Archive for January, 2008

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Why Did We Send Inspectors To Iraq, Again?

January 24, 2008

First, the story:  Interrogator: Invasion Surprised Saddam  

Saddam Hussein initially didn’t think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen. The Iraqi dictator revealed this thinking to George Piro, the FBI agent assigned to interrogate him after his capture…

hmmm…did Piro ask him nicely, or was there waterboarding involved? Was Saddam really playing the “peace through (perceived) strength” game?

Anyway…

Second, cue the predictable knee-jerk rightosphere reaction: Saddam lied, people died (x2) oops … (x3) darnit! (x4) you gotta be kidding me (x5)
cliffs notes: The war was necessary because Bush (and the rest of the world) believed Saddam’s lies.  Ergo, Bush exonerated.

Third, a nice stroll down memory lane, hinting at how much Bush actually believed what Saddam was saying at the time (a visual aid via the White House site):

iraq_header_final.gif

I love this.  We presumably sent in inspectors because we didn’t trust Saddam (inspectors that we may recall, were advised by us to leave Iraq, after they had found nothing).  Now these bloggers are implying that the war was necessary because…everyone believed him anyway?  Let me get this straight.  Saddam  was lying before, but not then, and he certainly wasn’t lying to the FBI guy Mr. Piro, so….I’m confused, ’cause somewhere in there Saddam became more trustworthy than the inspectors.  Wait a second…then why did we even bother sending them?

Oh!  I remember:

It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

I think the bottom line here is that Saddam didn’t think we were crazy enough to spend a trillion dollars and stir up a hornets nest by invading Iraq based on his rep and flimsy intel, especially with the reality of empty-handed U.N. weapons inspectors. He was “surprised” because he had no idea that we were going in regardless.

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Why Obama, Part I: Immigration

January 23, 2008

Update: Subsequent installments to the “Why Obama” series can be found in the comments section of this thread, in the form of pingbacks. 

When I announced that the Chamber would be endorsing Senator Barack Obama for president in ’08, I promised to expand on that rationale in posts that would follow.  So, here I go. 

I’ve decided to stick with a format for these posts, where I will pull (in no particular order) one of Obama’s stances on an issue right off his website, add a few thoughts of my own as to why I support the position, and open it up to debate and discussion.  I believe that this format will allow for a sense of consistency and at the same time provide a forum for the issue to be analyzed, picked apart, attacked, and defended.  And even though I have endorsed Sen. Obama, remember that I am unafraid to challenge, defend, or concede any point.  Also, I hereby promise to strive for intellectual honesty and stay true to my personal beliefs, and I am willing to reconsider any given position based on the presentation of a convincing argument or facts that I was previously unaware of.  In short, this is where I test myself, so I encourage others to chime in. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind.

Obama on Immigration (pdf)

The Problem

Undocumented population is exploding: The number of undocumented immigrants in the country has increased more than 40 percent since 2000. Every year, more than a half-million people come illegally or illegally overstay their visas.obama08_thumblogo100.gif

Immigration bureaucracy is broken: The immigration bureaucracy is broken and overwhelmed, forcing legal immigrants to wait years for applications.

Immigration raids are ineffective: Despite a sevenfold increase in recent years, immigration raids only netted 3,600 arrests in 2006 and have placed all the burdens of a broken system onto immigrant families.

Barack Obama’s Plan

Create Secure Borders

Obama wants to preserve the integrity of our borders. He supports additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.

Improve Our Immigration System

Obama believes we must fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill.

Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally

Obama will remove incentives to enter the country illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

Bring People Out of the Shadows

Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

Work with Mexico

Obama believes we need to do more to promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration.

Barack Obama’s Record

  • Crack Down on Employers: Obama championed a proposal to create a system so employers can verify that their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Fix the Bureaucracy: Obama joined Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) to introduce the Citizenship Promotion Act to ensure that immigration application fees are both reasonable and fair. Obama also introduced legislation that passed the Senate to improve the speed and accuracy of FBI background checks.
  • Respect Families: Obama introduced amendments to put greater emphasis on keeping immigrant families together.

I consider myself to have a relatively uncompassionate view on this topic.  In fact, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve considered myself to be sympathetic to the stated mission of the Minutemen, in the sense that a community would support the actions of a neighborhood watch group.  We have laws, but the methods of enforcement appears to have taken a turn toward a status of “woefully inadequate”.  I have no problem abiding the laws of the land on a daily basis, and I would expect the same from anyone who enters this country.  I see our porous borders as a significant security risk as well.  In short, I’m definitely not in the “open borders” crowd.

That said, I don’t believe that a impenetrable wall or fence is the answer.  It seems so 5th century BC, after all.  That, and I’m a big fan of the critters.  Also, the idea of mass deportations and taking babies out of the hands of their mothers strikes me as inhumane (or in the very least, a punishment that probably doesn’t fit the crime).

So, an answer would seem to lie in bolstering the ability to enforce the law by increasing the number of border agents, taking advantage of 21st century technology (in the form of both border surveillance and identification) and target the enablers (those who knowingly hire illegals).  And a path towards citizenship should be offered to those who work hard and otherwise respect our laws, even if the details need to be ironed out.

It’s a difficult issue, characterized by significant scale and far-reaching implicatons and effects, and it’s doubtful that any given solution will go perfectly, but I’d consider Obama’s approach to be very rational.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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WPBA Views on 1/20: Bush’s Home Stretch

January 20, 2008

This is it!  It’s the last year of the Bush administration.  As much as people like myself feel that this might be cause for some preliminary celebrations, remember that we do have a whole year left.  A lot can happen in a year, after all. 

Truth be told, I’m a heck of a lot more hopeful than I thought I was going to be at this point.  As some of you might know, before I created the Chamber, I was a guest contributor on the now-defunct FearBush.com blog.  I actually spent a good portion of 2006 expressing my anti-Bush views over there.  So while it probably goes without saying that I’m looking forward to his departure from office, I going to go ahead and admit that I’m not as passionate about it as I used to be. 

The founders of FB.com had originally predicted back in 2000 that Bush’s ascendancy into the White House meant certain disaster, marked by global war (at best) or nuclear armageddon (at worst) .  “GWB=WWIII” was the underlying theme.  Now, while that prediction was considered by many as kooky at first, there was a certain amount of vindication for it later, as the nation marched off to invade not one county but two, culminating with the president himself using the phrase World War III when describing the conflict that he’s overseeing.   Without a doubt, Bush’s legacy will be one that revolves around war.   But even after the countless thousands dead, billions of dollars spent, and the unknowable consequences and blowback that may lie ahead, it’s hard to honestly say that America has been damaged to the point where it cannot recover.  Bush has been terrible, but not quite as terrible as had been predicted.  Of course, there’s still a year left (which might be why there are still calls for impeachment).

Over the last year, I’ve definitely softened my tone with regards to Bush.  The facts are still the facts, but maybe I’ve just adopted more of a “glass half-full” mindset.  I’ve almost come to pity the man.  Here’s a guy that was elevated into a position that was clearly over his head, based on little more than name recognition, who appears to have aged 20 years over the course of seven, and can’t seem to put together a single coherent sentence on his own.  The poor guy is so unpopular that he can’t even come out and campaign with any of the Republican candidates, and for the first time since 1928 the outgoing administration isn’t offering up a VP for the job.  Americans are so anxious to move on that campaigning began earlier than any time in my life, and even the Iowa caucus was moved up 2 weeks. Heck, the world can’t wait to move on.  As sad as it is that such a man could be elected president (twice), I’ve come to realize that these things don’t necessarily mean that he’s evil.   After all, we’re still here, right?  It could be worse!  Maybe it’s just Cheney who’s evil.

So, as we head into the last year of what will probably be viewed as the worst administration in America’s history, I’ll cross my fingers and hope that these people are so politically marginalized that they can’t do any more damage.   A strike on Iran seems less likely than it did a year ago, Iraq is still a mess but showing signs of progress, he’s probably done nominating anyone else to serve on the Supreme Court, and we haven’t had a major hurricane in awhile.  He can probably sit back and let others make headlines as the nation focuses on choosing who will finally replace him. 

At least I’m hoping…

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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World Wavers, History Hesitates

January 18, 2008

Make sense?  No? 

Well, according to Rudy Giuliani’s campaign, it should.  Add in the “movie guy” voice-over, along with images from 9/11, and it is intended to resonate, I guess.  Why else would he put this new TV ad on the front page of his site?

“When the world wavered, and history hesitated, Rudy never did.”

What’s going on here?  Is Rudy’s campaign suffering from the writers strike or something?  I mean, if you’re going to (once again) exploit 9/11 for the purposes of bolstering your floundering campaign, one would hope that anyone with better than a elementary level education should be able to come up with a better line than “history hesitated”.   Good grief.

“History hesitated”.  This is going to bug me all day now.  Oh well.  Perhaps, years form now, it might make a good crossword puzzle entry:

Down

44.  history hesitated, he didn’t

44R

U

D

Y

(h/t TPMelectioncentral)

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Swiftboating John McCain

January 18, 2008

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised by this:  Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain

(h/t Hot Air)

After 2004, I was kind of hoping that the Vietnam War wouldn’t be a campaign issue this time around.  So much for that.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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Top 5 Karaoke Songs If You’re A Guy Who Can’t Sing

January 15, 2008

Have you ever been out for drinks with friends or co-workers on karaoke night?  Chances are, you have.  It never fails:  The drinks start flowing, the music is playing, and eventually someone in the group gets dared to go up on stage and risk the potential embarrassment of revealing that they can’t carry a tune to save their life.  In those situations, one is faced with the tough no-win decision to either be the party pooper or endure the nerve-wracking experience. 

Having faced this situation several times myself, I felt compelled to search for “safe” songs, i.e. songs that virtually anyone can sing, while being something the audience will enjoy and possibly even sing along with.   This can be a real lifesaver, as it gives you the opportunity to not only avoid humiliation,  but rather to bring the proverbial house down. When you’re done, you’ll confidently thumb your nose at the Julio Iglesias wannabe sitting across the bar while high fiving your friends.    So without further ado, here are my top 5:

1. Warren Zevon- Werewolves of London  The lyrics are more spoken than they are sung, so all you have to do is make sure you have a decent “a-ooo!”, and you’re set.  And while you probably won’t be able to dance around with a cue stick ala Tom Cruise in The Color of Money, you might want to find a good-looking female to direct your attention to when the “his hair was perfect” line comes up, for added style points (assuming you aren’t wearing a hat, or bald). 

2. ZZ Top- Sharp Dressed Man  This song is especially fun if you just got off work and you’re still in your suit and/or tie, so if you got it, flaunt it.    You’re responsible for a grand total of about 2 notes, so even the most tone-deaf of us out there should be able to hack through this song without a problem.  Feel free to do the ZZ “point” during the guitar solo.

3. George Thorogood & the Destroyers- Bad To The Bone  No matter how b-b-b-b-b-bad your singing skills might be, you’ll probably be able to handle this one.  Instant bar cred, too.   If you’re feeling less “bad” and more, um, “drunk”, try to avoid I Drink Alone …Wouldn’t be prudent, after all.

4. Dire Straits- Sultans of Swing  Unlike Money For Nothing, this cut doesn’t have a long intro, so you can avoid standing uncomfortably in front of everyone while you wait for your part to begin.   Even better, it’s probably easier to sing anyway.  Beware of the urge to play air guitar on the outro, however. 

5.  Boz Skaggs- Lido Shuffle  If you ever saw Boz perform live (check the link), you’d see that the guy ain’t that great of a singer himself, so it is perfectly acceptable to sound like a drunken sailor during this classic.   Also, there’s a good chance that the rest of the bar will help you out during the chorus, so you probably won’t have to worry about hitting all the notes (if you aren’t confident of your ability, go ahead skip a few of them; Boz does).  Depending on where you are, and what time it is, the “one more for the road” line could really go over well too.  

I hope this helps.  Just keep these selections in mind before the buzz gets the better of you, and you decide to do something stupid and bite off more than you can chew with a selection like Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.  Trust me, I’ve made that mistake.

Also see: Shortcuts: How to sing karaoke

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Chamber Birthday

January 15, 2008

I just realized that today marks the first anniversary of post numero uno here in the Chamber.   I don’t have any cake or candles, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers and visitors for stopping by over the past year.  It’s a fun hobby, and I hope to continue doing this for many more.

Also, thanks to the people at WordPress for creating this free soapbox. 

I don’t have much more to add (I’m not a big fan of birthdays), but I’ll just mention that if you want to celebrate the occasion with a “look back”, you can teleport to a random post by clicking the

random post!random post!random post!

in the sidebar. 

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