Saturday, March 15, 2008

Punishment for Bush's Surveillance Cronies?

This past Thursday the House of Representatives convened in secret for the first time since 1983. The purpose of their secrecy was to revise the infamous Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This act was put into place in 1978 and then amended by the USA Patriot Act of 2001 to include terrorist organizations that aren't backed by a specific government.

The act has allowed warrentless domestic wire tapping (this use was developed by the Bush administration) as well as created a court that meets in secret to issue warrants. Only the amount of warrants issued must be disclosed, not how they are issued.

I am not certain of all the specifics of the revisions, but one revision has been met with strong opposition from the GOP. It would allow telecommunications companies to be sued if they had participated in any of the warrantless seaches. That doesn't seem fair to me since the telecommunications companies had probably acted under the advice that what they were doing was legal at the time.

I am not as well informed on this topic as I would like to be and am hoping that someone else can take a look at this article and possibly shed some light on what is going on here.

House challenges Bush on surveillance

Friday, March 14, 2008

Black Author Hutchinson Defends Ferraro

If you haven't been hiding under a rock the past three days, (or if you have read the thread immediately below this post), you are familiar with the accusations that former VP nominee and Clinton fund-raiser Geraldine Ferraro is a racist. You have also heard that Senator Clinton herself is a racist for not denouncing Ferraro's comments (even though she did.) It has been reported that Senator Clinton waited too long to repudiate these remarks and also that she didn't go far enough out of her way to denounce Ferraro. I argue that she went too far.

From our friends at comes this article in which author Earl Ofari Hutchinson not only defends Ferraro's remarks, but praises her for having the gall to say something that needed to be said. In his article, he writes:
Don't Fire Geraldine Ferraro, Pin a Merit Badge on Her for Having the Guts to Tell the Truth
Fire former Democratic VP candidate and Hillary Clinton advisor Geraldine Ferraro? She ought to get a merit badge pinned on her for having the guts to tell the truth. Ferraro got it right on both counts when she said that race has made a difference with Barack Obama. He has gotten a virtual free ride from much of the media. His paper thin voting record, lack of experience, zig zag stances on foreign policy issues, Republican lite positions on health care and the sub prime housing crisis, repeated subtle going negative against Hillary Clinton while giving himself a plausible deniability out and insuring that Clinton gets dumped on when she hits back has been blatantly obvious. The media and much of the public have kept hands off him in part out of sheer terror of being branded racist and in part out of hatred for Clinton. And that's the other thing that Ferraro got right. She flatly called the media sexist and said that many Americans, she really said America, has a huge problem with a woman running for president...
"then New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm the only other woman to make a spirited run for the presidency as a Democrat quipped that "Of my two 'handicaps' being female put more obstacles in my path than being black. I've always met more discrimination being a woman than being black."
click to read the full story...

Keith Olbermann is THE WORST PERSON

You know, when me and my brother were growing up SportsCenter was a staple of most evenings. And my one of my favorite anchors was always Keith Olbermann. He had this dry humor which I loved, he was the tops. But now, he is a self-fulfilling, self-aggrandizing fear monger. This clip regarding Geraldine Ferraro's comments and the Clinton reaction is absurd. To put Clinton, who has publicly repudiated Ferraro's statements, in the same sentence as David Duke is beyond comprehension. This guy is worse than Bill O'Reilly, who at least injects a little humor. Olbermann takes himself way too seriously, and to top it off he steals Edward R. Murrow's sign-off line (Good Night and Good Luck) for each of his nightly tirades?? This guy is a joke. Get him off the airwaves.

HomoSEXuality is all about SEX!

I know Rick Perry was brought up in an earlier post but I thought this was too funny just to bring up in the comments. No way McCain is picking this heterosexual.

Full Transparency?...

In addition to his tax returns Senator Obama has just released his congressional earmarks for the last three years and has asked Senator Clinton to do the same. This combined with her reluctance to release her tax returns is leading towards a trend of not-so-full-disclosure and could potentially indicate that she is hiding something. First off I find it frustrating that legislator's earmarks are not public domain. Are there any arguments for keeping them private? Secondly, obviously Clinton has the right to keep her tax returns private, but considering that she is running for President of the United States shouldn't she release them?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pessimism Be Damned, Glass in Iraq Is Still Half Full

With all the useless drivel about WMDs and waterboarding, its important to step back in time thirty years and remember that in the 80s the U.S. had no presence in the Mid East, no relationship with any leaders in the region (friend or foe), and no economic ties to the oldest and richest region in the world. At that time the U.S. and Russia were at odds, Afghanistan was in a tug-of -cold-war for power and conflicts were popping up in other regions with no ability for either superpower to intervene without the threat of escalation.

It would have been hard to imagine that a mere three decades later Russia would have collapsed, regional conflicts (like Kosovo and Bosnia) would be resolved by occupation alone with regional forces like NATO, and the U.S. would have divisions of troops, a permanently stationed navy and an entire wing of the airforce imbedded in three mid-eastern countries. Numerous former enemies (such as Ghadaffi) have given up terrorism and current threats, such as Iran, understand that if they misbehave they will suffer the instant wrath of U.S. retaliation (or preemptive strike).

Even with the terrorist attacks, the promise of regional economic growth by the American presence is worth the price for world stability. This may seem callous but, again, America is not positioned to invade. Its presence, as with Bosnia, is meant to stabilize. Part of the current instability has existed for thousands of years. Under the U.S. umbrella, new borders may be drawn, trade may begin with former enemies and the standard of living can elevate to western levels.

Over time freedom can grow- throughout history the most stubborn despotic societies have converted to modified democracies. Germany, Japan, Russia and others have built democratic societies after dictatorial or fuedal pasts. This will take time but most forget that even the U.S. had to go through a brutal civil war before it could evolve into a true free society. Again, so many are cynical of America's motives but there is ample precedent for our history of occupation and nation building that shows great results (the Marshall Plan , Germany and Japan). In retrospect I would have been more comfortable if our leaders had been honest with us from the beginning, " We are invading Iraq to kick some ass, create stability, help them build a free society and get the hell outta there!"

Is Obama's Pastor a Liability?

Here is an article I ran across that says some pretty radical things about 9/11. Read the article and decide for yourself if this man is a potential problem for Obama's campaign.

New blog?!? Let's chat.....

I've now heard from more than one source at the Texas Capitol that Rick Perry is on McCain's short list for VP candidates. I think this would be a horrible mistake for the McCain camp. Rick Perry isn't going to bring any extra votes from anywhere, much less his own state. What will the American public think when they see another governor from the state of Texas on the ballot?? I'm all for change and Perry isn't it.

Any thoughts?

i like colors

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eliot Spitzer: The Anti-American

I have refrained from this topic as it is being pushed in everyone's face by the media but I feel it needs to be addressed here at least once. We haven't discussed Eli Spitz at all since this huge, alleged "high-end" prostitution ring (we know it happened but how high-end can whoring yourself out really be?) Here is my answer, not about top-tier hookers, but about why Spitz is getting my cold shoulder.

We live in New York and this is a glaring blemish for our state so I, for one, would love to see Spitzer resign from his role as governor, which he did effective this Monday, and then I would love to forget about that, scrub my entire body vigorously and absolve myself of the whole ordeal.

This man enrages me. Having done some illegal things myself in the early days of my youth, I understand that I can't go around arresting people, let alone fining them, suspending them or preaching to them about some of those topics until I've gained a significant amount of proven wisdom. Spitzer prosecuted prostitution rings just a few years ago and here he is paying top dollar for tricks.

Maybe Wall Street is right to clamor so joyfully at his resignation; Spitzer doesn't understand economics. If he wanted to pay less for sex outside his marriage, he wouldn't have spent so much time driving out the competition. We all know that when you have more suppliers, you have lower prices.

Not only is this bad for New York, but it is bad for the democrats and even worse for Americans. This, undoubtedly, made international headlines only to reinforce our country's current global image of hypocrisy (I say this with disdain but unfortunately I believe our importing habits, the policies of the IMF/ World Bank and President Bush's foreign policies have made this a reality). The sooner it is out of the papers... and out of blogs, the better. After Monday I never want to hear Spitzer's name again unless you're talking about a bar at the corner of Ludlow and Rivington.

Obama and Race

This past week, former Congresswoman and Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro asserted the following:

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

I want to pose a question regarding her statement. How much of Obama's current lead is attributable to his race? Personally, I feel that Ferraro's statement was ill-conceived, but not "patently absurd" as Obama has described it. I do believe that in a way, particularly for his upper class, well-educated white constituency, Obama has been able to transcend race. Many people are looking at his message of change and hope before they see his race, and for them, race becomes a non-issue. But what about the black vote? I do believe that if Obama wins such a tight contest, he will have to look back and recognize that it was largely due to him overwhelmingly carrying the black vote. This has historically been a major base for first Bill Clinton, and later Hillary. For him to take that base, I believe, will be what helps him defeat Clinton (should he do so). While I disagree with Ferraro's ludicrous statement that Obama is "lucky to be who he is" (which is just flat-out dumb), I do want to underscore that his being black should not be entirely lost when we analyze why he has catapulted to front-runner status, because a major base for the Democratic Party, black people, have shifted their allegiance from the Clinton family to the Illinois Senator, and could be the catalyst that sends him to the White House.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Does Experience = Staleness?

They always say if you want to be this or that, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up for about 10-15 years. Supposedly this makes you better off for whatever job you're trying to do. But could it be, that the old dinosaurs at the top who waited their turn, became stale in the process? Did they lose their creative spark and driving motivation to get things done as they sat around and learned the process?

Obama may think so. That's why "He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors," according to this article. But who really needs to know where all the corridors are in the first place? Because the only thing waiting around in those corridors are potential enemies.

Though maybe more time in Senate would help prevent time wasted as President learning on the job as he goes, also maybe prevent lives lost and so on, but who really knows? What if he were just do a term of VP and then run for President? Would that make everyone happy saying he's inexperienced?

It's already over, we should have a nominee by now?

I think this gent makes a valid point until you actually apply it to the current situation. I'm sure his theory would apply if you take away the health care issue, the war situation, and how the economy is dumping on itself.

Dems Stay in Headlines with Mail-In Mess

The democratic party is tricky. Everything in this year's primary has created so much free media coverage for all of the candidates left of the line. Now, not only do we have an incredibly close race between the possibly first black and possibly first female candidates, but we also have a growing debacle in the states of Florida and Michigan.

If your head has been under a rock for the past few months, Florida and Michigan did not have their votes counted due to a decree made by the DNC (Democratic National Committee). They, the states, were being punished because they violated party rules and scheduled their primaries too early. Since the stakes are ever so high, this ruling is being scrutinized by many in the political arena. Howard Dean, the chair of the DNC, has suggested a mail-in ballot re-vote to fix this circus show (1).

Now that a seemingly fair solution has been identified, Dean can wash his hands of the whole affair, sit back and watch the show. And what a show there will be. The main question that needs to be addressed is how will the DNC pay for this? In an election where both candidates have generated millions of dollars in donations, it will be interesting to see where the funds come from and who thinks they have a chance to gain in this decision. It is almost reminiscent of the recent NBA decision to allow the Miami Heat to replay the last 51.9 seconds of a game they had lost to the Atlanta Hawks due to an erroneous foul out of Shaquille O'neal (2).

Much like that game, changes have occured since the initial vote, the players are different (well sort of because there are only 2 now) and the stakes are higher for those involved. This seems like a complete and total mess because we all know how inept Florida is at any kind of election process, let alone one done completely by mail.

That aside, the bigger piece to this story is the fact that Democrats are going to continue to win the headlines in the pre-general election media battle. Every day will be a new development and every week will be a new celebrity endorsement. The question I have though, is whether or not problems like this one will win the democrats votes in the presidential election or whether these continued dilemmas will cast a poor light over the blue candidates.

Source (1)
Source (2)