Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Quick Observation

I had to pop in this morning to add this from an article by Allan Sloan on Ford's $250 Million tax reduction claimed under the "American Jobs Creation Act of 2004."
"The bottom line: When you see a piece of legislation carrying a name that sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true."

Now about the "Patriot Act"....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

With Mr. Bush Defending Us, Terrorism Isn't Our Biggest Problem

I've been doing it again... I've been dithering over how to make this a "good" blog post instead of just writing the damn thing... and I need to get this out.
It has come to me why it is that I am so opposed to any continuation of the "Patriotic Act." It is that I can't believe a word that comes out of this President's administration or the Congressional leadership.
They crafted and approved the "Patriot Act" with a requirement for a warrant in order to wiretap... they even addressed the urgency issue by saying that the warrant could be issued up to three days after the wiretap. The President told people that this was the case, which to my mind would affirm his understanding of the law.
This country was founded by people who had lived their entire lives under terrorist threat, tyranny and oppression. They formed a government of checks and balances dividing power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches specifically because they did not want a strong executive. Mr. Bush' administration has perverted the intention of Congress in authorizing the "Patriot Act" and has cut the judiciary out of the review process entirely. I am assured that the Justice Department (Executive Branch), headed by the guy who wrote the book on how to get away with the torture of prisoners, and... I heard Bush say this morning "all kinds of lawyers" are monitoring the illegal program to make certain that our civil rights are preserved. I am not comforted.
The first Republican President, Mr. Lincoln, described ours as a government of, by and for the people. This President has stood that premise on its ear. The only one of the three branches of government less representative of the people than the executive branch is the judiciary and Mr. Bush is getting ready to seat his second Supreme Court justice... although in his world judicial review isn't a requirement.
There may be another terrorist attack here in the U.S. someday. There's no way of knowing for certain, but there is that possibility. Of more immediate concern to me is the certainty of my belief that George W. Bush and his administration are attacking the institutions of the United States and doing irreparable damage to them each and every day they are in office. With friends like them who needs enemies?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

An Observation Regarding Samuel Alito

I don't want to knock Ronald Reagan from the fast track to sainthood so many seem to feel he deserves. I'm just saying that having Samuel Alito come up through the Reagan Justice Department through the years of the Iran-Contra affair... and now he's been nominated to the Supreme Court of the U.S. by an administration populated with rehabilitated names from the Iran-Contra affair... Poindexter and Abrams come to mind... and some of the briefs that he is acknowledged to have written during those years to argue cases before the Supreme Court.
Today he is saying that, as a judge, he doesn't "give heed" to his "personal views," but that he just interprets the law. Given that he will probably win the Senate's consent and sit on the Court I would really like to believe that. I would. Really. I would like to believe that a guy who came up representing the Iran-Contra administration could sit on the highest court in the country and give a fair hearing to arguments against... domestic spying?... civil rights of "suspected" terrorists?... malfeasance and
fiscal improprieties by members of Congress and lobbyists?... and interpret the law fairly. I would also like to believe in Santa Claus.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

An Opportunity to Do the Right Thing

I don't really have a post today, but I want to try to say a few words about doing the right thing... and to point out that I've added Kay's Thinking Cap and Craig's Donkey Path over to the right.
I am often troubled by the mindless pigeon-holing of significant issues as conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, etc. At the extremes there are "every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost" and "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Nearly all of us stand somewhere between those two extremes. Generally I believe that, if we would stop to reflect, we would see that our differences are, for the most part, differences of degree.
Ronni Bennett has proposed that we make Universal Health Care a litmus test issue for 2006. It is an easy thing for a politician to say that they respect the Golden Rule, but it is another thing entirely to provide the healthcare for all of our fellow Americans that we would move heaven and earth to provide for our own families.
Is it socialized medicine? Would necessary services be rationed? Would there be an issue with a lack of participating physicians? Those are some of the typical hysterical responses. One might ask if any of those are true of Medicare. Ronni has better citations and statistics, but from my reading it would be a near-immediate economic blessing to all of us... particularly to anyone whose care might have been denied or delayed due to restrictions on pre-existing medical conditions. Wouldn't that be something if the humane choice was also a sound business decision?
The bottom line, to my mind is that it is the right thing to do. We don't try to do the right thing by people because of who they are. We try to do the right thing by people because of who we are. Even if Universal Health Care wouldn't immediately break even or result in substantial savings, if we can return 54% of the Bush tax cuts to date to the top 20% of income earners, $230 billion, while spending another $230 billion on the war in Iraq can we not provide healthcare to our citizens? Who are we?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

We'll Call It "The Global War on Terrorism"

The headline jumped right out at me this morning: "U.S. to cede duties in rebuilding Afghanistan."
Let us bear in mind for a moment that the United States actually has been attacked... repeatedly... by terrorists. One who immediately comes to my mind is Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda who has given aid and comfort by the Taliban for a number of years.
According to the Post, this summer we will hand over "control of the volatile southern region -- plagued by persistent attacks from Islamic militias."
"The shift will allow the Bush administration, which has spent more than $47 billion on military efforts in Afghanistan since 2001, to cut the U.S. troop presence by 13 percent, from 19,000 to 16,500."
The Afghan defense minister points out that "the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. support after the decade-long Soviet occupation ended in 1989 precipitated a civil war that culminated with the Taliban movement taking power."
The U.S. is "is pinning its hopes on Afghan provincial governors to eradicate poppy fields" which account for a third of Afghanistan's GDP according to the CIA. We're planning to provide them with $600 million in aid in 2006.
At the same time we are committed to "stay the course" in Iraq until terrorism has been eradicated, insurgency suppressed, and that country is back on its feet. So far it's only cost us $231 billion as I write this.
I leave it to better minds than mine... is this about a war against international terrorism? Leaving the Taliban in the field and al Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan? $47 billion... $231 billion...
Hint: There is no money/oil in Afghanistan... just the guys who planned and directed the 9/11 attacks.

Monday, January 02, 2006

"Trust Me, I Lied But Your Own Good."

Okay, here's the deal as I understand it.
In April, 2004, the President said, "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order." This is true, by the way, even though the order could be requested and executed after the wiretap and now he denies that it requires an order at all.
Now he's arguing that he needed and continues to need to be able to wiretap without judicial review because "We've got to be fast on our feet, quick to detect and prevent," which may make some sense in an alternate reality where getting no warrant slows you down less than getting one three days after the fact.
Mr. Bush has clearly acted outside the scope of any existing law, even outside the scope of the "Patriot Act," and yet he says, "I want to make sure the American people understand, however, that we have an obligation to protect you, and we're doing that, and at the same time, protecting your civil liberties."
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says that "none of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead." This is from a U.S. Senator who has supported putting more than 130,000 young Americans out there ostensibly to defend and extend those civil liberties. It all begs the question: is there a non-negotiable principle left in this country?
You know... just a few years ago a President was impeached for lying to us about an extra-marital affair. What on earth is wrong with the forty four percent of you who continue to support this Administration?
Is it that he's a "wartime President?" He made the war up! We executed Timothy McVeigh six years and 53 days after he blew up the Murrah building, and we don't even have Osama bin Laden in custody. We don't need a war on terror. We need a war on malfeasance! Instead, the Justice Department is opening an investigation into how we found out about the domestic spying program.
These people are shameless, and forty four percent of you still approve of them. Get some help.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

"May no fears affect you.
May no illnesses afflict you.
May no dangers come your way.
May you enjoy good health and long life."