Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bill O'Reilly...for it before he was against it

Yesterday, he says Iraq has "too many crazies for us to manage, and we should hand things over to the Iraqis and leave as soon as possible." Two months ago, those of us advocating beginning withdrawal, or just leaving period, were "pinheads ...the type of people who thought Hitler wasn't such a bad guy before World War II." Two months ago, sir, I thought you were a lying, bloviating jerkface. Today, I think you're an ignorant jackass.

As Olbermann would say, Bill O'Reilly, once again the worst person in the world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yesterday he defended the port sale

today he knows nothing about it.

Tell me, will the real President Bush please stand up? This is embarrassing.

BTW, it turns out the administration broke the law (as if that's a surprise anymore) and did not complete the mandated 45-day investigation as to whether this sale would harm national security. Furthermore, if there was a unanimous vote by CFIUS, then how come board member Donald Rumsfeld knew nothing about the sale until it was announced?

I smell a poor cover-up here in a sale engineered by a select few in the White House. And lashing out at reporters and everyone else (which includes the Senate Majority Leader and House Speaker) who says this is an awful deal and needs further investigation, for being racist is a stupid move. This isn't racism. The UAE was home ground for terrorists, and half their royal family has dined with Osama bin Laden. Dubai World Ports, the purchasing company, their CEO reports directly to the royal family. Tell me, how does this keep us SAFE?!?!?! This is more like unlocking all the doors, leaving the keys in the car ignition, and saying, "Everything will be alright. Nobody will take my car."

Our leader has lost his marbles. His behavior scares me. I used to think he was manipulative and not as stupid as so many make him out to be. Now I worry he's bipolar, with a side of paranoia. He's far too willing to sacrifice individual rights, but no business should ever face adversity. He smacks down anyone who criticizes his handling of any part of our wars as basically treasonous, yet this port deal does more to hurt our security than any words ever could. What is going on here? Can somebody explain the logic?

Trouble in Iraq

When it's gone far enough that Sunnis blew up a 1,200 year-old mosque, and risk going to hell (because it is a sin to attack any place of holy worship), then we have ourselves a real problem here, especially since reprisals were carried out against Sunni mosques before Ayatollah Al-Sistani called for a week of mourning and no reprisals against other mosques.

Sure, we had enough troops when we went in. Sure, Iraqi soldiers are making great progress. That's why leaders are calling for religious militias to take on the security role. We need to face it....this thing is going straight to hell, and we need to get the Saudis or some other Sunni nation to talk with these people and get them to settle down, and see if Iran wouldn't be willing to peacefully talk with the Shiites and get them to calm down. This thing is spinning out of control, and U.S. soldiers could be facing a very deadly situation soon. I've gone from worried to all-out scared. A 1,200 year-old mosque gone, and we're likely to get blamed for not protecting it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why Israel and America are mishandling Hamas

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Hamas winning elections in Palestine was one of our bigger nightmares. The approach being taken by Israel, and by extension, the United States, is not a good position.

Because of years of corruption, the Palestinian territories are decrepit, run-down, and filled with despair. Yasser Arafat's back and forth battle with conservatives such as Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon broke down the Oslo accords, and the stealing of millions by old Fatah leaders left the Palestinian people vulnerable. In steps Hamas.

Once known simply as a terrorist organization, Hamas has broadened its horizons in the past decade. They have become like the IRA, a social organization, a political organization, and a paramilitary organization make up the ranks. Hamas won elections because of what they did on the social level.

Where the Palestinian Authority failed, they stepped up. They built schools, hospitals, businesses. They took care of Palestinians, all while indoctrinating them with their vision of what Palestine should be. With Arafat alive, they were the spoilers, never able to run for office, but with him dead, they could run for office and they did. They won big.

Now Hamas has the weight of years of promises to keep. They are in charge now. The responsibility is with them, and they see this, and I think that their leaders are trying to move ground some so they aren't cut off like Arafat was. They haven't sent a bomber into Israel in over a year now. Their prime minister-designate said they are willing to acknowledge the existence of Israel and accept a split Palestine, an unprecedented move.

However, Israel's Cabinet has voted to cut off all tax revenue due to the Palestinians to, in effect, punish them for exercising their democratic rights. We are not pressuring Israel to change their minds on this. In a related issue, Iraq's prime minister ripped us a new one for warning them about sectarian government, saying that Iraqis know what's best for them, not Americans.

If we are to acheive peace, we cannot achieve it from telling everyone what to do, who to vote for, and cutting them off from needed funds if they elect someone we don't like. Those actions will breed radicalism.

It's quite simple. When Palestinians realize, and they will, that they are paying taxes to Israel, and they are having those funds impounded over who they elected with their democratic rights, they will rise up in a way that Israel will only be able to put down with the most massive show of force, which will set off a reaction in the Arab world that we do not want to see happen.

Currently, the Mohammed cartoons are still being held up as reason for people to act like jackasses in the Middle East. Can you imagine what a massive, West Bank or Gaza-wide protest would look like, since it would invariably be followed by massive fighting between Israeli security forces and unarmed protestors throwing stones? Worldwide revulsion, followed by allies of ours calling for war, freeing of Palestinians, etc. And because of Iraq, we can't even help the Israelis if things go to hell. We don't have the forces.

It is far better for everyone, and far safer, if we engage in diplomacy and give the Palestinians aid. They voted for Hamas because Hamas, whether we like it or not, were the only ones to do anything for them for years, and you vote for the guys who take care of you. We talk with them, open a dialogue. They aren't just a terrorist group anymore. They are a government, and we can't just sit here, ignore it, and hope it goes away. This administration has mishandled Mideast policy for a while now, not to mention plain ignoring diplomacy. We never went to war with the Soviet Union, because we instead filtered in positive information about America, about freedom, about democracy, and the Soviet Union was done in ultimately by rising expectations. The British and Irish are slowly achieving peace, but not because either side won a military victory, but because of diplomacy engineered by President Clinton and George Mitchell.

We can turn people away from Hamas and terrorism, but we can't do it by taking food off the table of the millions who live in Gaza or the West Bank. If we stand by and let Israel do this, we are allowing the likely destruction of any chance of peace the region may ever have. In the early 1960's, we pushed Kruschchev hard, and we ended up with even worse Soviet leaders like Brehznev and Andropov. If we push the Palestinians too hard, we're going to make a bad situation an absolute disaster.

And before Sean Hannity calls me "weak on national security" and Ann Coulter calls me "a terrorist coddler who thinks we should give them therapy," I must simply say that I think the actions of Hamas are, by and large, a disgrace to their religion and their countrymen. However, we must act pragmatically in this situation. We are hypocritical if we want to "spread democracy" but then cut off a nation if they don't vote the way we want. If they vote the way we, another nation, tells them, then we aren't being true to the spirit of democracy. How would we like it if King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia told us how to vote, and then cut off our oil if we didn't go along? We'd be mad as hell about it, and rightfully so. Tell me, what makes us right to do the same?

If we allow this to go on, we will lose everything we have given the lives of our soldiers for. We must not let our emotions get in the way of reality, and we can achieve the same goals in a far less confrontational way.

For all you dittoheads

perhaps you should read this.

Thanks to BiPM at DailyKos for the link.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

L.A. Times exposes consumer protection gutting in budget

As I read the L.A. Times this morning over my meal break at work (I had an early shift), I saw a story that stunned me yet again.

Industries get quiet protection from lawsuits

See, it turns out that hidden in the budget is lawsuit immunity for all sorts of industries if they agree to add government mandated safety features.  This means that if they screw it up, do it on the cheap, or if those measures fail, they cannot be held accountable.

Here's the lede from the story:

Near sunrise on a summer morning in 2001, Patrick Parker of Childress, Texas, swerved to avoid a deer and rolled his pickup truck.

The roof of the Ford F-250 crumpled, and Parker didn't stand a chance. His neck broke and, at 37, he was paralyzed from the chest down. He sued, and Ford Motor Co. settled for an undisclosed amount.

"You can imagine what happens when you're belted in and the roof comes down even with the door," Parker said. "Your options are death or quadriplegia."

Parker's case and hundreds like it are behind a beefed-up roof safety standard proposed in August by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But safety regulators tucked into the proposed rule something vehicle makers have long desired: protection from future roof-crush lawsuits like the one Parker filed.

The surprise move seeking legal protection for automakers is one in a series of recent steps by federal agencies to shield leading industries from state regulation and civil lawsuits on the grounds that they conflict with federal authority.

Some of these efforts are already facing court challenges. However, through arcane regulatory actions and legal opinions, the Bush administration is providing industries with an unprecedented degree of protection at the expense of an individual's right to sue and a state's right to regulate.

In other moves by the administration:

  •  The highway safety agency, a branch of the Department of Transportation, is backing auto industry efforts to stop California and other states from regulating tailpipe emissions they link to global warming. The agency said last summer that any such rule would be a backdoor attempt by states to encroach on federal authority to set mileage standards, and should be preempted.

  •  The Justice Department helped industry groups overturn a pollution-control rule in Southern California that would have required cleaner-running buses, garbage trucks and other fleet vehicles.

  •  The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has repeatedly sided with national banks to fend off enforcement of consumer protection laws passed by California, New York and other states. The agency argued that it had sole authority to regulate national banks, preempting state restrictions.

  •  The Food and Drug Administration issued a legal opinion last month asserting that FDA-approved labels should give pharmaceutical firms broad immunity from most types of lawsuits. The agency previously had filed briefs seeking dismissal of various cases against drug companies and medical-device manufacturers.

This means, for all of my fellow Californians out there, our smoggy asses can't get no relief now because the government is moving to end all smog control regulations, therefore ruining our local ecology as the problem worsens, massively increasing lung cancer and asthma cases (mine has been pretty bad lately), and probably creating our own ozone hole, right above L.A.  All for a buck, right?

Furthermore, states should have the right to regulate these issues.  Montana or Wyoming doesn't have smog issues. L.A. does.  So do other big cities.  Therefore, we have a need to more strictly regulate emissions here than they do in Big Sky country.

Emissions control has nothing to do with mileage standards.  California isn't trying to override CAFE standards.  Californians just want to breathe easier, and I mean that literally.  Smog is awful, and it's killing us, and of course, el president estupido is just checking the wallets of his buddies.

And pharmaceutical companies, already raking in money hand over fist, getting protection because they were FDA-approved?  So, the FDA misses something, and we're just SOL?  What if the FDA is bribed or pressured?  After Abramoff, can we just trust government officials?  These people torpedoed Plan B for OTC use on religious grounds, despite the objections of the scientific (i.e. reality-based) group saying it was a perfectly safe drug to dispense.  It's not like the FDA is truly independent anymore, not under the Bushies.

And states can't regulate banks now either?  If a bank rips you off or uses predatory lending practices, a state can't look out for your interests?  Tell me, what kind of rules do these sound like? Are these conservative rules, or corporate money going in pockets rules?  And no, I don't trust a lot of this Congress to look out for us, because they passed the biggest sham to consumer rights in a long time with the bankruptcy bill last year.  

Conservatives want a smaller federal government, and this isn't it.  This is the federal government stomping all over states, something the 1994 GOP recoiled at.  That GOP is gone, replaced by a bunch of corrupt fools, and it's Democrats in the West and South who picked up the mantle of states' rights, and it's Democrats who can reform this travesty.  Corporations get tax breaks from here to Mars because of offshore havens.  One building in Grand Cayman has over 16,000 corporations registered there to avoid U.S. taxes, and they deserve protection?  No.  The government should first focus on holding these "Benedict Arnolds" (to steal a Kerry phrase </shudder>) responsible for dodging the taxes they owe from money made off of America.  They should not be getting more protection from the government, because they've been ripping it off.

But, wait.  We're in Bush's America, and corporations rule! </snark>

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are not at least irritated by this, then you simply don't care about the quality of your life in twenty years.  I tell you, Republicans either don't know or bury their heads in the sand at the direction their party is taking them.  Our economy is going to tank if we don't fix it, and with corporate giveaways abound, no fix appears imminent on the horizon.  This is just one more reason why Democrats must retake Congress this year.