Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Worst. President. Ever.

January 10, 2007

Updated and Expanded!

Is it too early to be declaring this, with two years of untold disasters left for the Bush Administration to bring? Personally, I think Bush crossed the finish line for this contest long ago and hasn’t quit running yet. Let’s take a look at his legacy:

I’m not sure I can even remember it all, but starting at the beginning:

  • He won the Presidency after losing the popular vote, with a highly contested election result in the state of Florida.
  • When he took office, was told by Clinton’s outgoing people that Bin Laden was the biggest threat, and was handed a plan to deal with it. He then demoted Richard Clarke and totally ignored Bin Laden and terrorism for the first eight months on his Administration.
  • During this time, his signature policies were whoring for the religious right (by prohibiting federal funding of stem cells and funnelling tax dollars to churches through “faith based initiatives”), passing tax cuts which were little more than a billions-of-dollars giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, and introducing sweeping education reform (No Child Left Behind) while proceeding to underfund it by tens of billions of dollars.
  • He went on vacation for the month of August and then some in 2001, while warning sirens about terrorist activity were going off all over the place. During this time, he was handed a memo titled “Bin Laden determined to attack US”; he didn’t ask any questions about it.
  • On September 11, the worst attack on American soil in history occurred on Bush’s watch. His response was to sit like a deer in headlights for seven minutes after being told the country was attacked.
  • Almost immediately afterwards, according to reports, the Administration wanted to pin the attacks on Saddam Hussein.
  • Days later, he signed the Orwellian named Patriot Act, one of the biggest curtailments of civil liberties ever, and has defended it vigorously since.
  • With most of the world united in condemning the attacks and the highest approval rating of any President, ever, Bush of course fell back on the politics of divisiveness: “You’re either with us, or with the terrorists.”
  • He opposed setting up the Department of Homeland Security before he was forced to flip flop on the issue. He then staffed it with cronies.
  • He opposed a 9/11 commission. When one was finally convened, he refused to testify for it. He finally did so though… off the record, not under oath, and with Cheney by his side.
  • As commander in chief, he botched the best chance we had to get Bin Laden at Tora Bora, who five years after 9/11 remains uncaptured. These days, Bush isn’t even concerned about the man who killed almost 3,000 Americans and left a hole in downtown manhattan.
  • By the end of 2002, the war in Afghanistan was all but forgotten (and lost, allowing for a Taliban resurgence.)
  • In September of 2002 (because you never launch a new product in August), the focus had shifted to justifying an invasion of Iraq (and making “The facts fit the policy” according to Downing Street Memos)
  • He timed the fearmongering about Iraq to strengthen the Republican majority for the 2002, in other words, he picked the time for this war for political gain.
  • Meanwhile, he was busy running up the biggest deficit in history and all but bankrupting the country. He’s spent more than any “tax and spend” liberal who’s come before, and has yet to veto a single spending bill.
  • He lies constantly. His lies are too many to even begin to list, but this President has an amazing capacity for doublespeak. Black is white, up is down, war is peace, ignorance is strength and freedom is slavery.
  • He lied and misled about *everything* regarding Iraq in the run up to the war, from WMD’s to terrorist links and its relationship to 9/11. Nothing he told the American people about this war turned out to be true.
  • When he was called on one of his lies (in the State of the Union no less), his Administration (with his knowledge) revealed the identity of an active undercover CIA agent payback, jeopardizing national security for political payback.
  • Despite his pledge to fire anyone involved with the leak (which he authorized) and get to the bottom of it (guess he never thought to just ask Rove, Cheney, or Libby about it), no one has yet been fired over it. Scooter Libby did resign upon being indicted for perjury though and the investigation is still ongoing.
  • In March 2003 he launched a “pre-emptive” war against Iraq to stop Saddam from giving WMD’s he didn’t have to terrorists he didn’t know, without any meaningful international support for the action.
  • “Mission Accomplished”
  • He ignored any generals who told him there weren’t enough troops or that the troops didn’t have the right equipment. As Rumsfeld said so eloquently, they went to war with “The army you have, not the army you wish you have”
  • In the chaos that followed Saddam’s downfall, poor planning led to widespread looting an anarchy. But the oil fields were well defended.
  • Years later, Iraq’s infrastructure still isn’t where it was at the time of the invasion, and Halliburton and other contractors haven’t been asked to account billions of missing dollars.
  • An insurgency grew and the country has descended into a sectarian civil war. Our troops are stuck in a quagmire with no exit plan. Iraq has become Vietnam II.
  • But… “Bring em on”
  • He’s held Jose Padilla, an American citizen, in blatant violation of his fifth and sixth amendment rights.
  • He’s also holding prisoners in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without charges being brought against them, or attorneys, or any of those other rights we’re supposedly fighting for.
  • His Administration formed a policy of torture (and then made the guy who wrote the torture memor Attorney General) with no regard for human rights, which led to Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay abuses, to say this least. This has resulted in irreperable damage to the war effort, our image abroad, and human rights in general.
  • In continuing to be a whore for the religious right, he backed a constitutional amendment to enshrine bigotry against gays into the constitution.
  • Meanwhile, North Korea was allowed to develop nuclear weapons and test fire missiles (basically doing all the stuff Bush falsely accused Saddam of being guilty of.)
  • But he can’t recall a single mistake he ever made, aside from trading Sammy Sosa.
  • He wins re-election by the slimmest margin ever for an incumbant president (and with questionable goings on in Ohio), he declares he has a “mandate” to continue his policies.
  • I’m not even sure why he wanted re-election, as being President is such “hard work”.
  • He tries and fails to destroy social security.
  • The economy is a mess. The war is a disaster. Everything’s going to hell. But somehow, Bush finds the time to bust through the record for most days spent on vacation by any President, with three years to spare. In fact, 20% of his time in office was spent on vacation.
  • His Administration blatantly and (likely illegally) paid for outright propoganda. And hello, Jeff Gannon?
  • Vacationing for him is so critical, he doesn’t want to cut it short to deal with Hurricane Katrina. Neither does the rest of his Administration for that matter. Condeleeza Rice, for example, was shoe shopping in NYC as the city of New Orleans was being destroyed.
  • He says “No one could have predicted the levies would break”. He was told, two days before they broke, that the levies were likely to break.
  • But “Brownie” did a “Heckuva job” dealing with the disaster.
  • The event revealed just how widespread cronyism is within his Administration. As if Michael Brown wasn’t enough proof of that, he then tried to nominate Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court.
  • All the while, Bush has embarked on a frightening power grabs for the executive branch, offering legal justifications for many actions that amount to dictatorial powers. (Or as Nixon would say, “When the President does it, it’s not illegal”)
  • He used the NSA to track and tap domestic phone calls without warrants, congressional approval, or judicial oversight.
  • He’s the financial transactions of Americans, again without warrants or the involvement of other branches of government.
  • He’d wanted to hand over our ports to the UAE, before public pressure forced a flip flop on that.
  • Oh yeah, and he’s also been up to his neck in one of the most corrupt congresses in history; he’s good friends with Tom Delay and Jack Abromoff (and Ken Lay, for that matter).
  • But at least the War on Porn is going well. Even in the midst of a post-9/11 “War on Terror”, the Justice department has found the time to go after the real danger to the American people: consensual sex.
  • And he’s making progress in the War on Science – not only does he continue to not do anything about global warming, he’s had a habit of censoring and editing scientific reports since the beginning of his Administration.

Now, to be fair, I think you can make the case that there are instances of President’s doing stuff worse than some of the stuff above. But I don’t think there’s any that can compare for the sheer volume of incompetence and corruption that we’ve seen in the last six years. But, maybe I’m not giving him a fair shake. At least he never got a blow job.

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New Jersey seeks to eliminate the best part of living in this state

January 9, 2007

Up until now, we’ve been the only state in the union that constitutionally bars idiots from voting. Now Governor Codey wants to change that:

New Jersey is to consider cutting the word ‘idiot’ from its constitution so that people with some mental disabilities won’t be barred from voting. State Senate President Richard Codey introduced a bill Monday that would remove language from the New Jersey constitution that was designed more than 150 years ago to prevent people suffering from mental illness or handicap from casting their vote in national, state or local elections.

Codey wants to eliminate a section that says “no idiot or insane person should enjoy the right of suffrage” and substitute with a reference to “a person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting.”

Codey, a Democrat who was previously acting governor of New Jersey, said in a statement the term “idiot” is “outdated, vague, offensive to many and may be subject to misinterpretation.”

Bloody hell. The world needs less idiots voting, not more. It’s a shame to see New Jersey backsliding on this.

Proof: Republicans have no sense of irony

January 9, 2007

From Overhead in New York:

Middle-aged Long Island lady thumbing through magazine: Look, there’s Stephen Colbert.
Husband: Who’s that?
Middle-aged Long Island lady: He’s a terrific Republican reporter on TV. You should watch him. He’s really great. Puts the liberals in their place.

The most sickening part of the Iraq war

December 5, 2006

War profiteering:

There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military’s first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield.

[…]

It is also 10 times the estimated number of contractors that deployed during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, reflecting the Pentagon’s growing post-Cold War reliance on contractors for such jobs as providing security, interrogating prisoners, cooking meals, fixing equipment and constructing bases that were once reserved for soldiers.

[…]

In addition to about 140,000 U.S. troops, Iraq is now filled with a hodgepodge of contractors. DynCorp International has about 1,500 employees in Iraq, including about 700 helping train the police force. Blackwater USA has more than 1,000 employees in the country, most of them providing private security. Kellogg, Brown and Root, one of the largest contractors in Iraq, said it does not delineate its workforce by country but that it has more than 50,000 employees and subcontractors working in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. MPRI, a unit of L-3 Communications, has about 500 employees working on 12 contracts, including providing mentors to the Iraqi Defense Ministry for strategic planning, budgeting and establishing its public affairs office. Titan, another L-3 division, has 6,500 linguists in the country.

Translation – there are now over 100,000 individuals representing dozens of corporations in Iraq, there for no other purpose than to make money for themselves and their shareholders. Seriously, that just makes me sick to my gut.

Solution: initiate a draft, and start with military contractors. Not only would it mean the extra 100,000+ troops we’ve needed since before the war began, but think of the bundle we’d save paying these people soldier’s salaries instead of contractor salaries!

The Corporation released free on Bittorrent

November 24, 2006

If there’s any of you out there who haven’t seen this film already, now you have no excuse.

Midterms 2006: Wisdom of the crowds, or something else?

November 9, 2006

The Democrats did it. Those crazy sons of bitches actually did it. Right now, the Democrats look to have gained control of the Senate in addition to their victory in the House. Wow. I really can’t get over just how stunning a victory it is – this seemed beyond impossible not all that long ago.

Like many others, I’m thrilled about it – not because I’m a great fan of the Democrats (I’m not), but because I hope it will bring back some semblance of balance and accountability to the federal government.

The results are almost enough to restore my faith in this country and democracy itself. Almost. Because while it’s easy to look at this and say “democracy finally worked”, I look at these results and wonder if that’s really what happened.

Just take a look at the Senate races in Virginia and Montana – the Democrats barely squeaked by in both (and a recount may yet happen in Virginia). They won by less than a third of a percent in both states – in absolute terms, that’s just a few thousand votes.

What would it have taken to sway either of those elections? It’s not difficult to imagine that bad weather in a heavily Democratic district that would have suppressed turnout (or conversely, there’s no way of knowing that that didn’t happen to a Republican district). Or any combination of other factors that could have led to a difference of 8,000 votes that have nothing to do with politics – heavy traffic, e-voting glitches, variations in either voter suppression tactics or get out the vote efforts.

In other words, it seems to me that chance had as much to do with the final result as anything else. It was a coin flip.

I’m usually a big proponent of using network effects and the wisdom of the crowds to discern signal from noise, but I don’t think that our electoral process has precision down to a fraction of a percent. The crowds didn’t speak clearly at all this past election, certainly not in Virginia.

On the other hand, it’s notable that almost every close race broke for the Democrats, which does point to something more than chance going on, so maybe I’m completely off base here.

But then again, if the crowds were really wise they’d have booted both these parties out, in their entirety, a long long time ago.

Thoughts on the election results

November 8, 2006

This is perhaps the most significant story to come out of yesterday’s election, although it’s one that will likely get overlooked amongst the other more obvious implications of yesterday’s results.

Young voter turnout in a set of targeted precincts increased by an average of 50% over the 2002 election, and by as much as 111% in some precincts, according to an Election Night analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), continuing a national trend of growing young voter participation that began in the 2004 election.

I’m waiting a little bit to see what the final analysis yields, but my gut says that this is the first wave of the internet generation. This turnout was driven by unprecedented ease of political engagement and access to information. And I’ll wager that for this generation, it all came from MySpace, Facebook, the blogosphere, YouTube and Google. I’ll also wager none watch CNN or listen to AM radio.

At the risk of overstatement: Politics just returned to the people.

Journalism at its finest

October 19, 2006

The New York Times (“All the news that’s fit to print”) broke a shocking story today: Some women use Halloween as an opportunity to dress like sluts. I know, I’m shocked too.

Does anyone else miss the days when the newsmedia actually set out to educate and inform the electorate, instead of printing stories about the bleedingly obvious as an excuse to print this picture alongside it?

 

One ring to rule them all

October 18, 2006

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum [Senator, R-PA] said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

Link

I saw this yesterday and I just thought it was yet another dumb thing to come out of Rick Santorum’s mouth. But then I started thinking more about the analogy, and strangely, it fits (most notably, I can’t get the image of Karl Rove as Wormtongue out of my head now). Santorum is just drawing the wrong comparisons.

The eye is more like “public attention”, with Iraq being the siege on the gates of Mordor, to distract Sauron from the One Ring, AKA, Dick Cheney’s Precious (oil).

Alright, so maybe it’s not a good analogy and it really was nothing more than a stupid thing for Santorum to say (thankfully, he’ll be out of the Senate in a couple of weeks). Still, it’s fun to cast the Bush Administration as Lord of the Rings characters. Bush does strike me as having Gollum-like qualities, and it’s easy to see Rice and Rumsfeld as Nazgul, with Cheney being the Witch-King. The religious right would be the orcs. Not sure who’d get to play the role of Sarumon though…

Mark Warner decides not to run in ‘08

October 12, 2006

It’s a damn shame; for a long while I’ve thought he was the Democrats best candidate for the next election. The most frustrating part is the reason he gave for the decision.

I have decided not to run for President.

This past weekend, my family and I went to Connecticut to celebrate my Dad’s 81st birthday, and then we took my oldest daughter Madison to start looking at colleges.

I know these moments are never going to come again. This weekend made clear what I’d been thinking about for many weeks—that while politically this appears to be the right time for me to take the plunge—at this point, I want to have a real life.

And while the chance may never come again, I shouldn’t move forward unless I’m willing to put everything else in my life on the back burner.

Who was it that said “The best men don’t get into politics”? It’s a bloody shame that the people with exactly the right attitude are excluded from the Presidency because of it.

As far as 2008 goes… if it’s another contest between slimeballs I’m moving to Canada.

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