Wednesday, March 26, 2008

* Alzheimer’s, stupidity or Cheney Machiavellism? – On three occasions last week McCain claimed that Iranian operatives were "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back." With no evidence to support this claim the first time he said this it was considered a slip of the tongue. The second time it was said Mr. McStraightTalk was reading from a prepared statement. The third time he said this Joe Lieberman whispered into his ear and McCain corrected himself. This is not unlike the Bushites’ claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction about to be launched at the U.S. causing a huge mushroom cloud to hover over America or that Saddam was in some way connected to al Qaeda. None of it true. Is John McBush preparing us for an attack on Iran or is he like the eccentric uncle at the family dinner table mumbling between belches until anesthetized by a nap? As Obama and Clinton battle for the Democratic nomination McCain is advancing in the polls. Do the American people suffer from Alzheimer’s or stupidity as they even remotely consider an extension of the Bush years?

* When the word “so” begins with a capital “F” and ends in a lower case “u”- I have not commented on remarks from White House Press Secretary Dana Perino for quite some time. Like her predecessors Ari Fleisher and Scott McClellan, she produces so much inane pap from the podium that it becomes like the drone from a room air conditioner that is soon not heard. When Dick Cheyney was told by a reporter that “two-thirds of Americans say” the Iraq war “is not worth fighting,” he responded, “So?” That of course was no surprise. When Perino was asked about Cheney’s comment she responded that the last time the American people were heard was the 2004 elections. Her observation ignored the 2006 elections that in many ways was a repudiation of the Iraq war as the Republican War Party was soundly defeated. Of course when Bush and Cheyney treated their election and re-election as coronations, mid-term elections became marginal. From one perspective they are right. In 2004 the American people had the opportunity to reject/evict these disingenuous imperialist warmongers. So, we didn’t.

*Quote of the week - "At 11:00 on a Tuesday, a prominent politician spoke to Americans about race, as though they were adults." This was said by Jon Stewart of the Dailey Show, referring to Barack Obama’s speech on March 11, 2008. The speech can be seen and heard at: Barack Obama: Change We Can Believe In His Own Words

* Observation of the week –Cynthia Tucker, syndicated columnist and editorial page editor of The Atlanta Constitution, said about Obama’s speech, “That high-minded appeal has drawn its share of skeptics, and for good reason. One of the more puzzling, yet persistent, features of the American political landscape has been the success of politicians who seize on racial tensions and long-simmering resentments to win over working-class white voters -- even while supporting policies that betray the economic interests of that same group.” Ronald Reagan and George Bush are examples of the politicians Tucker references. It is unfortunate that the quote from 1961 at the end of this post remains, in part, a hope. There has been progress but, it is a road slowly traveled.

* Did you get your letter from the IRS? - Last week I received notification that following an evaluation of my 2007 tax return I may receive a rebate check (intended to stimulate the U.S. economy). Unfortunately, there are cynics out there that do not believe this Bush fix for the economy will fix much. A reader sent me the following:
If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China. If we spend it on gasoline it will all go to the Arabs, if we purchase a computer it will all go to India, if we purchase fruit and vegetables it will all go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala (for some reason Chile was left off the list), if we purchase a good car it will all go to Japan, if we purchase useless crap it will all go to Taiwan and none of it will help the American economy. We need to keep that money here in America, so the only way to keep that money here at home is to buy prostitutes, beer and visit Indian casinos, since those are the only businesses still in the US.

* Disquieting quote of the week ~ improving the U.S. balance of trade - "I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society." So said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council pontificating on behalf of the religious wrong. These are the same people that support Bush and will reluctantly support McCain since he is the closest thing to Bush that they can get this election cycle (and he is getting much closer – see below “Reality of the Week”). They are as wrong for America as the corporate and financial “geniuses” whose greed-driven policies have wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy.

* A full plate and an empty coffer - Not making a hybrid car like the Prius (Toyota) was a "mistake," General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz told a group at last week’s NY Auto Show. Despite GM losing billions of dollars over the last couple of years and Toyota making a profit this gaff can be excused. GM and its lobbyists were too busy opposing higher gas mileage standards.

* Context and furor – The recent media frenzy and citizen reaction to comments by Obama’s minister after the 9/11 attack on America do have a context beyond the YouTube sound bites. Rev. Wright based one of his comments about “chickens coming home to roost” on an interview he had heard on FOX News with Ambassador Edward Peck, “retired, white, career U.S. diplomat who served 32-years in the U.S. Foreign Service and was chief of the U.S. mission to Iraq under Jimmy Carter.” Wright said, “A white ambassador said that yall, not a black militant, not a reverend who preaches about racism, an ambassador whose eyes are wide open and is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice... the ambassador said that the people we have wounded don't have the military capability we have, but they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them...” The “dangerous precipice” reference was the consequences of decades of myopic U.S. foreign policy, which, as most of us realize, has further deteriorated since 9/11. I am not aware of any violence committed by Rev. Wright nor have I heard of any violence committed by anyone as a result of Wright’s words. Speaking of Wright’s words he has said, "Violence begets violence, hatred begets hatred, and terrorism begets terrorism." And that leaves little to disagree with.

* Buying the (Iraq) War – PBS’ outstanding journalist Bill Moyers produced a program that asks the questions, “How did the mainstream press get it so wrong... How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?" The program can be seen at this link. Walter Pincus of the Washington Post concludes, "More and more the media become, I think, common carriers of administration statements and critics of the administration. We've sort of given up being independent on our own." I believe that the lesson to be taken is that to be informed citizens we must go beyond the six o’clock news, traditional print media and Sunday morning pundit sound bites that we have relied upon. It is a lesson of a democracy manipulated and a Fourth Estate surrendering its role in a democratic society. Not much has changed in the last six years.

* On Easter Sunday the 4000th U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq. 97% of these deaths (3860) occurred after President Bush’s Mission Accomplished speech announcing the end of “major combat” in Iraq on May 1, 2003.

* Repenting support for the Iraq War – Andrew Sullivan has a conservative perspective and writes for The Atlantic. A recent article closely examines his initial support for the Iraq war and dissects why he was wrong on a number of levels. It is worth a read. He concludes, “I know our enemy is much worse. I have never doubted that. But I never believed that America would do what America has done. Never. My misjudgment at the deepest moral level of what Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld were capable of - a misjudgment that violated the moral core of the enterprise - was my worst mistake. What the war has done to what is left of Iraq - the lives lost, the families destroyed, the bodies tortured, the civilization trashed - was bad enough. But what was done to America - and the meaning of America - was unforgivable. And for that I will not and should not forgive myself either. Thanks to the web site The Sideshow for bringing this article to attention.

* Separation of Church and State – Last weekend many internet sites featured the theme Blog Against Theocracy. This is not a stand against religion but a reminder that the Government should keep out of religion, and Religion should keep out of the government. One might find it interesting and informative surfing some of the links.

*Myth of the Week ~ John McCain supports the troops – Contrary to McCain’s stance that what you see is what you get, another carnival mirror of distortion is broken. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) is sponsoring legislation that would offer benefits to veterans similar to those benefits offered military personnel following Word War II. I recently had seen a study that estimated for every dollar the U.S. government had spent on G.I. benefits following WWII the government received in return seven dollars in taxes from increased wages earned. Webb has called on McCain to co-sponsor the bill but McBush has yet to do so. It must be a Republican thing that appearing to spend money is verboten in their political circles – contrary to actually spending money over the past 7 years that blew through our surplus and created unimaginable deficits. For the Republicans currently in power “supporting the troops” is a marketing term for a product that does not exist. Of course, if we keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years, as McCain has suggested, we will not have to give them educational benefits – only bomb-resistant walkers. Democratic presidential candidates Clinton and Obama are among the 51 co-sponsors of the bill that does include nine Republicans.

* Reality of the Week ~ McCain’s draconian (for most Americans) tax and healthcare agenda - The Center for American Progress Action Fund's (CAPAF) Robert Gordon and James Kvaal issued a report on "the Bush-McCain-Norquist Tax Agenda," which found that Sen. John McCain's tax plan would cost $2 trillion over the next decade and would deliver 58 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. McCain's plan to "reform the tax code to eliminate the bias toward employer-sponsored health insurance" would cost $206 billion in 2009 alone -- an amount of spending that "is double that proposed by Obama or Clinton's plan." Moreover, "McCain and Bush's plan would make it harder for people with health issues to obtain affordable health insurance." From the report’s summary: “In the final analysis, we conclude that the McCain tax plan is essentially a continua­tion of the agenda articulated by Norquist and others to achieve piecemeal but radical changes to the U.S. tax code... These changes require huge spending cuts, shift the tax burden away from capital and onto labor, and come “at the expense of lower- and middle-income Americans.” When I refer to McCain as McBush, substance far outweighs sarcasm.

* "I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one, with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions." Martin Luther King Jr., Dec. 11, 1961

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

another fun column, Stephen, which makes the dreary news more palatable. i particularly liked the jon stewart segment. with appropriate humor a comedian shows us "a joke is worth a thousand words." - ruth z deming