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Friday, January 06, 2006

Top 10 RINOs (Republicans in Name Only)
Our very own Mike Castle made the list.

The full list (see the article for how they earned this "honor"):

1. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.)
2. Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine)
3. Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.)
4. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine)
5. Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.)
6. Gov. George Pataki (N.Y.)
7. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (N.Y.)
8. Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.)
9. Rep. Michael Castle (Del.)
10. Rep. Jim Leach (Iowa)

(I have some qualms about Romney being on the list. I haven't studied his career in detail, but I'm mindful of the fact he's in Massachusetts with veto-proof majorities of Democrats controlling both houses. He has to watch what he says. He's held the line on taxes and spending. This is a bit of a cheap shot, probably designed to hurt his potential Presidential aspirations.)

Delaware Blogs
I finally got around to adding a list of Delaware blogs to the left navigation bar. No excuse for it, just lazy. In keeping with the laziness theme:
1) The list was taken from the Colossus of Rhodey, so I didn't have to type it myself.
2) If a site was already listed under "Daily Blogs," I left it there.

Maryamie: In Defense of Geeks or Ten Reasons Why You Should Date a Geek
A subject that's near and dear to my heart....

OpinionJournal - Featured Article
More broadly, however, the Abramoff scandal wouldn't resonate nearly as much with the public if it didn't fit a GOP pattern of becoming cozy with Beltway mores. The party that swept to power on term limits, spending restraint and reform has become the party of incumbency, 6,371 highway-bill "earmarks," and K Street. And it's no defense to say that Democrats would do the same. Of course Democrats would, but then they've always claimed to be the party of government. If that's what voters want, they'll choose the real thing.

One danger now is that, rather than change their own behavior, Republicans will think they can hide behind the political cover of "lobbying reform." While this has various guises, most proposals amount to putting further restrictions not on Congress but on "the right of the people . . . to petition the government," as the Constitution puts it explicitly.

Lobbyists per se aren't the problem; most of them are hired to protect Americans from a federal government that wants to take more of their money or freedom. Mr. Abramoff could make so much hay with Indian tribes only because he and they knew that Congress had given Washington the power to make or break fortunes simply by rediscovering "lost" tribes and giving them the power to sponsor casino gambling. The root of the scandal is this Beltway discretion and its misuse, not the lobbyists who attempt to protect their own interests.
Exactly. As I said here, money isn't the problem. Government power is the problem.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

kare11.com :: KARE 11 TV - Robertson says Sharon's stroke is God's punishment
The Reverend Pat Robertson says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke could be God's punishment for giving up Israeli territory.

The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network told viewers of "The 700 Club" that Sharon was "dividing God's land," even though the Bible says doing so invites "God's enmity."

Robertson added, "I would say woe to any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course."

He noted that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Robertson said God's message is, "This land belongs to me. You'd better leave it alone."
I've said this before: Pat Robertson should just shut up and go away.

The Visionary
Like both of his predecessors, Pope Benedict speaks from a mountaintop far above the shabbiness of political debate. Benedict is different. Our comfortable, one-size-fits-all labels of “liberal” and “conservative” wash right off him. He is neither peacenik nor hawk, neither in Darfur nor Iraq.

His goal is not simply to end a conflict here or there. In fact, what he seeks is not a goal at all. It is hope: “hope for a more serene world, a world in which more and more individuals and communities are committed to the paths of justice and peace.”

We need this message because we need a visionary. We need a prophet to condemn ballooning military expenditure and the flourishing international arms trade and weigh them on the balance against the young lives they snuff out daily in petty conflicts worldwide. We need a prophet to remind us that politically-driven efforts to “maximize historical and cultural differences” between peoples and, if you will, civilizations, is a lie about our common destiny as members of our human family: goodbye realpolitik. We need a “conservative” stalwart who supports the troops “engaged in the delicate work of resolving conflicts and restoring the necessary conditions for peace” and condemns terrorism vigorously. We need a “liberal” crusader against nuclear stockpiling, reminding us that “tactical considerations” and political posturing blind us to the common sense that it is a mind-bogglingly senseless and self-destructive endeavor. We need a visionary with this transcendent slogan: “Peace cannot be reduced to the simple absence of armed conflict.”

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan
If the problem with government is that it is run by people and not, as James Madison put it, angels, the problem with big government is that it is run by a lot of people who are not angels. They can, together and in the aggregate, do much mischief. They can and inevitably will produce a great deal of injustice, corruption and heartlessness.
This is a point I've made before, not sure if I've said on this blog or not, though: As long as government has the power to make people lots of money, there will be people willing to try illegal and unethical things to get that money. The only way to drive money out of politics is to drive government out of money.

If, for a couple thousand dollars spread around to the proper congressmen, someone can get themselves hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, they'll do it. Setting up rules to prevent them from doing so in a manner to which their accustomed will just lead them to find new ways of doing it. (And laws don't prevent improper dealings as the case of the now-resigned "Duke" Cunningham shows us.) The only way to prevent people from trying to make money through the government once and for all is to make political donations a bad investment: reduce the ability of government to give people money by reducing its power.

ESPN.com - MLB - Phillies add ex-Mariner Franklin to rotation

The Phillies play their home games in a home run stadium (13% more home runs). (Granted, they're moving the fence in left out and making it higher, but I don't think that will change much.) Franklin played his home games in a stadium that depressed home runs(-21%). Fire, meet gasoline.

Even in the pitcher friendly Safeco Stadium (14.6% fewer runs, Citizens Bank park increased scoring 2.4%), Franklin (career stats) still only managed ERAs of 4.90 and 5.10 in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Plus, he'll be 33. A bit old to expect him to put it together.

Hopefully, he's not guaranteed a spot in the rotation. We've got some young guys I'd like to see get a shot. (Floyd, Tejeda, Madson, Brito, Hamels later in the year if he puts it together)

(Park effect statistics via ESPN.)

UPDATE: I forgot: He also tested positive for steroids last year. If he was that bad on the juice, what'll he be like without it?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More Than Our Father
Also Creator and Almighty. And how those titles should impact our faith.

"Where there are no good works, there is no faith. If works and love do not blossom forth, it is not genuine faith, the Gospel has not yet gained a foothold, and Christ is not yet rightly known." —Martin Luther

"[A]ll men were created to busy themselves with labor for the common good." —John Calvin

"Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." —Mark Twain

"[Thomas] Jefferson believed that 'no man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session,' so he wisely insisted that the capital be built in malarial swampland. Consequently, the seat of the government remained empty for nearly half the year. Today, thanks in part to the unintended consequences of air-conditioning, we have permanent government of career politicians, a thing the founders never intended and which sees no natural boundary to its authority." —Jonah Goldberg

"If we allow a guest-worker program to pass, it will be 1986 all over again—amnesty first, enforcement never, and an unending wave of illegal immigration. Strict enforcement is the only way to stop illegal immigration. Sadly, that won't happen until the White House and congressional leaders stop seeing illegal immigration as a political problem to be finessed rather than an invasion to be stopped." —Rep. J.D. Hayworth

"The American creed is the keystone of American national identity; but it requires a culture to sustain it. The republican task is to recognize the creed's primacy, the culture's indispensability, and the challenge, which political wisdom alone can answer, to shape a people that can live up to its principles." —Charles Kesler

"The Washington Post on Friday reported the existence of a massive covert program within the CIA to catch, detain and interrogate terrorists worldwide. Like President Bush's NSA program to eavesdrop on terror suspects without waiting for a warrant from the notoriously sluggish FISA court, the CIA program has drawn its share of short-sighted condemnation, as if 9/11 never happened. Here is how the Post described the nation's ability to gather intelligence on terrorists nearly four and a half years ago: 'The CIA faced the day after the 2001 attacks with few al-Qa'ida informants, a tiny paramilitary division and no interrogators, much less a system for transporting terrorism suspects and keeping them hidden for interrogation.' President Bush changed all that. He has, according to the Post, created the largest covert CIA program since World War II. And it has been highly successful. 'Indeed, the CIA, working with foreign counterparts, has been responsible for virtually all of the success the United States has had in capturing or killing al-Qa'ida leaders since Sept. 11, 2001,' the Post reported. Pardon us if we don't become outraged that the President of the United States transformed a weak CIA into an impressively effective tool for finding and defeating America's enemies." —New Hampshire Union Leader

"As I've often observed, the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government... And liberals aim to keep it that way." —Joseph Sobran

"The privilege of debating our constitutional rights requires first that we be alive. If federal agents want to listen in on suspected terrorists as they plot their next mass murder, please allow me to turn up the volume. Meanwhile, unless I start placing calls to Peshawar using phrases such as 'I want my 72 virgins now,' then I figure I'm safe to make my next hair appointment without fear of exposure." —Kathleen Parker

Jay Leno: The Energy Department's Argon National Lab has determined that Beethoven died from lead poisoning. Now when did he die, 1827? And you thought you had to wait a long time for your lab results! Apparently, Beethoven was one of the first members of an HMO plan. ... Heating bills this winter are the highest they've been in five years, but President Bush has a plan to combat rising bills. It's called "global warming." ... The price of heating has gone up so much that people are now asking Santa for coal in their stockings. ... A congressional press secretary by the name of Thomas Springer was arrested for bank robbery. [The] guy's a congressional press secretary [and] police said he robbed at least 7 banks. Said he fell in with the wrong crowd. Yeah—Congress. ... Some groups are now picketing Wal-Mart because their employees can't say "Merry Christmas." It's not store policy or anything, they just don't speak English. ... Bulgaria announced they're pulling all their troops from Iraq, both of them. No, they said they'll replace their troops with a non-combat force. That would be the French army.

It's the Demography, Stupid - The real reason the West is in danger of extinction
Read it. Too much to quote, but it's a must read.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

St. Maximos' Hut: Motivation
Don also recounted another episode he found in a memoir:

A Spitfire limped back to base having suffered and survived numerous hits from a German fighter plane. Upon examining it the repair crew found an unexploded German shell stuck inside. Upon opening it they found the shell full of sand rather than explosives and a note which read (in Czech) "This is all I can do for you now. May God bless and preserve you."

The reason for the difference? Don wrote:

British and American arms factories were staffed by the daughters and mothers, wives and sisters of British and American soldiers. These women took care to preserve the lives of their loved ones – and Germans died because of it. German arms factories were full of slave laborers who had no reason to take such care and every reason not to – and so American soldiers lived to tell the tale.

Don's conclusion: "The lesson is that love is a better motivator than terror."

This seemed like the perfect thought with which to begin the new year!

"Scandals" in the War on Terror
There's a great irony here. Everybody has been asking of themselves for the last four years why haven't we had a second attack, which everybody expected within weeks or months, certainly years. It didn't happen.

And we knew about the external story. The war in Afghanistan obviously had an effect on Al Qaida. The war in Iraq has diverted terrorists and jihadists into Iraq as opposed to attacking America.

But what we've heard over the last six months with these revelations, these so-called scandals, of the secret prisons where high-level Al Qaida have been held, the coercive interrogation which is under attack in the McCain amendment, and now the NSA eavesdropping -- we have the untold story which the administration could not tell. It knew why we had been protected.

All these defensive measures of gathering intelligence -- we were always weak on human intelligence, and that's why we had 9/11. And we don't have good spies inside Al Qaida. But we had a means, technological, in the NSA eavesdropping, and also other means in capturing these terrorists, of getting information.

It's worked. It's held us safe. And that's why I think in the end the president's going to win the whole argument on presidential power.

My Current Reading
I started The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin yesterday. Very good so far; it shows how he built himself up based off his natural intelligence, his willingness to learn and his willingness to work. He's a good example to us all. (Based off the chapter title, I've reached just before he starts printing Poor Richard's Almanac.)

I was inspired to read this since this Saturday I'll be visiting the exhibit Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World at the Constitution Center. Looking forward to it; it should be pretty good. (See more information about the celebration of Ben's 300th birthday here.)

I also finished Washington: The Indispensable Man on Saturday. Very good book; I learned a lot. Like Thomas Jefferson was a complete ass. He'd come to a decision as a member of Washington's Cabinet (and agree it was the only rational decision) and then criticize it to his political cronies saying it ws the best he could do. He often supported the interests of a foreign nation over that of America. It seems appropriate that he founded the Democratic party. While reading this book, I came to realize that I am much more of a Federalist/Hamiltonian than a Jeffersonian. I had always assumed the reverse due to my distase for strong, centralized government. Essentially, Jefferson's government would have been too small, while Hamilton's just enough power, although Hamilton probably would have been quick to expand the national government further given the chance.

The book really makes you appreciate George Washington all the more. It's quite possible that without George Washington, America never would have been started much less succeeded. We all owe him a deep debt of gratitude. A simple way to start to repay it would be to stop this nonsense of "President's Day" and call it by its proper name: Washington's Birthday.

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