Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Must Read - United 93 Review

I do not expect to read a more powerful review of the movie, United 93, than the one by the President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Union, John Carr. A particularly powerful quote is posted below, but I urge you to click through and read it in its entirety. And then take a quiet minute to think.

The Main Bang: United 93---A Review: "When the movie ended, just like we all knew that it would, with sudden swift blackness and no audio, the only sound which filled the theatre was the mournful, heaving sobs of the family members themselves. The credits rolled but the audience sat transfixed, afraid to move, afraid to intrude on the pain and the sorrow and the suffering unfolding just a few short rows back. Those in attendance eventually filed out of the auditorium, speaking in the hushed tones of a funeral. "

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fitzmas 2006

OK, here we go again. Check out this post of a blog that I'd never heard of before. Interesting that something can seem so credible. According to the bio blurb at the bottom, the guy is a legitimate journalist and his blog reads that way. In any event, if the quotes from Rove's attorney are accurate, it seems we may yet see a Rove indictment.

We've been here before. And the Libby indictment was a pretty big disappointment, given the build up. Once burned, twice shy. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But, then again.....

Monday, April 10, 2006

David Brooks

David Brooks is the conservative columnist for the New York Times. He spoke to a group today of which I am president. We are the House Administrative Assistants Alumni Association, an organization of ex-chiefs of staff to members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Brooks is a very appealing and engaging man. His conservative credentials are unchallenged. But he comes off as almost shy. He is self-effacing and very funny. And extremely thoughtful. He spoke to us about a philosophy of government that he supports called "energetic limited government." He claims this approach to government goes back to Alexander Hamilton and was sustained by Abraham Lincoln. It's last advocate in the White House was Teddy Roosevelt. It's guiding principle is that government should give people the tools to accomplish social advancement, but should not guarantee social advancement. I could live with that. Unfortunately, the policies of modern day conservatives actually retard social advancement and institutionalize the concentration of wealth.

Contrarily, Brooks discussed the growing social divide in America based on educational achievement. His compassion is clearly genuine and he obviously believes that conservatism is the correct path to a just society. It is hard, however, to reconcile his view of conservativism with actual consequences of the long term dominance of conservatism over national public policy. The results are the opposite of the values to which his aspires.

He Can't Even Pray Right

The Onion calls Bush out on his ineffective praying.

Critics Blast Bush For Not Praying Hard Enough The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "The OnionSearch News Archives
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Critics Blast Bush For Not Praying Hard Enough
April 5, 2006 Issue 42�14
WASHINGTON, DC�President Bush, already facing the lowest approval ratings in history, is coming under fire from former supporters over what they call his 'ineffectual and incompetent' use of prayer for national guidance and assistance."

Here's the Cheney quote:

"Half the time, I can't even get him on the phone because he's busy praying for the American people, the same people who are now so quick to criticize him," Cheney said. "If something's wrong with those prayers, I would suggest that it's perhaps the fault of a supernatural entity. But it's not the president's. He is doing his duty."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Another General Dissents

Marine General Gregory Newbold was Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He quit in disgust a few months before the war in Iraq was launched, frustrated by the "zealots" determined to go to war. Here's a quote from a column in Time Magazine that captures the feelings I have had from the beginning. These people will burn for what they've done.

"My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results. "

Friday, April 07, 2006

More Bush Lies

The quote below frustrates me. I had been repeated by many critics of Bush that, reports of his intentional leak of classified information to attack Joe Wilson include no evidence that he knew about the leak of Valerie Plame. Baloney! Haven't they ever heard of "circumstantial evidence"? Sure, it may not be dispositive in a court of law, but circumstantial evidence can still be very persuasive.

In this case, we're supposed to believe that Bush and Cheney talked about how to discredit Joe Wilson without discussing his wife's supposed role in sending him to Niger. We know Cheney knew about it. We know he discussed it with Libby. We know they were all obsessed with trashing Wilson. But yet, there's "no evidence" that Bush knew that Valerie Plame's employment was going to be part of the messaging in the "Attack Wilson" campaign.

On the left, to believe that canard is naivete in the extreme. On the right, to believe it is cynicism.

Playing Hardball With Secrets - New York Times: "We have seen no evidence that Mr. Bush authorized the outing of Mrs. Wilson. But at the least, revealing selected bits of intelligence, including information that officials may well have known to be false, seems like a serious abuse of power. It's not even clear that Mr. Bush can legally declassify intelligence at whim. "

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fields of Freedom

So, here I am at the premier of the movie Fields of Freedom, a short film about the battle of Gettysburg. Cool washington event with much glitterati. Jack Kemp is here handing his business card to Sen john Thune, who looks a bit bemused. Here comes Jack nown waddling down to the front row. (I'm sitting in my prime seat, front and centet, typing on my blackberry).

Had a great conversation with a couple of Civil War re-enactors who are providing color for the event. I asked one how he got into the "wonderful obsession.". He's about 28 and told a touching story about the moment his Dad allowed him to come into his private study where he had all his Civil War paraphrenalia. "Once I saw that, I was hooked," he said.

The movie was a very realistic portrayal of the actual battle, focusing on Pickett's Charge. I was a bit disappointed that there was very little historical perspective offered. But it was only a 1/2 hour movie and I guess they decided that showing the battle as it actually was would be the best "hook" for visitors to the battlefield, where the movie will be shown on an IMax screen. What does come through the movie loud and clear is the insanity of the battle. These Confederate soldiers marched directly into withering fire, both cannon and rifles. It was suicidal but they kept marching to the point where they almost broke through the Northern line. The portrayal of the "High water mark" was very compelling.

Other luminaries that were there were former Senator Don Nickles and Doreen Gentzler, local TV anchor.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Delay Departs

Obviously, Delay's departure is a disappointment to me as a Democrat. But, as an American, I have to celebrate his exit. He's a corrupt, arrogant, sanctimonious cad. There is a small (very small) part of me that respects his political skills. But any admiration of his expertise is overwhelmed by the evil ends to which he applied these skills.

I'll never forget the day when I was working on the Hill that I encountered him close up and personal. I was walking with my employer, a senior member of the House. We were coming from a meeting of an ethics task force that had been considering limitations on the gift rules in Congress. You know, the more things change....

In any event, Delay came up to my boss and pleaded with him not to ban golf trips. "Please don't ban the golf trips!" he whined. A very prescient incident.

And now he quits Congress because he doesn't want the Democrats to "steal" his seat. That theft could only take place with the complicity of fifty plus one percent of his constituents. He apparently doesn't trust the people to make the right judgment in the next election. Or maybe he does.

Good riddance.