Political Tidbits-Maryland Voter Fraud Immortalized; Web Site of Week-Civics Test

Blogcritics Feature Stories of the Week

  • There's No Way You're Not Coming Back
    by Diana Hartman

    "This is absurd, this hero's welcome for a box, not for my love
    There's no way you're not coming back, I know you'll be coming home

    My knees are weak, my heart is heavy. The sun beats down my mood
    When are you coming home my love? The shots rang out at half past noon"

  • Myth and Education

    by John Spivey

    I've read much commentary over the years about the state of education in our country, most of it voiced by politicians and citizens who've never taught and some of it voiced by frustrated teachers. I've never read an account, though, by someone who has taught at a highly successful school. I did, so I want to stop and tell you about Santa Barbara Middle School.

    Political Tidbits

    Michael Brown, Katrina and the Bloviating Lords

    I watched the hearings on Hurricane Katrina in the House of Lords (a.k.a. The Senate) and also followed along on the live thread on the hearings on

    I think I've figured out the problem though this is no thanks to the bloviating Lords who viewed this as yet another opportunity to get cherished camera time with their very partisan points of view.

    First, it was the Democrats who insisted that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) be placed under the bureaucratic umbrella of the then new Department of Homeland Security. By me the Democratic solution to everything is to throw money at the problem and make the government bureaucracy even larger.

    In the real world of businesses such willy-nilly and politically opportunistic re-location of entire departments are very rare and take many years to effect. Bombastic pronouncements from congress critters looking for votes do not make such transitions happen much as the dear Lords would like to believe.

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    Michael Brown was a political appointee by the Bush administration and such things are common. He was head of the Arabian Horse Association or some such for God's sake. At any rate, before Katrina Brown managed FEMA well enough through all the hurricanes that hit Florida, the California fires and other disasters that required FEMA assistance. FEMA was never meant to be a first responder and local governments not totally dysfunctional such as Louisiana understood this. An argument could be intelligently made that a plan should have been in place for FEMA to respond more quickly and forcefully in the event of anemic local response. Evidently the former head of the Arabian Horse Association and political appointee, Michael Brown, hadn't thought of that.

    Before the congress critters decided FEMA should be under Homeland Security, I surmise that Brown had the ear of the president all to himself. I suspect Bush whispered into Brown's ear to pay the change of FEMA reporting structure no mind, to keep on doing the same as always. Just a hunch here.

    When Hurricane Katrina hit, a whole bunch of dominos began to fall. Beginning with, based on Brown's testimony before the House of Lords, Brown's total lack of communication with Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff. Brown kept alleging his contacts with the White House throughout the hurricane's landfall through to the breaching of the levees. Such communication consisting of emails and spoken conversations with Bush aides. Brown asserted that communication with White House Chief of Staff Andy Card is the same as direct contact with the president and I suppose he's right.

    Missing from all of this, however, was effective communication to Chertoff, the man who is, at least on paper, Brown's immediate superior. I suspect that Brown stubbornly refused to coordinate his confusing updates with Chertoff because the change in the bureaucratic layers as ordered by congress right after 9-11 was given lip service only. Brown was used to going right to the top and he wasn't going to change that game plan no matter how big the disaster.

    That and a complete lack of plan for the total collapse of effective communications not anticipated, contributed to the confusion and chaos that punctuated the mess that became the Katrina response.

    We had Louisiana Governor Blanco refusing to make any decisions; we had Louisiana politicos hunkered down with their choice to take a chance that Katrina would pass by with no major harm and to save dollars by refusing to endure the costs of evacuation; we had a president trying to deal with the local responders that weren't even there, witness New Orleans' phantom police force; we had Michael Brown, head of FEMA, assuring the White House all was under control; we had a president thinking all was under control and finally, we had the real person in charge of the disaster, Michael Chertoff, totally out of the loop.

    The Democratic Lords want to deflect blame around the locals, all Democrats. The Republican Lords want to deflect blame from the administration, Republican dominated.

    Will such confusion be averted in the future from these congressional inquiries?

    Not so long as there is a Lord wanting to avoid the truth to protect his party and not so long as congress continues to pass impractical laws without properly thinking them through beyond political gain.

    Sheehan Not Running for California Senator

    As reported here, with a link to a "Cindy for Senator" web site. It seems "official" word has come down, as reported by Reuters, that Cindy Sheehan will not run for Senator from California against Diane Feinstein. We don't know who sent the word from high above but that's the story for now and they're sticking to it.
    Anti-war mom Sheehan will not run for Senate.

    Reid Bragged the Democrats "Killed" the Patriot Act

    Only now it's been renewed with little fanfare.

    My how they carried on before the holidays over the expiration of the Patriot Act, figuring they've finally, finally I tell you, found something to beat the administration over the head with. Except the Patriot Act does have sunset provisions, a detail that should assuage those with legitimate civil rights concerns, and is a powerful tool in the War on Terror.

    That sight byte of Senate Minority Harry Reid (who's knee-deep in the Abramoff scandal by the way) along with several other politically-blind Democrats, standing importantly in front of a podium declaring "Today, we killed the Patriot Act" will live in infamy. Look for this damning sight byte to be used handily by Republicans during this year's midterm elections.


    They never meant a word of it. They'd never dare kill the Patriot Act. It was all political posturing and if you don't believe, from Powerlineblog:
    We noted here that the four Senate Republicans who joined with the Democrats to stall the renewal of the Patriot Act had struck a deal with the administration, whereby a few insignificant changes would be made in the Act in exchange for their support. That had the effect of isolating the Senate Democrats, who were deprived of the fig leaf of "bipartisan" opposition to the Act.

    What Is It About Oil That Makes Dictators Nuts?

    I once had an eye-opening chance to converse online with a Venezuelan blogger. A country governed by the illegally elected Hugo Chavez, thanks to Jimmy Carter who sanctioned the election. The blogger told me how terrible Venezuela has become (he even showed me pictures!) under Chavez and the shenanigans done to get this nut elected.

    Then Jimmy Carter gets lots of bucks into his political consulting company and I wonder if the world knows this. For the right price, Carter will verify that mad rabbits were elected to govern Canada.

    I've always thought it wasn't the Islam that made middle eastern despots crazy. It's the oil money, at least as I see it. For Chavez is not Muslim but he does illegally govern a country with lots of oil.

    Despots, dictators, even mad mullahs, hate to give up all that money.
    From Reuters:
    Yes, he's still crazy. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told a rally of thousands of supporters on Saturday that U.S. President George W. Bush was worse than Hitler and vowed to buy more arms to defend his nation as their diplomatic relations deteriorated.

    Thai Cars?
    Came across this tidbit from and while I understand Bill Clinton cranking up the union Democratic base during a recent speech, my mind is boggled by the concept of Thai cars.
    Speaking to an enthusiastic Democratic crowd that increasingly sees jobs moving overseas, Clinton said Thailand should not be granted access to the U.S. auto market.

    The U.S. is in negotiations with Thailand on a trade pact that might eliminate or reduce a 25 percent tariff on trucks made there.

    Getting Ready for President McCain

    I can't stand John McCain. Let's put this right up front and get it out of the way. The man has a terrible temper and, by me, has no business governing this ship of state.

    Beyond that, the man is such a sycophant. Indeed John McCain regularly throws parties with invitees including the likes of Tim Russert and other old media bigwigs. You'll never see Dick Cheney doing that, which is why they hate him.

    It bothers me plenty that we'll have this man shoved down our throats by the fawning media that they not be left out of McCain's next birthday bash.

    Image hosted by Photobucket.comI will say, now a long way from the 2008 campaign season, that unless the Republicans come up with a better candidate and IF Hillary Clinton runs, McCain has a damn good shot at the presidency. There's plenty of people who won't vote for Hillary even if the world would end. And with McCain glorified by his media buddies, he could easily enter the White House portals as our next president.

    In an alarming note, we find out from the NY Post that the big money is lining up to get behind McCain.
    -- WASHINGTON - Some the president's top fund-raisers are signing up to help Sen. John McCain, who fought a bitter primary fight against Bush in 2000.
    Even some of Bush's "pioneers," who raised $100,000 or more for his campaign, are getting on board McCain's "Straight Talk Express," according to today's Newsweek magazine.
    McCain (R-Ariz.) has refused to say if he is running for president in 2008, claiming he'll decide after this year's elections.

    Death Culture Creep
    Back in January I wrote a post, a rant really, in response to Oregon's suicide law being approved by the Supreme Court.

    Now we have English nurses worried that patients who want to slash their wrists be given clean blades for the deed.

    Now I'm not sure how this would work. I'm supposing that if myself were intent on cutting my wrists, I would first report to the "clean blade" agency to get sharpened blades to make my task easier. Not that such a desperate person shouldn't get help or anything. Oh no. Just give them the blades and to hell with them.

    Now in my "death culture" rant linked above, I railed that those who want to die should do the deed their own selves and not depend on government to aid in the task. This English proposal might fall right in with my plan some might argue.


    First, handing out clean blades to slash one's wrists without chance of infection, is espoused, in this case, by the government. It would be, understand here, the government handing out the blades. Which reminds me, what does chance of infection matter if you bleed to death?

    My argument is that if one wants to die badly enough, it can be done, somehow and some way.

    We should not have the government, in any way so I assert, getting involved in promoting death. Now they want to hand out clean blades in England and soon enough, as I've predicted, we'll be doing the same here.

    From the Sunday Times in England, take a gander at the depravity English nurses are seriously considering engaging in (now sit down):

    Self-harmers to be given clean blades

    "Nurses want patients who are intent on harming themselves to be provided with clean blades so that they can cut themselves more safely. They say people determined to harm themselves should be helped to minimise (SIC) the risk of infection from dirty blades, in the same way as drug addicts are issued with clean needles..."

    Yet Another "I Told You So"

    In a recent "Notable Quotables" I ruminated on the many states against photo voter identification. I even predicted what states would never enact such legislation and yes, my home state of Maryland was one of them.

    In fact, Maryland went one step further to insure that the incumbents remain in power. John Fund reports on the following voter rules just legislated in this very red state where the dead vote and the living vote often.
    ANNAPOLIS, Md.--It should normally be difficult to pick the worst state legislature in America, but Maryland's is way out in front. ...Democratic legislators then passed three election-related bills and again mustered the necessary three-fifths votes to overturn his vetoes. Together the election laws would so weaken safeguards against voter fraud as to make Maryland the nation's prime example of Election Day irresponsibility.

    The most troublesome bill undermines the concept of local polling places by allowing all voters to vote anywhere in Maryland using a provisional ballot. Gilles Burger, chairman of the state's Board of Elections, flatly says the bill invites fraud. His testimony prompted the Beall commission to warn that it would mean "a provisional ballot could be cast successfully in multiple counties and not be detected until after the votes were certified."

    Another bill would allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot for any reason. The state's League of Women Voters noted that the bill undermines Election Day as the foundational day when votes are by law supposed to be cast. The league points out that absentee voting increases risks to "privacy, accuracy, security" and creates opportunities for "intimidation." Evidence also shows that absentee ballots are the most susceptible to fraud--and do not increase voter turnout.

    A third bill imposes an unfunded mandate requiring all of Maryland's counties to let voters cast ballots during the five days before Election Day. Linda Lamore, the state's election administrator, warned legislators of her concerns about ballot security as well as her doubts the counties could comply by November.

    Three, count 'em, three bills specifically enacted to keep election fraud the standard in Maryland.

    A voter should be able to get off his or her butt on election day, go to the polls, and cast their vote. That bit about casting an absentee ballot for any reason, go on. How about I need an absentee ballot to vote BECAUSE I'M DEAD?

    Maryland is a total lost cause. The state did elect a Republican governor but believe this, it will never happen again.

    The Cheney Shooting

    On Sunday, 2/12/05, the incident of Cheney accidentally shooting a fellow hunter was the stuff of late night comedians. The following Monday, when the victim suffered a small heart attack due to the shooting, not so funny.

    One thing that will be forever funny is the hysterical “what about us?” reaction of the Washington D.C. press corp. David Gregory, a real punk as I see it, not one ounce of charm although he thinks he’s the coolest of the cool, was one of the worst.

    Cheney, the critics say, should have handled the public relations aspect of the tragedy much better.


    Cheney’s position, as he detailed during an interview with Britt Hume of Fox News, was that his friend had just been shot and most of Saturday night was spent dealing with this. Then Sunday, his hostess, a Mrs. Armstrong, called a local Texas paper to reveal the news. Cheney felt that had he released a statement the press would not have believed his version of events. He also said that Armstrong was a witness to the event as well as knowledgeable about these sorts of hunts.

    I’ll state that it was certainly an unorthodox way to handle such news but I don’t know that it was illegal or immoral. As for the American public, well we knew about it early that Sunday and what was the need for us to know about it sooner? If the Washington press corps thinks the American public is going to get all in a lather because they didn’t get the story first, well that same press corps needs to get out more. Maintaining their cherished positions of all-important press creatures is not high on the list of us folks who carry this country on their backs.

    When Cheney granted his interview with Fox’s Brit Hume, however, I was amused. This was definitely a shot over the bow.

    Although, ahem, could it be this?
    Brit Hume, "I was approached by a newscrew from another network and asked why FNC was given the interview; was it because Fox News is a conservative network? I replied maybe it was because the Vice President wanted to appear on the network with the most viewers."

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    How Well Do You Know Your Civics?

    I failed the test! Click on the picture and see if you do any better.

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    So after failing Civics, relax and enjoy this funny Dragnet video.

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