Friday, February 24, 2006

Many black Republicans are running—but so what?

One thing I’ve been hearing from Republicans since, like, ever about how if they could get a black nominee running for their party they’d be guaranteed a win, the implication seeming to be that with all blacks voting for a candidate just because he or she is black, plus with all “politically correct” liberals voting for any minority candidate regardless of qualifications, those voters combined with loyal Republicans would mean a landslide.

The Republicans’ problem has always been that this hypothesis is seldom tested. Three-term Republican Representative J.C. Watts was black, sure, but if you get all the liberals and blacks in Oklahoma voting for you, it’s not going to make a huge difference. At any rate, there are no other successful black Republicans to corroborate with Watts’ success.

However, there are a few men who are looking to change that. 2006 is seeing more black Republican candidates than have run for a long time. I’m not sure why this groundswell—probably coïncidence more than anything else—but there are quite a few at the moment. Rather than reconsidering the Republican Party, it looks like a number of anomalies. And it’s a chance to play the race card, which, after three decades of complaining about liberals doing it, must be a novelty that today’s conservatives are relishing.

There are at least four black candidates running as Republicans for office this year. There might be more, but I haven’t heard about them. If there are more, I’m sure we’ll hear about them soon. Republicans have a funny way of getting all worked up when they discover that they have someone in their number who’s not white.

Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (Maryland)Lt. Gov. Michael Steele was doing well with his Senate bid until his recent comments in front of a Jewish audience, where he compared stem cell research to the Nazi Holocaust. He's dropped quite a bit in the polls against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin, who is white. Cardin is currently the Democratic frontrunner, who's got competition from NAACP leader Kwesi Mfume. (Mfume, strangely enough, is not keeping pace with the internet age, since he’s apparently the first political candidate not to maintain an election web site since about 1990.) Steele once claimed in a press release that he was pelted with Oreo cookies at a speech he gave at a university, but no one will corroborate this claim, nor is there any evidence, physical or photographic, that this actually happened.

Recent polls show Cardin beating Steele by 15 points, where Cardin was trailing him by 5 points a month ago; Mfume and Steele are neck-and-neck. Cardin is the favorite for the Democratic nomination. This race is to fill the open seat that will be left by outgoing Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes, who's held the seat for about thirty years.

Lynn Swann—Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann has locked up the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor. Swann, in his mid-forties, has no political experience, but he sure looks good on TV. Swann defines himself as a conservative, and has done the talk show circuit, dropping in on Chris Matthews and George Stephanopoulos this month. He parrots the regular GOP lines on stem cell research, abortion, opposition to the minimum wage, etc. He has also been going off about Democrats not delivering for blacks. What the Republicans could do for them, he doesn't say, but there you go.

Swann recently nudged out the moderate Bill Scranton III, son of former Pennsylvania Governor Bill Scranton, Jr., and unsuccessful 1986 gubernatorial candidate, losing to Bob Casey, Sr. 51-49, a loss largely attributed to a comment he made about western Pennsylvania being "more like Ohio." (As a native western Pennsylvanian, I can vouch that that's true, but jeez, it's not a very smart thing to say in an election.) Republicans hope that Swann's Pittsburgh connection will help him energize western Pennsylvania which, in these red-or-blue days, is rather purple. Incumbent Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, once a popular mayor of Philadelphia, is getting tepid support from Pennsylvanians. However, Swann isn't performing terribly well against Rendell thus far, though things haven't heated up. One speculation about Swann is central Pennsylvania, which is sparsely populated but reliably Republican. Some say central Pennsylvania wouldn't vote for a black man, and that Swann would just depress Republican turnout there. Having lived in central Pennsylvania for a number of years, I tend to agree.

Keith ButlerKeith Butler is a Detroit area politician, active in Republican politics since the Reagan administration. He's also a big wheel at Word Of Faith Ministries. His wife is, too. Butler is challenging incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, and is not likely to beat her. No other Michigan Republican has expressed any interest in this race, as far as I know, even though this race was declared by some speculators last year as probably competitive. It sure doesn't look that way now.

Butler doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd have much appeal for Michiganders, black or white. His wife Deborah appears on Word of Faith's web site. They’re a power couple, it appears, but a problem for them is that their Southern brand of religion just doesn’t play too well in Michigan.

One thing about Butler is that he's got a long, long list of his party's endorsements. Pretty much every Republican in Michigan has endorsed him. I have to wonder, though: if Senator Stabenow were actually vulnerable, wouldn’t another Michigan Republican have stepped up to the plate? It seems that maybe he's just there because no serious candidate is interested in the job. He wouldn't be the first sacrificial lamb offered up to an otherwise unbeatable incumbent, you know? Looks like he’s pulling a Goldwater.

Ken Blackwell--Outgoing two-term Governor Bob Taft III is America's least popular governor, mired in scandal, fiscal problems and unemployment. Taft is the latest standard-bearer of this powerful Ohio political family, son of Senator Bob Taft (an unsuccessful 1952 presidential candidate, probably hurt by his close association with Senator Joe McCarthy,) and grand-nephew of President William Howard Taft. It's a good year to be a Democratic politician in Ohio, with a few Ohio congressmen being mired in scandal lately, as well.

That said, enough folks are trying. The Democrats have settled on Rep. Ted Strickland, from southern Ohio, a soft-spoken reverend in his mid-60s. The Republicans are currently in a three-way primary contest, led by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is black. Blackwell isn't the most inspiring candidate, he's trailing Strickland in polls, but, Republicans point out: he's black! There's an argument I keep hearing that if you run a black candidate, all blacks will vote for him or her. The idea is that it's all about skin color and not positions or content of character. The paltry 9% of the black vote that Bush got in 2004 would have been closer to 90%, if only Bush were black. But considering the likely fortunes of Steele, Swann and Blackwell, this doesn't hold up.

Ken Blackwell is very chummy with George W. Bush, and is the one responsible for bringing Diebold machines to Ohio, as well as blocking efforts to issue voting receipts to voters using them. Blackwell is not winning the hearts of Ohioans. The recent meltdown of the Ohio Republican Party is bad news for Blackwell and good news for Democrats--but that'd be great news for Democrats if the Ohio Democratic Party hadn't already melted down in the early 1990s.

Oh, and an honorable mention on the Ohio Senate race. Due to the Ohio Republicans' recent woes, Republican Senator Mike DeWine is one of the more vulnerable incumbents. Two Democrats, State Senator Sherrod Brown of Akron and attorney Paul Hackett of Cincinnati, were involved in a tight primary. The Democratic National Committee saw that things could be messy, so it decided that since Brown looked like the stronger candidate, it pressured Hackett to drop out. Hackett, an anti-Bush Iraq War veteran, did so, but very publicly and very bitterly, excoriating the DNC in an interview. Rush Limbaugh picked up on this and snarked that the Democrats were propping up Sherrod Brown out of "PC" sentiment, favoring him simply because he's black. Photographic evidence on the Sherrod Brown campaign web site indicates that Sherrod Brown is, and always has been, white. Judge for yourself on Sherrod Brown’s own web site, which has current and accurate photos of the man.

There's a number of blacks running for Congress this year, and none of them except for Steele are Republicans. As to the House, I'm not sure how many are running. In the Senate, there's conservative Democrat Harold Ford, denizen of a powerful Tennessee political family. He's got the Democratic nomination locked up, but it remains to be seen who the Republicans are going to put up against him, so I can't assess his chances yet. To my knowledge, no other blacks are running for the Senate (but I bet that Alan Keyes is just kicking himself for having moved out Maryland just two years before this open Senate seat race!)

As to the 2008 presidential race—It looks like this is going to be an all-white field. Carole Mosely-Braun probably won't bother again, and while Al Sharpton might, he's not really considered a serious candidate. On the Republican side, there's been a little chatter about Condoleezza Rice running, but she's publicly stated that she's not interested, and I'm inclined to believe her. Colin Powell, I suspect, will also stick to his conviction that he doesn't want to run for elective office. The 2008 race will consist entirely of white males except for the Hispanic Bill Richardson and, of course, Hillary Clinton. You can expect plenty of talk about Illinois Senator Barack Obama, but I can’t see him running in 2008. He was just elected to the Senate in 2004, and he’s pretty young. Once he seasons himself in the Senate for a while, I think he’s got a definite presidential air about him. But if he’s on a presidential ticket before 2016, I’ll be surprised.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

US military insists that Iraq is not on the brink of civil war

I agree with them on this point, in fact. I think it's already in civil war. Just because you don't have Iraqis dressing up in either blue or gray uniforms doesn't mean there's no civil war.

A major Shiite shrine was destroyed yesterday, and despite the calls by some religious leaders not to do so, there have been numerous retaliatory attacks on Sunni religious sites. Americans are trying to tie this to the group al Qaeda in Iraq, but I'm skeptical. I mean, it may well have been al Qaeda in Iraq who entered the shrine dressed as policemen and blew it up, but it could have been anyone interested in sparking sectarian violence. The US is getting a load of the blame for this mess, too. And really, this couldn't have happened if we hadn't attacked Iraq and left it blown open like this.

The hell of it is that it doesn't matter who blew up this shrine, the thousand-year-old Imam Ali al-Hadi mausoleum, something akin to blowing up Notre Dame Cathedral. It doesn't matter because much blame, fairly or unfairly, is going to be directed toward the occupying forces, and much punishment is going to be directed to both those forces and to, well, Shiites and Sunnis, which sure sounds like a civil war to me.

Typically an occupying army keeps the peace in a civil war by supporting one side or the other. The United States has no interest in doing that, and picking a side would be as bad a move as not picking a side. In sum: there's no nice solution to this, and I'd like any American who complained that the United States didn't "finish the job" in 1991 to come forward and explain to me just what "finishing the job" would entail. I'm waiting. But don't worry: I won't hold my breath.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More suggested '08 Republican convention sites!

Since I posted the list yesterday of possible Republican convention sites, along with my suggestions, I’ve received a few more suggestions from readers over at the Daily Kos that I wish I’d thought of but, well, I didn’t. So here you have a few more possible locations for the 2008 Republican convention:

Tallmansville, WV: What better choice than wild, wonderful West Virginia? It’s a state full of Democrats who voted Republican in the last two presidential elections. Better still, Tallmansville is the site of the now-famous Sago Mine, which collapsed last month due to toothless safety regulations, weakened by a Republican-aligned business community hot for profit-raising deregulation. What better way to celebrate the success of laissez-faire economics? And to commemorate all those miners who died in the name of a slightly higher profit margin?

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: What a great way to remind everyone about how everyone deserves to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, except for accused terrorists! Plus security will be easy to manage, press will be easy to corral, and protesters will be kept at bay—just not this bay!

Somalia: No government, no services, no taxes, no gun laws: it’s a Republican paradise!

Baghdad, Iraq: We liberated it and now it’s free and peaceful, at last! And why shouldn’t the party that brought us the Iraq War enjoy its fruits?

Northern Marianas Islands: Great, low labor costs, brought to you by Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay! Slave labor is very cost effective!

Thanks for the suggestions, Kos readers! Keep ‘em coming!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Republicans casting about for '08 convention site

They've sent invitations to 31 cities to make bids for their presidential convention, but they're also open to bids from other cities who feel they'd be appropriate locations. Their primary requirements are:

·A main convention facility capable of seating at least 20,500.
·A city and its host committee's willingness and ability to provide and pay for security for the convention (kind of like how Iraq pays for its security through oil revenues.)
·City must be able to make available to the RNC's planning committee 20,000 hotel rooms and 2,000 one- and two-bedroom suites (or a large stadium where cots can be set up, like in New Orleans back in September.)

Invitations have been extended to:

Anaheim, CA
Atlanta, GA
Boston, MA
Charlotte, NC
Chicago, IL
Columbus, OH
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Houston, TX
Indianapolis, IN
Los Angeles, CA
Kansas City, MO
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Minneapolis, MN
Nashville, TN
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Portland, OR
Sacramento, CA
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
St. Louis, MO
Tampa, FL

I propose a few more:

Wichita, KS: Then the country can see the massive unemployment and destitution caused by Republican deregulation of industry. Check out the abandoned Boeing plant! See poorly paid, illegal Mexican immigrants work in underregulated meat-packing plants! Listen to Christian radio until you've got stigmata pouring out of your ears!

Flint, MI: Constant demonizing of unions has, along with the aforementioned corporate deregulation, contributed to the decline of this former industrial center. Bonus: it's Michael Moore's hometown! Since Republicans take Mr. Moore so seriously, this would be fantastic!

New Canaan, CT: Very Republican section of a very Democratic state, and birthplace of Ann Coulter. Remind the fiscal Republicans here just what the country's myriad social Republicans are like. "Mrs. Vanderwealth says she saw some of those awful Southern Republicans at the convention. They were either new money or no money—I don't know which is worse! Oh, when will this dreadfully common rabble leave?"

Nogales, AZ: Here Republicans can get a first-hand view of the people President Bush will likely have given guest-worker visas (but not citizenship) by 2008. Watch Tom Tancredo's head explode!

Prudhoe Bay, AK: Situated not far from the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, maybe we can get some pro-drilling Republicans excited about nature. Or maybe get them eaten by polar bears. Either one is okay by me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vague rumor circulating about the swiftboating of Paul Hackett

Today I've been hearing about a rumor of swiftboating by the Sherrod Brown campaign, and it's driving me crazy! I've been looking around for evidence but I've found none. I've thought about it, and I can't see how it would even make sense for Brown to try that. He'd be rankling a fellow Democrat who served in the Iraq War while that very war is going on. I couldn't imagine Brown being so stupid.

I'd be most interested in any information about the alleged swiftboating that turns up. I maintain it's unlikely that the Brown campaign even considered such a boneheaded move, but I'm open to proof, if any exists. If anyone has any proof, please post it here.

Meanwhile, I continue to support Sherrod Brown for United States Senate. He's always had the right ideas; he's always been a clear-headed progressive. We need a man like him in the Senate. We'd do well to have Paul Hackett in the Senate, too, but like I said earlier today: 2010!

Ohio Senate: Hackett drops out; Brown remains

Paul Hackett, the guy who gave Rep. Jean Schmidt a run for her money in a very Republican district in southwestern Ohio, has stepped down from his bid to knock Republican Senator Mike DeWine out of office. Hackett is complaining about pressure from Democratic leaders to step down, since he's not perceived as a viable candidate for the primary, and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer want a clean, trouble-free contest, of course. Hackett says he's stepping down, and that he's through with politics.

The reason that Schumer and Reid and friends don't see Hackett as a viable candidate is that State Rep. Sherrod Brown is the candidate who's got all the money, all the campaign staff, and more statewide name recognition. Hackett's calling this a "betrayal" is a bit of a stretch, anyway. The thing is, it was Brown's own campaign manager who originally encouraged Hackett to run for the Senate. When Hackett vacillated, Brown jumped in, and then Hackett made up his mind. Brown's campaign manager (and donors) naturally went back to Brown, leaving this to look potentially really messy.

Hackett's a great candidate, and he'd certainly have potential if Brown weren't already in the running. If Hackett had made up his mind sooner, Brown probably wouldn't even be in the running. The Ohio Democratic Party wanted to get Hackett to run for the House and, I would presume, groom him there for a Senate run in 2010, when the Democrats are going to need a really strong candidate with strong ties in southern Ohio, which leans Republican, to counter Senator Voinovich, who's from northeastern Ohio, which leans Democratic.

I hope Hackett's pique is just that, and that he comes around. Since Ohio's filing deadline for House races is February 16, it looks unlikely that he'll manage to do it this year, but hopefully we'll hear from him again. Hackett is a real asset to the party—just like Sherrod Brown. I'd love to have both of them in the Senate; Ohio needs good representation like them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

So Dick Cheney shot some guy.

This has garnered quite a bit of attention, but it's bound to be a flash in the pan, I predict. Apparently Dick Cheney was out quail hunting with his friend, the high-powered lawyer Harry Whittington. Cheney quailed and misfired, hitting Whittington in the face with quailshot (or whatever the ammo you use to shoot quails with is called. While I did kill a chicken once, I've never shot a quail. You don't use chickshot on chickens—just for the record.)

Light news stories like this one can fill me with mischief. Anyone out there know their Westerns? I rewrote part of the theme to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. If you know the tune, sing along:

Cause the point of a gun was the only law
That Dick Cheney understood.
When it came to shooting straight and fast
He warn't too good.

From out of the West Dick Cheney came,
Oil leger in his hand, a man,
The kind of a man to find Dubya-M-Ds,
When none are in Iraqi land.

Cause the point of a gun was the only law
That Dick Cheney understood,
When it came to shooting straight and fast
He warn't too good.

Many a quail would face his gun,
But many a man would fall.
The man who shot Harry Whittington,
He shot Harry Whittington,
He was the meanest of them all.

©2006 Last Chance Music. All Rights Reversed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bush claims we thwarted a 2002 terrorist attack in Los Angeles

For some peculiar reason, George W. Bush has recently accounced that some unnamed person and agency attached to the United States thwarted a terrorist attack in Los Angeles in 2002, based on tips that Bush never mentioned before, and which he wasn't especially clear about this time around. I'm not sure why we should believe him. Do you believe? I believe!

I believe! I believe that Bush's poll numbers are plummeting, which is why he's either exaggerating or fabricating a story about a four-year-old foiled terrorist plot!

I believe that whenever Bush's poll numbers sink, he'll point to horrible things in the past that we never heard of because they never happened since surely Bush made sure they didn't happen but just didn't tell us about them at the time!

I believe I single-handedly prevented a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1999, and that I deserve some kind of reward for it! Send money!

Hezbollah leader tells Bush and Rice to "shut up."

An AP wire story reports that in Beirut, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has urged Muslims around keep demonstrating until the European papers apologize for printing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and European countries pass laws forbidding insults to the prophet. I agree that it's reasonable to demand an apology (but unreasonable to expect one.) As to demanding that Europe pass laws infringing on free speech, well... hell, no. I'll say it again: the offending cartoons should never have been printed, but the fools who printed them should have been allowed to do so. That's a Western value, and even though the provocation of the world's Muslims was short-sighted and pointless, there's no cause to surrender our freedoms just for a little peace. It's the same thing as, say, allowing a government to conduct unauthorized wiretaps on its own citizens.

Now speaking of foolish actions, let's talk about Condoleezza Rice, who yesterday said that Iran and Syria "have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it." While she may be right that Iran and Syria are going out of their way to inflame sentiments and to exploit this scandal, she's dead wrong that the world ought to call them on it. Calling Iran and Syria on this will only serve to stoke the fires and to drag the United States into a mess that we, for once, weren't responsible for.

The best thing to do is to let this die out. We lend strength to the violent protesters by recognizing what they're doing. It was Jyllands-Posten that started this, and it's Denmark's Jyllands-Posten that should be held accountable. The American government isn't doing anyone any favors by taking a position on this, and it certainly isn't helping itself, considering how much bad will was garnered by our attacking Iraq, as well as his unforgettable "crusade" rhetoric.

So please, Ms. Rice and Mr. Bush, for once will you bow out and cease pouring kerosene on this brushfire? It would serve the Muslim world very well if you would just shut up. The Western world would benefit, as well. Really, sometimes the best possible use of free speech is to just shut up.

Looks like it's Ed Rendell vs. Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania

So it looks like Bill Scranton is giving up on the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. He holds that the Pennsylvania Republicans are coagulating around former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann, who seems to have the nomination locked up now.

I've been hearing Republicans cheering about Swann because he's black, the reasoning apparently being that if a black guy is running for an office, all the blacks will automatically vote for that black guy. I haven't heard anyone successfully defend or even explain Swann's politics; he's pretty much an empty suit who calls himself a conservative without stating too much in the way of actual positions. A discussion I got into with a Republican on a message board pretty much sums things up, sadly enough. (If you check that link, you can call me Chance.)

Rendell's sort of hit the skids, popularity-wise. I have to wonder if he'll be able to manage reëlection, but I'm not as worried about him as I am of other candidates in other races in 2006. He's not likely to galvanize western Pennsylvania, but then, he's not really popular out that way, anyway.

The question is: will Swann galvanize western Pennsylvania? I'm not sure. While the Pittsburgh Steelers are little short of a religion out there, I'm not convinced that running one of their former players is a guaranteed win. It certainly won't help in the Philadelphia area.

Another point is that a Republican's natural base is central Pennsylvania and, to put it bluntly, Swann is black. I lived in central Pennsylvania for a number of years, and have traveled extensively in the region. From what I recall of the attitude there, a black candidate would dampen the enthusiasm of the voters there. With Rendell relatively safe in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie, Swann would have to really scramble to overtake him. Not being encumbered by a platform or positions will probably help Swann, but I really don't see him getting it together to win this election. He's not even a cinch to pick up the Pittsburgh vote. Rendell is not loved in western Pennsylvania, but if Swann can’t compete statewide, he doesn’t have a chance.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Chris Matthews joins the attack on Obama.

Siding with McCain, of course. Where's that "liberal media," now?

McCain really has overstepped the bounds of appropriateness here, and he's coming off as really insincere. This sort of thing doesn't reflect well on McCain; if he's not being honest, he looks worse than most people.

McCain is doing the dirty work for the Republicans, but I can't figure out why, for the life of me, unless he's just posturing for 2008. What other reason could there be?

Kos has Matthews' bit. Click here.

Iranian paper starts a Nazi Holocaust-denial cartoon contest.

So in case you haven't heard, an Iranian paper is running a contest to see who can draw the best cartoon attacking the Nazi Holocaust. First Muslims were offended by the stupid Danes who published pointlessly inflammatory cartoons, and now the Iranians are trying to offend Westerners by doing the exact same thing! Who will win this stupidity contest?

It's hard to say, really. The Danes' attempt insulted about a billion innocent people and led to riots and bad blood between the West and the Muslim world. The intention was to prove that we in the West value freedom of speech, which is something that we in the West already knew and didn't need proof of.

On the other hand, these Iranians who are seeking to create deliberately offensive cartoons about the Nazi Holocaust seem to think that we in the West are going to have a similar reaction, reeling with empathetic outrage, then understanding why the Danes shouldn't have done what they did. These Iranians are going to be shocked when their efforts are met with a profound indifference. As a Westerner, I can tell you that we're quite used to deniers of the Nazi Holocaust, since we've been hearing their point of view for about sixty years, and you know what? We Westerners have gotten used to the notion that the Nazi Holocaust deniers are crazy, and that they say nothing worth listening to. Such is the peril of free speech: you have the right to say anything you want, but you don't have the right to be taken seriously, or the right to be listened to. That's for others to decide. If that weren't true, I'd be enjoying a hell of a lot more traffic to my blog, and people would be paying for me to post these vignettes.

It remains regrettable that this Danish paper published the cartoons, and that they were reprinted by the Norwegian paper and the French paper and the German paper and by all the other papers that are pointlessly reprinting the cartoons, fanning the flames and making things worse. I hope the Iranian paper does print their Nazi Holocaust denying cartoons, and I hope the European and American media reprint them. With any luck, the ensuing Western indifference will put all this to bed, and not simply cause all the West's Muslim haters to screech, "See? I told you so!" I realize I might be hoping for too much here: I don't expect the Muslim rioters to grasp why freedom of speech is valued in the West any more that I expect these Western dolts to grasp exactly how offensive an image of the Prophet Muhammad is. But a few people will probably learn something from this coming ridiculous exchange, and there's some value in that.

I hope.

Monday, February 06, 2006

McCain attacks Obama

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has recently accused Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) of partisanship. What's it all about? Nothing specific. Obama is confused, and McCain is being vague. Why isn't McCain offering any straight talk about his petulant condemnation of the Junior Senator from Illinois?

It's because McCain is a Republican, and these scandals are sticking to the Republicans like elephant dung. That's why he's making up this outrage about Obama's alleged partisanship. I'd really like to know what McCain allegedly thinks is so "partisan" about Obama's letter. It's probably just a talking point that he's ingesting to save Bush's face and to make the Republican Party look better.

The Republican Party really IS sinking in a culture of corruption. The Democrats are no saints, sure, but the Republicans have beaten them BY FAR. The Democrats had nothing to do with Jack Abramoff, since Abramoff was behind the K Street Project—a project specifically designed to isolate Democrats. And, um, anyway... wasn't McCain one of the Keating Five?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

John Boehner elected Republican House Leader

An examination of the ballots cast in the Republican House Leader election have revealed that many who tried to vote for Roy Blunt actually had their votes recorded as votes for Pat Buchanan!

An investigation is pending. Diebold Industries has not been able to be reached for comment...

Nice flight suit, Bob

Representative Bob Beauprez (R-Colorado) is stepping down from Congress to run for governor. That's fine. But it's giving me a sense of déjà vu. Specifically, what's giving me a sense of déjà vu is the man's flight suit that he's strutting around in, as Progress Now Action reports.

It takes gall, it does, to parade around in uniform when you never actually served. In 1970, Rep. Beauprez's draft number was called, and he answered to the draft board, but records show that Beauprez was "excused" for a "physical reason."

Now I'm not calling the man's honesty into question—at least, I'm not calling his 1970 honesty into question. He might really have had a "physical reason" to be excused, and he might indeed still be upset that he never got the chance to serve his country. Even so, he never actually did serve his country, and while the 1970 Bob Beauprez might have been an honest man with a "physical reason," the 2006 Bob Beauprez is a dishonest man who's strutting around like a peacock in a uniform that he never deserved to wear, that he never wore professionally, never having put his life on the line.

Let's review: a veteran is someone who served in the armed forces for real. This is not the case with Rep. Beauprez, who is a dishonest man wearing a flight suit like a kid on Halloween.

Too bad Colorado's landlocked. It might really help his election chances if he could put that uniform on and do a heroic landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Muhammed's Cartoon Cavalcade

Apparently the French publication France Soir has published some cartoons about none other than the last prophet himself, Muhammed. I've dug around a little but don't have the time for the research right now. I'd like to find copies, though.

Needless to say, this has got folks of a certain persuasion in a tizzy, as the Associated Press points out.

In Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe, he introduces the chapter on the rise of Islam with a word from the book's cartoon narrator explaining that although cartoonists prefer to deal in images, it wouldn't be prudent to risk offending the sensibilities of some, so you might notice that some of the main characters appear, as Gonick puts it, “off camera.”

Frankly, I agree with Gonick's take on it. I mean, France Soir certainly has the right to publish cartoons of Muhammed, and I wouldn't want to deny them that, but what's the point they're making? Today's Le Monde sheds some light on that:

"Under the title 'Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God,' the French daily published as a sort of 'headline' cartoon showing Buddha, Yahweh, Muhammed and God, sitting on a cloud. The latter said to the Muslim prophet, 'Don't pout, Muhammed. We're all caricatures here.' The twelve incriminating cartoons are published on interior pages. One of the caricatures shows the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Another represents a mullah stopping a stream of suicide bomber applicants. 'Our supply of virgins has run out,' he explains to them.

'Enough of these lessons from these retrograde bigots! In these drawings there is no racist intention, no intentional denigration of a community of the kind they say,' opines the editor-in-chief of the daily, Serge Faubert, in an editorial titled 'Intolerance.' 'To protect religious liberty doesn't mean to acquiesce to the principles of a religion. Just because the Koran forbids the representation of Muhammed should a non-Muslim have to submit to it,' he points out."

Okay, they do make a valid point. But is this really the way to do it? Flat-out antagonism? I don't know what they expect to accomplish. I appreciate the value France has always placed on secularism, and I support it. And French Muslims have strained this value as of late. It just seems that they're punching in the right spot, but perhaps hitting a bit too hard.