Wednesday, September 28, 2005

BBC: Tom Delay Stepping Down To Answer Indictment

This sent me into a brief frenzy when I first read it. Hopefully, this will be a landmark development in the case to expose the criminality in much of partisan politics all over this nation.

Another observation I have, brought on by the defensive claims from the office of Mr. Delay, is that perhaps at least one or two of the people condemned over the centuries of witch-hunting, were actually putting some hexes and curses on people.

I encourage all interested parties to reserve judgement and let the system do its job, but I say in the same breath that I am glad I will not serve on the jury. The only reason that this might be tinged with some partisanship, is that everything involving Mr. Delay, since he quit killing bugs for a living, has been chiefly composed of partisan politics.

Go Here to read the indictment.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Until Exile gets around to giving me administrator rights on this blog, I'm forced to make my own posts to respond to his... so here goes:

I think College Republicans are more organized—but I think they're also largely ineffective. In an election year, we are more effective at mobilizing college kids to do things that are useful—walking close districts, making phone calls, etc.—while the Dems are more effective at getting kids to take part in massive protests, and pass resolutions demanding change.

I think this is also more reflective of the Party status at the national level. Republicans are still used to being the minority Party, so they've figured out how to win elections if at all possible. Dems are used to being in power, and being able to flex their idealism. As a result, any organization of the party's youth—usually the most ideal—devolves into an effort to express their views. They think that by screaming as loud as they can, they'll win back the people. Unfortunately for them, elections are not won by expressing your point, they are won by effective strategy, fundraising, and carrying it out quietly.

In off years, that makes College Republicans look bad—as they do right now. But when the chips are down, they're where the campaign needs them.

Washington Monthly: College Democrats v. College Republicans

I have found all of this to be true especially the parts about College Republicans being more focused and ruthless and about College Democrats being more fun and ineffectual. If only political maneuvering did not have such high stakes, it could be so much more enjoyable.

Newsday: Republicans and the Bush Presidency

A very interesting take on "compassionate conservatism" and the reasons why the current admninstration may continue to thrive in the wake of recent political disasters. I, for one, hope that Democratic strategists will do a better study of how to use political currents to retake balance in Congress than they did in 2002. However, if the current GOP domination helps to break the two party choke-hold on government by proving that the corruption accompanying unbridled political power will always outweigh any desire to do good, than perhaps that could be good in the long run. We shall see.

Washington Post: Growing Anger in War Opposition

This provides a good cross section of war opposition. Opponents come from many places, some from the suburbs and some from the battlefield, but the shared anger and dissatisfaction seems to be stronger and have more longevity than some anicipated. These soldiers, mothers, and others should be commended because the struggle to change the culture of war can only be won with people who are willing to do the long, hard, and unglamorous fighting longer than the people who think we need war to survive.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Economist: Social Democracy in Latin America

This opinion piece highlights the ways in which developing countries can help themselves. Conservative foreign policy dictates that the United States encourage states to find their own solutions to social and economic problems without relying so much on foreign aid and programs administered by foriegn powers. I hope that these type of programs will engender support and terms like "cash transfers" and "social democracy" will not be targets for instinctual charges of Bolshevism.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NY Times: Still Waiting for Leadership on Darfur

I cannot comment on this matter any better than Nicholas Kristof has done. Just because many of us have forgotten about the genocide being perpetrated in Sudan, that does not mean it has abated. Change will only come when attention brings pressure to bear on those in a position to effect change.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Washington Post: Our Rules vs. The Poor

As usual, William Raspberry gives percipient analysis of the context of a grave social problem; in this case, the prevalence of anti-social behavior in poor communities. This short study of looting in Post-Katrina New Orleans and the commentary of University students reveals something interesting about the gap between rich and poor in America. The rules which govern those who see themselves in a desperate struggle for survival are in fact different from those who do not. This is the likely the shortest piece of essential reading for any who seek to make educated comment on the current state of affairs among the urban poor in America and potential methods of improvement.

BBC: Spanish Raid on Neo-Nazi Cells"

This is a side of the current war that does not get much air play. In America, it seems that many have forgotten the terrorist groups that struck us in the last decade who did not ascribe to the doctrine of Usama, but still killed many Americans brutally. I am glad to know that Spain, who many have criticised for removal of troops from Iraq, remembers its duty to protect all of its citizens from terrorist organizations. I would be even more glad to read a report like this about the FBI in the Washington Post. So please America, let's "get on it".

Thursday, September 15, 2005

BBC: Global Dissatisfaction with Government is Healthy Sign

An interesting statement of the popular views on government. The results in these polls seem quite intuitive when I first looked at them. However, at second glance I was a bit puzzled at the numbers regarding fair elections. I feel that many of the dissatisfied may come as much from the United States as from Egypt or Russia. This comparison relies on a bit of exaggeration, but I think it is important to contemplate the relationship between our dissatisfaction with Congress and the White House acting in the public interest and according to the public will to the electoral process that creates such pronounced partisan rivalries.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Due Diligence: Coburn Caught on Tape Failing America

At first this story amused me, then it made me a bit mad, and finally just sad. This is not the worst instance of why our grand experiment is in peril, but demonstrates the point just the same. Because the truth of the matter is, why should a partisan like Coburn care about what happens in these hearings? All that matters is his steadfast support for the man the president has chosen. As I have said, I think Judge Roberts will be confirmed with relative comfort, but I hope and pray that these hearings and all current affairs in our nation, will make people give pause and think about what things are really wrong the United States and how we can fix them. I think one good beginning would be to make sure Sen. Coburn (R-OK) is not present in the hearings for the next Supreme Court nominee.

NY Times: Norway Elects Red-Green Ruling Coalition

If it is good enough for the "most posperous nation on earth" perhaps it would be good for the gander as well. Please forgive my sentimental attatchment to Scandinavian socialism, but you must admit that their track record is nothing at which to sneer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

BBC: Bush Accepts a Share of Responsibility

This is real progress, but is still a sign of the troubled times for American politics that this comes as such a coup and seems a profound surprise to so many, or at the very least me. Following the resignation of Michael Brown from FEMA, this development seems like a small, but nonetheless welcome, breath of fresh air for those of us who have been disgusted overall by the public approach of the administration to reacting to criticism. I hope that it is a sign of more good things to come, but history has taught me to be cautious.

WETA: Senate Confirmation Hearings on Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts

This channel is giving exceptionally good coverage of these hearings. For the most part there is uninterruped coverage of questioning by senators and great commentary by Tom Oliphant and David Brooks among others. I would like to highlight Senators Russ Feingld (D - Wisc.), Charles Schumer (D - NY), and Lindsey Graham (R - SC), for their purposeful and thoughtful questions to the nominee. I would also like to compliment Judge Roberts for his composure under fire, willingness to be cooperative with somewhat contentious questioning, and grace in the public eye. While I am still harbor concerns, but not doubts, about his willingness and/or ability, to ensure that politics will have no place on the court under him as Chief Justice, I think his confirmation will ultimately go smoothly and hope it will be a notable positive development during this politcal era. Anybody interested in understanding the confirmation process and the current controversy concerning the philosophical direction of the Supreme Court should endeavor to observe these hearings by whatever means are available and to NOT simply trust the commentary of the legions of political commentators in the newsmedia and internet bloggers to form an opinion [read: legal means].

Bull Moose: Close to Progress At Long Last

While Bush certainly will not admit any failing on his part regarding Michael Brown's tenure as the Director of FEMA, he did make a big step by accepting the resignation of a figure whose deficiency had endagered Americans. I find it lamentable that this first big symbol of rational self-assesment has come at a time when it was politically expedient, because that will only give further ammunition to the divisive elements on the left. However, it is progress, kind of, so it should be greeted with some genuine pleasure. Now if only there were somebody to tell W that he was doing a "heck of a job."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Washington Monthly: The Direction of FEMA

This post provides some interesting facts about the role that FEMA ought to have played , and hopefully now is fulfilling, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As I have said before, I think that partisan hostility is counterproductive in this situation, and I like that this article acknowledges the balance in the failures of various levels of government.

The real reason I took special attention and wanted to share this post was to highlight the previous director of FEMA, Joe Allbaugh, and part of his testimony from May 2001. It is fairly unambiguous and frightens me to realize that he was actually in charge of deciding the courses of action to take in serious crises for about a year:

"Many are concerned that Federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective State and local risk management. Expectations of when the Federal Government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level. We must restore the predominant role of State and local response to most disasters. Federal assistance needs to supplement, not supplant, State and local efforts."

I am struck by the common GOP criticism of "entitlement program[s]" being applied to emergency management and disaster assistance. If Mr. Allbaugh really felt that Americans and the federal system had become overly dependent on the federal government to take the key role in protecting them from fires, floods, hurricanes, etc., then I wonder what his boss thought and still thinks. Will he tell us?

Washinton Post: Against Racial Profiling

Willliam Raspberry writes a great piece pointing out the problems with racial profiling, especially regarding efficacy and serious civil rights implications. He also draws a great point about the reasons why the public should question the qualifications and motives of those who are now endorsing racial/ethnic profiling.

C-SPAN aired a stupendous panel, conducted at Georgetown Law, on the subject with an official from the Dept. of Homeland Security and several other experts. It featured some very insightful observations from Ahmed Younis, Director of MPAC. It was interesting for somebody who already understands why profiling is ineffective and dangerous but does not yet comprehend why it garners so much support.