Thursday, July 01, 2004
Andrew Sullivan (yes, I think he's pretty frikin' brilliant, so you're gonna read a lot on him) talks today on his site about the upcoming GOP "civil war" between fiscal conservative/social moderates who don't like the theological/free-spending bent their party is taking, and the hard right Delay wing that thinks if you're a moderate, you're not a Republican.
I happen to agree with Sullivan that a day of reckoning is approaching. The GOP has tried the "big tent" approach and it isn't working. Why? Because the far-right has no interest in it working.
I have considered myself a Republican since the 3rd grade, when Reagan was elected. I am pro-military, pro-gun rights, anti-tax, and pro-small government. I think a moment of silence in school is okay and the Pledge should be left alone. I have a firm belief in God and am married with one child.
I am also pro-gay rights and pro-choice. I think amending the Constitution to deny a group of people a basic civil right is disgusting.I think cutting taxes and raising spending is insane. I find Michael Powell and the FCC offensive in their drive to limit free speech. And while I am a Christian, I thought the 10 Commandments monument was rightfully removed from the courthouse in Alabama, and I don't have the audacity to think that there is only one way in which to worship.
In the new, theocratic GOP, the second list trumps the first list and therefore renders me an undesirable. Or, as Delay and his boys call it, a "RiNO" (Republican in Name Only).
Which is funny, because I always thought that Republicans were for small government, individual responsibility, fiscal sanity and a wide degree of personal freedom. Apparently I was mistaken.
I am all for cutting taxes, but you have to cut spending to go with it. You can't just say "We'll grow out of it." Really? Well, tell me when the Red Sox will win the World Series while you're at it since you are prediciting the future. That is no way to run a government. The government has an obligation to be responsible with OUR money. Running huge deficits is not being responsible.
Not that the Democrats should be touting their fiscal plans. I have yet to see a Democratic budget where spending didn't increase in long-term permanent programs. But that is for another time.
So the moderate Republicans like myself find ourselves placed at arms length from the increasingly hard-right, religious GOP leadership. And the day will come when it all blows up, the probable result being the moderates leaving the party, just like I have done.
The only scenario I see stopping this: Kerry winning the Presidency. This would have the following results:
- Washington gridlock: Democratic President + Republican Congress = nothing gets done. Fine by me. No crazy spending bills would be a blessing.
- Hillary doesn't run in '08: I don't like her. She a ultra-liberal phony's phony. And a Kerry win would prevent her from running for office until 2012.
- Hard-right GOP is discredited: Kerry is a bozo. If the GOP loses to him, it will prove what a poison the religious, hard-core right neo-con movement is to the GOP, and they will be pushed aside. Why? Because the bottom line for both parties is the perpetuation of political power. If wearing funny hats was the key, you'd see Kerry and Bush wearing those foam cowboy hats. So if Kerry wins and the reason in the neo-con agenda, they'll be shunted aside right quick.
- The rise of the Moderates: With the neo-cons discredited, who are the likely nominees for the GOP in 2008? McCain, Giuliani and Gen. Powell. All moderate Republicans with national approval ratings through the roof, all of whom can easily best Kerry. It's no surprise that Bush is trying to get prime-time slots for McCain and Giuliani to speak at the GOP convention this September. Even though they are the antithesis of Bush, Delay, and the rest, they are the GOPers that the swing voters like. So he's hoping to essentially bait-and-switch the voters.
This leaves me with the wholly unappetizing prospect of voting for Kerry in November. I'd rather cast it for the Libertarian candidate, but I live in a swing state. And every vote does count.
God help me, but I think that's what I'm going to do.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Socially liberal and fiscally conservative? Then same-sex marriage is a two-fer. According to an authoritative CBO report, allowing for marriage rights for gay couples would affect outlays "by less than $50 million a year in either direction through 2009 and reduce them by about $100 million to $200 million annually from 2010 through 2014." Cut spending and advance civil rights. No wonder today's Republicans are so opposed.
And that, as they say, is that.
Why the neo-cons got me P.Oed enough to leave the GOP.
- 9.6 BILLION for a tobacco "buyout?" Yet another freakin' subsidy pushed by W. Either you make a living growing crops or you don't. The government has no business propping up this stuff. It encourages an expenditure of resources (human, monetary, material) in a field where the return is negative. And costs the rest of us in either higher taxes or a higher national debt.
- $169 million in tax credits for Puerto Rican rum: .... ..... I can't even comment on this. It's so mind-boggling I can't even wrap my head around it. Do you mean to say that we are essentially propping up the rum industry in PR to the tune of 169 million dollars?? It's freaking RUM! If you can't sell booze profitably, you're doing it wrong.
- The tax rate cut for manufacturing: This will blatantly distort the business economy, forcing businesses to restructure to qualify for the cut. This is a sop tossed at key states like PA and OH that Bush needs in November but have lost manufacturing jobs. Much like the steel tariff, it's economics gone awry, mucking up the order of things. Better to simply lower the corporate tax rate across the board. Of course, since they all are HQed overseas, it's not like we'd be losing much money anyways...
I look at these items, and it's like the GOP is channeling 70s style Democrat economic theory. What the Hell are they thinking??
There is still a decent chance we can make Iraq work. A major reason being the exemplary quality and dedication of our armed forces, doing two and three jobs at a time to help the Iraqis build a new country.
But another piece that could make it work is the amazing speech Paul Bremer apparently gave when he left Iraq. I read about this at Andrew Sullivan's excellent site (link on the left), but wanted to include it here. It comes from a blog written by an Iraqi in Iraq named Omar. The address is http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/:
The hall was busy and everyone was chatting and laughing loud. They had Al-Jazeera on (something I never managed to convince them to stop doing). Then suddenly Mr. Bremer appeared on TV reading his last speech before he left Iraq. I approached the TV to listen carefully to the speech, as I expected it to be difficult in the midst of all that noise. To my surprise everyone stopped what they were doing and started watching as attentively as I was.
The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! "Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying." One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said "He's going to make me cry!"
Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic, "A'ash Al-Iraq, A'ash Al-Iraq, A'ash Al-Iraq"! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).
I was deeply moved by this great man’s words but I couldn't prevent myself from watching the effect of his words on my friends who some of them were anti-Americans and some were skeptic, although some of them have always shared my optimism. I found that they were touched even more deeply than I was. I turned to one friend who was a committed She'at and who distrusted America all the way. He looked as if he was bewitched, and I asked him, "So, what do you think of this man? Do you still consider him an invader?" My friend smiled, still touched and said, "Absolutely not! He brought tears to my eyes. God bless him."
Another friend approached me. This one was not religious but he was one of the conspiracy theory believers. He put his hands on my shoulders and said smiling, "I must admit that I'm beginning to believe in what you've been telling us for months and I’m beginning to have faith in America. I never thought that they will hand us sovereignty in time. These people have shown that they keep their promises."
Now, what Bremer did was amazing. The Arab culture places immense weight on actions like this. And as you can read from the reactions in the room, it had its intended effect. The more cynical among us may think it was purely done for political reasons. I'll believe it was done from respect until I am shown otherwise.
A'ash Al-Iraq, Omar. Your dream of a free country is slowly becoming reality.
PS - Why wasn't this speech even remotely covered in the US press? I'm not asking for front-page coverage. But if Nick Berg's dad ranting about the falsity of the turnover gets press, so should this speech.
Ensuring that future enlistment goals are never met, the Army is now involuntarily recalling 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers to active duty. Where are they going? Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, men and women who haven't been active duty for some time will be inserted into war zones, while full-time active front-line troops sit on their asses in Germany and other points global.
I understand that technically the Army can do this, but they are apparently unconcerned with the long-term blowback. I will wager a healthy sum that future levels of enlistment and enrollment in the Army and the Reserve will plummet by at least 30% after the way they have abused the Reserve and NG units.
These latest "recruits" haven't even been training at all. They could have been out-of-service for over 10 years, and can be dragged back in. This is just wrong.
Monday, June 28, 2004
In one of Bush's smartest moves of his administration (insert "It's a short list" joke here), the interim Iraqi government has assumed power 48 hours ahead of schedule. This was a stroke of genius, as it throws off the insurgent's timetable completely. They undoubtedly had plans for June 30. Now Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is in power and Paul Bremer is on his way home.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. First up is the turnover of Hussein and his lackeys to the new government. I'm kind of opposed to this, not because I think the new government won't prosecute, but I'm afraid Hussein will be be busted out. We'll have to see.
The other thing to watch is the possible imposition of martial law. This would be a boon to stuffing the insurgency, but could be damaging to the nascent freedom the Iraqis are enjoying. Also, Allawi isn't allowed to tamper with the Constitution before full elections in January, 2005. How that could affect the possibility of martial law will play a big part in what happens.
But for now, and important step has been taken in turning Iraq back over to the Iraqis.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Watching Meet the Press this morning, I think Gloria Ifill from PBS summed up 9/11 very well in two points.
- He is a very talented filmmaker, not a documentarian: She made the point that he is an expert at taking a piece here and a piece there that is true, and then saying about the whole "How can it NOT be true?" Which is not the same as proving it is true.
Personally, I think Moore is probably the most talented propagandist since Leni Riefenstahl. And I am not calling him a Nazi. What I am saying is he has an amazing talent for manipulating facts into saying something more than they are, usually by butressing them with falsehoods and half-truths. I base this on "Bowling for Columbine", not 9/11 since I have not seen the whole film.
If you have seen Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will," you'll understand my point. Nothing she films is false. The rally happened. But through the use of lighting, camera angles and selective viewing, she creates a version of Hitler that is completely divorced from reality. And she did it so well that the US banned "Triumph" from being shown here.
Likewise, Moore films things that happen. But he selectively chooses what is shown to create a larger version of reality that is not supportable. One of the clips I have seen in 9/11 is the montage of Iraqi flying kites and drinking coffee before the US bombing began. Now, were there Iraqis doing those actions? Of course. But Moore supplies no context of the horrific regime running Iraq, the daily abuses, government-sanctioned murder, the constant fear. He creates a version of reality that is at odds with actual reality. And does it quite well.
The reason this matters is that he tries to pass this film off as fact, a statement he made on The Daily Show ("These are facts. These are the facts.") And they aren't. This is his version of the facts. It is not a documentary. Documentaries show both sides and present facts, regardless of how it affect the filmaker(s) original POV (at least good documentaries do.) It should be obvious to all that Moore doesn't do this. And I know it's going to be submitted as such for an Oscar, which is BS. It should be submitted for a Best Film nod.
- It won't sway anyone come November: As Gloria said, liberals will leave hating Bush, conservatives will leave hating Moore, and the 7-8% of undecided moderates will leave waiting to hear the debates in October before making up their minds. That sounds about right.
And I don't think I have ever seen such a whiny bastard as Moore. He is the most hyper-sensitive man on the face of the earth. He is threatening to sue people who criticize him or his film. If anyone questions his film, he immediately turns on the interviewer without addressing the question. If you say anything critical about him, If you're going to throw stones, pal, be prepared to get a few back. Otherwise, stick to a safer medium like kids films.
Moore is obviously talented. But as a crafter of propaganda, not documentaries.