Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The First Debate

I've waited to write about the first presidential debate for a couple reasons. One, my sister gave birth to my nephew, Colin, last Wednesday, and I've been busy visiting her and the baby and just keeping tabs on her in general. Two, I wanted to see what discussions would ensue in the media after the debate. However, the bailout bill has pretty much taken over the airwaves, so what happened during the debate was popular for like a minute. But a minute was long enough to see that Sen. Barack Obama came out on top.

Going into the debate, I knew he'd do well, but I also knew the Sen. John McCain would try to use Obama's supposed lack of experience against him. Obama wasn't fazed, though. He gave great answers and, more importantly, sounded presidential. McCain also did well, for the most part, if you only look at his answers. McCain had his missteps, like saying that Pakistan was a failed state or that Obama would be foolish to speak out loud about going into Pakistan after Osama bin Laden, as if Obama were talking about full scale war, which he wasn't. Obama hasn't said he wants to attack or invade Pakistan. He has specifically said that if the U.S. has Osama bin Laden or other top al Qaeda lieutenants in our sights, we need to act, if Pakistan won't. Isn't that what we have been after all this time -- the terrorists? McCain accused Obama of not supporting the troops because he opposed a funding bill that had no timetable, neglecting to mention that he, McCain, also opposed a funding bill because it HAD a timetable. So gee, looks like McCain doesn't support the troops either, by that logic. McCain also argued back and forth about Iran, and this idea that no one would sit down for talks with Iran without preconditions. Obama brought up Henry Kissinger, and McCain ridiculed Obama's statement that Kissinger said he would sit down with Iran without preconditions, stating that "By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who's been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama's depiction of his -- of his positions on the issue. I've known him for 35 years." I'm sure Kissinger would, considering that at a Sept. 15 forum, he said just that. Not that he would sit down with President Ahmadinejad, which Obama didn't say, but that he would sit down with a high level member of the Iranian government. McCain again looked like a fool for pointing out something so forcefully, but being wrong.

And it was this foolishness that lost him the debate. Well, that foolishness and more. As McCain should know, voters look at far more than words during a debate. Who acts presidential? I'll tell you it wasn't McCain in this debate, and this is why. It was his condescension. The constant statement of "what Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand." His refusal to look at Obama, as if Obama weren't even there. His refusal to address Obama in the first person. McCain acted as if he were just having a conversation with Jim Lehrer, not a debate. And maybe McCain thinks that makes him look tough. It didn't. It made him look immature. His rambling on about his record, as if people needed a refresher. Yes, we know, you were a P.O.W., you've been in politics for ages, ad nauseam. So if that's the case, why did you get schooled at this debate?

And after the debate, how did McCain try to save face? By airing an ad that pointed out how many times Obama said "John is right" during the debate. Really? That's all you have? Never mind that Obama was being gracious, something McCain knows nothing about, and that after each of Obama's "John is right"s, he followed it up with what he would do better or where McCain was also wrong. If this is what McCain has to cling to, then I feel sorry for him. Or maybe conservatives making a fuss about Obama's bracelet is going to help McCain climb back out from the hole he's found himself. Too bad the fuss is all wrong.

Like his campaign, McCain is becoming a joke. He should have excelled at the debate, by all accounts, but instead, he failed. The polls show Obama even further in the lead. No matter how you look at it. Now, nothing is written in stone. Two debates still remain, and anything could happen. But this debate was on foreign policy, an issue McCain has consistently said he knows more about. Yet, Gallup shows Obama and McCain practically even as far as which candidate debate watchers have confidence in on national defense and foreign policy issues. If McCain was such an expert, shouldn't his "more confidence" number have been much higher? And with Obama's supposed lack of experience, his "less confidence" number should have been higher. The fact that these numbers are so close shows just how much McCain has slipped.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My American Prayer

Sent to me by my old friend Richie Cole (of St. Rita's Brassmen) , Dave Stewart's new music video expresses hope for the future under an Obama Presidency.

Yes we can, baby.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Suspending the campaign

Or in McCain-speak, trying to look like a shining knight on a white horse. Or possibly, trying to bulk up my poll numbers by appearing to care about the economy, even though I didn't much care for the regulation that would have prevented this from happening in the first place. Or even, I know I'm down in the polls and don't want to have my ass handed to me in the debate.

I'm shocked that the man who says he has the experience to be president can't handle dealing with fellow Congresspeople on the Wall Street bailout and doing a debate. In this age of technology, he has access to Blackberrys, laptop computers, cell phones (or his wife)! Is he unable to keep in touch with Congress while in Mississippi for a few hours? It appears so. It appears that without White Knight McCain, this bailout just isn't going to get done. But now it looks like it will get done, and what's that you say, John? You STILL aren't going to compete in the debate? Nope, St. John wants to make damn sure the bailout plan is solid, or whatever. I think this from the AP article on the bailout plan agreement says it well:

[McCain] again portrayed his announced halt to campaign events, fundraising and advertising as an example of putting the country ahead of politics. But in doing so he also hoped to get political credit for a decisive step on a national crisis as polls show him trailing Obama on the economy and slipping in the presidential race.

Putting country ahead of politics? Yeah, sure, that's what he was doing. Never mind that this statement shows just how much McCain WASN'T putting country ahead of politics. This was a stunt. A ploy. A campaign tactic. He didn't suspend his campaign -- suspending his campaign was PART of his campaigning. Otherwise, why would he have had a conversation with Sen. Barack Obama about issuing a joint statement, then appeared on television himself? McCain said later that this wasn't the time for statements, but then he went on television and uh, made a statement. No, he just wanted all the glory for himself. Wanted those voters who are responsible for his plunging poll numbers to say, "That John, what a guy!"

What a guy. He's such a guy he can't even handle doing a debate at the same time as dealing with pending legislation. Or maybe that wasn't it? Maybe this is the plan:

"McCain supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham tells CNN the McCain campaign is proposing to the Presidential Debate Commission and the Obama camp that if there's no bailout deal by Friday, the first presidential debate should take the place of the VP debate, currently scheduled for next Thursday, October 2 in St. Louis.

In this scenario, the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin would be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined, and take place in Oxford, Mississippi, currently slated to be the site of the first presidential faceoff this Friday."

Rescheduled for a date yet to be determined, huh? You know, when Gov. Sarah Palin was first introduced as McCain's running mate and people wondered how she'd do in a debate against Sen. Joe Biden, I jokingly thought, "Oh she'll pretend she's sick, or make up some other excuse why she can't do the debate." I didn't think that would seriously happen. Maybe they'll move the vice presidential debate to another date, but suddenly, there's no time. Palin will be unavailable or otherwise occupied with campaign business or the plague. After her interview with Katie Couric, that might be exactly what the McCain campaign is hoping to do.

Never mind that a bailout deal has been reached, however tenative it may be. It's solid enough that both parties are ready to present the proposal to President Bush for approval. Not good enough for McCain, though. No, the White Knight won't rest until the ink is dry, and he has something he can take credit for. Suspending his campaign to put country first! (Um, are you getting all this? Do you have my good side? Is my hair straight?)

Yes, McCain was in such a hurry to get back to Washington to get things done, he canceled an appearance on David Letterman last night.

Understandable. Oh, except he didn't quite rush off to Washington. He spoke with Katie Couric first (see above at 6:40). But he had a good reason:

"The clincher for me is the fact that McCain cancelled his Letterman appearance at the last second and instead sat down for an impromptu interview with, of all people, Katie Couric. The hope was to bump the Palin interview even on the CBS Evening News, which otherwise would have hyped and teased the Palin interview all afternoon and used it to lead the broadcast. Instead, CBS devoted most of its coverage to McCain and played segments of the Palin interview almost as an afterthought. Mission accomplished."

Sneaky, sneaky. Suspending the campaign to put country first. Sure thing, John, and I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you. Punk.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Liberal media

It's funny that I just wrote that last post, and then I saw this. I suppose only some of the media is "liberal," i.e. not interested in printing articles that shine a negative light on Sen. Barack Obama. The Wall Street Journal certainly isn't "in the tank."

UPDATE: It's also funny to watch conservatives grab onto this story like pitbulls (with or without lipstick) who haven't eaten in a week. You'd think Obama was making a deal with Osama bin Laden to commit some new terrorist act (I'm sure that story's coming soon). It's not like this story wasn't out there. It's not like Sen. Hillary Clinton didn't try to make it an issue in the primary. Too bad it's just not an issue. Try again, "liberal" media.

In the tank

I didn't come up with the phrase, but I kind of like it. I suppose this blog would be considered "in the tank." Maybe we should change the name from IN THE DARK to IN THE TANK? Just kidding. "In the tank," for those of you who haven't heard the phrase used lately, is the phrase Sen. John McCain's campaign is using to describe media organizations who are uninterested in pursuing sordid details about Sen. Barack Obama's or Sen. Joe Biden's political careers or lives. At least that's my understanding. It came after two McCain campaign aides, Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis, held a conference call to "complain about being called 'liars.'" My thought on that is, "They wouldn't call you liars if you weren't lying."

But where it gets interesting is that on that same conference call, Schmidt proceeded to try to point the media in what he thinks is the right direction -- Biden's son, Hunter's, lobbying work, Obama's alleged ties to William Ayers, and attacks made on Gov. Sarah Palin by Obama backers. When later questioned about these assertions and asked for factual backup, another McCain aide claimed Politico was "in the tank." Steve Benen from Washington Monthly put it well when he said "if you care about reality, you're necessarily biased. You are either with McCain or against him, and if you notice McCain's campaign straying from the truth, you're obviously the enemy."

If the Obama campaign was lying as often as the McCain campaign, the media would have something to report. But while the Obama campaign has been guilty of exaggerations and lies at times, it is not nearly on the same scale as McCain. Both McCain and Palin have continually repeated things they know to be untrue. Not only do they know them to be untrue, but the media has repeatedly reported them to be untrue. If the label "liar" fits, well . . . What did the McCain campaign expect? That the media would just turn and look the other way? That the unfettered access he once granted them would make them his lapdogs? I may not love the media lately, but I'm glad that the lies have at least been exposed as such. This idea of a "liberal media" is just so comical to me. As if the media has never reported a single thing about Obama's "scandals."

I ran some searches on Google News to see what articles were written (just in 2008) about certain alleged scandals during the primary and now general election relating to Obama. Let's see . . .

Rev. Jeremiah Wright: 13,000 hits
Tony Rezko: 1,750 hits
Michelle Obama is proud of her country: 1,380 hits
Michelle Obama and the "whitey" comment: 184 hits
State Sen. Alice Palmer: 71 hits
"Present" votes in Illinois state senate: 8,930 hits
Lack of experience: 637 hits
Obama and anything Muslim: 8,490 hits
Obama is a celebrity (or is pals with them): 3,750 hits
Franklin Raines: 38 hits
William Ayers: 1,150 hits
Earmarks: 1,500 hits
Obama's patriotism: 3,420 hits

These are just the "scandals" I can remember right now. Also, I started looking through some of the hits to see what media organizations these pieces were from, but it became too tedious, so I just hyperlinked to my searches for those who want to see for themselves. Admittedly, many of these hits will be for sites that are not "mainstream." And other hits will be for pieces that were written or broadcast debunking these "scandals" or that were favorable to Obama. However, I maintain that, favorable or not, all a news piece has to do is talk about Obama and such and such scandal, and the two are linked. My father still thinks Obama is a Muslim, depsite the articles saying otherwise. Why? Because he saw "Obama" and "Muslim" in the same articles too many times, and now he refuses to think otherwise. And the final point is that many of these hits are from the mainstream media, so the "liberal media" isn't ignoring Obama in favor of pointing out that McCain is a liar. It just so happens the McCain campaign has lied a lot lately and that has gotten more play. My suggestion to the McCain campaign is to stop lying.

Instead, the campaign has chosen to complain about being caught in their lies and try to direct the media to write some negative pieces about Obama. You know what that looks like? It's like my getting in trouble at work for goofing off all day, and instead of being honest and saying, "Yes, I have been goofing off all day, and I will work harder," I say, "Well, Jane Smith goofs off all day too. I see her on the Internet all day long and talking to other people when she should be working. Maybe you should reprimand Jane Smith as well." I've seen people try this defense on for size, and it usually ends up getting them fired. Or at the very least put on their employer's shit list. Looks like McCain is moving toward the shit list. Maybe the media's shit list too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

(Mangled Metaphor Alert) The Bloom Appears to be Off the Pitbull

Okay. Here we are, nearly a month beyond John McCain's unexpected (and very, very risky) annoucement of his Vice Presidential running mate, Sarah Palin.
Ms. Palin's overall favorability ratings have plummeted (not unexpected once people actually got to know who she is and how little she understands).
The Obama/Biden ticket has regained its lead in national polling (a statistically significant lead of 49%-44% in a CBS News/New York Times poll, and a statistically significant lead of 49%-45% in the latest Quinnipiac poll), and the Gallup Daily Tracking poll shows Obama/Biden leading over Palin/McCain today by 5 points, 49% to 44%. The post-GOP convention "bump" for Palin/McCain seems to have been fueled by a renewed excitement among the religious right, and not by any real excitement among Independent or undecided voters.

Meanwhile, on 270towin.com's interactive electoral map, giving John McCain all the current toss-up states, but leaving Pennsylvania out (because at this moment, it is an absolute dead heat), I have Obama/Biden over Palin/McCain 261-256. In this scenario, it all comes down to Ohio (look for GOP dirty tricks there in October or, God forbid, on election day).

But more realistically, Virginia has been trending Democratic in recent years, and trending toward Obama since January, according to Rasmussen, and Obama has a higher favorability rating than McCain in Virginia. Indiana has also been trending toward Obama (although John McCain still holds on to a 2 point lead, down from 4 points in August), and Obama has higher favorability ratings there too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Who is really elitist?

This blog is about the mass media's ignorance at times, although we talk about many other things besides. But much of the reason WE have to talk about other things besides is because the MSM does a poor job of it on its own. So when I came across this story on another blog and looked into it myself, I was again shocked by what the MSM considers "newsworthy."

The story was about Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a former supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has now decided that Sen. John McCain is more her style. The reason? She thinks Sen. Barack Obama is "elitist." I hear you laughing. Yes, a woman who goes by LADY thinks Obama is elitist. A woman who is a billionaire married to a billionaire, and who splits her time between New York and London, thinks Obama is elitist. That's rich, no pun intended.

One might argue that she'd know elitist being so elite herself. But when you compare McCain and Obama, it's clear who falls into the "elite" category. According to Opensecrets.org, McCain's net worth in 2006 was between $27 million and $45 million. Obama's? $456,000 to $1 million. Elite indeed! And much has already been made about McCain's many houses (from four to seven, depending on whom you talk to).

But it's not just that Obama is elitist. Read the Lady's remarks from her interview with Campbell Brown on CNN:

"So, please, you know, the class war that Barack Obama would like to declare in this country to divide people is so wrong."

The class war Obama is declaring? Where? Because he wants to tax those who make over $250,000? I don't see that as a class war. I see that as fairness to the American people. Why should I get taxed more or equally to someone who makes 10 times what I do a year? Because let's face it, what problems would it really cause someone in that income bracket? That he might have to sell one of his five cars? That he might have to move into a $1 million house instead of a $5 million one, or sell one of his 10 houses? Frankly, I wouldn't shed a tear. I'm sorry the Lady doesn't want to be taxed more, but something tells me she won't be living in a cardboard box in an alley anytime soon. And this class war she's talking about is in her head. If anything, Obama has brought people together. I see it on the streets, where people of all races and ages are wearing Obama shirts or buttons, putting up Obama signs on their lawns or Obama bumper stickers on their cars. I see it in my cousin in Colorado who wasn't really interested in politics until this year, because Obama inspired her, and others in her immediate family. I see it in people in my family who have not always held black people in high regard (much to my dismay), who now want to know more about Obama.

And let's not forget to mention that during that same CNN interview, the Lady referred to those people in Pennsylvania who Obama allegedly called "bitter" as "rednecks." Oh yes, the woman who thinks Obama is elitist and ready to start a class war thinks working class Pennsylvanians are rednecks. You know what, McCain? You can have her.

What I find hard to understand is why the Lady was on CNN, or why when I run a search on Google, I come up with 365 articles about her switch? Why is this news? Sure, she was a big supporter of Clinton and was on the Democratic National Committee's Platform Committee (a membership she's now resigned). But she's not, oh I don't know, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Maybe it was because the Lady is a woman and a former Clinton supporter, and this somehow was supposed to show how vulnerable Obama is with women who once supported Clinton. Still, that's very far-fetched. The Lady is certainly not the typical female Clinton supporter. And a new poll shows that Obama is leading McCain with women. I'm not big on polls because I think they are unreliable at times, but that's all I have to look to at this point, since the MSM only talks to the likes of the Lady.

Now on the flip side of this, Rep. Wayne Gilchrist, a Republican, endorsed Obama yesterday, and much less was made of that announcement. I think a Republican with a current seat in Congress endorsing the Democratic candidate for president is much more significant than the Lady's thinking Obama is too elitist for her liking. I looked on CNN.com for any articles or videos about the Gilchrist/Obama story and received a "No Results" for my trouble. Interesting. The Lady gets an interview with Campbell Brown, and Gilchrist gets squat. I guess the fact that he lost the primary and is retiring makes him a nobody. Certainly not as important as a director at Estee Lauder. And what about these people?

This just reinforces my thinking that people can't just watch television or read newspapers and think they are getting the "important" news, or even getting the whole story. I know for most people, this is all they do. They watch their local late night news and read their local newspaper and think they have what they need to make an informed decision. But nowadays, making an informed decision means doing a lot more than listening to the MSM. I won't lie. I like watching CNN and MSNBC, or reading some of the newspapers online, but I also consult other sources. And I don't mean just blogs. If I hear or read something I want more information on, I research it. I know a lot of people don't have that kind of time, though, and that is why my disappointment in the MSM is so great. We either get only one side of things, or we get news like the Lady's defection to the McCain campaign as if it means something.

I went to school to study journalism because I wanted to be a reporter who informed people about the things that were important in the world. Now, I'm not sure that is the role of a reporter anymore.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Charlie, you're just wrong

I am not a fan of Charles Krauthammer's columns. I'll be honest about that. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that his views are far afield of mine. His latest column is no different. And by no different, I mean not only no different from most of his columns cheerleading the right, but no different from much of what I've heard from the right in defense of Gov. Sarah Palin after her interview with Charlie Gibson. What is sad is that I thought Krauthammer could come up with a more compelling argument. Yet, his column falls flat. Much has been made of the whole Bush Doctrine gaffe, and whose gaffe it really was. Did Palin really not know what it was, or are there just too many versions out there? Did Gibson even articulate the correct version?

Krauthammer seems to take much glee in pointing out how he was the first one to use the term Bush Doctrine, back in June 2001. Well, well, pat on the back for you, Charlie. I see he's upset because no one bothered to check Wikipedia before the Palin interview so Gibson could give credit where credit is due. But once Krauthammer gets the back-patting out of the way, the rest of his column is a waste of space. Because he's wrong.

I can't take credit for this discovery because I stumbled on it while searching for information about the Bush Doctrine and Krauthammer. Another blogger -- Robot Pirate Ninja -- pointed out a portion of the interview that Krauthammer saw fit to just leave out of his column. One that, had it been articulated, would have made his whole column a bunch of nonsense. The portion of the interview Krauthammer omitted was this:

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?
PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?
GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be?
PALIN: His world view.
GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

I don't care if there are 50 versions of the Bush Doctrine. I don't care if Krauthammer was the first person to use the phrase, or the tenth. The bottom line is that Gibson pointed out exactly which version of the Bush Doctrine he was referring to, and Palin still had no idea. From Krauthammer's column: "A year later, when the Iraq war was looming, Bush offered his major justification by enunciating a doctrine of preemptive war. This is the one Charlie Gibson thinks is the Bush doctrine." Wrong. This is the Bush Doctrine that Gibson was referring to in the question. The one he clearly described by saying "enunciated September 2002." I would have bought this whole defense of Palin if she had said, "Well, Charlie, which version are you referring to?" or "Charlie, you know there is a more current version, let's talk about that." No, instead she gave a wrong answer, and then looked like a kid who just got caught cheating on a test.

What is more disappointing in all this is that people like Krauthammer keep trying to defend Palin. Oh, Gibson was condescending. He was mean. He looked down his nose at her. Never mind that the McCain campaign hand-picked Gibson to do Palin's first interview. Why should anyone treat Palin with kid gloves? Because she's a woman? Because she's a Republican? You know, if Palin can't handle Charlie Gibson's questions and demeanor, how can she handle the difficulties of being vice president (and possibly president)? And let's not forget that it wasn't just her answer to Bush Doctrine question that made people shake their heads.

I have said in a previous post, and I stick by it, that Palin is not the top of the ticket so we shouldn't be spending so much time talking about her gaffes, lies and scandals. But I think it is important to note that THIS is the person Sen. John McCain thought would be a good vice president for the country. This is how McCain puts country first. Out of all the other women (or men) McCain could have picked, he picked her. And in that respect, her gaffes, lies and scandals are important. If Americans can't even trust McCain to make a sound first decision in his campaign for the presidency, how can we trust him to make other more important decisions? Who would he chose as his Treasury secretary -- Sen. Phil Gramm?

At least Krauthammer and I agree on one thing: "Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what [the Bush Doctrine] is." All that huffing and puffing about versions of the Bush Doctrine and how Gibson was wrong, just to come to the conclusion that yes, Palin didn't know what the Bush Doctrine is. Like I said, waste of space.

Maybe in Krauthammer's next column, he'll defend Douglas Holtz-Eakin's statement that McCain invented the Blackberry.

McCain: "I Would Rather Win an Election Than Keep My Soul..."

Andrew Postman, son of the late media scolar and educationist Neil Postman, wrote the following in an e-mail to the Media Ecology listserve:

While I honestly respect opinions on both sides of the political divide, certain behavior in the last couple of weeks finally moved me to action. Over the weekend, I taught myself iMovie and made this movie, which is now on YouTube. It will take under four minutes to watch. If you think the video is of use to pass along to others or post somewhere, please do. If not, not. I realize there are people out there who will disagree with my conclusion. I respect that.
I am more than happy to accomodate Andrew's request.

It is a good first-time video and shows the power of this new converged technology. Anyone -- even a "grown-up" educated in the tradition of literacy -- with a computer can find both a public voice and a public forum for his/her ideas and views.

While the mainstream mass media keep America IN THE DARK, the internet, blogs, vlogs, YouTube and other new media might just be the thing to keep some semblance of democracy alive. To be sure, as Neil Postman has pointed out, it is not going to be democracy as we have previously understood it, and we should not take that fact lightly or face it without some degree of trepidation.

But the alternative is to give in to just the kind of forces that Andrew Postman points to in his debut video.

I hope we see more from him.

Monday, September 15, 2008

An E-Mail Exchange With Howie, My (Far) Right-Wing Friend in NY: Is There, or Is There Not, a "Bush Doctrine?"

Howie: Basically, the term "Bush Doctrine" was coined by Charles Krauthammer, and I sent you his article that "suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush doctrine."

Me: Howie, you're killing me with this. There are so many more important things I ought to be doing with my time than trying to persuade you that a pit-bull is not a pig and that a horse is not a house and that fantasy is not reality. It is, I believe, a powerful testimony of my unfailing love for you that I go to all this trouble. I only wish you had any respect for me -- and for yourself -- and took the world more seriously.

I did a Lexis-Nexis search (it is a subscription database of, among other things, US and world newspapers, newsmagazines, and radio and television news transcripts which I have access to through Roosevelt's library) of the phrase "Bush Doctrine" for all the time between June 2002 and August 15, 2008. In other words, it does NOT search anything AFTER the Palin interview. I got over 1000 results. Please read them carefully. Here's my disclaimer, though: I'm only copying the essential parts of each story, where the term "Bush Doctrine" is used specifically. And, since this is a subscription service, I can't give you any hyperlinks. I urge you to go to a library and get a copy of each if you want to read the whole article.

Here's the very first one, from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald:

  • Kill first, ask questions later

BYLINE: Robert Manne. Robert Manne is associate professor of politics at La Trobe University.
SECTION: NEWS AND FEATURES; Opinion; Pg. 13 LENGTH: 966 words
September 30, 2002
Monday Late Edition

The black holes in Bush's logic might suck us all in.TEN days ago,
George Bush handed to the Congress a document of fundamental importance, outlining a new military doctrine for the United States.

The new doctrine argues that in the 10 years following the Soviet collapse, the US failed to grasp the nature of the threats posed by the post-Cold War world. With the terrible events of September 11, America awoke.

At first, the US characterised the new enemy it faced as "terrorism". Later, it refined the idea of the new enemy to "terrorism with a global range", a euphemism for the
kind of terrorism with the capacity to inflict harm on the civilian populations in America or the West.

Since the shock of September 11, the new enemy has expanded to include what have been called "rogue states". In the
Bush doctrine, a rogue state is a regime which brutalises its own people, seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction and expresses hatred for the US...We arrive here at the heart of the new Bush military doctrine. The US, it is claimed, presently faces the prospect of
attack either from one of the rogue states or from a terrorist group supplied by
them with weapons of mass destruction. Before this kind of threat, Cold War
ideas about deterrence and containment are obsolete. The only rational military strategy is the "pre-emptive strike".

Here's one from the Straits Times (Singapore) from October of 2002 (first two paragraphs):

  • Dubya's dangerous and divisive doctrine

October 16, 2002 Wednesday

THE new American strategic doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, enunciated a year after Sept 11, provokes more discord internationally than it catalyses accord domestically.

Past presidential doctrines helped American leaders mobilise domestic support and organise international coalitions. The Bush Doctrine is the most divisive post-war pronouncement.

From the Washington Post, October 2003 (I'm copying the entire article, as it directly references the Bush Doctrine several times, and even quotes Richard Perle -- one of the neo-cons who created it through his work at PNAC -- directly referring to the Bush Doctrine as preemptive first strike):

  • The 'Bush Doctrine' Experiences Shining Moments

December 21, 2003 Sunday Final Edition

BYLINE: Dana Milbank, Washington Post Staff Writer

SECTION: A Section; A26LENGTH: 1041 words

It has been a week of sweet vindication for those who promulgated what they call the Bush Doctrine.

Beginning with the capture of Saddam Hussein a week ago and ending Friday with an agreement by Libya's Moammar Gaddafi to surrender his unconventional weapons, one after another international problem has eased.

On Tuesday, the leaders of France and Germany set aside their long-standing opposition to the war in Iraq and agreed to forgive an unspecified amount of that country's debt. On Thursday, Iran signed an agreement allowing surprise inspections of its nuclear facilities after European governments applied intense pressure on the U.S. foe. On Friday, Libya agreed to disarm under the watch of international inspectors, just as administration officials were learning that Syria had seized $23.5
million believed to be for al Qaeda.

To foreign policy hard-liners inside and outside the administration, the gestures by Libya, Iran and Syria, and the softening by France and Germany, all have the same cause: a show of American might.

Those who developed the Bush Doctrine -- a policy of taking preemptive, unprovoked action against emerging threats -- predicted that an impressive U.S. victory in Iraq would intimidate allies and foes alike, making them yield to U.S. interests in other areas.

Though that notion floundered with the occupation in Iraq, the capture of Hussein may have served as the decisive blow needed to make others respect U.S. wishes, they say. "It's always been at the heart of the Bush Doctrine that a more robust policy would permit us to elicit greater cooperation from adversaries than we'd had in the past when we acquiesced," said Richard Perle, an influential adviser to the
administration. "With the capture of Saddam, the sense that momentum may be with us is very important."

Perle had provoked much criticism for saying a successful U.S. invasion of Iraq would signal to other foes that "you're next." But he said the actions by Libya and Iran prove that the threat alone was sufficient to produce action. "Gaddafi surely had to take more seriously that we would not allow him to get away with the programs he was embarked," he said.

Perle and the other "neo-conservative" hawks whose views dominate the Bush administration know better than to claim victory. Gaddafi or the Iranians may still cheat despite admitting inspectors. And other potential foes, notably North Korea and China, have shown little susceptibility to the threat implicit in the Bush Doctrine.

Still, Perle allowed, "it's nice to have a good week every once in a while."

Bush's domestic adversaries have had some trouble responding to the administration's diplomatic successes. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a presidential aspirant, portrayed the success with Libya as an exception to the Bush Doctrine. "Ironically, this significant advance represents a complete U-turn in the Bush administration's overall foreign policy," he said in a statement Saturday. "An administration that scorns multilateralism and boasts about a rigid doctrine of military preemption has almost in spite of itself demonstrated the enormous potential for improving our national security through diplomacy."

But Bush's supporters say it is precisely his willingness to go it alone and take preemptive action that has encouraged other countries to seek diplomatic solutions before the United States launches a military attack. The Libya and Iran concessions "show the peripheral benefit of preemption," said Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration arms control official who now serves on a Pentagon advisory panel. "Most of all it scares the bejesus out of rogue dictators." As for stubborn allies such as Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, "they pay more attention when there's a forceful U.S. policy," Adelman said.

It is unlikely, of course, that France or Germany would acknowledge that they are reacting to U.S. strength. Yet it is noteworthy that they were conciliatory on the issue of Iraqi debt forgiveness after Hussein was captured -- even though they were complaining bitterly just a week before about a Bush plan to exclude them from U.S.-funded Iraq reconstruction projects.

And it is inarguable that Germany and France have taken a more active role in winning Iranian compliance with weapons inspections since the United States invaded Iraq. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain visited Iran in
October, overcoming Iran's longtime resistance to signing a monitoring agreement.
"The Europeans never would have taken these steps [in Iran] without Bush taking the steps he took in Iraq," said Gary Schmitt, who directs the hard-line Project for the New American Century. "The Europeans don't want us to do another Iraq there, so they're rushing in to get a deal. Bush gets an immense amount of credit for laying out what the agenda is and making others step up to the plate."

Bush still has some inconsistencies to work out with his doctrine. Earlier this month, he drew rebukes from conservatives for undermining democratic Taiwan to win favor with totalitarian China. And, as Bush's domestic opponents point out, he has been contradictory in his views of international organizations. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said the administration's support for International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Libya and Iran "is difficult to reconcile with the administration's previous ridicule of IAEA inspectors in Iraq."

But such complaints, at least for now, have been overshadowed by the results achieved with Iran and Libya. That was the clear message Bush delivered in his unusual appearance late Friday in the White House briefing room. Mentioning the fate of Hussein, Bush said, "These actions by the United States and our allies have sent an unmistakable message to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction."

If Bush was oblique, a senior aide who briefed reporters after the president's statement, was quicker to take credit. "The outcome today is a response [to] the policies that we have pursued," he said. The official said the secret discussions with Libya began in March -- when the invasion of Iraq started. "I can't imagine that Iraq went unnoticed by the Libyan leadership," the aide said.

And -- WOW!!! -- I actually found a reference to the phrase "Bush Doctrine" that links it directly to the White House and the Bush administration, and dates it as far back as October 2001.

  • 'Bush Doctrine' sets up rules of engagement

October 9, 2001, Tuesday, FIRST EDITION

WASHINGTON -- White House officials gave a name Monday to the rules of engagement driving the U.S. war on terrorism -- the "Bush Doctrine." The policy makes any nation or group that tolerates terrorists a potential target.

From the Toronto (Canada) Globe and Mail:

  • Monroe, Truman and Bush?; U.S. leader aims to become only the third; chief to lay a foreign-policy cornerstone

The Globe and Mail (Canada)
October 20, 2001 Saturday


There was the Monroe Doctrine. There was the Truman Doctrine. Now, there is the Bush Doctrine.

In his Sept. 20 speech to Congress, U.S. President George W. Bush declared that all nations must either join the United States in combatting terrorism, or be its enemy. He said the government would act against any individual, organization or state "of global reach" that supports terrorism.

In the weeks since, Mr. Bush has referred to "the doctrine I spelled out to the American people." Vice-President Dick Cheney invoked "the Bush Doctrine" in a rousing call to arms Thursday evening.

Coalition forces are attacking Afghanistan in the air and now on the ground in the name of the Bush Doctrine. A growing chorus of politicians demands that the United States attack Iraq in the name of the Bush Doctrine.

From the Boston Globe and the Australian Financial Review on the global political implications of the Bush Doctrine, from October and December of 2001, respectively:


The Boston Globe
October 24, 2001, Wednesday ,THIRD EDITION
BYLINE: By Scot Lehigh, Globe Staff SECTION: OP-ED; Pg. D7 LENGTH: 699 words

IF YOU WISH to converse with me, Voltaire said, define your terms.

In speaking to the world, President Bush needs to do just that, for his zero-tolerance antiterrorism doctrine is one that both friends and rivals clearly hope to appropriate for their own purposes.

Consider our newfound comrade Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Noting that the Kremlin considers the Chechen separatists to be terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden, he has declared that the United States and Russia share a common foe.

Or Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, who called Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat Israel's Osama bin Laden. Why, with America drawing a line in the sand against terrorism, should Israel be pressured to negotiate with a man who has sponsored and encouraged terrorists, he asked?

A bit less vocal was India, which faces attacks by Islamic militants hoping to pry all of disputed Kashmir away. "If the US can strike Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks ... why can't we take similar action against terrorists harbored by Pakistan?" wondered Farooq Abdullah, Kashmir's chief minister. Orwellian China would just as clearly like the world to view Tibet through the lens of the Bush doctrine, while Malaysia has used it to justify a suppression of peaceful dissent. And that's just for starters.

  • Bush Doctrine suddenly crystallises

The Australian Financial Review
December 10, 2001 Monday
BYLINE: Peter Hartcher SECTION: Pg. 1/11. LENGTH: 99 words

The US President, George W Bush, has won huge support for his stand against terrorism. Bush has established a doctrine that holds all countries that harbourterrorists as being accountable to the US. Bush has declared that for every country that support terrorists there will be a "day of reckoning". Governments around the world have received a warning from what has happened in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan having almost reached a conclusion, the US Government must decide in which country its forces will seek terrorists next. An attack on Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq appears imminent.

Howie (and all my other right wing friends out there), I know you. I don't expect any of this to change your (for lack of a better word) "mind." But you are wrong about this, you are being deceived by post-game spin, and nothing you say or do or believe can EVER change history. There is a Bush Doctrine, it was promulgated by the White House, it has been debated and discussed in terms of its implications for foreign policy and for global politics, and neither Sarah Palin nor you seems ever to have heard of it.

The GOP and right-wing spinmeisters might indeed be successful persuading those American people who choose ignorance over information, and who choose to be led around on a leash by the right-wing media that there are "several Bush Doctrines," but history has already recognized one.

And that's really all there is to it. A century from now people will be studying the Bush Doctrine, and what they'll be studying is this dangerous principle of the preemptive first strike.

There's nothing you can do to change that.

Be frightened Part 2

This is the Palin/Clinton skit from Saturday Night Live. I posted it because I thought it's pretty damn funny, but also because Tina Fey's impression of Gov. Sarah Palin is scarily accurate. Yes, there were some silly moments, but much of what was said is not far from what we've heard Palin say in some way, shape or form. In response to Amy Poehler's (who was playing Sen. Hillary Clinton) statement about diplomacy being a cornerstone of foreign policy, Fey said, "I can see Russia from my house." Palin told Charlie Gibson that "[Russia is] our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." Poehler said she's opposed to the Bush Doctrine, and Fey said "I don't know what that is." It was clear in watching the Gibson interview that Palin didn't know what the Bush Doctrine is.

What scares me is that Palin, a candidate for vice president of the United States, can be parodied, and yet the parody is quite close to the truth. Do the American people really want a joke for a vice president?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Be Frightened....Be VERY, VERY Frightened...

Ay, ay , ay, ay, ay....Well, at least she knows which President the "Bush Doctrine" refers to...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008: Why Do They STILL Hate Us?

There’s a lot of retrospective soul-searching going on today. This is understandable. Much of it, however, will avoid the painful realities of the last seven years – that we have neither brought those responsible for 9/11 to justice, nor have we done anything to change the conditions which create terrorism. We have, I think, made things far worse for ourselves than they were on September 10, 2001.

Instead, we have squandered a precious opportunity to be an agent of just change in the world, and have fallen into a defensive position like some small, frightened animal.

We’ve let Osama bin Laden and the terrorists go free. Poor planning at Tora Bora let him go once, and subsequent lack of will and preoccupation with Iraq has allowed him to remain on the loose ever since. I don’t understand that, and it bothers me – a lot. The Bush administration created a case for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein, and the entire case was made of hot air. Not a shred of truth to it. The result of this is that we are actually in more danger from terrorists than we were in 2002.

Between 90,000 and 600,000 innocent civilians have died needlessly in Iraq since our invasion. More Americans have died in Iraq – again, needlessly – than died on September 11, 2001.

We’ve antagonized the world – both our enemies and our allies – with belligerent rhetoric and actions. We’ve castigated traditional allies like Germany and France for failing to support a stupid, costly, and immoral invasion. We have marginalized moderate, progressive governments in Latin America for socially responsible economic policies.

We’ve empowered fundamentalists in our own country, elevating one particular extremist to the the position of nominee for Vice President of the United States.We have, for the first time in American history, countenanced torture, and one of our candidates for President, Republican John McCain, supports the use of torture by the intelligence community.

Civil rights have taken a hit in the United States. Religious groups espousing pacifism have been the targets of government surveillance.

We have ignored all of the following, and much, much more:

  • The Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden reports that on average 9 minor armed conflicts (where the number of deaths does not exceed 1000 during the course of the conflict), 12 intermediate armed conflicts (where the number of deaths exceeds 1000, but is fewer than 1000 in any given year), and 13 wars (with more than 1000 deaths a year) go on at all times somewhere in the world.

  • In the year 2000, war took the lives of 168,000 Africans, 65,000 Asians, 39,000 "middle-easterners," 37,000 Europeans, and 2,000 Central and South Americans.

  • At the same time, American arms manufacturers profit from this death and destruction. Forty of the top one hundred arms-producing companies in the world are American companies with profits totaling $664 billion dollars in 1999. Over $93 billion of that profit comes from the manufacture and sale of weapons, more than the profit of the other 60 companies combined (US$64 billion).

  • Meanwhile, those in the less technologically developed world who are not dying in warfare are likely to be dying of disease or starvation. While the life expectancy of the average American was about 75 years in 2001, it was 65 for the Indonesian, 64 for the Russian, 45 for the Afghan, 39 for the Zambian, and 38 for the Rwandan and the Mozambiquan. While an American baby has 99.4% of survival after birth, the infant mortality rate is 2% for the Russian, 10% for the Ethiopian, almost 15% for the Afghan, and nearly 20% for the Angolan.

  • And while much of the "third world" believes that we care little for their welfare, many more question our motivations even less kindly. They believe we are more interested in exploiting their natural resources for our benefit, and exploiting them for their cheap labor.

  • Among the violations of the fair labor conventions of the International Labor Organization between 1996 and 2000, were many committed on behalf of American companies. Some examples:

  • Factories in the Northern Mariana Islands (a US Commonwealth) that produce clothing for Abercrombie & Fitch, Cutter & Buck, Donna Karan, The GAP, J. Crew, Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren Polo, Target, Dress Barn, and Tommy Hilfiger demand contracts of their workers which: waive basic human rights including the right to join a union; demand 12-hour workdays seven days-a-week; subject workers to "lockdowns" in the factory;

  • Factories in China producing clothing and shoes for Adidas, Disney, Fila, Nike, Ralph Lauren, and Reebok employ forced labor in prison camps; demand of their employees 12-16 hour workdays, seven days-a-week; employ child labor; demand forced overtime; and Chinese workers for Nestle have been subjected to electric shock to maintain productivity.

  • Factories in Indonesia manufacturing clothing and shoes for Adidas, the GAP, and Nike subject workers to forced overtime at a poverty wage.

  • Factories in El Salvador producing clothing and shoes for Adidas, Ann Taylor, the GAP, Liz Claiborne and Nike pay their female employees about US$30/week for a 60-80 hour week; subject their female workers to forced pregnancy tests; fire their female workers if they become pregnant; and force some employees to work overtime without pay, up to 11 hours a day.

  • Factories in Haiti producing clothing and toys for the Walt Disney Company pay their workers an average of US$2.40 per day, and charge them for transportation ($.66/day), breakfast (cornmeal and fruit juice--$.53/day), and lunch (rice and beans--$.66/day).

  • Factories in Russia producing clothing for the GAP pay their employees US$.11/hour.

If terrorism is evil-and it is-this is terror's recruiting station.

I will pray today for the United States of America.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So does lipstick look good on a pig?

Well, ask Sen. John McCain . . .

And Keith Olbermann had a few more examples on his show tonight . . .

Need more proof this whole thing is just another tactic by the McCain campaign to shift focus from the issues . . .

That's right. Gov. Mike Huckabee is cutting Obama some slack and doesn't think Obama was referring to Gov. Sarah Palin.

Even Bill O'Reilly said it was unfair to suggest that Obama was talking about Palin with his "lipstick on a pig" comment.

So what does lipstick on a pig really mean? Looks like McCain needs an example . . .

Shazaam . . .

Seriously, did the McCain campaign buy the rights to the cliche "lipstick on a pig" just like they supposedly bought the rights to Heart's Barracuda? Is no one allowed to use that cliche from here on out because it is now considered an insult to Palin? You know, McCain's campaign tactics are starting to look a lot like lipstick on a pig.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Not enough money to pay the speechwriters?

Since the conventions wrapped up, I've been watching a lot more of the 24-hour news stations. Keith Olbermann played a portion of Gov. Sarah Palin's speech from Pennsylvania on his show tonight.

I've seen portions of her speeches played quite often lately -- earlier this week, it was a speech in Colorado Springs. But what has struck me as funny is, it's the SAME SPEECH as the one she gave at the convention. Did Sen. John McCain not pay his speechwriters? Or do they not have time to write new material for Palin? I don't get it. Why would you continue to give the same speech over and over, complete with all the lies that the media has already exposed several times over since Palin's speech at the convention? And not just the lies, but the same hokey insults, such as how Obama lavishes praise on working people when they are listening and talks about them behind their backs. It's like a bad comedic sketch, where you know you've heard the comedian's jokes a thousand times over and they just aren't funny anymore. You almost feel sorry for her -- talking about the chef she fired (the chef was reassigned to another job); the jet she sold on eBay for a profit (she didn't sell it on eBay and certainly not for a profit); the "thanks, but no thanks" line with respect to the Bridge to Nowhere (she was for it before she was against it); and how she's against earmarks (she hired lobbyists to get $27 million in earmarks for the town of Wasilla). It's one thing to give the same tired speech over and over, but to repeat the same lies and exaggerations everyone knows to be such? That's just craziness.

So I started to wonder why she'd do such a thing? It almost makes the McCain campaign seem amateurish. Yet, people are eating this up. Oh, Palin is injecting life into the campaign. She's just what the campaign needed. Blah de blah blah. But I think I figured out the secret. See, Palin is out there giving this lame speech again and again, and the rest of us are talking about it. Republicans, Democrats, the mailman in your town -- they are all talking about her. And what aren't they talking about? The issues. Where does McCain stand on the issues? Oh sure, we hear it brought up from time to time, but most of the news programs I've been watching and blogs I've been reading are Palin this, Palin that. McCain could probably take a dump on the sidewalk in some town, and the news that day would be, "Did you hear that Palin fired her gardener for planting petunias instead of tulips?" I remember right after Palin's speech, some political analyst said that the worst thing Obama's campaign could do was make this election about Palin. This Associated Press article states that anonymous Democratic strategists said something similar lately:

"Two Democratic strategists, speaking on condition of anonymity, complained that Obama should assign his own running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, the task of countering Palin, rather than do it himself."

So true. Palin is the vice presidential pick, and while vice presidents do count in the sense that they are a "heartbeat away from the presidency" (I hate that phrase by the way, used WAY too much lately), they are not the top of the ticket. It's Obama and McCain. The more Obama, or anyone else on the left, focuses on Palin, the more this election becomes about her and takes the focus away from the person it should be on -- McCain. Palin is obviously a liar and thinks much of herself. She must if she thinks she can perpetuate this myth about herself as the Alaskan maverick. Let her lies speak for themselves, now that they have been shown as such, and deal with her when she lies and exaggerates about Obama's stance on issues or his record as a politician. Maybe conservatives think she's hilarious, with her sad insults about Obama's days as a community organizer, but all she does is make herself look like the elitist. It's clear who is the insecure one. I'd like to see Palin fade into the background where she belongs. Do we hear about Sen. Joe Biden every day? No. Do we hear the McCain campaign attacking Biden more frequently than they attack Obama? No. Let's shift the focus back to Obama v. McCain for a few days, huh? Please. I can't take hearing Palin's voice on the news anymore. And if I hear the joke about the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull one more time, I'm going to hurl. This is the United States presidential election, not Last Comic Standing, Sarah.

New GOP Presidential Campaign Logo Unveiled

After all, she's the one with all the experience, right?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Breaking News: Sarah Palin is a Woman! Gasp!

Since Sen. John McCain chose Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, people have wondered why. What reason could McCain have to chose a veritable unknown (outside of Alaska) for the vice presidency? I must admit that when I saw the news, my reaction was, “Who?” In fact, I’m still asking that. Sure, she made a rousing speech in front of the Republican cheerleaders, but some things she said about herself were false or exaggerated. But let's put that aside for now, because the factual inaccuracies in her speech are beyond the scope of this post.

So, what was McCain’s reason? Well, she’s female, don’t you know? McCain hopes to win the support of more female voters by choosing Palin, specifically Sen. Hillary Clinton’s supporters who were disappointed when she wasn’t chosen as their party’s presidential nominee (or vice presidential nominee, for that matter). I don’t believe that was McCain’s only reason for choosing Palin, but the only person who truly knows is Karl Rove, and he’s not telling.

Yet, I thought to myself, “No self-respecting Democratic woman would fall for that trick!” The only thing Palin shares with female Democrats are the same lady parts. And just because Palin is a “Vagina-American” (see below at about 3:15) doesn’t mean all Vagina-Americans will automatically vote for her.

Those Resmuglicans are smoking something! That was until my conversation with my mother tonight. It went a little something like this:

Me: “So, did you watch McCain’s speech last night?"
Mom: “No, haven’t watched either of the conventions?”
Me: “So, who are you voting for? If you vote for McCain, I’m disowning you.”
Mom (chuckling): “I’m not sure yet.”
Me (astounded): “Are you kidding me? How can you not be sure?”
Mom: “Well, Obama didn’t pick Hillary for vice president. I’m still mad about that.”
Me: “So you’re seriously considering voting for McCain because he picked a woman for VP?”
Mom: “Yes.”
Me: (Faints.)

I didn’t really faint, but I was speechless. For about ten seconds. Before I then gave my mom a 10-minute speech about why Palin is not a woman who is for women. My mother is not an idiot. She reads the newspapers every day and listens to talk radio. She may not be well-versed in politics, but she is not clueless either. So to hear her say this made me wonder, how many other women are having the same thoughts? I’ve read that this was the McCain strategy -- try to win over Democratic women voters who were upset that Clinton lost to Sen. Barack Obama. I just never thought it would work, especially when I read letters sent in to newspapers by women who say, “It is a mistake to believe that the supporters of Hillary Clinton will rally around Sarah Palin.”

But here is my mom saying she doesn’t know who she is going to vote for, and one of the reasons she’s unsure is because McCain picked a women as his running mate. So, for those women out there who, like my mom, are on the fence, let me tell you what I told her.

Palin may be a woman, but many of the things she stands for do not help women. Palin is fiercely pro-life, stating that even in the event her own daughter were raped and became pregnant as a result, she would not want her to have an abortion. That’s right, ladies. If you or any women in your family were sexually assaulted and became pregnant, Sarah Palin wants you to carry your baby to term, because if the actual attack weren’t bad enough, you can be reminded of it again and again for 9 months. I’m not going to argue the merits of her position on abortion, because I’ve learned that it’s futile to do so. Those people who believe life begins at conception cannot be told otherwise, but I’ll just parrot what Sen. Joe Biden said today on Meet The Press: “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.” Well said, Senator. It is inappropriate to impose your judgment on the rest of society unless you are ready, willing and able to accept responsibility for the judgment you impose. So, I would ask those Republicans, like Palin, who are pro-life, when a woman gives birth to a baby conceived after a sexual assault, are you going to be ready to adopt him or her, or does your concern for child welfare end the minute after you convince a pregnant woman to keep her baby?

Palin also opposes sexual education and supports abstinence-only programs. We have already seen how well that worked in her own family. How well can that work for other children in the United States? When your sons and daughters reach an age when they are facing sexual pressures at school and among their friends, is it good enough to tell them, “Stay a virgin until you’re married” and expect them to listen? A 2006 study by the Guttmacher Institute stated that 46 percent of 15-19 year olds in the United States have had sex at least once. The study also stated that a “sexually active teen who does not use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.” It is more important to make sure that teens receive sexual education in school, so they are more prepared to deal with sexual pressures, to know that using contraception is important, not only to prevent pregnancy but also sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence-only programs don’t work as intended. A 2004 publication by Advocates for Youth, which studied abstinence-only programs in 11 states, showed that these programs had “few short-term benefits and no lasting, positive impact.” In addition, the publication stated that “[abstinence-only programs] show some negative impacts on youth's willingness to use contraception, including condoms, to prevent negative sexual health outcomes related to sexual intercourse.” And who ends up on the losing end of a teen pregnancy in most cases? The female. A woman can’t run away from a pregnancy. She either has to make the decision to have an abortion, have the baby and raise him or her or put the baby up for adoption.

And finally, Palin is the vice presidential candidate for a man who doesn’t support equal pay for equal work with regard to women. That was evident when McCain voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in Congress. Good thing he showed up long enough to manage that. According to McCain, women can secure equal pay for equal work very easily:

“They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else. And it’s hard for them to leave their families when they don’t have somebody to take care of them.”

Palin’s position on equal pay for equal work is unknown at this time, as is so much else about her. But according to MSNBC.com, a Palin spokeswoman said that Palin “actually opposes the trial lawyers’ effort to overturn the longstanding statute of limitations in America’s courts.” I’m not sure if that spokeswoman didn’t drink her morning coffee or she’s just not good at her job, but Palin might want to have a powwow with her, because opposing the trial lawyers’ effort to overturn the longstanding statute actually means that she stands in line with McCain. As MSNBC.com stated, “if we're reading this statement correctly, this means that Palin backed the Supreme Court's 5-4 majority decision that invalidated Lily Ledbetter's equal-pay lawsuit.”

Now, I’ve just listed three issues on which I believe Palin stands on the opposite side of women, but these are three important issues. Women, especially Democratic women voters, need to be mindful of these issues when making their decision to vote for a candidate who stands up for them (Obama) or one whose idea of championing women’s rights is to pick a female as his vice presidential candidate as a way to win votes (McCain). I’ll leave you with these words from Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention:

“Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines. I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women’s rights at home and around the world . . . to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.”

Mom, I hope you're listening.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Republican National Convention, Night Four

Update #1, 8:10 pm (CDT): Lindsay Graham is a creepy, lying twit. More to follow.
Update #2, 7:00 am (CDT) 9/5/08:

I am profoundly ambivalent about this post, and this is one of the reasons why I waited until this morning to sit down and write. I needed to let last night's speech roll around in my head and try to figure out what, exactly, it meant to me. I don't think the Republicans sitting in the convention hall in St. Paul had this reaction; indeed, that is one of the defining differences between Democrats and Rpublicans.

There is this kind of knee-jerk, "America first," my-country-right-or-wrong thing that many Americans have grown up calling "patriotism" that isn't necessarily patriotism at all. The Republican Party is filled with people these days who have exactly this definition of patriotism. But that's not necessarily what patriotism actually is. In fact, the type of love-it-or-leave-it, USA!USA!USA!-chanting patriotism that we've experienced since the Reagan years is what is ultimately behind the crippling partisanism we're suffering through right now. Country, rather than principle, can become an ideology, and when that happens, bad things usually follow. As David Hume said, "The heights of popularity and patriotism are still the beaten road to power and tyranny; flattery to treachery; standing armies to arbitrary government; and the glory of God to the temporal interest of the clergy." That's what Democrats are against. That's what I'm against, and I'm going to keep talking about it, beacuse as Barbara Ehrenreich has told us, "No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots."

So let me raise some hell.

John McCain is an upstanding guy and a true patriot. I remember when he returned with other POWs at the end of the Vietnam war. I remember -- even though I had shifted from staunchly pro-war to vehemently anti-war between 1968 and 1972 -- being in awe of his courage and strength having endured imprisonment, isolation, and torture for so long. It's not something I think I could have endured myself without breaking, dying, or losing my mind.

But John McCain is not the right man for this job, not now. I would have been quite satisfied (though not happy) if he had won the GOP nomination in 2000 and beat Al Gore in the general election to become President. Because unlike George W. Bush (whose disgusting campaign, engineered by talking pig Karl Rove, smeared and abused McCain and his family), John McCain is a decent man.

So last night, whenever he talked about his experiences as a POW, I was moved and silent. I will never lose my respect or my gratitude for John McCain for enduring what he did in Vietnam.

But when he talked about the things he really stands for, I found myself yelling at the television, "NO! He can't be our next president."

These are tough times for many of you. You’re worried about keeping your job or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay in your home. All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that’s just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future.

Except that this is not true. That is exactly not what John McCain intends to do. It has become very clear that John McCain -- either cynically, or through mis-placed faith -- intends to maintain the same neo-liberal economic policies that have so many people worried about keeping their jobs, finding a new one, and struggling to put food on their tables and stay in their homes.

McCain is still a dyed-in-the-wool supply-sider who believes in lower taxes (this is NOT as great as it sounds, since -- as we've seen in the last eight years -- the middle class don't really benefit much from a $200 break in their taxes, but the wealthy do; and all the while the government has less revenue to serve its citizens), incentives for investment (big investors are STILL making money while most Americans are sucking wind), the removal of "barriers" to trade, and "free and open" (i.e., unregulated) markets -- which will mean even more jobs being moved overseas.

Let's be honest: for all they tried to hide it this week, this is still the Republilcan Party. And John McCain may be running as "the Anti-Bush," but he's still a Republican. And these are, since the Reagan years, core Republican values. Not the welfare of the Aerican people, but the welfare of American business.

I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn’t a popular thing to do. And when the pundits said my campaign was finished, I said I’d rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.

Thanks to the leadership of a brilliant general, David Petraeus, and the brave men and women he has the honor to command, that strategy succeeded and rescued us from a defeat that would have demoralized our military, risked a wider war and
threatened the security of all Americans.

The 800 pound elephant in the room, the man behind the curtain, the dirty secret behind this example of pretty-dog-gone-effective propaganda is that "the surge" has not worked. It is not working as we speak. And as we will find out on October 1, it will never work. When will we, in our culture-centric, teflon-coated, chrome-plated, fossil fuel-consuming bubbles admit to ourseves that Iraq is not America, Iraqis are not Americans (or even Europeans), western techniques does not equal eastern technique, our values are not their values?

Let me tell you why the surge isn't working.

At about the same time that John McCain (and Joe Lieberman) was supporting George W. Bush's request to send an additional 5 brigades to Iraq, the US military was negotiating with Sunni fighters (who made up the bulk of the insurgency) to stop fighting with us. Many of the Sunni fighters belonged to what are called "Awakening Councils, " regional quasi-political/religious groups who feared and resented the US-backed creation of a Shiite government. The US military managed to negotiate a semi-official status for the Sunni Awakening groups with the Shiite-led Iraqi Government.

Regional Awakening Groups now police local areas and each member gets paid a monthly stipend by the US Government of about $30 per month -- and in Iraq right now, that's a lot of money. So there has been, during the same time the "surge" has been in place, both a pragmatic compromise giving political legitimacy to groups that are, for all intents and purposes, sectarian militias, and a financial incentive not to kill Americans to the 100,000 (and growing) members of the Awakening groups.

But that will all end on October 1, when direct responsibility for, and authority over, the Sunni Awakening Councils will pass from US hands to the Shiite-controlled Iraqi government. There will be an almost immediate upturn in violence, because the Shiites never saw recognition of the Awakening groups as anything more than a stop-gap measure in helping the US military appear to be gaining control so that a timetable for withdrawal could be set. Their semi-official status will disappear, as will their stipends, and they will return to attacking Shiites and US troops.

The docile US mass media will report it as the US Government describes it -- not as a failure of the surge, but as some "new" problem between "extremists" or "terrorists" and the "legitimate government of Iraq." But make no mistake about it -- the regional, tribal, and sectarian hatred that was unleashed the moment we invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein never went away as a result of this "surge," and has not abated as a result of it.

I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

(~~channeling Ronald Reagan~~) Well, there you go again!

It's not exactly the way you explain it, Sen. McCain. The Republican Party lost the trust of the American people when Republicans gave into the temptation of corruption, to be sure. But the Republicans also lost the trust of the American people when they lied about a war, mishandled its conduct, began torturing prisoners, ignored the Geneva Conventions, denied prisoners due process of law, abandoned habeus corpus, and weakened our Constitutional human rights.

It is the GOP in the last eight years, not the Democratic Party, that has increased the size of government, and the level of government spending, and the size of the national debt, and our indebtedness to nations like China.

Obama and the Democratic Party have been in the forefront of the fight to fund research into alternative energy sources. Obama voted for the legislation McCain referred to because, in fact, it included a promise of funding for alternative energies. Obama attached an amendment to this bill calling for the stripping of the tax breaks for the oil and gas companies, but the amendment was defeated. In the end, Obama voted for the bill because of the promise of funding for research into new sources of energy.

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Wow. "Education is the civil rights issue of this century." Is that ever a carefully coded sentence. Equal access to public education has been gained, but not equal access to equal resources. Segregation caused by racist, red-lining marketing practices in the real estate industry, to say nothing of the lingering racism that remains in American society, yields poverty-stricken neighborhoods and areas without a sufficient tax base to fund quality schools with good teachers, books, and equipment.

No, Senator McCain, civil rights is the civil rights issue of the 21st century, as it was of the 20th. Stop blaming teachers. Teachers -- especially teachers in the poorest areas in America -- rank alongside POWs in my esteem as America's greatest patriots. Oh, yeah -- and librarians too, Governor Palin. Stop using teachers as a scape goat for underfunded schools and for families that think you can use television as a babysitter for the first six years of their lives and they'll still be prepared for a literate education.

And stop holding out symbolic tokens to families who don't want their children to go to school with black and hispanic children. Stop trying to entice parents who don't want their children to learn about science in science class. I don't want my tax dollars going to schools of this type, or to home schooling moms who teach their children that Jesus is a Republican and President Bush was sent by God to lead us after 9/11. Believe what you want, teach your children what you want, but don't ask me to subsidize your kids' religious educations.

We have dealt a serious blow to al Qaeda in recent years. But they are not defeated, and they’ll strike us again if they can.

To me, this was one of the most egregious, misleading pieces of innuendo of McCain's entire speech. We have not"dealt a serious blow" to al Qa'ida. Al Qa'ida is not a nation, not an army. It has no command structure, no political structure. It can't be "dealt a serious blow" through military means, it can only be made stronger, because al Qa'ida is an idea.

Far from "dealing a serious blow" to al Qa'ida, we have helped them and made them stronger. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, "The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland" confirms this, and I don't understand how McCain can make this amazingly deceitful claim. The report describes how the Iraq war has increased the strength, numbers, and support of al Qa'ida outside the developed world.

The answer to the problem of terrorism in the 21st will not be a military response, any more than it was the answer in the 20th century in Ireland, in Germany, in Italy, in Basque Spain. John McCain, noble and heroic veteran of the Vietnam war doesn't get it. I wish heroes read histories.

I appreciated McCain's exhortation, at the end of his speech, to stand up and fight for America. It was one of the best pieces of hortatory rhetoric I've heard since Henry V (Shakespeare's play -- I don't actually remember Henry V personally):

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility,
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect:
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a gall├Ęd rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height! On, on, you noble English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,
Fathers that like so many Alexanders
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
Dishonor not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you called fathers did beget you!
Be copy now to men of grosser blood
And teach them how to war! And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture. Let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not,
For there is none of you so mean and base
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot!
Follow your spirit; and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!'

But Henry was just one in a very long line of militaristic, imperialist English monarchs who kept my Irish ancestors in subjugation, poverty, and slavery for 800 years, and this is basically an exhortation to make war, not an inspiration to serve, so I'm not necessarily moved by such rhetoric in the direction the speaker wishes me to go.

I’m going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I’m going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I’m an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.

Fight for what’s right for our country.
Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.
Fight for our children’s future.
Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.
Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.
Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight.

Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

I will fight with you, Senator McCain. I will fight for what's right for our country. I will fight for my children's future. I will fight for justice and opportunity for all. I will stand up to defende America from its enemies, both external and internal. I will stand up for my American brothers and sisters. I will fight with you, Senator McCain.

Just not at your side. I will fight to make sure you are not the next President of the United States of America. For, regardless of how much I respect you as a person, I disagree with your politics. They are exactly the opposite of what American needs right now.