Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Moderate Dems Driven from '08 Race

The Washington Times reports:

The Democratic presidential lineup tilted more to the left when former Virginia governor Mark Warner and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh dropped out of the race for the 2008 nomination, party strategists say.

Both men were prominent advocates for a centrist Democratic agenda on national security and domestic policies. Their withdrawal from a dozen declared and potential candidates left behind a field of almost all liberal contenders for an office Democrats have won in only five out of the last 14 presidential elections.

Read the rest here.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Local Governments Blame Feds for Local Crime

The Washington Post reports:

Violent crime reports surged by nearly 4 percent in the first six months of 2006 when compared with the same time period a year earlier, including a dramatic increase of nearly 10 percent for robberies, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.

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The recent crime increases have prompted widespread criticism by police chiefs and state law enforcement officials around the country, who complain that the federal government has retreated from [redistributing] money and other help to localities in favor of programs focused on counterterrorism and homeland security.

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Justice Department officials have previously rejected such criticisms, arguing that federal policies play a limited role in combating local crime. One senior Justice official called the 2005 statistics a "yellow flag" that did not represent a trend.

Imagine that, the federal government giving priority to federal issues when it comes to wealth redistribution.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

MySpace Blacklist Ridiculed

Our critique of the MySpace-will-pretend-it-can-blacklist-sex-predators legislation has been joined by newspapers throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Roanoke Times:

Sure, an offender could tell the state his e-mail is pervert@pornmail.com and his MySpace page is PotentialReoffender. But nothing prevents him from having a dozen accounts, all with innocuous sounding screen names and profiles.

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McDonnell acknowledges that offenders could dupe the state but said they would face charges. As if a predator seeking to commit a despicable felonious act with a child will actually break a sweat worrying whether the commonwealth will discover he has an unregistered screen name.

In addition, the sad fact remains that the Internet is crawling with sexual predators who have never run afoul of the law and are not required to register on any government list.

The Bedford Bulletin:

Presumably, if a registered offender changed an e-mail address without notifying authorities, that would constitute a violation of their probation. But that could be difficult to monitor. What could be more practical would be to ban their use of access to the Internet altogether.

Ultimately the best chance children and teens have for safe Internet surfing is for their use to be closely monitored by parents.

...

Laws sound good, but good parenting makes the real difference.

The Virginian-Pilot (Hampton Roads):

McDonnell is right to be concerned about the issue, but if his loud endorsement causes parents to ease up on supervising children's Internet use, the effort will be worse than irrelevant. The idea is so ridiculously full of holes that any predator familiar with such obscure Internet technologies as Yahoo! and Google can get around it with a minute's effort.

...

The only predators McDonnell's effort will catch - and the only parents he will reassure - are those who don't know anything about the Internet.


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Incoming Intelligence Committee Chairman Will Need a Very Long Briefing

CNN reports:

Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

...

In an interview with CNN, Stein said he was "amazed" by Reyes' lack of what he considers basic information about two of the major terrorists organizations.

"If you're the baseball commissioner and you don't know the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox, you don't know baseball," Stein said. "You're not going to have the respect of the people you work with."

...

Pelosi picked Reyes over fellow Californian Rep. Jane Harman, who had been the Intelligence Committee's ranking member, and Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, who had been impeached as a federal judge after being accused of taking a bribe.

Read the details here.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Because Nobody Has Two Email Addresses

The Washington Times reports on the latest in feel-good legislation:

State Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell said yesterday he plans to propose legislation that would make Virginia the first in the nation to require sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and online names with the state.

Mr. McDonnell said he hopes the measure will help thwart sexual predators from trolling for victims online.

"We require all sex offenders to register their physical and mailing addresses in Virginia, but in the 21st century, it is just as critical that they register any e-mail addresses or [instant messenger] screen names," Mr. McDonnell said.

Social-networking sites have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, providing youngsters with a way to meet new friends worldwide. However, the sites also have given the estimated 50,000 sexual predators online at any given time a new venue to lure children by posing as a teen online.

Mr. McDonnell's proposal goes along with the efforts of the social-networking Web site MySpace.com, which last week said that it is developing software to cross-reference its 130 million users with databases of registered sex offenders.

"The bottom line is that if we can do a match between the state sex-offender registry and a MySpace account, we can block any sex offender from MySpace and keep the Internet safe for kids," Mr. McDonnell said.

The proposed legislation is doesn't even pass the laugh test. It would give politicians a false sense of accomplishment, give parents a false sense of security, and stop only the most stupid predators. Until legislators manage to abolish internet anonymity, predators will remain free to create as many email addresses as well as MySpace accounts that they want. There's nothing to stop a 60-year-old child molester from creating an email address and MySpace account claiming to be 15.
Mr. McDonnell said the new plan is not "foolproof" because convicted sex offenders can sign up under a different name and give false biographical information on the sites.
I'm glad to learn that Mr. McDonnell is not a complete idiot.

Perennial candidate John McCain, however, is worse:

(WaPo) Last week, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced that they will seek federal legislation next year that would require all sex offenders to submit their e-mail addresses to law enforcement. That information would also be turned over to MySpace.

"Just like in our actual neighborhoods, sex offenders must make themselves known in our virtual neighborhoods as well," Schumer said in a statement.

That would combine the Virginia proposal's ignorance of the internet with the usual Congressional disregard for the role of states in criminal law.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Corrupt Democrat Congressman Re-Elected in Run-Off

The Washington Post reports:

Rep. William J. Jefferson may be a pariah in some Washington political circles, but voters in [New Orleans] weighed in over the weekend with their own verdict regarding their scandal-plagued congressman: He's still our guy.

Voters gave the Louisiana Democrat an emphatic reelection victory over state Rep. Karen Carter, even though his campaign had been weighted with revelations that federal authorities had videotaped him taking $100,000 in alleged bribe money, and that $90,000 of it had been found inside a freezer in his apartment in the District...

At least corrupt Republicans have the honor and decency to resign.
...his victory now poses a quandary for Democrats, some of whom have shunned him politically, and possibly also for the city. Leaders here seek to project an image of civic probity as they lobby for more federal money for recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Money pit.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

War on Christmas Expands to War on "Holiday"

Seattle, Washington - 2,800 miles outside the Beltway

KIRO News reports:
All Holiday trees at Sea-Tac Airport were removed this morning after several community member complaints. They say the trees don't represent all cultures and religions...The trees will not go up again... The airport policy on decorations will be reviewed after the holidays.
I'm used to this kind of intolerant hatred being directed towards Christmas, but now "Holiday" too?

Update: KING5 News blames a litigious rabbi for ending the decade-old tradition.


Update, Dec. 12: BBC: "Festive trees back at US airport"

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's Campaign Season!

Tony Blankley writes in the Washington Times:

Our long national nightmare is nearly over. With Barack saying he might run, with Hillary reported to "be making phone calls to New Yorkers," with Evan Bayh and Sam Brownback getting less coy by the day and with Tom Vilsack actually announcing his candidacy (the correct pronunciation of his name "that's vill-sack, not vile sack"), the 2008 presidential campaign is about to start. The nightmare of not having a national campaign to talk about — now into its hideous 29th day — is almost over.

And what a relief. The cycle of election period followed by governing period followed by election period was getting seriously out of proportion. Election cycles may be vulgar, demagogic, hypocritical, mud-slinging exercises in misleading the American people and corrupting the democratic process — but they are essentially harmless. Those governing periods, however, are down right dangerous.

Campaigning is definitely better for the country than legislating.

Meanwhile, Congress shudders at the thought of working a 5-day week - that won't be good for anyone... except perhaps litigators.

Read the rest here.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Democrats Already Breaking Campaign Promises

They aren't even in power yet, but Congressional Democrats are already breaking one of their most frequently repeated promises - to enact all of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The Washington Post reports:

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies...

"Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult and important," the panel wrote. "So long as oversight is governed by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need."

...

To the Sept. 11 commission, the call for congressional overhaul was vital, said former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean (R), the commission's co-chairman. Because intelligence committee membership affords lawmakers access to classified information, only intelligence committee members can develop the expertise to watch over operations properly, he said. But because the panels do not control the budget, intelligence agencies tend to dismiss them.

The Houston Chronicle also comments: Key Pelosi pledge hinges on if 'all' really means 'all'.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Administrative Incompetence Costs DC Millions

The Washington Post reports:

The District government faces up to $300 million in unanticipated expenditures over the next two years, presenting an early test for Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty and his pledge to improve service delivery without raising taxes.

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But last week Fenty received a memo from D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi stating that the District is already $87 million over budget for fiscal 2007, which began Oct. 1. Projections for fiscal 2008 show the city is facing up to $215 million in higher-than-anticipated costs.

The reasons, according to the memo, are largely twofold: More people than expected are enrolled in city health-care programs, and two health-care agencies -- the Department of Mental Health and the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration -- routinely fail to submit the proper paperwork to receive federal reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare services.


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Friday, December 01, 2006

President Bush Still More Popular Than John Kerry

The Washington Times reports:

Rudolph W. Giuliani is the most popular politician in America, according to a new survey. The former New York City mayor, a likely candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, tops a list of 20 leaders whose popularity with registered voters was measured in a new survey by Quinnipiac University.

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President Bush [came] in at number 15 with a 43.8 rating... [topping] 2004 rival Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, who finished 20th in the survey, with a 39.6 rating.

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Survey respondents also named [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice as the most powerful woman in America, topping Mrs. Clinton 45 percent to 29 percent. Twenty-three percent selected Mrs. Pelosi.

Click here for the complete poll results.

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