RE: THE END IS NEAR: I agree with you, Laura, that the growth of pork-barrel spending is disgusting (though I wouldn't call it the end of the world). The strangle hold of pork-barrel spending is why we need congressional term limits, so we can end the biannual tradition of 468 people buying their reelections, and why we need an appropriations line-item veto, so the president can cut at least some of the fat.


THE END OF THE WORLD: If we don't fix our impending budget crisis, that is. I just returned from a Heritage policy briefing with Brian Riedl, the fellow in charge of federal budgetary affairs in the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. The world seriously is ending folks.

If you want to get really, really depressed, check out his work on how to get federal spending under control, the highest level of federal spending since WWII, or pork-laden omnibus spending bills. Fun stuff, eh?

Just to destroy any hope/confidence that you might have had for/in Congress, check out some of the atrocious numbers (scarier than an M. Night Shyamalan film) Riedl has compiled:

*The federal government could not account for $25.5 billion in 2003. And Ken Lay is going to jail?

*The federal government made $20 billion in overpayments in 2001.

*Over one 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used government-funded credit cards to charge $73,950 for exotic dance clubs and prostitutes. Support our troops?

*The Defense Department wasted $100 million on unused refundable flight tickets.

THAT'S WHY I DRINK PEPSI: We all know that Osama bin Laden is evil with a capital "e." But who would have guessed that the world's most malicious cave-dweller instills morals in Columbian druglords? Or at least profit incentives.

In an attempt to terrorize Americans, bin Laden planned to poison the US coke supply. Luckily, business savvy kingpins had another idea.

According to the Daily Telegraph:
Although the drug lords would have reaped millions of dollars in profits by selling the cocaine to bin Laden, they knew that if his plan succeeded it might effectively destroy the market for their coke in the US for years, sources said.

But that was only one reason they declined bin Laden's offer.

Thank god smugglers understand economics.


Bono Update '05 Part Deux

CAT FIGHT: It seems that it isn't enough for our dear friend Bono to be the lead singer of the greatest band in the world. No, no, no, Bono has to destroy the hopes and dreams of the worst singer in the world.

That's right my friends--the man who championed Live 8; the man who single-handedly wooed the Prime Minister of Canada off of President Bush's schedule; the man who stripped the creepiness out of wearing sunglasses in the dark, will apparently not appear in a CD for Elton John's AIDS Foundation.

And old Elton is livid. New Year's Day indeed.

NO HAGGLING LATELY: Have you noticed the lack of media appearances by Chuck Hagel lately? The Republican, who may very well be more liberal than his Democratic counterpart Ben Nelson, had been a regular on the TV circuit since the inauguration. That is, however, until last June when he opened his mouth and inserted his foot for US News and World Report, saying that the White House is "totally disconnected from reality" about Iraq. Search Google News for "Chuck Hagel" and you'll see what I mean. Who knows how CNN's Inside Politics and Hardball have managed to survive without Hagel's daily musings.

I'm thinking that someone whom Hagel trusts, whether it be an aide or a senate colleague, pulled Hagel aside and gave him the straight news: If you want to be a contender for the Republican nomination in 2008, don't say stuff that will make you a star among the MoveOn crowd. Looks like Hagel could be listening.

BEHOLDEN BY INTEREST GROUPS: We've all heard the mantra that President Bush and the Republican Party is beholden to that evil Religious Right. But we never hear about the Left being beholden to their own interest groups. Consider this piece from Wednesday's Opinion Journal's Political Diary (boldface added for emphasis):

Appearing anywhere in defense of the Central American Free Trade Agreement is hazardous duty for a member of Congress, given the intensity of public opposition to the treaty from unions and protectionists.

That's what made Rep. Henry Cuellar's stirring defense of CAFTA on a live C-SPAN call-in show this morning so impressive. A freshman Democrat from the border region of Texas, Mr. Cuellar stood his ground as every caller berated him for his support of the treaty. "The key to keeping the U.S. economy vibrant is to find new markets for our goods," he said. "When you look at the trade with Central America, their goods are coming in duty-free, but we face tariffs on our exports. Right now, it's a one-way street. With CAFTA we'll be able to export more, and more jobs can be created."

Mr. Cuellar took his stand on the same morning that the Hill newspaper was reporting that every major union in the country had written House Democratic leaders warning that organized labor will withdraw support from any Democrat who votes for CAFTA. "I appreciate the opinion of my friends in labor," Mr. Cuellar told C-SPAN. "But we cannot politicize this type of agreement."

That high-mindedness won't prevent liberal groups from going after Mr. Cuellar in next March's Democratic primary. In the 2004 primary, Mr. Cuellar defeated Ciro Rodriguez, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus by about 100 votes. Mr. Rodriguez's former colleagues are already raising money to avenge his defeat.




I love London. British people are my favorite--what with their snappy accents and tendency to adopt American slang that just sounds terribly wrong. Even pub food--often notoriously bad--is delicious to my London-loving palate.

Last Thursday, London narrowly escaped another crude set of terrorist attacks. The day before, my sister and I were zipping through the underground while in transit from Germany.

This island nation that for so long was protected by it's isolated geography has officially come into the fold of a real terrorist target--not just a place that pundits spin around as a potential hit, but a transformed city where fear is real.

Instead of annoyance that the disruption in the Piccadilly line had severed most of central London, it appeared to me that Londoners expressed an indescribable sadness. Two weeks after the attacks that chopped up the city's transit system, Londoner's had adapted to their new routine of more transfers and indirect bus routes. Under and above ground, the platforms teemed with commuters and the overburdened trains chugged forward.

My most interesting observation took place on my way to Victoria Station to catch the Gatwick Express a few hours before the second set of bombings rattled the city. My Lebanese cabbie casually mentioned the effects of the bombings after we spun around our first roundabout. As a Muslim, he could not understand the motivation for such senseless attacks.

Without even prompting his thoughts about the War on Terror, he supplied his belief that the bulk of the British population remained ignorant. He felt that the BBC twisted information and painted US foreign policy in an unfairly negative light. To him, it was past time to address the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein and those that continue to take place in nearly every Arab country.

His last comment was jarring. To paraphrase he said, "You're an American. I'm sure you think that you are just in Iraq for oil. My friend, you are not. Your country liberated Kuwait--an oil rich country! What are the Kuwaiti's doing now, my friend? You certainly do not control their oil. They are selling it to you for $60 a barrel! Your country was right to act. Saddam Hussein was evil."

After my 8-hour flight and seemingly equally long time trudging through customs, I was greeted by airport televisions blaring the news of the attempted attacks. Instead of fear, I felt hope. The view amongst the British people is slowly evolving to accept the world--the challenge--we face. With a stiff upper lip, I hope we will continue forward.


WOMEN/MINORITY REPRESENTATION: The talking heads are still suggesting on the cable news shows that the president should have nominated a woman to the Supreme Court. It makes me wonder why these people only look skin-deep. What difference does it make if the nominee is male, female, white, African-American, Latino, or of any other minority group? He's still a human being. Aren't we supposed to be judging people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin or their gender?

And no, I cannot buy into the argument that he cannot understand women's issues. For one, the Constitution does not break people down into men and women. The only issues it addresses are human issues. Nor is Judge Roberts (or any other qualified SCOTUS nominee) some Neanderthal who came out of a cave and does not know women.

BLOGGIN'S TOUGH: When my computer is dead. Posts from me will be sporadic for the next little while.


MY THOUGHTS: In defense of his often mangled use of the English language, President Bush once remarked to reporters, "But my critics don't realize I don't make verbal gaffes. I'm speaking in the perfect forms and rhythms of ancient Haiku."

Given Bush's recent Supreme Court nominee, I'm partial to believe him.

Talk about brilliance. With all of the buzz in Washington that Bush would seek to appoint some hardline Jance Rogers Brown-type or go for some softie to appease the savage liberal beast, he goes and plucks a recently appointed appeals court judge from obscurity. No long record (but excellent credentials), hopefully no chance to "bork" the poor man. Emphasis on the word hopefully...

This guy seems to have it all- good looks, an utterly adorable family (though I fear the dramatics of Ted Kennedy may turn the fact that all the names of Judge Roberts' immediate family members starts with a "j" into some kind of right-wing conspiracy), and as mentioned above, excellent credentials. I could be wrong, but with Bush's often underestimated savvy, we should be on the right track.


NOTE: I erased the post featuring the link to the video clip of Joey Greco, host of Cheaters, being stabbed. Apparently there was something wrong with the link and it sent the user to, well, a pretty awful site. I tried fixing it and it still doesn't work. To those of you who may have clicked on the faulty link, I deeply apologize.


HOME RUN: President Bush hit a home run with the nomination of John Roberts. He's a highly experienced man, having argued before the High Court thirty-nine times and having worked on the DC Circuit. He's a Harvard Law grad and a former Rehnquist clerk. Practically speaking, perhaps his greatest asset is the thin paper trail that Democrats will not be able to use against him.

He's a far better choice than Edith Clement, who for most of today was conventional wisdom's choice. A stealth choice, unknown to most, and the first appointee to the Supreme Court by a President Bush, she screamed David Souter.

I most look forward to seeing how Robert Byrd, Maria Cantwell, Kent Conrad, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, and Debbie Stabenow - all Democrats up for reelection either facing a tough opponent or coming from a red state or both - will vote on John Roberts.

Any thoughts, Mark, Barry, and Laura?

DID YOU KNOW: That Sandra Day O'Connor was the critical fifth vote in a lot of important cases before the Supreme Court? If you've watched a shred of news in since 8:00 CDT tonight, you've heard it at least 300 times. And if the people on these news shows are right, the world is going to fold up within itself in a couple months because of John Roberts.

And did you know that this is a lifetime appointment? Surely you've heard the liberals drop that line every 15 seconds all night.


SLOW NEWS: You know the news is slow when the two stories making the most headlines are 1) A story of a White House advisor in hot water that is making hardly a ripple outside the Beltway, and 2) The news that there's not going to be any news of a Rehnquist retirement anytime soon (Aside: Isn't it a tad ghoulish the way the media camp out outside Rehnquist's home, and as soon as he goes to the hospital they start talking retirement? Why don't the media just offer him a letter on their behalf asking him to die? Seriously, imagine being Rehnquist's grandchild: You turn on the news, and everyone's talking about what will happen as soon as gramps kicks it).

But even if the news is slow, that doesn't mean the TV is slow. Quickly becoming a favorite of this guy is Cheaters. If you haven't seen it, it's this excellent show in which investigators follow a boyfriend/girlfriend and videotape his/her cheating, show it to the cheated partner, then convince the cheated one to confront the cheater on-camera before the cheated one has a chance to cool down. Makes for great drama! Tonight alone, a man got slammed onto a car hood, a Mexican restaurant became a riot zone, and a Domino's pizza man got caught in the crosshairs between the cheated one, and the guilty third party, who was pantless at the time of the encounter.

And ladies, once you've watched Cheaters, heed my advice: Avoid that jerk host Joey Greco. You KNOW he'll ruin you if you cheat on him.


MORE ON AFRICA: The New York Times' Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme expresses a very important point about the recent doomed Live 8 and G8 initiatives- they are bound to fail if Africa doesn't get its act together. We should be promoting good governance, but not a free ticket. More on this.

Even in Germany, I couldn't stay away from the Hawkeye Republican for long...



In Absence, May Your Hearts Grow Fonder…

That’s right folks- starting tomorrow until next Thursday I will be absent for a spell, out of the country even. I know what you must be thinking. Who will cover breaking Bono news **gasp**! What if Bono tries to cure cancer or pilot a mission to Mars, while I am off gallivanting around the German countryside?!?!? Pandemonium, pandemonium!

Rest assured, it is my prediction that with the end of Live 8 and the G8—like a grizzly bear bundling up for the cold winter ahead of bureaucratic African aid distribution—Bono will go dormant for some time as governments muddle through details. The work is done for now and everyone needs a little space to breathe to propose a structure of distribution and work through the debt cancellation. In bureaucracy, there are always at least 12 forms to sign before even being permitted to sign a form.

So now that your Bono fears have subsided, what possible reason could I have for leaving the valiant Hawkeye Republican to my dear male colleagues? They rarely even post pictures.

The answer is that I will be in Gummersbach, Germany, attending the World Freedom Summit. For about the past 25 years, the International Society for Individual Liberty has organized this event in various locations around the world in cooperation with several other European think tanks; this year, including the Institute for Liberal Vales, the Libertarian International and the Institute for Free Enterprise.

The conference will focus on classical liberal views i.e. today’s conservative principles, as well as topics of social and economic freedom. Should be interesting considering the speaker guest list: The Heritage Foundation’s resident flat tax man Daniel Mitchell, globalization author Eric Weede, European Parliament Member and German big-wig Peter Jungen and several other notable European folks.

I honor of Bono and all the folks in the news I will miss covering in the next week- Achtung, baby! Achtung!


GETTING IT RIGHT: It may not have the readership of USA Today or the New York Times, nor the clout of the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post, but the Manchester Union Leader editorial board writes some of the finest op-eds in journalism. It's back at it with its Tuesday editorial.

I have not been kind to Tim Russert lately. It's not him per se, he's just emblematic of the inside-the-beltway media pundits. However, I've got to take another swipe at him on this one. On this past Sunday's Meet the Press, he asked every single guest - including Orrin Hatch and Chucky Schumer, who were on to discuss judicial nominees - if the government will increase funding for mass transit security.

While it's important to look into mass transit security, it's not the only place where terrorists may attack. They will find our weaknesses and attack accordingly. As such, it's necessary that our government not simply throw money at mass transit security and wait for the media to shower them with praise, but rather to also explore our other weaknesses and work to improve them.

After all, had terrorists not attacked London's mass transit, and rather set off a dirty bomb in London, would Tim Russert (and the others) give two-rips about mass transit security?

Lastly, I'm thrilled to see the Union Leader give some love to Judd Gregg. A fiscally responsible conservative from New England, he's one of our finest in the senate.

NEWSFLASH - NAME OF SCOTUS NOMINEE LEAKED: And it looks like we've got the consensus nominee so many wanted.


What’s up with the BBC?

The query of the current state of “up-ness” of the BBC is particularly relevant and worrisome given recent reports that the BBC—the Brits’ state-controlled ₤112 per television news outlet—has taken to downplaying the dirty word “terrorism” in reference to the London bombings. According to BBC guidelines, “the word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding” and its use should be “avoided.”

Really? It was my impression when I arrived to work last Thursday and witnessed in horror as news of the acts in London unfolded that we were dealing with terrorism. As my daily treks to Union Station have yielded increased sightings of police officers with their German Shepherds and segways, it was also my impression that here in D.C., we are preparing for something more to come.

According to the UK Media Bulletin:
One headline on the BBC News website initially appeared as "Bus man may have see terrorist" and also used the word "terrorist" in the story. Later, however, this same story appeared on the site with the headline: "Passenger believes he saw bomber". There was also a new introduction omitting the word "terrorist".

So, there we see that the UK’s ₤2.5 billion publicly funded news behemoth has got it wrong. Yes, those evil individuals were bombers, but a terrorist by any other name is still a terrorist. Moreover, I did not consider the perpetrators of these terrible acts to be “misguided criminals” as BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson commented recently in an online editorial—I considered them terrorists.

I hate to evoke Bush-like references to 9-11 or stark black and white comparisons. While sitting in my high school German class, I witnessed the appalling news of the catastrophic damage to the Pentagon, the appalling loss of life in New York and the amazing displays of heroism across the country. I knew—like most Americans—that America had been attacked by terrorists. To skirt around that point is to give credence to individuals driven by radical ideology who seek to destroy life.

BBC—you’re dealing with terrorists.



Okay, well maybe not ever, but with our 1st in the nation caucus, recent ranking by CNN and metal tree, what more could anyone want? That was a rhetorical question.

In June, Foreign Direct Investment of the Financial Times ranked Iowa as the state of the future. Now that's pretty exciting for the land of corn and home of the world's largest cereal factory.

For more reasons to think Iowa is great, specifically Cedar Rapids, check out facts collected by the Iowa City Area Development Group.


CHEER UP: Watched quite a bit of VH1 with my time off this weekend. Between I Love the 80's, the Surreal Life, Hogan Knows Best, and Celebrity Fit Club 2, it's quite clear that if a person is washed-up, he's probably appearing on VH1. Furthermore, only washed-up celebrities appear on VH1.

So tonight when you lay your head onto the pillow, keep this in mind: Classes may stress you out; your wallet may be empty, save for the moth that flies out when you open it; your job may overwork you and underpay you; but if you're not appearing on VH1, you're doing at least one thing right. Good night!


STAY, REHNQUIST, STAY: It's only been a week since Sandra Day O'Connor's announced retirement, but now it looks like we'll have two vacancies on the Supreme Court.

Here's hoping that Rehnquist sticks around for a while. With two vacancies on the Court, especially one being vacated by a "conservative" and the other by the "swing vote" (highly political terms for a Court that should be above politics), we would suddenly hear the likes of Harry Reid, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton play King Solomon and urge President Bush to split the difference down the middle. Suddenly, the talk would be of a compromise of one left-leaning justice and one right-leaning justice. Hearing that from the Democratic senators and from the media would not worry me - that's to be expected from them. What worries me would be when the self-indulgent Republican moderates would join the chorus. John McCain and John Warner wouldn't (and couldn't) avoid the opportunity to act as if they're above the partisan politics and join the Dems on this one.

"SAVED," Robert Byrd would declare repeatedly as McCain and Warner cave to the Dems and the Washington Establishment.

All this is moot, though. William Rehnquist is not the kind of guy who would let political games influence the Supreme Court and his retirement. Unlike Harry Blackmun.



Bono Watch '05

Because sunglasses CAN make you look like a convicted felon when standing next to Bob Geldof...

In Bono news today (no, U2 has not cut a better album):

The gallant Irish rocker/advocate/god of the sunglass hut, has called Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin "infuriating," which, albeit is better than previous claims that Martin was "too fond of maple syrup" and "a fan of Arctic weather." After negotiations with Martin, Bono noted that:
He's very difficult to deal with because he won't agree to things that he doesn't believe he can deliver, although that is very frustrating and annoying and infuriating.

We too, at the Hawkeye Republican, hate people who won't make false promises. Walk on Bono, Walk on...


SNAP: So you're a guest on Hannity and Colmes with the opportunity to promote your website. Pretty great, right? One host will argue with you, the other will defend you, your website will see much heavier traffic, and Grandma can watch her beloved grandchild on the TV.

Not if you're this guy. Look, you know it's bad when both Hannity and Colmes are insulting you. Even worse, he's ashamed his own grandma.

This video reminds me of the other classic TV clip from primetime cable news rants - er, primetime cable news shows - when Lawrence O'Donnell subtly called John O'Neil a filthy liar. And by "subtly," I mean explicitly calling him a liar no fewer than fifty times in two minutes. I need to find that clip again. Watching it got me through the final two months of Con Law, Stats, and Ethics last fall.

Lest we forget, terrorism is not a new phenomenon in this brave city, nor is it in the rest of the world.

BBC News posted a page for people to discuss the horrific events of early this morning. I am firmly in agreement with Michael Robbins of London, as is surely the rest of the civilized world:
The terrorists will not stop us, just strengthen our resolve. Long live London. Long live Britain. Long live Freedom.

The hearts and prayers of all of us at the Hawkeye Republican go out to the heroic people of London.

IN CASE WE FORGOT: This is why we fight terrorists terrorism and the states that harbor or support terrorism.


World Reactions to the London Terrorist Attacks

Reactions in the UK:

Excerpts from Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement Thursday on London blasts with G-8 leaders in Gleneagles, Scotland:
The terrorists will not succeed. Today's bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies and to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us.

We shall prevail and they shall not.

Statement from London Mayor Ken Livingstone:
I want to say one thing: This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful, it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners.

That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith, it's mass murder.

World Reactions:

Telegram on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI:
Deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attacks in central London, the Holy Father offers his fervent prayers for the victims and for all those who mourn.

Excerpts from President Bush's statement on the attacks in London, delivered at the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland:
We will find them. We will bring them to justice. And at the same time we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate.

French PM Dominique de Villepin:
More than ever, our democracies must rally together and show unity in the face of the terrorist threat. More than ever, we must all show vigilance and determination.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende:
Terrorism is an evil that threatens all the countries in Europe. Vigorous cooperation in the European Union and worldwide is crucial in order to meet this evil head on.

More World Reactions:

Statement from Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's office:
Spain, which has suffered the scourge of terrorism, both national and international for years, offers its immediate and unconditional help, as well as its full support to the United Kingdom to pursue the criminals that have carried out such a repulsive attack.

Pakistani Chief Government Spokesman and Information Minister Sheikh Rashid:
We condemn the attacks in London this morning...We offer our heartfelt sympathies to those who suffered due to such acts.



Bono on Bush: BFF (continued)

I did not watch Live 8. I am not going to buy Joshua Tree (who needs two copies anyway?). I will drink Starbucks.

Well, it looks like between falling off of bikes and defending his stance on Kyoto, President Bush has lost the admiration of our dear friend Bono to none other than German Prime Minister Schroeder.

While Bono's distracted by the alluring socialist charms of the Germans, his ally in rocking guitars, Bob Geldof, has been pushing the Prime Minister of Canada off Bush's agenda. Or maybe he was just more important.

I wonder if anyone is going to ask for an autograph?


INSULTING EVERYONE: A popular argument by the media is that President Bush ought to replace Sandra Day O'Connor's seat with another woman (even though it was filled by white males for the entire history of the country prior to O'Connor) or with an Hispanic (and by Hispanic, they mean Alberto Gonzales, not Emilio Garza. See "Gonzo for Gonzales").

This idea that the seat must be filled by a woman because only women can understand women's problems is truly insulting, not to mention inconsistent with the liberals' views on other topics. Aren't women and men the same anyway?

But the Hispanic argument is more baffling. Why must the Court have an Hispanic? Just because they represent a significant portion of the population? By that rationale, why not appoint an Asian-American, or a Native American? How about a homosexual? We have three Northeasterners on the Court, aren't they a little over-represented?

By singling out Hispanics, the media insult Hispanics by implying that they need "one of their own" on the Court to understand them. At the same time, this insults every other classification of people by implying that they don't deserve the same level of representation that Hispanics requires.

Rather than trying to fill quotas on the Court, how about our president and the senate think outside the box a little and just try nominating and confirming a highly qualified legal scholar without regard to his/her skin color or gender? Or is that unreasonable?

MORE HEADACHES FROM KENNEDY?: Here's a prediction for you. Bush nominates a through-and-through conservative to the high court. However, cases like Grutter v. Bollinger and Stenberg v. Carhart, in which O'Connor provided the crucial fifth vote, will not be overturned. Continuing his leftward trend, Justice Kennedy will vote to uphold the decisions in all these cases, citing his buddy stare decisis. Even if he sided with the conservatives on these major cases, he won't resist to change sides. After all, he's the same Kennedy who criticized Roe, then voted to reaffirm it in Planned Parenthood. He's the same Kennedy who declared the death penalty for juveniles constitutional in the late 1980's, but had a change of heart on that this year.

Perhaps I'm just trying to quell my excitement over replacing O'Connor with a reliable strict constructionist, but it very well make take a Stevens retirement before we see major changes on the high court.

By the way, my prediction assumes that Rehnquist either does not retire or retires and is replaced by a justice with a judicial philosophy similar to that of Rehnquist.

GONZO FOR GONZALES: For as much time the news shows have (rightfully) dedicated to the O'Connor retirement / replacement speculation, the shows have focused on only one person: Alberto Gonzales. Nevermind that the speculated short list includes upwards of a dozen people. Some get mentioned in passing, like J. Michael Luttig and Emilio Garza, but it's all Gonzales all the time on these shows. Suddenly, the man vilified for Guantanamo Bay and Abu-Ghraib is the darling of the liberal media.

I believe this is because the Tim Russerts, Chris Matthews, and George Stephanopolouses of the world think that if they discuss Gonzales enough, conventional wisdom will make him the nominee, and then Bush will have to nominate Gonzales, the most liberal person on the short list, far and away.

Excluding James Dobson, only the Tim Russerts, Chris Matthews, and George Stephanopolouses of the world are arrogant to think that they can twist the arm of the president. Bush is going to nominate whomever he pleases, no matter what any interest group wants.

I understand that he has the most name recognition of the persons on the suspected short list, but still, other candidates at least deserve a little discussion.


SUNDAY PAPERS: David Broder and Frank Rich wrote particularly important columns in their respective papers Sunday, each making a case for 1) metrics measuring US success in Iraq, and 2) a better way of communicating about the war there.

Broder writes that an overlooked provision in the Defense Appropriations bill calls for a Pentagon report detailing a "comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures of stability and security" by 11 July. He also makes the point that President Bush is the nation's first MBA president, who calls for regular reports on his various departments. This experience in data and measurement should hearten those of us who are worried about the ability for America to succeed in Iraq, but it's angering nonetheless that we've drifted by for the last two years without such hard-and-fast measurement of what is going on. As Broder writes, "[Bush] generally operates on the principle that if you can't measure something, you're flying blind." Why have we waited so long for congressional oversight? Why hasn't the White House kept better numbers and communicated them honestly and effectively?

Broder also quotes Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) who spoke eloquently on the subject: "Specifically, the administration should develop with Congress clear benchmarks or goals in key areas: security, governance and politics, reconstruction and burden-sharing. We in Congress should aggressively assert our oversight responsibility by insisting that the administration report on progress toward those goals every month in public testimony."

The flip side of Bush's two-fold problem with Iraq is his communication of American success there. Frank Rich notes that Bush's speech, which was the lowest rated among TV viewers during his presidency, played on fear imagery and 9/11 specters far too much, and accordingly it failed to achieve its objective to increase support for the war and the president's foreign policy. Rich writes, "By the fifth time [he mentioned 9/11], it was hard not to think of that legendary National Lampoon cover: 'If you don't buy this magazine, we'll kill this dog.'" Rich is right, even if it pains a Republican to say it.

Rich makes a generally lame comparison between Bush and TomKat's new movie, "War of the Worlds," which I have absolutely no desire to see (especially after Cruise's bizarre tirades and obvious publicity stunts -- I mean, Tom Cruise is so obviously gay it's painful; I just want to yell, "The jig is up Tom! Come out already! You've already ruined your career, so no one will care!"). I digress. Outside of that stupid, John S. Nelson-esque comparison (he even uses the word 'tropes', in his column -- I kid you not), which Rich usually makes for no apparent reason other than the fact that the Times gives him an ungodly amount of space to fill up each Sunday, the column goes on to say that Americans are becoming less emotionally involved in the war than they had been a year ago. How true that is! One reason is the fear rhetoric failing to work, another reason is that Iraqis have mastered Xenophobic "us-them" dichotomies far better than Americans have (despite conservatives mastering the technique in the 20th Century) as John Tierney noted in Saturday's Times, and the lack of a clear story with a consistent messages.

Rich writes we need a Plan C, "Mr. Bush could have addressed that question honestly on Tuesday night. Instead of once more cooking the books - exaggerating the number of coalition partners, the number of battle-ready Iraqi troops, the amount of non-American dollars in the Iraq kitty - he could have laid out the long haul in hard facts, explaining the future costs in manpower, money and time, and what sacrifices he proposes for meeting them. He could have been, as he is fond of calling himself, a leader. It was a blown opportunity, and it's hard to see that there will be another chance. Iraq may not be Vietnam, but The Wall Street Journal reports that the current war's unpopularity now matches the Gallup findings during the Vietnam tipping point, the summer of 1968. As the prospect of midterm elections pumps more and more genuine fear into the hearts of Republicans up for re-election, it's the Bush presidency, not the insurgency, that will be in its last throes." That's pretty scary stuff, and as I have said before, if the Democrats were really on top of things, Republicans would have much, much more to worry about because they would have a strong opposition that would capitalize on the uncertainty and listlessness of the current Republican course of action. I'm beginning to regret my support of Bob Dole over zealot-like support of Pat Buchanan in 1996.

Speaking of scary stuff, a Zogby poll released on Thursday said that 42 percent of voters would support impeaching President Bush if it was shown that he had lied about his reasons for the Iraq war, according to the Washington Post. The numbers are way higher than they were for Clinton's impeachment, and even higher among Republicans than among Democrats when Clinton was threatened with impeachment. Step Two would be finding out a hard-and-fast way of showing that Bush actually purposely mislead the public when it came to justifications for the war in Iraq. In that effort, Bush far surpasses Clinton in his ability to be scampish with words. (Check out Jon Stewart's recent, and very funny, satire on the difference, by clicking on the "War of the Words" box HERE.) The Post notes that there are several websites geared toward impeaching Bush: http://impeachcentral.com, http://impeachbush.org, http://thefourreasons.org, and http://afterdowningstreet.org. Alas, until President Bush lies about receiving oral pleasure in the Oval Office, I don't think we're going to get this Republican Congress to assert firm oversight in our international misadventures or the truthfulness of our president's statements about war, which have caused the deaths of 1,928 coalition troops as of June 28, 2005. Now call me crazy or crass, but I think that's a bigger blow job.

One last note of pessimism, a well-written article in Sunday's Times discusses the standard of living among America's middle class. Louis Uchitelle writes about how the standard of living by most indicators has stalled over the past four years after five years of major growth. We're now facing a reversion to pre-1995 levels of life-expentancy, income, job security, education, etc. Americans now fall behind the French, Germans, and Japanese in life-expentancy at birth. In the 1950s, we had figures that suprassed those of the same countries. A question for any politician to ask would be, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" The problem is that most Americans would say, "Yes." It's just that we've come to redefine success, match expectations with those of our president -- low, and we've also not faced the worst of it. Much like Bush's foreign policy, his domestic policy is facing a breaking point as well.



THE SPECULATION INTENSIFIES: And the early leaders in Tradesports.com's Supreme Court Nominee market are Alberto Gonzales and Emilio Garza.

My guy, Samuel Alito (AKA Scalito) lags behind. However, any of these picks (except Gonzales!) would be just fine with me.

Let the fun begin!

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