January 31, 2006

What I Got from the SOTU

The moment for me that had the most significance was when Bush mentioned the $880 billion of their own money taxpayers have kept since the tax cuts. One side of the aisle stood and cheered. The other sat motionless.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:47 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Reagan on Crime

The Reagan Ranch 2006 calendar quote for January.

Controlling crime in American society is not simply a question of more money, more police, more courts, more prosecutors; it's ultimately a moral dilemma... he war on crime will only be won when... certain truths take hold again... truths like right and wrong matters; individuals are responsible for their own actions; retribution should be swift and sure for those who prey upon the innocent.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:59 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 30, 2006

The Power of John Kerry

John Kerry put on a stunning display of Senatorial power today. And with the full support of Senators Kennedy and Clinton there was never any doubt about the result.

Kerry's call for a filibuster of the Ailto confirmation was defeated 72-25.

It looks like we're going to get option #2.

I wonder if it would be out of line to have Alito's swearing in happen during the State of the Union.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 29, 2006

State of The Union

Radio Open Source has put out call for bloggers to submit their own State of The Union message, called BOTU - Blogs of the Union.

How could I resist.

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished citizens and fellow citizens, every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. Today the union appears strong and healthy and vibrant. But appearances can be deceiving.
We find ourselves on the edge of an economic disaster that it may be too late to forestall. We will face tough times ahead, and tough choices.
In the span of a few decades we have transformed ourselves from a nation of producers to a nation of debtors. As a nation and as individuals we consume more than we produce. We spend more than we earn. There will come a day when we can no longer afford to make the payments on the debt and there is nothing else left to borrow.
It is in some ways a credit to the American spirit of optimism and our belief that we as individuals and a nation can accomplish anything, that we borrow today firm in our belief that we will be able to pay tomorrow. But for some time now we have forgotten that tomorrow will come, and those debts will come due.
We no longer save and invest in this country. We no longer look at something we want, be it a big screen TV or or a government program and think of these things as something we must work toward. We do not value these things because they come so cheaply and easily. We simply decide we want them and we borrow to make it happen.
Our economic numbers look good on the surface. GDP is up. Unemployment is down. Inflation is not a concern. These are good times. But this success is driven by consumption not production. By borrowed money not earned wealth. Such a system cannot sustain itself indefinitely.
We need to take action and we need to take action immediately. Not to prevent a credit crisis, but to hopefully lessen it's impact. I cannot as President tell the citizens of this nation how they should run their lives and manage their finances. Those are decision left to the free people of a free nation. What I can do is work to get the finances of the nation, the federal government, under control.
In the coming weeks I will be submitting a budget to the Congress. It is a budget that will challenge them to make some tough choices. My budget will call for a 2% across the board reduction in all federal spending every year for the next 10 years. This is not, as it has been in the past, a reduction in the rate of growth of spending. This is an actual reduction in the amount of money the government will spend. Or in other words a reduction in the amount of money the government will borrow. This will in the case of some entitlement programs require additional legislation beyond the budget resolution. I call upon the congress to address these issues swiftly and decisively.
My fellow citizens, our nation has faced and weathered hard times in the past including the great depression and the runaway inflation and oil embargo of the seventies, and it will do so again. In the years ahead we all, the federal government included, will have to tighten our belts and get our financial houses in order. We can do this. We must do this. We must start now.
For over two centuries America has been a beacon of freedom and prosperity to the world. It is our task, our duty, to not let that light go dark.
Thank you.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:33 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

January 28, 2006

John Kerry Blogs at Daily Kos

The only question is which one is jumping the shark?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:26 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 27, 2006

It Must Be The Lack of Oxygen

What do John Kerry and Eason Jordan have in common?

I know, probably a lot. But it is certain that they have both suffered the ill effects of high altitudes in the Swiss Alps. And that is the subject of the latest Hold The Mayo Podcast.

Altitude Sickness.

Remember you can subscribe to the Hold The Mayo Podcast via the iTunes Music Store, or use the RSS feed.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:16 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Four Score and Twenty Memes Ago...

I've read this little meme of fours at blogs everywhere. I picked it up from Ted. Because if Ted does it, it must be OK.

Four Jobs That I've Had:
1. Donut maker
2. Mutual Fund Salesman (I really stunk at this)
3. Print Shop Manager
4. Designer

Four Movies I can watch over and over again:
1. Lord of the Rings
2. A Christmas Story
3. Dead Poets Society
4. Finding Forester

Four T.V. Shows I love to don't mind watch(ing): (I'm not a TV fan)
1. House
2. Myth Busters
3. Iron Chef
4. CSI

Four Website's I read Daily (Since Ted doesn't post every day):
1. Volvo Ocean Race
2. Powerline
3. Fox News
4. New York Times

Four Places I've Been on Vacation:
1. Sailing the Maine Coast
2. Aspen
3. Jackson Hole
4. Newport, RI

Four Favorite Foods:
1. Filet
2. Spaghetti
3. Mexican
4. Chinese, Thai, Japanese

Four places I’d rather be:
1. Melbourne Australia working the bow on a Volvo Open 70
2. Melbourne Australia working the pit on a Volvo Open 70
3. Melbourne Australia cleaning the bilge on a Volvo Open 70
4. Melbourne Australia hand polishing the hull of a Volvo Open 70
5. Melbourne Australia climbing the mast on a Volvo Open 70 sailing 25 knots in 50 mph winds in a driving rain with an air temperature of 40° F.

Like Ted, I'm not tagging anyone to do this, because if it's not self sustaining, it's not really a meme now is it?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:50 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 23, 2006

Celebrating a Pyrrhic Victory

Glen Reynolds points to several bloggers cheering as a free-speech victory the Supreme Court ruling in the case Wisconsin Right to Life v FEC. The court ruled that the decision in the first challenge to the BCRA, McConnell v. FEC which upheld the abridgment of free speech immediately prior to an election, did not preclude the filing of future "as-applied challenges." Which means that if you think the FEC has improperly applied BCRA to your particular advertising, you still have the right to petition the government for redress.

Mike Krempasky of Red State, Ann Althouse and Rick Hasen all consider this a victory. And I guess in some small sense they are right. At least the Supreme Court did not cast aside our right to petition for redress in the same way it did our freedom of speech. But really, what have we won in this case?

We have won the further legitimization of BCRA's infringement of our free speech rights. The FEC can still decide what is and isn't allowable political speech 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election. If you don't like their decision, you are free to let a federal court decide if you may speak. All this ruling has done is clarify the mechanisms through which the federal government decides who is allowed to say what.

The only slim ray of hope in all of this is that maybe someday one of these "as-applied challenges" will wind up before the Supreme Court. And when that day comes, maybe the Court will dump BCRA where it belongs, on the ash heap of history.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

The Power of Congress

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline takes the Washington Post to task for its analysis of the White House's legal defense of the NSA terrorist surveillance.

The Post does not accept the administration position that under the Hamdi ruling the Authorization of Use of Military Force authorizes the surveillance of international terrorist communications with persons in the U.S. without a warrant. The Post beleives that because unlike the Hamdi case, Congress had specifically legislated on this issue that the AUMF does not authorize the surveillance.

Unfortunately for the Post the specific legislation they say trumps the AUMF is FISA which contains an exemption for actions authorized by another statute.

Mirengnoff notes:

The Post stresses that if the administration's view is accepted, it would call into question Congress' ability to prevent the president from doing a host of things the Post does not want the president to do.
I have seen this argument in other places, that the President's actions and the subsequent legal defense are a usurpation of congressional and judicial authority. But This just doesn't ad up. Congress passed FISA, including its exception for actions authorized by statute. Congress passed the AUMF and the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Hamdi case acknowledges that the AUMF encompasses all incidents of war.

It would certainly seem that the White House is acting not in usurpation of congressional and judicial authority but under authority both bodies have acknowledge the president to possess. And if either of the branches desired limiting the president's authority in this area they should have done so in their legislation or rulings respectively.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:45 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 22, 2006

Can Fortune Be Far Behind

The Hold The Mayo Podcast has been accepted and is now available at the iTunes Music Store. Simply go to iTunes and search for my name or Hold The Mayo.

Don't have iTunes? Point whatever other thing you use to gather podcasts to nomayo.mu.nu/mayocast.xml.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 20, 2006

Howard Dean, Judge, Jury, MD, Lunatic

After Millions of dollars spent investigating the Plame "leak," with nothing to show for it but one indictment for making false statements, we learn today that in fact Karl Rove did it. We learn this from Howard Dean in the New York Times coverage of Rove's speech to a room full of "nervous Republicans."

"Rove's political standing gets him an invitation to address Republicans in Washington, D.C., today, but it doesn't give him the credibility to question Democrats' commitment to national security," Mr. Dean said. "The truth is, Karl Rove breached our national security for partisan gain and that is both unpatriotic and wrong." (emphasis added)
If Howard Dean has information proving his allegations against Rove, why didn't he give this information to the special prosecutor? If Dean has this proof and didn't give it to the special prosecutor, why isn't he facing charges for impeding and investigation?

Since the special prosecutor hasn't filed any charges against Rove, why doesn't the Times mention that fact after Dean's baseless accusation?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:49 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 19, 2006

A Pirate's Life

Here's an update on the Volvo Ocean Race.

The lead boats are closing in on the finish of leg two, which began in Cape Town, South Africa and ends in Melbourne, Australia. It has been an eventful leg. One boat dropped out due to serious breakdowns early in the leg. A second boat, Brazil 1, returned to South Africa and spent 5 days repairing serious damage to the deck and hull, and resumed racing. They were making steady gains on the boat, ING Real Estate Brunel which was only able to sail at about 75% due to some non-boat threatening damage. It was reported yesterday that a shroud fitting failed and Brazil 1 lost their mast. (For non sailors a shroud is a cable or rod that holds the mast up.) They have effected some sort of jury rig and are continuing to sail.

My favorite, Pirates of the Caribean has second place for a while, but slipped back to third. then some structural damage around the keel forced them to ease of to about 80%. Anything more than that and they were taking on too much water. they have since fallen into fourth. When the reached Eclipse Island off the western Australian coast they pulled in for a pit stop and effected some repairs that will allow them to continue the leg.

Along the way the boat ABN 2 set a new 24 hour record for a mono-hull sail boat. The sailed 563 nautical miles (648 miles) at an average speed of 23.4 knots (27mph). Congratulations.

Yes. I still wish that I could do this.

To give you a sense of what is like out there I've copied an email from the Black Pearl into the extended entry. more...

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:59 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 18, 2006

None of the Above.

There are a lot of big things coming our way in 2006. Right out of the gate there was the Alito nomination fight. On top of this there's the whole Abramoff scandal. This year we will begin to draw down troop levels in Iraq.

The Democrat's chief cut and run spokesman John Murtha has expressed concern that a gradual withdrawal will give the impression of victory. He's right, it will. But it's not enough to give the impression. At some point Bush needs to stand up to people like Murtha and say "It looks like victory because that's what it is." Will he do it? I just don't know.

There is of course the possibility of yet another Supreme Court nomination. Just imagine the fight if Bush gets to replace Stevens.

But the biggest foreseeable story for the year has to be the Congressional election. This mid-term election will not be about which candidate will best serve which constituency. In this Congressional campaign there will be no local races. This election will be about nothing but which party controls the Congress.

Given that there is no viable third option, we are stuck with having to choose either the Republicans or the Democrats. We are between a rock and a hard place.

There has been a Republican in the White House for five years. There has been steadily growing Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. And what has that gotten us?

The administration, despite the Congress, has done a good job of dealing with terrorism. It took the massacre of 9/11 to force a national policy shift from reactive to proactive. No longer do we respond to terrorism by going after terrorists after they attack. Now we are actively going after terrorists and actively trying to change the things in the world that make terrorism possible.

Put that one as a big plus for the Republican White House.

As for the Republicans nominally in control of congress they have barely put up a fight against the defeatists in the minority. With the possible exception of the House Republicans forcing a vote on Democratic calls for immediate withdrawal.

We have Republican control of government to thank for increasing federal control of public education. I haven't had the time to do the research into the numbers, but I would not be at all suprised to discover a correlation between the slow and steady decline in education and the slow and steady usurpation of this local function by the federal government. And as for leaving no child behind, the easiest way to that is not to raise the level of those at the bottom but make sure no one at the top gets too far ahead.

This Republican government brought us the largest growth in the welfare state since the dawn of The Great Society. The reasoning is pretty simple. As the boomer generation reaches the Medicare age in mass numbers, the party that is seen as the one buying them drugs will presumably get the AARP vote. I find it incredibly dishonest for the Republicans to be arguing that we need to privatize Social Security because the demographics show that it will go broke while at the same time creating a huge new entitlement for the same group. If the current and next generations of working people cannot afford to pay for baby boomers retirement how in the hell are we supposed to pay for their medication.?

And just where were Congressional Republicans when the President was trying to advance the idea of privatizing Social Security? They were hanging out with Congressional Democrats making sure that federal involvement in individual's lives was not diminished by giving them back a very small portion of their independence.

The Republicans did manage to cut income taxes. TEMPORARILY. A welcome half-measure that is at least better than a tax increase.

Fiscally the Republicans seem to have abandoned the idea of limited government. They have been spending like drunken sailors. Like drunken Democrat sailors.

As for being the party of big business, and in particular big oil, the Republicans have been useless when it comes to energy policy. I have lost track of the number of times that one house of Congress passed a measure that would allow for oil exploration in a very small portion of the vast Alaska National Wildlife Reserve only to have the other chamber block it. It makes one wonder if the leadership gets together and plays a game of rock paper scissors and the winner gets to pass it. The loser has to block.

ANWAR oil reserves have been estimated as high as a 20 year supply. Even if you cut that in half, think of what we could accomplish in the world, and in the middle east, in the 10 years they didn't have us over a barrel.

Critics of the war in Iraq like to chant that this a war for oil. Just what do they think was the motivation behind decades of foreign policy aimed at maintaining the status quo of the Middle East. We tolerated and even supported tyrants and nations that recognized no rights of individuals. We looked the other way or offered only token saber rattling in response to the growing menace of terrorism. For decades "No War For Oil" was our foreign policy. And look at the state and the world.

We did nothing, because we needed their oil. We have the resources domestically to not need Mid East oil. We have the resources to take away the biggest weapon they have. But the party that is supposedly the one that is strong on defense and in the pocket of big oil can't muster the will to make it happen.

We now stand on the brink of another war as the policy of Mideast stability at any cost has resulted in a theocracy with a militant if not insane president on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. And there is debate if we should do anything about it.

Then there is the alternative. The Democrats. The closest this group comes to offering an actual position on any issue is to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. We hear this from most of the rank and file and from the titular leadership. But what of the Democrats presumptive nominee for 2008? What has Hillary Clinton had to say about the calls for retreat coming from her party? Surprisingly little. Clinton is in a very dangerous spot. If she comes out in favor of retreat she can forget about the presidency. If she comes out in support of winning the war, she can kiss the nomination goodbye. Her only play is to keep quiet and hope that it is essentially over before she has to take a stand. Sure she can make noise and criticize the Bush administration about body armor that the troops don’t want to be burdened with. This gives her some anti-Bush cred with the base but seems sufficiently pro troops to not alienate the middle.

Beyond that the party stands for nothing other than the idea that Bush is evil and the Republicans are corrupt. That anything they say is automatically wrong. The Republicans could come out in favor of a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing every woman the right to a federally funded abortion at any point in a pregnancy before actual delivery and the cutting of the umbilical cord, and the Democrats would oppose it.

Then there wass the pathetic spectacle of the just concluded confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Democrats attacked Judge Alito with the words of an article that he didn't write, in a magazine he didn't subscribe to, that was published by a political group that he was loosely connected with due to their position on an issue unrelated to the subject of the article. It doesn't even matter that the Concerned Alumni of Princeton had no formal membership. It doesn’t matter that the article in question was written as a spoof. It was a rotten sleazy tactic.

And the Republicans on the committee? They did nothing. Sure they threw Alito some friendly questions so that he could score some points with people who were already going to vote for him. They allowed to him give the answers that would reassure the Republican base but be completely ignored by the people who had already decided they were voting against confirmation. But as for challenging the sleazy tactics of the Democrats, they were impotently silent.

It doesn't matter if it would be against the rules of committee conduct. The reason this sort of thing happens is that not one Republican used his time at the microphone to castigate Kennedy and company for their reprehensible treatment of Judge Alito.

But this is what we have to work with. There is no third option. The Libertarian Party certainly isn't it. While at its core it has some sound principals such as limited government, individual freedom and responsibility, as a party they are too dominated by the fringe elements who seem to think the most important issue is drug legalization. They will never be taken seriously as long as they advance ideas that are as outside the American mainstream as the Green Party.

To bring the discussion back to the question that started it all, which party should win control of the Congress in 2006?

I think we need a decade or two of "none of the above." I think we would all be better off if both houses were evenly divided. Since the party that holds the White House has a one vote advantage in the Senate, let the other party have the one vote advantage in the House. This ought to effectively shut down either side's agenda. Let hem fight among themselves and leave the rest of us alone.

But what are the chances of that.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:12 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 15, 2006

Tonight We're Gonna Party

Like it's 1979.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:44 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

Nothing Seems Right... In Cars

Have you noticed anything different on the roads lately?

Neither have I. And that's the subject of the latest Podcast.

Here in my car

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:47 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Monuments to Sanctimony

If you are like me, you take pleasure in the puncturing of anyone's self-righteous hypocrisy. If you are like me you take enormous pleasure if that self-righteous hypocrisy is environmentalism. Via Greenie Watch comes this Opinion Journal commentary about over the top environmental construction.

These houses aren't just ridiculous; they're monuments to sanctimony. If architecture is frozen music, these places are congealed piety, demonstrating with embarrassing concreteness the glaring hypocrisy of upper-class environmentalism. The sad thing is that, by pouring so much money into ostentatious eco-design, the people who built homes like this have purchased status at the cost of doing some real environmental good.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:37 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

January 14, 2006

Have the Democrats Gotten the Point?

In the aftermath of their useless and self demeaning performance in the Alito confirmation hearings the Democratic Party Newsletter is reporting that the Democrats might finally be coming to grips with what losing elections really means.

Disheartened by the administration's success with the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., Democratic leaders say that President Bush is putting an enduring conservative ideological imprint on the nation's judiciary, and that they see little hope of holding off the tide without winning back control of the Senate or the White House.
In interviews, Democrats said that the lesson of the Alito hearings was that this White House could put on the bench almost any qualified candidate, even one whom Democrats consider to be ideologically out of step with the country. (emphasis added)
Could it be that some members of the Democratic Party are beginning to emigrate from their reality based world back to actual reality?

Of course even though they seem to have made the intellectual connection that the party that wins the White House and the Senate can nominate the kind of judges they want, they don't seem to have made the leap of understanding that if one party wins the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives that party might not actually be "ideologically out of step with the country."

One day, and hopefully very soon, it will occur to them that the party that is out of the White House and in the minority of both houses of Congress is the party that is out of the mainstream. We need for them to do this because we need a strong Democratic party with strong relevant ideas to keep the Republicans in line. We need a competition of ideas that we have not had for some time.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:58 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

Treo Blogging

Treo blogging seems to be all the rage with the really cool kids these days. Eric has been posting a lot of tips for how to do it right. I figured since I had already jumped on the podcast bandwagon so I might as well give this a try.

It's a little different for me since my Treo can't go online. But that's o.k. I don't really have a desire to live blog something and post from the scene. To get a post from the Treo to the site, I just sync to the laptop and paste the text into Ecto for editing, formatting and links.

So far I like it. Typing on the little thumb keyboard is not that hard. I'm not that great a typist on a real keyboard so I'm probably just as fast on the Treo.

The great thing is that it allows me to work on a post in circumstances where I would have just been doing nothing. I can write while waiting in the car for the kids to get out of school. The hour my son is in karate class has become productive. I have even blogged in the bathroom. I promise there will be no live blogging from there.

There is also no pressure to finish a post and get it posted. Ecto is great to work in, but that "Publish" button is always there demanding to be clicked. I can keep going back to it until I think it's done. I have discovered that there is a limit to how long one note can be. But it's not that big a deal to combine multiple Palm notes into one post.

So Treo Blogging will join regular blogging and podcasting and I'm not far from having Hold the Mayo consume every moment of free time I can find!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:32 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

January 13, 2006

The Art of the Non-Apology

Pat Robertson has issued a very artful apology for his remarks calling Ariel Sharon's stroke God's retribution for withdrawing from Gaza. In a letter to Sharon's son he wrote:

"My zeal, my love of Israel, and my concern for the future safety of your nation led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father's illness. I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for saying what was clearly insensitive at the time."(emphasis mine)
This is not an apology. This is an attempt to sound apologetic while actually apologizing for nothing. Normally I wouldn't give a second thought to anything with Robertson's name tied to it, but this sort of non-apology is a common occurrence in public life. It represents a shameful lack of the willingness and ability to accept responsibility for one's actions.

The most common form is for someone to say something asinine and offensive, and then say they are sorry that people were offended. They are not sorry that they said it. Just sorry that someone was offended.

Robertson does take a slightly different tack. He says his remarks were "inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief." Actually his remarks were inappropriate and insensitive on their face. It does not take the grief of even one person, let alone a nation, to make that true.

Then he pleads for forgiveness form Sharon's son and the people of Israel for making comments that were "clearly insensitive at the time." I cannot think of any moment in time when statements like Robertson's would not be insensitive.

Were I on the receiving end of this apology I would find it as offensive as his original comments.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:16 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

January 11, 2006

Ahh New England in Winter

This evening was cool with thick fog and occasional rain. Currently (10:48 p.m.) we have distant lightening and thunder.

Must be January!

UPDATE: Today was sunny and in the mid 50s. Tomorrow's forecast partly cloudy and 52.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:49 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

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