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make your case against delay here.

i set out this morning to do a post in defense of tom delay when it suddenly dawned on me that i'm not exactly sure what i could even defend him from. so, concerned liberals of the web, here's your chance set me straight.

what, exactly, has tom delay done?

i'm not looking for railing accusations and ten page screeds, i'm looking for facts, because, on the basis of what little fact i've seen, i'm having a hard time figuring out what law delay broke.

i know what he's accused of. he's accused of violating texas campaign contribution law--law modeled on the mccain-feingold federal version--by conspiring with another party to solicit corporate donations for TRMPAC, a political action committee he founded. but beyond that it starts to get a little murky.

TRMPAC sent $190,000 to the republican national committee, $155,000 of which was donated by corporate sources, on the 13th of september, 2002--less than sixty days from the november elections. presumably, this is what delay is being indicted for.

i say "presumably" because none of what i just explained is actually illegal. according to the sections of texas election code delay supposedly violated (253.104 (a), (b)):

A corporation or labor organization may make a contribution from its own property to a political party [but] may not knowingly make a contribution...during a period beginning on the 60th day before the date of a general election for state and county officers and continuing through the day of the election.

except that no such donations actually occurred. TRMPAC is not "a political party" any more than is, so corporations broke no law in giving them money (there is also some dispute as to when those corporations actually made their donations to TRMPAC, with some observers claiming that these did not occur withing the 60 day limit.) corporations made perfectly legal donations to TRMPAC, and TRMPAC then made a donation to the RNC--but TRMPAC itself isn't a "corporation or labor union," so what's the problem?

now you could say that this is all a bit unseemly, a bit sleazy, a bit dirty. hey, i'll be the first to agree, but what you can't say is that it's illegal--or, if you can, then you need to show me how.

according to delay, who appeared with brit hume last night on FNC, both parties do it. that's not a defense, but it's not much of a surprise, either. essentially what TRMPAC did (and delay denies having any knowledge of or hand in their day-to-day operations, including the 2002 check, of course) was to launder corporate money into the hands of state candidates.

well, that's not illegal. and if you liberals don't like it, you have only yourselves to blame. welcome to the nasty world of campaign finance, post-mccain. we told you this would happen.

and even if you could somehow prove to me that what TRMPAC did was illegal, you'd then have to prove that not only did delay know if it, but that he actively conspired to "knowingly [make] a political contribution in violation of...Texas Election Code," as the indictment charges. in other words, it's not enough to merely show that delay was aware of what was happening, and it's not enough to show that delay told TRMPAC to make it happen. you have to show that delay knowingly violated the law, i.e., you have to prove his intent.

good luck with that.

this is a weak indictment brought on by a prosecutor with howlingly transparent political motives--a topic for another post--founded in the most liberal county in texas. maybe that doesn't make delay innocent, but the burden of proof is on you guys, and so far, i'm not seeing much in the way of proof.

locdog invites you to lay your cards on the table



gee, sorry about the last 30 years

nasa now says the shuttle/space station programs were mistakes.

but not to worry. we're "back on track" now because, hopefully by 2018, we'll be landing astronauts on the moon in "a spacecraft that would look like the apollo capsule."


where to begin?

1. after half a century of manned space flight we're still 13 years away from duplicating something we accomplished in 7 years--from scratch--forty years ago? conclusion: bureaucracies. gotta love em.

2. why is "back on track" = "doing the same stuff we did back when the beatles were together"? are they hoping that we won't notice this has all been done before? or maybe they figure that if the new lunar landers look enough like the old chewing-gum-and-duct-tape apollo birds, we'll be swept along in a wave of nostalgia? maybe they'll just send someone to the moon every 76 years or so, sort of like haley's comet. there's a re-run we never get tired of.

3. what is the point of NASA? i have always been a supporter of the space program, and the basis of that support has been my belief in the virtues of exploration. humanity needs windmills to chase. i don't care about tang or velcro, i care about mars, and some day perhaps even manned exploration beyond our solar system. why? because it's there. and there's a lot of it there that we haven't seen yet. even if you want to justify another moon landing as being a stepping stone to further exploration, there's no way it should take us 13 years to get back there. not with today's technology and our prior experience in space flight.

saying it will take 13 years to get back to the moon is the same thing as saying we'll never set foot on another celestial body again.

mark locdog's words