Tuesday, October 31, 2006

John Boehner - Shut UP

John Boehner, Republican from Ohio and House Majority Leader, was on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday. He stated that al-Qaeda is wreaking havoc in Iraq. He repeated the line often used by Republicans that we have to defeat the terrorists in Iraq or "we'll be fighting them on every street in America."

What would you do if you were a leader of this country and believed that a military loss in Iraq meant we would be fighting terrorists on EVERY street in America? Well, in World War II, when that might have been a possibilty, we geared up a massive response. Every fiber of the country was committed to making sure the enemy never got that close.

If I thought a loss in Iraq meant fighting terrorists on my street, I would reinstate the draft. I would gladly go. I'm 50+, but I can shoot a rifle, or drive a truck or cook and deliver meals. I would expect Homeland Security to be organizing local self-defense units. I would expect my taxes to go up to help pay for whatever resources are needed. I would send an Army of 500,000 to Iraq. Seal the borders and then scour the country.

What kind of sacrifices has John Boehner, the President, the Vice-President and most Republicans asked of the American people? Reinstate the draft? No. Raise taxes? No. Significantly enlarge the armed forces? No. Send more troops to Iraq? Not really. The only sacrifices Republicans have asked from Americans to help win the war in Iraq is to live in a state of fear and give Republicans more power. The main thing they want from you is your vote.

John Boehner's actions do not show that he is really worried about fighting terrorists on every street. He is just trying to scare you into voting for Republicans. To my fellow citizens in Ohio, please vote the jackass out of office!

I've heard many times that Democrats think Repbulicans are stupid. I don't think all Republicans are stupid. But I saw Richard Nixon elected twice. When he was elected the second time it was clear that he was a very bad President to anyone who was paying attention to the news. I saw George W. Bush elected twice. Similarly, it was obvious by 2004, that George Bush was not up to the job of President of the United States. If voters do not throw Republicans out of office in droves next week, I and many Democrats, will once again have reason to wonder what kind of logic Republicans use when they enter the voting booth.

Are you really willing to retain politicians who support an ill conceived and an utterly failed policy in Iraq for a promise of a ban on gay marriage?

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stay The Course? Sorry, My Bad!

Two guys with their hands in the air.  One guy says, Good News. The guy with the long nose says we don't have to Stay The Course.You can now see the two guys, along with many others have fallen off a cliff that represents Iraq.  One guy says, It's a little late.  An elephant hangs by his trunk over the edge of the cliff.

According to President Bush, when he said "Stay the course", he didn't really mean "Stay the course". At least not the way we all understood it.

Since we just don't understand that the war on terror requires new thinking, we really can't appreciate the subtleties behind the phrase "Stay the course". So as not to confuse our simple minds further he is not going to use the phrase any more. Maybe Karl can come up with something less complex.


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Used with permission.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It Takes A Rack To Keep You Safe

Click on cartoon to enlarge.

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Used with permission.

Send The Bill To My Kids

The President today said something along the lines that you can count on Republicans to keep your taxes low.

Are you really motivated to vote for Republicans because they promise low taxes? Even when you realize the country is running record deficits each year and that your children and grandchildren will be paying the bill for your low taxes?

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This Is A Sad Day


An American citizen is declared a terrorist by a government, grabbed by the police, spirited off, tortured and never told what he is accused of or given legal assistance to defend himself.

Guess which country this could happen in...

The United States - after the Congress passed and the President signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 today.


Wake up people. This President and the Republicans pose a greater threat to the long term security of this country than do terrorists.

VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!

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Happy Birthday! You Owe $28,500.

Happy Birthday to the 300,000,000th U.S. citizen born today.

Your share of the national debt is about $28,500 and growing every day.

Grow up fast. Get a good education and a good job. We need your taxes.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

The President Can't Lose in November

News reports have President Bush and Karl Rove very upbeat about the coming election even though polls show Republicans in trouble.

This make sense. President Bush is very concerned about his place in history. If Republicans lose either the House or Senate or both, President Bush will spend the rest of his term blaming Democrats for his inability to do what is necessary to solve problems. It has to have been very frustrating to have Republican control of the Presidency, House, Senate and Courts and have such a terrible record to show after six years.

President Bush might even be relieved if Democrats won one of the legislative branches. He could dump all of the problems he has created on the Democrats and probably start sleeping a little better at night.

Karl Rove would love a Democratic win. He would have two years to prove Democrats are just as incompetent as Republicans when they can't solve all the problems Bush created in six years. Two years to spin six years of failures and orchestrate a Republican Presidential win in 2008.

So, of course, President Bush and Karl Rove are upbeat about the mid-term elections. No matter who wins, they can't lose.

Unless the Democrats win big, then get their act together and show how a party in power can truly lead.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hey, Republicans, Listen Up

I know this is a waste of time, but I do believe that when presented with the facts in a straight forward, non-confrontational manner, people can understand truth from obfuscation. I believe Republicans are good people who want the best for this country, but sometimes they are not skeptical enough of what the authority figures in their party tell them. So Republicans, listen up.

Be skeptical any time a politician includes the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism in the same sentence. The 9/11 Commission and the President (among many others) have made it clear that there was no connection between Iraq (and Saddam Hussein) and Al Quida. Yes, since we went into Iraq and removed Saddam Hussein there are now Al Quida terrorists in Iraq, but if we killed all of them tomorrow we still couldn't bring our troops home. We would still be in the middle of a civil war in Iraq. And if we killed all the Al Quida terrorists in Iraq tomorrow we would not have decreased the threat of attacks inside the US AT ALL. I have not read of any connection between the Madrid and London bombings and members of Al Quida in Iraq. Iraq is not the central planning location for terrorist attacks and threats around the world.

The war on terror and the war in Iraq are slightly related because we opened the door for terrorists to cause trouble there, but there is only a tenuous connection between Iraq and the war on terror. Whenever someone equates the war on terror and the war in Iraq, start listening very carefully because they are trying to confuse you.

Another way Republican politicians try to confuse the situation is their claim that Democrats do not understand that this is a war. Democrats are accused of wanting to go after the terrorists as if this were a police issue and not a war. Well, let's look at the situation. You can call the fighting in Afghanistan a war. We are fighting pitched battles with heavy weapons. We were correct to go into Afghanistan to take out the Taliban. We weren't completely successful, so now NATO has agreed to take over the fight.

We are in a war in Iraq, but most of the fighting does not involve terrorists. We are in the middle of a war that revolves around internal Iraqi factions and issues.

So where in the world are we fighting a war with terrorists? Where are we fighting battles with mortars, machine guns, tanks, helicopters, etc.? There are terrorists in Spain. Are we fighting a war there? There are terrorists in Great Britain. Are we fighting a war there? Most of the war on terror is being fought by collecting intelligence, disrupting operations, stopping the flow of money and arresting people. We fight the war on terror with tighter security at air ports and sea ports. Most of the war on terror is not being fought with troops. We have certainly needed our armed forces in the war on terror and may need them again, but military action will not win the war on terror by itself. It is not even the major component.

So when Republican politicians tell you that Democrats don't understand how to fight the war on terror, ask them how they think it should be fought. When they start talking about Iraq, ask them how the war in Iraq and the war on terror are related. Then ask them if we won the war in Iraq tomorrow, would the threat from terrorism go away. Listen to the answer carefully because at this point they will be trying to confuse you because they don't have good answers.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Show Your Patriotism

It is clear that many people believe that the welfare of the country and the welfare of President Bush and the Republican Party are one and the same. If you attack the President, you are attacking the country. If you don't support the Republicans, you are unpatriotic. If you disagree with the President's handling of the war on terror, you either don't understand the situation, you would rather harm the country than admit the President is right or you support terrorists (by Republican definitions all these people are Democrats).

There is one sure way to show them you are as patriotic as they are ..........

VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Let Them Vote!

A recent poll taken in Iraq suggests that the majority of Iraqis would, at the very least, like the United States to leave, soon. While this poll received some attention, it may not reflect the will of the Iraqi people.

We properly applaud Iraqis for risking personal danger and voting in two national elections. We respected their right to elect their own government. Maybe we should suggest that they schedule a nation wide referendum to let us know their true feelings. Voters would be able to choose from the following options.

  • The U.S. should stay until the violence stops and basic utilities are restored.

  • The U.S. should stay until asked to leave by the elected government.

  • The U.S. should stay for no longer than one more year.

  • The U.S. should leave within six months.

  • The U.S. should leave immediately.

This would obviously be a non-binding resolution since the Bush administration would refuse to believe any result that didn't match their need at the time.

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Good Idea, Newt

I wrote a few days ago that Newt Gingrich suggested that Bill Clinton come up with a few ideas for catching bin Laden. Newt, the sharp witted politician he is, had the start of a good suggestion.

I suggest that Bill Clinton invite the leadership of the Democratic Party and all Democratic 2008 Presidential hopefuls to a secluded location. Probably no more than 30 to 35 people (that was not a joke about how many hopefuls there may be). They would agree that they would stay together until they could work out a detailed plan for an exit strategy from Iraq. Since you could never get that many Democrats to all agree on anything, they should shoot for an agreement that two thirds of the group can support. I good plan with lots of support could turn the tide for the Democrats and the country.

I know I'm dreaming, but what the heck.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Clean Up Crew

The Democrats should call themselves the "Clean Up Crew" because after the mess President Bush and the Republicans have made, what the country needs now is a clean up crew. And the way things have been going the past couple of weeks, the clean up crew is going to need a lot of disinfectant just to kill the stench.

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Gingrich ASSumptions

Picking up on my previous post about the Chris Wallace interview with Newt Gingrich on Fox News Sunday this morning. At one point Gingrich said,
We are in a very hard war against people who hate us and want to destroy us. The fact is neither administration has gotten bin Laden. And instead of pointing fingers at each other, it would be nice for President Clinton to give us six or eight solutions. It would be nice for President Bush to admit this is going to be much harder than anybody ever dreamed. Winning this campaign is going to be a long, bitter, difficult problem.
I would like to challenge the statements "this is going to be harder than anybody ever dreamed" and "Winning this campaign is going to be a long, bitter, difficult problem."

There are a number of assumptions in those statements. First, though, are you talking about the war on terror or the war in Iraq? You confuse people when you don't make that clear. Certainly some people warned about the dangers of Islamic terrorism and the danger in post-war Iraq. Is it going to be harder than anybody ever dreamed? You bet, because no one would have dreamed that President Bush would screwed up the war on terror as badly as he has. Or would have dreamed President Bush would mislead us into a war in Iraq. Or would have dreamed that he would have failed so miserably in rebuilding post-war Iraq. I think you are implying that President Bush is making the best of a bad situation and I think the reality is the President turned a winnable war on terrorism that should be largely over after five years into "a long, bitter, difficult problem."

If we face a long difficult war on terror, place the blame where it belongs, on George W. Bush. If we had a competent President, the war on terror would, for the most part, be over.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

Chris Wallace interviewed Newt Gingrich on Fox News Sunday this morning. At one point Gringrich said,

We are in a very hard war against people who hate us and want to destroy us. The fact is neither administration has gotten bin Laden. And instead of pointing fingers at each other, it would be nice for President Clinton to give us six or eight solutions. It would be nice for President Bush to admit this is going to be much harder than anybody ever dreamed. Winning this campaign is going to be a long, bitter, difficult problem.

Be careful what you wish for, Speaker Gingrich. Everytime Bill Clinton speaks he shows by comparison how poor a President George Bush really is.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

It's The Pinocchio Effect

GOP elephant with extremely long trunk.  On looker says 'Don't worry.  It always gets longer as elections get closer.'Click on cartoon to enlarge.


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Used with permission.

Help, I've Fallen And Can't Get Up

George Allen (aka MaCuckoo) is in a deep hole yelling 'Help me! I can't stop digging'. A bystander tosses him a football and says 'Put this in your mouth.'Click on cartoon to enlarge.

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Used with permission.

Allen Swift Booted



Senator George Allen has been Swift Boated and is about to be Swift Booted.

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Caught In Their Own Web Of Lies

Republicans have lost touch with reality. They realize all their assertions and policies are based on fraud. They scream that the Democrats have no plans because the Republicans now realize they have been living and preaching a pack of lies. Bob Woodward's new book reveals even more administration lies.

Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee, was just on Hardball with Chris Matthews to refute Bob Woodward's new book. She was unprepared to defend administration behavior. When Chris pressed her on issues for which Republicans have no answers, she fell back to repeating party lines as fast as she could, whether or not they were appropriate to the question. She repeatedly claimed that since Democrats have no plans, they attack personalities --- then in the same breath she starts attacking Nancy Pelosi. These people are so panicked they don't even listen to what they are saying.

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Call Me An Idealist

I've heard arguments that our country's future lies in maintaining a military that is massively superior to any other country. We will only be safe if we are so strong no one dares challenge us. I doubt that is even possible. We must maintain a military strong enough to counter threats, but I'm an idealist. Wouldn't it be better to set a goal to be the dominant country when it comes to freedom, education, tolerance, health care, civil rights and other qualities and traits that make us the great country we are? If we are generous in sharing our blessings with the rest of the world, maybe we won't have as many threats to counter.


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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

ES, The New Political BS

The misinformation coming from Republicans is getting worse. I suggest we rename BS to ES, elephant shit.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Show Us Progress Or The Door

Car DoorThe options in Iraq are not just "Cut and Run" or "Stay and Pay" (or was that "Stay and Pray"). We need to get out of Iraq as soon as we can consistent with our responsibility to provide Iraq with the tools to build a functioning democracy and civil society.

The Bush Administration seemed to have had success with a technique I thought would not work. I was wrong. Unfortunately, they have forgotten their own successes. That tool was deadlines. We set deadlines for all sorts of tasks: provisional governments, elections, a constitution and to the credit of the Iraqis, they met those deadlines. Sometimes it took a little longer than planned, but they got there.

Why did we stop setting deadlines? Both for the Iraqis and ourselves. These deadlines should be large political goals, like, amend the constitution as promised and create a document that all Iraqis will want to support. Or decreasing sectarian violence as measured by number of murders. They could be more modest goals: Increase the availability of electricity, clean water and sewers by some metric.

It is clear that we have done about as much as we can to give the Iraqis the tools they need to make a country of their choosing. This administration can't give us a clear definition of "winning", so how about some goals and metrics that we expect the Iraqis to meet? If they can't make progress on basic issues they must confront to succeed, we leave.


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Sunday, September 24, 2006

NIE Seals The Deal

This morning's New York Times has an article by reporter Mark Mazzetti titled, "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat." The article contains comments from people who are close to a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) completed in April. An NIE summarizies the opinions about a subject from 16 different US governmental agencies responsible for intelligence.

Here are some direct quotes from the article.
The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

Several politicians were asked about the report on this morning's news shows. Since the story just appeared this morning, there hasn't been time for Karl to communicate the proper spin. Instead of curve ball answers or slider answers, we got knuckle balls (all puns intended).

Among the best knuckle ballers was Senator Bill Frist on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

He said the American people just want to be safe. He listed attacks on the US - the WTC attack in '93, Khobar Towers, the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the Cole and the WTC attack on 9/11. He then said "...we haven't been attacked in the last five years." The implication is that Democrats failed to protect you. Only we, the Republicans, can protect you.

The answers that come out of the Bush Administration and Republicans are so misleading and distorted, it is difficult to know where to start when trying to refute them.

Since 9/11 American interests have been targeted directly at least five times, including attacks in Karachi, four in Saudi Arabia and the attacks in Amman, Jordan. I guess the arguement is that these did not occur in the US although Senator Frist's list only includes two attacks in the US, the two attacks on the World Trade Center.

What about the attacks in Madrid and London? They also don't count because they weren't in the United States? Attacks on our allies don't count? We lecture the world that this is a global war on terror and then forget we are not the only country that has been attacked. And I'll bet Senator Frist wonders why some of the world thinks the US is arrogant.

Senator Frist wants to change the subject rather than talk about the latest NIE. He would rather talk about how Republicans and this administration are tough on terror and the Democrats are weak on terror. What were the Republicans and President Bush doing to fight the war on terror before 9/11? In the months before 9/11, why didn't they get Osama bin Laden? Why didn't they avenge the Cole? For an administration that claims the RIGHT to start preemptive wars to fight terrorism, they did NOTHING to fight terrorism before 9/11.

Senator Frist also threw in the overused and utterly untrue, we are fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here. I guess that makes sense if you don't view the attacks in London, Madrid and elsewhere as real terrorist attacks. What he is saying is that while the intelligence agencies believe the war in Iraq has hurt the war on terror, it doesn't matter since we haven't been attacked in the US.

Senator Frist reiterated that this is a global war on terror being fought in many places besides Iraq and then goes on to just assume that therefore the threat is increasing. His implication is - - of course the threat is growing; this is a war. Duh. Isn't it just as reasonable to assume if you had done a better job of fighting the war on terror the threat would be decreasing? It is a war you've been fighting for five years. You've gotten everything you've asked for and you haven't won it. What your intelligence agencies are telling you now is that your actions in Iraq have actually made the war on terrorism worse! The threat should be decreasing, not increasing! You guys are incompetent!

Senator Frist was stammering this morning because the intelligence agencies have completed the case for throwing the Republicans out. With five years of unlimited resources the Bush Administration and the Republican leadership have not only not won the war on terrorism, they've made the threat of terror worse! Even those who claim the Democrats have no plan to fight terrorism (untrue) have a simple choice in November. Retain Republicans who have obviously failed miserably in Iraq, proven to be incompetent and whose actions their own intelligence agencies have said has increased the threat of terrorism, or give the Democrats a chance.

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Why Is Iraq The Central Front?

Senator Bill Frist was on ABC's This Week this morning and once again said we are fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here.

What a bunch of crap!

I would like someone to ask Senator Frist why, if he really believes that, couldn't we have just fought them in Afghanistan? There was widespread agreement in the US and the world that the war in Afghanistan was justified. Once we were there, why didn't President Bush just tell the terrorists, "Here we are in Afghanistan, bring it on."?

If all the terrorists are coming to Iraq to fight the US, why didn't we just have them come to Afghanistan instead? Wouldn't it have been easier to fight them all in one country instead of two? Iraq is politically a much more complicated place to fight a war than Afghanistan. Maybe the administration just didn't think about that.

We keep getting the same old crappy responses. Don't they think people are smart enough to catch on that they are being manipulated? I guess Republicans think at least some people are not that smart. And since they generally play to their base, guess who they think the real dummies are?


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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Democrats Need A New Voice

I don't really want a Democratic Party that speaks with only one voice. A party whose members are bullied into supporting the party line even when they know it is wrong, but much of the country does. That is the Republican approach and all too often we've seen them march like lemmings off the cliff.

Some voters like a party with a single message for the reasons John Dean discussed in his book, "Conservatives Without Conscience" (see previous post). Other voters prefer a more unified voice since it indicates a party with a plan and members who are united to achieve it. Voters want action and affective governance, not more political in-fighting.

I believe the Democratic Pary agrees on broad goals they would like to achieve if once again given the chance to lead. Unfortunately, the party does not have a leader that can articulate their goals. To be honest, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are not the right people to be the face of the Democratic Party at this point. Their personalities, public demeanor and rhetoric styles are just what Republicans want. I'm sure Harry Reid is a good person and a first rate senator, but neither he nor Nancy Pelosi give anyone confidence that Democrats can lead and defend this country.

Howard Dean is much more articulate and could do a better job of explaining Democratic positions, but he carries too much political baggage from his presidential run. His political smarts are essential to future Democratic victories, but he is not going to convince voters to vote for Democrats.

Democrats need more specific proposals and an articulate voice to explain them.


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Friday, September 22, 2006

Conservatives Without Conscience

I just finished John Dean's new book, "Conservatives Without Conscience." The preface, which explained how he came to write the book, was very interesting. The first part of the book was a little academic. I was hoping for some political fireworks. But John Dean brought together a lot of academic research to help explain the success of the Republicans the past couple of decades and why we should be concerned. At times it was chilling.

Conservatives will believe nothing in this book, but if, like me, you've encountered right wing rantings and hatred and wonder where it comes from, this book may help explain it. The book was interesting and seemed to be very well researched. Dean has many references to back up his writing.

Wading through the first part prepares you for the second part where you do indeed get some political fireworks and insight. Don't give up, finish the book. You'll like it. Unless you are a conservative. It is not very flattering to them.

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Say It Ain't So

There was a report on NBC Nightly News tonight that the administration is planning a new call-up of a significant number of reservists this fall. It was also reported that the administration believes this call-up will be politically damaging, so they will not announce it until after the November elections.

I have no idea if either of these items are true, but I will be watching. If there is to be a call-up and if it would be better for the country to make such an announcement after the elections, that would be one thing. If it were better for our war effort in Iraq, that would be another. If it were better for the reservists to wait until after November to be called-up, that would be still another. But to wait because it would help Republicans win an election, that makes my blood boil.

I really am tired of being cynical about every decision the President makes. I really do hope tonight's news reports are wrong.

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Thanks, Bill

I chuckled when I heard the joke, President Bush has given hope to all school children. He has proven that ANYONE can grow up to be President.

Of course, it helps to have a father with all the right connections.

This old joke came back to me as I watched President Clinton on MSNBC tonight. I like a President who is smarter than I am. Someone who understands not only how to win elections, but how to use logic, reason and intelligence to communicate ideas. A President who wants to build communities through consensus and not fear. A President who is more interested in listening, understanding and proposing solutions than in lecturing. A President who is interested in governing the country and not just pandering to his base. How I long for the good old days.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

How Long Can Republicans Blame Clinton?

A recent round of Clinton (Bill) bashing, made me once again wonder how many years it will take Republicans to get over their inferiority complex, take responsiblity for their own actions and quit blaming President Clinton for the ills of the world. In comparison to what we have now, he looks better every day.

It also made me wonder which will occur first,
A) Republicans stop blaming President Clinton for ________ (fill in the blank)
OR
B) The last US soldier leaves Iraq.
You've got to admit, that's a tough call.


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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Worst President Ever, Nixon or Bush?


I think George Bush, the current president, is a terrible president. Of course, I didn't believe he possessed the necessary qualities to be elected the first time.

I wonder if there is a relationship with President Bush's "stay the course" policies and whatever illogic led people to re-elect him in 2004. Maybe many voters had to vote for him again or admit that they made a mistake the first time. Not a character trait that Republicans seem to exhibit. Or maybe it took more nuanced analysis than most Republican voters can muster.

But my musings today actually have me wondering if history will view President Nixon or President Bush (43) as the worst US President ever. In fairness, we should wait until President Bush's term ends in 2009 to take a poll, although I think I have enough evidence to vote today.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Now Wouldn't That Be Ironic?

After a violent few weeks, the war between Israel and Hezbollah seems to be over. This may be an ONCGTC moment (only Nixon could go to China). As bloody as the conflict was, it may have set the stage for a period of tranquility. There was world wide opinion that Israel lost the war, but more likely they "lost" the war and won the political battle.

I heard one commentator say that toward the end of the war, Israel was left pursuing the "Mad Dog" strategy. The idea was that while Israel could not easily win the war, they could make life so difficult for the Lebanese that they would not tolerate anyone poking the dog again. A slight provocation might set the mad dog on another rampage.

For decades, Israel has evoked an image of invincibilty. It had defeated all its neighbors and left them disheartened and demoralized. This is not a state conducive to compromise or peace. While objectively no one can claim that Hezbollah beat Israel, by not losing the Middle East sees them as victors. Now that Hezbollah has the aura of a winner, they may be more willing and able to negotiate.

Even if the money came from Iran, it was amazing how quickly Hezbollah started to help rebuild Lebanon. They were already organizing as a political party before the war. Hezbollah would probably win any election in Lebanon at this point, but not if people thought they would kick the dog again. If Hezbollah wants to become a political power and run the government in Lebanon, that is good. I don't believe the Lebanese people will allow them to start a war with Israel again.

It was amazing (and terribly ironic, given President Bush's Iraqi policies) that Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, said that "Had we known that the kidnapping of the soldiers would have led to this, we would definitely not have done it." Although they may not like him, Nasrallah may have the stature as a winner to negotiate some real solutions. Now that he is a winner, he may no longer feel the need to prove his military power (and would hopefully realize if he starts trouble again the Israelis will be better prepared).

One commentator, shortly after the cease fire, stated that even with a cease fire Israel still planned to eventual assassinate Nasrallah. At this point that would be very bad. Israel should not forget that Menachem Begin, who was eventually an Israeli Prime Minister, started out with terrorist ties. Nasrallah may be someone Israel can make deals with. Israel should, and probably is, working on a deal to get their two kidnapped soldiers back. This is a chance for Israel to determine if Hezbollah can be encouraged to negotiate instead of fight. Hint, another win for Hezbollah might not be such a bad thing.

Israel should keep the mad dog snarl, but encourage and help Hezbollah to be a positive political force in Lebanon. The Lebanese people have struck blows for democracy on their own so their desire for freedom and what looks to be a desire by Hezbollah to govern might be the right mix to make Lebanon one of those beacons of democracy in the Middle East we've been hearing about.

Now wouldn't that be ironic.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Smirk Has To Go

Senator George Allen, Republican from Virginia, was on Meet The Press this morning. It is never appropriate to judge the competency of a candidate by their visual appeal or lack thereof, but the voters of Virginia should be commended for electing George Allen even though he often exhibits a horrendous smirk.

His smirk is so bad, I'm sure it is the nickname people use behind his back. According to Wikipedia, a smirk "refers to a smile evoking insolence, scorn, or offensive smugness".

I don't know if Senator Allen's smirk is the result of an unfortunate physical malady or represents a personality leak. In any case, it needs to be removed by plastic surgery or counseling. It may be that he has had it for so long that the only group that can remove it are voters.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

They Didn't Volunteer To Be Sacrificed

I support the all volunteer military and greatly appreciate the brave men and women who have volunteered to defend our country.

I do have to wonder if a volunteer military has allowed the human costs of this war to be hidden.

There is a rumor that a secret report has conceded that we have already lost Anbar province in western Iraq. I heard a comment that it would take 50 to 60 thousand troops to even try to take it back. How many people who agree with President Bush's "stay the course" plan would be willing to stay the course if a draft were needed to supply the 50,000 additional troops?

We need a real plan to get out of Iraq. We cannot indefinitely sacrifice our military on a failed plan just because they volunteered.

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Shame on you, President Bush.

The Bush administration's assertion that they should be able to convict and punish a person based on information that the defendant is not allowed to hear and, therefore, cannot defend himself against, is outrageous. To insist that the government should be able to convict defendants based on confessions induced by torture or testimony from witnesses who were tortured is equally absurd. That a President of the United States is proposing such actions is beyond words.

There are certainly many bad people in this world who deserve to live the rest of their lives in a cell or to be executed, but the government cannot punish someone just because the government thinks they deserve to be punished. We give our government vast powers, but we require them to exercise them within laws to help insure that these powers are not abused. This not only protects us from abuse by government officials, but it also from ourselves. While outrageous acts might move us to outrageous reactions, our laws remind us we have agreed on ideas and ideals that are more important than the emotional reactions of the moment.

Convicting people of unnamed crimes or based on coerced testimony sounds like something out of the old USSR or a third world dictatorship, not the United States of America.

Shame on you, President Bush.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

John Boehner - WTHWYT

According to House Majority Leader John Boehner,

"I listen to the questions today and I listen to my Democrat friends, and I wonder if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people."

I read your statement and wonder if you are more interested in the welfare of this country or saving your political ass!

And you are a liar. Democrats aren't your friends. A friend wouldn't make such a heinous statement.

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The Love Story Presidency


This is the Love Story Presidency..

Being a Bushie means never saying you're sorry.

Or, for that matter, that you ever made a mistake.

Or, even worse, admitting all your assumptions for going to war were wrong, but still insisting that even knowing they were wrong you would still go to war. Unbelievable.

If a definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome, what do you call voters who still support Bush's policies in Iraq? Worse, what does "stay the course" say about President Bush?

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

2¢ On Confusion To Lose

It is clear that the President and Republicans plan to win elections riding a horse named Confusion.

According to a story on NPR, President Bush said,

"We should all agree that the battle for Iraq is now central to the ideological struggle of the 21st century."

I don't know why we should all agree, but he goes on to say,

"We will not allow the terrorists to dictate the future of this century, so we will defeat them in Iraq."

I don't believe the President is stupid, so unless the Generals are lying to Congress, the President knows as well as we do that the fighting in Iraq is primarily an insurgency and a civil/sectarian war. So why is he misrepresenting what is going on in Iraq and insisting we are fighting terrorists there? Political expediency. Republicans still believe voters consider them better at protecting the country from terrorists, so every attempt is made to fool voters into believing that the war in Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

Republicans have often suggested that Democrats don't want the US to succeed in Iraq because a failed Iraq can be blamed on the Republicans for political advantage, but it is becoming clear that the President sees political advantage in an Iraq in turmoil. If Iraq is a mess and he can conflate the war in Iraq and the war on terror, he stands to gain politically. We are in the third election cycle where Republicans have tried to convince voters that only they can be trusted to fight terrorism. If Iraq, the central front in the war on terror, were to become a peaceful, stable democracy, why would we need Republicans who have shown incompetence in so many other areas?

If the President honestly wants to bring the troops home soon and leave a stable Iraq, he would tell the truth. We made a mistake going into Iraq, but we've made a mess over there and we can't soon leave. While it was not a haven for terrorists, it could well become one if we leave a failed government there, so we now have both moral and selfish reasons for not abandoning Iraq. Of course, since the President has linked the Iraq with the war on terror, admitting problems in Iraq means admitting problems with his war on terror. Never gonna happen.

The President should also admit that our misadventure in Iraq have emboldened and empowered Iran. So before we leave we need to have a clear policy and plan for dealing with Iran. We are now fighting a war with Iran in Iraq. I don't know if that is a war we can ever win, but the President should start telling the truth, especially if he harbors any plans to take on Iran directly.

I thought the President was a man who believed in personal responsibility. A responsible action now would be to work to fix the mess in Iraq. A responsible action would be to admit mistakes. A responsible action would be to level with the American people and not try confuse voters in order to re-elect Republicans. I guess I got that wrong, he believes in personal responsibility - present company excluded.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Simple Lebanon Solution

Some facts about the current Israeli attacks within Lebanon are obvious.
  • Lebanon and the Lebanese people are suffering more than they should.
  • Israel has lost the moral high ground. Many countries who don't normally support Israel initially conceded Israel had a right to defend itself. Unfortunately, Israel has gone way beyond defending themselves.
  • Israel decided to use this provocation to justify destroying Hezbollah. They misjudged the situation. They can't take out Hezbollah from the air. They can't afford a land war in Lebanon.
  • Continued fighting is only benefiting Hezbollah.
  • The world sees the Lebanese as victims, not as citizens of a country that supports terrorists and allows attacks on other countries to originate from within its borders.
  • It is not possible to move Hezbollah far enough away from the Israeli border to protect Israel from Hezbollah rockets.
  • The chances of getting an international force on the border that can solve this problem is zero.
Now that they've gotten the attention of the world and at least a few concessions that they have the right to defend themselves, Israel should go to the UN and offer a full cease-fire and pull-out with a condition and one stipulation. The condition is that Hezbollah return the two kidnapped soldiers. The stipulation is that Israel has the right to defend themselves.

The US should offer a simple resolution; Israel has a right to defend itself from attacks from outside its borders. Although even such an obvious statement might not be adopted, the US and Israel would have started a move to return Israel to the moral high ground.

Israel and the US should also make it clear that it is the responsibility of Lebanon to insure that Israel is not attacked by people from within Lebanon. Israel should clearly state that it will consider any rocket launched from within Lebanon to be an act of war by Lebanon. If they are attacked again by forces based in Lebanon, Israel will take whatever military action they feel is necessary. The people of Lebanon need to understand that they will be held responsible for the acts of Hezbollah, a group that is accepted by much of their country and is actually part of their government.

It is clear that the Lebanese Army cannot stop Hezbollah, but Israel should now use the people of Lebanon and the world to help control the problem. Israel has made the point that it will aggressively defend itself, it now needs to use this opportunity to get additional support from the world to keep Hezbollah's and Iran's aggression in check. I know some people will point out that Hezbollah, Iran and much of the world are not interested in morality, but I would point out that Israeli bombs have been falling for a couple of weeks now and that hasn't stopped the rockets either.

From the news it seems like Israel can pinpoint the source of a rocket launch quickly. If a rocket is launched, Israel should try to take out the launcher and other Hezbollah facilities in the area. The response doesn't need to be limited to just the launcher, but the response must be somewhat proportional to attack. The responses could escalate in severity if attacks continue.

Every attack should bring a complaint from Israel and the US at the UN. That won't necessarily stop the attacks, but it will help keep the world focused on Hezbollah's aggression and strengthen Israel's position if they have to attack again.

Israel had more support at the beginning of the current fighting than they've ever had. They should learn from this and build on it.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Coulter Vs. The WWF

The press is giving Ann Coulter way too much attention. No one who can carry on a reasonably logical conversation or develop a cogent thought listens to what she has to say.

People listen to and watch Anne Coulter for the same reasons they watch professional wrestling. Actually, they are probably the same people.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Good News Will Set Us Free!

Joe ScarboroughAfter Joe Scarborough whined last Wednesday about the liberal, anti-American bias of the media and the mainstream media's failure to report the successes in Iraq, what was the lead story on Thursday's Scarborough Country? Natalee Holloway. See my previous post "Scarborough and O'Reilly Can Save Iraq."

Now Joe was off Thursday night and a replacement was sitting in, but I don't think that made much difference. These shows are more interested in ratings than news.

When the Iranian embassy hostage crisis occurred in 1979, ABC (one of the mainstream, liberal media companies) started a nightly half hour news show dedicated to the story. They vowed to keep the program on until the hostage crisis was resolved, which they did. I'm sure they never imagined the hostages would be held for over a year, but true to their word, ABC kept the nightly news show on and reported the details of the hostage story every week night. Once the hostages were released they continued the show, Nightline, as a nightly news show.

Fox, to their credit, has dedicated one of their shows to an on-going news event. On The Record, with Greta Van Susteren, has dedicated itself to reporting every detail about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. They will not stop until the truth is known. They are dedicated to covering this story no matter how long it takes or where the grisly details lead.

I don't blame the Holloway family for trying to keep Natalee's story alive, but if Fox had spent this much time on Jimmy Hoffa, we'd now know who killed him and where he is buried.

Ok all you conservatives. I keep hearing how the insurgents can't beat us in a war (which they can't), so the insurgent's goal is to take a page from the Vietnamese and attack the will of the American people. Many of you are sure that it is only by breaking the will of the American people that the insurgents and terrorists can defeat us in Iraq. You insist that the liberal media are playing into the hands of the insurgents and terrorists by reporting only one side of the Iraq story. The side where things are not going well. So get over there are start reporting the good news. Dedicate a nightly show to all the good things that are happening in Iraq. Promise to keep it going until members of the U.S. armed forces are not dying in Iraq. Keep Americans up beat about the progress of the war. Don't let the liberal media brainwash the American public into thinking this war is not worth the cost. Let us hear about all the good things that are happening. You can present all the good news and counter the bad news that is gleefully reported by the liberal, mainstream media. You show those wimpy, mainstream reporters how real men get the story.

You can do it. Get over there, create a nightly show, tell us the real story. Save Iraq. If you report all the good things that are happening in Iraq, the war is as good as won! We don't need a plan. We don't need competency. We don't need a reconciliation government in Iraq. We don't need an exit strategy. We just need to hear the good news.

The good news will set us free!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Scarborough and O'Reilly Can Save Iraq

Joe ScarboroughTonight on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Joe Scarborough picked up President Bush's whine that the mainstream media (also known in conservative circles as the liberal media) are failing to report the good news from Iraq. Conservatives are claiming that the failure of the media to provide balanced reporting has led to President Bush's low poll numbers and a growing opinion that we should get out of Iraq. The ground work is being laid to blame the liberal media and Democrats for future failures and setbacks in Iraq.

What world do these people live in? Joe Scarborough has five hours of prime time TV every week. Probably 10 and 15 hours in some markets with rebroadcasts. O'Reilly has the same amount of air time. Hell, Fox has a whole damn network! If the mainstream media is so bad why don't these guys get off their whining asses and move their shows to Baghdad? They could set up their own studios with big windows opening on downtown Baghdad. Live from Baghdad, it's Scarborough Country! The O'Reilly Factor, fair and balanced live reporting of all the good news from the vacation capital of the world, Iraq! Maybe Bill would have to change the name of the show to The O'Reilly Fear Factor.

Joe could report 5 hours of live, good news from Iraq every week. He would be the darling of conservatives. His ratings would eclipse the Super Bowl! At least with those two over there we would get some real reporting and not just balcony interviews.

So here's the challenge to all you blowhard, whining conservative commentators. Get your whining asses over to Iraq and tell us what the real truth is on the ground. I don't mean spend a weekend there. Move there. Give us reporting of the daily successes and prevent the insurgents from winning the PR battle. Save Iraq.

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Help Is Coming

I've written several posts on the need to get our population (and the world's) under control. I'm happy to report that it's beginning to look like help is on the way. Bird flu may solve our problem, at least for a few decades. If bird flu mutates in a way that allows easy transmission of the disease from person to person, we can expect many millions of people to die. As a bonus, the strain that a pandemic would place on public health services would probably drain resources from the fight against AIDS with another bonanza of deaths. If we can decrease the world's population by 500 million or, if we are lucky, a billion people, maybe common sense will prevail and the survivors will realize that over population threatens human survival and the world.

And if they don't see the need and figure out how to limit human population to a level that the earth can sustain, we can rely on some future calamity to bring the numbers back down. We can only hope this occurs before we irreversibly damage the environment.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

We Need Lots Of Plans!

I’m really getting tired of Republicans carping that Democrats complain about Iraq, but have no plan of their own. If they mean a single plan that all Democrats agree on, then they’re right. The Republicans certainly have a single plan they all agree on and look where it’s gotten us. They can’t even acknowledge that “We’ll stand down as the Iraqi’s stand up.” is not a plan, it is a hope, a wish, and more recently, a prayer. I don’t want Democrats to come up with a single plan and I wish Republicans with the guts to take on this administration would express their true feelings. I heard an articulate and reasonable Senator Chuck Hagel this weekend. I’d like to hear more of his real thoughts on the war. We need new ideas; lots of new ideas. Politicians should be encouraged to suggest lots of plans. If the pros and cons of each are discussed with an open mind, we might really figure out what a true exit strategy is.

We don’t need a plan from the Democrats that they will feel compelled to defend lest they be called “wafflers”. If the Democrats could come up with a single plan, what good would it do them? They are in no position to do anything about it. They are in no position to implement any of it. It would just give a single point for Republicans to attack. As the situation changes and new proposals and options are suggested, these ideas would be ridiculed as just more examples of the lack of Democrat’s resolve. Democrats, as individuals, have made many suggestions. Some have actually been borrowed by the administration, but no one is ever going to give them any credit. Democrats should continue to talk about their concerns and ideas, even if they don’t have an all inclusive plan. Not many politicians or people agree with Representative Murtha’s plan to pull out of Iraq immediately, but no one can deny that he has moved the discussion and thinking forward. We need more suggestions.

I recently heard several people on the talk shows suggest that dissent and discussion in this country only strengthens the resolve of people like the insurgents in Iraq. The implication is that opponents should shut up and support the President. Not only would this spell the end of the Democratic Party, it is not how a democracy works. People seem to believe that it is OK to have their phone tapped as long as someone promises security in return. Would they really give up their right to dissent also? Do the pundits realize that governments and citizens that project a single policy or opinion are usually called dictatorships?

Senator Dianne Feinstein was on Hardball with Chris Matthews (MSNBC) tonight. She did an excellent job of laying out the problems in Iraq and suggesting a course of action. For those of you who think Democrats have no ideas, get a copy of her interview. She made more sense in three minutes than the President has in the last three months. I understand that as a Senator she has more freedom to make certain kinds of statements than the President, but that is the very reason we need people like her to speak out.

As the ’08 presidential campaign heats up and a Democratic presidential candidate is chosen, I would expect that the Democrats will try to project a united front with a common solution to our problems. I’m sure that after the Democrat’s presidential candidate is elected, the party will break down into nuanced discussions, heated policy arguments, wishy-washy policies and general political disarray. Just the kind of energy, soul searching, flexibility and responsiveness that keeps a democracy energized.



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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Trees For Schools

The U.S. Forest Service is getting ready to sell about 300,000 acres of land in 32 states to finance the Secure Rural Schools Act (SRSA). This is about 200 square miles of land. This land is typically forest land in national forests. Once this land is sold, cut for wood and/or mined, we can never replace it. There must be other ways to fund these schools.

What do we do in five years when we again need money for SRSA? Sell more land? What do we sell when we run out of forests?

Missouri, where I live, doesn't have any large national parks. The closest we come is our national forests and we don't want to lose them. The Forest Service plans to sell 21,000 acres of forest in Missouri.

One doesn't have to be cynical to believe this sale is more about making resources available to business that funding a program. I'm sure the thinking was "Who can argue with selling a few trees in order to educate children?" Certainly not this administration which is always ready to give business a helping hand. By the way, the Forest Service is already looking for more forest land to sell.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Illegals Not Welcome

Thumb with sign Not WelcomeIf we agree that illegal immigration is a problem we must solve and mass immigration of unskilled workers is a problem we should solve, what are some things we can do to solve these problems? (See my previous post 'Is Illegal Immigration A Problem?')

Increasing border security is high on the list. I've heard a combination of proposals. Physical walls. Virtual walls. More agents. All these sound good, but these actions alone will not solve illegal immigration.

If we really want to solve this problem, we must crack down on businesses who hire illegal immigrants. Fines for hiring illegal immigrants must be levied that are commensurate with the size of the business, the number of illegal immigrants employed and the length of time they have been employed. The punishment must be severe enough so that most employers will determine it is not worth the risk to hire undocumented workers.

People who are caught entering the US illegally should have their identity recorded and then they should be returned to Mexico (or the country they entered from). This person would never be eligible for US citizenship, a green card or a work permit. If we make it possible for more workers to enter legally and deny that option to anyone who enters illegally, we can discourage workers from entering illegally.

If someone comes to the US illegally again and are caught, they go to jail and they are no longer even eligible for a visa to visit the US. Repeat offenders would face longer jail sentences.

We should increase the number of work permits for guest workers. A guest worker must have a job before their permit is issued. There would also be a provision that bringing their family with them is not an option, although they would be required to identify their family members before a permit is granted. If their family is found to be here illegally, the penalty would be swift deportation for all. This would give workers an incentive to return home when their work permit or current employment expires. Immigrant workers who have a clean record for some number of work years (6, though not necessarily contigous years) would be allowed to apply for a green card and bring their immediate family (spouse, children and parents they had identified originally) to this country.

Maybe employers of guest workers should have to pay an hourly fee or tax to the government (local, state and federal) for these workers. This would help to reimburse governments for the extra services these immigrants might require. This would also give an incentive for hiring US workers, if they can be found, for these jobs. So, for example, if you hire a US citizen, you must pay them at least minimum wage. If you hire a guest worker, you must pay them at least minimum wage plus $2.00 an hour as a government surcharge.

Better yet, maybe companies who hire guest workers should be forced to pay a certain level of benefits (like health insurance) to ALL their employees if they hire guest workers.

The idea is to give employers incentives to hire US workers, but if they hire guest workers we minimize the financial burden on community resources that provide these workers with services (like schools, health providers, etc.).

I would like to see a requirement that all guest workers be required to have a minimum ability to read, write and speak English. This would make it easier to assimilate these workers as they progress towards a green card and possibly citizenship. Certainly, every naturalized citizen should be required to speak, read and write English.

Guest workers would, of course, be required to obey all laws. Guest workers convicted of a felony and their families would face deportation. We have a right to choose people who we believe will make positive contributions to our country.

Even if we create a plan to stop illegal immigration, there are still millions of immigrants who are here illegally. We need to determine what to do with them.

One idea would be to apply all the ideas above to people who can prove they had a job here before September 1, 2006. If they have immediate family here, they can stay, but they must be documented. Children who are not citizens must show proof that their parents are here legally before they can enroll in a school. The illegal immigrant's current employer must register these workers and agree to pay the extra fees that are required for guest workers. If they won't, the guest worker will have six months to find a new employer or be sent back to their home country. Once there, they can start over as a guest worker under the new rules. Guest workers already here would have to pass the English proficiency test within one year.

Illegal immigrants and their families who started working on or after September 1, 2006 would be required to leave the country and apply for guest worker status.

Some ideas, such as not providing education for children of illegal immigrants, may sound draconian, but without rewards and punishments we cannot solve this problem. Without sufficient incentives, nothing will change. We currently have an undocumented underclass and that is also not fair to these children.

I'm sure people more familiar with immigration issues will come up with other ideas, but I believe that if we really want to stop illegal immigration, we can. At this point it is clear that the US does not really want to stop cheap labor from entering this country.


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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is Illegal Immigration A Problem?

I do not believe that bringing in or allowing in unlimited, cheap, unskilled labor from Mexico is good for the US. It may be good for business. It may help the US economy in the short term, but I don't think it is good in the long term. Certainly, allowing unlimited, illegal immigration is not good for us.

I am not against immigration. We are a country of immigrants. We have a history of welcoming people, educated and uneducated, who are willing to work hard to make a better life for themselves and their families, but we are a country that faces a population problem and unlimited immigration is a big part of that problem. Also, as globalization forces our least educated (and some of our best educated) to compete against workers in other countries who will work for much less pay, we do not need to import more undereducated people. I respect that most of these people are hard working, good people, but we cannot save the world by building a third-world underclass in the US. We are really hurting ourselves by severely limiting the number of educated immigrants and students who are allowed to enter the US and allowing unrestricted immigration of unskilled workers.

I believe we can solve this problem, but I suppose we first have to agree that we have a problem and what it is.

Is the problem that illegal immigrants flouted our laws and entered illegally? Is the problem that these people are undocumented? What should happen to illegal immigrants and their families who are already here? Should they receive amnesty?

Would the problem be solved if we drastically increased the number of people who are allowed to enter the US to take a job so that illegal entry declines just because it isn't necessary?

Is the problem a porous border that not only allows good people just looking for a job to enter, but also allows easy entry for drug runners, terrorists, etc.

Is the problem the public service costs of illegal laborers? Is it the additional family members they bring who also need services?

Is the problem our law which gives US citizenship to any child born in this country even if the mother entered illegally?

Is our current population level over-stressing our environment and natural resources? The US Census Bureau says that most of the US population growth over the next 100 years will be the result of immigration, not births to current US citizens.

Do illegal immigrants depress wages? We always hear that illegals take jobs that no one else wants. If cleaning hotel rooms paid $20 an hour do you think more US citizens would apply?

Is the problem our dependence on cheap labor. How many people benefit because some people are willing to work for less than a living wage? How much would the average person's cost of living go up if all the illegal immigrants were somehow forced to leave?

Is the problem that a large number of people who only speak Spanish are creating a separate society inside the US? Are we looking forward to a bilingual society and problems like the Canadians face? There is always a tension between English and French speaking Canadian citizens. More than once there have been national referendums asking if Canada should be broken up into two countries. One speaking English, the other French. Is that our future?

Is our porous border the conscious choice of politicians who understand that without cheap labor we would face other problems for which they have no solutions? Is it just easier to let this problem fester than take the political heat for really facing the issues?

Do we need to develop an economic system that does not depend on cheap labor and continued population growth?

Obviously immigration, legal and illegal, raises many issues. These are tough problems and we do not respond to tough problems until we have no choice. Even then we tend to take the path of least resistance. While we may not yet agree on the key issues of the illegal immigration problem, we can all agree that there is a lack of clear thinking and leadership in this area.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why Are His Numbers So Low?

I watched Hardball today and Chris Matthews asked his guests why the country would trust the President on big issues, like invading Iraq, and won't trust him on small issues like the port deal. Duh.

On Fox, I caught part of Neil Cavuto's show on Fox. Boy, is he bad. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's Countdown should start picking on him and give poor Bill O'Reilly a few days rest.

Anyway, Neil Cavuto asked a panel of conservative sycophants why President Bush's poll numbers were so low. The consensus answer was the mainstream media won't cut him any slack.

As I see it, George Bush was a bad choice for President. He never really had what it takes. He was bad before 9/11. To his credit, when the nation was traumatized by 9/11, he and Vice-President Cheney struck the right tone of strength and stability. They reassured the nation that we could weather the storm and make the terrorists pay. He correctly went after the Taliban in Afghanistan. The nation was desperate for leadership and he did an excellent job of supplying it. Unfortunately, it has pretty much been downhill from there. The President that led us into Iraq, who cares more about money and business than people, who only respects science when it agrees with what he already believes, who thinks the environment is just a pool of natural resources waiting to be tapped, who is certainly not dumb but is slow to adjust and compromise is just the type of president we were afraid we were getting when he was elected.

People want a strong leader. They want to believe the man in charge knows what he is doing. They want to give him the benefit of the doubt since to think otherwise means they made a bad choice (twice) and they worry about what the future holds if they can no longer count on him.

What we have now is a President who does not seem capable of explaining his policies and when he tries, he talks to us like we are five year olds that just aren't capable of seeing the obvious truths he is presenting. We just don't seem to understand the obvious and the poor man doesn't know how to make his explanations any simpler for us. His only solution is to repeat his answer only this time he pauses between the words hoping the extra time will allow them to somehow penetrate our thick heads. He must be terribly frustrated. The country is so dense and getting worse everyday!

Why are the President's poll numbers so low? Because he has been doing a bad job and people can no longer ignore it.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

What If DP World Were French Owned?

A for profit company will, in most cases, operate in a way that benefits the owners. If management fails to do this, it is usually replaced by the board of directors or the board of directors is replaced by the share holders.

When the owners are a government who may, in some circumstances, have goals other than profit, how much can we depend on their motivations? It has been suggested that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) might deny us access to their ports or airfields if we stop the acquisition of the port contract by DP World. I believe the UAE ports and airfields are considered crucial to the war in Iraq. I haven't heard that these threats have actually come from the UAE, but it does raise concerns about allowing a government owned corporation to control an operation with national security implications. If anyone in the government thinks that there is even a possibility that the UAE might deny us access if this deal fails, that should kill the deal for sure. Better to face the problem now, then have the threat hanging over us.

If DP World wanted to make umbrellas in the US we wouldn't be having this conversation. No one would care that a government owned company were engaged in a business without national security implications. If DP World were a publicly held corporation there would still be questions, but as an international public corporation the questions would be different. Publicly held corporations may or may not always have high ethical standards, but you can generally trust them to go for the money. Even governments who have been allies for centuries can find their self interests sometimes conflict with ours (think of the French). For those who think that the objections to the DP World deal are racially motivated because DP World is an Arab company, ask people how they would feel if DP World were owned by the French government. I suspect the reaction would be just as strong. The possibility that port operations might be disrupted if we had a disagreement with the French government would be unacceptable.

I've heard the argument that a company owned by the Chinese government has been running a port in California. Instead of a 45 day review of a deal we all know is already dead, we should spend the 45 days reviewing that arrangement. If we can't undo it at this point, we should turn the security spotlight on this arrangement. Should the government prepare a contingency plan to take over operation of the port if the Chinese should try to use this company to change US policy instead of generate profits?

Again, I am not suggesting that either the UAE or Chinese companies involved here are anything but businesses trying to make a profit, but we shouldn't compromise national security just to maintain our free market rep. We also shouldn't give ourselves a potential national security problem to pay back the UAE for access to their ports and airfields. I hope that the UAE feels that our use of their airfields and ports is also in their national and regional interests. If we need to pay back the UAE, let's find another way.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

What Does A Port Operator Do?

Just what exactly will DP World (the United Arab Emirates company causing the recent contoversy) be doing at the six ports it is scheduled to take over? As is usually the case, you first hear a lot of claims from both sides and only well into the story do people start giving you the facts you need to know to have a reasoned opinion.

The opponents concentrate on the resume of the UAE and how we shouldn't trust our ports to another country. The proponents claim that security will still be under the control of the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. I believe it was Secretary Chertoff who reminded us that cargo will still be moved under the watchful eyes of the International Dock Workers. I can believe and appreciate that the dock workers are doing their part, but this is probably the first nice thing a Republican has said about a union in thirty years.

What will DP World actually be responsible for? Scheduling ships in and out of the port? Loading and unloading cargo? Seeing that containers get moved out of the port and onto their next destination? That's the impression I've gotten, but I'd like to hear their duties spelled out. Administration groupies keep insisting that security is still in the hands of the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. Those who have a problem with this deal don't understand that the ports will be just as safe with DP World. If this were a bank, would you hire a reformed crook as a teller? Even if you have the same guard at the front door?

I have to believe that it would be easier for the port operator or an employee of the port operator to out-flank the security, if they were so inclined, than you or I. Could an employee in Dubia working with an employee in New York have a better chance of getting illicit cargo into this country? Common sense says yes.

I'm still not saying this is a bad deal, but I'm tired of administration mouths acting like we are just as secure no matter who is running the port. Critics say this administration has become tone deaf, I wonder if they haven't just lost their common sense.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Payback or Payoff?

Lego Pirate ship and crewI take the administration at its word that having six major ports in the US run by a company owned by the United Arab Emirates is not a problem. It sounds like the government has done a pretty thorough job of thinking this through. But for an administration that never misses an opportunity so show how strong they are on national security, their current position seems strange.

The country and politicians from both sides of the aisle are lining up against this deal. It's a no brainer position to take. So why would the President say if the Congress votes to stop the deal he will use his FIRST veto to make sure it goes through? If he doesn't change his position and actually fights to get this deal done, I think we'll all be smelling a rat. If the President keeps fighting for the UAE to get these contracts you can a bet this is a big time payoff or payback for something. I'm not suggesting that there is anything illegal here, but the UAE must have done something REALLY BIG for the President to take such a REALLY BIG political hit.

Hmmm. Do you think that besides operating other countries' ports the UAE might have a side business operating other countries' jails?


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Monday, February 20, 2006

Mohammed Cartoons

I struggled with the cartoon issue for a while because I thought that printing cartoons that were offensive to Muslims was wrong. Since then I've listened to other opinions.

My understanding is that these cartoons were intended to make a political statement or a humorous statement, and not demean a religion. If that is true, I see no reason they shouldn't have been printed. If a political cartoon offends some people or a lot of people, so what? Political cartoons usually offend someone. If you are offended, there are many ways to express your outrage. Stop reading the publication. Send letters to the editor explaining why the material is offensive or patently incorrect or unfair. You can encourage others to boycott the publication and/or its advertisers. As you can see, none of these includes any kind of violence or threats of violence.

If Muslims in Denmark were extremely outraged, they could protest as explained above or they could emigrate to a country where freedom of speech is not the law or culture and such outrageous cartoons are not allowed. I'm not suggesting that Muslims should not be welcomed as guests or citizens of Denmark, but living in a country obligates you to some acceptance of its culture or at least some acceptance of the legal ways to change the culture or laws. Denmark is a country with free speech. If you just can't accept that, move on. It is not that hard to move from one country to another to find laws and culture that are acceptable to you. Voting with your feet is an honored tradition in the US.

The Danish Muslims who took their outrage to the Middle East are the real villains here. They created a controversy where there shouldn't have been one. The Danes did not force the cartoons to be shown in countries where they would be seen as blasphemous. While the cartoons may not have been appropriate in a Muslim country, they are acceptable in Denmark and many other countries. Even if they are outrageous.

I recently read an article where Muslims in the Middle East complained that they don't get the respect they feel they deserve. They have a culture and religion with a rich history of accomplishments that rivals any ancient religion or culture, yet no one takes them seriously. Of course, that is the heart of the problem. Other cultures have moved on. Modern societies move toward freedom, the rule of law, individual responsibility, tolerance, diversity, understanding, science and reason. Unfortunately, the out of proportion outrage of many Muslims only proves that they are not ready to join the modern world. Burning down their cities and killing their own people does nothing to gain the respect of the rest of the world. It actually isolates them even more. Burning down a McDonald's restaurant to protest a religious infraction is humorous and makes the protesters look foolish. If a martyr's reward in heaven is seventy virgins, what do you get for burning down a McDonald's? A big Mac, fries and a medium diet Coke.

Do some Muslims really believe that if anyone, anywhere breaks one of their religious laws or does something to offend them they have the right or duty to kill that person? If we gave these same rights to all religions the entire world would be at war all the time. Obviously people who believe such nonsense do not deserve respect or the deference they are being given.

I do not approve of reprinting the cartoons just to show the rioters that we can print them or to intentionally offend Muslims. I don't approve of reprinting the cartoons if their content is designed to enrage rather encourage reflection. But I think editors should reprint the cartoons that are not patently offensive to the general readership of their publication when writing stories about the rioting. An editor must decide whether or not the cartoons are truly offensive to a significant part of his/her readers. If they are offensive, don't reprint them; just report their content. But to not reprint the cartoons that are not offensive to the general population is a form of censorship imposed by a religion. In this case a religion that seems to believe it can censor the entire world. That is unacceptable.

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