Sunday, April 30, 2006

Great Weekend...

Friday night was the dinner celebrating 30 years since the first women got into West Point. There was a convention of sorts for all the female old grads and the final event was a really nice dinner in the mess hall. The Glee Club sang and, while the organization didn't go so hot (we took over two hours to sing ten minutes of music) we were able to listen to the speaker, who was very good.

I went to Irish Eyes, a really small bar, with my friend Pat and we ate an assload of appetizers and had a beer each. It was nice...blues music, beer (not drunk) and fried food. It was, basically, a great way to end a fairly stressful week.

Saturday morning was Sandhurst, an 8 mile obstacle course of sorts. Each team is made up of ten people and I ran behind our team yelling and whatnot to support them. There were about thirty of us running with the team and it was a beautiful day out. We all got dirty and exhausted, then I showered and went to a dinner for the Lifetime Donors of West Point to represent the Glee Club. They had about a dozen cadets there to represent the clubs which are the greatest recipients of funding, so Glee Club, Model UN, Parachute, Rugby and Debate (and, of course, football). I met all the people who have halls and buildings named after them and there were free drinks. From there, I went to a bar with some friends and ate pizza then back to bed around one.

I woke up Sunday and me, Mike and Kim drove to the city for Dim Sum, which was awesome, then walked from Chinatown to Little Italy where we ate Gellato. The weather was again nice, so we just walked around NYC for a while then drove home where I am currently listening to a bagpipe convention joke.

What an awesome weekend, y'know? Good people, good food, good beer...couldn't really ask for more.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Poor Press...

I'm not one to bash the press in general, but for the first time I can validate that there is simple poor reporting going on. Read this article about West, I was here. There was no "riot" it was cadets yelling for naked man, waiting for him to come out and then getting rowdy and throwing stuff out or happens all the goddamn time (see the video here), it has happened for years, and it will keep happening. The only thing that made this day different was there was a drug inspection that morning and the Officer in Charge over-reacted and called the cops in. So, apparently, the manner in which someone reacts to a situation is now the determining factor in what is and isn't a "riot". Not the definition of a "riot" which includes violence, which ours did not. Hell, the report they cite also said there were "gang-like groups of cadets" which was, in essence, six kids standing in the doorways.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


So the protest went on today, although you wouldn't have known it from the cadet side of the world. The only thing we got was a couple of comments by cadets (my favorite being "If we let them (gays) into the army because they protest, what next? Parapalegics?"

There were a few people who took part...or, at least, tried. A professor in the English department went down to the gate. According to the article on their website, he said, "I think it's a shame that the Academy isn't willing to enter into a constructive dialogue with Soulforce on this issue, 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' is a problematic policy that needs to be addressed."

After some of them got arrested, the MP's closed the gate, which I can understand. However, they also stopped cadets from going to the gate to talk to the protesters. That, to me, seems inappropriate. Keeping protesters off post is one thing, keeping cadets from speaking to whomever we'd like is quite another. I didn't get a chance to go down because I was in class all day, however, I did hear about a few cadets who went out a different gate in civlian clothes in order to speak with them. (luckily I don't have names or who knows, someone in the administration could read this and ask me). Anyway, I'm asking around for people who made it to the gate to see what people said, but in the meantime, here's the article off the protesters website about how things went today.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Mearsheimer and Gays at the Gate...

My friend Faraz, who is also an International Relations Major, pointed me to this journal article written by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Anyone who's studied international relations or global politics will recognize those names as immediately as anyone who watches reality TV will recognize the names Santino or Kelly Clarkson (I don't actually watch reality TV, but I knew enough people who do...and Claire's blog mentioned Santino quite often). Anyway, the journal article was about the "Israel Lobby" and how it has pushed the US so far off the track of genuine national interests it's endangering our state. It's an interesting read that is getting quite a few people angry, but, as Noam Chomsky said the other night,
There is a world of difference between hating a people and hating the policies of a state.
Many people view any criticism of Israel (especially talk of the "Israel Lobby") as being anti-semitic. This piece is unapologetic in where it lays the blame for poor US foreign policy:
U.S. foreign policy shapes events in every corner of the globe. Nowhere is this truer than int he MIddle East, a region of recurring instability and enormous strategic importance. Most recently, the Bush Administration's attempt to transform the region into a community of democracies has helped produce a resilient insurgency in Iraq, a sharp rise in world oil prices, and terrorist bombings in Madrid, London, and Amman. With so much at stake for so many, all countries need to understand the forces that drive U.S. Middle East policy.

...the overall thrust of U.S. policy in teh region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially t othe activities of the "Israel Lobby." Other special interest groups have managed to skew U.S. foreign policy in directions they favored, but no lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical.

Wow...that's some damning stuff...I particularly like the last line of the first paragraph. It should make for good reading when I can sit down and really read it carefully after all my testing and projects are done.

As for the gays at the gate, a group called Soulforce is coming to West Point on Wednesday and Thursday. They've been on a bus to 18 different religious and military schools which have anti-gay policies. They were arrested at BYU, Azuza, Navy and Air they're coming here. I tried to get the academy to hold a forum or discussion for cadets and the protesters. I thought, they're here anyway, why not use it as a learning experience? I don't see what having them arrested does other than give them free press (which I'm sure they want) and the cadets learn nothing at all. If anything, I think that will ratchet up anti-gay rhetoric here. I was, however, shot down. The official response I got was
USMA will certainly not engage soulforce in dialogue nor should they. USMA does not and will not cater to any protest group or give them open time with cadets no matter what their platform...Soulforce is looking for media attention to back their cause.

You are correct that both USNA and USAFA handled the issue incorrectly – by even letting them on their installation. USNA gave them freedom to talk with mids and it went poorly.
Of course, this wasn't from the Commandant or the Superintendant, so don't anyone read this as though it's official school policy, it's just from an officer I had approached about the subject because I work for her in the Respect Program and I wanted her advice.

Anyway, they will be here, and I'm hoping cadets do get to talk to them...or vice versa. It's their last stop and, frankly, I think cadets are old enough, educated enough and informed enough to make our own decisions. Nothing can be hurt by allowing them to talk to us, but much can be gained.

On the other hand, there are "no protesting" laws about military installations, and if we allow them on, why not allow the Reverend Phelps and his "God Hates Fags" church? So, I see her point, if her point is simply that no protesters should be given a forumn here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blue Note...

I went to the Blue Note this weekend. It was awesome...a great Blues Venue. The night had everything I could hope for including rain, Thai food, a sultry singer, dark lounge, drinks, smoke and cloves in the rain. The singer, Karrin Allyson, was the best vocalist I've heard live and really made the night.

I hung out and watched a movie about Patty Hearst with my friend Mike and then Dubois showed up mid movie and I tried to explain to him what he missed. I challenge anyone to try and explain the Patty Hearst scenario to someone after she goes nutso...far more difficult than you'd imagine.

And to round out my random thoughts post for this evening, I read this Bush quote today:
"We've got a real problem when it comes to oil. We're addicted, and it's harmful for the economy, and it's harmful for our national security,"

um...right. And how did we get so dependent upon oil? Was it possibly because we had oil executives write our energy policy?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Noam Chomsky...

Noam came to West Point. I was excited and me and all my friends who consider ourselves intellectuals because we know who Noam is went down to see him. All day I heard cadets talking about him, but not because of who he is or what he's done, but because they thought his name was funny and they were upset that he was going to cut into their off time.

He spoke breifly saying why he didn't like just war theory and then concluded with a condemnation of the war in Iraq. A few cadets asked some lame questions and he left the stage. I shook his hand and asked a question that, while not "good" was at least something I had been wondering about his speech. After that a jewish cadet with what appeared to be tears behind his eyes held up a copy of Alan Dershowitz's "The Case for Israel" and said, "Sir, this is actually where I first heard about you." to which Chomsky replied, "No you didn't. What that book says about me isn't real, it's a farce of what I've actually said." He then went on to berate the book and offer the cadet some words of advice and explain the distinction between hating a state's policies and hating a state.

I wanted to hear more, but by this point, Chomsky was surrounded by a group of civilians who had popped out of nowhere. There was a skinny indian middle aged man, a soccer mom with a tacky green eyeglass holder holding her sunglasses around her neck, my arabic teacher in one of his Joseph Aboud suits and speaking far too loudly, two civilian college students with long hair and ironic looks on thier faces and one really short lady with stringy hair...all of whom were asking overly intellectual questions and looking as though they were talking to him not because they were lucky to be near him but because they thought they somehow had earned to speak to him because they'd read enough of his books.

I didn't get a picture with him, so you'll just have to trust me.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

In With Crazies?

So, first McCain threw his towel in with the crazies and now I read Giuliani is too. I was talking to my Republican friend about this phenomenon and he defended it saying it's the only way to win the Republican nomination. How sad is that...the only way to win the Republican nomination is to align with people who hate. Awesome. What does their party stand for other than anti-abortion and anti-gay then if those are just election tactics? It's not small government, it's not lower spending, so what the hell do they stand for? 'stay the course'? Is that a platform? And honestly, why in the hell would you campaign for Santorum? That's just silly, the man is like the Titanic half sunk and Giuliani thinks clinging to him will help him gain credability? Nuts.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow...

I was thinking about that song today and all the memories it brought back. Believe it or not, the first time I can remember hearing it was Clinton's inaugural. I believe it was his theme song, and I can't remember if it was for his first or second election, but I can remember the feeling I had listening to it and watching him. I remember hearing him speak and the jubilation that seemed to permeate the whole affair. It seemed so...hopeful. People, at least it seemed to me being a naive junior high student (unless it was the re-election, in which case it was senior year), were looking forward to the future. The words seemed so fitting for the mood. I can't remember ever hearing anyone say, "all politicians do that..." or anything similar.

I wasn't yet a Democrat, nor was I anti-Republican...I was floating along on the wave of political euphoria around me. I wish I could say I was more informed for the Bush Gore election, but I don't think I was. It was while I was in basic. I had to get special permission to vote because I had to call home for some information and stay up late to do it...and I voted for Bush. I thought he was genuine when he spoke of "compassionate conservatives". I was wrong.

I haven't felt that innocent and forward looking euphoria in a long time when it comes to the state of the nation. I've felt fear and anger...betrayal and disgust. I've been disillusioned and downtrodden, but I don't think hopeful is one of the words I would use to describe it.

It seems like the news continues to get worse and worse, but the reaction seems to be more and more indifference. Scandal after scandal breaks and there are so many now, most people don't even pay attention. Have you heard anything about the New Hampshire phone jamming (which could have cost the Democrats a Senate seat)? Or DeLay's redistricting so gerrymandered it's doubtful there will be a true balance to politics again until there is a massive shift in American politics?

In talking to my uber-Conservative friend last night, he admits, sure, the war might be wrong, sure, he wouldn't vote for Bush again, sure, Rumsfeld isn't doing a good job, no, we shouldn't attack Iran and yes, the Republicans are corrupt...but so what? That's the attitude now, resignation.

I guess my point is, after listening to Gore's speech I posted earlier, particularly when he closed the speech with,
I mentioned that along with cause of concern, there is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than ever.
and thinking about the lyrics to the song, I'm slowly regaining hope. We can't give up, and we can't give in. We may have lost to the Republicans, but if we lose to apathy, we're defeated. So...for those of you so inclined, keep your heads up and keep looking toward the future. November is only a few months away and what we have to offer is greater than fear and greater than hate. We offer freedom, justice,, health care and security, a global society based upon intercooperation not war, a party free from the corrupt practices and dirty politics so prevalent today, a judicial philosophy that puts the liberty first...

"Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us." Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I know Alex and Pat both know far more about the environment than I do considering all I've done is read one book and take a semester and a half of "environmental technologies" so they might have more insight than I. This movie, however, looks awesome...and no, it's not because of who made it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I Like Ike...

I realize I'm almost "live blogging" a recorded speech, but this is another Ike quote I like. He's quickly becoming one of my favorite Presidents...

"It is an ancient truth that freedom cannot be legislated into existence, so it is no less obvious that freedom cannot be censored into existence. And any who act as if freedom’s defenses are found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."

I can't help but feel sometimes that we, as citizens, are frogs sitting in a slowly boiling pot. I talk to friends and I point out that the President has broken the law, that his Vice President authorized the outing of a CIA agent, that the Sec. of Defense has encouraged torture, that the Attorney General authorizes torture and called the Geneva Conventions "quaint", that Justice Scalia's son's law firm argued Bush V. Gore which made Bush President and didn't recuse himself...and yet...nothing. No anger, no worry, no demand for action. Instead, what I normally hear is something similar to "well, all politicans are corrupt."

Yes, the water temperature is rising...and we're complacent. Slowly, we're allowing the level of corruption and dishonesty to rise to a level that will, unchecked, ruin the democracy and fundamental nature of our Country. Unless we do something, unless my generation acts, we will not only squander the freedom that the "Greatest Generation" won, but we will pass nothing on to our children but a government that exists not to serve the people, but to be served by them.

Why Gore?

Someone (Mike...Mike Y. since I know too many of you crazy Mikes) asked me "why Gore?" To that, I say watch this video. He's eloquent, passionate, logical...he is intelligent, understands government, believes in a government subservient to the people and yes, he's angry. He's everything I think the country and politics needs today.

In case you read this before the video is up, it's from this link to the American Constitution Society, the antithesis of the Federalist Society. It's a video of this speech Gore gave along with the it, watch it or listen to's passionate, involving and neccessary. It gives me hope we can save the country from the direction it is currently taking and makes me wish he'd say today that he'd run for President...and win AGAIN.


I remember growing up my mom would sometimes hide our Easter baskets. She would leave a trail of eggs from our room to the basket, or leave a note that would give us a clue to where our baskets were. We always woke up insanely early, just like on Christmas, and we'd run to our parents room (if there was no trail to follow) and jump in bed to wake them up. We actually did this the entire time I lived at home, not just as kids...something about the tradition stuck.

I remember being a kid and we'd have to take our baskets to church with us where we'd put them under our folding chairs. Mass would be said in the Hall because it fit more people and all I could think about was getting into my basket. At the end of Mass, Father Joe would bless our baskets and then there would be doughnuts. The other kids I went to school with would be there and all of us would have our baskets and our nice clothes on. I vaguely remember playing by the fountain and eating the candy.

This year, I woke up and listened to Mozart's Requiem, which is quite possibly my favorite piece of music. I opened the windows because it's beautiful outside and then I began to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Memories of my Melancholy Whores". In a couple of hours, I'm going to Colonel Zupan's house for a "philosophical dinner" with the jews and athiests of West Point. I don't go to church alone's less comforting than it is dissapointing. I can't sit through Mass without wanting my mom's arm around me or my Dad's hand on my neck. I want to give the kiss of peace to my sisters and listen to my old folk instead, I have music, literature and athiests. Happy Easter everyone.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I know I've posted these before, but I am going to post them's time.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.

When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It suddenly feels good to live in Ike Barracks.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

More liberal propoganda. The Commi-rag "Field and Stream" bashes the President on his energy policy:
Rod and gun in hand, and backing the Second Amendment right to own firearms, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have won the hearts of America’s sportsmen. Yet the two men have failed to protect outdoor sports on the nation’s public lands. With deep ties to the oil and gas industry, Bush and Cheney have unleashed a national energy plan that has begun to destroy hunting and fishing on millions of federal acres throughout the West, setting back effective wildlife management for decades to come.

OK, Ok...I'll stop...but you have to admit watching the slow descent is just funny now.


I just read this about Scalia's visit to Connecticut today:
Inside the lecture hall, students whose names were drawn randomly from a lottery to attend said that having a chance to hear a sitting justice in person was a thrill. "Having a justice visit your campus is exciting no matter what you think about his views," said third-year student Hugo Tomasia of Norwalk, Connecticut.

I can't help but think we're spoiled here. We've had O'Connor and Scalia come...not only that, but both were open forums with questions and answers and neither could fill the auditoriums they'd been assigned (OK, that was a lie...O'Connor's was standing room only...but I didn't want to make Scalia feel bad if he reads this). Anyway, maybe it's because last night was Passover...I mean, maybe if all the jews had been there, we'd have filled the Scalia lecture.

Then again, maybe they knew all he'd do was wave the flag of "originalism" and walk off gruffly and felt their time was better spent watching the American Idol episode they'd recorded.


Remember the days when Clinton was president? Remember when, the months before I joined the army, before the USS Cole bombing, before contested presidential elections, before preemptive war, when my mom asked what I would do if the army got into a war I disagreed with and I condescendingly patted her on the head and said, "Mom, what are the odds of that happening? Honestly, I don't think that will ever be the case..."

Doesn't it all just seem like a happy memory? When the worst thing the president did (and let's keep in mind it got him impeached) was lie about getting a blow job? I just read this in Slate today:
Zinni, Eaton, and Newbold are explicitly trying to supplant the lesson of Shinseki with an earlier lesson—one that was propagated throughout the U.S. armed forces in the late 1990s but laid aside once the war in Iraq got under way. It came from a book called Dereliction of Duty, by H.R. McMaster, then an Army major, now a colonel. Based on extensive research into declassified files, the book concluded that during the 1960s, the Joint Chiefs of Staff betrayed their constitutional duties by failing to provide their honest military judgment to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as they plunged into the quagmire of Vietnam. When McMaster's book was published in 1997, during the Clinton administration, Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the JCS chairman, ordered all his service chiefs and commanders to read it and follow its lessons to the letter—to express disagreements to their superiors, even at the risk of getting yelled at. William Cohen, Clinton's secretary of defense, echoed the sentiment. Ever since, Dereliction of Duty has been a must-read for all senior officers.

Newbold is the General (R) that I quoted in my post a while back, the General who is now speaking out against the war. I guess I'm just thinking about how great the Clinton years were, and, like childhood, I didn't realize how golden those years were until they were gone.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Justice Scalia spoke at West Point tonight. I always thought that the whole originalist v. "living consitution" argument was something they were kind of sly about...I was wrong. He railed against anyone who would think otherwise. I wish I had a microphone. At one point, he said, "Abortion, homosexuality, assisted suicide...those are just the bottom of the slipperly slope of the living constitution." I guess what I ask is, if he's already considered these things are not constitutionally protected, as he said tonight, how exactly can he impartially judge any of the issues that relate to them?

I only wish I had this quote from his Ayotte decision to ask him about, considering his adamant belief a law can only mean what was intended when it was written. It's not suprising he wrote this when he was trying to strike down an assisted suicide law:
"We have repeatedly observed that Congress often passes statutes that sweep more broadly than the main problem they were designed to address."

So...apparently, a law must be interpreted in it's original meaning, unless he wants it to mean more?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Crazy Liberals...

We all know that it's only crazy liberals who speak out against this administration and the "war on terror" in Iraq (and thus, help the terrorists and personally hurt our troops), so I'm always amazed when I still find more liberals speaking out against what's going on. I've compiled a list of some of the most recent crazy liberals for those of you who don't have the time to find them yourself:
First, Military-hating liberal Lt. General Gregory Newbold (retired) who said this:
In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture--who became career members of the military during those rough times--the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again.

With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.

I will admit my own prejudice: my deep affection and respect are for those who volunteer to serve our nation and therefore shoulder, in those thin ranks, the nation's most sacred obligation of citizenship. To those of you who don't know, our country has never been served by a more competent and professional military. For that reason, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.

I think we can all agree he's a liberal nutcase. So who else is speaking out? Which other "America Haters?"

How about this guy, Newt Gingrich:
"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003. We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."

obviously, Newt Gingrich hates America...probably God too...and it goes without saying that Powell would jump on the anti-America bandwagon...doesn't he have drinks with Jane Fonda now? Well, what does he have to say?
"We made some serious mistakes in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, we didn't have enough troops on the ground. We, didn't impose our will. And as a result, an insurgency got started, and ... it got out of control."

OK, enough of my joking...but seriously. This shit is spiraling out of control and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. In fact, there is talk about "tac nukes" in Iran? WTF? You screw up one country bad enough you start talking about nuking another country...that's more chaotic? Good call...I'm so pissed about this shit right now it's not even funny.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Great Picture of a Great Night...

I will post more pictures later, but for now, this picture of my friends after a night of good wine and better beer will have to suffice. More politics and personal ranting to come later...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Coach Dixon...

Please read this article about Coach Dixon. She will be remembered by everyone at the Academy while she was here with us. "Maggie has been a credit to herself and to the mission of the U.S. Military Academy. Her presence here enriched the lives of everyone. I will never forget the image of the cadets carrying her on their shoulders as they celebrated the team's Patriot League championship. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and we will be forever grateful for all she has given us, both on the playing field and off."~Lieutenant General William J. Lennox Jr.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

God Article...

I just read an article entitled God and Founders. It is decently written although it gives little to no mention of the advancements and contributions athiests and freethinkers have made to society. I don't have a whole lot of time to type right now, but to give a history of the conflict over religion in America while not even mentioning thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Lucretia Mott or Elizabeth Cady Stanton while giving to religion a primary role in the abolition, womens rights and the civil rights movement (while mentioning in one line that religion also played a role in keeping those going) is to tell only half a history. (man that was a long sentence). Those people, all avowed athiests, had just as much influence as any of the other people mentioned, but quite often their contributions are ignored because of their religious beliefs.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Boy Scouts...

As Alex and Le Patrique know, I've got beef with the boyscouts. Well, apparently Penn and Teller do to. They had a show about the boyscouts that is online here. Sure, there is some anti-mormon bigotry, and sure, there's some poor legal argumentation...and a lot of the "f" word...and boobs...but still...they make a lot of points I agree with. They didn't mention, however, that you can get promoted in the army for being in the boyscouts...a private religious organization that is chartered by the US govt.

And, since I can't go a day without a McCain post. Here's what Buckley had to say about the fellow today (keep in mind, WFBuckley is the man Reagan and Bush pointed to as the "father" of modern conservativism):
``I don't think that his name comes to mind automatically as somebody who over a period of years has addressed problems with fruitful thinking, let alone with consistent thinking.''

Sunday, April 02, 2006

More McCain?

Only kind of. I've had an ongoing discussion (obsession?) about McCain with another cadet who thinks, like him or not, McCain has a chance of winning the next election. Here is why I think otherwise (although my logic may be convoluted to follow):
  • McCain's base is the moderate-to-liberal Republican. He is the "un-politician" which is why those of us near the center (yes, believe it or not, I'm fairly near the center) like him. Because he's near the center, and he's a true conservative, he can't win the theo-cons.
  • He can't win the Republican nomination without the religious, to get the nomination, he will (as he's already shown) pander to the religious vote.
  • Doing so, he will lose the moderate and center.
  • The far right conservatives (of the true, not religious, meaning) don't like him. He wont cut taxes, he's against Frist's immigration policy and he is, simply, too normal.

Anyway, none of that matters cause it's years off...but for now, I'm enjoying watching the Hindenburg that is the Bush Administration. Here are some quotes from conservatives...yes, conservatives, about Bush recently:

Professor Bainbridge:

It's time for us conservatives to face facts. George W. Bush has pissed away the conservative moment by pursuing a war of choice via policies that border on the criminally incompetent. ... What really annoys me, however, are the domestic implications of all this. The conservative agenda has advanced hardly at all since the Iraq War began. Worse yet, the growing unpopularity of the war threatens to undo all the electoral gains we conservatives have achieved in this decade.

William F. Buckly Jr.:

The neoconservative hubris, which sort of assigns to America some kind of geo-strategic responsibility for maximizing democracy, overstretches the resources of a free country

An article from the American Conservative magazine:

Failure Is an Option:"Staying the course" in Iraq is a losing strategy

The administration implicitly knows that Iraq is not going well, and it is trying to shape the inevitable postwar debate about who lost Iraq - laying the groundwork for its own version of the Dolchstoss, the post-World War I myth fabricated by German nationalist extremists that the German army was not defeated in World War I but rather was stabbed in the back by treasonous elements at home. Already administration officials are implying that those who question the wisdom of its strategy are undermining the morale of the troops. The clear implication is that open debate about the Iraq War is unpatriotic. When things end badly in Iraq, the White House will claim that the U.S. could have won but its policy was undermined by domestic critics.

Bruce Bartlett:

George W. Bush is not one of them [a conservative] and never has been." On the choice of Harriet Meiers, "the choice of a patently unqualified crony for a critical position on the Supreme Court was the final straw”.

Oh My...

In the 2000 elections, I had a McCain placard I ordered to put in the front yard. My mom wouldn't let me because she's a democrat, but I liked the guy. He seemed moderate, principled and I was upset about the beating he took in the South. I liked that he stood up against Bob Jones University in particular their no interracial dating policies. He has always been talked about as a bastion of principles over politics...

So, what the hell is happening? I want to ask "why" is he lurging right, but I know "why" and it's sad. Watching him try and woo the religious right and the people he not so long ago denied as being against his Republican values is like watching an old diva get face lifts to try and remain young. (Yes, I know it's a poor analogy, but still, an old lady with too many face lifts should make you laugh, in the same way McCain trying to be a right winger should make you's the irony.) Here is a video of him trying to justify his speaking at Liberty University: (the video's not working yet, so here's a link to the same video.)

Here are some quotes from Falwell...just so you know exactly who he's pandering to:
“(re: 9/11 attacks) "...throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen."”

“If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being”

“AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”

"Textbooks are soviet propoganda."

Bad Enough...

It's bad enough the Democrats can't rally behind the proposal to cesure President Bush for willfully breaking the law in allowing wire taps, but this quote from Senator Coryn of Texas really sums up the whole argument against it I think:
Mr. Cornyn argued that the censure proposal could send a "perverse and false message" of presidential weakness to terrorists around the world and thus "make the jobs of our soldiers and diplomats harder and place them at greater risk."

It's true. I think we can all agree that if you tell the President he's in trouble for breaking the law, you are going to kill soldiers and help terrorists. In fact, you might as well just cut a check for Al Qaeda and then go to Walter Reed Medical Hospital and shoot a wounded vet in the know, save some time and cut out the middle man.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

International Law...

I found some transcripts from a conversation sponsored by the American Society of International Law. In attedence were Condoleeza Rice, Sandra Day O'Connor, Judge Rosalyn Higgins and ASIL President-Elect Jose Alvarez. They discuss international law, the war on terror and some other issues. If you're like me, you're probably getting all itchy in the pants to know what was said and by whom...but odds are, you're not like and and you're instead thinking "wow...boring." Anyway, I'll dilute it down to some of my favorite quotes for you:

First, Secretary Rice said:
It is our very strong view that we are in a new kind of conflict, a new kind of war in which the conventions do not easily apply and in which, in fact, we have to be careful not to stretch the Geneva Conventions to cover people who should, in fact, not be covered by them. And so terrorists who, of course, do not fight according to the laws of war -- and I don't mean just not wearing uniforms, I don't mean just not carrying weapons openly, I mean where the entire purpose is the wanton killing of innocents -- I think that we have to be very careful about stretching the Geneva Conventions to cover people who are neither party to the convention nor really could ever be party to the convention.

Which was followed by this response from Judge Higgins:
Then you come to a variety of other specifics. The first point I'd make is I do believe it's quite clear that having the benefit of the Geneva Conventions has never depended upon the actor himself or itself complying with those rules, going beyond, as the Secretary put it, harming others through collateral damage but quite deliberately harming innocents. That has never been a ground and was deliberately never meant to be a ground for the Geneva Conventions not applying. That allows one not, first of all, to have to decide who is behaving correctly in order for them to be applicable and that is in the common good.

This next part is a long quote, but it's neccessary to read as a whole. Basically, Judge Higgins said that there is confussion throughout the world about what is and isn't legal, and that is in no small part due to the fact that we have created confussion. When the Attorney General himself refuses to rule out waterboarding and mock executions...what is torture? Here was Secretary Rice's response:

But there are a couple things on which there are not dilemmas. The United States is going to live up to its obligations under the Convention Against Torture. The President has been very clear about that. The United States is going to live up to its own laws which relate to those issues. About that there is no confusion.

And the United States has a case before the Supreme Court about the military commissions so I'll not speak further about that. But the military commissions were designed, and the design overseen by a panel of distinguished people who were brought in to look at them from the outside, in order to try to balance the requirements of protecting information that might still be relevant to stopping the next terrorist attack and trying to give people a process that was defensible in terms of due process.

So if there is confusion, I want to be just very clear that I don't think there should be confusion on those issues.

OK, good...glad she cleared that up. Just to re-cap, to rebut the argument that our policies have created confussion, is no confussion. OK? Whew...glad that was settled. It's kind of like a really high ranking person saying, "not-uh"

Here is another money quote from Secretary Rice:
The United States went to war against Iraq with a number of other states because Iraq had been deemed a threat to international peace and security. Let's be very clear about the grounds for war against Iraq. It was actually not to bring democracy to Iraq. The Chapter 7 resolutions which had been passed against Iraq since 1991 had constituted Iraq a threat to international peace and security. That was the basis on which we went to war.

So...we didn't go to war to bring Democracy to Iraq. So when we say we will "stay the course" what course is that exactly, and when did we get on said course?

Now, if you follow law, you'll know that people like Frist and other wignuts in the Senate have been ballyhooing (is that a word?) about the Supreme Court and it's decisions. Basically they don't like the way some of the judges think (yes, that's a simplification, but I'm pretty sure the overall argument can be summed up as such). Particularly after last years decision that executing minors was un-Constitutional. The majority opinion cited foreign law as a basis of comparrisson...not as a means to interpret our own Constitution. Anyhow, the mere citing of a foreign court drove the wingnuts into a frenzy. O'Connor and Alvarez were asked about that to which they replied:
This is a frequently discussed subject of late and I cannot think of an instance when the United States Supreme Court has cited a foreign judgment as binding authority for any interpretation of our Constitution. That hasn't happened. But a number of the Justices on our court have referred to judgments of other nations or the Court of Human Rights or something of that sort, by way of illustration of how other courts have perceived or handled certain problems, just as judges will sometimes cite a law review article or a textbook writer or some other source of interesting comparative information.

and Alvarez:
Yes. I think that the debate is a little misleading in that we use foreign law, or at least that's how Congress puts its, but we use, say, international law, which is the subject of our society, in different ways for different purposes. With respect to a domestic statute, we have the Charming Betsy presumption, which is a canon of interpretation that basically says you presume that what Congress did is consistent with international law and you try to interpret the law to be consistent with international law.

Now, with respect to using international law for purposes of constitutional interpretation, that's where some of the controversy lies. I agree with Justice O'Connor that I do not see -- I mean, the Supreme Court wrote or any of the recent cases a reliance by the court on international law to interpret a provision of the U.S. Constitution. For that reason, I totally agree with her that these moves in Congress that would suggest that you should impeach a judge for using foreign law are deeply, deeply misguided especially because I think they don't even understand necessarily the difference between foreign law and international law.

There was some talk by Rice about democratic institutions in Russia which prompted this snide comment by Alvarez that got me "rolling on the floor laughing my ass off" (or, roflmao, for those of you who speak IM):
I would just like to say I'm delighted to hear the Secretary praise a system of checks and balances and unreviewable authority because at least some members of this society have been quite concerned about that much closer to home.

OK, sorry for the amazingly long post. I'm waiting for some friends before I can go out and I don't want to change to eat breakfast yet. Hmmm...if you read this whole thing, leave a comment...I'm interested to see who all read it.