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This is the personal weblog of Aakash Raut, established Sept. 2002. It will cover current affairs, worldwide & national topics, local & university events, and provide insight and commentary on contemporary issues and the news from his perspective. Enjoy!

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    Qassia: Aakash Raut



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    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    MY FILM REVIEW

    The deputy editor of TownHall.com recently asked me to write film and book reviews for the site. Today, he assigned me to FUN WITH DICK AND JANE, which I saw tonight, and here's the review I produced. I hope you enjoy it.

    -Christian Hartsock, guest blogger

    Fun With Dick and Jane **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    By Christian Hartsock

    Hollywood seems to be harboring a peculiarly quixotic faith in this recently adopted trend whereby three out of every five movies released is a remake (the other two being sequels). This apparent experiment is either the product of an embarrassing loss of original ideas on the part of Hollywood producers, or an inherent hubris-driven fixation on substantiating the illusory notion that They Can Do Even Better This Time.

    This time, if they did, it was only because the standards they were trying to live up to weren’t particularly sky-high. This new entry into the filmography of director Dean Pariscot, who has spent most of his career in television, is a remake of a 1977 film of the same name which starred George Segal and Hanoi Jane as the protagonists, Dick and Jane Harper – a luxury-laden couple catching an evanescent glimpse of what is commonly considered the American Dream.

    But then we realize this is another rise-and-fall story. Jack, played by Jim Carrey, is crowned with a promotion just days before his company, Globodyne, is anchored down by a corporate Enron-esque scandal. In due course, the stock price drops, the pension plan becomes worthless and all the employees lose their jobs while the founder and president, played by Alec Baldwin, sells his stock and gets away with hundreds of millions of dollars. Needless to say, Jack and his wife Jane, played by the beautiful Tea Leoni, collapse into sudden poverty, their front lawn and backyard are confiscated and they are forced to sell off virtually all of their belongings.

    This is before they desperately take the route of Antonio Ricci in The Bicycle Thief when he steals someone else’s bicycle to replace the one stolen from him. This is to say, they embark on a Bonnie and Clyde-style adventure, robbing convenience stores and other public establishments with a comic ineptitude reminiscent of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In one particularly unfunny scene, while attempting to hold up a convenience store, Dick apparently can’t manage to get his gun out of his jacket pocket. Specifically, the problem here was that there didn’t seem to be any plausible or well-conceived reason as to why Dick could not get his gun out of his pocket. A better comedy would have had one. Instead, what we are left with is a lame excuse for Carrey to maniacally dance around in front of the camera looking and sounding like an idiot.

    In another scene randomly and clumsily inserted into the film, Jane sits in a class attempting a makeover on her face, only to end up with her face painfully distorted throughout the following sequence of the film. This scene came out of nowhere, had no legitimate foundation, and most of all did not pay off with any laughs. These two aforementioned scenes are quintessentially emblematic of this film: it is a series of lazily-conceived excuses for the characters to look, act and sound stupid, which in the last few seconds randomly decides to be a satire on Enron, Tyco and WorldCom.

    But the film is not terrible. There are a lot of much worse films out. Instead this is a film that never had much potential, and at least lived up to its basically predestined mediocrity. It is not a completely unenjoyable movie, and when it is, Tea Leoni is certainly not boring to look at (discounting the sequence when her face is distorted for stupid reasons).



    [Official Movie Site] --- [IMDB Entry] --- [Rotten Tomatoes] --- [Movies.com]


    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    THE CULTURE OF DEATH

    Hello everyone, your friend and humble guest-blogger is back, but with some bad news.

    The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law yesterday, rejecting an attempt by the Bush administration to penalize doctors who assist terminally ill patients in their deaths. It was a 6-3 vote against the Bush administration, the dissenters being Scalia, Thomas and Roberts.

    While it is an unfortunate turnout from the Court, it is pleasant news that our new Judge Roberts has come out on the side of life, unlike most of the relativistic, death-worshiping liberal elites whose mouths water at the sight of terrorized fetuses and who rubbed their palms together in frantic anticipation of Terri Schiavo's court-ordered execution. As I wrote in March 2005 column "Life, Liberals and the Pursuit of Judicial Tyranny" (which you can read at www.ChristianHartsock.com):

    "The whole concept of euthanasia is predicated on the epicurean presupposition that the value of human life should be measured by the extent to which it is enjoyed. Thus, when an individual is stymied from the ability to enjoy life in the conventional fashion that most other humans are privileged enough to enjoy it (or, God forbid, they can’t swallow properly), then that individual’s life is somehow rendered inferior and less worthy of preservation.

    "The justification also rests on the myth that such a thing even exists as a 'right to die.' Contrary to the rhetoric of liberal Florida judges and ACLU lawyers, there is no 'right to die.' Explicitly, the Constitution ensures 'the right to life, liberty, and property' (emphasis added). Furthermore, the framers acknowledged these rights as being endowed by God, to be protected by the government. Once our judicial system assumes the divine authority of determining whether a poor, helpless woman like Terri lives or dies, it promotes the implication that the right to life is solely contingent upon the will of the State, rather than the will of God. Moreover, if the federal government disclaims its subordinance to divine providence and establishes itself as the official guarantor of human rights, then no longer will we as humans have rights. Those who lived through Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia are certainly familiar with the consequences of a human institution taking on the role of God. If our rights are duly recognized as being God-given, they are untouchable. If they are merely State-given, they are finite and vulnerable to nullification."

    As champions of life, we must all strive to promote the intrinsic, indispensable value of human life in the face of the hedonistic left-wing judicial activists who jump at every opportunity to inure us to a culture of death that is slowly enveloping our nation from within.

    -Christian Hartsock, guest blogger


    Monday, January 16, 2006

    I'm Not Back Yet

    I wanted to say that, despite the two entries that I posted last evening, I am not ready to return to blogging yet... Yesterday, I published those entries because the season premier was that day (two more hours are going to be shown this evening as well). After church in the morning, we went to lunch at the house of a couple of people from the Young Adult group, where we watched the Colts-Steelers game. I am not a football fan, but the way that last quarter turned out (and with the guys and girls who were in that room! ;-), it would be hard not to get excited at what went on.

    This evening, some of us who are planning wanting to go to CPAC are meeting on campus, to try to figure things out. I hope that more much-needed donations come in this week. Tomorrow is the first day of classes, and it will be a very hectic week, for a lot of us. Christian will be guest blogging throughout that week, at least. I feel like I need to post entries about my concerns regarding Samuel Alito (before he is confirmed by the Senate), about an endorsement of U.S. Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) for House Majority Leader (as so many bloggers had already done, days ago), defending Rev. Pat Robertson for his remarks about Ariel Sharon, and possibly for his past statements as well [as I was among the only ones to do in the past], and even defending U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and DNC Chairman Howard Dean as well (for their [actually] conservative remarks on Iraq)... along with a number of other major (and minor) current issues, conflicts, and debates.

    I hope to be able to return before too long. For now, I hope you've had a great weekend, and a good Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

    For today, check out the thoughts from Alex and others at 'Save the GOP,' and from Josh and others at 'In the Agora.'


    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    24

    When our old friend Brian Balta posted an entry at Hoosier Review awhile back on the FOX television program 24, I had at that time not watched a single episode. Months later, when a new episode was on (I think my brother may have watched it that evening), I was IMing with Balta about it; he said that where he was, it hadn't been shown yet, so he didn't want me to tell him what happened.

    I actually hadn't even watched it that day, or any other day; I had never watched a single episode of 24, until A & E did their 24 'marathon,' which I believe was on Christmas Day. I had gotten up around 5 AM that day (I don't know how I managed that, especially since not having gone to sleep till past midnight... I musta missed Santa!), and I don't know at what point I started watching - They were showing Season 3, and I recall that I began at the point (3 x 15 ??) at which the deadly virus had been placed in the hotel's ventilation system, and was attempting to be located and disarmed. Within hours, I had begun to realize why Balta and others find this show so captivating.

    I also found it hard to believe how people could watch 24 the regular way (when the new episodes first come out, on Fox, rather than a marathon of syndicated past seasons). When I was having that IM conversation with Balta, I asked about the possibility of me starting to watch it mid-season; he said that that would be hard, to start like that within the storyline, but I should rent a previous season... And make that my weekend.

    On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, I knew that A & E was once again doing a 24 marathon; this time, I soon found out, it was for Season 1. Despite the other things going on on New Year's Eve - there actually weren't that many things going on for me (unlike last year, but kind of I like the year before)... I missed Erin Turner's party, but did stop by campus, and saw Mike and Jeff - and Dale and (briefly) Micah - I found time to watch some of the episodes, [definitely] including the latter-part of the 'day' (i.e. - season).

    For those of you who aren't aware, 24 is a very unique program; it runs in real-time, with each episode lasting one hour long, and covering exactly one hour of time, within the storyline. There have been a total of four seasons so far, each of which has contained 24 episodes (i.e. - each season is a serial, covering one day's time period).

    I am rushing to type this entry because in only two hours, 'Season 5' is kicking off, in a much-anticipated FOX television event this evening (at 8 PM eastern, 7 central) and tomorrow evening. I think that two hours are going to be shown today, and two more tomorrow (MLK day). As indicated above, I watched [most of] Season 1 and Season 3 on television, and the beginning episodes of Season 2 are currently being shown, on both A & E and WGN. However, I went ahead and rented the rest of Season 2 on DVD. I just returned those DVDs last night, and picked up the first DVD for Season 4. Unfortunately, only had time to watch a little bit of it, so I don't know about that one... But I am going to post below, a brief summary of each of Seasons 1 through 3. This is partly for people who want to get up-to-date, but also for myself... It will help get these characters and storylines straight, something that can get tricky.

    24 on DVD, image courtesy of Hush Bimbo



    On his website, Hush Bimbo Rush Limbaugh praises the show (read that transcript), and said that he knows the producers... And was given a preview of this new season. Listen to this soundbyte of his (before it's gone...).


    Update: I was having doubts about this entry, and the one below - especially since they were done so hastily... but Balta told me that this one looked fine, and I am glad to see that a lot of other bloggers are also writing about this topic. I feel better now.



    Season Summaries

    Spoiler alert: I don't yet know how I'm going to write these summaries... The entry above was saved as draft two and half hours ago, and published right before the first commercial break in this first Season 5 episode, currently showing on FOX. This entry was saved as a draft before the one above, and I am filling it in, with the summaries of Seasons 1, 2, and 3 (and perhaps 4). I am totally improvsing right now, but I think that I'll try to word these so as not too give away too many secrets... However, if you want to rent those past seasons [or better yet - for me that is - purchase them via Amazon.com], then you may not want to read below.

    Purchase Seasons 1 through 4 of the hit Fox show 24

    [By the way: Yes, I am of course aware that synopses (probably better than that which I'm about to write) are available a ton of other places on the web. As I indicated in the entry above however, this is not just for readers... It's for me as well.]

    Catching You (and me) Up

    Season One (2001-2002)

    U.S. Senator David Palmer (D-MA), is running for President, and this is the day of the California primary. Unlike subsequent seasons, this first one corresponds to one calendar day, starting on midnight, and running for 24 hours. The main protagonist of the plot however, is Jack Bauer, who works for the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU), a government agency that operates under the CIA, and apparently has its main headquarters in Los Angeles.

    Ira Gaines is a terrorist leader who has kidnapped Jack's wife and daughter (Teri and Kim Bauer), to blackmail him into assassinating Senator Palmer. [This may have been inspired by the good (though rather unrealistic), movie Nick of Time, a 1995 Johnny Depp film also done in real time, and also requiring a certain audience participation feature.] Within about half the day, Jack has defeated Gaines' terror cell, but in doing so, he obtains information about a second cell, which had hired Gaines. This second cell - the mastermind of all of today's atrocities - is led by Andre and Alexis Drazen, the sons of Victor Drazen.

    Two years earlier, then-U.S. Army Delta Force Captain Jack Bauer had led a covert operation to kill Victor Drazen during the Kosovo conflict. This operation was ordered by a secret government panel, headed by Senator Palmer. [Another participant who helped Cpt. Bauer carry out this mission was a British agent named Stephen Saunders, who was believed to have perished in the operation; I am inserting a mention of him, because he comes back in Season 3.] Due to the extreme secrey involved in this secret op ("Operation Nightfall"), the government officials ordering it were never in contact with those special force agents executing it... So Senator Palmer and Jack Bauer didn't know, until later, about each other's key involvement in this mission. However, the Drazens did find out about this, and that is the motive behind the two terrorist cells - Senator Palmer would be killed, Jack Bauer would be the killer, and the latter's wife and daughter would end up being killed as well.

    [Current events connection: Related article, which became all-too-prescient.]

    But the retaliations against Palmer and Bauer were not the primary purposes of the Drazens' mission. In the above-mentioned covert operation in Kosovo, Jack Bauer believed he had killed Victor Drazen, but in reality, Drazen was being held these past years in a secret government prison. The primary goal of the Drazen family was to free Victor, which they succeed in doing, after breaking into this underground prison.

    Some time after the 'Super Tuesday' polls have closed (at 7:00 PM), the death of Senator Palmer is faked, to prevent him from being an immediate target of the Drazens. Kim Bauer is once again kidnapped by the Drazens, who offer to trade her for her father (Jack). However, right as Jack is traveling to meet the Drazens for this exchange, at the Port of Los Angeles, Kim manages to get away from them, and swim to safety. Jack is nearing the the meeting site, so Victor Drazen has to quickly change the plan, now no longer in possesion of Jack's daughter.

    It was known, throughout the day, that a mole was operating within CTU, assisting the Drazen terrorist group. When Victor Drazen is in this situation, he has to call his mole, whose identity the show now reveals. It is someone who you would least expect.

    Drazen tells the mole to call Jack Bauer on his cell phone, and to tell him that his daughter's dead body has been found by the Coast Guard. This was intended to draw Jack to go through with meeting Drazen, in order to attempt to kill him. It was Drazen's belief that in going after him, Jack Bauer could be killed. Jack, believing that his daughter has been killed, does in fact go after Victor Drazen, but instead of getting himself killed, ends up killing Drazen, along with his entire crew.

    Out of danger for now, but devastated by the "death" of his daughter Kim, Jack asks the Coast Guard about the body that they found. After learning that no body was found, Jack realizes that ------- had lied to him, and must be the mole. That mole realizes this as well, and tries to flee. Jack returns to CTU headquarters and stops ---, but not before --- kills several people, including Jack Bauer's wife (who was still there, being debriefed about that day's horrific events).


    Season 2 (2002-2003)

    As is typical with this series, there are several storylines going on simultaneously. I am going to omit the one, in this episode, regarding the adventures of Kim Bauer, who rescues a child from her abusive father, gets in trouble with the law, gets involved with a spooky guy in the woods, keeps bugging her father (on the phone) when he is trying to do his job, and gets everything straightened out in the end.

    A nuclear bomb has been smuggled into the United States, and is somewhere in the Los Angeles area. Lynne Kresge, a trustworthy and loyal senior adviser to now-President David Palmer works with the not-so-loyal Chief of Staff, Mike Novick, to unravel the plot behind this imminent nuclear attack. In the process, they find out that NSA Chief Roger Stanton is involved with this plot, and President Palmer has him tortured, to reveal information about it. To further complicate things, Sherry Palmer, the now-former wife of the now-former Senator, turned President, comes back, warning her ex-husband of an inside plot to undermine his administration.

    ...

    (Tonight's two episodes just ended (it's about 12 after 9 PM, central time), so I guess I am no longer racing the clock (to post this entry, I mean). I have some other things to take care of now, regarding our CPAC situation.

    [continued]

    ...But this Hillary-type figure is someone who cannot be trusted; while impressing her ex-husband with her research skills and effeciency, she is soon shown to be collaborating with the treasonous NSA Chief. They had worked with a renegade U.S. military division - the Coral Snake group - who are actually, I think working to prevent the CTU from stopping the Islamic terrorists from detonating the nuclear bomb, or something like that. It's so darn confusing...

    Anyway, once the nuclear bomb is found, it is unable to be disarmed, without detonating it. So with less than an hour before it is scheduled to go off (at the LA airport!), someone has to transport the nuke to a location where it would cause the least amount of damage. [For some reason,] no military plane was available, so another small plane had to be used, to lift the nuke to the location the President and his Cabinet chose, which ended up being a spot between mountains in the Mojave Desert. However, due to the precision needed for the drop, a human pilot is necessary for this - whoever drops the nuke would have to give his life. When speaking to President Palmer, Jack Bauer tells him that he already has several volunteers.

    In reality however, there were no volunteers; Jack Bauer was planning on dropping the nuke himself! George Mason, who was, until earlier that day, the head of CTU, tries to convince Jack to allow him to do this mission instead. Mason had been at the CTU headquarters when it was bombed earlier that morning (I left that out, above), and was expected to be dead the following day, due to the radiation exposure, symptoms of which he had been exhibiting all day. (He first tried to hide them, and stayed on as long as he could as CTU head, before he finally gave up (shorlty before all this was going on at the airport), and turned over control to Tony Almeida.) Because of the symptoms that he was experiencing, and the detailed precision required for dropping this bomb, Jack told Mason that he would be unfit for the mission (despite the fact that he [Mason] was going to be dead by the following day anyway).

    So when Jack was on the plane, transporting the nuke to the secluded desert location, it appears that he is going to be dead within half an hour or so. His daughter, who has no cell phone of her own [boy, that would have helped her out that day a lot, wouldn't it have?... Perhaps she had lost it in the commotion] borrowed one, and called CTU headquarters, who put her through to her father. Jack informed her that he was giving his life for this mission. Kim is devastated.

    So are the viewers of this show, thinking that the hero Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland) will be dead soon. But for those of us who've seen the 3rd season already, we may have been confused... If he is around for the next season, then how could he get out of dying in this scenario? [Especially since he is on a plane with a nuclear bomb, that's set to go off in like 20 minutes...]

    I know I've already included a number of spoilers above, but I'm going to stop this here.

    I will say that after the nuclear weapon is successfully set off in the remote location, a recording turns up, which contains a conversation between Syed Ali, the terrorist leader responsible for the bomb plan, at a meeting in Cyprus, with key ministers from "three Middle Eastern countries." It sounds kind of odd when this issue is mentioned throughout the remainder episodes... They keep saying "three Middle Eastern countries," but never say the names. I guess that's what you have to do, with this type of program.

    There is speculation that the plot of this season may be symbolically linked to the post-9/11 policies of our government, and that the mention of "three Middle Eastern countries" could be a reference to the nonsensical "Axis of Evil" (though one of those countries wasn't Middle Eastern).


    Especially inspiring is the end of this season, in which Jack Bauer and Sherry Palmer, after almost capturing the evidence proving that the Cyprus recording is fake, but losing it to tragedy, are able to quickly gather new evidence, just in the nick of time to stop what would have been a horrible war.


    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    THE FUTURE OF THE GOP

    I have said this before and I will say it again: The future of the GOP will be significantly determined by which 2008 Republican presidential candidate we nominate. If we nominate someone like McCain or Giuliani, the GOP will become the moderate party and will be headed in a progressive direction. If we nominate someone like Frist or Brownback, the GOP will retain its valuable social conservative element which attracts so many key voters in Middle America. I wanted to share with you this column I found on Human Events today which I think takes a profound look at the history and progressions of the Republican Party throughout the past four decades. It was written by Craig Shirley, who is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. and author of the critically acclaimed book, “Reagan’s Revolution; The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All.” He is currently writing a book about the 1980 Reagan campaign. Enjoy!

    -Christian Hartsock, guest blogger


    25 Years After Reagan: Where Does the GOP Stand?
    by Craig Shirley

    “Both major parties have been around so long that they exude the seedy, unmistakable odor of entrenched and callous old age. But in the eye (or nose) of public opinion ... the GOP unquestionably forged into a commanding lead in this unhappy respect.”

    Sounds familiar, right? Except this observation of the Republican Party was penned in 1975 by National Review editor and revolutionary thinker William Rusher in his critically acclaimed book, “The Making of the New Majority Party.” In the wake of Watergate and the unprecedented resignations of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew and after Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford, continued the pursuit of his predecessor’s liberal policies, the GOP had hit rock bottom by the time of the fall elections of 1974.

    The GOP lost countless House and Senate seats and hundreds of state legislative races. In fact, the situation was so bad, the Democratic Party by January of 1975 had near or total control of 49 state governments. Only in Kansas did the GOP hold sway. With no money coming in, the Republican National Committee fired dozens of staffers and closed its headquarters in December of 1974 for three weeks, just to save on the electricity bill. The GOP was bankrupt in every sense of the word.

    The Republican Party had lost its way and many, including Rusher, thought it would go the way of the Whigs, the GOP’s political forefathers, because the Republicans, like the Whigs, had come to stand for nothing. The lessons of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt -- to challenge the status quo and never accept things as they are -- were lost on the party. Rusher, like many leading lights of the Conservative movement, thought that what was best was for the Republican Party to be replaced by a new, third political party, one that would draw in conservatives from both the Democratic Party and the GOP. Their idea made a great deal of sense, especially considering the fact that there were many right of center Democrats in those days and there was still the hangover of Reconstruction in the South, thus the phrase, “Yellow Dog Democrat,” meaning Southerners would rather vote for a yellow dog than a hated Republican.

    Consequently, according to Rusher and others, there would evolve two parties of competing and not overlapping philosophies -- one party, the conservatives, would be suspicious of government and the other, the Democrats, would be the party of government. An honest choice for the American voter would be one happy byproduct.

    The natural leader of the new party, everybody thought, was the wildly popular former governor of California, Ronald Reagan. Indeed, he did briefly flirt with the notion but later decided that he’d already left one political party and he wasn’t about to leave another. He was going to run for President and change the GOP at the same time.

    The GOP, at the leadership level from the time of William Howard Taft up until Ford’s presidency, was a Tory-like party in which power flowed downward and the status quo was always defended. As an example, witness the aggressive posture of the Nixon White House when the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the media. The papers were all about the Kennedy and Johnson administrations conduct of the Vietnam War -- nothing about Nixon. Still, his staff went to battle stations to attack the media over the printing of the classified documents simply because the establishment was threatened.

    Last month marked the 25 anniversary of the revolutionary election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The GOP has come along way at this silver anniversary. The party he inherited was adrift and badly in need of a vigorous message and courageous leadership. And Reagan’s sunny optimism, was not just about being a nice guy, it reflected his outlook for the future of America. It was a crucial part of his ideology.

    Reagan, from 1975 to 1980, completed the process begun years earlier by Barry Goldwater by turning the GOP into an American brand of populist conservatism in which power flows upwards and the status quo is always questioned.

    After the Gipper passed away in June of 2004, old Reagan hand Jeff Bell wrote in The Weekly Standard: “Reagan invariably gravitated toward the aspects of American conservatism that were optimistic not cynical, populist not elitist, egalitarian, not hierarchical, moral not relativistic -- in short, what is distinctly American in American conservatism.”

    Unfortunately, the winning formulas of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan are becoming lost on the GOP of today. The beginning of the downfall of the Democrats began in 1965, when, at their apogee, they became the party of big government, tax cuts and corruption. Only Vietnam and Watergate staved off their eventual demise.

    At the close of 2005, the GOP is fast becoming the party of big government, tax cuts and corruption. It is evolving back into a Tory party. To wit, Reagan never would have called the Minutemen “vigilantes” as some in the GOP did after these citizens, angry at our porous borders, took it upon themselves to organize a volunteer patrol of the Mexican border. To Reagan, what these concerned Americans were doing was representative of individual initiative, much like a volunteer firefighter. Only those statists Republicans who called them vigilantes would presumably denounce a citizen’s arrest as well.

    Meanwhile, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee recently ran ads attacking the conservative mayor of Cranston, R.I., because he has the temerity to consider a primary challenge to incumbent liberal Senator Lincoln Chaffee. Their actions may be unprecedented. The first rule of the bureaucracy -- any bureaucracy -- is to protect itself, and everybody understands that the party committees give money and support to incumbents. This is one thing. But it is quite another thing when those same committees engage in ad homonym attacks on a member of their own party.

    In Virginia, the Democratic candidate for governor, Tim Kaine, supported local control by homeowners against unrestricted growth. The Republican candidate, Jerry Kilgore, in Mr. Jefferson’s own backyard, opposed such local control, siding with the big developers. And some in the GOP are arguing for national identification cards. In the GOP, power is once again flowing downward.

    Witness also, the unconscionable growth of government, all at the hands of total Republican control of the federal government and most is not attributed to national defense or the war on terror. Indeed, another GOP party committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, recently distributed a memo to congressmen urging they brag about the pork brought home to their districts. Only the grotesque amounts that were discussed for hurricane relief finally awakened the grassroots of the conservative movement, and not a minute too soon, to rise up in righteous indignation, demanding cuts in spending. Far be it from some conservatives to praise John McCain, but praise him they must for urging large cuts in the federal budget.

    And where the Democrats had infamous symbols of greed and corruption in the form of Billy Sol Estes and Bobby Baker in the 1960s, the GOP can point to its own access sellers, lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Office of Management and Budget director David Safavian among others. The right of the citizenry to petition their government is an important part of the First Amendment and no real conservative would argue anything else. But the excesses of money and greed have led some in the party to abandon their core beliefs. Or worse, attempt to remake conservativism into something it is not.

    The natural state of the modern conservative movement is to always be in a state of constant revolution -- so when they are called “elitists” it rankles because it is baseless. After all, we supported a guy who went to Eureka College for President.

    When George Bush acts in a revolutionary manner, as in the case of tax cuts, or the war on terror or nominating John Bolton to the United Nations, or reforming Social Security, he is applauded by his base and his poll numbers were quite good in these instances, especially with the conservatives who dominate the party.

    So when Bush chose Harriet Miers, it cut deeply with his biggest supporters because they know he is “one of us” -- and that he is deeply distrustful of the real elites who dominate Washington and much of American culture. Bush is not alone in facing a revolt among his own people. Reagan sometimes acted in a pragmatic fashion too, and conservatives let him know of their displeasure. In this, though, Bush can take some solace. Conservatives angst is not personal. They desperately want Bush, the conservative, to succeed.

    In many ways, the GOP has become a victim of its own successes, attracting new people who are interested in the party, not for reasons of ideology, but for reasons of money, access, power and fame. These statists are ironically taking the party back into the past -- exactly where Reagan never wanted it to go. Reagan’s banner of “bold unmistakable colors” is being struck and the party is running up a white bed sheet of surrender.

    These insiders, few of which have ever read “Free to Choose” or “Conscience of a Conservative” are taking Reagan’s revolutionary party of the future, created within the framework of freedom, down the road to minority status once again.

    For years, the mantra of the Democratic Party has been, “give us power so we can do good things for you,” an emotional appeal. The Republicans rejoined was, “give us power, so we can give you more freedom,” requiring an intellectual discipline. Clearly, this message of Reagan’s is becoming too difficult for some in today’s Republican Party.



    Friday, January 06, 2006

    Update (1/10/06): At the bottom of this entry, I mentioned a fundraising request for myself and fellow students at my university (re: trying to get to CPAC - our need for donations).

    Here is the fundraising letter that I sent out last week, and my previous blog entry here has the relevant information as well.


    I just saw that CPAC now has its agenda posted at the website. I really, really, really hope that we're able to attend.

    Please try to help us out; every little bit helps, and I can guarantee you that your contributions will be put to good use. Thanks!

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    MERRY CHRISTMAS (2005-2006)

    [Aakash, popping back in again...]

    So I've been told that tonight is actually still Christmas (for the next few minutes... or for the next couple of hours, where my guest blogger is). In any case, I think that I should say something about this, due to how swamped I've been these past couple of weeks.

    To all my readers, and everyone else in the Blogosphere: Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

    I have saved an entry below, as a draft, to insert some pertinent items for this occasion, but I will right now link to my writings from Christmases past.

    From last year (Christmastime 2004):
    - Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
    - Merry Christmas
    - The Grinch that Moved Into the White House
    From Christmastime 2003:
    - Holiday Angst
    - Christmas Continued...
    - Christmas Wishes (article at Watchblog)
    - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
    From Christmastime 2002:
    - Merry Christmas!!
    - Merry Christmas... Eve!! (Good material here...)


    With regards to the spirit of giving, I was wanting to post something here yesterday about how I had gotten most (though not quite all) of my incomplete coursework finished, but had to quickly pen a fundraising letter, to coincide with the closure of Independence Airlines. For the important info about this, see my last entry below, and please help us out, if you can.

    (I think that if this works out, I deserve to be picked as one of those "CPAC Bloggers" - If not, then we'll do it unofficially. :-)


    How I feel...



    Treason by Ann Coulter


    THE PARTY OF TREASON

    Today I am posting a column written by my colleague J.B. Williams, which he sent me. This column puts a candid emphasis on the curious compulsion inherent in liberals to undermine our national security and scream "Impeachment!" when the president endeavors to protect it. The lovely New York Times, or the "Treason Times" as Ann Coulter would put it, has committed an act of treason and and now liberals are ripping their hair out over the NSA's spying program and claiming that the Bush administration is "expanding executive power." In a fit of wide-eyed paranoia, the cover of Newsweek inquired: "How Much Power Should They Have?" Mr. Williams sets the record straight in this column. I hope you all enjoy it.

    -Christian Hartsock, Guest blogger


    National Defense Secrets…
    A Not-so-Funny International Joke!

    By JB Williams

    How odd and alarming it is in the post 9/11 world, to note that secret intelligence and security operations are no longer an acceptable practice in America. Known for the most complex and effective national defense systems in the world, America seems to be having its biggest problems keeping its covert defense operations, well, covert…

    In the name of open disclosure, or maybe more specifically, political “Gotcha-ism”, the American press seems to take great pride in outing what are supposed to be Top Secret national security operations. At a time of great political division evidenced by the daily barrage of bare-knuckled rhetorical headlines attacking all facets of government, in particular the current administration, it isn’t tough to find some disgruntled malcontent doing time behind a CIA or NSA desk, willing to be the latest un-named source in a new form of political dissent. In fact, if you want to keep anything secret today, you had better not tell it to anyone working for our nation’s Top Secret agencies…

    The latest story involves an NSA data-mining effort aimed at intercepting communications between known Al Qaeda cells operating outside American borders and people currently residing in America. The pros call them “sleeper cells”. Silent, invisible members of multiple international terrorist organizations, or just plain old fashioned home-grown sympathizers, living in average American neighborhoods, leading seemingly normal American lives, laying low below radar, planning and plotting the next 9/11.

    JB Williams on Democrats and National Security Read the full column by JB Williams...



    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    2006 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: PROTECT THE FAMILY FROM JUDICIAL TYRANNY

    My topic for today brings me to a story I read last month which involved a teenage girl in Orange County named Charlene Nguon who filed suit against her school after the principal informed her mother that she was a lesbian. Nguon had been asked repeatedly not to make out with her girlfriend on campus, but continued to do it. U.S. District Judge James V. Selna has recently ruled that Nguon may in fact sue the school for violating her privacy, holding that she “sufficiently alleged a legally protected privacy interest in information about her sexual orientation.” An ACLU lawyer said, “Coming out is a very serious decision that should not be taken away from anyone."

    When they're not pushing to protect a teenager's "right" to have her sexual orientation kept secret from her parents, liberals are also pushing to roll back restrictions on abortion, such as parental notification laws which prohibit minors from obtaining abortions without notifying their parents. The reason for this is both simple and complex. Liberals have embarked on a collective endeavor to subvert the sovereignty of parents and in so doing demolish the family structure altogether. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels called for the abolition of the family.
    Having had Marxism running through their blood throughout the past century, liberals have sought catharsis for their internalized contempt for this sacred institution by attempting to redefine marriage, as the Massachusetts Supreme Court did in 2004 by imposing their hallucination of a right to gay marriage in the Massachusetts Constitution on the state and, as we have seen, by preventing parents to monitor their children's behavior. The fascist reign of liberals is being facilitated primarily through the courts. Being die-hard champions of the supremacy of the state over the family, liberals have declared war on the autonomy of the mother and the father as well as the very concept of a mother and a father as the requisite standard for sustaining a family.

    We must make protecting the family a priority in 2006. It is an indispensable fact that moral values decided the last election. For the next presidential election, we should be focused less on Sen. John McCain, who voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and more on Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), who wrote in the National Review in July 2004, "Marriage is at the center of the family, and the family is the basis of society itself." The family is the cornerstone of our nation's moral character. We must not let it be contaminated by the fascist left any more than it already has been.

    -Christian Hartsock, Guest Blogger


    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Here's a column by Doug Patton which he sent me. I believe it is a painfully valid account of how our courts are submerging America into a culture of hedonism, infanticide, militant secularism and outright fascism. He touches on the fact that liberals are so fanatically fixated on undermining the president's ability to ensure our national security that they are willing to treasonously leak secret information, as the New York Times did, and preach about the importance of individual privacy rights at the expense of our collective right to not be terrorized by foreign Islamic subhumans. Furthermore, they apply a preposterous double standard when speaking of the value of "civil liberties;" vigorously championing the rights of possible terrorist affiliates while aggressively subverting religious liberty and the right to life.

    Doug is a freelance columnist whose work is published in newspapers across the nation and on websites across the internet. He is a former political speechwriter and advisor to candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations and is one of my valued colleagues. Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonramp.com. Enjoy!

    -Christian Hartsock, Guest Blogger


    Courts, Not Spying, is Real Threat to Liberties
    By Doug Patton

    Liberals can barely contain their glee as they feign concern for the nation’s security, even as they compromise it. Meanwhile, President Bush claims that recent leaks published in The New York Times are a much greater threat than any perceived violations of civil liberties resulting from domestic spying on Americans known to be communicating with terrorists.

    Both miss the point that the courts continue to be the worst abusers of our rights. From abortion to homosexual marriage, from infringement of religious freedoms to abuses of eminent domain, for the last four decades, the erosion of our constitutional liberties has come not from the executive branch but from the judiciary. A few examples:

    The courts foisted upon America a holocaust of abortion with 1973’s Roe vs. Wade decision. In 2000, in a 5-4 ruling in Carhart vs. Stenberg, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Nebraska’s ban on the gruesome procedure known as partial birth abortion. In 2003, President Bush signed a federal ban into law, but federal judges immediately barred its implementation.

    Atheist Michael Newdow sued on behalf of his daughter, whom Newdow said should not be subjected to the Pledge of Allegiance at her public school. In the now-infamous case, a three-judge panel from the radical Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that recitation of the Pledge in public schools is unconstitutional because the words “under God” violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

    Lawrence vs. Texas has a greater potential for disrupting the legal and moral order of American society than any ruling in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. This case struck down Texas’ anti-sodomy laws and declared that consenting adults have a “right” to perform homosexual acts. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the high court has established a “right” to same-sex marriage. Can such a decision be far behind?

    Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America have a right to free association, radical groups have declared war on the Scouts. The ACLU sued the Boy Scouts and the City of San Diego, demanding that Federal Judge Napoleon Jones ban them from using a public park in that city. Incredibly, Judge Jones agreed, saying that the Scouts’ exclusion of homosexuals and atheists makes them as a religious organization, and therefore they can no longer use the park.

    U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that a monument depicting the Ten Commandments, placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court by Chief Justice Roy Moore, had to be removed. Judge Moore refused to comply. Federal officials first shrouded the monument like a porno magazine in a convenience store, and then finally wheeled it out of public view altogether. The U.S. Supreme Court, which felt obligated to interject itself into state law on the issues of abortion in Nebraska and sodomy in Texas, refused to review this decision.

    Finally, and incredibly, the United States Supreme Court ruled last year that cities can use eminent domain to seize property and hand it over to private developers because they will pay more taxes than the original owners. In Kelo vs. New London, Connecticut, the High Court decreed that any city council in the country could use its power of eminent domain to expand its tax base at the expense of private land ownership.

    These and other examples of judicial fiat stand as much more frightening abuses of civil liberties than anything being done in time of war by George W. Bush and the National Security Agency. If my neighbor is communicating with Osama bin Laden, by all means, please, tap his phone, monitor his e-mail and watch him like a hawk. But don’t steal his land, violate his religious liberties, allow the mother of his children the right to butcher them as they are being born, or redefine the meaning of his marriage. Those are true violations of his civil liberties.



    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Hello again! Hope you all had a happy and safe New Year. Here's a column by Adam Graham which Nathan Tabor of TheConservativeVoice.com sent me. I found it rather fitting to post here due to its subject matter. Hope you all enjoy it.

    -Christian Hartsock, Guest Blogger

    The Coming Day of the Blog
    by Adam Graham


    "I envision a future where there'll be 300 million reporters, where anyone from anywhere can report for any reason. It's freedom of participation absolutely realized." - Matt Drudge in his 1998 Speech to the National Press Club

    The future is not yet. Despite the talk about the influence of blogs, the medium is still in the process of change and growth. According to a study published in early 2005 by the Pew Research Center, 62% of Internet users don't even know what a blog is. 27% are Blog Readers and 7% have published their own blogs. Even big blogs like Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit or Michelle Malkin don’t approach the readership of the Drudge Report, WorldNetDaily, or Newsmax.

    A technology that's not completely understood and is growing in influence scares a lot of movers and shakers in traditional media and politics. In a recent piece, syndicated newspaper columnist Kathleen Parker painted bloggers as the mad boys from "The Lord of the Flies", and begged people to ignore them. While the tactic of smearing the blogosphere to the ignorant may work for a time, you can't fight progress. Change is coming, the only question is what form it will take.

    Understanding the Blogosphere

    The cited number of people blogging or reading blogs have little to do with what political people think of as blogging.

    While logs on LiveJournal, Xanga, and MySpace count in questions about people reading blogs, the content is quite different in that these sites are almost entirely personal and will say little about current events or politics. A large number of blogs focus on other topics from sports to computers to pets. In addition, many blogs are dormant with no posts in months or even years. These other blogs only serve the change in media and political circles if they're in fact "gateway blogs." People may start reading about sports or computers on blogs, and its not too big of a leap to start seeking political information as well.

    Some have a vision of bloggers fundamentally changing the structure of how we get news and information. "It’s the modern equivalent of the Gutenberg revolution, a way of putting not just published material in the hands of the public—but publishing itself," say the founders of the Pajamas Media blog network. Others view Blogging as a key to activism. Jay Stephenson's Stop the ACLU started in February of last year and has grown in popularity with its focus on the ACLU's abuses. Bloggers played a key role in the downfall of the nomination of Harriet Miers.

    While most big groups in Washington took a "wait and see" or even supportive approach to the Miers nomination, most Conservative Bloggers made their displeasure clear. Folks in Washington read it as representative of the general conservative discontent and the nomination was pulled. I tend to believe that political blogs in general are going to end up more on the activism side. The reason for this is that bloggers get started blogging because they care about issues not because they want to be professional writers. They want to be heard on important issues of the day and make a difference in what happens in our nation's life.

    In the future, each blog that puts any effort into it will have a circle of influence. It could be 50 people, it could be 50,000, but whatever its circle, a successful blogger is going to persuade his audience on the issues. So, rather than getting the New York, Los Angeles elite media views on the news, a vast cross-section of America will be informing public opinion. No longer will it require a billionaire benefactor, an Ivy League education, or "knowing" the right people. The skills of 21st Century advocacy will be intelligence, wit, writing skills, and dedication.

    There will still be big blogs and there'll be other outlets like talk radio, but rather than small blogs being blown about by the latest statement from huge blogs or Rush Limbaugh, there'll be a strong give and take, with big blogs linking to small and vice versa. The greatest danger big blogs face is forgetting what makes blogs appealing in the first place and becoming as arrogant and self-important as the mainstream media and political establishments. Losing touch with average people may be called professionalism in some establishment circles, but it will bring certain death to a blog.

    That's the future the way I see it. No wonder the establishment's scared.