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Friday, April 29, 2005

Much Ado About Nothing...Redux

Last October, Charles Duelfer release his preliminary report on Iraq's WMDs. The report went into great detail about the threat Iraq could have posed, but it also stated that no WMDs had been found to date. Predictably, a great cry of "Bush Lied!" went up from every corner of the liberal world, and the people rejoiced in self-satisfaction.

On Tuesday, Duelfer released his final report, and unfortunately for anyone who's tired of hearing the aforementioned phrase, there are still no WMDs to report. So that should close the book on the matter right? Bush deceived the nation and the anti-war crowd has finally been exonerated right? Well, no, don't uncork that champagne just yet...

The term "WMD" can mean a lot of things, and in the case of Iraq it translated into chemical and biological weapons. Now unlike the image most people have of a top secret bunker with 1000 white-coated scientists building a super germ, most of the evidence presented on this matter (by Colin Powell no less) consisted of what amounted to a couple cookers in the back of converted 18 wheeler; not exactly high-tech. Nevertheless, those are all the ingredients necessary for making a really scary weapon.

So when we talk about having WMDS, what are we talking about? Raw materials are generally no problem, any medical supply company can sell all the chemicals and bugs you need. Ditto on the lab materials, hell you don't even have to spring for the white coats. So far any number of home scientists could be hauled off to jail, so what creates the distinction? At what point do you move beyond playing in a lab and into being a threat?

The answer is three things: the money to do it on a large scale, the people with knowledge to manufacture it in a practical matter, and the will to use the finished product. While Duelfer reports an absence of completed weapons, it does detail Saddam's success in stockpiling the first two requirements (see here and here and thank you U.N for the Oil-for-Food funding), and anyone who knows what happened to the Kurd's after Gulf War I has no doubts about the third.

Is this revisionist history? I don't think so. What Bush and the administration were selling was a threat, a threat which certainly existed. What it became was an acid-test justification for the war, where nothing but a stockpile of completed weapons would suffice. Politically this was a mistake, but it doesn't change the facts. For all intents and purposes Saddam had WMDs. When he decided to push the button, no missiles would have rocketed off immediately, but scientists with the know how and resources would have begun feverishly working and "quite quickly" according to the Duelfer report, we would have had all the proof we never wanted.

There's Got to Be a Morning After

Maybe someone put something in my drink last night, because I felt pretty good about Bush's press conference. I thought the president outlined a reasonable plan for reform (detailed here for those who missed it), but I must have been watching "The Simple Life" by accident because all I see in this morning's headlines is "BUSH PROPOSES BENEFITS CUTS!". Well, no, that's not what he proposed at all, but the truth never got in the way of a good headline.

I've come to expect this sort of thing from the mainstream media, along with various complaints and confusion from the pundits on the right. The liberals have responded with the usual shotgun blast critique: personal accounts are a privatization scheme, "means testing" hurts the middle class, there is no crisis, and of course, Bush lied.

It's all nonsense of course, and as I find articles explaining it better than I canI'll link to them. For the moment I'd like to point out an opportunity to expose one of Big Lies of the Democratic platform. Throughout last year's presidential campaign and continuing into the debate over Social Security reform, the Democrat's goto answer for all of life's ills is: Tax the Rich! A surefire way to win votes, but that's because people tend to consider the guy next door "rich", while they remain safely pegged at "upper-middle class".

Bush's proposal has the potential to tear down this illusion. Democrat's are already calling "means testing" an attack on the middle class. I find this strange since this is exactly the same group the Dems propose raising taxes for: people making over $100k a year. Like John Q. Public, Dems like to have a sliding scale for the term "rich" depending on what benefits them. If Republican leadership stages this debate correctly, they can lock that scale permanently.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Special Late Night Edition

It could wait until morning, but after the President's press conference I wanted to do a brain dump before it was all gone. So first Bush comes out with gas prices. Eh, who cares; you'll know this has become a real issue when minimum wage workers stop buying pickup trucks and V6 sports cars, until then don't worry about it.

Thankfully, topic B was Social Security, a topic that we should actually care about. The big news was a plan for dealing with the solvency issue. The president proposed a means test for future benefits; in layman's terms, the more you earn in the private sector, the less you get from the public.

OK yes, it is income redistribution, and yes, it's unfair, but let's look at the alternatives. We could raise taxes on the rich, that's a popular one with the Dems. Or we could cut benefits across the board, as if the Dems didn't have enough ammunition already to defeat reform. Bush's proposal simply makes the best of a crappy situation.

Despite that I'm still not 100% sold on the idea, but the fact that personal accounts have been "nailed to the table", I'm willing to go along. Given time, personal accounts will transform this system, and down the road we won't have to talk about cutting benefits or raising taxes.

The press is going to be all over this tomorrow, and intend to sift through it and bring you the good, the bad, and the ugly. Stay Tuned...

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The title says it all. www.brashlimburg.com is now the offical domain name of The Limburg Letter. Start using it today, and be sure to tell your friends.

The Calm Before the Storm

Does anyone else get that feeling? It's like despite all the rhetoric going back and forth these last two weeks, Washington is taking one long collective breath before it dives into battle. Bolton's hearing has been postponed, Frist still hasn't pulled the trigger on the "nuclear option", and Social Security Reform seems to be lost in limbo. The President has called a press conference tonight to talk about these issues, and it may be the storm's fist crack of lightning.

We might even start to feel a few drops in the next few weeks, but I don't think the storm clouds will really break until this hits the Senate. A Federal bill restricting abortion has all the ingredients for starting a war. For one, the Dem's in the Senate will be fighting tooth and nail to kill this thing. Any Senator who depends on NARAL for funding can't afford to let this one through without a fight. Should the bill pass, it also brings a new sense of urgency to the fight over judicial nominations, because there's a good chance that the inevitable lawsuit will be hitting the Supreme Court just as a replacement for Chief Justice Rehnquist is being nominated. Finally, this bill deals with an issue that Americans are passionate about, and while Joe Citizen probably won't remember what the "nuclear option" even is come 2006, he will be ready to condemn or reward his Senator's vote on this.

So we'll see. Maybe I'm wrong, but the blogs and editorial pages have reached a fever pitch. The winds kicking up and there's a sound in the distance that could be thunder... or maybe the percussion of an oncoming army. Nothing to do but fasten your seat belts and wait to see who draws first blood.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Fun With Liberal Mad Libs

Today Drudge is reporting that the Secret Service is investigating Air America's "Randi Rhodes Show" because of the following skit, which was played during the opening of the show:

The announcer: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]."

You might remember Randi Rhodes from the HBO documentary on Air America entitled "Left of the Dial". She was the chain-smoking woman in the leopard-print housecoat who kept mumbling "I'm so fucking lost"; definitely the person you want to turn to for political advice.

Apparently Randi (and one would imagine her audience) thought this skit was pretty hilarious, so I thought it would be fun to do a little Liberal Mad Libs. We'll swap out a couple of words and see what kind of wacky results we get. For example:

The announcer: "A group of captured terrorists are telling us our detainment camp isn't safe anymore, so they are going to make us fix it. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelps: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastards. [audio of gun being cocked].

HO HO HO, That's a real belly-buster! Let's do it again!"

The announcer: "A group of sissies is telling us our institution of marriage isn't relevant anymore, so they are going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelps: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastards. [audio of gun being cocked]."

Now, while we're being fitted with handcuffs but before we're charged with hate crimes, let's all contemplate the gold standard of hypocrisy the libs have achieved on this one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Good Intentions, Bad Thinking

I think that title pretty well sums up the state of the average American liberal. I don't mean the raving lunatics (see a couple posts ago), but the neighbor next door who still has a Kerry/Edwards sign out in their yard. Case in point, my new liberal friend over at http://liberalrapture.blogspot.com.

"sock monkey" (SM from here on out) took the time to respond in great detail to a post I made on his(her?) website, so of course I'm going to return the favor. I suggest reading her post first, but if that sort of thing makes you cringe it's not necessary, I'll give you the gist of it.

My original post asked SM to explain why they stated that Republicans push their will on America while Democrats stand up for the will of the people. I found this odd considering the fact that most of the liberal victories we hear about these days are achieved through the courts, undoubtedly the least democratic institution of the government.

"SM" first brings up gay marriage, and asserts that the left has already won that argument and it will only be a matter of time before it is accepted throughout the country. On the face of it the court decisions in San Francisco and Massachusetts, and the civil union legislation passed in Connecticut last week probably seem like a growing wave. Unfortunately it ignores the anti-gay marriage referendums passed in 11(or so) states in the 2004 elections. Furthermore, of the three examples I cited, only one was could be interpreted as representing the will of the people.

"SM" has an answer for this however, comparing these cases to the courts ending segregation (Brown vs. Board of Education). "SM" advocates using the courts with the same good intentions, but once you think it through you realize that the courts were also responsible for making segregation the law of the land to begin with (Plessy vs. Ferguson), and before that, for upholding slavery (Dred Scott case). The lesson is that the courts are not infallible, and in politically charged cases their decisions can have more to do with personal politics than the rule of law. Even those on the far left are starting to realize that litigating through the courts can only take you so far, but ultimate acceptance of any movement must come from the people.

Inevitably, "SM" also brings up the war as an example of "forcing an agenda", along with reforming social security and insisting on judges being "people of faith". If you're a good liberal, you fight those causes with the best of intentions, but slow down and think for a second. Like them or hate them, they are all included in the constitutional privileges of the president. Although you may not accept it, the people voted for him, and he's carrying out the wishes of his constituency. If John Kerry had won you'd be cheering him on for "forcing" your agenda on all the poor Republicans, and you'd probably think it was a pretty good idea.

What's interesting is that "SM" also mocks Bush for not proposing a constitutional amendment banning abortion because he knows it will be defeated. Liberals expect conservatives to suggest such an "outrageous" amendment despite their good intentions, but a thinking conservative knows that A.) the amendment would probably be defeated, democratically and B.) the issue of abortion was always up to the states, not the federal government, until the Supreme Court made it the law of the land, undemocratically. I think we've established a pattern here...

There's also some stuff in there about the corrupt right-wing media, but I'll just direct you to read "Weapons of Mass Distortion" by L. Brent Bozell, which rebuts that nonsense all day.

I hope sock monkey reads this post and responds, because I think its a debate that every American on opposite sides of the aisle should be having. I'll be posting a link to his/her blog so you can follow the debate, and I hope "SM" will do the same.

Monday, April 25, 2005

On Stupid Senators and the Power of Catch Phrases

It's only 9:30 am on Monday and already I'm sufficiently agitated enough to post. Two things bugging me on this sunny Monday morning. The first is something Sen. Chris Dodd said this weekend concerning the Bolton nomination:
"I think he's going to embarrass the president. I think he's going to ... have a very difficult job serving if he's confirmed narrowly by the Senate. He should withdraw or the president ought to withdraw this nomination."
Apparently the Dems got so much traction from the assertion that Bush couldn't lead since he didn't have a mandate that the're going to try and apply it to Bush's appointees. Excuse me Mr. Dodd, but last time I checked neither public opinion nor your opinion had anything to do with how the Ambassador to the U.N. carried out his or her job. In fact, I feel pretty comfortable saying that 95% of the country doesn't know who the last U.N. Ambassador was. Not a profound thought, but I'm getting real sick of moron senators running off their mouths on the Sunday shows.

And speaking of confirmations, how did Republican's allow the term "nuclear option" to become the preferred nomenclature for doing away with filibusters on judicial nominees? Even worse, who's the genius who came up with the counter-term "constitutional option"? Real catchy guys, that ought to convince America.

Since we seem incapable of coming up with good labels of our own, I think we should start co-opting terms from the Dems and using them in other issues. For example, I propose we start referring to abortion as the "nuclear option". Just think:

"Mom, Dad, I'm pregnant, and I've decided to go with the nuclear option"

"I don't know honey, I support your right to choose, but the nuclear option? I don't like the sound of that, seems a little bit extreme to me."

"Yea, I guess your right, I think I'll just stick with the status quo here. No sense rocking the boat."

Friday, April 22, 2005

We Have Seen the Enemy...

...and he is a moron. Then again, maybe I am too for ever thinking I could venture into depths of liberal thinking and come out unscathed. It was with the best intention that I started the slow work of converting our liberal brethren over at AmericaBlog, but I clearly underestimated what I was up against.

To spare you the fate of going over there yourself, allow me to share some of what passes for higher liberal thought these days. The post below comes from a topic on an anti-discrimination bill for homosexuals that was narrowly defeated in Washington state. Since this is clearly a sign of an impending holocaust, the community was up in arms. I posted the note below in an attempt to bring some perspective:

"All I'm hearing is doom, gloom, and (surprise, surprise) comparisons to Nazi Germany. What I'm not hearing is what this bill involved and how it being defeated equates to putting all gays into concentration camps? Can anyone enlighten me?"

I didn't have wait long for a thoughtful reply:

"The Nazis didn't go after the Jews immediately. They moved in on them incrementally. They can't go after us right now, but they can create the hateful atmosphere of scapegoating and fear that in another 10 years, if they do it right, they can. And they seem very adept at it. I think they're getting help from the Zionist Jews in its cleverness in return for their continued support of Israel's Zionist policies."

As insightful as that is, the last part is the best:

"And no, I'm not anti-semetic so fuck off."

Oh, well hell, I'm glad we cleared that up, someone might have gotten the wrong idea!

In the spirit of fairness, a fellow lib did set them straight:

"The comment (a few pages up) by "incognito" about "zionist jews" is repulsive. And yes, anti-semitic (which he couldn't even spell correctly). The Christian Right has peculiar and short term interest in supporting Israel (they believe it has to exist, and then be destroyed, before the rapture). But listen, bigot: Israel has better protections for gay rights than the US does. Tel Aviv is far more progressive on gay issues than Washington State, Oregon or many other "blue states". And most Jewish Americans are solidly liberal and pro gay. You're no better than the angry working class whites who are beating the shit out of gay people: you're mad, and you're beating up the Jews. Hardly a new story."

Did you get that? Its not the progressive Jews who are to blame, it's those gay-bashing christian conservatives doing it so they can bring about the rapture. Thank God cooler heads prevailed, and as an aside, do you get the impression that liberals buy more of those "Left Behind" books than Republicans? They seem to know and awful lot about them...

So what's the moral of the story? Besides the fact that conversion isn't a one day affair, the lesson is that although its moderated by the time it hits the national stage, a lot of this grassroots activism is based in anger and hate. Is it any surprise that while a Democratic leader may make a long, principled speech about the dangers of globalization, over in Seattle people are breaking windows and attacking police officers in order to fight the scourge of the WTO? When Moveon.org and the DailyKos are able to make Howard Dean the head of the DNC, be very afraid of the people who are pulling his strings.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The True Reason for the Fight Against Bolton

Like most conservatives, I'm furious about what's going in the confirmation hearing for John Bolton, and like most conservatives I believe it's because Bolton has the guts to speak honestly about the UN, with the extra bonus of giving Bush a black eye. Now I fear however, that what's really going on is much, much darker: a full manifestation of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.

How did I crack this web of lies you ask? I simply asked myself this question: "Who stands to lose the most if Bolton is confirmed?" Is it Kofi Annan? No, he's not going anywhere. If the biggest institutional scandal in the history of the world can take place under you nose and you don't get fired, you're effectively fireproof. Perhaps Joe Biden? He will lose a considerable amount of face if despite throwing all his weight against Bolton the confirmation still goes through, but the media tells us that Biden is just an honest, moderate politician with real concerns about our country, so if anything he'll be able to play the role of a martyr and win in the end regardless. No, the one with the most to lose, the one who the Democrats will protect at any cost is, of course, Sean Penn.

That's right, Sean Penn, star of the new thriller "The Interpreter", a roller coaster ride of murder and intrigue that takes place....you guessed it, in the U.N. I'd go into more detail, but all that's really been reported about this movie is that it is the first film allowed to film IN THE ACTUAL U.N. BUILDING! Now that you've picked yourself up off the floor after that stunning announcement, let's examine what that means.

This is a movie who's sole appeal seems to be that it takes place in, and involves the activity of, the U.N. People probably lined up "Star Wars" style the moment they heard that, but wait, what's this? John Bolton says the U.N. is useless, and that if ten floors disappeared overnight, no one would care. All good liberals know that Bolton is wrong, not to mention blasphemous, but what about the movie-going public? On the chance that they aren't as enlightened as the Democratic party, they may lose interest in this cinema event!

Not to worry though, Joe Biden and friends are making sure that the world knows that Bolton is just a mean, grouchy, know-nothing. They've done everything they can to tear him down personally, inviting every kook with a chip on their shoulder to testify. If there was any doubt in America's mind about Bolton or the true glory of the U.N.. it has almost been extinguished.

The fate of Sean Penn, "The Interpreter", and the next Ambassador to the U.N. now appears to be in the hands of Sen. George Voinovich, and, unfortunately, the rumor on the Hill is that he's a big Spicolli fan...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On The Torment of Being a Modern Liberal

"Politics make for strange bedfellows"

It's an old cliche to be sure, but its never been truer than for the modern liberal. Only at a liberal rally will you find grown women demanding the right to kill unborn children and handicapped adults, arm in arm with adult men wearing "Trees have feelings too" t-shirts. Aside from mastering the art of irony, the democratic party's greatest achievement of the last 30 years has been to somehow convince these people they're all on the same team.

Special interest groups are in and of themselves nothing new, nor is the idea that there is strength in numbers. In fact I wouldn't be bothering to point this out at all if I hadn't read this article. It relates the sorry story of Laura Hershey, a physically handicapped woman and self-identified "secular thinker" and "lesbian feminist". When I first found this article I thought thenation.com might have been hacked by a Freeper. Here was a profoundly disabled woman articulating her belief in the sanctity of life and the evil in what was done to Terri Schiavo. I was just about send an e-mail to the editor letting them know there must be some mistake, when I finally hit the but-monkey (to borrow from Ms. Ingraham).

Despite the fact that Republicans were fighting for this woman's life while Democrat's like Ted Kennedy all but superglued her mouth shut, Ms. Hershey (Ms. until those bigots legalize gay marriage!) stands by her man. After all, Republicans "jeopardized many other disabled lives by attempting to gut Medicaid", and what is that if not holding a knife to a child's throat? If only they had the heart of Democrats, who simply "have trouble embracing the rights of people with severe disabilities", but will surely understand once they realize Terri Schiavo was not being murdered, but discriminated against...

Again, I'm not making points that haven't been brought up by people much smarter and clever than me, but I think I've hit upon something interesting here. This is a woman who in a sane world would be a hard line conservative, one of the "enemies" as she puts it, yet despite the fact that most of her progressive friends try to euthanize her every time she dozes off, she remains a Nation-level Democrat. People like Ms. Hershey represent a strange new breed, special interest groups who have abandoned their special interest in the name of a higher cause. I think this explains the power of MoveOn.org, they've finally created a Democratic party that is more than the sum of its parts.

It might be a bad sign for our side, it might only signal the Armageddon, but for the moment it only makes me profoundly sad. I pray for the young girl who decide to go through with an abortion in order to support gay marriage, I pray for the man who disconnects his wife from life support to save a baby seal, and, of course, I pray for Ms Hershey.

Please Stow Your Weapons in Your Pockets...

prior to boarding the plane, otherwise those federal screeners might be forced to take them away. In news that would be obvious to anyone who doesn't still have a Kerry/Edwards '04 bumper sticker on their car, the GAO has released a study which finds that private airline security screeners are more effecteive than those that are government employed.

Read the story for details, but it all boils down to the simple truth that the private sector is better at most things than the government. Now granted the difference is small, but it is a.) statistically signifigant, and b.) only involves 5 airports in the country (meaning little competition, meaning marginal improvement). Hopefully a Republican with even the smallest bit of guts will take this and push for further privatization, but after this Bolton hearing I'm not feeling optimistic.

As an extra bonus:
In a separate report issued Tuesday, the inspector general for the Homeland Security Department faulted the Transportation Security Administration for allowing lavish spending on a $19 million crisis management center, including about $500,000 to acquire artwork, silk plants and other decorative and miscellaneous items.
Because, you know, can't have any extra money lying around that they might use to hire another private company...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

That Whooshing Sound You Hear...

is not Catholics leaving the church, but air escaping from the tires of the "let's liberalize the church" bandwagon.

We have a new pope, Benedict XVI. I leave it to others to analyze what this means for the church, but what it means to liberals in America and Western Europe is clear: You Lost. A week's worth of discussion equating the Catholic tradition of an all-male Conclave to the Islamic practice of "honor killing" female family members who dare to speak to a member of the opposite sex should be enough to convince anyone that these people just don't get it.

The moderates over at americablog are predictably upset, wondering where they can hide from the impending homosexual Inquisition. After all " Ratzinger was the main instrument for killing free speech in the church", and we all know how important free speech is to religion (so long as its not condemning those honor killings).

For me it's all echoes of the "living constitution". There are no universal truths and nothing is sacred. Both the law of the land and the tenants of faith should adapt to however the wind is blowing, and who screams the loudest. Unfortunately for these folks, the latter are more firmly rooted than the latter, and, for now, the Pope remains the rock upon which the church is built.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My New Arch-Nemesis

In my short time on this website it's become apparent that most of my neighbors either don't speak English, or are using this service to document their stalking of their boyfriend of 3 years ago. Somehow among this sludge I managed to find a diamond, http://americablog.blogspot.com!. And to think I was worried about not having anything to write about.

Because I'm lazy, I plan on stealing topics from this site as much as possible. Its got all the essentials, photoshop banner at the top that looks worse than the normal template, requests for donations, ads for crappy websites selling Che T-shirts and Bush is a Nazi bumper stickers (and not a trace of irony!), and most importantly, a bunch of whiney liberal losers with nothing better to do then comment on the articles on some dudes blog.

Tell you what though, these dudes have alot of time on thier hands, and they know how to post pictures, so they're way up on me. The tide will turn slowly however, verrrrry slowly...

Welcome to The Limburg Letter

So what are we doing here?

I like to think it's a we but the odds that I'm not talking to myself are about 1,000,000:1, and if anyone is reading this I'll assume I'm being stalked.

On the oft chance that you are here, welcome to The Limburg Letter, the only place on the net to get the cutting analysis and biting wit of me, Brash Limburg. I plan to cover alot on this website, mostly things that piss me off but once and a while something constructive. We'll have to see where it goes, good chance this will be the last post ever, but you never know so stay tuned.