Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck

The film Good Night and Good Luck finally came to town and I was able to see it this past weekend. It was a very well-made film and I enjoyed it immensely. What interested me was how our culture has changed so radically in the past fifty years. Not the domination of entertainment within TV news that Murrow warns about in his final remarks, but rather in the treatment of smoking. The film makers included an old Kent cigarette commericial in the film to draw laughs but what amazed me was seeing Murrow (played ably by David Strathairn) smoking while he read the news on the air.

The image was interesting.

Friday, November 18, 2005

John McCain

John McCain spoke today at the University of Mississippi. He was the first of what will become the Lott Lecture Series sponsored by the Trent Lott Leadership Institute at the University. Senator Lott was also present and introduced Senator McCain.

As a part of the introduction, the University Chancellor presented Senator Lott with copies of the yearbooks covering his tenure as an undergraduate at Ole Miss because his orgininals had been destroyed with his home and everything else he had by Hurricane Katrina. Sometimes, disasters strike everyone.

McCain and Lott both made it very apparent that they had great respect for each other, though they disagreed on many issues. Lott certainly suggested that McCain was a leading potential candidate in 2008 for the Presidency and McCain asked those in attendance to encourage Lott to run for reelection and not retire from the Senate at the end of his current term.

As for McCain's comments, he really did not say anything unexpected. While Iraq was a significant topic it was not his only one. He started by suggesting that Congress needed to do a better job of controlling spending and managing the budget. One significant comment was that the Republicans needed to be especially concerned as they were beginning to alienate the fiscally conservative portion of their base; a condition which could seriously damage the party if it was allowed to continue. Showing his rather wry sense of humor, he stated that Congress was spending money like a drunken sailor, though no sailor he had ever known had Congresses imagination when it came to spending. One of his favorite examples was a $2 million earmark to study bear DNA in Montana, though he was unsure if it was a paternity issue or not.

When it came to Iraq he had a number of comments. He began by responding to John Murtha (D. PA)'s demand was US troops be immediately withdraw from Iraq. McCain argued that a premature withdrawal would be devestating. If the US fails, Iraq will most likely dissintegrate into feuding factions which will simply create a larger breeding ground for fanatics that will carry the conflict to our shores. He quoted Al Queda statements that this conflict will be widespread and devestating.

He also argued that the most important portion of the conflict was the conflict of ideas. That while the US has been an example of democracy in places such as the Ukraine, Lebannon and Georgia, our enemies in the War on Terror want to destroy the ideas that we promulgate. Only be working towards a success conclusion of the action will we increase our safetly as well as that of the region.

McCain was explicit in stating that we had certainly made mistakes in Iraq and all we can do is learn from them and try not repeat them. He also made that point regarding all of the discussion of how we got into this sitution that in the end how we got to this point is not relevant to how we need to conduct US policy in Iraq. Since we are there we have to succeed.

One of the most interesting points he made during the Q and A was that democracies are generally flawed at the outset and that we should not expect Iraqi democracy to spring forth like Athena from Zeus' head (my aliteration not his) fully formed but rather understand that it will have problems and difficulties and will change over time. As he said, the US government evolved over time and had some difficult moments, the Civil War for example, before it reached the point it is at currently.

As for my impressions of McCain's speech. In my opinion he is certainly laying the groundwork for a Presidential bid. He was explicit in stating that he was not running yet and I believe that this is correct. One of his jokes was that in 2000 he started with a name recognition of 3% with an error of margin of 5%. This will not be a problem for him in 2007 and 2008. He will certainly be a front runner if he decides to run. As he stated towards the end of his remarks, this decision will be based on the situation in the country at the time. The issues that the nation faces at that moment and whether his talents and experience would be use. I suspect that a fairly careful examination of the situation within the Republican base will also be a part of his decision making process. As a fiscal conservative rather than a social conservative, whether on not his candidacy is truly viable may come down to what the Republican base looks like in 2 years.

He also had a great Arizona joke. "Arizona, a state with so little water that trees chase dogs there."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Everyone is going on and on about how Bush and the Bushies lied about Iraq's WMDs to get us into this war. Many seem to feel that without the administration's comments, no one could ever imagine that Hussein had WMDs. "How could that have been possible?" seems to to be the sentiment.

What they all are apparently blocking from their memories is that Hussein had not only developed Chemical Weapons in the past, he used them!!!! Just ask Iran, or the Kurds, or the Shia. For that matter, the only reason Hussein did not have a nuclear program is that the Isrealis blew up his reactor in 1981. A reactor built the France by the way. The French goverment and Hussein have been in cahoots for a long time just look at the where the majority of the corruption in the Oil for Food scandal was, or the fact that the forged Niger documents were actually provided by French intelligence.

To sit back now and go there was absolutely no reason that any rational person would suspect that Hussein had WMDs is absurd. Chris Dodd came very close this this on Imus this morning. Maybe Dodd and his ilk should go read some history before becoming quite so sanctimonious.

Monday, November 07, 2005


As I was driving across the country in September, I noticed an interesting billboard outside of Laramie Wyoming. I saw the same billboard later in central Missouri and just east of Birmingham Alabama. The advertisement is for a Micro-surgery clinic in Houston Texas specializing in Vasectomy Reversal procedures.

I admit that I still wonder somewhat who the target audience for the billboards is. Truckers looking for an outpatient (or drive through) fix. The method and location of the advertisement was cause for me to go HMMMMMMMM.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Supreme Court Nominees

Now that Bush has gone to round two on the nominees, he has done what I and millions of others predicted, and named a staunch conservative to the bench. I personnally do not know if Sam Alito is qualified to be on the Supreme Court or not, but I suspect he is and that he will probably be confirmed.

The big question is how will the left act in this process. If they go full out and fight tooth and nail on it, they will most probably lose (they only have 45 votes) and in the process premanently destroy the judicial system in the United States. We will be back to stealth candidates (David Souter) with no record, no opinion and probably no brain to speak of.

What they should remember is something John McCain said on the Imus show yesterday. Namely, elections have consequences. Bush won. For any Democrats reading this. You may despise W and every thing he stands for. But in the end he won. He beat Al Gore in 2000 (conspirators to the contrary) and John Kerry in 2004. He won, he gets to pick. You want another choice, quit nominating losers for the presidency. W was eminently beatable both times and the Democratic Party was simply to incompetent to do it. That is a reality.

Since Bush won, he gets to pick his nominees. And thus we have Alito.

There is no guarantee on how they act once they are on the bench though. Many remain the shallow unthinking people they were before being nominated (Thomas and Ginsberg for example) and others transform into entirely different entities. Remember that Earl Warren, the great defender of civil rights while on the court, was the single most important force behind the internment of the Japanese-Americans during WW2. Eisenhower called him (Warren) his worst mistake. In the end, when giving people lifetime appointments, you free them from the need to make anyone happy. For some this is a freedom to expand and change, for others it is not. But there is no way to tell.