Democrats & Liberals Archives

January 2006 Archives

January 31, 2006

Compassion for the Dying

Certainly it is essential that Supreme Court justices know the law and the Constitution, but isn't it just as essential that they be compassionate and knowledgeable about the human condition? With Samuel Alito's confirmation all but finalized today, I have serious doubts about his qualifications in that regard. It's been little over a week since the compassionate position won, albeit with legalistic reasoning, in overturning Ashcroft's specious challenge to Oregon voters' initiative-based law allowing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to their suffering terminally ill patients.

» Continue reading "Compassion for the Dying"

January 30, 2006

More Domestic Surveillance... Look up!

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a 300 nautical mile (NM) temporary flight restriction (TFR) bordering the United States and Mexico, specifically above the states of New Mexico and Arizona. The TFR affects a 2,000 foot segment of the airspace for a range of 300 NM, between 12,000 and 14,000 foot, mean sea level (MSL). Furthermore, the TFR is only in effect from 5PM until 7AM daily.

Simply stated, all aircraft are prohibited to fly between 12,000 and 14,000 feet in this specified area.

Why?

» Continue reading "More Domestic Surveillance... Look up!"

A Matter of National Security

Apparently hurricane Katrina is a member of Al Quaeda. Why else would President Bush and his administration not release documents regarding the White House response to the storm? Why would this administration stonewall the investigation into the federal response to a natural disaster?

» Continue reading "A Matter of National Security"

GOP At The Crossroads

Every week we hear of yet another Republican Congressman arrested, indicted, or under investigation. My own Congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, will spend a few years in jail, documents just surfaced that implicate Congressman John Doolittle (R-Ca.) in a money-for-influence scam, and let's not forget Congressman DeLay's indictment for money laundering. In fact, House Republicans will gather this Thursday to elect Tom DeLay's successor.

» Continue reading "GOP At The Crossroads"

January 29, 2006

The Strength and Weakness of Stubborn Despair

The complicating factor in any discussion of pessimism is that most people are looking at things subjectively. This is natural. Your first thoughts and actions are most influenced by the world your mind binds together from the internal and external information it gets. Information outside of its proper context lacks the influence on our rational minds that properly situated information does.

» Continue reading "The Strength and Weakness of Stubborn Despair"

January 27, 2006

Hurray For Democracy!

Although the press and the Bush administration are treating Hamas' crushing victory in Palestine as a surprise, you, my dear loyal readers, saw this coming a mile away because I've been predicting it for a year now. Sometimes I hate always being right.

» Continue reading "Hurray For Democracy!"

January 26, 2006

"The past is dead, the future was unimaginable": 1984 revisited.

On Thursday, January 26, 2006, George Bush stated categorically that
"The program's legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties, and it's necessary." Of course he's referring to a program that's designed to listen to American citizen's private communications. So I'm intrigued to understand the rationale behind this unique logic.

» Continue reading ""The past is dead, the future was unimaginable": 1984 revisited."

January 25, 2006

Band of Brothers

A smear campaign is a tactic of desperation. Whether the rhetoric is utilized to discredit or to distract, it is always used in place of substance. Sometimes it is successful; sometimes it backfires. While all of this ignorant chatter is annoying, there is one trend that is very troubling. The politically motivated attacks on war heroes, also called 'swift boating.'

» Continue reading "Band of Brothers"

January 24, 2006

New Rule: Anonymous Internet Bile Doesn't Count

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that you were in a public restroom and found that someone had written: I'M A REPUBLICAN AND I LIKE TO $#% #%$#$. Would you conclude that Republicans are vulgar vandals who like to engage in unnatural acts? Of course not. But political pundits do something similar all of the time, and it drives me up the wall. The latest offender is Charlie Cook.

» Continue reading "New Rule: Anonymous Internet Bile Doesn't Count"

Fumigating Congress

Our repugnant Republican Congressional Culture of Corruption needs repair. Currently recommended fixes - itty bitty stuff - will not produce a long-term difference. However, James Carville and Paul Begala, in their book "Take It Back," recommend a strong prescription that I think will do the job. Here are the major planks in their proposal:

» Continue reading "Fumigating Congress"

Right vs. Wrong Not Right vs. Left

"The head of a European investigation into alleged CIA secret prisons in Europe said Tuesday there was evidence the United States outsourced torture to other countries and it was likely European governments knew about it."
"There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture," Marty said in a report presented to the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog investigating the alleged secret prisons.

» Continue reading "Right vs. Wrong Not Right vs. Left"

January 23, 2006

Progressive Patriotism

"Take It Back" is a new book by James Carville and Paul Begala that offers a prescription to Democrats on how to take back the country from the immoral (or phony moral), corrupt, militaristic and selfish Republicans. Theirs is a regressive patriotism that reduces freedoms, restricts choices, hounds dissidents and separates citizen from citizen. Democrats must develop a spine and fight Republicans with a message that demonstrates they are for progressive patriotism: champion freedoms, offer citizen choices, encourage dissident action and work for the common good of all citizens.

» Continue reading "Progressive Patriotism"

Iraq Expectations Lowered, Again

In 2003, President Bush vowed to help Iraqis erect a beacon of liberty and democratic ideals in a dark, despotic region. He solemnly pledged to the people of Iraq that their roads and water supply, police and justice system, oil facilities and hospitals, schools and energy infrastructure, and their economy and standard of living would be "the best in the region."

» Continue reading "Iraq Expectations Lowered, Again"

The M-Street Project

The People are the rightful owners of the United States, and we employ the government. Why are we allowing our employees to take over the country and sell it off on the K-Street auction block? How many corporations would idly stand by while their employees staged a hostile takeover and liquidation right before their eyes?

» Continue reading "The M-Street Project"

January 22, 2006

Some Lessons from Freakonomics

Just wanted to share some provocative claims from the bestselling book Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. The authors do a good job of alternately pleasing and offending just about everybody.

» Continue reading "Some Lessons from Freakonomics"

January 21, 2006

Chile's Remarkable -yet little remarked- Election

Socialist! Agnostic! Ex-prisoner!

It's unthinkable in these United States that such terms might apply to the President elect. And yet exactly that is true in the socially conservative nation of Chile along the southern spine of South America. Do you think this represents a radical backlash against the authoritarian rightist past of strongman Pinochet? Think again, president-elect Bachelet is hardly radical in spite of those opening adjectives.

» Continue reading "Chile's Remarkable -yet little remarked- Election"

January 20, 2006

Searching for the Elephant

The Justice Department is searching for an elephant. It has issued subpoenas to companies running search engines on the Internet. Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL submitted a week's worth of millions of all sorts of queries by all sorts of people. They claim they did not betray anyone's privacy. Google did not and is fighting the subpoena. It feels that people's privacy will eventually be shredded if it submitted to the subpoena. And what do you suppose is the elephant?

» Continue reading "Searching for the Elephant"

January 19, 2006

Republican "Reform"

In 1994 Newt Gingrich swept aside Democratic leaders in the House and ushered in a decade of "reform." He started a campaign to make "liberal" a dirty word, to reduce the power of the media by calling it the "liberal media," and to build a symbiotic relationship between Republican legislators and business lobbyists on K Street in Washington, D.C. With the aid of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Bush administration has developed this "reform" to such loftiness that the Republican Party is now looking desperately for a new means of "reform."

» Continue reading "Republican "Reform""

The Bush Administration Evaluation

When it comes to performance evaluation of our leaders, it is only common sense that we weigh the positives and negatives of their overall job performance along with that persons ability to use a common sense cost benefit approach in their decision making. They must have the ability to handle the many different tasks that need to be performed for a large number of people with such diverse socio-economic needs as we have in the United States and abroad.

» Continue reading "The Bush Administration Evaluation"

January 18, 2006

Barr and Gore Together

"Congressman Barr" were the first 2 words uttered by Al Gore in his speech at Constitution Hall where he criticized Bush for seizing powers he does not have under the Constitution. Gore excoriated the president for acting as though he is above the law. Yes, Gore is a Democrat who lost the presidency to George W. Bush. Bob Barr, however, is a Republican, a solid conservative who led the Bill-Clinton-impeachment battle. Yet, both Barr and Gore, a Democrat and a Republican, are together in defending our Constitution against Bush's assault on it.

» Continue reading "Barr and Gore Together"

January 17, 2006

If Pulling Out is Defeat...

If pulling out is defeat, then the Bush administration wanted defeat from the start. Many of the problems that the Bush administration has had in this war, in terms of reconstruction, democratizing Iraq, preventing and facing insurrection, all come out of one basic decision that was made at the start: The Bush Administration planned to start withdrawing from Iraq in August of 2003.

» Continue reading "If Pulling Out is Defeat..."

January 16, 2006

Fight Iran with Friendship

After long negotiations with Iran, the Europeans declared an end. They and the U.S. submitted the issue of the Iranian nuclear program to the Security Council. It is expected that some form of sanctions will be proposed. As with Iraq, this seems to be the start of a bitter confrontation that may lead to military action. We should learn from our experiences with Iraq that confrontation is not the best policy. Maybe we should fight Iran with friendship.

» Continue reading "Fight Iran with Friendship"

The Delights of Derivation

Think of all the things you don't know. Sit in the middle of a room with hundreds of people, each of whom have their lives, their histories, their secrets and their common links with you. Most of the time, doing that, you would hardly think of all that meaningful information around you. You would coast on by, absorbed into your own life.

Much complexity hides behind the surfaces of everyday life. We live in two worlds: the one inside our head, and the one outside, and it's getting those two to usefully correspond that is the challenge of our lives.

» Continue reading "The Delights of Derivation"

January 15, 2006

The Right Way, This Time

All isn't doom and gloom in the Bush administration. Sure there're the financial scandals, treasonous betrayals of CIA agents, illegal spying on American citizens, bungled hurricane relief efforts, failed Supreme Court nominations, botched opportunities to eliminate bin Laden, and the omnipresent mess in Iraq, but there's also some wonderful progress being made to foil Iran's nuclear ambitions.

» Continue reading "The Right Way, This Time"

January 13, 2006

Corruption of "Advise and Consent"

Samuel Alito was questioned by Senators for 18 hours and he answered every question but committed himself to nothing. Republicans tout this as a sign of legal genius and as one more reason to confirm Alito. I believe that Alito's outrageous performance shows contempt for the Senate. He and the Republicans who tutored him in the "speak-and-say-nothing" method of winning confirmation have made a mockery of the "advise and consent" process for judicial nominations. They have corrupted the confirmation process just as they have corrupted the legislation process.

» Continue reading "Corruption of "Advise and Consent""

A government broken: How things have stopped working

During the recent Alito confirmation hearings, if anyone watched (according to Bill O'Reilly, the ratings were down for the hearings) they would have noticed the modern version of democracy in all of its twisted, deformed and mangled mess, was flushed down the toilet.

Instead of a government of the people by the people. We saw a government of the party by the party.

» Continue reading "A government broken: How things have stopped working"

Our Trustworthy Administration

After years of distrust, I've come to realize that I now trust the Bush Administration.

In the aftermath of September 11, I was pleased with the initial measured rhetoric from Bush, but as a liberal Democrat, I distrusted him a bit. Still, in that brief window I could count myself among the 90% of Americans who approved of his job. The shock of a common enemy indeed brought us all together, and I agreed with much of the rhetoric I heard, in spite of retaining an element of distrust.

Increasingly though, since that time, Bush has earned lots of trust:

» Continue reading "Our Trustworthy Administration"

From the Past; The Fuel of the Future

Innovation is defined as the conversion of knowledge and ideas into a benefit, which may be for commercial use or for the public good. A great American innovator, Henry Ford, designed his Model T Ford to run on alcohol; he said it was "the fuel of the future". While many of his innovations in the auto industry took off, his "fuel of the future" has taken quite a bit longer.

» Continue reading "From the Past; The Fuel of the Future"

January 11, 2006

King George Bush Speaks

King George Bush speaks. He gives advice to both Iraqis and Americans. The two messages are very different. To the Iraqis he says they should get together and compromise for the common good of all Iraqis. To the Americans he says that some - no doubt, Democrats - who criticize him are irresponsible. In the case of Iraq, Bush is trying to unite them. In the case of America, he is trying to divide them.

» Continue reading "King George Bush Speaks"

New Stockholm Syndrome?

Stockholm is adopting a fee aimed at reducing traffic congestion. By charging those entering and leaving the core of the city, Stockholm hopes to reduce traffic jams costing the city between $780 million and $1 billion a year. The current fee structure maxes out at $7.50, which is barely half of what cities like London charge for a similar plan.

» Continue reading "New Stockholm Syndrome?"

Posted by Vihar Sheth at 1:43 PM

January 10, 2006

Alito, a Janus Republican

Janus is the mythological God after which January was named. Janus had 2 heads one facing the past, the other facing the future. Bush Republicans also have 2 heads or faces: one when addressing the public, the other when conversing with fellow Republicans. A fellow Janus Republican is Samuel Alito. He has one story when working with Republicans. He presents an entirely different story when facing the public, as he is today in the judicial hearings about his Supreme Court nomination.

» Continue reading "Alito, a Janus Republican"

January 9, 2006

The Corruption is Purely Republican

In my post yesterday I said that the corruption scandal brought about by Abramoff turning state's evidence would involve Democrats as well as Republicans. This is what usually happens and this is what the media led me to believe. But it is not true. Abramoff did not give even one penny to Democrats. With hindsight it makes sense. Why should he give money to Democratic legislators when the Republicans have stripped Democrats of all power and he, Abramoff, was a big instrument in bringing K-Street lobbyists into the Republican fold?

» Continue reading "The Corruption is Purely Republican"

Support Our Troops

"Better body armor could have prevented or limited about 80 percent of fatal torso wounds suffered by Marines killed in Iraq, a report by U.S. military medical experts obtained on Friday said."
I'm not one to question the Federal Government or the Pentagon(maybe once or twice) but wasn't this very issue raised two years ago?
I would have sworn the White House, two years ago, assured critics and the outraged families of our military men and women that this situation would be rectified.

» Continue reading "Support Our Troops"

January 6, 2006

Holy Corruption!

Jack Abramoff decided to sing about his Republican (also Democratic) corrupters-in-arms in Congress and the Executive. Sensing a calamity, Republican leaders of this Republican-saturated government are telling all of us that Democrats are just as corrupt and that Republicans will clean up the system. Sure, both Democrats and Republicans seeking power are subject to the human failing of falling into the tentacles of temptation. But with Republicans, especially the super-religious, who are now ascendant in the party, they believe they are doing the right thing. If you're doing "God's will," why worry about man-made law? Holy corruption!

» Continue reading "Holy Corruption!"

Legal or not: Who really wins when Roe vs. Wade is overturned

With the upcoming Supreme Court justice nomination hearings beginning soon, the debate over abortion and abortion rights will, rightfully so, come to the forefront of the many, many discussions across this nation.

At issue will be Alito's judicial opinion of satisfied precedent with regards to Roe vs. Wade. Although Alito's prior writings suggest a significant pro-life leaning with opinions supporting the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, his judicial opinions are not widely known.

» Continue reading "Legal or not: Who really wins when Roe vs. Wade is overturned"

Cough On This

I subscribe to the Sierra Club's e-newsletter, RAW: uncooked truth, beyond belief, and was a little disheartened to find a disturbing but not altogether surprising story by Megan Lewis on the forgotten heroes of 9/11. She begins with this heroic description:

» Continue reading "Cough On This"

What Does Andrea Mitchell Know That She's Not Telling Us?

What is Andrea Mitchell, of NBC news, trying to tell us about the NSA domestic spying program? During an interview with New York Times reporter James Risen, who broke the story, Mitchell asks a rather peculiar question.

» Continue reading "What Does Andrea Mitchell Know That She's Not Telling Us?"

January 5, 2006

Liberty And Responsibility

When Patrick Henry exclaimed, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" he wasn't just smokin' crack. That phrase summed up the spirit of America and for more than two hundred years we've faithfully kept our freedom from tyranny and unbestowed authority. Then came 9/11.

» Continue reading "Liberty And Responsibility"

January 4, 2006

A Universal Healthcare Compromise

Both conservatives and liberals agree that our current healthcare system is a mess. They disagree on the merits of possible solutions. Conservatives want to shift resposibility and costs directly to each individual, while liberals want the government to shoulder the task of providing healthcare to all Americans. I propose a compromise of a Universal Healthcare System that has both conservative and liberal elements.

» Continue reading "A Universal Healthcare Compromise"

January 3, 2006

Bush: Democracy, Democracy Everywhere

President George W. Bush wants to spread democracy in the Middle East and everywhere. In order to do this he asks that we be belligerent everywhere, use torture everywhere and spy everywhere - even on you in your home, without a warrant. To increase democracy everywhere, Bush wants to decrease democracy here at home. He wants to boost his executive power to the point where he is not a president but a king. To become King George Bush, he has nominated Alito, who believes in a stronger executive, to the Supreme Court.

» Continue reading "Bush: Democracy, Democracy Everywhere"

Keeping the water pure: Not all leaks are the same.

"Criticism is prejudice made plausible" - H.L. Mencken

When the White House announced that President Bush formally requested a criminal investigation (link)regarding who leaked, to the New York Times, information about the covert surveillance of American citizens, the line was drawn in the sand about how far and wide this administration will go to stop the story.

» Continue reading "Keeping the water pure: Not all leaks are the same."

Abramoff Is A Symptom Not The Problem

Are we to believe that the United States government is still the same Representative Democracy our forefathers envisioned so many years ago? There are some of us who feel that the United States government is failing to represent those who vote in favor of those who pay for influence.
Those of us who speak out against our corrupt and morally bankrupt government are accused of lacking the patriotic spirit to stand for America during the "War on Terror." We are constantly reminded that 9/11 has changed this nation. The changes that I continue to see have nothing to do with 9/11 or patriotism. The changes being made to this nation are primarily to benefit the wealthy 18% of the citizens of the United States and to usurp the rights, financial stability and civil liberties of the people who do not fall into that category.
Our government has become a tool for large corporations who disregard environmental and social issues in favor of their bottom line.


» Continue reading "Abramoff Is A Symptom Not The Problem"

“Price Check on America’s Communities, Aisle Three Hundred and Sixteen”

At one of my holiday get-togethers a diversified but simultaneously homogenous group (varying opinions and backgrounds but a similar demographic) of people got into over all that is and isn't Wal-Mart.

» Continue reading "“Price Check on America’s Communities, Aisle Three Hundred and Sixteen”"

Posted by Vihar Sheth at 11:25 AM

January 2, 2006

The world's greatest "feet-lander".

I can't quite understand how Ahmad Chalabi always seems to land on his feet:

» Continue reading "The world's greatest "feet-lander"."

A Free Conscience, a Gift from Our Founders

Religious extremists claim that our founders planned a "Christian nation" and that we are no longer living up to our religious ideals. This is not so. I present quotations from early presidents James Madison, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Constitution-committee member Oliver Ellsworth and Baptist Minister John Leland. They were eager to give each individual in the U.S. a free religious conscience. To this end they insisted there be no official religion, no religious test for office, we show empathy toward all religions and that there be a wall of separation between church and state.

» Continue reading "A Free Conscience, a Gift from Our Founders"