Archive for March, 2007

Mountain Farm

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Farm just off Highway 194 between Boone and Banner Elk, NC.

Quote of the Day

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

“That’s why we criminalize pot and ecstasy, and allow massive distribution of booze and tobacco. Marijuana is a gateway drug, after all. If you smoke it you might move on to far more dangerous substances, like beer.” – Andrew Sullivan

The Genocide No One Notices

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Daniel Allott bemoans the lack of commitment to ending the crisis in Darfur:

The United Nations has spent four years making non-credible threats against Sudan. Unfortunately for the U.N.–and most especially for the people of Darfur–the Sudanese government has taken none of these threats seriously.

This reality is not lost on United Nations Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown. Speaking candidly at a recent Brookings Institute event, Brown admitted that in Darfur: “…there is a little bit of bluff playing, in that we’re saying to President Bashir of Sudan, give us consent for deployment or else. And there’s a lot of questions about what plausibly the ‘or else’ is. And President Bashir looks at us and he thinks he’s seen us blink, and that makes it hugely difficult to credibly address this issue of winning his consent to our deployment.”

The UN rarely does much about anything. This is a shame, because adequetly addressing the Darfur crisis falls squarely in their job description. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that if anything is going to be done, someone else is going to have to do it. Allott suggests that France, of all countries, may hold the key to solving the crisis.

Vote Buying and Iraq

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

The House passed a bill today demanding that U.S. troops leave Iraq by the end of August 2008. The vote was mostly along partisan lines, with only 2 Republicans voting in favor and 14 Democrats voting against (plus a number who voted “present” or not at all).

The big news seems to be the “vote buying” that aided in passage of the legislation. Indeed, the Washington Post editorialized against it today:

The Democrats claim to have a mandate from voters to reverse the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq. Yet the leadership is ready to piece together the votes necessary to force a fateful turn in the war by using tactics usually dedicated to highway bills or the Army Corps of Engineers budget. The legislation pays more heed to a handful of peanut farmers than to the 24 million Iraqis who are living through a maelstrom initiated by the United States, the outcome of which could shape the future of the Middle East for decades.

This is really nothing new. Vote buying has become a staple in Congress. Political scientist Diana Evans even authored a book arguing that Congress would be paralyzed if not for the complex vote buying schemes through which pork is distributed in return for support for certain bills.

The fact that it’s commonplace doesn’t make it right, of course. It’s a sad fact that Washington has come to this, and it’s even sadder when support for funding and timetables for our troops (whose very lives, both sides argue, are closely linked to said legislation) is swapped for agricultural subsidies.

What is most mystifying about this arrangement is the fact that this legislation will never become law anyway. In the Senate, it will be filibustered, and even if passes there, will be vetoed by President Bush. Thus pork was handed out for what is, at best, only a symbolic resolution.

The culture of corruption is still alive and well in Washington. Reform is needed now more than ever.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a list of the pork bribes.

UPDATE II: This post is taking part in the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Iran Captures British Troops

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

This is bad:

An Iranian naval patrol seized 15 British marines and sailors who had boarded a vessel suspected of smuggling cars off the coast of Iraq, military officials said.

The British government immediately demanded the safe return of its troops and summoned Tehran’s London ambassador to explain the incident.

The Royal Marines and ordinary naval officers were believed to have been apprehended by up to six ships from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy who claimed they had violated Iranian waters.

This could end badly.

Volunteering Early

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

The national primary is thundering closer to reality:

Tennessee is one step closer to joining a growing number of states that will hold their presidential primary on the first Tuesday in February. The House voted 91-2 on Thursday to move next year’s primary from Feb. 12 to Feb 5. The Senate has yet to vote on the proposal, which is supported by leaders of both parties.

It’s hard to fault states for trying to enhance their own electoral prowess, but the result of everyone moving their primary dates forward is to simply hand power to the larger states who have more delegates. The drama of the primary season will also be sacrificed.

Lees-McRae College

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Banner Elk, NC

Gonzales the Human Piñata

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Ruben Navarrette Jr. takes those jumping on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to task:

The nation’s first Hispanic attorney general is being pressured to resign by — pick ‘em — Democrats trying to make hay, an elite media that long opposed him, civil libertarians who condemn administration policy on detainees and wiretaps, conservatives who think Gonzales is too liberal, and liberals who think he’s too conservative.

Now, some of Gonzales’ actions have been questionable, and I do think the civil libertarian criticisms have some validity. That said, I’m not sure that the current debacle is the big deal it has been made out to be.

It is true that the Bush Administration has made errors in dealing with it. The President failed to strongly defend Gonzales, and just failed to fight back in general. This is a frequent and accurate criticism of the Bush Administration. But it doesn’t mean Gonzales should be fired. He has committed no crime. Perhaps it was wrong to fire prosecutors, I don’t know. But it wasn’t illegal. Indeed, Bill Clinton fired 93 of them. But the Democrats (and some opportunistic Republicans) smell blood in the water.

Edwards Suspends Campaign

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

John Edwards is apparently going to announce that he is suspending his campaign in light of his wife’s recent recurrence of cancer. This is certainly a tough break. We all wish Mrs. Edwards and her family a speedy recovery during this difficult time.

UPDATE: Edwards is not suspending his campaign; it will continue ahead.

But They Still Have More Fun

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

I guess I don’t have a future in Mid East Diplomacy:

Blond, blue-eyed Westerners probably can’t be as successful at Middle East diplomacy as Japanese with their “yellow faces,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying on Wednesday.

“Japan is doing what Americans can’t do,” the Nikkei business daily quoted the gaffe-prone Aso as saying in a speech.

“Japanese are trusted. If (you have) blue eyes and blond hair, it’s probably no good,” he said.

“Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.”