GigaRot :: Politics :: Iraq :: Liberties Lost
American politics is no more absurd than politics anywhere. Honestly. Trust me on this one. No new taxes.
Republican Congress Fails to Budget, Argues with Itself
A good write-up here: Budget Impasse Reflects GOP Schism
One might fear that this is how our elected representatives operate, on sound bytes and ideology, rather than dealing with reality as it is.
A budget is one of those ultimate truths which every household is familiar with: you can't spend more than you have unless you borrow. It looks like the debt of the Bush Presidency will come to about $400 billion this year. Some folks look at that trend and see serious repercussions in the future. Keeping the tax rates of the wealthy low, while spending on foreign wars, creates debt, especially when the social programs Democrats typically champion are already drained.
I remember many years when the prime rate was in the teens, and it is really hard on business and people. I do not look forward to seeing that again.
A Win? No, a Defeat, Sharper Minds Say.
A man is born in a cave, finally comes out one night and rejoices. "I had no idea", he says, "that the world could be so bright!"
Elaine Cassel ignores the media and blogosphere hype on the recent detainee rulings and gets to the heart of it all in AlterNet: Rights and Liberties: A Defeat in Disguise?
When you think the recent rulings over, one can see Elaine is right: these folks are hosed, any paper victories aside. Or rather anyone of us is hosed, if our beloved Federal Government decides we're dangerous (whether or not they have _any_ proof). We have no effective recourse under the rulings given. The Government does not need to be right and an innocent individual has no opportunity to prove innocence.
Elaine puts the whole thing much more intelligently in the article mentioned, or any of her other articles
June 2004 Supreme Court Ruling on Ashcroft v. the Child Online Protection Act (COPA)
Read the ruling [a pdf file].
The Supreme Court has sent this back down for a lower court evaluation in terms of technology that might alleviate the constitutional concerns, but you and I could have saved them the trouble: there is no such technology, and there may never be.
Perhaps this shouldn't be talked about here: I think there is a great consensus on the desire to protect children from pornography, there is no gigarot in all this. The dilemma is that truly open communications are open, and very hard to protect our kids against, except by removing their access.
There have been times when, driving my kids to school with the radio on, I cringed, realizing what my kids were hearing.
And that was the news.
Ashcroft, Big Brother, the Internet, Bush
Some very interesting contributions from kottke.org re: Ashcroft on Big Brother and the Internet
. Ashcroft wrote:
"...we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?"
Bravo, bravo, John! Now what happened to that rational, pro-citizen thought process when you started working under Bush?
You know, Bush, the man who sat stupefied for 7 minutes after he was told of the 2nd plane crashing into the WTC on 9-11 (and then hid out, in cowardly fear); Bush whose campaign has resorted to associating images of Hitler with Democrats; Bush who let the Bin Ladens leave on special flights after 9-11, while the rest of us were stranded in airports; Bush who gave us an extension to the recession, but made sure tax rates were lower for the rich (so they still did OK); Bush who has been building a trillion dollar deficit to spend overthrowing regimes he does not like (and keeping his rich friends rich).
Or maybe Ashcroft was meaning to preface his comments with "Here's what those commie-pinko fag Democrats would say...", because no man has been at the center of the loss of more civil liberties in my lifetime.
Civil liberties: those are the few rights you and I have even if our ship does not come in, or if we disagree with what our government is doing, or if powerful friends turn their backs on us, or if powerful enemies turn their attention to us. Civil liberties are what allow a people to be strong, and it is no more than the people's strength that makes a strong nation.
If a King got his power from the land, a democratic nation gets it power from its people. What kind of a President would turn that power on its own people?
Bush, and at his side, Ashcroft.
The names themselves may become profane.
Hamdi versus Rumsfeld - Supreme Court Ruling
The Supreme Court rules
Hamdi, an American citizen, can be detained as an enemy combatant, but has the right to U.S. courts. This is a ruling full of references which give one perspective on this issue from a historical point of view. For example:
"The object of capture is to prevent the captured individual from serving the enemy. He is disarmed and from then on must be removed as completely as practicable from the front, treated humanely, and in time exchanged, repatriated,or otherwise released."
Governor Favors Earlier Pet Killing - Schwarzenegger
If your pet gets lost, you'd better find him/her very quickly if California Governor Schwarzenegger succeeds with his
proposal to allow quicker killing of pets at Animal Shelter
Movie-goers: Are you surprised? You've seen his movies; you know he's the Terminator.
We can save money by killing pets more quickly. Why let a pet have six days at an Animal Shelter for its owner to find it? I envision all these poor lost pets crying and yelping for help - but not for long.
Talk about blood for money. And how is the budget shortfall a pet's fault?
I guess the "I'm not a Nazi" angle is just too gruesome to mention, but really: doesn't this clarify his values vis-a-vis life? All these pens of lost animals (your cat, my dog) quickly and efficiently taken care of. Perhaps they could even refine their techniques - maybe counties could dogpool the animals to a central location for a final "shower scene".
The good news is that perhaps Disney would offer the Governor/actor a role if they make "Dalmations II". Who better to play Cruella DeVille?
Did he forget the angle about making money off the slaughtered animals furs to balance the budget?
A Different Jack Ryan
Well, it looks like the real Jack Ryan would have made for a much spicier Tom Clancy novel, judging by the court papers revealing his apparent penchat for sex clubs.
Personally, I think everyone deserves a little privacy, and we need not be subject to bedroom review. However, I am not sure these facts fit with the Candidate's position about "traditional marriage"
. If there is hypocrisy, that's pretty good grounds for voting for someone else.
China and US Republicans See Eye to ISP
AP reports China Urges ISPs to Pledge 'Patriotism'
. As much as I want to embrace all the people and cultures of the world, I reserve the right to be skeptical and critical of their Governments, and in China's case, I believe American philosophies of freedom are very contrary to China's priority on control of the people.
However, what China asks sounds frighteningly similar to what many conservative Americans would ask, especially in the wake of 9/11. I've got to wonder: if all Democrats were shipped off to French Giana tomorrow, would not a fully Republican U.S. pressure for similar levels of control?
Much of the way America is moving to control its people "in the war against terrorism", and the Machivellian methods the U.S. Government has been using against individuals in that "war", are disturbingly similar to what America has despised in other, un-democratic countries like China and Iraq.
There is a difference, as a huge number of Americans will tell you: we are in the right. They might even say "God is on our side" (as militant muslims are also known to say -- and believe).
President Bush would say he is doing God's work (and please Iraq, do not even think of creating a theocracy in your country, you are worshipping the wrong religion).
CIA Contractor Charged in Afghan Prisoner Beating
Yahoo News reported a CIA Contractor Charged in Afghan Prisoner Beating
Yes, of course it is private citizens acting outside the guidelines of their authority that are to blame.
Oh, please. Anyone familiar with "consulting" engagements knows how hard consultants try to give their clients what they expect, their actions may be one of the truest manifestations of the client's (in this case the US Government's) desires.
Yes, it's a real bad reflection on the US Military and maybe more so, Commander in Chief Bush, but no fear. The rich and powerful seem to have great immunity in the Bush era.
Ordinary private citizens, however, will be held accountable for any suspicious activities or associations. White citizens, and Black, would do better than to talk to anyone who looks Middle Eastern (such as the many US Citizens of Middle Eastern heritage).
Iraq Jail Contractor Contradicts Generals
Iraq Jail Contractor Contradicts Generals
, but of course they are all lying, each lying in a fashion that least incriminates themselves personally. Thus the stories never completely mesh and the U.S. public is left an opportunity to believe the most positive story it can sell itself. No one wants to believe that they come from a family of cruelty, torture, and all other such bad things. Nope! It must have all been a mistake.
Meanwhile the rest of the world sees the pictures and realizes, following common sense, that they are seeing only the tip of the iceberg.
All Federal Buildings to be Named After Reagan
Tom Burka writes of this, and much more in his blog Opinions You Should Have
. Will make this a side link, it's great stuff. One doesn't have to stretch the truth very far these days to be really funny.
The chart of Presidential approval ratings shown below in this blog [one of several charts on POLLKATZ
] is intriguing. The most marked feature on the graph is the sudden increase in GWB's (Bush II) popularity in the aftermath of 911. America threw it's support behind it's President, regardless of what they thought about him. The trend from there has been downhill.
Was it his popularity with the American citizens that led Bush II to think he could ignore international laws, torture other people, and make up pretenses to bomb and invade other countries?
The The President making his mark on America.
:: Papa Reagan ::
Reagan, by all personal accounts, was a nice person: considerate, thoughtful, and he knew who he was and what he thought. And, it was on his watch, and possibly due to his actions/policies, that the Berlin Wall finally came down.
And if we, all men, have one common enemy, it is death. So sympathies and a certain respect are due Reagan, IMO.
On the other hand, Reagan's policies demeaned the lives of the majority of Americans. We wanted opportunity but he gave us a trickle and told us to agree it was what we deserved. He skewed the American economy toward Government goods (e.g. "Defense") where compliance with bureaucratic dictates precluded innovation and a higher standard of living. The Berlin Wall may have come down, but at a price to individual Americans for whom the defense economic focus had a grave opportunity cost. One was more likely to like Reagan if one was in High School during his Presidency than if one was trying to start a career.
After the Disco 70's we felt we needed a big Papa, and Reagan was a good father: sincere, whether right or wrong; strict, but kind; he removed "unnecessary" choices... Reagan was, and remains, quite popular.
:: Stepfather Bush ::
Perhaps after the dawn of The Internet we also felt like we were somehow too free, and needed another father figure. We elected by ballot, counting (wink), and court, Bush. Enough. It's not for the children to question Mom's choice when she remarries.
Still, let's be clear: Bush is no Reagan. If Reagan was the good father, than Bush is the evil stepfather. The evil stepfather who constantly throws his weight around and tells you, anyone, what to believe; the evil stepfather whose painful punishments are without proportion to one's deeds; the evil father who wants total control over you.
Our real fathers (and mothers) taught us it's right to be loyal and Republicans seem a loyal lot, so Bush remains supported.
One might question, though, if Republicans remain loyal to Bush at the expense of their common sense? What financially conservative Republican would have pre-approved sending us from a coming surplus into a looming trillion dollar deficit that is sure to stiffle business?
It's nice that I can finally fully approve the Democrats, now that they are the more financially conservative lot.
With Presidents like Bush we can all be a little nostaglic for Reagan, even if his Defense build-up and economic policies cost us personally and stalled progress toward the brighter future he characterized, like a line from a "B" movie, "the shining city on the hill."