Political Critic Archives - July 2006


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Monday, July 31, 2006 - 12:00am

All Hell Breaking Loose in the Middle East

The United States and Israel now stand alone against the rest of the world.  The United Kingdom is now looking for an immediate cease fire.  In fact, after yesterday's attack in Qana, the United States is beginning to distance themselves from the actions of the Israeli government.  The comments coming out of the White House on Sunday imply that it is no longer 100% behind the Israeli government.

   Hizbollah continues to launch rockets near schools and residential areas and they should and have been condemned for that, but that doesn't make it acceptable for Israel to bomb those areas anyway.  Qana is just one example of the fault of both sides.  Hezbollah hides among these civilians, making them vulnerable to attack.  Israel, for its part, simply does not care if civilians are present.

As it stands now, Israel is losing this war.  Three weeks ago, moderate Arab nations were condemning Hizbollah and were agreeable to an Israeli response.  Today, Arab nations are rallying around Hizbollah and their hatred of Israel has grown exponentially.  In the latest polling, support for Hizbollah in Lebanon has grown from 59% before the war to 87% now.  This will only help them recruit more terrorists to their organization.

Israel clearly has a right to defend herself, but they are going about it all wrong.  Air strikes are both ineffective and sloppy, especially against a guerrilla enemy.  Even with precision guided munitions, Israel is killing few virtually zero Hizbollah fighters and hundreds of civilians.  Israel needs to go in on the ground with an overwhelming amount of force to root out Hizbollah and remove the rockets that are being fired on Haifa and elsewhere.

Thus far, Hezbollah has only suffered losses when Israel sent ground forces into southern Lebanon.  Israel lost a number of soldiers, but they were able to kill many Hezbollah fighters.  Street to street and house to house fighting must be done.  It is the only way Israel is going to win both militarily and politically.  Air strikes do not work.  The images of dead civilians are broadcast around the world within hours and public perception is immediately changed.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like a ground strategy will be followed.  Israel has agreed to stop attacking for 48 hours, but they will likely resume their air strike campaign for another week or so.  After that, the U.S. will broker a cease fire.  Perhaps Israel gets a buffer zone and maybe they give back the Golan Heights in return, but neither is looking very probable right now.

Friday, July 28, 2006 - 12:20am

Charles Barkley for Governor of Alabama

I feel the need to lighten the mood on this blog due to all the recent hostilities.  Plus, anytime I have an excuse to talk about sports on here is always a good thing.  So leave it to Charles Barkley to give me that reason.  Sir Charles wants to run for the Governor of Alabama.  Unfortunately for Chuck, he has discovered that he must live in Alabama and reside there for seven years before he can run.  So he has stated that he would run in 2014.

   I found this video of Sir Charles from 1993 on how he is not a role model.  I thought it appropriate for this post since he basically wants to be one now.  The great part about Charles is that he is brutally honest and is accountable to nobody.  He says what he means and means what he says.  He's not always right, but he often points out some things that need to be said, but never are.  He'll even tell you that he's not always right.

Charles Barkley running for office would be the greatest thing ever if only because he is the best interview and is always quotable.  He would just tell you exactly what is going on in the political arena.  To give you an idea of Barkley's quotability, he once threw a guy through a plate glass window back in 1997 and said his only regret was that he wasn't on a higher floor.

As for his political affiliation, Barkley was a lifelong Republican, but recently switched to the Democratic Party.  His exact quote was "I was a Republican until they lost their minds."  He went on to say "What do the Republicans run on?  Gay marriage and for a war that makes no sense".  Of course, he didn't exactly have kind words for Democrats when he said that they don't really know what they're doing either.

For what it's worth, Barkley seems very good intentioned.  He believes he was put on this earth to do more than play basketball and "die with $50 million" in the bank.  Nice problem to have though.  He wants to help poor people get a better chance in life.  It's very idealistic and not so easy, but I take my hat off to him for wanting to try.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - 12:00am

More Troops to Baghdad

I've advocated for months now for the U.S. and their allies to send more troops into Baghdad in order to bring some level of security back into the country.  Sectarian violence has gotten progressively worse in the last year and the only way to restore stability is to inundate the dangerous part of the country with troops.  Well, it looks like President Bush and Iraq's Prime Minister have agreed to send more troops into Baghdad.  The number of troops that will be going is unclear, but what is clear is that a number of MP's will be going.

As much as I'd rather have the troops home and out of harms way, I believe it is necessary to do whatever we can to protect the ones that are currently there.  When the Iraqi military is trained and the country is somewhat stabilized, that is when the troop level should decline, but not before.

People on the left argue for a withdrawal and/or a redeployment.  Unfortunately, that doesn't solve the problem.  It was a mistake going in to be sure, but leaving now would only make the situation worse.  Iran is already a growing power in the region.  A stable Iraq will serve as the only legitimate check to Iran's unbridled power.  That is absolutely necessary.  Without a counter to Iran, they will cause even more havoc than they are now.

It remains to be seen if this increase in troops in the most dangerous spots will help, but it can't hurt.  More eyes and ears to protect each other's back is always a good thing.  I'd personally like to see other countries help out more and build the troop level to 300,000, but that doesn't seem likely at the moment.  At 300,000, we would be able to clear out hostile areas and, more importantly, be able to stay in that spot to stop further violence.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - 12:00am

Go Home Condi!  Send Someone Back Who Gives A Damn!

Nearly two weeks after the bloodshed started, Condoleezza Rice decided she would go to Israel, but not before making an unscheduled stop in Beirut.  The trip to Beirut was nothing more than a photo opportunity to pretend that the U.S. government cares about the massacre in the city.  In her brief visit, the Prime Minister of Lebanon begged and pleaded with Ms. Rice to cease fire, but she would have none of it.

   Beirut now resembles New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.  Many journalists that have reported from Beirut speak of the same smell and carnage that they witnessed in the World Trade Center attacks.  Condoleezza did not go see any of this death and destruction that has engulfed Beirut.  Instead, she chose to use her time to lay out unreasonable terms for a ceasefire.

Condi did accomplish one thing.  She got Israel to be more careful and strategic about their targeting.  That sounds great, but it also reveals that Israel was not being careful before, as they massacred civilians at an alarming rate.

You disagree about the Israeli massacre?  Consider this: Israel is reportedly using chemical weapons against Lebanon.  The chemical weapon of choice is incendiary phosphorous.  This is a chemical that burns through your skin until it reaches the bone.  The U.S. government also used this weapon in Iraq last year in their attack on Tikrit.

Now if you're going to fight against people that want to build weapons of mass destruction, it helps if you don't use them yourself.  If you're going to fight against people that kill your civilians, it helps if you don't kill their civilians.

Monday, July 24, 2006 - 12:05am

While Israel and Hezbollah Fight, Iraq Gets Even Worse

While the mainstream media is fixated on the war in Lebanon and Israel, the fight over Iraq has worsened.  It's hard to believe that it could get devolve any further, but it can and it has.  There are now over 100 deaths in Iraq every single day.  Just yesterday, two car bombs exploded and killed 62 people.  That was just two incidents.  There are dozens and dozens of bombings every day in Iraq.

   The media still refuses to call it a civil war, preferring instead to now call it all out sectarian violence.  The government in Iraq is screaming to anyone that will listen that they have been in a full scale civil war for some time.  Unfortunately, the U.S. government is afraid their poll numbers will go down, so they claim the media is exaggerating the level of violence.  The conservatives, who are in absolute denial, refuse to acknowledge the obvious.  They would rather blame the media for all that troubles them.

The truth is that Iraq is in a civil war and U.S. troops are caught in the middle.  The situation is also the root cause for the escalation in violence between Hezbollah and Israel.  The world police are pre-occupied in Iraq, so other rogue nations (Iran, Syria) feel the need to push the envelope.

What needs to happen in Iraq in a breakup of the country into three pieces.  The Shia, Sunni, and Kurds all need to go there separate ways.  Divide the country up and create borders.  It's not that hard.  These people don't get along anyway.  We should stop trying to force them to.

If you divide the country up, the violence will decline.  Then, simply train the troops and get the hell out of there.  Forget this 'we're going to democratize Iraq' garbage.  Our only goal should be to create relative safety and security.

Friday, July 21, 2006 - 11:30am

U.S. Government Rejects Kofi Annan's Plea For Cease Fire

Kofi Annan was more than a week late, but he finally spoke out yesterday, begging for a cease between Israel and Hezbollah.  Under intense pressure, he had held off calling for a cease fire until now.  He criticized both Israel and Hezbollah for their actions of the past ten days, but made it clear he wanted the fighting to stop.  The United States immediately refused an end to the war, calling it a 'simplistic' solution.

   This is simply unacceptable.  The Lebanese government, who has not fired a single round, is begging for mercy and the United States government has basically told them to go to hell.  The world community is also pleading with Israel and the U.S. to call off their war machine, but to no avail.  Israel and Hezbollah continue to fight with no end in sight.  Each day, both sides commit heinous crimes against humanity and the only outside country that prefers it is the United States.

People wonder why the world hates America, or more specifically, the American government.  If you're still wondering, here is your answer.  Innocent people are dying in Israel and Lebanon every day and the world's greatest superpower does nothing.  Not only that, but they are purposely delaying Condoleezza Rice's visit to the area so that the killing can continue for a few days longer.

Bush and his thugs are stalling so that Israel can do their dirty work for them.  As a result, extreme anger is building against the nation.  The anger is now coming from all parts of the world, as civilians in Lebanon from many countries have left and are speaking about the horrors they witnessed.  The world knows that the U.S. can stop this at any time.

A week ago, the world was coming together against Hezbollah.  Moderate Middle Eastern governments were condemning Hezbollah and so was the rest of the globe.  Israel had an opportunity to win world support for their unending war against the terrorist group.  Instead, they haphazardly attacked spots in Beirut, a place where hundreds of thousands of tourists gather every summer.

Now it is unclear when, or if, the violence will stop.  One bomb from Syria into Israel or vice versa and this war could escalate beyond belief.  Let's hope the U.S. government wises up before it's too late.

Thursday, July 20, 2006 - 12:00am

Israel Killing Civilians at a 10-1 Ratio

For a country with precision guided missiles, the Israeli military is not very precise.  Nine days into the war, Israel has killed over 300 civilians while Hezbollah has killed 29.  Hezbollah's rockets have no guidance system.  They are fired toward civilian populations.  Israel supposedly has missiles that can hit within feet of their intended targets.  Why then are there so many dead women and children in Lebanon?

   It begins with a mentality that is completely screwed up.  Benjamin Netanyahu was on television tonight to state that Hezbollah hides in civilian areas so that they cannot be targeted.  Ok, I can buy that argument to some extent.  The problem is that Israel bombs them anyway.

Netanyahu has the gall to say that the civilians that die by Israeli missiles are Hezbollah's fault.  Um, no.  The country that deployed the F-16 that fired the missile that blew up the innocent people is responsible for their death.  I guess it makes Netanyahu sleep better at night if he believes otherwise.

The government just doesn't get it.  They really don't.  They kill civilians and blame their enemy for it?!?  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Don't you think Hezbollah is making the same argument?  I'm sure when they lob bombs into Haifa, they rationalize the deaths of innocent people as Israel's fault.

Israel has a target list that they've been building for the past six years.  They have run over 600 sorties (airstrikes) and have not gone through the entire list yet.  So why not take the targets that have a high probability of civilian deaths off the list?  It wouldn't be hard to figure out which ones risk more civilian casualties.  It's clear they have hundreds of other targets they could strike, so why not focus on those?  You would still weaken Hezbollah greatly and would greatly minimize the number of dead bodies.  I guess that's asking too much.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 12:00am

Abandoned in New Orleans, Abandoned in Lebanon

Where, oh where is the U.S. government?  The French, British, and Italians evacuated their citizens from Beirut days ago, but the most powerful nation in the world still has their people trapped in a war zone.  Much like the Katrina tragedy in New Orleans, America is failing again at logistics.  Other countries don't seem to have any problems, but the U.S. government can't seem to get their act together.

 The U.S. is chartering a cruise ship to take Americans out of Lebanon, but as of this writing, they had only taken 350 of their citizens out of the country.  To make matters worse, the U.S. government wanted these people to pay to get out.  They changed their mind a few hours ago, but only under intense media pressure.

If you didn't figure it out from Katrina, you should know now that you can't count on the government in an emergency situation.  In the past, the American government was always the first to respond in situations like this, but today they seem to be in disarray.

While American-made bombs continue to destroy Beirut, 25,000 Americans remain in the country.  Israel has already killed eight Canadian civilians.  It is only a matter of time before one of their bombs kills an American.  But don't worry, it's just 'collateral damage.'

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 12:00am

Hezbollah Will Only Grow Stronger

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  It is an old proverb that still rings very true today.  There are a lot of people in Beirut and throughout Lebanon that hate Hezbollah.  They would like nothing more to see Hezbollah out of Lebanon and democracy take hold.  However, when your enemy is fighting the country that is bombing you back to the stone age, you begin to think that maybe they're not all that bad.  Such is the mindset of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens today.

   There is a reason that Hezbollah is 30,000 strong.  Every time Israel drops a bomb in the middle of a crowded neighborhood and kills dozens of civilians, including women and children, a new Hezbollah recruit is born.  People that wouldn't even think of joining the radical group may now reconsider.  They'll take up their differences with Hezbollah at a later time because right now they must focus on the enemy that is causing the most immediate danger .  In this case, to the people of Lebanon, that enemy is now Israel.

The non-Hezbollah people of Lebanon may not have been friends with Israel a week ago, but they were not enemies either.  Now the situation is different.  Israel has killed over 200 civilians and very few Hezbollah militants.  They have eliminated electricity and water supplies.  They have bombed airports, bridges, roads, and have cut off millions of people from the outside world.  Citizens have been forced to leave their homes and their country.  If they weren't able to leave, they now live in constant fear of death.

Israel has created over a million enemies in less than one week.  If only a small fraction of those people decide to pick up a gun and join Hezbollah, Israel will have lost.

Israel makes the argument that Hezbollah offices are purposely placed around residential areas, so when they bomb, civilians will inevitably be killed.  It is a reckless and sloppy argument.  I don't dispute Israel's claim that these targets are in civilian areas.  I question the way they destroy the target and the recklessness involved.  If you know full well that civilians are in a location, you do not, I repeat, do not fire missiles into that area.  If you must destroy a target, you go in with special forces to take it out.

Somewhere along the way, powerful nations decided to trade off civilian deaths in order to preserve their military personnel.  They conduct air strikes from thousands of feet above ground and hope to "minimize civilian casualties."  The problem is that it never minimizes civilian casualties.  Civilians get killed constantly because these nations don't want to get their hands dirty.  That is why the enemy grows and gets stronger.  For every woman or child that is killed, there is a brother or son or father or uncle or nephew that is now your enemy.

That is why Hezbollah will get stronger.  In the short-term, they will be weakened, but they will regroup and they will have a great number of new recruits to help them.

Monday, July 17, 2006 - 12:00am

Is the U.S. Fighting Iran Already?

Israel is now in an all out war with Hezbollah, with bombs passing each other in the sky, headed for death and destruction.  However, if left to their own devices, Israel and Hezbollah would not be very powerful.  The United States is responsible for making Israel the military power that they are and Iran and Syria are responsible for making Hezbollah stronger.

   In this video, John Gibson believes that the U.S. is already in a war with Iran, doing their fighting through Israel and Hezbollah.  I hate to agree with Gibson, but he may be right in this case.  The kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers may have been the trigger point, but this conflict has escalated well beyond that incident.

I believe the real trigger point is the war in Iraq.  That war has weakened the United States and the military might that they possess.  The war is not going well and the military is stretched thin.  Other countries now feel empowered to do as they please, as the only world power is bogged down in another country.  That is why you see North Korea and Iran causing trouble.

It says something when Hezbollah is hated by other Muslim countries.  They are a terrorist organization that has resorted to airplane hijackings and suicide bombings in the past.  Unfortunately, Iran either pushed them or approved of them attacking Israel six days ago.  Perhaps it was to divert attention away from Iran's growing nuclear ambitions. 

Iran knew that Israel would retaliate against Hezbollah.  Iran also knew that Israel would target Lebanon and Hezbollah long before they ever came after them.  In fact, Israel would have to attack Syria before it could start a war with Iran.

Thus far, Israel has been smart in not attacking Syria.  Invading Syria would be much more difficult, especially with Iran supplying them with weapons.  Israel is by far the strongest power in the Middle East, but even they would have trouble fighting Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran all at the same time.

If history is any lesson, this conflict will not be solve militarily.  A third party needs to come in to stop the bloodshed.  It looks like the U.S. government has no interest in a cease fire, so someone else needs to step up.  Let us all hope it happens sooner rather than later.

Friday, July 14, 2006 - 8:15am

Israeli Government Out of Control

It is clear now that the Israeli government is no better than Hamas or Hezbollah.  They succeeded yesterday in killing at least 50 innocent civilians in Lebanon.  The bombed bridges, they bombed the Beirut airport, and they bombed the suburbs.  During the day, they were also firing artillery shells indiscriminately into Lebanon.  What's even more frightening is that they were firing one every minute.  Israel is simply using the kidnapping as an excuse to kill innocent people.

   Russia and the European Union have already condemned the attack on Lebanon and I must do the same.  Unfortunately, the United States will not condemn the actions of Israel and is allowing them to do whatever they want.  George Bush stated today that Israel must be allowed to defend herself.  Well, in case he hadn't noticed, Israel is not defending herself against the militant group that captured their soldiers.  They are starting an all out war.

The U.S. government condemned the conduct of Hamas and Hezbollah, but they must also condemn Israel for purposely using their superior military to kill civilians.  If these attacks on Beirut are not stopped immediately, more civilians will be killed by the Israeli military.

What is at risk for the rest of us is World War III.  Israel also may attack Syria, as they are behind the funding of Hezbollah.  Iran has already come to the defense of Syria.  They stated that an attack on Syria would be an attack on Iran.  An all out war in the Middle East could easily force other countries to choose sides and start fighting. 

Of course, Israel is attacking the weakest of the three nations that oppose them.  Lebanon can not defend herself against an Israeli attack.  They do not have the military might to take on the powerhouse that is the Israeli military.  Lebanese citizens are already leaving Beirut in droves, fearful that Israel may kill them in random airstrikes.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00am

Say Goodbye to Lebanon and Gaza

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Israel was recklessly bombing Gaza and wanting to escalate the violence in the region.  After one soldier was kidnapped, Israel had decided to bomb everything in site.  It now appears that they have succeeded in creating a more widespread conflict.  On Wednesday, Hezbollah, the militant group in Lebanon, kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed three others at the border of Lebanon and Israel.  In return, Israel immediately sent troops into Lebanon to attack.

   The Major General and Head of Israel's Northern Command stated that "everything is legitimate" to attack in Lebanon, meaning that they will not limit themselves to bombing just Hezbollah targets.  Israel's Chief of Staff also said that they will "turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years".

The best way to describe Lebanon is to compare it to today's Iraq.  Chaos and bloodshed ruled the day 20 years ago.  Israel invaded the country in 1982 (for the second time) and occupied the south for 18 years.  It took a UN Security Council Resolution for Israel to completely withdraw.  That was only six years ago.  Syria also had troops in Lebanon and was also forced out by UN resolutions just last year.

Israel is using the kidnapping of their soldiers as an excuse to re-invade Lebanon and perhaps other nations.  Hezbollah is greatly influenced and funded by Syria and Iran, so these countries are also deeply involved in this conflict.  Israel invaded Syrian airspace two weeks ago, so it appears that Israel is baiting them into a war as well.

The Middle East is already in chaos at the moment and the last thing anyone needs is an all out war between Israel, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon.  Israel needs to show restraint in this matter.  The enemy is not the 3.5 million people of Lebanon or the innocent civilians in Gaza.  Hezbollah and Hamas are the enemy. 

Beirut is the largest city in Lebanon and has mostly recovered from the bombings and violence that destroyed it years ago.  If Israel insists on bombing it again, not only will they create far more enemies than they have, they will destabilize the entire Middle East and throw it into complete turmoil.  The United States cannot allow this to happen.  The administration must force Israel to control themselves.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 - 12:00am

The Axis of Evil Grows Stronger

Over four years ago, President George Bush described Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as an "Axis of Evil" that threatens the world.  Since that speech, Iran has enriched uranium, North Korea has reportedly doubled its nuclear arsenal, and Iraq has become a haven for terrorists.  In addition, the situation in Afghanistan has worsened markedly.  It's only a matter of time before another country causes major problems in the world.

   What has created this failed foreign policy?  Mostly, it is the struggle in Iraq.  Since the U.S. has committed so many troops and so many resources to Iraq, the problems in other countries have been overlooked, ignored, and neglected.  You could easily argue that foreign policy under President Clinton was a failure, but with President Bush, it is a downright disaster.

Conservative writer Bill Kristol said it best the other day when he stated that the situation in Iraq has made the administration too passive in confronting other threats.  I rarely agree with Kristol, but he is right on that point.  The military is stretched thin because of Iraq and as a result, the administration has fewer options when it comes to dealing with other nations.  They can talk tough about Iran and North Korea, but when push comes to shove, they can't do very much about it.

I've advocated keeping the troops in Iraq only until the Iraqi troops are trained.  I don't know when that will be, but they had better hurry up.  If the U.S. continues to be bogged down in Iraq, North Korea and Iran will continue to feel emboldened to do whatever they want.

Nearly six years into the Bush administration, it is clear even to conservatives that the world is in crisis.  The United States is the most hated country in the world and is considered a greater threat to world peace than any of the "Axis of Evil" countries. 

More and more nations are challenging the power of the United States because our government has created the situation that allows them to.  If the administration continues to be passive for the next 2+ years, God only knows what the world will be like.

Monday, July 10, 2006 - 8:00am

Criminal Accusations Against President Bush From a Republican

Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is the latest member of Congress to accuse the Bush administration of breaking the law.  Being the chairman, Hoekstra is privy to far more information that other members of Congress.  In a critical letter to President Bush, Hoekstra warned that the administration was breaking the law.  He was also referencing programs that are still classified and have not been told to the public.

Hoekstra is considered a hawk and has backed the Bush administration on many, many issues.  However, he is coming out publicly against these secret programs.  This should alarm people.  From what he implied, these programs go well beyond the spying issues that the public is currently aware of.  Hoekstra wouldn't say what the administration is doing, just that they need Congress to approve it.

When I hear a Democrat coming out against Bush, it is easy to dismiss the accusations as political rhetoric and/or grandstanding.  When a conservative Republican rips into the Bushies for illegal activity, you stand up and take notice.

Whatever the secret programs are, I'm sure someone will leak the details to the NY Times or The Washington Post.  Then the public will be informed.  Unfortunately, nothing ever gets done until the public is told and they raise a stink.

Friday, July 7, 2006 - 3:30pm

Losing Respect For Senator Joe Biden

Not that this will shock anyone, but another old, elitist, white male has made a racially insensitive remark about non-whites.  This time, it's Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) who decided he would make a stupid comment about Indian Americans.  I have the video here of his remarks, but his exact quote was "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.  I am not joking."

   Other people have made far more insensitive remarks, but how dumb do you have to be to say something like that in front of a camera.  This is a man who is running for President in 2008.  Does he not understand that you don't make racial jokes like that?  Imagine what he says when the cameras are off and he's just chatting with friends.

I've been going to Dunkin' Donuts pretty much every day for the past 15 years, so I'm generally familiar with the employee base.  Yes, there are a lot of minorities and Indian Americans at many of these stores around the country.  However, there are also a lot of white people.  Both of the Dunkin' Donuts I go to these days are predominantly white.  It simply depends on the location and the ethnic makeup of the area population.

Senator Biden's slur was not only insensitive, it was also inaccurate.  I was willing to look past the plagiarism from his past, but now he's made another mistake.  Biden is an expert on foreign policy and that is something this country desperately needs right now, so I am willing to overlook a lot. Nonetheless, I am quickly losing respect for the man.

Thursday, July 6, 2006 - 2:00pm

In Tennessee, Democrats Pin Hopes on Youth and a Last Name

I like Harold Ford Jr.  I do.  However, I can't get past his inexperience and his family's history of corruption.  I also don't understand why the public always gets candidates from the same families running for political office. Ok, I do understand...it's all about power and money.

Harold Ford Jr. was elected to Congress when he was just 26 years old.  He was still in law school when he was running for the seat and had basically never had a job before.  I don't know anyone that is qualified to be a Congressman at 26, let alone someone fresh out of school with no work experience.  Regardless, because of his name and his family's money, Ford Jr. was elected and has served his state for the last 10 years.

Now Ford Jr. wants to run for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.  So let's take a look at where Ford stand and what he believes in.

Even though he is a Democrat, Ford Jr. opposes equal rights for gays.  He supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, a bill that writes discrimination into the Constitution.  He is also generally supportive of George W. Bush..  Those are two huge negatives.  In addition, Ford criticized his own party for wanting to filibuster the appointment of conservative Samuel Alito.

In the last 13 important votes before Congress, Harold Ford Jr. has sided with the Republicans 7 times and with the Democrats only 6 times.  That is not exactly what I would call a loyal Democrat.  So Ford is either a conservative or he is pandering to the mostly conservative voters that make up Tennessee.  Either way, it's not a good sign for the Democratic party.

The important question is whether Ford would vote with the Democrats to investigate Bush should they regain control of Congress.

In current polling, Ford Jr. is in a statistical tie with his Republican challengers.  He will face a difficult battle to win the election.

I actually hope that Ford Jr. wins this seat, but only because I want the left to control Congress this time around.  However, Ford's lack of experience in the real world bothers me greatly.  It's extremely difficult to relate to a typical working class family when you come from an extremely wealthy family.  It's even harder when you've never held a job outside the political arena.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - 12:50am

Stop!...Or I'll Say Stop Again

North Korea decided to ignore warnings from the U.S. and test-fired six rockets yesterday, one of which was a long-range missile.  Luckily, the long-range missile failed in less than a minute and crashed harmlessly into the Sea of Japan.  This missile, the Taepodong-2, could reach Alaska and perhaps the continental U.S. in the future.  It appears to not be working at the moment, but experts say that North Korea is only ten years away from mastering the technology.

   Ten years is not a lot of time.  A rogue nation with nuclear weapons that hates America is not a very comforting thought.  The question is what, if anything, can we do about it.  Under Bill Clinton, such hostile actions were met with negotiation and economic relief for North Korea.  Under George Bush, a much firmer stance has been adopted.  I suppose you could argue either way about which method is better, but it might not matter either way.  Now, North Korea has test-fired missiles while both Clinton and Bush were President.

Bush's policy in essentially to talk tough, but take no action.  The problem with threatening North Korea if they test-fire missiles is that you have to back up your words if they don't listen. 

So what does the U.S. government do now?  In my view, there are four options.

1.  Continue to talk tough, but take no action.

2.  Impose economic sanctions against North Korea.

3.  Enter into private negotiations with North Korea in hopes of coming to some compromise.

4.  Conduct air-strikes against the fixed sites that launch the Taepodong 1 & 2 missiles.

Given yesterday's events, I believe the first option is not at all effective.  Washington talked tough for months and North Korea still test-fired these missiles.  The third option has also been proven to be ineffective.  The Clinton administration tried that and North Korea developed the Taepodong 2 missile in the meantime.

North Korea has hundreds of other missiles that could destroy Japan or South Korea, so an air-strike by the U.S. would leave those two countries extremely vulnerable to an attack.  The U.S. could take out some missile sites, but they would never get them all.  The U.S. also cannot afford to be dragged into another war.  The military is stretched thin and the money is not there to fight a protracted war in the Pacific.  Even though Australia and others would support us, I don't believe it is the right option.

That leaves us with economic sanctions by the world community.  North Korea relies very heavily on international aid to feed its people.  Unfortunately, this aid has also helped them build an army of 1 million and develop long-range ballistic missiles.

It's always tough to pull economic aid from a country, but North Korea is clearly using it for other purposes.  It is time to use economic sanctions to force North Korea to cease production of long-range missiles.  There is plenty of time for military "solutions" at a later date, but they are unnecessary at this point in time.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - 12:00am

The State of Connecticut Finally Gets Interesting

Welcome to the elitist state of Connecticut, where two Senate candidates to pick from just aren't enough anymore.  Senator Joseph Lieberman, who is doing his best to distance himself from the Democratic party, declared today that he will run as an independent Democratic candidate should he lose the Democratic primary against Ned Lamont on August 8th.  Lieberman has called it an "insurance policy" to make sure his name appears on the ballot in November.  Critics have called Lieberman is putting his own personal interests ahead of the Democratic party.

   Personally, I'm all for putting Lieberman on the ballot one way or another.  As my brother-in-law reminds me, voters should have the right to pick any qualified candidate.  Assuming Ned Lamont wins the Democratic primary, voters will be able to vote for him, Joe Lieberman, or Alan Schlesinger, the Republican candidate.  Since I'm a strong advocate for a third party, it's hard to argue an opportunity to pick from three candidates, even if two of them are Democrats.

This decision by Joe Lieberman actually gives Alan Schlesinger a fighting chance, even though he is in a heavily Democratic state.  Liberman and Lamont could theoretically split the Democratic and Schlesinger could win with 35% of the vote.  Thus far, the GOP has not put any money toward his candidacy, but it does open the door for them.

The reason Lieberman made this move is very clear.  In a head-to-head race with Lamont, Lieberman currently leads 55% - 40% over Lamont, but that gap sliding quickly.  In a three-way race, Lieberman is polling at 56%, with Lamont at 18% and Schlesinger at 8%.  Lieberman clearly has a better chance of holding his seat with both of the other candidates in the race.

I personally don't care for Lieberman, but he should at least be on the ballot.  We do live in a democracy after all.

This is the election that will show the power and perhaps the limits of the liberal blogosphere.  DailyKos and many prominent liberal blogs have endorsed Ned Lamont as the Democratic candidate.  That endorsement and the subsequent fundraising has helped him close the gap in the polls.  However, will it be enough for Lamont to win the primary and then the general election in November?  It is a long shot at best.  My prediction is that Lieberman will hold this seat when all is said and done.

Monday, July 3, 2006 - 12:15am

GOP Upset Over Supreme Court Ruling

One of the best ways to set up a system of checks and balances is the way the American government is set up.  With three branches of government, each piece should serve as a check to the next.  This doesn't always work as well as it should, but at least it's set up correctly.  I personally believe it works the best when the executive and legislative branches are run by different parties and the judicial branch is as close to neutral as possible. 

   When one branch oversteps their bounds, it is up to one of the other branches to reign them back in.  Such is the case on the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that the administration went too far in the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  In rightly citing the Geneva Conventions, the Supreme Court ruled that Bush could not order military tribunals for prisoners.

The breakdown in the system occurs when two branches of government act in concert with each other to subvert the third.  Whenever the GOP disagrees with the courts, they decide that it will find a way to overturn it.  This occurred during the Terry Schiavo case and is now coming up again.  The talking points were handed out for the Sunday morning talk shows and Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were front and center to state how mad they were at the Supreme Court's decision.  Senator Graham, who I generally agree with, was way off when he stated that Congress should challenge the ruling of the courts.

In this matter, the Supreme Court is 100% correct.  The Geneva Conventions are an extremely important accord that was signed by the United States and many other countries.  The basic tenet of the Geneva Conventions is the protection of human rights.  It makes it difficult to interrogate prisoners the way we may want to, but more importantly, it protects our soldiers from suffering the same treatment when held in captivity.  No, not every country follows these basic rules, but if we are going to hold ourselves up as the good guys, we damn well better.

I know the White House and the GOP-led Congress is not happy with this decision.  However, they must respect the court system.  Checks and balances in our government are paramount.  If it breaks down, we are all in trouble.

Saturday, July 1, 2006 - 9:30am

$292 Billion and Rising

With all this time we're spending in Iraq, the cost of the war is growing out of control.  Thus far, the United States has spent over $292 billion on the war.  That is over $7 billion every month.  That is also eight times larger than the amount of money Warren Buffett just gave to the Bill Gates Foundation.  The Bill Gates Foundation is 1/10 the size of the $292 billion that the Iraq war has cost.  It has made enormous strides in solving the world healthcare crisis.  Imagine if it was ten times larger.

   If you're not into solving world healthcare, how about solving the issue of border security.  For about one month's cost of the war, a 2,000 mile fence could be constructed on the U.S./Mexico border.  We could install cameras throughout the fence-line, pay border-patrol agents to secure the area, and have the funding to go after illegals that are continuing to break the law in this country.

There are many things that the U.S. could've done to better spend this enormous amount of money.  Instead, Bush and his delusional buddies decided that wanted to democratize Iraq.  Over three years later, they are no closer to their goal than when they started.  I'd say it hasn't been a great utilization of the funds.

Now, another problem facing the U.S. is the huge deficit that has resulted.  I didn't think I'd be saying this, but the largest federal deficit in history comes to us from Republicans.  Typically, it is the Democrats who spend us into oblivion. 

What does the deficit mean to the average American?  For starters, it means higher interest rates for everybody.  I won't bore with the economics of how this works, but in the end, you will be paying higher interest rates on your mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, home equity lines, etc.  Anything that requires you to borrow money will cost you more.

You may think this is a small price to pay, but it is not.  Higher interest rates on mortgages will greatly limit the appreciation potential on your home.  They will choke off growth of the economy as people will stop buying homes, cars, and any high-priced items.  This is a long-term effect to be sure, but it will catch up to us.  If something isn't done to reign in the federal debt (total) and deficit (annual), the U.S. will no longer  be a world economic power.

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