Archive for October 2008

Neoconservatives and Right Wingers Win!

October 31, 2008

The most probable outcome is that Barack Obama will win the general election on Tuesday and, secretly all the neoconservatives and right wing nut cases will celebrate behind closed doors.  An Obama victory, which is what the Country badly needs, will usher in 4 years where these “chicken hawk” warriors can solicite funds and rant against Obama and his Administration, with no way to prove they are right or wrong. 

As things stand today, the failed George W Bush Administration provides ample evidence that the recommendations of these groups were a disaster.  As a result, there is nothing for these organizations to say in order to raise funds.  The evidence of failure and incompetence is too apparent to fool even some of the most obtuse “righties”.  With Obama as President, however, this right wing symphony can strike up the band and tell everyone how green the grass could be and that you had better lock your doors because your neighbor might support gay rights or might even be an anti-Christian. 

At a time when this type of thinking should be fully discredited and a productive and pragmatic opposition Party should stand up from the Republican ashes to challenge the Democrats and Obama, we are destined instead for a repeat of these sick divisive tirades.  So on Tuesday there will be something for than Democrats and Independents to cheer about.  2012 will be only 4 years away.

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State Religion?

October 30, 2008

In almost any discussion with someone who holds there is a god or that there religious tradition is the most correct or at least correct, the discussion will invariably end with “I just believe it, it is a matter of faith”.  At that point the discussion is over since by definition, the person’s views could be logical from that simple assumption.

In yesterday’s New York Times, there was a short report of a Somalian woman who was raped and then sentence by Islamic authorities to death by stoning for adultary.  The 23 year old woman was burried up to her neck and then stoned to death in a soccer field.  Anyone for seconding “God is great”?

Maybe you have to have been there to really understand the social situation and then, the righteousness of this decision might become clearer.  I think to most of us this type of social behavior is abhorrent and totally out of bounds with civilized living.  But why?  Allah was speaking through his earthly servants and ruled this to be the punishment, and it should trump any secular law.

As inappropriate as this situation seems, and as prudent as adopting a complete separation of religion and state would seem proper in Somalia, faith (read unsupported by fact) based actions are not limited to the Islamic part of the world.  Another much longer article in yesterday’s NYT, reported that New York Cardinal Egan had chastised Fordham University, previously known as a free thinking institution of higher learning, for a transgression that makes you scratch your head.  Fordham had decided to award Supreme Court Justicee Stephan Breyer the Fordham-Stein Ethics award for 2008.   

You might wonder how could we have a secular Supreme Court Justice who was not ethical but that was not the basis of Cardinal Egan’s condemnation.  He was damning Breyer not for ethics but for Breyer’s support of a woman’s right to choose.  Cardinal Egan, of course, has every right to not attend any ceremony, and has a qualified right to support denying woman their rights.  These rights, however, should be his personal views, and not rule his public life.  The Catholic Church and Cardinal Egan benefit from tax exemptions and that is money that all Americans have relinquished.  We can not look poorly upon a Somali cleric denying a young woman her rights and then applaud Cardinal Egan for trying to deny an American woman her rights.

Hail Mary?

October 29, 2008

There is one week to go before Americans decide if we will have 4 more years of the same, or whether we will set a new course.  Most all indications are that it will be Barack Obama as the next President but with 6 days left, is it time for a Hail Mary pass?

The first answer would likely be, “hell yes!”  The more thoughtful answer might be, “tell me more about where you plan to throw that pass”.   The McCain team has already thrown some pretty awful and “un-straight talk” bombs Obama’s way without much success.  Each of their charges resonated with the McCain faithful but did little for the Independents and the Democratic mainstream.  What could McCain say now that (1) would make a difference, and (2) he would not regret later?

The overwhelming problem McCain is carrying is that he is too closely identified with George W Bush and the failed policies of the last 8 years.  Americans have had a rather positive view of McCain, and with all things equal, I believe, would prefer to take a chance with him rather than with Obama.  The problems facing America is not “Washington” as McCain would have us believe.  The route of our problems today are failed policies and the “lost opportunity cost” associated with selling out sound Government management for electoral gains in 2002, 2004 and attempted gains in 2006.  Think about

  • abrogating the Kyoto Protocol
  • killing the ABM treaty and funding big time the anti-missile development effort
  • the unnecessary invasion and occupation of Iraq
  • the demeaning attack on undocumented workers
  • the divisive rhetoric towards gays and lesbians
  • the Terri Schaivo shameful intervention
  • the support of teaching Intelligent Design in science class. 

None of these actions helped prevent the current economic melt down, nor did they advance the greatness of America in any way.  The chickens are standing at the door ready to come on in and roost.

I would think that by this weekend, McCain will throw his “hail mary” with the hopes that it will have an impact and there will be too little time to correct any mistruths.  My further guess is that whatever the “hail mary” might be, it will not change the vote outcome.  The most likely lasting result will be a more divided Country where logic and facts will count much less than faith, ideology and ignorance. 

Bringing the Country back together will be just another huge task for President Obama to tackle in his quest for change.   From what I have seen, I think Obama can lead from day one.

Cheney’s Finger Prints?

October 28, 2008

In the past week there have been provocative incursions into Pakistan and Syria that would have required the highest level clearance of the George W Bush Administration.  That, of course, means the ok of Dick Cheney.

In both cases, it is a little understandable why US military attacked targets in other sovereign countries.  US forces suspected the presence of enemy combatants apparently operating openly and without concern for the local country’s military or police.  “Hot pursuit” would be the justification, I would guess.  The question is why now and not long ago?

The Bush/Cheney term is finally drawing to a close with less than 3 months remaining.  Both Bush and Cheney, despite their protestations, are very much concerned with their place in history.  They want their legacies to read well.

To that end, I suspect, crushing al Qaeda and the Taliban before January 20, 2009, and crippling the al Qaeda in Iraq insurgency simultaniously would go a long way to support the verdict of victories in Afghanistan and Iraq (at least in their minds).  These tactical incursions this past week will not accomplish this objective, however, and more will be necessary if their goal is at all possible.

This brings us to the question of what would Cheney attempt to do following an Obama election.  (I assume he will feel safe with McCain and won’t stir the pot too much).  What about Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba?  What about the foolish and technically flawed anti-missile missile program?  What about the show trials in the kangaroo court at Guantanamo?  What about the spying on Americans and the invasion of our privacy?

We have already seen too much of Dick Cheney.  He should go and wash his hands, and put them in his pockets.  The Country has had its fill of his legacy.

Who’s Ahead?

October 27, 2008

The national polls change like the wind it seems.  The trend line has been showing an increase in Barack Obama’s popular vote lead over John McCain but the game has not been played yet and so any real celebration must wait.  The 24/7 news media eats these polls up like vitamins but I wonder what real value they possess?

Clearly when the poll shows my candidate ahead and gaining, I am pleased and feel a sense of satisfaction that so many other citizens are seeing it the same way.  When the polls show the other side gaining, I become anxious and wonder why.  Then I remember that polls are the result of an imperfect process and are “non-binding”.  For example, someone can tell a pollster one thing and vote the opposite.  Also, I have never been asked which candidate I prefer nor have I been asked which television programs I watch.  How do these companies decide who to ask?

I am at peace with my choice for the next President even without the help of polls.  I simply can not see how anyone (other than oil and war industry company executives) can be satisfied with the last 8 years.  I can not see how anyone can support a continuation of the policies that drove the last 8 years.  And I can not see how anyone can select a Presidential candidate whose Vice Presidential pick is so absent knowledge and experience on foreign and domestic matters as Sarah Palin.

My peace does not come from certitude that Barack Obama will be a smashing success although I think he will bring change.  My peace comes from knowing that he will not be a continuation of the current mean spirited and failed policies.  My hope is that Obama will succeed.

War Crimes

October 23, 2008

US Government officials announced yesterday that they were charging two Guantanamo detainees with “war crimes”, six years after the alleged events took place.  The course of justice may not be swift but the Government prosecuters would like us to think it is true.  In fact, it is shameful and an embarassment to America and our history of fair play.

In our civil courts one would never expect to see someone held prisoner for 6 years and then charged with a heinous crime.  Where is due process and probable cause?  One would never expect our courts to keep secret certain evidence, including the witnesses, from the defendent and the defense team.  Where is the “right to confront one’s accuser”?  But all this is the charade that has been going on, and lies ahead.

Do not mistake these comments to indicate that these men are innocent of what they have been charged, or that they may be guilty of far worse offenses and have not been charged.  The Bush and Cheney tag team have consistently played the role of the village bully with vigor and relish.  There is absolutely no way that holding these individuals longer or convicting them in a kangaroo court will make any of us safer.  What is certain is that the rest of the world is watching and is drawing the conclusion that “justice” is simply a word currently with the US Government and not an ideal that has long marked our Country. 

Guantanamo must be closed and all prisoners transferred to US Courts where it should be thumbs up or down, charge them or release them.  If charged, these prisoners must be accorded all normal rules for admissible evidence.  Finally, following a dismissal of charges or an acquittal, the former prisoners should be allowed to file suit in Federal Courts agains George W Bush and Dick Cheney for denial of their human rights.

Still More Graffiti for the Presidential Library

October 22, 2008

Southern Methodist University is looking for a small, quiet telephone booth in order to provide adequate space for the George W Bush Presidential Library.  George will be bringing a rather small legacy, at least what anyone would want to see.  Never the less, even as a lame duck, Bush is still trying to add to his place in history.

This week three developments were considered for inclusion.  SMU officials, worried that the inclusion of more memorabilia might force the expansion of the phone booth to something boardering on a handicap public restroom.  You be the judge whether these new events should be included.

1. After months of foolish and unproductive Russia baiting by the political side of the Bush Administration, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullin, met with Russian military leaders.  The subject of the talks was said to be about items of common interest.  What a brilliant idea.  Some said the talks were part of a greater idea of involving Russia in efforts to keep Iran from going nuclear.   You can be sure that Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, had a hand in this initiative and bringing common sense to a global issue. 

The memento that has been suggested for inclusion in the future Presidential library was a video tape of Bush declaring after the Russian invasion of the Republic of Georgia, “it will not be business as usual anymore with the Russians”.

2. The military tribunals underway at Guantanamo announced this week that all charges against 5 detainees who were about to begin their trials, were discharged.  These five were sent back to prison and no date for their release was given.  Officals said, in fact, there likely would be new charges made against these individuals.  This was just another chapter in the patently obvious kangaroo court proceedings.  A disgrace to the good name of the military and to America.

Stemming from this was the suggestion that the Bush Library include space for a moot courtroom.  There each day visitors could see a reenactment of how justice is suppose to work followed immediately by a version practiced by the Bush Administration. 

3. Following recommendations from both the Defense and State Departments to close Guantanamo detention facility, Bush decided to reject those recommendations.  It is difficult to understand this decision since Guantanamo will certainly be closed in either a McCain or Obama Administration, and further, if there should be trials it will become crystal clear that the Bush Administration used torture, denied due process, and held indefinitely far more people than they had solid evidence. 

Bush loyalists have proposed a special viewing room for the new Library where a reproduction of a Guantanamo cell could be displayed.  The room would be complete with Koran and prayer rug.  Next to the viewing room would be an evangelical chapel draped in American flags and the 10 Commandments.  The hook would be to protray Bush as the savior of Western Civilization.

Cooler minds have suggested that the telephone booth is still the most appropriate size and that these latest events could be best handled with “graffiti” sprayed on the booth windows.