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January 29, 2006

RINO Sightings for Jan 29!

The RINOs have been sighted! (actually, they're not that hard to spot, as they are scrambling to be noticed.) We have a good crop of free-ranging opinion and observation this week, as is traditional for the Sightings. Thanks to all the RINOs who submitted a post. Good stuff all around.

Dan Melson of Searchlight Crusade checks in with thoughts on the Alito nomination.  Dan is pulling for a filibuster (cause he thinks it will backfire big time...)

A Typical Joe submits his argument for adding Bible Study in the Public Schools. There's a part1 post as well here. The idea is to teach the Bible as an important piece of literature, which it is. I took a similar class 30+ years ago in a very secular private school and liked it. The religious angle makes this a extra-steamy hot potato issue, so I'm not holding my breath waiting for Bible classes in California schools.

AJ Strata of Stata-Sphere is wondering why some would try to "wage war with warrants and subpoenas."  AJ suggests we let the NSA do its job. Funny how as long as the NSA does its job and keeps terrorists from mounting attacks in the US, people can complain about their activity. If they back off, however, and an attack occurs, the same folks will complain about their inactivity. As you might have guessed, this issue only exists to create headlines, (or to try to create headlines.)  AJ astutely points out that so far only a hurricane has made it through the security net.

Tom Hanna of Tom Rants is ranting this week on the relative death rates of abortion and terrorism. He wonders, "How Big a Threat is Terrorism?" Its an interesting perspective, at least from the point of view of the society in general. For an adult like me, many decades past any personal risk of abortion, terrorism seems the larger threat.

Legal Redux has prepared a review of the thinking on whether the unborn are  "persons" under the 14th amendment. As you might expect, there are differing opinions. Redux if not a fan of either Justice Blackmun's or Justice Douglas' reasoning.  These are difficult ideas to think about, for many folks, and the attempt to create a legal framework where there is no clear science or opinion results in some twisted logic. One way the Roe decision has hurt the country is to prevent us from engaging in a painful but very necessary debate on points like this.

While were reading Law Blogs, So Cal Lawyer has found that at least one lawyer is responding to the revelations about the "autobiography" of James Frey. Said lawyer want to be compensated (of course) for time lost reading a biography that isn't. So Cal is shocked, but i can't say I'm surprised. In fact, I'm surprised its only one lawyer who has had this idea.

Ya know, we don't talk enough about Barry Goldwater these days. Reagan has become the icon for the conservatives, but Barry is certainly good for a quote now and then. Barry Campbell at enrevanche has some fine words from the other Barry on the subject of tyranny (with some word about equality as well.) 

Despite all the political controversy to talk about, Dean Esmay manages to find a contrarian view on the one issue about which there is no controversy! Dean does not find that commenters are nearly as uncouth as others say. Dean attracts a pretty classy sorta commenter, most days, but that may be a reflection on the quality of his blog, and his well reasoned, centrist positions. Other blogs attract a different sort, alas.

You know Eric Scheie in "in da house" when you see a post headlined, "Toilets and other Windows of opportunity." Believe it or not, the post concerns economic policy!  Apparently, Toilets are the current theme at Classical Values, and in this post Eric muses on the impact of government regulation on toilets, where regulation has been good for the manufacturers.

Over at Right Thoughts, Jim K. is feeling down on Wikipedia, now that Congressional staff members are practicing their "spin" on its pages, but feels a bit better about Google.

While Googe and China are getting friendly, the US and Germany are feeling less cozy these days. Alex Schoellkopf gets to observe US-German relations from a neutral position in Switzerland, and has some observations on " Why German-American relations are so poor." Apparently its a combination of German guilt over the 20th century and German envy of the French and their well-developed anti-Americanism. The blog is "Pigilito". btw.

Things are not so friendly on the US/Mexican border these days either. Diggers Realm has the dirt on accusations that American troops are impersonating the Mexican army.  Oh yea, I'm sure it happens all the time.

I can't believe it took this long to come up with a post on the House leadership race! Restless Mania admires how craftily Roy Blunt has lost the support of the right-wing bloggers. Not a good start for the likely next leader.

Scott Welch, the Environmental Republican, is looking towards the State of the Union address. Actually, its the "wishful thinking" from Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Dick Polman that has caught Scott's attention. Dick figures the Pres need to "restoke enthusiasm among restive conservatives." ("Restoke" (?) huh? Dick could have just said "stoke" but "restoke" sounds cooler, I guess.)

We are all over the conceptual map this week in the "Sightings." Here's a post from "J.D." at Evolution that starts with a rather confusing (and confused) message from a reader, who seems to very amused at his own comment (Lots of LOL's), that seems to say that thermodynamics makes evolution impossible. J.D. does some research and finds that this is not the first time this odd bit of confusion has surfaced.

Mark Coffey, who writes at Decision '08,  is posting about a different election this week. He has some questions for the big winners in this week's Palestinian election. Will Hamas still be Hamas, now that they are leaders too?

The Commissar has a suggestion for "The   10 words that Democrats should use to define their message ." It's a stirring slogan, sure to win votes (but not here in the U.S.)


This week's RINO Sightings closes out with a word from Orac of Respectful Insolence. Orac finds a picture from last week's big dual protest in San Francisco a bit irritating. I'm sure he's not alone. (I've seen some of the S.F. protests in person and the pictures don't do them justice. Very scary)

Thanks again to all the RINO's who contributed. A remarkable range of subject matter this week.

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Posted by Jay on January 29, 2006 at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 25, 2006

RINO Sightings - Coming Soon!

The Raging RINOs are gathering once again, for the weekly "sightings" carnival, and this week it's hosted here at Radical Centrist. If you're a RINO looking to be heard, get your submissions to radcen@theradicalcentrist.com by 6pm Pacific tomorrow (Sunday.)

What with the final "debate" underway on the Alito nomination, and the Republican House leadership up for grabs, there should be plenty to blog about, so get your submissions in!

Posted by Jay on January 25, 2006 at 03:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

When its "liberal" to conserve

This week in The Corner, Rod Dreyer, author of the soon-to-be-released, Crunchy Cons, has been engaged in a mini-debate with his fellow Cornerites. Rod wonders why conservatives, and the Republican party, have allowed themselves to become the anti-environment party. (see other entries on this subject here and here.)

In north Texas, the environment is not really a liberal vs. conservative issue, but a civic issue. I asked Judge Keliher yesterday why she, as a conservative Republican, has gotten active to fight industry for cleaner air. Now, Judge Keliher is very far from the kind of goo-goo Republican you find in--how to put this?--wetter climes. She replied that for one thing, it's about health, and health-care costs. For another, it's about creating a good business climate--companies don't want to move to a region that's got bad air and the health problems that go with it. And then there's the family values thing--Judge Keliher said that she's tired of seeing little children around here having to run to the sidelines during soccer games to use their inhalers. All of these are ways to think about the environment that resonate with conservative Republican voters. If I were sitting at the RNC in Washington right now, thinking about this fall's election, I'd spend a half hour on the phone with Judge Keliher and talk about this stuff. It's foolish to let the Democrats have this issue all to themselves--and by the way, enlightened environmentalists are starting to realize how foolish they've been to put all their hopes on the Democratic Party, and are now reaching out to conservatives. All to the good, say I.

I have said before, that I really don't understand why the time-honored traditional values of stewardship and conservation of resources came to be seen as "liberal causes." Most likely its just a reflex reaction to the liberal support of some of the environmental causes. Some of those folks are over-reacting, misguided and probably more politically motivated than ecologically motivated, that is true, but to be manuevered into an inti-environment stance is to fall into the same trap that the Democrats have dropped into on the war against terror. Wen you oppose something just because your opponent is for it, you allow your opponents to stake an easy claim to some important issues.

There are ways for Republicans, including the conservatives, to work for a healthier environment and good stewardship of the natios resources, and do it better than the eco-crazies. Don't attack the cause, attack your opponent's misguided efforts behind the cause. (In the same way, Democrats missed the opportunity to attack the administration's handling of the terrorism threat and have instead become enemies of American security.)

Commonly these environmental issues get framed as jobs and business issues, but that is often a narrow and short-term way of thinking. Preserving one business blocks the development of another, and businesses, like the neighboring residents, will eventually suffer the effects of environmental degredation and depletion of resources. Note the quote from Judge Keliher above, "companies don't want to move to a region that's got bad air and the health problems that go with it."

When you deplete your fisheries, the whole region loses jobs, when you draw down your aquifers, the local economy suffers, when resident realize that the the air and water in the town hur ttheir children, land values collapse. The west is filled with ghost towns where at one time unquestioned pro-business politics was practiced. Good businesses, long-lasting businesses, need political leaders who are sensible and capable stewards, not brainless yes-men.

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Posted by Jay on January 21, 2006 at 03:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2006

Losing for the cause

Armed Liberal takes on an easy target, the California Republican Party. It is hard to imagine that this is the state that produced Ronald Reagan, the trends have all been towards the Democrats for some time, not due to any brilliance from the Democrats. The Republicans in this state are quite pleased to lose an election in order to remain ideologically pure. I put that question a while back to the party chairman and got that answer. They have long seen their mission to "represent conservatism" and not to "win elections." The truth is, being out-of-office is a comfortable gig. The big donors toss money your way, and you have little responsibility, you just oppose. Being in-office is hard work, especially in California, and tends to lead one into compromises and deals that upset the ideologues. "What's the point in winning", one said, "if you have to abandon your beliefs?" Why they cannot make deals in the legislature and still hold on to their beliefs I cannot say, but clearly the idea of making good policy that includes most but not all of your platform is not appealing to some folks.

The issue now is our current governor's willingness to work with people in the other party (you know, the one with the overwhelming majority.) Having blundered into victory they are eager to get back to their losing ways. Here's how Armed Liberal put it.

Here's the deal, Republicans. You've managed, in a historic accident, to elect a moderate to the governorship of California, a state where the money and concentration of votes are still in the deep blue Bay Area and core of Los Angeles. The likely candidates that will replace him are both liberals.

Either you share the Kossak's delusional belief that everyone secretly agrees with you, and that the masses, once led by your revolutionary ardor, will rise up!...or you just like getting your asses kicked.

I'm beginning to hope they do push Arnold out and he runs instead as an independent, or third party candidate. The Democrats would likely win a three-way, but Arnold could certainly out poll the loser these folks will run. Remember, this is the team that allowed Barbara Boxer into the Senate. A three-way could be nicely destabilizing. Make things interesting, that's for sure.

(And...speaking of delusional..how 'bout them House Republicans? They're going to abandon leadership and it isn't even about ideology! Just money and influence. Wow!

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Posted by Jay on January 20, 2006 at 10:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Condi is remaking State

Sec. of State Condi Rice continues to impress. Austin Bay looks at recently announced changes at the State Dept. Rice want to move the overly Eurocentric diplomatic corp towards the important areas of the 21st century world. Being focused on Europe doesn't seem to have helped much. This quote comes from the Washington Post:

The State Department’s culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. “The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them,” she said. “The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power.”

This is important insight. Conflict in this new century are more likely to develop between ideologies that nations. Groups that work within and across national boundaries are increasingly more important, and to be sensitive to those developments we need people who are working out where the action is. Staying close to the black-tie crowd in a European capital won't accomplish that.

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January 17, 2006

Does the House leadership race matter?

NZ.Bear, of The Truth Laid Bear, has hosted a petition from what they describe as "Center-Right" bloggers to support a program of real reform in the House leadership. Rusty Shackleford of My Pet Jawa fame, has a counterproposal. Rusty feels that the premise behind Bear's petition is "silly and meaningless." If I am understanding him properly, he feels that influence and corruption are just not important, as long as they (the Congress) are doing the right things, "right things" in this case, being the policies that Rusty supports. It's not such a radical idea, I suppose. If I can put words into Rusty's mouth, he is saying, "what do I care if they get some lobbyist to pay for things, as long as they take care of the country's problems." Of course, on The Jawa Report he says it a bit more colorfully...

Give me 435 unethical, whoremongering, immoral, back room elected Congressman committed to limited government. Keep your transparency. I will gladly let my Congressman get away with just about anything in exchange for protecting me from the bad guys of the world and keeping his grubby paws out of my pockets. Let their paws remain in the pockets of whoever is trying to bribe them. Better their's than mine.

That quote is a bit unfair. It's the punchy soundbite of the piece, but Rusty's argument is a bit more "nuanced" than that. He argues that the current scandal grossly exaggerates the level of "corruption" involved, pointing out that these Representatives did not pocket money themselves, they spent it. Of course, they spent it assuring their own vise-like grip on power, so it's not like they used it to feed the starving.

What Rusty wants is a creature that does not exist, or is exceedingly rare. Politico's who are "immoral, back-room-elected" do not care about "limited government" except as a buzz-phrase for the stump speech. In office they care only for their own immoral backsides and the people in that back-room. You want to know why a supposedly conservative Congress can spend like a drunk? It's because they are drunk, drunk on lobby money and such.

Despite the regular calls to "throw the bums out!", there is virtually no overturn of incumbents these days. Voters are eager to see "the bums" turned out, but are equally sure that their guy is not one of the bums. Congresspeople are much nicer in person than their reputation would have you believe, and they work hard (their staffs work insanely hard). Americans generally do not send corrupt people to Congress, but the system that has evolved in Washington is terribly corrupting. People who ought to know better slowly get drawn into actions and behaviors and relationships that shame them. Some wake-up to it and quit. Others slowly change while the old friends at home wonder what happened to their champion.

And even if the Abramoff scandal is not all that real a crisis, perception matters a lot in politics. The other problem with the unethical and immoral is that they are eventually unelectable. Cleaning up the House leadership will not assure that the House will be "committed to winning the war on terror and getting the hell out of [Rusty's] life" (and mine), that's true, but failure to do so will assure that they won't be, 'cause they will be Democrats.

I don't know enough about Shadegg to support him with reasoning beyond the fact that he is new on the scene and an underdog. I suspect he's much more conservative than I, but there is no use wishing for a centrist majority leader, it isn't going to happen. Anything that upsets the overly comfortable applecart of the old leadership pleases me.

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Posted by Jay on January 17, 2006 at 08:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2006

Ya' knew Peggy Noonam would say it best.

A month ago I decided to treat myself to a news-fast. It's very healthy for the soul, you know. I liked it so much that I have continued to stay completely free of television news since then, and I am a happier man for it. Especially when the Senate is questioning a judicial nominee; that's when avoiding televised coverage can save your sanity. There are people with stronger nerves (or stomachs) than I who did observe the sad spectacle and reported it to the rest of us, a courageous public service, so I have some sense of what went on. When people in my very liberal neighborhood express amazement that a fellow like George Bush can be re-elected, I need only remind them of the quality of his opposition. That a fine state like Massachusetts, my birthplace and family's ancestral home, cannot produce better, is more than I can believe. Perhaps it's time to revisit term limits for the Senate; clearly the power of the incumbent is too strong. I had intended not to get myself started on this subject...I had better turn the commentary over to Peggy Noonan, who is more tolerant of this foolishness than I. Typically, she has a way of putting things exactly right.
Judge Alito and the White House know they have to let these men talk. They don't want the senators to feel resentful or frustrated. They know each senator feels he has to play to his base. They know the senators are, by nature, like Conair 2000 hairdryers: They just love to blow, and hard. Fwwaaaaahhhhhhhhh. And they know it is good, it is helpful, to let each senator reveal himself through his own words. I think senators feel that their words, when strung together, become little bridges. I think the White House feels that their words, when strung together, become little nooses.
Noonan makes an additional point that ought to catch the eye of the bloggers...
The Democrats on the committee seemed forlorn in a way, as if they knew deep in their hearts that nobody's listening. Two decades ago they could make their speeches and fake their indignation and accuse a Robert Bork of being a racist chauvinist woman hater and their accusations would ring throughout the country. But now the media they relied on have lost their monopoly. Everyone who's fired at gets to fire back, shot for shot.
Could the days of the Senatorial blowhard be at an end? I'll believe that when I see it, but it's a nice dream, no? PS: Here's an idea! Before a Senator can sit on the Judicial Committee let's require him or her to be questioned, on television, before that panel of distinguished judges that appeared at the witness table yesterday. Think about Teddy facing eight or nine crack Federal judges all alone. That would be fun to watch. Let's see them defend their own legal expertise and "temperament."

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Posted by Jay on January 13, 2006 at 11:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An appeal from center-right bloggers

Illness and other issues have kept me away from the blog for a while, but this is worth coming back for. NZBear and a crowd of distinguished bloggers from the right and center-ish part of the 'sphere have posted an online petition asking the House Republicans to find some backbone and try a bit of meaningful reform. I'm pleased to be able to add this blog to the list.

An Appeal from Center Right Bloggers.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

As for the Republican leadership elections, we hope to see more candidates who will support these goals, and we therefore welcome the entry of Congressman John Shadegg to the race for Majority Leader. We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate. And we hope all would-be members of the leadership make themselves available to new media to answer questions now and on a regular basis in the future.

Follow the link above to add your voice. We may not have much influence, but at least we are speaking up.

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Posted by Jay on January 13, 2006 at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack