Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vast Clinton Conspiracy

During the Democratic Convention in 2004, after 4 years of Bush -- who we witnessed win the presidency through, among other shady dealings, some deliberate voter disenfranchisement in Florida and the decision of the Supreme Court not to allow Florida to recount, despite the apparent win of the popular vote by Al Gore -- when the nation became aware of one young charismatic state representative named Barack Obama, when he gave that first inspiring speech about the audacity of hope, I turned to my friend and husband and said, "The Democrats still think politics is about a fair fight. But the Republicans have already proven they are willing to do anything to win, including cheating and breaking the law. If the democrats want to win another presidential election, they will have to wake up and smell the coffee. They will have to use the same dirty tactics the republicans are now using. And I don't know if I want to be associated with that." Of course, the republicans went on to employ even dirtier tactics in the 2004 election, this time using a combination of tricks, including voter disenfranchisement, election rigging via electronic voting machines, and stifling investigations of republican fraud by ousting several US attorneys and replacing them with political operatives. You remember that, right? I think this, as the articles below illustrate, is my "I told you so" moment (admit it, we all love those!).

From the Daily Kos:

Now, one decade after Scaife’s operation nearly removed her husband from office, Hillary Clinton has reached a rapprochement with the reclusive owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Last weekend Hillary Clinton accepted Scaife’s endorsement in the Pennsylvania primary, offered in the pages of the Tribune-Review. She had pursued the endorsement since last month, earning it after sitting down with Scaife and publicly attacking Barack Obama for attending Trinity United Church of Christ.

One day after Scaife’s endorsement, Newsmax, a Scaife-owned media outlet, began pushing a new negative smear campaign against Obama, attempting to portray him as "weak" on the war on terror because he opposes the death penalty.

And from The Nation:

How proud the Clintonistas must be. They have learned how to rival what Hillary once termed the "vast right-wing conspiracy" in the effort to destroy a viable Democratic leader who dares to stand in the way of their ambitions. The tactics used to kneecap Barack Obama are the same as had been turned on Bill Clinton in earlier times, from radical-baiting associates to challenging his resolve in protecting the nation from foreign enemies. Senator Clinton's eminently sensible and centrist--to a fault--opponent is now viewed as weak and even vaguely unpatriotic because he is thoughtful. Neither Karl Rove nor Dick Morris could have done a better job.

I am ambivalent about the two candidates currently vying for the Democratic nomination (but one of them has the moral high ground, here, that's for sure). Although I'm still conflicted about taking part in such dirty politics, I am not about to vote for Ralph Nader -- although he is my ideological choice -- and I have every intention of voting for Clinton if she gets the nomination. This election is too important. I think Obama has a chance to win without the dirty political games that Clinton is now playing. But whomever gets the nod, we MUST get behind them and get them elected, then work to bring that administration into alignment with our collective ethos.

Here's my Free Will horoscope for this week:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "Opinion is really the lowest form of human
knowledge," says educator Bill Bullard. "It requires no accountability, no
understanding. The highest form of knowledge . . . is empathy, for it
requires us to suspend our egos and live in another's world. It requires
profound, purpose-larger-than-the-self kind of understanding." In that
spirit, Scorpio, I encourage you to renounce three of your opinions,
preferably those that are least-well-informed and not rooted in first-hand
experience. I also challenge you to carry out a week-long experiment
based on the following hypothesis: Expanding your capacity for empathy
will make you smarter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Engineer's Guide to Cats

My face hurts from laughing (find it here if it doesn't work on this blog)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ill-advised unilateral assault

Does that sound familiar? The story about how the Iraqi army unilateraly and ineffectively attacked Muslim militias in Basra last week has been in the news every day since it happened last week. I've heard comments like al-Maliki went in unprepared, expecting the US army to come to the rescue if they got into trouble. Watching "Bush's War" on Frontline a couple/few weeks ago, thousands of Americans found out that that was exactly Rumsfeld's strategy, get in, oust Saddam, get out, and let the surrounding Arab countries sort out the mess. This is from the Washington Post last week.

BAGHDAD, April 3 -- When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched an offensive in Basra last week, he consulted only his inner circle of advisers. There were no debates in parliament or among his political allies. Senior American officials were notified only a few days before the operation began. . . . A week later, his ultimately unsuccessful gambit has exposed the shaky foundation upon which U.S. policy in Iraq rests after five years of war, according to politicians and analysts. . . . "It was ill-advised and ill-timed," said Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman. "I think Maliki had a setback and America had a setback because Iran and Moqtada al-Sadr were victorious."

NPR's Steve Inskeep spoke to Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan, this morning. West characterized al-Maliki's move as "highly erratic" and as coming from a man with a "huge ego, who says, 'I'm the commander in chief around here'" and done in a way as to show himself "so full of himself he does not take wise council."

Five years ago there were some other people (and maybe some of the same people, too) lamenting about another ill-advised adventure on a much larger scale, carried out by an unprepared army, lead by a commander in chief who was so full of himself he didn't take wise council. But in my web meanderings these last several days I haven't come across any other journalist or commentator -- or democrat, for that matter -- making that oh-so-obvious comparison.

Have commentators and journalists gotten so completely blase about the cluster-fuck we call the Iraq War that they are completely missing this easy target? Bush and McCain actually praised it, which should tell you something.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Off to see the Wizard

We are grousing through a colder-than-usual spring here in the Midwest, with temps in the thirties and forties, but that hasn't kept people from shedding their parkas and hoods in favor of shorts and shirtsleeves.

Pat and I are planning a very-last-minute trip to Australia in June. I got a great fare last week --which I then promptly squandered by adding an extra day to the trip. It will be paid for with travel savings, belt-tightening, a small tax refund (although bigger than we've ever received), and our portion of the economic stimulus package (stimulating Air New Zealand).

I got the wild hair one day and bought the tickets the next. Then I remembered we hadn't gotten our passports renewed, like I'd intended back in December! We took care of that first thing the next morning. Now we're holding our breath until they arrive in the mail . . .

Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool

It's still winter. As in "winter," "late winter" and "still winter," as it was put by the MPR meteorologist last week. It's 32 degrees with a fresh glazing of snow, enough snow that the plows were out last night, and my driveway had to be shoveled access the garage after work, then again this morning for me to get out. It's a really beautiful morning, with a soft blue sky and airy, innocuous clouds offsetting trees frosted with snow. A perfect December morning.