I saw and heard Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, on C-Span warning how Republicans would remain true to their "principles" and never approve any assistance to distressed homeowners underwater on their mortgages.
It would appear these mean Republicans would rather a financially distressed homeowner suffer foreclosure with the result of an empty bordered up house on their block than cut the unfortunate person any slack with his/her mortgaged indebtedness.
One of the Democratic proposals is to allow a bankruptcy court to order mortgage indebtedness be reduced to the current market value of the property. So if a person in bankruptcy owes $200K on his home mortgage but his house and land is worth only $150K, a bankruptcy judge would be able to order a "cram down" of the indebtedness from $200K to $150K. The result would be that there would be no foreclosure, no bordered up empty homes, no deterioration of the real estate property values in the immediate neighborhood.
But this "cram down" is anathema to mean and nasty Republicans. It is against their sense of "personal responsibility." The never-cut-a-sucker-a-break mentality. Republicans have no sense of decency or giving a person a fresh start. No wonder their party is associated with the rich and wealthy and always against the common man.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
MEAN HOUSE REPUBLICANS RANT AGAINST RELIEF ON UNDER-WATER MORTGAGES - IT OFFENDS THEIR SENSE OF "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY"
I saw and heard Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, on C-Span warning how Republicans would remain true to their "principles" and never approve any assistance to distressed homeowners underwater on their mortgages.
I was especially unhappy with Barack Obama's comments last night about Iran. He seemed to go along with everything McCain said, such as that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, that it is an "existential" threat to the region, and that Iran is responsible for the super lethal IEDs inside of Iraq.
First of all there is no evidence from the IAEA that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. If there was evidence, that would be another thing, but to date there is none. Yet the neo-cons and war mongers like McCain and Lieberman insist the opposite. So why would Barack Obama go along without raising a peep?
The same for the IEDs. This was the talking point of the Dept. of Defense under Rumsfeld. Yet when called upon to produce evidence, the DOD had nothing. Yeah, the Army laid out a whole bunch of IEDs that it said came from Iran, but the proof could have just as well come from some Iraqi's basement on a home made tool and dye.
During all of this bull****, Barack Obama offered no objections. His performance on Iran was truly depressing.
OBAMA NEEDED MORE PREPARATION FOR DEBATE, ALWAYS ON DEFENSIVE, FAILS TO WHACK MC CAIN ON CIA TORTURE, GEORGIA OR WAR WITHOUT END
The New York Times reports in today's paper that after John McCain said that he was breaking off his campaign to return to D.C. for the bail-out talks and that he wanted to cancel last night's debate, Barack Obama too stopped preparing for the debate. Apparently, the Obama camp had set up an elaborate training site in Florida with stand-ins for the moderator Jim Lehrer and for McCain. Maybe this is what McCain's transparent ploy had in mind.
Obama last night seemed flat and not well-prepared. For example, he said nothing to contradict McCain's claim that he always opposed torture in interrogations even though McCain sided with Bush in voting to allow the CIA to continue that abominable practice.
Obama failed to point out that it was Georgia and Saakashvili who started the Russian/Georgian war by lobbing lethal shells and missiles at the mostly Russian civilian population in South Ossetia. And he stayed mute even when McCain derided him for saying at the beginning of the conflict that both sides need to exercise restraint.
Obama said nothing when McCain said he was naive for saying that he would have talks with world leaders such as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (whose pronunciation McCain slaughtered along with Ahmadinejad of Iran) and Cuba's Raul Castro.
Obama was too laid back, too placid, too boring. I attribute all of these failings to his suspension of debate preparation. If I was a campaign adviser, I would read him the riot act.
Friday, September 26, 2008
One of the predictable fall-outs from Bush's rush to set up a missile defense system in The Czech Republic and Poland came today when Russia announced it was going to beef up its nuclear deterrent system.
The BBC reports:
"The announcement comes just weeks after Russia accused the US of starting a new arms race by siting part of its missile defence shield in Poland.
""We must guarantee nuclear deterrence under various political and military conditions by 2020," Mr Medvedev told military commanders.
"He said it was necessary to build "new types of armaments" and to "achieve dominance in airspace", according to quotes carried by the Itar-Tass news agency."
So because of George Bush and his incompetent foreign policy, the whole world faces another nuclear build-up.
Can Iran be faulted if it too wants nuclear weapons as deterrents to U.S. hegemony?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
So now Bush is front and center in pushing his bailout of the Wall Street firms and banks. And, according to Barney Frank, a deal looks promising that includes caps on executive compensation for those firms that take advantage and sell their toxic debt to the government, protection for homeowners in bankruptcy proceedings in being forgiven the amount their mortgage loan exceeds their equity, and Congressional supervision. So much for Bush and Paulson arguments that caps on executive salary would force some banks to refuse to "participate." Oh yeah, right! The government stands ready to buy their toxic worthless debt at 100% of face value when it is worth zero on their companies' books. Yet Bush and Paulson led us to believe that then the executives would "refuse to participate." Not in your wildest dreams!
And how about that John McCain. What a statesman. He is foregoing campaigning to return to Washington where he will single-handedly solve this whole mess. What a patriot? As Barney Frank said, however, he hopes McCain does not gum up the agreement that has nearly been finalized between Democrats and Republicans.
And maybe, John McCain can avoid that foreign policy debate with Barack Obama on Friday night in Mississippi. This way, on his strongest suit, where McCain can describe how he was a patriotic prisoner of war in VietNam and ask Obama what he ever did, perhaps McCain can delay the debate to more closer to the election on November 4th.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Many bloggers have commented already on that specious argument of Bush and Paulson to the effect that, if Congress puts salary restrictions on top executives of banks and brokerage firms that sell their junk investments to the Treasury, it will prevent significant participation.
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post has an especially sarcastically funny article.
But consider this. You're a big executive of Citibank or Goldman Sachs with millions or billions of worthless bonds in your inventory. Would you decide not to participate in this billion dollar government giveaway and bailout when you could sell the toxic junk to the government for 100 cents on the dollar when the junk is worth maybe only at best 10 cents? Don't tell me that you would walk away from the chance to double or triple your company's bottom line in this way because you don't want to take a cut in pay, from say 10 million to only two million.
That's the Bush/Paulson argument why Congress should avoid hassling those guys making 10 million plus whose only reason for such pay was that they nearly bankrupted their companies and drove them to almost total financial ruin.
Oh yeah, right!
Congress needs to step back away from the brink of handing Paulson his 700 billion and think this one out more carefully. Executives should not be rewarded for the lousy job they have done. To the contrary. If they want their banks and brokerages to turn worthless junk into pure gold, they need to put some of their own money into the pot.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Congress should refuse to go along on the 700 million + bailout of financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. These investment banking firms made bets that could have brought them billions in profit. Instead, the mortgage markets went against them and now they stand to lose billions.
Just as the government does not bail out individual investors who make the wrong call, so too the government should not rescue these Wall Street firms.
Furthermore, no one in the Bush government has been ready to lend a helping hand to the millions whose homes either have already been foreclosed or who now find themselves in foreclosure proceedings.
Congress, turn down the Bush proposal. Let Wall Street firms work it out themselves. Don't spend tax dollars rescuing financial firms at the same time that the government refuses to help the homeowner in foreclosure peril.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
TRUCK BOMBING OF MARRIOTT HOTEL IN ISLAMABAD POINTS TO BAD U.S. POLICY IN VIOLATING PAKISTANI BORDERS
Today's massive truck bombing in front of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad is tragic for the large loss of life and destruction.
But one thing it shows - how misplaced and wrong the U.S. policy is towards unilaterally attacking villages and their mainly civilian populations in the North-Western tribal areas of Pakistan. Over the last several weeks, the U.S. has entered Pakistan multiple times without approval from the government of Pakistan. The incursions happened either with U.S. special forces or with American unmanned drones.
These attacks and breaches of Pakistan sovereignty and territoriality are sure to incite the Pakistani street into more acute hatred and dislike for the Americans. Not to mention the effect on the more conservative and close-minded Pakistani jihadists.
Today's bombing seems the work of deranged and sick minds, yet Pakistani nationalism and hatred for foreign invaders surely added fuel to the fire for those desiring revenge against the United States.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Why must the Bush administration, and specifically Condoleeza Rice, continually criticize Russia for defending Russian nationals living in South Ossetia?
Today Rice pompously warned Russia that it faces isolation from the West.
The BBC reports on Rice's speech. Even though for the first time (that I know) that Rice acknowledged that Georgia and its president Mikheil Saakashvili started the conflict, Rice went on to blame Russia for its actions.
""Russia's leaders violated Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and launched a full-scale invasion across an internationally recognised border," she said, adding that Russia had also violated the terms of a ceasefire negotiated by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ms Rice said it had been "deeply disconcerting" that Russia had tried to "dismember" Georgia by recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and argued that Russia's actions were part of what she described as a "worsening pattern of behaviour". "
What would the U.S. do if Mexico attacked Tijuana with missiles and artillery and aimed them at civilians, mainly American citizens, who happened to be living there? It would be hard to believe that Bush would not send in several brigades of marines to protect the American ex-patriates from Mexican aggression against a defenseless civilian population.
So why all the condemnation of Russia for doing the exact same thing in South Ossetia after Saakashvili ordered the bombing of Russian civilians living in Tskhinvali, the capital of Ossetia?
Rice and Bush are hypocrites. They know that allowing Georgia to join NATO is a direct threat to Georgia's neighbor, Russia. Suppose Georgia was already a NATO member, other NATO members would have been obligated to join the fighting and fight the Russians. This is insanity and totally irrational.
The world must stop Georgia from becoming a member of NATO and must stop Bush and Rice and Cheney from starting a war with Russia in the last few months of their term.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The United States under George Bush is making the same catastrophic mistake in Pakistan that it has been making continuously in Afghanistan: bombing villages and houses and schools with war planes and/or unmanned drones.
The BBC reports that at least five Pakistani villagers have died in the latest U.S. air strike with a missile from an unmanned drone.
"The officials said missiles hit the village of Baghar in South Waziristan, close to the Afghan border. . . .
"The incident came as the top US military commander met Pakistani officials to discuss growing tension over US attacks along the border.
"At least six people were injured in the attack, according to BBC correspondent Dilawar Khan in the neighbouring North West Frontier Province.
"Four missiles were reportedly fired at the village of Baghar Cheena, about half a kilometre from the Afghan border."
These attacks from the sky invariably kill local villagers, innocent men, women and children. The very nature of dropping a bomb, even a "smart" bomb, kills ordinary people just happening to be in the vicinity. Children are always vulnerable because the "enemy" here consists of heads of households who happen to be religious jihadists angry at Americans for invading and occupying Islamic countries like Iraq. Bush would have us believe that the "enemy" is an organized group that likes to attack Americans. He forgot to say that this "group" mainly is composed of illiterate villagers and farmers who resent Americans occupying or attacking their country and other Islamic nations.
I call upon the U.S. to stop and desist from any further air raids whether with manned bombers or with unmanned drones. Airplanes should not be used to kill and incinerate people on the ground. Airplanes should perform only peaceful purposes.
Furthermore, I want a United States that does not have "enemies." Otherwise, Americans will find themselves in a state of continuous war, whether with Pakistan, Afghanistan, or whomever.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Now Georgian president and Bush protege Mikheil Saakashvili is engaged in a public relations campaign to prove to the world that the Russians attacked first on the night of August 7th.
C. J. Chivers reports in today's The New York Times:
"Georgia has released intercepted telephone calls purporting to show that part of a Russian armored regiment crossed into the separatist enclave of South Ossetia nearly a full day before Georgia’s attack on the capital, Tskhinvali, late on Aug. 7.
"Georgia is trying to counter accusations that the long-simmering standoff over South Ossetia, which borders Russia, tilted to war only after it attacked Tskhinvali. Georgia regards the enclave as its sovereign territory."
But the intercepted phone calls are ambiguous at best. Russia did have troops in South Ossetia before the attack, and the phone calls could easily be interpreted as moving units in and out. So the Georgian claim that Russia was moving in vast quantities of men and arms is without hard evidence.
Even with the presence of Russian troops approved by the EU as peace-keepers, Saakashvili was wrong in ordering the Georgian army to begin shelling the civilian population of South Ossetia and its capital Tskhinvali.
Georgia claims South Ossetia as its own territory but for hundreds of years, the Georgians never got along with or accepted the Ossetians and vice versa. In fact, they despised one another. No wonder that most of the Ossetians rejected Georgian sovereignty.
Saakashvili thought he could bomb the Ossetians enough so that they would capitulate. It reminds me of the U.S. strategy in Vietnam. Destroy this town in order to "save" it. Saakashvili and the Georgians would rather destroy Ossetia than lose it to Russia.
Now Saakashvili is trying to claim the Russians started it all. Little evidence of that in today's NY Times.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Yesterday both Venezuela and Boliva kicked out the American ambassadors. At the same time Honduras refused to accept the credentials of the new U.S. ambassador. This was a horrible day for U.S. diplomacy and shows the results of the dismal approach of Bush and Condoleeza Rice towards Latin America.
Both Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia are in the process of re-doing their agreements with foreign oil and gas companies for the purpose of keeping more revenues and profits in their own countries from the sale of their indigenous natural resources. Of course many Republicans and neo-cons here in the U.S. see this as "socialism" and a dire threat to the "American way of life." But what Morales and Chavez are doing is exactly the same as what is now happening in Russia under Medvedev and Putin, only the Latinos are not using physical threat and force.
This is no reason for the U.S. under Bush to make the Venezuelans and Bolivians out to be "enemies." And certainly the U.S. should mind its own business and refrain from trying to aid opponents of Chavez and Morales in overthrowing democratically elected governments.
Friday, September 12, 2008
The Republicans might well win the election and then we will have Sarah Palin as vice president. Last night on ABC, Palin had no idea what Charlie Gibson meant by the infamous and notorious "Bush Doctrine." My question then is, where has she been for the last five years? The lady obviously does not keep up with current events. The Bush Doctrine allows for unlimited, unending war. It used to be a truism of U.S. foreign policy that the U.S. would never start a war. Now with the Bush Doctrine, anything goes. Preemptive wars, preventive wars, wars based on a president's whims. And Palin has no idea of any of that.
Furthermore, her answer to whether the U.S. would go to war with Russia was downright scary. She said, "Perhaps, so." Here we have a case of that hot head, neocon, Bush protege, Mikheil Saakashvili ordering Georgian army to attack a civilian population in South Ossetia. And attack they surely did, with lethal missiles and a heavy barrage of deadly artillery. Enters Russia to defend the many Russians in South Ossetia. Palin thinks this would be a casus belli?
If the Republicans win, and Palin is the next VP, be prepared for more war, more irrational foreign policy, more dumbing down from the new administration. Incredibly, some Republicans say that Palin represents the new face of the Republican Party. They may be right.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti write in today's The New York Times that President Bush has given secret orders allowing American incursions and attacks on the tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan.
This is outrageous and another example of Bush's flouting of principles of international law. Bush may have the authorization under American law by virtue of the AUMF passed in October 2001, but it is an affront to the rule of law in Pakistan, and will have the certain effect of creating even more animosity of Pakistanis towards Americans.
Report Schmitt and Mazzetti:
"The classified orders signal a watershed for the Bush administration after nearly seven years of trying to work with Pakistan to combat the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and after months of high-level stalemate about how to challenge the militants’ increasingly secure base in Pakistan’s tribal areas. "
No country is allowed to enter another sovereign country without permission or conduct military raids against nationals living in that country. I don't care whether it is done for a good purpose or not. This simply violates all the provisions of international law and the rules of the United Nations.
The alternative is the dark world of Bush and Cheney where everything goes and international law evaporates into just another meaningless platitude. And no, the argument that the world is different after September 11 is not sufficient to create a lawless violent world where the "forces of good" are aligned against the "forces of evil, and the "good guys" can do anything they want outside the realm of law to the "bad guys."
Mazzetti and Schmitt write:
"Pakistan’s top army officer said Wednesday that his forces would not tolerate American incursions like the one that took place last week and that the army would defend the country’s sovereignty “at all costs.” . . ."
"Unilateral action by the American forces does not help the war against terror because it only enrages public opinion,” said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, during a speech on Friday. “In this particular incident, nothing was gained by the action of the troops.”"
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
REPUBLICAN ATTACK ON OBAMA FOR LIPSTICK REMINDS ME OF SOUTHERN RACISTS ATTACKING BLACK MEN FOR DISRESPECTING WHITE WOMEN BY LOOKING AT THEM
This tempest in a teapot that the McCain people are stirring about Barack Obama and his remark about lipstick reminds me of the experience of many a black youngster in the deep old South. A young white lady walks by, a black man happens to look her way, and all of a sudden, the white Ku Klux Klan is accusing the man of disrespecting the white woman.
There is little difference between McCain coordinator Steve Schmidt's campaign against Obama and the white domination and denigration of blacks in the South.
The lipstick on a pig comment was clearly not directed against Palin, but what if it was? It is harmless enough. She was the one who originally said that lipstick made the difference between a hockey mom and some mean attack dog.
The Republicans under Schmidt are trying to belittle and embarrass Obama into apologizing. But Obama is right, there is nothing to apologize for. It is John McCain and Sarah Palin who should apologize to Barack Obama.
McCain's people are like the racists in the old South who were always trying to put down the uppity Negro.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
President George W. Bush's decision to redeploy more troops into Afghanistan is another strategic blunder in his "war on terror." The people who are fighting U.S. troops there are not terrorists but tribesmen like Pastuns who resent the presence in their country of foreign troops, especially when those foreigners drop bombs onto houses in their villages, causing the deaths of countless women and children and civilians.
Nor do Afghanis like it when American forces storm their homes in the middle of the night, search and frisk their women and wives, and otherwise turn their bedrooms into shambles.
The U.S. should not be fighting in Afghanistan. The War in Iraq was a mistake. The war in Afghanistan is just as wrong. The hunt for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar should be done as a police action, not as a battle involving the U.S. Army or the U.S. Air Force.
The move of Bush to put more American soldiers will just have the effect of increasing American casualties. As history shows, many times in the past foreign armies have invaded and tried to subdue the tribesmen in Afghanistan. Not one foreign army has ever succeeded.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sandy Levinson has an intersting analysis on the legal blog Balkinization on why McCain is still considered by many to be more presidential than Barack Obama. Many people want a "constitutional dictator" in the footsteps of Bush who even now assumes dictatorial powers in the "fight against terror."
"[T]he undercurrent of the McCain candidacy, as has been true of the Bush Administration, is that we need a strong-man President, the equivalent at times of a "constitutional dictator," in order to "stand up," which means, among other things, playing fast and loose with legal constraints on the President. (Indeed, the Bush Administration position is basically that there aren't any legal constraints on the President when acting as Commander-in-Chief.)"
Levinson points out that Hillary Clinton's 3 AM ad really was touting herself as more dictatorial and power-arrogating than Obama possibly could be. Levinson writes:
"As I've argued earlier, the tacit message of Clinton's notorious "3AM" ad was the existence of a dictatorial president who would make unilateral (and instantaneous) decisions to respond to America's enemies. A truly serious debate would explore the extent to which McCain (and Obama) agree with such a picture, as against their concession that presidential authority is considerably more limited (though, of course, we might all support the idea of "unlimited" authority in some extreme situations). Followup questions could include whether any of the law-breakers in the Bush Administration will be held accountable, including the possibility of prosecution and punishment upon conviction for participating in war crimes. I would be shocked beyond belief if any of the media stars who will be running the debates will be interested (or capable) of asking such questions. Jim Lehrer wasn't even willing to ask about Abu Ghraib four years ago in the first Bush-Kerry debate, and I see no reason to expect better of him this time around."
Levinson bemoans the mindless way many voters go about choosing their preference, not based on issues but on raw impressions. This is the same point made by George Lakoff about whom I posted several days ago. The race will not be won on issues but on personality impressions and code words and phrases.
So I second Levinson's wish that TV moderators ask the candidates what they think about presidential power and the constitutional limits imposed. The vast body of American voters should not be allowed to form impressions about the candidates without seeing and hearing what Obama and McCain think about Bush's "unitary executive" and whether they judge it in conformity with the U.S. Constitution.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Ellen Barry writes a must-read piece in today's The New York Times on life in South Ossetia. Bush and especially Cheney keep saying that Russia must respect the "territorial integrity" of Georgia, but what if the people there don't want to belong to Georgia? Cheney totally ignores the will of the people when he professes support for Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's neo-con American-leaning prime minister. Instead of backing a plebiscite or referendum to let the people there decide, all he does is to foolishly repeat, respect the sovereignty of Georgia.
But the NYTimes article reveals the depth of the animus of South Ossetians towards Georgians, and vice versa. Writes Ellen Barry:
"Over the next three years, Tskhinvali became something like Belfast in Northern Ireland.
The government in Tbilisi established Georgian as the country’s principal language, enraging the Ossetians, whose first two languages were Russian and Ossetian. A few months later, more than 10,000 Georgian demonstrators were transported to Tskhinvali in buses and encircled the city, until they were repelled by Ossetian irregulars and Soviet troops. A true war began in 1991, when thousands of Georgian soldiers entered Tskhinvali. The city was shelled almost nightly from the Georgian-held highlands, and Medeya Alborova recalls holding pillows over her teenage daughters’ heads, as if that could protect them."
No wonder the Ossetians want nothing to do with Saakashvili or the Georgians. Georgians have always looked down upon the people of Ossetia and they even sent in troops back in 1991. It was the Georgian army attacking South Ossetia.
Continues Ellen Barry:
"Even after a cease-fire in 1992, Tskhinvali was isolated from the Georgian territory around it, and accounts of atrocities against Ossetians — rapes and grisly killings — circulated endlessly."
Now place Cheney's support for Georgia's "territorial sovereignty" against this background of discrimination, atrocities and ethnic hatred between the Georgians and the Ossetians. Cheney seems pretty small, doesn't he?
Saturday, September 6, 2008
We don't need Dick Cheney stirring up trouble with Russia over its recent action in Georgia to protect civilians who would rather be Russian than Georgian. Cheney was in Lake Como today denouncing the Russians and saying that NATO would not allow Russia to get away with its actions.
Roger Runnigen reports today in Bloomberg:
"Vice President Dick Cheney increased U.S. pressure on Russia, saying its attack on Georgia last month and ``bullying'' of other former Soviet states risk a confrontation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
Fortunately it appears that other European statesmen are taking a calmer and saner approach, eschewing the military option so favored by war mongers like Cheney in favor of a less dangerous diplomatic approach.
"The Georgia crisis ``can only be solved politically and not with warships,'' French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters today after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Avignon, France. France brokered the cease-fire that ended the five-day war over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, though Russian troops remain inside Georgian territory in defiance of Western calls to pull out."
Runnigen reports on more of Cheney's militaristic threats and bluster:
"Cheney accused Russia of ``bullying others'' while using its oil wealth to fuel its own economic progress.
"``They cannot presume to gather up all the benefits of commerce, consultation and global prestige, while engaging in brute force, threats or other forms of intimidation against sovereign countries.'' "
Cheney is dangerous. Americans still must suffer more than four months of him before his term is up. Let's hope he does not start another war during this time.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The BBC reports today that Condoleeza Rice is visiting Libya, the first American high official to do so in some 50 years.
Rice makes the inane comment that "America has no permanent enemies." But America should not have any "enemies." Then the U.S. need not worry whether they are permanent or only temporary. Americans should not view Iran as an "enemy." Iran has done nothing to the U.S. in terms of dropping bombs or killing Americans. The same for North Korea, Syria or a fortiori Venezuela. True Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has called George W. Bush "Satan" and similar names. But U.S. foreign policy should not characterize Venezuela as the "enemy" because Chavez insulted our great leader.
BBC Radio also reported that Gazprom, the Russian gas behemoth, had recently tried to enter into an exclusive agreement with Libya and Qaddafi to develop Libyan oil and gas fields.
The desire to keep open channels to Libyan oil might explain why Condoleeza Rice is so anxious to visit Libya and offer tokens of friendship.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
BBC Radio had a report today from St. Paul and the Republican Convention. The BBC reporter was asking delegates why they are in fact Republicans. Most of them answered that it was the values of the party, such as family values, including marriage, anti-abortion, one man, one woman, and the sort. But there were other "values" as well: a strong military, self reliance, low taxes. Unspoken were still others : anti-immigrant, anti-Social Security, anti-government.
Speaking of immigration policy, the Republican Platform includes items like being against states granting undocumented workers a drivers license. Also included a provision against amnesty, a wish for more speedy and effective deportations and a English-as-the-official-language plank.
All in all, the "values' enunciated by the Republicans are not my values. That's why I am a Democrat.
Republicans like to make much about family values but then these turn out to be discrimination against those who have non-traditional families. They talk about the sanctity of life from the moment of conception, but yet have no qualms dropping bombs on the "enemy" that kill hundreds of children. They believe the family is sacred yet they are quick to deport the father of an immigrant family because he came here looking for a better life for his family, thus breaking up that family and separating parents from children.
Republicans believe in dismantling Social Security Retirement Income program because they say each person should be in charge of his own retirement savings. But what happens to the people who wind up without any personal savings? No answer from Republican values for this one.
Republicans say there is too much government, yet there are intractable problems of society that only government can handle. Like helping people caught in a natural disaster such as a hurricane. Or regulating food safety. Or building infrastructure. Or providing retirement income based on a person's working history and contributions.
No, Republican "values" are not my values. Rather they reflect who Republicans are and what they stand for: extremist views, mean, vindictive, petty and militaristic.
I remarked several posts ago on why I thought it was improbable and desperate for John McCain to choose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. I wondered about how Palin could do this with five children.
I recognize this comment now as sexist and inappropriate.
However, I still do believe that parents have an obligation to be parents to their children. So I would fault both Sarah Palin and her husband in the event they both took jobs that took away their parenting role to their children.
I think Sarah Palin has just as much right as her husband or any man to take a job and pursue a career. But there must be someone in Palin's family who can be a parent. In view of Sarah's choice to hold political office, Todd, Sarah's husband, needs to commit himself to be the parent at home raising the children, and especially to take care of the four-month old who has Down syndrome.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Now the United States rewards Georgia and Saakashvili by giving grants for reconstruction of infrastructure so Georgia can rebuild what was destroyed in the two-week war with Russia. What lessons should we learn from this?
For Georgia the lesson is clear: start a war of aggression against those in South Ossetia and Abhkazia who want independence. Send in the army, the tanks, the soldiers. Fire missiles and artillery at the civilian population to force them to give up claims of independence. Kill hundreds of civilians. Then claim victimhood after Russia enters the fighting and kicks your ass. Receive a reward from the U.S., get one billion from George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice in American money.
Something is wrong with the above story line.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I mentioned the NY Times/CBS poll in an earlier post today. One other point stands out.
The poll asked, which is most important to you: that the government provide adequate health insurance for everyone or that taxes be lowered. A whopping 77% of Republican delegates choose lower taxes. That is shameful! To put reduction of taxes in front of universal health care means that these Republicans don't give a damn about those who cannot afford health care premiums. Let them go to the emergency room! That's the Republican response and it's mean and incredibly selfish.
To be fair, only 53% of Republican voters choose tax reductions over providing universal health coverage, but it is still a majority of Republicans who think this way. How can anyone vote Republican when they would put personal profit over allowing everyone to have adequate health care?
Yesterday's The New York Times carried the a report written by Jackie Calmes and Megan Thee on the results of the latest NYTimes/CBS poll.
Democrats should focus on the poll's results because they clearly show that many if not most Republicans are extremists in their views towards the most important questions facing the electorate.
For example, 79% of Republican convention delegates approve of the way that George W. handles his job as president. But how about Republican voters? Some 63% approve George Bush. I find this amazing and at the same time troubling. How could anyone approve Bush or his management of the White House? This means that most Republicans approve George Bush's use of waterboarding and torture, his predilection for extraordinary rendition, his denial of Constitutional rights, his locking up prisoners without trial or charge, without benefit of counsel, without access to the federal courts. And how about Bush's sexing up the evidence to justify the War in Iraq? How can anyone, even a Republican, approve these un-American ways, practices and values?
Yet these same Republicans are nothing if not consistent. As to the war in Iraq, 70% of Republican voters approve taking military action in Iraq. Republican delegates approve 80%. Do these guys every read the papers? Do they really believe the Bush bull that Iraq is and was the center of the "war on terror?" Even though Saddam had nothing to do with bin Laden and even though Saddam was more secularist than Islamist, people like Dick Cheney still try to claim a connection. Like Dick Cheney, these Republicans must get all their news from FOX. Together with their energy mantra, Drill, drill, drill," they also seem to shout, like John McCain, their militaristic "Bomb, bomb, bomb," in response to the world's problems.
Monday, September 1, 2008
This is my third post today on Sarah Palin. But I want to bring to your attention a perceptive blog by George Lakoff on The Huffington Post today.
Lakoff believes that Democrats misunderstand the whole electoral process when they stress issues and world realities. The election is not about objective realities but about voters' perceptions of code words. In other words, the Democrats must frame the issues in terms of voters' perceptions.
"Election campaigns matter because who gets elected can change reality. But election campaigns are primarily about the realities of voters' minds, which depend on how the candidates and the external realities are cognitively framed. They can be framed honestly or deceptively, effectively or clumsily. And they are always framed from the perspective of a worldview."
So it is not about Palin's supposed lack of experience or knowledge of foreign affairs, but about how voters perceive her. Lakoff believes that it is important for Democrats to correctly and accurately frame Palin as just another Republican extremist meany. Palin is just another Bush/Cheney clone who thinks everything can be solved at the barrel of a gun. Someone who wants to privatise Social Security because she chooses not to see people in need who need Social Security retirement income to just get by. Someone who thinks that the hospital emergency room is the answer to people who cannot afford health insurance.
Palin is a Republican mean extremist who would gladly deprive people of food stamps at the same time she gives upper incomes a tax break. Someone in the mold of Bush/Cheney who thinks that campaigners for civil rights are just uncivil troublemakers. Or like Phil Graham, McCain's economic advisor, who thinks those who complain about the economy and the housing crisis are whiners.
Talk about mean and extremist. Can anyone better fit the description than Sarah Palin?
I posted today about Sarah Palin's lack of qualifications to be vice president. Some may think my criticisms unfair and sexist, but I had the same qualms about George W. and look what happened. The electorate chose someone "likeable" (Bush that bully!) over competent and knowledgeable Al Gore. I guess it is possible that the electorate will find Palin acceptable and deserving to be elected, but I certainly do not, not at this time. And I fear the same disaster in foreign and domestic policy, the same melt down, the same disregard for Constitutional protections if Palin gets in as what happened when Americans elected Bush and Cheney.
The electorate needs to know Palin's opinions. Does anyone know how she feels about Iran? Or about Russia? (No it is not enough to say that Palin is governor of Alaska which is the state nearest to Russia). How would she get American troops out of Iraq? What is her attitude towards Palestinians? Towards Israel and its new settlements?
And on the domestic front, what are her plans for Social Security? Does she want to privatize it the way that McCain and Bush propose? And what about domestic eavesdropping without FISA court approval? And what does she think about immigration and ICE's treatment of immigrants caught up in those dreadful raids?
Does she believe in waterboarding or other "enhanced interrogation methods?" How does she feel about depriving Guantanamo prisoners of Constitutional rights such as habeas corpus or the right to counsel? Does she believe in the use of force as the main tool for American diplomacy? Does she agree with Bush and Cheney that military force makes right? Does she approve of the Bush doctrine on pre-emptive war?
These are some of the things no one knows yet about Sarah Palin.
I don't think that people whether male or female are going to vote for her without knowing where she stands. So far, she seems not to have expressed many opinions other than drill for more oil.
I still think this selection of Palin shows how desperate McCain must be about winning the forthcoming election.
Steve Clemons writing in his blog The Washington Note has an interesting post on Sarah Palin. Steve thinks that Palin can do damage to Obama and that she should not be underestimated. I left a note on his blog and here it is:
"Hi Steve, I cannot believe women are going to find Sarah Palin attractive and dynamic enough to vote for her. What is her vita? That she was a governor of Alaska! Is she capable of becoming president? Does anyone really think she is! And how about her five kids all under 17?
"Sure Palin is articulate and bright, but to run for vice president is a bit of a stretch, don't you think?
"McCain must be desperate.
"As for Obama and Biden, of course they should treat up with respect, avoid being condescending or disrespectful."