It Is Time To Stand With President Bush

HEAR ME OUT ON THIS!

A side of President Bush emerged on Tuesday that America has not seen before.  It was a robust and energized President telling his right wing soul mates to shut the hell up.  He used more muted language than that of course, but the message conveyed the same end result.  The issue that has galvanized the conservatives of his party is immigration.  It was these same people that helped elect Bush, but now have turned their back on the 43rd President.  And Bush is fighting back.  Well, as best he can after being in bed all these years with the conservative talk show hosts, bloggers, and politicians.

Part of the problem Bush now faces is the plight any Administration would face when trying to shape vital public policy at a time of highly divided and contentious national politics.  President Clinton faced the same type of undermining of policy hopes during the health care debate.  The forces of destruction won then, and the plight of America’s uninsured remain a source of national shame yet today.  The same long-term effects for our nation will occur if the loud echo chamber created by conservatives prevails, and as a result the latest immigration bill is killed.

The problem for Bush, even as he railed against the conservatives on Tuesday, is that he has no one he can turn to for support, or cover.  He has been cozy with the conservatives, allowing them to run the show for the past six years.  That in large part undermined his ability to foster a larger governing coalition.  Karl Rove is in large part responsible for this.  President Bush has alienated and angered Democrats at every turn.  He lied to the nation about the Iraq War, finds no desire to change war policy, and therefore finds no refuge among the electorate.  As a result his poll numbers are dismal.  Therefore, the Bush White House is basically fighting alone.

And that is not good for the country.

I have huge, and often irreconcilable differences with the way Bush misled the nation during his years in the White House.  I have been highly critical of his tenure as President.  But I also firmly understand why this country needs a leader with political leverage. In fact, that has been one of my deep regrets over the way Bush lied about the war.  He undermined his leadership authority with a war of choice.

We need a strong President now with the ability to pull a consensus immigration bill through Congress, and sign it into law in the Oval Office.  But the political chasm that exists in our country, and the state of the Presidency today will most likely mean that this immigration bill is never to be passed.  Unless some of us decide that good immigration policy should trump loud politics.

It should concern us all, both Democrats and Republicans that national policy requiring Congress’s action will wither and die.  It should madden us that conservatives can hijack public policy through their manipulation of the airwaves, and the layers of echo that they produce daily across the country.

I know I should be amused as a liberal to see the conservative political attacks that Bush loved to use these past six years against the Democrats, now being used against him.  Truth is I am not amused.  I enjoy political theatre more than most, but I also have a deep appreciation for the art of policy making.  And right now for a variety of reasons a strong and coherent immigration bill needs to become the law of the land.  And when policy proposals are destroyed, as the conservatives are now doing, I think we all need to make a statement about the direction of the country.  And so on the immigration proposal I stand with President Bush, and ask that you do the same.

This is much more important than my political differences with President Bush. It is more important than your political differences with President Bush.  This is about the heart and soul of how our government should operate, the way Congress should be allowed to craft legislation, and the way our country should deal with pressing national needs.

I know that this will produce snickers and sneers from some.  To them I reply that I still believe what my grade school civics book taught me.  Shouldn’t we all feel the same?

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He Wasn’t A Legislator Either

I have thought many times about creating a list of the amusing things I hear people say on the street, in the grocery store, mall, or movie theatre.  The innocent off-the-cuff remarks are both funny at times, and reflective of the world in which we live.  Today I was downtown on business, and thought a walk around the sidewalk of the Statehouse would be relaxing.  I was not really paying attention while munching a bag of M&M’s when a guy passed me talking loudly into his cell phone.

“No, Ma, I can’t come to eat with you cuz I still got the bracelet on.”

I turned and glanced down, and there it was.  His electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle.  Not sure if the flip-flops however were the right accessories with the whole package.  I had to feel kind of sorry for the young guy as he walked way.  One hand holding the cell phone, and the other his shorts so they would not fall around his ankles.  Now that would be a real fashion faux pax.

God Bless Ira Newble!

I don’t write about sports figures on this blog.  Until today. 

To be honest until recently I had never even heard of Ira Newble.  I just don’t follow sports.  When I do tune in there seems to be stories about a baseball player on steroids, or a football player wanting more cash.  Those stories make me ill.  So when the wonderful news about Ira Newble started to filter in to me over the past few weeks I paid attention.  His determination to effect change in Darfur has struck a chord with me.  The Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player is using his professional connections to try and make a real difference in the world.  I don’t hear that often from the sports world.

Newble has announced his plan to collect NBA players’ signatures for a petition titled “Bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur.” Ultimately, Newble wants to stop the genocide against tribal populations in the Darfur region of Sudan; the Sudanese government uses Arab militia groups for the killing.  So far they have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of African civilians and created 2 million refugees.   My readers know I feel the lack of world reaction to the slaughter is a moral failing, and that future generations will ask why we were so timid and heartless in the face of the facts.  That feeling is aimed at both political parties, and especially George Bush, and the 2004 candidacy of the inept John Kerry along with those Democrats who excused him for not fighting over this issue.

Newble has a high paying job, and could very well look the other way.  But bless him, as his conscience will not allow it.  “I get to play basketball for a living, and I love it. That’s my job, but it isn’t all there is to me. Women and children are being raped. Innocent people are being murdered or displaced from their homes. I can’t stand by and do nothing.”

If only the President of the United States had as much inner angst over Darfur as Newble has.  Newble’s petition targets China, which is hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics but also buys about two-thirds of Sudan’s oil. The Sudanese government uses most of its oil profits to buy weapons and aircraft, two-thirds of which are made by China. The weapons are often used to slaughter the people of Darfur.

China has blocked U.N. efforts to send a peacekeeping force into Darfur. Newble joins other activists in calling for China to pressure the Sudanese government’s Khartoum regime to allow peacekeepers into the region.

An article about Darfur by scholar Eric Reeves, an English professor at Smith College, ignited Newble’s activism. He talked to Reeves, did more research and then assembled two pages of facts about the genocide and slipped the sheets into his teammates lockers.

“I called them together and said, Guys, I put some information in your lockers. It’s an issue I’m getting involved in. Read it, and we’ll talk about it.”

Newble is casting a wide net, reaching out to the 400-plus NBA players as well as athletes in the NFL and in Major League Baseball.  (I bet every penny I have that Brett Favre will not sign it!) He’s also hoping for the support of his childhood hero, Muhammad Ali. It’s a lot of work, but he’s in for the long haul.

“This is bigger than sports, bigger than basketball,” Newble said. “This is about human beings, and how they are dying at an alarming rate because we are standing by and doing nothing.”

I am glad that my first post about a sports figure turned out to be Ira Newble.  I suspect it will not be my last about this fine human being.

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Why FAUX NEWS Is Just A Big GOP Wet Nurse

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I am one of those guys who drive others crazy when the TV remote control is in my hand.  For instance, I like to see which story leads the 6:00 P.M and 10:00 P.M. local news on each of the three channels in our city.  The same holds true for the lead story on each of the big networks during their evening newscasts.  It is my way of better understanding what is selling in the news world, and what the folks who have the power consider to be news worthy.  So I was more than curious to read the findings of the Project For Excellence in Journalism as they reported on what made it to air on the cable TV news channels, and what did not.  While I am dismayed, I am not shocked.   Let us be real.  How can FAUX NEWS shock anyone anymore?

Would you believe the network that claims they present ‘fair and balanced news’ favored the Anna Nicole Smith story over the Iraq War during the first quarter of this year?  FAUX NEWS covered the Iraq War less than half the airtime that MSNBC did during this period.  MSNBC used 31% of their airtime to report on the war, while CNN used 25% of their time.  The Republican political news channel used only 15% of their time to cover the bloody civil war where roughly 165,000 American soldiers fight, and nearly 3,500 have died. 

To put it another way the biggest and bloodiest story in the nation was deemed not as important to FAUX NEWS as the coverage of an over-sexed big-breasted bimbo who thrived on dysfunctional relationships.  Of the two, the Smith story received 9.6% of all on-air time, while the all-important Iraq policy debate taking place in Washington was allotted 10.1% of air content time. 

To prove that FAUX NEWS is a GOP tool, consider how the story concerning the politicization of the Justice Department was covered.  FAUX NEWS gave only 2% of their airtime to this story while CNN provided 8% of airtime coverage.  FAUX NEWS is not interested in providing news coverage that resembles in any way the high standards of most newsrooms, or serious journalists around the nation.  The creator of FAUX NEWS, Roger Ailes, has a political mission, and that is to provide a wet nurse service to the intellectually bankrupt Republican Party, and their conservative allies.  Bush and Company have no better friends than the crowd at FAUX NEWS who will bury any bad news, and create false impressions to mislead the country.  William Randolph Hearst would applaud if he were alive to witness what Ailes has created.  The rest of us are just embarrassed.

Is it any wonder then that given how FAUX NEWS bastardizes the news that the ones who watch it have a warped sense of reality?  Can we now better understand why those who watch FAUX NEWS still cling to notions about the ‘real world’, which are in actuality just not true?  Remember how the line was so blurred by FAUX NEWS  (and President Bush) that many thought Iraq was responsible for 9/11?  Yeah, Hearst would approve!

FAUX NEWS is not real journalism, and those who watch that channel are not the brightest, or best educated in the country.  In the end that channel, and their viewers, are like the Anna Nicole Smith story.  One big dysfunctional mess.  Or put another way that they might better understand, they are just big boobs.

I report. You decide.

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What If Iraq Was Bill Clinton’s War?

As news reports of the death of nine more U.S. troops hit the airwaves, and a political war-funding bill is advancing from the Democratic Congress to the President, one has to wonder where we go from here. 

The White House is slowly, but surely, moving the date for an evaluation of ‘the surge’ later into the fall so to have as much leverage as they can over the course of events.  Congressional politicians seem hamstrung between the grassroots anger over the war, and the silly notion that to get tough over funding the war is somehow a slap in the face of the troops.  I am sure the troops would love a cut in funding the war so they could get back to the states and out of the Iraq civil war.

But it is the GOP Congressional Republicans, and their followers around the nation, that have long mystified me.  In their hearts they know this war is dangerous for the long-term foreign policy goals of the United States.  They know the war was the result of flawed Intel, and even lies told by high officials to further the neo-conservative plans of the Bush White House.  And yet they follow with blind loyalty the desires of President Bush.  Why? 

The ‘why’ leads me to my final thought. 

Had Bill Clinton orchestrated this war would all the current war talk by the GOP be supportive of him?  Would all these conservative talk show hosts and crazy bloggers on the right be sending up prayers of support for Bill Clinton as he waged his war?  I mean if the war is just as the GOP claims, and their rhetoric is correct that the terrorists are just waiting to leave Iraq to travel to Chicago if we were to pull our troops out, then the GOP would need to support Clinton’s war. Yeah, right!  The GOP would storm the White House with anger if this same Iraq War scenario had played out with a Democrat in the White House.

This Republican war is all about politics!  The GOP has played fast and reckless with the lives of American soldiers.  Today we are closing in on 3,500 dead American soldiers. So why is it so scary for the Democrats to stand up and be bold on behalf of the American voters who cast a ballot to end the war last November?   Republicans have always been better at looking past the voters by disregarding them, and following their own self-serving path.  American history proves this time and again.  Democrats need to be just as bold and follow the wishes of the electorate. 

End this war.

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Fats Domino Is Back!

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A friend who knows my deep appreciation and fondness for Fats Domino sent me this story about the performers return to the stage this past weekend.  I can almost hear the five-piece horn section playing!  I only wish it had been taped. Fats has a new release “Alive And Kicking” that proves his musical abilities are still top-notch.  It is good to see a decent guy in the entertainment world get such great press.

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Europe Leading The Way Over Gays In Military

The fight over allowing gay men and women to openly serve in the U.S. military is really a non-issue when thought about in a rational manner.  It is when conservative politicians need red meat for a campaign, or a thick-necked soldier with more muscle than education spews bigotry, does the public get to see the emptiness of the argument to prevent gay people from serving in the military. It has baffled me for years how some of these military folks who could never make it through college, but found a home in the military, can be allowed to shape national policy based on their bigotry.  Utterly baffling!

Now I must admit up front I think any parent who counsels their child, gay or straight, to join the military today is doing their child a huge disservice given what the neo-conservatives are doing around the globe.  But putting that aside for a moment, it was interesting to read today that Britain is not finding any problems with allowing gay men and women to serve in the military. From The New York Times.

Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears — about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness — have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue.

At least 24 countries — many of them allies of the United States, and some of them members of the coalition forces fighting alongside Americans — now allow gay soldiers to serve openly in their armed forces.

Some Britons said they could not understand why the United States had not changed its policy.

“I find it strange, coming from the land of the free and freedom of speech and democracy, given the changes in the world attitude,” said the gay squadron leader, who recently returned from Afghanistan. “It’s just not the issue it used to be.”

Until its policy changed, the British military had deep misgivings about allowing homosexuals to serve openly in its armed forces. But it had no choice. It was forced to by a European court, which ruled that its policy of excluding homosexuals violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

“There was a lot of apprehension among some senior personnel that there would be an increase in things like bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation, and some of them were almost predicting that the world was going to come to an end,” the Defense Ministry official said.

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Time For Immigration Reform

The political fact is clear for all to see.  IF there is going to be a bill to reform the immigration concerns of America it needs to be done now.  While there is a real possibility to pass a comprehensive bill in the summer of 2007, there will be no ability to do so as we get closer to the 2008 presidential election.  And the President will sign this bill!  It is a sad state of affairs to know that the legislative branch is only capable of heavy lifting on the big issues when far enough away from an election.   Many in Congress are not the epitome of bravery or leadership.  I tend to think that most voters want their member of Congress to do what is right, not politically expedient.  But elected officials often reverse that ethical equation which brings me back to my first sentence.

No one can deny the need for a sweeping answer to our immigration concerns.  In order to get a bill on such an onerous issue all sides will need to compromise.  I find myself at odds with portions of the new proposal such as making temporary workers leave the country only to reapply for entry down the road.  The fact that our nation needs some 400,000-600,000 temporary workers proves the importance of these people to our economy and our communities.  On the other hand I applaud the nonimmigrant visa process that will bring out of the shadows those individuals who are friends and taxpayers and wish to be a full member of our society.  The ability for all sides in Congress to show leadership and perfect the art of compromise will be instructive.

To see Mitt Romney who is running for president placing ads with a racist fear factor shows America the problematic side to reaching a consensus bill.  If the right wing can spin and demonize the bill loud enough, and long enough, the hope for legislative action will be gone.  And the status quo will remain.

After watching Romney spin I am left with one question for him and for other conservatives who foam at the mouth on this issue.  Why would they be willing to spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on a fence that has no chance of working, and undermine family values that the right-wing supposedly champions, when a more comprehensive approach could be negotiated.  Could it be that the heat and rhetoric they hope to generate is calculated to undermine the work that Congress is paid to do, just to insure their own poll numbers might get a bump in their respective races?

This whole process is all very instructive by showing America who the leaders are, as opposed to those with the desire to just live in Washington and blow hot air.

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