Friday, September 30, 2005

Finally, some Good News

After weeks of low approval ratings and partisan bickering about everything from hurricanes to the Supreme Court to the war in Iraq, President Bush is finally gaining some ground.

Although the poll show Americans are still fed up with the war, gas prices, and partisan bickering, the President's approval rating has increased 5 points, from 40% just over a week ago to 45%.

While Bush clearly suffered in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, the flurry of activity since then has apparently brought a few people back into the president’s column," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "The problem for the administration is that none of the challenges it faces-from Iraq to reconstruction to the ethical issues around its Congressional allies-is likely to be resolved any time soon.

This is a good point. Just because his ratings are going up doesn't mean Bush can sit back and relax. He has shown an alarming trend lately of running to the center when under fire. It doesn't give him any approval from liberals who already can't stand him, and it only alienates his supporters on the right. If he nominates a reliable conservative to replace O'Connor, then maybe he'll gain another few points in the coming week.

They're Back...

Remember the Minutemen? They gained attention earlier this year when they set up by the Mexico-Arizona border to increase public awareness of the immigration problem.

Well, they're back, and this time with plans to expand their activities.

Now the organization hopes to raise awareness about what it says is the federal government’s failure to secure America's borders. With plans for an October vigil in the Southwest, the Minutemen have decided to bring their campaign to the northern border as well.

Although the number of arrests at the southwestern border dwarfs those to the north — well over 1 million versus about 12,000 annually — Minuteman members say that the Canadian border, which at 5,525 miles is almost three times the length of the Mexican border, is vulnerable to terrorists and criminals.

“Canada has extremely lax laws allowing people to come in and live there from Middle Eastern countries,” said Connie Hair, a spokeswoman for the group. “If you’re from the Middle East, it only makes sense that you might be in a Middle Eastern terror cell.”

It's good to see the group is still kicking. I was a big supporter of their first vigil in Arizona, even if it doesn't seem to have made a large difference to national policy. Hopefully if they keep it up, leadership in Washington will get the hint and strengthen the border security themselves.

Well, this sucks

When I'm not immersed in politics or going to class, one of the other things I participate in is martial arts. I'm currently a brown belt in Taijutsu, and I'm on track to test for my black belt in April.

Now, my school is one of the best in the country, and I really enjoy studying there. But studying martial arts is never completely safe, and about a week ago I did something to my back. It didn't really hurt much- just an annoying twinge that made it difficult to get comfortable in any one position.

But something I did yesterday made it worse. I went from occasional twinges to a constant tingling sensation on my lower back.

Now, I know full well that back injuries aren't something to mess around with, so I went to the doctors today to get it checked out. The good news is that they're almost certain it's only a pulled muscle, and not a pinched nerve. The bad news is that I have to take a really strong prescription anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant for at least a week.

So that sucks, but it's not as bad as it could have been. If I had pinched a nerve or something, I might not have been able to go back to karate for weeks, which could have made it so I couldn't test in April.

The New West Wing?

This article by Debbie Schlussel gives a rather unflattering view of ABC's new show "Commander in Chief."

Now, I'm not gonna lie, I was expecting the show to be a glorified Hillary Clinton campaign commercial. You know- strong liberal woman fights the big bad evil republican white men, and possibly a philandering husband on the side. But I was actually pleasantly surprised.

This next part is going to contain spoilers for the show, so don't read if you dont want to know.

First, Geena Davis' character, Mackenzie Allen, plays the Independent Vice-President to a Republican President. When the President dies, the Republicans clamor for her to step aside- which makes sense. Imagine George Bush had dumped Cheney and picked an Independent running mate as a stunt to gain moderate votes. If Bush could no longer perform his duties as President, would we want the Independent to take control? Of course not- we would want someone who shares our views. But Mackenzie Allen refuses to step aside, and takes the oath of office.

Debbie Schlussel's review has some other inaccuracies as well. She writes:

Then there are the evil Republicans. The Republican speaker of the House (played by Donald Sutherland) is described as "an S.O.B., a liar, and he cheats at poker." His character is even more evil than that. The former personal secretary for the now-dead Republican President refuses to stay on with the female President, saying, "I'd feel cheap working for you." Rude, mean, evil, gratuitously insulting. That's the Republicans for you.

This is only a limited example. The Secretary had worked with the former President for ten years, and understandably didn't want to work for the woman who was going against his last wish. The other Republican leadership- from the former President's Chief of Staff to all but one member of his Cabinet and yes, even the "evil" Speaker of the House- start to come around by the end of the first episode.

The female President--for her first act as Prez--has our soldiers invade Nigeria and rescue a woman sentenced to death for adultery. Reality check: George W. Bush was President when the real-life Nigerian woman was sentenced to death. But hormones and PMS didn't cause him to lose all grip and send the troops in to rescue the woman. He used diplomatic pressure, and the woman was spared--not kidnapped to the States like President Geena Davis did.

She didn't really use force so much as she threatened to use force... which is what we want, right? Someone willing to use the military? I would have been more upset if the show had tried to prove that "just talking it out" could solve all the world's problems.

And does Schlussel seriously think there wasn't a subtle threat of force from the Bush White House? Really?

Now, these factors alone would have been enough to make a moderately interesting first episode. But what sealed the deal for me was the Hillary Clinton jokes sprinkled throughout the episode.

Joke #1: President Allen's husband is getting a tour of the White House from the former First Lady's Chief of Staff. He enters FLOTUS' office in the East Wing, and winces because all the furniture is pink. The woman misinterprets his look and says "It's probably best if you keep this as your office. Hillary Clinton had her office in the West Wing.... but that didn't go over well."

Joke #2: A few minutes later, still in the same office, the woman asks him "Do you know how many people you're going to want on your staff? More than twenty? Hillary Clinton had twenty... but that didn't go over well."

Joke #3: Later in the show the First Gentleman is getting a tour of the kitchens.

Executive Chef: I'll need to meet with you on a daily basis to discuss the menu.

First Gentleman: Well, that's not really my style.

Woman: Hillary Clinton shunned those sorts of things, too... but that didn't go over well.

It sounds repetitive when you list them back to back like that, but trust me, when they are sprinkled throughout an entire episode, they are quite amusing.

When all's said and done, there really has only been one episode, which is not nearly enough time to get an accurate read about any bias the show might or might not have. But I saw enough positives in the first episode to decide that I'll stick with it- at least for another few weeks.

If you are interested in checking out Commander in Chief, it airs at Tuesdays at 9:00 pm EST on ABC.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Quick Comment on... Comments

So, my first blogday has come and gone, and I'm pretty satisfied with the number of hits I've received. 26 isn't bad for day one.

However, I've only gotten two comments. I just want to make it clear that I welcome any input I can get-either on how to improve The Right Wing Report or about the stories themselves. Tell me what you think- do you agree with me? Do you think I'm out of my mind? Unless a post is excessively abusive (lots of profanity, threats, etc.) I'll leave it up. In my opinion, some of the best blogs are ones in which the readers are active participants, whether they agree with the blogger or not.

So please, share what you think!

Maryland's Money Smarts

Looks like Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich's fiscal policies have done wonders for Maryland.

NEW YORK, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Maryland should have an extra $1.7 billion to spend in its fiscal 2007 budget, the state comptroller said in a report on Tuesday, partly because revenues grew 13.2 percent last year.

When Governor Ehrlich took office in 2002, he was left with a going away present of a $2 billion deficit courtesy of his predecessor, Paris Glendening. Now, less than four years later, he's turned that into huge surplus.

Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., cheered the sunny fiscal projection, which came the day before Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Schaefer foe, is expected to formally announce his intention to run against Ehrlich. Fawell said the timing of Schaefer's announcement isn't important.

"What is important is that the governor's fiscal responsibility over the past few years is paying dividends," he said.

For the record, Martin O'Malley did announce his candidacy, an announcement to which the entire state of Maryland replied "Well, duh, we already knew that." In his speech he claimed:

While other states and nations are moving forward, with leaders who bring people together, I submit to you sadly that Maryland is adrift. I have reached the conclusion that we cannot allow our state to coast or slip backward, because a stronger Maryland can do better.

If I didn't detest him so much, I might almost feel bad for the guy. Here he's been unnofficially running for Governor since 2002, he has this whole big speech planned, and Ehrlich has to go mess it up with a pesky $1.7 billion surplus.

Breaking News! The NY Times admits they were wrong!

Or not.

Too good to be true, I guess.

In another example of "All the news that's fit to print (and then some)" the New York Times managed to insult the government relief effort and a Fox News reporter at the same time.

Some reporters helped stranded victims because no police officers or rescue workers were around. (Fox's Geraldo Rivera did his rivals one better: yesterday, he nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety.)

Geraldo Rivera, of course, objected to being portrayed as an opportunist. The Times reviewed the footage, but declined to offer a correction, stating:

The editors understood the "nudge" comment as the television critic's figurative reference to Mr. Rivera's flamboyant intervention. Mr. Rivera complained, but after reviewing a tape of his broadcast, The Times declined to publish a correction.

Numerous readers, however - now including Byron Calame, the newspaper's public editor, who also scrutinized the tape - read the comment as a factual assertion. The Times acknowledges that no nudge was visible on the broadcast.

I guess I really shouldn't be surprised. They have certainly pulled the "We can't prove it but it's true because we say so" trick before. After all, people keep buying into it, so there's no motive for them to stop.

Say what now?

I've read this article three times now, and I am still having trouble believing my eyes. Can a person truly be this delusional?

Al-Ani and the defense team are intent on calling Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush to testify. This is all part of their ultimate goal of using the trial to put a spotlight on the low points of America’s foreign policy over the past several decades. Saddam’s lawyers believe that if they can embarrass the Bush administration into cutting a deal with Saddam, Hussein could return to power. Seriously. This is the delusional part. According to al-Ani, odds are better than 50% that it could happen within a year. Yes, he truly believes that Saddam could be back running Iraq by this time next year.

Uh huh. An Iraqi jury is going to agree with every word of this defense and put the crazed maniac back in power.

Of course, maybe it's all a ploy. Perhaps the attorneys are really aiming for an insanity plea, and are hoping that a crazy defense strategy will help convince the jury that Hussein really is off his rocker.

Chief Justice John Roberts

It's official: John Roberts is the new Chief Justice of the United States' Supreme Court.

This in itself isn't exactly shocking: we all knew it was going to happen. The only question was by how much of a margin John Roberts would win. The final vote count was 78-22.

The final tally has its good and bad points. On the one hand, Roberts is entering the Supreme Court from a strong position. Any compaints about his leadership down the road can be answered with "Well, he was confirmed 78-22." On the other hand, this also puts the Democrats in a position of looking rational, which is surely a novel concept to them. When they fight Bush's nominee to replace O'Connor, and believe me they will, they can point to their Yea votes on Roberts and say "Well, we were willing to accept Roberts, but we really have to object to this nominee."

Now, I don't want to sound like a supporter of Affirmative Action or anything, but I really do hope Bush's next nominee is a very conservative female minority. It would be so much fun to watch the Dems squirm as they try to attack her without coming off as racist or sexist themselves.

Update #1:

So I went over to the Democratic Underground to see the reaction, but it was pretty boring. They seem pretty depressed, but not really that surprised. One of the more interesting comments was made by Northzax:

And so the court enters a cyclical period of decline in prominence. it will take some time, if ever, for Roberts to get his sea legs, to build coalitions among the justices, with another newbie coming on board, I don't look for much from the court for the next two terms. he's going to have his hands full, that's for sure.

Well, yeah. It takes any new leader time to gain control of the situation. But with roughly three decades to play with, my guess is that Roberts will rule the court with an iron hand when all is said and done. And if the Supreme Court loses power, I'm not going to shed any tears about it. They have too much as it is.

Daily Kos was even more tame. The only thing I learned from them is that Roberts' middle name is Glover. Now that I go back and check Fox, I see this has never been a secret, I just haven't noticed it. Glover... hehe. Weird name.

A New Experiment

Right... so I really have no idea what I'm doing, but I've always wanted to try my hand at blogging, so I might as well give it a go. If nothing else, it gives me a place to speak/type at length about politics without worrying about annoying people I know. So if you don't like it, feel free to click that little x at the top right hand corner of your screen.

Free license to talk! Gotta love that!

Anyway, so I'm RightWingConspirator. If the name itself isn't enough of a clue, I'm a conservative republican, and slightly obsessed with politics. I'm also a college student from Maryland, so I have a slightly different perspective than some other bloggers, as I'm currently experiencing firsthand the liberal bias on college campuses- and some of the crazy ways the College Republicans combat this bias.