Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Bush Legacy -- a Reality Check

The "legacy" of the Bush presidency is one of failure -- failed policies, failed worldview, failure to uphold the Constitution, failure to respect the will of the people -- utter failure.

This legacy includes:

On the plus side, perhaps we'll see, as a result of Bush's disastrous presidency, an attenuation of

This is just scratching the surface. We're only up to May of 2005. More to follow as the Bush presidency dwindles.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shoe Karma

Righties -- like Howie -- still maintain, beyond all reason, that our disastrous foray into "nation building" in Iraq was the right thing to do.

Not surprisingly, Iraqis don't necessarily agree with Howie and his ilk.

On the heels (sorry) of yesterday's shoe-throwing incident, Iraqis -- and Arabs throughout the middle east -- have come out in support of Muntader al-Zaidi, the 29-year-old journalist with a major-league throwing arm who came this close to beaning soon-to-be-former President George W. Bush at a press conference in Baghdad.

In Saudi Arabia, a newspaper reported that a man had offered $10 million to buy just one of what has almost certainly become the world’s most famous pair of black dress shoes.

A daughter of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, reportedly awarded the shoe thrower, Muntader al-Zaidi, a 29-year-old journalist, a medal of courage.

In the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, people calling for an immediate American withdrawal removed their footwear and placed the shoes and sandals at the end of long poles, waving them high in the air. And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, people threw their shoes at a passing American convoy.

In street-corner conversations, on television and in Internet chat rooms, the subject of shoes was inescapable throughout much of the Middle East on Monday, as was the defiant act that inspired the interest: a huge and spontaneous eruption of anger at
President Bush on Sunday in his final visit here.

Shoe Karma. Not exactly greeting the liberators with showers of candy and flowers, is it? Did anybody really believe that would happen?
As the Buddha said, "What goes around, comes around."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Iraq to Bush: Thanks for Everything!

Sometimes when I'm discouraged I get the creepy sort of feeling that nothing I believe in is real; that "goodness" is an illusion, that evil goes unanswered in the world, that there's no real distinction between the two in the first place and that everything is, after all, relative.

Then, just for laughs, Karma shows its face.

I'm not supporting or encouraging or abetting shoe-throwers in any way. Hey, he could have given the president a black eye! Um, another black eye.

No, shoe throwing is violent and I don't support violence. But on this "valedictory" trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, that George W. Bush should be reminded that a lot of people hate him, rather than love him, for what he has done in the last eight years is bitterly ironic, and redolent of cosmic justice.

Sometimes I think that the only justice the Bush administration will be subjected to is cosmic justice. Perhaps that's enough.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrested

The Chicago Sun-Times article about the allegations is pretty detailed. After reading it, I'm a little sick to my stomach thinking this guy was running my state. Bits of information have been swirling around for a long time about Blagojevich and corruption, but the FBI has him on tape. I was willing to presume him innocent until proven guilty, but you don't get much guiltier than this.

The two allegations that are getting the most play are that Blagojevich was "selling" President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat and that Blagojevich tried to force the Tribune Co. to fire certain editorial board members in exchange for state assistance. Of course, now Obama knew all about the sale of the Senate seat and was in on it. But if you read the article, it's clear that Blagojevich was in his own fantasy land. He actually thought Obama might appoint him to a cabinet position. Laughable. It wasn't Obama putting his Senate seat on the market. It was Blagojevich. That needs to be made clear. While Obama has been putting together his cabinet and deciding how he's going to move forward once he takes office in January, Blagojevich was scheming on how to make the most of this vacant seat. Just like he seems to have been scheming for some time as governor.

With regard to the Tribune Co. situation, Blagojevich was upset that the Tribune editorial board was calling for his impeachment. It hurt his feelings, don't you know. So he was going to withhold state assistance in connection with the Wrigley Field sale unless certain editorial board members were fired. The article never says what came of that. The representative from the Tribune Co. supposedly told Blagojevich's chief of staff that the matter would be handled, but I don't think any editorial board members were fired, so who knows.

The man is clearly off his rocker. I didn't vote for him in the last election, because I didn't feel he had done anything for Illinois, and I was skeptical about the rumors regarding corruption (rumors at that time because no one knew what was true yet). He pissed me off when he held hostage state funding to the Chicago Transit Authority unless the CTA allowed free rides for seniors. I didn't mind free rides for seniors as a concept, but Blagojevich threw it in there at the last minute and refused to sign off on funding, which the CTA desperately needed in order to avoid severe fare hikes and reduced service, until an agreement was reached. It was a threat -- do as I say or else. He didn't care that many Chicagoans would be literally left out in the cold if the funding wasn't provided. The CTA was planning on cutting half its bus routes. Blagojevich didn't care. He wanted free rides for seniors. Now, the CTA is raising fares in January, partly as a result of the free rides for seniors. And I will now be taking Metra to save $23 a month. Yippee. Thanks, Blago.

I can't really point to anything Blagojevich has done for Illinois. We had some expressway construction that made traffic on the Dan Ryan and I-294 better, but I-88 has been torn up for years now with seemingly no end in sight. He instituted open road tolling, which I suppose makes commuting faster, but only if you have an I-PASS. I don't drive to work, but I bought an I-PASS just to make my life easier. Not everyone does. And now Blagojevich's been arrested and has embarrassed our whole state. I thought former Gov. George Ryan's conviction was bad. This is worse.

I'm disappointed. Disappointed because people everywhere seem to think Illinois is all about corrupt politics. That Chicago is about corrupt politics. This is the city and state I live in, and I take offense. But people like Blagojevich prove those people right, and it angers me. Because it does a disservice to those politicians who aren't corrupt and just trying to do right by the citizens of Chicago and Illinois. Because it's hard to climb out of the hole that's been dug by people like Blagojevich, hard to escape the notion that politics here is all about "the machine" and corruption and "pay to play."

If people who live here think Chicago is so corrupt, stop voting for the people who continue to corrupt politics. Blagojevich didn't elect himself. Mayor Richard J. Daley didn't either. Blagojevich got what was coming to him -- at least in the form of an arrest, it remains to be seen what will happen going forward. But he shouldn't have been in office to begin with.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The full-page ad

I'm sure most people thought that once the election was over, we wouldn't hear any more about President-elect Barack Obama's citizenship. Oh, but you'd be wrong. Yesterday on the train, I was standing in the aisle, because on the el that's pretty much what everyone ends up doing after 5 p.m. -- standing in the aisle. A woman was reading the newspaper, but I didn't know what paper and wasn't even close enough to her to actually read the page she was on, but I noticed that it was a full-page ad with a title that asked Obama if he was a natural born citizen of the U.S. The man standing next to me snorted when he saw it and shook his head. My sentiments exactly. But I was curious about this ad and looked it up this morning.

Mary Mitchell from the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a column about it today. The ad was paid for by the We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education, Inc., and as I thought, the ad questioned Obama's citizenship, once again bringing up the tired subject of the Hawaiian birth certificate. If you want to waste a few minutes of your day, here is the actual ad. It appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

I'm not sure what the point is to this, except to waste tens of thousands of dollars, which the chairman of We The People Foundation, Robert Schultz, said his organization spent. What I find interesting is that people and organizations who have questioned Obama's citizenship don't seem to be upstanding citizens themselves. We The People Foundation has been in trouble for tax fraud. Phillip Berg, who filed a lawsuit against Obama alleging that Obama wasn't eligible to run for president of the United States, is also a 9/11 conspiracy theorist (he thinks the U.S. was in on it). He's also been sanctioned for unethical actions as an attorney.

The economy is a mess. Unemployment is at an all-time high. People are losing their homes. And with all those issues to deal with, the Robert Schultzes and Phillip Bergs of the country think what we care about most is a months-old conspiracy theory that has already been debunked several times over. I almost can't even fathom the stupidity. Almost.