* Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) ~ a closet Bush Republican ~ a public menace – During the Bush presidency over 300 ultra conservative judges have been placed throughout the federal court system. The history of these judges includes rulings against union and worker rights, minority and gay rights. They are pro business and anti-consumer. They are darlings of the religious right. Their philosophy is reactionary. Many are still in the nomination process and Bush and the Republicans are attempting to get as many placed as possible before the Bush presidency comes to a thankful end. Since these are lifetime appointments Democrats have repeatedly opposed many of these nominations having seen the damage that has been done by those appointments that did get through the nominating process. Specter has joined Republican leader Mitch McConnel urging Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to move along the nominations of three right-wing judges to the Court of Appeals. Specter markets himself as a moderate but on most important issue he has supported Bush policies, nominations and machinations. He has made substantial efforts to hide this fact to protect his “moderate” label but his voting record and actions are on the record. Senator Specter is part of the problem in this country. As the Bush presidency is judged the worst in our country’s history, Arlen Specter will be a prominent member of this disgraceful and disgraced group. The organization People for the American Way provides a petition to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing these judicial nominees. Details about the judges that Specter is promoting can be found at the bottom of the page of this link.
* Magic dipstick, er, wand – This week the President spoke about the price of gas; "I firmly believe that, you know, if there was a magic wand to wave, I'd be waving it, of course," he said during a news conference. "I've repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems, yet time after time Congress chose to block them (see George’s Folly below)." Like every other issue and policy that Bush and his administration have screwed up, it is always someone else’s fault. As he and his band of misfits ride off into the sunset with federal pensions and book deals Americans are significantly worse off than before George W. Bush took office. Yes, we are without a magic wand to cure our ills. If we are lucky the recovery from his “magic” will take a decade. If we are lucky, you know.
* George’s Folly ~ the ANWAR myth – Reuters reports, “The Bush administration says the US would be less addicted to foreign oil and fuel prices would be lower if Congress had only opened up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling… The Energy Information Administration, which is the Energy Department's independent analytical arm, estimated that if Congress had cleared Bush's ANWR drilling plan the oil would have been available to refiners in 2011, but only at a small volume of 40,000 barrels a day -- a drop in the bucket compared with the 20.6 million barrels the U.S. consumes daily.” President Bush may be upset that Congress did not allow him to damage another environmental treasure but to use it as an excuse for today’s gasoline crisis is disingenuous and childish. The reasons for high gas prices are a cheap dollar, high demand from China and India, and speculators driving the price up. And, this country has done virtually nothing since the 1974 gas crisis to address America’s oil dependence. That blame is widespread and deep.
* EPA Folly – The Environmental Protection Agency, an oxymoron personified, proposed tightening the federal limits for lead in the air. As usual, the proposal fell short of what its own scientists said is required to protect public health. “Lead, which is emitted by smelters, mining, aviation fuel and waste incinerators, can enter the bloodstream and affect young children's development and IQ, as well as cause cardiovascular, blood pressure and kidney problems in adults. The United States has not changed its atmospheric lead standards in 30 years, but the Bush administration is under a court order to issue new rules by September.” I find it interesting/frustrating/asinine that a court order is required to force our own government to protect our air and our health. In the first decade of the 21st Century terrorism has been our gravest threat but the American government has, in fact, caused the greatest damage.
* McCain and Clinton Folly – This week John McCain and Hillary Clinton suggested that the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gasoline tax be suspended this summer to help consumers. This is another magic wand suffering erectile dysfunction that is reminiscent of the rebate checks being mailed to taxpayers to boost the economy. Serious leadership requires treating causes, not symptoms. Energy economists feel a gas tax holiday would not offer any real relief nor do I. At $3.50 per gallon the tax represents only 5 percent and does not prevent gas prices continuing to rise. Since this particular tax funds the repair and building of roads and bridges we would have to be taxed somewhere else to fund these critical expenses. “The American Road & Transportation Builders Association estimates that the gas-tax holiday could blow a $9 billion hole in the highway construction budget and threaten 310,000 jobs.” Since George Bush said that he is open to the idea of a gas tax holiday one has to conclude it cannot be good for America.
* Incarceration Folly – The U.S. leads the world in producing prisoners. Quite the accomplishment! “Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.” At the present time there are 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons – 1 out of every 100 adults. It is a sad commentary on our society and our administration of justice. As this NY Times article noted, “It is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes American prison policy.” These astounding figures, in part, are a result of a knee-jerk reaction to drug use and inadequate treatment which is part of our decades-long failed war on drugs. The program has cost billions of dollars and yielded minimal results. Maintaining this prison population also costs us billions of dollars each year. Perhaps it is time to re-think anti-drug and justice policy.
* Iraq Folly – Volumes could be written on this subject but this entry focuses on the absurdity of attempting to bring democracy to a country enmeshed in radical Islamic hate, especially toward women. “Honor” killings of women are occurring throughout Iraq. “In Basra alone, police acknowledge that 15 women a month are murdered for breaching Islamic dress codes… Violence against women is rampant, rising every day with the power of the militias. Beheadings, rapes, beatings, suicides through self-immolation, genital mutilation, trafficking and child abuse masquerading as marriage of girls as young as nine are all on the increase… The days when women could hold down key jobs or enjoy any freedom of movement are long gone.” This is the “democracy” to which Bush and Cheney have dedicated American lives and treasure.
* Federal Reserve Folly ~ reserved or too late? – “The Federal Reserve is taking steps to crack down on "unfair and deceptive" credit card industry practices that have added to the financial woes of millions of people trying to cope with the economic downturn… The Fed on Friday gave approval to proposed rules that would target credit card companies that arbitrarily raise interest rates or don't give borrowers adequate time to pay their bills.” To no one’s surprise the banking industry opposes these changes because, get ready for this one, “they would limit consumer choice.” The only thing that the banking industry is concerned with is consumer fleecing. With respect to the Federal Reserve, where the hell have they been in eliminating unfair and deceptive credit card practices? And, where the hell has Congress been allowing these practices to exist in the first place? Congress has looked the other way while financial industry leeches have been stuffing money into political campaign coffers. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. One of the best examples of this phenomenon can be seen in the American electoral process.
* “In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834), English poet and philosopher