Wednesday, October 15, 2008

* Naked on the right - The demise of the most recent version of conservative economic and political policies has the populist talking heads of conservatism in a dither. Examples include Neil Cavuto and Rush Limbaugh from viral broadcasting and the right-sided writing of the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer. They currently are desperately grasping for a hold on respectability and relevance. In order to protect their message they have concocted faux targets to divert attention from misguided and wrong counsel. One of their disingenuous maneuvers is to place the blame for the current financial crisis on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” Look out for those liberal-supported policies designed to assist lower income families to invest in homes.” “Those damn left-wingers.” Fortunately, there are still some in the Fourth Estate doing their job.

The McClatchy Newspapers Washington Bureau just removed the wheels from the canard that conservatives are riding. The article is titled “Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis.” It was an unregulated private sector gone wild that brought our economy to its knees, not regulated government-assisted programs. I highly recommend a read of this article as an aide to understand what took place and, just as importantly, guidance for future policy. Republican conservatives bemoan the fact that the current financial crisis has altered the parameters of the upcoming election. I agree that it is unfortunate. We all had to suffer the effects before their failed policies were laid bare. The policies that they promoted should be evaluated and voted upon by the electorate, without spin and din.

To borrow an often used phrase of Barack Obama, “Let me be perfectly clear.” I do not advocate a national discourse devoid of conservative ideas any more than it would be appropriate to give voice exclusively to liberal thinking. It so happens that conservatives have dominated the national landscape while their views were implemented dishonestly and incompetently by President George W. Bush and the Republican Party. Liberal thinking and the Democratic Party are not without criticism. Going forward America’s best chance is a synthesis of views from all positions. It is likely that the first step will require that the political house be cleaned, with many more Republicans than Democrats being left for the trash pickup. A return to normalcy will be accompanied by a return to balance. At some point in the future this lesson will be forgotten and the process will cycle again. At best, we can hope for less dramatic swings of the political ideology pendulum and greater integrity in the people that we elect.

* Agreeing to disagree – I almost never agree with neo-con, conservative and Bush war cheerleader Bill Kristol. His column in the NY Times on Monday October 13th was no exception. Kristol wrote, “It’s time for John McCain to fire his campaign.” This comment comes after previous Kristol comments suggesting the McCain campaign do what he now criticizes. I say leave well enough alone. This is a McCain-selected campaign team of lobbyists, neo-cons, deregulators and slime campaigners scraped like barnacles from the Karl Rove ship of ghouls. They represent the political and economic philosophy and foreign policy that has put this country and its citizens in peril. My friends, I say do not fire them. Allow them to go down in flames with the current icons of these failures, Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin. I wish them GOP – Get Out of Politics - after the election.

* Clunk - That thud you heard this week was the approval rating of George W. Bush. Declining to 23% it surpassed Richard Nixon’s low of 24% and is a point away from the lowest in 70 years of polling, set by Harry Truman in early 1952. The ABC News/Washington Post poll also found that 90% of Americans believe that the country “is on the wrong track.” Contrary to Mr. Bush’s daydreams and prognostications, history will not absolve him of what will be one of the worst executive tenures in American history. I believe that as we learn more about a Bush administration that has been wrapped in secrets and deceptions the perception of the Bush years will worsen. The face of G.W. Bush will not displace the portraits of Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, Hamilton or Franklin on our folding money – even if there is any money left.

* Mea culpa – I recently criticized the Clintons for not campaigning more on behalf of Barack Obama. Perhaps their appearances were not showing up in my news sources. On Sunday I watched their speeches in Scranton, PA and both Clintons are active on the campaign trail promoting Obama, the jobs he will create and reinforcing the idea that we do not need a continuation of Bush-like policies. We each can ask ourselves what we are doing to bring about a change from the disastrous policies of the last eight years. The Obama campaign is urging people to volunteer at their local offices leading up the election on November 4th. With less than three weeks remaining before the most important presidential election in our lifetime there are opportunities to get out the vote, work at polls, help people to get to the polls. If you have been unhappy with the course our government has taken, the time to do something is now.

* Welcome to the 51st State of the United States ~ the police state - Talk about unfocused and misguided policy. Over the last couple of years we have seen evidence of federal, state and local police bodies targeting anti-war groups. Unlike the protests during the Viet Nam war evidence of violent intentions or behavior is lacking and yet the free speech of protesters is seen as terrorist activity. The latest example of such blurred vision and perhaps illegal action was committed by the Maryland State Police. Sisters Carol Gilbert and Ardeth Platte, each serving the Catholic Church for over 50 years, have been placed on a national watch list due to their participation in anti-war protest activities. “They were among 53 people added to a terrorist watch list in conjunction with an extensive Maryland surveillance effort of antiwar activists.” Many voices in our society are quick to criticize the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) but it is actions like that of Maryland law enforcement that reinforces the need for civil liberty watchdog organizations. Note: This portion of SVN is being written anonymously since I will be driving through Maryland later this week. You can be sure I will not be wearing a nun’s habit.

* Unwelcome results of government spying on citizens – The National Security Agency (NSA) is the primary eavesdropper on our communications. Bush has tried at every opportunity to allow such spying without oversight or court order. Before Bush the courts had to issue a warrant for a U.S. citizen to be spied upon. Recent legislation removed restraints and that is troublesome in a free society. Power unregulated gets abused. It is a natural law. In an ABC report, “two former military intercept officers who worked at the NSA charge that the government spying agency listened in on calls to the United States made by soldiers, journalists and human rights workers working in the Middle East, even after it was clear that the calls were not in any way related to national security. The NSA officials regularly passed around salacious calls such as the private "phone sex" calls of military officers calling home, according to the report.”

In the next administration and congress oversight of spying should be revisited and protections from spying abuse legislated. One J. Edgar Hoover was enough for this country. Hoover was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1936 and led the organization until his death in 1972. Known for abusing his power and exceeding his jurisdiction U.S. leaders feared him because he compiled secret files on them, information often collected illegally. His dirty tricks program included “infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations.” Hoover was not bashful about using these files to achieve his end. This is not an America that I envision.

* “The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”
Henry Steele Commager (1902 – 1998) American historian


Anonymous said...

Like you, Stephen, I also believed the Clintons were not campaigning on behalf of the Dems. It escaped our radar, as you put it, because of the 'selectivity' of the news media who apparently chose to focus only on the candidates themselves & not on the lesser stars.

That said, it was interesting to finally hear from third-party candidate Ralph Nader on the Nightly News Hour last nite, victim of the selectivity of the news media. This Lebanese-American has by far the best policies for not only the economy but also for security in the middle-east and Afghan-Pakistan. He has a deep understanding of security issues b/c he understands the psychology of its people & their 'tribal' culture. This is based on his personal experience, he said, passed down from Lebanese father to son.

Nader is a true thinking man who has time to contemplate since he's not busy raising money from lobbyists and big corporations. He is perhaps too undivided a man to be president, too honest & transparent, too ascetic, and monastic in his devotion to the truth.


Anonymous said...

In regard to the 51st State and because I will be traveling through Maryland with you, I feel an appropiate disguise will be necessary. I will be in camouflage as a Red Neck Liberal. The State Police will never figure that out.
Cowboy Al