Tag: politics

Olbermann’s Special Comments

Perhaps the harshest mainstream critic of the Bush Administration is Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.  In resent weeks he has used the “Special Comments” section of his show Countdown to intelligently attack the stupidity of the administration.  Finally more of the media is beginning to wake up and acknowledge the uniqueness of his work. (from the Washington Post)

Last night’s Special Comment

It amazes me (and Olbermann) the stuff that comes out of the Bush Administration.  The seem to try to bend everything to perpetuate a culture of fear.  Trying to make us blind to the principles from our constitution that they are infringing on every day.  Make no mistake, if we continue down the road set out by this administration, we will be attacked again.  The actions of this administration do not protect us.  We are heading towards some sort of theocracy.  That is not a country I want to be a part of.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/olbermanns-special-comments/

Who is This America?

The scandal developing around former US House Rep. Mark Foley just blows my mind.  First of all, the breach of trust by the congressman is staggering.  But perhaps even more unsettling to me is the spin being put on this by the Republican leadership.  I’ve seen spin at first trying to down play the seriousness of the emails to even claiming that Foley was a “victim” of the 16 yr old boy. WTF? are you kidding me.  What is even more surreal about this whole thing, is that Foley helped craft the legislation that more than likely will should land him in jail.

Here is an excellent post on some of the aspects of the Foley scandal from Glenn Greenwald’s blog Unclaimed Territory: Various Foley Scandal Items 

What should be even more troubling to the administration and Republican leadership, is that it increasingly looks like this scandal could consume the upper echelons of the Republican House leadership.  The current Speaker of the House and House Majority leader have both been suspected of trying to cover up the Foley matter.  For details read this post from Greenwald’s blog: John Boehner = Denny Hastert plus Key Questions for Tom Reynolds.  Even the conservative Washington Times is calling for Hastert to resign.

So three high ranking Republicans were at least at some level involved in a cover up.  At least until the evidence was to great to overcome.  Then it was on to spin city.

I really don’t know what it means to be an American right now.  I’m really not sure it is something to be proud of.   I wonder if it is possible to restore what we’ve lost as a country in the past six years.

Update: This is ridiculous! According to Mr. Foley’s attorney, Mr. Foley was abused by clergy as a child and is gay.

So now the spin is trying to make this a “gay” issue.  As I read on another blog earlier, they are right, in one way it is a gay issue.  The fact that this man had hide who he was, be ashamed of who he was, because our so called “Christian” nation looked down on him is deplorable.  However, whatever may have happened to him as a child is still no justification for his actions.  His actions would have been just as disgusting if they were directed to a female congressional page.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/who-is-this-america/

We’ve lost all credibility…

As a nation, we continue down a road of insignificance.  Yesterday the House of Representatives passed HR 6166.  This resolution allows the following things: (from the sidebar of this CNN Article)

  • Requires that a defendant being tried by military commission have access to any evidence given to a jury.
  • Drops a section of the administration’s previous proposal that stated an existing ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment satisfies the nation’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
  • Prohibits “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions. Defines grave breaches as acts such as torture, rape, biological experiments and cruel and inhuman treatment.
  • Notes the president has the authority to interpret “the meaning and application” of the Geneva Conventions.
  • Allows hearsay evidence.
  • Allows coerced testimony if the statement was acquired before a 2005 ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and a judge finds it to be reliable. Bans coerced statements taken after the 2005 ban went into effect if it violates constitutional definitions of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • Bars individuals from protesting violations of Geneva Conventions standards in court.

(Bullet points from the Associated Press)

We are flaunting years of international agreements.  We are damaging America’s reputation with the rest of the world.  We are endangering our soldiers in future conflicts.  And for a country that is supposably “Christian,” we are not acting like it.  We will not be able to undo this legislation.  Even if the Democrats try to change it after the mid-term elections, they will not have enough votes to over rule a Presidential veto. Plus 34 Democrats voted for this resolution (names and states represented below the cut).  More than likely the Senate will pass this as well today and Bush will quickly sign it into law.

Why doesn’t American care?  What can we do?  Are we going to see a theocratic American in my lifetime?  These are my fears.  Its almost as if some of the “Christian right” are trying to speed along the rapture. 

US Senator Russ Feingold’s statement In Opposition to the Military Commissions Act

US Senator John Kerry speaks out as well as reported on The Democratic Daily

US Senator Hillary Clinton speaks as reported on Crooks and Liars

US Senator Barak Obama speaks as reported on Eschaton

Update: The Bill passes the Senate 65-34. 

Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/weve-lost-all-credibility/

A Definition of Cowardice

On Monday’s edition of Countdown, Keith Olbermann chimes in with another Special Comment.  The subject of this comment, Fox News interview of former President Bill Clinton.  [View Transcript (video is also available on the MSNBC site)]  I’ll quote a highlight below:

 Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done in five years.

He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

“At least I tried,” he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. “That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried.”

Thus in his supposed emeritus years has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by any one, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S.”

The Bush Administration did not try.

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance in American history!

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs–some of them, 17 years old–before Pearl Harbor.

President Hoover was correctly blamed for–if not the Great Depression itself–then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.

Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War–though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But not this president.

For me this is a scary thing.  The current administration seems to have no concept of humility.  As a country we have a huge responsibility to act as true leaders in the world.  We have done that in the past.  We are not doing it anymore.  If unchecked, we are heading to an authoritarian style of government.  Slowly our supposed “freedoms” are being whittled away in the name of “security.”  But are we safer from the actions of the current administration?  I would say in fact that we are moving further away from a world were some sort of peace is possible.  A place where instead of dividing, we as a world would be coming together.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/a-definition-of-cowardice/

Politics and Religion

I knew a little about this back in 2004 when it first came up, on Crooks and Lairs today there is a piece about the IRS investigation of All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA.  Why Doesn’t the IRS Investigate James Dobson?  Basically a former rector of the parish delivered an anti-war sermon a couple of days before the 2004 elections.  Not long after that the IRS came knocking threating to revoke the parish’s tax exempt status.  The reason: The Rev. George Regas’ sermon was seen as “endorsing or campaigning against a candidate in an election.”

So why isn’t organizations like James Dobson’s Focus on the Family being threatened with revocation of tax-exempt status?  Many of the “christian right” groups are activively campaigning for and against candidates.  Yet few of these groups are being investigated for violations of the tax code.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/politics-and-religion/

the media starts to stand up…

I liked Keith Olbermann when he was a sportscenter anchor on espn.  I like him more now that he is working in news outside of the sports world.  Now granted I don’t have msnbc, so I’m basing this comment on a few clips i’ve seen in the last few weeks on the crooks and liars blog.

On Sept. 11th, on his show “Countdown,” Olbermann talks about President Bush’s legacy 5 years after the Sept. 11th attacks.  Here is the link to the entry on crooks and liars: 9/11 Special Comment [Click through to view the video files].

In Monday’s Special Comment on Countdown, Olbermann talks about the President’s “justification” of the methods used in the “war” on terror.  [The President owes the country an apology] It amazes me that more of the country isn’t deeply ashamed of this administration.  It amazes me that the people of this country are still seemingly silent.  Maybe in November the mid-term elections will show that the “silent majority” really is fed up with Bush.  But what does it solve if we just get the Democrats back in control of Congress?  The administration seems to ignore the will of Congress now, and Republicans are in charge.

We like to call ourselves a “Christian” nation (especially the conservatives).  But are we truely living the gospel message?  Are we caring for the sick, the poor, our elders?  I don’t see it.  Heck, we don’t even do it for our own citizens, much less the global world that we want to lead by example.  We as a nation are falling short in our stewardship of the global community.  We need to be building up communities, even if they believe differently, instead of tearing them down.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/the-media-starts-to-stand-up/

tribute or exploitation

Splashed across the top of the CNN homepage is a banner stating: “CNN Pipeline presents CNN’s TV  coverage of 9/11/2001 free, in real time.  Starting at 8:30am.” (Read the CNN Release)

I’m not really sure what to make of this.  Part of me is disturbed that they are going to be re-airing this.  I wonder what the reasons are behind it.  Whether or not it will be used to exploit the public and continue the culture of fear that this administration likes to promote.

On the other hand, I think it is important for us to remember the events of that day.  To remember the courage of those who gave their lives to help try to save people trapped in the burning buildings.  To remember those who are still giving their lives because they helped despite the air being unsafe after the collapse.

I truly believe that Sept 11, 2001 will be one of the defining moments of my generation.  Much like the assinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. were defining moments of my parents generation.  I feel that the American people rose up and did a wonderful thing in the days after the attacks.  But I also feel that the current administration has tarnished that legacy.  By continuing to promote a culture of fear, of war and of moral superiority, I feel we discount the courage and love so many people showed in the days after the attacks.

It really makes what happened in South Africa after the fall of apartheid all the more amazing when you think about it.  Here was a situation where a minority of people had been exploiting the majority population for years and years.  Yet when this situation finally came to an end, a few men had the courage and strength to stand up and say, “I forgive you.”  They worked for reconciliation and peace.

A quote from Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain as Merton talks about Aldous Huxley’s Ends and Means:

The point of his title was this: we cannot use evil means to attain a good end.  Huxley’s chief argument was that we were using the means that precisely made good ends impossible to attain:  war, violence, reprisals, rapacity.  And he traced our impossibility to use the proper means to the fact that men were immersed in the material and animal urges of an element in their nature which was blind and crude and unspiritual. (Merton. 202-3)

One small glimpse of grace in our chaotic world.  Just imagine if we approached all our conflicts with a goal of reconciliation and peace.  With grace in our heart.  What a wonderful world that would be.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/tribute-or-exploitation/

Bush’s Role in History

As told by The Onion:

The Onion

Bush: ‘History Cannot Judge Me If I End It Soon’

WASHINGTON, DC–Despite, or perhaps because of, rising fuel prices, the unpopularity of the U.S. presence in Iraq, and mounting legal…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/bushs-role-in-history/

An “Alternative Set of Procedures”

On his blog, Da5id posted on President Bush’s acknowledgement of “secret prisons” to Katie Couric yesterday.  I quote his entry below:

“Alternative set of procedures” is what Bushed called torture. He was describing how the CIA has secret prisons for terrorists (not suspected, because Bush already knows they’re guilty – it’s good to be king) abroad and when “normal” interrogation techniques don’t yield enough information, these alternative set of procedures are used.

I have two things to say about this:

1. When you use the word “alternative” it means something other than what is normally done. I strongly suspect that what is normally done is within the law and when that doesn’t work, they need to go outside the law. You wouldn’t need to call them “alternative” if they all fit within the law, now would you? They would all exist in the same subset. “Alternative set of procedures” reeks of political spin. Kind of like one of the times when Bush updated the reasons why he invaded Iraq by saying that “weapons of mass destruction related program activities” had been found.

2. Then he goes 1984 on us and says he can’t describe these alternative techniques because then the bad guys would be able to learn to resist them. Right. As if anyone can resist the effects of weeks without sleep chained to a cement floor. With the recent story of a Judge declaring that Bush’s wiretapping is illegal, I don’t think our nation can afford to let him continue doing things in secret. He essentially wants us to blindly trust him that he’s not doing anything illegal and not allowing anyone to check. Today he said, “I’ve said to the people that we don’t torture, and we don’t.” Tough to swallow from an administration with a track record of lying. Unchecked power is not a hallmark of democracy.

On a side note, every now and then the truth will slip out:

“I mean that a defeat in Iraq will embolden the enemy, and will provide the enemy more opportunity, to train, plan to attack us, that’s what I mean. One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror,” Mr. Bush said.

What I find interesting about President Bush (and the larger administration) is that after months of denial about this kind of stuff, they finally come out and admit that “well actually, yeah, you were right, this stuff has been happening all along.”  But will it make a difference?  I tend to think it won’t.  I think the majority of America, even if they don’t believe that what he’s doing is “right,” like the fact that President Bush strongly believes that what he’s doing is right.  Maybe the upcoming midterm elections will show me something else (because America rising up against a sitting President and calling for new elections doesn’t seem likely).  Even if the Democratic Party does oust the Republicans from control of the Congress, I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference.  We’ll still be in Iraq and Afghanistan, middle and lower-class American’s will still be dying for a war that essentially about oil and we still won’t be providing even basic health care for a good percentage of our population.

I personally think that as the world’s most comsumptive and financially powerful society, we have a responsibility to both our own citizens and the global citizens to strive for peace and a healthy sustainable world.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/an-alternative-set-of-procedures/