Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On the big screen

I don't know much about this movie, but I saw this trailer today. May have some value. It seems to come from the perspective that the war was mismanaged. True. Truer still is the position that it should never have been begun in the first place.

Key to remember

National polls often don't count for a lot in the primary season run for nominations. Early results in New Hampshire and Iowa can change the national numbers overnight- making a candidate who performs well in those states seem like a potential winner, drawing skeptics into his/her camp.

For example, on the Republican side, Guliani is well ahead in national polls among declared candidates, but Romney is ahead in New Hampshire and Iowa. Could he turn wins in those states into momentum for a nomination?

On the Democratic side, Clinton has been leading both in state by state races and in national polls. Is this changing? Check out the New Hampshire numbers where Obama has closed a gap that has been as wide as 20 points to create a race now tied (31% each). In South Carolina, Obama has closed a gap as wide as 24 points to take a 4 point lead (33%-29%) over Clinton. Obama still trails Clinton by 15 points in Iowa (30%-15%)- the only state where Edwards shows any real strength.

If Obama were to win or come in a very close second to Clinton in 2 of 3 early races, he may be able to get Denocrats off their 'default' position. He may seem a more viable candidate- a candidate people can not just like, or wish they could vote for, but a candidate they can envision, and vote for, as the next President of the United States.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Here's why I watch Obama closely

His analysis matches mine on the world situation.

Obama on some issues

Obama responds to some critics from within the party in debates. Some useful thoughts, and a sense of Obama's appeal to some.

This piece is obviously by an Obama supporter- if not obvious throughout, certainly so at the end. But it does show us a couple of things:

1. The attacks on Obama show how credible insiders think he is as a candidate. They are playing politics the way it is played in contemporary America- attack and drive up the opponents negatives.

2. He has positions on issues that are developed and thought out. This clip shows a discussion of his position on a war in Iraq before the invasion, and a discussion of his health care proposal (which would likely be a premier issue were it not for the war in Iraq).

So... this is a campaign/propaganda piece, but still retains value.


Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
- Hebrews 12:14

Still injured

I may be out of serious blogging for a while. My finger is still out of sorts. More medical attention is forthcoming.

Amazing how limiting one injured finger can be. Certainly as one tries to type.

I'll post from time to time, but w/ more cutting and pasting, more links, fewer Pilgrim thoughts.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I think this movement is a waste of time, but Feingold believes in it.

I know this is from Fox News...

but I knew Frank Luntz when I lived in Washington, DC some years back. He's a Republican, no doubt, but he knows how to seek the truth in these focus group settings. He's a Republican strategist that I believe you can listen to and get a good perspective on candidates of both parties (although he can pander a bit when he gets on set with some of the more ideological hosts).

In this clip, he gets people to get at a key issue in the upcoming election (people are responding to last night's debate)- trust. Who can we trust?

President Bush has lied to us about matters of great significance. President Clinton lied to us, and while he lied over personal matters of less significance, he lied under oath and this broke the law. Will the sins of the husband visit upon the wife? Fair or not, I think people are going to ask themselves if they want the prospect of 8 more years of a Clinton White House.

Obama may seem vague at time. I know people question his experience (but remember what the experience of Cheney and Rumsfeld brought us). But what he does seem to put on the table is honesty. More so than any of the other Democratic candidates- except perhaps Biden, but you have to listen to him for hours to hear his truth.

Trust. Keep and eye on this issue as we move through the campaign cycle.

A different kind of blessing

From An Inch at a Time.




[Franciscan Four Fold Blessing]


I've always opposed the filibuster rule in the Senate, and the use of the filibuster by any party for any cause. The filibuster is anti-democratic, undermines representative government, and causes ridiculous horse-trading in the Senate (on issues often unrelated to the filibuster that feather the nests of certain Senators and are often wasteful of our tax dollars).

Recently- before the Democrats takeover of Congress- the Republicans were decrying the use of the filibuster- or its threatened use- to delay judicial appointments. Remember all the "up or down vote" ads?

Now the shoe is on the other foot. Republicans are perfectly willing to do what they thought politically reprehensible only a couple of years ago, and now the Democrats are whining that the Republicans are doing what they, the Democrats, did.

Trent Lott was wrong about virtually everything else as majority leader, but he was correct about the so-called "nuclear option." Correct in a limited way- as the nuclear option, as I recall, related only to judicial appointments.
I don't like the metaphor of a "nuclear option," but I do wish the Senate would change its rules. Let a vote on the issues that matter to Americans happen. Don't hide behind procedure. Above all, get to work for the American people.

A (dis)honor well deserved

Recent poll results:

Among all Americans, 25% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 71% disapprove.


I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
- Ezekiel 34:16-16

Monday, July 23, 2007

Is it just me?

I just cannot generate any interest in the debates that are taking place among the multitude of Presidential candidates in each party. It seems like forever until the election. I don't read a lot of serious proposals from the candidates (and there's no time to discuss serious proposals in the current debate format anyways). I have no idea what some of the 'candidates' are thinking as they run for the office- they have no shot and are not even putting key issues/ideas on the table to drive the debate.

The YouTube debate gimmick doesn't interest me either. I don't see that idea as much of a step forward for serious discussion. I may be wrong, but I doubt anything earth shaking will come from the web cam questions.

So, I think I'll sit out tonight's debate. Let me know if you see anything interesting.

Bush on Torture

A nice op-ed on the Bush Executive Order regarding torture.

Once upon a time, a U.S. official's condemnation of torture was a statement of moral principle. Today, it is an opportunity for obfuscation. We have learned that when President Bush says, "We don't torture," it's important to read the fine print. So it was once again on July 20, when Bush issued a long-awaited executive order purporting to regulate interrogation tactics used by the CIA in the "war on terror." According to a White House press release, the order provides "clear rules" to implement the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of detainees in wartime -- rules the administration insisted did not even apply to the "war on terror" until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise last summer. But while the new rules reflect a significant retreat by the administration from its initial torture policies, they are anything but "clear," come far too late in the day, and in any event are unenforceable.

But how much of a step the administration has really taken remains a serious question. The actual tactics the CIA is authorized to use remain classified, based on the bogus claim that agency interrogators need to keep detainees guessing about how far they can go in order to interrogate effectively. The Army, by contrast, has set forth for the world to see the specific tactics its interrogators can employ -- in the Army Field Manual. And of course, it is black-letter law that no use or threat of physical force is permissible for state and federal police interrogations. Yet both the Army and domestic police obtain useful information from interrogations every day. The limits do not need to be secret for interrogation to be effective.

While the executive order flatly forbids torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, its failure to specify permissible and impermissible techniques seems designed to leave the CIA wiggle room. A prohibition on "acts of violence," for example, applies only to those violent acts "serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation, and cruel or inhuman treatment," as defined by the Military Commissions Act. The MCA, in turn, limits "cruel and inhuman treatment" to the infliction of bodily injury that entails: "(i) a substantial risk of death; (ii) extreme physical pain; (iii) a burn or physical disfigurement of a serious nature (other than cuts, abrasions, or bruises); or (iv) significant loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty." In other words, the president's order appears to permit cutting or bruising a suspect so long as the injury does not risk death, significant functional impairment or "extreme physical pain," an entirely subjective term.

With a different administration and a different history, one might be less inclined to read President Bush's latest executive order so skeptically. But this administration has shown repeatedly that it approaches the prohibitions on coercive interrogation the way a particularly creative tax lawyer might treat the tax code. Instead of striving to uphold what we thought were our country's moral principles, the Bush administration seeks to exploit every loophole it can find or manufacture. As a result, the administration has lost the trust of the nation and of the rest of the world. Executive orders like this one are not likely to win it back.

Remember when...

Remember when the Republican party was the party of limited government and what they argued were the "original intentions" of the Framers of the Constitution? Well, this article lets them have it, with their own (alleged) principles.

George W. Bush is the imperial president that James Madison and other founders of this great republic warned us about. He lied the nation into precisely the “foreign entanglements” that George Washington feared would destroy the experiment in representative government, and he has championed a spurious notion of security over individual liberty, thus eschewing the alarms of Thomas Jefferson as to the deprivation of the inalienable rights of free citizens. But most important, he has used the sledgehammer of war to obliterate the separation of powers that James Madison enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

“In war,” Madison wrote in 1795, at a time when the young republic still faced its share of dangerous enemies, “the discretionary power of the Executive is extended ... and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.”

Because “[n]o nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare,” Madison urged that the constitutional separation of powers he had codified be respected. “The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war ... the power of raising armies,” he wrote. “The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of commanding them is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the sake of commanding them.”

The abuses of power that have resulted from the without beginning (no declaration) and without end 'war on terror' have been easily documented- warrantless wire-tapping, torture at Gitmo, the creation of a fourth branch of government (as VP Cheney apparently sees himself), etc. Of course the Democrats are culpable- for the blank check "war authorization" and for wasting time on such issues (non-issues) as the firing of the US Attorneys rather than really reigning in the President in Iraq and on torture.

In other words, our system of government is threatened only in part by terrorists, but also by the actions of the Bush Administration, and the inaction of the Democratic opposition.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Return of the Pilgrim

I've returned from a week-long Boy Scout campout... but I still cannot type (see post below). I was completely away from the news for a week (which was a very positive thing, I think), but upon my return, here are some stories that caught my eye...

Bush bars torture of CIA detainees but what's allowed stays secret So typical of this administration. "Trust us that we're a doing the right thing." How could they think they've earned that trust? (More here)

Intelligence Puts Rationale For War on Shakier Ground No surprises here, but more solid confirmation of what I've always argued.

Her Lesson What a young girl has learned from the President.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Out of comission

The Pilgrim has an injured digit. Typing is out of the question for any significant amount of time. (I'm using just one hand now and it is incredibly slow.) I'm also scheduled to take a camping trip with my eldest and his Boy SCOUT troop... so, I'm going to be out of commission for a little over a week.

Please take care of the world- or at least your corner of it- until I return.

Until then... may God's blessings shower upon you.


Monday, July 09, 2007

The Pilgrim returns

Well... we're home from our mini-vacation. I kept up only a little with the news of our world while on my sojourn. A couple of thougts:
  • Congress seems commited to its insane pursuit of the Justice Department firings non-scandal. All of the people who were fired as US Attorneys are 'at-will' employees. They can be let go any time for any reason. Does anyone really believe that politics does not enter into the hirings and other activities of the Justice Dept.? Anyone? I haven't fact-checked this, but I believe there was a time when Janet Reno- Attny. Gen. under Bill Clinton- fired all of the US Attorneys. This is not a scandal. It's not worthy of Congressional time under calmer circumstances. It is certainly not worthy of congressional attention when there is a disaster underway in Iraq.
  • The only 'story' in the whole US Attorney's mess is a part of a larger story- Bush's abuse of office. Warrantless wire-tapping, secret prisons, redefinition of torture, Cheney declaring himself no longer a part of the executive branch (a 4th branch of government?), and now his refusal to let people testify for Congressional oversight... Bush seems to feel free to operate in any manner he chooses. It is likely to get worse. He has nothing to lose. No legacy to protect. No popularity to protect. Why not assert every privilege he wishes?
  • The Scooter Libby commutation shows the complete lack of a moral compass by what appears to be ANYONE- Democrat or Republican- in DC. Bush promised that he would not operate in the sort of fashion that he believed Clinton did when it came to ethics and the law. Promise broken. The Republicans wanted Clinton out of office over his lying under oath, which they then portrayed as a major violation of law and the public trust. Now they think Libby is persecuted and should not have been tried at all. Their inconsistency is staggering in its hypocrisy. Which leaves the Democrats, who thought that Clinton should never have been pursued for lying under oath, claiming it was a partisan witch hunt. Now they want Libby to get something just short of the death penalty. Watch some of the individuals speaking- and saying exactly the opposite of what they were saying 6-7 years ago. Shameless.
  • Some key Republicans are getting ready to try and put Bush on a short leash regarding Iraq. When the "new" plan for Iraq- the Surge- was put in place, we were told the results would be judged by September. Now the generals say they cannot tell by September, necessarily. Some Republican Senators seem unwilling to give up on September as a time for accounting, and are demanding the President Bush has a Plan B. Now, this may amount to nothing- Bush doesn't seem to be easily persuaded by either pressure or the facts- but it is some movement. Given the failure of the Iraqi government to make progress, it's certainly time to look at a change.
  • Pakistan has been about as good an ally- which is not to say a truly good one- as the US has had in the Muslim world since 9/11. Will that hold? Follow the events in Islamabad very closely.
  • The terror attack in Great Britain. The good news: inept attempt. The bad news: the same. Why is this bad news? Because it means that there are radicalized individuals out there not associated with any particular terrorist group who are willing to attempt to do mass damage. Future 'lone wolves' (to borrow a phrase often used to describe white supremecists in the US who act on their own inspired by groups like the Klan) may do a better job of doing their homework and be more effective. These people will be hard to track as they may not show up on any typical counter-terrorist radar screen. The next set of angry individuals may do a better job, wherever they make their attempt.

Just some observations upon returning from vacation.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Time to Wander

I know I have not been posting much. Summer has started busy for the Pilgrim. It would seem like I'd have plenty of time with school out of session, but... let's just say thinking about the weighty issues of the world has not been high on the agenda. Perhaps after a time away to recharge the brain's batteries I'll be ready to tackle serious matters again.

The time has come for the Pilgrim, Mrs. Pilgrim, and the little Pilgrims to wander on a family vacation. So, for now...

The love and affection of the angels be to you,
The love and affection of the saints be to you,
The love and affection of heaven be to you,
To guard and to cherish you.
May God shield you on every step,
May He aid you on every path,
And may He hold you safe on every slope,
On every hill and on every plain,
On earth and on sea until we meet again.