Archive for October, 2006

Bad ideas.

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 19 2006

With Election Day closing in fast, I think it presents a good opportunity for everyone to exercise their political muscles. So, with an eye on today’s news, let’s take a look at a few really bad ideas that have made headlines:

Execute Saddam Hussein: It sure sounds nifty if you are the revenge-seeking type, but there are two problems with this idea. First, of course, is that the death penalty does not provide the closure people seek. That’s my typical anti-death penalty argument here in the states, but think of it this way: How could his death make up for or provide a sense of justice for the thousands killed and the millions oppressed by his rule? He might have been at the top of Iraq’s Ba’athist food chain, but Hussein had a large number of people do his bidding. If a person were to believe that executions provided justice, then a lot more people who did his bidding should find themselves in front of a noose. This begs the question, where does justice end and mass killings begin?

Second, and more importantly here, executing Hussein is probably the fastest way to make things even worse in Iraq than they are at the present time. Keep him locked up. Have him spout his whacked-out thoughts. Retain him as a shining example of a crazy old coot who fell from dictatorial power. Do anything, but don’t make him a martyr for pro-Saddam supporters to rally around.

Have South Korea put pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice thinks it’s a good idea, but I think it ranks as one of the worst ideas out there today. Someone should tell her that these two nations are, technically, still in a state of war. If something went wrong with this strategy to compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear program it could set back the tenuous relations between the two nations at best or result in a full-blown war that could end in the deaths of hundreds of thousands at worst.

I should note that South Korea’s people and government are not particularly thrilled with Rice’s suggestion and will continue with their policy toward reconciliation between the divided peninsula.

Give the president the power to arrest you, try you, and execute you for no particular reason: Naturally, the Bush administration will say that they are arresting, trying, and executing people from foreign lands who mean to do harm to the United States; they will also say that the public doesn’t need to know about it. Yeah, okay, whatever, but what would happen if a president “decided” that we needed to arrest, try and execute people from the “homeland” (what an awful term – sounds like the fascist ideas of the 1920s and 1930s have come back to life) who mean to do harm to the United States and that the public doesn’t need to know about it?

It’s not as far a leap as most people might think. Once we begin to rationalize the treatment of any person in a manner that violates the most basic principles of human rights for some people, we open the door to rationalizing it for other groups of people. Maybe this president or a future president might “decide” that it is not enough to arrest foreigners from nations that are predominantly Muslim and seek to expand his or her powers to Muslims in America? Maybe Muslims in America aren’t enough and that president expands it to people who disagree with his or her policy on this inhumane treatment of people by arguing that dissent gives aid and comfort to the terrorists? It sounds far-fetched at first blush, but it is possible to see such developments upon greater reflection. Human rights are meant for all, for the best and the worst among us. To deny the basic human rights to anyone weakens it for everyone.

Faster than a speeding bullet….

Local | Posted by admin
Oct 16 2006

….with just about as much usable information. That’s our AAA (Andy Aplikowski) manning the phone banks for Mark Kennedy. Despite having been on the job for the entire evening – a whopping 1.5 hours as of when he posted – he claims to have made “almost 1000 phone calls.” That works out to about 11 phone calls per minute! The only solace we can take home from this is that in the 5.4 seconds for each of these 1000 phone calls, he likely pursuaded no one of anything. Not even I can talk that fast.

Republicans: The End Is Nigh!

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 02 2006

(Okay. It’s not the end of the Republican party’s dominance at the federal level, but I think you can see it from here. Yep. There it is, just after November 7.)

Talk about “having issues.” The Republican party is trying to play down a whole lot of nasty ones. The chickens aren’t just coming home to roost. They’re borrowing a page or two from Alfred Hitchcock’s script for The Birds. Here’s some thoughts on a couple of the big ones they are facing this week.

Congressional Republican leaders are trying to dodge the fallout of the Foley sex scandal and reports of their lack of action. On C-SPAN, I could have sworn I just heard Speaker Hastert say, and I paraphrase here, that he and the leadership didn’t have any knowledge of this scandal until it broke last weekend and that is the truth because they said so. Ummm… No thanks, Denny. We’ll take a proper and full investigation of this matter over your Sergeant Schultz assertions that you didn’t know nothing.

I think it is safe to say that the Republicans are in danger of losing their status as the “party of family values” this election cycle. Not that I think that their policies have valued families that much, mind you. Add to that a little advice to pundits: Maybe you shouldn’t talk about how the Republicans are the “Daddy” party. It might come across as distasteful to more sensible and sensitive folks.

All humor aside for a moment, this matter is awful and serious on so many levels. Did Hastert and other Republicans really know about this back in 2005? Why didn’t they act back then? Is there going to be an impartial investigation, or, as we’ve seen in the White House, will the watchmen put themselves in charge of looking into this scandal? Already, I have heard the Right-Wing Noise Machine that is talk radio raise a ruckus about how Democrats are trying to capitalize on the scandal in the election. Y’know, if the tables were turned, I would rightfully expect Republicans to do that… oh, yeah, they did seek to capitalize on a sex scandal. It was called Monicagate.

Meanwhile…

Remember, Dubya. Denial isn’t just a state in Egypt.

President Bush Is having all sorts of trouble defending his administration’s actions and lack of actions regarding the total mess that is our war in Iraq and his incompetent defense secretary. That such a huge disaster could be allow to come into being in the first place, let alone persist for three long, arduous years, is not going to be quickly silenced by a White House press secretary with a list of talking points designed solely to cast aspersions and doubts on the president’s critics. If the war wasn’t started on a stack of lies, if there were not stacks of bodies discovered daily in Baghdad, and if the costs of the war wasn’t being measured in thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars wasted, maybe Tony Snow and the White House Press Office could talk this issue away. Too much has been done, however, and I believe the administration is just now discovering that it painted itself in a corner years ago.

Ask yourselves what changes can Bush and the Republican Congress make, having had complete control for five years. They can’t investigate themselves. Every time they have in the past (especially the White House), it seems that they clear themselves… funny how that happens. Congress is Bush’s poodle pen, where Republican members seem more interested in staying in the good graces of the White House than with their constituents or the Constitution. It is way past time to make some changes in Congress and vote for the accountability of our elected representatives and oversight of our government.

Update 1: Now ask yourselves how bad can it be for Bush when a former president who had a very bad four years of his own chimes in about how bad this president is.

Update 2: Yeah, the Republicans are in deep. I just checked my feeds for the right side of the blogosphere and they are, for the most part, pretty quiet about the Foley scandal. Also, GOPUSA (definitely not a Lefty-friendly site) has posted an UPI (also not friendly to the Left) report titled: Top Republicans knew of Foley e-mails.

Update 3: Newt Gingrich is currently on Sean Hannity trying to blame the Foley scandal on George Soros?

When the myth goes *pfft*.

Events | Posted by admin
Oct 02 2006

Early in 2001, as the Bush administration and a Republican ascendancy in Congress grabbed hold of the reigns of power, they were working hard to turn their proposals into policies. Right from the start, however, they ran into problems. Bush was promoted as the president with a mandate, but he received a popular vote of just less than half of the electorate and was bogged down by a sense that he had been “installed” as president by a divided Supreme Court. In the Congress, one lone Republican left the party in the Senate, throwing off one-party dominance of both houses of Congress and the White House for two more years.

The 2004 elections changed that. Bush won his majority, just barely, and his party gained full control of Congress. They went about as if they won the lottery, spending political capital with little regard of the cost. Only they hadn’t earned as much as they had thought and found themselves with little left for the day-to-day costs of doing business on Capitol Hill.

Over those years, Republicans from the president to the back bencher in the House used the attacks on September 11th and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as political backdrops to illustrate their steadfastness and toughness. They went about claiming they were making the world a better place by bashing people over their heads. Some of them might have been the terrorists they were aiming to eliminate, but many more were innocents caught up in the fog of war and either disappeared in death or emerged physically and mentally wounded. Republicans and their supporters took any critique thrown their way of methods used or actions taken on their watch as evidence of anti-Americanism at best or treason at worst.

There is so much more to recount, and what has been so far in this post doesn’t even begin to do justice to the injustices wrought by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress. Let’s cut to the chase: The Republicans are reaping what they have sown over the years and I believe they are facing a comeuppance that may be as surprising as it is unprecedented.

Look at the signs. Take popular culture, where Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, The Dixie Chicks, and many other musicians and bands have made numerous songs openly criticizing the president. Or look at poll numbers, where Bush is personally wallowing way below the 50% mark, more likely to drink his beer alone than with a typical voter. Congress’ pollings return even worse results and seem to coincide with their very boisterous grandstanding on issues designed to appeal to their shrinking base. Most importantly, check out the important things, from such general things as the state of our world to our personal lives when we look into our pocketbooks or check out a book from the library. It seems the Republicans have left an ugly, indelible mark on our lives and our world.

If this year can be noted for anything, it should be the year that the Republican’s myth about themselves finally imploded. They have lost their claim to being the party of small government, of individual liberties, of families, of security, and of common sense. If anything, they have done the exact opposite in all cases. Along with the generic screw-ups, though, have come the scandals: war profiteering, sex, bribery and corruption scandals are popping up in the headlines and the party and its supporters are working overtime to contain them or spin away the ones that have gotten loose.

All this begs the question as to how their myth of themselves burst as it met reality? The answer to that should be left to every Republican politician running for re-election this November. It had better be a good one, though, because the voters don’t appear to be up for the normal election-year gamesmanship.