Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Monday, January 28, 2008

FISA Madness

Well, a big day in the Senate as debate on reauthorization of the Protect Amercia Act -- my god that name alone strikes Orwellian fear in my heart -- rages.

I have asked this before and have yet to get an unqualified, reasonable answer. I've gone looking for answers on right-wing blogs...still nothing. So I'll throw it out there.

How does having to obtain a warrant endanger national security? Now, all responses must include conscious knowledge of the fact that FISA allows the government up to 72 hours (3 days) to conduct surveillance and obtain a retroactive warrant.

Please, someone educate me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Now this is what I call Sexism

There seems to be some think skins in the blogosphere lately. Calling out "racism" and "sexism" at every opportunity really does nothing but diminish the meaning of those words. Not that I haven't been sympathetic to some of those charges, but others were ridiculous.

Anyone wondering, possibly, what a sexist attack against Hillary Clinton would really look like? Well, here you go (hat tip Ezra).

Get it? No, no really...don't you get it? Cunt. Its hilarious. No...I'm sure its just a coincidence. Really. No, no..please, by all means...continue this and Hillary will get 60% of the vote, you band of slimeballs.

Finally cracking down on that filibustering...

Let's all say a great "thank you" to Harry Reid. While the Republicans threatened at filibustering almost every single Democratic introduced legislation, Harry Reid, being the gentlemen he is, never actually made them filibuster the legislation. Even though their threats were completely unprecedented. Even though it is the Democrats who are getting blamed for accomplishing nothing in their first year since taking over the majority.

But thankfully for all of us, Harry Reid is finally cracking down. On Chris Dodd, his fellow Democrat, who is attempting to block legislation that will give retroactive immunity to telecoms who broke the law by providing access to telephone records to the Bush Administration in their never-ending quest to run-around the requirements of the FISA law.

Harry Reid:

[I]f people think they are going to talk this to death, we are going to be in here all night. This is not something we are going to have a silent filibuster on. If someone wants to filibuster this bill, they are going to do it in the openness of the Senate.

Many others are commenting. I would hope the candidates for President would join John Edwards in providing leadership on this issue. Chris Dodd is doing an immense service and I respect and admire his leadership on this issue.

I intend to contact Harry Reid and express my disgust at his leadership on this issue. I encourage others to do the same.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Department of Unintended Hilarity

Has anyone seen the commercial for this product -- Aciphex?

I mean, am I missing something here? I'm no marketing genius... but really. Has no one, not one person in their company or their ad agency, actually listened to the commercial?

To wit -- "Jennifer Aniston's aciphex men in mysterious ways."

Please, try harder.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Terrorist mastermind and Dirty, oh wait a minute...

Terrorist conspirator SOOOO dangerous that he was held for 3 and 1/2 years without access to an attorney, in solitary confinement, incommunicado, and treated so harshly he could not assist in his own defense, Jose Padilla, was sentenced today to 17 years in prison.

Lets remember kiddies, he faced life in prison and was accused of attempting to set off a "dirty bomb" in Chicago. Lets also remember one very important fact -- his constitutional rights as an American citizen were so flagrantly violated as to make anyone defending how he was treated to seem completely out of touch with that quaint little document called the Constitution.

Cooke said she was giving Padilla some credit -- over the objections of federal prosecutors -- for his lengthy military detention at a Navy brig in South Carolina. She agreed with defense lawyers that Padilla was subjected to "harsh conditions" and "extreme environmental stresses" while there.
"I do find that the conditions were so harsh for Mr. Padilla ... they warrant consideration in the sentencing in this case," the judge said.

This case was a farce from the start. As the judge said...

"There is no evidence that these defendants personally maimed, kidnapped or killed anyone in the United States or elsewhere," she said.

Absolutely disgraceful and I hope that history sees this for it is -- one of the most flagrant violations of Constitutional rights in this country's history. Sad. But hey, we all feel safer now right?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Best Party Evah"

This is great. It doesnt get really good until the end when the reporter keeps pushing this kid to take off his glasses.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


You know those annoying couples who finish each other sentences? Yeah, I do too.

As much as I love Andrew Sullivan, and I truly do respect his point of view and read him daily, I was literally just about the post about this. Its all just a bit too hysterical, a bit too obsessive and a bit too conspiratorial.

So then, I went to Balloon Juice just to see if my buddy John Cole had any new posts up, and luckily he does, and of course, he says it better than I could.

A few days ago (January 10th), I sent Andrew an email that said this:


I love ya...but you are going a bit off the deep end here. First the "
buddy system" and now Anne Rice calling her "Hillary" is sexist? Obama and Edwards did gang up on her a bit and rather than say gang up, she used 'buddy system". What is HILLARY supposed to say? The "non-gender specific tag-team?" Hillary has always been known as "Hillary" and not simply Clinton or Senator Clinton. She causes some of the same feelings in me, though not as viscerally, as she does in you and I also find myself hoping along with Obama. I'm not particulary hoping for her to be the nominee. But c'mon man! Lets not look too deep.

Andrew, please, just go under self-imposed, cold-turkey Hillary avoidance for a day or two. It would do you some good.

Which is more disturbing?

Mike Huckabee:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."

Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qadir:

"According to our calculations and our timelines, we think that from the first quarter of 2009 until 2012 we will be able to take full control of the internal affairs of the country,” Mr. Qadir said in an interview on Monday, conducted in Arabic through an interpreter.
“In regard to the borders, regarding protection from any external threats, our calculation appears that we are not going to be able to answer to any external threats until 2018 to 2020."

I have to go with the latter, as the first has a chance of not getting elected, where the USA has absolutely no chance of getting out of Iraq, basically...ever.

Friday, January 11, 2008

More on Ron Paul

Libertarian Radly Balko has a great explanation of the suspension of belief that Ron Paul is asking his supporters to do in order to look past the now infamous newsletters (hat tip Megan McCardle).

Paul talks in the Blitzer interview about how the drug war has disproportionately sent black people to prison. He's right. Black people use drugs in proportions only slightly higher than their share of the general population. But the proportion of blacks in prison for drugs crimes is substantially higher. They are far more likely to get arrested for drug crimes, far more likely to be convicted, and even when facing similar charges, tend to receive longer sentences than whites.

...I have no idea if Paul is a racist. I suspect that he isn’t, at least today. But he’s certainly had no problem benefiting from the support of people who are. It’s more than a little disingenuous for him to now defend himself by invoking what the criminal justice system has done to the black community when for fifteen years a newsletter bearing his name, and the profits from which went into his bank account, celebrated and encouraged the black-people-are-savage-criminals lie in particularly vile and perverse ways.

Emphasis mine. And this is why, whether you believe these newsletters reflect his views or not, they couldn't show him in a more poor light. One of the things that draws people to Ron Paul is his willingness to talk about things, to say and do things, that others won't or are too afraid to. His views on foreign policy are a prime example -- being more humble and not looking for excuses to go to war. If President Paul's Secretary of Defense went into the Middle East and said the Israel had started every major war or that the Palestinians were 'savages', would Paul's defense be that these aren't his views?

The Ron Paul brand is as important as Ron Paul the person. Thats why the newsletters can't be excused. And that is what is so disappointing. His stances alone of the foreign policy and the drug war are so encouraging -- and now, back to the fringe they go.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Past vs. Present

Barney Frank has a very eloquent and passionate op-ed in the Huffington Post today, responding to a major theme of the Obama campaign -- namely that Obama doesn't want to "refight the fights we had in the 90's". (hat tip -- John Cole) With all due respect to Barney, I think he's missing Obama's point. Its not the real policy fights he wants to avoid, but the bitter, bitter silliness that went on through the 90's, that a Clinton nomination, and election, will certainly provoke.

This is a debate that has been ongoing in the blogosphere for a few weeks now and has been commented on by both right and left wing blogs. John Cole himself has been bringing this up along with his somewhat related criticism of Obama's lack of substanative policy speeches or proposals.

But Frank's op-ed gets at the heart of what I believe is the struggle for most liberals in whether to support Obama or Hillary (most Edwards supporters are flat-out Edwards supporters). You see...I think everyone is tired of the past 16 years. The past 16 years where 50% of the country hated the other 50%. Where disagreeing with someone, was not just a difference of opinions, but an admission of any number of evil personality traits (treasonous, unpatriotic, Nazi, fascist...I could go on). In fact, as Frank says:

It was Gingrich and his right wing allies who decided to inject a much harsher note of partisanship by explicitly rejecting the notion that the Democrats were honorable people with whom they disagreed, and instead decided, as Gingrich's own printed and taped materials argued, to portray us as treasonous, corrupt, immoral and otherwise vile. And when Gingrich was forced by his own flaws to step aside, Tom DeLay took up those cudgels with a little less rhetorical flourish but with an even heavier hand.

I think people who are supporting Obama and are excited by his campaign, as I myself am, really feel like this is a chance to put that all behind us. Is this naive? Probably, yes. But perhaps the feeling is, if there is a chance, the chance exists with Obama and not with Hillary. Rightly so, the counter argument is, in the current political environment, while Hillary would invite more scorn, she is also the candidate most likely to fight back stronger, harder and more successful than Obama.

So the question literally becomes "dare to hope for a change" or "resign yourself to what you know will come to pass anyway."

Glenn Greenwald had a great post about whats likely to come down the pike should Obama be the nominee anyway, and I think his points are valid.

There's a prevailing sense that Obama is not as offensive to the right-wing GOP faction as other Democratic and liberal candidates in the past have been, or that he's less "divisive" among them than Hillary. And that's true: for now, while he tries to take down the individual who has long provoked the most intense hatred -- literally-- among the Right. But anyone who doesn't think that that's all going to change instantaneously if Obama is the nominee hasn't been watching how this faction operates over the last 20 years. Hatred is their fuel. Just look at the bottomless personal animus they managed to generate over an anemic, mundane, inoffensive figure like John Kerry. At their Convention, they waved signs with band-aids mocking his purple hearts while cheering on two combat-avoiders.

The idealist in me wants to support Obama and wants to believe in the hope that he really is someone who can bring parts of both sides together and end the division in this country. Or least amerliorate it. The cynic in me wants Hillary in there to weather the eventual storm. I honestly just haven't decided yet which path I want to follow. I won't be able to vote in NJ's primary, as I'm not registered to either party, so right now, my thoughts are just those.

I do think it's a battle for most liberals/democrats between either explicitly hoping or wanting to hope he can transcend it all, just maybe, and knowing it's just politics as usual and wanting the proverbial Rocky to take the punches and bring it home in spite of them.

But as for Barney, he is dead-on. No one should be ashamed of fighting the policy fights and they should be fighting even harder now.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Are you smarter than a 5th Grader?

Over at Andrew Sullivan's, a debate is raging over evolution.

No, not that debate. But whether evolution is a theory or a law. I believe the final shoe dropped tonight.

But I must echo Andrew's sentiments and if you know me, this isn't the first time I've expressed this. Simply put, if you don't believe in evolution, you are not smart enough to be President. Not. Smart. Enough.

There, I said it.

Intelligent people believe evidence. For crying out loud, I 100% believe that God created the universe, the earth and all the people in it and I still believe in evolution. These things are not mutually exclusive -- unless you are one of those people who believe that the guy in the bible who said 7 days, meant 7 actual, 24-hour days. Because, ya know...God has to clock in and out now doesn't he.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New & Improved for 2008

Well, I'm going to be blogging more in upcoming months as the election heats up and I have more to say. 2008 will definitely contain more blogging than 2007 because God knows we need another opinion out there in the blogosphere. I have never let up on my pace of reading blogs, just in commenting. Some quick hits with more to come...

Obama: I like you, heck, I actually believe you. More of the same please.

Edwards: I always liked you and believed in your passion. If the best they can come up with is your hair is expertly coiffed and you made millions by working your butt off, I'd call that pretty damn good.

Clinton: Don't make me vote for her. I will, but I don't want to.

Richardson: Time to drop out buddy.

Biden/Dodd: Keep talking guys...intelligent people are listenting to the only two out there who aren't afraid to say and do what needs to be said and done.

Romney: Fake, liar, poseur and whatever other word you can conjure up that means absolutely "no principles". C'mon, it must get better than this right?

Huckabee: You reap what you sow, Republicans. Every anti-gay, values voters, etc...speech of the last 8 years finally REALLY mobilized all those envangelicals. Now you actually have to deal with them.

McCain: Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Despite the past eight years, I still have a modicum of respect for you. The only Republican who I would even consider, albeit remotely.

Guiliani: Such a scary thought. Anyone ever watch the Family Guy where Lois runs for mayor? That's what this commercial is. Pathetic.

Ron Paul: Actual principles. I might not believe in them, but probably the most principled guy in the entire race, on either side. If people stopped micharacterizing his positions, we might actually be able to intelligently debate the issues he brings to the table.

**1/8/07 Update**: Ouch. This hurts. While I find Paul principled, and stated that I don't agree with many of the things he believes, this story will hurt him immensely. I think his apology/statement makes sense, but then again, not knowing how these 'newletters' work, I'm somewhat at a loss. It certainly doesn't jive with his libertarian principles that he has campaigned on admirably and in the face of accusations that didn't have merit but could also have hurt him (9/11 truthers, etc). If your name is on something, you have a responsibility for what that something says -- I live this everyday in the consulting field. At the very, very least, it makes Paul look completely and utterly careless with his reputation. At worst, well...homophobic and bigoted. I think that is a stretch given his stand on things.

When someone disavows past positions, whether for political expediency, it is usually because they have a true and realistic chance at power. Ron Paul, whatever his historic and amazing fundraising and support levels are, can not believe this to be true, and could not have thought that at the beginning of his campaign before his support was mobilized as it is now. His message however, has been consistent. And he disavowed these writings back in 1999, before he was on any national radar. I'm prone to believe this is carelessness, but again, that still neither excuses it or speaks well to Paul's responsibility.

Thompson: Yawn. Do you even want it? I'm not sure. And quite frankly, I kind of trust you. But you are a good actor. Do I trust you or that guy from Hunt for Red October? That is what scares me.

Anyway, more to come.


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