Thursday, March 31, 2005
What? No WMD?
- The U.S. intelligence community was "simply wrong" in its assessments of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities before the U.S. invasion, a presidential commission said Thursday.
"We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," said a letter from the commission to President Bush. "This was a major intelligence failure."
What kills me is that there are still conservatives that swear we've already found the WMD. Or better yet, that they exist but were moved prior to the invasion. I've even heard claims that they were moved to Lebanon and are being guarded by Syria which explains why the Syrians won't withdraw from the country. And they say Michael Moore is full of shit.
I think we may have stumbled onto a new campaign slogan for 2006:
GEORGE W. BUSH AND THE REPUBLICANS - DEAD WRONG!
I'll start printing the bumper stickers!
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
The Bush Boondoggle
- [Incoherent babbling and requisite ass-kissing platitudes offered up to pretend as if he's interested in the local politicians]...
Let me talk about Social Security. I'm talking about Social Security because I see a problem, and I believe the job of the President is to confront problems and not pass them on to future Presidents or future Congress. That's what I think you elected me for. (Applause.)
First, I agree with Chuck when he said that Franklin Roosevelt did a good thing in creating the Social Security system. Social Security has worked for a lot of people. It has provided a safety net for a lot of citizens. The problem is, there's a hole in the safety net for a generation which is coming up, and let me tell you why. Let me -- I'll just put it in personal terms. There's a lot of people like me getting ready to retire. We're called baby boomers. I turn 62 in 2008. It's a convenient year for me to retire, by the way. (Laughter.) We are living longer than the previous generation. We have been promised more benefits than the previous generation. See, people ran for office saying, vote for me, I'm going to give you more benefits if you put me in. So you've got a lot of baby boomers getting ready to retire who will be living longer years and promised more benefits. That's part of the math. The other part of the math is that there are fewer workers paying for people like me.
- In 1950, there were 16 workers paying into the system for every beneficiary, so you can see the load wasn't that heavy. Today, it's 3.3 workers for every beneficiary. Soon, it's going to be 2 workers. If you're a younger person going to community college here, you're going to have to pay a lot of money out of your pocket to make sure I get the benefits I'm promised unless we do something different.
- So the math has changed. The system is an important system, but it's got a hole in the safety net. I say, the hole in the safety net for the younger workers because if you're somebody who's retired or near retired, somebody born prior to 1950, you don't have a thing to worry about. The promise will be kept. I don't care what the politics -- politicians say, I don't care what the propaganda says. The truth is, this government will keep its promise to those people who are receiving their check today and the promise to those who were prior to 1950. (Applause.)
- When the math has changed like it is, the system starts going in the red pretty quickly. In 20 -- 2017, there's going to be more money going out than coming in for Social Security. By the way, we don't have a trust in Social Security. It's called, pay-as-you-go. See, some people think there's a Social Security trust where we've taken your money, and we've held it for you, and then when you retire, we give it back to you. No, what happens is we take your money, we pay money out for the promises for those people who have retired, and if we've got anything left over, we spend it on things other than Social Security. That's just the way it works. It's been working that way for a long period of time. And what's left are a pile of IOUs, paper.
- [...] if you think you've got a good idea, bring them forward. And people need to understand that, that we want to listen to good ideas. President Clinton has some ideas when he was the President. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan had some good ideas. As a matter of fact, in 2001, he was the Democrat Senator from New York, he'd retired; I asked him to serve on a commission to look at Social Security. Republicans and Democrats came together and they came up with some very interesting ideas to fix the problem permanently. They didn't sit around the table and say, I'm not going to listen to your idea because you happen to be a Democrat, and I'm not going to listen to your idea because you happen to be a Republican. They said, we have a duty and an obligation to come together and make recommendations to the President and the Congress, not based upon parties, but based upon what will work.
And one of the ideas they brought forward, both Republicans and Democrats brought forward, is in order to make the system work for younger workers, that they ought to -- we ought to allow younger workers to set aside some of their own money in a personal savings account as part of the Social Security; in other words, a voluntary program that says you should be allowed to take some of your own money -- after all, it is your payroll tax -- and put it aside in an account of bonds and stocks. That's what you ought to be allowed to do.
- Now, this doesn't fix the system permanently, but it makes the system a better deal for younger workers, and I'll tell you why. First a conservative mix of bonds and stocks earns a better rate of return on your money than the money that's being held in the Social Security -- by the government. And that's important for people to understand. (Applause.)
- And as that money earns, it is a compounding rate of interest. It grows. For example, you take a worker making $35,000 over his or her lifetime, and say, for example, a third of the payroll taxes, or 4 percent, were allowed to go into a personal savings account, that the nest egg that person would own over time in a conservative mix of bonds and stocks would grow to $250,000, see. That would be a nice part of a retirement package.
- There will be a Social Security system that the government is going to pay you benefits. I can't pay you how much until we get people together to the table. But it will be augmented -- your Social Security plan, your benefits will be augmented by the money coming out of your own account. In other words, money grows if you hold it over time. It's not growing right now at a significant enough rate. It will grow if you're able to save it.
- [More babbling and bullshit "questions" asked by ardent supporters to make it look like George knows what the hell he's talking about]...Thanks for coming today. I appreciate your time. God bless. (Applause.)
I'm not sure how many more stops on he has left on this geriatric scare-fest, but it appears as if he's striking out mightily. According to Time magazine, his poll numbers are down to 31% approval/58% disapproval on social security while the latest Gallup Poll puts his overall approval rating at 45%. Way to go Georgiboy. Keep lying and I'm sure things will work out for you. Hell, it got you re-elected didn't it?
Monday, March 28, 2005
Adventures In Hypocrisy
As you may recall, Elian Gonzalez was a young Cuban boy whose mother had died while trying to defect to the United States. Elian was taken in by some of his relatives only to have his father win a court battle allowing him to take Elian back home to Cuba. The conservative standpoint was that Elian should be allowed to stay here in the United States therefore arguing against parental rights. On the other hand, the conservative viewpoint in the Terri Schiavo case is that the Schindlers, Terri's parents, should have the authority to override the wishes of her husband thereby arguing for parental rights.
It appears as if the conservative party is more beholden to their evangelical base than they'd like to admit. Whichever way that evangelical wind blows, expect the party to be swaying. It's pathetic really, when a political party becomes controlled by a group of activists like this. They should be ashamed. I was told that they were the party of decisiveness and resoluteness. Apparently that's only if the evangelicals say it's okay. I wonder if their mommies still have to help them wipe their asses too?
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
I'll Be Back
I appreciate those of you who visit here regularly and I look forward to getting back into the swing of things when I return. Take care, keep fighting, and I'll see you all soon.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Dear Sen. Reid,
Since you assumed your leadership role, you have been the consumate team player. You have stood strong in the face of adversity and have spoken eloquently about the issues currently facing our nation. I appreciate your steadfastness to the party's cause and your eloquent words on our behalf. Please accept my apologies as I look forward to your continued leadership.
P.S. - This, of course, doesn't mean that I won't rip you a new one if you start screwing things up.
For an example of Sen Harry Reid's eloquence, check out his remarks concerning the "Nuclear Option" intended to end Democratic fillibusters.
- On a late September day in 1787, the Constitutional Convention finished its work. As Benjamin Franklin walked down the steps of Independence Hall, a Philadelphia woman named Elizabeth Powell stopped him and asked, "Well, Doctor, what have we got: a republic or a monarchy?"
He responded, "A republic. If you can keep it."
For more than two centuries, we have kept our republic because Americans have understood that our liberty is protected by our laws and by a government of limited powers.
Our Constitution provides for checks and balances so that no one person in power - so that no one political party - can hold total control over the course of our nation.
But now, in order to break down the separation of powers and ram through their appointees to the judicial branch, President Bush and the Republican leadership want to eliminate a two-hundred-year-old American rule saying that every member of the Senate can rise to say their piece and speak on behalf of the people that sent them here.
The fact is that this President has a better record of having his judicial nominees approved than any President in the past twenty-five years. Only ten of 214 nominations have been turned down.
So it is clear that this attempt to strip away these important checks and balances is not about judges. It is about the desire for absolute power.
But our nation's basic rules are there for the moments when the eyes of the powerful grow large and hungry; when their willfulness makes them determined to do whatever it takes to win, and prevail at whatever the cost.
Presidents and parties have grown drunk with power before. Two Presidents of my own party - Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt - began their second terms of office with majorities in Congress and then tried to change the rules governing judges so that they could stack the court with those who would do their bidding. They were wrong to try to change our basic American rules - and Americans, and Senators of both parties, stood up to tell them so.
Today, another attempt is being considered to rewrite the rules so that those in power can get their way.
It would mean that the U.S. Senate becomes merely a rubber stamp for the Executive Branch.
It would mean that one political party - be it Republicans today or Democrats tomorrow - gets to have all the say.
It would mean that one man, sitting in the White House, has the practical ability to personally hand out lifetime jobs to judges whose rulings can last forever.
That's not how America works.
Here, in America, the people rule - and all the people have a voice
We pledge allegiance to "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all." Not liberty and justice for whoever may be in the majority of the moment. Liberty and justice for all. In America, everyone gets their say and their due.
Today, we say to the American people: if you believe in liberty and in limited government, set aside your partisan views and oppose this arrogant abuse of power.
Our freedom as a people was purchased by soldiers and Senators, by those who fell for our country and those who rose to speak for it, even when they stood alone.
The courage of patriots has given us a republic. Now, it is our task - and our test - to show that we can keep it.
Myth: There is precedent for the "Nuclear Option."
· During Senator Specter's press conference accepting the Chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee he claimed that "if a rule change is necessary to avoid filibusters, there are relevant recent precedents to secure rule changes with 51 votes." He also asserted that "Senator Byrd had four rule changes in 1977, '79, '80 and '87, where, as a master parliamentarian, he moved them through the body on a ruling of the chair and 51 votes. And one of those was a filibuster by amendment." Right-wing pundit Bob Novak has reiterated these claims.
Reality: There is no precedent for overriding the rules of the Senate and forcing majority cloture. To do so would radically alter rights protected for 200+ years.
· The examples cited by Sen. Specter and Mr. Novak furnish no precedent for the imposition of majority cloture in the Senate. While they are procedural "precedents" for incremental clarifications of Senate Rules, they do not in any way serve as precedent for the radical deletion of the Senate's long-standing Rules allowing filibusters and providing for cloture.
· By analogy, Miranda v. Arizona is Supreme Court precedent but it furnishes no binding or persuasive precedent for Bush v. Gore. Similarly, the examples cited by Sen. Specter and Mr. Novak do not justify or support the Republican effort to remove one of the pillars of the Senate.
· There is no language in the Constitution prohibiting filibusters.
· The Constitution protects Members' rights to speech and debate. As Joseph Story noted in his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution: "[A] great and vital privilege is the freedom of speech and debate, without which all other privileges would be comparatively unimportant, or ineffectual."
· The Framers of the Constitution were well aware of filibusters and other parliamentary tactics to delay. There was a filibuster over the location of the U.S. Capitol in the First Congress following the drafting of the Constitution.
· Over fifty law professors wrote to the Senate last year to make clear that "[b]oth the text of the Constitution and historical practices strongly support the constitutionality of the filibuster."
· The Constitution does not require a vote on every nominee proposed or piece of legislation introduced, no matter how ill advised or deserving.
· Since our earliest days, nominees were defeated by blocking confirmation votes. See, e.g., G. H. Haynes, The Senate of the United States (1938).
· Out of the 24 Supreme Court nominees who were never confirmed, more than half (14) were defeated by delay and not by confirmation votes, including Justice Abe Fortas, who was successfully filibustered by conservative Senators in 1968.
Reality: The examples cited by Sen. Specter and Mr. Novak are inapposite.
Each of the four examples cited is qualitatively different from the nuclear option in both order and magnitude. If it were so easy to get rid of the filibuster, it would have been eliminated by a thwarted majority decades if not centuries ago.
DEMOCRATS CONFIRMED 95% OF BUSH JUDGES
204 judges have been confirmed during the Bush Administration.
Democrats have confirmed 35 circuit court nominees, more than in the first term of Reagan or Clinton.
REPUBLICANS CREATE FALSE CRISIS TO PACK THE COURTS AND ROLLBACK RIGHTS
At the end of the last Congress, the federal court vacancy rate hit its lowest point in 14 years.
Democrats rejected 10 of Bush's nominees because they lacked a commitment to protecting the constitutional rights and liberties of every American.
Rejected nominations include:
William Pryor, who believes federal protections for voting rights, the environment, equal rights, education and privacy are illegal. Pryor has argued for the politicization of picking extreme Supreme Court justices, stating "Please God, no more Souters."
Janice Rogers Brown, who has likened federal protections for the elderly to "senior citizens ... cannibaliz[ing] their grandchildren" and that policies against age discrimination don't benefit the public. As a state court judge, she has worked to deny the rights of victims of discrimination, consumers and workers.
Priscilla Owen, a Texas Supreme Court justice who has been hostile to the rights of workers, women seeking to exercise their right to choose, consumers, and injured individuals. Even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wrote that one of her opinions was "unconscionable judicial activism."
Republicans pocket-filibustered more than 60 nominees.
More than 60 judicial nominees and 200 executive branch nominees of Clinton were defeated by calculated delay by Republicans, not by votes.
Remarks by Senator Harry Reid
Thanks to Bob Brigham for the transcript.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Become a Republican!
Don't wait, join today!
Friday, March 11, 2005
How Soon We Forget
- The Bush administration moved Thursday to sharply reduce air pollution from power plants that emit nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, issuing a rule that the Environmental Protection Agency said would eventually prevent 17,000 premature deaths and tens of thousands of heart attacks and hospitalizations each year, mostly in the Northeast.
What the paper is referring to is the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). It was proposed in January, 2004. However, anyone who watched the second Bush/Kerry debate knows that this is not the environmental policy that Georgieboy was endorsing. In fact, the CAIR was put on the back burner in favor of the Clear Skies Initiative that was introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).
The Clear Skies Initiative actually called for the loosening of regulations that were set forth by the Clean Air Act. It weakened restrictions on the production of mercury from coal-fired power plants by 520%. It relaxed the cap on the production of nitrogen oxide, a major contributor to smog associated with asthma and lung disease, by 68%. It weakened protection against the production of sulphur dioxide, a contributing factor to acid rain, by 225%. And it failed to place any limits on the production of carbon dioxide.
So while the CAIR is actually a pretty good thing, I can't give any credit to the Bush administration. Had the Democrats not successfully killed the Clear Skies Initiative in committee on Wednesday thereby leaving the Bush administration no alternative, the CAIR may have never been enacted.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
- "I want to take one-half of the surplus and dedicate it to Social Security. One-quarter of the surplus for important projects, and I want to send one-quarter of the surplus back to the people who pay the bills."
George W. Bush
October 3, 2000
It appears as if the steward of our country is running us into the ground.
- The federal government ran a record monthly deficit of $113.9 billion in February, a sizable worsening of the budget picture compared to a rare surplus recorded in January, the Treasury Department reported Thursday.
But not to worry, there is some good news.
- However, even with the February deficit, the red ink for the first five months of the budget year is running 2.2 percent below the red ink for the same period a year ago. The total deficit from October through February this year was $223.4 billion compared to $228.5 billion for the previous period.
Phew! That $5.1 billion is going to make a huge difference. It's a whole 2.2%! Hey, let's put it into social security. Oh wait, it's not really money that we're saving, it's just money that we don't have to borrow from China. Never mind.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday that future budget deficits pose a bigger risk to the economy than record trade imbalances and the country's extremely low savings rate.
The Fed chief said the budget deficit is a problem because it is projected to rise significantly as a wave of baby boomers start to retire in 2008.
"Our fiscal prospects are, in my judgment, a significant obstacle to long-term stability," Greenspan said.
See, even Georgieboy's lapdogs get it. Why doesn't he?
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
- President Bush's plan to extend his tax cuts over the next five years ran into resistance in the Senate on Wednesday as Republican leaders offered a budget for 2006 that would undo more than a fourth of the cuts that Mr. Bush has requested.
The Senate's proposal to scale back the extension of Mr. Bush's tax cuts comes at a time when Republicans are also feeling queasy about the White House's major domestic policy initiative for the year, overhauling Social Security. And the budget was not enough to mollify some Senate Republican moderates, who expressed concern Wednesday about extending the tax cuts at a time when the deficit is at a record high and domestic programs from farm subsidies to veterans' benefits and education are facing steep cuts.
When asked if she would support extending the tax cuts, Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the Maine Republican who is an influential member of the Finance Committee, said, "Suffice it to say, I do have serious concerns with the fundamental priorities that are being constructed in the budget." She added, "It's exacting a high price from some of the programs that are critically important to the future."
Senator Lincoln Chafee, the Rhode Island Republican who has warned frequently about the federal deficit, said, "I've been consistently opposed to tax cuts when at the same time we're not controlling our spending, and I don't think this year will be any different."
But as details of the budget plans emerged on Wednesday, it became clear that meeting Mr. Bush's spending goals could prove a difficult task, not only because of the tax issue but because many lawmakers are pressing to restore Mr. Bush's proposed cuts in domestic programs. Among them is Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, who has gathered signatures of 57 senators to fight for urban renewal grants, which the White House proposes to cut.
"I'm not particularly happy about ANWR being shoved back in there," said Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, using the acronym (pronounced AN-war) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Mr. DeWine said he was also "concerned about Medicaid, and what impact it's going to have on the states."
Awwwwww. Poor Georgie.
Now that dear leader's out on his ass in four years, maybe we'll see some of the more sensible Republicans actually tell the truth once in a while.
Oh, and by the way, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says there is no crisis.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
- "The theory here is straightforward: terrorists are less likely to endanger our security if they are worried about their own security. When terrorists spend their days struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training to commit new attacks. We will keep the terrorists on the run, until they have nowhere left to hide."
Osama bin Laden on November 1, 2004:
- "All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies. This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat. [...] So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy."
Could it be that we're playing their game? As I write this, the cost of the war in Iraq, according to the counter on the left side of this site, is approaching $155 billion. That's $155 billion that's not being spent on our actual security here at home. Our nuclear and water facilities are still not sufficiently protected. Our borders are still very porous. The majority of cargo coming into this country is still going unscreened. All the while, our military is spread throughout the Middle East and unable to meet it's recruiting goals back home. Plus, our budget is running in the red and record deficits are predicted for the future.
So I want to know, "Who's running this show?" It certainly doesn't look like us.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Republican Logic & Missed Opportunities
- MR. RUSSERT: Before we go, I want to talk about foreign policy and Iraq. This is The New York Times editorial, Senator Durbin: "The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power."
Do you concur with that?
SEN. DURBIN: I think there is a momentum for positive change in the Middle East, and I think the Democrats support that. I happen to believe the way we invaded Iraq, without a broad coalition, without our traditional allies, taking on the responsibility in terms of human lives and dollars, was the wrong decision at that moment. But today we have to look at the Middle East and say, "What is in the best interest of America and its security?" And I think we are moving forward.
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
Why do we continuously let these opportunities pass us by? What Sen. Durbin should have said is:
- "Are you kidding me? Did you actually read that or are you just doing what your bosses want you to? That's completely insane. No, I don't concur. That's Republican rationale for a mistake. That's like saying if we hadn't ignored the warning signs before 9/11 that we wouldn't have the opportunity to build a memorial at Ground Zero. The truth is we screwed up. We attacked a country that didn't have the weapons we were told they did and now we're trying to cover our asses by saying that elections wouldn't have happened without us. Why don't you just say something like we should thank the Japanese for attacking us at Pearl Harbor because without that we wouldn't have had a chance to really test our atomic bombs. Give me a break Tim. That's a ridiculous statement and you know it. You should be ashamed of yourself."
I guess that would have been too rude. Maybe next time. (I'm not holding my breath, though.)
Friday, March 04, 2005
Have a great weekend! I'll bitch about Georgieboy on Monday.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Canada Gets It, Why Don't We?
- Missile Counter-Attack
Axworthy fires back at U.S. -- and Canadian -- critics of our BMD decision in An Open Letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Thu Mar 3 2005
By LLOYD AXWORTHY
Dear Condi, I'm glad you've decided to get over your fit of pique and venture north to visit your closest neighbour. It's a chance to learn a thing or two. Maybe more.
I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results.
But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game.
As our erstwhile Prairie-born and bred (and therefore prudent) finance minister pointed out in presenting his recent budget, we've had eight years of balanced or surplus financial accounts. If we're going to spend money, Mr. Goodale added, it will be on day-care and health programs, and even on more foreign aid and improved defence.
Sure, that doesn't match the gargantuan, multi-billion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a "liberation war" in Iraq, laying out more than half of all weapons expenditures in the world, and giving massive tax breaks to the top one per cent of your population while cutting food programs for poor children.
Just chalk that up to a different sense of priorities about what a national government's role should be when there isn't a prevailing mood of manifest destiny. Coming to Ottawa might also expose you to a parliamentary system that has a thing called question period every day, where those in the executive are held accountable by an opposition for their actions, and where demands for public debate on important topics such a missile defence can be made openly.
You might also notice that it's a system in which the governing party's caucus members are not afraid to tell their leader that their constituents don't want to follow the ideological, perhaps teleological, fantasies of Canada's continental co-inhabitant. And that this leader actually listens to such representations.
Your boss did not avail himself of a similar opportunity to visit our House of Commons during his visit, fearing, it seems, that there might be some signs of dissent. He preferred to issue his diktat on missile defence in front of a highly controlled, pre-selected audience.
Such control-freak antics may work in the virtual one-party state that now prevails in Washington. But in Canada we have a residual belief that politicians should be subject to a few checks and balances, an idea that your country once espoused before the days of empire.
If you want to have us consider your proposals and positions, present them in a proper way, through serious discussion across the table in our cabinet room, as your previous president did when he visited Ottawa. And don't embarrass our prime minister by lobbing a verbal missile at him while he sits on a public stage, with no chance to respond.
Now, I understand that there may have been some miscalculations in Washington based on faulty advice from your resident governor of the "northern territories," Ambassador Cellucci. But you should know by now that he hasn't really won the hearts and minds of most Canadians through his attempts to browbeat and command our allegiance to U.S. policies. Sadly, Mr. Cellucci has been far too closeted with exclusive groups of 'experts' from Calgary think-tanks and neo-con lobbyists at cross-border conferences to remotely grasp a cross-section of Canadian attitudes (nor American ones, for that matter).
I invite you to expand the narrow perspective that seems to inform your opinions of Canada by ranging far wider in your reach of contacts and discussions. You would find that what is rising in Canada is not so much anti-Americanism, as claimed by your and our right-wing commentators, but fundamental disagreements with certain policies of your government. You would see that rather than just reacting to events by drawing on old conventional wisdoms, many Canadians are trying to think our way through to some ideas that can be helpful in building a more secure world.
These Canadians believe that security can be achieved through well-modulated efforts to protect the rights of people, not just nation-states.
To encourage and advance international co-operation on managing the risk of climate change, they believe that we need agreements like Kyoto.
To protect people against international crimes like genocide and ethnic cleansing, they support new institutions like the International Criminal Court -- which, by the way, you might strongly consider using to hold accountable those committing atrocities today in Darfur, Sudan.
And these Canadians believe that the United Nations should indeed be reformed -- beginning with an agreement to get rid of the veto held by the major powers over humanitarian interventions to stop violence and predatory practices.
On this score, you might want to explore the concept of the 'Responsibility to Protect' while you're in Ottawa. It's a Canadian idea born out of the recent experience of Kosovo and informed by the many horrific examples of inhumanity over the last half-century. Many Canadians feel it has a lot more relevance to providing real human security in the world than missile defence ever will.
This is not just some quirky notion concocted in our long winter nights, by the way. It seems to have appeal for many in your own country, if not the editorialists at the Wall Street Journal or Rush Limbaugh. As I discovered recently while giving a series of lectures in southern California, there is keen interest in how the U.S. can offer real leadership in managing global challenges of disease, natural calamities and conflict, other than by military means.
There is also a very strong awareness on both sides of the border of how vital Canada is to the U.S. as a partner in North America. We supply copious amounts of oil and natural gas to your country, our respective trade is the world's largest in volume, and we are increasingly bound together by common concerns over depletion of resources, especially very scarce fresh water. Why not discuss these issues with Canadians who understand them, and seek out ways to better cooperate in areas where we agree -- and agree to respect each other's views when we disagree.
Above all, ignore the Cassandras who deride the state of our relations because of one missile-defence decision. Accept that, as a friend on your border, we will offer a different, independent point of view. And that there are times when truth must speak to power.
(Lloyd Axworthy is president of the University of Winnipeg and a former Canadian foreign minister.)
I couldn't have said it better myself. So I won't even try.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
- The Republican faithful listened intently while Gibbons spoke about the war in Iraq.
Loud applause erupted when Gibbons said, "Tonight, I say we should support our President and the United States military in their efforts to defend freedom around the world."
Gibbons segued into an attack on "liberals," who he said were trying to divide the unity of the country in a time of war.
"We are all here tonight because men and women of the United States military have given their lives for our freedom," Gibbons continued. "We are here tonight not because of Rosie O'Donnell, Martin Sheen, George Clooney, Jane Fonda or Phil Donahue - they never sacrificed their lives for us or for liberty."
Gibbons said it was not movie stars but soldiers and sailors that defended freedom in the deserts of Iraq, the jungles of Vietnam, the sands of Iwo Jima and the beaches of Normandy.
"I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else," Gibbons said to another burst of applause.
He said if they lived in Iraq or Afghanistan, "Ironically they would be put to death at the hands of Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden."
Gibbons brought the crowd to near feverish pitch when he hit the hot button issue of abortion.
"I want to know how these very people who are against war because of loss of life can possibly be the same people who are for abortion?" Gibbons said. "They are the same people who are for animal rights, but they are not for the rights of the unborn."
He said that they are the same people who wanted to go to Iraq and become human shields for the enemy.
"I say it's just too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket," Gibbons said.
Laughter rippled through the room, mingled with more applause.
Ha ha ha ha! Damn, that is funny stuff.
Unfortunately Rep. Gibbons doesn't appear to understand. It was not blind fealty that made this country what it is. If our founding fathers had exhibited the unquestioning loyalty that Rep. Gibbons does, we would still be an English settlement ruled by a foriegn monarch. It was the liberal spirit that spawned this country and it will be the liberal spirit that sustains it.
Too many times I have heard that liberals "hate America." Nothing could be further from the truth. If we truly hated America we wouldn't be fighting so hard for what we thought was right. We'd sit back and allow things like bigotry, poverty, violence, corruption, and hatred to remain. We'd allow the government to ammend the constitution so that it condoned discrimination based upon sexual preference. We'd silently watch as the wealthy received tax breaks and the poor are forced to absorb more of the tax burden. We'd look the other way while our military invaded other countries that posed no tangible threat to our safety. We'd keep our mouths shut as our elected officials tried to figure out ways to justify torture. But we don't. And we never will. We may not always win, but we will always stand up for what's right.
So, dear reader, the true question isn't "why do liberals hate America," but "why do conservatives hate liberal Americans?" That is something I'd like to know.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Too Many Things, Too Little Time
Back tomorrow night.