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Saturday, May 06, 2006

LET'S GET GOSS: As speculation swirls about why Porter Goss lost his job as CIA head, here comes a fairly vicious story with a compelling lead:
WASHINGTON - CIA Director Porter Goss abruptly resigned yesterday amid allegations that he and a top aide may have attended Watergate poker parties where bribes and prostitutes were provided to a corrupt congressman.
Note the wiggle room: "may have attended." Followed by low grade innuendo: "Intelligence and law enforcement sources said solid evidence had yet to emerge that Goss also went to the parties, but Goss and Foggo share a fondness for poker and expensive cigars, and the FBI investigation was continuing" (italics added). A Bush hater named Larry Johnson adds: "[I]t's my understanding that Porter Goss was also there [at Wilkes' parties] for poker. It's going to be guilt by association." Maybe the charges will turn out to be true — then again, maybe not. Here's a novel idea: What if reporters actually investigated the charges first, and then, if warranted, wrote a story based on facts, defined as: those old-fashioned species of allegations based on corroboration. As opposed to writing stories where obviously biased sources proudly declare that "guilt by association" is as good as they're got. This kind of slop-bucket journalism makes all too clear why so many good people refuse to enter public life.
PATRICK KENNEDY: His problems with drugs and, apparently, alcohol, should be considered personal until and unless his actions make the problems a public concern. That threshold was passed when Kennedy turned his vehicle into a bumper car in the middle of the night a few blocks from the Capitol, so let's review Kennedy's public statements. Statement one: Kennedy acknowledges being "involved in a traffic incident last night at First and C Street SE near the U.S. Capitol." He volunteers: "I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident." Statement two: "Sometime around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote." Explaining that he had been taking the prescriptions Phenergan and Ambien, Kennedy states only that he was "disoriented from the medication." He is lucid enough to recall that his car had "hit the security barrier at the corner of 1st and C St., SE." Quite clear, Kennedy's memory: "At the time of the accident, I was instructed to park my car and was driven home by the United States Capitol Police. At no time did I ask for any special consideration, I simply complied with what the officers asked me to do." Statement three: "I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions." Amazing. In three statements over the course of a day, Kennedy actively un-remembers his previous recollections. Well, maybe I'm being unfair. He does remember hitting the barrier, being told to park his car, being driven home, not asking for special consideration, doing what officers told him to do. The part he forgets is getting out of bed, being pulled over and being cited. He specifically remembers not having anything to drink. The witnesses who testified that they saw him drinking: Do they still recollect that, or have they forgotten? And if so, how will we know if and when they unremember? My question to Rep. Kennedy: Do you think you have a right to just haul off and slug a Capitol police officer? Neither do I. Will you pass the word to Cynthia McKinney? Thanks, pal. Did anybody hear a Kennedy family spokesman ask for our prayers, along with their right to privacy? I didn't specifically hear any such requests — let me note that I wasn't drinking at the time — but maybe I'm so used to the rhythms of Kennedy family's generic, fill-in-latest-name press releases that the requests just didn't register. The part I do remember hearing (I wasn't doing drugs, either) was the usual psychobabble about whether the Kennedy family suffers some awful "curse." Time for the big question. Is Kennedy's claim of continuing addiction to prescription drugs valid? I have no idea. What I do know is that the inconsistencies in his three statements in under 24 hours are a joke. What's a four-letter word for a witness relocation program designed for celebrities who want to avoid tough questions about their behavior? Mayo.

Friday, May 05, 2006

JACKO'S REALITY TEST: Michael Jackson is furious that the new issue of GQ features a series of photos featuring a Jackson impersonator. Make that "impersonator." I hope Michael gets mad enough to take this to court so his lawyers can introduce criteria by which a jury would distinguish real from fake.
HOMEMAKER HILLARY: Mrs. Bill Clinton has decided on a winning campaign theme for her 2008 presidential campaign. According to Newsweek's Howard Fineman, Hillary will position herself as a
hard-eyed realist in a world of dreamers [who] knows how to get things done.... She’s the one who kept her family together—its finances, its marriage, most of its parenting function—and that is the role she will cast herself in as she tries to win the White House. After eight years of what she will call the perhaps worthy but disastrously administered dreams of George Bush, it’s time to restore some discipline. Think of the iron-willed mom in “Malcolm in the Middle.”
Let's see now. Hillary currently is viewed negatively by upwards of 40 percent of voters. That's where she starts. For better or worse, most of those who find her positively loathesome turn out to be humans of the male persuasion. How interesting, that Hillary thus thinks herself well suited to play the head-of-household role. Gee, I'd love to sit in on some of the focus-group sessions that test her campaign theme with male voters, especially divorced male voters who, oh, just perhaps already had one of those women in their lives, and, oh, perhaps are still paying alimony who works overtime to deprive him access to his own kids. And married men who want nothing more than a little solitude around the house, or as John Gray puts it, a little quiet time in their caves. This is a constituency for whom "iron-willed mom" is considered a selling point for American men? But let's give Hillary credit. For all the male voters who can't countenance the thought of her in the White House again, team Hillary is banking on prospects that many women voters will identify with her having been betrayed by Bill — the poor Hillary routine. So while she continues to polarize on personality issues, Hillary will be working overtime to identify herself with a set of issues geared to reinforce her claim that sending her back to 1600 is the way to "restore some discipline." What issue has Hillary chosen this week to get America's discipline train back on track? Nothing less than the importance of giving kids condoms. Is this what comes to mind when you think of how a strong female head of household takes a strong stand for "discipline"? Oh, this campaign is going to be such fun. Please Hillary. Run, run, run.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

ATTRITION NOT AMNESTY: With mass deportation not a realistic physical possibility, and wholesale amnesty a mockery of our laws and values, a middle-way idea is taking hold: attrition of the illegal population through tough enforcement. A new paper by
Jessica Vaughan, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Immigration Studies, finds that according to the government's own cost estimates, an attrition strategy could cut the illegal population by nearly half in five years, with an additional investment of less than $2 billion, or $400 million per year — an increase of less than 1 percent of the President's 2007 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security.
A recent Zogby poll reveals that the public overwhelmingly prefers such an attrition approach over the other two options. Vaughn says the approach would be workable and affordable. But don't count on the White House to head in that direction unless nudged hard by the conservative base. Bush/Rove seem bound and determined to chase big dreams of big GOP tents, the premise being that going soft on illegal immigration will send welcoming signals to Hispanics in general, eventually putting the Democrats out of business. Bush's Cinco de Mayo pandering, in addition to being pathetic, shows the extent to which "racial issues" are at play in the immigration controversy — but not in the way we usually think. Shelby Steele is spot on with his cogent claim that much of what fuels bad thinking on issues of race is white shame, which leads so many self-styled "decent" whites to abandon moral clarity (on immigration and countless other issues) because they desperately want to prove how free of racism they are.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

HILARIOUS RODHAM CLINTON: Our codependent former copresident didn't have the chops to be a successful athlete, couldn't be an astronaut, was too panicky around blood to be a doctor, got lousy math and science grades ... so she settled for a career in law and is now a very ambitious politician. Is this a teaser for the latest anti-Hillary book? Nope, it's Mrs. Bill Clinton's own account of how she settled for politics and law because she lacked the basic qualifications for everything else she attempted. Previously busted for inflating her resume (claiming that she was named after mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary), the Democrat's 2008 frontrunner now seems to be test-marketing the opposite approach, namely representing herself as not quite measuring up, "I'm just an ordinary citizen like the rest of you." What a joke. Yet with each successive self version she presents, my eagerness for Hillary's presidential candidacy grows. This is because for me it's axiomatic that one's CQ ("character quotient") only becomes more obvious as we commit ourselves to life choices that reveal the substance we're made of, especially the substance we lack. Richard Nixon's final months in the White House were instructive in this regard, especially his "I am not a crook" news conference and of course that famously maudlin final White House remarks in which it seemed he was on the verge of full-blown decompensation without a psychiatric safety net to catch him. Watching Hillary is like watching the early 1990s TV series (I'm dating myself here) Twin Peaks, macabre and irresistably suggestive of a dark secret soon to be revealed. Shakespeare's tragedies work this way, but on a far more complex and elevated level. Catharsis, purging of the audience's psyche, all that good stuff. It seems Hillary operates from so a glaring deficit of authenticity that she will say practically anything. It's almost like she's goading us to reject her, yet her narcissism finds rejection unacceptable; there's the rub. (Bill's got the same thing going, only with likeability and often charm.) Teenagers typically conduct auditions in the domain of selfhood; it's how we make important adolescent discoveries about ourselves. We experiment to find out who will accept or reject us and do we have what it takes to be who we really are. At some point a psychologically healthy person settles on being real as the baseline norm of his or her existence. This doesn't mean we don't continue to make mistakes, fail, or stray from the company of our better angels. We most certainly do. When persons of integrity blow it, they cop to it and then find their way back to integrity, not least by apologizing to those they hurt, lied to, or otherwise damaged. Not Hillary. And certainly not her husband. (They are still, like, married, right?) This is a couple who, like Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, have “always retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Just before the House impeachment vote, David Schippers, chief counsel to the House impeachment effort, memorably declared, “There’s no one left to lie to.” Oh, really? Let’s find out. On with the presidential campaign.

Monday, May 01, 2006

THE BOYCOTT: These demonstrations have their precedent but it's not Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, which didn't feature foreign flags and anti-American slogans. Today's illegal-alien marches more closely resemble the anti-Vietnam movement's cheerful embrace of assorted left-wing dictators. Those demonstrations didn't endear mainstream America to the Fonda-Haydens; I doubt whether Mainstreet USA is going to feel more favorably disposed to the illegals after today. Amnesty? Alex Alexiev reports that Europe's still paying the social/cultural price for its mistaken amnesty policies — let's not go down that road. So how exactly would America fare without illegals in our midst? Tancredo says we'd make out OK. Heck, Tancredo's Colorado would actually come out better:
Colorado taxpayers would save almost $3,000,000 in one day if illegals do not access any public services, because illegal aliens cost the state over $1 billion annually according to the best estimates. Colorado’s K-12 school classrooms would have 131,000 fewer students if illegal aliens and the children of illegals were to stay home, and Denver high schools’ dropout rate would once again approach the national norm. Colorado’s jails and prisons would have 10-percent fewer inmates, and Denver and many other towns would not need to build so many new jails to accommodate the overcrowding. Our highway patrol and county sheriffs would have about far fewer DUI arrests and there would be a dramatic decline in rollovers of vanloads of illegal aliens on I-70 and other highways. On a Day Without an Illegal Immigrant, thousands of workers and small contractors in the construction industry across Colorado would have their jobs back, the jobs given to illegal workers because they work for lower wages and no benefits. (On the other hand, if labor unions continue signing up illegal workers, no one will be worrying about Joe Six-Pack’s loss. Sorry, Joe, but you forgot to tell your union business agent that your job is as important as his is.)