Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Be Afraid, America. Be Very Afraid!

It's Halloween and there's plenty to be scared of. Here's a quick recap:

• Let's start easy. We're heading into winter and gas prices are still over $2.00/gallon. The Republicans have been making a big deal over the fact that they've dropped in recent weeks, but today they went up. And we're on the cusp of winter. I wonder what they'll do in the weeks ahead?

• We are still at war in Iraq and are rapidly approaching 3,000 dead American troops. When President Bush was re-elected in 2004, the mark was hovering around 1,000. So for a war that was proclaimed, "Mission Accomplished" six weeks after it began, we're still losing U.S. troops at the rate of about 1,000 per year.

• Meanwhile, Osama bin Ladin the man behind the September 11 terrorist attacks, is still at large. On September 17, the President said, ""I want justice. And there's an old poster out West… I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'" Yet a year later when asked about bin Ladin he had this to say, "So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly (reporter), to be honest with you." Four years later, not much has changed. He still isn't concerned.

• In his 2002 State of the Union address to Congress, President Bush spoke of three nations that comprise an "axis of evil"; North Korean, Iran and Iraq. 6 years into his presidency, Iraq is on the verge of a civil war (if not already engaged in one) while both North Korea and Iran are on the verge of achieving nuclear capability. So bad is the situation that Mr. Bush has had to rely on Communist China to get North Korea back to the negotiating table. These all occurred at a time when the President claimed to have his eye on the ball. I suppose the world would already be engulfed in a nuclear fireball if he didn't!

• Then there's Afghanistan. The one country in the world that probably was complicit with the September 11 attacks. Follow the chain of events here. The President launches a prudent attack on their radical Taliban government, topples said government, has them on the run, then, in what has to be the greatest case of attention deficit disorder ever recorded, plunges our military full steam into Iraq. Four years later, the Taliban is making a resurgence, and our own military openly questions whether we can win the war.

• Finally, there is the shameful degradation of our civil liberties at home: Warrant-less wire-tapping, prisoners held in secret prisons abroad without trial or access to counsel, and a Vice President who has openly condoned the use of torture in interrogations.

Yes boys and girls, it's Halloween in America and the calls are coming from inside the country!

You cannot run. You cannot hide. You have but one recourse available to you. In seven days you can vote. And when you do, you must vote for candidates who firmly stand against these failed policies. We must elect a Congress that will challenge the President at every turn and investigate every misdeed.

For if we don't, every day will be Halloween in America.

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's Only A No Brainer If You Have No Brain

In what can only be described as baffling, the White House announced today that comments made by Vice President Dick Cheney, were not an endorsement of torture. The story was reported in the Associated Press this morning.

During an interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., Cheney was asked if "a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives." The Vice President responded, "Well, it's a no-brainer for me but for a while there I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."


White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow has claimed that the question was loosely worded and that Cheney did not take it to refer to the practise of water boarding, where a prisoner is dunked underwater and led to believe that he is about to be drowned.

So if that's the case, what interrogation technique DID the Vice President think he was responding to?

Do we have pool parties with our captives and playfully push their heads underwater, all the while laughing and splashing around? Given the Abu Ghraib photos, undoubtedly everyone is skinny dipping!

Maybe we bob for apples with them. It is almost Halloween after all.

Or perhaps everyone gets a super soaker and runs around dousing each other until they collapse on the floor from laughter.

Then again, there is the remote possibility that the Vice President, Tony Snow and our esteemed President are all liars

Hmm…Once again, it seems that our horrendous administration has flaunted their true colours. They tried to do it on a rinky dink station in Fargo, where they thought no one would be listening, but lo and behold, the national media was awake.

It almost goes without saying that the United States has never had a more morally bankrupt President and Vice President. With a bit of luck this latest gaffe will be a piece of kindling to help fuel their future impeachment trial.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rush To Judgement

Al Franken once wrote a book entitled, "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot." While I am generally not one who favours name calling as a means of political dialogue, recent comments from the voice of the alleged "Excellence In Broadcasting Network," leave me longing for a second volume.

As you have undoubtedly seen, actor and Parkinson's sufferer, Michael J. Fox, recently did a 30 second spot to advocate for lifting the President's ban on embryonic stem cell research. The spots, which aired in Ohio in support of Democratic Senate candidate, Claire McCaskill, showed the actor visibly shaking from the effects of his illness. The ad has caused some Republicans to cry foul, but none have done so in quite as offensive a manner as Rush Limbaugh, who claimed that Fox was, "either off his medication or acting."

As someone who was arrested for both illegal possession of narcotics AND viagra, Mr. Limbaugh is perhaps uniquely qualified to speak on the ill effects of being off one's medication.

Unfortunately, his assertions about Michael J. Fox aren't true. In the intervening days, many medical doctors have publicly gone on record stating that the symptoms exhibited by Mr. Fox are consistent with his illness. They've also said that stem cell research is the most promising pathway for curing the disease.

It's one thing to be wrong, it's another to be an insensitive buffoon.

And that's the only accurate way to characterize the on camera shaky impersonation Limbaugh did of Mr. Fox, while calling into question the veracity of his performance.

Note to Rush Limbaugh: There is nothing funny about a degenerative central nervous system disease that afflicts an estimated 4 to 6 million people worldwide. There is nothing amusing about losing your ability to control your movements, or the quality of your speech, or your ability to swallow. By the way Rush, that last one has been known to cause death.

Interestingly enough, Rush Limbaugh is a man who has fully benefited from the advances of western medicine. When he had back surgery, there was plenty of medication to ease his pain. When he suffered from erectile dysfunction there was viagra to restore his...

...well never mind.

The point is this: If he is unwilling to extend the advances of science to those who truly need them, perhaps he could at least refrain from mocking them.

He should feel ashamed, but he won't. I guess I'll just have to wait for that next Al Franken book. Hey Al, how about calling it, "Rush Limbaugh Is A Stoned Out, Limp..."

Nah. That would be mean.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bush Signs Military Commissions Act of 2006 Into Law

This morning, President Bush, signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law. With the possible exception of the Dred Scott decision, or Plessy v. Ferguson, few moments in United States history resonate as so pugnacious and egregious an affront to the declaration that, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The new law pertains to the treatment of foreign nationals, suspected by our government as terrorists. I recognize that there are many of my fellow citizens who support this measure and who feel that our security is worth a "small" suppression of liberties. The question, of course, is what have we traded?

At what point have we traded so much for security, that we cease to be the nation that our founders intended?

For those who would so readily cast aside our founding principles, I suggest that you take a look at what your fear has wrought:

• The President under this law has the power to determine whether interrogation methods violate international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions. It should be noted that in the past, the President approved techniques that the Supreme Court later ruled violated such laws.

• The law does not require that detainees be granted legal counsel.

• Detainees will have no legal rights to challenge their detentions in Federal Court.

• Hearsay evidence, which is neither legal in civilian OR military courts, is permissible IF the judge believes that it is from a reliable source.

• An outcome of these trials can be death.

So let me recap: Under this law, a person can be detained without charge, interrogated by methods that by most standards are considered to be torture, not allowed to challenge their detention, tried without legal counsel, judged on evidence not permissible in any other US court, sentenced to death, and finally executed.

Is this the United States that you want? And if someone you loved was subjected to this system of justice, would it be acceptable to you?

On Election Day, note how your Senator and Representative voted on this bill. Vote accordingly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

John McCain Loses His Way

I've always liked John McCain. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that he is the one Republican out there whom I've considered worthy of my vote. But lately, he's been making it harder and harder to justify my doing so. As the 2008 presidential election season draws near, the good Senator has become something of a panderer.

Point and case

In 2000, McCain roundly criticized President Bush for speaking at Bob Jones University, a school that has been noted for their anti-Catholic sentiment and which at the time, had a ban on interracial dating. In a 2000 debate, he claimed that had he been invited he would have told them, "Look, what your doing in this ban on interracial dating is stupid, it's idiotic, and it is incredibly cruel to many people." Now he says that he would consider speaking there. This comes on the heels of speaking at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University this past spring, though in 2000 he labeled Mr. Falwell as an "agent of intolerance."

Sadly, the Senator had it right the first time.

Today, the AP is reporting that Senator McCain has labeled the alleged North Korean nuclear test as a failure of the Clinton Administration. A curious charge.

Let's look at the facts. The Clinton administration held bi-lateral talks with North Korea in the 1990s. During this time there was no nuclear test or random launching of missiles by Pyongyang. In fact, things on the Korean peninsula had warmed up to the point that in June of 2000, the last year of the Clinton administration, the leaders of North and South Korea met to discuss reunification; something that likely would have led to the peaceful dissolution of the communist north regime.

Then the Bush administration took over. President Bush has refused to engage in bilateral talks with North Korea, instead preferring to bring in multiple partners, including, China.

Apparently the surest way to end communism in a country is to have the biggest purveyor of it, negotiate on your behalf.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, the President really stirred the pot, when he made his famous "axis of evil" statement which, of course, included North Korea.

Since then, things have deteriorated to the point where this year, North Korea has conducted 6 missile tests and an alleged nuclear test. Interestingly enough, when Bill Clinton left office, North Korea had fully honoured a 1999 moratorium on such tests.

Which brings us back to Senator McCain.

John McCain is not a stupid man. He well knows that the isolationist policy of the Bush administration has dramatically compromised peace on the Korean peninsula. Instead of standing up against it, however, he has decided to trot out that old Republican chestnut: It's Bill Clinton's fault! I guess that's what happens when you have presidential stars in your eyes.

Shame, shame, shame on you, John McCain.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

If Balls Were Brains, Bush Would Be Einstein

Anne Richards once remarked that the first President Bush couldn't help that he was born with a "silver foot in his mouth." If only she had known what was coming down the pike. The current Bush incarnation seems to have both feet in his, and I assure you that it is not an easy trick to accomplish when one's head is lodged firmly up one's own ass. Today our esteemed leader actually had the audacity to say that Democrats couldn't be trusted to hold the reins of Congress.

Did he not read the newspaper today?

I guess not. So let's take a moment and recount the glorious tales of our rein holding Republican Congressional leaders.

1) In 5 years they pull off an astonishing fiscal feat and transform a $236,200,000,000 budget surplus into a $318,300,000,000 budget deficit.

2) Within a week of one another, Senators Burns and Allen in full view of the media publicly utter racist remarks. If only it was a comedy sketch.

3) House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is indicted on two counts of alleged money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, and ultimately resigns his seat.

4) Representative Duke Cunningham resigns from the House after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and underreporting his income for 2004.

5) Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott on the occasion of Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday proclaims, "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." Thurmond ran for 1948 on the Dixiecrat ticket, a movement that promoted segregation. Lott subsequently resigned his leadership position.

6) Ohio Senator Mike DeWine runs a campaign ad that shows the airplanes flying into the World Trade Center on 9/11. Besides being incendiary, the footage is also shown to be doctored.

7) Florida Representative Mark Foley resigns from the House of Representatives after he sends sexually explicit e-mails to an underage Page.

So let's recap here: Fiscal Mismanagement, Racism, Accepting Bribes, Using National Tragedy To Win An Election and Sexual Misconduct. And these all happened within the last 6 years!

And then of course there's Iraq, Afghanistan, stem-cells, flag burning amendments, defense of marriage acts, and Katrina.

About a year ago, I wrote to President Bush and told him that his actions could only lead one to conclude that he was either a) stupid or b) a liar. I even asked him which it was, but he declined to choose a response.

Perhaps it is because I failed to include a third option: Delusional