Friday, February 27, 2004

Spread the Word: An Afghan man has produced a feature-length movie called "Osama", which reveals more about the evil, repressive reign of the Taliban. This is supposed to be the first movie to come out of Afghanistan since the Taliban was defeated. It shows burqa-donning women being attacked by Taliban thugs for seeking work. Parents even shaved their 12-year-old girl's head so she could pass for a boy and earn some money for the starving family.

It's good to be reminded from time to time how despotic and hateful our enemy in this war is, and what good we're doing by rooting out such extremism throughout the Middle East.

I don't know if Americans will ever get a chance to see this movie. But I have a feeling I'll learn more from it than another rant from Michael Moore.

Thievery: A 23-year-old student in Europe was arrested for stealing electricity from a train station. Apparently he was caught plugging his laptop into an outlet and (gasp) typing, or something.

The value of the stolen electricity is valued to be about one-fourth of a U.S. cent.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Love, Honor, and Cherish: Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal ran an article showing the evolution of legal marriage in this country. (I don't have an online subscription to the paper, so I can't link to the story: "Couples in the U.S. Used to Marry Early, Often and Informally") In the 1800s, many couples were considered married even without a license, witness, ceremony, legal magistrate, or official church or state sanctioning. If they lived together as a couple, they were considered married and enjoyed all protections and privileges thereof.

Females were eligible to get married at the age of 12, males at 15. Partially as a result, divorce was not uncommon. To fight this, states began outlawing common-law marriage. Some even clamped down to make it nearly legally impossible to divorce. That, mixed with the fact that women could not claim a share of any of the couple's property and probably wouldn't be hired anywhere because of rampant sexual discrimination in society, meant many women were stuck in terrible relationships.

And of course, most states banned interracial marriage up to just a few decades ago. In Florida, a white person wasn't allowed to marry anyone with "one-eighth or more of Negro blood." Anyone in an interracial marriage in Mississippi could face life in prison.

All that seems ridiculous and discriminatory now. Funny how the "traditional" state of marriage changes in just a few years.

You're Out! The Chicago Cubs plan to destroy the curse on their beleaguered baseball team once and for all by blowing up the foul baseball that just wouldn't land in an outfielder's glove. That mistake marked the beginning of the end of the team's Cinderella season last year.

But don't worry. Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan who interfered with the game by trying to make a catch from the stands, won't be tied to the ball.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Media Responsibility: Here's another refutation of the myth that the President of the United States can control the economy from the Oval Office and create more jobs through magic. In reality, the business cycle rules, and a president can only implement regulatory policies along with tax and spending proposals that may influence the economy.

Yet the economy is still a focus of the presidential campaign. Democrats are smearing the president because, they say, the economy and unemployment rates are not recovering fast enough. And Republicans are touting the economic growth like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

The press is dutifully repeating what the candidates say. The rationale is that the public expects the president to dictate what the economy will do, so that's what we'll cover.

But it's the news media's job to explain the truth. There's a public misconception about the president's role in the economy because the press perpetuates it.

When candidates start stumping about jobs and economic prosperity, news reporters should challenge the politicians with facts that refute claims of the president's influence over the economy. When news stories relay how politicians are promising to outlaw the business cycle, journalists should explain that this is impossible and that government can guarantee very little in terms of infinite economic growth.

Then, maybe, we can concentrate on reporting real news.

Security Update: An airport screener in Denver has been disciplined for taking a ride through the luggage x-ray machine. He reportedly was curious to find out what the inside of his brain looked like.

No damage or security problems came as a result, and the x-ray dosage is considered too small to cause any health problems. But transportation officials found the behavior, well, inappropriate.

As for the results of the x-ray, it hasn't been confirmed whether the machine saw anything at all in the man's head.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Unreasonable: Even the Texas Hammer, House Majority Leader, Ultra-Conservative Rep. Tom DeLay, is against amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage:

"This is so important we're not going to take a knee-jerk reaction to this," DeLay said. "We are going to look at our options and we are going to be deliberative about what solutions we may suggest."
As I've said before, this amendment is a major assault on civil rights.

A true conservative would not tamper with the U.S. Constitution. And a true Christian would not pick and choose Bible verses in which to obey. (Shellfish are an abomination, according to Leviticus. Yet the Religious Right isn't boycotting Red Lobster.)

Bush is simply trying to rally the conservative base for the election, knowing that this amendment will probably never pass. I'm tolerant of petty politics, but not when it involves the U.S. Constitution, and not when it involves outright bigotry.

Democracy is Everywhere: Long-shot candidates this year are getting some media attention through their gimmicks.

Jeffrey Vance is running for the Democratic nomination to take on powerful California Republican incumbent, Rep. Wally Herger. The sitting Congressman has a ton of money, but Vance doesn't want to sell out to special interests. So the Californian is selling $20 certificates of "Democratic Freedom" to raise money. You can buy these on eBay or on Mr. Vance's website.

And in West Virginia, a high-school class president is running for a seat in the state legislature. Upset that many laws are targeted to restrain young people, Scotty Wilkinson wants to make sure state law includes a young person's perspective.

Good luck to both.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Unacceptable: The FBI says the anthrax killings in 2001 may never be solved. There should be no excuse for this. If we plan on winning the fight against terrorists both here and abroad, we can't let perpetrators get away with murder just because they didn't put their return address on the envelope that contained bioterrorism weapons.

NYC: Attracting 1-million protesters probably isn't what the Republicans had in mind when they sought to use the old WTC battleground for their convention backdrop. But it looks like that's what we'll be seeing.

Friday, February 20, 2004

No worries for Nader: All signs point to Ralph Nader jumping into the presidential race. But Democrats shouldn't worry about him this year.

For one thing, nobody who seriously wants Bush out of office will vote for Nader. Whether it's really Ralph's fault that Bush got elected in the first place, the perception that Nader took votes away from Gore will scare any serious Democrat from voting for the aging consumer advocate. Nader will only attract people who are determined to vote for None of the Above.

In addition, Nader isn't going to seek the Green Party nomination. Without that party's money and organizing power, Nader won't garner any attention.

So for all intents and purposes, Nader won't even exist this year.

Trabajo: Bush's proposal to allow illegal aliens to register and work in the U.S. legally seems to have prompted more immigrants to jump across the border.

That's interesting. I'm in favor of relaxing immigration rules, especially for Mexicans, because these people are vital to the well-being of our economy, and at the same time we're helping those who aren't as well off find an opportunity to work and support their families.

But I was skeptical of Bush's proposal to allow illegal immigrants to register with the federal government for temporary legal status. These immigrants don't trust government, and I wouldn't suspect that they would want to let Uncle Sam know where they were so they could be easily deported when their time expired.

However, looking at the excitement Bush's proposal is causing at the border, maybe it's being positively received. Immigrants could reap some legal protection while they work at their jobs, making it more difficult to exploit them.

It's still too soon to tell if this proposal will work. But it might be a good first step towards an eventual solution. And at least some people are beginning to realize that the immigrants who enter this country help more than they hurt, and that they deserve some help in return.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

This is sad: Apparently the Iranian elections tomorrow are predicted to be a sham to install conservatives back in parliament. If that does come to pass, this is a perfect time for the United Nations to investigate electoral wrongdoing while the United States applies political pressure on Iran.

Next Topic: I just don't even see why the economy is an issue for this election. Not only are the economic conditions of this country generally out of the hands of elected officials, but the economy is doing well. According to the Associated Press, "Evidence continues to build that the U.S. economy is strengthening -- including on the jobs front."

Funny Story: I was at the barber getting my hair chopped when I overheard the woman next to me say in mid conversation:

"... and so he sued him for defecation of character."

Her barber stopped cutting for a moment and just said, "Oh," at first, as if he didn't know how to respond. But then he added, "You mean defamation of character?"

"Yeah, that's it," the woman said. "What's the difference?"

"Defecation means to take a shit on something," the barber replied.

"Oh," she said. "What's defamation mean?"

The barber paused, then said, "Pretty much the same thing."

Now Need More Progress: Iran is moving backwards again. Iran's judiciary closed down two reformist newspapers on the eve of the parliamentary elections. Hopefully such heavy-handed actions on the part of the ruling class will prompt people to vote for change.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

More Progress: Iranians are letting a reform-advocating woman run on the parliamentary ballot -- a rarity in that country. And more of the Iranian people are beginning to appreciate the United States and the good that we're bringing to the Middle East.

This doesn't mean our mission is accomplished. There is still a lot of anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East. But the successes we're having there are starting to produce positive feelings among many of the younger people. And that's how you start widespread change.

Burns Burns Burns: It looks like Johnny Cash's children are posthumously saving their father's rear end. A Florida advertising company wanted to take the country legend's classic song "Ring of Fire" and use it for a hemorrhoids commercial. Luckily the kids realized that some things are more sacred than money, and promptly turned the company down down down.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Ball and Chain: A Texas Congressman is being challenged for re-election -- by his ex-wife. Hilarity ensues.

Oh, Canada, Get Over It: America's favorite show that no one watches is in a heap of controversy with the Canucks. Late, late, late-night talk-show host Conan O'Brien traveled to the barren tundra to tape his show. In one of his skits, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog heckled residents of Quebec for wanting to secede from Canada and for choosing to speak in French instead of English. Canadian politicians denounced the skit as "vile and vicious."

These people need a sense of humor. As Americans, we get heckled all the time, and we've learned to live with it. We get ripped for all the crap we produce in Hollywood. We're called imperialists (even though we don't tend to keep any colonies). People talk about how they hate, I mean hate, our president -- whoever it may be at the time. Yet, people from other countries won't share the same displeasure about Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Hell, they'll cheer Osama's name at U.S. soccer matches and say Americans deserved 9/11.

In light of all the abuse hurled in our direction, don't jeer us for making light of the situation with our Freedom Fries and U.N. bashing. We can take a ribbing, and we can dish one out, too.

Yes, we love you Canada. That Triumph Dog is nothing to be taken seriously. In fact, I'm surprised you even saw it -- no one here was watching. We also know that Canada is not really a barren tundra, just like I'm sure you know that the United States is not a polluted wasteland full of cowboys, eh?

Friday, February 13, 2004

Here We Go Again: Since Drudge ejaculated the rumor about John Kerry and his alleged affair with an "intern", it doesn't appear that any of the major media outlets in this country have decided to pick up on it.

A quick Google News search of Kerry+Affair in the past 48 hours showed only foreign news sites and alternative newspapers, such as Bayou Buzz and Men's Daily News (who?), passing along Drudge's "news". None of the major papers, from what I could see, have reported on this, but someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Unfortunately, though, the story is out there, and as the gossip gets circulated in alternative news sources and the blogosphere, the news media will begin covering it.

The news media probably won't start off by reporting on the actual affair -- no, that's beneath them. Instead they will report on whether the rumors should be reported, noting that the blogosphere is sharing the gossip incessantly, and then they will write stories about negative campaigning, repeating the "unsubstantiated rumor" indefinitely. Then, of course, the coverage will evolve into an in-depth investigation as to whether Sen. Kerry actually had the affair, complete with interviews with neighbors and friends of the alleged "intern" and whatnot.

For the record, this shouldn't be a news story. We're electing a president, not pope. These people need not be saints. Any discussion on these rumors is just a distraction from real issues.

Update: Slate's Chatterbox posts a good article (for the first time in quite awhile) about how the press will expose this story without looking like they're exposing it.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Good Guys vs. Bad Guys: Boston police officer leads team to raid a drug dealer's home. The officer gets shot, but his bulletproof vest prevents injury, so the cop keeps charging in. The drug dealer pulls his pregnant girlfriend in front of him for protection. Red dots from police officers' laser-sighted guns light up the drug dealer's face. Suspect surrenders without another shot being fired.

All in a day's work.

That '70s Obsession: Apparently we don't have enough problems to worry about today. Despite the war on terrorism and exploding budget deficits, the political types are focussing on the 1970s and Vietnam.

The Democrats and news media are taking scant evidence and blowing it out of proportion to accuse President Bush of being AWOL during his time during the National Guard. If you aren't familiar with the arguments, head on over to CalPundit and you'll see post after post about how some document is smudged in a certain way, and how that calls into question all the evidence indicating that Bush served his time and earned his honorable discharge. For added fun, scan the comment section to read all the spewing Bush hatred that's feeding this frenzy.

Republicans counter with an old photo from a Vietnam protest rally featuring Hanoi Jane Fonda standing in front of a crowd of people. In the background you can make out the image of a young John Kerry (standing, I believe, next to Waldo). While Ms. Fonda did some terrible things during that era, the two of them aren't even near each other -- hardly scandalous. Also, Drudge hyped up a quote from Kerry in his mid 20s, saying that he wants to place the U.S. military under the control of the United Nations. Somehow I suspect that in the past 30 years, Sen. Kerry has changed his mind on that issue.

Yes, unfortunately, this is going to be a nasty race after all. While these '70s issues will probably go away in due time, we're getting a taste of the unsubstantiated, exaggerated slander that we'll be hearing through November.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bigotry: President Bush is reportedly backing an amendment to the Constitution that would ban gay marriage. He has no vote in the matter, but the president is throwing the weight of the White House behind the amendment. For all his talk of Compassionate Conservatism, he's now advocating blatant discrimination.

What's worse, the amendment Bush is supporting goes further than Republicans let on. Backers say the amendment bans same-sex marriage but not civil unions. But that doesn't appear to be the case. Just look at the text of the amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
Pay attention to the wording. No state constitution, nor any state or federal law, can be interpreted to mean that unmarried couples receive the legal incidents, or benefits, of marriage.

That means a state law can explicitly say, "Two men can form a civil union and receive the same benefits that any married couple would receive." But that law could not be enforced if this amendment is added to the Constitution. This would overturn the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling. And it would probably prevent any state from passing a civil union law similar to what Vermont has.

Despite what the amendment's backers say, any judge will see that "legal incidents thereof" clause and read that marital benefits are prohibited for same-sex couples. And after the amendment passes, it doesn't matter what any politician says, it's up to the Judicial Branch to interpret the law.

What's truly disturbing is that up until this point, amendments to the Constitution have always sought to protect rights and to give people more power. From the Bill of Rights, to the 13th Amendment prohibiting slavery, to the 14th Amendment prohibiting states from infringing on their citizens' rights, to the 15th Amendment prohibiting racial discrimination when it comes to the right to vote, to the 17th Amendment allowing for citizens to have direct elections for their senators, to the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, to the 26th Amendment lowering the voting age to 18.

The only exception was the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale and consumption of liquor. And we all saw how effective prohibition was.

Now, for the first time since the three-fifths compromise, blatant discrimination is being added to the U.S. Constitution. It wasn't there before, so the right-wingers want to codify widespread prejudice against homosexuals so it will be extremely difficult for gays to ever gain basic civil rights in this country.

Whether this will actually pass, however, is another matter. Recent polls on this issue are inconsistent.

A poll by the National Annenberg Election Survey asked: "Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying that no state can allow two men to marry each other or two women to marry each other?" Of those surveyed, 49 percent opposed an amendment, while 42 percent favored it.

But an Annenberg poll asked, "Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow marriage only between a man and a woman?" Worded that way, 59 percent were in favor and 33 percent were opposed.

That's very indicative of the way people respond to positive wording ("allow marriage") versus negative wording ("no state can allow"). Even though this amendment uses positive wording, the message will get out that the amendment is introducing bigotry and discrimination into the Constitution. And considering two-thirds of the House and Senate plus three-fouths of the states need to ratify this amendment for it to become the supreme law of the land, it sounds like it has a difficult chance of passing.

This could be just a political ruse by President Bush. Constitutional amendments are always a good way to take a strong stand on an issue without doing anything meaningful. Only 17 amendments have passed in the past 200-plus years since the adoption of the Bill of Rights, and two of the amendments (concerning prohibition) cancel each other out. Proposals to ban desecration of the American Flag, and other such worthless amendments, have gone nowhere.

But Bush is deciding to make same-sex marriage an election issue, and he'll suffer the consequences, for better or worse.

By the way, The Washington Post article says this:

The White House strategy, designed to minimize alienation of moderate voters, calls for emphasizing that Bush is for traditional marriage, not against gay people.
Nice try, but you're alienating this moderate voter. Hell, and people have accused me of being a Republican, considering all my posts supporting how President Bush is fighting the war on terrorism.

Sen. Kerry, this is your chance. Stand up against this amendment, and start pledging to wield American power to defeat the terrorists and to reform the Middle East, and you might gain some more moderate supporters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Why Ask Why? Over the weekend, Howard Dean lost the endorsement of the AFSCME union. What was never given was an official explanation as to why the union was pulling its endorsement.

There's always some BS official explanation to these things (such as when somebody steps down from office for "health reasons" or "to spend time with his family" when that person has been a total screw up). But they didn't even bother this time.

We all know that the union reneged its endorsement because Howard Dean is losing. But if this has become so transparent, why do we even waste time with endorsements any more?

Howard Dean only got endorsements in the first place because early poll numbers showed him in the lead. Now that Kerry's winning the primaries, he's getting all the endorsements.

But the endorsements don't mean anything. It doesn't sway anybody's vote. When Gephardt endorsed Kerry, that was just a very public way for Gephardt to say "Kerry owes me one, and I'll be asking him for a favor later."

I guess that's helpful for us voters to see whom our elected representatives will be owing political favors. But otherwise, the news coverage seems pretty worthless.

More Positive News: Despite the casualties taken by American troops, the terrorists in Iraq are sorely losing the fight. The letter, citing the suffocating successes of the American military, is indicative of widespread desperation on the part of the terrorists.

Our action there is not only helping Iraq, but it's also progressing the war against terrorism. Al Qaeda is infiltrating Iraq to wage war against our troops. In the process, Al Qaeda is getting killed and captured.

All this, plus the first democracy in the Middle East to boot.

Troops who have come home that I've talked say they are welcomed with open arms. They're being treated as celebrities. Iraqis invite them into their homes for meals and shower them with praise -- and the people are much happier now that Saddam Hussein has been eliminated. And most importantly, the soldiers are proud of the work that they're doing.

That's not to belittle the deaths and the casualties the U.S. troops are taking. There is a small segment of terrorists there who want to kill as many Americans and Iraqis as possible. But that's why we have to keep fighting, to secure our victory.

Monday, February 09, 2004

I'm With Stupid: I'm still a little confused by all this talk of doom and gloom of the economy. Productivity has recently started skyrocketing. And job growth, which has always been a lagging indicator, is starting to increase.

Yet news stories all lead by saying that the current job growth is disappointing.

We have 5.6 unemployment rate in this country, and it's dropping. Other countries, like Germany, are seeing their unemployment rate rise to 11 percent, and continue rising.

I have argued and will continue to argue that the President of the United States has little affect on the nation's economy. So why do politicians keep bemoaning or exaggerating the economy? Why does the news media look for the worst in what are obviously rosy forecasts?

The economic condition in this country is the best in the world, and it's continuing to improve. Let's enjoy it and quit squabbling over it.

War is Hell: Democrats are criticizing President Bush for basing his campaign on 9/11. He's "politicizing" it, they say. Then the Democratic party is set to nominate a guy who is running almost solely on his Vietnam record -- both his heroic war record and his record of being an avid protestor.

Bush is looking back to 9/11. Kerry is looking back to Vietnam.

John Kerry has a right to be proud of his record, but I don't see how Vietnam is relevant to this campaign. Bush has no combat experience, but he has proven himself to be an effective wartime leader, already winning two wars in his first term.

If you believe that battlefield experience is a prerequisite to becoming Commander in Chief, then that would eliminate many of our former presidents: Clinton, Reagan, etc.

Truth is, we like to have a civilian in charge of our military. A taste of the battlefield surely gives a president empathy for the troops he's about to put into harm's way. But the president doesn't dictate the battle plans. His job is to decide when it's in America's best interest to use force, then the military guys plan and carry out the battles.

Bush was right on Meet the Press when he talked about the challenge for the next four years is to use American power effectively:

Russert: Biggest issues in the upcoming campaign?

President Bush: Who can properly use American power in a way to make the world a better place, and who understands that the true strength of this country is the hearts and souls of the American citizens, who understands times are changing and how best to have policy reflect those times.
Bush wants to use American power to defeat deadly terrorists and, in the process, bring democracy and prosperity to the Middle East. Sen. Kerry wants to fight terrorists mostly by using law enforcement and the CIA (intelligence lapses be damned). One choice uses American power for good, the other choice castrates American power by ceding authority to the United Nations.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Copyright Crackdown: The music industry still isn't learning. In the latest incident, Australian authorities have raided the KaZaA offices in that country for suspected copyright infringements.

Everybody who owns a computer knows that KaZaA does nothing that breaks copyright law. It's the millions of its users who trade songs and videos with the software that are breaking the rules.

But the record industry's practice of going after individual file traders has met only limited success. Sure, some reports have indicated that file sharing has gone down, as some people are scared of getting sued. But 3-million to 4-million file traders are still online at any one time using KaZaA.

As I said a few months ago, people still buy CDs and DVDs if the music or movies are any good. Trading some songs online is no different than copying music onto blank tapes, which I did when I was a kid. The problem is that the CDs are so expensive, and people can only afford to buy so many. The songs that I download are ones that I wouldn't have paid for to begin with.

The music industry doesn't have a choice. It's going to have to embrace changes in technology, because that's where people are going to look for music. All this other legal action is just a waste of time.

And Another: I guess I'm on the sinking-Buick beat now. Here's a story about a Wyoming man who tried to jump his old car over a pond, but didn't quite make it. According to the sheriff's deputy who arrested the 24-year-old Evel-Knievel wannabe, the driver thought "he would have made it had he built a ramp."

This is the second old Buick that's ended up sinking in a body of water in a matter of days. I know people refer to those old cars as boats, but that's not supposed to be taken literally.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Clean Up: A writer for the group,, has come to the conclusion that the "Stand By Your Ad" portion of the McCain-Feingold law has reduced political attacks that you usually see in negative ads. While far from getting rid of attack ads altogether, this primary season seems to bring fewer than normal. And the attacks are even milder. All because the law requires candidates to appear on the screen and mutter, "I approved this message," now candidates are reluctant to sling mud for fear of getting caught with dirty hands.

But the article states that independent groups are not affected by the law and can still produce crass, deceitful, hateful ads. I still argue that these attacks are ineffective. But maybe this campaign-finance-reform law will tame slightly what could otherwise be a nasty battle in a very close election.

FYI: is a nonpartisan organization that double-checks politicians' ads and speeches to reveal when somebody is lying and distorting the truth. From what I've seen, the group seems to do a good job.

They sunk a car? Some Cubans have been trying to sneak into this country by floating across the water in a '59 Buick. I'm not sure how they got the thing to float, but this isn't the first time they've tried this. A few years ago, the Coast Guard caught them bobbing in the ocean on top of a Chevy flatbed truck.

According to The Miami Herald, the Coast Guard sunk the Buick and repatriated the Cubans.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

From this day Forward: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that setting up a separate arrangement called "civil unions" for gay couples is not good enough. Gays have a right to full-fledged "marriage" just like everybody else.

I love this quote: "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," the court states.

I personally don't know what the difference is between "civil unions" and "marriage". And because I can't find a difference, I don't think there should be one. When two people love each other and agree to commit to each other for life, that is a marriage. No law can stop it from happening, no matter the race, creed, color, religion, or sexual orientation of the people involved. The only thing government does is provide legal protection for the people in the relationship. And the government should not discriminate against anyone in providing that protection.

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering passing an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage. But the earliest they could get one passed is 2006, and the Supreme Judicial Court says the legislature has to pass a law by May that allows gays to get married.

So it's going to happen, finally. Then, maybe, all the other states will see that there's nothing to worry about after all.

Heads Up: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev plans to copyright the birthmark on his forehead. Apparently a vodka company has been placing images of the famous pigmentation on its liquor bottles, and Gorby wants to put a stop to it.

Better Still: It's one thing for the president to talk about cutting spending. It's another to get Congress to go along.

Congressional Republicans have said that Bush's proposed budget doesn't go far enough to reign in spending. They want to look at the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to make sure no money is being wasted there either.

I'm still skeptical that we're going to see any significant reduction in an election year. But at least the rhetoric is finally in the right place.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Not as Shocking: Janet Jackson's boob moment at the Super Bowl was the "most replayed moment" ever among folks who use TiVo, the company said. I'm sure those people were offended each and every time they hit rewind.

Repeat Attack? Luckily, no one appears to have gotten hurt by the ricin that was discovered at the U.S. Capitol. But the incident should bring back attention to another matter. What ever happened to the investigation of the anthrax attacks from a few years ago that shut down some Capitol offices and even killed a few people?

The anthrax mailings came at the heels of 9/11. But as far as we could tell, it was a separate incident. I'd like to know where that investigation stands and whether the case will ever be solved.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Aimless Searching: I've got a bad feeling about this investigation into the intelligence failures and missing WMD.

If the intelligence community screwed up as badly as it appears, then we need to find out why and how so we can fix the problem. But unfortunately, I'm afraid this probe is only going to lead to partisan sniping. While it's always difficult to get our two parties to put the national good ahead of politics, there's an even bigger problem this year: We're about to elect a president.

Democrats are going to scrounge for every piece of dirt that ties Bush to the screw-up. Republicans are going to worry more about defending the president than figuring out what went wrong.

We saw the same thing happen immediately after 9/11. Democrats blew scant evidence out of proportion and accused Bush of knowing about the hijackings beforehand. Now Republicans are wary about launching an investigation to find out why we couldn't stop terror attacks from occurring. They know that any information, rightly or wrongly, will be used to implicate the president.

It's a shame that the political parties resort to this nonsense. It's up to the voters to send a message that we don't want politicians to look for ammunition. We want them to find answers.

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