Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Bush favors feeding human vegetable

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

You’ve heard about the girl in Florida whose husband is trying to take out her feeding tube and whose parents are trying to keep it in.

President Bush came out yesterday in favor of putting the girl’s feeding tube back in. He issued a statement saying it was part of his policy of creating a “culture of life…at all stages”.

But where’s the culture of life for the US soldiers who were killed in Iraq, or the civilians killed there? Where’s the culture of life for tthe hundreds of death-row inmates Bush let go to their deaths while he was governor of Texas? Bush cares more for the life of an 8-cell embryo than that of a retarded black man.

The Florida state legislature passed an obviously unconstitutional bill to allow Jeb Bush to order the feeding tube reinserted, after 19 judges had reviewed the case and determined that the comprehensive law passed five years ago to cover exactly such cases as this clearly allowed the husband to make the health care choices for his wife. Jeb Bush then signed that law, himself knowing it to be unconstitutional, and then took the action that the unconstitutional law supposedly allowed him to.

Now George W. Bush has come out in favor of his brother’s signing and taking action under an obviously unconstitutional law. Our President doesn’t even understand the basic concept of separation of powers in a modern representative democracy. Must have been playing hooky the day they covered that in his eighth grade civics class.

Joe Lieberman, of course, supported this unconstitutional course of events as well.

Older people especially should be concerned about the idea that their lives could be extralegally prolonged against their wishes and those of their guardians and duly appointed agents by legislatures and elected officials. Think about it.

Older voters not supporting Bush

Monday, October 20th, 2003


Today there was an article in the paper about how support for Bush by older voters had fallen to an all-time low—40%.

Why? It’s very simple. His economic policies have decimated their retirement portfolios. Old people don’t like what’s happening in Iraq any more than younger ones do. And they don’t like the deficits that his policies has created, as far as the eye can see.

So, if you decide not to vote for George W. in 2004, you’ll not only be in good company, you’ll be in the majority.

Think about it.


Bush\’s anti-commercial on Fox

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

Bush’s one-hour interview with Brit Hume on Fox yesterday gave the the Democrats better advertising than they could have hoped for. The only thing Bush managed to accomplish was to respond to each question with one of his four available emotions: arrogance, cluelessness, feigned indifference, and faux dignity. The low point came when Bush compared himself to Lincoln. I think the average high-school civics student has a better idea of the roles and responsibilities of the Presidency that George does. One can only hope that any further damage he does to our economy, foreign policy, and environment can be held to a minimum for the next 18 months until General Clark is elected. Amazingly, a recent poll showed Clark leading Bush by three percentage points in a head-to-head matchup. Maybe the American people deserve a bit more credit than I thought.

Outlawing honking

Thursday, September 18th, 2003

Walking around the streets of Tokyo, I gradually became aware of a traffic sound—that was missing. Honking horns. You virtually never hear horns anywhere in Japan. It’s against the law, except when necessary to alert someone to danger. More simply, it’s against common sense, and unnecesary.

Contrast that to Los Angeles where the car ahead of you slowing down a bit, a car pulling into traffic 100 yards ahead of you, or someone changing lanes in front of you, someone trying to parallel park, or virtually any other perceived offense is considered valid grounds for a good lean on the horn. It’s not about alerting anyone—it’s about letting off steam, and auditorily punishing people.

Let’s outlaw honking horns. Of course, our democracy is too broken to actually do something this reasonable. I guarantee opponents of such a move would cite the First Amendment in their diatribes.


Monday, September 15th, 2003

The gay marriage discussion has taken an odd turn. Other than the most ardent homophobes, most people seem to agree with the idea of some kind of rights for gay couples, if only the right to be at someone’s bedside in the hospital; the discussion is around how broad these rights should be. But after the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Georgia anti-sodomy law, even some people who support broad rights for gay couples went out of their way to make the case that whatever a gay couple’s relationship is, it is not marriage, because that is something between a man and a woman, and focused, as one of the Democratic presidential candidates said, on having babies and raising them.

That’s sort of weird though. We let people get married who we know can’t have babies, or who may have already decided never to have babies. And gay people can and do have babies too and those babies need a family unit. But I digress.

In any case, at this point, it almost seems to boil down to semantics. These people seem to be saying that you could have an institutionally defined relationship between gay couples which was even in all respects identical to marriage—but just don’t call it marriage. Then what to call it? You heard it here first: Bob’s neologism for gay marriage, which is gayriage. I think this catching on is just a matter of time!

When gayriage is implemented, though, let’s take the opportunity to make one major change from marriage—make it for five-year renewable terms. This is an old idea of mine which I was flattered to see in the book Against Love, although there the proposed term was one year—far too short in my opinion. Anyway, once we have experience with the how renewable terms work in gayriage, maybe we can then back-fit them into marriage!

Lieberman on the Loose

Wednesday, September 10th, 2003

Lively debate last night among the Democratic candidates for President.

Up to now I had thought Joe Lieberman was sort of harmless and confused. Now I started to think he is actually dangerous. Attacking Dean when the latter proposes we try to take a balanced position in the Middle East. Making his lame appeals for the black vote. Insisting we add more troops in Iraq when no-one else, not even President Bush, wants to do that. What’s he trying to do, appeal to the reservist vote? Did he forget that he was only chosen as VP candidate in 2000 as an Clinton-neutralizer since he had come out early against Presidential philandering? Has it not occurred to him that he’s one of the reasons Gore lost in 2000?

Best impressions: Carol Moseley Braun—thoughtful, intelligent, articulate. Great VP candidate. Worst impressions: John Kerry—his hair can only get him so far, since he apparently doesn’t really believe anything and can’t express it if he does. But Dean is brighter and more presidential than the rest of them put together, and actually has the better-drawn policies, in spite of rabid right-wing talk-show hosts trying to paint him as a 21st century McGovern.

Al Gore\’s speech to

Friday, September 5th, 2003

Ran across Al Gore’s speech to Listen to it now. It’s a shame that our political system could not elect a man like this even after he won the popular vote, and that instead of him running this year we have the nine dwarfs. He leaves them in the dust in terms of his intellect, his compassion, his honesty, and his policy expertise. He honed in in his speech on what I agree is the real issue: the fundamental dishonesty of the Bush administration and its contempt for the political process and the American citizenry.

Everyone in America was dismayed at the looting that went on in Iraq after its “liberation”. We felt ashamed that human beings could behave so abysmally, do things so obviously wrong. That’s why it really struck a chord when Gore quoted the Nobel-prize winning economist George Akerlof as saying that in the Bush team’s economic policies “…we have a form of looting”. Not chairs or fans looted from a government office in Iraq, but billions of dollars quasi-legally looted from the American people by the rich, the drug companies, and the energy companies.

Living History

Thursday, September 4th, 2003

I’ve finished Hillary’s book. All accusations of blandness are certainly well founded. “Then I had the privelege of meeting Queen Sofia, whom I found fascinating and committed.” Whatever.

Still, this book is a highly valuable distillation of the key political events of the last decade by one of the major players in those events. And it’s a personal, and in its own way, intimate self-portrait by this girl from Chicago who ended up spending eight years in the White House, and is doubtless the leading candidate to be the first female President of the US.

We all know about the “vast right-wing conspiracy”, and have been programmed to chuckle internally when we hear the phrase. But one thing this book brings out in stark relief is the utter mean-spiritedness and take-no-prisoners tactics of destruction practiced by that group of people who, for what reason is hard to fathom, apparently devoted the entirety of their political and personal energies to the utter ruination of the boy from Hope, Arkansas, and his activist wife.

Chief among them is Newt Gingrich. And, of course, Kenneth Starr. After having read this book it’s hard to doubt the total banality and malevolence of their motives.

I was interested in something else, though, which Hillary really didn’t go into. What, exactly, accounts for the fact that this middle-class suburban girl from Chicago ended up as an activist at Wellesley, a lawyer, a child-rights advocate? Certainly a large part of her career depended on marrying one certain guy, but clearly even without doing that Hillary would have been a community leader, politician, or activist. Reading the book, it all seems to have evolved so naturally. But there must have been seeds planted somewhere which grew into this woman. What were they?

Personally, I can’t think of a better President of the US than Hillary. How about 2004?

September 11, 2001

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

Written September, 2001.

The despicable terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 have apparently shocked commentators here in America so greatly that they have forgotten their history and now are referring to the “kamikazes” attacking Pearl Harbor, erroneously placing the formation of that distinguished corps of Japanese patriots, the “tokkou-tai”, at the beginning rather than the end of the Pacific war. But what’s a little historical inaccuracy among friends, when we are looking for apt analogies for horrific disasters fomented by villainous foes and causing major loss of life?

True, our commentators could have chosen Hiroshima, or Dresden, or any other number of equally or more hideous war scenes from recent human history as the object of their analogy; but remember, in both those cases we were the good guys; plus, they did not occur on American soil! Ah, American soil. The mere words evoke images of that fine, proud, sparkling, rich, unique, um, well it’s basically just dirt, but anyway it’s dirt that literally forms the sacred ground upon which our blessed country stands. (The commentators may be forgiven for failing to bring up the little detail that the remote Pacific islands of Hawai’i were “American” soil only by virtue of their being stolen from the Hawaiians by corporate interests a short 50 years previously.)
In any case, sixty years ago it was the nasty Japs; now it’s the nasty Arabs springing these despicable attacks on us. America needs its villains. And as the recent movie Pearl Harbor should have reminded us, December 7, 1941 is a day which does indeed still live in infamy in the mind of the average American, inexorably bound to the image of the deceitful, grunting, short, cruel Japanese depicted so faithfully in that same movie. So it is no surprise that the Pearl Harbor analogy came instantly to the mind of not one but virtually all commentators, as well as even political figures, whom one could have charitably expected to be a bit more sensitive, who regurgitated “day of infamy” slogans.

But let’s stop here a minute and remember a grand old American tradition: positive thinking. Look on the bright side! For instance, due to the cowardly terrorist attacks, one poor guy in Texas has had his execution delayed. In other words, the terrorists managed to frustrate the best efforts of Texas’ new governor Rick Perry, a proud “fry ‘em now” successor to the man who is now the leader of the free world. I’m sure the poor death row inmate is appalled that the cost in human life required to delay his execution ranges into the thousands (mere hundreds probably would not have sufficed), but is still certainly thanking his lucky stars.

On the other hand, one of the worst effects of the bombings was having to listen to a horrible, off-key, bicameral choral rendition of “God Bless America” by our elected representatives to the US Congress, standing proudly on the steps of the US Capitol Building. Believe me, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does a much better job with this song. These guys should all have some kind of operation done on their voice boxes to make sure they don’t try to sing again. What’s worse, the song came after the delivery of ringing pronouncements of support for President Bush in his relentless fight to track down and punish the vile evildoers. As if there was maybe some possibility that they were, like, not going to support him? And they emphasized that their support was to be wholly non-partisan. As if they were going to support him, but maybe only in some kind of partisan way? And all of this, as if their support, or the “strongly-worded” resolution they passed, made any difference? Any more than made by the flags now mindlessly being flown throughout America to show our support for, um, what was it supposed to be?

The catastrophe also meant that we had to sit, wringing our hands, through the first live speech by our new President from the Oval Office. Sounding and looking like he badly needed both new speechwriters and some quickie teleprompter lessons (assuming the personality transplant is not possible), George reconfirmed, as if that were necessary, that he would bring to the crisis the approximate leadership skills and decisive resolve of his English Springer Spaniel Spotty (daughter of his father’s mutt Millie). Having to listen to this dreck is really adding insult to injury. Did George W. absolutely have to include in his speech the bizarre, jarring quote from the Christian Bible book of Psalms, apparently indicating that George does indeed think we are walking through the valley of death (hush! don’t tell the financial markets!), but that we will be OK because God is with us?

In looking at the pronouncements of the President and other government officials and media commentators, we find a common thread: we are going to “track down”, “find”, “search for”, “bring to justice”, and “punish” the perpetrators. Here we find a classic example of America’s inability to do even the most basic of adaptive thinking. Most of the guys who did this can’t be found or punished or brought to justice because they are now little tiny shreds of flesh attached to collapsed girders at the site of what used to be the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. The people who helped them directly can be found quite easily, and apparently did not even really try to cover their tracks; their efforts seem, rightly, to have been successfully oriented to avoid detection prior to carrying out their terrorist acts. If they are caught, they will spend 20 years in the American justice system getting great legal support paid for by the American taxpayer, after which if we are still executing people they will be executed. So what.

These particular terrorists, and their supporters and sponsors, in other words, don’t care about being, or may even want to be, searched for, tracked down, found, brought to justice, and punished. America’s goal should be simple—to prevent future similar terrorist acts. Trying to accomplish this by new airport procedures which cost American air passengers another two billion dollars a year just plays into the hands of the terrorists, whose goal, let us not forget, is simply to inflict damage, whether financial or psychological, on America. After all, our current airport procedures have been in effect for years with no major security problems. Whatever America does, it should be prioritzed according to, and judged by, the ultimately simple criterion of whether it contributes to eliminating future such acts.

But there’s another aspect of this story that strikes me. Let’s assume that a child murders his father. Certainly the a priori assumption would be that the child was at fault, especially if we had heard stories about the problems the child had had in the past, or threats he had made about his parents. But in practice, no situation is completely one-sided, and neither is this one. Certainly the terrorists’ utter hatred of American and their raw desire to inflict all possible pain and damage on America is pathological. Certainly the terrorists must not be allowed to continue such brazen acts, and if America knows terrorists that are likely to do so it should take the appropriate steps to neutralize them. At the same time, these terrorists did not emerge from a vacuum. Their extreme anger at the US can itself be taken as evidence of the depth of the feeling that history has engendered in them. The US has without doubt taken positions in the past, in many cases apparently driven by corporate and political interests, which are in fact destructive and detremental to one side while exhibiting favoritism or undue support to the other. I am by no means trying to say that the terrorists had a point, rather that there is a sequence of historical events that led to their emergence. And America’s response would be more effective in the long-term, and more understandable, if it incorporated this realization. I find it amazing that not a single commenator has alluded to this possibility in any way whatsoever.

In the end, the damage done by the terrorists is more pernicious and long-lasting, and will exact a greater cost from the American public than even they could have imagined: American-style public posturing, handwringing, and faux-introspection for years and decades to come; endless tear-jerking stories and books about the victims and the survivors; thousands of hours of vapid network news coverage. On the other hand, the bad guys did accomplish one important goal: get Chandra Levy and Gary Condit off the news, permanently. Dr. and Ms. Levy, try bringing up Chandra again now! Take that!

Great moments in sucking up to the in-laws

Tuesday, July 8th, 2003

In Laura Bush’s recent on-line chat, reported on the White House website, Lauren, from Porterville, CA wrote in to ask: “Who is your favorite president besides your husband?”

Mrs. Bush replied:
“That’s easy, my father-in-law President George H. W. Bush and of course my favorite First Lady is my mother-in-law Barbara Bush.”