Friday, April 27, 2007

Yes to Gun Control

I write in response to the reborn debate about America, violence, and its guns. The right to carry "bear arms" is written into the Constitution.
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Gun advocates hold this up as the high ground in the debate. The fight to interpret the amendment in its original intent has been highjacked by those who choose to ignore the first two clauses and focus entirely on the last two. The idea that liberal legal scholars strongly doubt that the Framers intended the right to bear arms and form a militia be transformed into the right to carry and use concealed weapons has become a lost argument.

To think that the right to bear arms is on par with the freedoms of religion and free speech is simply irrational. This re-interpretation of the Bill of Rights now protects gun owners from any kind of legislation or control and pretty much stifles all talk of Gun Control. Gun Control activists are resigned to working around the edges and congratulating themselves if small incremental changes are achieved.

No significant gun control legislation has been passed since the early 1990's. With gun control pretty thoroughly defeated, we are at the mercy of the gun lobby, the NRA, and the gun merchants who are dedicated to arming the citizens of the United States. If you want to see what arming the populace looks looks like, check Somalia, or the Sudan, and of course Iraq. America is the arms merchant for the world. We specialize in "self protection." Selling guns and munitions is one of the things we do best.

UPDATE: The following was submitted as a letter to the editor on 4/27/07.

The strongest most important solution to the problem of gun control can be summed up with these words:
"The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed."

Gun owners do not need constitutional protections to own as many guns as they wish. Gun owners need not fear that their guns will be taken away. Sportsmen, hobbyists, and NRA members of all stripes needn't wrap themselves in the Bill of Rights to own and carry guns any more than if you needed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to buy a car, a boat, or fly an airplane, all potentially dangerous but heavily regulated activities.

Guns do, however, need to be regulated by the federal government. Gun owners do need to be well trained and licensed to be able to properly and safely use their guns. Our food, our factories, our highways, and even our system of justice depend on federal and state regulation to insure the protection of all of us from potential danger. None of these regulations inhibit our life styles or demolish our freedoms. On the contrary, our lives are enhanced and much, much safer than if all these regulations were removed.

Gun Activists need to give a little, but so do the Gun Controllers. Gun Activists should be willing to give up the 2nd Amendment and submit to federal safety and licensing regulations. They need to stop complaining about "taking away our rights" and submit basic, pragmatic guarantees of safety to the non-gun owning populace. Gun Controllers should agree to allow guns to be kept, bought, and sold according to federal safety regulations.

We could of course go back to the original 18th century antiquated intent of the 2nd Amendment. Simply disband the Federal Armed Forces, let every community, every town and city form a militia for their own protection, and require every citizen buy a weapon of choice to join in the common defense.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bubble Boy

The surge isn't working, it never had a chance, it wasn't ever expected to work, it's simply the latest version of "stay the course." It's a perverse restatement of "we'll only lose if we leave." It promotes the ideology of "we have a real opportunity here to crush the terrorists once and for all" or "we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a democratic, client state for the benefit of all those in the middle east" or most realistically, "What's their oil doing under our sand?"

Glenn Greenwald -
"The "Surge" is nothing more than a crass marketing gimmick, concocted by war propagandists who have been lying to the country for the last four years about Iraq, to justify to an anti-war populace why we must continue our occupation. And while Fred Hiatt and his Extremely Serious and Sober Beltway War Supporting Comrades are too awash in desperate self-interest to see it, Americans themselves are not fooled by that tactic in the slightest."

It's the bubble speaking! When insiders start to venture outside the beltway they are assaulted by the outside world. It's just not as safe as hunkering down in the safe confines... President Bush is at least courageous enough to bring the bubble with him as he travels. Carefully selected audiences who are so carefully screened that the administration brings charges against anyone so radical as to try and protest anything the President says. (Happening in Colorado as we speak.)

Dan Froomkin -
"As it was last time, (with the failed public relations campaign to reform Social Security) Bush's Bubble may be the central problem. Bush seems to think that through sheer force of will -- and repetition -- he will convince people that his cause is just -- in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. And why does he think that? Quite possibly, because virtually everyone he talks to -- and virtually everyone he sees -- is already in his camp."

The world outside the United States views the Bubble as a dangerous threat when they aren't just raising their hands in despair at how the crazy Bubble foreign policy is making a "Mess 'O Potamia."

Tania Branigan (Guardian)-
"It is the vast majority of the people in the world - of all nationalities and faiths - against a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common apart from their identification with others who share their distorted view of the world and their idea of being part of something bigger. What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others without dialogue, without debate, through violence. And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength."

Alberto Gonzales, in his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, pretty much admits that the decisions were made "in the bubble" by "consensus judgement of the senior leadership." In Slate magazine today Dahlia Lithwick writes about the effect of these Bubble Decisions.
"Every time he's asked who made the ultimate decision here, Gonzales trots back to the fuzzy gray oracle of "senior leadership." That fits almost perfectly with Kyle Sampson's repeated claim last month that he never made a decision; he was merely the "aggregator" of everyone else's recommendations and say-sos. How gloriously mechanical: The "consensus judgments of the senior leadership" are fed to the "aggregator," who in turn passes them along to the AG who, as he claims, made a final decision without reviewing any criteria for the firing or any written document. It seems that at no point in this "process" or "project" did any human brain fire an actual neuron that triggered the message to terminate an actual U.S. attorney."

No wonder President Bush stays in his bubble! When anyone on the inside ventures out into the world and tries to interact, they are received with stunned disbelief. Folks wonder who's in charge, who's running the show, what they are doing and why. The glimpses we get into the inner workings tell us that there is much, much more going on than we'll ever find out about. The small window that has recently opened is showing the ugliness of a political ideology run amok. Refusing to testify, hiding behind executive privilege, "losing" documents, simply "forgetting," and even admitting incompetence are all techniques used to insulate the bubble. The Bubble must be maintained at all cost. The Party must be protected against impurity. Harold Meyerson said it best in yesterday's Washington Post.
""You gotta give those Republicans credit: Forced to choose between ideological purity and workable solutions to real-world problems, they know which side they're on."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tough Cheney

In a speech to the Heritage Foundation on Friday, Dick Cheney, ranted about the Democratic Party. Evidently he just can't help himself. His right wing ideology is Ultimate Truth, his Power is from on High, and only he speaks for (real) America! I guess true toughness is shown by how forcefully and aggressively hypocrisy is put on display! The highlights: (quotes are from his speech).

Democrats want to impose "the largest tax increase in American history"
Hmm... this is after the most disastrous tax CUT for the rich in history. My local tax bills have risen dramatically, government services have been diminished, and my current tax dollars are going to private war contractors. A large tax increase doesn't sound so bad after all if it increases accountability in government and causes more deliberation and planning in policy direction including war-making and disaster relief.

Democrats have earned a place in the "big spending hall of fame."
This is famous tough talk from Republicans. Part of their perceived toughness is the fact that they proclaim the same old same old as utter truth. That Cheney can actually say with a straight face that it's the Democrats who have squandered the nation's wealth is simply laughable. Scoreboard dude! Look at the pork from the past 6 years. If the Democrats are in the "hall of fame" the Republicans OWN it! 'Nuff said.

Democrats don't "fully appreciate the nature of the danger this country faces in the war on terror."
And the paranoid, neocon fantasy war in Iraq is making us safer? Spending billions of dollars just to give al Qaeda a target far away from home is making us safer? Lighting a match and fanning the flame of the Middle East cauldron is better for the world? Deposing a 2-bit dictator makes the whole thing worth it?

Democrats have given in to "the far left wing" with actions that "have moved from the merely inconsistent to the irresponsible."
So according to ALL the polls a pretty good MAJORITY of the American people are now members of the far left wing. Hurray! Of course, the Republicans always show how tough they are by taking a radical right position just so they can fight out of the corner it puts them in. These tough guys like to fight, call names, and accuse everyone else of being "leftist."

What's more irresponsible than the President telling Congressional Democrats to meet at the White House to "negotiate" the war funding, but not to bother with any proposals because he will veto anything that doesn't give him what he wants. How much more hypocrisy can there be more than, "It's the Democrats' fault that the war funding bill is in trouble because THEY are playing politics!"

And Finally this: "Americans are entitled to question whether the endlessly shifting positions he and others are taking are reflections of principle or partisanship and blind opposition to the president."
Holy smoke where to begin.... Only Republican presidents can endlessly shift positions, obfuscate, deceive, and play politics as they govern. This is just the way good Republicans behave. It's the party of the party, by the party, and for the party. The Democratic Party's "blind opposition" is a position they've been forced to be in because of the blatant partisanship of THE REPUBLICAN PARTY! If the Democrats choose to use oversight, or stand up to the bully in the pulpit, they are considered by Republicans to be WAY out of line. The only partisanship that exists is in opposition to The Republican Party. That Republicans continue to pursue this reckless Anti-American partisan rhetoric is unbelievable. That they really consider the right wing fanaticism of Dick Cheney as a worthy representation of party policy is simply hard to believe. Is this the "last throes" of Dick Cheney? Is he the great "liberator?"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Decider?

Playing politics is just getting harder and harder! We've just heard about the extended deployments of the troops in Iraq from 12 to 15 months... Wait a minute! Didn't President Bush just say before he went on vacation that
"If Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-May ... Some of our forces now deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq may need to be extended, because other units are not ready to take their places."
How will he blame Democrats now? It seems that some "inconsiderate person" (Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates' words) leaked the news early. Ah the merits of investigative journalism. This example once again demonstrates that President Bush simply can't govern with any kind of competence and will continue playing politics under the delusion that he is "the decider."

In further news, It just came to light that the administration wants to appoint a "War Czar" to oversee the war and give directions and policy guidance to both the Defense Department and the State Department. What folly! Already the three most competent candidates have refused the job because as one candidate, retired Marine General John J. 'Jack' Sheehan, said,
"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going."
Indeed, the job is already filled by the commander in chief and the national security advisor, with a large assist by Vice President Cheney. Gee, if it really is going to come to this would Bush please appoint someone to run the country?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More Scandals

So the latest scandal is about the use of backchannel email accounts to conduct "official" business off the record and hidden from view. Emails back and forth from Jack Abramoff to the White House, mysterious emails from Senator Dominici to "kr" and messages to US attorneys around the country inquiring about "voter fraud cases" are now coming to light.

What are all these political scandals really about? Simply that the Bush is the President of the Republican Party. In his administration there is no difference between official government business and Republican Party business. His government is predicated on the fact that all loyal Republicans are equal and that what is good for the Republican Party IS what's best for America. All others are enemies of the state and to be resisted and disparaged at every opportunity. All of the scandals being uncovered are a result of this one party system. As Garrison Keillor says today in Salon,
"The Current Occupant, ... has done violence to the Constitution and flown in the face of reality. He invades a country and allows neocon ideologues to play at colonialism until the country has descended into chaos and thereby costs the lives of young Americans who had other plans than to be blown up in a war whose purpose now is forgotten. And then he wraps himself in Old Glory and dares you to say otherwise. We are now three-quarters of the way through the Attention Deficit Administration and who knows what dark surprises remain?"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Name Calling (Updated below)

The DNR has reached new lows in journalism this morning with a tawdry editorial about a favorite villain of the Radical Right Wing, Alger Hiss. In a short segment of Meet the Press on Sunday, it was mentioned that the stepson of Alger Hiss, Timothy Hopson, was finally speaking out in the family's fight to clear his step-father's name. Let's see, the son of Alger Hiss speaking up to clear his father, and now this step-son? Why in the world would it seem important editorially to disparage these efforts in print? True or not, it seems to show the paranoid side of the editor who thinks that it's still a debate (and shouldn't be) and simply takes it as an opportunity to do some really important name calling.

It's "tough" to stand up and call someone a derogatory term. The editor has often railed against those who are "soft" on one issue or another by nailing them as "the PC crowd." Those folks who would insist on good manners, on being a respectful, loyal opposition, are summarily dismissed as "liberal." Let's see... if I really wanted to push a Right Winger's button I'd call him a "liberal." Nothing could infuriate him more that being accused of being "open to new behavior or opinions.." or "favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms." That's right folks, being "tough" means that name calling, play-ground taunts, disrespect for opposing viewpoints, and "my way or the highway" are all in the name of "justice for all."

An example in the "real" news this morning is much more enlightening on this issue than the example picked by the editor. Don Imus is in hot water and has been suspended by MSNBC for referring to the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team in a derogatory manner. He used blatantly racial language to describe how they looked. For a "real" white guy, he was just echoing what "most" white guys say around the water cooler. On MSNBC he was quoted as saying:
"people should relax and not worry about 'some idiot comment meant to be amusing.' "
C'mon guys, it was a JOKE! REALLY! These responses by Mr. Imus were soon turned into mortified apologies and real humiliation after it was shown to him that these were real insults to real kids. Mr. Imus has been suspended for two weeks.

Mr. Imus should be fired. Reducing editorial commentary to racial epithets and insults should be grounds for dismissal. Our DNR editor should be fired for also reducing the quality of our editorial page to simple name-calling. Vain and pointless political rants should go on the comment section of blog somewhere. Go find a playground and start trash-talking some kid. Go be tough. I'd welcome the chance to respond to real issues important to the community and to the world at large, not just carefully selected Right Wing "wedge" issues. I'd welcome a liberal exchange of views
"concerned mainly with broadening a person's general knowledge and experience,"- Webster's
in the Forum each day rather than continually being invited to read amateurish, unprofessional, and clumsy, faux "tough" prose passing for journalistic competence.


Don Imus was fired. :)

Still waiting to hear about the DNR editor who thinks Imus was wrong but certainly not because of the objections of Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson. It was interesting to hear him twist in the wind to try and make a comment about this in today's (April 14th) editorial.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Inerrancy and Beliefs

Peter Baker writes a great article today in the Washington Post, parsing President Bush's comments at yesterday's press conference. My take follows: (all the quotes are from President Bush.)
"My main job is to protect the people, and I firmly believe that if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here."

See yesterday's blog about the Iraq war being a state-of-the-art training ground for a whole new lethal generation of al-Qaeda fighters.
"I know there are some who have basically said it is impossible to succeed. I strongly disagree with those people. I believe not only can we succeed, I know we must succeed."

Why will we succeed? Because we have to! How will we succeed? Because I believe we will! There is no statesmanship in this approach and little competence. A fundamentalist belief system like this is dependent upon believing in the power and inerrancy of the doctrine. As such, it's immune to any conflicting facts, opinions, arguments, or to reason.
"Congress shouldn't tell generals how to run the war,"

..especially since he had to fire a bunch of them to find one that would finally do what he was told. Let's hear from all the former "generals" who tried to "run the war."
"Congress should not shortchange our military. Congress should not use an emergency war-spending measure as a vehicle to put pet spending projects on that have nothing to do with the war."

And Bush shouldn't use "emergency war-spending" measures to fund an endless war. He can't put it in the budget, he'd have to defend it. He can't tell us how much it will really cost, it would be astoundingly expensive. And Bush should not short-change our military by sending them before they are ready, or sending them injured, or sending them to hospitals that aren't ready to take care of them.
"Congress's failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines,"

Last year amid little fanfare, the president didn't sign the emergency appropriations bill until JULY 15. So much for a pressing need. Right after he vilified Congress for taking off for vacation before putting this emergency bill on his desk, he took off for his ranch in Texas for .... vacation. Who's playing politics now?
"You're going to find that the White House and the Hill are going to work in close collaboration,"

Sure Bush has his die-hard Republican minority, but let's check into who disagrees behind the scenes. Oh yeah, don't forget to mention the bipartisan concern about the Gonzales 8 and the politicization of the Government...and the isolation of the White House from former political allies.

Speaking of politicization, Ruth Marcus hit the nail on the head today by writing:
If your faith is more in the operations of the private sector than in the capacity of government, if you have scant commitment to the laws you are pledged to enforce, if you see government less as a trust to be administered than a force to be used for the benefit of political and ideological allies, then this kind of behavior is the inevitable result.

In short, if you identify so completely with the foxes, it's no wonder that you end up with a henhouse that is so thoroughly, tragically trashed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rose Colored Glasses

Disingenuous - not candid or sincere, typically pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.

This must surely be the case with John McCain and Mike Pence. Neither one of these smart, passionate Republicans can possibly be so ignorant of the truth about the reality in Baghdad outsite the green zone. What do they know or are they really, literally looking at Iraq through Rose Colored Glasses. This was "See no Evil," and "Hear no Evil," on tour in the markets of Baghdad as reported by the New York Times this morning.

Of course, security is important for any high ranking government official, an accepted reality since the '60's but to venture out in to Shorja to find
"evidence that the new security plan for the city is working,"
100 soldiers in armored Humvees — the equivalent of an entire company — and attack helicopters circled overhead,
surely means that somebody knows something that they don't want us to know. When this kind of security is needed to observe what Mike Pence called,
"a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime"
he must not be telling us really what he sees. Again from the Times:
The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit.
In their follow-up story on McCain's and Pence's visit to the market place, The Times reporters interviewed several merchants.
“What are they talking about?” Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. “The security procedures were abnormal!”

“They paralyzed the market when they came,” Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. “This was only for the media.”

He added, “This will not change anything.”
So according to Pence and McClain, supported by many in the New Republican Party, we are to believe that the situation is improving, and progress is being made towards Winning the endless War in Iraq. Representative Pence and Senator McClain, can I borrow your Rose Colored Glasses? I'd like to visit New Orleans.

Monday, April 2, 2007


Item from Salon magazine today: The myth that has come down from many supporters of the WAR that "we have to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" is taking a battering. Tom Grieve reports to day,
"As the New York Times reports this morning, a "new generation" of al-Qaida leaders has "emerged" under the control of Osama bin Laden, which has led to "surprise and dismay within United States intelligence agencies about the group's ability to rebound from" America's post-9/11 offensive.
What does that have to do with the war in Iraq? Well, not much, except for this:
"Experts ... believe the fighting in Iraq will produce future Qaeda leaders," the Times reports. Robert Richer, a former associate director of operations for the CIA, puts this fine point on the matter: "The jihadis returning from Iraq are far more capable than the mujahedeen who fought the Soviets ever were. They have been fighting the best military in the world, with the best technology and tactics."
Translation: We're fighting them in Iraq so that we can fight them again somewhere else.
The discouraging thing, as always, is finding out that we are spending almost a trillion dollars, giving competent government a bad name, losing our credibility as a nation, all in the name of supporting policies based on myths and radical belief systems. Let this be a lesson to us for a long time. Politics is important, but America is more important. In the coming Presidential election marathon, let's try and identify those leaders who are strong AND compassionate, intelligent AND politically savvy, pragmatic AND idealistic. Above all, let's find those candidates who show real leadership qualities and a willingness to make our government work WELL, for ALL of us.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


(A truncated version of this article was submitted to the DNR as a letter to the editor.)

In response to the editorial "The 'I' Word - What is Sen. Hagel Saying?" on Saturday, March 31. I quote Elizabeth Holtzman, former four-term member of Congress in an article published in the Washington Spectator on November 15, 2006.
"Impeachment is an essential tool for preserving Democracy."
The question of impeachment does not rest on "high crimes and misdemeanors" only, but also to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States; preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States; and take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

In addition, "high crimes and misdemeanors" are not limited only to criminal acts, but also applies to conduct that is "a grave abuse of power or a subversion of the Constitution."

In response to the editor's question,
And for what reason does Mr. Hagel, supposedly pondering a run at the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, hold out the possibility of President Bush’s impeachment? Which “high crimes and misdemeanors” does he cite? Well, none really. Instead, he accuses the president of not being “accountable,” either to Congress or to the American people.
these would be Articles of Impeachment against President Bush:
1. Deceiving Congress and the people in taking the country to war in Iraq.
2. Directing an illegal domestic wiretapping program and other surveillance of Americans.
3. Permitting and condoning the use of torture or cruel treatment of detainees.
4. Showing reckless indifference to human life in the face of Hurricane Katrina, in inadequately equipping U.S. Soldiers, and insufficiently planning for the occupation of Iraq.
5. Covering up his war deceptions with the leak of misleading classified information, an act that became entangled with the outing of a CIA agent, a possible crime.