Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Florida appeals court rules that media can legally lie

In a judgement evocatively and incredibly titled “Court Ruled That Media Can Legally Lie,” Fox News has beaten a plaintiff suing them for demanding that they insert distortive information provided by the Monsanto Corporation in a story the plaintiff wrote about the Monsanto Corporation. The plaintiff reported Fox's demand to the FCC and was fired by Fox in 1997, but won a wrongful termination suit in a Florida court in 2000.

Incredibly enough, the appeals court overturned the verdict, but even more incredibly, this happened in 2003. This didn't make news at the time, and this is disturbing. Why didn't it make news? Maybe the clue lies in the fact that no fewer than five major media companies—Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc.—filed friend of the court briefs in favor of Fox's position. This seems to imply that other major media outlets, though they didn't directly involve themselves in this case, want to protect their right to lie to the public. In the true spirit of capitalism, they apparently wish to reserve the right to make a crappy product and have the market decide what the best product is. But in the true spirit of good government, we need to legislate either standards or labels, letting consumers (or, more to the point, citizens,) make an informed choice in the face of hucksters. Just as I want to know that the food I buy isn't poisonous without having to find out the hard way, I also want to be sure about my media. Lies can be legal, I agree, but they should also be labeled, or else that's libel.

Fox is big on their "fair and balanced" idea. They lead the public to think that that means a balance between the two extremes of the political spectrum. We've always known that that's not accurate at all. Apparently Fox really means a balance between lies and facts, both presented to you for you to make up your mind. Tainted meat, tainted news: what's the difference?

Click here for the whole story, thoroughly laid out for you. I can't say I'm surprised, but that doesn't make me any less appalled.

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Chief Justice Roberts suffers benign seizure

While vacationing in Maine yesterday, Chief Justice John Roberts suffered what doctors are calling a benign seizure, fell about ten feet onto the deck of his boat, and was hospitalized. He's still in the hospital, as of this writing.

This is apparently similar to a seizure that Roberts had in 1993. Roberts is the most recent addition to the Supreme Court and, at age 52, the youngest. Here's a link to the story.

What could this health problem of Roberts' mean? If this affects his tenure on the Supreme Court, it could mean that Bush's partisan court won't turn out to be the reliable tool of the conservative movement that many had anticipated. I'll admit that I wish Roberts were off the Court, but I'm not wishing for his debilitation or death, perish the thought. Still, with a Senate narrowly controlled by Democrats, Bush wouldn't have the same leeway when it comes to ramming through partisan nominees. As head of the Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) may have allowed partisans like Roberts and Alito to win appointment with only token, ineffective scrutiny, but the current head of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), would be far less prone to let Bush's appointees glide through.

So let's all pray that Roberts has a speedy recovery, and that he elects to take care of his health by opting for early retirement.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Ron Paul gets it right: US overthrew Iran in 1953

I admit I find Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) campaign for president interesting, and I think the guy's more sincere than most people who are running for, and who have ever run for, that office. While I don't support him as a candidate, I do respect a lot of what he says.

At the Republican presidential debate, Rep. Paul stated that the United States suffered the blowback from a US-sponsored 1953 coup of the Iranian government which deposed the legitimately elected leader of Iran and reïnstalled the vicious tyrant, Shah Reza Pehlavi, whom we Americans backed. We ousted, with our CIA, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadek, because he believed Iran should control Iranian oil fields, not British and American companies. See the clip below, which splices Rep. Paul's 2007 debate performance with a 1987 PBS documentary:

Rep. Paul is right: we ignore our excesses at our own peril. Instead of the simplistic "Why do they hate us?" question, or the ultra-simplistic "Axis of Evil" sentiment, we need to recognize that our actions have consequences, and if the United States insists on treating foreign nations and nationalities like pawns and property, we're going to suffer blowback. The Bush administration pays no mind to this reality with its foreign policy, which is why every day Bush continues to run the country is another day our foreign policy gets mired deeper in an intractable, ever-bloodier quagmire.

Ron Paul is the only Republican running for president who actually talks sense regarding foreign policy, who actually bothers to look at real issues, searching for real solutions. Mind, since I don't approve of Paul's domestic ideas or of libertarian politics in general, I won't support Paul, either; I instead prefer to back either Barack Obama or John Edwards. But Ron Paul is certainly the best Republican running this year (though, admittedly, that's not saying much.)

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Monday, July 23, 2007

True or Better on hiatus

Due to my being completely engrossed in the new Harry Potter book, as well as my leaving for Cape Cod for a few days, I won't be able to write until it's over, which will be Thursday, July 26, when I return. See you then.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pennsylvania high school student wins case against school district

Looks like my old alma mater has lost a case against one of its students. Apparently this kid made a fake MySpace page making fun of his principal and basically got kicked out of school for it.

Well, what's there to say? Hickory High School overstepped its reach, violating Justin Layshock's Eighth Amendment rights, which protect him from cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU stepped in and did what they do best, which is to defend people's rights from being abused. Bully for them. Now Justin's vindicated. He's also spending the summer in Togo, volunteering at an orphanage. Just the sort of behavior you'd expect from a bad seed who's corrupt beyond correction, isn't it?

I'm a Hickory High graduate, myself. Class of 1987, so I don't think Justin was even born yet when I graduated. Regardless, I remember making fun of Principal "Dopey" Anderson back then. Kids make fun of their authority figures; it's what they do. That probably was inappropriate, too, and if MySpace was around back then, I wouldn't have been surprised if someone made a page about him. Sure, it's juvenile behavior, and he shouldn't have done it. However, Principal Trosch shouldn't be able to ruin some kid's life over a dumb mistake. Where's the message there? What's the kid supposed to learn—any mistake you make will earn you irreversible, inescapable punishment? Wrong message, Mr. Principal!

Kids make mistakes. If Justin had, say, killed someone, that would be different. But this is something he can learn from, and I hope he does. If Principal Trosch thinks that Justin is too rotten a kid to live or deserve a decent and fulfilling life, then he shouldn't resort to petty revenge like expelling him from school, banning him from graduation and blocking college applications and the like. He should send the kid to juvenile hall. (When I lived in the area, the local Juvie Hall was called George Junior. Is it still there? Oi, my age is showing...)

However, a kid with a 3.3 grade point average and who tutors French for middle school students is probably salvageable, though petty, spiteful principals might disagree. Despite the fact that Justin's fake MySpace page played on the fact that Mr. Trosch is a large man, this behavior demonstrates that he is in fact quite small. Thankfully the ACLU is there to balance this man's pettiness.

As an aside, the fact that Hickory students are good enough at French to tutor middle school students testifies to what are obviously the superior talents of Mrs. Leeds, whom I believe still teaches French at my alma mater. Good to see she's still at it; these pleasant results do not surprise me. It's partly because of her that I'm fluent in French today.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A word to conservatives about candidate Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, in a word, leaves me clammy. If she's the nominee, I'll vote for her, but hell, I won't be able to fake enthusiasm that could convince others around me to vote for her, too. I think this is a very common attitude toward her, and it runs counter to the conservative "We just gotta stop Hillary!" meme. She's a likely presidential nominee, sure, but she's hardly the biggest threat to conservatives today. In fact, considering how her nomination would likely throw cold water on downticket Democratic races, I'd think that Republicans are daydreaming about her becoming the Democratic nominee. In fact, I'm sure they are.

I do feel the Republicans don't have any good candidates this time around. Fred Thompson will show to have no clothes soon enough. I liked McCain in 2000, but nowadays, I think most people agree that he'd be an awful president. McCain wouldn't have lost all appeal as a candidate these days if he hadn't challenged the Reagan legacy candidate in the 2000 primaries, but I'll admit, that was part of his appeal for me. If I were old enough, I might be able to call myself a Rockefeller Republican, but I'm not a Republican at all, since the Goldwater/Nixon/Reagan/Bush dominance has soured me on your party beyond reconciliation in the near future. I realize you don't care what I think, but you've really lost me.

What your party's doing to the courts scares the hell out of me, frankly. Until the Republican party is moderated more, I'm not going to be able to vote for a single Republican candidate, no matter how moderate. It makes me sad to see the way things have turned out, but there it is. I'm very disturbed by the way conservative judges are so high on overturning legislatures from the bench. An activist judiciary is a menace to any republic. These are the stakes.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

David Vitter denies prostitution allegations.

After a week of reclusion, Senator David Vitter has come out, his wife at his side, and admitted the culpability lay with... "political enemies." And the media, of course.

Dolchstoss! Some unseen, unnamed enemy clearly made up allegations that Senator Vitter was seeing prostitutes again. So Vitter can pretend he's a victim and can smear potentially anyone who opposes him as part of this nefarious plot to humiliate him. He's not even coming right out and saying the madams in New Orleans and DC are liars (though he's implying it.)

Senator Vitter, who campaigned as the anti-Clinton-getting-blow-jobs candidate, is now weaseling out of this by simultaneously blaming others and apologizing for it. You owe me no apologies, Senator—just own up to your predilections. You know, the predilections that you said made Bill Clinton unfit for office. I don't care who you sleep with; hypocrisy is the issue here, you sleazebag.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Why Republicans are wrong on Iraq.

Remember this little attack by Rudolph W. Giuliani during the Republican debates on Fox News?

When Rep. Ron Paul dared to suggest that we try to figure out why the Iraqis resent our presence in our country, and that we also try to figure out what the September 11 terrorist attacks were about. Giuliani then not only disagrees with Paul, but he attacks Paul for daring to think differently about the issue than he does. Then Giuliani comes out and says that because he lived through the September 11 attacks, he's got a better perspective on things. This is a crock. I lived through the September 11 attacks, myself. I was in the World Trade Center half an hour before the first plane hit, and I evacuated the city that day. Regardless, I don't look at having been around on that day as a boost to my foreign policy credentials. (And I'll eat my shoes the day the Republican Party listens to the foreign policy opinions of the majority of New Yorkers.)

Many have argued (as have I) that the Republican Party screwed up on Iraq. A significant problem for them is also that they don't know how to debate on Iraq, or on any other topic, for that matter. They believe in hewing to a singular vision of what's right and good and never straying from it, then brow-beating anyone who does. There's no active debate in the Republican Party these days. This will work as a political strategy for a non-incumbent party or for a country in a (real or perceived) crisis. The Republicans are doomed in the near future unless they can keep up the illusion that we're all in imminent danger of being killed by some dirty foreigners and that the only way to save ourselves is to somehow find and kill them all (whoever "they" are,) the Republicans are in trouble... so it looks like they might be all right, after all...

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Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) corrects Sara Taylor's job description

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) had former White House Political Director on the stand the other day, where she said, "I took an oath to the president." Senator Leahy reminded her emphatically that her oath is to uphold the Constitution. It's beautiful:

Just one more example of the dangerous thought flying around the Bush administration these days, as well as among its supporters and apologists.

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Gilmore drops out. And then there were... seven? Nine?

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is now former Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore. Gilmore, who ran because he felt he was the only "true conservative" running, dropped his presidential bid yesterday after raising too conservative an amount of money.

I like to think I keep on top of these things, but I'll admit that I had to think about it hard and finally resort to a Google search to make a comprehensive list of all the Republicans who are still running. For the moment, they are:

Former Gov. Willard "Mitt" Romney (Massachusetts), who seems to have no trouble raising money himself, spent his entire tenure as Governor of Massachusetts building a network of campaign donors. Good work, Mitt! We Massachusetts residents appreciate your tireless devotion to the state... of your campaign apparatus! (Um... why did we elect you again?)

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (New York) does all right with money and his political network, polling respectively around the country. However, running into recent minefields like his South Carolina campaign director being convicted on cocaine charges, his buddy Bernie Kerik proving to be a paragon of corruption, and the candidate's brilliant assessment in Alabama last April that "a gallon of milk probably costs about $1.50," I have a feeling that Giuliani's got to self-destruct sooner or later. At any rate, the former mayor's past support of gay rights and abortion rights will certainly deflate enthusiasm for him among the more conservative voters, whom he'll need to win over. At any rate, I'm not convinced Giuliani's going to make it through the primaries.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee (Arkansas) hails from a small town called Hope—but that alone does not a president make. Huckabee is a good public speaker, but he doesn't seem to be catching much fire, despite his appeal among Christian conservatives. What's he running for—president, or some future Republican president's cabinet? Some might like Huckabee's smooth, seemingly friendly air—but look out. The fact is he's a fierce partisan, and has been caught a few times comparing the Democratic Party to the Nazi Party. That's the kind of behavior known in Republican circles as "being a uniter, not a divider." You've been warned.

Former Governor Tommy Thompson (Wisconsin) is one I had to think and think hard about to remember, but failed, eventually getting my memory jogged about him through that Google search. I'm pretty convinced Thompson's running for vice president. Wouldn't it be cool if the Republians nominated Fred Thompson? Thompson/Thompson '08! I still wouldn't vote for that ticket, though come to think of it, cutesy packaging like that might actually prove to be an asset... jeez, maybe I hope they don't go this way...

Representative Ron Paul (Texas) is an interesting phenomenon. Paul is a resistered Republican but largely libertarian in his views. He's out of step with the Bush White House and mostly has a hands-off view of government (except where abortion and gay rights are concerned: he opposes both.) Paul has very enthusiastic support, but that support doesn't translate to a strong showing in the national polls. I'm skeptical about Paul's appeal among Republican voters in general, and I don't see him pulling ahead in the primaries. He should have no problem keeping his House seat, though. The voters in his district oppose abortion rights and rights for gays, since folks aren't particularly libertarian in east Texas.

Senator Sam Brownback (Kansas) is still running as a religious conservative, reaching out to Evangelicals, which is strange, considering that he's a Catholic. Brownback seems to be marching against the liberalizing current running through his state right now, which is helping the Democratic party there. Brownback's Senate seat probably won't be imperiled any time soon, but his tilting at the White House windmill will probably come to naught, as well.

Representative Tom Tancredo (Colorado) has a strong following but is just a one-note show. His anti-immigration campaign has electrified anti-immigrant voters. One-note candidates typically have a problem getting taken seriously, and in that, Tancredo seems pretty typical. Apart from his presidential campaign going nowhere, there's concern that Tancredo's actions will serve to drive Hispanics from the Republican Party, a group that the Republicans had been trying, with some success, to court since 1972, as some of President Nixon's old recordings have revealed. This recording shows that the Republicans were still courting Hispanics in 2004. I can see the Tancredo campaign launching all sorts of attack ads, but ads in Spanish? Probably not.

Senator John McCain (Arizona) was long assumed to be the 2008 frontrunner, but he never managed to catch on, to the surprise of many. His campaign imploded just this month, with most of his staff walking out on him. Those who remained tried to spin it as a "shuffling of staff," but they left him, not the other way around. It's hard to say what caused this collapse, exactly, but I think the general problem McCain has had stemmed from his gradual abandoning of his independence. McCain ran as a harsh critic of Bush in 2000, but lost a lot of moderate Republicans and independents through his strong support of the Bush administration over these past seven years. Social conservatives were never comfortable with McCain, who used to attack Jerry Falwell and their friends, so he's always been a hard sell to this group, which pretty much runs the party these days. Add to that McCain's unflagging support of our failed occupation of Iraq and his moderate views on immigration reform (e.g., not packing up twelve million Hispanics in boxcars and shipping them across the Mexican border,) Arizona's senior senator seems to be a little bit out of step with everyone. Sure he's independent minded, but considering that everyone across the political spectrum feels at least a little bit betrayed by John McCain, he's lost a lot of trust. He'll hold his Senate seat for as long as he draws breath, but as to any greater ambitions, it's all over.

Representative Duncan Hunter (California) is running as a hard-core conservative, but this latter-day John Bircher is another name that people find hard to remember. I bet he's the next Republican to drop out of the race.

You might notice a couple of noteworthy omissions from the above list. Two, specifically. That's because I've only listed declared candidates. However, these omitted two need to be included, so here goes: Senator Chuck Hagel (Nebraska) has tried to paint himself as an outsider candidate, daring to criticize the Bush administration on Iraq a few months ago. While Hagel was doing that, there was a general feeling that this meant he was about to throw his hat into the ring. Senator Hagel issued a press release saying he was going to make a big announcement, and when he had the eyes and ears of the whole news media, Hagel stepped up to the podium and said, "I want to announce that I haven't decided what I'm going to do next yet." This annoying move seems to suggest that Hagel had something in mind but some new data might have changed his mind for him. I suspect he figured his Iraq position would garner him more support than it actually did, and that he took one look at some internal polls and figured he'd better wait. Republicans still support Bush in large enough numbers that running against him is no way to win a primary, and I think that's the harsh lesson that Senator Hagel has learned. There was some talk about an independent Hagel bid, but I don't see that happening, either. Hagel is over.

Former Senator Fred Thompson (Tennessee) has been teasing us with talk of a presidential run, and although he hasn't announced yet, I think he's going to do it. You hear a lot of "Reaganesque" comments about Thompson, but I think all that means is that Thompson's an actor, too. He leans conservative these days, which helps, but he's got some explaining to do about his past lobbying for a pro-choice organization in 1992, about which he has recently claims "I don't remember." (Note: Thompson is a former Nixon staffer, so that's probably where he learned that trick.) Thompson's lifestyle might also become an issue among social conservatives; his quarter-century-his-junior trophy wife and lavish tastes have earned him the nickname "Frederick of Hollywood." Is this what Republicans have in mind when they think of a white knight?

I guess this means that there are officially nine Republican candidates, most likely ten, and possibly eleven (if Hagel throws his hat in.) Some might say twelve, since Newt Gingrich likes to tease us with talk of his running, but he's done that before. I think Gingrich is just too much of a ham to play himself down when the cameras and recording devices are rolling.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

John McCain: is collapse imminent?

You may or may not have heard that over the past week, nearly all of Republican Senator John McCain's campaign staff walked out on him, including long-time friend and aide John Weaver. McCain, the presumed frontrunner just a year ago, has suddenly found himself in a political wilderness, knee-deep in Iowa grasses, future uncertain. What is the senator to do?

It would seem that if McCain has any hope at all, he'll need to jump-start his campaign. I'd say that of all the current Republican candidates, McCain has proven himself to be the most capable of doing so, too. But will he? And if so, how?

Thomas B. Edsall over at the Huffington Post argues that McCain's best shot—possibly his only shot—would be to become the anti-Bush candidate. That was what McCain had going for him in 2000, and today, I'd say the anti-Bush ground is far more fertile, even for a Republican. It's not the safest route to take, but considering that McCain's campaign has just all but melted down lately, the Arizona senator can't really afford safety right now.

I have to wonder, though, just how safe it would be for a Republican candidate not to turn his back on Bush. Conventional wisdom says that you've got to appease the Republican base by being nice to the president, but how wise is this? Bush's popularity is bottoming out at a shocking rate, and he's managed to infuriate a good number of his own party. The parallel I see here is with Lyndon Johnson, who was eligible to run for another term in 1968 and who was the presumptive Democratic nominee that year—until fringe candidate Eugene McCarthy surprisingly tied Johnson in the New Hampshire primary. After that, Democratic challengers came out of the woodwork, convincing Johnson that it would be best not to seek reëlection.

Sure, Bush isn't eligible for reëlection next year, but the principle of the "dangers" of running against the president remain the same. I believe that there's a treasure trove of votes out there for the Republican candidate who sees fit to run against George W. Bush. For a while I thought Chuck Hagel was going to be that candidate, but I don't get the feeling that Hagel's even running for president anymore.

Who's going to be the Republican who dares to criticize their sitting president? Anyone? Possibly no one will, in which case this will be a wasted opportunity, and I believe could well cost the Republicans the 2008 election. The bloodless calculation that you should speak no ill of a fellow Republican could really hurt the party, but if a candidate shows some independence, he might breathe some life into his own party. McCain has appeared independent before, and right now, with nothing left to lose, I think he might as well try to appear independent again. McCain subducted himself to the Bush administration for all these years and lost those credentials, so of all the potential Republican critics, it seems that, ironically, it would be riskiest for Bush's former critic to become his greatest critic. For McCain, turning on Bush is his best option—but sadly for McCain, that option will also fail.

George W. Bush destroyed McCain's credibility and his presidential campaign in 2000, and he's done that very same thing once again for 2008. The Straight Talk Express has been once again derailed.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Growing older, growing... "conservative"?

I think the problem with the old chestnut about becoming more conservative as you grow up is not that it's inaccurate, but rather that what we call "conservative" these days is actually "right wing." The spirit in which that maxim was coined was one where "conservative" meant "more uncomfortable with change, more comfortable with stasis." The opposite of conservative was "liberal," which meant a craving for change of some kind.

Young and old haven't changed much since... well, since probably ever. Young people still crave change, older people still want things to remain more the way they are. Young people want upheaval, older people want to move cautiously, if at all.

The modern American "conservative" is actually one who craves much change. They want to dismantle Social Security, they want to slash our tax rate, they want to send troops overseas, they want to institutionalize religion. "Conservatives" are arguably conservative when it comes to keeping gays from achieving full rights, but on the other hand, over the last forty years or so, mainstream America has grown less tolerant of intolerance, so maybe blocking gay rights isn't that conservative after all. Chasing gays back into the closet is more of a radical position—the word radical coming from the Latin radix, for root. Hauling us back to the bad old days of gay repression is as radical a social policy as, say, bringing back slavery or the Inquisition. (Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but such is the general direction.)

I'm approaching forty, and I also don't drink like I used to, and I still don't consider experimenting with drugs. I've never found "free love" appealing, or even tasteful. I suppose I'm socially conservative, then. As I grow older, I find I believe in my government's institutions more: Social Security, wielding international influence through diplomacy before war, funding public schools, paying graduated income tax, etc. These are positions that used to define conservatism. It seems that the cult of youth that the still-powerful, aged hippie generation still follows has had the unintended consequence of giving rise to a kind of non-conservative "conservatism" that inflicts America today. If the Baby Boomers had just grown up to be adults like normal generations, America's new right wing couldn't possibly be thriving the way it is. Like these aging hippies, modern right-wingers crave constant engagement, and thus thirst for a return to older times, rather than keeping things the way they are. That's going backward, which is very different from preserving what you've currently got. Like the Flower Power generation, the people who call themselves "conservative" want to tear up the roots of our established institutions and plant new ones. When you hear today's right-wingers grouse about rights for minorities, it's an echo of the old conservative movement politics of the 1960s. The John Birch Society may have called itself conservative, but it was always radical, pining for an ideal America of yesteryear that, in fact, never existed in the first place.

Modern "conservatism" and modern "liberalism" are both liberal in the classic sense: both push for change of some kind. Barry Goldwater was the last genuine conservative nominated for the presidency by either major party until Bill Clinton. Since Bill Clinton, America has moved away from classic conservatism toward Bush's rightist radicalism. But what's in a name?

Anyway, that's why either that maxim needs to be updated or our political terms need to be updated. I vote for the latter, but I'll take what I can get.

This was originally posted in a slightly different form on Jersey McJones' blog.

Elizabeth Dole on Iraq: blame the victims.

Two days ago, Republican North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole issued a statement on Iraq. Dole says in her statement that the U.S. troops in Iraq are doing a great job, though the Iraq occupation isn't going well at all. She says that the U.S. occupation of Iraq isn't the troops' fault, or the president's fault, but rather, it's the Iraqi government's fault. Yes, the same Iraqi government that the United States designed and installed after we invaded Iraq during a month-long war.

Here's an excerpt of what Senator Dole says:

“Simply put, our troops have been doing a great job, but the Iraqi government has not. Our commitment in Iraq is not indefinite, nor should the Iraqi government perceive it to be. It is my firm hope and belief that we can start bringing our troops home in 2008.”

What's odd about that statement is that Dole seems to think that the Iraqi government ever had any reason to think that the United States has actually ever had a commitment in Iraq. Really, we've occupied the place since 2003, but what have we actually accomplished, besides giving George W. Bush a campaign issue to run on?

Dole, in true Republican fashion, is trying to have it both ways. She wants to say that the Iraq occupation isn't working, and that it's someone else's fault. There's that famous Republican accountability: something's going wrong, so it clearly must be someone else's fault!

Here's Dole's complete press release on the subject. Interestingly (but not surprisingly) she goes on to say that she'll oppose any cuts in funding for the troops, as well as any timelines for withdrawal. In other words, she reminds us that our commitment in Iraq is not indefinite, and that the current strategy is not working, but she still believes we should do nothing different. What kind of arrogant egomaniac issues a press release just to say that she hasn't changed her mind about anything? That would be first-term Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My letter to Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

I hope you'll forgive my long hiatus from this blog. I've been on other projects, worn out, and also busy at work. I hope to get things jumping here again.

I'll start with the story about Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana), whose name has appeared on the patrons list of the famous DC madam, and whose name has recently appeared on a New Orleans madam's client list, as well. The New Orleans madam, Jeanette Maier, has stated that Vitter's a great guy, and that she doesn't see extramarital sex as a big deal, and that Vitter should be lauded for staying with his kids. I'm sure the senator is thrilled to have her support.

This prompted me to write to Senator Vitter. Now, while I know that senators seldom write back to those who are not in their constituency (and I can hardly blame them for this,) I'd still be delighted to get a response from the senator. If I do, I'll post it here, you can bet. At any rate, I'd like to share, so here goes:

July 11, 2007

Dear Senator,

I recently read a quote from your 2004 campaign that "We need a U.S. senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts' values." Having spent my life deploring regionalist antagonism, whether it's toward my region or toward another region, I want to say that comments like this hurt, and remind me that although you serve in the same Senate that my senators serve in, you aren't working for the whole country, but rather you're working to favor your state over all others while working to cut my state out of any benefits its membership in the U.S. Congress might render it. You hate me because of where I live, in other words, so you'll understand why I don't feel particularly warm toward you.

We've started off on the wrong foot, I realize. But despite your hatred for what my state is about and what we stand for, I still want to understand you. What do you mean by "Massachusetts values"? Do you mean tolerance, a fair tax structure, the sanctity of marriage? I'm particularly pleased with Massachusetts' attitude toward marriage; we have the lowest divorce rate in the entire country! I'm getting married next year, too, so I hope to help to keep that number high! Believe me: this is something I value!

Marriage is apparently viewed differently in Louisiana. I realize your marriage is still intact, which is wonderful, but I don't see how Wendy is able to tolerate the Louisiana value of frequenting brothels. My fiancée would walk out on me if I ever did that--or worse! Why is this part of Louisiana values? Is it just that you passionate men need your outlets when one's love life at home gets a little too... routine, maybe? In Massachusetts, brothels are not part of our "values," generally speaking, though I don't condemn whatever arrangements a particular couple might make. If Wendy's cool with your extramarital activities, then that's great. It's just that it strikes me as odd that your state, as conservative as it is, would rank brothels as part of your "values."

But I guess you're not an anthropologist, are you, Senator? Regardless, if you could offer me some insight into the Louisianan predilection toward brothels, I'd much appreciate it. There might even be a book in this, sort of a companion volume to "Earls of Louisiana," you know? Just a thought. It might be interesting to read such a book. Heck, I'd be willing to research and write it, but I've got another one of those Massachusetts values standing in the way--"holding down a job!"

Do you plan to keep working after 2010, Senator? Just wondering.

I'd just like to add that despite your harsh words, I still don't have anything against your state. And I'll confess: I actually prefer gumbo to clam chowder (though I'll still take baked beans over ratatouille.) See? There's hope that we can come together, somehow. I get the feeling that there must be some Louisianans who agree with me on this. Maybe that nice Bobby Jindal fellow, perhaps? Does he go to brothels, too? Just curious. This value of yours fascinates me!

Kurt Kaletka
Watertown, Massachusetts
(and yes, that's the USA)

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