Saturday, September 23

BUSH AND THE NEOCONS: DOING THE ENEMY'S WORK FOR THEM


Have we become our own worst enemy?

Bush and the neocons, with the active assistance of the Republican Congress, have been very effectively carrying out the mission of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden: bankrupting the United States financially and spiritually, killing and maiming thousands of Americans, crippling our military, destroying our standing among the peoples of the world and exposing us to new and more global threats.

How is it possible that this isn't patently obvious to Republican voters?

Tags: , ,

BECOMING THE ENEMY

Andrew Sullivan:

It is one of history's great tragedies that American conservatism, born in part in resistance to Soviet torture, should end by endorsing it in America, by Americans. And not just endorsing it, but brandishing the use of it as a tool to gain re-election and maintain power. If there is a conservative soul, and I believe there is, the current "conservative" leadership is bent on destroying it. And the resistance must not waver.

Friday, September 22

INTERNATIONAL LIVING

Well, I find it funny that I'm being told, "Don't leave the US!" by both Republican friends and Democrats. The truth is, The Sage and I have been considering just that for the past two years, and have been subscribers of "International Living."

We're not well-heeled. I make a lower-six-figure salary, which for most Americans is a dream come true. More than a decade ago The Sage (my 30-years husband, for new readers, a blessed result of our teenage love and marriage that stuck), smarter and more talented than I, and I kind of agreed to switch roles -- I had the opportunity to advance from a stay-at-home-mom and part-time PR person to a full-time position with a top public company with advancement opportunities, while our five brilliant and challenging offspring (we had five teenagers at the same time!) were approaching or reaching adolescence, which required a permanent, and steady, presence at home. The Sage provided that stability. In so doing, he sacrificed his own marketability.

Now all our kids are in their twenties and, while not having perfect lives, they have our confidence that they are well equipped to live lives of value -- at least as well as the most of us. And we (their parents)=== have made, since the 2004 presidential elections, a serious examination of international options for our post-50's life.

The bottom line is, I don't want to spent the rest of my life away from our children, and I think I can safely say that The Sage doesn't either -- especially since he never takes a day off in lieu of caring for whatever of our kids' needs are if he can alleviate them! But if I spend time dreaming about escaping from the travesty that my country has become under GWB (and becomes worse under possible ensuing Rethug administrations), what are other Americans considering? Instead of calling upon our "brightest and best," will we be, explicably, be driving those very Americans to seek another shelter? And is there, anywhere in the world, an alternative America, such as the governmental system we were raised to, and still, revere?

BUSH LOVES TORTURE

So this what the Bush hath wrought. More from the same source here.

THE UNITED STATES OF -- WHAT????

I grew up reading in school (the name of what I can't quite recall but was something like the "Scholastic" Journal) a newspaper aimed at children. It frequently highlighted the awful propaganda Soviet kids were subject to, and contrasted that with the rights and privileges we Americans had. Wow, we felt so lucky to live in a country in which freedom was more than a word -- it meant we could think and say exactly what we felt, unfettered by government surveillance and retribution.

While I was musing on this, I discovered that Moe Blues of Bad Attitudes had already articulated my feelings.

PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS ON THE MOVE

Moderate and progressive Christians are pushing back against the so-called "religious right."

"In many ways what you're seeing now is more than a first wave. It's moderate and progressive people of faith pushing back against the fundamentalism of the religious right, but even more against . . . subjecting our deepest faith to a partisan agenda," said Tom Perriello, a co-founder of Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good, a new group of progressive and moderate Catholics. [Emphasis mine]

Hallelujah. It's about time that Christianity ceases to be identified with the Republican Party. Can you imagine Jesus aligning himself with a temporal authority? "My kingdom is not of this world," he said. So why is the "religious right" trying so hard to establish itself as the ruling power of the United States?

UPDATE: What in the world are they thinking (and believing, and practicing)? Faithful Christians, please note: In a world where war -- and that means, in the current U.S. reality, the death of many non-American innocents (non-combatants) -- is the accepted norm, how can you defend a crusade against productive American citizens who just want to live their lives in peace. Gay marriage? Who cares? How does that affect your own heterosexual marriage? Abortion? I'll admit to a distaste for it in general, but how can you defend that stance while also defending the slaughter of so many ALIVE AND BREATHING Iraqis as "defense against terroristm" and yet trumpet your "values issues"?

Tags:

THE DEVIL MADE HIM DO IT


All the hoopla over Hugo Chavez's speech to the U.N., in which he called George W. Bush "the devil," is highly amusing to me. Every news outlet has harangued on the subject, wingnut talk radio has gone wild, and the truth is, Chavez only said what a huge portion of the world thinks: that this president and his administration has exhibited all the worst traits ever attributed to our society in the person of "the ugly American."

What, really, will be the legacy of George W. Bush? Dishonest, preemptive war and tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. Then you can throw into the mix an endorsement of torture, a political strategy of character assassination, and a campaign to destroy the Constitution.

When you consider that honestly, doesn't that sound much more characteristic of a satanic influence than of the Judaeo-Christian ethic?

No, I don't think Bush is the devil. But then again, as the old saw goes, when the devil appears he doesn't come in the form of a red-cloaked horned monster -- he appears as an angel of light. As the character Aaron Altman said in the great film Broadcast News, "What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he's around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I'm semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing... he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance... Just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being salesmen. And he'll get all the great women."

The character of men and women can be fairly evaluated by the ways in which they use their power. Jimmy Carter has spent his post-presidential years building homes for the poor, monitoring elections and highlighting human rights abuses throughout the world, and pressing the cause of peace. Bill Clinton has sponsored the Clinton Global Initiative, which seeks to solve seemingly unsolveable world problems "one bite at a time," uniting people of power and wealth in efforts that governments have failed to tackle.

Dubya just wants to clear brush off his cattle- and horse-less ranch.

Tags: ,

Monday, September 18

WOMEN'S ISSUES: GEORGE ALLEN VS. JIM WEBB

I'm going to have to comment on one of the issues raised by Tim Russert Sunday as he interviewed Virginia Senatorial candidates George Allen (R-Incumbent) and Jim Webb, the Marine Corps veteran and Vietnam War hero Democratic challenger. The issue was, who has dissed women more re the armed forces?

As Virginia governor Allen opposed opening the Virginia Military Institute to women, saying it would be "ungentlemanly" for women to be treated as were VMI cadets (I have to ask, what were the practices that women couldn't withstand them? Was there some kind of hazing that even young men shouldn't be subject to?). Webb, as Navy Secretary, raised questions as to the deployment of women in combat positions.

Although Webb had questions about incorporating women into rifle battlions and the like, he incontrovertibly expanded opportunities for women in the Navy.

Neither man was a world-beater in forwarding the cause of women in the military, though Webb in his powerful position as SecNav was able, and did more, than Allen as governor and then Senator.

But as a woman, and a feminist, I have to assert strongly that I am not JUST a woman, I am an American. So while feminist aims somewhat influence my political leanings, I am first and foremost just a non-gender-related citizen. Allen is a Bush-clone cowboy who endorses the disastrous Bush administration policies almost without demur. Webb is a war hero who has a Marine Corps son just deployed to Iraq, a Reagan appointee and former Republican who switched to the Democratic Party because of his opposition to the Iraq War (notably BEFORE the invasion), an anti-politician who has engaged in the process because of his strongly held beliefs that the Rethugs are completely out of it.

It's time for some anti-politicians who have military experience (isn't it interesting that that almost all back the Democrats?) to join the Congress.

Tags:

JESUS CAMP?


As a Christian, I find this extremely disturbing. At this very time when representatives of the conservative U.S. press and broadcast outlets are decrying Islam as a "religion of violence" and (as Greg Knapp did this afternoon) insisting that since Americans saw "thousands" of Muslims celebrating after 9/11, thus the adherents of Islam's words in defense of their religion are belied by the "actions of Muslims worldwide." Now this extraordinary movie trailer reveals that some thousands of Christian youths are being encouraged to learn and adopt militarist skills and stances.

There are scenes of hordes of children (not even teenagers) wearing camouflage clothing and face paint, demonstrating their martial skills and pointing wooden weapons at a phantom "enemy."

"We're in training to be God's army!" a young boy exhorts the crowd of children.

"This means war! Are you a part of it or not?" shouts an adult leader to the screaming assent of thousands of what appear to be 10- to 12-year olds. It's impossible to tell if the trailer fairly represents the adult leadership at the camp, but almost all of the adults pictured seem to fit the same physical profile: obese middle-aged women wearing glasses. I only mention their physical appearance because it struck me that they looked highly unlikely to assume a military position but had no problem with urging mere children to do just that.

Considering this "Jesus Camp" movement and the launch of the violent "Christian" videogame "Left Behind: Eternal Forces", I think right-wing and "evangelical Christian" forces in the United States should reconsider their argument regarding the violence inspired by religion. Without resorting to historical actions such as the Crusades and the Inquisition, there is reason to believe that SOME (certainly not all) Christians, like SOME Muslims, find it easy and expedient to subvert the tenets of their faith to the challenges of the material world -- as opposed to the spiritual plane.

I spent this weekend talking to my much-loved sister-in-law, who is one of the most devoted Christians I know. She and her husband (The Sage's twin brother) are ministers to children and base their lives on the Word of God (as we Christians believe the Bible to be). She is politically somewhat conservative but we agree on one crucial point: it is not the role of the church to "convict" "sinners" of sin. That is the province of the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility, as Christians, is to model the behavior, and obey the commandments, of Jesus Christ. At one point in our discussions I said, "Would you agree that it is not enough to ask, 'What would Jesus do?' but to ask, 'What did Jesus do?' She wholeheartedly assented. "It is our job, our assignment, to extend the love of Christ to all, not to condemn anyone -- that is, clearly according to the Scriptures, the job of the Holy Spirit."

I'm aware that many of my readers don't identify with my faith but only my politics. But I have to echo what my dear mother said when I was only seventeen and resisting the Vietnam War (this is a paraphrase), "I don't always agree with D-----. But I know her political alignments are inspired by her faith, and that is all I need to know."

Tags:

THE INIMITABLE ANN RICHARDS


Molly Ivins remembers.

She was bold, brassy, and beloved. She had the most fantastic, down-home wit. My favorite line is still, "Poor George [H.W. Bush]. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

One of the saddest days in Texas history was the day the other George, Dubya, defeated Ann in her re-election bid as Governor. Never in my wildest dreams could I have guessed that it would turn out to be one of the saddest days in American history as well, putting him on the track to the worst presidency in our history.

But I shouldn't let thoughts of the Bushes intrude upon my memories of Ann Richards today of all days, when she is being buried. I'll just say a prayer that Ann is riding a white Harley up in heaven and breaking St. Peter up with her observations about how she thinks things there should be run.

Tags:

Sunday, September 17

"WE HAVE NO OTHER ISSUE"

This is a shameful statement to have to make. With control of both Congress and the White House, the Rethuglicans are again forced to try to attack Democrats on terrorism and defense, because, in their own words, they have exactly zero legislative accomplishments to show for it.

"People aren't paying attention to the economy. We've given up on immigration. We need to send people home with some significant accomplishments, and we have no other choice," LaHood said. "We have no other issue."

Of course, in my mind running on terrorism and defense is an extremely weak strategy since the Bush administration and its Republican Congressional sycophants have made a shambles of our defense posture and policy, with the debacle in Iraq at its center, all but destroying our military and having created a raft of new terrorist threats worldwide instead of capturing the perpetrators of 9/11. Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar are still at large and inspiring new terrorist offshoots. Iran and North Korea are greater threats to the stability of the world than ever. But it seems a large portion of the American electorate still (inexplicably) favors the Republicans over the Democrats when it comes to dealing with terrorism, and as the man said, "we have no other issue."

Tags: ,

BILLY GOATS GRUFF

Oh, my. Joe Scarborough eviscerates Bush and his Rethuglican Congress. It puts me in mind of the Billy Goats Gruff and the Troll (guess who's the Troll).

But that kind of give-and-take between presidents and members of Congress ended once Clinton retired to Chappaqua. For the next five years, Republicans on the Hill would do little more than rubber-stamp Bush's domestic and international agenda because lawmakers were intimidated by his power and his popularity with the Republican base.

Even when the administration would not give generals the troops they needed to win the war in Iraq, Republican leaders did nothing. When the president refused to veto a single spending bill while the deficit spiraled upward, Republican leaders looked away. And when chaos was reigning in the streets of New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast in Katrina's horrific aftermath, Republican leaders remained mute.

That silence -- proof that it is better to be feared than loved in politics -- has had devastating results. The United States is more divided than ever, our leaders are despised around the world, our fiscal situation is catastrophic and congressional approval ratings are the lowest ever. Since nothing sharpens the mind like a political hanging, Republican leaders in the Senate and House are finally considering doing what effete newspaper editorialists have suggested for years: throwing Bush overboard.

Of course, the mere suggestion makes some Republican loyalists shudder. Being a faithful follower of Brother Bush has long been synonymous with loving Jesus, supporting the troops and taking a stand against sodomy. But no more.
...
Of course, you GOP candidates can be sure that such attacks will annoy Bush, even though your survival may be all that stands between him and a crazy Democratic chairman launching impeachment hearings. But if you win this fall only to face his stern rebuke next winter, just tell him it was schadenfreude for all the times the White House treated you badly. With any luck, Bush will think you are talking about that Berlin disco that Moammar Gaddafi bombed back in 1986 and then dismiss you like the worthless billy goat he always suspected you were.

DER FUEHRER


The NY Times calls their editorial Bush Untethered, but I'd call it "Bush der F├╝hrer."

Watching the president on Friday in the Rose Garden as he threatened to quit interrogating terrorists if Congress did not approve his detainee bill, we were struck by how often he acts as though there were not two sides to a debate. We have lost count of the number of times he has said Americans have to choose between protecting the nation precisely the way he wants, and not protecting it at all.

On Friday, President Bush posed a choice between ignoring the law on wiretaps, and simply not keeping tabs on terrorists. Then he said the United States could rewrite the Geneva Conventions, or just stop questioning terrorists. To some degree, he is following a script for the elections: terrify Americans into voting Republican. But behind that seems to be a deeply seated conviction that under his leadership, America is right and does not need the discipline of rules. He does not seem to understand that the rules are what makes this nation as good as it can be.


Watching Bush at his Rose Garden press conference, I saw a nasty, ugly would-be tyrant who downright threatened the nation -- I couldn't believe it. He as much as said, "If you don't do it my way, I'll take my football and go home and let the terrorists do what they want to you." Incredible behavior for a United States president. Yet 40% of Americans approve of this would-be dictator.

What's happened to my country?

Tags: , , ,