Thursday, June 30, 2005

World Powers, Gay Marriage, and Iraq: The Sequel

The past two days have been massive coverage of Iraq. Most news groups and op/ed pieces are still focused on Iraq, and maybe 90% of these pieces are rehashes from people jumping on the "I hate Bush and Iraq" bandwagon. So I'll touch briefly on some of the more novel subjects I read.

The political analysts and experts(the actual ones, not greasy pundits) have released their judgment of Bush's speech. They more or less agree it was transparently patronizing and trying to play off of patriotic and fearful sentiments. Terrorism expert David Rothkopf, as reported by the AFP, referred to it as "unvarnished demagoguery." Cutting through the polysyllabic vocabulary, he basically calls Bush out on shamelessly playing off the public's emotions, which I agree with completely. The strategy isn't working anymore; people have become jaded to and even offended by references to 9/11, and Bush needs to find another avenue for support. Of course, major Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi were the first to criticize Bush for implying this connection (note: He never came out and stated there was a connection, leaving breathing room for interpretation or a CYA (cover your ass) retreat), and the moderate-to-liberal media were quick to quote them as well as assert this on their own.
More Democrats and Republicans are questioning Bush on his decision not to send more troops to secure the borders and quell the resistance. John McCain in particular was quick to point out that more troops from the beginning would have made a large difference in the outcome of the war. Kerry and Reid, among other Congressmen, have said that when they spoke to all ranks of enlisted men and officers, the main complaint was that they didn't have enough personnel to accomplish their tasks. Perhaps Bush needs to begin listening to the generals who are actually in combat instead of the ones sitting on his advisory board. The main problem here, though, isn't Bush's concern that it would send the wrong message, as he expounded in his speech; the reason we cannot send more troops is that we are already stretched too thin. Enlistment rates are dropping. We don't have near enough soldiers in the field as we should, and recruiters have three choices:
1) Target kids 16-18 and try to manipulate them into joining the army. This has been attempted, and actually, as a hidden part of the No Child Left Behind act (the worst thing ever... all the best teachers at my school left after that act was enacted and enforced), the government is allowed to collect information about high schoolers (grades, race, studies, basically anything the school knows), and parents, though you can tell the school not to send the information to the government, they still will sell it to a private company, who then sells it to the government. Basically there is NOTHING you can do to prevent this. Anyways, they've been doing this for 3 years now, and it's not effective. That's where option 2, the actual decent option, comes in.
2) Repeal the arbitrary restrictions in place that discriminate against groups. Allow the women on the front lines. They are looking to join the army, and the less desirable position there is stuck as a base medic or on KP. They joined to serve their country in battle, not serve their male counterparts their rations. Also, that DADT policy needs to go. Some 10,000 servicemen have been kicked out of the military because their sexual orientation was discovered. That's at least 6% of what's in Iraq now, enough to cover a large stretch of the already porous border. The insurgents are joining foreign nationals, and the number one way to end their attacks is to never let them into the country. Also, allow the non-citizens to fight. Many immigrants have difficulty finding jobs in our dribbling economy, and enlistment offers a large bonus in addition to a better case for citizenship. If they defend our country, they are practically guaranteed our rights as well.
3) Offer a better enlistment incentive. If you increase the pay and enlistment bonus (a proposal is underway right now to raise the top enlistment bonus to $40,000), more kids just out of high school or dropped out will choose the army as a beginning to their career. You might also attract the kids who can get into college but can't afford it. With financial aid as unreliable it is, there are many kids just sitting at home with part-time jobs waiting desperately for their chance at higher education. Of course, offering more pay would require a tax raise. But really, when's the last time out country went to war while simultaneously lowering taxes? War and taxes go hand in hand for a stable economy...
--- Bush's Iraq-terrorism link faces skeptical US public
--- Democrats: Bush wrong on troops, 9/11
--- US Invades Kids' Privacy
--- If Uncle Sam Wants You He Has to Be Able to Find You

Ok, so I focused on Iraq more than I said I would... so sue me. Let's go to the world for a bit:

I read possibly the most intelligent assessment of foreign aid I have ever had the pleasure of clicking. I don't want to dilute it, so please, if you have time, click the link below and read it for yourself. It's critical of the Live 8, but it just makes so much sense to me.
--- A Way to Feed the World

Regarding the G8: Blair wants to address global warming as a main topic, especially the Kyoto Potocol. Bush, however, still rejects the motion, saying that the protocol will destroy jobs in the US. Honestly, we've already spread so many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that global warming is unavoidable. The gases will take hundreds of years to react and recombine into something less harmful to the earth, and by that point temperature change will already take effect. That and, although the US produces about 24% of the world's greenhouse gases, a large amount of the future gas will be produced by developing countries such as India and China, countries that will not abide by any limits the G8 sets. Bush's alternate proposal, unfortunately, was terribly misguided. Congress has passed essentially the largest setback in environmental policy we could ever imagine. Expanding coal mining in the US? Drilling in the Alaskan Ecological Reserve? Take a hint from Europe, Bush. France is dotted with nuclear power plants. How many disasters have you heard of there? Scotland just approved a 209-turbine wind power farm. That alone is an enormous amount of energy that has little drawback. Think of all that open space on the plains in the midwest... oh, and Cheney? If you want the public to trust your energy advisors, give us the names of who they are... otherwise we'll just assume they're some oil industry goons.
--- Bush faces tough time at G8 over global warming

Also regarding the US popularity in the world, an analysis by Ted Rall of a recent Pew Research study from around the world, 15,000 citizens in 15 countries. Our popularity is at an all-time low, and many nations view us similarly to the way we viewed Germany in World War 2. We have become, as Rall puts it, "the biggest danger to peace and stability on the planet." For evidence, I point you no further than the situation in Iraq. Before we invaded, the only violent threat in Iraq was Saddam's standing army. We invade, depose Saddam from his throne, and not even a year later members of all the surrounding countries are joining the insurgents and terrorists and pouring into Iraq. Many countries that were indifferent to us in the Middle East are now criticizing our efforts, taking backward steps in their progressively democratic campaigns in spite of (or perhaps because of) our attempts to bring peace to the region. We have been assisting Israel for decades now. Where is that conflict headed? The leaders are playing GOTCHA! with us, holding peace talks by day and then attacking each other by night. You would think that in the effort to bring peace, Bush and company would try to be diplomatic to the surrounding nations. Sadly, Condoleeza Rice has embarked on a crusade (what? Bush said it first...) against all of the Islamic-ruled governments, criticizing their rule and their policies. Bush is all but directly threatening Iran with invasion, even though Iran hasn't really done anything except elect the "wrong" guy. He's already bullied up on Afghanistan, a country with little chance to defend itself, and he's eyeballing Syria for future campaigns. Right now, the world trusts Germany, Italy, and Japan more than it trusts us, and no more than 60 years ago we saved the world from that "Axis of Evil." Anyways, I've butchered his story enough. Read up here:

Ah, lets see... gay marriage. Spain and Canada have passed it, the Netherlands and Belgium did awhile back... do you remember when the world looked to the US for progressive reform? Now we're hung up on faith-based morality mixing with our secular government while Spain, a heavily Roman Catholic country, allows gay marriage without a hang-up. 60% of citizens polled there said they fully support it, while 32% dissented. Now compare those numbers with here: 89% of the population believes that gays deserve the same rights as heterosexuals. 60% of the country also supports either gay marriage or same-sex partnerships. This poll was taken when Bush was elected. Now, I realize that several states have passed same-sex marriage bans, but this was due to more trickery than pure homophobia. The gay marriage aspect was only a small portion of the referendum in each state. Most of the issue was marriage security, or the fear that the government would strip away benefits from married couples, playing off the economic considerations of the lower class that would normally support Democratic endeavors. You can read the story for exact numbers and such, but people are getting married later, divorcing more, and forming nonconjugal unions for economic benefit, stretching the safety net of government aid until it will snap. By defining a narrow aspect of marriage as a man and a woman, reducing benefits for domestic partnerships, and forcing businesses to cater only to those clearly defined relationships, the government is saving money and extending benefits for legal unions. The main way to gain support for gay marriage is not to appeal to the moral side, as the Democrats have wrongfully attempted, but to reassure the public that it would not negatively affect such areas as social security (a major point, as a giant safe dangles precariously over that issue already), workers' benefits, and insurance costs. This story is a lengthy one, but it's a good read, and honestly, the Democratic party has wasted time and effort squaring off against the Republican party on moral issues. Grey areas like stem cell research are worth discussing, but to put this issue narrowly on gay rights is like running into a door. You have to open it first, preferably as wide as possible.
--- Beyond Gay Marriage
--- Spain OKs Gay Marriage, Defying Opponents

The GOP is backing what they call non-destructive stem cell research, which basically means trying to extract stem cells from embryos without destroying them. This will yield approximately one good stem cell per embryo... honestly, I don't know what their reasoning is. If you had 100,000 cans of tuna, perfectly good but with nowhere to sell them, do you just throw them away? No, you GIVE them to someone who needs them, say the homeless, or the oft-referred to starving kids in Africa... so if we have 100,000 embryos that are going to be destroyed because they're unusable, why not give them to stem cell research? I know conservatives and such will leap down my throat for comparing "POTENTIAL HUMAN LIFE!!!" to a can of Chicken of the Sea, but seriously, don't be preachy. Just give us one good reason why we should throw them away instead of making use of them. Two-thirds of Americans support embryonic stem cell research. You have a mandate, Mr. President. Listen to the public and stop worrying about your "ethical boundries." Dare I bring up Iraq again?
---GOP Backs Non-Destructive Cell Research

And of course, I'm finally going to comment on the whole reporters refusing to testify and reveal their sources. What I find interesting is, they reported on the fact that Valerie Plame's name was leaked by the administration directly after Plame's husband countered Bush's State of the Union justification for the war, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. Plame's name was already revealed in an earlier column by a very conservative writer named Robert Novak, who claimed his sources were senior officials in Bush's administration. The situation seems even more dubious now that the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency discovered that the documents Bush based his assertion on were fakes.
--- Two US reporters again refuse to testify, face jail in CIA leak case

My final thought: Bush telling Iran that they're not allowed to have uranium, even for peaceful energy endeavors, makes me wish I could draw a political cartoon. Bush's head, in a caricature atop a child's body, selfishly hugging a box of candy. A dozen kids, with N. Korea, Iran, and other countries' names on the backs of their shirts, are jumping around him saying "Lemme have some!" Bush says, "No! You'll get cavities!" as he shovels them into his mouth.

This is my last entry until Monday, July 11th. I have a beach/Blacksburg trip.

Until then,

The Flaming Liberal Atheist Tree-Hugging Hippie Douche.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reaction: Bush, Iraq, the Economy, and the death of Democrats

Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread?

This is possibly the first truly non-partisan analysis of the current situation in Iraq. It offers no religious or political reasoning, nor does it decide that either side was wrong in the debate. It raises interesting points and, though I personally do not agree with the conclusion the author reaches, I wholeheartedly recommend it to any disillusioned person who is tired of the short noise bursts from partisan hacks *ahem* Ann Coulter *cough* and wants to simply be informed.

Notable quote: "when American presidents speak of liberty as God's plan for mankind, even God-fearing Canadians wonder when God began disclosing his plan to presidents."
Notable quote 2: "If democracy plants itself in Iraq and spreads throughout the Middle East, Bush will be remembered as a plain-speaking visionary. If Iraq fails, it will be his Vietnam, and nothing else will matter much about his time in office."

And now to the news:

I realize my past few posts have defined what I think about Bush. However, they give the wrong impression. Let me address this:

I do not think Bush is an inherently bad man. I think he has misguided Christian ideals, has a wrong interpretation of how to use them, and is idealist to a fault. He is obstinate in his beliefs, and he has very little appreciation of the impossibility or reality of his beliefs. He is lucky that much of the country is both Christian and, if not hate-filled, then at least willing to spread violence for a greater cause. I disagree with him on most of his policies and his agenda, especially those that are faith-based, and his complete unwillingness to compromise with any of his opponents is generally infuriating. That said, I would also like to say that I fully believe his administration is corrupt. They "disassemble" (oh!!! Bush-ism for dissemble) whenever they feel something would cause them to lose favor with their dwindling fan base. Karl Rove is absolutely horrible at this. No man spins worse than him. Cheney spouts off things that are highly questionable if not completely false. And Scott McLellan seems all too eager to answer questions from the conservative reporters. Any questions that would require admittance to fault or a straight answer to something contrary to the administration's stance are answered unsatisfyingly and often-times falsely. Point of fact:

Political Cartoon: Mission Accomplished

Basically everyone in the press (except FOXNews and the more conservative papers) are blasting Bush for wasting an opportunity to be honest with the American people. In his speech Tuesday night, according to the press releases leading up to the event, Bush was supposed to reassure the nation of the success in Iraq as well as give a new take on the war. Most of the speech was, sadly, a re-hash of all the press releases and speeches from the past months, and the new topics he did address were both devious and short-sighted. He asked that the American people "stay the course," to offer support and be patient as the war winds down. Unfortunately, there are few signs of the insurgents slowing down. If nothing else, this admission that the US will stay as long as it takes, contrary to Bush's original promise that we would leave once Iraq had established a self-rule, will encourage and infuriate the insurgents even more. He likens them, as Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice have so often before, to the terrorists that attacked us September 11th. The last pillar of truth in Bush's campaign in Iraq, the link he never tried to make between the Taliban's attack on the WTC and Saddam's regime, was finally addressed. Now he is being labeled as a hypocrite, as he can be quoted late September, 2003 saying, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th." There was a poll months ago, I cannot remember who organized it, but Americans were asked about the war in Iraq. Over 50% believed that Saddam Hussein had a connection with the 9/11 crisis, a sad number and misinformation that the administration has done nothing to combat. So this obvious lie has now been thrust upon us by our leader, combined with another lie; the insurgents are not religious crusaders, nor are they Saddam's supporters. They are free Iraqis who object to American presence and feel it is both invasive and dominating. By leaving Iraq, we could save bloodshed now for both our soldiers and the innocent Iraqis.
The Republican supporters in the White House and Congress aren't much help either. They criticize those who are asking for our troops to return home, saying that we don't need to send a "filtered" message of non-support to them. Basically what they say is shut up and lie so our soldiers don't lose their morale. This weak gag order is terrible, especially when they try to play off our sympathies for the soldiers overseas. I wish no harm on our soldiers, though as a liberal the conservative pundits may try to lead you to believe otherwise, but I think the best way to save them and the Iraqis is to bring them back. If you don't think this would help, read this article:

Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber

Within is the voluntary account of a man who has offered his life as a suicide bomber. He says that his goal is not to do harm to America, but to have freedom for his country from the oppressive American occupancy. Those who choose to ignore the Guantanamo accusations of prisoners there will probably dismiss this as well, but please consider it... he was not forced to say this, and his message has been endorsed by several insurgent leaders. They have no grudge against our country; they wish only to be left alone. I do not admire them or condone their actions, but if we leave, they have no reason left to fight. And that is what we're trying to accomplish, right?
So from this point, we have two real choices to calm the insurgency: leave completely, or send more soldiers to kill them all. Bush chooses the middle road, a misguided opinion that counters both his military advice and his constituents' call. He can only pray for a miracle, but for those of us who need something more, we're just out of luck.
--- Democrats critcize Bush Iraq speech, US press says "wasted" opportunity to be honest
--- Bush's No-News Iraq Speech
--- Bush Critics Call for More Troops in Iraq
--- The Big Lie

Political Cartoon: Condoleeza Rice
I know I've mentioned how much I cannot stand Condoleeza Rice. I call her the harpy... her message of freedom and democracy in the Mid-East is being undermined by her own agenda... she has criticized more or less every non-democratic country in the world, yet she refused to offer a stance on the lack of women's rights in Saudi Arabia. Critics believe she doesn't want to attack the fundamental belief that women are inferior in Saudi Arabia, thus losing the country as an ally. But Egypt and Pakistan, the latter whom she recently dealt with to give a passport back to a high-profile rape victim turned women's rights champion, feel that her support of democratic reform and unwillingness to support gender equality are at odds, and they are letting the world know they aren't intimidated. She was quoted as saying, "It's just a line I've never wanted to cross ... The United States has to recognize that even after democratic processes have taken place, places are not going to look like the United States." This is a mixed message that she is sending out: we demand equality for only some of your citizens. By respecting the religious beliefs of the Koran, you must also understand that those beliefs may not lend themselves to a democratic atmosphere. Marrying the two in government is unthinkable. After all, if you want to override religious government in other countries, and this is a problem much of the world sees in America, then why is there a constant struggle by conservatives to infuse Christian beliefs in our own secular government?
---Rice doesn't stand up for Saudi women

Lawmakers voted to close a loophole in laws addressing college loans that allowed federal lenders to take up to 9.5% of the loans and pocket them, taking billions of dollars over the years that should have gone to students. Still, only 42 Republicans in the house voted to close it... the rest voted against the measure. One can only wonder what stake they had in it... I'm kind hoping this had nothing to do with my loss of financial aid... otherwise I'm going to have to add this to my reasons for hating the Republican party at the moment...
--- Ending the College Loan Giveaway

Quick thought: Ethanol 85 is the greatest idea to ever come out of the midwest. Now if only my car would run on it...

Congress is getting a $3100 cost of living raise next year. Cost of living where?

Bill Cosby recently struck out at lower-class black families for having their priorities in the wrong place. I'm not going to summarize or paraphrase, but I will say this: I have to drive through the "black" part of town, with the small, shitty houses and all that, and I see the parents driving around in brand new Cadillacs and the kids walking around in brand new brand name athletic clothing and 300 dollar shoes. Yet most of these kids are dropouts and gang members. Cosby may be a bit harsh, but he has a point when he says the money's not going to the right place...

So the Tobacco Industry is getting off without punishment once again. Originally the Attorney General decided that 130 billion dollars would be fair for them to repay for the marketing to children, lies about health issues, and general conspiracy for maximum profit. Then, inexplicably, the AG dropped the fines down to 14 billion. A few more complaints from the industry and now it seems the charges are going to be dismissed completely. The Justice Department is launching an inquiry as to why the charges were reduced, but chances are they'll be puppeted by interest groups just like the AG was...
--- Tobacco Industry: Drop Case

I hope that the individual investment accounts that Bush is pushing never come into place. People with lesser incomes and levels of education and seniors are the strongest opponents, aside from party-line Democrats, suggesting that they feel they will either not have the knowledge, the ability, or the capital to risk in investments in stocks and such. I for one would like to have a simple guarantee of living money in the future. The government has already been taking social security from me for years. I want that money back. And it's a good system, if only the administration could keep their grubby little hands out of my savings. Don't spend it... save it! What happened to the 5 trillion dollar budget surplus? Oh... right... you turned it into a deficit... jackasses. Hey, Bush! More than half the country still opposes your plans after shoving it down their throats. They don't want any! Sell to the next house...
Not that democrats are doing much better. They haven't yet offered a plan for how to save the economy... either that or they have, and the conservative majority is just silencing them... 47% of Americans believe the Democrats can do better, now they just have to prove it. more than 70% thinks that Bush and the Republicans in Congress haven't been clear enough about his plans, while over 80% say the same about Democrats. It's time to take a stance, fellas... this blocking of the Republican agenda is all well and good, but if you don't offer anything up, we're not going to get anywhere.

Tax cuts are bad. Tax cuts cause recessions. The only way to produce steady revenue for new government programs is to raise taxes. By all means! I'm just going to spend it on fast food or a video game... let the government put it to good use IN OUR OWN COUNTRY! Fix social security with it, raise health-care beneifts, or fix some of our infrastructure. I don't want my money to fund another terrorist hunt.
Quick facts (Paraphrased from "Let good sense trump ideology" by Mario M. Cuomo): Reagan produced the largest tax cut in history in 1981 while spending a lot more on the military. Sound familiar? The recession of 1982 was directly caused by this, economists say. After digging himself into that hole, he then raised taxes mostly on the wealthy, bringing the economy back up to it's original status. George H.W. Bush raised another $100 billion in tax increases, as did Bill Clinton. The tax increases led to the 4 best years the stock market has ever seen, 22 million new jobs, the aforementioned 5 trillion dollar surplus, a larger middle class, fewer poors, and more millionaires and billionaires.
Sounds good for everyone, right? Then Bush comes in, cuts taxes, and tells everyone to go buy stuff. The economy plummets. Sorry for all that, he needs to say, and stop cutting taxes for the wealthy. Trickle-down theory is crap. Absolute crap. They're going to hoard their money and we won't see a dime.

To end the ranting on a humorous note: I neglected to mention the Supreme Court's decision to allow condemning and posession of private property if it could serve a public function... aka new jobs and revenue for a community. They don't rule out taking the land and giving it to another private party. The case that they ruled on siezed private property and turned it over to a company creating a hotel and convention center... another example of the abuse that took place under these rules: a city official took an independent used-car lot and gave the land and building to the car dealership next door after the car dealership was unable to buy the other out. Justice? Anyways, after this ruling, concerned citizens are petitioning the town officials of Weare, New Hampshire, asking to seize Justice David Souter's farmhouse and constructing a hotel there instead. They argue that it would create jobs and revenue for the small town. The code enforcement officer of Weare said "If it is their right to persue this type of end, then by all means let the process begin." They may allow it merely to spite Souter's decision to join the 4 others in support of eminent domain. I myself can't wait to visit the Lost Liberty Hotel when it's finally constructed... he'll get exactly what he deserved. Now about those other four justices...

I would like to end with a political cartoon that I at least found hilarious...
Political Cartoon: Flag-Burning

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Playing Catch-Up

Ok, consider the blog re-opened. I'm keeping all my politically-inclined thoughts in here now, since my Xanga was getting pretty crowded... or something... anyways, here are my thoughts thus far...

First of all, the whole war in Iraq thing... more and more evidence is coming out that completely contradicts EVERYTHING we've been told thus far... we probably won't have to go to war (blew that one), Saddam must disarm or else we attack (disarm what?), he's not cooperating with the weapons inspectors (he showed them everything he had...), we have numerous allies (our only real ally doubted us from the start), it will be quick and painless (over 1700 dead as of today, and we have no signs of it being over)... etc. Even the causes of war have slowly morphed, and for some reason people kept believing him. What was it he said in a White House press release? They know that Saddam has WMDs, and the only course of action left is to attack? Look it up if you don't believe me... the archives are here: know the dates. So we go, attack, big surprise no WMDs. Just some old weapons research plans that we most likely gave him way back in the day. Yeah, they neglect to mention that one, too. So ok, we need a reason for war. Well, we were SUPPOSED to be hunting for Osama in Afghanistan, which we kinda did, nevermind that we knew he was hiding in Pakistan at the time. You can't blame that little nugget on an FBI-CIA feud. Bush thought, hey, Saddam doesn't like us... who else doesn't like us? Oh, yeah! Al Qaeda! They MUST be linked. So we finish the war and investigate... nevermind that Saddam HATED Al Qaeda as much as we did. So yeah, they investigate... nope, no signs of them anywhere. Well shit, thinks Shrub, we're in a pickle. How can we salvage our patriotism and our good stature in the world? Of course! We were bringing the Iraqis DEMOCRACY! And everyone laughed at the little joke, and we went on ahead and started rebuilding. Now, some would say that the driving force behind our invasion was oil. If we really wanted oil, Iran or Saudi Arabia would have been better targets. But we were rubbing elbows with the Shah of Saudi Arabia and Iran was, well... maybe they misspelled it? Just kidding! But we'll probably get our chance soon. Rove, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Bush are doing their best to piss Iran off and seem to be dying for an excuse to attack. Anyways, the courageous and rational Ann Coulter puts those fears to rest with something like ARE YOU LIBERALS FUCKING RETARDED?!? Oh, yeah, we definitely invaded for oil! Look at how low oil prices are now that we own Iraq! Oh, that's right... THEY'RE AT AN ALL TIME HIGH! In response, Ms. Coulter, lets not forget that if we just all of a sudden tossed out a huge oil contract to, say, Halliburton, through our puppet... er, installed... er, subtly influenced Iraqi government days after we toppled the Saddam statue, the world would have been in an uproar. Your president may be stupid, but he's not that stupid. I don't think, anyways. And OPEC controls a great deal of the prices, not Iraq. They raised prices and lowered production in response to our obstinate threats to their rather authoritarian governments. I have no idea what Rove's strategy is in advising the administration to do this, but I'm sure he has a good reason... speaking of Rove...
Rove recently accused Democrats of playing politics for the mere sake of partisanship. I believe a great political strategist once said, "Most people I know on both sides of the aisle believe in the positions they take. Unless you have clear evidence to the contrary, commentators should answer arguments instead of impugning the motives of those with whom they disagree." You know who said that? Karl Rove did. Speaking to graduates at a college. You think maybe he's slightly hypocritical? Keep in mind Rove has obsessed with making W successful even through college. He has a huge hard-on for the Bush family and worked for 30 years to get W in office. His only goal is to make W look as successful as he can, and the man spins more than Jeff Gordon's tires to accomplish this. When asked if the president had a plan for the Iraq war, Rove quickly listed all the things that they couldn't plan for but didn't happen. He's done it so much it's almost automatic. You can trust absolutely nothing he says.

The House passing the flag-burning amendment just pisses me off. I hope the Senate doesn't pass it as well, or I'll be the first one in the streets lighting it on fire. This is purely stampeding all over first amendment rights. If a paparazzi can crash head-on into an actor's car and then sue him for assault on a member of the press, why can't I light a piece of cloth on fire? This energy bill business... the Senate passed it with massive support, which is a good sign, as the measure adds benefits to wind, hydro, and ethanol power producers and slightly decreases those to petroleum and other nonrenewable resources. However, Tom DeLay is threatening to block it in the House because they failed to include the one measure he really supported: the protection for gasoline companies from lawsuit for dumping the chemical MTBE into drinking water and poisoning hundreds of communities. Special interest anyone? If he shoots this down because of that then he truly is the worst representative in the country.

The Supreme court took one step in the right direction and two steps the wrong way with their final decisions. In the matter of Separation of Church and State: they outlawed the display in Kentucky of a framed copy of the Decalogue in a courthouse, which was very very good of them. For anyone who doesn't know this story, Roy Moore, a judge in Kentucky, ordered the display in the courtroom as bait for liberals to harp on him about separation of church and state, thus alienating them from the Christian base and allowing Republicans to gain considerable ground. The sick thing is, it actually worked, and Moore found himself as the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court. However, the ruling in favor of the display in Texas still bothers me. It may very well have been well-intentioned when it was donated, but having a phrase in bold saying "I am the LORD thy GOD" under the 10 Commandments framed by the founding documents of our country is most certainly indicative of our country being Christian-oriented. And as much as a lot of our country would like it to be, it's not. Scalia has done his part to alienate much of the country, including our founding fathers. He says that the belief in a monotheistic, personal religion accounts for 97.75% of the country and therefore is majority enough to allow the integration of religion and government. For those of you not familiar with the history of our country, most of our founding fathers were NOT Christian, but Deist. They believed in one god, but thought of him more as a clockwork god. He set the world in motion and then left it alone, making him not a personal god but a hands-off one. And the personal religion may dominate the RELIGIOUS side of society, but there are still agnostics, atheists, and non-god religions to contend with. Scalia is out of touch with the world, and if he actually did his homework we might actually have had a decent ruling on this issue. The other wrong step was ruling unanimously in favor of big record labels against P2P software. To sue a company that has no control over what passes through their software is ridiculous. Sony won the lawsuit filed against them by the movie industry when people began recording movies on their VCRs. It is the same principle. And by shutting down P2P networks, we lose our ability to share independent music. I for one do not buy CDs unless I sample a majority of a record first. The only way I can do that is by downloading music. By cutting that off, they're losing my contribution, not gaining it.

The administration really needs to leave Iran alone. We are trying to export democracy, and we have no right to do so. Keep in mind the human race survived all the way until the 1700s without democracy, and some parts of the world has never seen it. Does Bush think that the Ayatollah of Iran is just going to hand over his power to a people that has never known how to live on their own? Of course he wouldn't, it would do more harm than good to the country. I don't support his rule, but if we try to intervene we'll just cause more strife in the Mid-East. 43% of the country says that we are less safe from terrorist attacks now that we've invaded Iraq. Is that Bush's idea of protecting the country. Speaking of Iraq (again), Rove has been saying things that we need to set straight. He refers to the insurgents as both terrorists allied with Al Qaeda and jihadists who want to reinstall Saddam's regime. While they do commit acts of terror, they have nothing to do with Al Queda. One group has chosen to deal with Al Queda, but the dozens others want nothing to do with them. The main reason they do this is because they want the US out of their country. Bush says that giving a time table would play right into their hands. By skirting around the topic, they think we will be there forever, and they will continue to attack until we leave. I believe that if we leave as soon as the government is stable (though Bush said we were leaving when they had established one... so much for that), the attacks will peter out. Telling them we have no plans of leaving yet is just playing into their hands...

There is a lot more I did not get to cover, most of the editorials and blogs, actually, but from here on out I will be more diligent on what I cover. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I've been thinking recently.

P.S. Normally I would link the editorials, news stories, and blogs I read that day here, but they're from at least a week ago, and I'm working from memory. So hit up the archives at Yahoo! News and see for yourself, if you're so interested.

Thanks for reading!