Friday, April 29, 2005

Gone, gone, gone

It's graduation time for me, so I will be gone for a few days. Rest assured, though, the absence is for both my betterment and the betterment of society. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Filibuster fun

Okay, quick roundup on recent filibuster stories. Reid offers compromise to Frist over "nuclear option," Frist rejects compromise, Republicans keep trying to call it "constitutional" or "democratic" option, Republicans hypocrites on this, having filibustered Abe Fortas, Richard Paez, et al.

I won't waste time by stating the obvious here about Frist and his situation. However, this is typical GOP strategy: tell an obvious lie (or ten) because people usually forget the past and the media refuses to call bullshit on these things. Furthermore, the GOP does a great job of continuing to perpetuate the myth of a liberal media, meaning the media will continue to move to the right to try and shake an image that will never cease to exist. Quite simply, the entire media could become the PR firm for the RNC, and they would still get slapped with the "liberal" tag.

Secondly, those who disagree with this sort of move on the GOP side have either been co-opted or are risking their party's support by doing the right thing. For instance, Bob Dole, a traditionalist who didn't try to pull this sort of stunt when he was Majority Leader, is now saying if Frist absolutely has to push the nuclear button, he should do it. Dole, of course, has his wife in the Senate now, and he has to cover her ass on this, since she isn't one of those on the fence.

Third, no Republican has had the courage to speak out against the wingnuts. Democrat Ken Salazar has called bullshit on James Dobson and his Focus on the (dysfunctional) Family, but no Republican in Congress has shown that level of courage. I'm happy to see John Danforth do it, because he's a minister and a respected conservative, but he has nothing to lose. Someone with something to lose needs to show that courage, because that could help tip the scales even further in a progressive direction, one that prevents theocratic wingnuts from running our nation into the ground.

This is all coming to a head. Frist might twist arms until they break, but John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and John Warner are pretty much immune to pressure, since they will win election in their states no matter what. Lincoln Chafee, facing a stiff challenge in Democratic Rhode Island, would be better off voting for keeping the filibuster in place. If Dick Cheney casts the tie-breaking vote, the country will go berzerk, and most people will scream that the Administration wrongly inserted itself into this change of rules.

While Cheney has the right to break a tie in votes, a change in Senate rules requires a two-thirds majority, meaning that this whole exercise is illegal. Even Harry Reid hasn't said anything about that, probably because the people can't concieve of an inter-Congressional dispute as involving something illegal. However, that's exactly what this is, completely illegal and unconstitutional. That is the biggest sin committed by the media, failing to call bullshit on the biggest bullshit of them all.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

An update on me

Well, my injuries became enough that I had to visit the emergency room. It was a mix of good and bad news. The bad news: I needed a tetanus shot, I was scraped worse than I'd thought, and I've badly sprained my wrist and elbow. The good news: that's all it was. No internal bleeding, no concussion (I didn't even hit my head when I fell), no life-altering or threatening injuries. Thank the Lord (and I've done a lot of that today).

So, I'll make it to my final, and make it to graduation, but man, my arm hurts right now. With that, it's bedtime.

Monday, April 25, 2005


My posting may be rather slowed over the next few days/weeks. Between a final tomorrow, graduation next Sunday, and the fact I fell off the roof yesterday, things are rather problematic.

And for those of you wondering about my health, well, I landed partially on grass, partially on concrete, I have two giant scrapes from waist to armpit, and my left arm has suffering some sort of injury which I believe is either a bone bruise or a ligament tear, but since I'm one of the uninsured for health in this country, I can ill afford to see a doctor. Thankfully, I am working very little over the next nine days, and amazingly, I can type without pain. It's just holding anything or moving the arm in certain directions that kill it.

Here comes the aspirin and ice treatments....

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Is TSA doomed?

It's quite worrisome to read an article like this. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has been taking budget cuts and Congress, especially the House GOP caucus, has been trying to move it to an oversight authority over private screeners.

Let's think about this....

Some more....

Just a little longer....

Alright, stop thinking about it now.

This is the same bullshit that got us in trouble in the first place. Private screeners failed miserably on 9/11. Considering that Russian airliners have been blown up in the past year, isn't it a safe assumption that skyjackings are still a terrorist's wet dream? Do we really want to return to the failed system of before 9/11?
The sad thing is that the media has virtually ignored this. Hell, I haven't even seen it on anyone's blog. The story I linked to is an inside-the-paper Outlook story from the Washington Post. I would think that the media would be up in arms about this, let alone the public. I'm deeply disappointed in the House that they want to continue to cut funding to a vital agency, one that made all of its safety deadlines on time. These people are some of the unsung heroes that have helped keep us safe.
I know this personally, you see. I went to the airport a couple of months ago straight from work to take a plane to see my fiancé. I had accidently left a box cutter (yeah, dumb, I know) in my rear pants pocket. It was wedged in pretty good, but they kept searching until I reached in and found the thing. Despite my profuse apologies, they pulled me aside, searched me more thoroughly, ran me through the FCIC, got a supervisor, everything. They pulled my checked bag and searched it, too (I am sore about that, though, cause they lost my favorite shirt).
The point is, they did a job that did NOT ever happen before 9/11. I'm a frequent flier, and I know the difference in security. That is the work of TSA and all the men and women who work hard at their job. If we let that agency lose more funding and/or become a air version of OSHA, then we will have failed once again at learning the important lessons. Iraq might be the alleged "frontline in the war on terror" but twice as many Americans died four years ago than have died in the entire course of the war.
I would strongly urge Congress to reinstate all funding for TSA and make sure it is a strong, well-funded agency. This has to be one of our priorities, so that it isn't the Sears Tower or the RenCen here in Detroit that becomes the next WTC, or so airliners aren't blown out of the sky.

Broder and Will

Today's Washington Post contained two interesting columns, one by George Will and one by David Broder. Will's column was, well, a mess, to say the least. He listed off a lot of statistics and I think he had a point he was trying to get at, but I sure couldn't figure out what it was. I guess he was trying to signal the impending death of old media, which would, in turn, signal his end, but that's as best as I can guess.
Broder, meanwhile, says Democrats should enter into an agreement over the filibuster, dropping it for this current crop of judges in favor of a promise from the President to drop any more recess appointments and the Republicans to guarantee a week of debate on each candidate. Broder claims that the moderate center is where the power lies in the Senate, a conclusion I absolutely disagree with.
If the power were in the middle, you wouldn't have seen Arlen Specter, a centrist, back down right after the election after he spoke of not allowing extremists to the floor. Specter was pummeled badly, and gave in. That would point to the power not being in the center, because if it were, Specter wouldn't have gotten his tuckus kicked.
Secondly, I bring you to Bill Frist's appearance today on "Justice (for conservative Christians) Sunday." If the center held the power, Frist wouldn't have made that appearance. Even if Democrats offered the Broder plan, there is no guarantee that A: Frist wouldn't try to drop his nuclear option on them (and this is a GOP term), and B: that Frist and/or Bush would go back on their word. They don't have to keep their word. They hold all the power in government right now, and since this President has shown an amazing inability to keep his word.
Broder has it wrong. The centrist GOP members have their hands tied. Some of them, like Chafee, are dependent on his caucus to help him raise money in his overwhelmingly blue state. If they are to survive, they have to go for what the crazy right wants, and that includes these judges.
I think people see the issue the way it's framed for them. If Democrats are successful in the framing, then it's the GOP who will suffer. The government shutdown was blamed on Gingrich because Clinton framed it better. If the GOP does all the framing on this one, and Democrats don't get a fair chance to explain their positions, then, yes, the Democrats will be blamed.
So, who will win the framing game? So far this year, it's Democrats. Social Security changes are failing, the Schiavo thing was a mess, DeLay is in trouble, and Bush's approval ratings have dropped drastically. What Democrats need to do to sustain it is dredge up all the old quotes by these leaders when it comes to judges, when it comes to filibusters, and for Bush, when it comes to Social Security. They've given probably three different positions already. The people at DailyKos have already found many.
I wish the center held the true power, I really do. In most ways, I am a centrist. I don't agree with everyone on the left or on the right. I'm a defense hawk, but I believe in responsibility. I'm pro-choice, but there should be some sensible limits on it (for instance, partial-birth abortion should be a medical decision for health reasons, not a mom who's tired of being pregnant). I believe if churches don't want to sanction gay marraige, that is their choice, but a secular government should not bar it on religious grounds. I believe bipartisanship is important, and people are so afraid of party leaders that may or may not be extremists that they don't think independently, or work with those on the other side enough. I believe in an independent judiciary, one who makes decisions based on the law, not on personal beliefs. I believe a so-called "divided government" is one that usually rules best, because one side having all the power is dangerous, and this way, compromise can be obtained.
We don't have a strong center, and we don't have compromise in today's government. David Broder, you fail to see that the extremists have power, and they are clubbing the center to death with it.