Friday, November 25, 2005

Looking Forward

Today’s unprecedented chaos that defines the White House is concurrently a positive signal for Democrats seeking to unseat enough Republicans in either the House or Senate or both to regain the majority. Yet, the perception of the Democrats is of a party with no plans and much dissention, an image enthusiastically carried forward by the national media.

Is the Democratic Party capable of taking advantage of the administrations recent drop in the polls? Normally, it would be a forgone conclusion that certain gains could be made by the opposition party when the party in power runs into trouble but, how likely is that scenario today? As chaotic as the Bush administration has proven to be, the message the public continues to hear is of the divided and disorganized Democratic Party. When and if, the media does regain any modicum of credibility we should expect an equality of criticism or praise of both parties, honesty and accuracy in reporting and facts reported faithfully from a viewpoint of impartiality.

In spite of slanted media coverage, Democrats are still in a position to make gains in the 2006 elections and should do everything in their power to avail themselves of the opportunity. Senator Joe Lieberman’s recent speech advocating Bush’s talking points is an example of what Democrats must not do. Lieberman’s failed Vice Presidential campaign and his failure to acknowledge the immorality of the Iraq war and the dishonesty of its conception has rendered him ineffectual in government and pathetic within his own party.

It is vital for Democrats to endorse credible candidates with established qualifications and a publicized aversion to Bush’s war agenda. Certainly, Democrats stand for much more than opposing the Iraq war, but without holding majority control in Congress they will not be able to get anything accomplished. Their success in the coming campaigns will require unity and a central message that will resonate with all Americans, and of all the issues that face us today, none is more crucial, more devastating or more important to the country than the ongoing debacle in Iraq.

This undeniable truth is regrettably overlooked by several leading Democrats, several that could be contenders for their party’s nomination for president. This is the case for both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Although both of these senators enjoy strong support and would mount a strong challenge to any opposition candidate, they are both less than stellar advocates against the war. And neither should receive their party’s support for the nomination unless they reverse those positions.

I may be more disappointed in Hillary than I am in Biden. After all, Biden sold out his own constituents, along with the rest of the nation, on the bankruptcy bill and no one believes that it had nothing to do with the immense presence of MBNA, the bill’s primary lobbyist, in his home state. His proven pliability to corporate pressure should warn potential supporters that Biden’s vote is for sale to the highest bidder.

Hillary has become an unbelievable disappointment after having shown incredible promise as a true Liberal. Her principled advocacy of national health insurance earned her massive vilification by the Republicans and the big pharmaceutical companies, but elevated her status among average citizens. But, now she has decided to ally herself with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and join them in their support for the Iraq war.

The DLC is nothing more than the business interests attempting to take over the Democratic Party the way the energy, pharmaceutical and other corporate interests have taken over the Republicans. The DLC has been called Republican Lite, but it should more accurately be called "Demonizing Liberals Constantly". They are so close to the conservative agenda it is hard to differentiate one from the other. So, if Hillary believes she needs to ally herself with people like these and take up the banner for continued carnage in Iraq, I for one support her choice as long as she runs for office as the Republican nominee.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

International Consequences

Now that Democrats are beginning to voice their opinion about the Iraq war and the administration lies that lead us into that war, perhaps we will learn the real reason we are there. Of course, that information will not be supplied freely by those who know the answers. Instead, it will be uncovered by investigations such as that of independent prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and possibly other congressional committees if the Republicans are finally prepared to allow an actual non-partisan action to take place.

For the American people, this information is gravely overdue and it is their right to be informed truthfully about the facts and determinations that propelled us into war. Nothing we were originally told turned out to be true, no WMD’s, no alliance between Iraq and Al Qaeda and no reconstituted nuclear program. Information uncovered since the start of the war is also very disturbing. The alleged torture of prisoners, imprisonment of supposed terrorists denied all legal rights and held without benefit of legal representation or even told the charges for their detention. Finally, the abuse of the system by well connected corporations like Haliburton and other war profiteers who also enjoy immune status granted by Congress.

The damage inflicted on our democracy by this irresponsible administration is incalculable but, we will need to determine the extent of it as best we can so that we can begin the task of correcting it. This includes the United States’ relations with the rest of the world. Bush’s cowboy policies have estranged us from other nations and taxed our friendship with traditional allies. If we are to mend these and other issues caused by Bush’s arrogance and unilateralism we must be willing to openly investigate all aspects of our government’s actions and be resolved to hold responsible all those who have violated U.S. and International laws.

However, America’s actions and their consequences are not confined to our country alone. We, as a country, attacked another sovereign nation for less than truthful reasons and solicited the participation of other nations in doing so. International intelligence agencies have been implicated for faulty information and falsified documents have been exchanged between certain countries which contributed to the decision to go to war. Because of the international involvement and the strife it has caused citizens of certain other countries it is only fitting that the findings of any investigations and the resultant charges, if any, should be tried in an international court of law.

To accomplish this, it is necessary to undo one of Bush’s first acts as president which was to withdraw from the United States from the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction by cancelling an agreement signed by President Clinton. The reason for Bush’s action becomes clear now that his agenda has been exposed for the imperialistic power grab it has proven to be. Also disconcerting is the recent senate vote (49 to 42) to overturn the US Supreme Court’s 2004 ruling that permits Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detentions. This effectively removes the rule of habeas corpus which prevents the government from simply detaining its opponents. You can be damn sure no Republican would have voted for this if the Democrats were in the majority. However, it is not just the Republican Party that is in control of the executive and legislative branches of government but, it is a Republican majority led by a Neoconservative faction intent on keeping power and re-structuring government into a single party system with monarch style authority.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina sponsored this legislation that signals the death of civil liberties of Americans due to the demands of the “Global War on Terrorism”. In the Neoconservative view, what are civil liberties but legal tricks that allow criminals and terrorists to escape? Graham wants the power to imprison anyone the government considers dangerous, without explanation and for as long as they see fit. To give this authority to an administration that has already demonstrated its willingness to misinform the public by “news” clips produced by the government, to smear anyone that disagrees with their policies, and to heap one lie on top of another, all with amnesty assured through the criminal inactions of a complicit congress, is truly an act deserving of impeachment and conviction for violating his oath of office. If he has forgotten what that oath was, the salient points are “To protect and to defend the constitution of the United States of America”.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What's the message

With the recent indictment of Vice Presidential Chief of Staff, I. Lewis (scooter) Libby, it has become undeniable that this administration has, at the very least, looked the other way when illegal activity has occurred or has actively promoted such activity as part of its overall strategy. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has broken through the Neoconservative iron curtain of secrecy just enough to give us a glimpse of what kind of nefarious activities have been taking place in lieu of the business of government.

Republicans have defended Bush and his administration from allegations of improprieties since he took office and in doing so, many have gone to extents they would not have previously been comfortable with. The discipline within the ranks of the Republicans has become well known and demonstrated by their strict adherence to conservative talking points, on message dialogue, and coerced party line voting actions such as the one on the Medicare Bill that earned the Hammer, Tom DeLay a rebuke from the faint-hearted ethics committee.

However, as more people come to the realization that the war in Iraq is not going well and that there is not now, and never has been a plan for victory nor an exit strategy for our troops, the haze of misjudgment slowly clears from the minds of many former Bush supporters and questions begin to arise as to how they were able to be taken in and what made them so adamant in their support of this administration. How could otherwise law abiding, patriotic citizens like themselves have come to accept the attack upon a sovereign nation that had done nothing to provoke such an attack? How could they continue to support the war and occupation when it was discovered the reasons for going to war had been manufactured. How could they justify putting the lives of our young men and women of the military into serious jeopardy in furtherance of a political policy of aggression that the majority of Americans despise and the majority of the world community is at odds with?

There have always been a certain number of hard right conservative wing-nuts supporting Bush and who would continue to do so if he were to conduct beheadings of Democrats in front of the Washington Monument. There is a like number of extreme leftists that will never be satisfied as well. These are not the groups being reflected in the changing poll numbers though. Those numbers are more accurately reflecting the mood of the American moderates.

The moderates are the swing votes of the local, state and national elections because they remain open minded instead of backing candidates simply by party affiliation. The extreme elements from either political end of the spectrum are not the people that can be easily, if at all, influenced by the messages from the other party. Moderates can be and are affected by the messages, the daily events in the news, the opinions of their families and friends, their faith and concern that the country is moving in the right direction.

And the polls tell us that these moderates are dissatisfied with the war in Iraq. With each new bit of information uncovered through tenacious reporting, the foreign press or Fitzgerald’s investigation the poll numbers drop further for Bush and his failed policies. It is this group of voters who will have the greatest effect on the next presidential election.

Both Republicans and Democrats are pursuing this block of voters, but the Right is doing so by attempting to scare them into believing the lies about the war on terror that have caused them to rethink their position in the first place. Democrats are pursuing them as well, but is the message the right one and are they making themselves heard? We will find out in 2006.