Friday, March 31, 2006

First you wanna kill me, now you wanna kiss me. Blow.

L ike many Democrats I was moved by Barack Obama's call for national unity at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Obama hit all the right notes in a speech aimed at the higher essence of what it means to call ourselves Amerians:

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

What impressed me about Obama's speech was his understanding that all the things that divide Americans are dwarfed by all the things that we have in common as Americans. The speech was Rooseveltian in this sense. Indeed; I found myself nodding along and thinking to myself that this man is going to be President some day.

Obama seemed to understand that the politics of divisiveness are powerful enough that he needed to acknowledge them right off the bat. Obama could hardly be called prescient in this regard. The Swift Boaters for Truth had just rolled out their slime campaign aimed at John Kerry's war record and the ghost of the 2002 election in which practically every Democrat running for national office was accused of being cowardly and unpatriotic regardless of their record, was still fresh in our minds. How clever does one have to be to figure out that Karl Rove would run a dirty campaign?

Although this message was delivered to Democrats it wasn't aimed at Democrats but rather the larger audience of unaligned Americans and Republicans that might be watching. I'm making an assumption here, of course. There seems no reason to exort Democrats to put their political interests aside and work for the good of the country as a whole. They had already demonstrated their willingess to do this on inumerable occasions after the 9/11 attacks. By supporting President Bush our Democratic representatives had proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the party came second when it came to the good of the country.

Would that this was reciprocated or that the Republicans would have listened to Obama.

Instead the Swift Boaters ran their course with little rebuttal by the national press, the President squeaked back into office and immediately set out attacking a cornerstone of the New Deal in his attempt to destroy Social Security. More divisiveness. More "your either with us or the terrorists" nonsense. The war in Iraq, both in concept and execution of strategy, was labeled as beyond criticism. Republican politicians, and some Democrats such as Senator Joseph Lieberman, were more than willing to go along with branding their political opponents as traitors if they dared to question the necessity of the war.

So it was a little surprising to see that Obama throwing his support to Lieberman last night at a rally in Connecticut. Lieberman's willingness to embrace the politics of anything goes when it comes to the critics of the war in Iraq just doesn't seem to fit with the vision of American Obama had presented the nation at the convention. In Lieberman's world there are no "patriots that opposed the war in Iraq" only those of us who "...undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril." Lieberman wants to divide us in the worst way possible and to his own expedience.

I don't expect our elected representatives to support us 100% of the time. Politics is the art of compromise, or at least it used to be. Barack Obama should vote his conscience on the issues that come before the Senate.

But if he wants to be President some day he cannot compromise on his vision of America. He just lost a ton of credibility in my eyes by throwing in with Lieberman. We're either all in this together or we aren't. You can't have it both ways.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Now instead of a big dark blur, I see a big bright blur.

Democrats rolled out their new national security platform with little fanfare, not for lack of trying. To get the national media to notice a strategy rollout by the Democratic leaders in a meaningful way you'd pretty much have to have Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi take the press conference wearing domanatrix outfits. Even then the reporters would be yawning about two minutes in unless Harry started to crack the whip, so to speak.

As predicted the platform was a long list of sensible security strategems ranging from better protecting our ports to actually putting some sort of effort into catching Osama bin Laden. Republican leaders, whose favorite line of attack over the last few months has been to accuse the Democrats of not having a plan for national security, quickly denounced the plan for national security as a stunt. Vice-President Cheney who is probably the most irony-challenged Republican in America responded to the plan by saying Democrats didn't have a credible plan for hunting down Osama. I assume he prefers we stick with the Bush "I don't know where he is and I really don't spend much time thinking about him" plan. It's a weird thing to be attacked by the Vice-President of an administration that believes pixie dust will bring the evildoers to justice.

On Iraq we get more of the same wimpy crap the national Democratic leadership is so good at. At some future date when the Iraqi military is somewhat ready to take over we might kind of maybe think of removing a few of our troops. Or not. Murtha's carefully crafted approach to strategic withdrawal to neighboring countries on a fixed timetable is nowhere to be seen.

Putting aside how bad it is for America to have the major opposition party to the party in power continue to refuse to actually oppose, I can't for the life of me see how this is good politics. Iraq is George W. Bush's war. George W. Bush is the Republican's spokesman (or "brand" as Ken Mehlman told the G.O.P troops this week.) As much of a mess as Iraq is does anyone expect it to be better situation come November? Democrats continuing the "me-too" ing on Iraq are putting the party in a position where they'll be considered part of the problem, not the solution when election time comes around. And let's not forget Iran continues to loom just off the political radar. How will the Democrats be able to throw any type of opposition to an expansion of the war in Iraq into Iran if they don't draw a line on how the current war is being prosecuted?

Once again my favorite whipping boy; the Democratic party leadership have failed to do what's necessary to lead. They presented us a security plan that's been polled and focused-grouped to within an inch of it's life and expect us to applaud it as some sort of heroic act of bravery. Here's an idea: if you want to change the perception of the party as being weak why not actually stand-up to an unpopular President and his unpopular war. Shut down the Senate because Frist continues to refuse to open the second phase of the Iraq war intelligence investigation. Do something. Anything. But for God's sake don't give us another position paper.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Come and live with me in peace and safety, away from all the Wangdoodles and Hornswogglers and Snozzwangers and rotten Vermicious Knids.

Immigration is very much in the news as the legislature debates reform packages and politicos run wild.

What I find absolutely fascinating about the immigration debate is that it's one of those issues where everybody seems to have taken extreme positions on points which are really peripheral to the central question.

As an example I give you Thomas Sowell of the conservative RealClearPolitics who takes the "Undocumented workers do the jobs Americans will not do" argument to task--

Americans will not take many jobs at their current pay levels -- and those pay levels will not rise so long as poverty-stricken immigrants are willing to take those jobs.

If Mexican journalists were flooding into the United States and taking jobs as reporters and editors at half the pay being earned by American reporters and editors, maybe people in the media would understand why the argument about "taking jobs that Americans don't want" is such nonsense.

So the only thing keeping Americans from mowing the lawn at Jack Nicholson's Hollywood mansion is the immigrant worker willing to do it for so much cheaper. Remove the pressure of the immigrant willing to work on the cheap and Voila! An American gets a high-paying job in landscaping. Makes sense.

Speaking for myself I'd rather have a well paying job in an office or a laboratory. You know the kind you have to move to India to get.

23 March 2006 -- According to Information Week, Dell Computer and consulting firm Capgemini have become the latest tech powerhouses to publicly acknowledge plans to significantly increase headcount in India in order to tap the country's highly skilled, but relatively lowly paid, IT and business services workforce.

Dell could double its current Indian workforce of 10,000 over the next three years, a company spokesman confirmed on Monday. The Times of India and other Indian newspapers reported that company chairman Michael Dell announced the plan during a weekend roundtable with business reporters in Bangalore. Dell Computer will add the new positions "if the Indian market grows the way we believe it will," the spokesman said.

The middle class is getting squeezed. On the bottom end of the middle class they're competing for jobs with migrant workers and and a decreasing number of manufacturing jobs. On the upper end of the middle class the college educated are having to compete for a dwindling number of IT jobs stateside because of outsourcing.

This is the real issue that we're skirting for all the talk of immigration reform. For the last thirty years this country has pursued economic, tax and trade policies that are detrimental to the middle class. We've pursued these policies with the twin goals or competition and productivity with idea that's good for American business is what's good for America. We need to begin to disabuse ourselves of this notion and return to the policies of the late 40's and 50's, adopting the philosophy that what's good for the middle class is what's good for America.

It is only after our government initializes reforms that grow, rather than shrink, the middle class that we'll be able to deflate the symptoms of the problem such as immigration and outsourcing. Until that point forgive me if I don't begrudge our short, orange immigrant buddies from Loompaland.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!

Andy Card resigned from the White House today, presumably to "spend more time with his family." The "more time with family" excuse for leaving is often mocked but I don't see why people have such trouble believing it. If I'd served this administration in the pursuit of unmitigated worldwide evil throughout their villainous plotting I'd probably want to do something wholesome and pleasant as well before spending an eternity screaming in hopeless pain as hell's fires burned away my flesh and Satan's imps laughed sadistically while they built naked pyramids out of the souls of the condemned and took smiling mug shots for their buddies smiling and pointing at those of us forced to wear dog collars and crawl through the white-hot ash and brimstone.(*)


Sorry about getting carried away.

Anyhoo, it seems like just last week that Bush was saying he didn't need to mix-up his staff because the steady, reliable idiocy his administration has delivered is good for the country:

"I've got a staff of people that have, first of all, placed their country above their self-interests," he said at the time. "These are good, hardworking, decent people. And we've dealt with a lot. We've dealt with a lot. We've dealt with war. We've dealt with recession. We've dealt with scandal. We've dealt with Katrina.

"I mean, they've had a lot on their plate. And I appreciate their performance and their hard work and they've got my confidence," he said.

Bush said, "I'm satisfied with the people I've surrounded myself with. We've been a remarkably stable administration, and I think that's good for the country."

It'd be hard to miss all the chirping by the talking heads about the need for Bush to shake-up his staff. Rumsfield and Rove are the names most often thrown out as possible replacements but really everybody in the cabinet has been bantered about. The idea seems to be that Bush could arrest his low poll numbers by changing course. Or at least putting another helmsman at the wheel.

I've had a hard time finding myself interested in this sort of supposition, personally. I don't really see Bush's low poll numbers as America's problem.

Bush is America's problem.

The chance to make a change in course and fix that problem was November of 2004 and the American people collectively blew it. No matter who is crewing the ship as long as we keep the same Captain and First Mate. You know; the one's that keep insisting that the big iceberg we're heading straight towards is really a giant marshmallow.

Things won't turn around until Bush walks out of the White House in January of 2009 and gets on that Marine helicopter. Everything short of that is just a tempest in a teapot.

(* I was curious to see where I'd wind-up after I die so, rather than soul searching and introspection which would take like forever I found the online test linked below. As a virtuous non-believer I'm going to Limbo. At least I won't be on the 8th level with the Bush administration hacks. Oh, and take my score summary worth a hill of beans. I scored "low" in gluttonous. I have news for you Mr. online-hellquiz-maker: I'm PLENTY gluttonous, thank you very much.)

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very High
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Moderate
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's" Inferno Hell Test

Monday, March 27, 2006

I love it when a plan comes together.

Two Pinnacles of Leadership in January of 2003 discussing the looming war in Iraq:

The memo, written by Blair's top foreign policy adviser David Manning, declares that the two leaders believed that "diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning." Among other things, the two leaders predicted a quick war and "manageable" aftermath. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups," and Blair agreed.

Something that's made we want to gouge out my own eyeballs these last several years is the continuing reminders that our foreign policy is being determined by a man that spent his entire life avoiding expending the energy necessary to find out about the world around us. I mean could anybody seriously argue that if you asked George W. Bush what the causes of the First World War were he could give you a logical summary? That stammering, bumbling knucklehead who yammered incoherently through the first debate with Kerry is the REAL George W. Bush.

The man has just enough knowledge to keep up with a discussion of foreign policy between drunken yokels at the local tavern and not nearly enough by half to make the actual decisions on policy he makes each and every day.

"Bush predicted it was 'unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religous and ethnic groups..."

(Howard Dean Scream) YEAARRGGGGHHHH!!!!! (/Howard Dean Scream)

As my old pappy used to say, if at first you don't succeed, try something else.

Our own principled Maverick John McCain told the Iraqi government that the American public is losing patience with the conflict and that they need to quickly form a unity government.

It's nice to know John McCain is willing to buck the system and cut out on his own. Especially when most Americans now consider the Iraq war a mistake. *SNARK* Way to show us some of that "straight talk" you're so well known for.

But then McCain has repeatedly demonstrated that, in a profession known for it's allegiance to bullshit, he'll be second to none in his willingness to pretend or say anything in order to score political points. He could have spoken out against the war and the poor execution of same at any time during the last three years but he chose to sit on his hands until the tide of public opinion turned.

I've wondered of late what the young, heroic John McCain would say if he were somehow able to meet this older, shallower Senatorial incarnation of his former self. Would he be ashamed at pandering and posing? Would he see what we see see; a man whipped so badly by George W. Bush during the 2000 primaries that he's rolled over like an abused dog? The younger McCain had the guts to survive torture by the North Vietnamese during the war. The older McCain throws his principles out the door at the first hint of tickle-torture by Bush and Rove.

Unlike Senator McCain, I can't believe that the younger McCain would find much in common with a man who used his surrogates to defame the service of a decorated fellow soldier. Much less a man that dishonorably slandered his own wife and family.

McCain has become the best example yet of a Potempkin Senator. Built for the cameras but when you open the door and peak inside there's nothing of substance.