Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Living in Two Worlds

Nancy Pelosi is clearly very hypocritical, or very confused. Originally I had her figured for the former, but as she has become more prominent in the daily news cycle I'm becoming more convinced she simply doesn't realize she lives in two worlds.

She (or at least one of her aids) recently got very heated with the military when there were no more G5 planes available for transportation between DC and California. Despite being offered a military version of a Boeing 747, which by any honest assessment must be more than adequate for her purposes, Pelosi's office found this to be "totally unacceptable."

It's one thing to need speedy and reliable transportation to properly fulfill your duties when you're a high ranking politician, it's entirely another to act as if you have the right to use the most luxurious, most expensive version of that transportation. And if the first thing I think of after hearing Pelosi's reaction is Tropic Thunder and Les Grosman's bribe offering ownership of a G5, there's something definitely wrong.

Nancy Pelosi operates in two worlds: her public role as Speaker, and her private role in high-society. Publicly she backs spending packages and the need for the government to "aid those in need" (as vague as that sounds), but privately she isn't willing to give up any of the luxuries she currently receives as part of her position. If she wants to ask me and other common Americans to pay higher taxes and foot her spending plans, she needs to at least be willing to make some sacrifices of her own. Not the least of which should be the demand for the same plane that Jay-Z currently uses.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Law School Gamble

I've often wondered how sound of an investment it is for me to be attending Law School. Apparently, there is much more risk involved than there used to be:
The two disillusioned attorneys were victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that's just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle. The ingredients are strikingly similar, too: Misguided easy-money policies that are encouraging the masses to go into debt; a self-serving establishment trading in half-truths that exaggerate the value of its product; plus a Wall Street money machine dabbling in outright fraud as it foists unaffordable debt on the most vulnerable marks...

The one certainty: The average law grad owes $100,000 in student debt. "There are a lot of aspects of selling education that are tinged with consumer fraud," Sander says. "There is a definite conspiracy to lead students down a primrose path."

This only makes the pressure of landing a well-paying job after graduation that much greater. Im personally expecting at least ten to fifteen years of repaying loans once I complete law school. The worst part is that I'm not convinced there is a good remedy available for this situation right now. Costs of both undergraduate and post-graduate schooling rise every year; my own undergraduate institution now costs at least 15% more than it did my freshman year. In many cases, schools have simply been forced to raise tuition to make ends meet.

As schooling costs continue to grow, there is a growing risk for many young people that college and graduate studies are bad investments. Certainly there is a sense among many (especially in the middle class) that a four-year degree is something non-negotiable that must be attained in order to make a decent living. It's what high school guidance counselors and college recruiters preach on a regular basis. The truth is that some young people would be better off avoiding the costs of college (and the necessary debt) and pursuing trade jobs or other careers where they can be trained specifically on the job.

At this point it seems I'm stuck enough that I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed.

The Return from Sabbatical

I haven't written in this blog for a few years but it seems I've got the itch to begin again.

The entries will probably be more sporadic, but I intend to keep the content reasonably fresh. The blog itself will certainly have a different tone and cover a wider array of topics than it did before. I intend to focus the entries more on my own reactions to various issues or events and be less inclined to simply report the daily news. In any case, I hope that the thoughts I provide here will be entertaining or thoughtful enough to sustain an interest from those who visit this blog.

Thanks in advance for reading.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hayden Gets Confirmed

Gen. Michael Hayden was confirmed as the 20th CIA director today. The Senate approved Hayden by a vote of 78-15.

Meanwhile, Sen. Arlen Specter getting dramatic:

Breaking with the White House, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter voted against the four-star general. The Pennsylvania Republican said he was protesting the administration's failure to inform Congress of intelligence operations, particularly its warrantless surveillance program.

"I have no quarrel with General Hayden," Specter said on the Senate floor.

I don't really understand the point of this kind of manuevering. First of all, there has been a great deal of work done in justifying the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, so there shouldn't really be a need for more clarification in the legal sense. Second, there are reasons why the Senate was not told of certain aspects of the NSA program, namely that many of the details were sensitive to national security.

It has never and will never be the duty of the Senate to pretend it is the military. There are always things that the Senate will be kept in the dark on, because it is simply not their job to know certain things. This feels like only the latest in a series of "we are privileged" stunts by members of congress (like the recent uproar in Congress over FBI searches thanks to the Jefferson incident). Sen. Specter needs to stop grandstanding and focus on doing his job; voting with the majority of which he is a part may also be nice.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bush Orders The Jefferson Documents Sealed

This is the kind of thing that just baffles me:

President Bush stepped into the Justice Department's constitutional confrontation with Congress on Thursday and ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid on a congressman's office be sealed for 45 days.

The president directed that no one involved in the investigation have access to the documents under seal and that they remain in the custody of the solicitor general.

Bush's move was described as an attempt to reach a cooling off period in a heated confrontation between his administration and leaders of the House and Senate.

"This period will provide both parties more time to resolve the issues in a way that ensures that materials relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation are made available to prosecutors in a manner that respects the interests of a coequal branch of government," Bush said.

This sounds way too much like the President is just buying time for Congressional members to hide away whatever it is they don't want to be leaked out. I don't buy the excuse that it is to "get their affairs in order." More here.

The House Gets It. Will The Senate?

The House has voted once again to open ANWR for drilling:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Citing the public outcry over $3-a-gallon gasoline and America's heavy reliance on foreign oil, the House on Thursday voted to open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling, knowing the prospects for Senate approval were slim.

Drilling proponents argued that the refuge on Alaska's North Slope would provide 1 million barrels a day of additional domestic oil at peak production and reduce the need for imports...

The House voted 225-201 to direct the Interior Department to open oil leases on the coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - an area of 1.5 million acres that is thought likely to hold about 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

But the action may be little more than symbolic. Arctic refuge development, while approved by the House five times, repeatedly has been blocked in the Senate where drilling proponents have been unable to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

There's always a chance that the Republican majority will finally start acting like a majority. I'm hesitant to call the House's move for ANWR drilling a success, however, because of the Senate's poor track record on the issue. Nonetheless, we have some reason to be encouraged with the Senate's recent passage of the Immigration bill, and what looks like a cloture vote on DC Circuit nominee Brett Kavanaugh, giving him a chance at the up or down vote he deserves.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bipartisan Hypocrisy

For some reason, many congressional members have been very upset by the discovery of $100,000 of bribe money on ice (literally) in representative William Jefferson's freezer:

House leaders of both parties stood in rare election-year unanimity Wednesday demanding the FBI surrender documents it took and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of a congressman's office.

"The Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized," House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The leaders said that the congressman, William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, should then cooperate with the investigation.

Earlier, Hastert had said any FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of that (case) just for the sake of the constitutional aspects of it."

This all seems a bit hypocritical. Glenn Reynolds explains why:

I say, search 'em all. Now. They must have something to hide, right? They certainly don't mind much more intrusive paramilitary raids on the rest of us, even though the Fourth Amendment provides a lot more reason to doubt the validity of those than the Speech and Debate Clause provides where Congressional searches are concerned...

The leadership -- of both parties -- should be ashamed of this stunt. They should remember that the Constitution forbids titles of nobility, too, despite their effort to transform their positions into something very much like that.

I side with Glenn in that legislators don't deserve any special privileges here. If there is reason to believe they are guilty of bribery or have anything else to hide, they need to be investigated. Congressional members are not "protected" from the ordinary way things work and must actually be held to an even higher standard.

The Immigration Bill Moves Forward

The Immigration Bill compromise comes one step closer to becoming passed legislation:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to limit debate on election-year immigration legislation, clearing the way for final passage later this week of a bill that calls for tougher border security as well as an eventual chance at citizenship for millions of men and women in the country illegally.

The vote to advance the measure was 73-25, 13 more than the 60 needed.

Despite the controversy surrounding the bill, the outcome was not a surprise. Even some of the bill's opponents said they were satisfied they had been given ample opportunity over past week to try and give the bill a more conservative cast.

Final passage would set the stage for a difficult negotiation with the House, which passed legislation last year that exposes all illegal immigrants to criminal felony charges.

President Bush has repeatedly urged Congress to approve an immigration bill that generally follows the approach taken by the Senate, and some senators expressed optimism that a deal could be reached.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hayden Moves Closer To Confirmation

Gen. Michael Hayden moves through the Senate panel confirmation and now heads on to a full vote in the near future:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Gen. Michael Hayden moved a step closer Tuesday to becoming the nation's 20th CIA chief, where he will take over a spy agency looking for a leader to steer it through troubles ranging from al-Qaida to Washington politics.

The Senate Intelligence Committee recommended confirmation, 12-3, with three of the panel's seven Democrats voting against him. If the Senate approves him before Memorial Day, as expected, Hayden could be sworn in by the end of the week.

"We think he is an outstanding choice to head the CIA," committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said after the vote. "He is a proven leader and a supremely qualified intelligence professional."

Meanwhile, we get the usual uninformed rhetoric of the Dems:

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., joined Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Evan Bayh of Indiana to vote against Hayden. "General Hayden directed an illegal program that put Americans on American soil under surveillance without the legally required approval of a judge," Feingold said in a statement.

When are they going to face the case law and give up attacking the NSA program?

Bird Flu Goes Human To Human

Some alarming news from Indonesia:

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- All seven people infected with bird flu in a cluster of Indonesian cases can be linked to other patients, according to disease trackers investigating possible human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus.

A team of international experts has been unable to find animals that might have infected the people, the World Health Organization said in a statement today. In one case, a 10-year- old boy who caught the virus from his aunt may have passed it to his father, the first time officials have seen evidence of a three-person chain of infection, an agency spokeswoman said. Six of the seven people have died.

Almost all of the 218 cases of H5N1 infections confirmed by the WHO since late 2003 can be traced to direct contact with sick or dead birds. Strong evidence of human-to-human transmission may prompt the global health agency to convene a panel of experts and consider raising the pandemic alert level, said Maria Cheng, an agency spokeswoman.

"Considering the evidence and the size of the cluster, it's a possibility,'' Cheng said in a telephone interview. "It depends on what we're dealing with in Indonesia. It's an evolving situation.''

Monday, May 22, 2006

Another Bureaucratic Screw Up

It seems as though the personal information of over 26.5 million veterans has been "misplaced":

WASHINGTON (AP) - Thieves took sensitive personal information on 26.5 million U.S. veterans, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, after a Veterans Affairs employee improperly brought the material home, the government said Monday.

The information involved mainly those veterans who served and have been discharged since 1975, said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. Data of veterans discharged before 1975 who submitted claims to the agency may have been included.

Nicholson said there was no evidence the thieves had used the data for identity theft, and an investigation was continuing.

"It's highly probable that they do not know what they have," he said in a briefing with reporters. "We have decided that we must exercise an abundance of caution and make sure our veterans are aware of this incident."

What's worse is that this is only the latest in a series of serious security breaches, including the disclosure of highly sensitive information related to the NSA program. Yikes.

Hopefully Gen. Hayden can at least help out the CIA to keep its information secure.

The Message In BC's Commencement

While about 50 students stood with their backs turned as the Secretary of State was introduced to give the commencement address for Boston College, the rest presented her with sound applause and a standing ovation. That in itself is at least worthy of mention, but what struck me most was what Rice said before the ceremony:

"People have the right to protest, but I hope when they protest they realize also that people now have a right to protest in Baghdad and Kabul, and that's a very big breakthrough for the international community," Rice said Monday before the BC commencement.

This sums up in a sentence the difference between the center-right and fever swamp lefties. The leaders of the Democratic party blindly rage against the president and his administration, and place intense emphasis on painting the GOP as a bunch of bad guys. Yet while they are screaming they ignore the many successes that have come from the war on terror and the war in Iraq.

It is truly that simple.

Why Al Gore's Documentary Will Flop

Via AP:

Is President Bush likely to see Al Gore's documentary about global warming?

"Doubt it," Bush said coolly Monday...

"New technologies will change how we live and how we drive our cars which all will have the beneficial effect of improving the environment," Bush said. "And in my judgment we need to set aside whether or not greenhouse gases have been caused by mankind or because of natural effects and focus on the technologies that will enable us to live better lives and at the same time protect the enviroment."

I think most people who are even moderately informed on the issue feel Bush's sentiment. They are not intimidated by Gore's scare tactics and thus will not succumb his feverish push of the global warming issue. Gore is really just a boy crying wolf about something that has been overplayed for years.

Bjorn Lomborg's book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, has done a lot of work in proving this.

Controversy Over New Orleans Mayor Race

The DNC is vehemntly denying charges that it backed mayoral candidate and sitting Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D-LA) in favor of incumbent bonehead Ray Nagin. Drudge Reports:
The Democratic National Committee strongly denies it placed political operatives in the city of New Orleans to work against the reelection efforts of incumbent Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin.

Well-placed DRUDGE REPORT sources claimed DNC Chairman Howard Dean made the decision to back mayoral candidate and sitting Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D-LA).

The DNC says the report is "unequivocally and absolutely false."

DNC Communications director Karen Finney explained: "The DNC does not as a policy get involved in Democratic primaries... The only thing that the DNC did was a campaign helping ensure that displaced voters had an opportunity to vote."

The DRUDGE REPORT takes chairman Dean and his spokesman at their word.

It just seems a little hard to believe (as Drudge notes) that Dean isn't telling the truth. Nagin was a disaster in the aftermath of Katrina, and was one of the major people getting in the way of the Dems plan to blame the disaster on the president. He spells nothing but bad news for the DNC, and his reelection can not be seen otherwise.