Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fox News: DeLay's Bully Pulpit?

Do you remember the scene near the end of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" when King Arthur and his knights are trying to cross the bridge of Death? Each knight must answer three questions from a bridge-keeper in order to cross. If they answer even one question incorrectly, they will be hurled from the bridge to their death. According to legend, few are able to answer the questions correctly. They tremble in fear. Finally, King Arthur approaches the bridge-keeper and prepares to answer the questions. To his delight, the questions are quite simple: 1) what is your name? 2) what is your quest? 3) what is your favorite color? Arthur answer all three with ease is told, "OK, off you go" and he crosses the bridge.

I was reminded of this scene earlier this evening as I watched Tom DeLay's appearance on Hannity & Colmes. DeLay was playing the part of King Arthur and Sean Hannity was the bridge-keeper.

Look, I don't have a problem with a show like H&C where Hannity obviously overshadows Colmes. But how "fair and balanced" is it to give DeLay 20 minutes of airtime with no one but kissass Hannity lobbing the questions? I'm all for letting the Hammer have some time to get his side of the story out to the public, but this was a bit much. Let's see if Fox gives Ronnie Earle 20 minutes with Colmes without a rebuttal from Hannity. Not likely.

Care to watch the interview?[Fox News]
Read the indictment and DeLay's remarks.[WSJ]
Now what for the Republican leadership?[WaPo]
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.[read the script]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Katrina, Steak, and the War on Terror

So POTUS has a new strategy: use the overwhelming generosity and goodwill that Katrina prompted as a way of building support for the war on terror. It's genius.

POTUS: "I've been thinking a lot about how America has responded [to Katrina], and that stands in stark contrast, by the way, to the terrorists we have to deal with. You see, we look at the destruction caused by Katrina, and our hearts break. They [on the other hand] are the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it."

I know exactly how Bush feels. For example, I like to use the bad service I sometimes get at restaurants as a way to drumb up support for the war. Here's my basic premise: If I can't get a medium-well rib-eye with garlic potatoes, carrots, and asparagus tips in about 15 minutes, well, then the terrorists have already won.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

It's a Good Day In Washington

It hasn't felt like this in Washington in a long, long time. It's been nearly a decade since the city has had a chance to feel this good. No, there were no peace accords signed. No terrorist attacks averted. No landmark, bipartisan agreement between Democrats and Republicans.

What happened? The Redskins beat the Cowboys, and in dramatic fashion. If you don't live in Washington or root for the Redskins, last night's game may not seem very significant. And, truth be told, once the season ends it may turn out that the game was insignificant. But for one night Washingtonians was able to celebrate in grand fashion as their beloved Redskins pulled out a miracle against the hated Cowboys in game that actually mattered. For 55 minutes the Redskins looked downright awful, but they refused to give up and completed two long touchdown passes in the final 4 minutes to secure an improbable 14-13 win in Dallas.

Perhaps no one will enjoy today more than Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. He needed this win. This was his 18th game since return to coaching after 11 years away from the game. The first 17 didn't go so well. With this win Gibbs has not only reestablished the confidence of Washington fans in his ability to coach, he may have even reestablished some confidence in himself. That, more than anything else, may be exactly what he needed. The win didn't prove that Joe Gibbs has a great game plan, or that his offensive scheme is unbeatable. Far from it. But it did show that a team coached by Joe Gibbs will not give up on him and they will fight until the very end.

Yes, today is a good day in DC. There haven't been many following Cowboy week in recent years -- thanks in part to the fact that Dallas had won 13 of the last 14 meetings with Washington. But two receptions by Santana Moss erased 10 years of misery -- at least for one day. The season is young and the Redskins are only 2-0 -- but 2-0 is as good as you can be after 2 games so no one in this town is complaining.

Redskins Stun Cowboys [WP]
Boswell in the Washington Post
Wilbon in the Washington Post
Randy Galloway in the Fort-Worth Star Telegram

Monday, September 19, 2005

Not Betting on a Fair Trial

If this case doesn't scream "profiling," no case does.

A university student from Egypt was ordered held without bond after prosecutors said they found a pilot's uniform, chart of Memphis International Airport and a DVD titled "How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act" in his apartment. The FBI is investigating whether Mahmoud Maawad, 29, had any connection to terrorists. He is awaiting trial on charges of wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number. Maawad, who is in the United States illegally, told the judge during a hearing Thursday that he is studying science and economics at the University of Memphis.
Just Inside the Beltway in no way wants to assume Mr. Maawad is guilty before he is given a trial, but we're not betting on the fact that this trial is going to be very fair. In fact, we're predicting it will go something like this:

PROSECUTOR: For the record, please state your name and country of origin.
DEFENDANT: My name is Mahmoud Maawad, and I am from Egypt.
PROSECUTOR: The Prosecution rests, your honor.
JUDGE: Guilty. Next case.
Full story from the Washington Post.[Read Story]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Budget: A Well Oiled Machine?

Have you heard the news? Our very own U.S. Congress has done such a good job in cutting spending that Tom DeLay (R-TX) has declared "victory", saying there is simply no more fat to cut from the federal budget. This is great news. Of course, it's even better news if you live in DeLay's district because more money is going to his district than any other in the country in this year's transportation bill, including $6 million for the "Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University to work in conjunction with local and private sector organizations on issues affecting regional mobility." Ah yes, after the Iraq War, the war on terror, and Katrina relief, I put 'regional mobility' at the top of the list. [Visit DeLay's website for more.]

Just Inside the Beltway doesn't begrudge any Congressman for getting what he or she can for their district, but it seems like a bit of a stretch to argue that the pork is out of the budget. "This is hardly a well-oiled machine," said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican. "There's a lot of fat to trim. ... I wonder if we've been serving in the same Congress."

American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene isn't sure what color the sky is in DeLay's world, saying federal spending has been "spiraling out of control" in recent years and that conservaties are "increasingly losing faith in the president and the Republican leadership in Congress."

Could it be that the ol' Hammer just doesn't always seem to get it? Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

10 Stupidest Things Said About Hurricane Katrina

So many to to choose from -- here are the stupidest, with thanks to for the reference.
1) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina (Source)
2) "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the Hurricane flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, Sept. 5, 2005 (
3) "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) —President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005 (
4) "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005 (
5) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005 (
6) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" –House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston (
7) "Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.' Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, blaming
media coverage for his failings, "Meet the Press," Sept. 4, 2005 (Source)
8) "What didn't go right?'" –President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort (
9) "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving." –Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005 (
10) "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." –CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005 (

...and for good measure:

11) "If one person criticizes [the local authorities’ relief efforts] or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me. One more word about it after this show airs, and I…I might likely have to punch him, literally." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), "This Week with George Stephanopoulous," Sept. 4, 2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

What Can't Brown Do For You

Is POTUS completely out of the loop or is it possible that Michael Brown is now so insignificant that Bush doesn't need to know whether or not he has resigned? All we know is that Brown has indeed resigned -- and it looks as if Bush found out from the press! Wow. That's not going to help with the whole "we're on top of the Katrina relief effort" thing. Take a look at this exchange from earlier today:

Q Can you tell us, have you accepted the resignation of Michael Brown, or have you heard about it?

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't -- no, I have not talked to Michael Brown -- or Mike Chertoff; that's who I'd talk to. As you know, I've been working. And when I get on Air Force One, I will call back to Washington. But I've been on the move.

Q Our understanding is he has resigned, he's made a statement. Would that be appropriate -- THE

PRESIDENT: I haven't talked to Mike Chertoff yet, and that's what I intend to do when I get on the plane. You know, I -- you probably -- maybe you know something I don't know, but as you know, we've been working, and I haven't had a chance to get on the phone.

I think we can all agree that Brown didn't exactly distinguish himself in the Katrina aftermath, but you can't help being just a bit sorry for a guy whose own bosses don't seem to care if he resigns.

Oh, and Mr.'re now on the clock. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What a Week

Just Inside the Beltway has been on recess for much of the past 4 weeks. Now we return to a country that is doing what it can to help those affected by huricane Katrina. The coverage of the storm and its aftermath has been fascinating to watch. In Monday's Washington Post, media critic Howard Kurtz had a very interesting column that is worth the read. [WP Story].

Nothing written here will be new or groundbreaking as it relates to Katrina. But now that we are one week removed from Katrina's landfall, there are several questions that must be addressed. Most of them begin with the word 'why'.
  • WHY are political leaders (local, state, and federal) insisting that the flooding in New Orleans was not anticipated. The city is below sea-level for goodness sake. And let's not forget the 5-part series in the Times-Picayune in 2001 entitled "The Big One". (Just for fun, here's the opening line of that series: 'A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It's just a matter of time.')
  • WHY did it take four days to get water to the thousands who needed it? Don't tell me that our government can't navigate through 5-10 feet of water. There is no excuse for the fact that basic necessities took so long to reach the people of New Orleans.
  • WHY were there no provisions for food, water, and security in the Superdome?
  • WHY is the country is still afraid to address that fact that a vast majority of those stranded in New Orleans were black?
  • WHY did Kanye West have to do that? Hey Kanye, there's a time and a place and last Friday night's benefit concert was neither.
  • WHY were dozens and dozens of New Orleans city and school busses left in a parking lot when they could have been used to evacute people out of the city?
  • WHY did Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff tell "Meet the Press's" Tim Russert that one reason for the delay in getting federal aid to Katrina victims was that "everyone" thought the crisis had passed when the storm left: "I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.'" Mr. Chertoff, ignorance is not an excuse. Besides, we've looked around and there were no newspapers saying anything close to that. Wonkette has some sample front pages from last Tuesday. Take a look at a few Just Inside the Beltway found. Notice the one with the huge headline that reads, "Catastrophic".
  • WHY is it that the people of the United States never disappoint when it comes to helping out a neighbor? Perhaps it's our spirit. We may be divided into red and blue states; liberal and conservative; religious and secular; white, black, hispanic, etc. But time and time again, people break down all the artificial barriers that separate us and simply treat each other as a neighbor. It's the Golden Rule and it's nice to know we can count on it when we need it.