jump to navigation

Howard Dean and the 2006 Elections November 9, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in bush administration, politics.
6 comments

With Sen. George Allen’s concession speech today, the Democrats have officially taken over the House and Senate. The Democrats were able to pull off wins in many red states that were wrote-off in 2004: Virginia and Montana to name a couple. No single person deserves more credit for this victory than Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Governor Dean had faced harsh criticism for his “50 State Plan,” which hoped to make the Democrats more competitive in states considered to be solid red. Dean began building grassroots infrastructure in all 50 states to the ire of many beltway Democrats who wanted more money for close races. Dean was stubborn… and it paid off.

Although Dems were optimistic even a few months before the election, they had failed to predict kicking out many of the Republican incumbents who were ousted on Tuesday. Without Dean’s infrastructure already on the ground in these conservative states, it is entirely possible that the party would not have realized the potential to pick up these states and districts until it was too late to catch up. Because the personnel was trained and on the ground, the grassroots could kick into action instead of spending weeks on administrative organizing. Many of the Democrats in the conservative districts won by a very narrow margin… would they have pulled it off without the “50 State Plan”?

Other Democrats deserve a lot of credit also, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi. But it was the vision of Howard Dean (and the other architects of the “50 State Plan”) that helped create such a healthy Democratic margin in the House, and he most likely set the Democrats up to succeed in 2008. With Democratic governors now in the majority, the party will have great infrastructure in place for the presidential election.

It has been an extraordinary couple of days. Optimism has returned to us alienated progressives! It’ll be nice talking about health care, minimum wage and ethics reform instead of the Federal Marriage Amendment, English as the official language and a flag burning amendment. What a joke the last Congress was. Now let’s hope both the Democrats and Bush can work together to get something done.

Check out my earlier post which talks more about Dean’s “50 State Plan”.

Bush the “Devil” and the “Axis of Evil” September 21, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in bush administration, congress, international, politics.
4 comments

In what will most likely be the most notable speech during this session of the United Nations General Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez referred to President Bush as the devil. Speaking at the same podium at which Bush had spoke earlier, Chávez said, “It smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.”

Apparently, the comments were met with applause from many of the diplomats in the General Assembly, a stark reminder of the tremendous increase in anti-American sentiment since the invasion of Iraq. Although Chávez’s comments sounded immature and inappropriate for the UN, the Bush administration and its friends often use the same simplistic, unproductive and mind-numbing rhetoric. Some examples:

  • In August 2005, televangelist and buddy of the Christian right Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Hugo Chávez. Robertson: “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

  • In Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, he cut off an opportunity for constructive dialogue by calling Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil”. The phrase may have gone over well in the U.S., but I don’t believe anti-American sentiment was lessened by branding entire countries and its people as evil. Bush: “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”

  • When the French government realized Iraq was a mistake years before the majority of Americans did, Republican lawmakers decided to get even by changing the name of the House cafeteria french fries to “freedom fries”. Aside from making ourselves the laughing-stock of the entire world, we further isolated ourselves from one of the most important countries on our dwindling list of allies. Now disgraced Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio): “This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France.” Apparently House Republicans forgot we would have no “freedom” at all if France hadn’t won the Revolutionary War for us.

  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared Hugo Chávez to Adolf Hitler earlier this year: “I mean, we’ve got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money. He’s a person who was elected legally — just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally — and then consolidated power…”. Owns lots of oil. Was elected legally. Consolidated power under one person. Sounds like an American president I know.

This is not a defense of the comments Hugo Chávez made at the General Assembly. These are examples of American leadership destroying dialogue with other nations through the use of loud-mouthed rhetoric that does nothing but hurt the world’s view of America. Hugo Chávez, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Pat Robertson and GOP House members need to quit the back-and-forth bullshit and engage in constructive conversations that will find compromise, not further anger. It probably took days for the Bush team to come up with and get approved the ‘axis of evil’ statement. Could these few days have been used to attempt to build bridges instead of testing angry rhetoric? I don’t expect miracles to happen overnight, but we need to move in the right direction before we come any closer to world peace.

Karl Rove’s Gay Daddy September 7, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in bush administration, lgbt Issues, politics.
3 comments

According to the book The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power, White House political strategist Karl Rove had a gay stepfather who he was close with up until his death in July of 2004.

That news alone is not surprising – most Americans have gay or lesbian family members – but it is particularly revealing considering Rove was the “mastermind” behind using gay and lesbian lives for political gain. Karl Rove encouraged anti-gay conservatives to propose anti-marriage equality ballot initiatives in an attempt to bring out socially conservative voters in the 2004 election. He used and exploited the lives of millions of Americans, including his stepfather, so that George Bush could return to the White House.

The book says Rove was a “loving and attentive son who periodically visited his stepfather in Palm Springs, often having dinner with Louis and his friends, including other retired gay men in the community.”

It seems as if Rove, like Dick Cheney, allowed Republicans to exploit and demonize gay and lesbian family members in an attempt to distract voters from real issues. Although Dick Cheney quietly spoke against the Federal Marriage Amendment, most sources believe he did nothing to change George Bush’s support of the anti-gay legislation.

Republicans have attempted to make the term “family values” synonymous with their party. Especially since neither Rove nor Cheney appear to have disliked their gay family members, it seems outrageous (and dare I say “anti-family values”), to betray these relatives. Karl Rove has actively targeted the gay and lesbian community over the past few years, and Cheney has refused to explain why a ban on same-sex marriage hurts real families. I wouldn’t expect them to abandon the party in protest, but defending their family members on one issue does not seem to be asking too much.

What Others Are Saying:

Andrew Sullivan: Karl Rove’s Adopted Dad

Good As You: Report: Rove Tried to Have ‘Gay Father’ Text Yanked

Huffington Post: Karl Rove’s Father and my Gay Dilemma

Why the War was Immoral: Parallels to Vietnam September 4, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in bush administration, iraq, military, politics.
2 comments

I am not usually one to speak of politics in terms of “morality”. The word “morality” is most often times grossly subjective and has been distorted by fundamentalists and others to bring great harm to the United States. That said, I just finished a New Republic article from April 29, 1985 titled Why the War was Immoral. Written by Hendrick Hertzberg, the article argues that the war in Vietnam was both unwinnable and immoral.

As the war in Iraq rages on and a new Pentagon report paints a bleak outlook, it is impossible to read the 1985 New Republic article without noticing the tremendous similarities between Hertzberg’s view of Vietnam and the current situation in Iraq. Here are some observations from the article, with my commentary beneath:

Parellel #1:

There were always two main arguments in favor of the war: the geopolitical and the “moral.” The war’s aftermath has undermined the first argument but has seemingly strengthened the second.

Although it is difficult to keep straight the alleged “reasons” we went to war in Iraq (ie, weapons of mass destruction, 9/11, etc), it is clear that many of the reasons for invading Iraq were argued as geopolitical or “moral”. As critics of the war became more vocal, the Bush administration and other neocons told us it was our country’s moral duty to rid Iraq of its brutal dictator. Although Saddam Hussein is an awful person that killed thousands of his own people, the “moral” justification was an after-thought… the moral argument came as the original justifications proved false.

The geopolitical argument has also gained favor among the neocons. They argue that pulling out of Iraq would create instability in the entire region. This same argument was used in Vietnam, and when we pulled out, southeast Asia did not become a solid communist block.

As the war rages on, so to speak, it has become increasingly obvious that America will have to leave Iraq, not enter it, for moral reasons.

Parellel #2:

…the argument for will: we needed to go on fighting in Vietnam in order to demonstrate our resolve and reliability. This argument implicitly recognized that the fate of Vietnam was, by itself, peripheral to the national security of the United States.

Americans have listened to George W. Bush use the words “resolve” and “national security” for almost five years now. He claims leaving Iraq would harm America’s image and leave the country open to terrorist attacks. His argument fails to point out that America was safer before we entered Iraq, and that our image as both militarily strong and morally superior has faltered because of the failed foreign policy. Leaving Vietnam did not seriously diminish our security at home… the same is likely with Iraq.

Parelell #3:

…these arguments rest on the assumption that there was a point at which North Vietnam, having calculated that the actual costs of war were exceeding the prospective benefits of victory, would have stopped the fighting… [North Vietnamese] were prepared to accept limitless casualties to attain their sacred objective…

If the North Vietnamese were willing to accept limitless casualties, if they were willing to pay any price, then the war could not have been won except by the physical destruction of North Vietnam and the killing of a large portion of its people.

Bush loves to talk about “defeating the terrorists”, as if some threshold will be reached in which they lay down their arms and say “enough is enough”. We are not fighting a rational enemy or a standing army in Iraq. These people have proven they are willing to kill fellow citizens to drive America troops out of their country. Just as we continued to fight the North Vietnamese until we were disgusted by American causalities, the same is likely to happen in Iraq. Insurgents, like the North Vietnamese during Vietnam, are willing to accept limitless casualties to win its jihadist-like war. Human lives are less valuable to terrorists than to the American people (notice I did not say the American government), and public opinion has already shown that Americans will reach the final threshold before any insurgent groups do.

Parallel #4:

It wasn’t cowardice that finally impelled us to quit. It was conscience.

Republicans love to paint anti-war Democrats as weak on terrorism, unpatriotic or untrusting of American military power. Anti-war Democrats are not cowards… they have a reality-based look at Iraq and their conscience is telling them we have overstepped our bounds. Anti-war advocates want the best for Iraq and America, but do not see the continued conflict being beneficial to either countries.

*******

In the brilliantly written New Republic article, Hendrick Hertzberg defends his criticism of the Vietnam War by saying he cares about America and its place in the world. He is not the anti-American dissenter that neocons love to portray him as. The same is true today. Vietnam war opponents and those against the war in Iraq are extremely patriotic, having to face extreme hostility to defend their belief in what is best for the country.

It is time to fight for America by stop fighting. This is patriotic. As Herzberg said: it is time “to wash the flag, not burn it.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Harming the War on Terror July 27, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in bush administration, lgbt Issues, military.
1 comment so far

The Bush administration has made sure the entire world knows the immense threat terrorists and Islamic extremists pose to world peace. Controversial domestic spying programs have been initiated to combat the threat: wire-tapping, scanning financial transactions and purchasing extensive phone records from America’s largest wireless phone providers. Despite concerns over privacy rights, the administration has argued in times of war, drastic steps are often taken to protect the nation.

One of the largest obstacles to fighting the war on terror has been the communications gap between intelligence services in the United States and Islamic extremists abroad. As Newsweek reported recently, it has been difficult for the government to find the Arabic speakers necessary to effectively monitor the thousands of communications between potential terrorists worldwide. The language-barrier has been an on-going challenge for the FBI, CIA and Department of Defense.

Despite the almost desperate need for qualified Arabic-speaking intelligence officers, a 30-year-old decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed by the U.S. Army last January. Sgt. Bleu Copas had served his country for almost four years, saying he joined up because he wanted to fight for America after the horrific events of September 11th. Now, this valuable player in the war on terror is job-hunting with discharge papers in hand.

Sgt. Copas was not dismissed because of harassment, sexual assault or any of the other problems that have plagued our military in recent years. He was dismissed because a fellow servicemember sent an email to his superior that claimed Copas was gay. After confirming the email’s assertion, Copas was honorably discharged from the U.S. military under the government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was enacted during the Clinton administration as a compromise bill – Clinton wanted gay and lesbian people to be able to serve openly in the military and conservative members of Congress hoped to maintain the ban on gay members. The compromise allowed gay and lesbian people to serve in the military, but forbid them from telling a soul about their sexual orientation.

In the last year, 726 servicemembers were kicked out of the military because they are gay or lesbian. Since the World Trade Center fell, 55 Arabic language specialists have been dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

At a time when Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are infiltrating the military in record numbers, the U.S. government is dismissing invaluable Arabic-speaking gays and lesbians simply because of their sexual orientation. Aside from disrespecting gay and lesbian people serving the country, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has compromised the Bush administration’s war on terror. The government faces an immense task in controlling Islamic extremists, yet precious resources are being thrown out the door because of a policy that relies on blatant discrimination.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” needs to be repealed because it places our country in greater danger and discriminates against people who fight for a free and fair America. The military has never had to follow civilian laws, including legislation banning discrimination, but that does not mean “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is what’s best for the country. There are many reasons “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should be repealed, and only one preventing it from happening: homophobia.

If the Bush administration truly believes the war on terror is a higher priority than pleasing social conservatives, he would immedialtely call for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. His extremist base may hate the idea of gay and lesbian servicemembers being treated as equal, but pleasing his base should not take priority over valuable men and women who are willing to fight the war on terror.

Find out more at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.