Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Republican Game UPDATED

Blogger Chris L. left a comment at Think Progress yesterday responding to the House Republicans voting 100% against the stimulus package:

This was a dumb move by congressional republicans. For one, they now have to hope like hell that the economy gets worse. If it turns around for any reason, they will look like fools. Two, they just showed the new president that no matter how much he tries to reach across the aisle, they will still vote lockstep together to try and block anything he does. And three, they sent the message loud and clear to not strip out any provisions from any bill next time, because they will still vote against it.

So this is the Republican game. In a sense you can't blame them. They've always played the ideological "lock step" political strategy; strength in numbers; "Us against Them;" divide and conquer. Give them credit, they've gone "all in."

The House Republicans now stand squarely against the economic stimulus or government spending on domestic or social programs, they stand strongly together in absolute [100%] opposition to any plan brought to them by President Obama, and they stand bold and ready to accept concessions and the respect of the majority without giving back ANY support. They've got to hope that the President fails, they've got to hope that the economy deteriorates even further, but most of all they have to hope that that their conservative ideological policy solutions will suddenly be viewed as the CURE instead of the DISEASE!

I've started a list. Here are some of the programs and ideas the Republicans are now on record as being solidly against. Please feel free to add more.... and more. I'll be back to update the list often, adding links for further research as time allows. We begin:

Stuff Republicans are against:

  1. Arts agencies, local orchestras, local symphonies, artists, and musicians.
  2. Health Care for Children
  3. Rebuilding infrastructure
  4. STD and AIDS prevention
  5. Preventive Health Care
  6. Birth Control and family planning
  7. Health and well being of the working population
  8. Mass Transit and funding for railways
  9. Maintenance of the Mall, and the surrounding buildings.
  10. Health Insurance Programs for the Poor and for Legal Immigrants
  11. Pell Grants for College Students
  12. Medicaid Funding
  13. Funding for Education
Just to be fair, a second list:

Stuff Republicans are for:
  1. Tax Cuts
  2. More Tax Cuts
UPDATE: This great comment from Glenn Greenwald:

This is what happens every single time: the Democrats do everything possible to "accommodate" the Republican position and then get attacked anyway (they voted in large numbers for the Iraq War in and then got attacked for being soft on Terror in 2002; they voted for virtually every Bush "Terrorism" policy and the same thing happened, etc.). Here, they did everything possible to change their bill to please Republicans and nothing is happening except full-scale GOP opposition accompanied by a constant barrage of GOP attacks against them as big-spending, reckless, wealth-transferring liberals.

Ultimately, the success of this program will be measured by whether it produces successful results, so why shouldn't Democrats use their majority to enact the policy they think is most likely to achieve that? That's true on this issue and in general.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who's the 'Fraidy Cat? Updated

Reading Michelle Malkin's passionate advocacy of totalitarianism in her January 22 column printed in the Daily News Record this morning was riveting. First, calling upon all the fears that she can muster, she compares the detainees in Guantanamo to "petty thieves or drug dealers."

Prosecuting suspected terrorists like petty thieves or drug dealers is fraught with peril.

Her assumption, of course, is that Gitmo closes, all of the inmates are herded to the airport, given one way tickets to Pennsylvania and are told to please report to the nearest correction facility for incarceration. This of course is only if they don't make bail posted of course by unnamed terrorist sympathizers within the US.

It gets worse, read on....Here she is, proclaiming al-Qaida's genius and complete invincibility in the face of American jurisprudence.

Confiscated al-Qaida training manuals have revealed that recruits are instructed in how to manipulate the Western legal system if they are captured.

Helpless we are. Powerless in the face of these super-powered, fearsome captives. Oh what shall we do? Of course, we'll just have to torture them! Michelle goes on:

"Other rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment — the right to subpoena witnesses and compel them to testify, the right to an attorney — can interfere with interrogations of captured suspected al-Qaida agents."

To finish her rant, she declares her fear that:
"the prosecutions[will] run amok... the jihadists [will] wreak bloody havoc from behind bars.... and Gitmo recidivists [will] wage war anew when released."

So, to review:
• Al-Qaida is much smarter and more intelligent than our own security and law-enforcement agencies.
• Our solution to the Guantanamo closing is to set them free or put them in jail with non-violent offenders and this is just a horrible idea.
• The Constitution MUST be set aside to deal with these despicable folk. They must be tortured and kept away from the reach of the "rule of law!"

Are we afraid yet? Are we afraid enough to give up on our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and our legal system? Are we afraid enough to lose trust in our prison system? [The American prison system is only the best, most high tech system, by far, in the world. There are LOTS of mean, despicable, violent criminals safely locked away therein.]

Most of all are we as afraid as Michelle Malkin is? To be this paranoid and this shrill, the level of fear felt by the writer must be off the charts. Has a more eloquent and impassioned plea for TOTALITARIANISM ever been made?

UPDATE 1/29/09 - Jon Stewart nails it! Thanks Anonymous.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who's in Charge of the Republican Party now?

Who's really in charge of the Republican Party? To paraphrase the house minority leader, John Boehner, "Oh, My, God!" Folks, it's Rush Limbaugh!! Have you checked the voting in Congress today for the Timothy Geithner confirmation as Treasury Secretary? Evidently, according to Politico, right wing talk radio, led by himself truly, flooded Capital Hill with phone calls and messages criticizing the Giethner nomination.

Rush Limbaugh said earlier this month: “Timothy Geithner. I can't let this go. He's the Treasury secretary nominee, and he didn't pay taxes. … This is the drive-by [mainstream media] sentiment: … Geithner is a genius — he's going to save the economy of the entire world. So what if he doesn't pay his taxes? These are serious times. We need the man!"

The final tally, 60 - 34, wasn't close, but it was a step in the campaign to embarass the new president and wage partisan warfare instead of honestly trying to solve the problems that face us.

It's encouraging to see the new Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, stand tall and point out that spending on infrastructure DOES actually need labor and DOES actually put people to work. It's nice to see the media point blank calling out Republican partisans who STILL try to make the case that corporate tax cuts produce more jobs than government spending. [source]

Moody’s has calculated that “with the stimulus, there will be 4 million more jobs and the jobless rate will be more than 2 percentage points lower by the end of 2010 than [it would be] without any fiscal stimulus.” An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, meanwhile, found that infrastructure investment creates more than 60,000 jobs for every $1 billion spent, versus just 10,000 jobs for every billion spent on a corporate tax cut.

It's pretty well known that the Republican version of bipartisanship is "join us or forget it." The stonewalling is comical, insidious, and dangerous to America. The sniping is coming in fast and furious with the constant refrain being to stop Obama recovery plan at all cost. Still bullying, still obstructing, even John McCain voted against Geithner. Taking cues from Rush Limbaugh, [an entertainer, for gosh sakes!], by ranting, crying, and whining all the while unapologetically obstructing every bit of legislation offered by the administration just to embarrass them?? Could their motives any more transparent? How can anyone miss their true intent? Do everything in their power to make sure Obama fails, so Republicans will have a chance in the next election. Do they know that we're in a crisis and that there are some real needs that must be addressed?

This makes me cuss. Something I don't do unless it's important. It's very important for Mr. Obama to begin to understand and play hardball. Every time he caves, Republicans ask for even more. He needs to win concessions FROM them, not just hand concessions TO them. I'm stewing here.....

Need your help here. Put Rush in his place.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Noise Machine to Republicans, "Wimps!"

Timmy Geithner is up in front of Congress today getting grilled about being a "serial tax evader." Essentially, the Right Wing Noise Machine in this case, Michelle Malkin and Newt Gingerich, is calling on the Republican members of Congress to not do the "lemming dance" and stand up an just say no! They are essentially calling the Republicans "wimps" if they let this nomination slide.

Here's hoping the Democrats don't get all cowed and intimidated by being called "wimps" AGAIN. It's just noise, and it's the way the Republicans play politics by ignoring their own foibles and felonies. I say just ignore 'em and move on. They aren't really that concerned about Mr. Geithner. He's demonstrated his worthiness for the job and is widely recognized as one of the few who differed with Henry Paulson in his estimation of the economy last year.

My larger concern is that the Republicans are executing a strategy for the next election cycle. It is in their best interest as a Party out of power to do all they can to obstruct the majority at every turn. If Obama fails, Republicans THINK they win. Let's all watch and see just what their justifications are for blocking future legislation. I think you'll see lots of creative rationalizations. It'll be fun shining the light on their machinations. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Blessing for America

Here's the transcript of the Blessing spoken by Bishop Gene Robinson on Saturday at the beginning of the Inauguration Concerts. It was not televised by HBO. Too bad. It's a great statement for all Americans:

“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears – tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger – anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Farewell, Mr. Bush

It was a powerful, poignant yet self-serving farewell address. He is the outgoing President of the United States, it was supposed to be a strong and reflective speech. Accomplishments were cited. Mr. Bush acknowledged that there were some things he would have done differently. He also took credit for making tough decisions that he proudly stated were with the best interests of America at heart. His proudest accomplishment, protecting us from another terror attack, was a highlight of the speech and the list of presidential actions that were taken against terrorism were listed. Mr. Bush also cited his response to the financial crisis, and his belief in the clear line between good and evil as defining aspects of his administration.

So, in the end, we get the same Bush that we've heard for lo these eight years. He's the decider. Unfortunately, each time our country reached a crisis point, the decisions were delayed until after the damage was done. The financial crisis could have been averted. Firing all the watchdogs, scrapping regulations, and fanning the flames of greed with radical capitalist fiscal policy decisions brought us to the brink. Mr. Bush's "decisive action" was to hand the robber barons who were largely responsible for the debacle a blank check... for 700 BILLION dollars. Just like Katrina, the damage had been done, the decision to save the economy came much too late.

As for good and evil, this theological dilemma that has caused the rise and demise of religions since the dawn of time is not a good way to run a country. It's a good way to run a country into the ground. The problem is not that everyone is for the Good and against the Evil, it's who gets to choose who and what is Evil and Good. Couple this belief with the "you're either with us or against us," and you've got the makings of a totalitarian state, bent on the destruction of it's enemies, both within and without.

So that leaves us with just one thing left that we all agree on. Seven and a half years of no terrorist attacks. That's it. No bragging or bravado this time, no chutzpah just a clear, unequivocal statement of fact. ONE single accomplishment that is recognized as significant by EVERYONE. The sigh of relief in this statement was figurative. It was very much like, "I kept us safe. Let's see if the next guy can." This is my only criticism of this very important and very significant fact. I along with every American citizen am very grateful that we have not been attacked again, but it seems that Mr. Bush has hung his star on the fact that he kept us safe and has, in effect, dared the next guy to match his success. He thinks his legacy will be assured if a terror attack happens on Mr. Obama's watch! He's dared us. He's looked us in the eye and flatly stated that his policies have kept us safe. If we don't continue the policies he began we won't be safe. He's staked his reputation on the idea that if a terror attack doesn't come in the next four to eight years, he will indeed be dubbed a failure by history. That's unreal....

So, in the end, we get the same Bush that we've heard for lo these eight years. He's the decider. But he decides to do what his advisors tell him to do. He handed the country to a group of neo-cons with a radical foreign policy agenda and we have two wars, millions of casualties, and a Three Trillion dollar bill to pay someday. He handed the economy to radical Laissez-faire supply siders and we've got an economy that's in the tank, sunk in a morass of a radical, deregulated, fiscal policy that will give us Trillion dollar deficits into the foreseeable future. He handed FEMA to Mr. Brown and we have an ethnically cleansed New Orleans that is still trying to get the help that was promised to rebuild the levee system and restore the outer banks before the next storm hits.

The Farewell Address showed Mr. Bush as a man who was, and in many ways still is, unready for the mantle of the presidency. Every crisis and every "accomplishment" showed his inability to respond with any kind of authority. He has been a classic "know nothing." He was not ready for the office and never bothered to bone up on any of the history that his administration would affect so greatly. Yes he was the decider, but he was also the man at the top and ultimately responsible for the great tragedies that have occurred on his watch. I felt sorry for him, but I had to watch him go. Farewell, Mr. Bush.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

BoilerPlates... and Corrections

The editor talks about "boilerplate" solutions to our economic problems in his op-ed in the Daily News Record this morning. This writer has kindly given us a primer in the standard conservative boilerplate positions. I commend the author for clarity and simplicity. However.....


I am appalled at Mr. Obama’s recent statement that “only government can solve this crisis.”

Get the quote right. It's "only government can solve this crisis [in the short term]" Relax we already know that Obama's not a socialist.

You and the Democrats helped create this mess when you took control of Congress in the 2006 mid-term election. The economy was growing the previous 54 months.

The democrats participated in republican-style bipartisanship [we'll work with you if you do it our way] as they meekly went along with the "less government, tax cut, soak the poor, feed the rich" Republican Congress of 2000-2006. The freight train was careening down the hill and nothing the '06 Congress tried to do could stop it from coming off the track. [Obstructionism from the Republicans didn't help.]

On the Jan. 11 edition of This Week, he said, “everyone must sacrifice.” Many already have, Mr. Obama: higher taxes, job losses, and so-called bailouts.

"Everyone must [continue] to sacrifice" This recession is only about half done. There's more yet to come. We've already sacrificed enough? And you're advocating more of the same?

In a free-market economy, companies succeed and fail. Trying to stop the free market process in the name of “economic stimulus” is nothing more than the expansion of government at the expense of taxpayers.

No one is trying to stop the "Free Market" The free market has stopped itself. The pain we're feeling is because the free market is failing. Hooverites advocate self-correction with it's corresponding cost in pain to society. Send them to the poor houses and prisons, let them face bankruptcy, unemployment, and a higher crime rate as poverty increases....

Less government and lower taxes are the only things that make recovery possible.

Less government and lower taxes HELPED CAUSE this economic collapse.. Let me say that again. LESS GOVERNMENT [little or no regulation on very complex, high profit, high risk, monetary adventurism] and lower taxes [tax cuts implemented by the Bush Administration are responsible for 42% of the current deficit] helped cause this economic collapse.

One only needs to look at the FDR administration to see that Mr. Obama’s plan, the new New Deal, only creates more debt for our grandchildren.

The FDR administration [4 terms] provided leadership through the two defining historical moments of the 20th century, the depression and WWII. The success of the American dream, our economy, and our world class wealth and lifestyle, when compared to the rest of the world, is a blessing and nothing but a history of success.

Piling debt on our grandchildren is what we do. If you insist on placing blame consider the 128 Billion surplus Mr. Bush inherited then consider 500 Billion deficit that Mr. Obama will inherit, not to mention the economic conditions that will force him to raise the deficit to twice that or more.

You are for "less government and lower taxes." So let's see, we've got to cut education, transportation, energy development, health care, infrastructure repair and maintenance, and environmental protection. Oh, and let's not forget the the one point on which we agree. We'll have to add the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, Blackwater, the Pentagon and the rest of the military industrial complex to your list of "less government and lower taxes." Are you really ready for what you are wishing for?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Time for Health Care Reform

A new report released today by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association reports that by reforming healthcare a major boost can also be given to the economy. Millions of new jobs will be created and the economy would be infused with millions of dollars in revenue. Their plan calls for the existing Medicare system to be expanded to cover all Americans.

Specifics listed in the report look like this:

1. Create 2,613,495 million new permanent good-paying jobs (slightly exceeding the number of jobs lost in 2008) -- and jobs that are not easily shipped overseas

2. Boost the economy with $317 billion in increased business and public revenues

3. Add $100 billion in employee compensation

4. Infuse public budgets with $44 billion in new tax revenues

Congressman John Conyers will be introducing bill HR 676 in the 111th Congress. Please join me in asking Congressman Bob Goodlatte to join Mr. Conyers as a cosponsor to the bill and to find additional sponsors both in the house and in the Senate.

Tom Daschle, the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, has indicated his support of this single-payer health care system which would also include health insurance corporations. "HR 676 would implement a sustainable, fair, and efficient solution to the healthcare crisis as well as providing economic stimulus."


Monday, January 12, 2009

In Fairness, the Card Check

Blogger "flyonthewall" offers a fine rebuttal to an Op-Ed in today's Daily News Record. The union busting stance of the editors is well-known and has been written about quite often as the vote in Congress concerning the The Employee Free Choice Act gets closer to a vote.

The Op-Ed writer, Julia Ciarlo Hammond, "is state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, Virginia’s leading small business association," and as such is a fervent supporter of the right to work laws, and very much against unions generally. Her point of view supports the notion that unions are "bad for business" and are essentially undemocratic, and don't do as well in preserving the rights of workers as businesses themselves do. Her use of buzz words and catch phrases continues the right wing onslaught against unions in their obvious goal of laying them low, forever.

[I recommend reading the Op-Ed before you dive into this rebuttal.] Here's Fly:

This op-ed lacks links to the relevant information and is misleading at least. I just don't see where the secret ballot is being removed from the current National Labor Relations Act. If someone has the facts to show differently, please provide that information.

"Struggling", "family-owned", "union bosses and their friends in Congress", "persuading", "dictate wages and benefits", "union intimidation", "stay in business", and quite a few other words are simple buzzwords to coerce and intimidate, just what some employers may do to employees who would like to be represented by a union. A fact check would reveal this occurs, just as a fact check would reveal that some union members may try to persuade.

Check the NLRB website for cases of "unfair labor practice" charges against both employers and unions. This occurs now under current regulations. This new amendment would increase penalties for both employers and unions for these unfair labor charges. It goes both ways and not more so to the employer. The NLRA does not include coverage for all workers. The public needs an education of labor laws and we are seeing "shouting" here, as Colin Powell would say.

Shout all you like, but provide the laws, regulations, rules, and policies to back up your shouting, otherwise what you say is irrelevant to those who are informed and misleading to those who simply listen to those who "shout" loud enough and long enough to make them believe what someone says is indeed true. If you simply hate unions, that is fine, but back up what you are shouting by pointing everyone to relevant information and facts.

This woefully misnamed bill would replace secret ballots with a process known as card check.

This is woefully a misleading statement. According to the current regulations Sec 108.18 "Investigation of petition", a "petition" or "signed cards" must be presented to the NLRB. Does the proposed Employee Free Choice Act remove this "investigation"? I don't see it being removed, as the new amendment states "the Board shall investigate the petition." Employees must sign their names and will be verified, along with many other requirements of this "investigation". There will be a "card check" for validity regardless if less than a majority present a petition or signed cards.

The current regulations require that at least 30% of the employees must sign a petition or card to trigger an "investigation of petition". The investigation will determine validity of signatures, along with other requirements of the NLRA before an election is determined appropriate. If the investigation meets the requirements of the National Labor Relations Act, a secret ballot will take place. Challenges to the election may take place and hearings may be held. Read the regulations and you will see there is a process that must be followed, offering appeals and many other obstacles to overcome.

With all the buzzwords in this op-ed, it is being made to appear that if a signed petition or cards are presented that show a majority, it is an automatic determination that a union will be certified. This is not true and the petition or signed cards of the majority must face scrutiny just as a petition or signed cards of 50% or more as evidenced in section 7 of the new amendment.

The current proposed Employee Free Choice Act amendment states "notwithstanding any other provision of this section", keeps in force the current regulations for an "Investigation of petition" and a secret ballot if less than a majority sign a petition or card. All this amendment does is remove the secret ballot if a majority have presented a signed petition or cards that must pass "Investigation of petition" under the current act and is simple common sense. Why hold a secret ballot when clearly a majority have already passed muster under the current "Investigation of petition" and a majority has already been determined?

Once the union had enough signatures, contract negotiations would begin.

This is a misleading statement. It should read Once the union had enough signatures, the National Labor Relations "Board shall investigate the petition" and verify "the validity of signed authorizations designating bargaining representatives," to be determined under section 7 of the new amendment by the NLRB for "investigation of petition", and then "shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a)" if "a majority of employees in a unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining wish to be represented by an individual or labor organization for such purposes". The majority will be investigated and not simply assumed to be a majority.

The NLRA protects both employers and employees, yet this op-ed seems to imply differently with buzzwords attacking only unions and not employers, who also "persuade" employees by coercing, harassing, and intimidating, with threats to their livelihood by making threats to close down or fire employees. You will see many cases of this at the NLRB website and many employees returned to employment under order of the NLRB. I can see employer concerns and I give no credibility or am willing to listen to anyone who is so one sided and does not see that some things go both ways, such as being "persuaded" by big business bosses and their friends in Congress. See how them buzzwords work both ways, something this op-ed lacks. Can anyone back up what this op-ed implies, as I just don't see it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

As the Inauguration Approaches

I saw a prosperous America, at peace, and economically sound before Mr. Bush took office. The military, the constitution and New Orleans were still intact and the deficit was.... oops, the surplus was 128 billion.

I see a large unpaid bill, a government in a politicized, dysfunctional heap and American honor and dignity in tatters. I see an economy that grew at a record pace for the wealthy but not so much for the rest of us.

I see a 38.1 percent decline in the stock market, I see 3.78 million lost manufacturing jobs, I see a jump of 2.7% in the jobless rate, I see a DROP in the median household income since 2000.

I see an infrastructure that is neglected and fraying, I see and expensive, expansive, illegal conquest of Iraq whose cost has far exceeded it's expectations not even counting the famous unintended consequences.

I see human rights abuses, the disregard of the rule of law, the suspension of habeas corpus, the cruel and inhuman treatment of suspected terrorists, and official sanction of torture.

I see and visit an ethnically cleansed New Orleans where the pretty-well off are fine and back in their homes but where more than 200,000 families and former citizens were forced to relocate all over the country against their wishes.

I see how difficult it will be for the NEXT GENERATION to try and dig ourselves out of this hole.

I see the need for powerful new leadership for the economy, for domestic policy and for foreign policy.

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holy War

It's holy war. Both sides are right. Both sides are wrong. Emotional, extreme responses to horrible cruelty, multiplied by the ravages of history. Both sides are mired in who did what to whom and when. Both sides say they won't stop until the other side stops.

The most powerful, but most unpopular player teaches the lesser a lesson, after locking them up behind concrete barriers where there is no safe haven. The vengeful underdog only needs to continue living to be victorious. Symbolic revenge missions are undertaken, casualties ensue. The powerful becomes more and more vengeful, unpopular, and impotent with every passing moment. The underdog wins more and more support against the powerful. Self-Defense, revenge, retaliation.......

Why is it self-defense for one side and terrorism for the other? Why does this equation work forwards and backwards? Are they all now blind and toothless? Are they deaf too? Both sides are now behaving as terrorist states. From Anna in Jordan:

.....the stated purpose of the attack [by Israel] is to drive out Hamas,
i.e. to kill anyone in Hamas and scare the rest into turning against 
Hamas. Not only does this tactic not work (brutality fosters
 violence), but it clearly fits the definition of terrorism: unlawful
 violence intended to frighten or coerce a people or government in
order to achieve a political or ideological agenda. Israel is 
operating as a terrorist state in the true sense of the word. 

Hamas is also a terrorist organization by this definition, so it would 
be easy to simplify the conflict as "an endless cycle of violence"
were there no historical context. But there is a context, and there 
are alternatives.

From the Dreyfus Report at The Nation:

As I've written in this space earlier, the outcome of Israel's action is likely to be to strengthen, not weaken, Hamas. It will also have the following collateral effects: it will undermine the moderate wing of the Palestinian movement, perhaps fatally. It will weaken the government of Egypt, boosting the power of the radical-right Muslim Brotherhood there, to the point where Egypt's regime could collapse, with incalculable consequences. It will boost radicalism across the region, especially its Islamist variant, in Lebanon and Iraq in particular, and help Iran gain traction among otherwise unreceptive Arab populations.

Both sides ARE blind. Both sides can't hear. No one can find fault with BOTH parties.

Robert Sheer:

While the Hamas rocket attacks are reprehensible, they are also an ineffectual challenge to Israel's enormous security apparatus, and the severity of Israel's response to them is counterproductive. Clearly, the very existence of Israel is not now, nor has it ever been, seriously challenged by anything the Palestinians did.

The high moral claim of the Israeli occupation rests not on the objective reality of a Palestinian threat to Israel's survival, but rather on the non sequitur cry that "never again" should harm come to Jews as it did in Central Europe seven decades ago.

The basic argument is that Palestinian terrorists represented by Hamas are given to an irrational hatred of Jews so profound that it invalidates their movement, even when they win elections. That was not the view of the Israeli security service when it earlier supported Hamas as the alternative to the then dreaded PLO.

Where are the voices that reflect the uncompromising morality of Einstein's generation of Jewish intellectuals willing to acknowledge fault and humanity on both sides of the political equation?

David Waas:

This war is wrong because it cannot achieve peace for Palestinians and Israelis. It is morally wrong because the persons who are suffering are innocent of any crime. It is wrong because it is creating more hatred and greater determination on the part of both peoples to do harm to each other. The war is also unnecessary, cruel, and cynical -- a war that could have been avoided by courageous leadership.

There is always a Human Face to the suffering. These are the victims. Leadership is needed NOW to stop this conflict. Voices of reason must be found to silence those bent on extremism. I weep.

[note: I did try and find some reports of Israeli civilian casualties and while there have been many, the ratio is now nearly 200 Gazans to each Israeli casualty. The reports were about the human casualties, but only reported as the reason to be even more harsh in response. The human faces are much harder to find.]

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hightower Nails Bush's Greatest Hits

Jim Hightower on Creators Syndicate today gives a perfect summation of the greatest hits of the Bush years. He's responding the work on the "Bush Legacy Project" being led by Karl Rove. They've published a two page memo helpfully highlighting all the things that the Bushies accomplished. The number one? How about upholding "the honor and dignity of his office?" His critique follows:

There's no need to dwell on the negative, but as we wave bye-bye to Bush and Co., it's worthwhile to offer a few of our own bullet points highlighting some of their greatest hits:

— Stealing the 2000 election.

— The Patriot Act.

— "Dead or Alive."

— Pre-emptive war.

— Iraq "will be a cakewalk."

— Weapons of mass destruction.

— "Bring 'em on."

— Troops with no body armor.

— "Mission Accomplished."

— Osama bin Forgotten.

— Abu Ghraib.

— Gitmo.

— Secret renditions.

— Torture memos.

— Walter Reed Hospital scandal.

— "I'm the decider."

— Valerie Plame.

— Scooter Libby.

— Halliburton.

— Blackwater.

— Harriet Miers.

— Alberto Gonzales.

— Fired federal prosecutors.

— Illegal spying on Americans.

— Executive privilege.

— Signing statements.

— Secret energy task force.

— Fake News Releases.

— Cheney shoots a lawyer.

— Tax cuts for the rich.

— More tax cuts for the rich.

— Ditto.

— National debt.

— "Heck of a job, Brownie."

— Minneapolis bridge collapse.

— Global climate change.

— Privatize Social Security

— Veto of children's health care bill.

— No Child Left Behind.

— Deregulate Wall Street.

— Bail out Wall Street.

— Iraqi journalist throws shoe.

— Approval rating down to Richard Nixon's historic low.

It's said that the worst job in the circus is cleaning up after the elephants. As we move on from the Bush years, we can't ignore the messes they left. There's a great deal of cleaning up to do.

Well Spoke!