Democrats & Liberals Archives

December 2006 Archives

December 31, 2006

Might 2008 Reflect 1976?

Before heading out for my New Year's Party, I feel compelled to comment on some reflections born by this week's passing of Gerald Ford. 1976 was the first year that I was old enough to vote. I voted enthusiastically for Carter, but without any animosity toward the incumbent. Truly two very fine individuals were vying for the highest office in the land. Tonight I have some hope that 2008 may bring another election for which that may once again be true.

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December 30, 2006

The Egalitarian Ideal

Is egalitarianism an unattainable, and thus naive, pointless abstraction, or is it a principle central to the American ideal? Politics always involves an interplay between philosophical abstractions and pragmatic concessions to reality. That is as it should be. We err terribly if a recognition of non-attainability leads to the abandonment of ideals.

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December 29, 2006

Freedom of Religion: America's Gift to the World

I believe that of all the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion stands out as the most important. Freedom of religion is why our Founders fought the Revolutionary War, and why so many of our ancestors fled Europe, Africa and Asia to come to our shores. Some, like Hispanics, came for economic reasons.

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December 28, 2006

More Troops Finally... To What End?

Surging troops. That's what we're hearing nowadays. While I have long advocated raising the number of troops, I've never been one to shy away from the hard reality of the problems involved in bulking up our forces, which is why I've also advocated force increases and a possible draft to go along with that. My record is clear, and I have little reason not to stand by it. However, Bush's approach, his impending increase of soldiers, brings problems.

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Number-One Syndrome

Do you have a neighbor who thinks he is God's gift to the rest of us? In school, he was the smartest. In business, he makes the best product, for the best price at the greatest profit. His employees adore him. His kids, he tells you, are the best behaved and smarter than all the other kids on the block. Whatever he believes is right. Whatever he does is good. He is perfect.

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December 27, 2006

Turning-the-Tide Strategy

Exit strategy? Yes, we need to get out of Iraq, but no, we do not want an exit strategy, which implicates us as losers, thus emboldening terrorist groups. How do we get out of Iraq not as victors - an impossibility at this point - but in a manner that puts America in a positive light in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East? With a turning-the-tide strategy that starts with a Middle East Conference.

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December 26, 2006

Campaign for Understanding

It's not a "war on terror." We're not fighting a "war," and we're not trying to destroy "terror." Wars are fought between nations and not between a nation and "terror," or even "terrorists." Furthermore, by emphasizing "war" and "terror" we disguise our real intention, which is to produce a world where countries live in harmony with each other. Instead of a "war on terror," let's call it a "campaign for understanding."

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Are the Pakistanis Serious or Just Going Through the Motions?

Probably just going through the motions. The world is a little more complicated than the neo-cons understand.

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December 25, 2006

Some Things Dubya May Be Right About

In the spirit of the season, I offer a couple of contentious issues our much maligned President may actually be (gulp) kinda sorta right about.

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December 24, 2006

Is It Always Darkest Before the Dawn?

There maybe one small ray of hope in Iraq.

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December 22, 2006

Swine Diaries VI: What we wanted to tell you about Iran

So much for an open government; Bush and his henchmen have clamped down on the media once again. According to this published report (link), an OP/ED piece was stopped by the White House and its authors were threatened with criminal prosecution after the CIA edited and blacked out a chunks of its content.

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Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

It does not take a special kind of person to be an American, but being an American lets you grow into a special kind of person. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, and the two are not unrelated. In a little over a weak, Keith Ellison will be sworn in as the first Muslim Representative. In his ceremonial swearing in, he will have his hand on the Quran. This man share a religion with one of our enemies. But why should that scare us?

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December 21, 2006

The Balm of Obama

Obama's name is booming around the country. His impact grows as he writes, speaks and appears on talk shows. He is a rare political phenomenon, complimented by both Republican and Democratic leaders and pundits. The main objection to his running for president seems to be his lack of experience. Now I read that Michael Tomasky, the brilliant editor at large of the American Prospect, thinks that now is the best time for Senator Barack Obama to run.

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December 20, 2006

Bigger Military or Better Strategy

Our commander-in-chief says that we need a bigger military in order to win the "war on terror," which will be a long war. Maybe we do need more troops to fight in various areas of the world. But what we need more than troops is a way to win the hearts and minds of Muslims and others who hate us. Instead of beefing up the Department of Defense, we should beef up the Department of State so that we may talk, discuss, negotiate, run conferences and help faltering states.

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Finally, Some Spending Cuts

In their final act as the majority Party, Republicans decided to do nothing about a whole bunch of spending bills. Some speculate they didn't want to associate the Republican Party with a last massive bout of earmarking and pork barrel projects. Others believe they wanted to saddle incoming Democrats with the task to derail their legislative agenda. Either way, the most do-nothing of do-nothing Republican Congresses went out with a whimper -- and the incoming Democrats took the lemons and made lemonade.

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December 19, 2006

Foolish Fear

Two years from now, terrorists under the banner of the "Progressive Restoration" will take over Manhattan in a larger attempt to overthrow the government. Thirteen years later, President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore will haul out the good White House china for Osama bin Laden's state visit.
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Hardliners Having Hard Times

Some of the more rabid Republicans and right-wingers accuse Democrats of wanting to cozy up to Ahmedinejad, since we advocate more negotiation and things like that. That's really not the case, as most people on the left know, and the moderates on the right acknowledge. Democrats want to ease tensions with the people of Iran, and would be glad to see obstacles to the easing of these tensions go, President Ahmedinejad being one of them.

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December 17, 2006

Defending 'Our Way of Life'

After the horrendous events of September 11, 2001, George Bush claimed that the "terrorists" attacked us because of "our way of life." In justifying the Gulf War I, George W. Bush also claimed we were defending "our way of life." Launching the "war of terrorism" (which embraces both Afghanistan and Iraq) was to protect "our way of life." In Donald Rumsfeld's exit speech, he warns the world that the U.S. is not reluctant "to defend our way of life." I would really appreciate hearing their idea of "our way of life."

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December 16, 2006

Bush is Tenacious

Do Republicans still think that Iraq is going well and that we just need to stay the course?

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December 14, 2006

The new tool in the war on the 1st amendment: the subpoena

In their maniacal obsession on retaining government secrets, federal prosecutors are using a new tool to make certain government secrets stay secrets and are using federal subpoenas to gather and retain documents. (link)

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December 10, 2006

Iraq, The Study Group, and Bush's 'Stay the Course'

The Iraq Study Group released its report on December 6, 2006. It has generated tremendous commentary and response. Much has been made of the 79 recommendations made in the report. However, one must wonder if they have generated so much support because they present a plan (totally lacking from the Bush administration), or because they have an inherent value in themselves.

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December 7, 2006

"Birds Of A Feather?"

We've heard that old saying, "birds of a feather flock together." When it comes to our alliances with the United Kingdom and Israel most Americans assume we are allies because, well, we just are, we always have been.
Is it Democracy that binds the United States and Israel? Economic strength? Military power?
Could it simply be "Birds of a feather?"

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December 6, 2006

Obama for President

Back in October, I was touting Barack Obama as a great Democratic star. Since then Obama has been shining with beautiful brilliance, a brilliance so great that he seems to put all other Democratic candidates in a deep shadow. I see and appreciate his unifying light. I think he will make a great president, one that will restore this country's luster.

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Habeas Corpus Restored? Maybe...

Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy yesterday introduced the "Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006," to put back the much needed federal court jurisdiction over suspected enemy combatants. (link)

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Working Hours

The Democrats are going to try a radical new approach to labor: The five day work week. Don't we have this already? Well, they're looking to apply this to a different sector in the work force, one that has up to this point worked much different hours the rest of society. If you're still puzzled, I can sympathize. It makes better sense when you find out who I'm talking about here.

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December 5, 2006

Heckling Pelosi

There is a new pastime for journalists: heckling Pelosi. Since the Democrats won the election and it became clear that Nancy Pelosi was going to be the new Speaker of the House, she has been heckled mercilessly. I can understand why Republicans do this. But why on earth should Democrats, who have been in the wilderness for a long time, knock, denigrate and set obstacles in the path of their newly elected leader? Why?

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December 4, 2006

New Era of Sustainable Energy

On Sunday, I read an interesting article titled "Rebuilding the Middle Class," by Joel Kotkin and David Friedman, in which they say that we can gain good jobs and thereby resurrect the Middle Class, through a big project of rebuilding our decaying infrastructure. This set me thinking that maybe we need more than a renovated infrastructure. We need a redesigned infrastructure to accommodate the coming new era of sustainable energy.

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December 3, 2006

Automated Targeting meets Minority Report

First there was the credit score, something to prove to lending organizations you're worthy of the debt. Then CLUE, a score by which insurance companies decide whether or not a person is insurable. Now we have Automated Targeting System or ATS that the government uses to determine whether or not you are travel-worthy.

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Rated E for Environmentalism

Things were simpler when I was a kid. When it came to movies, parents just had to worry about their kids being exposed to nudity, foul language, and violence. "Mom, can I see Conan the Barbarian?" "No way, that Austrian muscleman is a bad influence!"

Now parents have to worry about a whole new threat: unlabeled environmental content.

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December 1, 2006

Switching Off Free Speech

The most important ideal of America is free speech. Free speech is promised us in the first amendment in the Bill of Rights. All Americans, whether they be Democrats, Republicans, members of any other political party, or completely independent of any party, are in favor of free speech. Free speech is part of America's DNA. And yet, here comes Newt Gingrich telling us that sometimes we need to switch off free speech!

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War In Context

It is altogether necessary to view such complex actions as the waging of a war in context, not merely as ideas or elements of psychology. We can fool ourselves that everything centers on morale and a continually favorable opinion of the war, or we can recognize that the conduct of a war can feed into people's opinion of it, and that it is foolish to focus on issues of morale and public opinion when basic issues of waging the war are neglected.

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Ned Lamont Was Mainstream

Joe Lieberman won fair and square, and deserves congratulations. There is a group of people who deserve a raspberry, though: The journalists and pundits who described Ned Lamont's position on Iraq as extremist.

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