Friday, March 31, 2006

New Blog Links

I've subdivided the blog links! Somewhere a land developer's ears just perked up at the thought of razing the landscape and throwing up McMansions!

Newly added to the Political subdivision:

Austin Centrist
Bull Moose
Georgia Unfiltered

Also in the new Blogs on Film section, two excellent entertainment industry blogs I recently discovered:

The House Next Door
Eddie On Film

Whew! I was always told that the blogosphere was overwhelming but never really realized it until I started forming my own blogroll.

Seriously, these are some fine blogs and along with the ones already on my blogroll have comprehensive blogrolls of there own. Ones that far outweigh my own at the moment. Give them a visit, follow their links and see what interesting places you land.

Polygamy Is Not Gay Marriage

I'll be honest. I've never really understood the problem with polygamy. The usual arguments against are couched in terms of inevitible coercion and abuse of young women. My opinion has always been that laws already exist to address those issues. Why not punish actual crime instead of crime that is only in theory?

I will admit that Jonathan Rauch is changing my mind.

I strongly encourage you to read his fascinating article One Man, Many Wives, Big Problems.

I never would have thought of the surplus males problem. It's a good example of why political absolutes, in this case libertarian and social liberal, must be measured against reality.

(Found via The Daily Dish)

Cynthia McKinney. My Representative

I live in a great city. I live in a great county. Unfortunately, karma always demands the piper be paid. I also live with Cynthia McKinney as my representative in the U.S. House.

You have to hand it to her. After being sent to the political wilderness in 2002, she won back her seat in 2004. Then the inconceivable! She ably represented her district for almost two years without pulling some absurd stunt. For those of us who have lived in these parts for a while, this turn to relative wallflower was curious to say the least.

Guess it was only a matter of time.

The honorable Mckinney is about to be arrested for assaulting a member of the Capitol police.

I resisted posting about this subject because frankly it's rather embarrassing and indications were that it was an overblown misunderstanding. As with previous incidents of my representative's antics, I hoped this one would just blow over without much attention drawn.

In her district, potential opponents are acting like the gates of heaven just opened and showered them with political quail and manna. The word "embarrassment" has already been used and will now doubt be flogged from here to November.

Here's the bottom line. You may agree or disagree with McKinney's politics, but her penchant for involving herself in these miniature theaters of the absurd do nothing but marginalize any legitimacy she and by proxy her constituents has.

The Final Word On The Ten Commandments

During the recent session of the Georgia general assembly, Republican state representative Fran Millar had what I believe should be the last word on the Ten Commandments display debate.

"If we live by them, it shouldn't matter where we hang them."

That's a man I would vote for every day of the week and twice if visiting Chicago.

Entire Creative Loafing 2006 Golden Sleaze Awards. Rep. Millar is under the Arnie Awards.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Color Code Color Blind

Whatever happened to the color coded terror alerts?

Two years ago, we all watched morbidly as it bounced back and forth between yellow and orange, but sadly never mauve.

Were they the play toy of now gone Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge?

Or were they as some whispered a tool used to ratchet up insecurity when presidential approval ratings dipped?

Probably the only people that have forlornly noticed their absence are the makers of plastic wrap and duct tape.

But their sudden disappearance is curious, no?

Enjoy The Good Things

A moment of zen.

I'm still keeping track of things in the world. In this age of wireless devices cutting the umbillical is becoming more and more difficult. Even without access to the internet through normal means, I can still read the news on this little handheld device. The temptation to check on things is just too great.

Last night though I cut everything off and took the time to walk outside my little cabin in the woods of south Georgia. The stars were no longer masked by the haze of the big city. The only sounds were crickets and frogs.

Looking up at the stars feeling the cool spring air thoughts of the long con of politics and modern society faded away. I knew that in other parts of the world there were people staring up at the same night sky I was enjoying. But for a few moments everything seemed very far away. It was a comfort.

Awareness of your world is essential, but don't let it overwhelm the simple goodness of staring into a spring night.

Jill Carroll Released

After all my talk of death squads this week, it's nice to report some good news from Iraq.

Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll has been released unharmed.

I'm having a hard time doing html on this little device, so head over to for the story.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wandering Griftdrift

I'm headed to the wilds of South Georgia for the next 24 hours. Internet coverage will be spotty at best. I am going to attempt a few posts from my Blackberry. In any case, I will definitely be back with more ramblings on Friday.

An Iraqi View Of The Death Squads

I first commented on the apparent appearance of death squads in Iraq here.

A post by river at River Bend Blog seems to confirm that Iraqi's not only believe there is little certainty in the ability of their government to keep from splintering but that in fact the Iraqi security forces may already be choosing sides.

"It confirmed what has been obvious to Iraqis since the beginning- the Iraqi security forces are actually militias allied to religious and political

This followed a televised warning to not comply with orders of any security forces unless they are accompanied by coalition forces.

As river noted, how do you not comply when armed gangs simply burst in your door?

I first saw this at The Daily Dish. John Deere cap tip to Andrew Sullivan.

More On Immigration

Michael Stickings at The Reaction has published an excellent piece on immigration. The search for common ground makes sense for us all. Unlike gay marriage, last election's false crisis, practically everyone agrees illegal immigration must be addressed. Articles like this give me hope that we can find common ground and common good.

"Let America's policy towards these immigrants be generous, fair, and
flexible. Do not punish them for having chosen to come to America. Offer
them an
opportunity to settle, legally, for good. If they work, if they pay
their taxes,
if they accept the American way of life and want to be a part
of it, indeed, if
they are already American, broadly speaking, be generous
to them."

This is a must read if you believe in conversation instead of polarization.

Full Article Here

Getting A Little Big For Their Britches

Georgia's legistlature has hammered at a final version of its Senate Bill 529 . It will now most assuredly be signed into law by Governor Perdue. By 2007 Georgia will have one of the toughest immigration statutes on the books.

Fortunately for all Georgians, one potentially embarrassing provision was removed from the final bill.

Excised was a provision that would have required anyone wiring money to another country pay a 5% fee. Sounds like a good idea on the surface. The primary method for all immigrants to funnel money back to their families is to use wire transfers. It's become so profitable you can now perform the task in some convenience stores.

There's only one problem.

The Congress shall have power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and
among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.

That's Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, better known as the Commerce Clause.


Good thing there's at least one member of the Georgia General Assembly with enough law learnin' to actually understand our form of government.

It's Just Like [insert dictator here]!

One of the most frustrating aspects of the warm up to and the ongoing discussion of the Iraq War is the frequent comparisons to World War II, Hitler, Chamberlain, etc.

In an effort to grab the moral high road, war supporters state that taking no action against Saddam Hussein would have been akin to not tackling Hitler in the 40s.

First of all, we didn't exactly rush to stop Hitler. The rest of Europe had been fighting the forces of the Reich for over two years when we finally stepped up to the plate. I do not want to debate the wisdom of the neutrality and isolation positions of that time, but let's not pretend that we saw a bad man and immediately charged on our white horse.

More importantly, by the time the U.S. became involved in World War II, Hitler's forces had overrun 90% of Europe changing the face of the geo-political map for years to come. In any other modern war this would have been tantamount total victory. In fact, many in France considered the war over and began moving towards life under German rule. Only a stalwart England cleverly supported by the not-so-isolationist after all U.S. prevented Hitler from declaring game over and thumbing his insane little nose at the rest of the world.

Most importantly, Hitler had at his disposal a two million man army equiped with the most modern weapons of the time. This little planet had never seen such power moving across the land. The Wehrmacht swept up entire countries in matters of months if not weeks.

Armed with this incredible power, Hitler directly and indirectly caused the deaths of 20 million people.

No matter how despicable you may find Saddam Hussein, any Hitler comparison is specious at best and insulting at worse.

Comparing modern to historical events can be valuable. The analogies frame complex events in a perspective that most can understand. However, we must have a care with our comparisions. When intransigent ideology causes legitimate comparisons to become gross distortions the first sacrifice will be the truth.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation calls for a cease-fire on overblown historical rhetoric.

"I'm all for learning from history, but I'm also for describing present
differences in contemporary terms. "

I will just add a hearty, Amen.

Name Your Ten Worst Oscar Winners

Eddieonfilm is running an email poll to determine the worst Best Picture winners of all time. Instructions and the list of all the Best Picture winners can be found here.

griftdrift's submitted worst top ten:

10. Oliver! (Okay, I just hate musicals in general)
9. Million Dollar Baby (Just for the gross scene with the welfare mom)
8. The Sound Of Music (Musical again)
7. Out of Africa ( I can't believe I liked this when I was younger)
6. Rain Man (Oooo I'm going to get some bad email over that one )
5. Chariots of Fire (Dudes running in the surf. yikes)
4. Forrest Gump (Great soundtracks but millions of yuppies got some more unneeded self-importance)
3. Midnight Cowboy (very overrated)
2. The Greatest Show On Earth (Ye gods, a circus film)
1. Ordinary People (Beating Raging Bull is the biggest injustice in Oscar history)

Tip on the hat to Michael Sticking at The Reaction for spotting this.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bizarre Britney Statue

This has left me nearly speechless.

Is it really pro-life? Is it really art?

I'm not even sure how to describe it. Britney is in what some would describe politely as a very natural position for certain activities but a most certain unnatural position for giving birth.

Whatever your opinion, it's guaranteed to cause a reaction. Which is of course exactly what the artist intended.

Edited to add non-registration required link with a different view: Britney Birthing Statue

More on Andrew Card

So the whole Andrew Card thing? Are we making too much of it or is this the brave new world where every small story "matters"? I don't know but the more I think about it the more it's starting to look like D.C. navel gazing. I may actually agree with Michelle Malkin! Only two days in the blog world and I have already crossed that Rubicon!

For a complete wrap-up, the always excellent Joe Gandleman at The Moderate Voice ties everything together with links to many other voices. Make sure you check it out.

End Of The Day Funny

Enough seriousness for one day. Here's some video from a Mobile, Al newscast discussing the apparent discovery of a leprechaun.

Leprechaun Sighted

I honestly don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I leave you to determine your personal emotion quotient.

Thanks to the kids at Reality Sucks for digging this one up.

griftdrift disclaimer: Reality Sucks can get a little saucy at times. Careful with cruising there if the kids or the boss is present. You've been warned!

Bibles and the Classroom

Got an interesting email from a long time friend. A friend who I will simply refer to as Snacker to protect the not-so-innocent.

He was wondering about my take on a piece of legislation here in Georgia that would allow the Bible to be taught as literature in public classrooms. For more details on the actual bill you can check out today's AJC article.

Snacker wrote:

"They are using the standard excuse --"We do have the opportunity to learn about it in church, but it is a work of literature." "We shouldn't exclude it [from school] just because it's religious." Thinly veiled BS."

Well, it depends. There is the pandering and there is the practical. Let's take them in that order.

Of course it's pandering. Just like a Republican bill in 2004 that guaranteed hunting would be legal forever. Now there's not a hoot in hell chance that hunting is ever going to be outlawed in the state of Georgia. But by placing that resolution on the ballot it was virtually guaranteed that every red blooded hunter from Ellijay to Echols County would visit the polling place to preserve their "rights". Oh and they would probably vote for Republican candidates while they were there. Very clever.

This year the Democrats are looking for a little payback. Yes, Virginia, the effort to push bibles back into the classroom is being spearheaded by Democrats. It's a pretty obvious ploy to cut Republicans off at the religious pass. How can anyone be accused of being a dirty liberal if they can shoot back that they helped get bibles back in the schools? Also very clever.

Now on to the practical part. One of my philosophies is the only thing worse than a bad government program is a bad government program that is only done half right. That's exactly what this one is.

The bill basically says that local school systems can opt to teach as electives History of the Old Testament and History of the New Testament. The only textbook is the Good Book. The only guidelines are that the courses should be "objective" and shouldn't "indoctrinate".

We can only hope that the state school board steps in and provides a list of supplemental texts and guidelines for lesson plans. Otherwise confusion will reign and lawsuits will be inevitable.

Now as far as it being thinly veiled BS along the lines of the intelligent designs wedge strategies to get creationism back in the classroom? Maybe.

Teaching the bible in the classroom can be done right and it can have value. Even the most hardcore atheist can't deny the influence the book has had on western civilization. I have seen two different teaching supplements to assist instructors with bible classes. One was straight down the middle. One was practically straight out of Sunday school. Let's hope local educators are wise enough to pick the right one.

But really all of this misses the correct question. Should we be teaching such specialized courses in high school at all? Shouldn't something that would require this depth wait until college? What happened to all the people carping about getting back to the basics of reading, 'rightin and 'rithmetic?

Our schools have plenty of difficulty just trying to keep kids in class and teaching them the basic tools of survival. Why don't we give teachers a break and quit giving them tasks that Solomon would have difficulty sorting through?

McCain May Have Just Lost My Vote

I like John McCain and with each passing Presidential election cycle I like our primary system less and less.

Senator McCain is giving the commencement speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Crooks and Liars has the link to the press release.

I really despair that a prinicipled, stand-up candidate will never make it through the party primaries without throwing sops to the fringe wings. The fact is to achieve certain levels of power you have to roll in some dirt.

What will it take to break this cycle of having to kiss the feet of the loonies on either side? If a man like John McCain can't do it, I despair that we will ever find someone who will.

Cap Weinberger Passes

Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger has passed.

I really try to not speak ill of the dead but my first thought was not of his long government service but that he was the highest profile person to be pardoned by Bush I for Iran-Contra. A pardon without the person even being indicted or convicted which usually means, well, you know.

Sure enough, the AP obituary states in its opening paragraph that he was a "central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal".

Old Cap doesn't care any more but it sure would make me wonder about going into politics if I knew the minute I left this Earth the first thing people would talk about was my greatest faults. Comes with the territory I suppose.

Abductions The New Game In Iraq

Early in the Iraq War high profile abductions seemed common. However thinking back they were few and far between. That did not keep the American public from being riveted to video of contractors, soldiers and aid workers begging for lives. Usually surrounded by very scary looking people in ski masks. It was a compelling story because it had a face.

Now abductions have taken a far more frightening turn. CNN is reporting there have been 35 abductions in the past two days. So far these kidnappings have not been followed by video demands. The people simply disappear. In bunches. One of the kidnap gangs took 10 people at once from an electronic store.

These may not get as much play as the earlier kidnappings because there is no tragic face. So far there are only bodies that are found on roadsides days later.

Reports say the kidnappers travel in packs, dressed like Iraq police commandos. They make no demands, only snatch and kill.

It appears that instead of hostage takers, we are dealing with death squads. It does not make the loss of earlier hostages any less tragic but it does make the situation more frightening by a magnitude.

The Blog Links

I will be adding some more links today in the Blogs section. The ones I add are the ones I enjoy reading. If you have some you would like me to add just throw a comment on this post.

I debated whether to divide them into conservative, moderate and liberal sections ala The Moderate Voice. Instead I have decided to just mash them all up together and let you decide for yourself what you think. Hopefully, no pigeon holing is going to be the mantra around here.

Dealt A Tough Hand

Andrew Card's resignation this morning really comes as no surprise. His tenure as White House Chief of Staff is the longest since Ike sat in the big white mansion. Next to President, the WH Chief of Staff may be the most difficult job on the planet. Under Bush, it may have actually been tops.

Recently reports have emerged than many of the blunders of the past six months (Katrina, ports deal, bungling on the Cheney hunting accident) were the result of an exhausted West Wing staff. Not good news for even the most partisan President supporter. I'm tired is an excuse that only works for 3 year olds and even then not always.

Without a doubt working for POTUS would tend to crush even the most A of A-types. Card reportedly arrived at 5:00am and didn't leave until well into the night. Many have said that Bush runs a CEO style White House. If this is true that would make Card the COO. He was the person who had to make sure the clocks were set right and the lights didn't get shut off because no one paid the electricity bill. Don't laugh. After recent events I don't think anyone would have been shocked if suddenly people's mansion went dark.

Imagine wading through the minutiae of every minute of activity in the nerve center of the free world. Combine that with a President who apparently pushed down all but the most important decisions and I begin to imagine that an 18th century sweat shop would have seemed more appealing. Ye gods, how did the man make it this long?

So farewell, Andy. Go get a nice cushy corporate job where you will be paid ten times as much to work ten times less.

Now about Cheney...

The Shakeup Begins?

President Bush is announcing that Chief of Staff Andrew Card is resigning. Who will be next? Rove? Cheney?

More later.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Stop. Just Please Stop.

Monsters & Critics is reporting that Ocean's 13, a sequel to the dismal Ocean's 12, has been greenlighted.

Ocean's 11 was a brilliantly fresh remake of the cheesy classic. Saturated with a funky soundtrack, the deft direction of Soderbergh combined with the throwback cool of Clooney, Damon and Pitt gave us a couple of hours of unadulterated fun.

For the bare few moments I digested the putrid follow-up Oceans 12, I alternately wept and vomited.

Stephen, George etal., it will be difficult in the future to take you seriously after such a brazen money grab.

Then again, the brilliant Michael Caine when asked about making Jaws 4 quipped, "I've grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle."

Immigration Protests Continue

Protests that began over the weekend are continuing into the work week or in this case the school week. The L.A. Times is reporting approximately 14,000 high school students have walked out of class in protest of what they perceive as the anti-immigrant storm brewing in Washington.

The immigration issue is a thorny one that I don't feel ready to tackle just yet. Apparently I am not alone. Many want to paint this in the stark black and white of it's illegal so there is no middle ground. In most election years this would be a no-brainer for the law and order set. But as I think we will continue to see, this ain't no ordinary election year.

In my home state of Georgia, the more conservative of our two Republican Senators, Saxby Chambliss appears to be dancing through a mindfield. Although Chambliss represents the entire state, he is from south Georgia and it is no secret that he leans towards his agricultural constituents. He is certainly towing the party line of the borders must be secure but he is also warning fellow GOPers that draconian measures could leave "produce...rotting in the fields".

The MTV crowd paying attention to current events for more than 10 minutes? Republican politicians arguing for amnesty for law breakers?

This story promises to get more and more interesting. Stay tuned.


It's day one at Drifting Through The Grift. I will probably spend most of the day setting up all the bells and whistles around the place but I thought a little introduction is in order.

You may call me griftdrift.

Little g. Little d. But I'm really not that picky. Over the years I have been called griftd, grifted, grifter, gritty, gitty and dumbass. The last one I believe would be the most frequent.

The plan is to make Drifting Through The Grift a political blog. Yeah, I know, there are only about 2 billion political blogs in existence. So why do we need one more?

We don't.

Here is where I should put something pithy about how being a country born, city living, moderate libertarian who is pro-choice, loves NASCAR, hates the death penalty, loves gun and can probably drink you under the table makes for more interesting reading and for this if for no other reason you should read me every day.

Given that you can find blogs by conservoliberal transgender polygamist who demand freedom to frog gig, I ain't gonna blow too much smoke about me being different.

But if you find the rambling thoughts of an old wandering pool hustler who knows a thing or two about politicking, I hope you'll stick around and see what trouble we can get into.