Democrats on Capitol Hill need to re-read Constitution...

W.House attacks planned Syria trip by House speaker | Politics | Reuters

How stupid do Democrats think Americans are? It appears as if the Democratic Party has decided that they are unwilling to wait for for the 2008 Elections to regain their authority on matters of US Foreign Policy.

Watching former-Senator Max Cleland on Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room made me want to punch the television set for several reasons. First, as a former-Senator, it would be reasonable to assume that Cleland maintains a fundamental understanding of the legislative process. One would be forgiven if they questioned the truth in this assumption having listened to his pathetic diatribe. One would be remiss if the failed to point out the pathetic nature of the reporting on the issue even amongst the most respectable in pop-media. I have posted a transcript of the conversation using Google's new and improved Notebook tool.

I did not see the entire interview, but I turned it on in time to hear Senator Cleland trying to get clever, insisting that the power to wage war in fact rests with the Congress. True, the Congress does have the sole authority to declare war, and it is also true that they have the authority to rescind a previous declaration. However, to make the point that this is what the Congress has in effect done with their NON-BINDING amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill passed this week should be taken as an insult to the intelligence of Wolf Blitzer and his audience.

To insist that this largely symbolic action in anyway is a Congressionally mandated repeal of the authority granted, by previous Congressional votes, to President Bush to wage war in Iraq. I agree with Senator Cleland that the Congress does in fact possess the power to de-authorize any previously granted war authorization, but anyone under the delusion that this is what was done earlier this week should be forced to retake the Constitutional exam every American citizens must pass to graduate high school and junior high.

Anyone who seriously watches and writes about Congress would understand that the Republican leadership would have led a filibuster against any serious Democrat attempt to alter the status quo in an official and binding manner. In fact, the only reason they did not filibuster a vote on this non-binding action is because of the importance of passing the emergency supplemental funding of American forces without giving the Democrats a reason to accuse them of unnecessarily delaying passage, which is ironic considering the fact that by adding this amendment and guaranteeing Bush's veto that is exactly what has happened anyway.

But Chris Matthews and his eccentric sidekick David Shuster take everything so seriously. Chris Matthews actually tried to tell Tom Delay on his own show that "..you can never pin down my politics, one way or the other.." or something of that nature, going into a hard break so Rahm and Steny and everybody else dancing on the tables at Nancy Pelosi's Napa vineyard don't have to witness the exchange of words he was about to have with The Hammer, who was getting obviously irritated with the narcissistic Hardball host.

To Blitzer's credit, he does attempt to point out the obvious absurdity in Cleland's comments by pointing out that the Congress does not have the two-thirds majority they need to override a presidential veto. It may be George Bush's fault, for never vetoing a bill in six years, that it can be depicted as if he were doing anything out of the ordinary. though this is hardly the most glaring hole in Cleland's argument, and Cleland's response that it will then be Bush's pen that prevents the troops from receiving the funding they need to carry on their mission makes me think that this weak attempt at being "fair and balanced" is in fact a carefully orchestrated manipulation of the facts.

It is a shame that the debate over the merits of our presence in Iraq has been marginalized to such an absurd degree, blame for which cannot only be cast upon the laughable posturing of Senator Reid and . The media's myopic obsession with Iraq is no doubt a catalyst, but what can really be done about that? Glenn Beck put it nicely the other night on his prime time CNN Headline News Show. I think the Republican Majority should have vetoed the vote on the non-binding resolution while attacking the cable news programs and demonstrating effectively that it was necessary to make sure the money was not delayed. However, the final showdown has not yet come, and the bill must come back once Bush kills it. This is an opportunity for a huge political home run, with momentum hopefully building from today through November 2008...


Cellular networks start associating names with numbers on caller-id...

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was shocked and impressed by a technology that is more than three months old. I take pride in the fact that I am a product of the generation that will forever be the last to truly remember the days before caller-id, which seem so archaic in retrospect, but in fact remain only about a decade since implemented universally in both the cellular and fixed-line telephone networks. As long as I can remember, content displayed by a caller-id screen has remained relatively fixed in style and content. Calls placed from a fixed-line, or a landline, to another fixed-line generally contain both the number of the calls origin, as well as the corressponding White or Yellow Pages listing associated with that number, with exceptions usually only in the case of 1-800 and 900 hundred numbers and in the case that the person placing the call wishes to mask there identity. Calls made from cellphones to fixed-lines have always, at least everywhere and everytime I have witnessed caller-id in action, included the number of origin and a generic classification as a "cellular call".

Yesterday while working with my aunt she informed me that when I had called her work phone the previous day she was a bit taken aback to see that my name had been attached to my cellular signature and was displayed as if I had called from my home landline. Admittedly, having never seen or heard of such a caller-id service, I too was taken aback and remained unconvinced until I witnessed for myself how my phone call was displayed on the screen of the phone behind the counter at her store.

What was even more interesting however, was the confusion we experienced when my twin sisters, who are 14 year-old high school freshmen, and whom have long possessed cell phones registered in my mother's name and entirely unassociated from their identities, appeared with the their first initial followed by our last name, Edwards. If my mother does indeed remain the sole contractee in the agreement for there service packages with T-Mobile, how did they know my sister's initials? I haven't yet reached peace with this matter, as it seems clear that unless my mother, or my sisters, volunteered this information to T-Mobile and have subsequently forgotten, or their identities were discovered by monitoring the private services that go along with the phone upon purchase, such as voicemail, text messages and still from time-to-time old-fashioned telephone calls. Short of reviewing the bills my mother receives from T-Mobile on my sister's behalf, I see no practical or immediately apparent explanation for the inadvertant though accurate use of information such as this.

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Shut up and wait until 2008!

Wired News: E-Vote Memo is a "Smoking Gun"

In the months leading up to the November midterm elections, Democratic operatives were all over the cable news channels screaming FOUL and pointing fingers at Karl Rove, whom they all insisted was lurking in the shadows recruiting and dispatching his team of GOP hackers around the country to rig the ballot 'drives' (I guess) to ensure a Republican majority. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and their radical kin were more than willing to oblige, giving these political hacks unchallenged airtime to spew their slanderous preemptive damage control, while barely even pretending like they might doubt the truth behind these baseless accusations.

Sure enough, the Democrats won on the merits and for the most part, discussion of voter fraud, disenfranchisement and e-vote tampering almost, ALMOST evaporated from the political airwaves. However, Democratic candidate Christine Jennings from Florida's 13th Congressional District has been unable to come to terms with the certified results of her narrow 400-vote loss to Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan. She went to Washington and made her way into the group photo of Democrats elected to the 110th Congress, even though she had yet to be elected by anyone, and ever since she had her moment in the spotlight Jennings has aggressively pursued every and any course of action to try and get the courts to agree with her determination that e-Vote fraud led to a suspiciously low turnout and handed the election to her opponent.

First of all Ms. Jennings, why don't you save the money you have been wasting on legal fees and publicity in your futile attempt to get into a Congress that has left you behind. Instead, put that money toward your 2008 campaign and try to win the seat back with your IDEAS and POLICIES, instead of your legal tap dancing. Have some pride. Sit down and shut up, it is only another 6 months before election season will be back in full swing.

Has anyone ever heard a single Republican bitch about voter fraud and electronic vote tampering? I don't doubt that someone has, but they certainly haven't done so on any of the major national news networks.If memory serves me accurately, there were a dozen or more Congressional races that came down in favor of the Democrats by a margin of 1,000 votes or fewer. If we are going to recount the ballots in Florida's 13th Congressional District, why not recount the ballots in all of these races too? Who knows what would happen if we actually did count all of those ballots manually. One wouldn't be out of line at all to suggest that there might be several Democratic Congressmen and ladies who find themselves backing there bags early and forfeiting their seat to a GOP opponent who had so quickly become a distant memory. I live in Cook County. Nobody needs to tell me about the voice of the dearly departed and kinda-sorta citizens who proudly cast their ballots for the Democrats in my city, and have in some cases for the last 50+ years. Someone needs to remind the Democrats that it is always wise to quit while they are ahead.

I'll trade you one Pryor, for a Hagel and a Smith...

In a flagrant and irresponsible move, the Senate voted on Tuesday along party lines (with two exceptions on the GOP side of the aisle and one on the left, which I alluded to in the title of this post and will expound upon below) to reject an amendment put forth by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to strike from the military appropriations bill language which calls for a time certain withdrawal of troops from Iraq, setting the target date for combat troop redeployment of March 2008, one year from this month and smack-dab in the middle of the presidential primaries all around the country. Essentially, the vote is a populist driven distortion of the Senate's true constitutional function, marking an overt attempt by the governing majority to impose a change in national foreign policy on the sitting president. Nearly 250 years of American involvement in global affairs, particularly matters of war, have been managed solely by the White House, with oversight and allocation of funding reserved as the main function of the Senate, but to attach an amendment that flies in the face of Executive authority, and if signed into law would radically alter and limit the president's ability to wage the battle in Baghdad, has me puzzled in almost every way.

The democrats are clearly governing based on the polls they have been reading in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, while still riding high after their resounding victory in the midterm elections, and sense that by forcing the president's hand early in the game they will be able to shape the debate in the lead-up to next years presidential election. Clearly the kool-aid being spewed by the Bush-bashing correspondents on MSNBC and CNN, not to mention the doubly potent elixir pompous finger-pointing pundits at the New York Times (yes Mr. Friedmann, I mean you) have been regurgitating since they decided to turn their backs on a situation in the Middle East that they are largely intellectually responsible for, has been happily lapped up by ignorant Democratic freshman and otherwise more reasoned Senate veterans alike.

Anyone who listens to the speeches given by Democratic Senators both on the floor of the Senate chamber and on the campaign trail, and actually possessed half a brain cell that they devoted to reasoned analysis, would probably find such a bold move away from fighting the "insurgents" in favor of retreating to safer ground to be confusing at best, dishonorable for sure. But more on this in a subsequent post...

Democratic Profile in Courage: Senator Pryor Casts Lone Ray of Optimism Amid Partisan Pandering

One profile in courage that I cannot go without noting (but likely to be overlooked by the folks at the Kennedy Presidential Library when they decide whom to award this designation to at their annual gala in honor of the former-president's graduate thesis at Harvard on similarly bold and courageous lawmakers unafraid of standing up to their political superiors in the name of pride and moral duty) was that of Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR). In defiance of his caucus and without much being made of it amongst the talking heads, Pryor voted for the second time in as many weeks to reject a democratic led constitutional coup, and voted his conscience. The MSNBC producers were so confused by his vote that they improperly branded the charismatic and clearheaded Democrat a Republican during much of their coverage on Tuesday when they showed his photo during discussion of the impending vote! I found this particularly surprising considering they never failed to highlight his party allegiance when he was leading the charge against the attorney general for the previous two weeks, but that story has been moved from the headlines to Page 2 (maybe 3 or 4) for the time being; though I am confident it will be back, along with the capital D after Pryor's name in no time.

Bravo Senator Pryor; I commend your principled approach to your duties as a public servant, and I guess I can give you a pass for leading the unjustified and slanderous witch hunt against Alberto Gonzales (as long as you don't buckle under pressure when the time comes to vote on this measure again once Dubya has exercised his veto power when this bill reaches his desk later in the week).

Two Republicans Succumb to Opportunistic Impulse and Disgracefully Cast Deciding Votes with Democrats

Unfortunately, Senator Pryor's courage will never emerge from beneath the national political radar because of the reckless and opportunistic decisions of Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE; left) to undermine their party's otherwise unified attempt to salvage the Senate's collective dignity and avoid delaying the much needed funding allocated in the DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL. Voting along with his less than dignified colleagues on the left side of the aisle, Hagel is likely betting his chances on ever seeing the Oval Office from any other perspective than that of a humble guest on his clearly politically calculated vote yesterday, though I doubt Senator Reid is eager to share any of the dubious credit the media is eagerly looking to shower on the emboldened Senate radicals. On his Congressional website Smith gives his brief policy position on Defense and Foreign Policy, which reads as follows:

The American military and our foreign policy have a long history of benefitting not only our citizens, but also countless millions of people throughout the world. Our policies deter nuclear proliferation, fight terrorism, battle disease, and opens new markets by spreading free market and democratic values abroad.

The United States is the greatest humanitarian nation in the world, contributing assistance to some 150 countries worldwide. As you know, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, we have given millions of dollars to non-governmental organizations all over the world through a multitude of programs, fostering positive change and touching the lives of countless individuals.

Maintaining our global leadership in these areas also brings us great rewards – democratic allies and a safer world in which the U.S. and other nations can prosper.

Needless to say, the Senator's vote hardly reflects the principles he chooses to espouse rhetorically for casual observers, any of whom would have been unlikely to guess accurately how Smith would have voted on Tuesday after reading this brief statement, which gives an ambiguous and idealistic view of the role that America should play in global affairs. Shame on you Senator Smith, and you as well Senator Hagel; may you both lose your re-elections in the most embarrassing and humiliating fashions possible. If only we (Republicans) could trade your lame-asses for the brass balls and conviction of Senator Pryor; for I am confident in asserting that the country, our troops and the ideals of American leadership which you both dishonorably pay false homage to would be better off if that swap were made.

I will curtail my ranting before I scare away anymore readers, but I could go on forever. Several questions that I have been muttering to myself for the past few hours (to the chagrin of my girlfriend who is working diligently on her law school paper a few feet away from me) will likely produce a series of outbursts as the day wears on. Among the more perplexing are: Who is advising the democrats on which issues are worth the risk of alienating their moderate base? Where the hell was Senator Enzi? How can Bush effectively turn the tables on the Democrats when he presents his case for vetoing this measure (answer likely to follow shortly)? What is going to be the national/international reaction to this largely symbolic, though historic bill? When is the country going to start cutting through the crap? Like I said, I could rant for hours and thousands upon thousands of more words. For now, I will reflect...


Is John Edwards' decision to stay in the race selfish?

I was watching John and Elizabeth Edwards on 60 Minutes last night with my parents, sisters and grandma, and I was interested to hear what they had to say about the former-Senator's decision to stay in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in light of the recent discovery that his wife's cancer had returned. The prognosis for Elizabeth Edwards' future is not especially promising, in fact it could be classified as down-right grim. Her breast cancer has spread to her bones, and had it not been for an accidental injury sustained to her ribcage the disease would have spread throughout her body unchecked. Her doctor has said that the cancer is no longer curable, but merely "treatable", which is not an encouraging diagnosis, but with the advancements in modern medicine it is entirely possible that she will live normally for years to come. The Edwards have appeared together to assert that the campaign will go on, insisting that John is the best man to lead the country for the next eight years. But is this decision selfish, and would it be best for the Edwards family if John dropped out of the race?

Personally, I would do exactly what Senator Edwards has done, stay in the race and go on with life as if everything was normal. Maybe I share Senator Edwards' narcissistic tendencies, but if anyone thought that they were truly the best person to lead the country for the next eight years then it would be irresponsible, in my opinion, to leave the race under any circumstances. Edwards offers a unique and attractive option to Democratic primary voters who are unwilling to support another Clinton and are uncomfortable voting for an inexperienced Senator Obama.

My family took a very different position, insisting that it was selfish and unfair to the Edwards' children, the youngest of which are merely 6 and 8 years-old. They could not understand why someone would put their own ambitions ahead of their family and children's best interests. I cannot say that I approve of their sentiments, so I decided to ask my girlfriend her opinion since she typically makes a good arbiter on issues such as this. In her opinion, nobody is in a position to determine the merit of a decision that is so deeply personal. But in the world of blogs and 24 cable news, who is to say what is off-limits and what is not? What do you think?


Future of Apple is in logging time...

Apple lets customers in on the advanced features to be expected from their next "Large Cat OS", Leopard, on the companies website and the most innovative features are very exciting. The most recent selected disclosure surrounds the concept of creating a "scrollable" history of each edit made to any program, folder, file, etc. Leopard has been rumored as of late to be behind schedule, with internal sources hinting that the company will miss its April target for public release. As a recent Mac convert I am ecstatic and eagerly anticipate the release of Apple's answer to Vista, regardless of whether or not it will be released on time or not. Lets not forget that Vista was released about 18 months after it was originally projected to hit shelves. This feature is one of many enticing new components Apple is bringing to the table in their new OS. A profile of all Leopard advancements can be viewed here.


Disturbing video of Chicago cop beating petite female bartender on westside...

I was shocked and appalled when I saw the video of an off duty Chicago police officer who went into an alcohol induced frenzy at a west-side bar, Jesse's Shortstop Inn (5514 W. Belmont), and ended up behind the bar brutally beating the female bartender while the bar's other male patrons look on in shock. It is only when a clearly elderly man steps steps in between the officer and the bartender, who was huddled in the fetal position on the floor.

You can view the video on CBS 2 News website, and once I can find an embeddable version I will be updating.

Here are some links to what other people are saying about this on other blogs.
The Liberty Zone
Erik's ramblings


Colin Falls is my hero...

I am sitting in my basement watching the last minute of the Notre Dame v. Winthrop first round game of the NCAA Tourney and it doesn't look promising for my old friend and former high school teammate Colin Falls. Sadly, it appears as if he is making his first and final appearance during March Madness in the last of his distinguished four year college career. The Irish made a good run, coming back from down 20 in the second half to take the lead with 2:00 to go, but sloppy execution down the stretch from their underclassmen gave Winthrop their first ever Tourney victory. As it turns out Colin is named player of the game for ND, but I doubt that means much to him. Colin only cares about winning; personal accolades was always an afterthought. It saddens me to think that I may have just watched Colin play for the last time in front of a national audience (though I am hopeful his skill will not go unnoticed when its time for NBA draft day this summer), so I thought I would take this opportunity to give my two-cents on the Colin Falls that I know.

Colin's potential to be a standout college hoopster was evident to me the first time I saw him play when he was in 7th grade. I was a freshman at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois competing furiously with his older brother Brendan for playing-time on the Freshman basketball squad and Colin's St. Juliana team came to play in the annual tournament Loyola hosted for the local parochial schools. I remember hearing rumors that he had dunked for the first time earlier that year (which is a year younger than LeBron James was when he accomplished the same feat interestingly) and that he had to sit out half the game usually because he would rack up 30+ points by halftime and his coaches thought it better to spare the opposition the embarrassment of trying to contain him for a full game.

By the time he arrived at the Academy for his freshman year he was more than ready for varsity action, in fact, he may have already been good enough to play at some small colleges. I had managed to survive the rat race tryouts that fall, earning a spot on the varsity team as well, but only by the skin of my teeth. I had no idea at the time, but the next two years would be the most rewarding and memorable moments of my athletic career. Sure, we were good, no doubt about that, and I did have my moments of fleeting glory, but what stands out in my head today when I think about those days isn't doesn't involve sold-out gymnasiums, or our 22-game winning streak. What I will never forget is 3pm practice everyday after classes, because I got to chase Colin around the gym for a few hours.

The disappointment of his final college game will probably eat away at Colin for sometime to come, but I trust that he will eventually look back on his college career and realize that he put on quite a show. Every time I had the opportunity to catch one of his games on ESPN my competitive juices started flowing and I lost control of my emotions, taking out my frustrations on the inanimate TV screen, or anyone who was unlucky enough to be within earshot.

Never in my life have I had the pleasure to know, or compete with a better athlete, in any sport, which says a lot for the skinny white-boy from the suburbs of Chicago, considering the fact that I have several ex-teammates from my college baseball days that are currently headed toward the Major Leagues. I would enjoy nothing more than to see Colin end up making a career out of his unparalleled stroke from behind the arc, but it is difficult to say for certain that professional athletics will be in his future. Either way, thanks for the memories Colin, and best of luck, whatever the future may bring.


Gingrich is as good as in...

AP Wire | 03/09/2007 | Gingrich confession spurs talk of presidential bid

Newt Gingrich made a belated mea culpa this week regarding his less than distinguished conduct during the now infamous Watergate Investigations into the alledgedly nefarious and deceptive actions of then-President Bill Clinton, specifically that he was engaged in an extra-marital affair at the time. Considering the fact that his plea for forgiveness has come nearly a decade after leaving Congress, I think it would be reasonable to assume that the former-Speaker of the House is more than just considering a run for the Republican nomination in 2008. A Gingrich candidacy has long been anticipated by Washington insiders, with Gingrich himself remaining consistently ambiguous, insisting that he will not announce his decision until September. But it seems unlikely, at least to me, that a man of his stature would expose himself and his family to the inevitable media attention and criticism for sins long forgiven if he was not dead set on mounting his charge for the GOP nomination in next years primaries.

There is no question that Newt is qualified, maybe even the most qualified of the likely contenders, and I suspect he would get the resounding endorsement of the religious right, which was proved instrumental in putting W over the top in his two presidential campaigns. There are few politicians in America that possess Gingrich's love for public service, and even fewer that possess his passion for the mundane affairs of bureaucratic micromanagement. When I was working in Washington for Speaker Hastert, I was shocked to see Gingrich's name appearing almost daily on the witness lists for committee hearings, sometimes two, three, even four hearings in one day! Considering the fact that the Congressmen who sit on these committees rarely consider the business before them serious enough to command their presence, such pure, unadulterated passion for the affairs of the Congress gave me the impression that Gingrich was either a very lonely man, or he was keeping himself fresh for a fight still to come.

To be continued...


Devin Hester is God...

So I have finally emerged from my state of depression following the Bears loss to the Colts in the Super Bowl and I was searching YouTube today for videos of Devin Hester's return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown. To my surprise there wasn't one clip listed that wasn't taken with a camcorder by someone in the stands, so obviously they are of low quality, but each one gave me goosebumps when I watched them, so I thought I would post them here to help bring some of my fellow Bears fans out of the funk that has been hanging like a lake-effect fog over Chicago for the last month. Devin, you are the man!