers

I know we've picked up some new readers lately. I'd like to personally welcome you all and invite you to comment as you see fit. All opinions are valid. If anyone has an idea for a post, please feel free to email me.

John Stith,
Democrat From Kentucky

posted by Stithmeister @ 9:35 PM

Budget Cuts Abound

Congress is trying to hammer out the final details of budget cuts. The House passed their version late into the night last week and it was 217-215. This was mostly along partisan lines with 14 Republicans joining Democrats but still losing the fight. What does this mean? Well, they did drop ANWR from the House version but the Senate still has it. The real issue is the $50 billion in cuts represents 1/3 of a percent of the total $14.3 trillion spent over the next 5 years. What are the cutting though? All the social program mainly, things like student loan programs, Medicaid, thousands will be kicked off of food stamps and child support enforcement.

This is why I don't support the Republicans. They encourage poverty, they encourage the social darwinism or is this their own version of intelligent design. I have to say I've a very personal opinion on this subject because if this stuff had happened a few years ago, my family would've been the ones losing out here.

Without going into too much detail, due to family circumstances, my family required food stamps, housing assistance, student loans, medical assistance, etc. from the federal government. We probably would've survived without it, but my mother probably wouldn't have made it to nursing school otherwise. The thing is, most people on receiving government assistance of some sort aren't there permanently and don't want to be. They don't like it. There are always exceptions and some people abuse the system. But that is not the rule as many would have us believe.

The point is the Republicans, and I'm laying all this at their feet because this is how they voted, being the good Christians they are voted to take food and shelter from the poor, those living ever so slightly above the poverty level will be forced below if these measure are enacted. While the Senate version is different, the problem of ANWR is still on the table because it's in the Senate budget still and they've said they won't budge on it.

The New Colossus - Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

It seems every year we get further away from the ideal instead of closer to it. At the current rate, we're going to need a new America, because many will be even poorer, more tirder and definitely more wretched.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:26 AM

Open topic Saturday, November 19, 2005

Put what you like up here. Tomorrow, I will put up a lengthy rant about the budget cuts, such as they are.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:24 PM

Walk The Line

I saw the movie last night... excellent biopic for the late Johnny Cash. Joaquin Phoenix did a good job. I recommend it highly. The music's good if you like the Man in Black too.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:22 PM

What're You Reading Now?

I'm currently reading Jimmy Carter's "Our Endangered Values" and I finished "Freakanomics" a couple of months ago. What are you reading in the political/historical side of things?

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:07 PM

Congress Goes To War (With Each Other)

After fiery comments by Rep. John Murtha on Thursday. The honorable Representative Murtha made the tough call to bring the troops home. On Friday, the House of Representatives erupted in a verbal war with one Representative suggesting Murtha was a coward before retracting the statement. The Democrats didn't react well to the verbal bullets being thrown at the old marine in the House. Some even had to be physically restrained.

As a political tactic, the GOP called for a brief resolution in response that of Murtha that was much shorter and left our many details Murtha thought pertinent to the situation. The GOP didn't want the information on the record that's for sure. The vote went out on the GOP resolution and it easily passed. Murtha and the rest of the Dems knew it was a ploy. The Post ran a good story on the debate.

Congress needs an honest debate on this war. They need to force Bush and Cheney to give thorough, regular updates on the war and they need to see a concise strategy of some kind, even if it's not withdrawal. They need to see how our country plans to deal with Iraq and in the future and what it's going to take finish this job.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:27 AM

Hard-Assed Democrat Hawk Says Bring'em Home Thursday, November 17, 2005

Representative John Murtha (D-Pa) has called to bring the troops home. Murtha's not exactly a liberal democrat either. He's a retired marine colonel, finishing out his service after 37 years and time in Vietnam. He earned a bronze star and two purple hearts. He's considered in most circles to be the top authority for military matters in the House and he's quite close with those in Pentagon. He makes regular visits to Iraq and talks to generals in the field regularly.

He said this:

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence," he said. "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

Naturally, the Republicans responded quickly, questioning why Murtha would take such a position. He even Kentucky's own Geoff Davis (R-Ky) accused the Democrats of making shameful statements. Murtha responded to recent criticism from both Bush and Cheney saying:

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there," said Murtha, a former Marine. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

One point the AP pointed out was :

Known as a friend and champion of officers at the Pentagon and in the war zone, it is widely believed in Congress that Murtha often speaks for those in uniform and could be echoing what U.S. commanders in the field and in the Pentagon are saying privately about the conflict.

Murtha, who normally shuns the spotlight, said he spoke out because he has grown increasingly troubled by the war and has a constitutional and moral obligation to speak for the troops.

Keep in mind this is a guy who flies to Iraq regularly and has been in the fight as a marine. These are guys who tend get excited about defending America. He's calling for us to come home. The WaPo had a good story on this one too.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:25 PM

Trouble on the National Liberal Blog Scene?

Progressive blogger Rogers Cadenhead and his Drudge Retort had a recent falling out with the Advertise Liberally advertising group put together by Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos and Chris Bowers and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD.

Cadenhead comments on his own blogm Work Bench about the situation. He commented on the seemingly abrasive tone taken by Moulitsas after Va. Governor-elect Tim Kaine pulled an ad. The reasoning was ad partner Steve Gilliard posted a depiction of an African-American politician in blackface. A decidedly unpolitically correct move.

Cadenhead said Moulisas threatened advertisers by saying:

... campaigns should advertise on blogs to reach readers, not to "endorse" the publication. We're bloggers. We'll say things that are "controversial". If campaigns don't think they can weather such storms, then by all means they should NOT advertise on blogs.

Because every time a campaign freaks out at a blogger and pulls their ads, we're going to raise a stink about it and inevitably make that campaign look bad. So they should think long and hard before putting money into a Blogad campaign.

It's an interesting exchange. I will eye it further but it shows bloggers are picking up power. Of course Kos get over a million hits a week and charges $1500 and ad for a week and has 8 ads on the blog.

posted by Stithmeister @ 1:52 PM

The Patriot Act & Other Fables

Welcome to a land that Lewis Carroll & Jonathan Swift could only create in Parody and George Orwell wrote of, but had his time table off by about 40 years.

The Patriot Act (A very 1984-ish bit of Double-speak), exist to catch Terrorist and other 'Enemies' of America. If you oppose it, you're Un-Patriotic and thus an Enemy of America.

I begin to have thoughts on why Bush might want the US Armed services with the power of Domestic Law Enforcement. It also might explain why the National Guard is so freely used over seas and so many regular Military are left at home.

The National Guard responds on a state level. If my home town in rural Kentucky gets pissed and rises up, says no more taxes paid, we'll set our own laws and enforce them, the federal government would be forced to respond. If the National Guard were sent in, many would have friends, relatives, ect. They would not shoot to kill, they would sympathize. Many might well join the revolt.

If the Military is sent in, they're likely to be from someplace else. Despite everything, an urban born and raised black is more likely to shoot a red-neck cracker, than say, a National Guardsman from the same rural area. The reverse is quite true as well. A Good ole boy from Ky. will be quite happy to shoot a black Gangsta from Detroit.

Never in my experience has our country been so divided. Using highly charged issues such as Patriotism, Gays and Abortion, we have been neatly divided into factions with no room for compromise. It has become a For Us or Against Us set of subcultures. At one point in time, you could discuss politics or Religion in most settings. Today, you must not, unless you are in a small group that you are on good terms and much shared sentiment on. The last time there was such a great difference in opinion, we had the Civil War. We may well have another, if things do not change. This time though, the lines are not as well drawn.

Until enough people get pissed and start a true revolt, you might follow the suggestion of Robert Heinlein. "Accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. "

Quiet Civil Disobedience is nice. I intend to write letters and post and do other Civil acts of opposition. I also intend to circumvent any laws I find intolerable. How will I do this? Well, if we believe Law Enforcement agencies are checking places such as this, it would be foolish to tell how I am doing this... Or I might just be saying this to tweak their noses... as a bit of Civil Disobedience.

posted by Greymagius @ 1:50 PM

Following A Ship Of Fools

A website designed to poke fun at organized religion found its way into my radar. The site, ShipOfFools is quite amusing. They've got all kinds of good cynical stuff regarding religion. They also have a joke page called Laugh Judgement.

I grabbed the joke they called #1:

No. 1: Man on a bridge

Written by the comedian Emo Philips. 65% of people thought this was funny or very funny

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"


"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"


"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"


"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

For most, Emo Phillips is an acquired taste but the joke isn't bad. It also illustrates something this country may be approaching in it's own religious issues.

posted by Stithmeister @ 1:40 PM

Patriot Act Goes Virtually Unchanged

The cowards in Congress left the Patriot Act virtually unchanged from it's current form as it comes it for renewal. Your congressmen voted to allow the government to continue to remove the pretense of civil liberties. Thomas Paine said:

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Are we reaching the "intolerable" point? I think we're getting there. This article in the WaPo give a decent run down on what happened.

One problem I have is that I know our congressman, Ben Chandler, will vote for it. I like Ben, I really do, but his votes aren't terribly progressive on much of anything. He's going to vote for this just like he voted for the RealID legislation. The only real good point in this bill came from the inclusion of some judicial oversight, but I think that was more lip service than anything.

Our civil liberties and our right privacy, covered in the 4th amendment are always up for grabs. We do have an expectation to be safe but we need to be protected from our own government as much as the terrorist and other foreign adversaries. They say constantly we have to protect our way of life and they're right, we do. But our own government has done more to infringe upon and remove our rights than any foreign power ever did.

To quote Ben Franklin, "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

posted by Stithmeister @ 9:01 AM

Judge Rules Against Fletcher Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A judge ruled against Governor Fletcher's "awesome pardon power" today, saying the grand jury could continue it's investigation and indictments against individuals already pardoned for crimes they never even went to trial for. Merely the hint of indictment sent Fletcher to the pardoner's pen. Ryan Alessi over at the Herald Leader has the complete story.

Fletcher did appeal the decision and there's no word on that yet. While their certainly needs to be a separation of powers and groups should adhere to the constitution, the way the Fletcher administration chose to wield the pardon power would've made it's ability unlimited and in so doing, anyone could do anything and not even worry about sullying their good name.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:54 PM

Louisville Senate District To Finally Be Decided

It's looks like the State Supreme Court will finally decide Louisville's vacant 37th senate district. An election was held last year for the slot. Republican Dana Seum Stephenson (daughter of Majority Whip Dan Seum) got the most votes. Done deal right? Wrong. The Democratic candidate, Virginia Woodward filed a motion the day before the election to have Stephenson disqualified because she didn't meet the state residency requirements outlined in the state constitution.

The conflict comes from the fact the constitution also says the legislature, both house and senate can set the terms for candidates for the respective bodies. A big blowup ensued. The Senate put together a commission to investigate. Along party lines, the vote went and since there was one more Democrat than Republicans, the Dems won. So case over? Nope, not yet. When the Senate convened, they chose to swear in Stepheson, over the objections of the Democrats and recently converted Republican Senator Bob Leeper of Paducah (now an Independent). He recommended a special election to solve the problem, became rather emotional and left the proceedings.

The board of elections for Louisville and the state refused to certify Stephenson because she was declared ineligible for residency requirements, yet David Williams and the rest of the Republican opposition maintains Stephenson belongs in the Senate which brings us up to speed *WHEW*.

The State Supreme Court has discussed the issue but there's no time table for the ruling.

One issue Mark Nickolas brought up at the Bluegrass Report> was a possible conflict of interest by Chief Justice John Roach because Roach was Governor Fletcher's attorney and was involved with Fletcher when Fletcher donated some of his federal PAC money to Stephenson's campaign.

It's ugly but Stephenson will probably win on my initial thoughts. The best solution is a special election but if that's the case, the 37th will be without representation for another session. The smart thing would've been to decide the issue this summer and had a special election this fall, but that would've been too tough. Last spring, I talked to a number of Republican senators and many felt a special election would be the best answer.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:20 PM

A Constitutional Amendment we should all support

The NY Times has been getting a rough run recently. Deservedly so, I think. Still, I read it because it is usually pretty fair minded. Occasionally, you even get something brilliant from it. The article quoted below and linked to, is one such piece.


Dan Savage has come up with a suggestion so simple but brilliant, it makes me doubt my own intelligence. With cries for Constitutional Amendments to ban Abortion, Gay Marriage and for all I know, anything other than Missionary Position in bed, maybe we need a Constitutional Amendment that our Founding Fathers would have believed in.
A Right to Privacy Amendment.

If the Republicans can propose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, why can't the Democrats propose a right to privacy amendment? Making this implicit right explicit would forever end the debate about whether there is a right to privacy. And the debate over the bill would force Republicans who opposed it to explain why they don't think Americans deserve a right to privacy - which would alienate not only moderates, but also those libertarian, small-government conservatives who survive only in isolated pockets on the Eastern Seaboard and the American West.

It won't solve all the problems of this country, but it will reaffirm the right to "Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness"

posted by Greymagius @ 9:06 AM

Storms Across Kentucky Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Storms bombarded the state today and Evansville, Indiana got another tornado. This article in the Courier Journal gives a run down on a lot of the damage in Kentucky.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:50 PM

Kentucky Democratic Call To Arms

State party chair Jerry Lundergan sent out the call to arms today. In a press release today he fired the first shots for the coming elections. With Mike Weaver's announcement, this begins the war. While Democrats certainly aren't perfect, the Republicans need to be knocked down a few notches. The extreme right wing has been in power too long. Things need to come back toward the middle.

The Kentucky Democratic Party

Fellow Democrats.

In just 17 days Democrats from across the Commonwealth will come together to begin to rally for the effort to elect competent, respectable and honest leadership to our government at every level. We are honored to have as our special guest United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Judging from the out cry from the Republicans, we know we have found the correct key by securing Senator Clinton’s appearance.

We need and invite your support.

As an example, we Democrats are anxious to correct the mistake of an opportunist State Representative from Christian County, who after accepting substancial direct financial assistance from our Party to win an election, switched his party registration. Now a Republican, you can play a role in holding him accountable and help run Rep. Carr in the ditch. Furthermore, Kentucky Democrats will not allow this arrogant State Senate President to leave the good people in their Louisville senate district unrepresented for more than a year without a final remedy. Kentucky Democrats will not allow the corruption, waste, fraud and abuse brought by Ernie Fletcher and Steve Pence to go unchecked. We fully support State Auditor Crit Luallen and Attorney General Greg Stumbo’s efforts to up hold their constitutional responsibilities to uncover the Fletcher Pence wrong doings. We will not allow them to hide behind the smoke screens of pardons and finger pointing spin.

President Bush and his radical allies in Washington have squandered opportunity and disgraced the United States. Kentucky Democrats will not allow Republicans to misrepresent Kentucky Families anymore by under funding post-secondary education, cutting health care benefits for state employees and our children’s teachers, and continuing their corruption within the Governor’s office without repercussion. Democrats are preparing to put an end these untruthful, cowardly and disrespectable acts.

Help us defeat the corrupt Republicans who misrepresent you.

As an organization, the Kentucky Democratic Party is committed to finding a way to return Kentucky to the sensible and responsible leadership that focuses on the core values that made the Commonwealth what it is today. It is time for Kentucky’s elected officials to focus on the issues that matter most to Kentuckians and affect their everyday lives. We are committed to finding and supporting Democratic candidates in Kentucky who will put Kentucky’s future ahead of partisan politics. It is our obligation and pledge to Kentucky citizens to find leaders who will work for them!

We cannot succeed without your help.

Don’t miss your opportunity to meet the Honorable Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton! Seating is very limited and seating will be sold on a first come first serve basis. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS NOW!

If you have any questions or need assistance, please call 502-695-4828 and ask for Jamie Emmons, Kate Wood or the staff at our KDP offices.

Thank you for your support,

Jerry Lundergan, State Chairman

The Kentucky Democratic Party

P.S. We would appreciate your passing this message along to a friend...

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:35 PM

Bill O'Reilly Wants Terrorists To Hit San Francisco

Bill O'Reilly was criticizing San Francisco for a recent ballot amendment that doesn't allow the military to recruit in their high schools and on college campuses. The Fox News attack dog thinks the city needs to be attacked by terrorists? Media Matters, one of O'Reilly's archnemisi right now gives a stronger picture. Here's an excerpt:

O'REILLY: Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

ThinkProgress also had some comments about the situation. They point out that O'Reilly is going to create his LIST of friends and enemies based on their support of the military.

He's an example of why so many things are wrong in this country. Far too many people, particularly our leaders and many of the pundits have the attitude of "if you don't agree with us, you all can just die because we're not going to help you." Pat Robertson is the same way, suggesting God wouldn't help Dover Pennsylvania because they elected to teach intelligent design in the philosophy studies instead of science class. This country shouldn't be about "my or the highway" or "everyman for himself." We're supposed to be more than that. We need to reexamine our own nature and figure out what the ideals really are.

posted by Stithmeister @ 9:23 AM

Eyeing Gulf Coast Reconstruction

MajikThise had a good post yesterday discussing the people keeping an eye on Gulf Coast reconstruction. There's a lot of money being sent down there for a lot of work. It would be easy enough to stick it to the government and the tax payers by large companies. A number of links are listed in the post including RescontructionWatchBlog among others.

This morning on NPR ran a story talking with families who're rebuilding in the Gulf region. It's slow going as one family member works to make money and the other works on rebuilding the home. It's not an uncommon tale. Check out Reconstruction Watch's main page if you want to help.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:51 AM

Ron Lewis Already Going After Weaver

I picked this one up from BluegrassReport. Mike Weaver's not even officially made an announcement yet and Ron Lewis is already attacking him. The Glasgow Daily Times ran the story. Here's an excerpt:

But Lewis isn’t waiting for Weaver to announce. He was busy Friday afternoon during a brief interview trying to tie Weaver, generally known as a conservative Democrat, to the more liberal elements of the national Democrat Party.

“I don’t know why they’re high on Mike,” Lewis said, invoking the names of former President Bill Clinton, Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Chairman Howard Dean and others. Asked if that meant it is fair to link him with Republicans like indicted House member Tom DeLay and administration officials like Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, Lewis said it’s fair to question Weaver’s ties because he’ll have to support people like Pelosi to secure any influence in the Congress.

“Here’s a man who’s going to go in as a freshman and be in the minority,” Lewis said. “He’s going to have to go along with Nancy Pelosi and the liberals to get along.”

Weaver was having none of that when he showed up Friday night at the chili supper attended by close to 350 local Democrats.

“That won’t stick,” said Weaver, who helped found a conservative caucus of Democrats in the state House called the Commonwealth Democrats. That group challenged the Democrat House leadership last fall because they felt the leaders had allowed the Republican Party to paint them as liberal. Many of them, including Weaver, also supported the tax modernization plan of Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher early on. Asked his position on abortion, Weaver said follows the teachings of his Roman Catholic faith, “but I also believe in supporting those who are born with quality education and health care.”

The big question is whether the Republicans will try or could successfully paint Weaver as unpatriotic like they did Max Cleland or like Bush's clan did with John McCain. It's completely ridiculous, Weaver having served two terms in Vietnam. We can watch and wait I suppose. While Weaver is a right leaning Democrat and I would prefer a left leaning type but I also realize we have to go with what's electable in the district. Someone with some conservative leanings is going to do better.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:31 AM

Louisville Smoking Ban Starts Today

City of Louisville, Ky. enacted a smoking ban and it starts today. The smoking ban covers most businesses in the nation's 16th largest city and has been controversial. Any time an ordinance like this is passed, it creates problems but this one isn't quite so rough as the Lexington ban passed a couple of years ago.

At issue is public health vs. a business's right to determine their own rules of operation. These type of battles are always difficult because many people feel they don't want the government interfering in their lives, particularly with something like smoking. The problem with smoking is besides being just an ugly habit, it has the issue of second hand smoke, which some studies show is actually more dangerous than dragging on a cigarette.

Most bars and the Churchill Downs race track will be exempt but their is some debate over certain places, like Hooters for example when they sort of serve double duty as a sports bar and restaurant. There will be other legal challenges along the way to be certain but smoking bans generally hold up.

I don't have a big problem with smoking bans because I don't see how that violates a right to anything. It's not a privacy issue. As businesses go, there are lot of other rules businesses have to follow. I think the ban should stay in place.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:19 AM

Comments on Tim Kaine's Election Monday, November 14, 2005

Rick Howell had some great comments on his blog in the recent election of Tim Kaine as Virginia's governor.

Kaine focused on the Democratic majorities in northern Virginia and other urban areas. The campaign work of contacting "federal Dems" (people who vote Democrat in federal elections but often don't vote in statewide elections) was successful. Look at the majorities we rolled up in northern Virginia. I love the numbers out of Alexandria, for example.....But, this does not mean that Kaine ignored rural areas. He didn't. And he managed to win in places such as Danville, Martinsville and Henry County.

Howell went on to make some great points regarding Kaine's victory and the help he received from popular outgoing governor and possible presidential contender in 2008, Mark Warner.

One commenter did make a good point, this wasn't a mandate for Democrats. It's a feel good moment, sure, but it's not the beginning of the end for the Republicans either. The Democrats, in order to win are going to have to show much stronger across the board. Thanks for your great insight though Rick.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:20 PM

Mike Weaver For 2nd District Congressman

After months of speculation, the Kentucky Democratic Party sent out a press release regarding "a very special endeavor" involving state representative Mike Weaver in Elizabethtown. Weaver is expected to announce his campaign for the 2nd district congressional seat against incumbent Ron Lewis. Lewis has the some decided advantages but many feel he's not been much of rep for that district.

My family is from that district in Breckinridge, Meade and Hardin County. I've not talked to them yet although I know how some will vote. One thing Weaver must do is build his name recognition. It's going to be crucial. This race will also be expensive as the district taps into multiple TV markets. Any second district folks need to hit the ground running so we can get Lewis, who's taken money from Tom Delay, out of the seat.

posted by Stithmeister @ 8:11 PM

Kentucky's Own Destructive Force: Fletcher

Governor Fletcher has nobly launched his own internal investigation into the hiring practices of previous governors, primarily Governor Paul Patton. This is to demonstrate the hiring practices undertaken by his administration we're done frequently in the past. I think Fletcher continues to miss the point here. While I hate to see a grown man cry (I thought Patton was weak when he cried), it may be time to start.

Mark Chellgren, writing for the Associated Press said:

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Evidence of political influence in hiring in previous administrations discredits the special grand jury investigation that has produced 82 indictments of 13 officials in his own administration, Gov. Ernie Fletcher said Monday.

Fletcher's comments continue the attack he has tried to mount against the investigation virtually from its inception in May. His administration stepped up the offensive last week by publicizing a database that purported to contain 7,400 names of people seeking state jobs, promotions or other awards during former Gov. Paul Patton's administration.

But Fletcher's own investigator said the database contained no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, though spokesman Brett Hall said it showed the influence of politics in hiring decisions.

The problem the governor doesn't get is he got caught. It doesn't matter if it should've been against the law, it was against the law. This is going to go on longer too. If the Republicans want to get gain some ground in 2006, they're going to have to find a way to jettison Fletcher.

posted by Stithmeister @ 7:46 PM

In Service to our Country

Found this list on another Board. I think it might be worth noting. Think of it as a late Veterans Day Salute
As the original poster, noted, it seems to really upset the Republicans a lot... Wonder why ?

Service to our Country

Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan.1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy. Graduate of Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII.

Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Cleland's patriotism.
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year Air National Guard tour of duty; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
John M. McHugh: did not serve.
JC Watts: did not serve.
Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem," although continued in NFL for 8 years.
Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
John Engler: did not serve.
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian armybase.

Pundits & Preachers
Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve.
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
John Wayne: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
Ralph Reed: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.
Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
Ted Nugent: did not serve.

posted by Greymagius @ 3:41 PM

UK And EKU Both Won Sunday, November 13, 2005

My two homes teams won yesterday. UK needed the moral victory. It gave them three wins for the season and with a little confidence they could make a good showing against Tennessee. Tennessee is on the edge for a bowl bid. If either UK or Vandy could get lucky, they would be out of contention. How sweet that could be.

EKU on the other hand is looking pretty good. They're 6-4 overall, 6-1 in the conference and 1 game out of first with a game left. They should do well in the OVC tournament and make be able to get in to AA tournament. We can always hope.

posted by Stithmeister @ 9:40 PM

What Do The Democrats Need To Do?

The Democrats have some big questions in front of them. The main question is how to take control of the agenda. The Republicans are have mostly lost it. The budget is out of control. The war in Iraq is out of control. Corruption is abound in the government and high level members of the administration have either been indicted or are still under investigation.

The problem, as Edie point out in a previous comment, is that even though Republicans are looking lousy in the polls, the Democrats aren't that much better. The percentages are only slightly higher. What do they do to take control of the agenda.

They need to pick the budget and fuel costs. These issues will make the difference. Start talking about how to bring the budget under control and bring fuel costs down so people won't freeze this winter. Make sure gas is affordable too. Right now, the Republicans want to continue to lower taxes. No one wants to give more money to the government but at what cost? There are a lot of pork areas that can be trimmed. The Dems need to take the moral high ground and give up some of these projects, hammer down these costs and see about protecting the social programs. It could work.

I think there's more too it and I can go into those later but The Democrats must offer an appealing and reasonable alternative while working on a few wedge issues. @006 is critical and unless the Dems get it together, the status quo will remain intact.

posted by Stithmeister @ 3:39 PM

Bush's Numbers Ain't So Good Saturday, November 12, 2005

Newsweek just published new poll numbers for the White House and they ain't so good. The president's approval rating continues to drop, his disapproval rating continues to climb and it seems no one is trusting him either, finding him untrustworthy and unethical. The good news is it's still better than VP Dick, who people apparently have come to believe he takes the name to heart.

President George W. Bush is sinking deeper and deeper into political trouble, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. Only 36 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president, and an astounding 68 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country—the highest in Bush’s presidency. But that’s not the worst of it for the 43rd president of the United States, a leader who rode comfortably to reelection just a year ago. Half of all Americans now believe he’s not “honest and ethical.”

Honestly, there is a downside even for progressives and that is a credibility isssue. Our leaders continue to lose credibility at home and abroad. The deal is things like this are only way to truly get these people out of office. They have to screw up so tremendously bad across the board as to force people to ask what the hell they're thinking. It's just ashame it couldn't have happened last year.

posted by Stithmeister @ 4:16 PM

Heeb Magazine and Sarah Silverman

I generally stick to political topics as most people know. Every once and while, I run across something pretty amusing. Today it was Heeb Magazine, the New Jew Review. Sarah Silverman is on the cover in their first ever sex issue.

I've not picked up an issue and for some reason, I don't think Kroger will carry this one in the magazine section. Anyway, the part that caught my attention was the cover (surprise). Silverman has been getting a push recently. She has been doing some work on Comedy Central and she's got a movie coming out soon too called "Jesus is Magic." Her comedy is irreverant to put it mildly because she has absolutely no fear and is willing to say just about anything. It's refreshing to see somone go after the establishment with such vigor. She even got kicked off as a writer from SNL, not that they're terribly cutting edge anymore. They go through periods of glory but it never lasts for long.

I plan to check out the movie if I can although I'd say it will most likely be at the Kentucky around if it shows up in the Lexington area. It might just be funny, if not downright offensive.

posted by Stithmeister @ 3:34 PM

Reality Check On Democratic Fundraising

The Washington Post ran an article that should be a reality check for the Democrats. The Republicans are raising money over Dems roughly 2 to 1. Dean is being criticized for not bringing in the big bucks yet either.

The Democrats are going to have to do two crucial things in the coming months if they want make up some ground in House and Senate. First, will be to cease control of the agenda. The Republicans have lost it because they've got lots of mixed messages floating around out there. The moderates are fighting back, the non evangelical conservatives are also at odds with the evangelicals and the old school are at odds with the Neocons. The problem with this shakedown is the Democrats don't seem to be in a position to take control.

The reality is the moderate view point is generally the best way to go. It's the one most of coutry will agree on most of the time. The Democrats need to be able to hang on to the liberal base while making massive inroads with the moderates. The Republicans don't have them either though. We as Democrats need to give them a clear alternative that's not too far to the left to alienate them. So, what can we do?

I know I'm preaching party here, but I think good ideas can come from any direction. It just seem like the Republicans have done such a good job of trying to get rid of many of the things I believe in, I think it's insane.

posted by Stithmeister @ 12:38 PM

Evangelical Churches OR Classic Political Machine

Rosa Brooks at the L.A. Times wrote a good OP/ED piece discussing why the conservative evangelical churches have become such a force to be reckoned with. In some ways, churches are doing what they are supposed to do: They're helping many people in their day-to-day lives as Brooks points out with things like jobs, daycare, etc. In the mean time, they're getting votes. She compares this to Tammany Hall.

She also say faith is only part of the issue. As Cynicus has often commented, in the old days, before reform, people actually got something tangible for their vote. It may be just $5 and pint of whiskey, but it was something. These churches, while not providing booze, do provide resources, which many people need. She comments the Democrats need to be able to provide similar resources, one way or the other.

She even mentions the 16,000 member Southeast Christian Church in Louisville that provides all these services. Then they advocate certain things in the independent newspaper. The reality is they are helping people who need to meet those needs.

In so doing, the Republicans have shifted the role somewhat away from the government on the surface. Combine this with the president's proposal for faith-based initiative and public funding of those initiative, it would allow the government and religion work together, steal the Democratic issues from them and begin social re-engineering into a much more religious, conservative nation than we already are.

Effective, brilliant, frightening.

posted by Stithmeister @ 10:27 AM

Pat Robertson's Rants...

Mark Nickolas grabbed some Pat Robertson quotes from Skaroffblog and IMDB. They are frightening because I know people who feel similarly about a lot of these things.

Pat Robertson has no real religious qualifications other than being on TV for the last few decades. Realistically, he falls into the same category as Dr. James Dobson. Neither has any religious training per se. No seminary work, no degrees in theology. I tend to suspect they would be a bit more open minded if they were.

The basic problem I have with what he says is that it contradicts what one might here in say Sunday School. The whole purpose of the Christian religion was to celebrate the redemption given by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christos, the only begotten son of God. I thought I was taught that God did this to experience life as a human but also to redeem all sins of man. This was so God wouldn't have to fool with floods any more or destroy cities like Sodom.

Then people like Pat Robertson continue to say, "well, be careful, God might knock you out anyway." I think Pat Robertson needs to worry more about feeding and clothing the poor than he does about Dover, Pennsylvania surviving a meteor because they don't teach intelligent design.

posted by Stithmeister @ 12:44 AM

We All Miss A Veteran Friday, November 11, 2005

Lots of my commentary on here is in the form of rants of some form or another. My good friend Greymagius served and his niece elected to serve her country. I wish her well.

My experience with a veteran was my grandfather, Jesse T. Beard. He was from a small town called Hardinsburg, Ky. He joined the Army Air Corp before WWII started. He served in 8th Air Force, 458th Bomber Group, 752nd Bomber Squadron in a B-24J Liberator. His group was called the Sac Time Kids. The survival rate for this type of service was about 50%. I believe they generally flew about 25 missions, I know he flew at least 35.

In all the years I had with him, he never talked about any of it really. He'd talk about the buddies he knew and stayed close too his entire life. When we lost him back in 2000, a crew member of his, Bobby Giles, drove several hundred miles on a moment's notice. He was both a bombardier and a gunnery sergeant. Gunners also had high casualty rates.

I was thankful he survived. He was great to grow up around. The "Greatest Generation" is starting to thin. Most are in their 80s or older. These are the people who made our country strong, who built it with their bare hands through a depression and war. If anyone knows one of these folks, say hi. Tell them you appreciate them carrying the load for us. Veterans do that. They fought to make sure we survive. As my friend mentioned, there are problems with the war, but the problems are not with the soldiers. They do what many could not or would not do. They are heroes, No question. We need to make sure we respect them, honor them and let them know we support them, even if we don't support the war.

posted by Stithmeister @ 11:17 PM

Remembering those Veterans who came before and those out there today

On this Blog, we often take shots are the Chickenhawks of the Bush Reich. However, we never wish to give the impression that we have anything less than appreciation and admiration for those serving in our armed services.

I served in the US Navy from January 1985 to August 1991. I was in service during the first Gulf War, but never was near the conflict. I am proud to have served, but never came closer to the war than a maintainence stop in Japan. If I had been called to serve in the war zone, I like to think I'd have served well. I do know, that those who served in the Gulf War deserve recognition and our thanks, for their courage. Today, those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and dozens of other hotspots, deserve our continued thanks.

A recent article by a reporter imbedded with several groups in Iraq, showed the truest face of our soldiers. It did not play up patriotism. It did not bring up the fear of Terrorism. It spoke of trying to stop fanatics in Iraq. Outsiders, or inside factions, that set off bombs, killing innocent women and children.

A soldier spoke of candy they had purchased at the PX, to give to the local kids a special treat. It told of how they had contacted their home towns, their friends and neighbors, to send soccer balls, so children could play. They then spoke of a suicide bomber, who set off a bomb, in a crowded street. The bombers goal was to kill one of these soldiers, as he gave these toys and sweets to children. The Soldier died, as well as dozens of children.

We can question the politics and the effectiveness of strategies. We should not question the goodness and courage of our servicemen. The servicemen still buy the candy and keep it in their pockets for the kids. They still toss the soccer balls to the kids on the sides of the roads. A child will scowl or raise a fist in anger as the trucks pass but then as a soccer ball bounces to a stop at their feet, the serviceman is often rewarded with a smile.

Two nights ago I spoke with my mother. It was with fear and pride that I learned that my beloved 19 year old niece had volunteered to go to Iraq. She has just finished MP school in the Air Force. In youthful passion, she has also just married, a fellow serviceman. I will now live in dread each day, as I hear the reports of another life lost, wondering if that life is my niece or her new husband. Fear for her safety, but pride in her courage struggle within me.

I hope everyone is able to let the pride show thru. No matter your political view, remember our servicemen with pride.

This ones for you Nikki...

posted by Greymagius @ 11:43 AM

Consensus with a Republican on France? Oiu!

OK, I’m staunchly Democrat in a lot of ways, but have never been afraid to admit that some Republicans occasional speak sense. McCain springs to mind immediately. I often visit the National Review Online, to keep up with our opposition. The below quoted article caught my eye, because it’s basic idea can be looked at not merely in regards to France, but for Iraq, in fact, for the Muslim world in general. I will not say that ALL Muslims are raging fanatics, wanting to kill all Christians. I will say, that that faction is the one we unfortunately see the most. I suppose it’s rather like the true Christians of America, having the origin ideas of Christianity as a religion of love & Peace, being ‘Hijacked’ by Pat Robertson.
Mr. Jonah Goldberg (The name inspires certain ideas to start with) has written an interesting bit of thought on the current French problems. I’m not a Francophile, by a long stretch, and, like Mr. Goldberg, do see a certain degree in dark humor in this. Like Mr. Goldberg, though, I also believe this is not an issue of ‘Islam’. This is an issue of repressed and disenfranchised minority. It is easy to stick a label of “Muslim Terrorist” on them and leave it at that. The radical Islamic factions would love it. America’s current leadership would love it. In one easy step, they suddenly preempt a small army and America’s leaders can find yet another reason to ignore France’s opinions.
In America, a small but vocal, religious right has claimed to be the voice of a much larger group. They gained power far beyond their actual control. The Islamic radicals would love a similar coup. For the most part, these are unhappy kids. If you start telling them they do this for Islam, many will believe it. They are currently without leadership. If France speaks to them as a disenfranchised French minority, then they will respond as such. Speak to them of change as French citizens and they will respond as such. Speak to them as Islamic Terrorist and expect them to begin Jihad. As much as we like to say we are our own people, Society tells us what we are.

Jonah Goldberg
November 11, 2005, 8:18 a.m.
Trouble in Gaulistan
Les Muslimerables? No. Les Invisibles

I tried. I really did. I wanted to deal dispassionately with l'affaire francaise. I even resolved to refrain, until my Schadenfreude wore off, from commenting on the situation in the country formerly known as "France." (Possible future names include: Paristine, Gaulistan, Frarabia, and the Algerian North Bank.)
Schadenfreude is a German word meaning to take pleasure at the misfortune of others. And much like La Resistance in '40 (and '41, '42, '43, '44 and '45), I just can't shake off the Germans in this case. Since my Schadenfreude seems inextricably linked to the duration of the French intifada, I can't wait any longer. After all, the troubles promise to go on long enough for the French to lobby the International Olympic Committee to add the "Peugeot Burn" to the summer games.
To be fair, which I have not been so far, I don't actually believe the current riots are about Islam. This puts me to the left of a great many conservative Nostradamuses who've prophesized for so long that France's north African and other Muslim "immigrants" are going to bring jihad to the home front. I don't think their predictions are necessarily wrong, I just believe that this is at best a dress rehearsal.
I put "immigrants" in quotation marks for the simple reason that most of the rioters are no such thing — they were born in France and hold French passports. Their parents or grandparents were from former French colonies. But the French establishment — a term I use in the most catholic sense possible, so as to include Katie Couric and her colleagues — has had a very hard time coming up with a useful vocabulary to describe these events. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy came out of the blocks with "scum," but the uncharacteristic lack of nuance didn't go over well in a culture that has always believed there are two sides of the story for every murderer, never mind every window smasher.
We seem to have settled on "youths," which is as correct as "Muslims" and marginally more accurate than "immigrants," but it will hardly do. It's not as if airport screeners are going to keep a keener eye on young, blond Frenchmen named Jacques because a bunch of guys named Abdul and Hamid looted the local brasserie. And then there's the fact that these "youths" show no signs of being particularly pious Muslims. I don't mean to say that a devout Muslim would never break the peace — I think that theory has been sufficiently falsified in recent years so as to be inoperative, no?
Rather, these "youths" appear to be closer to nothing than they do to a specific something — except, of course, rioters. It is in the rioting that these kids get meaning. Rioting is how they appear on the Gallic radar system. They aren't Les Muslimerables so much as Les Invisibles.
The Islamic leadership in France would clearly and dearly love this to be a Muslim riot. They could then stop it and become true Left Bank Arafats, able to fire up a rent-a-mob whenever convenient and thereby shake down the government for one concession after another. That's why the French government is so desperate to prevent the imams from becoming middlemen. If the riots are stopped by Islamic clerics, they will become Islamic riots — even though they didn't start as that. And once the conflict is Islamified, the conservative Nostradamus scenarios kick in and we can all get ready for talk of "two-state solutions," the need to make Paris an "international city," and so forth.
Their being Muslim surely contributes to these kids' invisibility, but French racism and snobbery is more sweeping. Unlike in America, where snobbery, racism and anti-Muslim bigotry can all operate independently of each other, in France they're always linked in a menage a trios. If a resume arrives at the patisserie with the name Hamid on it, it gets trashed without the recipient wondering whether he was unfair to a Muslim, a black, an immigrant or even a French citizen.
But this type of young person is invisible for another reason. The French "social model" which pays wealthy, educated people not to work much — and prevents poor and desperate ones from working at all — simply has no solution for what to do with these surplus Frenchmen. So they get shunted off to the Islamic Bantustans surrounding the capital, where social pathologies fester.
Unfortunately, France is more likely to embrace Velveeta as the national cheese than to fix this system, and that spells long-term disaster for the country. Sarkozy had the right idea calling the rioters scum — not only because rioters tend to be exactly that, but also because calling them much of anything else would have politicized the rioters into "rebels." The long-term problem is that if you treat people like scum long enough, they'll become rebels. And that's when the battle for Gaulistan will truly begin.

posted by Greymagius @ 10:56 AM

Location: Harrodsburg, Kentucky, United States

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