March 29, 2006
So Virginia and North Carolina legislators have proposed a $5.00 toll on I-95 at the VA/NC border, to be paid while traveling in either direction. Not surprisingly, this news has kind of slid under the radar until recently. It's probably been stuck in the middle of Governor Kaine's new enormous tax hike road development program. Anyway, let me be one of the first in the blogosphere to give Tim Kaine and the state legistlature the finger.
To see what would make a politician propose such a batshit crazy idea, you first have to understand what goes on in his/her mind. Let's take a trip, shall we? ::CREEAAAKKKKK:: Come on in.(apologies to Robin Williams)
Politician's brain, right side(RS): I'm generating more revenue for needed government programs. All voters will love me!
Politician's brain, left side(LS): You fool! You're stealing more money from the taxpayers, making it harder for them to pay for necessities. You see them only as cash cows from whose teats you continually suck. They'll hate you!
RS: But taxpayers will see how much I'm benefitting from these expenditures. They'll be glad to pay when they see how happy I am when I get re-elected.
LS: Don't you understand? People see their taxes go up during good times because, hey, we all have extra. And then they see their taxes go up during bad times because, hey, we all have to pull together. Taxpayers might be sheep, but eventually they catch onto the idea that you're simply buying votes for yourself instead of looking out for them.
RS: But the only reason people have to exist is as a source of revenue for the government, right?
LS: Screw this. I wonder if I can get a job in the brain of someone more sane, like perhaps a psychotic. I am sooo out of here ::SLAM::
March 22, 2006
In any event, I'd like to make my one and only foray into the legality, or lack thereof, of the federal wiretapping programm. Jeff Goldstein has performed a yeoman's effort in wading through the issues and there is no way that I could possibly improve upon his thoughtful posts. Not that his posts changed anyone's minds, of course. The responses ranged from "Bush obviously broke the law" to "Bush obviously didn't break the law". I'm not a lawyer, but I thought that Jeff provided a pretty compelling argument that Bush had good reason to believe that he was on firm legal footing. Well, Byron York, via Betsy's Page, delivers what I believe is a knockout punch. Then again, I don't suffer from BSD and am therefore fully capable of digesting facts, and then using those facts to help form my opinion. Excerpt:
And then the Court of Review did one more thing, something that has repercussions in today's surveillance controversy. Not only could the FISA Court not tell the president how do to his work, the Court of Review said, but the president also had the "inherent authority" under the Constitution to conduct needed surveillance without obtaining any warrant from the FISA Court or anyone else. Referring to an earlier case, known as Truong, which dealt with surveillance before FISA was passed, the Court of Review wrote: "The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. . . . We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."
It was a clear and sweeping statement of executive authority. And what was most likely not known to the Court of Review at the time was that the administration had, in 2002, started a program in which it did exactly what the Court of Review said it had the power to do: order the surveillance of some international communications without a warrant.
Read today, In re: Sealed Case does more than simply outline the president's authority. It also puts the administration's warrantless-surveillance decision in some context. What was going on at the time the president made the decision to go ahead with the surveillance? Well, first Congress passed the Patriot Act, giving the administration new powers. Then the FISA Court refused to recognize those powers and attempted to impose outdated restrictions on the administration. Then the White House, faced with the FISA Court's opposition and with what administration officials believed were some inherent weaknesses in the FISA law began to bypass the FISA Court in some cases. And then, in In re: Sealed Case, the administration received irrefutable legal support for its actions.
So legal precedent exists which agrees that the President had the authority to perform warrantless wiretaps. Now I sympathize with the purist civil liberatarians that, legal or no, there is something a bit troubling about the whole activity. However, my rejoinder is that (a), the President needed to take steps to prevent another attack on US soil and (b), he had plenty of evidence that his efforts were on firm legal ground. If you believe that the law should be different than it is, then by all means, make the effort to get it changed. But don't stand around bitching about the "patently obvious illegality" of the surveillance program without first trying to acquaint yourself with those stubborn little things called facts.
I'm not certain how Jeff manages to keep his cool when the drooling idiots start ranting in his comment section. If someone left infantile comments like that on this blog(and let's face it, I have about 3 regular readers), I'd probably start modifying their words to represent what they actually meant to say. Suffice it to say that their names would become closely associated with the phrase "molests baby squirrels" in most search engines.
March 02, 2006
I expected to be done with Crunchy Cons until the book arrived, but there was a bit more positive response to my two cents on the Crunchy debate than I expected, so... here's another thought or two.
A long time ago, a graybeard who had worked at the Washington Post was addressing a group of young journalists, including me, and he said, Its not just important to know who you are; its important to know who you arent. You are not necessarily the common man. Your experiences are not universal. You cannot and should not assume that your readers have had your experiences, and that your worldview is normal.
Its a good lesson. He pointed out that he had heard colleagues saying that the difficulty in finding a good nanny was the biggest single problem facing America today (this conversation was back in the mid-90s).
Havent gotten my copy of Crunchy Cons yet, but throughout his career the New York Post, NR and NRO, Dallas Morning News - Rod writes with clarity and passion about his experiences spiritual, career, social. In fact, his fearlessness, honesty, and writing from the heart are probably what I admire most about him.
Having said that, Rod seems to have presumed that his experiences, tastes, and worldview are much more common than they are; that hes not just a guy who likes organic food and traditional values, hes the voice of a Long-Ignored, Rising Movement (or Sensibility). It would be nice to get a better sense of how many Crunchies are out there Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions or more?
Anecdotal evidence, even from literally hundreds of NRO readers, does not a social trend make. Ive heard from probably more than 100 NRO readers sharing their positive experiences with Turkey; this does not necessarily signify the rise of the Turkophilic Cons.
The Crunchblog began with a manifesto that declared, in its very first point, We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
Im trying to come up with a statement that more directly and arrogantly claims, Im just plain better than you, and its just not coming to me.
I agree it's serious, in as much as all of this is another example of soft-headed, emotional types trying to reintroduce sophistry, ignorance and welfare statist impulses in the guise of an atrocious brand name with the letters "con" appended to it. A brand name whose purpose is also to feed its adherents' egos by convincing them they're Hip! and With It!, all the while protecting them from the unpleasantness of having to reason through any of their positions.
Couldn't have said it better myself. No really, I couldnt't. Or hadn't you noticed the Sitemeter numbers for this blog?
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