Saturday, April 08, 2006

Defending Democrats

As a rule, I don't feel compelled to jump up and defend every statement made by every Democrat or outspoken liberal on the planet.

Whether the verbal perpetrator is Al Sharpton or Michael Moore or Cindy Sheehan, I'm more likely to shrug and say 'so what' when someone complains about something they said that has stirred up criticism from the right. It's not like these people are in any kind of elected or elevated position within the Democratic Party.

Even when it is an elected Democrat, like Rep. Cynthia McKinney, I would still point out that she has little to no influence within the party.

Now if the offending bit of verbage sprang from the mouth of Howard Dean, John Kerry, Al Gore, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi, then there is more of a necessity to offer a defense, or at least a clarification that one does not always agree with everything the party bosses have to say.

But on the whole, those of us among the 62 percent of Americans who think Bush is doing a lousy job as president don't always agree on the fine points and the details.

Kerry's little 10-point plan

John Kerry has been on the attack recently starting with this op-ed piece in the NY Times and now today a report of sharply criticizing the Bush administration at a political conference in New York.

"The Bush administration is wondering when Iraq will have a functioning government. I want to know when we're going to have a functioning government," Mr. Kerry said.

The Times article says at one point Kerry offered a "little 10-point plan" for Democrats in response to criticisms that they don't have an agenda for the nation. I thought the list, while obviously needing more details on most points, does a good job of summarizing the key differences and areas of dispute between Democrats and Republicans today.
Here is the plan:

1. Tell the truth.
2. Fire the incompetents.
3. Find Osama bin Laden and secure our ports and our homeland.
4. Bring our troops home from Iraq.
5. Obey the law and protect our civil rights.
6. Support health care
7. Support education
8. Support lobbying reform
9. Support alternatives to oil
10. Reduce the deficit.

Friday, April 07, 2006

A fickle fan

I should have learned long ago to base my sports allegiances on the teams and the cities rather than on the individual players. That way I wouldn’t get soured on a sport each year when I learn that half the players I liked are no longer on my favorite team. Some people are diehard fans of a team every year regardless of who is on the team - Cubs fans and Red Sox fans tend to be like that. But I would always get too attached to individual players such that when they left, so did my loyalty for the team.

I suppose I’ve always rooted for the Texas teams because it was my home state, but calling them my favorites would be a stretch. Growing up on military bases and moving around the country in the 1970s made it hard to form an attachment with struggling teams like the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers and the Houston Oilers. For one thing, I rarely got to see them play since we lived so far away, and secondly they had no standout players back then and never were in contention for a pennant or a Super Bowl.
The Dallas Cowboys were the exception. Roger Staubach was my hero and the fact that he played for a Texas team made it easy to call them my favorites.
But baseball was another story. My favorite team from my youth was the Cincinnatti Reds because I loved Johnny Bench and Pete Rose. At the time, my father was stationed at Grissom AFB in Indiana and I could often see games featuring the Reds on TV. But I never had any connection to Cincinnatti, so when the Big Red Machine was dismantled in the latter part of the ‘70s I lost interest in the team.

I didn’t really have a “favorite” team again until 1998 when Chuck Knoblauch was traded to the New York Yankees. I had a personal connection with Knoblauch in that we both attended Texas A&M at the same time where I got to see him play and he had been one of my wife’s high school classmates at Bellaire High School in Houston. During Knoblauch’s first year in the majors in 1991 he helped the Minnesota Twins win the World Series and was voted Rookie of the Year. When he went to the Yankees, something seemed to click with the team and they went on to win three World Series championships in a row in dominating fashion.
So for a while I was a big time Yankees fan. Even after Knoblauch had his throwing problems (and ended up being benched and then traded to Kansas City where he ended his career in obsurity,) I continued to root for the Yankees because I had become attached to the other players on the team - Paul O’Neil, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez, and so on.

But once again I am torn. The Yankees are still a good team with a lot of great players (but not the chemistry they had in ‘98-’00), but the only people left from the time I was a big fan are Jeter, Posada and Bernie Williams (on the verge of retirement). Even the coaching staff has changed with the exception of Joe Torre.
So do I continue rooting for the Yankees, or find someone else? (I had considered becoming a Texas Rangers fan a while back, but then they turned around the next year and traded Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, etc. and I said the heck with it.)
Last year I decided to root for the Astros in earnest. I thought it was pretty neat when they picked up Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens from the Yankees so I decided to follow them for a while. Until San Antonio gets a team, the Astros are the closest thing to a home team for me now so I will keep rooting for them. But they haven’t risen to the level where they would replace the Big Red Machine or the ‘98-’00 Yankees in my estimation.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A&M gets Hammered

I knew there was a reason why I never liked Tom DeLay from the first time I heard of him.

Wikipedia has this interesting tidbit from DeLay’s past:

“...he had previously been expelled from Baylor University for drinking and vandalism (he was caught painting a building at Texas A&M green and gold, Baylor's colors).”

I wonder which building he was defacing? It’s a wonder he didn’t get strung up by the students after he was caught.

Just to put this in perspective, DeLay got a deferrment from the draft so that he could attend Med school at Baylor where he drank, partied and ultimately got kicked out. While there, he decided to vandalize the school (A&M) that was training many of the military officers who would fight in the war he was avoiding.

Years later, DeLay was apparently still resentful of the school that caught him vandalizing its property as well as the school that kicked him out over that incident. Speaking to a group attending a conference at First Baptist Church in Pearland, DeLay advised them not to send their kids to Baylor or A&M. Why? Because in DeLay’s opinion they aren’t good Christian schools since they don’t teach creationism.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Virginian

Speaking of rats and sinking ships...
All good liberals are doing the Snoopy dance today to celebrate another great victory for the forces of light and goodness.

Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House Republican leader so powerful he was nicknamed "The Hammer," said Tuesday he will resign from Congress and drop out of his re-election race to protect his congressional seat from a Democratic victory.

In a videotaped announcement, DeLay credits liberal Democrats with his decision to turn tail and scurry away.

"I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative personal campaign," DeLay said.

While I would love to take full credit for this, this is just another dodge by the master of political manipulation. If you watched the video, you may have noticed DeLay’s lips moving which is usually a good indication that he is lying.
The truth of the matter is that with his second close aide now being fitted for an orange jumpsuit, DeLay will be needing to focus all of his attention on keeping his butt out of jail.

Meanwhile, it looks like DeLay is not only vacating his Congressional seat, he is abandoning the great state of Texas and changing his permanent residency to Virginia. This is apparently a manuever to allow Republicans to pick a replacement for his spot on the Nov. general election ballot.

(DeLay) said he will change his legal residence to his condominium in Alexandria, Va., from his modest two-story home on a golf course here in the 22nd District of Texas. "I become ineligible to run for election if I'm not a resident of the state of Texas," he said, turning election law to his purposes for perhaps on last time. State Republican officials will then be able to name another Republican candidate to face Democrat Nick Lampson, a former House members who lost his seat in a redistricting engineered by DeLay.

It’s just as well. As the Dixie Chicks might say, I was always embarrassed that Tom DeLay was from Texas. Good riddance.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Doing what he does best

President Bush was out today doing something that I fully support. He was throwing out the first pitch of the new baseball season.
As a former part-owner of a Major League Baseball franchise, I think Bush is imminently suited to this task and therefore I’d like to suggest that he make throwing out first pitches the priority of his administration for the rest of his term. He should plan on throwing out the first pitch at every game throughout the entire season. This will keep him fairly busy, so he will need to pass on those other bothersome tasks of governing to someone else. Deadeye Dick Cheney is clearly not mentally or emotionally stable enough for such a task, so I say let Condi have a go at it. Lord knows she couldn’t do a worse job and it will also give her the practice she needs so she can be ready to run against Hillary in 2008.
This shift of priorities would also help improve Bush’s dismal poll ratings which might even hit the 50 percent mark again before he leaves office.
Take my advice, Mr. President! Let’s Play Ball!!!

Broken contracts

My conservative friend Bill Crawford now has a regular gig writing a weekly column for National Review Online that purports to show all the good things happening in Iraq that the “mainstream media” has allegedly failed to report on.
I think that is wonderful for Bill and I offer him my hearty congratulations.

But what I don’t understand is why Bill and all the other ardent war supporters aren’t pulling their hair out over stories like this one.

BAGHDAD -- A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq is running out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.

Is that the best we can do!?! Two years and $200 million and they can only complete 20 out of 142 health clinics as promised?
And apparently the Bush administration is fine with it. We are going to pay the contractor, Parsons Inc., the full amount and not hold them accountable for the unfinished work. Furthermore, we apparently have no plans to expend any more funds to have the work completed. Officials in Iraq are just hoping some foreign donors will step in and help fill the gaps.

I said a while back that Bush does not deserve the credit he has been given for rebuilding Iraq because it is clear that he never intended to commit the kind of financial resources necessary to do the job. Bush and Co. were half expecting the Iraq invasion to go something like the invasion of Grenada, a painless exercize meant only to boost Republican electoral prospects for the upcoming mid-term elections. What they got was an extended Vietnam-like quagmire that has engulfed all of our military resources and threatens to drag on for countless years to come.

Kevin Drum at Political Animal calls the war supporters’ bluff today, demanding to know specifically what they are willing to do to “win” this war.

So: what's the plan, hawks? "Whatever it takes" is just cheap talk. Are you suggesting higher taxes to fund a dramatic increase in military end strength? A draft? A ground invasion of Iran? A permanent military occupation of the entire Middle East?

Because that's probably what it would take. Right now, nearly a thousand Iraqis are dying every month, the per capita equivalent of about 100,000 deaths per year if this were taking place in the United States. And keep in mind that this is the result of a mere low level civil war, not the real thing. What happens when full scale civil war breaks out and the U.S. military is stuck in the middle?

What's the plan then?

No, Kevin, of course they would never raise taxes. Republicans don’t raise taxes, they just raise the debt limit.